Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 12 of 14

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What You Wish For

“Jareth,” she said, and reached out to touch his face. He was so beautiful, she thought, tracing the curve of his cheekbone with her fingers, the delicate line of his lips with the pad of her thumb. He didn’t move, didn’t blink, just watched her with that strange darkness in his eyes. She touched the cobweb softness of his hair, then trailed her fingers over the edge of his jaw and down the column of his throat. She hesitated only briefly before sliding them down further, over the hard breastbone, only stopped from exploring the muscles in his abdomen when her fingers snagged on the pendant that hung around his neck.

She lifted it. It was heavy and made of what looked to be solid gold. The top was triangular, and it curved down into two thick horns at the bottom. In the center was a tiny relief of a goblin face. She ran her thumb over it. It looked like it was sticking out its tongue.

“What is it like, being the King of the Goblins?” He laughed softly, and she felt it rumble in his chest, through her knuckles where they were brushing his skin. Fascinated, she laid the pendant gently back where it belonged, and slid his shirt open another tantalizing inch. His skin was so smooth, she marveled, dusted with fine blonde hair that curled crisply under her fingers, nearly invisible.

“It is difficult,” he said, his voice low and rough, “to put it in perspective. After all, I’ve been the Goblin King for a very, very long time.”

When he spoke, she could feel the faint vibrations through her fingertips, and feel his chest rise and fall with each breath he took. Her other hand clearly had a mind of its own, too, for it reached up to touch the smooth column of his throat, the better to feel those vibrations.

“Goblins are not the most intelligent of creatures,” he said, and the rough texture of his voice buzzed against her nerves. She stroked his throat, and he purred, lifting his chin like a cat begging for a scratch. With a smile she indulged him, playfully scoring her nails over the skin beneath his jaw. He groaned. She wondered if his “acute” sense of touch extended beyond just his hands.

“They require constant attention, and more than a little patience. I am afraid sometimes,” he purred again and closed his eyes when she found the sensitive hollow below his ear and softly ran the tip of one finger over it. “I am afraid sometimes that I don’t have quite enough patience.”

She was thoroughly enjoying this power she had over him. His hands were tight fists, his eyes closed, his head turned to give her better access. His entire body was rigid. His entire body, she confirmed, glancing down. She slid her hands into the vee of his shirt, pushing the soft fabric open and giving her better access to the smooth planes of his chest.

“They are constantly causing mischief of one sort or another. As they’re incredibly difficult to kill, it doesn’t become a problem until—grrrrrrrr...” she laughed a little at the low growl he made when she skimmed her nails over one hard nipple. His eyes slitted open and he regarded her with a look that would have melted an iceberg. “Until they start damaging things.”

She splayed her fingers wide, her thumbs touching, and ran her hands down the taut muscles of his abdomen, pausing to dip her thumbs into the indent of his navel. The sound he made then was totally inhuman, a delicious contrast to such a human part of him. Her thumbs brushed lower, stopped only by the ridge of his belt.

“Chicken,” he groaned.

“What?” Her gaze flew to his face. His head was tossed back, hair wild, eyes closed. He took a deep breath.

“Chickens, they’re everywhere. For four thousand years I’ve tried to understand why goblins feel they need to keep chickens for pets, and I still don’t understand it. Filthy, disgusting creatures.”


“Chickens. And you’re not supposed to be asking multiple questions,” he said, as her hands pushed his shirt open wider. She leaned forward and licked his breastbone with the tip of her tongue. She felt his body clench even harder. “If you want me to finish answering your question, you should stop that immediately.” He didn’t sound very convincing.

“Mmm-hmm,” she murmured, noncommittal. So it’s fair for him to distract me, she thought wickedly, but not for me to distract him? We’ll see. After all, he's the one who taught me that life wasn't fair in the first place. She kissed his chest softly, tasting him. This close the smell of him was driving her wild, but she kept a firm grip on her control. He sighed almost imperceptibly.

“It’s inherited,” he said, “my title. Someday in the far, far distant future, I suppose I will pass it on to my child.” There was an odd quality to his voice, a vague wistfulness, but she couldn’t tell without asking another question if that was for the thought of having a child, or no longer being King of the Goblins.

“Most of the time, it’s boring,” he said, the muscles in his throat going taut as she skimmed her lips over his chest, pausing to lick tentatively at his left nipple. “Until, of course, some foolish mortal wishes away a child. Then the fun begins.” She nipped the sensitive flesh, eliciting another growl. He bared his teeth and half lifted one hand, as if to sink it into her hair, but stopped himself. It was odd, she thought, how before he couldn’t keep his hands off of her, and now he was hesitating to touch her.

She wanted him to touch her. Wanted him to give her that satisfaction, to prove her power over him. Was this what he felt, too? This craving for her to give in to him?

Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I shall be your slave... The words had haunted her for years, but never had she understood them so clearly. She turned her head to listen to the sound of his heart hammering wildly in his chest. Power, she thought, went both ways. You have to give it up in order to get it back.

Like love? her heart whispered. What would it be like, she wondered, to love this creature? To be truly loved by him? Dangerous. Exciting. Challenging. Would he waver, she wondered. Would he grow bored with her as she grew older? Would he find another mortal to play his games with? Or another creature like himself? Beautiful and seductive in ways she could never be?

“It’s very lonely,” he said, as if he were reading her thoughts, his voice distant and distracted as she traced whorls and patterns over his ribs with her nails, “being the only one of my kind in my kingdom. There have never been many of us, now we are scattered so far, and the process of making more is,” she nipped at his collarbone. “Complicated,” he finished, panting slightly. “I never thought to find—,” he broke off roughly as her nails raked over his back, and he did reach for her then, but it was to grab her roughly by the upper arms and push her away.

His gaze was dark with longing, the pupils so hugely dilated that they no longer appeared mismatched. He dragged air into his lungs and held her from him, eyes narrowing in realization. Oh yes, she thought with wicked satisfaction, his sense of touch was very acute. “But I digress,” he muttered.

He pushed her away and strode off into the shadows. When he spoke again, it was from the darkness, and his voice was flat and clinical—and she knew it was only from supreme self-control.

“Every day is much like another,” he said. “Although ‘day’ is relative, since we do not measure time the same way Underground. For most of the day I preside over the Goblin court, hearing grievances, of which there are a never-ending supply. I take my meals alone. I answer correspondence from the other Kingdoms. I travel the Labyrinth, taking care of any problems, and making improvements. If someone is foolish enough to wish away a child, then I take care of that little annoyance. Afterwards, I send the wisher home, memory modified, and make sure the little creature is installed in his or her new home. I take a hot bath, try to read a book, and fall asleep more often than not sitting in the windowseat, with a goblin or two curled up on my feet, and wake up with a stiff neck and a sore back.”

“No wonder you’re so irritable,” she said, “if that’s how you’ve spent the last four thousand years.”

He laughed darkly. “That was rather clever, by the way,” he said. “You’re learning.”

“I had a good teacher,” she replied modestly.

“And what, precisely, has he taught you?”

“To be careful what I say,” she said. “So forgive me if I refuse to tell you.”

He laughed again, and stepped into the light. Deja vu, she thought. All he needed was a pair of very tight white pants, and a fluffy cape. Although, to be honest, the leather suited him so much better.

“It appears to be my turn again,” he said. She nodded. Funny, she thought, she’d almost forgotten they were still playing.

He came to stand before her again, well out of arms reach. Wary and, she thought, a little unsure. “I wish,” he said, then paused and appeared for the first time to really think about it. It occurred to her then that he’d planned all of his previous wishes. Perhaps had been planning them for a very long time. Now there was something to think about.

“I wish,” he said, finally, “you would...surprise me.”

She blinked. How? “You’ll just read my mind,” she said. “It’s not possible.”

“I can’t read your mind, Sarah,” he said, and she glanced at the crystal hanging from her belt for confirmation. Well, she thought, what do you know? But then how...?

“Your face gives you away,” he said. “For one who knows you well enough.”

“Well, how nice for you, Mr. Poker Face,” she said sarcastically. All those years of theater training should have taught her to modulate her expression better.

“Will you grant my wish?” He asked, his voice quiet.

She thought. Surprise him? What would surprise him the most? She could, she supposed, always hop on one foot and cluck like a chicken, but she’d already done that once tonight and her pride wasn’t exactly up to it.

She could tell him that she was falling for him, but she suspected he knew that.

She could strip naked and beg him to take her right there on the stage, but she suspected he wanted that.

What wouldn’t he expect? What didn’t he know?

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 12 of 14

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