Disclaimer: Not mine, not for profit. Jim Henson's, I believe. Some ideas in this have been borrowed from other authors I admire, and modified a bit (The idea of Jareth and Sarah engaging in a "truth" game was borrowed from Scattered Logic's lovely story "The Enticement," which I highly recommend, and several other elements were borrowed from "A Necessary Deception" by the same author). I absolutely loathe plagiarism, so if I use even the barest hint of something gleaned from another story, I cite the author.

Social Obligations

Chapter 1: Everyone Has to Grow Up Sometime

Sarah Williams walked in the door late on a Friday afternoon and threw her backpack down with a sigh. Her roommate wasn't home, and Sarah breathed a sigh of relief at the few minutes of peace and quiet she so rarely got while living with her roommate, Paris.

She put the kettle on and made a quick sandwich, wincing at the sight of the bare cupboard shelves. She opened the refrigerator to see if there was any more lunch meat, but the stark refrigerator bulb shone on yet more empty shelves. Sighing, she resigned herself to buying groceries that night, instead of driving home to see her family. Food or petrol - that was her eternal dilemma, it seemed. She could never afford both at once. She took out the last wrinkled apple, deciding it might not be so bad if she peeled it first, and sat down at the table to finish her tea and snack.

Once finished, she leaned back and stretched. As long as she wasn't going to her parents' house, she could get a head start on her project for Management class. She scooped up her backpack on her way by and brought it upstairs.

In the middle of dropping it on her desk, she stopped short at the sight of the heavy vellum on her desk. Someone, it appeared, had left her a letter. Frowning, she picked up the paper and scanned the heading. She gasped in shock and sank into her desk chair. In a flowing, calligraphic script, it read:

From His Royal Highness Jareth, King of the Goblins

To Miss Sarah Williams, Student: Greetings

His Majesty requests an audience with Miss Williams at her earliest possible convenience, for the purpose of making a small request of her.

His Majesty asks that Miss Williams merely speak his name when she is ready to hear his request and he shall appear. His Majesty assures Miss Williams that if she follows this instruction to the letter, her safety and that of those around her shall not be compromised in any way.

That was the end of the script, but at the bottom in a different hand was a short, scrawled note that said:


Do remember to use my name when you call, and not my title. Somehow I doubt you have any siblings to spare this time. --J.

Sarah took a keep breath and tried to stop her hand from shaking. She hadn't given Jareth or the Labyrinth much thought for several years. Since graduating from high school she had been so busy trying to make ends meet while she saved for college that she hadn't seen or spoken with her friends from the Underground for a very long time - and Jareth had never numbered among them! She hadn't seen him since getting Toby back.

Having a roommate complicated things too, especially one so much younger than she. Paris was fresh out of high school, a music major given to wild sex and even wilder parties. She regularly borrowed Sarah's things without permission, roamed her room and rummaged through her things, and frequently had guests over who joined her in making fun of Sarah, the "old lady" that Paris roomed with. Loud guests. Loud, overnight guests, which made it impossible for Sarah to talk to her Labyrinth friends at all.

Sarah checked her watch. Good. Paris shouldn't be back for another couple of hours, which would give Sarah time to compose herself for a royal visitation. Besides, it wouldn't do for Paris to come into contact with the Goblin King. If the king thought Sarah used to be whiny, Paris took the concept to a whole new level! And Sarah liked to think she'd grown past that by now.

Not for the first time, Sarah wondered whether rooming with Paris was her cosmic punishment for having been such a brat herself when she was younger. She gave a wry chuckle at the thought, and, rising, checked her appearance in the mirror.

Her glossy dark hair was pulled smoothly back in a single French braid down her back. With her blouse neatly tucked into her chinos and a vest over it, she looked neat and tailored, if not dazzling. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement -- and a little bit of dread -- at the thought of once again seeing the man she had bested twelve years before. She wondered what he wanted. Well, there was just one way to find out. Knowing she was wasting valuable, Paris-free time, she took a deep breath and faced her mirror.

"Jareth," she said.

And waited.

And waited.