Wrist. Chain. Goblin King.
Goblin King. Chain. Wrist.
The words just aren't connecting in her brain as effectively as she is now connected to him. That wish – that godforsaken wish, with such a foolish choice of words. She might have known he'd take them literally. She's bound to the Goblin King for at least the foreseeable future, and it's only a matter of time before someone discovers them. She pulls at the chain, then searches the cuff that binds her for some catch, or lock she can pick. She finds none. Finally, she stares daggers into his smirking face.
“Take it off,” she says. “Take it off right now.”
His eyes make a hot sweep of her body, and it's plain there's admiration there. “Your dress? Hmm, certainly a lovely thought, and one not at all inappropriate for some of my kingdom's most deplorable parties, but if my understanding of your realm's customs is correct-”
She rattles the chain in his face. “Cute. Cuffs. Off. Now.”
“Now that I can't do, pet.”
“Are you crazy? You need to go, before someone sees you. Now. Yesterday. You need to leave.”
He gives her an indulgent little shake of his head. “Sarah, you know quite well that won't happen - not while an unanswered wish remains. And here I thought you'd learned to guard your words after all this time. I must say, I'm most intrigued as to how you're going to handle this little mess. I might have to stick around to enjoy the ride.” He shoots their wrists a pointed glance, still grinning. “Not that I have any real choice in the matter.”
“You think this is funny?” She most certainly doesn't. “You think this is really what I wanted? What I-”
“Wished for?” he says, his tone dry. “A resounding 'yes', in fact.”
“But … I didn't mean … I didn't want-”
“I think it's quite obvious you did, love, otherwise I wouldn't be here, and you wouldn't be scowling at me in that delightful way of yours,” he points out. “Though I must admit, given our last pleasant encounters, it's been a while since I've really seen you scowl …”
“You're about to see a whole lot more scowling if you don't get this chain off, believe me.”
“Do forgive me if I don't quite quake in my boots before you, sweet Sarah. You're rather adorable when you're annoyed.”
As she stares on at him, lost for words, he starts to laugh. “Oh, this is far too lovely for words. This is precious,” he chuckles. “How long has it been? Twelve, perhaps thirteen years I have given you all that you've wished for, and asked for nothing in return, and now, it seems my dividends have come all at once.” He gives the chain a little tug, his smile widening as she herself is brought closer with it. “Finally, a little taste of power, and I can just imagine how sweet it will be.”
“My wish; my power,” she says, all but growling.
“Perhaps so, but that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun of my own in the meantime.” His smile, at least, seems genuine – and why shouldn't it be? He has every reason to enjoy himself, and he loves teasing her, when he can. “You gave no time-scale on your wish, silly Sarah, and so it will only come to an end once the terms are satisfied – when whatever secret wish in your heart has been granted.”
She squints her eyes shut. “I'm wishing really hard right now for you to just go home.”
He laughs softly. “Still haven't gotten tired of that one, I see. You know it doesn't work like that.”
“I wish-” She bites down on that one quickly, just in case. “I want to know just how it does work! You've ignored my wishes in the past, when you've deemed them unworthy for whatever reason, so you're obviously not bound to me …” There's a quiet jingle of metal between them to remind her that's no longer the case, and she cups her forehead in her free hand. “Ugh. What I mean is, you don't have to grant my wishes – you only choose to. Why this one?”
“I once said I would deny you nothing, shy of what should be your normal experiences-”
“This is normal?” she hisses, rattling their chains again.
“Oh, Sarah, you mean to tell me there's not a soul in your realm who would normally use handcuffs for their own pleasure? Come, now, surely you're not that naïve.”
Handcuffs. Pleasure. Oh, sweet Christ. Breathe, Sarah. Okay, so there's a man attached to your wrist – a handsome, infuriating man – but letting him rile you won't get him off your wrist. She inhales deeply; lets the air out slowly. “Okay, I get it – 'attached'. Poor choice of words. Very. Can we just chalk this one up to me feeling incredibly frustrated right now? Which, by the way, this isn't helping any.”
Jareth only goes on smiling his little smile. “I'm not here to teach you a lesson, love – simply to provide what you asked for. You wanted attachment, well …”
“Look – I'm sorry. I should have been more careful with what I said.” Be nice. Kid gloves, make him feel appreciated. “It was great of you to show up and all, to try and help me like you always do, but if you could maybe just get rid of the cuffs for the rest of your stay-”
“'What's said is said', Sarah. You know quite well how it works. You wished – I delivered. These little wishes of yours are just as binding to me as they are to you.” Another jingle of their chain. “Though it's never before been quite such a literal bond. Don't you at least find it amusing?”
So much for being nice. “No, not when it feels like you're just out to get me. You didn't have to cuff me this way. You didn't have to answer the wish.”
“And you didn't have to wish in the first place. See how it works?” All she can see right now is the sickly-sweetness of his smile. He's mocking her, but – goddamn him – he's right. This is her fault, but that shouldn't mean he gets to enjoy it quite so much.
“All right, so we're stuck together for now, at least,” she says, with a sigh. “We need to get out of here before anyone sees us- … fuck!”
One of Jareth's immaculately-shaped eyebrows slides up a notch. “Beg pardon?”
“No … not … oh, no, Molly.” The words tangle on her tongue in her rush to explain. “I'm here with a friend – that's why I couldn't just leave in the first place – and now you've just made it a thousand times more difficult to sneak back in to say goodbye to her.”
“And we're 'sneaking' because …?”
She tells him everything – everything except the crippling loneliness, and longing for a man a lot like him, at least – ending with her silly little wish out here in the hallway. She tries her best to ignore the way his face hardens when she mentions Richard's eyes' habit of dipping down the front of her dress.
“A tiresome sounding evening indeed,” he says, at last. “Yes, I can see now why you wanted the pretence of a partner to ward off such a persistent little worm – though you only had to ask. I would have been happy to oblige.”
That makes her want to blush like a teenager, and she's quick to move on. “Hindsight. Right. Noted. But it was a stupid idea in the first place. No offence, but you stick out like a sore thumb here. There's no way you could pass for a normal human – never mind normal boyfriend material.”
He laughs as though she's said the funniest thing in the world. “Sarah, sweetness, you're too much. Forgive me,” he says, when he finally calms. “Only, you've seen the extent of my powers – seen me with wings, even – and now you question such a minor change of my feathers. I could transform at will when I was barely out of my swaddling clothes. I'm sorry – I shouldn't laugh, but rest assured, I've learned to wear the costumes of your realm quite well in all my years.”
She can feel her shoulders stiffening; her face reddening. How easy he always finds it to laugh at her, naïve as she is. Sometimes, though she knows he doesn't mean to, he still makes her feel like a kid in comparison. When you're as old as him, though, she guesses it must be inevitable. Still, she has to try and claw some ground back. She lets her eyes sweep over his outfit – the flowing shirt cuffs, the high boots and tight leggings – with disdain. “Uh-huh. Your sense of fashion would fit right in. During the Renaissance, maybe.”
He tuts. “A trifle too modern for the Renaissance, don't you think? You really should know your own history better, pet. Regardless, I give you my word that I can easily pass for just another mortal guest – fashion and all – if it's truly necessary.”
“Oh, it's necessary.” They've somehow remained undisturbed all this time, but she knows she's only one guest searching for the bathroom away from being discovered, standing here handcuffed to a real-life pantomime villain. It's hard to fold her arms with the required amount of bored resignation, given their short chain, but somehow she manages. “Okay, impress me,” she tells him.
As always, the Goblin King is happy to oblige.
He tosses back his hair, which at once begins to shimmer with some strange inner light, and then, with a dramatic flourish – no doubt for her benefit – he waves his free hand over his face. Meeting her gaze and holding it, he presses that same hand to the base of his throat and takes his time in running it down his chest and flat belly, a slow line all the way down until it cups his crotch.
His clothes melt and shift with his palm as it passes, but she's hardly paying attention to the magic, intent as she is on deciding whether or not he just gave himself a little squeeze through his leggings, also for her benefit. When she tears her gaze away from that impish hand as it finally drops away, she takes his appearance in from head to toe.
His beautiful blond hair is still stunning as it frames his high cheekbones, but it's now much shorter, cut just above his chin and pushed back from his forehead in what looks to be a carefully 'careless' manner. His eyes are their same curious blue, their dark pupils their usual mismatched size, but the markings above them are gone, the lower lids meticulously lined with just enough kohl to add some smoulder to his stare – not, she thinks, that he needs it.
He's wearing a relatively conservative white button-down shirt, but he's been careful to leave it wide open at the throat, and the black dress pants that cover his legs are sinfully tight, hugging his thighs and what lies in-between with the intimate caress of a lover. It takes her eyes a hell of a long time to move past those pants and onto the shoes – black Cuban-heeled boots, a little lower than his usual offerings, meaning that in her stilettos, the two of them are almost the same height.
With his new clothes and cocksure swagger to carry him, he'd probably fit in well with the brooding artsy types flitting around the free buffet, but all she can think right then is, 'Take me. Take me, you gorgeous bastard, you.' She graces her suddenly-dry throat with a hard swallow.
“I take it I meet with your approval, then?” he asks, and she's never been so glad he can't actually read her thoughts, even if he can read the longing in her stare.
“You'll do,” she replies, cool and clipped.
“Hmm, but 'do' what, exactly? This is your wish after all, and though I have no qualms about being seen to be chained to your lovely self …”
Shit. The cuffs. Her mind pulls free of her increasingly inappropriate thoughts. “A jacket,” she says, with sudden inspiration. “Can you whip up a suit jacket to go around me, like I got cold and you let me borrow it or something? That way, we can hide our wrists with it.”
“My, I am playing the gentleman tonight, aren't I?” he says, smiling.
Before she can reply, there's the soft kiss of satin against her shoulders – the lining of the man's suit jacket that's now wrapped around her. Without needing to be asked, Jareth steps closer, so that they're almost hip to hip, and he tucks both of their hands into the jacket's inner pocket. She laces her fingers with his, almost without thinking.
“Cosy,” he says, squeezing her hand. He gives her shoulder a little nudge with his own, and when he winks at her, it sends her poor heart fluttering like the lovestruck teen she once was. They stand there for several long seconds, holding hands and not doing a whole lot else. “Well, ready when you are, love,” he prompts, but ready for what, exactly, she's no longer quite sure.
Together - for what other choice is there? - they make their way back into the party.