There’s A Spider in the Bath

Noel has a bath, Julian helps...


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Notes: Just a little story I’ve had buzzing around my mind for a while so I though I may as well share

There’s A Spider in the Bath by roxy1989

Noel had pulled out all the stops that night. He had turned his phone off which was a luxury he rarely afforded himself and spent the past few hours dancing around his flat to an eclectic assortment of electro and rock albums. Between springing up in energetic fits to dance to the music he had been putting the finishing touches to a picture he had been working on for months of a cat wearing a Prussian blue suit and top hat standing on its hind legs as it prowled round the back streets of Camden. He had forgone eating in favour of making a cup of tea and smoking a quick cigarette before lighting some candles in preparation for a long and, he felt, much deserved soak in the bath. As he climbed in, with the distraught sounds of the Rolling Stones “Angie” playing in the background he slowly felt the tension ebb away and began to idly rub at the stray smudges of acrylic paint that seemed to have found their way onto his hands and arms. He then made the choice to apply some of the blue face mask he kept in the bathroom, the one that had caused so much hilarity during the filming of “Party”, scraping his black hair away from his face using one of the headbands that were supposedly “coming back in” he clipped the rest up with a crocodile grip. This was an item that Noel had no idea how he had acquired, yet was very grateful he had. A few strands escaped the grip of the clip and fell into bath, drifting about on the surface of the water in a rather dejected fashion. Noel decided that far worse things could happen however, and sank down into the bath closing his eyes. He was therefore unprepared for the sight that met him, causing him to recoil in fear, when he opened them some five minutes later. A large black shape loomed in his peripheral vision causing his heart rate to rise and his breath to hitch, Noel slowly turned his gaze fully to the left hoping against hope that it wasn’t what he thought it was and when his suspicions were confirmed he leaped out of the bath, causing water to cascade down the side and in two rather pixie like steps sprung to the other side of the bathroom. Turning his back to the wall he braced himself to do a quick check of the creatures whereabouts and seeing it had only scuttled a couple of inches closer he slowly began to back out of the room, all the while keeping a closely trained eye on the spider that had so ruined his evening.

Julian, Noel thought, I have to call Julian, he’ll know what to do he always does. Of course by know what to do Noel meant come over and remove the spider himself but that though didn’t occur to Noel as he fumbled through his doctor’s bag in search of the snubbed phone which, out of revenge, decided to take an agonisingly long time to turn on and register with the network. All this was academic however, as after Noel had scrolled through the seemingly endless contacts list before hitting on Julian he pressed call only to make the horrifying discovery that the phone had been switched to voice mail.

“Julian, it’s Noel. What’s the point of having a fucking phone if you never have it switched on!?” Noel swallowed, took a deep breath and struggled to collect his thoughts “Look I’m really sorry but please call me back as soon as possible, it’s really urgent and I need your help. Please Ju I don’t know what to do.” It was only at this point that Noel realised he was still minus clothing due to the interrupted bath and made the decision to grab a nearby towel from the radiator, wrap it round his waist and slump down at the top of the stairs that lead to his flat from the hall, waiting desperately for his phone to ring.

Julian hurried though the crowded London streets, hugging his sheepskin coat around him and pulling the ridiculous cowboy hat down further over his head, it was the only hat he owned (by “owned” he meant Noel had abandoned it at his house once and Julian had since inherited it)The hat was frankly ludicrous in this weather, and in the vague hope of generating some heat Julian sparked up a fag, it was as he was searching for his lighter he noticed the angry phone staring up at him, displaying the abrupt message “One Missed Call”. Julian listened to the message and felt his insides somersault several times. Noel’s was where he was heading anyway but the panicked tones made him double his pace and abstain from the trip he was planning to Sainsbury’s where he was going to buy the ingredients to cook them both dinner tonight. After about a quarter of an hour of more furious pushing and shoving through the London crowds, head down against the wind, Julian found himself outside of Noels flat, looking up it puzzled him as to why all the main lights seemed to be off yet there was a faint orange glow coming from the bathroom window. Who turns off the lights in an emergency Julian thought to himself as he began fumbling around in deep pockets for the set of house keys Noel had once given him, his icy cold fingers finally clasped around the cold metal of the keys that had made their way into the lining of his coat. Julian steeled himself, placed the key in the lock and turned, his mouth dry as he did so. Slowly he pushed the door open and looked up, but before he could fully turn his eyes to the top of the stairs he felt arms encircle his neck and a familiar pointy chin rest on his shoulder.

“Ju” Noel cried out with relief as he rushed towards his knight in shining armour

“Thank God it’s you I thought you weren’t going to come there’s a spider Ju a huge spider in the bathroom please get rid of it please”

Noel gushed in one alarmed sentence.

“A spider!?” Julian questioned “That’s your emergency”

Julian felt a spark of anger ignite in his stomach at the way Noel had made him feel, terrified that something had happened to him that could really hurt him or put him in danger. This spark however was soon extinguished when he looked up to see large, round, blue eyes nodding at him earnestly through thick eye lashes, with a look of genuine terror etched across Noel’s face. Julian took in the blue face mask which had, by now dried completely onto Noel’s face and was beginning to crack in accordance with any facial expressions he made. He took in the strands of hair which had escaped the grasp of the hair grip, falling into the bath water, and were starting to dry, twisting haphazardly around Noels face. He took in the figure standing before him looking so utterly vulnerable and child like and realised he could never stay angry at Noel for long. At this same moment Julian that the feelings he had for Noel weren’t quite those of your average double act. The overwhelming desire to protect Noel, to share with him everything he possibly could, the fact that whenever he saw Noel with someone else he felt a pang of jealousy, the longing to have Noel in ways he had never had before.

“I think it’s a fucking black widow spider or something” Noel offered, completely serious, startling Julian from his reverie.

“You can’t get those here Noel” Julian soothed as he placed an arm around Noel’s shoulder and began to lead him upstairs “It’ll just be a common house spider or something. It’s more scared of you than…”

Noel cut him off “Than I am of it. I’ve heard that one before but I haven’t just gate crashed it’s bath time have I.”

Julian smiled at Noel’s logic as he guided Noel through to the lounge and over towards the sofa before going to put the kettle on, using all this as a way to avoid actually having to go near the spider before he really had to. Truth be told they weren’t his best friend either but looking at the petrified Noel on the sofa something told him there was no way he could expect Noel to handle this one alone. Julian boiled the kettle and made two mugs of tea stopping to study a piece of drying artwork propped up against the wall as the drinks were drawing, he smiled appreciatively before taking Noel’s tea through to him.

“I’ll go and show this spider who it’s messing with then little man” said Julian, slipping into “man of action mode” in an effort to relax Noel, and picking up a copy of the NME and a glass before striding towards the bathroom. As Noel watched him retreat he saw a picture of confidence, but as Julian retreated he had a rather sceptical look on his face.

“Right” Julian thought to himself as he rounded the door and looked in to see a rather sizeable spider dancing around the taps as if they were some bizarre miniature helter skelter. “Let’s start with the basics” he decided as he began to blow out the candles in favour of the ceiling light. Julian slowly approached the taps, using the type of measured walk they use in the films when they want to stop someone jumping of a very, very tall building. It was during this measured walk that Julian remembered the picture of horror on Noel’s face, the fact that he genuinely considered this to be an emergency and the fact that whilst Noel was brave enough to walk round the city wearing cowboy boots, skinny jeans, some random sparkly top or another, and generous lashings of eye make up, he was not brave enough to tackle a common house spider. At least Julian hoped that was what it was but after seeing the spider himself Noel’s suggesting of a black widow spider didn’t seem so absurd now. With this new found confidence Julian calmly placed the NME in front of the spiders path, watched nonchalantly as it scuttled onto the faces of “The Horrors” and placed the glass on top of it. He then walked through to the living room, with his arachnid victim in its glass cage, and proudly held it out towards Noel, who squeaked in protest and huddled further into the sofa, before begging Julian to take it away.

“Hey” Julian smiled as he watched Noel sink into an armchair in the opposite corner. After recovering from his ordeal Noel had gone to have a shower to wash away the blue face mask that had eventually cracked like dry mud and repair the damage that had been done to his hair by getting it wet but not washing it when it fell into the soapy bath water. This was after Noel’s sudden realisation that he was standing wrapped only in a bath towel in front of Julian, Noel suddenly felt awkward which wasn’t something that ever happened with Ju and so had taken the opportunity to scuttle off whilst he was busy looking through the kitchen cupboards on the premise of hunting for something to make up for their lost dinner. This was, at least, what Noel thought but what Julian was actually doing was waiting for Noel to leave the room so he could have a proper look at Noel’s most recent paintings. He had noticed there were a couple peeking out from various corners of the room, some tucked behind others that he hadn’t seen before and was eager to have a proper look at them. He loved the way they inspired him, feeling that he fed from Noels creations when writing the Boosh music, it also made Julian feel warm to think that Noel was probably a good enough artist to survive on that alone especially with the help of some of his more eccentric friends, but yet he had chosen him. Julian wondered if Noel ever felt that way about him and his music, he doubted it, but liked to think it nonetheless.

“Hey” Noel returned, giving Julian a wide, but uncharacteristically shy smile.

“So…What’s happened?”

“What’s happened? What do you mean what’s happened” repeated Noel, although he was pretty sure he knew damn well what Ju meant.

“Well” began Julian gently “You’re spending a night at home with me for one thing, that’s always a cause for concern”

“Ju that’s not fair you know I love our evenings in together” Noel paused, hesitant “It’s nice, you know, to just kind of pretend that its like when we first met. When it was just me and you, no expectant fans, no press waiting to see if I’ll fuck up real bad the next time, just…us”

“I know but I’m just not used to finding you at home, alone, with your phone switched off. It worries me” Julian stopped and raised his eyebrows at Noel “Nice message by the way, not in the least bit hypocritical.”

“Oh” Noel looked up at Julian, round, blue eyes partially obscured by his fringe “Sorry about that I was just panicked” and then “I miss her you know, even after everything, I miss her”.

“Has she moved all her stuff out?”

Noel nodded slowly, then looked over at Julian “It feels really empty”.

Julian remembered the day when everything ended between Noel and Dee, much to everyone’s surprise it was because Dee had been having an affair, not Noel as every tabloid seemed to constantly insist. Julian remembered walking up the stairs to Noel’s flat with him as he talked animatedly about some item he had just found in the Topshop sale, he remembered Noel unlocking the door, walking through to the kitchen and in an absent minded way watching Noel throw his bag and keys onto the kitchen table, covering up a note addressed to him in Dee’s handwriting. Julian had taken over the process of making a drink as Noel read the letter, thinking it was just a note saying Dee had gone to the shops or something. As Julian had turned round to hand Noel the tea he had been met by a face paler than usual and eyes so marked by hurt and shock. Noel passed the note over for Julian to read and as he scanned it through although he felt sympathy for Noel he couldn’t help but feel smug that it was her, Dee, who had fucked it all up, not his beloved Noel who he felt deserved more credit, more trust. The letter, as well as informing them that Dee was seeing someone else also said that she had gone away for a little while and would come back to collect her things when she felt things would have calmed down and Noel had had times to “gather” himself. Julian remembered feeling angered by the fact that Dee obviously thought it would be so easy for Noel to just forget everything and “gather” himself.

“Everything that happened with Dee” Noel suddenly spoke up “It made me think about everything”. Noel looked at Julian as if checking that he was still comfortable and that he could still trust him. “Do you ever think we’re missing out on something, that we could be more?”

Julian felt his heart pounding. Noel felt it too? He watched as Noel, the anxiety plainly written across his face got up from the armchair and moved closer to Julian, perching on the edge and wringing his hands together.

“Noel” Julian said as he took one of Noels hands in his own “Noel” he tried again and then, feeling at a loss for words he pulled Noel down into a deep, passionate kiss. A small moan escaped from Noel before he pulled back in surprise as if suddenly afraid that Julian was just deceiving him.

“You…you’ve thought about this too?” questioned Noel

Julian struggled to bite back a smile at that notion, for he believed that “thought about it” was a slight understatement for what he had imagined him and Noel doing together recently, and when he said recently he meant for several years. Julian remembered the times when he had wanted to tell Noel how striking he looked in some new top he had bought, or how sweet he looked with his black fringe sweeping across his eyes, or when he came into a room wearing sunglasses and clutching a take away tea but still beaming his beautiful smile. Julian remembered these things and how he had been forced to keep his compliments of Noel as casual and off hand as possible. Julian also thought of the times when he had told Noel that he was busy that evening and so wouldn’t be able to meet him after a some stand up show or another purely so he could sneak into the back of the audience and watch Noel perform, feeling a sense of pride at the way he worked the audience, and basking at the fact that after all these years Noel could still make him laugh like nobody else.

“I’ve thought about it” nodded Julian with a smile in a way that he hoped seemed as relaxed and calm about the whole thing as possible in spite of the fact that his heart was beating at a thousand miles an hour. It was enough for Noel however, who found Julian’s voice soothing as he always did and moved in closer for another kiss before resting his head on Julian’s shoulder, enjoying to sensation of Julian tracing soft, idle circles along his arm. They sat like this for some time Julian feeling content in Noel’s flat as he took in the bright, colourful paintings and odd little trinkets decorating the place, the fact that he always felt more at home here than in his own bare flat where really the only thing to mark his presence was a few jazz records, was he supposed, quite telling. Noels breathing was getting slower and steadier and occasionally he would make small noises which Julian fancied to be purring, but then out of the blue Noel seemed to snap back to being half awake.

“Ju” Noel moved his head from Julian’s shoulder and looked up into his eyes, which showed nothing but compassion and concern “Is this going to be OK, for us to be this way?”

“Noel…” Julian tried to calm him but Noel continued.

“I don’t think I can be such as cliché. If all the things people said about me, about the way I am were suddenly true I just don’t know…Imagine what people will think”

“Noel” Julian said quietly as he ran his fingers through Noel’s silky, black hair “You could never, ever, be a cliché”. Julian punctuated his words with kisses “You always do what makes you feel happy and comfortable, your painting, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to. You never let how other people think you should be affect you at all, and in all the years I’ve known you I’ve never known you to care what other people think. Why does this time have to be any different?”

Noel gazed at Julian and began to think of everything Julian meant to him. He thought of the amount of times he had told Dee he was going to be in one place and his friends he was going to be in another before stealing off to Julian’s to enjoy just being them rather than just being Boosh. Noel thought back to the NME interview they had done a couple of months ago where he had got himself into such a state and Dee had bundled him off into the back of taxi to look after him and how badly he wished Julian was taking him home instead. He remembered how on that day, when nobody else was looking he had shared a brief embrace with Julian, yet even in these few seconds Julian had managed to quieten him more than anybody else. Noel thought about how Julian seemed to feel comfortable around him no matter what he did, no matter how short the skirt, how thick the make up, how long the touch lingered Julian had never questioned any of it. Finally Noel thought of all the times Julian had offered him what felt like complete safety throughout all the times Noel had gone to him with a problem Julian had always listened and calmed him before considering it all and helping him figure out what to do, as he had done this Julian had constantly reassured Noel that he need never worry about losing him whatever happened.

Noel smiled up at Julian before giving him a gentle yet passionate kiss, relaxing into him.

“It doesn’t Ju, it doesn’t have to be at all.”

And with that Noel fell to sleep on Julians shoulder, safe in the arms that held him, knowing that he never need worry about spiders again.

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