Render the Extra Mile
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. They do not belong to me.
Author's note: Please respond with reviews on this chapter. Any comment would be appreciated!
Spike took a quick intake of breath as his bare feet stumbled over a sharp edge of a stone that had slightly jutted up from the rough and uneven floor, causing stinging scrapes along the top of his toes. Upon being dismissed from the lecture hall, the two men had left the smooth and highly polished floors of the institution's educational hospital wing and entered into the older sections that held the decidedly less luxurious cells of the inmates. The attendant was impatient at their progress and roughly pushed his charge in front of him. Spike barely caught himself as the last push had been so particularly vicious that he had to bend at the waist in order to maintain his balance. His deadened arms were still entrapped inside the drenched freezing canvas of the straitjacket. Underneath it, Spike was wearing the soaked thin cotton standard issue hospital gown that clung steadfastly around his torso and upper legs. The freezing water dripped down from the bottom hem of the jacket onto his bare calves causing the nerves to send jangling missives to his overworked brain as he stumbled forward.
The orderly repeatedly forcefully shoved a shivering disorientated Spike forward as they navigated the maze of hallways, each successive hallway becoming increasingly oppressive. The squalid hallways were illuminated with ochre colored light emanating from the sparsely spaced faltering gas lights. The uneven light created ominously shadowed hollows from which a fellow patient would stumble distractedly or hid a mumbling huddled figure.
Ten minutes earlier, Spike had been on display in front of a sizeable contingent of doctors in a lecture hall. He stood there shaking with cold, propped up by the two men who gripped him on each side, as the man or monster he had known as Doc calmly outlined Spike's patient history to his audience of peers. Reading from his notes, Doc went on to impartially detail Spike's current diagnosis.
"Mr. William Pratt is an excellent example of a subject suffering from extreme moral disruption characterized by melancholia and episodes of monomania. According to his family doctor, Mr. Pratt has always been of a sensitive nature, extremely close to his mother and even dabbled unsuccessfully in poetry. Unfortunately, he was a victim of overwhelming physical, mental and emotional strain so great that his mind had subsequently buckled. Beginning on an evening, where he had been subjected to rejection and humiliation at a party, he had gone on to suffer a physical attack in a back alley stable by ruffians. He was discovered several hours later, unconscious with massive trauma to his neck. The prognosis for his recovery was not good and he was removed back to the home of his mother. He surprisingly survived his injury but fell into a stupor during his recuperation. Upon waking from his hebetude, he discovered that his frail mother had expired during the interim. Blaming himself for what he termed his mother's unnecessarily early demise, Mr. Pratt withdrew from the outside world." Doc paused to look at Spike over his glasses as he turned a page in the report held in front of him, before continuing on. "It was then that he began to exhibit a fixation on the idea that he was a vampire. He began to retreat from the daylight, staying in rooms with the curtains tightly drawn and only appearing outside after the sun had set. He underwent a physical change as he would barely eat normal food. He unnerved his cook by preferring to drink the reddish aujus rather than the healthy supper laid in front of him. His behavior became increasingly bizarre and his emotional control became erratic until finally, upon alerting distant relatives, he was in turn secured in this institution."
Doc put down the report and walked over to Spike, looking at him with a remote scientific attitude as he considered the shaking figure in front of him. He turned back to address his audience.
"For the past four years since he has been residing at the hospital, Mr. Pratt still continues to experience periods of delusion where he believes he is a vampire in a strange unreal landscape. Fortunately, the cold immersion method is successful to a degree in ridding these hallucinations in the short term. As you can see, it is hard on the physical constitution. I believe that more permanent measures will need to be taken, so Mr. Pratt can be returned to a successful member of society. I would like to introduce my hypothesis for his treatment in the next section of our discussion." Doc turned his head over his shoulder, and issued the following directive to the aides. "You can take him back, now."
The attendant brutally yanked Spike from his memory as they came to a stop in front of a massive battered door with a small window with rusty worn bars across it. The short tempered aide muttered a curse as he pulled a key ring and jammed a hammer like key into the stubborn iron lock on the door as Spike stood there, swaying on unreliable legs. The door screamed as the metal raked over the rough concrete as the orderly grunted as he hefted it open. The gruff attendant harshly grabbed Spike by the back of his neck and thrust him through the doorway. Before his hand had left the back of Spike's neck, the orderly stopped Spike short, causing Spike to weave as he came to a stop.
"Hold!" The man barked as he began to grapple with the fastenings on the wet straitjacket Spike was wearing.
Spike staggered under the ruthless onslaught as the straitjacket was loosened and stripped from his body. Once the attendant had the jacket handing loosely in his hand, he used the other one to push Spike back into his cell.
Spike was flung forward as his limbs still had not come completely back under his control, he floundered across the cell. His shoulder hit the far icy cold wall of his cell with a sharp jab of pain. He felt the sharp hollow ends of straw from the pile that was his bedding jab into his feet. His eyes flitted around the room as he took in the surroundings he knew so well. There was no light or heat within the cell as Spike felt the damp hospital gown stick to his body. Hardly daring to look at the attendant who was wrestling the door closed, he stared away from the action as he began to slide down the rough-hewn wall down to the pile of straw. There was no window on this cell other than the window on the door. As the door closed, most of the cell was thrown into darkness. The only light that came in was the light from the hallway through the door's window. Spike slowly huddled with his legs bent in front of him, in the familiar spot where the dim light from the door's lone window pooled.
As he heard the key twist in the obdurate lock, Spike darted his eyes over to see the aide place his greasy face in between the bars of the door's window and smiled maliciously as he crowed.
"Welcome home, Mr. Pratt!"
"I think I got something!"
Willow called out to the other Scoobies who were scattered around Buffy's living room. Willow was sitting at the breakfast table with her laptop in front of her as she frantically waved at the Scoobies to approach. Putting down their books, all the Scoobies and Giles rushed over to the table. Dawn was the first to get there and lay her elbows on the table as she leaned over to hear what the red headed witch had discovered. Giles quickly moved around to the far side of the table to peer over Willow's shoulder.
"What do you have?" Placing his hand on the back of Willow's chair, Giles asked as leaned over to peer at the computer screen.
"Well, you see we had that name...Mrs Lytton. I wasn't sure of the spelling. So, I tried a number of different spellings." Willow explained to the group. "Then I removed the obvious things like household appliances, mortgage companies and choir directors; nothing that would be overtly ominous."
"I wouldn't be so quick to disregard the mortgage companies. They can be very unpleasant!" Anya interjected. "I should know, you miss one little payment…"
"Anya, please. We're talking about Spike here." Xander gently chided his girlfriend as he patted her on the back as he nodded his head toward Willow.
"Oh, right. Okay, back to Spike and HIS problems." the ex-demon muttered as she rolled her eyes.
"Uh. Anyway, I looked up the spelling with a 'y' and this English baron came up." Willow expounded, looking around at the faces looking at her. "You know that Spike's British, so I thought that maybe there was something to it."
"Willow, what did you find?" Buffy asked, with a slightly thinning patience.
"It turns out this baron wrote a bunch of novels and was all political and stuff back under Queen Victoria." the red head stated and then leaned out from behind the computer to explain. "That was the queen of England when Spike was alive."
"Yes, Willow. We're very much aware of who Queen Victoria was." Giles said tiredly as he straightened and looked around at the perplexed faces surrounding him. Clearing his throat, he muttered. "Well, some of us are."
"I don't see where this is getting us any closer to Spike!" Dawn said impatiently,bouncing her folded hands on the table. "Tell us what you did find!"
"I remembered that Tara recalled that Spike said Mrs. Lytton. As I read up on this baron, it turns out that he did not have a happy family life." Willow bugged her eyes as she continued. "We're talking total 'War of the Roses' here. The wife hates him! He hates her! They were obviously in need of some good divorce attorneys."
"Willow! That's great; but could you just give us the highlights." Buffy interjected exasperatedly as she tilted her head toward the pair on the opposite side of the table.
"You see, both of them were accomplished writers; they both wrote and published books." Willow answered as she nodded her head at the Slayer.
"Again, not really following you!" the Slayer replied, sighing and wrinkling her face in confusion.
"I found this reference about a book: A Blighted Life by Rosina Lytton. Published in 1880." the witch proudly stated as she drug her finger across the screen
"Hey, that's what Spike said. He said Mrs. Lytton said it was blighted!" Tara popped up excited as she took a step closer to the table. She then timidly questioned. "Do you think that was what Spike was referring to?"
"I do believe he might have been." Giles pondered out loud. "Willow, does it state what the book was about?"
"Yeah. It turns out that the Baron had his wife unjustly committed to an asylum as insane when she became troublesome for his political career. She was telling all his dirty little secrets." Willow stared at the laptop screen as she communicated the information to the group. "She got out a few weeks later and wrote this book as an expose on the whole thing. It was quite radical."
"So, you're saying that this book was about being held in an asylum against your will?" the watcher commented as he considered the concept as he brought up his hand to wrap around his chin.
"Oh! I just realized…" Tara gasped as her eyes widened, bringing up her fingers to cover her mouth.
"What, Tara?" Xander asked as he turned toward the gentle witch.
"I get it now. Spike said 'out of sight, out of mind' was poetic. He was talking about where he had been." the softspoken witch said as her eyes bounced from face to face, finally landing on Dawn's worried face.
"Yes, if he was questioning his sanity, that maybe why he continued to ask if we were real." Giles added as he moved his hand to rub the back of his neck.
"You don't think…" Dawn asked haltingly as she turned her face back and forth from the watcher to the witch. "That's why he was so…"
Tara tried to respond with a compassionate smile, but was unable to; so she nodded mutely as she looked away.
"But, Spike's not crazy!" the teenager declared as she stood up. She began to rant as emotions threatened to overwhelm her. "That's why he was so sad. He just needs help! We gotta help him!"
"Dawn, calm down." Buffy said as she came over and wrapped her arm around her sister's shoulders. "We're going to get him back."
"If you love me, Buffy, you'll promise that we're going to get him back." Dawn pleaded as she turned her watery eyes toward the Slayer.
"I promise." Buffy affirmed with a nod. Then sighing, she looked around the room and asked. "Okay, I'm taking ideas. Anyone know how to break into a madhouse?"