All Those Late Night Promises

Every time he opens his mouth to ask, you know, what in the hell they're doing, Winnie shushes him. They're standing on the sidewalk six and a half blocks from work and it's cold and his nose feels like it's about to freeze right off his face even though the mercury's hovering above zero (all that lovely wind chill Toronto's so famous for).

He rolls his eyes at her, tugs her a little closer to him by her coat, wonders how she's even standing there with it unbuttoned. "Win-"

"Shh. Just wait."

He wants to say that he's cold and he'd really rather be at home (in bed), uncovering all that deliciously smooth skin and keeping each other warm. He just huffs, keeps waiting. "Okay, seriously-"

"Hang on."

He rolls his eyes again, mournfully wonders when exactly he lost any semblance of control in this relationship and ruefully realizes he probably never even had it. It's just - she smiles at him and he hears himself agreeing to whirly-ball and hanging out with her girlfriends (she gave him a look at that one, told him she was kidding and of course wasn't going to put him through six hours of girl talk. He uh - he went anyway. All of them pounced on him asking for advice with what guys meant by not texting for days at a time. Winnie laughed her ass off at him and then when they got home, went down on him while he was in the middle of asking her if he should take the broccoli out of the freezer). "Winnie-" He feels a drop of rain land right on the top of his head. "Okay, it's raining so can we possibly-"

"I know it's raining," she says, like she's speaking to a particularly bratty child. "I checked the weather before we left."

He knows he's got a confused look on his face, figures his mouth is probably a little open but come on, he's getting wet here. They both are. And it's still cold. "You checked for rain and then made us stand in the street for no reason?"

"Got a problem with that?" She's grinning up at him.

"I-no. No I don't." It's true, actually. Winnie wants to stand on the sidewalk in the rain, he is a-okay to oblige that. Probably something he should examine closer.

It's starting to rain heavier, cars making that slippery smooth sound over the asphalt and Winnie's hair is starting to curl (so if anyone's looking for a confession, he kind of likes it when her hair's all normal, curls he can wrap around his fingers. Of course, he also likes her hair when it's straight. Also, when she spends forty minutes in front of the mirror with a curling iron so it's entirely possible that that confession isn't really a confession at all).

She snickers suddenly.

"What?" He pushes his wet hair off his forehead.

"Okay, so it's time."

"Time for wha-"

She leans up against him, slides both hands over either side of his face and kisses him full on the mouth. They're not usually big into pda, obviously, so much time spent at work and like hi, unprofessional, but they usually draw the line at holding hands when they leave together. He loops an arm around her waist, slides the other inside her coat (also, here's another confession, he likes the way her clothes fit her - also like how she looks with no clothes so probably another confession that's not really a confession).

Her mouth is all warm, soft and she tastes like Sweethearts ("of course they're not just for Valentine's day, Spike, come on, don't you want one? Here, this one says 'hug me' so you should probably do what it says"). Winnie kisses like she's laughing and it always makes him feel like his heart's about to burst right out of his chest.

There's rain dripping off his face right onto hers and they're both getting progressively soggier and he's pretty sure that if he ever gets her home, her feet are going to be wet and cold and she's going to want to press them against him, but also, when a girl like Winnie's kissing you, you don't ask questions and you certainly don't pull away. She does though, just a little, grins up at him, flashes her teeth.

"What are we doing out here?" he asks and he knows he's grinning right back at her.

She rolls her eyes like she thinks he's slow, all come on Spike, keep up, we're going to Oakville for the day to sit by the lake duh. "We are kissing in the rain," she informs him. "Obviously."

He snorts, runs one hand over his face, tries to wipe off all the rain water. "Yeah okay, I got that part. But why are we-"

"Cause I want to know what all those pop songs are talking about," she says. "Cause I never have before. Cause it's nice out here with you. You need me to keep going?"

He laughs. "Uh no. No, I don't think so. Think I got it."

She's giving him that look, the one that makes him think he's done or said something that she finds totally enthralling (sometimes he has no idea what he's done to deserve the look at all). "You happy?"

He's a little taken aback at the question, no idea how to answer it, figures honesty is a good way to go. "Very."

She smiles, real bright like she's showing him how she's painted her toenails a brilliant teal. "Good. That's good."

"You?"

She laughs, like she's hearing the punch line of a joke without him. "Oh yeah, I'd say I'm pretty happy."

He narrows his eyes at her a little. "So. All that not dating cops stuff..."

(They've never talked about it, just, he came in one day and they were laughing and he looked at her and said, "Throw your rule out the window," and she stopped mid-laugh, mouth slightly open and then swallowed and said, "But-" and he said, "No buts," and she spluttered a little but then she cleared her throat and said, "I'm going to warn you that I was skeptical about this from the get go. Okay." There was pink on the tops of her cheekbones.

He's never looked back.)

She lets out a breath. "Load of shit. Obviously." Her voice is still light but the way she's looking at him-

He laughs, is going to let it go, going to suggest they head inside, out of the rain, finish walking home, get in a cab, get on the bus, he doesn't really care.

But she catches his wrist, doesn't meet his eyes and says, "I should have known it would be different with you."

He swallows. "Yeah probably." He doesn't know where exactly she's going with this but he's really fighting to keep his voice carefree. He doesn't know if it's a self-preservation thing or if he always just shies away from the hard conversations (except - he thinks about Lew's funeral, Lew's mother holding his hand tightly and him completely tearless, Winnie sitting behind him, how she leaned forward and laid her hand on his back, let him breathe again. They've never talked about that but it's never really seemed like they needed to).

She rolls her eyes at him. "Spike."

"You don't have to-"

"I just thought you should know that I'm falling in love with you. And um. Pretty much I'm terrified. So."

His ears are ringing, like he just stood next to reverberating church bells or like this time when he was eleven, went to Italy with his parents for the summer, fell off a pier, thought he was going to drown, water closing in over his head, all the sound above him muted and low.

She laughs but she also looks like really worried and, he gets it, he does, all those people he's had to bury, wakes up in the night sometimes afraid that one day it'll be her, a bank or a grocery store or a mall and he'll be too late. Somehow, he's always too late right when it counts. He's afraid of the rest of it too though, that the hours will drive them apart, that she'll get sick of seeing him all the time (he's just not, is the thing. Not sick of seeing her every single day, sometimes wishes he could see her even more than he already does) or she'll get fed up of the jokes, of how hard he finds it to have a serious conversation. He's afraid that one day, he'll fall short, the way he has with every other relationship he's ever been in.

"You don't have to-okay, well, should we go?" Her voice is light, like she's suggesting they hike a mile in the snow just to get proper tacos.

"I-Winnie-"

She shrugs and she doesn't look disappointed at all, still looks scared though and that's-he can't stand that. "Spike, it's okay-"

"I just-I'm already there. Probably was before I even asked you out. So." He clears his throat.

She's frozen, this expression on her face like she's just seen a huge centipede running across the floor in front of her (and like, she can kill her own spiders, change her own light bulbs, has gone sky-diving before but centipedes are something she calls him into the room for and he's just-he never rolls his eyes at her when she does). "Um. Oh."

His eyebrows shoot up and he snorts. "Oh?"

"Oh," she confirms, smiles tentatively at him.

He rolls his eyes. "Okay well. If we're all good here, can we go? I'm cold." He starts walking, kind of expects her to start too, slide her hand into his pocket, or loop her arm through is but she's still standing there and he swallows. "Winnie?"

"Yeah, I lied with all that falling stuff. I'm not in the process. Pretty much right there. You know. Already there. Probably around that time I opened your cupboard and saw you'd bought Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cause. I know you hate it."

He's not sure why that's what did it but it's not like it was such a hardship to add the cereal she likes to his grocery list (it's just-she's over all the time and he likes it when she stays the night and she's got to eat in the morning so. Cereal. Also, that awful peanuts-only peanut butter she has at her place). "Uh. Okay?"

She grins suddenly, and it does that thing to his heart that it always does and he can't help but smile back at her. "'Kay."

They start walking and he keeps glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, how she keeps smiling to herself, thinks about the fact that she's right there with him in this and that it feels like it makes sense in a way it never has with anyone else. She slips her hand into his pocket and he grins to himself as he slides his hand in too, links their fingers together.

He thinks about all the things he wants to say the whole way back to his place, holds in all those words and she's standing in front of him saying something about peas as she slides off her wet coat and he turns to shut the door, says what he's been thinking to wood and steel instead of to her.

"I'm um. Not scared exactly. But. S'not easy. To feel like this." She doesn't say a word and when he glances behind him to see if she's still standing there, she's looking right at him. "I keep thinking I'm going to screw it up."

She nods slowly. "Yeah. I mean. Me too."

They stand there for a few moments and he wonders why exactly it is that he's suddenly not that worried about messing this up anymore.

She steps forward, tugs on the front of his coat and then snickers. "Wanna go upstairs?"

He snorts because yes, of course he does, he's a guy and she's beautiful, like he never not wants to. She leans up, pecks his lips and then races up the stairs like whoever gets there first gets a prize. He laughs, follows her up, the two of them starting down that path that's gotten so familiar.

But it's different too, when he kisses her it's like he tastes the weight of everything they've said, and when she leans against him, he feels like he's got to be both strong and weak for her, feels like every touch, every brush of her fingers against him is burning right through his skin. So. He tells her that. Thinks isn't it funny that the one person who hasn't asked him to be more honest with her, hasn't asked him to drop the jokes or be more serious is the one person he wants to be honest and serious with.

She looks down at him from where she's straddling his hips, his arms around her and she takes a shuddering breath, says, "Love you, Spike," right against his skin.

He says it back. Means it.