A story about stalking.
Girl On Film
In some cultures, it is said that part of a person's soul is taken each time they are photographed. There are places even today where people will shy away from cameras and other image-capturing devices carried by ignorant tourists. Not so much the children and the young people, but the older ones will still shudder and cross themselves, or call upon whatever gods they worship for protection.
Spike had heard of this belief before, but always laughed it off as superstition. He is not superstitious. Dru can have her moon songs, but Spike is all pragmatism. Photos are the markings of light as it falls onto film, nothing more and nothing less.
It's true that he has tried to avoid being photographed in the past, but that has been a matter of precaution, not wanting to be identified or catalogued or possibly added to police crime files. Besides, he has no soul and therefore nothing to fear.
Not that he believes it anyway.
* * *
There is a bundle of photos in Spike's crypt, a stack twelve centimetres thick and mostly consisting of polaroids. No one knows it is there except for him. Not even Buffy. Especially not Buffy.
He couldn't bear it if she ever found out. He can imagine what her expression would be like, full of contempt and disgust and confusion, if she took the few minutes necessary to flip through them and discover that every single photo was of herself. (And he can imagine, too, how that expression would look on film.)
Most of the photos he took himself: from the roof outside her window, during her night patrols, on her way home from clubbing or college. A few were swiped, secretly, when he was staying at Xander's basement and in Giles' house. Hardly any show her in the daylight.
But they are all of Buffy. All of them.
Spike rarely even looks at the photos. Just takes more and more, adds them to the ever-thickening wad, and only occasionally tries to figure out exactly why he's even doing this. Why bother taking these photos, most of them low-quality and repetitious, when all he has to do is look out his (figurative) front door to see her for real? It's irrational, and stupid, and moreover a waste of what little money he has to spare. I'm turning into a bloody raving stalker, he mutters to himself.
Yet he keeps taking them. The process is more important to him than the end product. He's just not sure why.
* * *
Perhaps, if he were superstitious, which he isn't, he might begin to wonder just how much of Buffy's soul those twelve centimetres of photos contains. After all, twelve centimetres is a lot of photos, and the bundle grows with every passing day.
One per cent of a soul? Two per cent? Maybe even as high as four? Maybe. If souls could be quantified, maybe he has as much as four per cent of a soul. Then again, maybe he has less than one.
But say he were to know. Say that souls are, in fact, quantifiable, tangible, divisible, verifiable. Because then he could figure out just how much those twelve centimentres holds and how much they don't, how many more photos he must take before her soul is gone altogether, how long before she is empty and just like him...
He is not superstitious, of course. He thinks no such thing.
No, Spike reassures himself as he watches a polaroid developing in the palm of his hand, blurred shapes coalescing into flowing hair, slim arms, the gracious curve of neck. I don't believe in that bullshit. He slips the latest snap into a pocket before lifting the camera to his pale blue eye again, instinctively, as though willpower has nothing to do with it.
Maybe, he reasons to himself, maybe I'll just take one more. Just one.
Yeah, just one more.
(And maybe, one day, 'just one more' will be enough.)