Title: Three Coffees and a Destiny To Go
Author: Bastard Snow
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of this. Joss owns his stuff. The other stuff is owned by somebody else. Not me.
Timeframe: Post S7 Buffy, umm... I guess set during the first episode of this season for GG.
Summary: Willow, Xander and Buffy are driving around finding new Slayers. They stop at a little town in Connecticut. . .
A/N: Thanks to Drake (as always) for Beta'ing, and suggesting the title, and catching a very significant error that would have just ruined the whole thing. This story kinda took over my head for the past couple days, so I just chugged it out.
Pairings: Just some friendship stuff for the Scoobs. Otherwise. . . who knows?
Luke looked up and saw a young, dark-haired man, no more than 25 years old, sitting at the counter, with an eye-patch over his left eye, a big bag under his right, and a lopsided smile on his face.
“It’s an off hour,” Luke said, returning the smile.
“What’s good in this place?” asked the stranger.
“Nothin’” Luke said, judging the man to be of good humor. “Unless you like grease or coffee.”
The young man grinned. “You just said the magic word. One for me and two to go?” Luke nodded. “I’ve been driving almost twelve hours,” the young man said. “My friends decided they don’t need licenses.”
“Female travelers?” Luke asked.
The young man rolled his eye in response.
“I know the feeling. I’m Luke by the way.”
“Xander. Nice to meet you.”
“So where do you hail from?” Luke asked as he set down one mug of coffee and two to-go cups.
“California,” Xander said, sipping his coffee. “At least originally. We recently relocated to Cleveland.”
“Big change. How come?”
“We run a very specialized school, and our benefactor wanted us to set up in Cleveland, so Cleveland it was. Go where the money wants,” Xander said as he dropped two sugars and two milks into one of the to-go cups.
“What school?” Luke asked.
Xander smiled and poured three milks and one sugar into the other coffee. “You won’t have heard of it. It’s very new, and extremely selective. We’re actually in town hoping to talk to a uh. . . potential student.”
“You don’t look much like a teacher, no offense.”
“It’s a unique curriculum.”
The door to the diner opened.
“Xander!” yelled an attractive young blonde woman who stood in the doorway
“What?” he asked without turning around.
“We told you three minutes! It’s been at least twice that.”
Xander grinned at Luke. Luke decided it was the grin of a man who was about to risk his life.
“Dammit woman! I’m drinking coffee!” Xander yelled.
The blonde looked insulted, affronted, angry and oddly in good humor. All these emotions played out across her face as Xander held up four fingers where Luke could see, and put one down each second. When all the fingers were down, the blonde looked hopeful.
Xander smiled and held out one of the to-go cups. With surprising speed, the young woman approached the counter and snagged the cup of coffee from Xander’s hands.
“Does it have -- “
“Yes, Buffy. Three creams, one sugar, just the way you like it,” Xander said.
The young woman grinned, kissed Xander on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said with a silly grin. Xander handed her the other cup as well.
“That’s for Willow,” he said softly. “Did you find the address?”
“No, Willow’s working on it. Still trying to figure out this Rory’s last name.”
Xander shook his head. “Every time you say that I look for my uncle to show up.”
Luke was immediately on guard. “Did you say Rory?” he asked.
“Yeah, she’s the student we’re looking for,” Xander said. “You know her?”
“I know pretty much everybody,” Luke said. “What kind of school is this, *exactly*?”
Xander was a little surprised at Luke’s suddenly harsh tone, but plugged on anyway.
“Like I said, it’s a very specialized school. The girls we recruit are all very special girls, with specific skills that we help them hone. If you could give us her address, you’d save us a lot of trouble.” Xander smiled.
“Rory’s committed to Yale,” Luke said with a slight glare.
“Well, we’re not forcing her or anything,” Xander said. “We just want to talk to her, let her know what we’re about. We think she might be interested.”
Luke looked at them, appraising them. “Gimme a minute.”
Luke moved to the other side of the counter, picked up the telephone and dialed. After a few seconds he started talking in a hushed voice. Buffy leaned closer to Xander so she could whisper in his ear.
“He’s telling Rory’s mom that there’s someone here looking for Rory,” Buffy whispered. “And that he thinks we’re nice enough but isn’t comfortable giving us their address. Now he’s listening. Now he’s describing. . . hey, I’m not *that* short. And he says he doesn’t know what kind of school it is, but that it was weird that we didn’t know her last name. And yes he told us she’s committed to Yale. And we said we just want to talk. And now he’s saying he’ll see her in a few minutes and goodbye.” Buffy moved back farther away from Xander.
“Okay,” Luke said.
“We’re not getting their address,” Xander said, smiling.
“No,” Luke said. “Could you hear me?”
Xander shook his head truthfully. He could not hear Luke’s conversation. “I know people,” he said. “Truthfully, if some strangers showed up looking to recruit my daughter -- not that I have one -- for some school, and they didn’t even know my last name, I wouldn’t be particularly interested in inviting them into my home either.”
“Oh, no, no, no, I’m not Rory’s father,” Luke said.
“I uh. . . didn’t mean to imply you were. Speaking. . . metaphorically and all that.”
“Oh! Oh. Right. Yeah. Good.”
The door opened again. A redhead this time stood there, and seeing her two friends sitting and talking to the man behind the counter, she got frustrated.
“Guys!” she said. “What’s taking so long?”
Xander held up the other cup of coffee and the redhead shot over to the counter and took it from his hands.
“Thank you, Xander,” she said, sitting on his other side and giving him kiss on his other cheek.
“Willow, this is Luke. Luke, Willow. Luke was just about to tell us. . .”
Luke got a weird vibe off the newcomer, but spoke anyway. “Yeah,” he said. “As I was going to say, Lorelai, that’s Rory’s mom, is going to come by to talk to you. She’ll be here in a few minutes if you want to wait. But I’m telling you, they’re already set on Yale.”
“We’d love to wait,” Xander said, finishing off his coffee. “I usually like to change into my suit before meeting parents, but I will be happy to make an exception.”
Luke nodded and pointed to a table. “You can wait for her over there. That’s her table anyway.”
“Her table?” Buffy asked.
“What can I say? Lorelai gets in a rut.”
The trio of newcomers moved over to the table Luke had indicated. Xander turned back to Luke. “What is her last name, anyway?”
“Gilmore,” Luke said.
Xander nodded his thanks and went to sit with Buffy and Willow.
“This should be fine,” Willow said. “Xander, you do most of the talking. Mothers love you.”
“No they don’t,” Xander said.
“My mother loved you,” Buffy said.
“So does mine,” Willow added.
“And mine didn’t, so two out of three ain’t bad, right?” Xander semi-joked. The three old friends fell into old patterns of banter to pass the time.
The door opened, and a thin, odd-looking man walked in.
“Can I put up this flyer?” he asked Luke.
“What is it?”
“It’s a flyer. Words, printed on paper, advertising something.”
“Kirk. . .”
“I’m trying to sell something, Luke.”
“What are you selling?”
“Things I made.”
“It’s wooden sculptures of famous Stars Hollow residents.”
“There *are* no famous Stars Hollow residents.”
“Sookie is famous.”
“Sookie is not famous.”
“Taylor is famous.”
“Taylor is not famous. Taylor is just well known.”
Kirk noticed for the first time the three strangers in the diner.
“I bet they know Taylor,” Kirk said, turning to them.
“Taylor who?” Willow asked.
“Sorry,” Willow said. Buffy and Xander both shook their heads.
“See?” Luke said.
“Well. . .” said Kirk. “That’s not the point. Can I put up my flyer?”
Luke sighed. “Sure. Put up your flyer. Are you going to order anything?”
“Oh. I’ll just have my usual,” Kirk said as he walked to the window. “Hey, do you have any tape?”
Luke banged his head on a cabinet. “No, Kirk, I don’t have any tape. And you don’t have a usual, you order something different every time you’re in here.”
“I’ll have coffee and chocolate-chip pancakes. How do you not have tape?”
“It’s a diner, Kirk, not an office supply store.”
“Yeah, but you don’t have tape?”
“All right, you don’t have tape.”
The door opened again and an attractive woman with dark, flowing hair walked into the diner. Luke immediately poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.
“So where are the uh. . .”
Luke nodded at the table where Buffy, Willow and Xander sat. All three wore comforting smiles.
“You’re from a school?” asked the woman.
“Yes,” Xander said, standing up. “I’m Xander Harris, these are my colleagues and friends, Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. We’re from the Cleveland School for Gifted Girls. . . that’s only a temporary name. You must be Lorelai Gilmore?”
“I am,” she said, sitting across the table from Xander. “Rory’s already committed to Yale. In fact, we’re packing things up. Rory is at home right now packing things for Yale and you’re here talking to me about a different school.”
“We understand, Mrs. Gilmore –“ Willow started.
“Miss.” Lorelai corrected. “Actually, I don’t like that either. Just call me Lorelai. Aren’t you guys really young to be teaching?”
Xander opened his mouth to speak but was quickly cut off.
“Lorelai, do you have any tape? I need to hang my flyer.”
Lorelai turned around. “Why would I carry tape, Kirk?”
“Some people carry tape,” Kirk said.
“Maybe crazy people,” Lorelai retorted.
“That’s not true. My mother carried tape,” said Kirk.
Lorelai turned back to the table. “That only strengthens my argument,” she muttered. “So. What can I do for you?”
“Lorelai,” Xander said, smiling. “We represent a very specialized school for girls with very specific talents. The sch—“
“I don’t want the company line,” Lorelai said. “Tell me what you want.”
“Okay,” Xander said. “Your daughter is special in a way most people can’t comprehend. She has very specific talents that she, and you, need to be aware of. We know the extent of her talents, and can help her hone them if she wants to.”
“What kind of ‘talents’ are you talking about?” Lorelai asked. “How can you possibly know that much about my daughter? You didn’t even know our last name.”
“Has your daughter recently been breaking things?” Willow asked softly. “Doors, mugs, just smashing them for no apparent reason?”
“About eighty girls across America suddenly started breaking things about two months ago,” Xander said.
“We weren’t in America two months ago,” Lorelai said.
“Seven hundred sixty-two girls world-wide started doing the same thing at the same time,” said Buffy.
“So, what are you telling me, my daughter is some kind of freak?”
“Not at all,” Xander said, shaking his head vehemently. “Your daughter is a member of a very special group of girls, with abilities unlike those of any others in the world.”
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” Lorelai said.
“Lorelai, is there somewhere more private we can talk?” Xander asked.
Lorelai looked to Luke pleadingly.
“Kirk, get your ass outta here,” Luke said, coming out from behind the counter.
“But, my pancakes,” Kirk said.
“Some other time,” said Luke.
“I’ll put it up, I promise, now leave.”
“Fine,” Kirk said. “But if this treatment continues I’ll report you to the Better Business Bureau.”
“I’m scared. Go.”
Kirk left the diner, and Luke locked the door behind him, turning over the ‘Open’ sign to say ‘Closed.’
“Come on,” he said, tossing the towel on his shoulder behind the counter. “You can use my apartment.”
Luke led the group up the stairs to the apartment over the diner, let everyone take seats, then stood behind Lorelai, arms crossed.
“Are you sure you want Luke to—“
“When it comes to Rory,” Lorelai said, “anything you need to say to me, you can say to him.”
Xander nodded once. “Okay. This is where we stop lying. Has your daughter showed signs of unreasonable strength and speed, Lorelai?”
Xander nodded again. “That’s our fault. All the girls across the world who are going through the same thing? That’s our fault as well.”
“How did you—“
“We’ll come to that,” Xander said. “But here’s what it comes down to. Your daughter is part of a great heritage of powerful young women who have a destiny. Buffy is also part of that line of young women. And I guarantee you she’s the strongest person you’ve ever met.”
“I. . . once met Hulk Hogan in line at a store,” Lorelai said.
Xander blinked. “Um. . . okay.”
“It’s just. . . he’s really strong,” said Lorelai. “I don’t think she’s stronger than Hulk Hogan. I mean, she doesn’t look as strong as me.”
Very quietly, Buffy slid one hand under Xander’s butt, something he had oddly become accustomed to in these little outings of theirs, and lifted him three feet off the couch.
“Trust me,” Xander said. “She’s stronger.”
Lorelai and Luke were both silent as Buffy lowered Xander back to the couch.
“Anyway,” Xander said, “the real point behind all of this is that there’s a different world out there. One you know nothing of. It’s a darker world. One with vampires, and demons, and people who are generally trying to either take over the world, or send it to hell on a weekly basis.”
“Excuse me, vampires?” Luke asked, disbelievingly. “You’re nuts. There’s no such thing as vampires. Or demons, unless you’re talking about the personal kind.”
“Yeah,” Lorelai said. “And magic, as we learned from Fox, is just a bunch of parlor tricks with mirrors and smoke and misdirect—“
Lorelai cut off as Willow floated a large stack of books around the room using only the power of her mind.
“Magic is very real,” Xander said, picking a book out of the air. “And so is everything else.” He looked at the book. “On the Road. Good choice, just avoid Oxnard.”
“Are you ever –“ Buffy started.
“No,” Xander said emphatically. “Never.”
Both young women shook their heads. Lorelai and Luke seemed to be convinced by the floating books.
“So, where does Rory fit into this?” Luke asked, placing his hands on Lorelai’s shoulders, both for his comfort and hers. She instinctively took one of his hands in her own.
Xander nodded. “This is the part where you hate us. Lorelai, Rory, because of a spell we cast, has been Chosen to fight the darkness. She is what is called a ‘Slayer’, and no, Willow,” he said, cutting off the Wicca before she got started, “I’m not going to do the Giles speech.”
Willow slumped back into the couch, pouting.
“I hate that thing,” Xander said. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Here’s the deal. Rory has powers. She’s faster, stronger, more agile and has a better constitution than every single person in this room except the Buffster here. We’ve been fighting this fight for seven years now, together. We’ve stopped the world from ending more times than we’d care to count.”
Both Luke and Lorelai paled.
“The unfortunate truth is, your daughter will become a target for the forces of darkness simply because of what she is. I won’t lie. Throughout the history of the Slayers, most of them live very short, dangerous lives. But Buffy here, with the help of Willow, me, and some other friends, has outlived every Slayer on record. For a long time, there was only one Slayer against every single demon out there. Now there are almost a thousand. We have to believe that will make for better odds, and a greater life expectancy.”
“We understand that Rory has been accepted to Yale,” Willow said. “We wouldn’t want her to give up her education for anything, especially at a first rate institution like that. But Rory needs to know what’s out there, and she needs to be prepared. And we can do that.”
The three old friends sat back in the couch and waited.
“So. . . so let me get this straight. Demons, magic, vampires, all of that is real, and you want to take away my little girl and have her die? Is that what you’re telling me?!?”
“No,” Xander said. “We’re not going to force you or Rory to do anything you don’t want to do. If you choose, we can walk out of here right now, and you can forget this whole thing ever happened. This whole spiel here is not meant to be comforting, it’s meant to be truthful. In times past, Slayers would often be taken from their parents, or forced to hide what they were from their family and friends. Buffy proved that system didn’t work, and we’re not aching to repeat mistakes of the past.”
“We’re really not even trying to recruit Rory into the fight,” Buffy said softly. “We’ve been through that for seven years, and we wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But we think Rory deserves the chance to know who she is, and at the very least have some idea of what she can do. But we won’t even do that without your consent.”
“But you would have,” Luke said, angrily. “If Rory had come along today, you would have told her all of this, without telling us first.”
None of the Scoobies missed the implied relationship in that statement.
“Yes,” Xander said. “But we’re not about undermining authority. We’re not about trying to take anybody’s daughter away. We’re not about ruining lives. We educate, we inform, we occasionally try to persuade, but we never, ever, force.”
Xander turned to Willow, who pulled a file and a small bag out of her purse and handed it to him.
“This is more information,” Xander said, holding the file out to Lorelai. She tentatively took it with her free hand. “In there is contact information, some basic stuff about our school, and who we are. In the bag is a small talisman. It serves two purposes. First, it will mask about ninety percent of Rory’s powers from people looking for them. It’s not a guarantee against trouble, but it’s the best we can do. Second, it’s an emergency signal. If she breaks it on purpose, and yes we can tell the difference, then the cavalry comes running. Rory’s safety is our first priority.”
Lorelai looked at the bag in her hand, her eyes wet with tears, afraid for her daughter, then looked up at Xander. “Time?” she asked, simply.
“Take all the time you need,” he said.
Both Luke and Lorelai were staring at the file with fear in their eyes.
Xander nodded to the two young women sitting next to him, and they all got up to leave. As they got to the door, Lorelai spoke up. “How did you lose your eye?”
Xander stopped. “I lost it in a fight in the basement of a vineyard a few months ago,” he said.
“Where in California?” Luke asked.
“Sunnydale,” said Buffy.
“Your eye,” Lorelai choked out. “Is that the worst that happened?”
“No,” Xander said calmly, smoothly. “The worst was losing people I loved because I couldn’t protect them.”
Lorelai nodded weakly, and the three Scoobies left.
“I’m sure she’s in a good place,” Willow said, wrapping her arm around Xander’s waist. “I’m sure she’s. . . where Buffy was.”
Xander nodded. “Me too, Will. I think so too.”
The three friends let themselves out of the diner and got into the car Giles had procured for them. Xander slipped behind the wheel, Willow into the back and Buffy into the passenger seat.
“I hate doing this,” Xander said, after fastening his seatbelt. “Messing up these people’s lives. Scaring them half to death. Making them believe. It sucks. The whole thing sucks.”
“We can’t just leave them out there, unaware, Xan,” Buffy said, resting her hand on top of his. “It’s necessary work.”
“I know,” Xander said. “It just sucks.” He shook his head.
Willow, feeling the tension of the moment, took it upon herself to play Xander’s normal role. “Yeah, but sometimes you get lucky and get to talk to a total babe like Lorelai.”
Xander grinned. “She was really hot. Do you think she’s single?”
“She didn’t wear a ring,” Buffy said. “But I’d guess that Luke guy has a ‘special place’ in her heart. And by the way, it’s a little disturbing to listen to you two go on about girls all the time.”
Xander started the engine. “You’re just jealous that Willow came around to my way of thinking.”
“I so am not!” Buffy denied.
Willow smiled, satisfied with a job well done, and the three friends drove off.
* * * * *
“So what are you going to do?” Luke asked.
Lorelai wiped her eyes clean. “Well,” she said with a sniffle. “Rory’s a big girl. I think we need to tell her.”
The pronoun did not go unnoticed by Luke. “We?” he asked.
Lorelai looked up at him. “Luke, I need you with me on this. I... I can’t do this without you. Please?”
“Of course,” he said. “I just. . . Of course, you know I’d do anything for Rory.”
Lorelai sighed. “She’s not even a part of it yet, and I already hate this.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to like it. They were pretty clear about not liking it.”
“But they still do it,” Lorelai said.
Luke sighed and nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Says something, doesn’t it?”
“That they’re crazy?” Lorelai asked.
“That,” Luke said. “And it’s important.”
“What do you think Rory will say?”
“You’re her best friend, you figure it out,” Luke said with a smile.
Lorelai let out a harsh chuckle. “Okay. Can we go get this over with?”
“Sure,” Luke said. “Let’s go.”
* * * * *
Three hours later. A Holiday Inn somewhere in Connecticut.
The door to the room opened and Willow stepped inside.
“Got it,” Willow said, holding up a pad of paper and pocketing her cell phone. “Giles had our next stop all ready to go.”
“Where is—“ Xander was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. “Dammit,” he said. He dragged himself off the bed – which Willow promptly stole – and grabbed his phone from on top of the TV cabinet.
“Hello?” he asked. He listened for a few moments. “Of course,” he said. “No, I completely understand.”
He turned to Willow and made a writing motion with one hand, and she tossed him her pad of paper and a pen. Xander deftly caught both and started writing.
“Okay,” he said. “Okay. Right. No, that’s no problem at all. We can be there in less than an hour. Great. We look forward to meeting her. Thank you.” Xander hung up, then flopped down on the bed next to Willow. Buffy was asleep on the other bed.
“They told Rory?” Willow asked.
“Yup,” he said.
“They have more questions?”
“She doesn’t quite believe them but her powers make her wonder?”
“You’re finally going to tell us what happened in Oxnard?”
“Yu—No!” he said. “You quit doing that you little witch.”
“Sorry,” she said, smiling. “Come on, wake the monster. We have to get on the road if we’re going to be there in an hour.”
“I heard that,” Buffy said, her voice muffled by a pillow.
“And she responded,” Xander said. “Meaning she recognizes ‘monster’ as her true name.”
All three pulled themselves off the beds, performed some very basic grooming, and left the room.
“Guess we’re gonna have to give Robin this next assignment,” Xander said. “Darn, and I was hoping to get back out on the open road immediately.”
“Yeah,” Willow said, pushing the call button for the elevator. “I’ll call Giles and have him talk to Wood.”
“Hey,” Buffy said, “where was our next stop, anyway?”
The elevator arrived, the doors opened and the three friends stepped in.
“Some place called Smallville, Kansas,” Willow said. “Girl named Lana.”
“Eh,” Xander said. “Sounds boring, anyway.”
The elevator doors closed.