Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 49 of 50

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Power Struggle


I've scarcely found time to write these last few days. For what entries there are recently, it comes down to several pictures and a few gushing sentences about what an amazing creature our daughter is. I'll catch you up on some of what has happened since Bria's birthday.

7 lbs, 11oz. 6:14 in the morning. Grandparents were standing by and pretty ecstatic. Uncle Toby has held her once already, still not quite sure what to do with her. In some ways, I'm not sure what to do, yet. All I know is that right now I'm really inclined to be selfish and keep Bria to myself (have I mentioned how amazing she is?). Doc says she's got the all clear from his standpoint. He's run about every test he can get away with (within reason). I gave him permission to take a good long look at the cord blood, which he might be sending off to some "very reliable" analysts. Otherwise, he just wants to keep close tabs on her.

The rest of the hospital bit wasn't too bad. Immediately after Bria was born, Jen had a minor freak-out that I'm not going to let her forget: after the baby comes the placenta. Jen either forgot in all the excitement or didn't know. She was sure there was a twin, for a moment. Okay, so I might have had to double check with Doc, too, but he just laughed.

We all got home from the hospital yesterday. She's already six days old. No, I'm not going to stop being all gushy and mushy for a good while now. After the whole birthing thing, I think I've earned it. Especially since I'm incredibly sore still, sitting on inflatable pool rings and hospital pads. Karen's been excited about having a baby in the house. I don't remember it much when Toby was born, but there were some other family things going on then, too. Jen and Amber have been over, alternating between needing to amuse me and insisting that I get some sleep. I'll be glad when I can move a little easier at any rate.

The whole exploding magic thing simmered down, which is definitely a relief. All in all, it seems that the world figured we'd suffered enough grief so as not to seriously complicate the actual birthing part, for which I am incredibly grateful. I wish you could have been there. I understand. It must have simply been impossible. But there's still some disappointment, I'm sure on everyone's part. I'm not blaming you. It's just a fact.

There might be some new things I can try now, since LT won't be in such immediate danger. It's still going to be well-researched and tested before it goes near my baby, don't worry. Again, after all this, I'm not going to let anything happen to her.

By the way, as we never came to an agreement in the name argument, I want to state, for the record, that this is a combination of our favorites, after my maternal grandmother (she gave me that figurine that looked like you. You would have liked her) and your mother's favorite flower. She's also a Williams because that's how we're keeping track of things here. You're legally Jareth Williams for Aboveground visits. It's a common enough last name that it's believable, if still weird, that I married someone with the same last name. You can make up a joke about how that's the only reason I picked you or whatever. "Williams," I've heard, means "master of." Thought you might appreciate that.

I'm sorry. My thoughts are everywhere right now. It's just a huge adjustment. In a lot of ways.

Missing you, love you.

Sarah signed the entry and set the journal down on the coffee table. She was definitely turning into a sappy sort of thing. Really, though, to a point it was to be expected.

There was a small sound on the baby monitor, a weird crackle before a few quiet noises from Bria. Sarah smiled and hoisted herself, carefully, off of the couch, grabbing the journal to replace next to her bedside. Each stair she took was precise and slow. The soreness was improving steadily but still highly uncomfortable. Trying to focus on something else, Sarah wondered what story she might tell her daughter next, recounting "proper" fairy tales to her daughter, those that were true and otherwise filled with thoughts of home. Bria would stare at her, curious blue eyes. Sarah wondered what color they might change to, given another week or so. Finally up the steps, Sarah opened the door to her room.

There was a man standing there. Sarah stopped breathing as a gloved hand reached slowly, tentatively down to rest on Bria's sleeping head, covered in a purple cap with butterflies. Still frozen, Sarah's mind recovered the instinct to breathe.

"I…I missed it," Jareth said, turning his head to the side but not looking at Sarah. His face was hidden by the shadows of the room, his hair tied back. "I tried every route, calling in every favor, coerced a few new ones, and still it wasn't enough. Tried everything I could." He dropped his head down for a moment, continuing in a voice of sad disbelief. "I could hear you, Sarah. I was so sure that meant I was close. I could almost hear her, somewhere after you held the necklace and announced I had a daughter. I missed it." He turned to face her then, still partially obscured in the dark though Sarah could see the sheen in his eyes. "I'm so sorry, Sarah."

Sarah broke out of her trance and ran to him, clinging to his shirt as he wrapped his arms around her, the journal slipping to the floor. He rested his cheek against her temple and shook with his own silent tears, eyes clenched shut. Sarah didn't care how loud her crying was. He was there. The world was going to right itself. He lifted his cheek away, resting his forehead against hers, taking in the nearness of each other once more after so long. He brushed a few strands of hair away from her face and behind her ear. She smeared away the tear marks, gently resting a hand on his face. With a shaking gloved hand, Jareth directed her jaw to his for a soft kiss. Sarah emitted a sob and returned to lean against his chest. His arms pulled tightly her to him, wrapping around her lower back.

Sarah hissed, "Ow."

Jareth let her go. "Did I hurt you?"

"I'm just a little sore is all. That whole delivery thing isn't exactly easy."

His arms returned, holding her firmly but gently. Jareth kissed her again. "You did a wonderful job. She's beautiful."

Her breath in broken shudders, Sarah continued to burrow closer to his chest. "You're here now. It's okay. It's going to be okay." Fragments of phrasing were murmured through their veils of tears, mixing with relieved, delighted laughter, caught in the wonder of seeing one another again after so long. The simple relief of holding and being held by the man she loved—reminding her that she had missed him more than she had written in her journals—was pleasant dull ache. The way he kissed her so lightly and sweetly seemed to say the same, as though he had to remind both of them what the sensation felt like.

"I'm so glad you're here. I almost can't believe you're here." Sarah whispered, noting the dark angles under Jareth's eyes as she searched his face, no longer required to pull it from memory. She traced his cheek with her fingers and he leaned toward her hand, a few stray tears spilling.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't be here for you, Sarah," he said again.

"You're here now. Please don't keep apologizing. You can make it up by not going anywhere for a while."

Jareth hesitated. The dark angles under his eyes seemed to spread, but Sarah couldn't be certain at with the angle.

"What's wrong?" she asked. Exhaling and with a depressed laugh, Sarah voiced what she already knew: "You can't stay. The veil isn't fixed, is it?"

"No," Jareth admitted.

"Can we all just go home now, sort things out back in the Underground?"

"I don't think it would be safe," Jareth confessed.

Sarah bit her lip and nodded, fresh tears submerging her vision into colorful waves. Bria began to fuss, a particular whine that Sarah was quickly learning turned into a full cry if left long. She broke out of Jareth's loose cradle to lift her daughter into her arms.

"You should at least meet your daughter," she declared with a sad smile. Bria hushed as Sarah rocked her, squirming into place.

"Jareth, this is your daughter. Brianna Iris, this is your daddy."

"Brianna Iris," Jareth repeated in awe, pulling off a glove to set a bare hand on her tiny cheek. "Was that one of the combinations we agreed upon?"

"Hon, we never agreed in the name argument. I've been calling her Bria. It seems to suit her, or there's always LT."

"I will call her mine," Jareth murmured, laying a gentle kiss on her forehead.

Sarah smiled more than it seemed her face could hold. "Would you like to hold her?"

"Right now, more than anything, but it will be hard enough to let you go again, Sarah."

Sarah met his eyes again; the dark angles had dipped into sharp corners, expanding halfway down his face and still moving.

"You need to go."

He closed his eyes and did not disagree.

"There, take that," she gestured to the journal she had dropped, "and the others by the bedside table there. It's not much, but it's something." She pulled him into a long kiss. "What did you do to get here, Jareth?" she whispered.

He responded with a strange grimace that made Sarah very nervous. After Jareth had the journals in hand, Sarah held him close again, the three of them standing together in her old room.

"I don't know if I can leave," Jareth lamented next to her ear.

"Go. We can wait a little longer." Sarah could feel her voice cracking. "I need you whole."

"Soon," he promised as he disappeared from her side with a ghost of a kiss on her cheek.

Sarah stood where she was for a moment, before easing herself on to her bed. She stretched out, allowing herself to absorb it all. Bria stared up at the ceiling, small legs curled. Sarah set her on the bedspread just watching her, laying a hand on her tiny body as it rose up and down, quick and strong.

"Soon, LT. We'll all be home soon."

Sarah waffled between a beacon of optimism and a cloud of worry for about a week or so before Karen commented on it. Jen had only waited three days. Still, after Post Partum depression had been mentioned, politely, the second time, Sarah broke down and told her family.

"He was here," she blurted. "I didn't want to tell you at first because I was still trying to sort it all out myself, and I knew you'd reassure me in a way that I wasn't ready to deal with either. But Jareth was here, and we can't go back just yet. I have no proof other than my missing journals."

Karen looked relieved. "I thought you'd given up on him when I saw they were gone and you weren't writing as much."

Jen took a different approach: "I still can't believe you didn't tell us. When?" she demanded.

"Shh, you'll wake Bria," Sarah said with a cheeky grin, clearly implying that the rest of the subject was going to be off limits for a while.

Karen had a question before she would let the subject drop: "Why does that make you upset? Is it still just the waiting thing or are there other complications?"

Sarah's face fell. Her mother was far too good at this. "He did something in order to get here. It was obviously draining him. As wonderful as it was to see Jareth again, I'm afraid he did something stupid."

"Well, probably," Jen supplied with a wide gesture.

"You haven't even met him, Jen."

"He was in the bubble, remember?"

"Jen, that so doesn't count. It was about—dear God—three years ago. We need a clip show or something."

"Please, no."

"Well, obviously. Still, you'll get a chance to meet him. Mom, I wish I could say that last time didn't count for you either. It wouldn't hurt for you and Dad to meet him properly, again, though. I'm sure once we get past the frying pans and magic spells, you guys would have all sorts of fun embarrassing me."

Karen gave a small smile. "Sarah, he's important to you. I don't believe I will have to resort to a frying pan again…unless he does something very stupid in which case it is a mother's prerogative to look after her own and I will not hesitate."

"If he does something worthy of frying-pan-ing," Sarah assured her, "I'll do it myself. Despite all the massive catastrophes, we have a healthy relationship."

Jen snorted, then lost it completely. Sarah had to admit to herself that her statement, indeed, had not been terribly reassuring. She had meant to say something more along the lines of "We've grown together," or "We've worked through it," but there was no retracting it now. Sarah couldn't help but giggle.

Sure enough though, Karen and Jen rejoiced and reassured Sarah of what Jareth's visit meant and could mean, going as far as to help her plan packing. Packing itself was relatively useless, given that a simple crystal could glean exactly what Sarah wished to take with her, but the activity made it seem real and allowed the three women just to spend time together before chatting around the kitchen table. Sarah begged off as Brianna awoke, likely demanding to be nursed as well as some basic attention. Jen confessed a need to leave and Karen to start dinner.

As Sarah was halfway up the stairs, Bria's crying suddenly stopped. Feeling that it was all too reminiscent of Toby's trip to the Labyrinth, Sarah frowned and began to climb faster.

Sarah cautiously crept through the half-open door. Her daughter—fussing but quietly so—was in the arms of a strange glowing man. He turned to face her.

"Please don't be alarmed, Sarah. I will not harm either of you."

Sarah stared at the strange man. Something about him was familiar. Sarah opted to keep the door cracked unless she needed to shout for help. "Who are you?"

The glowing around his body dimmed slightly as he gave a small, sad smile. "That's a question I've been asking of myself recently."

"Well, I don't think my daughter is going to be of much help," Sarah pointed out, wanting to keep her distance and otherwise suppressing the urge to snatch her daughter away and run. "Who are you?"

"I am her grandfather," he answered, his eyes fixed on Brianna's.

Sarah's brows knotted in confusion. "That's not all of it, though, is it?" She took another look at his glowing skin and clothing. "You're also the Spirit of the Moon."

He smiled, and Sarah noted a family resemblance. "Quite right."

"Jareth didn't tell me you were related. I mean he talked about his father, but not as though he could stop in any time soon."

The Spirit sat down on the bed, his glow dimmed further. "Yes, well, there are reasons for that." He glanced at the spot next to him then back at Sarah, silently inviting her to join him.

Still wary but not for fear for her daughter, Sarah wordlessly obliged.

"I did not know I had a past. I did not know I had a son, though I performed his wedding ceremony and knew that his new wife was trapped Aboveground while with child. There were other duties I have to attend."

Bria continued to fuss, now in earnest. Sarah held out her arms. "She's hungry. I don't think there's much you can do for that."

"Perhaps not," he admitted, reluctantly passing her over.

Covering herself and Bria with a blanket, Sarah began to feed her daughter, still trying to figure out her strange visitor.

"How did you remember?" she asked politely, also indicating that it was okay for him to turn his head back around.

"Jareth told me. A last resort, perhaps. Neither situation has been exactly easy for him, I understand."

"Yeah, I'd say so. I'm guessing that he isn't technically allowed to say anything to you?"

"Absolutely not. He could be banished, at the very least."

"Well, tree conclusions and otherwise count, I guess. He did say he tried everything," Sarah mumbled.

"That in mind, I hope you understand that you cannot tell anyone that I was here. I came before the veil was fully healed. I cannot be tracked or disturbed this way. Were anyone to suspect, my position and the alignment of the Underground could have been shifted." He sighed as Sarah watched wordlessly. "I just wanted to see her, even meet you properly, before I forget again."

"I'm glad you had the chance to stop by, then."

They shook hands, awkwardly but warmly all the same.

"It appears that my son has done well for himself, though I do not know how much of this to attribute to myself. There are some particular flashes of memory, but it is somewhat unsettling."

"Ordinarily I'd ask if you had any good dirt on Jareth, but I guess that nulls it. It seems sometimes that I have more to catch up on because he's lived so much longer than I have."

"Well, there is one particular story that comes to mind when he was quite young involving the bog. I don't suspect he enjoys tell it much."

"You two have the same smirk. It must be a good one."

"This little youthful indiscretion actually created the bog. From what I can piece together, I think he kept it around as a matter of pride and now tradition."

It was a good story, and soon Sarah and the Spirit were relaxed and laughing. Bria finished, burped, and fell asleep so Sarah passed her back to her grandfather who held her with rusty experience.

After the conversation died to a relaxed silence, Sarah added, "You know, he's a good king. Mischievous as hell, amongst other things, but a good king."

"That I have seen," agreed the Spirit, his luminance returning. "Again, I might take a strange sort of pride if I sure I had anything to do with it." He gently offered Bria back to Sarah. "I need to leave."

"I'd say stop by again, but I take it that's not possible. I won't say anything."

"Thank you, for my sake and yours." He adjusted his garments and Sarah had to squint as the full brilliance returned. "Expect Jareth in about three days."

"Will the veil be healed this time?"

"I suspect the veil will shift tomorrow."

Sarah frowned. "But he won't come for another two days?"

The Spirit's eyes began to take on glossy, distant sheen. "He'll still be unconscious."

Sarah set a hand on his arm, biting her lip. "What did he exchange in order to get up here? Can you tell me?"

"We reached a compromise," the Spirit murmured, suddenly entranced by the last stretch of sun reflecting along the wall. "He gave up some of his immortality. I must be going, Queen of the Goblins. I hope we can talk again, soon. The child will have to be blessed properly." A glimmer appeared in his eyes for a brief moment, replaced by the glassy stare.

"Goodbye, your Eminence." Sarah inclined her head in respect. When she went to meet his gaze again, she found the room was empty, save for her daughter sleeping in her arms.

"Three days," Sarah whispered as she placed Bria in her crib and switched on the monitor. She and Jareth would have a conversation about this compromise later, but for now: three days. With a wide grin, she went for the stairs. There were a few ends to tie up. She had to tell Karen.

Jen insisted on pulling together a celebration, Toby was allowed to skip school and the whole family refused to let Sarah and Brianna out of their sight all day, lest they miss a chance to say goodbye. Still, as soon as the sun had set, the Williams, Jen, Doc, Amber and her children, and even Derek gathered in the living room.

"I think this waiting thing has gone on long enough," Sarah declared, reclaiming her daughter from Toby. "Once everything has settled in the Underground, I'll send for you all. I can't wait to show you the kingdom."

"I'm still not going to get used to that," Derek stated, shaking his head.

"It's not that hard. Sarah's always felt she's superior to the rest of us," Jen jibed.

Sarah rolled her eyes, but instead turned to Brianna, setting her down in the sling draped over her shoulder. "I think it's time to go home, don't you, Bria?" She waved her arms—growing steadily chubbier as the days went—which Sarah took as a yes. "Alright, then. We wish—"

A pair of arms enveloped her from behind. "There's no need for that, precious one," a beaming voice spoke in her ear. "I'm here."

Arching her neck back, Sarah found those lips, twisting around to kiss him soundly. "It's about time."

Bria fussed with the shift in position, drawing her parent's attention. With an adoring smile, Jareth gently laid his hand on the side of his daughter's head. Meeting Jareth's gaze, Sarah could tell that the same choking bubble of joy in her chest was causing the unshed tears to build up in his eyes as well.

"Oh, he's here," Karen gushed, wrapping her arms around them. The rest of the group broke out of their stupor then, excitedly congratulating and laughing. Sarah made introductions, relieved that both Jareth and her parents were more receptive to one another, both parties thanking the other for watching over Sarah. Amber's children pulled at Jareth's jacket, wondering if they could see more magic. Holding Tyler, Amber apologized and tried to pull them away, until Jareth assured her it was quite alright and gave them each a crystal, which promptly changed into a number of objects.

"Shall we all go?" Jareth suggested to his wife.

Sarah caught the twinkle in his eye. "Yes, I think so."

Jareth tossed a crystal in the air.

"Wait! I haven't had a chance to—" Karen stopped speaking, realizing that she was no longer in their living room.

The whole party was, in fact, in the ballroom, surrounded by goblins, guests from neighboring kingdoms, and all other denizens of the Labyrinth. A great cheer erupted around them. Jan and Elizabeth pulled Sarah into a hug, gushing over Bria. Ack stood close to Toby who wasn't sure what to make of that toothy grin. Doc recovered from his shock and began laughing with the Fireys and the Frosties, wondering how they could detach, mix and match, and still have such a fine sense of humor, let alone function. Jan and Elizabeth introduced Sarah's parents to Joan of the dwarves and her consort. Sarah broke away from the pile of goblins at her legs to pull Jareth in with her, thanking him for the amazing welcome home. Amber and her children joined in an impromptu chicken chase, until Eleazar and Victoria accidently swished the chickens out into the courtyard with their tails, apologizing in everyone's minds that dragons simply take up a lot of room.

Sarah called Ludo over, and Sarah momentarily disappeared in the orange fur as Jareth reluctantly released her to the beast's hug.

"Sarwah back!"

"That's right, Ludo. Could you please lift me up?"

"Sarwah up," Ludo agreed, plucking her off the ground and setting her on his shoulders. Sarah was about to whistle when it occurred to her that she could tap into Jareth's magic again. Looking down at her husband, she winked, watching as his grin expanded. The firecracker certainly gained everyone's attention.

"It's good to be home," Sarah announced, finding it difficult to get the words out. "It's been too long." There was a cheer of response and Sarah held up her hand for quiet. "I'm sure much has changed here, and I look forward to exploring, but first I have someone to introduce to you." Sarah pulled her daughter from the sling and turned her to face the group. "May I present Brianna Iris, Princess of the Goblin Kingdom." As the cheers reverberated, Sarah indicated that Ludo should put her down. Jareth pulled her and his daughter close, resting his forehead against Sarah's. Through their re-established mental connection, Sarah could hear Jareth assertion that he would not allow either of them out of his reach again.

The party lasted for some time, including questions over Bria's unusual clothing ("It's called a onesie. They're very useful.") and curious pokes from many goblins who hadn't noticed the bundle until Sarah had made the announcement. The Frosties and the Fireys (along with an inebriated Derek and tipsy Doc) insisted that the party continue out onto the Labyrinth, the majority following in a massive parade.

The throne room suddenly quieter, Brianna put in a demand to be fed. Passing her daughter to her husband, Sarah hugged her family, Jen, Jan, Elizabeth and the others that had stayed (promising that they would be poofed home by midnight), before taking Jareth's hand and transporting themselves away from the group. Alone in their room, Jareth held his daughter with the included practice of simply being the officiator of the Labyrinth. She could tell this was different, though, by the look on his face.

She kissed her daughter's cheek. "I told you your daddy would love you, LT."

Jareth wrapped his arm firmly around Sarah, kissing her soundly. "I cannot say how good it is to have you home, both of you."

Brianna shrieked in earnest, tired of being ignored. Jareth reluctantly began to pass her back to Sarah.

"Would you like to feed her?" Sarah asked, understanding.

He frowned. "I lack the equipment."

Sarah laughed and twisted her hand, a bottle appearing. "I will teach you about the pump later. I think it will be coming back with me."

Jareth did not question any further, taking the bottle and offering it to his daughter. Sarah sat down next to him on the bed, and they watched her in silence. Eventually, she began to nod off, after spitting up a little on her father's shoulder. Sarah mopped up his jacket.

"Eau d'baby spittle. We'll get used to it. I stopped carrying about the stains by the second week."

Jareth smiled at Sarah, laying Bria down on their bed. He pulled Sarah down so that their daughter lay between them. The gloves were off, Sarah noted with a tiny grin as Jareth ran his hand along her cheek, into her hair.

"Hard to believe it's real, huh?" Sarah murmured, clasping her hand over his.

He nodded, alternating stares of amazement between his wife and his child. "What words are there, Sarah?"

She cupped his cheek, just relishing in the feel of his skin again. "Yeah, I kinda noticed you've been at a loss for them today. There's some I can think of that I'd like to hear you say, though."

An echoing voice filled the room: "EMILY, IT'S NOT FAIR. SOMETIMES, I JUST WISH—"

Before Sarah could register that their moment was about to be ruined by a wisher, she noted that she was standing in front of the child in question, possessively held by her husband, and both were dressed in their formal child stealing clothes.

"Don't," Jareth growled through gritted teeth. "Don't. This is your warning. Make your petty wish some other time."

The girl released her hold on her younger sister, eyes wide. Satisfied that the would-be-wisher was sufficiently terrified, Jareth transported himself and Sarah back to where they were.

Sarah snorted, then couldn't stop giggling. "Oh, God, did I miss you."

Jareth opted to stop her laughter with an incessant kiss. "She ruined our moment. I could have done much worse."

"I didn't even know that was allowed."

"Strictly speaking, it's not. Our secret?"

Sarah kissed him again. "Agreed."

"I love you, Sarah."

"There are my words," Sarah beamed, wrapping her arms around his neck, still careful not to disturb Bria. "I still love you, too, Jareth. Remember you're stuck with me. And LT. And whatever other adventures we manage to get ourselves into."

"I have never been so delightfully cursed, precious one."

"Good answer, love, good answer."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 49 of 50

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