The green-skinned demon slouched back in his chair, one hand still extended to protect his Sea Breeze, and eyeballed his visitors with skepticism. "Much as I love you crazy kids, let me restate this in words simple enough to penetrate those adorable little puddings of yours: no. Hell, no."
Angel and Wes exchanged a glance, then Wes cleared his throat and shifted forward to fold his arms on the table. "Lorne, we understand--"
"Whoa." Lorne held up his free hand to call a halt. Somewhere across the busy club, a mournful tentacled creature howled its way into the opening strains of 'All By Myself'. With an almost dangerous, but not really if you knew him, glare, Lorne said, "You understand? Hey, now there's a trick. Because sitting at this table here I count two demons, and you ain't one of them. So explain this to me, kemosabe." His voice was growing more strident, and Wes's shoulders began to hunch in self-consciousness at the dressing down. "Explain how you *understand*," scathing drop in tone, "about being banged into lock-up by insane government commandos and experimented on and tortured until your eyeballs are bleeding out your ears. And hey, did I mention that's literal?"
Wes dipped his head to avoid Lorne's gaze, then raised it again deliberately after a moment of collective, uncomfortable silence. "You're right. I can't comprehend that." Next to him, Angel was simply watchful.
Reaching over, Cordelia squeezed Lorne's drink hand where it tightly clenched the glass. "We know you don't want to go back--"
"Damn straight I don't, sister. And if you think I'm letting you take that little frosted cupcake of mine along on your picnic to hell, you've got another think coming." Lorne stared her down until Cordelia darted a glance at Angel that confirmed their guilt. "You see that hottie behind the bar?" he went on, prompting Angel and Cordy to clock a quick glance in Spike's direction, where the vampire was mixing drinks. Only Wes didn't bother to turn around and look. "Well, that's where he stays. I've got a nice silver chain around his ankle, engraved with 'Property of Lorne,' and the other end is planted right here." He smacked his drink down on the table with a tiny bang.
Angel looked appalled and faintly queasy, face squinching. "Really?"
"No, you big lunkhead. *That's* figurative."
"And...very romantic," Wes said in a careful, delicate voice that left much else unspoken. "And if we didn't need you both, we wouldn't have come."
Leaning in, Lorne fixed Wes with a glare. "That little bunny's been served through hell on a hot plate, and if you want him back it'll be over my dead and severed kresthkas. Now if you folks will excuse me, I have a club to run. Drinks are on the house, and the hostess'll find you a nice table by the pool. Stay as long as you like."
He loomed and left in a red-suited simmer.
"I've never seen him like that," Angel remarked, watching him head toward the bar.
Cordy raised a brow. "Well, look what we're asking him to do, Angel. Of course he's going to be freaked."
Hey there, creamcake, they heard him say from across the room. Cordy turned her head to match Angel's gaze, and saw Lorne patting Spike on the ass, which was something she frankly could have died happily without *ever* seeing. Spike had cocked his head to one side and was listening attentively to something Lorne said; as she watched, he lifted his eyes and stared toward their table over the demon's big shoulder. His cool lack of expression didn't promise much help for their cause. After several more moments and a few light, proprietary caresses from Lorne, Spike refocused on the demon, his face relaxing into a strange smile. He tipped his head further, ducked a flirty, sultry look behind his lashes at his companion, then planted a traffic-stopping wet one on him.
"Ewwww," Cordelia said with an instinctive, bone-deep sense of the world's grossness. But then again, it *was* a bit sweet.
God. What did they put in these drinks?