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Devoured

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--

(Dr. Gold’s office)…

“How do you know this man is a threat if you can’t recall his face, Sarah?”

The woman shrugs—she’s sitting on the proverbial couch at her psychiatrist’s office, focusing on the pleasant Monet replica sitting on the wall. “I don’t know,” she says slowly, a flush on her face as she knows she sounds ridiculous. “I just know that I have to keep myself safe from him.”

Dr. Gold adjusts her glasses before going over her notes. “Have you experienced any panic attacks lately?”

She shakes her head. “No…not like I used to. But I can feel it beginning to claw at my mind.” She pauses, trying to formulate her words. “The cycle always repeats itself. Just when I think I’m over this…fear…I start feeling like someone’s watching me. And then the dreams start…”

“Have you considered lessening your workload?”

She stops herself from rolling her eyes. “Work is the one thing that keeps me sane.”

Dr. Gold decides to let that go. “How about your personal life, are you in a relationship? I don’t want to sound clichéd, but your dreams may be due to the lack of intimacy.”

“I have no time for a relationship, Dr. Gold. And I don’t exactly lack intimacy, you know that.”

A deep sigh. “Sexual activity isn’t equivalent to intimacy, Sarah. Perhaps what you desire is a truly intimate relationship.”

She shakes her head vehemently. “Those dreams aren’t about intimacy, they’re about…” control. She doesn’t say that part out loud. “They make me feel so weak.”

“Sarah,” Dr. Gold says with an encouraging smile. “You’ve been seeing me for a few months—from your flies, I know that you’ve been in therapy for the last eight years—for severe anxiety, panic attacks, and delusions. I believe you had to be homeschooled after,” she flips through her notes, “fifteen. Yet you managed to graduate summa cum laude from,” she flips through her notes again, “Northwestern. While fighting severe anxiety and panic attacks—your notes say you were hospitalized twice for delusions.”

She shrugs. “So?”

“You held internships every summer and you secured a position before you graduated, in an industry that’s dying. Weak isn’t a word anyone would use to describe you.”

She smiles at that—he most certainly would—just as she thinks this, she feels a sudden chill in the air.

- Precious creature-

She almost jumps. “He’s here.”

Dr. Gold sits up, taking note of the fear, no blatant terror in her patient’s eyes. “You must put a name and face to this stranger, Sarah—who is he?”

Closing her eyes, she tries her hardest to remember, only to come up blank. “I don’t know,” she says with a sob. She repeats her internal mantra while clenching her fists – this isn’t real, this isn’t real, this isn’t real…

- Still in denial, I see-

“Then what does he want?”

Sarah opens her eyes – the chill disappears as quickly as it had arrived – she knows what he wants, and that’s what scares her the most. “Me.”

“Let’s change the subject—I want to cover some more things before our time runs out. Have you been eating well?”

Taking in a deep breath, she shakes her head. “He…his dreams…affect me.” She sees a vision of a rotten peach and almost gags.

“How so?”

“I feel like he’s done something to me. Fed me something so I cannot eat regular food.”

“Your notes state you’ve been diagnosed with ED-NOS since you were seventeen,” the doctor says, frowning. ED-NOS is such a broad diagnosis, it does not give her much to go on. “Why were you not hospitalized when your BMI dropped to 15?”

Sarah laughs at that. “That’s because the insurance company refused to hospitalize me for ED-NOS. Apparently you can only be a delusional psycho or a malnutritioned psycho. You can’t be both.”

“Sarah, you know better than to use psycho with such a negative connotation.”

She smiles. “Yes.”

“You’ve asked to be put on an anti-psychotic again…” the doctor pulls out her prescription pad. “I’m going to give you a very, very mild dose of clozapine. You can take it along with your regular pills in the morning.” She scribbles some more, “I am also going to give you Xanax in case you have panic attacks—you cannot drive or operate-”

“I know the side effects of Xanax,” Sarah interrupts. “Serial patient here.” She smooths her skirt, getting ready to leave—she understands that doctors bring up prescriptions at the very end of each session.

“One more thing, Sarah,” Dr. Gold says, her eyes fixed on the crimson thread around her patient’s wrist. “Why do you feel that gives you protection from this man?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah mumbles, she actually doesn’t. “My roommate in college suggested I wear this…and my delusions became a lot…tamer.” They had—he’d been able to touch her before, but with the thread, he could only touch her in her dreams.

Dr. Gold isn’t satisfied with the answer. “The red thread is seen as a sign of protection in certain cultures. However, I take it that you don’t belong to any of them?”

Sarah grins. “Nope. I was raised in a somewhat Episcopalian but actually atheist household.” Which is true enough—her father’s a law professor and her step mother’s a philosophy professor. Organized religion hadn’t come into play growing up, and Christmas usually meant shopping and presents. 

“Then what makes you believe a simple bracelet fashioned out of thread will help protect you?”

“I really don’t know,” Sarah says, shrugging again. “My roommate suggested it, and it worked—that’s all that matters. It reminds me of Little Red Riding Hood.”

The doctor raises her brows. “Really?”

“Her red cape keeps her protected—she’s in danger the minute she takes it off.”

--

Frowning, Dr. Gold, looks over her notes again—she’s never had a patient quite like Sarah Williams. The girl had grown up in a small, but fairly wealthy, village in upstate New York, quite close to the city. She seemed to have coped with her parents’ divorce decently. And while she had behaved obnoxiously when her father remarried, it wasn’t in the range of abnormal behavior—not for a teenager.

Going by her notes, Sarah Williams had been perfectly normal until her fifteenth birthday—when she started experiencing panic attacks, which sometimes led to full blown delusions. She’d been on a variety of anti-anxiety medications along with the occasional anti-psychotic pill thrown into the cocktail, but none seemed to have worked on a permanent basis.

What Dr. Gold finds most surprising is that Sarah Williams is extremely functional—most patients with such severe problems tended to suffer academically and professionally. Sarah had excelled in both fields. Gathering all of her files, Dr. Gold, decides to go over them meticulously once more. Perhaps she has missed something important.

--

(Sarah’s apartment)…

Sarah stretches in her too-small desk chair, eyeing the clock before sending her article to her editor. Dr. Gold is correct—she has miraculously found a full-time position in a dying industry. But that also means she has to work around the clock if she wants to move ahead. Hell, if she wants to keep her job.

She sighs—journalism sure isn’t what she thought it would be. She cannot wait to gain more experience and be given serious topics instead of silly things like ‘the world’s biggest cookie’ or ‘the cutest dog show.’

Just as she’s about to head to bed, her phone rings—‘Nana’ flashes on her phone. “Hey Nana, what’re you doing up so late, should I be worried?”

The male voice on the other end is unclear, but it is most definitely not her grandmother. “Ms. Williams?”

Standing up abruptly, she replies, “Who’s this?”

The connection is very static, but she can still hear him. “I’m Dr.-” she doesn’t quite catch his name. “…an accident.”

“Is nana…Mrs. Milner alright?” She pauses, hearing only static in the background. “I cannot hear you.”

“…message…” that’s all she hears from the other end before the connection ends.

Sarah frantically tries calling her grandmother’s number only to get a strange, pre-recorded, message saying the ‘phone is out of network.’ Just as she’s about to call her dad, she receives a text message.

Ms. Williams, this is Dr. Jansen. Your grandmother has had an accident. I called as you are the only listed family member she has. There are arrangements to be made. I apologize to be the bearer of such bad news, but it cannot be helped. Sincerely, Dr. J.

What, in the world. She dials her grandmother’s number again—miraculously, it goes through. “Dr. Jansen?”

“Hello, yes, Ms. Williams. I trust you received my message.” His voice is much clearer now.

“Yes, I did. What happened? Is she alright?” Her voice goes soft towards the end—she already knows the answer to her second question.

There’s a deep sigh on the other end. “Your grandmother fell down the stairs, Ms. Williams—she was able to call 911 right before she lost consciousness. She was rushed to the hospital…but,” he pauses. “It’s better of speak in person, Ms. Williams.”

She clutches the phone with both her hands—she’d known such an accident was probable. Her grandmother lived in a century old mansion that required more than a few repairs. She’d absolutely refused to move to a smaller, more accessible place. “I can drive down tomorrow.”

“I’m afraid your grandmother may not have till then.”

She sits down, her legs shaky. “I should be there in a few hours. What hospital is she in?” Not that there’s much of a choice where her grandmother lives—still, there are two major hospitals nearby and she needs to know which one.

There’s a pause at the other end. “She’s not in the hospital, Ms. Williams—her…living will clearly states that she wishes to pass on in her own house rather than a sterile hospital room. I shall keep her company until you arrive.”

Swallowing a lump, as tears threaten to fall down her face, Sarah takes a few deep breaths. “Thank you. I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

She stares at her phone for a few moments before gearing up into action—she packs a small suitcase and dresses for the journey. Deciding that she’d rather not risk disturbing her dad and Karen in the middle of the night, she writes him an email—alerting him that she’ll be driving to Spearhead Harbor, technically, 30 miles north of Spearhead Harbor.

--

(Sarah’s grandmother’s house)…

By the time she reaches the old mansion, it’s 2 in the morning—she had to drive extra slowly due to sudden, torrential rainfall. Pulling up on the driveway, she’s surprised not to see any car parked out front. Wondering if she’s arrived too late, she makes a dash for the front door, yelping as the cold rain drenches her clothing.

“Dr. Jansen,” she calls, knocking loudly, frowning as she sees the paint chip off the wooden doors. The place looks much worse than she’d imagined it would—the ivy growing over the redbrick walls seems to have grown out of control, making the house look like it is covered with unruly leaves. The window shutters, like the front doors, have suffered heavy water damage. The walls have significant cracks, and the chimney seems to have collapsed. She feels guilty, perhaps she should have visited her grandmother more often.

“Dr. Jansen,” she calls again, banging on the door. Her woolen coat is absolutely drenched as are her sneakers. She will get frostbite, or worse, hypothermia, if she stands out on the porch any longer. Sighing with relief as she hears footsteps approach the door, she tries getting her teeth to stop chattering.

The door opens with a loud creak—“Ms. Williams.”

She frowns. That’s not Dr. Jansen’s voice—she can only see the silhouette of a tall man, his face remains hidden by shadows. “You’re not Dr. Jansen.” She stands frozen on the doorway—there’s a small voice in her head that tells her to be wary.

“I insist you come inside, Ms. Williams, or you’ll catch your death.” His words are serious, but his tone is light and teasing. “We don’t want that, do we?”

Her heart thuds in her chest and blood roars in her ears. Calm down, calm down, she whispers in her mind, don’t get a panic attack now. Placing a shaky hand in her pocket, she takes out the Xanax bottle, and places a small white pill under her tongue.

“Ms. Williams.” The man moves closer to the door, and she sees the moonlight bounce off the harsh lines of his face.

“You’re not Dr. Jansen,” she repeats, her eyes widening with every step he takes. There’s something familiar about him, but she’s sure she has never seen him before.

“No,” the man agrees. “I’m Dr. Varg—there was a positive change in your grandmother’s condition, so Jansen took her to the hospital and asked me to wait for you as he couldn’t get through to your phone. Please come in, Ms. Williams, I do not want your health…compromised.” There’s a touch of concern in his voice, but the overall tone is commanding.

Refusing to budge, she stands there, trembling with the cold and something else, and pulls out her phone. The damn thing won’t start—“It’s dead,” she says, stupidly almost.

“IPhone, is it? I have a charger inside.”

Picking up her suitcase, she walks into the house—almost jumping as the door shuts behind her brusquely. She glances around the foyer warily—Dr. Varg seems to have disappeared. She could have sworn he-

“You look like a half-drowned kitten, Ms. Williams.”

“Dr. Varg? Could you tell me what happened, please.” She frowns—his face remains hidden. “The light switches are…” she fumbles with the switch, surprised when the lights do not turn on.

“Power outage,” he says, suddenly close. “There were some heavy winds because of the storm—cables have been severed it seems.”

Her heart catches in her throat—the small hairs on her neck and upper arms stand up. A violent shiver travels up her spine.

“Step out of your clothes, Ms. Williams.” Just like that, he’s not so close anymore.

“Excuse me?” she questions, bewildered.

Dr. Varg laughs, his deep voice resonating off the half-crumbling walls of the old mansion. “You will most certainly catch pneumonia, Ms. Williams. I insist you take a hot shower and change into warm clothes.”

“Not until you tell me what happened.” Her voice comes out rough—she’s driven almost four hours after being told her grandmother’s dying. She’s not going to be patronized by the likes of him.

There’s a sound of something being scratched against a rough surface, and a spark of light—Dr. Varg holds a matchstick in his hands and lights a candle that seems to have appeared out of thin air.

“Do I…know you?” She parts her lips as she stares at him—as if she’s mesmerized. The lines of his face are angled harshly…yet, there’s a strange beauty to his sharp features. Her heart twinges with a sudden surge of emotion.

A close lipped smile. “No. You do not.” He walks over to her and hands her the candle, his fingers almost touching hers. “Please change into warm clothes, Ms. Williams. We’ll head to the hospital once the storm ceases.”

She cannot look away—almost hypnotized by his eyes. One’s iridescently blue…the other is so dark, it’s almost black. Noting a small smirk grace his lips, she flushes with embarrassment. She’s not the kind of woman who checks out men when her grandmother is in the hospital, presumably fighting for her life. Still. There’s something about this man that draws her in.

“I take it you know your way around the house?” A hint of arrogance creeps into his voice—like he knows the exact effect he has on her.

Shaking herself, she replies unsteadily, “Of course. I’ll be upstairs.” She walks over to the grand staircase—wincing as she sees its state—the carpet is torn and the wood is chipped, no wonder nana slipped. She feels a sudden rush of guilt again, a stronger rush this time. She should have visited more often.

“I’ll wait here, Ms. Williams.”

Turning back, she holds his gaze. “Sarah,” she says, “Ms. Williams makes me feel…” well, it makes her feel like he has some sort of authority over her. “…Old,” she lies.

He grins, baring his teeth. “Very well. I shall wait for you here, Sa-rah.” His tone makes the sentence sound vaguely like a threat.

Her heart thuds in her ears. What is with those teeth, she wonders. Without saying another word, she heads up the stairs and to the guest bedroom she generally uses.

--

He watches her climb up the staircase, the sinister smile never leaving his face. This time, Sarah, he thinks, eyes glittering in the darkness, I shall win.

--

 

 

Chapter Text

 

--

 (Sarah’s grandmother’s house)…

She slips on her signature, non-work outfit—skinny jeans paired with an oversized sweater and shallow boots. Drying her wet hair with her chargeable, travel hair dryer, she frowns when she cannot squash the uncomfortable feeling that something’s wrong. A little nabbing feeling in the back of her mind, that things are not what they seem. Dr. Varg seems to be doing who knows what downstairs—she can hear him move about, courtesy the old fashioned heating vents of the house. She shivers…technically, he could be a deranged lunatic for all she knows.

Taking a few deep breaths, she tries calming down—surely, if he were a crazed lunatic, he would have attacked her in the shower? Or the second she entered the house as there wasn’t a single living soul around for miles? Or even when her back was turned as she climbed up the staircase?

She grits her teeth and counts to ten—a self-calming technique, as Dr. Gold would say—it’s just her paranoia acting up. At that moment, the heating vent creates a low creaking sound and she jumps like a startled cat.

Christ! – Get a grip, Williams – she chides herself, quickly running a comb through her semi damp hair and tying it in a knot.

“Dr. Varg,” she calls as she descends down the staircase into the main foyer, now lit by a strangely wavering light—which she realizes is coming from the main living area. She frowns. He must have lit a fire in the grand fireplace. But how? She knows, for a fact, that the fireplace hasn’t been utilized at all in the last decade. And she’s seen that the main chimney has collapsed. “Dr. Varg,” she calls again, louder this time, her footsteps soft on the hardwood floor.

She enters the main living area, only to find it empty. The sound of smell of burning wood fills the air and ominous shadows dance across the walls as the fire cackles. Her frown deepens—yet, there isn’t any smoke. Just how-

“Sa-rah.”

Whirling around, she sees him at the archway that leads to the living area, a steaming bowl in his hands. Shivering, she wonders just how he’s able to move so quietly. “What’s that?” she asks, her heart thudding in her ears.

He looks at her for a few moments, a slight twitch to his lips—as if he’s absolutely savoring her discomfort. “Some warm nourishment for you,” he says, walking towards the fire where she stands. “Don’t look so petrified, Sarah—it’s only soup.”

She stands there—frozen to the spot even though her brain is telling her to flee. Something’s not right…doesn’t feel right. Has he been cooking in her nana’s kitchen? Somehow, she doubts it. Walking towards her in a charcoal gray suit, Dr. Varg doesn’t look like the type to cook. In fact, he doesn’t even look like a doctor. “I’m not hungry”—the words are easy to come up with—it’s what she says when anyone offers her food.

A sharp toothed smile. “I insist you try some, my dear,” his voice is low and coaxing. “Jansen left you in my care and as I stated previously, I do not want your health compromised.” His lips twitch again, like he knows a secret that’s terribly amusing.

Taking the bowl from his hands, she winces—the image of the rotten peach automatically enters the forefront of her mind. “I can’t, I’m sorry,” she says—her throat spontaneously gagging.

“Come, come, Sarah,” he croons, stepping towards her—causing her to take a step back. “I can see you aren’t well. Do sit down.” He keeps invading her space until he has her backed onto the couch.

“Look,” she begins nervously—she sits down, but her back is straight—like she’s ready to bolt any second. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you’ve done for me. I, literally, have to force food down my throat and sometimes, it just comes back up. I’d rather not do that here…and now.” She sighs in relief as he sits on a different couch, across from her—giving back her personal space.

A raised brow. “You have a medical condition?”

She bites her lip, not noticing him widen his eyes as she does so. “No,” she answers, not sure how much she wants to share, “Not really. I just…”

“Yes?” There’s a hint of impatience in his voice.

“Every time I try eating, I see this image of a rotten peach and it makes me so nauseous,” she says, looking at the contents of the bowl in her hands. It looks like a clear broth of sorts – maybe I should just try it – she raises a spoon to her lips.

An amused glance. “That makes no sense.”

Her temper flares—“I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s just how my life has been for the last eight years.”

“It’s only broth, Sarah—perhaps you should give it a try.”

Feeling too drained to argue, she takes a sip and waits for the sickness to kick in—eyes widening as she realizes that it doesn’t.

“There you are.” His eyes gleam with amusement.

Without being able to stop herself, she takes the bowl in her hands and drinks the hot soup in large gulps. It’s been years, eight years, since she’s been able to eat anything without feeling nauseous—her body’s response is to gorge as much as possible.

Deep laughter. “Nausea did not occur this time, I take it?”

A slow blush colors her cheeks and spreads down her neck. “I’m sorry,” she says, placing the now-empty bowl on a side table. She smiles sadly—nana would have been horrified at the sight of her only granddaughter eating like an animal. “I have a complicated…problem.”

He just sits there, looking at her intensely, without saying anything—the force of his gaze making her skin burn.

“Have you gotten in touch with Dr. Jansen?” she asks, feeling the need to disrupt the silence—and then she remembers something. Frowning, she says, “You said you had an iPhone charger…but how can I charge my phone if there’s no power?” She feels her pockets for her phone and gasps, remembering that she’s left it upstairs.

He doesn’t move a muscle—his eyes intent on her. “Must have slipped my mind.”

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god—she can’t stop herself from trembling as her ears ring. She feels haunted—like she knows there’s something very wrong. 

“Sarah, are you alright?”

My precious creature…all alone…

“No,” she whispers, wrapping her arms around herself—rocking her body back and forth. “This isn’t happening.”

Instead of reacting to her panic, he sits back on the armchair languidly. “What is it that’s not happening, Sarah?” There’s a mocking tone to his voice.

She looks up at him—eyes wide—a deer caught in the headlights. There’s a slight twist to his lips, like he’s smiling faintly. Her lips part—this time, she does notice how his eyes widen a bit. “I need to get my medication,” she says, abruptly standing up—she’s left that upstairs as well. Her head feels light and black dots swarm in front of her eyes. DammitI shouldn’t have stood up so fast.

“Allow me, Sarah. You don’t look like you can climb those treacherous steps at the moment. We do not want you to fall down like your grandmother, do we?” His tone is soothingly complacent, like he’s lightly admonishing a child.

“It’s only a head rush,” she mumbles—but she does sit back down. She stares at him disappear out of the archway only to come back seconds later with the orange prescription bottle.

“Here you are,” he gives her the bottle before sauntering back to his armchair and sinking down, his movements as graceful as a large, jungle cat.

“How did you…so quickly?” There’s a hitch in her voice—the gnawing feeling in her brain comes back full force. Something isn’t right.

A slow smile. “I must have been gone for a few minutes, Sarah—you’re mistaken.”

With shaky hands she presses the childproof lid and opens the bottle, taking out two tablets. “So have you gotten in touch with Dr. Jansen?” she asks again—realizing she never got an answer the first time around.

His smile widens. “No.” He gestures to the sweeping windows that are now shuttered. “The storm outside has, what is the word you use, killed cell reception. Now…I can’t help but notice your body language, Sarah. Are you afraid of me?” He asks as if he already knows the answer.

“N-n-no,” she stutters after staring at him for a few moments. But then she regains her composure. “I’m reacting like any normal person would after finding out that their grandmother has had an almost fatal accident—and rushing to her house to find a stranger there.”

There’s a flash of emotion in his eyes—reaching into his jacket, he pulls out an identity card. “I suppose, this will put you at ease,” his tone is soft, contradicting the intensity of his gaze. “Here,” he says, walking over to her and handing her the small, plastic object.

Sighing in relief—she lets out a breath that she didn’t even realize she was holding. His ID says that he is a visiting psychiatrist at Sacred Heart. So not a lunatic then, she thinks. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes, even though she doesn’t exactly know what she’s apologizing for, “I just…don’t know what to make of all this.”

He smiles a charming smile—one that disarms her. “I can understand,” his eyes turn dark as shadows bounce off his sharp features.

“Thank God,” she says with exaggerated relief. “I’m not usually so jumpy.”

His smile remains. “Do let me know if you think I’m overstepping my boundaries, Sarah,” he pauses for a few moments, “I am not your doctor…however, I did see you take three of those so far,” he indicates the Xanax bottle.

Knowing where this conversation is headed, she purses her lips—cautiously, she decides to let him continue. He is a psychiatrist…perhaps he can help? “I have generalized anxiety and I suffer from panic attacks sometimes, along with auditory hallucinations,” she summarizes—after years of going to various doctors, she’s able to condense her ‘condition’ into those ‘neat’ categories. Without consciously realizing it, she plays with the red thread around her wrist.

A graceful frown. “And you are getting an attack now?” There’s a trace of something akin to glee in his voice, but she doesn’t notice.

“I can feel it bubbling.”

“Is playing with that thread,” he says, indicating the bracelet with his long fingers, “a self-soothing habit of yours?”

She shakes her head ‘no.’ “I didn’t realize I was doing it,” she says—looking at the bracelet distractedly. It’s become old now, and has faded from bright crimson to a dull shade of red.

“Forgive me—and do stop me anytime if this makes you uncomfortable—but I am curious about your…rather unique condition, Sarah. Could I ask you some more questions?”

She stares at him, unable to speak.

-the fire cackles on as the silence stretches-

He sighs. “Forget it—you’re not my patient, and it’s not professional on my part to intervene.”

“No,” she says softly—she’s gone to so many doctors over the years, what’s one more? “You can ask me what you like,” her voice becomes bolder and her green eyes flash with determination. “I’ll answer everything honestly.”

“You don’t have to-”

“But only if you tell me exactly what you think,” she interrupts. “My doctors have never been completely honest with me and I want to know if there’s any hope that this…condition…is manageable permanently.”

The softest of smiles. “Of course, dear. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He gestures to the massive sofa that’s adjacent to the couch, where she currently sits. “Would you be so kind to recline.”

She raises her brows. “I don’t think shrinks have actually asked patients to recline for decades.”

He chuckles. “You can say that I am…old fashioned.”

“How old fashioned? Burghölzli sanatoria during the Jungian ear or the hospital in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s’ Nest?” she jokes, even though she willingly obeys and reclines—just as he has asked.

“Neither, I’m afraid.” There’s a smile in his voice. “Close your eyes, Sa-rah.”

She complies as she hears him pull up an arm chair. “What next, Dr. Freud?”

Slow, rich laughter—she can hear him sit down and lean over. “The beginning. How did this start?”

At least his questions aren’t long winded. “I don’t remember how, but it was right after my fifteenth birthday. I remember fighting with my dad and Karen, his wife, about babysitting and then…” she drifts off. Something’s missing, something has always been missing from her memory of that night—her breathing quickens. “Then I remember feeling…dread. Fear. Completely paralyzing terror…”

“Anything more?” His eyes darken as they notice the rise and fall of her chest.

“There is a man.” She lowers her voice, “I feel like he’s out to…get me.”

Get you, what does that mean?”

Blood creeps up her cheeks. “He wants me, body and soul.”

“You’re using euphemisms, Sarah. What do you mean?” His tone is sharp now—rebuking.  Perhaps even condescending.

Her breathing hitches. “…I…” she cannot complete that thought.

A deep, irritated sigh. “I cannot help you if you’re not honest.” He sounds disappointed. “Let go of your inhibitions and just be,” his mercurial voice has regained its lilting, honeyed tone. “I am not going to judge you, Sarah—I am only here to listen. You’ll allow me the opportunity to help you, Sarah…won’t you?”

She nods, opening her mouth to speak. “He wants to fu… have sex with me,” she says, going red in the face when she realizes that she almost said ‘he wants to fuck me.’ Though it’d be true enough—both literally and figuratively.

“You said you were fifteen—your fantasy is in line with the changes that accompany puberty, don’t you think?”

“That’s exactly what the rest of the doctors said.” She’s almost upset—somehow, she had expected something different from him.

“Well, I think there’s more to it than simple hormonal changes,” he says softly. “I may have to ask questions that will make you uncomfortable, Sarah.”

She can hear the challenge in his voice. “Go ahead,” she says—her eyes still shut—she’s unable to see the serpentine smile on his face.

“What happened afterwards?”

“I started having these…hallucinations…” she shudders, remembering how terrified she had felt at fifteen.

“Elaborate.”

“He’d speak to me sometimes and then he would touch me. I knew he wasn’t there and none if it was real, but I felt his touch.”

“I don’t quite understand, Sarah—what do you mean by touch?”

She swallows nervously, but continues. “At first it was innocent—he’d pull my hair or pinch my thighs. Then he started caressing my neck…my breasts…until he…” she shudders violently, with fear and something else. “He made me feel…”

“What did he make you feel, Sarah?” His voice softens—this puts her at ease.

“Desire,” she whispers. “He’d touch me in between my legs until I was soaked with need…and the worst part is that I-” she pauses, as if she’s admitting this for the first time. “I was addicted to his touch. It made me feel so depraved.”

“That couldn’t have been very easy while you were in school.”

“I just stopped going—had to be homeschooled.”

“You must have seen a doctor, what was his diagnosis?”

She reddens, this time with anger—recalling how patronizing her very first psychiatrist had been. “He thought I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I was touching myself, and imagined a male figure instead.”

“How…Freudian of him,” he says, a smile in his voice. “This continued?”

“Until my freshman roommate gave me this after an unfortunate incident,” she replies, indicating her weathered red bracelet. “Then the touching stopped…he whispered, still whispers, things to me.”

“Does his voice sound familiar?”

She frowns. “No…I can never quite place his voice. And I can’t remember what he looks like.”

“What can you place about him?”

Her frown deepens and her body tenses. “That he’s dangerous.”

“Moving on,” he says, tone light—her frown disappears. “Your father and his wife, they did not repress you?”

She snorts. “Not in the least—they’re both college professors and fairly liberal about pretty much everything.”

“So not the religious type to stress the evils of sex?”

“Definitely not,” she says with a laugh—they were more of the ‘experience everything you can’ type.

“You said your roommate gave you the red thread after an incident. What was it?”

She bites her lower lip, heart thudding in her ears, blood creeping up her face. “It was embarrassing. I’d rather not-”

“Oh, Sarah,” his tone is gentle. “You’ve disclosed so much, surely you don’t think I’ll judge you.”

Sighing, she relents. “We shared one class, econ 103—so we were sitting in the lecture hall, one of those big ones that can fit more than 500 students…that’s when it started. He started touching me lightly through my clothes…” she gets lost in the heated memory, her flesh burning anew. “Then he started kissing me—it was the first time I felt his lips on my body,” she shudders.

“You must be thorough, Sarah—describe exactly what he did.”

“He kissed my neck, my breasts—his mouth was hot on my nipple…his fingers roughly stroked… my clit…” desire floods her body.

His eyes glitter as he sees her body flush with newly awoken lust. “Go on.”

“He made me come again, and again, and again until I passed out. I bit my lips so hard, to stop myself from moaning, that there was blood all over my face. My roommate suggested this,” she indicates her bracelet. “She is really flighty and new agey, so she believes in anything and everything—anyway, she suggested the crimson thread and it actually worked. He hasn’t touched me since.”

“Do you miss his touch?”

She opens her mouth to say no, but stops herself—she hasn’t really thought about the answer. “I don’t know—I still feel him in my dreams.”

“Describe those dreams for me.”

“I can’t describe each and every one—there’s something new every time. But it’s always about sex.” She laughs at the absurdity of her situation. “A girl I met in group therapy experienced similar dreams—but she was raised in a psychotically religious household and was really screwed up about sex. I just can’t understand why this is happening to someone like me.”

“I’m here to help you with that,” he reassures.  “Now, how often do you have these dreams?”

She shrugs. “Once or twice a week.”

“How do you feel upon awakening?”

“Desperate,” her voice is breathless. “I wake up sodden with lust. My body’s sweaty and my thighs are wet.”

He leans into her, breathing in her scent. “What do you do upon awakening, Sarah?” There’s laughter in his crooning voice. He already knows what she does.

She shivers. “I touch myself…but…”

“Continue.”

“But I am never satisfied.” There’s a deep seated hunger in her voice, “Not even when I…”

“When you what?” His eyes sharpen, he knows what’s coming next.

“I sleep with other men. Actual men, I mean.” She feels a heaviness in the air—loud thunder echoes in the sky, shaking the walls of the old mansion.

“Do not be alarmed,” he says, half laughing, half soothing. “It’s only the storm. Back to where we were—do you sleep with actual men often?”

“If you’re trying to classify my behavior as risky, then don’t bother.” She’s irritated, rightfully so. “I’m very responsible with protection.”

“Relax Sarah.” He laughs out loud. “I’m not trying to classify you as anything—merely wondering if there’s a pattern to the dreams and your behavior.”

“I’m not good with relationships…and I learned that the hard way.” She knows she has hurt a few people in the past, and she’s not proud of that. “And I don’t keep count of how many people I sleep with like some frat boy—but if I had to guess, I’d say one or two a month?”

He asks with perverse satisfaction, “And you’re never satisfied?”

“No. I’ve tried reenacting those dreams with actual men and it’s just not the same.”

His fury runs wild—another loud burst of thunder rocks the house.

“Jesus.” She sits up reflexively.

“I don’t recall telling you our session is over,” his voice is icy and his tone commanding. “Lie back down.”

For some reason, she does exactly as he asks, her body jolting as the thunder rumbles on.

“What do you make of the man in your dreams, Sarah?” Just like that, his voice is calm again.

Shivering, she replies, “He’s the man of my nightmares, not dreams. He’s powerful…and unforgiving.”

“That’s all?”

“I can’t explain…just that he wants to get me.”

“Let me make it easier—what do you believe he will do to you, if he ever does get you, that is? So far, the only thing he seems to do is gratify your sexual needs—surely, that’s not such a threatening premise?”

She frowns, mulling over his words. He’s right.

He continues, his voice as sweet as wild honey. “Perhaps you have miscalculated his intentions, Sarah—instead of running from him, perhaps you should meet him, challenge him, so to speak.”

She opens her mouth in shock. “You actually think he exists?”

Soft, derisive laughter. “Speaking metaphorically of course, Sarah dear.” She hears a rustle of fabric as he shifts in the arm chair.

Ignoring the screaming voice in her head that tells her to beware, she asks, “How would I do that?”

“Face your fears like any other phobic.” He speaks matter-of-factly, “Cut the red cord and invite him to join you…to do as he pleases, because you are not afraid.”

Cold shivers sweep down her spine. “I can’t do that.”

He sighs deeply. “Sarah,” he chides. “The worst he can do is touch you. And you’re not exactly a nun, are you? What makes you so afraid of his touch?”

His words work well to confuse her—suddenly she feels like she’s fifteen again. A child on the verge of becoming an adult. “I don’t know,” she whispers.

“I am here with you, Sarah—face your fears. I can’t bear seeing such a smart, young woman hindered by something so foolish and insignificant. This man of your nightmares…he should have no power over you.” He knows those words will work to ignite her courage—he smirks—and that will cause her downfall.

Nodding slightly, she agrees. “Okay.”

“Hold out your right hand,” he says, his eyes glittering with wild excitement—she’s almost in his grasp. He places a small dagger in the palm of her hand.

Her fingers close automatically against the cold metal—she doesn’t notice how his fingers do not touch hers.

“Open your eyes,” he commands, leaning over her as her eyelids flutter open. “You must be the one to do it.”

She looks at the intricate dagger in her hands—she’s never seen anything quite like it. The hilt seems to be studded with rubies. “Do all psychiatrists carry decorative knives in their pockets?” she jokes weakly. “Like some sort of protection against us lunatics?”

His lips settling into a harsh line, he scrutinizes her—his eyes severe. “It’s a valuable antique—now cut the cord Sarah. Let him know that he does not have the power to cause you distress.”

She looks at him for a few seconds before slowly slipping the blade under the bracelet. Her eyes are intent on his as she angles the blade, snapping the cord with one swift movement. Her breath hitches in her throat—she looks at him like she’s expecting something terrible to happen any moment.

- pin drop silence-

“You see? Nothing to be worried about,” he says calmly.

Her lips part as her heartrate reaches a frenzied peak. “Oh God,” she says, her body shaking with relief—her emotions are so strong that she covers her face with her hands and starts sobbing uncontrollably. “I was so scared.”

In one fluid motion, he sits next to her on the sofa, his arm draped around her shoulders. “Do not weep so, Sarah,” he lilts. “The man of your nightmares no longer has any power over you.”

She lifts her head and somehow wills herself to stop crying. “I’m sorry—I’m just so relieved,” she stammers, her voice breaking as she breaks out into a fresh wave of sobs. “I don’t know how to thank you”—she says, in between hiccups.

He rubs her back in a circular motion, soothing out the sobs that wrack her rail thin frame. “I’m sure you can think of something. But that doesn’t matter right now.”

She leans into his touch—it’s something familiar, yet something alien. “Thank you.”

There’s a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. “I noticed a bottle of merlot in the kitchen, when I was preparing your soup. Shall we celebrate?”

She can’t help but smile—he looks almost boyish. “I don’t drink—but, by all means, go ahead.”

“You don’t drink?” He looks somewhat affronted. “What, at all?”

She laughs. “I’ve been on medication since I was fifteen—and I was too afraid that the pills wouldn’t work if I drank.”

He grins determinedly. “We’ve overcome a few of your other difficulties tonight. Perhaps you can have one glass with me—take it as free medical advice.”

“Alright,” she concedes. “But if Jesus starts talking to me, I’m going to sue you for medical malpractice.”

“You’ve gone from nightmare man to Jesus. Rather fickle with your hallucinations, aren’t you?” He asks teasingly before leaving the room and heading to the kitchen—he appears calm, but he’s barely able to contain himself.

After all these years, Sarah Williams is finally his.

 

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

She places the empty wine glass on a side table, relieved that the revolting drink is finally over. Never having been accustomed to the taste of alcohol, she can’t tell the difference between cheap and good wine.

Seeing the look of disgust on her face, he laughs softly. “The wine is excellent, Sarah—your face does not do it justice.”

She smiles at him weakly, her heart thudding a little as his laughter fills the room. “I can’t tell the difference between a $3.00 bottle from Trader Joe’s and that,” she gestures at the bottle that’s sitting on the side table.

“You shall, one day,” he says, sounding very sure of himself.

Peering at him uncertainly, she wonders what they should do next. The storm rages on outside—she can hear the winds howl against the decrepit wooden shutters. “Is cell reception back up?” she asks.

Pulling out a phone from his jacket, he looks at it before shaking his head. “Here,” he says, handing her the device. “You can dial the hospital the second the signal is back.”

“Thank you.” She frowns as she takes the device—his phone has no background image, but the time, 1:15, flashes on the screen. “It is 1:15? I thought I got here at 2. How’s that even possible?”

“No, my dear—you reached here at around midnight,” his silky voice carries a hint of amusement. Leaning languidly against the backrest, his dual eyes lighten with cruel amusement as he takes in her confused expression.

Eyes widening with disbelief, she stares at him mutely for a few moments before she can speak. “But I could have sworn…” she lets the thought drift off, and suddenly, her heart starts thudding more rapidly. In spite of her various mental health problems, her thoughts have never felt this…scrambled before. Something is definitely wrong.

Dr. Varg sighs deeply, but a trace of a smile remains on his face. “For someone who has consumed three benzodiazepines and some alcohol, you appear far too tense, Sarah—what seems to be the matter?”

Sarah grimaces as she takes in his words. She has combined three benzos with alcohol. Stupid, stupid move—mixing tranquilizers and alcohol is a big no-no …yet, Dr. Varg doesn’t seem the least bit concerned. “I was certain I reached here at 2,” she says, looking away—a blush works up her cheeks, partly due to embarrassment, partly due to the wine. Suddenly, she’s not so certain of anything anymore.

A raised brow. “Perhaps you missed the 1 before 2,” he jokes, his deep chuckle reverberating around the room.

“I suppose that’s possible,” she agrees slowly—it could be possible, couldn’t it? She had been quite distraught, and the sudden storm had been disorienting. Maybe she had misread 12 as 2—it’d be the simplest explanation. When in doubt, go with the answer most compatible with Occam’s razor, she thinks with a smile.

“Shall we continue our session, Sarah?” he lilts, his voice low and coaxing. “There is nothing else to occupy our time—unless, of course, you’d rather retire for the night.” There’s a catch in his tone, one she can’t quite place.

“I need to be awake,” she says, determination coloring her voice. “I want to drive to the hospital the minute the storm lets up.”

“Of course.” An encouraging smile. “Could I persuade you to continue then?”

She chews her lower lip, unsure of what to do. Technically, she’s getting a free session, so she has nothing to lose. However…this man makes her feel conflicting emotions. He has a paradoxical effect on her—making her feel relaxed and agitated at the same time.

“I’ll take your hesitation as a no, then,” he says, a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I’m afraid I cannot share my observations with you, based on such a short session—they would be incomplete.”

“No,” she says quickly—something in her jumps at the chance of pleasing him. “We can continue. You have to tell me exactly what you think, just like you promised.”

“Don’t worry, Sarah,” he says, chuckling slowly. “I always keep my end of the bargain. If you would recline and close your beautiful eyes once again…” He winks at her before gesturing that she lie back down on the sofa.

Taking a deep breath, she does as he asks—here goes. “Ready when you are.”

“If you do not wish to continue at any point, please let me know,” he says with soft intensity.  “What makes you so afraid of this man?”

She hears the fabric of his suit rustle as he shifts in the armchair—she wonders if he’s leaning down and scrutinizing her face. “I can’t pinpoint the exact reason,” she says, feeling more self-conscious by the second. There’s another quick rustle of fabric—she imagines him leaning further down, his face inches from hers.

“Come, come, Sarah,” he murmurs, an almost sing-song tone to his words. “From everything I’ve gathered so far, there is absolutely no reason for you to be anxious…” he pauses, shifting in the chair again, watching her face intently. “Unless, of course, you do have some deep seated fears regarding sex. Fears that you haven’t addressed.”

“No,” she replies, indignant. “Like I said, I wasn’t raised to view sex as evil or even sacred or anything else a religious lunatic may think.”

“Then why are you afraid of him, Sa-rah,” he draws out her name with cool amusement. “He hasn’t done anything apart from pleasure you. Yet you fear him so.”

She frowns—that doesn’t sound right. “He’s not some harmless Casanova figure, Dr. Varg, he’s more of a dark temptation, like the serpent with Eve.”

A slow laugh. “Here I thought you weren’t religious.”

Sighing with frustration, she shakes her head. “I’m not—that’s just the best example I can come up with.”

“Best example, is it? I wonder what your basis for comparison is.”

Suddenly, she feels cold—her teeth chatter and shivers shake her rail thin frame. Blood roars in her ears and fear pools in the pit of her stomach. The nagging feeling is back—something is wrong. She has to try twice before finding her voice, “I don’t have one.”

His laughter comes out harsher this time. “No, obviously not.” He doesn’t give her a chance to ask him what he means—instead, he says, “You’ve made it quite clear that you’re not…shall we say, squeamish about sex—and I believe you, my dear. At the same time, you seem extremely horrified by this nightmare man of yours. You must ask yourself, what is it about him, specifically, that frightens you.”

She calms down a little, he sounds sincere enough when he says he believes her. “He…” she doesn’t quite know how to word her fears. “He wants to cause me harm.”

He makes a noise that sounds like scoff. “That’s a bit too generic, isn’t it?” There’s a touch of disdain in his voice.

“Maybe, but that’s how I feel—it’s not just sex. He wants more. Much more.”

“That doesn’t tell me anything, Sarah. Now, you did say that you wanted me to tell you exactly what I think—and my dear, I think you are irrationally afraid of the unknown.”

She can’t help but feel a sudden flare of anger at the arrogance of his tone. “What the fuck does that mean?” She winces as the words leave her mouth, she’s never sworn at a psychiatrist before.

A dark laugh. “That means, dear girl, you are afraid of your own imagination. That your irrational fear has given your nightmare man more power than he deserves.”

She takes in a sharp breath, her anger dissipating. “I’d never thought to look at it that way.”

“Pity,” his tone is mocking. “Regardless, you ought to lessen this being’s power over yourself, Sarah. I believe, that the first step to do so, requires you to relinquish all semblance of control.”

“What?” she asks, her mouth dry. All semblance of control?

He grins, flashing a set of wolfish teeth. “Allow him to do as he pleases, Sarah. Once you realize that he cannot harm you, you shall be crowned the victor in this duel of yours.”

Duel? What a strange term to use. “Even if I were to agree—how would I let him know?”

“Oh Sarah,” he says, a smile in his crooning voice. “Once again, we’re speaking metaphorically of course. Open up your imagination—the depths of your imagination where he lies, waiting for you, and offer yourself.”

Offer myself? She gulps—the wind raps against the shutters, howling eerily. “How do I do that?”

He’s quiet for a few moments, as if he’s choosing his words carefully. “By completing this session with me—listening to my specific instructions. I haven’t really tried anything like this with another patient, so this session of ours will be a trail of sorts. Do I have your compliance, Sarah?”

“Yes,” she replies, surprised when her voice does not waver—she sounds far braver than she feels. “But only if you can promise that my hallucinations will stop. I’m not signing up to be your guinea pig without that.” She awaits his answer, already sure of what he’s going to say—in the past eight years, no psychiatrist has ever guaranteed her a specific outcome.

A short laugh—“I assure you that the dreams and auditory hallucinations will stop, Sarah. But only if you do as I say, of course.”

It’s on the tip of her tongue to say he can’t legally mean that, but she stops. Maybe she can play his game a while longer. What has she got to lose anyway? At best, he may actually get rid of her symptoms, at worst, life will go on as usual. “Okay.”

A rustle of fabric. “Good girl.”

Girl? “I’m a grown woman.”

“My apologies,” his tone is light. If her eyes were open, she would see an ominous glimmer of amusement in his. “Since you have been so adamant that you are not, indeed, repressed—let us focus on any intimate relationships you may have had.”

 She sighs. “I told you already—I tried reenacting the dreams, and none of those reenactments actually-”

“I said intimate relationships, Sarah, and not failed replications of your many fantasies,” his tone is all ice. “Any long term relationships?”

“Not really, no.”

“None at all—isn’t that strange for a grown woman of 23?” Just like that, his voice regains its velvety smoothness.

She speaks hesitantly, “Maybe two—one was right after I started wearing the crimson thread. And the other was during junior year, that one lasted a little over three months.”

“Begin with the first one—how would you describe your experience?”

Taking in a shaky breath, she says, “I was so excited when the touching stopped—the dreams and whispers stopped for a while too. I could finally date, I felt that maybe I’d have a normal life. But a few months in, the whispers started again…followed by the dreams.” Her heart starts beating against her rib cage in loud thuds. “Bra-”

“No names,” he cuts in sharply. “It’s better if you keep their names to yourself, my dear.”

Okay. “He was just a normal guy in my program—he wasn’t in any sports team, but he played pretty much everything. Great sense of humor.” She sighs, getting lost in her memories.

“Whatever happened between you and the…normal boy?” There’s a touch of sarcasm in his voice. Just a touch—so light that she misses it.

“Things were good for some time. I…” she stumbles with her words. “I liked him enough that I lost my virginity to him…he was…comfortable. Someone you could spend Sunday mornings with in bed, watching TV.”

“Continue.” His voice is commanding, but otherwise expressionless.

“A month into the relationship, I started hearing whispers. Every time I touched him, I’d hear his voice in my head, whispering comments that bordered on…” she shudders. “…perverse. And then the dreams started—they came back more intense than ever. I just couldn’t continue seeing someone when I dreamed of fucking someone else, so I broke it off. He was pretty hurt.”

“What of your more recent relationship?”

“He was…different.” She shivers, remembering the dark haired, green eyed man. Together, they made a striking couple. “He was more experienced, so sex was good, not as intense as my dreams, but good enough. It wasn’t exactly a healthy relationship—he was fascinated with my bones, said my fragility turned him on. That should have been a red flag, but he was open to new things so we tried-”

He interrupts her with a harsh sigh. “Yes, reenacting your fantasies. I’d like you to give me an example—start by describing your dreams, Sarah.”

She’s taken aback by his sudden disruption, but she answers nonetheless—“Most dreams start off the same way, I am lying down on an impossibly soft surface and he’s…his fingers stroke my skin in long, lazy caresses. I’m not restrained or blindfolded, but I place my wrists over my head and hold onto the headboard. Sometimes, my legs are spread open, sometimes they are not…but that makes the anticipation worse.”

“Let me stop you for a moment,” he interrupts again, smoothly this time. “Why hold the headboard if you’re not restrained?” He watches her intently as her lips part as she recollects her dreams—a blush spreads from her cheeks down her neck. He can hear her breathing deepen ever so slightly.

She struggles to find her voice for a few moments. “That’s what he wants.”

“And does he tell you this?”

She shakes her head. “No. It’s just one of those things I know instinctively.”

“Describe his touch for me.”

The fire burns brighter in the room, yet she shivers. “Feather light. Soft but textured, like he’s wearing gloves. Constantly moving until the torment reaches unbearable levels. He likes it when I cry out in need—only then does he touch my nipples and…” she takes a deep shaky breath.

“What then, Sarah?” he lilts, his tone as sweet as honey. His eyes darken as he watches her grows more and more aroused. Sending a spark of magic towards the fire place, he makes the roaring fire burn hotter.

“He starts tickling the skin on my inner thighs,” her voice is now husky, the sudden increase in temperature makes her heady. “His fingers slowly inch their way towards my…center.”

A cruel, derisive laugh. “Come now, Sarah—a grown woman such as yourself would surely say something other than the word center.”

She doesn’t quite know what to say to that, so she continues, “His movements are slow and deliberate, he teases me by playing with the wet skin on my outer folds until I whine with frustration.” She can feel the effects of going through her dreams—sweat beads on her forehead and there’s a deep, pulsing ache in her core. “After torturing me enough, he strokes the length of my slit at a leisurely pace, sometimes lingering around my…entrance.”

A deep sigh and a quick rustle of fabric. “Sarah, I implore you to stop using euphemisms when speaking with your doctor, well, at least with me, if not your regular doctor. You say you’re not repressed in any way, yet you use words like center, outer folds, and slit.”

“What should I say instead, Dr. Freud? I took only one bio class and I’ve forgotten the correct terms for human anatomy—should I say vagina? Vaginal entrance? Labia? Vulva? What?” She can’t help but be annoyed that he’s brought up the whole ‘repressed’ thing again.

An amused laugh. “No, my dear, I was thinking along the lines of pussy or cunt.”

She gapes—her mouth wide open—she’s never heard a doctor speak like that.

Deeper laughter. “I’m sorry—I didn’t expect an unrepressed, grown woman to be uncomfortable using the correct vocabulary.”

Blood creeps up her cheeks—she knows she’s walking into a trap but she can’t help it. He’s probably only testing her to assess whether she’s as unrepressed as she’s made herself out to be. “I have no problems saying pussy or…”

“Yes?” The challenge in his voice is palpable.

She grits her teeth. “Cunt.”

“Good girl.”

“Dr. Varg, I’m-”

“A grown woman, yes I know,” he interrupts—a vulpine smile on his lips. “And so I’ve noticed.”

What the fuck does that mean? She’s about to ask him that, but he interrupts her before she can. “Back to your dream, Sarah, or nightmare rather, what does he do next?”

“It depends…sometimes he enters me with his fingers…f- fucking me slowly until I feel like I’m going to explode with pleasure. Sometimes he pleasures me with his mouth—his lips sucking my clit and his tongue teasing my entrance.” She breathes shakily—moisture gathers between her legs, soaking up her cotton panties.

“Are you feeling the effects of these dreams at the moment, Sarah?” His voice comes out low enough that it’s almost seductive. He can hear her breathing deepening more and more as her lust grows stronger, fueling his own.

She gulps. “No.”

“Very well then, continue.” His dual eyes gleam like polished silver.

“Like I said, his movements are usually unhurried. He waits until I am panting and writhing, just begging to come. But sometimes--” her voice hitches, which she tries hiding with a cough. “Sometimes he’s hard and fast, like that day in the Econ lecture. He takes me over the edge over and over again until I plead for mercy.”

“Forgive me for sounding so direct, but does he ever actually fuck you?”

The woolen sweater feels hot and scratchy against her skin. “Yes, sometimes.”

“Elaborate for me.”

“Most of the time, he’s slow and controlled. His pace is excruciating, but it’s also extremely pleasurable. Once in a while he…he takes me roughly.” The throbbing ache in her core increases as she recalls the dreams in which he flips her over and takes her from the back—filling her so deeply that she wavers amidst pleasure and pain.

A raised brow. “Not as pleasurable, I take it?”

She frowns as she hears him move, wishing she could see the expressions on his face as he makes his assessments. “Not necessarily,” she says slowly—like she’s almost ashamed to admit it. Maybe he is correct, I am repressed. She’s wary at the ease with which he makes her doubt herself.

“Anything else?”

Well, yes—he fucks me every which way, she wants to say, but doesn’t. Instead, she shrugs and says, “Other positions as well.”

“Of course,” there’s a hint of a smile in his voice. “Does he say anything at all?”

Her face burns with equal parts desire and embarrassment—he says a whole lot of things. Most of which should make her uncomfortable, but they don’t. “He whispers certain things about me…about what he’s going to do to me and how I’m going to let him because I enjoy it,” her voice comes out so husky that she clears her throat.

“I can’t help but notice the scarlet flush that’s rapidly spreading across your face, Sarah—are you sure you’re as unrepressed as you think you are?”

“I”—she begins before cutting herself short. Truth is, she’s not sure. “I don’t know anymore.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” there’s undisguised triumph in his voice. “So far—it seems as if this nightmare man of yours is only intent on pleasing you, Sarah. Does he ask you to reciprocate his physical affections?”

“No,” she replies quietly. “In fact, I can only feel his touch and hear his voice, I don’t even know what he looks like.” She breathes deeply. “Sometimes, I feel his body pressed against mine—his skin feels hot. Other times, I can feel silk and leather, like he’s fully clothed.” Her heart beats a little faster and her body tenses.

The glaze of lust coating his eyes becomes heavier—he has to keep himself from reaching out and touching the exposed skin of her neck. “Going back to your second relationship, did you do anything apart from reenacting your dreams?”

Her brows furrow as she sorts through her memories. “Honestly, he was much older so we didn’t have much in common.”

“You said he was fascinated by your…bones? That’s odd.” He adds the last part casually, but his tone indicates that he wants some clarification.

She relaxes—she’s more comfortable now that he’s shifted away from her dreams. “There are certain kinds of people who’re attracted to sickness, I think he was one of those. He said my bones made me look delicate—in reality, I was severely malnourished.” She shudders as she recalls the way he would run his fingers along her ribcage and count her ribs.

His lips thin into a grim line. “Were your dreams consistent during this time period?”

She nods. “Yes—I even told him about them.”

“Really?” He sounds surprised. “What was his reaction?”

A short laugh escapes her lips. “I think he was happy—he probably thought the dreams were about himself.”

“A narcissist, then?” he asks with a chuckle.

“You have no idea,” she quips. “That breakup was ridiculous!”

“Oh?” His voice is flat. “Do explain.”

“It wasn’t even that long a relationship,” she says, fresh anger clouding her voice. “He had the gall to pretend like he was affected so deeply—like I’d led him on to believe I’d marry him or something.”

He laughs at her outrage—a sudden roll of thunder makes the walls vibrate. “Did you?”

She has to stop herself from opening her eyes and glaring at him. “Of course not…but the whole drama was enough to turn me off relationships.”

“Fair enough,” he says with a malicious grin. “What happened next?”

Her frown deepens. “I don’t know, one day he was calling me and telling me how I’d ruined his happiness. And the next, he just disappeared from my life. I never heard from him again.” The sudden trickle of unease that’s accompanied her throughout the night remerges—the fire cackles on, roaring to new heights.

Leaning back languidly, he studies her with hooded eyes. A few beads of sweat form on her temples—he has to control the urge to trace them with the tip of his tongue. “You look fatigued, Sarah, I’d rather not continue if you’re not up to it.”

“The room feels hotter,” she says, her voice coming out slightly breathless. “I’m fine—go ahead please.”

He eyes her carefully for a few seconds. “Visualize this man, Sarah,” he commands softly. “Envision his voice, his touch, the feel of his body against yours…and then envision his face. Your mind seems to have blocked out his image, but it is somewhere in your imagination. All you have to do is extract it.”

Her face contorts as she contemplates his task. Visualize this man, Sarah—“I can’t,” she whispers, sudden fear churning her stomach uncontrollably. The thought of seeing this man sends a thrill up her spine, along with a large measure of dread.

The rich timbre of his voice fills the room as he laughs deeply. “Can’t, my dear, or won’t? It looks to me as if you are actively choosing not to address your problems—all of which seem to begin and end with this man from your imagination.”

Gritting her teeth, she retorts angrily, “I’ve spent the last eight years fighting this problem, Dr. Varg—it is definitely not something I’ve actively chosen.”

If her eyes were open, she’d see his lips curl into a sneer. He knows how to use her temper and valor to his advantage. “Substantiate your claims then, Sarah. Prove to me that you’re not a weak little girl who cannot face her fears.”

She takes in a sharp breath, her body now shaking with anger. “Fine,” she snaps before delving into the memory of her most recent dream—

--

“Sarah,” he whispers, cool lips trailing her neck, into the valley between her breasts. “I bet you’re already wet for me, aren’t you?” His voice mocks her as leather clad fingers brush her thighs.

Throwing her head back, she moans as his hot mouth closes over a nipple, suckling the nub until blood pools to the surface. His fingers drum along the skin on the insides of her thighs.

“Sarah,” he says harshly—somehow, she knows he’s looking into her eyes even though she cannot see him. “Answer me.”

“Y- yes,” she says, whimpering as a finger traces the pink ring of her entrance—teasing her flesh—inciting the need for penetration. Something tickles her skin—intuitively, she knows it’s his hair…blond hair? No, silver with hints of gold, like the sun on a pale, winter morning. “Jareth,” she whispers.

He places an open mouthed kiss on her throat.

“Jareth…”

His teeth graze her nipple, eliciting a sharp cry from her lips. “That’s it, precious thing, keep saying my name.” His fingers tickle her clit.

“Jareth,” she says in between moans.

He strokes her clit roughly. “Keep saying it, precious.”

“Jareth.”

--

“Jareth,” Sarah exclaims, sitting up—she flinches as her eyes adjust to the light emanating from the fire. Jumping up and down with excitement, she gapes at Dr. Varg, her jade eyes so wide that she looks wild. “Jareth!”

“Pardon me?” Dr. Varg asks with a raised brow, still resting languidly against the backrest of the armchair. He doesn’t move a muscle as he eyes her, as if he’s completely enthralled by her animated movements.

“I’ve never been able to remember his name before,” she babbles excitedly. “The man from my nightmares, his name is Jareth.”

An icy smile. “How ironic, Sarah. You see, Jareth happens to be my name as well.”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

An icy smile. “How ironic, Sarah. You see, Jareth happens to be my name as well.”

She stares at him, her jade eyes incredulous. “What?”

Tilting his head as he assesses her reaction, a smirk twisting his harsh lips. “My name happens to be Jareth as well.”

Exhaling deeply, she sits back down on the sofa. “A…a coincidence, I guess,” her voice comes out weak. The excitement she’d felt earlier dissipates as quickly as it had appeared.

“Sarah dear, look at me,” his rich voice is soothing, yet malicious. Smirk widening as she does as he asks, he continues, “I don’t mean to startle you, but I believe your mind absorbed my name from my identification card, and applied it to your nightmare man.” The gentle tone of his voice belies the look of cruel satisfaction on his face.

She looks up at him, wide eyed and confused, unable to think of an adequate reply. What he says sounds ridiculous…however, it is plausible, isn’t it? She wonders whether he can actually be correct, and the implications of that—sudden fear grips her stomach. What can she do if her own mind works against her? “Why would I do that?” she asks.

A thin smile. “Because, Sarah, you required a face for your fears, and you happened upon me.” He shrugs casually, “As to why me, specifically—I don’t quite know. That’s something we’ll have to analyze.”

His peculiar word choices only works to confuse her further. “I’ve happened upon many others before, Dr. Varg, why would my mind choose you?” For the first time since she’s gotten to her grandmother’s mansion, she scrutinizes him—his face, his clothes, his manner of carrying himself. He sits comfortably, his back well rested, and his head tilted at an angle that implies he is studying her every move. The harsh angles of his face create a look of haughty elegance—his bones are fine, yet the frame of his jawline is decidedly masculine. His gold tinged hair is the only thing that’s untidy about him…and even that looks like a hairstyle that takes hours to get just right. The feeling of déjà vu is so strong, it feels tangible.

“Sarah?” He asks, a trace of a sneer on his lips as he assesses the myriad of emotions that flit across her face.

She shakes her head, snapping herself out of her thoughts. “I’m sorry, I just…” she licks her lips, “…I got sidetracked….” The look he gives her makes her shudder with sudden fear—she takes in deep breaths as her heart starts thumping in her chest. For a split second, she sees Dr. Varg differently—almost as if he’s someone else. Instead of the modern, charcoal gray suit, he’s dressed in leather gear accented with silver. His blond hair turns silvery and wilder than ever, and gloves appear on his hands. The only constant is the frightening expression in his dual eyes. “Jesus,” she shrieks, scrubbing her eyes with her hands. “What the fuck is happening?”

“Sarah,” he says, his voice concerned, but not overtly so. “Sarah,” he says with more urgency when she does not reply—“Miss Williams, you must calm down.” All of a sudden, his mesmerizing voice is louder and more commanding.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she says between deep breaths, rocking herself as she tries and calms down. She looks up at him, a childlike fear in her eyes. “I’m beginning to get visual hallucinations as well.”

“Oh?” He asks, his tone succinct and pacifying at the same time. “Regarding me?”

She nods. “Yes”—her voice is a whisper.

“What did you see?”

Stomach roiling with fear and something else, she screws her eyes shut. “You were different,” she trembles, remembering her vision. “Your hair was silver and you were wearing a strange, leather outfit.”

A dark chuckle. “Leather?” He sounds a little too gleeful to sound professional. “Your imagination is quite audacious, isn’t it?”

His casual tone calms her down a bit, and helps enflame the embers of anger. “Audacious isn’t the word I’d use Dr. Varg,” she stresses ‘doctor.’ “And I still don’t know why my, so called, audacious imagination would choose you of all people.”

“We could try and find out by continuing our session.” His dual eyes search her face, drinking in her image almost hungrily. Her vulnerability makes his blood hot—he can feel his desire for this woman beating against his skin. Just as she’s about to respond positively, he holds up a hand to stop her—the game won’t be fun if she gives in so easily. “However, I am not entirely comfortable with the turn of events—I fear it would be unprofessional, on my part, to allow you to continue.”

Her jade eyes blaze to life. Unprofessional!? He’s got to be fucking kidding me, she thinks. “I think you crossed the unprofessional barrier a while ago, Dr. Varg,” she scoffs.

He barks a short laugh, amused with her sudden anger. “When was that, my dear?”

His piercing gaze makes her squirm a little, but she answers him in a steady voice. “Probably when you used the word cunt.” She only gets angrier as his smile widens—she’s not here for his amusement. “Or when you offered me a glass of wine while knowing that I’d taken three benzos.”

Sarah,” he draws out her name, his tone reproachful—a lazy smile lingers on his lips. “I am a psychiatrist, not a tyrant—I make it a point not to control my patients’ behavior. You chose to consume the wine, the responsibility lies solely with you.”

Her face feels hot as blood creeps up her cheeks—he does have a point. “I’m not holding you responsible for my actions,” she mumbles.

“That’s good to hear,” he drawls, his head cocked to the side. “I could speak to your regular doctor if you wish, give her my assessments.”

Her chest tightens as she feels a surge of distress. It seems as if he’s ready to palm her off to be someone else’s headache, and the thought saddens her immensely. It makes her feel as if he’s given up on her. “Dr. Varg, if I could make a request,” she begins, her voice wavers but she maintains eye contact.

A raised brow. “You may.”

“I would be grateful if you could disregard any professional boundaries you have, at the moment, and help me out. I feel like I am finally getting somewhere—and I’ve never felt like that with any other doctor.” She rushes through her words, her tone beseeching. “As…unorthodox as this session has been, I would really appreciate it if you continued.”

He feels a rush of desire as she pleads with him, her eyes lipid pools of jade. “Oh, Sarah,” he says with an exaggerated sigh. “I’m not sure I could cross such a boundary, especially not with you.”

Her brows furrow. “Why not?”

“In spite of your numerous claims of being a grown woman, I feel that you are a tad fragile.” His voice holds concern, but his unnerving eyes reflect a calculating gleam—he has studied this woman for years, he knows how to make her react. “My…techniques may prove, shall we say, extremely vigorous for someone with your delicate sensibilities.”

Her temper flares and she rolls her eyes. ‘Delicate sensibilities,’ who the fuck would even use such an outdated term? “I am not fragile, Dr. Varg,” she says, running her hands through her hair in irritation. “I’ve dealt with a shitload of problems since I was 15, and I doubt one session with you is going to cause any permanent harm. I’ll give you my insurance information, or I can pay you upfront if that’s what you want.”

A slow laugh. “No, darling Sarah” he lilts, “I do not want monetary compensation. I will, however, ask you to reconsider what you’re asking of me—evaluate your expectations of me, and make sure they are realistic.”

Frowning, she wonders what he means. There’s something familiar about his words…but she can’t quite place what. “I’m asking for the unusual session you promised me Dr. Varg, I’ll keep my expectations grounded.” She gives a carefree shrug, an almost engaging smile on her lips. “I swear I won’t exhaust you.” Her smile disappears as she hears herself speak—now, why would you say something like that, stupid girl?

He’s quiet for a few moments—the sound of the cackling fire is almost deafening. Just as she’s about to speak again, he looks at her with violent intensity. “Very well, then. But realize that I have certain conditions of my own, conditions that I haven’t put forth so far.”

Conditions? He’s making it sound as if she’s bargaining with him for something valuable. This man fills her with a sense of danger and strong curiosity—she can’t help but be drawn to exploring him. “Very well, then,” she says with a smile, mimicking his words on purpose. “What are they?”

He’s quick to respond this time. “That you do what I ask of you—if you are to stop, for any reason, then the session shall be discontinued and I shall never indulge your curiosity again.” The smirk on his lips turns harsh when he sees her eyes widen. “That is not to say you shouldn’t stop the session if you’re uncomfortable, my dear—by all means.” You should, remains unsaid. “And one more thing, I shall refer to you as Miss Williams—certain professional courtesies must be followed at all times when engaging in this kind of therapy.”

She grits her teeth, he’s explaining his terms as if she’s the dumb kid in class—“Look,” she says, her jade eyes ablaze with determination, “I get that your methods are unusual and untested, but I don’t care. I’m willing to try anything once.”

The gleam in his dual eyes is positively victorious—blood thrumming in his veins, he tries not to appear too excited. Silly girl—she still hasn’t realized how powerful her words can be. “Anything, Miss Williams?” He can’t help it as a wide smile stretches his lips, exposing just a tiny bit of his too-sharp teeth.

Pursing her lips, she nods her head, a trickle of unease creeping into her mind as he exposes his feral teeth. “Anything. Now do you want me to lie back down like earlier?” There’s a hint of impatience in her tone—like she wants to get on with it.

“No.” He eyes her for a few moments, smile deepening as her anticipation turns into anxiety. “I would prefer it if you looked at me from now on.”

Chewing on her lower lip as her anxiety resurfaces, she nods her head—something has changed…but what? “Okay,” she mumbles. “Go ahead.” She doesn’t mean for her words to come across as a challenge, but her tone cannot be helped.

“This time, I shall not be so tolerant of your inadequate answers, Miss Williams, so think carefully before you reply,” he says quietly.

“Just start already,” she retorts, keeping herself from snorting at his warning.

A dark smile. “Why, do you feel, is this nightmare man after you?”

This question catches her off guard—the truth is, she has never thought about why this man is after her. “I don’t know…”

“Therein lies the problem, my dear,” he says matter-of-factly. “You’ve dreamt up an all-powerful, seductive figure who seems to be solely focused on you—on pleasuring you. Yet you’ve never asked yourself why. What is so special about you?”

She parts her lips, wondering if he’s mocking her—his tone is almost biting, but his eyes seem sincere enough. What is so special about her, anyway? “Um…” she stutters, “…I don’t know.” Christ, she thinks, I am certainly beginning to sound like the dumb kid in class.

“Now, I don’t want you to be defensive, Miss Williams; I simply want you to consider the answer to that question.” Just like that, his tone is reassuring again—the biting edge blends into a mélange of encouragement and concern. “What makes you such an easy target?”

“I’m not a target,” she says automatically, her voice sharp. “Let alone an easy one.”

He represses a chuckle. “No, not at all,” his tone turns uncharacteristically gentle, like he is soothing a disgruntled child. “Not in the actual sense. However, you do seem to be targeting yourself with your own imagination, my dear. I believe it is imperative we figure out why…and I have a feeling that you already know, don’t you?”

She breathes in deeply, her thoughts running haywire. Dr. Varg speaks in riddles, as if he’s aiming to confuse her on purpose—but why would he do that? He was conducting a free session for her, which would most likely cost an enormous sum of money otherwise. She decides to give him the benefit of the doubt, and cooperate without confronting him. “Because he’s fascinated by me.” She cringes as the words leave her mouth, knowing that she sounds preposterous. “I know it sounds highly self-absorbed, but there’s something about me that he finds intriguing…”

“Is that all?” The doctor’s voice is cool and detached—there isn’t any judgment present.

Eyes widening, she shakes her head. “I get the feeling that he’s angry with me.” Angry is an understatement—she feels as if he is downright furious with her. That he wants to shake her hard until her bones rattle.

He raises a brow. “What makes you say that?”

“His words…his actions border on cruel,” she shivers as she recalls his whispers, lowering her eyes from Dr. Varg’s penetrating gaze.

“Elaborate.” If she were to look up, she would see his dual eyes gleam with an emotion akin to ravenous hunger.

Shuddering, she replies, “He revels in making me feel debauched…ashamed of my own desires.” Not noticing how his eyes have darkened, she continues, “I feel like he enjoys making me lose control of myself—like that day in the Econ lecture.”

“Has he any reason to be…angry with you?”

Slowly lifting up her eyes to meet his gaze, she feels blood creep up her cheeks as she contemplates an answer to his question. “He does…I’m sure he does. I don’t know what it is.”

“My poor darling girl,” he croons, a slightly malicious lilt to his tone. “You are one very, very confused young woman.”

Her breath hitches in her throat—she should feel rage upon hearing his patronizing words, shouldn’t she? But at the moment, she can’t feel anything but overwhelmed. “I was under the impression that you would help remedy that.”

He laughs a lazy, rumbling laugh—his eyes reflect the blazing fire that’s roaring away in the fireplace. “Of course. You’re not going to like what I have to say next,” he pauses and grins sharply. “I strongly feel that you harbor a specific kind of narcissism. There is absolutely no reason for such a powerful being to be, to use your words, fascinated with you, Miss Williams. After all, you are an ordinary girl—excuse me, ordinary woman, are you not?”

Once again, her confusion kills any anger caused by his words. She can’t help but feel that he is correct on some level—there is no reason for such an entity to be fascinated with her. “Dr. Varg, I don’t understand how telling me of my narcissistic tendencies is supposed to be helping me,” she says, her voice coming out more defensive than she would have liked.

He laughs again, his wolfish teeth flashing ominously. “You need to understand yourself first, Sarah. But leaving your narcissistic tendencies aside, let us discuss your interest in this man, hmm?”

My interest?” Her mouth runs dry at the thought.

Giving her a nonchalant shrug, he replies, “I believe you are quite obsessed with this creature from your imagination, and we need to analyze what draws you to him. Starting with your dreams, recall a specific dream for me, Miss Williams—one in which you can feel his anger and your shame.”

It’s on the tip of her tongue to say she doesn’t know, but she stops herself—she’s given that particular answer way too many times already. “There’s one scenario in which I’m running through some walled lane of sorts.”

“What exactly is a walled lane?” There’s a teasing edge to his question, like she has said something ridiculous.

She frowns—she’s not quite sure how to explain the setting of her nightmare. “It’s like a path with high walls, except it’s extremely narrow and twisted. I’m running away and he chases after me—I’m frantic while he is composed, like he knows he’s going to get me eventually, so why bother spending any energy.”

“What happens next?”

“He catches me and slowly removes my clothing, one article at a time, like he’s relishing my nakedness. He backs me against the wall and…” she can’t help but blush. “…pleasures me with his fingers and mouth—I come so hard that I’m sobbing as I beg him to take me.”

“So, you’re running away and he’s touching you against your will?”

“No,” she says quickly. “The second he catches me, I know I’m going to let him do whatever he wants. Nothing is against my will…he finds that hilarious.”

“Then I don’t understand what makes you conclude he is angry with you, Miss Williams,” Dr. Varg proffers with a deep sigh.

She looks away, eyes scanning the fire. “It’s what he says and his tone of voice—cruel and detached, like it means nothing to him. And his words…” she shudders. “I don’t recall everything, but he says I’m addicted to his touch—that I’d let him do anything he wants, including pleasure me in a room full of people…that it would make me wet. When he does finally take me, I am so sensitive that every caresses feels tenfold more intense…my nipples scrape against his leather jacket…and sometimes, that’s enough to make me come again.”

“Tell me, Miss Williams, do you say anything back at all?”

Parting her lips, she considers his question. “No, never.”

A sharp grin—“So not only are you not expected to reciprocate, but you’re also not expected to say anything, am I correct?”

She frowns—putting it like that, she sounds like some Victorian librarian with a twisted fantasy. “Yes.”

His grin turns feral as it stretches wide enough. “And you’re adamant that you’re not repressed.”

“Yes,” she says through gritted teeth. Not the stupid repressed thing again!

“What happens when you wake up?” He changes the subject expertly—not wishing to rile her up. Just yet.

“My sheets are soaked in sweat—my body feels hot to touch. Mostly, I just wake up desperately wishing he’s real and that he’ll…”

“Yes?” His dual eyes widen just a little. This is new information—information that can be used to his advantage.

Her cheeks turn blood-red, but she answers him. “That he’ll fuck me senseless. I’ve been teetering on the precipice of pleasure for so long, I just want to be pushed over once. Experience everything that I’ve only dreamed about.”

“Come now, Miss Williams. You’re not telling me that you haven’t had an orgasm in all your life, are you?” His voice flirts between teasing and disbelief.

“No—but none like that. The kind that makes your body boneless with pleasure…waves crashing, muscles clenching and releasing. Throat raw because you screamed and sobbed throughout…” her voice takes on a dreamlike quality.

A low whistle. “Those are some high expectations indeed,” he mocks. “They’d exhaust any man.”

-I’m exhausted of living up to your expectations of me-

Her head snaps up as she hears him whisper. Not now, she pleads silently, please go away. “Well, there you have it,” she says with false bravado. “What’s your diagnosis?”

Looking at her intently, he replies, “Allow me to mull over what you’ve said, my dear—I will share your diagnosis before sunrise.”

-You’re a silly creature aren’t you?-

-My poor, naïve little precious…-

“Miss Williams?”

-You’re so very easy to manipulate, you know that?-

“Miss Williams?!”

“Yes?” she asks, her voice breathless.

A deep sigh. “Miss Williams,” Dr. Varg says reproachfully, “I believe you should rest—this session has worn you out and I feel responsible for your current state.”

Shaking her head vehemently, she disagrees. “No, I need to go to the hospital if the roads clear up.”

A slow smile. “I’ll drive you there myself if the roads clear up. For now, I insist you sleep for some time.”

Massaging her temples with her fingers, she asks, “What time is it? It’s probably close to morning already.”

“It’s quarter to two.”

What? She sits up straight, her eyes wide. “Wasn’t it 1:15 the last time I checked?!”

A hint of amusement flashes through his eyes. “Yes, I believe it was.”

“You’re telling me that only 30 minutes has passed between then and now?” That’s impossible!

“Yes, Miss Williams,” he says with a slow chuckle. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you.”

She gapes at him, open mouthed. “The session…” she whispers, her voice soft and weak. “It felt so much longer…”

“Your fatigue is playing tricks on your mind, Miss Williams—I insist that you get some sleep.” He holds up a hand as she tries arguing, “Doctor’s orders, Miss Williams.”

Deciding that she’ll be of no use if she turns into a paranoid mess, she reluctantly agrees. “What will you do?”

A wide grin. “Oh, I’ll think of something, don’t worry about me.” He gestures to the archway that leads to the foyer—“Go on upstairs, Miss Williams. I shall wake you if the storm lets up or if I’m able to contact the hospital.”

--

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

--

He stares after her retreating form, eyes fixated on every step she takes—it’s almost as if he has to forcibly stop himself from following her into the foyer, up those decrepit stairs, and into the guest bedroom to the right. He knows which room she uses, courtesy the few conversations he’s had with her grandmother—the woman she fondly calls ‘nana.’

A sinister lopsided grin twists his lips and a cylindrical orb forms at the tip of his slim fingers, as he conjures up the old woman’s image as she lays in the hospital bed. Poor, poor nana, holding on for dear life with the aid of mortal machines. He wonders what to do with her…that perhaps he should keep her alive as the she could certainly be used as bargaining chip in the future.

With a quick flick of his wrist, he wills the crystal to show him Sarah’s image—eyes narrowing as he sees her collapse on the bed, seemingly drained of all energy. His grin disappears and his lips settle into a thin line of discontentment, as he realizes she’s too exhausted to be any fun at the moment. There’s no point in weaving her dreams if she is too fatigued to react.

Eyeing the brass clock that ticks away at the mantle, he lifts his fingers and lets the crystal drift way…

…just like that the ticking stops. He can afford to be generous and allow the girl some rest. That way, she’ll be more fun to play with, won’t she?

Sighing deeply as he contemplates the next few moves of his game, the Master of Time pours himself another glass of Merlot—the wine is really good. Sarah’s, rather unfortunate, nana did have excellent taste indeed.

He leans languidly against the backrest, closing his eyes as images from his dreams flash behind his closed eyelids. She lies on his bed, naked, bathed in sweat, begging him to let her come—jade eyes almost black with desire, long hair fanned out on the pillows, thighs slick with the evidence of her arousal. And then she’s pleading with him for something else entirely—she’s begging him to stop. His blood runs hot as he keeps himself from rushing to where she lies asleep. Too soon…he knows it is much too soon to act on his desires.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, he recites her name in his mind, as if it’s a compulsion he is powerless to stop—as much of a compulsion as his need to conjure up another crystal, just to look upon her sleeping face and drink up her image. His brows furrow into a frown as he studies her rather thin body—he hadn’t been lying when he’d told her that she was fragile. The monstrous oversized sweater that humans found ‘fashionable’ seems to engulf her frail form, and dark circles sweep under her eyes. He takes another sip of the ruby liquid, his frown deepening at the level of concern he feels.

The peach had casted its afflictions as it was meant to—he had always known exactly what would befall the dark haired mortal. He had always known how she’d wither away, unable to take in any nourishment from her world, until and unless he intervened. He supposes it is her own fault. He would have intervened a lot sooner if she hadn’t rendered him powerless. A sudden surge of rage blazes in his chest as he recalls how he couldn’t touch her when she’d first worn that damned crimson thread.

Yet…yet, he doesn’t like seeing her so fragile—he can’t bear it.

Shifting his gaze towards the fire, he listens to the slow crackling sound, placating himself. Never mind the damned crimson thread. He has her now, and he will never let her escape his wonderful game. Never again, Sarah, he thinks—the image in his crystal changes to that of Sarah as a child, trudging through his Labyrinth with her loyal band of cretins.

Perhaps, he thinks with a gleeful curl of his lips, perhaps I weave a different dream for my heroine—time to wake up, precious. With a flick of his wrist he sends the crystal sailing through the air, up the stairs and through the walls of the bedroom in which the young woman lies asleep.

--

She wears a flowing white shirt paired with a …vest? A hideous vest by the looks of it. And jeans that are a bit too out of style—she’s walking along a walled corridor, angry and frustrated.

She’s looking for something…but what?

“Allo.”

“Did you say…hello?” She sounds so young.

Another voice, “Oh, it’s you.”

A sharp bite and a cry of pain—“What’d you expect fairies to do?”

A group of mocking voices speak in unison, “Would you like us to let go?” They laugh as she clings on, terrified. “She chose down,” they cackle with maniacal laughter.

“Was that wrong?”

They laugh until her ears bleed. “Too late now.”

And then she feels the air rush out of her lungs, accompanied by a sensation of falling.

…and falling.

…and falling

…until her body hits the ground, hard.

Hard enough that she can feel the bones of her legs shatter—splintering into a thousand pieces. She sees herself lying at the bottom of a well-like pit, blood pooling behind her head. Her eyes are open, wide and her limbs are bent at disturbing angles. Sudden, mind-numbing pain consumes her body.

“Fuck!”

She sits up abruptly, her breasts heaving and her heart thumping in her chest, violent shudders run down her spine.  The candle she has brought up, stands on the nightstand, its flame almost dead as the wax has all but melted. Calm down, Williams, it was only a dream. Breathing deeply, she tries calming herself. The strange dream had felt so real, but also detached—like she was looking at herself through someone else’s eyes.

Just as she stops shuddering, she looks around the room, taking in her surroundings with a frown on her face. The wallpaper seems to be in shreds and she can see parts of the moldy, dark wood wall underneath. The carpets on the floor are threadbare and the blackened brass light fixtures are in dire need of polishing. The sense of guilt that she felt earlier comes rushing back—the house seems to be one step away from absolute ruin. She should have visited more often—how could she have allowed her grandmother to live like this?

Her feelings of guilt slowly morph into nervousness as she wonders what to make of the man downstairs—he is clearly very different from other doctors she has encountered. And then there’s the manner in which he speaks to her—with so much familiarity. The way he looks at her—as if he doesn’t want to miss a single movement she makes. The strangeness of his eyes—how they gleam with what looks like equal parts amusement and cruelty. She wonders if her imagination’s run wild or whether any of her perceptions about him are real.

Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Shivering, she stands on shaky legs, her mind still rife with thoughts of him. She’d never felt so free with any other doctor in the past…something about him had compelled her spill her darkest thoughts and fantasies. Blood creeps up her cheeks as she recalls how easily she shared the most intimate details regarding her life, as if she’d lost all inhibitions.

Grabbing the dying candle, she makes her way downstairs.

--

“Dr. Varg?” Sarah calls as she descends down the crumbling stairs. She makes sure to avoid all cracks—the once grand stair case creaks with every step she takes, as if it’s ready to collapse any second. “Where are you?”

She steps into the living room and looks around, only to find it empty. The fireplace is still ablaze and she’s once again astounded by how such a fire can exist without a functioning chimney. Shouldn’t it have died down by now? Where had Dr. Varg even gotten firewood in the first place? If anything, the fire burns even brighter than before—bathing the room with a muted incandescence that is as eerie as it is beautiful. She suddenly feels a sense of fear at the thought of being alone in this house.

“Dr. Varg?” she calls again, when she does not receive an answer. “Where are you?”

“In here.”

She shivers as she hears his lilting voice—“Where’s here?”

Deep, rumbling laughter reverberates against her ears.

“Dr. Varg, you’re being ridiculous,” she says with an annoyed hiss. She feels as if he gets a kick out of being deliberately puzzling.

“In the dining room, Miss Williams.” His deep voice is maliciously playful, as if he relishes every little victory.

Rolling her eyes, she walks toward the archway at the far end of the room that opens up to the formal dining area. The room has almost always remained unused as far as she can remember, even as she played in this house as a child—it was only used when ‘real guests’ came for supper.

The room itself isn’t too big—there’s a massive, twelve seater mahogany table in the center, surrounded by intricately carved, but otherwise simple chairs. A matching display cabinet stands against one wall, showcasing an impressive variety of silverware. The glass is dusty and stained, but she notes that the silverware has remained untarnished.

“Dr. Varg,” she breathes, more relaxed now that she knows he’s here. She looks at him as he stands at the head of the table, lighting candles. “I feel so rested, I hope I did not keep you waiting for long.”

A slow smile. “Not at all,” he says, flashing his wolfish teeth. “You could have taken all the time you needed. I wouldn’t have…denied…you the chance to rest. No nightmares then?”

“Just a short one, I don’t even remember most of it.” She pulls out a chair and sits adjacent to him—“why are there so many candles on the table?”

“Romantic, isn’t it?”

She raises her brows. “I guess.”

“The electricity is still off and I thought I’d make this room a little more bearable.” He pauses, scrutinizing her reaction to what he’s about to say next—“You have actually only been gone for 20 minutes, Sarah. Are you certain you’ve had enough rest for the time being?”

She gapes at him, her mouth falls open. “20 minutes?” she repeats, her voice trembling—she feels like she’s slept for hours and hours on ends—it couldn’t just have been 20 minutes! “Are you sure it’s been only 20 minutes?”

Of course I’m sure,” he croons, a silvery gleam to his eyes.

“But how is that possible? I felt like I was out for hours,” her voice is louder now, a hint of panic in her tone. She wonders if she is losing her mind. “And the power outage…” she lets the thought drift off, eyes widening as she stares into his dual gaze.  

A sharp smile. “What about the power outage?”

What about the power outage indeed. Not that she thinks he has anything to do with it, but it is strange the power’s been gone on for so long. “Nothing,” she states, keeping her thoughts to herself.  “What are you doing in the dining room?” she asks, her voice coming out weak as she changes the subject.

“I thought I could use some nourishment. Even though it’s only broth and bread, I prefer to dine in a proper setting.” He chuckles, as if it’s the most obvious answer to her rather silly question. “Would you care to join me, Miss Williams?” He doesn’t wait for her answer as he stalks towards the kitchen.

Biting her lower lip, she swallows the feeling of dread that’s brewing in her stomach. How could anyone move so…noiselessly? And where had he gotten so much damned broth? “Have you been cooking?”

He barks a laugh as he re-enters the dining room, a food tray in his hands. “Perhaps I have,” he says, eyes shining with vicious humor. “Or perhaps I used the microwave to heat up what was already in the refrigerator. What do you think is a more…reasonable answer?”

This time, she can clearly discern disdain in his voice and her temper flares. Arrogant bastard. “I have no fucking clue, Dr. Varg,” she says, emphasizing his name. “But I am sick of you entertaining yourself at my expense.”

“My, my, Miss Williams,” he states, with a playful smile that borders on being malicious. “Don’t tell me you have anger management problems in addition to everything else?”

Swallowing her anger, she smiles back grimly—she’s figured out that this is a test of some sort, and she’s not going to give in so easily. “Not in the past, but perhaps meeting you has fueled a new problem,” she quips.

Grinning widely, he places a bowl of broth in front of her, along with a piece of bread—which smells fresh for something that’s been refrigerated and then microwaved. Bowing his head in an exaggerated stance of humility, he asks, “So then, would you like to hear my diagnosis?”

This catches her attention, and curiosity replaces her burgeoning anger quite easily. “Of course.”

The grin on his face remains—his gaze turns intense. “I feel that your sense of self-importance is too great, Miss Williams.”

What?!” She can’t help but blurt as she seethes on the inside. That is what he comes up with after all the details she has given him?

“Do not get defensive, Miss Williams,” his voice is suddenly sharp. “You tell me that your life has been ordinary—that you did not grow up in a repressive household. Yet, you’ve created an enigmatic figure that seems to cater to your every sexual need.” His tone is biting, almost as if he’s ridiculing her. “You cannot think of a single reason, a single reason, Miss Williams, as to what makes you so special.” 

The steaming bowl of soup in front of her remains untouched as does the piece of bread. She turns towards him, her jade eyes burning with fire. “I told you, Dr. Varg, he’s angry about something. I don’t fucking know what! I don’t see what my so called sense of self-importance has anything to do with this.”

He sneers coldly at her sudden display of emotion. “Have you wronged him?”

“No,” she’s quick to answer—she doesn’t know how, but she does know, in her gut, that she hasn’t wronged him in any way. “Absolutely not. I’m not the one who’s wronged him. He-” she cuts her sentence short as a fleeting look of outright fury passes through his dual eyes. A look that makes her blood run cold. “Dr. Varg?”

Forcing himself to cool down, he smiles at her through gritted teeth. “I apologize if I frightened you Miss Williams. However, I am getting increasingly frustrated at the blatant denial you’re expressing.”

Blatant denial? It’s her turn to speak through gritted teeth, “Deep down—I feel as if he’s the one who wronged me, and now he’s angry.”

“Not exactly fair, is it?” There it is again, the disturbingly mocking tone.

“No, it isn’t.”

A short laugh. “But didn’t anyone tell you, Miss Williams, that life isn’t fair?”

She frowns—if he’s trying to fan the flames of her increasing rage, he’s succeeding remarkably well. “Are you having a philosophical conversation, or do you have a habit of using one too many platitudes?”

“What do you think?” He smirks when he sees her flush.

I think you’re a fucking bastard. “I think you’re trying to get on my nerves, Dr. Varg…what I’m trying to figure out is why.”

He chuckles darkly—she’s correct of course, smart little Sarah. “Have the broth before it gets cold.”

She stares at him head on, refusing to let him change the subject. “Why are you doing this?”

Flashing her a calculating gaze, he leisurely dips his spoon in the broth. “Educate me as to what exactly it is that you think I’m doing, Miss Williams.”

She follows his unhurried movements, eyes widening as he brings the spoon to his lips. “You’re…” her voice dies down as his eyes bore into hers—his body has the stillness of a predator waiting to pounce on its prey. She coughs—“You’re trying to confuse me, anger me…”

He raises a brow. “Once again, Miss Williams, you claim to be targeted. By me this time,” he pauses to smile at her, enjoying the look of turmoil in her eyes. “Yet you do not know the reason. Why would I try to confuse you, Sarah Williams?”

Her lips part open at the use of her full name—she doesn’t know quite how to respond to that, except with ‘I don’t know.’ But she knows such an answer will only instigate further ridicule. “What do you want from me, Dr. Varg?”

He laughs a rich, full throated laugh—his eyes gleam like shards of silicone, shining in black sand. “Finally, Sarah dear,” he croons, emphasizing her first name. “Finally, you’re asking the right questions.”

The fear that had remained dormant in the pit of her stomach, comes back to life. Her heart thuds against her ribcage—blood roars in her ears. Something is wrong. “What do you want from me, Jareth?” she asks again, her voice soft but unwavering. “Why are you tormenting me?”

The intensity of his gaze decreases, but his eyes are still fixed on hers. “Sarah,” his voice is so low, she can barely hear him. “That’s a question you will have to answer yourself. Why am I tormenting you?”

She stares at him silently for a few moments before her beating heart reaches a frenzied climax. She can see herself through his eyes—a cornered prey, panting as adrenaline takes over its body. “You’re a doctor, you’re not supposed to do this,” she all but whispers, looking at him with pleading eyes. “I’m having a panic attack…I can’t breathe.”

He only grins savagely, his jagged teeth gleaming white in the candlelight. “How dramatic,” he says with a curl to his lips. “Relax, sweet Sarah.”

And just like that, she feels her muscles relax and her heartbeat slow down—almost as if he willed it. But how can such a thing be possible? A flash of red and white catches her eye, and she sees an upturned king of hearts next to her bowl of soup. Wondering if she’s losing her mind for the second time in the last few minutes, she looks at him and gasps with equal parts fear and incredulity.

His teeth are sharper…somehow more elongated. His eyes reflect light, much like that of a cat’s—in the darkened room, they seem to glow with a silvery light.  

“Your eyes…and your teeth,” she whispers, her hands grasp the edge of the table tightly, until her knuckles turn white.

Running his tongue against the sharp edges of his teeth, he gives her another frightening grin. “What about my eyes and teeth, Sa-rah?”

She gulps. “Am I hallucinating?”

He clicks his tongue and snaps his fingers. “To answer your question truthfully, no, you are not.”

Her stomach roils with horror and she swallows the urge to throw up. “Who are you?”

Raising a brow, he is amused that she has finally started choosing her words correctly—but alas, she’s not specific. “As I am?” he asks rhetorically. “I am Dr. Varg, of course. You did see my identification card, did you not?” He brings a spoonful of broth to his lips and breaks a piece of bread.

‘As I am?’ What does that fucking mean?! She feels so helpless that she wants to scream. “Who are you, really?”

A slow, rumbling laugh. “Since you asked so politely…” he drawls, his voice drifting off. Staring at her intently, he conjures up a crystal in his hand and throws it in the air.

She gapes, unable to move, as he changes right before her eyes. Her mouth opens wide, as if she wants to scream—but her voice dies in her throat. How is any of this possible?

His hair turns silver and his skin inhumanly white. Instead of the charcoal gray suit, he wears black leather pants with matching boots, and a jacket that looks like it is made of beaten silver. “Why so serious?” Even his voice has changed—it has somehow become deeper and more lilting, almost like he’s singing a sinister melody. “Do you not approve my look, Sarah?”

She stands up abruptly, her chair making a loud, jarring noise as it drags across the hardwood floor. Without a second thought, she bolts out of the room and runs for the front door…

…only to find Jareth standing there, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. “Sarah,” he chides, his voice is gentle but the look in his eyes is sharp enough to cut through glass. “You’re no match for me.”

Breathe, she reminds herself, just breathe. “Let me go and I won’t press any charges,” she gestures wildly with her hands, her voice clearly desperate.

He raises an amused brow. “Charges?”

“Legal charges. I am hallucinating—you put something in the broth you gave me earlier. Just let me go and I’ll forget I ever met you.” Her words come out in a mumbled rush—her eyes are as wide as saucers and her chest heaves uncontrollably.

“Allow me to humor you, Sarah,” he says, not moving a muscle. “What are the consequences of these legal charges?”

“You’d…” she whispers, unsure if her words will provoke him to do something violent. “You’d lose your medical license.”

Throwing back his head, he laughs heartily—his silvery strands shake, as if there’s a sudden breeze that only he can feel. “How unfortunately human of you, my dear, to latch onto your…mundane reality. I don’t exactly possess a medical license.”

“I…I don’t understand-”

Cutting her off with a hand gesture, his eyes bore into hers for a few heartbeats. “I have shown you who I am, just like you asked me.” He eyes her almost cheerily—he has anticipated this moment for a long time. “You, precious Sarah, have something of mine that I wish to take back.”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

 “You, precious Sarah, have something of mine that I wish to take back.”

He barks a harsh laugh as her eyes dart around the foyer, looking for an escape path. “Come now, precious, you and I have been companions for so long. Must you run from me?”

She has to try twice before she finds her voice, “I don’t know what you’re talking about; I’ve never met you before.”

Sighing harshly as he sees her quiver with uncontrolled fear, he gives her a mocking bow. “If you must run, I will not stop you.” Saying that, he opens the front door and gives her a chilling smile. “But I will warn you beforehand that you have nowhere to run.”

She doesn’t need to be told twice—without giving any thought to his warning, she jumps with all the strength she can gather and dashes out of the open door. Her body trembles as she hears his mocking laughter follow her outside into the cold, dark abyss.

--

With a shark like grin on his face, he watches intently as she scrambles away in blind panic. Poor, unfortunate little Sarah, she has nowhere to run. Conjuring up a glass of warm, honey mead, he takes a sip, marveling the bittersweet taste—as delectable as the wine had been, he much prefers his own liquor to that of humans.

He glances amusedly at the brass clock that sits on the mantle—without so much as a gesture of his hands, the second arm stops clicking, just as it had earlier. He is the master of time after all, he can be forgo his characteristic cruelty and allow her all the time she needs, just this once, can’t he? In any case, he can always play the predator at a later time, for now he’s content to allow his prey to wear herself out.

There will always be time for that particular chase later, he thinks, his grin now running from ear to ear.

--

By the time she returns, she can barely stand. Her wind-beaten body trembles violently as she drags herself into the living area, only to find him sitting there, perfectly composed—waiting for her with a wry twist to his lips.

As he expected, her teeth chatter and violent shivers run down her spine. Her body, as thin as it is, simply doesn’t have enough body fat to withstand the cold. Her fingernails are blue, and her lips are so chapped that they’re bleeding.

“The prodigal heroine returns,” he says, the teasing lilt in his voice plainly evident. His eyes rake over her form and his smile deepens. There’s something perverse in the way he feels—he cannot deny it—but seeing her so beaten down excites him.

She makes her way to the fire, relishing the feeling of warmth—she’s spent an hour or so trying to search for help. And after encountering nothing but biting cold wind and mist, she’s spent another hour returning back to the mansion, knowing that she may very well die of hypothermia if she stays out longer. She hadn’t been able to find her car, which she could have sworn she parked right outside the front door. Studying him intently, she wonders if he moved it when she had been resting.

“Jareth,” she says, her voice comes out steady while her body trembles still.

Raising an amused brow, he is pleased to note a flash of fire in her jade eyes. Perhaps his heroine is not so broken after all—a different kind of thrill runs up his spine at the thought. “Sarah?”

The fire in her eyes burns brighter. “It was you,” she says in a voice that threatens to break any moment—that’s all she says as she stares him down with an anger so intense, her eyes look like glowing shards of emeralds.

He takes a slow sip of mead, seemingly unperturbed by her growing anger. “Pardon?”

“Those dreams, those hallucinations, those fucking nightmares. All of it was your doing!”

“Was it?” he asks, rumbling out a derisive laugh. “And why would I have done that, precious?” His tone holds contemptuous glee, but his eyes are sharp and searching. There’s a gleam of longing in them, a deep and desperate desire that she cannot quite place. The predatory stillness in his posture returns, as if he’s waiting for her to grasp something…

…but she’s too far lost in her own emotions to notice. “I don’t care about why you’re fucking with me. I want you to stop.”

“Hmm,” he hums, his voice jaded—he leans back, his head resting languidly against the backrest, and shuts his eyes. “Once again, you’re not asking the right questions, Sarah.”

Taking this as her cue to move, she darts across the room to the sofa where she had ‘reclined’ for her session, and grabs the now torn crimson thread. A gleam catches her eye and she notices his ruby hilted dagger—she grasps it instinctively and turns around to face him.

As he opens his eyes, he finds her by the sofa, gripping her torn red bracelet in one hand and his dagger in the other. There’s a wild madness in her eyes, it’s a look that makes his blood roar with desire. “How brave of you, precious—that you think you can use my own dagger against me,” he mocks scornfully, not making a move to stand up from his seated position.

“What the fuck do you want?” Her breath comes out in short spurts as she holds out the blade, her hands shaky but her stance firm.

He only laughs at her display of aggression, his deep voice thunders against the crumbling walls. “I already told you, dear girl, or should I say, grown woman, I only wish to take back something of mine that you have stolen.” There’s that sense of longing in his unnerving eyes again, like he’s waiting for her to comprehend something of profound importance.

“Listen to me, asshole, I’ve never met you before,” she grits out. “What could I have possibly stolen from you?” She’s shouting now, as rage overtakes her fear of him. She doesn’t know how he sent her those dreams and hallucinations, but she comes to the sudden realization that she’s not inherently delusional. That all those years of suffering through panic attacks, visiting various psychiatrists, taking countless medications were unnecessary. That it was his fault her life had been hellish.

Smirking at her growing anger, he drawls, “That’s where you’re wrong, precious. We’ve met once before, a long time ago.” He eyes her with quiet intensity. “How long ago do you think?”

Opening and closing her mouth with anger and confusion, she analyzes his question. How long ago? She gasps with sudden comprehension. “Something happened around my fifteenth birthday.” Something she doesn’t remember.

A sharp grin. “Smart girl,” he murmurs—not saying anything else. As if he’s waiting for her to make the next move.

“What did you do, hypnotize me?” Once again, she wonders just how he’s been able to make her hallucinate so vividly—hypnosis is the only logical conclusion she can draw.

Rich, deep laughter reverberates around the room, followed by an exaggerated sigh. “Here I just called you smart.”

“Then how is any of this possible?”  

Raising a sardonic brow, he decides to tell her the truth, hoping she doesn’t delve into fits of hysteria upon learning it. “Magic, mortal child.”

Is he fucking serious? It’s her turn to bark with harsh, derisive laughter. “Give me a fucking break,” she sneers. “How stupid do you think-” she shrieks in surprise as she feels herself get pushed onto the sofa by some invisible force.

“Sit down, won’t you?” he taunts. “Hmm…you don’t look very comfortable, Sarah dear—do take off your boots and lie down on the sofa.” There’s a trace of hostility in his voice and actions—he knows he’s using more magic, more force than necessary, but years of accumulated anger and bitterness is difficult for him to overcome.

To her horror, she does exactly as he asks—the invisible force becoming stronger with every command. Her hands still grip the dagger and bracelet, but she cannot move her arms and she screams with all her might.

His gaze turns harsh—there’s no compassion in the stern angles of his face. “Stop screaming.”

And just like that, her voice dies out. Her lips part in a silent gesture of the trepidation she feels inside. But even so, she fights for composure as she tries to keep her breathing even. This is hypnosis—it has to be!

“As I said, sweet Sarah. Magic.”

She looks at him incredulously—if she had her voice, she would have told him to stop being ridiculous. But…is he? He changed his appearance in a flash, he seems to have rendered her immobile, and he’s produced some very realistic hallucinations and delusions. But magic? No, she concludes, there’s no such thing.

Eyes glittering with malicious delight, he laughs again—a sinister sound. “Poor little precious,” he croons. “I can see the wheels turn in your pretty head. Everything’s so confusing, isn’t it?”

He’s suddenly close, close enough that she can feel his breath rasp against her brow as he leans into her. She can discern the merciless gleam of satisfaction in his eyes as he relishes the look of terror in hers.

“I’m going to release my hold on you, Sa-rah,” he says, drawing out her name leisurely. “But do keep in mind that I will restrain you again, should your behavior warrant it.” He allows his words to sink in before continuing—“I suppose you’ve already learnt that running is futile, there’s nothing outside but the black mists of between.”

What the fuck is the black mists of between? He’s crazy, she thinks—he’s absolutely nuts. “This isn’t real,” she says, relieved to have her voice back. “You’re insane if you think I believe you. You must have hypnotized me like David Copperfield or-”

“Silence,” he interrupts her, this time his voice is deadly calm. “That you compare me to a mortal hypnotist should make me punish you dearly…but I will not. Consider yourself fortunate that I feel so generous tonight.”

The calmness of his voices only seeks to fuel her horror. He couldn’t’ be telling the truth…could he? “But there’s no such thing as-”

With a snap of his leather clad fingers, he renders her speechless again and she gasps silently. “Magic?” he asks mockingly. “Oh, but there is, my darling.”

Ohmygod, ohmygod…what-in-the-actual-fuck, she screams internally as she considers that he is indeed telling the truth. The debilitating horror she feels at the thought that he may actually possess magic frightens her far more than the hypnosis theory she’d deducted earlier.

He gives her an evaluating glance. “I shall return your voice, Sarah, provided you do not scream. Do I have your compliance?”

She nods—by some miracle, she’s able to slow down her heartrate and control the panic bubbling inside her chest. “If you are telling the truth,” she begins hesitantly, “I still don’t understand what I could possibly have stolen from you?”

He flashes her a smile could almost be considered self-deprecating. “I want you to remember, Sarah. Search your memories.”

Please,” she implores, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I’ll return anything I can, I promise.” Her breath catches in her throat as he leans down again. “Please stop this,” she whispers, the incapacitating terror she feels is palpable in her voice.

Vanishing his gloves into the ether, he runs his bare fingers through her lustrous, sable locks. “You’ll return much, much more, Sarah.”

She suppresses a scream. Is he serious? Her chest rises and falls as his fingers caress the line of her throat, along her collar bone, and she can’t help but feel a rush of desire. As her fear reaches insurmountable heights, so does her anger—all the depravity she’d experienced, all the self-loathing, everything was his fault.

“I was fifteen when I had to be homeschooled,” she says through gritted teeth. “I was so fucking young when you started…” she swallows, feeling nauseous as her stomach roils with revulsion.

He runs his fingers through her hair again, slower this time. “You were saying?” he murmurs. “When I what?”

“When you started touching me,” she says, unable to keep the disgust out of her voice. “You made me feel…” she can’t quite complete her thought.

“Yes, depraved,” he finishes for her, “I believe we had this conversation earlier tonight. However, I waited for you to…catch up, did I not?”

“Sixteen,” she spits out, her teeth still gritted tightly. The haunting memory flashes in her mind like a movie she’s unable to stop.

--

The caresses had been gentle mostly, sometimes teasing—a tug of hair, a pinch on her arm, a caress of her cheeks…but this, he is different this night. Although she is fully clothed in her pajamas, she feels his fingers glide over her flesh, as if she is naked

Soft, warm fingers trail up her arms, up her neck, gathering at her collar bones and they trace her breasts ever so lightly—until they circle her areola, outlining her nipples until they hardened into little pebbles.

“Do you like this precious?” she hears him whisper, but she only whimpers in return as his fingers keep circling her nipples, refusing to grant her the release she needs “Do you?”

“Yes,” she whispers—she doesn’t care that she’s talking to someone who isn’t even there, just that she needs release.

“Good girl,” his fingers tweak her nipples and he laughs when she gasps loudly. “How about if I do this?” He pinches her nipples, hard.

Writhing in pleasure and pain, she moans, unable to stop herself as her hips gyrate into the air—she feels him then, his hard body pressed against hers, providing the pressure she needs.

His fingers trail across the sensitive flesh of her stomach and she sucks in a deep breath. Not only is she ticklish, but also painfully aroused. The throbbing in between her thighs turns into an agonizing need. “You like this, don’t you, precious?” his fingers now trail her lower abdomen, he sounds delighted. “Moan louder and I’ll continue.”

To her shame, she does—her moans grow louder with each caress. She is dripping wet enough to know she’ll have to throw in her pajamas in the wash.

“Shhhh, precious,” he murmurs. “Not so loud, what will your father think?”

She feels a combination of horror and disgust at the thought, but neither emotion is strong enough to override the burning lust he ignites within her.

He spreads her legs and strokes the soaking skin of her inner thighs. “Passionate little creature, aren’t you?”

She makes soft keening noises as he spreads her folds and strokes her, in a slow but persistent rhythm. She needs him to be quicker—she tries grinding herself on his fingers, but he pushes down on her hips with his other hand, laughing as she struggles against him.

She feels like she’s ready to explode, like she’s going to spontaneously combust any second. The pleasure is nothing like she’s ever experienced with her own hands…and it builds and builds—she can’t help but release an agonizing moan, her head thrown back onto her pillows. At this point, she doesn’t care that her father and his wife are two doors down. That her two year old brother is across the hall. “Please,” she begs, “faster.”

“What, do you suppose, will happen if I continue, precious?” he says with a wicked laugh, his speed staying exactly the same. “Let’s find out, shall we?” He slips two fingers within her and pumps.

She has the most violently satisfying orgasm of her short life, her muscles clenching and releasing as she lays helpless in a euphoric haze. Making a series of low, throaty moans before biting her lips, she throws her head back onto her pillow as her body convulses with waves of overwhelming pleasure.

--

Snapping out of her memories, she shudders as a wave of sickening desire sweeps through her. “I was sixteen,” she repeats, more to herself than to him. Conflicting emotions of attraction and repulsion blossom in her chest as she looks into his glittering eyes. “You sick bastard, I was sixteen.”

A slow, rumbling laugh. “Come now, precious. Sixteen is hardly a child—and I do believe I had your consent every step of the way.”

Her cheeks flame up with part humiliation and part fury. “I’m not a child anymore. What do you want from me?”

“What do I want…from you,” he repeats, his heated gaze raking over her form suggestively. “Have you forgotten something in all of this, Sarah dear…or should I say, someone?”

It only takes a few seconds until realization dawns in her eyes and she clasps her hands to her mouth. “Nana,” she whispers. “What did you do with her?”

I?” he asks with a vicious but cheery look. “Nothing at all. This is a very old house, isn’t it? I believe she managed to fall down the stairs all by herself.”

Fire blazes through her veins. “If you’ve done anything to her, I swear-”

“You’ll what?” he asks with a tilt of his head, his voice sounding mildly entertained.

Her hands instinctively grip his dagger. “I’ll do everything in my power to make you regret it.”

A harsh sigh. “Still the heroine, I see,” bitterness returns to his voice in full force. “Everything in your power? Silly Sarah, you’ve realized by now, especially considering the predicament you’re in, that you have no power over me?”

Those words ignite a flurry of emotions in her chest—there’s something niggling the back of her mind, something just beneath the surface. She keeps her gaze hooked onto his, her eyes raging brilliantly.

“How is your brother…Tobias? That is his name if I’m not mistaken.” His tone drips with smugness, he knows he isn’t mistaken, and his words are only meant to mock.

She trembles—if he’s somehow managed to hurt her grandmother, who knows what he’d do to the rest of her family. Using all the techniques she’s learned from her many therapy sessions, she’s able to keep her breathing calm. “What do you want?” she asks again—if she must negotiate with a madman, whether he’s a hypnotist or a magical being, she must know what’s on the negotiating table.

He bares his teeth in a savage grin. “I see we’re finally beginning to understand each other,” he declares with an air of imperiousness. “Your grandmother holds onto her life and I, generously, am willing to heal her if you do one little thing for me, my sweet. Agree to return that which you’ve taken from me.”

“I’m not an idiot,” she scoffs. “I’m not willing to make any bargains until I know what’s going on. What have I taken from you?”

An appraising glance, “Smart girl.” That’s all he says as he studies her with his piercing gaze—he waits for her to make the next move.

Frowning, she wonders what he could possibly want. Sex? Too easy—he’d have taken that by now, instead of going through the charade of having a therapy session. Her? Also too easy—if he is some powerful, magical being, he could have taken her easily…couldn’t he?

Her frown deepens as she ponders over the thought—what if he can’t? Something else occurs to her then—why had he waited for her in this house, when he could have easily shown up at her apartment?

“You can’t force me to do anything, can you?” she asks, her voice soft and her eyes searching. “Or you would have by now.”

The stark lines of his face stretch severely as his eyes turn bitterly cold. “Are you sure about that?”

“You couldn’t come to my place, which is why you came here,” she ignores his question. “But you’re still unable to force me to give you what you want.” Suddenly, she remembers what he’d said earlier and repeats it for reasons she doesn’t quite know herself—“You have no power over me.”

In a movement too quick for her to follow, he pounces on her, pushing her back onto the sofa—his knees straddling her hips as he stares down at her with a frighteningly voracious expression on his face.

“Wrong choice of words, precious,” he whispers harshly before lowering his mouth onto hers in a violently punishing kiss.

Her reflexes come to life automatically—just as he presses his lips to hers, his jagged teeth biting her lower lip sharply, she thrusts the ruby studded dagger, his dagger, into his chest. Her mouth opens, as if she’s going to scream, but her voice is, once again, nonexistent, and she finds herself unable to move.

He just stares at her for a few moments, his dual eyes completely black and silver, his knees still straddling her hips. “That wasn’t very nice on your part, Sa-rah,” his voice is deceiving in its softness. A trickle of colorless, shimmery liquid falls from his wound, which he dabs with his fingers. Leaning slowly into her, until his nose brushes hers, he gently dabs the liquid onto her lips before inserting his fingers into her mouth.

--

 

 

Chapter Text

Leaning slowly into her, until his nose brushes hers, he gently dabs the liquid onto her lips before inserting his fingers into her mouth.

Her lips part automatically as he dabs the fluid onto her mouth. She flicks her tongue, touching his naked fingers, savoring the taste of the strange, viscous fluid. It’s spicy and sweet at the same time, and something else entirely—something she’s never tasted before.

The liquid makes her tongue tingle and she experiences a warm feeling of utter bliss engulf her form. She feels her muscles loosen, as if the tension she’s felt until this moment is abruptly gone. At the same time, her nerve endings feel like they’re on fire as they zap frenetic electrical impulses, her body buzzing incongruously to life as her muscles weaken. Her breathing deepens as her pulse races, energizing her. Feeling peculiarly dizzy, she closes her eyes, trying to keep herself from passing out.

Breathe, Williams, breathe, she instructs herself as she slowly counts to twenty—a trick she’s learned from one of her many CBT sessions. She moans—the feeling of bliss morphing into euphoria as she experiences pleasure like she’s never experienced before. She feels weightless, as if her body is floating on thin air.

When she opens her eyes, she notices that he still straddles her, his hands now grip her upper arms. Eyes gleaming with cold-blooded triumph, his lips twitch upwards, as if he’s keeping himself from bursting into laughter. Strangely enough, he seems happy that she’s stabbed him.

“What was that?” she asks, struggling to keep her breathing even. She opens her mouth to ask another question as a fresh rush of dizziness blurs her vision and black dots swarm in front of her eyes.

A slow smirk. “Here I thought you were going to make things difficult for me, precious…though perhaps difficult isn’t the correct term.”

The hell is he talking about? She tries concentrating as he speaks, but she finds that she is far too lightheaded at the moment to do so. It is suddenly unbearably hot and her clothes feel extremely restrictive. Her nipples strain against the fabric of her bra, grazing the rough edge every time she takes a breath—the tease is torturous.

“I feel,” she begins, but cannot complete the sentence—her voice is slow and her vowels elongated, as if she’s consumed copious amounts of alcohol and lost all coherence.

“Yes,” he lilts, chuckling darkly, his voice colored with fiendish glee. “You feel?”

“What did you do to me?” Her breathing is rough and labored, and her heart beats against her ribcage in a frantic rhythm, she can feel every major pulse in her body racing. Her muscles are fatigued enough that she’s unable to move, but it’s not because he’s using his magic to forcefully hold her. This feels…different.

Searing hot lust flows through his veins as he watches her reaction to his essence. Blood rushes to his groin as he hears her moan and gasp. He takes the opportunity to settle firmly against her, his desire making him hard—ready for her. “Your senses are heightened, precious. The awareness will pass once your body has absorbed my blood.”

That shimmery liquid is his blood? The thought makes her feel nauseous. “I feel sick,” she says, trying to lift herself up to a sitting position in vain. Her muscles remain non-functional, as if she’s taken an entire bottle of Xanax.

“As I said, your heightened awareness will pass,” he declares, reveling the look of sickness in her face. “Isn’t it ironic, my darling, that you carry a part of me within you?” His voice takes on that haunting quality again, but his mind and heart both rage at woman before him. How dare she forget him so easily? His blood should have released her memories.

Crying out in pain as she feels his grip tighten, she struggles, in vain, to wriggle out of his grasp. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but please…tell me what you want me to return and I’ll do it.” Her stomach gives a violent lurch as her vision gets even more distorted. She tries focusing her eyes but the objects in the room seem to blend together—there are no boundaries.

He doesn’t quite look at her, his dual eyes lost in deep thought as he releases her arms and runs his fingers down her face, treasuring the look of clouded desire in her unfocused eyes. “Within you,” he repeats, his voice distant as if he’s somewhere else, but still captivated by her. “I would do anything for you, precious—even move the stars,” he states self-deprecatingly, his words coming out harsh and humorless, before leaning into her and catching her lips with his in a deliberately slow kiss.

Her heightened senses go into overdrive as her nipples how peak against her bra, fully erect. Deep, throbbing pain pulses between her legs as moisture pools in her core. She gives out a low, delicious moan as his tongue parts her lips and enters her mouth, stroking every inch he can, as if he’s savoring each sensation. She notices that his breathing has turned heavy as well, as he drags his lips down her neck, to the pulse that’s beating wildly at the base of her neck.

“Why me?” she asks, yelping as he nips the sensitive skin there, and sucks.

Why me?

That one simple question is all it takes for him to snap out of his lust driven haze. Forcefully pulling himself away from her, he places his hands around her delicate neck. An animalistic growl escapes his chest—all it would take is a little bit of pressure for him to choke the fragile mortal life out of her. A sadistic grin twists his lips as he considers how her life would slowly drain out of her jade eyes, darkening little by little until they turned completely vacant. There’s a part of him that’ll always relish such an absolute victory; nevertheless, he knows he would never actually do that. He couldn’t.

“Why indeed, precious,” he croons. The look of unreserved fury in his eyes contradicts his melodic voice, thick with longing. He exerts just a little more pressure around her neck, smiling as he feels her pulse beat even faster.

Her eyes widen and her lips part in shock. He wouldn’t kill her, would he? “I don’t understand any of this, Jareth,” she says slowly, making sure her voice doesn’t waver as she says his name. Predators smelled fear, didn’t they? She knows it’s in her best interest to appear as unaffected as possible—but she can’t quite hide the look of confusion in her eyes.

Eyes half shut, he breathes in her scent and trembles, she smells of vanilla and lavender. His grin turns bitter as he studies her bewildered face. She doesn’t seem to remember anything at all—and, for the first time, he wonders if she ever will. The thought creates an unwavering ripple of rage within his chest. “Love…my sweet,” he says, his voice deceivingly mild. “I love you.”

To say she’s shocked is an understatement. What the fuck? He’s insane, her mind screams at her, he’s a raging fucking lunatic. It’s on the tip of her tongue to ask him if he’s lost his mind, or whether he even knows the true meaning of love, until she catches the predatory gleam in his eyes. That’s when she realizes that he’s expecting a confrontational reaction from her—she needs to change her tactic.

“Why me?” she repeats her question, taking care to keep her tone as neutral as possible, she doesn’t want the question to come across as a challenge.

Caressing the wild pulse at the base of her neck with one of his thumbs, breathing heavily to keep himself in check. She is human, after all—he doesn’t want to damage her…not at the moment, anyway. “My emotions are irrelevant, precious,” he says with a tilt of his head, eyes calculating her every move, every emotion that flickers in her jade eyes. “Let us return to the matter at hand—don’t you want your grandmother to heal?” Saying that, he relaxes his hold around her neck and the threat of violence dissipates for the moment. “All it will require is one little word from you.”

Relief floods her senses, creating a different rush of dizziness as his grip relaxes. Looks like he isn’t going to kill her just yet. “How did you get into her house?” she inquires, changing the subject—hoping he actually answers her for a change.

An exaggerated sigh. “Does it matter?”

“You couldn’t come directly to me, or you would have. How were you able to get through to her?”

Giving her an appraising glance, he answers, “I had a few sessions with her. Though, I suppose, Dr. Varg did.” He pauses, letting out a derisive scoff, “She came to me to…shall we say…help evaluate her deteriorating mental capacity. I don’t quite believe the old woman knew what she was saying, but she surrendered her domain…” he indicates the house with a sweeping gesture of his hands, “…to me. Quite easily.”

She bites her lower, hard enough that she feels the tangy taste of copper infiltrate her mouth. The bastard was utterly deplorable. He showed no signs of remorse for having taken advantage of an old woman suffering from dementia. “Did you do something to her?” Hearing the commanding tone behind her voice, she cringes, knowing he won’t take it well.

“No, sweet Sarah,” there’s a smile behind his words, no signs of anger in his voice. “However, I was present in this charming house, when your nana,” he says the word almost insultingly, “fell.” In a swift movement, one of his hands creeps under her sweater, his long fingers play with the waistband of her jeans—eliciting a shiver. “Still ticklish, I see.”

The frantic pulsing between her legs returns and she feels wetness seep into her panties—the tiny, scrap of cotton clings to her heated flesh. She gasps as he trails his fingers across the sensitive flesh of her torso. How is it possible for her muscles to be so languid while her body pulses with need? Stomach heaving with revulsion, she’s infuriated at her body’s reaction to him. “You better fucking tell me what you’ve done to her,” she emphasizes each word as she asks him again, through gritted teeth.

Satisfied with the sudden eruption of rage in her eyes, he decides to humor her with a non-circuitous response. “As per the old woman’s invite, I came over for tea, whence she spoke, rather lengthily, about her beautiful granddaughter.” He cocks his head, as if he’s evaluating her. His dual gaze turns intense and his eyes reflect the orange flame of the fire. “A little disturbed, she said, but that Sarah’s beauty more than made up for her specific set of problems…” he voice drifts off as his fingers caress the flesh above her navel, eliciting another shiver from her. “That beautiful, mad Sarah hadn’t visited for a while—that perhaps she’d been…forgotten. That’s when she decided to retrieve a photo album from your room upstairs, to show me your picture.”

“Did you have anything to do with her fall?”

His eyes widen with mock innocence. “I?” The teasing lilt returns to his voice. “Nothing, my sweet. I merely told her that when her beautiful granddaughter returned to this house, I would make sure to carry her to the underworld—with me. Of course, that’s when the old woman unfortunately lost her balance...”

Sucking in a deep breath as her heartrate skyrockets, she can’t help but feel debilitating fear as she hears his words. What is he, Hades now? Where the fuck did the underworld factor into all of this? “Is that what you want in exchange for healing her?” she asks softly. “To carry me to…wherever?”

Looking at her silently for a few moments, his eyes glittering darkly with cruel humor, he smiles. “No, precious. That which you’ve stolen from me will suffice.”

If her muscles were functional, she would have grabbed onto his shoulders and shaken him in exasperation. Realizing that the bastard is never going to tell her exactly what he wants until she agrees to it first, she decides to implement a different strategy. “Nana’s old enough that she doesn’t have too much time left—she wouldn’t want me to sacrifice myself to extend her life for a few more years.”

Eyeing her with an expression akin to admiration, he laughs heartily, his head thrown back and his silvery mane dancing in an invisible wind. “I wouldn’t have expected an ethically utilitarian argument from you, sweet. How you surprise me at every turn…” His eyes sharpen. “But what of your brother, Tobias?”

She swallows hard as fear grips her stomach. “You can’t fool him as easily, he’s a smart kid who can actually fight back—not an elderly woman with advancing dementia.”

He grins a slow, menacing grin, one that displays his sharp teeth. “Oh, but Sarah, I would make it a point to try and trick him at every moment in the future. I would spend every waking moment at his side, lying in wait, whispering sweet compulsions into his ears. As smart as you think he is, mortals are foolish in nature and I would bide my time until he made an inevitable mistake…and then, well, I’m sure you’ve figured out the games I like to play. Would you sentence your precious little brother to such a fate?”

Blood freezing in her veins as she hears his threat, she wonders why he put on this charade in the first place. She supposes he started with her grandmother as she’d be the easiest target—the thought douses her fears and ignites her fury.

“I suggest you answer me, sweet Sarah,” he says in an eerily calm voice. “Or I may be compelled to act in a manner you’d find most…repulsive.”

Snapping out of her thoughts, she replies quickly, “Leave Toby out of this. I can give you an answer right away if you let me know what I’ve stolen from you.” She swallows nervously before continuing, “I just can’t bring myself to blindly agree to your terms…I hope you can understand that.”

With an unrelenting gaze, he takes her request into account. “Let me tell you a story, Sa-rah,” he says, his tone neutral once again, and his face unreadable. “There was once a beautiful young girl whose step mother used to make her stay home with the baby.”

She frowns—wasn’t that from a play she’d been practicing for sophomore drama tryouts? What did that have to do with anything? “That’s a monologue I practiced for tryouts,” she says—the vision of an old book bound in red leather comes to the forefront of her mind. “I remember practicing in the park…” her frown deepens—her memory is hazy from that particular time period.

A victorious smile etches across his face as she remembers the book. Perhaps she’ll remember after all. “Allow me to tell you a different story,” he says, his voice now low and melodic, as he places an arm around her shoulders, and one around her waist, and pulls her up to a sitting position. Leaning close to her, he whispers into her ear, “An adventurous little girl visits her grandmother’s house, only to find a beast in her stead.”

She shifts uncomfortably, he’s too close and his breath is hot against her skin. “The story ends with the huntsman killing the beast if I’m not mistaken.”

Barking out an animalistic laugh, he places a kiss on her earlobe—how he adores her spark of defiance. “The human tale is ancient, based on legends that predate your birth by almost a millennia, precious. The adventurous little girl gets utterly consumed by the beast—she is devoured whole. It serves as a warning to other girls in the village…do not draw the attention of monstrous creatures.”

She purses her lips. “That sounds like some ridiculous kind of logic a victim-blaming defense lawyer would use to defend a date rapist.”

A dark chuckle. “I suppose you are correct, precious. However, the conclusion to the legend remains the same—the young maiden is consumed and she lies within the belly of the beast.”

That sounds seriously creepy. She notices that his lips twitch and his eyes lighten with hidden mirth. The bastard is enjoying this. “Your point?”

A condescending glance. “My point has already been made, precious. Perhaps the logic escaped your rather blunted sensibilities—and if so, there’s nothing further that can be done. Don’t worry your pretty head over it.”

His derisively scalding words make her clench her fists—to the most of her ability as she still hasn’t regained full control over her voluntary muscles. “Then explain it to me properly, Jareth. Because, at this point, it feels like you’re telling me I’m the young maiden about to be consumed,” she laughs, a fierce mélange of wildness and vulnerability. “We both know that I’m not a maiden. Not in any sense of the word.”

Eyes gleaming violently, he tries containing the blinding rage that’s building in his chest.

Pleased with his reaction, she continues, “You know what I believe, Dr. Varg?” She addresses him by his fake persona on purpose. “I believe you’ve been far more…involved in my fucked up life than you let on.” She pauses for a few seconds, treasuring his stunned silence. “Whom did you mean to torture with your dreams…me? Or yourself?” Imitating his head tilt, she peers into his eyes, satisfied as his gaze sharpens. “In spite of all the effort you’ve put into your psychotic games, Dr. Varg—you’ve ended up torturing yourself far more than you’ve tortured me.”

He raises a brow, but his face remains immaculately expressionless. “You’re getting braver by the moment,” he states, his tone is mildly conversational, belying the turmoil that’s brewing underneath. “Or perhaps a better suited word would be…foolish.”

She flashes him a dazzling smile, one that deepens as she notices how his breath catch in his throat. “You didn’t like it when I spoke of reenacting my dreams—though, I suppose they’re your dreams, not mine. You didn’t like hearing about my intimate relationships either. Why’s that, Dr. Varg?”

His body tenses as she speaks. A low growl escapes his chest, and his eyes gleam like liquid mercury as his gaze sharpens into twin shards of jagged glass. He recalls all the times he had looked into her life, helpless to interfere. Her head thrown back in the throes of passion, seeking release, but not quite getting it. How he’d longed to possess her then—a wave of carnal thirst runs through his veins, and he clenches his fists.

Thrilled by sudden reversal of power, she continues taunting him, the only way she knows how. “Did you watch me all these years?” she asks, eyes wide and lips parted—the very personification of innocence. “I think you did,” she declares, voice filled laughter, “I think you liked it…that you got off on it. What was it like seeing me with others—letting them do all the depraved things that you wanted to do to me?”

He gives her a chilling smile. “As I said, my darling, my emotions are irrelevant to the game at hand.” It doesn’t escape him that her eyes have darkened with lust and her voice has turned husky. He’s pleased to know that she will never be immune to the effect he has on her.

“Did you see me that one time when I asked that one man to tie me up in metal chains?” she asks mischievously, completely ignoring his words.

Clenching and unclenching his fists, he keeps himself from reacting to her heated words. “You tread through a dangerous path, precious.”

She laughs at his warning—a full, throaty laugh exuding just enough sensuality to drive him mad. “I was trying to recreate the…lusciously obscene dream you’d sent me the night before. I never thought chains and ice cubes and knives would be such a pleasurable combination.” She looks him over with hooded, half-shut eyes before leaning back against the sofa—her neck exposed to his hungry gaze. “Is that want you want, Dr. Varg?” she asks, her face turned away, “…to make me relive my nightmares?”

Cursing himself as he can’t help but veer towards her, he grazes his lips along her collarbone. “Among other things,” he whispers, his breath scalding hot against her skin. “But I am not so easily deterred, precious. My offer remains unchanged—return that which you’ve stolen from me and I will heal your grandmother.”

Resisting the urge to growl with frustration, she sighs, fully shutting her eyes. He is as unrelenting as ever—an immovable object that’s immune to her forces. Additionally, he’s made it all too clear that should she refuse his bargain, he will stalk Toby and use him as a tool to get to her.

Why me…she thinks again, knowing such a line of thought would be a waste of effort. He isn’t going to explain anything until she agrees to his crackpot demand. Still…she just cannot bring herself to agree to his bargain.

He rumbles a deep laugh as her silence stretches on. Poor, pitiable Sarah—the little mouse has reached the end of the maze, and there is nowhere else to run. No turns to take, no magical rescues, no knights in shining armors or gardening dwarves to help the tragic heroine. Smiling with savage victory, he breathes in the scent of disarray and desolation that she emits. “Say yes, Sa-rah,” he croons, elongating her name as he normally does when he’s being imploring. “Every delayed moment on your part, will only work to cause your beloved nana further pain.”

Her eyes snap open at the new revelation and she glares at him, hatred evident in her gaze. “She’s in pain?” The words come out as a whisper, but her tone is harsh.

A malicious smile. “Did I not mention that before?”

She doesn’t think twice before she replies, “Fine.”

He raises an amused brow. Surely, she isn’t surrendering to him with so succinct a concession? She’s clever enough to realize that the terms of agreement should be well defined when making a deal with one such as himself. Then what is her game? He eyes her with a gaze that’s predatorily acute—he waits, allowing his prey to make the first move.

She swallows nervously when he remains silent—shouldn’t the bastard be celebrating? Instead he sits next to her, eyeing her with poorly hidden amusement. “I want you to promise me that you’ll never interfere with my family.”

That’s my girl, he thinks, eyes glittering with sardonic humor. “What if your family is dying in an automobile crash, Sarah dear—should I not interfere to save their lives in such a scenario?”

She stares at him, not sure what she can say to that.

“Your silence speaks volumes, my dear, but you do have to use your words when dealing with me,” he mocks. “What if young Toby is in an airplane and the engines fail? Should I allow him to fall violently through the atmosphere, until the vehicle disintegrates and burst into flames?”

Drawing in a sharp breath as the vivid image of a plane crash she’d seen on the news flashes in her mind, she shakes her head mutely.  

He grins viciously as she becomes visibly distraught. “What if-”

“Stop,” she all but shrieks. “Any interference from you would come at too high a price. Never interfere with any of my family members again—and that includes immediate and extended family.”

“Oh how you wound me, precious,” the words roll off his tongue smoothly as he teases her. “I was only thinking of scenarios where I could save them.”

“Then don’t,” she snaps. “I’ve just agreed to your bargain—now tell me what I owe you.”

“Hmm, you possess such brutish manners, my dear,” he mock-chides her, one finger rubbing absently against his lips. “Take a look at the table, my brutish girl.”

She does as he asks, brows furrowing as she sees two playing cards next to each other, both lying faced down. Willing her muscles to move, she tries extending her arm to turn the cards right side up—only to find that the most amount of movement she can manage is to lift her arms a little.

“I can’t reach the table,” she tells him, trying her best to keep annoyance out of her voice. “Is communicating with words so difficult for you that you need to resort to using fucking playing cards?”  

A bitter laugh. “You say such atrocious things, precious,” his tone is all ice. “But I shall comply with your demands out of the generosity of my heart.” Saying that, he extends one long-fingered hand and opens the card to the right—the king of hearts.

“I’ve seen that one before.”

He stares at her for a few moments, bow shaped lips pursed into a thin line. Without saying a single word, he flips over the adjacent card—his eyes intent on her as he awaits her reaction.

The card lays dormant on the table, and a demure queen, surrounded by diamonds stares up at her vacantly.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

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The card lays dormant on the table, and a demure queen, surrounded by diamonds stares up at her vacantly.

She peers at the two cards that lie next to each other.

Queen of diamonds. King of hearts.

“I don’t understand,” she says slowly, her thick brows furrowing deeper into her forehead.

A king and a queenhearts and diamonds

“Don’t you?” he asks, a melancholic lilt to his deep voice.

She raises her brows, “No.”

There’s genuine curiosity reflected in her jade eyes as she looks at him questioningly. She wonders what she could have possibly done to incur the wrath of such a powerful magical being. And why would he choose those two cards in particularhow did they factor into what she’d allegedly taken from him?

 “What do you want returned, Jareth…your heart? Your crazy affections? I won’t know until you tell me.”

Leaning back against the backrest with a dramatic sigh, he shuts his eyes. “My sanity…among other things.”

His answer makes her blood boil with rage. “I’ve spent the last eight years being on and off a gazillion different kinds of medications because I thought I was fucking delusional, and you say I’ve taken your sanity? How the fuck would I even return that?”

He gives her a piercing gaze. “That which you’ve taken from me cannot be defined on mortal terms, precious. There are different means through which you may return this…entity to me. The most, shall we say prudent, method is…” his voice drifts off as his dual gaze shifts to the cards on display.

Holy fuck. A whirlwind of emotions sweep through her as comprehension dawns in her eyes. King and queen…king and queen. Jesus, he can’t be serious?! Clenching her hands into tight fists, she almost gives a squeak as she realizes that she still holds the torn crimson thread in one hand. With as little movement as possible, she places it in the front pocket of her jeans.

“How quiet you’ve become.” His gaze drifts back to her, and a ghost small smile plays on his bow shaped lips. If he noticed her place the thread in her pocket, he does not mention it.

 “So you’re the king of hearts and I’m the queen of diamonds?” she asks, hoping to distract him.

His rich, deep laughter vibrates along her skin—as if it’s a tangible entity in itself. “Precious Sarah, you are being deliberately obtuse. I know you to be a clever and resourceful young woman, I am not so easily fooled by your act.”

She fights against the sudden tears of frustration that prickle against her eyelids. Don’t break down. Don’t break down—that’s what he wants, don’t give him the fucking satisfaction—her mind rages to no end.

“They’re not even the same suit,” she observes, her voice soft but steady.

A dark smile. “Did you not notice, my darling? Neither are we.”

Blood drains from her face as she realizes that she’s helpless. “Are you…” her voice breaks as she sees his smile deepen, “…a king of some kind?”

His smile stretches even wider and he bares his teeth in victory—it’s a smile that makes the small hairs on the back of her neck stand up. “You could say that.”

She swallows nervously, her breath hitching in her throat. “And me?”

You, my sweet?” he asks rhetorically, flashing her a wink that’s equal parts malice and mischief. “You will be queen. Technically, you will be my Queen consort—it wouldn’t be wise to allow you too much power. Who knows what havoc you’d cause?”

Oh Jesus. What did one say to something like that? Her blood freezes in her veins as her heart hammers in her chest. Good fucking god, was she in a mess. She tries getting her drumming heart under control—it’s thudding loud enough that she’s sure he can hear it.

“I’m not meant to be anyone’s queen,” she babbles nervously. “I’m a slave journalist who writes about cute dogs and cookies. Trust me, you don’t want me for your queen,” she finishes, choking out an anxious, strangled laugh.

“I suppose not,” he agrees, picking up the cards still displayed on the table. “However, I must have what is mine and this is how I shall have it. The game comes to a close, precious, and this time, I stand victorious.”

She frowns. “What do you mean this time?”

Anger flares in his eyes momentarily before it is replaced by his immaculate stare. Without answering her, he holds out his hand.

“Come,” his voice is soft, but it is laced with warning all the same. “You’ve already agreed.”

Oh fuck. He’s dead serious. There’s something about the power of words—she remembers—there’s something he said earlier. Think, think, think!

“You said there were other ways too, I never agreed to become your Queen.”

His eyes darken with cruel amusement. Smart girl. “Two other methods, precious. One ends with death and the other…entrapment.”

Death? A shiver runs up her spine. “What do you mean by entrapment?”

“You would be my…possession of sorts.” He gives her a menacing smile. “One among many, perhaps you’d be prized. Or perhaps you’d be used and discarded.”

“I doubt you’d go through all this trouble of acquiring little old me, only to discard me after some time,” she says with as much confidence as she can muster.  She tries recalling what he’d said earlier—there’s something important that he mentioned. Something that she hadn’t quite taken in when he’d said it…

“You will be queen. Technically, you will be Queen consort—it wouldn’t be wise to allow you too much power. Who knows what havoc you’d cause?”

Queen consort. As in, a queen without the power to rule. A Queen completely and utterly under his control. Her brows furrow in confusion—even so, shouldn’t he prefer to have her as an entrapped possession rather than Queen consort? Unless…she thinks…unless being entrapped would give her some kind of unknown advantage.

“Time is of the essence, my sweet—literally, taking your beloved nana’s agony into account. Would you truly prefer death to being Queen?” What he means to ask is if she would prefer death to being his Queen—but he doesn’t voice this concern out loud.

Pursing her lips as she studies him, she realizes there’s a slight catch to his voice. It dawns on her that he doesn’t have the power to take this choice away from her. Should she choose death, he must grant it.

“No,” she answers him, her unwavering gaze locked onto his, eyes flashing coldly with defiance. “What if I choose to be your possession instead?”

A frightening look of unhinged fury distorts his sharply beautiful features as he bares his teeth. “Foolish mortal,” he thunders, any semblance of the calm predator disappears. “Do you understand the implications of such an arrangement? The damage I could cause you?”

Feeling a dangerous thrill at his reactive display, she smiles serenely—a contrast to his agitated state. “You could do the same to me as Queen consort. I’m guessing our agreement will be complete once I return whatever it is that you want. Possessions can be traded, discarded, or put aside. Queens, on the other hand, have destinies that cannot be changed.”

He glares at her, absolutely incredulous that she would make such a choice. She’s correct of course, but he’d never have suspected her to figure that out. “I’ve had mortal possessions in the past, precious, none of them fared well with time.”

“That’s a risk I’m willing to take,” she declares with a nonchalant shrug. “I choose possession or death.”

His eyes narrow into icy slits of silver glass, and his starkly angled face is etched with equal parts of rage and violence. His breathing quickens and he displays his razor like teeth in a savage, canine grin. For a fraction of a second she thinks he’s going to lose control and she rejoices—this will buy her the time she needs…

…however, in a mere matter of seconds, his face settles back to its impassive mask. Once again, he is carved of marble and ice, his emotions securely locked away.

“Very well,” he concedes. “Perhaps you will change your mind once you are subjected to life in my court. I daresay I will not have to wait very long.” Quirking a brow, he extends his hand, “Shall we?”

Shall we?

The stark reality of the situation hits her hard—he means to take her back to wherever he came from. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. How had things escalated so drastically? All she’d done was agree to give back what was his—she realizes he hasn’t even told her what it is.

Trying a last ditch attempt to stall him, she says, “You said you’d tell me what you want to take back.”

A sharp grin. “And I will tell you eventually, my sweet. I never specified when.”

Her heart stops beating at a wild, frantic pace—instead, it sinks into the pit of her stomach, as if it’s made of lead. Her reality, her worldview, hell, even her understanding of the laws of physics, have been disproven in the last few hours. She feels so completely exhausted, that she wants to collapse and pretend that the events of the last few hours are an extension of a perverse nightmare.

“Let me breathe for a few seconds,” she pleads, still stalling for time—however futilely.

He rumbles a deep laugh, his dual eyes merciless. “No.”

Saying that, he grabs her arm and her world starts spinning.

--

Her stomach lurches violently as her world spins in infinite circles. Her head pounds, as if someone has taken a hammer and crashed it against her skull—the pain is agonizing enough that she drops onto her knees, wincing in pain as her knees hit a cold, hard surface.

A discordant cackle of contemptuous laughter surrounds her, as if she’s in a room full of people who’re whispering to each other while watching her every move.

Where the hell has he brought her?

She tries looking around in vain, her vision still spinning. Holding her head with her hands, she grits her teeth and stumbles as she tries standing up—the pounding is unbearable.

Another burst of laughter surrounds the room, it is harsher this time—followed by a hum of low murmurs, as if they’re waiting for her to stumble again, just so they can laugh.

With all the strength she can muster, she stands up and takes in her surroundings. She finds herself in the middle of a room, which seems more like a large hall walls made of dark gray stone, that’s devoid of any furniture. Various people stand in a circle around her, she can’t quite see their features, but she knows they look like him. They’re dressed in clothes she’s never seen before; some wear masks, and others leave their faces bare. All of them stare at her with coldly amused gazes—as if she’s the evening’s entertainment.

A sudden wave of vertigo catches her off guard and she loses her balance, dropping down to her knees once again.

This time, their laughter rings even louder.

“That’s enough.” His melodic voice holds some amusement, but the words are said in an unmistakably commanding tone.

Just like that there’s pin drop silence in the hall.  She takes this as an opportunity to rise, head held high.

He sits indomitably, on a massive throne made of a single slab of black stone—on a platform high enough that she needs to look up at him. He stares down at her, head cocked to the side, his dual gaze relentless as ever. His elbows rest on either armrest and his feet are planted firmly on the dais—everything about his posture exudes power.

Power…Sudden comprehension dawns in her eyes—that’s what this is about, it’s what he’s been after since the beginning.

“Sarah Williams,” his voice is deeper still, as it echoes against the unforgiving stone walls of the chamber. “The victor. Conqueress of the Labyrinth,” the familiar mocking lilt returns to his voice and there’s a slow murmur of laughter from around the room.

She raises her brows. Conqueress of the Labyrinth? …this is the second reference he’s made to the damned play. Just as she’s about to ask him to explain the significance of the play she’d practiced so long ago, she feels a sickening pull in her stomach and she falls onto her hands and knees, dry heaving until the feeling of nausea passes. She’s surprised when no one laughs at her this time.

Unable to stand, she lifts her head to look up at him—she can’t stop her exhausted muscles from quivering as they struggle to hold her weight.

He doesn’t move a muscle, there isn’t an ounce of pity reflected in his fathomless eyes. “You should retire for the night,” he says, his voice deceivingly soft and completely incongruous with his hawk-like gaze.

The last thing she recalls is a slight widening of his mismatched eyes before her world turns black.

--

She jolts awake with a rush of adrenaline, her body automatically curling into a defensive position with her knees pressed to her chest. For a minute, she believes that she’s had a full blown delusional spell—that perhaps she’s been admitted to an inpatient facility…the belief lasts for a few seconds, until she sees the cold gray stones of the wall. She seems to be in a large, sterile room that’s empty, save for a massive bed. Everything is white—including the sheets, the curtains, the coverlet, the tapestries that line the stone walls.

She’s surprised to find herself in an old-fashioned nightgown, one that’s too big for her thin frame—big enough that one silken strap slides down her shoulder and she pulls it back up. Like the rest of the décor, the nightgown is stark white, giving her a ghostly appearance. Her hair and skin smell of jasmine, as if she’s taken a jasmine scented bubble bath.  

Once she realizes that she is alone, she relaxes a little and studies her surroundings, scanning the sterile room for her clothes—relieved as she sees them in a crumpled heap in the far corner. She steps down from the monstrous bed, wincing as her bare feet touch the cold floor, and makes her way to her discarded clothes, her hands immediately delving into the front pocket of her jeans, where she’d stashed the torn crimson bracelet. She quickly hides the thread under a pillow before resuming her exploration—eyes searching for an escape or a weapon she can use.

 “Were you thinking of flying away?”

Jerking out of her thoughts, she whirls around as she hears his voice. She almost takes a step back as she sees him—he stands tall with his arms crossed and feet apart, clothed in a full body armor of black leather and chrome, and a cloak so thin, it looks like it is made of black smoke. On his head sits his official crown—heavy and intimidating, formed by pure onyx.  

Don’t show fear, dammit—she curses herself as she keeps from trembling. Something ripples through the air, almost touching her - his power…his magic? The thought overwhelms her enough that she feels giddy—miraculously, she’s able to keep herself from falling down. “No.”

 “You may have many talents, precious, but lying isn’t one of them,” he says with a deep laugh, looking at her almost fondly, as if he’s impressed with what he sees. “You cannot run from me, silly Sarah, you know that. Especially considering you don’t even know where you are.”

Choosing not to respond to his taunt, she changes the subject. “So…will you take back what I owe you now?” Her heart skips a beat as she eyes him intently—the quicker that’s over, the quicker she can…well, work towards getting back home. She doesn’t think of the logistics behind how she’s going to accomplish that—just that she has to. Giving up is not an option.

A harsh grin. “Not today, Sa-rah.” His stance is imperious as he studies her rail thin form, lips pursing into a thin line. Her sable locks, normally straight, are wild and full of static energy, a side effect of travelling through the realms. Her jade eyes hold the violent intensity of a cornered animal. She looks like a feral creature, he thinks, lips quirking into a crooked smile.

“Then what do you want?” she hisses angrily. Just like that her tone is harsh—she’s been through enough in the last few hours, she isn’t going to be ridiculed as well. Not by him.

He can’t help but laugh richly at her display of anger—she’s beginning to take on the characteristics of a vicious wild beast, one with sharp teeth and well-honed claws. He’s not too worried of course—he has far sharper teeth and more experienced claws.

“You’ve come here to laugh at me?” she asks when he doesn’t answer her previous question.

“Not at all, my sweet Sarah,” he croons reassuringly. “I merely wanted to know if you’ve changed your mind about being my Queen consort.”

She bares her teeth. “Not today, Ja-reth,” she says, elongating his name like he does hers.

This time he doesn’t laugh at her words. Instead, he assesses her with an absorbed gaze—his iridescent eye gleams like liquid sapphire while the other one resembles the dark depths of an ocean during a storm.

“You would truly choose to be an object to be possessed, Sarah?” His voice is deathly calm and his eyes are narrow.

She doesn’t answer his question directly—instead, she says, in a slow but steady voice, “I’m smart enough to understand you need me as your Queen consort, Jareth, but it’s a choice you can’t force on me. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.”

His gaze hardens for a few moments before he laughs quietly, a far less sinister sound than his usual laughter. “Of course, my darling. I shouldn’t expect any less, not from you.”

Her cool façade fades, and in a moment of weakness, she looks at him with imploring eyes. “This can’t go on forever, Jareth…” she pauses, wondering if she should call him King Jareth—but the term sounds ridiculous in her mind, so she doesn’t. “You can’t come in here every few hours, asking if I’ll agree to your demands.”

In a flash of a second, he closes the distance between them, and she fights the urge to shrink back—he only stands a few inches taller than her, but cuts a far more daunting figure.

Placing his fingers below her chin, he lifts her head, his face inches from hers. “Can’t I?”

Surprisingly, she keeps herself from shivering at his touch. The scent of leather infiltrates her senses as she notices the etchings of snarling, gargoyle like figures on the chrome breastplate of his armor. Her eyes sweep upwards upon his face, until she notices the thick, spiky thorns that adorn his head. She can’t help but wonder how they don’t cut into his skin. Raising a hand, as if mesmerized by the menacing ornament, she runs her fingers against its cool surface.

A wicked smile plays on his lips as she takes in a sharp breath and withdraws her curious fingers abruptly, and he inhales the coppery smell of her blood.

“Sarah,” he rumbles, his voice vibrating against the stone walls of the room, as he takes her hand in his, examining the thin rivulet of blood that runs from her fingers and drips onto the floor. “Your blood flows crimson,” he observes, his eyes dazed—he’s fascinated by the dripping liquid.

Snatching her hand away, she places the bleeding finger in her mouth, sucking slightly—and then she changes her mind. Pulling her finger out, she stains her dry, chapped lips with her blood, feeling a wild sense of gratification as she sees his breathing slow down.

His gaze sharpens with the ravenous intensity of a starved predator.  

Ignoring the rush of lust that flows in her veins, she laughs a mirthless laugh. “You still want me, don’t you?”

Gripping her shoulders roughly with his leather clad hands, he pulls her body flush against his and whispers into her ear, “I will always want you, Sarah.” Running his tongue along the sensitive outer shell of her ear, he chuckles darkly as her body trembles. “What I find infinitely more surprising, precious, is that you still want me…after all the things I’ve done to you, you still want me.”

Every self-preservation instinct tells her that she should pull away and run, run as far as she can from him…yet…yet, she can’t bring herself to do that. Adrenaline pumps in her veins as his hands trail down her body, thumbs resting below her breasts, and his lips place feather light kisses on her bare shoulder. Wet, hot arousal drips down her thigh and it occurs to her that she wears no undergarments. Blood creeps up her face and her cheeks color with equal parts shame and desire—he’s correct, she does want him.

“Has it occurred to you, Sarah, that you may never see your world again?” his voice rumbles as she feels his lips move against the skin of her neck, his breath hot against her breasts. “That you may never lay eyes on that charming brother of yours?” His thumbs now caresses her nipples in soft, circular motions—arousing her body slowly as his words are like venom in her ears.

She opens her mouth to tell him to fuck off, but her voice dies in her throat. All she can do is gasp softly as he rolls a nipple between his thumb and forefinger. And then she feels his mouth close over her breast, tongue lapping at the sensitive bud over the silk of the nightgown—the sensation goes straight to the bundle of nerves in between her legs. She resists the urge to press herself against his body and seek the relief that she’s so desperately sought for years.

He continues caressing her through the nightgown, his touch luxuriously slow—he’s been in her dreams for years, he knows how to heighten her arousal and let it build to unbearable heights. His mouth closes over her other breast, and his eyes dance with laughter as she moans—her eyes half shut with pleasure.

“How easily you prove my point,” he rumbles with dark amusement, as he pulls away, smirking at the hiss of protest that escapes her lips.

Every surface of her body prickles with lust as she glares at him. Her nipples stand erect against the wet fabric of her gown and arousal seeps along her inner thighs. The pulsing knot of desire between her legs rages wildly—it takes every ounce of her self-control to not throw herself at him. Instead, she bites her lower lip with slow precision and looks up at him with a gaze of wide eyed, mock innocence.

“You seem to want me far more than I want you,” she says, voice hazy—she slips one strap of the nightgown down her arm, exposing a breast. “And that just eats you up inside.” Saying that she repeats her actions with the other strap, and lets the silken fabric pool at her feet.

His mouth parts open as he takes in the vision in front of him—with her wild hair and wide eyes, she looks both, beautiful and beastly. Her bones are razor sharp and her skin flawless—her nipples are dark red, as are her lips. By instinct, he vanishes his gloves into the ether and his eyes darken until they are completely black.

Flashing him a feral smile as she sees his reactions, she steps out of the pooled fabric—her legs slightly apart. She tilts her head, studying him, as she trails her delicate fingers down the sides of her body until they rest against her hips.

“If you want me, Jareth…” she says softly as she runs her fingers down the length of her slit, “…I’m here.”

--

 

Chapter Text

 

 

--

If you want me, Jareth…” she says softly as she runs her fingers down the length of her slit, “…I’m here.”

He stands completely still—his eyes darkening as he hears her moan in pleasure. A surge of bitterness fills his chest as he concedes the veracity of her words—those dreams were indeed torturous. Perhaps bringing her to his realm is even more so. Blood rushes to his groin and liquid heat blazes through his veins as he sees her slowly caress the pleasurable bundle of nerves in between her legs with her fingers, her jade eyes hooded in pleasure and her breaths coming out in short gasps.

Sarah tilts her head as she assesses his lack of action. “Years of torture, and all you’re going to do is watch?” She doesn’t await his answer—instead she spreads her legs even more, her thumb rests over her clit and her fingers circle her entrance. She arches her back as she plays with her nipples with her other hand—pinching, rolling the dark red nubs.

The Goblin King stops himself from growling as he feels his cock harden painfully. His breathing deepens and his pulse races—he has to resort to clenching his fists to regain some semblance of control. “I don’t quite comprehend what you’re trying to achieve, precious.”

She doesn’t answer him right away—throwing her head back, she gives out a low moan as she caresses her clit in long, languid strokes. Her arousal drips down her thigh as she pleasures herself and tiny little sweat beads form on her brows.

“And I don’t quite comprehend why you haven’t sought relief for the years of frustration you put us through,” she retorts, her fingers now slowing down. “I’d say you might have a problem getting it up, but it doesn’t seem that way,” she adds, eyeing the sizeable bulge in his leather trousers.

He smirks slowly, her little barb doesn’t affect him one bit as he isn’t a mortal male with a weak ego. “Eager, are you?”

“Very,” she replies, twisting her lips in an unhinged smile. Her fingers quicken their pace again as she strokes her clit in swift movements—building up the pleasurable knot of pressure in her lower abdomen. She shuts her eyes completely, giving in to the surge of lust thrumming through her body as the pressure builds…and builds and muffled moans escape her throat.

Lips parting open, the Goblin King looks on, fighting the urge to throw her down on the bed—hell, the floor—and thrust into her as she writhes beneath him. He opens his mouth to say something, but his voice dies in his throat. He is captivated by the manner in which her breasts rise and fall with each heaving breath she takes, her nipples fully erect and as hard as pebbles. The manner in which her brows furrow deeper and deeper into her forehead—the muscles of her legs and lower abdomen tense lightly. He knows she’s close to the edge and the thought makes him burn with passion.

Just when she’s about to come, she opens her eyes and looks directly into his, her gaze completely hazy with desire. “You know what I want, Dr. Varg,” she says, mocking him with his fake persona. “I want you fuck me as hard as you can,” her fingers continue stroking her clit. “I want you to make every dream you’ve ever sent me, come alive.”

“Sarah,” his voice comes out as a strangled groan—his hands are tightly clenched, but his eyes remain intent on hers.

“Make me scream, make me beg, make me crawl on the fucking floor if you want to,” she says, her voice hoarse. “Make me bleed.” The sudden mix of violence and lust is what throws her over the edge. Her eyes roll back as her orgasm crashes through her—her muscles clenching, releasing—firing every pleasurable nerve across her body.  She’s never felt release like this before, she thinks—slumping down on the floor, her body now boneless.

“That was quite a display.” Just like that his tone is cold and indifferent, belying the desire he feels.

She looks up at him, still breathing hard from her orgasm. His voice may be composed, but she can read desire and longing in his eyes, and something else entirely. Her smile deepens as she recognizes the new emotion—it’s an emotion she’s felt throughout the night, fear. He fears her.

“Are you afraid of me, Dr. Varg?”

“Call me Jareth,” he replies roughly before looking away. “And dress yourself.”

She laughs—a brittle sound, and ignores his command. “You are afraid to touch me—you can’t even bear to look at me, and there’s no point in asking you why,” she muses out loud. “Yet you want me to become Queen consort…something changes then, doesn’t it? You’ll no longer be afraid of me if I’m your Queen.”

This time, he cannot control the growl that escapes his chest. She’s proving to be a stronger opponent than he’d originally thought. “You will clean yourself and be presentable,” he says, his velvety voice as sharp as the lash of a whip. “You will dine before you do so.”

Saying that, the Goblin King disappears from her stark room—seeking to quench his desire elsewhere.

Just as she’s left wondering where exactly she is supposed to ‘dine,’ a small table appears in the corner of her room, laid out with a simple hot meal and a jug of water. There is also a door that appears—which, she assumes, will lead to some kind of bathroom where she can ‘be presentable.’

--

When the Goblin King returns a few hours later, he’s surprised to see that she’s followed his instructions. He finds her standing next to the small, barred window, completely in awe of the sight before her.

“Have you changed your mind, Sa-rah?” he asks, stalking closer to her with the grace and precision of a predator on a hunt. Not that he’ll ever tell her, but he’s impressed with how quickly her mortal mind has gotten accustomed to the changing of realms.

Whirling around, she looks at him, her face expressionless. “No. Have you changed your mind about telling me what you want?”

He gives her a toothy grin as a response, his eyes rake appreciatively over her form—the dress he’s given her is a simple, unadorned column dress. Humans have worn this style for centuries and it suits her thin body perfectly. “Not at the moment, precious.”

Smoothing out an imaginary crease in her dress, she fights to get her emotions under control. Why is he making this so difficult? She wants to scream and shout, and beg him to just tell her what he wants so she can actually give it to him and get back to her life. Fortunately, she’s able to restrain herself from doing exactly that. Something tells her he would have been thoroughly entertained by her growing hysteria instead of being moved. She plays with a sleeve strap—a nervous movement, as she thinks of ways to get his compliance.

Frowning in concern as he sees her delicate but prominent collar and shoulder bones, he studies her body again. She may not show any vulnerabilities, but he understands mortals enough to know that she is physically weakened due to her state of malnutrition. He’s relieved that he can remedy that—now that she’s in his realm.

“Here,” he says, standing close enough that she can reach out and touch him. “I got you a gift.”

She raises her brows as he places a trinket in her hand—a bracelet. Laughing at the irony, she eyes the ruby studded silver bracelet in admiration—the craftsmanship is amazing. She snaps the delicate trinket around her wrist and turns to him without saying anything.

“I owe you a bracelet, considering I tore off your last one.” His eyes glitter with cruel amusement as fire blazes in hers, however momentarily. “Come,” he demands, one gloved hand held out for her take, his lips drawn in a cruel line—as if he already anticipates her refusal.

She looks back out of the window instead of taking his proffered hand, eyes mesmerized by the enormous entity outside. “What’s that?”

The Goblin King smiles a harsh smile—perhaps it’s time for the truth. “That, mortal child, is the Labyrinth.”

Her mouth falls open and her eyes become comically wide as she jerks her head to look at him. “Like the play?”

“Yes.” That’s all he says as he awaits her reaction—it’s something he’s anticipated reverently for a long, long time.

“The Labyrinth…” she repeats, voice drifting off, eyes dazed. Her body buzzes and her mind turns hazy.

The Labyrinth? The story of the girl, her brother, and the villainous king?

Comprehension dawns in her eyes—but instead of cowering in fear, she laughs. “You’re telling me that actually happened?”

“Yes.”

She laughs until there are tears in her eyes—the sound half unbalanced and half broken. “So what does that make you—the Goblin King?”

He looks at her with raw intensity, moonlight bouncing off the stark angles of his strangely beautiful face.

Her laughter dies down as she notes his impassioned gaze. “So the good news is that I’ve never been delusional,” she murmurs to herself, “But the bad news is that all of my childhood nightmares are real. The Labyrinth…” she murmurs again, voice drifting off as she gazes at the entity outside in awe.

“Come, Sarah—the night awaits.”

She turns to him, ignoring his outstretched hand. “Is this revenge for the girl beating the king?”

Evaluating her question silently for a few heartbeats, he answers her slowly. “No.”

She flashes him a dazzling smile. “I figured—you’re not the type to go on a vengeful rampage. There’s something else that you want from me…and it’s not just something I’ve taken from you—it’s something else altogether…” she surmises, her smile deepening as his eyes narrow ever so slightly—it seems she’s hit a nerve. “…and the only way by which you’re going to get this thing, this entity like you called it, is for me to become Queen consort.”

If he feels threatened by her theories, he does not show it.

Tilting her head, she studies the mesmerizing lines of his face. “But what about death?” she asks quietly. “Wouldn’t that be the easiest way for you to get what you want?”

Keeping his leather-clad hand outstretched, he grins. “If you’re done with your little revelations, we have elsewhere to be.”

She returns his grin. “I’m far from done, Goblin King,” she teases, “You didn’t even have to put on this charade—all you had to do is wait. My heart muscles are weak and I’ve been told they may give way soon if I continue losing weight…and my bone mass is pathetic.” She pauses, shuddering as she remembers the many medical tests she’s had to go through. “Young lady, you’re going to die of cardiac arrest and osteoporosis,” she says with a stern expression on her face, mimicking her newest GP. “Why didn’t you just wait?”

“Why do you think, my clever heroine?”

Then she remembers the line from the play, and her eyes widen with disbelief.

“…what no one knew is that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl...”

“What no one knew,” she repeats the line that’s replaying again and again in her head. “Don’t tell me that’s true as well…?” Had he been telling her the truth when he said he loved her? The thought is coldly sobering…yet

“Come,” he commands, his voice now rough and unrelenting.

Deciding she’s had enough revelations for one night, she takes his hand. “Where are we going?”

His dual eyes shine with malice. “You wanted to experience life in my court as an entrapped mortal, my dear—this is your opportunity.”

--

They arrive in a massive hall that’s different than the one from earlier—she can tell because it seems bigger in size and there’s some furniture scattered around the corners. She shields her eyes from random flashes of light that seem to be reflected from the walls, the ceiling, and even the windows.

“Crystals,” the Goblin King says with a dark chuckle. “You’ll get used to them.”

She hears low whispers, murmurs from around the room as he takes her hand—but she can’t quite make out what they’re saying. And just like that, there’s pin drop silence as they kneel, their heads bowed in reverence towards their King.

“Kneel, precious.”

“What?” she asks—had he said kneel? She feels a forceful push on her shoulders, shoving her down until she’s in a kneeling position as well.

“Rise,” he commands after a few moments, his tone infinitely bored. He holds out his hand as he helps her up.

Looking around the room with a curious gaze, she frowns as she realizes she still can’t make out anyone’s features—as if her vision is blurred. What she finds even more disturbing is that she can’t hear clearly either. She can make out murmurs and laughter and whispers, but she can’t quite hear what’s being said.

“Do not fret, precious thing—your sight and auditory senses will be accustomed to our realm soon enough,” he says with a pitiless laugh, relishing the look of confusion on her face. “Here, drink,” he commands, handing her a goblet of applewine.

He leads her to dais that’s set up in the center, and helps her get seated in a small arm chair that’s placed next to his throne. A flash of cruelty darkens his features—let’s see how you enjoy being entrapped, precious.

She drinks whatever he hands her and sits where he places her, confused as to what she’s supposed to do. The thought of not being able to see and hear clearly fills her with dread—but there’s nothing she can do about that. Perhaps sound and light traveled at different speeds in this realm, she thinks—somewhat amused that her brain is preoccupied with the physics behind his realm instead of formulating an effective escape.

As deeply lost as she is in her thoughts, she doesn’t notice two tiny green things zip up to her, tug her hair and prick her skin.

She yelps in pain and the room erupts with scattered laughter.

…this continues for the next hour, and by the end of it, she’s seething with fury. Where had Jareth gone anyway?

Just as she’s about to start screaming with frustration, she hears his dulcet tones, “Sarah darling—how do you like tonight’s event that’s been thrown in your honor?”

She glares at him—her vision now swaying because of the drink she’s had. “Your subjects keep pulling out strands of my hair and pricking me with pins. How would you like it?”

He laughs a rich, deep, reverberating laugh. “Mortals are quite a novelty here, precious thing, and they’re only ever encountered in my court. Even so, it’s been a while since I’ve had one here—my subjects are bound to be curious. They’re free to take certain liberties with you as you are…entrapped.”

Taking a long, hard sip from her newly refilled goblet, she gives him a contemptuous look. “Really—that’s the worst you can do?”

The Goblin King runs a gloved hand indulgently through his mortal possession’s lustrous locks. “The night has only begun, my darling,” he states darkly—his tone holding both, a threat and a promise.

Panic begins to bubble in her chest as the hours stretch on. How the fuck is she ever going to get out of this situation when she doesn’t even fucking know what he wants?

“Sarah?”

She snaps out of her thoughts to see that Jareth has brought two others with him—a man and woman with skin as golden as NARS’s new summer palate, and jet black eyes. The man has long, straight hair that falls to his shoulders and the woman’s ash brown locks are styled in an elaborate upsweep that’s held up with multiple pins. The man’s face is uncovered while the woman wears a crescent shaped half-mask around her eyes.

“The Goblin King’s feral mortal,” says the man as he leans down towards her, stroking her hair like one would a stroke a pet cat. “Mortal’s do not venture into our world so willingly these days…” there’s a paradoxical trace of longing and malevolence in his voice.

Jareth flashes the man a slow, sensuous smile. “I haven’t entrapped a mortal for a while…she’s delightful, isn’t she?”

Her heart starts thrumming in her chest as the man leans close and places a kiss on her temple. Her hands grip the armrests of her chair hard enough that her knuckles turn white. This has got to be a test. He wants her to panic—to think he’s going to command her…to what? Sleep with this man? The thought makes her sick.

She can hear them speaking now—their voices similarly toned with infinite boredom and cruel amusement. He wouldn’t…would he? Not if he claims to be in love with her…

…but then again, he’s almost killed her grandmother and threatened to harm her family, so his definition of love is fucked up.

“Sarah—don’t look so alarmed, like a lost lamb,” he teases, making her snap out of her thoughts once again.

Perhaps it’s his derisive tone that does it, or perhaps it’s his words, but anger blazes in her veins, replacing fear. She looks at him and raises her brows—perhaps it’s time to show Dr. Varg just now unrepressed she really is.

She stands up slowly and strides towards the trio, surprised she can walk without staggering, considering the number of glasses of applewine she’s consumed. “Anything to please you, Goblin King,” she says, closing the distance between herself and the woman in the mask.

Her eyes still locked with his, Sarah holds the back of the woman’s neck with one hand before molding their lips together in a soft but deep kiss.

The Goblin King cannot look away for all the stars in the sky—his gaze heats up as he sees his mortal deepen the kiss with skilled lips and tongue. Desire floods his veins once more and his pulse races.

As Sarah finally pulls away from the masked woman, she adroitly hides a pin she’s pulled out from her upswept hairdo, within her dress. She turns to the Goblin King quickly, relieved when she realizes he hasn’t noticed her steal the pin. “I hope you’re pleased.”

He looks alarmed for a few moments before a sharp grin stretches across his face. His dual eyes gleam with genuine humor. “Capricious little thing,” is all he says before he leaves her alone, taking the two with him.

He stays away from her for the rest of the night—only coming to collect her by the time the so called event is over.

--

Having had one too many glasses of the applewine, she dances on her toes when he transports her back to her sterile little prison.

He eyes her intently, his dual gaze packed with equal parts lust and amusement.

Staggering a little when she feels an abrupt rush of dizziness, she sits on the monstrous bed, studying him curiously. “You’re still afraid of touching me,” she declares.

His gaze turns intense as a fresh burst of anger burns in his chest. “I need more—want more, than that which you took from me, my sweet.”

“Can’t you do that without making me Queen consort or killing me?” she blurts out, alcohol having loosened her tongue considerably. “I mean, you seem like a powerful magician or whatever it is that you are, I’m sure you don’t want a 23 year old human for your Queen.”

He’s quiet for a few heartbeats. “No.”

She raises her brows. “Then what if I just give you what you want—can I do that voluntarily?” Perhaps it’s as simple as that…

A slow smile. “No, precious—the entity is now a part of you.”

“What is this entity?”

His gaze drifts to the window as his jaw hardens. “You’re a clever heroine, Sarah,” he says, his voice dangerously low. “What do you think?”

Shock overtakes her features. “The Labyrinth?”

“Sleep well, precious.”

He fades away, leaving her suddenly sober and she recalls his words from earlier that night. He’d called her Conqueress of the Labyrinth.

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

The space beside the small, barred window is her only solace in her sterile prison—she spends the day looking at the labyrinthine structure below as it changes throughout the day. She calculates it’s been three, or perhaps four days since she’s gotten here—the exact sense of time seems to escape her, but she knows it’s only been a few days. Any more and she’ll go insane.

Her days have been quite routine, she’s sure he’s done that on purpose—she’s left to her own devices during the day with nothing to do but stare out of the pathetic little window in her room. Smirking to herself she wonders whether he’s trying to torture her with boredom. Like that’s going to work. Evenings, she’s asked to accompany him to some social event or the other. Her hearing and vision, while clearing up a little, are still hazy, for the most part—except when it comes to him and the Labyrinth.

Her nights take on a life of their own, the nightmares he sends her are getting more and more adventurous. She can feel his skin on hers, the weight of his body pressing against her—making her writhe in suffocation and pleasure simultaneously. She shivers with equal measures of revulsion and lust—he’d crossed a line last night that he never had before. She’d awoken, sodden with need and weeping with desire. She’d touched herself immediately after waking up, but, experiencing only a blip of an orgasm, she hadn’t found relief.

Frowning, she wonders why he’s afraid of actually fucking her—it’s not like she’s magical. Sure, she seems to have some sort of power, but she’s definitely no match for him. So far, he’s only told her that the play is real—that she’s the girl and he’s the King. The story doesn’t affect her one bit, as she has no recollection of wishing her brother away or running the Labyrinth.

Still…her pretty face screws up in concentration, there has to be something she can use to her advantage. Think, Williams, think.

--

The King paces his chambers, his strides strong and graceful, fury alighting his mismatched. He curses the mortal—he never expected her to be this rigid. In his experience, most mortals, when faced with a reality that’s beyond their comprehension, tended to crumble—not her. She refuses his very generous offer with a sly gleam in her eyes. He curses her again, in all twelve languages that he knows.

The moment she solved the Labyrinth, the entity became hers—she’d won it from him. She cannot simply hand it back to him, nor can he forcefully take it from her, even if she’s an entrapped possession. She was correct in stating that possessions could be traded or discarded—consequently, should she ever belong to another, the Labyrinth would shift with her. He crushes a cylindrical crystal in his hands at the thought. He’d never allow that.

A grim smile twists his lips—she’d also been correct in thinking that he did not want a 23-year-old mortal Queen, even as a consort. He’s spent years trying to find an alternative route, but all of his efforts have proved useless. The girl may as well be chained to the Labyrinth, their fates are entwined. He has come to accept that certain events couldn’t be helped—making her Queen consort one of them.

And then there’s her connection with him. During their final confrontation, she had foolishly touched one of his crystals with her bare hands, and the bauble had shattered at her finger tips. In doing so, she’d left a part of her mortal essence behind…with him.

Throwing his wispy head back, the King laughs a bitter laugh—he’d told her that he couldn’t live within her. How ironic that her essence seems to live within him. Everything about him—his magic has been affected since, and he is powerless to stop the change. This time, he’s been wise enough to place her in a room that shuns magic, hence she can’t cause any damage there.

He wonders how long his willpower will last—those dreams affect both of them. He feels like he’s dying of a specific kind of thirst that he can never quench, unless it’s with her. Placing his ceremonial crown of spiky thorns on his unruly mane, the Goblin King transports himself to his mortal obsession’s stark white room, hoping tonight is the night she finally breaks.

--

“Sarah.” His rich baritone cascades off the stone walls as he arrives in her room. His severe lips twitch with repressed amusement when he catches her looking outside.

She turns around unhurriedly. “Is this routine going to continue forever?”

A dark chuckle. “It’s only forever, my dear, not long at all.”

Her brows furrow in her forehead. How she hates it when he speaks in riddles. “Are you trying to bore me to death?”

He walks towards her, his boots clicking against the stone floor. “Here I thought I was keeping you entertained. Have you changed your mind regarding my offer?”

“Sex dreams at night and boredom during the day—that’s not adequate entertainment, is it? I haven’t changed my mind.”

He closes the distance between them, his gloved hands on her frail shoulders. The dress he’s chosen looks exquisite on her—dark, emerald colored silk that drapes over one shoulder, showing off her sharp, convex shoulder blades.

“Ah yes, the dreams,” he rumbles, “Say the word and I’ll make each one of those dreams a reality, precious.” His hands move down to her thin upper arms—each of which he encircles with his fingers, thumb touching forefinger. “However, if it’s torture that you want, we can visit my dungeons. My council would be pleased that if I closed this issue for once and for all.”

The threat in his low and seductive voice doesn’t go unnoticed—a flash of fear crosses her face. She fights to put on a bold expression. “Humans use pain, sex, or death for torture—you’re clearly not going to have sex with me, nor are you going to kill me. So I guess, pain it is.”

“As I said, that can be arranged, precious.” His thumbs caresses the sensitive skin on the insides of her arm in slow circles. “Are you sure your answer remains the same?”

“Yes. You can’t torture me into marrying you,” she replies, her voice resolute.

This surprises him. “Marriage is a human concept, my dear—we do not have an equivalent. Being my Queen consort does not mean you’re married to me.”

Her jade eyes widen. “Could I retire from being Queen at some point?”

An almost gentle expression crosses his face. “No, my darling. Once Queen, you belong to the Kingdom until you die.”

“My answer’s still the same then. I plan on going back.”

The Goblin King laughs a deliberately mocking laugh. “Oh you poor dear,” he says, running his hands through her hair until his gloved fingers are completely entwined within her thick locks. “My sweet little darling,” he whispers, his voice chillingly calm, his lips grazing her temple. “How naïve you are.” Saying that, he pulls her hair sharply, making her cry out in pain as she’s forced to look up at him.

“I will go back,” she states with all the bravado she can muster.

“You, my sweet, have been devoured—the crust of the very planet you live on has been ripped open, and you have been devoured whole. You’ve left your world behind without a trace.” He pulls her close—his body suddenly hot as she struggles. How he’d like to rip this beautiful dress and sink his teeth into her tender flesh.

Her eyes widen as she feels her chest constrict tightly. Without a trace? For the first time she wonders what her family thinks—dad and Karen must be worried sick. And Toby…the thought of her brother brings tears to her eyes.

The Goblin King looks on, his mismatched eyes glitter with cruel amusement. “How does it feel to be so powerless, my dear?” he asks, his tone merciless. “What do you suppose your family will think—that you’ve been kidnapped? Perhaps tortured? Perhaps you’re suffering a fate worse than death?” He laughs darkly. “How do you suppose your father will react to that? His poor little girl suffering at the hands of a monster?”

Just like that, her tears stop flowing. “I hate you.”

--

The Goblin King looks across the hall at the mortal—she sits calmly where he’s last left her. He’s been awaiting a reaction, any reaction, from her for the last few days—but she’s surprised him by showing uncharacteristic composure.

A small, victorious smirk stretches her lips when she notices the Goblin King stare at her. He’s a fool if he doesn’t realize that she’s always aware when he watches her. She sits still and calmly looks at the view outside the massive window next to her.

She goes over all the information she’s gathered so far—words have immense power. That’s how he’s ensnared her in this position. He is far more powerful than she imagined, and while he seems to be afraid her in some capacity, she cannot fight him and win. He cares about her in however a fucked up manner—he could have tortured her by now, but he hasn’t.

--

The Goblin King smirks a victorious smirk of his own as one of the seven Sky Queens approaches him. He knows exactly how to test his mortal’s serenity. She could definitely stand to see what she’s missing out, and he could use some relief.

She can see him from the corners of her eyes—his body stretched out sensuously. She notices that his gloves are gone as he runs a hand through his hair and loosens his shirt collar. What is he…? That’s when she notices her—a woman with ridiculously long, inky black hair and eyes as purple as the deepest shade of amethyst. She opens his buttons, one by one, as her hands explore his chest.

Sarah can’t stop herself from turning towards the lascivious display, her mouth open in shock and desire. He pushes the woman’s shoulders until she’s lying down on the pillows, her purple eyes shut as he pulls down her sleeves, exposing her breasts. A small moan escapes Sarah’s throat when he closes his mouth over the raven haired woman’s nipple—red hot lust surges through her body, and she suddenly feels intensely aroused. She imagines herself in the woman’s position, and his mouth on her.

He grins sharply when he feels the weight of her gaze. Sweet mortal child, you’re no match for me. His lips and teeth suckle the Sky Queen’s breasts while fingers caress her inner thighs before moving to her hot center. He teases her, entering her with one finger, then two—enough to arouse her without giving her release.

Feeling a rush of wetness in her core, Sarah squirms in her chair. She grips the armrests on either side to keep herself from caressing her own breasts. She’s never felt lust like this before, and she feels like pulling the smirking King away from the woman he is with, and throwing herself at him.

Chuckling darkly, the Goblin King tilts his head and looks directly into his mortal’s eyes as he pleasures the Sky Queen with his fingers. He drinks in her lust darkened eyes and tense body—his cock stirring, hardening as he imagines her in place of the woman beneath him at the moment. The Sky Queen writhes, her skin flushes and her muscles tense. “Jareth,” she cries as he rubs against a spot deep within her, finally granting her release.

Maintaining eye contact with him throughout the woman’s orgasm, Sarah’s breaths come out in shallow pants as she fights to keep herself from rocking against the stone chair she sits on. She gasps when she sees him place his fingers in the woman’s mouth, letting her suck her own juices.

They switch positions—the Goblin King lies back, propped on his elbows while the woman kneels in between his thighs as she frees his impressive erection from his pants. She slowly takes him in her mouth, inch by inch before bobbing her head up and down in slow movements.

Sarah feels another rush of wetness in her core as she sees the euphoric expression on his face, his eyes half closed with lust. His places his hands around the woman’s head and thrusts into her mouth, not roughly, but not gently either. Sarah wonders what it would feel like to have him at her own mercy in that way. So far, the erotic nightmares he sends have only focused on her. What would it feel like if the roles were reversed—if she held him on the brink of orgasm, running her tongue along his length? Sucking lightly on the spongy tissue at the tip? Would he beg her for release? The thought makes her flush.

His movements begin to get more forceful, he feels his cock hit the back of her throat with every thrust. His grip around her head tightens and his muscles tense. He’s close—he tilts his head again, to look into his mortal’s eyes. Her mouth parts open and her tongue darts outside to wet her lower lip. That’s when he comes in the Sky Queen’s mouth in hot, hard spurts—but his gaze remains fixed on his mortal.

A slow smile eases his lips, he’s sure he’ll break her tonight.

--

That night, she sits on her bed as she cranes her neck to look out of her pathetic little window. The Labyrinth looks magical, as if thousands of little fireflies have decided to light up all at once.

“Put us out of our collective misery, precious.” His lilting voice interrupts the dead silence of the room.

She turns around at the sound of his voice, surprised to see him standing at the foot of her bed. He normally leaves her alone at nights, only to return the following evening.

“Goblin King,” she says, her voice shaky as she takes him in—the bastard has shown up wearing navy colored, silk pajama bottoms. His chest is bare, and his hair falls in wild wisps around his face. “What do you want?”

Smiling darkly, he sits next to her—one hand absently plays with a lock of sable hair. “I want you to put us out of our misery, precious. Say yes.” He gathers her long hair in one hand and arranges it on one side of her shoulder—leaving the other side bare.

“I can’t,” she all but pleads. “I’ll do anything else to return the Labyrinth to you. Anything.”

He places an open mouthed kiss on her bare shoulder, his tongue tasting the scent of her skin. “Sarah darling,” he half croons, half whispers, “Do not say things you don’t mean.” He kisses his way up her neck, and along her jawline, his fingers slowly caressing the skin that covers the pulse beating wildly at the base of her neck.

A warm rush of desire crashes through her in waves—the memory of the evening still fresh in her mind. “I can’t,” she whispers back, closing her eyes, losing herself to the tantalizing sensation of his touch.

“Oh Sarah.” He pulls away. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Wait,” she begs, her eyes now wide open as they look at him beseechingly. “Don’t leave me like this.”

His breathing turns heavy when she leans towards him, when she runs her thin fingers down his chest. “Sarah,” he begins, but cuts himself short when she runs her palm over his growing erection. That’s when the Goblin King finally relents.

Perhaps he can give her a taste of pleasure…just a taste, he tells himself.

With a resounding growl, he shoves her so that she’s on her back and encircles both of her wrists with one of his hands. Chuckling darkly as she struggles to free herself, he lowers his face so that it is inches from hers. “My feral mortal,” he croons, before pulling her flimsy nightgown, and jerking the fabric hard enough to make it rip. He throws the ruined garment onto the floor, his voracious eyes taking in every inch of her exposed skin.

She growls right back—a sound that’s a mix of fury and lust. She struggles against his grip, baring her teeth as he laughs. “It’s only sex, Goblin King,” she says, her voice hoarse. “Let’s see if those dreams of yours really live up to reality.” She realizes her mistake just as the words leave her mouth—she has issued him a challenge, and judging by the ravenous expression on his face, it’s a challenge he’s only too pleased to take.

The Goblin King raises a brow—his temper flaring at her insolence. A menacing smile twists his lips, if it’s a challenge his mortal wants, that’s what she’ll get. He places a binding spell on both her wrists, as he situates her arms on either side of her body—he makes sure she’s relaxed, but she cannot move. He can’t help but laugh when she jerks against her invisible chains. At times like these he wonders whether she even realizes what she’s fighting against. After all, isn’t she the one who begged him to stay?

“My precious thing,” he murmurs, his lips touching her ear before kissing his way below her neck. “I don’t think you realize the terms of entrapment.” His lips graze her collar bone, before slowly kissing their way down the valley between her breasts. Stroking the soft skin of her breasts with his fingers, he smiles against her skin when she gasps softly.

He looks into her eyes, not wanting to miss a moment. “I could strip you naked and ask you to kneel by my throne all day,” his tone is mild, as if he’s speaking of the weather. “Or perhaps I’ll let you entertain my council.”

She stops struggling to free her arms, and stares at him, wondering what to make of his very possible threats. “I don’t think you’d do that,” she says slowly. “You’re possessive. You want me for your-” she gasps when she feels his tongue lightly trace her nipple.

“You give me far too much credit, Sa-rah,” he says, his voice mockingly reproachful. “Do not make the mistake of assuming that I wouldn’t resort to those actions. I am not a patient man, and you’ve kept me waiting far too long.” His teeth nip the flesh on the tops of her breasts, hard enough to cause pain but not hard enough to break her flawless, silky skin. Unmarred…as of yet.

Her breathing turns slow and laborious as he places scorching, open mouthed kisses on the undersides of her breasts. His fingers caress her nipples in slow, languid strokes before his hands roughly push her breasts together, his teeth tugging at her hardened nipples.

She throws her head back as a low, agonizing moan escapes her lips, unable to deal with the sheer magnitude of desire he makes her feel. Her hips arch, hoping for some contact. Anything to assuage the acute pulsing knot in her core.

He drinks in her image as a twisted smile graces his face. She lies back, her chest heaving, her breasts protruding out. Her abdominal muscles clench, as if awaiting his touch, and her jade eyes are hazy with lust, hooded by dark, crescent shaped lashes.

“Bend your knees and pull up your legs.”

A thrill runs down her spine—she does as he asks, awaiting his next move. She feels him caress the sensitive skin on the backs of her knees. Her legs tremble with anticipation as they part by their own accord, her feet braced flat on the mattress.

A deep chuckle. “So eager, my sweet,” he murmurs, parting her thighs farther. He places a kiss on the inside of her upper thigh. “What do you want from me, Sa-rah?”

She moans low when his voice rumbles against her fevered flesh. She can almost feel his lips, only millimeters away from her quivering flesh. “Touch me,” she whispers.

“You’re going to have to be more specific than that, precious” he tells her, dark amusement prevalent in his voice. With skilled fingers, he parts her folds until her clitoris peeks out, begging to be flicked. But he doesn’t—not just yet. Grinning wickedly, he blows cool air against her sensitive nub.

She cries out at the sensation, now completely desperate. “Fuck me like you do in my dreams.”

He laughs, his rich voice sweeps through her body in pleasurable waves. “More specific, sweet.”

She grits her teeth. “Pleasure me with your mouth.”

“Oh, Sa-rah,” he lowers his head, breathing in her scent. “I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say.”

She whimpers, feeling his lips so close. The memory of the raven haired woman he’d pleasured before replays in Sarah’s head—the woman’s face flushed in ecstasy, her mouth wide open, her head thrown back. “Jareth, please.”

Her voice—hoarse with need, is music to his ears. “No euphemisms, Sarah,” his tone is harsh and his eyes merciless, “Tell me what you want.”

She keeps silent, her heart thudding in her chest, perspiration beading on her brow. Her inner muscles clench with anticipation—the sensation is agonizing, but she remains silent.

His gaze sharpens with cruel humor. “Come now, precious. You’ve been spirited away from your world, and are literally at my mercy. Yet you’re still hesitant about using your right words.” His grip on her thighs tightens, his touch bordering on painful. “Now tell me what you want.”

Throwing her head back, she squeezes her eyes shut as his voice vibrates around her clit.

The Goblin King’s gaze turns savagely predatory. “I can’t wait to taste you, Sarah, that’s what you want, isn’t it?” His honeyed voice is at odds with the expression on his face. A sadistic smirk twisting his lips when she sucks in a deep breath.

“Yes,” she whimpers. His lips are so close…so close…if she could just move her hips a little….she lets out a frustrated groan when she realizes she cannot, his grip is absolutely arresting.

He laughs—a triumphant sound. “I can’t wait to run my tongue along that wet little cunt of yours,” he breathes his words, his tone low and coaxing. “Do you want me to suckle your clitoris until you come? Or do you want me to fuck you with my tongue, keep you wet and wanting, and taste you in long, slow strokes, until you beg?” He lays kisses along her inner thighs, his tongue reaches out to taste her arousal soaked skin. “I’ll do anything you want, precious—just say your right words.”

She can’t fight the need any longer, his words are driving her utterly insane. Giving in to his demands, she says what he wants to hear. “Devour me,” she says, her lust hooded gaze hooked onto his, “Fuck me with your tongue, your mouth, your teeth.”

His grin is absolutely victorious. “As my lady demands.”

--

 

Chapter Text

--

His grin is absolutely victorious. “As my lady demands.”

The Goblin King is merciful. For once. Instead of prolonging her agony, he devours her with the avid hunger of a man who has been starved for months. His tongue lashes against the pink, swollen folds of her flesh in long, measured strokes—his movements are quick, and his gaze does not waver.

Sarah’s muscles clench at the look of dark promise in his eyes. If he hadn’t secured her arms with magic, she would have run her fingers through his feathery hair—for now, all she can do is look at him helplessly as he pleasures her. 

He continues licking her in hard, quick strokes until he feels her inner muscles tense as she reaches the point of imminent orgasm. Just then, his lips settle on her clit and he suckles the sensitive nub.

She teeters on the edge of release for a fraction of a second, until she feels his pointy teeth nibble on the sensitive flesh of her clitoris. The acute pain pushes her over the brink and she climaxes with a ferocity she’s never experienced before. All the muscles in her body tighten to the point of pain…and then…

release.

Writhing in ecstasy, a low, hoarse moan escapes her throat as ripples of overwhelming rapture wash over her body. The pulse at the base of her neck beats wildly and she struggles to breathe.

His dual eyes are almost black as he drinks her in voraciously—her skin flushed, hair spilled out, and nipples erect. Her luscious mouth opens and she gasps softly as the aftershocks of pleasure still shake her body. Jareth knows that he should leave her—giving her a taste of his considerable skills ensures that she will craves his touch in the future…but he doesn’t.

He is too mesmerized by the writhing mortal to care about the consequences of his actions. Everything about her—her moans, her scent, her lust darkened gaze—renders him completely powerless. He wants… needs…to see her come undone. Again. And again. And again.

“Precious creature,” Jareth murmurs against her ear, placing a soft kiss on her earlobe, “You will bend to my will soon enough.” His fingers rub against her slick flesh, caressing her slit before slowly entering her.

Sarah cries out when he enters her with his fingers. “It’s too soon,” she whimpers—suddenly feeling unbearably sensitive, as if every nerve in her body has come alive.

Is it?” he asks with a harsh grin, his tone as mocking as ever, and his movements unrelenting. He pumps two fingers in and out of her, his pace languid but steady.

Throwing her head back, Sarah lets out a series of short gasps when he touches the spongy tissue deep within her walls. She can’t help but move her hips to his torturous rhythm, her inner muscles clamping against his fingers.

“That’s it,” Jareth murmurs, his voice low and seductive, as he teases her body into arousal again. “Get yourself wet for me, precious.” His own muscles coil with sexual tension, his erection strains against the silky material of his pajama pants. He can’t help but wonder how it would feel to bury himself within her.

His lips twist into a smile as he feels the walls of her cunt clasp his fingers. “You’re about to come, aren’t you?”

She opens her mouth but she cannot speak as sheer desire overpowers her senses.

His smile becomes feral and he tugs her hair, hard. “Answer me, precious.”

“Yes,” she manages to whisper.

“Then stop,” he states, his voice deceivingly soft yet commanding. His fingers, however, ruthlessly continue pumping into her—building the knot of pleasure that throbs within her core. His palm presses against her mound, placing subtle pressure on her clit.

Is he fucking serious?

She grits her teeth, “I can’t.”

A slow laugh. “Oh, but you will, sweet Sarah. If you want me to…continue pleasing you, you will do as I say. Or would you rather I stopped?”

His words echo in her head—images of him spreading her legs wide and pushing into her, flood her mind. “Don’t stop,” she chokes out, biting her lower lip to keep herself from coming. The pain only heightens her pleasure, and she can feel herself going over the edge…almost. Miraculously, she’s somehow able to stave off her pending orgasm—but when he adds a third finger and pumps in and out of her, she all but screams with frustration.

“You know what I’d like to do to you, precious?” Jareth whispers into her ear, his fingers now slowing down just enough to grant her some reprieve. “I’d like to flip you over and take you so hard, you would be sore for weeks. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Blood roars in her ears as new images of him fucking her come into the forefront of her mind. Jesus, he’s going to drive her wild with desire. The throbbing in her cunt is painful—her muscles twitch with pre-orgasmic shocks.

Jareth continues speaking, his dulcet tones as smooth as fine silk. “I’d drive into you hard and fast, Sarah.” His fingers quicken their pace and he smiles as her muscles clench his digits once again—signaling her state of arousal. “Do not come yet.”

She tries telling him to fuck off, but an agonized gasp escapes her lips as soon as she opens her mouth. It takes her a few seconds before she finally finds her voice, “I can’t fucking hold off, you bast-”

Rich, vibrant laughter interrupts her tirade. “You can, my sweet,” he states definitively. His merciless fingers find the spongy tissue deep within her, and he starts rubbing against it.

Sarah lets out a sound between a moan and a growl. Her body is now bathed in sweat and her breaths come out in quick, wheezing pants. She can feel the throbbing knot sit tight within her lower abdomen, ready to spill into insurmountable pleasure.

He looks at her as if she’s the most salacious sight he’s ever seen, laid out before him like a decadent feast—her body taut from trying to hold off her orgasm. Her brow is scrunched up and her mouth is open—she’s teetering on the brink of release, release that only he can grant. The thought gives him a sense of depraved satisfaction.

“Now, precious.” That’s all he says as he hooks his fingers within her while pressing onto her clit with the palm of his hand.

She lets go with a strangled moan. Wave upon wave of pleasure rolls through her as she sobs in relief. Sharp crests of euphoria pass through her body, and she grounds herself against his skilled fingers, prolonging her climax—his fingers continue their erotic assault until she is boneless, her body languidly stretched out until she is utterly spent.

Sarah looks up at him, surprised by the lust she witnesses in his dark gaze. If she had believed that he could gratify her hunger by giving her an orgasm, she is sorely mistaken. If anything, she wants him even more. The damn bastard seems to be a craving that will never be satiated.

“I shall see you tomorrow evening, precious,” Jareth states, rising up to a sitting position, he knows full well that should he remain there a second longer, he is going to lose any semblance of self-control. It is a risk he knows he shouldn’t take.

Eyes widening with surprise, she reaches for him. He can’t leave now…it will render her plan useless. “Don’t leave yet,” she says, her voice breathless but firm, she knows she has to break through his defenses if she wants him to stay. “How many years have you watched me with other men, Jareth? How many times have you fucked me in your dreams?”

Images of her with her various mortal lovers flash through his mind. His already hardened cock throbs painfully as he feels an equal measure of red hot rage and burning lust. “Too many,” his voice comes out hoarse.

“Then why leave now?” she asks, her voice taking on a sultry tone. “Don’t you want to come inside me like you do in my dreams? Fucking me with wild abandon, releasing into me while I come around you.”

He clenches his fists, her words threatening to drive him mad. “Is that what you want?”

She runs her hands down his chest, and up his neck. “More than anything else I’ve ever wanted.” She sits up and runs the tip of her tongue against his nipple, smiling as she feels him shudder. “I wish,” she whispers, placing her face inches from his—her lips hovering against his. “I wish the Goblin King would fuck me. Right now.”

Jareth’s eyes become solidly black for a second before he grips her shoulders with his hands and shoves her onto her back. “Be careful what you wish for, precious Sarah,” he says with a feral grin, “It may come true.”

Sarah lets out a startled gasp when he crushes his mouth to hers in a ruthless, searing kiss. His lips are harsh and unrelenting, as is his tongue as it explores her mouth in rough strokes. His hands part her legs before settling on her breasts, lightly tweaking both her nipples—the gentle touch is a direct contrast to his violent kiss.

He knows he should stop. That he should leave the girl in her sterile prison and take another lover to his bed, to satiate his hunger…but he knows he can’t. He is too far gone, and nothing, no one, is going to alleviate his lust apart from her. With an almost frustrated roar he vanishes his pants and plunges himself into her in hard but measured thrusts.

She moans into his mouth, losing herself to his rhythm. She feels herself grow wetter and slicker with every hard thrust, and at some point, she doesn’t know whether she feels pleasure or agony.

He takes in a deep breath as her breasts press against his chest, her hardened nipples pressing against his skin. He can’t get enough of her hot mouth or the feel of her skin against his—he wants to lose himself within this mortal woman…and so he does. He pounds into her until he feels her muscles tighten around his cock, he moves a hand down between them and lightly strokes her clit with the pad of his thumb.  

She can’t help but cry out when she feels her body tense once more before convulsing with ecstasy. The feeling of him inside her is almost unbearable when his thrusts become rougher and more frequent—she knows he’s close as well. “Come inside me, Jareth,” she whispers in his ear.

The Goblin King gives in to his own release as he follows his feral mortal’s command and empties himself within her.

--

(Hours later)…

Jareth remains on her bed, crushing a feeble crystal against his palm as he contemplates his earlier actions. The bloody room, as useful as it is to house the mortal, shuns magic—so his own has become considerably weak with every second he spends here…even so, he hasn’t left…yet.

Smiling bitterly to himself, he wonders just how he’s ended up in the exact scenario he had wished to avoid. Though perhaps he already knows the answer to that—she’d asked him, taunted him, and like a fool, he had given in to his desires. He devoured her as she asked him to, but in doing so, she has indeed devoured him

So distracted is he by his thoughts, that Jareth doesn’t see Sarah stir beside him, and place her hands on his neck…his chest…her fingers too precise to be caressing. Fire burns in her jade eyes—she knows she has to act fast if she is to enact her plan, and this is a perfect opportunity. In fact, it’s probably her only opportunity.

Moving as fast as she can, Sarah pulls out the pin she had unceremoniously stolen from one of Jareth’s guests, and presses its sharp tip against the beating pulse of his neck. “Goblin King,” she addresses him formally, with as much authority as she can muster, taking out her broken bracelet from underneath the pillow. “You will fix my bracelet and send me back to my grandmother’s house, and you will end whatever it is that you did to me with the rotten peach.”

A flash of surprise passes through Jareth’s impassive face before his lips stretch into a lazy, indifferent smile. If he weren’t in such a vulnerable position, he’d be impressed by her audacity—not many people had managed to surprise him in his long life.

“So you remember the peach,” his voice is smooth, his tone deceptively mild. “Perhaps your memories are coming back after all.”

Sarah’s heart thuds erratically against her ribcage, her fingers tighten their grip on the pin. “Fix my bracelet,” she repeats quietly, her steady voice belying the panic she feels inside.

Jareth merely raises a brow, as if he is completely unconcerned by her threat. “Are you sure you can harm me, precious? Seeing as how I can easily transport using magic…”

“Your magic is weak, Jareth,” she smiles as his eyes narrow…is he really stupid enough to think she wouldn’t notice? “There’s something about this room, I can sense it. You feel different here than you do anywhere else in the castle. I’m guessing you’ve been here long enough that you can’t transport using magic, or you would have done so already.”

“Smart girl.” His bares his teeth in a vicious grin. “Even if you do happen to kill me with your little weapon,” he stresses the words disdainfully, “…how would you ever get back to your world?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sarah replies, gritting her teeth, her resolve hanging by a thread. “I’ll kill you regardless, and I’m guessing you don’t want to lose your life, so restore my fucking bracelet.”

Resonant laughter echoes against stark white walls. “You are such a precious little creature, aren’t you? What a marvelous Queen you’ll make,” he says softly, a hint of amusement flashing in his dual eyes. “The irony in our story is that by consuming the maiden, the beast has condemned himself.”

The beast has condemned himself…?

Her hands tremble for a split second before she tightens her grip—has he gone crazy? He seems to be speaking to himself. The bastard is probably trying to distract her. “I swear, I’ll jam the damn thing right through your neck, Jareth.”

An icy stare. “You would, wouldn’t you?”

She pushes the pin further against his alabaster skin and applies a just a little bit of pressure. The warning in her eyes is indicative of her answer.

“I cannot salvage your thread, Sarah—only the maker can. As for sending you back…” he states with a grim smile, eyes intent on hers, “…you are the rightful proprietor of the Labyrinth, and as such, you will remain here.”

Panic bubbles in her chest and rises up her throat the bitterness prevalent in his tone makes her believe he’s telling the truth. “You don’t want me here anymore than I want to be here,” she tries reasoning with him, forcing herself to remain calm. “We should be working together to figure out how to break this.”

That earns her a hostile laugh. “I’ve spent the last eight years trying to come up with a suitable alternative, sweet. What makes you believe you could contribute anything more?”

It’s on the tip of her tongue to tell him that she’s beaten him before so perhaps she can do it again, but she restrains herself. “I’ve surprised you so far, what do you have to lose? Maybe you can start by taking me to the Labyrinth.” She doesn’t know what she’s going to do—but she has to try something. Perhaps she can start by begging the Labyrinth to switch ‘proprietorship,’ to use his word, back to Jareth.

He holds her challenging gaze for a few seconds before releasing a sigh. “Mortals are easily corrupted by power,” he states, going off on a tangent she doesn’t follow. “They leech onto the smallest trickle of magic. You, precious, have been given a tremendous amount of magic…power you can never be trusted with.”

She gapes at him, thinking it’s ridiculous for him to complain about mortals leeching onto power when he seems to have made her life hell solely for power. A sudden thought enters her head and she cannot stop herself from asking, “I’m guessing the power reverts back to you when I become Queen consort?”

A calculated glance. “In a manner of speaking.”

“What do you plan on doing with me then?”

His expression turns dead cold, causing an odd feeling to creep up her spine. “What do you believe I would do?”

Her breath catches in her throat—he can do anything he damn well pleases.

A slow, cruel laugh, “You’re trembling, precious.”

She swallows the lump in her throat. “You could kill me.”

“My dear, what you must think of me. I’m not such a heartless beast.” His dual eyes are alight with vicious amusement, and his tone is mocking.  

“I don’t believe you.”

Jareth lets out a harsh sigh—this conversation isn’t leading anywhere useful. “Believe what you like, foolish girl. Time is mine to command, and you are a mortal, a weak one at that. Your death need not occur by my hands. However, it’s only fair that your life would be…contained. We don’t want you causing havoc in the Goblin City, like the last time, do we?”

Contained?

Comprehension dawns in her eyes as she understands the full meaning of his words. He’ll keep her locked up, probably in this room. She may as well be a living zombie. The thought gives her strength to carry on with her plan.

“You don’t trust me,” she states rather than asks.

A laconic brow. “You stabbed me with my own knife—missed my heart by a small distance. I’d be a fool to trust you,” his tone is gently reproaching, as if he’s explaining things to a child. “Mortals do not mix well with magic, let alone an ancient, timeless magical entity that is the Labyrinth. Perhaps the power will corrupt you…perhaps you’d try using it to make your dreams come true.”

His words ignite a bright flame of anger in her chest. “I don’t even know what my dreams are, thanks to you,” she hisses. “I’ve spent the last eight years of my life freaking out about my hallucinations getting worse.”

Jareth shrugs, indifferent to her experiences. “Have you really?”

She lets out a growl of anger as it suddenly occurs to her that that was probably his goal. To drive her insane…slowly. “If you had to have me as Queen consort, you wanted to make sure that I was barely functional.” Her face hardens and her gaze turns fierce. “You’ve failed, Goblin King—I’m not that easily broken.”

He wants to laugh at her pathetic display of rage, but the pin held tightly against his pulse stops him. How, in all the realms, had the mortal obtained a copper pin was beyond him—but with the right amount of pressure, he knows that the pin can injure him gravely.

“Clearly not,” he agrees, hoping to soothe her temper. “However, you cannot keep me hostage on your bed forever…perhaps we can come to some sort of agreement, Sa-rah.”

She raises her brows in question. An agreement?

“I shall take you to the Labyrinth, where you will be given one chance to relinquish your hold. Should you succeed, I shall take you back to your world…” he bares his teeth, his tongue running against the pointy tips as he pauses…“and should you fail, you will become Queen consort without any delay.”

She narrows her eyes. “How do I know you’re not lying?”

“That pathetic little weapon of yours is ineffective, precious,” he says with a derisive laugh, it’s not exactly the truth, but not exactly a lie either. “I have no reason to humor you with this particular arrangement—I’m doing so out of choice, hoping that you’ll stop fighting me once your efforts prove to be futile.”

The dead seriousness of his tone convinces her that he’s telling the truth. Her hand wavers a bit as she decides her next steps. She doesn’t know if she has it in her to thrust the pin into his beating pulse…and even if she did, he is correct in stating that she has no other way of getting back. She nods, finally relenting, after considering her options.

“Could you?” he asks, holding out his hand, indicating she surrender her ‘weapon.’

“If my little weapon is so ineffective, why do you want it?” she asks, refusing to relax her hold.

“Very well,” he says with a nonchalant shrug. “Keep it.”

“Will you give me your word that you won’t forcefully take it from me?” She exerts a little more pressure on the pin, studying his reaction.

“Yes,” he says through gritted teeth. The mortal is much smarter than he had originally thought she would be.

She finally lowers the pin—noticing the breath of air he releases afterwards, ever so slowly.

Jareth moves to leave her room, annoyed that she’s manipulated him into letting her keep the damned pin. No matter, he will take it from her the next chance he gets. “Get dressed,” he commands indicating her own clothes that remain folded, in one corner of the otherwise bare room. “I shall return within the hour.”

--

(Many hours later, deep within the Labyrinth)…

Sarah lets out a scream in frustration as sweeping pain engulfs her senses. She’s tried communicating with the Labyrinth for hours, and yet, her efforts have proved to be futile, just as he had told her.

A slow smirk twists the Goblin King’s lips as he rests his back languidly against a gnarled tree, eyeing his mortal with quiet intensity. Communicating with the Labyrinth is painful, even for his kind—for a human, the pain would be worse. “As I said, precious Sarah, there is no point.”

“Wait,” she begs, shutting her eyes, trying to focus. “Five minutes…please.” So far, she’s only been able to feel some vague emotions in her mind…and even then, she doesn’t quite know whether they’re her own emotions, or the Labyrinth’s.

“Very well.” A smile curls his lips as he sees her wince. Poor little Sarah—her frail body trembling in pain. Blood rushes to his groin, and he feels himself harden at the sight. There’s something about seeing her suffer that excites him.

Amidst the mind numbing pain that sweeps through her body, she can feel a sense of helpless struggling—a restless movement—almost like a fish that’s been pulled out of water, its body beating against the air. Sarah concentrates on that feeling—‘what do I have to do to be free?’

Free….

She hears the word clearly in her mind…the restless movement becomes stronger. She now feels as if she’s tightly bound and struggling with all her might to break free of the bonds.

‘Yes, free. What do I have to do?’ she repeats her words.

Free…

The sensation becomes even stronger and she feels suffocated. Can it…? Is it possible that the Labyrinth isn’t repeating her, but that it wants to be free? Of her? Of Jareth?

The next thought comes to her mind instinctively. ‘I’ll set you free if you tell me how to get out of this place.’

Free…

She grits her teeth—why isn’t the damned thing responding? ‘How the fuck do I get out of this place?!’

Everything goes quiet for a few seconds, and she’s left wondering if the Labyrinth is gone, before a strong wind crashes into her.

‘Pierce the King’s heart, rip out your essence, and you shall be free of him.’ The Labyrinth speaks in her mind, but her ears hurt, as if someone’s been shouting directly into them. The pain increases and she holds her hands against her ears.

Pierce his heart…how?...and with what? She has been resourceful enough to place the pin in her pocket…but then, he’d told her that the pin was ineffective. Still, seeing as to how that is the only weapon she has on herself, she decides to try and use it.

“Sarah?”

Just like that, the pain stops and she finds herself looking directly into the Goblin King’s calculating gaze.

Keeping silent, he stares back at her, eyes glittering with cold emotion. “The Labyrinth spoke to you.” His voice is edged with a specific sharpness she hasn’t heard from him before. “What did it say?”

Keep calm, Williams…you get one chance, keep – the fuck – calm.

She comes up with a quick lie. “It said I was bound forever,” she whispers, her voice shaky. Her eyes dart to his chest. She can still hear the Labyrinth’s raspy voice in her head, ‘Pierce the King’s heart.’ Her fingers grip the pin in her pocket. “I guess I failed.”

He walks towards her with a slow smile. “Don’t look so rattled, precious creature. Your life here will be…adequate…as long as you do not cross me.”

Pierce the King’s heart.

Standing next to her, Jareth holds out a gloved hand. “Come, we shall return to the castle.”

She looks him in the eyes, her breathing surprisingly calm, in spite of her tumultuous internal dialogue.

One chance, Williams, you only get one chance. Do not fuck it up.

And just like that, her limbs move, as if by their own accord, and she pushes the sharp, metallic pin right into Jareth’s beating heart with as much force as she can manage before springing away from him.

To say the Goblin King is shocked is an understatement. His bow shaped lips part in pain as the pin pierces his chest. Still, the weapon isn’t large enough to be fatal, so he staggers only for a few seconds before he is able to pull it out. Face contorting with rage, he lunges for the foolish mortal who has stabbed him not once, but twice.

Sarah jumps out of his reach—the terrifying expression of fury on his face makes her blood freeze. “Send me back,” she shouts loudly at the Labyrinth, without bothering to speak into her mind silently as she’d done before.

Set me free, mortal…

She screams as she runs for her life, away from the raging monarch, as fast as she can. “You’re free of me, I declare you free. Just fucking send me back.”

We require a blood sacrifice…

Blood sacrifice? Stupid fucking maze! Couldn’t the damned thing have told her about the blood sacrifice earlier?

Distracted by her racing thoughts, Sarah stumbles on a pebble—she braces her fall with her arms, but one foot twists underneath her weight. Raw pain emanating from her right ankle stops her from standing up and she lifts up her jeans to see that the ankle is twisted in an unnatural angle, blood pools to the surface, but the skin doesn’t break. Tears bite her eyes as she realizes she’s helpless.

“My poor darling,” Jareth lilts as he stalks towards her, his pace graceful and leisured, as if he has all the time in the world. His clothing remains unmarred, as if she’d never stabbed him through the heart.

She whimpers, trying to drag her body away from him.

His dual gaze blazes in victory—she looks so utterly defeated. “I suppose I should thank you as you did manage to dislodge yourself from within my cold, cold heart.” He smiles a disarming smile, a smile that would have been charming were it not paired with the look of icy fury in his eyes.  

She raises her eyes to meet his, unable to speak a single word. How the fuck had the bastard managed to heal himself so quickly? How had she ever thought she stood a chance against him?

His smile deepens as he sees her panic, his razor sharp teeth reflect the silvery glow of moonlight. “This isn’t very fortunate for you, precious, as I no longer possess the…shall we say, emotions…to be even the slightest bit concerned for your wellbeing.”

Her eyes widen even more. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Did that mean he’d kill her? Or perhaps worse?

“What do I fucking do?” she screams out loud at the Labyrinth, not caring that she looks like a stark raving lunatic.

We require a blood sacrifice…

“I don’t know about you,” Jareth answers her query even though the question isn’t meant for him. “I, however, think it’s time you were better acquainted with my dungeons.”

She doesn’t stop to think—perhaps it’s seeing him display his teeth or her own primal sense of self-preservation when he mentions his dungeons—she pierces her skin with the only tools she has at her disposal. With as much strength as she can manage, she bites into the fleshy part of her forearm…as if she’s a savage beast feasting on her own flesh.

Eyeing her strange actions curiously, he doesn’t quite realize what she’s doing until he sees her squeeze her flesh. He dives for her, damning himself for ever having brought her to the Labyrinth in the first place…

…only to find empty space. He’s too late, drops of her blood have been absorbed by the Labyrinth and the bargain is complete.

--

The last thing she sees is the Goblin King’s wild face, coming straight at her, before her world turns black.

--

 

Chapter Text

 

--

The last thing she sees is the Goblin King’s wild face, coming straight at her, before her world turns black.

--

(7 years later, Dr. Gold’s office)…

“So…two years, that’s a significant amount of time. What do you suppose the next steps are, Sarah?”

She purses her lips, she knows what the next steps are. She just doesn’t want to acknowledge them. Seven years later, she still can’t shake him off completely. “Brad thinks it’s a 1.5 carat, princess cut, Tiffany’s ring.”

The doctor raises her brows. “That’s very precise.”

Sarah has the good grace to look sheepish. “I went over his search history.”

“You felt the need to invade his privacy…why do you suppose that is?”

She sighs. “I had a feeling he was shopping for rings and I just wanted to make sure before…”

“Before you what?” Dr. Gold asks, adjusting her glasses, her expression curious. Sarah Williams had made remarkable progress in the last few years. So much so that she only needed to see a psychiatrist once a month. Even then, the doctor can’t help but feel as if she’s missing something.

“Before I broke up.” Sarah’s voice is small but resolute.

It’s the doctor’s turn to sigh. “Sarah, your hallucinations have ended, entirely and you are medication free. You’ve changed careers and have progressed remarkably well. Why do you feel so…undeserving of commitment.”

“It isn’t safe,” Sarah states, her jade eyes hazy, as if she’s lost in her thoughts. Seven years ago, she’d found herself back in her grandmother’s mansion, completely unharmed. She’d spent the next few days hiding in her apartment as waves upon waves of memories cleared up in her mind, as if coming back to life from hibernation. She remembered everything—wishing Toby away, fighting through the Labyrinth, spurning the Goblin King’s last offer—everything. These repressed memories only worked to make her more terrified that he was out for vengeance.

However, as days turned into months, and months into years, she’d begun to let her guard down.

Of course, she’d gone to her former roommate and harassed her about the red bracelet. She’d obtained one for herself and all of her family members—who’d humored her. Fortunately, they still humor her. She knows that one day in the future, they will not—and she’ll have to come up with something else to protect them.

“…Sarah?”

She snaps out of her thoughts. “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

“Why do you feel it isn’t safe? Who isn’t safe?”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she says with a fake smile, one she’s learned to master in the last few years. “Just that I don’t feel like long term commitment is the right thing for me…at this point.”

“Ah yes, your ex.”

“Yup,” she says with an easy smile—another fake one. She’d told Dr. Gold that her whole ‘lack of sexual fulfilment’ issues was because of an ex she was hung up upon—this particular tactic has worked to placate the doctor on that matter. “I don’t think I’m ready…yet.”

“But Sarah, you may never be ready,” Dr. Gold says with a tsk. “Have you considered that? What would you do then?”

Sarah shrugs. “I’m okay with never getting married, I guess.” That is the truth.

“What of your grandmother’s estate, everything settled there?” The doctor asks, changing the subject—she doesn’t want to push Sarah too hard, as she has a tendency to withdraw.

Sarah nods. Nana had passed away peacefully a few months ago. “Yup, I donated a lot of the old furniture and silverware to the New Hampshire Historical Society—the house was sold to a developer who wants to construct a resort in its place.”

“So you hold no sentimental ties to the mansion? I believe that’s the last connection you had to your mother.”

Sarah smiles. “I do, but I’ve decided to embrace the future instead of dwelling in the past.”

--

(Later that night, Sarah’s apartment)…

She screams, her eyes taking in the sight in front of her. Her boyfriend, Brad, lies on the floor, blood gushing out of a cut on his neck—he isn’t moving. She seems to be huddled on her couch, her hand clutching a broken shard of glass.

What the fuck…she doesn’t quiet remember how she got here.

And just like that, the lights in her apartment turn dim, the shadows become darker, and the moonlight more pale.

“Hello, Sa-rah.”

Her voice dies in her throat and her screams stop once she hears that voice. It’s his voice—she can recognize it anywhere.

“You,” she whispers, looking up to see the devil himself stand in her living room, looking exactly as he did when she’d left him last. His hair wild, his eyes wilder still.

“Yes, my sweet, me,” he states, a hint of humor lacing his dulcet tones. “Is this the same normal boy you spoke of in your grandmother’s house?” he asks, nudging Brad’s unmoving body with a booted leg, his lips stretched in a smile that’s almost obscene.

Her heart thuds painfully fast as she gapes at the bloody body on the floor. “What have you done to him?”

 “I, my sweet?” he asks with a raised brow. “It looks to me as if you’ve murdered your lover in a rage. Now why would you do something like that, silly girl?”

The only thing she can hear is the sound of her own heart beating against her chest in a made frenzy. Turning her head, she looks at the bloodied shard of a broken glass in her hand. “That’s impossible.”

A teasing laugh. “Poor little mad Sarah, just snapped one day and cut her lover’s throat. Makes for an interesting story, don’t you think?” He walks across the room, his booted heels leaving bloody footprints on the floor, until he stands next to her huddled form.

“That’s impossible,” she keeps murmuring to herself, over and over again while he laughs quietly at her distress. With a sudden flash of fire in her eyes, she looks at the delighted monarch before uttering the words that had rendered him powerless a decade and a half earlier, “You have no power over me.”

-There’s pin drop silence in the room as the Goblin King stops laughing-

A slow head tilt. “I suppose not.” With a wave of his gloved hand, the body on the floor disappears, along with the blood and piece of glass in Sarah’s hand.

Relief floods her senses as her living room returns to its pristine condition, before blistering rage takes over. “What the fuck do you want this time, Goblin King—I can’t give you the Labyrinth.”

He eyes her intently for a few moments before sauntering over to the arm chair that sits opposite the couch, and sinking in fluidly to a seated position. “I’m not here to take anything from you, sweet Sarah,” his voice is mild, but there’s an undercurrent of strong emotion threatening to break into the surface. “I’m here for vengeance.”

Her lungs burn with every breath she takes, but she cannot move. “Then why did you wait so long?”

His dual eyes flicker with amusement. “Seven mortal years is a blink of an eye for me, precious. As for why I waited…at all…let’s just say that a King who’s bested by a mortal, not once, but twice, is seen as weak. Weak enough that surrounding kingdoms may invade, and try to take his lands, his subjects, his magic, for themselves.”

“I don’t understand-” she begins, but she’s cut off by a wave of his hand.

“I was involved in various wars that ended in my favor. I’m not one for bloodlust but, the last seven years were, let us say, adequate to satiate my aggression.” He looks away, as if lost in his thoughts. “However, the Labyrinth remains out of my grasp—you’ve cost me an immeasurable source of power, precious Sarah.”

She clenches her fists. “You gave me no choice,” her voice wavers, but she does not refrain from speaking her mind. He had given her no choice—she wasn’t going to give up her life and be some zombie Queen consort just so he could get some power back.

“Didn’t you?” he asks with a raised brow. “Was being Queen consort such a terrible prospect?”

Determination flares in her eyes. “I would literally be at your mercy—you’d keep me imprisoned in that white room.”

A cruel smile. “I suppose.”

Bastard. “I’ve taken enough measures of protection for myself, as well as my family, so you can take your vengeance and fuck off.”

Throwing back his feathery head, the Goblin King laughs with wild abandon. How he’s missed her fire. “Ah yes, but what of poor Brad. You didn’t extend your protection to him…why’s that, Sarah?”

Her eyes turn just a shade colder. “Because he doesn’t matter in the long run. I was thinking of breaking up with him tonight.”

“Poor, unfortunate Brad,” he teases, malice tangible in his voice. “How very cruel of you to set him aside so casually, precious.”

She grits her teeth. “Are you here for vengeance or are you here to give a running commentary on my life?”

He chuckles darkly. “Perhaps a bit of both,” he states, standing up with dramatic flourish. “I hear dear Brad approaching—it’s best if I leave you now.”

“What about vengeance?” she asks, brows raised quizzically. He hasn’t caused too much damage so far—she’s afraid he’s going to spring up on her when she least expects it.

A slow smile and a flash of teeth. “I believe in savoring my revenge, my dear,” he bows. “Until next time.” That’s all he says before fading into nothingness.

She stares at the empty space until a sudden knock on her door startles her, and she hears Brad’s voice call her from outside.

--

Fin