Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 22 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Power Struggle Sarah awoke much as she had the previous morning, wondering what she really ought to do with the arm draped across her middle and further whether or not the comfort she took in it was a good thing. However, the decision was quickly taken out of her hands when a goblin of the darker lands materialized in front of her face. He sneered and thrust out his gnarled hand, a cream colored sheet of paper half-crumpled in his fingers (of which there were six and a half; Sarah didn't care to ask what had happened to the rest of his third finger). Jareth reached out over Sarah, removing the warmth that had rested there a moment before, and promptly took the notice without a word. Sarah nodded as the goblin shot one more glare and disappeared again.

"What's it say?" Sarah prodded.

"The meetings will start in an hour."

"The meetings? Only an hour?"

Jareth stretched his arms over his head and Sarah had to marvel again at his catlike grace. "Less really."

Shaking her head, Sarah asked again, "Still, what are the meetings?"

"I believe they have been mentioned to you at some point."

"Wait, this is where all the arguments happen and whatnot, right?"

Jareth then propped himself up on one elbow with a relaxed grin, a sign Sarah took to mean that he wasn't going to add much more to her explanation.

It didn't make sense, really. Vampires would probably want a meeting time that was, say, at night. Why in the world would they choose to start everything as early in the morning as they could get away with? Such was the first problem of the day. The second she discovered upon opening her closet: all of her gowns had drastically changed style…and fabric.

"Jareth?" Sarah yawned. "I just put these in two nights ago and they definitely were not all velvet with high necks. Did you have anything to do with this?"

The easy smile across Jareth's face slid off. "Yes," he replied simply.

"Care to explain?"

He stood up and stretched a little more, pulling one arm across his chest. "No, not really."

"Okay, given the fact that there are vampires down the hall, I understand why they're suddenly all high necks. But long sleeves? I'm not quite that matronly. And I'll be sweating enough as it is without sitting in velvet."

She waved a hand in front of the closet, but Jareth caught her wrist before she could finish turning them all into their initial fibers.

"I have to override you on this matter, Sarah."

Sarah turned to face him. "They are my clothes, Jareth."

"Nonetheless, they will stay as they are now."

"I might stop fighting you if you just start to explain why. Until then, I really don't appreciate you making decisions regardless of how I feel about them." Sarah pulled her wrist out of his grasp. "It's too early in the morning to be squabbling."

"I believe that it is also 'Later' as well."

Sarah wracked her brains for a moment, glaring at Jareth suspiciously. Ah, of course, what happened with Orion.

"Look, I told you nothing happened with Orion. Can we get back to why you want to change the school dress code? I'm not afraid of detention anymore, Jareth. Please, just meet me halfway, here."

"The man who says he is willing to meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance."

"Laurence Peter," Sarah replied, surprised. "All the same, I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement here."

"Your clothing options are non-negotiable, Sarah," Jareth informed her once more.

Sarah gritted her teeth. "Give me a good reason why, Jareth, and I'll stop fighting you."

"What did Orion say to you?"

"What has that got to do with it?"

"It has everything to do with it."

"I really didn't think it was that severe of an offense by what you said then, talking about the bet and Orion's youthful impertinence."

"Would you rather have discussed all elements of political gleaning there were anyone could have walked by or cast up a ward to remove all doubt?"

Sarah threw up her hands. "Somehow I don't think we're going to get anywhere at this rate, Jareth. And before you even go telling me there are things I just wouldn't understand, I'm going to go take a shower and get some coffee. Maybe then we could get something accomplished here."

Thankfully, Jareth allowed her to enter the bathroom unimpeded. As she let the water from the tarnished workings cascade down, she sought to find to wake up enough to find some of the reasoning and motivations behind the whole discussion, and incorporating whatever body language she could remember to back up her theories. Sarah snorted, wondering when court intrigue techniques had started to leech into her skull. Still not any closer to an answer but calmer, Sarah wrapped a bathrobe around herself and went to face the issue of the wardrobe.

She stifled her surprised shriek just in time. Jareth was standing, fully dressed and ready, in front of the bathroom door with his arms crossed and glare set.

"Don't do that," Sarah admonished, willing her heart to resume normal function.

He raised an eyebrow, slightly amused, but quickly settling in again to his stony stance, though moving aside slightly so as to allow her into the room. Sitting down heavily on the bed, Sarah waved her hand and a small ceramic mug appeared.

"Look, I know neither of us like this whole bending thing or giving in or whatever the hell you want to call it, but if you give me some coffee, I guess I'll get things started. Okay?" Sarah held out her mug. Jareth relaxed his arms and Sarah registered the sudden, slight weight in her hand.

"Thanks." Sarah took a sip and grinned, in spite of it all. It was good coffee. "Now what do you want to know, specifically?"

"Best start at the beginning."

"It'd still be easier if you gave me a starting question."

"Why did you agree to accompany him to the balcony?"

"Did you not hear that song? It was absolutely wretched. He offered to get me out of there and escorted me outside."

"What did you talk about? Try remember as much of his exact wording as possible."

Aware that Jareth was probably searching for hidden meanings (particularly after the comment on 'gleaning'), Sarah closed her eyes and tried to play back all that she could. "Some parts get kind of hazy," she admitted, "but he started by commenting about the view and mentioning that there is still beauty in this kingdom and that he'd very much like to show it to me. Then I said we'd, meaning you and me, be happy to. He said he didn't think you'd care for it and they don't like you anyway…" Sarah faltered for a moment and opened her eyes, taking another long sip of her coffee as she gathered what she remembered.

"Yes?" Jareth prompted, one hand raised to his mouth as his eyes focused inward in thought.

"He said I was something quite different and everything really started to get hazy. Then he was trying to get me to agree to go then and there, getting a little too close. I snapped out of it and told him to back off." Sarah sighed. "My guess is you won't like what he said next and that's probably why it's important. He said we weren't married in all senses. I started to tell him off, saying it was none of his business, and he grabbed me."

She glanced at Jareth, who apart from meeting her gaze rather than an absent look, had made no other reaction.

"I take it none of that is good news?"

"Certainly not, Sarah. It does confirm my suspicions."

Sarah stood up. "That's it? You annoy me all morning to confirm your suspicions? Care to enlighten me?"

Jareth turned and took a seat, tossing one elegant leg over the other. "Later."

"Oh no you don't, it's still 'later,' remember? We're in this together, bet aside." Sarah crossed her arms in across her chest, trying to copy his same glare, breaking that trace occasionally to take another sip.

Jareth only smiled at her in a way Sarah would have almost called an endearing manner if that patronizing edge wasn't still there.

Exasperated, Sarah asked, "Could you at least explain the velvet?"

Jareth's face took on a more serious expression again as he stood up and stopped his purposeful stride just in front of Sarah. She refused to back away although she was suddenly quite aware that she wasn't exactly clothed, particularly resolute when she remembered why this was the case. Still, something about the whole thing made Sarah decidedly uneasy for reasons she didn't want to dwell on at this particular moment. He raised one hand and Sarah watched as it came to gently rest on her cheek, his long fingers encased in the soft leather skimming her jawbone. Sarah, wishing that she was any good at reading expressions, refocused her attention to Jareth's face as he seemed to inspect her features.

Finding her breath, Sarah prompted, "Well?"

The corner of Jareth's mouth, which Sarah could see very well, quirked up slightly at her impatience.

"Sarah, you have surmised the reason for the high necks. The velvet has a similar reason."

He rubbed his thumb along her cheekbone. Sarah stood in utter confusion, wondering if she should lean in to the small caress in with her instinct or demand that he explain the comment further or just have him explain himself further.

"Vampires have a rather acute sense of touch, Sarah. They find the texture repugnant." He stepped away, taking his hand with him Sarah noted somewhere in the back of her mind.

"So why didn't you try and do this in the beginning?"

"I didn't think it was going to be a problem."

Ah, Sarah thought, now we're getting somewhere. Taking another gulp of her nearly forgotten coffee, Sarah asked, "What exactly is the problem, Jareth?"

"The way Orion cavorts around with you is insulting, Sarah, to both myself and your office. I will not have him touch what is mine."

He said it all in such a matter-of-fact tone yet Sarah's mind reeled at all the implications.

When Sarah made no reply, Jareth reminded her again, "It is not an option, Sarah."

Realizing that they were running out of time, Sarah began to wave her hand toward the closet and form a spell, only to be stopped by Jareth snatching her wrist again, an expression of anger across his face even the simplest goblin could understand.

"Relax, Jareth," Sarah soothed before the don't-defy-me's came in. "I'm only going to shorten the sleeves a bit and otherwise give myself some other places to breathe."

He released his grip and crossed his arms again.

"What? You don't trust me?"

"No, I'm curious as to what you meant by the latter part."

Sarah completed the spell, the sleeves all ranging from deep bells, that though not shorter allowed for more circulation, to those that ended at her elbow. Some of the fronts and backs of her dresses had changed from the simple design Jareth had collectively cast to a sheer patch of fabric crossed and striped with swatches of velvet, some in varying colors, just enough to add a bit of air flow. Jareth nodded and surprisingly didn't have any comments to make. Dressing as quickly as possible, Sarah took Jareth's arm as they made their way briskly down the hall.

"If you have anything to add during these meetings, Sarah, you are welcome to do so, though I advise you consider all the implications of your words, what your education has benefited you with thus far, and therefore make any cleaning up I need to do as painless as possible."

Sarah rolled her eyes, recognizing that Jareth was in better spirits again. "You could have said 'choose your words' wisely and that would have gotten the point across just as well."

Jareth shrugged with a particular grin. "Perhaps."

Sarah swatted his arm.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 22 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>