Clem didn't understand how a room could make you lose your noodle. He'd had a few friends over the years who had been a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but there was always a reason. Something had to have happened to Spike, but what?
Clem put down his free weights and tore into a bag of cheese puffs. Still miffed that his best demon friend in the whole world hadn't come to see him when he returned, Clem wondered if he even wanted to help.
"Naw, I gotta see what I can do," he admonished himself. He picked Spike's infamous coat off the bier where the Slayer had left it. She thought perhaps it might snap Spike back into reality. For some reason she didn't want to give it to him herself.
"Will this do the trick?" he wondered, shaking his head. He folded it and tucked it into his backpack.
Clem snuck into the new Sunnydale High through a door left open for basketball practice. The Slayer had given him directions to the basement access.
He wasn't exactly light on his feet, and Clem grimaced at the noise he was making while descending the stairs. Turning on his flashlight, he rounded a corner and saw the double doors ahead.
Clem took a deep breath and pushed them open, peering inside.
"Spike!" he whispered. "Spike, it's me, Clem!"
There was no answer. He opened the door further and noticed that a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling was swinging like a pendulum. Before he could consider what that meant, he was grabbed by the scruff of his neck and dragged inside, the doors slamming behind him.
A deep, gruff voice resonated in his ear, "Do you have a ticket?"
Clem shook himself free and spun around. Despite Buffy's warnings, he was not prepared for what he saw. Spike's hair was long and disheveled and he had allowed his roots to grow out. Always impeccably groomed before, he now smelled like death. His trademark black attire was caked with filth.
"Whoa, Spike, take it easy," Clem said in his most soothing voice, holding up his hands. "No, I don't have a ticket, but it's me, Clem...your buddy!" He flashed his best smile and nodded enthusiastically.
Spike frowned and scrutinized Clem's face, walking a circle around the demon. He suddenly turned and walked toward the back of the storage room. Puzzled, Clem followed.
"W...w...why are you here? It's not nearly time."
"Hey buddy, I came to see you! I missed you! Buffy told me you were here. To be honest, I was kinda hurt that you didn't come to visit me when you got back into town..."
Hysterical laughter filled the room and Clem's eyes grew wide with horror. This was really bad.
"I hurt the girl, you know. I'm a bad, bad man. Don't deserve..." Spike slumped down to the floor between two filing cabinets, drawing his knees to his chin. Clem sat down in front of him and removed the heavy backpack from his shoulders.
"Spike. Look at me."
Spike hugged his knees, his gaze still on the floor.
"Buddy? What happened to you? "
Suddenly, Spike whipped his head around to look behind him and shouted, "What are YOU laughing at?"
The tortured vampire swung back to look at his friend, his eyes full of tears and whimpered, "Shhhhh, he's here too."
Clem could play along. He whispered, "Who's here?"
Spike frowned and looked into Clem's eyes. "Me," he hissed.
Clem frowned and took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be easy. Buffy hadn't been kidding. His demon heart was about to break. They sat there together for several minutes. Neither one spoke.
"Hey, I brought fresh blood for you."
Clem dug through the backpack and pulled out a pint. Spike grimaced and turned away. Clem couldn't figure out what was wrong, so he laid the bag next to him.
"I have some clean clothes, too. Buffy bought them today for you." Clem put a long fingernail to his chin in contemplation. "Let's see, she wanted me to tell you that's why she didn't come to see you at lunch. Oh! And she said to thank you for helping her save Cassie." Clem smiled with pride that he had remembered it all.
"Couldn't let the girl get hurt. Died anyway. I know. Saw it. Was watching." Spike hung his head.
"Spike, that had nothing to do with you, Buddy! She was real sick!"
Spike looked at his friend. "I'm sick...Clem?"
Clem grinned. Spike knew who he was, after all. Then, something in Spike's eyes flickered and caught his attention. He leaned forward and Spike immediately shied away, hiding his face with his hands. Clem didn't dare believe it.
"By golly, you went and did it! You got your soul back!"
Spike hung his head.
"Spike! Is that what's wrong with you?" Clem wondered why Buffy didn't tell him. This was big. This was huge! "How did you do it?"
"Saw a demon...now they are all IN here...talking to me..." Spike dug at his temple with his fingers.
"Hey, I got something here that will make you feel better, then! A little piece of the old you!"
Clem produced the black leather coat from his bag and ceremoniously presented it to its rightful owner, laying it on the floor in front of him. Spike looked at it in disgust and kicked it away with his foot.
"I don't want this. SHE'S in here, too, don't you know?" Spike held his head in his hands and started to rock.
Clem leaned forward. "Spike, who is 'she'?"
Spike didn't answer, but covered his ears. After several more minutes of watching his insane friend, Clem sighed and stood up. He didn't think there was anything more he could do tonight, but he would be back.
"Spike, I gotta go. 'Friends' is on tonight. I'm real sorry about what's happened to you. If there is anything I can ever do, you can find me in your old crypt. Um, you won't be wanting that back, will you?"
There was still no answer. Clem dejectedly walked back to the double doors.
A hoarse whisper sounded, "Thank you."