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Pookahs Don't Carry Cash

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The bell jingled as Xander pushed open the door. The Magic Box looked deserted but he could hear Anya's voice from the back room. “You don't frighten me, mister”

Grabbing something heavy off a table in passing, Xander raced into the back room, arm raised.

“Xander,” Anya shouted as she took the crystal from his hand. “Careful with the merchandise.”

Pink, he thought as he got his first good look at it. Of course I picked up a pink crystal to defend my girlfriend from. “Um, Ahn, are you alone?”

“Eeep,” Anya said, as she scurried around behind him. From over Xander's shoulder, she called out to the empty room, “Not so tough now that my boyfriend is here, are you?”

Xander carefully scanned the room: shelves and shelves of books; table with small reading lamps; chairs and a couch; ladder to the upstairs. “Who are you talking to?” he whispered.

“That, that,” she peered her head around him and shouted out, “pookah.”

“Poobah, like the Grand Poobah from the Flintstones?” Xander asked. “Does he have a big blue hat?”

“No, a pookah. A mischievous nature spirit. Something like a trickster and no, I'm not saying 'And how are you Mr. Wilson?'” She stuck her tongue out towards the middle of the empty room.

“Uh huh,” Xander said as he carefully wrapped his arms around her. “Maybe it's time to go home, honey. Get some extra sleep tonight.”

She broke from his arms with shock clear on her face. “I can't close the shop early, especially while there's a customer here.” She yelled into the middle of the room, “Even if he is a six foot tall rabbit.”

“Ahn, nobody comes here this late and, um, maybe we could ask the rabbit to leave. I mean, rabbits, not known for carrying money on them.”

“I don't know,” she said, looking down at the floor. “I'd hate to miss a sale but,” whispering she added, “I wouldn't mind if the pookah left.”

Right, Xander thought. Here goes nothing. “Um, sir? You wouldn't mind leaving, would you? We're about to close for the evening.”

The bell jingled. When Xander looked over, the door was open. “Oh, man. That wind is something else tonight.”

“Next time buy something, Mister,” Anya called out towards the doorway as Xander rushed over to close it.

Realizing she was alone, Anya ran over to Xander and curled herself up in his arms. “Xan? I was really afraid of the giant rabbit.”

“We both were, honey,” he said as he eased her out the door.

After the sound of their car had faded off into the distance, a book floated off a shelf towards the research table. An indentation appeared in one of the more comfortable chairs, as if someone large had seated himself there. The reading light turned itself on.