The Entity of Seven

Author: Danielle Frances Ducrest <sword_girl[at]>

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Mutant Enemy, Twentieth Century Fox Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, and UPN. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.

Spoilers: For Buffy, general spoilers for the Master and his lair, general S3 spoilers, more specific spoilers for both parts of "What's My Line?", "Chosen", "Hell's Bells", "Spiral", and various Angel and Buffy tidbits.

Timing: In 1998: after "What's My Line, Part Two". In 2002: between "As You Were" and "Hell's Bells". In 2003: during and two months after "Chosen". In 2007: four years after the end of Buffy. In 2018: fifteen years after the conclusion of Buffy. In 8,000 BC: way, way, way, way (there aren't enough pages in this fic to illustrate how many 'way's there are) before the first episode of Buffy.

Summary: It's a few days before Xander and Anya's wedding, but it's also a few days after the debacle with the Order of Taraka in junior year. Buffy, Faith, and the Potentials are preparing to enter the Hellmouth and go up against the First's army, while at the same time the Shadow Men are merging demonic energy to a human girl to create the first Slayer. Time seems to have ceased flowing in one direction, but Xander seems to be the only one to realize it. Also, there's someone after him and he's determined to get Xander one way or another, and it's all because of a destiny Xander never would have dreamed of having or even wanting.

Author's Notes: Here is yet another story where nothing really happens, where there is a plot but, instead of very drastic changes, everything is returned to pretty much the way they started. I hope you enjoy. I sincerely hope I don't confuse the hell out of everyone with the number of times I go back and forth and forward and backward in time. I also hope I don't confuse myself.

Special thanks go to my amazing beta-readers/editors, Grossclout, aka the Editor from Hell, and Julian Leow.


10,000 years ago, Africa

Before the first human was born on Earth, there were the dinosaurs, and before dinosaurs, there were demons.

Wars between rival demon clans and nations brought about the ice age and the destruction of most of the dinosaurs, not an asteroid as modern science has theorized. Humans and demons alike hunted the rest of the dinosaurs to extinction. When that was done, humans and demons began to hunt each other. At first, it appeared that the demons would ultimately be the victors of the long, millennia-long struggle. Then more and more humans began to be born and they spread all over the known world, taking over lands where only demons once dwelled. It was then that the balance shifted, turning in favor of the humans.

In response, the demons retaliated even further. Spells, mating rituals, power-whatever it took, demons everywhere sought new ways of dealing with the human threat, whether through an increase in demon procreation or through conquests for more and more power that they could use to fight the humans. Slowly but surely, the demons began to regain the upper hand.

The demons were not the only ones to seek magical weapons and allies. Tribal shamans became the first warlocks and witches to ever walk the earth. However, their aid still wasn't enough. The humans needed something else to avoid complete annihilation by their common foe.

It was for this reason that the first Slayer was created.

Many hoped that with her help, the scales would tip in their favor once again. For awhile, it appeared to work. With the Slayer and her successors on their side, the humans were able to destroy a good portion of the demons all over the world.

Many, however, feared it ultimately wouldn't be enough. Three of those people were the same shamans that created the first Slayer. They were known as the Shadow Men for their dealings into dark and mysterious magick; even the demons feared them.

The Shadow Men stood on the crest of a dune. No one else, humans, demons, and animals alike, were around for miles. Strong winds blew through the desert, whipping sand into their eyes, mouths and clothes. The Shadow Men ignored the storm; they couldn't feel it and were not bothered by it. It would soon pass. What was more important was the fate of their world.

"It will not be enough," one of the three men spoke to his companions.

"We must do more," a second said.

The third nodded. "I agree."

Suddenly, their surroundings changed. Gone were the dune and sandstorm. They now stood in a dark, cold cave, the very same cave where they created the first Slayer. The chains that held the girl in place were also there. This time, they were empty.

The Shadow Men stood at three points, forming a square with the chains and the fourth point. The man opposite the chains held a box; the other two held their staffs. The two lifted the staffs off the ground before bringing them back down again. They did this again and again, creating an unmistakable rhythm that echoed off the rock walls.

Thump, thump, thump.

Thump, thump, thump.

Thump, thump, thump.

Thump, thump, thump.

After the eighth sequence, the three men began to chant.

"We call upon the elements."

Thump, thump, thump.

"We call upon the Gods."

Thump, thump, thump.

"We ask them to aid us in our cause."

Thump, thump, thump.

The third shaman opened the box. Suddenly, a wind picked up out of nowhere. A white-black mist floated up out of the box and traveled through the air to the corner with the chains.

They continued to beat their sticks and chant. For several minutes, the mist floated lazily over the chains, but before their eyes, it began to twirl in the air, becoming a miniature tornado. It caused the wind already forming to pick up drastically. As they had with the sandstorm, however, the Shadow Men acted as if it wasn't there. Not even the force of the rapidly-moving winds stilled the constant beat of their walking sticks against the ground.

Thump, thump, thump.

Thump, thump, thump.

"We call the earth to create," they chanted without even raising their voices. Despite that, they could still hear each other clearly over the magical storm.

Thump, thump, thump.

"We call upon the water to nourish."

Thump, thump, thump.

"We call upon the wind to animate."

Thump, thump, thump.

"We call upon the fire to give life."

Thump, thump, thump.

The three men repeated these four phrases over and over and over again. Slowly, as the hours went by, something began to take form within the swirling black mist.

Two days of chanting later, that something would take the form of a newly created being. He would appear to be a man, but he wasnt.

His purpose was something much greater than a mere man could provide.


England, 2028

He had been a Watcher for close to forty-eight years now. Of course, if he included the years he spent in training, beginning at the age of ten, that service was more like sixty years. It didn't matter; either way, it still felt like a long, long time ago, much longer than it actually was.

So many things had happened to him, perhaps too many things. Many of those things were dark moments in his past while others were very fond memories. Still, Rupert Giles was looking very forward to retirement in another year or so.

He'd already laid down the first steps toward leaving the Watchers, but it would take a while for all of the steps to be implemented. He was the Head of the Council, after all; it would take a while for all of the Watchers and Slayers to decide on a new leader. At least the Potentials and the Watchers-in-Training didn't get to have a say; there was enough controversy among the decision-makers as it was.

Giles personally planned to recommend one Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, who had been his right-hand man for the past quarter-century. It was still too early for that, though. For one, he needed to discuss it with Wesley first.

That would have to wait until the next day, however. Tonight, he was visiting his sister and her family.

Rupert Giles' family rarely ever got to see him. Most of them weren't Watchers and therefore weren't involved in Council business, which took up quite a bit of his time since he had moved back to England. When he did go to visit them, Giles was always asked to tell a story about his time as the Watcher of the longest-surviving Slayer in history.

Buffy Anne Summers was now legend to all who heard about her. Buffy had been called as a Slayer at the age of fifteen and, after dying twice, she went on slaying for two years. That was before the spell that was performed by the just-as-famous Willow Rosenberg. The powerful witch's spell called on all Potentials, transforming them into Slayers within only a few moments.

Since then, Slayers had come in seeming abundance, although they were no less needed. The Council had changed many of its practices after the death of Quentin Travers. Together, Giles and Wesley had spent the last two and a half decades changing the council for the better. Every Slayer found was treated with respect and as the people they were, instead of just as weapons. New Watchers also needed to be trained, and they had their hands full finding competent ones that would treat the Slayers fairly.

Buffy Anne Summers stopped Slaying on a regular basis. Instead, she devoted her time to training the new Slayers with Faith. However, once every Slayer had been found and trained sufficiently, Buffy returned to Slaying. She retired from that life at the age of forty-five, and Faith was getting ready to do the same. Many of the other Slayers were more than capable nowadays to take their places.

Giles needed to remember to call Buffy; her forty-seventh birthday was coming up. He still couldn't believe that his Slayer had managed to live for that long. It didn't help to have nearly five hundred other Slayers around. Unfortunately, that number became lower and lower with every passing year.

Half of the Slayers that had helped to take down the First Evil back in 2003 had returned to their families and homes, while the other half stayed to complete their training and help with the slaying. Over the next few years, the new Watchers Council, acting under Willow Rosenberg's direction, located all of the other newly-activated Slayers. Not all of the new Slayers were old enough to make decisions on their own. Ten or twenty of them hadn't even been over the age of five. All of the parents of those Slayers had decided to keep their daughters out of the Slaying for now. Ten or so years later, over half of those same Slayers had decided to take up the Slaying mantle.

Overall, about sixty-five percent of the Slayers activated through Willow's spell ultimately joined the side of the light. A smaller percentage went through training before deciding to be on stand-by in case they were needed; very few of them were, fortunately.

The worst news for their side was that Willow's spell only affected Potentials that were already born. While many Slayers managed to retire after Buffy and Faith, many of them didn't live long enough to do so. A new Slayer wasn't called after each woman's death. Wesley theorized that a new Slayer would be called either after the last of this batch had been killed, or after Faith's death. In the meantime, their number grew smaller and smaller every decade.

Giles' sister, her husband, one of her two brothers-in-law, and some of their children knew all of this. Giles' sister wasn't a Watcher, but her husband and brother-and-law were, along with her two oldest children and her nephew. Still, whenever the entire family got together, they made an effort not to speak about Council matters. However, nothing excited Giles' younger nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews more than to hear tales of Giles' many adventures with Buffy and the rest of the alleged 'Scooby Gang'.

When Giles arrived at his sisters' house in Bath, his great-nieces and great-nephews ran out to meet him. Everyone enjoyed his visits, and he enjoyed seeing them. After an excellent meal that was cooked by several members of the family, all of them gathered around in the parlor to hear yet another one of Giles' stories. Even some of the adults were close to begging him to tell a story before all of them were even seated.

Giles only smiled, amused at their antics. "Oh, all right," he finally consented, as if it was a great burden to him.

Shouts of relief and excitement rang throughout the room, and not just from the kids.

Giles smiled at them before taking a deep breath. "What to tell you today..." He thought, long and hard, while his family waited in anticipation. After what seemed to be forever, Giles licked his lips and nodded. "I know exactly what to talk about today. I'll tell you all about Xander..."

"The Entity-Dreamer?" one of his great-nephews, Alex, asked. The young man of only eight wanted to be a Watcher just like his father and grandfather, and great-uncle, and was just beginning to learn everything he could about the man he was named after, one Alexander LaVelle Harris.

Giles nodded. "Precisely. You see, Xander wasn't always known as the 'Entity Dreamer' or other names related to that. He started out as one of the bravest, and perhaps one of the stupidest, young men I've had the pleasure of knowing." He chuckled. "Of course, he's not so young anymore, but he was when I met him."

"Today, I will tell you how he came to be known as the Entity-Dreamer, or more accurately, the Entity itself. It began early on in the spring of 1998. Buffy Summers was half-way through her junior year of public high school. I'd been Buffy's Watcher for close to a year by then, and I'd known her friends for just as long. Little did I know just how special her friends really were."

"It all began when there was a break-in at the former Watcher Headquarters in London..."


February/March, 1998


The Headquarters of the Watcher's Council prided themselves on the finest security in the world.

In the supernatural world, it was. In the technological world, it sucked.

Magical barriers similar in nature to the anti-muggle charms from J. K. Rowling's famous book series kept unwanted persons or creatures out. Unwanted persons ranged from Fyarl Demons to the common vampire to the average Girl Scout selling cookies. Only Watcher Council members and Watcher trainees were allowed entrance; all others would pass by the building without sparing much thought for it. The spells also prevented any offensive spells and magical weapons from entering the building without setting off alarms.

Four and a half years in the future, when a non-supernatural bomb would blow Headquarters to smithereens, the surviving council members would finally come to realize a glitch in this nifty little spell. However, back in 1998, Headquarters was believed to have the best protection on the planet, and its security measures weren't about to be re-designed.

Other defenses, both mystical and in the form of guards loaded with crossbows, swords, and the occasional handgun loaded with silver or wooden bullets, stood watch over every inch of the building. The Watchers were prepared for everything...or so they thought.

After all, who would even consider using modern weapons to break into Watcher Headquarters? The idea, and it never progressed past an idea, was absolutely absurd.

When the red-haired man stepped inside the building, no one paid him any heed. He was a little-known Watcher trainee; most Council members tended to ignore trainees, and with him it was no different.

The magical detection spells surrounding the building failed to pick up what was hidden inside his jacket.

The redhead, known as Sam to the few who knew him, walked past the guards stationed on the ground floor and up three flights of stairs. The third floor of the building housed various artifacts the Watchers obtained over the years. Everything from swords to amulets to a few household knives was stored there. Sam had been assigned to that level for part of his training.

Green and white tiles created a checked pattern on the floor. The third floor corridor was mostly empty. There were a few paintings and tapestries depicting famous battles fought by Slayers in the past. Three doors lined either side of the corridor; all of them were locked, and each was labeled with a number. The first door on the right, #1, led to a room filled with the rarest and most valuable books the Council possessed. Other, less powerful books were kept on the floor-length library on the second floor; these books, locked away where few eyes ever glimpsed them, were books the Councils enemies had been searching for thousands of years.

Rooms #2 and 3, the other two rooms on the right, houses sacrificial knives, swords, and others weapons with supernatural, spiritual, and physical significance. The Council had collected so many of these over the years that a large portion of the bulky weapons were kept in Room #4, the first room on the left.

The last two rooms on the left contained powerful and dangerous objects that couldnt be classified into the other two divisions. Everything from crystal balls to cursed candles to enchanted objects was locked away within these two rooms. It was there where Sams interests lay.

At the opposite end of the hall, a seventh doorway stood open. This doorway led into the office of Sams supervisor. Sam walked across the hall to the doorway, his footsteps echoing across the tiles. He found his supervisor, an older man named Charles Green, sitting at his desk, hunched over an axe Sam recognized from Room #2. Charles appeared to be engrossed in his work; he probably hadnt heard Sam approach.

Sam cleared his throat, making Charles jump. "Sam! I didnt see you there."

Sam smiled. "Obviously."

Charles set the axe on his desk and began to stand up. "Ive been going over the translation for the inscription on this axes handle. I believe there may be some correspondence between it and the inscription I read in a book once while I was assigned to the library. I was hoping that between the two of us we could find the blasted book again; Lord knows the new librarians couldnt find their own noses if a Grauchal Demon ripped them off and showed them to the ponces."

He made his way around the desk and began to walk out the door, motioning for Sam to follow. Sam held up a hand in his path, stopping him before he could make it into the corridor.

"Im afraid we wont be able to do any book hunts today, Mr. Green," he said. His voice had suddenly gone cold, colder than Charles had ever heard him speak.

Charles tensed and regarded Sam with new, suspicious eyes. "Oh? And why is that?"

Sam reached into his jacket and withdrew his gun. Charles eyes widened as he took in the barrel equipped with a silencer.

Sam fired. The bullet slammed into the older Watcher, knocking him off his feet.

Sam stared dispassionately down at the unmoving man. He re-holstered his weapon before kneeling down and grabbing the key ring dangling from the dead mans belt.

He stood up, turned and left the office. He then proceeded directly over to the door of Room #5 and unlocked it.

The medium-sized room beyond was overcrowded with magical baubles. Sam closed the door behind him and grabbed a plain chest off of a shelf. He placed it on the floor, knelt down and unlocked it.

As he opened it, brilliant, pulsating light, brighter than the weak overhead fluorescent lights, bathed the room. The light originated from what appeared to be a perfectly spherical object lying in the center of the chest on a cushion of velvet. The sphere was made of something crystal-like and translucent. Within it, a pulsating and swirling cloud of white seemed to radiate with energy and life.

A whispered voice echoed within his mind. "What answers do you speak?"

Sam knew that the sphere was talking to him. His excitement grew, although he didn't let them show.

"Ask your questions, and I will answer them."

"Are you the Third Entity?" Sam asked.

"I am the Third of the Entitys Seven. I am also known as the Third Entity, yes, as well as the Third of the Entity of Seven," replied the pulsating sphere. "I am the Entity of Knowledge. I provide correct answers to all questions asked of me."

A small, cold smile spread across Sams face. He reached into the chest, grabbed the sphere and dropped it in his jacket pocket. The sphere was bulky, but if he kept a fist pocketed over it, it would likely go unnoticed.

He closed the chest and placed it back on the shelf, careful to reposition it exactly as he found it. Then he opened the door and walked back into the corridor before beginning the trek back to the stairwell.

"Accerso moenia!"

A purple energy barrier sprang up before the stairwell. Identical barriers appeared over the windows and the doors, blocking every route of escape. An alarm sprang up, echoing through every floor of the building.

Sam froze before whirling around. He stared, dumbfounded, at what he saw.

Charles stood just outside his office door, completely unharmed.

He held up the bullet from Sams gun. "Do you think youre the first person whos tried to kill me?" he questioned, venom in his voice. "Do you really think I wouldnt be prepared for another attempt?"

"Personal shielding spell," Sam guessed.

Charles nodded. "Smart boy."

He began to make his way across the room. Sam didnt bother taking out his gun; if it hadnt worked the first time, it wouldnt work the second time. He simply waited, tense and ready, as the older man grew closer.

Charles stopped only feet away from Sam. "I assure you, boy, I may appear to be old and frail, but Im still the superior fighter."

"Well see."

Sam threw several punches that Charles easily blocked. He switched to a kick that Charles jumped back to avoid.

Charles held up a hand and shouted out an incantation. A blue swirl of energy left his hand and impacted with Sam's chest before the Watcher-in-training could duck out of the way. Sam sailed through the air before crashing against one of the doors and sliding to the floor.

During Sam's flight through the air, his gun fell out of his jacket and onto the tiles. Charles picked it up, stifling a groan when his back protested the motion. He was partially bluffing when he told Sam he was the better fighter; he had more experience than Sam, but it had been awhile since Charles possessed the proper physique. The spell had taken a lot out of him as well, and now he was panting more heavily than Sam.

Sam shakily got to his feet. Charles brought the gun up and took aim.

There was an angry, almost manic look in Sam's face. He didn't even seem to notice the gun as he charged wildly at Charles.

Charles fired.

The bullet slammed into Sams chest.

Sam collapsed onto the floor. Charles kept the gun aimed on him as he approached, but Sam didnt move. Charles knelt and checked for a pulse. He couldnt find one. Unfortunately, that did not necessarily mean that he was dead.

Footsteps announced the arrival of someone on the landing. Charles glanced over to see another Watcher glancing through the purple barrier into the room. "Great Scott!" she exclaimed. "What in the Lord's name happened?"

"Get the guards from downstairs," Charles told her. "Then get Travers and tell him the trouble's on this floor."

She nodded before disappearing down the stairs.

"Discedo moenia," Charles intoned. The building's emergency energy barriers disappeared and the alarm stopped. While he waited for the guards to arrive, Charles cautiously searched Sam's pockets for clues of whatever it was Sam wanted. He kept the gun at the ready in case Sam suddenly sprang back into action, but the boy didn't stir.

His hand discovered a lump in Sam's left jacket pocket. He reached in and withdrew his keys and the sphere.

Charles stared at the sphere, curious. He recognized it, of course, but he couldnt understand why Sam had wanted it. As far as he knew, it was a crystal ball believed to have been used by a powerful witch in the second century. If that was all it was, why would Sam have gone to all that trouble to steal it? There were much finer crystal balls available at the magic shop down the street.

Quentin Travers, the head of the Council, arrived at the same time as the guards. Charles gestured at the body and told the guards, "Take it to the basement and have it incinerated. We can't take the chance that he'd survive a bullet wound."

"What the hell happened here?" Travers demanded. "Charles, what do you know about this?"

"I know that our young trainee here was more than he appeared to be," Charles replied. He held up the sphere. "What do you know about this?"

Travers took it and frowned at it. "This is what he tried to steal, I presume?"


"We'd better have it checked out, then."

"Of course," Charles said, holding in a frustrated sigh. He didn't bother making any comments about the Council's lack of good security, nor did he bother telling Quentin to stop treating this like it was all in a day's work. Arguing with Travers never amounted to anything. All Charles could do about it was file a complaint, but even that wouldn't be enough to penetrate the thick skulls of the idiots Charles had surrounded himself with. He had so many hopes for Sam; unfortunately, Charles had prior experience with betraying protigis, and as much as he wished it wasn't so, he hadn't been all that surprised when Sam pulled a gun on him.

One day, the Council would change. When that day came, the Council would run not only full background checks but also hold lengthy and thorough screenings to determine who should be its new recruits. The Council already did both, but not to the level of efficiency Charles desired. That distant day when the Council is changed would also bring much, much better security and more competent guards.

However, he didn't have enough willpower to implement those changes himself, and he would likely never see them put into action during his lifetime. In the meantime, more thieves like Sam would continue to waltz right by their supposedly oh-so-great security.

Charles frowned as he was reminded of the sphere. He wondered if it was mentioned in the Council's rarer book collections, which he had direct access to.

With that thought in mind, he unlocked the door to Room #1 and walked into it. He turned his thoughts away from his feelings of betrayal toward Sam and all thoughts about Sam's body being incinerated in the basement furnace, and instead concentrated on the job ahead.

After all, other thieves may come back and try to steal the sphere. If that happened, Charles intended to be at least one Council member who was prepared.


Sunnydale, same year (1998)

Xander dreamed.

Dreaming was a common, normal occurrence for anyone. This night, however, his dreams were more than dreams.

He saw an amulet dangling from a chain. A man with red hair picked it up off of a wooden surface and put it around his neck. When the red-haired man glanced up again, his eyes glowed.

Xander saw another man, this one appearing distinctively Giles-like, copying what looked like Sumerian text from an old stone tablet onto a pad of paper. Xander saw the same red haired man creep up behind the man before raising an axe and bringing it down, stabbing the seated man in the back.

He saw the redhead grab a crystal ball out of a box. Then he saw a group of people, all Watchers, sitting in a circle around another box. The redhead appeared behind the circle and the seated people sprung into action to defend whatever was in the box. The redheaded man defeated them all before stealing away with his prize.

A third box flashed by in his mind, followed by a spell involving a fourth box and another scene revolving around a scythe. In each image, the redhead made an appearance, stealing each object each time.

After the images had flashed through his mind, a message took their place.

We are parts of a whole. We are the Seven Entities. We are the Entity's Seven. We are the Entity of Seven.

He saw the amulet again. It spoke to him, saying, I am the First. I am the Body.

The tablet re-appeared, and the voice said, I am the Second. I am the Memories.

The crystal ball said, I am the Third. I am the Knowledge.

I am the Fourth. I am the Mind, a shimmering, glowing, liquid-like something lying within an open box told him.

Another of the boxes appeared. This one contained something solid but it was also shimmering and glowing. It looked like a star, and not just a five-pointed pentagram but an actual star taken from the sky. I am the Fifth. I am the Soul, it whispered to Xander.

An image of three people standing in a triangle took the place of the Fifth. They stood around some sort of energy ball that hung suspended in the air, and they were chanting. The other box Xander had seen earlier lay open on the ground. Xander heard the voice in his mind again, but he knew that the energy was talking to him and not the chanters. I am the Sixth. I am the Spirit.

The seventh and last image flashed across his mind once more. In it, the red-haired man clutched the scythe in both hands. I am the Seventh. I am the Essence, the scythe told Xander.

The seven objects spoke as one once more. We are the Seven. We are the Entities.

Xander sprung awake and up into a sitting position, panting. "What a dream," he muttered as he tried to regain his breath. He couldn't remember ever experiencing anything more intense. It was like what he thought a Slayer dream would feel like, but how could that be? He wasn't a Slayer. He wasn't even a Potential; only girls could be Slayers.

They were just dreams, he told himself. After all, what else could they be?

As he got dressed for school, however, he couldn't shake the dream-induced image of the man with brilliant red hair killing everyone in his way.


"I fear that something serious is developing," the voice on the other end of the phone told him. "I thought it best to give you and the Slayer a heads up. Heaven forbid that any of the ponces over here will do anything about it."

"Quite right," Rupert Giles muttered into the phone. "Thank you, Charles. Perhaps you could come for a visit some time, get away from the Council for awhile?"

"Perhaps, but not now. I intend to look into this attempted robbery. Lord knows the Council needs me to protect its valuable assets, since they seem to be unconcerned about protecting themselves. It was good to hear from you, Rupert. Best of luck to you."

"Thank you. To you as well."

Giles hung up the phone and sat there for a minute, thinking over what his mentor had just told him. Charles Green's latest trainee had turned out to be an enemy. He had tried to kill Charles and would have succeeded if the old man wasn't so paranoid. Then the young man had attempted to steal a seemingly unnoticeable magical object of unknown power or significance.

It was all very curious and puzzling and Giles was no closer to knowing the reason behind it all than his mentor. Giles had promised to do research, but he wasn't sure what or if he'd find anything.

He heard the main doors to the library swoosh open at the same time he stepped out of his office. Two loud, giggling female voices accompanied by a lone male voice permeated the normal, more peaceful silence that Giles had been enjoying a few moments before.

"Hey, Giles!" Buffy greeted him as she, Willow, and Xander took their usual seats at the library table.

"Good morning," he replied. "How was Slaying, Buffy?"

She shrugged. "Same old."

"What have you been up to, Watcher man?" Xander asked him with a grin.

"Nothing much, actually," Giles admitted, "although I just received a rather interesting call from a colleague who works at Watcher Headquarters."

"Is everything okay?" Willow asked, concerned. She could tell from Giles' expression that whatever news he received, it wasn't great.

"Apparently, there was an attempted robbery. A Watcher trainee tried to steal a magical object. The robbery was thwarted, thankfully, although the trainee died before they could discover his reasons behind the robbery."

"You just can't find good help these days," Xander commented. "So what did he try to steal, exactly? I only ask because I feel the ominous approach of a research party."

Buffy made a face at her teenage friend. "You said 'ominous'," she told him. "You need to spend less time around Watcher-guy."

Xander just grinned and shrugged.

Giles ignored them. It wasn't all that difficult; he'd had a year to perfect his technique.

The Watcher continued, "He attempted to steal some type of crystal ball. Only, unlike most crystal balls that are completely transparent until invoked with the proper incantations, this ball appears to be rather translucent."

"Meaning?" Buffy asked.

"Meaning that the inside of the sphere appears to be made up of a swirling white cloud."

Xander's jaw dropped. He closed it before the others could notice. Why, oh why, did he have the bad feeling that Giles' crystal ball was the same one he'd seen in his dream?

"Does it glow?" he asked, fearing the worst.

Instantly, three puzzled expressions turned to regard him.

"Pardon?" Giles asked.

"Does it glow?" Xander repeated. "Does it glow really, really brightly in a dark room?"

Willow and Buffy turned to Giles, waiting for him to answer. Giles stared at Xander. This time, it was his turn to gap. "How did you know that?" he finally asked.

"Wait - you mean the crystal ball does glow?" Buffy clarified. She turned confused eyes to the boy sitting across from her. "Xander?"

Xander told them about his dream. "I kept seeing flashes of these things, and in each scene this guy with red hair would appear and go all Terminator on the people guarding the things."

Giles got this faraway look. "Could you describe everything you remember?"

Before Xander could even get started, Willow asked Giles, "Do you think it was more than a dream?"

"I'm not sure. It could be."

"But why me?" Xander asked. "Shouldn't Buffy be getting the prophetic dreams? Shouldn't her trustee Slayerettes be prophetic-dream free?"

"Not necessarily," Giles replied. "It's not common, but people who had never shown any indications of the gift of Sight have had prophetic dreams and visions."

"Woah - let's stop the wagon for a minute here. You're saying I might start getting Visions all the time?"

"At this point, it's best not to rule anything out." Giles took a seat at the table. "Now, I want you to go over your dream in detail. If your dream does turn out to be prophetic, perhaps we can then shed some more light on the whole situation."

"Great. You guys do that," Buffy said. She and Willow both got to their feet. "We need to get to class."

"I'll give Ms. Hatkins an excuse for Xander," Willow offered.

Giles quickly wrote one and Willow took it. The two girls left, casting glances over their shoulders at the two men on their way out the door. Xander knew they'd be talking about the weirdness of him getting visions, not that he could blame him. He was seriously wigging already.

He explained everything that had happened in the dream, going into as much detail as he could. After he was done, the two sat in silence for long moments as Giles remained lost in thought.

"The Entity of Seven..." Giles mused aloud. "I do say that sounds slightly familiar."

"And the verdict is...?" Xander questioned after a few more moments of silence.

"Well," Giles began, "I do believe this calls for a research party."

"Told you," Xander muttered, sighing. He began to stand up. "It's lunchtime now. I'll go get the girls and let them know-"

That was when the world changed around him.


March, 2002

One minute, he was in the library. The next, he was staring at a television set in the...Summers' house?

Xander glanced around him wildly. He was seated on the living room couch in between two women he didn't recognize. Wait - scratch that. The woman on the right was Willow, but it couldn't be. Xander stared and tried to remember when Willow had decided to cut her hair and age a few years. She was deeply engrossed in an ancient-looking tome and didn't seem to notice him staring.

The woman on his left suddenly snuggled up against him. Xander turned to her. She was a blonde-haired woman he didn't recognize, although she obviously recognized him. And-was that an engagement ring on her finger?

Xander didn't know what was going on or even what to say, so he remained silent. The sudden click of the television made him glance around again. His gaze suddenly landed on a teenager with long brown hair. He didn't recognize her, either, although she appeared to be his age and he had to admit she was kind-of cute, but in a Buffy way. It was the teenager who was flipping through television channels. A stack of books lay on the ground next to her, but she seemed to have given up looking through them. She finally stopped on the news. Apparently, it was more interesting than Jerry Springer or some kids' cartoon called 'Spongebob Squarepants'.

Footsteps heralded the entrance of yet another woman. This woman was blonde, only she had long, curled hair draped over her face. She carried a bowl of popcorn. When she reached into it, took a handful and popped it into her mouth, he got a clear view of her face. To his surprise, it was Buffy. Like Willow, she also appeared to have aged a few years.

"Anyone want some popcorn?" she asked the others. Willow and Dawn both took some, while the blonde using Xander as a pillow gazed dreamily at her ring.

"What's going on?" he asked, finally having enough.

This comment drew threw puzzled looks. "What do you mean?" Willow asked before depositing a handful of popcorn in her mouth.

"Everything!" he waved at the room. "Willow, when did you decide to get a haircut? And Buffy, when did you become more...womanly?"

"You okay, Xander?" the brunette commented. "It sounds like Anya has been killing as many brain cells as well as-"

"A-hem," Buffy said, glaring down at the teenager.

"Is someone talking about me?" the blonde next to Xander, apparently Anya, asked, coming out of her daydream.

The other women ignored her. "What's the date?" Xander asked.

"It is March 1st, 2002, four days before we get married," Anya answered promptly, once again returning to her daydream.

"Married?" Xander repeated, alarmed. He didnt even know this woman.

Buffy and Willow exchanged looks. "I don't remember you getting all concussed lately. You all right, Xand?" Buffy asked him.

The television suddenly recaptured his attention. The current news story seemed to be about an archeological dig. A very familiar-looking tablet flashed across the screen for an instant, but an instant was enough for him to recognize it.

It was the stone tablet he'd seen in his dream. The new story said that it was one of the items that were stolen a few days ago from the dig site.

The entire world around him shifted again for a second time. It made him feel a little dizzy. When the dizziness faded and his sight cleared, Xander found himself back in the library, seated across from Giles.

The Watcher was waving a hand in front of his eyes. "Xander? Are you all right?" Giles asked, concerned.


School was over for the day. Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, and Xander were walking to the library while Xander filled them all in.

"We were older?" Buffy asked. "Define older."

Xander shrugged. "Just older. Early twenties maybe. It didnt feel like a hallucination or anything, and Giles doesnt think it was."

"Of course it isn't a hallucination," agreed Cordelia. "Nothing that creative could ever come from that brain of yours."

Xander glared at her but didnt respond. He bit down the urge to tell her, That wasn't what you were saying yesterday in the second floor broom closet. He didn't say it, though. For one, he didn't want to deal with Buffy and Willow finding out about him and Cordelia yet. For another, he was pretty busy enough already worrying about what was going on with him. He might have precognitive abilities, and now he might even be able to time-travel.

What was next? Would he find out that he was actually the son of two renegade Continuum members? Would he suddenly appear on the bridge of the Enterprise wearing a Starfleet Admiral's uniform or something?

"Has Giles got any leads?" Buffy questioned him.

Xander sighed and shook his head. "He doesnt know whats going on with me. It could be anything, according to him. He might have found something by now, though. I can hope."

When they walked into the library, they found Giles hunched over several books. He was in nearly the exact position they had last seen him.

"What have you got, Giles?" Xander asked as they sat down.

"Not much, Im afraid." Giles closed the book in front of him with a resounding thud. "I was able to identify some of the objects you saw in your dream, although I have found nothing about an Entity of Seven."

He reached across the table for another book, flipped it open and presented it to Xander. "This here is the amulet I believe you saw."

Xander nodded. "Looks just like it. What does it do?"

"Well, when a human wears the amulet, their soul is pushed to the background, creating room for possession. As long as the amulet is being worn, the persons body is an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Formless demons and souls of the dead are free to come and take over the vessel."

"Yikes," Buffy said. "Remind me to watch out for amulet-wearers while on patrol."

Xander remembered what he heard the amulet say in his dream. "I am the Body," he said aloud, softly. It kind of made sense. Xander swallowed. "What else did you find?"

Giles flipped to another section of the book. "This," he said, pointing to another sketch. This one was of a human holding a small stone box. The human held the lid in one hand and the box in the other. Something shiny and formless sat in the box.

In the sketch on the next page, the light had poured out of the box, striking a demon in the chest. The demon had a look of horror on his face.

"That's the Fifty Entity," Xander said immediately. "The Entity of the Soul."

"That's someone's soul?" Willow asked, pointing to the deadly beam of light. She looked horrified.

"Okay, how exactly does that work?" Cordelia asked.

Giles sighed before leaning back in his chair. "I honestly dont know."

"I think I might."

Everyone turned in the direction of the doors. They saw a man who appeared to be in his late sixties standing there.

"Charles!" Giles said, standing up. He crossed the floor to his friend and developed him in a friendly hug. "What brings you here?"

"What else?" Charles replied. He nodded at Xander. "Ive come about him."

"How would you know anything?" Xander asked, startled.

"I called him," Giles said. "I didnt expect him to get here so fast. In fact, it seems a little too fast."

Charles smirked. "Not for paranoid sons of bitches like me, Ripper."

"And you are?" Buffy asked.

"Oh, forgive me," Giles apologized. "Charles Green, this is my charge, Buffy Summers, and her friends Willow Rosenberg, Cordelia Chase and Xander Harris."

Charles nodded to all of them. "I've been doing some more research since our last conversation, Rupert," he began, "and I've come to a few startling conclusions concerning what Mr. Harris saw in his dream."

Xander's sight suddenly became fuzzy. "Not now!" he groaned. He was finally getting some answers!

Everyone turned to him. "Xander?" Buffy asked.

Xander didn't answer. His eyes appeared to be unfocused.

Cordelia waved a few fingers in front of his face. He didn't react. "What the hell happened to him?" she demanded.

"It is as I thought," Charles said.

"Mind filling us in?" Buffy asked him.

"He phased."

"'Phased'?" Willow repeated, confused.

"Are you sure, Charles?" Giles asked. Buffy's Watcher looked shocked.

Charles nodded. "We'll know for certain when he returns."

Cordelia glanced around the table, giving everyone a disbelieving look. "He doesn't need to return from anywhere! He's sitting right here!"


May, 2003

His body may not have gone anywhere, but his mind certainly had.

When the world settled again, Xander found himself in the guest bedroom in the Summers' residence.

Xander was seated on the bed this time. Standing next to him was Anya. Seated across from him and facing away from him were the brunette teenager and Willow. Seated in a chair in the corner was Giles.

All of them were facing two standing women. One was Buffy; the other was an unfamiliar yet good-looking broad.

He realized almost immediately that there was something wrong with his eyesight. He brought up a hand to his face, only to come across...was that an eye patch?

"It's pretty radical, B," the dark-haired woman said.

He glanced around at everyone again. What was going on this time?

Giles said, "It's a lot more than that." He stood up. "Buffy, what you said, it-it flies in the face of everything we've ever-every generation has ever done in the fight against evil." A smile spread across his face. "I think it's bloody brilliant."

"You mean that?" Buffy asked him. Xander glanced from Giles to her, only to start when he saw what she was holding.

It was the scythe, the very same one he'd seen in his dream.

What was going on? How did Buffy get that scythe? What were they doing now, in the Summers' house? What was bloody brilliant?

A thousand questions flew through his mind, but he kept silent. For one, he only knew half of the room's occupants, and for the other, he wasn't really sure how to broach the subject. "Hi - I seem to have time-traveled into the future and I'm suddenly missing an eye. Anyone care to fill me in on why I've become a cyclops and why Buffy is holding an object I dreamed about?"

He didn't see that going over well. Especially not since the meeting seemed to be breaking up.

Xander stood with the rest of them, unsure of what else to do.

"Watcher Junior to the library," the brunette teenager said as she walked to the door.

"I'll go dig up my sources," promised Giles. "Quite literally, actually."

Anya turned to Xander. "Come on. Let's go assemble the canon fodder."

Somehow, Xander didn't think she was talking about actual canons. "Er, Anya..."

Anya gave him a look that said, 'What?' "It's not like I'd say that to their faces. What am I, insensitive?"

He followed her down the stairs to the first floor. Several teenage girls he didn't recognize walked by. Two glances into the dining room and the living room revealed even more girls, all teenagers.

"Um, you go ahead. I need to - I'll be right back," Xander told Anya. Without waiting for her reply, he turned and walked as fast as he could to the back door. He needed some air.

Scratch that. He needed a mirror to see what the hell happened to his eye, but that could wait.

The back yard, amazingly, was empty. It was day out; his best guess would be that it was morning.

He walked across the back porch and down the steps into the yard. At least the yard didn't look much different than he remembered.

And just when he was thinking that, something tackled him from behind, knocking him face-first into the dirt.


"Surprise," a male voice whispered into his ear.

Xander struggled. His captor's grip loosened a little but still wouldn't let up. "Who the hell are you?" Xander demanded.

"Take a guess."

The pressure on his arm let up for just a second. Xander wrenched his arm free and drove his elbow back, hoping he'd hit something.

He did. The weight shifted considerably. Xander threw the other man off of him and quickly got to his feet.

It was the red-haired man. His expression was one of intense concentration.

"You're dead. The Watchers killed you when you tried to steal from them."

The other man let a small smile appear. "Guess again."

"What is going on?" Xander demanded. "What do you want?"


The redhead let fly a fist. It impacted with Xander's cheek. Xander tasted blood.

Xander struggled to focus beyond the pain, but his eye was watering uncontrollably, making it difficult to see. He also didn't see the fist heading toward his stomach until he felt the wind being knocked out of him.

The back door slammed open. Buffy ran out of the house. "Xander!"

She jumped off the porch and didn't hesitate to beat the crap out of the redhead. She delivered two rapid-fire punches and one kick before he could retaliate.

The man scowled as he backtracked away from her. She began to advance when he suddenly disappeared in midair.

Buffy hardly blinked. She turned and went to her friend. "Xander, are you all right?"

"Just peachy," Xander quipped. Yet another guy had managed to pummel the life out of him. It didn't do his ego any favors. Didn't help his aching ribs, either.

By this time, a small crowd of teenage girls had gathered on the porch. She told one of them to get an ice pack.

The world grew blurry again, but this time Xander didn't think it was because he was crying like a wuss. When the world cleared again, he was once again seeing through both eyes, and he was once again seated at the library table.

Cordelia had positioned her middle and index fingers in front of his eyes. When he blinked, she gasped and jerked her fingers back.

He glanced around. Charles Green, Giles, Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia looked back at him. "What year is it?"

"The same year it's been since New Years'," Buffy answered, raising an eyebrow.

"It's 1998," Charles answered.

"Oh, thank God," Xander said under his breath, leaning back in his chair. He turned to Charles. "Okay, Watcher-man. What's happening to me?"

"I believe you are connected, physically, magically, and emotionally to the Entity of Seven."

"Giles mentioned that," Xander said. "What exactly is the Entity of Seven?"

"The Entity of Seven are seven ancient, enchanted objects that have existed for as long as the Slayers have been called. They possess enormous power, and some possess destructive abilities. The entities are the seven objects you saw in your dream: an amulet, a tablet, the crystal ball Sam tried to steal, a locating crystal which can find anyone or anything when told to do so, and two magical weapons. One weapon is a physical one, a scythe, and the other is made up of pure energy."

"That's six objects," Willow pointed out.

"Yes," Charles agreed. "The other object, which is actually the Sixth of the Entity's Seven, is also pure energy, but it is not contained. It is the most wide-spread and most active piece of magic in the world."

"Care to elaborate?" asked Buffy.

"The Sixth object is believed to be one of the key components in the de-invitation barriers protecting private residences from vampires."

"Woah," Buffy commented after a moment.

"Seconded," Willow said.

"What does that have to do with me?" Xander wanted to know.

"I'm getting to that," Charles said, a little irritated. His expression was similar to the look Giles had whenever he was interrupted. Now Xander knew where the G-Man got that characteristic.

"The Entity of Seven is rumored to have once been a person. More specifically, a man. It is believed that this man was transformed into the Entity of Seven in a ritual of some sort. Each of the Seven contained an aspect of the man."

"The First Entity, the amulet, was his physical self; when worn, the wearer becomes an empty vessel, which is supposed to represent the body of the man who was transformed into the Entity. The amulet makes it possible for spirits and bodiless demons to inhabit that amulet-wearer's body. The Second Entity is the tablet; it contains all of the man's memories. The Third Entity, the crystal ball, is the man's knowledge and intelligence multiplied by a thousand; the crystal ball correctly answers all questions asked of it."

"The Fourth Entity is the locating crystal. The Council used it to locate Slayers and Potential Slayers until the crystal was stolen back in 312 AD. The Fifth Entity is his soul; it is the magical energy weapon I mentioned. The Sixth Entity is his Spirit and Will; it is believed that the man had a strong dislike of vampires, and this is why the Sixth was used to create the de-invitation barriers. The Seventh and last Entity is his Essence; it is embodied in the Scythe."

"All of these Entities have helped to keep the balance between the side of good and the side of evil ever since they were created. Some of them, like the Scythe, are meant only for Slayers and a select number of champions to use, while five of the others can be used by either side."

Charles waited a moment to allow all of that to sink in. "As for what that has to do with you, Mr. Harris... I believe you're a Potential."

Xander blinked at him. "Um... Hello? I'm a guy."

"I'm not talking about a Potential Slayer. Im talking about a Potential Entity."

"A what?"

"Whoever or whatever performed the ritual that transformed the original Potential into the Entity of Seven created a failsafe. The Seven Entities are not indestructible; if one or all of them were destroyed, they would have to be replaced. For this reason, the Potential Entities were created."

"Potential Entities are rare; no more than two exist at the same time. They have normal human life spans, and when one of them dies the next one is created. Potential Entities exist to replace the original Entity if it is destroyed, to take its place."

"How do you know Xander is one of these Potential things?" Cordelia asked.

"For one, the dream he had last night. Only Potentials dream about the Entity - not even Seers can have visions of them. Also, it's the fact that Mr. Harris half-phased to those other points in time. Phasing is one of the powers a Potential has."

Xander rapidly shook his head. "No." He stood up. "I don't believe it. I refuse to except that my sole purpose is to become seven magical objects. I'm a human being!"

"No, you're not," Charles said, sadly.

"Excuse me?"

Charles took a deep breath. "All Potentials are created, not born. The two people who raised you may believe that you're their biological son, but it's likely those memories were implanted. You're not human; not quite, anyway."

Xander shook his head fiercely. He needed to get out of there. This was all some crazed nightmare. God, make this just be a nightmare.

He glared at both Watchers before storming past them and out the library doors.

"He must not go alone," Charles said. "If he phases again, he will be vulnerable to vampire attacks, and I know that Sunnydale has a distinct vampire problem." He told Buffy, "Please, you must follow him."

Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia were already jumping to their feet and heading for the doors. "You still haven't explained what exactly phasing is," Buffy reminded him, trying to hide the fact that she was just as wigged out as the rest of them by what they'd learned.

"I will explain it when Xander returns."

The three girls disappeared out the doors. Charles turned to his protigi. "In the meantime, old friend, we have much to discuss."

Giles glanced at the still-swinging library doors. He bit his bottom lip in worry. "Quite right, Charles. Quite right."


When the three girls caught up to Xander, they heard him talking to himself, apparently muttering about what had just happened. They tried to talk to him about it and calm him down a little, but he refused to relax. Too much had happened to him for him to just relax. Buffy could understand that. She had a hard time accepting that she was the Chosen One when she first found out about it two years ago. She was lucky, though; she was human, just like she'd always believed. Xander hadn't even been granted that kind of luxury.

"How about we go to the Bronze?" Cordelia suggested. They were headed in that general direction, anyway. "It'll be fun."

That was another thing Buffy was puzzled over. Cordelia had suddenly become friendlier to them...or was it just to Xander? Something was going on between the two of them, that was for sure.

Buffy shook her head. Whatever it was, it could wait. Whether or not Xander was going to freak was a more pressing matter.

Xander did seem to relax a little when Cordelia laid a hand on his arm. "Whatever," he said in response to Cordy's question. "I don't care."

So they went to the Bronze. They sat at their usual table. The three girls exchanged worried looks. "I'm in the mood for something chocolatey. Anyone else want some?" Buffy asked.

"Oh! Me!" Willow said, a little too enthusiastically.

"Xander? Cordelia?"

Cordelia gave the Slayer an affronted look. "As if! That goes straight to your thighs, you know."

Buffy gave her a mildly annoyed glance, gave Xander one more worried look, then left to get the snacks.

After she'd gone, there was silence at the table. Willow looked around frantically for something to talk about. Her eyes landed on the band currently setting up. It was early evening, and most of the Bronze patrons had yet to arrive.

Her eyes landed on the bass player hooking up his guitar. She remembered him as the guy who'd gotten shot in arm trying to protect her from the insane Order of Taraka person. It looked like his arm had healed, which was of the good.

"Looks like the Dingoes are going to play tonight," she remarked.

Cordelia scoffed. "Whatever." She cast a glare in Devon's direction.

Silence descended again. Finally, Willow couldnt take it. "Im going to go see what's keeping Buffy."

Once she was gone, Cordelia sighed and glared at her sort-of boyfriend. He didn't notice. He seemed to be rather interested in the tabletop. Cordelia decided to do something about that. She whacked him across the head.

"Ow!" Xander complained, glaring at her. She glared right back. "Cor!"

She hit him again. Xander brought his arms up to block her third swing. "Cordelia! Could you not, please?"

"Are you going to stop moping?" she demanded.

"I am not moping!"

"Oh, you so are, Alexander LaVelle Harris! Any more, and I'd think Angel had taken you over!"

Xander growled in frustration. Cordelia raised her hand, and he raised his in surrender. "Fine! I'll stop moping."


Buffy and Willow returned with the food. They grudgingly got Xander to eat some of the chocolate.

"So," Buffy began tentatively, "anything you want to talk about?"

Xander sighed. "I just found out that the only reason I exist is to possibly be turned into seven objects that can be used by not only the side of good but also the side of bad. Nope, not a thing to talk about."

"It's not that bad-" Willow got a glare for her trouble. "Look on the bright side! You get to do that whole phasing thing, whatever that is, oh-and your parents aren't really your parents!"

Xander let out a small laugh. "Guess you're right about that, Wills."

He stood. "I think I need to sleep on this."

"I'll walk you home," Buffy volunteered.

Xander smiled at her. "It's okay, Buff. I'm not going to let the vamps try to eat me or anything."

"What if you phase again or whatever?" Cordelia pointed out, arms crossed.

"We'll all go," Willow said, clearly still worried about her oldest bud.


Two hours later, Xander was wishing he'd stayed at the Bronze. He'd immediately headed up to bed upon arriving home and, as tired as he was, it hadn't taken long for him to drop off. Unfortunately, just like the night before, his dreams were filled with nightmares.

He saw three men wearing desert clothes-African desert clothes. They stood at three points like a triangle. Wait, it was a square; something mist-like stood in the fourth corner.

The three men were chanting in an unfamiliar language. They chanted in time to the beating of their sticks.

Thump, thump, thump.

Thump, thump, thump.

The mist slowly took on a solid form. Dirt swished around, caught up in the funnel. Other things joined it. Little by little, the whole thing solidified into something human-like.

Finally, the mists cleared, leaving behind a young-looking, naked man with unruly black hair. He glanced around wildly at his surroundings as the chains lying at his feet suddenly sprung up with a life of their own and snapped onto his wrists. The man didn't even seem to notice the bindings; in fact, he didn't appear to understand what was going on.

The three desert-drab men kept chanting and banging their sticks. All three of them held a stick now. After what felt like forever, seven objects suddenly appeared in a semi-circle around the dazed man.

That was when Xander woke up, but he had no trouble putting the pieces together. He had no doubt that he'd just dreamed about the first Potential becoming the first Entity. After all, what else could it be?

It certainly hadn't looked all that fun. Xander sincerely hoped that it never happened to him.


The next day, Buffy walked Xander to school. She was still worried about him and didn't want to let him out of her sight longer than she had to. "How are you feeling?" she asked him when she met him at his house.

"Like I found out I wasn't human and that my destiny was to become a bunch of powerful objects," he deadpanned. He sighed. "Really, I am feeling better."

"Right," she said. "Just peachy then, huh?"

Xander snorted.

When they got to school, the two friends parted ways. Buffy had first period math with Cordelia and Willow. Xander had homeroom, but he wasn't really feeling up to spending an hour sitting in a classroom doing nothing. He needed some answers. He headed straight for the library. Unsurprisingly, both Giles and his Watcher friend were there, waiting for them.

Xander sat down across from the two Watchers. "You still have some explaining to do," Xander said. "For one, why have I been have dreams of the...things, and two, why have I been time-traveling or whatever it was I was doing? And three, you said that red-haired guy was dead, but he sure didn't seem that way yesterday!"

Charles and Giles looked alarmed. "You saw Sam? When exactly?" Charles asked.

Xander made a frustrated motion with his hands. "I don't know! It was some time in the future... three, five years maybe. One minute he was there, and the next he wasn't! He just disappeared."

"Perhaps he phased as well," Giles suggested to Charles.

"And I repeat: what is phasing?" Xander asked.

"Phasing is the term applied to the time-traveling method you undertook yesterday. Your mind phased to another time in your life while your body stayed here; after a short amount of time, your mind returned. Phasing is one of the powers granted to the Potential Eternities; it is needed because when a new Entity must be created, the Potential must go back in time to the original Entity creators' time; only they can create a new Entity of Seven. Another power the Potentials have, which you have as well, Xander, is premonitions. You will get visions of events that take place either in the future, the past, or the present. This power is tied into the phasing power; a Potential cannot phase back into the past to change something if he knows the outcome of it. However, if he gets a Vision of something taking place in the future, he can change it."

"The first time you phased, you saw the news story about the robbery at the archeological dig site," Giles reminded him. "Because you know it was stolen, you can't go into the future and prevent it from being stolen."

"Like I could go into the future anyway," Xander pointed out. "I don't seem to have much control over where I phase to. Let's get back to the redhead. He showed up when I phased yesterday afternoon. We fought. He said he wanted me, but he didn't say for what. Then he just up and disappeared-body and all, not just his mind."

"He could have phased just as you did," Charles said. "If that is the case, then Sam is much more than he appeared to be. It's possible that he is another Potential Entity. Also, if he managed to phase his body as well as his mind, then it just means he's had some practice." Charles muttered, "Although how he survived a gapping wound to the chest followed by incineration is beyond me."

Xander nodded. The whole Sam-might-be-a-Potential thing made sense. "You did say that there were two Potentials at one time." He thought over everything he'd just been told. "So I can phase my mind into my future self, and with practice, I might even be able to bring my current body along for the ride. So, what else do I need to know?"

"That's all I know so far," Charles said. He turned to Giles. "Rupert, if I could use your phone? I'm going to call Headquarters and ask them to consult the current Third Entity; it should give us some answers. It should tell us where, or more accurately when, Sam is at the moment as well."

Giles nodded his permission and the other Watcher disappeared into Giles' office, closing the door behind him. When he was gone, Giles turned concerned eyes to Xander. "Are you all right?"

"Just peachy, Giles," Xander said. "Like I told the girls, it's not every day you find out that, not only are you not really human, but the only reason you exist is to become these powerful objects that everyone wants."

Giles winced. "I assure you, Xander, that we will do everything in our power to make sure you never have to become the Entity. After all, Potentials are supposed to have normal life spans. If the other Potentials before you never had to become the next Entity, then you won't have to, either."

Xander sighed. "I really hope so, Giles, but with everything that's been going on... I'm really trying not to get my hopes up."

"Yes, well, it would be prudent for you to begin practicing phasing," Giles said. "That way, you'll be able to control when and where you phase to."

"I'm all for that, G-Man," said Xander.

Suddenly, Charles came storming back out of the office. "I'm being recalled. Something has happened."

"Is everything alright?" Giles asked as he stood.

"Something about several Watchers needing to go to the hospital, and I think Travers was one of them."

"What? Why?" Buffy asked.

"$50,000 says it's Sam," Xander said.

Charles nodded. "A red-haired man was seen fleeing the scene. My guess would be that, despite the warnings I tried to give him, Travers kept the Third Entity on his desk, unprotected. I've long since suspected the man of having a death wish; I suppose now I was right." He headed for the doors. "I'll call as soon as I hear more."

Jenny Calendar, technopagan and Sunnydale High computer science teacher, entered the library at the same time Charles left it. They nearly barreled into each other. "Who was that?" Jenny asked.

"He's a colleague of mine from the Council," Giles answered.

"Anything wrong?" she asked as she came to a stop next to the table.

"A few things," Xander responded.

"Such as?"

They spent a few minutes filling her in. When they were done, her mouth had dropped open, and she was staring at Xander. "You're a Potential Entity?" she asked, disbelief in her tone.

"Have you heard of them?" Giles questioned.

Jenny nodded.

"Great," Xander said enthusiastically, "then maybe you can answer a few questions that have stumped the experts. Why, oh why, would the other Potential Entity be trying to steal the current Entity of Seven and kidnap me? The same Potential Entity that was supposed to have died two days ago?"

"Charles said he never actually saw Sam being incinerated, so it's likely he escaped somehow," Giles pointed out.

"Note my surprise," Xander said with a straight face. "I met the guy. Kind of figured out he wasn't dead."

"He may be trying a revoking ritual," Jenny said, deep in thought.

"A what now?"

Giles, apparently, knew what she was talking about. "A revoking ritual causes some aspect of a person to be removed, correct?"

Jenny nodded.

"By an aspect, do you mean he might try to get out of being a Potential?" Xander said, hopeful. If yes, then there was a way for him to get out of this.

The technopagan nodded again. "It would be a pretty powerful spell. Potential Entities have existed for thousands of years - it's pretty strong magic, and it usually requires some sort of sacrifice."

"That might be where the Entity of Seven fits in," said Giles. "If he destroys them at the same time that he performs the revoking ritual, that leaves only Xander to carry the mantle, at least until Sam's successor appears."

"Meaning Ill become the next Entity of Seven," Xander concluded. He felt panic rising in him yet again. "We have to stop him. He may not have gotten all of the Entity's Seven yet. We have to keep him from destroying them-"

"The only problem is we don't know where to find him," Giles reminded him, "not to mention when."

"I think I have an idea," Ms. Calendar said. She pulled out a chair and told Xander to sit in it. Xander did, wondering what she had in mind.

She explained, "I want you to try something. If you relax, we might be able to find out where Sam is."

"How is me relaxing going to accomplish that?"

"Potentials are linked together. That was how you phased those two times. Potentials can't phase without actually wanting to phase, not without help. Sam could have easily manipulated the link you share to make you phase to other points in time, especially since you were unaware of your Potential status and would offer no resistance."

"Huh. That clears that up," Xander remarked as he thought it over.

Jenny nodded before continuing, "Most telepathic links are only controllable if the person is both aware of the link and focusing enough on that link. Now, I want you to breathe deeply. Hold that breath for a moment before letting it out slowly. Good, now I want you to take in another deep breath. Keep doing that until you're relaxed, and then you should be able to see what Sam sees."

Xander did what he was told. After a few minutes, he felt himself relax. He was actually feeling sleepy now, and it suddenly occurred to him how little sleep he'd gotten the night before. Except for that dream, he'd been too on edge to do anything more than toss and turn the entire night.

Something flashed in front of his vision. Slowly, it came into focus.

Xander was standing on the second to last step in an unfamiliar stairwell. He was looking through the open doorway at the bottom. In the room beyond, he could see two women sparing. He realized one of them was Buffy, and he could tell he was in the future again because she looked about the same age as when he last phased. Buffy was sparing a teenager Xander didn't recognize. Like the other teenager, this one was also a brunette.

Willow sat off to the side. Her attention was focused completely on the fight. "Watch out!" she said.

Distracted, the brunette failed to block Buffy's attack and ended up falling onto her back on the mat.

Willow, looking apologetic, called out, "Sorry, Kennedy!"

The brunette, Kennedy, got to her feet. "Red, I love you, but please don't try to help."

Xander suddenly turned away from the fight and proceeded up the stairs, even though Xander hadn't made a conscious decision to move. It was then that it sunk in that he was looking through Sam's eyes. He hoped Sam hadn't realized it yet or he was going to be in trouble.

At the top of the flight was a landing. A second flight led up to the next floor while an open doorway led into a corridor. Sam walked through the doorway.

Xander could hear girls' voices coming behind several closed doors on this floor. One door on the right stood open and empty of humans, although he could see the edge of a bunk bed. He guessed that this floor housed bedrooms.

Sam proceeded quietly across the floor to the third door on the left. Once there, he carefully opened the door and walked inside. This room wasn't a bedroom but some sort of office. Books lay scattered across half-empty shelves leaning against the walls, and weapons were arranged at random along the floor and on the desk. Lying on the middle of the desk was the scythe.

Xander opened his eyes. He was back in the library, and both Giles and Jenny were looking at him intently.

"He's in Cleveland, July 23rd, 2003." The answer came to him without thought, although why Buffy and Willow would be in Cleveland was beyond him. "He's going after the scythe. I have to stop him. How do I phase?"

"I'm not sure," Jenny admitted. "I think you just do. Try phasing. It might work."

"Try something simple, like phasing to five minutes from now in a different spot in this room," Giles suggested.

Xander closed his eyes again, hoping this would work. He thought of the area behind the library counter, and he thought of five minutes from now.

Suddenly, he felt himself get a little dizzy, just like he'd felt the other two times he'd phased.

When he opened his eyes again, he was standing behind the counter. He looked around himself, amazed, before glancing at the clock. He'd done it. He traveled forward in both time and space.

"He should show up again any minute now," he heard Giles tell Jenny.

"Over here, guys," Xander said. The two adults turned and saw him. "I need to go."

Giles walked over to the weapons cage and grabbed an axe, which he passed over the counter to Xander. "Take this. Good luck."

"Thanks." Xander took the axe before closing his eyes again, this time thinking about Cleveland five years in the future.

When the dizziness faded, he could hear grunting. He opened his eyes and found himself standing on the stairs, just like Sam had done. He could see Buffy and Kennedy sparing in the room beyond the stairwell.

"Buffy!" he called. He got Kennedy's, Buffy's, and Willow's attention. When they saw him, their jaws dropped.

"Xander?" Kennedy questioned. "Is that you?"

"In all my two-eyed glory," Xander quipped. "There's someone here. He's going after the scythe. We have to stop him."

Buffy immediately rushed toward him. Xander turned and ran up the stairs with Buffy, Kennedy and Willow on his heels.

They reached the next floor landing and rushed down the corridor to the third door on the left. The door stood partially open.

Xander raised the axe and burst through the door. He saw Sam standing in front of the desk. His hands were posed above the scythe, and it was obvious he was just about to pick it up.

When he saw Xander and the girls, Sam hurriedly grabbed the weapon. Buffy ran past Xander, jumped and kicked just as Sam was turning around. Sam fell back against the desk. Buffy quickly punched him in the face before grabbing onto the scythe and yanking it out of his hands.

The force of the move dragged Sam forward as well. Unfortunately for him, it brought him closer and closer to the scythe's blade now pointed at him.

Xander felt him phase right before Sam disappeared.

When Sam disappeared, Buffy turned to Xander. "That was Sam, wasn't it?"

Xander didn't hear her. He wasn't certain, but he had a feeling Sam hadn't gone far.

He was right. Sam reappeared behind Buffy. This time, he held a knife.

"Behind you!" Kennedy said.

Buffy turned rapidly, but Xander could she that she wouldn't be in time to block Sam from wounding some part of her. Behind him, Xander heard Willow say something in what sounded like Latin.

Sam suddenly flew backward, knocked back by Willow's spell. Xander was surprised that Willow knew any magic at all.

Sam collided with a bookshelf, breaking it in two. He fell, unconscious, to the ground. Books pilled around him and on top of him.

"Let's get him tied up or something," Xander suggested.

"What good would that do?" Buffy asked him. "Couldn't he just phase out of the ropes?"

"Huh?" Xander asked.

"That's Sam, isn't it? The other Potential?"

"How do you know?"

"It's kind of obvious," Willow said, shrugging. "I mean, you suddenly show up. Not only do you have both eyes but you're also a lot younger, and we all knew to expect you in July when we were in Cleveland while our Xander was in England with Giles."

"So he told you all about being a Potential, huh? What sort of things did he mention? I just learned about and Im still feeling kind of lost."

"We're not supposed to say anything," Buffy said, apologetic.

Kennedy, meanwhile, was leaning over the unconscious redhead. "He's that other Potential Entity you guys were telling me about?"

"In the flesh," Buffy answered.

"So, what? Are we going to just wait until he wakes up?" Kennedy asked.

"Don't have much choice."

Sam suddenly spasmed awake. He got to his feet quickly and glanced around at them all. He had a feeling that Sam was going to phase again. So did Buffy and Kennedy, if their expressions were anything to go by.

Xander closed his eyes and forced himself to relax as much as he could. Suddenly, he knew exactly where and when Sam was planning to phase.

Xander dropped the axe and got ready. When Sam phased, Xander phased with him.

It all happened it a matter of seconds.

Sam phased into the air directly behind Buffy. An exercise bar was attached to the wall. He reached behind him and grabbed hold of the bar before swinging his feet up towards Buffy's back.

Xander phased right into the air above Sam's up-swinging legs. He felt gravity take hold of him, and as he feel, he grabbed onto Sam's legs, dragging them down with him.

Buffy managed to duck out of the way as Sam and Xander collapsed onto the ground in a tangle of limbs.

The weight beneath Xander suddenly disappeared. Xander realized that the redhead had phased again. This time, he didn't know to where or when.

"Where'd he go?" Kennedy asked.

"I don't know," Xander answered as he slowly got to his feet.

A moment later, they found out.

When Sam phased back in, he was holding something round. It wasn't one of the Seven. It was actually more powerful than all of the Seven put together and it had enough power to knock out five hundred Slayers.

Sam pushed something on the object's shell. He spoke one word before throwing it on the floor and phasing out.

The second the object hit the floor, it sent out a shock wave. The four of them tried to run for cover, but they didn't have any time. The shock wave hit them all within a second, knocking them off their feet. They were unconscious before they hit the floor.

The shock wave spread throughout the rest of the building and out onto the street. It spread for a two-mile radius and knocked out every human and animal in its wake.

When Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Kennedy woke up again five hours later, the scythe was gone.


North Carolina, October, 2007

It was a cool day in the Appalachian Mountain range. Most days at those altitudes were. Fall had come and all the leaves had turned from green to a number of colors. Their undersides were pink, but their fronts were yellow, red, orange and brown. Snow had yet to fall and wouldn't for some time, but at night it grew colder with each passing week.

A single cabin, sparsely decorated with furniture, sat on one of these mountains. It was always noticeable from the main road that wound through the range, although its owner was unknown.

When Sam phased into the cabin, he was suddenly bombarded with the chilly atmosphere, so unlike either California, Cleveland, and London put together. He placed the newly acquired scythe on the table before quickly grabbing a sweater from the closet and turning the heater on.

As he waited for the heater to get going, Sam pushed the furniture against the wall. Once this task was done, he dragged a wooden chest from a corner into the center of the room.

The chest seemed in all appearances to be completely solid. Sam knew that any searches for seams where the lid met the bottom of the chest would come up with nothing. There would seem to be no way to get into the chest without sawing a hole through it.

"Yalahin yan Thiala," he said.

A seam magically appeared in the chest. A lock came with it. It popped open before Sam's eyes. Sam removed the lock and pushed opened the lid.

Another illusion spell hid the chest's contents. Sam said the lifting spell and six of the Seven Entities became visible.

Slowly and carefully, Sam removed the objects and set them in order in a half circle on the floor. The missing Entity was the one used in all of the de-invitation barriers on earth; Sam didn't need to physically obtain it, since it was already present in the barrier surrounding his cabin.

When he finished arranging the objects, Sam took a sacrificial knife out of his bag, knelt in front of the half circle and placed the knife on the floor to his right.

He reached into his left pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. He'd copied the English translation of the ritual onto it. Although he'd practiced saying the words a hundred times, it didn't hurt to be prepared.

"I call upon the Entity of Seven," he began.

The cabin shook for an entire second before stilling again. The bed moved an inch, as did the table and the two chairs. Sam didn't take his gaze off of the Seven, and he noticed that, throughout it all, the objects didn't move an inch.

"I call upon the magicks wrought to create them."

The cabin shook for another second, only this time it was even stronger. The two chairs fell onto their sides. Sam struggled to stay upright. Once again, the cabin seemed to shake around the Seven while they appeared to be unaffected by the earthquake.

"I call upon the magicks wrought to create the Potential Entities."

This time, the cabin did not shake. Sam did.

A great forced slammed into him from all sides, shaking him in all directions. Sam braced his upper body with his arms.

The force disappeared after five seconds, leaving him gasping for breath.

When his breath was back under control, Sam straightened before continuing.

"The time of the Entity of Seven has come to an end. It is time for it to be destroyed, and for a Potential Entity to take its place."

"I call upon the magicks wrought to make me a Potential. I call upon them, and I order them to be cast out!"

The cabin shook even fiercer than before while a separate quake hit him with even more brutal force. He fell onto his side and continued to buck, buffeted on all sides by what felt like five hundred pushing hands.

The table fell onto its side and onto a chair, splintering two of the chair's legs. Clothes fell off hangers in the closet, and things fell out of his open bag. The uncovered mattress tumbled off of the bed and onto the floor, partially covering Sam.

Through it all, the Seven stayed completely stationary.

When this quake had passed, Sam slowly got back up onto his knees again. He reached over and grabbed the knife from where it had slid a few feet to the right. He held up his left palm and cut a shallow wound in his flesh.

He turned his hand over and allowed a few drops to drop onto the floor. "I have split my own blood, and I have done so freely. My weapon is the Knife of the Elders, the only weapon forged that can destroy all matter."

Still breathing heavily, Sam slowly got up to his feet. "I call upon the Entity of Seven! I order it to depart its dwelling-places, to become one once more! If they disobey me, I shall destroy them!"

He raised the knife threateningly. If he had to, he would use it. The Knife of the Elders would easily cut through the scythe, the crystal ball, the tablet, and all the others.

He wouldn't need to.

For the first time since the ritual began, the Seven began to quake. The cabin and Sam were undisturbed.

A first, the Seven barely vibrated, but with each passing second they rocked faster and harder until, at last, they were moving so fast that Sam could barely make them out.

Each of the Entity's Seven began to glow with an inner intensity. Each object lost all color and became completely white because of their inner lights.

The brightness suddenly departed from each of the objects. They shot out of the Seven, forming tendrils of translucent energy.

The tendrils swirled around the room in a frenzied manner, almost as if they were panicking and had no idea what to do or where to go. "I order the Seven to become One!" Sam called over the wind the tendrils created in their wake.

The tendrils obeyed. They flew and stayed at the center of the room. They swirled around each other, slowly forming the shape of a human man.

The tendrils glowed even brighter. When Sam could see again, the tendrils had merged into one. The light slowly began to fade.

When it was gone completely, a naked and dark skinned man stood in its place.

The man looked around himself in bewilderment. He saw Sam and asked something in a language Sam didn't recognize.

Sam walked up to the dazed man. For thousands of years, the man had existed as the Entity of Seven. During that time, he hadn't been conscious of any of it, not in the way humans understood it. Sam could understand how that sort of experience could leave the other man looking so lost.

"I don't know what you just said," he told the former Entity, giving the other man a friendly smile, "but I promise everything is going to be all right."

The ex-Entity stared at him with uncomprehending eyes.

The smile disappeared and Sam's face settled back into its normal expressionless mask. He still held the knife. He stabbed it forward and into the ex-Entity's stomach.

The ex-Entity gasped and stared, wide-eyed, from the knife up to Sam's indifferent expression. Slowly, he fell onto a heap on the ground.

Sam held up his left hand. The ex-Entity's blood was now mixed with his own blood. "I have slain my predecessor, and I have done so freely," he intoned. He turned his palm over and allowed several drops to fall onto the blood he'd already spilt.

As each drop fell, the cabin shook again, and this time it was worse than before. Sam was instantly knocked off his feet. The glass in the window broke and the bed frame slammed again and again against the wall, cracking it.

Sam knew it was angry, but he also knew that he had won. He would get what he wished.

"I am no longer fit to be a Potential Entity!" he cried over the noise. "I am a danger to the continual existence of the Entity of Seven, and I must be cast out! I order it, and you must obey!"

The cabin suddenly stilled. Sam gasped, and not just from a lack of breath. He felt something happening within him. He felt cold.

The feeling began deep within his chest. It burst its way out and into his limbs, neck and skull, making him shake all over. He felt his brain freeze from the feeling.

Against his will, his mouth opened wide. Something white and translucent, a single tendril, emerged. It floated up and out of him before dissipating into nothing.

Sam lay there amid the mess that was once a cabin for long minutes that felt like hours. Finally, when he felt he could move again, he sat up.

He tried to phase. After several tries, he gave up. He smiled. It had worked. He'd managed to avoid his fate of becoming the next Entity, and successfully transferred that destiny to the other Potential, Xander Harris.

He let out a relieved laugh. He hadn't needed Harris after all. He didn't need to do anything else, actually. He was completely human now; the life of a Potential Entity was no longer his. Destiny would catch up to Xander Harris soon enough without any further assistance from Sam. The original Entity of Seven had been destroyed. The only Potential Entity alive during the time of its destruction was now Xander. He would become the next Entity whether he wanted to or not.


10,000 years ago

The sandstorm was a strong and dangerous one. It lasted for hours and wiped out countless villages and groups of travelers faster than the people could protect themselves. Entire towns were covered over with sand, suffocating their inhabitants.

Three dark-skinned men stood on a sand dune, observing the storm raging around them. The storm swirled around them but did not seem to affect them. Sand piled up around them, but a second later, the shadow men suddenly stood at the top of the pile once again without appearing to move a muscle.

They ignored the storm; there was nothing they could do about it. Their power was not great enough to control the weather. Instead, they concentrated on what they could do.

Magic connected them to all distant reaches of the earth, both in the present and for thousands of years into the future. All three of the shadow men felt it and recognized it for what it was. It was the cry of a future world very alien to the one they knew. That world cried out for the Entity of Seven. The first Entity of Seven had been desecrated, upsetting the balance greatly. It was up to them to correct it.

"There is only one Potential Entity in that time," one of them commented.

"No," the second said, "There are two, but they are the same. One from that time, and the other from the past. It does not matter which one we choose."

"The other was lost just recently," the second said. "His replacement is even now coming into existence; he is not ready to become the new Entity."

"Then we must summon one version of the other," the third declared. "Xander Harris must become the successor of the first Entity of Seven."

"It is decided," the first said.

The world shifted around them to be replaced by a cave. The shadow men stood at three points of a square. At the fourth point, empty chains, connected to the rock floor, stood empty. It was in this cave that the shadow men had merged the demonic energy to the village girl to create the First Slayer, and it was in this cave that they had transformed the village boy into the first Potential Entity, and then into the first Entity of Seven. It was also be here where they would create the second Entity of Seven.

The three men raised their walking sticks before bringing them back down, easily synchronizing them to thump against the rock face at the same time. They began to champ, settling into a rhythm that accompanied the thumping of their sticks against the ground.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

After several minutes of chanting, the chains rose up off the ground. Xander Harris, the Potential Entity they summoned, appeared with both of his wrists inside the chains. He was the Xander Harris from 1998. It appeared that the young man was unconscious. That would not last long.


When Xander woke up after Sam's magical grenade had knocked him out, he just knew before he opened his eyes that everything had changed. The echoing sound of something being pounded against a hard surface helped, too.

He opened his eyes and took in the three Shadow Men. He recognized them from his second Potential dream. He realized he was standing and looked down only to see the chains wrapped around his wrists. He pulled on them but they held firm.

"Where am I? Who are you?" he demanded.

"We are the creators of the Entity," one of the men answered. Xander knew that the other man spoke in a foreign language he'd never heard before, but he also knew that the warlock seemed to be speaking standardized English. Xander could understand every word that came out of his mouth.

"The first Entity of Seven has been destroyed," one of the other men continued. "You must take its place."

As they spoke, the three men never ceased beating their walking sticks against the ground. They returned to chanting, and after another minute, the seven objects that housed the Seven appeared in a circle around Xander. Xander looked at them all. He felt panic rise within him. "No!" he said. "I refuse to become the next Entity. I'm a person, damnit! You have no right!"

"You exist because of our magick," the third Shadow Man pointed out. "We have every right."

They continued to chant. Their voices grew louder with each passing moment. Xander struggled again but couldn't break free. He closed his eyes and tried furiously to phase out but failed. Something was preventing him from escaping, and he was willing to bet it was the shadow men.

It was hopeless. There was no way out for him, and he knew it. He would be broken down into seven entities and be merged or contained within the seven objects that encircled him. He couldn't do anything to stop it. He'd tried, and he had failed.

He thought about Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Giles, and Charles Green. He wondered if any of them would realize what had happened to him and if they'd find a way to change him back, assuming they could. They had to. He refused to believe they wouldn't be able to. If they couldn't, maybe their future versions could. Anything was possible, right?

Xander felt something at the very core of his being. Something was happening to him. A curious feeling like static electricity shot from deep inside him outwards, running from the tips of his toes to the tip of his scalp. He spasmed uncontrollably, making the handcuffs dig into his wrists.

The objects around him began to glow, faintly at first but gradually building in brightness until it seemed that they were made entirely of light. Another light seeped from Xander's inner core to his skin, growing in brightness with every passing second until every cell of his being was lit with it.

Xander let out a moan that quickly became a scream. He felt like he was being ripped apart. In a sense, he was.

Soon, the light became so bright that it obscured his entire body from sight. Anyone who looked at him would see only pure whiteness.

A split second later, that whiteness burst into seven distinct tendrils of pulsating, white-hot energy.

The tendrils encircled the entire cave wildly, flying in blurs in every direction. The shadow men continued to chant and beat their sticks. They appeared just as indifferent to the tendrils as they did to the sandstorm.

The tendrils peeked into every crack and seam of the cave for an exit and found none. The shadow men continued to chant, summoning the tendrils to join with the objects below. Eventually, the tendrils submitted to their will. Each tendril sought out a host or container, merging with the objects and creating greater and more powerful objects than they were separately.

Xander Harris was no more. Everything he was - his body, his memories, his mind, his knowledge, his soul, his spirit, and his essence - all were now separated. The life he had always known was no more. Now, the Entity that was created from him knew seven separate, timeless existences.

Seeing that their job was done, the shadow men sent the new Entity of Seven forwards through time to when the previous Entity had been destroyed. The Seven appeared, scattered all over the world, in the year 2007.


Cleveland, 2003

Kennedy had a killer headache when she woke up from whatever that magic ball thingy had done to her. She slowly sat up at the same time as Buffy and Willow. All three of them felt around for bruises they'd received because of their lack-of-consciousness induced falling to the floor.

"What the hell was that?" she asked as she stood up. She helped Willow get up on her feet.

"Sleep Inducer," Willow answered. "Pretty much the magical equivalent of a grenade, only the non-lethal kind. Although that depends on the Inducer's range. If it spread out into the streets, it could have caused a lot of car wrecks and such."

Buffy sighed. "Guess we'd better check on the others, see if they were affected. Then we need to hit the streets and help out with damage control. Some vampires might have decided that unconscious people would make good snacks."

Kennedy looked around the room. Sam and Xander were both gone. "Where's Xander?" she asked.

Buffy and Willow looked at each other. "At this moment? I'd say the younger Xander that was just here is being made into the Entity of Seven. That sound right to you, Buff?" Willow asked her friend.

Buffy shrugged. "Could be. Our Xander should show up any minute now."

Kennedy looked from one woman to the other, utterly lost. "Excuse me? Kind of clueless here."

"Okay, you know how Xander's a Potential Entity, right?" Willow began.

Kennedy nodded. "Right."

"Well, he wasn't always. He spent this short time as the Entity of Seven, which is kind of what Potential Entities are meant for. The Xander that was just here phased from the past. He's going to become the Entity of Seven."

Kennedy tried to understand what her girlfriend had just told her. "Okay. Let me see if I've got this straight. Past Xander gets transformed into the Entity of Seven. After he's turned back into a Potential Entity, Past Xander will return to his own time, where he will live out his life as a Potential Entity until this time comes around again."

"Right," Buffy confirmed.

"So what do we do?"

"Nothing. It's all up to our past selves."

"And Xander," Willow added. "Our Xander, I mean. He goes back and helps our past selves. It's all very complex."


London, 2018

"What's with all the time hopping?" one of Rupert Giles' nephews, a non-Watcher, asked. "It certainly doesn't make the story easy to follow."

Giles chuckled. "No, it doesn't, does it? Unfortunately, the lives of Potential Entities are never simple. They're always phasing from one period of time to another and it can all be very confusing. Trust me, I know."

"Anyway, back to the story..."


Sunnydale, 1998

Jenny and Giles waited anxiously for Xander to reappear. He never did. Eventually, Jenny had to leave to teach a class, but she promised to stop by later. Giles was left to pace the length of the library. He tried to call Charles a few times, but the older Watcher either hadn't arrived back in England yet or he was occupied with whatever had happened at Headquarters.

At the end of the school day, Willow, Buffy and Cordelia entered the library, asking him if he'd seen Xander. "We haven't seen him all day and we were wondering if he stopped by. He said he would," Buffy told Giles.

Giles told them what had happened earlier that day. "I fear something terrible has happened."

"He's all right, isn't he?" Cordelia asked, sounding surprisingly worried. "He'll come back, right?" When Giles didn't answer within two seconds, Cordelia stepped threateningly up to the Watcher. "Right?" she asked again, this time while grinding teeth together.

"I don't know," Giles admitted, just as worried as the rest of them. "I sincerely hope so."

Suddenly, Willow let out a startled yelp. Everyone turned in her direction and saw, to their shock, Xander standing next to her.

If any of them had bothered to look closely at him, they would have realized that he was much older than they remembered, as well as other details. However, they were too happy to see him to notice little details like that.

"Xander!" Cordelia ran into the arms of her boyfriend. Buffy and Willow joined in.

"Woah! Ladies, need to breathe!"

Giles was the first one to notice the eye patch. "Xander, what happened to your eye?" he asked, concerned.

"Lost it," Xander said, giving the Watcher a sad smile.

Cordelia slapped Buffy's arm. "I knew hanging out with you would get Xander hurt! Not that I care."

Buffy just gave her a raised eyebrow while Willow glanced from her to Xander with a hurt look.

"I'm actually not the Xander you guys know. I'm from the future."

"How far in the future?" Giles asked, intrigued.

"Over five years," he replied. "I'm here because something's happened to me - I mean, your me. The younger me." He closed his eyes and made a visible effort to backtrack. "I'm here to help you guys get him back."

"What's happened to Xander?" Willow asked, worried.

"He's become the new Entity."

"What!?" Cordelia exclaimed. "Well, we have to un-Entity him! Now!"

"That's exactly what we're going to do," Buffy assured her. She turned an uncertain look to Jenny, Giles and the one-eyed Xander. "Um, how would we do that, exactly?"

"Technopagan witchy-woman over there and Watcher-man need to perform a temporal location spell. It needs seven people for it to work, though."

"Angel," Buffy concluded, since she, Willow, Cordelia, Jenny, Giles, and future-Xander equaled only six.

Xander winced. "Yeah. We need Dead Boy on this one."

"I assume you have this spell?" Giles asked.

Xander nodded before pulling out a couple of pieces of paper. He handed one copy of the spell to Jenny and another to Giles.

"Why a temporal one?" Jenny asked. "Isn't that extremely powerful, not to mention dangerous?"

"I wouldn't say it's particularly dangerous, although it can screw up the time line if you're not careful," Giles answered her. "Although, with Cyclops' presence here, I'm assuming that this might be some sort of paradox?"

"Bingo," future Xander answered.

Buffy and Willow exchanged a look. "Did Giles just call future-Xand Cyclops?"

Willow nodded. Despite the seriousness of the situation, she couldn't help feeling wigged out by that. "Yeah. Don't know where that came from."

"If you guys are done, we do have my past self to rescue," Xander reminded them, smiling. A long time had passed since his Buffy and Willow had been that carefree, and he was suddenly reminded of that full force.

"Right," Buffy said, giving him an apologetic look. "I'm going to go get Angel."

"Why couldn't you do the spell in your time?" Jenny asked.

"'Cause there's one key element that this time has that the future seriously lacks."

"And that would be, what?" Giles asked.

"A strong enough Hellmouth, 'cause as powerful as this one, the one in Cleveland ain't."

Giles, Jenny, Cordelia, and Willow exchanged confused looks. His answer hadn't exactly answered Giles' question.

"There's a Hellmouth in Cleveland?" Willow asked finally.


"You don't smell right," was the first thing Angel said when he saw the future Xander.

"That would be the whole Potential Entity thing," Xander answered. "My younger self just had his Potential powers activated, so you've never smelled them before. The Angel from my time has the same problem."

"You certainly are a bundle of answers, huh?" Buffy said, smiling uncertainly at him. She didn't really know this Xander. He was so different than the one she knew, lack of an eye not withstanding.

Xander shrugged. "Info on Potentials is kind of my specialty. In my time, anyway. I have to be, especially after the Watcher Headquarters-er, I really shouldn't tell you about that, either."

"I think we're ready over here," Giles called. The table had been moved to the side and an intricate pattern calling on the power and strength of the Hellmouth had been drawn in pig's blood on the tile floor. Candles positioned at certain points of the pattern and on the stair railing formed a sort-of barrier between the spell area and the rest of the library.

Seven symbols were interlaced with the pattern. Giles directed each of them to a specific symbol. When everyone was in place, Xander stood with his back to the library doors while the others all stood either directly facing him or partially facing him.

"So, what now?" Cordelia asked.

"Now, we chant," Giles said, taking out his copy of the notes Xander had given him. Jenny did likewise. The two of them stood directly opposite each other at either end of the group.

The two of them began to, well, chant. Sometimes they would speak in synchronization, while other times they would chant separately, saying different lines as if talking back and forth to each other.

Slowly, as their chanting seemed to reach a crescendo as the two of them repeated a single line over and over, the others began to feel something. They could have sworn that felt the Earth far below their own feet begin to quake. Earthquakes too small to feel happened all the time all over the world, but suddenly they felt them all. Cordelia let out a gasp of fear while Willow glanced worriedly from Jenny to Giles. Both of them seemed to be completely focused on the spell they were implementing; if they noticed the quakes, they gave no indication.

Angel stared down at the design below his feet only to see it begin to glow red-hot like lava. In fact, that's exactly what it felt like. Cordelia, Willow and Buffy felt it, too. Angel glanced around at all of the symbols only to see them all glowing. However, when he tried to move his feet, it felt like the soles of his shoes had been melded to the tile floor. Nevertheless, he couldn't feel any pain. The others didn't appear to be in any pain either, although the smell of the others' fear permeated the air. He noticed smoke rising from beneath Buffy's boots. Suddenly afraid for her, he shouted over the noise of the quakes, "Buffy!"

Giles and Jenny continued to chant. Their voices grew louder and louder with each passing line spoken. Their eyes glowed red now, just like the symbols. Oblivious, they kept reading.

In the midst of the chanting, the quakes and the steam rising from the tiles, Angel, Cordelia, Willow, Buffy, Jenny, and Giles alike all felt something deep inside them. It seemed to burn its way up their throats and through their mouths, making them gag on reflex.

Meanwhile, during all of this, Xander stood, calm and still, with his eye closed. He could feel the energy pouring into him from the others, as well as the power of the Hellmouth called forth from far below. Show me Sam, he thought.

Images flashed before his eyes of other times and other places. The same images flashed before the others' eyes. Jenny and Giles were broken out of the chant, and, like the other members of the old Scooby Gang, only stared blankly as their minds were rushed through too many images to process completely.

Some images stuck out more than others. They saw the Earthquake that originally covered the Master's lair over a hundred years ago. They saw Mayor Wilkins dressed in what oddly enough looked like clothes from the twenties. They saw Angel walking through the lobby of a hotel based in the nineteen fifties. Only Angel recognized it as the Hyperion.

They saw Spike dressed in street clothes fighting a black woman who had hair from the seventies or eighties. They saw images of a brown haired man in bad clothes that none of them recognized. The man seemed to be in immense pain. Suddenly, without warning, he sneezed, and his face shifted from a human visage to that of a green-skinned demon with sharp-looking, blue-colored spikes.

Other images flew by before they saw Buffy burning down Hemery High's gym. Then a dizzying array of images from their previous experiences on the Hellmouth flashed by in their minds. After that, they saw glimpses of the future. They saw what appeared to be Sunnydale High blowing up. They saw Cordelia collapse from an intense headache in the middle of a day-lit, crowded sidewalk in what looked like Los Angeles. They saw a woman with long, curly blonde hair dressed in a red dress fighting against Buffy halfway up a tower. They saw the vampiress Darla holding a very pregnant stomach. They saw a boy a little older than they were with slightly unruly hair fighting and holding his own against Angel. They saw Cordelia floating above the ground.

A billion images passed rapidly through their conscious minds, too fast to even register. Many of the images they did recognize they soon forgot as more images came. With each passing moment, more glimpses into parts of their lives that had been and wouldn't be relevant for years to come came and went.

Suddenly, inexplicably and startling, the images came to a halt. The group saw a red-haired man lying on his back amid the wreckage of a wooden cabin. Information popped into their heads at once. They were seeing forward into the year 2007. The place was a few miles away from a public waterfall in the Blue Mountain range of the Appalachians.

The seven of them snapped back to reality. All of them, even Angel, found themselves gasping for breath.

Their shoes and boots had ceased to smoke. The steam had disappeared completely from the air along with the burning smell. Looking down, they could see that the symbols, the pattern and the candles had all disappeared. The soles of their shoes weren't as lucky, but their feet were thankfully okay.

Xander smiled grandly at all of them. "Thanks, guys. I'll get your Xander back to you before you know it."

And with those parting words, he phased to nine years in the future.


North Carolina, 2007

Sam lay in the middle of a wreck once called a cabin. A few hours had passed since he'd done the revoking ritual; the Seven objects had disappeared, summoned back in time just as he imagined Xander had been.

He wasn't expecting anyone to show up. Perhaps he should have, but he wasn't.

Therefore, he was caught completely off guard when someone grabbed him by the neck and hauled him onto his feet, making him gasp for air.

"Surprise," a familiar voice whispered in his ear.

"No," Sam said, his eyes widening. "You're the Entity now!"

"No, Im not," Xander answered, "but I was. Now it's your turn."

And with that, Xander phased, taking Sam with him.


London, October 2007

A lightning storm had begun when Xander and Sam phased into the room. "You've found all of them?" he asked the room's occupants.

Giles spoke. "Yes, the Fifth Entity was just discovered off the coast of southern Australia a few days ago. It has just arrived here."

Three other Watchers, two of them Watchers-in-training, were busy arranging the objects in a half circle on the floor. Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce stood over them, calling out instructions on how to position the objects while reading from a page of a thick, heavy-looking tome. Other Watches milled up, watching the proceedings from a discreet distance near the windows. All but five of the Watchers alive in the world were present; ever since the Council blew up with most of the current Watchers in it, Wesley and Giles had worked hard to restore the council. So far, they'd managed to train eighteen people.

The other person present was the Xander from the year 2007. The one-eyed Xander from 2003 tossed Sam over to his future self. "I believe this is yours."

"Thanks," the other Xander said, grinning broadly.

One-eyed Xander couldn't help notice that this Xander had gotten a new eye. "When'd that happen?" he asked, motioning at his own eye-patched socket.

Giles cleared his throat, giving the younger Xander a disapproving look. "Right," that Xander said, giving him an embarrassed smile. "Well, good luck with him."

The older Xander just gave him a look. His younger self simply grinned before phasing out, returning to his own time.

"I must say, Xander," Giles remarked to remaining Xander. "All of this time-hopping and run-ins with, well, you, it's enough to make me wonder why I haven't retired yet."

"Yeah, well, you can retire after we deal with Sam here," Xander said.

Sam struggled in Xander's arms, but while Sam was the better fighter, they shared the same brute strength on a good day; that day, however, Sam was still worn out from the revoking ritual.

"You can't make me become a Potential again," Sam said. "I don't know how you became a Potential again, but I will not become your successor!"

Wesley stepped forward. "It was your destiny to become the Entity in the first place. The Third Entity," he motioned at the six objects, the ones that still housed the Xander from 1998, "told us all about it. You had a Vision about becoming the Entity, and to avoid it, you set Xander up for it instead."

"And it's time for you to meet your destiny," Xander told Sam.

Behind him, Giles moaned over the terrible line.

Xander forced Sam to walk over to stand before the half-circle, just like Sam had done in the revoking ritual. Xander and another Watcher forced Sam to squat down while the two trainees hurriedly placed bundles of herbs and powders in the shape of a circle around Sam's feet. Before they placed the final element that would complete the circle, Xander and the Watcher jumped back and out of the way.

Wesley spoke a single line from his book. Sam tried to step out of the circle but ran up against a barrier that sealed him in.

"Damn you, Alexander Harris!" Sam said. "If you make me into an Entity, I will find a way to become a Potential again, and then I will kill you!"

Xander tried his best to ignore him. Although he refused to show it, he had a bad sense of foreboding about all of this. Hopefully, all would go smoothly. Otherwise, he'd be responsible for breaking the time paradox that allowed him to exist as a Potential after his past self had been made into the Entity of Seven.

He took the book from Wesley and began to speak, this time in English, shouting over the redhead's angry threats.

"I call upon the Creators of the Entity," he began.

The floor shook, making everyone grasp for better footing on the tile floor. A single portrait fell and shattered on the floor.

Everyone was quiet now, even Sam. A sense of anticipation hung in the air as everyone looked around themselves in curiosity.

Xander took a deep breath and continued. "I call upon the magicks that created the Entity of Seven."

Once again, the floor shook. Two more portraits fell.

"I call upon the Entity of Seven."

"I call upon the Creators of the Potentials."

A roar filled the room as a wind picked up. Apparently, the shadow men, dead for ten thousand years, did not like to be summoned in this way. Xander, grim-faced, continued, raising his voice a pitch to be heard over the wind.

"I call upon the magicks wrought to create the Potential Entities!"

The wind ceased. Xander began to shake, as if grasped by an inner earthquake. Wesley and another Watcher moved to either side of Xander to keep him upright.

Seconds later, Xander stilled. Taking several deep breaths, he continued. "I call upon the magicks wrought to make me a Potential. I call upon the magicks wrought to make he who has revoked his Potential, he who is offered here today!"

Sam cried out as he was rocked by an inner quake. The floor, walls and ceiling shook with him. The remaining portraits fell, two Watchers lost their balance, and one of the cords holding the chandelier to the ceiling snapped.

A sword attached to the wall bounced off its bracket and to the ground before rolling, slowly but surely, across the floor toward Sam. In the cacophony, no one paid much attention to it, and no one thought to stop its movement. No one, not even Sam, noticed when the pommel of the sword collided with a bundle of herbs that helped form the circle boundary around Sam. Its movements dislodged the herbs, breaking the circle.

"I call upon those magicks, and I order them to be cast back into he who wished to escape them! He wished to escape his destiny; he can not be allowed this!"

Just like the last time, Sam felt a coldness develop inside him. It worked its way to his fingers, toes and scalp.

His mouth opened against his will, just like in the revoking ritual. This time, the white, translucent tendril that exited him suddenly appeared before him before forcing its way into his mouth and down his throat.

He collapsed and spasmed. The room shook even harder than ever before suddenly, inexplicably stilling.

For a moment, silence reigned. Sam stayed on his knees, gasping for breath. The seven objects were the only things in the room that hadn't misplaced.

"Is it over?" a female Watcher asked after several seconds of silence.

The second cable holding up the chandelier snapped and it fell, crashing, to the ground, startling everyone.

"Of course," Giles muttered. "It didn't seem complete without every single thing in the room being trashed."

"Is everyone alright?" Wesley asked. Everyone said yes.

Xander closed his eyes. The connection between Potentials was back. He felt Sam again, just like he felt the presence of the Entity of Seven when any of it was near.

Sam felt it, too, and he hated it. "Damn you, Harris."

"You've said that," Xander remarked as he closed the book and handed it back to Wesley.

"So, what now?" the female Watcher asked.

"Now I take Sam to see the Shadow Men," Xander said.

Sam tried to get back up on to his feet. He caught sight of the sword pommel in the corner of his eye.

Meanwhile, Wesley had opened the book to another section. He presented the page to Xander. "This spell should render Sam susceptible to your influence through the link you now share with him. You'll be able to force him to phase with you, perhaps even keep him from offering any resistance. It'll be similar to what Sam did to you back when you first came into your powers, when he forced your 1998 self to phase your mind into the bodies of your future selves."

"How on Earth do you keep all of that straight?" Giles asked Wesley. Wesley just shrugged.

Sam grabbed the sword and got to his feet. "You won't get the chance to cast that spell," he said. "I won't become the Entity."

He phased.

"Shit!" Xander cursed. For the first time, he noticed the break in the circle.

He closed his eyes, concentrating, searching for Sam. The restored link should make it easier to locate Sam without need for the temporal searching spell.

He felt Sam resisting his probes, but Sam was still too drained from the revoking and restoration rituals to be able to resist for long. After several moments, Xander was able to determine Sam's whereabouts.

"See ya," he told the Watchers before he, too, phased out.

"Good luck," Giles muttered. Only Wesley heard him, and he wholeheartedly agreed.


1995, Sunnydale

When the 2007 Xander phased back in, he wasn't in London anymore, nor was he in the year 2007. He was, in fact, standing on the landing at the top of the steps in front of a very in tact Sunnydale High School, the very same building Xander attended for four hellish years. It was nighttime. The year was 1995, months before Xander met Buffy Summers for the first time.

Xander had feared that Sam would go after Xander's young self and hold him hostage until Sam was allowed to perform the revoking spell again, but he was wrong.

An arm snaked around his throat from behind, making him gurgle. Before Sam could bring the sword up against his neck, however, Xander brought his head back sharply, connecting loudly with Sam's forehead.

Sam immediately grabbed his head in pain. Xander's own skull was ringing, but he still took the opportunity to step away before turning to face the other Potential. The two of them now stood on opposite ends of the concrete landing.

"Surprise," Xander said, throwing Sam's word from earlier back at him.

Fury showed clearly on Sam's face. He raised the sword and pointed it at Xander. "You won that round, Harris," he said. "You made me a Potential again, but guess what? I can still get out of becoming the Entity."

"What? Going to turn me over to them?" Xander asked. He'd already guessed as much.

"Wrong. I'm going to kill you, then once I locate your successor, I'll turn him over to the Shadow Men. Believe me; they have no qualms about turning a child into the Entity."

"I'm not going to let you," Xander promised.

Sam lunged with the sword. Xander easily ran out of the way. The sword imbedded itself into the concrete flowerbed.

Sam tried to yank it out but couldn't. After a few minutes of trying, he gave up on it and turned away from it. Xander had retreated to the opposite side of the landing.

"Do you know why the Shadow Men will choose you to be the next Entity instead of me?" Xander asked.

"They won't get the chance."

Xander shook his head sadly. "You saw it, didn't you? All Potentials are warned beforehand in a dream that they would soon become the Entity. If it's one thing I've learned about this whole Potential gig, is that we can't change something if we already know its outcome."

Sam shook his head. "It was a dream. Prophetic dreams show possibilities, not certainties."

Xander nodded. "True. But it's a pretty likely possible outcome, wouldnt you say? Think about it. Why would the Shadow Men want to choose you over me? What were you doing before you had that dream, Sam? Living a normal life, laying low? Doesn't exactly help keep the balance, does it? You weren't doing anything to contribute to the fighting, while I was. The Shadow Men would prefer to keep me as a Potential, if they can help it. You may have changed that for my younger self, but-guess what? I'm here, as Potential, which means I didnt stay the Entity for long. Doesn't bode well for you, Sam, seeing as how you've failed to make me the Entity permanently and you're not doing so well with your whole killing-me plan."

Enraged, Sam lunged wildly at Xander. Xander didn't move. Right before Sam's punch would have landed, Xander grinned and said, "Catch me if you can."

Then he disappeared. Sam's fist hit only air and the Potential almost lost his balance. He let out a growl of frustration before taking a few soothing breaths and closing his eyes, searching through the link for the other's location.

Before he left, he wrenched the sword out of the flowerbed. Then he phased out.



2028, Bath, England

"So, what happened next?" Giles' sister asked.

Giles only smiled knowingly before turning to one of his Watcher nephews. "Sean, could you go get the item that is in the back seat of my car? Make sure it's loaded."

Sean gave him a puzzled look but did as requested. Everyone exchanged bemused looks until Sean came back holding a tranquilizer gun. It wasn't just any tranquilizer gun, either; all the Watchers in the room recognized it as an old model, one that was at least thirty years out of date.

Giles took the gun from his nephew. "Thank you, Sean." Sean only nodded before returning to his seat.

Giles turned to his family. "What happened next?" he repeated the question. "Well, what happened next is about to take place... right about now, as a matter of fact."

Before any of them could say a word, Xander Harris from 2007 phased into the room. Everyone jumped out of the way, startled.

Giles stepped forward and handed the gun to him. "I believe you were looking for this?"

Xander flashed him a wide smile. "Thanks, G-Man." He waved at the room's occupants. "See ya." Then he phased out, leaving behind a dazed group of people.

They watched as Giles casually retook his seat. "Now, where was I?"


1998, Sunnydale

When the 2007 Xander phased into the library with the gun, everyone there was startled out of their wits. Only moments had gone by when the one-eyed Xander from 2003 had phased out. Now, they were faced with an even older Xander who had regained his left eye.

"Everyone, get back!" he said immediately before turning away from them and bringing the tranquilizer gun up into position. He could only hope that Sam had wasted time to remove the sword and hadn't sensed that Xander had made that little trip to 2028 before coming there.

Sam phased into the room, making everyone jump even more.

Sam made the first move. He raised his sword and lunged, swinging. Xander pulled the trigger.

The tranquilizer dart hit Sam in the side. He froze before his eyes rolled up and he toppled over, unconscious, to the ground.

Before the Scoobies could do anything, Xander had turned back to face them. "Catch!" he warned Giles before he tossed the tranquilizer gun. The Watcher caught the gun purely on reflex.

Giles looked over the gun curiously. Xander grinned. "You're going to need that pretty soon, G-Man. Just remember to give it back to me in thirty years so we don't break the time loop, okay?"

Giles didn't even pretend to follow that statement. He just blinked and nodded. "Yes, of course."

Xander grinned again before kneeling down next to Sam and placing a hand on Sam's shoulder. Then the two Potentials phased out.


Roughly 8,000 BCE

They phased to ten thousand years in the past. It was the place every Potential knew how to get to instinctively. Xander stood in an entranceless cave with Sam lying unconscious on the ground next to him. The Shadow Men stood at three points of a square. The two Potentials were at the fourth point.

Xander bowed. When he spoke, he knew he spoke Sumerian, even though it sounded like English to his ears. "I have come to ask for an exchange," he told the shamans.

The Shadow Men nodded. "We are aware," the middle one replied. "We heard your conversation with the other." He indicated Sam with his walking stick.

The one to Xander's right said, "You are correct in your assumption that you are more valuable to us as a Potential than you are as an Entity, while Sam is not. We will return the current Entity, your younger self, to its Potential form and make Sam into the Entity in your younger self's place."

Xander smiled before bowing again. "Thank you."

"Do not take this lightly, Alexander Harris," the third shaman warned him. "We will grant this request, but one day we will ask for a favor in return."

Xander nodded grimly. "I understand."

"Then leave us."

Xander bowed again. "There is one more thing that I'd like to know, Sirs." He waited for a nod from the middle one before continuing. "If the first Entity had been destroyed in a different way, how would Sam have become the Entity?"

"He would not have," the Shadow Man to the left answered. "If he had never destroyed the initial Entity, none of this would have occurred."

"So the Vision Sam had about becoming the Entity was the catalyst for his actions," Xander said.

He received another man. "It was intended to be so."

That certainly gave him something to think about. Xander bowed again, thanked them, then phased out.

Sam just began to stir as Xander phased out. It took him a few moments to realize where he was, and the first thing Sam tried to do was phase out. He found he couldn't; the Shadow Men's power was preventing him. He felt panic and defiance rising within him.

No matter how hard he struggled, in the end, it wasn't enough. The exchange was completed. The Xander from 1998 was transformed from the Entity and back into a Potential, and Sam took his place as the new Entity.


One minute, there was no thought, no consciousness. The next, Xander Harris was re-made.

He found himself back in the library, back in the year 1998 where he belonged. He wasn't sure what had happened. He remembered being informed that he was a Potential Entity, and he remembered going to the future to stop Sam from stealing the scythe and failing.

Then he remembered the cave, and the Shadow Men, and the pulling on his very being that had ripped him apart, that erased existence as he knew it.

After that, there were a dizzying amount of sensations that he couldn't comprehend, things he could never hope to remember or understand without going insane. He guessed that those memories were from his time as an Entity.

Now, however, he was Xander the Potential again, and he was back in the library.

Every stared at him for a moment as if not believing their eyes. Xander realized that everyone was there; Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Giles, Ms. Calendar, and Angel. He couldn't have been happier to see them; even Angel.

Buffy, Willow and Cordelia all rushed forward and pulled him into bone-crushing hugs after they realized it was really him, the one from their time. Ms. Calendar gave him an awkward hug while Giles settled on a handshake. Angel and Xander simply nodded at each other.

"So," Xander began with his usual lopsided grin, "anything interesting happen while I was seven separate, um, things?"



The third Entity to ever exist, this one made up of Sam, appeared scattered all over the world in 2007. It took the Watcher's Council three years to locate all the pieces. When they had found them all, they used every security precaution, both magical and not, to keep them out of the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, in a village in central Africa, a child had appeared mysteriously on a family's doorstep. One of the older sons of the family was the first to discover him and picked him up and took him inside, shouting for his family to wake up immediately to see what he'd found.

Another Potential Entity had been brought into the world. The world continued to turn.

The End