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Corrupted by Degree

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Summary: Following Andrew's visit to L.A. in the AtS episode "Damage" Angel is heartbroken to realize that Buffy & the rest of the Scoobs no longer trust him since he has taken control of Wolfram & Hart. Andrew returns to Europe with knowledge of Spike's r

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > DramaElysianFR151125,7340135,9212 Mar 0410 Sep 05No

I Prefer a Sunless Sky

Spike reached for the phone when it rang. The phone was lost amid piles of boxes and a mess of papers on top of a desk. The vampire was sitting in a chair behind the desk. He leaned back in the chair and put his feet up on one corner of the desk.

“Summers Security & Investigation,” Spike said. “We hope you’re hopeless.”

A few boxes fell from the desk, scattering their contents across the floor.

“Oh . . . hey, Fred.” A smile passed across Spike’s face. “No, we’re just getting set up over here. It’s actually something of a bloody mess.”

Doyle walked into the office carrying a box. “Where do you want this?”

Spike, still holding the phone to his ear, looked up from the desk and shrugged carelessly. The other man simply walked across the room and tossed the box on top of a stack of similar boxes as Spike remained carelessly behind the desk.

“Tonight?” Spike responded, “My schedule’s free. Well, aside from the usual cavalcade of brutal violence and strong language. We may eventually even have graphic nudity and sexual situations but I suppose you have to be content with what comes to you.”

A moment later the vampire suddenly went a little wide and then he suddenly laughed out loud.

“Fred, princess, what horrible creature taught you that word. I hope you kicked his ass. Either that or showed him a wonderful time. A vocabulary like that would deserve it. I mean what would your mother think?”

Spike chuckled at her response. “Now that’s a woman I’ll have to meet. A lass after my own heart she must be . . . Tonight then. I’ll meet you there. Bye, luv.”

Spike hung up the phone.

He got up out of the chair and to see Doyle down on his knees picking up the boxes Spike had knocked over a few minutes earlier. He was collecting the spilled files and placing them back in the boxes.

Doyle looked up at the other man. “You know living with you must be like living with children.”

“Can’t say I haven’t heard that before,” said Spike, getting down on one knee and helping Doyle gather the files. He took a moment to collect a small collection of photos that had spilled out of one of the files.

Spike suddenly stopped, staring down at the photograph in his hand.

Buffy.

It was an old picture. She was younger and her hair was shorter and blonder than it had been when he’d last seen her. For a few brief moments he stared at the smiling girl in the photo wordlessly.

Spike exhaled, his shoulders dropping, as if a weight had suddenly settled on his shoulders. He looked at the other man.

“Where’d you get this?”

Doyle looked down at the photo in Spike’s hand. “I took it from her file at Wolfram & Hart.” He reached out gently and took the picture from Spike’s fingers, tucking it carefully back into the file. “You’d be amazed by the stuff they have there. I’ve been collecting information on Angel for years, back since I worked for them. I’m sorry, okay, but it stands to reason I’d have somethin’ on her.

“I’ll bet,” Spike responded wryly. He spoke quietly. “I suppose they’d be big on sizing up the competition.”

Doyle’s mouth twisted briefly in the direction of a smile. “I think . . . ‘opposition’ is more apropos where she’s concerned. But yeah, they keep an eye on her. Keep an interest. She’s part of Angel’s life, or was anyway. Eve has just been helping me flesh out some of the stuff I missed. Keep me up to date on some of our . . . opposition. Sooner or later we’re bound to come up against them.”

“I’d prefer not to,” Spike replied. “Angel may be an asshole, but that doesn’t mean I wanna rip his guts out. Well, no more than’s natural I s’pose.” The vampire allowed himself a slight smile. “He may be a git, and he may be a walking, talking argument for birth control, but he’s family. Angel may be misguided. Stupid even. But evil . . . no. And some of the people working with him are friends.”

Doyle gave Spike a hard look. “That place only brings out the worst in people. It’ll grind you down ‘til that’s all that’s left of you. And what will your friends be then? Who will they be a month from now? A year from now? Trust me, I’ve seen it.”

“And I have to believe in the best of them,” the vampire answered a bit sharply. “I have faith in them. Faith in Fred. Faith in Wes. And, god help me, faith in Angel. I have to believe that, despite their hubris, they’ll be able to survive that place.”

“Even the best of people can work in the worst of places I suppose,” Doyle surrendered. “I hope you’re right. About all of them. Oh god, I hope . . .”

Spike’s expression softened. “Do you love her?”

“Eve?”

“Do you love her?”

Doyle hesitated, “Honestly . . . I don’t know.”

“Find out,” Spike told the other man certainly. “It’s a bloody important thing to know. And if you do love her, tell her. Grab hold of that and never let her go again.

Doyle looked at Spike for a few long moments. “Why are you still here?”

“I’m not quite gettin’ ya, Doyle.”

“I know why I’m here. It’s you I don’t get. Why are you still here? Why aren’t you off in Rome snuggling with your honey. We resurrected you as an alternative to Angel. So in the end that there was someone that Wolfram & Hart didn’t have in their pocket, but that never meant you had to stay in Los Angeles.”

Spike hesitated. The silence held out long enough that there was a question of whether he even intended to answer. A sigh came out with his breath. “Unrequited love . . . is a terrible thing. Standing there every day, at the edges of the world, watching the one person you love more than anything else in the world go on with her life without you.

“Love can change a person, dig down deep inside and twist their whole bloody world around. Love . . . can redefine you,” Spike remarked morosely. Subsumed in the bitterness of nostalgia. “Loving Buffy changed me. There’s no denying that. But it also brought out the worst in me. It reached down inside me and wrenched all my emotions and good intentions into one terrible moment of brutality that ripped both our hearts out and left them bleeding and broken on the ground. I’m not a good man, Doyle. It’s been a long time since I was.

“Though fucked if I don’t try,” he finished, quietly bitter.

For a few long moments the whispered sound of a radio at the back corner of the office was the only noise to be heard.

Down to the earth I fell
With dripping wings,
Heavy things won't fly


“I like to think that I meant something to her,” Spike said finally. “I think maybe I did.” He shrugged. “Maybe,” the single word spoken softly like a prayer. “I could go to Italy and see Buffy, and we might . . . might . . . be able to salvage something. She might even find it in herself to love me.

Briefly, a faint smile played about the vampire’s face.

“I think . . . I think that I can live with the hope. But I don’t think I could live without it.

And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world


“If for some reason . . . if she turned me away it would bloody destroy me.

“I understand why you did what you did, Doyle. I do. Bringing me back. But it wasn’t a nice thing. Not by a long shot. I spent almost six months watching the world go by. Right there in front of me. Not being able to do anything about it. Not being able to touch. Not being able to feel. Six bleedin’ months without even the simplest comfort. Nearly six months of being nothing. I can’t be that again. I can’t be nothing. I can’t be dead. I just can’t. And that’s what I’d be . . . if I took the risk . . . if Buffy turned me away.”

“But I’m okay.” Spike looked up at the other man and forced a smile. “I am. I’m okay. I’ve accepted it. I’m learnin’ to live with it. I think I can live with it. The fuckin’ terrible truth, I guess, one of those things that no-one has the heart to tell you, is that some people are just meant to be alone.”

That's why
I prefer a sunless sky
To the glittering and stinging in my eye





* * * * * * *

“Amanda, try not to get so far ahead.” The worry in the blonde college girl’s voice was obvious. “Just try to stay close, okay honey.”

The small dark haired girl looked back at them through a crowd. “Alright, Nina.”

“She’s a good kid,” Angel said quietly, walking side-by-side with Nina through the crowded mall.

“The best,” the pride in her voice bringing with a it a faint smile as her eyes followed the girl as she disappeared into the crowd. “I just worry sometimes. I can’t protect her. There’s things in this world that . . .” Nina sighed. “Vampires. Werewolves. Giant glowing Easter eggs that turn you into Muppets.”

Angel frowned. “I’ll have you know my people destroyed that . . . giant . . . Easter egg.”

“I remember.” Nina smiled. “ ‘I want helicopters and tear gas’ ‘This is war!’ It was kinda funny. Fun for the whole family. The werewolf side of me eating you part was less fun, but the kinda thing you chuckle about when you look back on it.”

“I’m glad my horrible trauma amused you.” A momentary smile crossed Angel’s face. “See how you like it when it happens to you.”

Nina laughed, a smile brightening her whole face as she turned toward Angel. She seemed a little hyper, giddy, almost bouncing on the balls of her feet. “I think I’d make a cute Muppet.”

“Yeah,” he said, slowly raising a hand. “You would.” She suddenly stilled as his fingers swept a lock of her blonde hair back and gently brushed across her cheek. Her large blue eyes followed him. “Like Miss Piggy . . .”

Nina opened her mouth to say something but suddenly Angel was kissing her ever so softly, his fingertips still gently cradling her cheek.

Nina closed her eyes and settled into the kiss.

The faint music coming through the mall sound system was a distant tempo accompanying them.

Feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
Feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life


They came apart as quietly as they had come together. She smiled at him and then looked down coyly. Angel reached out carefully and took her hand. Their fingers carefully entangled. Nina looked down at their entwined hands.

Angel and Nina walked together through the mall hand in hand.

Gleaming in the dark sea
I'm as light as air
Floating there
breathlessly




* * * * * * *

“I think I need another drink,” Spike said pitifully as he looked down into his half empty beer glass. The soft sound of country music from the jukebox nearby filled the pub. “There’s only so much of this a man can take.”

Harmony and Fred shared a look across the table. “Apparently being with two women at once is too much for him.”

“Pity.” Fred gave him a brief appraising look. “And I had such high hopes.”

Spike opened his mouth and then closed it again. “There isn’t a way to respond that will leave me with my dignity, is there?!”

Harmony grinned. “Probably not.”

Fred smiled. “Just be happy that we left you with more dignity than Angel has left at the moment.”

The reminder of that suddenly sent Spike into a laughing fit. “Angel the puppet. I really wish I had been able to be there to see it.”

Harmony’s grin turned wicked. “I have pictures.”

Fred glanced at her sharply. “I can’t believe you’d do that. If Angel found out he’d . . .”

Harmony looked at the other woman and raised an eyebrow.

Fred’s facade broke in moments. “Okay, okay . . . so I made copies of the security tapes. I mean how could I not do it. It was just so . . .” Fred made an effort to collect herself. She pursed her mouth briefly and justified, “At least I feel a little bad about it.”

“Fat lot of good that does.”

Fred suddenly seemed to find the tiny umbrella in her glass very interesting.

Spike leaned forward slightly in his chair. “What was it like?”

Harmony frowned, “What do you mean? Are you asking what Angel was like as a Muppet? I don’t know, um . . . he was angry, a little stiff, like he was walking around with someone’s fist up his . . .” She suddenly brightened, “Oh, I got it. He was like the love-child of those two guys up in the balcony on the Muppet Show mixed with a bit of the personality of that big blue eagle.”

At that both Fred and Spike were suddenly laughing hysterically. Fred bent over laughing so hard she nearly fell off her chair. Her forehead knocked against the table with and audible thud. “That is so incredibly cruel,” Fred said, still laughing. There were tears at the corner of her eyes. At a look from Spike, she giggled and said, “I didn’t say it wasn’t true . . . I just said it was cruel.”

Spike raised his glass. “To taking what life throws at you with a sense of humor.”

They all raised their glasses and took a drink.

“Jim Henson is probably rolling over in his grave,” Spike murmured into his glass. Fred’s tiny fist suddenly jabbed him in the shoulder. “Ow.”

Fred raised an eyebrow and smiled at him. She raised her nearly empty glass again. To Spike and Harmony. “To good friends.”




* * * * * * *

“I’m getting another drink,” said Fred. “You guys want anything?”

“No. I still haven’t finished the last one yet.”

“Me either,” answered Spike. “I think it’s near time I called it a night.”

Fred gave him a brief playful smile. “Lightweight,” she teased kindly. “Well I don’t care about either of you. I’m getting another drink. I’m gonna pour myself into a cab. And tomorrow I’ll wake up bright and early and go into work with one major league hangover.”

“Well good luck with that.”

Fred smiled brightly. “Thanks.”

She walked off in the direction of the bar.

Harmony looked at Spike as he picked up his wallet from the table and tucked it into the back pocket of his jeans. “So you’re really leaving?”

“Yeah,” Spike said. “The night calls and all that. Time to play the bloody hero.”

“You could come home with me.” She looked up at him with doleful eyes. “No promises. No, you know . . . expectations.” She smiled across the table at him awkwardly. “Just come home with me and we can see where it goes from there.” Harmony suddenly seemed nervous absently fiddling with the tiny umbrella in her glass, “Or . . . or I could come . . .”

Spike dismissed her with a slow shake of his head. A somehow hopeless and sad expression flitted briefly across her face. All the while he was looking at her regretfully. He sighed. “I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the way I treated you. I’m sorry for the way I was.

“You, Harm . . . amaze me. You are a beautiful, amazing woman. I know Angel and the others don’t give you enough bloody credit. You made your own path. You quit the bloodletting. You never fit in, so you found a place where you could fit. All on your own. You, Harm, are something spectacular. And one day some guy will finally see that. He’ll sweep you off your feet, and once he has you he’ll know what he has and he’ll never let go. He’ll treat you like a princess like you’ve always deserved.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I don’t want some guy,” Harmony said sincerely. A few stray tears escaped her eyes rolled down the delicate lines of her face. “I want you.”

Spike shook his head sadly. “No you don’t.” He reached up slowly and softly brushed away her tears. His fingertips barely ghosted across her fair skin. “I wouldn’t be any good to you.” There was something transparently sad about him for this one brief moment. “I’m not sure I’d be any good to anyone.”

Spike handed her a napkin and she took a few moments to dab at the corners of her eyes with it. Harmony looked up at him and sniffled. “She was a fool to ever let you go.”

Spike managed a watery smile. “Well opinions differ on that one. But thank you.”



* * * * * * *

Buffy was sitting outside in the dark. She was sitting on a rock, beneath the stars, with the dark shape of a large dog curled up next to her with its head resting in her lap. The dog raised it’s head from Buffy’s lap, looking out into the dark back toward the house. Someone approached in the night. The dog relaxed, settling its head back into Buffy’s lap moments before the figure finally spoke.

Dawn stepped up behind Buffy. “How long are you gonna sit out here?”

“ ‘til the world makes sense.”

Dawn smiled and sat down beside her. “So you plan on staying quite a while then.”

“Pretty much.”

Dawn sighed. “Giles is right. His motives may not be the best . . . but his heart is in the right place . . . and the simple truth is that he’s right.” Dawn lowered her eyes briefly. “I suppose that’s not what you were hoping to hear.”

“Not exactly,” was Buffy’s morose response. The dog looked at her quietly. Buffy scratched behind its ears and the dog relaxed, its head settling back on her leg. Buffy sighed, “Sometimes I wish just one of you would say what I want you to say.”

Dawn’s expression darkened slightly. “What you want is for me to lie to you. But I love you too much to do that. Giles loves you too. Sometimes when you love someone you have to hurt them. You have to hurt them so they don’t hurt themselves. Giles just wanted you to understand, that if you did what you had been thinking of doing, if you had run off to see Spike, that would probably be the end of any chance you ever had for a normal life.”

“I know,” Buffy snapped the words breathlessly. “God, do you think I don’t know?”

“But you needed to hear it.”

Buffy looked down at her hands. “Maybe I did.”

“A normal life,” Dawn leaned forward slightly. “That’s all Giles wants for you. A chance that never even existed for you before. I get it. But it's not as easy as that, Buffy. How could you ever have a normal life? You’ll never walk away. There will always be something. Something that calls you back. Something you feel compelled to fight. Something you won’t trust to anyone else. Every day . . . for the rest of your life.”

“I know,” Buffy admitted quietly. “I just like to live the delusion sometimes.”

“And delusional living is fine, just as you don’t think you can jump off a bridge and fly or something like that. Why don’t we see more flying demons? I mean beside the dragon that was never seen again and Andrew’s monkeys . . . There’s no reason they can’t . . .”

“Off topic, Dawn.”

“Oh, sorry. Where was I?”

“About where one day I’m going to be an old lady who can only live with cats.”

Dawn made a dismissive gesture. “Pufft . . . That’s not gonna happen.”

“Oh . . . good.”

“We have Drogyn. He’d eat any cats you brought home.”

“Hey . . .”

“And you have me, silly,” Dawn placed an arm around Buffy and hugged her to herself briefly. “And one day you’ll have a guy who will stick around and love you and who will throw you down on the kitchen floor and do things I don’t even want to think about.”

A brief smile shone though, “So there’s kitchen sex in my future. I’m thrilled.”

“Exempting that I never walk in on it and you strictly avoid tables and food preparation surfaces, sure,” Dawn replied. “You’ll have that, sometime . . . but maybe not with him.”

Dawn delivered this sentence with a even calmness that fell upon Buffy like the brutal finality of fate.

“Before you do anything,” Dawn went on, “I want you to think about what it is you really want. Because I can see it in your eyes, part of you still thinks that if you can just work up the nerve to see him that you might finally get your happily ever after. You’ll smile and he will too, and you’ll come together in a kiss more passionate than any you’ve ever shared. Fade to black. Buffy and Spike in love forever. I can tell you right now that ain’t gonna happen. There is no happily ever after, not in the strictest sense . . . and certainly not with him. Even if you decided to be with him, some days he’d make you angry. And I can guarantee he’ll eventually say the wrong thing at the wrong time and make you want to kill him.”

Buffy looked at Dawn quietly with tears in her eyes. Tears rolled down the heartbroken corners of her face.

“And he isn’t immortal. He’s as mortal as any of us. You should know that now. Despite his rather odd solution to the Kobayashi Maru, one day he might be gone from this world again. Or it might be your turn . . . again. You know, this whole you only have so much time in your life speech might be more poignant if you idiots didn’t keep coming back from the dead. You ruined a good cliche.”

“Next time I die I’ll be sure to be cliche and stay dead,” Buffy muttered and wiped at the tears on her face with the back of her hand.

“But I’m not sure any of that matters,” continued Dawn. “Let’s make this simple, even though we both know that it’s not. I want you to ask yourself one question. Just one. However long or short your life may be, whatever obstacles you’ll face, do you think you’d be happier with him in your life?” Buffy looked over at her blinking away her tears. “Do you believe he could be happier with you in his?”

When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that
Everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me





* * * * * * *

When Wesley walked into the Fred’s office in the science lab Fred was talking on the phone. “Trust me, I understand,” Fred said into the phone. She reached back and brushed some of her hair back behind her ear as he watched.

“Just get back to me sometime after this is all done and tell me how it went . . . No, nothing like that. Just good old honest curiosity. He’ll vouch for me . . .” Fred listened for a few moments before the smile on her face brightened. “I hope so too.” She paused a moment and then shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. Always happy to help a friend. Just get back to me with that and we’ll be square . . .

“Well I certainly don’t want to hold you from more important things,” Fred said, grinning. “We can girl-talk later. Bye then.”

Fred settled the phone back into the cradle.

“You’re working late,” said Wesley.

She looked up and smiled at him. “A science nerd’s work is never done.” she said. He followed her as she walked back out of her office into the lab. Looking up at him, she finally remarked, “I haven’t seen you out of your office much lately.” She relented as Wes just stood there looking at her, “I know, I know . . . pot, kettle. I’ve just been spending a lot of time in the lab lately. I’ve just had so many ideas and not enough time. I feel like I’m back in that cave and I’m running out of wall. What about you?” Fred asked as she made some small adjustments to a device, plugging a few color coded cables from a laptop into sockets on the back of it. “Have you been doing anything interesting lately?”

“Nothing worth bragging about.”

“Nothing interesting,” she asked looking up from the laptop. “Nothing challenging for a man of your . . . whatever.” She smirked at him playfully. “Pity. Sometimes the challenges are what make life interesting. Come to think of it I haven’t seen much other the others either. I think we’ve all . . . I don’t know. Forget the vampires and the Senior Partners. I think the real evil here is after so many years of working anarchy and daily fun with our friends is finally having to settle into a nine to five job. What do you know Wes, we finally grew up.”

She reached out and pressed the enter button on the laptop. For a brief moment one end of the attached device glowed, shining across the small enclosure on the glass slide set up as a target. With it came the faint odor of burnt meat. The device sizzled, raising a thin streamer of smoke. “Damn!”

Wes looked at the device. “What’s this?”

“Just a little something I’ve been working on. Call it an ultraviolet grenade.”

“I see,” Wes said with barely a raised eyebrow. But his interest was obviously piqued. “That would certainly be useful if you could pull it off. Any luck.”

“If you count bad luck as luck I’ve had lots. Sunlight is hard to replicate. I can duplicate the disparate parts. Greenhouses have had sun lamps for years. But that doesn’t work on vampires.

She spoke the facts matter of fact, like a school teacher, “The sun kills vampires. If you go with that logic then stakes kill vamps because stakes are made from plants which store up sunlight. By that logic a stake made of material grown in a indoor sunroom would be ineffectual. There seems to be something about sunlight itself. Something like . . . magic. So I called your department and talked to Ollie. Of course he had to be all difficult and simply told me not to even bother.”

“And far be it from me to support one of my subordinates,” Wes responded thoughtfully, “but I’d have to agree. The Council experimented on a sunshine spell for years and could never quite pull it off. Some of the more astute even made the connection between stakes and sunlight. But it was the other connections that eluded them. The typical vampiric aversion to religious iconogy. Crosses. Menorah. The Star of David. Even holy water and consecrated earth. And not simply aversion, but violent burning upon touching them. They tried to find some common link, but the iconogy worked even if the crosses were constructed of iron or brass. And holy water was a simple article of faith, but it worked regardless of the beliefs of those using them. Ancient cultures had worshiped the sun, so it could be interpreted as an icon in a broad sense, but others worshiped the moon and moonlight has no effect. The Council’s conclusion in the end was the simple philosophic one, that the answers they were looking for were beyond their ken. One of their smarter moves actually. So I take it you’ve had no more luck than the Council.”

“Oh, I can get it to work,” Fred corrected him. “It’s getting it to work effectively that’s the issue. I built a flash grenade that can cause serious burns to vamps, but it won’t kill them. It burns out first. Even if I make it bigger with better cooling and adjust the power output it still burns out. I tried making a gun, with a nice regulated burst of power, but anything close to a lethal dose burns it out.”

“But it will still be quite useful,” said Wes. “I’m amazed you got that far. I don’t suppose I should be surprised. Imagine tossing down one of your grenades in a nest where the vampires are holding captives the moment you’re going in. I imagine that would be very effective. Bravo.”

“Thanks.” Fred blushed and lowered her head. “But even working within the limits of the technology I’ve found ways to make it useful.” She walked over and opened a cabinet that was against the wall. It was filled with weapons, each one arranged neatly inside. She picked up one of a set of five identical pistols. The pistol was black and gray and fit quite comfortably in her small hand. “Here’s one of the guns I built.”

She handed it to him carefully. Wes took a few moments to study the pistol in his hands. Testing the weight, the balance.

“That’s pretty small.”

Fred shrugged. “About the size of any standard semi-automatic pistol. Anything bigger would make it unwieldy in combat. And like I said size isn’t the problem with this tech. Big or small it still burns out, so why not make it small. Pull the trigger.”

Wesley raised the gun to shoulder height, aiming down his arm toward the far wall. He tensed and pulled the trigger. A small area of the wall across the room flashed bright with light. Something popped out of the side of the pistol. It hit the floor and bounced once.

“What was that?”

Fred smiled. “That was me working within the tech. If it has to burn out I simply made it burn out inside a disposable circuit. Something that can be easily replaced. No use making a gun that will overload and be useless after one shot. Pull the trigger again.”

The gun flashed again, ejecting another burnt out circuit.

“I’ve also been experimenting with other alternatives. Oak and holy water bullets. Silver sulphate. Garlic extract. I also tried ultraviolet but I don’t think it’ll work at all. I’ve tried strengthening them with glass, plastic and ceramic. Spike was right, watching bad movies does give you ideas.”

Wes gave her a look.

“Hey, I thought Underworld was cool,” she responded self-defensively. “None of these have been combat tested of course. I gave one of them to Spike to try out for me earlier, but I see no reason it shouldn’t work”

“Amazing,” Wes said admiringly. “Have I told you how brilliant you are lately?”

Still smiling, Fred shook her head and looked up at him bright eyed. “Not lately, but then again you’ve been busy.”

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms





* * * * * * *

Spike shrugged off his duster as he came through the door into the dark apartment. He was carelessly methodic as he stripped himself of weapons. He laid the few stakes he was carrying on top of the small end table to one side of the door. Took a few moments to unsling the holster holding Fred’s ultraviolet pistol from alongside his hip and place it beside the stakes. The katana sword he was carrying he left leaning in the dark corner beside everything else.

He quietly walked across to the kitchen in the dark. He opened the refrigerator and removed a beer. A few moments later he settled back onto the couch, and took a first quiet drink.

A few minutes later the trill of a telephone shattered the silence.

Sighing, Spike stood up. He walked across the room and lifted the phone. “Hey.”

He was greeted only by silence. A long moments as the silence drew itself out.

A voice, soft, “Spike!”

Spike suddenly stopped. For a few long moments he was almost completely still. His response was emotionless. “Yeah.”

“I got this number from Fred. I, uh . . . I hope you don’t mind.”

“Uh . . . no,” Spike responded awkwardly. “Don’t mind at all.”

“It’s, um . . . It’s good to hear your voice.”

Spike closed his eyes and took and slow, quiet breath. “Yours too, Buffy,” he answered gently. A single tear came loose from the corner of his eye and traced its way down his cheek. “Yours too.”

I feel so alive
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life
















Author's note: Both the lyrics used and the chapter title are from a song called "Tonight and the Rest of My Life" by Nina Gordon. Needless to say it doesn't belong to me. Come to think of it the Buffyverse doesn't either. This sucks!

The End?

You have reached the end of "Corrupted by Degree" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 10 Sep 05.

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