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Buffy took a sip of the tropical fruit drink before setting it down and smiling at the Scoobies taking a well- earned summer vacation on a beautiful cruise ship. "You made one heck of a wish," she told her companion.
Said companion sat up, took her by the chin, and gently kissed her lips. "The wish was the easy part," he said in a low voice, before pushing back the part of his light auburn hair not already caught in a warrior's braid. "Something that I had an inkling of, before, and was hammered home to me after I made the first wish, was this - people matter. Every person matters. What I already knew from every tale that I had ever read, was that there were usually three types of 'Masters:' those who would ask for silly things, like a lunch or something like that, those who would ask for far more than they could ever use or need, and those who tried to outsmart the granter by very carefully wording their wish. They all ignored what I just said.
"They all treated the Jinn or other granter like he or she was a computer, not a being. Heck, look at Aladdin in that Disney movie, even he did for a while!" He shook his head. "And the problem with that is that you then have someone who's...annoyed with you, at best, interpreting your wishes, and deciding how to grant them. They might have granted the wishes of those who asked for trivial things, because it was easy and they could mock them, but for those who asked for more than that, especially those who tried to outsmart them?" He looked over at his blonde lady. "They would interpret the wish in the way that hurt the 'master' most, and taxed their powers least. 'You asked for a thousand pounds of gold? Well, here it is, dropped from a thousand feet onto your head!' 'You ask to be happy for the rest of your life? I have an injection of narcotics, for you, as soon as you're under, I'll cut your head off!' There is not a way to word a wish, if the granter is even mildly intelligent, creative and has no one to answer to, that cannot be turned to the master's woe." Looking into her eyes, he stroked Buffy's cheek with his thumb. "You are the most important thing in the world to me, Buffy. I was not going to risk you."
Buffy gently grasped his hand. "Then why spend all the time with this, Will?" She kissed his hand. "Why didn't we just wish for three everything pizzas and be done with it?"
"Because there was the potential for us to have so much more. And, honestly, there was the potential for Balil's people to be so much more. Remember what I said. People matter. We started off by treating Balil as a person, not a slot machine that had just hit a jackpot. Quite honestly, I didn't start that with any thought of it changing things, I just got ticked off that it was so obvious that so many people hadn't
treated him like the person he was.
"And the strange thing was that we benefited from that, completely separate from how it affected the wishes. We learned about things that we had no other way of knowing, and we got to know Balil, who I think you'll agree is well worth knowing."
"I'm all with the agreeing," Buffy nodded. "But what about - "
"The wishes themselves?" Buffy nodded, and Will went on. "More of the same general theme. First, I asked for the knowledge, wisdom, yadda yadda. That made sure I knew what the issues were, and showed Balil that I wasn't afraid to sacrifice a bit to get what I substantially needed. Then I did two key things. First, I asked him how to word things. That showed him that I valued his opinion, respected him, and wasn't trying to outsmart him. Then, I offered him a piece of the pie."
"Yeah, I was wondering why you were putting that contingency stuff in there." Buffy's nose scrunched up in confusion. "I mean, couldn't he have trusted you?"
"He had. Many, many times, from what he told us. And always, something seemed to happen. So we set it up in a way that, if he got nothing, then we got nothing."
"Man, that would have been a bitch." Buffy frowned.
"Not at all, Buffy." Will pinched the bridge of his nose. "If one of the Scoobies, or your mom, had suddenly fallen too ill for the second wish to take care of in time, I would still have more knowledge and understanding, not something to sneeze at with what we do, and we still would have not lost
. That was the important thing. I would have had you, and we weren't in any dire straits. Do you remember all the 'masters' who tried to outsmart the Jinn?" Buffy nodded. "Almost all of them came to bad ends, right? Gold dropped on them, head cut off, things like that. They lost." He kissed Buffy's forehead. "I couldn't play to win with you there. I played to not lose."
"But -" Buffy waved around her.
"It's all very nice. And it'll be interesting in a couple of weeks when you're Biff, and I'm Willow again, and after that, when we're back to ourselves, before we choose how we should be permanently." He smiled. "But we asked for all of this, and got it, because at the time, we and Balil knew each other so well, that there was no chance that we would lose
. He would have told us if we were asking for too much."
Buffy smiled and shook her head. "You can tell yourself that it was all to win, excuse me, not lose the game of wishes, but I saw you, Will. You wanted to give Balil something. Marshmallow, your name is Rosenberg."
He blushed. "Well, it did enter into my mind that if they didn't see a way out, some idiot would eventually give them a way to destroy all life on Earth."
"So you didn't go for wealth beyond our wildest dreams." She sighed. "Oh, well, I guess we'll have to live with half a million, plus an annual disbursement of $100,000 for life from some family we never knew, the laws suddenly changing so that we can be consenting adults with a test, and that we can be legally married no matter what our pairing, as well as both of our families and the Scoobies now having perfect health." She smirked. "Oh, and us being able to choose if we want to be man and wife, wife and man, or wife and wife."
She held out her arms as William picked her up and said, "Why don't we test one of those theories?"