"Why the hell would Cordy do something like that?" Younger Xander then asked, baffled over the idea of his classmate helping the newly-revealed Big Bad that way. It was so high on the 'does not compute' scale that it couldn't even register. While Harris didn't like her, the brunette cheerleader had been through quite a lot with the Scooby Gang since the start of junior year – and even though the teen would never admit to anyone, Miss Chase did have a face and body that sent just about every man's hormones into overdrive, including his own.
"It's real simple, compadre," Older Xander answered his younger counterpart's question, as a look of pure loathing and hatred suddenly appeared on his face.
"Because she's the Mayor's personal spy.
"As well as his illegitimate daughter."
"SHE'S WHAT?!" Younger Xander yelled in disbelief.
"You heard me correctly," his older doppelganger replied evenly, shrugging off his younger counterpart's incredulous reaction.
"That lying, duplicitous, traitorous, two-faced bitch is the illegitimate daughter of the so-called Honorable Richard Wilkins," Older Xander expanded on his earlier statement.
"Are you sure –" the current-day manifestation of the Founding Scooby started to say, before abruptly cutting himself off in mid-sentence, looking both chagrined and annoyed with himself.
"Okay, sorry about that," the younger Harris immediately apologized to his older self. "Of course, you're sure. You lived through whatever it was that you came back to correct, so I shouldn't doubt what you're trying to tell me."
"Yeah. You know, you're a lot smarter than most people ever gave us credit for, kid," the elder Harris smirked as he looked at his younger alter ego.
"But, just to be completely sure that we really aren't looking at some kind of parallel world thing, before we do anything else, how about we check our life histories against each other, and make sure we really are talking about the same events we think we're talking about?" Older Xander suggested. "Okay?"
"Yeah, okay," the younger doppelgänger agreed with a nod.
"All right, let's start with last year, when we had the problem with the Hyena Primal Spirit possession thing," the future version of Harris suggested.
""Unlike what you told Buffy and Willow, you remembered everything that happened while you were possessed, right?" the elder Harris twin said, a somewhat-mocking smirk creasing his face at the embarrassed and mortified expression that took possession of his younger self's face.
"Yeah, true. I remembered everything I said and did when the Spirit was in control," the younger Harris reluctantly agreed.
"And I'll also note that, when everyone's nightmares came to life towards the end of sophomore year, you still thought that Buffy looked incredibly hot, even as a vampire," Older Xander said, receiving another reluctant nod of agreement from his younger self.
"But then most people who know you would realize that you'd probably think that about Buffy, regardless. So let's focus on what happened during September 15th of this year, shall we?" the time-displaced Scooby stated, making his younger version's thoughts immediately begin considering the specified date – one which had occurred a mere three weeks earlier, and one whose significance he'd recognized immediately.
~/~ Flashback ~/~
September 15, 1997
From his position at the table he was currently sharing with Willow, Xander Harris noticed the blonde beauty with whom he was so enamored as she entered the club, as well as how his erstwhile rival, the ensouled vampire, Angel, oh-so-casually left his position in the rear of the club and head over to greet her.
With the music blaring loudly from the band's speakers, Xander didn't have any chance of hearing what they were saying to each other. Nonetheless, he was more than a little pleased to see that, whatever it was they were saying to each other, the walking corpse wasn't looking very happy with Buffy's responses.
Xander was even more delighted when he saw the girl he was more than just a little bit infatuated with give his possible romantic adversary a scathing look – before turning and heading over towards the table he and his best bud were currently located.
"Hey!" Buffy had greeted them with a bright smile as she walked up and joined the pair.
"Hi," Willow had smiled back, clearly pleased to see that her friend was behaving in a much friendlier manner than she'd been doing earlier that day.
"Hey," Xander nodded back, a smile reflexively brightening his own face as he looked at his not-so-secret crush.
"What's wrong with Angel?" Willow had asked, looking over the blonde's shoulder at the vampire, who was still standing at the bar, frowning in their direction.
"Beats me," Buffy had shrugged off the redhead's question, before then turning to look at Xander.
"Let's dance," she suggested, pulling on his shirt and ignoring the frown on Willow's face that Buffy's uncharacteristic behavior had generated.
"Ooo-kay," Xander nodded, shrugging his agreement as he followed the petite blonde out into the middle of the dance floor.
Buffy moved in closer to him as they began to slow dance, her movements sensual and suggestive as she pressed herself up against him, and Xander found himself half-wondering if he was dreaming right now, since Good Fortune had never seemed to smile in his direction before this, and the way Buffy was behaving was undoubtedly the best thing he'd thought he could ever hope for.
Turning around as they swayed to the music, Buffy had then spooned in against Xander, pulling his arms in tighter around her waist as she ground her hips and shoulders against him, her body rhythmically moving to the music. She'd reached up with her right hand and stroked his face as she looked up over her shoulder at him.
Glory hallelujah, Xander was completely aware of Angel watching them, the vamp's jealousy quite clear on his face.
"Xander?" Buffy had purred seductively as she looked at him. "Did I ever thank you – for saving my life?"
Taking his crush's actions as a signal that she'd changed her mind about how she felt about him the previous spring, Xander had instantly seized the initiative he perceived to be poised before him and acted as decisively as he could.
"No, Buffy, you didn't," he'd said before then leaning in and pressing his lips against hers.
The wheels of destiny totally veered off-course as Xander turned the petite beauty around and pulled her even tighter against him, his actions taking the blonde completely by surprise.
Buffy had gasped with surprise at his unexpected actions, and Xander again instinctively responded to his perception of the situation and slid his tongue into her mouth, tasting the traces of peppermint still remaining on her tongue, from the gum she'd been chewing earlier.
Despite her surprise, Buffy obviously wasn't offended by his somewhat forward actions at all, since she moaned low in her throat, before twisting around and wrapping her arms more tightly around Xander's neck, and continued kissing him. Despite the odds, and despite how this had never been meant to happen, for a long time Buffy and Xander forgot where they were as they both simply enjoyed the physical contact between them.
Several minutes passed, with the two of them completely oblivious to their surroundings, before they'd finally pulled away from each other sufficiently to realize that they were now standing alone on the dance floor.
Glancing around with self-conscious discomfort as the duo abruptly realized that they were the focus of everyone's attention, Xander had felt himself flushing with a mixture of pride and semi-embarrassment as a portion of the crowd broke into congratulatory cheers and applause, and he grabbed Buffy's hand and led her off the dance floor and back to the table they'd been sitting at.
Only to find that Willow had apparently left without telling them.
And while Willow's not-entirely-unexpected absence had initially bothered Buffy more than just a bit – she realized that she had just violated the friend code big-time, what with Willow's life-long crush on Harris – she and Xander nonetheless settled into the booth, snuggled up against each other, and then spent the remainder of the evening talking about the ways this new development could potentially impact their friendship.
The fact that the patrol they'd undertaken while heading home from the Bronze had taken nearly three times as long as it usually did, and that they'd spent nearly the majority of that time in darkened, hard-to-see areas (and *not* investigating the possible presence of things that went bite in the night which might have hidden there – the single vampire with the misfortune to interrupt them paid for it, painfully, with her un-life) really wasn't anything Buffy and Xander felt they'd need to mention to Giles at the Scooby meeting in the library the next day.
~/~ End Flashback ~/~
"You felt as though you'd finally hit the jackpot that night, didn't you?" the present-day aspect of the Founding Scooby heard his future self saying, as Younger Xander pulled back from the memories his words had triggered.
"It was like Fate was finally paying you back, in one freaking huge lump sum, for all the shit you'd had to put up with, up to that point in your life, right?" the purported time-traveler said with a wry grin.
"In fact, you even imagined you were getting the karmic equivalent of a check, made out to Alexander No-Middle-Name-I'll-Admit-To Harris, in the amount of 'An Almost Unbelievable Amount of Long-Overdue Happiness,' and that it had been signed, 'Very Sincerely Yours, That Bitch Called Fate,' right?" Older Xander asked
"Yeah, you're absolutely right about that," Younger Xander admitted with a pleased smile. He was not surprised that his older self still remembered all that so clearly, since he had known – he really had – that that was a night he would remember in *great detail* for the rest of his life.
"All right, then, I guess we've established that I really am back from your future and not some alternate reality," Older Xander noted with a nod. "Or if I am, it's from one so similar, that it doesn't make any real difference."
"Okay, fine," Younger Xander nodded back, "now that we've established you're almost certainly in the right dimension, why don't you tell me about exactly what it was that happened in your time that made you do whatever it is that you did that let you come back here, to try and change things?
"You promised me a couple of minutes ago that you'd tell me details," Younger Xander reminded his future self, "so why don't you do that now?"
Giving his temporally-younger self a long, evaluating look as he sat in the pseudo-Enterprise's captain's chair, Older Xander let out a long sigh before he slumped back, as though in exhaustion, and nodded his agreement.
"Yeah, I guess you've got a point there, buddy boy," the time traveler reluctantly concurred, "there's no good reason not to tell you everything that happened, up through Graduation – aside from the fact that I *really* don't like thinking about that part of my life.
"And if anyone's entitled to hear about what happened then, it's you," the elder Harris doppelganger declared with a somewhat bitter laugh.
"Cool! Okay then, hit me," Younger Xander agreed as he smiled with excited anticipation at learning what the future had held in store for him and his friends.
"All right, kid, you asked for it. Just settle back, make yourself comfortable, and try not to interrupt me while I'm talking, okay?" Older Xander requested as he closed his eyes and tilted his head back before launching into a history of what had occurred to the Scooby Gang in the course of the upcoming decade. "I know you'll want to, because I know you won't be able to believe some of the shit that went down – not at first. But please, try to keep your mouth shut 'til I'm done.
"Okay, first off, I'm going to recap a number of things you already know," Older Xander began his account, "starting right after you and Buffy got together earlier this year.
"Willow was more than a little upset about what happened at the Bronze that night, and she was most definitely not trying to understand why me and Buffy – why the two of you – had started dating," the temporal exile reminded his younger self. "As I recall, Will was willing to help out with that whole 'Bride of Frankenstein' thing Chris Epps and that other asshole, Eric Gittleson, had going on. But other than that, she was pretty much giving me – us – the cold shoulder.
"Then, after Spike killed Mrs. Summers at the school during that Parent-Teacher Night, she stopped being so touchy. And Wills really was incredibly concerned about how Buffy was feeling and how she was handling things," Older Xander said musingly. "Which almost certainly explains why she was acting all buddy-buddy with Ampata when that bitch showed up –
"I still can't believe how Snyder, that obnoxious little piece of shit, did his best to give Buffy a hard time about pulling out of the student exchange program, even though Joyce had just died," Older Xander suddenly snarled at the mention of the principal.
"And we both know how well *that* worked out," the time traveler growled at the memory of how his best friend's intercession had ended up. "That life-sucking bitch drained Wills, trying to save herself from the curse her own people put on her!
"Anyway, after Willow died, Buffy moved in with Ms. Calendar. And as far as the two of us dating went, she got all worked up about how I'd die if she kept associating with her, so she broke up with me. Apparently, because she thought that would keep me – you – us – safe, by not being around her," Older Xander grunted with a grimace of irritation and also muted anger.
"So then, since we weren't dating anymore, she agreed to go with Cordelia Chase to some frat party at Crestwood College, and since it turned out all of those frat boys were members of some snake demon worshipping cult, Buffy got drugged and almost killed before Giles, me and Deadboy managed to break in and mess up the ritual they were doing, and Buffy Slayed the demon," Older Xander continued his recitation of the Scooby Gang's future exploits.
The younger and chronologically-correct Xander Harris listened with ever-growing horror as his future-self described to him a continually increasing catalogue of supernaturally focused incidents, events and happenings which seemed to have targeted the Slayer and her supporters to the near-exclusion of virtually anyone or anything else.
Hearing that he and Buffy, having reconciled following the frat party incident, had dressed up as the Marvel Comics characters Hawkeye and the Black Widow in order to appease the obnoxious little troll overseeing the high school, and had then somehow been transformed into their costumes, along with a large portion of the similarly Halloween-attired populace was startling and somewhat disconcerting.
Although since they had each retained a significant portion of their possessors' skills and talents, in this particular instance, the pair had actually *benefited* from whatever event had initiated the town-wide changes, a revelation which brought a smile to Younger Xander's face.
The revelation of the existence of a second Slayer, apparently as a result of his resuscitating Buffy the previous May in the Master's cave, was even more shocking. As was learning that Angel's long-suppressed demonic alter ego, Angelus, had inadvertently been released (by Cordelia) to wreak havoc among an unsuspecting world – or in this instance, the naïve and unwary town of Sunnydale
Learning that Jenny Calendar, had been one of the first targets of the newly-freed soulless demon was enough to make Younger Xander silently vow to himself that this particular piece of history would *not* be repeated in this new cycle of events.
His older self's declaration that Buffy had eventually managed to send the leech to Hell came as no surprise to Younger Xander – while the disclosure that Angelus had been betrayed by Spike, really hadn't been all that much of a bombshell either, when one considered the personalities of the blood demons involved.
And being informed that his future self had kept to the exact wording of his pledge to allow Joyce Summers' murderer to flee Sunnydale unhindered, while still allowing Buffy to slay both Spike and Drusilla for Joyce's murder, had engendered a brilliant, exceedingly feral smile from the youth in question. Along with a silent promise to do his best to recreate those same circumstances at the earliest possible opportunity.
Learning that his doppelganger had begun learning magic from Amy Madison in order to support Buffy in her efforts to keep the world intact, then made the founder of the Scooby Gang resolve to look up his childhood friend as soon as was feasible. Well, if his older pseudo-twin didn't follow through on his promise to teach him everything he knew with regard to whatever Slaying- beneficial knowledge and skills he might possess.
Discovering (too late) that Wilkins I, II, and III were one and the same, and that he had developed a century-long plan to sacrifice the entire town as part of scheme to transform himself into the embodiment of a pure demon species no longer extant on this place of existence? That had been more than a slightly mind-blowing and eye-opening shock.
As had been the revelation that Cordelia Chase, aka 'Queen C,' self-designated social queen of Sunnydale High, and all-around uber-bitch, had betrayed the Scoobies' plans to thwart the Mayor's Ascension to Wilkins because he was, in actuality, her father.
Given all of the above, it really hadn't been all that surprising to then learn how Wilkins had managed to reverse what the Scoobies had believed would be an unexpected ambush and engineer it into a catastrophic defeat for the good guys, enabling him to slaughter everyone still living whom Xander Harris had cared about. The fact that the United States military had later managed to completely and utterly destroy the pure demon didn't console the horrified youth in the least.
Those particular morsels of knowledge merely made Younger Xander add yet another note on his mental 'to-do' list, regarding how to determine the most auspicious methods and the most opportune time to permanently remove from existence the sorcerer currently overseeing their quaint little town.
The Mayor's minions, hangers-on and sycophants would also be dealt with, once the Big Bad was taken care of. And those traitors to humanity most certainly deserved to have their accomplishments recognized and for them to receive the proper rewards they unquestionably deserved.
And with that thought in mind, Younger Xander promised himself that by the time he was finished giving her everything she deserved, Cordelia Chase was going to be cursing the fact that she hadn't killed him when she'd had the chance.
His temporal elder's disclosure of the subsequent apocalyptic threat and the upcoming annihilation of the human race posed by Illyria and its demonic hordes didn't have nearly the same impact on Younger Xander as the news of the murder of his loved ones. Except in the same vague and ambiguous manner that news of any natural disaster generally had on anyone listening to a news broadcast
"Anyway, that's how things worked out for me – for us – over the course of the next ten years, kid," Older Xander finished his summary of future events, privately amazed that his younger self had actually managed to keep his promise to remain silent for so long. As he recalled, at this age he'd been impatient and recalcitrant enough to interrupt almost straightaway.
"Now, I just need to stay in control of our body for just a little while longer, so that I can figure out whether I ended up alone back here in this time, or not," he informed Younger Xander. "That okay with you?"
Receiving a somewhat numb agreement from Current-Xander, Future-Xander quickly exited out of the mind-scape. Without giving a single passing thought to his ostensible parents as he reflexively crept silently down the hall, the time traveler snuck down the stairs and quietly picked up the phone and the phonebook it was sitting on.
A quick check verified the number he wanted to use, and Older Xander waited with long-practiced patience as the phone at the other end buzzed three times before being picked up.
As an obviously much younger version of a very familiar voice answered with a curious "Hello?", Harris then asked, "Andrew Wells?"
As the speaker answered, "Yes. Who is this?", Future-Xander, with his current-day counterpart listening intently, consciously took a deep breath and exhaled before asking, "Does the name 'Illyria' mean anything to you?"
It took barely two seconds before he could hear his friend happily screaming, "XANDER! YOU MADE IT!" through the phone, and the temporal refugee's face lit up with a wide smile as he realized he hadn't made the trip back alone.
"Yeah, I did, buddy," Older Xander then reaffirmed his presence among the living. "Just give me a few minutes and I'll be right over, okay?"
"That's fine with me, Xand," Andy enthusiastically agreed. "Uh, I guess we need to determine now whether Kyra came back too?"
"If she did, I'm sure she'll be contacting you soon enough, man," Xander assured his fellow mage.
"I'll see you shortly, old buddy," the dark-haired youth promised. "I'm just gonna have a quick shower, and after that, I'll be there at your old place."
"Sounds good," Xander heard Andy agree. "See you then."
Hanging up the phone, Older Xander nodded and headed back upstairs to his old bedroom, as he and his younger self began making mental lists of what they needed to do, and the time frames in which they needed to accomplish them, in order to ensure that the horrendous future the older version of Xander Harris and his friends had fled could never come to pass.
"No more innocents are going to die, not if I can prevent it," Future-Xander pledged to both himself and his younger doppelganger.
"And *all* of those bastards are going down *hard*, this time around," Current-Xander agreed as he added a short codicil to the other's vow.
"You got it, kid," Future-Xander affirmed. "Especially Cordelia. That bitch isn't getting away with what she did, not this time.
"Even if I have to drag her down to Hell, myself, to make sure of it," he swore.