Author's note: this story takes place between Season 6 and 7 of Buffy, and at the beginning of Season 4 for Gilmore Girls. I do not own either of these programs, nor will I ever do so. So please don't me for using them.
Xander had come up with the idea as he watched Giles and Willow head off into the airport, hurrying to catch their flight to England.
They were leaving Sunnydale. Spike had gone gallivanting off somewhere after trying to rape Buffy. Anya was a Vengeance Demon again, and she'd gone gallivanting off to smite men.
The only people left in Sunnydale were him, Buffy and Dawn. And, really, Buffy was just getting over being dead for a few months, and could really do with some quality time alone with her sister.
Xander had earned a fair bit of money as a carpenter, and he hadn't really spent much of it (except for that disastrous wedding). He could, for example, buy a car. Or at least put a down payment on one. And not an old clunker like the one he'd had before, that had died in Oxnard. A proper one.
One that he could actually have a road trip in.
He didn't want to do his grand tour of all 50 states anymore (not that he could've driven to Hawaii anyway), but Xander did want some time away from Sunnydale. Away from the constant fighting and problems he'd had to endure for the last few years, ever since he'd first met Buffy.
Xander would come back, of course. He had responsibilities here. A job. Friends. He wasn't about to throw all of that away. He'd just be gone for the summer.
He'd be back, but right then, Xander just wanted to get out
So Xander arranged with his boss to get a few weeks of leave, citing family reasons.
Then he told Buffy.
Buffy wasn't happy. But then he hadn't expected her to be. Xander tried to explain to her that he just needed to get out, that he couldn't do this anymore.
She seemed to understand. But then, Buffy had done the same thing, when she had run away to LA. She didn't like it, but she understood.
Dawn didn't. She thought that he was leaving her, just like everyone always did. Xander was painfully reminded that Dawn's wish to Halfrek had been to have people stay.
But he couldn't. He needed time away from Sunnydale. He promised that he would be back by the time she started her next grade. Xander was pretty sure Dawn didn't believe him, even though she pretended she did.
It almost broke his heart to leave her. But Xander just had to get out.
~*~Several weeks later
Xander pulled up outside what seemed to be pretty much the only diner in Stars Hollow. He was on his way back to California now. He still had a week and a half before Dawn started back at Sunnydale High (and Xander really had a bad feeling about that place being opened again) so he could afford to take a little time.
"Cheeseburger with fries and a milkshake, please." Xander said, sitting at the bar.
"Coming right up." the man wearing a baseball cap standing behind the counter replied.
Xander was halfway through his burger when he heard a loud bang from behind him. He instinctively ducked and whirled around, eyes darting around as he searched for the source of the sound.
You could take the man out of the Hellmouth town, but not the Hellmouth town out of the man.
"You alright down there?" Baseball Cap said drily.
Xander straightened. "Yeah, sure. Hold on a sec."
Then he got up and walked out, because he'd seen what had caused the noise.
Someone was trying (and failing) to tow his car.
"Hey! That's my car!" Xander yelled. "What are you doing?"
A balding man replied "You're not allowed to leave a vehicle on this spot on the last Thursday of the month, because it will interfere with the soldiers' manoeuvres."
Xander exaggeratedly looked up and down the street. "There aren't any soldiers. So leave my car alone."
Balding Guy raised a finger and waggled it infuriatingly under Xander's nose. "No, but there could be. Indeed, during the Civil War, there would've been."
Xander looked at the sky, hoping it might give him patience. It didn't. "Look, you're clearly crazy, so I'm not going to sue you for trying to tow my car, but if you don't call off that guy you've conned into doing your dirty work, I'll do something I'll probably regret. But not as much as you would."
"Should I stop, sir?" the man trying to attach Xander's car to the tow truck asked.
"No, Kirk." Balding Guy replied. "Keep going."
"Now, listen here." Xander said, taking a step forward. Balding Guy took a step back.
"Look, just give the kid his car back, Taylor." Baseball Cap growled from the doorway.
"I can't, Luke. It's the law." Balding Guy - Taylor replied, fluttering his hands in front of him. "He can have it back in three weeks."
" Xander screamed. "I'm not staying here for three weeks because my car is stopping non-existent soldiers from going out on manoeuvres!"
"That's the law." Taylor said, with a shrug. "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them."
"Come on, you can't just steal my car!"
"I'm not, it's just going to be impounded. But the law's the law, even if it is a few hundred years old." Taylor replied calmly. "I can't change it."
Baseball Cap, otherwise known as Luke, put his hand on Xander's shoulder. "Go inside and finish your burger. I'll talk to him."
Xander opened his mouth to protest, but then realised that if he talked to Taylor for much longer he'd probably whip out the stake he had tucked in his back pocket and stab him, and that would get him in a whole world of trouble.
Although, if the expressions on the faces of crowd of people who had gathered to watch Taylor and Luke's dispute were anything to go by, he'd probably get a medal as well.
Xander was sure of one thing, though. He wouldn't be missing Dawn's first day of school. No matter what happened.
As it turned out, Xander would be missing Dawn's first day of school. Taylor wouldn't be moved, unlike Xander's car, which Kirk had finally managed to tow away.
Apparently, Xander's only chance was at the town meeting in a week. Luke said that Xander should be able to get the town on his side then. Then they might be able to get Taylor to repeal his out-of-date law.
Still, if Xander drove like crazy, he should be able to make to Dawn's first day. But he still had to find somewhere to stay for a week.
"Hey, Luke, is it?" Xander asked. Luke nodded. "Well, Luke, do you know if there's a place in town I can stay for a week?"
Luke opened his mouth to reply, but a woman burst in, plonked herself down next to Xander, and said "Luke, I need to borrow your truck."
"Wait a second." Luke said to Xander. "What do you need my truck for?"
"To take Rory's stuff to Yale, of course." the woman replied, as though it was obvious.
"I thought you were using your car for that." Luke said tiredly.
"Well I could, but Rory's got a lot of stuff. I'd be driving back and forth all day. With your truck it would only be one, maybe two trips."
"Fine." Luke said, exasperatedly, reaching into a pocket for his keys. Then he hesitated. "Hang on. Lorelai, could someone stay in the Dragonfly?"
"Luke, you've seen the place. It won't be fit for people to live there for months."
"Sorry, kid." Luke said to Xander. "Our only inn burned down a while ago, and Lorelai's new one isn't habitable yet."
Lorelai looked at Xander for the first time. "You another one of Luke's nephews?"
Before Xander had a chance to reply, Luke said "No, the kid was just passing through when Taylor stole his car."
"Really? Do tell!" Lorelai said, leaning on the bar. Xander told her what had happened as succinctly as possible.
"Tell you what, kid." Luke said. "Lorelai can give you a lift to wherever you want to go in my truck."
"Thanks, but unless you want to drive all the way to California, I don't think that's really going to work out." Xander said bitterly.
"Hey, you're a valley boy! You ever been to Beverly Hills, Valley Boy?" Lorelai asked excitedly.
"Leave the kid alone, Lorelai." Luke said. "He doesn't need a torrent of pop culture references directed at him."
"It's Xander, actually. Not kid, or Valley Boy." Xander said, acidly. "And, if you don't mind, I'll have a look at the inn and see if I can make a room habitable for a week."
"Unless you're a carpenter or something, you'll be sleeping on a rotting floor." Lorelai warned.
"Good thing I'm like Jesus then." Xander replied.
Lorelai frowned. "You can do miracles?"
"I'm a carpenter. I worked construction back home." Xander corrected.
Lorelai let out a moue of disappointment. "Shame. We could do with a Jesus around."
"I think Taylor would crucify me." Xander said drily.
Lorelai laughed. "Oh, I like
you. Can I keep him, Luke? Can I?"
"Leave him be, Lorelai." Luke said.
Lorelai gave Xander a sidelong look. "I'll tell you what. My daughter's going off to university in a couple of days. You can take her room for a week, if you help out fixing the inn."
"You- you're asking me to move in with you?" Xander asked, baffled.
Lorelai nudged him with her shoulder. "I'm sure we can work out some kind of... arrangement." Lorelai said seductively.
Xander blushed tomato red. "I - you - uh - what - um - I" he stammered.
"Don't mind her. She delights in making people uncomfortable." Luke said, smiling.
"Yeah, but I've never made anyone turn into a gibbering wreck before." Lorelai said, watching Xander in fascination. "Rory's going to love this."
Luke clapped Xander on the shoulder. "Good luck, kid. You're going to need it."