Chapter 8: Mi Casa es Tu Casa
It was December the twenty first and Sarah sat in the bay window in the salon of her family's Victorian home. In the twelve days Jareth had been gone, there had been a monster of a blizzard, leaving some homes without electricity for several hours until emergency crews had righted the situation. Now though, it snowed lightly. Large bits of white fluff drifted lazily from the gray overcast sky to add to the already giant piles of snow. Sarah rolled her eyes; Mother Nature was taking the "white Christmas" thing just a bit too far.
She glanced at the clock; it was six o' seven and dinner would be served at six thirty. Jareth was late… again. Maybe the goblins needed another firm talking to? Or perhaps he'd been found out by the fae who're watching him? Sarah slumped against the cool windowpane, her breath fogging the immediate vicinity. This was worse than Thanksgiving. The waiting seemed so much more intense and interminable. Of course that could be because she didn't have relatives to host this time.
"Where is he?" she muttered to herself, trying to see in between the large flakes of snow.
"What's that, Sarah honey?" her father asked as he entered the salon, newspaper in hand.
"Nothing, dad. I'm just wondering where Jareth is. He said he'd be here at six."
Her father made a non-committal grunt as he lowered himself into a brown leather chair. "Maybe he got caught up in traffic?"
Sarah snorted a bit, "Yeah, maybe…"
Her father took a sip of coffee. "Which direction does he come from?"
"Umm… down?" Sarah offered.
"There's a lot of traffic on the interstate this time of day. He'll probably be here soon."
"Thanks dad," she commented before glancing at the clock again.
It was now nearly twenty minutes past six. Karen would be serving dinner soon. She sighed and turned back to the window. The snow was falling thicker now. It was getting difficult to see the houses at the end of the block. She sincerely hoped this wouldn't turn into another blizzard. There was already a total of eighteen inches of snow on the ground. They really didn't need any more.
A loud knocking interrupted her thoughts and she jerked slightly, nearly falling off the window seat. Her father had just barely started to rise when she darted out of the salon, barely slowing to turn the corner into the front hall. She pulled the door open violently to see the tall, pale, blond fae she'd been expecting, but there was something off. He didn't have the dignified regal air he usually held. Instead, he was slumped against the doorframe and there were dark circles under his eyes. His usually untamable hair lay dully against his skull, the sheen gone. "Jareth," she whispered. "What's wrong?" She moved to help him inside, ducking under his arm to support him.
He leaned against her, but she could tell he was trying to support the majority of his own weight. "It's nothing, love. I'm just a bit tired," he answered, his voice low and worn out.
"You look like you've been awake for days!" she commented pulling him towards the bench that sat in the front hall.
He groaned as his body slumped down on the wooden bench. She turned and closed the front door after making sure he wouldn't fall over. "Jareth, if you're this exhausted, you should have stayed home and rested. I wouldn't have minded. Well… I would've, but I would've understood."
"I assure you, it's nothing, Sarah. I'll be fine after a moment," he tried to reassure her, but she didn't buy it considering the fact that he closed his eyes and looked ready to fall asleep on the spot.
"Jareth, as much as I am glad to see you, I think you should go home. You're exhausted and need some rest. I doubt you could even make it through dinner."
"In my right pocket," he murmured, shifting slightly to make it more accessible.
Sarah reached in the pocket; her fingers met a small rounded glass bottle. She pulled it out to see a potion bottle with a brilliant blue liquid sloshing around in it. "What is this?" she asked swirling the stuff a little.
"Uncork it for me please and give it here."
She did as asked and handed the bottle to him. He slugged the entire contents in one go, letting his arm fall to his side when he'd finished. "Jareth, what was that?"
"A revitalization potion. It's similar to your energy drinks, only about ten times more potent."
She gave him a once over and noticed that the circles under his eyes seemed to shrink and his hair looked a little less dull. "Sarah?" she heard her father call. "Is that Jareth?"
"Uh, yes, dad!" she called out.
She glanced back at Jareth to see he was now standing and looked to be his normal self… well… as normal as a fae can look in human glamour. Her father turned the corner into the front hall and took in the two of them standing close together. "Everything okay in here?"
"Yes, just catching up," Sarah answered nonchalantly.
"Uh huh…" he muttered eyeing Jareth. "Karen says dinner is ready." He didn't move toward the room though and made a motion with his hand indicating for them to precede him.
"It's very nice of you to welcome me into your home like this, sir," Jareth said before grasping Sarah's hand and moving toward the dining room.
"Uh huh," he repeated, following the couple.
They arrived in the dining room to find Karen had already set the food on the table. A large bowl held linguini, another held Alfredo sauce, and several smaller bowls held diced chicken, broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms and peppers along with a plate of garlic bread slices. Her father moved to the head of the table, his usual spot. Karen took the spot to his right and Sarah to his left to act as a buffer between him and Jareth. Toby sat next to Karen.
Karen said a quick prayer and they started to dish up and eat. "Wine, Jareth?" Karen asked holding a bottle of white Zinfandel.
"Yes, thank you."
Sarah took a sip of her own wine, feeling that some liquid courage might be in order. "This is quite delicious, Mrs. Williams," Jareth complimented after a few bites.
"Thank you, Jareth. And you can just call me Karen, if you please," she smiled at him.
He nodded and turned his head towards Sarah's father. "You have a wonderful family, Mr. Williams, and a lovely home," Jareth said trying to break the tension.
"Thank you," he replied, making no indication that Jareth should address him as anything but Mr. Williams. "What about you, Jareth? What's your home like?"
Jareth finished chewing before answering. "Well, my mother and father live in a country home in England near Oxford. Father has a passion for knowledge and when he's not busy at the office spends time at the university. He's been a guest lecturer several times. Mother enjoys hosting gatherings and has a usual teatime set up with some of the local women around her age. However she also helps with the family business from home too."
"Any siblings?" Sarah's father asked.
"No. I'm an only child. Probably a bit spoiled because of it too," Jareth admitted with a grin.
"I imagine so," Mr. Williams commented.
"Dad! Be nice!" Sarah reprimanded giving him a bit of a glare.
The rest of dinner passed in casual conversation. Toby even spoke up once or twice. Afterwards, they moved into the salon for drinks and Karen's famous strawberry pie for dessert. Her father was much more civil towards Jareth, or at least pretended to be. Jareth answered several more questions about his home and Sarah began to wonder just how much was made up and how close some of it was to truth. She smiled at the thought of Jareth running around Oxford as a boy.
She glanced over at the monarch beside her to see that the dark circles were returning under his eyes and he was resting more heavily against the sofa. She squeezed his hand slightly and gave him a concerned look when he turned to look at her. He tried to reassure her with a squeeze back, but she wasn't buying it. It had been a few hours since he'd taken the potion; apparently its effects didn't last long. She turned to her father who was telling Toby to start cleaning up his toys and get ready for bed. "Dad, Jareth and I are going up to my room for a while, okay? "
He gave her a look that clearly said he was not okay with this, but Karen laid a hand on his arm. "Of course, Sarah. You two haven't really had any alone time for a while. I imagine you'd like to catch up," she said. "Oh and Jareth, you're welcome to stay the night if you like," she commented looking out the window at the thick snow falling.
"Thank you, Karen, I'll keep that in mind," Jareth replied rising with a little help from Sarah.
Sarah stayed under his arm as they walked out of the salon. She could hear Karen and her father talking in low voices. Apparently he was concerned about a man being in his daughter's bedroom, but Karen was defending Sarah adamantly. She smiled, grateful for her stepmother's understanding.
Sarah put her concentration into helping Jareth up the stairs then. She could tell that he was once again trying to support most of his own weight, but his legs were shaking slightly under the strain. Once in her bedroom, she closed the door gently and helped him to her bed. He was content to sit there, but she pushed him back against the pillows and he didn't put up much resistance. "Jareth, why are you so tired?" she asked sitting down on the edge of the bed next to his hip.
He squeezed her hand again before answering. "I've been awake for about five days now," he replied.
"What! How is that even possible?"
"The revitalization potion… usually it lasts much longer than a few hours, but I've been taking it so steadily over the past few days that I'm becoming immune to it."
"What could possibly be so important that you would need to stay awake for five days, Jareth?"
He let out a sigh and lifted his free hand to run through his lank hair. "More of the trouble I was telling you about last time. I've been awake trying to cover up things, make deals with some, and get help from others."
Sarah frowned at him and shifted so that she was now lying beside him on her narrow bed. She placed one hand on his chest and kept her other hand grasped tight in his. Her face nuzzled into his shoulder. "As much as I'd like to yell at you and be angry with you, you can barely keep your eyes open. So our serious conversation will have to keep for a while. I want you to sleep, now."
"Sarah… I need to head back soon."
"No. You're so tired you probably can't even transport yourself back just now."
Jareth groaned, but didn't move to get up at all. "The sad part is, you're probably right."
"So sleep. They won't miss you too much if you're only gone for a few hours. Besides, you said something about most of your subjects being inebriated tonight… I'm sure they won't be waking up till late tomorrow."
"It's the ones who aren't inebriated that I'm worried about."
"Well they can just make due without you. You're the king, aren't you?"
"It's more complicated than that," he muttered.
"I'm sure it is, but you need sleep."
He grumbled something that Sarah couldn't quite make out and relaxed further into her bed. She smiled when she saw that his breathing had evened out and he was resting peacefully. She got up to remove his shoes. His glamour had faded when he'd fallen asleep, but with how fatigued he was, his appearance was so dull that he could pass for a human, a very beautiful human, but still human. She sat back down beside him and picked up his hand, idly tracing the veins along his wrist as she thought of what could possibly be causing so much trouble down in the Underground. Eventually she decided that she would find out when Jareth told her and not before, so she rose and picked up a favorite book from her shelf and resumed her position next to her fae monarch.
It was a couple hours later when a light knocking at her door announced Karen's presence. "Sarah?" she asked poking her head in the door. Sarah looked up from her book. Karen took in the slumbering man on the bed then looked back at her stepdaughter. "I thought he looked tired after dinner. Is he okay?"
Sarah nodded. "Yeah, I think so, but he's been pushing himself lately. He just really needs some sleep." She gently brushed some hair out of his face as she gazed down at him.
Karen nodded, taking in the look Sarah was giving this man. "Well considering how exhausted he is, I think I'm going to have to insist he stay for the night. And obviously we can't disturb him now, so he'll just sleep here."
The younger woman looked up at her stepmother, surprised that she didn't ask if Sarah wanted her to make up the guest room for her. Karen merely smiled and backed out of the door. "I'll tell your father," she said before closing the door.
Sarah sighed and let out a quiet 'thanks'. It was really quite courageous of Karen to take this bullet for Sarah. She could only imagine her father's response to the knowledge that there was a man sleeping in his daughter's room with her… in the same bed. She giggled at the thought as she rose to put on her pajamas and brush her teeth. When she returned, Jareth hadn't moved an inch. She put her hands on her hips as she contemplated the fact that he was lying on top of her blankets. As though a light bulb had suddenly gone off above her head, she walked back out into the hall to the linen closet and pulled a large spare blanket from the top shelf and brought it back into the room with her. Lying down next to his royal majesty, who was taking up most of the bed, she covered them both and went back to reading her book for a while before she snuggled down next to him and fell asleep.
It was very early the next morning only a couple hours after falling asleep, when Sarah awoke from the sudden movement of Jareth leaving her side. He moved with quick precision off the bed and through her bedroom door. It took a few seconds for her to realize this though and for her to jump up to follow him. It wasn't difficult to find where he'd gone seeing as there was a loud retching sound coming from the bathroom. Slowly, she entered to see the Goblin King bent over the porcelain god, tasting dinner for the second time around. He looked so helpless and fragile that she couldn't help herself from soothing him. She pulled his hair out of his face and held it back for him while rubbing soothing circles on his back while he threw up again.
Once he'd completely emptied his stomach, he slumped against the toilet, resting his head against the cool porcelain. "Are you okay?" Sarah asked, knowing it was a dumb question.
"I'm better now," he replied. "I'm sorry you had to see that."
"Don't be, it happens to the best of us. Do you know what caused it?"
"I'm pretty sure it was the mixture of the revitalization potion and the wine at dinner," he groaned raising his head.
Sarah stood and filled a paper Dixie cup with water, handing to the fae. He took it gratefully, swishing the water in his mouth before spitting it back out into the toilet and flushing. When he stood, he wobbled slightly and Sarah rushed to stabilize him. "You want some mouth wash?"
"Yeah, you know, like Listerine? It helps to get rid of the sick taste."
He nodded and she moved to the sink and opened up the mirror cabinet, pulling out a clear plastic bottle with blue liquid inside. She poured some in another Dixie cup and handed to him. "Here, rinse for a few seconds then spit it out. Just a warning, it kinda burns."
He took the cup and rinsed again. "Thank you, love," he murmured once he was finished. "For being here."
"No thanks are necessary. You wanna go back to bed?"
Jareth nodded again and leaned against Sarah as she led the way back to the bedroom. He fell back asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow and Sarah strongly suspected that he would sleep soundly for quite a few more hours. After all, he had five days worth of sleep to catch up on. She felt so bad for him, first the trouble in his kingdom and not getting enough rest and now getting sick. Gently, she traced her fingers along his cheek and settled in beside him, falling back asleep shortly thereafter.
o O o O o O o
"Sarah? Jareth?" a soft voice called from the doorway later that morning.
Sarah grumbled, but opened her eyes to see Karen poking her head in. "What?"
"Just letting you know breakfast will be ready in fifteen," she answered. Her eyes wandered over the two of them on the bed before she exited, pulling the door closed with her.
Sarah looked down to see that she was half draped over Jareth. Their legs were tangled and she was nearly lying on top of his chest. Groaning, she plunked her head back down on his shoulder. This was not how she wanted her stepmother to see her first thing in the morning, despite the woman's support of her and Jareth. For his part, Jareth hadn't looked to have moved much from where he'd fallen after the bathroom incident.
She glanced at the clock to see that it was almost nine. Minus the half hour they'd woken up for earlier that morning, Jareth had gotten about ten hours of sleep. She knew that it was scientifically impossible to 'catch up on sleep' and that if Jareth slept much longer, he would be lethargic all day. "Jareth," she whispered, shaking his shoulder. He groaned and turned on his side away from her. "Jareth, come on, get up."
He grumbled something indistinct, but Sarah thought she heard the words 'goblin' and 'chickens'. She giggled a little before rising and walking around the end of the bed to the side he was facing. She knelt down and looked at the peaceful expression on Jareth's face. "Come on sleepy head. Time for breakfast."
"Still tired," he muttered.
"Yeah well, I thought you had to get back to the Underground?"
At this, Jareth's eyes snapped open and he sat bolt up straight in the bed. His fly-away hair in even more disarray than usual and his eyes wide and searching the room as though trying to figure out where he was. After a minute, he relaxed and turned to face Sarah. "Good morning, love. What time is it?" he asked once he remembered what'd happened last night.
"Almost nine. Karen said breakfast is almost ready." He groaned as he swung his legs off the bed. "Still not feeling well?"
"Just a bit of a headache, but I suspect that'll go soon as well."
He rose and stretched, leaving Sarah helpless as she stared at the play of muscle and tendon under his t-shirt. He grinned at the effect he had on her. "Come, love. I'll break my fast with you and then I really must be going. I need to set right what the goblins have messed up after last night."
He snorted. "You have no idea."
She chuckled a little as she drew on her pale pink silk housecoat. Jareth took some time to admire her before pulling his shoes on and taking her arm as they exited the room and descended the stairs together.
Breakfast passed far too quickly and Sarah and Jareth found themselves saying goodbye at the front door sooner than they expected. "Promise me that you won't take that revitalization potion again," Sarah pleaded, squeezing his hands with her own.
He studied her worried face and leaned down to kiss her chastely. "I promise."
"Thank you," she whispered as she hugged him close. "When do you think we'll see each other again?"
He tightened his arms around her as he answered, "I'm not sure. There are some things I need to take care of before I can even attempt to come back."
Sarah nodded into his chest and rose up on her toes to give him one last kiss. "Don't stay away too long," she pleaded.
"I'll try to contact you some how later to let you know how things are going."
"Now, I really do have to go."
"Okay," she replied again, but didn't loosen her hold.
Jareth chuckled and pulled her into a deeply passionate kiss. His lips slid over hers and his tongue probed her lips seeking entrance. She opened for him and commenced the duel between their two tongues, both looking for dominance, neither willing to submit. The broke apart after a minute, silently declaring a tie. "I love you," Sarah whispered.
"I love you too, precious," he replied before pulling away and walking out to the silver Aston Martin that he pretended to own as a human.
Sarah watched him until he'd turned the corner of her street and disappeared. Letting out a sigh, she resigned herself to the long wait that she was sure to have.