Everything was sheer, unadulterated chaos. And it was the day *after* the wedding.
Angel stood at the edge of the lobby of his hotel -- *his*, his, his, his hotel, and did anyone seem to remember that anymore? If he yelled for everyone to go home already, would they listen to him? What if he pretended to be evil again?
He sighed, knowing it would just get him chained up -- in a bad way. He would just have to put up with having guests for a few days more. They all seemed to be happy to be here, visiting with each other now that the pressure of pulling off a wedding and getting Spike and Xander *out* the door for two weeks, was over. If he tried to suggest they cut their visit short, he'd only get scolded. By Cordelia, which was never fun.
But did they have to be *everywhere*? Giles was sitting in the main lobby, conferring with Wes and Buffy over something Slayer-Watcherish. Whether a bikini was appropriate workout gear? He had to have misheard them, especially since they'd dragged out one of Wesley's older leatherbound translations of the original Watchers' Diaries, and he couldn't imagine the seventeenth century Watchers' Council talking about bikinis. At least not in print.
Harmony had grown bored and wandered off, and was-- what was the only other vampire with a soul in the world, doing? Her nails, apparently, while sitting on his new leather sofa and watching MTV. Loudly. Didn't she *get* the sensitive vampire hearing thing? Or had she blown her eardrums out while she was still alive? He tried to make his way over to ask her-- he gritted his teeth-- nicely, to turn it down, when someone else got in his way.
"Can you sign these?"
Angel blinked. He looked down at the sheaf of papers in Cordelia's hand, and tried to figure out if he knew what she could possibly be talking about. "Don't you already know how to forge my signature?"
She gave him a 'duh' look. "Not when you're *available*. And I don't mean when you're in your office but doing disgusting things with your harem. Sign?" She held them out.
"I don't do disgusting things with--" He stopped, because Wesley had glanced up at him, and Angel didn't really know whether Wes could hear him or not. Besides which, he was *still* under the geas of the truth spell Wes had laid on him as part of a present for Spike. Which meant he couldn't say he didn't do disgusting things with his harem, without turning into a large, brightly-coloured newt. Again.
It wasn't so much being a newt that he'd minded, as the 'brightly-coloured' part.
"What am I signing-- or should I even ask?"
She handed him the top one. "This is Lorn's bill for the cleaning..."
Angel blinked at it, then looked at the total at the bottom, and blinked again. Then he shook his head. "I thought Willow and Buffy were paying for the bachelor party? They were the best men. Er, women. Kind of. Dru doesn't have any money."
"Do you *ever* pay attention to something besides Wesley's ass? This isn't for the bachelor party, it's for the rehearsal dinner."
"Which Giles was supposed to pay for..." He bit off his reflexive protest about Wesley's ass - again, to avoid being a brightly-coloured newt.
"Yeah, and you for the wedding-- but you hosted it at your own place, called in every favor in town, Xander got free photographs-- you barely had to pay a cent. It's only fair that you split this stuff with Giles."
He looked at the total again. "What did they *do* that cost so much? Those were really *tiny* Cornish Game Hens they served us."
"That's because Xander and Spike were having an ice-cream fight in the kitchen while the stuffed pheasants were cooking, and.... Do you really need to hear the whole story? Just sign."
"But it doesn't even have my name on the invoice. It says "Rupert Giles". I'm not Rupert Giles; they'll just return the invoice unpaid--" He stopped as he saw the glare Cordelia was giving him. It was the same one she gave him when he tried to talk himself out of attending a holiday party, or watching Sound of Music. She pointed at the lines underneath 'Rupert Giles'. "Oh. Look at that. There's my name. On the invoice."
"Uh-huh." She folded her arms and continued to stare at him.
"You know, maybe we should let Xander pay; after all he--"
And he thought he'd been in trouble when he'd failed to buy Cordelia a birthday present two years ago. "Angel Liam Middle-Name-Is-Mud Jones, don't you *dare* even suggest that Xander pay for this. What kind of a welcome into your family is that?"
He thought quickly, and gave her his best learned-it-from-Xander puppysmile. "Cordy, Xander's been part of my family for years."
He thought he almost got to her with that one, because she smiled for a second. Then the glare returned. "Yeah, but what'll Spike think? It's like you're saying your side of the family doesn't even care enough to make this little gesture...."
"Little?" Why did his mouth do things like that to him? What did he ever do to *it*, that it didn't like?
"After all, what's a few thousand dollars compared to family? Do you want Spike to think you think he's only worth the few hundred you paid for food? For his *wedding*? His betrothal to the man he loves, whom he wants to spend eternity with, the man who got him to dress nice for an entire day when the bank reps came by?"
"Because Xander gave him a butt-plug to wear under his suit," Angel pointed out, then quietly accepted the slap of papers against his chest. It wasn't like she hadn't succeeded in guilting him as soon as she'd said 'betrothal'. To avoid having to convince Wes why he shouldn't do as Cordy was likely to ask, and turn Angel into a large pink-dyed french poodle, he said, "Why don't I just sign these?"
She was still glaring as he took the pen. "Sign. And don't *ever* mention sex, Spike, or Xander around me ever again. Or sex and you and yours. In fact, don't ever mention anything remotely related to sex and *anyone*."
"Um." Angel started to quickly scribble his name. "Cordy? I think there's some cake left in the kitchen. Chocolate cake."
"Uh-huh." She took the top sheet from him, and handed him the rest of the stack. "Sign." Her glare was so strong, it stopped him from even *looking* at the rest of the papers he was signing. When he handed them back to her, it was like someone had flipped a switch. "Thank you!" she sang cheerily, throwing a smile at him that was so sunny, he was worried for his continued good health. Not that he hadn't been, before. "Um, where's that cake?"
"Third shelf from the bottom in the fridge that Spike and Xander *don't* keep their boysenberry ripple ice cream in."
The glare returned. "What did I say about Spike and Xander and s-e-x? You *know* they use that stuff as
"Marital aide," Angel pointed out. "Sorry - that was the only way to distinguish the fridge that the cake is in, from the other two." Cordelia settled for giving him another glare, before heading off to the kitchen. Angel watched her go, then sighed in relief.
He should have stayed in bed today. Would have, had anyone accepted his invitation to stay in bed *with* him. But Wesley had gotten up early, claiming he needed to talk to Rupert about something arcane and obscure. Maybe they *should* invite the Watcher down more often, to provide company for Wesley. Angel loved his wayward Childe, but that didn't mean he had any illusions about Spike's civility. Then he blinked at himself. He what?
He *really* should have stayed in bed today. But his other option for in-bed company had taken off to work on a case. A case, the day after Spike and Xander's wedding, when any normal person should have been staying in bed and just being thankful the world hadn't ended the night before. And, of course, screwing their favourite vampire into the mattress.
Apparently, the poltergeist at 512 Maplehurst Lane hadn't received his invitation to the event of the century, though, so he'd woken up early, and forced the owners of the house to do the same. And *they* had called Angel Investigations. Who help the hopeless. Or was it the helpless? Either way, off Gunn had ridden in his shiny new red truck-- which was so ridiculously bright that Angel had taken to calling it 'the fire engine' in his head, and still had "In-Laws-of-the-Grooms" scrawled all over it in black and white chalk-- to take care of it. Back in half an hour, he'd said. Two hours ago.
He'd taken Willow and Tara with him, partly to show them around the city and partly so they could stop at Mocha Joe's on the way back. Maybe that was where they'd been for the last hour and a half? Standing in line? Angel considered calling them on the cellphone, but if he did, Gunn would rag him for the rest of the day. Over-protective worrying naggy vampire, just because it was daylight and he couldn't get to Mocha Joe's *or* 512 Maplehurst Lane without bursting into flames.
So maybe he should stay here, where he could pace. Or he could go into the office in the back, and do some paperwork. Then it occurred to him that 'paperwork' was probably all related to the wedding, and that Cordelia had just had him sign it all.
All right, he could go into the library, and brood.
"Try it, and we turn your leather duster into pink vinyl."
Angel blinked. Wes was looking up at him with a mixture of fondness and irritation that was utterly serious, despite the way it made Angel's insides do that weird mushy thing that they'd been doing ever since he'd seen Spike all not-quite-dressed in his tux. "Sorry. I just can't hear myself think, in here. I'm used to living in a zoo, but that's more like a petting zoo, and this is the San Diego Zoo. I keep expecting Joan Embry to pop in and grab one of these people to take with her for a Tonight Show appearance." Or, preferably, all of them?
"So find someone to talk to-- but no brooding. You've already used up your allotted two hours per week, when you watched 'Old Yeller,' this Sunday."
"I did not--" He caught himself just in time to avoid being newt-ered by Wesley's spell.
"Oh, I just *love* that movie," Harmony said. Angel knew how much she liked it, because she'd watched it with him. He didn't like thinking about that.
He ignored her, and said, "I don't *want* to talk to anyone. I want to sit somewhere, alone, in the dark. I haven't had a moment's peace since last Sunday." He knew he sounded like he was whining, but he didn't really care. He wanted to brood, damn it. Actually, he wanted to be someplace private with Wesley and Gunn. But failing that, alone was good.
"Come here." Wesley waved him over. Angel frowned, and Wesley said again, "Come *here*." He patted the couch beside him.
Angel found himself going over there, even as he wondered about the fact that Wes was *supposed* to do whatever *he* said. Right? He sat down, and Wesley smiled at him. Right, and *who* was on the top in this relationship? Angel felt his mouth smiling back, even though his grumpy brain was desperately trying to tell it to frown.
"You know, that's rather frightening," Giles said from his seat across the coffee table from them.
"What, Angel smiling? Nah, seen it before," Buffy said lightly.
"Actually, I mean the whole 'coming when called' thing. I wonder, could you teach it to me, Wesley?"
Wes raised an eyebrow at him. "To use on *Anya* ? I think not."
Angel agreed. If Giles tried to use whatever spell Wes had cast on Angel and Gunn, on an ex-vengeance demon with a fuse shorter than her skirts, he'd be in for a world of trouble. Plus she'd do that 'head up the ass' spell on Wes, for giving the other spell to Giles, and... it just didn't bear thinking about.
He found Wesley looking at him, and Angel raised one eyebrow. "What?" Wesley just continued to smile as he turned back to the conversation he'd been in the midst of, when he'd interrupted Angel's flight for freedom. Angel sat there quietly for all of two minutes. "Wes?"
"--but I don't suppose they would-- yes, Angel?" He sounded remarkably patient.
"When you said you wanted me to find somebody to talk to, with no brooding...for how long? Because I've been sitting here for quite some time, now."
Wesley gave him a Look, and Angel caught Buffy stifling a giggle. "Should *anyone* ever wonder where Spike got his incapacity to sit still for three seconds, wonder no more."
"I can sit still!" Angel protested. "When...I'm alone, in a dark room...."
"Brooding!" all three of the people around him chorused.
"Well, it's not like I have all that many other things that can keep me occupied," he protested. "I mean, I like to read, but you won't let me go into the library by myself, 'cause you're afraid I'll come across a copy of 'The Yearling' and never recover. I kinda like to sing, now, but I'm forbidden to do that on pain of...some sort of unspecified thing that sounds really scary when Cordy doesn't describe it. And I could go do the other thing that I like to do, but it's just not as much fun without you and Gunn around."
"Oh, ewww!" Harmony called from across the room, demonstrating that her vamp hearing worked just fine-- so maybe the blaring MTV was her idea of masochism? Which was fine with Angel, if only she wouldn't share it with the rest of the sonically-enhanced population. Or... maybe that was her idea of sadism, come to think of it?
Buffy and Giles were looking amused at Harmony's reaction, and Angel replayed his last words in his head, wondering what he could have said-- oh. "What? Swimming. I like to swim. What did *you* think I meant?"
"Angel, you cannot possibly lead me to believe that in two hundred and sixty-some years, you haven't learned how to divert yourself in a manner which neither involves bloodshed, nor brooding." Wesley sounded stern, but his eyes were smiling.
He thought about it. He thought about it some more. "I could go get drunk," Angel suggested.
"At ten o'clock in the morning?"
"It's evening in London," he pointed out, helpfully. "You could get some more Batham's, and maybe something decent and Irish for me--" He paused, and evaluated the expression on his lover's face. "I just screwed up my chances of getting *anything* good to drink out of you, didn't I?"
Wesley opened his mouth, and was interrupted by Giles. "If you say anything like the expression on your face indicates you are going to say, I shall be forced to toss you into the pool. As a muskrat."
The look on Wesley's face was entirely too innocent. He was saved from having to answer, however. Angel was saved, as well, from having to go all bristly and growly at his new in-law (In-law. He had in-laws. He was a father-in-law. Help.) for making threats at his lover. Their rescuer poked a bright green face into the conversation, and started humming.
"Hey, great song. Muskrat Suzy, Muskrat Sam... Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land..." he trailed off, as everyone stared at him. "What-- like you've never heard me sing obscure 70's tunes before?"
"I, ah, think it's what you're wearing," Angel managed to utter. It wasn't that the clothes were bright. Or flamboyant. Or, as Spike would say, positively flaming. They'd all seen the Host in clothes that would put some of Xander's high school excesses to shame. It was that they *weren't* any of those things. Lorn was wearing tight jeans and a plain black t-shirt.
"You like? It's the Spike look." He winked. "By request. And, by the way, anybody seen little Miss C?"
"Kitchen!" They all shouted. Lorn blinked, nodded, and sauntered away. Sauntered. Not sashayed.
"I am very frightened, suddenly," Angel said.
"Why? He looks rather nice in jeans and a t-shirt," Giles commented.
"Because I didn't think Cordelia *liked* the Spike look," Angel clarified, only to find everyone staring at *him* like he'd just appeared wearing a bright red shirt with yellow stripes.
"Which would explain why she has the complete 'Fishing At Home' series on DVD? And signed photos of a certain not-here-because-they're-on-a-honeymoon pair in their complete naked glory -- which, by the way, I want signed copies of, as well. It isn't fair - I almost married Spike, once, too." Buffy pouted.
"You're saying she *likes*--" Angel shook his head. "But she's always complaining about them having sex in places where she might see them."
"Because she doesn't want to be caught on camera. You *do* know Skippy and Buster, Junior, are programmed to follow them around?" Wesley asked.
"What happened to Buster?"
"Gunn caught the camera in our shower."
"I've been meaning to ask," Giles interrupted. "How is it that those things can fly? I *know* Apple has raced ahead in the technology market -- believe me, I know, since Anya never shuts up about the fact that she invested when everyone was still complaining about the iMac -- but I didn't think they'd got around to anti-gravity cameras."
Angel blinked at Giles, then looked at Wesley. Who ducked his head. "I owed Spike a favor." Wesley explained. At Angel's stern glare, he seemed to shrink into the sofa even further. "It was two years ago..."
"Yes, but you gave them a battery-powered spell. It won't ever run out!"
"Neither will my roya-- er, that is. I didn't think of that," he finished weakly.
Angel kept glaring -- and it occured to him that dragging Wesley upstairs to punish him might be more fun than brooding. And he wouldn't be obligated to wait for Gunn to return, since when Gunn found out he *didn't* wait, Gunn would punish them both. "Royalties? You get *royalties*?"
"I needed the money," Wesley said quietly. Then he glared back. "As if you don't hide monthly checks from Scooby, Inc, which are payment for a certain collection of recently released videos."
"I don't--! I mean, it isn't...." Once again, he stopped himself just in time from saying anything that had a chance of turning him small and bright and amphibious. Angel suddenly looked over at Giles and Buffy, who were whispering to each other. And laying money on the table between them. "Excuse me-- what are you two doing?"
"Nothing," Buffy said innocently. But he knew her quite well enough not to believe that.
"Buffy..." He gave her his best 'Wes, do I really have to get out the cinnamon-flavoured hot-lube that makes your tongue go numb, or are you gonna cooperate?' tone.
She just giggled. Wes, on the other hand, looked like he'd be willing to cooperate with just about anything, now. Angel re-evaluated the drag-him-upstairs plan. He gave an experimental tug on Wesley's arm.
"Er, yes, what, yes?" Wes said confusedly.
Giles laid another bill on top of his pile. Buffy muttered something under her breath. Angel pretended to ignore them. "Wes? Why don't we go upstairs where we can...discuss...this camera-levitation spell?"
"We came, we saw, we kicked its little patootie!" Everyone looked over, as Gunn, Willow, and Tara came into the lobby. Willow was smiling, still doing something like a jitterbug, after having mis-quoted the Ghostbusters.
"How did it go? Are you guys all right?" Angel couldn't detect any sign of blood, bruises, or 'pretend nothing happened and maybe they won't notice the dents'.
"We're cool," Gunn assured him, hurrying down the steps. Angel suddenly noticed Gunn was carrying a large take-out tray, filled with large cups. Mocha Joe's.
"You guys weren't in line all this time, were you?" He'd thought he'd been kidding....
Willow colored. "Well, ah... no. He...tookustoMorrie's."
Angel blinked. "You took them to Morrie's?"
"Why don't you say it louder-- maybe they haven't heard it in Sunnydale, yet," Willow hissed.
Angel blinked again. "*I* was just surprised that Morrie opened the place, considering how late he stayed up last night, and how much he drank. And *what* he drank. You mean you *care* that people know you've been there? *Everybody's* been to Morrie's."
"Sooner or later." Wes raised an eyebrow at him, and Angel couldn't totally hide his own guilty look. But he didn't think he'd get painted pink for it, since Wesley was trying to make him feel guilty on purpose.
"Of course we've been there," Tara said easily. "Willow means, if the crew riding back with us know we stopped by, they'll be all over our stuff on the way home. And we don't want any of our videos disappearing."
"Morrie wasn't there," Gunn put in. "His manager guy --um, I think it's a guy-- said he'd called in and told them to open as usual, and not to call him even if the world ends or the Cubs win the World Series."
"Actually, I think the Indians are in the series," Wesley said.
"The who?" Angel looked at him, and saw that the effect of the cinnamon-lube voice had worn off. He also saw that Buffy was reaching for the money, and Giles was arguing with her. *Then* he realized that a) Gunn was home, b) he had been social for half an hour almost, and c) he really didn't care if Buffy or Giles won the bet, as long as he got to go upstairs with one or more of his lovers.
Which reminded him why he'd been looking for Gunn and Wesley in the first place, even though he'd pretended it was just for sex. "So! Indians in the series? Um...which series is that? Baseball? Hockey? Fisti-- fishing?"
Gunn gave him a look. The 'Angel, why do you even try' look. "Are you really asking that question?"
"What, I can't take an interest in manly... um...sporty, things?"
"Not in my experience," Wesley said. Angel felt a hand on his forehead. "Hmm. Doesn't have a fever."
"He *can't* have a fever," Buffy pointed out. "Well, no, he did when he was poisoned, but that was pretty much a special case. Vampires don't get sick, otherwise."
"Define 'sick' " Cordelia said, emerging from the kitchen. "Because I could tell you about sick-- do you know that Spike and Xander have taken over a *third* fridge with their collection of not-to-be-touched-by-normal-people fruits and veggies?"
"How can you tell it's theirs?" The residents of the Hyperion Hotel all turned and stared at Buffy. Who shrugged and asked, "Like I'd know?"
"They label everything," Cordelia explained.
Buffy just looked confused. "Um, like you can't tell it's an apple or asparagus?"
Cordelia rolled her eyes, and Gunn took pity on her. "No, they label what the fruits and veggies are *for*."
"Oh?" Buffy blinked. "Oh. Oh! Um, oh, ok, can we talk about something else so I can get rid of an image?"
"We could talk about the stuff we bought!" Willow said excitedly -- then subsided when Tara frowned at her. "Or not. I'm thinking not. Because at least one item wouldn't make you stop thinking about veggies and I'm really gonna shut up now."
"Well, we already tried sports. That's pretty much out," Gunn said.
Angel had a bright idea. "Why don't we talk about how Spike and Xander got those cameras of theirs to *float*. Wes and I were having an interesting discussion about that, before you came in." Out of the corner of his eye, Angel saw Giles grin, and put his hand flat on the pile of money that Buffy had been slowly inching towards herself.
Gunn snorted. "Well, duh. Who else woulda made 'em float-- Ethan?"
"Did I hear someone taking my name in vain?" a cultured voice asked from behind Angel. He looked up to see the speak-of-the-devil, grinning at them and tossing an apple up and down in his hand. A red apple with a prominent white label on it.
Buffy noticed it too, and squinted to read it. Angel didn't have to know her as well as he did, to hear the giant, clanging alarm bells going off, screaming 'Mis-Take!' in her head. She got slightly paler, and her pulse quickened. "Um, Ethan, you might not want to..." she started, then stopped. Grinned. "No, what was I thinking. Go right ahead. Take a nice big bite."
Ethan gave her a smile. "As though I can't read? Actually, I was hoping to use it for its intended purpose. Has anyone seen Drusilla?"
There was no immediate response. Angel thought that, like himself, everyone was trying desperately not to think about what they were thinking about, regardless. Angel firmly told himself that if he could get Gunn and Wesley upstairs, he could not think about lots of other things. And if he thought about them anyway, he could pretend it was Gunn with the apple.
"Gunn, I think you missed my point about the cameras," he continued, giving Gunn his best 'work with me here' look. They'd rather perfected it, to the point they could gang up on and strip down Wesley within seconds. Apparently Gunn had decided the working day was over, though, because he didn't pick up on it. He just shook his head, and set down his axe against the wall.
"Hey, watch where you put that thing-- I don't want blood and guts all over the carpet." Cordelia put her hands on her hips.
Gunn shook his head again. "Poltergeist. No blood, no guts."
"Oh. Then why did you need the axe?"
"Well, you never know..."
"In other words, because it looks cool and you wanted to take it out in the sun and twirl it for Willow and Tara."
"Maybe. But Morrie's was having a 'Boss Stayed Home, Everything He Thinks Is Cool But Is Really Lame Must Go, Go, Go' sale, too. It was crowded. I almost had to use the axe on a Forgoth Demon."
"Did you buy anything?" Wesley asked, sounding rather interested. Which was good, exactly what Angel wanted. They could go try stuff out...or on...or whatever, depending on what Gunn had bought.
"Nah. Put some stuff on layaway, though, until--" He stopped, and looked around the room. "Oh, almost forgot. Poltergeist people paid us." He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his jacket pocket. Cordelia swooped down on it and squealed happily.
Buffy and Giles were back to discussing something rather intensely, shooting glares at Gunn. Angel felt like glaring, himself. What did a vampire have to do around here to get a little naked-alone time with his lovers? Besides actually say 'excuse me, can we go upstairs and have sex?' Which would work, but then Buffy and Willow and Giles and Cordelia would all laugh at him. Not that they hadn't been doing that all morning anyway, but it was the principle of the thing.
He wished he was evil again. Then he wouldn't *have* principles. Okay, he wouldn't have two do-gooding lovers who painted his toenails pink when he went over his allotted brooding time, either. Not that he'd be brooding, if he were evil. If he were evil, he'd be having sex. Just not with Wesley and Gunn. He sighed.
"Oo, very good. I'd give it a seven. Not quite tragic, but definitely a cut above plain old melancholy," Buffy said admiringly.
"You have a rating system for my sighs?" he asked. Then wondered why he asked. Of course they did. They had a rating system for everything. Even Spike's pouts were numbered, down to decimal point variations.
No one had told him about this part of the curse. No, all they'd ever mentioned was the deceptively straightforward 'be happy and go to hell' part. Maybe this was just karmic retribution for a few decades' worth of sin. Trapped downstairs without any chance of getting naked with Wesley and Gunn. Or even Wesley *or* Gunn. If he could just get *one* of them to follow him upstairs...or precede him. He wasn't picky. He was just frustrated.
Maybe he should sneak off to the library and brood, anyhow. Except he still wanted to take Gunn and Wesley with him, and they wouldn't let him brood. Not that he minded -- it was hard to brood with them around, anyhow. But he wasn't so sure he could get them to go to the library with him, with as much trouble as he was having hinting that they should accompany him upstairs.
Once again, even one of them would do. Because the other would eventually follow. But Gunn would just look at him like he was crazy if he suggested they go off to the library together. And Wesley would accompany him happily, but he'd bring Giles along with him. Which would spoil the party. Or possibly create one, if they were planning on having an orgy, but that *wasn't* the plan.
What was the plan, again? Buffy was talking in his ear, something about sigh number eight being the one where the world wasn't going to end, but he'd run out of hairgel again, and the stores were all closed. Angel thought about giving the speech he'd been preparing for two years now, about his hair products and how it wasn't nice to make fun of them because they kept his confidence up in bad situations, and God knew having a good outlook on the world when it might get destroyed any day now was worth tithing half his income to L'oreal... but he really couldn't remember how it went. He had it written down somewhere.
Giles was talking to Wes about the boring Watcher thing again, and it really *was* boring, especially in Latin, and Cordelia was saying something to Gunn about buying Spike and Xander their own separate walk-in fridge, for all their food-sex stuff, and maybe locking them in, if necessary. After all, no one would find them for a few days, but Spike would manage to keep Xander warm, undoubtedly.
And Angel was just thinking that there must be *something* he could say that would magically make all of this go away, and get his lovers upstairs into a nice warm bed -- or a nice hot tub -- with him, if only he could figure out what it was. "Gunn, can I talk to you for a minute?" slipped out of his mouth before he could realize what a good idea it was.
It got Gunn's attention, and he was even now taking a step towards Angel. Excellent. Now just to say he wanted to talk in private...which, since everyone seemed to be crowded into the lobby, it wasn't a far-fetched idea that they would have to go somewhere *else* to talk. Like, upstairs. And if they didn't actually talk once they got there....
"Oh, hey, lemme do something, first. Promised Willow and Tara I'd show them the armoury -- they wanna see the chain mail. See how the steel might take spells."
Angel closed his eyes, briefly. There was a reason he couldn't just throw his lovers over his shoulders, and head upstairs. Right? Was it because he wasn't evil? He didn't think it was....
It couldn't be because Gunn had threatened to kick his ass the next time he tried that in non-immediate-family-company without receiving prior permission. Granted, Angel was having a tough time figuring out just who did and didn't constitute 'immediate family' these days. For instance, did the mailman count? Should he limit it to the people who had seen Xander naked? Fully naked, that is. Without the sequined g-string.
Nor did the thought of Xander in or, worse, out of, a sequined g-string, improve Angel's mood. Spike and Xander were undoubtedly having sex, right this minute. Lots of sex. Messy, noisy, perverted sex. Why couldn't he have sex? Even a little sex. A tiny bit of sex. What had he ever done to deserve less sex than Spike and Xander?
Oh. Yeah. That. Well, okay, but still.... And that. And then there was that night in Budapest... And the time in Petersborough with the mayor and his lovely daughters...
"Stop that!" Wesley ordered.
Angel flinched, and looked up guiltily. Not that he should have to, he told himself silently. Very silently, so Wesley couldn't scold him again. Wait, who was in charge around here, again? Angel shook his head. He hadn't *meant* to start brooding, it was just the default when his lovers proved stubborn. "What?" he asked, in a desperate attempt to halt Wesley's progress towards whatever he was about to do. Angel didn't trust the look on his face, or the way he was raising one starting-to-glow hand.
"I'll turn your hair pink," Wesley threatened.
Angel's hands flew to his hair, as several of their onlookers laughed. Angel was tempted to glare at them, make them clear off and do something other than stand around and watch him fail to entice two mere human men into going upstairs and getting naked. He'd been doing it successfully for years, now. What was going wrong today?
Wesley was smirking, which earned him a glare. Didn't seem to faze him at all. Darnit, hadn't Wesley *said* he and Gunn were in charge? Unless... was Wes under orders from Gunn? They didn't exactly have any set procedure for what Wes should do if Gunn wanted one thing and Angel wanted another. Well, no, they did, which was, agree with Gunn and laugh at Angel, but... Were they conspiring against him, to make sure he didn't get any sex?
Was it 'deny sex to Angel' day, and no one bothered to inform him? Maybe he should ask Cordy, who knew everything. But then Cordy would know he wanted sex. Or at least that he wanted to get Wes and Gunn alone, with sex somewhere on the agenda. But she probably already knew that, anyway, since she knew everything, right? Possibly he was getting a little paranoid. Maybe.
He found Wesley still frowning at him, so he made an effort to *look* as though he weren't brooding. He held the expression for a moment, and was rewarded by Wes' frown lightening. Angel smiled, tentatively, and Wesley smiled back.
"Better," Wesley said. Which was nice, but still didn't get him upstairs, naked, with company. The *right* company. He could ask half a dozen other people in the room, and probably get a 'yes'. Not to mention sleeping on the couch for a year. The couch in Spike and Xander's suite. Angel sighed. When Wesley started to frown, again, Angel stifled the sigh and tried for a neutral expression. Buffy and Giles were whispering again, and two more bills appeared on the table.
Angel wondered idly if the Host would be able to pick up his immediate future, if Angel pulled him aside and sang something innocuous and apropos, like 'They're Coming To Take Me Away...' for him. Which, as far as he could remember, had no actual tune for him to mangle. But it was a song. It *might* work. But then, of course, the Host would know. Though he probably already did, considering the way he was whispering with Cordy, who knew everything, over by the stereo system.
Come to think of it... Angel looked around at the collection of people he'd for some reason been insane enough to invite to stay in his hotel, and wondered if they *all* knew. It made an insidious sort of sense. They were *all* conspiring to stop Angel from getting any. Of anything.
Fine. He would just go upstairs, by *himself*, and jerk off. By himself. He didn't need anyone on their knees in front of him, helping. Didn't need anyone squirming around on the bed beneath him. Didn't need-- Angel stopped himself before he flung Wesley over his shoulder and carried him upstairs.
He did keep all traces of frustration off his face as he turned and headed for the stairs. Two steps later Buffy called out, "Angel! You can't go!"
"Why not? I'm not going to brood," he added, with a quick glance at Wesley.
Wesley gave him a curious look. "Well, I can certainly say you've been social for much longer than usual." He nodded, then said, "Did you want some company?" Angel felt like cheering. Flinging Wesley over his shoulder and running up the stairs. Catcalls be damned.
"Hey, everybody. Sorry I'm late." The doorway was filled with a tall, broad-shouldered form. Angel glanced down to make sure his body was still attached to his head. It was getting so he couldn't tell, this morning. Nope, all present and accounted for. Must be--
"Riley!" Buffy jumped up and ran to give the newcomer a hug.
"That's me. I really tried to make it back on time, but we got caught up in this Tarkoth uprising in... Well, I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, and you're too cute to kill."
Angel heard a loud 'Grrrrrrr' and had to look down, yet again. That hadn't come from him-- he and Riley were long over that macho crap. Possibly had something to do with both being Buffy's ex. Or maybe the fact that Riley and Angel had gotten very, very drunk together, one night about four years ago, and wound up playing shuffleboard in the hotel basement until three in the morning. Angel had kicked his ass, and that was that. Well, that was the way he chose to remember it, anyway. So who was growling, now?
Angel looked over, and found to his surprise, that *Harmony* was stalking Riley, in full-game face. He didn't think she was scaring anyone, although that cooing noise Buffy was making might end up making him lose *all* interest in having sex. For half an hour.
"Harmony, sweetie, you *know* I don't like him that way anymore."
Riley was staring at his ex-girlfriend in astonishment. "Did I miss something?" he asked.
"She got over you," Willow said matter-of-factly.
"And replaced me with *her*?" Riley shook his head, apparently not concerned with the fact that Buffy had got over him a few years back, since they'd finally become friends again, a year later. "I'm not sure I can even be insulted by that," he finished, and Angel stifled a grin. Stifled, only because Buffy was closer to him now than she was to Riley, and that meant *he* would be the one to bear the brunt of annoyed Slayer.
"Hey!" Harmony protested. "You should be very insulted!" She stopped. "I think."
Riley turned to Buffy. "Since when did you start dating vampires?" Everyone in the room said absolutely nothing. Loudly. Riley blinked, then stuck out his tongue at everyone. Loudly. Angel could hear it. "You know what I mean. Real vampires." Angel didn't even bother to look at Riley loudly. Wesley was doing it for him. Which was heartening in its own way. Riley swallowed hard when he caught Wesley's glare, and tried again. "Vampires without souls."
"Hey! I have a soul!" Harmony stood up tall, and stared Riley right in the chest.
Riley glanced over at Angel, who nodded wearily. "Yes, Harmony has a soul." When she'd shown back up after two years doing God knew what, the choice was stake her -- which everyone but Cordy, and, surprisingly, Wesley, had voted for -- or curse her. Not surprisingly, the Chase Party had won.
Then Angel had found out why Wesley had voted with Cordy-- not, as suspected, because he was trying to do Cordelia a favor to get himself out of trouble for something, but because he had a spell to test. The 'formerly evil vampire now cursed with a soul gets to keep the soul even if they get happy' spell that involved being painted blue. Angel's Gold Card was still recovering from the shopping spree they'd sent Harmony on to test the 'moment of happiness' clause.
Riley was staring down at the top of Harmony's head. "Um... A soul. How nice for you. Do you also have a brain?"
She glared at him. "You're just jealous." She grabbed Buffy's hand and held it triumphantly.
Riley hesitated, then nodded. "You're right. I'm jealous." Then he looked over at the rest of the room. "Is there any wedding cake left?"
Harmony looked happy -- a safe enough prospect. Angel amused himself for a moment wondering if he should tell Wesley that he knew the spell hadn't required the singing, nudity, or Rodeo Drive. He hadn't argued because it had made Wes and Gunn happy. And Angel was, even if he refused to admit it out loud, a complete push-over when it came to Wesley and Gunn. Which was *so* not working in his favour, at the moment.
Angel watched Cordelia come over and take Riley by the arm, leading him towards the kitchen and saying loudly "We'll get some cake, in the kitchen, back in a moment" as if no one could tell they were going to the kitchen for cake. And he suddenly realized something -- which made him suspect everyone was right when they said he wasn't all that up on inter-personal relationship nuances, just yet.
Wesley had searched for, discovered, and implemented the spell, over a year before he became Angel's and Gunn's lover. Which meant he'd believed he was setting *them* up to be happily forever after. Without him. Without any *hope* of-- Angel stopped himself before he got sucked into a sympathy brood. He reached over and took Wesley's hand in his, and didn't say anything when Wesley gave him a surprised, then pleased, then curious look.
"What are you doing?" Wesley asked him, finally.
"Smiling. You think I should take it up full-time?"
Wes cocked his head. "I don't know. It's a bit disconcerting, head-on, like that. Perhaps if you just started small, with a bit of a wry grin?"
"Maybe you'd like to come upstairs with me and help me practice?" Wesley was about to answer him in a way that would make all his paranoid conspiracy theories go up in smoke-- Angel could just feel it. Then Wes stopped.
"Yes?" he said to someone standing behind Angel.
"Who *was* that guy?" It was Xander's high school friend speaking, the one everybody thought had gotten killed in the graduation melee, Angel realized after a second. Yet another person who threatened his 'tallest, broadest guy in the room' status.
"What guy?" Angel almost whined.
"*That* guy. That fatigues-and-muscles-and-muscles-and-fatigues guy," Larry said.
"Ah. That was Riley Finn," Wesley explained, with the barest hint of a wry grin on his face. "Would you like to be introduced?"
Larry nodded rapidly, but Buffy walked over and patted his arm. "Sorry, Larry. Riley's a girls-only kinda guy."
Larry stared at her. "So? I won't drool *on* him. I promise." She laughed, then stepped back towards Harmony when the vampiress tugged on her hand and pouted.
"I'm sure Cordelia will have him back in a moment." Wesley glanced towards the kitchen with a thoughtful look. "Although they should have returned by now. Why don't I take you--"
"No!" Willow leapt forward and grabbed Wesley's arm. "Er, I mean...they're probably just catching up. On old times. Which Riley and Cordy never really had any of so maybe they're finally getting a chance to bond, without anyone distracting them. Oh, look, here's Tara and Gunn. Did you two find the dagger we want to try to bewitch?"
Angel just tried to figure out why Wesley wasn't allowed in the kitchen. Unless Cordelia and Riley were-- no, then Cordelia wouldn't be dating Lorn. Unless she and Lorn were-- Angel decided he didn't want to know. Besides, the Host was here in the lobby, and the only guests *not* also here were Dru, and Dawn. Dru was upstairs, telling naptime stories to the fish.
And Dawn was dating Justin. Unless... Angel shook his head, suddenly terrified. There was a rule, somewhere. No thinking about Dawn and sex in the same paragraph. Which, shit, he just had. In the same sentence. Oh God, he was going to hell, now.
Except Gunn was back, and they were all three standing somewhere near the middle of the room, which meant they were nearer to the stairs than they'd been before. Which didn't seem very hellish. Maybe he was going to hell later, then. Gunn was holding out a silver dagger with a hilt in the shape of... Angel blinked. Was the hilt *really* in that shape, or was he more obsessed than he'd thought? He tried to pull his attention away from the dagger, and found himself looking at Gunn -- who was watching him, and waggled an eyebrow when he caught Angel's eye. Yeah, that helped.
"So, Gunn, did you wanna give us a hand?" Angel wondered if he had a sharp piece of wood he could stake himself with. He did *not* just say that out loud, did he? In front of everyone? Everyone, who were now tittering and grinning and *why* was Willow handing money to Cordelia who was heading for the kitchen again?
"With what?" Gunn asked, obviously not clued in to the 'vampire needs sex now' vibe in the room.
Angel tried to think. He'd had an excuse for going upstairs with Wes, right? Besides practicing his wry grins, that is. Oh. Yeah. His excuse for going upstairs was that he wanted to jerk off. And Wes had kindly agreed to accompany him. But he couldn't say *that* out loud, could he?
Everyone around Angel suddenly burst into laughter, and Gunn's eyes widened. "I'm a *what* ?" he asked.
Angel glanced helplessly around the room. Where were Xander and Spike when he needed them? Shouldn't they be here, doing something annoying and semi-indecent, to distract everyone from staring at him? Oh. Yeah. They *were* doing something annoying and totally indecent-- having sex, somewhere else, while Angel wasn't. Angel sighed. Again. For possibly the twelfth time. Which was a sort of brooding, wasn't it? Which meant he was getting away with it right in front of Wesley.
"What did you call me, Angel?" Gunn asked again, folding his arms and looking very foreboding. Angel stifled the urge to point at Wes and say 'he did it, spank him'. Except the way his luck was going today, Gunn would -- without letting Angel into the room.
"I didn't mean it like that," he said, trying to placate his lover -- and realized as he did so, he was walking right into actually saying 'would you two please go upstairs and have sex with me?' That wasn't a *bad* thing, not really, but it was embarrassing to have to *say* it out loud, in front of people. He was supposed to be the cool, suave, mysterious vampire guy. He shouldn't have to whine.
Then again, if he could manage to say it calmly and collectedly, he might just come off sounding all modern and straightforward and hip. Or cool. Or whatever the whippersnappers these days were calling it. Not like he was two hundred and almost fifty and grew up in an era when asking two men, one black, in public, to have sex with you might result in all of you getting lynched. If all he got was snickered at by his friends and family, it was actually a hell of a lot better, come to think of it.
Even if the two men snickered at him, too. Especially if they *always* snickered at him and were likely to snicker at him for the rest of his unnatural life. And they would, if he didn't say this just right. Angel blinked, smiled tentatively at Gunn, who was still waiting for his answer, and opened his mouth.
"What'd I miss?" Dawn asked, excitedly. Angel closed his mouth. Then he was startled when *everyone* in the room, besides himself and his two not-naked and not-upstairs-with-him lovers glared at her. She looked sheepish, and smiled. Then she glanced at her watch, and looked innocent.
Angel glanced at his own watch, wondered why it mattered that it was 11:01 a.m., then decided he didn't care, didn't want to know, and looked back at Gunn and Wesley. He opened his mouth again, discarded the first line and opted for the second, then as he said "Would--" decided that maybe the first way was better and went back to that. So what actually came out of his mouth wasn't about going upstairs to have sex, at all.
"Would you two marry me?"
"Wahooooooooo!" shouted Dawn.
Angel glared at her. But it was too late-- instead of the quiet moment that he was expecting, looking at their faces and waiting for them to answer, there was pandemonium. Cordelia was running for the kitchen, yelling "Nobody move! I'll be back with the whiteboard in a second!"
Buffy was strutting around Giles in a circle, doing some kind of tribal dance, flinging her hips and shaking her butt and chanting "Go Buffy, you're the Slayer. Who's the woman, uh-huh, uh-huh..." and holding out her hand. Giles was rolling his eyes, but finally slapped the entire pile of cash into her palm. "Uh-huh, that's right, uh-huh..."
Harmony was squealing at the top of her lungs-- Angel couldn't tell what she was saying; he wasn't sure she *was* saying anything, though he was fairly sure that blood was pouring from his ears, now. Willow and Tara were hugging each other, and Lorn was looking positively mushy. Other than that -- Gunn and Wesley were just staring at him. Angel tried for another wry smile.
"First you call me a jerk off, now you want me to marry you?" Gunn demanded, but he was obviously trying very hard not to burst into a stupid grin.
"I didn't *call* you a jerk off," Angel protested. "I want-- um. Er." There were more bursts of laughter, and Angel wished once again he'd stayed in bed this morning. After having tied his lovers in the bed with him.
Wesley opened his mouth -- to say what, Angel didn't find out, because Cordelia came back into the lobby, yelling, "Who let her enter the pool?!?"
They turned to see Cordelia carrying a whiteboard, which she set down facing everyone. It was a three-way grid, with dates, times, and 'Angel asks' 'Angel chickens out and Wesley asks', 'Angel chickens out and Gunn asks' and a variety of other categories he didn't want to know about. Names of his so-called friends and family filled in the grid.
People were crowding around the board, which should have meant that they were leaving Angel alone with his lovers, but no. The three of them were pushed along with the crowd, until he was suddenly standing next to Dawn, instead of Gunn, and Wesley was being grabbed round the neck by Larry. Angel could hear him choking out a request for air. Larry just laughed, and said, "Man, I can't believe it-- who knew that not only was Harris gay-- well, who besides me knew-- but everybody he knows, too!"
"Um, I'm not," Riley said, smiling politely.
"So who *won*?" Harmony asked, in a non-brain-melting vocal range, now.
Dawn, who was happily counting money, stood up on a chair, and said loudly, "For the benefit of everybody who entered the 'who asks first' pool-- nyah nyah-- none of you won. It was Drusilla. For the benefit of everybody who entered the 'who wins the who asks first pool' pool, that would be... me!" She jumped down from the chair and began to copy Buffy's tribal dance, motion for motion. It was rather frightening. "Go Dawnie, you're the winner, uh-huh, uh-huh..."
"You *ran* the pool! You weren't allowed to enter!" Cordelia snapped.
"I wasn't allowed to enter the "who asks first" pool," Dawn replied, not stopping her dance. "Nobody said anything about the 'who wins the who asks first pool' pool." She paused to stick her tongue out, and continued dancing and chanting. "Go Dawnie, who da woman...." Angel was watching her sway her hips, and realized he was *definitely* going to hell.
"I thought you simply wanted us to go upstairs and help you 'jerk off'," Wesley said, thankfully distracting him. Then he realized what Wes had said, and wondered if he weren't *in* hell.
"Um," he replied, glibly. Definitely in hell, because they had known all along, and they still weren't saying 'yes, of course, let's go upstairs and have sex'. They hadn't answered his question yet, either. He started to give them his best pout, the one he *hadn't* taught Spike, no matter what anyone said, when Wesley muttered under his breath and headed towards the office.
At which point Angel realized he'd been hearing the phone ring, and that the answering machine was still broken, because it hadn't picked up. It stopped ringing and Wes didn't immediately reappear, so Angel supposed he'd caught it. Great-- prolong the agony, why don't you, God. It was probably someone trying to sell them a subscription to some obscure occult journal that Wes didn't already take, which meant Wes wouldn't return for another half an hour, especially if the guy went into the hard-sell routine. Wes would come back with three new subscriptions, a free bonus gift of some cursed antique or other, and a guilty grin on his face.
Dawn had stopped dancing and had disappeared, Angel noticed, as he tried to make his way over to Gunn. A moment later, he found out why, as Dawn reappeared on the stairs, Drusilla in tow. Well, not literally in tow, since Dru's arms were full of the piranha tank that she was carefully holding in front of her. When she saw Angel watching her, Dru grinned blindingly.
"Angel, I've won the pool! Isn't that wonderful?"
"Um...yeah..." he said, bemusedly. It occurred to him that Cordelia might have had a point about letting the psychics enter the betting.
"Now my little ones can go swimming with Auntie Dru!"
"I don't think they meant *that* pool," Angel began.
Drusilla frowned at him, then she pouted. Arg. Oh, to be evil again just so he could withstand those pouts...for a while. "I don't get the pool?" she asked.
"The money we bet, remember?" Dawn spoke up, trying to sound excited for her. "On who was gonna ask who to get married?"
Dru just pouted some more. "Where will my babies swim, then?"
Angel sighed. He knew he was going to regret this -- but Wesley was coming out of the office, much sooner than he'd feared, so he didn't care anymore. "Yes, you can have the pool, Dru."
She squealed happily, and swept away. "Come on, my dears," she cooed at the piranha. "Let's go swimming!"
Dawn rolled her eyes at Angel, and he shrugged. Like anyone didn't *know* he was a pushover when it came to Dru. So was Spike, and no one ragged on *him* about it.
Trying not to look nervous, Angel waited as Wesley walked up to them. Right before he reached the center of the group now facing Angel and Gunn, Gunn turned to Angel and said, "Yeah, sure."
Somebody -- felt like Buffy -- elbowed him, hard. "He said 'yes', doofus."
"Oh. Um, oh." Angel knew he was grinning like a dorky loon. Didn't care. Before he smashed his lips onto Gunn's, he turned to Wesley.
Who was watching them with a quiet expression. His eyes were shuttered, and all he said was, "I have to go to England."
The room erupted into 'What?'s and 'why?'s and 'you can't go *now*!'s. He waited until the noise had dimmed a bit, before explaining.
"My father's had a heart attack -- not bad, I'm assured, but he's in hospital and I should be there."
Angel said nothing for the span of one heartbeat, then, "We'll go with you."
Wesley smiled, gently. "That isn't necessary -- and I'm not certain my family would appreciate it. Being accompanied by my two male lovers -- one of whom is a vampire?" He shook his head. "I'll only be gone one night, possibly two."
"You sure?" Gunn demanded. "Because we can go, pretend we're just, you know, good friends."
But Wesley shook his head. "That won't be necessary," he said again. "But I appreciate the offer." Wesley took half a step before Angel realized he was intending to go *now* -- teleporting to England. He started to reach out and stop him, when Wesley gave him a ever-so-slightly mischievous smile, ruined only by the shadow in his eyes. Wesley leaned forward and kissed him. "I'll give you my answer when I return."
Then he vanished.
Angel supposed he must have looked shocked. Or flabbergasted. Or just dopey, which Cordelia was always happy to assure him he looked all the time, so he didn't need to worry about it. He was staring at the empty space where Wes had been standing, when Gunn nudged him. "Uh... yeah...?"
"He'll be fine."
Angel blinked, then nodded. Of course he'd be fine-- Wes was the strongest one of them, when the shit really came down. Angel would just rather they were with him, so they could all be fine together. "Yeah, I know. At least 'til he gets back here and I get even with him for making me wait for my answer."
Gunn gave him the big brown eyes. The 'don't shit me' eyes. "You did mean that, right? That wasn't some 'Spike and Xander did it, so I gotta do it too or they'll think I'm an unromantic dork' thing, was it?"
Angel blinked at him. "Am I a newt?"
Gunn blinked back. "What part of 'did you mean that' sounded like 'are you a newt' to you? Harmony break your eardrums or something?"
"Well, yeah, there's a distinct possibility. But I mean, did I turn into a newt? I'm still under that spell, you know."
Gunn's eyes widened, and he broke into the shit-eatingest grin Angel had ever seen on the man. "Yeah? You mean the truth spell? And Wes gone for two days, too. Heh. Oh, yeah, this is gonna be good. So, Angel, how do you *really* feel about my new truck?"
Angel glared at him. Then glared some more. Then twitched his lips in the beginning of what he hoped was a wry grin, and not a permanent facial tic. "I..." He realized everyone was looking at him, as conversations stilled.
He thought fast, which was really rather amazing, the way this morning had been going. Leaning forward, Angel grabbed Gunn by the shoulders and kissed him. Hard. Somewhere in the first five seconds, things shifted, and it became less about distracting Gunn and more about Angel getting distracted, himself. Somewhere in the next ten, it got all mushy and damn-straight-I-was-serious and don't-worry-everything's-gonna-be-fine, but Angel was a bit too distracted to notice when it happened.
When they finally broke the kiss, the chorus of 'awwwwwwwww's and other mushy-sounding things almost drowned out Gunn's whispered, "Chickenshit..." But the grin on Gunn's face wasn't shit-eating at all, anymore.
Angel just looked back at him as though he didn't have a clue what Gunn was talking about. Gunn just looked back as though he knew damn *well* Angel knew exactly what he was on about, and don't think you're wriggling out of this one. Angel just looked more clueless.
Then Gunn asked, "I been meaning to ask--" and Angel *knew* he should just throw Gunn over his shoulder and run upstairs before Gunn finished his sentence. But he didn't. Because he was in hell. "You wanna dress up like a schoolgirl, again?"
"I wanna fuck you until you scream," Angel said simply, and threw Gunn over his shoulder.
"Yeah, but do you wanna wear the--" Gunn was saying, but the applause drowned him out, thank God.
Then Angel was upstairs, and couldn't hear the catcalls and comments about the ponytails, anyway. He made *damn* sure they all heard Gunn scream, though.