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Next Generation

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For once Buffy's not annoyed that Xander always has to sit through the credits just in case there's a bonus scene. In fact, she wouldn't mind if the credits were a couple minutes longer. Or if the "end of movie, everybody leave" lights weren't so bright.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Willow grabs the hand that was trying to hide three wadded-up kleenexes and gives it a squeeze.

Xander, on the other side, puts an arm around her shoulders. "I know I got a little choked up when Spock said 'Space, the final frontier.' But I'm a card-carrying geek. I even had a Star Trek fan club card, once. Me crying geek tears is natural."

She laughs, which makes her cry a little more. "I just - I thought about how much Mom would've wanted to see it."

"Joyce was a Trekkie?" Xander sounds awed.

"We used to watch the reruns all the time. And after Dad left and I was busy with Slayer stuff, I think it turned into some kind of mother and daughter and spaceships bonding thing for her and Dawn."

"So that's why Dawn wouldn't come," Willow says.

"She said it'd be like changing all her memories."

Xander, somewhere deep in the Geek Bliss Zone, says again, "Joyce was a Trekkie."

"Waaaaaay beyond Trekkie. She - guys, if you ever repeat this to Dawn I will kill you both. Slowly."

After the pinkie-swearing of sacred oaths is done, Buffy continues. "After, you know -" She sniffles and gets squeezed from both directions. "After she died, when I was clearing out her stuff, I found this box. Full of these homemade magazines of Star Trek stories."

"Fanfic!" Willow squeaks. "Was it - "

"Oh yeah. Kirk and Spock all the way. All the way. With details. And pictures."

Xander eeps, which is not a noise Buffy's ever heard from a person. But Willow's almost hyperventilating from enthusiasm. "I wonder if she wrote any? That would make her, like, a pioneer! Star Trek was the first - "

"Will, of all the things I don't ever ever ever want to know, whether my mom wrote gay porn is right at the top of the list." Some kinds of knowledge, like your mom's sexy thoughts, are far too scary for the human brain to handle. That thing with Giles was bad enough.

"Well, I bet she would've really liked the movie, then," Xander says. "'Cause that scene where Spock chokes Kirk was kinda intense. Homoeroticism indicators are in the red zone, captain, and continuing to climb."

"Uh-huh." Buffy tries the Spock trick with the eyebrow. It's harder than it looks.

"What? I can notice."

Buffy's giving the eyebrow another go when a guy with a broom and a giant garbage can on wheels appears at the end of their row, scowling. "Let's go get a beer," she says. "And we can finish talking about Xander's complicated sexuality."

"Better yet," Xander quickly suggests, "We can drink to Joyce."

Willow grins. "Boldly going where few women had gone before."

"Guys, do I have to repeat my death threat?"

They just laugh and drag her towards the door. She's still thinking that she wishes her mom could've seen the movie. Wishes she and Mom and Dawn could've gone together, could've had a drink afterwards because even Dawn's a grownup now, could've talked about whether black holes really work that way and whether the new Kirk is cuter than the old one. And Buffy could've never known about the porn thing, which would also be good.

She wishes it all, though only to herself, safely. Her eyes are wet again, a little. But she's not going to cry. This stuff made her mom happy. Dumb plots, bumpy-headed aliens, people saving the universe and being friends through everything.

She'll drink to her mom, and she'll smile.