Burning.  It burned him, the spark.  That piece inside, the piece he’d wanted to fit, to be fitted, to be whole again and it just burned.  Through his mind, through his heart and wasn’t his heart supposed to be empty?  Still a monster, still a demon but the burning. . .

It wasn’t his fault.  Not his, or its, or even his, it wasn’t she couldn’t make him believe that.  Not his fault.  He was good and he’d waited and he’d tried to make it better and how dare they cast him aside and leave him there and it burned, dammit, it burned him up inside.

A spark.  Mother used to talk of the spark when she got on her knees and prayed.  Would that help?  He’d do it, if it helped.  Get on his knees and worship at the alter of sunlight and power and pain and despair, until his mouth overflowed with liquid salt.  He would.  He’d done it before, though she yelled at him for it.  Beat him for it.

They always beat him.

Father did, when he was foolish and deserved it.  The schoolmasters did whenever they bloody well felt like it, because how else were they supposed to make him a man?  Not much of a man.  Not my fault!  He’d tried but they’d beaten him until all that was left was weak eyes and an overfull heart and then she’d come along and drained it all dry.

All gone, swirling down the drain.  Drain swirled backwards, if you went south far enough.  He’d seen that, in Brazil.  Dru had laughed at him, laughed and laughed.  Look at it, gone gone away.  Nothing left.

Flesh and bone and blood from a slaughtered pig was that what he was now?  But the burning, god the burning.  Hate and pain and rage and how could you and why couldn’t I live and you took me away and all of it could bloody well - shut!  Up!

Go away!  Go to hell, go far far away from the voices and the stares and he could feel them staring.  Him and them and it and it and it was too much, don’t you see?  Too much!  It wasn’t his fault.  He’d played his part, done his job, and never was it enough for them.  For her.  For hers.  Never enough for anyone, not even him cause he never fit.

And it fucking burned.

Wasn’t fair but when was life fair and when did he remember saying that?  He’d said that before, while softness and youth cried out in rage at being abandoned so young and he’s said that.  And now she hated him to and everyone hated him because there was nothing there but the burning and the hate and the -

Make!  It!  Stop!

Oh, stuff it, you miserable ponce.  Can hear your bloody rambling just fine.

Not my fault!

But it is, don’t you see?  You were too weak, too foolish, and then you were too much, too strong, too human, too loving and that was the problem that was always the problem.  To love or not to love, that was always the question and you always got the answer wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wrong.  Like chalk on slate and two plus two was five, not four, and the lights were so bright now.  Bright and sharp and clean and he was dirty, just like Mother used to say and he was he could feel it inside.  Feel the spark burning out of him, cleaning him until there was nothing left but the memory: Here Lies Spike, who loved too much.

Loved till he took it and he knew bloody well better than that, didn’t he?  Verse upon verse of waiting for the delicate bee to land on the flower, the bird to alight on the branch and he went and he took.

Took what was his, wasn’t it?  Wasn’t it his?  Hadn’t it been given before and wasn’t it his right to take it again?  But, no, wait, it wasn’t.  Was hers, always hers, even when she took from him and never gave.  Never soft, never gentle, bought and paid with blood and pain.

Services rendered.

Wasn’t fair.  Wasn’t his fault he didn’t choose this, not any of this!  He was a good man!  Crying like the poncy git he was, running home to Mummy to make it all better and Mummy did, didn’t she?  Took all the tears away until she was gone again and the tears came back and they never went away, buckets of salt above and below because Mummy taught her lessons well and there was never pain without the pleasure and that wasn’t his fault.  He’d learned, he’d done well and Master Thackery couldn’t punish him for that, he couldn’t.  Learned his lesson.  Learned it well.

The slate was all broke, now.  How was he to learn his lessons without notes to take, in pretty colors like he’d seen in a notebook once.  Color-coded and proper because he was good and proper.  ’Cept he wasn’t.  Not anymore.  A bad, rude thing beneath and disgusting and -

It burned.