Standard disclaimer: Spike, Giles, and the rest belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox, etc. This work is unauthorized and not for profit. Timeframe: One night after "Forever"
The ground about the grave was disturbed ... but not much. Not as much as Spike would have expected, and somehow, despite everything, he felt a bit of relief about that. Whether the niblet had failed, or had changed her mind, at least now they could start dealing with the reality.
Much the same way Spike had to.
He walked slowly up to the headstone, paused ... bowed his head a moment ... and laid a single lily on the grave. Stolen, of course; grabbed from a batch seven rows over, but that wasn't the point of the gesture, anyway, and for a vampire short on spending money, there had to be compromises.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
Spike turned to see Giles approach, with a look in his eyes flickering between contempt and murder. He got up slowly, turned solemnly to face the Watcher. "Probably much the same thing as you, mate," he said quietly. "And isn't there some rule about respect?"
"Respect." Giles' voice was flat, but with more than a hint of disbelief, derision and loathing.
"Respect." Spike's voice was just as flat, but it held a challenge, and maybe a hint of pride.
"After all you've done, you expect me to believe you're here solely out of respect-"
"Don't matter what you believe, mate," Spike shot back. "I respected that woman, I come to pay my respects, and you, sir, are not helping matters."
Giles shook his head. "This is about loss. Finality. Your mere walking around this cemetery is an affront to all of that. It's a mockery of the dead, Spike."
And with that, Spike was nose-to-nose with Giles. "I'm - not - mocking - anything, Watcher. That woman..." He paused, gathering his thoughts, trying to damp down the flames of anger. "Joyce always had my respect. Hell, I admired the woman."
They held their ground for a second, two, three, and then Giles backed off a pace. "Do tell," he said, biting off the syllables.
"Night before Saint Vigeous, three years back, when I pulled that raid on the school. Joyce took me on with a bloody fire axe, didn't know sod-all about vampires, Slayers, or any of that lot. No doubt she was afraid, but she was standing up for her daughter. If she'd known what I was then, she'd probably just have made sure to split my skull open."
"Would that she had," responded the Watcher.
"But it wasn't personal, you see. Didn't matter that I was a vampire. She was just being a mother bear, protecting her cub. I came into her house and she didn't treat me like the bloody Creature from the Black Lagoon. She was the one person in the last hundred years who treated me as a person. She and I could actually talk."
Giles sat silent for a moment.
"Just like normal folks. About the silly little things you take for granted. It was..." Spike took a breath for effect, or maybe just in a long-forgotten reflex. "It was better than drinking blood, sometimes."
The two sat quietly by the headstone for a minute. Then Spike broke the silence again.
"July twentieth, nineteen sixty-nine. What were you doing that day, Giles?"
"What?" Giles was caught completely off guard.
"Day they walked on the moon. What were you doing that day?"
"I'm supposed to have the bloody day memorized?"
"Just curious, mate." The vampire's voice softened. "I know I remember what I was doing that day. Pretty big day, when you think about it. One to remember, really."
Giles sighed softly, then closed his eyes. "I was a boy in England. Being pushed towards the duties of the Watchers by my father. Those days, I was more interested in rock'n'roll, jets and such. I followed Apollo, of course ... and I wasn't going to miss the moon walk for anything. I had to beg my mum and dad to turn on the television ... they kept saying things about the bloody Americans, going to plant the bloody Stars and Stripes on the moon. Didn't matter, though - it was too big to ignore."
"Dru knew about it in '49," Spike said softly. "Twenty years earlier."
Giles snorted. "Of course."
"Oh, I didn't understand it at the time. One night she just looked up into the full moon, got that faraway look in her eyes, and said..." He paused. "'I see a man in a bubble walking on the moon,' she said. 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.' I thought she was just being ... charming."
Giles sighed. "You mean loony."
"You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to. Anyway, the day comes ... and I wouldn't have cared. It was just one day like any other to me, only Scarsdale instead of Budapest or Prague. Except Drusilla gets that same look in her eyes, tells me we have to turn on the television. I told her we couldn't do that, because we didn't have a television; she insisted we had to find one. Quickly."
"Because they were showing the moon landing," Giles whispered.
"Too right. So naturally, I'm worried, I don't know what's going on, but we find a house, pull the desparate stranded traveler routine, come in, have a late dinner, and turn on the telly, and there it is. Walter Cronkite's having an out-of-body experience, then they cut to the grainy footage. Armstrong puts his boot on the moon, and then it hits me."
Giles looked up.
"They did something that day that can never be undone, no matter what happens. The Master could have risen and gone roughshod, but he couldn't touch that print. Acthala could have wiped out the whole bloody human race, but that flag would still be on the moon. None of the older ones would even have thought to do it, so they wouldn't consider undoing it." Spike paused. "God forbid Glory gets her hands on Dawn, does whatever key mojo with the niblet, even if the worst happens ... Armstrong's bootprint will still be up there. Men will have walked on the moon. That bloody bootprint is forever."
"So why bring it up now?" Giles asked.
"I was just wondering. Wondering what Joyce was doing that day."
Giles sat and shook his head softly, saying nothing.
"I'm sure that if I'd thought to ask, Joyce would have answered," Spike said. "She would have known; would have been right there on the tip of her tongue. Only now it's gone. We'll never know."
They fell silent, contemplating the simple marker. Joyce Summers, 1958-2001. Beloved mother, devoted friend. Their gazes turned from the stone to each other, hardening.
"I suppose you'll want Buffy to know about your mourning," Giles snarled.
Spike bristled. "This has nothing to do with the ... oh, bugger it. Tell her what you want. I say it's nothing to do with the Slayer; you can believe me or not."
The vampire walked off. Then he stopped. "What were your intentions in coming here?"
Giles saw red. "She was my friend. She was the mother of my charge. And beyond that, it is none ... of your ... bloody ... business!"
Spike nodded. "Precisely."
And he spun on a heel and had faded into the night before Giles could come up with a reply.