It's lame that they don't like him in the house. It's not like he takes up much space, or anything. He's not even loud, not anymore.

The people at the theater probably think he's a pervert. They smile but won't look her in the eye when she comes in, and at least once a movie the old usher with terrible breath leans over, just in case. He always looks surprised to find her hands full of Swedish fish.

It's better on Saturdays. Bleeding terrible taste in films, he says, but the old movies they play on weekdays always make him sad. And they are sad, even if the color's all funny and people overact all over the place. Maybe it's a vampire thing, the endless lectures about the good old days. Who knew Spike was so lame? Except, on Saturdays, Willow and Tara have date night and never ask when they're gonna get back. Good thing, too, because it's the midnight show with monsters and zombies and brains, and a big crowd. It used to bother her, all the blood and guts and things that look like they'd come through that hole in the sky, but then she'd learned the trick. If you watch him, kinda, out of the corner of your eye you can see him really get into it. Usually it's only for a second, the Elvis-cool grin that he always used to have, the twinkly eyes that don't droop even a little bit. On good days, he doesn't crumple back up. And boy, today's a good day.

They're strolling out of the theater, and he's doing his right walk, the one with the hands in his pockets. It's just like before, you know, when everything didn't suck so much.

"You know what looks like brains?"

He's kicking a rock in front of him, but it keeps getting caught in the toes of his stupid boots. "No fair, pidge, can't see myself in the mirror."

"God, no wonder you hang out with Clem." Time for the Horror Movie Announcer Voice. "Expose the Lameness Within!"

OK, no fair. He isn't supposed to get that look, not on Saturdays, especially not when she steers clear of the tough stuff. "Strawberry sundaes!" OK, so surprised Spike is pretty funny looking, and better than glum Spike, but seriously? Brains are not his thing. "Strawberry sundaes look like brains, Spike."

Ok, so maybe it was kind of stupid in the first place. But come on. It was worth… At least a sentence. Not the stupid eyebrow raise he's got going on now. "Come on! I know Tara gave you some money."

"Regular lil' golddigger," he grumbles. "Red's been setting something on the door, says what time you get in at."

"So we'll tell her that we followed the safe-but-slow route home. Come on."

If only she had the nerve to grab his hand, or his elbow, or something. He doesn't like to be touched. Spoils his entrances, probably. He's such a drama queen, even about the In'n'Out Burger. "Come on, Spike. We can have chocolate instead, if you want."

He's learned better than to ruffle her hair, but you can tell he wants to. "Gonna be a heartbreaker. Not that you'll be breakin' any hearts…"

"Because you'll be breaking legs." It's totally time for the eye-roll. "Now, buy me some brains like a good zombie."

"Think you'd have some respect for just what goes bump in the night."

"What? Undead is undead." He looks ready to argue. "Plus, you could stand to shower. And change your clothes."

He snorts. "You'd be havin' me wear white, then?"

Hmmm. "Not a bad idea."

"Oh, bloody hell!" People are staring, he yelled that so loud, but he's making the I'm-a-Badass-And-You-Know-It face, staring slowly at everybody until they look back down. But he does lower his voice. "I'm not your bloody Barbie, niblet."

Should have known. Subtlety always works better. Like, say, casually telling him that combing his hair back made him look all scrawny. Hello, decent hairdo! "Fine, fine, you're evil." That always makes him smirk. And, in this case, go get the ice cream. Chocolate, just for spite. She grimaces as she takes a bit. It's a principle.

"Never turned yours nose up at chocolate before," he grumbles and then it's there, just there in her throat and her eyes and just everywhere.

His eyes get huge. You can tell he knows, he gets it. This isn't supposed to still happen, sneak up on you like that. Just because she liked strawberry. And Spike is definitely not supposed to get up from the table. He's supposed to help her, because he's so damn good at it but she will because she ought to know that tears taste lousy with ice cream.

And then there's a plop. A strawberry sundae hits the table. He's standing, looking kinda deer-in-the-headlights. She has to stand up, touch his shoulder before he'll sit down.

It's so awkward she's feeling choked again, just staring at the stupid sundae. It's started to melt into a lumpy pink mess. "You know," she starts. Her voice isn't working quite right. "It really does look like zombie brains. Well, zombie brains plus pus."

"Ta, love, for the visual."

"What? You eat gross things like that!"

"'M a vampire, not a bloody zombie."

"That's right, you just suck."

Ok, so that was a low blow. But he totally set himself up for it. But he's growling, and sticking his spoon back in the chocolate ice cream, and everything's alright.

Except, not quite.