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Gift Exchange

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"I don't understand. I thought it was a ritual for single women. Most of them celebrate with chocolate or silly movies, and some women choose to avenge themselves on former lovers. There's nothing romantic about it."

"Well, sure, it's tough if you're single, but for those of us in relationships, Valentine's Day is a special day, for celebrating our love. Back me up here, Spike."

"Lad's right, Anya. Why, Dru and I, Saint Valentine was practically our patron. All throbbing hearts and dead flowers -- it's a day for the romantic. One time, turn of the century or so, slaughtered a whole churchful of worshippers for her to eat."

"Spike? Not helping."

"Well excuse a bloke for reminiscing. Here. I've got presents for both of you."

"Ooh!" Anya, who'd been pouting, was suddenly interested again. "Is mine valuable? Would it break if I shook it? What color is it?"

"It's a gift exchange, not twenty questions," said Spike. "And Xander can open his first, seeing as he's been so patient-like."

Xander removed wrinkled white-and-red striped paper from a large box, which opened to reveal a pair of sterling steel handcuffs and a tattered piece of engraved paper. He unfolded the paper and began to read. "On this day of old foretold, I..."

Spike appeared to blush as he snatched the paper out of Xander's hand. "Don't read it," he muttered. "'s not very good."

"But I hadn't gotten to the part about dazzling eyes and rippling manly bits yet."

"Good," said Spike, his tone so final that Xander realized that was that.

"Me next?" said Anya, who'd been so impossibly patient through her lovers' exchange that Xander felt compelled to reward her with a kiss, which she accepted as graciously as a queen receiving foreign dignitaries. "I like Xander's handcuffs. Soon we'll all get to play with them, won't we?"

"Soon, pet. Now, you were saying something about a present?"

Anya tore the paper off her present carelessly, then dismantled the rest of the packaging until she held a shimmering gem in her hand. "It's quite attractive," she said. "I could wear it."

"Show off your breasts nicely," interjected Spike.

"Or sell it, for money. I'm saving up to expand the Magic Box."

"Anya, it's not traditionally a good idea to fence gifts that people steal for you," Xander said gently.

"Hey! What makes you think I stole it?"

"Experience," responded Xander.

Spike glared at him, then his expression softened. "Suppose you've got a point. Still, not nice to talk of such things in front of ladies."

Anya tapped her foot. "I think I understand why women in relationships might enjoy celebrating them annually," she said. "Especially if their boyfriends buy expensive gifts for them. But I like celebrations that come with sex. We should have some."

"Seconded," Spike said.

"Is it time to test out my new present?" Xander said with a smile.

"Me first!" replied Anya, and Spike reached for Xander's hand. They followed their excited girlfriend to her bedroom, holding hands and barely able to hold back their grins. The night was off to a promising start.