Chapter 1: Familiar faces in unexpected places
It was Sarah's first time in New Orleans, in retrospect the week of Mardi Gras was not the best time for her to visit but the situation was beyond her control.
When trying to plan ahead, and ask for vacation time from work, this particular week happened to be the only days for a while that her boss would agree too. She had loved investigative reporting but these days the freelance travel assignments she took were much more pleasant.
Oh, and if she happened to tour the city and write a blog on the paper's website about her experience, that would be great, too. So really, she was working on vacation.
Still, it was better than not going, and she'd wanted to go very badly.
She'd started to rethink her decision by the fifth time she'd been hit in the head by a pair of errant beads while trying to make it to her hotel with rolling suitcase in tow.
The back of her white blouse was also completely soaked through thanks to many spilled drinks, most of them so full of sugar and dyes she was in danger of looking and smelling like a damp Care Bear.
If one more drunk 20 year old college guy asked to see her tits, offering her yet MORE cheap plastic, but amazingly aerodynamic, beads, she might just start throwing punches.
Offer me a latte and a foot rub and maybe you'd have a deal, bud.
She'd come with the express intention of seeing the history of the infamous city.
Exploring the French Quarter. Listening to fantastic music. Gaining ten pounds on creole cooking alone. So far she felt like an extra in a Girls Gone Wild video.
A blonde co-ed blocking her path wavered on her feet for a moment, blinked at Sarah blearily, and then lifted her shirt expectantly.
Sarah sighed, removed the latest pair of beads that had tangled in her hair, and handed them over.
The blonde beamed at her and then disappeared unsteadily back into the crowd.
It wasn't even officially Mardi Gras yet. If this was the dress rehearsal she was in for hell of an opening night.
With a wry smile, Sarah looked down just in time to avoid some street vomit.
Come on feet.
As Sarah made her way to the hotel she could feel the magic of New Orleans in the air.
The throngs of revellers eventually petered out enough to afford Sarah the space to appreciate the architecture in the French Quarter.
The Big Easy was aptly named. If New York was the city that never sleeps, New Orleans was the city that never wakes.
Like an unending dream filled with every possibility. Reality and fantasy blurred to tantalize the senses. Seduction in every corner.
Sarah took a deep breath, savouring the heady aroma of something distinctly Cajun cooking from a nearby restaurant. Her stomach grumbled accordingly.
Another block and she gratefully stopped at the door of her historic, and quite infamous hotel, too a breath and admired the building's architecture.
Sarah was thrilled to be staying at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. It was a place with tons of history, while also boasting a luxurious salon ballroom, and was built on the original sight of the Saint Louis Hotel.
The Saint Louis Hotel had burned down in 1915, The Omni having been erected years later. It was known as a place to see and be seen. The Omni was a haunt of entertainers and politicians alike.
She went to the desk to check in and receive her key. "Welcome, Miss Williams." The smiling clerk said as she signed her name on the register. "I hope you enjoy your stay."
"Oh I'm sure I will. The hotel is beautiful. I'm sure you get all sorts of interesting guests."
The clerk nodded. "You have no idea, how interesting. We have a few regulars in for the celebration already in our suites. Should make for quite the Mardi Gras!"
Sarah grabbed her key and turned to head to her room.
A lightning bolt went through her.
There, 20 feet away, was a familiar form.
He was in profile, not paying attention to her at all, talking to another man. Smiling, tipping his head back as he laughed at something the other said.
She was frozen in place. "What the hell, it can't be..." she murmured.
The 2 men had been waiting for the elevator, and as she watched it finally arrived, opened and they got on.
Just as the doors closed, he looked up and saw her.
His eyes widened in recognition as he saw her there, but the last thing she saw was the beginning of that familiar feral grin of the one and only Goblin King.
She shuddered and took the stairs to her room, trying to figure out what the hell just happened and why in all the world's would *he* be here, in New Orleans, at the exact same time as her.
She could almost pretend it hadn't happened at all. That she'd been so caught up in the magic of it all she'd imagined him. A flight of fancy in the city of fantasy.
The hotel was notoriously haunted - unsurprising in a city with so much living that even the dead forgot to leave. But clearly more than just ghosts lurked in the hotel. It was impossible to deny those eyes. That crooked grin.
Ghosts were suddenly the least of her worries.
Sarah felt a desperate need for a shower. Perhaps it would clear her head. Remove thoughts of a certain Goblin King.
No way was it him. No way. She thought.
From a dark corner she heard a familiar voice...
"Oh couldn't it be ? Not possibly? Not in one of the most magical places in your country? No...it isn't possible..." Jareth stepped forward from the shadows. His eyes caught hers.
Sarah shifted her weight as she considered how best to manage a figment of her imagination refusing to stay a figment.
She was thinking of something pithy to say - after all she always found the right words - but before she could speak the sound of garish plastic beads clattering to the floor stole her thunder.
She must have had a stray pair tag along, probably stuck to her sugary mess of her shirt.
The Goblin King glanced down and then back up, one brow rising and his lips twitching like he very much wanted to laugh.
Clearly he was familiar with the custom.
Sarah froze and then tossed a shoulder and affected a shrug. "When in Rome..."
Jareth grinned just a touch too widely, his hands folded into the pockets of his finely cut three piece suit. He managed to look completely out of place and like he belonged all the same.
Sarah fumbled with the key and the backed into her room, needing a shower and time to regroup. To process what was now impossible to deny. A new shirt was definitely required.
"Running away already?" he chided wryly, but made no move to stop her.
Before the door closed he pointedly eyed the number and then winked at her. "Room 313. Welcome to New Orleans, Sarah."
In a poof of glitter Jareth disappeared, an evil chuckle echoing in his wake.
" Holy shit." Sarah said shaking her head.
Setting her suitcase on the bed she searched for a new change of clothes. Then headed for the bathroom for a hot shower.
As Sarah was showering she had this feeling that something or someone was watching her.
For a brief minute she thought she could feel a faint tug on her long flowing hair ... Then a light cool breath to the back of her neck.
She looked around and say nothing and no one.
"Damn it! This has to be a figment of my imagination, I'm just keyed up ! There's no way in hell he's here, it must be my mind playing tricks on me like when I was in the Labyaaa..."
Sarah quickly snapped her mouth closed preventing the last of the word to escape her mouth.
A look of worry but intrigue suddenly crossed Sarah's face then she let out a slight sigh.
Man, I really need to go get some food, she thought as she grabbed the shower door.
After she showered and dressed in clean clothes, she left her her room and went in search of a meal.
Across the street was a restaurant and she figured it would be a good place to start.
Chapter 2: Strange encounters
It was crowded with tourists, but she managed to get a small table as the people were leaving.
It hadn't been cleared yet but she didn't want to take the chance of losing it, so she plopped down in a chair. A young waiter hustled over and began clearing it. "Sorry ma'am, we're getting slammed tonight."
"Its fine, take your time." She picked up the menu that was tucked into the napkin holder to the side and began to peruse the contents.
As this was New Orleans, Sarah decided upon a small bowl of gumbo as her first foray into the food scene. She knew that there was so much she could try.
Everything from crayfish at the French Quarter Market to alligator hot dogs at a place called Dat Dog in the Uptown area. She planned on trying it all.
As soon as her order arrived, she breathed in the delicious aroma of tomatoes, onion, celery and peppers, and she then tried a spoonful of the spicy stew.
An amazingly variety of flavors assaulted her senses: the smokiness of the andouille sausage, the bite of the hints of red and black pepper, the sweetness of crawfish, and the blended flavors that saturated the rice.
Sarah was in foodie heaven. She eagerly dug into the dish.
Some of the firey aftertaste, however, soon made her reach for her water.
Unfortunately, the liquid did nothing to tame the heat.
Sarah summoned the waiter and asked what beverage he would recommend to pair with the gumbo, and he suggested a pale ale.
To her dismay, when he brought her pint back to her table, the face of a goblin leered at her from the glass, which proclaimed the pale ale to come from Goblin Brewery.
Sarah stared sourly at the bottle. It could be coincidence but then nothing was ever as it seemed in her life.
Certainly that devilish, toe curling smile implied that a quick hello at her door was not going suffice for a reunion.
Beggars can't be choosers however. Her mouth was still on fire so she took a deep swig, not bothering to use the glass the waiter provided.
Crisp relief. Not a single trace of peaches.
"Waiter, can you bring me another?" she asked as the young man passed by. He gave her a, smile and a nod.
Now sated, conversation from the table next to her caught her attention. Their thick Cajun accents suggested they weren't tourists.
"'Nother murder this morning..."
"Po po have no leads..."
"This isn't the Nawlins I know..."
Sarah glanced over. The two men were gravely discussing the newspaper open before them.
From her vantage Sarah could read the headline, the picture below one of a white sheet, crime tape, and a strange symbol scrawled in red on a wall.
The sensational lead read, "The Devil Visits The Big Easy."
Sarah got a cold chill. She couldn't help but equate the sudden appearance of the Goblin King here in the city with that ominous headline. The type was to small for her to read from her vantage point so she planned to get a paper before she went back to her room.
When she was done she paid her bill and left a good tip for the young man who waited on her.
The men who had been sitting at the nearby table had left so she scooped up the abandoned paper and tucked it under her arm.
She walked around checking out the scene, and was drawn to the sound of loud jazz music.
Rounding the corner there was a crowd of people spilling out into the street from a club, dancing and singing.
Sarah peeked into the club. It was packed. She wove her way in, showing her ID to the doorman, and maneuvered her way to the bar.
She ordered a hurricane since it was the official drink of the city.
When she got it and took a sip, it was far stronger than she had expected. She immediately planned to limit herself to one. She sipped it slowly, feeling a warming sensation curl its way through her body.
The music was as heady as the alcohol and she was drawn into the dancing crowd.
It wasn't long before her glass was empty and forgotten as she danced to the sounds of saxophones and trumpets.
She was certainly feeling no pain, thanks to the drink, and the was no shortage of cute guys wanting to dance with her.
There seemed to be no end to the music. One song blended into the next and no one seemed to care.
While Sarah was having a blast dancing and flirting, she was completely oblivious that she was being watched.
"Ma chère, you certainly have some moves. Can I buy you a drink?" Asked the dark haired guy next to her with a heavy accent.
She had planned to not drink anymore, but her lack of inhibitions thanks to the first one, had her saying yes.
She wasn't even sure what she was handed, but it wasn't another hurricane. It was something very strong with a coconut flavor.
She thanked the man and turned to watch the crowd.
They drank quickly while they had a chat, and the man pulled her back into the dance. She danced with him several times before she started to feel way too drunk and was swaying on her feet.
"Let my walk ya back to yer hotel, chère." The man suggested.
"My paper..." She looked around, trying to remember where she left it.
"Never mind that, I'll get ya a paper."
He escorted her out of the club and held her against him as they walked.
Sarah wasn't even sure where they were going. She felt dizzy and slightly nauseated, and was grateful to have someone to lean on.
He steered her onto a side street, then around to a darkened, dirty alley. Sarah was becoming alarmed even in her state. "This isn't the way to the hotel."
She was spun around and shoved against the greasy brick wall.
"No kidding." He pressed against her, grinding his pelvis into hers. He held her wrists and began kissing her neck. "You smell sweet like Spring."
"No, please, I don't want..."
He let go of one wrist and grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him. His eyes glowed slightly. "You're marked. I felt it as soon as you entered the club. Tell me. I demand to know." His voice had changed and the distinct accent of the locals had disappeared. It was now a snarling growl, and his skin began to look scaly and slightly green.
Sarah was confused. "Marked? I have no idea what you mean! Let me go!"
She wiggled and pushed but he was strong. Stronger than any normal man should be.
He leaned in and hissed. "Let's try this again, woman...you have *his* mark. I know he's here. Don't lie to me. Fucking humans and their lying tongues. How about I cut yours out?"
The was a glint of a knife.
She shrieked in terror and closed her eyes.
Suddenly the pressure was gone and she fell to the ground.
There were scuffing sounds nearby and a yelp, then nothing.
Don't open your eyes, just don't open you eyes... her mind kept saying.
Footsteps approached and she waited.
When finally *did* open them against her better judgement, the Goblin King was leaning over her looking concerned.
She wasn't even sure he was there at all, or if she was hallucinating in her daze.
He sighed. "Precious thing, you will be the death of me one of these days."
He touched her forehead and she lost consciousness.
Chapter 3: Surprising Revelations
A undetermined amount of time later, she opened her eyes, she felt horrible but fairly sober.
Sarah sat up unsteadily. She was alone but swore she saw several smallish shapes disappear into the shadows.
Goblins, her mind would whisper later.
Her attacker was gone as well though his words remained - as sharp as the press of his knife.
*His* mark. Lying humans...
As she stood, still shaking, she promptly braced herself on the wall and emptied her stomach. She wasn't sure if it was her nerves or the alcohol. Probably both.
Wiping her mouth of the acrid taste, she quickly made her way back onto the public street - both upset and angry.
She attached herself to a young group of partygoers on their own way home until she spied her hotel and ducked inside.
As Sarah made her way to her room, a headache already starting despite her emptied stomach, she noticed a discarded paper on a room service tray left outside her neighbour's door.
She snatched it up and then locked herself inside her room.
Sarah turned on all the lights and just stood for a moment, remembering the press of the knife, before taking another shower.
When she emerged, still a bit lightheaded but able to keep her balance , she grabbed the paper, flopped down on the bed, and scanned the newspaper.
The 2 bodies under the sheets looked small. At least one possibly a child, Sarah thought with a pang.
But far worse was the symbol on the wall - one she now recognized. One she'd seen before.
Jareth, the Goblin King, wore the same symbol round his neck. His amulet.
Sarah read the headline again, her eyes flicking back to the symbol on the wall. One that if you turned upside down looked remarkably like horns.
The Devil indeed.
She threw the paper over onto the table, dimmed the lights but left the bedside lamp on because she was still on edge, and closed her eyes.
Sarah tried to sleep but was too disturbed to rest. She tossed and turned while the whole terrifying event played in her head over and over. She wasn't sure whether she actually saw The Goblin King there at all, or if it was an alcohol and fright induced hallucination.
When dawn came she gave up, got out of bed and dressed.
Screw it. Might as well get up and face the day.
She needed to find coffee and fast, before she dealt with anything else, so she dressed and left the room.
Sarah was wary but wasn't one to let a bit of fear keep her from doing anything.
A few minutes later, she was crossing the lobby when the desk clerk stopped her.
"Miss Williams, message for you."
Sarah took the envelope from him and opened it, removing the folded note and unfolding it carefully, mildly afraid of what would be there.
I would dearly appreciate it if you could join me for lunch.
We have much to discuss.
I implore you to be careful, this city is not safe, and you are now known.
I'll explain more when we meet.
Cafe Dumont, 1pm.
Frowning she put the paper back into the envelope and approached the desk.
I guess it wasn't a hallucination after all. I suppose I owe him a lunch at least for chasing that lunatic off.
She sighed and turned back to the clerk's counter, rubbing her temples.
"Excuse me, but do you know where I can find a good cup of coffee?"
The clerk grinned. "Late night? Ah tourists. Those hurricanes pack a punch. Place around the corner, Madame Bertrille's."
Sarah followed his directions and found the small, slightly shabby Cafe. Bells announced her entry.
The smell of coffee made her mouth water. She sat down at one of the small tables and waited.
"Ahh, a pretty one today. Don't have to tell me, ya need coffee." Came a voice from behind her.
The women was older, her face heavily lined, but she had sharp brown eyes that missed nothing.
Sarah nodded. "Please, black and strong."
The old lady chuckled and went to get the order.
A moment later a huge steaming mug of and a plate with a warm beignet on it.
"Oh thank you, but I don't think I could eat."
"Now just try it. Madame Bertrilles' beignets are good for hangovers, trust me."
Sarah fished her bottle of aspirin out of her purse and popped a couple into her mouth, chasing it with a swallow of coffee.
It was amazing, and had a hint of spice. "Wow this coffee is the best I've ever had." She sipped more.
"I thank you, ma chère. My family recipe. Been makin' it that way for near 200 years." The woman answered.
Sarah watched as she took pans out of the oven, put more in, and began arranging the pastries in the glass display under the counter, as Sarah was her first customer.
Sarah turned back to her table and unfolded the newspaper she had brought with her rereading the article and staring at the picture.
Why would the Goblin King need to talk to *her*? And what the hell was he doing here? Was he really a cold blooded serial killer?
As much as he had scared her as a teenager, somehow she never thought of him as an evil sociopath.
But she would meet with him, since it was in a public place. She was too curious to pass up the chance.
"First time in da city, chère?" The older woman asked.
Sarah nodded. "Yea, I've always wanted to visit though."
"Well ya picked a fine time to see da city. Mardi Gras is one nonstop party 'ere."
"So I noticed." Sarah chuckled as she sipped her coffee.
"You jus' be careful, dear. Lots o' tourists come and vanish in da night 'ere. Our city ain't as safe as it used to be."
"You mean the murders?" Sarah questioned.
"They be bringing bad juju to da city." The woman grasped an odd looking pendant around her neck and closed her eyes as if in prayer. "I be prayin' dis evil is stopped soon"
Sarah remembered the feeling of the cold blade pressed to her neck. She thanked the woman, paid, and quickly left.
The bright sunlight did much to alleviate some of her misgivings. She dug out her camera and began snapping photos.
So far her vacation had been anything but relaxing. She window shopped at a few places and went through some brochures, adding some to her list of places to visit.
Sarah walked enough that by 1pm she was actually ready to sit down again. The aspirin had finally kicked in enough to quell the hurricanes affects as well.
She'd decided it couldn't be what it seemed. Jareth was obviously involved but in what way she wasn't sure. She didn't think he was a murderer .
And yet, the thought of meeting the Goblin King made her stomach flutter in ways the alcohol hadn't.
He was already waiting for her when she arrived. Another smart looking suit, hair too long to be conventional but tied back in a way that muted without masking his other-worldliness.
He studied her as she approached like he expected to find something wrong.
She sat, her eyes flickering to his face.
He inclined his head. "I wasn't sure you'd come."
"And if I hadn't?"
Jareth merely grinned, raising a hand to call the waitress without looking away.
After they'd ordered, Sarah folded her hands on the table. "How is it that in a city of almost 400,000 people, not counting the almost 10 million tourists here or coming, and one that has almost 300 hotels, do we both end up here... at the same time, in the same hotel?"
Jareth's grin widened at her steely presentation of the facts. "And that's why we needed to talk. You used to be an investigative reporter - no, don't bother to ask how I know. There are places of high magic. Places where the edges between realms blur. New Orleans is one of them. I haven't been here in long time. I am now and it seems I need your help, Sarah."
Sarah blinked in surprise, as though that was the last thing she expected him to say.
His eyes dropped to her neck. "And you, it seems, need mine."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Tell me the truth, Your Majesty. Are you a serial killer?"
He had the good grace to look insulted.
"Why would I ask you here if I was? That would be rather foolish. I am many things, not all of them pleasant, but I am not a fool." He snapped.
"No, I never thought you were. But think about it. Even if you told me the truth, what the hell could I do about it? Report you to the police? A man who can alter time and space? I doubt I could be much of a threat either way." Sarah answered.
"Touche." He said with a tip of his water glass as he was lifting it to his lips.
Sarah tried not to focus on those sinful lips as he drank.
Why did he have to be so damn beautiful? She thought.
"Okay, I can't answer until you tell me what's going on, Jareth, so spill it. Obviously somebody somewhere is killing these people, and leaving your insignia behind..."
"And cutting his victims tongues out." He added.
"Oh. That wasn't in the papers. Wow that's horrifying."
He nodded. "It is. There are worse things, but by above standards, absolutely agree."
Sarah didn't want to know what it was he was speaking of, so left that alone.
"Anyway, and this person or persons know who you are and wants people to think it was you or someone from your world. What else should I know?"
"The victims..." Jareth paused.
"They looked... small. Like children," Sarah probed.
"Some of them. Yes."
Sarah looked at him sharply.
"I steal children, I don't murder them," he snapped. "And not even that... I just wait until spoiled little girls wish them away."
Sarah stood. "Right. Well this was a mistake."
He grabbed her wrist before she could leave. It was like electricity. "Apologies. Don't run away," his lips twitched. "Yet."
Sarah sat. "I know you don't," she conceded. "What is your connection to them? The victims. Are they magical?"
Jareth stirred the coffee he'd yet to drink. "They were all mortal." He grimaced. "Very much so. They were all of them, children and adults and be elderly alike, once wished away."
Chapter 4: Lunching with the King
Sarah inhaled sharply, shocked. "What... but..."
"Contrary to your belief I don't turn them into goblins. Goblins are insulted by the very notion they were once something so thoroughly disgusting as humans." Jareth held up his hands. "I'm just quoting them. No, those lost to the Labyrinth are returned to a new life above, having lost all memories of their precious lives. Those lost memories feed the magic."
Sarah shook her head. "But why pin the murders on you? There's no way the police could ever make that connection."
"There are more forces than just your mortal law officers. Others... far more dangerous... who would make that connection."
A prickle of fear went down her spine.
He knew her thoughts exactly.
"Yes, I'd say you have vested interest in this as well. While the killer has been staying close the where those lines between worlds meet, it's quite possible he, or she, could very well seek him out. Eventually, anyway."
"I would kill them myself." She said, suddenly angry beyond all reason.
She felt an unnameable flare of heat in her belly, threatening to bubble up and explode.
He felt it too and laid a hand over hers. "Steady. Take deep breaths. He is in no immediate danger. I've...taken care of that. He's shielded as of this morning. I thought perhaps it would easier to pursuade you to assist me if I could guarantee his safety for the time being. However I can only make it temporary perhaps a few weeks before it fades. I can't leave large swaths of my magic all over. There would be questions. "
She closed her eyes and followed his advice about the deep breaths, letting the feeling die down.
"And me, am I in danger?" She asked, opening her eyes.
"In a different way. You're in danger of becoming a pawn. Your position in my world is unique. And of course the first night here you managed to make yourself known to the killer. Now I'm forced to protect *you* on top of everything else."
"Well excuse me, Goblin King. How was I supposed to know any of this?"
"You weren't. But now you have to. So it would be much easier if we work together using our combined skills. I can kill two birds with one stone, as it were."
Sarah tapped her fingers on the table, debating the pros and cons of teaming up with her former nemesis. Pros: Jareth always around to make sure that she didn't end up dead, another ghost in the most haunted city in the U.S. Cons: Jareth always around, distracting her with his beauty and his noticeable assets.
Toby could be in danger from this otherworldly killer as well, though. And, truthfully, she could never pass up a decent mystery.
She looked him straight in his mismatched eyes and said, "Alright, Jareth, you've got yourself a partner. Let's find this bastard."
Jareth's grin was back and wider than ever. He slightly sharp teeth giving him the air of a predator. Which, Sarah reasoned, he was, but if she could believe him, which she was still skeptical about, he wasn't a killer of innocent humans.
What he did in his world wasn't any of her business, but what he did *here* she was about to make hers.
"Why do I feel like I just made a deal with the devil?"
He barked out a laugh. "Oh if only. I'm far more dangerous than the devil, Sarah."
"How so?" Sarah asked.
"I'm here. The devil is not. Also, you would have no doubt of the devil's motives, but me...well, one never knows. "
"You say that now, after I've agreed?"
He shrugged, picking up his coffee. "You have to leave me a little something Sarah. You've nothing to fear, I would never hurt you...unless you ask me too."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "I'm not into S&M, Jareth. Take your veiled suggestions elsewhere. I'm sure plenty of women would be happy to let you tie them up."
"Oh indeed, and they have. Maybe some other time you'll avail yourself for some fun and games, once this is all sorted."
Sarah couldn't believe he was openly flirting with her.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves here." She replied.
"No no no, of course not. Let's have lunch, and then we can discuss where we go from here. Waiter?"
"Yes Sir?" A man came over, pad in hand.
"Two bowls of your fabulous jambalaya please, some fresh bread, and two glasses of your best ale."
The waiter left to fill the order.
"Ordering for me?" Sarah said. That sort of thing tended to annoy her.
"You'll love it, precious. It's the best you'll find here. Relax."
Sarah sighed. It was going to be a long week.
30 minutes later:
Sarah tore apart the fresh warm bread a little too greedily, mopping what was left of the jambalaya with it and tossing it into her mouth.
Though she would never admit it, but damn, Jareth *was* right. The food was really the best here. By the time the week was over, Sarah would have to be rolled all the way back home.
Besides, Sarah's best ideas were born from a full stomach.
She tore another bit of bread off, chewing on the piece much slower as she became lost in her thoughts.
Her eyes wandered over to Jareth's necklace - a signature trademark of any outfit he wore.
"Why do you wear that necklace so often?" Sarah asked, licking her lips. Jareth looked down, picking the pendant up with his thumb and index finger.
"Tradition mostly. The previous Goblin Kings handed down this necklace to the next heir of the throne and Labyrinth. It makes me look rather charming, doesn't it? Brings out the color of my eyes." The Goblin King flashed a smile, the corner of his lips twitching more as Sarah scowled.
"But does it mean anything? Whoever is causing all this is attempting to frame you for those heinous acts. Why are they using that exact symbol? It has to mean something important."
"Come closer," Jareth said, lifting the necklace from around his neck. Sarah raised an eyebrow. The tone of his voice was veering over a certain kind of boundary she didn't like to step over. For now, she bit her tongue. Letting herself obey Jareth's whims for a moment.
The Goblin King nested the pendant in gloved hands, pointing at the symbol in the middle. "Do you see this here? The symbol in the middle. What does it remind you of?"
"A Celtic infinity symbol. Err, close to it. The way the spirals are drawn out, they don't connect with each other." Sarah leaned in closer to inspect it. The scent of peaches swirled her senses.
Of course, he smelled of peaches! Damnable fruit can rot for all I care.
"Correct. In a way. To save you a couple of history lessons, the first of the humans were inspired by the ancient arts of my fae ancestors, interpreting what we created into their own culture. The true meaning of the symbol is "Eineacht".
"Einaecht? What does that mean?"
"Together. In another sense, it can mean how the Labyrinth is connected to those who are marked. To be honest, I'm not quite sure." Another cheeky smile painted his face. "Languages wasn't my favorite subject to study."
An exasperated sigh escaped Sarah's lips. At least it was an *Idea* to go off of. Still, it didn't mean much. All the symbol was doing was framing Jareth at the scene of the crime.
"What about the pointed ends-?"
"We have to go. Now." Jareth barked at her, grabbing Sarah by the wrist, pulling her out of her chair and dashing through the nearest alleyway. "What.." Sarah began to speak but found herself again pressed against an alley wall by a male body
Except this time it didn't feel quite as unwelcome as the night before even with a leather encased hand over her mouth.
She chose to ignore that feeling out of self preservation.
Their eyes met and held.
"Hush." he whispered. So low she wasn't sure she'd heard it with her ears or he'd managed to penetrate her mind.
She nodded and he removed his hand.
A few minutes later he breathed a sigh of relief and stepped back.
"We should get back to the hotel. Come."
"Wait, aren't you going to tell me what that was about?" She asked as she followed him out of the alley.
"So, why would they care?"
He stopped and turned to her. "Not *those* authorities, dearest." He said. "The others. They do not know you're here. As I said, you could become a pawn. It's best no underground, for lack of a better word you would understand, investigators, see us together. There would be questions."
"But the killer knows?"
"Yes. That was not my doing. And he would not tell them anyway it would lower his own chances of acquiring or killing you. That was you being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
They began walking again.
Something dawned on her. "Hey...you know who it is...don't you?"
Jareth stopped again and closed his eyes, exasperated. "I know who the assassin is, or rather, what. A particular kind of underground being who has somehow acquired the ability to shapeshift. But he is controlled by someone else. Someone practicing magic that is illegal in the underground. I almost had the damnable thing last night but it was you or him."
"Just one more question?."
The Goblin King rolled his eyes, but waved his hand in a gesture to go on.
"What did that man last night mean, when he said I was marked? Was I marked by the Labyrinth like the others?"
Jareth mouth tightened. " Fine. I will tell you. You would be better off not knowing, but you deserve to know I suppose. No. You aren't not marked by the Labyrinth. For better or worse, you happen to be the only winner, so the Labyrinth has no right to mark you." He paused.
"You my precious thing, are the only being in all the worlds who happens to bear the personal mark of The One and Only Goblin King. Congratulations."
Chapter 5: Marked
"What?!" Sarah stared at him, unable to fully comprehend what she just heard. "You? Why... no nevermind." She turned to leave.
"Sarah, where are you going?" Jareth demanded as he followed close behind.
"To find those authorities you mentioned. I think I'll take my chances with them. I can't believe I was letting myself trust you."
Jareth grabbed her arm. "If you will give me a moment, I shall explain you stubborn girl. I did it for your protection."
"My protection?" Sarah shook her head. "You're unbelievable." She tried to pull away, but he held tightly onto her arm.
"Despite your disbelief, I have been keeping you safe. You have a knack for finding trouble, ma chère." Jareth loosened his grip on his arm. "Now let's return to the hotel, once we are safe I shall explain better and answer any questions you still have."
Sighing, Sarah nodded. "Fine, but no more secrets. I want every detail you know about all of this. And you better have a damn good reason for this mark thing you put on me? Is it an actual mark?" Sarah examined her arms.
"It's a magical mark, Precious. Now let's get out of here." He insisted.
"Fine." Sarah allowed the Goblin King to lead her back to the hotel. As the walked in silence she thought of all the questions she intended to ask him. She wasn't even sure where to begin.
Jareth hustled them both to the hotel and to her room as quickly as possible.
He stood behind her looking around as she opened the door, then practically shoved her inside, hanging the "do not disturb" sign on the knob before closing and locking it.
Sarah calmly took a seat at the small table.
"You know, I'm not sure if I'm any safer in here with you than I am out there with the killer stalking the streets."
"Oh please Sarah." Jareth sat across from her. "If I wanted you dead, you'd have never survived my Labyrinth. I don't kill without good reason, and up to this moment you haven't give me one...yet."
"Well that's comforting." Sarah answered, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
His tone was equally sarcastic. "Isn't it just."
He crossed his legs and settled into the chair. "Now, I believe you have questions for me. You may begin."
Taking a deep breath, Sarah leaned forward, clasping her hand together on the table, and studied Jareth for a moment. "Alright explain this whole mark thing. What is it? Who can see it? Why did you mark me?"
Jareth held his hand up to stop her constant questions. "One question at a time, Sarah. You'll find you'll learn so much more if you actually allow me to answer a question." He gave her a smug grin. He was clearly enjoying this to a certain degree.
"Just answer the question." She glared.
"Very well, first, the mark is a magical indicator that most magical beings, like myself, can sense. You don't see it as much as it's felt. Even goblins can sense it, but they may not be able to identify who's mark it is. A more powerful being like myself or the authorities I mentioned, can not only sense it, but we can tell you who it belongs to and approximately when the person was marked. I marked you the night you won your brother back."
"But why would..." Sarah tried to interrupt but Jareth's glare made her sit back with her hands in her lap. "Sorry."
"Now, my impatient girl, I marked you to keep you safe. As I said you are the only human to win back the child. While the Labyrinth has no claim on you because of that, others may seek to use you. They might think you know the secrets of the Labyrinth and could be used to defeat me and my army."
Sarah held her hand up slightly and waited for him to stop talking. "This isn't class, Precious," he chuckled.
"I was trying to not be rude." She snapped. "But why would anyone want to defeat you? Is the job of baby snatching that highly sought after?"
Sighing, Jareth summoned a crystal to his hand and juggled it back and forth. "It's not my job, as you call it, it's the power the Labyrinth contains that they want. My Kingdom is one of the major doorways between realms and the Labyrinth itself is ancient and powerful, but will only submit to the King. Which is where you would come in. You beat me at my own game and declared yourself my equal, that makes you are potential pawn for anyone seeking power to try and use. While the attempt would be pointless, as you truly don't know anything that could help others defeat me, I refuse to allow them to attempt it. You are the champion. You defeated me fairly and in doing so earned my respect and I felt and still feel the need to keep you safe at all costs."
"Why mark me though? Couldn't you have just told me what was going on?" Sarah asked.
"The mark allows me to know your location at any given time. All I need to do is look into a crystal to check on you. It also alerts me like a kind of alarm if you are near a being like myself. That's how I knew you were in danger last night . I barely made it to you in time, which is why I decided to tell you all of this and ask for your assistance." Jareth sat back and ran his hand over his face as he gathered his thoughts. For a brief moment Sarah thought he appeared exhausted, and not the usual confident King she was used to.
"As for why I didn't tell you, I wanted you to have a normal life. There was no reason for you to constantly worry or to be looking over your shoulder. I intended to keep you safely ignorant, and hopefully allow you to be happy. I never expected you to walk into this mess."
Sarah squinted at him slightly, spread her hands and asked, "I appreciate that and all, but why would you want me to have a normal life? Everything I've read about your kind, and trust me, I read a lot after running your maze, says that you should have tried to trick me into coming back. That you would want to keep me."
The dangerous smirk was back when he answered, "Is that what you wanted me to do? Because I can certainly oblige your little fantasies, Precious."
His hand had crept over, his finger trailing along her wrist. She pulled back after a moment, her whole arm tingling from his touch. "That's not what I meant. The Fae are notorious for messing around with humans, putting spells on them, making them forget everything... Sound familiar?"
Jareth merely shrugged, "You were playing for something you had already asked me to take. Of course I had to try and stop you, those were the rules. At the time you ran my Labyrinth, you were too young for me to keep you permanently, though I did ask if you wanted to stay. Now that I've seen how you've grown, I'm actually rather glad that you didn't say yes."
"Why is that?"
He licked his lips, and her eyes followed. "Imagine what fun we could have together, as two consenting adults."
Tempting, oh so very tempting. She would not give into his charms so easily though, she never had. "A bit of fun, that's all? Cause I got the impression, and please tell me if I'm way off base, that you wanted more than just a one night stand. I mean, even the story says that the Goblin King had fallen in love with the girl." There, she'd put the elephant in the room, the one thing she'd wanted closure on since that night. "Let's see how he deals with that little slice," she thought.
He laughed, acting like it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. "Sarah, while you hold my respect, and to some extent, my interest, I don't love anyone. Love is far to dangerous a thing to indulge in. I'm obligated to make certain you are not taken and used against me."
His smiled faded.
"I certainly would not want any Fae to get a hold of you. I would not want that even if I hated you." He looked down at his folded hands and back up as if considering how much to tell her. " As it would be punishable by death for another Fae to kill you, wearing my mark, they would do everything short of it. No one deserves such a fate."
" I thought he was going to kill me."
"Not necessarily, he may have left you alive, sans tongue."
She just stared at him, hand over her mouth.
"Anything you read in that damnable book is a tool to seduce humans to make the wish."
Sarah found her voice. "Sounds like you're none to happy about it."
"It's pitiable how many moony eyed humans want me to seduce them. Male and female. I had hoped you were above it, considering you resisted my attempts to sway you."
"Do you seduce them?"
"Are you asking if I indulge my desires with runners?"
"Just answer the question Jareth."
He smiled. "What do you think?"
"I take the question back." She decided that might be too much information to be able to comfortably work with him.
"Sarah I only did what I had to do. It protected us both. If you wouldn't have practically thrown yourself into his path, you would have never known all of this. You would gone on with your humdrum little human existence, completely unaware I was peeking in on you from time to time. All that may have happened here is a little reunion. Dinner, perhaps a fling if you were willing." He looked her up and down, licking his lips." You've grown to be very beautiful."
" Hey! My life isn't humdrum! " Sarah felt her anger rising." Don't you dare judge me! And I wouldn't sleep with you if you begged me."
" You're far too easily angered, Sarah." He just sat there calmly." As humans say, Chill out."
Sarah got up and paced around the room, working off her energy.
How was she going to deal with this? He was the most frustrating, irritating, not to mention alluring, male she'd ever known. He talked in circles and answered questions with questions. She knew the lore, that Fae can trick, confuse and provoke, and seduce, but they couldn't outright lie. She needed to adjust her way of interacting with him.
*say your right words*
The phrase echoed through her head. Something he taught her. Plus he was attracted to her, so *she* could turn the tables, flirt, seduce, draw him in. Use *her* charms.
A wicked grin began to appear on her face.
Oh, she could do that.
I can beat him as his own game, again.
"What kind of other creatures are we talking about here? Demons, evil gnomes, gremlins?"
"Demons are not in my jurisdiction , Sarah, gnomes are a low Fae equivalent of fairies that dabble in gardening, and gremlins are imaginary creatures from a movie." Jareth answered. "You should know already almost all underground beings are Fae, but there are classes and species of them.
"I am High Royal Fae, obviously." He answered with a flip of his wrist.
"Okay. So is that who we're dealing with here?"
"The assassin is a specific breed of low, level Fae called a redcap. Vicious and cruel with no soul. This one has somehow been gifted the ability to shift into human form. Who he is working for *could* be from a royal bloodline, but not a monarch. But nothing is for certain. He could also be working for a high born or made hybrid, to get above."
"A hybrid of what?" Sarah hadn't heard of that.
"Human and Fae."
"I had no idea they were compatible on a DNA level."
That grin was back, and she wanted to slap him.
"Oh, we are. We fit together quite nicely. Would you care to try it and see?"
Sarah took a deep breath. Instead of getting angry, She sat across from him, reached over and ran her fingers over his arm. His grin disappeared and he looked surprised.
"Mmmm. Maybe, but not tonight. Now, why hybrids? What about them makes them able to have access to the above and why would one of these assassins work for them?"
His eyes tracked her fingers running over his arm, but he pulled himself out of it and looked up. "Ah yes. Hybrids are more trustworthy than pure Fae. Pure High Fae aren't trustworthy to the lower classes. A redcap would never work with one for fear of betrayal. There are other types of hybrids but none are relevant in this case. The downside is, occasionally, hybrids can go insane if they as humans are predisposed to it. Then they may become dangerous and have to be...eliminated."
Sarah rejoiced inwardly. The flirting seemed to have an effect on him. He answered her in a more straightforward manner once distracted.
Good to know. I'll file that little nugget of info away, Sarah thought.
"Okay, now what do we do?" Sarah asked the distracted king.
She was secretly proud of herself she could distract such a being as him.
"We wait. We watch, we pay attention."
"I'm not sitting in this hotel staring at the walls all week Jareth."
"No need. If you get into trouble, say my name and I'll be there. Just stay in public spaces, don't get so drunk you can't function, and pay attention. There are many museums and attractions to see, and I highly recommend them. If you think anyone is acting so strange it's possible they aren't human, you are tracked or even if a situation is a little off, I'll be listening."
Sarah nodded." Anytime? I don't want to interrupt you."
"I don't plan on becoming involved with anyone here, unless you're volunteering."
"Are you like this all the time or is it just me?" Sarah laughed.
"Like what, precious?"
"Horny. You could break the record for how many sexual innuendos can you make in one conversation."
He chuckled. "Just having a bit of fun, love. Teasing you amuses me."
Sarah just let it go. Obviously he was who and what he was. She now had a tool to work around his trickery somewhat, but needed a break.
"Okay, Jareth, are we safe now?"
He stood. "You can just ask me to leave. Yes, we are safe now. I'll leave you to your holiday for the rest of the day, and we can get together later. Remember, if you see or hear or notice *anything* at any time call me."
He went to the door and opened it, Sarah followed to lock it behind him. One he was across the threshold she was relieved.
" I bid you good afternoon, my dearest Sarah." with a tilt of his head he was gone.
Sarah closed the door and leaned against it." Damn I need a nap."
After locking the door, she glanced out the window. He may have said they were safe, but she still felt uneasy. It was a lot to take in, and other than the fact no one would believe it, it would have been an excellent story to give her boss. Sighing she pulled all the blinds closed and laid down. Maybe after a nap she would do a bit of sightseeing.
Chapter 6: Books and Blood
In another room of the hotel, Jareth was staring into a crystal. He was searching the city for the "man" from the night before. "Where did you run off to, you bastard?"
"Majesty?" A voice called out as he came into the room.
"Not now, Corwin. I have a murderer to catch." Jareth said as he waved him off.
"Sire, they were at the castle again. They were looking for you. I don't know how long I can deceive them." Corwin said as he stood there, silently anxious over this whole ordeal and worried about what Jareth's fate could be.
Sighing, Jareth made the crystal vanish and turned to his trusted aide. "They won't give up. Next time they may even torture subjects to get anything they can from them. Perhaps even you." He summoned a new crystal and handed it to the his aide. "Take this. Go home and summon everyone to the throne room, toss this into the air and it will give all of you further instructions on what to do and how to stay safe until my return."
Corwin nodded and took the crystal. "Right away, majesty." He bowed and disappeared.
Jareth returned to his search of the city, his mood worse than before. If they wanted to find him, they would have to do so alone. That crystal would erase everyone but Corwin's memories from the last week. All they would know is that their King took a trip. True they may still be tortured, but at least they wouldn't give away anything. Corwin he would have to take the chance on keeping his memories. He would have need of his aide, he was certain. Corwin was the only one he trusted implicitly, a bond created in childhood.
Sarah awoke from her nap with a start and covered in a cold sweat. Unsurprisingly, she dreamed about the killer from the night before. The sun had already begun to set, casting eerie shadows around the room. As she laid there trying to calm her breathing, she couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.
Sitting up, she looked around the room. There was no one there but her, but the feeling just wouldn't go away. "Jareth are you there?"
A moment later the Goblin King appeared in front of her. "Is everything alright, Sarah?"
She shook her head as she stood. "No. You told me to call if I felt like something was off. Well something feels off. I felt like I was being watched. Were you watching me?"
He shook his head and put a finger to his lips, indicating for her to remain silent. He walked slowly around the room, looking for something. She watched him nervously as he checked in the closet and bathroom. Finding nothing he returned to stand in front of her. "I see nothing, but its good that you're listening to your instincts. It was a false alarm this time, but its always better to be safe. Did you remain here the whole time?"
Sarah ran her hand through her messy hair. "Yea, I just woke up from a nap. I... dreamt about last night...I saw him again. The man with the knife."
Nodding, Jareth took a step towards her. "Its quite normal to relive things like that in your dreams. I apologize for not reaching you sooner." His hand reached out and brushed her hair down. "If you'd feel better, I shall accompany you to dinner. Surely you're hungry by now."
As if on cue, Sarah's stomach grumbled loudly. She chuckled nervously. "Yea, food sounds like a good idea." Stepping away from him, she walked to the dresser. "I should shower and change first."
"Of course. I'll wait for you in the lobby." He gave a slight bow and vanished as quickly as he had appeared.
Sarah glanced around the room. He said it was all clear, but she still felt uneasy. She hoped a hot shower would clear her head as well as removing the sweat.
In his room, Jareth was going through his bag looking for something. Sarah had been right to call for him. There had been someone in her room. He couldn't outright lie but he technically hadn't seen anything, whoever it was vanished before he arrived, but he could still feel the presence of their dark magic.
A dark, cloaked figure appeared in a softly lit hotel room occupied by only one other.
He bowed before the other. "I located the woman from last night. She is in the same hotel as *him*.
" Who is she?"
"Her name is Sarah Williams. She was asleep when I arrived but woke and called his name."
"Well well well, Sarah Williams. This will take time to investigate. More than a simple human lover, I'd say. Why bother marking some temporary fling? I will need to find out exactly what she is to him. If she called for him she obviously knows who and what he is. If *They* found out they may simply kill her or force him to, give him a warning, and be done with it. Hardly would be worth removing him for that minor infraction."
The figure tapped the table, thinking."No, there is much more here. Job well done retrieving that information. Go to our source within the Goblin Kingdom and see what they know. We can decide from there the next step."
The cloaked man bowed again. "As you command. If you're certain I shouldn't just take her."
"Ha. While it would be amusing to watch that little drama unfold, I doubt you'll get close again. He will have sensed you and will place a shield around her room. No, just continue your work as scheduled. Whether she is the key my masters need or not, has yet to be determined. She could prove much more useful alive than dead. Then the real fun would begin. Though I might enjoy watching poor Jareth fret over what they would do to her. That's entertainment. But why risk exposing my hand for that?" The figure laughed, picturing the Goblin King's face.
" Go. Have your fun. Kill some humans."
The cloaked man was gone, leaving the other to ponder all the possible scenarios they could use to bring the Goblin King to his knees.
" I'm so full." Sarah pushed herself from the table at the seafood restaurant they had chosen.
Jareth leaned back and lit up a cigarette. They had chosen a place they could sit outside for that very reason.
" Good. Dessert? " He asked.
She shook her head. "Nope. I can't believe you smoke. That's so bad for you."
"No need to be concerned for my health, precious. I'm not human remember? A small pleasure I allow myself while above. The smoke has no affect on me. Just like human alcohol won't get me drunk, or eating an entire restaurant's supply of crawfish won't make me gain weight." He looked at her plate pointedly.
" Hey is that a crack?"
He laughed." Just teasing you. I enjoy a woman with a voracious appetite. I've never been particularly concerned about such things. Fashion dictates the norms here, not I. My attraction to any human I have...spent time with, has been about how interesting I find them to be, not whether or not they fit some human ideal. It would be rather boring for me otherwise."
" Then you find me interesting? " Sarah ordered another beer, staying away from hard alcohol. A few beers would just relax her and guarantee a good night's sleep.
" You're the most fascinating of all, ma chère. A human who is on equal standing as me? That has the mental capacity and sharp mind to solve The Labyrinth? Color me intrigued."
Sarah took a long pull on her bottle of beer. "And that's why you want us to hop into bed?"
That smile was back, the one that curled his delectable mouth up at the corners, and spoke of sensual delights. "I want to take you to bed because you're beautiful, passionate and...admittedly, it would give me a measure of power over you, at least sexually, but I assure you, you would not complain. No one ever has."
"Damn that ego. How do even fit in your castle with you and it both living there at once?"
The smile grew to a laugh. "Ohh how you make me happy Sarah. Even here, with all of this going on around us, you manage to wash away my anger and stress with your cleverness. I should have found a way to keep you all those years ago. Having you around the castle would have been a boon."
Sarah finished her beer, stood and laid money on the table, refusing to let him pay." Let's go take a walk. I need to work this off a little...and don't even say it, perv."
With another chuckle he stood and took her arm, guiding her out onto the sidewalk.
Sarah let him lead her down the streets of the French quarter. He obviously knew his way around, unlike Sarah, who relied on google maps. "Do you have a destination in mind?"
"Perhaps," he grinned. " You wanted to see the sights, right?"
"I did." The streets were pretty crowded, but not like they had been the night before, yet at least. "So what places should I make sure I visit while in town?" Sarah asked as she hugged his arm.
Blinking at her, momentarily caught off guard by her sudden clinginess, but he wasn't complaining either, he smiled and pointed to their left. "Well there's the Lalaurie Mansion that way, the old Ursuline Convent Museum, Historic Voodoo Museum. There are some wonderful Voodoo shops around, by the way. If architecture is your thing, there are lovely mansions, churches and offices around. There is no shortage of places with live music. There's something for everyone in this town. The cuisine is spectacular. " He explained as he led her down Royal street.
"Well not sure Voodoo is really my style. I do love admiring the architecture though." Sarah said as she looked around. She shook her head when he turned to head down Pirate Alley. "You better not have brought me this way so you could make pirate jokes."
"I wouldn't dream of it." He tried to sound offended, but the smirk gave him away. "But if you're saying you want to surrender the booty..."
"Don't even finish that statement." She warned.
"Relax, Precious. Our destination has nothing to do with pirates, well not specifically at least, but it's a place you're sure to love." They continued walking until they were in front of a white building with blue doors. "And here we are."
Sarah let go of his arm and looked inside. There were books everywhere she looked. "What...?"
"Welcome to the Faulkner House Books. If there's a rare book you're looking for chances are they have it or know where to get it." Jareth grinned as he watched her walk in slowly, completely in awe of the huge collection of books. Walking up behind her, he leaned over her shoulder and whispered in her ear, "I knew you'd love it here."
If there was one material thing Sarah loved, it was books. The Goblin King was on point.
She walked slowly through, running her fingers lightly over the spines. There was a case on one wall that was filled with the most valuable books in the store.
"You know me all too well, Your Majesty." She said. He was trailing behind, watching her with a smile.
"I do. Not as well as I'd like, but I remembered your love of the written word. I'd heard of it and visited a few days ago. I thought of you then, that you would fit here. And you do."
"For someone who finds emotions bothersome and a hindrance, you sure seem to harbor a few."
His smile disappeared and his eyes flashed with brief surprise.
Aha, Sarah thought.
I found something. Mr. Smug and Unemotional wasn't so disaffected after all.
"I never said I don't have emotions Sarah. Or that you mean nothing to me. You've bore my mark all these years and with that connected to me, of course I hold you in regard. I've gotten accustomed to your presence and would miss it if it wasn't there. It's rather like having a constant companion...an old friend in another country, but you still think about them and wish them well." He answered coolly.
Sarah turned away and kept looking at the books. After nearly an hour she decided to do the touristy thing and purchase a copy of Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury," one she'd yet to read. It might come in handy if she got stuck staying in her room to avoid the killer sometime.
"A good choice," Jareth said as they left the building.
"You read Faulkner?"
"I read a great many things, my dear. One of those pleasures from the above I enjoy."
Sarah looked at her watch. "It's nearly 10. Should we go back to the hotel?"
She looked at Jareth but he was no longer paying attention. His body was coiled like a spring.
Suddenly he hissed, and Sarah jumped.
He took off but Sarah was having none of it. He moved so fast and so silent she could see little but a blur, but somehow, she supposed it was their magical connection, she was able to track him.
After rounding several corners and traversing several musty alleys and side streets, she came to an abrupt halt next to a particularly dark and narrow one.
She made to take a step towards him, knowing he was there, feeling his presence.
"Stay back Sarah." He growled. "You should have listened to me."
She hesitated a few seconds but chose to go anyway.
In the back of the alley he was crouched over something, and as she got closer she figured out what it was.
It was a body. She saw blood and...
"Holy fuck." She wanted to throw up her dinner for the second night in a row.
The woman no longer had a throat to speak of, and she bet no tongue either.
"Our killer has struck again." Jareth stood.
There on the wall was his very own insignia.
"We need to take care of this, before anyone else dies." He said grimly.
She had to agree.
Chapter 7: Enter the powers that be
Jareth escorted Sarah back to the hotel in silence and joined her in her room. She was still shaken by seeing the dead body, but at least she didn't vomit. Sitting on her bed, she sighed. "Seeing pictures is one thing, but in person..."
"Yes, well you wouldn't have had to experience that if you had listened to me." He snapped. "You need to do as I say when I say it."
Standing, Sarah glared at the King. "Well excuse me for not wanting to be alone in an unfamiliar town with a killer on the loose." She put her hands on her hips and glared at him.
"No, you rather charge head first right in his path!" Jareth took a step towards her, his anger flaring.
"Well maybe if you told me you sensed him," she jabbed his chest with her index finger. "How was I to know what you were thinking or feeling?"
"You insufferable woman!" Jareth shouted. "How am I to keep you safe when you won't listen?" He turned his back on her and walked away. "What do you think would have happened if the killer was still in that alley?" His hands were clinched into tight fists.
"I... I don't know..." Sarah said quietly as her anger began to abate.
"You don't know..." he almost laughed. "Oh, Sarah, I'll tell you what would have happened." He turned back to face her. "He would have gone after you and I might not have been able to stop him."
Sarah wasn't sure but she thought she detected a hint of sadness in voice. "Jareth..."
"You should get some rest." Summoning a crystal, he placed it on the table. "This should keep you safe tonight and prevent anymore nightmares." He said as he headed for the door. "I'll check in on you tomorrow."
Before she could respond he was gone.
Despite the night she had, Sarah slept well. She supposed it was Jareth's magic. After a shower and getting dressed, she decided she should go to him.
He was in one of the suites in the top floor, she knew.
She went up to that floor and walked down a few halls, using her newly found connection to locate him.
Finally she sensed...something. Her skin prickled as she got close to the door at the end of one hall.
She took a shot and knocked on the door.
The door opened to a sight she was completely unprepared for. There stood Jareth, in nothing but a towel, his hair still damp.
Sarah's eyes couldn't help but follow the lean muscles of his form from his chest down to his navel, where a light patch of hair hinted at what lay underneath the towel.
She caught herself beginning to reach out, and if the dilation in both of his eyes was any indication, he would very much like to entertain the direction her thoughts were heading. She coughed to bring the situation back to a normal awkwardness rather than a charged sexuality. "I can just wait out in the hall until you're dressed," she offered.
Jareth started to take a step towards her, but a voice from the other room caught both of their attentions.
"Can I do anything else for you, Mr. King?" A young brunette about Sarah's height walked out of the bathroom. Her hair was a mess and her clothes wrinkled.
"Uh, no. That will be all. Thank you Jeanette." Jareth stated as he grabbed his robe.
Jeanette nodded and headed for the door, walking right by Sarah without a word. Sarah scoffed and turned to follow the girl into the hall.
"Sarah, wait!" Jareth called as he put on the robe.
"Why should I?" She asked as she faced him. "Seems you dropped the ball. And here I thought you were busy looking for the killer." She grabbed the door, intending to slam it behind her.
Jareth rushed to the door and grabbed her arm. He pulled her back in the room and shut the door, pinning her against it. "That wasn't what it looked like." He told her as he gazed into her eyes.
"So you weren't banging the attractive brunette that just left?" Sarah questioned.
Tilting his head to the side he studied her carefully. "Is that jealousy I see, Precious?"
"You wish." She turned her head and tried to push past him, but he put his arms in either side of her head, preventing her from leaving.
"So, tell me, Sarah, what brings you to my room so early in the morning? Were you wanting to play... perhaps?" His bare fingers traced down her cheek. His voice a low purr.
She froze, her eyes on his hands. She realized this was the first time she had seen him without gloves. "No, I came to see if you were alright."
"I'm more than alright." He smirked. "I'm quite well." He said as his eyes wandered down her body.
"Oh I'm sure you're feeling relaxed now," Sarah said snidely. "You're nuts if you think I can't read between the lines"
His eyes blazed. "You've made it clear, my nuts are not something you're willing to concern yourself with. Perhaps I needed someone who would be."
She wasn't upset at all at the woman. If she didn't know him, she too would be tempted to indulge in a vacation fling with a gorgeous, charming, charismatic man like him.
Jareth, however, had spent the last day trying to get into *her* pants, and then gone ahead and invited some stranger to his room for a tryst after he'd left angry and upset. And she was a tiny bit jealous, but she'd never admit it to *him.*
His mouth twitched. He took a deep breath and backed away.
"I told you, it is not what it looks like. But feel free to believe what you will Sarah. It matters not."
He went to the balcony doors, opened it, and stepped outside. He left the door open and lit up a cigarette.
She waited a a couple of minutes and joined him, closing the door behind her.
She went to the railing and leaned out to take in the view.
" It's beautiful here. It's hard to believe what's happening."
He said nothing but watched her closely as he smoked.
Sarah felt a moment of regret for getting angry. "Look, I'm sorry okay? I have no right to tell you what to do. You are free to sleep with whoever you want. She's pretty. I guess I was surprised."
His eyes softened. "No, you were jealous. I would feel the same if I saw a man coming out of your hotel room. Regardless if we act upon it, we have an...attraction, a pull that we should not pretend isn't there. Apology accepted. But don't be shocked if I tease you mercilessly, precious."
"I wouldn't be surprised in the least by anything you say at this point."
Jareth opened the glass door. "I didn't have relations with Jeanette, she brought fresh toiletries and towels up. I think my aide may be a bit smitten with her, however." He smirked and gestured inside. "There's fresh coffee and a morning newspaper waiting, shall we?"
She nodded and they went in to check out what they were both sure they would find as the lead story of the day.
They read the entire paper. There was nothing.
"I don't get it." Sarah said as flipped through for the tenth time.
"The only answer is that the body hasn't been found yet."
He pushed his chair out and stood up. "I suppose this means I need to go there. Stay here Sarah, you don't need to see this a second time. It's worse in the light of day."
Sarah shook her head. "Somehow I doubt seeing a person with their throat ripped out is dependent upon the time you see it, whether it's more or less enjoyable. Horrific either way. We'll both go. You have to put some trust in me if you want my help. I'm not some fragile little thing who can't face things. I've seen crime scenes before."
"True. I'll get dressed." He left the room and Sarah finished her coffee while she waited.
He came in wearing another dark suit, his hair pulled back, sunglasses in hand. "Let's go."
He called a cab to take them within a few blocks of the alley, and they walked the rest of the way.
Sarah's feeling of dread built up as they walked. While she was resigned to seeing the horrible sight again, she wasn't looking forward to it. She had seen things but it's always horrifying, and this one was particularly violent.
She followed him down the darkened path, unconsciously using his body as a shield.
Jareth stopped abruptly and she bumped into him.
He started cursing, or at least it sounded like it, in an unfamiliar language.
She stepped around him to see...nothing.
No body, no blood, no insignia.
It was as if nothing ever happened.
"Where...why..." She looked to him but he just stood there, his jaw clenched, now that the cursing had stopped.
"We need to leave, now." He grabbed her arm and pulled her down the alley.
"Where did she go? Jareth what happened?"
" They're here." He answered.
She looked around. "Who?"
"I take it that's not good."
He stopped, grabbed her shoulders and looked into her eyes. "It is bad, Sarah. For both of us. You need to do exactly what I tell you from here on out, or we will both be in serious danger."
Sarah tried to question him, but he refused to speak or stop. He grabbed her hand and was practically running down the street, pulling her behind him.
"Jareth!" She tried to pull free, but his grip was too strong. "Jareth stop! You're hurting me!"
He stopped so abruptly that she collided with him. "I'm sorry, Precious." He rubbed her arm where he had gripped it a moment earlier. "I wasn't trying to hurt you. But we have to leave, quickly."
"Jareth, what's going on? You're scaring me?"
"I will explain everything once I know we're safe." Jareth brushed her hair from her face. "I trusted you enough to let you come with me. Now I need you to trust me."
Nodding, she took his head. "Lead the way."
He guided her through the busy streets and hailed a cab, but he didn't take them back to the hotel. Instead the cab took them out into the swamp. When the cab stopped the driver turned to look at them. "You sure this be where ya wanna go? Da bayou not a place to be wandering alone."
"We'll be fine, I assure you." Jareth said as he paid the man.
Shrugging he watched them exit the cab and then drove back into the city.
"Where are we?" Sarah asked as she followed him down the dirt path.
"An old mansion I sometimes stay at when I want to be alone." Jareth said. "Come on it's a long walk and we want to get there as soon as we can."
"Can't you just poof us there?" Sarah questioned.
"No, they'll know if I use my magic." Jareth said as he continued walking.
"Who?" Sarah asked as she ran to catch up.
It took over an hour but at some point they rounded a corner and there it was.
He unlocked the gate and let them in, then locked it behind them
It was not a huge mansion, but big enough. The grounds were well kept, she noticed.
When they were inside, Jareth let out a sigh of relief.
"Someone must be coming and going. I don't see any dust."
Jareth shrugged off his jacket and took off his gloves, then sat down on the old, yet well kept, antique chair next to a matching table. He immediately lit up a cigarette.
"There is a husband and wife caretaker that comes in a few times a month to keep it up. I bought it a long time ago as a place I could have here if necessary."
"Oh." She sat across from him. "Well if we are going to stay here I hope you have supplies."
"Just for the night, Sarah. Please. I need to formulate a plan. There is a pantry full of essentials, and the freezer is stocked. Nothing fancy but we can make do. There are four bedrooms, modern plumbing and electricity. We'll be fine. At least for tonight."
Sarah noticed then how very tired he looked. And worried.
He took her hand and pushed her sleeve up, seeing the bruises he left." I am so sorry to have hurt you Sarah, I would never purposely do such a thing. Not to you."
"It's okay. Worse things have happened to me lately."
He nodded once.
"Now, are you going to tell me who these Anna...whoever they are is?"
"Anaithnidí, you mean."
"I'm not sure I could wrap my tongue around that word no matter how hard I try." she said, hoping to lighten the mood.
It fell flat.
"The closest word to match that name in your language is" The Unknowns" You may use that term if you prefer."
" What do they want?
"To erase all evidence of these crimes. That means the council may have made a decision that they find me guilty of committing them. Or not. But either way I have some explaining to do."
"Couldn't you just go to them? I'll bear witness for you. You were with me last night so..."
"Yes, we could do that, but then I'd have to explain about *you*. Why you are walking around with full knowledge of the underground and I've allowed it to go on. Why I marked you. I'd have to tell them..." He turned away. "I'd have to tell them you won. While I might live down the shame, and frankly I don't give a fuck what anyone thinks about that, even if they'd laugh at me, it would make me look weak." He turned back to face her. "A king cannot look weak Sarah. And decisions made by emotions are considered a weakness in the eyes of the council. It makes you ripe for the plucking. And then there is the fact I didn't do my duty where you're concerned."
"What was your duty?" Sarah whispered, almost afraid to know.
"Either take you, willing or not, out of this world, or end you." He replied. His voice cracked slightly.
"End. As in..." Sarah drew a finger across her throat.
"Yes. By our laws it was not something to be relegated to anyone else. You beat me, so I would have to do it."
Sarah was stunned. "You..." Sarah stood and paced the room. "You were supposed to kill me?"
"Or keep you in the Underground." Jareth added, but she didn't seem to hear it.
"What right does the council have to decide that? Who do they think they are?" She ran her hands through her hair then looked at him. "Is it really so bad that a human knows about you?"
"Yes, they fear what you, your people would do." Jareth stood and walked over to the fire place. He lit a match and started a fire. "Centuries ago our realms were connected. We lived in peace with one another, but things changed. There was a great war and hundreds of my kind were slaughtered. My people fled to the Underground and closed off most of the portals between the realms. The council was established to protect us from such a thing happening again."
"I... didn't know. That's horrible, but not all humans are like that. You said they're hybrids, aren't they against the council's rules?" Sarah asked.
"No, hybrids are perfectly legal. Many are slaves, magically bond to their masters, others are... well if I had kept you all those years ago, I might have a hybrid or two." He smiled, but he seemed sad still.
"Why?" Sarah came to stand beside him in front of the fire place. "I can't believe you'd risk so much for a human you barely knew."
He reached out and touched her cheek. "I've asked myself that a thousand times." He walked away and headed up the stairs. "I'll take the master bedroom as my things are already there. Take whatever room you like and help yourself to anything here."
"Jareth," she called after him, not wanting to let him go without answering her question.
"I need to be alone, Precious." He told her as he continued up the stairs. "I have to figure out our next move. Goodnight, Sarah." And with that he vanished upstairs.
Chapter 8: Vulnerabilities
Sarah left him alone the rest of the afternoon. As the sunlight began to wane, she found a couple of steaks in the deep freeze and broiled them in the oven, then boiled some rice. She found a block of real butter in the freezer too, and with some spices and frozen vegetables made a palatable meal.
There was a doorway and a small set of stairs off the kitchen that lead to a wine cellar. It was mostly empty, but there were a few dusty bottles, so she picked out the only red she could find and took it upstairs to drink with the meal.
A while later, she stood at the double doors to the master suite wondering if she should bother him.
Neither of us have eaten, we had coffee then left. He must be as hungry as I am.
She figured it was worth a shot.
"Jareth?" she knocked. "I made some food. Come and eat. I also found a bottle of wine."
She didn't hear anything, but after a few minutes the door opened.
He stood there silent in the darkened room, shirtless, his hair down, looking at her.
I seem to have a knack for catching him without a shirt. Not that that's a bad thing but...
She cleared her throat. "Umm...yeah. Anyway, I just wanted to offer you something to eat. Steak, rice, vegetables, and wine." She repeated. "Come down or not. It's ready."
She left him there.
She set everything out on the dining room table and sat down to eat. As she went to take her first bite, he appeared in the doorway.
"It smells heavenly." He admitted with a half smile.
He had put a shirt on, at least.
He came in and sat down in front of the plate she had made for him, and started to eat.
"Thanks, Jareth." She whispered.
He paused and looked up.
He knew what she meant. The unspoken words.
Thanks for letting me go. For protecting me. For letting me live. For not stealing me from my home, my family. For letting me grow up. For not being that kind of monster.
"I'm no saint, woman. Do not think me incapable of killing, unwilling to do what is necessary. I've done things you would hate me for."
He took a bite and chewed it slowly, waiting to see what she would say.
She sat down her fork. "Maybe. But you haven't done them to me, and I know you aren't out there killing humans. What you do in your world...well that's not my problem. I can't judge for what you have had to do there. I get you're a king and you're a Fae and you don't believe in love and all that. But you've been as good as you can probably ever be, to me. I know you respect me. And I can't ask for more than that from someone like you. I get it. Whatever you need me to do, we'll figure it out. I've thought about this all afternoon. Whatever happens, however it ends, I know you did the best you could. Wishing Toby away was my choice, not yours. I don't blame you."
It looked as if for a moment, he felt something, wanted to say something important.
But he pulled back and picked up his steak knife, carefully cutting off a piece.
Taking the bite, he nodded." You're welcome," was all he said.
The rest of the meal passed in silence.
They both felt that something powerful had occurred between them, but knew addressing it would lead down a path that might make things harder in the end.
That night after they went to bed. Jareth couldn't sleep.
He tossed and turned. It was far too quiet out here in the country, and the noise of the city was good for distracting his racing thoughts, but here all he could do was think. He had used a tiny bit of shielded magic to call his assistant to him and hoped he would be able to come in the morning.
Anything more would have been possibly detected if they were looking for it. He wasn't sure Corwin had been forced to use the memory spell or not, and had no idea if anyone in his kingdom remembered Sarah. But he had to know.
He needed to be able to make some hard decisions.
Eventually Jareth gave up and got out of bed, staring at the stars. He wore only silky black pajama bottoms in case he ran into Sarah in the night, otherwise he would be naked.
Some minutes later he heard a soft noise and silently went into the hallway, listening.
It came from the room Sarah was in.
As he got closer, it was clear she was crying.
Jareth was not particularly empathetic by nature, but something about Sarah, some alien thing he desperately wanted to physically rip from his body, was drawn to her. The same alien thing that had damned him to this entire situation.
A stray thought from his deep subconscious came forward into his waking mind, making him pause.
You know what it is, and why it exists.
He shoved it back where it belonged, made up his mind and entered her room.
The sound of her weeping, her pain and her fear, it hurt him. The mark she had was sending waves of distress to him. Jareth kept telling himself he just wanted it to stop. He was far too self serving to do this out of compassion.
That's what his head kept telling him, anyway.
He got on the bed with her. "Sarah, please. Stop this." He felt a bit helpless on what to do.
She sat up and wrapped herself around him. Her damp face against his chest.
Reluctantly he reciprocated and put his arms around her. "Sarah..."
"I don't want to die, Jareth. Please don't..." She grasped onto him, her fingers digging into his back.
"I told you I wouldn't. If I was going to..." His sentence trailed off.
They both know what he meant by it. She would be long dead.
"I won't let you die, Sarah. And I won't have you throwing yourself on a sword for me. I'm not worthy of that for you. We will find a way. I already have a few inklings but we will deal with it tomorrow. Just sleep. You're safe right now."
"Stay with me, please." She said, looking up at him with those large, pleading green eyes full of such fear and sadness.
He could take advantage of this, he knew. She was vulnerable and felt alone, it would be so easy. So simple to touch her, kiss her, take her, bury himself in her.
If she were any other...
And he wanted to. Oh how he wanted to. His body began to respond to the thought of it. Imagining her long legs wrapped around his waist, her firm breasts in his hands, her face as he brought her to release over and over.
Something, no, that thing, that long neglected piece of himself he'd let wither and decay out of necessity, had somehow been resurrected by her.
And the idea that being intimate with her would just help it along stopped him. It was startling and a little frightening.
He calmed himself with a few deep breaths." Lie down." He commanded gently.
She obeyed him. He turned her to face away from him, making sure she was securely under the blankets. He laid next to her over the blankets, an arm over her body, and pressed his cheek against hers.
"Now shush. Close your eyes."
He began to sing in his own tongue. An old lullaby of his people, a song sang to calm fussy infants.
Someone used to sing it to you, remember?
He snarled inwardly at that voice, silencing it. He'd had enough of it this night.
Soon she slept soundly.
He, however, was more awake, and more disturbed than ever.
The next morning Sarah woke feeling better than she had the night before. She vaguely recalled Jareth coming into her room. As she sat up, she wondered if that had really happened or if it had been a dream. Jareth seemed so different. He held her and sang to her. He didn't try to take advantage or berate her for break down, no he comforted her.
"Was that really Jareth?" She asked herself.
A moment later, there was a knock on her door.
"Sarah?" The door slowly opened and he peered in. "Everything alright?" She wasn't crying he noticed, that was good at least.
"Yeah, I think so." She stared at her hands, still trying to figure out if it was a dream.
"I heard you call for me, I wanted to make sure you weren't having a nightmare." He stated as he began to close the door.
He opened the door further and stepped inside. "Yes?"
"Last night... I..." she looked up at him searching for the words.
"Don't fret, my dear. Your emotions and fears got the better of you. I don't think any less of you for it. I'm sure all of this is confusing and scary for you."
"So it wasn't a dream," she thought to herself. Nodding she climbed out of bed. "I hate letting anyone see me like that. I hate feeling so vulnerable." She walked over to him. "Thank you."
"I did nothing. I wouldn't have been able to rest, knowing you were in distress." He stated as he turned to leave, keeping his answer as flat and unemotional as he could.
"I know, you could have though. I would have done anything you wanted last night. Thank you for not taking advantage of that."
Jareth cleared his throat and walked out the door. "Get dressed and join me downstairs for breakfast. We have much to do," he said before closing the door and hurrying downstairs.
Sarah showered and dressed, she found a clean shirt waiting for her with her clothes. Obviously Jareth's. The material was Egyptian cotton and smelled like him.
She appreciated the gesture.
When she got down the stairs she smelled eggs cooking. Curious, she went into the kitchen...and screamed.
There was a dark haired man there at the stove, cooking. He stopped stirring and stared at her, a spatula in his hand.
Jareth flew into the room. "Sarah what happened?!"
She was leaning against the wall holding a fork as a weapon, her heart pounding.
"Well if you didn't happen to notice there's a stranger cooking in here!"
Jareth looked visibly relieved. "This is my assistant, Corwin. I asked him to cook. I'm not very good at it."
"How the hell did he get here?"
"I was able to send a message for him to come. It was a very small amount of magic and I took the chance they weren't looking for it. They are more interested in huge waves of it being used. Messages are sent to and from the underground to above constantly by many who travel back and forth so I felt the chance was necessary."
"Miss Sarah." Corwin bowed." I assure you I'm a friend, not a foe. No need to stab me with a fork."
Sarah glanced down at her hand." Oh I...sorry."
It dawned on her that this was the man she saw Jareth talking to in the hotel.
And they were both trying not to laugh.
" Oh great, there are two of you." She huffed and sat down.
" Miss Sarah, may I ask, how do you like your eggs?" Corwin asked as he turned back to the stove
"Over easy and freshly stabbed." She answered.
Both the men laughed.
Sarah ended up liking Corwin a lot. He was much less intense than Jareth, and had warm, kind, hazel eyes. It took some convincing to get him to call her just Sarah, but Jareth approved. There was no need for it here in the above.
" So, we will be returning to the city." Jareth announced. "I've called 2 cars to meet us at the drop off in a few hours. Or rather had Corwin do so. Sarah, you will be returning alone, and we will follow. But we will take two different routes so we arrive separately. Sarah yours is the more direct route. Go straight to the hotel, and stay there until Corwin rings you from the lobby. No magical communication unless there's an emergency.
We can't be seen together at least for the day."
" I'm not going to be stuck in the hotel, am I? "Sarah asked.
" No, but again, stay to public spaces, with plenty of people around. They will be looking for large expenditures of magic from me, but Corwin can move about freely, so he will be our go between. I'll physically walk to your room tonight and update you at 10pm. Please be in your room then." Jareth said.
Sarah noticed that Jareth was being very formal this morning, more like he was giving edicts and not just discussing what needed to be done. He had closed himself from her somewhat, acting wary.
She dismissed it as something he was doing because his assistant was there, or tried to, but Corwin kept looking back and forth between them with a puzzled look until Jareth glared at him and he stopped.
After the night before, she'd hoped he'd be a bit warmer, but it was the opposite.
She'd try and talk to him about it later that night.
A couple of hours later she was in a car, speeding back towards New Orleans, with some plans of her own. She was an investigative reporter. It was time to do some investigating of her own, and not just let this all happen to her with no fight. That just wasn't her, and she was done with breakdowns.
When Sarah arrived at the hotel, she hurried to her room and immediately pulled out her laptop. "Thank god for free wifi" she said as she started her search. According to the local papers the murders in New Orleans started two weeks previous and there had been 9 murders."10 actually," Sarah muttered to herself. All of them were found in dark alleys and had their tongues removed. NOPD, NCIS, and even the FBI were looking into the murders. Apparently victim number 3 was a Navy officer raised in New Orleans. His adopted family still lived in the city.
"Well that answers my question about whether or not he was a wish away." Sarah kept digging. Most of the victims already had obituaries in the paper and, no surprise, all of them were adopted. All but one. Cliff Roberts, the first victim. There was very little about him in the local papers. All she could find was that his family had claimed the body and returned to Virginia to bury him.
"Virginia huh?" Sarah grinned. Grabbing her cell phone she called an old friend of hers that was living in Virginia. "Hey, Sam, its Sarah. I need your help."
"Uh oh, I know that voice," Samantha Madison replied, chuckling. "What trouble are you getting into now, Sar?"
Sarah quickly explained the case, at least the normal parts, she shook head at the thought a a serial killer who was cutting out tongues was the normal part of this. "So I was wondering if you could do a little digging up there on this Cliff Roberts. He's the only victim that seems out of place with nothing in common with the others." Sarah explain.
"I don't mind helping ya, hon, but I think you've been reading too many murder books and watching too much crime drama. There isn't always a pattern or reason like they say on tv. Sometimes a killer is just a killer and kills at random" Samantha told her. Sighing she gave in. "Look send me the info you have on this guy and I'll see what I can dig up."
"Thanks Sam. I knew I could count on you." Sarah was grinning as she hung up the phone. She emailed what she had to Sam and then continued her research while waiting to hear from Corwin.
Glancing out the window, she thought of Jareth. "Please let him be safe."
Chapter 9: Consciences and Killers
Meanwhile, Jareth and Corwin were in the car, on their way back.
"Sire.." Corwin began.
Jareth held his hand up. "No. Corwin. You know what is at stake."
"Nothing is certain. They never returned to the castle, perhaps they no longer hold you responsible. As for Sarah..."
"Do you dare question me now? You know why I made the choices I did. I will not bond a child to me, I am not my family. I've spent my entire tenre as king moving as far away from those damnable policies as the laws of the Underground allows."
"I understand, but she is no longer a child. Your grandmother was..."
Jareth glared at him. "My grandmother was the only being in all the worlds that gave a damn about me. But she also cursed me with this...this..."
"Heart?" Corwin suggested.
Jareth closed his eyes and leaned back.
She was the piece of his genetic line that was the source of this frustrating thing, this conscience that resided within him. The ability to feel, to care, that he had worked very hard to leave behind him. The very part Sarah stirred to life.
The reason he had to fight so hard to win the respect of his peers. His weakness he always tried to deny existed.
He saw first hand the cost of acknowledging it.
She died when he was young. Murdered to hide his origins. It was her nature that caused her suffering and death. He would not do that to another.
The thought of Sarah suffering so made his blood run cold. "It is for the best, Corwin. Even *if* I care for her, she is better off. Safer, happier, she can find a partner who can give her what I cannot. The price is too high."
Corwin continued. "They would leave her alone if you fully bonded her. She, at least would be safe from their judgment. At least inasmuch they wouldn't remove her from existence."
"I know that."
"Then remove the mark, wipe her memory. They couldn't find her at all."
"The punishment is coming either way." Jareth shrugged.
"But she'll be alive."
"I will never be allowed to see her again. She will be forbidden. I would never even know if she had a family, or be allowed to know when she dies."
Corwin paused. "And this matters to you?"
"Fucking hell, Corwin, yes it matters. If it didn't would we be here?"
"If I may speak freely, sire, I humbly suggest you figure out why it matters and how much longer you're willing to put off making a choice. I will fight them with you, whatever that choice is. Some things are meant to happen. We are a people who believes in fate, believes in a destiny. Maybe she is a part of yours. Maybe this is bigger than both of you. I believe she would be good for you."
"Corwin, please, just be quiet. I don't need two consciences. I can barely tolerate one."
The rest of the ride to the hotel was a quiet one.
A couple of hours later, Sarah closed her laptop and stood up to stretch. All her research so far confirmed what she all ready knew, the victims were wished away children who were given new lives in New Orleans. Some still lived in the area but some were just in town for Mardi Gras, which was probably why the killer chose now to start all of this terror and mayhem.
No one seemed to know the true meaning of the symbol left at the crime scenes though. Which was probably a good thing, or it meant the Anaithnidi had been erasing things to protect the Underground.
She grabbed a bottle of water from the mini fridge and sat at the table. Still no word from Corwin or Jareth, which had her starting to worry. Hearing her phone ring, she jumped up to grab it nearly knocking her bottle of water off the table. "Hello?"
"Sarah, you may be on to something." It was Samantha.
Sarah's disappointment was short lived. "Why? What did you find?"
"This Roberts guy was one sick puppy, but he wasn't adopted, at least not that I could find record of. He was arrested for animal cruelty, domestic violence, and they suspected him of being a serial killer, but they could never pin any on him. He did a year for animal cruelty and was released 3 years ago, that's it. "
Sarah sat up on the edge of the bed, listening intently, her hair standing on end. "Seriously? "
"Yea, seems wherever he went bodies were found over the last few years. And get this, all of them were missing their tongues." Samantha informed her.
"What?" Sarah opened her laptop and pulled up her email. "You sent me all this right?"
"Of course I did," her friend stated. "Its all there, every derail I dug up."
"What about the insignia? Was that there?" Sarah questioned.
"That's where it gets odd. The first murder I could find with that was Roberts, none of the crime scenes before had that symbol. Hell other than your murders down there I couldn't find anything about it at all."
Sarah nodded, even though Samantha couldn't see her. "Not surprised" she thought. "So is this a copy cat killer?"
"Could be, or your killer added to his signature. Maybe he killed Roberts so he wouldn't get credit for his kills." Samantha suggested.
"Maybe..." Sarah bit her nails. She had an idea, but Sam wasn't the person she needed to ask about it. "Thank you so much Sam. I owe you big time!"
"No problem, hon. Just send me a souvenir from your trip, and be careful. This killer is a nasty piece of work. Last thing you want is to find him."
"I'll be careful Sam and I'll get you something nice." Sarah said goodbye and hung up the phone. Tossing it on the bed, she began searching for information on the victims before Roberts. If he was responsible for the previous murders, why was he the first victim of the new killer? And why copy his signature? Sarah was certain she'd find the answer with one of his victims.
Glancing at the clock she saw it was a little after 3. She was supposed to stay put until she heard from Corwin.. "Oh well at least I have plenty to keep me busy." She sighed and continued her research.
An hour later the phone rang and Sarah snatched it up. "Hello!? "
"We are here safe, Sarah. Jareth says he will see you at 10pm sharp, and don't defy him. His words."
She could hear the smile.
"Tell him to remember what happened the last time he told me that. I'll see him at 10."
She hung up the phone before Corwin could relay what she knew would be an indignant reply.
Sarah changed into clean clothes except Jareth's shirt, and grabbed her bag and camera. She had some places to see. Not fun places, but the murder scenes. She wrote to locations down and mapped them out from farthest to closest.
She didn't even look to see if anyone was watching her in the lobby, just marched through it as if she knew exactly what she was doing. There was no sense in worrying about it now. If the Anaithnidí were already aware of her, there was little she could do to change that or to stop them from hunting her down, but for now she was here, alive and on to something important. Solving this might be last thing she would do, but damn straight she'd get it done. At least she could make damn sure no more innocents had to suffer at the hands of this nut job.
And at least she could do this much for Jareth. He protected her, so she could return the favor.
In a dark hotel room, a cloaked figure sat staring into a crystal. There with in the crystal was the image of Sarah Williams. "So she out wandering on her own," the figure sounded amused.
Behind her another cloaked figure appeared with a girl in servant's clothing. "Tell the master what you told me!" The man in the hood barked as he threw her at the figure watching Sarah.
She trembled in fear, but stood up. "She is the Lady Sarah, Champion of the Labyrinth."
"Champion you say?" The figure laughed. "There is no champion."
"I swear it to be true." The servant girl pleaded. "She beat the King and took her brother back home."
The crystal flew across the room and shattered against the wall. "WHAT!" The figure paced the room. Anger evident in the glowing eyes.
Grabbing the girl by her hair, the hooded figure yanked her up to her feet. "Tell me everything you know about this so called champion."
The girl nodded and proceeded to talk about everything she knew. How Sarah saved her brother, the King's infatuation with her, and why he marked her. These were rumors of course, but it made sense.
When the girl was done speaking, she looked around hopefully. "Can I go home now?"
The figure pulled back it's hood. "I'm sorry dear, but no. We can't take the chance now that you've crossed the barriers. But look at it this way, at least your miserable sniveling subservient life served a purpose. To destroy the Goblin King."
The girl's eyes widened as she watched the figure pull a knife from under its cloak with a sneer.
Sarah went to all but the last 2 murder sites and found next to nothing. A few splotches of dried blood a couple of spots on the wall where the painted over insignia's coloring could be seen. Nothing, nothing, nada.
She had one left that was a reported crime and then she would head over and look around at the place where the unreported crime had taken place. The poor woman who now would have been erased from history that no one would ever know about except her and Jareth.
I wonder why she wasn't erased from my memory, Sarah thought. Sarah felt sad for her, and her family. Their daughter, sister, wife, mother perhaps, they wouldn't remember. Sarah couldnt imagine how that worked. Being a child of a woman who didn't exist in time anymore.
She looked around and again found nothing. New Orleans itself was quick to reclaim these spaces. Garbage piled up quickly, and what happened was forgotten.
She then lastly trekked to that dark alley that was burned into her brain. It was physically as clean as it could be. Nothing remained of what happened...except... There was a glint of something around 20 feet away, and it was a simple shirt button. With a spot of blood on it. Maybe it flew far enough away and was so small it went unnoticed. It could be the victims or the killers, no way to know. She picked it up anyway.
She slipped it into her pocket and turned to leave as the sun was going down. As she exited the alley the hair stood up on the back of her neck and she paused.
Somebody somewhere was watching her but she saw no one. She walked faster hailing the first cab she saw. Glad to be away from the creepy place.
It was after 9pm when she got back to the hotel. She had stopped and bought a BBQ pork sandwich on the way because she hadn't eaten since breakfast and was starving.
When she got into the room she stripped out of her grimy clothes, took a shower and got into her pajamas, which were shorts and a tank top. She didn't bother with a bra.
Sarah then opened her laptop, hooked up her camera, and began to upload her photos while she ate, which was were she was when there was a sharp knock.
She wiped her hands and unlocked the door, opening it for Jareth.
"You really should ask who it is, Sarah." He said as he walked in with his usual swagger.
"It's 10 o' clock, Your Majesty. And hello to you too."
He looked her up and down, raising an eyebrow. "Aren't you chilly?"
"Not really, it's cool out there but the hotel is warm, and heat rises." She nonchalantly closed the computer, he didn't seem to be in any mood to hear her results so far, so decided to wait until the next day, after she could take a better look at the pictures. She picked up her sandwich. It dripped sauce down her arm as she bit into it.
"You're making a mess." He pointed out.
Sarah swallowed her food. "Do you have anything good to say or did you just come here to tell me I'm dumb, dress slutty, and have no manners?"
"That isn't what I meant." He sat down on the bed and sighed. "I apologize. I am very tired."
Sarah's irritation fled. "Yeah, I get that. Maybe you should go to your room and go to bed if there is nothing going on."
"I am not certain what is going on. I received word a maid has disappeared from my kingdom, and as of tonight, I'm not allowed to transport back, and neither is Corwin for at least the next 75 hours."
"Did they find out about him coming here?" she asked.
"Likely. But I needed him here. I had to do it. The Goblin Council is there to oversee things, and we've been doing a head count daily. A human maid is nowhere to be found."
Sarah almost choked on her bite of sandwich. "You don't like humans, but you have humans?"
"A small population, but yes. There were a few hundred who managed to be on the wrong side when the separation happened. There are a few small villages. Mostly they are left alone to govern themselves. Occasionally they get hired on elsewhere outside their people. Fae don't trust them typically, but she showed up needing a job a couple of years ago and my kingdom is one of few that is human friendly."
" She probably just left."Sarah finished her sandwich and went to the bathroom to wash her hands. When she came back Jareth was sprawled on the bed.
" Jareth, you can't sleep here."
"I know." He pushed himself up. "Anyway, My borders have been locked tight. How she got out..." He keep talking about the maid, and Sarah started to get worried.
Sarah picked up the hotel phone and asked for Jareth le Roi's room. Corwin answered. "Uh, You need to come get Jareth. He's babbling."
A few minutes later he was at the door, Sarah let him in gesturing to the bed.
"Sire, please, let me help you to the your rooms." He asked Jareth. The king looked exhausted.
Jareth pushed himself up, and stood. "No, I am fine. Wait outside."
Corwin and Sarah exchanged looks but he did as he was told.
"Sarah, I do apologize. I need to excuse myself. Stay in this hotel tonight. I mean it. I'll command Corwin to check on you periodically. Please answer your phone when it rings. Your room is shielded. Good night, Sarah."
He kissed her on the forehead and left.
Sarah locked the door and got back to work.
After an hour of going through the photos, Sarah had found very little. All the scenes were alleys off major roads, all the insignias were on walls above the bodies, in some cases the blood insignias were probably what lead to the bodies being found so fast. The victims weren't posed or moved as far as she could tell. "There has to be something I'm missing..."
Sarah got up to make a pot if coffee. She had no intention of turning in just yet. She was determined to figure this out.
Just as she turned on the coffee maker, the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Apologies, Sarah, his majesty asked that I check on you. I tried to tell him you were probably resting, but he insisted." Corwin stated.
"Corwin!" She could hear Jareth in the background. Other than calling his aide's name she couldn't make out anything he said though.
Shaking her head, Sarah smiled. "Its fine, Corwin. I'm still up. I will be for several more hours. Tell his grumpiness that I'm fine and that he should be resting and feel free to quote me on that one."
She heard Corwin relay the message and laughed at his response. "His majesty says and I quote 'I am not grumpy, you insufferable woman, and I command you to go to bed.'" Corwin sighed. "Please forgive him, Sarah. I'm afraid he's not quite himself at the moment."
"Oh no, he sounds like the Goblin King I know quite well." She chuckled. "Tell his grace I'll go to bed when he does, and before he can say it, tell him not to be a pervert. Now I'm going to hang up Corwin, but after you get grumpy butt tucked in I'd like to speak to you in private, Corwin. I have a few questions you might be able to help with."
"Perhaps you should speak..."
"He's not very helpful at the moment. Its nothing personal, just a few things about the victims and how all this relocating the children works." Sarah explained.
"Very well, Sarah. I shall speak with you tomorrow perhaps. My King needs me here to watch over him and he is my priority ." By his tone she knew there was no arguing.
Sarah sighed, frustrated. "Yeah, okay, later."
She hung up the phone and made her cup of coffee. She could almost picture the look on Jareth's face when Corwin delivered her last message, especially the part about not being a pervert. Thinking of Jareth, she remembered the kiss on her forehead before he left. "Wish I knew what was going through that complicated, egotistical mind of his."
Sarah must have fallen asleep at some point. When she woke her face was against her open laptop, the impression of the keys making her cheek sting, and the crook in her back reminding her humans shouldn't sleep hunched over. The whine of the hard drive and the early morning sun suggested she'd been in that position for a few hours
She had just closed the lid to power it off when she noticed something on the desk.
Among the brochures she'd picked up on her first day, and forgotten about promptly thanks to his royal pain, was one for tours of some of New Orleans' famous cemeteries.
Given the sea level, New Orleans' cemeteries boasted some of the most elaborate and beautifully sculpted mausoleums. The brochure in question featured a pic of one such tomb.
She grabbed it and squinted at it - her bleary eyes widening in recognition. A small symbol was carved into one arch, almost lost among the cherubs and crucifixes. It was the same symbol found at the murder scenes. The same symbol Jareth wore round his neck.
Sarah picked up the phone and dialed Jareth. There was no answer. She took a quick shower and changed, and then tried again.
Knocking on his door ten minutes later produced no answer either. He'd been exhausted and she didn't want to press him... Sarah was not the patient kind however.
He'd said keep to the tourist spots. Clutching the brochure, she nodded to herself.
She'd conquered a labyrinth after all, she could take a very public guided tour by herself.
Chapter 10: A King's Haunted Past
Sarah packed her camera and headed off to the Saint Louis Cemetery.
When she arrived, she joined a group and walked around the cemetery trailing them. She wasn't paying much attention to the tour guide, she was busy taking pictures of everything she could. The tour was moving too fast for her to really examine things.
Then she saw it, the arch from the brochure . She snapped pictures as fast as she could and noticed there was only one grave near the arch. A small tomb lock up tight. "Excuse me!" Sarah called to the tour guide.
"Yes?" He sounded annoyed to be interrupted during his well rehearsed speech .
"Who is buried here?" Sarah asked pointing to the lonely tomb marked with a statue of a...fairy?
"No one knows," the tour guide responded. "It's probably the oldest grave here and the name has worn off. All anyone knows is that she was someone of importance. Now as I was saying..."
Sarah took more photos of the grave and ran her finger over the symbol carved into the arch. This had to be connected to Jareth somehow, she knew it.
Running to catch up to the rest of the group, Sarah kept taking pictures, she didn't want to miss anything.
The rest of the tour was relatively boring, but Sarah tried to fake interest. As they were leaving the cemetery, Sarah felt a chill run down her spine and felt once again like she was being watched. Glancing around, she saw a dark hooded figure glaring at her from the main gate. The breeze picked up and blew the hood back as Sarah watched.
The woman was tall, slender and wore a dark dress. She was of indeterminable age. She looked young and old at the same time and her eyes looked almost black. Sarah moved closer to the rest of the group, not wanting to be alone. As they walked out the gate, the woman's eyes followed Sarah and she smirked when Sarah avoided making eye contact with her.
As fast as she could, Sarah grabbed a cab and hurried back to the hotel. As she was about to enter her room, a hand was placed on her shoulder causing her to jump and let out a small scream.
"Relax, Sarah, it's just me." Corwin said trying to calm her. "Where have you been? I came by last night once Jareth was in a deep sleep but there was no answer. His majesty has asked me to check on you multiple times, I called but you didn't answer."
"I tried calling Jareth and knocked on his door. Is he refusing to answer me now?"
"Apologies, I should have told you he stayed in my room last night. He worried someone might look for him in his room."
Sarah nodded. "Makes sense." She opened the door. "Come on in I have a few things to show you and I need you to tell me everything you know." She ushered him in and closed the door behind them, locking it.
Sarah gestured for Corwin to sit down and told her everything she'd discovered so far.
He listened in amazement at her findings, impressed by her efforts.
"I see why Jareth likes you. You're very clever and persistent."
Corwin stopped at the pictures of the old tomb. He, of course knew who it was for, but still wavered telling her. This was Jareth's past, a past that had been buried with his grandmother. No one else knew of it but him and Corwin now.
Jareth's father Gareth died in battle soon after Jareth had become king, and his mother never knew much about her husband's heritage or cared, since she was forced into it. Her father wanted her to marry a warrior and breed a son of warrior stock for his heir.
Gareth had taken pity and had let his mother live within the kingdom and see her grandson. Jaele, Jareth's Fae mother, wasn't interested in knowing her mother in law and didn't know she was a hybrid, she just thought the woman common. She wasn't royal and Jaele was not one to socialize with "Common Fae" as she called them.
Jaele remarried and moved to another Kingdom shortly after Gareth's violent end, barely acknowledging her son even when they were in the same room, leaving him to her father to raise and train as the next Goblin King. She had hated her first husband and now had the genteel courtly life she preferred.
Jareth's grandfather had died when Jareth was barely out of adolescence. He was challenged almost constantly for the first years of his reign, usurpers thinking he was young and weak. He proved them all wrong.
Jareth's great grandmother and father were also dead, killed in a coup. He did have a couple of uncles, his grandmother's brothers, but they didn't even know they were related to Jareth. They had no idea what had happened to their sister, that she went on to have a son who fathered a king.
Corwin had been Jareth's companion since childhood, his father being Jareth's mother's half sibling by a servant her father bedded, who had only been a quarter Fae. He, too, was a hybrid, trained to be Jareth's loyal aide until death. He didn't mind, because Jareth was like a brother.
"This is The Goblin Kingdom's symbol, right?" Sarah asked. He returned his focus to her.
"It looks to be, yes." He avoided Sarah's eyes.
"You know don't you. Corwin..."
He stood up. "You need to show Jareth these things, and ask him. I can't betray him Sarah. You don't understand the dynamics between a King and his attendant. Betraying my king is betraying the kingdom. In the underground they are one and the same. It's tantamount to high treason."
Corwin exaggerated a bit, and knew short of attempting regicide Jareth wouldn't have him killed. Certainly not for something such as telling Sarah the truth, but it went against every bit of training he'd learned, and Jareth's temper could be mercurial at the very least.
" Fine. I'll just have to find out myself."
" I should get back. Jareth will be rising soon. He will demand my presence. Good day, Sarah."
He bowed and left.
Sarah scanned through the pics some more while glancing at her watch; patience never was her strong suit.
Before she thought better of it she was again outside the Goblin King's door. He answered on the second knock, apparently having risen and returned to his room. Her eyes immediately dropped to the low slung towel, barely clinging to narrow hips.
Not again. I must have radar.
"Uh..." She trailed off as she watched a droplet disappear beneath the terry cloth.
He propped an arm on the upper door frame, the towel slipping another perilous inch. "Cat got your tongue, Sarah dear?"
Sarah's eyes snapped back up to his face. "Do you need a moment to get dressed?"
Jareth offered her a sly grin. "I think this might be the first time a woman has ever asked me to put on more clothes. You seem to skilled at barging me nearly nude. What is this, the third time? Some would say it's no accident, precious. " He teased. He then turned back into the room, leaving the door open in a silent invitation to follow.
Sarah had barely made it into the entryway when the towel dropped. Her eyes hit the ceiling, but not before catching a glance of lithely muscled thighs and a very firm looking ass.
She could hear the sound of clothes rustling. "I want to talk to you about your amulet."
"Another first. You want to discuss jewelry while I'm naked."
Sarah snorted. "I saw it on a tomb today. A woman's tomb." The answering silence forced her to look at him.
He was fully dressed but his face was a mess of emotions Sarah couldn't begin to decipher. He said nothing and looked away, slowly shrugging in his suit jacket.
"Whose tomb is it?"
When he still said nothing and fiddled with his collar, Sarah frowned. "Someone important to you I'm guessing. Someone... human? I'm going back to get another look. Without a group of tourists this time. I've got a feeling this is somehow connected. It would be a lot easier if you came with me."
He sighed, finally answering. "And if I say no and tell you not to go back, am I to assume you'll go anyway?"
"Always so defiant," he said, sounding resigned.
She couldn't decide if he'd meant it as a criticism or a compliment, but he followed her out the door either way.
The trip to the cemetery was laden with a fraught silence. Jareth's face was still a roiling mix of emotions, unusual for someone who wore a mask so easily.
The tours had stopped for the day so they passed only a few lone tourists, most having left to seek more 'lively' pursuits.
Jareth took the lead through the maze of sepulchers, his only admittance that he knew of its existence. That Sarah was somehow right.
He stood a moment before it, hands folded in his pockets.
Sarah desperately wanted to ask him her questions.
Was it an old lover, a wife?
The cant of his head and the emotions in his eyes kept her silent.
And then the Goblin King swore softly, his brow creasing in anger. Sarah followed his eyes.
The entrance door was slightly ajar, the stone cracked as though it had been pried open.
"It... I'm sure it wasn't like this before." Her mind immediately returned to the strange woman she'd seen earlier. The one watching her.
Before she could mention it the Goblin King pushed open the door and entered the tomb briskly. Both terrified and intrigued, Sarah could only follow.
The smell inside was stale, old, loamy... but overlaying it was something out of place in a tomb so old. The smell of rot. Of flesh not ancient bone.
A stone coffin was set into the far wall, covered in dust and web. Untouched in centuries save for the bloody mass styled atop of it. With horror Sarah realized they were human tongues.
She wanted to leave. To go anywhere away from the stench of death. She felt sick.
So naturally that was when the stone door slammed shut.
Sarah pounded on the stone and screamed for a good 5 minutes. As her eyes adjusted, thanks to a couple of glass inlays at each end of the ceiling, she could make out Jareth's outline near the coffin.
"Sarah, don't waste your energy. The groundskeeper leaves at 6. He would be the only one with the key."
She leaned against the door. "You're way too calm. Can't you poof us out?"
"No. They've thought ahead. There's something blocking my magic. Perhaps a spell or an iron cross, or both."
"So we're stuck in here until...whenever, with a pile of bloody tongues. Great."
"I've seen worse things."Jareth walked towards her. "6am is when they unlock the gates. Come."
He led her to the a spot close to the door and as far from the disgusting display they were trapped with.
He urged her to sit then sat next to her.
"Why do I let you drag me into these things, woman. The only place in all of the above I try to avoid and now I'm trapped inside. Really Sarah, you are tremendously gifted at getting into the most dire of circumstances."
"Well excuse me. I'm just trying to help you, remember?"
"Yes. I made a very large error in judgment. I should not have come to you. I realize that now."
"Jareth...don't say that. Knowing everything I know, I'm glad you did."
"There is much more you don't know. I'm still not sure if you should."
"Can't you at least tell me who this is for? Just so I don't drive you crazy about it?"
He smiled at her. "Knowingly you that's true. Alright."
He took a deep breath and the words spilled out. "Her name was Esme. She was my grandmother. Born in the underground to my great grandfather and his human child bride, and was one herself, except she was no bride. She wasn't afforded that luxury. She was my grandfather's slave, a toy. Her father sold her to my grandfather. She slept in the dirt. She was considered nothing. Then she got with child, and they gave her bed. She had my father at the aboveground equivalent of 13 years of age. For that, she was murdered by my father, her own son, because of me. To protect my precious heritage. "
He paused as the memories came and for once he let them.
" She was the only soul in the entire underground who cared about me, for me. Even, at the time, Corwin, who was commanded to be my companion and aide, not asked. She wanted nothing from me except my time with her."
He swallowed hard to push his emotions back down.
" After my father, her murderer, was killed, and my grandfather died, I removed her remains from the underground, brought her to her ancestral home and buried her. I left her here with my entire past family history, and dedicated myself to being The Goblin King."
" I'm sorry Jareth." Sarah quietly responded.
He got up and walked to the small coffin. It dawned on her, an odd thought to have in that moment, his grandmother was not very big. The coffee was at most a made for someone no taller than 5 feet tall. She kept it to herself.
He put a hand on it, avoiding the viscous pile of flesh and blood on top, and stayed that way for a while.
The he stood straightened his shoulders, and came back. "No need for sorries, Sarah. It's long past. Nothing to be done at this point. Let's just sit and perhaps try to rest here. I'm holding out hope Corwin may figure out where we went and get us out before the morning."
"Okay," Sarah answered. "Corwin was forced to work with you?
Jareth smiled slightly." Yes, but he became a fine companion and trusted aide."
Sarah poked him in the side." Don't forget a good friend. They're hard to find." She reminded him.
He nodded in agreement.
Corwin is indeed a good friend, he though to himself.
Later, Sarah had fallen asleep on his shoulder, so Jareth was left with his thoughts.
He had asked her to tell him about her life and he had let her ramble on for 3 hours occasionally asking a question to fill the spaces.
He hadn't really minded.
She told him about her schooling, her brother, funny anecdotes, whatever came to mind. He had liked hearing about all those things he'd missed knowing about her.
Yet he knew she was just distracting herself and him. She'd found some life savers and gum in her bag and shared them with him. He tried to remember if he'd ever had a life saver before.
The Goblin King hated being here. And someone had come here and deliberately dishonored his Gra'mere, as he had called her. A waterfall of sweet memories had come with the terrible ones. Things he shut away, deliberately forgot.
Her blue-green eyes that crinkled in the corners when he made her laugh making jokes. The games they played in her tiny, well kept garden and ratty one room, yet tide and cozy, cottage on the edge of the kingdom. He recalled using his magic to make her flowers grow.
She was more a playmate really. Knowing now her youth was stunted, she was forever childlike because of her abuse at the hands of many. But she still smiled and never dwelled, she sang and danced and her eyes sparkled with life. She lavished him with love and affection. His schooling and training was harsh and regimented, but when he slipped away to Gra'mere's cottage, she always had sweets and hugs and kisses waiting for her beloved petit fils.
Then came the unpleasant memories again, and that burning hatred for his father that drove him.
"No, I will not think of that. Not *here.*
Sarah shifted and wrapped her arm over him, so he put his over her shoulder. She snuggled into him for warmth.
"I said it before and I'll say it again, Sarah, you'll be the death of me one of these days." He murmured into her hair. She smelled of vanilla, and he found the scent calming.
She mumbled something unintelligible and rubbed her face on his chest.
Jareth leaned back, closed his eyes and continued to wait, plotting what he would do to those who were the perpetrators of this mess.
Chapter 11: Traps
Back at the hotel, Corwin was frantically pacing his room. It had been hours since he heard from Jareth or Sarah. At first he assumed they were together having dinner, probably in one of their rooms, as Jareth didn't want to be seen with her in public now for her safety. He tried calling both rooms multiple times with no answer. Deciding he had to make sure they were alright, he first went to the King's room.
"Knowing my luck I'll find him naked and brooding" he thought to himself. For some odd reason Jareth liked to stay in the shower or bath for hours, just thinking. It wasn't always a bad thing, but it was rarely a good thing for someone who had angered him. "Majesty?" He called as he knocked on the door.
When he got no answer on the third attempt he pulled out the key. He hated barging into his room, but he had to be sure. Inside Corwin found a towel on the floor, discarded after his shower most likely. The room was empty and there was no note or anything to indicate where the King may be.
Getting a sense of foreboding, Corwin hurried to Sarah's room. "Sarah!" He banged on her door, internally pleading to whatever god would listen to please let them be there, safe and sound.
Apparently the gods weren't listening. Using a tiny bit of magic, he unlocked the door and rushed in. Inside he found brochures scattered on her bed, there were hand written notes beside her laptop, which upon further inspection was still on with the photos she had shown him up on the screen.
One photo in particular caught his eye. The tomb she had asked him about, the one he knew belonged to Jareth's grandmother. "Surely she wouldn't... Not alone..." Picking up the brochure he shook his head. "Yes, yes she would."
He headed for the door quickly, knowing very well that Jareth either accompanied her or found what she was investigating and raced after her. "Only Sarah could get my King to go there. He'd follow her to hell and back if needed to keep her safe."
By the time Corwin reached the cemetery, it was early morning, somewhere around 2am. It had taken a while to hail a cab and even then he didn't get far, the bars and clubs emptying of people and slowing traffic to a crawl. Giving up, he paid the man and got out and ran the rest of the way, the feeling of dread growing with each step he took.
The main gate, which should have been shut tight and locked, was open and had obviously, to him at least, been opened with magic
Corwin moved silently through the graves to the back, where the oldest tombs were. He hadn't ever been here but knew where it was.
Finally it appeared in front of him, the tomb of stone Jareth himself had created.
And the giant black mark across the door told him everything he needed to know, that a magical being was trapped inside by ancient dark magic of the underground.
It was locked but that was a simple enough trick, it was the black triangle he needed to remove. He could smell the wicked intent in the air.
The black dust was made of ground goblin bone, burned fairy wings, and Fae ash, among various underground herbs, then infused with a powerful binding spell, and required human blood to work. These ingredients were not easy to aquire, a few near impossible. The magic it used forbidden to even learn, much less use.
Someone had been very naughty indeed.
"Sire?" He called, getting as close as he could, and trying not to be too loud. He touched the iron door and it burned through his glove.
An efficient trap.
"Corwin?" He heard a faint voice.
"Oh thank the Gods. I found you. Is Sarah there?"
"I'm here."She answered.
Corwin explained the mark and heard Jareth swear in their language.
" Corwin you need to break the triangle. But it will hurt. Use your silver knife and make a cut on your hand, then run your bloody palm over the triangle, breaking the seal." Jareth told him through the door.
He then heard the two arguing in whispers. Corwin assumed Sarah was expressing her distaste.
" There is no other way, stop arguing with me at every turn, woman. " He heard Jareth say.
" It's fine, Sarah. I'll be okay." Corwin answered.
He grabbed his knife out of the sheath at his waist and hissed as the blade cut through his skin.
He took a deep breath, put his hand over the mark and did as he was instructed.
It's burned, his skin sizzled and blistered as he pushed his hand against the mark and moved it downward as if wiping it off.
"Son of a..." he gritted his teeth and kept going.
A few minutes later, with his burnt hand still on the door he grabbed the handle with his good hand and twisted it, using a bit of magic to break the lock.
The door popped open and he fell, clutching his injured hand to his chest.
Then Jareth and Sarah were there leaning over him as his eyes watered from the pain.
"Oh my God! Jareth we need to get him to a hospital."
"And how would that go over dear, explaining to a human doctor he burned his hand breaking a binding spell to let a Fae King out of a tomb accompanied by an irritating mortal?"
"Listen, you glittery bastard..."
The continued to argue over him for several minutes more.
"Listen you two! My hand is throbbing and I'd really just like to get back to the hotel! Do you both mind saving this until later?! I'm half Fae for fucks sake it'll be healed in a few hours!"
"Sorry." Sarah said. "Let's get back, and report the...well that." She gestured into the open tomb.
"Fine." Jareth agreed with a huff.
They helped him up and Sarah managed to hail a cab outside the gates. Corwin sat between them in the cab, his arm wrapped in Sarah's sweatshirt to shield it from view.
The driver kept giving them odd looks but being as it's New Orleans at Mardi Gras shrugged it off as just another bunch of weirdos visiting the city.
When they got back they all went to Sarah's room and Sarah made Corwin lay on the bed as they all tried to reconcile the events of the night.
Despite Corwin's insistence that he didn't need bandages, Sarah was determined to clean and wrap his hand using the supplies in the first aid kit. Looking to Jareth for help, the King simply shook his head. "I've argued with this stubborn woman enough for one night. Just let her do it."
Sighing, Corwin held his injured hand out for her to see. Sarah unwrapped it from her sweatshirt and cringed seeing how badly blistered and swollen his hand was. "My god," she tossed her sweatshirt behind her and grabbed the peroxide.
"Sorry about your sweater, Sarah. I promise I'll get you a new one." Corwin said through gritted teeth as he tried not to cry out as she cleaned his hand.
"Not necessary." Sarah assured him. "You rescued us. Who knows what would have happened if you didn't find us."
"How did you find us?" Jareth asked as he sat in a chair by the bed.
"Sarah asked me... about me about the tomb earlier... Gods that stuff stings." Corwin answered as he watched Sarah work on his hand.
She blew on it gently, which helped a little. "Sorry, but that means its working. Just a little more."
Jareth watched as Sarah continued working on poor Corwin's hand. "So you knew about the tomb before you came to fetch me?"
"I knew the symbol was there and that it must be connected to you." Sarah replied. "I asked Corwin, because I saw him first, but he refused to say a word. Just told me to talk to you."
Jareth patted Corwin's leg and gave him a slight nod in thanks. He knew Corwin would always keep his secrets. "Yes, well I'm not sure how I feel after visiting the tomb."
"Please tell me something came of this other than you two being locked in there and my hand being injured."
"We know the killer is definitely seeking to hurt me in everyway he can. He or she defiled Gra'mere's tomb." His eyes were filled with hatred just thinking about it.
"All the tongues from the victims were on her coffin." Sarah explained as she carefully wrapped Corwin's hand in gauze.
Corwin muttered under his breath and shook his head. "Defiling tombs, murders, and black magic... just who the devil is this evil thing?"
"Someone who has a death wish." Jareth stood and walked to the door. "I'm going to get us some food and ensure everything is secure here."
He opened the door giving one last command. "Sarah, stay here. Corwin see that she listens for once."
He closed the door and Sarah stuck her tongue out in the direction of the door. "Glittery prick."
Shaking his head, Corwin shook his head. "I take it, being locked in there together did not improve things between you."
Sarah sighed. "No, I guess not. He's so damn confusing. One minute he's acting all high and mighty and the next he's kind and I think he's opening up to me just for him to push me away again." She stood and paced the room. "Not sure what bothers me more, his attitude or not being able to solve this case."
She finished cleaning his hand and wrapped it with the bandage.
"I thank you, Sarah." He said. "Jareth...you just have to give him time."
She went to the bathroom, washed her hands face and returned to he chair. "Yeah, maybe...he told me about her."
Corwin sat up in surprise. "About his grandmother? That's unexpected. If he told you about that, he must have a great deal of trust in you. You're very special to him."
"I had no idea he's a hybrid."
"He really isn't. He's the grandson of one. There's a difference between half and being a lower percentage. It's hard to explain. Fae blood is so strong that if it's the slightest bit stronger it basically takes over. Taking the Oath of Kings Queens, going through that process, eradicated anything that was left. Yet...not many full Fae have a conscience as strong he does. There is still something that is altered by it. It all leads back to her. He learned kindness from her and a bit of it stuck, despite him trying very hard to rid himself of it. "
Sarah had to ask." Did you know her? "
" I met her once as a child. Typically I was not allowed. No one was but I snuck away with Jareth once. Then...well she was dead soon after."
" He told me you are related." Sarah said as she stood and went to the table.
Corwin sat up and swing his long legs over the side." Yes, his mother and my father are half siblings. Technically we share the same grandfather, the former Goblin King. Then my father, who was considered hybrid, impregnated a changeling servant. It boils down to I'm considered half Fae, and I'm Jareth's biological half cousin on his mother's side. Not Fae enough to be royal, but I was considered a good choice to be the Prince's companion and aide, which is a tradition in my world for royal children."
He could see Sarah's mind working and continued. "Bloodlines are very complicated and often rather arbitrary on who is royalty and who isn't. Don't trouble yourself with it."
" I can't believe his father killed her. That's terrible." She observed, recalling Jareth's shared memories from the night before.
" He was not a nice man. Now, perhaps we should stop talking about it before Jareth catches us. He warned me against telling you his past. He'll be back shortly."
Nodding, Sarah grabbed her laptop. "Fine, but I do have some questions that you might be able to answer. Now Jareth told me wished away kids are given new lives and their memories are wiped." She sat by Corwin and pulled up the files she had on all the victims.
"That's correct. The wisher is either kept as a servant or sent home with no memory of the baby or the underground." Corwin added.
"What decides if the wisher goes home or becomes a servant?"
"If they give up or not." Corwin stated. "If they take the King's offer of their dreams then they go home. If they continue to fight until the 13 hours are up, they usually become a servant. Some are kept in his majesty's kingdom, others are sent elsewhere."
"You said usually."
Corwin smiled softly. "Yes, well there was one girl who fought to the very end and defeated our King with only seconds to spare." He placed his hand over hers. "She was a special circumstance and a special girl."
Sarah blushed slightly and turned the screen so he could see it. "Well I have a theory, and what I saw at the tomb tonight makes me believe I'm on the right track." She brought up a picture of Roberts. "Would you know if these people were wished away children if I showed you a picture or gave you their name?"
"Perhaps. I did help his majesty relocate a few hundred babies." Corwin said as she looked at her computer.
"A few hundred?!" Sarah's eyes bugged out. "How often are babies wished away?"
"Not as many as there used to, but we still get 20 or so I year I suppose." Corwin stated as he rubbed his chin. "My first year as the King's aid we handled 130 wished aways."
"How long have you been his aide?" Sarah was almost afraid to hear the answer.
Corwin smirked, "If you're trying to figure out mine or the King's ages, you're better off not thinking about it. Fae are practically Immortal. A human year to us goes by in a flash. So let's just say I've been with his majesty for a long time. Now I believe you had some photos to show me?"
"Right," Sarah nodded and handed him the computer. "Do you know this man, Cliff Roberts?"
Corwin studied the photo, "No, sorry. He wasn't a wished away, at least not one I dealt with. You'll have to ask the King." Corwin handed her the computer back. "So what is your theory?"
"Alright, this gets a bit complicated, so bare with me." Sarah grabbed a notebook and a pen and started writing and drawing shapes. "Okay, all over the country in last couple of years there were 9 murders, all ages, races, and types. They all had their tongues cut out."
"So our killer has been at this for at least two years?" Corwin asked.
"No, I don't think so. These first murders didn't have Jareth's insignia by the bodies. According to my sources, Roberts was the number 1 suspect until he was murdered in the exact same way. But the insignia showed up by his body." Sarah explained.
"So he was the first to be used to frame his majesty?" Corwin was trying to follow her train of thought.
"Yes, but I also believe he was the first victim of a new killer."
"So there are two killers?"
"Technically one," Sarah stated. "Roberts is dead." She pulled up a new photo on her laptop. "Do you know Mark Hawthorne?"
Corwin studied the photo, "Yes I remember him." He grinned but then immediately frowned. He was a wished away babe. I found him a home here in town."
"He was the last victim without the insignia." Sarah grinned as her theory started to come together. "Was there anything special about him?"
"Not particularly, his sister lost and offered to trade places with him. She was traded away, can't recall who she ended up with though." Corwin stood and paced the room trying to remember. "So what exactly are you thinking?"
"Is it possible someone who cared about Mark or another wished away is out for revenge? I want to say Mark because he was the last victim before they tried to frame Jareth."
"It's possible, but improbable. What motive would a Fae have? And no human could pull all this off." He argued.
Sighing, Sarah ran her hand through her hair. "Its all got to be connected. The murders, the tomb, Jareth, that creepy woman..."
"What woman?" Corwin stopped pacing to stare at Sarah.
"When I was leaving the cemetery there was this woman glaring at me. It gave me the creeps." Sarah told him.
"Why didn't you mention this before?"
"I honestly forgot about her." Sarah shrugged. "She didn't follow me out, I made sure of that.
"What did she look like? ," Corwin demanded.
"Hold on..." Sarah went through her photos searching. "Ah, here she is."
Corwin's face paled, "It can't be..."
"You know her?"
Nodding, Corwin sat down. "That's Mark's older sister, the one who wished him away."
"But she looks my age, and Mark Hawthorne was...hang on...he was 62. So this would have happened what, nearly 60 years ago up here?"
Corwin nodded. "Elizabeth. She was sent to another kingdom. I don't know what happened to her after that, but times moves differently, and she could have bonded to a Fae and become a changeling."
"But how did she get back?"
"That is a very good question. But by that binding spell on the tomb, something tells me whatever she did involves some serious dark magic training and basically trading in any bit of her humanity to do it. So this goes higher than her but to what or who I couldn't say. Seeing those murders, it does not surprise me."
Jareth came in with several sacks of food from a nearby restaurant just then.
"I hope you are both hungry I brought a bit of everything. I also called the police about the tomb, saying I was visiting, saw the door open, peeked in, and saw some kind of bloody mess inside, and fled."
He sat everything down on the table and noticed Sarah and Corwin's grim looks.
" What is it. What has happened? Another murder? " he was instantly on alert.
" Sit down Jareth, we need to talk." Sarah told him." We can eat as we fill you in on some things."
As they ate, Sarah told Jareth her theory and explained what she and Corwin had just discovered about Elizabeth and her brother. As Jareth listened as she explained everything, he maintained a neutral expression. When she finished, he wiped his mouth with a napkin and closed the box he had been eating out of.
"So let me see if I undestand all of this. Elizabeth, who offered to stay in the Underground in her brother's place, managed to learn black magic after she was moved elsewhere and came above, most likely to find her brother. But the child, now named Mark, had been murdered. So Elizabeth started killing wished aways in the same way her brother was killed?"
"Correct." Sarah nodded.
"But why frame his majesty?" Corwin questioned. "And why defile the tomb?"
"She blames Jareth and wants to hurt him." Sarah answered as she looked at the King.
"But his majesty didn't kill her brother," Corwin stated.
"No, but she doesn't see it that way." Sarah put her fork down and took a sip of water. "When I ran the Labyrinth I blamed Jareth for everything. I thought he kidnapped Toby and he was doing everything to keep him from me. But the truth is if anything had happened to Toby it would have been my fault, not his. I asked that Toby be taken. Jareth simply did as I asked."
Grinning, Jareth reached across the table to place his hand over Sarah's. "You've matured a lot since you ran my Labyrinth."
"I have and I learned to take responsibility for my actions. Elizabeth hasn't figured that out yet."
Jareth stood up and looked out the window.
"I do all I can to be certain all wish aways and all those runners who chose to stay underground remain safe. Some who chose to stay end up servants elsewhere, true, but often they are taken to the human villages and left as well, set free after a time. I work within the set rules and boundaries I'm given. I am sorry she didn't find underground life as satisfying as perhaps she thought it would be. I am also sorry her brother was killed, but I did all I could do. Now I have to end her, I have no choice, or see my entire kingdom suffer."
" We need to go to the Anaithnidí and tell them." Sarah said.
" Sarah you need to stay as far away from the Anaithnidí as possible. I alone will deal with that. They could just...and I wouldn't be able to stop them. Once all this is settled I will go to the council and do what I can. Do what I must. If at some point...well there very well could be a time soon where you may not be able to contact me any longer. Just know my decision was the best I could do."
Corwin got up and cleared his throat." I need to go check a few things in my room. Please excuse me."
He left them alone, knowing the needed to talk without him present.
Sarah knew he did all he could do.
He told her once he never killed without a good reason, and she believed that to be true.
He had his own kind of honor. It wasn't what most would find honorable.
But she was no ordinary girl.
"Jareth, don't say that."
"Don't say what Sarah? Did you somehow think we would be bosom buddies? That we could just...as humans say...hang out? Do lunch?"
She had moved closer to him, and in one movement he had her shoulders clutched in his hands, his eyes blazing.
"Sarah, you're incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, if you don't think the likes of me isn't incredibly dangerous to your wellbeing. I'm restraining myself due to my respect for you, and that you have been helpful to me because I asked it of you, so I will protect you as I gave my word by our agreement. If I were any other Fae or you were any other human, this story would not end well for you. If you simply manage to survive and go and live your life, consider yourself lucky."
" Jareth, if you don't think I know better than that by now, you're the stupid one. And let me go." She shoved him back and his hands dropped.
"Terrible, stubborn woman!" He was now gesturing wildly as he ranted. "You never listen! You're obstinate! Defiant, Argumentative! Why do I care! I should just let you go right ahead full steam and pay the price!"
He knocked the chair over, then flopped on the edge of the bed and ran his hand through his hair. "I will say it yet again, you'll mean my death one way or another someday."
"Are you done?" Sarah stood in front of him, her arms crossed.
Slowly he got up. When he was eye level he stared at her, an avian tilt to his head.
Sarah remembered then he could shift into an owl, and he was looking at her as if she was a tasty little mouse.
" I'm done Sarah. Done with all of this. I'll take your information and do what needs to be done. When it's over, I'll send word. I will remove my mark, I will take my punishment. Then we will be free of each other."
"That's not what I want." Sarah answered.
"Not that it matters, precious, but out of curiosity, what is it that you want? A reward? Money? Fame? You shall have it. I care not."
Much to his surprise, she grabbed his shirt, jerked him close and pressed her lips to his.
He tried to resist, but by the gods, Sarah was kissing him, and he wasn't going to stop her. He had wanted it far too long.
He returned the kiss, groaning as she opened her mouth and he tasted her. She answered his groan with one of her own.
Sarah smiled against his lips when he started to return the kiss. She let go of his shirt and wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling his hands on her back, clutching at her as the kiss deepened.
A few minutes later he shoved her away. "Sarah..." they stood there staring at each other for a good minute until he moved past her and went to the door.
"I thought you wanted..." Sarah couldn't finish the sentence.
"You thought I wanted to take you to bed. I did...I do. But Sarah, it can't be just that now. You know this. We are past that now. If things could be different..."
"What if they could be?" She asked quietly.
He turned away from the door. "But they can't. I can't let my...I need to go before we do something that we should not do. If I stay here another minute I'll damn the consequences and take you over and again until we're both too exhausted to move. Goodnight, Sarah."
He opened the door and left her there alone.
Sarah paced the room shaking her head. She wasn't sure if she wanted to scream or laugh. After everything they'd been through, did he really expect her to simply move on with her life and pretend none of it happened? To just forget him?
Picking up the chair he had knocked over, she intended to set it up right, but instead she threw it across the room. It hit the table and knocked all the papers off. A single tear made its way down her cheek as she sat on the edge of the bed. "Arrogant fool." She muttered to herself. Though she wasn't completely sure if she meant him or herself.
Looking at the mess she had made, she sighed and went to start picking things up. As she reached for the map, she froze. She had marked the locations of all the murders on it, but never noticed what she now saw. Grabbing a pen, she began to connect the dots, literally.
She grinned as she realized two things. One, the dots formed the shaped of Jareth's insignia on the map. Two, she now knew where the next murder would occur.
She quickly gathered all her papers and started to run to let Jareth know her newly discovered information, but she stopped before she grabbed the door. "If I were any other human..."
She wasn't any other human, though, and she was going to prove that to him once and for all. Grabbing her laptop she sat on the bed. "I won't let him do this alone. We're in this together, whether he likes it or not."
She knew first hand iron hurt the Fae, poor Corwin was proof of that. While it wouldn't be guaranteed accurate information online, seeing Fae were supposed to be myths, she was going to find a way to kill one, and she was going to deal with this Elizabeth bitch before anyone else could get hurt.
Chapter 12: Hell Hath No Fury
It was nearly morning, and Sarah couldn't sleep anyway, so she left the hotel and slunk around the corner as dawn was breaking to see if the little coffee shop was open. It wasn't, but she saw a light on in the back.
She turned and began to walk away to go in search of another place to get coffee, when the bell on the door jingled and the heavily lined face of Madame Bertrille poked out. "Ahh there ya are cher, come in come in. Coffee jus' about done."
Sarah followed her inside and sat down. Madame brought her a mug of coffee and poured one for herself.
"Now, tell Madame your troubles."
"Heh. That would be hard to describe. But thank you."
"Well ya have the stink of the grave on ya, among other things. Haunted eyes, and troubled soul. Can't be good."
"No, I guess not. I was at the cemetery and...well never mind."
Madame chuckled. "Well that's obvious ma chère , to anyone with a nose for it. Heard they found something interestin' down there 'bout an hour back. Nothin' good goin' on there for sure."
The vision of the pile of discarded tongues passed through Sarah's mind and she blanched.
"Girl, you got some damn serious maji around you. It *glitters.*"
Sarah tilted her head and looked at the woman. If she could see that, Jareth's mark, Sarah wondered if she knew about other things.
"Madame, do you anything about...killing a magical being? An evil one? " She tried to make it sound casual.
Madame sat back, taken by surprise. "Ya playin' a fools game. One ya can't win, for sure. Who ya tryin' ta kill?"
Sarah paused and sipped her coffee. "The devil that came to New Orleans." she said in a way that it was much like saying she was going to talk a walk, nonchalant.
After everything she'd seen and done, not much shocked her anymore.
The older woman sucked in her breath, making a hissing sound. "You're either brave or stupid, girl."
Sarah laughed. "You know, you're not the first person to tell me that recently."
"Glad to know someone else was talkin' sense."
She stood up and went behind the counter, coming back with a small card, with an address printed on it. "If you're determined, go here. They can help ya."
Sarah took the card, finished her coffee and left $10 on the table as she got up to leave. "Thank you. Your coffee is the best I ever had."
"Be careful chère. Tha' thing ain't messin' 'round. You're a good girl. Be a shame to hear you're another body tomorrow."
"I'll be fine. Either way, I'm sending that devil back to hell, even if it means escorting him, or her, personally."
Sarah read the card before pushing open the door.
414 Rue Renee
The bell rang as she walked out into the dim sunlight, Madame Bertrille watching her go, shaking her head and praying the great spirit protect her.
Sarah wasn't sure where the store was located, but that's what google maps was for. She followed the directions given on her phone, and found herself heading towards the outskirts of town. She was a little uneasy going away from populated public sites, but she definitely needed help if she was going to face Elizabeth on her own.
After taking several back streets and going down a dark alley that seemed to appear before her, Sarah found the shop. The door opened on its own and she cautiously walked in.
"Hello? Is anyone here?"
All around were strange things that Sarah had never seen. Feathers made into odd looking pendants hanging from the walls, bones arranged on the counters, skulls that seemed to have dried blood on them, and bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors. The only things she recognized the purpose of was a box of tiny voodoo dolls.
"And what be dis coming in me shop?"
Sarah jumped hearing the voice. She turned to see a tall dark skinned man with strange medallions around his neck. "I was hoping you could help me."
"Non, got noteen for an outsida like you. Leave me shop. I not have trinkets to amuse ye."
"I'm not here for trinkets. I came for help." Sarah told him as she stepped closer.
The man studied her carefully. "Ah ma chère, ye have da feel of a powerful magic." He held a hand over her head. "Ya be marked."
"Yes, I know, but that's not my concern. I know who's mark I have and he's protecting me. What troubles me is the monster who is threatening him." Sarah stated. "I'm sure you've heard about the murders in the city."
"Dat I have." He walked behind a curtain, disappearing from site. He returned a moment later carrying a bag. "Ya be needin' deese." He handed the bag to her.
Opening it, Sarah found a dagger, a bottle of black crystals, a small bag of a black powder, matches, and small bags tied closed tightly with odd symbols on them. "What is all of this?"
Reaching into the bag, he pulked out each item. "Black salt, iron powder, silver dagger, matches, gris gris, mojo bag, and a few hex bags. Ya be goin up 'gainst a powerful foe. Ya be needin' all da protection ya can gets." He put everything back in the bag and then grabbed one of the odd necklaces on the wall. He held it up and chanted some words that she didn't understand and then placed it around her neck. "Da spirits be wit ye."
"Thank you." Sarah reached into her purse to get some money.
The man reached out to stop her. "No charge, chère. Ya be doin' da city a great service. I pray da spirits watch ova ya." He drew a symbol on her forehead with his thumb. "Now go and watch ya back. Keep that magic man, da one dat marked ya, ya keeps em safe. He be headed down a dangerous path."
Sarah nodded and thanked him again. As she hurried out the shop, she felt a large gust of wind blow around her. She lifted her hand to shield her face. Just as suddenly as it appeared, the wind vanished. Looking around she found the alley, which had been dark was now well lit. Turning around she found the shop was no longer there.
Weird, but I'm used to weird. Not much is going to surprise me anymore.
Sarah turned and walked towards the street looking at her watch and saw it was nearly lunch time. She didn't want to carry her magic stash around all day, so she went back to the hotel and up to her room.
Noticing someone had been there, obviously Jareth or Corwin checking on her as everything was neatly stacked on the table and nothing was missing, she stuck the bag from Monsieur Aubert under the bed.
Almost immediately there was a knock on the door.
It was Jareth.
"I've contacted the Anaithnidí and will be meeting with them this evening. They didn't mention you but it doesn't mean they won't. I suspect that will be set aside until after this is over. Corwin will stay here with you. They are seeking an update and I'll show them your findings. I'm hoping that knowing you helped us will put you in their favor. "
"Okay." She went to the table and opened her laptop, fiddling around, acting like she was still researching.
He came to stand behind her. "Sarah..."
She held up her hand. "Just don't, okay. It's fine. I probably shouldn't have kissed you. We're good."
Jareth sat down. "No you shouldn't have. But I'm happy you did."
She stopped typing and looked at him. He was unexpectedly smiling at her. "I just wanted to know, you know? Something I wanted to do since The Labyrinth." she confessed.
"I know. I know I tease, yet the truth is, underneath it all I've wanted to do the same. Which I haven't made a secret, but..." He paused and looked like he was trying to carefully word what he said next.
"But..." Sarah urged him to continue, which he did.
"Sarah, I don't want to hurt you. I want us to part on good terms." He answered.
"You are quite extraordinary, and I'd rather you remember me fondly, not that Fae bastard that broke your heart because I can't...care for you the way you deserve. I simply don't know what it means, or how to go about it. You'll find someone who can love you as you deserve to be loved."
Sarah wanted to cry at his words. But she didn't. Deep inside she felt something akin to a tearing sensation in the general vicinity of her heart. But she wouldn't show him that.
"Maybe someday." She said with a wave. "I'm not worried about it much. Anyway, I'm just going to stick around here, go get some food, maybe browse a few gift shops. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."
She gave him a big smile, trying to mask her emotions.
" Good. Remember what I told you before. Public spaces, crowds, no getting yourself into trouble. I mean it." He stood to leave, but at the last moment bent down and kissed her on the forehead again. As he straightened he noticed her necklace. "Interesting souvenir," he said with a smirk.
Sarah looked down. "Oh yeah. One of those shops that sell those touristy voodoo trinkets had them. Thought it was cute. Probably give it to Toby. "
"Ahh. I see. I need to prepare for my meeting. I'll let you know what happens."
After he left she gave in to her emotions. She sat at the table and let the tears flow.
Somehow she had fallen for the bastard. She knew he was trying to not let it show but she got the feeling he cared more than he let on. She got it, knew the reasons he would never say it, but it still hurt. But she couldn't blame him. He had always been honest about it.
A couple hours later, Sarah had gotten a hold of her emotions and her determination to end this was back.
She also vowed to have a long talk with Jareth when this was all over and tell him everything, if she survived that is.
Corwin checked in on her at the tail end of her emotional breakdown. She was a mess and he had offered to stay with her for as long as he could, but she told him it was unnecessary and asked that he not mention anything to Jareth. Last thing she wanted was him knowing exactly how he had affected her.
Grabbing the bag under her bed, Sarah placed all the items in her fanny pack. She knew it was cliche and often people made fun of tourists with fanny packs, but they really were quite practical.
A few minutes of research had told her what each item was and the uses of them. Her best bet was the dagger and the iron powder, though the other items could be useful as well. They would be kept handy.
She tucked the necklace Monsieur Aubert had given her under her shirt. She was actually surprised that Jareth bought her story about it being a tourist trinket.
Sighing, she looked around her room. She wasn't sure how this was going to go, but she wouldn't stop until either she or Elizabeth was dead.
She had to end this, for herself, for Toby, and for Jareth.
Thinking about her brother, she bit her lip. Grabbing her cell phone, she gave him a call. It rang three times and then the excited voice of a 12 year old answered. "Sarah!"
"Hey Tobes," she grinned. "How are you?"
Even now, his voice could make her smile.
"I'm good. Mom says you're at something called Mardi Gras."
"Yea, I am. It's a huge party. You'd love all the costumes and colors down here." She told him.
"You'll take me there one day, right Sarah?" He pleaded.
"Sure, Tobes, one day we'll come here together." She tried not to let her emotions take over again. She had cried enough for one day. "Well I have to run, Toby. I just wanted to call and say hi. I love you."
"I love you too, Sarah. You'll get me something while you're there right?"
"Toby!" She heard Karen scold him in the background.
Chuckling she nodded. "I'll get you something, I promise. Take care of your mom and Daddy for me ok?"
"Sure thing, Sarah. Bye!"
"Goodbye Toby..." she hung up the phone and tossed it in the bed.
Grabbing a pen and paper, Sarah left two notes, one for Corwin and one for Jareth.
She knew Jareth would be furious at her for even considering this, but she had to do it.
Just in case things went bad, she wanted to make sure she left the notes telling them why she did it.
And just in case they didn't get that talk, she want Jareth to know she loved him and she was grateful and didn't blame him, and for him not to blame himself about her choices.
She knew Corwin would be back to check on her around 7-ish. He'd find the notes. She also left the map in plain site so they'd know where to find her.
"Well, there's no turning back now," she put the fanny pack on, grabbed her jacket, and headed out the door.
It was still a few hours before dark but it gave Sarah a chance to scout the location, a dank, musty alley near the center of the city. It was little used and unlit.
"In other words, perfect for a place to kill someone without being seen." she said out loud.
She looked around and saw nothing of significance but found bits of garbage and such that could be good hiding spots.
Sarah moved a couple of old pallets to the side of a rusted out bin near the front and made herself a nest. The important thing she needed to do is to make sure she separated any potential victim from their killer, putting herself directly in the path of the killer's wrath.
As soon as he had crossed into the space, she would try to use the black salt as a barrier for any magical being who enters the space to be able to leave, then confront the killer. He would hopefully call Elizabeth once they realized they were trapped, then Sarah can go about dispatching the witch.
Sarah realized as she went over her plan it would probably be one or the other. The remaining killer, either the redcap or Elizabeth, would either get away or kill her. She sincerely hoped it was the former, but she had no plan to leave here unscathed, and figured possibly, maybe even probably, not alive.
Her biggest hope is Jareth and Corwin would arrive in time to not let that happen. She had to trust them.
"It's not fair, but that's the way it is." She sighed.
She was starving and decided to go get a burger and fries at the fast food place a block or so away. She rarely indulged, but it was a vacation, and if this would be her last meal no point in worrying about eating healthy.
Making sure everything was set up, she left to fetch some food, then lay in wait for her prey to arrive.
Around 7pm, Corwin knocked on Sarah's door. He called to her several times, but got no answer.
He hated doing it, but Jareth had told him to be sure she was alright, so he entered her room. "Sarah? If you're here forgive the intrusion."
He found her room empty, but immediately saw a note on the table addressed to him. When he picked up the folded paper, he noticed a second one addressed to Jareth. He had a feeling of dread come over him.
"Oh no, please tell me you aren't doing something stupid." Opening the note with his name on it, he quickly read the contents.
I'm certain you'll be the one to find these letters. I want to thank you for all you've done for me. I know most of it was because Jareth told you to, but still I thank you for your kindness. By now I'm at the location of the next murder. I figured it out. I know Jareth will be furious, but I have to do this, for me and for him. He's been through so much already. I won't let him face all of this alone. If I don't survive this, please look after Jareth. He may not think so, but he deserves to be happy.
"Foolish woman!" He grabbed the note for Jareth and looked around. Sitting on the table was a map of the city and on it was a drawing of Jareth's insignia. Upon closer examination he realized the dots used to form the insignia were the locations of the murders, all but one that is, and that one was circled.
"She's far too clever for her own good." He growled, angry and worried and sad all at once.
Jareth would never forgive himself if something happened to her. Corwin knew his King's affection for the woman went far deeper than he could ever admit.
Corwin was quite fond of her himself. He hadn't known her long but she had proven herself to him, that she was a true and loyal friend indeed.
He grabbed the map and raced out the door. He had to find Jareth and tell him what was going on. Corwin just prayed he could find him and they could reach her before it was too late.
He also prayed the Anaithnidi didn't kill him for interrupting their meeting with the King.
Sarah hurt. Her knees ached, her back ached, her shoulders ached and she was getting cramps in her legs from being crouched behind the garbage bin since it began to get dark.
But she was determined to ignore it all. Several people had passed by the alley entrance, each causing her adrenaline to rise, only to be thwarted as they kept walking.
The bag of black salt was clutched in one hand, the silver knife in the other. It was near 9pm when she heard someone coming again, and this time they stopped.
A drunk giggle echoed in the narrow space, and peeking out she saw a billowing cloak.
"Come here, my sweet, you smell like Spring." Sarah heard next.
It was him. The same voice.
She edged around the side, seeing the killer had moved him and his victim further back, turned away from where she was.
She took a deep breath and moved, crossing the entrance and dumping salt along the way, then crossing back and creeping towards the 2 dim figures.
When she was a few feet away, she could hear the creature panting, sucking at his victim's skin, whispering dirty things as she watched him remove his weapon with one hand, the metal glinting in the dark.
"Stop!" Sarah yelled. "Don't do it!"
The woman screamed as the killer let her go and she was dropped on the ground.
He was startled at first, hissing at her and flashing his knife as he swung around.
Sarah held up the silver blade as he looked her up and down.
"I meant it. The jig is up. I know who you work for and I know why. It's over." She said, sounding braver than she felt.
He laughed. And it wasn't a pleasant sound.
"Very good, Sarah Williams, marked by The Goblin King. How do you plan to stop us? A mortal girl with more guts than sense. I should have killed you when I had the chance. What a gift that would have been...sending him your head in a box."
Sarah threw the salt in his face and he yelped and jerked away." Fucking bitch! "
He screamed as the granules burned holes in his skin, cause his glamour to fade. Underneath was an ugly green burned looking beast. Sarah shuddered.
He took a blind swipe at Sarah and she managed to embed the knife in his side. He dropped his weapon and she swept it up.
There was a surge of dark magic that swept through so strongly she was nearly bowled over by it, and he lay on the ground whining. He had tried to leave but was immediately bounced back hard.
The girl he was going to kill was curled in a ball trying to move away.
"Go hide and whatever happens don't come out. Someone will be here to help you shortly." Sarah instructed the girl.
The poor terrified young woman fled behind the bin.
Sarah stood over the killer. "I make up for my lack of brains, with my excellent preparedness skills, asshole."
There was another sweep of magic from behind her, and Sarah's blood ran cold.
The sound of a slow clap forced Sarah to turn her head.
"If it isn't Sarah Williams, The Champion of the Labyrinth. We've been waiting for you."
Sarah pivoted on her heel and got her first good look at the woman.
She may have been beautiful once, but close up she wasn't now. There was a huge scar on her face and she looked as if the evil she had been channeling had aged and eaten away at her physically. She must have been using a glamour at the cemetery. She was dressed in black, her head covered in a hood, her face the only part of her uncovered.
"Elizabeth." Sarah replied. "What a coincidence, I've been waiting for you all evening, glad you showed up, I was getting bored." She grinned. "Your friend isn't too bright."
"No, but he wasn't created to think. Just to kill. And because humans are ridiculously stupid and inept, I didn't need him to be intelligent."
"Then why were you so determined to come back here and be with your family if humans are so stupid?"
There was a flash of emotion in the woman black, dead eyes, but it was gone just as fast. "My family is dead. Soon you will be as well, and when I leave here..." She held up a black crystal, the mist inside coalescing into a familiar face. "Guess who is next?"
Sarah felt sick.
It was Toby.
*address is not a real address.
Chapter 13: Win Some, Lose Some
In a back room of a ritzy VIP bar in New Orleans , Jareth sat and waited. He was told to be here at 7 sharp and wait for the Anaithnidi. Checking his watch for the eighth time, Jareth stood and paced the room.
He truly hoped the evidence Sarah gathered would be enough to satisfy them, for now. He would deal with Elizabeth and then take whatever punishment they saw fit to give him, as long as Sarah was safe.
The door opened and a tall Fae in black walked in. He wasn't glamoured, but then he had no reason to be. Jareth felt the shift in magic the moment he entered the room. The entire building was now shielded. There was no way in or out by any magical beings unless the Anaithnidi allowed it. Anyone else in the building, staff, servers, or customers would be spelled to not notice anything out of the ordinary, and would not retain any memories of the gathering in the back room or those who attended it.
Corwin raced down the street, the map clutched tightly in his hand. "Of all the times for her to go and be reckless." He muttered as he turned the corner, nearly running over an old lady. He lept over boxes, dodged people, and zigged and zagged. He had to get to the King.
He knew where Jareth was meeting the Anaithnidi, but how was he going to get there? He felt the shielding as he rounded the last corner. He could see the bar, practically smell the alcohol, but he couldn't get with in a hundred feet of the building. "What am I going to do?"
The humans, they came and went as they pleased, completely oblivious to the magic surrounding them. Corwin banged his fists against the invisible wall. "Please, I must see the King! Its a matter of life and death!" He fell to his knees, still banging his fists against the barrier. "Please, she's going to die!" He pleaded.
The humans walking by him commented that he must be drunk and avoided him.
Jareth now stood before 5 high ranking members of the Anaithnidi. They were reviewing the information Sarah had gathered and the older man in the middle looked up at Jareth. "You say a human put all of this together?"
"Yes, one Sarah Williams. She was extremely valuable in my search to find the culprit." Jareth responded.
"Miss Williams..." he rubbed his chin. "Yes, we'll get to her momentarily." He paced in front of the other four, who had remained silent. "And this Elizabeth... she was a wisher?"
"Yes, she wished away her brother 60 years ago. She failed to reach the castle within the 13 hour time limit, but offered to stay in the Underground in her brother's place." Jareth explained.
"And where did she go?"
"Sent to a neighboring Lord. His villa was attacked later. I never heard if the girl survived or where she may have gone. I assumed any surviving humans would have been either taken in by another household or would have ended up in one of the human enclaves." Jareth clasped his hands behind in back. "I know as a wisher she is my responsibility, no matter how much tine has passed or what she has become. I shall take care of her and the redcap that is committing these murders."
The older man started to speak but a young Fae watchman walked in and bowed before him. "What is it?"
"Forgive me your excellency, but there is a Fae outside demanding to speak with the Goblin King. He says it's a matter of life or death."
Looking at Jareth, the man gripped his cane tightly in one hand, his knuckles white. "Who knew you'd be here?"
"Just my aid, Corwin. He wouldn't intrude if it was not important." Jareth stated as he bowed his head. "Please, allow me a moment to speak with him."
"Very well. Go see your aide and return to us immediately."
Jareth bowed to him and dashed for the door, he had a bad feeling about this. The young Fae guarding the way opened doors and let him pass. He found Corwin on the street still pleading. "Corwin!"
Jareth rushed to his side. "Majesty! Thank the Gods!" He stood and gave the map and the letter from Sarah to Jareth. "It's Sarah!"
"What about her? Tell me she isn't missing!" Jareth's temper began to flare.
Shaking his head, Corwin pointed to the map. "No, I know exactly where she is. She figured out where the next murder will happen"
Grinning, Jareth examined the map. "That's my clever girl." He started to turn to leave. "I'll inform the Anaithnidi and deal..."
"Sire!" Corwin interrupted. "She's there now!"
"What?!" Jareth froze and his face paled.
"Sarah went to face Elizabeth."
The pride he felt at Sarah's clever work turned to a fear that he had never felt before, echoing through his entire being.
"Sarah, you insolent woman." He growled. "Why would you do such a reckless thing? Let's go. I'll have to deal with the repercussions from the Anaithnidi later, there is no time to waste."
Jareth led the way as they raced to where Sarah was.
Sarah felt her anger begin to rise with her bile. A stray thought of wishing she hadn't eat that greasy last meal passed through her mind as she glared at the halfling evil witch. She would have gladly ripped the woman to shreds.
Something was happening deep inside, something she didn't know existed within her. A feral untrained power that laid dormant within her.
Elizabeth looked pleased she was able to provoke Sarah so much. "He looks very easy to kill. Weak and small."
Sarah flowered at the evil woman. "You will NOT ever touch one hair on my brother's head. I fought for him, through dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered! And I won! It's not mine, nor Toby's, nor Jareth's, or any other persons' life YOU stole, fault that you weren't strong enough to do the same!"
Her voice was a low growl, like a tigress protecting her den.
For just a second, there was a look of doubt in the Elizabeth's eyes.
There was something she sensed within Sarah that told her this human might be some danger to her. She was no ordinary girl, after all. But she hid it quickly.
"Yeeess girl. Of course. You saved yours and took him home. Me, your beloved king, sent me away after he made the deal. He altered it! He put my brother here only to see him murdered! My parents lost both of us! He tore my family apart!"
"No, he didn't! You did! You destroyed your family by making a stupid stupid mistake! I know, Elizabeth, because I made the same one!"
Sarah had, while Elizabeth hadn't been paying attention, reached into her pocket and brought out a handful of iron dust and herb mixture. " Now you evil bitch, eat this! "
Sarah threw the dust into the woman's face.
Elizabeth gasped as the mass hit her in the face, immediately sucking it into her lungs.
There it began to eat away at her from the inside as she choked. But she was determined to take Sarah with her, so she lunged for and wrapped her hands around the younger woman's throat.
Elizabeth was bleeding from everywhere as the poison burned through her but had the fighting champion in a steel grip. She hissed through the blood. "If I die you're coming with me Champion..."
Sarah was getting lightheaded from lack of oxygen. She pounded and fought to get away but was becoming weaker. "I need help!" She choked out.
There was fire in her belly, it expanded suddenly, blowing the witch back and knocking Sarah on her her ass, she rolled up ready to fight.
What she saw was the witch twitching and moaning on the ground, bleeding from her mouth, eyes and nose, grabbing at the air the ground, screeching as she slowly melted from the inside out.
There was movement on the other side of the entrance. She looked up. Jareth and Corwin skidded to halt.
"Sarah!" Jareth yelled.
"It's okay! I killed her!"
She called out. She smiled, triumphant.
From behind there was a sharp pain in her back.
"But you didn't kill me, did you girl." The killer, his human glamour completely gone and revealing his true redcap form to all, hissed.
Sarah gasped in pain and surprise, the last thing she saw while crumpling to the ground was Jareth's face as he and Corwin screamed her name in despair. She pitched forward, reaching out to them as her world went black, a whisper of "Jareth..." the last word she spoke.
Chapter 14: Reckoning
The rage inside Jareth burst forward in a blast of magic that swept everything between himself and Sarah in an instant. The barrier was nothing against his magic, and instantly he was holding her in his arms.
"Sarah, Sarah..you brave, insufferable woman...Sarah you can't..." He told her as he checked her over. She was still breathing but she had been wounded badly. "Corwin, come take her while I deal with...that. Then we'll get her to the hospital. The knife he used was spelled cold iron and I can't heal it."
The beast had moved back as far as he could, into the corner, attempting in vain to blend in. Without the witch, his abilities she had given him disappeared and he was trapped.
Jareth stalked forward his eyes glowing red. "She didn't kill you, but now I shall. For every death you have taken, I find you guilty. If Sarah dies I will revive you and kill you at my leisure for the next 1,000 years, for the pure joy of watching you burn."
Jareth lifted his hand and channeled all the pain, all the anger that had built up into his magic and let it pour into the redcap. The thing screamed and twisted as it died, turning black.
When it was a smoking hulk. He heard a noise.
A terrified human female was peeking out from behind the garbage can. "Fuck. Stay there. You're safe." He told the quivering girl.
He went back to where Corwin was holding Sarah. "I don't know Jareth, I don't think.." Corwin choked up. He couldn't tell his king he thought Sarah was dying.
"I only have one choice, then." Jareth said, resigned. "Lay her down and back away." The Goblin King called upon the full force of his and The Labyrinth's magic, and began to chant.
They might kill me for this but better myself than her. And only now do I understand.
He almost fell as the universe resisted but he didn't need long, only a few minutes.
Time shifted, and the universe moved...backwards.
He counted down the seconds, he and Corwin remaining outside the spell so they would be on the right side of the line this time.
When the spell ended he was jerked forward, but it worked. He was behind Sarah.
"It's okay! I killed her!"
She called out with that triumphant smile.
"I know." He nearly cried at seeing her there alive and well.
She turned to see him behind her, surprised.
"How did you..?"
"But you didn't kill me, did you girl." The killer, now in his true form, lunged for Sarah not expecting Jareth to be between them.
Jareth caught the beasts' arm in his grip.
" Not this time. This ends now."
Jareth once again poured power into the thing, until it was nothing but a black unrecognizable lump.
When it was done he moved back to Sarah and took her in his arms. "It's over."
"Jareth, what did you do? How did you get behind me?"
"Shut up you stubbornly brave, foolish woman, just let me enjoy holding you."
Sarah was befuddled, but let him have his way.
He released her to take her face in his hands and look into her eyes. He placed one gentle kiss upon her forehead, and gave her a sad smile. "I have much to say, but alas it will have to wait."
He felt them coming.
A few seconds later the Anaithnidí arrived.
"Goblin King, you need to come with us, and bring Miss Williams with you. This is a serious violation of our laws."
"I did what I had to do." He reluctantly let go of Sarah. "Whatever the consequences. Corwin, accompany Sarah please? I don't want her to be alone."
The Anaithnidí put binders around his wrists and he was taken away.
"What did he do?" a confused Sarah asked Corwin.
Corwin sighed. "I'll tell you when we get to the Great Council Hall. Let's go."
He wrapped an arm around her waist, dropped a transportation crystal and they disappeared from the alley.
One Anaithnidí stayed back to sweep the mess away and make sure the cowering human girl was returned to where she was before, her memories altered. The remains of the witch were sent to the Anaithnidi temple to be studied.
After Corwin, Sarah, and the Anaithnidi with Jareth in chains arrived at the Great Council Hall, Sarah watched them lead Jareth away. "Stop! He's innocent!"
"Sarah," Corwin held her back.
"No! He didn't kill those people."
"They know Sarah. He's being taken into custody for a far greater crime." Corwin said as he lead her to a bench against the wall.
"What crime?" Sarah demanded.
"Rearranging time in the above for the sake of a mortal." Corwin answered.
"What?" Sarah blinked in confusion. "When did he..."
"Sarah when we got to the alley, you had just killed Elizabeth. The redcap... he..." Corwin couldn't find the words to tell her she nearly died. He knew he should have tried to stop Jareth from reversing time, but truth was he was just as relieved as Jareth to see her alive and well.
"Jareth was behind me because that thing killed me, didn't it?" Corwin nodded. "He reordered time to save me?"
"It was the only way, Sarah. He couldn't heal you because the weapon that...thing used was spelled cold iron. But the council may not agree with his reasons, you are after all, just a mortal. Not my words."
"Idiot." A tear made its way down her cheek. "What good does saving me do if he has to die for it?"
Jareth was thrown into a cell to await his trial. He knew they would arrest him for saving her, but he had hoped to have just a little more time with her before they arrived.
There was so much he wanted to say to her. He wanted to hold her in his arms and tell her how incredibly brave and immensely stupid she had been to face Elizabeth alone. He wanted to tell her how his heart broke into pieces as he held her in his arms, her blood pouring out the wound on her back.
He wanted to kiss her and thank the gods he managed to save her, and he wanted tell her how he truly felt. Only then when all was lost had his walls he had carefully built and kept around himself had tumbled away.
Seeing her there, near death, had made him realize why he did everything he did for her. The reason he didn't kill her even though she beat him, the reason he didn't keep her and returned her and her brother home, the reason he marked her, the reason he risked it all to keep her safe. Jareth understood it at last, and now he may never have the chance to tell her.
All those feelings he had pushed far away into the recesses of his mind flooded his senses at seeing her dying. He had forgot what it felt like, the love...and the pain of losing someone you loved all at once.
Sighing he sat on the cold floor and stuck his hands in his pockets. Feeling a paper in one of them, he pulled it out, unsure of what it was or where it came from. Flipping over he saw his name written in Sarah's bold loopy handwriting. Then he remembered Corwin handing him the note.
He opened it and began to read.
I'm sure Corwin told you what I was doing and where I was. So if you're reading this, the fight must be over, because I doubt you read this before you came chasing after me. I know you're probably furious with me, but it had to be done. I couldn't sit back and let you face it all alone. So hopefully I'll survive facing Elizabeth, but if I don't I want you to know I'm grateful for eveything you did for me and for Toby. You risked so much to let us have normal lives. And you continued to watch over me for all these years.
I wanted things to be different than you say they have to be. Yes I did think we could go to dinner, hang out, and get to know each other better, but I guess it's not meant to be. You said you wanted me to remember you fondly, not as the Fae bastard that broke my heart. Well, despite all your attempts to prevent it, I have fallen for you, you bastard. But I don't hate you for it. Call me foolish if you want, but I Iove you.
You may not believe it, but you deserve happiness as much as I or anyone else does. So please, if I don't make it, don't blame yourself and be miserable. Go find happiness. I'm sure Esme would have wanted that for you as well . I hope you can forgive me for being reckless, but I had to do this, for me and for you. Goodbye Jareth.
He read the letter over and over. He was happy, sad, and angry all at the same time. He didn't know if he wanted to laugh, cry, or scream.
She loved him. How? Why? How did this happen? How did she become a part of me and how do I go about loving her? I don't know if I know how!
Before he could decide, the door opened again. "The High Inquisitor is ready to see you."
Jareth folded the note and put it safely in his pocket. "Very well. I guess I'll see him." Jareth tried to remain prideful. He knew very well how the High Inquisitor performed his interrogations.
Finally Sarah was led into the hall, Corwin followed. He was to be a witness anyway.
She was surprised to see the men and women who had taken Jareth away there as well as several others seated on a dias in a half circle.
"Miss Sarah Williams, a Mortal of the above, you are here as a witness. We hold no governance over your behavior. However, it is a possibility, the actions of The Goblin King could result in a dire outcome for you. Do you understand?"
She looked to Corwin. He mouthed "Only the truth" to her. She nodded.
"I do. However, you should know I personally do not hold Jar..The Goblin King responsible. If you choose to take my life I will only blame you for being so cruel and shortsighted that you felt the need to kill me for knowledge."
There was a murmuring as those at the dais spoke among themselves.
She knew what they wanted. They wanted her to beg, to cower, to grovel.
She would not. She stood straight and tall.
There was blood and God knows what all over her. Her clothes were ripped. She felt disgusting and needed a bath. But she looked them all straight in the eye.
"Are you done talking about me yet?"
Sarah asked loudly.
Corwin snickered behind her as they stopped whispering and stared at her.
"Miss Williams, we have protocols here. Please do not speak unless spoken to." The man at the center of the circle said in a condescending tone.
"I don't give a fuck about your protocols, to be honest. You obviously are more worried about appearances than realities. Treating your people like you do. Approving the concept that somehow compassion, love, understanding, is bad thing. You treat humans like they are dogshit stuck to your shoe, we're stupid and uncivilized and can't be trusted, but you're no better."
"You cannot speak like that..." A tall woman stood and began to reprimand her.
"I'm not done." Sarah said.
The woman shut up, shocked at the humans gall.
"You want me to give you a statement as a witness? I'll give you one. Buckle up assholes."
She took a deep breath. "The Goblin King saved my life. More than once. Yes I beat The Labyrinth...but I had to fight like hell to do it. He didn't make it easy, I'm just very determined. He will tell you how stubborn I am. I am NOT sorry I rescued my brother. He's safe and having a normal life being raised by parents that love him, his *real* parents as it should be for any kid, to have parents that love him and want him. It sad it's not that way for all kids, but for him, it is. I'm glad."
She paused collecting her thoughts and calming herself a moment." Jareth still could have taken me, but he chose compassion and understanding. He knew I was 15 and belonged in my world to grow up, go to school, and follow my destiny. He protected us. No one knew I knew about the underground and obviously I've never been a danger to the underground. Who would believe me even I'd said anything? Humans are far different than they were all those years ago. I'd be in more danger of winding up in a mental hospital than anything."
A couple of the people in front of her nodded in agreement. This gave Sarah more confidence her words weren't a lesson in futility.
" I am not sorry for what I did either. I think the one thing we humans have that gets us through all the bad stuff, is most of us have an endless capacity for love. We can be angry, scared, and sad, but we still love anyway. And frankly I think that it's a fucking miracle that two people, one some simple human girl, as you call me, the other a Fae King, against all the odds you can imagine, from two completely different worlds, can somehow manage to find each other and care about each other. It's amazing and magical and somehow I think that it happened is proof that it's mean to. It's meant to be an example how stupid all these laws are."
"Why would you defend him after all you've been through?" One of the Anaithnidí asked.
"Because I love the Fae bastard. And I know he cares about me. Because when you love someone you forgive, and you fight for them. That's what people who care about each other do."
She looked back at Corwin, who was giving her a look of awe and pride.
"In closing, Jareth does not deserve to be punished. He did what he did to protect those he cares about. And despite everything, I know he *does* care. Which in my eyes makes him a million times better, and stronger a man *and* king than any of you heartless cowardly jerks. He's not perfect but...he's *my* Fae bastard, and you've no right. You've no right!"
She screamed the last sentence through tears.
They talked among themselves another minute or two.
" Thank you Miss Williams, you may go."
"That's it?" Sarah asked. "What you going to do?"
They were already gone.
Corwin put his arm over her shaking shoulders.
"Come Sarah, you did all you could. Let's go."
He guided the sobbing Sarah out of the hall.
Chapter 15: In These 13 Hours
Corwin walked her to the bench they had been sitting on before and sat with her. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he handed it to her. "Be strong, Sarah. I think your words got through to them."
"What makes you think that?" She asked as she dried her eyes.
"They actually listened. Normally they wouldn't have let someone continue on like that. Hell if I spoke to them like that, I'd be severely punished.
The door opened behind him and his name was called. "Wait here, Sarah." He stood and patted her shoulder. "I must give my testimony."
She nodded and sat down to wait.
Corwin walked in and stood before the council. He answered their questions fully. He was surprised that they seemed more interested in Sarah than Jareth, but she did make quite an impression with her speach. As they started to dismiss him, Corwin made a request.
"Please, while we await your judgment, I ask that Sarah be allowed to see Jareth."
"And why should we allow such a thing?" One woman asked.
"You just heard from her how much she loves him. She hasn't told him, at least not to his face. And he's never admitted it to her either. I beg of you, please give them one night together, to share their feelings and be completely honest with one another. Especially as it may be their last chance." Corwin pleaded.
"You believe your King is going to be found guilty?" One man asked.
"It matters not, what I believe or wish. I am not a member of the council and hold no power over such matters. But I know Jareth's and Sarah's hearts. Even before Sarah's declaration to the council, I knew she loved him. We look at love as a useless emotion, but her love for the King is so strong she risked everything for him."
Corwin knelt before them. "So again I ask, no beg you, let them be allowed to see each other."
The council whispered amongst themselves and then the older man in the center nodded. "Very well. We will alow you to clean her up a bit and take her to the Goblin King. They may have 13 hours together before we pass our judgment."
"Thank you." Corwin was smiling as he bowed to them. He hurried out to get Sarah. She was clutching the handkerchief and pacing the floor. "Sarah!"
"Corwin, what's going on? Are they going to punish Jareth?" She looked at him with hopeful eyes.
"I don't know. They will pass judgment in 13 hours. But they have agreed to let you see him until then."
"Really?" Her eyes lit up.
Corwin waved his hand over her and suddenly she was clean and in fresh clothes. "I suggest you tell him what you told the council, though I'd leave out the bastard part." He chuckled.
Sarah hugged him, which caught him off guard, but he returned her embrace. "Thank you."
Nodding he pulled away. "Come, there's someone who needs your hugs more than I." He took her hand and led her to the cell Jareth was being held in.
The guard opened the door to the hall Jareth was on and while he wasn't looking, Corwin slipped a small healing crystal in her pocket. "In case he needs medical attention." He whispered before he pushed her towards the door.
She followed the guard down the hall, to a small room. The door opened and Sarah walked in slowly. The room was dark, the only light coming from the open door, which promptly slammed shut behind her, eliminating all light except what filtered in under the door.
"Jareth?" She called as she looked around, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.
"I'm here, Sarah. ." Jareth said weakly as his sharp eyes with their excellent night vision watched her fumble around in the darkness. "By the wall, near the bed." He informed her.
Reaching her hand out, she found the wall and followed it around. By the time her eyes adjusted, she was right in front of him. "Jareth!" She knelt beside him and threw her arms arms him, earning a painful groan from him. Alarmed, she pulled away. "Are you alright?"
"I'll live, for now." He replied as he brushed her hair from her face. "Why are you here?"
"They are allowing us to see each other while they make up their minds." She held his hand against her face and kissed it. "Corwin arranged it somehow."
Nodding, he pulled his hand from her grip. "I suppose he felt we needed time to say goodbye."
"If we're luckily you'll be sent home with no memory of any of this. I most certainly will be severely punished. Even if I live we'll never see one another again." He said sadly.
"It's not fair!" She cried as she laid her head carefully on his shoulder.
He kissed her forehead. "You say that so often." He chuckled and held his ribs as he did.
"Well now I have a basis for comparison."
Jareth shifted and wrapped his arm around her. "Sarah, when you were dying..."
"Shhh... I'm alive. Thanks to you." She wrapped her arms around him gently, not wanting to hurt him.
"Will you please be quiet, infuriating woman. I'm trying to tell you something important." Jareth scolded.
Sarah pulled away and sat in front of him, so she could look him in the eyes. "What is it?"
Sighing, he pulled her note from his pocket. "I read this, before they took me for questioning." He paused and watched Sarah look away, unsure of what he was going to say in response to her letter. Placing a finger under her chin, he made her look at him. "I feel the same. I can't promise I'll be any good at it, I'm not certain how...but I do. I honestly didn't think it was in me to care for anyone longer than it took to get what I wanted from them. This is...very new. "
She smiled and took his hand in hers. "Jareth."
"I thought I was going to lose you tonight, my Sarah. I realized then how much I care for you. How bad losing you would hurt. The real reason I marked you was so I wouldn't lose you. I wanted to keep you as close as I thought I could." He sighed and shook his head. "Never did I dream you'd love me. I didn't and still don't feel worthy of your love."
"You may be a bastard, Jareth, but you're my bastard. I love you," she watched his eyes light up at hearing her say it aloud. "And no matter what you think, you're the best Fae I know, in every way."
He scoffed. "I'm the only Fae you know."
"Oh?" She could see the jealousy in his eyes.
"I know Corwin." She grinned.
He started laughing and grabbed his sides as they hurt from the movement. "Oh, Precious, please don't make me laugh."
She scooted to sit beside him, her back against the wall and her head on his shoulder. "I mean it, Jareth. I love you. I don't want to lose you either. That's why I went after Elizabeth. I wanted to free you of that burden if I could. She blamed you for her own mistake. I had to stop her. But in doing so I caused you even more trouble... I'm sorry."
Turning, he wrapped his arms around her and held her close, ignoring the pain in his sides. "It's alright. I would have done what ever I had to to keep you safe, my clever girl. You found where she would be and some how beat her single handedly, proving yet again that you're no ordinary girl."
He pulled away enough that he could look her in the eyes. "I...I love you, my precious, stubborn, infuriating woman." Pulling her close he kissed her softly, his hand holding the back of her head.
As he said those words it sounded strange to his own ears, but it sounded right. He did love her. There was no other word for the overpowering flood of emotions she caused. The urge to protect and to save her that swept away his good sense. As long as she was safe, he would take any punishment. Even if it meant never seeing her again.
Sarah wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed him back. This wasn't like their first kiss which had been heated and passionate, this was soft and tender and spoke more than any words they could say.
"Oh, how cruel the world truly is." Jareth groaned as he leaned his forehead against hers. "I should have taken you to bed when I had the chance."
Sarah felt herself get warm at the thought of Jareth holding her, and making love to her. "There's still time, and there is a bed." She smirked.
"True, but I'm in no condition to do all the things I want to do to you right now." He caressed her cheek. "Attempting it may truly mean my death."
"Would this help?" She held out the healing crystal.
"Where did you get that?" He asked as he took it from her.
"Corwin." She stated plainly.
Jareth smiled as his thumb passed over the crystal. "He is an excellent aide. He thinks of everything." He pressed the crystal against his chest and it vanished in a flash of light as it healed his major injuries. He still felt sore, but he was in good enough shape to show Sarah how much he loved her. Standing he scooped her into his arms and sat with her on the bed.
"Say it again, please." Sarah requested as she ran her fingers through his hair.
"I love you, Precious." He whispered before covering her lips with his ince more.
It was easier, the more he said it.
"And I love you, my Fae bastard." She responded when the kiss ended.
Jareth smiled and sought her lips once more.
"Infuriating woman," he teased back as his hands roamed her body. "So many things I want to do to you, so little time." He sighed.
"Don't think about that right now." Sarah told him as she rubbed her nose against his. "Let's just live in the moment. This is all we have for now and I intend to enjoy every minute of it."
"Oh, I plan to make sure you enjoy this, love. You'll never find a lover better than me." He smirked.
"Or one with an ego as big as yours." She grinned as she played with his hair.
He kissed down her neck as his hands grabbed her ass, pulling her closer. "My ego's not the only thing about me that's big." He thrusted his hips upwards letting her feel exactly what he was talking about.
"I always wondered if those tight pants were stuffed."
"I'll show you stuffed," he growled as he pushed her back on the bed and kissed her passionately.
Sarah moaned into his kiss feeling his body over hers. She made quick work of the buttons of his shirt while his hands slid under hers. Their lips only parted breifly as she sat up and helped him remove her shirt before pushing his off his shoulders. When their lips met once more, Sarah flipped them so she was on top and ground her hips against him. "You don't know how many nights I've dreamt of this." She whispered as she nibbled his ear.
"You've dreamt of being locked in a cell while powerful beings decide if you're going to die?" Jareth joked. "You have some odd fantasies, my dear."
Laughing, she shook her head and kissed him softly before sitting up to look him in the eyes. "Not what I was talking about, and you know it." She said in an almost scolding tone.
Jareth grabbed her wrists and held them against his chest. "Yes, I know, Precious. I've dreamt of this too. Always under much better circumstances, but still thoughts of you have invaded my naughtiest dreams on a regular basis." He pulled her down to him and kissed her once more as his hands worked quickly to remove her bra.
Once her bra was tossed aside, his hands wasted no time cupping and caressing her full perky breasts. "Jareth," she moaned his name as he teased her nipples with his thumbs.
"Yes, love?" He questioned as he pinched her hard nipples between his thumbs and forefingers, earning another moan from her.
Sarah was beyond coherent sentences. She wasn't a virgin by any means, but never had any man made her feel this incredible with just his hands. Maybe it was the fact she loved him or the fact this may be their last night to live, or maybe he was just that good. Which ever it was, she didn't want him to stop anytime soon. "Please..."
Jareth smirked hearing her start to beg. If the situation had been different he would have drawn it out, made her plead and beg for everything, taking pleasure in teasing her to the point she couldn't stand it anymore or took full control from him and took what she wanted from him. Knowing his Sarah it would have been the latter, and that thought alone turned him on even more. Sadly though, their time was limited and this may be his one and only chance to have her, and he intended have every inch of her.
Rolling them over, so he was once again on top, Jareth captured her lips as his hands massaged her chest. His tongue brushed against her lips, seeking entrace, which she gladly gave. He kissed her hungrily, exploring all of her mouth as his hands caressed every inch of her breasts.
When he broke the kiss, he peppered her face, making sure to kiss everywhere. "So beautiful," he whispered. "My Sarah," he whispered between kisses. "My love," he wanted to her to know without a doubt how much he loved her. So he told her everything he felt as he kissed her face, neck, shoulders, and chest.
Sarah's hands tangled themselves in his hair as she lost her self in his soft kisses. "Love you." She whispered over and over. She wanted him to know she felt the same.
Jareth kissed down her chest, exploring every inch of bare flesh his lips could find. When his tongue caressed her left nipple in slow languid licks, Sarah arched her back moaning loudly. Enjoying her reaction, he licked the right side the same way and then took it into his mouth sucking on it gently, his tongue rolling around her hard nub. After a few moments, he pulled away causing her to whimper in protest until he began lavishing the other breast with the same affection.
As his mouth went back and forth between her breasts, his hands begin unfastening her pants and pushed them down as far as he could. Pulling away from her, he moved so he could rid her of the rest of her clothing. Once her shoes, socks, pants, and underwear were discarded, he sat there staring at her for a moment. He wished there was some actual light in the tiny cell so he could see her, but he had to make do with the limited vision he did have. His owl eyes saw more than most but it was still far to dark for his taste at this moment, yet even in the dark she was exquisite.
Running his hands up her legs, he smiled. She watched him silently as his hands caressed her legs, touching every inch of her bare flesh. "So beautiful, my Sarah." He said as he kissed her thigh. Her hands gripped his blonde hair, pulling gently, as he kissed his way towards her sex. His fingers rubbed her nether lips, teasingly, making her wet with want of him.
"Jareth," she panted his name as she tried to pull him up to her, but he refused to be rushed.
"Relax, Precious. You'll enjoy this. I promise." He told her as he kissed directly above her moist opening. Lowering himself a bit, he held her lips open with his hands and licked her up and down slowly, increasing the pressure with each stroke of his tongue. Hearing her moan, he slid his tongue inside and fucked her with it as his thumb rubbed her clit in slow circles.
Sarah laid her head back with her eyes closed as he continued stimulating her clit with his thumb. He stroked her up and down, side to side, in varous shapes and patterns, listening intently to her moans to see what she enjoyed most. Having decided she seemed to like the simple up and down motion, he spread her folds and licked her clit in long firm strokes. When she started thrusting against him, he held her hips still with one arm as he sucked her clit into his mouth.
Sarah nearly came undone when he pushed two fingers inside and curled them to caress her inner walls. She tried to buck against him, but he held her still and continued sucking on her little bud, his tongue rolling all around it. Adding a third finger he pumped her faster, his fingers quickly becoming drenched in her juices. It didn't take long for Sarah to reach her peak and Jareth groaned as her nails scraped his scalp and she cried out his name.
He continued his ministrations on her clit as she rode the waves of her orgasm. Even as she started to come down, he kept licking and sucking the sensitive bundle of nerves. "Jareth..." her voice was almost pleading as she tried to close her legs, the stimulation becoming too much. He simply held her still and continued on. It didn't take long for her muscles to spasm again as she had her second orgasm of the night.
This time he slowed his movements and merely licked her clean before moving to lay beside her. She was breathing heavily, her eyes closed, with beads of sweat on her brow. It was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. Gently, he traced her jaw with his finger tips. Smiling, she opened her eyes to look at him. His eyes gleamed with love even in the near darkness "You weren't joking at all about being good in bed." She rolled over to face him and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Did you think my tongue was only used for boasting?" He smirked before kissing her.
Sarah could taste herself on his lips, which wasn't normally a turn on for her, but with Jareth it was. Probably because he'd just given her the best oral she'd ever had. "Mmmmm you're tongue game is definitely as good as your bragging. How do you not have a line outside your bedroom with lips service like that?"
A deep laugh rumbled in his chest as he pulled her close. "Oh Precious, while I know how to pleasure a woman, it's rare I that I focus on anyone the way I did you just now." He told her as he kissed her forehead.
"Well now I feel really special." She smiled.
"As you should." He kissed her softly. "Sex for me has always been entertainment. I've always enjoyed it and while my partners never complained, I really didn't care if they got their release. I did what felt right at the time and enjoyed myself. Usually if I went down on a woman, she was also going down on me. You're the first woman I simply wanted to give pleasure to. If I could I'd pleasure you like that daily."
Sarah caressed his cheek as she gazed into his mismatched eyes. "I can't begin to describe how wonderful you made me feel." She kissed him soundly, her tongue brushing against his lips. Jareth returned the kiss and held her close, his hands caressing her bare skin. Breaking the kiss, Sarah bit his bottom lip, causing him to groan. "Now allow me to return the favor."
Sarah kissed her way down his chest slowly, taking her time and exploring his body as he had done with hers. He was lean, but muscular. The perfect vision of a man. His abs were defined with visable six pack, but not to the point of a hulking bodybuilder. She licked and kissed down his abs, her tongue tracing the curves of his muscles.
"Oh Sarah..." he sighed as he rolled on to his back to allow her better access.
Reaching the top of his pants, she smiled as she rubbed her hand over his bulge. "Definitely not a sock."
"It's not a zucchini either, Precious, " which made her laugh. He smiled as he watched her unfasten his pants. He lifted his hips and helped her remove his pants and underwear.
"A little surprised to see you actually wear something under your pants. I thought you went commando." Sarah teased.
"I usually do." He admitted. "But mortal clothing doesn't offer the support my pants back home do. So when Above I'm forced to wear appropriate underthings. Those blasted zippers are a pain against bare flesh as well ."
"I take it you've got it caught it the zipper once or twice?" She questioned as she caressed his cock.
"Only once." He groaned as she squeezed him.
Sarah stroked him firmly, her thumb rubbing his head. "Well it's good you learned quickly how to handle those zippers."
"And why is that, Precious?" Jareth inquired as he ran his fingers through her hair and over her bare shoulders.
"I don't have to worry about hitting a aore spot when I do this." Before Jareth had time to think, she took him completely into her mouth, his head hitting the back of her throat.
"Oh, Sarah..." he closed his eyes and resisted the urge to thrust. He held her head gently as she bobbed it back and forth, sliding him in and out of her mouth.
Sarah smiled feeling his hands massage her scalp. Pulling back, she sucked on the head, her tongue rolling all over it. Letting him slip out of her mouth, she immediately licked up and down his shaft as her hands massaged his balls. His soft groans and they way he purred her name turned her on more and encouraged her to continue. She licked him up and down, sucking gently on the sides. Not an inch was left untouched by her hands or her mouth. While she sucked and kissed his sac, her hands stroked his cock. When she returned to taking his cock in her mouth, her hands massaged his balls.
Jareth bit his bottom lip and groaned as he tried to keep control. Sarah was devouring him like a starving woman and he was loving every moment of it. He could feel his climax nearing and wanted desperately to hold it off. Feeling his peak getting too close, he sat up and pulled her away from his throbbing cock.
"Gods, Sarah." He pulled her on his lap and kissed her roughly.
"I wasn't done." She chuckled when she broke the kiss.
"I nearly was." He replied as he rubbed the tip of his cock against her clit. "I can't wait any longer, love." He kissed her again. "I need to be inside of you."
Sarah lifted her hips and positioned herself over him. Jareth thrusted upwards as she brought her hips down, sheathing himself. "Jareth." Sarah moaned his name as she gripped his shoulders.
They sat like that for a few moments, simply enjoying the feel of being joined with one another. Slowly, Sarah lifted her hips, her hands still gripping his shoulders, and started to ride him. He watched her take control and put his hands on her hips, helping her move up and down on his cock.
"Jareth." She chanted his name as she slammed her hips down over and over, rotating her hips she he hit just the right spot everytime.
"My Sarah." He gripped her ass in his hands, squeezing firmly as she rode him. "My Precious." He worked one hand between them and started rubbing her clit frantically. "I want you to come for me Sarah." He commanded as he fought to hold off his own climax. "I want to feel you come on my cock."
Sarah was panting heavily, her muscles tightening around him, his dirty talk pushing her to reach her release. "Yes! Yes! Oh God! Jareth!"
Feeling her body spasm around him, Jareth thrust up once, twice, and on the third time he felt himself plunge over the cliff as he joined Sarah and spilled deep inside of her in long satisfying waves of pleasure.
They held onto each other, not saying a word and neither wanting to let go for a long time. When their breathing had calmed, they opened their eyes and smiled at one another. "I love you." Sarah whispered before she kissed him.
"I love you too, Sarah." He replied as his hands rubbed up and down her back.
"Jareth, if we don't make it,"
"Shh," he brushed her damp hair from her face. "We'll talk of those things soon. For now, let me savor having you like this a little longer."
"Still have plenty of time. You said we have 13 hours, correct?" He asked.
"Then there's still time. I haven't been in here so long that I've lost my ability to keep track of passing time. Now hush, you obstinate woman. Give me a moment to recover. I plan on ravishing you at least once more before this night is through." He told her confidently before kissing her tenderly.
"Fae bastard." She whispered before kissing him again.
"Yes, but as you said, I'm *your* Fae bastard. A title I plan to live up to." He smirked. The two laughed together as they stared into the eyes of the one they loved.
Chapter 16: As The Fates Would Have It
Sarah woke to the first rays of morning filtering through a tiny filthy window. She didn't even know there was a window.
She sat up and groaned. "I suppose we don't get coffee in a place like this."
A snort came from the Fae beside her. "Likely not."
The night, despite everything had been amazing.
Not just the intimate moments they shared, which had been wonderful, but that despite everything she had found such joy just being with him.
They had redressed before trying to sleep, not wanting the guards to drag them away to the council naked if they overslept.
"It's almost time isn't it." Sarah felt her heart fall.
"Yes. But Sarah, don't despair. Remember, no regrets. If they take your memories away...you'll forget about me, and your life will go on. I can live with knowing you're somewhere safe and happy. I may mourn you always, but I won't regret a thing I did to protect you. It will be worth the pain."
Sarah sniffled a little but they had already talked about all of this." Jareth...I..."
" Shhh." He kissed her softly." No more."
She nodded, her face pinched in worry.
The sat there for their remaining time together, just holding each other.
The door opened and they both looked up. It was Corwin, being allowed in to bring fresh clothing for both of them, carrying his canteen filled with fresh water, and a small loaf of bread he smuggled past the guards.
Sarah and Jareth passed the water between them, and ate the bread. It wasn't much but both were grateful to be able to sate their hunger for the time being.
Corwin had retrieved a very regal looking outfit for his king, but for Sarah...
"Uhhh what is this?" Sarah held the garment up.
"It's a dress. It's magically charmed to adjust to fit." Corwin answered.
"I have to wear this Renaissance Faire reject? And it's *yellow.* I hate yellow." She wrinkled her nose.
"My choices were limited and I don't typically dress women." Corwin said.
Jareth snickered. "He prefers to undress them."
"Really guys today is not the day." Sarah stood up and looked at her reflection in the dirty mirror on the back of the door. "I'm sorry Corwin, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I'm just...ugh. Crap. Alright, better than nothing." She went behind the privacy screen in the corner where the rather primitive facilities were. She got out of her wrinkled clothes and pulled it on. When she had it settled she felt it shift itself adjusting to he curves.
Her sneakers would have to do, as Corwin didn't bring any other shoes.
She came out and they both stared at her.
"I look that bad?" She looked down at herself, unsure.
"You look beautiful Sarah." Jareth said. He had changed and was pulling on his boots.
"Okay, I don't quite believe you, but not going to worry about it now." She grabbed her fanny pack from the floor and fished around for a clip, then smoothed her hair as well as she could and pinned it up out of her face.
Once they were both changed, Jareth and Sarah sat on the bed holding hands and not speaking, just looking at each other, both wondering if this was it.
Corwin politely turned and stared out the window, lost in his own thoughts.
A few minutes later the door opened again.
"Your Majesty, Miss Williams, Sir Corwin, The Council demands your presence in The Great Hall. It has taken all night, but a decision has been reached." The guard announced.
The three silently filed out of the cell. Corwin had picked up any clothing and errant belongings carrying them for his King and his King's Lady as was his duty.
As Jareth stepped out he had to pause to have the shackles put on. The guards gestured for Sarah to go ahead but she refused.
When the heavy chains were in place, Sarah wrapped her arm through Jareth's, refusing to be anywhere but beside him. He looked over, smiled at her and winked, Sarah smiled, nodded, then laid her head on his shoulder as they walked.
Corwin walked slightly behind, quietly fearing for the lives of his king and the woman his king loved.
The group made their way to face the council, and the fate that awaited them.
Sarah's stomach tightened in fear when those huge doors opened and they walked down that long aisle to stand in front of the dias once more. Sarah was taken to one side, and Jareth about 10 feet away. She saw him gesture to Corwin to stay close to her, so he came to stand behind Sarah reaching out and touching her on her back. The guard gave him a dirty look, but Corwin ignored it.
"As for the matter of The Goblin King." The, what Sarah assumed, was the head Anaithnidí, announced with little pretense.
"While we appreciate that The Goblin King may have chosen to ignore our law to save a life, break a sacred law he did. This cannot go unnoticed or unpunished. The gift of moving time is the rarest of gifts and the reasons it cannot be used carelessly above or below are sound. We know not what we affect by using it. We all accept that he may...care for Miss Williams, the fate of one mortal cannot be put above the fates of every other being of the entirety of both worlds. Therefore a lesson must be learned to not be so impetuous. As King, you cannot afford such rash decisions. Goblin King, Do you agree? "
" I do. I do not regret my decision, but I agree it was rash and not well thought out." Jareth answered." I should have tried to find another solution but I was...concerned I did not have the gift of time. I apologize." He bowed his head.
" Accepted, Your Majesty, but your apology is not enough."
He cleared his throat." We have chosen to send you to Inquisitors prison for 1 year. Where you will be rigorously punished for that period on time. This is the minimum amount of punishment we are allowed to give. Be grateful. This decision was not unanimous. If it wasn't for Miss Williams here this Good Company would have given you a 10 year sentence at least. At least 2 of the 13 here at the dias wanted you to pay with your life. If you do such a thing again, it may come to this. You are an asset and a good king. Do see you behave yourself once you return to your throne."
Jareth sucked in his breath and let it out slowly. Inquisitors Prison was called" The Hole" for good reason. It was a veritable black hole of daily torture and misery, but he could survive it.
"Now, Miss Williams. We have several things to discuss with you."
Sarah stood up straight and tried to look as confident as she could even in the yellow dress.
"First, we want to thank you for your work on the underground's behalf. We have firm laws but are a pragmatic people. We do not waste an opportunity to utilize a good asset."
Another Anaithnidí, a woman, stepped forward. "The matter of Sarah Williams has been decided thusly. For your assistance to His Majesty and this council, you will not be punished and you will be allowed to retain your memory and after one year, The Goblin King, once released, if he so chooses, will be allowed to bond you, and you may be taken as his consort if that is still something you both desire. This will give you Underground citizenship and hybrid status, affording you the rights and protections as such."
Sarah's relief was palpable. She almost fainted. Corwin dropped the things he held, stepped forward to support her and didn't care what anyone said.
They heard Jareth mutter "Thank the Gods."
Sarah's eyes met Jareth's.
" Miss Williams we're not done." The woman said loudly to get her attention.
Sarah turned her head back.
" We, the Anaithnidí, and with the Council's permission, would like you to work for us as a human agent, investigating possible crimes there that may have connections here, though we hope you will not take such chances with your wellbeing that you force someone to make such foolish choices as The Goblin King did. You will be compensated for your work, and Sir Corwin here.." She pointed at the man behind Sarah," may liason between us, and serve as your aide while The Goblin King is serving his sentence."
"You want me to work for you?" Sarah was shocked. "You go from wanting me dead to wanting me in your employ?"
The first Anaithnidí gave her a glare. "As I stated, we are a pragmatic people, Miss Williams. I believe also agreeing to help us *there* will make Jareth's sentence *here* a bit easier for him to bear."
Sarah narrowed her eyes. It was a bit of blackmail surely, but she would do what she needed to do.
" Fine, I agree." She said.
" Very good. We will have a contract for you to sign at the Inquisitor's office near the front of the hall. If you do not trust us to be fair, you may have Sir Corwin go over it with you."
The Council stood. The man in the center spoke. "We consider these matters closed. Goblin King, you will be allowed an hour to say your goodbyes and give instructions to your assistant. Then ready or not you will be removed to begin your sentence."
He looked at Sarah. "And Miss Williams if all goes well, at a later date, we *may* discuss full Fae-hood for you. If you and The Goblin King haven't killed each other by then. Seeing as how both of you are astonishingly stubborn."
He smirked and dismissed them, the guards guiding them to a holding room to await Jareth's departure.
The guards removed Jareth's shackles and he immediately grabbed Sarah in a tight embrace. "That went better than I expected it to."
"What's the Inquisitor's Prison?" She asked as she was lifted off the floor, but Jareth ignored her question.
"I never would have believed they would offer you a job." He swung her around, his excitement clear.
Sarah found herself laughing and smiling. "Neither did I, but I think its more of a blackmail than a reward."
Setting her down, Jareth nodded. "I'm sure they'll remind me constantly that they can get to you." He caressed her cheek and rubbed his nose against hers. "I'd prefer you to keep away from them, but at least Corwin will be there to look after you."
"I'll guard her with my life, majesty." Corwin stated as he bowed.
"I know you will my friend." Jareth smiled and patted him on the back. "Continue looking after the Kingdom in my absence and keep dear Sarah out of mischief. This does mean no wish aways for the year so your main duty will be to keep the goblins in check, and paperwork. Anything that can wait, I'll take care of when I return. Hoggle can assist you."
"Of course, Sire." He shook Jareth's hand and turned to Sarah. "I shall wait outside for you, so you two can enjoy the brief time you have." He bowed once more and exited the room.
Jareth watched his aide leave and then looked around the room. There were two guards at every door, giving them no privacy at all. "Shame there are so many guards, but it's to be expected when I'm to be taken to the hole."
Jareth sighed, "Another name for the Inquisitor's Prison." He explained as he took her hand and led her to a bench, and avoided telling her about the horrors that awaited him for the next year. It would be painful and he might come close to breaking, but he knew he never would. Not when he knew Sarah would be waiting for him. He sat and pulled her on to his lap, his arms wrapping securely around her waist. "Guess you'll have to deal with bearing my mark, Precious." He teased.
"I'll wear it with pride." She said as she wrapped her arms around him. "A year... sound like such a long time."
"Only a year, my dear." He kissed her softly. "Then we can spend forever together, and that's not long at all."
Sarah kissed him tenderly and did her best not to cry. Jareth was right, it was just a year. They had been prepared for the worst that morning. they expected death at worst, and her memories wiped at best. "At least Corwin will be by my side. He'll help me learn the laws of the Underground and hopefully avoid conflict with the Anti people."
"Anaithnidi." Jareth chuckled as he corrected her. "How to say the name of the people you'll be working for is the first thing you should learn." His hands rested on her ass and pulled her closer, even through all the layers of frills the dress had, she could feel his desire for her. "The hardest part of this year is going to be not being able to see you. Even before I realized how important you are, I used to check on you at least once a week. It comforted me to see you living your life happily."
"Then it's a good thing you won't be able to see me. I'm not sure I'll be very cheerful."
Jareth reached up and unfastened the top buttons of her dress. "Jareth." She scolded him but made no attempt to stop him.
He pulled the collar open so he could reach her neck. He kissed and nibbled it gently. "I could ravish you right now, Precious. I doubt the guards would stop me."
"Jareth, don't!" She tried to pull away but he held tight.
"Relax, Precious." He grinned. "I would then have to kill all of them for seeing your glorious body, and that surely would increase my prison term." He sucked on her neck gently at first and slowly moved down her neck. Pulling back, he smiled at his handy work. "That's a much better mark."
Sarah rubbed her hand over her neck. "Did you give me a hickey?"
"I believe that is what you humans call it." He kissed her nose. " I call it marking you as mine." He kissed her passionately, his tongue pressing against her lips, seeking entrance, which she gladly granted him.
They sat there, making out for several minutes, neither caring that a dozen Fae were watching them. Pulling back, Jareth kissed her cheek. That mark will fade long before I can return to you, but this one won't." He reached under his shirt and pulled out his medallion. He unclasped the chain and then fastened it back around Sarah's neck.
"It should give you a little extra protection and will give you a link to the Labyrinth. Use this to call for Corwin as well." He ran his fingers through her hair and watched her as she examined it.
"It feels warm."
"That's the Labyrinth. It knows you're the champion." He kissed her again and hugged her tightly. "I love you, Sarah."
"I love you too."
They spent the rest of their hour just holding one another and sharing kisses. When the guards came for him, he gave Sarah one last kiss and whispered, "Be safe, Sarah and remember that I love you. Only you had the power to capture the heart of The Goblin King, and it's yours forever."
She watched him leave and then turned to go herself. Corwin was waiting outside as he promised he would be.
He took her to the Inquisitor's Office and she signed her contract, which Corwin thoroughly examined first.
When everything was settled, Corwin returned her to her hotel in New Orleans and would stay nearby in his own until she went home. The rooms were paid for for another week, but he gathered any personal belongs of his King's and took him to his room, then informed the clerk Jareth had to return home for an emergency and wouldn't be returning.
Sarah reluctantly continued her vacation, because technically she was working. It was difficult and depressing now, but she had to finish her job before starting work for the Anaithnidi. She would be well paid, remarkably well paid, her eyes had bugged out at the monetary compensation they were giving her listed in the contract, but she still would take freelance writing assignments for the magazine otherwise people would wonder where the money was coming from and she wouldn't be able to explain it.
She counted down the days until she could return home, constantly worried about what was happening to Jareth. It was going to be a long year.
Chapter 17: Home Is Where The Heart Is
When Sarah finally got home to Buffalo, where she had moved after college. She cried for 3 days straight.
All the fear and pain, and loss, and *love* overwhelmed her.
Corwin visited in mid breakdown to check on her, and was alarmed and at a loss at what to do.
"I'll be fine Cor, this is what women do. I have to go back to work on Monday, and with my new night job, a year will pass by quickly."
"I am afraid I haven't been afforded much time to pursue romance." He said.
"Then you should. I'm sure there are plenty of underground women who would be into it. Or guys, whatever your preference is. Go forth and find one. Or two, or twenty."
"Gods I don't know what I'd do with twenty paramours." Corwin chuckled. "It's been a while, but you're my first priority for the next year. King's orders."
"First of all ask them for fashion advice. That dress was uuuugly. And that's the last thing Jareth saw me in." Sarah teased.
Thinking about Jareth made her sob again.
Corwin sat next to her gingerly offering her his shoulder, she took it. This was new to him too. Being the aide to a female would be a learning process.
Sarah picked up the TV remote and turned it on. . "Here Cor, let me introduce you to the sappy TV movie. Bad acting, repetitive plots, and completely addictive."
He stayed there for several hours, watching over his King's love. Keeping vigil as Jareth wanted. When he finally left she was sleeping soundly, curled up on her sofa under a warm blanket clutching his King's amulet to her chest.
Monday came and Sarah when back to work at the newspaper.
She was happy to see her friends, and made plans for a few outings. It was hard, but she knew if she laid around moping for a year it wouldn't do any good, it would still be a year and Jareth would yell at her for wasting time. So she went out with friends, worked, and tried not to stare at clocks and calendars.
It got easier when she went home to see her family and celebrate Toby's 13th birthday in the summer.
Seeing Toby, knowing he was safe, it made everything seem worthwhile to save him and see him. Someday he would meet Jareth and Sarah would tell him everything. But for now she hugged him a million times and teared up when he blew out his candles.
When Sarah replayed that night in the alley, she realized something strange had happened. When Elizabeth had been holding her in a death grip, She had experienced some surge of strange powers that had blown the witch away from her. At first Sarah had assumed as she had been fighting for her life, some rush of adrenaline had occurred to give her the strength to push the woman away, but as she replayed it and replayed it, she couldn't recall pushing the witch, that she had felt a rush of heat that a blown her wannabe killer across the alley.
She asked Corwin but he didn't know. She wondered if it was something M. Aubert had done. She had thanked Madame Bertille but never could find that voodoo shop again.
The year crept by, Sarah worked, and did research for the Anaithnidí without complaint. When the anniversaryo f the night she met Jareth came, she allowed herself a night of wallowing.
She would ask for updates on Jareth when she went underground to met with her bosses, but all any of them would tell her is that he was alive.
Not that wasn't glad to hear that but she found this mysterious order of Fae provided little in the way comfort or understanding.
She spent the holidays with her family and kissed Toby on the cheek for New Year's Eve. The next year would be different.
She planned carefully her yearly vacation, timing it to begin the day before the year was up, and choosing to go back to New Orleans and be waiting for Jareth where they had found each other, at the same hotel. This city would always be special to them.
The New Orleans newspaper was running a story on the year anniversary of the end of "The Devil of New Orleans" murders. Theories, recollections, pieces on the victims. Speculation on why it abruptly ended. Sarah saved them for Jareth to see.
It made her proud that they had stopped the murders and ended the killers even though it cost them dearly. They did the right thing.
The day of Jareth's release Sarah paced back and forth in the fancy suite she had rented. Corwin was bringing him to where she was then he would make himself scarce for a few days.
She had bought a sexy dress and strappy sandals, got her hair styled, make up done, and tried to make everything perfect for him. She'd rented a large suite on the top floor, but Corwin took a room of his own to give them privacy. She ordered 2 bottles of chilled champagne and ordered in food from the restaurant they had eaten in that he loved so much.
Sarah wasn't a big fan of wearing dresses, they were damned inconvenient, but for this she would gladly wear one. The top part was a tight strapless corset, the skirt showing a generous amount of thigh. The only accessories a pair of earrings and Jareth's necklace.
"Breathe Sarah, just breathe." She kept telling herself.
Deep down she was worried when he saw her he would think what a mistake he had made. That he'd been a fool to sacrifice himself for her.
Finally there was a knock on the door.
She jumped and ran to it, pulling it open.
"Sarah.." Jareth, her Jareth was in front of her. His eyes flared with emotion as they met hers, and all her worries that he would regret everything fell away.
How he felt was clear. The same love shone there that had been there the last time they had seen each other, and the world around them wasn't there anymore.
All that existed was them in that moment.
She was in his arms and he was holding her, kissing her all over her face, and she began to sob with joy.
Corwin watched the reunion from the side, but as he always did, politely turned away after a moment. Inside he too was emotional.
Jareth pushed her back and his eyes examined every inch. "Sarah...my precious girl, you are a goddess. Is this for me?"
"Well it wasn't for him. He still learning." Sarah joked between her tears, gesturing at Corwin.
Jareth laughed and winced. "May we sit? I'm afraid I am a bit less than 100% as of yet."
Sarah was surprised to see him walking rather stiffly with a pronounced limp.
"Oh Jareth what did they do to you?" She and Corwin helped him to a chair.
His eyes were a bit haunted. "Nothing that was not expected. I'll heal. Now that I'm away from...*there* my magic returned, it won't be long. Some rest and a generous dose of you, my love, will go a long way. The physical punishment was nothing to the efforts to mental breaking they try to bring you to, but I did not break.
He reach over and cupped her cheek "You would be proud of me Sarah. They threw everything they could at me. I withstood it all. I think even the Head Inquisitor was impressed." He smiled through his pain.
"That reminds me.." Sarah took off his amulet and placed it around Jareth's neck. "Where it belongs." She kissed him.
He held it in his hands and felt the warmth of The Labyrinth welcome it's King home.
Sarah broke the spell by nervously continuing to speak, trying to offer him every comfort at once "Anyway, I have food, and drink, and you can take a shower, Corwin brought clothes, anything you want, we'll get it, do you want..."
Jareth held up his hand." I want to hold you. And I want Corwin to leave. Nothing personal, friend. Feel free to go out and enjoy your evening. " He turned to his aide who looked a little bit at a loss of what to do.
Corwin bowed, looking relieved at being dismissed." Understood, sire. I'll only be a summons away." He winked at Sarah and disappeared.
When Corwin was going Jareth tone changed to an intimate growl of desire. He reached over and pulled her close, grasping her hips and looking up at her "Now, as to what else I want. I want you to tell me everything you've done, everything I've missed. I want you to take off that dress and let me see all of you, and stay that way for the rest of the evening. Later, after that hot shower, a decent meal, and a nap while you lie naked in that bed with me, I want to fuck you properly senseless and hear you screaming my name. Is that something you are agreeable to, precious?" He grinned that familiar devilish grin she loved, that gave her chills.
" Oh yes, Your Majesty, I am agreeable to that." Sarah purred back as she straddled his lap and kissed him deeply.
It hurt but he didn't care. Her warm presence was already causing him to feel revitalized.
"I love you so much." Sarah whispered between kisses. "I missed you, my Fae bastard."
He laughed. "And I love you, you insufferable woman. Now, get rid of the dress. Do not defy me, woman."
Sarah smiled and reached for her zipper, not taking her eyes from his.
His eyes changed color as she pulled the zipper down on the back of her dress.
"I have a surprise for you." Sarah said.
She stood and turned in front of him but still within touching distance, pulling the dress down to her hips.
He followed the curve of her bare back with his hands. He has missed touching her so badly. There were many nights during his incarceration when his body throbbed as he pictured her naked and under him.
He wasn't allowed to do anything about it though. He was watched all the time. So he suffered. Besides he wasn't all that keen on guards watching him have a wank, no matter how good it might have felt in the moment.
"Fucking hell, Sarah..." He stopped suddenly. There was something on her backside at the base of her spine "Is that..."
She looked over her shoulder."It is. A tattoo. Do you like it?"
It was his amulet permanently embedded in her skin. And it was sexy as hell.
His cock started to swell despite him trying to not become too excited. He wasn't sure he could do either of them much good without rest.
"You're glorious. Did it hurt?" He rubbed his fingers over it.
"A little, but it wasn't bad. I just wanted your mark to be something everyone could see. So they know, I am a taken woman."
"That you are." He kissed her tattoo. "And will be. Over and over and over."
"Mmm." Sarah closed her eyes, enjoying the touch of his lips on her.
Jareth grab her dress and pulled it down, uncovering her ass. All she had on was a pair of skimpy black thong underwear underneath. He placed feather soft kisses over her ass squeezing her hips as she bent forward.
"I thought you weren't up for sex yet." Sarah teased.
"I'm really not, but how can I resist touching you? It's been a year Sarah, despite most of my body protesting anything I do, there are certain parts telling me I should do it anyway and deal with the pain."
Sarah turned to face him and he immediately focused on her bare breasts. It only made things worse.
He leaned forward and wrapped his lips around one nipple sucking it to full hardness.
" Jareth... Oh God.." Sarah's knees got weak.
He stopped and grinned up at her. "If you wish. Some think of me as one."
"Well your ego hasn't suffered much." Sarah said.
He grinned up at her wickedly. "Never."
"Just relax." Sarah told him as she pushed him back gently. "Let me spoil you."
She helped him out of his cloak, jacket, and boots, removing his gloves and pushing his shirt open and off. The scars and wounds he bore would heal, but it hurt her to see them. She traced them with her fingers and kissed every one. She didn't cry or say anything about them. There were things that didn't need to be talked about tonight. That's not what he needed from her.
As he watched, she knelt in front of him, her eyes never moving from his.
"Sarah..." His voice was raspy and full of desire.
"Shhhh." She took his hand and kissed it.
She pushed between his legs and kissed up his thighs over the fabric.. "Just relax." she repeated.
He leaned back for her, and she explored his abdomen with her lips and tongue.
Sarah slowly lowered his zipper and tugged at his pants while he lifted his hips for her to remove them. More scars to kiss, but they weren't her main focus. As he was wearing human clothing he had worn underwear, and his excitement was obvious.
She gave him a naughty smile and ran her fingers over the hard ridge of flesh. Jareth sighed and hissed in pleasure at the smallest touch.
"Someone is happy to see me." She teased. She kissed him over the fabric.
"I can't promise I'll last long. I feel I should apologize in advance." He said with some regret.
"I don't mind. This is moment for you, not for me. Well it is still for me, because this is aaaalll mine." She tugged his underwear down and freed him.
He was rock hard already. "Well at least one of my Jareths is up and ready." Sarah joked as she took him in hand and moved it up and down over his cock. His hips jerked in response.
Sarah sank her mouth over him, and he practically exploded then and there.
Her soft lips, her sweet tongue licking his erection. It was almost painful, if felt so good.
She watched his face as she pleasured him. His eyes had rolled back, and his mouth hung open. He wrapped his hands in her hair and thrust forward involuntarily, nearly gagging her. She wouldn't hold it against him. He needed this. He needed to feel pleasure again.
It didn't take long, just as he had said. Another couple of minutes and he gasped and moaned her name as he came, his body stiffening and then relaxing as he let go.
Warmth filled her mouth, Sarah swallowed several times to take it all, giving him his sweet release. When the last pulse of his essence had passed, she slid her mouth off of him and cleaned him gently with her tongue.
He was practically falling out of the chair. When he was done he forced himself to sit up.
She was now just sitting there her head laying on his thigh as she looked up at him.
Her eyes glowed with love.
He laughed. "Yes, but I'm nowhere near satisfied. It will take much more. And then of course I must attend to you as well."
She stood up. "We have all night for that. No rush."
He grabbed her and pulled her forward, laying his head against her flat belly. He looped a finger around her thong and pulled it down and off as she held onto his shoulders. "What are you..."
"Just enjoy, love." He cupped her sex, using his thumb to rub her clit and sliding a finger inside, pumping slowly. She was soaked.
"Oh...I..." She groaned at the sensation of a second finger joining the first.
He sucked at her nipples and a few minutes later she cried out as she too came.
He released her to stand but she was too wobbly so she stayed leaning against him until she caught her breath. He removed his hand and licked his fingers one at a time.
"You are delicious. That's just an appetizer. I'm feeling much better. Thanks to you." He said.
"Me too. Even though I wasn't feeling bad in the first place." She sat on his lap and kissed him.
"Why don't we shower, and eat, and then go to bed. You can get that nap. " She suggested. "Plus we need to decide some things about our life together."
"We can deal with all of that tomorrow and ever after," Jareth replied. "The rest sounds like a fantastic reunion to me. Well except the nap. On second thought, we can sleep later. Much later. We've more important things to do."
"Oh I couldn't agree more."
"Finally , she agrees with me. It's a miracle." He threw a hand up.
"Fae bastard." She laughed.
"But I'm your Fae bastard. Would you want me any other way?" His brow rose.
"No. I love you in spite of it. Or in part, because of it."
"And I prefer you stubborn, argumentative, and insufferable. Loving an agreeable woman is boring. Apparently." He agreed. "Keeps things interesting."
"Let's go take that shower." She pulled him up and guided him to the bathroom.
He gladly joined her, as he always would.