Chapter 1: What are Friends For?
“What do you mean…no?”
Jareth grit his teeth and barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he shifted his gaze across the banquet table towards his friend. He took a sip of wine just to drag out the annoyance building on Niall’s face, faintly snorting into his cup when the man rolled his eyes. Barely masking a smirk in response to the nobleman’s gesture for him to expand on his denial, he simply shrugged a shoulder and looked boredly around the room, eager to change the subject.
“You’re serious…you’re really not going to go…” Niall blinked, leaning back in his own chair and ignoring the other nobles on either side of him as the high court dinner continued on around them. Jareth did the same, not that the others around them seemed to care. Most refused to associate with the Goblin King, considering him too low a court or too wild for their tastes. If Niall hadn’t known him most of his life, he doubted they’d still be steadfast friends, especially after the last decade and that particular rumor got out.
“Quite serious,” he replied tightly as his mind cruelly relived memories from his past just to torment him. His eyes briefly flickered around the room, almost idly wondering if anyone could pick up on his self-loathing. He’d long since made a fine art of schooling his expression, but the needling sensation that someone could somehow peel back his crafted mask and laugh at his insecurities never left him.
There wasn’t much that floated around the high court, only that he had been beaten by a mortal female many years ago. It had been known to happen, albeit rarely, hardly something most of the nobles would have concerned themselves with for long. Still, for him, it was an ever-present chain around his neck, mocking him and chafing in such a way to make his skin prickle with a mixture of shame and barely suppressed rage. It wasn’t so much what they thought of him, he never had cared that much, but when he would remember what he’d offered her – no, pleaded to her – in those last private moments and she’d rejected him so decisively he felt utterly mortified. She didn’t want me? How could she not want me! I am a KING!
Niall frowned, sipping at his wine, narrowing his gaze at Jareth as he did so, as if he almost was able to pick up on Jareth’s thoughts. He immediately dropped the self-flagellation and stared at his friend with a schooled bland expression.
Still, Niall pressed the issue, making Jareth want to strangle him. Niall, the clever bastard, must have known this with the small cheshire grin he gave in return to Jareth’s muttered oath. “You haven’t gone Aboveground in years, Jareth. There hasn’t been a summoning in a long time, so it wouldn’t interfere with your duties. I am sure your other subjects can keep beings as simple as goblins amused for a few hours.”
Jareth shook his head, sipping at his wineglass once again. “Perhaps, but I must pass all the same. I am overseeing the rebuilding of the northern border. It needs my attention.”
“Poppycock,” Niall snapped. He jabbed a finger in Jareth’s direction. “You’re simply being stubborn at this point. There is nothing so dire in the Goblin Kingdom that you cannot entertain an old friend Aboveground for a few hours.”
When Jareth didn’t budge, simply sipping his wine and looking unconvinced, he tried another tactic, grinning and tilting his head to the side. “Oh come on my friend, it’s been decades since we’ve gone. It’s only a few days away! This was always the perfect time to go Aboveground and have a little fun. Surely you remember what that is, yes? We’ll be in costume, no one will even notice – and if they do? We adjust their memories.” Niall shrugged a shoulder, watching Jareth snort into his cup once more. He stared back, flashing his friend another toothy smile. “Besides, if anyone needs to relieve some tension, it’s you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jareth glared, his tone almost deadly.
Niall smirked and pinned him with a knowing look. “You know exactly what it means, my friend.”
That rankled him, even if it was true. If it weren’t for years of friendship, Jareth would have taken keen pleasure in reaching across the table and slamming Niall’s handsome face into the table. He’d already done it to others, several times, which was why despite the snubbing at the high court functions, no one dared challenge his rule of the Goblin Kingdom. Glowering, he stared angrily at Niall who simply sat back smugly and raised an eyebrow in challenge.
So what if it had been years since he’d had a woman? Was it so wrong that he’d grown bored of the fae and their games? He was not without offers, he just couldn’t tolerate the shallow bedplay and endless vapid women with no desires past their own schemes. He wanted something deeper. He was no longer young by fae standards and he was tired of the artifice.
His thoughts shifted back to Niall’s offer. Time Aboveground, perhaps a woman or two? His mind immediately conjured a young woman with dark brunette hair and deep green eyes and his body immediately tensed at the vicious response he still had all these years later. Bitterly refusing to acknowledge the response to Sarah’s sudden appearance in his mind’s eye, he almost shattered his wineglass as he roughly slammed his drink down on the table and rose.
“Fine,” He hissed, avoiding his friend’s gloating expression. “If only to stop your endless whining. You sound like a blithering female.”
He ignored the sudden bark of laughter from his friend and the stares from the court as he left the banquet hall to seek refuge in his own quarters with a bottle of brandy.
Niall leaned back and avoided the looks of the other nobles that glanced back his way, knowing they eagerly hoped he would enlighten them on the Goblin King’s abrupt departure. While he entertained them for the sake of policy, he neither wanted nor cared for the court’s inane favor. He stared back blankly at the others until their gazes grew uncomfortable and they shifted onto other more interesting topics amongst themselves. If it wasn’t for his father sitting on the high throne, he was sure that he would also be a pariah for still maintaining an open friendship with Jareth.
He motioned for a servant to refill his wineglass and mulled over Jareth’s brittle manners over the past decade. He missed his old friend’s affable humor and coughed it up once more to the mortal girl he’d lost to some ten mortal years ago. The rumors were minimal, but he knew that wasn’t what really dug at his friend, Fae had lost to mortals before.
He calmly reached into his breast pocket and conjured an image in the small circular mirror he carried, briefly studying the woman in the reflection. She was out with friends, dressed in a lovely mauve wrap dress that accented her slim figure. Objectively, he admired her beauty, but it was the shine in her eyes that he knew what attracted his friend.
Years past, for the first few weeks after she had left the Underground, Jareth was inconsolable and nearly spoiled several trade agreements in his avoidance of court functions. Determined to get to the root of the cause of his friend’s strife, he had persisted until Jareth, albeit very drunkenly, had admitted his problem. It had taken considerable effort, but Niall worked enough magic to ensure Jareth would not remember his dark confession, Niall knew his pride was legendary.
He was in love with his mortal runner.
Remembering his friend’s very forced confession after several bottles of brandy, Niall stared with troubled eyes at the image of the woman in the mirror. He’d been idly observing her for years – fascinated with why Jareth of all people would be in love with her, a mortal – but he’d begun to see it with what she had accomplished in her short life. She had graduated top honors, spent time abroad in the Aboveground working for the United Nations and Hunger Refugee camps and had then taken a position at a non-profit that catered to the underprivileged. This was not a self-centered woman, no. While he knew Jareth was still angry at her for besting him, Niall had to admire that she had taken the lessons the Labyrinth taught her and used them well so far.
It also didn’t miss his eye that while she had a string of lovers for the first years she had matured physically, she had been without a paramour for years.
Did Jareth spy on her also? He had to – right? Or did he? Jareth set the standard for self-punishment. Did he know she still had his book and read it often?
Niall sighed and shifted his fingers, dismissing the conjured image of Sarah Williams before anyone noticed the conjured woman in the mirrored reflection. Putting the mirror back in his pocket, Niall drained the last of his wine and stood, heading for his own quarters. He had a reunion to plan.
Chapter 2: Ready, Set, Go!
[JFK Airport, New York City]
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this, Cait."
Sarah peered out the window of the plane as she settled into her seat, snapping her seatbelt into place while the stewardess began the flight announcement for the departure to New Orleans taking off shortly. Am I seriously doing this? Sarah nervously jerked on the bottom hem of the shorts, hearing her friend's small snicker beside her. Yes, apparently, I am…and why did I agree to let Cait pack for me?
Oh, yes. Because I'm boring.
She glanced over at the small Irish woman sitting next to her and rolled her eyes at Caitlin's grin, not an ounce of remorse on her face. She was practically bouncing in her seat from excitement, her pale skin and ginger curls looking radiant even in the plane's abysmal lighting. Despite her inner turmoil, Sarah couldn't help but smile as her friend's obvious buoyancy was semi-infectious.
"This was a bad idea…and why did you have to pack me clothes that are three sizes too small?" She grumbled, only to be cut off mid-complaint by a friendly smack from her friend.
"Are you kidding? This is going to be epic!" Caitlin playfully glared, slapping at Sarah's hands. "And stop fidgeting! You have a great figure, I'm only showing it off a little. You've nothing to be ashamed of, girl! You got it, flaunt it!"
Sarah groaned, covering her face with her hands. "Your idea of flaunting and mine are two totally different concepts, you know."
Caitlin patted her arm and giggled. "Sarah, relax. Have I ever steered you wrong?"
Sarah dropped her hands, glaring at her. "You hooked me into a blind date with Jeremy Hooker. That was the single worst night of my life. I thought he'd never stop calling me."
Caitlin winced and batted her eyelashes. "When have I ever steered you wrong since then?"
Sarah shook her head but laughed faintly, leaning back in her seat with a groan. "Please tell me this is the worst of the outfits you packed for me. I am not spending my vacation looking like a mix between a drag queen and a Victoria's Secret Model gone wrong."
Caitlin grinned faintly and shook her head. "Nuh-uh. Remember, you promised you'd give this a chance. In the entire time I've known you – what, eight years now? – you've never once done anything daring. You need this, Sarah Williams!"
Sarah stiffened at Caitlin's words, her mind whirling back to ten years ago. She smiled weakly as her friend gave her a knowing look, thinking of what she'd always witnessed since meeting her: a selfless, cautious, over-planning type who avoided any kind of adventure for the sake of safe, responsible level-headedness.
If she only knew what kind of adventures I'd been on and what I almost lost in the process…
Sarah forced her mind away from thinking of him and all that came with it, instead sighing and shrugging a shoulder. "Ugh, fine. Have it your way. But if I get arrested for indecency, you're a dead woman."
Caitlin grinned and shook her head in amusement. "Threats, schmets. Trust me, with what I have packed for you, the worst thing you'll have to deal with is choosing which guy you want. They'll be lined around the block!" She leaned forward to whisper in Sarah's ear excitedly. "I went last year and let me tell you – completely insane! Booze, parties, men in various states of undress! You'll never want to leave!"
Sarah laughed and hid her face in her hands once more as her friend almost shouted out her plans for their week, throwing her fist in the air like she was raising a gauntlet for some kind of battle. "I'm on a mission! We're going to get you laid, girl!"
"Jesus Christ, Cait!" Sarah hissed, blushing furiously, sliding down lower into her seat to avoid a few curious stares from other passengers in their direction. "I'm not sure you said it loud enough, the back half of the cabin didn't hear you!"
"What? We don't know these people..." Caitlin chuckled with a careless shrug, either unaware of or uncaring of the stares directed their way.
"Oh hey, look. He approves…" Caitlin wiggled her eyebrows and pointed, grinning. Sarah moaned pitifully in mortification when her eyes met a handsome man several rows ahead who had looked back at them with a small grin after hearing Caitlin's outburst and gave them a thumbs up when he caught her eye. Sarah want to die on the spot, feeling her face flush a hot pink. When he winked before turning back in his seat, she almost fainted.
"Is it possible to die from humiliation?" She moaned softly, pulling the lapels of her cardigan over her red face as she sunk low in her seat.
Caitlin laughed softly and tugged on Sarah's arm, forcing her to sit up straight again. "Oh my god, girl, lighten up! Look at it this way, he was cute!"
"Nooooo…shut up, I hate you…don't talk to me…" Sarah whispered, still mortified, but eventually she began to giggle, unable to help herself.
Caitlin grinned back and reached down, grabbing the printout of the hotel they were staying at for the next five days from her purse.
"Feast your eyes on this baby! I got us two of the best rooms at the Royal Sonesta off Bourbon. I can't wait for you to see them! They even have jacuzzies in the suites! In the actual suites, can you believe it?! We have our own private balconies if we decide we can't deal with the street crowd, though you better believe I am dragging you out for a few hours, because that's where the real crazy shit goes down…"
Sarah blinked, drawn out of her discomfort as she looked over the glossy photos of the hotel, looking at Caitlin in confusion "Wait, two rooms? We're not sharing?"
Caitlin stared at her and began to laugh again. "No, baby girl, we ain't. Remember my mission? I fully expect by a certain point of the trip you and I won't be leaving rooms for a while and I don't like an audience…"
Jesus take the wheel, Sarah thought, feeling another deep blush creep over her face as Caitlin grinned wolfishly and launched into another explanation of their plans as the plane began to taxi towards the runway.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans was shaping up to be a memorable experience, that was for sure.
[The Castle Beyond the Goblin City, Labyrinth, Underground]
Things never could be simple when it came to the Goblin King, Niall was quickly figuring out.
"Where is he?" Niall barked, glaring at the row of goblins lining the trashed throne room. They either heard and didn't understand or were too drunk to care. When he opened his mouth to ask again, one fell over, out cold, and the others began to giggle wildly, belching in the process.
"You've got to be kidding me," He muttered, running a hand over his face as he grimaced at the group. They found his distaste even more hilarious, their loud laughter ricocheting off the stone walls. How Jareth can rule these little imps is beyond me, he must have the patience of a god.
He turned and stalked out of the goblin throne room, heading towards Jareth's study, hoping to find him there. He was already in a sour mood, aggravated at his friend's stubbornness, having made the trip to the Labyrinth when Jareth had failed to arrive at his estate prior to their trip Aboveground.
As expected, when he opened the doors to the study he found Jareth leaning over his ledgers, studying the kingdom's recent export logs, utterly remorseless for failing to meet him.
"Is this what you think of promises towards old friends?" Niall tsked, stepping into the room. He saw Jareth pause, glaring up at him from his books before setting his quill aside and snapping the tomes shut with a curt gesture.
"Perhaps I do, when they're frivolous and take me away from my duties..." Jareth drawled, crossing his arms over his chest.
Niall glared at him, almost wanting to strangle him. He was going to mess it up – again! If he was like this around her all those years ago, was it any wonder why she said no? He almost snorted, studying Jareth's stony expression, trying to figure how he'd get him Aboveground in time.
So we're going to have to play dirty, are we? Game on, my friend. Really, this effort better be worth it. You better marry this girl and name your children after me for the effort I'm putting into this, you fool.
"My, my. I never took you as a coward, Jareth…" Niall drawled, purposefully goading him. He hated being so…well, Goblin King-like, but…if the shoe fit then you best lace that bitch up and wear it.
"Why is it you avoid the Aboveground at all possible costs these days? Do you fear mortals, just because one beat you?" He chose his words carefully, flashing Jareth a predatory smile as the man's gaze narrowed at him, nostrils flaring. Oh, it was working…and for the icing on the cake…"Sarah, wasn't it? I mean, she is such a pretty thing these days. If you won't join me, perhaps you won't mind if I have a taste then?"
"What?" Jareth hissed, raising his hawk-like gaze towards Niall, his frame tensing as a dark emotion flickered across his face – jealousy, perhaps? Or possessiveness? Niall wasn't sure. "I'm not sure I heard you. What did you just say to me?" His tone was certainly deadly, Niall noted.
"Sarah Williams. That pretty mortal runner of yours? I've been spying on her. I rather like her spunk, actually. I think I might head up and sample her, see what it is you've been sulking about for years no – "
Niall hadn't even finished his words when Jareth slammed him against the far wall, his hands around his neck. Niall gasped but Jareth's tight fingers were making it more difficult to breathe by the second.
Well, I suppose that answers my question on whether or not he still loves her – shit! Get control of this before the fool kills you!
"Don't you even think about touching her, I'll kill you – "
Niall grasped for the hidden back up plan in his breast pocket and once he had it, he slammed the vial against Jareth's temple, watching the blue potion whisk over his face and cover his entire mouth and nose, sticking wetly and clinging. Jareth backed away sharply, struggling as the substance coated his face but wouldn't remove itself, finally dropping roughly on the stone floor, out cold, once the spell kicked in.
Niall gagged and coughed once the agonizing pressure of Jareth's grip was gone, sagging against the wall of the study as he sucked air into his bruised windpipe. "Fuck! I'm trying to help you, you idiot! That hurt!"
"How's that workin' out for ya?" Niall heard a grunting voice from the hall, looking up sharply.
"Not great, thanks for pointing out the obvious," he snapped, watching as an old dwarf shuffled in the room. He stared at Jareth blankly who was still out cold, glancing back at Niall with a curious expression. Niall found it odd he wasn't upset or sounding the alarm that his monarch was comatose on the floor.
Niall blinked, looking appalled. "Hell no, he's not dead. I just knocked him out and placed a mem wipe on him until I can get him Aboveground. He was being…stubborn."
"That's too bad…" The dwarf muttered.
"What?" Niall wasn't sure he heard him right.
"Nothin'. Stubborn, heh. That's one way of puttin' it. What do you want to do with him Aboveground?"
Niall shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "There's a mortal girl, a..."
"Oh hell na, you're not thinkin' of match makin' him up with Sarah are ya? Of all the daft ideas…" The dwarf shouted, glaring at Niall.
Niall glared back, briefly startled the dwarf knew about Sarah but deciding to press his point. "He's in love with her, you ingrate! I'm tired of his moping! Aren't you? You ever think that she'd do him some good, eh?"
The dwarf rolled his eyes but looked ready to fight, amusing Niall in the rather impressive glower he was giving him. "That's debatable at best." He crossed his arms over his chest, studying Niall curiously. "Listen, I don't know ya, but yer a fae and ya seem t'have your mind made up on this. At least YOU seem ta have a level head, unlike his royal assness over there. If yer really doin' this… gotta promise me somethin'…if Sarah don't want him, you can't make her come here. He was a rat bastard to her years ago and he's a rat bastard now. I don't want her hurt. If he can't play nice, he don't deserve her. An' if you bring her against her will, so help me gods this whole kingdom will make it their personal mission to make yer life a livin' hell for as long as that'll be."
Niall blinked, studying the dwarf a little more closely. "You have my word."
The dwarf grunted and held out his hand. "Hoggle."
"Niall…" He took ahold of the dwarf's hand and gave it a firm shake.
The dwarf's bushy eyebrows raised. "First name basis, eh?"
"Well, considering I just drugged the king, plan to send him Aboveground and force him to consider a human mate, we should know each other in a more informal manner."
Hoggle snorted and stared down at Jareth while Niall studied him a little more clearly. "Sarah, she means a lot to you?"
Hoggle looked up at Niall, briefly showing a hint of softness in his otherwise rough appearance. "She's m'best friend. Always has been. We all adore her, we just don't talk about her 'round him. Sends him into a fit for days, sometimes weeks. We don't want t'see her hurt."
Niall pondered this, his opinion growing of this woman he had yet to meet. She already seemed to have the heart of the Labyrinth masses. If Jareth managed to fuck this up, he most likely would screw up his only chance at having a decent queen.
"I've been spying on this mortal myself for years. Jareth admitted to me once her importance to him. I find her extremely inspiring. You have my word she will not be harmed, nor brought here against her wishes. If things go south, I will simply remove Jareth and his memories. Deal?"
Hoggle seemed to study him for several moments, finally giving him a curt nod. "I always knew Sarah fancied him, y'know. But don't mean she deserves his baggage. If ya promise to protect her…ya got yerself a deal, fairy boy."
Niall almost wanted to snap at him for the tone the dwarf was using but figured, since he was technically committing treason against the Labyrinth crown, he'd let it drop. "No word of this to anyone? Will you and the others be able to control the subjects for a few days?"
"Mum's the word, pretty boy. You gettin' on or wha?"
Niall grinned, snapping his fingers and whisking him and Jareth from the study.
"Feckin' fairies…" Hoggle groused, wiping glitter from his clothes as he stepped out of the study.
"Didymus! We gotta rangle up the goblins for a few days…" He shouted, wandering down the hall.
Chapter 3: Game, Set, Match
[Occult Shop, French Quarter, New Orleans]
A soft jingle interrupted the soft cadence of jazz music playing through the shop speakers, causing the old woman sitting behind the counter to peer briefly over her shoulder and rise slowly to greet her customer, seeing a figure move into the shop. It was still early enough in the day that the sun’s rays still slanted through her display cases and across the entrance, making it hard for her to tell who had entered. However, the figure seemed to head directly to the wall of herb tinctures, telling her that the customer wasn’t a tourist, as they usually headed for her display of commercial voodoo dolls in the center of the shop.
“I’ll be right with you…” She called as she wiped her hands on the loose cotton apron she had tied over her clothes. When she didn’t hear a reply, she frowned and moved the small bags aside where she’d been working on the latest set of herb poultices for the celebrations coming up in a few days, some of her biggest sellers.
“Can I help…” She started to call, moving towards the silhouette of a tall man standing against the far wall, but found herself letting out a whoop of laughter and opening her arms when the man turned and grinned faintly in her direction.
“Niall!” She laughed and kissed each of his cheeks as he scooped her up as if she weighed nothing, swinging her lightly around the room. She teasingly swatted at his back and he chuckled, setting her on the ground.
“It’s good to see you, Bembe. You’re as beautiful as always.” Niall grinned and returned the kiss against her temple when the older woman laughed and motioned for him to help her to her seat.
“Still such a tease, I see. Come, help me to my chair. These old bones can’t keep up with you like they used to.” Niall laughed softly and helped her settle back into her chair behind the counter and he in turn leaned against the other side of it, studying her as she situated herself.
Once settled, she had a good look of him and snorted faintly at his human glamour. “Feh, you’re here to cause mischief, I see.” When Niall raised an eyebrow in feigned innocence, Bembe raised a gnarled finger in his direction. “You only use that glamour when you’re up to mischief.”
“Oh? Do I? I never noticed...” Niall drawled, grinning faintly as he closed his eyes and seemed to shift, his face turning older, a little more weathered, his hair a little more grey. He opened his eyes again and winked at the shopkeeper. “Is this more to your liking?”
Bembe laughed and shook her head but her eyes sparkled slightly, indicating she was pleased. He grinned again and tilted his head, looking around the shop. “You’ve done well for yourself here, Bembe. I’m happy you have found your place. Are the locals treating you well?”
Bembe shrugged and wet her fingertips with her tongue, going back to completing her poultice bags. “As well as can be expected. Some believe, others do not. It has always been the way of things.”
Niall stared around the room, allowing the jazz music to softly fill the shop again when their silence drifted for several minutes. He seemed interested in what she was doing and she allowed him to watch.
“Love charms? Really, Bembe. You know those don’t hold long.” She could hear his amused tone from behind her as she worked. She chuckled but remained focused on her task, finishing off several small bags and setting them aside before starting another set.
“They work long enough for what people intend, old friend. Love is often not the aim, as you well know.” His laughter made her lips twitch in amusement and she once again concentrated on finishing up a few more bags.
After several minutes passed, Bembe looked over her shoulder again, meeting his gaze. “You have come for the masks.”
Niall nodded. “I will also need another one of these.” He reached into his pocket and set a piece of a shattered tube on the counter. Bembe frowned, glancing up sharply.
“You already had to use it?” She asked, mildly curious and concerned at the same time.
Niall simply shrugged and stared at her with knowing eyes. As he stared, he reached into his pockets again and set some small bags on her counter, looking back over his shoulder and moving to look out the shop windows at the tourists strolling down the street, window shopping in the early hours.
Bembe stood and shifted on her feet, opening the bags and peering inside. She sniffed each and even tasted the powdery substance of one against her tongue before nodding. “This shall work. It will take a few days to prepare. The masks are ready. Come, see.”
Niall moved back to the counter and waited as Bembe leaned down and grabbed something from behind the counter. She moved and set a small wooden chest on the countertop and gestured for him to open the lid.
Smiling up at her, he unlatched the lock and his hand briefly hovered over the latches, feeling the tingle of power meet his fingertips. His eyebrows rose as he lifted his gaze to meet his old friend’s and she smiled, motioning him to open the chest.
“Open it,” She urged.
He lowered his gaze and opened the small chest, staring in awe at the pair of half-masks that met his gaze. One was masculine and black, carved into a convoluted shape that seemed to dance halfway between a satyr and an owl, a silver thread allowing it to be tied to the wearer’s head. The other was much more feminine, a carved white masterpiece that seemed both beautiful and fragile at the same time, etched with mother of pearl, various jewels embedded in a raised ivy filigree that covered the mask, a fat black satin ribbon against the sides to hold it in place. However, it wasn’t the beauty of the masks that shocked him, it was the amount of infused magic in each of the items. It must have taken the old priestess months to complete the task.
“Bembe, I…” Niall stared, at a loss for words. The shopkeeper smiled and reached across the counter to squeeze his wrist.
“A friend of yours is a friend of mine. Your letters were quite dire. These will work for one night and then the magic will fade, it is too unstable otherwise. Keep them in this chest and present them to the wearers within one hour of removing them for the charm to last the longest.” Niall nodded and closed the lid of the chest, feeling the tingling against his fingertips fade as the magic was shielded.
He leaned over and kissed her temple, turning her chin slightly so her eyes met his gaze. His smiled deepened as he studied her weathered face, lightly caressed her cheek with his fingertips before pressing the faintest kiss to her lips.
“There are days I wish you’d said yes to me,” he murmured, making her laugh faintly and pull back.
“And I am forever thankful you accepted my answer of no. A mortal witch and a fae do not have the makings of a suitable marriage. We are better as friends and you know this,” she replied softly with a soft smile. Niall returned the smile and dropped his hand, nodding slowly in his way of admitting she was right.
“Now, go and help your friend. Perhaps she’ll have a different answer for him than I did for you.”
Niall chuckled faintly at his dismissal from her shop, taking the chest and moving towards the door, shifting back into the glamour he wore when he arrived.
“I’ll be by in a few days for the other item,” he reminded her, glancing over his shoulder.
Bembe nodded and watched him leave, moving back to her workspace to continue with her work.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah’s Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Staring out of the double doors leading onto the balcony from her spacious room, Sarah felt a little thrill race up her spine as she took in the sight below her on the street. Despite it still being early afternoon, people were out in force as it was nearing the date for the parade in two days’ time. She had to admit, while the initial flight and drive to the quarter had made her question her decision to tag along with Caitlin to New Orleans, once they had stepped into their rooms and looked outside at the infectious atmosphere, Sarah was glad she’d chosen to come.
Staring down at the growing street crowd, Sarah smiled and shook her head at the antics of both the tourists and the natives, rather excited to go out and have some fun for the evening. Still, she couldn’t help but feel some nervousness for what to expect, looking back at her large bed and the short flirty dress Caitlin had picked out for her.
Pulling back and closing the double doors, Sarah stared at the dress and then her reflection in the mirror. She was still in her bathrobe from her earlier shower and her hair was still wet, beginning to curl in the humid air from outside.
Remembering Caitlin’s words that she should have fun on this trip, Sarah steeled herself and moved to get dressed and finish her makeup.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Jareth blinked and jerked to a sitting position, grunting as his head swam slightly with the quick movement. His fingers clenched, feeling a soft feathery mass under his hands. “Where…” He began, registering he was in the middle of a large bed, only to be interrupted with a blinding light in his eyes, making him hiss and roll onto his side, shielding his face.
“Blasted light! Close the damn curtains!” He growled, squinting and trying to sit up again, his irritation growing as his body refused to cooperate. Just what in the hell had he been doing last night?
“Good morning to you too, sunshine…” Came the amused baritone reply to his right. Still, the blinding light didn’t fade. Jareth groaned in reply, forcing one eye open to peer over at the faint smiling visage of his friend standing by the window, sipping on what appeared to be a cup of coffee.
“Close the blasted curtains, you bastard. I’m half blind and my head is killing me…”
Niall smiled and pulled one of the curtains back into place, reducing the amount of light pouring into the room but not enough to soothe the pounding at Jareth’s temples. Still, he forced himself to roll back into a sitting position and pull his legs to the floor. Rubbing a hand over his forehead, he grunted a soft noise of thanks as he felt Niall press a cup of hot coffee into his hand.
Sipping it tentatively, he sighed as he felt the dull roar of his headache fade into the back of his mind. Glancing over questioningly at his friend as the headache instantly eased, Niall shrugged. “A little something extra to help with the hangover, as it were. You were into your cups last night.”
Jareth looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings and slowly stood, testing his feet. Moving to stand beside Niall, at least thankful he was dressed in loose pants and a nightshirt, he tensed as he stared out the balcony doors at the streets of the French Quarter.
“Why are we here?” He grit his teeth, looking over at his friend sharply. He didn’t remember them making a trip. In fact, he remembered he’d been adamant on not joining his friend for his usual mischief Aboveground at this time of the year. He winced as something powerful jerked viciously in the back of his mind, making the dull roar of his headache return with a vengeance as he tried to concentrate on the elusive sense that something was off.
Niall simply stared, raising an eyebrow as he sipped at his coffee, not realizing something was amiss. He moved away from his friend and lowered himself into a chair on the balcony, motioning for Jareth to join him at the small table but Jareth refused, still trying to ease the pounding of his temples and the odd sense of uneasiness that skirted at the back of his mind. The harder he thought, however, the worse his headache seemed to grow and after several seconds, he finally dropped it. He faintly heard Niall talking and turned his focus on his friend.
“We came Aboveground as you promised me, but not without a few of your favorites, namely drink. It seems you might’ve had a little too much indulgence last night. I practically had to carry you to bed, like a child. Really, Jareth, it’s not very becoming of a monarch to allow himself to become so lost to drink.”
Jareth stared at his friend with narrowed eyes, doing his damnedest to remember the last several hours. A dark nothingness stared back and he sighed, slightly embarrassed at his actions, vowing internally to make it up to his friend, remembering a time when he’d been a good one to Niall. Grimacing and rubbing a palm over his face, he dropped into one of the chairs and sipped at the cup of coffee almost forgotten in his hand.
“I….apologize. You shouldn’t have to play my nursemaid.” He forced himself to say, looking over in time to catch Niall’s surprised expression at his apology. One side of his mouth kicking up in amusement, he sipped again at his cup of coffee and looked back down at the tourists in the streets. The sun still made his head pound and he closed his eyes and leaned back, draping a hand over the upper half of his face. “I feel like death.”
Niall relaxed his grip on his coffee cup, his shoulders slightly shifting as the barely perceptible tensing in his frame eased. He could tell his friend was pushing against the bindings of the spell Bembe had weaved but he had given up before the weavings would snap and the spell dissolved.
Smiling as soon as Jareth looked back his way, he chuckled and motioned for him to finish his coffee.
“I’ve a surprise for you,” he spoke suddenly, drawing Jareth’s attention back towards him. His friend simply raised an eyebrow in question and Niall produced a pamphlet in his hand, tossing it over to Jareth.
Jareth read the pamphlet, glancing over at Niall in amusement. “A ball?”
“Not any ball,” Niall replied with a grin. “A masquerade ball. You’ll come? I’ve arranged something special for you. To lift your spirits.”
Jareth smiled, sipping his coffee, surprising Niall. He was wise to keep the surprise out of his facial expression, simply watching Jareth as he stared down at the street below.
“I was always fond of balls…” He finally replied, glancing back at his friend with a smile.
Niall returned the smile and nodded, glancing down at the street. Now only one last thing to do…
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Caitlin’s Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
“Holy shit. Who are you and what have you done with my friend?” Caitlin gasped, grinning from ear to ear as Sarah blushed and did a quick turn at her friend’s request in her room across the hall.
Sarah laughed and shook her head. “Oh, stop it. This is your dress, after all!” Sarah felt both embarrassed and slightly elated at the way her friend stared with a happy smile. She smoothed her hands over the silver toga-styled sequin dress, still slightly nervous at the small straps that barely kept the top in place and the plunging neckline in both front and back, making her feel horribly exposed. The dress was also short and rather thin but Sarah did note it kept her mostly hidden, mostly teasing instead of exposing. A glittering choker graced her throat and chandelier earrings glittered from her lobes as her hair remained in the rolling curls, waiting until they were ready to wander out to finish styling it.
“Oh no, girl. That’s alllll you, baby. I can’t believe you took my advice! And you look amazing! Ugh, I’m so jealous! I can’t wait to see what a hit you’ll be at the bars.” Caitlin grinned, standing beside her and looking at the pair of them in the floor length mirror by her bed. Her friend wore something slightly more risqué in a rose gold number that looked like she’d been poured into, but Caitlin had the confidence to pull it off.
Sarah grinned as Caitlin posed with her in the mirror. Shaking her head, she joined in on the fun and made a quick sexy pose with her friend as she pulled out her phone and snapped a few pictures.
Sarah laughed and moved to finish styling her hair in the adjacent bathroom. As she was removing the rolling curls from her hair, a knock startled them both. Looking over questioningly at Caitlin, she watched as her friend shrugged a shoulder and moved to the door.
Caitlin moved aside as a man entered the suite and bowed faintly to them both, dressed in the suit and colors of a member of the hotel staff. Sarah moved back towards her friend as she looked amusedly between the two. “What’s this?”
“Good evening, ladies!” The man smiled with a wide grin. “You both have been invited as guests to the Crystal Moon Masquerade Ball, held in the silver banquet hall this evening. As is custom with the invitations, these masks have been procured with your invitations.”
The two friends exchanged amused looks and took the small wooden chests handed to each of them. When Sarah moved to open her container, the man reached out and stopped her. “Ah no, mademoiselle! You must wait until the ball starts to unveil the mask. It is part of the surprise.”
Sarah found the request odd but shrugged a shoulder and smiled, deciding to go with the odd request. “Alright.”
The man bowed once more and left after handing them thick envelopes with their names addressed on the outside. Looking at each other, they both laughed and set aside the boxes containing their masks and read through the invitations after opening them.
“Holy SHIT!” Caitlin screamed at an ear-piercing decibel, making Sarah wince.
“Damn, Cait! What the hell?” Sarah complained, staring at her in shock.
“Do you know what this is!??!?!” She continued, ignoring Sarah’s complaint. Sarah rolled her eyes and shook her head and Caitlin continued on. “Only the MOST COVETED PARTY IN THE QUARTER! I’ve been trying to get into this thing for YEARS! They pick random guests to attend each year as the tickets are crazy expensive and I’ve never won in all the years I’ve been coming. You must to be my good luck charm! AHHH! I can’t believe it!”
Caitlin screamed again and began to jump in place, making Sarah laugh. “We’re going to the Crystal Moon Masquerade Ball!”
Sarah chuckled as Caitlin seemed to come back to herself, ushering Sarah into the bathroom. “Come on, we gotta make that hair look epic. Tonight’s the night! I can feel it! You’re going to slay this party and find someone to drag back to your room and have your naughty way with!”
Sarah turned crimson as Caitlin pushed her into a chair and began to unroll her hair, hushing her protests.
“Oh no, no. Let the master work. By the time, I’m done, you’re going to look like a goddess.”
Caitlin winked and started to comb through Sarah’s hair and Sarah had no choice but to lean back and watch her friend get to work.
[Crystal Moon Masquerade Ball, Royal Sonesta Hotel]
"See? What did I say? Simply outstanding!"
Jareth wasn't sure outstanding would be his word of choice at the scene before him but he did his best to look amused and nodded his head as he looked back over at his friend. He was still nursing the remnants of his headache from earlier but was putting in an effort for Niall who was clearly enjoying himself. Niall stood with him in a corner of the ballroom, both of them keeping to the shadows as the two fae surveyed the masked crowd, their own disguises firmly in place.
Niall had already secured costumes for the both of them, his friend dressed in white that flattered his golden skin tone and auburn hair, his face hidden behind a gold and white volto mask. With the lighting, he almost glowed with an otherworldly quality, the sharp whites of his suit contrasting with the purple lights of the ball. Jareth himself blended in more noticeably with the shadows in a slim fitting black suit, silver threading accenting his shirt, tie and cuffs. He had been amused at his friend's choice of mask for him; an onyx owl-like mask with a feathered plume that shielded his usually unruly hair that had been slicked back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. In the masks and suits, there was no need for glamours, part of why this time of year held such appeal to his friend.
Jareth had to admit the atmosphere had a certain appealing quality to it, watching the sea of partygoers decked out in all forms of wild attire let loose, their faces obscured behind various masks, allowing their inhibitions to fall as their identifies remained hidden. Women and men alike, sometimes in more than single pairs, writhed and touched and pounded against each other in an alcohol-induced haze on the dancefloor to the fast-paced music. This was certainly more openly uninhibited than the high court functions of similar taste, surprising him when they had first arrived, reminding him how long it had been since he last attended an Aboveground party. Several couples lined the walls, grinding into each other as their mouths remained fused while their hands explored, shadows hiding most of the more scandalous activities most likely going on. Occasionally, glittering clouds of green and gold and purple confetti fell from the ceiling on the dance floor, making the crowd let out a loud cheer as their bodies were coated in the sparkling substance.
Jareth stared openly for several minutes then eventually let his eyes close as the pulsing music vibrated through his body, forcing himself to relax and allow his mood to shift. Don't think about her. Enjoy yourself. But if she were here, think of what you might do…
To clear the path his thoughts were going down as the party reminded him of that peach-induced dream so long ago, he quickly gestured for a nearby waiter who was carrying a tray of complimentary alcohol. When a waiter came by with a tray of beverages, he quickly grabbed two glasses and shot them down quickly, relishing the burn of liquor snake its way into his gut. Almost immediately, the wavering image of Sarah disappeared from the back of his mind and Jareth sighed softly, relaxing. Jareth dropped the now empty glasses back on the tray, feeling the alcohol tingling with his senses. He blinked briefly, feeling his eyes and ears twitch momentarily but dismissed it as the last remnants of the night before.
Realizing Niall had said something he was unable to hear over the loud music, he gestured to his ears and shook his head, leaning in. "What?"
"I said…see anything you like?" His friend asked, closer than before as he leaned in towards Jareth to be heard over the blasting music coming from the speakers.
Jareth surveyed the crowd with a predatory gaze, looking for the first female that would grab his attention just to get Niall's grating voice out of his ear. Almost immediately, a glimmer of fabric caught his eye and he tensed.
He saw a woman amongst the dancers, watching as she moved between crowds of people, never staying in one area long. She didn't appear to be with anyone and seemed to be the perfect visage of temptation. She wore a slip of a dress made of silver mesh that clung perfectly to her torso and rode up slightly on her thighs as she moved between bodies on the dance floor. Her skin glittered with heavy dousing of the green, gold, purple colors that had rained down from the ceiling earlier and it made her stand out like a beacon amongst the other guests who looked muted and pale in comparison. Jareth stared blatantly over her figure, noting that the glittery substance was smeared all over her upper half and the tops of her thighs. Her dark hair was loose, streaming down her back in loose waves to her hips, silver thread twined throughout the dark mass with a beautiful silver choker and matching earrings at her ears. Her lips were painted a dark wine color and the upper half of her face was hidden with a mask like all the others.
Briefly, his mind flashed back to a similar hair style worn by a female he was worried he'd never be able to forget: A girl, determined to save her brother, dressed in a shimmery opalescent dress with silver threads tossed in her hair and searching eyes. He grit his teeth to bite back a groan as he stared at the woman on the dance floor, finding her image replacing the girl in his head.
He bristled, his pulse picking up speed, realizing that he wanted this woman. He wanted for the first time in a long, long time. In shock, he realized he was no longer thinking of Sarah, but of that woman on the floor in the silver dress with the ivy-etched mother of pearl mask.
Her. I want her.
Jareth stared hungrily, focusing on the woman as she swayed between throngs of people, narrowing his gaze and feeling his breath hiss through his teeth as she suddenly rocked her hips teasingly with a few random males, only to pull back and grin when they turned to reach for her. He stood there, feeling the surprising surge of jealousy grip him, watching her with a determined focus he hadn't directed at someone since….her. He looked down at his body, not realizing he'd twisted his hands into fists until his palms had begun to ache.
"I see you've found the silver beauty," his friend replied with an amused tone. "Good choice. She is quite a sight. Shall I go fetch her?"
Like hell you will, Jareth's thoughts snarled as he stalked forward, not wanting to share her in any capacity, immediately knowing he wanted to be the first one to intercept her, in the event she found Niall's handsomeness appealing.
Sarah stared at the wild crowd, her mouth falling open briefly in shock as she stood with Caitlin on the other side of the room, scanning the occupants of the dance floor with a mixture of unease and the unmistakable thrill of excitement.
Her heart pounded in tune with the music, making her fingertips tingle with the energy of the party before her.
Rows and rows of wild uninhibited dancers swayed and lost themselves in the music. A waiter waltzed by and Caitlin flagged him down, coming back up to Sarah with a grin.
Leaning in, she shouted into Sarah's ear. "Here! You look like you needed this! Let me add a little extra…"
Sarah looked down and blinked as Caitlin added half her shot to Sarah's glass then gestured for her to drink up.
Looking back at the crowd, suddenly realizing how much she wanted to be one of them and just let go, Sarah steeled herself and swallowed back the contents, wincing and wheezing against the strength of the alcohol. Before she thought of it, she grabbed Caitlin's glass and tossed back the remainder of her friend's drink too. Caitlin simply grinned and clapped.
"That's my girl! Now, let's go have some fun!"
Sarah grinned and let out a wild cheer, throwing her hands up as the two women laughed and pulled each other out onto the dance floor. Just as they entered the floor, a shower of glitter confetti burst from the ceiling, catching both full capacity.
Caitlin grinned and grabbed onto Sarah, bolding smoothing the glitter all over her skin. Already feeling the alcohol, Sarah laughed and did the same. Men began to notice and drew close and Caitlin blew Sarah a raspberry and suddenly drew away, swept up in the hands of two men who'd grabbed her and began to wedge her dancing form between the two of them, their hands skirting over Caitlin's hips and back.
Sarah watched in surprised shock as Caitlin leaned forward and suddenly kissed one, the other man leaning forward and nipping at the back of her neck. Turning away, Sarah briefly closed her eyes and then tossed her head back, getting lost in the music, mingling around the dance floor but not yet settling on one, ignoring the tendency of her mind to replace the men with one with flyaway silver-gold hair and mismatched eyes.
Don't think of him, not tonight. Tonight, you need to have fun.
Gathering her courage, she let the alcohol embolden her and soon found herself enjoying the stares and the reaches of the men near her that didn't have partners. Still, none called out to her. Eventually, she noticed the crowd pulling away from her and she frowned, looking over her shoulder. She froze with what she saw.
Holy Christ on a pogo stick, he is fine. Wait, is he approaching me? God, yes…. her thoughts trailed off as a lean blonde man in black approached her, his eyes practically glowing with intent as he approached her. She let her eyes drop and licked her lips briefly before meeting his gaze.
He moved with determination, cutting through the crowd like a knife. He moved quickly, his eyes on his prize, pleased that other men who would have grabbed her as she neared them saw his warning glare, turning away to find easier prey.
The woman turned slowly, noticing the parting crowd as he came up from behind, tilting her head back to meet his gaze, her own mask reflecting the darkness of his own against the blaring lights. He felt his groin jerk as playful green eyes peered back at him with a hint of curiosity and hesitancy. Those eyes, they're like her eyes…
Forcing that thought out of his head, Jareth took advantage of her brief pause in dancing, grabbing one of her wrists and tugging her tightly against his frame. He felt her quick intake of air as her breasts pressed against his chest and he leaned forward, towering over her by at least six inches, sorely tempted to taste the long graceful line of her neck as she peered up at him, a brief flicker of insecurity flashing in her eyes.
"You are the most beautiful thing I've seen all night," He leaned forward and murmured in her ear, feeling her body tremble as he nipped at the tender spot where her earring teased against her neck before he thought better of it. He grinned at her reaction, inhaling deeply as her scent - a soft muted mixture of jasmine and vanilla – made his groin burst with need, his clothes suddenly uncomfortable and tight against the immediate erection straining against his pants. It's been too long, he briefly thought, bemused and almost embarrassed at his reaction, pulling her wrists around his neck and dragging her into a fast-paced grinding dance as a particularly quick song came over the speakers.
She let out a faint gasp or surprise but quickly caught up with him, meeting his movements with ones of her own, closing her eyes and tossing her head back as she swayed tightly with him. Her nails lightly scraped against his neck as he let his hands slide down the slippery material of her dress, grinning again against her neck as she shuddered while his fingers teased along the planes of her back and lower, realizing the minx only had on the thinnest pair of undergarments. I know what you're here for, little mouse.
The thought of having this woman in his bed almost had his brutish tendencies throwing her over his shoulder and leaving the ballroom, if his cock had any say in the matter. He forced down the impulse but gripped her hips harder, letting his intention be known. The woman was still skittish by the way her cheeks stained red and her breathing hitched on occasion but he could feel her hesitancy being replaced with desire in the way her hands flattened against his back or grabbed onto the lapels of his shirt and the way her hips pressed more tightly against his.
He was mesmerized, staring hungrily while she moved with her eyes closed. He reached down, gripping her ass firmly and pulling her hips against him tightly enough that she'd not mistake the pressure against her stomach as anything but his own arousal, mirroring hers.
Her eyes fluttered open quickly as her mouth opened in surprise, staring into his gaze. Again, he felt a sense of vertigo as he stared back but quickly shook it off as his eyes tingled for some unknown reason and he lowered his face to hers. She trembled when he ground into her, keeping pace with the music, but unable to resist pulling her mouth into a rushed kiss.
I really, really want to fuck you senseless. Let me get lost in you? Please?
"I.." He pulled back and began to speak but stopped as soon as her finger found his mouth. He arched an eyebrow as she shook her head.
No talking? Fine, let's do something else.
Lightly picking her up as the song ended, he moved with her to the corner of the room, pushing her up against the wall as his mouth found hers again, ignoring those near them doing the same.
He hissed faintly as her teeth bit down aggressively on his lower lip, surprised at her sudden bravado against her earlier shyness. His skin felt tight and hot against the sudden flood of arousal that hit him yet again, his cock painfully aroused, desperate to be removed from the confines of his pants. He pressed himself heavily into her as his fingers foraged through the thick mass of her hair, drawing her tongue into his mouth. Her moans and the soft scraping of her fingernails across his chest nearly had him yanking up the edges of her dress, a soft growl escaping him as he wedged one of his thighs between her legs and rolled his hips suggestively against her own.
She shuddered and nipped roughly at his mouth, dragging one of her hands down to cup him and squeeze.
Sweet, merciful gods… If she doesn't stop, I'm going come. Not yet, not yet…
Jareth groaned painfully, breaking the kiss as his head dropped back, bucking against her palm but eventually pulling back, his cock throbbing warningly that if she kept touching him, he'd be mere seconds from releasing. The woman moaned faintly in disappointment, licking and sucking gently at the soft expanse of skin between his ear and shoulder, trying to pull him back to her.
Jareth pulled his gaze back down at the woman and stared at her green eyes. She steadily stared back and a strange sense of déjà vu rippled through him as he watched her eyes cloud with another faint stab of hesitancy.
Could it be…?
Anger began to replace arousal as he glanced over the woman's form. No, dammit, no thinking of her. No matter how much you want it to be her, it's not. But she is beautiful and she wants you, take her! Take her!
"Do you have a room?" He grunted, barely recognizing the guttural tone of his own voice, pulling at her wrists with his hands, grinding down on her so she knew exactly what he was asking but not allowing her to touch him, knowing he was already too close to the precipice for comfort.
She panted and closed her eyes, nodding. "Room 347."
He jerked back and tugged at her hand, pulling her towards the exit. "We're leaving…right now."
She said nothing and just followed.
"Sarah?" Caitlin turned, looking around the ballroom for her friend, her lips stinging from her earlier fun. She'd left her hotel room number with the men but had quickly grown bored and ended up at the bar, sipping casually on a gin tonic. "Sarah?" She called a little louder to be heard over the music, frowning when she didn't see Sarah anywhere close by.
Where…? She quickly began to panic, looking around the bar for Sarah's flash of silver dress. Please be ok…
In the distance, she caught Sarah being pulled off the dance floor and rushed to the nearest exit by a tall handsome man in all black. Sarah looked overwhelmed, her eyes bright and slightly dazed as the man cupped her to him, his hands roaming intimately over her friend's figure. For the first time since bringing her there, Caitlin felt a sense of concern. She's already found someone?
She watched as the man pulled her to him as they waited impatiently for the elevator, her eyebrows rising as he kissed her like he wanted to eat her alive. Again, that niggling sensation of concern and guilt fought its way to the front of her mind, remembering how shy and reserved Sarah usually was when they went out. Have I pushed her to do something she doesn't want to do?
Frowning and setting aside her drink at the bar, she moved to intercept them before the elevator arrived when she collided with a tall immovable suit of white.
"Ooof!" Caitlin almost teetered off her spiked heels, feeling herself being caught by a grip of strong arms.
"Oh dear, I apologize. I didn't see you there. Are you alright?" A cultured voice spoke near her ear to be overheard against the loud music.
"Yeah, I'm fine, just checking on a friend, I…." She trailed off, staring at the odd amber eyes staring back at her from a full-faced mask of gold and white.
"Can I buy you a drink?" The mask tilted slightly to the side and Caitlin frowned, feeling a shiver skate up her spine. Something was very odd about this man and she didn't like it. Her eyes looked past his shoulder to see the elevator doors opening, the blonde man in the black suit practically carrying Sarah into the elevator as her mouth remained fused with his, watching as he rashly mashed some buttons and then tore his mouth back to hers.
"No, thanks. I gotta go check on my friend…." She moved to go but the man in white simply shuffled too one side and stood back in front of her.
"I insist." His voice was hypnotic and made her dizzy and she scowled, staring hard at the man. What the hell is going on?
"You're quite beautiful. What's your name?" His voice seemed distorted, like it was echoing off the walls of a long tunnel, and Caitlin felt her whole body clench with a sudden immense flood of desire. Her eyes whipped back to his and she felt the acrid taste of fear as his eyes seemed to pulse and glow again, knowing on some instinctual level the odd sensations in her body were coming from him.
As if on auto-pilot, she tensed and gave into the urge to get a good look at his face under the mask. Shooting an arm out, she reached up and ripped off the man's mask, staring in shock at the indescribable beauty of the man staring back at her. He seemed shocked and she stared as something – Holy fuck, what the hell!? – seemed to ripple over his face. She squinted and seemed to see double; a beautiful man who's face almost hurt her eyes overlayed with another, while still insanely attractive, but a somehow less dim version - as if he was trying to disguise himself as a human.
Trying to disguise himself…as a fucking human? Sweet Jesus, get away from him! Her mind screamed and she gasped, shoving him away from her to sprint towards the stairs, too scared to wait for the elevator.
She almost screamed when she saw the "man" – Was he a man? What the fuck was he? A…thing? Run, bitch! - starting to come after her once the initial shock wore off his features.
Oh my GOD! What if the other guy was just like him? Oh god, Sarah! NO! Caitlin kicked off her heels and ran up the stairs, barefoot, hearing the man coming up quickly behind her. She screamed as his hand shot out and slammed the third story door closed before she could finish jerking it open, pressing her roughly against the wall.
"Just what the hell are you?" He hissed softly in her ear, but his grip was gentle even if it wouldn't allow her access to get away. Still, she tried to scream but he soon had a hand clamped over her mouth and he grunted as she tried and succeeding in biting his palm.
"Ow! Stop! I'm not going to hurt you!"
"So let me go you….you…thing!" She spat, realizing in horror she could feel his penis pressing into her backside, already slightly stiff. "Oh my god, is that your dick?! Are you hard? No! NO! SOMEONE HELP ME, HE'S GOING TO RA –"
"I promise you, lady, I will do no such thing." He growled softly, tensing, pulling her around to face him. Once more she was stunned at his extreme beauty, no longer seeing the overlay of two faces as she stared. "I can't help my response, you are…attractive…in that…" He gestured to her dress but made sure to keep a tight grip on her. "However, regardless of the appeal of your body in that dress, I do not rape unwilling females, thank you very much."
"So fucking let me go, you asshole!" She struggled again, almost succeeding in kneeing him in the groin but before too long, he had her once again pinned tightly to the wall. She shivered, feeling the ghosted outline of him again. Oh, damn. He's….endowed….wait, why the fuck am I thinking that?! What's wrong with you, Cait?!
"Not until I figure out how you're able to see my true nature, little firecracker."
Caitlin stilled and felt her curiosity and slight arousal replaced with fear. Oh my GOD, he's not human! He's really not human!
"My friend…so help me god if you or your buddy hurt her…."
"She will be fine, so will you. But for now, I insist you join me at my home."
"WHAT?" She shrieked, only to feel his hand close over her eyes and sleepiness suddenly overcoming her. She sagged against him and before she passed out, she thought randomly – Mmmm, he smells nice…
Niall stared at the gorgeous redhead passed out in his arms and grinned faintly. "How unexpectedly delightful."
He admitted, he was thinking this trip was going to be boring for him, his friend getting to have all the fun. Picking up the woman and transporting them both to his private residence, he settled the woman in a guest room and warded the doors and windows, heading to his room to take off his costume. When she was awake, he'd have questions. She was attractive, but first he needed answers. Dimly, he considered calling Bembe, but thought the better of it. Smiling, he changed and relaxed on his bed.
Perhaps the fates have arranged something for me as well as a sign of good faith. Grinning faintly, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
Going forward, this fic will be smut-centric. Expect some sort of M/Explicit scene in each chapter. I kept it out of this one because I wanted the "reunion" of Jareth and Sarah to be the focus, not the afterthought. The next few chapters should come out faster, I wrote to this point without an outline and quickly realized, I'm not the type of writer who can function without one. Now that I know what I want to do and where I plan to take these characters, I'm estimating about 12-15 chapters. Next chapter is/was the core of my one-shot idea. What if Jareth and Sarah had sex...then figured out who each other were after that? How would they act? What would they do? That, you'll have to wait and find out. ;-)
Chapter 5: Long Time Coming
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, French Quarter, New Orleans]
The door to Room 347 slammed open as Jareth pulled the woman into the darkened hotel room with an urgency he could barely contain. The elevator ride had been painfully long in arriving on the third floor as other guests had hopped on and off in their ascent, forcing him to pull away from the woman when his body screamed for him not to. The guests for the most part appeared oblivious to the tension between them, all seeking various levels that didn't coincide with their destination, their lazy chatter and delay in pressing whatever damned level they needed to be on making him twitch with the urge to brush past them and simply take the stairs. When they finally arrived on their level, Jareth had practically dragged the woman clutching at his arm towards her room down the hall. He was half-wild with lust, praising all the deities he knew of that she hadn't pulled away in fear as they neared her room. He knew he must have appeared like a crazed man but he wanted her on a level that made his dick physically hurt. What the hell is wrong with me? I've got to calm down, I need to calm down…I need to…
Loosing track of his thoughts as soon as they were finally – finally – in her room, he locked the door quickly, turning and yanking her to him once more, feeling her trip slightly on her heels in his eagerness, his lips and tongue once more crashing down and aggressively demanding entry. Pinning her against the nearest wall with his hips, he jerked up on the back of her thighs and briskly removed her heels, using magic to loosen the clasps while he kept her mouth busy with his own. They thudded to the floor, completely forgotten.
Sweeping his hand up her thighs again, his hands grasped onto her hips under the silvery fabric of her dress and he let out a shuddering groan against her mouth when he felt her responding tremble. Oh, yes. She's as crazed as me. I need…
Pleasure exploded in the back of his head and drowned out his thoughts again as she responded with a cry when he bucked against her, thrusting his hips roughly against her core. He could feel her arousal in the way her body seared him through his pants where he rubbed against her slick opening, feeling a deep male satisfaction at the eager dampness branding him. He could hear her ragged panting as he moved again, pleased when her voice pitched up into a keening moan. Oh, yes. Just like that…
Her thighs clenched tightly, holding him in place as he bucked again, tearing his mouth away as he groaned and tried to ease his rough grip on her hips, worried he was hurting her in his urgency. Easy, easy, don't scare her away…it's been so long….
"I-I can't wait, I need you, I'm sorry…" He apologized hoarsely, struggling to form words as she wriggled against him, making him exhale harshly against her cheek while his cock painfully throbbed between his hips. She nipped at his jaw and nodded rapidly, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as he reached for the thin panties she was wearing and jerked roughly, ripping the thin material out of the way. He grit his teeth as his fingers felt her slickness and her soft moan was music to his ears. Just as quickly, he reached for the zipper of his pants, roughly freeing himself while she arched her hips upwards in invitation. He hadn't even bothered to remove their masks, his lust at a fever pitch. He needed to be in her now.
It felt like an agonizing eternity during the few seconds it took to wrestle his cock out of his clothes and grip himself to adjust his angle, positioning himself right at her core. She moaned again, panting, resting her head against his shoulder with soft plea of "Please!" and he was lost, thrusting hard and fast, slamming her hips against the wall. Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes – fuck yes…I need…
"Ah, fuck…" He groaned aloud, felting her melting heat tug against him perfectly. His control snapped and he pounded into her, feeling himself climbing towards his peak with an embarrassing urgency but unable to stop himself. I can't stop, not now, please don't make me stop…
With alarm, he felt his body tighten, his orgasm tearing through him as he jerked faintly, pausing only for the briefest moment in his movements, attempting to stop but unable to. Hastily, he tried apologizing, but he was already lost in the beginning throes, feeling his body seize. "I-I can't…I'm sorry…I…fuck!"
By whatever mercy shown to him by the fates, he felt her stiffen and cry out loudly just as he began to crest, her channel clamping down in long, lingering spasms around his cock. Intense satisfaction briefly brought him out of his reverie but too soon he was swept up in the overwhelming feel of his own strong release. Throwing his head back, he pressed tightly into her as he embraced it, the magnitude of his climax almost blinding him with its intensity as his cock exploded and he poured himself into her.
Holy fuck, that was…
Sarah's mind sluggishly tried to register the fact that what had just happened was possibly the most mind-blowing sex she had ever had. Ever. The man sagged against her, panting and periodically groaning against her neck as he trembled violently, still lost in the throes of his orgasm. She could still feel him throbbing inside her and it made her swallow at the fierce ache that settled once more in her core, despite just having found her own extremely satisfying climax.
On impulse, she turned her head and lightly bit against the soft line of skin under his ear. A harsh choked sound escaped his mouth and he jerked faintly, the movement echoing all the way through his frame, his cock twitching inside her as he pressed into her and ground against her hips almost to the point of pain. Just as quickly, she felt the tension in his frame ease away slowly as he sagged against her once more, finally sated, letting out a soft sigh and smoothing a hand over her cheek. Still, he didn't move.
Resting limply from where she was pinned between the hard surface of the wall and the man pressed against her, Sarah tried to calm her rioting senses as she listened to the pair of ragged breathing coming from the two of them.
Slowly, a dumb grin curled at the edges of her mouth as she tilted her head back, her fingers smoothing over his shoulders. She knew she looked like a fool, but luckily the room was still dark and he couldn't see the silly grin on her face. I can't believe I just fucked a total stranger and it was amazing.
"Did I hurt you?"
His voice interrupted her thoughts and Sarah instantly felt shy. She shook her head quickly, unable to find her voice, feeling foolish at her sudden bashfulness. Forcing herself to speak, she licked her lips and replied, wincing at the timid sound of her voice. "N-No, I'm ok…"
"Did you…enjoy it?"
She relaxed when she heard an echoing hesitancy in his voice, now that their lust had been temporarily sated. She grinned faintly and leaned forward, curling her arms tighter around his shoulders, pressing her mouth against his ear. "Oh yeah." Just to tease him, she ran a hand down his back and gripped his ass, squeezing gently.
She felt him chuckle softly and he thrust against her gently, making her moan. He laughed and growled softly in appreciation against her neck when she nipped at his ear but relaxed once more. "So did I. A little too much. I was worried I frightened you. I haven't been that randy since I was a kid."
Sarah grinned faintly and pressed a kiss to his jaw. When his hand reached up and cupped her breast and stayed there, she didn't complain. "It was great. I don't really do this kind of thing, either. It's been…an embarrassingly long time since I…" She flushed and briefly lost her voice but cleared it and forced herself to continue. Really, Sarah? You want to tell him that it was mind blowing just because you haven't been laid in…years? Nice going. "Anyway, I…didn't know what to expect but you made it lovely."
"Hey," He reached for her chin, tilting her head up and kissing her softly on the mouth. "It's been a while for me, too. I'm glad I broke my dry spell with you. I'll be gentler next time."
She grinned against his mouth and found his mouth echoing a smile against her lips and couldn't resist teasing him again. "Oh? Next time, huh?"
He chuckled again, lowering his head to kiss her throat. "You didn't think we were done, did you? Oh, little mouse, I've got plenty more where that came from. Besides, I want to see the rest of you. That damned dress is driving me crazy. You're way too sexy to fuck in the dark all night."
Sarah shivered, feeling her body respond to his teasing but he eased back and gently pulled his hands from her hips to help bring her legs back down to the ground. As soon as her feet felt the ground, he pulled away from her, making her wince as he withdrew from her body.
"Come on," he whispered, tugging gently on her wrist to pull her deeper into her room, towards the bed. She smiled and followed, reaching up and loosening straps of her gown, letting it flutter to the floor as she moved with him. He dropped her hand briefly to wrestle out of his own clothes, making her bite back a giggle from the sounds of how hastily he was doing so, reaching out to blindly find him in the darkness when she didn't hear any other sounds coming from him. She jerked in surprise when his hands wrapped around her waist and tugged her close, enjoying the warm feeling of his bare chest pressing against her naked breasts. He was already hard again, making her blush.
"I want you again," He murmured softly, nipping at her neck.
She chuckled softly, sweeping her hands up his back. "I can tell," she teased, nudging her hips against his erection. She smiled at his shudder.
Reaching up, she tugged off his mask and pulled at the tie that bound his hair, sinking her fingers into the silky lengths as he did the same, knocking loose her mask and leaning down to kiss her as it fell to the floor. Suddenly, her ears popped and she swayed briefly, stilling the movements of her fingers in his hair.
What was that? Sarah blinked as an odd tingling sensation creeped up behind her eyes and gently snapped, making her stumble slightly in surprise. She felt a similar jerk in his frame and opened her mouth to ask if he'd felt it but the questions died in her mouth as his lips found hers and he growled, rubbing his erection in small thrusts against her stomach. Sarah felt her insides clinch, a warm ache once again settling through her body.
His hair is so soft, like feathers… Sarah briefly thought, startling herself with the random memory of him: pressed against a stone wall, shadows cast over his face, pale blonde hair blowing across his face as he held an outstretched crystal towards her. Unnerved, she forced it out of her head. Of all the fucking times to be thinking about him! Really!?
Thankfully, the thought dissolved once more under the growing onslaught of his kisses, his hands softly kneading her breasts, fingers plucking at the nipples while his erection pressed enticingly against her stomach.
"Oh…" She sighed softly against his mouth, barely recognizing her own voice in her need, shivering as he played with her breasts.
He felt her response and groaned sharply, shuddering as he moved with her towards the bed. "Like that, do you?" He huskily whispered, suddenly lifting her and carrying her towards the bed as he if couldn't be patient enough for the time it would take her to walk towards it.
"Yes…" She murmured again in that needy, wanton voice that sounded alien to her own ears, crying out sharply when his mouth found her breast and his teeth slightly tugged at the hardened peaks, feeling the softness of the bed against the back of her thighs. She closed her eyes and shuddered as his mouth switched between the two.
Pulling her down onto the bed, he pinned her beneath him and nudged her legs open, settling between them, pressing his erection gently at her opening once more. She arched upwards, her body hoping to finish the penetration but he held her in place, groaning harshly as her slickness and the remnants of their earlier bout coated him.
Finding her mouth as he groped for the lamp beside the bed, he shifted on the bed as his hips gently pressed forward, eliciting another moan from her as he slid inside her once more. She trembled at his gentleness and smiled, closing her eyes again, waiting for him to move as he found the light switch and flipped it on.
Almost immediately, she heard his sharp intake of air and he stilled, going rigid atop her.
"What…" Frowning, her eyes fluttered open to meet his, wondering what made him stop the delicious movements he started, her body instantly protesting the sudden stillness. As soon as her gaze clashed with a set of mismatched eyes, she trembled out of sudden painful awareness. Jareth. Oh god…
Immediately, she blanched, feeling her voice wither in her mouth, staring at the beautiful sharp angles of a very familiar face. Oh no…no, no, no, no, no! This isn't happening! This can't be…
In mounting horror, she checked off all that she realized she remembered with painful detail: The wild silver-gold hair, mismatched eyes, hawkish nose and hollow cheeks, lean muscled frame – now vibrating with lust instead of power. She licked her lips, feeling her desire spiral out of control, trying to regain control of her senses and watched as his eyes narrowed on her mouth, gleaming with a predatorial glint. It faintly registered that after he'd initially froze, he'd started to pant raggedly from where he pressed her into the mattress.
Swallowing her own response to him, her heart clamoring in her chest, she finally seemed to find her voice and stuttered a mixture of rushed words underneath him, desperate to soothe whatever horrible assumptions he might be thinking regardless of how her body was responding to him. "I didn't know! I didn't know, Jareth, please believe me…I didn't know! I'd have never….I didn't know!"
Something in her tone made his eyes soften even though his ragged breathing made him hard to understand, his voice turning gravelly and hoarse. "I believe you…" He rasped, making her jerk back in surprise, his grip slowly turning painful as his chest heaved with her brief movement. She swallowed, afraid to move again, when she realized – is he trembling?
"I…" She started, squirming underneath his weight again, swallowing as her body clenched painfully, her arousal returning tenfold. He was above her, buried in her, and he wasn't moving. All her sexual fantasies, her frustrated nights dreaming about him – and he was here. And he wanted her, from the look of his face and the way his body reacted. She moaned softly, realizing in humiliating clarify that she didn't want him to stop. I just fucked the Goblin King and… - the part that really unsettled her was what followed - …and I'm going to do it again.
His hands clamped down on her hips and he squeezed his eyes shut, a tortured expression sweeping over his face as she moved. "Sarah…I…" He hoarsely groaned through gritted teeth, not moving despite the effort it seemed to cost him.
"Don't stop…" She interrupted him, the words tumbling out of her mouth before she thought about it in too much detail, watching his eyes snap open. "Don't stop…" She said again, this time more urgently, making sure he understood what she was saying. Don't stop, please don't stop….please don't stop…
He stared at her for a few seconds as an odd shift of emotions skirted across his face, too fast for her to read them all. She licked her lips to ask again but before she could, he was hunched over her and thrusting, roughly finding her mouth. Sarah burned against him, her lust reaching new heights as he claimed her, her nails clawing down his back. She barely registered the grunt of pleasure as his body made hers soar.
The last thing she remembered hearing before being blinded by her own pleasure was his echoing roar of completion.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
"Let me out! Help! LET ME OUT! SOMEONE HELP ME!"
Caitlin pounded on the door, finally giving up after twenty minutes of shouting until her voice grew hoarse. She'd been trying to escape since she woke to no use. It was like the doors and windows were sealed shut with the most powerful glue ever. Desperate, she looked wildly around the room and picked up a chair, slamming it against the thick wood door that wouldn't budge, no matter how hard she tried.
Sobbing in frustration, she fell to the floor on her knees, realizing she was well and truly trapped.
"Gods almighty, woman! What is your malfunction?" A growl came from across the room behind her, making her jerk to a stand and whirl around.
Standing a few feet away was the mysterious beautiful stranger from last night. How the fuck did he get in the room? Doggedly ignoring her inner response to his attractiveness, Caitlin narrowed her eyes and gave him a death glare as she stepped back warily. "You. Let me out, you son of a bitch!"
"Now why would I want to do that?" He glared, running a hand through his hair as he stretched, looking disgruntled and half-asleep. She realized she must have interrupted him from a nap. Well, too fucking bad asshole. You can't keep me here!
When his stomach tensed while he yawned, Caitlin swallowed and willed herself not to stare. He was shirtless and his sleep pants left little to the imagination. He caught her look as she swallowed and he grinned. "Besides, I promised a friend a little fun and I'm sure he's having a lot of that right now. It would be rude to let you interrupt that, it's been years for them and they both needed it."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Caitlin glared, staunchly ignoring his teasing. Don't you dare let your guard down, Cait! I don't care if he looks like sex personified. He fucking kidnapped you! Have some self-respect girl!
Unable to help herself, her eyes flickered down to his chest and lower. Dear god…is that…oh my… Jerking her gaze back up to his face, she narrowed her eyes at his cheeky grin.
"See something you like?" He purred, opening his arms in invitation. Caitlin saw red, balling her hands into fists at her sides.
"Of all the arrogant, piece of shit moves….go fuck yourself, you jackass. I am not touching you! What the hell gives you the right to snatch me away like that? Where's my friend?"
He frowned and stepped forward, a flash of dismay fluttering across his features as she backed up hastily and slammed into the opposite wall. He raised his hands in an act of surrender.
"Please, lady. I will not hurt you." She frowned, not liking the sincere look of discomfort on his face.
"And I should believe you because..?" She sarcastically retorted, glaring at him and crossing her arms over her chest, albeit beginning to relax as he stared at her with concern.
"Because if I wanted to, I already would have. My kind isn't exactly known for their patience." He replied gently, keeping his hands up in a position of surrender while he gestured to the shattered chair. "Allow me to fix this and we can talk?"
Caitlin stared, frowning, twisting her hands in front of her. Finally, realizing what little choice she had, she nodded tightly and relaxed at his gentle smile.
"Thank you." He waved a hand and within a second, the chair – and the rest of the room she'd managed to roughen up – instantly corrected itself. A small sheen of glitter appeared on the surface of the things she'd tossed around.
She sucked in a sharp breath. "What the hell was that?"
"Magic," he replied politely, settling into a seat and producing a shirt over his torso, which made Caitlin relax even further. When he gestured to the seat across from him, she cast him a frown but settled into the seat, snatching a quilt from the bed to wrap around her legs, covering up what she could of her risqué dress. For the first time in her life, she regretted her attire.
The man smiled, a soft glint in his eyes, but he didn't tease her or say anything. "Now, shall I begin?"
Caitlin nodded and listened to the man who began to talk in earnest, her eyebrows raising slowly as she listened.
Chapter 6: Hello, Good Morning
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, French Quarter, New Orleans, The Following Morning]
Sarah came to slowly, her lashes fluttering briefly as she stared up at the ceiling, feeling a warm chest pressed against her back, a pair of arms wrapped around her waist and a pair of strong thighs intermingled with hers underneath the covers. She swallowed and closed her eyes again tightly, chewing briefly on her lower lip to bite back a small smile, both nervous and excited to greet the morning after – and the face – of her bed partner and the reality of the previous night's actions.
Unable to help herself, she turned her head to peer back at him and almost jumped, flushing faintly as a pair of mismatched eyes steadily met hers. He was awake and probably had been for a while with the alertness she saw in his gaze. How long had he been watching me sleep?
"Good morning," he murmured softly, the edges of a smile playing on his mouth as he reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Morning…" She whispered, barely able to muster up the courage to reply. Once again, struck by an overwhelming force of shyness, she let her eyes drop and started to turn her head but his fingers gently grasped her chin and brought it back towards his. He waited for her to meet his eyes and when she did, she swallowed at the intensity in which they studied her. I'm sorry, I don't know what to do…what do you do in moments like this? Help me?
He leaned forward slowly, treating her like a frightened deer, lightly grazing her mouth with his when he was sure she wouldn't bolt, allowing her to get used to the idea of him in her bed. She sighed softly, closing her eyes and softening her mouth against his kiss and he took advantage, letting out a faint groan as his kisses slowly turned deeper but still slow and languished, the sharp edge of their lust having briefly been blunted last night.
She shivered, feeling a keen ache settling back in her body as his mouth made her body pang for the touch of his again. The way he made her sing last night was still visceral and fresh in her mind, playing over the actions of last night as he kissed her, reliving those moments again and igniting her once more – his mouth between her legs, her mouth between his, the strong movements of their fast and hard couplings followed by the slow and agonizingly gentle ones that followed. They hadn't talked – not once, not since that initial surprise – and it had been wonderful, almost surreal. He's so different than I remember…
She moaned softly against his mouth, turning slightly and fisting her hands in his hair, abandoning to the moment. He shuddered and thrust his tongue in her mouth as one hand reached forward, plucking at her nipples, the other running down her stomach to cup her sex and then gently glide against her opening, testing her. Oh, please. Yes, please touch me…
She could feel the shift in his breathing when his fingers softly pressed into her, finding how ready she already was by the ease in which he breached her. He groaned again as he tilted his face, a soft hoarse sound issuing from him, his nose bumping against hers as he moved to gain better access to her mouth. His hand at her breast twisted faintly, tugging at her nipples – first one, then the other – making her arch up against him, each tug sending a spasm deep inside her, evident in the way her body clinched down on his intruding fingers. Oh Jesus, it feels so good, don't stop…
Sarah mewled loudly, unable to help herself, as his fingers began a soft thrusting movement, wanting him to both move and yet not, desperate to find relief to the ache he'd started. She shuddered violently and rocked her hips slightly upwards, desperate to seek release. Fuck, that feels so good. How can you do this to me? So close!
Growing bold in her own need, she reached down and grasped him from where he flared to eager readiness against her hip, feeling his excitement in the slight slippery wetness coating her fingers where they brushed the tip as they wrapped around his girth, pumping him with an escalating urgency. He jerked against her and groaned again, pressing his hips forward, thrusting against the tightening grip of her hand, his own finger movements getting bolder – his thumb circling and teasing her clit as the others pumped harder, faster, more deeply inside her.
"Ohhh…" She moaned softly against his mouth, giving into the rising fire inside her, arching her hips upwards again. Tearing her mouth away from his as her soft cries turn into outright pleading, her eyebrows knitting together, her hips arching sharply – So close! Don't stop! – She sobbed and pleaded to him, her body bucking faintly against his hands. "Jareth, please! Oh god…please…"
Suddenly he moved atop her, removing his hand from her sex as hers fell away from his, spreading her legs and thrusting into her in one smooth rough motion, his mouth claiming hers once more. She screamed against his mouth, arching up, up and then shattering – feeling him thrusting in long, hard strokes as she came undone – and for a few seconds nothing registered to her but the amazing spasms tearing through her body. She heard him groan in a series of small, broken noises against her mouth as he stilled, pressing into her, his form rigid as he found his own release, feeling the warm plume of his peak and the spams of his cock from where he tensely held himself atop her.
Panting, her mouth pulled away from his as she relaxed, letting it fall softly back onto the pillow as her orgasm slowly subsided. Running a hand through his hair as his own head gently fell against her shoulder, his ragged breathing tickling the hollow of her throat, she smiled faintly at the sated feeling of her body once more satisfied. She could feel his heart pounding in unison with hers as the tension in his frame eased, his body sagging against hers as he floated down from his own high, his fingers curling through her hair as he pressed against her. He was heavy and slightly crushing her but she didn't mind, finding it oddly endearing the way he clutched at her as if he couldn't let her go.
"Holy mother of God, you're going to kill me…" She muttered teasingly, hearing his soft chuckle and he lifted his head and kissed her gently, pulling his weight off her and easing out of her.
"Let's take a bath. Perhaps we'll even manage a sentence or two this time."
She grinned shyly in response, opening her eyes and looking towards him to find him returning the expression, satisfaction and amusement glittering in his eyes. "Ok."
A few minutes later, Sarah was sitting between Jareth's thighs in the filled jacuzzi tub, his fingers working wonders against her scalp while he washed her hair. She flushed and tried to hide her smile at the sheer silliness of it all – her, sitting against him – a beautiful god-like fae king, washing her hair. He chuckled, seeing her response in the mirror across from them and her eyes jerked up to meet his. She finally relaxed when she saw his faint smirk and rolled her eyes, a smile tugging at her lips.
"What?" She asked, sounding annoyed and amused at the same time.
"You're cute when you're shy," he grinned faintly, scrubbing her scalp slowly with his fingers, making her sigh and lean her head back with her eyes closed as he continued. "But I know how to drag the woman out of the girl…" He teased, leaning forward to whisper in her ear.
"Buddy, you keep doing what you did to me last night and this morning and I'll do anything you want…" She grinned faintly, giving into his light banter, warming to the sound of his responding laugh. After a few minutes, he urged her to dunk her head in the water and she did as he asked, washing out the shampoo.
Sitting up, she moved across the jacuzzi and motioned to the spot in front of her. "Now it's your turn."
Jareth complied and moved towards her, turning once he sat between her knees and she grabbed the bottle of hotel shampoo and lathered it in her hands, studying his profile curiously. There was no mirror at this angle from where they sat so she couldn't see what expressions his face displayed she finally gives into the urge to start a conversation – anything – just to test the waters against the strange situation they found themselves in. What the hell am I even supposed to ask?
"So, why are you here? I mean, Aboveground?" She starts, figuring that's the safest place to begin catching up. It was difficult to decide where to begin, after all that had happened between last night and this morning. No sense in asking if you missed me, I think I've figured out the answer to that question on my own.
"I'm vacationing for a few days with a friend. He loves the city this time of year. All the balls and masks, you see. We don't have to disguise ourselves as much, most are too drunk to notice and if they do, we can remedy that with magic if necessary but most just rationalize our appearance away as something mundane." He waited, tilting his head as she listened, starting to gently scrub his hair, secretly relishing how soft his locks were between her fingers.
She frowned faintly, considering that. "Huh. I never imagined the fae taking vacations, at least not to anywhere in the Aboveground."
She felt him jerk slightly at her reply and she smiled. "You know I am fae?" He sounded surprised.
She chuckled as she continued to lather the soap in his hair, tightening her knees against his torso when he tried to turn around. He got the message and stayed in place. "Let's see…insanely sexy? Magic powers? A fashion sense that rivals the best dressmakers in the world? Oh gee, what could you be?"
He chuckled and swatted at her knee, splashing her face with a little water in the process. She grinned faintly but stilled as she heard his next question.
"I am surprised you're taking this so well in stride. You considered me the villain so vehemently before…" His voice drifted off but not before Sarah sensed the remorse and soft bitterness in his words. She frowned faintly, feeling a tenderness well up in her that frankly surprised her. Still, he was finally addressing the elephant in the room and she figured the least she could do was answer him honestly to his face.
Ignoring the question for the moment, she urged him to dunk his head back and he did, slicking back his hair as he came back up and turned, staring at her with acute eyes, watching her. No getting out of this one, Williams. Just rip that fucker right of, sting and all. Time to face the music. Just…be honest. It won't kill you.
She smiled faintly and swallowed, steeling herself for how to word what she had to say. He stared, his gaze both searching and tense, waiting with that same frustrating patience in his eyes like he had when she first woke up, something she found both irritated and grateful for.
"I suppose I am. It's just…I figured out a long time ago that you played your role, nothing more. I wished Toby away, I can't be angry you only did what I asked of you." She silenced him with a shake of her head and a finger to his lips when he frowned, prepared to interrupt her. "No, Jareth. I did that. 'What's said is said,' remember? You told me that yourself. No way to sugar coat it. Like my dad used to tell me on occasion, 'suck it up buttercup.' I said it and I paid the price. You weren't cruel, you didn't torture or molest me and I beat the Labyrinth and you let me go with Toby, intact." She shrugged her shoulders, watching his response to her words. He mostly didn't move but a shift in his eyes told her he was digesting what she was saying.
"I've read the dark fairy legends, once I got back and finally wrapped my head around what had happened. I know you could've done a lot worse…and yet you didn't. It took me a while to accept that but it's how I look at what happened back in the Labyrinth. So no, Jareth. I don't see you as a villain. A little arrogant, maybe, but no villain."
Jareth released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. He knew she didn't see him as a rival anymore, they wouldn't have continued their affair after that initial shock of realizing who one another was when the masks came off and the lights came on if she'd thought otherwise – but it dissolved something sharp laying hidden in his chest that he didn't realize he'd been holding onto until he heard her words.
"You were very angry during your run, very defiant. I both hated and admired that," he replied softly, tilting his head to the side, refusing to use the word loved – despite that being the correct phrase. "I always wondered why. Care to enlighten me, precious?"
She chuckled, once again looking bashful, a small blush creeping up her face. He smiled, amused at her response. He hoped she never changed, her sudden bouts of shyness enthralled him as most fae were so cold and unresponsive to questions and confrontations.
"I thought you were going to turn Toby into a goblin…" She sheepishly replied, glancing back at him with a wince.
"What? Where'd you get an idea like that?" He blinked, his eyebrows raising, doing his best not to laugh.
She flushed again and swatted at him. "Before I called you, I was telling Toby this horrible story – man I was such a damn brat at that age! I honestly don't know how you stood that for thirteen hours!" She laughed, rubbing some sweet-scented lotion across her shoulders to probably keep herself busy – jasmine and vanilla, so that's where it was coming from - and he watched her, fascinated, as she continued despite the bright blush tinting her features and the way her voice grew husky under layers of embarrassment. "Only…again…after I'd gotten home and managed to pull my head out of my ass, realized you never said that. Somehow it stuck, though, and I really thought you'd do that. I was terrified and angry – at the time it was at you, then later myself. I should never have uttered those stupid words."
His chest constricted at her last statement and he forced a smile to his face to hide his response. Does she really regret it? Is that just guilt and anger at herself, or does she really regret us meeting? Why is this damned mortal so hard to figure out?
Her eyes flickered back to his and he forced his smile wider, ignoring the jangling of confused emotions simmering just beneath his skin. "Well, in your defense, I was an ass. Still am, in fact, if you go by the opinion of my court peers." He laughed at the shocked look on her face. "What? We both did a bang up job of getting off on the wrong foot and subsequently hating each other for years."
"You hated me?" She frowned, looking startled and – unless his eyes mistook the brief flash of emotion – sad.
"We're been surprisingly honest up until now, so I don't see a reason to stop. Yes, Sarah. I hated you for years after you won. My pride and reputation were damaged, amongst other things. But, as you have said, I got over it, so to speak. Come now, be honest. I imagine you felt the same." He gently spoke, watching her reaction as he carefully chose his words. It was of paramount importance they continued this talk with complete transparency and he was relieved when she slowly nodded, seemingly accepting the undercurrent of importance with this talk. Everything from here on out hinged on this, at least to him. And then, maybe, I'll tell you how I really feel about you.
She flushed but held his gaze, finally shrugging her shoulders. "Fair enough. Yes, I did. But…past tense. I don't hate you now. I'm not even entirely sure how I should feel about you now."
He couldn't school the surprise out of his features at her words, feeling his heart tug painfully in his chest. That's a start. Before he embarrassed himself and blurted out words of love, something he was loathe to do until he knew how she felt about him first, he changed the subject. "Enough about the past. What brings you to the Crescent City?"
Sarah smiled, leaning back against the edge of the jacuzzi, keeping some space between them. He didn't object, realizing he wanted to know more about her life and if she moved closer, he wouldn't be able to resist her and would spoil this exchange between the two of them. He wanted her on an elemental level that almost unnerved him and forced himself to keep his distance, realizing for the first time that he really wanted to hear what a woman had to say. Most women from his past he simply kept up conversation just a means to an end to satisfy his libido, but not Sarah. It mattered what she said, how she felt, and allowing her the time to trust him enough to honestly share her feelings. Startled, he realized with rising alarm how deeply she was already embedded in him. Gods, what if I can't ever shake this mortal? What if she refuses me again? What then?
Sarah shrugged faintly with another one of those adorable blushes, dragging his attention back to her and away from his rising panic. "I came with my friend Caitlin. She's an old college friend I met my freshman year at NYU. You'll love her, she's outrageous. She's Irish on both sides with absolutely no filter whatsoever. She works at a law firm as a paralegal and I do counseling at a shelter for kids. She insisted I come down with her, she comes once a year and swears by the parties."
He smiled at her comment on what she did for a living, feeling the pride she took in her work by the strength of her words. When she continued, he chuckled in surprise, his eyebrows raising as he remembered her at the party before he tore her away. While she'd still danced with others, there was an inherent shyness around her even in her most confident moments. "You don't strike me as the partying type, precious."
Sarah laughs. "Nooooo, not in the slightest. I'm kind of an introvert these days. Labyrinth lessons and all." She waved a hand as her head fell back against the edge of the tub and she closed her eyes. It took a lot of willpower to resist staring, seeing her nipples faintly peaking above the edge of the water. "Anyways, she wanted me to come down and sort of let my freak flag fly. You know, have some fun, meet some guys, get drunk. Be a wild, single woman for once." Sarah gestured vaguely to the dress that was still on the floor near the bed with one hand, not moving from her comfortable position. "I even insanely agreed to let her pack for me. Normally I'd die to be caught in those clothes but…it was kind of fun, you know?"
His eyebrows continued to rise as he listened and a frown tugged at his lips when he heard her words 'meet some guys, get drunk, let my freak flag fly.' He forced himself to remain outwardly composed but wanted to growl that there would be no need to meet anyone else – if she wanted to be a freak, he'd keep her plenty busy. Still, he was hesitant to demand anything of her, suddenly worried she didn't have as deep an attraction to him as he did to her. "And…have you succeeded?" He asked, keeping his voice even.
She cracked open an eye and peered back at him, her familiar blush back in place. "I found you, didn't I?"
He grinned faintly, feeling a deep satisfaction at her words, but still nervous she'd dismiss him after they dressed for the day. "And am I to your liking? Or shall I be tossed aside for failing to rise to my duties and be traded in for an upgrade this evening?" He kept his words teasing and flirty, hoping he'd hidden the insecurity behind them with his choice of phrase.
Sarah lifted her head and frowned. "Why would you think that?" She asked, genuinely confused. Suddenly, her eyes went wide. "Oh." Again, that shyness was back and he bit the inside of his cheek, letting her figure out what she wanted to say, even if it went against his nature not to demand and maneuver things towards his benefit.
"Um, well…as we're both here together, in the same city, at the same time…" She struggled for words, her green eyes briefly flashing with annoyance, picking up on the fact he continued to remain silent, leaving the decision process to her. He let his smile stretch, the action forcing her to continue. "Why don't we spend it together?"
He grinned and slid towards her. "I thought you'd never ask."
Unable to resist any longer, he fused his mouth with hers and drew her back up against him urgently. Already, his cock ached, stiff and ready, desperately seeking the warm recesses of her body. Enough talking, more fucking. God, I want to show you so many things, precious thing…
Karma, however, had other plans. Just has he began to pull her out of the water and towards the bed, Sarah's cell phone rang. No matter what tactic he tried, she laughed and pushed at him until she was slipping free of his grip and running for her phone. Scowling at the offending item, he leaned back, gritting his teeth as his cock jerked in dissatisfaction. The second she's off that thing, I'm breaking it into a million pieces and banishing it into the ether, he vowed.
Immediately, he sensed the change in Sarah, turning towards her, his arousal dampening as he narrowed his gaze on the differences in her demeanor. As she struggled with the caller, he stood from the tub and walked towards her, overhearing her words. "Who are you? Where's Cait? Can I speak to her-what? You want to talk to Jareth?"
She blinked, looking over at him and handing him the phone. "It's for you? Someone named Niall calling with Cait's phone? Is this your friend?"
That mother fucker! He has some explaining to do! Instantly, anger flooded him but he smiled faintly at her and kissed her gently, taking the phone from her. "Yes, the one I told you about earlier."
As he was raising the phone to his ear, he watched as Sarah smiled and moved to the other room. "I'll just be drying my hair. Ten minutes tops and we can head out. I am starving," she called out to him. He nodded with a faint smile, his eyes lowering briefly to admire her curves.
He watched as she went into the bathroom and closed the door, the hair dryer soon turned on and drowning out her hearing. Jerking the phone to his ear, he turned and growled into the phone. "Niall, you son of a bitch. You spelled those damn masks."
He heard his friend's responding chuckle and clenched his free hand into a fist. After he'd exhausted Sarah and she slept, he had spent a few minutes inspecting them both, remembering the odd sensation he felt when they were removed. He didn't recognize the source of the magic, telling him that Niall had most likely sought out an unknown caster for the spell, but nevertheless this had his doing written all over it. "I am going to kill you..." He started, gritted his teeth.
Niall simply snorted over the line. "Please. You were in her room and she sounded very…what's the word I'm looking for? Relaxed? Satisfied? Sated? You've been pining after that mortal for longer than is healthy. I merely nudged you to the ledge, you're the one that took the leap."
Jareth gripped the phone so tightly, he was worried he might break it, not rising to Niall's bait. He heard his friend's chuckle as he said nothing. "Admit it, you're satisfied with how things went. I know you're angry with me but it got you what you wanted. Her. She cares about you, you know."
Jareth jerked in surprise. "What do you mean?" He asked, forcing the hesitation out of his voice, keeping it demanding. "Have you been spying on her?" He suddenly hissed, blinded by the spontaneous rage that consumed him. "I take it back, I'm going to torture and then kill you…."
"I don't fancy your mortal, Jareth! Kill it with the alpha male act! Good gods, man. You told me once about her, several years ago." Jareth finally found himself truly at a loss for words, his surprise evident in the continued silence on the line. "So I watched her. She kept your book. She still reads it. She hasn't had a date, or a companion, in years. Have some faith and pursue her, you idiot. You want this mortal. You've wanted her for years and yet never sought her out. Why? What could that possibly solve – other than reaffirming what a moron you've been? You weren't doing anything about it, so I did. And from what I can tell, it worked. You're welcome."
Jareth struggled for words, his anger rising once more at Niall's bluntness. "Just why the hell do you care?" He snarled, listening to Sarah continuing to dry her hair. He waved a hand, instantly drying himself and wearing casual human clothing – tight jeans, a black t-shirt, leather cuffs, his hair and face glamoured to a more human-like appearance.
"Maybe because I was in your shoes once. I didn't push it like I should have. And I've regretted it ever since." Niall's startling admission had Jareth blinking.
"Anyways, her friend is with me. She was adamant to check on Sarah last night and I was determined to give you a night's reunion uninterrupted so she spent it in the guest room, despite doing her best to destroy the whole house in an effort to leave. Was Sarah aware her friend was a seer? The damned female can see through my glamour and is demanding to see her friend so I had to enlighten her on your past to calm her nerves. Shall we meet for brunch? How about Stanley's by the Square?"
Jareth listened in surprise, finding himself having a hard time holding any lasting anger for Niall. Once again, he felt ashamed at how loyal his friend was to him and he'd once again assumed the worst. Pinching the bridge of his nose faintly, he nodded. "Yes, alright. And Niall?" He hurriedly asked before his friend hung up.
He heard a pause on the other end and then his friend's soft and patient tone. "What are friends for?" With that, he hung up.
Hearing the hair dryer shut off, Jareth turned back to see Sarah return to the room, clad in the sexiest underwear he'd ever seen in his life. Biting back a groan, his cock once more trying to flare to life, he remained in place as she looked over him with a small smile – and he smugly realized, no small amount of interest – as she began to dress.
"What was that about?"
"Your friend stayed with mine last night. Seems like they're acquainted. He let her know about our past, given how forward your friend seems to be. They suggested we meet them at Stanley's. How about it, precious? Brunch with friends?"
She grinned as she pulled a loose cotton dress over her body. "Sounds great, I love their eggs benedict. I am famished."
He tried to ignore the spark of irritation at how short and tight the dress was, clinging to her curves. He didn't like other men ogling what was his. Still, he just satisfied himself with deciding he'd not let her out of her sight while she was with him. Offering her his arm once she slung a small purse over her shoulder, he felt a little thrill as she instead threaded her fingers with his as they left the hotel.
Chapter 7: Brunch with Friends
[Stanley's Restaurant, Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah was startled out of her low conversation with Jareth about what he enjoyed doing in the quarter when she heard her name being shouted out, glancing up to see her friend Caitlin jogging up to her and embracing her in a tight hug. Sarah smiled briefly at Jareth who dropped her hand with an echoing smile and moved back a step as Caitlin looked over at him with a faint frown, inspecting him thoroughly for a few seconds with a distrustful glare.
Sarah registered the other man coming up behind her friend. She studied him briefly, noting his handsomeness and golden coloring, offering a small wave as Caitlin pulled back and inspected Sarah from head to toe as well, making her pinken slightly in embarrassment. Caitlin scowled at both the men and took Sarah by the hand, moving towards the small park in the center of Jackson Square.
"Oh no, go away! Girl talk!" She shouted at them when both men moved to follow. Jareth's friend simply rolled his eyes and motioned for Jareth to follow him.
"We'll go see to a table, then. Join us soon?" Niall called towards them in a friendly tone and Sarah laughed as Caitlin all but dragged her away with no answer, casting her eyes towards Jareth with a small smile, who simply smirked and walked with Niall towards the restaurant after his friend threw up his hands lightly and shook his head.
Once they were an adequate distance away, Caitlin spun around and stared, patting Sarah on her shoulders and face as if feeling for evidence of torture. Sarah sputtered and playfully pushed Caitlin's inspecting grip away, feeling her blush scalding her skin. "Yeesh, Caitlin, stop! I'm fine, promise! Calm down!"
"Do you have any idea how worried I've been?!" Her friend shrieked, looking on the verge of tears. Immediately, Sarah felt guilty for making little of Caitlin's concerns, suddenly noting the dark circles under her eyes and the faint fly-away look of her hair, telling Sarah she'd slept in her updo. She looked over her friend's form, noting the coat she was wearing that was perhaps four sizes too large, most likely telling her she also still wore her dress from last night and the coat belonged to Jareth's friend.
"I'm sorry, I didn't think…" Frowning, she reached forward and gave Caitlin a tight hug. She felt her friend's shoulders tense and then she let out a faint sniff and pushed Sarah back.
"It's OK, Niall filled me in. But dammit, Sarah! Why didn't you tell me?" Caitlin sniffed again, crossing her arms over her chest with a scowl, staring at Sarah with an accusatory gaze. Sarah sheepishly shrugged her shoulders, feeling awkward and unable to explain but she did her best to try.
"It was a long time ago, Cait. I haven't seen Jareth in ten years. This isn't exactly something that comes up in casual conversation and for all I knew, I'd never see him again. What would you have wanted me to say? 'Oh, hey Cait, wanna nab some lunch? Oh, by the way, I once had my little brother kidnapped by a fae king because I was an immature bratty teen and wished him away!' Do you understand how crazy that sounds?" Sarah shrugged faintly, sighing and rubbing a palm across her forehead. "It sounds crazy even now and I lived through it."
Caitlin let out another faint huff then seemed to slowly nod in agreement, letting Sarah knew she forgave her. Sarah let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. "Ok, ok. Fine. It does sound completely batshit, but I am still mad at you! That…thing…kidnapped me and I was locked in a room all night, scared half to death his buddy was doing awful things to you."
Sarah's blush returned tenfold and Caitlin didn't miss it, the corner of her mouth kicking up as she stared. "Well, it seems at least ONE of us enjoyed their evening."
Sarah let out a strangled cough, shifting on her feet and rolling her eyes, wanting to die on the spot. "Oh, stop! Yes, fine, ok? I fucked him! Sheesh!"
Caitlin's familiar smirk was back as she leaned forward. "And?"
Sarah rolled her eyes but laughed as they moved back towards the restaurant, dropping her voice to an excited whisper. "And it was fan-fucking-tastic!"
Both women burst into giggles as they stepped out of the park and saw the men waiting for them at a table inside the restaurant, both watching them curiously. Sarah cast Caitlin a brief glance. "His friend's cute…" She casually let slip, watching Caitlin tense for a moment but refuse to look her way, instead staring at the men seated ahead.
Slowly, a small smile tugged at her lips as she looked over at Sarah as they entered the restaurant. "Yeah, he totally is."
Sarah bit back another laugh as they moved to sit with Jareth and Niall.
"Holding hands, hm?" Niall casually asked, looking up from his menu while the women had their little female chat in the park several feet away. Jareth's gaze swept back towards him with a frown from where he'd been busy staring in the direction Sarah and Caitlin had gone.
"What about it?" He asked, narrowing his eyes, still uncomfortable with his friend knowing his weakness - her. Niall smiled and shrugged a shoulder, dropping the questions when a waitress came up and took their orders. The men let her know they were waiting on their companions and simply ordered coffee for the table for now. She nodded and shuffled away quickly to place their order.
"Nothing, nothing. It just looks like things are progressing nicely with you two…" Niall said after several moments of silence, smiling faintly at Jareth as he once again met Niall's gaze with a frown. "Are you going to tell her how you feel?"
Jareth wiped a hand over his face with a grimace. "Is it that obvious?"
Niall shrugged faintly, tucking a napkin in his lap. "To them, perhaps not. To me, yes. You must remember I've known you for several centuries. I've never seen you so distracted by a woman."
Jareth tensed and Niall let his hands raise faintly in surrender for a moment before the waitress brought over four cups of coffee, letting the woman settle them on the table with cream and sugar before continuing. "Relax, friend. I've no need to twist this to my advantage. As loathe as I am to say it, the Goblin Kingdom and the Labyrinth have flourished from the atrocity it once was under your care. I've no need to remove you, nor would I wish it. I can't stand those beasts, neither can my father. You have a way with them we simply don't understand. Your rule and position, as it were, will remain unchallenged. Believe it or not, I just simply want to see you happy."
"You're a good friend, Niall." Jareth frowned faintly, sipping at his coffee after liberally lacing it with sugar and cream, watching Niall do the same. "I…don't know what to say."
"Say 'I won't fuck this up Niall,' that's all you can say." Niall chuckled, watching Jareth stare at him again with a brief flicker of anger, raising a finger towards him to cut him off before he could say anything in return. "I'm serious! You can be so damned pig-headed. Don't let your insecurities and silly pride get in the way. You'll end up regretting it, my friend. We live very long lives, that is too long to live with such a thing."
Jareth blinked, a small smile tugging at his lips, wanting to ask his friend when he had become such a wise man when the women returned, looking in much better spirits. Sarah settled beside him and Caitlin sat beside Niall, studying his friend with a curiosity that wasn't present earlier. He raised an eyebrow as he looked over at Sarah and Sarah grinned faintly, making herself a cup of coffee – noting she liked hers the same way he did. It made him briefly smile.
"Morning, ladies..." The waitress said, returning to the table once more after a few minutes and smiling at the women, glancing around the table. "Can I take your order now?"
Several minutes later, the table was alive with conversation, now that everyone's anxiety had been eased. They ate with gusto, everyone having been thoroughly starving by the time the dust had settled from the awkward earlier reunion. Jareth and Niall had ordered seafood po'boys and the women had settled on eggs benedict, both eating quickly between sips of coffee. Laughing at something Niall said, Sarah didn't object when Jareth's fingers skirted along her back, resting his elbow against the back of her chair. She blushed faintly but let him settle his arm around her shoulders as Caitlin and Niall seemed to be distracted with one another in some verbal sparring match, staring at each other intently.
"So, what, I can see through your horseshit? What a lame-ass super power…" Caitlin groused, making a face as Niall laughed and shook his head when he told her what she was.
"It's a rare gift from your ancestry. It simply means most fae magic doesn't affect you. Don't downplay its significance, my dear. It's a very handy 'superpower' as you call it when it comes to dealing with the fae. I haven't run across a seer in centuries…so it took me by surprise that night. And if you hadn't busted my favorite chair, we could have been doing so much more with our time, my fair friend…" He glared back playfully, making Caitlin huff and roll her eyes dramatically.
"Well, if someone hadn't kidnapped me and instead let me check on my friend, who obviously was perfectly fine…" She gestured at the casual way Jareth and Sarah were sitting together, scowling at Niall despite a slow smile fighting its way across her face, "then perhaps we could have." She raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest, waiting for him to reply something better in turn against her jab.
Niall stared at Caitlin, a slow grin replacing his earlier glare. Both seemed so engrossed with one another that when Sarah cleared her throat to drag their attention back to the table, both seemed slightly startled. She bit back a grin and faintly heard a small bite of laughter under Jareth's breath. Seems like those two are hitting it off….
"So, Niall, how do you two know each other? Besides being friends, I mean. How'd you meet?" She asked, returning to her food and giving him time to answer, shifting her gaze between Niall and Jareth.
Niall smiled. "I've known Jareth most of my life. My father is high king and his father served as head of his council, so we were constantly around one another. Jareth had the head for tactic and politics while I had the head for empathy and the people. We were complete opposites in that regard, but together we usually outwitted most so it seemed wise to stick together. Don't get me wrong, Jareth can be a pain in the ass most of the time, but he's loyal and stubborn – both good qualities to have in a friend and confidant. When Jareth's father passed, my father was determined Jareth would be more than just a councilman like his father was, pushing for the court to appoint him to a seat in one of the Kingdoms. We needed someone with Jareth's head as the court had grown lazy and stagnant. It took considerable effort but he was granted the seat of the Goblin Kingdom and the Labyrinth, which serves as a foothold between your world and ours. He's done very well with it, compared to what it once was."
Jareth laughed faintly, leaning to murmur conspirically in her ear. "Also meaning that no one else would take the job."
Niall grinned faintly as Sarah chuckled, remembering her time there. "That, too. But you've done well with it."
"Really? No one wanted it?" Sarah asked, confused, looking back over at Jareth with both curiosity and amusement, finding it hard to believe that Jareth was – for all intents and purposes – just another guy in the fae world. "Are you telling me you're just an 'Average Joe' by fae standards?" Even her voice echoed her surprise.
Jareth shrugged a shoulder, watching her curiously. "That's exactly what I'm saying. I'm not of noble blood but the seat of the Goblin Kingdom allows me to interact in court even though most choose not to associate with me. They consider me beneath them. Why so surprised, precious?"
Because you're beautiful and powerful and frightening all at the same time. Average? Are you kidding? To me you're noble, otherworldly, something special…
Sarah swallowed and smiled faintly, not voicing what was really going on in her head, shrugging her shoulders faintly. "It's just…well, I guess to me you seemed like you were when I was there."
"Oh, the Labyrinth does have its own special perks. He's able to do some things others can't because of it. But it's a hard mistress and most fae are too lazy to put in the effort to rule something that challenges them, especially royal ones who are already secured some kind of seat in the court. Jareth had an uphill battle, but he's always surprised me with how well he holds his own." Niall supplied, watching Sarah stare curiously at Jareth.
"So that makes you high king apparent?" Caitlin asked, saying the next thing on Sarah's mind. Niall shifted uncomfortably in his chair, nodding as his eyes fell back to his coffee.
"Whoa…" Caitlin stared, fascinated. "I've never met a high prince before…"
Niall chuckled and winked at the table. "Don't let anyone tell you I'm just a nice bloke underneath it all. I have a reputation to uphold. Very few see this side of me. Fae are mercurial in the best of circumstances, so I trust you'll keep my secret."
Sarah smiled faintly, sipping at her coffee, digesting this new bit of information. "Your secret is safe with me." She saw Caitlin nod, smiling faintly at Niall when his gaze wandered towards hers. "Does it hurt your reputation to maintain a friendship with Jareth?" She asked casually, watching out of the corner of her eye as Jareth stilled and looked towards his friend.
Niall shrugged, looking at Sarah with renewed interest. "Perhaps, but no one has been foolish enough to press the issue. Why do you ask?"
Sarah shrugged faintly, slightly waffling under his intense stare. "It sounds like how our own monarchies have functioned in the past. A lot of times, rulers were forced to give up close friendships in favor of the court, until it took someone with enough backbone to stand up and say 'enough.' What I'm saying is, I admire that. You seem like a good friend to Jareth and if that's anything to go on, I'm betting you'll kick some serious ass as High King one day, too."
Niall's face transformed into a bright smile. "Why, I do think that's the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, Sarah. Thank you."
She returned the smile, nodding. "You're welcome." She felt Jareth's hand squeeze against her shoulder briefly and she looked his way, blushing faintly at the gleam in his eyes as he studied her.
"Enough of that talk. Tell us, ladies, what are your plans for this evening? How long are you staying in New Orleans?" Niall asked, breaking through the silence that had suddenly descended on the table.
Sarah and Caitlin looked over at one another with a smile. "We're here through Wednesday, just in time to see the parade. Why, have something in mind?" Caitlin supplied, looking at Niall with a faint grin.
Niall grinned faintly back at her friend. "Oh, a few things. How about you allow Jareth and I to cook dinner at my residence? Let you see our place? I've also heard there is a DJ in town, he's world-renowned, playing at the House of Blues. Care to join us?"
Sarah waited for Caitlin to decide, sipping casually on her coffee. She felt Jareth's fingers idly rub up and down her back, glancing over at him with a brief blush. When she heard her friend's acceptance and the shopping plans she had for the early afternoon, Jareth grinned faintly and leaned forward to whisper in her ear.
"Don't think for a minute I'm letting you out of my sight. I'm not that easy to get rid of, precious."
Sarah blushed and let her hand fall underneath the table, cupping him as she leaned forward to whisper in his ear, pleased to feel a tense intake of air from him as she teased him. "Oh, I wouldn't dream of it."
He growled faintly but pulled back, staring at her intently as their friends sitting across the table talked details with one another. She swallowed, feeling her blush and arousal deepen as his gaze clashed with hers, searing her down to her toes, jumping like a shot had been fired when she heard Caitlin calling her and waving a hand in front of them both.
"Earth to Jareth and Sarah…" Caitlin laughed, snapping her fingers. Niall simply grinned as he sipped at his coffee, reaching for some bills in his pocket to cover brunch.
"Um, yes?" She squeaked, snatching her hand away from Jareth under the table, feeling his fingers tense against her back. She remembered how he felt against her hand and knew he most likely hated the interruption too, if that tell-tale bulge held any indication.
Caitlin gave them both a knowing look. "I said Niall knows a great used bookstore down the road called Faulkner books. Want to come with us?"
She looked back over at Jareth who was staring at her like she was desert and he was ravenous for something sweet. She swallowed, trying to find her voice and somewhat succeeding. "Um, how about we just meet you at Niall's house?"
Jareth's answering grin and Caitlin's small laugh was her only answer as she stared at him. As Niall turned to pay the waitress, Jareth had already risen and tugged her to her feet, dragging her out of the restaurant.
"See you tonight!" She managed to call before feeling Jareth tug her across the square, into the shadowy area behind one of the pillars of Saint Louis Cathedral. She opened her mouth to ask where they were going when his mouth crashed down on hers and she felt the odd tug of being transported.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
They both hit the bed with a rush of grasping hands and tangled limbs. Sarah moaned as Jareth tore at her panties, stripping them quickly from her legs as her own fingers made quick work of the belt buckle and zipper of his pants, letting out a pleased sound as he sprung eagerly into her hands.
Opening her legs as Jareth settled between them, she guided him to her and let out a soft cry as he thrust inside quickly, setting a languorous pace, his mouth dropping to nibble and suck along her neck as she grasped his backside, her ankles crossing to anchor him in place as his hips rolled into hers at the perfect angle, sending her body quickly into orbit despite the slow punctuated pace he had set.
She let out a surprised gasp that turned into a languished moan as her body suddenly spiraled into orgasm, her fingers and ankles tightening as her body milked his in tight, constricted bursts. Oh god…more…
"Sarah…gods…" He groaned against her throat and shuddered, stiffening as he joined her, his own voice sounding hoarse as he stilled and settled heavily against her while he pulsed inside her, filling her with his release. A deep hidden part of her swelled in satisfaction that she was able to bring out his own response in the way he seemed to lose himself atop her for a moment, his voice dropping to nothing more than a few roughened grunts as he shuddered, finally feeling him relax against her once his orgasm left him.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't stop…" She whispered once she had caught her breath, swallowing as she panted faintly, her hands wrapping around his back.
"Shhh," he murmured, lifting his head and kissing her slowly, his fingers curling around her jaw as he gently tugged on her chin, opening her mouth to his. "I'm not complaining. Gods, woman, you make me spill like an untried youth…" He smiled at her stifled chuckle, kissing her deeply for several moments, not removing himself from her. She kept her ankles crossed, her hands in place, in no rush to move herself.
"We….should see if we can catch up with them. We can't spend the whole holiday in bed…" Sarah whispered weakly against his mouth.
"Watch me," Jareth replied as his mouth dropped again, nipping at her neck, making Sarah both shiver and laugh at the same time. She blushed as she felt him harden again.
"Maybe in a few minutes…" She moaned weakly as he began to thrust again. Soon, her protests were drowned out with his mouth back on hers, his body once more sending hers to new heights she had yet to discover.
Chapter 8: Afternoon Reflections
[Pirate's Alley, Faulker Books Used Bookstore, French Quarter, New Orleans]
"You enjoy the classics?"
Caitlin looked over her shoulder from where she'd been thumbing through a new edition of Twelfth Night to see Niall standing beside her, an amused smile on his face. She shrugged a shoulder and looked down to see what his own finds happened to be, smiling faintly at what she found. In his arms were several poetry books by some of her favorites.
"See, you liking poetry doesn't surprise me in the least. What's so shocking about me liking Shakespeare?"
Niall grinned, shaking his head as he moved toward the cashier, plucking the book she was holding from her fingers and setting it atop his pile. When she frowned and opened her mouth to protest, she felt her insides melt slightly when one of his fingers pressed against her mouth, effectively quieting her. Down, girl…
"I'll be paying for these," he told the cashier once he was sure she wouldn't object and removed his hand from her lips, the older woman looking amusedly between the two with a small knowing smile and a shake of her head to ring up the cost of the books.
Caitlin swallowed and stonily ignored Niall's amused glance her way as she did her best to pretend her body didn't betray her with the sudden bloom of arousal in her abdomen at feeling him touch her. Even now, her lips slightly tingled where his finger had pressed gently against the middle of her lips, making her nervously turn and head towards the entrance to the store, placing some distance between them. Get control of yourself! Sheesh! Think rational thoughts! Breathe, girl! Breathe!
Briefly, she peered over her shoulder at him to study his profile as he made casual conversation with the cashier and frowned faintly to herself. She still felt very uncomfortable with the past few days in general; these types of things simply did not happen to normal people – magical faerie men that looked like sex personified did not just waltz into a girl's life and act so damned charming. She kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and was growing impatient and anxious when it didn't. She knew better than to hope that there wasn't something horrible leering in the future waiting to pounce and shatter the past forty-eight hours but her common sense told her not to ignore the feeling. Steeling herself, deciding the moment they were out the door that she'd corner him and bluntly give him a piece of her mind, she found herself staring mutely as he turned with their purchases and made his way over to her, holding open the door for her to exit through like a perfect gentleman.
Following him out of the store, she inwardly cringed at her sudden shyness – that was Sarah's forte, not hers – but couldn't find something to say to break the silence between them. Any time now, Cait! Time's a-wastin'! Girl, come on! Where's that Irish temper? Oh, yeah, it's being suppressed under those 'fuck me' eyes this asshole keeps giving you! He knows exactly what he's doing and YOU WILL NOT GIVE IN! Right?
She was a little disgruntled when her conscience chose not to reply. Even her own thoughts were betraying her now. She was so fucked.
As they walked down the alley and window shopped briefly together in silence, she looked up from a window of masks as Niall handed her the book she wanted, too lost in her internal battle to notice he'd come up beside her. She smiled weakly and took the proffered book, tucking it against her chest. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," he smiled, his eyes gleaming faintly as he studied her for several moments, making her shift uneasily on her feet with how intensely his eyes seemed to watch her. When she was about to say something, he turned faintly and gestured for them to continue down the alley towards Royal Street.
Ask him why he's here! What the fuck is your problem!? Her mind all but screamed at her. She felt her conscience choose that moment to lay it all out in crystal clear terms in her head, making her wince. If you're worried confronting him will change his mind about fucking you – you know he's been watching you as much as you've been watching him. Ask now, bang it out later.
"I am so going to hell…." She muttered under her breath, shaking her head and closing her eyes as she followed him, just a few steps behind his own slow walk.
"What's that?" He asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Uh, nothing. Just…nothing." She plastered on a bright smile and watched the smirk appear in response on his handsome face. She sighed and rolled her eyes, knowing he was seeing through her bravado. "Ok, fine. It's not nothing. I…" Her voice died as she struggled, watching the way he turned fully to study her with a faint frown.
It's now or never! Just do it! Come on girl, out with it! This was the perfect opportunity. She steeled herself and blurt out her frustrations, waiting for him to respond.
"So, I find it kind of funny that…of all places you two could have been, you found yourselves here, in New Orleans, just when Sarah and I happened to be here. Care to elaborate on this odd coincidence? I mean, you explained Sarah's history to me but I'm still confused why you're here and what your aim is."
She frowned, looking over at him with a narrowed gaze as she continued. She went there, might as well get it all out in the open. "I really need to know what's at play here. I'm worried for Sarah. You've been nothing but nice to us and I hate to sound like I'm being a distrustful twat but…you're not even human. That makes me extremely nervous, Niall. How do I know you'll have human responses to things? What if you're just biding your time to drag us away like the bogeyman who has found its latest toy? Sarah's way too caught up in Jareth's razzle dazzle and you're…" She let her voice waiver off for a moment, waving a hand over towards him when his eyebrows rose with amusement as she continued on, "…well, you. Are you two playing nice now and only to drag us off to some alternate world where we become your slaves or something when we let down our guard?"
Niall stopped against the side of a building, blinking and looking at her with an incredulous expression on his face at her bald-faced accusations. Slowly, he started to laugh, shaking his head. "You really don't trust easily, do you?"
"Can you blame me?" She hissed, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at Niall with a frown. She hesitated a moment but added when his laughter slowly died into a small sigh and his hand scrubbed at his eyes, wanting to put him at ease. "It's not that I don't want to, because I do. It's just…this seems a little too good to be true for us mere mortals. I trust myself enough to know I can force myself to resist your weird voodoo sex magic you got going on…but Sarah? She looks completely taken with Jareth and don't play stupid, I know you saw it at brunch. I'm serious…I've never seen that girl lose it like that over a guy. And he's not even human! He can hurt her in ways a normal guy can't, Niall. I'm worried."
Niall raised a hand to silence her tirade and she quieted, watching him nervously. He offered her a faint smile but it looked tired. She frowned at the discomfort she felt knowing her concern was the cause.
"First, I understand. I am not angry, please don't think it. I've been in your shoes before and it is an uncomfortable position. Just, please understand where I am coming from as well. I am very tired of constantly telling people I am simply here to enjoy this wonderous town. It just so happened that the fates brought you ladies here as well. I've known Jareth a very long time, Caitlin. Whether or not the two of them admit it now, there is something there between them. Jareth has not been the same since Sarah ran his Labyrinth. He's restless and unhappy and I assumed – correctly, it seems – that Sarah had something to do with it. The only duplicitous activity I've done is omit that you ladies would be here when we were, otherwise Jareth would not have joined me and it would have spoiled my plans to reunite them. I really, truly do not have some ulterior motive other than to see my best friend happy."
Caitlin frowned, listening to the tiredness in Niall's voice as his eyes slid closed and he frowned. She suddenly felt guilty for all but accusing him of something awful, quickly stepping forward to fill the gap between them and cup his cheek. His eyes opened to look down at her and she offered him a faint smile.
"I believe you," she murmured. His eyebrows rose slowly when she repeated it. "I do believe you, Niall. I'm just worried about Sarah. She's more fragile than I am."
"I know," he murmured, reaching up to cup the back of her hand where it pressed against his cheek. "Would it put you at ease to know that I have planned for that, in the event he does hurt her?"
Caitlin nodded, her shoulders relaxing. Her eyes dropped to his mouth and several seconds passed before she heard his intake of air and the tension in his jaw as it flexed under her fingers. Her eyes snapped up to his and Caitlin dropped her hand from his cheek as if she'd been scalded when his gaze stared back, his eyes glinting darkly with hunger.
Caitlin plastered another friendly smile on her face and looked around, forcing past the sudden awkwardness she felt. "So…what's next?"
He grinned faintly at her side, letting out a soft laugh, letting her know he knew she was ignoring the attraction for now – but he'd noticed she hadn't recoiled in horror. He shifted, lightly brushing his fingers through her flyaway hair that was still a mess from last night, making her bite her lip, only to tuck her arm into his elbow as he turned, tugging her along with him. "How about some galleries? I do love paintings..."
She nodded and they proceeded down the street, both choosing not to address the sudden unanswered attraction between them as they distracted themselves with shopping.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah studied Jareth's sleeping profile from where she laid against his side in the bed, shivering as his fingertips lightly tickled against her backbone from where they had loosened from her hip in his sleep. They had stripped each other of their clothing over an hour ago and had fallen into a lazy doze after a few more quick couplings, tangled up in one another but refusing to let go. Sarah had napped briefly with Jareth but soon found herself awake, studying the beautiful male beside her. She was initially surprised the night they'd found themselves in each other's arms at his appetite but eventually decided it must be his fae heritage. She couldn't remember any other man she'd been with being so insatiable. She blushed faintly, remembering the way he brought out her wantonness – she'd never been the kind to be so hungry - but staring over his naked form, she realized it was him that brought this side of her out.
Lordy, what am I going to do with you, Jareth? What is going on between us? Lust? Something more?
Her heart tugged painfully in her chest as she watched him doze, knowing with a sharp sadness that she could easily fall in love with him, if she hadn't already. She refused to think on the subject in detail, fearing she'd already know the answer to that question. Stupid, stupid! Why are you doing this to yourself, Williams? Can't you just enjoy it for what it is? What's an immortal fae king going to do with the love of some ordinary human?
Sighing softly and watching him, she inwardly made peace with deciding to ignore anything to do with feelings, knowing instinctually it would somehow change things between them – and she couldn't determine if it would be for the better. The thought of him looking at her with pity made her cringe. She wouldn't be able to stand it, wouldn't be able to offer herself to him again if he only wanted sex but nothing more. It would ruin this strange armistice between them and sour the rest of her trip. The thought of that occurring had her making her choice: There would be no discussion about feelings with him.
Stop thinking. Stop thinking at all! Just enjoy this! You've only known this side of him for two days. Ten years of fantasy-filled dreams, unanswered what-ifs and several rounds of mind-blowing sex do not a relationship make! Admit it, even if this is just a fling, it's worth every minute of it.
Feeling him stir against her, she forced her morose thoughts away and smiled when his eyes opened as his head turned slightly, meeting her gaze. His own seemed soft and flinty, the very epitome of a satisfied male. She chuckled faintly as he leaned down with a smile and kissed her jawline, relaxing once more against the sheets as he nuzzled the side of her head with his nose.
"Someone is awake," he murmured huskily in a muddled tone laced with amusement. She nodded and shivered as his hands tightened around her waist, pulling her closer.
"Yes…" She whispered, enjoying his kisses, but relieved when he didn't push for sex. Her head was already stuffed to capacity with her rioting emotions as it stood and she was afraid if he drove her body towards another mind-shattering release, she'd end up saying things she regretted later. Determined to end the silence, she tipped her head back and brushed the hair out of his eyes. He smiled, turning his head towards her and closing his own eyes for a moment, seemingly enjoying the way she touched him freely.
"So…what's it like? Ruling over the Labyrinth?" She asked curiously, voicing several of her unanswered questions that had come to her over the years, never having the chance before to ask them. "I didn't get to see as much as I'd have liked, time constraints and all." She grinned faintly at his small chuckle.
"Beautiful. Frustrating. Tiring….but you saw more than you think. They adored you, by the way, the denizens of the Labyrinth. After you left, they wouldn't stop talking about you for weeks, despite my threats. They thought I didn't know, but I could hear them whispering about you when I left the room. They've never had a champion before."
Sarah stilled, her eyes going wide. "Never?" She asked, her voice wavering in disbelief.
He nodded, his eyes meeting hers as he touched the side of her face, dragging a finger across her cheek. "Yes, you are the first." She decided to ignore the soft look that entered his eyes at his admission.
She gave him her most disbelieving look, making him laugh. "Alright, I admit I made it a little easier for you than others. Besides, I couldn't get the denizens or the Labyrinth itself to be too hard on you. You kept making friends out of everything that set eyes on you. You have this uncanny ability to inspire loyalty in the oddest of creatures. It was immensely frustrating, I'll have you know. It made it very difficult for someone to be threatening when their subjects wish to befriend the runner instead of frighten them."
She actually smiled at that, resting her head against his chest, her fingers idly tracing the pattern on the emblem that hung from his neck. "I liked being their friend, it made me feel less lonely for the first time since my parents split. It was all really quite wonderful, when I wasn't worried about Toby."
He frowned, listening to her talk about her life. "Do you talk much with your mother? I remember you were very fond of her, from the photos in your room."
Her eyes snapped up to his and went round. "How'd you know about that? When were you in my room?"
He shrugged a shoulder faintly with a small smile. "I saw them before you summoned me. Why so surprised, precious? Yes, I spied on you before you called me. So what? You put on such lovely plays in the park, by the way. I couldn't help but be a little interested in what it was about my book that captivated such a high-spirited girl. Where'd you even find it? There are not many copies left."
"My grandmother found it on vacation in Ireland….oh, you didn't! Oh dear god…" She whispered weakly, plastering her hands over her face as her face turned crimson, remembering how ridiculously over the top she was during those reenactments. She even remembered with a cringe the dress she'd insisted her grandmother make for her so when she recited the words it would be perfect in her mind's eye. How embarrassing! "Please tell me you didn't watch all of it!"
"Oh, I most certainly did…" He chuckled, hearing her moan of dismay and tugging her hands away from her face, tipping her chin back with his fingers to meet her gaze, his own amused and kind. "You were adorable, by the way. Relax, Sarah. You were young. Even I was young once and did foolish things."
She rolled her eyes and shook her head from where she could between his fingers gripping her chin, wrinkling her nose. His head rolled to the side as he laughed, dropping his hand from her face. "You don't believe me! Fine, I suppose that's deserved."
He paused and seemed to calm himself from laughing, looking back at her with a faint grin. "How about I tell you something embarrassing about my past, then, to even the odds? When I was about the equivalent of your age, I once tried to woo a girl to a dance by sneaking into her room. I had prepared a song for her, as you know I like to sing. Only it was her father in the room, not her! And I was wearing this gods-awful violet color, as I was told that was her favorite. Even worse, her brother was in the room and told the entire household, guests and all, the following morning. It was quite possibly the worst night of my young adult life. They teased me needlessly for weeks – and I did not get the girl. She wouldn't even look at me after that."
Sarah's jaw dropped open, a belt of laughter pouring out of her before she could stop herself, staring at him in disbelief, having a hard time imaging anyone turning him down. "Oh noooooo…." She moaned softly, chuckling with a wince, feeling instantly defensive for the vision of a besotted young Jareth being humiliated in front of his crush's family that popped into her head.
"Oh yes, I'm afraid." He nodded sagely with a sigh, rubbing a hand across his forehead. "That little stunt got me not only in trouble with my father, the girl's father, but my poor ego was crushed to dust for a good century afterwards."
Sarah smiled faintly and patted his chest gently, letting him know she sympathized with his plight. He glanced down at her with a smirk.
Sarah cleared her throat, ignoring the brief heated look at entered his eyes, not wanting to ruin their conversation. Her eyes lowered to trace along the planes of his chest, lightly touching the pendant on his chest once more. "Does it get lonely ruling the Labyrinth? It sounds like from what Niall said most at your court avoid you. It sounds to me like they're all a bunch of snobs, but I imagine you'd still get lonesome after a while with no close friends…"
He stilled and she knew he watched her intently for several minutes from the way she felt his gaze on her but she refused to look up from where her fingers traced his pendant, afraid at what she'd see there. Eventually he shrugged and answered her question. "It does, yes. I don't have many friends, not that I've really cared for them much. Niall is the closest I'd call to a friend. I have alliances, counselors, but I am not used to letting people get too comfortable around me. I have too much of my father's lessons ingrained in me, I suppose. He was not a warm man but his shrewdness allowed him to make serious gains in powers before he passed. Between his work and my own tutelage, I gained the seat of the Labyrinth. It's a low court but a very powerful one. Court functions are usually dull and rather strained because of my heritage but they're too cowardly or comfortable in their own stations to challenge me outright."
Sarah lifted her gaze and the hidden pride in his voice as his eyes shifted away from her and stared at the ceiling, swallowing as she saw what she remembered of him from his first entrance into her bedroom. This was the cool and calculated face of the Goblin King and he was frightening, even if she didn't want to admit it.
"Have you had to fight anyone to maintain your position as Goblin King?" She murmured, watching his gaze tear from the ceiling to look back at her. The glint and impassive face of his Goblin King visage never left his face and she felt a sense of internal pride herself that she steadily held his gaze. Eventually, he smiled.
"Not so often now, but at first yes."
"Have you ever killed someone?" She whispered, suddenly curious.
He studied her for several minutes before replying, his expression never changing. "Yes."
She watched him then nodded, lowering her gaze. "I figured as much. They deserved it?" She looked back at him, her hand stilling against his chest.
"Yes, Sarah. I do not kill for pleasure. Only when I have to and only to maintain my seat or stop a threat against the Labyrinth or a court alliance. I've killed many times but I take no enjoyment out of it."
She nodded and smiled faintly at him, letting him know she didn't judge him for it. He relaxed under her and brushed a strand of her hand behind her right ear. "I'm glad you understand some of what the world I come from is like. I've had my share of broken alliances, jilted lovers…but not anything like true companionship, not like mortals."
Sarah felt herself briefly tense at that, her eyes dropping to study the pendant against his chest once more. Christ, he all but told me fae don't love. Thank god I didn't say anything. This would be over before it even started.
"It's not to say it doesn't occur, I just have not experienced something like it." He murmured, turning her head up to meet his. She braced herself against what she' see but was surprised to see the softening of his eyes as he smiled. "I'm rather jealous of you mortals. You love so deeply and so freely. What's it like?"
"Um…" She blinked, laughing faintly with a hint of a blush. That was not what I was expecting…
"I can't speak for romantic love but...I love Toby with all my heart. If he was gone, it'd be like a piece of me was missing. I'd do anything for him, even fight a Goblin King." She grinned faintly, watching him smile in response as she struggled to describe love. "He brings out something in me I didn't know I had, you know? If he was ever gone, I'd have a hole here…" She stroked her fingers against her chest. "I'm not sure when you lose something like that, you're ever able to fill it again. You just learn to live with it."
Jareth remained silent for several moments after that, watching her. Once again, she felt nervous about meeting his gaze, instead moving to stare over at the clock. When she read the time, she bolted upright.
"Crap! It's almost five thirty! Come on, we need to get dressed, Niall and Cait are expecting us. Tomorrow, you're taking me shopping. No more sexual distractions during the day. While I'm certainly not complaining, I would like to grab a few things while I'm here, if you don't mind. I promised Toby and Karen a few things."
He grinned faintly and sat up, turning her head as she was about to scoot off the edge and head to the shower. He studied her, tilting his head to the side, and she couldn't help but swallow at the intense look in his eyes. He leaned over and kissed her softly, his tongue teasing her lower lip into pulling down, her mouth opening to his, and soon she found herself breathless.
"Jareth, we need to…" She murmured between moans as his hands lowered from her face to cup her breasts and knead faintly.
"Why not knock out two birds with one stone? Let me shower with you? I'll make it worth your while…" He grinned against her mouth, bringing her hand to cup him underneath the sheets. She shuddered as her hand connected with the hard length of him, gently grasping and tugging. This time, it was him that moaned.
He is going to kill me…how can I be this constantly horny? Jesus, it must be something with fae hormones. I want him inside me right now .
"Alright…" She whispered, giving into the spiraling desire inside her with a moan, feeling her body almost painfully jerk into full-blown arousal as his fingers glided across her breasts and tugged, sending sparks straight into her womb. Already she was slick, willing, ready. "But you have five minutes and then we're showering for real. You can make up the time to me after the concert."
"Deal…" He whispered, flicking a wrist to transport them into the shower – that was mysteriously already on and running pleasantly warm water over them both, steaming the bathroom mirrors with a soft coating of mist – and he was already on her, pressing her against the shower wall as he opened her legs and thrust gently into her as he anchored her against his tall form with his hands at the back of her knees.
"I will never get enough of this…" He panted against the side of her neck as his hips ground against hers, his cock tugging deliciously inside her, making her moan. She squeezed down on him, making him groan and throw his head back in response as her own hips wiggled against his to keep up with his thrusts, her hands grasping at his shoulders, occasionally slipping against the wet skin of his back from the showerhead that pulsed warm water over the two of them.
"I will never get tired of spilling inside you…" He groaned sharply, whispering huskily in her ear and making her moan, thrusting for several moments in long, hard, punishing strokes while his tongue teased the shell of her ear. "Do you like that?"
She moaned in response.
He panted and groaned again, biting down briefly on her ear. "You do, don't you? Sweet Sarah, so wet, aroused at the thought of me unable to stand the warm, wet feel of you. You feel so good, Sarah...so wet…." He briefly stilled in his punishing thrusts to grip the back of her knees for a moment, letting out a strangled groan against the side of her neck. "I…fuck….I'm close Sarah…"
So am I! Harder! Now! Now, now, now! She moaned loudly, gripping his ass with her hands, urging him to take her faster. "Keep going…harder…" She pleaded brokenly and he obliged, his grip returning as his hips pounded her against the tile in deep rhythmic thrusts.
He let out a loud groan and she screamed, both climaxing in hard spasming jerks against each other at the same moment. It took them both several moments to settle their nerves after that, even longer for Jareth to pull himself out of her and settle her gently back on the floor of the shower.
Turning, they quietly bathed each other, comfortable with the silence that followed.
When they left the shower, he smiled faintly at her and she smiled in return, kissing him gently on the cheek. "Go, let me finish getting ready."
He left the bathroom and she shut the door, sagging against the frame a moment. "Dear god, that was…."
She swallowed and stood, moving to the mirror to start drying her hair and putting on her makeup.
Jareth leaned against the other side of the door, pressing his forehead against the frame as he closed his eyes, his hands on either side of the wall to the bathroom. His cock still throbbed, slightly sore from the abuse he'd put it through the past few days, but he didn't care. He was insatiable when it came to her and he briefly thought for a terrifying moment that he didn't know when – or if – the feeling would ever cease when it came to Sarah Williams, Champion of the Labyrinth. The thought of bonding with her, her body rounding with his child, made him instantly hard.
You are powerless against her. Admit it, you love her. You love everything about her. She is kind, sweet, willing to deal with your mood swings, has seen you at your worst in the Labyrinth all those years ago, doesn't care about marrying into a low court and considers creatures like goblins and trolls and dwarves as friends. What other woman can make such statements? Claim her!
Wiping a hand over his face, he stood and moved away from the bathroom door when he heard the noise of the now-familiar hair dryer at work, chuckling at the idea that he was jealous of a hair dryer, already wanting her close despite only being separated by a few minutes.
I am acting like a fool, he grimaced, moving to the double doors that led out onto the balcony. He suddenly saw a flash of his father in his mind's eye, scowling and shaking his head at his antics, opening his mouth to admonish how silly he'd become over a mortal.
Waving a hand viciously at the image to banish it from his mind, he frowned, wholly uncomfortable with the feelings Sarah rose inside him. With his internal admission also came the anxiety, remembering the last time she'd turned him away. Granted, this time he was able to thoroughly seduce her and show her exactly how perfectly they fit together – but would it be enough? Did he have the courage to tell her how he really felt?
"Not now," he replied, slowly nodding his head in agreement with his words. "Not yet." She is still here a few more days. Don't ruin it, not yet. Not yet. Not when you've reached a level of bliss with her you never thought you would have in a lifetime. Not yet, not yet.
Waving a hand over his form, he dried his hair and donned his familiar human glamour, removing the coloring around his eyes and the arch in his eyebrows, shortening his hair, turning it a slightly darker blond. Looking over at himself in the mirror, he waved a hand and donned the comfortable colors he always reached for, dark leather pants and boots and a tight PVC coat, buttoned up to his throat in a fashioned military collar.
The door to the bathroom opened and Sarah emerged wrapped in a towel, her face beautifully done up with a hint of smokiness around her eyes. She smiled and turned, dropping the towel and slipping into black lacy undergarments, his eyes sharply watching every facet of her movements, itching once more to touch her, despite the soreness still present in his body, especially his cock.
"You are beautiful," he murmured as she slipped into a burgundy velvet dress that flirted around her hips and pulled knee high boots over each calf, trying them in place across her knees. She smiled faintly and blushed, coming up beside him and tugging him down to her face, kissing him gently. He smiled faintly at the act, ignoring his body's demand to grab at her.
"Mind if I do something?" She asked, making him tilt his head curiously to the side. She grinned and tugged him back into the bathroom, instructing him to sit on the closed toilet lid. Chuckling, he did as she asked.
She reached for something in her cosmetics bag and turned back to him with a kohl liner in her hand. She grinned faintly. "May I?"
He chuckled and nodded and stilled as she slowly lined both his eyes. "Perfection," she grinned, kissing him faintly again. "You rock the guyliner so hard. I miss those marks of yours in glamour. Figured I'd make up for them somehow. Besides, you'll fit in with the music crowd tonight anyways."
He stood and leaned over the bathroom counter, inspecting her work. He smiled faintly, noting it enhanced the color of his mismatched eyes. Glancing back at her, he kissed her cheek. "I like it."
"Me too. You're welcome." She grinned and tugged him towards the door, grabbing for her purse and slinging it over her shoulder. "Now come on, we're going to be late."
He chuckled and pulled her against him, her mouth opening in protest as she'd been heading towards the door to the hotel room. "You forget, we have magic."
Leaning down to pull her closer, inhaling the scent of her as her arms wrapped around him, he transported them away from the hotel towards their dinner date with friends.
Chapter 9: Dinner and a Show
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah heard Caitlin calling for them as soon as they appeared in Niall's entryway, swaying faintly in surprise at a small dizziness that teased her senses as the transportation spell dissipated. That's new? She thought briefly over the last few times they'd used the spell, wondering what caused the odd sensation this time, fighting the urge to fall flat on her face as her surroundings tilted wildly, closing her eyes tightly. Jareth kept his arms around her and seemed to sense her momentary tensing, running a soothing hand up and down her spine as the other gripped her waist tightly, the movements easing the jarring feeling somewhat.
"Whoa, steady there. You alright, love?" He murmured, resting his chin against the top of her head a moment, holding her to him. She grumbled something unintelligible even to her own ears, speaking once more when her head began to clear, both of them ignoring Caitlin's call for the moment.
"Yes, sorry. For some reason, that was a little jarring…." She whispered, her brows knitting in confusion as she kept her eyes closed to ease the dizziness, curling her arms around his waist. She felt him smile at the edge of her temple where his lips hovered against the delicate skin there.
"It's the wards. They're a little tougher to transport through. I am used to it by now but I forget how it might feel for you, I'm sorry. Can you walk?"
She nodded and he took her gently by the wrists and guided her towards Caitlin's voice. After a few moments, she felt recovered enough to open her eyes, briefly taking in the simple opulence of the creole-styled townhouse. The muted colors and refined furnishing left her temporarily speechless.
"Sarah? Jareth? Is that you?"
"Present," She called out, stepping through an archway into the kitchen proper with Jareth, momentarily admiring the white marble finishing of the room. "Wow, nice digs."
"Thank you, darling!" Niall called from the opposite end of the room, peering over the edge of the open refrigerator with a smile. Sarah chuckled as she noted his lean form wrapped in an apron. It tickled her how domestic the fae prince looked, despite his otherworldliness. He clearly wasn't joking about enjoying his time spent Aboveground. As amusing as he looked, it wasn't a look she could see Jareth sporting, glancing back at him. She swallowed faintly at the lustful images that filled her head, stuffing them into a dark corner of her mind when she heard Niall call for her again, dragging her attention back to his friend.
"Thank the gods you've arrived! I happened to learn what an absolute horrid cook your friend here is. She almost ruined the dough and that would have ended dinner plans fairly quickly."
"Oh, shut it. I warned you, not my fault you didn't believe me." Caitlin rolled her eyes and grinned sheepishly from where she sat on the countertop near the sink, dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, a glass of red wine in her hand.
Sarah laughed as Jareth leaned against the kitchen island, studying the ingredients laid out by Niall. It seemed like pizza was on the menu, from what she could tell.
"If Caitlin is not cooking, then who is? You're not much better yourself, Niall…" Jareth offered, casting an amused smile Sarah's way. She fought a grin and Caitlin laughed and briefly leaned forward to give Jareth a high five. He returned it with a soft chuckle.
"He shoots, he scores! Nice one, Jareth. I knew it wasn't just me! He messed up the dough recipe about three times before he finally got it right, you know…" She whispered fiercely to them both, ignoring Niall's growled response.
Niall made a huffing noise from the refrigerator as Jareth and Caitlin exchanged grins. "You wound me, Jareth. At least I know my way around a kitchen, unlike a certain Goblin Monarch. Without cooks, you'd most likely starve to death." Sarah laughed faintly as Jareth rolled his eyes and Niall continued. "To answer your question, your lovely lady friend is. It seems we're the only civilized bunch out of the lot. Dearest Sarah, are you sure you're not interested in upgrading to a more worthwhile paramour?" He stepped back, the refrigerator swinging closed behind him as he directed a smirk and an eyebrow wiggle in Sarah's direction, teasing her. She laughed but didn't fail to notice the immediate glower on Jareth's expression, his grin fading fast. She did her best to ignore the look but felt her heart and libido slightly melt in response to the immediate annoyance written on Jareth's face.
"I'm good, thanks. He makes up for it in other ways…" She replied, yelping when Jareth slapped her on the ass as she stepped forward to help Niall with the additional ingredients in his hands that he'd taken from the refrigerator. "Jareth! Stop! Sheesh…" She glared at him over her shoulder, flushing faintly, helping Niall arrange a collection of herbs, vegetables and cured meats on the counter.
He flashed her a lascivious grin. "That's not what you were saying earlier…"
Caitlin made a gagging noise, setting her wineglass aside as Niall snickered, making Sarah close her eyes and want to die. "Ugh, you two make me sick. I'd say get a room, but you did that most of the day. You two need to stop, you're giving me hot flashes with all the pheromones flying around this place."
Hopping off the countertop, Caitlin grabbed hold of Jareth's elbow and steered him towards a back door. "Come on stud, come help me get some more wine. I think you've worn out Sarah enough for one afternoon. Let the two chefs do their thing before they poison our food. I want to see this concert."
"Quite right! Begone, savages!" Niall called from Sarah's side as they slipped past them and out the back door, beginning to dice the vegetables as Sarah tied an apron over her dress that she found hanging from the back wall, bringing the bowl of dough out from the corner of the kitchen. She smiled as she removed the damp cloth from the top of the bowl, nodding at the texture of the mix. "You did good, Niall. It's perfect."
"You're most welcome. I'm happy to oblige. Caitlin says you're famous for your pizza. I can't wait to try it."
Sarah laughed faintly. "Pizza and soup is about where my famous tendencies end. The rest is takeout. Where's your rolling pin?" She asked over her shoulder, feeling Niall come up beside her, tool in hand, as she sprinkled flour over the counter and began the process of rolling the dough. She felt Niall watch her, beginning to randomly interject directions for how she best liked to work the dough, even stepping back a few times to allow him to give it a try. She smiled when he correctly rolled the second crust all by himself, giving him a firm nod of approval.
"So, did you have a good time with Cait this afternoon?" She asked casually as she laid the crust out on a stone slab Niall already had waiting for her.
"I most certainly did. Your friend is lovely, she has a lot of spirit. I admire that in a woman."
She grinned faintly at the change of tone in Niall's voice. She knew that sound, she'd mastered it long ago. The art of sounding uninterested when you totally are. I see right through you, you know.
"She likes you, too." She couldn't help but add, waiting to hear his response as she tucked and rolled the edges of the crust on the stone slab. It didn't take long for him to reply.
"Oh?" Niall's voice waivered briefly as he brought over the cut-up toppings and popped a can of tomato sauce, leaning against the counter to watch Sarah made quick work of a few pizzas, one with vegetables and other with meat toppings. She nodded, looking over his way. He looked briefly pleased then masked it under an inquisitive look of his own, studying her now, directing the questions back towards her.
"And what of you and Jareth? Has your reunion been a pleasant one?" He asked casually, studying her.
She blushed, glancing back his way to meet his gaze, prepared for his line of questioning but still feeling shy about answering them. She nodded slowly, doing her best to mimic his aloof look and probably failing, unable to hide the small smile that sprung up on her lips. "Yes, it has. He's…not what I expected. Sweet, almost."
"I'm glad you see him beyond the villain role he played all those years ago. He hated doing that, you know. But rules are rules." She felt Niall's gaze on her and nodded, doing her best to ignore the probing curiosity of his gaze, knowing instinctively he was being kind and forthright with her.
"I don't, I haven't for a while. I figured that out several years ago." She offered, motioning when one pizza was ready to be placed in the oven. They paused their conversation while Niall placed the prepared pizza in the oven, studying each other closely with small smiles as they pondered what to say next.
I'm in love with your friend? Surprise? Sarah amusedly thought, watching as Niall briefly winced as he seemed to think of something and chuckled under his breath, casting her out of her thoughts. She frowned, confused what would bring on that kind of response. "What is it?"
"I have a confession…" He began, briefly looking troubled and apologetic as he watched her still, tilting her head back towards him with a frown. That sounds bad….
"What do you mean?" She asked, slightly wary. Fuck, this is what I get for trusting fae! What the hell is it now – before her thoughts could run away with her, he was talking again and she forced her attention back on him.
"Your meeting wasn't entirely accidental. It was mostly my doing, I admit. While I am fae, I don't normally manipulate events ruthlessly, so please don't think too negatively of me. Jareth picked up on it immediately and – before you think too harshly on him – it was all my doing and he most likely feared you would think he'd manipulated things to benefit him, which is why I waited until I was alone with you to admit my duplicity. He did not have anything to do with it." Niall paused to watch Sarah's reaction and she relaxed, accepting his answer, motioning for him to continue.
"I did promise a certain dwarf to look after you, so consider this as part of that passing gift to him. I have to say, I am very pleased to see how well you two do together. Jareth hasn't been like this since…well, since you ran the Labyrinth." Niall continued, shrugging a shoulder as he draped a towel across one arm.
Jareth...not the same since I ran the Labyrinth? What's he trying to say? Sarah did her best to keep her thoughts from betraying her in her facial expressions, giving him her full attention. When she heard mention of Hoggle, her eyebrows briefly raised in surprise.
"You see…the masks you wore… they were enchanted by a dear friend of mine who lives here. She's a lovely woman, you'd adore her if you met her, so I assure you the magic wasn't harmful. I was just worried that if you had known who one another were, you wouldn't have been so receptive to a reunion of sorts. It only shielded your identify from one another at the masquerade. I hadn't realized Jareth would respond so…deeply…to you, but…what's done is done." Niall paused and frowned, leaning forward to meet her gaze. "He does care for you, Sarah. He's kind of a Neanderthal when it comes to emotions, his father's doing you see, but he does."
Sarah swallowed, staring at Niall, thinking back over the past few days. Her pulse roared in her ears as she absorbed what he said. That night, the night I invited Jareth to my room…. Her mind wandered back to that night and she flushed hotly in both arousal and embarrassment, remembering the way Jareth acted, the fierce look of unfiltered desire on his face as they came together before he knew who she was. "Are you..sure it didn't affect us? We were…" She trailed off, pinkening, too embarrassed to voice what her thoughts were asking. Was this some product of the spell? He was…and I was…it was…WOW, it was…
"Oh no, dear. That was all you two. Frankly, I was a little surprised you both took it that far that night but I let it happen. I imagine if Caitlin or I interrupted that, Jareth would have murdered us. He was very…determined. Am I wrong to assume you both enjoyed yourselves?" He smiled slowly but not in a teasing way, letting her know that Jareth's response to her and hers to him was entirely of their own doing.
"No, no…" She blushed again, lowering her gaze, too embarrassed to meet his. She did lean forward and patted his forearm reassuringly, however, feeling the tension leaving his frame. "I'm not upset with you, Niall. I've…I've thought of Jareth before we reunited, you know. A lot of 'what-ifs' running through my head. I was just too scared to act on any of them, since I didn't know if he'd really…" She trailed off, remembering Jareth's offer. She decided to not continue that thought out loud, unsure if he had told his friend how her run had ended. "Anyways…" she continued with a smile, finally meeting his gaze. "Thanks for telling me."
"Keep faith, Sarah. I'm not sure what Jareth has said to you, but if body language tells me anything, he cares for you more than he has for anyone. He had a very cold father. Most fae are that way. In fact, I'm very unlike the average fae. He'll come around to telling you where you stand with his feelings."
Sarah nervously twisted her fingers together in front of her. She cleared her throat and smiled, hoping to change the subject but appreciating his honesty with her. "You're really an amazing friend, Niall. I feel like I can trust you. I hope I can call you my friend, too?"
"I thought we already were?" He smiled, looking relieved she seemed to be taking the story of their initial encounter in stride.
She grinned faintly in response and they both turned to watch the pizza cook.
Caitlin tugged Jareth down the steps of the wine cellar, looking around the small arsenal of bottles lining several walls once they were properly underground. "You fae sure like your booze…" She commented, moving towards the far wall. "Niall already told me to avoid the bottles by the door, something about the wine being too strong for us mere mortals…"
Jareth eyed the bottles in question, nodding once he read the labels. "He's correct. We do want you ladies to be able to walk tonight, after all."
She smirked at him over her shoulder as she stilled in front of the section marked for blended reds. "What's your favorite?" She asked, waiting for him to catch up to where she stood. She moved back and let him inspect the bottles.
"This one is rather delicious and fits in with what the chefs are making," he commented, selecting a bottle of Sangiovese blend. "Fruity, slightly sweet, not too dry, just perfect."
"I can't even pronounce this, I'll take your word for it." She took the bottle from him as he grabbed one more, shrugging her shoulders as she read the label. "So…how's things with you and Sarah?"
He raised an eyebrow as he glanced back at her, a cool expression melting over his features, keeping his voice even. He knew an inquisition when he heard one and her friend was making no measures to hide her dig at his intentions towards Sarah. "Very well, why do you ask?"
"Call me curious." She shrugged again, watching him with eyes that bored into his, inwardly setting him on edge. He remembered Niall saying she was a seer but kept her gaze steady with his own. "What's your intentions with her?" Caitlin asked bluntly, watching him steadily as she took the other bottle from his hand.
Jareth felt his mouth thin into a displeased line and abruptly abandoned her glare, glancing back to the wine rack before him, keeping his expression mostly schooled, not raising to the bait. "Why the concern?" He asked after several seconds, studying what other wines Niall had squirreled away in his cellar. He heard Caitlin's huff of annoyance, knowing he was evading her questions.
"She's my best friend, I get a little protective." She replied with a shrug, stepping forward and sliding between him and his view of the wine selection, forcing his gaze to meet hers again. "And quit dodging the questions, fairy boy. Explain to me what is so great? Are you planning to see her more? Are you here for the sex? Give me some solid answers, Jareth. You're being a little vague on the answers, bud."
Jareth glared briefly at Caitlin in irritation but noted that despite the brief flinch in her frame, she didn't back down. He shrugged a shoulder, schooling his features once more. "I keep my affairs private. What goes on between Sarah and I will remain between Sarah and I. Shall we go see how they're doing?" He didn't like her aggressiveness and was not going to discuss how he felt with Sarah's friend, regardless of how tempting, feeling his temper rise. Why is everyone determined to be in my damned business with Sarah? Can't a man figure this shit out for himself without a crowd of 'do-gooders' trying to sabotage it every step of the way?
"Not so fast..." Her arm shot out and blocked him from moving past her. He cast an angry glare down at her, towering over the little waifish woman but inwardly respecting that she didn't back down, meeting his gaze with a flinty one of her own. "I want to make something perfectly clear, Goblin King. Sarah likes you, really likes you. She's not the rough and tumble kind of gal. I care about her and don't want her hurt. If you aren't serious about her, let her down gently. If I see that woman shed one tear for you when you break it off, I'll castrate you and feed your dangly bits to my dog. I don't give a damn that you're a fae. Where there's a will there's a way and I can be a very determined woman when my friends get hurt. Especially Sarah."
Jareth studied her stiff posture and his respect for her grew, cooling his sudden ire. He placed a hand on her shoulder and pushed her gently back, letting her know it wasn't a brush off but a gesture to tell her to let down her guard. "Relax, woman. I have no intention of hurting Sarah. I have no intention of ending this affair, either."
Caitlin stared at him with a brief look of surprise. She nodded and let him move past her. As he began climbing the stairs, he heard her call out after him just as he was leaving the cellar. "Do you love her?"
He paused briefly on the stairs, the wood creaking underneath his feet, then continued to climb, leaving her in the cellar with two bottles of wine in her hands.
Caitlin grinned faintly and rolled her eyes. "No answer is the same as an answer, fairy boy. I'll take that as a yes. Your dangly bits are safe…for now."
"Holy fuck, girl. This pizza rocks." Caitlin moaned around her third mouthful, closing her eyes in pleasure as she swallowed a large piece of cheese and dough. Niall snorted and she blew him a raspberry. "And the dough is good too, sweetcakes. Relax."
Jareth seemed to also enjoy the pizza, having devoured almost half of one on his own. Sarah laughed as he inhaled another slice in two seconds flat. She was glad she pushed to make four pies, watching the others devour the pizza like it was their last meal. She smiled, watching them eat enthusiastically and tease one another as they stuffed their faces.
"I'm still in shock you two have never had pizza before…" Sarah started, watching Jareth and Niall swallow down two slices in mere seconds, washing down the contents of their dinner with a glass of wine.
"Smelled it, but never ate it," Niall confirmed, sighing faintly with a grin. "You humans invent the most marvelous things."
"You don't have pizza where you come from?" She snorted in amusement at the idea. "I find that hard to believe."
"Not like that, no." Jareth replied, licking his fingers clean. Sarah tried not to stare but failed. He noticed her watching him and smirked faintly, tugging her chair closer to lick her lips, tasting the remnants of her own dinner. She laughed and shoved him playfully away.
"Oh, will you look at the time!" Caitlin exclaimed dramatically, dragging Sarah from Jareth, who was slowly tugging her into his lap. Jareth scowled but let her go, watching as Caitlin tug her friend down the hall. "Sooooo sorry to interrupt, but we've gotta get ready. You boys stay out of trouble, alright?"
"No, you're really not…" Jareth muttered under his breath as the women disappeared around the corner, faint laughter echoing down the hall, letting him know they heard his reply.
"She's marvelous, Jareth. Please tell me you'll spare me the agony of waiting and admitted to her how you feel." Niall suddenly whispered, leaning forward. "She can even cook! If you weren't so taken with her, I might fancy her myself."
Jareth thrust a narrowed gaze Niall's way, clenching his fingers tightly around his wineglass. "Back off, Niall. I mean it. Don't joke about her like that. She's mine."
Niall chuckled and waved a hand. "I'm just pressuring you to talk to her. You're not your father, you have nothing to prove. You have a secure seat at court. She's a champion of the Labyrinth, the Underground magic marked her when she won, if that's what has you worried? The courts will agree to the match and father and I will back it. It shouldn't be a concern. You have nothing to lose, my friend." Niall stared at Jareth with barely suppressed annoyance.
Jareth frowned but waved a hand at the mention of the courts. "It's not that. I planned to the last day of the trip. I'm just not in the mood to spoil what we have now, not yet. I will tell her, just not today. What if she doesn't feel the same way just yet? I need more time, to cement her feelings towards me."
Niall rolled his eyes but conceded with a raise of both hands as Jareth scowled at him.
"You're wasting time, my friend, using excuses when there is none. Just saying…" He smiled and pulled away from the table.
"I proposed to her once," He blurted out, admitting it finally to Niall. Niall stilled, turning to look at Jareth with a look of shock. "When she beat the Labyrinth. I poured my heart out to her and she refused me. She practically looked disgusted, Niall. That's a hard feeling to shake. What if she does it again?"
"She was fifteen, Jareth. Surely you understand she didn't know the concepts of romantic love at that time…." Niall began gently, only for Jareth to cut him off with a wave of his hand.
Niall frowned but dropped it. "She's not the same person she was ten years ago, Jareth. Neither are you. Remember that."
When Jareth didn't reply, Niall sighed and turned to head towards his master suite. "I'm going to dress. Do try and keep Sarah out at a decent hour, you're going to wear the poor woman out. I know how you feel around her, but enjoy each other for other reasons too, you know. I know how the bonding ritual tugs at your senses, but until you two have a chat about your feelings towards one another, all it will do is distract you from learning more about one another. Learn more about the woman you love, Jareth, besides how she sounds underneath the sheets."
Jareth glared at his friend but ended up snorting at his lecture, sipping at his wine as he leaned back in his seat. "Sure thing, dad. I do find this funny, though, coming from the man attempting to seduce her best friend…" He grinned faintly towards Niall as he drained the last of his wine.
Niall glared at him but eventually the frown transformed into a suggestive grin, a gleam in his eyes. "Oh, fine. I admit, I'm hoping I end the night earlier than planned. You shouldn't be the only one having all the fun. That one looks to be for the record books, if I manage to survive the experience."
Jareth laughed softly into his cup as Niall moved towards his quarters to dress.
"Caitlin, holy shit. You look amazing."
Sarah stared at Caitlin as she emerged from the bathroom, dressed in the smallest, tightest, sparkling ombre dress she'd ever seen. Caitlin's legs glowed from the spray of highlighting powder she'd dusted over her thighs, the dress a mixture of champagne gold and light silver sequins, reflecting the highlights of her red hair. Caitlin blew Sarah a kiss then tugged a coat on over the dress.
She grinned faintly, crossing her arms over her chest as she moved to the dressing mirror, fluffing her own hair and making sure she had not remnants of cooking on her clothes. Turning to look over her own velvet dress, she smiled in satisfaction. Eat your heart out, boys. We look amazing.
"Hoping to catch the eye of a certain fae prince?" She inquired gently, glancing back to watch Caitlin stiffen as she touched up her makeup in the mirror. She glared over at Sarah and Sarah waggled her brows.
Rolling her eyes and grinning as she looked back over her makeup in the mirror, she shrugged one shoulder. "Maaaaaybe."
Sarah laughed, tugging Caitlin towards the hall when she was done, coat settled over her dress, hiding it from prying eyes. "Come on, I am sure the guys are wondering what happened to us."
They met them halfway down the hall, both women stilling as they stared at the sight before them. Glancing at one another with a faint smirk, they shared a brief thought by the looks on their faces. Goddamn, those two are hot as hell and they're ours.
Unbeknownst to them, both men were thinking the same thing as they stared at the women hungrily while their gazes were distracted.
[House of Blues, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans]
The women leaned against the two men as they transported across the quarter into a shadowed alley a block away from the club, the thumping bass of the club already heard in the street as they walked towards it. Sarah briefly stilled as she caught the familiar thump of a song in the distance, reading the headliner's name and gasping faintly as they walked toward the entrance. The crowd alone told her it was a large name occupying the stage but she almost tripped on her heels when she read the name out loud. "Damn, Martin Garrix?! Niall, you have good taste."
Niall grinned and the four of them were led inside once he leaned forward and spoke to one of the suits barricading the door, having already been waved through the line that crowed the curb around the building.
"Enjoy your evening, Mr. Prince," One of the men said as they walked through the door. Sarah cast Jareth an amused smile as he leaned down and whispered in her ear. "Cover names. Prince, King…seemed fitting. Come on, I've got us a private balcony…"
Grabbing ahold of her hand, Jareth tugged her away from Caitlin and Niall who moved towards the coat check spot. They nodded as Sarah tugged on Niall's sleeve and pointed at where they were heading, soon after getting lost in the crowd of swaying bodies that littered the floor, the music soon drowning out all thought except for the soft vibrating thrum rising up through the crowd as the patrons screamed and cheered at the man on stage.
Jareth tugged her close to him, his arm gripping her tightly around the waist as they swayed with the crowd towards a set of stairs on the far side of the ballroom. Sarah gave in briefly, swaying and dancing with the crowd, seeing Jareth smile as he led her towards their destination. Soon, he was leaning forward, speaking with another unnamed security personnel and they were being led away from the crowd and up a flight of stairs, shown to a door. As they stepped through, Sarah saw an unoccupied bar at the back, the room cast in shadow, a railing against the far wall that let her lean out to watch the pulsing movements of the crowd over a small balcony, the rest of the room secluding them from the chaos downstairs. Soon, Jareth joined her, pressing up against her back, and they swayed to the music from their perch to watch the crowd going wild below.
Caitlin studied Niall as he turned in his coat, looking over at her with a smile as he extended his hand for hers. You're really going to do this, aren't you? Seduce an immortal fae high prince? You're either brave or completely insane. Alright, here goes nothing. Fuck it, let's do this.
She gathered all her courage and tugged off her coat, handing it over with a flash of a smile as his eyes widened, looking over her form with a possessive sweep. "What the hell are you wearing?" He hissed, reaching out to grab her and drag her against him. She easily evaded his grip and did a little swirl a few feet away.
"A dress, don't you like it?" He opened his mouth to reply, his eyes narrowing at the sight of her cleavage, but she didn't give him a chance to respond. Turning, she raised her arms and moved towards the crowd with a suggestive sway of her hips to the beat of the music, leaving Niall to gather the tickets for their coats. She grinned faintly as he glared at her, his jaw ticking as he waited with impatience for the man behind the counter to give him their stubs and she took the opportunity to get lost in the crowd. Oh boy, he's pissed. That's good, right?
Either way, she'd made an impression, good or bad. It was just a matter of time to see which one it was. She swayed and rocked her hips playfully as men and women came up to her and began to dance with her, tugging her towards the stage. Laughing faintly, she let a few swirl her around on the dance floor and steadily made her way towards the front of the ballroom, where the crowd gyrated at the sounds blasting out of the speakers near the stage like a single throbbing unit. She closed her eyes and danced, loosing herself to the beat. A few men grabbed for her and she ignored their brief grabs only to yelp as she was jerked back into the arms of another.
"If you need to dance, you'll do it with me," a familiar baritone voice hissed in her ear. She swallowed, feeling Niall's control snap as his arousal ground tightly against her ass, his hands roaming possessively over her hips, dragging her tightly against his frame. He snagged the tender spot below her ear and bit down gently, warning her she better not attempt to pull away, he wasn't in a giving mood, not after her earlier display. One of his hands snaked forward and cupped her left breast. The other men turned away, taking the hint.
She shuddered and turned angrily once his teeth let go, wanting to tell him he couldn't demand anything from her, she was her own woman – but all that was lost when he grabbed the back of her head and dragged his mouth across hers, drying her protests in her mouth as he sucked and bit down on her mouth with his teeth and lips and tongue. Mine, he all but screamed at her with the way he ground his hips against hers and took possession of her mouth. She melted, moaning faintly as he gripped her tightly and roughly thrust his tongue inside her mouth, demanding obedience. When you put it that way….she thought with a hum of pleasure as he hungrily escalated the kisses, feeling their noses bump against each other as he tilted her head to the side, looking to deepen the kisses. She tugged him closer, sliding her hands down the front lapels of his shirt, enjoying the play of muscle that tensed under her explorations, skirting his belt with her fingertips.
He aggressively thrust against her in tune with the beat, pulling her away from the crowd. Caitlin moaned with abandon, having lost all sense of shame and pride when she felt that grinding against her. Oh yes, give me all you got. I can handle it. I can take you on.
"I am going to fuck you until you can't walk…" He raggedly whispered in her ear. "You did that on purpose, you evil wench…" His hands were under her skirt, gripping her ass once more and tugging her against him as he yanked them into an abandoned stairwell, groaning against her mouth as she found him and cupped him through his pants. "You don't need those boys, not when you have me. I'll make sure you're fully satisfied. Don't you ever do that again…"
"Yes and yes. Less talk, more sex…" She whispered against his lips between biting kisses from his demanding mouth, her tongue thrusting up against his as she slipped her fingers into his pants, having safely maneuvered his belt and tugged the first two buttons of his pants loose. He groaned as her fingertips teased against the heavy warm tip of his cock, making her smile against his mouth when her hand reached in further, fully grasping him.
"Oohhhh my godddd. You do live up to the hype…" She huskily whispered against his mouth. "I wonder what it'll feel like inside me….will you be gentle? Or will you be rough? Will you make me scream?"
"You're about to find out, love…." With a growl, he tugged her to him and transported them away from the club.
"Can I make you a drink?" Jareth murmured against Sarah's temple as he held her close. She smiled, tipping her head back against his shoulder as she continued to dance, suggestively teasing her hips against his for a moment. He let her know he liked what she was doing, briefly gripping her hips with his hands and pulling her up against him. She chuckled and pulled away, looking back at the bar.
"Sure, a gin tonic please. Heavy on the tonic, I had a lot of wine at dinner. Make it with Bombay if they have it?"
He nipped at her ear and rubbed his hand over her ass, making her shiver and eventually moved towards the bar, watching Sarah as she danced briefly to the sway of the music against the railing of the balcony, her hips swaying slightly in a slow circle to the fast-paced rhythm. Watching her dance, the dress she wore flirting around her hips, each sway teasing the curve of her thighs and backside, made the familiar tug of arousal pull at him and his cock once more surged to life, branding his gut like a hot brand.
He swallowed, studying her for several moments, entertaining the idea of forgetting her drink and leaning her over the balcony to slide into her but forced his gaze away, doing as she asked and mixing her a drink, moving towards her once he found the proper ingredients and tasted it to make sure he hadn't been too heavy handed with the gin. She smiled back at him once he came back to stand at her side, handing her the drink as he hungrily watched her dance. His eyebrows raised in amusement as she tossed back the contents of the drink quickly, licking her lips as she turned to move towards him. He reached for her but she shoved him playfully back, surprising him with the force of the action, stumbling back into a chair with a look of amusement.
She tossed her head back and swung her hair to the sound of the animalistic pounding of rave music thumping out of the speakers below, placed her legs on either side of his hips, dancing in tune with the music as she straddled him. Jareth wasn't sure what brought on this playful side but wasn't about to complain, sliding his hands up her legs as she danced over him, grabbing onto his shoulders as leverage as she ground against him suggestively, her perfume teasing his nostrils. He grit his teeth as his arousal spiked again, making his stomach tense as she undulated above him, mimicking in slow erotic detail both the act of suggestive dancing and outright fucking, making his blood pool hotly in his groin.
He swallowed roughly, adjusting his posture as his cock pressed painfully against his pants. Gods, she's amazing. She grinned and dipped low, grinding her softness down on him, making him groan faintly and reach for her but she pulled back when he tried to reach for her to keep her in place. His cock protested the movement but he allowed her the freedom she asked for. He chuckled and kept his fingers loosely curled around her knees, not letting her totally escape but giving her the room to do as she pleased. He realized this was the first time she'd initiated sexual play between them and watched her with hooded eyes, wanting to see what she did next. His dick throbbed in his pants as he felt her teasingly drop down again, straddling his lap and rolling her hips suggestively. What are you up to, precious? God, I want to bury myself in that sweet little…
His thoughts drifted away as she ground down on him again, making him hiss and toss his head back briefly, grunting at the feel of her against him. She set aside her cup after grabbing an ice cube with two fingers, briefly placing it against his mouth and waiting for him to open his lips. He opened his mouth as she asked, his tongue darting out to feel her press the ice cube against his mouth. She pulled her fingers back, kissing him slowly, enjoying the coolness of his mouth meeting the warmth of hers. He jerked as he felt her lightly tease the ice cube down his throat, letting it sit against the hollow of his throat, feeling the cube melt against his skin and dampen his shirt. The thrumming base from below vibrated in tandem with his pulse, making him shudder briefly.
Her mouth moved down his jawline despite his need to keep kissing her, her fingers deftly lifting his chin back to gain better access to his throat. She moaned softly and nipped gently against the hollow of his throat with her teeth, making his fingers sweep up her thighs and flex against her hips, his cock rearing gently against her mound with the actions. A wild cheer went up through the crowd, balloons raining from the ceiling in the ballroom below, as another fast-paced song spilled out over the speakers.
"Gods, Sarah. Love, you're going to make me spill…" He hoarsely whispered, swallowing thickly as she reached down between them and began unfastening his belt and the zipper to his pants. His body thrummed happily as she tugged his stiff length loose from his clothes and gently pumped him between her fingers.
"Not yet," She whispered, tipping her head back to kiss him, pulling herself forward, her fingers still wrapped around him as she teased her hips against the hard length of him in her hands. "You'll hold on for me, won't you? Now don't move, I don't want you to miss out on the fun."
He laughed weakly but did his best to nod, shuddering as he felt the dampness of her panties against the tip of his cock, her soft grip making him throb painfully with the need to come. "I'll do my best, love. But no promises."
She grinned against his mouth as one hand gently stroked him, enough of a grip to her movements to make his dick demand more but not enough to near anything he'd consider completion. She tightened her knees and untied the fastenings of her underwear with the other hand, laying them against his shoulder when they were completely loose. He groaned, bucking against her, looking heatedly into her eyes before his eyes drifted down, staring where she'd kept the front of her skirt hitched up, seeing both of them so close to penetration but not quite close enough to complete the act. He swallowed, wanting desperately for her to raise her hips and nudge his cock down just enough to watch her sink down onto him. He stared as she pressed herself against him and began to stroke him once more, watching the way her hands idly pumped him against the wet folds of her sex. Goddamn, this woman is going to kill me. She leaned up, making his breath hitch in his throat, hissing softly as he watched her merely rub his length back and forth against her, teasing him enough to set his nerves on fire but not bringing herself down enough to allow him the satisfaction of feeling her capture him in her heat.
"Fuck, Sarah. You're killing me…" He groaned softly, thanking the gods the music was loud enough to drown out his embarrassingly loud initial cry as she coated the tip of him in her eagerness. He trembled, gripping the back of her knees tightly, fighting the urge to grab ahold of her hips and shove her down onto his cock. Fuck, woman. I need to be inside you!
"Not yet, no…" She grinned faintly against his mouth, pulling back to slide down between his knees, swallowing him with one smooth motion of her mouth. He did buck upwards then, the slippery warmth of her mouth too much for him to handle, barking out a faint cry of surprise, grasping the loose ends of her hair to move them out of the way as her tongue teased him while she moved, feeling a perverse need to watch her take him.
His hips tensed as his eyes watched her mouth envelope him, taking him over and over smoothly and without issue. He nervously shifted, drawing closer as she bobbed her head between his knees, sucking and swallowing almost every inch of him. He tensed, panting, tugging on her shoulders as he felt his peak coming hard and fast, almost unable to stop her in time, his dick throbbing, swelling with that familiar rush that preceded his orgasm. She seemed to sense his desperation and stopped, knowing how much he enjoyed spilling inside her. His head leaned back and his eyes closed tightly as she crawled back up into his lap, his cock painfully sitting on the edge, rearing up proudly between the two of them.
He opened his mouth to warn her how close he was but she had already straddled him and thrust herself down onto him and he tumbled over the edge with a sharp groan, making him grip her hips tightly and hold her in place, spasming in long, deep spurts inside her the second she was seated firmly on him. He felt her gently comb her fingers through his hair as he tried to regain his senses but this time, skating so long along the edge of release, it took him several minutes to recover, simply holding her in place while he convulsed beneath her.
Sarah smiled smugly atop Jareth, feeling him tremble violently and lose himself inside her. She softened against his harsh grip, feeling his breath whistle softly through his clenched teeth as he moaned brokenly, periodically calling out her name while his cock spasmed deliciously inside her, his head canted back and face a myriad of rapture and utter release. That's what it's like for me, too.
She couldn't help but stare, loving the expressions and noises he made when he came, feeling him throb inside her.
Finally, he seemed to sag underneath her, blinking slowly as he tipped his head forward, resting it against her shoulder. His fingers began to make small circles against the bones of her hips and she smiled, kissing his cheek.
"Liked that, did you?" She whispered, grinning against the faint huff of laughter muffled against her shoulder.
"This time, you almost killed me, I was sure of it for a few seconds there." He purred, tipping his head to the side. "When I have the energy, I'll make it up to you, love. I swear it."
She'd noticed over dinner he'd begun to use the term 'love' and every time she heard it, her heart gave a little tug inside her ribs. She grinned faintly and smoothed her hands over his shoulders. "That was my treat to you."
He tipped her head back as another fast beat came over the speakers, kissing her slowly and winding his hands through her hair, cradling her head like it was the most fragile thing. Her heart tugged again in that tell-tale beneath her breast and she smiled against his mouth, feeling herself grow more and more comfortable to be herself around him – and show him her playful side, which he'd clearly enjoyed.
"Is it terribly rude of me to say I'm hungry again?" He mused after they eventually broke their kiss, their foreheads pressed together. She stilled. "For food," he clarified with a grin. "I'm fae, not a god. Even I need a break after something like that."
She laughed faintly and began to stand. "Then let's go eat."
[Café du Monde, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans]
"How many calories are in these?" She muttered as she stuffed another bite of fried bread drenched in heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar into her mouth, washing it away with a swallow of sweetened chicory coffee, sighing both out of contentment and an annoying urge to find the gym at her hotel when they returned to the Sonesta. They hadn't found Niall and Caitlin when they left their private booth but didn't expect to. The sparks those two were giving off told them both they'd quickly outgrew the public party and had taken things back to his place for a more private type of entertainment.
"Shhh," he hushed her, leaning forward to lick his thumb and drag it across her upper lip with a smile. He slipped the digit back into his mouth once he removed the coating of powered snow from Sarah's mouth. "You're beautiful. A few sweets won't change that."
She smiled slowly, watching him devour three full orders with a weird fascination. "You really like your sweets, I see. Where does it go?" She gestured over his form and almost rolled her eyes as he ate two beignets in one swallow. "That's sick."
He wiped his mouth with a napkin and winked at her, bringing his own coffee cup to his mouth. "What? It's delicious. As to where it goes…why…to pleasing the lady, of course."
She slapped a hand across her face with an embarrassed groan, hearing his small chuckle. "I'm fae, comes with the territory."
She peaked at him from between her fingers and watched him finish off her own order with a shake of her head. "That's just not fair, I tell you. And don't say it - I know it sounds familiar. But really, it's not. I so much as look at food like this and I gain ten pounds."
"From where I'm siting, that doesn't sound like a bad thing…" He murmured suggestively, leaning forward to peer lewdly down the front of her dress. She laughed and playfully slapped at him.
Once they left their tip, they stood and moved to cross the street. A tour vendor called out to them, motioning to his empty carriage. "Care for a stroll through the quarter? I've just the streets to take two love birds such as yourselves! Come on, I'll only charge half!"
Jareth looked over at Sarah who had leaned against his side, raising an eyebrow in her direction. She shrugged with a grin. "Why not?"
He smiled and pulled her towards the carriage. "The lady says yes." He paid the man and together they piled into the back of the carriage, Sarah snuggling against Jareth's side as the man nudged the mule forward and began to tell them about the quarter and its history.
"Jareth?" Sarah looked over towards him from where she'd been looking across Jackson Square. He canted his head towards her with a small smile.
"Yes, love?" He murmured, smoothing her hair away from her forehead.
"In case I forget, I had a really good night tonight. I really like this…thing…going on between us." She whispered, closing her eyes and yawning softly, suddenly fatigued.
She felt him still, his arm wrapping around her. "Me too, love…" He whispered softly against her forehead. "Me too."
Sarah smiled and fell asleep to the lull of the carriage ride and the clopping sound of hooves hitting pavement.
Chapter 10: A Brief Interlude
This section is just pure smut for the supporting characters and a way for me to honor that request while not detracting from the J+S plot. For those who wanted it, enjoy. The regularly scheduled plot will pick up in the next chapter. Dedicated to A and R. Hope Niall lived up to your expectations. ;)
TL;DR: Cait+Niall fuckery below. Don't want to see it? Skip this chapter.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
The first thing Caitlin felt against her back was the rough slam of the wall as they transported into the hallway outside of Niall's master suite. She mewled faintly at the crisp moment of dizziness that followed the transport, closing her eyes as she struggled to catch her breath, Niall lowering his abusive exploration of her mouth to her throat, his tongue trailing along her jawline until his teeth found that sensitive spot he'd nipped earlier, biting down again and sending an echoing spasm along Caitlin's body, the sensation making warmth pool between her legs and her nipples tighten in excitement.
She tried to reach for him to grasp his shoulders and pull him closer but he mistook it as a sign she wanted to shove him away. He yanked her arms away from him, his grip on her wrists tight enough that she couldn't move as he pinned her arms against the wall and pulled back, his face a mask of lust, eyes glittering with intent. She swallowed, panting faintly as he held her gaze while he thrust a knee between her legs, grinding his thigh against her mound. "Too late now," he rasped and lunged forward once more, aggressively biting down on that sensitive spot on her neck again. Caitlin moaned loudly in response and bucked softly against his leg as her head tilted, giving him better access.
Sweet Baby Jesus, I don't want you to stop! Go faster! As much as she wanted to scream out for him to take her, a part of her was excited at this dominate change in Niall. She liked bringing out the animalistic side of his nature, fighting his instinct to claim her even if her body betrayed her actions. She whimpered but weakly attempted to pull back, shivering in ecstasy at his snarl as he pressed forward and found her mouth again, pillaging past her lips to find her tongue and coax it roughly with his own. Growling softly when he succeeded in doing just that, his hands released her wrists and gripped either side of her face, pinning her to the wall as he ground his hips down against hers.
By then, she gave up all pretense of fighting him, moaning and circling her arms around his neck. "Christ Niall, fuck me already," she whispered as he once more dropped his mouth to slowly lower his attention to the décolletage of her dress, his hands reaching and squeezing both breasts gently, kneading them tightly in his palms.
He let out a soft groan at her words, tearing his mouth away from her breasts to grasp her arms and yank her into his darkened bedroom, shoving her towards the bed.
"Five seconds. Either take the dress off or I'm ripping it off," he savagely whispered, pacing towards her, jerking his own clothes off in the process, the snapping of buttons heard over his words as he neared her.
Caitlin swallowed and peeled out of the dress, lowering her eyes over his form that she was still able to see outlined from the light in the hallway, the thick ridge of his erection evident even in the poor lighting.
It didn't escape his notice she wore no bra, only a thin pair of panties that she quickly wiggled out of. They hadn't even completely slid off her thighs when he was on her, one of his hands crudely thrusting up between her legs to comb through the folds of her sex and plunge inside. She moaned and her knees gave way, sagging against him as his fingers gently pumped her arousal to a fever pitch.
"You're soaked," he breathed harshly against her mouth as she gripped his shoulders, her nipples tightening to aching buds as they rubbed against the warm tense wall of his chest. "Tell me you want me. I want to hear you say it." He pushed her down on the bed, his fingers escalating their movements, making her arch upwards with her knees bent, giving him room to settle between them.
"I want you! I want you, Niall. Oh goddddd, please! I need you inside me! Please! Please, oh goddd – please! Oh!" Caitlin sobbed, her hips rocking faintly against his hand, her channel clenching against the teasing of his fingers – god, she needed him to keep going – and then he was pushing her legs open and pressing the back of her thighs down with his hands, splaying her wide open to him and he canted his hips at just the right angle to thrust inside in one deep penetrating movement, ending her plea with a startled cry as he pounded hard into her with deep-seated strokes.
"Yesssss," he groaned, leaning roughly over her as he took her with force, keeping her open and pinned under him, his gaze lowering to watch the way they meshed together perfectly, gritting his teeth and rolling his head back as her fingers gripped the sheets like a lifeline.
Fuck, oh god, I'm going to come. Her climax was coming quickly and there wasn't any stopping it. "Niall, I'm going to –" She started, feeling the tell-tale tightening of her body around the punishing thrusts of his cock, only to seize and scream again in the middle of her warning. Her head fell back as her body jerked roughly underneath his, her mouth opening wide as her head fell back and she spasmed, the orgasm all-consuming and blotting out all other sensations but the exquisite rioting of her body's peak.
"Fuck! Cait - Gods!" She felt the brief hitch in his pace as he hissed her name before shouting out a satisfying cry of his own, his hips slowing into a series of pronounced thrusts as she felt him spurt inside her, heat and warmth accompanying the languished jerks of his cock.
He fell atop her then, crushing his slick body against hers, his skin warm and slightly salty-scented from the exertions of their coupling. She loved the sensation, holding onto him with her arms when he tried to move, keeping his heaviness on top of her.
Briefly, he tipped her head towards his and found her mouth with his, kissing her in slow deliberate movements for several seconds.
Eventually, she moaned softly, feeling him stiffen inside her, and he moved slowly within her for several minutes, the action almost too easy with the traces of their earlier climaxes. Together, within seconds of one another, they mutually peaked again, this time in a slow plunging poignancy. He shuddered and spilled inside her as she milked him in a gentle, pulsing climax that echoed his own ecstasy.
This time, he eased himself off her, gently pulling from her body. She stretched against him as he pulled her against his body and settled into a sated sleepiness as he murmured something under his breath that left them clean and comfortable.
"Sleep," he murmured against her temple. "We'll talk in the morning."
She nodded and snuggled closer against him, her head resting against his chest. His arms settled around her and they both fell asleep, drifting easily off into a dreamless satisfied slumber.
Chapter 11: All Things That Go Up Must Come Down
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Jareth roused from sleep in a slow stretch, feeling Sarah's head shift against his chest, her arms tangled around his waist. He smiled slowly, looking down, pleased to see her naked form against his own, a fierce satisfaction filling the space between his ribs. Last night was the first night they'd simply slept together, exhausted and still satisfied from the previous day's antics, and it had been his favorite evening with her so far. As much as he loved bringing her to climax, there was something to be said about just sleeping beside her with her limbs mingled between his own. You belong here, with me.
He kissed the top of her head as she leaned back, stretching with a small yawn, having also woken when he shifted. She smiled up at him in turn, briefly tilting her head back, her eyes still closed, so he could press his lips to hers. "Good morning," she greeted with a small whisper, opening her eyes and looking over him with a small sheepish smile. "Sorry I fell asleep on you last night during the carriage ride. I see you got us back safely."
He chuckled faintly, cupping her chin up so he could continue their kisses, murmuring to her between them. "Yes. Can't imagine why you were worn out…"
She laughed softly against his lips, making him grin as he nibbled at her jaw softly as she turned and snuggled closer against his side, tightening her arms around his waist. "Right? So horribly rude of me. I'll put my finger on it soon, but it does seem to be escaping me…"
"You were magnificent last night, love. I've never come so hard in my whole life," he huskily whispered against her lips, dragging her mouth to his to again as he kissed her. "My cock is still recovering from that little display."
She sighed softly, a sexy little whisper of a noise, as he smoothed his hand down her stomach, gently teasing her sex with his fingers. He couldn't help it, he wanted to bring her some sort of peak to let her know he could do the same, feeling her shiver against his side. Just let me hear and feel you. I want to watch you as you did with me last night.
She moaned softly, her eyes fluttering closed as her legs fell apart and he looked down, teasing her more and more with each passing second, watching her body respond. She canted her head back against his shoulder, lips parting as she whispered his name when he stroked her folds, just lightly skirting his fingers against her. He shuddered and pulled her tongue into his mouth, muffling her cries, tilting his head forward to cup her chin and gently thrust his fingers inside her once she was properly ready. He groaned softly, feeling her slick warmth accept him easily, and he did everything in his power to draw out her climax in slow teasing strokes of his fingertips.
Watching, he stared, enthralled, as her breathing slowly climbed to a soft pant as his hand moved slightly faster when she urged him on with a whisper, her nipples tightening and her hips angling up, brow creasing in concentration as she moaned. He noticed the way her body clamped down on his fingers just before she reached her pinnacle and the low mewling sound she made before he eased her into a slow climax. He swallowed thickly in an echoing satisfaction as he felt her clench in soft spasms against his fingers after several minutes of gentle pumps and soft squeezes of her clit between his thumb and the palm of his hand, her cries soft and pleading. His cock throbbed at the broken noises she made as she rode out her climax but he ignored it, continuing to offer anything she needed – a specific touch, a slow gentle thrust of his hand, a tease against her clit – until finally she sagged and asked him to stop, she was spent. She is perfect. Look at her, just look at her….
"That sound…so beautiful…" He whispered as she panted, falling back against his body, her face flushed in the aftermath of her climax, trying to regain her senses. She blushed and opened her eyes, watching him look over her form with admiration. His eyes lifted to meet hers and he smiled slowly as he pulled his hand from her and sucked on his fingers, making her own eyes widen in shock and her head turn away shyly, a small smile tugging at her lips even as she blushed. He laughed and pulled her back, drawing her up against him and nibbling at her neck. She felt his arousal and started to reach down but he stopped her, gently tugging her wrists away before she touched him.
"Later, love. This was just about you," He kissed her hands, bringing them up to his lips, when she was going to protest. She smiled slowly and snuggled closer, once more slowly dozing and he held her, stroking her head and watching her fall back to sleep.
How you turn my world, you precious, precious thing. I love you.
Roughly an hour later, once they were more awake, she leaned up and reached over him to grab her cell phone. She read the time and looked back at him. "Want to go shopping? The stores should be open now." She showed him the time and he nodded, smoothing her hair back from her face.
"Sure, love. I know a few places you might like to visit. What did you have in mind for Toby and your step-mother?"
Sarah shrugged, thinking. "Something unique. Cait said there's some perfume shops and a toy store here. Maybe a gag gift or two, I'm not sure. I haven't even figured what to get my dad. What about you? No goblin gifts for good behavior?"
He groaned, rolling his eyes and wiping at his face as he leaned back against the pillows. "Gods forbid if they ever had straight sugar, I'd never get them under control again."
Sarah laughed faintly at the look of horror on his face. "Just a suggestion," she teased, amused as he recoiled at the idea. He shuddered and shook his head and she grinned, kissing his cheek and dialing Caitlin's cell phone, putting them on speaker as she curled against Jareth's side. It rang for a few seconds and suddenly picked up and Sarah tipped the phone towards her mouth. "Hey, Cait. It's Sarah. Did you guys want to go shopping again with me and Jar…"
Her voice trailed off and her eyes went wide as Caitlin tried to answer back but it ended up a moan halfway through her response and male cursing was heard in the speaker, followed by a soft click. She threw the offending item across the room and Jareth tossed his head back and laughed.
It was another half hour before they finally made it out of the bed. They took their time dressing after taking a slow shower together, simply washing one another and sharing slow kisses, both of them still recovering from the previous day's wild couplings.
Sarah dressed in shorts and a soft lavender top, tying her hair up in a loose bun while Jareth waved a hand, dressing himself in a pair of tight black jeans and top with matching leather vest. She grinned at seeing his darker blonde spiked hair again and he tugged her to him when she tried reaching forwards to ruffle the tips, kissing her for several moments before taking her hand in his and heading out into the streets of the quarter.
After they both had grabbed a cup of coffee from the hotel's breakfast bar, they wandered the streets leisurely, appearing for all intents and purposes just another normal couple doing some simple tourist shopping. Jareth enjoyed the walk with Sarah, her fingers linked with his, making his head swim and his heart pound in his chest with how satisfying it felt just being with her. His earlier revelation kept reappearing in his head during several small stops in the stores lining the streets. As he watched her inspect shelves of toys for Toby or try on a ridiculous sun hat for her step mother, he almost interrupted the moment several times to tell her he loved her. He had to physically restrain himself from muttering the term, biting on his lower lip, when she'd smile over at him and her eyes softened. Not yet, not yet. Time's time for that later. Don't ruin the moment.
Inside Hové, a perfume shop located across from the impressive courthouse in the Quarter, once more he found Sarah frowning in concentration as she studied the scent listing curiously. Jareth leaned against the counter, amused as she tried different ones and made comical little faces. He quickly learned she leaned more towards the musky scents of cologne rather than the cloyingly sweet scents of perfume. "Don't like these?" He asked curiously, gesturing to the discarded pile of tester scent sticks with a small smile.
She looked back over at him and blushed, shaking her head. "No really, no. Is that odd, not liking most women's perfume?"
"Not at all, love. Frankly, I'm not a fan, either. I'm just surprised is all. You prefer lotions in a sweeter scent."
Sarah looked up from where she'd been testing more scents, her eyebrows rising in surprise. "You noticed that, huh?"
Jareth shrugged and smiled. I notice everything about you.
She smiled and nodded slowly as she looked back over the scents. "They're less intense and don't last as long. I tend to stick to flowers or herbs for sweet smells but I have a very picky sense of smell. Some of them are just too sweet for me. If you're ever buying me something, please for the love of god avoid gardenia. My mother and step mother loved that stuff the whole time I was growing up and it makes me nauseous just thinking about it."
Jareth laughed faintly, trying to envision the scent she spoke of. Shaking his head, he grinned. "Don't think I've had the pleasure, but duly noted."
"Here," Sarah said, dampening a tester scent stick with one of the host of bottles in front of her. "They sell it here. The damn stuff should be illegal, but apparently their generation still buy the stuff in the truckloads. Prepare your nostrils, though."
Jareth made a show of standing up and tensing before he leaned over and smelled the stick she brought close to his nose. Sarah grinned faintly and shook her head. "Ok, bud, tease me all you want but…well, you'll see what I mean in about two seconds."
He inhaled – and promptly started sneezing, shrinking back in horror. "Good gods, my teeth hurt."
Sarah laughed and set it aside. "Told you. That stuff is like napalm."
"I swear I will never buy you that awful scent." He inhaled sharply a few times then tentatively took a few sniffs through his nose. He sagged, relieved the scent had dissipated. "And I will believe you from now on." He watched as she pointed to a few items and placed her order with the clerk. "Which ones did you pick?"
"These…" She pointed and bit back a grin when he gave her a dubious look. She laughed faintly. "You'll like them. That one's for you." She pointed to one in particular and he stilled, swallowing as his heart clenched.
"You bought me cologne?" Sarah nodded nervously and blushed, urging him to smell it.
"Make sure you like it before I pay for it. But it…reminds me of you and the Labyrinth. I hope you approve." She turned then and began to look around the store with a little more enthusiasm than was warranted, suddenly shy.
He looked down and took the scent test strip and inhaled. He froze as the scent hit him and found her tentatively peering back over her shoulder at him with a curious expression. He nodded and she looked relieved before grabbing a few scented powders and walking up to the register to pay for her items. He looked back down at the tester and read the label – Spanish Moss.
It smelled like a combination of a clean shave, spices, and sandal wood. He wore something very similar back in the Underground and smiled again, setting aside the scent stick then moving up to where Sarah was about to hand the woman her credit card and instead grabbed her wrist and handed the woman enough cash to cover the bill. Sarah opened her mouth to object and he shook his head, kissing her wrist.
The woman took Jareth's money and smiled between the two of them. "So how long have you two been together?"
"Oh, we're not…"
"About a week," Jareth replied for her, staring at her with a smile. Sarah swallowed and turned a deeper shade of pink as the woman handed them their purchases, neatly tucked in a brown sac, and together they walked out of the shop.
It didn't escape his notice that Sarah didn't correct his slip and once more he found himself hoping.
[Brennan's Restaurant, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Another hour later, they'd accumulated a small arsenal of purchases for Sarah's family. For Toby, they'd found a weapons depot that produced non-lethal replicas of old French and Spanish swords. For Karen, they'd found a demure sun hat in a pretty shade of brown with a spattering of white flowers at the brim. For Linda, they'd found a silk shawl in a myriad of bright colors that would pair well with any evening dress she chose to wear to the events she hosted in New York. For Robert, they'd found a handmade shaving kit. To his surprise, she'd even purchased some items for her Underground friends – For Hoggle, a pair of sturdy gloves made of cork, for Didymus a reproduction of a coat of arms similar to those he already wore, for Ludo a huge tin of sweets. She even managed to convince him to buy something for the goblins, talking him into purchasing some of their spicy trail mixes – which was thankfully low on sugar content. Hell, they'd even bought something for the chickens at Sarah's insistence.
The pile of purchases rested in the chairs across from them as they sat together in the corner of the restaurant, eating a late lunch in relative privacy from the rest of the crowd. Sarah had paused halfway through her plate of French toast, studying Jareth and sipping on her glass of wine.
"Something on your mind, love?" He asked between bites, glancing over at her.
She simply smiled and shook her head after a few moments, still staring. When he went to ask her again if everything was alright, feeling unnerved after several more minutes of her staring, she asked a question.
"How are Ludo, Sir Didymus and Hoggle? I haven't spoken to them in about a month and they never bring you up, but they did say they were relocated to the castle recently?"
He chuckled, thinking back to the unlikely trio that had become thick as thieves with Sarah over the past decade. "Yes, they were. It's closer to a project I have them working on. I've had them assisting in rebuilding the northern border, where we had a rock slide several years back. It keeps them busy and out of trouble and having them so close to the goblins help."
Sarah raised her eyebrows and motioned for him to continue. He grinned faintly, looking back at her. "They earned a reputation as a sort of warriors three and the goblins respect them for it. So usually, when the courts demand my attention, they keep things in order for me at the castle."
Sarah blinked and grinned faintly, shaking her head slowly. "Wow, talk about a change. You, friends with those guys? Hard to see, really."
"I never said we were friends," he chuckled, giving her a deadpan look. "They still think I am…what's the term Hoggle uses?"
As Jareth searched for it, Sarah supplied it with a small giggle. "A rat bastard." He scowled and stabbed a potatoe on his plate and brought it to his mouth, chewing with a grunt of annoyance.
She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "I don't think you're a rat bastard," she murmured sympathetically, patting his shoulder. He swallowed the potatoe quickly, as it had gone thick and hard to chew in his throat, studying her with a slow smile. When she looks at me like that…
"Well, I do deserve it sometimes," he replied, a little hoarsely, reaching for a sip of water to clear the emotion from his voice and pass it off as a dry throat. "I'm not the most friendly myself to them. It…bothered me they were so close to you when I wasn't. Hoggle in particular liked to rub my nose in that and he knew I couldn't do anything about it, despite being his sovereign. Sometimes I wanted to strangle that little punk. Still do, actually."
Sarah grew quiet as he talked, her eyes softening as she smiled faintly, looking back at her plate and picking at the food, taking a few small bites of her own lunch before speaking what she was thinking. Jareth was still feeling raw from his admission so the silence didn't bother him.
"I'm sorry, I should have called. I didn't think you'd want to see me after…you know…"
After you ripped my heart out of my chest – he knew what she was afraid to say and he reached over, covering her hand in his, wanting to soothe her. She looked back at him and he saw the shadows in her eyes, worried about what he'd say next.
He smiled slowly, realizing after a few seconds it didn't hurt quite as much as it used to – Huh, funny that. He found himself realizing he wasn't mad at her – a little tender still, yes, but she was young and didn't understand his offer at the time. Besides, he liked what age and experience had done to Sarah. "It's alright, Sarah. It's in the past."
She nodded and sipped at her drink and turned back to eating. He eased his hand away from hers but found her reaching across to keep ahold of his hand. When he looked back at her, she smiled.
I still love you. I still mean those words. I still want you.
"What's your favorite color?" He blurted out, forcing his mind to change the subject. She blinked, then laughed softly.
"Green," she replied, tilting her head. "What's yours? Other than the obvious black." She grinned when he looked surprised that she knew. "You're always gravitating towards it. Don't worry, I like it. It suits you."
"Midnight blue," he said after several moments, glancing back at her. She looked surprised. "I have a…" He started and she nodded.
"The cape…I remember…"
"So…you council children?" He replied weakly, feeling his heart clench that she remembered one of his favorite capes. Why am I not asking her to marry me again, exactly?
"Yes." She smiled softly and began to tell her of the kids she helped in New York. As she spoke about the homeless youth she helped locate homes and steady jobs for, helped them escape abuse and heartache at home and find their own confidence and voice against a world that had all but forgotten about them or tried to trample them underfoot, he stopped her by tilting her head and leaning forward, kissing her deeply. She was perfect, his Sarah. She blinked, pulling back after a moment.
"What was that for?" She asked softly, smiling as he looked at her – really looked at her – and he began to open his mouth and tell her what he'd been thinking of saying all morning when her phone rang.
Inwardly cursing, he pulled back and allowed her to scramble for her cell phone and quickly answer it. Whomever is on the other end, thanks for ruining the most important moment of my life, you asshole.
"Niall? Hey! We tried calling earlier…" She blushed as she closed her eyes and winced. "Yeah, I figured we were interrupting something….oh? No, we had a bad connection, couldn't make much out but when you didn't call back, we figured you two were busy…oh? Where?"
He laughed faintly under his breath, finding irony in the fact his best friend who'd been lamenting about him spilling his feelings was the very person that stopped that from happening just now. Still, he grinned at the smooth way Sarah lied about overhearing them that morning, sipping casually on his coffee as she chatted with Niall for a few minutes before the phone must have been passed to Caitlin from the change in Sarah's tone. Her eyes widened and she pinkened, looking back over at Jareth a moment before she leaned forward and kissed his cheek, asking if she could step away a few minutes.
Must be one of those 'girl chats' her friend was going on about the other day.
"Go ahead, love. I'll just settle the bill."
She leaned forward and kissed his cheek before sneaking off to the bathroom, phone pressed to her ear. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, deciding to allow his confession to wait. Raising a hand, he grabbed the attention of their waiter and asked for the bill.
Sarah looked over her shoulder, noticing Jareth and no one else had followed her into the bathroom. She turned back towards the sink and pressed the phone to her ear. "Ok, I'm alone. Spill."
"JESUS H CHRIST ON A POGO STICK, WOMAN! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME SEX WITH A FAE WAS THE MOST MIND-BLOWING THING THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN?" Caitlin all but bellowed out at her, making Sarah have to pull the phone back from her ear.
"Jesus, Cait. I'm pretty sure Niall heard you on that one even if he was half a block away." Sarah laughed, shaking her head. "Erm, well, I wasn't sure you two were going to…you know…"
Caitlin started to truly curse out her entire existence then and Sarah did her best to calm her tirade. "Hey! What?! Can't get mad at me…what? NO, I DIDN'T FUCK JARETH WHEN I WAS IN THE LABYRINTH, GOOD GOD! What? Why? Are you kidding me? I was fifteen! Well, not all of us are sure they want to do something like that at fifteen, you hussy. Yeah, yeah, I know, stop suppressing your enjoyment of sex. Noooo, I'm not judging. What? Had I known would I…? Um, no comment. No, you are not about to call me a hypocrite. Now, listen – Cait…Cait…CAIT!"
Caitlin was truly worked up and Sarah laughed, holding the phone away from her as she ranted for what seemed a solid five minutes straight. Eventually, she heard Caitlin reach the end of her tirade and brought the phone back to her ear when her friend had gone uncharacteristically quiet.
"Sarah, I really like this guy," Caitlin finally whispered, her voice a little nervous – something she'd never heard from Caitlin in all the time she'd known her. "What do I do? He's a goddamn prince, Sarah. How am I supposed to compete with that?"
Sarah stilled, thinking back on her time with Jareth, knowing she felt the same intimidation when she thought of asking if Jareth wanted to continue their relationship past the fun fling they'd had in the quarter – which was ending in two days. She swallowed nervously, panic shivering along her nerves as her own voice got serious.
"Honestly, I don't know. I'm still working on that one myself. Drinks soon? How's two hours from now for you?" She looked at her cell, noting the time. "Think you can be ready then?"
Caitlin sighed softly. "No can do, el Capitan. Rain check. Niall has someone he wants us to meet before the parade. Can you and Jareth meet us here in about 30 minutes?"
Sarah frowned faintly. "Sure, we just need to drop off my stuff by the hotel first, we went shopping. Who's the friend?"
"No clue, someone he said you'd know. They did the masks? That mean anything to you?"
Sarah stilled, her eyes going wide. "Oh."
"Now, see, you've held out on me again! Bitch, I'm going to cut you when I see you again! How could you?! SPILL!"
Sarah winced, shaking her head. "This isn't my thing to spill, it's Niall's. And even then, it's not a big deal. Really, Cait. Don't push it. I don't want to make the woman nervous." She peered over her shoulder, at the door. "Listen, I've got to go. We'll see you soon."
Caitlin sighed but let the issue go. "See you soon, hooker."
Sarah laughed and hung up the phone, opening the door to see Jareth standing in the hallway by the bathrooms, bags in hand. She stilled, her eyes going wide. She could tell he was biting back a grin. "How much of that did you hear?"
"Enough. No comment, huh?"
Sarah felt her face flame and he laughed.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah explained to Jareth that she knew about the masks and the witch who'd spelled them as they teleported back to the hotel room in order to save time. He stilled, slowly setting down each package, suddenly very quiet. When he turned and looked back at her, his face was a mask.
She was able to perceive his moments of vulnerability so she didn't wince at the immediate discomfort the look gave her. She simply stepped forward and cupped his chin, waiting for his eyes to meet hers. When they did, she had to force herself not to respond to the flat chips they'd transformed into. Oh, Jareth. I don't blame you. You don't have to hide from me.
"Hey, it's alright. I know you had nothing to do with it. Niall explained it all to me when you were picking out wine with Cait." She stroked his jawline and felt the tension slowly ease his frame as the coldness slowly left his eyes. He tentatively looked back at her after briefly glancing away and her heart wrenched at the open vulnerability there.
"I wouldn't have done that to you, Sarah. I've learned firsthand what happens when I force you to do things you don't want. You…believe I had nothing to do with it?" He murmured after several minutes of silence, finally seeming to find his voice.
She smiled softly. Of course not, I love you. "Of course not, Jareth." Just tell him. Say it!
He turned then and she swallowed her response as he glanced back at the hotel alarm clock. He smiled mischievously back at her and leaned forward, gripping either side of her face as he kissed her slowly for several minutes. "We have a few minutes before we need to leave…" He suggested huskily against her mouth and suddenly she found herself clenching her thighs together, immediately turned on. Christ, he knows just what to say, doesn't he?
"Are you suggesting we have a quickie?" She grinned against his mouth as his hands reached down and unbuttoned her shorts, sliding them and her panties off quickly.
"That's exactly what I'm suggesting…" He groaned softly, suddenly gripping her hips eagerly, his kisses turning sharp and demanding as she groped for his pants and quickly freed him, pumping him softly between her fingers. He eagerly flared to life at her touches and ground against her palm. She whimpered as a sluice of warmth pooled between her legs, wanting him inside her now. He groaned again and immediately jerked forward, grasping her hips and easily picking her up, placing her against the edge of the office desk, canting her hips gently as he opened her knees, reaching down to fit himself against her folds in just the right spot and thrust forward, seating himself inside her.
"Gods, woman, you're already so wet," he groaned, his tone guttural and barely sounding human as she leaned back, gasping, while he stared at where they were joined and rolled his hips forward in quick pronounced thrusts, keeping her knees open with the palms of his hands. "Touch yourself, I want to watch you touch yourself…"
She did as he asked while he tugged her shirt up and freed her breasts, leaning forward and nipping on each with his teeth. She moaned, her own fingers teasing herself in tandem with his thrusts and soon she found herself close. "Jareth, I'm going to…"
"Pull it out of me, Sarah. I want you to squeeze me so - ah fuck! -Yesss, just like that…"
The combination of his dirty talk and his thrusts sent her plummeting over the edge. She screamed as she arched under him on the desk and he suddenly pounded hard into her as she spasmed around him, milking his body just like he asked, before groaning and sinking into her and stilling, feeling his cock twitch as the warmth of his release filled her. "Fuck, Sarah. That…" He groaned long and low and shuddered as he finally finished. "That…was…"
She smiled even while she sagged underneath him, still buzzing from her the remnants of her own orgasm. He pressed his forehead against her stomach, his hair tickling her breasts, but eventually he pulled out of her and murmured something, cleaning up the aftermath of that mind shattering session with a spell.
They both looked back at the clock and froze. They were officially late. Glancing back at each other, they laughed together and hurriedly dressed, not caring in the least.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
They transported right into the center of Niall's entryway like before and this time the dizziness didn't hit Sarah as fiercely. She still held onto Jareth for the few seconds it took her to get her bearings but she smiled as she regained her senses quicker than before.
He noticed the improvement in her stance this time and smiled, threading his fingers with hers as they stepped into the living room, glancing around slowly. There, across the room, stood Caitlin and Niall with an elderly woman of African-Creole descent sitting on the couch between them.
She stood from her sitting position, Niall hurriedly coming to her aide as she struggled on wobbly limbs. Caitlin stood aside, nervously looking back and smiling in relief as she spotted Sarah and Jareth. Together, they came into the room and Sarah studied the woman curiously. She was still beautiful, her skin still fairly unmarred despite her advanced age. She smiled, her hair braided in long silver ropes down her back, dressed in a loose silver tunic and black leggings, reaching out for Sarah's hand as she neared the woman.
"Hello," Sarah started, pausing as she felt a tingle against her skin when their hands connected. The woman leaned forward, peering deeply in her eyes, making Sarah nervous as she returned the stare. After several minutes, she smiled and gently tugged her towards the couch.
"Hello, Sarah. I've heard a lot about you from Niall. Call me Bembe. Come, sit with me for a spell." She settled again, Niall there to help guide her back to the couch, and Sarah looked back at Jareth curiously but she did as instructed and sat down beside the woman. The woman hadn't let go of her hand.
Jareth studied the woman with an intense searching gaze but without the coldness she'd seen earlier. Niall briefly touched his shoulder and Caitlin's and asked them to join him in the kitchen. Clearly, Jareth didn't like the dismissal by the way his lips thinned but he moved with the others into the kitchen without objection. She gave Jareth a tentative smile and relaxed with he returned it, disappearing into the other room.
"Forgive my intrusion on your day with Jareth, dear. Niall wanted us to speak, to ease your concerns about the magic I weaved into the masks that led to your reunion. I assure you, I only hid any queues you'd realize who the other was and it only lasted while the masks were on. I have to say, though, you are a curious creature, Miss Williams." Bembe spoke, dragging Sarah's attention back towards her. She turned Sarah's hand in her grip, opening her fingers wide so she could look down at her palm after studying Sarah carefully for several moments, an amused smile on her face.
"How so?" She frowned, still feeling that odd tingling sensation as the woman held her hand. She jerked in surprise when Bembe trailed a finger down the center of her palm as the tingling briefly intensified then returned back to that odd tickle just beneath her skin once the woman removed her finger. Bembe seemed to nod to herself and leaned forward, inspecting her palm as she brushed past Sarah's question and answering another.
"I see the masks worked according to plan. You're in love with your fae king. Have been for some while, I suppose. At least you're willing to accept it now."
Sarah blinked, her eyes going wide, but she didn't deny the truth of the woman's statement. The woman smiled, closing her fingers and releasing her grip from Sarah's hand. Instantly, the tingling sensation ceased.
"What was that?" She asked, gripping her hand with her other one, rolling her wrist between her fingers.
"You felt that?" The woman asked, surprise in her features. Sarah nodded. Bembe leaned forward, staring into her eyes, chuckling faintly. "I'll be damned, there might be something more to you yet. Besides the magic markings, that is."
"What markings?" Sarah stilled, her eyes wide, her heart beginning to pound in her chest. What the hell is she talking about?
"The Underground magic, of course. You bested the Labyrinth and it's King. The Labyrinth marked you. You've been given a gift, a certain power, though it seems you might have some of your own if you were able to feel my inspection. It's untrained, though. Hard to gage how powerful it could be until it's tested properly."
But what no one knew….
"Was that the king had fallen in love with the girl and given her certain powers," Bembe finished for her, making Sarah jerk her gaze back towards the woman from where it had begun to drift. She swallowed, feeling a sense of vertigo. How did…?
"I've many talents, you'll see." The woman replied again, making Sarah jerk faintly. Bembe grinned and patted her arm. "Relax, your thoughts are safe. I do my best to mind my own business but couldn't resist a little peak with you. You're a very special young woman, Sarah Williams. You have a choice to make. You see…" Bembe gestured towards her, opening her hand and asking for Sarah to place her palm back in her grip. Sarah slowly lowered her hand in the woman's grip and leaned forward, watching where the woman showed her the shapes of her hands, explaining.
"This means you're still a dreamer, but you think things through very thoroughly before making a choice. While normally this is an admirable trait, you lose out on opportunities this way. Some things in life have a shelf life, dear. You need to take a leap of faith." She tugged on Sarah's fingers before pointing to her palm. "Your life line is strong, telling me you've little struggles in physical constitution. Your problems lay in your heart line, which is between the mounts of Jupiter and Saturn. Your love is deep but has a long shoreline, one of moderation and careful consideration. Some things do not wait for consideration, you must trust your instinct. You've already learned this lesson once; do you really need to learn it again?"
"Jareth…" Sarah whispered, looking up at Bembe. The woman smiled.
"Yes, Jareth." Sarah glanced down, swallowing, looking back up at Bembe with concern torn across her features.
"I love him so much it hurts," She whispered openly to the woman, finally admitting it out loud to someone. "But I don't know how to tell him. I'm just a human woman, Bembe. He's an immortal king. What could I possibly offer him? You can't understand how this feels, this constant worry that if I say something he'll shut down and leave. It's killing me. What if he doesn't want that?"
Bembe frowned and patted Sarah's hand in reassurance. "Child, you worry too much over endless possibilities that might not even happen. I do know what this feels like…" She replied, making Sarah pause, her eyes going wide.
"Niall and I were not always friends. We were lovers once, a long time ago."
Sarah felt like she could hear a pin drop in the room. "What?" She finally managed, squeaking out her reply, looking over her form. "Did he…?"
"No, I did." Bembe reassured Sarah, smiling faintly. "It was different for us, you see. I am a witch, something that's relatively prohibited in his realm, as we can see through and even have the ability to manipulate fae magic. He is also heir apparent and the fae do not wish to see a mortal woman as queen, no matter my power. He would have sacrificed that and I wouldn't allow it, so I made my choice despite it paining him at the time. Niall has a good heart and the fae need a king with one. So many are so heartless and cruel. You know the tales, I can tell. They're truer than I have the heart to say. Niall will have the power, with the backing of men like Jareth, to change the Underground for the better. I couldn't let him sacrifice that."
Sarah felt the pit of her stomach drop and she squeezed her eyes shut, barely avoiding letting out a low moan of pain. There's no future for us…
"Sarah, look at me." Bembe's gentle words had Sarah opening her eyes, the rims of her lashes rimmed with unshed tears. The woman smiled and leaned forward, cupping her cheek. "But that was my story, dear. Not yours. You don't have such concerns. Jareth is not a noble, his realm has already marked you. He already loves you, whether you believe it yet or not. You love him. There's no reason you two can't be happy. But if you choose to stay here, in this world, it will not be without its merits as well. You just have to decide where your heart wants to take you."
Sarah sagged, letting out a slow rush of air she didn't realize she'd been holding hearing Bembe's words, feeling as if a weight had been lifted from her chest. She opened her mouth to thank the woman when she heard a soft measured step and a brief moan of pain, jerking her gaze back towards the kitchen, seeing Caitlin juggling a tray of tea in her hands as she'd stepped back into the living room to offer them refreshments, a look of torment skirting across her features.
Glancing between the two of them, Bembe meeting the other woman's gaze with a softened expression, Caitlin hurriedly sat the tray down then darted down the hall, towards the guest rooms. Sarah apologized to Bembe and took off after her friend. Oh no, poor Cait. How much of that did she hear?
Jareth was pacing the kitchen and knew he looked like a mad man. He didn't care. What was that woman telling Sarah?
Niall watched him pace with a slim smile of amusement pulling at his lips, his arms crossed against his chest as he leaned against the kitchen's far wall. When Jareth glared at him, he shrugged a shoulder as if to say - 'What?'
"What the fuck is she telling her?" Jareth snarled, coming to stand by Niall and press him back against the wall as he jabbed a finger in the center of his chest, barely containing his anger. "Why'd you have to tell her about the damn masks?"
"Because honesty is the key to every relationship, even friendship. Sarah is my friend and deserved the truth, Jareth. Bembe is just reassuring her. Why? Did something happen this morning I should know about?"
Jareth stilled and shoved away from Niall, beginning his pacing again. "I almost told her I loved her."
Niall flashed him a brilliant smile. "That's wonderful!"
Jareth looked over his shoulder with a scowl. "It was until you called. I didn't tell her."
Niall blinked, his smile instantly fading. "Shit."
Jareth snorted and shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "Gods, I haven't been this nervous since…since Elizabeth. Hell, not even Elizabeth. I love her, Niall. It frightens me with how often I have to fight myself to just take her back by force. She'd hate me and I'm not sure I'd even care."
"Whoa, Jareth…relax. Breathe." Niall stepped forward and placed a hand on Jareth's shoulder. "Sarah loves you. Trust me, it's obvious to everyone but you it seems."
"Niall?" They were interrupted when they heard Bembe ask for him from the other room. Dropping his hand, he moved into the other room in a hurry, Jareth on his heels.
Sarah and Caitlin were no where to be found. Jareth opened his mouth to ask where Sarah as when Bembe cracked Niall across the face with the back of her hand, shocking him. "You took the other one as a lover, didn't you?"
Niall opened his mouth to argue but fell silent when Bembe glared. "You know what you risk! And the woman cares for you. You did not tell her the stipulations around your little affair, did you?"
Niall narrowed his gaze at the older woman and Jareth blinked, his eyebrows raising. Silently, he snuck down the hallway, leaving the two alone to have their battle of words, already able to see the rising of Niall's temper as he growled.
"What did you tell her?"
"Sarah?" Jareth spoke softly, knocking on the door to the guest room across from his own.
Sarah peeked her head out and smiled, looking back for a moment and murmuring something before she slipped out of the room and closed the door. "Hey."
"Hey," he replied, tugging her to him and pressing his forehead against hers, feeling instant relief that the softness in her eyes hadn't left her when she looked at him. Whatever she'd talked about with the witch, it hadn't changed things between them. He shivered at the flood of happiness that swelled within him, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's Cait that's a little torn up." She murmured, tilting her head back to press a soft kiss to his lips, linking her arms around his waist in turn. "Listen, I need to take Cait out for a little while. Let her get some fresh air. Can you teleport us to the Old Absinthe House by the hotel? Just us? She needs to be away from fae problems, no offense." She winced and smiled faintly up at him in apology.
He had overheard enough from Bembe and Niall to suddenly commiserate with the sometimes-brash woman. Nodding, he moved to enter the guest room with Sarah. Caitlin sat on the bed, her back turned, but he could tell she was upset when she didn't turn and immediately greet him with her usual bluntness. She seemed to struggle for a moment, then stood and turned, her face red.
She'd been crying.
Jareth felt his gut twist in sympathy as Sarah explained that Jareth was going to teleport them out of the house and to a bar by the hotel. Caitlin nodded and steadied her shoulders, glaring at Jareth with narrowed eyes.
"I want time alone with Sarah. No fae fuckery, not until the parade. Give me a few hours alone with my best friend so I can scrape together what little dignity I have left so I can make it through the rest of this damn trip. Alright? Can you manage that?"
Jareth nodded slowly. "Yes, I'll keep myself and Niall occupied. We'll see you outside the hotel an hour before the parade. Deal?"
"Deal," Sarah smiled, answering for her and Caitlin, pressing a quick kiss to his lips and linking arms with Caitlin. Jareth smiled and pressed his hand to both their shoulders and the teleportation spell whisked them away just in time.
Behind him, he heard a crashing noise, the door almost wrenching off it's bracing as Niall plowed into the room. He panted, glaring at Jareth with a keen rage he hadn't seen in a long time. "Where the fuck are they?" He hissed, advancing around the room, tossing a few of Caitlin's things around as he tried to unweave Jareth's magics. He turned after a moment, stilling, as he cast an enraged glare in Jareth's direction. "You used Labyrinth magic. I can't unweave the spell to figure out where they are."
"I did," Jareth replied calmly, watching Niall advance on him. His eyes practically glowed.
"Where is she?" He hissed again, his voice almost a growl. "Don't fuck with me on this, Jareth. Where is she? WHERE IS CAITLIN?"
"Away from you," Jareth replied calmly, prepared for when Niall lunged at him.
Sarah and Caitlin landed easily outside the bar, avoiding anyone who might have seen them in the nick of time. Caitlin wasted no time stalking into the bar, slumping into a stool and demanding two shots of Jack. The bar tender nodded and went to fetch her order. Sarah followed her inside and sat down beside her, watching her friend with worry.
"A gin tonic, please.." She told the bar tender when he looked her way. Seeing Caitlin's harsh expression, he just left the bottle with her. Her friend snorted, a harsh laugh pushing past her teeth as she drank down the two shots quickly and moved to pour another.
"Cait…" Sarah started and her friend shoved off her concern with a glare her way.
"Don't, Sarah. I don't want to hear that you get to run off with your fairy prince but I get to fall for the one who just wants a quick lay. Doesn't even bother to tell me about it, or his past with that woman, after…everything we'd talked about this morning…I…hah!" She laughed harshly and shook her head. "I let myself believe it was something more. STUPID!" Caitlin trailed off and then a soft wounded noise escaped her throat as she closed her eyes and winced, tossing her head back as she took another shot. "Heh, and to think I was worried about you."
Sarah blinked at that, stilling. She smiled as the bar tender sat her drink in front of her then moved to service other customers, looking back at Caitlin with a frown. "What do you mean, you were worried about me?"
"Shy, innocent, over-thinking Sarah. Then there's Jareth, waltzing in and sweeping you off your feet. I threatened him and Niall both, said if they did anything to you I'd castrate the two of them, turn their balls into dog chow. But stupid me, didn't think I'd be the one getting the shaft. Karma's a cold-hearted whore, ain't she? I gotta fall for the one who's a prince – not just any prince, the prince of all princes. The one who's…what'd that witch bitch say? 'Going to change the Underground' or some such rubbish. Can't have a future Luke Skywalker slumming it with a mortal."
Sarah swallowed, feeling a rush of tears come to her eyes as she listened to her friend break down. She hadn't seen Caitlin like this, ever. "Hey…" She started, turning her voice to a sharp crack when Caitlin snorted and almost turned, ignoring her. That turned Caitlin's attention back on her and Sarah could see the splintered pain in her eyes. She leaned forward, grasping both of Caitlin's shoulders.
"You are Caitlin fucking McDonald. You eat fairies for breakfast. Niall knows it, I know it, Jareth knows it. Bembe was her own woman and made her own choices and you can make yours. You like Niall, he likes you. You haven't even given him a chance to explain himself. I get the sense that Niall doesn't have his heart in this whole high king thing, anyways. He needs someone with fire and you have that."
"And if he says 'bye bitch, nice knowing you, it was fun while it lasted?' What then?" Caitlin's voice broke as she looked back at Sarah.
Sarah frowned and looked Caitlin steadily in the eye. "Then I'm going to beat him to death."
Caitlin burst out laughing, even if the noise sounded halfway torn between amusement and a sob. Sarah smiled, glad to see some of her friend back despite the situation.
"You always were such a rebel underneath all that shyness. I like this side of you, hooker."
Sarah grinned and clinked her glass against Caitlin's shot glass. "Takes one to know one."
An hour later, Caitlin was completely trashed and Sarah was definitely tipsy although retaining most of her wits about her. Together, they'd finished off the bottle of Jack and Sarah was slowly nursing her second gin tonic while Caitlin just struggled to remain upright in her stool. Checking the time, she asked for her check and paid the bill, helping her friend stagger to her feet where they could make it back to the safety of their hotel rooms.
"So, what did you and Niall talk about this morning? You never told me. What exactly happened last night?" Sarah asked, looping her arms around Caitlin as they moved out of the bar, walking in slow measured steps towards the hotel.
"Well, we fucked like rabbits at first. That dress? Toooootally worked. He couldn't keep his hands off me and damn…it was hot." Caitlin slurred and sighed dreamily and Sarah couldn't help but chuckle, crossing the street with Caitlin hanging off her.
"Then, we…slept a little. Then fucked a little more, too. But this time…he was so tender, Sarah. Told me how he felt weird around most fae. That he wanted to find love. Thought he had once, turned out it wasn't meant to be or some shit. Didn't know it was because he's supposed to be like…Fae Jesus or something, but whatever."
Sarah listened, smiling faintly as a doorman held open the doors to the hotel lobby for them, walking with Caitlin towards the elevators and mashing the proper button to go up.
"We talked, really talked. Told him things I haven't even told you. I really opened up to him, you know. I mean, he's a goddamned fairy who looks like an Adonis with a penis that doesn't quit. What?" She glared as Sarah turned pink from where she kept Caitlin propped up against her. "You know what I'm talking about. No normal man can do the things they can, as often as they can. I've certainly seen very little of you over this trip of ours and I know it wasn't all spent playing chess. You've been fucked seven ways to Sunday by that tasty fae morsel and enjoyed every minute of it."
Sarah laughed, ignoring the flare of heat in her cheeks, and helped Caitlin get on the elevator as soon as the door opened. "Yes, it was amazing. But seriously, why don't you give Niall a chance to explain? Maybe there's more to this?"
Caitlin waved a hand. "I am not being the mortal woman who kept him from turning things around down there. Bembe is right, if the fae are that fucked up they need him. Just wish he didn't trample my heart on his way to becoming the fae messiah or something."
Sarah opened her mouth to reply, frowning, when the elevator doors opened to their level and they stumbled out, seeing Niall kneeling outside Caitlin's door, his head hanging between his hands, a bouquet of flowers in his grip. Jareth leaned against the hallway wall, offering Sarah an apologetic smile. She smiled faintly, letting him know she wasn't mad, when she realized he had a bloodied lip. She blinked an opened her mouth to say something when Caitlin jerked forward and kicked at Niall, nearly falling in the process.
"What the hell are YOU doing here? Came to gloat?" She sneered, her lips trembling as she spat at Niall, who rose with the flowers in his hands. He looked as rough as Jareth and Sarah quickly realized that holding Niall back from seeing Caitlin had literally come to blows. What in the hell?
"Cait, please…let me explain…" Niall started, only to be silenced when Caitlin's hand cracked against his cheek, jerking his head to the side.
"Go fuck yourself," Caitlin spat and jerked her door open, slamming it in his face, leaving the others alone in the hallway.
Niall sagged briefly against the door, his head bowed, but then he tensed and turned, snarling at Jareth and lunging. "This is YOUR fault! You should have let me go to her!"
"She needed her space…" Jareth said slowly, pulling back from the wall with a narrowed-gaze.
"Like Sarah needs hers?" Niall growled, flashing Jareth a sharp-toothed smile. Jareth tensed and both men came at each other. Sarah blinked, stilling. Does that mean what I think it…? Christ, they're literally about to rip each other to pieces. Men are the same, no matter where they come from.
"HEY!" Sarah shouted, ending the near fist fight that almost erupted between the two fae men. Both stilled, their hands fisted in each other's shirts, looking back at her as she shoved herself between the two of them.
"Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves, standing in a hallway acting like a bunch of damned fools." Jareth shoved Niall away and moved towards Sarah but she shook her head, glaring at Jareth.
"You literally punched it out with him rather than talking? Are you freaking kidding me? I thought you had better diplomacy skills than that, Goblin King." Jareth narrowed his eyes at her use of his title instead of his name but she had turned her gaze to Niall, ignoring him. "And you…high king apparent…more like high bitch apparent. You didn't come clean to Caitlin or at least warned her about your past with Bembe before all but inviting her over. She's hurt and needs time. And instead of giving us exactly what we both asked for, you literally end up in a fist fight outside of our rooms. Both of you, out. Now."
The two men blinked and opened their mouths to argue but Sarah cut them off with a sharp slash of her hand in the air. "I mean it. We have a few hours before the parade. You both will stay away from us until an hour before the parade, like we agreed." She glared at Jareth. He looked livid by the way his jaw tensed but said nothing.
"If I so much as see either of you, I'll whisk us back to New York so fast your head will spin. Now get the fuck out of here before I punch both of you idiots in the dick."
Both of the men looked shocked and she went to Caitlin's door, using her key to enter. She turned, giving them a pointed stare, and they scowled, looking at one another and immediately teleporting away.
Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she closed the door and went to check on her friend who had settled on the bed and sobbed softly.
Chapter 12: Mardi Gras!
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Caitlin's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah pressed her back against the hotel door as it closed, swallowing faintly as she remembered the heated look Jareth gave her just as he vanished from sight, feeling irrationally guilty for causing him anger and a what appeared to be a small measure of hurt. Still, she knew she had every right to be annoyed with him, he'd promised to keep Niall away and only ended up allowing the other Fae to see Caitlin at her weakest. Fist fighting? Really, Jareth?
Shaking her head with a sigh, figuring she'd have some ego soothing to do later, she turned and looked over at her friend who had stumbled onto the bed and curled on her side, facing away from the door. She could hear Caitlin sobbing faintly, her hair a riot of wild red curls around her face and her shoulders slightly shaking as she did her best to muffle the sounds. Immediately, the guilt she felt at causing Jareth or Niall any discomfort faded at seeing the state of her friend.
Sarah pushed herself away from the door and wandered over to where Caitlin was sprawled, sitting on the edge of the bed and reaching out, resting a hand on Caitlin's shoulder. She kept her tone soft. "They're gone. Talk to me. How're you doing?"
Caitlin said nothing for several seconds, wiping at her cheeks. Finally, she sighed, her voice sounding slightly hoarse from her runaway emotions and excessive alcohol. "Pissed off, confused, feeling stupid."
Sarah frowned and opened her mouth to say something when Caitlin continued on.
"This whole afternoon has been one big disaster. The worst part? I'm sure Niall thinks I'm overreacting. I didn't expect a proposal or even a 'hey, let's date!' declaration after yesterday but…to humiliate me like that, in front of that woman, in front of you, in front of Jareth…I want to chop off his balls right now, it makes me so damn angry. I felt like such a damned fool, walking in and hearing that and he didn't bring it up once, not once when she'd been over an hour earlier, eating lunch with us. Or to tell me he can't date mortals. Like, I wouldn't have even gone there if I'd known that – for this very reason. Shit's suddenly all awkward and I hate it. It pisses me off he's even managed to affect me this much. I'm normally not like this, I just…" She trailed off, shaking her head.
"Cait, you have every right to be angry, I would be." Sarah frowned, leaning over to make sure Caitlin understood she did not judge her in the least for her behavior. In all actuality, this was a fairly tame explosive moment for her best friend, who she'd seen cut men down to half their size for less. To see Caitlin this upset told Sarah how much she'd started to like Niall despite it all.
Caitlin said nothing but she could tell the tension was leaving her frame. When Sarah leaned over and peered at Caitlin's profile, she could see a ghost of a smile as she rubbed her nose. "Thanks, hooker."
Sarah smiled faintly, tugging Caitlin around to face her. Her best friend rolled onto her back and scowled at Sarah's grin, her makeup smudged and running underneath her eyes. Sarah did her best to lighten her mood, tapping a finger to her chin before offering a smirk. "Men can be idiots. I'll hold him down and you can punch him in the nutsack if you want. It's not like he didn't have it coming."
Caitlin grinned faintly and laughed, the sound weak but still giving Sarah a small measure of hope that she was recovering. She wiped at her eyes and shook her head, sighing again and sitting up slowly, bringing her knees to her chest as she looked across the room and out the window.
"Do you love him?" She asked suddenly about Jareth, not looking back towards Sarah. The question startled her but she answered honestly.
"Yes," She replied steadily.
"Then why haven't you told him?"
"I honestly didn't know how, not at first. After talking to Bemb – that woman…." She hesitated to use Bembe's name, knowing Caitlin didn't hold anything against the witch, the anger directed more towards Niall who'd failed to be honest about their relationship and the complications of becoming involved with him, but still decided to not use her name. "…she sort of helped me realize there's no reason to hold back. You only live once and all that."
"When are you going to tell him?"
"Tonight, I think. After the parade. You're still going, aren't you?" Sarah replied, studying Caitlin.
"I dunno, feeling pretty miserable here. I might watch from the balcony, my spirit's not in it tonight."
Sarah frowned faintly but heard a soft exhale from her friend, the sound loaded with bottled up emotion. "Cait?"
Caitlin glanced back at her, this time tears once more swimming in her eyes. "So, if you tell him tonight and if he tells you that he loves you too, you're going to vanish off to fairy land and leave me up here, aren't you?"
Sarah hesitated, frowning, wondering if this is what had Caitlin upset more than Niall. "Cait, you're my best friend. If I wasn't allowed to see you, then I'm not sure I would go. I've got Toby, the kids, my family…you. I can't just give that up, no matter how much I love someone. If he loves me like I hope he does, he won't make me choose."
Caitlin turned towards her and hugged Sarah tightly, startling her. She returned the hug and grinned faintly, lightly teasing her friend. "Alcohol, crying, hugging – who are you and what have you done with Cait?"
Caitlin laughed and shoved her away, rolling her eyes. "She's back in New York, never having known magical fairy men existed in some alternate reality, one of which has plans on my bestie. Fuck boys, rich assholes, rough bar crowds? That I can handle. This? This is making my head want to explode."
"I love you, Cait. You know that, right?"
Caitlin smiled faintly, still not looking at her. "I love you too, hooker."
They both laughed but the sound of a knock on the door interrupted them. Caitlin tensed, anger flashing brightly in her eyes as she snatched the covers of the bed up and over her rumpled clothes. Sarah rose and moved to the door, opening it, wary she'd find more Fae men demanding entry.
She was surprised to see Bembe standing there, a kind smile on her face, her eyes slightly sad. "May I come in?"
Sarah looked back over her shoulder, knowing Caitlin had heard her. Caitlin blinked, wiping at her tear-streaked face and nodding, motioning for Sarah to let her inside. Sarah stepped away from the door and let the woman enter.
"Can I get you a chair?" She asked her. The older woman smiled and nodded and Sarah helped her settle into a chair that she pulled closer to the bed at Bembe's insistence.
The woman looked between the two of them and again Sarah felt that small tingle, this time without touch. Bembe smiled steadily at Sarah for a moment before looking back at Caitlin. Caitlin shifted nervously under her gaze, but unlike Sarah, it looked mostly to be from nerves.
"What?" Caitlin finally asked, when Bembe said nothing for several seconds.
"I've done you a disservice, I see." Bembe started, raising a hand when Caitlin opened her mouth to object. "Let me finish, child."
Reaching into her purse that sat on her knees, Bembe held up a small powdered substance in a packet. "Before we continue, I suggest we do something about your mental state. This conversation is best had while you have your wits about you. Sarah, dear, can you fetch your friend a cup of water?"
Sarah nodded and stood, moving to the bathroom, when Caitlin narrowed her eyes at the old woman. "What the hell is that?"
"A cure for your inebriated state, dear. Now be a good girl and drink up," Bembe replied in a stern tone, taking the cup that Sarah returned with and dropping the contents into the glass, the water instantly turning a faint aquamarine color. Sarah blinked, biting the inside of her cheek to hide a grin at Bembe's authoritative tone, passing the glass to Caitlin and simply watching in amusement as she settled beside her on the large hotel bed.
Caitlin scowled but, feeling challenged by the older woman, tossed back the contents without a second thought. She briefly coughed, grimacing, then blinked and sat up straight. "Holy shit."
Bembe simply stared at the woman with a small smile, her eyes twinkling in amusement.
"Man, I need my money back. Not a whiff of a buzz, what a waste of cash," Caitlin started, then stopped at Bembe's stern stare. "Sorry…." She let her eyes wander around the room, sheepishly shrugging a shoulder. Finally, she looked back at the woman. "So, what're you here for? Want to give me lessons on telling a Fae prince to fuck off?"
Bembe laughed, the sound low and throaty, shaking her head. "Hardly. If he is anything like he was when I knew him, he won't give up so easily in any event. No, I am here to offer an apology and give some clarity to what I had told Sarah."
Caitlin sat up straighter, surprise on her face. Sarah also found herself intrigued, studying Bembe curiously. The woman smiled and settled back in her chair, setting aside her purse.
"I am a mortal witch, if that is not as obvious to you as it was to your friend. Niall might not have fully explained how Sarah and Jareth became reunited." Bembe watched as Caitlin flicked a questioning gaze at Sarah then glanced back towards her. Sarah remained wisely quiet, allowing Bembe to control the conversation.
"I thought not. I was hired to assist in the weaving of a selective cloaking spell. The mask your friend wore bore that spell. It allowed her and Jareth to find each other again and cast aside old resentments for one night. As I'm sure he's told you, they have a past. Niall originally planned this trip of his to simply see his friend gain favor with a woman he'd secretly been harboring feelings about for a very long time." Bembe gave Sarah a knowing smile, glancing back at Caitlin after just a brief glimpse, missing Sarah's stillness and forced swallow.
He thought about me after all that time? Like I did? Sarah swayed briefly, overwhelmed at the surge of happiness that filled her. Soon, however, Bembe's words drug Sarah back into the conversation.
"In any event, it worked. I was also hired to make this…" She reached into her pocket, withdrawing a vial with a bluish substance. "It was meant for Sarah, but I think you might find better use out of it than her." She leaned forward and handed the vial to Caitlin, who took it and studied it.
"That is a memory erasing spell. You will remember nothing of the past few days, should you choose to use it. Be wise in its application, as it's very difficult to unweave the spell." Caitlin almost dropped it like it would scald her, eventually setting it aside and blinking in surprise, struggling to accept what the woman told her but eventually seemed to come to grips with what she was being told, looking back over at Bembe.
"Now we got witches. I've seen everything. Um, thank you?"
Bembe laughed. "You've hardly seen everything, girl. But yes, the world as you know it is much bigger than you think."
Both Sarah and Caitlin listened to her words with a sense of awe and intimidation. Before Sarah could ask her anything further, Bembe moved on.
"Now, I suppose I owe you an explanation. One I should have given you earlier, despite Niall not letting you out of sight. I think he feared what I'd say, but as the saying goes - the cat is now out of the bag - so we might as well address the situation." Bembe smiled, looking between the two. "You must understand the Fae are not human, no matter how much they appear to be. Their world is different than ours and so is their governing system, cultural rules and mating bonds."
Sarah and Caitlin blinked at the use of 'mating bonds' and Bembe chuckled once more. "Yes, mating bonds, you heard correctly. Most of their marriage contracts involve a hint of magic. Mostly to source out potential treachery, but some for love. Once bound, it cannot be broken unless by death. It's unnecessarily cruel to bind someone in a mating bond unless you are fully committed, either politically or emotionally."
"How do you know this?" Sarah asked, frowning, wondering how much credit to give to Bembe's words.
Bembe smiled, her eyes glittering. "Niall showed me and I visited the Underground several times where I had a chance to study their magic. A little research, a little thievery, a little meddling. Do you really want to know all the details?"
Um, maybe not.
Bembe laughed at Sarah's expression and continued. "I met Niall at a very unusual time in my life. My parents had just died, my sister had been killed in a riot, and my stubbornness and zest for opposing those who would simply judge me for the color of my skin had put me in some dangerous places. Niall has always been fascinated by humans and it was there we were drawn towards one another. That is why I can understand his attraction to you, Caitlin."
Caitlin stubbornly refused to say something but Sarah bit back a smile as she saw the faintest tell-tale signs of a blush creeping over her fair skin. Bembe simply grinned, daring her friend to deny it. When silence met her stare, she continued, amusement dancing in her eyes as Caitlin's silence simply reaffirmed her statement.
"Yes, I know a thing or two about being a fiery spirit. At least I did, once. We fought long and hard for equal rights in this country, even more so in the South. I'm a colored woman and a witch, I've fought those battles and won most of them. If I had chosen Niall, he would be bound to a mortal woman, a witch no less, and I'd have been forced to enter into a society that once more ostracized me."
She leaned back and smiled sadly. "Fae, for all their accomplishments, are relatively archaic on some concepts. For one, there is no divorce, no equality of opinion, no appeal to a ruling. I had already fought too long and too hard to earn my right amongst others in this world to cast myself back into another where I'd have to do it yet again. I would also have made things harder for Niall. He is in a unique position. He leads with his heart, unlike most, and he's next in succession. He can do marvelous things and I did not want him facing immediate opposition by being bound to a mortal woman. He could have forced our marriage on the court, yes, but it would have hurt his position or even entirely jeopardized his ascension. Because the Fae do not choose mates lightly, I couldn't willfully commit to being his wife if my heart was not completely in it. Especially Niall, who so easily leads with his heart. Do you understand, child?"
Caitlin began to nod after a few moments, chewing on her lower lip. She finally glanced at Bembe. "So, the vial…is for me to decide what I'm going to do."
Bembe nodded and struggled to rise, Sarah quickly standing and assisting her. "Yes, child. However…I would suggest giving it some thought after you speak with him. Let him have his own voice in all this."
Caitlin nodded again, studying Bembe closely for a few moments. Finally, she smiled. "Thanks for coming by. You didn't have to, but you did. I misjudged you."
"I misjudged you as well, child." Bembe replied, moving towards the door. "Sarah, walk me to the elevator? Let's allow your friend to rest."
Sarah glanced back at Caitlin who nodded and leaned back on the bed again. "Go ahead. I'm not going anywhere. You know where to find me. I'll be here or hanging out on the balcony. Count me out of tonight's shenanigans."
"Alright, I'll come check on you before I head out. I imagine Niall will be with Jareth when they return. Do you want me to send him up to talk?"
Caitlin sighed and nodded, rubbing at her eye and sliding down back in the bed, looking exhausted. "Yes, please. I need to…we need to…talk and clear the air. Just let me get some sleep first."
Sarah held out her hand for the older woman to take and helped escort Bembe out of Caitlin's suite. As they moved closer to the elevator, Bembe turned to her. "I think you should come by sometime, to my shop, after you and Jareth are officially bonded."
Sarah flushed, feeling her face heat. "You're saying this like it's a sure thing."
Bembe laughed. "After tonight, you'll be lucky if you don't end up already mated. I could sense that boy's feelings for you a mile away. As it seems you've made your mind up to tell him how you feel, you shouldn't worry about him not accepting."
Sarah couldn't help the smile that spread across her face but changed the subject. "So, come by your shop? You mean because of earlier?"
Bembe nodded. "Yes, that. If you're truly venturing into the Underground and all that it entails, I want you properly prepared. I'd like to try a few tests of sorts, if you don't mind. Consider it an effort to make up for my earlier mistakes with your friend. Besides, I like you. You'll do well, tempering Jareth if what Niall says about him is true. You can help him make sure Niall succeeds, he will have a hard road ahead of him, no matter what happens the next few days."
Sarah stilled, a look of surprise flittering across her face. "Thank you, Bembe. I mean that."
The old woman nodded and moved into the elevator once the doors opened. She smiled at Sarah and pressed the down button. "Good luck this evening."
Sarah smiled, thanking her, and headed back to her hotel room to get ready for the upcoming parade.
I have just the thing in mind to wear.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Jareth was pacing the halls of Niall's home, staring at the clock and gritting his teeth. Why the FUCK is time crawling so slowly? I only have so much time left. What if she doesn't want to see me again? What if she's getting cold feet about us? What if…
Turning sharply, he slammed his fist into the wall, grunting faintly at the impact. He could still remember Sarah's angry gaze and instantly tensed, looking backing over at Niall with a narrowed gaze who sat at the couch in the living room by the fire, quietly nursing a drink of brandy. He'd been eerily subdued since returning from the hotel.
Niall turned at the noise, looking over his shoulder and rolling his eyes briefly, all fight in him suddenly gone when Caitlin had harshly told him to leave her alone and Sarah had dismissed them. "Jareth, quit wearing out my floors and walls. Come, sit. Have a drink. The hours will not pass any faster. I've already forbidden you to alter them and even if you wanted to, you wouldn't risk Sarah's ire."
Jareth frowned at the softened tone of Niall's voice, pulling his hand back and jerking his vest back into place, still feeling helplessly frustrated about what occurred earlier. Still, he followed Niall's request and moved to the wet bar, pouring himself a solid amount of whiskey and falling into a chair across from the couch.
Rubbing at his eyes, he sighed and swallowed the liquor down quickly.
"I'm sorry, Jareth." Niall's tone reached Jareth's ears and he looked back, studying his friend. Niall wasn't looking at him, his profile turned towards the fire, but Jareth still noted the faint traces of their blows from earlier. He grimaced, not impressed with his own ability to control Niall's temper, but when it came to anger Niall was always the rash one. If Niall had wanted to go to Caitlin, there was little doubt Jareth would have been able to hold him back much longer.
"Why?" Jareth asked, curious to the apology. He'd made his own mess, breaking his promise to Sarah. He shifted in his chair, still uneasy about the look of anger in her eyes from earlier and hating being idle when he wanted nothing more than to launch himself towards the door and demand Sarah see him so he could show her what she would miss if she left him. Fuck, get control of yourself. You're a damned King.
"I should have told Caitlin before I took her. She knew I what I was but not what it all entailed. I didn't think, I just…wanted her and I didn't think. When Bembe arrived, I panicked. I didn't expect Bembe to tell Sarah about our past or for Caitlin to overhear it. I didn't think about what I was going to do with Caitlin in two days' time, what I was going to tell her, how I was going to explain myself…I didn't do a lot of things. This mess has made it hard on your time with Sarah. I know how fragile you are when it concerns her."
Jareth tensed but Niall looked back at him with an amused gaze, sympathy in his eyes. "I know you're nervous that she's rethinking being with you. People get angry from time to time but she'll forgive you. I'm finding myself struggling with the same thing. Funny, that."
Jareth frowned and studied Niall, frankly surprised at his obsession with Caitlin. "You love this woman?"
Niall sighed, bringing his glass to his lips. "I don't know. I just know that once, I thought I loved a mortal, and that choice was taken away from me before I could even decide myself what I wanted to do. Now, again, I've found myself in the same situation and can't help but think - this time I won't let go so easily. Not this time. Not with her."
Jareth blinked, his eyebrows rising in surprise. He didn't think they'd grown fond of one another so quickly but then realized he'd been so focused on Sarah, he hadn't spent much time watching his friend's changing behaviors. He knew Niall fancied the woman, lusted for her, but cared about her? That was new.
"You could still claim her, you know." Jareth suggested. "I would back you. You have allies. We could make it work."
"Bembe is right, though. It'll be a difficult battle to get the courts to approve the match. And an even more difficult one to keep me in power." Niall responded, his tone still soft, almost hollow.
Jareth snorted. "Niall, if you're supposed to change things, why adhere to a ruleset that won't allow you to pick your mate of choice? She's a seer, you said so yourself. That could work as a reasoning for the match. Your children would have her skillset and your heritage."
Niall looked over at Jareth, startled. "What are you suggesting?"
Jareth shrugged faintly. "Use her abilities as a bartering tool during the courtship hearings. Surely they'll consider it a benefit to add to the bloodline and approve it."
Niall grinned faintly at Jareth's tactics but finally sighed. "This is all assuming Caitlin will forgive me. You do not understand this woman's temper."
Jareth laughed. "I might more than you might think." When Niall looked at him with a confused stare, he grinned and elaborated. "When we were in the cellar picking wine, she threated to make me a eunuch if I hurt Sarah."
Niall blinked, then started to laugh. "That sounds like her."
Still, Jareth was struggling to see the attraction. He grinned subtly, curious. "What is it about Caitlin that you like?"
Niall's deadpan stare had Jareth throwing his head back with a laugh.
[Royal Sonesta, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah admired herself in the mirror, a pleased look on her face. Smoothing her hands over one of Caitlin's dresses, she turned slightly and made that she was still modestly covered as best she could be, considering the cut of the dress. It was a beautiful sequin dress in a bronzed gold, shimmering like mermaid scales in the light. The underlining of the dress was made of a thin gauzy mesh material that allowed the sequins to wrap around her breasts and waist but leave her stomach and the center of her chest startlingly bare. The backing was low and the angle of the skirt was sharp, riding high up on one thigh. Eat your heart out, Jareth.
She grinned faintly and checked her makeup, remembering her talk with Bembe. Giving her hair one last comb through and slipping on two-inch gold sandals, she grabbed her key and tucked it in a hidden pocket in her skirt and stepped outside.
Knocking gently and peeking in on Caitlin, seeing her friend fast asleep, she snuck back out into the hallway and rolled her shoulders nervously, her courage briefly wavering. Can I do this?
Glancing at the wall clock in the hallway and biting on her lower lip, Sarah made a quick decision to grab her credit card and head to the bar Spirits across the street from the hotel. Making her way towards the elevators, she ignored the curious stares of other hotel guests, determined to gather some courage before Jareth appeared, even if it happened to be the liquid variety.
[Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans, One Hour before the Mardi Gras Parade]
"Where are they?" Niall asked worriedly, looking around the street that had already started to crowd with parade observers taking positions. Jareth and Niall were glamoured to look like average men but still got the occasional odd stare, appearing out of place despite magic dulling their appearances.
Jareth frowned, glancing around with a steady gaze as he studied the crowd next to Niall. "I don't see them. Perhaps Caitlin is still in her suite?"
Niall cast him a worried glance. Jareth smiled faintly his way. "Go to her, it's the only way you'll know."
Niall glanced around. "And Sarah?"
Jareth shrugged. "I'll wait. Go."
Niall nodded, already started towards the hotel doors. Jareth watched as his form vanished inside the lobby and eventually turned, growing agitated as he looked around the crowded street once more. Sarah – where are you? He forced himself to ignore his rising panic.
After a few minutes, he began to pace up and down the hotel entrance, forcing himself to remain calm. Suddenly, he saw it. Freezing, shifting his gaze across the street as he caught a glimmer of a dress and a flash of dark brunette hair in the bar across the street, he finally saw her.
Time seemed to stand still has he stared hungrily, lust flooding his senses as he saw the dress she wore, his eyes sliding over her figure, admiring her curves in the daring dress. Almost as quickly as his lust spiked so did his possessiveness, seeing the admiring glances she was gathering her way. Sarah appeared oblivious, smiling and leaning over the bar and calling out an order to the bartender while a small group of men circled around her, sharing grins with one another. A soft growl escaped his lips when he saw one of the men come up behind her from where she'd been standing, leaning in and murmuring something in her ear. She turned, startled, and the man flashed her a grin once more. His growl shifted into a full-blown snarl when the unknown man's fingertips skirted along her back, every instinct in him flooding with the urge to kill the fool who dared touch her.
I'm going to rip your throat out. She is MINE.
Seeing red, he immediately launched himself across the street, cutting through the crowd in his wake.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Caitlin's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Caitlin had woken about thirty minutes prior, doing her best to pull herself together, taking a quick shower and dressing in a rather subdued outfit of an oversized sleep shirt and shorts to watch the parade from her balcony when she heard the soft knock at her door.
Swallowing, knowing who she'd see on the other side, she slowly walked towards it and steeled herself, opening the door. Still, she was wholly unprepared for the sight he painted, standing there in her doorway, tired lines etching the corners of his eyes and his lips drawn tight.
Niall raised his gaze and stared at her, saying nothing for several seconds. She found herself relaxing by the nervous darts of his eyes as he looked over her form, noting the effort she'd put in to clean herself up.
"I…" He tried and trailed off, struggling to find words to say.
Caitlin bit her lower lip, instantly feeling her eyes flood with tears again at hearing the broken tone of his voice. She inwardly swore, trying to regain her composure when his gaze shifted and studied her face, noticing her tears. He let out a strangled noise and she launched herself at him just as he grabbed for her, pushing through the door and slamming it closed, grabbing her against his frame and dragging her towards the bed.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered fiercely against her mouth, her shirt already half off in the process as he pressed her into the mattress, laying hot kisses along her throat.
"Shut up," she hissed, reaching for his belt and unfastening it while he leaned over her, his fingers trailing along her neck to lightly tease at her breasts. He groaned as she slipped her fingers inside his pants and gently teased him to life.
"Caitlin, we should…" He hoarsely tried to start again but she wasn't hearing any of it, leaning back and tugging her shirt off. Niall's gaze zeroed in on the outline of her nipples through her black lace bra and he groaned again, immediately bringing his mouth against the fabric to tease both into aching points.
Caitlin moaned, arching under him and closing her eyes, feeling his hands make quick work of her shorts and panties. She heard the rustle of fabric as he freed himself and then, parting her legs at his gentle touch, felt his warm hardness press against her, thrusting home.
She melted against his rough thrusts, rolling her head back as he groaned atop her and tugged her wrists up against the headboard, holding them in place with one hand while the other reached between them and teasing her clit with the other.
"Cait, look at me…" He groaned sharply, making her eyes open and meet his. She moaned as his heated gaze steadily met hers while he thrust and teased her, dragging her closer to climax. She felt her channel flutter against him and knew she was seconds away with his skilled actions.
"Niall…" She panted, arching up. He groaned again, picking up his pace, feeling the subtle tightening slickness of her channel clamping down on his cock by the way his facial expression drifted towards rapture.
"Let go, Cait…Gods, Cait…now…let go now…now!"
Suddenly, he stiffened and stilled, barking out the last of his words with a rough tone, flooding her insides with heat and then she was tumbling, falling over the precipice herself with the help of his teasing fingers and the expression of ecstasy on his face, sobbing his name.
He fell atop her, panting, and she cradled him to her. His mouth found hers and they spent several minutes simply swallowing the past few hour's hurt exploring each other.
"Bembe came by earlier…" Caitlin started while Niall traced the curve of her hips with his fingertips, pressed against her back on her bed. They'd spent the last few minutes undressing one another and gently fondling, relishing each other's touches. He stilled briefly but when he didn't say anything, she continued, staring out at the open balcony doors, hearing the crowd beginning to gain momentum by the shouts and whistles that started to wander into the room from the outside. "She explained a little more of what happened…between you two."
"Did she?" Niall asked, trailing his mouth along her shoulder. She smiled faintly and shivered and he reached forward, grabbing one of her breasts and gently testing how it fit in his hands. "What did she say?"
"That she left you, that she wasn't ready for the fairy world and that you have a hard journey ahead of you. That the courts of your world don't care for mortals, especially as…queens." Caitlin whispered, swallowing as she tried to ignore her rising arousal. His hand stilled and after a moment he turned her towards him.
Caitlin's eyes met his and she once more spoke quickly before he could add anything. "I'm not expecting that, by the way. That's ridiculous, we've only known each other a few days. I know you've got obligations at home. If you need to end this, I'll…I'll understand." She forced a ghost of a smile on her lips. Even if it hurts like hell, I'll understand.
Niall frowned sharply, his eyes sparking as he stared at her, anger making his cheekbones stand out in stark relief against his golden coloring. "May I speak now?" His tone was flinty, telling her she'd hit a nerve. Surprised, she nodded.
"Bembe was very special to me. What we shared was beautiful. I thought I loved her and in some ways, I still do to a degree. But I am not in love with her. When Bembe chose to end our romance, it was her own choice, not mine. For a long time, I was very angry. She took my choice away from me and the worst part is she was not entirely wrong. It would be a hard battle to allow a mortal queen, but that should be a choice I'm allowed to decide together with whomever I choose to love."
Caitlin nodded, combing a hand through his hair, suddenly feeling a twinge of sympathy for how he must have felt when Bembe ended things. He reached for her hand and turned his face, kissing her wrist softly. Eventually, his gaze met hers again. "I'd like to see where this is going. I do not want to end it after you fly home. I can visit you there, in New York. Don't cut me out, Caitlin. Please."
Caitlin's heart fluttered painfully in her chest at his words but she forced a frown, tipping her head to the side. "But what about your position? Won't that hurt you?"
Niall shook his head. "Not until I formally claim my intention to name you as queen consort. For now, they just see you as a dalliance. If I chose to claim you, there would be hearings of your eligibility. We're not quite there, love, but…I want to explore the possibility."
Caitlin was both swarmed with happiness at his words but also struggling to understand the last part of what he said. When it finally registered what would happen if they became serious, she tried to wrap her head around the concept of a panel of judges determining if she was suitable girlfriend or wife material. What...in the actual fuck….
Caitlin's eyes widened as her anger rose. "Are you kidding me? You have to explain my worthiness to a bunch of Fae prudes?"
Niall grinned at her sudden spark of anger. "Yes, essentially."
Caitlin almost launched herself out of bed with an offended snort, prepared to launch into a tirade about asshole fairy snobs but he drug her back against him. "Quiet, you little hellion. We're not there yet. If we end up there – fuck the courts. They're not going to tell me who I can care about. For now, let me see you, let me please you." He purred softly in her ear, thrusting against her backside. "Let me fuck you..."
Caitlin stilled and softened, moaning faintly and he took the cue, dragging her over to face him and find her mouth with his.
[Spirits on Bourbon Bar, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah swallowed her annoyance at the man that once more leaned forward and drunkenly asked for her number. Gritting her teeth, she turned to tell him for the last time she wasn't interest when she heard it. I just want a goddamn drink!
A hiss of anger had her snapping her gaze towards the open doors of the bar, just in time to see Jareth wrap his fingers around the throat of the man who'd pressed his hand against her back and attempted to suavely flirt with her again.
Sarah screamed for him to stop but it was too late. He flung the man with strength far beyond that of a human, the man's body slamming into the far wall as he whirled, shoving himself towards the other crowd of men she hadn't previously noticed. His friends?
"Jareth!" Sarah yelled, appalled, as he forcefully subdued them when they launched themselves at him in defense of their friend, his fingers roughly snagging their collars, causing a few of them to let out surprised chocking noises.
"She is mine…" He snarled, sending them sprawling as he shoved them back. She staggered back as he whirled, his angry gaze on her, jerking her to him and dragging her out of the bar. She struggled, incensed at his sudden anger directed at her, meaning to yell at him that none of this was her fault and if he'd only stop overreacting, she could explain –
She didn't have time, feeling his magic ripple around them as he suddenly transported them. She stumbled, glancing around, finding herself appearing in a strange vacant courtyard in a residential part of the quarter, opening her mouth to ask where they were when he jerked her to him, violently claiming her mouth with his own, his teeth sharply tugging open her mouth.
She swayed and he took immediate advantage, shoving her back against the wall with enough force, she felt the sting of brick scrape along her shoulder blades.
"You're mine, Sarah. Mine, you understand?" He rasped, grinding his erection against her, knowing he was being too rough but suddenly not caring. He was enraged, still reliving the moments of that man touching her, fueled by an irrational need to claim her and impress on her that she was his and always would be. You can't leave, not now. You're mine, tell me you're mine.
"Answer me," he growled, shoving her skirt up her legs and subduing her wriggling form with magic. He felt her frame tense with shock as she moaned softly and canted her head back against the brick wall he had her pinned to. He tugged her hips forward, tearing the flimsy fabric that barred his access, shoving his fingers roughly up inside her, feeling her slick arousal coat his fingers with an arrogant smirk.
"You're soaked, precious. Answer me, Sarah,and maybe I'll put my cock where my fingers are and fuck you hard, right here, in this 'd like that, wouldn't you? You'd like me to pound into you so hard you can't tell where you end and I begin? Doesn't that sound nice, precious? Answer me…" He felt her squeezing around his fingers when he mentioned how he'd shove himself inside her and he forced her head back roughly with his free hand, tugging on her jaw and opening the soft recesses of her mouth with the forceful tug of his mouth and tongue. Tell me you want it. Tell me you want me. Tell me you're mine.
"Yes, Jareth! I'm yours," she sobbed faintly, trying to move, making the magic holding her back vibrate against his senses. He shuddered, finding the spongy flesh buried deep inside her channel, pressing firmly and rolling his fingers in sharp circles. She screamed again and shuddered, bucking with the little amount of freedom she had against the magical restraints. He felt her squeeze again around his fingers as she drew closer to orgasm and he jerked his hand from her and ripped open his pants, using her own readiness to coat his cock, pressing himself against her opening but not fully pressing inside, not yet.
"Tell me you want me. Tell me you love me," He panted, his voice hoarse as he ground against her in small circles, the tip of his cock teasing against the folds of her sex, seeking entry but not willing to shove inside, not until he heard the words he wanted to hear.
"I want you, Jareth. I love you.." She moaned brokenly, her voice suddenly filled a combination of emotional and lust, trembling with the heaviness of her admission.
Jareth stiffened, his entire frame rocking with relief and a deep stab of lust, his cock throbbing with the urge to spill inside her, his mouth pausing before letting out a low pained groan and biting down against her lower lip. Sarah cried out but the noise was drowned out against his own as he gripped her hips with tense fingers and suddenly bucked, shoving his cock inside her in a pounding rythym, his body riding the euphoria of her admission of her love.
He could feel her coming around him almost instantly but he wasn't willing to let go just yet. He tensed, twisting his fingers as his magic swelled. He knew he shouldn't, not without warning her, but he was past rational thought.
Suddenly, his magic sparked to life, detonating between the two of them in the act of their rough coupling as the mating bond sealed around them, searing his senses. He suddenly sensed her connection to him, able to feel her surprise, her acceptance, her rush of love, her instantaneous second climax, and then he was tumbling himself towards bliss, pouring himself into her.
Sarah sagged against Jareth, her head aching with the surge of magic that assaulted her senses. She felt drunk with the ferocity of her release, feeling Jareth briefly struggle to hold himself upright.
With a wave of his hand, they were in her hotel room, stumbling into bed.
Everything felt different, seemed different. The air glowed faintly, as did Jareth, despite his glamour. She touched his face in awe and watched it melt away, revealing how he'd always appeared to her in her dreams.
Tears flooded her eyes as she felt his love hovering against her senses. She couldn't quite make out his thoughts, only catching fleeting emotions when she concentrated, but they were enough to humble her into silence.
"Sarah," he started, cupping her chin and kissing her in soft measured movements. "My Sarah, my champion, my lover, my queen, my mate, my love…"
She sobbed faintly against his lips and he turned her, drowning her tears with renewed efforts of his love.
[Stanley's Restaurant, Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans, Two Days After Mardi Gras]
"When's your flight take off?" Sarah asked Caitlin, who'd chosen to stay an extra few days. Caitlin checked her phone and groaned. "Three hours, we probably better go soon."
Niall curled his arm around her. "I've never ridden in a plane before. What's it like?"
Sarah and Caitlin exchanged amused glances. "You'll see," they replied in unison, grinning at Niall's questioning glance. He simply shrugged and grinned, looking eager to the experience.
"When's your next council meeting?" Caitlin asked him, tugging her sunglasses off from where they rested against her head and settling them back over her eyes.
"Three days, love. Don't worry, I'll make it work." Niall responded, leaning forward and kissing her cheek. "I want to see where you live. You sure I can't convince you to let me teleport us there?"
"I paid for these tickets, bud. And besides, let you miss out on your first plane ride? Not on your life." Caitlin grinned, knowing as Sarah did that most likely Niall would hate it. What he didn't know wouldn't kill him, right?
Niall missed the perverse gleam in Caitlin's eye, simply content to be in her good graces again. "Then the plane we shall take."
Jareth bit his lower lip in an effort to hide back a grin, casually resting a hand around Sarah's hips. She smiled briefly back at him as Caitlin leaned forward and reached to settle the bill. Niall snatched the check before she managed to, however, and gave her a teasing grin as he laid a few bills out to cover the cost of breakfast. Caitlin rolled her eyes but gave him a small smile before looking back at Sarah and Jareth who sat across from them.
"So, everything went through at work? They approved your sabbatical?" Caitlin inquired.
Sarah nodded, smiling over at Jareth. "Yes, they gave me six months unpaid time off. It'll be enough to settle everything at the apartment, work on finding a schedule that'll accommodate both the Underground and my Aboveground commitments and for Jareth to secure an identity here."
"I have to say, Goblin King, straddling both the Underground and Aboveground for Sarah? Very impressive." Caitlin smiled over at Jareth who simply shrugged a shoulder.
"It will make Sarah happy. It's worth the struggle. As long as we're sleeping in the same bed each night, I don't care where it's located." His hand squeezed her hip and she shivered at feeling the vague tease of lust and adoration that skated up her spine. Me either, Jareth.
Caitlin sighed as the bill was settled, rising out of her chair with Niall. "Well, we better be off. We've got to contend with TSA security, unlike a certain lucky couple. Come give me a hug, both of you. Don't forget, drinks at my place next Saturday. Deal?"
"Deal," Both Sarah and Jareth responded, rising to come around to the other side of the table, each giving Caitlin a firm hug.
"Take care of her, Goblin King. Remember my warning…" Caitlin smiled as she embraced Jareth, flashing him a toothy warning glare.
"Treat Sarah right, 'else my balls become dog food. I remember," he laughed and hugged her back, shaking his head and pulling back.
Sarah leaned in and gave Niall a quick squeeze, pressing her mouth against his ear to whisper to him. "I'm rooting for you guys. Caitlin really likes you. See you soon."
Niall returned the hug and smiled, whispering back in her ear before pulling back. "I expect an invitation to both weddings. I know you two are officially bonded in the courts, but humor a friend. I went to so much trouble, after all."
Sarah blushed, having not yet discussed that with Jareth but nodded. Jareth and Caitlin raised a questioning eyebrow at them but they remained quiet, simply flashing them a smile.
Caitlin chuckled and tugged Niall out the door, waving as they left.
Jareth turned and pulled her to him, giving her a small kiss before moving with her towards the door. He tipped his head back, closing his eyes a moment. "We should visit here again. Next year, maybe?"
Sarah smiled against his side as he tugged her into the park at the center of the square. "I'd like that." She frowned, looking around. "Where are we going? Aren't we heading back to the Underground?"
Jareth stilled under a tree, turning and dropping to one knee. Sarah stilled, her eyes going wide.
"This isn't custom for Fae, so please let me know if I muck this up." He drew a small velvet box out of his pocket, holding it up and opening it. Inside, rested a large emerald ring with flanking diamond accent stones. "Sarah Williams, Champion of the Labyrinth and my Queen Consort in the eyes of the Underground Courts, would you do me the honor of marring me according to Aboveground custom? Be my wife?"
"Yes!" She launched herself at him, knocking him over into the grass. He laughed as he fell over and she straddled him, kissing him soundly, not caring who saw.
She sat back as he plucked the ring from the box and slid it on her finger. She smiled and kissed him again, a faint shift in the breeze mingling with his magic as they teleported away, startling a few passerbys at their sudden disappearance.