Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, The Shadow, the classic literature One Thousand and One Nights, or The Wizard of Oz.
Author's Note: I could use a Beta if anyone wants to volunteer. Also if anyone is wondering how an ancient Persian was able to speak English that night I'm assuming she managed to pull some knowledge of it from Willow's mind. Enough to understand those who spoke to her. Either that or a wizard did it. :)
“Oh dear,” they heard Giles say from behind them as a wave of magic expands from the bust of Janus.
They spun and there was Giles standing next to Buffy. He raised his hands at the sight of Xander’s guns unsure as to whether he was facing Xander and Cordelia or Glinda the Good and The Shadow. Their first words put him at ease on that score.
“Did you see what dweeb boy just did?” Cordelia says, smacking him in the chest with her left hand.
Xander scowls and holsters his guns, “You mean saving your life and taking out the gloating bastard who caused all this?”
“I wasn’t in any danger doofus!” She shouted. “I would have found a way through that weird shield of his sooner or later and then ended the spell in a controlled way. Your usual reckless stupidity could have caused any number of fatal reactions. That was a god we were dealing with!”
“No, that was a jackass. He just was using a god to power his twisted plans,” Xander shouted back. “I’ve seen rituals like this before. You kill the evil guy and it stops the ritual.”
“Oh yeah moron?” she replied. “Then why are your guns still real along with my wand?”
Xander opened his mouth to shout back then stopped and looked at Giles, “Uh hey G-man, do you know why I still have psychic powers and two empty but very real guns?”
“I’ll need to study the room and any notes left behind,” Giles said. “I’ll meet you in the Library tomorrow morning.” He walks past them into the back room, “For tonight I’d suggest that you stay together and if possible find Willow. There may be other side effects and none of you should be alone. The good news is that I believe that the spell is indeed ended just not in the normal way.”
He holds up a hand when Cordelia opens her mouth, “As we do not know what was planned we cannot say whether this ending is better or worse than waiting until the spell ended naturally, if indeed it would have. So do not chastise Xander yet, he may have saved all our lives. The mayhem outside may have easily killed people before morning if it hasn’t already so stopping it was a good thing. If there are side effects we shall deal with them in the morning once I have finished deciphering exactly what Ethan was doing.”
Xander turns to Buffy, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Buffy replied. “I’m just glad I’m back to being me and not Casper. How do we find Willow?”
“I can try to call her,” Cordelia said. She fishes a cellphone from a hidden pocket in her skirt, “What’s her number?”
After getting it and calling she listens for a while then barks out, “Willow! Just get your ass back to my house and bring Larry if he’s still feeling the effects.” She hangs up and shrugs, “She’s a bit hysterical but she’s still Willow so maybe Dweeb boy didn’t mess up too badly.”
“So,” Xander says, “still got that limo?”
As they ride home Xander experiments with his new powers and decides this change will come in very handy. He might have nightmares of being Ying-Ko but his dreams are never all that nice anyway so he wasn't too worried.
Larry escorts Willow back to Cordelia’s but it’s clear that he is repressing hard, “I’m just gonna change and go home. Thanks for the offer of a sleepover or whatever but I really need a good night’s sleep. It’s been a weird night.”
After Larry has gone the others gather in a guest bedroom. Willow starts, “Now I kinda wish I’d been something else. I mean I was Scheherazade, from A Thousand and One Arabian Nights and she’s cool and all but nothing she knew is going to help me. I mean I can speak Farsi now or maybe ancient Persian but other than that she was just a normal girl. I didn’t get any cool powers or magic.”
“At least you stayed solid,” Buffy added. “I didn’t even get any different memories or knowledge. I was the ghost of me so nothing new up here,” she tapped her head.
“Too bad,” Cordelia said. “Because there was so much extra room.” Then she scowled and seem to be fighting something for a while then sighed. “Ok, I’m sorry for that. It was mean.” Then she hit Xander.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“You're the reason I have this goody-goody witch in my head!" she replied.
The next morning Cordelia drives all four of them to school and parks by the entrance closest to the library.
As they enter the library they head straight for Giles. Cordelia speaks first, “So what happened? Why do some have Miss Manners in their heads and how can we tell if somebody bad gained abilities?”
Giles says, “I have a theory that I believe we can place high confidence in. It seems that when you killed Ethan Rayne Janus considered it a sacrifice in the old pagan fashion. As such he granted your wishes, or more to the point, the wishes of Glinda the Good and the Shadow. Since they wanted to stop the madness going on and help their allies those who were actively helping you should be the only ones still with any power and we do not have to worry about say, Spike for instance, gaining any abilities.” He took off his glasses and started cleaning them, “Buffy unfortunately the Slayer essence inside you would have purged you of any residual chaos magic so I rather doubt you retained any abilities but the others should now be better equipped to support you against the dark forces of this town.”
“Well I think I prefer being the Slayer to being a ghost anyway,” Buffy said.
“So there is no way to get this maddening bitch out of my head and it’s all Xander’s fault?” Cordelia said.
“It was the Shadow and not Xander who shot him,” Giles said reasonably. “Also I doubt he could have known what would happen. He also seems to have had a point when he worried that Ethan was protected from your magic. He would not have sold any items whose magic could overpower his spell. Physical force would have been necessary at some point although I could wish it hadn’t been lethal force it is entirely possible that you might have been injured if he hadn’t shot the man just then.”
Xander nods, “I can also help you contain the unwanted presence in your head. Lamont Cranston learned a lot about the mind and how to use its powers and those are lessons anyone can learn. It doesn’t require super powers just willpower and I know you have plenty of that.”
“Fine,” Cordelia replied. “You can tutor me after school each day. But it better be for free and I am not calling you sensei or any of that crap understand?”
Xander smiled and nodded, “Yes, Cordelia.” He was no longer intimidated by her rants but it was still easier to go along than argue.
“Willow?” Giles asks, “Are you sure you didn't pick up anything useful? Scheherazade was a lady of legendary creativity and persuasiveness. She may not have possessed magic or telepathy but hopefully she left something of use behind?”
Willow blushed, “Um not really. I mean she could tell stories like nobody's business true and knew the geography and politics of the time and could read and write the languages of the day and for the time that was really good! I mean back then most noble women were merely decoration and most peasant women were a combination of maid, cook, and baby factory.”
Cordelia interrupted with, “My father could be one of those nobles. He expected a useless, clueless daughter he could marry off to make a business alliance. It wasn't until the first time I blackmailed more allowance out of him that he started to respect me. Times have not changed all that much I assure you.”
Willow, her babble interrupted before it got really going said, “Anyway unless you have books in ancient Persian or whatever that you need translated or want to hear a long, and I mean like really, really, long, story then I'm afraid I'm still just research girl.” She blushed again, “I, uh, also have this urge to show my midriff, and you know dress a little slutty but I can handle it and I doubt I own anything she would want to wear anyway.” She shrugged then frowned, “I just wish I could get rid of these piercings. I looked and I can find any clasps plus they'd leave, you know, holes behind.”
“The holes heal up after enough time,” Buffy said.
“And I have a set of tools for fixing jewelry at my house,” Cordelia said. Then seeing the others expressions she explained, “I'm not about to trust my good stuff to some fumble fingered hack in this town and sometimes I want to wear something sooner than it would take to send it out to a proper craftsman. So I learned how to do simple repairs.” She puts her arm around Willow, “Come on back to the house with me and I'll get them off you even if they don't have clasps.”
“Really?” Willow asked surprised by the offer.
Cordelia smiled, “Sure! It'll only cost you one piece of my choice. I can also use more jewelry and if they were fit for a queen I'm sure I'll see something I like.” She led the girl towards the door.
“I'd better come along and look out for Willow,” Buffy said. “Plus, you might need Slayer strength in case some of it is a tougher alloy rather than the softer pure gold.”
The three girls headed out leaving both males rather shocked at Willow's last revelation.
Xander eventually shook his head to clear the images his imagination kept showing him and said, “I'm going to go home and take a cold shower.”
Giles nodded, “I quite understand.”