Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 29 of 50

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Power Struggle

Sarah spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with Jan and Elizabeth, talking about everything and nothing in ways that Sarah hadn't realized she'd missed

Sarah spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with Jan and Elizabeth, talking about everything and nothing in ways that Sarah hadn't realized she'd missed. She tried to compare parts of Jan and Elizabeth to her friends back in the Aboveground, but though elements were the same, they were still their own unique selves. And the whole train of thought made Sarah feel quite homesick. But at least that sensation replaced the physical nausea, which steadily ebbed away due to the combination of miracle broth, relaxation, and time. Jan had a good story or two about Jareth, leading to many peals of laughter (particularly one story that had happened before Jareth had really learned to cheat involving a dare and the Bog of Eternal Stench). Elizabeth was quiet at first until she realized what her boundaries were and opened up with another burst of the vibrancy hidden under propriety, and Sarah was left to wonder what Elizabeth would be like when she was close enough to call her Bess.

Jan was dishing some of the dirt on how to best annoy Jareth when the man in question walked back in the room, closing the door behind him. When three pairs of eyes stared at him, he raised an eyebrow and looked as though he might just turn around and head back out that door, at least until Sarah recalled that he wasn't likely to back down despite the formidable challenge of Jan and herself.

She almost laughed until Jan rose and said quite seriously, "Jareth, I'd like a word with you."

Elizabeth lost the small smile she had worn moments before and met Sarah's gaze. Sarah had heard that sort of tone before and Elizabeth's gaze confirmed it; all that was missing was the invocation of the middle name. Jareth inclined his head—Sarah detected a slight wariness at the corner of his eyes, pleased to realize that she was learning. Jareth followed Jan out of the room, presumably where they could be alone.

"What's going on?"

Elizabeth gave an uncharacteristic smirk and said, "Oh, he's in trouble, alright. Mother will set him straight."


"Yes, Mother's lectures can be quite legendary."

"Please, do tell." Sarah winked.

"I would suggest listening in, but Mother has a special talent for recognizing those spells."

"Elizabeth, to find that information out you would have…" Sarah stopped for a moment. "You used to be a troublemaker?"

Elizabeth shrugged. "Mother's talking-to's are legendary," she repeated.

Sarah laughed and was still pressing Elizabeth for stories of her exploits when Jareth and Jan reentered the room. Jareth had a slight twinge of red around his high cheekbones, though Sarah was uncertain as to whether it was due to annoyance or mortification. Jan wore a peculiar smile, and Sarah could only guess that this triumph also alluded to a new secret.

"It's about time we returned to the rest of the assembly," Jan stated.

"Can we get you anything before we leave?" Elizabeth asked earnestly.

After setting another pot of tea ready for Sarah, Jan and Elizabeth wished her a pleasant rest, patting her hand soothingly, and left the room.

Once the door closed behind them, Jareth turned to Sarah. "Are you alright?"

"Better, thanks. I still don't know what to think of the whole thing."

"I've been accusing parties of poisoning and I believe that either the elves or the dark goblins are to blame."

"The dark goblins?" Sarah started to throw back the covers.

With a gentle, insisting hand, he pushed her back toward the bed. "They're involved in something, Sarah. And you won't be going anywhere this afternoon."

"But I'm supposed to speak for them today. Why would they do anything like that?" Sarah attempted to sit up again and Jareth again pushed her back down, taking a seat on the bed. "Come on, Jareth. I have to do this. Even if it was them, I can't let it stop me."

Jareth shrugged, still with one gloved hand on her shoulder. "They can wait until the next time comes around and what they think of you has little concern, nor is it likely to change. You're not leaving the room until you're well."

"This is just payback from me stopping you after you passed out, right?"

"Quite possibly."

Sarah sighed and fell back against the pillows.

"Perhaps it was a good idea," Jareth quipped offhandedly.

With a sardonic glance, Sarah asked, "So how was your discussion with Jan?"

Jareth scowled, crossing his arms when Sarah started laughing.

"Well, you must be feeling better, then, to be so cruel," he said somberly, the corner of his mouth twitching.

"As long as you learned your lesson," Sarah replied with a shrug and a wide smile.

Jareth's half-smirk dissolved into sobriety again. "Are you truly alright?"

"Aw, Jareth, I didn't know you cared," Sarah jibed.

His swooped brows puckered. "You didn't? Marek and Jan apparently find it quite obvious."

Sarah had no smart, immediate reply to that, partially because she knew it was true. With an icy claim he had protected her from Orion, he'd sought to comfort her and offer an admittedly poor solution to her stress (though he had, for what she could tell meant well), he seemed to enjoy conspiring with her, and really hadn't made this whole mess as terrible as it could have been. Sarah fingered the pendant resting against her skin, the tiny portrait of the Labyrinth he had given her with a promise to help when she called. Yes, Jareth cared, but what this was a reflection of, Sarah couldn't be certain. She found her voice after a moment. "Really? You didn't plan the whole thing out in a tactics meeting?"

"I had originally thought I might be able to, perhaps," Jareth admitted. "As you recall, however, I was opposed to being forced into this situation, too. Despite the methods, it is…nice…to have you around."

That sounded like "close friends" to Sarah, she acknowledged with a mental sigh. Despite her best efforts, she could not keep the disappointment from showing. He was leaning over her now, his hands still bound in soft leather encompassing her left hand. Warm, strong hands as he scanned her face. Perhaps Sarah wasn't certain how she felt about her husband, but she could grasp where things were heading. And, should things fall in that direction, she reasoned, Sarah discovered that she (especially her hormones, with his all-surrounding scent and nearness kicking everything into overdrive) was not opposed to the situation.

Jareth stood, leaving the phantom heat of his fingers still in her palm. His brows puckered again on his beautiful face and his lower lip pouting so slightly. Sarah realized that she hadn't said anything.

"Does this displease you?" he cut with an odd flippancy.

It was odd to hear Jareth ask such a question, but Sarah could only surmise that he'd read her disappointment as a direct response to his comment.

"No, not at all," she promised. He still looked wary and Sarah was again left to wonder when she had learned to pick up on more of his subtle nuances. Unless it was all another mask. "I enjoy spending time with you, too, Jareth."

He smiled then and Sarah felt her own rise to match his. Sarah wished she really could know how he felt, and though she didn't want to admit it, there was probably only one way to find out. Was there an easy way to ask?

"Thanks for telling me. With all the political intrigue, I'm really not sure what's real sometimes." Sarah met his gaze, trying to project her real questions and not merely wonder why she hadn't truly noticed the intensity of his eyes before (aside from when he was angry).

He crossed his arms, smirking. Jareth wasn't about to make it easy. "Oh?"

Sarah reigned in her scowl. "Well, the first few times we'd spoken since our reintroduction, you weren't exactly polite."

"However, my mood was warranted given the circumstances."

Sarah shifted her legs and Jareth walked back over to assure that she wasn't attempting to stand up again. "All the same, what was I supposed to think?"

"At the time, I don't believe that it particularly mattered."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Sarah, I didn't expect you to accept any of the arrangements of this affair."

"Okay, now what's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh, come now, Sarah. You were inclined to see me only as the villain, an arrogant, cruel—"

"—which you haven't exactly disproved," Sarah butted in with a wink.

"And my case is proven. So why could I not think of you only as spoiled teenager?"

It made sense in some ways, Sarah had to admit. In some ways, there was still far too much uncertainty in their relationship.

"But that's not where we are now," she stated slowly, mulling the words over as she uttered them.

"Perhaps not," Jareth agreed, sitting down on the bed and crossing one leg over the other.

"I still see you as arrogant and cruel, you know," Sarah tossed into the momentary silence.

He shot her a short glare and Sarah laughed.

"Oh, it's not quite like that, Jareth. It's just a part of you. You're also exceptionally mischievous, intelligent, and have a wicked sense of humor. You do care about me and can be considerate when you put your mind around it. You choose to be patient at strange times or at least in intervals that I can't put a pattern to yet." Sarah gulped and decided to bite the bullet. "You're incredibly attractive. It's all just a part of who you are."

He raised an eyebrow. "And?"

Sarah could have chucked a pillow at his head, but she saw, again, the grin threatening to overtake his features. "Well, we already covered arrogant, didn't we?"

"Yes, you've made that clear," Jareth waved off. "But where does that leave your statement?"

"That's kind of what I'd like to find out, Jareth."

"I believe this all falls back to that talk I had suggested earlier."

"Sounds like that's where we are."

"And where did that statement lead your point, Sarah? Why outline my many perfections?"

Sarah snorted before she could stop herself. "I'm not looking for perfection. Your oddity is what makes you."

"You're still avoiding the question, Sarah," he pointed out in a low voice, leaning toward her. His breath was very nearly whispering on her cheek and she involuntarily shut her eyes, trying to focus on that small sensation. She realized what he was doing and really it wasn't fair…partly because it was working. On the one hand, all she wanted then was to get closer, as close as possible. On the other, her stubborn streak was wailing that he was pressing an advantage over her; she couldn't let him win that easily.

She had almost made her decision when she opened her eyes. At that point, she was quite certain that he wanted to get closer, too. More than that—Sarah's stomach jumped up a foot as if trying to get a glimpse at what her heart was freaking out about—it was feral. Then it was hidden again, an intentional change to another mask. It probably wasn't his fault; he'd had a handful of centuries of practice. She could play that game, too.

Sarah leaned back on the pillows and crossed her arms. "The point I was getting to is that I'm not entirely sure, Jareth. I like you. The contract never required us to love each other. I don't know where I stand, but I'm open to possibilities. Does that satisfy you?" Sarah thought she sounded pretty detached, but Jareth had a lot more experience in reading people so who could be certain?

"Perhaps not entirely," he replied in the same tone she had attempted.

"I believe it's your turn to answer."


"What point were your questions driving at?"

"You've already outlined some of my perfections. I don't need to continue until you add a tally to egocentric."

"It's kind of hard to be completely egocentric and run a kingdom or any larger body, Jareth. Besides, now who's avoiding the question?"

Sarah nearly yelped when he growled. Yes, her mind registered, growled deep in the column of his throat as his mouth fell on hers. Her shock dissolved and she kissed him back.

Jareth pulled away just enough to whisper against her lips, "Perhaps I'm open to possibilities as well."

That, Sarah reflected jubilantly, did not sound like "close friends." His lips found hers again, her fingers filtering through long, feathery strands. Vaguely Sarah recalled when she'd first heard about kissing being disgusted, still certain that boys had cooties, her first boyfriend Rick not exactly disproving that theory. Jareth was all at once warm and sweet and harsh and all sorts of adjectives that didn't seem to fit quite so well as the velvet smoothness of his tongue against hers as they allowed the other to explore. She pulled him closer, certain that she could never be close enough, and he growled low enough to be just on the cusp of human hearing, a threat and a promise. Again, not a human sound but also a door to curious thoughts as to what other sorts of sounds he would make. She laid one hand on his face and he leaned against it; the pulse behind his ear was racing with her own. He knew it, too, she was sure, one of Jareth's hands buried behind her neck and the other placed with his thumb hovering just below her left breast, the rest sprawled everywhere it could reach.

She broke away from the kiss and wrenched at his hand, pulling it to where she could see it. Jareth was confused, she could tell by the stiffening of his neck. She winked and ran her fingers along the leather, unbuttoning the small link on the side. Taking her right hand, she slid her fingers along his hidden grooves of his palm. The calluses on her own fingertips scuttled along the surface of his impossibly smooth hands.

"I want to feel your hands, Jareth," she explained as he continued to stare at her. Sarah had never seen him take them off, not even directly after their wedding when she was just shy of accusing him of rape. They were both breathing heavily and he watched her eyes as she finally revealed his hand, long fingers against her own. Interlacing her fingers in his, Sarah pulled his hand closer, kissed his knuckles and pulled the back of his hand across her cheek, concentrating solely on feel of his skin against hers.

With his teeth, Jareth quickly divested himself of his other glove before settling his weight more on top of her. "The things you do, Sarah. You fumble around this entire world with only the scantest idea of what's happening. You don't often get it right, but sometimes I think you know more than the rest of us." Sarah adjusting to the assuring pressure by arching closer, surprised to feel his erection irresolutely against her left hip. They both groaned and Jareth hesitantly rested his hand along the other side of her face, taking in the feel of the strands of her hair. "Better than I'd imagined," he murmured before meeting her gaze again. Through half-lidded eyes, she could see a real hunger there as he kissed her once more with a renewed vigor, his hands taking in new sensory input along the course of her dress, Sarah stretching open his collar and exploring his shoulders and chest. One dexterous hand tugged gently but firmly on the laces of her dress and Sarah rolled to the side, never breaking contact but making the process much easier.

Sarah had almost pealed his jacket off, using it to momentarily pin his arms to his side with one last yank, kissing her husband until she was lightheaded. With a snarl of frustration, Jareth shook off the offending piece of clothing…brushing against the teapot left by Jan and Elizabeth.

Both were ready to give it no other thought until a teaspoon lightly thupped on the floor.

Sarah could feel Jareth start to pull away but she clung to him. He chuckled lightly. "This was not the initial reason for you to be restricted to bed, Sarah."

"Perhaps not," Sarah breathed.

His eyes scoured her face again and he gritted his teeth. "I should let you rest."

"Should? Maybe. I'd rather you do something you shouldn't then," she whispered in his ear, nipping lightly at the lobe. He shivered lightly.

"The things you do, Jareth," she whispered, arching her hips slightly.

He kissed her again, already sliding his hands down her newly exposed back.

Jareth pulled back once more. "This is what you want?" he asked with a cocky grin, hinting all sorts of mischief.

"I've never cared about anyone this way, Jareth. Can you trust me?"

He swept his lips once, twice over hers before kissing her again. "Perhaps," he replied, lips again brushing with the syllables. It wasn't about anything but them.

Jareth was very late to the meeting. A servant had been sent to check in on his wellbeing but could only report that he was in his private chambers, where the servant could not enter unbidden. Jareth returned to the council on his own, bowing with the necessary apology before resuming his seat. The other leaders noted that Jareth was quieter during this session, no doubt concerned over his ailing mortal wife.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 29 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>