How Do You Make it Last?
Ja ne, Kat
This is supposed to have a Beta reader but she's taking so long that I thought I would post just this first chapter up and see what you guys think, since most of you enjoyed reading "Snippets of Time." I don't do dark so well, so my version of Jareth is probably nicer than most. These are long chapters and will take me awhile to post them up (this one was 14 pages typed and more than 5000 words).
THIS IS NOT a continuation of Snippets, they are two very different stories and will not have them same OC's, poor Gwen. The rating is for the potty mouth and cheekiness on the OC in this chapter. The song words used for the main title and all the chapter titles are all from the same song.
Song: How Do You Keep the Music Playing?
Artists: Tony Bennet and George Michael.
A really pretty duet, I thought.
How Do You Make it Last?
The newly 18-year old Sarah Williams growled as she stormed into her room, tossing her coat and purse at one wall and her boots at the other. The teenager ignored it. Her family wasn't home they had taken Toby and gone out to do Soup Kitchen Volunteer work. Basically a photo op to make her father look good, as he ran for the District Attorney's Office.
"Didn't you bother to practice? At least try not to stomp on the peddles! Don't take your ineptitude out by smashing the keys! He and Karen probably PAID him to be a nasty jerk to me so I'd give up and pick something more respectable! Well have I got news for them, I won't! If I didn't give in to HIM and his Labyrinth, there is no way in hell I'll give in to some pathetic tutor either."
"Milady? Have I come at a bad time, mayhap?"
The voice had her spinning around to face the well-dressed border collie now shown in her mirror. Concern in his brown eyes as he took in to the normally reserved teen in front of him.
"Didymus! No. Oh gosh, I'm sorry you saw that. No. You guys can almost always come. I love your company."
"Then my I inquire as to what has irked your infamous temper so, Milady?"
She heaved a sigh as she looked at him, last ditch plan forming in her mind, maybe . . . just maybe.
"Can you play an instrument, Sir Didymus?" She lowered herself into her vanity chair as she asked the question and when she looked up it was to take note of the blush now staining his cheeks.
"I . . . I can play the Piccolo with passable skill, Lady" He told her softly eyes lowered to the ground. She smiled warmly at him to help ease his embarrassment.
"Really? That's amazing my good sir knight!"
"But not a seemly skill for a knight to have."
"Oh well, that's just a load of crap. I think it is a perfect skill for a knight. They are not the killing machines that warriors are and having several and varied skills, proves that. It also seems a very good way to distract rescued damsels, such as myself, from their problems."
A nod and a brief smile.
"Then you will not mind if I use you for my practicing?"
"That sounds lovely. Does anyone else play?"
"Ah . . . well if you do not say that I told you, friend Hoggle can play the fiddle."
"Oh my god, really?" Amused as she tried to picture it.
"Yes Lady, I believe he learned from his mother. Some of the Goblins can even play the drums."
"No piano players then?" she asked on a sigh, plan crumbling before it could start.
"Ah . . . well there is one but-"
"Great! Do you think they would be willing to teach me? I need to play an instrument to qualify for my secondary courses at University."
"I thought you were to take schooling to assist children with their problems?" he asked confused. She smiled and nodded.
"Child Psychology, yes, for two very important reasons. I still love to act though so it will be what I minor in. However, they require you to be proficient in an instrument to get in those classes. Since my GPA is so high they are willing to give me until their auditions at the end of August to learn one. The Teacher my father hired is out to make me fail and when I mentioned getting a new one it caused an argument big enough I was grounded for a week."
With that she held her hands out so he could see the backs of them . . . and the large blue bruise that now ran just under her knuckles.
"He slammed the keyboard lid down on my hands today. I'm running out of ideas. Please, won't you ask for me Didymus?"
The sight of the purposefully inflicted harm on her made the little knight more then angry and the growl he held back came out in his words.
"To halt your pain Lady, anything. Do I have your permission to ask and bring the individual here tomorrow to work out payment?"
"Yes that will work fine. Toby will be at daycare and my Parents both have appointments in the afternoon. Just remember to be careful, in case Karen's Spa plans change."
"Then by your leave, Lady."
The mirror went dark.
"It's for the fair maiden. To prevent further harm. At best, he will say no, and I will give the Lady my condolences."
The pep talk wasn't helping the case of nerves the little knight felt staring up at the Castle he and the others had been ordered from since the Lady's run. He walked quickly and quietly through the silent halls towards the Monarch's study. Being familiar with the king's habits, the knight knew he often spent the later hours of the day locked in there, after tossing the goblins out for the night to get his paper work done. He wavered again outside the door but picturing her sad face and injured hands gave him the last bit of courage he needed to knock on the door.
"Enter." The voice, while still frightening and commanding, sounded distracted.
As quietly as possible he slipped into the room letting the door shut behind him and dropping into a perfect court bow. Several minutes passed before there was any sound other then quill on paper was heard, then-
"Do I dare ASK what is so urgent you would seek me out before I lifted your ban? Or shall I just banish you to the nearest Oubliette?" A resigned sigh. "Rise."
"I ask only that you hear me out before invoking my punishment, my King."
"You have two minutes then knight. I hope you do not waste your last words."
"I have come before you because harm has befallen the Lady Sarah that I find you in the perfect position halt, my Lord. I have come bearing an entreaty from the Lady that requests your presence."
Her name had washed all the emotion off the Fae's face.
"Your story requires elaboration, knight."
"The Lady seems to be trying to learn to play the Piano for her una. . . uni-"
"University." the Monarch supplied.
"Yes that. Thank you, Sire. As I understand it the man hired to teach her is being malicious and cruel. Today, whoever this brigade is, he went so far as to slam the key case down on her hands. It has left a terrible bruise and before she realized I was there she seemed quite vexed by the thought that he may have been paid to discourage her from learning by her own father."
"And does she know whom you are asking?"
"No Sire. Though without knowing she gave me permission to bring her entreaty to the Tutor I mentioned. She asked that I bring the Tutor to her room tomorrow just after Above's 3pm to work out details and if all goes well payment."
"Such trust you inspire knight. Are you sure you want to risk losing it by bringing a villain such as I?"
His face and voice were still so blank, but Didymus was sure that this was an important question to his King.
"Why you may be forced to play the villain at times Sire, I know that she will not come to harm while under your care. THAT is the kind of trust you inspire. Besides the Lady has learned much in the few Above years that have past and sees many things that a girl-child of only 15 may have missed. Indeed I believe Hoggle recently told me of her having to resort to violence to halt the advances of a young boy. When Hoggle asked her why she did not give him a kiss her answer was that 'He was not the one she was waiting for.'"
A brief flash of hope in those eyes before it was quickly masked.
"Very well Knight. I will see you tomorrow afternoon. You are dismissed."
"Many thanks my Lord. Good evening and pleasant dreams to you."
They appeared in her bedroom at a quarter of 3 the next day. The knight waving the king into the window seat where he would be out of direct view from the door as Didymus got comfortable on the vanity chair, where she would be sure to see him first. 20 minutes later another door in the house opened with a loud bang and a well recognized voice, thick with tears, called out.
"Dad? Karen? Is anyone home?" When her call got no answer, she directed her next words to the knight. "Didymus! If your here, I'll be up in a minute, sorry for the wait!" Both the Fae and the Knight had hearing enough to catch the small sobs that followed. As a set they both headed for the door and followed the small sounds to the kitchen.
"Milady!" Didymus exclaimed when he saw the blood she was trying to clean off her face.
"Did . . . Didymus! Oh geez. I just wanted to get this cleaned . . .-" she trailed off as she realized he wasn't the only one in the room with them and watched as her eyes widened as she took in the fact that he was there and the plain Aboveground clothes he was wearing, black jeans and a tight black satin shirt with a leather jacket over top to go with the glamour he used to make him appear to be about 22 to 24, all before his name fell from her lips on a soft whisper.
"Jareth . . ." A tug on his heart and soul that nearly undid his calm.
"Milady. The only Goblin Kingdom resident that plays piano is his Majesty, who has been generous enough to agree to come here and work out payment and details, if you are still seeking aid." Didymus interjected quickly, hoping to stall any fireworks that may have been incoming.
Without waiting for her answer, he moved forward and took the cloth from her now limp fingers and placed it back over the cut on her forehead, using the motion to turn her hands and inspecting the now purple bruises on the backs of them as he did so.
"Tell me, how did this harm befall you, Precious?" he asked the question softly, as if she was a rabbit he was afraid to startle.
"I have this sinking feeling you won't believe me if a I say I tripped into a door?"
The tone was light and teasing, he was pleased to note, with not a trace of fear he had thought to hear, held within it. There was also a real plea to ignore it in there too, one he was going to miss.
"I should say not. After all you have been through; surely you can do much better than THAT old excuse." Despite his anger, he worked to keep his tone light and even to match hers, it would not help his plans any if he frightened her, when he had only just been invited back into her life.
"Umm. . ."
"M'LADY!" the Knight scolded sternly.
"You really may as well just tell the truth Precious. I hear that you are a terrible liar."
Her eyes darted back and forth between them for a few seconds, before she came to the conclusion that this was not a battle she was going to win.
"The Metronome fell off the piano." She said softly as her eyes found her feet.
"On purposed?" Didymus growled out before he could.
"After yesterday, I think so but, it COULD have been an accident." she eyes came back up to meet his, unease finally settling into them. "Are you really able to teach me . . . Goblin King?"
Oh no, he was not about to let her back track on him, not after she had already Called him twice.
"A title now? What happened to the name you used when you first saw me, Sarah mine?"
"I . . . umm . . ."
"I remember you as a lot less shy and with much to say." he told with her, his regular smirk firmly in place, hoping to get a reaction out of her. He was not disappointed as just like that her eyes snapped up to his and that spark of defiance lit them up like emeralds.
"Fine then. I didn't use your name the second time because you never bothered to give it to me. I really do need your help and didn't want to seem to be insulting to you by calling the King by his first name. Secondly I didn't use it because I didn't want Hoggle to get in trouble for having given it to me. Is that good enough reason, Your Highness?"
The sarcasm dripped from the last sentence and had him grinning at her.
"Oh infinitely, but as YOU are the Champion of the Labyrinth and not one of my subjects or even a resident of Underground, Jareth shall be fine for you."
That said he placed the bloodied cloth on the counter and placed his now ungloved hand in its place. Magic and warmth seemed to sink into her from that point of contact and pulled a gasp from her throat.
"What?" a breathless question that caused his smirk to widen.
"I think you will find that worked much better than the First Aid you were planning to do. Now shall we work out the terms for these lessons?"
She spun from facing him to take in her appearance in the stainless steel of the fridges door, forehead completely unmarred and whole again.
"Oh . . . wow. Now THAT is just awesome!" She exclaimed using her hand to poke at where her injury had been. "I'm not really sure what to offer you though. I had thought that Didymus was bringing one of the Firey's or maybe a Goblin, I was going to offer to make them baked goods and such but, being that you're a King with a kingdom to run I have no clue what I would offer you for your time."
The word was right there, on his tongue, but a sharp motion out the corner of his eyes stopped him. Didymus was shaking his head behind her back, obviously aware of what his King would ask for and hoping to stop him before he offered too much and scared her the young lady before him . . . again. That was always his problem with her, when she was in motion and challenging him with her fire flashing in her eyes, he always forgot that she was STILL young. Not yet an adult by her own people's standards let alone his.
So he paused to consider the best way to work toward the goal he wanted. She was still staring at him, eyes alight with wonder at the bit of magic he'd cast and a small smile still aimed in his direction as she waited for his answer.
"This may take us awhile. If you are comfortable enough with me, might I suggest I act as your escort and we discuss it over coffee? I will even let you pick the place so that I cannot be accused of trickery later."
"Sure! OH. . . but Didymus . . ." She trailed off guiltily, having forgotten he could not follow them out of her house as the Fae before her could.
"Fear not, Fair Maiden. I have my sworn duty to get back to and have no fears for your safety while his Majesty is your escort. I shall see you at our regular time in two days."
With a bow to his Rulers he scampered away upstairs, leaving the two of them alone in her kitchen. A fact which caused her to freeze for a moment. Alone with the GOBLIN KING! While he had been charming so far would that vanish now that Didymus was no longer there?
"Afraid now, are you Precious? And just when we were getting along so well."
She took a deep breath and turned from facing him to head toward the front hall. If he wanted to play nice, that was okay with her, If trouble started she'd deal with it when it happened, same as she'd done before.
"Of you? Don't you just wish? Do you still want to go for coffee? I'm terrible at making it, so that would be your safest option."
A smirk at the wording of her sentence.
You have no idea just how much I wish.
"Lead on then, Precious thing."
They ended up at a locally owned coffee shop a few blocks down from Sarah's house. It had large, comfy mismatched furniture arranged for small and large groups and, thankfully, a French press. It was empty other then the two of them which struck him as odd since she had been so nervous when they had first been left alone. Till a voice called out from the back of the building.
"Sarah honey? That you? Give me just a second and I'll be right up. this Blasted machine is giving me grief again!"
"Thanks Kel. I'll just make myself comfy up here while you order a new dishwasher.
"Don't I almost wish. Now be a good girl till I get there."
With a small smile on her face, Sarah turned and headed to a nearly hidden alcove in the back corner of the shop lined with book shelves and two large wing-back chairs arranged in a half circle around a short cherry wood table. Flopping down into one of the chairs with a relived sigh she relaxed and nodded for him to settle in the other chair.
"I love it here. Kel lets me sit for hours over a single coffee and read the books here, or do my homework."
Before he could ask why she would read here for hours rather than in the comfort of her own home, the back door banged open and a . . . dwarf? Yes, an older Dwarf woman, with red-gold hair and eyes of granite, stood there with a steaming cup in one hand and an annoyed look on her face. Hot chocolate from the smell.
"Here you are Darling girl. Get tired of watching the spectacle on T.V.? OH!" she exclaimed when she first saw him. "You didn't tell me you had company Hon, and my, he's hot . . .-" That was when she saw through his glamour. "YOU'RE MAJESTY!"
Sarah's eyes went wide as her friend dropped into a curtsy, apologises fumbling out of her mouth. This was not how he had intended the afternoon to go.
"My most sincere apologies Lord. If I had known it was you I would have come and taken your order right away. I-"
"STOP!" Sarah shouted. "Kel, don't worry about it. I told you not to rush, so Jareth won't hold it against you, I'm sure. It's really not that big a deal. So, come on get up Kel, it cannot be good for your back injury to be bent like that, besides what if costumers came in?" The dwarf's eyes had widened at the familiar way the girl addressed him as Sarah tried to pull her up right.
"Please do rise. I am not here for a formal visit. The Lady Sarah invited me as her guest."
"Yes of course, sire, thank you. Would you like something to drink?"
"It has been a while since I had some of your coffee, if you would, I would love a dark roast done in your French press."
"Oh! Of course, sire. Do you still take it black and strong enough to sit up and bark?" She asked with her own smug smirk firmly aimed in his direction, this was why her son deserved to be on fairy detail. She and Hoggle were just too cheeky for his own piece of mind.
"Right away sire." She said as she hustled off to begin.
"Well that was unexpected. How do you know Queen Kelandra, Precious?"
"Queen?" she laughed. "I don't know about Queen, but I've know Kel forever, since just after I turned five."
"Precious thing, I hate to break it to you, but 13 years is really not all that long."
An inelegant snort as she tossed a mischief filled grin in his direction.
"Well it feels like forever to those of us who aren't completely older than most dirt."
Teasing. . . she was attempting to tease him. He found that he could not remember the last time anyone had felt comfortable enough in his presence to do so, long before he'd become King of the Goblins surely.
"Hmmm. . . I am willing to forgive you this once for your inexperienced exaggerations."
"Inexperienced! Why you -"
"Of course, last I heard you are now 18 and still never been kissed."
She choked on air and blushed pink from the tips of her ears right down to where her skin vanished into her shirt. Whatever else he might have teased her with was interrupted as Kelandra rushed back up with his coffee to save her.
"For you sire, with my compliments. I hope you find it to your tastes." With a half curtsy she hurried back through the first door she'd come through, though he would bet she hadn't gone far, in fact the door seemed to be propped open a crack by fingers.
"So, is there anything reasonable I can trade you?" Sarah asked, taking a swallow of her drink to help clear her throat from her coughing fit.
"I do not suppose I could convince you to wish away your current Tutor, could I?"
The question, asked in all seriousness, brought a smile to her face, even as she shook her head at him.
"No, but I will freely admit to having thought about it before. The thought of him suspended over your Bog, with goblins tossing things at him as gotten me through many a lesson."
"Ah . . . I did so miss your infamous cruelty, Precious." he told her, with a smirk as the idea grew in his head. "Goblins can lift several times their own weight, Those rocks your friend called for you last time, the goblins removed without even breaking a sweat."
"That's . . . oh wow, ouch. I guess I'll just stick with my crueler thought then."
"I am not sure. I am rather enjoying the image your first one conjures."
"Well if you say so, though the other one is MUCH better."
"Then please, do try and impress me."
Her eyes narrowed at him as he issued the challenge.
"I was thinking one day you might leave him in one of your holes, all alone with the goblins . . . AND their chickens..."
The short burst of laughter escaped that seemed to surprise even him.
"I have to admit defeat this round. That IS infinitely crueler. Are you quite sure that I cannot change your mind, Precious?"
A mock sigh as she pretended to reconsider.
"Alas no, I'm afraid I will have to stick with my first answer. Too much homework and studying to do, to attempt your Labyrinth again till school lets out for the summer."
"Such a pity. You Running would give me a nearly Goblin free day. " she would have believed the forlorn look on his face except that it was ruined by his smug grin. " Now let me see . . . what you can trade me."
By this point she wasn't falling for it, he knew exactly what he wanted to ask for; all she had to do was be ready to run damage control on it.
"You, can trade me your friendship."
"What?" Her mind fumbling, as the request was not anything she had been expecting.
"We will work on being friends, past grievances . . . on both sides forgiven. Before you agree I do have one other condition."
"That would be?"
He let his best villain grin slide on to his face at the look of distrust on her face and in her tone, and by the flash in her eyes he knew she recognized it for what it was.
"Your lesson are to take place in my study. In Underground. That way I can have you learn for an hour and enjoy your company for a second hour, at which point I will return you to your home as though only an hour had past. Does that meet your narrow definition of 'fair', Precious?"
Her glared sharpened at the subtle insult and the even more disguised challenge.
"Since someone saw it fit to expand my basis of comparison, I should think it's more than fair. I shall either bake or buy something for us to enjoy during the second hour. I do, however, have two . . . conditions of my own. The first being that I can only offer three nights a week right now and that number may get smaller when I begin University. Second . . . If we are really going to try and be friends then I am going to ignore your Rank unless the situation calls for it or is dire . . . because friends do not try to trick and trap each other."
She raised her eyes to his mismatched ones and held out her hand.
"Well Goblin King? Do we have an Accord?"
He did some quick calculations. It was October Above if his math was correct, almost Halloween. that would give him nearly a full year before she went off to school and her life got hectic.
"Agreed." he told her taking her hand and laying a kiss just over the bruise, letting his magic sink into it to help speed it's healing along. "I will pick you up tomorrow at 7pm at your house."
"But my parents . . .-"
He placed a gloved hand over her protests
"Call your Tutor from here and cancel the rest of your lessons. If your parents ask tell them he made you uncomfortable and you were not learning much. To save them money you cancelled the lessons. You can tell them Kelandra suggested me because she knew me and I needed more volunteer hours for my own University programs. That way you can even tell them that your lessons are happening here at the shop. I have every faith she has a piano somewhere here."
"She has her own music room on the second floor, where she teaches her own music lessons. My parents won't let me learn from Kel. They say since I know her she'll be too kind to be able to teach me properly and why should he pay for a half-assed job?"
He nodded at her explanation and turned his attention to the Dwarf standing in the doorway watching the negotiations.
"Is all that agreeable Kelandra?"
"Yes sire, and I stand as witness to the agreement."
"Is that a normal enough reason for your parents, Precious?"
"I suppose, but that doesn't mean they will agree. Can I reach you through the mirror like I do Hoggle or Didymus after I've talked to them?"
He nodded. Not at all impressed with what he was learning about her parents and just how she had come to meet him that first time.
"You certainly may. Now go and make your phone call and then I will escort you home."
"Hey Kel." She shouted after rolling her eyes at him. "CAN I borrow your phone?"
"Oh honey, only if you promise to make him feel ant size and cause his dick to shrivel and fall off."
"Oh I sure will."
The dwarf moved over to stand next to him as Sarah headed into the back.
"How is my wish?" she asked him softly.
"Right now? Probably shirking his duties and visiting Didymus to find out how the Lady is, who will admit to having told Sarah about his being able to play fiddle. The duties not being done I will punish him for when I get back. Other than that? As free as you wished him and still ignorant of what his fate should have been." He turned from watching the door Sarah had vanished through, to study the ex-Queen standing beside him. "Is there something else you think I should be aware of Kelandra?"
"Permission to speak freely sire, without harm to my wish?"
She turned her own patented glare on him, one that had cowed the Dwarf's Merchants guild for years uncounted.
"Do try and do it right this time and ask the lovely girl. Demands on a spirit that defiant will never work. Do also remember that she is still young and inexperienced with men, so it will require much of your time and all your patience if you wish to win her forever, more so with the way she was raised. One last thing, there is a young man . . . hunting her, and from what I've seen has no respect for the word 'no'. My understanding is that when she told her Step-mother the awful woman told her not to lead boys on if she wasn't willing to follow through, and what more could they ever want from her looking as pretty as she did? I would have passed this information on to you sire, but as part of the cost for my wish I have no window to Underground anymore."
He sighed. No matter how he wanted to, he could not change to terms of a wish to fit his own whims.
"Your first two points HAD occurred to me . . . eventually, Kelandra. I thank you for informing me of the last. I was unaware of the severity of the situation."
"Anytime sire. I owe at least that much if not more. Do feel free to drop by anytime. Teenagers often 'hangout' here and the weekends and I hear all the gossip from the Lady's school."
"Even without the Lady? You would extend a Permanent Invitation to the Goblin King?"
The older dwarf snorted and turned to face him as her power caused a terrible weight to fill the room.
"I may no long be Queen of the Dwarves, but you do not now or ever frighten me Jareth le Roi. Despite what I pretend to be to hide, you of all people know better. Things are never what they appear."
Then gone, just like that, as the door banged open again and Sarah stood framed in the doorway.
"That conceited JERK! He told me it was about 'Fucking time' and with how 'Uncoordinated' I am he is amazed I lasted as long as I did!"
The dwarf turned to the irate girl with a warm smile.
"Now honey, forget about it. Jareth IS an excellent piano player. Just remember that YOU asked him to teach you, so don't be giving him trouble over little orders and you'll do just fine."
"Kel! I do not argue over every little thing!" She exclaimed hands coming up to rest on her hips.
"As you stand there and argue over advice?" Jareth tossed out softly, causing her to turn to face him, mouth hanging open in surprise.
"SEE Kel! He's picking on me already!" Before either of them could say anything she carried right on. "Besides if he didn't have that smug, superior, holy-than-though tone in his voice I wouldn't feel the need to knock him down a peg!"
"Oh? And just when is this peg knocking supposed to happen?" He asked, making sure to say it in just that tone of voice. She tossed her long hair over her shoulder as she paused at the door.
"I don't know about you, but I seem to remember someone's feathers getting awful ruffled over a simple piece of cake." Then her mouth thinned into a frown "Hey! You STILL owe me the two hours you stole in the tunnels!"
"Oh? Do I" He inquired as he headed through the tables toward the door. "I think I'll take it as payment for the damage done to the Goblin city."
"Oh, it was only a few rocks, your Kinglyness. Nothing you couldn't handle I'm sure."
"I still got stuck fixing it . . ."
The argument cut out as the pair left her shop and Kel found herself smiling after them for minute before she sighed.
"Please Goddess, let this time be different. Let them BOTH have learned from past mistakes."
End Chapter one.
So is it as okay a Snippets? There are a ton of questions left unanswered, and there are supposed to be as most will get answered as I go. But this will be LOOONG story and it will take me a while to type out and post. Let me know what you think.
Thank you for reading