Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 3 of 50

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Power Struggle

Thankfully, the rest of the week passed rather quickly (and comparatively uneventfully) for Sarah and soon enough Jen was wishing her a happy weekend before she went home to pack. A few hours later, Sarah pulled into a familiar driveway and shut off the engine of her soon-for-the-scrapheap car. She'd barely stepped out of the car when Toby clung to her waist in a fierce hug, having just bolted off of the bus. He was talking so quickly Sarah had trouble ciphering what he was saying as he condensed four words into two syllables again and again. When she finally managed to disentangle herself and walk forward six steps, Sarah's father and stepmother emerged from the house to survey the commotion.

"Good to have you home, Sarah," Robert Williams pulled his daughter into a hug and kissed her forehead.

"Good to see you, Dad."

He took her bags from her, except for a long wrapped package which Toby eyed suspiciously. Before he could spew off a myriad of questions, Sarah was faced with Karen who hugged her, welcoming her home. After her experience through the Labyrinth, there had been an unspoken truce between the two of them and, over time, a friendship; all of this was a relief for her father who was no longer forced to choose sides on a daily basis but the new threat of co-conspirators assured him that life would keep an interesting edge.

Toby squirmed about in his hyper anticipation. "What is it, Sarah? Come on, tell me! Tellmetellmetellme!"

She grinned and ruffled Toby's hair as they all walked across the porch and through the front door. Sarah sighed, taking in a flood of memories. Her father took her bags upstairs while Karen drew Sarah into conversation on the sofa.

"So how was your trip?"

"Fine, hit a little bit of traffic an hour in but mostly because of gawkers rather than the actual accident."

"How are things with Derek?"

"Yeah, Sarah," Toby put in with a taunting slide, "How're things with your boy-friend?"

"He is not my boyfriend, Toby," Sarah laughed. She sobered and turned to Karen, "At least not anymore. He refuses to leave me alone though."

The two of them discussed the matter further with Toby putting in his unhelpful, roll-your-eyes-at sort of comments while Bob came down and played the protective father. After some time, Karen mentioned the prospect of dinner, an idea readily accepted by the rest of the Williams family. Much to Sarah's delight, there was already a reservation set for them at Jefferson's, her favorite restaurant (Toby started complaining about the pathetic children's menu but he never wanted anything else than what he found in that corner). Her father went through all the changes that had occurred during her absence and Karen caught her up on the community (shifting precariously on the edge of gossip), while Toby was a font of elementary school news, all of which combined with Sarah's office and the members therein and ultimately to a steady conversation.

Sarah returned to her old room and flopped down gratefully on her old bed, weary from traveling and nearly talked out for the evening. Rolling off of the edge, she began to hunt through her belongings, searching firstly for her PJ's and ultimately settling in. There was a small knock on her door and Sarah glanced up from her travel bag.

"Come in."

Toby slowly opened the door and Sarah grinned. "If you think you can convince me to give you your birthday present early, you can just turn around now and save yourself the trouble because you're not getting it until tomorrow."

"That's not why I came in." Sarah raised her eyebrow in mock-suspicion and Toby chuckled. "Okay, maybe it's not the entire reason. I was wondering if we could just talk. You wrote me an email the other day, saying that you'd had a dream about the Labyrinth, remember? What was it like?"

Sarah gave a half-smile. A year or two ago, she'd spilled the whole story to Toby who naturally thought his older sister was just telling him another bedtime story…then he'd met Hoggle one night after swearing up and down that he would never tell Mom and Dad. At the time, he seemed more upset that he didn't remember the ordeal rather than dissect the meanings of the actions of his sister, the sister who'd always been nice to him for as long as he could remember, taking him to the park or out to get ice cream (even when Mom had said no). Sarah had felt the guilt lift from her shoulders when Toby had mentioned that he was glad she'd won him back.

All the same, she didn't feel like relating the dream in its entirety to Toby at this point. His imagination scarcely needed any feeding, for that matter. Sarah summarized the ordeal quickly, yawning intermittently while Toby involuntarily copied.

"I never told, Mom. I kept my promise. Do you think you could take me there sometime?"

Sarah hesitated. "I don't know, Toby. I don't think it'd work that way. I mean last time, you were nearly turned into a goblin and I'd much rather not have to explain that to Mom and Dad."

"Someday I really, really wanna go there. You'd never have to give me a birthday present again."

"Sure, you say that now," Sarah mumbled. "Besides, Toby, it's not exactly a vacationing spot." He gave her a pleading look and she chuckled. "If I'm ever in the position where I could actually have any say in the matter, I'd see what I could do but don't hold your breath."

"Have you talked to Hoggle lately?"

"Yeah, just the other night, actually."

Soon, Toby's eyelids began to droop and she ushered him from the room. Settling back into her pillows and breathing in the scent of the laundry detergent and a sense of the security of home, Sarah fell asleep in a matter or moments.

Sarah was dreaming, she was certain of it. Somehow though, she was also very awake…at least, her dream-self was. She was walking down a stone corridor decorated with various tapestries and portraits. Torches lined the walkway in some parts but as she looked more closely Sarah saw that the fire was actually some sort of fire fairy, mini humanoid torches dancing delicately. Either the sun had set for the night or, she rationed, she was deep enough in the castle to where the rays of any sort of sun just wouldn't reach. As it turned out, she passed a window along the way over looking a moonlit courtyard, empty but for a snoring goblin curled up near a towering hedge with wide flowers.

Sarah kept walking. She didn't know where she was going but that didn't seem to matter; in the other dreams of the Labyrinth, her feet just knew where she needed to be. Trusting them again, she turned right and was soon faced with a cluttered but open room; the observation room is what she had taken to calling it. Setting herself on the dais and the only chair in the room, Sarah overlooked the mess (from a sleeping goblin or two to broken mugs to scraps of food and God knew what else). This room is where she had spent the majority of her dream visits, watching the runners; she could picture Jareth holding a young Toby and glancing in on her progress. Even more so as a crystal appeared in her hand.

It took a moment for the result to register in her mind; the act had been so natural but certainly this would be a part of what Jareth had been referring. Good thing it's just a dream, Sarah thought with an edge of hope though she was believing it less and less with each passing moment. She swung one leg up over the arm of the chair, her PJ's (complete with frogs, "Still waiting for my prince" printed at various angles, and fuzzy frog socks that kept the chill of the castle out) somehow not managing to fit in with her environment. This suddenly struck her as odd. On all the other trips, her clothing had shifted to match the situation. This dream was obviously different…a fact all the more confirmed when someone Sarah was unfamiliar with entered the room.

He was certainly attractive with trim, slightly curly brown hair pulled back and a sturdy if slim build. Sarah was all the more made aware of her state of dress when taking in his relaxed but still elegant clothing, black pants meeting a loose white shirt with a red vest halfway unbuttoned. He stopped short when he realized someone else was in the room, his exaggerated eyebrows (much like Jareth's though not as boisterous) rising all the same.

"My Lady, what are you doing here? This side of the castle is not for the likes of you," he chastised in a gentle and chivalrous tone. "If I may escort you? I was unaware that the castle was entertaining any other guests."

Sarah finally found her voice. "I'm not sure if you understand. I don't even know how I got here. …And in all actuality if I am really here."

"It seems you are here. The castle can be rather confusing to those unaccustomed to its particular style," he said carefully in his light voice.

"I'm sure that's true but I mean I'm not from the Underground."

"Ah, I wondered what sort of woman would sport men's clothing." Sarah was taken aback for a moment and the gentleman continued, "I meant no offense, merely that it appears you're not from around here."

"I suppose you could say that," Sarah agreed with a snort.

He offered his arm again. "I believe I know someone who could help us sort this out. If you would come with me?"

Deciding that the nature of her new acquaintance was honorable, she took his arm. "Might I ask the name of my guide?"

"I apologize. My name is Marek."

"I'm Sarah." A queer look crossed Marek's face but it was soon hidden before Sarah could read it.

"Come. I do believe I know someone who could help us," he repeated, sounding distant. "It's not far."

After a couple moments of walking in silence, Sarah asked, "Is there something wrong?"

"No, I don't believe so," he flashed her a winning grin in reassurance. "So, if you don't mind me asking, where are you from?"

"I could tell you a state and a city but I don't suppose that would make much sense to you. I'm from Above."

He nodded politely but was otherwise obviously distracted. Sarah had a sinking feeling in her chest, somehow fairly certain that this dream would not end well. She began to pull away.

"Listen, Marek. Thanks for your help but I've got to be moving on."

Marek seemed torn, not wanting to lose her company but not willing to take drastic measures to ensure such. "Please, just a little further. Wait here and I'll fetch him myself. I will be back momentarily."

Sarah sighed but realized she didn't exactly have any pressing appointments to uphold in her dreams. "Alright. I'll be right here."

Marek grinned and thanked her, walking briskly away. Alone, Sarah ran her fingers along the stone wall, feeling all the indentations and allowing her mind to wander. Wondering vaguely who Marek would seek advice from, a possibility struck her mind with staggering force; she was in no mood to confront Jareth after his sporadic, cryptic messages. Despite what she'd told Marek, she decided (convincing herself in the process) that it would be better to see if she could find her friends. Sliding slightly in her socks, she turned and headed back down the hallway.

Taking another sharp turn, Sarah stepped out on a balcony, suddenly caught by the biting wind. Rubbing her arms in a feeble attempt to keep goosebumps at bay, she glanced out over the Labyrinth on a relatively clear night, the light not sufficient for Sarah to comprehend its berth. A snowy owl soared through the air and the ominous feeling in the pit of her stomach began to intensify. Sarah was very aware that she wanted out of this dream now.

Walking back to a warmer section, Sarah stopped and pinched her arm. Nothing happened but it sure hurt like it shouldn't have. Any doubts Sarah had about the reality of her dream were swept off in a wave of panic. Forcing herself to calm down, Sarah took a deep breath and continued to walk down the hallway. Off in the distance, she could hear Marek's voice calling her name and continued in the opposite direction.

Jareth was very surprised to turn down a corridor and see Sarah glancing over her shoulder and walking straight toward him. Thankfully, she turned back around in time to avoid crashing into him but Sarah was too distracted to notice who she'd nearly bumped into, muttering a small apology automatically. Jareth turned and watched her walk past, crossing his arms with a glare. Six steps later she turned around, eyes wide.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

"Search me. I suppose this really isn't a dream."


"Yeah, I thought so. That would have been nice though."

"Sarah, I'm not sure how you got here but—"

"—Look, I'm sure as hell not sure either so don't go all indignant-royal-prick on me, just send me back home and I'll try and stay there."

Jareth took three large steps and stood just before her, "I've banished others for less than that. You will show me the proper respect in my kingdom."

Sarah set her mouth in a stubborn line but held her tongue, acknowledging that arguing would probably get her nowhere. She wished she could just disappear, that she could just go home.

Jareth blinked in surprise as Sarah no longer stood in front of him. He suddenly felt as though his knees would no longer support him and stumbled for a moment. Someone was at his side but Jareth pushed Marek back and stood on his own, making his way toward his study with Marek following at a safe distance behind. Behind closed doors, Marek spoke up, "What happened?"

"She managed to bring herself here without the enticement of a spoken wish."

Marek closed his eyes. "So that answers one question."

Jareth made his way over to the fireplace and leaned against the hearth, staring into the flames that suddenly roared to life and bathed the room in warmth.

"The way you described her, though, I was expecting a gangly teenager but she is a very lovely young woman."

"I suppose she has matured in body," Jareth bit out.

"But you'd still rather it be anyone but her?" Marek meant it as a question but he really had no need to ask.

"The rules of the Labyrinth are clear," Jareth replied.

"Just because you resent rules doesn't mean you have to resent her. She seems a charming young woman and she's a brave one to talk back to you."

"You're not the one who'll have to marry her."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 3 of 50

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