Jareth jumped when Hoggle appeared behind him. "What'chu doing here..?" He angled, his bushy eyebrows low in suspicion.
Jareth drew himself up to his full height. "Can a King not walk through his own domain without being badgered by riffraff..?" Hoggle grumbled, but said little else. The King of the Goblins stared coldly at the doors to the labyrinth until they swung open.
Taking a self assured step inside, he paused. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this side of the labyrinth. He assessed the grubby walls, faint clusters of lichen catching his eye.
"Cosy, isn't it?!" Hoggle appeared, and Jareth clutched his chest with a bellowing sort of sound.
"You're not funny!" He screamed, but Hoggle had already disappeared, the doors closing behind him. "Prat..." Jareth sniffed, standing straighter.
The Goblin King meandered through the narrow walkway; he was sure there was a turn somewhere around here... or a secret entrance—
"Ello!" A voice chirped. Jareth turned slowly.
"Oh, its you..."
"And how is his 'ighness today?" The tiny creature smiled.
"Peachy..." Jareth lied.
"Come inside and 'av a nice cup'a tea!" The worm implored. Jareth sucked his teeth before nodding quickly.
How Jareth managed to fit in that hole was entirely due to a suspension of disbelief. And magic - that helped too.
"She's a chatterbox most of the time..." The worm was busying himself with a minuscule teapot. "Tells you all the latest gossip! For instance, there's a family of centipedes three stones over... You would not believe— Oh! Where are my manners; how do you like your tea? Honey? Milk?"
"Both." Jareth nodded. He stared at 'the missus' who was perched directly across from him.
"She'll look so fancy when she's done..!" The worm smiled to himself with pride. He then went very quiet, and Jareth felt something close to guilt.
Not that he ever felt those sorts of emotions.
"But..?" Jareth angled.
"Well, I'm just a worm - and she's—"
"—not." The worm looked over the chrysalis sadly.
"Thinks I'm a caterpillar - can't blame her..! I do look a bit like one..." Jareth took the tea that was offered to him, choosing to stay silent.
The worm was a special type of creature that mimicked the more poisonous blue caterpillars roaming the labyrinth. It was an easy mistake to make...
The blue caterpillar found its home in grubby little holes scattered throughout the maze, and when the time was right, they migrated to the brighter forests.
"You're worried that she will use her wings to leave." Jareth piped up.
The worm nodded, his tiny face screwed up in sadness.
"I'm sorry." Jareth didn't know how else to console the creature. The sad truth was that you couldn't make someone stay if they didn't want to - even if you begged and made a fool of yourself...
Jareth was about to make an excuse to leave when there was a strange sort of sound. The chrysalis was starting to open. He noted the mournful look on his subject's face.
"I'm... sure it will be fine." He chanced, feeling stupid. Jareth couldn't promise such a thing, yet here he was trying anyway. "Goodbye."
As soon as Jareth left the little hole in the wall, he hung back a moment. It wasn't that he cared, or anything...
Some seconds later something colourful burst out of the wall, flapping its wings. Jareth felt that niggling almost-guilt again.
Except it turned to surprise when the butterfly changed direction, flying right back into its hole again. He could just about make out a pair of warm voices, chattering excitedly.
Jareth shook his head, walking off.
The King of the Goblins sighed at the pair— or was it, the quartet..? He had no idea what was more politically correct...
"Give me your best riddle, then." Jareth smirked.
"Riddle..?" The goblins stared curiously at him. "Oh, YES! Well... one of us always tells the truth—"
"It's you." Jareth pointed to the red one, who squeaked in surprise. "Don't you have any better material?" He sounded bored and petulant.
"Well... What has four legs in the—"
"Man." Jareth sighed, sagging on the spot. "Another."
"If you have me, you want to share me, but if you share me—"
"A secret." Jareth snapped. "A hard one, perhaps?"
The door goblins gave each other a look.
"I can start a war or end one, I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless, I might be snared with a glance, but no force can compel me to stay; What am I?" •
Jareth was silent for a moment. And then he frowned. "Shut up." He pushed past one of the guards, ripping the door nearly off it's hinges. "Just... Shut up." He took a step — and promptly fell several feet.
The King of the Goblins glowered as one pair of helping hands seemed to be supporting his person just a little too eagerly.
"Oh for the love of..." He grumbled, thrashing around. "Stop this at once, do you hear me?!"
"Aw, is someone glum?" A pair of hands moved to imitate a mouth and eyes.
"I think the King needs to cheer up."
"He does." Another pair nodded, many others following suit.
"Put me down. Right. Now." Jareth hissed.
"He chose down..?"
"Can he do that?"
"You do know what's down there, right..?"
"OF COURSE I DO, I BUILT THIS DUMP!"
"No need to shout..."
The hands gently guided him down until he was in the oubliette below. One pair reached down with a sad expression. "Are you... sure, Your Highness?"
"Yes." Jareth huffed when the lid creaked shut.
Jareth's tantrum lasted half an hour, and then he was in the corridors leading to the sewers.
The false alarms all gave him cautious looks; none of them brave enough to speak. Jareth slumped against a wall. "I know you don't get to say it often..." He finally spoke. "Go on. Impress me."
Each and every stone face bellowed and screamed their piece. Jareth's hair even fluttered when the one nearest to him hissed 'Beware!', the floor under his feet rumbling when another monologued that if he didn't leave now, he would certainly perish.
When silence descended, the faces all glanced around nervously. Jareth broke that silence, his gloved hands clapping. "Haunting." He smiled. "You're getting better..." Jareth playfully wagged a finger in emphasis. The many stone faces blushed and chattered bashfully amongst themselves as he made his way down the corridor.
Jareth managed to find a ladder someways down, and climbed it, his head popping out from inside an urn. Ah, so that's where that led, of course...
It didn't take Jareth long to find the wiseman. "Oh!" The man smiled. His hat chirped as well. "It's nice to see you out and about, young man—"
"—Yes." Jareth mumbled. "How are... things?"
"Oh, quite good, quite good." The man nodded. "And you? It's been a while since you've been out of the—"
"Must get awwwfully lonely up there." The hat then spoke. "All on your own. In the castle. By yourself..!"
"I have... the goblins to keep me company." Jareth whispered, looking away.
"I don't envy that..." The hat squeaked when it's wearer shooed it with one hand.
"Don't be so rude!" He looked sadly at Jareth. "I am sorry..."
"No need. I was leaving anyway." Jareth turned on his heel, stalking off.
"That was your fault! You and your big mouth!" The hat squawked loudly. "You know he doesn't have any friends!" Jareth's shoulders hunched. "No, I will not shut up— w-what do you mean ' he can hear me'..?"
Jareth stared at the door knockers. One kept mumbling, the other screaming "WHAT?!" every so often.
Jareth took both of their knockers out. No one had ventured to the labyrinth after—
They didn't need their knockers anymore, he reasoned.
"Oh, it feels so good to get that thing out!" The one on the right cried in relief.
"Oh, so you've finally stopped mumbling!" The other sounded smug. "About time too!" Jareth rolled his eyes. Idiots...
"Which is the best way to go?" He addressed the pair.
The knockers looked at each other nervously. "Well..."
"That all depends on where you want to go?" The left knocker finished.
"I don't suppose one of you leads to the Above Ground?" They looked sad, and Jareth shook his head. "A foolish idea; forget I mentioned it." As he approached the right knocker, it's door swung open obediently - not wishing to put the King in an even fouler mood. "Thank you." He said snippily. Jareth walked through, pretending he couldn't feel two sets of patina eyes following him.
When the door closed behind the goblin, he heard them begin to chatter almost immediately.
"Been so miserable since she left..."
"Such a lovely girl..."
Jareth kicked through the leaves that littered the forbidden forest, much like an angry child. What was the point of this?! Retracing her steps in such a way—
No, he was keeping his lonely residents company. That was what he was doing. A public service, actually! And what thanks had he gotten?!
Jareth danced a magic dance with the Fireys - until they tried to pull his head off, and then he'd threatened the lot of them with the bog.
"Useless articles..." He glowered, stamping through the forest. He finally came to a clearing - a very smelly clearing... "Dear lord..." He hadn't been this way in many years - threatening people with the bog was usually enough that Jareth rarely had to follow up on it.
He then spied two figures, one large, and one small.
"Oh..! Sire!" Sir Didymus bowed very quickly. "What brings you to our humble abode?
Jareth was pinching his nose with one hand. "Just... passing through..." Was his nasally reply.
"Would'st thou like to join us for tea? Sir Hoggle should be along any minute—!"
"—NO!!! I mean... no... thank you... I must be off." Jareth skipped over the newly built bridge, holding his breath.
"Strange chap, isn't he?" Didymus chortled.
"Strange..." Ludo nodded.
Jareth grumbled as he made his way through the junkyard; nearly home...
He jumped when one of the junk piles screamed at him. "Watch it!"
"Apologies..." Jareth pouted, not meaning a single syllable. "That's... a very nice tin can." He pointed to the dented thing perched on her head, and she smiled.
"I told the rest of them it was!" The other junk Goblins tutted and shook their heads behind her. "Was there something you were looking for..?" She angled.
"Are you sure..?" She led him to a very familiar looking door. "She's been waiting, you know—"
When the door opened, there sat Sarah Williams on her bed. She smiled expectantly at him.
Jareth faltered for a moment before slamming the door shut. "What's wrong with you..?" He whispered. The junk goblin cowered. "You think yourself funny?!" He had a right mind to send her to the bog.
But Jareth did not send anyone to the bog. Instead, he did what he was best at - he ran away.
Traipsing up the stairs to the goblin city, he finally made his way to the castle.
It was late, the last sun now starting to set, and Jareth, starved of company so he was, didn't wish to wake up his subjects. He crept silently up the stairs to his throne room.
The last thing he needed was a racket after the day he'd had.
There he was, trying to keep his poor subjects company - but they all had company already!
The worm had his wife. Hoggle and those other dimwits had each other. The goblins guarding the doors - even the helping hands!
The false alarms. The wiseman and his hat. The bloody door knockers. The Fireys..! The junk goblins, too.
In fact the only one that needed company was—
"Me." Jareth whispered.
Finally at the top of the stairs, he paused. Sat in his throne, with a crystal in her hand, sat—