AN: Fifth and final part.

Thanks for reading this silly little story, and if you took the time to play around in that little box below, seriously, I owe you something really good. Will hijack your letter to Santa.

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He nearly asks her to repeat herself, how it sounds like he's hearing her through water and also, the fact that what he's hoping she said is probably at odds with what he figures she actually said-

"Spike?" she asks, looks all worried, eyes skittering away from his and then back. "Um-if you're not hungry, we don't have to-"

So clearly he didn't just imagine that whole thing and what he wants to say is that it's not a good idea, that it's just going to make him like her about a thousand times more, that he really should just go home, knock himself out to stop thinking about her but she's got this hopeful expression on her face, eyes all wide and he hears himself enthusiastically say, "Yeah, sure!" because he just can't say no. Also doesn't want to say no. So.

Which is how they end up sitting across from each other at a 24-hour diner sharing fries and an appallingly enormous waffle, Winnie sipping from this enormous milkshake and then pushing it at him, saying there's no way she can drink the whole thing and then stealing it back from under his nose with a little grin and he tries to ignore the fact that they're sharing a straw because it's not a thing. (It is not a thing.)

And it's not like they haven't hung out before, they have (you know, before Leah went and pointed out things he tried to insist weren't there and before Winnie told him she'd rather date anyone else but him, just, you know, not in so many words) but he hadn't been obsessed with staring at her face then, thinking she just looked so pretty when she laughed and really, no girl had ever been able to make him laugh like this, that it's stupid-easy to talk to her, that she's fun and interesting and they never run out of things to say and yeah. Which – is what he's thinking now.

So. This was a bad idea.

When they're done and they've split the bill and are standing outside and he's thinking that he doesn't want to say good night to her like, ever and is also wondering how in the hell he can extricate himself from this situation without looking rude or being a shitty person, she looks at him and says, "Um. Would you mind walking me home?" And she kind of says it like if says no, it's no big deal, not at all.

And of course he's going to fucking walk her home, obviously, there's no way he's letting her trundle around in the dark after midnight but it's just, well, how'd this turn out for them last time? He clears his throat, nods and they start walking in silence. She walks way too close to him, smiles at him when he glances at her and okay, seriously, he's starting to think he must have really pissed someone off in a past life.

It's an awkward silence for the first block, like a really horrific first date and a thing it's never been between them, and he blames it on the fact that there are absolutely no useful thoughts in his head (except for the one where he's thinking that he hasn't been drinking and he still really wants to take her home with him, get her clothes off, and that he's kind of hoping that maybe something will happen, which probably makes him some kind of huge creep but then again, she hasn't told him no so what exactly does that mean and in any case, because he hasn't been drinking, it's a moot point) and then they start talking about chicken fingers, of all things, and he wants to just tell her that he can't do this anymore, that he can't listen to her laugh and know that she's not coming home with him, that he really can't stand walking this close to her and not be allowed to touch her, that if he has to see her with her hair all pulled back or down or really, anything in between, and not get to just lean over and kiss her, he's going to lose his mind, but they get to her apartment building and she looks at him and he looks at her and he's about to force a smile and turn around and leave because he doesn't want to look like he's expecting something or anything and plus, he really does need to go home before he does something stupid like tell her he's still got a really big thing for her, when she goes, "You wanna come up?"

He thinks his mouth drops open. Because he is stone cold sober and after all the time that's passed and all the stuff she's soaked her alcohol up with, she's got to be pretty sober too. "Winnie-"

"You don't have to," she says hastily. "I mean, if you don't want-"

"I do," he interrupts. "That's kind of the problem."

She nods quickly and then pauses. "Wait, what? Why is that the problem?"

He makes a face, wishes he wasn't hearing Leah's voice in his head. "Come on-"

She lets out this sudden laugh and he has no idea what in the hell she's even laughing at. She stops and swallows, looks up at him. "Do you want to come upstairs with me?" And there is no trace of joking on her face, none at all.

Spike finds he can't tell her no, not when she's looking at him like that, he just can't lie to her when she's looking at him like that. And pretty much, he's a total pushover for her because he's going to do whatever she wants him to do. Even though he has no idea what in the fuck is going on here.

They ride the elevator up in silence. She stares straight ahead and he admits to himself that if this is a bad idea, all he wants to do is follow bad ideas.

She opens her front door, lets them in and then just looks at him. He looks back at her, thinks that keeping things straight in his own head would be a whole hell of a lot easier if she'd stop looking at him like that, like she's willing-

"You want anything?" she asks and her voice is low and she's walking towards him and he thinks it would be really really great if he could do this without thinking about how much he wants everything other than this (or you know, in addition to, because no matter what he tells himself about the shouldas, wouldas and couldas, this part is pretty great).

She kisses him, lips warm and soft and he kisses her back because he's fucking dumb as shit. And because he can't help it. She slides her arms up around his neck and he pulls her closer to him because he never fucking learns and because what he told Leah is true – if this is all he gets to have, he's going to take it.

Which probably makes him the biggest, saddest idiot on the planet.

He gets her shirt off pretty quick, unbuttons her jeans and touches her and she makes those little noises that he has literally been dreaming of since the first time he got her naked and like, really, this is so unfair, she smells like shampoo and diner-food and he just wants to-

She pulls away suddenly, clears her throat. "I uh. I don't do this, you know."

"Do what?" he asks stupidly. Yeah well, in his defence, he's a guy and his brain is still stalled out on her skin and her breasts and every other part of her too.

"I don't go sleeping with my co-workers. Ever. I've never done this."

He snorts. "Except for the other times we've done this?" Cringes immediately because hi, that sure sounds like he's calling her too friendly. Or easy. Or something.

She laughs though, relief flooding her features and he has no idea what's got her so relieved and no idea how one person can be so vibrant when they're laughing but there you go, shit that can't be explained happens every single day. "Yeah. Except for those. Kind of seems like. You know. An exception."

He's pretty sure he's got a class A moronic look on his face, but he just has no idea what she's talking about (or even why they're talking at all, to be honest). "What?"

She clears her throat again, won't look him in the eye. "Um. You wanna date?"

"I-what?" He's a genius, evidently.

"Me. Do you want to date me?"

He rolls his eyes, feels a cautious smile spreading across his face. "I asked you out, remember?"

She laughs, this nervous high-pitched thing that he swears he didn't even know she could do. "I know but I…I kind of feel like…can we start over?"

"Start over what?" He still has no idea what she's talking about but he kind of thinks this can't be a bad thing, not for him, not at all.

She huffs, makes a face at him. "Ask me again. Ask me out again. Please." Her voice is all soft and kind of trembling like she thinks he's going to turn her down or something-

He thinks his jaw is somewhere on the ground, thinks he may have to actually bend down and pick it back up. "I. Okay. Uh. You want to go out sometime?"

She nods enthusiastically. "Yes. I would love to."

He lets out this slightly-hysterical chuckle. "Are you serious?" This entire evening feels like he wandered into someone's basement, found a flux capacitor, fucked up a past event really hard and then ended up in a future that makes no sense (and seriously, why in the fuck is he thinking about Marty McFly?) and he has to wrench himself back into the conversation.

"I mean, not-you don't have to-only if you want to."

He opens and closes his mouth for a moment, like he can't find any words because every single thing he thought he knew about five and a half minutes ago is now ass over elbow. He's grinning at her though. "Winnie, I-of course I want to." He shakes his head, pulls her closer to him and kisses her gently on the mouth.

She lets out this soft sound, slides her arms up around his neck and he's kissed her quite a bit here, you know, he's gotten fairly familiar with the way her mouth feels and the way she tastes, but it's never been a kiss like this, all filled with things he hadn't even realized had been there the whole time, quiet and promise and she laughs softly against his mouth, pulls him closer to her by the bottom of his shirt.

Also, everything else that follows? Slow. And when he runs his fingers over her waist, she shivers, lets him see everything all over her face. She moans into his shoulder, eyes tightly closed and she makes this little gasping sound every time he moves.

So, basically, the evening is not bad for his ego, is all he's saying.

Although, it's not exactly good for the rest of him because somehow they end up in the shower and she elbows him hard in the side of the face by accident and a huge bottle of shampoo lands on his foot and they're both laughing, sliding all over the place and yes, it is completely impractical to have any kind of sex in the shower but apparently, the two of them are going to ignore all of that and do it anyway.

She hops onto the bed afterwards, curls up on his chest and grins, so close he can count all her eyelashes.

He rolls his eyes at her, knows he's grinning too, hugs her close to him.

"Um. I guess I should apologize."

"For what?" It's just – he's really tired now and not exactly up to having a serious conversation. He wonders if she's one of those girls who likes doing that, having serious conversations with her boyfriends after sex, distinctly remembers one girlfriend he had who used to cry, which was entirely horrifying and a thing he never got used to. Is kind of (really) hoping that Winnie's not one of those girls.

She clears her throat. "Being really…for saying no?"

He snorts, thinks about all the things Leah's been telling him to do for far too long. He probably owes her like, a drink or something. "It's okay." Well, it is now, you know, things getting all reorganized in his brain.

She snorts, picks at the sheet a little. "Um. I dunno. I think I was pretty stupid."

"You aren't stupid." Actually, if she wants to talk stupid, he could probably tell her about the really foolish prank he and Ed pulled on Sam three days ago but this probably isn't the time for gravy and glue guns.

"Mm. I might be. Suppose it's a good thing I didn't let you get drunk with Sam's sister, eh?"

He stares at her, kind of hears some warning bells going off here but has no idea how to phrase any of this politely. "You think that's the only reason I'm here?" He can't help it – he laughs right in her face, thinks of all those nights he spent alone thinking about her, those two mornings he got to wake up with her and how it felt like something he wanted to sign on for on a pretty permanent basis. "I asked you out before all of that. Which. Is a thing you might want to remember."

She doesn't say anything.

He wants to roll his eyes at himself, stop himself from telling her the next bit but figures he's a totally lost cause when it comes to her. "You realize I've been torturing myself this whole time? Cause nothing ever really changed for me. Only, thinking you didn't want-"

"I do want," she says earnestly.

He huffs. "Yes but-"

"I tried to tell you. That I wanted, you know. Another chance. Except then we ended up sleeping together and you never said anything about it." She looks so embarrassed, cheeks all red and how she keeps fidgeting.

"Yeah. Probably because you turned me down." He's starting to smile though, everything she's saying starting to sink in and how he kind of wants to shake his head at the both of them.

She makes a face at him, shoves him in the side. "Are you just going to keep bringing that up?"

"Yeah, probably. You going to keep putting up with it?"

She laughs. "Yeah. Probably. Or like. You know. Definitely."

He raises his eyebrows at her, tugs her closer so he can kiss her. "Good to know."


"So." It's amazing how she can interject so very much into a two letter word.

Spike sighs before he glances up at Leah. "So what?"

Winnie looks between the two of them and then snorts. "I have to go to the bathroom." She hops off his lap and then grins at him. "Talk quickly."

"Funny," he says, finds himself grinning back at her.

Leah doesn't even wait until Winnie's left, drops into the seat beside him and then rolls her eyes. "Look at me, Scarlatti, or I'm going to take the seat Winnie was just in."

He makes a face at her. "Okay okay. What is it?"

"Nothing. I mean. You're totally welcome, by the way." She has a smug expression on her face.

"For what?" Because mostly, all he's thinking about right now is that five seconds ago, he and Winnie were talking, her bare shoulder was something he could press his lips to every now and again and they were looking at pictures on the same phone – and now they're not.

"I know you don't think the two of you got together just because of the two of you." She snorts rudely. "Please."

He sighs. "Leah, seriously, what do you want?"

"Ehh. Just to rub in the fact that I told you so." She grins at him and he finds himself reluctantly grinning back, her smile infectious. "You look happy."

"I am." It's a whole lot more enjoyable being able to enjoy having really good sex with someone you really like and who you no longer have to pretend not to really like. If anyone was wondering.

She raises her eyebrows at him. "Okay. Well. Just to let you know, Ben's totally up in Winnie's grill right now."

Spike raises his back at her. "Is he? Well. She's a big girl. Can take care of herself." He can afford to be a little more generous now that he knows Ben-and-Winnie is not a thing that's going to happen (apparently, Ben's not her type, who knew?).

"Ha! How things have changed."

"Leah." Only he sees the look on her face and starts laughing.

She's laughing too. "Okay okay. God, he really is hot though."

Spike just rolls his eyes. Fucking Ben. (So he's not going to be too generous.) "Well maybe you can go annoy him and let my girlfriend come back over here."

"You're in a much better mood when she's your girlfriend than when she isn't."

He shoots Leah an exasperated look. "Thank you for pointing that out."

"And for totally making it happen." She still sounds really fucking smug.

"You do realize that you didn't do anything, right?"

She raises an eyebrow at him. "Please. You have no idea how completely dense you are. I thought I was going to have to come right out and tell you that I knew!"

He sighs patiently. "Knew what?"

"The whole story. You don't even know how difficult it was to talk Winnie down from the ledge of never mentioning it again. The two of you really need to learn to use your words."

He stares at her in utter disbelief. "Leah Kearns is telling me to use my words?" He snorts rudely but it's so ludicrous that he just ends up laughing. "Because all of that stuff with the smirking and the gesturing and the eyebrows-"

"How is it my fault that you're so dense, you need someone to come right out and say it?"

"Right. How unreasonable of me." All of that said, he probably does owe Leah a drink, at the very least, at this point.

"Damn straight. You're SRU, it should be easy! Okay, now seriously. You think I can get Ben to go home with me?"

He makes a face at her. "Contrary to whatever you may think, I'm not one of your girlfriends." He glances at Ben and then snickers. "But as you said, he's a little slow. I'm sure you can convince him."

"Excellent," she says. Gets up and squeezes his shoulder. "I'll let your honeybunch come back over here now."

He sighs, doesn't bother correcting her. Some battles are really just not worth it and it's not like she makes those kinds of awful comments when there's anyone else within hearing range.

"Hey," Winnie says, sliding into the seat next to him. "You have any idea why Ben was asking me if I was going to bring you an orange juice?"

He makes a face. "It's a long and painful story." Trust Fucking Ben to have noticed that. He wonders if he can convince Sam to help him rig something to blow up in the guy's locker. (Not that he's going to - because that would be childish.)

"I figured. Any idea why he was asking me if we're off and on?"

He clears his throat. "Nope. Leah says he's confused so. Probably that."

Winnie's grinning at him. "Yeah, you're probably right. Moving right along. You wanna leave soon?"

"Whenever you want."

She rolls her eyes. "I don't mean, do you want to go home and go to bed," she says with an impatient sigh. "I mean. Do you want to. Leave. Like. Round the back. In the alley."

"Round the-" He swallows, glances down at her not-even-remotely-low-cut shirt. "Um. Yes. Okay. That is a thing I would not object to."

"I bet," she mutters in his ear, looks all happy and pleased with herself. "Well?"

He catches Leah's eye on the way out and she shakes her head like she knows exactly what he's thinking and he snorts and looks pointedly at Ben and when Winnie turns around abruptly as soon as they get outside and kisses him, he thinks that people communicating in looks has actually turned out pretty well for him so far (not that he's going to tell anyone else that).

And yeah, he really does owe Leah that drink.