Spike made a half-arsed patrol through the last cemetery, the one he wished never to set foot in again even as it drew him like a magnet. As usual after the annual apocalypse the hunting was scarce. He had hoped for something large and deadly to tear into, to make pay for the unforgivable loss of ... her. "Who the bloody hell am I kiddin'? The only bugger deservin' of a solid thrashin' is yours truly. My fault she had to take that leap. 'F I'd kept my promise she'd be with her loved ones like she should and I'd be just so much dust coatin' this unworthy town."
He'd only run across a couple of fledges and that was at the start of his guilt-patrol. He'd only promised to see to the Bit but somehow he knew Buffy would have wanted her friends, her town, to be safe. "Not like the Watcher's likely to crawl out of the bottle any time soon to do the job," he frowned. Of course he planned to crawl into a bottle or three of his own but not until he had made certain that no big or little uglies were afoot.
He'd started right at sundown because the sooner he was done the sooner he could try to drive away the image of Buffy falling to her death all because he had broken his word.
"Drop by for a quick good-night at her restin' place first." Make sure nothing or no one dared to disturb her eternal rest. That was his life now. Waken, patrol the hot spots, check in with the Watcher and Scoobies, if they were functional, to make sure there were no major problems needing his muscle. Then check in on the Platelet and make sure she was safe and secure, dry her tears or smack sense into her as needed. Then and only then the blessed release of alcoholic oblivion. No doubt the endless stream of dreams where he did the right thing, made the right moves, had more wisdom, saved the day would be his bed-mate as always. Lather, rinse and repeat on an endless loop until he finally did dust as he so richly deserved.
He stopped and listened carefully as he tried to pick up the scent of whatever beastie dared to defile the grave of his beloved but the wind was in the wrong direction.
"Fe fi fo fum I smell blood that's gonna run," he warned as he broke through to the hidden spot where they had laid the Slayer just days before. "Gonna make it slow you wanker," he promised. How dare anyone defile the grave of his beloved!
"Eep!" Dawn squealed in alarm until she saw that the dark mass that crashed through the bushes was her friend and protector. "Gosh Spike, scare me to death why don't you."
"Didn't know it was you did I?" Spike glared at the gangling teen that he loved more than he wanted to admit. "Didn't expect you to be so bloody stupid you'd be wandering a graveyard after sundown all by your lonesome."
"I knew you were out here somewhere patrolling. If I got in trouble you'd only be a scream away."
"Assume a lot don't you think?"
"Just know my best friend."
"Well before that best friend rips your head off and pulls out your spine, wanna tell me WHY you are out here?"
"It's Memorial Day."
"And ... well Buffy wasn't in the military but she was a warrior who died fighting so we'd all be safe. Someone needed to remember her like any other soldier who died in war."
Spike didn't have anything to say to that. The girl was right after all. This American holiday was about fallen soldiers and Buffy was that without question.
"Where do you think Buffy is?"
Spike shook his head putting his attention back on the girl in front of him and off of the girl he mourned. "What's that?"
"Willow keeps saying Buffy is in hell but that doesn't make any sense to me. Buffy was GOOD. She fought for the Powers to Be. Why would they send her to hell?"
"They wouldn't. Witch's got it all wrong. Bloke like me knows nothin' 'bout heavenly dimensions but I fancy her in somethin' like Valhalla."
"Val who a?"
"Valhalla's the place where all the great warriors go in Norse myth. Big table for feastin' and plenty of fightin' too but just for the pure joy of it. Valkyries choose who die in battle and those who live. Figure they've had their eye on big Sis for a long while now waitin' to take her to a fittin' reward."
Dawn nodded in approval. "Buffy would like a place like that I think. She'd get bored sitting on a cloud or playing a harp forever."
Spike smiled wanly, "That she would Bit. So what special thing goes with this Memorial Day?"
"Most people seem to think it's about cook-outs and summer vacation but really it started out after the American Civil War when families would decorate the graves of their loved ones who died in war. It's not about just soldiers in general just the ones that died."
"What kind of decoratin'?"
"Usually flags but sometimes flowers."
"What'd you bring and where'd you get it?"
Dawn looked uncomfortable, "Flowers," she mumbled. She'd helped herself to some carnations from a pile of flowers she had found atop a recent burial plot. She held up the slightly straggly bunch for Spikes appraisal.
"Coulda come to me for a bit of dosh to buy some fresh," he smiled at the girl. "Come on; let's see if we can find some a bit more fittin' for our fallen soldier, yeah?"
They stood side by side at Buffy's grave holding back their tears. It didn't seem real yet that she was gone. Maybe it never would.
"These are a lot better," Dawn placed the equally stolen but much fresher bunch of flowers on her sister's grave.
"I think so," Dawn only knew what her teacher had told them about Memorial Day stuff so she wasn't sure. "You could maybe say something?"
Spike was silent for quite a while, long enough to make Dawn think she had asked too much. Finally he cleared his throat and quoted words he had thought long forgotten, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Above the mourners the silent moon stood witness as the clock marked 5 days, 16 hours, 22 minutes since Buffy had entered Valhalla, or so Spike prayed.