Title: Male Bonding, In Theory
Author: Dusk (dusk@goldserve.net)
Fandom: Angel
Pairing: A/m (Angel/Host) [kind of, again]
Rating: PG
Archive: Songs of Mercy, AngelSlash, RareSlash, Slashrealms, LoveLorne
Disclaimer: The boys aren't mine. This world I play with is not mine. No profit is made, though much fun is had.
Series/sequel: Sequel to 'Losing Faith'. You don't have to have read that one to get this one, just know that previously, Angel got drunk and depressed and slept with the Host, except he didn't. (Oh, just go read it [g])
Summary: Angel gets angry, and drunk, and sleeps with the Host, except he doesn't.
Posted: August '01


***

Angel sat in the darkness. The total lack of expression on his face would have told anybody who knew him just how annoyed he was, had there been anyone there to see it. As it was, Cordelia had walked out, announcing she wasn't paid enough to put up with his attitude and would return when he was capable of acting like a civilised person. Wesley had tactfully murmured something about errands to run and retreated, and Gunn had bluntly told him to get over it and had left on some unknown mission of his own.

All of which just made him more irritated, and he planned to spend the night sitting there in the lobby, in the dark, and thinking about just how irritated he was. It was a good plan. It kept his brooding skills sharp. It meant he wouldn't get the chance to alienate his friends for good, and it meant that he probably wouldn't be tempted to kill anyone.

The original source of irritation had become irrelevant. Each hour brought something new to fuel it... unhelpful snitches... Seers whose visions were so vague you had to be actually insane to divine any meaning in them... humans who felt close enough to him to say exactly what they thought of him.

He didn't want to know what they thought of him. Being introspective shouldn't be a crime punishable by sarcasm.

The lights flicked on without warning and he frowned in the direction of the lightswitch, and, incidentally, the door.

"Angel, will you *please* snap out of it already?"

So much for his plans. Already he was feeling the urge to kill someone. A particular someone who had no business marching into his hotel and telling him what to do.

The Host stood with his arms crossed. He didn't look happy.

"No. And what are you doing here anyway?" Angel said, trying to look as intimidating as he could in human visage. Maybe he'd get lucky and the demon would leave.

It was not his lucky day.

"What am I doing here? Please. I could feel your brooding funk clear across town. Set off the most *hideous* migraine, by the way, really *not* appreciating that." He walked towards Angel, obviously having come straight from the bar. He had a bag slung over one shoulder, wrinkling his jacket. Angel maliciously decided not to point that out. "In fact," the demon continued, "I wouldn't be surprised if every psychic in LA is on their way here to yell at you."

"Decided you'd beat the rush and get here first?" Angel said, sitting and not looking at him.

"Actually, since I couldn't block it out, I came to stop it. Thereby possibly saving your life from a horde of enraged clairvoyants." He sat down opposite Angel without waiting for an invitation, since he knew one wasn't forthcoming.

"Did you not get that I'd rather be alone right now?"

"Pffft," Lorne said dismissively. "What you want don't count anymore."

"Great," Angel muttered to himself.

"So. You got me here, and I'm going to stay until you cheer up."

"You'll have a long wait."

"Which is why I brought this." He opened the bag for Angel to see.

Angel frowned, confusion momentarily overriding his need to brood.

"You don't drink beer," he said.

"No, I don't," Lorne agreed.

"*I* don't drink beer," Angel pointed out.

"I know. But it's an essential part of the male bonding ritual. It works like this, see. We drink the beer. You confide in me, albeit in terms of gross exaggeration, what the problem is, and everything sorts itself out. No more brooding for you, no more killer migraine for me." He sat back with a smile, apparently thinking this explained everything.

Angel disagreed. "Neither of us drinks beer. And for that matter, I don't think that ritual applies to vampires and demons."

"And believe me, I'd be happier with a nice cocktail, but that's not the point. I know you talk when you're drunk, so drunk you have to get."

"But I don't want to bond with you," Angel tried.

"Yeah, but remember that part where I said you didn't get a choice?" Lorne pointed out with a smile. "I'm not going anywhere."

Angel stared at him for a long time. The demon grinned easily at him.

He sighed and held his hand out. Lorne threw him a beer.

"There's a good boy," he said smugly.

***

Angel leaned back over the couch, looking up at the ceiling. Far off, he thought fuzzily. Had it always been so far away?

"Talk," the Host said for the fifteenth time.

Angel shook his head.

"Please?"

Angel just stared up. He tilted his head slightly, watching how the ceiling swooped and billowed. He didn't think it was supposed to do that, but he couldn't quite remember.

"Angel. Angel, Angel, Angel. ANGEL!"

He frowned and looked around as his name finally registered.

"Huh?"

Lorne shook his head. "Never mind. Have another beer. Oh, they're all gone."

"Yeah. They don't last long, do they?"

Lorne looked at the small pile of empty cans on the floor beside him, and the considerably larger pile on the floor, couch, table and general vicinity of Angel.

"No," he agreed. "Beer was a bad idea. Next time, we'll go straight for the vodka, okay?"

"Mmmm," Angel said. "In the cupboard." He waved vaguely towards one end of the room and Lorne went to investigate. He returned with the bottle and slouched down onto the couch next to Angel.

"So. Gonna talk yet?"

"Nope," Angel told the ceiling.

Lorne pulled a face and took a swig of the vodka.

"You suck at male bonding," he informed Angel crossly.

"Toldja it didn't apply to vampires," Angel said.

"Yeah, well, it's gonna if we have to stay here all night."

"I was going to do that anyway."

***

Angel stared down the neck of the bottle. "What, you drank it all already?"

Lorne looked at him in disbelief. "No," he said pointedly.

"Well, somebody did."

"I wonder who?"

"Guess we'll never know." Angel held the bottle upside down over his open mouth for a few seconds, ever hopeful, then carefully placed it on the floor, where it fell over.

"I think I'm getting tired of alcohol," he announced. "It doesn't do *anything*."

"It gets you drunk...." Lorne pointed out.

"But does it? Does it really?"

"Um, yes?"

"Huh," Angel said, considering that. "Are you going to give up yet?"

"No."

"So you're just going to keep nagging me until I talk?"

"You got it, buddy. Except I don't nag. I persuade."

"You nag."

"I do not nag!"

"You *nag*," Angel insisted. "You nag like... like a fishwife."

"What the heck is a fishwife?"

"I really have no idea. But they nag. They're famous for it, I think."

"Your problem is that you stopped thinking hours ago."

"Stop nagging," Angel said with a smirk.

"Bite me," Lorne muttered. "Obnoxious drunk."

"Don't want to bite you. Demon blood tastes... weird."

"That was *not* an invitation!"

"Sounded like one," Angel said with a slightly lopsided leer.

"Drop dead."

"Already did."

"Sheesh. Whose stupid idea was this, anyway?"

Angel started laughing.

***

"I'm gonna sing at you!" Lorne insisted.

"Are not!"

"No, I really am. Listen." He opened his mouth.

"Stop!" Angel shouted.

"I didn't even start yet," Lorne pointed out.

"No, I mean you can't sing like that."

"Like...? like drunk, like out loud, like what? And I can too."

"In the dark."

Lorne looked around at the brightly lit room. "I wouldn't call this the dark, as such," he said carefully.

Angel got up and turned the light off. "See?" he said.

"No, I don't see, because you just turned the light off. Jackass." Lorne stood with his arms crossed, refusing to move. He listened to Angel moving about the room. "What, *exactly*, are you doing?"

"Finding some light," Angel called from across the room. There were sounds of cupboards being opened and closed.

"Did you forget where the lightswitch was? It's over there," he pointed in what he hoped was the right direction.

"Wrong kind of light," Angel explained. There was a moment of silence and then a spark of light. He held up the lit candle. "See?"

"Okay, a candle. Woohoo. Why?"

"Spotlight," Angel said, climbing over the back of the couch with the candle held aloft.

"Why do I need a spotlight?"

"To sing in," Angel said, as though it should have been obvious. "You can't sing without a spotlight."

"Uhuh. Well, that's a pretty crappy spotlight."

Angel frowned at the candle. "Yeah, now I think about it." He leaned over and picked the empty vodka bottle up, and wedged the candle into the neck. Setting it on the coffee table, he wandered off, returning a moment later with a proper torch. He climbed onto the couch, holding his arms out for balance, and switched it on, aiming it at an empty patch of floor.

"There you go," he said.

"There I go what?"

"Your spotlight. You can sing now."

"I don't want to any more."

Angel frowned. "Well, you have to."

"Why?"

"Because you said you were going to, and now you have a spotlight and you have to sing."

"That doesn't even make sense!" Lorne protested.

"Does to me."

"Like that's going to reassure me. Nope, not going to."

"Sing," Angel suggested darkly.

"No!"

"SING!"

***

Cordelia opened the door cautiously.

"It's too soon," she insisted.

Gunn pushed her through the door. "It's plenty of time," he said.

Wesley followed them through the door, then stopped as he looked around.

"Cordelia... exactly what kind of mood did you leave Angel in last night?"

"Pissed off. Broody. The usual. He's probably still sulking. We should go, and come back another day. It'll be safer."

"I don't think so, somehow. Take a look." He gestured towards the couch and the three of them made their way over.

Cordelia crossed her arms. "God, not *again*," she said in disgust.

"Could be worse. Asleep is better than brooding, right? Right?" Gunn looked at his friends when neither of them answered him, then back at the sight in front of them.

The Host lay on his back, one arm thrown behind his head, the other spilling off the side of the couch. He was asleep. Angel was also asleep, face down on the demon's stomach, his legs sticking out over the arm of the couch. It was very much the pose of someone who has fallen over and simply not bothered to get up. He was barefoot and somewhere along the line had lost his shirt, too.

Surrounding them were a number of empty beer cans, a burnt-out candle, a torch, half a cup of congealing blood and several items of clothing.

"Guess they had a binge?" Cordelia suggested. She prodded at Angel's bare foot. No reaction. "Maybe we should leave them to wake up in their own time...."

Gunn picked up the cup of blood, grimaced in distaste, and flicked a few drops towards the sleeping pair. One landed on the Host's wrist and without opening his eyes, Angel reached out, grabbed his arm and licked it off.

He opened his eyes. "Yuck," he said with feeling. Congealed. Ugh.

Lorne was staring down at him. "Yuck," he agreed, pulling his hand away. "Don't do that again."

"Not gonna."

"Oh, and Angel?"

Angel looked up at him. Lorne waved his free hand towards his own face.

"Might want to take care of that."

Angel reached up to his own forehead, wondering just when he'd vamped out and why he couldn't remember doing it. He shook his head and returned to human appearance.

"Better. Mind getting off me?"

Angel more or less fell off the couch, and hauled himself into a sitting position, only then realising they weren't alone.

"Guys?" he said in confusion.

They looked down at him. He looked back.

"You in a better mood now?" Gunn asked, standing with his arms crossed.

"I don't know," Angel muttered. "Come back and ask me tomorrow."

Behind him, Lorne attempted to sit up and failed. He craned his head back and examined the silver bracelet around his wrist. Twisting his head around further, he traced the chain back and tugged experimentally. The other half of the cuffs were locked around the pole of the lamp that stood there.

"Think you can let me out of these things?" he suggested.

Angel nodded and hauled himself to his feet, swaying slightly. "No, I'm fine," he assured Cordelia when she made a move to help him. "Really, I'm...." His words were cut off as he tripped over a can and fell onto his face. "I'm hurting," he finished quietly. Wesley and Gunn both reached down and hauled him to his feet.

"Thanks," he muttered.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Wesley asked.

"Just a little unsteady," he assured them both, and carefully made his way over to the desk, opening drawers and rummaging through them.

"Angel..." Lorne said threateningly, "...if you don't unlock these right *now*...."

"I'll be right there, I just have to find the key...." Angel muttered, sifting through a pile of scraps of paper, pencils, paperclips and general office debris.

"You shouldn't have locked them in the first place," Lorne pointed out.

"Well, you shouldn't have said what you did about my singing."

"Then you shouldn't have made me listen to it!" the demon shouted at him, then shook his head. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded," he tried to explain. "Really. You took it all wrong."

Angel looked up, his eyebrows raised. "Oh? And in what twisted universe is 'sounds like a flehegna being beaten to death with a yhnghr' a compliment?"

Cordelia clapped a hand over her mouth, not quite stifling a laugh. Angel glared at her and she took a step back, moving behind Wesley. Wesley smiled at her.

"You don't even know what a flehegna *is*!" Lorne insisted.

"I don't have to!"

"What *is* a... flehegna?" Wesley asked curiously.

"A very ugly beast of burden," Lorne muttered, craning his neck over the top of the couch, trying to see what was taking Angel so long.

"Which would make a 'yhnghr' what? Something sharp and pointy?" Gunn suggested.

"Uhhh... no. It's a little domesticated hairless rabbit-thing. I had one as a pet once. They scream like crazy if they're not happy. Angel, get over here, *now*!"

Wesley was laughing now. "I have to admit, Angel, the sound that image conjures up...."

Angel glared at him and he shut up.

Cordelia picked a tiny bottle up out of the debris on the floor. "Hey, this is mine!" she said indignantly.

"I told him that," Angel said. "He wouldn't listen." He located the key under a pile of old bills and came back over, leaning over the scowling demon to unlock the cuffs.

"I do apologise, Cordelia," Lorne said with dignity. "It was necessary at the time."

"How is it *ever* necessary to paint somebody's toenails while they're passed out?" Angel asked with some measure of scepticism, still trying to remember how the cuffs unlocked. He looked up at the three mortals. "Stop that!"

All three looked up guiltily from staring at his feet.

Angel got the cuffs undone at last. Lorne shook his hand, trying to get rid of the pins and needles, and then slugged Angel in the stomach. Angel oofed quietly and collapsed on top of him. He pushed the very heavy vampire onto the floor and sat up.

"You weren't passed out. In fact, you were giggling, as I recall. Making fun on *my* nails. Totally uncalled for." He stared down at his own nails with a frown. "And you chipped the polish when you put the cuffs on, you creep."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Angel said, utterly unrepentant, from his position on the floor. He debated whether he could just go to sleep there, instead of standing up... since that had gone so well the last time. He oofed again as Lorne stood on him as he got up. "I hate you," he grumbled, reaching vaguely for an ankle as they passed his head and missing. "I hate you, and your beer, and your *lies* about my giving you a migraine, and your nail polish and your bonding and your suit and..." he ran out breath as well as things to hate and finished off with a muttered, "... and everything."

"Yeah, I love you too," Lorne said good-naturedly as he wandered off to the kitchen.

"Come back so I can hate you some more," Angel insisted. He got to his feet slowly, waving off assistance from the human contingent. The male ones, anyway. The female was too busy laughing at him. He scowled at her, which made no difference at all.

"Hate you too," he muttered.

Lorne returned, pushed him down onto the couch, and handed him a mug.

"Shut up and drink that," he advised, sitting down next to him with a mug of his own.

"Hate you," Angel mumbled into his mug. He took a cautious sip and discovered, irritatingly enough, that the blood had been heated to perfect temperature and consistency, giving him no legitimate complaint.

"This mug is ugly," he said, making a token gesture. "You've got my favourite one."

"You don't have a favourite mug," Cordelia pointed out. "I broke it weeks ago."

"I have a *new* favourite," Angel insisted. "That one."

They all looked at the mug in question. It was pink and had an image of the PowerPuff Girls on it.

"This is yours?" Lorne asked with a smile.

Angel tried to work out how to say 'no' without completely contradicting himself. Failing, he settled for sullen silence.

Lorne handed it over.

Angel took it with bad grace, took a mouthful and promptly spat it out again.

"That's disgusting," he said, handing it back. "Ugh. What the hell is it? Is it even edible?" He picked up his own mug again and took a long swallow, trying to get rid of the foul taste.

"Probably not, for those of human extraction," Lorne said calmly, drinking it with every sign of enjoyment.

Angel glared at him and said nothing. He looked up at the three people observing all this in silence. "*What*?"

Two of them took a step back at the force of his low-grade hostility, the other just glared right back.

"We was just wondering how long y'all been married, is all," Gunn said.

Angel stared at him, trying to work out what he was talking about. "Huh?"

"Well... you're just... um," Cordelia attempted, and stopped.

Angel stared at her.

"Go away," he said eventually, giving up. "Please. And you too," he added to Lorne.

"What are you doing here, anyway?" Cordelia asked the demon. He gave her a slightly brittle smile.

"Came to cheer him up."

"And look how well that worked," Angel mumbled.

"Well, you were so miserable. What was I supposed to do, let you suffer?"

"It's what anyone with an instinct for self-preservation would have done," Cordelia pointed out.

"Which I seem to be lacking."

"I didn't want to bond with you," Angel insisted. "You made me drink beer and then vodka and I have no idea what else, and I think my skull is about to fall off, and then when I wake up you hit me, tread on me and make me drink pond-scum. These are not the actions of a nice person."

"Nor is chaining me to a lamp, so I guess we're even."

"How, exactly, does that make us even?"

Lorne twisted round, leaning against Angel's shoulder and hanging his feet over the end of the couch.

"You did bad things, I did bad things. So what. Even," he explained lazily.

"Stop doing that."

Lorne ignored him and continued to consume his drink. "All you need is a few drinks and someone to talk to. Someone to fall asleep on, in fact, which is where I come in. For some reason," he looked over at Angel's human team, "he doesn't show any inclination to tear me into little pieces, like he does with you when he's testy. I'm not sure why. Must be my natural charms." He grinned.

"I show every inclination to kill you," Angel disagreed. "If it wouldn't taste so bad, I'd drain you dry right now just to shut you up."

"Wouldn't."

"Really, really would."

Lorne looked unthreatened. "Naah."

"Yeah."

"No way."

"Way," Angel growled.

Wesley and Gunn exchanged glances.

"Yes, well, maybe we'll leave you to it, then...." Wesley said cautiously, backing towards the door.

Angel ignored him and set his mug down, reaching over to knock Lorne's out of his hands.

"Good thing I'd finished, isn't it, sweetie?" the demon commented.

Angel debated choking him and had one arm half-way around his neck when Cordelia spoke.

"We don't need to see this," she announced. "We're going. If you can do anything to sweeten his temper, even if it's unspeakable demon sex, then more power to you. Whatever you do, just... don't tell us about it."

She turned and walked out the door, quickly followed by Wesley and Gunn.

Angel frowned. "They think we're sleeping together," he said, somewhat unnecessarily.

"Yeah," Lorne said, getting more comfortable and rearranging the arm Angel had about him. "Can't imagine why."

"I think it was the time you allowed Cordelia to see us in bed together, actually."

"You think?"

"Yup." Angel found that, at some point, he had stopped being pissed off and merely had a head that threatened to explode if he did anything extreme, like moving. He tested it and immediately wished he hadn't.

"Anyway, I didn't allow her to do anything. If you recall, she broke into my apartment without any 'allowing' of any kind from me."

"Still your fault," Angel said, but without rancour. He yawned. "I think my head is going to explode."

"You'd think after two hundred-plus years that you'd have developed more of a tolerance for alcohol, wouldn't you?"

Angel grumbled something unintelligible.

Lorne responded by snuggling a little closer. "You do whatever. I'll just grab a few more hours sleep, I think."

Angel looked down at him. "There?"

"Here," he agreed, closing his eyes.

Angel debated arguing, moving or complaining but settled on closing his eyes and leaning into the weight against him.

"At some point, will you please explain to Cordelia that we're not having sex?" he said sleepily.

"Now, why would I do something like that?"

"Um... because we're *not*?"

"Details," Lorne said dismissively.

Angel gave up and went to sleep.

[end]





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