Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 25 of 50

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Power Struggle

Whether it was because it was the right thing to do or because he really didn't know what else to do, Jareth said nothing as Sarah continued to curl to his chest and cry. He rested his cheek on the top of her head, having taken a seat on the bed, and rocked slightly. As Sarah's tears slowed to long, shaky breaths, Jareth murmured a few quiet words of encouragement. He leaned back so as to get a better look at her as she glanced up at him, eyes slightly puffy and the cut on her lip still angry and red. Thankfully, there was no mark on her throat to match.

"Oh, Sarah. Why didn't you call for me sooner?" Jareth asked, using two fingers to lift her chin and better survey the damage.

Sarah pulled away, ashamed. "I tried."

Jareth gently reverted her gaze with his fingertips. "I started looking for you as soon as I felt the draw on the magic. I only knew where you were when I heard your scream echo inside my head. Please, don't do that again."

She turned away again, feeling herself flush. Jareth took her face in both hands and held it until Sarah met his eyes.

"Never be afraid to look at me, Sarah. And please never allow yourself into that kind of position ever again." There was a strange look in his face as he said it, almost a softness within some of the sharp angles of his jaw and cheekbones. And as for what he was saying, well, Sarah was trying to process it as fast as she could, her brain temporarily on overload. The way he had said "Please don't do that again," hadn't been a patronizing note like chastising a toddler who had made a mess of the kitchen; no, he certainly implied more than asking Sarah to use her inside voice. He ran a thumb down her lips and Sarah registered the slight tingling as he healed the split. Sarah leaned into his left hand, raising her hands to hold his other in place and hitching a small sob. Sometimes, Sarah was certain that she knew exactly how she felt about this man.

With a small smile, Jareth kissed her forehead. Tears began to fill Sarah's eyes again, to her frustration. Her emotions were easily on overload along with her brain and there wasn't much to do about it at this point. Anger, fear, relief, confusion, frustration, gratitude, affection, it was all building up. Sarah retreated back to her position against Jareth's chest, his arms coming to wrap around her again and chuckling deep in his throat when she snuggled against him. The room fell quiet again. Jareth glanced over at the fire place and soon a gentle crackling filled the gaps of silence. Despite the cheery blaze, the room didn't lose its eldritch cast. Sarah uncurled her arms and wrapped them around Jareth's middle, taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly.

"It's been a long day," she mumbled against Jareth's open collar.

"You cause so much trouble, Sarah. It's a wonder I keep you around."

Sarah snorted. "You could still send that bus after me, you know. If you pick a double-decker bus in London, my family could talk about the Underground without having to make up a new story each time."

"I trust there's an explanation for that?"

Sarah just laughed and soon found that she couldn't stop. It wasn't even that funny, but it was better than crying. Eventually, Jareth laughed, too.

"You are a strange creature, my dear."

"That's a bit rich coming from you, Jareth."

Sarah could feel his smile, his cheek still resting on top of her head. "Perhaps. We do make quite a pair."

A voice rang through the room. "Sarah? Are you there? When did you say we could call again?"

Sarah untangled an arm and conjured a crystal. "Toby, there's no need to yell."

"Sarah! Have you met the dragons yet?"

"Toby," Sarah's father admonished, allowing the rest of what he would have said to an implied silence.

"Sorry," Toby mumbled, not seeming particularly sorry all the same, "How's it going, Sarah?"

"I'm okay. Actually, this really isn't a good time, Toby."

Judging by the glance they shared, Sarah could tell that her parents had already assessed her tearstains. She managed a small smile. "I'll call you guys tomorrow. Hopefully some of this will clear up by then."

"You're sure you're alright, Sarah?" her father asked.

"I will be, Dad. I'll talk to you soon." Sarah waved the crystal away. Jareth's hand had moved to her hair, Sarah's skin tingling wherever his fingertips momentarily lingered.

"I would have thought you'd appreciate the comfort of talking to your family," he mentioned offhandedly.

"You're doing a pretty good job," Sarah replied with a slight blush, finding his fingertips slightly distracting. "Plus, they really wouldn't understand, at least not without a little bit of work keeping them rational enough to listen."

"No, I wouldn't imagine so. Skillets might make another storming appearance."

"I'm pretty sure that was especially for you, Jareth. Orion would get garlic and a stake through the heart."

"Most of the necessary tools at hand, at any rate."

Jareth's fingers had found Sarah's neck and she shivered slightly as it ran down her back in a solid flush.

"He was after you anyway. I was just a convenient means," Sarah murmured against the column of his throat.

Jareth nodded slightly. "I see. And you certainly gave him more than he was expecting. Looked like you broke his cheekbone to me."

"Yeah, a little bit of magical help went a long way, I think."

Jareth rested his temple to the top of her head. "You're safe so I'd say it went far enough."

Sarah took another deep, shuddering breath, allowing herself to relax a little more. "I never did thank you for saving me. If I had to be stuck in such a ridiculous situation, I'm actually glad that it's you with me. I never would have considered it about a month ago, before things started getting weird with the dreams and all, but I'm still glad it's you."

She raised her head, turned and kissed the corner of his mouth. He responded with a kiss in turn, until Sarah found herself quite breathless.

"You're welcome." Then he kissed her again. Sarah hadn't thought any further than that but the situation was quickly out of her mind's control. Now, Sarah was thinking through flashing sensations. A delicious pang here, a rough tickle there. Sitting on top of Jareth's lap, she was soon quite reminded that he was indeed very male. Though Jareth wasn't wearing his usual style shirt (still sporting his regency garb though with the collar open to expose his clavicle), Sarah still managed to work her hands to the warm, smooth skin of his chest. Jareth's kiss deepened and he rolled sharply, half pinning Sarah beneath him, running his hands along the material of her dress and simultaneously moving to her jaw line. Moaning softly before she could stop herself, Jareth quite suddenly broke away, resting his forehead on hers.

"Is this really what you want, Sarah?" he breathed, taking her lips once more with his as she caught his bottom lip between her teeth gently. He pulled back again and waited for her answer.

Her body was giving her the go-ahead, with an emphatic, uh yes, but her brain chose an untimely moment to kick back in, effectively causing Sarah to visibly hesitate.

Jareth sighed and dropped his head, his hair tickling Sarah's exposed skin. "Not if you're just seeking comfort, Sarah. Not this time." He kissed her one more time, a possessive promise of the future, before standing up. Sarah propped herself up on one elbow and watched as he turned into an owl before jumping out the window.

She flopped back down, feeling vaguely rejected. Somewhere in her mind, she realized with a blip of surprise that he was doing the gentlemanly thing.

Damn it.

Sitting up quickly, Sarah decided she needed a shower. A nice, long (possibly cold) shower. Still, her mind was free to wander and had plenty of fodder; it had been quite an eventful day:

Acknowledging quite readily that herself and her husband had fantastic chemistry, wondering what was with the dark goblins, a fantasy or two involving the very shower she currently inhabited, righteous anger toward Orion, what Jareth was capable of in that kind of anger, what Jareth was capable of, whatever had happened to Orion under Ack's watch, since killing the prince was taboo whether or not she could get away with castrating him, how was she supposed to act toward Orion's parents after that, would her public face with Jareth turn awkward, how much was Marek going to tease them, what happened to Marek anyway, did she really have to follow through with the goblins after that, would a headache get her out of the meetings as it would have Elizabeth Bennet, but above all else, how did she get herself into this mess?

When she was ready to wish Toby over and mean it this time, Sarah stepped out of the shower and laughed at herself. Despite it all, Sarah thought she was taking everything remarkably well. What she needed now was some distance, if she was going to see anything clearly. However, in light of recent events, Sarah thought it wise not to leave the room. She conjured herself a book (which wasn't quite as she had once remembered it) and curled up in a chair. With the emotional and physical drain of the day, Sarah quickly fell asleep though not soundly. The next thing Sarah remembered was sleepily acknowledging that the arms carrying her felt like her husband's and they had his scent, too, as Jareth magically changed her into some pajamas and set her underneath the covers.

Sarah didn't need to ask Jareth to hold her as she slept that night.

Sure enough, the next morning Sarah found herself quite uncertain as to what was, well, allowed. However, this did leave the door open for experimenting since she didn't necessarily know what sort of reactions she might meet. Kissing his exposed collarbone, Sarah slowly ventured along Jareth's neck, a spot she was growing quite fond of, to end just shy of his lips which were curved into a smile.

"Good morning to you, too," he whispered in a low voice. He pulled her closer and kissed her in a way that left Sarah unable to think straight, other than she doubted she would tire of such affections any time soon.

"I have a few things to discuss with the dragons," Jareth informed her as he touched her cheek and untangled himself from the bedclothes. "I'll be back in an hour or so, perhaps less if you would like to talk?"

"I think that would be a good idea." One way or the other, Sarah finished in her mind.

"Then I shall hurry back."

Sarah smiled, and Jareth returned it before magically changing his clothes—back to the usual dress code for now—and exiting the room. Admittedly, Sarah hadn't known Jareth much before the whole situation, but there was definitely a change in his behavior or perhaps it really had been there all along. While Sarah had her hopes, it would be best that they had an honest discussion instead of more guessing games.

Karen's voice interrupted Sarah's quiet cogitation. "Sarah Williams! Or whatever your last name might be now!"

It was a legitimate question, one Sarah wasn't certain of herself. Another question for Jareth later. "Good morning," Sarah replied to a newly conjured crystal revealing her stepmother's stern and searching gaze.

"Your brother's at school and your father's out and about. It's time for a girl talk and some answers."

Sarah groaned. "Somehow I thought there'd be trouble."

"Let's hear it."

Sarah sighed. "Not to mince words, here's the short version: long day yesterday, I stuck up for the dark goblins, they want my help but they don't want me, threatened by a vampire, almost raped by vampire, fought against the vampire, ultimately saved by Jareth, nearly slept with Jareth or at least we were heading that way."

Karen blinked.

"I know, I know, you're trying to surmise which questions you should ask first, right?"

"Something like that."

"Take your time," Sarah invited.

After a moment's processing, Karen spoke again. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. I ended out better than Orion—that's the vampire—did, especially when Jareth got in there and did…something. Not an experience that I'd particularly care to repeat, but it could have been a lot worse. Still a little shaky, though, I guess."

"As for the next part, I guess I was right when I said girl talk."

Sarah felt her face flush. "Yeah, guess so."

"So how're you doing emotionally? The goblins sound like just some further frustration, but what about the new developments with Jareth?"

"You remember everything I told you just after the wedding? When I talked to you through the mirror?"

Karen nodded.

"And all the extenuating circumstances surrounding the consummation of my marriage?"

"Yes, bits about a prophesy and all."

"Not 'a' prophesy, 'the' prophesy, apparently. Well, Orion was trying to get to Jareth's power by raping me, still don't really want to think about that one."

"What happened to make it 'nearly' instead?"

"He stopped."

"Did he say anything?"

"He said not this time if I was only seeking comfort."

Karen nodded slowly. "What do you make of that, Sarah?"

"He didn't want to take advantage of the situation or make the day any worse if it turned out I was going to regret it later and all that."

"There are two possibilities that occur to me, Sarah," Karen confided. "That's the first, that he's being a gentleman. The other is inherently more complicated."

Sarah was all ears. Karen had a natural talent for interpreting the actions of others when given the context and specifics—the more information, the more accurate she hit.

"If this prophesy mess is as complicated as it seems and I'm sure Jareth's character is as complicated as well, then perhaps he had some selfish motivations, too."


"Not in a terrible way, Sarah. Here's the theory and remember it's just a theory: if you slept with Jareth, he'd have his power in full, right?"


"Meaning that you would be less of a target."

Sarah blinked. "Yes, I suppose that's true."

"So he was willing to sacrifice some of your further safety and his, meaning that he was either confident in his abilities or staff or however that works to continue to protect the two of you despite this new attack or that he really wanted the first time with his wife to have more meaning behind it than you were solely looking for some consolation or only because you were aiming for protection.

"Personally, Sarah, I think that it's a mix of everything."

Sarah rubbed her forehead. "There are so many things to consider and it just keeps building."

Karen wore a sympathetic smile. "Do you need to talk through this whole Jareth situation?"

Sarah smiled back. "Yes, but not now. I'll take you up on that some other time. Soon."

"What about the everything else? I take it not as daunting if we save Jareth for another day?"

Laughing, Sarah agreed and allowed herself to work through the mess she had currently launched herself into. Karen, Sarah had discovered in high school, was a great sounding block, asking the right questions and helping Sarah to form her own conclusions through subtly directing the conversation.

"I wish I could give you a hug," Karen lamented.

"If I win a bet, you guys can come for a visit one of these days."

"And he'll be alright with that?"

"Just leave the skillet at home. Really, I know the whole situation started off badly—"

"That's one way of putting it."

"— but it's really not terrible. I mean, I could have done a lot worse. He's a total imp but in an endearing sort of way."

"I thought you didn't want to talk about Jareth," Karen pointed out with a grin.

"I'm still reeling from everything this past while here. Cut me some slack."

"Just this once, I suppose. I can be gracious."

"At this point, I'll take whatever help anyone's willing to give."

"You'll find a way to make it through this, Sarah. With some time and a little perseverance."

Sarah smiled her gratitude and allowed the crystal to delicately pop in her hands.

Marek was knocking his particular pattern on the door. It had already been a busy morning, Sarah acknowledged with a light chuckle. He poked his head in on Sarah's invitation.

"Is Jareth here?"

"Not right now, Marek. He said something about meeting with the dragons."

Marek entered fully into the room, wearing a deep grin jacket instead of the brilliant red of the officer's uniform. She was about to comment that she was glad he still preferred the style, but he seemed quite preoccupied.

"What's up, Marek?"

"Pardon? Up?"

Sarah took pity on him. "Basically, what's wrong, Marek?"

The confusion did not entirely leave Marek's face as his brows knitted slightly closer together. "I haven't seen Jareth display that kind of public emotion perhaps ever. As his friend and advisor, I wanted to make sure he was alright. Ah, what's wrong with me? How are you, Sarah?"

"I'm perfectly fine if still a little shaken."

Sarah watched Marek skeptically as he fidgeted enough to confirm her hunch that he was still on edge.

"What happened after we left, Marek?"

"Oh, just some cleaning up."

Sarah knew she had to ask the next question but her throat still clenched as she summoned the words. "What did they do with Orion?"

He raised his eyes to meet Sarah's for the first time since he entered the room. "I had to check in on him, too, yes. Apparently Ack thought the best punishment was to continue what Jareth had started." He made a small laugh in the back of his throat before wandering toward the window. "I haven't seen Jareth do that in years, decades. It was one of the things he swore off. We all swore it off. That he would do it opens the door for all sorts of trouble. The dark goblins will see him as hypocritical, some of the other leaders will see it as a mark of weakness and others will see it as a mark of strength but they'll both recognize that he broke his word, no matter the circumstances behind it and disregarding that there was nothing binding then and—"

"Marek! Calm down," Sarah ordered, standing in front of him and laying her hand on one of his shoulders. He had picked up speed as he slowly slipped into full rant, and Sarah easily identified that this was the source to some of his tension.

"What did he do to Orion?"

Marek hesitated, clenching his jaw with a small click of his teeth.

"You can trust me, Marek. And it seems you really need to get this off your chest."

"Sarah, I—"

"On top of that, I also happen to be your queen," she added with a crooked smile.

Marek exhaled with a half smile of his own. "You're right, Sarah. I'm sorry."

"Yes, off with your head and all that. It's okay. Now tell me what's on your mind, if you would."

Though Marek seemed slightly disturbed with the flippant way she condemned him to death, he collected himself well enough after recognizing the joke.

"Well, Sarah, I made it back to the room, and Jareth asked if I'd seen you. After I told him I had not, he quickly decided that we should look for you. We ran into Ack in the hallway; he said he was on his way to speak with you. Then Jareth stopped walking quite suddenly, said you were in trouble and marched off while Ack and I ran after. Then he grabbed his head, glared in one direction, and disappeared. You know how hard it is to follow someone who disappears? See this was enough for me to be officially concerned…or panicked if you will.

"The spell that Jareth put on Orion, that was a nightmare spell. When Ack resumed its potency, Orion gnawed off two of his fingers as a result of whatever illusion he saw. With this spell, you don't just see everything that scares you the most, it's there."

Sarah swallowed. "I see."

"I can bet that Jareth wanted to use that spell on Orion the first time he was told to back off, but he knew better. I can't immediately think of a good example of when Jareth lost his head like this. Probably never. All the delicate ramifications, not to mention a few highly agitated vampires."

"And I'm sure there are more issues within all the lovely politics that would take hours to explain?"

"Pretty much."

"Best that you not try, then, Marek. I get the jist of it."

Marek nodded, allowing himself to deflate somewhat.

"However, if you still need to rant…" Sarah trailed off with a smirk.

"No, no. It's quite alright. But I should be happy to return the favor at any time."

Sarah shook her head. "Not at the moment, thanks. As a firm believer in comfort food, I think what we need now is some chocolate."


"It just makes everything a little better, Marek. Trust me. And then I believe I'm going to need some time to think."

Marek held up his hands. "I understand, don't worry. But with such an introduction, I should very much like to try this chocolate."

"I'm just going to try conjuring one piece at a time, make sure I do it right."

She did, though naturally she had to test it first before handing it to Marek, testing it again just to be sure as he laughed. Then Sarah suddenly felt very lightheaded, followed by a flux of the distasteful sensation she recognized as the taint of the darker lands.

"Something's wrong, Marek," Sarah said, shaking her head in an effort to rid herself of the sickening awareness.

"What is it?" Marek asked through a large bite that left melted marks in the corners of his mouth.

By way of response, Sarah attempted to conjure a crystal. "Marek, the magic's gone. I can't feel it."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes and if I can't get to it…" They shared his magic and he wouldn't just cut her off in a place like this without some explanation…okay, without some protection. Sarah's eyes widened.

"We've got to find him, Marek. Make sure he's alright."

To Sarah's surprise, Marek did not seem particularly upset. "Sarah, I doubt it's anything to worry about…"

"Just come with me and help me find Jareth. He could be in trouble."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 25 of 50

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