“But it’s true though isn’t it! Vince is awful to Howard this season. He’s really changed. He used to be all innocent and naïve and now all he cares about is his stupid fashionable friends and his clothes…” Julian was beginning to get the idea this wasn’t just about Vince… Julian/Noel friendship


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Notes: Just a little idea I had after listening to the commentary on Journey to the Centre of Punk, and Jonathan Ross’s radio interview with Noel and Julian. Unbetaed, con-crit always welcome.

Reassurances by el_gardner

There was a strange atmosphere in the room, caused mainly, Julian decided, by the lack of noise and activity coming from Noel’s direction. Currently, Noel was sat on Julian’s bed, where he had been for the past half hour, after letting himself into Julian’s hotel room, mumbling something about it being too quiet in his own.

That wasn’t anything unusual in itself, Julian often wondered why they got separate rooms when more often than not Noel would come to his after less than an hour of being on his own. Noel didn’t really like his own company, it seemed. He liked to be around people, loved talking and socialising with others. Julian sometimes wondered what Noel saw in him, he was socially inept at the best of time, even with Noel he could be quiet. But Noel never seemed to mind; he could talk for the both of them, and as long as Julian would listen he seemed to be happy.

Tonight however, he was unusually subdued.

Julian could see him out the corner of his eye and he sighed, fingers stilling on the keyboard. Noel looked nervous about something; he was biting his thumbnail the way he always did when he had something on his mind, and his head was slightly lowered, eyes obscured by his fringe as the fingers of his other hand picked absently at a thread in his faded jeans.

Julian sighed and set the laptop down, his emailing could wait; this, whatever this was, was obviously more important. “What’s wrong?”

Noel shrugged. “Nothing…”

Julian could always tell when Noel was lying and sighed as he twisted in his seat to look at him. Noel’s shoulders were drooped, in a way that suggested more than just tiredness, although he knew they both were. They were right in the middle of the publicity for their up live festival and working on last minute organisation as well as writing. Noel had been hitting the pubs and clubs a lot just lately, too, as Dee was away and he knew the younger man had been well and truly burning the candle at both ends and was due a bit of a melt down any time now. He knew the sighs well enough after being friends and working with him for so long now. As Noel knew what to look out for in Julian, too.


Noel shifted on the bed and pulled his knees up to his chest, hugging them tightly as he continued to refuse to look at Julian.

“Seriously, Noel. I know some thing’s wrong and I’m not going to let up until you tell me, so you may as well save us both a lot of effort and tell me now.” All he received was another shrug for his effort and he exhaled slowly. He was tired and he hated it when Noel was difficult like this. “Fine then. We’ll do it the hard way. Wanna drink?”

Julian didn’t wait for a response this time, feeling fairly sure he wouldn’t get one. Standing up wearily, he made his way over to the mini-bar, and pulled out a little bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses. Wordlessly, he poured the amber liquid into the two crystal tumblers and carried them over to the bed, passing Noel one and sitting down next to him. Shifting over, he made sure that his leg brushed Noel’s, knowing that contact always helped ease the younger man when he was feeling stressed or worried about something.

He watched as Noel uncurled a little and pressed his legs back against Julian’s softly, taking a sip of his drink and wincing at the taste. Julian took a long sip of his own, then settled back against the headrest, swirling the liquid in his glass absently as he waited; Noel would always talk eventually, when he was ready, it was just a matter of time…

“Do you think he was right?” Julian twisted his head to look at Noel as the younger man finally spoke.



“What?” Julian’s brow crinkled as he tried to work out who Noel could be talking about. Something clicked suddenly as he remembered a radio interview from earlier on in the day. “Ross?”


“Right about what?”

Noel paused then, and Julian watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. Running his finger around the rim of the glass absently, Noel took another longer sip, and Julian frowned as he caught sight of Noel’s eyes, which looked slightly bloodshot. “About what he said, you know, about Vince and Howard.”

“He said a few things, Noel. And we’ve done a lot of interviews today; you’re gonna have to be a bit more specific.”

Noel sighed. “About Vince being really horrible.” It began to click then, in Julian’s mind, what this was all about and he frowned.

“Noel, you’re not…” He began, but Noel cut him off.

“But it’s true though isn’t it! Vince is awful to Howard this season. He’s really changed. He used to be all innocent and naive and now all he cares about is his stupid fashionable friends and his clothes…” Julian was beginning to get the idea this wasn’t just about Vince. “And that scene! When Vince destroyed Howard’s jazz record. I hated that…”

“But Vince nearly died because of that, Noel. So it’s okay you know.”

Noel shook his head and looked up at Julian, and Julian could see now that Noel had obviously been crying. “But it isn’t! Because Howard had to save Vince, and he didn’t even want to, not really… Howard must get so fed up with him, being selfish all the time.”

“Noel,” Julian spoke softly now, realising this was more serious than he had first thought. He reached out his hand and carefully took Noel’s drink away from him, setting both his and Noel’s down on the side. “It is okay. Because Howard’s not always that nice to Vince either. He doesn’t appreciate him the way he should. If anything it’s probably Howard’s fault that Vince is like he is now…”

“So you do think Vince is horrible then?” Noel sniffed, looking down and Julian wrapped his arm around his shoulders, pulling him down to his chest.

“No. I don’t think Vince is horrible. He didn’t want to do it, we both know that. It was just peer pressure. He’s too easily led sometimes.” He paused, giving Noel’s shoulders a little squeeze. “I think he’s not as confident as he makes himself out to be. People don’t understand him because he puts on a mask. But I think Howard does. And he needs Vince.”

“You think so?” Noel’s voice sounded small, but hopeful, and it made Julian smile a little.

“Yeah. I do. Where would Howard be without Vince, eh? Absolutely nowhere, working in some dead-end little pub probably, playing Jazz to five people. And absolutely bored stiff! Vince gives Howard colour. And Howard knows Vince doesn’t mean any of the bad things he says or does. Just like Vince knows Howard doesn’t…”

Julian felt Noel nod against his chest, and stroked his hair away from his face. When Noel looked up at him he looked a little happier and Julian smiled down at him.

“Vince needs Howard, too. He’s the only one that really understands him. The rest of his friends aren’t real, they just hang around with Vince ‘cos he looks good. But Howard’s really stuck by him through everything. And Vince does appreciate that, even if he doesn’t show it all the time.”

“I’m sure Howard knows.” Julian chuckled softly as Noel snuggled closer to him, wrapping his arms around him more tightly. “Better now?”

“Yeah. Thanks, Ju.” Noel laughed slightly, and shook his head. “I’m sorry for getting all sappy on you. Guess I’m just tired, ‘s all.”

“Don’t be silly. I don’t mind. And you’re always sappy.”

“Am not!” Julian laughed as Noel sat up, face a picture of mock-affront. “And you’re just as bad anyway!”

“Maybe.” Julian ruffled Noel’s hair and laughed when Noel ducked away and smoothed it down again. He paused, looking at Noel carefully. “Seriously though Noel, you’re not Vince, so don’t worry about things like that, okay?”

Noel shrugged slightly. “Yeah, I know, but I hated seeing that scene and filming it. It felt like we were picking on you. And then to have Jonathan say that about Vince… Just made me feel worse.”

“Yeah, well. He doesn’t know anything about Howard and Vince, so don’t worry about it, okay? And besides we wrote those scenes together, I thought they were funny. So it’s okay.”

Noel nodded. “Yeah, I guess.”

The make up under Noel’s eyes was smudged a little, and Julian smiled, reaching out his hand and gently wiping beneath his eyes. Noel smiled back at him and then yawning widely. “Sorry, must be more tired than I thought I was…”

“You should get some sleep, you look shattered. And we’ve got another early start tomorrow.”

“Do you um, mind if I stop in here tonight? I just don’t feel like…” Noel trailed off, looking almost shy again, picking at the blanket.

“‘Course I don’t. You need something to sleep in?”

“Please. Don’t wanna get this creased.” Julian rolled his eyes as Noel patted the red t-shirt he was wearing. Another Charles of London one by the looks of it.

“Vain bastard,” Julian muttered, affectionately, as he rummaged through his bag at the side of the bed, grabbing himself and Noel a t-shirt and chucking the younger man his. “I’ve got some moisturiser in the bathroom. Will that do for taking your make-up off?”

“You have moisturiser? Ju, I’m impressed!”

“It’s the stuff you got me last year. And I don’t use it!”

“Yeah. So that’s why it’s in the bathroom then?” Noel laughed, and Julian shook his head as the younger man strolled out to the bathroom, t-shirt in hand, smirking at Julian as he went.

Julian was already in bed when Noel came back, devoid of make-up, and looking oddly vulnerable in the t-shirt that, whilst baggy on Julian, looked more like a dress on Noel. He flicked on the bed side lamp and asked Noel to turn off the light on the way.

“Thanks for letting me sleep here,” Noel whispered as he climbed into the bed beside Julian, snuggling up to him with a smile on his face as soon as Julian opened his arms in invitation.

“‘S okay. Just try and go to sleep now.”

Noel mumbled an affirmative as he wriggled slightly, making himself comfortable as he laid his head on Julian’s chest.

“Comfy?” Julian asked with a smile as Noel sighed contentedly.

“Mmm, you are. Thanks.”

Julian laughed lightly, feeling warm and content with Noel in his arms. It didn’t feel strange, to be holding him like that. It never did with Noel; it was just natural for them to be that close. Quietly, he reached out to turn off the lamp and settled back down against the pillow, one hand resting on Noel’s back, the other carding through the soft strands of his hair almost idly.

“Ju?” Noel asked quietly, just as Julian was beginning to think he had fallen asleep. “We are okay aren’t we?”

“Of course we are,” Julian tightened his hold on Noel, feeling protectiveness welling inside him. “Don’t ever worry about that, you idiot. We always will be.”


Noel sighed again, and Julian lightly kissed the top of his head, smiling as Noel laughed lightly in response. He was feeling sleepy now, and more content than he’d felt in a long time. He was just dozing off when Noel spoke his name again qietly. “Yeah?”

“Can we go out tomorrow night? Just the two of us? There’s this new club opening up, and it looks amazing. I’d really like to go with you…”

Julian smiled to himself, feeling oddly happy that Noel would want to go with him. “Yeah sure. It has been a while since we’ve been out together…” He trailed off as he tried to think of the last time it had been just Noel and him. It had been a long time ago and he decided it would actually be nice for just the two of them to go out.


“Shush now though. We won’t go anywhere if you don’t go to sleep now.”

“Yes mum.” Noel snorted softly then yawned, snuggling closer. “Night, Ju.”

“Night Noel.”

“Ju?” Julian sighed. “I do love you, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. Love you, too.”

Julian smiled to himself as Noel’s breathing slowly evened out. Noel might have been a lot of things; he might’ve been overly emotional and sensitive at times; he probably drank too much and partied too often; he was fidgety and too talkative and he had no sense of personsal space; and he was most certainly one hell of a diva when he wanted to be.

He was all those things. But underneath it all, he was still just Noel.

Julian’s best friend.

And he wouldn’t change him for the world.

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