Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 10 of 24

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The Way Back

Sarah awoke slowly from a blessedly dreamless slumber, something was tickling her nose. She thought it was one of the many feathers on Jareth's quilt and repeatedly attempted to blow it away but the annoyance doggedly kept returning. Having finally woken enough to open her eyes, Sarah did so and had to bite back a squeak of surprise.

Jareth was asleep next to her. His face was about an inch away from hers, it was a strand of his unruly mop that hadn't left her alone. She timidly flicked her eyes from his peaceful face to the rest of him and, wavering between relief and regret, noted that he was fully clothed. He was still wearing the same garments he'd had on the previous night. He must have been exhausted, she thought, he was returning from a journey, wasn't he? She wondered if she would get the chance to ask him any questions. There were too many things that she did not understand about the Underground; Sarah thought that maybe she didn't want to know.

Despite the fact that she remembered what happened to her, she did not remember everything. There were even some things from the aboveground she did not remember. In fact much of her time in England was a blur and high school it seemed she had blocked out altogether. Sarah felt that the more she learned about the Underground in general, the more specific things she would remember about her imprisonment. And that she really did not want.

Mid-morning light poured into the chamber, casting everything in a warm yellow glow. Sarah stretched, trying to disturb the sleeping king as little as possible, and wondered what she should do with herself until Jareth awoke. Shifting, she looked him over again, taking in the sleep-rumpled black silk shirt and linen breeches, smiling when she saw he had not even bothered to remove his knee-high black boots. He was sprawled, rather awkwardly, across his side of the bed. His face was turned towards her, his ivory hair tangled amid her own dark locks. One of his arms was bent loosely across the mattress, almost as if he were reaching towards her, she thought the other one was hanging off the side of the bed. His hands were gloved, and Sarah wondered if he forgot to take them off, like the boots, or if he always slept in them.

She looked back up to his face, his mouth hung slightly open, his wild bangs fell into his closed eyes. Sarah's hands itched to brush them away, to touch him again. She recalled the close contact they'd had when she didn't remember him. He had sent shivers through her body even then. Sarah's thoughts now ran along a familiar path, ever since her victory she would remember something about him, a single insignificant thing, and the barrage of questions would begin. Why had he said all those things at the end? Were they a ploy to defeat her? Did he mean them at all, or did I plant his sincerity in my memory later?

Sarah was so caught up in her thoughts she did not realize her hand had moved until her fingers reached his hair, brushing the short strands across his un-furrowed brow. She held her breath, Jareth didn't stir. Sarah's hand moved of its own accord from his brow, down, tracing his jawline and high cheekbones.

Suddenly, he shifted in is sleep, moaning slightly and turning closer to her. Sarah snatched her hand back and bit her lip, waiting for him to wake up. But he didn't. Jareth's brows knit together in a look of profound torment as his lips moved, murmuring soundlessly. Sarah froze, unsure of what to do, until his voice finally broke through, though she knew he was still sleeping, "Mam chan olau, chyfnerthu 'm." She didn't understand the words, but Sarah heard his plea and could not ignore it.

Sarah put her hands on either side of his sorrow twisted face, pulling him to her, their foreheads touching. His hand moved to grasp her arm and she thought he may have awoken, but his eyes were still held tightly shut as he whispered again in words she did not understand, but heard his desperation rising, "O Manon...Mam, 'r breuddwydion ewyllysia mo cer...ewyllysian mo ad 'm bod...ewyllysia mo ad 'm anghofia 'i."

"Shhh, Jareth," she murmured and his eyes opened. He looked at her in confusion for a moment, she pulled her head back but did not let go of him.

"Sarah," he said it flatly, as if trying to convince himself she was not someone else. He let go of her arm and she took that as a cue, reluctantly removing her hands. Jareth sat up slowly and put a gloved hand to his head, "Forgive me, Sarah, I..." he paused seeming at a loss.

"Are you alright?" She broke in, sitting up as well.

Was he alright? Jareth didn't know. He had been dreaming...again. He knew it was the same dream he almost always had, the dream he'd had since childhood that he could no longer remember. But he had remembered it after he awoke to hands on his face. Cool, lovingly tender hands, how his mother would wake him when he'd dreamt too deeply. He had thought he was sleeping in his mother's bed, still small, still able to remember the dreams because they were not so far from reality. But it was not her voice that had comforted him. It was Sarah, who was night to his mother's day, but their hands had felt almost the same.

He had been so surprised when he saw Sarah before him that all traces of the dreams fled his mind. He didn't even remember what he had said to her.

"Jareth, what's wrong?" She brought him back, again. He turned back to her, concern on her face, but another question bursting from her lips, "Was that...welsh?"

Ah, the scholar in her, he thought but was slightly disturbed that he had been so far gone as to slip into the Ancient Tongue. He answered the second question first, "It is the origin of welsh and the other languages of the British Isles. It is the tongue of the court of my father." She looked at him expectantly and he knew he wouldn't get away without answering the other one, " fine. I was dreaming. It's not something I do very often anymore." She looked like she didn't believe him, but he chose to pretend he didn't notice.

He climbed, in an annoyingly awkward manner, from the bed and dropped a crystal, changing his wrinkled clothes to fresh, crisp white shirt and tan breeches. "I should think it would be easier on both of us if I prepare a room for you," he said looking pointedly at the window; Sarah's moving was the last thing he wanted. But he would not push himself on her, she would come to him willingly, or not at all.

"I'm not so sure...."

Jareth turned back to her and saw the open skepticism on her face. Exasperated, he cried, "I'm fine," fully expecting an argument. But Sarah slid, irritatingly gracefully, from his bed, seemingly having decided to drop the subject.

"You got a washroom around here somewhere?" she asked, giving a quick look around the room. He looked at her squarely for a moment and she gave him an innocent smile, saying with the air of faux vanity, "I simply must complete my morning ritual."

Jareth was taken aback by the sudden change in her mood, but decided to reward her cheek with a short chuckle and pointed to a door in the corner, almost next to the window, "Through there you will find working plumbing, although undoubtedly rudimentary for you, complete with toilet, sink and bathtub."

Walking to the door she commented, "And here Nadia led me to believe you do everything for yourself with magic."

"My dear," he answered with an impish smile, "I can conjure food and clean house, but one thing I will not do with my power is take care of my own waste. You must forgive me for being a tad uppity."

She replied with a silvery laugh that made Jareth's heart beat faster. Just like a schoolboy, he thought with mild disdain and began setting out their breakfast.

Sarah returned from the not quite spotless, not quite dry bathroom, trying to get over her irritation at having to put down the toilet seat, It's still just a medieval castle, and he's still male, human or not, she thought with a wry smile. She had cheerfully decided to forgo a shower that morning, still feeling relatively clean from the day before and not quite ready to tackle how to work Jareth's ancient plumbing. The toilet and sink were self explanatory, but the shower was a whole other story.

Breakfast was a quick and quiet affair of steaming eggs and sausage set on a table that Sarah was sure had not been there before. The conversation was seriously lacking, Jareth seemed to be off in another world and she had so many questions it took her the whole time to decide which one to start with. Then she began to tackle the problem of whether she really wanted to know.

When it seemed as though they had both stopped eating, their gazes met across the table and Jareth stood, almost hastily, and held his hand out to her, "Come, we will prepare a room for you." Sarah looked at his hand then at his beautiful face and thought with an irrational inner wicked smile that she would definitely prefer to stay where she was, but shook it off and took his hand anyway.

They walked together a short ways down the corridor and Jareth pushed open the next door they came to. "Right next to you, huh?" she asked walking into the dark room.

He gave her a look like it was obvious, "Well, I don't want you halfway across the damn castle, do I?"

She smiled slightly and nodded, "I guess not. Why do you have the windows boarded up?"

"Goblins enjoy breaking glass," his answer carried contempt and a sneer she knew was not for her.

Sarah stepped further into the bare and dusty room, but turned when she saw him moving. A crystal appeared in his hand, she loved to watch him work magic. His movements were extraordinary, so natural and instinctive. The crystal dropped to the floor and the transformation began. It spread in a great circle, moving across the floor and up the walls to finish with the central light fixture hanging from the ceiling.

Sarah moved her feet in another circle on the newly polished walnut floor, turning; she took in the dark sage green walls and pale lilac fabrics on the four poster bed and French doors. The room was very similar and complimentary to Jareth's in color palate and layout. The walls and wood were a little darker, but all the furniture design was the same. A wardrobe and demure vanity was added along one of the walls, next to the bed. Sarah loved it and twirled around, arms outstretched. It had been a while since something had made her feel so carefree, so...happy.

She turned back to see him smiling hesitantly at her, leaning against the wall, "So, do you like it?" Sarah tried to ignore the hint of concern in his voice.

She couldn't stop the grin from breaking across her face, "What do you think?" She turned and almost skipped out onto the small balcony, leaning against the balustrade and waiting for him to follow her. Sarah decided that she didn't care if she was acting childish, it was exhilarating and she wanted it to last as long as it could.

When he joined her, Jareth's smile had turned slightly melancholy. He leaned with her and took her wrist in his gloved hand, brushing his thumb lightly over her thick scars, "I am so sorry, Sarah"

Her bubble of happiness popped as Sarah realized she would not be able to escape her past by pretending it did not happen. Jareth had seen through the pretense that she hadn't even known she'd adopted. Despite this, she still wanted to turn the conversation from the direction it was going, "Where did you go yesterday?"

He dropped her wrist and looked away, "I needed to find out what happened to you. I needed information. So, I went to talk to Toby."

"And he gave you the information you needed?"

Jareth answered through gritted teeth, "Yes." She thought maybe he didn't want to talk about what happened to her either.

But she couldn't stop herself from asking, "You didn't do anything to Toby, did you?"

He shot a sidelong look at her but said nothing.

"Jareth, what did you do to Toby?" She grabbed his arm.

"Nothing serious," he said, apparently just realizing how concerned she was, "I questioned him...trying to find what happened to you. I realized it when he was present and... let some things slip. He was agitated, of course. I couldn't leave him with the knowledge. It's for you to decide what he should know about all of this...I changed his memories of that night into a dream."

A thought suddenly occurred to Sarah and she hesitatingly began, "...Could you..." she could not finish the sentence and closed her eyes against his answer.

"No." It was flat and final.

She turned sharply and looked at him, "Why not?" It was for her to decide wasn't it? He said he would not take the power to decide from her.

He looked at her stricken and back up a few steps, "I...won't do it. I can't do it."

"Why?" she said, alarmed as he turned away, "What is it?"

"It would be so easy," he almost whispered.


"Oh, don't think I am not able to, Sarah." Something in him seemed to snap and he gave her a strange look, one she had never seen on his face before. It was almost predatory. "It would only be too take those memories from switch some other things around while I'm at it. I don't know if you realize, Sarah, how close you could be to that fate. It would be so much easier that way. She would not bother me about it if I broke you," Sarah visibly flinched at the word 'break', "That's probably what she expects me to do. She wants to see how far I've turned to her way of doing things. It doesn't really matter anymore...I could do it. You've already given me the power. Every time it would become easier," Before Sarah could express her rapidly increasing horror Jareth's words began to take on the same echo she had heard the previous night. Her body relaxed from a position she had not realized was uncomfortable. Without thinking, she took a step towards him, then another. Now he was whispering in her ear, the echo in his voice expanded and the room and the castle and the Underground vanished from her awareness, "I probably would not even need a crystal this time."

Sarah knew what he said was true and deep within her, she wanted it. She leaned further into him and she felt his arm slide around her waist, giving her support she didn't really need.

His voice came back, this time abrupt and heavy, "But then you would be no more than a puppet. And that is not what I want...I have seen too many of that kind."

The world jarred back into place and Sarah staggered from the weight of it and the knowledge that he had just imparted to her. His arm saved her from falling on top of him. She looked tiredly up into his masked face and it took an alarming amount of willpower to force out the words, "What do you want, Jareth?"

He seemed to suddenly become conscious of what had just happened between them and looked at her wide-eyed, not answering. Sarah realized this was the perfect time to ask. Here in his arms, clutching at him for support. If he did not answer her in the next moment, she would do it. There was nothing left to loose.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 10 of 24

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