"What is your wish, master?"
That old lamp had been sitting on a shelf with the other treasures his mother had gathered from the sea for as long as Kai could remember, and apparently no one in the family had ever bothered to dust it off in all that time.
"You're a genie, right?" Kai asks, "Were you aware of what was going on in the house all that time while your lamp was on the shelf? That must have been incredibly...frustrating."
"It was more entertaining than the thousands of years where my lamp was sitting on the sea floor. I did rather wonder if any of you were ever going to summon me, however. And here, at last, you have. Now, master, what is your wish?"
"You can just call me Kai," Kai says, "The whole 'master' thing is a bit much for me. So, you really grant wishes?"
"Your wish is my command," the genie replies with a slight bow.
"Wow. A real genie," Kai murmurs to himself. He's read a few stories about them, of course, being a fan of fantasy and fairy tales. And so he knows how tricky the business of wishing is. You need to know exactly what you want, and how to word it in a way that won't backfire on you horribly. Magically granted wishes are always completely literal, giving no more and no less than exactly what you've wished for. "Can I take some time to think about this?" Kai asks.
"Of course master -- Kai," the genie responds, "I am bound to you for all eternity, until you make your wish."
"I'll try to make it quick, then," Kai says, not wanting to keep the genie bound to him for longer than necessary. "What's your name?"
"I am Bahir Nejem," the genie says, "I will await you in the lamp. Just rub it when you are ready to make your wish."
Kai slept on the decision, but awoke with no clear idea of what to wish for. Wealth, health, happiness...he already had those, and his other goals in life, like professional success, would lose meaning if he didn't earn them through his own efforts.
"Please don't play with the hamster, Kai," Julian says, glancing up from the report he's writing for the Stark Center, "He's an experimental subject, not a pet."
"But he's cute," Kai protests, even while putting the hamster, who he's secretly named Gibson, back in his cage. "Can I ask you a question, Dad?"
Julian stops working to give his son his full attention.
"If you could make a wish, and it was guaranteed to come true, what would you wish for?" Kai asks.
"There are no such guarantees, son," Julian says, "You have to work for what you want in life. Wishing won't make it happen."
"I know that, Dad. But, hypothetically, if, say, a genie or fairy were to offer you one wish, what would it be."
"As tempting as that might be, I'd steer clear of anything offered by genies, fairies or any supernatural types. Magic is a force best left alone."
"Okay, Dad, thanks," Kai hugs his father warmly, not too disappointed with the non-answer he got. His father is a scientist after all, and Kai didn't expect this to go much differently.
Joining his mother for lunch after her workout, Kai asks her the same question.
Jillyan sighs wistfully. "There are so many things I'd like to say to my parents. And I know they'd love to meet you and Dylan. My Dad would be so happy, so proud. I guess that's the only thing I regret," she says, "I didn't get to say goodbye."
His mother had become quite nostalgic since they'd moved to Cape Garner, reminiscing about her childhood and the family she'd left behind. Whenever Kai would ask direct questions about her memories, though, she'd get suddenly vague and dodgy about it. With enough prodding he deduced that her parents were criminals of some kind, and assumed that that was why she and his dad had moved to remote Isla Paradiso to start their own family. But that was all he'd been able to put together; whoever her parents were, they left no trace, no records he could find in any searches.
"Would you wish to see them again?" he asks her, "To go back home?"
Jillyan shakes her head, "No, you can't change the past. This is home now. You guys were born here, and it's been a great life. I wouldn't want to do anything that would mess with that."
Kai leaves his mother with no better ideas than what he got from his father.
The weather is foul and rainy, and Grizzly's is empty save for the bored bartender when Kai meets up with Alex there.
After a game of pool and a couple of drinks, the couple head back to Kai's place.
"If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?" Kai asks him. The only unfulfilled wish Kai had was to have Alex by his side all the time. But there were too many ways for a wish like that backfire, like having Alex with him all the time, but one or both of them miserable, or sick and in need of constant care. He could spend days trying to word the wish, but if he failed to see one possibility, failed to ward off one bad outcome...no, the risk was too high, and Kai would not put his relationship on the line like that.
"Is this a serious question?" Alex asks him, "Or are we playing a game?"
"Serious," Kai says, "What would you wish for? It can be anything, anything at all. And it's guaranteed to come true."
Alex sits quietly, looking at him, pondering. "I'd wish that you were happy. With me, as I am," he finally responds.
Kai mouth gapes open in shock, "But, I am happy, Alex! I love you. More than anything," he protests.
"What would you wish for then? To change me, so that I wouldn't be such a loner?" Alex asks, his tone more hurt than accusatory, "I know I disappoint you. And I wish I didn't."
"Baby, you don't disappoint me," Kai says, getting on his knees to kiss Alex, "I'm sorry I've made you think that. I wouldn't change what we have for anything. And I would never, ever change anything about you."
The next day, Kai summons Bahir, ready to release the genie from his obligation.
"I don't want to wish for anything," Kai declares confidently. "You're free. I release you."
"That's it?" Bahir asks, "You don't want wealth, or power?"
"I have wealth. And with power comes great responsibility, which I definitely don't want. I've got everything I want, so, you're free."
"It doesn't work like that. You have to use your wish."
"Okay, then, I wish for you to be released from service and to be free to do as you please."
Bahir rises from the ground, a glowing vapor forming around his ankles, and shining from his eyes and mouth as he intones a chant in his language.
"Oh, wow, cool," Kai breathes as the magical sparkles twine around his wrists. "So, it's done? You're free?"
"Unfortunately, no," Bahir answers, "There is still the matter of the lamp. You must destroy it."
The first two steps for destroying the lamp include chilling it in the refrigerator and then heating it in the oven.
And then the third and final step is bringing it into the town's mausoleum.
It's a harrowing experience, fraught with danger, and Kai makes a mental note to suggest a mausoleum dungeon to Junior for the game they're working on.
Once he's back in the safety of his game room at home, Kai summons Bahir for what he hopes will be the final time.
The mystical chains that bound the genie break apart as he materializes.
After long centuries imprisoned in the lamp, forced into the service of anyone who summoned him, Bahir is finally free.