In the Slayerverse exists a prophecy that one day a vampire with a soul will be rewarded with his restored humanity. As any Bangel fan knows, this reward, the Shanshu Prophecy, is intended for Angel. When Spike’s new soul arrived on the scene circa 2002, the whole prophecy was thrown out of whack (see Angel season 5 for more information).
In the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ‘End of Days/Chosen’, Spike wakes up in a fit and exclaims, “I’m drowning in footwear.” Passing it off as a weird dream, I, as a loyal Bangelist, chose to believe him, that it was just a final little quirk from the magnificent brain of Joss Whedon. Or, Spike still can’t handle having a soul, because he’s clearly not as strong as Angel. But a whole lot of Spuffyers chose to take it as a hint that Spike would one day be the benefactor of the Shanshu Prophecy, because footwear=shoe=sole/soul=Shanshu.
However, all this means nothing, as I have now discovered, as Joss clearly planned a clever tie-in with this wonderful season one exchange from ‘Witch’:
Xander: This is the invisible man syndrome. A blessing in Cordelia’s case. A curse in Buffy’s.
Willow: You’re not invisible to Buffy.
Xander: It’s worse! I’m just like a part of the scenery, like an old shoe. Or a rug that you walk on every day but don’t even really see it.
Willow: Like a pen that’s all chewed up, and you kow you should throw it away, but you don’t, not ’cause you like it so much, more ’cause you’re just used to–
Xander: Will, yeah, that is the point, you don’t have to drive it through my head like a railroad spike.
The presence of “old shoe” and “railroad spike” in the same exhchange is definitely not coincidental. Ergo “railroad spike”=Spike, when “drowning in footwear”, is really drowning in a pile of old shoes, ie he is just part of the scenery. And that’s all he is to Buffy. In ‘Touched’, she sleeps in his arms to regain strength for the Final Fight. In ‘Chosen’, he becomes her armory, and she uses him to wear the amulet. Sure, he becomes a hero by sacrificing himself, but Buffy doesn’t let Angel risk it, and relies on him to continue his fight against evil in the second frontier. Maybe she loves Spike for a moment because he sacrifices himself, but this may only be because he is helping her to win. Just part of the battle scenery. When Buffy says, towards the end of ‘Chosen’, that she wants to go shopping because she’s having “a wicked shoe craving”, it means she needs a new man. But the contempt for her ‘old shoes’ does not apply to Angel, because, as she has said, he comes in the future. Their love is forever.
AND, season one is totally canon. It all matters. So suck on that, Spuffy.