Spike actually likes grocery shopping with Illyria, though of course he makes out like he doesn't. Illyria has to eat, and Spike likes to, so every week or two after they first settle into Cleveland, somebody needs to go and buy food. The first time, Spike sends Illyria by herself.
She comes back with 17 boxes of Lucky Charms, 1 tin of imitation clams ("When you crave the taste of clams fresh from the shell, but don't want to shell out a lot of clams, choose Klams!"), 2 somewhat anemic-looking carrots, and a bucket.
The bucket, at least, Spike can find a use for.
Money being what it is these days, and hard to come by honestly, they actually have to eat all that rather than tossing it out. Illyria, predictably, makes herself sick on Lucky Charms. Thrice.
"Well, what'd you expect after all that high fructose corn syrup?" Spike asks her through the bathroom door on her third go round.
"Only a coward taunts a tethered opponent," she snarls back. "You half breeds are nothing more than jackals feeding on the bones of true warriors."
"Least a diet of bones don't give us the runs, pet," Spike returns, far more amused than offended.
"Cretin," she mutters sulkily, soft enough that human hearing wouldn't catch it.
"So," Spike remarks to the door. "Best if we both go for supplies next time, yeah?"
"Mortality is vile," Illyria replies feelingly. "These shells do nothing but leak."
"Not always in a bad way," Spike chuckles, but the icy silence from the other side of the door suggests that Illyria is not amused.
When she finally comes out of the bathroom, he finds her reading Omnivore's Dilemma.
Spike raises an eyebrow at the cover of the book. "Whatcha doing, Blue?"
"This shell is appallingly delicate." Illyria spits out the last word like an epithet. "I must learn how to preserve it properly."
She seems uncomfortable admitting this, and Spike's not quite sure what to say, but the next day he downloads a copy of King Corn and leaves it open on the laptop for her.
"Humans are squalid creatures," she says the next time she sees him. "Only the basest of vermin foul their own nests." And she snatches the Doritos right out of his hand and stuffs them vehemently in the garbage can.
"Oi!" Spike objects. "What're you doing? I don't need to watch what I eat."
But she just levels a glare at him that could peel the paint off the walls of an apartment with far better maintenance than their shabby place, and he accepts the bag of baked pita chips she shoves into his hand instead with a resigned sigh.
The first time they go to the store together, they split up to divide and conquer. Spike happily browses his way through the snack and frozen food aisles, mostly with a gleeful disregard for sugar and salt content, but not entirely, because there's Illyria's arteries to think about now. He eyes the frozen cheese blintzes and cookie dough ice cream already in the cart, and he guiltily tosses in some frozen whole wheat waffles, too.
Spike comes to the end of the aisle, and there's Illyria on the other side of the store, holding a block of cheese. She tilts her head at him and flicks her eyes at the produce section to his right. He counters with a lifted eyebrow and a glance at the alcohol aisle to her left.
They both turn purposefully down their respective aisles, and return a moment later. Illyria's holding a six-pack of Spike's favorite beer; Spike nods at her approvingly. Spike is holding a cucumber; Illyria glares until he produces the bunch of broccoli hidden behind his back in his other hand.
Just because he's gotten to know her well enough to correctly interpret a glance and a head tilt in the context of a block of cheddar doesn't mean he can't pretend that he doesn't just to annoy her. She's fun when she's annoyed, and it's the mood when he can see Fred in her the least, which is also good.
Later, when he's finished with his side of the store, Spike comes looking for Illyria and finds her browbeating a stock boy in the dairy section.
"The most cursory of research reveals that this milk is not truly organic," she growls, clearly halfway through a rant by the way the stock boy is quailing before her already. "It is filled with synthetic hormones and antibiotics. If you persist in your lies, I will drown you in its filth!"
Spike laughs until he has to lean against a shelf of shampoo for support, one hand clapped over his mouth to muffle the sound. He swallows the guffaws down to affectionate chuckles, and it occurs to him that it's the first time he's really laughed since Angel was dusted. That thought sobers him, of course, and he reaches reflexively for his sword, concealed against his spine beneath his duster—not very well concealed, mind you, but he doesn't like to leave Angel out of reach, not even just to go shopping. No telling what the bugger might get up to, even in blade form.
Spike rejoins Illyria as she emerges victorious from the dairy section, the cowed stock boy fleeing before her.
"Got everything?" Spike asks her.
Illyria eyes the cart. "Once, my followers would have left me their finest goods in tribute piles so high their shadow blackened the sun."
"That a 'yes'?"
"...is that toilet tissue quilted?"
"For your comfort." Spike grins at her. "With aloe."
She narrows her eyes at him as if she suspects that she's being mocked. "Acceptable," is all she says, with a haughty sniff.
And it's weird, it is, but he likes it. Spike's not Wesley. Wesley couldn't walk away from Illyria because she was almost someone he had loved—but he couldn't love her, either, because she was almost someone he had loved. Spike liked Fred a lot, but it isn't the same.
There's a Slayer on the other side of the world who doesn't need him, a sword on his back that only needs polishing, and it's just nice to have someone who still depends on him, even for the little domestic things.
"Think I may've gotten the regular broccoli instead of the organic," he remarks on the way to the car, just to wind Illyria up.
She rants about the effects of organophosphate pesticides on her now not entirely immortal liver all the way home while Spike tries to hide his grin.
Yeah, it's not what—or who—he wanted last year, or the year before that either, but maybe this year isn't quite as bad as he thought after all.