A/N: Hi folks! This is a sequel to Softly As I Leave You, which was supposed to be a one shotter. But of course, me being me, I couldn't leave it alone. If you haven't read the above, I strongly suggest you do. I hope you enjoy this story, and please, as always, read and review.
Disclaimer: I don't own Jareth or Sarah or the Labyrinth.
Dripping with sweat, his armor caked in blood and gore, Jareth dropped his sword and fell to his knees, unable to stand any longer. When had he last slept? When had he last bathed? When had he last eaten a bite or drank anything more than the swill his goblin stewards had managed to bring to him as he fought?
Suddenly unable to breath, Jareth desperately fought with the clasps that held his breast piece in place. It should not have been so difficult, but his fingers were numb and swollen and his brain addled. His helmet had long since been shattered by a lucky blow, and his hair stuck to his face in thick clots of blood and sweat. A deep gash glared angrily from his right cheek. He knew he should have it seen to before it scarred, but he just didn't have the energy to find the healer.
Finally working off the breast plate, Jareth heaved a long shuddering breath, and then gagged as the smell of death filled his nostrils. Finally giving up all pretense of having an ounce of strength left, he collapsed to the ground, his eyes closed, listening to the screams of the dying all around him. How many on this field had been slain by his own sword? How much blood was on his hands? Too much, he knew, but it was a small matter now.
The war had been long and bloody, but now it was over. Both sides had risen at dawn this morning and donned their armor, knowing that this would be the last battle. The world as all had known it was no more. The High Council of Elders was gone, the power of the Fae ruling class had come to an end, and as the dust settled there was only one man left with enough strength to rebuild the underground.
If he could find the strength to stand up again.
How had this all started? He couldn't really remember. No one could. Thirteen years may as well have been thirteen hundred. His family and the rest of the Fae Council had always had its differences. The rulers of the Labyrinth were considered black sheep of Fae society, somehow less civilized than the rest. As a result, communications between the two parties had always been kept at a minimum, reserved for matters of state and special occasions.
This arrangement had always suited Jareth just fine, as it had every Goblin King before him. His disdain for the Fae Court was legendary, and matched only by his disgust of their small minded bigotry. It would not have been tolerated except that he served a purpose. Without the Goblin King, who would carry out his duties? It was widely known that no other position within the Fae hierarchy demanded as much direct contact with humans as did that of the King of the Goblins, Granter of Wishes, Keeper of Dreams. It was a duty that any civilized Fae would find unbearable. In other words, it was a job fit only for the Baaleron Dynasty, and Jareth Baaleron took his duties very seriously. Therefore, his impudence, and that of his forebears, had been tolerated by the Fae Council.
Until, of course, that scheming woman had come along. Her name was Allyndriel, and she was the consort to the High King. Her only love was power, and her only joy was the acquisition of it. "The Labyrinth," she had whispered into the High King's ear. "The Labyrinth holds more power than all other Fae kingdoms combined. How can we leave it in the hands of that barbarian? It's only a matter of time before he uses it against you, my love."
"But Jareth is strong and defiant." The High King had answered uneasily. Even he realized that this woman had a power over him that was inexplicable. "He will not hand over the Labyrinth simply because I demand it of him. There would be a war."
"So let it come." Allyndriel purred, "Jareth is weaker than you think. It has not been so long ago that he allowed a mortal girl, a mere child, to defeat him. Attack him now, my lord. His walls will crumble and the Labyrinth will be yours. Your power will be unmatched by any of the Kings who came before."
Her words had been seductive, alluring. He had believed her, truly believed that he could easily defeat the Goblin King. In her arrogant stupidity she had believed as well. But things had not gone as they had planned.
Jareth had more allies than even he had suspected. The armies of the Troll kingdom had swiftly come to his aid. Soon after Saren, the Queen of the Elves, had arrived to fight at his side. Even the Labyrinth had fought for its master, its only friend. Together with the Goblin army they had defended the Goblin Kingdom and pushed back the invaders.
Wave after wave of Fae Elite had marched on the Goblin City, only to find their death in the shadow of the Labyrinth's walls. Still, they kept coming. Fueled by Allyndriel's wicked words, the High King's plans to wrest the Labyrinth from Jareth's grasp had become an obsession, and the obsession had turned to madness. Despite years of defeat, he had not given up. He sent his armies in and watched as every Fae King and Lord in the underground was slain by his folly. He pressed on until today he himself had fallen in the field of battle, cut down by Jareth's own sword. It was the killing blow that had ended the war.
It was all over now. Jareth had not only successfully defended his own kingdom, but had won the right to claim the throne of the High King of the Underground. Even now he could hear the cheers rising up from the gates of the Labyrinth as those loyal to him celebrated their victory. It was a new dawn in the Underground. Things would never be the same again, and most still standing would welcome the change.
But the price had not been cheap. The Fae as a race had suffered a terrible blow. And Jareth's personal losses had also been numerous. Countless friends, advisors, and allies had fallen over the years. Too many to count, their names and faces a dizzying blur of sorrow. Even his only brother, his most trusted confidant, had been taken from him during the fifth year of the war.
There was no joy in the Goblin King's heart, no shouts of celebration on his lips. It was a hollow victory, and one he could only savor bitterly. Wearily, Jareth pulled himself up from the ground. He took one last moment to survey the destruction around him, a single tear shining on his cheek for those who had died that day on both sides. Feeling old for the first time in his many long years, he turned back towards his castle. There was a great deal of work to be done if his world was to be rebuilt.
Sarah cringed as the blaring music started again from the upstairs bedroom. Her fists clenched at her side, she stormed up the staircase and stopped short at the black papered door and the sign that warned Angry Teenagers Only, Parents Keep Out. She growled, not so much upset at the sign, but over the way the s in Parents had been crossed out, and a skull and crossbones drawn over the now singular word. It seemed her son delighted in torturing her.
"Ryan!" she shouted, banging on the closed door, "Ryan Jareth Williams you get out here this instant!" The door was flung open almost instantly, and her sixteen year old pain in the ass glared at her from the other side.
"What?" he demanded, his ice blue eyes staring at her coldly, his face haughty and arrogant. For just a moment the world stopped, and she was struck once again by how much he looked like his father. Though they had never met they had so many of the same features, same mannerisms, even to some extent the same tastes. Ryan's current outfit consisted of tight black jeans, a black tee shirt covered in holes and, oddly, safety pins, black combat boots, and black leather gloves with the fingers cut out. Sarah knew that if her son had been going out he would first put on his flowing black overcoat.
Nothing he wore was anything his father would ever have been caught dead in, to be sure, but eerily similar even so. Then there was the hair. Long and blond and spiked in some places, with streaks of blue and red and purple. It was almost as though he had found a picture of Jareth somewhere and had tried his best to copy it. He face was fair and perfect, his features angular and aristocratic. Even his voice was rich and resonating and oh so like his fathers on the few occasions he chose to speak to her civilly. This was obviously not one of those times.
"Are you planning to stare at me all day or was there something you wanted?" he asked.
Sarah shook herself out of her thoughts and back into the situation at hand. "I thought I told you to turn that music off and do your homework." She said.
"And I thought I told you I can't do my homework without my music on." Ryan replied.
She pushed past him into the room and shut off the stereo. Turning back to her son she leveled her best motherly glare at him. "Leave it off and get your homework done." She growled.
"Or what, mother," Ryan said cruelly, "You'll tell Daddy on me?" The words stung as though she had been hit, and she struggled to keep the tears from spilling in front of him. She didn't want him to know how much he had hurt her. She didn't want him to know he had that much power over her. Quickly she stumbled out of the room and down the hall, collapsing onto her own bed. She missed the look of regret on her son's face.
"You shouldn't say such things, Ryan." a soft voice came from the doorway. His twin sister, Jasmine, strode gracefully into the room. "She doesn't deserve to be treated that way."
"I didn't mean to say it." He answered softly. "It just came out."
Jasmine sat on his bed and crossed her legs, twirling her long dark hair with her fingers. She looked up at him with sad mismatched eyes. "What's said is said, little brother." She said.
"Don't call me that, you're only eight minutes older." He sulked. "And anyway, I can't help it. She brings out the worst in me. I can't help it if she hates me."
"She doesn't hate you, Ryan, you know that." Jasmine replied.
"Jaz, you've seen the way she looks at me. Like I'm some new fungus she's just discovered."
"That's not it, Ryan. I think you remind her of…him." Jasmine said quietly.
"What makes you say that?" Ryan said, lounging on the bed and tapping his boot idly with a drumstick.
"Well you obviously don't look a thing like her, now do you?" Jasmine said, smiling.
"Do you think she loved our father?" he asked.
"I think she loved him very much. I think that's why it hurts her so bad when you say things like that to her." Jasmine answered.
Ryan's face was momentarily filled with regret once more. He quickly replaced it with a look of haughty indifference. "I bet she ran him off." He mused.
"That's a horrible thing to say." Jasmine chided gently. She loved her brother dearly, but sometimes she wanted to smack him over the head with a brick. As if sensing that his life was in peril, Ryan jumped from the bed and threw his coat on. "Where are you going?"
"Band practice." He said over his shoulder as he strode out the door and down the stairs.
Jasmine sighed and got up to go find her mother. She was getting a little tired of running interference between the two of them. Sometimes she felt like she was the only adult in the house. She stopped outside her mother's door and heard her softly sobbing inside. Gently she pushed the door open, finding her mother sitting on the bed, a worn out, tearstained piece of paper clutched in her trembling hands.
"Jareth," her mother was saying. "Oh god, I wish you were here." Her mother's tear streaked face was raised toward the ceiling, as though she were calling to some far away place. "Why won't you come when I call you?" her mother sobbed, "I need you, your children need you."
Jasmine closed the door and walked away, unable to bear the sight of her mother when she was like this. Jasmine had never held the bitterness about her father that Ryan did, but she was very curious. Her mother had told them precious little about the man that gave them life, only that he had been forced to leave by his family, and that he didn't know they existed, and she didn't know how to contact him. She had never even told them his last name, only his first.
Jareth…it seemed like such a strong, protective sort of name, almost regal. She would never have told her mother or even Ryan, but she often fantasized about finding their father, about the day he would learn he had children. She would hug him and kiss him and tell him how happy she was to have finally found him. Then she would slap him for causing her mother so much pain. Then she would hug him again. It would happen someday, she knew it would. She entered her room and closed the door softly behind her, picking up the fantasy book she had been reading and sprawling across the bed, instantly engrossed in the story once again.
Jareth had organized a party to bury the dead. The sun was going down and it would be dark soon, but still the men continued the task of digging graves for the thousands who had fallen in battle over the last few days. Jareth thought perhaps the entire Labyrinth was surrounded by graves by now.
Suddenly he felt a tugging at the back of his mind, a call that begged to be answered. It was Sarah, he knew immediately. He had grown used to the way it felt when she called to him; he could even tell what sort of mood she was in when she did it. Right now she was in pain. Not physical pain, but the emotional hurt that stung him to the core.
She had called many times since the night he had left her so long ago, and each time he had struggled with himself not to go to her. Each time he had won, refusing to even summon a crystal to check on her. He truly believed that it would only make things worse. He had hoped that she would just forget him and move on with her life, but obviously she had not. Her calls had become less frequent over the years, but apparently she had never forgotten him.
He had entertained the though of blocking her voice from his mind. In the end, though, he had decided it wouldn't be fair to her. She deserved to be heard, even if he couldn't answer her. He owed her that much. It was his punishment for causing her so much pain, and he accepted it gracefully.
His mind liked to run away with thoughts of her, thoughts of how nice it would be to see her again, how wonderful it would be to hold her in his arms. Perhaps now that the war was over it would one day be possible, but not likely. Too much time had passed, their time was over. With great effort he pushed her out of his thoughts and continued his grim task.