"You've gone and cocked up the best thing in your life," whispered the often ignored and oddly resilient voice of reason in his head.

"That so? Might as well do it good and proper then, shouldn't I?" he silently retorted as he soaked in every inch of Dawn through new eyes. The way her hair fanned out on the pillow. How her head was thrown back in careless abandon, exposing her long, luscious neck. It threatened the control he prided himself on in this one part of his life. He shifted ever so slightly and was rewarded by her back arching higher. Then her fingers tightened with bone-crushing strength around his own before she moaned his name and every inch of her uncoiled beneath him at once.

He leaned in, claiming his name from her lips as he eased himself from between her warm thighs and onto the mattress. She turned her head toward him, her eyes lidded and liquid. He brushed the errant strands of hair from her face and then traced his fingers along her neck, down her shoulder and along the outside of her breast, catching a ticklish spot.

"Hey," she said as she flinched and giggled, turning toward him and twining her legs with his.

"Terribly sorry," he mumbled.

"Sure you... uhh," her thoughts cut off as he retraced his path with a series of kisses.

"You're cold," he said, noticing the goose pimples rising on her skin and reaching down for the blanket pooled at their feet. He pulled it slowly up, enjoying the excuse to run his hand along her silken calf and thigh, along the rise of her hip and the valley of her waist, then skipping up along her forearm in a chivalrous gesture that avoided the ticklish spot. Once satisfied that she was tucked in, his hand slid below the blanket and cupped her breast, running his thumb gently across the nipple.

Her hand had wandered from his chest to his stomach, absentmindedly tracing patterns along the lines of definition between his abs.

"Quite the first kiss, eh?" he said, flashing her a wolfish grin.

But he didn't get the response he was expecting. He figured she'd agree or smile or maybe a giggle and brazenly let her hand wander lower. Instead, she bit her lip.

"I didn't hurt you, did I? Or not satisfy you? I'd be happy to fix it if that's the case," he said, pulling her tight against himself before adding with a growl, "You haven't gone zero to sixty with some other git, now have you?"

"Not hurt. Very satisfied. You're the only git, but the possessive jealous thing? Not attractive and has to go, okay?"

What was it about this girl? She called him on his faults and instead of him hotly denying it, it made him not only want to be a better man, but he knew he would become one. For her.

"Your only git?" he asked.

"Uh huh," she replied, her voice husky as she snuggled closer.

"Hey now, no fair distracting me. Tell me."

"What?"

"What's bothering you?"

"It's nothing. Let it go."

"No."

"Fine. It wasn't a first kiss. We've kissed before. That's why I didn't respond to your question."

"We've never kissed," he said indignantly. "I'd remember something like that."

"You'd remember it if it had meant something to you. Apparently, my schoolgirl fantasy got in the way of recognizing reality. You'd think I'd finally learn that I'm not the girl you obsess about. I'm just vaguely related to her," she spat out as she began hunting for her clothes.

"Aw, Pet, don't go and leave. 'Sides, your clothes are scattered from here to the kitchen. Come back to bed, eh?" He turned on the wattage in his smile and was rewarded by her yanking the blanket from the bed, wrapping it around herself and stalking off. He heard a door slam and water tattooing against the shower curtain.

That's a new land speed record for making a right mess of things, innit?

Shut up. I need a smoke.

Spike shrugged on his jeans that were just inside the doorway. He then retraced his steps: her underthings in the hallway, his shirt in the kitchen, finally finding his coat with its pack of cigarettes in the living room, draped over Dick Clark and his Rocking New Year's Eve.

xxxxx

Dawn stepped out onto the porch, wrinkled her nose and looked around. "I know you're here Spike. I can smell the stinky smoke."

Spike moved out of the shadows, holding the stub of a cigarette.

"Don't even think of flicking that into the bushes." Dawn crossed her arms. "Why are you still here? I told you she's out with everyone."

"I know."

"She's not gonna like it if you're here when she gets home."

"I know."

"So...?"

"So I didn't think you and your mum should be alone on New Year's Eve."

"Oh."

He watched her shift her weight from one foot to the other. He knew what she was thinking and cut in as she opened her mouth. "Don't even think of inviting me in, Bit."

A few houses down the chanting began.

Ten

Nine

"Have you made any resolutions, Spike?"

Eight

"Other than getting this chip out? No. How 'bout you? Though don't tell me what it is or it won't come true."

Seven

Six

"That's birthday wishes, not resolutions."

Five

"Similar. Instead of blowing out candles, you seal it with a kiss at midnight."

Four

Three

"Oh," said Dawn. She glanced toward the door. "I guess I better get in before mom wakes up."

Two

"Better go myself."

One

As he moved past, he leaned down and gave her a peck on the lips before disappearing in the night. "Happy New Year Dawn."

xxxxx

The encroaching warmth of the smoldering cigarette on his fingers brought him out of his reverie. "Bloody hell. To the day, innit?"

Spike dashed inside, past Dick Clark, shouting "Bit! Dawn, where are you? Come on now, show yourself."

He found her in the bathroom, the blow-dryer on high. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along into the living room.

"Spike, stop it!"

"It's important."

"Isn't always with you?"

He ignored the jib and turned up the volume. "Perfect!" he said to the New Yorkers chanting in unison.

Seven

He turned to her saying, "New Year's resolutions. Instead of blowing out candles, you seal it with a kiss. At midnight."

Six

She squinted at him. Had he been too cryptic?

Five

Then her eyes grew wide. He knew she knew he really remembered.

Four

A smile crept across her face.

Three

She threw herself into his arms.

Two

He lifted her off the ground.

One

And they kissed.

"Happy New Year Spike."

"Happy New Year Luv."