"What's it like to be a vampire?"
Spike turned on his side, stretched his legs out on the picnic blanket, and looked at Buffy. She was sitting beside him on the bluff overlooking Sunnydale, arms wrapped around her knees, a slight frown on her face. All of which was normal.
They'd started having midnight picnics soon after Buffy's unwanted return from death, though if it was her idea or his, Spike didn't remember. At least once a week they got together. Sometimes they talked, sometimes Spike just listened, and sometimes they simply shared the peaceful night without a word spoken between them.
Tonight, though, it looked like Spike's turn to speak, and he knew the question wasn't referring to violence and death.
Spike shifted on the blanket, propping himself on his elbow. "Being a vampire is like being anyone else, only without picnics." She gave a pointed look at the picnic blanket beneath them, and he rolled his eyes. "I meant, picnics out in the sun during the day."
"Are you sure?" Buffy said, resting her cheek on her upraised knee. "I thought vampires sat around all day, planning their next devious plot."
Spike snorted. "'Devious plot?' Luv, most vampires don't have two brain cells to rub together."
He scowled, and she giggled. "No, not including me," he said flatly.
"So do tell, Professor, what do you do all day?" Buffy smiled teasingly, and Spike's lips curved up in return.
"Mostly, I watch the telly," he admitted. "Before that marvelous invention, it was listening to the radio and, before that, a lot of reading."
"You can read?"
"Yes, Spike can read," Spike stated in a caveman-like grunt. She giggled again, and he lightly smacked her on the hip. "Brat."
"Sorry... um, not really." She grinned. "Somehow, though, I can't picture you sitting still long enough to read an entire book."
"I could," Spike defended himself. Then, he half-smiled. "Doesn't mean that I do."
"So, what else do you do?" she asked curiously.
"Well, I used to go to a hell of a lot of tea parties," Spike replied. "Do you know how hard it is to hold a four-way conversation when two of the ways are bloody dolls?"
"I'm sure you managed fine," Buffy said without sarcasm. "And I'm sure you made Drusilla happy."
"I did." Spike plucked a fuzz from the blanket and rolled it between his fingers. "We danced sometimes, her and I. Even if we had no music. Dru liked to dance."
He cleared his throat suddenly and flicked the fuzz away. "Let's see, what else did old Spike do?" he hummed thoughtfully. "When Dru and me were still family-ing it with Darla and Angelus, I'd play nasty tricks on the Queen Bitch, then hide from Peaches's wrath."
"Now that I can see you doing easily," Buffy commented with a smirk.
Spike winked at her, and continued. "When I wasn't getting my adorable arse kicked for being my bad self, Angelus would sometimes spar with me. Taught me how to fight proper, he did. And how to fight dirty."
"I thought you were a street thug when you were human," Buffy said, confusion marring her brow.
"Er... I might have embellished a bit," Spike hedged. At her look, he sighed. "Okay, a lot. I was a total fop. Tara's like The Rock compared to me as a human."
Buffy snickered, and he grumbled, "That's it, go ahead and laugh. See why I didn't tell you the first time?"
"If it's any consolation, you're way scary now."
"No," Buffy grinned wickedly, "but I figured your ego could use a boost."
"You're a regular riot," Spike said. He rolled onto his back, folded his hands behind his head, and looked up at the stars. "So, did I answer your questions, luv?"
"Kind of," Buffy sighed. "I'm just still having a hard time living again and wondered if there was a trick to it."
"There is a trick, pet," Spike said, "whether you're demon, human, superhuman, whatever. And it's not any of that inspirational crap, like 'live each day like it was the last,' or 'live life to the fullest,' or 'remember to stop and smell the roses.'"
"Then what's the secret?" Buffy prompted softly.
"Just live, Buffy," Spike replied. "Just live."
In the sky, a plane flew on its way to wherever, its moving lights reminiscent of a shooting star. Spike wondered if the stars themselves were talking tonight, whispering words in the ears of those who could hear them. Would they be speaking to Drusilla? Would they be telling her of his and Buffy's picnic on the bluff? Would she be jealous?
Spike smiled to himself and listened to the crickets chirp. Too bad, Dru, you had your chance and threw it away, he thought. He had Buffy now, sort of. At least in a friend-like capacity, which was just peachy with him. He'd take her any way he could, as long as she wasn't dead.
"Here, Slayer, to totally muck up what I just said," Spike began, crossing one ankle over the other as he continued to stare up into the night sky. "If tomorrow you were to go back to heaven, what's one thing that you'd want to do before you go?"
Buffy was silent for a while, but Spike was patient. He absently counted the stars, naming constellations that he remembered. He was therefore surprised when Buffy's face appeared in his line of sight. Even more so when she brushed her warm lips against his own.
Spike blinked rapidly as she returned to her original spot. "Er... not that I didn't like it, but what was that for?" he asked slowly.
"It's one thing I wanted to do before I go," Buffy replied, arms wrapped around her knees once more. "That, and say thank you for watching out for them. You could have left after I died, but you didn't. It doesn't matter why you didn't," she said quickly, forestalling his comment, "just that you stayed and protected them, and I thank you for that."
Spike sat up and affected a position similar to hers. He cleared his throat awkwardly. "Um... you're welcome then, I guess."
Buffy sighed softly, stood, and straightened her jacket. "I'm going to head home. Dawn has discovered that boys don't have cooties and has a date with one tomorrow night. I going to need all the sleep I can get so I'll be well-rested for my worrython."
"A date?" Spike stood and gathered the blanket. "She's too young to date. You can't let her go. Boys that age have grabby hands."
"Boys your age have grabby hands, too," Buffy pointed out.
"Do not," Spike protested, following her as she started down the hill. "I'm the modicum of restraint."
"'Ha'? What's that supposed to mean..."