Rated R, just to be safe.
Disclaimer: All BTVS/Angel characters belong to Joss and Co. I'm just playing with them. Original characters are mine.
Well, this is the end, folks. I hope you enjoy it and find it satisfying. And now, Chapter 20 awaits...

Chapter 20

His feet carried him back to Corinne's, lost in thought as he was. Spike couldn't believe that Buffy had offered a crumb, and he'd basically turned it down, but it just wasn't their time. Was it? Spike hadn't thought of himself as wishy-washy since the days of William, but right now… Was he being too hasty in turning down Buffy's offer to join her fight? Was he a coward for not giving her the benefit of the doubt? The Slayer's attitude towards him had clearly softened, but was there enough there to take the leap of faith? Spike looked up, surprised to find himself in front of Corinne's apartment building, and decided to take it as an omen. If anyone could help him figure out the most reasonable conclusion, it was her.

He knocked on the door, hoping it wasn't too late, since the living room light was off. A lamp turned on, and then he heard the locks being turned.

"Spike? What are you doing here? It's after midnight," Corinne said. She was wearing a baby tee and boxer shorts, obviously ready for bed.

He looked down, embarrassed. "Sorry, I didn't realize. I can come back tomorrow…"

Something in his expression made her consider, so she stopped him. "No, it's okay…"

"No, really…you have work, probably, so I'll just talk to you later, pet."

"You sure?" she asked, concerned.

He nodded. "It's nothing that can't wait. Sleep well, Doc." Spike left before she could learn anymore.

Okaaaay, that was weird. Corinne shut the door and went back to bed.

-------------

The next evening, Buffy was at his crypt at sundown to invite him to spar, which he gladly accepted. No other opponent had ever challenged him like she had, made the fight as fun. He couldn't resist gloating when he had her pinned on the ground in less than five minutes.

"You're slow, Slayer. I'd be draining your life dry right now, if I was so inclined."

She smiled tauntingly as they circled each other. "Maybe I just let you win the first round."

Spike laughed mockingly at the concept. "Yeah, and I'm the Queen of England. Face it, luv. Training with Gramps over there hasn't been giving you enough of a challenge. It's why those eyeless blokes are getting a bit close with the blades. We're patrolling the cemeteries as soon as we've had our warm-up here."

"You really think you can teach her better?" Giles asked haughtily.

He grinned evilly. "I know I can, Watcher. 150 years of experience, here. When's the last time you saw the interior of a dojo?"

"Point accepted. Buffy, if you feel comfortable, let's try the exercise blindfolded."

"Uh, yeah…I guess." Having to use her Slayer senses helped, somewhat, though Spike was still able to read her too easily. After Buffy landed on her back 3 times in a row, he called a halt to practice and decided it was time to get out into the real world.

Spike hung back as she killed each demon, watching, critiquing, and calling out her mistakes. It annoyed her, which was exactly his intention. He knew his Slayer well enough that she needed to rediscover the joy in the fight, the confidence in being in control. Familiar ground + familiar kills could bring her that.

"At least the Watcher finally got you to wear sensible boots on the job, Slayer. Heels are sexy, but not practical for fighting. Never understood how you did it in those ridiculous platforms in high school," he commented, once they were done with the sweep. "This way. All-night diner two blocks over serves breakfast 24 hours a day. You'll like the milkshakes."

"How do you know?" Curious hazel eyes looked up at him.

"Because your sister does. A few more nights like this, and you'll be ready to get back out there, pet. Felt good, yeah? The wind blowing through your hair as you chase down a vamp…"

She smiled. "Yeah, it did, actually. I thought I'd be glad to never see this place again. Giles even had to talk me into coming here."

"It makes sense, Buffy. You've died twice in Sunnydale…but it's also been your home. And home is about the familiar, whether all the memories are good, or not. Dawn's glad you're here, even if she's not sure how to be."

"Yeah, I kinda sensed that. Is that how you feel about England…the familiar thing?" she asked curiously.

"Parts of it. I grew up in London. You mentioned liking it there."

"Well, at least in summer. It sounds corny, but I thought about how I was seeing a lot of the same places you have…wondering if they looked the same." She blushed.

He grinned. "Thought about me a lot, did you?"

She indicated a small space with her thumb and index finger. "A little, while I was sightseeing. It's not like I know a lot of Brits…"

Her backpedaling didn't dampen his spirits any. "Uh-huh. In you go, Slayer. I'm sure you've worked up an appetite," Spike stated, opening the door to the diner. She no longer complained about his gentlemanly gestures.

-------------

Two more nights passed, before Spike got a chance to talk to Corinne alone.

"I wanted to get your advice, Doc…"

"Okay. What's up?" They sat in the little Chinese restaurant they'd been frequenting for months.

"Well, the Slayer asked me to come fight with her, watch her back, see…and I've been considering it. I'm just not sure if it's the best idea, though."

"Go."

"Huh?"

"You should go," she elaborated. "If you don't, you're just going to wonder 'what if', especially if something happens…to her. Take two or three weeks, or whatever, and try it out."

"Really?" he said, surprised. "I thought for sure you'd tell me no."

"Was I supposed to? Because if this was one of those moments where I'm supposed to talk you out of it, I needed a little warning."

"No, no…I wanted your honest opinion. It's just seemed like you weren't too keen on her, that's all," he explained.

"Well, I'm not fond of her past behavior, or her abandonment of Dawn, but I think you owe yourself the chance. It isn't my decision to make, it's about your life. I'll support you, either way."

Spike squeezed her hand. "Thanks, pet. I appreciate it."

"So, when do you leave?" she asked, fearing the answer.

"Uh, tomorrow night. Slayer could only spare five days. The Watcher won't be thrilled, but you're right. It'll drive me bug shagging crazy going over all the scenarios. Mind dropping me off at the house after this?"

"Of course not," Corinne replied. "What are friends for?"

-------------

Giles had arranged for the Council jet to leave after dark. At least on the trip back to Europe, Spike would be protected from the sun. They'd have to do some creative traveling after that.

The Scooby group assembled in the hangar to say goodbyes. Gifts were exchanged, as well as contact numbers. Corinne pulled Spike aside after he'd had his moment with Dawn.

She held up a pendant on a cord. "This is the Japanese symbol for luck. My uncle picked it up while he was stationed overseas and wore it through 6 years of service." She slipped the cord around his neck. "Can't hurt," she shrugged. Spike hugged her and kissed her cheek.

"Thanks, Doc. I won't lose it. Keep an eye on Dawn for me, eh?"

"I will. Keep in touch…it'll drive her crazy to hear nothing the whole trip." And me.

He looked affronted. "As if I'd do that! She knows she has me wrapped around her little bloody finger."

Corinne giggled. "I know. You better go, they're gesturing for you and Mr. Giles looks impatient."

He looked back at the plane, and held up two fingers at Giles. "Pillock always has to keep to his soddin' schedules. I swear, he could suck the fun out of a rave. Take care, kitten." Spike hoisted his duffle on his shoulder, got one more hug from Dawn, and boarded the jet.

She moved to stand next to the teen, putting an arm around her shoulders, Tara on the other side. Willow stood a few steps away, with Xander and Anya. They all waved, Dawn with tears streaking down her cheeks, until the jet started to taxi out of the hangar towards the runway. Corinne was the last to walk out.

"I love you," she whispered. "Please come back."

-------------

It was the longest three and a half weeks of her life. He sent a few letters from remote locations – it took a long time for them to arrive because of the distance. They came to 1630 Revello, addressed to M.G. ("My girls," he'd explained in the first letter.) Spike's old-fashioned script told vivid details of the locations they saw, interesting characters they met…the fight details were edited, most likely for young eyes. The last came a few days before he came home, and was a week late from when it had been mailed. The only warning of his return came in a call from the airport about an item that needed to be picked up.

Corinne happened to be at the house helping Dawn with her math homework. She answered the phone while the teen was in the bathroom.

"Is this the Summers' residence?"

"Yes it is. May I take a message?"

"There's a package that needs to be picked up by tomorrow addressed to 1630 Revello, Sunnydale. Do I have the right address?"

"Yep. Can anyone sign for it? I can come down there now."

"I'd appreciate that, ma'am. I'd really like to go home on time."

"Okay, just give me directions to where to go, and I'll be on my way." She wrote down the info on a pad, then left another note for Dawn, and left.

Getting to "Receiving" at the airport, she was in for another surprise.

"You didn't mention is was a shipping crate. Are you sure this is the write one?"

"Yeah, it's addressed to Miss Summers, Miss Larkin, Miss Maclay, or Miss Rosenberg."

"Well, I'm Miss Larkin. Do you mind if I open it here? I don't have room for this in my car."

"Sure, ma'am, let me get you the crowbar." The clerk went to his office and returned a minute later with the tool. "You need help?"

"Nah, I think I'll manage. Thanks." He nodded, and went back in the office to do paperwork.

The large, cubical crate was stamped with "Open This Side", so that's the one she worked on prying off. It fell off to reveal a huddled up pale vampire, looking just this shade of dead.

"Spike!" she gasped. He extended his legs with pops and groans.

"Oh, god, that was torture. I ever see that Watcher again, I'm going to feed him his intestines through his nose," he grumbled. "Give a bloke a hand out, pet?"

Corinne's shock wore off and she hurried to meet his request, taking both hands to help him stand. As Spike leaned on the box a moment to get his bearings, she picked up the blankets and duffle bag.

"Why on earth were you in a crate?" she whispered. "You look like hell!"

"Watcher's idea. Only airport near our location handled shipping, not passenger flights. I thought he'd get a bigger crate, though."

"Well, let's get out of here before the clerk notices a person was in that crate." She helped the limping vampire towards the door, calling, "Good night!" to the clerk once they were out of sight.

Spike was dirty, wounded, and very hungry. It'd been about two days since he'd fed, he thought. The passage of time felt a little wonky in a dark crate crossing several zones by air. Corinne's car was thankfully under an overhang, as the sun hadn't fully set, yet. She spread one of the blankets over the seat, then helped him inside. The vampire drifted off as they drove back to Sunnydale. He didn't stir when she stopped at the butcher's, then continued to her apartment.

By the time they arrived, it was dark. She gently touched his face to rouse him.

"Spike…wake up. Time to come inside and eat."

"Hmm? I think you took a wrong turn, pet. This isn't my crypt," he rasped.

"Nope, right location. I have a tub with hot water inside, and we're going to get you cleaned up."

He was too tired to argue, secretly looking forward to the hot water, and allowed her to help him walk to the door.

"Come in, Spike." The barrier disappeared.

Corinne set his duffle bag down, then helped him remove his coat and draped it on the sofa. She then helped him hobble into the bathroom and set him on the closed toilet while she fiddled with the taps.

"You don't have to help, Doc. I've taken a bath before."

"Spike, don't be stubborn. You can barely move. Just let me make this a little easier, okay?" Her expression told him she wouldn't take no for an answer, so he caved with a sigh and waited.

Once the water temp was to her liking, Corinne started to help remove his clothes, peeling off the blood caked sweater he was wearing, then crouching down to unlace his boots. The pendant was still around his neck.

"Ugh, it smells like you've been trekking through swamp water!" she grimaced.

"We did."

"Oh. Do you have anything clean in your bag? If not, I'll toss some stuff in the machines."

"Um, I don't think so. I tend to pack light, and I've already gone through everything once."

She nodded, and turned off the taps before the tub overflowed. "Do you, uh, need any help?" gesturing to his pants.

He smiled at her attempt not to blush. "I think I can manage, Doc."

"Okay. Holler once you're in, and I'll bring you some blood." Corinne left a couple towels within reach, and left.

Spike wriggled out of his combat pants without putting too much weight on his injured knee and lowered himself into the steaming water with a blissful sigh. Thoughtful girl had even filled the tub with unscented bubbles. It was the most luxurious thing he'd experienced in a very long while. He must have drifted off again, for her knock on the door startled him.

"Spike? Are you decent?"

"Important bits covered, luv."

The scent of warm blood flooded his senses as soon as she pushed open the door, and he vamped. Her eyes widened at seeing him in game face, but she didn't comment on it.

"Sorry," he felt like saying, anyway. "I'm really hungry." Spike started gulping down the blood as soon as she handed him the mug.

"It's okay. I told you, I don't mind seeing it. So, what brought you home?"

He handed the empty mug back to her. "As you can see, I got injured. The Watcher saw me as a liability, since it was bad enough not to heal overnight, and shipped me home. Not so bad, really. Spending three weeks with a Slayer without her creature comforts? Not a pleasant trip. I love the bint, but the constant complaining whenever we weren't fighting some nasty really got on the nerves. I'm amazed the Watcher hasn't killed her, yet, or at least slipped her a sedative. God, this water feels heavenly."

Corinne started washing the cuts on his head with a cloth. "Didn't change the way you feel about her, though?" she ventured.

"Well, it turns out…Buffy and I don't have a lot in common. The three of us spent most of our time alone, and I ended up talking more with the old man than the Slayer. I know her, you know, and there's chemistry…but all we've really shared is the same history. I'll always love her, because that's the type of sort I am, but it's…tempered. Looked like she kind of felt the same way, by the time I left. I don't know…I'm prob'ly not explaining it well…"

"No, I understand. You have a bond, and probably always will, but it's not a 'forever love' kind. And that's okay…at least you two have ended on a good note?"

"Yeah…I think another reason Rupert wanted me gone was the bickering. Buffy and I, we fight, it's what we do…even when we're getting along. I think he was ready to tear his hair out," the vampire chuckled.

"Like two kids on a road trip," Corinne teased. She continued washing the spots he couldn't see, bathing the back of his neck. Spike closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. "I missed you," she said, after a few minutes of comfortable silence.

A smile teased his lips, though his eyes remained closed. "Same here, pet. I kept wanting to tell you, or the Niblet, something, and you weren't there. Did you get my letters?"

"Four. Did you send more?"

"Just one. Guess I beat it here. I have some trinkets for the three of you in my bag."

"Ooo, I like presents. How did you get injured?" There were cuts on his face and scalp, a few scabbed over wounds on his chest, and his left knee was swollen and purple.

"Ambush. We got jumped by several of these eyeless buggers with long, curved knives. Got a few slices in on me as I was keeping an eye on the Slayer. She'd only been asleep a couple hours, so I knew her reaction time would be slow. Got stabbed in the side, here," he pointed to his right flank. "And twisted my knee taking a hit for Buffy. Noticed it was dislocated once the fight was over. Slayer helped me reset it, but I'd be in no shape to travel without a few days to heal. I downed all but two bags of my stash of blood, slept, and the next evening, Rupert packed me off."

"My God, Spike! You were stuck in that crate for three days with a busted knee?! It's a wonder it wants to move at all!" she exclaimed.

"Vampire, pet. We heal, regardless; just it's a lot faster with food. Give me a bit, and I'll be right as rain."

"But…how could he have stuffed you in that box in your condition? Geez, they could have just moved on and let you get home in your own time!" she added angrily.

Spike was equally amused and touched. "Look, pet, I'm not holding grudges. The Watcher and I work well together in combat, but there're no fuzzy feelings between us. So, when he has an injured vampire slowing down his mission, he's not going to hop to, to get me the best accommodations." She was still visibly upset.

"Well…didn't Buffy complain? I would've," Corinne huffed.

He didn't answer the questions, but raised a soapy hand to cup her cheek. "I'm touched you think I'm worth so much fuss. Just…think of it as a prank on ol' Spike. I've done worse, in my day."

"I…" Say it! "I care about you." Chicken!

He smiled softly, holding her gaze for a moment, the dropped his hand and leaned forward. "Do you mind reaching my back, since you're here?"

"Not at all." She squeezed some plain soap onto a bath sponge and spread the lather in circles across his back. "Feel good?"

"Mmm…"

There was enough of a ledge at the end of the tub that she could sit on it, and Corinne had an idea. "Scoot forward a little bit." She was wearing shorts, so she just slipped her shoes and socks off, then stepped in behind him, minding that her feet didn't get "friendly". Seated on the shelf, she started kneading his shoulders. "Is this okay?"

"Yeah…don't stop. That feels bloody marvelous." His body had soaked up the heat of the water, making him feel like a human was leaning against her knees, except for the lack of heartbeat. Of course, Spike's hands could never be idle, and soon found her feet. He slid a finger under the curve of the arch.

"Spike!"

"Hmm?"

"You know what you did. You tickle me, I jump, and I either kick you, or the water sloshes all over the floor. And if you make a mess of my floor, you're cleaning it up."

"Bossy chit, aren't you?" he teased.

"Your favorite kind, i'n't?"

"Stealing my words again?"

"More like lazy speech. And I know I'm not the only ticklish one, so you behave!"

Spike tipped his head back and arched a brow at her. "Where's the fun in that?"

Corinne rolled her eyes. "Baths are for fun when you're five. This is therapeutic."

He swiveled his head around and gave her his best leer. "Oh, I can think of lots of fun adults can have in a bath," he purred.

He's just teasing you. "I forgot – the voice of experience," she said dryly, swallowing her desire.

"Ouch, kitten. You can put away the claws for the night. I'm too tired to be batted around." Spike turned around and concentrated on using the washcloth on his feet.

Corinne frowned and bent closer to him. "I'm sorry…I meant to tease you, not insinuate anything. You were with a woman for over 100 years…of course you've done things. That's what couples do." Her fingers played with the little curling hairs at his nape as she spoke. Spike couldn't help leaning in the hand, encouraging her to continue.

"I know. I'm just cranky from being stuck in a box." He brushed an almost imperceptible kiss on the knee he was leaning against. "You're so good to me, luv…"

"Shhh, you're tired. We should get you out of this bath before you're all pruny. Would you like some more blood?" She stood to step out of the tub, but a strong hand topped her from getting out.

"You won't go far?"

She brushed a hand through his damp curls and smiled reassuringly. "I'm just going to put your clothes in the dryer, and then I'll be back with some blood." He nodded, and released her leg.

By the pink in the water, some of his wounds had reopened, so she got out her first-aid kit, as well. Coming back in the house, she heard the shower turn on as he rinsed the suds off, and put the mug of blood in the microwave. Since the only thing dry he had to wear was a towel, Corinne looked through her closet to find something decent. The closest thing she had to fitting him was a blue flannel robe she used in winter, so she hung it on the inner hook attached to the bathroom door. The dryer would be done in an hour.

Leave it to Spike to make flannel look sexy. His hair curled freely about his head, darker roots just beginning to show. The robe only closed enough to partially cover his chest, leaving a glistening sliver exposed down the middle. The sleepy eyes just made him look adorable and kissable. She willed away her wandering thoughts and focused on making him comfortable. He managed to hobble to the couch.

"Okay, here's some more blood. Are your wounds bleeding again? I noticed pink in the water."

"Not really. That was more what I couldn't wash off out in BFE."

"Let me take a look at these in the light, just in case." He knew from past experience to just humor her, so Spike shrugged the robe off his shoulders. Corinne examined the stitches in his side first. "Well, these are small, but a bit crude. If you were human, you'd have a nasty scar." She shifted to kneeling in front of him. The small slice across his upper abdomen had been under the water long enough to loosen the scab and start oozing, so she dabbed some ointment on it and applied a bandage. "Any wounds on your legs?"

"Nah, just the bum knee."

"Well, at least it's not as purple, now." She gently probed the joint, feeling for misplaced cartilage and such, mumbling the anatomy of the knee as a checklist. Relieved that the damage wasn't severe, Corinne took an ace bandage out of the kit and wrapped his knee, making sure it was snug, since she didn't have to worry about cutting off his circulation.

Spike could feel the touch of her warm hands everywhere they'd been on his cooling skin. He longed for the feeling to last. It'd been so long since he'd been touched with any tenderness.

"Does it hurt much? If so, we could try a little morphine. I don't know how it would effect you, since you don't have circulation, but I suppose it couldn't hurt, either." She looked up and stopped at the look on his face. It's meaning was indiscernible. "What?"
She didn't know when he had leaned that close.

"It doesn't hurt," he murmured, and closed the gap between them, brushing his lips against hers.

Corinne stiffened in shock for a moment, then whimpered as his tongue lightly swept across her lips. She breathed into the kiss, returning it, as he heart pounded in her chest and ears. She was amazed that he was going slow, imagining before that his kiss would be like a passionate attack of feeling. Oh, this was so much sweeter, and made her want more. Assured that she wasn't going to pull away, Spike brought her up to his lap, one hand tangled in her hair, the other at her waist. Corinne brushed her hands over his shoulders to rest behind his neck, playing with the curls as they learned each other's mouths.

He finally let her breathe, their foreheads pressed together as they panted for air.

"What was that about?" she whispered. Volume would only break the spell.

"I dreamed about you, while I was gone. I just couldn't resist anymore. You taste amazing," he replied, just as quiet.

She giggled quietly, then bit her lip. "So, just an experiment, then?" she needed to know, looking into his eyes.

His gaze flicked over her face, before he replied, "Not if you don't want it to be."

Corinne shook her head. "I don't." She captured his lips again, expressing her desire for him. He moaned and tugged her closer as she swept her tongue behind his teeth to tease the pockets for his fangs.

"Playing with fire, little girl," he gasped.

"Don't care." She dove into another kiss. "You're mine."

Spike pulled back with a shocked expression. "What?"

Now or never, Corinne. She caressed both cheeks with her hands so he would look at her when she said this. Corinne took a brave breath, then confessed. "I love you. I have for months." His expression didn't change, his jaw still in the floor. Oh, crap, I broke him! "Spike?"

"W-What did you say?" he whispered.

"I love you."

"You…" she nodded, hoping it would sink in. "You…love me?"

Corinne kissed his sweet lips and replied, "Yes! I tried not to, because I didn't want to ruin our friendship, but it wouldn't go away. I love you, Spike."

"You…" Words failing, he kissed her, surprising her with the intensity. "No one's ever…say it again!"

"I love you, Spike. It doesn't matter if you don't feel the same way now, but when you kiss me like that, how can I hold it in?"

"You sent me away, when you…?"

Corinne nodded. "I couldn't keep you from that. You had to know. It had nothing to do with me."

"Oh, kitten…you're a bloody treasure, you know that? No one's ever done for me what you have…what you always have…you're too good to me, baby, I don't deserve it."

She stroked his cheekbones and looked upon him lovingly. "Of course you do. Every time you help Dawn with her homework, every time you take out the trash for Tara, every time you save some stupid Sunnydale resident from being eaten in an alley…you're a good man, William. It's just that no one encouraged you to be one before." He trembled beneath her hands.

Spike pulled her into another feverish kiss. "I have no soul, luv. I'm gonna make mistakes on judgment calls. I'm going to disappoint you."

"Spike, I know you're fallible. So am I! We're bound to screw up, but as long as we try to help each other, all of us, try our best, then that's the best we can do. I've loved you for months without asking for anything in return. Do you think that's going to change if we get closer?" She couldn't resist kissing that pout again. "Now, shut up."

Persuaded by her talented lips, he lost himself to her kisses. Five months of pent up frustration had Corinne pouring herself into their making out, determined to render him senseless. She was careful not to lean on any of his injuries, though. Soon, despite the blood he'd drunk, Spike's body started to insist on sleep, his responses getting slow and sloppy. She finally pulled back with a gentle smile and brushed the curls off his forehead.

"You need sleep, honey," she declared. He pouted and tried to capture her lips again. "Ah-uh…I'm going to go get your clothes so you have something to sleep in. I'll be right back."

"Okay." Spike settled back into the sofa cushions with a silly grin on his face, watching her walk out the door to the laundry pantry outside. She had a body he was going to enjoy exploring…once he wasn't so damn tired. He was already drifting when Corinne came back inside a few minutes later. She handed him a pair of sweat pants from the top of the pile.

"Go get changed while I clean this up," she encouraged him, helping him stand. He found that he could put a little more weight on his left leg now that his knee was wrapped.

Spike limped into the bedroom and dropped the robe before sitting on the bed to pull up the pants. Luckily, his flexibility made up for not bending his knee. Corinne came in and turned down the bed.

"Stay with me until I fall asleep, luv?"

"Of course." She tucked the covers up to his chest, then lay down on the comforter next to him, her head propped up on her hand. "I'm so glad you're home."

Home… "Me, too, pet," his blue eyes soft and happy. She thought he'd never looked more beautiful. He picked up her free hand and kissed the palm, his eyes fluttering closed.

Corinne kissed his forehead. "Sleep well, baby." His lips twitched into a smile, but he was already falling under, so she carefully rolled off the bed and left the bedroom, silently closing the door. Her face split into a wide grin now that she was alone (and she might have done a little dance). Corinne realized she was starving, as it had been several hours since she'd eaten.

A couple sandwiches made, she proceeded to call Tara and give a brief summary of the night. Later, when she went to bed, Spike was still in the same position. She slid under the covers, cuddling close, and drifted off for the best sleep she'd had in a long time.

-------------

Corinne was awakened in the early morning by kisses to her neck. "Mmm, morning," she said, stretching. He grinned down at her. "How do you feel?"

Spike shifted closer and rubbed his cotton-clad erection against her leg. "How do you think?" he smirked, swooping in for a kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she responded, smiling against his lips.

"Do you always wake up that way?" she teased.

"Most of the time, but especially when I'm in bed next to a beautiful woman." He nibbled under her ear and down her throat. "You smell divine," nuzzling her pulse point. "Can't wait to taste you," he added huskily.

No gray area in what he means by that. "How's your knee?"

"Better, swelling's gone. It'll probably just be stiff today." His kisses continued down her collarbone.

"Ah, if only I could heal my patients so quickly," she mused. Corinne rolled them over, pinning his arms above his head. He smiled, eager for what she would do. "Trust me?" "Yes." "Good. Close your eyes and let me love you," she whispered in his ear. Spike shivered beneath her and complied. She grinned, as she'd been dreaming about this for months.

Corinne kissed him languidly, still holding down his wrists. She dragged his bottom lip through her teeth as she released it, moving on to his sensitive throat. She paid extra attention to his bite marks, filing away the information when he moaned and arched beneath her. Continuing down his chest, she teased and licked each nipple into hard points, the vampire hissing in pleasure each time she used her teeth. He was so gorgeous – defined pecs, eight definitive ab separations, the lines leading straight down under his pants to what she could feel was quite impressive against her belly. Spike squirmed as she nibbled at his unmarked side, so she did it again.

"Watch it, missy, or I won't be so compliant," he warned good-naturedly.

"Up," was her only reply, tugging at his waistband. She yanked the sweats off and tossed them to the floor. Oh, my… She avoided his throbbing sex for now, diverting around it to place hot kisses on his hips and legs. Her hair teased along it as she moved down his body, though.

"Corinne, please!" he pleaded, arching his hips.

She looked up innocently. "You want something, baby?"

"Please touch me. You're driving me insane!"

She kissed the arch of his foot. "I am touching you, Spike," she simply replied.

"Luv!" Well, he was begging so nicely, and how could she resist that pout? Corinne crawled back up to settle herself along his thighs. She grazed a nail from base to tip.

"Is this what you wanted?" she asked coyly. He nodded rapidly. "You want more?" More nodding. "Okay." She fisted his manhood, sliding her hand up and over the head with a twist, down the other side, and back again.

"Oh, fuck…" he moaned, his head falling back on the pillow. With his eyes closed, he focused on the feel of her warm hand, and so he didn't see when she moved to take him into her mouth on the next down-stroke. "Bloody hell!" The minx just chuckled around his dick, her tongue seeming to be everywhere all at once. "Oh, god…kitten…unh…"

She delighted in reducing the normally eloquent vampire to a babbling puddle of need. He made the cutest squeak when she sucked the sensitive skin at the base of the head between her teeth, shooting up off the bed, before falling back down and babbling more "oh gods". And manipulating his sac really made him go wild, his hips thrusting and writhing in rhythm to her movements.

"Cori, Cori, Cori…oh god…luv…I'm…" Corinne nodded and hummed in acknowledgement, and just sucked harder. He exploded into her mouth, surprising her with the force, but she anticipated so he didn't choke her. She swallowed his spendings and continued to slide him in and out of her mouth until he collapsed, panting and wide-eyed. Giving him one last lick and a kiss, Corinne crawled up his body and hovered over him.

"Good start to the morning?" she asked.

"Come 'ere," Spike growled, pulling her down into a mind-blowing kiss until she was gasping for breath. "You are amazing."

"Really?" she asked, blushing. "Even after…" She gestured about, referring to his many years on her.

"Really," he replied emphatically. "It's different with you. I can tell that you love me," Spike added shyly. It was still an astounding concept to him, one that would take a little getting used to. Her hand caressed his cheek.

"I do, Spike. I've never felt so strongly as I do for you. I love you, and I'll say it as many times as I need to for it to sink in." That look of awe on his face made her heart ache with feeling too big for her chest. She kissed him sweetly, pouring her feelings into his healing heart.

"Let me make love to you, Corinne," he whispered with strong emotion.

She scanned his face, looking for any trace that his wish was superficial. She only found earnest desire and affection, so she nodded, murmuring, "Alright. Just go slow, it's been a while."

"You mean, you didn't with…?" he asked hopefully. Corinne shook her head.

"Timing wasn't right," she said simply. Spike trusted her not to lie to him, so he didn't ask for details, didn't need or want them.

He rolled them over again as he kissed her, taking his time. Wanted this to be perfect. He didn't feel the love she did, yet, but he could feel the stirrings of it with every display of her devotion. She meant a great deal to him, was his best friend, and he missed her terribly whenever they were apart for more than a couple days. Corinne was his future. As Spike stripped away each article of clothing, heard her moans and soft sighs, the part of him that had lived for Buffy got pushed farther way. As he entered her velvet heat, it was the furthest thing from his mind, and as she climaxed with his name on her lips, it was locked away as just a memory. Spike collapsed on top of her as Corinne wound her arms tighter around him, whispering her love in his ear as he panted into her neck.

They loved the day away in one form or another, through bodies or words. They were in constant contact around the apartment, Spike wrapping his arms around her middle as she made food to satisfy their voracious appetites. After a shower, prolonged by more kissing and touching, the new couple made their way out into the evening, hand in hand, to 1630. Congratulations and happy smiles came from his other best girls, and Spike couldn't remember ever being happier. Corinne squeezed his hand, knowing how he felt.

The End

If there's really a call for it, I could add an epilogue, but I think this chapter stands pretty well on its own. Thanks for reading. CM