I can't hear this song without having millions of little Plot Goblins go scurrying through my mind. Especially since it's by Owl City.
Coincidence? I think NOT!
Sarah jumped as she heard the silken voice at her ear, clutching her drink so tightly that it almost spilled.
'How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?' she hissed. She glanced around at her friends, who were seated around the table with her, to see how they reacted to this sudden presence at her shoulder. The girls were all looking on in interest, smiling and licking their lips, while the guys were squaring their shoulders and deepening their voices, suddenly faced with an obvious alpha male.
'I had to get close if I wanted you to hear me,' he told her, his breath a susurration in her hair. His lips brushed the shell of her ear, and she shivered involuntarily. He pulled back, and even though she couldn't see him she knew that he was smirking.
'Sarah, who's your friend?' Jessica asked over the pounding music, and Sarah stuttered, at a loss for what to say. He had never approached her in public before.
'Um...this is Jareth. But he is not my friend. Give me a sec,' she added, getting to her feet and turning around to face him. He was closer than she had expected, though, and she found herself standing less than an inch away from him, craning her neck to look up at him, their bodies almost touching. Cheeks flushing, Sarah stumbled and would have fallen if his hands hadn't sprung to her waist to steady her.
'And how are you this evening, Precious?'
'What are you doing here?' she replied, ignoring his question. The answer was that she was tired from a long week, giddy with relief that it was over, exhausted from dancing and slightly tipsy, but she wasn't going to tell him that.
'I came to see you, of course.'
This wasn't all that uncommon, although he usually came to see her when she was alone. It had been hard to get used to him, but eventually she had come to terms with the fact that he was determined to remain a part of her life, for better or for worse. These days, it was mostly for better. Not that she would ever admit it.
If not open friendship, at least some sort of companionship had grown between them. It had taken her a few years to figure out that during her adventure in the Labyrinth he had, in fact, been very generous, more kind than anyone had ever been to her. Then, his role had been mostly as a teacher, though...he hadn't really expected her to give in to him, and had in fact made sure that she was able to fight him. But then she'd only been fifteen. She was older now, and it was becoming more and more clear that his interest in her was definitely more than to teach her life lessons.
'Duh. I meant why now? I'm with people.'
'So? Did you think that we would keep out relationship secret forever? Surely you will want your friends to come to our wedding.'
'Hey, woah. Aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself there?'
'Not in the slightest,' he answered, pulling her closer, so that she was pressed against him, hip to hip, breast to chest. 'I have already sent out invitations.'
'You need to get over yourself, you know that?' she told him, trying vainly to control her treacherous mind, which was going crazy at the feel of his body flush with hers.
'No,' he replied, 'you need to get over yourself and realize that we were meant to be together. Trust me; it was written in the stars.'
'Really?' she asked, suddenly worried. What if they were destined to be together? If it was in the stars, that was pretty convincing...
He laughed, and dropped a kiss on top of her head, stepping back.
'You would really believe anything I told you, wouldn't you?'
He laughed again. 'Come and dance with me.'
'Why the hell would I dance with you?'
'Well, we are engaged...'
'Last time I danced with you, you drugged me.'
'Come on, Precious. You know you want to.'
Damn him, she did want to. It wasn't fair for him to be so hot.
'In your dreams.'
'Oh, trust me, Precious,' he told her, 'in my dreams we do far more than just dance.'
'Okay, time for you to leave. Bye-bye.' Hopefully it was too dark for him to see how red she had turned.
'You know that I will not leave you alone until you dance with me.'
'Eat dirt and die,' she told him, turning around to sit back down. He caught her before she could move, though, and pulling her against him again. One arm wrapped around her shoulder and the other crossed her stomach, keeping her immobile, her back pinned to the hard plains of his chest. She could see her friends now, watching her with curiosity, excitement and jealousy.
'Do you think you could spare me Sarah for a moment?' Jareth asked them, his breath stirring across her cheek. 'She had promised me a dance.'
'I haven't promised you anything,' she told him, but her girlfriends were nodding at her, encouraging her to go. She sighed.
'And you will leave if I dance with you?'
'If, after our dance, you still desire my departure, I shall oblige you.'
'Okay, fine,' she sighed. He was ridiculously hard to say no to when she didn't already have a speech memorised. Needing no further encouragement, Jareth swept her off her feet, ignoring her yelp of surprise, and pulled her into the throng on the dancefloor as a new song began.
You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep...
Huh, thought Sarah as Jareth settled her hands behind her neck and rested his own on her hips. I could believeanything. Ten million fireflies are nothing, tra la la, compared to what I've seen.
'Cause they'd fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude
But I would just stand and stare...
Nope, staring was probably the reaction most people would have if ten million fireflies appeared.
'Just relax, precious,' Jareth whispered, and she felt herself shiver again. Memories of that last time they had danced flashed through her mind, suddenly far more romantic, sensual and erotic than usual. It was hard to think straight, so close to him. Why had she agreed to do this?
I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay
Awake when I'm asleep...
'Cause everything is never as it seems...
Sarah stiffened. It seemed like far too much of a coincidence that that should be a line in the song they danced too. She looked suspiciously up at him, and he smiled tenderly down at her.
'What is this band called?' he asked.
Sarah had heard ot them somewhere, vaguely remembered the melody, although she had never paid attention to the lyrics before. 'Owl City,' she said after a moment, then laughed. Once again, a little bit too much coincidence.
'Interesting lyrics. Why would anyone want to stay awake, Sarah...when they could be dreaming?' He lowered his face to hers, his lips moving against her cheek.
'Because,' she answered, 'um, because...' Because why, again? Why didn't she agree to go Underground with him, enter the dreamworld that he offered? 'Because I don't love you,' she said, and then blushed furiously as she remembered what he had actually asked. He laughed, his chest reverberating, sending vibrations travelling through her body.
'So you say, Precious, and perhaps it even seems that way. But as we know...everything is never as it seems.'
'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance
Once again, Sarah found herself remembering that time spent in the crystal ballroom, as Jareth had tried to teach her how to dance. It had been...nice. Well, maybe nice was an understatement, actually. Maybe she would love to go back there, to do it again...
A fox trot above my head
A sock hop beneath my bed
A disco ball that's just hanging by a thread...
A shining crystal ball, suspended in midair...he would take her back there, she knew he would. He would throw a ball in her honour, if she asked it. But she would never ask it, could never ask it...could she?
Suddenly, Sarah felt his hands on her ribcage, just beneath the curve of her breasts, and drew in a gasp of breath.
'You say that you don't love me,' he practically purred, 'but can you really deny that you are attractted to me?'
'I can deny whatever I like,' she told him, but her breathless voice and flushed face gave her away.
And then one of his hand was raking through her hair, pulling her head back to force her to face him.
'Sarah,' he told her, 'I tire of this. I tire of chasing you. Deep in your heart, you know that we are meant to be together. You know that you will be happy with no one else. You know that you want me.' Then his touch turned gentle, though, and he pulled her face softly to his shoulder, murmurring into her ear.
'I will never hurt you, Precious,' he promised. 'I just want to make you happy. That is all I have ever wanted. I waited for you, Sarah...for decades before your parents were even born I waited for you, biding my time, knowing that you would come.' Once again he tilted her face to look down into her eyes, his own full of sincerity and compassion. 'Why can't you believe me?'
Sarah breathed deeply, staring up into his mismatched blue eyes. She knew what he was offering her: her dreams. Everything and anything she wanted, an eternity of joy and love and magic...
Please take me away from here...
'You can't ask this of me, Jareth,' she whispered. 'I don't know what I want, I don't know what to believe.'
'But there is a part of you,' he insisted, just as softly, 'a part of you, no matter how small, that wants to be with me?'
A part of her. It had been there since she had first read that stupid book, growing steadily ever since. Never before had she considered admitting it to him; usually she even denied it to herself.
'Yes,' she whispered, 'yes, Jareth, of course there is. But I can't make a decision like this without thinking, without being sure. You're the one who taught me that, who taught me to think before I act.'
I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly...
'I know,' he replied, a blissful smile spreading across his face, 'and I can wait for you Sarah. I will always wait for you. If you can admit to that much, then there is still hope, I can still hope that you will see, that you will understand.'
'Understand what?' she asked, almost dreading the answer.
'Understand that I love you,' he whispered, so quietly that she almost doubted he had said it at all. As her mind reeled with unfathomable emotion, Jareth leaned down and gently pressed his lips to hers.
For the first time in what felt like eternity, Sarah felt herself relaxing completely, and without bothering to stop to think, throwing all of her lessons to the winds, she surrendered to his kiss, the kiss that they had both been waiting for for so long.
'Goodnight, my precious Sarah,' he murmurred when they broke apart, holding her to him for one short, eternal moment...and then he was gone, and she stood alone, the crowd pulsing around her, her senses a-spin with the memory of his words and his touch...
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay
Awake when I'm asleep...
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams...