Connor's coming apart at the seams and he's not sure how he feels about that.† He's like that doll in that movie, the one about Christmas and skeletons and somehow thatís gotten mixed up in his head so he remembers trimming the tree with little clicking finger bones and making wreaths out of ribs and dead ivy, fighting with his sister for the last cut-out cookie.

But he doesn't have a sister, does he?† He's not the oldest son in a family of three, almost-sophomore in college and secret superhero.† He's the anti hero, he's the boy that saw the rot under the smile and hugged her to him anyway.† Wiggling little worms against his cheek and he had to scrub for hours, after, to get the stink off.

He runs his fingers over his ribs - over his elbows and hips and collarbones, feeling for the seams.† Picking at the joins until Spike rolls over and grabs his hands - pins them to the stained ticking of the mattress.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

"Coming undone," Connor says, working his fingers in Spike's numbing grip, uncomfortable tight feeling of skin and dried blood under his nails.† He's not that boy that liked those dead bones so much it was a family tradition, vampires before breakfast.† He's the boy that was born to be wild - born to kill, born to die - prophesized like Jesus Christ and Muhammad and all the rest only his legacy won't ever be an American Movie Classic.† It holds no forgiveness, just dumb martyrdom in the bombed out remains of a Comfort Inn.

"You're no fucking martyr," Spike mutters, lips and tongue moving over the little beads and furrows of blood on Connor's skin.† Cutting heat of ivory fangs and Spike slices him into bits and bobs, quarters and halves, rags and tags.† Only to stitch him up again with his needle tongue.†

"Beautiful boy, fucking headcase.†† Doesn't work that way, you don't get to pick out the parts you don't like and sew in clockwork," Spike says. ††At least, Connor thinks that's what Spike is saying.† Spike's always saying something and he's learned to pick out the pits and leave the plums since they walked out of L A.

'No, that's not right...† I am the bastard child of the incestuous dead.†† Split apart and patched back up.† Lived three lives and I don't want any of them.'

"Want this one," Connor says, eyes closed to the furious dawn, thighs open and his belly is empty.† Everywhere else is full.†† 'Straw, dead leaves, rags, old hair...'

"Shut up, dolly," Spike says, and sews up Connor's lips with bone needles and gut.