When Rory had volunteered to help Lorelai fix all the little things that needed fixing around the inn before it could be properly opened for business, she had fully expected that Xander would drop by at some point.
She hadn’t expected that he would running in, wild eyed and out of breath, and declare in a slightly panicky voice “Come on, Rory. There’s still time. We can make a run for it. Is there a back door out of this place?” He grabbed her arm and began dragging her away. “Come on! It’s not too late.”
Rory tried to twist her arm free without success. Settling for planting her feet firmly on the ground and trying not to move (she didn’t have much success with that, either), Rory said “Why? Run from what? What’s going on?”
“No time! Got to-“ Xander trailed off as two young women, a blonde and a brunette, came into the lobby. They looked like they were barely restraining themselves from bursting out laughing. “Too late. Now we’re really in trouble.”
Rory frowned. She was sure that she recognised one of the women, the little blonde. It would probably come to her in a minute. Rory wondered who they were that they could drive Xander into such a state. They looked human, but she supposed that demons and things generally did, right up until they ate you.
“Really, Xan, you should know better than to run from us.” The brunette said with a grin. “We’re faster than you.”
“Anyway, shouldn’t you introduce us?” the blonde said, evidently trying to be serious.
Xander sighed. “Rory, Buffy. Buffy, Rory. Rory, Faith. Faith, Rory. Buffy, uh, Faith. Faith, Buffy.”
Buffy’s lips twitched. Faith turned to her, extended a hand and said “Nice to meet you, B.”
“Nice to meet you, too.” Buffy replied. “I guess it must be a different Faith I‘ve known for years.”
Suddenly it all made sense to Rory. Well, who the women were made sense. Why Xander wanted to run away from them, not so much. “Aren’t these your friends?” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth. “Why were we running from them?”
Apparently, she hadn’t whispered quietly enough. She should’ve guessed that Slayers would’ve been able to overhear her. “Yeah, Xan. That’s a good question. Why would you want to run from us?” Faith asked cheerfully.
“Because you're doubtlessly going to make look like a complete cretin in front of my girlfriend, and I'd like to avoid that if at all possible.” Xander said honestly.
“We wouldn’t do that, would we?” Faith asked Buffy innocently.
Buffy shrugged. “I think we probably would, actually. Besides, I thought you were King of the Cretins?”
“I abdicated. So can we leave now? You’ve looked at each other. We should probably leave before the speaking starts.”
Faith ignored him. “So, you’re Rory.”
Rory nodded. “That’s me.”
“Are you sure you’re not a guy?”
Rory frowned. Feeling the need to defend his girlfriend (or possibly to protect Rory from saying something caustic which would cause Faith to lose her temper and knocking her out) Xander said “What do you mean, is she sure that she’s not a guy? Can't you tell?”
Faith shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s kind of flat.”
“Whoa there.” Buffy said. “That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?”
“I call ‘em like I see ‘em, B. Or, you know, as I don’t see ‘em.”
“Who are you, exactly?” Rory said coldly. “Xander has told me about Buffy, but he hasn’t ever mentioned you.”
“He didn’t?” Faith said, surprised. “You didn’t tell her?”
“Can you blame me for that?” Xander replied unhappily.
“I was his first. Guess it’s a good thing someone taught him how to steer around some curves, because you sure ain't going to. But then, I suppose that Dawnie wouldn’t have, either, so I guess it doesn’t matter.”
Rory was beginning to feel thoroughly lost now. “What? What does Dawn have to do with this?”
Before Xander could defend himself, or even make a dash for it, Faith continued with a smirk. “He didn’t mention that, either, huh? Xan, you should probably mention that you live next door to a girl who had a massive crush on you.”
“Is there anything else you forgot to tell me?” Rory said, in a dangerous voice.
“Why am I suddenly the bad guy?” Xander complained. “It’s not like I even knew about Dawn until a few days ago, and then she basically jumped on Jess so it didn’t matter. As for Faith, anything we had was kind of killed when she tried to strangle me.”
“Faith, I think enough is enough now.” Buffy said. “This is just a bit beyond the teasing we had planned.”
“Wait, you planned this?” Xander exclaimed. “What did I ever do to deserve this?”
“But, B, I haven’t even mentioned how Xander crushed on you for years.”
“What is this?” Rory said. “Xander, do you know any women who aren’t pretty and which you haven’t had a relationship with at some point?”
“Um, I never thought that surrounding myself with beautiful women was something I would have to apologize for, but hey, I'm sorry.” Xander said, hoping that that would lead Rory to forget the second part of her question. When she just looked at him coolly, Xander flushed, opened his mouth, promptly shut it again and eventually managed to come up with one name. “Um, Andrew?”
Both Faith and Buffy nodded as though that made perfect sense. Rory frowned. “I know I'm not one to talk, but isn’t Andrew a guy’s name?”
“Yeah, well, you haven’t met Andrew.” Buffy said. “He’s in a class all by himself.”
“Oh, goody.” Xander said under his breath. “Let’s all bash Andrew and then we can stop talking.”
“Xan.” Buffy said with a smile. “You know it having a plan doesn’t really work when you say it out loud.”
“How do you know that it wasn’t all part of my masterful plan?”
“Um, I don’t know, maybe because I’ve met you?”
“Ouch. I'm hurt. Almost as hurt as the fact that you and Faith conspired against me. It’s enough to make a man paranoid.” Xander countered.
“He has a point.” Faith said.
“You’d think living in Sunnydale would’ve taught him that paranoia is almost never unfounded.” Buffy responded.
“She has a point.” Faith said.
Xander shrugged. “No demon can, like, stop Valley Jesus! Only one he calls friend, a traitor, can do that. Totally Judas, I say!”
“Huh?” Faith and Buffy said in unison.
Xander clapped a hand to his face. “Suddenly I understand why Giles has problems telling people things. Everything goes much more smoothly when you don’t.”
Buffy sobered. “But seriously, Rory, if you-“
“Oh, you’re going to give me the shovel talk now are you?” Rory said angrily. “After I’ve stood here and been insulted by her, now I have to put up with being threatened by you? Well, listen here, Buffy. I haven’t done anything to hurt Xander, whereas he erased my memory of him, left me thinking he was dead for months and then got into an amazingly distracting water fight with my ex-boyfriend, which will probably remain etched in my brain until I die. So, if anyone is going to get given a shovel talk, I vote for him.”
Buffy gawped at her for several seconds. Faith burst out laughing. “Oh, I like
Eventually, Xander managed to convince Buffy and Faith to leave before there was a massive cat fight (which, ordinarily, he wouldn’t mind seeing, but having a normal person get in a scrap with two Slayers was never a good idea) largely because Michel turned up and diffused things by being astoundingly grumpy.
However, turning to Rory, Xander suspected that Michel didn’t have anything on the massive storm of grumpiness that was about to swamp him.
“Why didn’t you tell me about any of that?” Rory said in a deceptively mild voice.
Xander sighed and rubbed his face. He tried to think of something to say that would stop this argument before it even began, but he just came up blank. “Because it’s embarrassing. No one wants to admit that they lost their virginity in a one night stand with someone who later tried to kill them. Or that they had a crush on someone who only showed interest in them to make their 250 year old boyfriend jealous, or under an accidental love spell. I know I told you about Cordy, though. Willow, too. I didn’t know about Dawn, not until recently, and since she’s with Jess now I just didn’t think it was really important.”
“See, now, you being jealous seems wildly hypocritical. I told you about all of my relationships. You hid yours.”
“Jealous? I wasn’t jealous. Jess was the one who attacked me, remember? He was the jealous one.”
“Oh? And what about Trevor? I guess you weren’t jealous about him, either?”
“Who the hell is Trevor?”
“That guy I went on a date with just after you left for Sunnydale the first time.”
Xander’s face lit with understanding. “Oh, Neville’s frog! Yeah, I'd forgotten about him. Although, to be fair, you did only tell me about him in order to make me jealous, so I hardly think that one counts.”
“I love you, Rory.” Xander said suddenly.
Rory just stared at him, as though she had turned to stone. It wasn’t the first time he had said that, she knew, but the other times she had been turning into a vampire and she had half-thought that he was just saying it to make her feel better.
He had certainly never said it with that expression on his face.
Xander chuckled self-consciously. “Um, Rory, would you mind saying something? Because standing there staring and looking like you’ve had a stroke is kind of freaking me out.”
“What?” Rory said in a dazed voice. “Oh, yeah. Sorry. Carry on.”
“I just wanted you to know that. Because I will doubtlessly do stupid things in the future, and you’ll probably wonder why on earth you put up with me, but I just want you to know from the outset that I love you.”
Rory shook her head as though to clear it. “Suddenly I'm finding it really difficult to remember what I was angry about.”
“Oh, cool. So, if you wouldn’t mind, can we just skip over the anger and the fighting and just move on to making out?”
Rory thought about it for a few seconds, although she didn’t really need to. “Yeah, I'm good with that.”
Sometime later (quite a long time later, but sadly not as long a time as Xander would’ve liked due to a surprise appearance from Lorelai) Xander was standing by the plot of land where the convalescence home was going to be built. Now that he had finally settled in and there was no longer any Ethan-related crises going on, he would actually have to start building the thing.
First, though, he had to come up with a name for it. Xander was kind of stumped on that front.
Stars Hollow Convalescence Home was just dull. The Watchers’ Convalescence Home was kind of creepy, and The Slayers Convalescence Home wasn’t much better. Valley Jesus Convalescence Home would confuse everyone, as would Batman or Van Helsing House (although the latter had possibilities, in terms of it being mainly filled with vampire hunters).
He thought about calling it Ro-Gil House, but he was pretty sure that Rory would have his head if he did that. The fact that he suspected that her grandparents would probably love it didn’t make him feel any better. Lion Girl just sounded ridiculous.
Then Xander smiled as an idea came to him. It was probably just as bad of an idea as the others had been, but he was the one who was going to be building and running the place so he didn’t really care. He liked it.
Coffee Lion House it would be. Xander could already imagine the signs he could make for it.
After Dawn left Luke’s to try and find her sister, Jess went upstairs and pulled out his Moleskine. It was just as unused as it had been when Dawn had given it to him. He hadn’t even opened it. He hadn’t felt as though he had anything even remotely interesting to write.
Now he did. He knew exactly where to start. So he picked up the Moleskine and a pen and went down to the bridge. He sat down, opened his book, and began to write.
Jess knew that Dawn thought that there was nothing better than a good bit of Wordsworth, and that Modernism was worthless. Jess thought that you could say what you like about T.S. Eliot, he understood how the world worked.
On the inside of the front cover, Jess wrote: What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
Then Jess settled down and started to write an ending of his own.