"An imp," Giles said, holding up a hand-drawn etching in a book to show the group gathered
around his living room. "The creature is approximately one foot American in size, has dark red
skin, leathery bat-like wings, sharp needle-like teeth, a long tail with a stinger, and thick, dark red
"That little thing took Angel?" Buffy asked skeptically.
"Do not be fooled by its size, Buffy," Giles said, turning the book back towards him. "The imp is
exceptionally strong and can lift weights of-of up to two tons easily."
"I think Deadboy weighs a little less than that," Xander said. "But you'd have to ask Junior if
that's true or not."
"Xander," Willow hissed at him. "That's not nice."
"Now, the question of the hour is -- why did this imp kidnap Angel?" Oz said.
"Couldn't get a date?" Xander suggested. Buffy smacked him. "Ow."
"Xander, just be glad Spike's not here," Buffy said. "Or I wouldn't stop him from ripping your
"An imp's sole purpose in life is to-to collect the rare and unusual," Giles explained.
"Angel's rare and unusual?" Willow said.
"Personally, I'd classify him more as hulking and broody myself," Oz commented.
"I still don't get it," Buffy said. "Why Angel?"
"What does Angel possess that no other vampire in the world that we know of possesses which
would, indeed, make him a-a-a rarity?" Giles asked pointedly.
"Hair that could stay perfect under a nuclear attack?" Xander suggested. Buffy hit him again.
"Come on, I know you were thinking it, too!"
"Hey," Buffy said softly, standing on the ladder outside of the playfort. "Mind if I join you?"
"If I told you to bugger off, would you?" Spike asked, not bothering to look in her direction. He
took another drag off the last cigarette that he had on him.
"No," Buffy replied, climbing up inside the enclosed fort. She sat down beside the blond
vampire, pulling her knees to her chest like his were. "Got some news. Angel was kidnapped by
"Why?" Spike asked with a slight, plaintive hitch to his voice.
"Because he has a soul," Buffy answered.
Spike frowned. "What's that got to do with anything?"
"Imps are collectors of rare things," Buffy said, shrugging her shoulders slightly. "I guess a
souled vampire falls under that category."
"He was rare without it," Spike murmured quietly.
Buffy reached over and put her hand on his arm. "We'll find him, Spike. Don't worry."
Spike snorted. "Who says I'm worried, Slayer? The poof can get himself in and out of shit just
fine by his bloody lonesome."
Her lips curled up in a knowing smile, but she refrained from comment. "Well, I just came to let
you know we're heading down to LA once we get the green light from Willow. She's printing
out possible imp hidey-holes as we speak."
"Right," he said. "Tell the witch to take her time. I'm in no soddin' hurry to ride off to rescue the
Buffy shook her head and climbed out of the playfort. "See you back at Giles's."
Spike waited until he could no longer hear her footsteps, then took another drag off his cigarette
before climbing out himself.
"Angelus, you pillock, you'd better appreciate all the crap I go through because I love you..."
"How are we going to do this?" Buffy asked. She, Oz, Giles and Spike were all in Oz's van, with
the werewolf driving. Xander and Willow were riding down to LA in Xander's car so that the
brunette could stay and visit his girlfriend longer after arranging to be off of work the next few
Giles spread out one of the maps Willow had printed on his lap. "Except for Spike, all of us can
start searching immediately when we get there. If we divide up into small groups, we should be
able to expediently canvas these areas."
"If we have enough cars," Buffy said. "Sheesh, there are a lot of possible places an imp can hide
"We shall start with the smallest places first," Giles said. "That way we can eliminate them more
quickly. We do not have an estimate as to the age of the imp, nor how active he or-or-or she has
"It's a good thing imps are territorial, or you might've had multiple imp-caves to search," Oz
"Very true," Giles said, returning his attention to the map.
Buffy glanced back at Spike, who was leaning against the side of the van out of the late morning
sunlight. His expression alternated continuously between worry and anger, and he hadn't
stopped bouncing his foot the entire trip thus far. "When we find it, we'll have Oz come back
and pick you up, Spike," she told the blond.
"Whatever," Spike said. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, wishing the search was
over already and his Sire was back with him where the big poof belonged. Even if it meant
apologizing to wanker, he'd do it in an instant if it meant Angel would be at the apartment when
he got there.
Spike hated when he and Angel fought. If his Sire wasn't such an anal-retentive killjoy they'd
probably get along fine all the time. Ah, but making up was the bloody bollocks, he thought, the
corner of his mouth twitching upwards into a small smile. The last big fight they had ended up
with more damage being done to Spike's apartment while they were making up than during the
fight itself. That was, the last big fight before...
The blond vampire clenched his teeth together. It was Angel's own fault he got kidnapped, Spike
thought. And it was his fault they'd fought. The prick shouldn't have told that twat anything
about him or their relationship. What he had with his Sire was private and special to him. He had
waited a long time for Angelus to love him back and he didn't want anything to fuck it up, which
the chapter in that book had the potential of doing.
Why couldn't Angel leave well enough alone?, Spike thought. Why couldn't the soulful wanker
just love him without making it into a grand affair? It wasn't as if he entirely minded when Angel
kissed him briefly or put an arm around his shoulder when they were with their friends. They'd
gotten caught making out by the others when they were supposed to be helping.
But they already knew he was head over heels in love with the stupid toff. He trusted them. It
was the rest of the world that he didn't trust. Just the thought of other vampires learning about
his relationship with his Sire sent a fission of dread down his spine. It was a weakness that could
be exploited. Case in point, the book came out and Angel had been kidnapped. How many
more times would this very thing happen because of that friggin' book?
Damn it, Angelus, Spike thought, growling slightly under his non-existent breath. The pillock
was going to regret getting kidnapped and making him feel like a hapless sod.
Angel felt like he'd been walking in circles, which was possible with the playful pixie riding his
shoulders. He didn't think they were going to end up back where they started.
Belle's curiosity was at least keeping his mind off his hunger. She'd asked him everything from
why his name was Angel to why the grass was green. Currently, he was regaling her with stories
on his favorite subject -- his Childe.
"Spike has this shampoo that he really likes," he told her. Which was true. He and Spike both
were very particular about their haircare products. It was a failing of most vampires because of
the lack of a reflection. "Lucky Kentucky Mane, Tail and Body Shampoo. 'Discovered by a
Horse Trainer, Used by Everyone.'"
Belle giggled. "He uses horse shampoo?"
"Silly, huh?" Angel said. "What I want to know is why the trainer tried his horses' shampoo to
begin with. Horses are big, smelly animals."
"Maybe the trainer was a big, smelly human," Belle suggested.
Angel laughed. "Maybe," he agreed. "To go on, Spike likes this strange shampoo and I always
make sure I have it at my place for him. Well, one night I was in a mood, and I decided to pull a
prank on him.
"Sometimes Cordelia grabs a shower at my place after a messy case if it's too much trouble to
take her back to her apartment, and she uses this very sweet, strawberry smelling stuff, which I
also keep on hand for her. In my strange mood, I decided to hide all the shampoo and soap in
my apartment except for Cordy's."
Angel remembered that he pulled the gag on a night that Spike had gotten exceptionally filthy,
leaving no choice in the matter of taking a shower. It had been so hard to keep a straight face
when his Childe asked where all the shampoo and soap was. The undisguised panic that flashed
over Spike's features when he'd said that Cordelia's was the only bottle left had him digging his
fingernails into his palms and biting his inner cheek to keep from bursting out in laughter.
"So Spike reluctantly used Cordelia's shampoo and the scent of strawberries was so strong on
him that when Kate stopped by she asked if she could have a piece of whatever delicious
smelling pie I had made. My Childe hadn't been that embarrassed since the time I depantsed
him at Buffy's twenty-first birthday party."
Spike had also paid Angel back for that embarrassing moment by putting a sticker that read "I'm
an ass" on the backside of his tuxedo pants before they went to an extremely important black-tie
reception. He hadn't learned until half the night was over with that his Childe had done it.
However, Spike had looked so exceptionally handsome in his classic-cut tuxedo and had pretty
much behaved himself for most of the evening, Angel had only laughed.
"Looky!" Belle exclaimed suddenly, kicking her feet lightly on his chest. "There it is!"
Angel barely saw the opening, and if Belle hadn't been with him, he probably would have missed
it all together. Whatever artificial illumination was lighting the huge cavern created the optical
illusion that the chipped, rock wall that he'd finally come upon was solid. But because of Belle,
he could make out the break where the rock surface didn't line up quite right.
The dark-haired vampire swung the water pixie down from his shoulders. He crouched down
and met her pale green eyes. "Belle, would you like to come with me?" he asked.
"Will you take me home?" Belle asked in return. "I miss my home and my family."
"Of course," Angel replied.
"Goodie!" Belle danced around in a circle, her webbed hands thrown in the air with joy. "I'm
going home! I'm going home!"
Angel straightened and scooped Belle back up again, this time settling her on his hip as if she
were a child rather than a two hundred year old water pixie. Then again, she still was a child in
It didn't take long after that for the dark-haired vampire to reach the surface. The cave-like
structure exited out into the basement of an abandoned apartment complex that he'd passed
every time he went to Doyle's apartment. Angel immediately realized that the underground
cavern was just beneath the tunnels that led around the city and probably stretched over several
city blocks, which meant there definitely was some pretty powerful magicks at work to keep the
above-ground area from collapsing into the earth every time there was an earthquake.
The sun was high in the sky when Angel came out and he was a bit singed as he darted across the
ten foot alleyway separating the buildings. He went to the basement and found the tunnel access,
then he and Belle were on their way home.
"I'll take you home as soon as the sun sets," Angel told Belle as he and the water pixie entered
his apartment from the tunnel. "But until then, how does a bathtub full of water sound?"
"Wet," Belle said with a grin.
Angel chuckled and closed the grate, then led her towards the bathroom. His step faltered when
he entered the bedroom and found his Childe clutching his pillow, laying fully clothed and asleep
on the bed.
"Who's that?" Belle asked, standing on her toes to see over the edge of the bed.
"Spike," he replied, a tender note in his voice.
"He's pretty," the pixie told him.
"Yes, he is," Angel agreed. "Come on, let's get you in that water."
A few minutes later with Belle happily submerged in his bathtub, Angel closed the bathroom
door behind him and quietly walked over to the bedside. Spike was still asleep, a frown etched
on his Childe's handsome face, and the dark-haired vampire wondered how long he'd been at the
apartment. Angel had been in that cavern since Monday night, and it was currently Saturday
With a frown of his own, Angel left the bedroom to feed and wash up in the sink since his bath
was being occupied by a water pixie. He carried his discarded clothing back to the bedroom with
him, putting his shoes neatly against the wall, the dirty things into the hamper and then sliding
into a clean pair of shorts. He shook his head when he saw where Spike had kicked his own
boots and quickly set them up by his before picking his Childe's duster up off the end of the bed
and hanging it up in the wardrobe closet.
Angel's brow furrowed when he saw his hanging clothes. They were all out of order. Someone
had gone through his things. Then he remembered he'd been AWOL for the past several days,
so it was a logical assumption that his things had been gone through in order to help find him. At
least, he hoped that was the reason.
Purposely shutting the wardrobe closet door, the dark-haired vampire walked back over to the
bed and climbed in beside his Childe. He untucked Spike's shirt and slid his hand under it along
the cool skin as he spooned his lover's back. He brushed his lips over the side of the younger
vampire's neck, lightly grazing the area with his blunt teeth.
Spike stirred slightly. "Angelus?" the blond asked in a sleep-filled voice.
"Mm-hmm." Angel placed a soft kiss behind his Childe's earlobe. "Unless you have a second
lover I'm not aware of," he whispered.
Spike slowly became aware of the fact that he wasn't dreaming, that his Sire was really behind
him, that it wasn't a figment of his imagination nuzzling his neck. With more speed than he
normally had when he first woke up, Spike turned so he was facing Angel and captured the older
man's lips with his own.
His fingers dug into the back of Angel's scalp, holding the other vampire's mouth to his, as he
desperately kissed his Sire. Angelus was back, safe and sound and in the bed with him, kissing
him back. Relief flowed through Spike that his Sire wasn't dead like he'd feared.
Spike tore his mouth away from Angel's and sat up, yanking his shirt off over his head. His jeans
quickly joined the black tee on the floor, as did Angel's shorts. Later there'd be time for
questions and anger for making him feel like a nancyboy, right now he needed his Sire more than
he needed blood to live.
Angel pulled Spike close to him, loving the feel of the younger man's strong body against his.
Their mouths met again, and they kissed with a ferocious passion, bruising each other's lips. Angel was pressed flush against Spike, chest to chest, his forearms resting on
either side of the blond's head when he finally broke the kiss.
Raising his head, Angel opened his eyes and met the molten blue orbs of his Childe. "I'm sorry,
Will," he said gruffly, not wanting to have anything clouding their lovemaking.
"Forgiven," Spike said in an equally rough voice. "Now shut up and fuck me."
Angel's lips curled up into a smile, then he captured Spike's lips again.
Spike slid one of his hands up into the back of the other man's hair, loving the feel of the slightly
damp, ungelled locks. Angel's hair was so soft, and he rarely got to run his fingers through it
when it wasn't gooped up. His Sire's thick, dark, newly washed and unprimped hair was a
weakness of his, because it was so rare for Angel not to be exceptionally well-groomed. As
pansyish as it sounded, it was an unbelievably intimate thing for him to be able to see his
Angelus slightly imperfect and to do something as simple as run his hands through that imperfect
He purred in the back of his throat, combining it with a sigh of contentment as his tongue danced with Angel's.
Spike went over the edge first. Angel reveled
in the hoarse gasp Spike made as he tore his mouth away, his head arching back, exposing his
neck. The dark-haired vampire licked his
lips once, his eyes fastened on the sight of his lover's pale throat.
Angel's fangs descended and he growled deep in his chest. Spike immediately tilted his head to
the side, baring his neck completely, and the growl grew louder just before Angel sank his
canines into the tender flesh. His Childe's blood filled his mouth and he followed Spike into ecstasy.
Spike ran his fingers over Angel's hair as his Sire nuzzled his neck, lapping at the puncture
wounds the older man had made. A peaceful lethargy settled over him, and he decided to screw
the questions. Who cared where Angel had been as long as he was back now? And they had
fucked and made up, too, so there was no hurry for him to ever move from where he was at that
Besides, Spike thought, a lazy rumbling reaching his ears. Didn't he read somewhere once:
'always forgive your enemies -- nothing annoys them so much?' If the kidnappers didn't get
any credit or blame or retaliation, they'd hopefully be annoyed enough that they'd find another
victim and leave his Sire alone. If they didn't, well, he'd just have to go and rip their throats out.
But not right now. Right now he was content to lay still and run his hand through the other
man's soft hair. Angel was with him, he'd had a great orgasm, and his Sire had ungooped hair.
There was absolutely nothing he needed to do.
"Spike, we found the imp's...woah," Oz said, stopping in the doorway to the bedroom. "Looks
like it doesn't matter."
Angel lifted his head and slid back into his human mask before looking over his shoulder at the
werewolf. "Hey, Oz," he greeted calmly.
"Hey. Guess I'd better tell the others you're not of the missing variety anymore," Oz said,
turning around and walking away.
"Oh bugger," Spike grumbled. "Now the whole bloody posse is going to be here soon."
Angel chuckled and pressed a quick kiss to Spike's lips before moving off of him. "I take it you
know who whacked me over the head and dumped me in the middle of a cavern beneath
"Yeah, some soddin' creature called an imp," Spike answered, getting out of bed. "Seems the
little shits collect things that are rare. Why it took you, I haven't a friggin' idea."
"Very funny," Angel said dryly.
"I know, aren't I?" Spike grinned unabashedly at him before heading to the bathroom.
"Um, Spike-" Angel started to say, but his Childe had already opened the bathroom door.
A second later, Spike re-exited the bathroom, a frown on his face. "Are you aware of the fact
there's some tiny chit splashin' around in your tub?"
"Yes," Angel replied.
"Oh... Right," Spike said. "Are you also aware that she asked me if I neighed or not?"
"Well, do you?" Angel asked in reply with a small chuckle.
The smile that crossed the younger vampire's face was pure Spike. "Only if you ride me hard
and put me away wet, mate."
Angel crossed the short distance to Spike, giving his Childe a lascivious grin of his own. He put
his hands around Spike's waist and pulled the younger man up against him, their still-nude
bodies pressed intimately together. "I tink that kin be arranged, me boy," he said.
"Angelus, you sound like the Lucky Charm's chap on acid," Spike said, his blue eyes twinkling
"Well, then," Angel said, deepening his brogue as he reached down and cupped Spike's rear with
both hands. "Let it be known, 'tis the white moons that I be likin' the best."
"I wonder if it's too late to get the imp to take you back."