Challenge: Challenge 06: Boosh on Tour
Length: 1-5k words
Notes: Written for the tour challenge. Archiving is fine. I also started another one which turned out very angsty, but I can’t figure out how to end it. It’s over at my lj.
We’re Going on Tour by thymeth
Howard looked up to see Vince standing in the doorway wearing nothing but a towel round his middle.
And that was all he saw.
“Can you what?”
“Honestly, did you hear a word I said?”
Had Vince been talking? He must’ve.
“I heard you…” Howard answered unconvincingly. Vince of all people must understand that it’s impossible to pay attention when he’s standing there half-naked, legs apart, hips to one side, hair wet, collar bones speckled with water droplets, nipples taut. This was beginning to read like bad erotica.
“Whatever. Can I borrow your shaving cream?”
Vince rolled his eyes again.
“Where is it?”
“Shelf? I don’t know,” Howard answered distractedly with a wave of his hand.
“Right,” Vince said sarcastically and turned, “Thanks.”
It should be illegal wandering around like that.
The phone rang and Howard picked it up.
“Hi, can I speak to Vince, please?” came a girl’s voice.
“Er, yeah, one moment,” Howard said and went and knocked on the bathroom door.
“Vince, phone for you. Some girl.”
“Did she sound pretty?”
“You know,” Vince said, opening the door. He was still half-naked, but wearing pants now rather than a towel.
“Did she sound pretty? You know, good-looking?”
“I don’t know. She just said ‘Can I speak to Vince, please’.”
“I’d have thought you of all people could hear if someone’s pretty,” Vince said, pushing past, “You know girls.”
Yeah, Howard was good at pretending to know girls.
“Vince Noir, rock’n’roll star,” Vince said as he picked up the phone, “Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Really? Well cool! Of course, we’d love to! Yeah. Ok. Yeah, laters.” And he put the phone down and turned to Howard, grinning.
“We’re going on tour!”
Kraftwerk Orange picked them up the next morning and off they drove, girls in the front and boys in the back.
Vince seemed to be hitting it off quite easily with Neon already at lunchtime, so Howard was left having to entertain Ultra. Which turned out to be rather more difficult than he’d first expected.
“And on the last verse he plays the bassoon. Nobody thought it would work, but it does, in a jazzy, sublime kind of way. Very funky.”
“Yeah,” Ultra answered distractedly, glancing across the table at Vince and Neon laughing. Of course she was watching Vince. Who wouldn’t, him sitting there all smiling and relaxed in his tight top and cowboy hat?
This was crazy, Howard thought, here he was sat next to one of the most beautiful girls he’d ever met and all he could think of was Vince.
“Yeah,” he said, addressing all of them, “Maybe we should get going, then?”
They arrived at the hotel an hour or so before the gig was about to start and they hurried upstairs with their luggage. Howard unlocked the door and found… a double-bed.
Vince came in too and stopped next to him, just as surprised.
“Yeah.” And he left the room again and Howard followed him to the girls’ room.
“No, it’s no mistake,” Ultra said, “It was the only rooms they’d left.”
“Yeah, but, a double-bed,” Vince said, “Can’t we swap rooms with you?”
“We’ve got a double-bed too,” Neon said.
“We could swap with one of you…?”
Neon and Ultra exchanged glances then began giggling.
“I don’t think so,” Neon said.
“Anyway, it’s just a bed,” Ultra said, “What’s the big deal? You afraid Howard’ll bum you?”
Both began giggling again.
“What? No,” Vince said, “I’m the one doing the bumming round here.”
And everything went deadly quiet, all of them staring at Vince.
“What?” Vince said and looked at them. Then it seemed to dawn upon him and a most unusual blush flamed up in his cheeks and he rushed off.
Once out of ear-shot, the girls began giggling again.
“I’d watch my back if I were you, Howard,” Ultra said.
“Yeah,” Neon giggled, “ ‘I’m the one doing the bumming round here’. Best line ever!”
Howard didn’t know how the gig went. He played, but all he could think of was Vince. And how they’d be sharing a bed.
And how awkward it’d be.
And yet… and yet he was sort of looking forward to it…
The others seemed very pleased and the mood was high as they made their way up to the hotel rooms.
“Did you see the guy in the hat?” Vince was saying, “Genius. And those trousers!”
“And his girlfriend,” Neon said.
“Her hair was brilliant!”
Vince opened the door for her and in a fluid motion none of them quite saw, he had his arm around her waist.
“Look,” he said as they came to the hotel-room door. And he bent closer and whispered something in her ear.
She giggled and shook her head.
“Come on,” Ultra said, taking her hand.
“Yeah, I’ve gotta go,” she said and wriggled in Vince’s arm.
But Vince pulled her closer and kissed her.
“Er, yeah,” she said and pulled away, “I’ll see you in the morning.” And she and Ultra locked themselves into their room.
Vince pulled the sheets tightly around himself and turned his back on Howard, lying as far away from him as possible.
Howard woke with Vince’s forehead snuggled against his throat and Vince’s arms across his chest.
This gig went even better, or so Howard was told. They played the same venue again and some sort of rumour seemed to have spread about them and the dance floor was crammed.
Howard didn’t notice, though. Vince had been distant all day but now, onstage, he had woken back to life and was mesmerising.
And gorgeous. In unbelievably tight trousers, white boots, a tight, glittery top and a black feathery boa.
He owned the room.
And Howard could not take his eyes off him.
They sat down and had a drink afterwards. And pretty soon they were buzzed and giggling.
“We’re genius,” Vince proclaimed, “We’re kings of the world!”
“Queens, more like,” Ultra said and Neon giggled into her drink. Vince didn’t seem to have noticed, though.
“Hey, more drinks,” he said and went to the bar.
“So, tell us,” Neon said and lent across the table towards Howard, “How was last night?”
“What?” This was completely unexpected.
“Last night,” she repeated.
“Did he bum you?” Ultra asked. Howard stared at her. She had no shame.
“So you bummed him?”
“Then what did you do last night?”
“Nothing. Went to sleep.”
“God, how boring,” Ultra said and sat back, crossing her arms.
“Yeah,” Neon agreed.
“Drinks all round!” Vince said as he returned and put down a tray with drinks and sat down next to Neon, “Drink, doll?”
He handed her a glass and effortlessly his other arm slipped around her shoulders.
“Er, yeah. Vince,” she said, “I think it might be time I told you something.”
“Hey, of course you want to be my girlfriend,” Vince said and kissed her cheek.
“No, that’s not quite it.”
“You don’t want to be my girlfriend? Everyone wants to be my girlfriend.”
“Yeah, except that I’ve already got a girlfriend,” Neon said.
Howard looked up. Had he heard what he thought he had heard?
No, probably not; Vince hadn’t reacted.
“Dump him, I’m cooler than him.”
“Er, no,” Neon tried, “Look, Vince, Ultra and me, we’re an item.”
“Yeah, you’re the band.”
“No,” she said slowly, “Well, we are, but that’s not what I mean…”
“We’re lovers,” Ultra broke in, “Now get your hands off my girlfriend.”
He had heard correctly. And it seemed to be seeping into Vince’s head too.
“You two?” he asked in disbelief, mouth hanging open.
“Yeah,” Ultra said, “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to bed.” And they rose.
“Good night,” Neon said with a wave.
“Good night,” Howard answered, “See you at breakfast…”
“Yeah, laters,” the girls said and left.
“Well,” Vince said and put his hand in his hair, “That was… weird…”
“Yeah,” Howard said, unable to think of anything else to say.
“Yeah,” Vince said, staring blankly ahead.
“Yeah, I think I’ll call it a night, actually,” Howard said and emptied his glass and got up.
“Yeah, me too,” Vince said and followed him outside.
“Do you think they’re really together?” Vince asked. They were in bed now and Howard had almost fallen asleep.
“What do you mean?” he slurred, not really wanting to wake up.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse to get away from me.”
“Why would anyone want to get away from you?” Howard asked.
“Y’know,” Vince began, “Hang on!”
He turned to Howard.
“What did you just say?”
“Nothing?” Howard tried, not remembering what he had said.
“Yes, you did,” Vince said and propped his head up on his hand, “Did you mean it?”
“What you said.”
“But I don’t know what I said.”
“Oh, never mind,” Vince said and dropped his head back on the pillow.
They lay in silence a while and Howard almost drifted back to sleep when Vince turned to him.
“Why doesn’t anyone like me?”
Howard turned and met Vince’s bright eyes in the dusky light.
“Everyone likes you, Vince,” he said earnestly.
“That’s not what I mean,” Vince said, “I know people like me, but, y’know, like like.”
“Lots of people like you,” Howard said. It was true too, everyone always liked Vince.
Howard bit his lip. It would be so easy to tell him now. But that would be taking advantage of him, wouldn’t it, him in this confused state of mind?
“Of course I do,” he said, choosing the safer route, “You’re my best friend.”
“Yeah, but do you like me?”
He wouldn’t let it drop, would he?
“Of course I like you. As a friend.”
Vince looked up at the ceiling and said no more.
Howard didn’t have the heart to wake him the next morning. They weren’t leaving until noon and Vince had slept badly all night, tossing and talking in his sleep.
Neon and Ultra lifted their eyebrows at him as he met them at breakfast.
He answered with a frown and made himself a bowl of rice crispies.
“So?” Ultra said as he sat down. What was wrong with her? Didn’t she understand what a frown meant?
“Another day, another gig,” Neon broke in, touching Ultra’s hand.
Howard nodded and began eating.
Vince wasn’t well.
He leaned heavily on Howard’s arm as they went to the car and as soon as they began driving, his head swayed and dropped onto Howard’s shoulder and stayed there.
Ultra met Howard’s eyes in the mirror and grinned at him.
“Wake up, boys,” came a voice and Howard opened his eyes to the very sunny car. He had fallen asleep too, it seemed, cheek in Vince’s hair.
“I thought he was with you.”
“I thought he was with you.”
“Well, we need him, we’re due onstage any minute.”
“Have you checked the bar?”
“What about the toilets?”
“I’ll have a look,” Howard said. At least that would get him away from their manic voices.
He found the backstage toilet and went in. Vince was leaning on the sink, forehead against the mirror.
“Come on, we’re onstage in a few minutes.”
“I can’t,” Vince said, almost whispering.
“Of course you can,” Howard said reassuringly, going over to him, “You can do anything.”
Vince pulled his head away from the mirror and stood a moment with his head bent over the sink.
“I’m just so tired.”
“Hey,” Howard said and lay his hand on Vince’s shoulder, “It’ll be better once you’re onstage. I hear it’s a full house.”
Vince looked up at him and he did seem tired, the usual sparkle gone from his eyes.
And, without thinking, just knowing he had to look after him, Howard pulled him close and wrapped his arms around him. Vince’s head dropped against his neck and Howard held the thin body against his and whispered reassuring nonsense and inaudible words into his hair.
There was a commotion behind them and the door opened.
“What the fuck’s going on here?”
Howard looked over his shoulder and saw the owner of the venue in the doorway, rather an ordinary man in a shirt-and-tie and thinning hair.
“Nothing…” Howard said. As if anyone would ever believe that.
“Nothing?” the man said, “Nothing! You’re fucking cuddling in the toilets!”
An unfamiliar anger suddenly surged through Howard. He could not accept this kind of attitude. He tightened his hold on Vince and looked the man squarely in the eyes.
“Yeah,” he said, “Yeah, we’re cuddling in the toilets. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Yes, I do,” the man answered, “I…”
“Then fuck off and leave us alone,” Howard snapped, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
“Well, I’ve never…” the man said, backing away, “Who would have known your kind had such a temper.”
“I’ll show you more than just my temper if you don’t bloody fuck off,” Howard said and the man backed right into the door, fumbled with the doorknob and was gone, muttering something to himself as the door closed.
Howard was shaking. He’d just lost his temper. With a stranger.
A small chuckle bubbled from somewhere around Howard’s chest and he looked down and found Vince smiling up at him.
“You’re genius, Howard,” he said.
“Thanks,” Howard answered, trying to keep his voice steady.
Vince’s finger touched his cheek.
“I can’t believe you said that,” he said quietly and Howard noticed his eyes darting ever so quickly down to his mouth before looking up again.
And before he knew it, Howard had grabbed hold of his head and was kissing him, frantically, as if he’d disappear if he let go.
“Howard. Howard!” Vince exclaimed and pulled away.
What the fuck had he done?
Howard dropped his head. What on earth had he been thinking?
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, the words clogging his throat.
“Howard,” Vince said, “Look at me.”
Howard lifted his head slowly, unable to straighten the creases on his forehead.
Vince held his eyes a moment before leaning up and touching his lips ever so softly.
“There you a…” came Neon’s voice, “Oh! Sorry.”
“What? What are they doing?” came Ultra’s voice and the door creaked open further, “Finally! That took some time.”
Howard pulled away reluctantly and saw the girls standing in the doorway, Neon leaning against one doorpost and Ultra against the other, grinning.
“Yeah, do you mind?”
“Yeah, sorry,” Neon said, “But we’re on now.”
“Right,” Howard said and Vince giggled and dropped his head on Howard’s chest.
“We’d better be going then,” he said.
“Yeah,” Neon said, “We’ll see you onstage in a few minutes, yeah? Let you finish up here.”
Neon was really too sweet, Howard reflected as he watched her forcing Ultra away from the doorway, pulling at her arm.
Vince lifted his head and smiled and Howard grinned back.
“Let’s go and play the trousers off everyone.”
Howard kept waking up that night, just to watch Vince sleeping next to him.