She thinks she's won.
After Jareth falls away into the darkness (never to return, or so the stories say), she returns home to find Toby asleep in his crib and her friends in her bedroom. All is well. Out of the corner of an eye, she might see an owl flutter away from her window, but she dismisses it as unimportant. Let him run.
"Sarah hero," Ludo grumbles, and she bursts with pride.
Later, when her friends have left and the confetti carefully swept up so her father won't ask questions, she's too exhausted to change into her pajamas. So she kicks off her trainers and buries herself under the covers in her street clothes.
The magazine clippings of unicorns and Escher art stare down at her. She'll have to take those down tomorrow before school.
You have no power over me, she thinks smugly, suddenly feeling very grown up.
Sarah falls asleep dreaming of a great sun setting over a forest.
Something is wrong. Her alarm clock hasn't woken her up, which means she's late, which means her stepmother will be pissed.
She's confused when she opens her eyes. Her window is in the wrong place, her bed feels too soft, and her room smells different, like pine trees, underlined with another aroma she can't name but which sets her on edge. It smells like a body - not hers.
Her bed is an enormous four poster with drawn curtains, and nearby she spies a cracking fireplace and a writing desk with a spindly chair. The fireplace is a massive gargoyle face set into stone, like something out of a Tim Burton movie. The writing desk is solid wood and looks like it grew right out of the floor.
"This is a weird dream," she says aloud.
Her voice echoes in the room. It's cold here. Dreams aren't cold. Not like this.
She throws back the covers (deep, red, rich, velvet) and pads over to the fireplace. A thick rug covers the floor, but neither it nor her socks take away the bite in the air. It's winter here. She huddles before the fire for a moment and scans the desk. Empty, as are the bookshelves lining the walls. Not a single book. Tapestries cover the stone walls to keep in warmth.
There's no door.
Sarah hugs her body and shivers again. Wake up, Sarah, she thinks. Wake up and get out of this place.
She's not asleep.
By the time the suns (two of them) rise and pierce the window, Sarah's considerably more awake and alarmed. Because there's little else to do, she sits on the plush rug and anxiously watches the sunlight inch its way across the floor, marking the passage of the day. The landscape outside is a barren winterland, frozen to the horizon, all color leeched from the earth. She can't see anything, but it's clear she's many stories up. Even if she could break the glass, she'd never survive jumping from that height.
The fire continues to burn.
If anything else exists outside these four walls, she doesn't know of it. She never hears another sound.
The suns sink behind the earth. Night comes. Nothing has changed. Sarah huddles under the covers and has a very hard time falling asleep. She dreams of nothing.
Her body aches with the cold the next morning, with an added hunger. She hasn't eaten in ... how long? Not since she accepted Jareth's challenge and entered the Labyrinth, certainly.
The fireplace still crackles. Nothing else in the room has changed.
I have to pee, she realizes with sudden alarm. But there's still no door.
After a few hours, she can't hold it anymore and pees in a corner - the one furthest from the bed. She feels embarassed as she does it, even though she's alone, and then she realizes just how chapped her lips are. How long can you live without water?
Like the day before, there's nothing to do. She sits on the carpet and watches the suns cross the sky through the window. At least Toby is okay, she thinks. She hopes.
When night falls, the fireplace goes out, and Sarah puts herself to bed again. She buries her head beneath the covers so she doesn't have to feel the oppressiveness of the dark around her, and she wills herself not to cry.
She awakens on the third day with the sun in her face. The first thing she sees when she opens her eyes is a large door that has appeared in the wall opposite her bed. Sarah bolts upright and rubs her eyes. I'm dreaming.
She's not. When she bounds across the floor and grabs the handle, she feels solid metal beneath her hand. The door itself is heavy oak. A gargoyle face cut into the wood leers at her with a cheeky look. She ignores it and pushes in.
The door opens to reveal a massive room - many times the size of her new bedroom. Every surface is covered with black tile. A pool cuts into the floor. It's a sunken bathtub, with brass spigots. A small sink juts from a corner of the room. Sarah quickly scans the walls, but there's no other door leading out. I guess that's too much to hope for, right?
There are no mirrors or reflective surfaces, so Sarah can't see herself. Not that she'd want to. She's suddenly aware of the last several days' worth of filth clinging to her body, and the unwashed taste in her mouth. To her surprise, the next time she looks at the sink, she spots a pink toothbrush next to it with a small tube of toothpaste.
She turns the spigots and drinks to her heart's content from the tap, giddy with relief. Once she's had her fill, she brushes her teeth while the pool fills up, then strips and sinks into the water. It's warm and the filth fairly floats off. For the first time in days, her body relaxes.
"Cozy?" a male voice asks.
Sarah hasn't closed her eyes (she's not that relaxed), but she screams and bolts upright in the bath. Jareth stands at the foot of the pool, dressed in breeches, a leather vest, and one of his ruffly shirts. His hands are clasped behind his back as he watches her with a critical eye. Sarah realizes she's hunched over and trying to cover herself strategically with her hands.
Jareth smirks. "Come, come, Sarah, I asked you a question. Are you comfortable?"
"What am I doing here?" she yells.
He raises a disbelieving eyebrow. "Still demanding so much of me, I see. Allow me to explain: you accepted my challenge. You ran my Labyrinth. You lost. Alors te voilà."
"I didn't ..." His words finally sink in. "I didn't lose! I didn't lose! I got Toby! I went back home!"
Jareth holds up a firm, corrective finger. He's not wearing his gloves. "Ah. I let you see home for a final time. I don't suppose you appreciate that gift, either."
"I beat you!" she shrieks, all reason forgotten.
Now he's openly smiling, the Goblin King, all teeth and cheery malice. "I do so love our chats. I think I'll come to love them even more as the years pass." That comment freezes her heart in her chest, and any expression she's had slides right off her face. He must see it, because he relaxes, turns almost solemn except for the smile dancing at the edge of his mouth. "You took back the babe, and I let him go. Truthfully, he wasn't of much interest to me to begin with. And you were allowed to leave. But then you accepted my gift, which means you accepted me."
Sarah stares, uncomprehending.
Jareth rolls his eyes and holds up a hand. A crystal orb appears out of the ether and drifts down to touch his finger, where it pops and vanishes.
Sarah gasps with the memory: Jareth falling, and that bubble, and she'd only just reached out to touch it ...
No. Oh no. "That was nothing! I'd already said the words! I defeated you!"
He spreads his bare hands from behind his back in a wide gesture. "Defeated? For the moment. You accepted your dreams from me all the same, so you still lost. And so close to the end, too, the closest anyone's ever come to doing so. Such a pity." He sounds far too gleeful to be sincere in this statement.
Sarah stares at him in stark horror, struck mute, and Jareth appears to relish that, too.
"... so now what?" she asks dumbly.
"Now we give you a bath," he answers primly. "You're very filthy."
Her brain has a hard time processing that statement. He can't mean ... but yes, he does, because he's walking around to her side of the pool, his black boots clicking against the tile, and kneels behind her head. She tries to turn around, but he firmly guides her head forward. She hates sitting with her back to him like this, and he seems to thoroughly enjoy her anxiety.
Something cold touches her scalp, and suddenly he's rubbing soap into her hair. He must have used magic for that, and for the loofa he scrubs her body down with. She refuses to stand at first until he nearly drowns her, dunking her head under the water and holding her there while she struggles. "Don't defy me, Sarah," he says simply once she's above water again and choking with soap in her eyes.
So she stands, and he slaps away her hands when she tries to cover her breasts, so she stares at the wall over his shoulder as he scrubs her body down. When he gets to her stomach, he kisses the space above her belly button, but the kiss turns into a scrape of his teeth. He laughs when she jumps. "Almost done, my love."
He washes between her legs and down her thighs and the soles of her feet. By the time he's done she feels raw and can't stop shaking.
Then he bids her stand and wraps her in a fluffy towel from behind, lifting her from the tub and setting her on the floor on Indian rubber legs. He wipes a spot of shampoo from her nose and cracks a grin, like a boy. This surprises her. There's nothing boyish about the Goblin King. She doesn't return his smile, and he doesn't appear to care.
He towel dries her hair, humming as he works. When he's done, he drops the towel and heads for the door, turning on the threshold. "Aren't you coming?"
"But ..." The towel has disappeared, and upon frantic inspection, so have her clothes.
Jareth makes a displeased sound as he continues walking. "Don't keep me waiting."
Someone's lit another fire in the fireplace. Sarah quickly walks into the room on pins and needles, clutching herself and shivering fit to die. She feels an almost physical relief once she's on the carpet and near the fire's heat.
Jareth is waiting for her with an amused, evaluating expression. He pulls out the chair from under the desk and for a moment she thinks he's offering her a seat ... but then he sits down in it himself and gestures to the spot on the floor between his legs.
Chagrined, Sarah sits, naked as a newborn bird, and tries to stop trembling. It's a fruitless effort.
She jumps at the feel of a brush against her hair. Jareth must have used his magic for that, too. His fingers deftly pick apart different sections of her hair, combing out the burrs and knots she's gained from her run through his Labyrinth. Bit by bit her body comes a little more undone, and she bites her lip to hold back from sobbing.
Sarah pulls her knees up and rests her chin in the cradle of her arms. "I'm never going to see my family again, am I?" she whispers.
"No." He offers no explanation or apologies, merely continues to methodically brush her hair. Then he starts to hum, a wordless happy tune under his breath, and her eyes sting with unshed tears.
He doesn't tell her when he's done brushing her hair. She merely hears a click as he places the brush on the desk and lifts her hair off her shoulders - she thinks he's smelling it, but she doesn't dare turn around to look. The fire continues to pop and crackle merrily behind them.
"You're learning obedience," he says softly. "I didn't think you would."
"What am I supposed to do here?" she asks. She doesn't suppose he'd let her go to school. Do schools even exist in the Underground?
"Oh, all sorts of things."
The hand stroking the back of her neck becomes firm, and suddenly it's forcing her to her feet. Stunned and confused, her body stands to comply. And then he's turning her to the fire, bending her over the desk, pressing her cheek into the wood. Animal panic uncoils in her stomach. No! No! And suddenly she's screaming the words aloud, but the hand at her neck silences her with a shake.
"Don't," he says in a serious tone she hasn't heard since her father grounded her in 9th grade for setting fire to the living room rug.
The heat of him presses against her ass, and she hears the clink of a buckle come undone. When she struggles again, he hits her hard enough to raise welts on her skin, and after that she focuses on the fireplace. She feels fabric peel away, and something hot and firm rubs itself eagerly in the cleft of her ass.
"I don't suppose you've ever had a man," Jareth murmurs. "Or a boy." He's still holding her cheek hard to the polished surface of the desk, but she's able to shake her head a little. Her whole body's shaking. "I thought not. This will be more fun for me than it is for you."
"My friends," she chokes, "my friends will save me."
His laugh is almost too light for the situation. He doesn't sound like the villain of her nightmares. The dichotomy confuses her. "Your friends!" (She can tell he's smiling.) "Your friends are figments of your imagination, my dear. Bait on the hook for very silly fish." His hair tickles; he's leaning closely now over her back, whispering in her ear. Her cunt throbs with the closeness of his erection. She tries to ignore that, too, shocked at her own body's treason.
"Did you really think my world was that easy," he murmurs hotly in her ear, "its denizens that sweet? Something out of a child's fairytale? No. This world was made to respond to the mind, to give people what they want to see. Simple pleasures for simple folk. My pleasures, on the other hand, are ... not so simple."
Sarah gasps as he fills her slowly, rubbing her opening with his erection and moaning softly as her body draws him in. Her muscles instinctively clench, but he's stronger, pushing on, and on, and on, past each ring of muscle until she's sure he'll rip her open. He feels impossibly big. Sarah gags against the desk and struggles to breathe through her mouth. He draws out a little and presses back in, continuing to push until she feels bloated and full, and the solid weight of him presses flush against her body. He's completely inside her now. Her heart threatens to break through her ribcage. She can't speak.
Jareth exhales, "Oh yes." He pauses, breathing hard. Sarah can hear him, feel his flanks rising and falling hard with each breath. She focuses harder on the fireplace and becomes aware of a pulse deep in the cradle of her hips, somewhere beneath the pain and the alien sensation of being stretched from within. She feels him, feels the blood rushing through his cock, feels every twitch.
He slowly rotates his hips, and Sarah recoils again. Both hands immediately drop to grip her waist. "Don't do that," he says harshly, and he gives a firm thrust to prove his point. She whimpers and doesn't move after that.
"I have wanted this," he breathes, "for a very long time." He moves again, slowly, testing the feel of her. "You have no idea. The games we'll play, my beauty, my pet." He brushes the hair from the back of her neck and marks her shoulders with his teeth. "You'll see."
He rides her like that for a long, long time, her body tightly pressed to the hard surface of the desk while he murmurs dirty things about the tightness of her, and the tricks he'll teach her, and how he'll punish her like the naughty girl she is. And all the while he gasps and grunts and laughs in her ear while she says very little except for an occasional cry.
It hurts not moving like this. Every thrust drives her into the desk. So she tries to move with his thrusts a little, trying to lessen the pain, and expects a reprimand when she does it. She's surprised when Jareth chuckles deep in his throat and purrs in her ear, "You're learning." His movements become harder, more rhythmic.
Time moves according to how much fun you're having, her dad once said when she'd complained about homework. She thinks of her father, and her mother, and Toby, and even her stepmother. God, Karen. This was Karen's fault. If Karen had never yelled at her, she might not have wished Toby away and ... and ... how long has she been gone? Did time move different under ground than it did back home? Had everyone already forgotten her?
Words well up from her memory - Mrs. Harding, her English teacher, and her melodious voice floating over the heads of her rambunctious classmates: With the farming of a verse / Make a vineyard of the curse, / Sing of human unsuccess / In a rapture of distress ...
It was by W.H. Auden, her teacher had explained. An elegy for W.B. Yeats. An elegy, Sarah, is a poem to honor the dead.
I'm dying, Sarah thinks with sudden clarity.
Suddenly, she begins to hum. No one is more surprised by this than Sarah herself. It starts in her throat and makes her cheek vibrate against the desk. It's pleasant, controllable, and it takes her attention away from the other sensations happening to her body. When Jareth grunts, Sarah opens her mouth and sings. It's not a song she has ever heard before, and there are no words, but the melody rises and falls, hopeful and light. It reminds her of finding Toby alive and well in his crib, and how she felt when she thought she'd made it home for good.
Jareth is making the sort of desperate sounds one expects from a dying man. The room echos with the hard slap slap slap of flesh on flesh, and fills with an overpowering scent that reminds her of the boy's locker room at school. The raw power in him startles her, but in a fuzzy way, as if she watches this display from across the room.
He's laughing. The Goblin King is laughing at her. "Tell me again, sweet Sarah," he gasps, "tell me I have no power over you."
His hips are erratic now, his breath animalistic. If possible, she's more frightened than when this began. Then Jareth is lurching over her as if mortally wounded and pumping into her harder than before. I'm going to hurt later, she thinks with dismay.
Jareth convulses with a shout and a cry, and he goes limp against her back. For a second, she thinks he's died, but then his chest moves, and he nuzzles her hair. They're both dripping wet as if they've fallen into the tub together. Sarah smells stinky again, but it's different from the usual dirtiness of gym class or how she felt after running the Labyrinth. There's an odor that she's never smelled before. She wants to vomit.
Jareth kisses her shoulder and pulls back, easing himself out of her as he goes. It suprisingly feels worse when he leaves her; it makes the hollowness inside her more obvious. There's a rustle of fabric and the clink of a buckle. She feel sore, and something oozes down her thighs, but she won't look.
For a moment, neither of them speaks. They're both breathing too hard. His hands grip her firmly by the hips again, and he presses himself against her, humming contently and gently massaging the spot on her back where he hit her.
I'm getting out of this. She bites back a sob. Toby, I'm coming home to you. I promise.
She feels Jareth place a kiss on her lower back, just above the swell of her ass. He chuckles throatily against her skin. "Welcome home."