Title: Oh, The Nudity Thing?
Author: Dusk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive: Songs of Mercy, AngelSlash, RareSlash, Slashrealms, LoveLorne
Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit made from borrowing them.
Series/sequel: Sequel to 'Losing Faith', 'Male Bonding, In Theory', and 'Incomprehensible Influences'.
Summary: Angel attempts to defend his virtue.
Comments: I know, these just get sillier. But they're *fun* :) (For me, anyway... maybe everyone else disagrees.... [g])
Posted: Sept '01
Angel stared at nothing, pensively. He sat at the kitchen table, still wearing his robe and generally feeling like he wanted to go back to bed. His crew lounged around his kitchen, preventing him from doing so merely by their presence. They drank his coffee. They ate his food. They read his newspaper. They gossiped, argued, hurled insults and occasionally weapons or crockery at each other.
And they called it 'working'.
Angel had no such illusions. He wasn't working. He was loafing. He was happy to acknowledge this fact. It was far, far too early to be working. No sane person would claim otherwise.
They were talking about him, he realised, tuning in to the conversation part-way through. They were ignoring him, as often happened when he sat in silence. He liked it that way. Mostly.
He listened now, growing more and more disturbed as the conversation progressed. Some basic assumptions had apparently been made. Made wrongly.
"I'm not sleeping with him," he announced during a quiet moment.
They all stared at him, remembering belatedly that he was within earshot.
"Yes you are," Cordelia said dismissively, turning back to Wesley.
"No, I really think we should establish, here and now, that I'm not," Angel insisted.
"Riiight," Gunn said sceptically. "Whatever, man."
"I don't know where you got the idea from, but I'm genuinely not in any way sleeping with him."
"We've all seen you," Cordelia pointed out. "Sharing a bed, all cuddly, naked... several times, in fact. Trying to deny it now is just... well, *stupid*."
"You did not see that!"
"Uh, we did," Wesley offered. "A number of times."
"No. You saw one or two completely innocent examples of two people who happened to be sharing a bed, due to general drunkenness and depression."
"Cuddling," Cordelia said with relish.
"That's just him! He's just like that. It's not an 'us' thing, it's a *him* thing."
"*Naked*," Cordelia said, her tone now bordering on an unholy glee.
"No! No, no. There has been no nakedness between us. Ever."
The Host chose that moment to wander sleepily into the kitchen and pour himself a coffee.
"Morning, all," he said, and yawned.
They looked at him.
"Morning," Cordelia said brightly. Gunn and Wesley looked at Angel, awaiting his next move.
"*Lorne*," Angel said dangerously. "What are you doing?"
"Slowly regaining consciousness, Angelcakes, why?"
"And where, I ask, are your clothes?"
The demon looked down at himself. "Huh," was all he said, sounding vaguely surprised. He leaned against the counter and sipped at his drink.
Angel frowned. It was possible the Host saw nothing untoward about wandering around naked in another man's home, regardless of whether they were sleeping together. Which they weren't.
"What happened to your *shorts*?" Angel had been sure there were shorts involved yesterday. He remembered wondering why *he* didn't have any silk boxer shorts.
"I don't remember. Don't worry, they'll turn up," Lorne assured the vampire with a sleepy smile.
"You're stepping all over the point I was *trying* to make," Angel grumbled.
"Well, it's not as though I did it on purpose, is it?" Lorne said reasonably. "What point was it?"
"That you two have never seen each other naked," Wesley filled him in, carefully keeping his eyes anywhere but on the demon. Gunn, on the other hand, was openly looking him up and down.
As was Cordelia.
"And speaking of which," she said, tearing her eyes away reluctantly, "What are you wearing under that robe, Angel?"
"Nothing," Lorne answered with absolute conviction. "So I think you kinda stepped on that point without my help."
"But I don't *remember* any nakedness," Angel insisted weakly. "It's just happening anyway. And the nakedness... or *lack* of... was an illustration of the fact that we may, on occasion, sleep together but we are *not* having sex. Tell them. Tell them we're not."
Lorne shrugged, his eyes twinkling in what Angel considered to be a grossly offensive manner. "A gentleman never tells," he announced.
"Lorne!" Angel wailed. "You're making it all worse!"
"And you're too uptight, honey. You need to loosen up a bit."
Angel buried his head in his hands. "What am I going to *do* with you?" he asked the world in general, sounding slightly muffled.
"Anything you want, Angelface, you know that," Lorne said cheerfully, winking at Cordelia as he did so.
She grinned. Wesley's eyes were focusing on something internal that fortunately only he could see. Gunn looked as though he couldn't decide whether to applaud or just wash his hands of the whole situation, and settled on an all-purpose glower at the inexplicable behaviour of white folks. Mentally, he placed the demon honorarily but firmly in the category of 'white folks'.
Angel growled. Cordelia patted his shoulder. Showing what he considered to be remarkable restraint, Angel didn't rip her hand off at the wrist.
"I'm sure denial is a perfectly normal phase of... whatever weirdness you two have going. It'll pass," she assured him.
He looked up at her in despair. "We're *not*...." he said, wondering why he was even bothering.
"It's okay. We all came to terms with it a long time ago. We're behind you, one hundred percent."
"Oh, well, thanks. That's just great. I have a real crisis and the whole world falls apart, but you decide to back me up on a relationship that isn't even happening?" He shook his head and got to his feet.
"I'm going back to bed," he announced. "I don't understand any of you. Especially *you*," he added, looked at Lorne. "Wake me up if the world shows signs of, I don't know, ending or something. Wake me up if Cordelia has a vision and I get to kill something. Otherwise, I'd appreciate being left alone to worry about all this."
He left the room, and silence prevailed for several seconds, until he returned and stood in the doorway, arms crossed.
Lorne raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Are you coming or not?" Angel asked irritably.
The demon set his cup down. "So what you're saying is... you want to be all alone, but you want me there too."
"Something like that. Maybe I just don't want you naked in front of my friends."
Lorne shrugged. "So instead of offering me a robe, you invite me to bed. Works for me," he said, and followed Angel, stifling a yawn.
Angel sat down on the side of the bed, still frowning.
"I don't get it," he said slowly. "I just don't."
Lorne, meanwhile, had spotted something familiar under the chair. "Oh, there they are," he said, mostly to himself, and picked up his shorts. Then he realised he had nowhere better to put them and dropped them again.
"I mean, why does this keep happening?"
"Why does what happen, sweetie?" Lorne asked, taking a seat next to him.
"This! Us, this... whatever it is," Angel said, gesturing vaguely. "And the nudity! Where did that come from? Did we drink so much we've actually forgotten we drank at all?"
"I don't know why that happened. Seemed appropriate at the time, I guess. Besides, all I had was what I was wearing, and if I'd slept in it, it would've gotten all wrinkly."
"Ah," Angel said doubtfully. "And that was it, was it? Wrinkle issues?"
"Or more accurately, ironing issues." Lorne nodded to his suit, carefully hung up on the door.
"And the shorts?"
"Now that I can't answer, because I really have no idea. Don't worry so much, Angel. In the grand scheme of things, is it really that important?" He lay a hand on Angel's arm. "Now you can either join in the hunt for my socks, which appear to have wandered off on business of their own, or you can go back to bed. Nice, oblivious sleep. Sounds good, doesn't it?"
"Very," Angel agreed. "And your socks are behind the door. Very probably inside out."
"See? One mystery solved already. I'm sure everything else will become clear in time."
Angel shrugged half-heartedly and removed his robe, throwing it into a corner and crawling beneath the covers to brood in comfort.
"This alone thing you've got going, does it involve you being alone with me here, or with me leaving as soon as I can locate my other shoe?"
Angel thought about the shoe in question and it's new home in the bathtub. "What if you can't find the shoe?"
"Then I can't leave, can I? Walking home in just my socks, in this town, is just not gonna happen."
Angel nodded to himself.
"I don't know where your shoe is," he said gruffly. "Maybe it's in the basement."
Lorne rolled his eyes. "How would it get there?"
"How did any of your clothes get where they got to?"
"I have no idea. None. It's a total mystery."
"Exactly," Angel said, as though all was now clear.
There was a pause of a few seconds. Angel felt the bed dip and relinquished a portion of the covers with only a token murmur of protest.
"We'll search for the shoe later," he said.
"Oh, it's bound to turn up eventually. I'm not worried," Lorne said, getting comfortable. Within seconds, his cat-like ability to sleep at a moment's notice was called into play, and there was silence.
Angel continued to brood over the entire situation for a few minutes, then carefully raised himself up on one elbow to look at the still-naked form of the demon beside him. With one hand, he tentatively reached out to trace the curve of his spine.
Stopping just short of contact, he frowned and pulled his arm back to his side. Turning over so his back was to Lorne, he pulled the covers up to his neck and tried to stop thinking.
A little while later, when the demon turned in his sleep and wound an arm around his waist, and Angel felt warm breath against the back of his neck, he wondered just how he gotten himself into this situation in the first place. Then he wondered how he was going to get out of it. As he thought, he made no move to dislodge the body pressed up close behind him.
"We're *not* sleeping together," he informed the universe defiantly, if quietly in deference to his sleeping companion.
Lorne mumbled something in his sleep that sounded suspiciously like dissent.
"Not," Angel insisted, and closed his eyes.
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