Xander quickly stood up and set Dawn on her feet. “Get dressed in clothes that are comfortable and you don't mind getting stuff on … also running shoes, 'kay?” he said assuming the worst.
“'Kay,” Dawn promised, running up the stairs as Xander flipped the deadbolt shut on the door and looked through the peephole at what was on the other side.
“Xander?” Dawn's voice came down the stairs.
“Yeah?” he called back, peeking out the living room window and seeing a couple of lone zombies slowly heading their way to join the one pounding on the front door.
“You might want to see this,” she called down nervously.
Xander an up the stairs, expecting the worst, but found Dawn completely unshoed and no zombies in sight, unfortunately … Dawn pointed at a wooden mask with glowing yellow eyes on the wall. “This is not a night light.”
“I don't suppose you have a blessed container of some kind?” he asked, knowing better than to touch a glowing anything with his hands and recalling Giles' speech on cursed items.
“I don't …” Dawn's voice trailed off for a moment as she thought about it before her eyes lit up. “Wait here!”
Xander examined the mask carefully without touching it or looking straight into its eyes, wary of any type of hypnotic effect.
Dawn quickly returned with a square leather container with a zipper along its side that looked like it had contained a book, but was just large enough to fit over the mask.
Xander closed it around the mask, careful not to touch it with his skin before zipping it closed.
The leather immediately began to darken and the front cover twisted and formed into a demonic face, much worse than the mask had been but minus the glow.
“Glad I didn't touch it with my bare hands,” Xander said.
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed wide eyed. Sure she'd known about the supernatural, but she'd never seen anything like this before.
“Get dressed, I'll grab some weapons and meet you downstairs,” Xander ordered before ducking into Buffy's room and finding Buffy's weapons chest devoid of most of its contents.
Sighing he grabbed a couple of stakes and a couple of vials of holy water, thankful that they weren't completely defenseless.
Xander went back downstairs, setting the “book” on the coffee table and peeked out the curtains once more. He was quite happy to note the zombies were still as slow moving as ever. Dumping out most of the contents of his backpack he quickly stuffed the “book” inside and put it on.
The banging on the door was annoying, but there wasn't anything he could do about that, since he didn't have any weapons that could take out a zombie.
Dawn came downstairs dressed in a pair of dark brown shorts and an olive green tanktop with a pair of brown hiking boots. Not clothes he would have chosen, but better than whatever Buffy usually wore. It almost looked familiar for some reason.
“So, what do we do now?” Dawn asked.
“Well, we need weapons and we can't stay here because eventually the zombies will get in. So, we head for someplace with weapons and leave a message on Giles' answering machine,” Xander said thoughtfully.
“Out the back then,” Dawn said and the two quickly snuck out the back door.
* * *
The phone rang until the answering machine eventually picked it up, “Xander, it’s Joyce – when you get this message call me on my cell it’s important.”
* * *
Joyce closed her cell phone. “No answer. Xander was pretty adamant that revealing the truth to the world was a bad idea, so I doubt he knows that they're being broadcast,” she said, leaning back in the booth she was sharing with Giles as the entire bar watched the broadcast that had pre-empted the big game. “Did I miss anything?”
“No, Dawn just got him to swear to answer a question truthfully,” Giles replied, sipping his drink and wondering how much chaos this was going to cause.
Joyce smiled widely as she heard Xander's response to Dawn's question.
* * *
“Why aren't we running?” Dawn asked, confused as the two snuck out the back yard and walked openly down the street.
“They're zombies,” Xander explained, “the only way they can catch us is if one of us sprains an ankle or we stay in one place long enough for them to catch up.”
“Suddenly all the excitement and terror of being chased by a zombie horde has vanished,” Dawn said thoughtfully as she snagged one of his hands.
He grinned and swung their joined hands back and forth as they walked. “Well, there is the tiny little problem that they never stop coming. Like the fictional mail man neither sleet nor snow nor gloom of night will stay their appointed rounds.”
“And now it’s back,” Dawn groaned. “Wait! What do you mean mail men are fictional?”
“I mean that, despite pictorial evidence, I have yet to see an actual mail man and considering they have pictures of Superman … I have my doubts.”
“I'm pretty sure they exist, every morning at 5:30AM someone delivers mail to our house.”
“There's a 5:30AM now?” Xander asked, looking like someone had just told him dodos weren't extinct they'd just hidden themselves by dressing up as penguins.
“I believe there's one at least five times a week,” Dawn confirmed. “I'm surprised you never noticed.”
“Like all good little demon hunters I believe in going to bed by 3AM since I have to get up for school at 7.”
“You only get four hours of sleep a night?!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, I rely on my normal school day to provide for an extra three,” he explained.
“How does that work?” Dawn asked.
“Well history is nice and relaxing, and the teacher has almost given up on getting any kind of productive output from me, so unless there is a quiz I can pass out for an hour.”
“And you're not failing?”
“Nah, Wills takes great notes so I generally scrape by with a C.”
“So five minutes with Willow's notes and you score as well as the average student in history.”
“It’s an advanced placement history class, so most students are aiming for a B or better to decorate their transcripts. As a solid C student I score below the jocks and cheerleaders, sadly enough.”
“Ok, that’s one hour.”
“I also take an advanced placement math class, with Wills once more, and through hard work and perseverance …”
“You've done so well that the teacher cuts you some slack?” Dawn interrupted.
Xander snickered. “No – I have almost broken her will to live. I get the occasional detention, but I'm pretty sure she's dead inside.”
“That’s two,” Dawn said.
“Unless we're staring down the barrel of an apocalypse, Giles lets me sleep in the stacks during my free period.”
Dawn grinned. “Being a slacker sounds like a lot of hard work.”
Xander actually stopped for a moment before Dawn pulled him onward. “Well you have to take into account the demon hunting and Willow.”
“I get demon hunting, meaning you have to cram as much studying as possible into a single session because of all the time it takes up, but what has Willow got to do with anything?”
“Willow is my bud,” he said firmly. “She's family I've chosen for myself, and Willow would be disappointed in me if I failed and disappointed in herself for letting me fail.”
“So, you're a hard working slacker?”
“And proud of it!” Xander announced grandly.
The two continued on, unaware of the traffic cameras tracking them, which relayed every word they said to a growing television audience.
* * *
“Any ideas on the book?” Joyce asked, guessing the leather bound object was a book.
“Looks like the Necronomicon,” the waitress suggested, overhearing their conversation as she delivered another round to the pair.
“The Necronomicon looks nothing like that,” Giles responded, knowing what the actual book looked like.
“I think she's right,” One of the guys at the bar said. “I remember seeing it in a couple of Bruce Campbell movies and it looked just like that. Hey! The kid kinda looks like him too!”
* * *
“So, where we going?” Dawn asked.
“We need weapons and wheels, I have an idea for where we can get us some wheels, but for weapons we're going to have to hit Willy's.”
“That name sounds familiar,” she muttered.
“Buffy likes to beat him for information; he runs the local demon bar.”
“Demons have a bar?!”
“Yep, not all demons want to end the world or eat people. Some just want to have a pint and bitch about their boss like anyone else.”
“And Willy is going to help the little sister and best friend of a girl who beats him?” Dawn asked doubtfully.
Xander blushed and muttered something too low for Dawn to hear.
He sighed. “Willy … doesn't mind her beating on him, ok?”
“Huh, doesn't mind …Ewwww!” Dawn squealed, putting two and two together. “Does Buffy know?”
“Nope,” he replied easily, “and whatever you do – don't tell her.”
“Doesn't she deserve to know?” Dawn asked, surprised to know that Xander was letting some guy perv on her sister.
“Willy doesn't hurt anyone and his bar keeps a lot of demons off the streets, including those that consider humans food. By running his bar he saves two to three lives a night minimum, probably more. The way things are supposed to work traditionally involves bribery and vague threats, but Buffy just bursts in and beats the hell out of a guy that Willow could take in hand to hand.”
“You're kidding,” Dawn deadpanned.
“I wish. Buffy is stepping way over the line with how she treats him, or she would be if he didn't like it so much.”
“So she thinks she's beating him up but really she's beating him …” Dawn snickered.
“Yep,” Xander said readily. “I consider it a fitting punishment for abusing her gifts.”
“So, he'll get us some weapons?” Dawn asked, changing subjects so she wouldn't burst out laughing.
“If he has some on hand, he isn't a fighter but a lot of fighters come through the bar. So a little bribery and we can raid the lost and found.”
“I've never handled a weapon before,” Dawn admitted. “Being a member of the video game generation, the closest I've come is the light gun from Duck Hunt.”
“I'll start you off with something simple then, like a baseball bat. It won’t kill most things, but broken bones will slow down damn near anything.”
* * *
“I can't believe he's taking my baby to a bar.” Joyce sighed. “I figured I had at least a couple more years until that happened.”
“Well, I can't fault his reasoning,” Giles said, taking a sip of his drink.
“Did you know about Willy?”
“Not as such, but I had my suspicions,” Giles admitted.
“And you haven't said anything?” Joyce asked curiously.
“I'm sure she'll figure it out… eventually.”
“That'll have more of an effect on her than a lecture on beating people up,” Joyce said, trying not to laugh.
“Quite,” Giles agreed. AN: Thank godogma for the typing and me for the typos!