Continuing Tales

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 8 of 14

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Twists of Fate

When Wreath stepped through that portal, she wasn't expecting to end up in a large, stone room filled with hundreds of little creatures that looked like something out of a nightmare, and smelled even worse. She stared about in astonishment, wondering what in heaven's name she'd gotten herself into, before turning her eyes to a large stone chair set upon a dais. In this chair sat Jareth, slouched with his leg draped over one curved arm, affording her with a rather interesting view, due to the tight gray breeches he wore.

She coughed and turned her eyes away, looking for Jacob. She found the boy sitting at the edge of a fire pit, watching a cock fight with fascination, not at all mindful of the hideous little goblins that surrounded him. "Jacob!" she called, and the child looked up, his eyes lighting in delight at the sight of her.

"Wreath! Lookit the chickens fightin' in the pit!" he called, pointing into the fire pit. Wreath hurried to his side.

"Are you okay?" she asked worriedly. "The bad man didn't hurt you, did he?"

"The 'bad man' hasn't lain a finger on the child," Jareth retorted from above her. He stood and towered over her, and she glared her defiance at him.

"You're going to regret ever tangling with the likes of Vincent," she said proudly. "He's not your normal man, you know! His senses and instincts are far sharper than that. He'll be here in no time at all!" Jareth smirked. "Well, time will tell, won't it? The Labyrinth is as ever changing as the seasons in your world. It shifts and evolves to match the personalities of those who seek to surpass it. It is different for every person who comes. The challenges your Vincent will face are not the ones Sarah will face. It chooses those that will test the challenger's durability and strength to the limits."

Wreath glared at him. "If anything happens to him, I'll..."

"You'll do what?" Jareth challenged mockingly. His face darkened. "There is nothing that you could do to me, little one, that will affect the outcome one way or the other. What happens now is entirely up to your friends. We can do nothing but sit back and watch and wait."

"And interfere, if it suits you," she snapped. "Sarah told me all about the last visit she had with you, and frankly, I can see why she doesn't care for you all that much!"

"The feeling is mutual!" he hissed after a long moment of silence, but Wreath didn't believe him. She was gazing at him in open astonishment, for she had seen something in his eyes that was completely at odds with his harsh words.

"You don't hate her," she finally told him after a long moment. "It's the complete opposite of that, what you feel for her. You love her, don't you?"

"And how would you know that?" he snarled, his eyes glittering dangerously.

She laughed bitterly. "Do you think, after years of watching Vincent mourning for his lost Catherine, who will never come to him again, that I'd not by now know the expression of hopeless love in a man's eyes? Aye, Jareth. That's what it is. What I see in your eyes behind that frozen mask is the same as what I see in Vincent's when e're he gazes upon her portrait in his chambers." She turned her back on Jareth's astonished gaze and looked toward Jacob, who was patiently attempting to teach the goblins a game of pick-up sticks. She smiled sadly as she watched him. "I imagine that self-same emotion has shown in my own eyes countless times, if Vincent was only perceptive enough to see it..." she finished in a whisper.

She had not meant for Jareth to hear that, but the fae's sharp hearing picked it up, anyway, and a thoughtful expression appeared on his face briefly. With a sigh, he lowered himself into his chair and summoned a crystal, thinking it was time to check up on his two other guests.

Just then, Wreath looked up at him, and a hint of mischief danced in her eyes, completely at odds with the melancholy that had lingered there only moments before. Jareth couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't a bit of Fae in Wreath herself, what with all her sudden mood swings. "I've been meaning to ask you, who does your hair? Edward Scissorhands?" she was asking him with a sly grin.

He bristled defensively. "What's wrong with my hair?"

"Oh, nothing," she replied innocently. "It just looks like you took a nose-dive into the wrong end of a weed whacker, is all. Perfectly normal, I'm sure."

Jareth glared at her, but decided to ignore her in favor of spying on his other...guests. He sulked as he gazed into the crystal, and Wreath turned away with a small smirk of triumph.

* * * * *

Vincent paused as Sarah suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. He looked about, wondering what had alarmed her so, but the stone path they followed was empty but for themselves. "What is it?" he asked in concern. "Is something wrong?"

Sarah relaxed slowly. "He's watching us," she stated calmly. It took Vincent a moment to realize that she meant Jareth.

"How do you know?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I don't know. I just...suddenly felt that he's watching. Look for a white owl. That would be Jareth. He's a shape-shifter, as well, you know. Either that, or he's spying through one of those crystals. Be on your guard. He may try some nasty trick," she replied matter-of-factly. She continued on and he followed.

"Have you always been able to sense him spying?" Vincent asked after awhile.

She hesitated, then shrugged lightly. "Not that I recall. Last time I was worried more about staying alive than about the Goblin King spying on me. I guess this time, when I know what to expect, I can tell when he's peeking in."

Vincent cocked his head to the side, studying the young woman who walked beside him. He knew that there was more to it than that. There was a kind of bond between her and the Goblin King. He had sensed it, due to his own unique gifts, from the moment Jareth had appeared in the room. Even as he and Sarah had faced each other down, there had been something more that flew between them. Something completely different from the animosity they'd displayed, especially on Jareth's part. Especially when he'd turned down Sarah's request to take Jacob's place in the Labyrinth. It had been pure disappointment that bordered on near physical pain that Vincent had sensed in the king's emotions. He wondered, briefly, if Sarah knew how much Jareth was really in love with her, or that she was more than a little in love with him, as well. He had a feeling that by the time this adventure was over, it would all be coming to light.

* * * * *

Wreath watched as the goblins played their mindless games, while Jacob attempted to teach a few of them the simple concept of playing Go Fish with a deck of cards. Well, simple it was to him. To the goblins, however, he may as well have been attempting to explain the finer details of brain surgery, for all the understanding they showed. But they were having fun, and Jacob was having fun, so she let them continue as she herself stared out the window at the Labyrinth and attempted to make out any figures moving within its twisting walls.

"You'll never see them," came a silky voice from behind her, and she jumped in surprise, turning to see Jareth standing there, smiling at her smugly.

She scowled back. "That's your opinion!" she snapped. "They could be at the castle already, for all you know!"

"Trust me. They're nowhere near the castle. They may both be in an oubliette by now," he smirked. "Such a pity. Are you sorry now that Sarah wished you away. Rather unkind of her, wasn't it?"

"Not really," she replied smoothly. "I'd have wished myself away, if she hadn't beaten me to it!"

Jareth laughed. "Yes, I suppose so," he murmured. "You and she are alike, you know," he added mysteriously. "You both have that same independent spirit and unbreakable soul."

"Unbreakable', you say. Well, that surely doesn't keep you from attempting to break it, anyway," she sniffed, and he replied with another feral chuckle as he walked away from her. It was time that he played another of his cards, and separated the two challengers. Make the Labyrinth twice as hard to complete. He knew just where to separate them. In the Fiery Forest, where Sarah had lost that Ludo creature during her last visit. They were nearing it now, and he could see that neither of them was happy about it.

Good. The forest was filled with things more dangerous than the Fierys. Much more. Hopefully, a secret part of his mind thought, nothing too terribly nasty would meet up with his Sarah. He frowned and quickly banished the thought, and the rush of emotion it brought along with it, and summoned a crystal, lounging in his throne to watch the scene take place before him.

* * * * *

She drifted beside them as they pushed their way through the tangled forest, neither of them sensing that she was close by. Even Vincent, with all his keen instincts, was too busy fighting the forest to realize that she was there. She walked beside him, even going so far as to reach out and touch that glorious mane with phantom fingers, remembering the feel of tangled, silken strands slipping through her hands...

"Stop," she whispered, scolding herself, and her voice sounded like a breath of different from any other breath of wind. "You do yourself no good remembering what was. Think to his future." She sighed and moved ahead, to see what was to come. There were dangers in these woods. Hidden dangers that could rend and kill should they catch the trespassers. She would do her best to protect them.

It happened quickly. So quickly, that even she did not sense it coming. One moment Vincent and Sarah walked together, and in the next...he had simply vanished. Right into midair. Both Sarah and the Lady stood there, staring at the spot Vincent had been, and then Sarah gave a furious yell. "Fine!" she screamed. "Go ahead! Separate us! It won't make a difference! We'll still kick your butt!"

The Lady smiled wanly at Sarah's spirited yell, though her own thoughts were a jumble. She had no idea how the Goblin King had done away with Vincent so easily. She was worried for him, and yet she did not dare leave Sarah. Vincent could easily look after himself, but Sarah might need her help. For now, she decided, she would stay with Sarah and help her. She could only hope that Vincent would be okay.

* * * * *

Vincent examined his new surroundings with some perplexity. He didn't understand how it had happened, him having ended up somehow back in the inner Labyrinth, and yet he was there. He knew that Jareth had something to do with it. He also knew that he'd better get a move on if he expected to reach the castle in time. Luckily, he seemed to be no further out than he was, but he wasn't really any closer, either. With a soft sigh he started forward at a loping pace, his long legs and tireless canter giving him extra ground. He had held back for Sarah's sake before, knowing she'd never be able to keep up with him should he choose to set out at this pace. But now that he was alone, what was to stop him from running the entire way? Perhaps Jareth had done him more of a favor than a disservice, he thought with a slightly smug smile.

Suddenly, the ground beneath his feet dropped away, only an instant after he sensed the minuscule shift of the trap door. With a growl he lunged forward and managed to grip the edge of the shaft before he fell in completely. There was a moment's frantic scrabbling on the pathway as the stones threatened to give way under his grip, but his claws caught the edge of a stone and held, and he started to pull himself back up. He thought he heard voices below him. Voices that sounded like hollow bones and dried-up old leaves.

"Say! The door's opened! Where's the poor sod what's supposed to have fallen in?" someone complained loudly. Curious, Vincent poked his head in over the edge, and his sharp sight picked out the faint shape of a...face. At least, he thought it was a face. It looked more like a bunch of green hands formed together...

"The Helping Hands," he murmured with a smile. "Sarah was right."

"Who said that?" one of the voices demanded. "Come down here! Ye're supposed to fall in and let us catch you! Don't you know anything?"

"I'm sorry," he called back, chuckling a little. "I rather like daylight. I'd prefer to stay up here. Thank you anyway." He stood and loped away, all his senses on red alert for more such traps, and the voices, still complaining, faded away.

* * * * *

Jareth frowned as he watched Vincent in the crystal ball, and Wreath, who had been watching with him, grinned. "You see?" she said smugly. "He's not so easy to fool, my Vincent. You'll have to do better than that to throw him off!"

He gave her an irritated glance. "A fool's luck," he muttered. "That's all it was. The pitfalls are not the most dangerous things in the Labyrinth. There are many others that are, I'd wager, more than a match for 'your Vincent'." His tone turned mocking on the last two words, and she glared at him before deciding to ignore him. Jareth smirked and drew another crystal from the air. It glowed briefly, and Sarah's image appeared within its depths. His expression softened as he gazed on her, which Wreath could hardly help but notice.

"Why not tell her?" she asked softly.

Jareth gave her a startled glance. "Excuse me?"

She waved a hand in the air. "Tell her! Tell her that you love her, and that you only want to make her happy! Sweep her off her feet! Trying to frighten her out of her wits is not going to help your cause along, you know. I can't begin to imagine what she might see in you, but it wouldn't kill you to try, would it?"

He smirked. "And I should take your advice because..." He trailed off, raising an elegantly slanted eyebrow as he waited for her to pick it up the train of thought.

"Because I'm a woman," she replied haughtily. "I think I ought to know what women like, don't you?"

He snorted. "Why don't you tell Vincent that you love him?" he challenged back. "You are no different than I, and you have less to lose."

"I haven't told him because I know he's still in love with Catherine," she retorted. "I cannot hope to compete with a ghost. And I do not have less to lose. Vincent is my best friend. If I tell him, I may lose his friendship, and the risk isn't worth that price."

"Even the potential for eternal happiness?" he asked quietly.

She stared at him. "Ask yourself the same question," she replied. "Are you willing to lose even a chance at Sarah's heart because of your pride? You have less to lose than I, as I see it. As it stands now, she can barely tolerate you. If you do tell her how you feel, the worst thing she can do is exactly what she did the last time she was here."

Jareth stared at her for a long moment, and then sighed heavily and turned back to the crystal, staring into it as though it held the key to his very existence.

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 8 of 14

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