Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 3 of 14

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What You Wish For

Shock poured through her, ice in her veins, as she studied him. The differences were minute, but they were just enough to rearrange her perceptions of the world a little more. His hair was shorter, she’d already seen that, but the puckish cut suited him and made her fingers itch to push the fine hair off his forehead. His eyes were a colder blue than Chet’s, the one abnormally dilated pupil making the left eye a shade darker than the right. The brows were still upswept, but not nearly as steeply as she remembered, and the glam rock makeup was gone. His lips were thinner than Chet’s, but more sensual, and his teeth white and sharp. His clothes were very human, from the black coat she’d noted earlier, to the gray silk shirt that was unbuttoned to show off the pale column of his throat. His pants were utterly normal, if expensive, slacks. His shoes were lost in the shadows under the table, but she had the feeling they’d probably been made by Gucci not goblins.

His hands were gloved.

He said nothing, just sat there, watching her with calculating eyes and sipping occasionally from a glass of wine. She was suddenly aware of every inch of skin her dress revealed, even though it was fairly modest compared to what Caitlyn and Jen were wearing. She could feel the breeze stirring the tiny hairs on the back of her neck, where her long dark hair was swept up. Strangely, she’d expected to feel like a child again, facing him. Instead, she was excruciatingly aware of the fact that she was a woman now, and her reaction to his presence was ten times stronger.

Now that she was old enough to recognize the aura around him as predatory, and that the scent coming off of him was laden with the promise of sex.

“You’ve changed,” she said, feeling the need to break the silence. She’d heard of having a “fight or flight” reaction before, but never a “fuck or flight” reaction. Her body was screaming at her to throw herself at him and tear the buttons on his shirt off with her teeth, while her mind was begging her to run now, while she had a chance.

“Not really,” he said. His eyes were measuring. What, she wasn’t sure. “It’s not in our nature to change very much, or often. It happens much more slowly than you’d think.” He leaned forward and smiled a little when she stiffened in her chair, but he only put his glass down on the table and leaned back again. His eyes ran over her. “You, on the other hand, have changed a great deal.”

Her hormones were “amen”-ing like a gospel choir.

“But, your hair, and your...” She blushed.

“Pants?” He quirked an eyebrow. “We can discuss those later. As for the hair, the 80’s metal band look was all you, love.” Confused she let her gaze lock with his.

“Excuse me?”

“Come, come, Sarah.” (Yes! yes! her hormones cried.) “Weren’t you listening, there at the end? ‘Everything, I’ve done, I’ve done for you.’ ‘You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, and I was frightening.” His eyes were intense. “I knew what you dreamed of, and I made myself and my Labyrinth fit your dreams.”

“Why?” she asked. Oh, this hurt.

“Because, I play to win. It’s what I do. My job, if you will.” She knew that. Had known that, but still, it bothered her to hear it.

“But, you didn’t win,” she said.

His eyes glittered strangely, and a slight smile played around his lips. “Oh? Didn’t I?”

“Sarah! You didn’t get any ca...,” Jen’s voice trailed off as she realized her chair was occupied. “Oh, I didn’t see you. I’m sorry.”

He waved a gloved hand, regally, and smiled, “That seems to be a recurring problem this evening. Perhaps I should have worn something less inconspicuous.” Sarah watched nervously as her friend instinctively responded to the promise in that smile and swayed forward a little, leaning down to expose a bit more cleavage.

“Mmmm,” she said, glancing briefly at Sarah. “Accent,” she said pointedly, then grinned a bit foolishly at the man who had stolen her chair. He smiled back. It wasn’t a very nice smile.

Her hormones fled for the hills as memory came screaming back. The Goblin King blocking the way to her baby brother. The snake he’d thrown at her. The dangerous flash of his eyes in the tunnels, before he’d rearranged the clock. The Cleaners. The sardonic stare he’d given her during the masked ball. The dark and sinister man who had taunted her in the Escher room.

The other day, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. Oh, how I wish he’d go away... her brain chanted.

Fairies bite, she reminded herself. Take nothing for granted.

But he only steals children, a small part of her whispered.

How do you know that? She reminded herself. Because a book told you? Don’t be foolish, be careful.

Chet chose that moment to reappear.

“Hey,” he said, friendly enough. Then he smiled at Jen who was eyeing the lap of the dark man before her speculatively. “Don’t worry,” Chet said, his hand a little possessive on Jen’s arm, all of a sudden. “You can share my seat.” Sarah thought her friend looked like she was in heaven as Chet pulled her down onto his lap. For her part, Sarah was too busy studying the two men before her, trying to put her finger on what it was that made one more attractive than the other.

Danger, she decided.

Chet had a face Michelangelo would have been itching to carve. The man on her left (some part of her mind still refused to acknowledge that he was who he was), was all planes and angles and delicately sculpted bones, with a very slight sinister quality. The sort of face it would be hard to capture in any medium. An ageless face, she thought, as she realized he hadn't aged a day. Both men had blue eyes, but while Chet’s were wide and guileless, with a healthy amount of honest lust in them when he snuggled Jen down on his lap, the other pair were mismatched and inscrutable, icy calm with a cold kind of calculation lurking just behind them.

He turned that disconcerting gaze away from her to regard the hand Chet had stretched across the table.

“Sorry about earlier, man,” Chet said. “Name’s Chet. You a friend of Sarah’s?”

“An old acquaintance,” he said, cocking his head a little to the side and still watching Chet’s outstretched hand curiously. Like a cat, Sarah thought. Clearly Chet took no offense, as he shrugged and withdrew his hand, using it instead to settle Jen a little more firmly across his thighs.

“You don’t have a mask or a costume,” Jen said. He was quiet for a long moment, then the corners of his lips quirked up.

“Sarah asked that I not wear one.”

For a moment, she literally felt her heart stop beating. Oh, no, she thought. He’d heard her.

Chet laughed. “So what are you pretending to be, then?”

Jareth smiled, his teeth glittering. “Human.”

Jen and Chet laughed at that, but Sarah felt herself go very still. Who was this man? What was he?

The only thing she knew for certain was that he was dangerous. That he was here at all meant that he wanted something from her, posed a threat to her, perhaps even more now than he had before. And here he was, sitting at a table with one of her closest friends and a man who probably wouldn’t know danger if it bit him in the ass.

At least, she thought, Toby was safe at home, a whole time zone away.

Then remembered that, if her memory wasn’t playing tricks on her, distance meant nothing to the Goblin King.

She had to know what kind of threat he was. She needed to know why he was here, and what he wanted. She needed answers. And she needed to keep him far, far away from Jen, who was trying to wriggle in Chet’s lap at the same time as she was leaning over a little to entice the dark and sinister man across from her.

She stood up, abruptly.

“Sarah, are you alright?” Jen asked.

“Fine,” she said, as lightly as she could, while meeting Jareth’s cold stare with one of her own. “I just need to get up and walk a bit. Would you keep me company?” She asked him, hoping he wouldn’t refuse.

Terrified that he wouldn’t refuse.

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 3 of 14

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