The car service arrived in short order and the four entered the large sedan; Karen, Sarah and Toby in the back seat with Jareth in the front. He disliked being separated from his pro-tem queen, but in these close quarters his preference ran to sitting apart rather than too close to strangers. However near family they may yet be. While awaiting the car earlier, Sarah and her family anxiously anticipated any word from Robert.
The fact that Robert still refrained from contacting his family greatly bothered Jareth for two main reasons: that it most obviously upset Sarah and what sort of man neglected his closest loved ones? His opinion of her father already low, Jareth steeled himself for an evening of control; he feared his first view of the cad might bring out his inner evil Goblin King. And as tempting as that was he preferred not to place Sarah in such a position of mortification and explanation plus this was ultimately her battle to conquer. He might wish to save her, to spare her any pain, but only her own efforts set her free.
"You're awfully quiet up there, Jareth," Sarah said, reaching around the head rest to rub his shoulder near the base of his neck.
"Mmm...Just thinking, my dear." He turned around slightly to meet her gaze.
'Yes, what about, old boy! Go ahead, tell her the truth!' Jareth's inner voice taunted.
"About what I might possibly dine upon this evening at this elite restaurant."
"The Stanhope Grill," Toby supplied eagerly, moving forward in his seat, "The menu is limited but everything is five stars, top notch!"
"Indeed?" Jareth replied.
"Oh, yeah, they have the most amazing pan roasted chicken!" Involuntarily, Jareth hissed causing Toby to jerk back in surprise. Out of sight, Sarah gently squeezed his shoulder in sympathy and warning.
'Ah! Chicken! I am NOT eating poultry! Keep those foul things away from me, Jareth!'
'I fully agree, NO CHICKEN! Not even for my Sarah.'
"Jareth can't eat chicken," she explained, stifling a chuckle.
"Oh," Karen said, "that's too bad, but there are several other delightful offerings on the menu. I'm sure you'll find something to suit your palate, Jareth."
"Yes, of course, Karen," he said with a gracious smile, composing himself, "I have no doubt. I look forward to the selection." Conversation wandered to other topics and Jareth turned facing the windshield as the anonymous driver continued their path to the restaurant. Thoughts of pan roasted certain poultry entertained his mind.
"I can't believe he's not here yet," Sarah whispered harshly to Jareth as the hostess guided the four of them to their table.
'Not even a friggin' note! A 'hey I'm running late but I'm on my way family'. I mean, really!' Tutu said, appalled. 'But then I can't believe I expected any different from your dad.'
'Tutu, maybe he has a good reason.'
'Sure he does.'
'We're not even seated yet, he might walk in any minute.'
'Sure he will.'
Not bothering to respond to Tutu's last comment, Sarah allowed Jareth to pull her chair out for her as she sat. She wanted to have faith that her father would show up in time. He'd be here. He told Karen he would. He'd be here.
Robert did arrive—sometime after the appetizers were served and almost devoured. His reception by his family and his son-in-law to be: chilly. But during his torrential display of personality and glad-handing with the Stanhope upper class diners he neglected to notice.
"Judge Harnett! So good to see you!" Robert Williams declared as he pumped the other man's hand energetically, "And your charming wife, Charlotte!" The couple in greeting nodded and smiled as Robert moved on to the next lucky recipients of his attention. "Representative Cox! Taking a break tonight? Hope you're practicing your long drive, we need to play again soon!"
Observing Robert Williams at a distance, Jareth immediately decided he loathed the man. Difficult to believe this oily being donated half of his genetic material toward the creation of his perfect Sarah.
'Well now...I wouldn't say she's perfect...'
'Quiet, she's perfect and that's final!' With a fatalistic sense of inevitability as Robert oozed his designer suit clad body to his family's table, Jareth forced himself to stand and receive the father of his bride with politeness when he much rather bog him sight unseen. The man didn't notice Jareth, King of the Goblins in the slightest and that was Robert's second greatest sin of the night; the first had yet to play out. Jareth reseated himself with a faint growl.
'The nerve of the man...bloody well ignoring us! I want to bog him, Jareth, can I?'
"Aha! I see you've already been seated!" Robert announced as if it weren't painfully obvious they'd been waiting on him.
"Yes, Robert," Karen said, smiling tolerantly, "we've been here for nearly an hour.
"Really! May time flies...my assistant was supposed to alert me," he said casually taking the empty seat saved for him.
"Hi, Dad." Sarah's voice came out remarkably steady considering she seriously wanted to hyperventilate herself into unconsciousness. Had, in fact, wished to do since spying her father entering the restaurant and begin his politicking cat-walk which reminded her of the old song 'I'm too sexy' only with slightly different lyrics.
"Sarah! You're always so quiet; I didn't see you there!" Audible gasps expelled from around the table except for Jareth who faintly growled again until Sarah rested her hand on his knee underneath the table. "When did you get into Boston?"
"Just a few hours ago," she mumbled and dropped her eyes to the congealing escargot on her appetizer plate.
"Robert," his wife said with a touch of irritation, "remember I told you tonight's dinner was because Sarah was in town." Karen sat up straight and grinned. "She has an announcement!"
"Yeah, Dad!" Toby added, "You're going to love it!"
"I will, will I? Well, let me be the judge of that."
'Oh my God, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD! What an ass! And I can't believe he hasn't said squat about Jareth being here. He probably hasn't even noticed him!'
"Well, Dad, first off...," Sarah turned to Jareth, "I'd like to introduce you to Jareth Noble."
Robert Williams flicked his eyes from the bread basket momentarily taking in the odd man sitting next to his daughter then grunted softly, "Alright, Jareth, what's your story? Hope you're not thinking you'll get to me through Sarah because I'll not tolerate any gold-diggers."
'What the holy f-!' Tutu shouted inside Sarah's head making her eyes water because it wasn't tears in her eyes. Nope, no way, not tears.
"Oh..." Sarah wanted to shrink to invisibility, felt her back and butt hunch lower in the chair. Maybe Jareth had a crystal for that. No doubt he possessed a crystal for something vile with her dad's name etched on it. She bet he could skip his hand conjuring because the searing look in his eyes seemed enough to manifest revenge.
With a tremendous amount of self-control, Jareth suppressed his appropriate knee-jerk reaction to transform Robert Williams into the most hideous goblin imaginable with a one-way ticket to life time bog residence. Instead he smiled, which was more of a snarl, and said coldly:
"Rest assured, Mr. Williams, my interest in Sarah lies solely in her personal worth and not in her or your bank accounts. I am quite wealthy in my own right."
"Good! Good, then!" Robert picked up his menu and visually scrolled the night's options. "So, Sarah, what's this big announcement that brought you all the way to Boston? I mean you hardly bother to drive the great distance from Philly anymore, so this must be important."
Karen groaned. Her husband was in rare form tonight. Sarah tended to bring out the worst in him, something about her represented his past failures and he seemed to enjoy torturing her no matter what Karen did to undetermined his efforts. Meanwhile, Toby's face turned embarrassment scarlet as he reverted to his usual defense tactics of silence and immobility.
"Uh...well...," Sarah stammered.
"Tell him, Sarah! Then tell him to stuff your partnership up his—'
'Tutu! Just give me a sec!'
At some point Jareth's arm snaked around her shoulders and she felt a vague tingle of magic infusing her. She pivoted her head to look at Jareth whose expression treaded between anger and supportiveness. She could do this.
"Dad," she said, keeping her eyes glued to Jareth's, "I made partner." Jareth smiled and she faced her father and said smugly, "I made partner before 30 and that's earlier than you."
Robert Williams paused in his bread buttering, his knife mid-air, and his face blank, not looking at her. Then he smirked and resumed his buttering. "Well it's about time, Sarah. Now that you've proven yourself a top attorney, I expect our conversations to really heat up." She watched her father take a large bite of his roll and chew as he maintained his perusal of the one page menu. Jeez, there weren't that many dinner choices. The tension at their table ricocheted up until it became unbearably palpable and Jareth's arm twitched dangerously around her neck.
'That's it?' Tutu said in a flabbergasted tone. 'I...I can't believe it! Sarah, are you okay?'
'I don't know.' Frankly, she'd been waiting, working for this moment for so many years she really didn't know what to expect or how to feel. But the anti-climatic-ness of her dad's reaction stunned her; like he didn't even care that she sacrificed her entire young adulthood to achieve this goal.
Like he didn't even care.
'Now can we bog him?' Jareth's voice asked him as they both closely studied Sarah's external reflection of her internal reaction to her father.
'Not without Sarah's permission,' Jareth replied blandly, struggling to keep his own emotions in check. How dare this man, this trumped up sperm donor, act in such a callous manner to his daughter and Jareth's future queen. He felt his blood temperature rise quickly and his arm around Sarah's shoulders spasmed, the fingers reflexively curling inwards. Vaguely he noticed Karen and Toby fidgeting uncomfortably unable to eat or drink, and guessed this wasn't the first of these types of episodes.
'Please, Jareth, please, I really, really want to bog him!'
'As do I, but not without Sarah's word. Bloody hell, shut up! Let her work this out,' Jareth said, distracted, then his love, his precious, his amazing Goblin Queen-to-be spoke in a brilliantly regal and almost mocking voice.
"Oh, wow, I just realized something, Dad." Her father looked at her quizzically, brows furrowed at her interruption of his dinner decision, "It's never going to be enough is it? I'm never going to be enough."
"Halle-friggin'-lujah!' Tutu shouted and commenced her Pepto-Bismol dance of happy, happy, joy, joy!
'She's finally doing it, old boy! She's facing her father!'
'Yes, I know,' Jareth told his voice. 'I am sitting right here!'
"What are talking about?" Robert asked his tone mildly confused as he continued to read the limited selections.
"Me, Dad, you're never going to just accept me for who am I are you?" She said calmly and barely heard Karen suck in surprised breath.
Her father shifted in his seat tugging at his suit awkwardly. "Don't be ridiculous, Sarah. I accept you."
'Sheeya, right!' Tutu blurted, but Sarah was too focused to notice.
"Really? Do you know who I am outside of being a lawyer? Do you know me as a daughter or even a person?" Sarah's implacable gaze watched her father sputter with indignation, his complexion brightening suddenly as he slapped the menu upon the table so hard the glasses clattered.
"Well, of course I do!"
"Okay, Dad. What's my favorite flower?" She asked in her cross examination voice.
'Oo-oo...I know this!' Tutu said.
Sarah felt Jareth's hand enclose her own and pull it onto his lap. "Hyacinth," Jareth stated simply, but with such superiority Robert's head whipped around to meet Jareth's single arched brow. Before her father could comment Sarah asked another question.
"What's my favorite food?"
'Everyone knows that one, she eats it every week which I still think is bloody revolting, by the way. Jareth tell her to pick something harder.'
Again Robert stumbled and Sarah noticed a glisten of perspiration on her father's forehead just before he blurted out an answer, "Lasagna!"
"Chicken Parmesan," Was the quiet but confident answer from Karen, and Sarah turned meeting her stepmother's supportive eyes. "Chicken Parmesan is her favorite, dear," Karen added softly, speaking to her husband who flushed further, if that were humanly possible.
"How about this one, Dad. What was the name of my favorite teddy bear when I was I child? The one I couldn't live without for years." A strange new confidence filled her heart and mind and her father, sitting so nervously across from her, unexpectedly appeared a much smaller man.
'Oooh...good one, Sarah! If he doesn't remember this...'
"I've had enough of your inquisition. How am supposed to remember something like that?" Robert blustered and loosened his tie.
"It's Lancelot, Dad," Toby said scathingly. "And I was only a baby when she gave it to me and I remember. Hell, you're the one who bought it for her and helped her name it!" Toby tossed his cloth napkin from his lap to the table in disgust. If this was the sort of future waiting for him, no thanks!
"I...I did?" Robert said, astonished, glancing at his son then back to Sarah. For the first time realizing how everyone at the table scowled at him.
"Yes, you did," Sarah stated in a serene voice. She'd never felt this calm speaking to her dad before. It felt good, really good. "I told you I wanted him to have a strong name to help protect me and you picked Lancelot, after King Arthur's strongest knight."
"Oh...oh, Sarah...I don't remember...," Robert's voice and eyes wavered slightly as his perfect family publically unraveled.
"Yeah...I kind of figured that." Jareth squeezed her hand hoping to alleviate her emotional turmoil, but Sarah shocked him by offering a small smile then faced her father again. Apparently her strength grew as she spoke. He was right to allow her this fight alone.
"I really do love being a lawyer, Dad, but that's not why I went to law school." She saw his unspoken question surface in his eyes and answered it. "I went to law school because I wanted to be closer to you. I wanted to have something in common with you so that you'd finally see me, know me. But all we ever talk is legalese."
"No, Dad, listen. I've spent most of my life seeking your approval and your acceptance so that one day I'd hear you say how proud you are of me, your daughter, not me the lawyer that happens to be your daughter. But I've finally realized tonight that it's never going to happen!" Sarah's voice got progressively louder and she saw her father grimace, his eyes shifting about as other restaurant occupants looked over.
"Sarah, don't say that!" Karen said. She feared the ending of this conversation.
"I've denied myself things I've wanted as a woman because of what I needed as a daughter, but you know what? I don't need that from you anymore." She gazed lovingly at Jareth whose passionate look matched hers. "Hell, maybe I don't even want it anymore, Dad. Let's go, Jareth." Sarah pushed her chair back and stood from the table followed by Jareth. Dumbfounded, Robert sat and watched his daughter stand, unsure of what to say then she added the last bombshell.
"By the way, Dad, I guess you didn't happen to notice my new ring?" She waved her left hand near his face showing off her stunner engagement ring. "I wondered if you'd see it or not during dinner, but since you've not mentioned it and you insulted my fiancé without bothering to find out anything about him...I'm betting not," she said with as much derision as she could muster which was about two decades worth.
"Ah—you're engaged?" His eyes popped at the huge rock on her finger. His head ping-ponging between Sarah, Jareth, Toby, and Karen— his wife wisely made no comment, but Robert read the foreknowledge in her eyes and frowned. Jareth took that moment to toss in his own remark.
"I must say, Mr. Williams, for a top attorney, your powers of observation are sorely lacking," he said, adding a thick layer of smugness to his tone. Toby sniggered and Robert blanched.
"Karen, Toby, it's been a pleasure." Jareth inclined his head slightly as Sarah quickly ran to them both, hugging them goodbye. Sarah stopped at her father offering a vague smile.
"I guess I'll see you, Dad. Take care of yourself." Her father stared at her, his power of speech deserting him, and neither moved for several seconds then Sarah took Jareth's hand and they sauntered from the restaurant without looking back while Robert watched them leave.
"You're a real ass, you know that, Bob?" Karen uttered and Toby snorted a laugh, his mother and he sharing a look before finishing their appetizer while ignoring Robert.
"What the hell did I do?" Robert mumbled slumping in his seat, his appetite gone. His day proceed so well then this...fiasco...in public no less! Sensing the mocking stares of the other patrons; Robert refused dinner and instead drank scotch on the rocks until Karen announced she and Toby were ready to return home.
"I'm quite proud of you, Sarah," Jareth told her as they strolled along the sidewalks of a moonlit Boston. "I can't remember the last time I've had the pleasure of witnessing an epiphany so inspiring and your speech...pure poetry!" She laughed lightly, her arm tugging at his as she leaned her head onto his shoulder.
"Thanks, it felt awesome, too." She sighed, keeping her head on his shoulder while they walked.
"And how do you feel now?" He rested his head on hers, his opposite hand reaching across his chest to cover her hands on his arm. To have her so close in body and soul...for the moment he forgot his own mysterious family tree. His real heaven was wherever Sarah lived.
"It's funny, but I've never felt so...free. Like I can do anything I want now." Sarah tilted her face to look at his and he smiled gently, "Does that make sense?"
"Ah, precious, it makes perfect sense." He pulled her to a stop and faced her, "And now that my queen can do anything, what does she want to do most?"
"Most?" she echoed provocatively, and slipped her arms around his neck, pressing her body to his, "Well, I think what I want to do most is you, my king."
"Sarah!" Jareth's eyes widened, "So bold!"
"After that," she added with a whisper in his ear, "I was thinking I might go into pro bono legal work as I figure out the rest."
"Really?" Head tilted, he pulled back from her slightly. "You wish to continue as a lawyer?"
"Well, I do enjoy it, and now that I don't need to earn a living I figured...maybe..." she batted her eyelashes, "I might help others."
"Thinking I'll keep you in diamonds and free legal work, my queen?"
"Something like that," she said with a pout, "I can't live Underground full-time, Jareth, at least not yet."
"Hmm," he drew her back into his embrace, "your idea sounds intriguing, but I suspect I'll need a bit more convincing. Tell me more of your first idea."
"The one about what I want to do most?"
"Yes, exactly..." his lips found hers, she moaned, and he murmured against them, "That's the one," then he captured her mouth completely and they ignored the other Boston pedestrians flowing around them.
'Yessiree! Hallelujah!' Tutu added for good measure as she settle down for a nice long nap.
futrCSI1490: So how's he peeving you off now? Lol! Toby might remember something...an idea for another story perhaps. Jareth is romantic isn't he? I hadn't planned on him proposing but he insisted! And I couldn't disagree.
Anne Oying: Her dad is a jerk! A major one. I love playing around with different versions of relationships with these people. It took me awhile to come up with the right amount of magical/different/mature diamond for this story. Glad ya'll liked it! It's based on the concept of real life Alexandrite stones, one of the rarest in the world and they change color. I have a synthetic one which is way awesome! (cheaper too, lol!)
Autumn O'Shea Swan: Oh, well...if you thought her dad was bad last chapter...eek! He really sucks this chapter. I believe she does feel very special, how can she not?
Starlight623: LOL! Awesome, I think. I wasn't trying to trash any other engagement ring, but yeah it does sound bad ass doesn't it. Too bad it's not real, sigh. If we just got read of Robert in this story I think everyone else would get along splendidly.
A/N: So the readership on the series isn't as strong but it has its hardcore readers which is a big compliment! Thanks! I know this ending could almost be a wrap up which is why I added the tbc. I don't intend for this to be the ending, but as of right now I don't have the next installment even planned. With so much going on I figure I'll let this series marinate for a bit because I do have more ideas for it just not quite how to get to them yet. It's my experience that when I allow my creative juices a break they come back stronger than ever. So for the time being this one is on a short hiatus. Probably at least a few months I'm thinking since I've got a busy fall starting in a few months.
I do love this characterization of J/S and their story here is far from over as their are many strings still dangling, many stories left to tell. But at least they've come to a nice, happy place together for now.
I want to especially thank futrcsi and Anne Oying (didn't know you have original work-will have to return the fave!) for reading and reviewing my new original fic on Fiction Press! Awesome! Thanks! I'm currently working on ch 2 which I'm hoping to have out soon. Anyone else interested in checking out my new sci-fi/sci-fantasy-romance please stop by my profile here which has a link to my Fiction Press profile. I can't tell you how much it means to have amazing readers like an author's original work. So much better than liking my fanfic which is awesome enough.
Thanks so much! Everyone's reviews always make my day! Sometimes I even keep them on my phone for a day or two and reread them several times before I delete them. *sigh*