Disclaimer :
I do not own BtVS, nor any of its characters – though any OCs are definitely mine.

Summary :
Xander comes to a realisation after dealing with the zombies – just because he was powerless does not make him useless. See how his life changes with this epiphany.

Spoilers :
Up to the episode where Xander takes care of O'Toole and his gang, as well as all of the rest of Buffy (I hope).

Author's Note :
The rating is for sexual references, harsh language and violence that occurs. If the thought of any of these offends, you should stop reading now.


Dead Man Walking


Unable to sleep long from the adrenaline still pumping through his system, Xander went to the mirror on his wall and stared at his reflection as he pondered the events of the night before.

As per usual, after classes had ended and the patrolling soon to begin, Buffy and the rest of the gang had gently but inexorably pushed him to one side, telling him to run along. Their reasons, he knew, were not that varied. They wanted him to be 'fray adjacent', to keep him safe, to keep him alive. Even Willow seemed to see him as a handicap to their work. And all she could do was float pencils. In no time at all, he found himself pushed out, sent home like a misbehaving child.

Alone. On the streets. Of Sunnydale.


So, not only had he eventually found himself mixed up with a group of braindead zombies planning to blow up the school, he had run into the other Slayer (or at least run over the demon she was fighting) and ended up doing some rather naughty things with her in her hotel room. True, he'd managed to stop it before they went all the way… but only by using his fingers and mouth for practices he'd never known existed.

Afterwards she'd thrown him out into the street with his clothes in his arms, acting like it had meant nothing, but it wasn't a total loss. He'd seen the blush on her cheeks as she glanced at his lips. He hadn't known what he was doing, but apparently it was something right. Certainly considering the sounds she had been making.

Staggering round in a daze, still slightly stunned by what had just happened, he'd noticed a car full of zombies drive by, heading for the school.

Getting there had been an unpleasant shock. Not the killer zombies or the bomb in the basement, those he could handle. It was discovering that the Hellmouth was trying to open and swallow the world. Again. Knowing they hadn't wanted him there for what might have been the final battle hurt him more than he had ever guessed.

Other than that, the evening went swimmingly.

He'd killed the zombies, defused the bomb, and scared off the badass O'Toole.

Then he'd gone home and went to bed. After cleaning off the few bits of zombie that still stuck to his clothes of course. Definitely the worst thing about the creatures was that they tended to fall apart whenever you brushed against them.

Not a pleasant experience.

Waking up sore from his trials yet energised from his victories, the faintest hint of dawn on the horizon, he felt an epiphany strike. He was normal. No powers, no special skills, no magical abilities. He couldn't even fight very well. Yet he had saved the school, and potentially the whole world, when he had stopped the bomb. Being special helped, but it wasn't required.

Being a normal human being didn't mean that he couldn't fight the good fight. It just meant he had to be sneaky about it.

Decision made, Xander went to the battered table he used as a desk and began to plan his next move.


Grimacing as his neck creaked as he leaned back in his chair, Xander glanced down at the rough list of things he'd figured he needed. Some were obvious – weapons, holy water, stakes and the like – and would be quite simple to gain. Others were more… problematic.

Like training.

Just because he was a guy, a teenage guy at that, did not mean he was stupid. If he was going to be doing this as a fulltime gig, working on slimming down the numbers of dangerous demons and vampires that prowled the Hellmouth, he would need to know how to fight. And for once, he knew he couldn't turn to Giles for help.

Not because the man wouldn't give it, but because he would be sure to let something slip about Xander's wish to the Scoobies which would quickly bring hurricane Buffy down on Xander's delicate head.

So he needed someone willing to train him how to fight, how to kill. But outside normal channels. The only answer he'd been able to come up with, skimpy as it was, was to see if any of the soldiers at the local base might be willing to pass on a few tricks to an eager student.

But he didn't hold out much hope.

Glancing at the clock, he grimaced seeing that he'd already missed first bell, and grabbed his bag and shoes and rushed off to get ready for class.

It felt like the heart of irony that after saving the world, he had to learn about… geometry. The thought giving him chills that not even master vampires had instilled in him, he trudged out of his room and began the long trek to school.


School had been even worse than he had feared. Not only did the classes try to drown him in useless information, but his obviously injured friends tried to brush off 'whatever' happened the night before as nothing special. As in something he shouldn't have to worry about.

Then there was, of course, Cordelia.

He knew he had hurt her, more than she would ever say, but he had an inkling as to why. Much as Xander cared for the prickly and snooty girl, he knew that he didn't truly love her. That the two of them had chemistry, he had no doubt. But it was a simple case of opposites attracting. The spark between them was purely physical, if they had tried to move too far beyond where their relationship had reached, they would both have been disappointed.

So though in the short term he had hurt her dearly, something that she was using to cause no end of humiliation, he knew in time she would be able to find a man truly matched for her.

But for now her pain was fresh in her heart, and she needed to give him his share whenever possible. Meaning today was… pleasant.

But for once the words of ridicule and rage spewing from her mouth did not cause him to shrivel up and blow away, metaphorically speaking. Instead, with the confidence his personal victory had given him, he was able to walk away from her with a smile and a nod. Both she, her posse of ignorant blondes, and his friends had been shocked at his behaviour.

He was just pleased that he hadn't tripped over his loose shoelaces as he left. It would have ruined the effect.

The problem now, was figuring out how to keep the good feeling from fading, as the patrols continually left without him, and he was shunted to the sidelines. The best he could come up with was to start the attempt to find a teacher to help him on his long road of physical maturity.


It had been depressingly easy to separate from the Scoobies, as the mere mention of him leaving made them all happy. It had not escaped his notice that they allowed Cordelia to stay, when she was even weaker than he.

After a quick trip home to load up on a few stakes and other weapons, he put on one of his more obnoxious shirts, and left the house heading for a bar he'd heard the local jarheads liked to frequent.

He didn't have a clue how he'd be able to convince one of them to give him the help he needed, but he was willing to try almost anything.


The bar was smoky and stank of stale beer, but Xander wasn't going anywhere. Though the barman had been initially unwilling to have a minor in his bar, with some fast talking Xander had somehow managed to persuade him that letting Xander stick around wouldn't be a problem. He just wished he knew exactly what he'd done, 'cause whatever it was could've come in very handy when dealing with the troll, Snyder.

The upshot was him sitting on a barstool drawing curious looks from a number of grunts at his… unique dress sense, trying not to breathe much. Or at all. The smells were starting to make him nauseous. Luckily – or not – his attention was diverted by the newest person to enter the bar.

Though person might have been a stretch, considering it was a dead man walking.

Sighing quietly to himself, Xander got up and began to artfully stagger across the room, heading for the back door. Not enough to look overdone, just enough to attract the attention of a predator. He could almost feel the moment the vampire's eyes locked onto his back. Knowing his target would even now be approaching him, he speeded up imperceptibly to gain the cover of the alley before anyone noticed what was happening.

Neither man, vampire or Scooby, noticed the two soldiers who had also taken notice of the monster in their midst, and were even then rising to their feet and smoothly gliding across the room to join them in the shadows of the back alley.


Sergeant Mackenzie Bryce cursed under his breath as the vampire disappeared out the door. Their chances of getting to the kid in time were getting slight to none. It wasn't right, some stupid boy – probably on a bet from his equally stupid friends – had shown up just in time to catch the interest of a passing vamp, and was about to pay the price.

And there was nothing he nor Tank could do about it.

Glancing over at his silent partner, he watched the big black man glide through the crowd like a shark through water. To this day he didn't know what had happened that had brought his large friend into the darkness of the underbelly of life, but he couldn't help a twinge of guilty relief that it had.

Without Tank watching his back, Bryce had no doubt he'd have died long ago.

As it was, he knew he was running on borrowed time.

Shrugging such fatalistic thoughts aside, he pushed through the door and glanced around the dark alley he found himself in. Ignoring the large shadow at his back, he listened for any sounds of struggle, and was rewarded by a scuffling sound to his right followed by a slight gasp.

Fearing the worst, the two men stepped around the corner to join the fight.

And stopped dead at the sight before them.

The young man was reeling back, obviously from a blow where he'd had his head slammed against the wall from the blood on his temple, but it was the vampire that caught their attention.

It was also staggering back, clutching at the front of its jacket as it tried to pluck the wooden stake from its chest. But even as its fingers brushed the shaft, its body dissolved into dust, leaving an obviously injured yet alive young man glaring down at the forlorn pile of ash.

Bryce was unsure where the feeling came from, but instead of going to the youngster's aid, he moved deeper into the shadows surrounding him so he could watch the curious individuals next actions. They only caused him to become more confused.

Not seeming to care than a man had just died in such an unusual way in front of him, he'd simply spat once on the ashes before leaning against the wall. Reaching into one baggy pocket, he pulled out what looked like a mini-medkit and proceeded to clean himself up. Not enough to pass a close inspection, but more than enough to fool a casual observer.

Mac's estimation of the kid rose another few notches. Taking out a vampire was impressive, though not unheard of. Taking care that any injuries were well hidden from prying eyes was something else.

Whoever this kid was, he wasn't normal. Letting his gaze twitch to his partner, he saw the answering nod. For now they would do nothing. Nothing, but follow this interesting young man to see if they could get a grasp on what was going on.

For the first time in a long while, Mac smiled freely.

Covert ops were always so much fun.


End of Chapter 1


Author's Note :

I know, it's short, but it's how it wrote. Mainly laying down a few basics, setting the scene as it were. I have a pretty good idea where I'm going with this, and hope you all enjoy my personal slant on things.

Due to the nature of it, this will be slightly AU from the start, and becoming more separate from canon as time progresses – I'm talking the long view here.

I'm going to be trying to post a new chapter each Friday, so not too long a wait, for those who are curious.

Reviews are always nice – really nice – but not vital.

Ciao for now.