Continuing Tales

Second Chances

A Labyrinth Story
by Stormlight

Part 8 of 18

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Second Chances

Jareth solved the little problem of explaining how he and Sarah knew each other by simply erasing the little scene Sarah had performed in the kitchen from both Pixie and Toby’s memories. Sarah, of course, was righteously indignant at the thought of having her family’s minds tampered with, but he managed to assure her that it was the best thing; namely, he threatened to leave *her* to think up an excuse, which they both knew she was not up to at the moment.

So after that, an uneasy truce was forged between the two of them, both silently agreeing to keep their grievances with each other private until a suitable time presented itself to air them out. What with Toby and Pixie being around all the time, that wasn’t likely to happen anytime soon, and Sarah was, truthfully, rather relieved. She settled herself into her room and concentrated on getting well, and so long as she didn’t manage to run into Jareth, she could almost forget he was there.


Unfortunately, to Sarah’s consternation and Jareth’s bemusement, Toby seemed to take a shine to the former Goblin King, and at first Jareth didn’t know what to make of it. He allowed Toby to follow him around the barn as he did his chores, mostly because it was somewhat new to him to have a child willingly follow him anywhere.

Sarah watched them with jealous eyes. Here she had been hoping that by bringing Toby out here she could mend the fragile sibling-relationship between the two of them, maybe bring out the sweet little boy Toby had used to be. And yet it seemed now that whenever she wished to do anything with Toby, he was always off somewhere with Jareth, walking in the forest or hanging around the barn or such.

Jealousy was not the only emotion Sarah felt in dealing with Jareth and her little brother. She could not shake the concern that Jareth might do something to Toby, if only to spite her. True, according to him he had no more power; at least, not like he used to have, but there were many other ways to hurt children, and one did not need to be a powerful faerie lord to use most of them. So she spent most of her time recovering, helping in the kitchen washing dishes, and keeping an eye on the sneaky trickster. She was determined that, should Jareth really try something, she would stop him before he succeeded one way or another.

* * * * *

A few days later, Toby was watching as Jareth dumped a load of hay into the bin in the horses’ pen, kicking his feet against the wall from his perch at the end of the loft. "So what did you do before you came here?" he asked after awhile. As he’d expected, Jareth merely gave him a side-ways glance and didn’t answer. That was nothing new. As much as Toby was curious about the stranger in his aunt’s house, the stranger could care less about Toby. He tolerated the boy’s presence mostly for Pixie’s sake, Toby guessed. That was okay. At least he was another guy.

He seemed an interesting sort, too, not like his old aunt and his sister, who had a habit of gushing all over him in her displays of sisterly devotion. Toby knew that Sarah only wanted to make him feel like he was wanted, to make up for all those months she’d had to be gone with her acting company and all. He knew she blamed herself for his trouble in school and with the cops, and he felt guilty for making her blame herself, when he knew it was his own fault he was always in trouble. But sometimes her efforts to make everything better were stifling.

He wanted to do what he wanted, to have some fun after all the pain he’d been put through. Here he had thought that being dragged out into the country was going to be boring, but now that Jareth was here…well, maybe it would be fun after all. For some reason, Jareth reminded him of someone he knew. He didn’t know why, but Jareth seemed awfully familiar. Toby wanted to know why. The best way to find out was to hang around and ask questions until Jareth started talking. That was harder than one would think. He had fast discovered that Jareth didn’t really like to talk. Toby chewed on his lower lip for awhile as he thought of a way to get Jareth to pay attention to him. Then a wicked grin split his face; one that would have made Jareth proud, had he seen it. "So," Toby began coyly. "I bet I know why you came here. I bet you and Aunt Pixie are lovers. Isn’t that right?"

Bingo. Jareth spun around so quickly he was almost a blur, and fixed Toby with an icy glare with those weird eyes that would have made anyone else cringe. Not Toby. He matched the older man, stare for stare, and tried not to look too pleased at having so obviously ruffled his feathers. "Thought that’d get your attention," he smirked, and Jareth grimaced with distaste.

"Do all boys your age have such dirty minds?" he muttered.

"Nope. Just the normal ones," Toby cheerfully replied. "So anyhow, how come you have two different eyes? Were you in an accident or something?"

Jareth sighed. "No, it wasn’t any accident," he replied with carefully controlled patience. "I was born with them, like a birthmark of sorts."

"Cool," Toby replied simply, reaching over to feed Clyde a handful of hay. "Want to go riding later? I bet both of us could fit on one horse. We can race Sarah. She always brags about what a good rider she is, but I bet she couldn’t beat us if we took her on. Say, you never said what you used to do before you came here."

Jareth cocked his head at the child, amused at the sudden change of topic. "Why do you talk so much?" he asked curiously. Toby looked surprised, then blushed and hung his head, embarrassed. "I was just curious," he mumbled.

Jareth felt a momentary pang of something unfamiliar, and he realized that it was guilt. Fancy that, he thought with wry amusement. **This world must be wearing off on me, if I feel guilty for being rude to a child who would have probably been a goblin by now, were I still king.** Out loud, he replied, "I used to be an…overseer of sorts, over in England. London, to be precise." He had looked on a map and read up on this England place in an encyclopedia, so he knew what he was talking about now.

"Did you make a lot of money?" Toby was asking curiously. "My dad is…" He stopped suddenly, a touch of sadness passing through his eyes. "I mean…my dad was a manager at this really big company, almost a vice-president. He made a lot of money, too," he mumbled, looking at the ground.

Was. Jareth frowned. Pixie had told him what had happened to Sarah and Toby’s parents, and how Sarah had worked to keep Toby with her, although they had ended up drifting further and further apart despite her efforts to keep them together. Her career was taking over, and it was hurting Toby. **Just like Sarah’s mother’s career had taken over. The difference being, Sarah has enough compassion and heart to realize it, and to try to mend the damage.**

Just another reason why Jareth loved her. She was not the heartless creature he’d thought. She had plenty of heart. Too much, in fact, and it very nearly killed her when she tried to stretch herself too thin, trying to please everybody in the world and her family all at once. Jareth pitied her. She was living her dreams, but did living her dreams mean she had to kill herself doing it?

"Was your father a good man?" he asked, cautiously. Toby looked up with obvious surprise, then nodded. "He was great," he replied. "So was Mom, but her and Sarah didn’t get along too well, ‘cause Sarah didn’t like to be bossed around by someone who wasn’t her real mom. Her real mom was an actress, you know, just like Sarah is. Sarah’s a whole lot better than her mom, though. People are always swarming around her, and she’s always in the news and everything. Well, she was ‘till she got sick and had to stop acting, but I guess she’s gonna start again once she’s better."

"Does Sarah like her life?" Jareth asked cautiously. He had already asked Sarah the same thing, and she had haughtily informed him that her life was perfect…but he couldn’t help but feel that maybe there was more to it than she was going to admit. She had told him her life was perfect…she had not said that she *liked* it. There was a world of meaning in the choosing of words. One phrase spoken in just a way could have any number of meanings, and Jareth was the master of manipulation, after all. After eons of time, he should know by now most of those meanings.

"Sarah loves her life," Toby was saying. "She loves acting more than anything." He paused, then added, as though the thought had just occurred to him, "She doesn’t much like the reporters, though. She gets all panicky when they’re around, ‘cause they hold such sway over the people. That’s what she said. One story can make or break her career, and leave her in the dust, like her mom. She said that, too. She puts up with the reporters ‘cause that’s all part of it, but she doesn’t like it. She told me once she always has to lay down after an interview, ‘cause she gets so tired from trying not to say anything dumb and to look like the Sarah Williams the world expects to see. Whatever that means."

Jareth listened silently, fascinated in spite of himself. His Sarah, who had so bravely faced him down in the Labyrinth when so many others merely cowered before him, afraid of a few mortal storytellers? Surely the boy was mistaken! Sarah, he felt, was not one to cower before *anything*. Well, he was determined to find out more about Sarah from Toby, since she was unlikely to tell him anything on her own. He suddenly smiled at the boy. "How about we go for a walk in the woods?" he suggested suddenly, much to Toby’s surprise, and delight.

"Sure!" the boy replied eagerly. "Hey, we can look for deer tracks! And Pixie said she saw a fox in the field the other day. We can look for its den. Maybe it’s got babies in it."

Jareth highly doubted it, but he decided to humor the boy. Besides, he needed some fresh air. Being away from his home was a bit harder on him than he’d anticipated, and he constantly needed to restore his strength and what was left of his magic in the natural woodlands surrounding him. So, with Toby tagging along behind him, he left the barn and headed into the forest, Toby talking non-stop all the way.


Second Chances

A Labyrinth Story
by Stormlight

Part 8 of 18

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