Continuing Tales

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 14 of 24

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The Debt

The way forward is sometimes the way back...

Dinner turned out to be a time of reflection for both Sarah and Jareth. They barely said anything to each other but polite formalities. In the days that followed Jareth spent a great deal of time with Aiden.

"I'm terribly sorry to hear how things turned out, but there is still hope." Aiden offered.

Jareth nodded slowly. "I know there is, but I still feel as if it's withering all around me."

"You're afraid to be hurt again by embracing hope and that's normal Jareth. Did Sarah ever say why she was all alone aboveground?" Jareth shook his head. "Perhaps you should ask her."

"It's not really any of my business." Jareth told him gazing up to look at his friend for the first time in nearly 10 minutes.

"Perhaps not directly your business, but finding out why she secludes herself from everyone might be the first step in learning how to make things right between you. In all truth neither of you truly know each other. You need to sit and talk things out."

"She agreed to live in the present time and that we would forget the past."

"We both know that forgetting the past doesn't do any good. We can repress emotions and thoughts of it but when they come back to us we are helpless against its onslaught. I have an idea. Why don't you both visit my Kingdom? It will be neutral ground for you both."

"I..I don't know Aiden."

Aiden put a hand on Jareth's shoulder. "You agreed to let her get to know you, despite what just happened. Do you regret that?"

"Of course not, I love her!"

"Then take the opportunity I'm giving you both. Take things painfully slow if you must. It's obvious that you are both hurting." Jareth raised a brow. "Yes you heard me correctly, she is hurting as well. I see how she looks at you every time you walk by her. She regrets hurting you and she's hurting herself and trying very hard to hide it from you. I have this odd feeling that she isn't hurting just from what she did to you, but something from her past that has nothing to do with you at all. Will you accept my invitation?"

"Yes. I will need to ask Sarah though."

"Let me ask her."

'yes, that would be a better idea. I think she trusts you. At least she trusts someone."

Sarah folded the clothes and then laid them down in the large chest. "Lady Sarah, please let me pack for you." Metta begged her.

"Metta I have nothing else to do. I might as well help." The elf girl nodded and together they packed Sarah's things. An hour later two goblins came to the room and carried the chest away. Sarah sighed staring at the empty room. In only an hour and a half she and Jareth would be riding together to Noross, Aiden's Kingdom. Aiden had been kind in offering them both a vacation away from the goblins and away from everything familiar.

She was worried about riding with Jareth in the wagon. It would be just the two of them alone riding for 2 days and making camp during the night in between. What if they argued? What if she said the wrong thing? What if she hurt him again? What if he wanted revenge? She squeezed her eyes shut forcing the thoughts from her mind. How could they move on into the future if she still couldn't get over the past?

They had been riding for an hour now. Jareth sat beside her on the long wooden bench of the wagon. They had barely said a word to each other as he held the reins within his black gloved hands and flipped them against the horse's backs every so often to keep them moving. He didn't look at her, he didn't speak to her. It was almost as though she were not there. Thinking back at the past week she realized after she what had happened between them, he had not touched her. He would casually place a hand on her shoulder or arm sometimes and ever since she stormed into the library and blamed him for taking advantage of her he had kept his hands at his sides. He had become withdrawn from her. Could she blame him after what she had done? She didn't deserve this chance to get to know him, just as she didn't deserve his love.

"I realize that you didn't take advantage of me." The words came out suddenly, and although they were a near whisper they shattered the previous silence between them as if they had been a shout.

Jareth sighed heavily and let the reins slap gently over the horse's backs. "Sarah, I thought we were not to speak of the past? What's done is done. Forget about it."

"I can't Jareth. I can't sit here and lock the past away. It's part of me and it's part of you. How can we live in the future if we can't get over the past? Someone once told me that "the way forward is sometimes the way back." I didn't understand what it meant back then, but I do now. You know as well as I do that we're not going forward. We are both so uptight and so afraid to say or do the wrong thing because of the past that it's consuming us. Maybe if we sat down and just talked things out then we will be able to see the good and bad in the past and move on."

He turned his face to look at her, the first time he had looked at her during their trip. "Is it such a good idea to speak of things that bring up anger and bitterness? To dig deeply into a past that is painful for us both?"

"How else will we get through this?"

"Will you answer my questions of your past if I ask them?" he asked suddenly.

"yes. If you want to know something then ask me."

"I'm not ready to ask yet but I will ask something of you soon and I expect honesty from you." He gazed up at the sky that was darkening. "We should stop to set up camp. We still have a full day's ride ahead of us tomorrow."

They rode a short while longer and Jareth pulled the wagon off to the side of the road. He started a fire and unpacked some food. They ate in silence. Both sitting on fallen logs, deep in thought.

"Why are you alone?" his voice startled her out of her thoughts.


"Why are you alone? Why don't you live with your family and why don't you have a suitor in your life?"

'I.. Well I don't live with my family because I went to make a name for myself in the world. I couldn't exactly live at home with my dad my whole life. I...I wasn't happy there anyway." She admitted, looking away from him.

"Why not? You had your brother back, certainly he made you happy?"

"Yes, Toby made me very happy. But she doesn't let me see him."

"Your step mother?" he guessed.

She sighed. "Yes. My step mother."

"Why won't she let you see him?"

"Why all the questions?" she felt very uncomfortable.

"You said you would answer my questions about your past."

'Yes, I suppose I did. She, um. She thought that he would grow up to be too much like me. A dreamer. He already loved fiction and fantasy. She didn't want him to get involved in that and she took him away from the house a lot so that I couldn't see him. My dad didn't seem to notice and I brought it to his attention and he told me that I was jealous that Toby was getting attention and that I wasn't. I wasn't jealous. I just wanted to see my brother. He started becoming all I had left. Karen didn't love me and she never would, my father favored Karen over me. My real mother left me when I was 6 years old to pursue acting. God I'm a fool for idolizing her." She said with a frustrated sigh. " Toby was all I had and they took him from me."

Jareth licked his dry lips but didn't dare say a word. She had fought so hard to gain her brother back from him only to lose him to an ignorant step mother.

'So I moved away. They didn't notice anyway. Karen was most likely happy, dad was too busy to care. Toby noticed but that didn't change anything. He was a child."

'Why no man in your life, to take care of you if you lived alone?" he asked cautiously as he ate some bread.

'I take care of myself. I can't rely on anyone. Everyone I ever cared about left me to fend for myself."

"So you didn't accept a single man into your life?"

'I didn't say that. I let some in and what good did that do me? None."

"Tell me." He said softly.

She shook her head, tears filling her eyes. "I'm not going to tell you about my past boyfriends."

"I don't wish to know about them all, just the one that hurt you."

"Excuse me?"

'It's obvious that one of them hurt you badly." She opened her mouth to ask how he knew that but he answered the unasked question himself. "Your tone of voice indicates that you bitterly despise someone."

"Bitterly despise doesn't exactly cover it."

"Explain." He said calmly and emotionless.


"Sarah, we are not going to move forward if we don't get to know each other. Didn't you say that yourself? How can I understand you if I don't know what you have been through?"

'Fine. I met someone when I was a freshman in college. I loved him and he hurt me. That good enough?"

"Good Night Sarah." Jareth stood, starting to leave.

Her eyes widened. "Where are you going?"

"To sleep. You don't wish to tell me seriously what happened. You still don't trust me."

"Sit down. I do trust you."

One brow rose. "Oh really?" There was sarcasm in his voice.

"What do you want me to do!? Sit here and spill out every single detail?" she cried out in frustration.

'Good night." He turned and began to walk away.

"His name was Wesley and he was a year older then me." He shouted after him. "He only liked me because I was popular. Because of my stupid mother.".

Jareth turned when he heard her voice quiver. He took a few steps forward but he didn't sit. He remained standing, towering over her. She made lazy circles in the dirt with her finger.

"I was so naive. I fell for him right way, without a fight. He was handsome and a star player on the lacrosse team. Every girl wanted to date him. I never expected him to notice me, never mind want to date me. But he did. I spent time with him and I fell for him like a bloody fool."

She gazed up at Jareth with tears in her eyes. He stared down at her, not showing any emotion. "He only liked me because my mom is a well known actress. That's why everyone liked me. He pretended to love me and was so sweet to me when I was with him, but behind my back he made fun of me. He told everyone that I was a dreamer and a geek. He made up embarrassing stories about me and spread them around campus. I never even knew it was him that started them! One day he was really angry with me, I couldn't go to his stupid lacrosse game because I promised a friend that we would go riding. In front of a crowd of our so called friends he yelled out that I was a spoiled little rich girl who's own mother had left her because she didn't love her and she was embarrassed of her. Just as he was embarrassed to have me as a girlfriend." Sarah squeezed her eyes shut. "He yelled out that he had never loved me, I was just a nice diversion." Tears streamed down her cheeks. "It all came down on me like a ton of bricks. I was so stupid for not seeing his true colors right from the beginning. The thing I hated the most was that after he dumped me I missed him. I missed that jerk. Because for 8 months he had been everything I wanted him to be and I had honestly loved him. I promised once I pulled myself together to look after myself. I would live for me and I wouldn't let anyone hurt me again. I haven't dated anyone in years. I hate being alone. I feel like no one wants me. Coming here made me start to see the reality of everything. I am not happy, I'm miserable and lonely."

She glanced up at the Goblin King with pain and anger in her eyes. "Does that cover everything you wanted to know?"

"Sarah.." his eyes were full of sorrow. "I'm sorry, but I had to know."

"Why so you can come up with some clever way to get around my defenses?"

He shook his head, his blond mane falling around him and framing his handsome face." So I can help you heal. Aiden was right. We are both two sides of the same coin. We're both hurting and we need each other to heal."

'But you're hurting because of me. It's all my fault that you feel the way you do."

"Yes you hurt me Sarah, but I forgive you."

"Why? Why don't you hate me like everyone else? Why don't you see me for what I really am? A spoiled, selfish unwanted no body!" She began to cry and he advanced towards her. She quickly got to her feet and rushed away from him standing with her back facing him as sobs wracked her body. She felt him put his hands on her shoulders and he turned her to face him. His mismatched eyes were full of sorrow.

"It's they who don't see you for what you really are. They don't understand." He hesitantly pulled her towards him and he felt her tense. "Forget them Sarah. They don't understand." She trembled as he ran his hand over one of her arms and pulled her slowly to him trying to soothe her. This was the first time someone had held her. Her mother, her father and certainly not Karen or Wesley had never held her and tried to soothe her pain. They had only added to the misery she already felt. She fell forward completely against him, grasping his shirt in both fists as she began to sob. He rocked her gently and placed a kiss in her hair. "I promise I won't let them hurt you, ever again." His voice was soft and full of emotion. This made her sob more and she buried her face into his neck.

Jareth held her tightly and looked up to the night sky as he held her. He thanked whoever it was that told her the way forward was the way back, he was a wise man indeed.

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 14 of 24

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