by The Moonmoth
Buffy hadn't realized, when she'd accepted the power boost from the Shadow Men, exactly what she was getting into. More power, yes – enough to take out most of an army of Turok-Han by herself – but the rest? Hadn't really become apparent until after.
Along with the enhanced speed, agility, strength, and the strange magic that seemed to rise up within her whenever she took hold of her scythe, everything around her seemed brighter, deeper, richer, and it took Buffy a couple of days before she figured out that the extra dimension everything had gained was because of a newly heightened sense of smell. In fact, it had been Spike who'd figured it out, when she couldn't keep from sniffing at him – but wow did he suddenly smell amazing!
Not that he hadn't always smelled good, all wind-whipped leather and moonlight goodness. But now it was like she wanted to bury her face in his chest and just breathe him in. Wanted to rip all his clothes off and roll around with him until she was lazy and content from fucking, and they were unmistakably marked as each other’s.
The problem was, Spike was... he was kind of weirded out by the whole barely-restrained-from-jumping-his-bones thing, that was about as obvious as an Acme anvil, and yeah, there were about a hundred good reasons why she shouldn't, starting with their sordid history, skirting through awkward non-discussions about feelings (she really should have spoken to him after Angel stopped by with the amulet), and meeting the checkered flag at 'so what actually is Buffy now?' But although none of her friends would actually come out and say it, they were all telling her in one way or another that she was wrong – again – and Buffy was kind of sick of it. She didn't feel wrong. She just felt a little extra. And that extra part of her really, really didn't care about tiptoeing around the Spike-history or the surprisingly delicate little Spike-feelings.
They were all camped out in Angel's hotel when it finally came to a head. Dawn was giving her the kid gloves and sympathy routine, Xander was up on his high-horse about something, Willow flat out told her she was scared by these new demonic traits, and Angel just stood by looking disturbed and disappointed when she told them she didn't want to fix it. She had a freedom running through her veins that she hadn't felt in – god – years, she wasn't doing anything evil with it (not even Spike – not that he counted any longer), she'd decimated an army of unkillable über-vamps for god's sake, and somehow she still wasn't good enough.
There it was, she realized – the raw, pulsating heart of the matter. They didn't think she was good any more. Pure.
"You're too good for me now," she said later to the footsteps that joined her on the hotel's deserted rooftop, wrapped in a blanket of her own misery. "That's it, isn't it? You think I’m beneath you."
The irony hadn’t escaped her.
"We're talking about this now?" Spike asked mildly, though obviously surprised. That was fair; she hadn't been so much with the explanations lately. More with the base urges, frustrated growling, and storming off when she couldn’t get what her instincts were screaming for.
"Big new champion in town," Buffy continued bitterly. "Saved the world with the power of your soul and I'm just..."
"Just what?" The raised eyebrow was practically in his tone.
She didn't know what to say, though.
"You listen to me," Spike said then. "I didn't save anything. At best I mopped up the stragglers. You did it all, Buffy – you – and if it weren't for you I'd be so much dust at the bottom of that crater along with all the other demons. Hey, look at me," he said, reaching out to touch her face, and she tried not to cry at his gentleness. "You should have seen yourself in that fight, love. In all my years I never saw something so... so luminous. Like the heart of a bloody star, you were, burning with righteousness. I knew, in that moment… A hundred plus years and there's only one thing I've ever been so sure of, Buffy – you. If I didn't love you before I would've fallen like a sodding meteorite."
"But you said – you wouldn't –" she frowned, utterly confused. "You were being all noble and for-my-own-good-y, and I thought you didn't... want me. Anymore."
"Nooo," Spike drawled, looking somewhere between pissed and amused. "I said my cock didn’t exist to buck up your self-esteem. There's a difference."
"Oh," Buffy said, chastened. "I thought you thought I was all wrong, like the others."
"God, no," Spike said vehemently. "You're Buffy, and you're perfect, don't ever let anyone make you believe that you aren't. Even if it’s me.” He faltered, looking away, and she wondered if he was remembering what she was remembering. And there was that whole sordid past thing, intruding again. Only, it had been preceded by the much nicer-sounding present. She looked up at him, his image blurring and quivering, waiting desperately for what he’d say next. "I just... I can't do the one-sided thing again, sweetheart. It's too hard."
She blinked, and the tears spilled over. Then she wiped at her eyes, because she’d just realized what had to happen next, and it made her feel suddenly small, and human, and very breakable. "I guess I forgot to do the part where I tell you that I love you."
She had never seen him look more stunned. The power of it fueled that new dark part of her, but she sat on it for now.
"I love you," she repeated, eyes filling again. "And every part of me knows it now. That's why I... why I can't hold back anymore. I love you, and I just want to be with you."
"Oh," Spike said faintly. "You might have mentioned that before."
"Sorry?" She tried for a winning smile. It didn’t quite work, through the tears, and Spike just continued to look stunned.
"You mean it?" he said
"Yeah," she breathed. "Kind of a lot."
Spike shook his head, but a smile was starting to break through. "Talk about having a lot to make up for," he said, stepping closer
"So much missed time," Buffy agreed, tilting her face up. God, he smelled good; she wanted to devour him. Whatever he saw in her face, Spike's eyes darkened in response. In a single, fluid move Buffy swept his feet out from under him and pounced. Straddling his hips she bent low and inhaled, nose buried in the crook of his neck. Beneath her, Spike was hard as rock, a low growl rumbling up through his chest into hers. She held him down by the shoulders and licked a long stripe up his neck to his ear, and, nibbling on his lobe, whispered, "How do you feel about biting?"