In Her Heart

A/N:  Here's my take on that missing Buffy/Spike basement scene from "Chosen."

Disclaimer:  I don't own these characters, they own me.

Feedback:  Please?

Her steps are slow and quiet, as they should be; it's well after midnight.

And still, the house is awake.  Few could sleep on a night like this, save for ex-demons who've existed for over a thousand years and seen their fair share of apocalypses.  For some this may be old hat.

And even for Buffy.  She's faced the end of the world before.  And she's always come through.

But always at a price.

Her life, Angel's…  What will she pay tomorrow?

She's died before, and she's prepared to die again.  Maybe this time it'll stick.

But what if the price is much higher?  Many or all may die, even if the spell works.

Of course the lives of young girls mean little where the mission is concerned.  A Slayer can never forget:

The mission is what matters.

And through the years, she's served it well.  And it has changed her, made her tougher, stronger, and helped her build this wall around her heart.  It protects her from those that surround her, those that love her.  But she knows that, ultimately, she can't protect them because they don't matter. 

The mission is what matters.

But maybe…if she lives through this.  If the world is saved and changed at once, she can take a step back, away from the mission.  Maybe she can let the burden fall on the shoulders of others.  And then maybe, just maybe, she can start knocking down some of these walls she's spent so much time building.

A girl can always hope…

But of course there's another price.  One that she's not sure she's ready to pay.  Somehow, he's slipped past her walls.  How this happened, she can't guess.  But there he is—in her heart.  She can feel him.

And as she makes her way down the stairs to the basement, she knows he's waiting for her.  And up until now, he's probably doubted that she'd really come to him. 

Dope.

Well, if he had any doubts, they're gone now.  She hears the springs of his mattress creak as he rises from the tiny cot, then sees him standing five feet from the foot of the stairs, looking at her.  As she steps onto the cold concrete floor of the basement, she gazes back, searching for words, but finding none.

He opens his mouth to speak, his eyes a mixture of emotions she can't begin to read.  He starts to say something, then thinks better of it, and simply raises his hand toward her in a beckoning gesture.  She goes to him, and is quickly enveloped in his arms, her face resting against his chest.

He strokes her cheek with cool fingers, and she captures his other hand in hers, feeling the cold metal of the amulet in his grip.  She shivers.  Not from its coldness, but from what she fears it will do to its wearer.  Its champion.

She starts to grasp at the amulet; pry it from its new owner, but he pulls it away, holding it out of her reach.

"Spike…"  She looks up at his face and sees how determined he is, but this doesn't stop her.  "You don't have to wear it…"

But he only smiles, mockingly, with bravado he's so damn good at faking.  "I bloody well do," he says.  "This little trinket could save the world for all we know.  It could be the key…"

"And it could kill you," she says, a menacing edge in her voice to hide her fear.

He takes a step back, eyes focused on hers, and nods slowly and deliberately.  "It could."  His look is somber now, false bravado abandoned.

And she can't hide from him anymore, because he's there in her heart.  He's got to know…

"Spike, I—"

But he quiets her, and suddenly he's standing less than a foot in front of her, one hand on her shoulder, the other holding a finger to her lips.  "Shhh.  Quiet, luv," he whispers.  "Don't."

"But—"

His head swoops down, claiming her lips with his.  His kiss is tender, conveying clearly all that he feels.  He loves her.

She's breathless and lightheaded.  It's been so long since he's kissed her; and never like this.  She kisses him back, hands roaming to his face, then to his shoulders, holding firmly as she inches forward, pushing him back, back, to the cot against the wall.  She applies pressure, and his legs fold beneath him; he falls down onto the mattress, and she tumbles on top of him.

She's kissing him harder now.  Urgent.  Mindless.

But he thrashes away.  "Buffy, you don't have to…" he begins in a raspy voice, but she silences him with her lips.

He struggles some more, jerking his head to the side.  "God, Buffy, you know how I feel about you.  But what we have…what you've finally given me…let's not spoil it."  He looks up at her with pain and regret.  "I want you.  You know I do, but not like this.  Not just because the world's gonna end and we're more than likely gonna die tomorrow…I want it to mean something.  For once.  I want it to—"

"But it does," she says; her voice is soft, yet her eyes are firm.  "It means something.  You know it does."

Then she kisses him again, and she feels his body slowly start to relax under her.  She feels his hands, tentative at first, then with building confidence touching her.  She remembers his touch.  But it was never like this.

He's different, and so is she.  She feels reborn, cleansed.  They can start anew.

That is, if the world doesn't end tomorrow. 

But it doesn't matter, she tells herself.  That's not what this is about.  It goes much deeper.  There's a need in her that only he can fill; she can't let this last chance slip by.

So now it's give and take.  What she must do.  She'll give him a part of herself that will most likely die with him tomorrow, and in turn, she'll take from him the love that she could never accept before.  This, she knows, can't be killed.

Buffy fumbles impatiently with the buttons on Spike's shirt.  There isn't much time.  They only have until tomorrow.