Title: Craziness Keeps the World Organized
Summery: The AI team is relaxing for once; unfortunately, their job doesn't call for much relaxation. So when they get tangled up in a fight with the wrong kind of demon, the boys are left feeling a little odd.
Timeline: Third season, before Darla comes back
A/N: Response to challenge set forth on AlienFX007's site (I also apologize if everyone's not exactly in character)
Disclaimer: For once I have no claim to any of these characters. They belong entirely to Joss Whedon and the good peeps at Mutant Enemy.
Craziness Keeps the World Organized
"I got 'em!" Cordelia said as she carried the large box through the doors of the Hyperion. "Cleaned the magic shop out of their mojo books."
"Excellent, just set them over there," Wesley said. Preoccupied with a dusty book he was immersed in, he motioning vaguely to a spot farther on the counter...the same place where Angel was reading up on his own.
Cordelia was unable to see as she tried to maneuver the box to the position she thought Wesley had indicated, just as Angel was taking a drink of his coffee. The box knocked Angel's arm and the coffee spilled all over sweatshirt. He swore and accidentally threw the mug across the lobby, eliciting more colorful language when he realized what he'd done. "Cordelia!" he said angrily. "Look where you're going!"
"Hey, it's not my fault, Wes told me to put it here," she defended.
"I'm fairly certain he didn't mean on me!"
"You're quick to assume," Wesley muttered, not looking up from his book.
Angel's sensitive hearing picked up Wesley's quiet voice and he jerked his head. "What?"
"Nothing, I didn't say anything," Wesley said quickly, going to the office and tossing Angel a spare shirt.
"The hell you didn't!" Angel said.
"OK, enough testosterone-powered dominance displays," Cordelia said, sounding annoyed. "It was an accident, I'm sure we'd all agree."
"Tell it to stuffy Watcher boy," Angel muttered, sounding all the world like a scolded child as he changed his shirt.
"Enough!" Cordelia snapped when Wesley began mimicking Angel. She turned to Fred who'd been quietly sitting on the couch. "Hey, when's Gunn getting back?"
"He said he'd be back at six," Fred shrugged.
"If he acts like these two, I hope he means in the morning," Cordelia sighed, sitting next to the Texan on the couch while Wesley and Angel glared at each other.
"Well, when Gunn gets back, we can take a break, whether he's acting like them or not," Fred said, matter-of-factly.
"I dunno," Cordy said wearily. "Maybe we need a break from each other instead of work."
"I don't know what good that'll do," Fred said, turning a page in her book. "We'll come back and still be at each other's throats."
"I don't know about that, you know what they say," Cordelia shrugged. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And right now, I would love it if I got to a point where I just cared for them so much....."
"Ah-right, ah-right, ah-right, we are outta here, baby!" Gunn said, jogging through the doors, holding his prizes. "For the ladies, I have reservations at the swanky French restaurant y'all have been talking about and for us men, I have front row seats to the Monster Truck Racing 8th Annual Smash!"
"Alright!" Angel said, taking the tickets and examining them.
"I must say, it's better than the pro wrestling match you were considering taking us to," Wesley said, looking over Angel's shoulder.
"Yeah, but, uh, the only thing is, it starts at eight, so we're gonna have to eat kinda fast," Gunn winced.
"What?!" Cordelia exclaimed, standing. "That's not fair!"
"Sure it is, this dinner's gonna cost more than these tickets along with you and Angel's wardrobe combined," Gunn said. "I think it's perfectly fair, do you realize how many favors we had to call in to get this kind of money? An' most of its going towards the dinner!"
"How'd you get the tickets then, I would have thought they were sold out by now," Cordy pointed, planting her hands on her hips.
"Easy, I just shook down a Breja demon. Big monster truck fan, he was all decked out when I got there and ready to go. Unfortunately for him, he's a big wuss too," Gunn said gleefully, playfully smacking Angel's arm.
Cordelia groaned and sat back down. "Men!"
Fred shrugged. "I dunno, I think it might be kinda fun."
"Atta girl!" Gunn smiled broadly.
Cordelia glared. "Traitor."
"Gee, you know, that meal might not have been too bad if I'd have been able to taste it!" Cordelia fumed from the back of Angel's car as the vampire sped down the road.
"Hey, they took too long," Angel said, hanging a sharp right turn. "It's not our fault."
"Sure it is!" Cordy said shrilly.
"How?" Wesley asked curiously.
Cordy stuttered for a little bit. "I don't know, but I'm sure it is somehow!" she said, crossing her arms defensively. She looked to her right. "Right, Fred?"
"Well, it's not like the guys were back cooking the food," Fred pointed out.
Cordelia groaned. "Can't I count on you for anything?"
"Here we are," Angel announced as they pulled into the large, packed parking lot. They could hear the heavy metal pounding from inside the stadium.
"Alright, this is gonna be awesome!" Gunn exclaimed. "Four hours of metal crushing, gears jamming, and gigantic trucks!"
"Four hours?" Fred said, almost fearfully. But they didn't hear her.
Angel suddenly stopped them a few yards from the gate. "Did you hear that?" he asked, looking into the deep shadows made by the stadium.
"Angel, man, whatever it was, we're off tonight," Gunn pointed out quickly.
"He has a point," Wesley quickly agreed.
"Hey, look, we can't just turn our back on the helpless, no matter how badly we want to take a day off," Cordelia said. "What is it, Angel?
"I think it is work-related," Angel confirmed, taking a step in the direction he was looking. He sniffed the air a little. "There's defiantly a demon out there. Come on."
"Cordelia, you and Fred come with me, we'll circle around back, try to trap it. Gunn, you stay with Angel," Wesley ordered, comfortable in his newfound element.
They split up as he'd commanded and went around to the other side of the shadow, acting as casual as they could. Angel and Gunn slowly crept to the darkness. "So you think this is a talking demon or a growling, snarling demon?" Gunn asked.
"It's defiantly a demon with damn good hearing, I'll give you that," a male voice snapped from the shadows. "I know who you are, you best better leave me alone."
"Who are you?" Angel asked, his eyes penetrating the darkness enough to see Wesley and the girls coming from the other direction.
"None of your business!" the darkness snapped. Angel could smell the fear coming from their target and for some reason it made him edgy. "I'm not doing anything!"
"If you're not doing anything, why are you so afraid?" Angel retorted.
"Then let us see you," Gunn spoke up, coming to Angel's side
Angel heard soft footsteps slowly approaching them.and some kind of powder was suddenly blown into his and Gunn's face. They both cried out, Gunn jumping back and batting at his face with his hands. They realized the demon had tried to run after his stunt when they heard the grunts and the sound of bodies hitting asphalt as Wesley tackled him. Cordelia and Fred rushed to help Angel and Gunn who were still trying to recover. "Stop, don't touch us!" Angel said, stumbling back and wiping his face. "We don't know what that stuff was, we don't want to get it on you too."
"Angel, should I be worried?" Gunn asked, rubbing his eyes. "I mean, you're worried about them, I'm kinda human too, ya know?"
"Strip down, get rid of all the clothing that has the stuff on it," Angel said, already following his own advice. He wasn't sure if it would affect him or not but he didn't want to find out. Angel saw Cordelia and Fred standing by, not sure what to do. So he gave them something. "Well? Go help Wesley!"
It wasn't long later that the demon was a gooey smear on the parking lot and Gunn and Angel were down to their boxers. Angel suddenly snorted a laugh at Gunn's direction. "What?" the ex-gang leader asked, sounding offended.
"Where'd you get those boxers?" Angel chuckled.
Gunn looked at the lime green boxers with pink hearts patterned on them. "Hey man, my sister gave them to me as a joke. Normally I don't wear them but it's laundry day!"
"Sure it is," Angel said, trying to feign seriousness through his smile.
"Well, hey, those are pretty nuts too, where'd you get yours, huh?" Gunn retaliated.
Angel looked at his single-color blue boxers and shrugged. "Wal-Mart?"
"Hey you guys, I'm sure the whole population of the stadium would love to see you guys out here in your underwear but we should go home to see if that was baby powder he got on you or something a little more lethal," Cordelia said.
"Right. I'm driving!" Gunn suddenly yelled and ran at full speed past Cordelia, towards Angel's car.
"Right, OK, I'm scared," Cordy said brightly. "Angel, grab your clothes, let's go."
"I'm not going any where," Angel said a little defensively, crossing his arms and looking very much like Cordelia had earlier that afternoon, if Cordelia had been a male vampire clad in nothing but boxer shorts.
Wesley frowned. "Why not?" he asked.
"When I took my pants off, I had to take off my shoes too and I'm not going any where without my shoes," he said.
"You're kidding, right?" Fred asked, glancing at Wesley and Cordelia.
"No, I'm not!" Angel said, his face a mask of seriousness.
"Then get your shoes on," Cordelia said, getting annoyed.
"Nope, I'm not gonna do it," he said, leaning mostly on one leg and tapping his opposite foot.
"Why not, Angel, what's wrong with you?" Wesley asked, frowning.
Angel was quiet for a minute as he twisted his hips and thought about it. "I just don't want to lean over and put my shoes on, that's all. And I'm not leaving without them on my feet."
"Well then that's a problem, isn't it?" Cordelia asked, annoyance turning to anger.
"Cordy, I think it might be that powder stuff," Fred said. "It's making him act weird."
"So what are we supposed to do?" Cordy said as if she expected Fred to have an answer but knew she didn't.
"Well, getting my shoes on would be a good way to start," Angel said haughtily.
"You must be joking," Wesley said, frowning deeply.
"Nope," Angel drawled, looking up at the sky as he continued to tap his foot impatiently.
Wesley grimaced. "Very well. Cordelia, help me."
Cordy's eyes widened. "Excuse me?"
"If I have to put on a two-and-a-half centuries old vampire's shoes, to hell if I'll suffer alone!" he hissed. "Now help me!"
Cordelia began muttering vague obscenities as she grabbed Angel's boots and chucked one at Wesley. They knelt in front of Angel and went to put his foot in when he jerked it away. "Hey, I don't know what you think you're doing but I never wear shoes without my socks!" the vampire stated, slightly pouting.
"Oh for Pete's sake," Cordelia grumbled, grabbing Angel's socks from a few feet away.
When they got Angel's socks on and his boots laced, they stood up and went back by Fred who was feeling very awkward being the only one standing other than a nearly naked vampire. "There," Wesley said. "Now can we go?"
Angel considered for a second. "Fine," he said and walked past them, following Gunn's path.
"God, I'd kill for a camera," Cordelia said, shaking her head as she watched her former boss saunter back to the car.
"Why? I certainly don't want to remember this," Fred said, hugging herself.
"Neither do I. But do you realize the bonus in blackmail I could get from him whenever he snaps out of this?" Cordy asked. "I mean, how many times is Angel going to strut around the parking lot of a very public place in nothing but his underwear and boots with his socks nearly pulled up to his knees? It's priceless."
Wesley stepped up to them. "I have their clothes, let's go," he said.
Gunn swerved the car onto two wheels as he turned the corner in the Hyperion's parking garage. "Whoo hoo!! Rock on, L.A.!" he called, pumping both hands into the air.
"Gunn, hang onto the wheel!" Cordy yelled, clinging to Fred and Angel in the backseat.
Gunn grabbed the steering wheel just in time to swerve away from an oncoming wall. Unfortunately they were still in the turn and the Plymouth slammed into the neighboring one. Everyone was thrown against the restraints of their seatbelts and slammed back into the seats. "Man, what a rush!" Gunn said after several seconds, breaking the dead silence.
"Rush?! You killed my car!" Angel exclaimed, unbuckling himself and jumping out of the convertible. He inspected the damage to the hood then turned to glare angrily at the black man sitting behind the steering wheel. "What if I went and got your truck into a T-bone?"
"Don't you go threatening my girl!" Gunn said, struggling with the seatbelt before he was able to unfasten it and climb out. "You're traveling on thin ice, bruh!"
"Yeah, well, look what you did to my car!" Angel said, stepping up to Gunn.
"You wanna go?!" Gunn asked, his arms moving out from his sides.
"Yeah!" Angel pushed Gunn, who retaliated in like.
Their arms got tangled up and they ended up batting at each other, their eyes squeezed shut and their faces averted. "Oh my god, they're chick fighting," Cordelia said. "OK, I have to find something."
She popped the trunk of Angel's car and began digging through the contents, knowing that there was surveillance stuff in there somewhere. "Um.w-why are they doing this?" Fred asked Wesley as she watched Angel and Gunn.
"Beats the bloody hell outta me, craziness keeps the world organized," he said nonsensically.
Fred started to nod then stopped and frowned. "What?"
"Got it!" Cordelia said triumphantly, pulling the camera from the trunk. She focused on the fighting guys. "Say cheese!"
Fred walked into the office as Wesley was staring at his microscope, fascinated by the tube as it moved up and down when he turned the knob. "Wes? Have you figured out what that stuff was yet?" she asked, startling him.
He jumped and straightened. "Um, I, uh.no, not exactly, I, uh, got sidetracked." he trailed off, returning turning the knob.
She sighed and took Wesley's arm. "Come with me," she said.
"Where are we going?" he asked curiously.
"Just out to the lobby," she said innocently. When she got him out there, she said, "Now you find a nice book and go sit on the couch and read it, OK?"
"Um, yes, I suppose I could do that," he said, taking a book from the desk next to Cordelia.
"This is great," Cordelia said to Fred as she took more pictures. Gunn had put on more clothes but Angel had flat out refused and was now doing over- exaggerated poses with his broadsword from the weapons cabinet, an incredibly serious and concentrating look on his face. Gunn had a kaleidoscope and was standing in the center of the room, looking through it with absolute amazement.
"Cordy, it got to Wesley too," Fred said. "I think it was when he was holding their clothes, some of the powder got on him too."
"Oh man, no way," Cordy said, taking a picture of Angel holding the sword He-Man style.
"Cordelia, this is serious!" Fred said, pushing the camera down. "We have to find something to help them!"
Cordy sighed. "I know. So what can we do?"
"Well, I'll try to analyze that sample, maybe we can cure it when we find out what it is," Fred said with a shrug.
"OK.so, in the meantime.can I still take pictures?" Cordy asked hopefully.
Fred rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said with a little smile and went back into the office.
Cordelia returned her attention back to Angel and muttered to herself "Oh, Angel, honey, you wish you were that big.you would kill me if I took that picture.what the hell."
"You're not gonna do it, he won't do it."
"I will too!"
"Then do it!"
"In my own time, I will."
"You're time is too long, do it now while she's asleep!"
Gunn crept from the huddle of him, Angel and Wesley over to Cordelia who was slumped over the desk, fast asleep. She was using her arms as a pillow and lightly snoring. Angel stifled a laugh and grabbed a handful of Wesley's shirtsleeve. "He's gonna do it, he's gonna do it!"
"Sh!" Wesley hissed, a broad smile on his face.
Gunn carefully leaned over and looked up her nose. He turned and gave the vampire and former Watcher a thumbs-up and they energetically returned it. Carefully, so as not to wake her, he reached out and slid his pinky finger up her nose, scraping along the side as he removed it.
"What are you doing?" Fred asked, coming from the office.
Gunn jumped and straightened, accidentally smacking Cordy in the face. She snorted and sat up. "Wusgonon?" she mumbled groggily.
"He was picking your nose!" Fred said with a disgusted look as she came up and slapped a manila folder onto the desk.
"What? Eew!" Cordelia ran into the lobby and they could hear here splashing water on her face.
"They dared me to!" Gunn said in defense, vigorously pointing to Angel and Wesley.
"Huh-uh!" Angel said incredulously. He shook his head and crossed his arms. "He's lying, Cordy!"
"That's right!" Wesley agreed. "We told him nothing of the sort!"
"Two against one, you lose, Charles," Angel said, sticking his tongue out.
"Hey, none of that or I'll send you to different rooms!" Fred threatened.
Cordelia came out of the bathroom, rubbing her nose. "Nasty," she shuddered. She turned to Fred. "What'd you find?"
"Well, first, I found the demon. Wasn't that hard, it was a common Machna demon," Fred explained.
"Ah, yes, the Machna," Wesley began in an exaggerated tone of his reference- book-eater voice. "Very common, especially in North America and Asia-"
"Wesley, shut up," Cordelia snapped and he promptly obeyed. "Please continue, Fred."
"Well, remember the stuff Darla used on Angel, the Calynthia powder? Well, the Machna's main diet is the plant that Calynthia powder is made from. It's body makes its own type of powder though, as a defense mechanism. But instead of keeping a person under, like regular Calynthia, it kinda makes them crazy, as we've witnessed."
"How could it have affected a vampire though?" Cordelia asked.
"Well, it affects the brain. In a normal human, it goes through the skin, into the bloodstream, it usually doesn't bother vampires but Angel got a face shot, so."
"Lots of openings to the brain there," Cordy said, understanding.
"Eyes, nose, ears, you name it. More than likely though he inhaled it through his nose, I've noticed he still has that reaction," Fred said.
"So what do we do about it?" Cordy asked. "Does it eventually wear off or what?"
"Um, no, they have to be given an antidote to counteract the chemicals," Fred said. "But I have the recipe, it shouldn't be too hard to make. I could have it done by tomorrow afternoon."
"OK. Well, it'd probably be best to keep them here, I'll stay to keep an eye on them while you get started," Cordelia offered.
Fred nodded. "Right. I'll be in the kitchen."
Cordelia sighed and turned back to the guys who were sitting on the couch next to each other with their hands folded like good little boys. She drummed her fingers on the desk a few times then reached for her camera again. "Hey guys, do the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil thing for me!"
"Breakfast!" Cordelia sang as sashayed through the hotel door with the Mel- O-Cream box.
The boys, sensing that they'd been in trouble had fallen asleep on the couch, leaning on one another. They were jerked awake by Cordy's entrance. "Alright, I'm starved!" Gunn said happily as Cordelia opened the box on the counter.
Him and Wesley dug into them eagerly. Angel, still not having changed from his chosen outfit of boxers and boots, came over to watch them. He noticed Wesley trying to cram a Long John into his mouth. "That donut doesn't have a hole," the vampire stated.
Wesley paused and looked at his donut. "Why so it doesn't. But what does it matter?"
Angel looked like he was getting angry. "That donut has no control over its life! It probably wanted a hole but did anyone stop to think about what the donut wanted? What kind of defenders of the helpless are we if we can't help a donut get a hole?!"
"Angel, it-it's OK," Cordy said, patting his shoulder when he hung his head.
"Donuts are meant to have holes, Cordelia!" he sobbed. "What kind of insensitive person would deprive a donut of its hole?"
Cordelia shrugged. "Betty the baker from Mel-O-Cream?" she suggested.
"She is a cruel and evil person!"
Cordelia looked at him strangely. "Fred! How's that antidote coming along?"
"Alright, one hit of this stuff and they should be right as rain!" Fred said, coming out with a Ziploc baggie full of some kind of clear powder.
"Good, 'cause these guys are freaking me out!" Cordy said, jumping off the chair. "These past few hours, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear Wesley was hitting on Angel." She grimaced. "And I couldn't hear them but I think Gunn asked Wesley to elope. They're nuts!"
"At least.we hope they're nuts," Fred said, looking at Cordelia with worry.
Cordy emphatically shook her head. "Don't go there. This Machna demon made them crazy with that powder stuff and now we're gonna fix it."
"Down with insanity," Fred said, pouring some powder into her hand.
"Insanity?" Wesley asked, overhearing them. The walked over by Angel who was standing in the middle of the room and looking at the ceiling for no apparent reason. "We're not insane!"
"Right, sure you're not," Cordelia said, nodding.
"No! We're in love!" Wesley suddenly grabbed Angel's face and kissed him hard on the mouth.
"Wesley! Noooo!" Gunn jumped onto Wesley's back and began to try to hit Angel away but the ex-Watcher had a death grip on the vampire. "Not him, no, it can't be him!"
Cordy and Fred exchanged looks then Fred blew the powder into their faces. Their movements began slowing, the struggling stopping. Angel and Wesley opened their eyes and immediately jumped back from each other. Or rather, Angel jumped back and Wesley tried but ended up falling on Gunn who had still been clinging to his back. He rolled off. "My apologies," he said, helping Gunn up.
"No problem," Gunn said, looking shaken.
"What the hell is going," Angel asked, spitting on the floor a few times and wiping his mouth. He caught site of his body. "Where're my clothes?"
"You don't remember?" Fred asked. He shook his head. She turned to the others. "Any of you?"
More head-shaking. Cordelia looked down at her camera, which was now rewinding after it had filled up with the last picture she'd taken and smiled. "This is gonna be fun."
**1 week later**
Gunn jogged into the hotel once more. "Your gofer has returned and would like to remind you that his contract, along with his patience of the job is soon running out," he informed and began tossing different items to the different people. "Angel, new dagger, Wes, new demon book, Fred, new Physics book and Cordy, pictures."
Cordelia grabbed the pictures and eagerly opened the pack. She flipped through them, her smile getting bigger with each one. "Perfect," she said.
"What are they?" Angel asked, as he fixed his new dagger into his weapon's cabinet.
"Take a look for yourself," she said, tossing the pictures to the vampire. Wesley and Gunn went over to him and looked over his shoulder as he flipped through them. Like Cordelia's, their expressions intensified, only instead of glee, horror seemed to overcome them.
"Is this.is this what had happened when we were under the Calynthia powder from the Machna demon?" Wesley asked.
"Yup!" Cordelia chirped, her and Fred beaming. They'd already discussed this earlier.
"You know you're not getting these back, right?" Gunn verified.
"Keep 'em, we have negatives and the number to a billboard company," Fred said, smiling.
"You wouldn't," Angel said, narrowing his eyes.
"We would," Cordy said mischievously. "You know, Fred and I were thinking about another night off, except after supper at that restaurant, I know, we could stop by that new drive-in that opened up a few weeks ago!"
"That'd be fun, what old movie were they playing this week?" Fred asked, obviously already knowing the answer.
"I think it was Thelma and Louise! And we could watch it with our best friends!" Cordelia said, beaming at the boys.
Angel, Gunn and Wesley let out a collective groan.