Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 4 of 14

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What You Wish For

He made her wait for an eternal moment, before he slid from his chair like a shadow. The candlelight turned his pale hair to gold, and caught the glitter of his sharp teeth. He came around the table and offered her his arm.

“Have fun,” Chet said, and Jen giggled like a schoolgirl. Sarah swallowed her disgust. They were going to have to have a LONG talk about how much alcohol was good for Jen, later. If there was a later, she thought, as she slid her hand into the crook of Jareth’s arm and allowed him to lead her through the crowded patio and out through the gate into the little garden area. There were a few people milling around the fountain in the middle of the courtyard, and some who were clearly enjoying the privacy of the shadows, but Jareth led her past them, and out onto a white gravel path that wound around the building, back toward the deserted golf course.

She couldn’t even begin to start cataloging the reasons why this was a bad idea. Even had he been a normal man, there was safety in numbers and she was letting him take her away from the light, away from help if she needed it.

They walked in silence, her heels crunching unsteadily in the gravel--making her a little grateful for the warm steel of his arm steadying her. She’d chosen the simplest costume she could: a pretty sapphire ball gown with a squared neckline and tiny gauzy sleeves, and a rhinestone headband that looked a little like a tiara. Cinderella, she’d told Caitlyn, when she’d asked who she was supposed to be. And now she was running away from the ball, and she wished she could lose her shoes because she could run faster barefoot than in the delicate heels if for some reason she needed to bolt. Unfortunately, this Cinderella had chosen heels with straps around the ankles.

“You’re thinking too hard,” Jareth said, his breath fanning over her throat. She froze. She hadn’t even noticed that they’d stopped and he’d stepped behind her. They stood on the short green grass of the course, looking over a pond that probably served as an excellent water hazard. The wind stirred the leaves in the trees and the moonlight had gilded everything with silver and gold. She shivered.

“Afraid, Sarah?” He said mockingly.

“No,” she lied, turning and smiling up into his face. “Curious.”

“Oh?” He said, and stepped back, sliding his gloved hands into the pockets of his pants, and looking ridiculously handsome. His winged eyebrows arched a little.

“Why are you here?” She asked.

“Why do you think?” He said.

“I wished you here,” she said. He smiled coldly.

“Honestly, Sarah,” he said. “I have had about enough of granting your wishes. You’re very ungrateful.”


“I’m here, not because you wished it, but because I did,” he said. Sarah fought the urge to sit down right there in the grass. Her knees felt funny.

“But I thought—”

His smile mocked her as he turned away, looking out over the water. “You always did assume too much.” She had no response for that. It was true, and the truth bit deep.

“Do you think,” he said mildly, “that it’s easy answering wishes?”

“I never really thought...,” she started, but he whirled then and his eyes were terribly inhuman looking in the moonlight. They were old, older than she could imagine, and she knew then that he hadn’t been lying when he’d told them he was only pretending to be human. Whatever this man was, standing in front of her, he wasn’t human. He was wearing a human face and a human body, but whatever was underneath that facade was ancient and terrible and powerfully dangerous.

“You don’t think,” he said, a low growl in his voice. “Wishes always come with a cost, Sarah. To both the wisher and the one who grants it. And I’m here to collect on your debt.”

“My debt?” Her mind was reeling in confusion. Whatever she had expected, it wasn’t this.

Your debt,” he said. “But seeing as I’m a generous man, we’ll level the playing field a little. You wanted answers. I’m prepared to give them. But...” and he paused while her mind tried to grasp what he was offering, “for every true and honest answer I give, you must grant me a wish.”

“Me?” She said, a little shocked. “But I have no magic.”

“Don’t you?” He said, then smiled. “I promise, I won’t wish for anything you cannot grant.”

He was playing with her, she thought. Teasing her like a cat with a mouse. He was offering her a chance to understand something she’d never be able to understand otherwise. A chance to lay all those uneasy questions to rest. A chance to understand him, and maybe for her to move on. It was very tempting, if for no other reason than to understand the man before her, which she discovered, to her surprise, she really wanted to do. But what price would he exact?

“However,” he said, “whether you want to play our game or not, you still owe me my debt. There’s the little matter of a stolen child and a spoiled girl who wasted my time wishing away something she had no intention of giving up in the first place. You owe me one for that, at least.”

“I won him back!” She cried, suddenly furious.

“And in the process I wasted precious time and energy doing exactly what you asked me to do! For what? For you to throw it back in my face like the ungrateful little brat you were. Not only that, you destroyed a thousand year old bridge—“

“It was falling apart anyway!” She could feel herself bristling, angry as she’d once been with her stepmother.

“And a VERY expensive gate guardian. Not to mention the cost of repairing the damn city after you nearly destroyed it.”

“If your goblins were better soldiers it wouldn’t have been destroyed. Your army is a joke.”

“My army isn’t an army,” he sneered. “Honestly. The last thing in the world goblins are good at is fighting en masse, but you wanted a battle, so I gave you a battle. That was part of YOUR little dream, not my reality.”

She turned away and started walking blindly. Her whole body was shaking with indignation. She’d wanted a battle? She’d never wished for that. Never once said, ‘Gee Mr. Goblin King, come take my baby brother away and make me fight off a whole hoard of goblins to get him back.’ Never asked him to destroy his city. Never wanted a trip through the Bog, or to risk life and limb with the Fireys.

Didn’t you? a tiny voice whispered in the back of her mind. Didn’t you lay awake at night, imagining being the heroine of such a story? Practicing for hours in front of your mirror those final lines that would mark you as a hero, as the savior of a small helpless life? Didn’t you imagine a handsome and wicked Goblin King who would attempt to seduce you, but who you would ultimately triumph over in the end?

Had he granted the wish she hadn’t spoken?

And if he had... why?

She would never know if she didn’t ask. And he wouldn’t answer unless she granted his wishes.

It was another game, and she knew who would come out as the victor this time. He would have it no other way. She’d beaten him once, probably dented his enormous ego, and this was his revenge.

“I don’t want revenge, Sarah,” he said, stepping from the shadows under a tree several yards ahead of her (damn the man could move fast). “Quid pro quo.”

He approached until he was standing in front of her. His face was devoid of any emotion now, as cold and immobile as one of the ice sculptures Caitlyn had ordered for the buffet. She could read nothing in his mismatched eyes.

“One wish per answer,” she said. He nodded. “And if you don’t answer?”

“I will.”

“And if I can’t grant one of your wishes?”

“You can.”

“If I won’t?”

“Ah,” a hint of amusement tinged his voice and tilted the corners of his lips. “You do have that choice. But then our bargain is voided, and I can retrieve that which you took from me. And there will be nothing you can do to stop me.”

That which she had taken from him. There was only one thing she could think of that would qualify, and her heart froze within her at the thought. Toby.

Piece of mind, at a price. All she had to do was grant him a wish or two. He had promised it would be something she was capable of granting, so she assumed he wouldn’t be wishing for piles of gold, or magic mirrors.

What if he wished she would give him back Toby?

“You needn’t worry about Toby,” he said then. “Our bargain is between you and I, and will involve no others, either directly or indirectly. Just you and I, Sarah.”

“Stop reading my thoughts,” she said, feeling relieved and violated at the same time. There was something rather indecent about that statement.

He only smiled knowingly. “I merely wanted to put your mind at ease.”

“Well, you didn’t.” She said.

“Then will you refuse this opportunity?” He asked, as if it was of no importance to him. “Either way, I’ll still collect my debt.”

“Wait. Stop, let me think a minute,” she said, putting up a hand and finding, to her surprise that it laid itself flat against his chest (which was, her hand reported back, rather solidly masculine and very warm, even through his clothing). For a moment, he looked surprised, too. Then he stepped back, tilted his head a little to one side, and merely watched her through inscrutable eyes.

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 4 of 14

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