Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, although I'd happily snog Jareth within an inch of his life given half a chance. :)
Warning: Mature content. This story includes adult themes, sexual references and consensual violence. If these things offend you, do not read any further.
THE TIES THAT BIND
"It has been too long, old friend."
Jareth looked up, lips curled in a smile as he saw the speaker. Nodding, he acknowledged the red-haired woman who greeted him. "A little less of the 'old' business if you don't mind. Might I remind you that you are older than I am, Siobhan?"
With a sly twinkle in her pale blue eyes she took in the sight of him, the careless fall of his long, pale blond hair framing an angular, aristocratic face. In the black leather pants and grey silk shirt he looked many things – regal, aloof, imposing, dangerous and most importantly of all, sensual – just what her party needed to shake things up.
"Too right, Sire, but we have been friends for what seems like forever," she replied, with a wave of her hand, "And you never seem to change."
"So what brings you back Above and to the Libertine, m'Lord," Siobhan enquired, tucking her hand into his arm. The small woman peered through the crowd through violet tinted glasses, guiding him through the club with practiced ease, the mass of bodies parting to make way for them, with many bowing to her as they passed. He frowned slightly knowing that they bowed in deference to her, not him and this was not the norm in his world.
With a soft laugh Jareth shrugged. "The usual. Boredom. Really, there are only so many times that you can abuse goblins before you begin to question your sanity and when you are surrounded by goblins day in and day out, questioning your sanity is never a good idea."
"I had hoped at least your club might offer a more interesting and perhaps delectable diversion, if only for an evening," he said blithely, mismatched eyes of pale blue and deep brown glinting sharply with mischief. If a diversion was what he wanted, then Libertine was the place to find it he thought, coolly surveying the people they passed.
In one corner, a girl clad in a black leather corset, stockings and little else was bound to a pole, the group around her teasing her skin with feathers as she shivered and gasped. Peering to the right, he noted a leather clad young man kneeling placidly at the feet of an imposing looking woman who appeared to be showing off a plaited flogger to another man, pausing to demonstrate it's use upon the back of the kneeling man. All around them club members were engaged in various activities, the sounds of both pleasure and pain throbbing through the rooms, melding with the trance music pounding from the club's speakers.
Raising an eyebrow, she paused to look at him. "Hmm. And were you intending to participate tonight, or keep your usual seat in the shadows to observe?"
In all the years he had visited her club, she had never known him to actively participate in any of the scenes that occurred, although being the good hostess she was, she always asked and had even offered up her own submissives should he be so inclined to play.
"Max is lurking about feeling neglected as usual since I am busy seeing to the affairs of the club and making sure things run smoothly," she continued. "And Sophia is around somewhere, no doubt being the tease she is."
Acknowleding the offer, Jareth gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head, "Thank you, but no. I am content to continue observing."
"As you wish, Sire, although I wonder what you get from coming here merely to watch."
"What is the phrase they use Above? 'Sensual is using a feather, kinky is using the whole chicken?'" He grimaced. "If you knew what goblins did with whole chickens, you would find observing at a kink club a refreshing change of pace too," he retorted, a low chuckle rumbling from his throat.
Jareth's chuckle was interrupted when he noticed a large, but oddly quiet crowd of people, peering intently at a couple in the corner of the room. A tall man with shaggy dark hair swung the single tailed whip off to his side, before letting it fly again, targeting the young woman bound to the wall before him. The whip set forth another resounding crack, as the young woman flinched. The cracking of the whip causing several members of the audience to gasp and pull back.
In watching the scene, Jareth was transfixed by the image of the girl being whipped. Her head hung forward toward the wall, a heavy veil of dark hair falling softly to hide her face from view. The blows of the whip landed upon her exposed shoulders, the rest of her torso encased in a crisp white satin corset dress. His eyes grazed down her body, taking in the gentle curve of her ass, leading to long legs caressed by white silk stockings, her pale skin marked in angry welts as each sting of the whip fell. Knowing full well how much the whip must hurt, he was amazed by the stoic silence of the woman, who did not utter so much as a single gasp or whimper with each strike. The only hint of her torment being the twisting sway of her bound form.
"Who is she?" he asked, unable to tear his gaze away from her.
Smiling, Siobhan nodded toward the couple. "Good eye Sire. She is known within in the club merely as 'Owl'. Only a select few know her mundane name, and even fewer know her story. She is harboring a sadness she is reluctant to name, even to those of us who know her best." Siobhan's eyes softened, "And Gods know I have tried to get the story from her."
With a slight frown Siobhan further surveyed the scene, before continuing, "He on the other hand is Derick, someone who is prone to dangerous impulses. I warned that girl not to take up with him. Either I did not make myself clear or she is blatantly disobeying."
Jareth glanced surreptiously at Siobhan. "Do you have the power to control her? Have you claimed her as yours?"
"No, I have my hands full with my own pets. However, I was her sponser to the club. Her university roommate brought her to me for hypnosis based on some dreams she has been having. Based on what we discovered, I thought she might be able to exorcise some of her inner demons with kink, although her judgment tonight seems to be flawed." Pausing, Siobhan inclined her head as if considering the scene before them, a firm edge set to her lips as she pronounced, "I might have to reconsider her membership or put her on restricted privileges if she won't listen when she is warned off certain play partners."
A steely voice cut through the room, the command punctuated by a loud crack as the whip struck home once more.
"Give in, bitch."
"You can't keep quiet forever. You know I will win your challenge, so cry for me and let's finish this."
Jareth peered through the crowd at the scene, seeing more red welts appearing on the white flesh of the girl. "What is the challenge?"
Siobhan's eyes carefully surveyed the play before answering quietly, "Owl is lovely and spirited, too much so in some ways. Many of the dominants have tried to claim her as theirs, but she refuses all offers. Several weeks ago in a fit of peak she taunted them by laying down a challenge – whoever can make her cry out will have first right of claiming her. Now each week she arrives to the club, and several dominants try to win the challenge. This is Derick's third attempt."
"Doesn't look like he has learned his lesson yet," Jareth drawled, both amused and disturbed by his persistence. "Isn't the definition of insanity, repeating the same thing hoping for different results?"
"Hmmm. While I agree with you, the problem for Owl and for me as the hostess, is that Derick has a short fuse and is likely to go too far since she is not playing by his perceived rules. In his world she should have submitted to him weeks ago and now be over him."
Watching intently, Jareth noticed that the woman was holding a red scarf in her right hand, gripping it tightly in her fist as the blows rained upon her shoulders faster. One particularly brutal swing exploded against the back of her neck, blossoming in a line of crimson as the delicate skin split, his gaze riveted as a glistening drop of blood stained her creamy flesh. As if in slow motion, the girl shuddered deeply, her slender fingers releasing the silk scarf to let it drift to the floor.
Seeing the scarf pool on the floor, Siobhan cursed darkly and moved quickly toward the front of the crowd. In the time it took her to arrive at the front, two more blows fell on Owl's shoulders, drawing two more crimson lines on her flesh.
"Derick, you will stop now if you ever want to enter the doors of this club again," demanded Siobhan, blue eyes snapping violently as she jerked the whip from his hands on his next backswing, before tossing it to Max. "She dropped the red scarf. You know the rules – all play stops at that point."
Derick spun around to face Siobhan, a protest spilling from his lips. "She was going to cry out, if you hadn't interfered. By rights that bitch is now mine!"
"No, she isn't. You broke the club rules and her negotiated boundaries. She didn't utter a single sound, so the challenge is still good. Now get out of my sight or so help me you will be banished."
With a dark look in Owl's direction, Derick gathered his bag and shoved his way through the crowd. Siobhan glowered at his retreating form before striding to the girl, swiftly untying the ropes that bound her to the wall. Her hands gently helped the girl stand up straight, as she murmured softly to Max, who quickly left the room. Siobhan lifted the girl's face upward, murmuring quietly as the girl nodded in reply. Patting the girl's cheek in a motherly fashion, Siobhan steered the girl away from the wall.
Stepping away from the wall, Owl lifted her hands and gingerly flipped the heavy curtain of dark hair away from her face as she stood holding her head high, her emerald eyes daring anyone else to take up the challenge. The girl silently followed Siobhan back through the crowd toward the stairs leading to the quiet lounges.
Jareth looked on in shock as the pair passed him… it couldn't be.
"Sarah…" he whispered in disbelief.