Disclaimer: I don't own Labyrinth, Jareth or The Pants. I don't own Sarah either, but I'm happy to let her roam free—the others, not so much. No copyright was harmed in the making of this sordid tale.
Rating: M (for adult themes, sensuality & non-explicit stuff not appropriate for younger eyes)
Warnings: Dark. Just…not the way most of us want to see this pairing come together. (NO noncon, though! However, if you count seduction as dubcon, then be warned.)
Summary: He can have her in their shared dreams, but is it enough? Obsession can be a dangerous thing.

A/N: It's not funny, it's not fluffy, it doesn't end with "happily ever after," and it's rated "M"? Whut? Are you sure you're reading a startraveller776 Laby-fic? *checks self* Yep. That's me, crushing your hopes for a laughfest with a sufficient number of happy moments. I have some more stories of that ilk left in me, don't worry. But this story grabbed me by the lapels and demanded that I write it first.

Though not inspired by it, I did write this story with "Addicted" by Kelly Clarkson on repeat.

As always, if this resembles another tale out there, it was unintentional. It should be noted that this yarn features a grown-up Sarah (since I don't mention a timeline in the tale). Special thanks to Surelady for helping me polish this fic. I highly recommend you check out her story, "Alternative Payment." It's in my favorites!

Just a Dream

"It's just a dream, just a harmless dream," he says to her every time she asks. It's nothing more, he tells himself when he closes his eyes. It doesn't count. It's not real.

He can have her here, hold her as they talk for hours about nothing and everything. He can stroke his fingers through her dark hair while she laughs at something he says. Here, they aren't separated by the impenetrable divide between their worlds. Here, they are merely man and woman, making the most of each precious minute they share.

He can take her here as well, and he grins at the way she shivers when his lips graze the soft skin of her shoulder. He groans in pleasure as her hands travel his body; she gasps when he explores hers.

"Just a dream," he whispers each time she hesitates to complete their joining. "Just a harmless dream." He sees brilliant color when she relents—she always does—and soars with the feel of her as they accelerate toward oblivion.

It's just a dream, he reminds himself when he wakes up feeling empty without her presence. He ignores his guilt when he sees the red-gold curls of his wife. Just a dream, a harmless dream. It doesn't count. He hasn't done anything wrong. If he feels less interested in the woman next to him, it's only the natural course of marriage. He chooses not to remember that he's been with his nighttime apparition for just as long; and her, he can never have enough of.

At night, his lover's dark tresses fall over his shoulder as she soaks his chest with her tears. "I can't do this anymore," she says. "Not anymore."

He brushes a finger across her lips. "Don't weep." He kisses her forehead. "It's just a dream." He's afraid, though—afraid that he's losing her all over again. "Just a dream," he murmurs again. "Stay with me."

She's not there the next time he closes his eyes. She's not waiting for him, ready to tell her tales from her day, or to lean against him and kiss him with her rosebud lips. It's been a week, two, three, more, and he's stopped smiling. He's withdrawn, irritable, smashes crystals against the stone walls of his home, trying to find release for the avalanche of unyielding need that grows inside of him. His wife moves out of their chambers, and he doesn't miss having her warm body next to his each night. He misses the one he no longer has.

It's just a dream; it shouldn't hold any power over him. He shouldn't hunger for it, thirst for her, but the longer she stays away, the more he believes he'll be consumed by madness. The ache of their separation drives him to cross the boundary into her world, to search for her. He loses track of time; it doesn't matter how long it takes to find her. She's among friends when he sees her. She's smiling, laughing, but her green eyes are tired, haunted—hollow. It's enough, he tells himself. It's enough to have seen her.

His wife stops taking meals with him, and he doesn't care. He spends as much time as he can observing the only woman he desires. And yet, it's not enough to merely hear the sound of her voice, to witness her smile when she's with others. He wants her to smile for him. He waits until she's alone, and approaches from the shadows.

"Don't be afraid," he says in a soothing voice when her eyes widen. "I just want to talk, nothing more." And they do. He feels less empty when she looks at him, speaks with him. It's enough.

It's been one month, two, three, and they haven't touched—even in the chaste manner that propriety demands. (He is not the only one married to another, after all.) It's not enough. He misses the feel of her silken hair falling through his fingers, the touch of her hand in his. He caresses her jaw, twirls a lock of her hair.

"Don't worry," he whispers when she turns away with crimson cheeks. "We're just friends."

His wife leaves him, demands a dissolution of their marriage—something unorthodox among his people. He doesn't fight it. He should feel guilty for never loving her, not the way she deserves, but he feels relieved, lighter. He wants to celebrate with his green-eyed beauty from another world. Just as friends.

They picnic in a secluded wood, holding hands and murmuring softly. I can't. He wars with himself as he stares at her perfect lips. The hunger grows, gnaws at him. He needs to taste her, feel her move beneath him. Just once. Just once and he'll be satisfied. Only once. It will be enough.

"I can't," she says as he kisses her neck.

Her breath catches, and he knows she wants him as much as he needs her. She hesitates when he lays her on the blanket. He pleads with his eyes, trying to make her understand that he burns, that he will be charred into nothing if she doesn't quench the unrelenting flame. She nods and opens herself to him. He feels whole again.

Just once. Only once more. The dreams were gossamer shadows compared to what it's like to have her in reality. Each sensation sends him into the heavens, each taste more delicious than the finest cuisine. The world becomes grey, devoid of flavor, and he can't sleep, he can't eat until her body is pressed against his. Just once, he tells himself, just one more time and he'll be satisfied. He can't breathe anymore unless he's inside of her, until he's making her cry out his name. It's not enough. It's never enough.

He grows more possessive, angry that another man keeps her from him. Their lovemaking becomes more intense, more desperate, as if he could devour her and make her a part of him for eternity. She weeps afterward, cradled against his chest, and he wants to stop, wants to promise her that it won't happen again. But when he's not with her, the hunger overwhelms him, chokes him until he comes back again, takes her again, breathes again. He's destroying her. And it still isn't enough.

He plans, conjures a dark scheme that will free her and send her into his arms permanently. He's becoming the villain he played for her once—worse, more deviant—but he doesn't care. Whatever it takes to have her, to bring her home with him, he's willing to do it. Whatever it takes to end the hunger that grips him like a vice when he's away from her. Whatever it takes.

He waits for them, appears with all of his power and majesty, holding her husband's dreams in his fingertips. "Just a crystal," he says, "nothing more. But if you turn it this way…"

"Don't do this," she begs—whether she's begging him or her husband, he doesn't know.

Her plea cuts him, slashes his heart. Why is she always choosing another over him? Why does she give him her time, her body, her soul, but stays with that mortal? The course is set now, and he will win this time, no matter her desperate cries. Whatever it takes.

"Look, just look." He holds the crystal before the eyes of the other man, and watches as curiosity dances in them. The fool doesn't understand that with one look at his dreams he will be lost, and he is lost. It's over in seconds.

He goes to collect her from where she collapsed to the floor in quiet sobs. "Don't cry, beloved." He holds her close. "He wasn't worthy of you."

She shoves away from him, accusation in her emerald eyes as she slaps him hard across the face. He is stunned for a moment, confused by her reaction. Doesn't she love him? Isn't she grateful that he took away her guilt?

"I hate you!" she screams, and rage overtakes him.

He grabs her by the wrists, yanks her to him, and whisks them away to his world. "You are mine!" he yells. "Forever!" He sends her to chambers of her own, leaves her there, wailing and pounding against the door. She will understand eventually, he tells himself. She will remember what they share and love him again.

One year passes, two, three, more. She is his queen in name only. She attends court with him, beautiful and terrible in her cruelty. She is carved from ice with dead green eyes and rosebud lips that never smile. Every night she bars her door from him, unmoved by the need that still suffocates him, even years later. He is forced to quench the fire with other women, but it's not enough. None of them are her. Those aren't her eyes looking up at him with rapt pleasure, or her body arching against his. He hates them, hates himself for needing to use them, hates her for rejecting him.

More years pass, and he makes war. He conquers without mercy, leaving brutality and horror in his wake. Each time he leaves to be at the head of a campaign, she tells him that she hopes he doesn't return, that he dies in agony on the battlefield. Her words are delivered without passion, as if he isn't worth the effort. She doesn't understand or care that she speaks his secret hope—that a bolt from a crossbow will obliterate his heart and end his misery. He always survives, though, always comes back to his frozen queen, until he can find an excuse to attack another kingdom.

If she would only smile at him once. Just one smile would rescue him from this hell. She never does.

It was just a dream. Just a dream that became his nightmare.


A/N: Yeah, not such a happy story. Phew! Glad I got that out of my system. I'd love to hear what you thought if you made it all the way to the end. I gladly accept all kinds of reviews, even anonymous ones!