Beer and Cigarettes

Julian and Noel write and shoot the Boosh movie. All talk and no action... well, maybe a little action (Joint winner of Fic Challenge #23: Boosh Movie Scene).

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Notes: Thanks to my beta reader planetbanjo for the fast turnaround on this, and for her stellar tweaking!

This is a complete work of fiction. I won’t make any money from this. Don’t own them, and have never met them.

Beer and Cigarettes by Sooty

His skin smelt of cigarettes, and his tongue, furry and unfamiliar, tasted like beer. When Paul yelled ‘cut!’ I knew something was up because we both lingered for an extra half-second before separating our mouths and arms and legs. Then he was staring at me with that look, a kind of sneer but not quite, like he was constipated or something. I was sort of smiling but not really. It was more wonder, a sense of ‘wow, what just happened there?’ Not that I would analyse it at all – I kiss many of my friends on the mouth. I know he’d be the one deeply concerned with what he was feeling, turning inside like a butter churn, and making a decision about what was worse: enjoying the sensation of kissing a man, or wanting to do it again.

Paul interrupted our look with a rustle of the script, or our version of it (one hundred pages of unfinished sentences, unformed non sequiturs, and gaps for ad-libs), and sat on his heels in front of us. He grinned and mumbled something about the scene being good and he didn’t think we’d have to do it again, but he would check it again in the monitor, just in case. When Paul said ‘print’, I noticed in my periphery that Julian was relieved because his shoulders relaxed and his moustache twitched into something resembling a smile. He wouldn’t look directly at me but that’s okay because I know when Julian is feeling ill at ease and I leave him be. I absent-mindedly scratched my leg and wondered how he would cope with the sex scene we’d conjured up, during that night in my flat, off our heads with beer and joy, and deep in the zone.

That night: it was fun. He turned up at my front door, dishevelled and unshaven, half-drunk and merry, waving the almost blank script in his hand, exclaiming, “It’s time for our filthy gay sex scene, Noel.” I remember giggling, but then there was a lot of laughter that night, and I can’t recall if it started then or later when he was plying me with champagne.

It was Julian who decided that we should go all the way in the movie. I’m not even sure why, now. Maybe he thought the movie required a narrative with our potential sexual relationship as the central theme, so he planned out some scenes that would show our love for each other. A story where we would get together physically because we get lost on our way to play at a festival (the car has no heater and we do have to keep warm after all, said Julian), we would stress our undying love for one another (using only our bodies, no words, he observed) and then one of us would be hurt by the other’s betrayal (the conflict, we need a conflict, noted Julian), then a resolution (it’s a denouement, he whispered, almost in my ear), and we would realise that we’re better off as mates and start a business together (something suitably interesting, that would serve our characters’ respective personalities. Don’t worry, Julian said, we’d work the details out later).

While he blurted all of this out I was sipping my mimosa and nodding, visualising the sex scene, and thinking that it would be ridiculous, with plenty of words spoken and a lot of fumbling around, all arms and legs and mouths artlessly thrashing about. I do remember asking him if he would regret it in the morning, but he took this as a joke and laughed that hearty laugh of his, the one that rumbles in his chest and then always comes out much higher than I expect it to, and he grabbed my leg and said dramatically, “Never!”

I suggested that maybe the scene, if we had to have one at all – and I wasn’t saying no, you understand – could be a kind of accident, that Howard and Vince surprised one another with a kiss that lingered a bit longer than necessary, and they realised their friendship could be something else. And maybe they tried to sleep with one another but it ended up being comical, almost farcical, because of course Howard was too repressed to have sex with another man, although he’d entertain the idea because he wouldn’t want to appear too close-minded. He was worried that he wouldn’t perform, and Vince was anxious that the news would get out amongst his friends and then he’d be the laughing stock of the Shoreditch elite. I sniggered at the idea but halfway through my suggestion Julian was already shaking his head and drawing his lips tightly over his teeth and hissing inwards in that way he does when he doesn’t like something. “But they have to fuck!” he said. “It’s the ultimate conclusion to our story, Noel. Mates who are more than mates. Everyone knows it. And this is it. Bye-bye, no more Boosh. Howard and Vince have to fuck.”

“But do we have to show it, Ju?” I do remember this comment was just me being contrary, because the more I thought about it the more I enjoyed the idea of seeing Howard and Vince, naked and vulnerable, exploring each other’s bodies.

Julian became agitated. “Yes, yes, yes! Of course we do.” And then he put his hand on my arm and stroked me gently, and I wondered at that moment if he was Julian or Howard.

“But does it have to be so Harlequin romance, Ju? What about a quick fuck behind the shop, near the bin bags?” He was still stroking my arm absent-mindedly and I didn’t exactly mind the sensation.

“Because Howard doesn’t like quick fucks, Noel,” he said pointedly, and ran his hand from my arm to my leg, squeezing my thigh, and then moved his hand upwards towards my cock. His other hand was in between his thighs near his groin. Did he know what he was doing? I watched the position of his hand and then the lump in his trousers (or was it loose material?) for a second too long, because when I looked into his face his eyebrows were raised, and his eyes, now slits from too much beer, were staring questioningly into mine. He removed his hand quickly.

“Obviously not,” I said, drunk and flirty as usual, and these words ended our night. He called a cab and I wasn’t sure whether to apologise for staring at him in such a way or for saying what I did, but decided not to because we were drunk and I didn’t want to make him feel more awkward. We hugged on the way out and he kissed me on the cheek like he always did, so it can’t have been that big a deal.

Over the next few weeks we argued about everything in the movie script but the sex scene. There were large spaces on page thirty-five to forty and they remained there until the first day of shooting. But by then, there was no time to discuss anything, let alone sex (even though we tried one evening but I was too tired and Julian had a headache), and then we were caught up in the routine of filming and forgot about it until Paul and Spencer mentioned our ‘big fuck scene’.

“Time is money,” stated Paul. “So get on with it.”

We spent thirty minutes brainstorming in the editing room with Mark looking on. He was shaking his head and laughing at our desperation at leaving it until the last minute. Finally we decided on a kiss, an accidental kiss, like when two people are left alone and they realise that their looks mean something more than they thought, and then make the decision to act upon it. There would be another kiss, a night later, more intentional, with a lot of kissing, a bit of a grope (hands on trousers, under shirts, mussing up hair and stroking faces), and then someone would walk in and interrupt Howard and Vince, who would then pretend that it was a game of some sort, and sit together on the sofa, close and uncomfortable, speaking gibberish and laughing unconvincingly at nothing in particular. Surprisingly, Julian was the one suggesting this, opting out of the full-on sex scene, so I assumed he did regret the idea of going the whole way. Or maybe something else scared him off the concept of Vince and Howard fucking. Who knows with Julian?

When I told Paul, he said, “There’s no sex! There’s nothing filthy and gay about it. I wanted to shoot some fucking, or at least the aftermath.”

For some reason I felt compelled to apologise for disappointing him, and then, for whatever reason I felt the need to justify our idea: that Howard and Vince could never go through with it, could never allow their love for each other to manifest in such a primal, uncontrollable way, because they feared losing their friendship. Vince knew that he could never leave Howard, and Howard knew that Vince was his mate for life, even if he was a little prick now and again. Why would they want to fuck with what they had? And besides, it would be too serious and unfunny. Julian was silent, looking uninterested in the entire proceedings, or not wanting to argue. I wasn’t sure. But when Paul raised his shoulders and sighed, I knew I’d won.

“I can’t believe you’ve left this until the last minute. Again,” Paul sighed.

I shrugged. “All right, Ju?” I looked to him for support but he was focusing on the sofa and fake plants on set.

“Okay, let’s get on with it,” Paul called after us, and huffed off towards the camera.

Julian and I didn’t talk again until after that kiss. And that look. There’s another kiss to film, the one with the groping, but Julian wants a break, and he heads to the dressing room for a cigarette. I am wondering when he started smoking again because he had given up for a year or so. Maybe it’s the stress of making the movie? I pull my boots off and rub my feet, and then walk behind in his wake.

In the dressing room Julian is leaning out the window, cigarette in one hand and the remains of a beer in the other, and when I approach him from behind he stands upright, turns around, and looms over me. He’s a big man, much larger than some people think, and sometimes when he’s standing above me like this I feel like I’m looking up at a statue or something. The perspective’s all weird and I’m seeing all the fuzz on his chin and his nostrils flaring at me. I’m not that much shorter than him, although there’s a reason I wear heels. But right now, something has changed between us – I feel a little strange – and I am peering up into his eyes and my hand is on his arm and for some reason I feel like I’m crawling. I want to scream at him, “are you breathing what I’m breathing?” because the air has changed, become thinner, and I feel like fainting. I have no idea why.

“Have you locked the door?” he inquires, and unquestioningly I check it and return to stand in front of him.

“I’m not sure I can do the next scene, Noel.” Julian is grimacing and not looking at me. He’s uncomfortable. I’m fidgeting a bit but that’s just because I can never keep still. I feel like I’m more ready for this than he is – it’s only acting, innit? – and we all knew that he would find kissing a man difficult (even though he was filled with drunken bravado that night at my flat) so I just shrug and say, “Why?” I know why, but I want to make him squirm a bit. It’s fun watching Julian get all fidgety and troubled about something – his wriggling body movements are reflections of his mental state.

“Because I want to fuck you, Noel.” It spills out of him in a rush. At first I think he means he wants to fuck me on-screen but his eyes are saying more, and the words are so certain and unyielding and enunciated that he has probably been planning this for some time. The shock of realisation forces me backwards two steps and I trip up on the table behind me. He leans forward and grabs both my arms, saving me from falling on my arse, then holds me close, and I smell the heady scent of his musky odour mixed with my sweat. His arms wrap around me and his mouth is on my forehead, and although part of me is enjoying the sensation, another part is not quite sure what to do about the situation.

I’m not sure I want to be the recipient of his desire. Not Julian. It’s not that I don’t want him, I often wonder what would happen if we fucked, and sometimes I even dream about it, but it’s Julian. My dear, sweet Julian. Other people want me and it is nice to be wanted and adored, and sometimes I can see on people’s faces how they want to fuck me – the position, the environment, the whole script is there to be read. But, Julian? He has never looked at me that way. Smouldering bastard, it’s been a slow burn with no signposts along the way. Not until he blurts it out and expects me to handle it, all because I’m flirty Noel and I must be used to people wanting me all the time.

I push myself away from him, reluctantly, and turn around so I can put my boots back on. He has a hand on my back and is saying softly, “Noel, please.” But it’s not pleading, it’s just to get my attention. When I do turn around I hope there will be somebody else standing there. Not Julian, but a different person who says these things, someone who is not my dearest friend. That, I would be able to handle. Not this. I don’t think I’m ready. But when I do turn to face him – now eye to almost eye – he has changed, irrevocably. His face is softer than usual, and his eyes are slightly crinkled, his skin glowing, and there is something else on his face that I can’t quite decipher.

“I’m not sure, Ju,” I say quietly. His shoulders slump a little and the lines on his face become deeper, and I am certain I’ve broken his heart. I’ve underestimated the energy he’s expended in speaking his words, and the uncertainty I’m feeling breaks my heart a little too.

There is a knock at the door and a request to be on the set in five minutes. Julian turns away from me and shakes his head. I have five minutes to save the situation before we have to be out there, on set, having our next kiss.

“Ju, when I said ‘I’m not sure’, I didn’t mean ‘no’. It’s just you’ve surprised me, that’s all. I wasn’t expecting it. You’ve never given me any indication that….” He stops me short with a vicious glare.

“No indication? No fucking indication? What about the other night? What about all the other nights over the years when I turned up on your doorstep, the nights I’ve spent on your sofa, all the things I’ve said? All the touching? Fuck, Noel!” He delivers this with such vitriol that tiny bits of spit are flying through the air and landing in my face. Someone knocks again at the door but only half-heartedly, and there are no more verbal requests to return to the set. I am taken aback at his sudden anger, and his revelations (over the years? How many?) but can only return with some of my own.

“All right, you fucking idiot. You throw this at me and expect me to cope with it immediately. How am I expected to know your intentions, when they’ve all been up there?” I gesture violently towards his head. “You’ve always turned up at my house drunk, half-drunk or wasted. That’s all you’ve been. And you expect me to take what you say and do when you’re drunk seriously? Fuck, Julian! The next day you pretend nothing happened. What am I supposed to think? I have never answered the door to a sober Julian Barratt, never been touched when you’re straight, except for a kiss goodbye.” My indignation is real, and passionate, but as soon as I utter that last word the anger turns into quicksilver, dissipating, rolling away, and I feel surprisingly calm.

“Yeah, well I’m not drunk now. And have you ever seen me kiss any other man goodbye?” he glares at me but with less outrage in his eyes.

I step backwards again, and confirm, “Erm, no. But come on, Ju, that’s not enough.”

He pulls me towards him and forces his mouth onto mine. His tongue is inside my mouth and the heat of his body presses onto my chest, my thighs: my groin. My arms are trapped to my sides, and his lack of tenderness is making my skin ache. His bristly face is rubbing my chin and cheeks raw. He releases my arms and wraps his around my back, then moves his hot mouth over my neck and ear. His hand is reaching down towards my trousers. I can feel his warmth moving down my torso, rubbing over my hips and releasing the button on my trousers, then drawing the zip down, until his hand grabs me; I offer no resistance. How can I? My mouth is on his again as he strokes me, slowly but firmly, and my heart is racing quickly. Far too fast – I am dizzy with lust. It is alternately too much and not enough. After a while I find my hands snaking around the back of his head, pulling him into me, and the front of my body is searching for a closer connection, moving around like a jigsaw puzzle piece so I can discover the right position and can forget about what I’m doing, instead concentrating on the sensation of having Julian in my mouth and inside my pants.

Suddenly he draws back his hands and his body. I gasp at the cool air between us, and grasp at him, trying to put him back into place. He resists, pushing me away gently, then strokes my face with his palm and leans his face towards mine.

“That enough of a sign for you, little man?” he whispers to my face, and then slowly turns away and exits the room, leaving me shattered and trembling. I adjust myself and sit on the sofa, attempting to reconcile the situation. It was all too much, too sudden, but oh, so Julian.

I sit still for a while, confused and overwhelmed by that kiss. But people are waiting, so I shake it off, walk back to the set and see him there, on his mark, on the sofa, waiting for me. Paul looks exasperated and hurries me along, shooing me with his hands. I sit next to Julian who deliberately makes no eye contact with me, but is swapping short instructions with Paul about the nearly wordless scene. He is shaking slightly, just the same as me. When Paul says ‘action’, I’m not ready, but I have to do something when Howard starts blathering on about ‘doing it again just to be sure’ and stares me down, and because I’m no longer me, Vince warms up quickly, and nods and glowers at Howard with a look bordering on naked desire. Howard places a hand on Vince’s left shoulder and the other hand around his waist, pulling Noir towards him, and Vince can see the words in Moon’s eyes: “I am going to fuck you.” Vince is breathing heavily and flicking his black hair from his eyes. Howard pulls Vince onto the front of his body, taking his weight easily, and then, as if taken by a demon, Vince is pulling at Howard’s clothes, kissing him ferociously, tongue searching deeply for something, anything to make this feeling better, and Howard is returning the kiss while grabbing at Vince’s jacket, pulling it off and revealing a sleeveless t-shirt, which he then rips off and discards on the floor with the rest of the clothes. Howard stops to glance longingly at the body above him, and then Vince begins to move slowly down Howard’s torso, until he is at Howard’s belt buckle and attempting to undo it. Howard is staring almost unbelievingly at the man between his legs. He has one hand on Vince’s hair and his other is helping to remove his belt. Vince is lapping at Howard’s stomach, licking and kissing and panting, waiting for the trousers to come off. For Howard, a man for whom nothing comes naturally except awkwardness, this is as close to comfortable as he is going to be. And Vince, well, he wants Howard, he knows this now, and he also knows that nothing matters except this moment. Vince is rubbing his crotch furiously against Howard’s leg, up and down, with one hand in between Howard’s thighs almost touching his cock and pulling the trousers down with his fingers, and the other hand now grasping his own cock and rubbing it through his jeans. Bollo walks in and stops in front of them and says loudly, stiffly, “What is going on here?”, and Howard looks up in shock, pushing Vince away, but Vince can’t and won’t stop what he is doing. He is insistent and starts to pull at Howard’s pants. Howard quickly puts his hand on Vince’s head, trying to push him away, and makes a face, an obvious ‘ohmigod, someone has just walked in on us’ face. Vince looks up for a moment, lips parted and eyes half-closed, then just moans and says into the silence: “Ohhh, Julian.”

“Cut!” Paul’s voice breaks the tension, and I still have my head on Julian’s groin, and I’m blushing because I realise what I just said. Julian is grinning, and I can see he is hard and he sees me looking at him and begins to pull up his trousers and buckle his belt. I leap into the air, pull my shirt back on, and realise that the crew is looking at me bursting out of my trousers, and then Paul is saying something but all I can see is his mouth moving, no sounds, and I wonder if I’m going to explode because the whole world has slowed down and I’m kind of numb. Julian leads me away – no one seems to be laughing or has even noticed what is happening (why not? can’t they see what I’m feeling?) – and takes me back to the dressing room and when we’re inside he wraps his arms around me and laughs into my hair. The numbness subsides when he kisses me, warm and lush, and then he smiles and says, “Don’t worry, we can do it again.” I smile at him because I want him too. The skin on his chest is warm and soft and when my lips touch each of his nipples, he moans, and then when he lifts me on to the windowsill, pulls my shirt over my head, and wonders aloud if he has time to go down on me, I am imagining that the whole world can see us. But now there’s a knock at the door, and we have to go back out and re-shoot the scene. Paul will be getting cranky, Dave will be getting hot in that suit, and Ju and I need to finish up for the day so we can go home and fuck.

During the final scene of the day, Julian murmurs this into my ear: “Maybe there will be a series four.” Then he lights a cigarette, puts a hand on my leg, and his smile leaves a dent in my heart.

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