Disclaimer: The Labyrinth and all related material do not belong to me. They belong to Jim Henson and George Lucas. I wish I owned Jareth.
Don't Tell Me Truth Hurts
Kate stood on the porch and waved as Conner climbed into Charlie's car. Charlie's fiancée, Melanie, helped him get buckled. Charlie stuffed the weekend bag and Joe the Dinosaur into the trunk.
As the car pulled away, Kate's breath hitched in her throat. As soon as it was out of sight, she went inside and locked the door.
Forcing back tears, she sat on the old armchair. Her cat, Guinevere, hopped on the arm, hoping for attention.
"Kate, we were wondering if we could take Conner for Spring Break."
She frowned. "You'll have him for Christmas, Charlie."
Charlie ducked his head. "I know, but… Melanie and I are going house-hunting and we wanted his opinion."
Her spine stiffened. "House-hunting?"
"Yeah… Mel got promoted. We're moving to Florida in June."
"I promise, we'll work something out with Conner. I won't forget about him."
"I need to think about it."
She closed her eyes. For nearly five years, she had been the most important woman in Charlie's- and Conner's- lives. Now Mel…
She could handle them getting married- Conner was going to be the ring-bearer- but moving?
It felt like Charlie was pushing her out.
For some reason, this hurt more than when he slept with Kayla.
This felt final.
At least Mel wasn't pregnant. That would have killed Kate. She wanted a second child, maybe a girl. Okay, she really wanted a little girl.
And she and Charlie would have to find a way for Conner to see Charlie. Every other holiday and half the summer kind of thing.
She was going to be so lonely.
She uncurled her body, sprawling out in the chair. Guinevere jumped into her lap, mewing.
"I suppose I'll have you. And I could try dating again." Kate sighed.
Dating hadn't been very successful in the past. Either they were put-off by Conner or…
Or they just didn't measure up.
Her cell phone jolted her out of her wallowing.
"Kate, you know it's me."
"I know it's Conner's weekend with Charlie, so I was wondering if you could stop by the agency tomorrow, so we could discuss your book?"
Kate glanced at her laptop, currently in stand-by mode. If she woke it up, the screen would show her barely started story.
And her deadline was in three weeks.
"Yeah, Diane, that works for me."
"Great! How about two-thirty?"
"And come prepared. Jay wants to talk to you too."
"Jay King, the owner."
In five years of representation, Kate had never met Mr. King. Her palms started to sweat. "Oh, um… well, all right."
"Don't worry. If this one is like you others, you'll be fine."
The problem was this one wasn't like the others. She was having trouble writing this one, getting bogged down with everything.
"Ye-ah. See you tomorrow, Diane."
She shut the cell phone and pushed herself out of the chair. Sitting at her desk chair, she fired up the laptop and stared at the forty pages she had written, and then reviewed her notes and charts.
She was so screwed.
Jareth turned a crystal in the air, making it split. The two crystals settled into either hand, one watching the current runner- a thirteen-year-old who wished away his five-year-old sister- and the other on Kate, frantically typing, only to delete half of what she typed and start again.
He could already tell the boy wasn't going to make it. He was mired down in a bog- not the Bog of Eternal Stench- and wasn't trying very hard to get out.
Kate… Kate was the last runner in five and a half years to take the Labyrinth seriously. She had run it and taken the memories. And the lessons back with her. Her debt… well, she had been paying it back.
Jareth frowned at the crystal, at Kate typing and deleting. It was like her dreams were drying up. She while he and the Labyrinth needed dreams to survive, they would not suck the well dry.
No, it was the outside world that was getting to Kate.
He waved a hand over the crystal. "Sleep."
Quickly, he checked the runner. Still mired in the bog. And the time. Four hours.
Plenty of time to check on Kate.