Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 5 of 14

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What You Wish For

Either way he was collecting his debt. If she didn’t play, she’d never know. And who knew what he’d wish for to repay that debt? If she played, she might lose her dignity (or your virtue, her hormones purred in anticipation), but she’d get her answers, at least. If she didn’t, she’d lose whatever he asked for, plus her chance to know, and her pride.

He promised it didn’t involve Toby, she told herself... unless I refuse to grant one of his wishes, of course. And you won’t back down, no matter what. That’s one prize he’ll never win. But be careful, Sarah. Look for loopholes. He’s older than you, and more powerful than you, and he probably knows every dirty trick in the book. Like poisoning peaches, for instance.

“How will I know if you’re telling me the truth? You could be lying.”

He managed to look offended. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“That’s not quite good enough, for me,” she said. “What I need is a lie detector...,” she muttered.

“Fine,” he said, shrugging a little. He slid one hand from his pocket, and a crystal rolled from nowhere, down his arm, over the back of his hand and around to his palm. He tossed it at her, and she instinctively threw up a hand to catch it, before remembering that none of his other crystals had held anything nice for her. She barely felt it’s cool, heavy weight in her palm before she dropped it like a hot rock.

It bounced on the grass once, twice, and then paused, hovering six inches from the ground, as fragile looking as a bubble. Jareth laughed. “It won’t bite.”

“I’d rather not take any chances, if you don’t mind.” She nudged it with the toe of her shoe. It merely bobbed a little in mid air. “What is it?”

“A lie detector,” he said. He slid one expensive shoe (yep, definitely not goblin made) under it, like a teenager with a hacky sack, and she watched it roll up his leg to his knee, where he expertly bounced it up and caught it in one hand. He reached out the other hand, took her gently by the wrist, turned her hand over and placed the crystal in her palm. “If one of us lies, it will glow red. Watch,” he removed his gloved hand from the crystal.

“It is night here.” The crystal remained clear.

“Sarah is a woman.” No change.

“I’m human.” Immediately, the crystal lit up in a bright red glow. Jareth smiled sharply.

“I’m the King of the Goblins.” As suddenly as it had lit, the light went out.

“I like your dress.” This time it glowed red again, but only half as brilliantly, and it wavered a little, as if unsure.

“What does that mean?” she said.

“A half truth. It senses that I’m only partially lying. Now if I said ‘I love your dress,’ ah... there, you see?” How could she not with the damn thing lit up like a stoplight?

“Actually, I hate your dress.” It dimmed again, but not entirely. He frowned at it. “I almost like your dress.” Still, it remained a dull, slightly wavering red. He gritted his teeth and growled at it. “I would like your dress much better if it were lying on my bedroom floor, and that’s a true and honest answer.” The red light went out. If a crystal could look smug, this one would have done so.

He sighed. “The things I do for you. Are you satisfied?”

“Not entirely,” she said, scrambling to remember her other conditions. Her brain had taken a little holiday after his admission.

“Of course not. Why would I have expected otherwise? Go on then.”

“I... You can’t wish me under your power. No making me a slave, or anything like that,” she said.

“The thought never even crossed my mind,” he said dryly. The crystal in her hand flared to life. “Alright, fine, it crossed it. Several times. In excruciating detail. But it wouldn’t work anyway. I have no power over you, remember? I cannot force you to do anything you don’t want to do.” The light went out.

“I’m suddenly very glad I asked for a lie detector,” she said.

He only smiled sarcastically.

“You can’t wish me Underground.”

“I don’t remember putting this many conditions on your wishes,” he said, petulantly. She frowned at him. “Fine! Will there be anything else, princess?”

“You can’t wish for me to do anything illegal, either. In my world or yours.”

“Of course not,” he said, sounding indignant that she would even suggest it. She chewed her lip for a minute. She could forbid him from wishing for anything physical from her but... she felt herself begin to blush hotly. Well, she could always stop asking questions whenever she wanted to finish the game, right?

“And just to be clear, neither your wishes nor your debt can affect anyone except me. I’ll have your word that you’ll leave my family alone,” she said, finally, just to clear the point.

“As long as you continue to grant my wishes,” he said wryly. “Any more rules to rob me of my fun? No?” She couldn’t think of anything, so she shook her head. “Very well then, a few conditions of my own. No multiple part questions, any additional questions will be ignored. All wishes must be performed within a half hour from when I ask. Failure to perform within the half hour means you forfeit the game to me—“

“The same rule applies to questions and answers,” she interrupted. “One half hour to answer, or you forfeit to me.” He gritted his teeth, but nodded.

“Of course. Finally, I will collect my debt from you only after we’ve both agreed that the game has come to an end, whether that be because one of us has forfeited, or we’ve mutually agreed to finish it. In the unlikely event I am the one to forfeit, I still retain the right to collect on my original debt.”

“What will you forfeit?” She asked suddenly, as it occurred to her that she could get something more out of this than simply answers. His eyes narrowed. “I mean, if you win, you—“

“Take back what’s mine, we’ve established that.”

“But if I win, what do I get?”

“What more could you possibly want? You really are a very selfish girl.” Sarah was startled to note that the crystal in her hand turned a faint, but distinct red. He shot it a dirty look.

“A free wish, no debts owed.” She held out a hand for him to shake. “Do you agree?”

He looked at her hand the same way he had looked at Chet’s. Then he smiled, as if the answer had just dawned on him. He took her hand in one of his gloved ones, bowed over it, and brushed his lips over the sensitive skin of her fingers, which sent every hormone in her body crashing against each other in their eagerness to rush the stage. He smiled up at her through the fine fringe of his pale hair, just as the tip of his tongue touched the delicate webbing between two fingers. She fought to remain standing.

“Agreed,” he said.

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 5 of 14

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