Simple

Disclaimers: Cowboy Bebop belongs to Bandai.

Warnings: Implied slash, Spike/Vicious.

Summary: It's all for a purpose. Written in bitterness, introspection, and analysis of said purpose.

Radishface

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Spike always got soused for a reason. He never drank by himself, he never drank alone, in a room, a lit room or a dark room, it didn't matter. Drinking was a social activity, and drink was something that was meant to be shared. When he had been drinking and he was in a crowd, holy fuck, it could be better than a woman. Check it out, look at Spike, usually more on the dry, reserved side, always willing to make a crack at somebody, look at him now, smashed beyond all good will and grabbing asses, look at him make a fool out of himself.

Half of him enjoyed it, enjoyed the frivolity. The other half kept itself clear, kept itself focused on the purpose of acting like a fool.

The room was dark, the music was loud. Syndicate members had taken off their jackets and it was a flurry of loose ties and untucked white shirts grinding up against tube tops and fishnet stockings. Belts were being undone, Spike saw. Shin was doing a line of coke behind a VIP curtain, Mao had his hand up some bitch's cunt. Spike could care less about the drugs and the pussy, he was out for something else.

A purpose, he had to keep his purpose in mind. Even when his world was spinning crazily and he could barely stand on his two feet and he had to think and search for his words, the most simple of words, he was on it. He was game. He fluttered (if it could be called fluttering) from booth to booth, from woman to woman, from laugh to laugh. Everything was hilarious and the music was too loud. The DJ was fucking his shit up, Spike thought, the lights were out of synch with the music, the lights weren't working half the time. It didn't matter. Nobody was paying attention anyways.

It was dark, and he liked it that way. He made his way to the bar and gestured to the bartender, whose face had taken on an eerie glow (due to the neon lights) and eerie proportions (due to Spike's inebriation). The fucker remembered him, and poured him another two shots. Spike downed one, relishing the burn in his throat. Fire in a shotglass, fire in his esophagus, fire in his gut, fire in his eyes. He didn't want to extinguish it, he wanted to spread it around. Light the whole damn place up in flames. He didn't fucking care.

Life was never as good as it was now.

He carried the other shot past the squirming crowds, past the stench of sweat and the grinding bodies and the smoke and spastic lights, and he brought it to Vicious. Vicious, sitting on a lounge chair by himself, smoking the same fucking cigarette he'd been smoking for the last two hours, in the same position as he'd been in the last two hours. During the last two hours, Spike had sent five shots his way, and had made sure that Vicious had shared four more drinks with various hookers. All the time, that same cigarette was still lit, embers glowing on an edge, ash on Vicious' jacket, the white stuff quite visible in the ultraviolet light.

"Fucker." Spike slurred, and slammed the drink down on the arm of the chair. Some of it spilled onto his hand. "Have another."

Vicious turned his head up, maddeningly slow, and looked at Spike out from the corner of his eye. "I've had enough, thank you."

"Viciousss…" Spike said, and lost his train of thought. Oh, if only the S wasn't so distracting. It made him think—of snakes? Or Vicious? Same damn thing. Same fucking thing.

"You, on the other hand—" Vicious faced Spike more openly now, and took a drag from the cigarette. Spike reached down and grabbed it from between his lips , took a drag himself. "You've had too many."

Let Vicious think he was outrageous. Spike could work with that. It had happened before. "You think so?" He perched on the edge of the seat, hand still on the shotglass. "Fuck."

"Give me that." Vicious took the glass from him and threw his head back.

"Strong, isn't it." Spike leered. "Pussy."

Vicious shook his head.

Easy, Spike. Play it easy. Play it simple. Just take it slow. Give it time.

"Cunt." Spike said, surprised he could still manage his mental thesaurus at this time. "You're a fucking waste of space, you know that? You come to a fucking party and don't expect to get fucking trashed—"

"That's not everybody's purpose."

"You don't say." Spike grinned, made himself look as cocky, as drunk, as possible. Let Vicious see the gleam in his eyes, let Vicious infer for himself. Spike was drunk at this point, and not responsible for his actions. "Excuse me."

Vicious' hand clamped down on his wrist. Spike suppressed the smirk that ached to express itself. Cat snatched the yarn, fish took the bait.

"Where are you going?"

"Where do you think?" Spike let his tone fill with derision, a little sarcasm, covered it up with some good nature. "Off to the bar."

"I just saw you there." Vicious' grip tightened on Spike's wrist. "You're going home."

"You can't make me." Spike taunted. It was time to break out the fucking kid, the petulant brat. Let Vicious think he was drunk, let Vicious think he was in charge, that he was in control, that he could take Spike home and feel less guilty in the morning because this act of benevolence had some sort of fucking repentance clause attached to it.

Fucking let him think that way, Spike wasn't going to stop it.

"Come on." Vicious tugged, and Spike let himself sway with it. He let the music overtake him for a minute.

Can't let go yet. Can't give in yet. Get your game back on, fucker, it's not over.

"Yeah, well." And Spike let himself drop onto Vicious' shoulder, let himself cling on for support. Vicious' arm came around his back, his hand pressed into his hip. He was absurdly warm. Spike wondered where their jackets were. He decided not to mention it. There was a certain path they were going to take, the one that led out of the basement, through the hallway and past the bouncer, and to the taxis. Vicious wouldn't send him off on his own. Vicious would come with him, fucking responsible prick that he was.

Spike lifted his head, enough to see, enough to show a little neck, gleaming from the sweat, enough so that if he turned to talk, his lips would be brushing against Vicious' ear, enough so that when he turned to talk, he could slow at the S in Vicious' name and let it draw out, and implication, a dirty word.

Let Vicious think he was drunk.

They got in the taxi, Vicious spoke to the cab driver, Spike let himself go for a minute, regenerate. He closed his eyes and leaned on Vicious, letting his hand rest uselessly on Vicious' thigh, palm down, fingers moving just slightly, tiny scratching motions. It was an absent movement, an afterthought, something someone drunk would do. It was meaningless, it was purposeless. Vicious' breath caught, and then came faster, and Spike dragged his hand across the vertical length of his thigh, and Vicious' hand caught him.

Spike looked up, blinked coyly, womanishly. Vicious was staring fixedly out the window.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" His voice came roughly, as if it had been pulled out from the quicksand. Spike tensed his hand, and Vicious let go.

Spike didn't answer—he just leaned to the other side, pulled away from Vicious, rested his head in his hands, and gave Vicious a quizzical look. He had no idea what was going on, he didn't know what he was doing any more than Vicious knew what he was doing.

The ride continued on in silence. Spike enjoyed feeling the tension grow, watching Vicious squirm. No, Vicious wasn't impervious, not to bullets, not to alcohol. Spike knew that underneath the bangs, there was a tinge of red flushed high on cheekbones. It was inevitable.

The car came to a stop, and Spike pretended to be asleep. Vicious had gotten out of his side of the car. He could feel the footsteps on the ground, he felt it when Vicious opened the door on his side. Spike put his weight on the door, and almost fell down onto the ground, if Vicious had not caught him.

He gave a start, looked around with wide open eyes, everywhere except for Vicious. He let himself be mauled and pulled out of the car, let his arm be thrown around Vicious' back, let Vicious snake an arm around his waist and help him limp along. They were at Vicious' apartment.

"Keys." Vicious murmured. Spike shrugged uselessly, helplessly. "Damn it."

"Just get them." Spike suggested, and closed his eyes. "Whatever."

Vicious' hand went into his pocket, and Spike put his hand over Vicious' wrist, looked up, straight into the other man's eyes. "Sorry." He whispered, letting a small chuckle escape him.

They held the gaze, and then Vicious looked away.

Vicious got the keys from his right pocket and opened the door. Spike stumbled in, wondering about the placement of shoes, the things left strewn on the floor that day. Vicious caught him before he fell, again. They made their way into the living room, and Spike flopped down onto the couch.

Silence. Spike's face was pressed into the couch cushion, so he couldn't see a damn thing. But he knew Vicious was there, standing at the end of the couch, hands in his pockets, feet tensing inside his shoes. Spike knew every inch of Vicious was quivering with the effort to remain in control, to not stumble, to not fall like Spike had, to not slur his words or appear drunk in any way. Vicious loved to lie to himself.

"We left our jackets there." Vicious said.

"Fuck." Spike murmured into the pillow, without surprise.

"I should go back and get them."

"Hell, Vicious." Spike flipped around on the couch, faced the ceiling instead, cushion hugged tight in his arms. "It's not worth it."

"Those are expensive jackets, Spike."

Oh, it's Spike now, he's actually saying my name, this is interesting.

"They've probably finished up, anyways." Spike murmured. "I don't know. You can go back and check."

That was always important—establishing the way out. Vicious could leave now, and have a legitimate excuse for doing so. Spike wasn't going to force it.

Vicious held himself carefully, Spike could tell. His weight was pressed back further on the far foot, the one closest to the exit. Spike gambled that the odds were even. Vicious wasn't going.

And indeed, Vicious sat down on the end of the couch, leaned back and sighed.

"You like playing hard to get." Spike started, and then caught himself.

Shit, man, shit. Too soon, too soon. You've gotta wait, fucker, you've gotta play it out the right way, and you fucked it up.

But the damage was done. Vicious had tensed, Spike could feel it radiating off of him.

Silence again, the awkward kind. Spike pretended to be asleep again, threw one hand over his face, breathed heavily, forced himself to relax completely; the couch sagged under his weight. Five minutes passed, Spike counted. Vicious relaxed again. Spike was willing to be a million that Vicious was looking at him right now.

Another five minutes. Vicious got off the couch. Two minutes. Shower water running. Three minutes. Shower off. Five minutes. Spike got off the couch, and headed to the bedroom.

Vicious was asleep, or he seemed to be. The covers were bunched up around his arms, he was shirtless. Moonlight streamed in through the blinds and Spike kneeled down by the bed, hands clasped, waiting.

Vicious opened his eyes, but still didn't look at Spike.

"What do you want?" He asked, voice gruff, husky. Spike let himself smile.

"What do you think?"

Vicious closed his eyes and shook his head. "Spike," he whispered. "Not now."

"Then what time is good for you?" Spike hissed, and stood up. "You only talk when you're like this, when I'm like this. This is supposed to be your fucking sanctuary. I'm gone in the morning, and you never have to remember, and we never have to talk about it. That's my fucking deal."

"What do you want?"

"To talk."

"Spike—"

"What the hell's the matter with you?"

Vicious sighed, squeezed his eyes shut. His breath smelled like alcohol, Spike could smell it from where he was.

"You know I can't."

"I fucking know you can't."

"I shouldn't have to tell you anything."

"We're here now."

"Spike—"

Vicious reached out, eyes still closed, still hiding. His knuckles grazed Spike's, he opened up his hand. Spike took it, and their fingers interlaced.

Vicious' grip was strong, was tight. He squeezed Spike's hand, ran his fingers over the knuckles, around the wrist, tracing the veins. Spike traced the line of Vicious' jaw with his free hand, down his nose, over his eyebrows, over his eyelids. Vicious didn't move, but held onto Spike's hand. Spike didn't expect anything more.

Five minutes. Vicious's hold on his hand loosened, his breathing came deep and easy. He was asleep.

Spike kept kneeling for a minute, just watching Vicious sleep. Then he picked himself up, walked across the room, and shut the door behind him.

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