Previous parts here:
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six / Part Seven
Angel of the Morning
“You gave me a big scare,” I told Spike. “All spaced out like that. You’d have been wide open if that demon had decided to finish you off instead of coming for us.”
“Yeah, well, the Slayer turned up in the nick of time, so it all worked out,” Spike said. “Bleeding incompetent of me getting stung. Had him pinned, never thought of anything shooting out of his hand. Know better next time.” He still looked a bit shaky, and he wasn’t helping Giles and Buffy with searching the basement for any nerd stuff that might be useful or have any clues in it. He was just sitting on a table, shaking his head every now and then, but otherwise not even fidgeting much.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You were talking kinda weird for a while. What happened?”
“Rather not talk about it, love,” he said, and stood up. “Anything I can do, Rupert?”
“Don’t you call Giles ‘Rupert’!” Buffy snapped.
“It’s my name, Buffy,” Giles reminded her, sounding a bit surprised.
“Well, it’s too familiar,” Buffy said.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Bleeding hell, Slayer, you Americans are weird. You’ve got it the wrong bloody way round. Far as I’m concerned, if I called him ‘Giles’ it’d mean I expected him to start polishing my shoes or something. Didn’t ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ ever get shown over here?”
Buffy didn’t reply, just sniffed, and went back to searching.
“Certainly you may lend a hand, Spike,” Giles said.
“Sure thing, Rupert,” Spike said, emphasizing the name, and opened a cupboard. A huge buzz-saw blade shot out straight at him and he jumped aside. “Sodding hell!” Spike exclaimed. The buzz-saw wasn’t powered and it crashed to the floor and fell over.
“Good grief!” Giles said. He rushed over and examined the saw blade, while I rushed to check Spike out. “A booby trap. Apparently still under construction, luckily for us.”
It hadn’t touched Spike, and so I turned my attention to the saw. There was a robot arm, and wheels, and cables, and I checked them out. “Pretty near finished, I’d say. Just these last few connections and it would have been good to go. I wonder.”
“What?” Spike asked.
“Well, it looks like they cleared out everything they needed, kinda like they expected us. Maybe they were just finishing off the booby trap when we turned up, and the demon was just to delay us so that they could finish setting up the trap.”
Giles gave the rest of the room a hard stare as if he was warning it not to try springing any more surprises on us. “You may well be correct, Willow.”
“Like I said, she’s not just a pretty …” Spike began, but his voice faltered and died away.
“There’s nothing left,” Buffy moaned. “They must have been all packed and ready to go.”
“Shush!” I said urgently.
“I assure you, Doctor – Rayner, is it? – I am not mad,” Spike was saying. “I confess I may be somewhat confused, but that is all. Surely these restraints are uncalled for?”
“Restraints?” Buffy said, staring at Spike. He was wrapping his arms around his chest in a strange way, like maybe he was really cold and hugging himself to keep warm, only without the shivering. Giles hastened to my side and peered at him, kinda like Spike was some kind of scientific specimen.
“Brain fever? If so, then surely I am cured. Tell me, pray, what place is this?”
“Fascinating,” Giles muttered under his breath. I felt like kicking him. Something really bad was happening to Spike and all Giles could think of was to study him? Except, I couldn’t think of anything constructive that I could do either. Maybe studying was the right thing to do; only, ‘fascinating’ was so not the word that I would use.
“Norwood, in Middlesex?” Spike went on. This was creepy and horrible and I was starting to get scared and teary. He didn’t even sound like himself, I mean, he was sorta – well, Giles-y, only more so. “I have never even visited Norwood. What? The Middlesex Lunatic Asylum? How dare you, sir! I am no lunatic.”
“He’s sure acting like one,” Buffy said under her breath, but I heard her anyway, and that’s when I lost it.
“Stop it!” I yelled at Buffy. “Just stop it! He’s possessed or something and we have to help him.” I grabbed hold of Spike, and he didn’t react at all. I hugged him to me, and he just stayed hugging himself, and suddenly I was crying. “Spike, come back,” I cried. “Spike!”
“Six years? That is ridiculous,” Spike was saying. “Surely you jest, Doctor Rayner. I admit that I was in a state of some distress when I left the party, and I may have wandered without taking note of my surroundings. I suppose I may have traveled as far as Norwood. Did you perhaps mean to say six hours? There was a stable, I recall. I may have fallen asleep.” I was trying to shake Spike out of it but he just kept talking to someone who wasn’t there.
“Willow, let him go,” Giles urged me. “I shall do my utmost to assist Spike, I promise, but you must try to stay calm. Your concern is natural, even commendable, but you are not helping him by losing control.”
“No, you must be mistaken,” Spike said. “Where is my mother? Did I not catch sight of her some minutes ago?”
It was reminding me of when Tara had gotten brain-sucked by Glory, and I was just getting more and more upset. I thought about trying a spell, only I didn’t know what was wrong with Spike, whether it was something to do with the sting, or possession, or some spell, and I knew I’d be bound to make things worse if I tried to cure the wrong thing. I felt helpless, and I hated it. “Spike, please, come back,” I begged.
“What the sodding hell?” Suddenly Spike was speaking in his own voice again. “Willow? Giles?” He glanced around. “Slayer? What happened? Willow? Don’t cry, love.”
“Spike, you’re back.” Okay, pretty obvious, but it was all I could think to say.
“Back? Did I disappear or something?”
“You were all talking like somebody else, and you couldn’t see us.”
“Oh, bollocks.” Spike sat down on the table again. “Not feeling too good here, and that’s the truth.”
Giles did the thing with the glasses that weren’t there again, only more so. He took the invisible glasses all the way off and took out a handkerchief. “What did you experience, Spike?” He even started cleaning imaginary lenses.
“What was I saying?” Spike asked. He was looking down at the table, avoiding looking at any of us, even me, like he didn’t really want to answer.
“You were talking like Little Lord Fauntleroy guest-starring in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” Buffy told Spike. Gee thanks, Buffy, way to go with the bluntness just when I was trying to put it gently. I gave her a dirty look.
“Oh, bugger,” Spike said. “You heard what I said?”
Buffy opened her mouth to reply, and it would probably have been something really sarcastic, but I got my words out first. “So, it was you talking? I mean, really you talking, not like you were possessed or something?”
“Yeah, it was me,” Spike said, all depresso guy, like he was confessing to a murder or something. Well, not so much like he was confessing to a murder, ‘cause, he wouldn’t see that as that much of a biggy. Maybe more like if I’d caught him with another girl.
I thought he’d say a bit more than that, and so I didn’t say anything for a moment, and then I started to speak just as Giles did, and we talked over each other and we both said “sorry” and stopped to let the other one talk, and that let Buffy in. “So, you were in a crazy house back when you were human? Sorta, Jack the Ripper?”
“Buffy!” I protested. “Stop it!”
“I bloody was not!” Spike snapped. “I was a perfectly respectable gentleman right up until I met Dru.”
“Aha!” Giles said, a hint of triumph in his voice. “I was beginning to suspect as much. Not only are the Council’s records in error by eighty years about the date of your turning, but it seems that your human life was by no means as colorful as you have led us to believe.”
“Right, yeah, everybody poke fun at the poor bloody vampire,” Spike said. “Bad enough that something’s wrong with my head, without you lot taking the piss out of me as well.”
“You were a ‘perfectly respectable gentleman’, huh? So, what was with the ‘I’ve always been bad?’, then?” Buffy teased. “You didn’t sound like much of a Big Bad there. That was pretty much like Giles, only more so. Prince Charles, even. Don’t tell me, you were the librarian to Queen Victoria or something.”
Spike glared at her with fury in his eyes. Only, I’d caught a change in Buffy’s voice, and there was a crinkle in the corner of her eyes, and I knew that she wasn’t trying to be nasty to Spike any longer; it was more like the way she used to tease Giles, or me. “Not the right time for that kinda teasing, Buff,” I said to her. “Spike’s pretty upset, and hey, he has good reason, ‘cause something messing with your head is bad.” I’d done much too much of that myself not all that long ago, and it had sucked when I’d done it, and it sucked just as much when it wasn’t me except for absence of the guilt factor. The guilt would be back in spades if I did something to help and it went wrong and made things worse, and that was about all that had made it possible for me to take no notice of the little part of me that had been screaming ‘fix him, fix him’ somewhere inside my brain while Spike had been all spaced out.
“Sorry, Spike.” The teasing note was gone, and Buffy’s face was straight, and she made what sounded to me like a serious and genuine apology. Probably a first, ‘cause as far as I knew she’d still never even said sorry for rearranging his face that time, but there it was. “I didn’t mean to be nasty.”
“It was rude, and quite uncalled for, and you are clearly no lady.” For a second I thought that Giles was speaking, but it was Spike! “However I recognize that you spoke without malice, and therefore I accept your apology without reservations, as befits a gentle – what the sodding hell am I saying?” Spike’s eyes were as wide as I’d ever seen them. He looked as if he’d gone white, only there wasn’t any real difference to his skin color, ‘cause vampire, but somehow it still seemed to have happened. He fumbled for his cigarettes.
“That is disturbing,” Giles said, and hey, the tone of his voice was pretty disturbing to me. “I suggest that we leave this place without further ado. There is something about that demon at the back of my mind. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I do recollect that I have seen warnings to beware of a creature with that waxy sheen to its skin, and I think that I should research the effects of its venom as a matter of urgency.”
“Well, I think I kinda like Bizarro Spike,” Buffy said, “but it can’t be much fun for him, so, okay, let’s go. I’ve finished searching and it was a total bust.”
Well, now she’d mentioned it I could agree in a way, that little bit of Spike talking all Upstairs Downstairs was sweet and, hey, even a bit of a turn-on for me, but him being spaced out on some weird trip into an asylum was very much not any kind of turn-on. I was all with Giles on the getting out of there and hitting the books or the Web and making with the curing.
Spike was all for getting out as fast as he could too, but the first thing he did when he got out was to light up a cigarette. And hey, couldn’t blame him.
- - - - -
“I assure you, Doctor Rayner, I am completely recovered from whatever mental aberration may have afflicted me,” Spike said.
“Uh-oh,” Buffy said. “He’s gone to Bizarro World again.”
“Oh dear,” Giles said. “I had hoped for a longer period of coherence.”
I didn’t say anything. I just had a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. Dawn broke into a chuckle for a moment, but I guess it was just ‘cause of the incongruity, and it cut off short and she went all big-eyed and worried looking.
“I do indeed recollect having strange dreams, but that I should have been pronounced insane is incomprehensible to me. Why, I am a poet, in a small way, and such fancies are but part and parcel of my imaginative repertoire. I have no recollection of discussing those dreams with others. My works have been misunderstood by those who lack the wit to appreciate their imagery, and in some instances they met with responses that passed all boundaries of legitimate criticism and entered the realms of cruel mockery. Those experiences were profoundly depressing, and left me rather lacking enthusiasm for voluntarily presenting my offerings to face such ridicule again.”
Tara came to me and put her arm around my shoulders. I hugged her in return, and I really needed the hug, ‘cause this just wasn’t Spike, and it was like he was being taken away from me and his body staying behind.
“Make it stop!” Dawn said. “Please make it stop.”
“I will do my utmost,” Giles assured her. “Spike and I have come to a measure of understanding lately, and …”
“That I could have babbled incessantly about my whimsical fancies in the manner you describe is entirely uncharacteristic of me,” Spike interrupted him. “Perhaps one day I should have dared to set them down on paper, but I was not by any means ready to present them to the world. My prose skills do not compare even with my verse, such as it is, and I would have needed to devote myself to the task for a very long time before I could hope to meet with acclaim such as that bestowed upon the celebrated Monsieur Verne.”
“There’s a book at the Magic Box that I must consult,” Giles said. He must have lost the thread of what he was saying to Dawn. “If I can identify the species of demon responsible then we will be making definite progress.”
“Yeah, ‘cause if there was some funky poison on that spiky thing, and that’s what’s sending Spike off into Bizarro World, then there should be an antidote,” I said.
“Hey, Spike got spiked,” Buffy grinned. I didn’t appreciate her pun, and I gave her the pouty lip and heavy frown treatment. Dawn did the same, her expression was a mirror of how I guessed mine looked, and Buffy dropped the grin. “I’m sorry,” she said, and sounded pretty sincere. “Bad puns, not helping, I know. Come on, you know me, research not my thing, but if it turns out you need to catch the demon, or kill it to break the spell, or whatever, I’ll be right there for you. And for Spike.”
“Thanks, Buffy,” Dawn said, beating me to it. “He’s my friend and I want us to help him.”
“I am most grateful to you,” Spike said, and I thought for a minute that he was back to being himself only a bit Gilesy. “I feel much better now that you have released me from the confines of the strait-waistcoat. I can barely conceive of myself being in such a state of agitation that you found it necessary to restrain me in such matter.” He paused, as if listening to a reply that we couldn’t hear, and then spoke again. “Ah, a mere precaution. That does set my mind at rest somewhat. Ah, perhaps that choice of phrase was a little inappropriate for this place, I assure you that I am not attempting levity. The situation hardly lends itself to such things. I know little of, ah, lunatic asylums other that what I have heard from medical students among my social acquaintances, and have read in such works as Edgar Allan Poe’s story of ‘The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether’, but my recollections of such tales fills me with profound, ah, disquiet at the thought of having been incarcerated in such an institution. Was I in a cell with bars? Will it be necessary for me to spend the night in such confinement?”
There was a tremble in his voice. I choked up. I didn’t know whether the speaker was a ghost or something possessing Spike, or whether it was William from before he got sired, but either way I had to try to comfort him. I took hold of his hand and squeezed; but he made a gesture, presumably at Doctor Rayner, and pulled free of my grip without even noticing it. “Thank you, Doctor, you have relieved my mind greatly. I shall see my mother in the morning, you say? How unfortunate that I did not regain my senses but a few minutes earlier. Is she – well? She suffers from consumption, and I feared greatly for her health. That she has survived for these six years is more than I would have dared to hope.”
I couldn’t bear to listen to this any more. I wanted to be there for Spike if he came back to his senses again, but I still just had to take a break. Dawnie felt the same, and so we went and made coffee and heated up some food, and I tried not to listen to Spike’s voice. There was no change when we came back, and eating while Spike – or whoever – talked away to his invisible doctor was one whole lot of not fun.
At last Spike blinked, and shook his head several times, and said ‘bugger’. He was back to being himself. Only, really didn’t feel like making with the yays, ‘cause this trip had lasted one whole lot longer than the last, and that had lasted several times as long as the one before. So, it was getting worse, and I really wasn’t looking forward to finding out how long the next one was going to last.
- - - - -
The night was definitely not of the good. Spike was himself for maybe forty minutes and then the guy in the Victorian lunatic asylum was back running Spike’s body again. It seemed that it really was William the – not so – Bloody, ‘cause it came out that the guy’s name was William, and he was telling the doctor about what he could recollect about what happened before he went crazy and it fit in with what we knew about Spike’s early days. Not that he’d ever been big with the details, and the Watchers’ Council records were pretty hazy, but he’d told Buffy a few things and it kinda matched. Looked like Spike had put his own spin on it, ‘cause William had so not ‘always been bad’. A nice guy, I think, maybe a bit of a wuss, but I think I’d have liked him.
From what he said he’d walked out of a party where these guys had been making fun of his poetry, Victorian jocks they sounded like, and there’d been a girl he was sweet on and she’d given him the brush-off and he’d taken it hard. A pretty Cockney streetwalker, Drusilla I guess, had lured him into a stable and then she’d done something to him, and a big Irish lout had turned up, and that was all he remembered clearly. He talked a bit about his ‘fantasies’, like he was being calm and logical about them and trying to work out what real events lay behind them, and the doctor seemed to be discussing them and analyzing them too. Well, maybe not analyzing the way they did it these days, I guess it was a little before Sigmund Freud’s time, but there was this whole totally reasonable conversation going on and we could only hear one side of it ‘cause the other bit was just in Spike’s head.
Dawn got packed off to bed, and Crazy!Spike was wigging her out enough that she didn’t fight it, and then Buffy and Giles headed over to the Magic Box to get the book Giles wanted and maybe have a look for the demon. They missed out on a discussion of the practicalities of submarines, and I would have liked to miss out on it myself, but we didn’t dare leave Spike alone in case he wandered off somewhere. There might have been a good story behind the submarine thing, it sounded like it had been during the Second World War and Angel had been there and seems like he and Spike were working together somehow, only William was more interested in talking about whether the fantasy had been inspired by Jules Verne or by a prototype sub that some guy from Manchester had built to demonstrate to the Royal Navy but it had sunk on the way.
Most of the vampire stuff just got a passing mention. ‘A maelstrom of mindless bloodshed and slaughter, extremely distressing and for the most part frankly tedious’, was pretty much it. The ‘Irish lout’ and the Cockney girl were at the forefront of that stuff, and it was pretty clear that he was talking about Angel and Drusilla, plus some other girl who hardly got a mention and I guess was Darla. Victorian William got a little animated about some adventure in China, only it wasn’t because of the killing a Slayer thing. No, it was because he’d always wanted to travel to exotic lands, and China was about as exotic for a Victorian as you could get. Except maybe for Japan, and there was this whole bit where he was asking the doctor about an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan called ‘The Mikado’ that was all about Japan, and he’d missed it ‘cause of being in the asylum, and he seemed really disappointed about that.
From there William and the doctor went on to talk about cricket; and you might think that watching paint dry is boring, but until you’ve listened to one side of a conversation about a cricket match between England and Australia like a hundred and twenty years ago, well hey, you don’t know what boring is. In the gaps when the doctor would have been doing the talking I tried to tell Tara how much I appreciated her coming over, and how much her support meant to me, and she seemed to get the idea even though I had trouble finding the right words and we kept getting interrupted by William.
Giles came back alone. Buffy had gone looking for the demon, and Giles was pretty worried about that ‘cause if she got stuck by its poison stinger then we’d be in even worse shape, but at least she knew to watch out for it. So Giles sat with Spike-William and read his demonology book, and Tara and I got some rest, as much as we could with William chattering away and Giles saying “Fascinating!” every couple of minutes. Seeing as how William was talking about cricket, and then about soccer back in Victorian times, either Giles’ demon research was really interesting or else there was this whole new meaning of the word ‘fascinating’ that I hadn’t known existed.
Tara managed to get to sleep on the couch, slumped up against me, and it was kind of nice and comforting and familiar, but different than it had ever been before at the same time. It was like I loved Tara as much as I ever had, maybe more, but in a different way, ‘cause the sex part of it just didn’t seem to be there any more. If it was the same for Tara then things could be pretty darn good, but if they weren’t then it could get pretty darn awkward real fast. Hey, just another bridge to cross when we came to it, no point in worrying ahead of time. I lay awake for a while, feeling all mixy about things, and then I must have fallen asleep.
- - - - -
It was Buffy’s voice that woke me up. I sat up and looked around, and so did Tara, and there was Buffy with the demon across her shoulders. “I got him alive, Giles,” Buffy was saying. “How’s the research going?”
“Excellent work, Buffy,” Giles smiled. “You have done exactly the right thing. That is a Glark Guhl Kashma’nik demon. The venom in his stinger is a powerful hallucinogenic, but the sting also contains an antidote. Preparing the antidote will be a relatively simple matter now that we have the demon.”
“Yay Buffy, way to go,” I congratulated her.
“Yeah, go me,” she said. “Only, I’m completely shot. I have to go to bed right now, and I mean now.”
“I must admit I am rather badly in need of sleep myself,” Giles confessed. “I would really prefer not to do the extraction and preparation until I have rested for a while.”
I looked at my watch. Five a.m. “I’m good to go,” I said, maybe overstating things a bit, ‘cause ‘good’ was so not the way that I felt.
“Me too,” said Tara. “Pretty much, anyway.” She yawned, and that set me off doing the same.
“Coffee,” I said firmly. “We’ll be up to speed once we’ve had a caffeine fix.”
“I’m way past where coffee could help,” Buffy said. “This guy’s gonna wake up soon, and he’s quite a handful. I have some chains in the basement. I’ll get him fastened up there and then I’m just gonna crash out.”
“An excellent plan,” Giles said. “I’ll head back to my hotel room and snatch some sleep, if that’s all right with you, girls? I’ll come back at lunchtime and prepare the antidote.”
“Hey, I could do it,” I offered. “The instructions are in your book, right?”
“I could help,” Tara said, and I smiled at her gratefully.
“Yes, I think you should find it straightforward enough,” Giles said. “The instructions are all in the book. I’ll come over at lunchtime anyway and give you a hand, if you need one.”
“Cool, thanks, Giles. How’s Spike?”
“His normal personality surfaced briefly while you were asleep, but then he relapsed into being Victorian William again. He has gone to sleep, apparently looking forward to seeing his mother in the morning.” Giles rubbed his eyes. “I really need to take my contact lenses out and clean them, they are becoming rather uncomfortable.”
“If it was demon venom that caused Spike to go, well, crazy, won’t it just wear off anyway?” Tara asked.
“Alas, no,” Giles told us. “It will get worse, according to the accounts in the book, and eventually the delusion and reality will blur together until the victim is existing in both worlds and cannot tell which one is real. That can lead to behaviour that is potentially dangerous. Spike is particularly at risk, because he could walk casually into the sunlight. It is essential that we administer the cure without undue delay.”
“I’m on it,” I said. “Only, first I’m on for coffee and pancakes.”
- - - - -
“I am not insane, Mother,” Spike said. He stood looking directly at me, but it was pretty obvious that he was seeing something completely different. “Please, mother, let me finish. I am well aware that I have been ill for some time, and I understand that I have suffered from delusions, but Doctor Rayner is satisfied that I have regained control of myself. Apparently I suffered some injury, a blow on the head from a footpad or some such, and this caused a bout of brain fever. I am quite recovered, I assure you. Yet I do not wish to forget my delusions altogether, for I believe that amongst the ramblings there are certain things that could form the foundations of scientific romances after the manner of Monsieur Verne, or perhaps Gothic horror in the vein of Varney the Vampyre. I would write under an assumed name, of course, and so you need have no fear that the family would be associated with such penny dreadful material.”
“Guess he means us,” Buffy said. “Penny dreadful. Pretty much how I’m feeling this morning, but I’m still going to go in to work. I don’t want my résumé to go on too much about bad timekeeping and unreliability.”
“Your well-being is of course my paramount concern,” Spike went on. “Our finances must have suffered during my incarceration. There is money to be made in such populist trivia, and I am confident that I can achieve at least some measure of success in that field, whereas my poetry, such as it is, would never bring us any worthwhile return.”
Creepy, but it was better than when he’d first woken up. There’d been one of those talks with the doctor again, and then there’d been the reunion with his mother, and that had not only been creepy but had embarrassed the hell out of me. I’d felt sorta like I was intruding on a private family moment, even though it was just a hallucination and I was only hearing one side anyway.
“Well, I’d better get going,” Buffy said. “Come on, Dawn, don’t be late.”
“Okay, okay, don’t get your knickers in a twist,” Dawn grumbled, and that just had to be something she’d picked up from Spike. Buffy frowned at her, but didn’t say anything. Dawn snatched up her schoolbag and headed for the door. “Bye, Willow. Bye, Tara. Look after Spike.”
“We will,” Tara promised. “Bye, Dawn.”
“Bye, Dawnie,” I called. “See you later, Buffy.”
They left, and Tara and I went back to working on the antidote. We’d pretty much gotten it done by now. Spike talked away to his mother for a while, and I managed to pretty much tune him out, and then he was back to talking to the doctor again.
“Okay,” Tara said a little later. “That’s about it. Leave it to settle, skim the top off, and then get him to drink it.”
“That might be tricky,” I said. I looked at Spike, who was pacing up and down and gesturing. “The William in the hospital is bound to drink something eventually. Maybe we can slip it into his hand when he’s taking morning tea or whatever.”
Tara screwed up her mouth and looked at Spike. “We’d better lock the doors. We don’t want him taking a walk.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Hey, suppose he suddenly gets it into his head to open the curtains?” I suddenly got worried again, we hadn’t thought of that. “I wish Buffy hadn’t gone out. She can handle him, but I don’t know if we could stop him doing something stupid.”
“I have a spell that might help,” Tara said. She blushed a little and glanced away, and then looked back at me. I guess she thought I’d be a bit upset about the magic thing. Only, hey, I’d pretty much gotten used to doing without the magic by now, it wouldn’t bother me if Tara used a spell. I’d decided to think of it like I was an alcoholic, without the control to stop at just the one, and it was working out for me.
“Better get it ready in case we need it,” I suggested.
“Willow,” Spike said. “You’re Willow.”
“Well, duh,” I said. “Hey, Spike! You’ve been out of it for hours. Don’t worry; we have the antidote nearly ready.”
Tara was frowning and biting her lip. “This might be a good time to get him down into the basement,” she suggested. “No windows, all safe from the sun.”
“Good idea. Hey, Spike, come on down to the basement, okay? No chance of the curtains opening.”
“Willow and Tara, the two good witches,” Spike said. Okay, the creepiness was back, this wasn’t like Spike. Guess this was what Giles had mentioned, the two realities blurring together, but it shouldn’t last too much longer and at least he’d be able to drink the antidote. He went down to the basement without giving us any trouble, but he wasn’t acting right. “Ah, a demon,” he said, looking at the Gargle-whatsit that was chained to one of the roof supports. “Most unconvincing in daylight, resembling nothing so much as a waxwork animated by some mechanical means.”
“Okay, officially wigged now,” I said. “Snap out of it, Spike. This is the real reality now. You are not William in the nineteenth century. Two thousand and two here.”
“And I am a vampire, and my mother is dead and dust. I live in a crypt, alone and friendless, unable even to hunt after the manner of my loathsome kind,” Spike said.
“Not so much with the ‘friendless’, Spike,” I reminded him. “You have me, and Dawn, and Giles has been pretty much friendly the past few days.”
“And me,” Tara pointed out firmly. “I’m your friend, Spike.”
“And there’s Clem, and Joel and Jenna, and, hey, even Buffy’s coming round,” I said. “Not so much with the crypt, either, if the plan comes together. We’re gonna start hunting for an apartment, remember? Somewhere without too many sunlight issues, but where I can stay over, we can have friends round, the whole thing.”
“The phantoms of these latter days truly lack the menace of those that haunted my nightmares earlier,” Spike mused. He went up close to the demon and peered at it closely. It bared its teeth at him and rattled its chains. Spike felt in his breast pocket. “I appear to have lost my spectacles,” he said. “Now, would this beast look more convincing through the lenses, or would they permit me to see through the illusion?”
“Oh-oh,” I said. “I have a bad feeling about this. You got that spell ready, Tara?”
“Uh, n-no,” Tara said. “I need a silver spoon and a pinch of salt. There’s salt in the kitchen, and a spoon too.”
“Maybe you’d better get it,” I said, but it was too late. “Spike! Stop! Don’t do that! Spike!”
Spike unhooked the chains and the demon stepped away from the pillar. It growled at him but didn’t attack. Guess it had more of a grudge against the people who had hurt it getting at the venom, even though we’d tried not to cause any more pain than we had to, and it had a bone to pick with us. It raised the chains like a flail and headed straight for Tara.
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.