“Come here,” she whispers, and at first he doesn’t look up, because it sounds like Glory, and he doesn’t want her particular not-so-pleasant finger-in-torso torture.
“Spike!” More insistent, bratty. Slayery. He looks up. There she stands, evil incarnate, the biggest bad of all, his love, his girl, his downfall.
Dru laughs in the corner, then comes over and slices his face open with her fingernails. He takes it, leans against the wall and feels the welts burn.
Then there is a soft hand touching his shoulder. He finds he is crouching in the corner, which smells of death and urine. He wonders vaguely if he has wet himself, and he grins, embarrassed.
“Look at me,” the voice says, softer now. Tricking him with tenderness, the way she always does. He looks anyway, wondering what new and creative pain she’s come up with.
“You’ve scratched yourself bad,” she says, pressing a wet washcloth to his cheek. It stings slightly. Good. He covers his hand with hers and presses the cloth harder against his cheek. It stings more.
“You look different,” he says. “More real.”
“I am real, dammit!” she insists.
“I am real, dammit! I am real, dammit!” Glory and Warren chant together, mocking her.
“Rape her for real this time,” Warren adds. “I’d love to see that. And you’d love to do that, wouldn’t you.” And then the memory of that day, replayed again.
“Shut UP!” Spike screams. This realer Buffy thinks he has yelled at her, but she only flinches slightly.
“We are going to get you out of here,” she says firmly.
“No no no no no,” Spike whispers. “This is my home now.” He recites it like a good boy. This is where he belongs. Haunted and alone and nothing they have devised yet to do to him will ever be enough, but it is a start. Dru starts to sing, and it comes out through him. Buffy frowns and interrupts him.
“You were right about the Talisman, Spike. Thank you. Dawn is safe now.”
Dru stops singing. She is very angry. Spike meets Buffy’s eyes, really meets them, and he frowns at her. “Bit?” he says slowly. “She was in danger?”
Buffy nods. Then nods vigorously. “Big, big danger. Huge. In fact, she’s still in big, huge, danger. Come help me. Please.”
Spike nods in rhythm to her. “I can help you. I will help you if you need me to. I want to help. I want to help.” He grabs her hand and clings to it like a child.
The Mayor laughs. “That is so precious. Look at you. You actually think you can leave.” The Master pushes Spike aside and then his hands are suddenly around Buffy’s neck.
“Not going anywhere,” he says, smiling while he chokes her.
“Spike! Stop!” she gasps, struggling. Her hands claw at the hands around her neck, hands as strong, if not stronger, than her own. Spike watches, as if from a distance, watches the Master choke her, choke her, and then he recognizes the hands around her neck as his own. Something snaps. He screams and fights and fights, and they will make him pay but he fights so, so hard. The hands come off her neck and he flings the Master into the corner.
“Don’t hurt her,” he pleads. But they are gone for now. For once. Buffy stares at him, wide-eyed, gasping for breath. An understanding flashes between their locked gaze.
“Now. We gotta go now, love.”
Buffy nods. He nods in return.
Ready Randy? Ready Joan.
What does that mean? he wonders. Did he just make that up, or did that happen, long ago? No matter. She has grabbed his arm and they are out of the room, the door slamming shut behind them. Spike knows he isn’t free. He knows the real pain is just beginning. But here he is, and here she is, helping him, and for now that is more than enough.
Continued in Part 2: Another Visit