"Bell. Neck. Look into it."
"Come with a nice leather collar, does it?"
Buffy didn't know how she got roped into helping with the 'Day After Halloween Sale' at the Magic
Box. She distinctly remembered saying helping yesterday was a one-time thing. But here she was,
walking into the shop for the afternoon shift, with Willow babbling on about something at her side.
Buffy rarely focused on the Willow-babble, post-mortem part deux. Buffy rarely focused on Anyone-babble, actually. She disliked the harsh sounds of words. She liked the peace and quiet, liked the
non-emotiveness of silence. No one but Spike seemed to get that.
Thinking of, Buffy thought, as she and Willow joined Anya, Giles, Tara, and Spike near the check-out counter. "Run out of spicy-roots again?" the Slayer asked Spike.
A corner of Spike's mouth turned up. "Somethin' like that."
"Buffy, you're late," Anya tisked. "Time is money."
"I'm not getting paid," Buffy said flatly.
"Oh. Good." Anya smiled, then frowned. "But you're still late. You're taking Tara's place."
"Yipee." Buffy whirled her finger in a small circle.
"Willow, Giles is in the back," Anya said, shooing the redhead in that direction. "Go tell him to go
home. I don't need him anymore. In fact, if he wants to stay home tomorrow and the next day until
forever, he can do that, too."
"Well, I'm gone before she makes me work for nothing, too," Spike said, pocketing a Magic Box
paper bag. He sauntered past Buffy, dipping his head to whisper snarkily, "Sucker."
Buffy couldn't agree with him more.
"Oh, Slayer." Buffy turned around and looked questioningly at the black-clad vampire, who'd
stopped right behind her.
Blue eyes dancing with mischief, Spike reached into his ever-present duster pocket, removed a
bicycle bell, and rang it twice. "S'all I could find," he said with a grin.
Buffy's eyes lit up with humor first, then her nose crinkled as her mouth spread into a wide, brilliant
smile that touched her ears.
And then she began to laugh.
Light and airy was her laughter in the beginning, tinkling melodiously in the shop proper and
causing all eyes to focus on her. Her bubbling laughter continued to grow until she was snorting and
snorking and snuffling and clutching her sides with gut-busting guffaws. Tears of mirth streamed
down her cheeks, which hurt from smiling so much. She eventually leaned forward and rested her
head on Spike's chest, giggling and hiccoughing like a loon.
Buffy hadn't laughed like that since... since... since she was told Harmony had her own gang. With
her mom's illness and death, and Dawn and Glory, and Buffy's own death and resurrection, there
just hadn't been cause for laughter. Since she'd been brought back to life, she'd been going on
automation, not feeling much of anything other than pain and longing for the peace she'd found in
But today, she laughed.
Wiping her cheeks, Buffy caught sight of the bicycle bell in Spike's hand, snickered a little more,
and tilted her head to look up at him. "You, my ding-a-ling vampire, are a wonderful man," she told
him, before standing on her toes to press a sweet kiss against his lips. "Thank you for bringing me
Spike seemed a bit shell-shocked, his mouth slightly parted and his eyes owlishly huge. Buffy
giggled again, and he snapped out of his daze. "You're welcome, Buffy," he said quietly.
His head snapped up suddenly, and he looked around as if remembering where they were. He
abruptly shoved the bell into his pocket, nodded to her, and headed for the basement door.
"Spike," Buffy stopped him as he opened the door. She cocked her head to one side in question.
"I'll be waiting," Spike replied. He disappeared downstairs.
After a brief, shocked silence, Buffy's friends started talking all at once.
"Buffy, y-you laughed."
"You kissed Spike! Vampire Spike! Undead Peroxide-Abuser Spike!"
"Please, tell me I was seeing things."
"Hello, people, some of you are on the clock and are wasting money I could be making."
"Anya, there's no one in the shop but us."
"I baked a zillion cookies the last time you kissed him! You said it was bad! Blech!"
"Why did Spike have a bicycle bell?"
Their voices became white noise to Buffy and she easily tuned them out. Still looking in the
direction Spike had gone, she rocked on her toes, wiped her cheeks again, and let out a few stray
sniggers. Only Spike, she thought, her smile becoming contemplative as she ran the words through
her head again. Only Spike.
She liked the sound of that.