Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 2 of 50

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Power Struggle

"Sarah? Are you okay?"

Sarah started and blinked, certain that she had seen something in her glass paperweight. "I'm fine, Jen."

"Are you sure, Sarah? You were staring at that paperweight like you were trying to will it to fly across the room."

"Maybe I was trying to telekinetic-cate that thing right through Derek's office window."

Jen giggled for a moment. "Sorry, Sarah, I still don't think he'd take a hint."

Smiling, Sarah still had to grudgingly agree. "No, I daresay he wouldn't. After four months, he was certain we'd be together forever."

"Haven't you talked to him yet?" Jen asked with a sigh.

"Yes and again. He just willfully misunderstands me."

Jen made a noncommittal noise and shrugged. "I always thought he was such a sweet guy."

"Oh he's sweet and thoughtful and caring and—"

"Tell me again why you broke up with him?" Jen interrupted disbelievingly. "Most girls would kill for just one of those traits, dear."

"He has no imagination, Jen, no impulse or spontaneity. Too caught in this world to think of anything more. If it's not practical than it's not worth his time. He doesn't even read historical fiction."

"So? I'd be willing to overlook it," Jen said with a smile.

"All the same, you can see he's pretty possessive."

Jen shrugged, "It still could be loads worse."

"Please, be my guest," Sarah said with her hands raised in exasperation. "I've told you before, you just have to go and ask him."

"I couldn't say anything to him. I'd just…freeze…or make an idiot of myself." Sarah closed her eyes and shook her head. "Besides," Jen continued in a depressed tone, "He's never even looked at me."

Sarah opened her eyes and she glanced at her friend with a quizzical expression. Jen's curly black hair fell halfway down the back of her tasteful pantsuit with a couple of locks across the flawless makeup of her face; the word around the office was that Jen had been a model and Sarah swore that if she wasn't Jen's friend she would have likely hated her. "I don't know how you could say that, Jen. Just go show him who you are and he'll never let you go. One way or the other, trust me." Jen remained unconvinced but Sarah let it be, instead veering the conversation back to the sketches of Mr. Richard's living room they were supposed to be designing.

More than once during the day, Sarah found her thoughts drifting back to her dream and more importantly the apparent ramifications she hadn't yet considered. Obviously, her harmless dreams were something much more significant to have brought Jareth out of the Underground without the draw of a spoken wish…assuming that that had actually been Jareth and not a figment of her half-awake imagination (but for some reason she couldn't manage to convince herself of that possibility). She was certain that the Underground existed, finding it impossible to shrug the experience off as merely a complicated dream, especially when the lessons therein didn't fade like a normal dream…that and a few scrapes and bruises from the ordeal hadn't escaped her notice. Afterwards, she called on her friends on a limited basis (less and less frequently as she grew older) but when she was truly feeling low they often found a way to meet her before the words crossed her mind. The small battered book had a special place in her new apartment, hidden away from peering eyes just in case.

Against her own will, Sarah had grown. Oh she still kept her dreams but thrived in her ever-growing fantasies when she was sure she could get away with it and held it in her thoughts when she couldn't. Perhaps, she mused, this was why her dreams had ventured back to the Underground, her imagination stifled to only half the day rather than its entirety. New responsibilities and boundaries to her fantasies had slowly constructed themselves over time and soon she was an independent woman working as a designer in the profitable firm of Froman & Alexis (complete with her own business cards) whose specialty was in dream homes with an eccentric twist (the medieval castle for her first client was a huge success). Slowly but surely, she was making a name for herself.

When she finally unlocked the door to her apartment, she plopped heavily on the couch with a banana and a Pepsi, ready to enjoy a night free of any restraints. The phone started ringing and she was a few inches from the receiver when the answering machine picked it up, indicating that someone else had already left a message. Caution suddenly kicking in, she was grateful she didn't pick up the phone before listening to it was; naturally it was Derek.

"Hey Babe. If you weren't up to anything tonight I have a ticket with your name on it for the symphony. Just give me a call on my cell. I'll keep an ear out for you. Sure hope you can make it."

"I told you we're through," Sarah grumbled at the answering machine, deleting the message as quickly as possible. Hitting another series of buttons, another voice rang out of Sarah's answering machine. The first was the dry cleaner's but the second brought a smile to her lips.

"Hiya Sarah! It's Toby. Umm…Mom and Dad just wanna know if you'll be home for my birthday on Saturday. You'd better be there. Just 'cause I'm not old enough to drive don't mean I won't come after you and you know it. Later!"

Snatching up the phone, she dialed home and was met with Toby's enthusiastic, "Hi Sis!"

"How'd you know it was me, Squirt?"

"Caller ID has been around for a few years now, Sarah," he replied dryly and she could nearly hear him smirk.

"Very funny. Maybe I'll just return your birthday present then…"

"Don't you dare!"

"Oh, and why not?" she teased back.

Having troubled coming up with a retort, Toby just laughed, certain that his sister would refrain from committing such an unspeakable crime. "So you're coming, then?"

"If that's alright with you."

"Duh. Mom and Dad have your old room made up and everything."

"Great. I'll be there on Friday evening and I can stay until Wednesday so we'll have plenty of time to hang out."

"I've still got school," Toby grumbled with an audible pout.

"You're almost free for the summer, don't complain too much. At least you have the summer."

Seeing the opportunity, Toby gloated for the next few moments until Sarah threatened to retain his present until Christmas and he backed off. Some twenty minutes later after much cheerful raillery, Karen's voice broke through and ushered Toby toward his neglected homework.

"I gotta go."

"Yeah, math waits for no one, I hear. See you Friday."

"Yep. Bye."


"And don't forget my present!"

Sarah chuckled. "I won't!" As Sarah hung up the phone, she smiled to herself with the thought that at almost eleven years old he was a bit too clever for his own good. Sighing and taking a slurp of her Pepsi, Sarah pulled out her sketchbook and started on a random drawing. Her thoughts drifted away from the TV and her sketchbook page had little to show but a rough outline of…something…as instead she settled back on the dilemma of Jareth's appearance. Not his appearance, really, but why he'd suddenly been in her room. He was still as attractive and alluring as she remembered (though her memory had toned down his hair a notch) but she tried to shrug that off in light of the situation. Besides, she'd pushed aside that schoolgirl-crush years ago.

She shook her head. Evidently, understood from his warning to stay on her side, she had crossed a line somewhere…somehow. Sarah leaned back on the couch, further wondering that if she had actually been in the Labyrinth, was she somehow working magic? What had happened to those children? Racking her brain, Sarah realized she had no clear memory of what had become of them, something perhaps she didn't wish to consider. So where had he been in the midst of those other challenges? Why was a mortal doing his job?

If all of this had been in the context of a regular dream, Sarah mused, then this mental discussion would be much simpler. I never have that sort of luck. All the same, there wasn't much she could do about it, seeing as she was certain really what had happened or how it had happened. The phone rang and Sarah jerked, reaching for it as Jen's voice started to chirp from the machine.

"Hey, I was wondering if you were up for something tonight?"

Sarah smiled. "What have you got in mind?"

Sarah squinted and glared at her alarm clock, willing it to cease its shrill and unwelcome beeping. To her relief and mild surprise it did, but she peeled herself from the warm covers regardless, head still aching. Her fumbling hands managed to compile some form of breakfast that she barely tasted after a shower she scarcely felt. Last night was a haze, well most of it but for a few key points. Jen and a few other friends from work (Matt, Hailey, Virgil, and that new girl with PR) went for a night on the town, starting at a roller rink just because Hailey finally convinced the rest of the group that they'd all have a great time…though most of the group nursed some new bruises while she started on all sorts of little tricks and spins. Miraculously, no matter how many times she'd fallen Sarah sported no injuries. The group decided to move on after Matt took an elbow in the face when Jen windmilled for the umpteenth time. From then on, it was a series of clubs and whatever else struck their attention. At the bar of one club, Martini Bill's or some such thing, Sarah was intercepted by a most unwelcome sight as Derek immediately flashed one of his devastating smiles.

"Hi Sarah! I guess you didn't get my message earlier."

Sarah cringed. "Guess not," she said noncommittally.

Thankfully, Jen sashayed her way over. "Derek! How're you?"

Sarah tried to sneak away as discreetly as possible while they made small talk but Derek kept managing to draw her back in some way or another. Just when Sarah was about finished with being polite, she noticed a waitress scuttle through the crowd, full tray floating dangerously over his head; willing it silently to topple over, she was just as surprised as he was when the whole thing spilled down on top of him. Simultaneously cursing her cowardice and thanking her good fortune, she snuck away while the waitress effused her apologies.

She'd taken her leave of the rest of the group then, still trying to figure out what had happened and opting to take a taxi home after a few goodbyes. The gruff driver kept a clean cab and was soon on his way back to her apartment.


The voice in the front seat suddenly shifted from a deep voice to a lighter, commanding tone and she was immediately at attention. Sure enough, her driver was replaced.


"You need to stop."

Sarah glanced at his eyes in the rearview mirror, the irony not lost on her that the King of the Goblins was in the driver's seat of the taxi while she rode in the back, the meter still ticking away. She chose not to laugh, all the same.

"Stop what?" she asked.

"Stop. No more magic."

"Jareth, I don't even know what you're talking about. How can I stop if I don't even know what's going—"

"—Miss? Is there something wrong?"

Sarah stopped, flabbergasted and furious that the driver had suddenly returned. Swallowing her frustration, she simply mumbled, "Nothing. Just thinking aloud."

Shoving the events from her head, she realized that she was already halfway to work. Two visits from Jareth in two days…chances were, Sarah mentally declared, this wasn't a good sign. It'd be easiest just to declare herself insane than deal with this. Only one thing was left to do, she shrugged, bury herself in work and ignore it.

Jareth slumped back in his chair alone in his private study. His wide, rich red finish desk was strewn with assorted papers of all sizes and a few different languages, some matters of national diplomacy and others pertaining to simple matters such as a feud between two goblins that had started over the wishbone of a chicken dinner. Books lined the walls, again, in varying sizes from one volume no larger than Jareth's thumbnail and another that would take two men to lift back into place. The large windows which usually presented the room with a glorious view of the Labyrinth were dark but for the light of the waning moons. The walls and ceiling were of the same stone as the rest of the castle but the normal dankness wasn't an issue for the cozy room. A knock disrupted Jareth's silence but he didn't answer, already certain of who it was. Marek knew as soon as he entered that the King was not himself as soon as he saw the normally erect posture relaxed and hunched. No matter how tired Jareth was, he wouldn't have let anyone else see him in such a way so as not to infer any sign of weakness but Marek wasn't just anyone.

"Care to talk about it?" Marek asked lightly.

"I'm seeing to it on my own," he deadpanned.

Marek sighed but knew it wasn't any good to press him further; instead it was better to wait and Jareth would open up eventually. Of course, knowing that didn't make it any easier especially when "eventually" could be years down the road. Something of importance was definitely happening. The first sign had been sometime back when Jareth had overslept an important meeting with the Elves who were far from pleased but agreed to return; Marek had nearly run to the king's chambers ready to demand an explanation…not expecting to see Jareth's ashen face looking truly ill for the first time in nearly two hundred years. His normally pale skin now had a tint of grey in it that made Marek uneasy again. Then there was always the castle gossip to filter through but even Marek had been baffled by the stories goblins shared when they thought no one else was around. Something with a mortal. A female mortal who'd been here before. A female mortal who'd been here before with some sort of authority.

"I can send your apologies to your appointments today if you wish to cancel."

"No, that's not necessary."

Marek bit his tongue for a moment but decided to try to pull rank. "As your advisor, Jareth, I'm asking again."

"As your king, I'll again refuse," Jareth stated, his eyebrow raised in mild surprise.

Marek sighed. "Then as your friend, I'm telling you that you don't look well and I'm asking you to take some time to get some sleep."

"I'm fine, Marek," Jareth assured him with a sigh of his own.

"Jareth, I've known you for how long now? Ask me if I believe you."

"What's the point?"

"Is it something to do with this mortal?"

Jareth's face darkened for a moment. "What have you heard of that?"

"Nothing more than what you've told me before," Marek said innocently. At Jareth's disbelieving glance, he added, "And what the castle gossip has been going on about."

Jareth rubbed the bridge of his nose for a moment, making Marek all the more worried; Jareth during one of his headaches was not an experience for the faint of heart. "Of course, the gossip," was all he said. The fireplace crackled and hissed but no one paid it any mind. Marek took a seat and watched his friend and king. Jareth pretended not to notice, attempting to focus on what needed to be done.

"Has it something to do with what we talked about on—"

"Yes," Jareth interrupted.

"I see," Marek replied, leaning back in his seat and running a hand across his face. "This mortal, though, she is the one that beat the Labyrinth before." It was a statement rather than a question and Jareth knew full well what he had implicated with his probe.

"Nothing's certain yet."

"But it doesn't look like it could be anything else."

"No," Jareth confessed, "it doesn't."

"Well, I guess we've got nothing left to do but wait," Marek sighed.

"Wonderful," Jareth mumbled and returned his attention to the sheet of paper before him without really reading it.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 2 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>