It’s after school when Dipper gets a strange urge to head straight to the bar rather than home.
But it’s not because he wants to drink or anything. The only time he’s ever had a sip of alcohol was the time when he was six. Six and young and naive when he mistook his mom’s beer for apple juice– and then promptly spit it out with bitter tears in his eyes. It left a bad taste in his mouth.
It doesn’t take long to walk to the bar, and it’s even easier getting into it . He silently thanks Mabel for her ability to make false ID cards. (She really did learn a lot from Grunkle Stan.)
The sharp smell of alcohol hits Dipper’s nose first. Though dark, neon signs illuminate the bar while burly men either roam around, or sit and guffaw. In the corner of the bar, he hears the faint cursing of Manly Dan over a pinball machine.
He scans the area until he finds…
His friend is slumped over the counter like he’s lost all motivation to live. He’s still wearing his gold sweater vest and black slacks. It’s evidence that Bill headed immediately over here rather than going home first.
Dipper’s not sure what course of action he should take. Should he comfort him? Drag his stupid ass home? Leave him alone? He takes a step forward, and then a hesitant step back.
He knows Bill isn’t the type to listen, even when it’s Dipper – one of his closest friends. That’s how Bill has always been; mischievous, cocky, prideful, and stubborn.
Even when they were twelve. He remembers how Bill’s hand was littered with bruises, how his face was decorated with bandaids, and how nicks painted his calves.
When Dipper pressed, Bill bared his teeth at him and said, “Mind your own business, Mason.”
And Dipper shut up after that.
But now? Now is different. Now is five years later. Now is the time Dipper doesn’t have to take no for an answer.
He surges forward. A firm, but gentle hand clasps onto Bill’s shoulder, and he says, “Bill. You need to get up. You need to go home.”
Bill stirs at the contact, but doesn’t bother turning around. “Nooooo. No, I don’t. Let me-” he slurs out, “-lemme get another drink first.”
“No,” Dipper says, “You need to go home.”
Bill turns around. His arms are uncoordinated, but he’s able to prop himself up with his elbows as he looks his best friend over. He pouts at Dipper, and if the situation were different, Dipper’s sure he would’ve found it cute.
“Don’t be such a buzz kill, Dipper,” he whines. “Can’t you just let me enjoy a few drinks? Y’know, live a little?”
“No. We’re not even at the legal age to drink.”
“My point?” Dipper splutters.” My point is it’s illegal Bill.”
“Whoa there kid,” Bill holds up his hands, a smile on his face. “It sounds like you need a drink.”
And Dipper is absolutely flabbergasted. His friend is so hard to convince when he’s drunk. Actually, no. Bill is difficult to convince in general, the alcohol only amplified it.
Suppressing the urge to roll his eyes, he changes the subject. “Okay,” he says, trying not to think about how he should just leave Bill here, “how about… It’s late, school is tomorrow, and we both know you haven’t done your homework yet?”
Bill cackles like it’s the funniest joke in the world and Dipper flushes in embarrassment.
“You-you really think that-” Bill wheezes out, “I care about my grades? And you wonder why I call you Dipshit sometimes!”
And that? That is the final straw to Dipper. He didn’t come here to be the butt of his jokes. No. He came here to help his friend, and Bill chooses to be a total ass about it. His hands are clenched at his sides, and he’s considering just socking Bill in the face and storming out.
He only stomps down his urge when he meets Bill’s face again. Sure, he can punch him, leave, and not care, but that isn’t Dipper’s nature.
No, Dipper reminds himself, You came here to get Bill back home and you are going to do it.
“Bill, I get that this is your choice and all that. I do. But as your friend, I have to draw the line. There’s a limit on how much alcohol you can guzzle down and how often you can go home piss drunk,” Dipper says, his voice strained, “So, please. Can you just… do it for me? I can walk you home if you want.”
Bill presses his lips together, looking him over before he sighs. Dipper doesn’t expect to hear the answer that he wants to hear:
Dipper heaves out a sigh of relief, but then Bill adds, ”Just lemme finish my drink first,” and Dipper can’t help but groan.
The walk back to Bill’s place consists of Bill screaming about school. They’re walking side by side at a slower pace than usual due to the alcohol in Bill’s system. Dipper doesn’t mind.
“So in math class, there are these fucking preppy ass girls. They love to gossip about this two faced bitch named Nicole, and it’s hilarious! They go on and on and on and on about her and–”
A laugh bubbles out of Dipper when he goes on to say how he later saw them fight. ( “They were like cats! Hissing and yanking each other’s hair. You should’ve seen it, kid. It was the worst fight ever.” )
Bill grins in response, slipping an arm around Dipper’s. Again, Dipper doesn’t mind.
For as long as Dipper can remember, Bill had always been touchy. Warm hands always seemed to clasp onto the brunet’s body, and when he pointed it out, Bill had just shrugged. So Dipper did the next best thing: accept it because it was obvious that Bill had no concept of personal space.
But maybe that wasn’t the best choice for Dipper to make. He should’ve told him to stop because he began liking Bill’s arm around him. Feeling the other pressed up warmly against him, and how his fingers would sometimes brush against his skin. It’s nice, weird, and, and--
It’s Bill’s fault that Dipper has weird feelings for him. It’s his fault because Bill is awful.
“So Dipper,” Bill starts out, snapping Dipper out of his daze, “since you’re, y’know, coming by. You wanna. I dunno,” he pauses which Dipper can’t help but raise an eyebrow. Bill’s usually more direct than this. “Stay and watch Netflix with me?”
Dipper takes a second to consider this, before answering,
“Yeah sure. I finished my homework anyways.”
The grin on Bill’s face couldn’t be any brighter.
They end up upstairs in Bill’s room, leaning against his bed frame with a dumb comedy movie playing. Bill, being as touchy as ever, has his head on Dipper’s shoulder. The way Bill laughs sounds so nice and breathy against Dipper and how he wraps his arms around him makes Dipper’s heart beat two times faster.
He does his best to ignore how close and almost intimate they are right now; his eyes trying to stay transfixed onto the small laptop screen. They fall into a comfortable silence before the scene on the laptop shifts over to a drinking scene. A question worms itself into Dipper’s head. So he asks:
“Bill. Why do you drink?”
“Mmm. Take a guess. I kinda wanna see how wild your guesses are.”
“Uh. Well. I remember reading a few articles in class that family life affects whether you drink or not, “ Dipper answers. He remembers how Bill’s downstairs is practically a dumping ground of wine bottles, “But. Uh. I think the main reason is because you’re… Okay don’t laugh,“ Dipper warns, even though he knows that Bill will. “You’re…insecure. You don’t feel like putting up with stuff so…you don’t?”
And Bill does laugh. Dipper expected as much.
“Okay, I’ll admit, that was kind of dumb. What’s the real reason then?”
Once Bill is done laughing, he answers.
“You ever think about how small we are?”
“Uh?” Where’d that come from? How does that answer his question? Dipper wouldn’t have answered if Bill didn’t sound so serious. So, for now, he just goes with it.
“Uh. Okay, what do you mean by that?”
“Well,” Bill says, letting go of Dipper’s arm to gesture into the air, “we’re just so small compared to the vastness of the universe. Throw some of the multiverse theory into that cesspool, and we’re even smaller.”
“…I guess? How does that answer my question though?”
“We’re small and insignificant. It doesn’t matter what we do because in the end?” Bill turns towards Dipper, a hand touching his shoulder. “In the end we’re just gonna die and become dust. Dust that mingles with the stars. Cold, lost, and forgotten.”
For a second, Dipper considers it. Legitimately considers it. Is this Bill’s weird way of telling me how he’s really feeling for once? If he feels small, maybe that’s why he likes being the center of attention? Is that the reason why Bill was slumped over the counter before I came? Maybe–
Bill snorts, then starts snickering. Dipper pauses and groans internally. Bill got him again.
“Oh my god. The look on your face!” Bill beams. “I just pulled that shit out of my philosophy book, and you took itseriously.”
“Bill, you are a fucking ass.”
“I can’t help it, you’re just so gullible.”
Bill’s laughing hard against Dipper’s chest, while Dipper covers his face with his hand. Bill is an asshole. But when Bill lifts his head, he’s close to Dipper’s face. Really close. Bill’s staring intensely into his eyes while Dipper dumbly stares back. Then he’s leaning in, their lips are so close. Dipper is frozen in place, but he manages to mumble:
“Bill,” his eyes are darting towards his lips, then back onto his face. He wants to kiss him and end the conflicting feelings inside of him, but instead he says, “Bill. You’re drunk.”
Bill stops there, lips pursed together, before he inches away and nods. “Yeah,” he says, chuckling weakly. “Yeah. I am.”
He rests his head back onto Dipper’s shoulder and Dipper can’t help but wonder what goes on in Bill’s head sometimes. Or his own for that matter.