Van looked like a man who was dying and knew it, and who expected to be treated (not to say: coddled) accordingly. He was not so much lying in bed as he was posing in it.
"Deaq!" he said, his tone adding the 'Finally!'.
"Hey, Van." There was a big fruits basket standing on the nightstand, untouched.
"I've only been sick for what - three days?" Van lifted his hand to vaguely wave in the direction of the night stand. "Good to know you care. Fruits basket's nice."
Billie's most likely, once she'd been convinced Van was actually ill. "Look, man, I was busy, all right? What do you think - that people stop committing crimes just because you're not feeling well? Newsflash, Van: they don't. I've been working my ass off these past days."
"That's right: blame it all on the sick guy," Van said. "You think I like this or something? Is that what you think? That I'm doing this for fun?"
Deaq shrugged. "All I'm saying is: if the shoe fits ... " Van scoffed. "No, I don't think you're doing this for fun, all right? I'm just saying you're not the only one having a hard time."
"You want to trade places?" Van asked. "Because, you know, I'm game."
"Can we maybe start this conversation over again?"
Van lay back, eyes closed as if he was simply too tired to argue. Perhaps he was; Deaq admitted that offer to trade places had sounded sincere enough, and it wasn't as if Billy'd had them writing parking tickets or something. "Whatever, dude."
"Okay." Deaq took a moment to consider, then rose, walked to the door, opened and closed it, and returned to the bed. "Hi, Van. I'm sorry I didn't come visit you before, but work is a little crazy now that I have to do both mine and your job. So how are you doing?"
Van didn't bother getting up or even opening his eyes. "You suck at this, you know that?"
"What do you want me to do: dress up as a nurse and feed you chicken soup or something?" Deaq chuckled. "Come on, man. You want to be alone? You want me to leave? Fine by me - just say the word."
Van opened his eyes. "No, I don't want you to leave, okay? I only want you to stop being so - I'm sick, all right? You should be nicer to me." Deaq chuckled and shook his head. "Polite," Van said. "You could be more polite. People do that, you know?"
"Yes, Mr. Ray. Anything else I can do for you, Mr. Ray?" Deaq grinned.
Van scowled. "You could at least call me 'Mr. Strummer'. That's what everybody else does. The cleaning staff, the barkeeps, the guy who takes care of my car - it's all 'Mr. Strummer' left and right and wherever the hell else I go."
"Up and down?" Deaq suggested.
"Funny," Van said. "In case you hadn't noticed: I'm sick."
Deaq hadn't actually meant that. "I'd kind of noticed. You're holding up pretty good, though. No whining at all, no sir."
"Okay, maybe I want you to go after all."
"Seriously, man, how are you feeling?"
"Seriously, man," Van replied, parrotting Deaq's tone, "I'm sick. My head hurts, my stomach hurts, my throat hurts - in fact, pretty much everything hurts. I've got a fever and I think I might have coughed my lungs out the other day. Oh, and I have a partner who won't even bring me any soup when I'm ill."
"You're in a hotel, Van. You want soup, you can call room service."
"That is so not the point and you now officially, totally suck as a partner." Van shook his head, then winced. "Look, c'mere."
Deaq stepped a little bit closer, not entirely sure what Van wanted now.
"Closer," Van said. "Come on, I won't bite."
"That's not what I've heard," Deaq said, trying to make it a joke, intending to make it a joke, except that then Van sat up and reached for him and sick, Deaq's ass - Van's grip sure didn't feel like he was any kind of sick, especially not when Deaq started to actually try to pull back because seriously, what the fuck did Van think he was doing, getting all grabby all of a sudden as if -
As if he was going to kiss Deaq. Okay, different from biting, but still.
"Hey, Van, come o- " Deaq started, because this wasn't even funny anymore; they'd been here, they'd done this, and if Deaq had sort of wondered about it later, come up with a few scenarios of how things could have played out if Van hadn't been such a straight white idiot, then that really was between him and his right hand, none of anyone else's business.
And then Van was pressing their lips together, by some miracle managing not to have their noses bump or anything like that, and as it turned out, yeah, he was actually a pretty good kisser.
It was over a little too soon, really.
"There," Van said, looking smug as if he'd just pulled one over on Deaq.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Deaq didn't think Van had pulled one over on him. Not by kissing him. Sure, Van played those women sometimes, those marks, but this wasn't like that. "You kissed me."
Van's mouth was still smirking. His eyes were - well, he had claimed to have a fever. "Now you're going to get sick. See how you like it, lying in bed all day with nothing to do and nobody to talk to."
"Oh, come on. I'm not going to get sick just because you kissed me!"
"Whatever you say, brother. But for the record: you deserve it." Van snuggled back under the blankets, expression content, eyes closed.
Deaq wanted to hit him - or walk out of there and then never see Van again for the rest of his life. Since the last wasn't going to happen and his mother had raised him too well to be the kind of man capable of doing the first, he limited himself to a silent promise he was going to kick Van's ass from here to New York as soon as Van would be up and about again.
"You're seriously messed up, man. You know that, right?"
Van shrugged. "You asked for it."
"Oh, really? When was this, Van?" Deaq wasn't even sure if he was angry at Van for having kissed him for such a stupid reason, or disappointed. "At what point did I ask: oh, Van, would you pretty please force me to kiss you?"
"I didn't force you!" Van protested, eyes wide open. "I did not force you. You wanted to pull away, you could've. You didn't."
Deaq wasn't sure how true that was. On the other hand, Van did have sort of a point. "Yeah. Okay."
" 'cos I don't pull that kind of shit, all right?" Van said.
"Right," Deaq said. "You kiss me so you can pass on your germs, but deep down inside, you're a stand-up guy. Deep, deep, deep down inside."
"Hey, man, I was just kidding earlier, you know?"
Deaq wasn't sure if he wanted to know when this 'earlier' had been, exactly.
"You get sick, I'm totally going to come visit you," Van went on. "To feed you soup and stuff. I'll even make it myself, because you're my partner and all that. That's how special you are to me."
Deaq sighed. "Yeah, I'm feeling real special right now."
Van nodded, apparently missing the sarcasm - or more likely opting to ignore it. "And, you know, when I get better, maybe we could hang out some time."
"You mean: when I get better," Deaq said and then, because he wasn't that much of a jerk: "Okay, maybe we could. Sounds good."