TITLE: The Lemon Tree
AUTHOR: Remy (remytakesthestage@hotmail.com)
SPOILERS: Anything up to "The Gift"
FEEDBACK: I hate feedback. (That was sarcasm. Hint, hint.)
SUMMARY: Crazy-vampire-angst in the aftermath of Buffy's de... er, leap.


Sometimes he just wants her to go away. Take a walk, never come back. And those eyes. With those eyes. Hot liquid burning him, eating him. And when she whispers 'Spike...' he can hear Her, settled in the back of the girl's voice...throat...like the horrible snap of a fan-belt in the distance. Louder and louder and thicker and thicker until he starts to believe that's it's more than just Her voice, but Her body and Her clothes, too. She's made of energy, transforming, bleeding out her sister's faint. She reminds him of things he can barely remember, a monotonous list of the most trivial annoyances: the ceiling fan, Xander slurping his soda, Her fingers flipping the pages of a book, snow on the television screen.

They could have had moments. Nights when they would have hopped in his black car, slick and clean, like a beetle, and driven to the beach. Late night swim. Yeah, that could've been nice.

"Spike..."

There it is again. Horrid and sticky. That voice, and those eyes.

"What do you want?" He asks, and he shows her some fang, hoping it'll scare her away.

The next night he went to Xander's house. He talked to Xander's mom. Dad. Shared his flask with the dad. Silver and cold, only he didn't feel the cold, only the silver. He didn't know why he was there. Hadn't been in that house in over a year; left with no intentions of going back. The walls were yellow, peeling, cracking, dying. The couch was avocado green, soft as gravel. *So you're a friend of Xander's?* Spike had been here before. No, no he hadn't; he'd only been in the basement. Did she know that Xander didn't live at home anymore? That's a fucking riot. He'd tell the Whelp, too...watch his eyes water //he's a faggot, he'd cry// lip tremble. *You're a fucking sadist, Alexander. You could kill her, him. He forgets you exist, she forgets she's supposed to care. It's a fuckin' riot.* Like lemon juice in a wound. She //The bitch// didn't even ask why he was there; nodded, sometimes. Spike told her about Buffy. Thought she'd want to know; turned out they'd never met Buffy. Yeah, the Whelp should kill them. He sure as shit couldn't.

"You should eat. You look like shit."

And he didn't even care that she had said the word 'shit'. He was too busy trying not to hear her. He had wanted to see Red's parents, too. Wasn't sure why. Joyce was dead; maybe that's why. No, he wanted to make a list of the reasons why Will should kill them, why they were bad parents. He didn't know where they lived. And they were Jewish, he heard. Just two more reasons not to go, more evidence that he was practically out of his fucking mind.

Killing stuff //people// seemed so much more inviting these days. He's pretty sure that he could kill her for not leaving. Would kill her for not leaving, if he could. 'Cause right now, she's watching him, waiting for him to say something, to scold her for saying a cuss word, forgetting he doesn't give a shit. (There's irony in that, somewhere.) She's watching him and trying to talk to him, but what he needs is for her to go //the fuck// away. Take a walk, never come back.

She's all pink and it's disgusting. Soft, he knows. He could touch her to see, but he doesn't, because he already knows. She's marrow, Buffymarrow. Buffyskin. Buffysmell. She's all pink and she licks her lips because she left her chapstick at home and it's cold. Not outside. In his crypt.

"I'll eat when I bloody well feel like it." But he never does.

He watches Xander from across the room. Slurping his soda like a faggot. Giles is numb //high on Jack Daniels and the Rohypnol the doctor gave him//, and the witches are so dark they forget they aren't gods. Anya is bored, dead as a rock inside. And Dawn. Little Dawn. God, he loves her so much it just turns to hate. //She should cry more often.// And there's Xander. Across the room. Slurping his soda. Yeah, he's back to normal. Spike hates him. Spike envies him.

"You look like shit," she repeats. Testing waters, it's just a game. He could kill her. Rip her ribcage out, snap her neck, tear apart her insides. With his luck, she still wouldn't shut up, she'd just yammer at him from the grave, like the other. A broken fucking record.

He wants to lose himself in need, again. Find something that horrible, that powerful. He wants to drown himself, suffocate, feel that sick rush of holding your breath too long.

Xander's red tongue slips out and grabs the straw, yellow and white. For a moment, maybe two, Spike wants him. That peace. That resolution. He wants something other than anger, angry people. Something more than death. He thinks it's fucking pathetic that Xander is all that's left of Her smile. And the Whelp grins weakly, self-consciously, because Spike is starting to stare, but all Spike can see is Her, and for a moment, definitely two, Spike wants him. Dawn hardly ever smiles.

*Time is like an hourglass.* *No, shit, Sherlock.* Sometimes he still believes it's not too late, that time can fix him, heal his wounds like it's supposed to. Then he remembers he has no concept of time, each day just bleeds into another, and it feels like She's only been gone for a few hours, like the sun has yet to rise and take Her soul away, the way it took his. He doesn't cry anymore, it physically hurts when he does.

"Umm...Spike? I was thinking that maybe you would want to maybe come home. With me. Stay at my house. Just for a while. It would be better; I want you to." He just stares //glares// at her. And this time, she's really gonna cry, with those eyes.

It's cold, he can feel it now. Falling at his feet like the rain, pooling in the dip of his hips, the crick of his neck, where shoulder-blade meets soft nape, streaking Her face like the sun did that one day, that day She died. No. Cat nap. //She needs a lit'l rest. All she's been through.// It's cold, now, cold as rain, warm as Her painted cheeks, hot as the ocean during El NiƱo.

He remembers watching Her fall. Tumbling towards the dirt like an angel, arms outstretched, reaching //reaching for him, if he squints//. Life did that tricky, slow-motion thing, and he had enough time to memorize, calculate, forget. He wishes he could forget. And he wishes he could fly, move like fire.

She had spoke of its flame; he hadn't been listening. Now he can't shut Her up, because it's too late. God, they could have had moments...days...nights...weeks at a time. Whispering behind locked doors. Vanilla shampoo and wet tree leaves that smell like iced tea. She had been so close; now she was too close.

"Now, now. What would the Watcher say?"

"I don't care. I don't need him..."

There were two, vertical slits on Her wrist. From the splinters of a broken two-by-four, slicing Her blue veins open for the whole world to see. To see what She had done. Yeah, She died before the fall. Yeah, She sacrificed herself for Her sister. //What-the fuck-ever...// The men in their white vans with red lights, the nice chits in blue drawstring pants, the police whispering behind backs...all they all saw were the slits on Her wrist. And they whispered because they knew, while everyone else fell apart because they knew, too. Yeah, She understands sacrifice //bloody twit// when She stands at thirteen so Her sister can win...

//Stupid Bitch. Bottle-blonde, but blonde at heart.//

...When nobody is supposed to win.

"...I need you." And everyone dies.

"No...You need an education, three meals a day, water, regular check-ups at the doctor or the dentist or wherever-the-bloody-hell-else you chits go. You don't need me. I can't save you, I can't stop you...stop you from, from dying. You need to pray or beg or something. Go find a priest, they're tasty."

Angel had tried to stake him. Spike didn't care. He was giving in to his demise, he was willing to blow away, knowing that he had been there. When She died. And Angel hadn't been. *Did you watch Her fall? Tell me, Angelus: Do you know what it's like to watch Her writhe in pain and bleed and crack and split, knowing there's not a bloody thing you can do about it?* He could taste the wood beneath his shirt, breaking the skin. *You weren't even there. You weren't there, fighting next to her when The End came, touching her, and Fuck, she was cold, colder than you, than me. I could feel how cold she was. She died, died without you. Do you know how fucked up that is?* Bleeding all over Angel's white hands. *Just do it, already,* he bantered, honestly bored. Then, not moments later, the light in his head clicked 'off', and he knew this was it, and he wanted it (God, he wanted it) - in a voice of hush and uncertainty and something else he couldn't quite name, he looked up with broken-puppy-eyes and whimpered, *Please.*

"I need you." Is she a //bleedin'// robot? Programmed to give him sad-eyes, to say things like that.

*Can you bloody stop with the noise?!* *Sor-ry Mr. Dead-N-Cranky.* Xander puts his soda down on the tiny table, processed wood, thin as cardboard. Giles hands Spike a black book, opens it to page seven-thirty-one. *Look in there, for something, anything,* he instructs, slurring his "s". Spike takes two glances at the mangled Latin and rusted-pages, closes the book because it stinks. Xander has his soda, again. Graffiti-grate, spaghetti-tape. Slurping away; he doesn't like books. But it's okay, because books don't like him.

She's closer, now. Standing by him, as though he were fire. She has green eyes. Fuck, she has green eyes. She reminds him of things he can barely remember, a monotonous list of the most trivial annoyances: the ceiling fan, Xander slurping his soda, Her fingers flipping the pages of a book, snow on the television screen.

And, God, he hates her so much it just turns to love.