Note:This was written for the GX 100 challenge on LiveJournal.

Spirits

By: SilvorMoon

"C'mon, it wasn't that bad."

"It was awful."

"You're just being negative. You played fine." That was Fubuki, supportive as always.

"If I'd played fine, then I wouldn't have lost!" Manjoume retorted.

Fubuki just laughed, which didn't help Manjoume's mood much, but it was truly hard for Fubuki not to be a little amused. Manjoume always carried on like every loss he took was the end of his career. Thankfully, his losses were rare, so he didn't often abuse his friends ears with his dramatics.

"It's not funny," Manjoume said sullenly. He huddled more deeply into his jacket, folding his arms across his chest and hunching his shoulders, radiating annoyance at the unfairness of the world.

"I know it's not funny," said Fubuki soothingly. He slung an arm over his old friend's shoulders. "I know what you need. Why don't you come back to my apartment with me and hang out for a while?"

Manjoume looked like he would disagree, but then he shrugged. "Whatever. Just lemme get my agent off my back."

He fished a cell phone out of his pocket and began a snappish conversation with whoever was on the other end of the line. Fubuki tuned it out. He had often wondered just how Manjoume's support team managed to deal with his attitude, but he suspected it had something to do with the fact that Manjoume usually won his duels and everyone got a percentage of his winnings.

"All right, I'm clear," said Manjoume at last. "As long as I'm ready for my interview tomorrow I can stay out all night for all they care."

"Good," said Fubuki cheerfully. "Your car or mine?"

They took Fubuki's car. It was his newest acquisition: sleek, bright blue, with a design that made it look like it was breaking the speed limit even when it was sitting still. He'd purchased it with his earnings from his latest film, in which he played a handsome duelist who saved a beautiful woman from a terrible fate. It was more or less exactly like every other movie he'd been in, and had therefore been wildly successful. He drove smoothly through city traffic, blowing kisses to passing girls as he stopped at stoplights, while Manjoume sat silently in the passenger seat and stared out the front window. Fubuki didn't even bother trying to talk to him, but sang enthusiastically to the music on the radio.

Within a few minutes, they had reached Fubuki's apartment, and Manjoume walked across the room to drape himself over the couch in an attitude of utter dejection.

"You wait right there," Fubuki told him. "I'll be right back."

Manjoume made a vague noise. However, after a few moments had passed, he sat up again, having decided that attitudes of utter dejection weren't very comfortable. Besides, it was hard for him to remain sulky when Fubuki was around, especially in this place. Not even Manjoume could take himself seriously for long in an apartment furnished with faux-bearskin rugs, bead curtains, a sofa with purple zebra stripes, a selection of lava lamps, and a heart-shaped hot tub in the bathroom. Manjoume couldn't have stood to live there even on the semi-permanent basis that Fubuki occupied it, but he had to admit that it made for an interesting change of pace. He got up and began snooping around, examining the DVD collection and an enormous rack of CDs, before the sound of clinking bottles eventually led him back to the kitchen, where Fubuki was busy mixing things.

"What are you doing?" asked Manjoume, although the answer was obvious.

"Hang on, I'm almost done," said Fubuki. He poured a dash of something into a large shaker, rattled it around thoroughly, and poured the resulting mixture into two tall glasses. "Here you go! This'll make you feel better in no time."

Manjoume found himself being presented with a large quantity of some peculiar ice-cold liquid, in an odd shade of pinkish-purple that looked as though it should require a warning for radioactivity.

"What is it?" he asked.

"It's called a Naughty Fantasy. I invented it!" said Fubuki proudly.

"Okay, but what's in it?"

"Oh, this and that," said Fubuki. "There's cherry juice and grenadine and some other stuff. It's good. You'll like it."

Manjoume was not thoroughly convinced by this endorsement, but he took a careful sip of it anyway. The taste was sweet and smooth, with a hint of a fizz to it. Encouraged, he took a more enthusiastic drink and felt the stuff gently warming the pit of his stomach, relaxing away some of the tension that had been there.

"See? See?" said Fubuki. "I told you you'd like it!"

"Yeah, well," said Manjoume, and took another sip of his drink. He decided it was a good time to retreat back to the living room. Fubuki followed him with his own drink in hand and sat down on the other end of the sofa.

"How do you live in this crazy place and not go blind?" asked Manjoume, casting his gaze over the colorful furnishings.

"I like it," said Fubuki, plainly not offended in the least. "I think it has character."

"Yeah, it definitely has that," said Manjoume. "But between you and me, I think the pink heart-shaped tub is a little over the top."

Fubuki just laughed. "It has its uses."

"Yeah, I'll bet."

"Keep complaining and I'll throw you in it!"

"You wouldn't," said Manjoume.

Fubuki considered. "You're right, I wouldn't. Takes too long to fill it up."

"That's reassuring," said Manjoume. He sighed and settled more comfortably into the deep cushions of the sofa. "Man, I really screwed up tonight. I can't believe I lost a duel to some stupid newbie who's only been in maybe five duels."

"You didn't screw up, he just got lucky," said Fubuki. "And it was his seventh pro duel, but I'm pretty sure he played in a lot of tournaments before this one."

"I still shoulda won."

"You definitely should have won. You played a really good game," said Fubuki. "Everybody was cheering for you."

"I guess you're right," said Manjoume. He was thawing a little. The drink was helping, but it was mostly Fubuki's doing. No matter how hard he worked at being prickly and aloof, Fubuki could always get under his shell.

"Of course I'm right," said Fubuki. "Everything will be fine. Just think of it as drama!"

Manjoume raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, drama?"

"You know, like in the movies," said Fubuki. "The hero always pulls through just when it looks like the badguy is going to win. Like that. It'll just be more dramatic when you win next time."

"Yeah, I guess you're right..."

"Of course I am," Fubuki insisted. "That's your style! I mean, you can't be the Phoenix who arises from the fires of Hell if you're on top all the time."

"Yeah, I guess that makes sense," Manjoume agreed. He tipped his glass back to drain the last drops. "You got any more of this purple stuff?"

Fubuki thought about. "Enough for one more, anyway. More than that and you won't walk out of here."

Manjoume considered that for a moment and decided that Fubuki was probably right about that, too. He generally didn't drink, since he needed to keep his wits keen for dueling. He had no idea how it was that Fubuki was managing to drink the stuff without showing any side- effects. Then again, Fubuki usually acted a little drunk.

"Maybe just half a glass," said Manjoume.

"Good idea!" Fubuki said. "I'll split it with you."

He took Manjoume's glass and ambled off to the kitchen. Manjoume stretched out on the sofa, making himself comfortable amidst the fluffy cushions, and stared vaguely at a lava lamp sitting on a shelf across from him. It was full of purple liquid, not too different from the stuff he'd just been drinking. There were blue blobby things in it, and he watched as they rose to the top, drifted slowly to the bottom, and then rose back to the top again. He supposed that he must be more drunk than he'd thought he was, to think that there was something a bit profound about that.

Fubuki returned and dropped onto the sofa next to him.

"Scoot over," he said.

"Don't sit on me," Manjoume complained, but he scooted anyway. "Why can't you go back to sitting over there?"

"I'm keeping you company," said Fubuki. He stretched out next to Manjoume and propped himself on the arm of the sofa. It was rather tight quarters, but Fubuki didn't seem to mind. Manjoume might have minded a little, but before he could actually object to it, Fubuki shoved the half-filled glass at him and said, "Here you go. Drink up!"

Manjoume obediently took the glass and sipped at it. Fubuki gulped his down as though it were no stronger than lemonade, and then set his glass down on a nearby end table before snuggling down more comfortably, looking for all the world as though he intended to sleep right there. Manjoume supposed he ought to tell him to move, but he was feeling too groggy and lazy to do anything about it. He decided if it got too annoying, he could probably just push him over the edge.

"So," said Fubuki, "you feel better now?"

"I guess I do," Manjoume said.

Fubuki smiled and nodded. "I told you so."

"Yeah, yeah."

He reached back to set his empty glass next to Fubuki's, and then settled down and closed his eyes.

"You wanna crash here tonight?" said Fubuki.

Manjoume made an indeterminate noise.

"Okay," said Fubuki. "Don't snore. 'Cause I don't think I wanna get up."

He yawned widely, and within a few seconds, he was out like a light and snoring gently. Manjoume sighed. Some nights, you just couldn't win.

All the same, he didn't feel nearly as annoyed about it as he should have. It was worth all the annoyance Fubuki caused just to have someone around who could raise his spirits.