Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later

Young at Heart

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

overwork, inconvenient illness, partying hardy

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-20 - 13184 words - Complete

Chapt. 11 - Young at Heart

Jareth had all but given up on working with Sarah for the moment to achieve his ends and had been experimenting with the staff instead. While the object almost quadrupled his current powers it took power simply to use it. He had to exercise a healthy amount of caution and reserve when drawing on it because the process exhausted him completely with alarming speed. Sarah was beginning to worry about him; he was asleep more and more often when she came home, not waking until late evening. He would eat a morsel or two of whatever dinner was and then stagger back to bed. Even his pale skin had begun to look ashen. He was using too much of himself too quickly and he wasn’t eating enough - that much was obvious. If he was causing himself any real damage where Sarah couldn’t see there was no way of knowing - he point blank refused to speak on the subject.

Probably because he can’t lie to me. She knew that he was doing what he thought was best but what would it all be for if he didn’t make it? Coming through the front door, Sarah was terrified to find him sprawled out facedown on the floor in her living room. “Jareth!!!” She dropped everything and rushed to his side. He didn’t seem to be injured and there was a pulse in his neck but it was very weak. Oh shit, don’t die on me! She carefully rolled him over. His skin was grey, almost bluish and it looked like he had been perspiring if his bangs were any indicator. He was cool to the touch. Oh, this is not good! “Jareth…Jareth, wake up!” she said nervously, furiously trying to rub some of the warmth back into his arms. She noticed his eyelids shift and then he cracked them open slowly. He sounded as weak as he looked.


“Don’t speak. Save your strength, come on.” She managed to haul him into a sitting position against the couch (he had moved the coffee table nearly into the hallway beforehand) and grabbed the comforter off of his bed, wrapping it around him. Suddenly feeling how cold he really was he drew his knees in, shivering. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?! You need to cut this shit out right now!”

Jareth may have been cold but his eyes were blazing.

“You presume much and understand little,” he bit out. “I am willing to sacrifice my body for the higher magics if need be. You would do well to remember that I am a king.”

Sarah was indignant. “You can play high-and-mighty all you want but you are no sovereign of mine, Jareth, and you’re not invincible. You would do well to remember that.” She went into the kitchen and put the tea kettle on. “I mean, look at yourself! Would it kill you to admit that you need a break? I don’t know what you’re doing but I see you getting weaker instead of stronger. Even athletes need time to recuperate. Take tomorrow off, please, just do it for yourself. I came in here and I was scared to death that you were dead!”
Jareth seriously considered what she’d been saying. Once he would have been able to abuse his body like this seemingly indefinitely without feeling anything adverse. His age was finally beginning to catch up to him. Presently he didn’t even possess the strength to warm himself.

This is certainly a new low, he thought tersely. When Sarah came back in with the tea he was looking a little sheepish. He opened one side of the blanket, his arm muscles screaming out in exhaustion at the movement. “Sarah…would you mind terribly if…” and then she saw that in spite of the huge, velvet comforter he was still shaking like a leaf. She nodded, immediately understanding what he was too embarrassed to ask for and snuggled into the comforter with him, setting the mugs on the floor beside her.

“Hello, trouble,” she teased him.

“Hello,” he finally smiled back.


Much to Jareth’s bemusement, Sarah ordered an ungodly amount of Chinese takeout that night and forced him to consume no less than three bowls of egg drop soup when he showed little appetite for anything else. They ate on the floor in the living room while watching a slew of game shows. Jareth seemed to be enjoying them and feeling at least a little better. At least his body warmth had returned. On Sarah’s insistence he hadn’t moved an inch, though, and she had stayed by his side - except to get the door when the food arrived.

“You imbecile! Take the deal!” he shouted at a woman named Amanda on the current show.

“Figures you’d side with the banker,” Sarah said as she grabbed another wonton.

“Well, I think that that amount of money is more than enough to be offered for simply calling out a few numbers.”

“It’s only the first offer. If she keeps guessing cases with small numbers in them her prize will keep going up in value, but really her chances of actually winning the game are next to none.”

“So this pits the player’s own greed against them,” Jareth smirked, devilishly amused. “What a wicked form of entertainment.”

“Hey, it’s just a stylized version of the American Dream.”

“What? Getting everything for doing nothing? Life handed to you on a silver platter?”

“You got it,” she took a sip of tea.

He looked aghast. “You mean you work at least six days a week if not seven, pouring your heart, mind and soul into projects to better humanity when you could be on one of these ‘game shows,’ jumping up and down screaming like a banshee and walk away with more money in one night than you see in an entire year?”


“But that’s-”

“Not fair?”


Sarah nodded. “Well, yeah, but who’s going to change it? It’s all a matter of what you’re willing to do. I could make more money than I do now just selling my body on East Colfax but I’m sure as hell not going to do that.”

What a bizarre society, Jareth thought disgustedly. “At least where I am from, good work is rewarded.”

“That must be nice.”

“No really, I mean it!”

“Oh, it’s okay, I believe you,” she smiled. “A lot of times our work is its own reward. If I didn’t care about helping other people and the environment I would’ve quit a long time ago. Been somebody’s secretary, I guess, copying letters and other stupid stuff like that.”

“You would’ve considered becoming a scribe?”

Sarah gave a laugh. “I had never really thought of it quite that way,” she said amusedly.

“I’m being antiquated again, aren’t I?”

Sarah nodded with a little smile.

“Then I shall have to work on updating myself in your absence.”

“Well, don’t do it too much. Modern slang coming from you would be laughably weird.”

“Ancient and classic it is, then,” he teasingly rebuffed. “And speaking of ancient…” He finally got up and stretched - before lying down on the couch. Sarah was right that it wasn’t as comfortable as it looked but oh well; he wasn’t ready to relinquish his hostess just yet.

“J, if you’re tired you need to go to bed. I don’t have to watch this.”

“Nonsense. Did it ever occur to you that I am enjoying your company? No, don’t get up.” She had moved to clean up the mess of food cartons that were still all over the floor, many were still nearly full (she had been anticipating one hungry fae and if mythology was anything to go by, the appetites of the truly hungry could eat one out of house and home). Suddenly it all vanished. She shot a glance back at him. His arms were folded behind his head. “It’s all in the refrigerator.” She thought she saw him wince.

“No more magic tonight for you, mister, you’re exhausted, even I can see it. You’re going straight to bed.”

His face suddenly assumed a look of bright-eyed mischief.

“Am I now?”

The look was a dare and Sarah registered it immediately. He wouldn’t go voluntarily; she would have to physically drag him. She sighed. “Why is nothing ever easy with you?”

“I often wonder that exact same thing about you,” he smirked.

Oh, that does it. On impulse she grabbed one of his arms and gave it a hard tug - and almost fell forward: it was like trying to move solid granite! He chuckled.


“No more magic, I promise to relax,” he finally placated her. “Just stay with me,” he added quietly. She gave him a sideways glance and sat back down, sitting up perfectly straight. It had not gone unnoticed that if she leaned back again as she had been that her head would be leaning directly against his thigh. What was he up to? He suddenly laughed quietly, shaking his head. “Oh, Sarah,” he chided her fondly, “still so suspicious. I assure you there’s nothing up my sleeve currently except a deck of minor arcana Tarot cards and a couple extra scarves.”

Sarah genuinely laughed, loosening up a bit. Jareth knew by now that it was always a matter of getting her comfortable - once Sarah was comfortable with him she always warmed right up. Sneaky? Yes. But it was for The Cause. Or was it for another reason entirely? He quickly banished the idea. Getting too attached to her was a complication he logistically could not afford. And yet some suicidal tendency in his heart wanted him to give it a try anyway, to flaunt fate and see if lightning would strike him down. Very tentatively, Sarah leaned back against the couch. And him. Nothing happened; he barely even seemed to notice.

Like boiling the frog, she thought sardonically. If he starts doing anything untoward I’m leaving.

Go on, love, reassure yourself, get comfortable. I intend to make you very happy shortly, he thought, watching, waiting. And nothing happened. Deal or No Deal continued until 8:00 and the aforementioned woman walked away with only $5,000 when she could’ve had $165,800. The next contestant was an extremely animated middle-aged man who loved pro-wrestling and making suggestive comments at the models. Woo. When a weekly crime drama came on next, Sarah switched over to the public broadcasting station - it was an outdoor concert filmed at night in Germany featuring André Rieu and his godlike persona (not to mention his virtuoso talent on the violin.)

“Don’t get me wrong, this guy’s got talent, but he’s too full of himself,” Sarah started to editorialize. “I‘ve seen him before. What is it with these professional musicians, especially classical ones? They get good at something and all-of-a-sudden it goes right to their-”

It was then that Jareth’s fingernails made gentle but forceful contact with her scalp, fanning slowly out then slowly back in, over and over, releasing a huge dose of endorphins directly into her bloodstream. All conscious thought immediately ceased and she was helplessly reveling in the sensation. She was melting it felt so wonderful; she knew she was smiling like an idiot. At last she reached her limit and began to feel a bit groggy as he stopped the motion and began idly caressing her hair.

Nothing up my sleeve my ass, she thought, suddenly reflecting on how easily she had complied with his wishes just now. Tearing down personal guards like this was only supposed to happen at New Age retreats like Esalen in California. It wasn’t supposed to happen in real life. And his hand was still stroking her hair. It was almost uncomfortably like the way someone would stroke a dog. Good little human. She turned to look at him and found him already watching her.

“Thank you,” he whispered. There was sincere gratitude in his expression, his eyes. A small, sad little smile. Why was he sad? There was an awkward moment of silence - he seemed to be on the brink of asking her something when he suddenly broke eye contact, discreetly swallowing, gaze fixed on the television. She turned away again. Then changed her mind.



“What were you thinking about just now?”

He met her eyes warmly for a moment before staring off into space.

“Something foolish,” he sighed.

Sarah almost let it drop but found that she couldn’t; she had to know.

“Like what?” she pried.

He looked down again, surprised by her nerve, a smirking half-smile gracing his face.
“When one has been a diplomat and courtier as long as I have, one learns to choose one’s words carefully.”

His cryptic answer only left her more curious but it was obvious that she wasn’t going to get anything more out of him tonight. She resignedly turned back to the television. There was a reason he wasn’t telling. There was a reason that he, the fearless king of the goblins, had stopped cold in his tracks mere moments before saying something to her. A reason. Like the reason she hadn’t made any effort to dissuade his hand. As much as both of them wanted to deny it, there was a slowly growing attraction between them.

Like cancer, Sarah thought. It was obvious enough when they had danced: how possessively he held her, the way his eyes never left her. The way those eyes sparked thrills of dark excitement within her, the way his voice could turn her knees to water if he spoke in a certain tone; she was lost when she was in his arms. If it weren’t for extenuating circumstances…it was always ‘if.’ If didn’t count. She could’ve screamed in frustration. But he was still there, silently caressing her hair, an odd comfort in an even stranger situation. The current program was putting her to sleep. She went to turn it off and to her surprise his hand fell limply away. She quickly turned to him - and relaxed: he had fallen asleep. There was just a hint of a smile on his lips. Sarah wasn’t used to seeing him so vulnerable, it was a bit awkward.

And warming, watch out. Very carefully she lifted his right arm and positioned it over his chest, then draped the comforter over him. It was fairly warm in the room but she wasn’t sure if he still might need it. She walked around and turned out all the lights, turning on the one in the bathroom - then curiosity got the better of her. Ever since Jareth had started magicking that bed together every night she had wondered what it was really like. But she certainly wasn’t going to show any interest while he was there - and he was always there. But now he was safely unconscious, what was the harm? Oh hell, there was plenty of harm but she didn’t know if she’d get another chance to really try it out. Careful not to disturb the fine sheets, Sarah sat down. Then lay down…..

…….and woke up to Jareth staring right in her face! She screamed in terror before realizing who it was.

“Good morning,” he purred drolly, sitting back on his heels.

“What in the world do you think you’re…” and it was then that she noticed that the sheets beneath her were satin. Ooops…

Jareth watched her with open amusement as she practically leaped off of the bed as if it were on fire and tried in vain to straighten herself - she was still dressed in her work clothes from the night before.

“Perhaps we’ll let it slide just this once seeing that it was an accident.” He tiredly closed his eyes for a moment. “At any rate you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t be late for work.”

“Why, what time is it?” she yawned.

“5:34. Your alarm woke me up - you usually shut if off within seconds of its sounding but it was left buzzing unabated this morning. And when I got up to see why you hadn’t turned it off…well….I suddenly realized why.” He looked at Sarah with a quietly predatory smile as she started to inch away, turning several shades of red.

“…I was curious,” she confessed.

“Clearly. You know, you could’ve just asked; this is your domain, as you are so fond of reminding me.”

“It seemed…I don’t know…”

He raised an eyebrow.

“Anyway, you don’t have to worry about finding me there again.”

There’s a pity, he thought.

She turned around. “Did you just say what I think you just said?”

“I didn’t say anything,” he answered in total honesty, looking every bit as surprised as she was. He would have to exercise more caution around her from here on out; his increasing power increased the risk of him projecting his own thoughts. At a higher level such things just didn’t happen but he was becoming more and more aware of the instability of the gaining state. Things simply didn’t work the same. It was like having the magical disruption experienced during the nymph stage all over again: improved performance but with less accuracy. Sarah looked like she hadn’t believed one word that had just come out of his mouth but was considering it anyway because of the oath. She shook her head quickly and walked to the bathroom to take a shower, half-convinced it was just her imagination. By the time she got out and dressed for the day she had almost dismissed it entirely as an after-effect of being scared awake in a strange bed. But…

Oh well, nothing to be done about it now. She went to tell him goodbye and found him asleep in his bed. In the exact place and position that she had been in! All right, now that one’s just a little bit strange… unless he’s making use of the warm spot I left behind…or…oh! Sometimes the best course of action was to simply walk away and Sarah did precisely that, quietly locking the door behind her as she always did before she left for work.


The day turned out to be particularly trying. With a three-million-dollar government initiative at stake, Nikola Motors was growing impatient to the point that they had just delivered an ultimatum: if there wasn’t significant progress in two weeks they were going to take their business overseas, most likely to Japan. They would scrap her program just like that, throw away almost a year’s worth of research just because the people in charge were assholes and were wealthy enough to get away with it. Sarah wasn’t sure whether she wanted to scream or cry - sort of both in alternating waves. She was so frustrated it was all she could do not to pound her desk with her bare fists when the meeting was adjourned and she was once again in the safety of her cubicle. She was burned out.

How could they…? Enough, she forced herself to breathe normally. No more today. It would be here tomorrow. Sarah thought for a moment, then locked her briefcase in the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet, simply taking her purse home. If nobody else gave a shit about what she was doing, why should she kill herself over a project she would most likely be signed away from in two weeks? At least the travesty would be over but it would still leave a bitter taste in her mouth; she couldn’t help thinking how close they were. If only they had more time.

As usual, ‘if only’ doesn’t cut it, she thought tersely as she watched Denver appear as she went over the hill on Interstate 40, crossing Irving St. She sighed. No more tonight. She wasn’t going to think about it anymore tonight. She had grabbed Mexican takeout on the way home for herself; it was late enough that Jareth had probably already eaten dinner but she’d give him her chips and guacamole if he hadn’t felt like facing more Chinese; God knows they would be eating the leftovers for a few days. By the time she pulled into the parking lot she had already had a good cry.

At least I won’t be doing it in front of him, she thought as she checked herself in the mirror before getting out of the car. As she entered the building, freestyle jazz was emanating from her apartment. I’d pay good money to watch him try to dance to that, she smirked, climbing the stairs. She opened the door and found him sitting on the couch reading the newspaper; the different sections were strewn out all over the coffee table. He didn’t even look up as he spoke to her.

“I’m beginning to understand the human obsession with fantasy and escapism - most of this is positively horrid. And this particular type of music is so frenetic I simply can’t get used to it; I’ve been listening to it for three hours to no avail.”

Sarah walked over and turned the radio off, casually ripped the world news section out of his hands and placed the comics in his lap. He looked up at her a bit quizzically.

“We’re in an odd mood tonight. What happened at work?”

She sighed. “I don’t even want to talk about it.” She was about to walk to the kitchen when she suddenly changed her mind and sat down in the recliner, opening the paper bag. She roughly tore into it, taking him a bit by surprise. “They’re shutting down the project.”


“You heard. If there’s no progress in two weeks, they’re canceling on us. Nikola Motors can’t afford it anymore.”

“But you’ve worked so hard on this! They can’t!”

“Money talks, Jareth. You of all people should understand that,” she said bitterly, diving into her vegetarian fajita burrito.

“I am not in the habit of firing someone because I’ve asked too much of them,” he spat out. “I’m going to stop them,” he added darkly, getting up.

“No, you’re not. Sit back down,” Sarah calmly ordered between bites. He eyed her for a moment then quietly did as he was told. The last thing he needed was for her to be angry at him.

“Well, we have to do something.”

“Do you know how to build this stupid battery?!” she finally snapped. “You tell me and we’ll both know!”

He went silent, staring at his folded hands. He had to help her, this was the beginning of everything she had ever wanted; he couldn’t let a handful of short-sighted idiots take that dream away. Perhaps if he did more research on the companies involved he could dig up something useful. Sarah was opening up the guac and set both it and the chips on the table.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you, J.,” she sighed tiredly, shaking her head, “I’m just at my wit’s end here. I don’t know what we’re going to do. Want some?”

He shook his head. “It’s alright, go ahead; I have already eaten.” It was obvious from the caloric density that this was what humans called ‘comfort food’.

“Just try one. Bet you’ll like it,” she said with a half smile, fighting her way through the enormous burrito. He reached over and dipped one of the chips into the odd, green goo before consuming it. She was right, it was actually quite good in spite of its appearance - some sort of spiced vegetable paste - but she needed it more than he did. He sat back and let her finish her meal in peace, reading through the sets of blocked pictures she’d handed him. It was obviously the humor section. After she finished she went to the kitchen and disposed of her trash. Then had an idea. There was half a bottle of tequila in the very back of the pantry - it was leftover from the office Christmas party, she had almost completely forgotten about it and had half a mind to make up some drinks. Sarah didn’t indulge often but tonight was going to be an exception; her company could certainly stomach it. “Any preferences on flavoring, Jareth?” He looked up.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m making drinks. What would you like?” Jareth sighed a bit disappointedly and put down the paper.

“Sarah, your alcohol tolerance level is relatively low,” he looked concerned. She turned her head to look at him, eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, that was the idea,” she nodded.

“But you have to work tomorrow; you’ll regret getting drunk.”

In spite of the brave performance she was turning in, it was obvious that Sarah was on the brink of crying when she talked again; her voice was breaking up.

“J., right now I don’t give a shit about work. I just don’t want to think about this anymore for a while, okay?”

His eyes suddenly lit up and he looked away with a dangerous little smile. “What if I were to offer you an alternative that could do just that - temporarily get your mind off of your troubles - but without any after effects?”

Sarah turned all the way around, looking extremely dubious. “What exactly are we talking about here? I don’t want whatever it was you slipped me before and I certainly don’t want anything addictive or dangerous.”

He looked thoughtful. “Well, it’s only dangerous if you’re unsupervised - which you wouldn’t be - and it’s only addictive if you’re on it too long. I’d time you to precisely twenty minutes - no more, no less. You would be perfectly safe. What do you say?” He was wearing a devilishly debonair little smile.

She still looked unsure as she walked back to the living room. “I’ll reiterate my first question: what are you talking about?”

“A potion, diluted to be just right for your weight and constitution. And no, it’s not what you had before.” He produced a crystal and it dissolved into a small, dark blue vial with a cork stopper. He brought it up to eye level and regarded it as an old friend. “I’ve been known to socially indulge in this one myself,” he smirked. “It is called Fountain of Youth colloquially and is considered by many of my kind to be a godsend since we spent so much of our lives as adults. There always has to be at least one sober person in the room to administer the remedy at the right time and to monitor the participants to make sure they don’t do anything too stupid. The general effect is giddiness and some loss of inhibition and maturity, not unlike what is experienced in youth - hence the name. Most individuals end up rather silly so you can well imagine the kind of stories that circulate after one of these parties: sometimes well-buried thoughts and feelings come to the fore when the person didn’t even know they were there. Oh, the scandal,” he laughed. “I don’t think you have any nasty little surprises to worry about as far as that’s concerned, though; we’ve already dug through your closet of skeletons and I feel well-acquainted with each and every last one of them - I seriously doubt there’s anything more left to surface.” And what you haven’t told me, I know. “I thought we’d take turns if you don’t mind - ladies first. At any rate, you’ll see what it does so what I’m like won’t surprise you.”

She seriously considered the offer but with a healthy amount of trepidation. “This would require a huge amount of trust on my part.”

“That was a side benefit, yes,” he smiled, parodying her.

“…what’s the cure?”

“Salt,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Salt? That’s all?”


“…how much?”

“In your case? One quarter-teaspoonful, swallowed without water.”

“Oh yuck!”

“That’s nothing - you should see how much I have to consume.” There was a playful little smirk on his face. “Come on, have I ever knowingly hurt you?”

“I know, it’s just that ‘knowing’ part,” she winced.

His voice was flat. “Sarah, this isn’t guesswork, it’s science; I had to learn how to do this.”

She seriously thought. Of anyone she had ever known, she honestly couldn’t find anymore more capable of handling her life carefully when placed into his hands. She had already done it on a small scale with his meditation and the dancing and some of the exercises they had done. And dealing with her boss. This was the next logical step. But how many more would there have to be?

Oh, who cares! This was your idea in the first place. He’s only trying to help.

“Sarah, for what it’s worth, I will not intrude on your will any farther. You’ve volunteered more than I would’ve ever done if the roles were reversed.”

She nodded solemnly, her decision made. “…okay.”

He broadly smiled at her like ‘I knew you could do it!’ and got up and walked over to the kitchen sink. “Where is your salt, by the way? We’d best have it readily on hand.”

“I have a canister of plain sea salt above the sink in the top cupboard,” she said, sitting down on the couch.

“Good girl,” he smirked, locating it and placing it on the countertop. “Morgan’s the chemist of the family,” he said, perusing her glass cupboard for a tall water glass and a small wine taster. She could only see his back but it looked like he had filled the water glass with tap water, measuring out just a drop of the potion at eye-level. “She has the patience and acumen for all that memorizing and careful measuring of hundreds of thousands of different ingredients. Not I,” he smiled wryly, stirring the glass with one of the wooden chop sticks that had come with the previous night’s dinner. “I only keep about a dozen potions on hand at any given time, the rudimentary basics really: sleep spells, truth serum, pixie-led, forgetting, remembering, aphrodisiacs, the odd recreational - stuff like that.” He filled the wine taster with the liquid and poured the rest down the drain - only to pour the remainder back into the empty water glass to dilute it again! “My sister got her talent from our mother. Would you believe that my mother, who is considered by many to be a saint, had the audacity to slip my father a potion - oh yes, he was High King at the time - and bedded him just so she could force him to marry her out of all those other courtiers just because she was carrying his first son?” He actually sounded proud of her.

So, sneaky and conniving runs in the family after all, Sarah thought. They just don’t talk about it. Polite society and all that. Jareth finished by filling the wine taster again - only half-full - dumping the rest down the sink with a hefty shake of salt and throwing away the chopstick after it had been well-coated with salt as well.

“So it doesn’t contaminate the water supply,” he said, washing his hands and drying them on a paper towel (that got salted as well) before picking up her glass and bringing it back into the living room, sitting back down on the couch beside her. She had no idea where he’d stashed the vial. He looked at the clock on the wall in the dining room before handing it to her. “It’s 7:41 now so I’ll administer the salt at 8:00 sharp. Go ahead and drink up, dear,” he prompted her with a smile. She eyed the glass curiously and gave the contents a sniff - it had a pungent, earthy smell with just a tang of something she couldn’t quite recognize. She glanced over and saw his look of excited anticipation.

Here’s hoping you’re not your mother, she thought resignedly, knocking it back. She felt him take the glass from her hand as her vision swam and the air suddenly felt hot and fuzzy against her skin, almost like a blanket. The sensation left as quickly as it came and she felt her eyes adjust as the room came back into focus. Only she wasn’t. She looked over and remembered Jareth was there. All-of-a-sudden her eyes raked him almost without her conscious volition and she found herself blushing and giggling like she was a teenager!

He had watched her go through the hallucinatory phase unperturbed - her eyes fully dilated for a moment and her body temperature was briefly high as the potion began to dance through her veins but her breathing remained unaffected and she was calm upon becoming aware again - she was doing splendidly. When she started giggling he knew it was time to interact.

“What’s so funny?” he teased her.

“You’re pretty,” she said quietly, lightly chewing on a finger.

“Why, thank you,” he genially replied. Gods, she’s tempting this way! He continued in a gentle tone of voice, as one would use with a child. “We have twenty minutes, Sarah. What do you want to do?” She looked up at the ceiling like she was thinking, suddenly gasped and stood bolt up.


“Sorry, love, but we have to stay in the apartment and you don’t have much space in here.” She crossed her arms and sulked. “Come now, what can we do in here that’s fun?” he gently urged her. A slow grin spread across her face.



“Twister! I haven’t played this since I was little, come on!” she called to him as she ran to the hall closet and began digging through the contents of the top shelf until she came across the right box. She triumphantly carried it back to the living room and shoved the table out of the way, laying the game cloth out on the floor. Jareth had never seen the game before and wondered what it all entailed. She took the spinner out of the box and put it down on the table. “Take those big boots off and get over here,” she said, ripping off her loafers and casting them aside. With an amused smirk he removed his footwear as he was bade and walked over to play.

“How is this done?”

“Put your hand or foot on what the spinner says.”

He thought for a moment. “But one of us must be able to spin.”

“Yeah. And?”

Jareth grabbed the box off the coffee table and quickly read the short paragraph of instructions. Sarah had clearly forgotten how it was played; it required a third person to spin and call out the moves for both players - they had to be able to move simultaneously. Other than that obstacle it seemed a fairly simple little game - the opponents tried to keep their balance until one fell down. Jareth was a bit concerned about the wooden floor but quickly amended the problem by making a small Persian rug materialize beneath the game cloth. The old piece of plastic had obviously seen plenty of use in its day. Now that left the spinner…

“Would you mind if I spun?”

“Okay, but you can’t tell it where to stop,” she pointed out triumphantly.

“Ah, I can’t trick you, now can I?”

She shook her head no with a huge, playful grin. He put the box back down on the table and put the spinner down on the floor, passing a hand over it and muttering something under his breath. They stood opposite each other to start and the arrow on the spinner took a good little twirl on its own, slowly landing on green foot. They were both surprised that the first few plays were feet only. Of course, when an arm play was finally required, they were instantly in hideous positions, his crest was bapping her in the face.


“Sorry, love.” It instantly disappeared only to rematerialize in his pocket.

“Red foot? Oh yeah right.”

“Do it, I’m waiting,” he teased her, shifting his right foot over one circle. Sarah took a couple of deep breaths and switched all the way around so that she was facing up - the needed foot had to grab the spot way out on the edge in a difficult stretch between his legs.

“Bravo,” he purred and spun again. “Ye gods.”

“Quit complaining,” she teased him sing-songily, easily shifting her right hand. Jareth gritted his teeth and reached over her torso to the left but he couldn’t quite make the reach - it was too far and she was deliberately positioned to be in his way - and he came crashing down on top of her! He immediately rolled off of her and sat up. She was just lying there, laughing her head off.

“Are you alright?”

She nodded affirmatively. “You lose!” she taunted, grinning.

“Ah, but that was only round one! We still have time for another.”

He gave Sarah a careful hand up. Once she was standing, she suddenly looked at him with a half-believing amused expression as if struck with an idea. Out of the blue she crossed the small distance between them and, bending her knees a bit, lifted him off of his feet! In spite of his height and strength he really didn’t weigh that much; he couldn’t have been more than 100 lbs. It seemed comical that someone like Jareth could be so light; it must’ve had to do with him being Sidhe. He looked down at her with an annoyedly amused little smile.

“Excuse you.”

She gave a laugh and put him back down. “You weigh less than me!”

“Just because I look like this on the outside doesn’t mean I’m built like you on the inside.”


“No, not really; you’ve just never known a Sidhe before. I’m going to win this time.”

“No stretching.”

“…you’re taking all the fun out of this!”

She stuck her tongue out at him briefly and the game began. In spite of her potioned state, Sarah had incredible balance and was remarkably limber. He ended up underneath her this time around, struggling to keep in position. He noticed that she was deliberately trying to block his moves with her body, making getting to the right circles harder and harder. At last there was one stretch of the legs that was simply too far and he grabbed her shirt for balance, making them both fall again. He turned beneath her and pulled her to himself as she had begun to get up, taking her by surprise. She was so beautiful, so entirely herself like this, with all the pretense and pretending stripped away. She was blatantly eying his mouth with open hunger and he was half-considering beating her to the point when he glanced up at the clock: he had one minute remaining! He jumped up, forcing her to sit as a whiny protest escaped her throat. Within seconds the plastic ¼ teaspoon of salt was before her lips.

“Sarah, you must eat this now, it’s for your own good.”

“But I don’t wanna! That tastes yucky!” Her pouting was sounding younger by the instant and he knew he didn’t have a moment to lose. With a thought he forced her mouth open and tipped the entire contents of the spoon onto her tongue before shutting it again. She grimaced against the taste, shuddering. The fact that she hadn’t acted shocked right there was proof enough of how high she was getting.

“Swallow.” She shook her head. “Swallow, damn it! Time is of the essence!” He kept her steady as she finally forced it down. He had almost waited too long. She slowly closed her eyes but her breathing was even and at a decent pace. After a few seconds she sighed deeply and slowly shook her head, blinking a few times as if waking up. She saw Jareth and gasped lightly as she regained full consciousness. He expression was all concern but it immediately melted into relief as he let out the breath he didn’t even realize he had been holding. “Oh, thank the gods,” he sighed, letting go of her left shoulder to caress her cheek. Her look was one of warning.

“Jareth, I thought you said that was safe.”

“I didn’t realize you were going to fight me! Although, really, I should’ve anticipated it; you were quite rebellious as a child. We still technically caught it in enough time, though. How do you feel?”

Sarah stopped for a moment and seriously thought about it. “…I feel great!” she laughed, almost unbelieving. “I don’t feel like we did anything at all! Oh for crying out loud…” She had just noticed the Twister game on the floor beneath them. Of all the things to do with him…wait…I picked him up?! That took nerve. She smiled and silently laughed at the surfacing memory. Jareth watched her remembering, relieved. They had cut it far too close for comfort but she was going to be just fine. In a blink of an eye the game was gone and Sarah could finally see the rug he had made for the game: it was ornately designed and in many different colors but the predominant one in the border and the background was a reddish burgundy.

“My turn,” he said with a devious smile. “I am accustomed to timing myself but still watch the clock - I only get fifteen minutes. I will also warn you that while I will experience many of the same effects that you just did, I am also known to be more volatile than usual when I am like this, both in temperament and magic so try not to provoke me any more than absolutely necessary.” While he was talking he had walked back over to the couch and had motioned for Sarah to come over, too. Starting to wonder if this had been such a good idea after all, Sarah carefully sat down to his right as he pulled out the vial again. She noted that the salt canister had been relocated to the coffee table. He carefully removed the cork, toasted her with half a smile and took a shot straight off the bottle, quickly replacing the cork it and making it disappear again. The potion knocked him back into the couch almost immediately and Sarah watched concernedly as his eyes rolled up before they closed. His breathing was very slow yet even as if he had just passed out…but then a big, lazy smile spread across his face.

Oh yeah, he’s flying, Sarah smirked, shaking her head. Figures. Suddenly Jareth’s eyes shot open as if he had been struck by lightning and his strange, fierce gaze flicked immediately to her! Holy shit! He looked as furious as a volcano and as deadly as a viper as he began to slowly advance on her, backing her into the corner of the couch. Oh. My. God. He is going to kill me! Shit! I never should’ve agreed to this!

“What no one knew was that the king of the goblins was the world’s most ruthless, calculating, and unmerciful…”

Here it comes, please be quick! She winced her eyes closed against the attack.


At that he immediately began to assault her ribs and armpits with flying-fast fingers and a huge, fierce grin on his face! Sarah had been so surprised that she had had absolutely no time to react and was helplessly laughing, pleading him to stop, trying in vain to force his hands away, he was far too fast for her. At last she was so winded that she was red in the face and could scarcely breathe by the time he relented. There was an oddly incongruous emotion in his eyes as he watched her pant, catching her breath, smiling up at him - both excited and tender - and before Sarah realized what was happening he shot forward and kissed her. At first she was so surprised that she simply sat there frozen but in the next moment she completely melted, her knees and back turning to water as she returned his languorous kiss automatically, sighing. Her head was reeling from the sensation as he began to stroke his tongue against hers, lightly at first then deeper as she allowed him access. Oh god, it felt incredible. His fingers ran through her hair, stroking her, guiding her mouth in his sensual dance of kisses. His hands slid around her back and soon she was effectively pinned beneath him in a rather advantageous position, with her legs pushed gently apart, as he continued his ravishing invasion of her mouth. Her own hands seemed to find their way around his back, up to cradle his head to her, her body beginning to take over, urging him closer. She could taste the potion on his mouth and the residue alone was beginning to weaken her willpower. It was delicious. She wouldn’t be able to take much more of this exquisitely beautiful torture or she would crack and it seemed he was in the same boat. Within another breath, he ground into her. Startled aware by the pleasure he had just elicited from her and her own sudden need, she managed to shove him off of her back onto the couch. He looked stunned for a moment, panting, then turned away, crossing both his arms and legs, his nose turned up in a snit.

“I’m sorry, Jareth, but you’re intoxicated!” she said, pouring some salt into her hand and licking it away as a preventative measure; that weird fever had started to return again but it quickly dissipated.

“And you are intoxicating,” he shot over his shoulder, his dark gaze filled with desire, it was almost magnetic. Sarah could feel herself blushing again, painfully aware now of the fact that Jareth could most likely seduce her with unspeakable ease if he really put his mind to it. In fact, a part of her was more than willing to find out what it was like, but such a game was even more dangerous than the one they were currently playing. Trying to regain her cool, Sarah addressed him again, flustered.

“Why don’t we play another game?”

He turned all the way around with a look of wickedly heated interest. “What a wonderful idea, my Sarah,” he purred her name, sending chills down her spine as he began to move closer. “Where shall I begin, mm?”

Sarah involuntarily gasped and it took every last shred of her self-control not to fling herself at him then and there. Why did he have to be so damned tempting?! It was his eyes, she finally realized. And his voice. And…oh!

“I meant a board game out of my closet,” she said as flatly as possible.

“…what if we just skipped the game and did the closet?”


“Fine, be a cold fish,” he pouted, stalking off to the hallway. After some rummaging on the top shelf, he finally found something that caught his eye and he pulled it free. Sarah could’ve sworn she’d just heard him giggle.

Good grief, it must be taking effect in stages! Well, he does have a little farther to go, she smirked a bit cruelly. When he came back in with a big smile and bright eyes carrying the Pretty Pretty Princess game, Sarah could’ve just died. She was really doing her best not to laugh aloud but biting her lips inward as she shook with silent laughter wide-eyed was apparently just as bad.

“What?! You said I was pretty!” he exclaimed in a bizarrely childish voice. Just hearing him speak like that was enough to scare her into silence.


“You said we could play any game in your closet and I wanna play this one!”

“Alright, let’s set up,” she nodded, smiling. Oh. My. God. He sat down on the rug and she went over and sat also, getting the game out of the box. She hadn’t touched it since she was…well…fourteen. It had still been her favorite crown even though she didn’t play the game at that point. Boy did this bring back memories. “What color do you want to play?”

“Purple, ‘cause I’m a king.” It was so surreal; he really sounded like he was five years old. Even his eyes sparkled like a young boy’s. It was a complete paradox. When she pulled out the yellow game piece so she could sit opposite him, he protested. “Nah, you be blue.”

Don’t argue with him, it’s only a game. “Okay.” They both put their pieces on the board and spun to see who would go first. When Jareth took his turn, the spinner landed on a two - then suddenly jumped to a four. “Hey!”


“You cheated!”

“You didn’t say how I had to spin,” he smiled triumphantly.

“You have to let it stop on its own.”

“Oh fine,” he sulked. Sarah started. After a few turns they both had some of the jewelry they needed and Jareth had just gotten the crown (of course he had to stop and ‘admire the pretty pretty prince[ss]’ in the cheap mirror on the back of the spinner and remark on his plasticky splendor - he was being a stickler for the rules now just to be annoying but Sarah got the distinct feeling that he would’ve done it anyway.) When Jareth clipped on his first earring he did it too hard; he winced and ripped it off angrily, casting it back in the circular jewelry box in the center of the game board.

“You don’t have to wear them if it hurts, Jareth,” she reassured him, taking it back out of the box and placing it in front of him. “Just keep them by you.”

“But you’re wearing yours.”


“Doesn’t it hurt?”

“No, not really. They pinch a little, though. Try putting it on more slowly this time.” Looking at her, he was a bit skeptical of what she had just said but not to be outdone by a girl, Jareth put it on more carefully and it closed without pinching. He leaned in conspiratorially.

“I’ve seen gypsies with their ears pierced before. I liked how it made them look but it must’ve hurt a lot,” he whispered.

You bully, you are scared of getting hurt! I’ll show you. Sarah lifted her hair back and deliberately showed him where her ears were pierced, watching his eyes go wide, first with disbelief, then in new-found admiration. “My mother paid to have them done when I was a little girl.”

“Didn’t it hurt?”

“Of course; I cried when they put them in. They bled a little for a few days. You have to wear these special posts to make sure they heal that way.”

“Ha ha, you cried,” he taunted her.

“And you wouldn’t?”

“Come on, let’s go! I’m no sissy!” he jumped to his feet.

“Oh no you won’t.”

“And WHY NOT?!” He was suddenly furious. Sarah gulped but forced herself to remain calm. His words from before echoed in her memory. ‘I am quite volatile this way.’

“Because the needles they use to do it here are iron,” she said flatly. He noticeably paled and quietly sat back down, looking a bit sheepish. The game resumed. Jareth was considerably in the lead but he had acquired the Black Ring and had to get rid of it in order to win.

“What if the Black Ring was my special power ring?”

“Oh? And what special powers would your ring have?” It was exactly like playing with a child.

“It would let me turn into anything. Grow a hundred feet. Travel to distant planets and stars. Anything I want, of course,” he pronounced, sounding quite the conceit.

The world’s always revolved around you, hasn’t it? Sarah thought ruefully. She was down a necklace and the crown but all he was missing was a bracelet. After a few redundant plays Jareth finally got rid of the Black ring and hit a ‘pick any piece’ - he had just won for the first time all night. He was busy admiring himself in the mirror when an idea suddenly struck Sarah and it was all she could do to keep from laughing aloud. “Would His Majesty mind if I made his portrait on an instant device?” she asked as formally as she could muster without busting up.

“Not at all,” he waved her off. Sarah got up and ran to her bedroom to get her digital camera. She came back in and carefully centered the screen.

“If His Majesty would be so kind as to smile.” Jareth obliged her with a huge, cheeky grin that was so big his eyes were squinted closed. “Perfect.” She got the shot and put the camera down on the coffee table. They had begun picking up the game when Jareth began really looking about himself with a confused expression and suddenly remembered where he was. Sarah had thought that she would never see the day when she saw him afraid but here he was, looking as scared as a little boy. His eyes met hers.

“I wanna go home,” he almost sobbed. Sarah’s heart almost broke hearing him say that: no matter how tough, indifferent, and nonchalant he was on the outside, on the inside he was terrified of his current situation. She wanted to hug him and console him and tell him everything would be alright but she knew she couldn’t make promises like that. Not when he didn’t even know for certain himself. She checked the clock - it was almost time to end it.

“Here, take your salt,” she said gently with a look of genuine sympathy and care, handing him the canister. He sniffed and nodded his head, seeming to remember what he had to do. Opening the spout, he proceeded to pour it straight down his throat for two or three seconds, stopping abruptly, spluttering at the taste, taking a bit more and putting it back down on the coffee table, smacking his lips, trying to clear his mouth of the flavor. Sarah got up and got him a glass of tap water and he downed it heartily and begged for another. His eyes were glazed. After the second glass was drained he managed to set it down on the table and proceeded to lie down on his back on the floor, eyes closed, panting in obvious relief. At length he stiffly sat back up and was met by Sarah’s concerned gaze. “Are you all right?”

“Quite. You gave me the salt at the proper time,” he replied in a conversational voice, as if reverting back to one’s childhood was an everyday occurrence. It was then that he noticed that he was still wearing the plastic crown. He gingerly removed it from his head and eyed it with a bemused little smirk. Then the memories started coming back… “Let me see that device for a moment,” he gestured toward the table with a devious little half-smile.

“Not on your life, this one’s priceless,” Sarah smiled, carrying her little treasure trove to her bedroom, stashing it in her underwear drawer. When she came back into the room the princess game was packed up on the coffee table but Jareth was still sitting on the floor cross-legged with an enigmatic little smile. It was an unnervingly unreadable expression that could’ve meant a hundred different things at once or none of them and for some reason Sarah found it strangely attractive. How much of who he was was wrapped up in what he was? What would it be like having to explain being human? Could one ever truly separate one’s personality completely from one’s physical existence? Jareth could tell that the gears were turning. It was infuriating not knowing what she was thinking, but if it put her at ease, so be it.

“You’re not supposed to be thinking, love, you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself,” he drawled smoothly.

“I was just pondering something completely crazy.”

“No doubt to do with me.”

“You’re such a conceit!”

He simply shrugged. “If it had been about anything else you would’ve spoken freely - don’t deny it, I know you too well,” he smiled teasingly.

Sarah stopped. “But that means that you do the exact-” He cut her off, clearing his throat, looking away. Fine, we’re even, she mentally smirked.

“Do we still feel like games or did you feel up to a different pursuit by now?” The question was stated as simply as ‘pass the salt’ but the underlying innuendo was painfully apparent. Sarah did her best to pretend not to notice.

“What kind of games do you play at home?”

Jareth gave a laugh. “Hardly anything that you’d play here. Rough-housing with the goblins, keeping up intrigues at court, smashing crystals against the wall in sheer boredom - like I said, nothing you could do here and, really, it isn’t all that entertaining in the first place. Wait - I do play chess. No, it would be wrong of me to ask you.” He waved off the idea.

“Why? Can’t you play against a human?”

“I haven’t lost a game in over four centuries,” he stated flatly.

Sarah gulped, blinking. “Who did you lose to?”

“Sylvanias. I lost several acres of land to the north. He wanted to cultivate it to grow food for his province - it’s rather overcrowded as it is.”

“So you bet when you play.”

“It is an honor-bound tradition. Both players must be willing to wager something.”

“What did you wager him?

“Tax-free imports. You see, these things are rarely done for leisure by adult Sidhe.”

“Are you really that busy?”

“No, dear, not usually. It’s just the society.”

“Did you used to play for fun?”

He sighed wistfully, nodding. “Yes, but it was a very long time ago.”

“You miss it, then.”

He nodded again.

“We could play for cheap thrills just to see how fast you can beat me. I used to play a bit in college but that was a while back for me, too. When was the last time you played a human anyway?”

“You don’t even want to know,” he smiled sardonically.

“See? I might have some sort of secret advantage, you never know,” she teased him.

He regarded her with a frowning smirk. “You’re awfully bent on getting trampled.”

“I have to admit I’m curious.”

“Ah, very well.”

Sarah got up to get her set out of the closet but Jareth put a hand up to stop her.

“We’ll use mine.” He stared at the carpet in front of him seemingly holding a shape with his hands and before Sarah could object to his frivolous use of power the most elaborately carved chess set she had ever laid eyes on neatly appeared in front of him on the floor. It was an extremely old design with early medieval-looking pieces - no, Viking, Norse - save the board itself, which had every other square carved in a beautiful Celtic knot with animorphic beasts and birds intertwined along the inch-thick base. The board looked like carved marble with tinting to offset the designs but the playing pieces were priceless: they were literally carved from solid chunks of onyx and - dare she think it - emerald. There were no white pieces. It really was a chess set fit for a king. To complete Sarah’s surprise, Jareth lay down on his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows as if this was nothing more spectacular than checkers. And looked up. “Well? You’re the one who wanted to challenge me. Have a seat.” Sarah came back over and sat back down, still admiring it. It looked like it should’ve been in a museum and not sitting here in her living room.

“I’m afraid to touch it! You actually play with these?”

“Of course. Not to worry - you can’t even scratch them: watch this.” And with that he picked up an emerald knight and bounced it off the hard wooden floor, making Sarah jump slightly. He picked it back up and showed it to her closely. “See? No harm done. They need polishing occasionally but that’s all. The set was made to withstand me. It was a gift from my parents.” They set up with Sarah as green and Jareth as black - but he suddenly changed his mind. “I always play black, I want to be green for a change.”

“Whatever, I don’t care, it’s your game,” she laughed.

He regarded her for a moment. “Usually a choice in color tells something about an opponent. You have no preference, that’s interesting.”

“Maybe I just don’t have deep, dark secrets like everyone else you know,” she rolled her eyes.

“That is a distinct possibility,” he smirked. “We still have to determine the bet. What would you want from me if the gods intervene and you win?”

“Could you be any more sure of yourself, J?”

“Well - yes, you’re playing a fae king, dear; it’s usually my job to win. Now what do you want from me if I lose?”

Sarah thought for a moment. “What would you want from me?”

Jareth looked thoughtful. “Well, since it’s almost guaranteed that you are going to lose I shall choose something practical. Let’s see…” After a moment his eyes suddenly lit up with a glorious idea. “I’ll make you a sporting offer: if I ever find clothing in an aboveground shop that is comparable to my regular wardrobe, you will not only let me wear mine similarly in public but you will buy me a suit of it, just to prove that it exists. I know you think that you are doing what is best here but I tire of the constant charade whenever we go anywhere.”

Sarah surrendered a half-smile. She had never really cared much about clothing but a fashion maven like Jareth was probably inwardly seething at the thought that his sense of personal style was being so far compromised even if it was in the name of safety.

“It can’t be a costume shop.”



“And yours?”

A slow smile spread across Sarah’s face. “You have to tell me what it was you were thinking about last night on the couch.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake, Sarah,” he laughed, “is it really bothering you that badly? I shouldn’t have said anything at all!”

“I just don’t like secrets waved in front of my face like that.”

Is that really all, love? A secretive little smile played about his lips. “Done. The pact is set now; play can commence. The challenger always starts first,” he made a welcoming gesture toward her. They began taking out each other’s pawns.

“You said this was a gift from your parents. When did you get it?”

“I was quite young. The age would seem very bizarre to you because it takes my kind a bit longer to physically and mentally mature but suffice it to say that I was a child. Most mornings Syl and I used to sneak away from the governess and hide and play at this until we were caught by the serving staff, led off by our ears to our tutoring. It always took them at least an hour to find us. It is truly amazing that either of us has any ears left,” he laughed. “Sylvanias always had ingenious ideas for places to hide. He had discovered in some of his early ramblings about the castle before I was born that some of the outer walls that were used for defense were hollow in places with secret panel openings and air shafts for archers. We were often in there. Some of them were quite small, not even meant to be manned by a grown sidhe, I believe, but by one of an entirely different species, dwarf or brownie perhaps. I can honestly say that I have never seen them in use. There wasn’t even enough room to sit up straight most of the time.”

Well, that explains his stance at least, Sarah thought as he took her other bishop. The game hadn’t been going on long and he was already beating her quite efficiently. After stopping for a moment seemingly to consider his options, he resumed his play as well as his narrative.

“Anyway, it took me the longest time to figure out why our parents even allowed it to go on for so many years. We certainly weren’t coddled any other way. My father could’ve easily put a stop to it by magically securing our rooms. Each and every time we were caught we were forcibly dragged before them but the most punishment we ever received was a mild reprimand for making so much work for the servants. It was as usual as ‘good morning’. I found out years later from my mother that our father thought our little games were an excellent impromptu lesson in strategy: the careful planning, the signals, covering our tracks, mapping out the next route and anticipating who we would have to avoid to get there. We couldn’t do it the same way twice - they were always on the lookout for us. He even changed the route the castle sentries took at random just to keep us on our toes.” He sighed, shaking his head with a sad smile at the memories. “Father was a sly, old fox. I miss him,” he said quietly. “We tried getting Morgan in on the fun but more often than not she just snitched on us to Mother and it wasn’t long before Syl’s and my studies accelerated to the point that we had precious little time for anything else. The royal training was very heavy and intensive. You must remember, dear, that sidhe are very long-lived, and as a direct result much more is expected to come of it whether the idea is an accurate assumption or not. It is what is aimed for.

I played at it a bit with Morgan in our spare time when she got older but it just wasn’t the same. By the time Kavin came along Syl was already doing his mandatory service for the army as next in lineage for the Crown and I no longer had time to play myself. Kavin’s always been a bit strange; he’s all brain. We wonder if he was born without feelings; it happens sometimes with the fae,” he said, looking thoughtful. “He is significantly younger than any of us. I genuinely believe he was unexpected because he was born during the Great War of the Houses just days after my father died. If he considers himself close to any of us, it’s Morgan. Along with my father, we lost quite a bit of political power during that war and now we rule more like barons, with a High Council and Court to serve final jurisdiction instead of a High King. That lot would’ve fallen to Sylvanias but that’s all the past now. By the way, you may wish to consider moving your king; I can get him in the next couple of turns if you’re not careful.” Sarah looked down at the decimated board. Jareth hadn’t even lost a knight and all she had left were her king and a rook. And they were completely surrounded!

How is that even possible?! “Just get it over with. There’s no way I can get out of that,” she sighed. In two more turns all that was left on the board was green.

“I trust that we don’t care for another round.”

“Yeah, that one was fairly depressing.”

“And the whole idea was to cheer you up,” he tisked. The entire game vanished from between them. “What now?” he looked up at her.

“I don’t know,” she said dejectedly, looking away.

“Whoever comes up with the most despicable limerick wins?”

“I think not,” she smiled.

“I could tickle you until you tell me where you hid that device,” he continued incorrigibly .
“No!” she laughed.

“Try to toss little balls of paper down the front of your blouse?” he smiled, eyes sparkling. He was openly teasing her now.

“Oh you!” Her right hand primed to take a playful bat at his cheek but he suddenly flashed out and caught her by the wrist, mere centimeters from his face. His expression was dangerous. She gasped, eyes wide, and gulped. His grip, while not tight enough to hurt her, was solid as iron. A wry, hard smile, crossed half his face.

“You can punch me in the arm as often as you like but you will learn in time that there are ways in which you never strike a fae.” And with that he brought her palm to his mouth and, closing his eyes, gave it an open-mouthed kiss - just one hot, velvet stroke of his tongue before releasing her. There were butterflies in Sarah’s stomach the simple act was so pleasurable and she was hard-pressed in trying not to let it show, the elbow she was propped up on nearly gave out. She knew that he saw it in her eyes when he met them again. She could feel her will to resist him palpably weakening.

What does it even matter? she thought passively. Why are we trying to hide? Oh god, he’s so… it was then that her rational brain clicked into gear, just in time to save her. Whoa! “Yahzee it is!” she exclaimed, quickly forcing herself to her feet and walking back to the closet. Her turned back saved her the sight of the clear regret written on his face.

“You’re right, Sarah,” he said quietly


“You’re right. I can’t keep compromising you. You aren’t a pawn and it was wrong of me to think that I could use you as one without any consequence,” he stated, staring at the floor. It was as simple as it was blatant and it caught her completely off-guard. She turned to look back at him. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Sarah was speechless as she returned his gaze. They both had known for quite some time what was really going on but it had never been openly admitted to before. He continued, standing himself. “I can get objects through from my world now without much difficulty, thanks to you. Perhaps I should try to send out a signal that I am here. But to who?”

“Surely the Council would be concerned for your safety.”

He gave her a terse smile. “Underground Politics 101, dear: never ask an acquaintance when you can utilize your immediate family - they usually require less payoff. Now let’s see…Kavin…the last time I heard from him he was busy overseeing the construction of an inter-kingdom…waterworks I suppose is the word, is it not? Nothing of it’s scale has ever been attempted and it will greatly improve the lives of nearly everyone there. He’s the architect,” he smiled proudly. “No, he’s probably still busy. Sylvanias always has time to kill due to his fortunes and social standing but helping me would be a bad move for him politically - some very…influential parties don’t care for me very much and I dare say wouldn’t be terribly heartbroken if I was removed from the picture altogether. Mother could’ve done it in her youth but not now; she’s not strong anymore.” He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. “That leaves Morgan.” He gave a mirthless laugh. “Can you imagine - my little sister to the rescue?”

“She isn’t so little,” Sarah added quietly. He glanced up at her in surprise before looking down again with a nod.

“She’ll do,” he smirked. He closed his eyes in concentration and bowed his head. A wind whipped up from out of nowhere, blowing his crazy hair about his face. In another moment, Sarah saw a ripple of energy rip out of him and quickly expand past her and out of the room. The lights went out and she could hear a dozen car sirens outside and a few barking dogs.


“It’s alright, love. This kind of energy use seems to interfere with your electricity. In all probability the entire block or two surrounding us just lost power but they’ll be able to fix it shortly.” He walked over to the window, opening the blind. The light was faint but just enough to see by - the moon outside her window was a silver crescent. “In a few days time I will know if she received it.”

“But even then, what will you do? Do you have enough power to transport yourself? You haven’t even tried to morph again since that last time.”

He sighed. “You just leave that to me. It is no longer your problem.”

“No, it is my problem and, I may add, a huge concern right now since we don’t know how to amend it!”

He wanly smiled and walked over to her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “We’ll just have to put our heads together and see what we can come up with, then.” He gave it a light squeeze and walked past her to the kitchen, opening up a cupboard. Abruptly the lights came back on. “Actually I think I will take you up on the offer for a drink.”

Sarah smirked, shaking her head. “You have quite the double-standard when it comes to certain things.” He came back out with a juice glass full of straight tequila.

“Let’s see: ageless sidhe who can’t get drunk, young human who would probably be out cold on the floor from the amount of alcohol in this glass. Really, Sarah, I think it’s justifiable here.” He crossed the room to the computer.


He sat down at the terminal. “There has to be some wasteful vice out there that you could get ridiculously involved in. Have you ever tried smoking?”

“Jareth, that gives people cancer!”

He turned to look at her. “You’re joking.”

“Dead serious.”

“And here I thought humans were more intelligent than that,” he sighed, turning back and getting into the internet. “What was the name of that car company again?”

She gritted her teeth. “Nikola Motors.”

“Sorry to remind you but I just wanted to look into the company a bit. Every organization has a weak link.”

“What were you thinking about doing?”

“Petty blackmail. Just enough to light the fire under someone’s arse.”

“But their CEOs aren’t responsible for this mess!”

“Oh-ho? How?” he shot her a laconic glance over his shoulder.

“…just make sure it’s somebody relevant,” she finally relented, rolling her eyes.

“Of course,” he smiled, turning back to his self-appointed task. He was incorrigible, a rogue through and through, but it was oddly warming to think that he actually wanted to step up to the plate for her. Sarah wasn’t used to anybody defending her in any regard; she’d gotten used to having to do it herself.

You and your weird sense of chivalry, geez, Sarah thought to herself with…yes, with a tiny smile. He can probably break into secure pages, too…wait… “You’re covering your tracks electronically, right? Otherwise people can trace you back to this computer.”

He narrowed his eyes at the screen. “Hmm, I suspected as much but I didn’t know for certain. It makes sense, though, like the ‘caller id’ on your telephone. I’ll make sure to scramble the back history, then. Don’t fret; you are in excellent hands,” he smiled, keying in a pass code. Sarah went to the kitchen, looked at the bottle of tequila he had left out on the counter, thought better of it and put it away, making herself a cup of chamomile tea. She heard a distinctly wicked snicker from the other room.

Jareth, Jareth, Jareth, what am I going to do with you? she thought wryly, settling into the recliner with a novel. When he looked over in half an hour she had fallen asleep, the small paperback still lightly clasped in one hand. He got up and retrieved the comforter from her bed and nestled her in, gently putting up the foot rest and laying the chair back. Gods, how was he supposed to forget this woman? One hand strayed to caress her hair behind her ear.

So beautiful, my Sarah…so good… More than anything he wanted to kiss her again but he knew he couldn’t. That potion had been his undoing. One taste of forbidden fruit and she had been sweet and yielding, even encouraging his advances until it got out of hand. Her limited permissiveness gave him a vain, desperate hope; something to cling to, something to live for. “Goodnight, love,” he barely whispered, finally turning away, instantly turning out the lights and the computer. He walked over to the window and looked out into the night sky. He couldn’t see the stars but he could hear them singing in his heart. One day, all would be well with the world.
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