"Why can't Xander…" Giles sounded exasperated overhead where Spike was quietly looting The Magic Box's basement storage area for things he could sell. "Dawn, these events are simply not my..."

Spike grinned, the ol' bore was fighting for his life while he, the Big Bad was robbin' him below of whatever would fit in a pocket… and oh my, look at all the goodies! A pound of mandrake disappeared in a duster pocket, joining several packets of rare Indonesian incense and a bag of dried Amazon Rainforest frogs in assorted novelty colors. Other expensive items followed with practiced skill as Spike kept a vindictive ear on what was going on upstairs, long pale fingers automatically sorting through the merchandise as he listened, smirking.

"But I'll be too ooooooold next year to go to the Scout Council's annual Me and My Guy Valentine's dance – dad has a new baby so he can't be my date, I'll be left oooooouttttt!" Dawnie whined, "Anyway, Xander has to work!"

"Yeah, kid, keep up that high speed dental drill whine of yours long enough - he'll give in." Spike opened a bottle of ritual wine, some Wicca thing or other with a hand-painted artisanal label on it and quickly downed the contents – eh, cheap Concord grapes and aged in the delivery van at $50 per bottle, bit of a disappointment, really. He pointedly put the re-corked empty back on the rack, might as well have been a juice box he'd just slammed.

And, Hell, it's not like Dawnie's voice hadn't drilled him straight into some Scout gulag or other last Spring when she was 13, Camp Whatsit or Other…

The vampire paused over an assortment of crystals mounted in cheap pewter wand settings, Dawnie was really up to speed this morning. He sniggered at Giles's excuse, doesn't have a suit, does he? Ha! The Tweed Avenger has three, good ones, at the back of his closet. Spike knew, having one long, boring afternoon gone through the older man's closet after he'd first been chipped, heyyyyyy, Saville Row! Spike deliberately left a used blood bag in the breast pocket of that one. It should be nice and ripe now… like a tampon receptacle in a public restroom at the beach on a hot day during a full moon. He pocketed a few of the better wands – newbies'd fall for these— ugly but profitable… "Yeah, Dawn, keep drillin', you'll get a date!" he mumbled around a mouthful of earth friendly ginseng and royal jelly lozenges at $10 an ounce.

The things were nasty, but the spite value made what they did to his breath worth it.

At this point Dawn's wheedling was almost in the range of a bat on the verge of tears.

"Keep pushin', keep pushin', Niblet… keep it up… Aaaaaaaand…. Presto, you win kid!"

"Oh, all right, " Giles's voice drifted down through the heat duct, "I'll be your date!"

The thuds upstairs were Dawn's victory dance, with Giles mumbling in counterpoint, "I do not know why I allow myself to be talked into these things!"

Pockets heavy with boodle, Spike stood grinning up at the ceiling in the middle of the darkened basement while rolling an unlit menthol thoughtfully between his fingers, "Giles, me old son, better you than me, it was my turn last time– hope you have as much fun as I did!"