“If the original Slayer is the one who has to take on this mission, why isn’t she here?” Lorne complained.
Angel took a seat on the teal, retro-modern couch. Lorne hadn’t invited him to sit, but for that matter, Lorne hadn’t exactly invited him in, either. Since this chic little apartment was technically a demon’s lair, there was no barrier against vampires. Angel wished he could believe that that suited Lorne just as well, but the tension that had risen between them before the Battle of Los Angeles had never really dissipated. “I didn’t think you would want me bringing anyone else to see you,” he replied.
“I’m the Host, remember? I host. Buffy has manners. Buffy is a glimmering star of righteousness. Buffy,” he went on, beginning to sound heated, “has never once sent me to do her soul-crushing dirty work and then waste away in obscurity. Next time you need something for Buffy’s sake, you can send her straight to me, because Buffy is always welcome here.”
There had been a time that Angel would have argued him down. Now he just sighed and asked, “So you’re not gonna let me sing?”
Lorne went across the room to his wet bar and began mixing a drink for himself, leaving Angel to marvel that he had found an apartment with the setup for a wet bar, and that he still wasn’t tired of Sea Breezes. “You can sing,” the demon informed him between clinks and splashes, “but not from your playlist of desperation. You know what you’re hearing now?”
“I’ve heard it before,” Angel admitted. He leaned over to peek at the record player, but didn’t see a name on the album that was spinning on it.
“Then sing along.”
Angel groaned. “Seriously? Okay, uh...’A-hooooooooo, wer--”
Lorne held up a hand to stop him almost immediately. “That’s enough.”
“There’s only one thing you need to know about where you’re headed, and it was waiting right under the surface. Let’s try some free association, sugarplum. When I say ‘wolf’, what are the next two words that occur to you?”
Confused, but encouraged by Lorne addressing him with an embarrassing diminutive, Angel tried to play along. “Silver bullet?”
“No, no, no,” said Lorne, taking an exasperated sip from his drink. “Not werewolf. Wolf.”
“Ram,” Angel replied, disquieted. “Hart.”
Lorne lifted his glass in Angel’s direction and nodded. “You didn’t think you were going just to keep the Slayer company, did you? Take care, Champion. This is a dark ride.”