[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Jareth roused from sleep in a slow stretch, feeling Sarah's head shift against his chest, her arms tangled around his waist. He smiled slowly, looking down, pleased to see her naked form against his own, a fierce satisfaction filling the space between his ribs. Last night was the first night they'd simply slept together, exhausted and still satisfied from the previous day's antics, and it had been his favorite evening with her so far. As much as he loved bringing her to climax, there was something to be said about just sleeping beside her with her limbs mingled between his own. You belong here, with me.
He kissed the top of her head as she leaned back, stretching with a small yawn, having also woken when he shifted. She smiled up at him in turn, briefly tilting her head back, her eyes still closed, so he could press his lips to hers. "Good morning," she greeted with a small whisper, opening her eyes and looking over him with a small sheepish smile. "Sorry I fell asleep on you last night during the carriage ride. I see you got us back safely."
He chuckled faintly, cupping her chin up so he could continue their kisses, murmuring to her between them. "Yes. Can't imagine why you were worn out…"
She laughed softly against his lips, making him grin as he nibbled at her jaw softly as she turned and snuggled closer against his side, tightening her arms around his waist. "Right? So horribly rude of me. I'll put my finger on it soon, but it does seem to be escaping me…"
"You were magnificent last night, love. I've never come so hard in my whole life," he huskily whispered against her lips, dragging her mouth to his to again as he kissed her. "My cock is still recovering from that little display."
She sighed softly, a sexy little whisper of a noise, as he smoothed his hand down her stomach, gently teasing her sex with his fingers. He couldn't help it, he wanted to bring her some sort of peak to let her know he could do the same, feeling her shiver against his side. Just let me hear and feel you. I want to watch you as you did with me last night.
She moaned softly, her eyes fluttering closed as her legs fell apart and he looked down, teasing her more and more with each passing second, watching her body respond. She canted her head back against his shoulder, lips parting as she whispered his name when he stroked her folds, just lightly skirting his fingers against her. He shuddered and pulled her tongue into his mouth, muffling her cries, tilting his head forward to cup her chin and gently thrust his fingers inside her once she was properly ready. He groaned softly, feeling her slick warmth accept him easily, and he did everything in his power to draw out her climax in slow teasing strokes of his fingertips.
Watching, he stared, enthralled, as her breathing slowly climbed to a soft pant as his hand moved slightly faster when she urged him on with a whisper, her nipples tightening and her hips angling up, brow creasing in concentration as she moaned. He noticed the way her body clamped down on his fingers just before she reached her pinnacle and the low mewling sound she made before he eased her into a slow climax. He swallowed thickly in an echoing satisfaction as he felt her clench in soft spasms against his fingers after several minutes of gentle pumps and soft squeezes of her clit between his thumb and the palm of his hand, her cries soft and pleading. His cock throbbed at the broken noises she made as she rode out her climax but he ignored it, continuing to offer anything she needed – a specific touch, a slow gentle thrust of his hand, a tease against her clit – until finally she sagged and asked him to stop, she was spent. She is perfect. Look at her, just look at her….
"That sound…so beautiful…" He whispered as she panted, falling back against his body, her face flushed in the aftermath of her climax, trying to regain her senses. She blushed and opened her eyes, watching him look over her form with admiration. His eyes lifted to meet hers and he smiled slowly as he pulled his hand from her and sucked on his fingers, making her own eyes widen in shock and her head turn away shyly, a small smile tugging at her lips even as she blushed. He laughed and pulled her back, drawing her up against him and nibbling at her neck. She felt his arousal and started to reach down but he stopped her, gently tugging her wrists away before she touched him.
"Later, love. This was just about you," He kissed her hands, bringing them up to his lips, when she was going to protest. She smiled slowly and snuggled closer, once more slowly dozing and he held her, stroking her head and watching her fall back to sleep.
How you turn my world, you precious, precious thing. I love you.
Roughly an hour later, once they were more awake, she leaned up and reached over him to grab her cell phone. She read the time and looked back at him. "Want to go shopping? The stores should be open now." She showed him the time and he nodded, smoothing her hair back from her face.
"Sure, love. I know a few places you might like to visit. What did you have in mind for Toby and your step-mother?"
Sarah shrugged, thinking. "Something unique. Cait said there's some perfume shops and a toy store here. Maybe a gag gift or two, I'm not sure. I haven't even figured what to get my dad. What about you? No goblin gifts for good behavior?"
He groaned, rolling his eyes and wiping at his face as he leaned back against the pillows. "Gods forbid if they ever had straight sugar, I'd never get them under control again."
Sarah laughed faintly at the look of horror on his face. "Just a suggestion," she teased, amused as he recoiled at the idea. He shuddered and shook his head and she grinned, kissing his cheek and dialing Caitlin's cell phone, putting them on speaker as she curled against Jareth's side. It rang for a few seconds and suddenly picked up and Sarah tipped the phone towards her mouth. "Hey, Cait. It's Sarah. Did you guys want to go shopping again with me and Jar…"
Her voice trailed off and her eyes went wide as Caitlin tried to answer back but it ended up a moan halfway through her response and male cursing was heard in the speaker, followed by a soft click. She threw the offending item across the room and Jareth tossed his head back and laughed.
It was another half hour before they finally made it out of the bed. They took their time dressing after taking a slow shower together, simply washing one another and sharing slow kisses, both of them still recovering from the previous day's wild couplings.
Sarah dressed in shorts and a soft lavender top, tying her hair up in a loose bun while Jareth waved a hand, dressing himself in a pair of tight black jeans and top with matching leather vest. She grinned at seeing his darker blonde spiked hair again and he tugged her to him when she tried reaching forwards to ruffle the tips, kissing her for several moments before taking her hand in his and heading out into the streets of the quarter.
After they both had grabbed a cup of coffee from the hotel's breakfast bar, they wandered the streets leisurely, appearing for all intents and purposes just another normal couple doing some simple tourist shopping. Jareth enjoyed the walk with Sarah, her fingers linked with his, making his head swim and his heart pound in his chest with how satisfying it felt just being with her. His earlier revelation kept reappearing in his head during several small stops in the stores lining the streets. As he watched her inspect shelves of toys for Toby or try on a ridiculous sun hat for her step mother, he almost interrupted the moment several times to tell her he loved her. He had to physically restrain himself from muttering the term, biting on his lower lip, when she'd smile over at him and her eyes softened. Not yet, not yet. Time's time for that later. Don't ruin the moment.
Inside Hové, a perfume shop located across from the impressive courthouse in the Quarter, once more he found Sarah frowning in concentration as she studied the scent listing curiously. Jareth leaned against the counter, amused as she tried different ones and made comical little faces. He quickly learned she leaned more towards the musky scents of cologne rather than the cloyingly sweet scents of perfume. "Don't like these?" He asked curiously, gesturing to the discarded pile of tester scent sticks with a small smile.
She looked back over at him and blushed, shaking her head. "No really, no. Is that odd, not liking most women's perfume?"
"Not at all, love. Frankly, I'm not a fan, either. I'm just surprised is all. You prefer lotions in a sweeter scent."
Sarah looked up from where she'd been testing more scents, her eyebrows rising in surprise. "You noticed that, huh?"
Jareth shrugged and smiled. I notice everything about you.
She smiled and nodded slowly as she looked back over the scents. "They're less intense and don't last as long. I tend to stick to flowers or herbs for sweet smells but I have a very picky sense of smell. Some of them are just too sweet for me. If you're ever buying me something, please for the love of god avoid gardenia. My mother and step mother loved that stuff the whole time I was growing up and it makes me nauseous just thinking about it."
Jareth laughed faintly, trying to envision the scent she spoke of. Shaking his head, he grinned. "Don't think I've had the pleasure, but duly noted."
"Here," Sarah said, dampening a tester scent stick with one of the host of bottles in front of her. "They sell it here. The damn stuff should be illegal, but apparently their generation still buy the stuff in the truckloads. Prepare your nostrils, though."
Jareth made a show of standing up and tensing before he leaned over and smelled the stick she brought close to his nose. Sarah grinned faintly and shook her head. "Ok, bud, tease me all you want but…well, you'll see what I mean in about two seconds."
He inhaled – and promptly started sneezing, shrinking back in horror. "Good gods, my teeth hurt."
Sarah laughed and set it aside. "Told you. That stuff is like napalm."
"I swear I will never buy you that awful scent." He inhaled sharply a few times then tentatively took a few sniffs through his nose. He sagged, relieved the scent had dissipated. "And I will believe you from now on." He watched as she pointed to a few items and placed her order with the clerk. "Which ones did you pick?"
"These…" She pointed and bit back a grin when he gave her a dubious look. She laughed faintly. "You'll like them. That one's for you." She pointed to one in particular and he stilled, swallowing as his heart clenched.
"You bought me cologne?" Sarah nodded nervously and blushed, urging him to smell it.
"Make sure you like it before I pay for it. But it…reminds me of you and the Labyrinth. I hope you approve." She turned then and began to look around the store with a little more enthusiasm than was warranted, suddenly shy.
He looked down and took the scent test strip and inhaled. He froze as the scent hit him and found her tentatively peering back over her shoulder at him with a curious expression. He nodded and she looked relieved before grabbing a few scented powders and walking up to the register to pay for her items. He looked back down at the tester and read the label – Spanish Moss.
It smelled like a combination of a clean shave, spices, and sandal wood. He wore something very similar back in the Underground and smiled again, setting aside the scent stick then moving up to where Sarah was about to hand the woman her credit card and instead grabbed her wrist and handed the woman enough cash to cover the bill. Sarah opened her mouth to object and he shook his head, kissing her wrist.
The woman took Jareth's money and smiled between the two of them. "So how long have you two been together?"
"Oh, we're not…"
"About a week," Jareth replied for her, staring at her with a smile. Sarah swallowed and turned a deeper shade of pink as the woman handed them their purchases, neatly tucked in a brown sac, and together they walked out of the shop.
It didn't escape his notice that Sarah didn't correct his slip and once more he found himself hoping.
[Brennan's Restaurant, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Another hour later, they'd accumulated a small arsenal of purchases for Sarah's family. For Toby, they'd found a weapons depot that produced non-lethal replicas of old French and Spanish swords. For Karen, they'd found a demure sun hat in a pretty shade of brown with a spattering of white flowers at the brim. For Linda, they'd found a silk shawl in a myriad of bright colors that would pair well with any evening dress she chose to wear to the events she hosted in New York. For Robert, they'd found a handmade shaving kit. To his surprise, she'd even purchased some items for her Underground friends – For Hoggle, a pair of sturdy gloves made of cork, for Didymus a reproduction of a coat of arms similar to those he already wore, for Ludo a huge tin of sweets. She even managed to convince him to buy something for the goblins, talking him into purchasing some of their spicy trail mixes – which was thankfully low on sugar content. Hell, they'd even bought something for the chickens at Sarah's insistence.
The pile of purchases rested in the chairs across from them as they sat together in the corner of the restaurant, eating a late lunch in relative privacy from the rest of the crowd. Sarah had paused halfway through her plate of French toast, studying Jareth and sipping on her glass of wine.
"Something on your mind, love?" He asked between bites, glancing over at her.
She simply smiled and shook her head after a few moments, still staring. When he went to ask her again if everything was alright, feeling unnerved after several more minutes of her staring, she asked a question.
"How are Ludo, Sir Didymus and Hoggle? I haven't spoken to them in about a month and they never bring you up, but they did say they were relocated to the castle recently?"
He chuckled, thinking back to the unlikely trio that had become thick as thieves with Sarah over the past decade. "Yes, they were. It's closer to a project I have them working on. I've had them assisting in rebuilding the northern border, where we had a rock slide several years back. It keeps them busy and out of trouble and having them so close to the goblins help."
Sarah raised her eyebrows and motioned for him to continue. He grinned faintly, looking back at her. "They earned a reputation as a sort of warriors three and the goblins respect them for it. So usually, when the courts demand my attention, they keep things in order for me at the castle."
Sarah blinked and grinned faintly, shaking her head slowly. "Wow, talk about a change. You, friends with those guys? Hard to see, really."
"I never said we were friends," he chuckled, giving her a deadpan look. "They still think I am…what's the term Hoggle uses?"
As Jareth searched for it, Sarah supplied it with a small giggle. "A rat bastard." He scowled and stabbed a potatoe on his plate and brought it to his mouth, chewing with a grunt of annoyance.
She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "I don't think you're a rat bastard," she murmured sympathetically, patting his shoulder. He swallowed the potatoe quickly, as it had gone thick and hard to chew in his throat, studying her with a slow smile. When she looks at me like that…
"Well, I do deserve it sometimes," he replied, a little hoarsely, reaching for a sip of water to clear the emotion from his voice and pass it off as a dry throat. "I'm not the most friendly myself to them. It…bothered me they were so close to you when I wasn't. Hoggle in particular liked to rub my nose in that and he knew I couldn't do anything about it, despite being his sovereign. Sometimes I wanted to strangle that little punk. Still do, actually."
Sarah grew quiet as he talked, her eyes softening as she smiled faintly, looking back at her plate and picking at the food, taking a few small bites of her own lunch before speaking what she was thinking. Jareth was still feeling raw from his admission so the silence didn't bother him.
"I'm sorry, I should have called. I didn't think you'd want to see me after…you know…"
After you ripped my heart out of my chest – he knew what she was afraid to say and he reached over, covering her hand in his, wanting to soothe her. She looked back at him and he saw the shadows in her eyes, worried about what he'd say next.
He smiled slowly, realizing after a few seconds it didn't hurt quite as much as it used to – Huh, funny that. He found himself realizing he wasn't mad at her – a little tender still, yes, but she was young and didn't understand his offer at the time. Besides, he liked what age and experience had done to Sarah. "It's alright, Sarah. It's in the past."
She nodded and sipped at her drink and turned back to eating. He eased his hand away from hers but found her reaching across to keep ahold of his hand. When he looked back at her, she smiled.
I still love you. I still mean those words. I still want you.
"What's your favorite color?" He blurted out, forcing his mind to change the subject. She blinked, then laughed softly.
"Green," she replied, tilting her head. "What's yours? Other than the obvious black." She grinned when he looked surprised that she knew. "You're always gravitating towards it. Don't worry, I like it. It suits you."
"Midnight blue," he said after several moments, glancing back at her. She looked surprised. "I have a…" He started and she nodded.
"The cape…I remember…"
"So…you council children?" He replied weakly, feeling his heart clench that she remembered one of his favorite capes. Why am I not asking her to marry me again, exactly?
"Yes." She smiled softly and began to tell her of the kids she helped in New York. As she spoke about the homeless youth she helped locate homes and steady jobs for, helped them escape abuse and heartache at home and find their own confidence and voice against a world that had all but forgotten about them or tried to trample them underfoot, he stopped her by tilting her head and leaning forward, kissing her deeply. She was perfect, his Sarah. She blinked, pulling back after a moment.
"What was that for?" She asked softly, smiling as he looked at her – really looked at her – and he began to open his mouth and tell her what he'd been thinking of saying all morning when her phone rang.
Inwardly cursing, he pulled back and allowed her to scramble for her cell phone and quickly answer it. Whomever is on the other end, thanks for ruining the most important moment of my life, you asshole.
"Niall? Hey! We tried calling earlier…" She blushed as she closed her eyes and winced. "Yeah, I figured we were interrupting something….oh? No, we had a bad connection, couldn't make much out but when you didn't call back, we figured you two were busy…oh? Where?"
He laughed faintly under his breath, finding irony in the fact his best friend who'd been lamenting about him spilling his feelings was the very person that stopped that from happening just now. Still, he grinned at the smooth way Sarah lied about overhearing them that morning, sipping casually on his coffee as she chatted with Niall for a few minutes before the phone must have been passed to Caitlin from the change in Sarah's tone. Her eyes widened and she pinkened, looking back over at Jareth a moment before she leaned forward and kissed his cheek, asking if she could step away a few minutes.
Must be one of those 'girl chats' her friend was going on about the other day.
"Go ahead, love. I'll just settle the bill."
She leaned forward and kissed his cheek before sneaking off to the bathroom, phone pressed to her ear. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, deciding to allow his confession to wait. Raising a hand, he grabbed the attention of their waiter and asked for the bill.
Sarah looked over her shoulder, noticing Jareth and no one else had followed her into the bathroom. She turned back towards the sink and pressed the phone to her ear. "Ok, I'm alone. Spill."
"JESUS H CHRIST ON A POGO STICK, WOMAN! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME SEX WITH A FAE WAS THE MOST MIND-BLOWING THING THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN?" Caitlin all but bellowed out at her, making Sarah have to pull the phone back from her ear.
"Jesus, Cait. I'm pretty sure Niall heard you on that one even if he was half a block away." Sarah laughed, shaking her head. "Erm, well, I wasn't sure you two were going to…you know…"
Caitlin started to truly curse out her entire existence then and Sarah did her best to calm her tirade. "Hey! What?! Can't get mad at me…what? NO, I DIDN'T FUCK JARETH WHEN I WAS IN THE LABYRINTH, GOOD GOD! What? Why? Are you kidding me? I was fifteen! Well, not all of us are sure they want to do something like that at fifteen, you hussy. Yeah, yeah, I know, stop suppressing your enjoyment of sex. Noooo, I'm not judging. What? Had I known would I…? Um, no comment. No, you are not about to call me a hypocrite. Now, listen – Cait…Cait…CAIT!"
Caitlin was truly worked up and Sarah laughed, holding the phone away from her as she ranted for what seemed a solid five minutes straight. Eventually, she heard Caitlin reach the end of her tirade and brought the phone back to her ear when her friend had gone uncharacteristically quiet.
"Sarah, I really like this guy," Caitlin finally whispered, her voice a little nervous – something she'd never heard from Caitlin in all the time she'd known her. "What do I do? He's a goddamn prince, Sarah. How am I supposed to compete with that?"
Sarah stilled, thinking back on her time with Jareth, knowing she felt the same intimidation when she thought of asking if Jareth wanted to continue their relationship past the fun fling they'd had in the quarter – which was ending in two days. She swallowed nervously, panic shivering along her nerves as her own voice got serious.
"Honestly, I don't know. I'm still working on that one myself. Drinks soon? How's two hours from now for you?" She looked at her cell, noting the time. "Think you can be ready then?"
Caitlin sighed softly. "No can do, el Capitan. Rain check. Niall has someone he wants us to meet before the parade. Can you and Jareth meet us here in about 30 minutes?"
Sarah frowned faintly. "Sure, we just need to drop off my stuff by the hotel first, we went shopping. Who's the friend?"
"No clue, someone he said you'd know. They did the masks? That mean anything to you?"
Sarah stilled, her eyes going wide. "Oh."
"Now, see, you've held out on me again! Bitch, I'm going to cut you when I see you again! How could you?! SPILL!"
Sarah winced, shaking her head. "This isn't my thing to spill, it's Niall's. And even then, it's not a big deal. Really, Cait. Don't push it. I don't want to make the woman nervous." She peered over her shoulder, at the door. "Listen, I've got to go. We'll see you soon."
Caitlin sighed but let the issue go. "See you soon, hooker."
Sarah laughed and hung up the phone, opening the door to see Jareth standing in the hallway by the bathrooms, bags in hand. She stilled, her eyes going wide. She could tell he was biting back a grin. "How much of that did you hear?"
"Enough. No comment, huh?"
Sarah felt her face flame and he laughed.
[Royal Sonesta Hotel, Sarah's Suite, French Quarter, New Orleans]
Sarah explained to Jareth that she knew about the masks and the witch who'd spelled them as they teleported back to the hotel room in order to save time. He stilled, slowly setting down each package, suddenly very quiet. When he turned and looked back at her, his face was a mask.
She was able to perceive his moments of vulnerability so she didn't wince at the immediate discomfort the look gave her. She simply stepped forward and cupped his chin, waiting for his eyes to meet hers. When they did, she had to force herself not to respond to the flat chips they'd transformed into. Oh, Jareth. I don't blame you. You don't have to hide from me.
"Hey, it's alright. I know you had nothing to do with it. Niall explained it all to me when you were picking out wine with Cait." She stroked his jawline and felt the tension slowly ease his frame as the coldness slowly left his eyes. He tentatively looked back at her after briefly glancing away and her heart wrenched at the open vulnerability there.
"I wouldn't have done that to you, Sarah. I've learned firsthand what happens when I force you to do things you don't want. You…believe I had nothing to do with it?" He murmured after several minutes of silence, finally seeming to find his voice.
She smiled softly. Of course not, I love you. "Of course not, Jareth." Just tell him. Say it!
He turned then and she swallowed her response as he glanced back at the hotel alarm clock. He smiled mischievously back at her and leaned forward, gripping either side of her face as he kissed her slowly for several minutes. "We have a few minutes before we need to leave…" He suggested huskily against her mouth and suddenly she found herself clenching her thighs together, immediately turned on. Christ, he knows just what to say, doesn't he?
"Are you suggesting we have a quickie?" She grinned against his mouth as his hands reached down and unbuttoned her shorts, sliding them and her panties off quickly.
"That's exactly what I'm suggesting…" He groaned softly, suddenly gripping her hips eagerly, his kisses turning sharp and demanding as she groped for his pants and quickly freed him, pumping him softly between her fingers. He eagerly flared to life at her touches and ground against her palm. She whimpered as a sluice of warmth pooled between her legs, wanting him inside her now. He groaned again and immediately jerked forward, grasping her hips and easily picking her up, placing her against the edge of the office desk, canting her hips gently as he opened her knees, reaching down to fit himself against her folds in just the right spot and thrust forward, seating himself inside her.
"Gods, woman, you're already so wet," he groaned, his tone guttural and barely sounding human as she leaned back, gasping, while he stared at where they were joined and rolled his hips forward in quick pronounced thrusts, keeping her knees open with the palms of his hands. "Touch yourself, I want to watch you touch yourself…"
She did as he asked while he tugged her shirt up and freed her breasts, leaning forward and nipping on each with his teeth. She moaned, her own fingers teasing herself in tandem with his thrusts and soon she found herself close. "Jareth, I'm going to…"
"Pull it out of me, Sarah. I want you to squeeze me so - ah fuck! -Yesss, just like that…"
The combination of his dirty talk and his thrusts sent her plummeting over the edge. She screamed as she arched under him on the desk and he suddenly pounded hard into her as she spasmed around him, milking his body just like he asked, before groaning and sinking into her and stilling, feeling his cock twitch as the warmth of his release filled her. "Fuck, Sarah. That…" He groaned long and low and shuddered as he finally finished. "That…was…"
She smiled even while she sagged underneath him, still buzzing from her the remnants of her own orgasm. He pressed his forehead against her stomach, his hair tickling her breasts, but eventually he pulled out of her and murmured something, cleaning up the aftermath of that mind shattering session with a spell.
They both looked back at the clock and froze. They were officially late. Glancing back at each other, they laughed together and hurriedly dressed, not caring in the least.
[A Private Residence, French Quarter, New Orleans]
They transported right into the center of Niall's entryway like before and this time the dizziness didn't hit Sarah as fiercely. She still held onto Jareth for the few seconds it took her to get her bearings but she smiled as she regained her senses quicker than before.
He noticed the improvement in her stance this time and smiled, threading his fingers with hers as they stepped into the living room, glancing around slowly. There, across the room, stood Caitlin and Niall with an elderly woman of African-Creole descent sitting on the couch between them.
She stood from her sitting position, Niall hurriedly coming to her aide as she struggled on wobbly limbs. Caitlin stood aside, nervously looking back and smiling in relief as she spotted Sarah and Jareth. Together, they came into the room and Sarah studied the woman curiously. She was still beautiful, her skin still fairly unmarred despite her advanced age. She smiled, her hair braided in long silver ropes down her back, dressed in a loose silver tunic and black leggings, reaching out for Sarah's hand as she neared the woman.
"Hello," Sarah started, pausing as she felt a tingle against her skin when their hands connected. The woman leaned forward, peering deeply in her eyes, making Sarah nervous as she returned the stare. After several minutes, she smiled and gently tugged her towards the couch.
"Hello, Sarah. I've heard a lot about you from Niall. Call me Bembe. Come, sit with me for a spell." She settled again, Niall there to help guide her back to the couch, and Sarah looked back at Jareth curiously but she did as instructed and sat down beside the woman. The woman hadn't let go of her hand.
Jareth studied the woman with an intense searching gaze but without the coldness she'd seen earlier. Niall briefly touched his shoulder and Caitlin's and asked them to join him in the kitchen. Clearly, Jareth didn't like the dismissal by the way his lips thinned but he moved with the others into the kitchen without objection. She gave Jareth a tentative smile and relaxed with he returned it, disappearing into the other room.
"Forgive my intrusion on your day with Jareth, dear. Niall wanted us to speak, to ease your concerns about the magic I weaved into the masks that led to your reunion. I assure you, I only hid any queues you'd realize who the other was and it only lasted while the masks were on. I have to say, though, you are a curious creature, Miss Williams." Bembe spoke, dragging Sarah's attention back towards her. She turned Sarah's hand in her grip, opening her fingers wide so she could look down at her palm after studying Sarah carefully for several moments, an amused smile on her face.
"How so?" She frowned, still feeling that odd tingling sensation as the woman held her hand. She jerked in surprise when Bembe trailed a finger down the center of her palm as the tingling briefly intensified then returned back to that odd tickle just beneath her skin once the woman removed her finger. Bembe seemed to nod to herself and leaned forward, inspecting her palm as she brushed past Sarah's question and answering another.
"I see the masks worked according to plan. You're in love with your fae king. Have been for some while, I suppose. At least you're willing to accept it now."
Sarah blinked, her eyes going wide, but she didn't deny the truth of the woman's statement. The woman smiled, closing her fingers and releasing her grip from Sarah's hand. Instantly, the tingling sensation ceased.
"What was that?" She asked, gripping her hand with her other one, rolling her wrist between her fingers.
"You felt that?" The woman asked, surprise in her features. Sarah nodded. Bembe leaned forward, staring into her eyes, chuckling faintly. "I'll be damned, there might be something more to you yet. Besides the magic markings, that is."
"What markings?" Sarah stilled, her eyes wide, her heart beginning to pound in her chest. What the hell is she talking about?
"The Underground magic, of course. You bested the Labyrinth and it's King. The Labyrinth marked you. You've been given a gift, a certain power, though it seems you might have some of your own if you were able to feel my inspection. It's untrained, though. Hard to gage how powerful it could be until it's tested properly."
But what no one knew….
"Was that the king had fallen in love with the girl and given her certain powers," Bembe finished for her, making Sarah jerk her gaze back towards the woman from where it had begun to drift. She swallowed, feeling a sense of vertigo. How did…?
"I've many talents, you'll see." The woman replied again, making Sarah jerk faintly. Bembe grinned and patted her arm. "Relax, your thoughts are safe. I do my best to mind my own business but couldn't resist a little peak with you. You're a very special young woman, Sarah Williams. You have a choice to make. You see…" Bembe gestured towards her, opening her hand and asking for Sarah to place her palm back in her grip. Sarah slowly lowered her hand in the woman's grip and leaned forward, watching where the woman showed her the shapes of her hands, explaining.
"This means you're still a dreamer, but you think things through very thoroughly before making a choice. While normally this is an admirable trait, you lose out on opportunities this way. Some things in life have a shelf life, dear. You need to take a leap of faith." She tugged on Sarah's fingers before pointing to her palm. "Your life line is strong, telling me you've little struggles in physical constitution. Your problems lay in your heart line, which is between the mounts of Jupiter and Saturn. Your love is deep but has a long shoreline, one of moderation and careful consideration. Some things do not wait for consideration, you must trust your instinct. You've already learned this lesson once; do you really need to learn it again?"
"Jareth…" Sarah whispered, looking up at Bembe. The woman smiled.
"Yes, Jareth." Sarah glanced down, swallowing, looking back up at Bembe with concern torn across her features.
"I love him so much it hurts," She whispered openly to the woman, finally admitting it out loud to someone. "But I don't know how to tell him. I'm just a human woman, Bembe. He's an immortal king. What could I possibly offer him? You can't understand how this feels, this constant worry that if I say something he'll shut down and leave. It's killing me. What if he doesn't want that?"
Bembe frowned and patted Sarah's hand in reassurance. "Child, you worry too much over endless possibilities that might not even happen. I do know what this feels like…" She replied, making Sarah pause, her eyes going wide.
"Niall and I were not always friends. We were lovers once, a long time ago."
Sarah felt like she could hear a pin drop in the room. "What?" She finally managed, squeaking out her reply, looking over her form. "Did he…?"
"No, I did." Bembe reassured Sarah, smiling faintly. "It was different for us, you see. I am a witch, something that's relatively prohibited in his realm, as we can see through and even have the ability to manipulate fae magic. He is also heir apparent and the fae do not wish to see a mortal woman as queen, no matter my power. He would have sacrificed that and I wouldn't allow it, so I made my choice despite it paining him at the time. Niall has a good heart and the fae need a king with one. So many are so heartless and cruel. You know the tales, I can tell. They're truer than I have the heart to say. Niall will have the power, with the backing of men like Jareth, to change the Underground for the better. I couldn't let him sacrifice that."
Sarah felt the pit of her stomach drop and she squeezed her eyes shut, barely avoiding letting out a low moan of pain. There's no future for us…
"Sarah, look at me." Bembe's gentle words had Sarah opening her eyes, the rims of her lashes rimmed with unshed tears. The woman smiled and leaned forward, cupping her cheek. "But that was my story, dear. Not yours. You don't have such concerns. Jareth is not a noble, his realm has already marked you. He already loves you, whether you believe it yet or not. You love him. There's no reason you two can't be happy. But if you choose to stay here, in this world, it will not be without its merits as well. You just have to decide where your heart wants to take you."
Sarah sagged, letting out a slow rush of air she didn't realize she'd been holding hearing Bembe's words, feeling as if a weight had been lifted from her chest. She opened her mouth to thank the woman when she heard a soft measured step and a brief moan of pain, jerking her gaze back towards the kitchen, seeing Caitlin juggling a tray of tea in her hands as she'd stepped back into the living room to offer them refreshments, a look of torment skirting across her features.
Glancing between the two of them, Bembe meeting the other woman's gaze with a softened expression, Caitlin hurriedly sat the tray down then darted down the hall, towards the guest rooms. Sarah apologized to Bembe and took off after her friend. Oh no, poor Cait. How much of that did she hear?
Jareth was pacing the kitchen and knew he looked like a mad man. He didn't care. What was that woman telling Sarah?
Niall watched him pace with a slim smile of amusement pulling at his lips, his arms crossed against his chest as he leaned against the kitchen's far wall. When Jareth glared at him, he shrugged a shoulder as if to say - 'What?'
"What the fuck is she telling her?" Jareth snarled, coming to stand by Niall and press him back against the wall as he jabbed a finger in the center of his chest, barely containing his anger. "Why'd you have to tell her about the damn masks?"
"Because honesty is the key to every relationship, even friendship. Sarah is my friend and deserved the truth, Jareth. Bembe is just reassuring her. Why? Did something happen this morning I should know about?"
Jareth stilled and shoved away from Niall, beginning his pacing again. "I almost told her I loved her."
Niall flashed him a brilliant smile. "That's wonderful!"
Jareth looked over his shoulder with a scowl. "It was until you called. I didn't tell her."
Niall blinked, his smile instantly fading. "Shit."
Jareth snorted and shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "Gods, I haven't been this nervous since…since Elizabeth. Hell, not even Elizabeth. I love her, Niall. It frightens me with how often I have to fight myself to just take her back by force. She'd hate me and I'm not sure I'd even care."
"Whoa, Jareth…relax. Breathe." Niall stepped forward and placed a hand on Jareth's shoulder. "Sarah loves you. Trust me, it's obvious to everyone but you it seems."
"Niall?" They were interrupted when they heard Bembe ask for him from the other room. Dropping his hand, he moved into the other room in a hurry, Jareth on his heels.
Sarah and Caitlin were no where to be found. Jareth opened his mouth to ask where Sarah as when Bembe cracked Niall across the face with the back of her hand, shocking him. "You took the other one as a lover, didn't you?"
Niall opened his mouth to argue but fell silent when Bembe glared. "You know what you risk! And the woman cares for you. You did not tell her the stipulations around your little affair, did you?"
Niall narrowed his gaze at the older woman and Jareth blinked, his eyebrows raising. Silently, he snuck down the hallway, leaving the two alone to have their battle of words, already able to see the rising of Niall's temper as he growled.
"What did you tell her?"
"Sarah?" Jareth spoke softly, knocking on the door to the guest room across from his own.
Sarah peeked her head out and smiled, looking back for a moment and murmuring something before she slipped out of the room and closed the door. "Hey."
"Hey," he replied, tugging her to him and pressing his forehead against hers, feeling instant relief that the softness in her eyes hadn't left her when she looked at him. Whatever she'd talked about with the witch, it hadn't changed things between them. He shivered at the flood of happiness that swelled within him, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's Cait that's a little torn up." She murmured, tilting her head back to press a soft kiss to his lips, linking her arms around his waist in turn. "Listen, I need to take Cait out for a little while. Let her get some fresh air. Can you teleport us to the Old Absinthe House by the hotel? Just us? She needs to be away from fae problems, no offense." She winced and smiled faintly up at him in apology.
He had overheard enough from Bembe and Niall to suddenly commiserate with the sometimes-brash woman. Nodding, he moved to enter the guest room with Sarah. Caitlin sat on the bed, her back turned, but he could tell she was upset when she didn't turn and immediately greet him with her usual bluntness. She seemed to struggle for a moment, then stood and turned, her face red.
She'd been crying.
Jareth felt his gut twist in sympathy as Sarah explained that Jareth was going to teleport them out of the house and to a bar by the hotel. Caitlin nodded and steadied her shoulders, glaring at Jareth with narrowed eyes.
"I want time alone with Sarah. No fae fuckery, not until the parade. Give me a few hours alone with my best friend so I can scrape together what little dignity I have left so I can make it through the rest of this damn trip. Alright? Can you manage that?"
Jareth nodded slowly. "Yes, I'll keep myself and Niall occupied. We'll see you outside the hotel an hour before the parade. Deal?"
"Deal," Sarah smiled, answering for her and Caitlin, pressing a quick kiss to his lips and linking arms with Caitlin. Jareth smiled and pressed his hand to both their shoulders and the teleportation spell whisked them away just in time.
Behind him, he heard a crashing noise, the door almost wrenching off it's bracing as Niall plowed into the room. He panted, glaring at Jareth with a keen rage he hadn't seen in a long time. "Where the fuck are they?" He hissed, advancing around the room, tossing a few of Caitlin's things around as he tried to unweave Jareth's magics. He turned after a moment, stilling, as he cast an enraged glare in Jareth's direction. "You used Labyrinth magic. I can't unweave the spell to figure out where they are."
"I did," Jareth replied calmly, watching Niall advance on him. His eyes practically glowed.
"Where is she?" He hissed again, his voice almost a growl. "Don't fuck with me on this, Jareth. Where is she? WHERE IS CAITLIN?"
"Away from you," Jareth replied calmly, prepared for when Niall lunged at him.
Sarah and Caitlin landed easily outside the bar, avoiding anyone who might have seen them in the nick of time. Caitlin wasted no time stalking into the bar, slumping into a stool and demanding two shots of Jack. The bar tender nodded and went to fetch her order. Sarah followed her inside and sat down beside her, watching her friend with worry.
"A gin tonic, please.." She told the bar tender when he looked her way. Seeing Caitlin's harsh expression, he just left the bottle with her. Her friend snorted, a harsh laugh pushing past her teeth as she drank down the two shots quickly and moved to pour another.
"Cait…" Sarah started and her friend shoved off her concern with a glare her way.
"Don't, Sarah. I don't want to hear that you get to run off with your fairy prince but I get to fall for the one who just wants a quick lay. Doesn't even bother to tell me about it, or his past with that woman, after…everything we'd talked about this morning…I…hah!" She laughed harshly and shook her head. "I let myself believe it was something more. STUPID!" Caitlin trailed off and then a soft wounded noise escaped her throat as she closed her eyes and winced, tossing her head back as she took another shot. "Heh, and to think I was worried about you."
Sarah blinked at that, stilling. She smiled as the bar tender sat her drink in front of her then moved to service other customers, looking back at Caitlin with a frown. "What do you mean, you were worried about me?"
"Shy, innocent, over-thinking Sarah. Then there's Jareth, waltzing in and sweeping you off your feet. I threatened him and Niall both, said if they did anything to you I'd castrate the two of them, turn their balls into dog chow. But stupid me, didn't think I'd be the one getting the shaft. Karma's a cold-hearted whore, ain't she? I gotta fall for the one who's a prince – not just any prince, the prince of all princes. The one who's…what'd that witch bitch say? 'Going to change the Underground' or some such rubbish. Can't have a future Luke Skywalker slumming it with a mortal."
Sarah swallowed, feeling a rush of tears come to her eyes as she listened to her friend break down. She hadn't seen Caitlin like this, ever. "Hey…" She started, turning her voice to a sharp crack when Caitlin snorted and almost turned, ignoring her. That turned Caitlin's attention back on her and Sarah could see the splintered pain in her eyes. She leaned forward, grasping both of Caitlin's shoulders.
"You are Caitlin fucking McDonald. You eat fairies for breakfast. Niall knows it, I know it, Jareth knows it. Bembe was her own woman and made her own choices and you can make yours. You like Niall, he likes you. You haven't even given him a chance to explain himself. I get the sense that Niall doesn't have his heart in this whole high king thing, anyways. He needs someone with fire and you have that."
"And if he says 'bye bitch, nice knowing you, it was fun while it lasted?' What then?" Caitlin's voice broke as she looked back at Sarah.
Sarah frowned and looked Caitlin steadily in the eye. "Then I'm going to beat him to death."
Caitlin burst out laughing, even if the noise sounded halfway torn between amusement and a sob. Sarah smiled, glad to see some of her friend back despite the situation.
"You always were such a rebel underneath all that shyness. I like this side of you, hooker."
Sarah grinned and clinked her glass against Caitlin's shot glass. "Takes one to know one."
An hour later, Caitlin was completely trashed and Sarah was definitely tipsy although retaining most of her wits about her. Together, they'd finished off the bottle of Jack and Sarah was slowly nursing her second gin tonic while Caitlin just struggled to remain upright in her stool. Checking the time, she asked for her check and paid the bill, helping her friend stagger to her feet where they could make it back to the safety of their hotel rooms.
"So, what did you and Niall talk about this morning? You never told me. What exactly happened last night?" Sarah asked, looping her arms around Caitlin as they moved out of the bar, walking in slow measured steps towards the hotel.
"Well, we fucked like rabbits at first. That dress? Toooootally worked. He couldn't keep his hands off me and damn…it was hot." Caitlin slurred and sighed dreamily and Sarah couldn't help but chuckle, crossing the street with Caitlin hanging off her.
"Then, we…slept a little. Then fucked a little more, too. But this time…he was so tender, Sarah. Told me how he felt weird around most fae. That he wanted to find love. Thought he had once, turned out it wasn't meant to be or some shit. Didn't know it was because he's supposed to be like…Fae Jesus or something, but whatever."
Sarah listened, smiling faintly as a doorman held open the doors to the hotel lobby for them, walking with Caitlin towards the elevators and mashing the proper button to go up.
"We talked, really talked. Told him things I haven't even told you. I really opened up to him, you know. I mean, he's a goddamned fairy who looks like an Adonis with a penis that doesn't quit. What?" She glared as Sarah turned pink from where she kept Caitlin propped up against her. "You know what I'm talking about. No normal man can do the things they can, as often as they can. I've certainly seen very little of you over this trip of ours and I know it wasn't all spent playing chess. You've been fucked seven ways to Sunday by that tasty fae morsel and enjoyed every minute of it."
Sarah laughed, ignoring the flare of heat in her cheeks, and helped Caitlin get on the elevator as soon as the door opened. "Yes, it was amazing. But seriously, why don't you give Niall a chance to explain? Maybe there's more to this?"
Caitlin waved a hand. "I am not being the mortal woman who kept him from turning things around down there. Bembe is right, if the fae are that fucked up they need him. Just wish he didn't trample my heart on his way to becoming the fae messiah or something."
Sarah opened her mouth to reply, frowning, when the elevator doors opened to their level and they stumbled out, seeing Niall kneeling outside Caitlin's door, his head hanging between his hands, a bouquet of flowers in his grip. Jareth leaned against the hallway wall, offering Sarah an apologetic smile. She smiled faintly, letting him know she wasn't mad, when she realized he had a bloodied lip. She blinked an opened her mouth to say something when Caitlin jerked forward and kicked at Niall, nearly falling in the process.
"What the hell are YOU doing here? Came to gloat?" She sneered, her lips trembling as she spat at Niall, who rose with the flowers in his hands. He looked as rough as Jareth and Sarah quickly realized that holding Niall back from seeing Caitlin had literally come to blows. What in the hell?
"Cait, please…let me explain…" Niall started, only to be silenced when Caitlin's hand cracked against his cheek, jerking his head to the side.
"Go fuck yourself," Caitlin spat and jerked her door open, slamming it in his face, leaving the others alone in the hallway.
Niall sagged briefly against the door, his head bowed, but then he tensed and turned, snarling at Jareth and lunging. "This is YOUR fault! You should have let me go to her!"
"She needed her space…" Jareth said slowly, pulling back from the wall with a narrowed-gaze.
"Like Sarah needs hers?" Niall growled, flashing Jareth a sharp-toothed smile. Jareth tensed and both men came at each other. Sarah blinked, stilling. Does that mean what I think it…? Christ, they're literally about to rip each other to pieces. Men are the same, no matter where they come from.
"HEY!" Sarah shouted, ending the near fist fight that almost erupted between the two fae men. Both stilled, their hands fisted in each other's shirts, looking back at her as she shoved herself between the two of them.
"Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves, standing in a hallway acting like a bunch of damned fools." Jareth shoved Niall away and moved towards Sarah but she shook her head, glaring at Jareth.
"You literally punched it out with him rather than talking? Are you freaking kidding me? I thought you had better diplomacy skills than that, Goblin King." Jareth narrowed his eyes at her use of his title instead of his name but she had turned her gaze to Niall, ignoring him. "And you…high king apparent…more like high bitch apparent. You didn't come clean to Caitlin or at least warned her about your past with Bembe before all but inviting her over. She's hurt and needs time. And instead of giving us exactly what we both asked for, you literally end up in a fist fight outside of our rooms. Both of you, out. Now."
The two men blinked and opened their mouths to argue but Sarah cut them off with a sharp slash of her hand in the air. "I mean it. We have a few hours before the parade. You both will stay away from us until an hour before the parade, like we agreed." She glared at Jareth. He looked livid by the way his jaw tensed but said nothing.
"If I so much as see either of you, I'll whisk us back to New York so fast your head will spin. Now get the fuck out of here before I punch both of you idiots in the dick."
Both of the men looked shocked and she went to Caitlin's door, using her key to enter. She turned, giving them a pointed stare, and they scowled, looking at one another and immediately teleporting away.
Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she closed the door and went to check on her friend who had settled on the bed and sobbed softly.