Continuing Tales

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 9 of 15

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Tokens of Affection

Robert Williams was livid.

In total, the Jeanes girl had managed to shoot two children, nearly succeed in killing his own daughter, and had injured and terrorized countless others.

Yet, despite it all, the police were still being held back from an arrest.

"It's no good," said Byron Zane, a colleague and friend of Robert's, as he came to stand beside him. "Right now the Jeanes are calling in every political favor and pulling whatever string they can find to stall for time. I think they're hoping to find something medically wrong with their daughter, so that when she is arrested, they'll have something to take to the courts."

Robert snorted, "They're consulting the wrong physicians if they want to find anything wrong with that girl."

Byron gave a short nod as he glanced down the hall, his face troubled.

"How is she?" Robert asked.

"The same," the other man answered vaguely. "She's still sleeping off the anesthesia, and the doctors say she came through the surgery well, it's just…"

"Why her?" Robert offered gently.

Byron abruptly turned and slammed his fist against the wall. "She's just a kid, Robert! She hasn't done anything to anyone; she just sits in the school library and reads in her free time. I've asked around, no one can say anything bad about her. Why did this little bitch go after Alicia? What could she have possibly done to her?"

"She presented an easy target." A deep voice rumbled firmly from just down that hall. "Just like my boy did."

Both Robert and Byron turned to see Vaughn Black, the father of Marcus Black, stride down the hall towards them.

"How is your little sister doing, Byron? I only just heard that she was in surgery a few minutes ago."

Byron shifted self-consciously as he stood before the broad-shouldered man, his shoulders slumping almost shamefully. Vaughn Black was a well-known and decorated military officer that was notorious for his dislike of those without proper self-control.

"I'm sorry you saw me like that, sir." The young man apologized softly.

He was also Byron's godfather.

"Your younger sister is in the hospital, Byron," the man rumbled deeply. "If your father was here, we both know he'd be doing a lot worse than denting a few walls."

Robert politely took a few steps back as he allowed the two men some privacy. Byron was twenty-eight, and was a first rate attorney in the same firm that Robert worked for. He was also the only survivor of a car crash that took the lives of both of his parents just after he'd turned eighteen.

Alicia, at fifteen, was as much his daughter as she was his sister, and the older man had little doubt about how much it must hurt him to have to see her in the condition she was currently in.

"And what about you, Robert? My boy told me that creature went after your little girl this afternoon."

Robert swallowed thickly as he took a few steps back into the circle. "I'm not really sure how she is," he answered honestly.

Vaughn turned to him sharply. "They haven't found her?"

"Oh, no," He clarified quickly, "nothing like what you're suggesting…" The man hesitated briefly, trying to find a place to start. "How much was Marcus able to tell you?"

"Only so much, I'm afraid. They have him heavily sedated at the moment, but he was able to tell me that he met your Sarah in the hall and while they were speaking, that other girl showed up." There was a distinct pause, a sort of hesitation that wasn't normal for a man like Vaughn Black. "He asked after your Sarah quite adamantly," he confessed softly. "He wanted to know if she'd gotten out, if she was still alive."

Robert briefly closed his eyes at hearing one of his worst fears spoken aloud. "She got out," he answered, "and was able to hold her own until help arrived."

"That's good to know," Vaughn said gently. "I'll be sure to tell Marcus he doesn't have to worry any longer."

"Please tell him thank you for me," Robert sighed. "The last time I heard from Sarah, I was told that if it wasn't for him, she might not have made it out of the school at all."

"So, where is Sarah?" Byron asked, abruptly.

Robert froze.

Of all the facts he'd been hoping he could gloss over until another time, where he'd been forced to leave his daughter was fairly high up on the list.

"Is she with Karen?" Vaughn prompted.

Robert had to refrain from snorting.

He wished.

"Are both of you aware that it was Karen and I that started this whole thing?"

Both godson and godfather glanced between each other, nodding, each clearly wondering where this was going.

"Yes, well, much like your children, mine wasn't exactly forthcoming about all of this either," Robert stated almost flatly.

"Then how did you-" Byron tried to ask.

"Apparently, his name is Jareth."

Byron looked confused. "I don't get it, who are you-"

"When did you find out about him?" Vaughn cut off, amusement plain on his face.

Robert shot him a dirty look. "I don't see how you have any say in this, considering you don't have any daughters."

The tall man laughed. "Perhaps not any daughters, but I dare say that I do have my fair share of sisters, Robert. How old is the lad?"

If anything, Robert looked even more sour at the new question.

Vaughn laughed harder. "That old?"

"Twenty-four," He stated wryly.

That brought the other man up short. "What?"

"Twenty-four," Robert repeated, "He is eight years older than my little girl, and last night he convinced my daughter to come to me with a problem she probably wouldn't have on her own. I don't know whether I should appreciate his efforts to keep her safe, or hate him for even looking at her to begin with."

Vaughn snorted. "You're a father, you're allowed to do both."

Robert smiled tiredly back, "Yeah, I guess you're-"

All of a sudden there was a resounding slap, followed by a choked sob and an enraged, "Mother!"

Without missing a beat, all three men shot down the hall and around the corner to see what was happening. What they came face to face with was not what they'd expected.

"I won't stand for it!" Maria Rochester was screaming at her youngest son, as he held a sobbing girl in his arms. "It's bad enough your older brother ran off with that little hussy he met in college, I'll not let you court some nigger!"

A hush suddenly fell over the hall, nurses and doctors going about their tasks jolting abruptly at the racial slur.

"You self-righteous bigot," Kevin Rochester hissed back at his mother. "You never would have said such a thing if Dad weren't out of town."

"If your father were here, he would be standing by me!" She spat angrily.

"What is all of this about?" Vaughn rumbled ominously, stepping forward with a kind of predatory grace.

"Stay out of this Vaughn!" Maria snapped. "This is between me and my son, I don't need any of your meddling!"

"I'll meddle as much as is needed when you strike a child that isn't yours," the broad man growled. "Unless you can honestly tell me that you didn't just slap that girl hiding behind your own boy."

Maria Rochester said nothing as she seethed furiously where she stood.

"I thought not," Vaughn spoke condemningly.

Robert Williams stood firmly to the tall man's right as he motioned the two teens over to him. "Come on you two, we'll go to the cafeteria while Mr. Black speaks to Ms. Rochester."

Shooting a dirty look at his mother, Kevin quietly guided Nina Walker away from the confrontation.

Catching Byron's eye, Robert nodded him over to his side, as he began to walk after the two kids.

Turning a corner, the young attorney asked lowly, "What was that all about?"

Robert checked how far the young couple was ahead of them before answering just as lowly. "Maria is fairly prejudiced. If you're of a colored background, you're less than human as far as she's concerned. Franklin, her husband, usually keeps her under control while he's around, but when he's out of town like now? I know for a fact the poor guy has pre-made apology letters on file for when she acts up like this."

"Is he…?" Byron trailed off, unsure how to phrase such a question.

"No," Robert answered frankly. "He married Maria for much the same reason that I married Linda."

"Cart before the horse?"

The older man laughed. "Yeah, something like that. The 'cart' as you put it, was Kevin's older brother, Mitch. A few years ago he went off to college and met a nice girl with a large family that owned a small chain of restaurants in her home town. Well, one thing led to another, he fell in love, brought her home and Maria had a fit because she wasn't from a rich enough family."

"So, she was…?"

"White?" Robert asked bluntly. "Like the moon. Last I heard, the kid just married and had moved with her back to her home town to work with his new wife's family."

"Wow." Byron stated.

The old attorney snorted, "No kidding. And now I need to call and disturb Franklin to let him know his wife is causing trouble again."

"Call?" The young man asked, "Why do you need to call; she's not your wife."

Robert smiled at that. "Because he used to do the same thing for me when I was still married to Linda. You were probably too young to have really heard of it, but Linda was known for being fairly loose with our money. It wasn't uncommon for me to go out on a business trip and then have to call down to the bank back here to have our account frozen until I got back."

"Wasn't that a bit risky?" Byron questioned, "You know, with your daughter and all. What if she got sick?"

"That's where Franklin came in," Robert answered honestly. "Trust me son, when they say it takes a village to raise a child… well… lets just say in my case, it wasn't that far from the truth."

Byron didn't press for any more details, wise enough to know when he was about to intrude on painful territory.

Silence passed between the small group as they reached, and then entered, the elevator. However, as soon as the doors closed, Robert smiled wryly and asked bluntly, "So which one of you gave it away?"

Kevin looked up sharply as Nina glanced down at the floor.

"I don't know what you're talking-" Kevin tried to defend, only for Nina to cut off.

"It was me. I heard that Kevin was in the same store that Lacey had chased Sarah into, and that some of the people in there had to go to the hospital." She shook her head, her voice choked. "I thought one of them might be Kevin."

"Nina…" The boy sighed, holding the girl a little more closely, "I'm right here. I told you nothing serious happened to anyone in the store. Old lady Greene just sprained her wrist when she dove for the floor, that's all."

"I know…" She sobbed, "it's just…"

"It's the thought that it could have happened," Robert stated wisely.

Kevin looked up, "Sir?"

"Son, at this point, I think just about everyone in town, excluding your mother, knows that you've been quietly trying to go out with this nice young woman right here."

The teens eyes went wide, "but... I thought…"

Byron laughed from where he stood on the other side of the elevator. "Kid, this town is small enough that you can't sneeze without your neighbor saying, 'God bless you'. Didn't you ever wonder why word of you taking this girl to a movie or one of the shops in town never got back to your mother?"


The elevator dinged as they reached their floor, and they all exited.

"You said you were at the store?" Robert asked after a few moments. "Did you see what happened to Sarah while she was there?"

Kevin swallowed nervously. "Hasn't she mentioned anything to you, sir?"

The father frowned and shook his head. "No. Jareth, that young man that went out with you and the girls yesterday, came back into town today. He told me he heard gun shots and had a bad feeling about what was going on, and managed to come across the girls just as Lacey fell and hit her head on one of the old monument foundations. He told me that he was afraid that the police might try to arrest both girls, so he decided it would be better to take Sarah back to his home until I could pick her up tonight."

"So, you really don't have any idea what happened since the start of all of this," Nina stated softly.

Robert sighed, "No, just bits and pieces."

The young woman briefly closed her eyes, before opening them and nodding her head resolutely. "Alright then, after Kevin is done telling you what he knows, we'll go out and try to retrace Sarah's steps for you."

The older attorney's eyes softened. "You don't have to do that. I can find out what happened to Sarah tonight. Neither of you have had the best day, either."

"No, sir," Kevin softly disagreed, "Nina and I, well… we owe Sarah. She's done a lot for us these last few months on top of…" he swallowed thickly, "-on top of everything she's already gone through, and we want to help repay that."

Robert eyed the two teens curiously, but, for now, chose not to ask. The truth of the matter was that much like many of the other parents loitering about the hospital's halls, he wasn't just here to act as moral support for the children of various friends and acquaintances that this girl hurt, he was also here to make sure that despite her parents' efforts; Lacey Jeanes didn't leave the building in anything short of a police car.

"Thank you," the older man said at last. "Thank you so much."


It wasn't enough.

He'd thought that if he'd just taken the time to clear his head, to walk it out of his system, he'd be fine, but the memories just wouldn't leave and every time he closed his eyes his family was there, debasing his every action and achievement until there was nothing of value left to offer.

He wanted to cry, to scream, to just forget everything they'd ever done to him.

Why did it have to be him? Why did he have to be born to those people? Why did these ancestors want to help him now when the scars had already been carved into his very being?

Jareth came to rest at the base of an old oak tree along the edge of Aidan's valley, desperately trying to tame the enraged creature that roiled inside him. Glancing at his wrist, he felt his spirits lighten some. Sarah's latest message seemed to be quite determined to make him feel better, rubbing along his arm like a particularly affectionate cat.

The fae grinned; it was even making comforting little cooing noises whenever he seemed to get especially tense.

Running his finger along the underside of the open bloom, he was pleased to note that it was also capable of making a rather amusing purring sound when stroked. Considering how oddly personable her blooms tended to be around him, Jareth wondered if, perhaps, Sarah had a latent talent with plants. It would certainly explain their rather unique personalities.

A twig snapping under foot had the Goblin King looking up sharply, his eyes cold and angry. "What are you doing here?"

Cathal stopped short a good ten feet away, eyeing the younger fae cautiously before taking a few more steps forward and laying a rue at his feet.

He answered softly, "Fionn wished me to give this to you."

Jareth felt the creature inside him twist painfully at the sight of the plant.


The sentiment was too little too late - what good was regret when the damage had already been done?

"Her remorse is wasted, old man." Jareth stated coldly, "If this is all you came to do, then your obligation is fulfilled. Leave." He commanded.

Cathal's eyes narrowed. "That is not all, and I refuse to be ordered about by some young boy that believes he has the right to do so."

The Goblin King's eyes flashed dangerously, and Jareth rose purposefully from where he sat, coming to stand a good half a head taller than his ancestor.

"I have every right," he growled lowly. "You are intruding on goblin lands, my lands. You think you have the right to challenge me here? You've over stepped yourself, High King." Jareth sneered.

"As one of my descendents I have every right-"

The Goblin King laughed derisively. "Your descendents? I already told you, old man, I'm not one of your descendents. Whoever you're looking for is gone, face the facts."

"The fact is standing right here staring me in the face!" The older monarch barked right back. "You face facts, brat, I'm not going anywhere until you see sense!"

The angry, twisting creature inside of Jareth suddenly reared back and howled.

Before the younger fae could really think through what he was doing, he'd already formed a crystal and hurtled it at the older fae's head.

Swiftly reaching up, Cathal managed to snatch the flying sphere right out of the air, commenting scornfully, "I thought we-" and promptly had to duck as two more crystals shot after the first, one aimed for his chest with the other racing for the ground at his feet.

Quickly leaping back and twisting to the side, the Ancient Lord managed to evade the last two projectiles, but wasn't able to stop their progress.

He expected an explosion.

What he received, was two slightly staggered bursts of light that died out to reveal two magical Constructs, one bearing the shape of a wolf, the other a large mountain cat.

"Constructs, Goblin King?" Cathal asked disdainfully, still holding the first crystal. "I expected better."

"How ironic," Jareth returned snidely, "so did I."

And before the older fae had a moment to consider the younger's words, the crystal in his hand burst, and in a quick, deadly, flash of light, a furious cobra curled, poised to strike around the Ancients arm.

"Will you leave me alone yet, old man?"

Cathal's eyes narrowed determinedly, watching the cobra for the tiniest of movement as he carefully kept the other two Constructs in his peripheral vision. "Not a chance, brat." And quicker than Jareth thought the old fae capable, he swiftly struck out and caught the snake just below the head. With a deft twist of his wrist, Cathal snapped the venomous reptile's neck and let it disappear in a shower of glitter.

Jareth quickly bit the inside of his cheek as the magic within the creature back-lashed violently within him.

Despite what he'd let the Lord believe, the animals Jareth had summoned were not Constructs. They were, in fact, his own secondary animal forms.

Using a bastardized summoning spell, he was able to manifest the shapes outside of his own body, and use them as a means of defence. The pro to this, was that they inherited his own thought patterns and intelligence, thus allowing them all the advantage of anticipating a counterparts maneuver ahead of time. The con was that if they weren't dismissed correctly, the magical backlash caused by their 'death' affected him physically.

The pain caused by the death of his cobra shape was bearable for now, but Jareth wasn't comfortable with how quickly that aspect of himself had been killed. Watching the way the elder was beginning to square off against his wolf and cougar, the Goblin King found himself finally questioning the wisdom of his actions.

Closing his eyes and taking a shaking breath, Jareth flicked his wrist and created a crystal. Dropping it on the ground, he immediately made another and let it roll off his hand to join the first. Two short flashes of light, and the Goblin King looked down at his latest summons, their eyes boring into him knowingly.

"I'm sorry," He whispered to them sincerely, "I just can't… I can't let go of what they did."

The fox and the coyote looked at him with soul-seeing eyes, before turning to observe the battle their compatriots were fighting.

Jareth abruptly took in a sharp, pained breath as he felt his cougar die.

The coyote snorted in amusement at the big cat's fall, as the fox watched the proceedings with calculated precision.

They both represented the trickster aspect of himself. The coyote from the more playful side, and the fox from the more devious.

Despite how angry he'd been when he'd initially escalated their argument, he hadn't been so far gone as to not realize that he wouldn't be able to fight this Ancient fae on equal footing. It was a gamble, but these summons were the best he had when it came to causing a distraction, and at the moment, that was exactly what he was trying to accomplish.

"Go." he commanded the two canines at his feet, a brief smile flickering across his face. "Cause a little havoc."

Yipping excitedly, the two summons quickly shot off to join the wolf.

Before long, the two troublemakers seemed to have the old man's complete attention, and so without further thought, Jareth turned and tried to make his way into the outlying woods surrounding the valley. If he did everything just right, he could circle back around and disappear with both Aidan and Sarah before the Ancient even realized the trick.

It was at that point, that the unthinkable happened.

With a sudden resounding burst of power, Jareth's last three summons all died at once.

The sheer pain drove him to his knees and he tasted blood on the back of his tongue. Raising a hand to his mouth he managed a short, excruciating cough and was unsurprised when he found blood smeared across his glove.

He had been stupid, he realized belatedly, to underestimate an Ancient and think that his normal tricks, even his better ones, would be enough to win him a reprieve.

Struggling to his feet, Jareth was determined to at least meet the other fae face to face. However, no sooner did he make the turn to do so, than the last of his energy left him, and he was sent crumpling to ground once again.

Strong arms, however, caught him before he could make the impact, and Jareth couldn't help the resentment that welled within him at the sudden support.

Fine time for the old man to catch him now. Just like the rue, the sentiment was worthless.

Too little, too late.

"You are the most insufferable creature I have ever met," Cathal snarled as he carefully lowered them both to the ground, "and I have little doubt your grandmother will insist you got it from me."

Jareth stubbornly said nothing, knowing that despite his earlier attempt, he would not be escaping this man anytime soon.

There was a long, drawn out sigh. "Fine, act like child. Lets see what you've done to yourself." And rolling the younger fae onto his back, Cathal tried to lay his hand across Jareth's chest.

The Goblin King's eyes went wide, his arm automatically smacking the incoming hand away as it made to touch skin. "What do you think you're-" He started, only to abruptly cut himself off as every nerve ending in his body seemed to come alive at once, brutally protesting the sudden movement, as every muscle in his body seized violently.

"Dammit, brat! What have you done now?" And before Jareth could retain enough control of his body to stop him, Cathal had laid a firm hand across his chest.

The world spiralled into darkness…


Watching Jareth walk away, when he obviously needed her, was one of the hardest things Sarah had ever had to do.

And damn it all, as much as she knew he needed the familial support those older fae represented, she couldn't bring herself to fault his resentment at their timing. They may have done a good deed in helping to save her life today, but that didn't redeem them from the hell they could have prevented Jareth from going through in his life.

"He'll be alright, you know," Aidan said softly, as the Goblin King finally disappeared from sight. "He always pulls through in the end."

Sarah glanced at the fae beside her, silently marveling at the sheer length of the black tresses falling past his shoulders. "I know that. It's what could happen in the in meantime that scares me."

Turning sharply on her heel, Sarah began to slowly walk to the entrance of Aidan's home. "Come on," she called over her shoulder. "I want to see what your house looks like on the inside."

Snorting softly to himself, Aidan watched her movements with sharp blue eyes. She was a fiery thing, that was for certain, but even her bold personality couldn't hide the way she kept her arms tucked close to her, or the way she limped slightly when she walked.

The girl was in pain, he realized, terrible, horrible pain if the way she wouldn't take a full breath was any indication.

He was going to have to do something about that, and considering that she was still human. Aidan could only think of one way to help her until Jareth came back.

"Sarah," he called, walking briskly to catch up to her. "Do you like tea?"

The teen tilted her head to one side, as the taller fae came up beside her. "On occasion, why?"

"I have something for pain that won't affect you adversely, if you'd like to try it," he offered.

"Really?" She asked, relief evident on her face.

Aidan nodded as they came to the front of the little cottage. "Yes. It's actually something that's been used by humans for centuries. Are you familiar with Willow Bark tea?"

Sarah's eyes widened in understanding. "My health class actually did a study on it a couple of weeks ago. It's where the pain killer aspirin came from. Is that what you're going to give me?"

The fae nodded, as he opened the door and motioned her to go through. "Yes, it's not the most potent thing I have, but for now, it is the safest."

The teen nodded in understanding as she past through the door, waiting just inside for Aidan to come through himself. "Anything would be worth a shot right now."

Aidan frowned as he shut the door and took the lead, guiding them down a spiral staircase set in the middle of the small room. "You didn't say anything to Jareth?"

"No," Sarah answered frankly. "I didn't want to worry him any more than he already was. At the time, I thought we were just going to stick around in the Above for a while, so waiting a few hours for him to calm down wasn't really going to hurt me."

"But then you ended up here," he sighed.

"Yeah, pretty much."

Finally making it to the bottom of the stairs, Aidan gave a slight bow as he as showcased the bottom floor with a flourish. "Welcome to Meadows Keep, my Lady."

Sarah was in awe.

The landing she came to rest on opened up into a fairly large living area, a round, free-standing fireplace in the center of the room, it's stone and glass-like finishes lending the whole space a distinctly elemental feel. Taking a quick look at the walls and floor, she marvelled at the beautiful blend of wood and stone that adorned those surfaces.

Taking a few steps forward, Sarah was finally able to take note of the various archways that lend into an assortment of hallways and rooms, her earlier snooping allowing her to have a fairly good idea of what lay in many of them.

Craning her neck back, so that she could look above her, Sarah was able to see the underside of some of the domes she'd originally peeked into from the garden. The large half-bubbles let in a huge amount of light from their high position.

"It's beautiful," Sarah stated honestly.

Aidan smiled with pride. "I designed it myself. It had always been a dream of mine to have a home like this."

"It's wonderful," she agreed.

"Jareth made it for me." The fae suddenly volunteered, a nostalgic look on his face. "When we first found ourselves here in the Labyrinth, I'd actually planned on staying in the castle with him and the goblins, but one day he took me from there and gave me this."

Sarah looked back at what was in front of her with new eyes, this time taking note of the occasional owl, and even what appeared to be a panther, carved here and there into the woodwork. Looking closely, Sarah was even able to spot what looked to be like a few spaces that had purposely been left open, as if waiting for a figure to be carved in.

A wife, she realized. Jareth had left open a space for whomever Aidan chose to be his wife.

"He really put a lot of thought into this," Sarah said softly.

"Yes," Aidan agreed in a whisper, "he really did." Abruptly shaking himself from this thought, the fae turned to the teen and smiled. "How about that tea, and while we wait for the pot to boil I can show you more of the house."

Sarah grinned, "And while we're doing that, you can tell me about all the wonderfully stupid things Jareth did when he was my age."

Blue eyes quickly lit with amusement. "You know what, my dear? I think you and I are going to get along splendidly." And offering his arm, Sarah and Aidan made their way their way to the kitchen to put the kettle to boil.

Years later, Jareth would always look back on this day, and regret his lack of supervision for their first meeting together. It would turn out to be the start a frightening alliance that would haunt him for centuries to come.

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 9 of 15

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