AN: I was inspired to write this story after seeing kate18chan's festive picture on Deviant Art (you can check it out through the link is in my profile). I should have had this posted last week, but boring real life unfortunately took precedent. Hope you're all still in a seasonal enough mood to enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Labyrinth isn't mine. Fine, I'll build one of my own and kidnap David Bowie so he can prance around there in tight pants…. Haha! Only joking…. (or am I…?) *cue maniacal laughter*
Sarah wouldn't have believed it unless she had seen it with her own eyes.
It had been a Williams' family tradition to visit Santa's grotto at the huge Henderson's Toy Store next to the shopping mall every year just a few days before Christmas and, despite the fact that Robert and Karen Williams had managed to get themselves stuck on one of their impromptu last minute cruises, Sarah was determined to keep the tradition alive for Toby's sake. She had promised him that they would still have an amazing Christmas just the two of them and she would be damned if anything was going to spoil that.
That included Goblin Kings.
Sarah raised herself up on her tiptoes from where she was queuing with all the other kids and their parents, awaiting their turn with Santa. Except this Santa was a bit different than the normal kind.
"And have you been a good boy this year?" the silky baritone could be heard just above the din of excited, chattering children. "In fact, no need to answer that, my fine fellow. I can already tell that you've been especially good. So much so that Santa will grant you a special Christmas wish."
"Really? Aw wow!" The young boy balanced on Santa's knee clapped his hands and made no effort to conceal his excitement. Santa, who was dressed in an exceptionally well tailored red suit of a deep wine colour, smiled charmingly at the boy through his rather convincing looking long white beard.
"All you have to say is…. I wish. And then Santa will do his very best to grant your request – no matter what your dreams may be." The twinkle in the eyes might have been mistaken for benevolent good humoured make-believe, all in the name of delighting a child. But Sarah recognised that particular twinkle and knew exactly what it meant.
The absolute effrontery of the man – to masquerade in one of the most innocent guises imaginable and then openly offer young children their dreams; never suspecting for a minute that any wish they made with a Goblin King would come with a price.
Sarah looked at the faces of the parents and could see that no one else apparently sensed any danger. Indeed, now that she was really looking… she noticed that there appeared to be quite a lot of women in the queue, and even a few groups of giggling teenagers. She also noticed that Santa's little elves were made up of mostly young women who were lingering around Santa, ready to be helpful with anything he might need help with…
"The Santa they have this year is really cool, huh Sarah? Even if he isn't fat the way he's meant to be, and his red suit is the wrong shade… kinda like a really dark red, like blood or something. It's awesome!" Toby grinned, staring in wide-eyed wonder at the bizarre and otherworldly Santa; he was clearly drawn by the same thrall that was affecting everyone else.
This was bad. In Sarah's opinion, Jareth could only be playing one of his nasty tricks and nothing good would come from it. And what was he doing here anyway? Was this the only toy store in the whole of America that he could infiltrate? Unlikely – when it came to the Goblin King, there was no such thing as coincidences.
They were approaching the front of the line now and Sarah was forced to watch child after child whisper
their "Christmas wishes" to a supposedly benign man in a Santa suit. Upon closer inspection she could see that not only was Jareth enticing the children to make wishes, he was also conjuring crystal orbs for them like a magic trick and handing them out as keep-sakes. She watched the unsuspecting children skip happily out of the grotto clutching the prized objects to their chests and had to physically restrain herself from attempting anything as foolish as snatching the gifts away from them.
The moment it was their turn, Sarah didn't hesitate before marching out in front of Toby. "You stay here, Tobes. I'm going to have a quick turn with Santa." She strode up the small hill covered in fake snow where Jareth was seated in a high golden chair, holding court like the king he was. She speared him with her eyes, flashing bright green with self-righteous fury. He practically licked his lips in anticipation.
However, her path was suddenly blocked by one of Santa's little helpers, an attractive blonde with too much pink lip gloss. "Hey lady, this is for kids only," she sneered prettily. "What are you, like thirty?"
"You're never too old for Christmas." Sarah muttered angrily, pushing the horrible teenager aside with barely a backward glance. She had bigger fish to fry.
Jareth beamed at her as she came to a stop next to his chair. "Now, now, you'll have to turn that frown upside down if you want to get any presents this year."
"What do you think you're doing?" She hissed at him, trying to keep her voice low.
"I'm spreading Christmas cheer. Bringing joy and happiness to little children the world over. Or at least, the ones that visit this particular store."
"As opposed to your usual job occupation, you mean. Although, funnily enough, I've noticed that you seem to be mixing the two. What gave you that vile idea?"
Jareth's demeanour changed infinitesimally, becoming darker and more potent, as he reached out a black leather gloved hand to her. "Come and sit on me, Sarah… and I'll tell you all about it." He had a twinkle in his eyes again – but of a very different kind.
"Whu– Uh, no. There is no way I'm doing that." She really hoped that tingly sensation on her cheeks was not a blush.
"You had better, sweetheart, if you want to continue our delightful conversation. The locals are starting to look agitated."
Sarah glanced behind her and sure enough the bitchy helper elves, as well as the queue of parents, all had frowns of either confusion or annoyance on their faces. If she didn't want to make a scene she would have to play along. With a fake smile and a quiet sigh under her breath, she perched on Jareth's knee, keeping body contact to the absolute bare minimum.
Jareth had other ideas.
Before she could even get herself situated he had his arm firmly around her waist and was drawing her right up to his side, until she was practically resting against his chest.
"Jareth! Don't hold me so tightly, that's only going to attract even more attention." Sarah attempted to squirm away as discreetly as possible but was hardly able to create even an inch of space, and her antics only seemed to amuse Jareth.
"It's you, my dear, that attracts all the attention wherever you go – even if you don't know it," he murmured in her ear.
She ignored the sensation of his voice in such close proximity and forced herself to remain still, keeping her face steadfastly turned in profile to him. "Fine, just tell me what exactly you're doing here."
"First, tell me what you'd like for Christmas?" He asked, with seemingly perfect seriousness.
"You've got to be kidding. I'm not here for that!"
"Then why are you here?" His voice had a suggestive lilt to it.
"I'm here with Toby."
"Where are those witless parents of yours?"
Sarah ignored the jibe. "They're stranded on a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean. We always visit Santa's grotto right before Christmas, so I wanted to make sure Toby could still have that. And don't think I haven't noticed the fluke twist of fate of you being here at exactly the same time."
Jareth chuckled darkly, burying just a bit more of his face into the crook of her neck. "Always so suspicious…"
Sarah jerked a little at the feeling of his white beard, so at odds with his usual appearance. "Stop – that actually tickles," she couldn't help but giggle. "Is it real?" She reached out a hand in sudden fascination to thread it through a few white strands.
"The fake one they offered me was itchy, so I made a real one of my own," he purred contentedly at the stroking sensation of her fingers. At the sound of his obvious enjoyment Sarah abruptly ceased what she was doing. It was one of the few times she had ever touched him voluntarily and she could hardly believe she had chosen a moment when she was sitting on top of him to do so. And she really didn't want to think about how surprisingly well muscled his thighs were, either.
She shot a furtive glance towards the gaggle of on-lookers, who were clearly trying to hear what was being said. "Listen, we haven't got time for games. Just tell me what you're doing to these children."
"I would be happy to divulge my nefarious scheme to you," he said with a sly smile, "but not before you tell me what you want for Christmas."
"How about you tell me your stupid scheme before I pummel you with one of these plastic reindeers? You don't want to be beaten up by a girl in front of all your groupies here, do you?" Sarah smiled sweetly at him.
He grinned with delight and she felt his warm arms squeeze her just a little bit closer. "I think I like that plan better…"
"Urgh, you would, you sadist." His chuckle reverberated far too close to her ear.
At that moment, one of the helper elves (this one with too much mascara) came up to Santa's chair and did a dramatic stage whisper. "Sorry Jerry, but we really have to move things along now. So you and your girlfriend will have to save it for later." Sarah gaped at that, and couldn't help but be irritated with the way the girl leaned her cleavage into Jareth's direct line of sight.
"I understand," he replied in acknowledgement before the girl gave him what was probably supposed to be a sultry pout, obviously not pleased with the apparent confirmation that the woman in his lap was indeed his girlfriend.
"Whu – wait, I am not his gir– " Sarah spluttered at the retreating back of the girl elf, as she headed back down to the queue of parents, but Jareth cut her off.
"Come on now, time is short. You can't sit in my lap all day, sweet pea, much as I know you'd like to," he said loud enough for everyone else to hear.
Sarah growled in frustration and embarrassment. "Fine, you wanna know what I want for Christmas?"
"I'm waiting with baited breath."
"I want you – "
" – yes I know," he interjected smugly.
"Nooo," she gritted her teeth, trying to reign in her temper, "I want you to give me a guarantee that you won't harm any of these children that you're casually handing out wishes to."
"Twisting their dreams into nightmares; throwing them into oubliettes; having them chased down dark tunnels with knife wielding machines; throwing snakes in their faces – stuff like that."
He sighed histrionically. "That's quite a lot to guarantee. Some of these children are rather horrid and deserve being taught a lesson or two. And I can't ignore my sovereign duties as a Goblin King so lightly…" he seemed to be carefully pondering his options.
"Oh don't give me that crap about your 'duties'. You create mischief because you enjoy it, plain and simple."
He favoured her with a wicked grin, pleased with how well she knew him. "All the same, my beautiful champion, I don't know if this Christmas wish will be possible… Unless of course Santa could expect to get something in return for his generosity…?"
She should have known he was building up to this; the look in his eye said it all. The Goblin King could really be quite transparent on occasion. Rather than going through the motions and telling him what a reprobate he was, Sarah settled on negotiation since she was pushed for time. "Ok, what about I babysit the goblins for a weekend?"
"You already do babysit them sometimes."
"Yea, but, this would be for a whole weekend – you could even take a trip some place, doesn't that sound exciting?"
Jareth quirked a brow at her, clearly un-convinced.
"Ok, ok, how about I clean your throne room? Now that's a pretty good offer, if you ask me. That place is absolutely rank."
He frowned, considering this. Seeing the great Sarah Williams on her hands and knees diligently scrubbing his throne would certainly be an appealing sight. "Hm… perhaps. Would there be a cute maid's outfit involved in this scenario?"
Sarah couldn't resist smacking his arm at that comment. "You are such a perv!" He laughed at her openly in response.
Before they knew it, the mascara girl was back with her hands on her hips this time in a no-nonsense pose. "Ok lovebirds, I really will have to break things up now," she turned a nasty glare on Sarah, "Get off Santa's lap so other people can have a turn."
"But wait, I haven't finished – " Sarah began in a panic.
Jareth suddenly seized her even closer to him in a supposedly intimate lover's embrace and whispered in her ear. "Very well precious, I'll grant your Christmas wish – if you grant one of mine." Flushed and trying to struggle out of his tight hold, Sarah attempted to object to his potentially compromising offer. "No time to argue. If you want me to spare the little children, then simply accept my terms by nodding your head."
Too late Sarah realised that Jareth had played her from the very beginning; by posing as Santa in this toy store knowing she would be here, knowing she would witness his under-handed scheming, and knowing exactly how she would react. He had allowed her to sit cosy in his lap and whittled away the time until it was too late for further negotiation. Now, there was no choice but to stiffly nod her head, shooting daggers at him all the while.
Jareth smirked at her and leaned in close enough for his lips to brush the side of her head. "That's my girl…" he murmured.
"I am not your girl." She untangled herself from his arms finally and stormed back down the snowy mound towards Toby, who gaped at her in amazement. "Your turn now, Toby. And whatever you do, don't tell him your Christmas wish."
"Uh.. Ok Sarah."
Christmas at the Williams' household turned out to be a lot better than anticipated. The unexpected arrival of their parents at the last minute on Christmas Eve caused Toby to jump around the house excitedly, squealing: "Santa did it! Santa granted my wish!" While she was delighted that her parents could be home for the holidays after all, Sarah pointedly refrained from comment on "Santa's" wish-granting abilities. It was just as likely that the weather really had cleared up all on its own by some stroke of luck. In any event, she certainly wasn't going to spoil Toby's happiness.
Christmas day itself was far more enjoyable than Sarah had been preparing for, now that her parents were home and the big family meal could go ahead. Although, the festivities were slightly undermined by the nagging trepidation of Jareth showing up at any moment expecting his Christmas wish to be fulfilled. She could only imagine what that might entail…
Of course it was precisely when she wasn't worrying about his inevitable arrival that he chose to appear. Sarah had just finished brushing her teeth and headed into her room to curl up in her bed, looking forward to a good long sleep-in the following morning. It had been strange being back in her old bed but sleeping in at the holidays always felt so much more luxurious and indulgent at home, rather than in a tiny apartment.
Rubbing her eyes sleepily, she almost didn't notice a Goblin King lounging on top of her bed as though he had every right to be there. He was dressed in his usual kingly paraphernalia and his face was free of the long white beard, providing a startling reminder of exactly whom she was dealing with.
She folded her arms and tried to look remotely intimidating in her yummy sushi pyjamas. "Get out."
He mockingly affected an air of injury at her words. "Is that any way to talk to your boyfriend?"
"Probably not. But since you're not my boyfriend, I guess it's perfectly fine." She paused when a sudden unsettling thought occurred to her. "Unless… that isn't your Christmas wish, is it?"
"Though it warms the cockles of my non-existent heart to see the expression of abject disgust on your face at that proposition, it's not what I want for Christmas. Well, not this year at any rate." He winked conspiratorially at her.
Sarah scoffed in response. "Sure. Anyway, your wish will have to wait until another time. I'm far too tired to deal with any of this right now."
"Hm, you do look rather worn out. Alright, bedtime it is." He patted the space next to him on the bed.
Was he serious? "No, it's time for Goblin Kings to get lost back to their own massive four-poster beds in their castle."
Jareth grinned leeringly at that. "And just how do you know what my bed looks like?"
Completely caught out at having ever pictured his bed, Sarah mustered all of her amateur acting skills to keep her face passive. "It was just a guess," she shrugged. "It wouldn't surprise me if it was a gaudy, showy den of sin."
He threw his head back and laughed. "You've been reading too many romance novels."
Not at all liking the insinuation of his tone, she marched round to the side of the bed he was reclining on and began to forcibly yank on his arm, pulling him into a standing position. "Enough, just get out of my room. You can come back when I'm actually in the mood for obnoxious fairy kings."
"And when might that be?" He asked seriously, his arms suddenly finding themselves around her waist, drawing her close to him.
Refusing to be lured into the moment, Sarah took a different tack. "What happened to all those kids with the crystal balls and promises of wishes? Have any of them regretted being fooled by a charming man yet?"
She was rewarded with a genuinely pleased and satisfied smile. "Are you calling me a charming man?"
"Yes, it's one of your many talents. Right up there with selective hearing, apparently…" she grumbled, ceasing her attempts to push his gentle, yet very firm, arms away from herself.
"Well, to answer your question, nothing dreadful has befallen any little child who crossed my path at the toy store. Including the horrible ones. I kept my word. I even granted Toby's wish, as an extra bonus. Wasn't that generous of me?"
"That wasn't you… the weather just – "
" – just happened to magically get better? Indeed, it did. Now the question is, are you going to hold up your end of our bargain?"
The affect of his gaze and having him once again in such close proximity abruptly brought home the magnitude of what she had actually left herself open for. "I'm… I'm not going to sleep with you, ok?" she suddenly rushed out in one gush. "So if that's what you're going to ask, then – well, you can take a flying jump right out the window, bargain be damned!" She was afraid to look into his strange and beguiling eyes for fear she would see written there the very depths of depravity she had always dreaded he was capable of.
Instead, she was treated to another round of outright laughter. "Really Sarah, you need to ask for better books to read for next Christmas. Do you really suppose I am the type of man who would have to bribe a woman into my bed, charming as I am?" His eyes twinkled with laughter, reflecting not a single shred of self-doubt. It was actually quite annoying.
"Fine. Then what do you want, oh great and skilled seducer of women?"
In reply, Jareth slowly tilted his head upwards, his eyes indicating the space on the ceiling above them. Sarah copied his movements until her gaze landed on the instantly recognisable sprig of green leaves and little white buds.
"You've got to be kidding me. That's your Christmas wish?"
If the room wasn't so dimly lit, she could have sworn she saw just a tiny smidgen of bashfulness from the Goblin King. "I've never been kissed under the mistletoe before." He explained simply.
Sarah couldn't help but be suspicious of that claim. "Never?"
"I don't get invited to many Christmas parties," he shrugged, as though this was only to be expected.
"Oh… I see." She really couldn't think of anything else to say. She found that she didn't want to believe what he was telling her, but the look on his face was one of seeming sincerity. Before her eyes the Goblin King transformed into an entirely different figure; one that bespoke of loneliness and isolation. It had never occurred to her before that moment to even wonder at whether he had any family or even any friends, for that matter. He never talked about anyone in a personal way. And how old was he, anyway? She remembered noticing that he hadn't changed much in appearance when he first re-appeared in her life after she successfully ran his Labyrinth. Maybe he didn't age, either. Maybe he just lived year after year without anyone for company except a throng of miscreant goblins. It was a sobering thought.
"Though I would loath to appear un-gentlemanly in rushing you, my dear – do you think you could grant my wish now? There's only about five minutes left until Christmas is officially over, and I would hate to miss out." He indicated the clock on her nightstand, which indeed revealed it was nearly midnight.
Sarah drew in a deep breath to collect herself, and inadvertently breathed in his heady aroma. She now fully understood why he had no need to bribe women into his embrace, why they queued up at a Christmas grotto just to be near him, and why she just couldn't seem to stay mad at him for anything. It was something more than his natural charm; the kind of charisma that would be bottled and sold by the gallon if it were possible.
Drowning in his eyes and saturated by his thrall, she could never have guessed at the affect she herself equally had upon him. He felt her hands tentatively slide up his arms to rest upon his shoulders as she drew him closer, her beautiful face reaching up to meet his own, and he could barely contain his excitement at the inevitable.
The first brush of lips was wonderful. Another tantalising brush and it was almost too much. They pressed together more firmly and like magic seemed to synchronise their efforts with equal enthusiasm…
Eventually Sarah had to break away to get more air into her lungs while his face slid down to her shoulder, where she felt his lips lightly caress the delicate skin of her neck. Obviously deciding she had had enough time to regain all the oxygen she needed, Jareth brought his lips back up to her face in attempt to recapture hers once again. Unfortunately for him, the quick breather had allowed Sarah a view of the clock on the nightstand. It was a whole six minutes past twelve.
"Ok, Christmas is definitely over now," she panted, trying to keep the shakiness from her voice. Any implications of what had just occurred were also met with an iron wall in her mind.
Jareth sighed and his disappointment was palpable.
Sarah awkwardly stepped out of his hold, only just noticing that one of his hands was merrily cupping her backside. It was enough to shatter the moment. "Hey, our bargain did not include any outright gropage, pal."
"As I recall, it was never explicitly ruled out," he rejoined with a smirk, releasing her all the same.
"Well, just take it as a given for next time."
"Next time? You anticipate there being future occasions like this one…?"
"Erm, no – no, not between us, I meant like the next time you, you know, kiss someone under the mistletoe… in the future."
He shook his head wonderingly. "I don't remember any kiss under the mistletoe being quite as worth it."
"Wait – what? I thought you said this was your first time?"
"Oh no, I just said that to make you feel sorry for me so you would hurry up and kiss me. I was running against the clock, you understand."
She was utterly speechless. "You absolute jerk. Go on, then. You obviously got what you came for, now take a hike! Go find some harem of women to fawn all over you."
"Oh I don't think an entire harem of women would be nearly as appealing as seeing that look on your face," he laughed with delight. Her expression was one of pure murder, and Jareth for all his faults at least knew when the right time to retreat was. "Well, it's been a pleasure as always, dear Sarah; but I believe my massive four-poster bed is calling me. And I should perhaps let you get your rest, too. Unless, you want to join me…"
"No. Emphatically no."
"A pity. Well, you can't blame a man for trying," he said as he stepped away from her, preparing to depart. "Until next Christmas." A wink and a smile – then he was gone.
Sarah let out the tense breath she had been holding in and eased herself onto the bed. Like the aftermath of most encounters with the Goblin King, she was torn between equal parts anger and exhilaration. On this occasion, however, she knew that the ante of the game had just been upped in a way that would be hard to simply walk away from.
She also had a feeling that she would be seeing the Goblin King again long before next Christmas.
AN: Please leave me a wee review if you fancy :)