Always Forgive

by Saber ShadowKitten
I Hated You Because...10








Part One



"I DON'T CARE!!"

Spike threw the thick paperback book in his hand at Angel. The dark-haired vampire ducked out of the way, but the corner of the book clipped him across the cheek. It fell to the floor behind the chair he was sitting in with a small thump.

"Spike, I didn't-" Angel began, but his irate Childe cut him off.

"You sure the bloody hell did!" Spike yelled. "It was right there in black and white! Tell me, did you get your rocks off by telling this reporter about me? About us?"

"Are you ser-"

"I bet you did," Spike growled. "And I bet you didn't even soddin' care what this will do to me."

"If you'd give me a chance to speak-"

"You bloody arse! I can't believe you!" Spike's steps were hard as he paced back and forth in front of Angel's desk. "Now every vamp who knows how to read will know I'm working with the bleedin' Slayer and am in love with my Sire! You know that vampires read all these books for kicks, especially ones that tout to be 'real.'"

"I don't think that will make a difference-" Angel began again.

"You don't think," Spike said sarcastically. "'You don't think.' No soddin' shit, Angel! You went and spouted your gob off about my life! My life is my life, and I don't want every stupid bloke to be able to read about it for seven ninety-nine!"

"Spike, calm down-"

"I WILL NOT FUCKING CALM DOWN!!" Spike yelled. He slammed his fists down on the desk separating him from his Sire, and his eyes glowed golden as his face changed. With a low, deadly growl, he continued. "You laid out everything that's private to me for the world to read, and right now I'm so bloody angry with you, I don't even want you in my sight anymore. Don't call me, don't email me, and don't follow me. Got it?"

"Spike-"

The blond vampire shoved back from the desk, his hands still clenched in fists. "Shut. Up. You. Pillock."

Angel pressed his lips together, refraining from saying another word. Spike glared at him for a few moments longer, then turned and stalked out the door of Angel's inner office. The front door to the office rattled by the force of the blond's slamming of it a couple seconds later.

The dark-haired vampire took a slow, purposeful breath before he turned in his chair and picked up the book off the floor. The fangs dripping with blood on the cover mocked him, as did the title: Piercing the Darkness, Undercover with Vampires in America Today.

He opened the book and skimmed the table of contents until his eyes spotted what had gotten his Childe upset. He flipped to the page indicated and sighed unhappily. Spike was correct, it was right there in black and white.

A Vampire In Love

Angel remembered when he'd spoken to the woman pictured in the back of the book. It had been less than a month after they'd been rescued by Giles from their adventure on Treasure Island, as Willow so dubbed their tropical haven. He'd been as giddy as a schoolboy who'd gotten his first puppy, and more than a bit inebriated.

He cast his mind back to that evening. Doyle had suggested to him that they go out to celebrate the closing of a pretty hard case, and he had, for once, happily accepted. Spike had been slated to visit that upcoming weekend, and he'd been still riding high on his the feeling of being in love again and with someone who ardently returned his feelings.

The woman, Katherine had been her name, had somehow gotten him involved in a conversation hours and many drinks after his night had began. It was, of course, about vampires. Some of the things she'd learned in her undercover forays had been so laughable, he'd fallen out of his chair at one point.

Then he'd began telling her about what vampires were really like, which evolved into telling her his life story, which naturally led to him waxing poetic about being completely besotted with Spike. He remembered he'd gone on and on about his relations with his Childe, both in the past and in the present, and how it was anything but unnatural for him to love another man.

It was all there, printed in a book that vampires were sure to read for the pure comedic potential. And they would know that one chapter in the book was not about mortals' roleplaying, but about the infamous scourge of Europe and his equally murderous Childe. About Spike's helping the Slayer. About Spike's being in love with his Sire.

"Damn," Angel swore softly, shutting the book and tossing it onto his desk. Spike was seriously pissed at him, and his Childe had every right to be. They were both intensely private men, wearing masks of aloofness or cynicism in public, only relaxing around their friends.

It was the rare occasion that Spike actually showed affection towards him in the company of others, unless he was acting like a juvenile. Even then, though, his actions were perceived as a jest, not to be taken seriously. Spike became embarrassed any time Angel showed his love for his Childe in some manner, blushing and blustering until the moment had passed.

Angel would love to admit to himself that this was their first fight, but it wasn't. Spike was stubborn, headstrong and soulless. He also always had to have his own way, which made things difficult at times. However, they usually got over whatever the fight was about rather quickly with a little violence or a lot of sex. This was the first time Spike had ever walked out on him.

Was he suppose to ignore what Spike had said and go after his Childe? Or was he suppose to stay put and wait until Spike contacted him? When Buffy had told him to stay away, he did, and things usually got worse.

With that in mind, Angel stood and picked up his coat off the back of his chair. He scribbled a quick note for Cordelia, then quietly closed the main door to the office behind him.



Part Two





"Yeah?" Spike said into the phone after he'd picked it up on the third ring.

"Spike? It's Cordelia," Cordelia said on the other end of the line. "Let me talk to Angel."

"He's not here," Spike said.

"What? Of course he's there, his note said so."

"Cordelia, he's not here," he repeated. "I haven't seen him since Monday."

"Oh. Well, wait, where is he then?" Cordelia asked.

"Am not his soddin' keeper," Spike said. "He's probably just brooding down in the apartment like a ninny."

"No, he's not, we checked," Cordelia said. "And his note said he was going to Sunnydale, so he has to be there."

"He's not here, Cordelia," Spike said between clenched teeth.

"Give me that, dearie," the blond vampire heard before Doyle came on the line. "Spike, it's Doyle. You sure you're not hiding the well-coifed one?"

"Yes, I'm positive," Spike replied.

"Well, we ain't seen him since Monday morning before you showed up," Doyle said. "And this note he left says he was heading up there to see you."

"That was five days ago, mate," Spike said, a frown forming between his brows.

"It was," Doyle agreed. "We figured the two of you were playin' the mattress pony races, and wouldn't have called if I didn't have one of those mind-numbin' visions."

Spike's grip tightened around the receiver. "Angel's been missing for five days?"

"Guess that is a lot of days, come to think about it," Doyle commented.

"'Guess that's a lot of days?'" Spike repeated incredulously.

"Don't worry, mate," Doyle said. "He's probably holed up somewhere. Sorry for botherin' ya."

Spike stood frozen for a full minute after Doyle hung up, the receiver tight in his hand. Angel never went anywhere without letting someone know, and if he got tied up, he called. If he was going to be gone for more then a few days, he'd always let Spike know.

It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room.

*****

"Cord, why don't you go down and check the apartment again," Doyle instructed Cordelia as he hung up the phone. Cordelia nodded and headed for the elevator. "Anya, will you go to the garage and see if the Batmobile is there or not?"

"What are you going to do?" Anya asked her live-in-lover.

"I'm gonna call Kate and see if Angel's helpin' her out on somethin'," Doyle replied. He picked up the phone and quickly dialed the police station as Anya left.

"Lockley."

"Katie, it's Doyle," Doyle said into the phone. "You wouldn't by chance have a bulky Irish vampire hangin' around wit' you?"

"Angel?" Kate said over the line. "I haven't seen him since...oh, maybe last week Tuesday or Wednesday. Why?"

"Oh, we seem to have misplaced him, s'all," Doyle replied.



"Misplaced? As in, you don't know where he is?" Kate asked.

"Well, we know where he ain't," Doyle hemmed.

"Doyle-" Kate said warningly.

"Hold on a minute, princess," Doyle told Kate then put his hand over the receiver as Anya reentered the room. "Anythin' baby?"

Anya frowned. "Angel's car is still there. Which is odd, because he would need that to get to Sunnydale. Unless he suddenly learned how to fly. Vampires can't fly, right?"

"Not that I know of," Doyle said. He uncovered the phone. "You still there, Katydid?"

"Are you sure he's not with Spike?" Kate asked in reply. "He usually disappears for days when that annoying bleached ass is in town."

"Called the Brit, says 'e ain't there, either," Doyle answered. "Spike says the last time he saw Angel was on Monday."

"He's not down there, Doyle," Cordelia announced, reentering the main office. She held up a set of keys in her hand and shook them. "But he couldn't have gotten far without these."

"You want me to put out a missing persons report?" Kate asked Doyle over the phone. "Five days is well over the limit for officialdom."

"What you gonna say, darlin'?" Doyle said. "'Missing: One tall, dark and brooding man with a strong over-bite. If you have info, call the half-demon, the ex-demon and the she-demon-"

"It's going to be 'dead demon,'" Cordelia told Doyle, glaring at him.

"-at an investigation agency that still don't really exist,'" Doyle completed.

"I see what you mean," Kate said. "What can I do then?"

"Don't know," Doyle said truthfully. "We just found out the undead guy was AWOL. He could've just had a lover's quarrel and be gettin' pissed in some bar somewheres."

"Doyle, we're talking about Angel, not you," Kate said.

"Then we're in deep shit, Katydid. Deep, deep shit."

*****

"Anything?" Cordelia asked Anya as the ex-demon entered the room.

"Not a thing," Anya replied. She looked at the clothing Cordelia was piling onto the double bed after she searched through it. "Angel certainly does own a lot of black."

"I tried to get him into a color, but then Spike the one-outfit-wonder came into his life, and his wardrobe's gone downhill," Cordelia said with a sigh. "And he'd look so fine in Armani."

Anya held up a black silk shirt to her body. "Do you think I could take something of his? It's not like he'd miss it. He's gone, probably ashes by now."

"He's not ashes," Cordelia hissed, spinning around to glare at Anya, a long velvet coat in her hand. "Just because he's not here, doesn't mean he's not alive."

"Fine, he's still alive," Anya said, putting the shirt down. "But he hasn't been to anyplace I was asked to investigate."

"No luck with me, either," Doyle said, entering Angel's bedroom, a frown on his face. "It's like he disappeared off the face of the earth."

"You don't think that he really is..." Cordelia gave the Irishman a pained look.

Doyle shook his head vehemently. "The Powers That Be would have let me know, that's a fact. No, he's still undead and kicking."

"Yeah, but where is he?" Anya asked. "He's not having intercourse with Spike and he's not here. Do you think he's got another intercourse partner and is cheating on Spike?" She got a thoughtful expression on her face. "Hmm, if I still had my powers, would I be called to assist a scorned man when both in a relationship are male?"

"Anya, love, I don't think Mister Cursed Vampire would be able to boink another person without some major guilt trippin' happenin'," Doyle told her.

"Plus, he's, like, totally in love with Spike," Cordelia added. "And when Angel's in love with someone, he's completely monogamous. When Angel was with Buffy, he wouldn't even look at me."

"That's because he has some standards," Anya said. Cordelia glared at her again.

"Ladies," Doyle said before a fight could break out. "I think that we're gonna need some help on findin' Angel, eh?"

"Sunnydale help or just Kate help?" Cordelia asked.

"We'll start with Katie, then if she don't find nothin' either, we'll give Sunnydale a ring," Doyle replied.

"Then go call," Cordelia told him. "The longer it takes for us to find him, the more the chance he could be killed."





Part Three





"Any clues are probably gone because of the amount of time passed and the rain," Kate warned again as she crouched down to look at the sidewalk outside of the building that housed Angel Investigations.

"You mean his dust would have washed away," Anya said, glancing around with boredom on her face.

"Anya-" Doyle said, glaring at the ex-demon.

"What?" Anya said. "I like Angel. I just think we should be realistic. Five days without a word from him either means he is dead or close to dead."

"She's right," Kate said.

"No, my man Angel wouldn't just die on us like that," Doyle said. "He's been...vampnapped or somethin'."

"Did you receive a request for ransom?" Kate asked.

"Well, not per se..." Doyle folded his arms over his chest. "But demons and the like don't send ransom notes."

"No, they kidnap for revenge, torture and eventually kill the person," Anya said.

"Thank you for pointin' that out," Doyle said sarcastically.

"You're welcome," Anya replied, then headed back in the building.

"I found something!" Cordelia shouted to the from partway up the block.

Doyle jogged over to the brunette, followed by Kate. "What'd ya find, princess?" the Irishman asked.

Cordelia pointed to a deep crack in the sidewalk made from the last earthquake they'd had. Wedged in it was a dark red, thick, hooked nail poking through a piece of cloth. Kate bent down and pulled it free with her gloved hand. She held it up and examined it.

"It looks like a fingernail," Kate said.

"Or a clawnail," Doyle said, taking it from her.

"Well, now we won't be able to fingerprint it," Kate muttered.

"Katydid, I'm highly doubtin' you'd find any fingerprints," Doyle said. He frowned at the nail. "We don't know if this has anythin' to do with Angel, though."

"Yes it does," Cordelia said.

"Now princess-"

Cordelia held up the scrap of material that the nail had punctured. "This is part of Angel's shirt."

"How can you be sure, Cordelia?" Kate asked.

"Please, this is me you're talking to," Cordelia said.

"It's Angel's," Doyle said. "I'd trust Cordy's nose for fashion more than I'd trust my own mum."

"So now what?" Cordelia asked expectantly.

"Now, we try an' figure out who this nail belongs to," Doyle replied. "Then we go find ourselves a vampire."



*****



Spike paced back and forth in the small confines of the ex-Watcher's home. His friends were scattered around the room in various modes of research, having received a call from Cordelia a few hours earlier. But he was too worried to concentrate. Every time he turned a page in a book, his Sire's face would appear.

"Spike, change your pattern or something, you're making me nauseous," Buffy said, looking over at him from her spot on the stairs, open book on her lap.

"Sod off," Spike snapped at her.

Buffy arched her brow. "Getting pissy won't help us find him any faster. I know what it's like to have the love of- "

The blond vampire stopped and glared at her. "You know nothing, so shut up!" He whirled and stalked out the front door to Giles's home, slamming it behind him.

Willow looked up from her laptop screen, then over at her boyfriend. "Should one of us go after him?" she asked.

Oz shook his head. "Guy thing."

"Ah, I've found another," Giles said, reaching for a pen. "The Aarkrakoa has clawnails similar to-to the one Cordelia had found. Although the size is remarkably different..." He scribbled down the name, book and marked the page with a scrap of paper.

"That makes, what, two hundred? Three?" Xander asked. He sank back on the couch beside the werewolf. "At this rate, Deadboy could have been kidnapped by half the demon population."

"Xander, there are over five million major species of demon alone," Giles said. "We've barely even scratched the-the surface. The vast plethora of-"

"I'm hungry, anyone else?" Buffy interrupted, giving Xander a wink.

"Me," Willow said, raising her hand.

"I could use some food," Oz added.

"Xand, up for a drive?" Buffy said.

"Got my keys a-ready and my stomach a-empty," Xander replied.

Giles shook his head, knowing the interruption was purposeful, and went back to researching.

*****

Spike flicked the cigarette nub away and pulled his knees up to his chest. He laid his forehead down on one of them and closed his eyes. Crickets chirped around him, an automobile drove past, and the leaves rustled as an opossum crawled out from under the bushes, but other than those normal night sounds, the children's park was quiet.

He was sitting in one of the covered forts the play equipment had, having climbed up there when he had gotten tired of walking. During the day, children undoubtably screamed and laughed as they played on the wooden structure. At night, however, it was silent and still, which is exactly what Spike needed.

Angel was missing, kidnapped by something that had dark red claws, possibly being beaten or tortured or starved or was even dead.

And the last thing Spike did was fight with him.

Spike's thumb brushed repeatedly on the underside of the cigar band around his right middle finger. He hated the feelings of fear and panic that had settled inside of him, the feelings of inadequacy of not being able to really help, of the inability to immediately go save his Sire.

He didn't know what he'd do if Angel was dead.

"I hate you," Spike muttered.

He didn't hear his Sire's teasing answer of "I hate you, too" in response.

All he heard was the sounds of the night.



Part Four





Angel opened his eyes slowly and immediately wished he hadn't when the blinding pain hit him. He silently groaned as he tried to focus. He instantly wondered if the conk he'd gotten on the head had jarred something loose.

He was in a grassy field, and there were green hills as far as he could see. He could also see black dots scattered around, indicating possibly trees or animals. There wasn't a single building, alleyway, or automobile in sight.

He heard what sounded to him like a demented goat to his right and turned his head to see a Komodo Dragon heading straight for him, its pinkish-red tongue tasting the air. Angel pushed himself to his feet, wincing as his body protested, then darted around the large, potted tree he'd been leaning against when he came back to consciousness.

A large, potted starfruit tree. "What the...?"

The dragon bayed at him again, the potted tree the only object between them, and Angel knew he had to get away from it. His body hurt too much as it was, he didn't need it to be counteracting the dragon's poisoned bite, too. Taking a purposeful breath, he took off at a quick clip in the opposite direction of the unicorn.

The unicorn?!?

Angel spun around so quickly, he had to throw his arms out to keep his balance. His mouth dropped open unconsciously as he stared at the white horse-like creature grazing on the thick, green grass just past where the potted starfruit tree sat on the ground. He could see the Komodo Dragon heading down the hill, away from both he and the unicorn.

The unicorn raised its head and looked right at him. Incredible awe filled the vampire. Wisdom and magick radiated in the dark eyes of the creature, and Angel knew he was looking at the real thing, not a figment of his imagination. He'd read about unicorns, of course, but to see one of the magickal beasts...

Angel blinked and shook his head, breaking the unicorn's spell of enchantment. He knew he couldn't go up to the beautiful beast -- he was far from virginal or pure of heart -- and he didn't wish to chase the unicorn away.

Purposely turning, he let his gaze wander of the hills again, wondering where the heck he was. He remembered leaving the office to go after Spike, trying to calculate how far his Childe would have gotten on foot in the time that had elapsed between when the blond had stormed out and Angel's going after Spike. He had gotten halfway up the block when something hard hit him on the back of the neck, then nothing.

"And here I am in Oz," Angel said to himself. He looked up. "Which is located somewhere underground."

Where there would normally be a sky, there was rock. The surface was chipped, but dry, indicating he wasn't too far beneath the surface. He didn't see any support beams, which meant that wherever he was located was a natural formation, or heavy magicks were involved to keep what had to be an enormous cave from collapsing in on itself.

Angel sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. Just great, he thought. Spike was probably back in Sunnydale and more than likely pissed off at him for not following. He dropped his arm and looked around him once again. Somehow he had to figure out where he was and how to get out.

He pushed up his sleeve and glanced at his watch. It was 10:15 on the 29th, which meant he had a good seven hours until the sun...

Angel suddenly stared at his watch much the same way he had stared at the unicorn. Then he uttered a long string of curses in every language he knew.

It had been the 24th when Spike had stormed out of the office.

*****

Wherever Angel was, it was a veritable cornucopia of the exotic and mythical. The dark-haired vampire couldn't believe his eyes each time he ran across another creature or potted plant that was supposed to be extinct or non-existent. And the underground cavern was enormous. He had yet to find the perimeter and he'd been walking for hours. Of course, he continuously stopped to gape, so that had an effect on the time he was keeping.

Angel was also ravenously hungry, which wasn't a good thing for a ensouled vampire to be in a wondrous area such as the one he found himself in. He couldn't just walk up to the baby wooly mammoth he'd recently passed and ask if he could drink a few pints to sate his hunger. Somehow he was going to have to find some source of blood before his control started to erode.

The dark-haired vampire paused by the edge of a pond and looked down into the water. From the non-stagnation of the surface, he figured it must be fed from an underground water source. He crouched down beside it and was about to test the water temperature when a face appeared where his normally would be if he had a reflection.

Startled, Angel reared back slightly. The face broke the surface of the pond and the vampire found himself on the receiving end of splash. Light, airy giggles floated to him as he wiped his wet face with the back of his sleeve.

"Silly, silly," an airy voice said. "You look silly."

"Thanks a lot," Angel said. He focused on the small, short-haired figure bobbing in the water and recognized her as yet another creature he'd never thought he'd meet -- a water pixie.

Curious and playful, water pixies averaged from two to three feet in height and had webbed feet and hands to allow them to easily swim. They had both gills and lungs, and had slender, streamlined bodies. They also had human-like faces and genitalia, but a shimmering, scale-like texture to their skin.

"Who are you?" the pixie asked.

"Angel," Angel replied. "Who are you?"

"Angel," the pixie replied. She giggled.

"How can there be two Angels?" Angel asked her.

"How can there be two Angels?" she repeated, then giggled again.

Angel sighed.

The pixie sighed.

Great, Angel thought. He had a mimic. The last time someone did this to him, he'd thrown Spike onto the floor and fucked the blond into unconsciousness. A smirk appeared on his face from the memory.

The pixie smirked, too.

But Angel wasn't about to let some two-foot little creature get the best of him. "I know the way out of here," he said.

"I know the way out of here," she repeated.

"I'm going to show my new friend the way," he said.

"I'm going to show my new friend the way," she said.

"Right now." Angel held out his hand.

"Right now," the pixie repeated, climbing out of the water and taking his hand in her tiny one.

Angel swooped her up and set her over his shoulders under a smattering of giggles. The pixie grabbed his hair with her free hand and he winced. No one messed with his hair, not even his Childe, unless they were being intimate with one another.

"I'm Belle," the pixie said.

"Hello, Belle," Angel said.

"Go left," she instructed, kicking her tiny feet against his chest.

"Yes, ma'am," he said. Belle giggled again and Angel found himself chuckling as well.

Just when he thought his unlife couldn't get any stranger, it always did.



NC-17 Version
PG-13 Version 1