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Summary: Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia have a lingering problem left over from Halloween.
AN – This is a continuation of “The New Three Fold Rule”.
The doors to the Library were thrown open and Cordelia rushed in, still wearing her costume.
“Giles, you have to help us!” she yelled.
“Cor..Cordelia,” Giles sputtered. “Of course I’ll help. But which us are you talking about?”
“Me, Buffy, and Willow,” she shouted back, in near hysterics. “Who else would it be?”
“What exactly do you want me to do?” he asked in attempt to get enough information to be able to do anything.
“We want you to fix this,” she said.
Suddenly, her image blurred a bit and the next instant there were three of her standing there. Only on closer examination of the faces of all three, did both Xander and Giles realize that it wasn’t three Cordelias standing there but Buffy on the right, Willow on the left, and Cordelia center.
It was then that the costume triggered Giles’ memory.
“Triplicate Girl,” he said in disbelief.
After a few heart beats, the three figures merge back into one, who Giles can now see only superficially looks like Cordelia. Aspects of Buffy and Willow can be seen in her face as well.
“We can’t separate for more than a few seconds,” stated the amalgam persona. “Luornu and Willow theorize it’s because of trying to integrate 16 plus years of life experiences, times three, into Luornu’s memories. Normally the brains of a Cargg native only have to deal with integrating up to 24 hours’ worth of memories. We’re lucky that it’s happening in the background or we’d be in a near catatonic state with only autonomic body functions working. We just don’t know how long it’s going to take. Not that we want to find out because you have to fix this now!”
“Pl . . . please try and calm yourself, uh .. um .. How should I address you?”
“Cordelia will be fine as that is the persona in the forefront at the moment,” she replied. “We’re not sure if Willow or Buffy can be brought forward or not as our mind is too busy with the integration to try anything like that. And that’s another reason to fix this now. We’re also not sure that our individual personalities will survive the integration. We could become a blended personality that would remain even when we split apart. The original US would cease to exist and only Luornu Durgo would remain, though with our memories intertwined with hers. Though, it is only because of her experience with this condition that has kept us from really, really freaking out.”
“You have all of Luornu’s memories?” asked Giles.
“We each got a complete download when whatever happened to change us into her happened. Everything up to the moment we split into three to try and escape Computo. The memories stop there and then we were here in Sunnydale. We did our best to try and stem the chaos and prevent violence while trying to find each other and any other Legionnaires. It was while I was fighting a pirate, who I think was Larry, that I was injured. Possibly fatally. Buffy and Willow got to me but they didn’t know where the hospital was and decided to see if joining back up with me would help close the wound and give us the strength to survive. It was risky but since they believed they would die anyway when I did, they took the chance. We all think Buffy’s Slayer Healing helped keep us alive considering that there is only a red welt where I was stabbed. Anyway, sometime after we merged the spell ended and with four different minds in one body, we were dazed and confused. Luornu seemed to fade into the background, probably to deal with the integration of our minds, and that left me in the forefront since I had been the focus when we merged. I groggily made my way back to my place and fell into bed where I immediately fell asleep. Waking only a short time ago and discovering I had company in my head. When we tried to split apart, what you saw is what happened. We decided to come find you to help us and it was on the way over that the Luornu and Willow aspects came up with their theory. Although the integration is going on, I can still tell which personality is providing information. Now enough of this. Get to fixing us!”
“I don’t know if I can,” said Giles sadly, seeing the crestfallen look on Cordelia’s face as he said that. “In order to undo the effects of a spell one must know precisely what the spell was or what it did. From a diagnostic spell I did on Xander before you arrived, I surmise you were all affected by Chaos Magic, which by its very nature makes knowing either of those things nearly impossible. Now Xander had told me that he has some memories of his character but nothing else. No obvious physical changes, even though he admitted his character was rather portly. When the spell ended you three should have reverted to yourselves. Since you didn’t, I must assume that it is because of your being merged and possibly the subsequent effort to integrate your minds that is perpetuating the effects of the spell. Any attempt to interfere with that process could damage your minds irrevocably.”
“Isn’t there anything you can do?” the young woman pleaded.
Giles’ face took on the look he usually had when pondering or thinking deeply.
Despite her growing anxiety, the gestalt being let her only hope be.
“You indicated that you can tell which personality thoughts are coming from, correct?” he said.
“Also, when you split into three earlier, I definitely saw Willow, Buffy and Cordelia as distinct individuals, not like your face currently looks which appears to be a blend of the three,” he continued. “Were your minds separated with the bodies as well?”
“Yes, when I split, each of the individual minds, plus Luornu’s memories, split off with its own body.”
“Ok. I might be able to ensure that even when the integration of all your memories is complete that when you split, you will revert to your regular bodies and the mind that goes along with that body will be in the forefront. I just hope I have the ingredients on hand as it must be done while you still retain a semblance of your individualities.”
“Xander, go to the Chemistry Lab and get three beakers,” he ordered. “Also, get some Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Iodide.”
Turning back to Cordelia, while Xander sprinted out of the Library, he asked, “Do you know if your character’s hair reverts back to being a wig when you split?”
“I haven’t thought to see,” came the reply.
Suddenly, there are three young women in front of him and each pulls on the short brown hair on their heads.
“Ouch!” yelp all three, just before they merge back together.
“That would be a no,” stated Giles a bit dejectedly.
“What are your blood types?” he then asked.
“I’m A-positive,” said Cordelia. “Willow is O-positive, and Buffy is O-negative.”
Giles went to the weapons’ cage and got three daggers and placed them on the Research Table the gang used.
“Split and each of you prick your finger on a dagger, ensuring you leave blood on the blade,” he instructed. “There’s a simple spell I can do to see what the blood type is on each one. If we’re lucky your blood will be your own when you’re separated.”
There was no need to say anything about what it would mean if they were unlucky.
Going to the table and once again increasing the population of the Library by two, his instructions were carried out. Once they remerged, and moved away, Giles moved forward and spoke in a low voice, using some language his audience didn’t recognize.
“Good,” he said. “That’s one.”
He then went into his office and came out with a set of nail clippers.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said the less than happy teenager. “I just spent $75 on a manicure.”
“You’re not wearing fake nails are you?” he asked.
“None of us were,” she replied.
“Very well, get at least five clippings from each of you and place them next to the daggers as we’ll need to use them again.”
“I really would have liked to have had some of your original hair,” he said with a sigh, after they finished with the nail clippings. “The more material from the original you, the more likely the spell is to work.”
Hearing his words, Cordelia seemed to be thinking of something.
“Do you have a pair of shears?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied and went behind the Checkout Desk, pulled out a pair of shears and placed them on the counter top.
Cordelia picked them up and said, “I’ll be back in a bit.”
She then headed for the door just as Xander came back with the items from the Chemistry Lab.
“Where’s she going?” he asked as he took the items over to the Research Table.
“I’m not sure but she said she’d be back shortly.”
Giles went into his office and came back out with a small rack of what looked like spice bottles. He then went back into the weapons’ cage and got a bottle of Holy Water which her poured into the three beakers.
Just as he was finishing that, the Library doors swung open and Cordelia came back in holding three paper towel bundles.
As she placed them next to the beakers and the nail clippings, she saw Giles’ puzzled look and said emphatically, “Don’t ask!”
Xander was clueless but due to the tone of voice used refrained from trying to satisfy his curiosity.
“Very well,” Giles said. “I can prepare the base mixture but it will be up to the three of you to add the clippings, hair and blood, in that order, when I signal you. You will need to remain separated during that time as I chant the spell. Since you need to add one drop of blood every two seconds for a total of ten drops, this could take up to half a minute to complete. Do you think you can remain apart that long?”
“We’ll make it,” she said, though Giles saw both determination and uncertainty in her eyes.
Giles just nodded and set about preparing each beaker with the Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Iodide, and several items from his ‘spice rack’.
“When I give the signal, you need to split and remain apart till the ritual is done. Drop the clippings in one at a time. Then when I signal again put all of the hair in the beaker, using the dagger to push it in if necessary. Finally, I will signal a third time and you will cut your palms to that you can add the ten drops of blood. Ensure that at least 2 seconds have passed since the previous drop was added but try not to go past 4 seconds. Once the last drop of blood has been added you must wait until I finish the ritual before merging again. Is that clear?”
Cordelia just nodded as her throat and mouth are too dry to form words.
Giles moved to the other side of the table and faced the anxious young woman.
He began a low chant that seemed to repeat every so often. After about the third time through the chant he touched the rim of each beaker and the contents began to lightly bubble.
He pointed towards Cordelia right after touching the third beaker.
Taking that as her cue, there were suddenly three teenage girls facing him. They immediately picked up their clippings and dropped them into the beakers one at a time.
Giles continued to chant.
When they were done with the clippings they each picked up the hair from the paper towels and scrunched them into a ball to make it easier to place into the beakers when prompted. Sweat was beginning to appear on their foreheads by the time Giles indicated it was time for the hair.
As soon as the hair was in the beakers they picked up the daggers and prepared to slice open their palms for the needed blood. They were visibly shaking by the time the signal was given.
For Xander and Giles, the ritual seemed to proceed fairly quickly. Not so for the three girls. Fighting to stay separated and also focusing on their actions for the ritual made time seem to drag slower and slower as it went on. Even doing a simple ‘one Mississippi, two Mississippi’ in their heads between drops of blood seemed to take forever.
Sweat was beading all over their faces as the last drops of blood fell into the beakers. Their lips were curled in determined grimaces.
Still Giles chanted.
The three girls were swaying slightly when the three beakers suddenly expelled blue smoke towards the ceiling.
Xander just managed to catch the single figure before she hit the floor as she slumped into unconsciousness.
“Did it work?” he asked looking up from where he sat on the floor with Cordelia’s head in his lap.
“I believe so, but we won’t be certain until their integration is complete and they then split apart,” said Giles. “I don’t think they should try to split again until then.”
“Do we know how long that will take?” asked a worried Xander.
“No,” was the reply. “However, I believe her current state will last for some time, so let’s get her into my office on the couch. Then I’ll see if there is some spell I can do to monitor what is happening with the merging of their memories.”
Giles didn’t give voice to his concerns over what the future might be like for the three girls. From what he remembered, Triplicate Girl could only be split apart for up to 24 hours at a time before having to remerge with her other selves. That meant the three of them would have to be together for the rest of their lives if he couldn’t find some way to allow them to become three separate people again. There was also the complication of what kind of affect this would have on his Slayer or the Slayer line itself. He determined that The Council would not be told anything about this situation.
After making the sleeping teen as comfortable as possible on the couch, Giles called Miss Calendar as he needed not only her research skills for the infernal machine, but also felt a woman was needed to help deal with what he might have to face with four female teenage minds, even if one was from a fictional future time.