Continuing Tales

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 2 of 15

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Tokens of Affection

Sarah winced as Nina began applying the butterfly band-aids. It was going to be murder to hide this from Karen, but she couldn't let her see this, not now. Not when things finally mending between them.

"I can't believe you didn't say anything!" Kevin snarled.

Sarah hissed, as Nina gently tried to pull the skin back together.

"It's not like it would have done any good!" She snarled right back, pain making her temper sharp. "She didn't make a move until after Ms. Lynn's back was turned. It would have been her word against mine."

"The Art Room's tables seat six each! You had witnesses!" He argued.

"That all agreed it was an accident before I even said anything." Sarah bit out. "None of them are stupid. If Lacey gets caught, then she gets expelled. If Lacey gets expelled, then that means the Denim Devil will be waiting for them at the end of school."

Kevin growled low in his throat as he paced the empty drama room, frustrated.

"I still don't see why you didn't go to the nurse." He muttered.

Sarah frowned. "I'm just beginning to fix things between Karen and I. If she gets wind of this, I'm not too sure she's going to believe I didn't have anything to do with it. I don't want her to think I'm starting trouble again."

"Sarah," Nina sighed. "Lacey just sliced your arm open with a box cutter and got away with it. Now is the time for you to say something. We all know she's not going to stop there."

Sarah bit her lip, uncertain and Kevin's agitation reached its peak.

"You know what? Fine! You want to get yourself killed by that bitch, go ahead. I don't care!" And before either could stop him, Kevin was gone, the door slamming firmly in his wake.

Sarah flinched.

"Kevin!" Nina called after him.

He didn't come back.

Sarah shifted. "Are you almost done? I should go."

Nina hesitated then sighed and set back to work. She pretended not to notice the way Sarah's voice had just wavered. "He doesn't mean it. He's just worried you're going to get hurt and he won't be there to help. His mother has been making those comments about marriage and "the proper woman" again."

Sarah took a deep breath and slowly let it out, willing away her raw emotions. "I'm sorry I'm causing trouble. I didn't mean-"

"Sarah." Nina cut her off. "You're not causing trouble, Lacey is. Kevin's just worried our knight in shining khaki's is going to get killed keeping our secret."

Sarah snorted. "I can take care of myself. She can't do anything to me."

Nina gave her arm a meaningful pinch.

Sarah yelped.

"What do you call this?" Nina challenged. "Lacey means business. She wants to see you grovel at her feet and everyone at this school knows you'll be dead before that happens. That is what Kevin is worried over."

"So, you just want me to roll over?"

Nina looked ready to shake her. "No! It just… ugh!"

"Listen Nina, I'm not going to grovel to her, we know that won't do anything. I've already tried hiding, it's not working. Maybe it's time to fight back."

Nina drooped as she applied the last bandage. "Three people isn't a lot to stand with. Not when Lacey can blackmail or outright buy herself out of trouble."

Sarah tilted her head to one side, considering.

"Sarah?" Nina asked nervously.

"Perhaps, it's time to start thinking like a goblin." She offered.

Nina shivered, unable to hear the sudden chittering laughter.

Sarah grinned. "Thanks for patching me up, Nina. I think I'll swing by the office and head home early."

As Sarah Williams shoulder her bag to head home, Nina Walker couldn't quite shake the feeling that the Denim Devil's days were now numbered.


Sarah eyed the small goblin seated in front of her. For some reason she just couldn't quite trust the way he was staring at the rhubarb.

Deciding to keep a careful watch on the eerie little creature, she picked up her second bloom and skillfully tied them together.

A small Rhubarb and a Lemon Geranium.

I need your advice. Can we meet?

Taking a deep steadying breath, she warily handed off her message. At the delighted look stole across the goblin's face and she hurriedly snatched it back.

"Hey!" She scolded. "No eating the messages!"

The little goblin made an odd whining sound along the back of his throat. "But Lady! That's a tasty plant."

Sarah sighed.

All the other goblins had tried to warn her about Pan. "Small," they'd said, "but eats lots."

At a little over seven inches high, she hadn't quite believed them. After all, it wasn't like they didn't bend the truth on occasion. Now, she was wishing she'd listened.

Soundlessly admitting defeat, she dug through her backpack and pulled out her lunch. While she'd had hopes of eating it herself, desperate times called for desperate measures.

"Listen Pan, I have a roast beef sandwich. If you take the plants to the King and don't eat them, I'll give it to you."

Pan frowned in thought, ever willing to negotiate for food. "Chips?"

Sarah resisted the urge to chuck him into the nearby pond. "If you give them to the King and don't eat them. I will be asking to see if you did."

The small goblin shivered and nodded. "Deal."

Cautiously, Sarah once again handed over her gifts and watched as Pan disappeared. Privately, she hoped he found Jareth quickly - she wasn't sure how long the tiny goblin could resist temptation.

Lying back along the grass, she took a deep breath and allowed her mind to wander.

Going to Jareth had been the absolute last thing she'd wanted to do. It just seemed wrong of her to drop her problems off at his feet. Not after she'd hurt him as badly as she had. She'd been so sure at the time, so sure it was another stalling measure, and then she'd seen the look on his face as the world faded.

That was when she'd realized she'd done something wrong, that it was more than just another challenge.

Sarah closed her eyes and took in a deep breath before slowly exhaling. She didn't want to be the cause of that look again, not when she could make things right.

As if the mere thought of him brought his attention to her, the world suddenly shifted.

When Sarah opened her eyes again she grinned into the amused blue ones of the Goblin King.

"Hello, Sarah." He called from his throne.

Lying on the stone floor of the throne room, feet facing away from the throne itself, she tilted her head slightly back and wiggled her fingers in greeting. "Hello, Jareth. Did Pan eat the rhubarb?"

His answering grin was playful. "Not even a nibble."

Sarah never took her eyes away from him as she called out, "You know where it is, Pan. Go get it."

There was distant holler of, "Thanks, Lady!" and Jareth's grin became a bit more sly. Fluidly standing from his throne, he calmly walked over till he towered over her, grinning like the cat that caught the canary.

"So tell me, my dear," he asked playfully. "what is this advice you needed so desperately?"

Sarah stubbornly didn't move from her position. "I need an absolutely brilliant plan on how to get rid of a problem without throwing her into the Bog. Any suggestions?"

Jareth teasingly pretended to consider. "No Bog?"

She grinned. "No Bog."

He looked almost mournful. "But the Bog is such as excellent solution."

Sarah nodded solemnly. "True, but I still have to go to school with her and it just wouldn't be right having her stinking up the place."

Jareth nodded back knowingly. "Yes, I can see where there would be difficulties."

"So, any ideas?" She asked.

He sighed, "I'll need to know more about the situation." He offered her a hand. "Come, we'll go to the gardens. The autumns are warmer here than Above."

Smiling, she didn't even think about which arm she was offering. Not until his hand closed around her wrist to better pull her up. With a startled yelp Sarah tried to jerk her arm back, only to meet gentle but firm resistance.

Jareth stared down at her, his eyes sharp. "When were you going to say something about this, Sarah?"


There was a reason he wore gloves.

As a small child, Jareth found himself with the unique ability to see into the hearts of others with a single touch. It was because of this uncontrolled talent that he'd been forced wear gloves as means to insulate himself against the emotional backlash. However, despite his best efforts to control it, it was not an absolute defense.

Sarah Williams had just sold herself out and she didn't even know it yet.

"When were you going to say something about this, Sarah?"

She froze under his touch.

"Someone hurt you, Sarah." His voice was soft, almost silky. The goblins that were lurking in the throne room fell silent. "Who hurt you?"

Sarah swallowed nervously. "It was just an accide-"

"Don't!" He cut her off, his voice taking on a predatory edge. "Don't lie to me. I can feel it. They meant to cause you pain, to damage you. Tell me who did this Sarah. Tell me or I'll find out myself."

Sarah hesitated, unsure of how she could get around his demand.

Jareth lost patience.

"Fine, have it your way." And before she could protest he suddenly knelt in front of her and placed a surprisingly gloveless hand against the side of her face. The moment his skin touched hers, her reality shattered and spiraled inward.

Sarah could never quite understand how the school thought putting Mr. Larson's math class on the second floor on the other side of the building was a good idea. It wasn't like the man was exactly forgiving if you were late.

And people were late.


Sarah slid around a corner as she ran for her math class. The flight of stairs at the far end of the school was closest to Mr. Larson's class; if she did this just right she would be able to make it in with a minute or so to spare. Hopefully, Mr. Larson was in a good mood. Every so often, when he'd had a particularly bad day, he would wait outside his room and hand out detentions to whomever he caught running to his class.

Sarah gave a faint yelp as she dodged around Billy Tomas and briefly slid to a stop before she ran into Tammy White. The other girl laughed as Sarah took off again, hollering after her, "Fly, Williams, fly!"

Flying, Sarah decided, as she caught sight of the stairs, was exactly what she wished she could do at the moment. Taking a deep breath she quickly took the steps two at a time, praying she was still making good time. However, as she reached the top of the flight she was suddenly shoved back. Sarah had enough time glance upward as she flailed for purchase to see Lacey Jeanes smiling smugly down at her.

After that, it was only sheer luck and quick reflexes that kept her from breaking her neck.

Sarah trembled as she peeked out from behind the bleachers.

She'd thought hiding in the pitch would be a good idea. With the basketball season starting, the place should've been deserted. However, Miranda was one step ahead of her, and by the time she'd realized the other girl had brought Lacey she'd barely had a moment to slip out of sight before they came after her. Now, she was stuck trying to wait them out under the old bleachers and it looked like the longer she was forced to wait, the more they were closing in.

Sarah peeked out again, trying to keep track of them. There was Lacey and…

She felt her blood run cold. Where was Miranda?

Sarah suddenly hissed in pain as the other girl got a firm grip on a handful of her hair, dragging her out from beneath the bleachers.

"Lacey!" Miranda called. "I found our mouse!"

The blonde came running up, her mild expression marred by the baseball bat held tightly in her right hand.

"So this is where the mouse has been hiding. Well, little mouse, I'm afraid your luck's just run out."

The baseball bat went up, and Sarah tried to twist around so that her backpack would take the bulk of the impact. Miranda, however, wasn't letting go and the bat came down solidly across her ribs. The air was forced from her lungs and Sarah felt her legs buckle.

"Down already, Williams?"

Sarah briefly wondered how Lacey would feel if she took a shot at her.

The blonde sneered at her and made to take a another swing, when she suddenly screamed. Miranda flinched, and quickly abandoned Sarah to see to Lacey. Sarah didn't need another opportunity and bolted. As she was fleeing across the field she could just make out Lacey sobbing, "Something bit me! I don't know what it was but something bit me!"

She'd used to love art class but ever since Lacey had shown up it'd been one nightmare after the other. Last week it had been a bit of "carelessness" at the kilns that had earned her a nasty burn. A few days ago it was some conveniently spilled paint followed by a nasty fall. Sarah didn't like her odds for getting through this class in one piece. Not with the way Lacey was smiling at her.

Sarah made sure to keep her eyes open as she continued her work. For the last three classes, they'd been working on "3D Puzzles" or, to be more accurate, the whole class was carefully measuring and layering cardboard to creature their own personal three-dimensional shapes.

Sarah was, to her own personal embarrassment, trying to do an owl. A barn owl, to be exact. She wondered if this was a sign that she needed therapy.

Unexpectedly, she paused in her work, a distinct feeling of unease sending ice skittering along her spine. Intuitively she turned, her arm up in a instinctual defensive position. The box cutter came down so swiftly, she didn't even feel it as she jerked back. The small blade bit deeply near elbow and dragged the entire length of her forearm, tapering into a shallow incision near her wrist.

Sarah didn't even have time to make a sound before Lacey shrieked.

"Oh my god! I'm so sorry! Ms. Lynn! Ms. Lynn!"

She stared at the other girl in shock as she firmly gripped the top half of her forearm. What was she doing?

The teacher quickly rushed over to calm Lacey down and check on the problem. The blonde was sobbing and babbling about "falling" and "accidentally" cutting Sarah's arm.

"Ms. Williams." The older woman commanded.

Sarah obediently held up her wrist, not even thinking about how she was holding the torn edges together, hiding the true extent of the damage.

The teacher frowned but nodded. "It's not life threatening, however, you'll still want to go to the nurse." She glanced around at the nervous teens. "Is there anything anyone else wants to add about this situation?"

Sarah made to comment before her table mates beat her to it with remarks of, "I saw her slip." "Yeah, it was so an accident." "Maybe there's something on the floor or her shoes?"

Sarah stared at them in betrayal. What did they think they were doing? They could all have Lacey gone! But as she stared at them, she could see the fear in their eyes and the way they looked at her guiltily. No, she realized, Lacey wouldn't be gone - just out of sight.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

They weren't trying to hurt Sarah, they were just trying to save themselves.

"Go on to the nurse, Ms. Williams." The teacher called to her. "I'll put your project away."

Sarah didn't say a single word as she quickly shouldered her bag and left the room. The few that noticed the blood beginning to drip down her arm on her way out, fearfully said nothing.

Allowing the door to click shut behind her, Sarah took a deep breath and headed toward the Home Ec. Room. Nina knew how to sew stitches.

Jareth suddenly jerked back from her as if burned, his eyes wide and disbelieving.

Sarah swayed briefly where she sat as the last of her memories seemed to fall back into place. Thinking as quickly as she was able, she stretched herself along the cold stone floor and tried to get her stomach back under control. Was it normal to feel this sick?

Catching sight of Jareth just to the side of her she frowned and then announced, "If I throw up, I'm aiming for you."

The Goblin King blinked, briefly thrown off by her statement. "What?"

"Throw. Up." She enunciated firmly. "If you even think of touching me like that again, I'm going to throw up on you. Understand?"

Jareth winced, finally comprehending his error. He'd forgotten about the vertigo that typically followed such a reading. Automatically he reached out to try and balance her equilibrium when she swiftly caught his wrist in a surprisingly strong grip. Jareth looked down at her, amused when he realized she was holding his wrist around the lower part of his sleeve. Most didn't catch on quite so quick.

"Really Sarah, I can't help you if you won't let me touch you."

She gave him a dirty look. "You touching me didn't work out so well this last time."

Jareth gave her a pointed look.

Sarah shrugged, still nauseous. "It's your shoes."

Jareth rolled his eyes before dispelling the glove from his other hand (Sarah thought it was kind of pretty how it seemed to dissolve like smoke.) and laid one hand along the top of her head and the other along her stomach. It seemed as if he'd only closed his eyes a moment before Sarah felt her senses calm and her stomach settle.

She sighed in obvious relief. "You are so forgiven."

Jareth smiled at her as he opened his eyes and sat back, amused with her all over again. "And you precious thing, are not yet quite."

Sarah blinked. "What?"

He sighed, his earlier amusement fading. "How long have you been letting this go on, Sarah?"

She stiffened. "I… Well…"

"Sarah." He commanded, and she seemed to almost wilt.

"A few months."

"Do you know what you've permitted that girl to do to you?" He asked.

She shook her head.

"I'm not a healer, but I've been in battle enough to know that she's cracked at least two of your ribs, and some of your bruises are bone deep." Jareth glanced away as his composure slipped. "Dammit, Sarah! I'm not even sure how you're able to move as easily as you're managing. What were you thinking?"

She flinched as his words bit into her.

Jareth didn't relent as he turned, his eyes cruel and unforgiving. "Well? Don't you have anything to say?"

Sarah quickly closed her eyes, trying to will away the tears that wanted to fall. It didn't help.

"I didn't want this, alright?" She swiftly yelled back at him. "I didn't want to be another problem for someone else, are you happy?"

His eyes briefly went wide at her words before swiftly narrowing. "Who said that to you?"

She flushed and looked away. "No one."

"Sarah." He warned.

"No one." She emphasized.

"Sarah." He growled.

She glanced down, an odd hitch in her breath making him pause. "Do you have to know?" She whispered. "Do you have to ask?"

He hesitated briefly before answering honestly. "If you want me to help you, then yes. I do have to ask."

She let out a long shaky breath, an odd cross between defeat and relief, before holding out her hand. "Do I have to talk about it?"

Jareth felt some of the tension in his body ease. "No. You don't." And he gently took her hand.

She'd been trying so hard. Why did Karen keep up with this? Why couldn't she just let the subject lie? She didn't want to date Kevin. Was it really so hard for everyone to see that he was making eyes at Nina Walker?

"Are you even listening to me Sarah?"

No. No she wasn't. As far as she was concerned the subject was closed. Kevin was, quite frankly, not on the market and Sarah wasn't interested to begin with.

Instead she said, "Yes, I'm listening Karen. I just don't think I'm ready to date yet. I've got a lot to do with both school and summer projects. Having a relationship right now just wouldn't be a good idea. I've already told you this."

Karen was not mollified. "And I've told you. You need to spend more time with kids your own age. You need friends. Why can't you see that I'm only trying to help you?"

Sarah squashed the urge to snap at the woman. It wasn't Karen's fault she didn't understand the position Sarah was in. It was hardly her preference not to have friends her own age, but what could she do when they only spoke to her to ask about her mother? As far as Sarah was concerned, if they wanted to talk to Linda Williams so badly they could go and write to her like all her other fan-club members.

"I don't need the help Karen. When I want a boyfriend I'll look for one, but I just don't need one right now."

She also didn't need a bullet in the head, but judging from the frustration on Karen's face she wasn't going to avoid this issue.

"What's wrong with the Rochester boy?" Karen pressed. "He has looks, money, personality, what else do you need?"

Sarah thought of blonde hair and mismatched blue eyes, idly wondering what that said about her taste in men considering she was browsing outside her own species.

"Nothing Karen, it's just that I have a lot of work to keep up with, and it would be cruel to start a relationship with someone I don't have the time for."

She'd had more than enough of being cruel to people.

"Work? What work? You come home, do your school work, and occasionally watch Toby. That's it. I don't know how you think you have work to do."

Sarah wanted to shake the woman until some sense lodged into her skull. Of course she had work, it wasn't as if things were the same as when Karen was in school. Most of the mandatory classes were so advanced for the woman it would probably make her head spin. Sarah was only keeping up right now because she didn't have any friends. And watching Toby occasionally? She understood that the events her Dad and Karen went to were for her Dad's work, but honestly, Sarah hadn't had a free weekend since Toby was born. Did Karen really think shoving a boy into the mix was a good idea? Maybe if she spoke in smaller sentences something would sink in.

"I don't want a boyfriend, alright?"

It wasn't alright, and Karen made sure to say as much.

"I don't understand you! Why do you have to be such a problem? Why do you have to make everything so difficult for everyone around you?"

Karen suddenly froze and Sarah went white.

Quickly getting up, Sarah snatched her jacket from the back of the kitchen chair and headed for the back door. As she made to leave she spoke a soft, "I'll be back later tonight." and left.

Like all the other times such arguments occurred, no one rushed to stop her.

Sarah couldn't help wondering why, after all this time, she still felt betrayed by it.

He made to leave her then, the memory over, but there was a small insistent tugging at his heart. She wanted to show him something else?

She was crying again. Begging. Pleading. What did she do wrong? Why couldn't she make it right?

Hands suddenly reached down and shook her. "Enough of this Sarah. You knew this was going to happen."

No, she hadn't known. They said things would get better, not worse.

"Please don't go." She begged her mother. "We can come with you. Me and Daddy can help you. Together. Please, Mama. Please."

The hands holding her grew painful, but she didn't make a sound.

"Don't you get it? I'm leaving to get away from this life. Not drag it with me. You were an accident, Sarah! A mistake your father insisted on keeping. I'm not bringing you with me Sarah. Not you. Not your father. I'm taking the life I wanted back!"

Jareth lingered in Sarah's heart, stunned beyond words. He'd had many cruel things happen to him in his long life, but even his own parents, hadn't been as blatant about their animosity toward him until he was nearly a young adult. Sarah, he was beginning to realize, was still nursing a very broken heart.

Taking in a shaky breath, he gently retreated from her memories and opened his eyes.

"You know," She said with a kind of dry amusement, her eyes still closed. "This isn't the advice I came here for."

Jareth smiled, even as he noticed the tear tracks along her cheeks.

Gently reaching out, he carefully took hold of her and slid her over till she rested by his side. What a strange day this was turning out to be.

"Perhaps not, but maybe it was something we needed."

Sarah sighed softly as she allowed herself to rest against him. It was nice having someone to there to lean on. Maybe this was what Karen wanted her to have so badly.

"If you say so."

Jareth grinned. "I do."

Sarah snorted.

"Sarah," He asked softly. "Is that why you didn't accept-"

"Partly." She gently cut him off. Sighing, she opened her eyes and leaned back enough that she could properly look at him. "Do you know what it's like to hear someone say, 'I love you.' and know that it's just words? That there's no real meaning behind it?"

He shook his head.

"My whole life, it's like I've been something to be passed around. My mother had me for a while and didn't want me, then it seemed like my dad had to marry Karen because he didn't know what to do with me either. Karen…" She paused briefly before shrugging. "I used to get along great with Karen. After Toby was born though, even she didn't have the time."

"Did you ever tell them this?" He asked.

"I tried." She answered. "That memory you saw? That argument started with me asking Karen if we could set aside some time to talk."

Jareth tilted his head faintly to one side in thought. "In your memory, you thought of 'events'. What are these events for?"

"My dad's a lawyer. For the last couple of years he's been trying to make partner. Those events are usually some kind of social event put on by someone high up in the firm."

"And by going to them, they hope to curry favor with the host, correct?"

Sarah nodded. "That's about the gist of it, yes."

Jareth sighed. "It sounds to me like there's more going on than meets the eye. But, we've gotten off topic."

Sarah blushed, but nodded. "I… well, I thought you were too good to be true. While I was Running everyone kept telling me nothing was what it seems. I mean, if a wall wasn't really a wall then why…"

"Why would I honestly wish to hold on to you, where even your own family has faltered."

She nodded.

He smiled then, the gesture young and more knowing than she could completely understand. "Oh Sarah, where else would I keep my heart, but right beside me?"

Had Jareth been standing he had little doubt Sarah would have bowled him over with the force of her embrace. Gently, he wrapped his arms around her and just held her. Finally, after all this time, he had her in his arms. It may have taken a little longer than he'd initially wanted but she was here, and he was never letting go.

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 2 of 15

<< Previous     Home     Next >>