Yes, I still exist. And no, I still haven't figured out where I'm going with Valentine Evenings. I'm so sorry it's been so long, but I promise I will update eventually.
For now, I hope you enjoy this :)
Sarah put the final pin in her hair and stepped back, examining her appearance in the mirror. She smiled, scowled, pouted coyly...and, with a sigh, pulled out all the clips and let her long dark locks fall back around her shoulders. She looked terrible. Her make-up was tacky, her hair wouldn't do what she wanted it to and her dress looked awful.
When she had bought the dress it had made her feel like a goddess, but that had been before Edward had dumped her. Now, the first time she was seeing him since the breakup, she looked frumpy and boring, and was going to have to watch him parade Bijou—with whom he'd been cheating on her for months—in front of everyone. And since they'd only broken up a week ago, of course she'd had no time to find herself a date.
'I wish I didn't have to go to this...' she muttered, turning from the mirror and going to flop down on bed. She didn't have a choice, though. It was the gala opening for Taylor, one of her best friends', art exhibit, and not the sort of thing she could miss.
Thunder cracked outside and the lights flickered, and Sarah cringed.
'Go away,' she said. 'I didn't mean to make a wish. I'm in a really bad mood, and I can't deal with you right now. Please just go away.'
The lamps flickered again, and she squeezed her eyes closed, berating herself for making the wish...but then, to her surprise, the lights came back on and the thunder faded. Sarah opened her eyes and pushed herself back up.
He had actually listened to her. Wow. Sarah flopped back down, trying to crush the tiny threads of disappointment. He was annoying and kind of creepy, and she didn't have the time or the energy to deal with him right now...but it would have been nice to know that at least someone wanted her.
Sarah forced herself to sit up again and look at the clock; she was going to be late. It wouldn't be fair to punish Taylor for Edward's actions, so she quickly pinned her hair back up and tried to paste a smile onto her face as she picked up her purse and hurried downstairs, but then groaned, the fake smile disappearing: her car was in the garage, and she had completely forgotten to call a cab.
It had been raining all day, and although it had stopped a few minutes earlier there were still deep puddles in the gutters. Sarah stepped forward, raising her hand to hail a passing cab, but it roared by, sending dirty water splashing across her dress and face. Sarah stood still, dripping wet, watching the taillights fade away, and tried not to cry.
Then, suddenly, the water dripping down her face and body disappeared.
'Are you all right, Precious?' a soft voice asked behind her, and she sighed. Whether it was in exasperation, anger, or relief, even she couldn't say. So he hadn't left, after all.
'Please, Jareth,' she said, with absolutely no idea what she was asking for. He stepped into view, dressed in relatively human clothing, but his hair and make-up just as flamboyant as usual.
'You're upset,' he said, his voice filled with concern, reaching out a gloved hand to stoke her face. Sarah leaned into his touch for a moment before remembering herself and pushing away.
'Yes, I am. I'm going to be late.'
'I can get you there in time,' he said, and Sarah paused, her lips already parted to tell him he had no power over her.
'You can,' she repeated, cocking her head, an idea suddenly worming its way into her mind.
'Yes. If you would allow me to transport you there, I would be honoured to oblige.'
'You would be honoured. So...you would be indebted to me.'
'In a manner of speaking, yes,' Jareth answered slowly, beginning to look a little suspicious.
'Alright, then, I'll allow you to transport me there on one condition,' she told him, and then paused, giving herself a chance to change her mind. Come on, Sarah, this is a bad idea! But she firmly ignored the angel on her shoulder, looked Jareth straight in the eye and said, 'You have to act as my date for the evening.'
For a long moment he stared at her, looking more incredulous than delighted.
'Where are you going?' he asked suspiciously. 'The police station? The slaughterhouse?'
'No,' she answered, truly smiling for the first time in a week, 'I'm going to the opening gala for a friend's art show.'
'And why do you want me to come?'
'Please, Jareth!' she cried, coming dangerously close to begging, but she didn't care. Having a date tonight would make it a lot less humiliating, and a lot easier to bear. So she'd have to put up with Jareth for the evening—no big deal, not like she hadn't learned how to handle him. It would let everyone see that she was over Edward.
Besides, Jareth was much better-looking than her ex. And smarter, and more interesting, and he was a faerie king. Maybe Bijou would be jealous of Sarah tonight, not the other way around.
'Shh, Dearest, of course I'll come,' Jareth said gently, softly stroking her cheek again. Then he waved his hands in front of himself, and a moment later he was dressed in classy black tuxedo under a long dark cloak. His goblin king make-up was gone, his long hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he looked very dashing, but not as sexy as he usually did. Not that she usually found him sexy, of course—oh, she was too tired to think about this right now.
'Very nice,' she said. 'Now let's go. And by the way, this doesn't mean—I mean, just because you're pretending to be my date doesn't mean that we're together, right? We're just friends.'
'I am more than happy to be your friend, Sarah,' he assured her, smiling his drop-dead gorgeous smile and offering her his arm. She took it, a little hesitantly, and at his prompting closed her eyes and pictured where she wanted him to take them; when she opened her eyes, they were there.
Everyone turned to stare when Sarah entered the venue with Jareth. She knew almost all of the guests, and those whom she had never met still turned to look, following everyone else's gaze, so she felt very much the belle of the ball. Across the room, Bijou stood, her blond hair piled stylishly atop her head, her cocktail dress clinging to her almost anorexic body. Sarah gave her a warm smile, completely ignored Edward and led Jareth over to congratulate Taylor.
'Thanks for coming!' her friend cried, stealing a covert glance at Jareth as she hugged her. 'Wow,' she whispered in Sarah's ear before pulling back, grinning. 'I'm Taylor,' she said, sticking her hand out to shake.
'I am Jareth,' he replied. 'It's such a pleasure to meet one of Sarah's friends,' he added, taking her hand, but instead of shaking it he leaned over and brushed her fingers with a kiss.
Where did he come from? Taylor mouthed, and Sarah tried not to smirk. Then the music, which had been a quiet hum in the background, grew louder, and the DJ invited everyone to the dance floor.
'You did not tell me there would be dancing,' Jareth all but purred at her ear.
'Slipped my mind,' she answered with a grin, which she quickly suppressed.
'As your escort, it is my duty to dance with you, it is not?'
Sarah hesitated, but then saw Edward leading Bijou onto the dance floor.
'Most definitely,' she agreed, grabbing his hand. He wrapped his arms around her and led her into an elegant, old-fashioned dance.
'And I did not even have to drug you this time,' he murmured, dipping her back. She met his gaze squarely when he pulled her back up, fully expecting him to be smirking in triumph, but saw him smiling happily, not a hint of malice in his eye.
'Yeah, it's a miracle how far being nice can get you,' she answered with a bit of a wry smile.
'If you like nice guys, then why did you date him?' Jareth asked as they swept past Edward.
'I don't know,' Sarah sighed. 'He was so controlling, I should never have gone out with him. When we first started seeing each other he would follow me around when I went out with my friends, and once he broke my car to prevent me from going to see one of my guy friends. But why am I talking to you about this?' she added, shaking her head.
'Maybe you trust me?' Jareth suggested, and Sarah almost laughed.
'May be. Let's not talk about Edward, though.'
'I agree. Let's just focus on showing him what he's missing, shall we?'
'Good idea,' Sarah agreed. To her surprise, though, Jareth was the perfect gentleman all night long. In the past he had always been pushy and arrogant, but the privilege of being her date must have put him in such a good mood that he was happy just to enjoy it. Not once did he try to kiss her, or convince her to come Underground with him, or move his hands from her waist as they danced.
So, against all odds, the evening was very enjoyable. She was just considering maybe spending time with Jareth again—not as a date, just as friends—when he suddenly stiffened.
'Someone from my kingdom is trying to contact me,' he whispered. 'I will be back in a moment.'
''Kay.' Sarah took the opportunity to get a drink and look at the art exhibit, and smile mysteriously as her friends plied her with questions about her date, but when Jareth reappeared her good mood disappeared as she saw the look on his face.
'I'm so sorry, my love,' he told her, leading her a little ways away from the others. 'I have to go Underground, there has been a political crisis. I don't want to go, but I have to. I'm sorry.'
'It's okay, I understand,' Sarah answered, trying not to look too crestfallen. 'Come on, I'll walk you to the door.' The evening would be a lot less pleasant without him.
'If this doesn't take too long I can come back,' he offered, but she shook her head.
'That's okay. Thanks for coming.' She was suddenly very aware of Edward standing nearby, watching them, and tried not to grimace. She'd been kind of hoping that he would see her and Jareth leaving together.
'It was a pleasure,' he assured her, getting his coat, and suddenly she began to feel a little angry with him. Sure, he said it was a pleasure, but if he'd really wanted to be with her than he would have stayed. After all, he'd been chasing her since she was fifteen years old, and now, for the first time, she had given him a chance, and he was choosing to leave halfway through the date. He was walking out on her, with her ex standing right there.
It wasn't fair. But there was nothing she could do about it.
Unless... Jareth was pulling his coat on, and if she was quick she could lean in and kiss him before he could react. It would be taking advantage of him, certainly, especially since she had made it clear that they were just going to be friends, but she found that she didn't care. His arms were trapped, so he wouldn't be able to do anything, and she doubted that he would make a scene in the middle of a crowded room.
'I'm glad you came tonight,' she said, and quickly, without pausing to consider the consequences, she leaned in his lightly kissed the corner of his mouth.
...and Jareth's hands closed around her waist. He pressed her to the wall, his mouth opening over hers and his tongue snaking between her lips. His supple fingers slid to her hips, pressing hard enough to bruise, his body flush against hers as he kissed her with almost violent passion.
'Don't toy with me,' he hissed when he finally broke away, his teeth scraping her ear lobe as he spoke. 'I have done everything you wanted for your entire life. I have humbled myself, thrown myself at your mercy, helped you, comforted you. I came here tonight and acted as a prop in your quest for revenge against another man. But I will not be your plaything.' She felt his rough tongue run across her neck, his sharp teeth tug at the sensitive skin, and then he was gone, and she was left standing alone by the door.
Humiliated but refusing to blush, Sarah headed back into the room and diligently went to look at each of Taylor's paintings. No one talked to her, but people shot her sidelong looks at she passed. It was turning out to be even worse than she had thought it would be. Feeling terrible, Sarah watched the clock in anguish, and the moment she could politely leave she headed out, attracting as little attention as she could. Even so, people stared at her. It took her twenty minutes to find a cab, and during that time it started to rain again, so by the time Sarah got home she was as miserable as she had ever been.
Ordering herself not to cry but feeling tears prickling behind her eyes anyway, she stripped out of her evening dress and pulled on her pyjamas. She knew that she should brush out her hair and wash off her makeup, but all she wanted to do was fall into bed and stay there for a month.
Before she could, though, a knock came at her door.
'Who the hell...?' she muttered, slouching to the door and checking the peek hole. Jareth was standing outside. Sarah let out a sigh that was almost a sob.
'Go away, Jareth,' she called. 'I don't want to see you.'
'Please, Sarah, let me in,' he beseeched. 'Just talk to me. Please.'
Furious with herself and with him, Sarah threw open the door.
'There,' she snapped, 'are you happy? You've sure taught me my lesson. I know you're not my plaything. There you go. Congratulations on ruining my life just a little bit more than it was already ruined. Happy now, Jareth?'
'No,' he answered softly, 'no, I'm not happy, not at all. I'm...sorry.'
Sarah stared at him.
'You're what?' She had never heard him apologize for anything before.
'I'm sorry,' he repeated, more loudly, stepping into her apartment. 'I'm so sorry, Sarah. That...that isn't how I wanted our first kiss to go. What I did was entirely out of line.'
'What I did was also out of line,' Sarah sighed. 'I'm sorry, too.' She turned and walked to the living room and he followed, letting the door swing closed behind him. She sat on the sofa with her legs curled beneath her and he sat down next to her, in silence.
'I don't know what to say, Sarah,' Jareth finally sighed. 'I was so happy tonight, so happy to be with you, so happy that you wanted me there, and that you seemed to be having a good time. I spoiled everything, though, didn't I?'
'It was partly my fault,' Sarah answered quietly. 'I was having a good time, and I'm still very grateful to you for coming in the first place. You were right, though, I was using you. And it was wrong of me. I truly did enjoy your company tonight, though,' she quickly added.
'I'm glad, Precious,' he said softly. 'Can we still be friends, then?'
'If you want,' she told him, and for the first time she really considered what it would be like to be more than just a friend to him. True, he had wronged her, publicly humiliated her...but she realized that this was the first time he ever had. Everything else he had ever done, everything she had blamed him for and hated him for, he had done for her. And now, yes, he had wronged her...but he had apologized. And she had wronged him first.
'Of course I want to,' he replied, smiling. She caught his eye, and for a long moment they gazed at each other. She wondered if he could see everything she was feeling right now.
'Sarah?' he finally said, sliding slightly closer to her on the sofa and tentatively lifting a hand towards her face. 'Is it all right if I try something?'
Sarah swallowed, her breath coming heavily, but she nodded. Very slowly, very gently, giving her every opportunity to pull away, Jareth softly, almost chastely, pressed his lips to hers, and Sarah's eyes fluttered closed at she returned the tender kiss.
Wrote this in about half an hour, I'm afraid. I hope it's okay.
Now I'm very tired and I think I may have ODed on David Bowie music videos, so I bid you all goodnight.
Thanks for reading!