Blinking against the sudden change of scenery, she sees they're standing before the great double doors of Jareth's castle. She remembers the brute strength it took all those years ago to push them open, but now they swing back with just a gentle wave of Jareth's hand. To enter the castle, they have to step over a small collection of milk bottles that have congregated on the steps. From the sour smell wafting up from them, some of the bottles have been basking there in the sun since the Goblin King made his initial disappearance.
“Can't be trusted with a single blasted thing,” Jareth mutters under his breath.
“At least that proves they're a little dim. If they're this forgetful, they can't be smart enough to get up to any real trouble, right?”
So, so wrong.
They've barely set foot upon the corridor before a startled chicken goes charging past the two of them, closely followed by a skinny grey goblin, who's yelling at the top of his lungs. He's bare-chested, his shirt wrapped turban-style around his head, a tankard of what looks suspiciously like ale overflowing as he shakes his fist. Neither chicken nor chicken hunter seem to notice them, not caring that they've left a scowling Jareth in their wake.
It's only when the goblin is far past them – thankfully, away from the Goblin King's wrath – that the smell truly hits them. Inside, the castle absolutely reeks of booze, thick and yeasty and sickly-sweet. From the potency, she feels like she could get drunk off the fumes alone. She becomes aware of Jareth mumbling to himself as he leads her further into the castle. Coming from above them, presumably from the throne room, there's the sound of one hell of a party going on, and there's no doubt of exactly what substance is fuelling the festivities.
“They've gotten into the cellars. The little shits have gotten into the cellars. I warned Gaelan never to let those keys-” Jareth presses his lips together, closing his eyes for a moment to gather himself before going on. “Come,” he says, “I want to see what the exact damage is before I deal with the culprits.”
Damage is the operative word.
A short walk through the castle leads them to a decimated kitchen, no doubt the poor chef having had to abandon ship as well, in face of the goblins' wrath. There's food plastered to every available surface, with some sort of ominous yellow goop dripping from one corner of the ceiling to patter on the stone tiles below. Beyond the kitchen, the pantries have been ransacked, empty save for broken jars, cracked eggs, and a snow dusting of flour. Jareth's boots make heavy prints in the white powder as he leads her through it.
Sure enough, the cellar has been accessed, though through no use of a key, presumably to Gaelan's good fortune. The door lies in splintered bits, a dented helmet still stuck deep into the wood by its twin horns. The goblins have used one of their own as a living battering ram, but judging from the mess that lies beyond the broken door, he won't be the only one soon nursing a headache. Cask after cask lies shattered and empty, too many to possibly count. From the looks of it, the wilful creatures have drank the castle dry of every last drop of ale.
From the looks of their king, they're going to suffer far worse than a hangover for it. A few choking, guttural sounds escape from between Jareth's lips, before they purse together into a tight white line. Sarah doesn't need to understand ancient languages to know the meaning isn't pretty.
“Well,” he says, clipped and strangely quiet. “Let's see if my throne room is still standing.”
From her brief journey through his castle all those years ago, she can remember it wasn't exactly the tidiest place. A king can be forgiven a little mess, given he plays host daily to an army of ill-mannered, near-feral creatures. Today though, that 'little mess' would be better described as 'outright chaos'.
The throne room is filled to capacity. Laughing, belching goblins are everywhere, reclining on cushions, balustrades, steps, window ledges. Some are still eating and drinking, some howling an ear-piercing attempt at song, others apparently too stuffed or drunk to do either. On the far side of the room, some of the goblins appear to be in the midst of some wild, flailing dance around a makeshift fire-pit, arms and legs flopping everywhere. The stone floor beneath their feet has all but vanished beneath a layer of spilled food and drink, guano and chicken feathers, with dozens of the birds pecking their way amongst the sea of rowdy goblins.
Amidst the pandemonium, Sarah is certain she sees a goat.
At her side, she can feel Jareth's growing tension as he surveys the awful scene before him. He's drawn so tightly that his entire body seems to be trembling, a storm brewing in his mismatched eyes as they finally fall upon the throne itself … and its new occupant.
Sprawled across the Goblin King's rightful seat, his feet kicked up in a mockery of his king's carefree pose, is a tiny, fluffy-headed imposter, a crowd of minions gathered on the throne's steps to await his command. Sarah feels her mouth grow slack. Her eyes are torn between the fake king and the real; the one who's lapping up the attention, and the one who's so far gone unnoticed – a ticking time-bomb that's all but ready to detonate. A little gasp escapes her when she sees that not only has the bold goblin stolen the throne itself, he seems to have borrowed a couple of Jareth's most personal belongings, too.
The new Goblin-King finally leaps to his feet, hunching on the throne's edge like a tiny gargoyle, one of Jareth's trademark flowing shirts billowing around his scrawny chest like a sail. He lifts a clenched fist and waves a riding crop wildly in the air, sending a handful of chickens scattering from the immediate vicinity, clucking their disapproval. “Bow, I say, bow. Don't you know how beautiful and important and funny I am?” he cries, in a high-pitched tone that has Sarah biting back a grin at once. It's like listening to Jareth on helium, the little goblin squeaking his demands and displeasure at his pretend subjects, all of whom fall to their knees before him.
The cocky goblin grins at the sight, his greenish lips somehow managing to form an eerily familiar smirk, despite the yellow fangs that protrude from it. He pauses a moment to toss back his hair – strangely full of volume, and far too silky-looking for a goblin – and then pokes the crop towards the snivelling masses who worship at his feet. “Laugh,” he commands them. “Laugh.”
On cue, the other goblins start up a jibbering, howling chorus of laughter, in salute to their phony king.
A giddy hiccup of laughter escapes from her too, and Sarah clasps her free hand over her mouth before more can join it. “Oh,” she murmurs, her voice muffled by her fingers and the mirth that's choking her. “Oh, he's good.”
“He's Bog-fodder,” the true and entirely unamused Goblin King corrects her. He raises his voice, then, addressing his so far blissfully ignorant subjects. “So, you're a king, are you?” he demands, and his familiar voice is enough to freeze the room at once. Every single pair of eyes turns towards their rightful king, horrified gasps hissing through the air, half-full tankards of ale falling from loosened fingers to adorn the already filthy floor.
Even piss-drunk, it's clear the trembling goblins know they've gone too far this time.
The dancing comes to a screeching halt, the fire is put out at once, the songs are no more; in the new silence, the goat gives a single baleful bleat, and is shushed by dozens of panicked mouths.
Upon the throne, the new king has clearly decided it's time to abdicate. The riding crop goes clattering to the floor, the goblin's green face paling to the colour of sour milk as he wrestles to take off Jareth's borrowed shirt.
“I asked you a question,” Jareth reminds him, his tone soft. “Are you or are you not a king?”
It's a question the shivering goblin knows the answer to at once, though he struggles to say it. “No, I'm n -n-n- …”
“Not?” Jareth cocks an eyebrow. “That's where you're wrong, my dear fellow. I hereby decree you to be King of the Land of Stench for the next mo- … wait, is that my product you've used on that festering pit of filth you call hair?”
The reluctant king runs a nervous hand through his luxurious locks. “There … there were so many bottles, Sire. I … I didn't think you'd mind …”
Jareth's eyes narrow. “Well, then we'd better make that two months as king. Farewell, Your Highness.”
“Sire, please, have mercy! Not the Bog, not the-”
With no more than a wave of his hand, the true Goblin King sends the wailing imposter packing, leaving only a soiled white shirt on the throne in his place. The castle doesn't smell too sweet right now, but Sarah imagines it must be heaven, compared to the foolish goblin's new home.
“And what in the seventh circle of hell is this?” Jareth demands, striding into their midst and dragging Sarah right along for the ride, squawking chickens and shrinking goblins be damned. “Have you completely taken leave of your senses? Mabon is in less than a fortnight, the guests will be arriving here in less than a week, and you've turned my castle – my castle – into some hellish nightmarescape. Did you really think you'd get away with it? Do you think I have the time, nay, the tolerance to let this go unpunished? I can hardly believe all the ale in the kingdom could make you so stupid.”
He changes tactics so quickly that it leaves even Sarah blinking in confusion. “Who's still thirsty?” he asks, silky and sweet. When no one answers, he smiles. It isn't a pleasant smile. “No one? No one at all? Come now, don't be shy. Anyone who still has a thirst after all that ale simply must have it quenched. Speak up, and I'll make certain you have a belly full.” When one or two goblins start to tentatively raise their hands, the smile disappears. “A belly full of Bog water,” Jareth snaps.
The unfortunate ale aficionados are gone before Sarah can blink. At least the newly-crowned king will have company.
“The only reason every last worthless one of you isn't stewing in the Bog right this instant is because I've yet to decide which I like better: for you to be dropped in head-first, or for you to be dipped in slowly from the feet upward, forced to watch as every last miserable inch of you is swallowed up by the muck. Any preferences amongst yourselves? No? Shall I do all the choosing then? Such a delight.”
He takes the steps to the throne in twos, bringing Sarah rushing along with him. Standing before a sea of snivelling subjects, she should feel a little awkward, but the goblins don't seem to have even noticed her. Every last head is turned towards the raging king, every pair of eyes wide, every mouth hanging open as Jareth continues his tirade.
“You may not enjoy listening to Gaelan's orders, but you will listen to me. You will heed every last word that falls from that man's mouth from now until I return, is that clear? Am I clear?” There's an immediate chorus of 'yes, Sire's from around him, but he's not yet placated. “If he tells you to lap up that mess in the kitchens with your tongues, I want your stinking mouths open and ready with not a single word of complaint. If he tells you to buff his boots with your eyebrows, I want a line of you at his feet on your hands and knees, ready to do the task before he has even finished speaking. You will follow every order, and you will do it swiftly and well, or you will answer to me upon my return. And trust me, thanks to my … companion … today, you've caught me on a good day.”
Apparently deciding he hasn't terrified them enough, Jareth sweeps the room with a cold glare before raising his and her joined wrists. The goblins gape up at the golden chain, with something that looks halfway between wonder and deepest dismay. “And if any of you even think of disobeying again," Jareth goes on, "you will find yourself my prisoner, spending every waking moment by my side, under my watchful eye, under my absolute control, knowing that I'll be just waiting for you to slip up in some way. Just … like … her.”
A chorus of horror-stricken cries goes up all around the room.
“That's the girl-who-ate-the-peach!”
“He's got her! It's taken years, but he's got her!”
“She's his prisoner?”
“I thought she won. Didn't she say the words?”
“No one wins!”
“Only the king wins!”
“But I thought he lost-”
“Hush, you idiot, he'll Bog us all!”
“Is he gonna Bog her too?”
Jareth sneers down at them all as he proudly displays his new 'captive', every inch the brash, arrogant king that he was to her all those years ago.
Oh, you smug son of a bitch.
In her realm, she's nothing more than a lowly mortal, but here … here, she was, and always will be a champion, and there's no way in hell she's letting him forget it. Fire burns in her chest, red-hot and wild, and she's suddenly determined that the cocky Goblin King won't get to defeat her – not then, not now, not ever.
Before Jareth can blink, she grabs him by the collar and kisses him, full on the mouth, right there where everyone can see. She takes full control, and the kiss is warm and sensuous, catching him entirely by surprise as she nibbles at his lower lip, before slipping her tongue into his mouth. He lowers their chained wrists at once, in the confusion. Still, she kisses him, waiting until he starts to respond, the tip of his tongue just touching hers, and then she pulls back. When she does, she sees his eyes have already begun to glaze over with pleasure. She knows that dark fog of lust when she sees it, but he doesn't let her see it for long. He's quick to turn back to his cowering subjects, clearly fighting to keep his control.
“Ahem. As I was saying. Of all the idiotic, despicable things you've done over the years, this is by far-”
She pulls his mouth back to hers and kisses him again, dragging her tongue over the full line of his lower lip this time. It feels incredible, teasing him this way, power and desire surging through her veins as once more she pulls back to leave him wanting.
This time, when she releases him, it takes his eyes a little longer to leave hers. When he addresses the goblins again, his voice has lost some of its surety.
“Yes, well. I've half a mind to-”
When she kisses him a third time, he surrenders completely, eyes fluttering closed as he kisses her back with abandon. The moan he gives against her lips is victorious music to her ears.
As the kiss deepens, she lets her hands move into his hair, stroking, soothing, voicing her own soft moans into his mouth as his strong hands slip around her body. The battle for control, the unruly goblins are forgotten completely, at least, until their captive audience starts a running commentary.
“Girl-who-ate-the-peach is winning again!”
“I told you she won!”
“Maybe he's her prisoner.”
“Maybe they're getting ready to play that game he sometimes plays with himself.”
“The bedroom game? Ugh, I don't want to be chained to him if he's gonna do that to us!”
“ … I do.”
Dragged back to reality, the two lovers pull apart – but only a little.
A quick downward flick of her eyes tells her he's already starting to get hard – a problem he can't hope to hide in those leggings. Grinning, she brings her mouth to his ear for one last shot. “You were saying something about 'absolute control', Your Highness?”
“Out.” The word leaves Jareth's lips in a hot little whisper, rather than the vicious snarl he probably intended, and he frowns when the goblins don't immediately rush to obey. He raises his voice. “Out, now. You can start by setting the kitchen to rights, and then await Gaelan's further instruction. Any miserable creature who's still standing in this room in five seconds will be Bogged, and then Bogged again before they can even blink.” The threat of the Bog gets them moving quickly enough, Jareth's eyes flicking briefly after them, before returning to her. “And shut that infernal door on your way out,” he calls.
The moment the door is closed, he takes her face in his hands, kissing her hard enough to leave her lips tingling, her senses reeling. “Oh, you wicked, wonderful woman. Gods, I want you.” His words are hot against her mouth, his hands insistent as they rediscover her curves.
“I know.” She's burning to have him, but the pungent smell of the throne room is somewhat … off-putting. “I want you too, but … well, can't we go somewhere else?”
“Hm?” He tears his eyes away from her lips, as if noticing the state of the room for the very first time. “Oh, yes. Of course. We really shouldn't dwell here, but I suppose an hour or two couldn't hurt, safely confined in my bedchamber.”
With a wicked grin, Jareth draws her nearer. The world pitches and shifts, and then the two of them are standing in the middle of a grand bedroom, dominated by an enormous open fireplace and an exquisite four poster bed. She doesn't have time for such silly luxuries as taking in the scenery though, not when the Goblin King's mouth is so hot and wet and urgent, kissing her deeply, before trailing sinful fire all over her neck. From the wild way he's suckling at her delicate flesh, she knows he's going to leave a mark, and the thought of being branded by him gets her even wetter.
She leans into those ravishing kisses, head tipped back in absolute pleasure as he grips her by the ass, drawing her body in close. His stiff cock grinds against her moist core with every step as he walks her backwards towards the bed, the hard line of him just as urgent as his mouth. His hands slide up her back, edging up the hem of her shirt, and as he suckles at her throat, he releases a high-pitched, gleeful giggle.
Her mouth twists upward in surprise – it's so unlike any sound he's made before – and she pulls back … only to see he's just as bemused as she is.
“That … wasn't me,” he tells her.
She blinks at him. “Or me.”
Then the other sounds emerge.
At first, only one voice is distinguishable, excited squeaks and high, reedy cooing sounds. Then, beneath it, she hears low, guttural grunts, strangely rhythmic in their occurrence. It takes her a moment to realise both sets of sounds are coming from the massive bed, a moment longer to turn and see that the bedsheets appear to be moving. There's a small lump in the middle of the bed – a wriggling lump. A writhing lump.
“No. No.” Jareth is adamant as he releases her, in utter denial as he reaches past her to pull back the covers.
“Jareth, I don't think you should-”
It's far too late for thought.
The sight of a bare, greyish-green, hairy little goblin ass as it rises and falls in rhythm is enough to make them both recoil in utter, mind-numbing horror. The grunts, the squeaks, the thrusts seem to go on for what feels like an eternity, but is most likely only a couple of seconds, before the pair of horny goblins realise they've been caught. Before Sarah can shield her poor eyes, she catches sight of two pale, greenish blurs as they leap from the Goblin King's defiled bed, shrieking apologies and snatching up scattered bits of clothing as they go.
For a moment, the king himself stands perfectly still, his face etched with a strange blankness, the calm before the coming storm.
Then, the thunder strikes.
Jareth's voice booms loud enough to rock the very foundations of the castle. “My own bed. My own bed. MY OWN BED. You … you … YOU …”
When she peeks between her fingers, she sees Jareth is almost purple with his rage, his mouth opening and closing in the ominous silence, his hands clenching into fists. There's a moment to see the look of pure, unadulterated horror on both goblins' faces, before they wink out of existence in a flash of orange light. For a moment, there's only the sound of Jareth's ragged breathing.
“You sent them to the Bog?” she finally dares to ask.
“The Cave,” he corrects her.
Something in his face tells her she never wants to find out what lies in the Cave.
“Of all the lowest, repulsive, wretched, insolent-”
He turns to look at her then, and at first appears thrown by what he sees; she's trembling, she knows, her eyes filled with tears. He actually tries to comfort her, before he realises she's actually shaking from holding back her laughter. The black cloud that steals over his gaze is enough to finally set her off, tears of mirth pouring down her cheeks as the joyful horror of the last few minutes escapes her in great, gasping whoops.
“I'm overjoyed you find this all so amusing, love.”
“Oh, I'm so- … I'm so sor- … I'm sorr- … eeeheehee …” She gulps, laugh-coughs, and tries again. “At least … at least you're not … not the only one here who … who-ooo … always wants to fuc- … to fuhhhuhu …” Giving up entirely, she doubles over, clutching at her aching belly as Jareth looks on in disdain. His disapproval only makes her laugh harder.
When she finally gets a hold of herself, choking down the odd little hiccups of laughter that come, she finds him staring at his tainted bed, wide-eyed with what's probably some sort of low-grade trauma. Feeling sorry for him, and relaxed into casual intimacy, she doesn't give it much thought when her arms encircle his waist, her body moulding to his hip. He turns in her embrace, and she kisses him soundly on the mouth, hoping to soothe the awful sight away for the both of them.
It takes him a minute to respond, but soon enough his hands are gripping her ass again, the solid length of him against her inner thigh quickly regaining its proud stature as their kiss grows more heated. When she draws back just enough to look at him, it's clear he wants to frown at her, but seems to be having real difficulty in doing so.
“I'm sorry,” she says, with a smile. “You can have the sheets changed, and in the meantime, there's always my bed.”
Jareth nods, perhaps not trusting himself to speak as he leans in to kiss her again. He gives a strange little sweep of his hand before he takes them to her bedroom, and it's only later – much later – that she realises what it means.
Exhausted after almost an hour of frantic, furious sex, she lies sated in the contented Goblin King's arms as he checks his messages once more. There's only a single scroll this time, signed by Gaelan. It thanks His Highness in dealing so promptly with the goblin issue, and though he's quick to reassure that no lasting damage has been done to the castle itself, he regretfully informs His Highness that in the chaos, someone appears to have set his bed on fire.