They were just passing an alley when a figure lurched out of the shadows and grabbed Xander’s left arm.
Dawn screamed as Xander slammed a vial of holy water into its face to no effect.
“Damn, not a vampire,” Xander groaned as it pulled him towards it. “Run!”
Dawn immediately stopped screaming at Xander’s yelled command and kicked the zombie in the nuts as hard as she could.
The zombie’s eyes widened and its grip loosened enough for Xander to pull his arm loose and stumble back.
Xander grabbed Dawn and they ran for about a dozen steps before Xander slowed to a walking pace once more. “I never would have thought kicking a zombie in the nuts would have worked.”
“Yeah, well the next time you tell me to run away it won’t be the zombie I kick there!” Dawn growled. “And shouldn’t we be running?”
“Running is still a waste of energy right now. We just need a little distance to find something to slow him down so we can get some weapons to fight with or a car to escape,” he explained before asking, “And why would you be kicking me there?”
Dawn had calmed down but her voice still held a little anger, “You told me to abandon you!”
“I didn’t want you hurt,” Xander replied. “There’s no sense in both of us dying if I screw up.”
“How did you screw up, it came out of nowhere!”
“I should have known better than to walk so close to the mouth of a dark alley.”
“Well I certainly didn’t expect to see a zombie come out of an alley ahead of us,” Dawn retorted.
“Ok, but I should have remembered to be wary of alleys in Sunnydale anyway,” Xander said grudgingly before falling silent.
They walked quietly with only the sound of their shoes on the pavement and the occasional moan from the zombie following them for company for a few minutes before Dawn spoke up, “I’ll abandon you in the exact same situations that you’d abandon me. That’s fair, right?”
Xander winced. “I’m supposed to protect you, not vice versa,” he said, unknowingly quoting an argument he’d had with Buffy.
“I’d rather die with my friends than alone in the dark, so any of your plans that involve you sacrificing your life for mine… ditch them, cause as far as I’m concerned we either die together or not at all and I’m rather fond of the latter idea,” Dawn fired back having heard that particular conversation through the vent in her room.
Xander sighed. “Ok, point taken. No need to throw my own words back at me.” He was silent for a moment while Dawn reclaimed his hand once more. “You’ve grown up.”
“So nice of you to notice,” Dawn replied. “You’re only what, three years older than me?” she asked, pretending she didn’t know down to the second the age difference between them.
“And yet I’m very immature for my age,” Xander said proudly.
Dawn laughed. “Now how do we slow down the limping dead behind us?”
Xander grinned as he spotted something on someone’s front porch. “Hold that thought,” he said as he jogged off and returned a moment later holding up a rake.
“I don’t think that’s going to do much,” Dawn said, looking at the flimsy lawn care tool as they walked.
“Maybe you’re right,” Xander replied nonchalantly, carefully placing the rake on the ground behind them without losing a step.
Dawn looked at Xander suspiciously as he generally only looked innocent when he was guilty of something.
There was a loud thwacking noise behind them and the sound of a body hitting the pavement.
Dawn very carefully didn’t look behind them, though she couldn’t help but snicker.
Xander’s grin made him look like a demented child.
* * *
Giles groaned. “I keep forgetting Xander claims to be the master of Stooge-fu,” he said as the rest of the bar roared with laughter.
“We have to do something,” Joyce said. “If we leave now...”
“We'd get there far too late to help,” Giles said sadly.
“We can't just sit here and watch!”
“Sometimes that’s all you can do; sit, watch, and pray you've trained them well enough to survive.”
“Have you trained Xander?” Joyce asked surprised.
“Do you think someone can just pick up a sword or crossbow and use it? I've made sure they all had some basic training with weapons, I may concentrate on Buffy, but I do my best not to neglect them,” Giles said solemnly.
Joyce took a large sip of her drink, and while still unhappy about her children being in danger felt better about both their chances and the man that trained them.
“She's very mature for her age,” Giles said.
“So's Xander, but only when he thinks no one is looking,” Joyce added.
“I suspected as much.” Giles smirked.
* * *
Dawn had to visibly restrain herself from looking around at the large variety of demons while Xander led her through the bar.
Willy appeared at the bar in front of them. “She's a little young for this place, kid.”
“I need to hit the lost and found,” Xander said, placing two twenties on the bar.
“Particular item or just general?” Willy asked as he made the money vanish.
“General, got a little zombie problem. Brainless,” Xander explained.
Willy waved them to a door behind the counter before flipping up a section of the bar. “Lock up behind you.”
“Will do,” Xander promised as they stepped behind the bar and disappeared through the door.
Willy turned back to the rest of the bar and saw a few faces looking far too interested for his tastes. “Its happy hour, boys. All drinks half off!” he called out.
Willy was satisfied to see the various looks of hunger and curiosity fade in the face of discounted drinks.
‘Eh, it’s still cheaper than seeing Madam Roxy,’ he thought to himself, thinking about all the money he saved having the Slayer smack him around for information rather than paying a professional to do the job.
* * *
The scrying spell was temporarily stymied by the protective wards Willy had paid to have cast to protect his bar from his patrons.
Having lost the pair of individuals that the incoming transmission had been following, the primitive AI switched to the last point of interest.
The zombie who'd been killed in the alley less than an hour before had been raised and compelled to come after Xander clumsily climbed to its feet and stepped forward once more...THWACK!
Only to step on the rake once more and have the blow to the face knock it onto its back again.
During the five minutes Xander and Dawn were out of broadcast range the zombie had managed to rise to its feet and step on the rake three more times, much to the amusement of the viewing audience.
* * *
“Why does everything attack my left arm?” Xander asked, as he flexed and twisted his arm, examining the bruises the zombie had made.
“Here,” Dawn said, handing him a metal gauntlet.
Humoring her, he slid it onto his hand and was shocked at the metal plates that suddenly appeared around his arm.
“Did I forget to mention that some of these may be enchanted?” he said nervously, trying and failing to find a way to remove the gauntlet.
“Really?” Dawn asked, still pawing through the box of assorted odds and ends and picking up a pair of silver cat head earrings with emerald chips for eyes.
“Yeah, all sorts of beings pass through Willy's Bar. Most of them just as clumsy and forgetful as you and me, carrying and losing stuff just like we would.”
Not wanting to worry Dawn he rolled down his sleeve so that just the gauntlet was showing.
“So, what're we looking for?”
“Machete, fire axe... Hell, I'd take a baseball bat at this point.”
Dawn put down the box she'd been looking in and joined Xander in looking at some of the larger items.
* * *
Joyce took a sip of coffee as the zombie hit the ground again.
Giles simply shook his head, unable to believe that it had worked.
The laughter died down as the screen switched back to Dawn and Xander coming out of an alley armed with a baseball bat and a crowbar.
“I'd do much better with a shotgun,” Dawn said, giving the bat a practice swing.
“Unfortunately we don't have the money for one right now,” Xander said, thinking that shotguns would work great against zombies or at least they had in every movie he'd ever seen.
“There has to be some ...” Dawn began only to be interrupted by a figure that lunged out of a doorway at them.
The figure grabbed Xander's left arm and pulled him towards it while Dawn screamed.
Pausing it gave an evil grin and hissed at Dawn, “Run!”
Dawn immediately stopped screaming and kicked the vampire in the balls.
Xander pulled his arm loose from the vampire's suddenly weak grip, as it hunched over in pain and brought the crowbar down on the back of its neck, wincing at the sound of snapping bone.
He had just palmed a stake when Dawn called out, “Wait!”
Dawn quickly searched the vamp for a wallet before waving Xander forward to stake him.
“One twenty,” Dawn announced when Xander stood up after dusting the grateful looking vamp and Xander was really grateful that he hadn't said run this time.
“We need at least twice that for a decent gun from a pawn shop... Or a little more from a gun store.”
“Well, I have an idea...”Fifteen minutes later...
Dewey came out of the bar more than a little drunk. Sure most vamps preferred blood with their alcohol, but he thought mixed drinks were girly.
Hearing a noise he moved toward the alley, only to see a young brunette sitting on the ground holding her ankle and calling out for help.
He froze for a moment, remembering what he'd seen on the TV in the bar, then using all the supernatural speed at his disposal he flung his wallet at her and ran away screaming.
Xander came out of the shadows as Dawn stared at the fleeing vamp. “And my sister complains about how dangerous being the Slayer is?”
“She doesn't hunt them this way,” he replied.
“Why not? I mean we took out seven vamps, not counting Mr. Screamy and made a ton of dough in no time at all.”
Xander shrugged. “I think Cordy suggested it once, when she saw a vamp with a designer jacket, but Buffy said it was too risky.”
Dawn added the money from the wallet to a large roll. “Her loss I guess, because I have a new hobby.”
“Joyce is going to kill me,” Xander groaned.
“She doesn't have to know,” Dawn suggested, batting her eyes at him.
“She's a mom – they always know!” Xander said fearfully. “They have eyes everywhere. Right this second she's probably saying …”
* * *
“I can't believe Xander let Dawn talk him into that,” Joyce said, shaking her head. “And are vampires always that easy to kill?”
“Well to be fair, he did use himself as bait to start.”
“I know, it’s strange how he attracts female vamps so quickly.” Flashback!
“I should be bait at least half the time, since we're in this together,” Xander quickly added.
“Ok,” Dawn nodded reluctantly, hoping she could protect Xander as well as he protected her when she played bait – but worried she wouldn't be able to bring herself to hit something that looked so human.Two minutes later…
“Die skankpire! Die!” Dawn screamed, bringing the bat down on the second female vamp for a third time – not noticing that the first blow had knocked it out.
Xander quickly grabbed Dawn, before she could shatter the skull of either vamp. “They're down Dawnie, rob and stake remember?”
Dawn recovered as she felt Xander's arms around her. “I was just worried because handling two at once is dangerous,” she lied.
“Yep,” Xander agreed easily, still slightly distracted by what the two vampiresses had propositioned him for, since they didn't appear to be hunting – for blood anyway, at the moment.
“You weren't tempted were you?” Dawn asked, far too innocently.
“No, no...” Xander quickly protested.
“Because you seemed a bit distracted.”
“Hypnotic powers,” Xander quickly said.
“Really?” Dawn asked curiously.
Xander nodded and Dawn smiled and searched the downed vamps.
“Four barely covered breasts are very hypnotic,” Xander muttered, not knowing of the magic and computer enhancements being used to ensure his comments were immortalized forever.
“Three sixty,” Dawn announced.
“How would that work anyway? Four breasts vs. two hands and one mouth... It just doesn't add up.”
“How about we do this two more times? Then we'll definitely have enough for a good supply of ammo as well.”
“Sure,” Xander agreed, wishing they'd covered this in math class.End Flashback!
* * *
“Now we get some guns,” Xander said cheerfully.
“Good, because while a baseball bat is a decent weapon I'm just not strong enough. I mean, one of those skanks almost got back up.”
“Well don't worry, we'll get you the finest shotgun Sunnydale has to offer,” Xander promised.
As they stepped out of the alley, Xander spotted three zombies coming down the street from the opposite direction they'd come from.
“Let’s make that, the finest Oxnard has to offer,” Xander said. “Because they're closing in from all sides and that means we have to escape the circle first,” he said solemnly.
“How do we escape the circle?” Dawn asked worriedly, but ready to follow any plan Xander suggested.
“We have to get through these three then its smooth sailing for a while,” he said grimly.
“I'm ready,” Dawn promised, choking up on her bat.
“Good. Do exactly what I do,” Xander said firmly.
Dawn mentally prepared herself for battle and followed Xander as he … crossed the street and continued down the block at a quick walking pace about four times faster than the zombies could react to.
Dawn groaned as she realized Xander had got her again.
“I thought we were going to fight them.”
“No need, and fighting would only slow us down at this point allowing others to catch up. We need to know how to destroy Mr. Glowing eyes in my backpack not stop a few zombies that are following us at a slower pace than a narcoleptic turtle.”
“Then why do we need weapons?”
“Because we have to rest at times and they'll close in the moment we stop moving and we'll have to fight our way out to avoid being eaten.”
“How do you know so much about zombies?” Dawn asked.
“Monster movies and comic books have explored just about every possibility when dealing with zombies.” Xander grinned.
“Life isn't like a monster movie,” Dawn protested.
“They try and make monster movies as true to life as possible,” Xander explained. “Because it makes it easier for them to get away with the
few ridiculous bits they always toss in.”
“Like the fact that a lot of them end up in pitched battle in either the mall or a strip club. What do you think the odds of that happening here are?”
Dawn laughed. “I can see it now, back to back with a stripper pole in between us shooting at the undead from the stage.”
* * *
“We'll be in LA in a matter of hours,” Linda assured her charge. “That’s four or five hours outside of Sunnydale.”
Faith nodded. “Look for a strip club in Oxnard.”
“What? Why?” Linda asked, having missed a good chunk of the broadcast while getting tickets.
“Because I recognize foreshadowing when I see it,” Faith announced. “And if I'm wrong... at least we get strippers and beer.”
Linda groaned and wondered if Giles' Slayer gave him this much trouble.
* * *
Kakistos growled, “What do you mean the Slayer and her watcher are gone?! Find them!”AN: Thank godogma for the typing and me for the typos!