If Wishes Were Horses…
Disclaimer: Most of these characters aren't mine, I'm just using them for my own amusement.
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'Are we all ready?' Giles asked. Everyone nodded, though none of them really looked it.
'You okay?' Oz asked Cordelia.
'Fine,' she smiled tightly. 'Let's just do this.'
Giles stripped the leaves from a sprig of sage and dropped them into the golden goblet smouldering in the centre of the table. Bags and pots filled with herbs and powders were laid out around it, the air thick and heady with the mingled scents.
'Oh, Anyanka, I beseech thee,' Giles recited, looking nervously around. 'In the name of all women scorned, come before me.'
'Giles,' Oz muttered, nodding toward the darkness beneath the staircase. A figure was emerging, the silhouette that of a young woman. As she stepped into the light her features were illuminated, the crags and craters outlined in shadow.
'That's her,' Cordelia gasped. 'Eugh, I'd forgotten the extent of the hideousness.'
Buffy knew she was about to die. She didn't feel pain any more, didn't feel cold, didn't feel afraid or angry or sad. Everything was fading into darkness and peace. Somewhere up above a shaft of light opened up, a sense of love and finality washing over her...
A flash of heat and pain seared through her chest. She resisted it, straining toward the light, but it came again, jolting her whole body.
With a gasp, Buffy opened her eyes.
'She's back,' said a voice above her; she turned her head to see a paramedic crouched beside her, defibrillator paddles in his hands.
'Okay, let's get her loaded up,' said another voice. 'Good job we got here when we did, another few minutes she'd be a goner. Too bad the caller didn't leave a name, I bet she'll want to thank him.'
'Yeah,' said the first voice. 'But how hard can it be to find a guy with a North London accent in Sunnydale, right?'
'Do you have any idea what I do to a man who uses that spell to summon me?' Anyanka prowled towards Giles, turning to face Cordelia. 'Or to any mortal foolish enough to insult me?'
'I take it back!' Cordelia gasped. 'Oh, and the wish? I take that back, too!'
'It's too late for that,' Anyanka sneered.
'Okay then, I wish I'd never made that stupid wish in the first place!'
'You only get one, child, but nice try.' Anyanka smiled, centuries of pain in her eyes. 'I had no idea your wish would be so exciting!'
'So Cordelia can't reverse it?' Giles asked. 'Then what price to grant us a new wish?'
'You tiresome man,' Anyanka said, grasping him by the throat and shoving him up against the wall. 'You think you can bargain with Anyanka?'
Giles began to choke, and Oz rushed to help. With barely a glance, Anyanka back-fisted him hard enough to knock him out cold.
'Oz!' Cordelia cried out, rushing to his side. 'Oh, Oz, please don't be dead!'
Nancy hit Anyanka in the back with a mace as hard as she could, but the demon barely flinched. 'Don't test me, child,' she rasped, knocking Nancy to the floor.
Grasping at the hands around his throat, Giles noticed Anyanka's pendant glowing in the low light. Of course! he thought, the pendant is her power centre! 'Nancy,' he whispered, breath fading, 'the…pend…ech…'
'What?' Nancy asked, struggling to her feet in a daze.
'Well done,' Anyanka whispered to Giles with one last powerful squeeze, 'but not quick enough.' She stepped back from the wall, letting Giles's body drop.
'No, Giles!' Cordelia moaned, overcome with grief and tears.
'Anyanka,' Nancy said, bravely stepping forward. 'I wish that - '
'You are not a woman scorned,' Anyanka interrupted, turning towards her.
'Actually, I am,' Nancy said, voice wobbling around the lump in her throat. 'I've been in love with Oz for so long I can't remember what it's like not to love him, and I was just starting to think that one day he might even want me too.' She paled as she glanced at Oz's motionless form, voice hardening as she went on, 'Then Queen Cordelia shows up and suddenly I just fade into the background. So I want her gone; I want a reality where I don't have to feel this way.' She summoned her courage, facing Anyanka squarely. 'I wish that Cordelia Chase had never made this wish, and will never make another for the rest of her life.'
The California sun shone down on the crowds of brightly-dressed kids milling around the Sunnydale High School quad. Cordelia turned to Anya and said, 'I wish Buffy Summers had never…no, wait, why'm I wasting my time wishing? I'm Cordelia Chase – I don't react, I act!'
'But, you said – what were you gonna wish?' Anya called after her, but she was gone in a cloud of Chanel No 5.
'Great,' Anya grumped. 'I thought I had that one for sure.'
Turning, she spotted Jonathan sitting on the steps nursing a gigantic soda, doing his best to ignore Harmony and her clone friends tossing out some hurtful barb as they went past.
Anya smiled consideringly. 'I don't usually do men,' she mused aloud, 'but Hallie's always telling me I need to diversify…'
Mind made up, she wandered across to him. 'Hey, small human,' she said, as friendly and normal as she knew how.
Jonathan checked behind himself. 'Are you talking to me?'
'Yeah, sure, why not,' Anya said briskly, sitting awkwardly beside him. 'So listen – don't you sometimes wish you were, like, some kind of superstar…?