Author: Alan Podjursky <alan.p[at]>

Disclaimer: I own naught.

Pre-Fic Comments: This is probably the only finished work I've done for this group.

Chapter 1

Xander thrust the stake towards the vampire. It used to be a baseball player -- a good one too.

The supernatural beast moved out of his way with that peculiar speed that even the newly risen had, swiftly punching Xander in the gut. He collapsed around the closed hand, falling to the ground as he tried to restrain the natural impulse to heave his guts.

He wasn't a screw up! He wasn't!

"Fucking useless," the vampire said.

It reached for him, to drink his essence, kill him deader than the proverbial doorknob.

Buffy staked it from behind, having finished with it's buddies.

"You should stop coming with me," she said, helping her Xander-shaped friend up.

"Can't keep the Xanman down," he weakly joked.

Xander desperately tried to think of a way that he could fight these monstrousities better, prove that he was capable of doing something.

Physically, he had no illusions. He had the physique of your typical loser slacker. Pathetic. No martial arts training, just blind instinct guiding his wild swings at the undead with stake in hand.

Mentally, he had no illusions. He wasn't capable of making the cognitive leaps that Giles and Willow could, he was no great thinker. He was capable of looking through books for words that he had been given, and getting donuts and coffee for those who could do more.

But a trained orang-utan could do that, he thought to himself. And an orang-utan could probably fight the vamps better.

He wasn't a screw up! He wasn't!

The brown eyed teenager hid the pain and the knowledge of the depth of his failure behind a weak joke and a crazy grin.

"After all these nights, I'm practically indestructable, Mr India Rubber Man."

He had worthwhile qualities! He wasn't useless!

He wished he knew what they were.

Chapter 2

I shuddered back a sigh as I entered my apartment. I looked around; it was getting dingy, dirty, falling apart. Even with an eye missing, I could tell that. Me, the great Zeppo. Moving to the stereo, I put in a compact disc and hit play. Anya had forgotten it when she'd lit out.

<< "Suicide Note Part 1", Pantera, The Great Southern Trendkill >>

I collapsed in my chair, listening to the music and thinking.

Cheap cocaine, a dry inhale, the pills that kill and take the pain away

My eye involuntarily flickered to the table. God, two bottles of Jack, one of Jim, and half one of Finlandia. Shit... and here I had vowed not to be like my old man. Shit, I'm a hypocrite. I couldn't recall the last night I'd been sober when I'd gotten to bed, trying to drown the memories, the worries.

Diet of life, shelter without, the face that cannot see inside yours and mine

What was it that they thought I was? The Heart of the Scoobies? I barely knew my own heart. Fuck, I didn't even know if I loved someone enough to marry them. As for diet... yeah. I lived on a paucity of emotions -- save the darker, heavier ones that outweighed the lighter ones. I sheltered without support -- I had no one to take the shitstorm off me.

When I'm hiding, when I need it, it lets me breathe

My eye flickered again to the bottles. Goddammit, I would not go back to them! I closed my eye. Fuck, the other one still hurt. Fucking priest. Fucking religion.

for our handle on this life, I don't believe this time (it's just time...)

Handle? Who had a handle on this life? The religious? I found it hard as hell to believe that there was a God who cared -- if he did, why did Tara die? Why did Ms Calendar die? Why did Buffy die -- multiple times?

Would you look at me now?

Can you tell I'm a man?

Another shudder. Being a man means shit. My old man is a man, and he's the biggest wank I've ever met. And that's saying a lot, considering who looks back in the mirror.

With these scars on my wrists

To prove I'll try again

Fucking music. It fucking hurts. I look down, to find my right thumb tracing a raised scar line on my... no. I won't look. It's none of Willow's business, it's none of Buffy's business, and it's none of Giles' fucking business.

Try to die again, try to live through this night

Try to die again...

I swallowed back a lump in my throat. What would I do tonight?, I wondered to myself. Drink until I puke, go hunting in another attempt to get killed before Buffy comes across me (again), perhaps go into the kitc--no.

I am going to fucking survive. Even if it kills me.

Forever fooling, free and using, sliding down the slide that breaks a will

Will? Who had will? Maybe my Will had will, but they were the exception. Life was shit, then you died. Free will had no effect on life -- the First proved that to me. Only the powerful had free will. Pure maths, pure power.

The pawns like me, well. Who knows what the names of the footsoldiers in Napoleon's army were?

See? I might be fucking useless, but I do know something.

Mothers angel, getting smarter, how smart are you to regress unfulfilled?

Mother... fucking ha ha ha. Only thing my mother ever called me was a demon. As for the other... Buffy got it on with all her 'loves', and she's still fucking unfulfilled. Still searching for the 'One'. One that doesn't exist. Love is an illusion.

It's a damn shame, but who's to blame?

"No one," I hoarsely said. "No one but myself."

The End