I grab my keys and head outside. When I pass his door I hesitate. Damn Spike for making my life so complicated! I don't get it. Why does he get my motor running? When he's not even trying. And when I don't even like him. Okay, getting sidetracked here. The important question is: Why was he asking after Cassie? She must have told him something, something he doesn't want us to know. Maybe about that thing from beneath? But why share important visions with a guy whose body count equals other people's social security number and who is also a) undead, b) incompetent and c) off his rocker?
I can stand here, outside his room, and speculate about what's going on in Spike's head until the cows come home. Point is, I'm not the one who took psyche 101 from Professor Frankenwalsh. I'm not smart like Willow, I'm hands on guy. If your faucet needs fixing, then I'm your man. But all this psycho stuff?
I shake my head and leave. Maybe Willow can figure this out.
After work I'm at Buffy's, where we all try to exorcise the failure of saving Cassie by watching a couple of movies. But we end up marinating in our own gloom and doom. Half way through the second film Buffy leaves for patrol, not much later Dawn goes upstairs, because 'remakes of 70s shows are so lame' and 'Bill Murray's part should have been played by Heath Ledger.'
A few minutes later, Willow pauses the movie. "I gotta say, Drew Barrymore's got nice boobs and all but honestly? I'm not in the mood for this. Is it okay if we watch the rest of this tomorrow night?"
"I agree with you on the boobs. But, yeah, I think I've seen enough, I mean, sure, tomorrow night is fine."
She smiles and turns the TV off. Then she turns towards me. "So, Xander, what's up? You've got your 'Something's freaking me out'-face on or. or maybe it's your 'I need a friend to talk to' face, I'm not sure, but there's something you're not telling us. Is Spike giving you trouble? You wanna bitch about your roomie, go ahead. I'm all best friend-y."
"No. Yes. no, Spike isn't really giving me trouble. Yet. No stealing, no bloodstained mugs, no overflowing ashtrays, no insults. He hardly even talks to me. You know, he's so much under the radar I hardly know he's there, except for-" I stop myself.
"Except for what?"
"He's got nightmares, Wills."
Willow lifts her eyebrows. "And why shouldn't he, Xander? He's got a soul now, that's gotta do stuff to him."
"Yeah, well what exactly does a soul do? Other than make him talk to people that aren't there and sound like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now?"
"If YOU don't know that, who does? I mean, you guys live under the same roof. I know you're not friends or anything, but if anyone has a chance to find out what's going on inside of Spike, it's you."
That is NOT what I wanted to hear. "Well, I better get going." I grab my jacket and get to my feet.
"His nightmares, do they bother you?" Willow asks me, a the door.
"No. yes. I don't know. I mean, we're talking Spike here. He had it coming."
There's a strange look on Willow's face, that slowly turns into resolve. "Stay here, don't go away. I just wanna go and get something." She disappears upstairs. A moment later, she comes down the stairs again, a crystal flask in her hand.
"A simple sleeping drought. Herbs and stuff. It should work on vampires too, keep the nightmares away."
"Oh, and you happen to have that ready?"
"He's not the only one with bad dreams," she says quietly.
I feel like someone kicked me in the gut. Deflated. "I'm sorry, Willow," I stammer, feeling like a complete idiot. "I didn't mean to--."
"It's alright, Xander," she answers and pulls me into a tight embrace. We stand there for minute or two, just hugging each other. It feels good to have someone to hold on to.
"Here," she finally presses the bottle into my hand and kisses my cheek. "Night, Xander."
When I get home the ex-evil roomie is out. I crawl into bed with some vague ideas about Drew Barrymore's boobies but pass out before I get any further.
When I wake up the apartment is quiet. I listen. No mumbling or humming, no singing, no squeaking mattress. Home alone! After about two weeks of cohabitation with Spike I feel like I'm a visitor in my own home. I can't even go and jack off for a while. In the evenings I tend to be too groggy, and in the mornings Spike's sleeping on the other side of that wall and I so don't need an audience. But today I can take care of my morning hard-on in peace. And if I think about Spike going down on me, it's only to get him out of my system.
When I head out of the bedroom and for the shower I almost squeal. Spike's sitting on one of the bar stools, hunched over the counter. I didn't hear the door, so he must have been there the whole time. Meaning it's possible he heard the whole thing, what with superior vampire hearing.
"Spike, what are you doing here?" I snap louder than necessary.
He looks up and arches his eyebrow. "Live here," is his reply. And for a moment there's a faint glimmer of the old Spike but then he frowns. He folds the paper he's been reading - MY paper! -, slides off the stool and points at the title page. "That really the date?"
"October 22nd, yeah, unless there's been some kind of time warp. So what's up with your sudden interest in current affairs? Is that soul of yours trying to whip you into an upstanding citizen?"
"When did she die?"
But he doesn't answer. Instead he gets that faraway stare. Swell, looks like his invisible friends just turned up. I jerk around, just in case, to check he's not staring at some kind of monster that's sneaking up on me. Of course, there's nothing there.
"Yeah? Wasn't listening ," Spike says. He gives me kind of an awkward sideways glance before he addresses thin air again. "Besides, it's none of my business. It's HIS place."
'His place'? As in 'my place'? Hang on a second. What's he--
"So what? Thoughts are free," Spike says quietly. Another quick glance in my direction - and this time he looks downright embarrassed.
Hey! It's one thing for him to talk with his invisible buddies, but when they start talking about ME I get cranky. I step between him and who- or whatever. That gets his attention. "Okay, if you do all this crazy talk in my living room you could at least tell me who you think you're talking to."
"Come on, Spike. I'm listening."
"Doesn't matter, does it? Spike's three sandwiches short of a picnic - that's all it is," he finally mutters, refusing to look me in the eye. "All in my head, I know that. I mean, usually I know. And I'm fine most of the time, aren't I? Try to stay out of your hair when I'm not."
Not for the first time I feel something twist in my stomach. Painfully. This time I don't stomp on the feeling of pity. I mean, what's worse than being crazy? Knowing that you are. Man, all this is getting to me!
"Who is it?" I insist.
"Me," comes the soft reply.
"There are others. But right now I'm seeing. me," Spike continues haltingly. He appears distracted, like he's still listening to inaudible voices. "And I'm the way I was, before I. changed. Bad. Dangerous. Telling me. things."
This can't be good! If Spike's tapping into his old evil self someone might get hurt.
"There's nothing there, Spike. Snap out of it. Concentrate." There must be a way to shut up those voices, right? Maybe if I bring his mind back on track. I grab his arm. "Spike, what was it you wanted to know? Who died?"
"Purple hair." he reaches up to touch his head but freezes halfway. He tilts his head and a smile appears on his face. He begins to hum a tune.
"Purple hair? Are you talking about Cassie?" I ask urgently.
Something about him changes. He seems taller. More focused. Less ga-ga. Which is good, right? Right?
"Never mind," he says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Not important. Forget what I said."
What's going on? I know it's stupid but I have to ask: "Are you okay?"
"Never better." He meets my eyes evenly, even smirks a little.
Okay, plain crazy has just turned into darn suspicious. It's not in the words but in the delivery. He's too smooth. I've seen enough of him these past few weeks to know that he's anything but calm inside. Even I can see his pain and misery - whether I want to or not. Spike can't even look me in the eye for more than a second or two. I don't know why, but his sudden serenity gives me the creeps.
Something's wrong here!
Spike picks up his jacket and looks at my hand that's still gripping his arm. He's smiling, but underneath that smile there's a vibe of carefully restrained violence. I hurriedly let go and he heads for the door.
"Um, Spike?" I call after him. "It's daylight outside, you DO remember you're a vampire and extra flammable?"
"Don't worry. Not planning on going up in flames."
And with that he saunters away.
"There's something wrong with Spike," I say when Buffy and Dawn climb into the Chrysler.
"What do you mean, 'wrong?'" Buffy asks with a frown.
"He's acting all funny."
"Funny? How? I thought you said he's getting better, settling down."
"He is. Was. I don't know. I just think there must be something we can do. All this talking with invisible people. I mean, maybe it's not the basement that made him crazy."
"Maybe it's the soul," Dawn pipes in. "Angel was pretty crazy when he got re-souled after his rampage." Let me just say, I'm glad it wasn't me who brought up the A-word.
"Angel is different." Buffy says, as usual coming to deadboy's defense. "He spent countless years in a hell-dimension before the powers brought him back."
"Yeah, but what was it like, when he got cursed the first time? Did he hear voices, too?" I ask.
"I don't know," Buffy admits. "We didn't really talk much about what happened before he came to Sunnydale."
Continued in Part Nine