I have a theory about Spike's stuff about Buffy liking men who hurt her, about her needing the hate they inspire. My theory goes something like this. Spike now loathes himself to such a degree that he can't see anything even remotely attractive or worthwhile about his pre-soul self. Therefore, he needed to find an explanation of Buffy's behavior toward him that allowed for Spike having been utterly worthless and horrible. And, given that limiting factor, the only reason he could see why Buffy would touch him, why Buffy wouldn't have killed him already, is because she needs someone as loathesome as him around, for some reason.
In short (too late), I think Spike's little philosophy about Buffy liking men to hurt her was actually not about her at all. It was about finding an excuse why she would put up with him, when Spike can't imagine any possible good reason she would do so. Well, that's my theory, anyway.
I've also watched the ending of the cellar scene in "Sleeper" about a dozen times ... maybe more. For this one, I rewind to just after Buffy has finished killing the last fledgeling. She walks up to Spike and looks down at him. The expressions on James Marsters' face in the next few seconds just get to me ... every ... single ... time. He looks up into Buffy's face, then slowly down at the makeshift "stake" in her hand. Then, with grief and resignation, he scoots forward, opens his coat, and in his movements I read such sorrow that he's tried so hard, done so much, and it has come to this, despite all his efforts and his love. He says, "Do it fast, okay?" and his lashes flutter. He looks up at her on the last word, with this small, sad, understanding smile.
Okay, so, yeah. I'm an obsessive fan. I am completely blown away by how crucial Spike's story is to this season's plot. To be honest, though I'd love to see Spike get what he has convinced himself he can never have (Buffy's love), I don't actually care that much exactly where they take this plot. Because wherever it goes, Spike's plot arc has gone in directions that have the power to make me cry.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a journal entry about why I like Spike. I wrote about the fact that I identify with him, with his need to feel that he can be forgiven (by others and by himself) for his past wrongs, that he actually is capable of change, that he can be accepted for who he is now. I've already gotten the story I wanted. The rest is gravy.
The only thing I specifically still want to see is Spike learning to forgive himself. In my own experience, that's a hell of a lot more difficult than earning the forgiveness of others.