Disclaimer: I own nothing, I merely play.
A story in eleven parts.
The first time it happened, there were no theatrics.
She was simply there one minute and somewhere else the next. No thunder, or lightning, or dramatic musical swells. She would have at least expected there to be glitter.
On the contrary, Sarah Williams hadn't been expecting much of anything. It was half past three on a lazy Friday afternoon in the middle of May. School was finished for the week and the house was gloriously empty; parents still at work, Toby still at daycare. Sarah's backpack lay forgotten by the front door, and she wasn't anticipating any visitors, or telephone calls, or life altering events; only a ham sandwich, and perhaps a cold glass of milk to wash it down.
So naturally, Sarah took a step towards the kitchen table, and into the Goblin King's throne room.
The atmosphere was loud and chaotic, and so very different from the quiet house Sarah had just left behind. She was momentarily stunned by sensory overload. Small goblins pranced about underfoot chattering loudly and a haze of black feathers seemed to cover everything, but Sarah had eyes only for the Goblin King, who was reclining in the middle of all the mess on the most peculiar throne she had ever seen.
She might have been tempted to self-righteously demand to know what he had done, but Jareth was staring back at her with such slack-jawed surprise that Sarah was immediately certain that he was as shocked as she was by her sudden arrival.
"Sarah?" Jareth swung his legs around and stood in one fluid motion, finding his voice at last.
Sarah smiled in spite of herself as two of the goblins catapulted a third through the air and into Jareth's vacated seat. She could feel the hum of magic on the air, and it was a feeling she hadn't realized she'd been missing in the scant weeks since she'd run the Labyrinth.
"Hello, Goblin King," she greeted politely, because there was really no call to be rude with all of that baby snatching business behind them.
The king's eyes narrowed suspiciously, and he took several long-legged steps forward. "What did you do?" he demanded sharply, stopping just in front of her.
"Nothing!" Sarah denied vehemently, fighting the urge to take a step back. "I was just making a sandwich, and then zap! Here I am! Well, there was no zap," she amended quickly. "I was there and then I was here. I didn't do anything, I swear. I didn't even make a wish."
Jareth stared down at her for a moment longer before rounding on the goblins. "What do you slimy lot know of this?"
"I don't think it was the goblins," Sarah said helpfully. "Last time I heard them running all over the place."
"Not us," several goblins agreed in unison.
"Only take baby goblins," a surprisingly deep-voiced goblin offered.
"Not baby goblins," his companion corrected, stomping on his foot. "Babies to become goblins!"
"That's what I said!"
"No it isn't!"
"QUIET!" Jareth interrupted. "You deny any involvement in bringing the girl here?"
"Not Lady Sarah! She'm already a goblin," a small goblin with purple horns informed him.
"I am no such thing!" said Sarah indignantly, a little thrown by the formal address.
"Yes yous is," a smaller, muddy-colored goblin argued, popping up over her shoulder. "She says."
"She?" Sarah repeated..
Jareth's expression turned to one of dawning comprehension. He picked the creature up by the collar of its ratty tunic. "The Labyrinth spoke to you?" Jareth demanded, giving the goblin a hard shake. "What did it say? Tell me!"
"Lady is coming back," the goblin babbled. "Lady is coming home! She's Goblin now."
"But I'm not!" Sarah protested. "I'm a human being!"
"Yous belong here so yous must be a goblin," the tiny goblin reasoned, and then bit Jareth's hand. Jareth dropped him in disgust.
"But I don't belong here," said Sarah. "I belong Above." She looked to Jareth for confirmation and was surprised to find that he was staring blankly at the opposite wall. "Goblin King?" No response. Tentatively, she tried his name. "Jareth?"
Jareth blinked and the spell was broken. He looked at her sideways, wearing an expression she couldn't identify.
"Are you all right?" Sarah asked uncertainly.
"I apologize," Jareth said, his voice matching his strange expression. "It seems the Labyrinth took it upon itself to summon you here. I cannot seem to coerce it into telling me why."
"The Labyrinth?" Sarah repeated, surprised. "It's alive?"
"In a kind of way," Jareth agreed, frustration briefly giving way to amusement. "It has a mind of its own, and power, too, but its means to act upon its thoughts and desires are limited."
"Can you send me back?" Sarah asked with mild concern. She wasn't planning on passing up this second chance to explore the Underground, but she had babysitting duties that evening and a four page paper to write by Monday.
Jareth stared down his nose at her. "I am the Goblin King," he said haughtily. "I can do whatever I please."
"Oh, well. That's good then," Sarah said with some relief. She fidgeted in place as a silence fell over the throne room, uncomfortably aware of Jareth's focused stare, and their audience of intently watching goblins. She scuffed at the floor with the toe of her sneaker, waiting for someone to say something.
Jareth caved first. "Well?" he said, raising an eyebrow and drawing the syllable out imperiously. Sarah had the feeling he was waiting for her to demand to be returned home immediately, but Sarah wasn't eager to get back to the empty house Above, but she couldn't think of a good reason to convince him to let her stay.
On a whim, she held out the plate she'd been clutching the entire time. "Sandwich?"
Some of the affected drama fell away from Jareth's manner and he looked at her with genuine surprise for the second time that day. Sarah took a moment to inwardly congratulate herself.
"What kind?" he asked curiously.