Continuing Tales

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 12 of 15

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Tokens of Affection

It wasn't long before they reached the edge of Aidan's garden and Cathal was willing to let Jareth try and stand on his own two feet.

"You know," the young King stated as soon as he was back on solid ground, "I'm not going to break. You don't need to keep watching me like I am."

The Elder narrowed his eyes as he observed how the younger fae was holding himself. "I'm more concerned with you falling flat on your face again rather than breaking, brat. Or would you prefer to present yourself to your lady by tripping over your own two feet?"

Jareth shot the Ancient an irritated look.

He was beginning to wonder at the wisdom of this whole 'having family' thing.

"I won't fall on my face." The Goblin King stated shortly, as he made to walk away from his grandfather. "I am not an infant. I know how to watch my steps."

And promptly tripped.

Cathal snorted and then laughed as he caught Jareth around the shoulders. "Point well proven, brat."

The younger fae blushed hotly and refused to look at his Elder as the older fae helped to steady him.

"I suppose it's better you got it out of your system now, rather than later." Cathal tried to console between chuckles.

The Goblin King shot him a dirty look. "So help me, old man, if you don't stop laughing I'll find a distinctly unpleasant way to get even."

Grinning like a child, the old King obligingly held up his hand in surrender and fell silent. Without another word said, both fae slowly made their way through the garden and into the house.

Coming to stand at the entrance to the living room, Jareth glanced around in slight confusion.

"What is it?" Cathal asked quietly.

"There are no voices," he answered softly.

"Is that bad?"

"I don't know." And without another word, Jareth turned and made his way into the kitchen, the Ancient following quickly after him.

With the sun just beginning to set, the natural light that was offered was minimal, but Jareth was still able to make out the tea cups that had been left sitting on the table.

Without missing a beat, the young fae walked over and thoughtfully peered into each cup before picking up the emptier of the two. Taking a careful sniff of the contents, the Goblin King wrinkled his nose in distaste as he set the cup back down.

"What did you find?" Cathal asked.

"Lunar Grass." Jareth stated, his face an odd cross between amused and exasperated. "It's an old trick that Aidan pulls when he believes someone is about to negatively go beyond their physical limits. Knowing him, he probably noticed the odd little hitches in Sarah's movements."

"You mean he-"

"Knocked her out cold? Probably." He sighed, as he closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Sarah is not going to be pleased with him when she wakes up."

Cathal raised a single eyebrow in faint amusement. "Indeed."

Jareth just looked tired. "Come on, I have a fairly good idea what room they're probably in," he said, and silently led them both out of the kitchen, through the living area, and to the hall that led to the rooms.

Mindfully keeping his steps quiet, the Goblin King made his way to a door along the right side of the hall, before coming to an abrupt halt at its threshold. Staring into the room with an incredulous expression on his face, the Goblin King raised an inquisitive eyebrow at the Ancient sitting at Sarah's bedside with a faux expression of innocence.

Glancing back and to the side of him, Jareth gave Cathal a pointed look. "Is that your's?"

Finally getting a look into the room, the old King peered in, with a kind of exasperated surprised, at the sight of his wife. "I though I left you at the condo," he stated softly.

Fionn looked up at her husband with the perfect 'who, me?' expression that all women seemed to master. "But husband, I couldn't just idly sit and wait while my granddaughter might have need of me."

Cathal snorted. "I believe the kids call what you're doing, 'bullshitting', dearest. Would you care to come out a moment and try your explanation again?"

The old Queen gave a soft, put-upon sigh before gracefully pulling herself up and exiting the room, both Cathal and Jareth stepping back to let her pass.

As the Ancient turned and followed his wife, Jareth looked back into the bedroom and silently curled a finger in the universal, 'come here' gesture at his very still friend.

Hesitating only a moment, the old Master cautiously stepped out into the hall.

"How long has she been here?" The younger fae softly, but firmly, asked.

Aidan relaxed a fraction at the lack of accusation, but remained watchful. "A little after we had tea, and I put Sarah to bed."

"I see," Jareth whispered shortly. "Although circumstances have changed at the present, I do wonder why you didn't use the wards on your home to evict her the moment she showed up?"

The dark haired fae frowned at his old student. "Because she slipped through them like water through a sieve. I couldn't evict her, even if I had wanted to."

"And you didn't want her, too." Jareth stated flatly.

"The old stories say that our ancestors could heal mortals on a whim. I didn't see the harm in letting her keep a bedside vigil with me when I didn't know if I, myself, could guarantee your Sarah's health." Aidan looked at his young friend imploringly. "I'm not you, Jareth; I don't have the strength to magically evaluate someone with little to no magic in them. Relying just on what little field medicine I know, and watching her movements, I was afraid something would happen that I wouldn't be able to fix. She said she only wanted to sit with her like I was. Considering your goblins had taken up residence in every nook and shadow the room provided, I thought it was worth the risk."

The Goblin King took a breath and sighed. "I see your point on this, and I can't say I would have done anything differently, but nonetheless I think I'll be looking into new ways of warding your home in the future."

Aidan nodded in understanding. "You have no objections from me. I can't say I'm terribly thrilled about having my house compromised so easily."

Rubbing a hand across his eyes, some of the tension that had been gradually curling about Jareth melted away. "I can't decide how I feel about this day." He confided. "Too many things seem to be happening at once."

The old Master watched his King with sympathetic eyes. "We all have days like that at some point in our lives. Why don't you go in and wake her, while I host your new relatives for a while? You've been gone long enough that the lunar grass should have already worked its way out of her system."

"Yes, about that…" The Goblin King trailed off meaningfully.

"I know, Jareth. I had already planned to apologize to her after you'd spoken with her."

The younger fae looked relieved. "Thank you."

Aidan waved him off as he turned around and began to head down the hall, calling softly over his shoulder. "Don't bother thanking me, my friend. I unwittingly gave her enough black mail material on the both of us that, at this point, it's only self-preservation to remain on her good side."

Jareth rolled his eyes heavenward in silent exasperation as he walked back into the room.

Coming to Sarah's bedside, the young fae quietly allowed the rose that had been patiently curled around his bicep to slide off his arm and onto the nightstand. With a weary sort of grace, it gathered itself together and plunked its roots into a nearby glass of water, an odd little sigh of contentment sounding from it.

Shaking his head at the relieved plant, Jareth knelt down and gently brushed gloved fingers across Sarah's cheek. "Sarah…" He called softly. "Sarah, it's time to wake up, now."

There was a slow, deep intake of breath as the girl in question lazily cracked open her eyes, and smiled.

"Hey," she said softly. "Are you feeling better?"

Jareth gave a soft chuckle at her words and ran his fingers through her hair. "Me? Precious thing, you worried Aidan enough that he was willing to pull the same stunt on you that he does on me, after only knowing you a few hours. How are you feeling?"

"Tired," she answered honestly, "and a bit stiff."

"That's to be expected." He acknowledged. "You've been sleeping for the last few hours."

"Yeah," she agreed, her voice a little stronger. "That wasn't exactly my idea."

Jareth grinned. "It's rarely mine in these situations, either. However, Aidan has good judgment, and he's usually justified when he decides to put me to sleep like that."

Sarah huffed softly in response, but otherwise said nothing further on the topic.

The Goblin King had the sneaking suspicion that although she wasn't exactly angry with Aidan, his friend wasn't exactly going to get off scot-free for his actions either. Wisely, he decided to change the subject.

"Did you know that this is typically my room when I come to stay?"

"It is?" She asked, looking around the room for the first time and noticing a distinct barn owl motif. "I was in the kitchen when I fell asleep. You have a nice room."

Jareth felt his lips twitch.

It wasn't like it was his actual room, just the one Aidan liked to banish him to when he caused trouble around the valley.

"Thank you," he replied. "I rather like it myself."

Sarah hummed softly in agreement as she blinked her eyes in the dim light, trying to tell if her eyes were deceiving her.

"What happened?" She asked abruptly. "You're paler than when you left."

There was a slight hitch in Jareth's movements before he took Sarah's hand and lightly shook his head.

"Nothing of importance."

Sarah's eyes narrowed, and before the fae could think to pull his hand away, she swiftly yanked her hand from his and grabbed onto his wrist, mindful not to touch skin.

"When I first came to you with my problems, you told me not to lie to you. If we really want this relationship to last you're not going to lie to me. Now, come on." She commanded sharply, tugging on his wrist as she held up half the blanket for him and scooted over some.

The Goblin King's eyes widened. "Sarah, I don't think-"

"You don't get a say in this." She stated flatly, and tugged on his wrist pointedly.

Sighing, Jareth finally relented and gently crawled into the bed beside her. Once situated, he gave her a dry look. "Are you happy, now?"

Sarah's return expression was smug as she wrapped her arms around him and laid her head on his shoulder. "Quite happy."

The young fae couldn't help the grin that stole across his face as she made herself comfortable around him.

For a little while they just lay together, content in the knowledge that they were both together and safe. However, as time passed, Sarah began to finger the barn owl pendant around her neck with a faintly puzzled expression.

"Jareth…" She asked with a slight hesitation, as if she'd just considered something. "Why did you give me this so soon?" She questioned, toying with the owl around her neck. "I mean, I know that this feels right and that I don't want to be anywhere else but beside you, but most people want to get to know each other a lot longer than a handful of days and few months of letters. Even if we agreed on a long engagement, why so soon?"

The Goblin King considered his answer carefully before asking, "Sarah, you are aware that I'm not human, right? That for all the similarities between our cultures, there are, in fact, some things that I just don't see the same way you do?"

Sarah didn't answer right away as she rolled his question about her mind.

If she were to be honest, it had never really occurred to her to consider it either way. In her mind, Jareth had simply been Jareth. There had never really been much more to it for her. Yes, there had been instances where she knew that he was completely different species from her, but she'd never really gave the thought much time to sink in.

"To me," she told him, "you're just Jareth. I know I love you and that you're supposed to be mine. I've never really tried to think beyond that."

The Goblin King felt a happy, warm feeling curl around his chest. Never, in all his long life, would he tire of hear those kind of words from her.

"You know how old I am Sarah, and although it might seem hard for you to understand, I've known you since the very first time you called for me."

"A year ago?" She tried to clarify.

Jareth smiled sadly. "That is only the first time you Wished Away someone. Think back, when was the first time you asked for someone to save you?"

Sarah's heart clenched as she recalled a night many years ago when one of her parents arguments had escalated from an all out screaming match, to her mother throwing anything she could get her hands on, along with her accusations, at her father.

She'd been so young at that time, she hadn't been able to anticipate how bad the fight was getting until she'd had to take cover under one of the living room tables.

She could remember praying, in soft sobs, as her mother's poor tosses fell near or even under her shelter, for someone, anyone, to save her.

For all the poise and grace Linda Williams displayed in the public eye, she could be an absolute devil in private.

Later, when the argument had ended, Sarah's father had been completely stunned to not only find Sarah under the table, but a collection of items around her that, for all intents and purposes, appeared to have fallen just short of hitting her.

"That was you?" Sarah asked, remembering quiet, yet enraged, chittering and hissing as she'd kept her head down. "You were there that long ago?"

Jareth nodded his head solemnly. "That night your heart cried out for mine so strongly that the only thing holding me to my world was that I had a Runner in my Labyrinth." He ran a hand almost reverently through her hair. "I've never told anyone, but I've known you since that night, Sarah, when your heart started to beat in time with mine. You wanted to know why I proposed so quickly; it's because I can't stand the thought of someone else looking at you and thinking they can steal you away." He grinned at her then, mischievous. "I'm the Goblin King, Sarah. If anyone is going to be doing any stealing, it's going to be me."

Sarah couldn't help it; she laughed.

A few moments later, when her giggles had died down, she tried to explain her thoughts to him. "I just want to be sure I'm ready for something like this, you know? I don't want to rush into this, and then look back and think of it as a mistake. I want us both to be happy, with no regrets."

"Sarah," Jareth admonished gently, "have I ever done anything that might truly hurt you?"

"Well…" She drawled playfully. "There was the Cleaners."

"Must you always bring that up?" He sighed in mock despondence. "I've told you time and again that they wouldn't have actually hit you."

Sarah grinned and laughed at his tone. "Poor baby," she cooed.

Jareth scoffed and ruffled her hair as if she were a small child.

She pouted in response, and the Goblin King grinned in boyish pride at the absolute rats nest her hair had become.

"Oh yeah," she snipped at him, "like that's fair. Just because your hair is a hopeless mess doesn't mean mine needs to be."

Jareth raised a single eyebrow at her and his grin widened at her petulance. "No, Precious thing, I don't think you have to worry about regretting anything. We were made for each other, and that's all there is to it."

Sarah couldn't help but smile at him, even as she doggedly began to comb her fingers through her hair.

"I don't doubt that we're meant for each other. I just…" She paused briefly in her combing as she tried to find the right words. "I just don't want to have doubts as I get older. I want us to always feel this right."

Taking pity on her efforts, Jareth gently ran his own fingers through her hair, the knots dutifully untangling themselves before his fingers reached them. "Sarah, while it's not common among my people, had you been born fae, we would have been betrothed in the eyes of the law the moment your heart resonated with mine. We aren't going to hold regrets, Sarah, because we have always been a part of each other. I've given you my token now, because I want to give you the time I had to feel comfortable with us. We aren't going to get married tomorrow, Precious. We have forever, if we need it."

Sarah's eyes were suspiciously shiny as she whispered, "Not long at all, right?"

Jareth smiled as he wrapped his arms around her and held her. "No, not all that long at all."

For a time, no other words needed to be spoken until…

"You know," Sarah commented idly, several minutes later. "you still haven't told me what you did to cause you to look so ill, yet."

Jareth sighed gustily and resigned himself to the inevitable.

Perhaps, she wouldn't be too upset with his lapse in common sense.

Yeah… right.


Robert Williams was impressed.

When Sarah's friend (he couldn't quite bring himself to say 'boyfriend' without prompting) had said he'd lived on an estate, the older man had pictured something a few of his firms more wealthy clients owned.

This, however, was a small piece of paradise.

Taking stock of what he was seeing as he drove up the drive, the lawyer could easily see that estate didn't so much as scream of money, like the properties of his clients had, but of careful dedication.

The lawn, for instance, was well manicured, the driveway (an old historical brick affair) was well kept, and even what he could see of the trees in the moonlight hinted of an arbitrator's touch. However, if he looked carefully enough, he could just make out some areas, a fair ways off, that had seemed to have been left to nature. The occasional dirt pathways he could make out, hinting of a preserve.

This wasn't a man that cared about status, so much as he cared about what was around him.

Did this really belong to the same cocky brat that had forced him to a temper the previous night? Robert wouldn't have normally thought so, but the evidence spoke otherwise.

Making it up the drive to the house, the older man found himself impressed yet again.

This time, however, for a completely different reason.

The house was a dream.

It was a fairly large, two story neoclassical plantation style house, with two distinct wrap around porches on both the first and second levels with great, white, square pillars helping to keep it suspended. Windows on all sides of the home allowed for an abundant amount of natural lighting, regardless of the time of day.

It wasn't as large a home as what was normally found on properties of this size, but what it lacked in space for anyone outside the immediate family, it more than made up for atmosphere.

It was, dare he even think it, cozy.

Putting the car into park as he came to a stop at the front door, Robert found himself really considering the young man his daughter had brought home with her.

If he were to put it into words, the older man would have to say that, whoever this Jareth was, he was like no one he'd ever met.

When he'd first laid eyes on him, as he'd walked up from the curb with Sarah's friends, Robert had seen him as a walking contradiction. His clothes, like Kevin's, spoke quietly of money with dark, pressed, dress pants and a designer turtle neck sweater. His hair, on the other hand, had been an completely different matter. Calling it a 'bird's nest', he felt, was being generous.

As a father, he was well aware of the styles that were popular among the younger generation, and he could honestly say that he knew very few that would have picked out those kind of clothes, to go with that particular hair style.

It had been a statement, pure and simple.

He would conform to what he needed to be, but he wouldn't jeopardize his own innate character in the process.

It was a clever way to present himself. Brazen, of course, but clever as well.

If this Jareth had been a boxer, Robert would have easily pegged him as a tactician. He would pointedly wear his opponent out with strategy over brute force if he could manage it.

And as the older man had learned the previous night, he could manage it.

Even though it was done and over, Robert was still angry at himself for not noticing what had been happening to his own daughter. Logically, he knew that it wasn't just his fault, that if Karen, of all people, hadn't noticed anything off, then his chances of seeing something himself, were slim. It still didn't quite ease that ache in his heart that whispered that he should have seen something.

Sighing, the lawyer firmly brought his thoughts back on track.

If he were to be honest with himself, then as a father, he had to acknowledge, if only to himself, that he liked the young man his daughter had picked out for herself.

He had a solid strength of character, and obviously was willing to do what he felt was necessary to keep her safe. In fact, the only thing that really bothered him was the obvious age difference.

Rubbing a hand wearily over his eyes, Robert opened the car door and stiffly stepped out of the vehicle.

He could let his thoughts chase themselves around his head later. Right now, he needed to take his little girl home.

Wrapping his coat more snugly around himself, the lawyer quickly made his way to the front door and knocked.

The night was terribly bitter. The winter was weather really starting to set in now that it was drawing so close to Christmas.

Briefly, he heard voices speaking just on the other side of the door before there was a faint tap-tap of one of the speakers leaving just as the door was opened.

He'd expected the same wild-haired young man he'd met the previous day.

"Are you, Mr. Williams?"

The older gentleman addressing him, however, was most certainly not him.

"Yes, sir." Robert confirmed. "I'm here to pick up my daughter."

"I see," He acknowledged deeply, as he stepped aside and motioned the lawyer in. "Then by all means, come in. We were beginning to wonder if we would have to setup one of the guestrooms."

The father rubbed the back of his neck somewhat sheepishly as he stepped in and waited for the other man to close the door. "I was beginning to think that I was going to have to make that request myself." He confessed. "I'm afraid they only just recently found a judge that was willing to override the documents that were keeping the Jeanes girl in the hospital. The police were just able to take her into custody a little over an hour ago."

"Yes, our grandson appraised us of the situation a little after we arrived…" The older man trailed off as he finished shutting the door and turned around.

Offering his hand, he introduced himself. "I'm Cathal, Cathal Kingsley, and I take you are the Lady Sarah's father?"

Robert grinned at the honorific added to his daughter's name. "Yes, I am," he agreed. "How has she been doing?"

Cathal frowned slightly as he began to lead them from the foyer, down a hall. "Well enough I suppose. By the time my wife and I had gotten here, Jareth had already ensured that she'd gotten a warm bath after being out in the weather so long." The older man's lips twitched. "Your Sarah tells me that he nearly threw her into the bath, clothes and all, at one point. I think she's still a little miffed with him about that."

The father raised single eyebrow. "He did, did he?"

Knowing his daughter as well as he did, Robert had little doubt this Jareth probably wasn't going to be allowed to forget that little stunt anytime soon.

"Indeed." Cathal confirmed amusedly, before continuing. "A friend of Jareth's, who is fairly proficient with herbal remedies, came over when he heard what was happening and was able to put together a tea to help ease any pain she might be having, and to help her sleep. He was quite concerned about whether or not she was over taxing herself physically. I dare say my grandson was in quite a state for while, after everything was settled. He isn't one that can tolerate being helpless for long."

Robert could empathize. He'd had to deal with the same feeling both last night, when he'd first found out what had been going on, and earlier in the day, when he'd heard that horrible gun shot. From a father's perspective, while not stellar, the news he was listening to right now, concerning his daughter, was probably the best he'd heard within the last 48 hours.

"So, she has been taken care of then?" The lawyer tried to clarify. "There haven't been any problems?"

Cathal smiled and shook his head. "Not a one. She's a bit worn out still, but as far as we can tell, in fairly good health."

Robert felt as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

When it had been established that, that… thing had been chasing his daughter around with a gun, he'd been confronted with the horrible realization that he might very well be forced to burying one of his own children soon. It had been an awareness that had left him feeling cold and furious.

Someone was trying to kill one of his children.

Robert Williams was known for being a fairly easy going man, but in that one, horrible moment, he'd wanted blood.

So, Jareth's call, a couple hours later, when he'd managed to get home and have Karen take Toby and go to her family, had been a godsend.

Seeing that they were coming to the entrance of a large room, Robert quickly dragged his thoughts back to the present as he caught sight of an older woman standing just outside the entryway, a gentle expression on her face.

"Fionn?" Cathal asked the woman softly.

"I was going to get them," she whispered back to them. "but… well…" She motioned into the room. "See for yourself."

Immediately stepping forward, Cathal and Robert got their first glimpse at what had halted the older gentleman's wife.

There, lying on one of the room's couches was Sarah, curled up peacefully in Jareth's arms, her head tucked trustingly under his chin, while his head rested lightly on hers, both taking in gentle, measured breaths as they slept.

"How long have they been like that?" Robert asked softly.

"Not long," the older woman answered. "Maybe ten minutes or so. We were getting ready to make hot chocolate when you arrived."

"Did you remember to shut off the kettle?" Cathal asked wisely.

Eyes widened, the man's spouse shot off down the hall.

"My wife," he introduced. "Fionn."

Robert felt his lips twitch. "Does she always do that?"

"Every time." The older man confirmed. "Doesn't even think to use the whistle either."

The lawyer's lips twitched again.

Karen did the exact same thing all the time.

Looking back into the room, Robert felt his heart twist a little at the sight.

Between what he'd learned the previous night, and what he'd heard had happened during the day, the older man could no longer deny, that his little girl was growing up.

Seeing her held so gently, and protectively by this young man he barely knew, it made him long for the days when those had been his arms, she would seek comfort from. It made him long for the days when she was still just his little girl.

The father never noticed as tears began to track down his face.

This new understanding was almost worse than previous one, when he'd thought that he might have to bury her, because now, instead of simply having her taken from him, he would soon have to give her away.

Where had all the time gone?

Where were the days when she would beg him for a story before bed, or the days when she would bring him some insect she'd found in the backyard, wondering if it would be a good pet?

Seeing her like this, with this young man she'd just brought home the night before, made him wish with everything that he was that he could go back in time, and relive it all again. Just one more time.

"She'll always be your little girl." Cathal stated gently, placing a hand on the younger father's shoulder. "Nothing will ever change that."

Looking up at the other man sharply, Robert realized for the first time, that his face was wet with tears.

"I always thought I had more time." He whispered regretfully. "I see her… and I never believed she would ever get much bigger than my hip, but she's nearly as tall as I am now. I just… I don't know where I fit in with her anymore."

"You fit in with her the same way you have always fit in with her." Cathal stated. "As her father. She's not being taken from you and your family, Robert, she's merely adding to it."

The lawyer gave a faint, huff of laughter. "I already have a son, you know." he informed the older man. "He's still cute and small."

The Ancient snorted. "Trust me, that won't last. Just look at that one," he motioned to Jareth. "he's more a brat now than he was as a child. If it helps, take heart in the fact that they'll be irritating each other, rather than us, in a few years."

Despite still feeling a little heartsick, Robert was able to smile at the new idea.

"Come on." Cathal coaxed. "It's late. Why don't you spend the night here? We have a phone in the kitchen you can use to call your wife."

It was a very generous offer, Robert knew. Especially, when he considered how long he'd been up, and how little these people honestly knew of him.

"If it wouldn't be too much trouble," he confessed. "I'd love that. I haven't slept in over twelve hours, and I haven't exactly been relishing the drive back."

The older man grinned. "Then it's settled. I'll help Fionn setup one of the guestrooms, while you call your wife."

As Cathal politely began to shepherd the younger man to the kitchen, Robert couldn't help but glance back, one last time, at the picture his daughter and this new young man in her life made.

It made him realize, that even though there was a part of himself that still saw things as a father, and wanted to pull her away from this Jareth, there was also a part of him that saw things through the eyes of a man that knew what it was like to find that one person that you truly love.

And it was that side of himself, that was willing leave his daughter where she was.

Because those arms, just like his, truly and wholly cherished her.

Smiling, Robert Williams allowed himself to be led away, never noticing the small vase in far corner of the room with its rich, yet closed, azure blossoms.


Sweet dreams.

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 12 of 15

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