Prague had been awful, another huge mistake. Dru was badly hurt by the Inquisitor, Spike barely escaped from Police Commissioner Żbik, and there was a better than odds chance Drusilla had been fooling around with Daninsky the whole time they were in Poland. If he hadn’t wrangled a favor from Pan Twardowski out of the trip, Spike would consider it a colossal failure.
Right now his only concern was for Dru. The pain she was suffering would continue until Spike found a way to undo the damage. America always offered a lot of opportunities. The demons tend to be a lot more progressive in terms of finding interesting solutions, and the humans tend to be far less likely to prepare themselves against true evil.
Two weeks later they were in Boston, and despite the bountiful food available on the SS Tipton, poor Drusilla was no better. Spike didn’t like problems that couldn’t be solved with copious quantities of blood, but he hadn’t expected so easy a solution, which is why he had an old acquaintance waiting for him at the docks.
“William!” James Bishop greeted the pair as medical teams raced aboard to treat the few surviving passengers. “Always a pleasure. Pity the circumstances aren’t better. Officially, I’m here investigating the strange deaths, but why don’t you meet me at my parlor in an hour? And try not to attract too much attention on your way there; I’m trying to keep Boston under the radar... or sonar.”
“Your parlor? So Carlo’s out? Congratulations, daywalker. But there’s no time for social calls, I need—Dru needs help now.”
“That’s one of the advantages of running the Parlor, it makes it easy to provide transportation for those of us with.. sensitivities.”
Within half an hour Spike and Drusilla were safely avoiding the encroaching dawn in plush coffins loaded into a Lincoln Towncar hearse. He could hear and feel the ride well enough, and when the boxes were unloaded, he trusted Bishop had arranged a location for them far from the scorching light of day. He pushed the lid open a crack, and was relieved to see the cold dead light of fluorescent bulbs pouring in. The room appeared to be a medical examination room, an annex to a morgue. Spike wasn’t sure if this was his final destination, or just the most convenient place to unload coffins.
Spike picked up a blank toe tag. “Arkham, Massachusetts. Now why do I feel I should know this place?”
Just as he lifted the lid of Drusilla’s coffin, the clacking sound of heals on cement stairs echoed into the room. “Ah, bollix!” he exclaimed and quickly shut the coffin, Dru still fitfully thrashing inside but making no effort to extract herself. With no time to find a hiding place, Spike laid down on the nearest autopsy table and pretended to be the corpse that he was, his eyes closed till he knows what he’s dealing
“Oh, I’ve got a live one here!” a chipper voice called out with a giggle as a door was thrust open. “Keep it moving, Doc, because we mustn’t keep our public is waiting! Or is that our privates? Oh doctor, do behave yourself!”
A muffled cry is the laughing man’s answer, followed by the ‘thud’ of a body hitting the floor. “Why didn’t you tell me this room was occupied?” The voice makes its way over to Spike. “Hey, pal, how about showing a little respect for the living? Now why don’t you make like a bat, and die a horrible, painful death?”
Spike opens his eyes and sits up slowly. With luck he’d be mistaken for a zombie and no one would make a grab for the cross hanging over the door.
“Didn’t know they had a med school at Clown College,” Spike retorts as he takes in the twisted, painted face of the man standing over him with a bit of a shock. The man smelled human, but looked more warped, more “gone,” than any demon Spike had ever met. And with skin that white, hair that green, maybe the word human didn’t truly apply to the poor creature anymore.
“Clown? You callin’ me clown? Hey, Billy Idol called, and he wants his hair back! But he said you should keep the duster, makes you look dangerous. Like a wizard or something. That’s not right, maybe it was... say, you remind me of a joke I once killed. Good times. Or were they? One thing I never could stomach about living in Nazi Germany…all the damn vampires! But they do have excellent taste in skulls!”
Completely thrown by all the inane gibberish, Spike hadn’t even reacted before the razor had found its way to his neck. Shoving the gloved hand away forcefully, he grabs the blade for himself and holds it to his adversary’s face. “What are you on about? Did we meet in Germany?”
“Did we? What an absurd question! I’m sure I would remember something like that. Unless it was all in your head.”
“You mean your head.”
“Oh right. Sorry, I keep getting us mixed up.”
Once again, the garishly grinning ghoul had already out-maneuvered Spike. This time he’d twirled around to land himself a seat on Drusilla’s coffin. It rumbled a bit, and Drusilla’s voice erupted forth. “Spike, where have all the mome raths outgrabed to? I can’t find a one in here!”
The Joker put hand to chin and smiled, “Oh, I like this one. I’m trading everything for what’s in the box!”
Spike moved to stop him. “Don’t you go disturbing Dru!”
But the Joker was far faster than any human Spike had met before, and already had the coffin open, while helping Drusilla to her feet. “I don’t see how that’d be possible, since this delicate little flower is as disturbed as they come already!” The Clown Prince of Crime gave a half-bow and kissed Drusilla’s laced glove. “Au chante, mademoiselle.”
Not wishing to upset Dru, Spike opted to seek information from the “clown’s” captive colleague. The doctor, a boxom twenty-something blonde dressed more like a nurse than a doctor, was bound and gagged with duct tape, her eyes imploring Spike to aid her. She had to have seen him rise off the table, and she must be desperate indeed to seek help from the Undead.
Spike ripped the tape from her mouth and pulled her upright. “Who’s the dandy?”
“That’s... that’s Mr. Jay,” the girl broke into sobs before she could finish. “But he’s out of control; he needs his medicine or there’s no telling what might happen.”
“Right, then.” Spike removed the tape from her hands and feet. “Attend to laughing boy. I have to find out who’s in charge of this asylum before any more of—AAAH!”
Doctor Harlene Quinzel raised the barrel of her squirt gun to her lips and blew on it for effect. “Like that? Looks like this medicine is just what the doctor ordered!”
“Good one, Harl! Now, aren’t you glad we stopped to kill that priest earlier?”
“You think of everything, Puddin’! So what are we gonna do with the not-so-stiffs?”
“Why don’t you put him in a room with a view of the sunrise, while Druberry helps me load these coffins back into the car?”
“Druberry? Mmmmm, Miss Edith likes that. Why don’t you ever call me Druberry, Spike?”
Spike, his game face showing through the smoldering holy water burn across his right cheek, grabbed the doctor and lifted her off the floor by the neck. “Just kill the bloody clown so we can get out of here, love. If the doctors are this crazy, we’ll be better off looking elsewhere.”
Dr Quinzel, seemingly oblivious to her own predicament, started bawling. “You told me I was your medicine! You said I was just like a pill!”
“Bloody— Shut—the Hell—Up!” Spike slammed the doctor into the wall repeatedly, cracking the tile in the process, but even so she never took her eyes off the clown. “You two are balmy! You deserve each other!” He threw the doe-eyed doctor across the room at her pathological patient.
“It’s nothing personal, Harl,” the Joker offers as consolation, still working on hauling the coffin into the bed of the hearse. “Keeping you alive is a burden I don’t need, just another mouth to feed. Dru won’t be hindered by little things like breathing or—“
Spike licked the blood from his knuckles, having just punched the Joker square in the jaw. Not surprisingly, even his blood tasted diseased, and Spike spat it out. “Enough! Are you too far gone to realize what I can do to you?”
“Heh. He-heh. Ha! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!” The Joker pulled himself off the floor, not even bothering to wipe the blood from his mouth. “I.. don’t…care! What can you do to me? What can you do to me? Kill me? Good luck, because better men than you already have! Turn me? Into one of those...you-things? I don’t need your necromancy, I’m already god! And I eat demon wannabe scum like you for breakfast!”
With a smooth, almost invisible gesture, the Joker pulled out a pistol of indeterminate design, the barrel easily three feet long. “Druberry?” BANG! “I think we should see other people.”
Spike caught Drusilla before she hit the floor, before the hole in her forehead had time to bleed. But there was blood anyway. The exit wound was massive, and Spike was sure she would have brain damage, assuming she survived this at all.
“Come on, Harl!” cried the Joker from the rear of the car. “First leg of the trip is yours! And no stopping for seafood in Haverhill this time! Even I have standards.”
The car drove out of the garage into the daylight, but Spike didn’t care. He was desperately holding what was left of Dru’s head together, cradling it in his left arm. He ripped the right sleeve off his jacket with his teeth and viciously bit into his own flesh. He was barely audible as he said, “Come on baby, stay with me.” His own demon blood flowed over Drusilla’s head, running into her hair, her eyes, her mouth, staining her Victorian-style dress.
Finally, her eyes fluttered open again, and she looked up at him with a weak smile. “Spike,” she moaned softly, “I don’t think I want to be called Druberry anymore.”
“No worries, love. No one will call you anything you don’t like again. We’re going find Nest. He’s been sitting on that Hellmouth of his long enough, hording its power. The Master will fix you, or I’ll stake him myself and take what I need to make you better.”