Sarah was having a very pleasant dream. She was dressed in a snow-white wedding gown, sitting alone beneath a full moon, eating peach cobbler as she waited for her husband to arrive. Even in the dream, she was unsure of the identify of this missing husband, but somehow that wasn't important. It was the best dream she had had in a long time.
Which made it even more annoying to be abruptly awakened by an urgent hand on her shoulder.
Her eyes snapped open and for a moment she was disoriented, but then she sat blearily up.
'What's going on?' she mumbled, and after blinking a few times she recognised her arch-nemesis standing by her bed. 'Oh,' she said, too tired to be angry or indignant. 'It's you.'
'You need to come with me,' Jareth told her. 'Now.'
'What?' She squinted at the clock, and saw that it was 4:00 in the morning.
'Listen, if you think I'm going to say yes just because I'm tired then—'
'This is not about us, Sarah, this is about your safety. If you do not trust me, then I vow to bring you back as soon as it is safe; what's said is said. Now come!' He grabbed her wrist and yanked her to her feet as she struggled to pull down her nightgown. This was why girls should always wear boxers to sleep: in case grabby goblin kings came calling at the crack of dawn to oust them from their beds.
It took a few moments for his words to sink past the fog of exhaustion that was wrapped around her mind, but when they did she drew in another harsh breath of air.
'I'm in danger? Why? What's happened?'
'I will explain when we're safely Underground.' He reached for her wrist again, but Sarah snatched it away.
'I have to get dressed.'
'No time,' Jareth replied, and next thing she knew, she was Underground, braless in a lacy white nightgown. She didn't even want to think about what her hair looked like. The only good thing was that Jareth probably wouldn't notice it, considering how cold it was and how thin the fabric across her chest was.
...then again, that probably wasn't a good thing, after all.
'Jeez,' Sarah said, crossing her arms self-consciously. 'I can't handle this so early in the morning. Why am I here again?' She swayed a little, and forced her eyes back open as they attempted to slide closed. She was so tired...was she still dreaming?
'Come sit down,' Jareth answered, putting a hand on the small of her back and leading her to a cushioned chair. Sarah sank down into it, and let out a heavy sigh of comfort and relief. The cushions were warm and comfortable. She could just go right back to sleep...
'Sarah, this is important.' Jareth's voice forced its way past the haze of sleep, and she shook her head lightly and blinked drowsily.
'Yeah, I know. Very important. Of the utmost significance. What's happening?'
'There has been a threat to your life.'
'Oh yeah, that's right,' she replied, forcing herself to sit up straight. 'I'm too tired for this. You're going to have to give me coffee.'
'Coffee?' Jareth repeated with something akin to disgust. 'How crass. I would never dream of serving you coffee.'
'Hey, what's wrong with coffee?' Sarah answered indignantly, springing to the defence of her favourite beverage. 'It's hot and delicious and creamy, and it warms up your whole body. What's not to like?'
'It's coarse and crude—a drink for the lower classes. The flavour isn't unpleasant, exactly, but it's uninteresting. There are no subtleties to coffee.'
'Oh right, because you're all about subtlety,' Sarah muttered, and her eyes flicked of their own accord to his skin-tight pants. 'Okay, that's it,' she said, firmly closing her eyes and leaning back in the chair. 'I need caffeine, now.'
'I'll order us some tea,' Jareth said, and when Sarah opened her eyes a small table had appeared before her, and he was seated on the other side.
'Tea?' she said. 'Are you kidding? What part of coffee don't you understand?'
'The part that makes you want to drink it. And morality aside, I couldn't serve you coffee even if I wanted to; I don't have any. It isn't the sort of thing I keep in stock.'
'You,' Sarah told him, 'are absolutely ridiculous. If there's no coffee, give me hot chocolate.'
'If what you want is caffeine, then tea would—'
'I don't drink tea,' she informed him firmly, and he sighed, and waved a hand vaguely through the air. Sarah assumed that he was magically making the order, because after a few minutes of silence while she continued to battle sleep a goblin appeared with a silver tray bearing too mugs and a basket of scones balanced on its head.
'Okay,' Sarah said, sipping her hot chocolate and closing her eyes again, this time in ecstasy. 'So how am I in danger?'
'It seems that—'
'Sorry, can you just tell me what kind of scones these are, first?' she interrupted, and he sighed, but complied as she gulped down the hot drink.
'These are cranberry, these are blueberry and these are poppy seed. Would you like another flavour?'
'Not unless you have mocha or something,' she answered, taking a cranberry scone and lathering on some butter. 'Okay, so about the safety issue?'
'It would seem that some of my political—'
'Listen, even with the hot chocolate I'm still freezing. Can you turn up the heat, please? It's hard to pay attention when I'm so cold.'
'As you wish,' Jareth answered patiently, and when he waved his hand again Sarah felt a wave of warmth wash over her. It felt very nice, but made it harder to stay awake. 'So as I was saying,' Jareth continued, 'my—'
'Dammit,' Sarah sighed, tipping her head back to lick the last drop of hot chocolate from her mug. 'How can I already be finished?'
'I can get you some more, if you like.'
'Yes, please,' Sarah said, but then she stopped, sniffing the air. 'What's the smell?' Something was smelling absolutely delicious, but she couldn't tell what. Her eyes roved around the room for a moment before settling on the mug held daintily in Jareth's hands. 'What are you drinking?'
'Tea,' he answered with a small laugh. 'Would you like to try some?'
'No, no, I mustn't,' she replied, but couldn't help taking another deep breath. It didn't smell like any tea she had ever tried before. 'Well...maybe a little,' she muttered, and he smirked as he passed her his teacup. For a moment, Sarah was at a loss—she had expected him to order her a separate mug, and wasn't at all sure about drinking out of his. She carefully turned it around and drank from the opposite side.
Wow. If she hadn't known it was tea, she would never have believed it. It was amazing. Much better than the hot chocolate had been, and that had been pretty divine.
'Well?' Jareth said as he reaching to take back the mug, his fingers brushing hers as he did so. 'You like it, don't you?'
'Erm...so-so,' Sarah responded, and he smirked again, deliberately turning the mug to drink from the exact spot her lips had touched. She told herself that she wasn't blushing—she just felt hot because of the spell he had used to warm her up. 'Now are you going to tell me about this threat to my life, or not?' she snapped. 'Stop changing the subject; I want to know if I'm in danger.'
'Of course. I'm afraid that some of my political enemies have decided that you would be a perfect tool to use against me,' he told her grimly. 'There were kidnappers gathering outside your house this morning; that's why I had to come and spirit you away.'
'Jeez,' Sarah sighed, grabbing back the tea and taking a long swig; she was so not awake enough for this kind of thing. 'What kind of tea is this, anyway?'
'Earl grey,' Jareth answered, a little bemusedly. 'With vanilla and milk, and a little bit of brown sugar. Are you quite alright?'
'Yeah, I'm fine,' she muttered. 'What'll they do to me if they catch me?'
'Probably just hold you captive for eternity to force me to do whatever they want,' he told her nonchalantly, retrieving his tea and taking another drink. 'You would be a very good hostage, Precious.'
'Oh, brilliant,' Sarah sighed. 'Um, you would do what they said, right? You wouldn't just let them kill me?'
'Sarah,' Jareth said softly, looking her straight in the eye, 'how could you even ask that? You must know that I would do anything for you.'
Sarah didn't know what to say to that, so she avoided answering by stealing another gulp of tea.
'Anyway,' she finally said, 'if your enemies are out to get me, what am I supposed to do?'
'Nothing; just go on living your life, as usual. I just thought you'd like to know. If I was wrong, I can reorder time and—'
'No, thanks for letting me know,' Sarah interrupted. 'If my life's in danger, I'd really rather be aware of it.'
'Your life is not in danger,' Jareth told her. 'I will be watching you every second...nothing could possibly happen.'
'Every second?' Sarah repeated. 'That's just a figure of speech, right? You don't literally mean...' Jareth just smiled smugly. 'Okay, that I didn't need to know,' she muttered, clinging tightly to the tea as he reached for it; unfortunately, when she tried to take a drink she found that the mug was completely empty.
'So I suppose you want to go home now?' Jareth said, a little dejectedly.
'What?' Sarah said. 'Oh, right. Yes, yes I would.' What she really wanted was more tea, but she wasn't going to say that to him. 'As long as it's safe.'
'Yes, I sent my army to take care of the kidnappers. My real army, not the little band of pages I sent after you when you ran my Labyrinth.'
'Alrighty, then,' Sarah said, getting to her feet. 'Thanks for the hot chocolate. If anything changes, let me know.'
'You are quite welcome,' Jareth answered, standing up too and conjuring a crystal. 'This will take you home,' he added, passing it over.
'Thanks,' Sarah said, looking a little wistfully at the empty teacup. Jareth caught the glance, and tried not to smile.
'Sarah,' he said, 'would you like to come for tea tomorrow?'
'Sure,' Sarah replied, returning the smile. 'That would be nice.'
And the moral of this story is...teacoffee
School has started, and since writing fanfiction is my #1 procrastination method, you'll probably start hearing from me more often again. If only they offered "fanfiction" as an English course...
Thanks for reading!