Cadmium Red Light

From the prompt: Noel painting, Julian watching. Ends in hot sex. Wherein Noel paints Julian. Literally


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Length: words

Cadmium Red Light by Culumacilinte

Noel was an artist. Before he was a comedian or a guest on a quiz show or probably even a best friend, he was an artist. That was, after all, as he was wont to say with a bashful little grin, his roots. He’d gone to school to be an artist, he’d immersed himself in art for years and years before quite literally tripping into Julian and comedy and the Boosh, and then suddenly art had been unceremoniously shoved aside for bad stand up gigs and touring and finally the BBC.

He still painted, though. He painted constantly, characters from the Boosh and other, more bizarre creatures which lived only in his mind made their sinuous way onto paper and canvas and occasionally Noel’s clothes. Sometimes his girlfriend’s as well, though he would steadfastly deny that if questioned about it. Noel was a bubbling mass of energy, of constant chatter and laughter and bright colours; painting was really the only time he quietened himself. He’d go sort of intense and contemplative, pink kitten-tongue poking from between bared teeth, and he’d not look up from his canvas and brushes and knives for absolute hours.

Julian loved Noel when he went silent like that, loved watching him paint. He was sure it was probably a manifestation of some weird psychological bollocks that he wanted to see Noel quiet for once or see him dirtied-covered in paint. Probably it was, but he didn’t like to focus overmuch on that. He’d rather just watch. A lot of it was honest appreciation, truly, of the apparent ease with which Noel drew his brushes across a canvas, shapes and people and music spilling out behind it as it went.

Like tonight, in fact. He was sprawled out on the couch (which he’d swear Noel had probably had since college, it was so absurdly worn in and comfortable), a pillow clutched across his midsection, lazily watching Noel painting. Noel himself was on his knees on the floor, his head bobbing to The Smiths, a large canvas before him and tubes of paint scattered on the floor all around him. His hair was pulled back into a girlish horsetail, which Noel had defensively said, after Julian had raised a mocking eyebrow at him, was to keep it out of his face. He still found it terribly amusing, though. If Noel hadn’t been in rather dire need of a shave, his resemblance to the fairer sex would have been downright frightening.

Julian had been watching him for a good few hours now, falling into the easy pattern of staring at the motion of fingers and brush and knife. It was hypnotic, almost, and he imagined running the pads of his fingers across the canvas and feeling the cold smear of paint beneath his fingers. So lost in his reverie he was that he didn’t hear Noel the first few times he called Julian’s name.


Noel’s voice was quiet and amused, and Julian looked up with a start, meeting his friend’s eyes for the first time since he had started painting. He hadn’t quite realised how lost in the process he’d got, distracted by watching the way the brushes fanned out as Noel applied paint to canvas, the slick shine of the edges of the brushstrokes, the places where the lines of colour became dry and ragged and Noel had to paint them over afresh.

‘What?’ He twitched into awareness, and Noel grinned, hovering over the long silver and green hair of something that might at some point end up being a mermaid.

‘You’re staring again, you know.’

Julian flushed. He had no real reason to be embarrassed, but he flushed anyway. ‘I-sorry. Just, you’re good, you know. I like to watch you work.’

Noel’s grin was naughty and just a little bit bashful as he sat back on his haunches to look up at Julian properly. ‘Knew you were a voyeur.’ He muttered. ‘Don’t really mind, though. You watching, I mean. It’s a bit nice, just having you there. Reckon I might have to take advantage and just paint you sometime.’

‘God, no.’ Julian groaned, letting his head fall back onto the cushions. ‘I’m already pasted all over telly and the NME and whatever else, there’s no need to get me in paints as well.’

The grin widened, and Noel leaned forward a little, sweaty strands of hair falling into his eyes. ‘Yeah. Might do a nude. Whatcha think? They’ve not got that in the NME, you have to admit.’

A snort of laughter from Julian. ‘Small mercy.’

‘Really, though.’ He was gnawing on the end of one of his paintbrushes now, regarding Julian seriously. ‘I reckon I might. Got some ideas rattling about in the brainpan.’

‘Oh?’ Julian cocked an eyebrow. ‘Like what? Pray do grace us with your artistic gems, O Master Fielding.’

‘Like…’ Noel cocked his head to one side, a mischievous smile twitching at his lips, ‘you would look simply smashing in cadmium red light.’

Julian blinked, his brain not entirely back at full speed. ‘What?’
But Noel’s smile cracked a further few degrees, and he reached slowly over to drag his finger across the square of perspex he was using as a palette. A moment later, the finger had flicked itself towards Julian, and a cool smear of moisture slapped against his cheekbone. He blinked in frank shock at Noel for a moment, before bringing his hand up to his face. Indeed, they came away smudged bright orange at the tips, and Julian exhaled a bemused sort of laugh, looking from Noel to his fingers and back again. Finally, he spoke.

‘Cadmium red, you said?’


He tilted his head in an examination of the paint on his fingertips. ‘Looks more orange to me,’ he said.

‘Well, yeah,’ Noel conceded, ‘but technically it’s light red. Red pigment, you understand, as opposed to orange pigment. It’s all in where it goes in the colour spectrum, see.’

Julian didn’t really see, of course, but he nodded anyway. If he didn’t, Noel would go on about it for ages trying to explain the subtleties of why a colour that looked orange was really red. He’d dig out old art theory books from college and jab at diagrams and colour wheels with paint-stained fingers, and come up with obscure metaphors to try and put the thing in a light he’d comprehend, and at the end of it all, Julian would be no closer to understanding than ever. So he nodded. Noel looked pleased enough.

‘Really though,’ Julian said after a moment, holding up one finger as if it were a piece of evidence under examination, ‘this colour doesn’t suit me at all. And you’re supposed to be the artist, Noel.’

‘No?’ Noel smiled and slid up onto his feet, delicately stepping over the canvas and around the couch, while Julian watched him with vague, amused wariness. ‘What d’you reckon then? Viridian?’ He leaned over the back of the sofa and drew the tip of his index finger down the bridge of Julian’s nose, which wrinkled a little under his touch. ‘You always did look good in green’

‘You’re a loon.’ Julian informed him, and Noel grinned wide and impish, his eyes lighting with the beginnings of a scheme.

‘Julian,’ he sing-songed, ‘I have an idea.’

Another almost painfully eloquent eyebrow lift from Julian in response, and Noel leaned in to press his mouth against Julian’s ear, whispering ‘Strip.’

Julian gave him a quelling look. Or as much of one as he could, given that Noel was behind him. ‘Strip?’

‘‘S what I said, innit?’ He looked positively gleeful now, and Julian eyed him dubiously.


‘Mmm.’ A soft kiss was laid just along his jawline, Noel’s teeth hard against his skin when he smiled. ‘Because,’ another kiss, ‘I want to paint you.’

‘Noel, I already told you–’

But Noel’s voice was insistent in his ear as he blew hot, teasing air against his skin. ‘Come on, just do it. For me, Ju.’

And Julian did. It had been a foregone conclusion, really, but he’d had to at least try to object. It would have been just sad if he hadn’t. Once he’d shucked all his clothes and thrown them in a hasty pile in the corner, he sat rather awkwardly back down on the couch and hauled a cushion into his lap to cover his dignity at least somewhat. Noel was staring at him avidly, and when he drew Julian in for a messy kiss, he could feel the heat of his body through the paint-splattered t-shirt he wore.

It was an effort not to follow Noel when he finally broke away, but Julian restrained himself, twisting the cushion in his grip. It was obvious the other man had something planned, and while the better part of his brain rejected that thought as being utterly terrifying, Julian would inevitably do his best to go along with it. Whatever it was. Noel smiled a tiny smile and dipped back in, laying tiny, nibbling kisses along the edge of Julian’s mouth.

‘You,’ he murmured, ‘are so sexy it’s ridiculous. You shouldn’t even be allowed.’

Julian kissed back, softly, drawing Noel’s lower lip in between his teeth and biting down just a little harder than was strictly necessary.

‘Thought you were gonna paint me.’

‘I am; I am.’ Noel’s expression went vacant. ‘Just–’

‘Just what?’

‘Just… lay down. And get rid of that bloody cushion.’ Noel’s eyes glittered, and a ripple of goose bumps washed over Julian’s skin as he did so. Noel flashed him a quick, dazzling smile, and then, bending to retrieve his palette, launched himself onto the couch so that he was straddling the other man. Immediately, Julian let out a little noise which might have been a groan if it hadn’t been for the air driven from his lungs as Noel settled atop him. Noel laughed, and pulled a paintbrush from where he’d stuck it into his ponytail.

‘Now, where shall we begin?’

The paintbrush dipped out of Julian’s sight for a moment, and he allowed his head to fall back onto the couch, closing his eyes, appreciating the heavy warmth of Noel’s body against his hips. Noel was shifting back and forth ever so slightly where he sat, and the resultant friction against Julian’s groin really was lovely. Really, really lovely. All thoughts of the loveliness of Noel against his skin were banished, however, when a sudden cold, ticklish pressure traced its way down the centre of his belly. The muscles just under the skin twitched reflexively and he jerked his head up to look down at himself. A bold stripe of what was really an obnoxiously loud yellow bisected his stomach, shimmering wetly in the low light. Julian grimaced.

‘I look like I’m about to go to a football match’

Noel smeared a thumb across Julian’s left pectoral, leaving a messy swirl of ultramarine blue in his wake. ‘Ah,’ he said, almost a whisper, ‘but I’m not done yet.’

‘Oh,’ said Julian. Or he would have, had Noel not flicked the tip of a paintbrush over a nipple at that very moment. Julian’s voice cracked, and Noel grinned, leaving the nipple behind. Bright, lime green, and Noel leaned down to breathe over it. A whimper tripped from Julian’s lips, and Noel grinned like a shark.

‘Permanent green light,’ he murmured, ‘with just a touch of cadmium lemon. The yellow,’ a fingerprint pattern of Japanese violet on Julian’s hip, ‘gives it a fantastic warmth.’

‘Really?’ His voice was a strained mutter, and Noel grinned.


Julian groaned as Noel’s hips shifted over his once again.

He didn’t know for how long Noel painted; he just closed his eyes and tried not to gasp as every brushstroke tingled over his skin, every careful application of a fingertip sent little shocks of energy to his core. A wet stripe of alizarin crimson across his throat, swirling designs of ivory black and copper and silver on his thighs and down to his calves, vines twined ‘round his left arm, resplendent in what Noel informed him was terra verte and sap green, flowers bursting into bloom here and there with psychedelic brightness. Noel murmured their names against his skin like some kind of filthy benediction; quinacridone magenta, napthol scarlet, mono orange, and manganese violet. The strange words fell heavy on his ears as paintbrush and fingers and little, lapping strokes of Noel’s tongue washed over his body.

He groaned deep in his throat when Noel (who’d been painting the tops of his feet plaid) suddenly surged back up to straddle Julian’s hips. He hadn’t quite realised just how hard he was, lulled into a mindless haze of pleasure by cool, wet paint and fleeting touches, but as soon as the hot pressure of Noel’s very clad arse settled on top of his own very unclad crotch, his head thudded back into the cushions with fantastic force.


Noel chuckled. ‘Eager little thing, aren’t you?’

But his eyes were dark and glittering, his mouth just slightly slack, and Julian could feel Noel’s hardness press against his own through the confines of his jeans. His own arousal pressing urgently against Noel’s, he exhaled a shaky little breath at the arresting thought that painting Julian could have turned Noel on this much. He brought paint-sticky hands up to Noel’s hips and brought him even closer, leaving bright blue handprints; his fingertips brushed against the skin just under the loose t-shirt, and Noel shivered, his tongue flickering out for a moment, dark lashes fluttering.

‘Come on, artist.’

And Noel was off the sofa in a bound, frantically wiping his hands clean on his shirt and tugging off his trousers. Julian watched in appreciative amusement as Noel hopped awkwardly about on one foot before flinging his pants and trousers away with what was probably an unnecessary amount of vehemence.

He was back on top of Julian the instant he’d fumblingly grabbed the lube from a side table, and an instant later, knees positioned carefully on either side of Julian’s hips, he sank down onto him. All Julian’s breath left him in a rush, his brain suddenly consumed with heat clenching all around him, and Noel sucked in an abrupt, choked breath.

‘Oh, fucking… Jesus, Julian. Ah, ow.’

Somehow, Julian managed to find concern beneath the fug of pleasure swirling in his synapses. He looked up at Noel. ‘Ow?’

‘No, no.’ Noel shook his head, still pressing down onto Julian, ‘It’s good. It’s very good. Just… wow.’ He pulled back slowly, gritting his teeth, before plunging back down. Julian thought his brain was going to fuzz out from sheer sensation. Noel threw his head back like a fucking porn star, moaning up at the ceiling, and Julian had to fight from coming right then and there.

‘God, you’re a little slut, Noel.’

Noel grinned breathlessly down at Julian. ‘Just a little.’

Noel’s hands were splayed on Julian’s chest, slipping in his own carefully-applied paint, smear and he rocked against Julian, up and down on trembling thighs until Julian was gasping. It was not long before Julian came, tensing and smothering his cry as he spent himself inside Noel, who coaxed him on with wicked murmurs and rolls of his hips. Noel followed soon after, lifting himself off the other man and reaching down to finish himself off with a few quick jerks. His back arched spectacularly when he did come, and after a moment seemingly suspended in motion, he collapsed back down onto the couch.

Julian’s chest was a smeared mess of reds and oranges and vibrant golds, but Noel slumped forward onto it nonetheless, shaking with deep, shuddering breaths, uncaring of paint and sweat. Julian grimaced fondly down at him, and traced a line of turquoise down the uneven stairway of his spine with the tip of one lazy finger. Noel muttered something against his chest, and Julian slid his hand up the younger man’s back and into his hair, tousling it tenderly.

‘That was nice,’ he murmured sardonically, and Noel grinned up at him, half his face a bright yellow-orange from where he’d been lying on Julian’s chest. He looked ridiculous.

‘Mmm,’ he agreed, looking smug. ‘I have been wanting to do that for so long.’

‘That’s ‘cos you’re a pervy freakshow.’

Noel giggled, giddy with endorphins. ‘Yeah, but you like it.’

Julian would have shrugged, but his whole body was heavy and tired and besides, he had Noel lying on top of him. ‘Fair enough,’ he murmured.

Several long, content moments passed. In the background, Morrissey sang about winning and Oscar Wilde; Julian briefly reflected on the complete lack of irony there; Oscar would have been proud-art and gay fucking all at once. Presently, Noel looked up and quirked an eyebrow at Julian, lazily running a finger through the paint that covered his chest.

‘You know what?’

Julian propped himself up on his elbows. ‘Do tell.’

‘I still think you look ace in cadmium red.’ He smirked a sideways smirk up at Julian, who shook his head with a little snort of laughter.

‘Yeah, well-I think I’d look even better if I wasn’t covered with the stuff.’


‘What about your paintings?’

Noel slid back up into a sitting position and blew his fringe out of his eyes dismissively. ‘Eh. The paintings can wait.’

Julian grinned. ‘Shower.’

The paintings, as it turned out, waited quite a long time. But they didn’t mind. Not really.

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