• Tobias Williams, contrary to thought wasn't stupid.

    Twenty-five now, his lovely older sister had gone ten years without going back into the Labyrinth. In that time period, she had adopted a barn owl, (Which came and went) wrote several best-selling children's books and hosted friends from the Labyrinth (Who were also his babysitters) and led a fairly nice life with all of them, making pastries and writing on her computer. But, in all of this time period, she didn't go back to the Labyrinth and never, ever said the words "I wish."

    But he was fifteen now, and he was most definitely not stupid.

    Which was why he was standing in front of her barn owl, in her bedroom when she could walk in any moment, shouting at it. Really, he wasn't stupid.

    However, it was clear that he thought the barn owl was.

    "You don't think I wouldn't recognize you after all this time, Jareth? You, who acted like we were in a massive fantasy-inspired musical together with my sister-Why are you acting like a blushing schoolgirl? You haven't so much as croaked a "You're attractive young lady" at my sister for a decade-You know what, old boy, you're pathetic. You don't even get to watch her change half of the time."

    If a barn owl had a mouth to unhinge, it would be unhinged. As it was, the beak was hanging open, and it was looking as about befuddled and shocked as an owl could look while Tobias tore into him, barely pausing for breath.

    "You haven't even thrown a crystal at her, much less throw yourself at her, all the while she waited for a king that never came. Now, what was that?" Tobias cocked his head, "It's the sound of her breeding cycle coming to an end! I want half-fey nephews to spoil, do you hear me?" He all but shrieked into the poor bird's face. "Go throw her back into Labryinth if you must, but for heaven's sake, you nincompoop, what on earth have you been doing?! Get ON with it, I've been watching you tiptoe around her as BIRD for over a decade! It screws with a bloke's mind when you know that your sister has been hankering after a man who's actually an animangus and sexual harassment personified!"

    The suddenly-outed goblin king could only make something that was clearly supposed to be a hoot, but came out more as a strangled "caw" of sound. Tobias wasn't even sure that sound was supposed to come out of an owl.

    Having successfully broken the mind of the Goblin King, Tobias walked off. (Like a boss.)

    Phase One: Complete.


    A week before:

    "I don't understand," Tobias wailed hysterically into his coke, looking very sorry for himself while his ex-babysitter Hoggle looked on in confusion, trying desperately to both keep a stray chicken in the apartment from eviscerating itself on the floor and watch the hormonal teen go through the phases that Sarah had gone through not long ago at the same time. "What part of NO ONE IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU HERE does my sister not get?!"

    "Probably the part where you chase off all her suitors, you brat." Hoggle said grumpily, finally just kicking the chicken in the general direction of the bathroom. The chicken erupted in a flurry of surprised feathers and indignant squawking, but neither Tobias or Hoggle took much notice. Planting his hands on his hips, Hoggle frowned up at his charge. "Alright, help me up you drama queen. And budge over." Sniffling with a touch of ironic drama, Tobias did as he was asked.

    When Hoggle was comfortably situated beside him on the bed, the dwarf asked in a long-suffering voice: "What's wrong?"

    "What do you mean, what is wrong." Tobias said in a surprisingly petulant voice, crossing his arms like he was ten years younger than he actually was and pouting. "My sister keeps on going to all of these boring men for romance and I won't have it, Hoggle! I won't!"

    There was silence in Tobias' bedroom.

    Then Hoggle snorted. "You know, Toby, you sound really like he-who-must-not-be-named. Before he was defeated, I mean."

    "I'm not a sociopath with a long history of violence, Hoggle." Tobias said, then grinned. "What?" He said, getting the rather obscure joke about Jareth. "You don't know that the barn owl is his own very royal stalker-boy for my sister? I mean, how long did it take you to not realize? You and she never get that I don't say that she isn't available to be taken by somebody, I say that she isn't available to anyone who is lesser than she is."

    There was another beat of silence while Hoggle had a small heart attack and Tobias was mentally preparing himself to preform CPR. Just in case.

    "He's here?!" Hoggle finally choked out, and Tobias blinked in relief. "...Yes? Wow, you really didn't know..." He said absently, too busy mentally thanking whoever had let him off the hook and saved his first kiss from his dwarven ex-babysitter.

    "No, of course I didn't know, you airheaded ninny!" Hoggle snapped, and began rubbing his temples in an attempt to stave off the headache that would inevitably set in. "He's been here for close to eight years and not a single transformation has come about in all of that time! How-" Hoggle frowned. "Toby, how would you know? And," As some of what Tobias said previously caught up to him, "GETTING HIS HIGHNESS AND SARAH TOGETHER IS SINGULARLY THE WORST IDEA YOU'VE EVER HAD."

    "Worse than the time I let the party of goblins learn the concept of Karaoke?" Tobias said cheekily, then yelped as Hoggle delivered a hard pinch to his thigh. "Don't mess with me, boy!" Hoggle practically roared, and a pathetic-sounding cluck sounded from the bathroom.

    "Owowow. Okay, okay. Okay. I know magic, and I can do the crystal-ball-thingy-too. And it's not a bad thing!" He defended himself. "You know Sarah, you know his royal Everything-is-a-musical-until-the-romance-turns-mo re-idiotic-than-Twilight-ness, mix them together and they're fabulous! Seriously! You've been watching me have at it for almost three years now!"

    "It's the lead bars I let you chew on. And I knew Ludo dropped you that time. Alright, boy, I'm calling up the asylum..." Hoggle hopped off the bed, leaving Tobias to chase after him.

    A few days later, following the above incident:

    "What are we doing here." Hoggle's voice brooked no argument, a stark contrast to the silently giggling goblins beside them; several of whom were relieving themselves against the tires of a car. And removing some rather vital bolts while they were at it, with nothing but their fingers and a curious chicken or two.

    "I," Tobias said in a dignified voice "Am watching over my sister like a good younger brother, paying her back for taking care of me on her own for six years. And you, my good dwarf are being an obstacle to her while she's being helped by me on the pathways to true love. Because really, the unrequited sex tension is becoming thicker than treacle and I can just tell it's filled with calories."

    Higgle closed his eyes and counted to ten, mentally revisiting the advice Sarah had given him on controlling anger years ago. Count to ten, Hoggle. I know he's a bit loud, and a bit silly, but he's younger than me. And you of course know how silly I was. Am, actually. It's a human thing, I think.

    "I'm going to pretend that you actually made sense, and ask you another question. 'Why are we he-'"

    "Shhh!" Tobias hushed him fervently, lowering the binoculars from his eyes. "They're coming out!" And so they were, if "They" meant the handsome barista that Sarah occasionally saw when she worked in her favorite coffee shop and Sarah herself, devastatingly beautiful and fey-like after continuous exposure to magic. They were laughing as they emerged from the restaurant, clearly enjoying each other's company.

    Tobias prided himself in seeing his sister's moods better than anyone. And he knew when she was miserable, hiding it behind a pretty smile.

    She had taken after her mother in her acting abilities, Tobias also knew. But it wasn't good enough for him, because he was her little brother, whether either of them liked it or not. And with that mind, he always was there to systematically destroy each and every date she was coerced into. (Read: Ended up having to accept because of social circumstances.) And, right now...

    "Alright you guys, it's showtime! Let's go give Sarah an excuse to not meet him up like this again." He whispered to the goblins, many of which began laughing too loudly for his comfort. He shushed them, causing them to unanimously slap hands over their mouths and look all for the world like ugly babies who were caught stealing cookies from the jar. It was too late, though-Sarah had looked over, and-Was that genuine amusement that he read on her face?

    ...Well then! He blinked. All the better. Ignoring Hoggle, who was saying "You know lad, maybe you should just let her have this one date for once-"

    "Activate the hounds!"

    The front door to the house slammed, causing Tobias to jump and lose his pencil.

    Freddy Martin bellowed from the TV, ignoring any possible alternatives to an evening and successfully ignoring the door. Tobias envied him, truthfully. Still, as ominous music went...

    Grumbling, he retrieved it from the floor. He still had a lot of the science homework he was assigned from school, and it didn't help that he was out earlier, making mischief for Sarah's date. And after the mess he made, he still had to deal with the goblins. He bribed many of them into sugar comas, putting them out like lights for a good four hours and left two awake to watch telly together and provide background noise. Hoggle was in the kitchen, sulking for god knew what reason.

    It wasn't like they were doing something bad. If Hoggle didn't know that Sarah was miserable every time she went out with someone, then he wasn't a good friend at all.

    "Toby!" A loud, feminine voice rattled the windowpanes of the house, and Tobias smiled with wry fondness. Ah, he loved his sister. He could practically smell the ozone seeping through the crevices of his own bedroom door, all the way from where he was.


    "Yeah?" He called back, long and drawling in a patently fake british accent that was definitely stolen from a few episodes of Doctor Who. (Sarah adored the show. Both Hoggle and he could never understand why, but Sir Didymus sort of got it.)

    "I-" Following that there was a long silence, long enough that Tobias had to abandon his homework and the goblins, tripping over a couple on his way to the door to his bedroom. Opening the door, he yelped and jumped back in surprise at seeing his sister, looking more conflicted than he'd ever seen her. Anger and something else entirely warred on her face, before confusion and curiosity won out.

    "...Toby. Is that...I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts?"

    Even later that night:

    After everything was said and done, and after Sarah assured him that she was still mad at him, Tobias found himself nursing a hot chocolate with a significantly less sulky Hoggle. Glancing at the dwarf in the dim lighting of the kitchen, he found himself saying: "You know, Hoggle..."

    "I know, boy." Hoggle said grumpily. "I hate to admit it, you know. I don't like anyone here, either." Blinking, Tobias cocked his head to the side. "No, that's not what I was going to ask you. Though that's good, you've finally seen the light after about three years of being in the dark. That's excellent, actually." Tobias paused, savoring the taste of hot chocolate and victory. "No, I was going to ask you if it was a bad idea to get the goblins to turn the car seat Sarah's date was in into a high-powered jetseat..."

    "Only now you ask me that question, boy- JETSEAT?" Hoggle turned around from his position on the stool, already wide eyes widening further. For the second time that week, Tobias had to try remember how to do CPR while Hoggle had his miniature heart attack, the poor thing.

    "Oops?" Tobias said, sipping his cocoa. "How-Did-I don't even want to know." Hoggle gave up, waving his free hand around in exasperation. "We should of never introduced you to the goblins, Toby." He grumbled, following up the statement by trying to drown himself in his mug.

    "Aw, that's no fun. I was nearly turned into one of them! Why wouldn't I want to know my own almost-kin, Hoggle? I mean, I get the whole special snowflake thing going that you had going on before my sister inserted her fabulously beautiful and sassy self into your life-"

    "Shut up, Toby. Shut that yap you call a mouth." Hoggle advised, and Tobias obeyed. For a moment or two.

    "Hoggle, do you think I should let his royal feathers know that I know about him?"

    Hoggle eyed Tobias across the table. "Yes, and let him know exactly how you feel upon the subject, why don't you?" He said, his voice thick with sarcasm.

    Present day-turned-night, and after Tobias took Hoggle a little too seriously and really did give the Goblin King a piece of his mind:

    "What-What are you doing?" The owl screeched in english, obviously not used to being manhandled as he was. Because he was Tobias and he was used to the laws of physics being bent around him, he calmly ignored the vocal chords and tongue-needing sounds coming from the King-Gone-Feathered and shoved him firmly in the shower. In back of Tobias, Hoggle spoke up.

    "He," Hoggle said with grim amusement, "Is watching over his sister like a good younger brother, paying her back for taking care of us on her own for six years. And you, you feathered sunavobitch are being an obstacle to her while she's being helped by her brother on the pathways to true love. And honestly Your Majesty, I can't get in the way of this brat's antics any longer."

    "I-Hey." Tobias turned around, a smile beginning to form on his face. "Thanks."

    "Anytime, Toby." Hoggle nodded at his charge. "Watch His Majesty." The owl was still putting up a mighty fight, feathers and everything. "Right." Tobias turned back, and glared fiercely at the Goblin King. "You, my fine fellow are going to get your first glimpse of my naked sister. If you really want to put up a fight because you're too busy mooning after what you can't have, then by all means, fight."

    Abruptly, the owl stopped fighting, and Tobias withdrew with a grin on his face.

    "Thought so. Alright, she'll be in shortly."

    A disgruntled, reluctantly gratitude-filled hoot was his response.

    Later that night:

    "This was not how I pictured seeing you again, Goblin King!" His sister's voice came from the bathroom, loud and clear as a bell despite The Weather Girls' best efforts to serenade the two.

    "IT'S RAINING MEN! AMEN! I'M GOING TO GO OUT, ABSOLUTELY SOAKING WEEEETT!" The song blared from the bathroom, having no consideration for the neighbors.

    Phase Two, Completed. A smug smile stretched Tobias' face. Finally, things were happening.