Disclaimer: I own nothing familiar in this story—just the unfamiliar bits. This story was created to simply wreak havoc in the lives of Jareth and Sarah, nothing more. No copyright was harmed in the creation of this tale
A/N: I AM RETIRED FROM WRITING FANFIC. I AM. I AM. IAMIAMIAMIAMIAMIAM.
My muse was bemoaning the fact there just has been not enough Labyfic where both Sarah and Jareth are not at all pleased see each other again. I always love romantic comedies that begin this way—adversarial. (Like "Life as We Know It" & "Pride & Prejudice"—which isn't really a romantic comedy, per se, but I digress.) There is enormous potential for that in this fandom, but I don't come across it often enough—especially when they are able to fall in love even though Jareth keeps his mysterious rascally-ness.
Y U NO WRITE IT, PEOPLE?
*sobs* Why do you make me write the stories I want to read? *runs off weeping noisily*
P.S. This is totally unbeta'd. Yeah, I'm all risky like that. Enjoy all the errors, people. Revel in them. :-P (And be sure to point them out to me so I can fix them.)
"Just kill it!" I screamed as I ducked under another wave of fire. The hair all over my body curled at the intense heat.
"How do you propose I do that?" Jareth snapped back at me, his voice dripping with irritation. He managed to glare at me even as he inched gracelessly along the cavern wall in a near crawl.
I glared right back. As if I knew anything! I was just mortal girl from some boring town in America. This monstrosity was from his world. "Use your magic!" I shouted, following him in my need to stay in close proximity. "Throw a crystal at it or something."
Jareth made a derisive sound. "What a novel idea, Sarah. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it." He gave me a cold grin. "Oh yes, I remember now. It is because you cannot kill magical creatures with magic alone," he said as though I ought to have known better.
I was about to unleash a scathing retort about flamboyant fairytale kings when the scaly creature we faced roared loudly, the deafening rumble echoing off the cave rocks. Clamping my hands over my ears, I crouched low in the dirt, hoping the beast would overlook me when it breathed flames again.
I did mention we were fighting a dragon, right?
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
A week ago, I woke to my alarm clock blaring early in the morning. I tried to ignore it at first, my mind still clinging to the haze of blissful sleep while I snuggled deeper into my pillow. I was definitely not in the mood to get up yet and get ready for another boring day of office work. I hated my job, but it paid the bills until I made a name for myself in the art world. Just a few more commissions, a few more paintings sold, and I'd put in my notice. I smiled at the thought even as my alarm became more persistent.
"What is that blasted sound?" someone asked in exasperation—in a distinctly British-sounding, if a little sleepy, baritone.
My eyes flew open at the voice I hadn't heard in ten years. With painful clarity, I realized the pillow I had been cuddling wasn't soft and fluffy, but decidedly muscle-ish and male-shaped. I shot up and scrambled to the edge of the bed.
Jareth, the unfairly beautiful king of the goblins, lay before me half nude—or maybe fully nude, since my blanket chastely covered him from the waist down. His state of undress was less concerning than the fact that he was here. In my bed. The last time I saw him, I'd defeated him at his terrible and harrowing little game. Dangers untold and all that.
And here he was, lying with his arm draped over his eyes, as if he'd just spent the night after we'd had a particularly nice date. I wished I was dreaming, but I was so horrifyingly not.
I reached toward him to shake him awake, to demand that His Wily-ness explain himself when he abruptly sat up, yelling, "Stop that incessant racket or I'll bog the lot of you!"
My alarm clock exploded in a shower of plastic and bits of wires, and startled, I tumbled over the side of the bed, landing with a squeak. My poor derriere was very grateful that I had carpeted floors rather than hardwood. I looked up to find the mythical monarch peering down at me from the edge of the mattress.
"You," he said, eyes narrowing. "I should have known."
His arrogant tone raised my hackles, and I stood up, returning his imperious glare with one of my own. "Me? You did this."
He curled his lips in distaste. "If I had ever been so inclined, do you think I would have waited ten of your years to appear in your home, let alone your private room?" His gaze traveled down from my face and back up again as he rose, stepping around the bed to stand before me. Fortunately, he was clad in loose linen pants, though they hung a little too low on his hips for my comfort. I became acutely aware then of my own state of undress—t-shirt and panties—and I crossed my arms awkwardly over my chest.
"I assure you, I would have done nothing so banal as to appear uninvited in your bed in the cover of night like some fumbling coward unskilled in the arts of seduction," Jareth continued, smirking. "Clearly this is your doing."
I snorted while surreptitiously reaching for a blanket or something to cover my bare legs. "Don't flatter yourself, Mr. Glittery Pants." I felt a little triumphant at the outrage contorting his features. "After our last nightmarish encounter, I haven't been inclined to see you again, thank you very much. So you can point those accusing eyes elsewhere." I poked him in the chest to emphasize my point.
He stared down at my finger as if it were a poisonous viper that just bit him. "How dare you behave so insolently with me! I am the Goblin King!"
My heart pounded underneath the daggers he was glaring at me, but I had never cowered before him in the past—no matter how scared I was—and I wasn't about to start now. "You know what? Why don't you just," I said, giving him another poke to remind him that he had no power over me, "go back to where you came from."
He snatched my hand, gripping it so tightly I gritted my teeth to stifle a yelp of pain. "Kindly keep your appendages to yourself," he said in a dangerously low voice, "or I may be forced to deal with them in a most unpleasant manner." With a final uncomfortable squeeze, he released my hand.
I rubbed at my abused "appendage" while I glowered at him, mentally calling him a few choice names. "Leave already."
"Gladly." And he was gone in a shower of tiny sparkles.
Before I could celebrate his departure, a strange pulling sensation blossomed just above my navel. And then something yanked me. Hard. In a dizzying whirl of color I was taken from my room and deposited in an unfamiliar medieval chamber. Jareth's bedroom, if I had to guess by the lavish furnishings—and by the fact that the monarch was standing right next to me, looking as bewildered as I felt.
I wish I could say I had enough of my wits about me to say, "What a disagreeable surprise" à la Mrs. Higgins from My Fair Lady or something equally biting and snappy, but what came out was something akin to a squeal. Not the "fan girl finally meeting her favorite celebrity" kind of squeal, but the "why is this happening to me; I'm going to be late for work" sort.
"The point of my leaving," Jareth said with no small amount of sneering, "is that you remain in your realm."
He flicked his wrist, and before I could argue that I'd had no say in the matter, I was caught in another tornado of colors. When I landed back in the safety of my room, I breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it was short-lived as my old nemesis appeared next to me.
"This is ridiculous!" I shouted, throwing my hands in the air. "You go back there and I stay here. How hard is it?"
"That is what I'm attempting to do, if you would stop meddling!" He yelled back at me.
I planted my hands on my hips and scowled at him. "Do or do not, Goblin King. There is no try."
"You needn't resort to poor grammar, Sarah." With a twist of his hand, he vanished.
And so did I.
When I appeared with him in his chambers, he let out a frustrated growl and waved his hand again. A blur of scenery later, we were back in my room. Cursing, he transported again, and I followed a mere second later. This time we materialized near his throne, startling the drunken goblins splayed about the room. Jareth yelled something unintelligible, conjured a crystal and smashed it on the stone floor between us. We were off again, darting between places in rapid succession. My stomach roiled uneasily at the swirling movement.
"Stop," I said when we landed in the fiery wood, but we vanished before I could get another word out. Our next destination was a grove of fruit trees and the overwhelming scent of ripened peaches nearly made me lose my breakfast—if I had eaten any.
Now we stood in some kind of crystal fortress with the most painfully beautiful onlookers staring at us with identical expressions of shock.
"Or I'm gonna—"
Suddenly, we were in the park where I had loved to playact as a girl.
Next it was on the shores of the Bog of Eternal stench. Bile threatened in my throat.
And then we were abruptly back in Jareth's chambers. Without a word, he stalked over to his wardrobe and threw open the doors. I took the opportunity to sag into one of the overstuffed chairs, clutching my belly in a feeble attempt to settle it. Jareth dug through his clothes, grumbling under his breath.
"So what now?" I asked, hugging my knees. Now that we'd stopped zipping around the universe, I was reminded once again that I was missing pants. And it was cold in this huge room.
"Now," he answered in a tight voice, "I find out who dared to curse me and undo the spell."
"Hey!" I huffed in indignation. "Maybe I'm the one who's cursed. Not everything is about you, you know."
He turned, pinning me with a gaze so cold, I shivered. "Since I am caught up in this reprehensible situation, I find that it very much has to do with me."
We glared at each other for at least a minute before I closed my eyes. My stomach was still doing queasy flip-flops and trying to beat the stubborn king in a staring contest wasn't helping. "Fine. Go find the culprit and flay him alive for me, will you?" I settled further into the chair. "I'm just going to stay here and try not to vomit all over the place. Feel free to send me back home when you're done."
"Oh no, precious," he replied, his mocking voice drawing closer. "We are inexplicably bound together. Where ever I go, you go as well—as has been so painfully demonstrated to us."
I opened my eyes just enough to give him a flat look. "What? In my underwear? No thanks," I said. "I'm pretty sure if you use your feet instead of your magic—" I made a walking motion with my fingers "—you could probably get as far as you wanted from me."
He raised a brow. "Shall we test that theory, then?" A disquieting smile spread across his lips. "I think I'll go to the bathing chamber. Do try not to follow."
I flashed my pearly whites in the most sarcastic smile I could muster. "It'll be hard, but I'll make a valiant attempt."
I watched him cross the room, confident that we'd found a temporary solution to our problem. As he reached a door on the far side, I idly wondered if it was possible to reach Underground from my world by foot. Then he could leave me home, and if I could convince him to never transport anywhere with magic again, we could go on happily with our separate lives.
Jareth gave me a pointed look before pulling open the door and stepping inside. As soon as he did, some invisible force lifted me out of the chair and I flew across the room toward him. I screeched a warning just before we collided in a tangle of arms and legs. We rolled onto the cold stone floor, coming to a stop with Jareth on top of me, and I groaned beneath his weight. He was heavier than he looked.
With hands straddled on either side of my head, he propped himself up, looking down at me with an expression that said he was the opposite of amused. The feeling was mutual. "As I said, where ever I go, you go as well." He stood and offered me a hand. "If you're quite finished being defiant, I should like to reverse our condition before the sun sets."
I took his proffered hand. "Fine by me. But I need something to wear. Got anything I can use?" My stomach wasn't keen on being whisked away by magic again, not even to my own apartment.
He looked me over, tapping his chin as he unabashedly studied every inch of my body. I resisted the urge to yank my t-shirt down. "Had your fill yet, perv?" I snapped when those blue eyes lingered a little too long on my bare thighs.
"I haven't decided yet." He grinned.
"Leave it to the Goblin King to try to take advantage of a bad situation," I said, rolling my eyes.
I pushed past him, and in a fit of revenge, I ran to the far side of his room. He grunted as the unseen force jerked him toward me like a bungee cord, and I smiled in satisfaction—that is, until I realized he was going to crash into me. Apparently coming to the same conclusion, Jareth raised his arms, wicked delight written all over his pretty face. I braced myself for impact, having no time to flee or even duck, and in a heartbeat I was sandwiched between the king of the goblins and an unforgiving wall.
"Not so fun is it?" I said, trying very hard not to feel Jareth's lean and half-nude body pressed against mine.
He smirked. "The outcome is not altogether unpleasant." He laughed when I shoved at him to no avail and backed away slowly on his own. "Now, about your clothing."
For a trembling heartbeat, I thought he was going to magic me into something, but he headed toward his wardrobe, much to my relief.
"I don't have anything befitting of lady so exquisitely constructed as yourself." He threw the last bit over his shoulder with a feral grin.
My cheeks burned when his eyes dipped down my body. "Really?" I replied flippantly, pretending his licentious gaze did nothing to me. "What about that poofy dress you made me wear to the masquerade?"
His grin dropped into a frown. "What 'poofy' dress? What masquerade?" There was no doubting the sincerity of his confusion. He really didn't know.
For some reason, discovering the peach dream had been all me was disappointing. I guess because the ball was the only time my interaction with Jareth hadn't been life-threatening. In fact, it had been sort of nice dancing with him while he sang to me—at least, until I realized it was just another ploy to distract me from saving Toby. Before the clock gonged, I'd actually thought Jareth was about to kiss me.
Of course, that would have been totally pervy of him if he had. But being the unwise, half-drugged teenager I was then, I hadn't found the idea nearly as inappropriate as I did now when looking back.
But it turned out the whole thing had been a figment of my hormonal adolescent imagination. And I wasn't about to admit that embarrassment to the very real Jareth in front of me. "Sorry," I said. "I'm confusing you with someone else."
Jareth's furrow deepened. "Someone forced you into a gown for a masquerade?"
I shook my head and muttered under my breath, "Only me." I crossed the room to join him. "You were saying about clothes?"
"Hm." For a moment he looked as though he might press the issue, but then seemed to change his mind. "Creating garments out of nothing is beyond even my unmatched skills," he said, rummaging through his clothes, "but I can alter them to fit you. You'll want that especially with your footwear."
"Where do I change?" I asked as he began to toss items of clothing at me—charcoal gray pants, a black poet's shirt, and a red vest.
He handed me a pair of black leather boots and gestured about the room. "Where ever you wish."
I thought about going to the bathroom—or bathing chamber, as he'd called it—but I didn't know how far apart we could get before the rubber band action began. Maybe if he had one of those archaic privacy screen things…"Where are you changing?"
The corner of his mouth tugged upward in a half-smile. "Here, of course." He snapped his fingers and was suddenly dressed down to his gloves. "I would be more than willing to offer you the same assistance, but alas, I cannot."
"Oh sure, now you're a gentleman," I said. Not that I would have taken him up on his offer.
"Do refrain from insults." He tugged at his gloves before bringing his eyes to mine, his expression somber. "I have no power over you, don't you recall?" He gave me a chilling look before turning around. "Change, Sarah."
I made a face at his back and hastily slipped into the clothes he gave me—or as hastily as I could, considering how absurdly tight the trousers were. I had to jump a few times to get them over my womanly hips. I've never fussed too much about my fairly trim figure, but these pants were becoming a blow to my self-esteem. The shirt and vest were too loose, and the boots were several sizes too big.
"I'm done," I said, pulling the drawstrings on the shirt modestly closed.
Jareth took a moment to assess my attire and then grasped me by the shoulders. I stood rigidly as his hands traveled down the outside my arms, then back up the inside, unnervingly close to my girlish curves. He swept his hands down my ribcage, and as he did, the shirt shrunk and the vest became fitted to my waist. I held my breath when he moved down to my hips, kneeling before me. Instead of continuing down the outside of my lower extremities, he wrapped his hands around a single leg and focused his delicate ministrations on it before attending to the other one. My pants loosened a little, becoming less like compression tights and more like leggings—not quite loose enough for my tastes, though I was having a hard time focusing on anything but Jareth's hands at the moment.
"Is it absolutely necessary to touch me all over while you magically tailor my clothes?" I hissed with a clenched jaw, more than a little frustrated at how my body was reacting to his touch. Apparently my hormones didn't understand the unspoken law that one does not ponder swapping deep tissue massages with one's foe.
Said foe finished adjusting my boots before answering, "No, it isn't." He smirked at me as he rose. "However, I knew it would make you uncomfortable, and I take my pleasures where I can find them."
I worked my jaw, my face burning in anger. "Why you—"
"Rascal? Cad? Rogue? Scoundrel?" Jareth raised a brow and leaned forward to say in a low voice, "Villain?"
Goosebumps prickled my skin as he drew back wearing a sinister grin. "All of the above," I replied in a cool voice.
Jareth held my gaze for a breath before laughing softly. "Come along, Sarah. Let's go flay your culprit."
He took my hand, whisking us off in another stomach-lurching flurry of colors.
~TO BE CONTINUED~
A/N: So yeah. I'll be adding this one to the queue along with Attack of the Vicious Plot Bunnies and Pertinacious Wills (and yes, I'm nearly done with the next chapter for that one!). This sordid little tale will probably be closer in length to AotVPB, but who knows where my muse will take me? She merely demanded that I write the story—retirement from fanfic be damned.
As always, reviews are lovely things. I accept all kinds!