Author's note: As a thank you to all my lovely readers, I'm posting a bonus chapter this week. Things will momentarily heat up between Jareth and Sarah. I upped the rating a tad for language.
I still own nothing (except for Kimmie and the Frappuccino I had at lunch time).
Sarah was dreading the walk home, but not nearly as much as she was dreading what would happen once they actually got there. The Goblin King seemed to delight in wreaking havoc in her life. After destroying her friendships with Hoggle, Ludo and Didymus, he now seemed bent on destroying her relationship with Kimmie. After their blow-up at IHOP, she did not relish the idea of returning home and maintaining the farce of being the loving couple. So it was with great relief that she agreed when Kimmie suggested they swing by the park on the way home. She suspected that Kimmie just wanted to be seen, or rather wanted Jareth to be seen, and possibly be the subject of some juicy gossip. Nothing exciting ever happened in Kimmie's life, and her mom having a boyfriend was definitely a news-worthy event. Well, Sarah thought, it would be easier to maintain the façade in public around strangers than it would at home with only Kimmie around. And so, Sarah found herself walking alone with Jareth down a well worn path while Kimmie ran ahead of them to the pedal-boat shop to see if there was anyone she could show off to.
As they were coming around some trees within Kimmie's line of sight, they were overtaken by a couple of other teenagers Sarah recognized from Kimmie's school.
"Oh, hey Ms. Williams," one of them called, recognizing her, and pausing for a moment to check out Jareth. Then, noticing Kimmie a little further up, the two girls ran over to her and immediately began whispering and giggling among themselves.
Sarah knew she and Jareth were the topic of their conversation from the way the girls kept looking over at them.
"We seem to be the recipients of some unwanted attention," Jareth said to try to break the ice.
"No," Sarah said. "You seem to be the recipient, and knowing your ego, I doubt attention of any kind is unwanted."
"Sarah, you wound me!" Jareth was only half playing when he said this, because he knew she was still very angry with him after having been so thoroughly reminded of how she had sacrificed three friends who apparently were a lot dearer to her than he had initially thought, as a result of his meddling. "However, in light of the fact that we do seem to have an audience, I suggest we put on a show for them," he continued seductively. He came up behind her and placing his hands on her waist, he leaned in and whispered in her ear, "What do you suppose they'll make of this?"
Sarah fought the urge to push him away. It was going to be hard enough confessing the truth to Kimmie after Jareth was done getting his jollies. The poor girl didn't need the public humiliation of having her mother break up with her new boyfriend in front of her friends. So she played along as best she could, which is to say she kept still while Jareth continued his apparent seduction. He reached up and gently pulled her hair over one shoulder so he could have unhindered access to her neck. He bent his head down and nuzzled the newly exposed skin, savoring her luscious scent, while tightening his grip around her waist. "I meant it earlier when I said I was sorry, Sarah," he breathed onto her bare skin. "In fact," he continued, "if you want to renew your acquaintance with them, I promise not to interfere."
Sarah felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end at the sensation of his warm breath on her skin. Thinking that her body was finally beginning to feel some well warranted panic at his close proximity, and that her gooseflesh was a natural manifestation of her panic, she took a deep breath to calm herself. Except that as she exhaled, the sound that came from her could only be described as a moan. And why was her head now tilting slightly to the side, giving Jareth better access to her neck and shoulder? Instantly, Jareth's hands were gone from her waist as he wrapped both his arms around her, pulling her flush against him. Sarah's head was swimming as she fought with herself. She knew she should pull away and make him stop. But the truth of the matter was that what he was doing felt good.
"Stop that," Sarah finally managed to croak half-heartedly as she made a feeble attempt to break free of his grasp. Her eyes were practically rolling back from the sensations Jareth was evoking.
"Stop what, love?" Jareth asked as he began trailing kisses up toward her ear.
"That," she breathed, as she fought for some semblance of self-control. "Just what do you expect me to tell Kimmie after you've finished whatever little game you're playing and leave?" Thinking of Kimmie centered her and she found herself coming out of the Jareth-induced fog she was in.
But Jareth's response sent her mind reeling again. With his head still buried in her neck, he gave a gentle nip and whispered, "And just what makes you think I'm going anywhere, precious?"
And then suddenly, the mood was gone as Kimmie bellowed, "Just what the hell do you two think you're doing?"
The startled couple looked up at her, and Jareth was not surprised to find the daughter's anger was almost as menacing as the mother's. Sarah colored at having been caught in such a compromising situation, and Jareth looked genuinely surprised, for he honestly did not know what had Kimmie so riled.
"You know you're behaving inappropriately when Katie and Michelle get embarrassed by what they're seeing. Mom, it looked like he was about to start undressing you and have his way with you, and you were letting him! Oh my God, mom! I know you don't have much practice with the whole dating thing, but have a little decency and lay off the PDAs."
Jareth for his part was a little flummoxed. He had a basic understanding of the offense he was accused of, but was unsure exactly what Kimmie was asking him and Sarah to do. He looked at Sarah and tentatively muttered, "PDAs?" hoping she would enlighten him.
Sarah's terse reply consisted of four words, "Public displays of affection." Turning toward her daughter, Sarah continued in her most sincere tone, "Kimmie, I'm really sorry about that." Looking accusingly at Jareth she continued, "I promise it won't happen again." And there was that infuriating self-satisfied smirk again! He knew he had gotten to her, and he knew she would have to force herself to be extra vigilant so it didn't happen again. And she knew he was going to do everything he could to make sure it did happen again.
Kimmie looked at the two, unsure what to make of them. The story they had related to her over breakfast left little doubt that there were strong feelings between them, but as each told their version of the story, Kimmie did not see how their feelings could possibly fuel anything other than hatred. But the scene she had just witnessed left little doubt that there was an equally strong physical attraction as well. And even though her mom did not have much experience with men, Kimmie had absolute faith that Sarah would never bring home a man who would pose a threat to either of them.
"Okay," Kimmie told her mom. "Um, look, I'm going to go with Katie. We're supposed to be working on a project for school, and we really haven't done much, and we figured since it's still early, we could go back to her house and start brainstorming and maybe get some research done. Is that okay?"
Sarah looked at Jareth, uncomfortable with the idea of spending the rest of the day alone with him, but told Kimmie, "Sure, sweetie. Just call me later and let me know if you'll be home in time for dinner."
"Thanks, mom," she said as she started backing away from them to rejoin her friends. Once she had placed about twelve feet between them, she continued teasingly, "And this way, you guys can be alone and free to engage in all the inappropriate behavior you want." And with that, she turned and ran to rejoin her friends.
Sarah blanched at hearing such a suggestion from her daughter, while Jareth was practically doubled over with laughter. "Sarah, I quite like your daughter. She's a very sensible girl. I suggest we do precisely as she said." And as he reached for her to try to pull her into another embrace, she backed away from him and shot him a glare that made him step back.
"Don't even think about it Goblin King!"
They continued wandering around the park for a while in an almost companionable silence. Sarah was reluctant to return home, and Jareth was well aware that she was stalling. "Precious," he finally started. "Why do I make you so uncomfortable?"
Sarah stopped and looked at him, unsure if he was joking. All traces of smugness and mockery were conspicuously absent from his countenance. "Are you serious?" she began. "You showed up in my house in the middle of the night, kidnapped Toby, threatened to turn him into a goblin, forced me to jump through a seemingly endless array of unpredictable hoops in order to save him, all the while taunting me and trying to distract me, you placed my very life in peril, and then you harassed my friends, making it impossible for us to stay friends, and now," she paused as she tried to control her emotions so she wouldn't start sobbing, "after nearly 20 years of peace, when I had finally begun to believe I could live a normal life, you've placed me in a most uncompromising position which has forced me to lie to my daughter just to keep her from thinking the worst of me! And you have the nerve to ask why I don't like being around you?"
Jareth could only bow his head in resignation as she listed her grievances against him. He was beginning to suspect that an offer of marriage from him might not be welcome. It appeared that he had made grave errors in his attempted courtship at every point in the endeavor.
"Sarah," he began cautiously, "is it so difficult for you to believe what I told while you during your visit to the Underground?"
"What, the whole 'fear me and I'll be your slave' schtick?" she replied unsympathetically.
Jareth winced as she reminded him of his unfortunate choice in words. "There was more to it than that, Sarah. Remember our dance?" he asked.
Sarah resisted the urge to smile. Oh, yes. She remembered their dance, more often than she cared to admit. But she would never admit to Jareth how often she thought of it. It was bad enough that he suspected she dreamed of him. "You mean my hallucination?"
Jareth felt absolutely deflated by this woman. He took her hand as he continued. "Oh, Sarah, it was so much more than that," he said as he looked into her eyes.
Sarah tried deceiving herself that she didn't feel butterflies in her stomach, or that his touch didn't make her heart flutter, but she knew it was a lie. Damn! Of all the men in the world, why did Jareth have to be the only one who ever made her feel like this! She supposed if they were really going to have a heart to heart talk, it would be best to do it at home. "Jareth, I think we should wait until we get home to have this discussion. I'd really rather not do it in public."
Jareth was relieved to hear that she was at least willing to continue the discussion, and even more relieved at hearing they would be returning to her apartment. He looked at her, and was surprised to find her appraising him quizzically. "Yes?" he asked.
"Have you ever had a Frappuccino?" she asked.
"A frappa - no, I don't believe so," he replied.
Sarah smiled. "Well, I have a craving, so how about a quick stop by Starbuck's before we head home?"
"As my lady wishes," Jareth replied, curious as to what the frap-a-chino was. He held his arm out for Sarah, and allowed her to lead the way.
Jareth stared dubiously at the concoction Sarah had ordered him. It had the color and consistency of bog sludge, and was topped with some sort of frothy bovine essence. He watched as Sarah gleefully inserted a thin plastic tube into the opening at the top of the vessel it came in, and began leisurely sucking on it. Jareth did likewise, but much more hesitantly. After a few tentative mouthfuls, he decided that the "sludge" was rather tasty, and he began drinking it down with zeal. They were finally walking back toward Sarah's apartment, and Sarah watched with amusement as Jareth tasted his first Frappuccino. She became a little alarmed when she noticed how fast he was drinking it, and was about to say something when Jareth suddenly stopped. He doubled over in obvious pain, and barely managed to whisper, "Sarah! Help me!"
Sarah watched as he grabbed at his head and applied pressure to his sinuses. "I'm not well. I - I think I require a healer." And then suddenly, he stood upright on is own, looking thoroughly confused. "That was - disconcerting," he declared. "It was the most intense pain I have ever felt, and it was gone as suddenly as it came on." Jareth was more than a little concerned. There was no telling what sorts of human illnesses he was exposing himself to while above ground. He had never experienced anything like that before, but as long as he pain had subsided, he decided it could probably wait until he returned home before he sought a healer. He looked at Sarah and was troubled by her apparent lack of concern. He tried to shake off the distress he felt at her callous reaction with regard to his well being, and began absently sipping at his Frappuccino again. Being reminded of how tasty it was, he renewed his consumption of the beverage with vigor.
He was vaguely aware of Sarah muttering something as he was struck with another wave of blinding, searing pain. He was beyond embarrassed that he was unable to keep from vocalizing his agony as he again doubled over, gripping his head between his hands. And just like before, it disappeared as suddenly as it came. He would definitely have to cut his visit short and return home to seek out a healer. This was not normal. He was about to make his apologies to Sarah when he noticed that she was sighing in exasperation and rolling her eyes. He was suddenly angry. How could he ever have thought himself in love with such a cold woman. "Well, I'm sorry if my nearly dying is inconveniencing you, precious!" he growled. "I know you don't like me, but it is common courtesy to show a little concern when someone is in pain, distress, or ill. Or at least pretend to worry. At least I am no longer deceived. I see you for what you are, Ms. Williams, and I have only to regret the fool I have been to believe you otherwise."
Sarah stood there in absolute amazement as she listened to Jareth's tirade. She rolled her eyes again, which only added to Jareth's anger, and before he had a chance to start in on her again, she said, "For Christ's sake Jareth, it was just a brain freeze!"
Jareth stood up straight and came to stand directly in front of her, towering over her as he asked, "You know what my mystery ailment is?"
"It's called a brain freeze, and you get it when you chug down something ice-cold, like a Frappuccino," she held hers up and waved it in front of him for emphasis.
Jareth glared down at her, not sure whether or not to believe her. "Why were you not afflicted?"
"Because I know not to gulp it down that fast," she replied condescendingly.
"You could have warned me," he muttered glumly. He wasn't sure which of the emotions he was feeling was stronger: anger or embarrassment.
"Yeah, I could have," she replied severely. Then, with a barely perceptible teasing glint in her eye she added, "Payback's a bitch, isn't it?"
In response to Jareth's puzzled expression, Sarah continued, "This morning? Remember I told you you'd pay for the way Kimmie walked in on us?"
As Sarah's tone definitely had a teasing quality to it, things suddenly didn't seem so hopeless to Jareth.