Category: Real Person Fic
Pairing: Noel Fielding/Julian Barratt
Challenge: Challenge 04: Valentine's
Length: 1-5k words
Chapter Notes: Okay, well, I shall try my best to keep this from descending into angst-ridden Lord of the Rings style fic… but I’m making no promises! Thankyou to everyone who has given me encouragement (and those who prodded me rather harshly!), and to the wonderful thymeth for beta-ing this, even though I was an impatient little sod and posted it before she had a chance to reply! Sorry, love!
Challenge: Challenge 4: Valentines
“Oh, come on, Julian… Come out, will you? It’s Valentine’s Night! You have to come out!”
Julian was sitting on the sofa in their living room, just watching Noel getting ready to go out. It was amazing how little make-up and eye-trickery was needed to turn Noel into some sort of androgynous electro-diva… just a little lip gloss, some dark eye shadow and the tightest, sparkliest top Julian had ever seen. The light from the studio lights behind him were reflected from the dazzling tank top, almost blinding him. Noel turned, and Julian caught the sight of an inch of skin at his hip. He was only prevented from staring at it because Noel knelt down in front of him and tugged his elbow.
“Look, Julian,” he started, and the other man knew something was up because Noel’s voice only ever got that soft when he was upset or exhausted. “It’s just, this is the first night we’ve been able to go out in ages, without there being work tomorrow or anything, no black voodoo hanging over our heads like the axe in whatever story that was… and I want you to come out.”
“Why?” Julian was transfixed by Noel’s eyes… he wondered mildly whether the eyes were large enough to be considered ‘abnormal’. Or if they were just a little big.
Something like a blush crept across Noel’s pale cheeks at that, and he broke his stare. Shrugging slim shoulders and clambering back up to a standing position in his white platform boots, Noel mumbled, “It’s just… you’ve been locked up in the recording studio for so long. I’m worried about you… You look like a vampire – that’s how long you haven’t been outside.”
“I look like a vampire?” Julian spluttered. “What about you? Jeff the anaemic ghost looks like he’s got a tan, stood next to you!”
A grin began to curl Noel’s lips at that, and his eyebrow’s rose, “Oh, seen ‘Jeff’ recently, have you?” He crossed his arms in front of his chest.
Keeping his own smile back, Julian nodded, and uncrossed his legs, “Just last week, I saw Jeff.”
“And he’s alright, is he?”
“Well, you know… keeping busy.”
Noel giggled and Julian’s stomach turned upside-down unexpectedly.
“The point was,” the younger man carried on, turning back to the living room mirror to check his hair, inadvertantly giving Julian full view of his leather-clad arse. Julian looked away and fixed his eyes pointedly on Noel’s latest artwork, standing up by the skirting board on his right. “… That it’s about time you thought about leaving the house. Stepping out into the big, wide world…. all the music’s done now. It’s time for you to make your entrance again. We can go, hand in hand, out there! I’ve got a few friends in high places… we could call ourselves ‘The Motherfuckers’! We’d own the world, no one’d give us grief!” Noel was getting excited, and his skinny arms flailed in Julian’s peripheral vision.
Julian sighed, “I’ll decide the schedule for my own entrance, thanks”. Catching Noel’s rather crestfallen look, he added, “Look, I’ll be fine. I’m just a bit tired – I’m like the weary old lion, coming to the end of his days, stetching out in the long grass… in the Saharah… …essentially-speaking, I’ll come out with you next time, alright?”
“Yessir… Go out already, I’ve had enough of your childish, verbal meanderings!” Julian stood, and walked into the kitchen. Reaching the fridge, he leant down to get a beer. Noel sidled up, and leant in the doorway, unusually quiet… which could only mean he was sulking.
Julian turned round, and spotted him. Glaring at Noel as his accusing blue eyes bored straight into him, he opened his beer. “I warn you, I’ll be putting jazz on at full volume in T-minus 5 minutes”. He took a swig.
That got Noel moving, he smiled to himself in satisfaction as Noel shot from the room. He heard him clatter up the stairs as he sat back down on the sofa and put the CD player on, but low so as not to annoy his friend. After a minute or so, Noel came back down… wearing his fabulous green, fur-trimmed coat, and Julian realised he was having hard time focusing on the soothing guitar riffs of Allan Holdsworth, something which had never happened before.
No, it had… Noel had yawned while being a foot away from him on the tour bus once. It had been one of those full-body yawns and Julian and broken his cd player.
Noel grimaced in a long-suffering manner at the sounds being emitted from the stereo, and began fastening his coat up, “Right, I’m off… look, Julian. If you change your mind, yeah, we’re at Bar Rivers, alright?”
Julian nodded and waved a hand, “Fine, fine… see you later, chewy teeth.”
“Laters, small eyes,” Noel grinned, saluted and bounced off, though not before grabbing his cowboy hat from it’s place on top of the radiator. Julian heard the door slam with a clatter, and Noel’s footsteps slamming down the path and down the street.
Letting out a breath, Julian let his head fall back on the furry cushions of the sofa Noel had insisted on having. He didn’t know what he was feeling, but he knew he was feeling something… and he knew it had to do with his best friend. He’d felt it before… when they were both crammed into broom cupboards of pubs, waiting to emerge from behind cardboard screens and act as if they were coming off the wings of Drury Lane. When Noel had fallen asleep on him on set once after eating too many sweets and coming down from his seemingly-perpetual sugar-high… when Noel sung ‘Monkeys Stole My Face’ for the first time, when he had first danced to Gary Numan in that ridiculous way he did, or when he was bent over a blank canvas, arse in the air…
Feeling restless, Julian stood up, and switched Allan off.
This was no way for him to act. He was a grown man, an accomplished man. He wasn’t stupid, and he didn’t ignore his feelings… much. He did know what he was feeling. He knew it all too well. It had kept him awake most nights for the past year or so… and on some level he had always known it, ever since he’d first met the blond, hyperactive little whirlwind, introduced as one Noel Fielding. He loved him.
Okay, Julian shook himself as he strode about the living room, maybe ‘love’ was too strong a word. Far too strong a word… it was, in fact, the absinthe of verbs. ‘Fancied the arse off him’ was probably more appropriate. More like cider, that word, the word ‘fancy’…. but then was it a cider-verb he wanted?
He couldn’t be sure any more. All he was sure of was that he had not told Noel how he felt. He had made sure of that… even when drunk, on the verge of passing out, Julian had restrained himself. It killed him, made him miserable… and he wasn’t even sure why! He’d seen Noel seduce men… he’d seen him lead them into bedrooms, or pounce on them on sofas. Likewise, he himself was no stranger of the boyish tongue… so what was the problem?
A little voice answered him, one sounding exactly like Bruno Mindhorn… because this wasn’t just a mild fancying, or even a hardcore infatuation…
This was it. This was… love.
So, what the fuck now?
Julian had had this crashing realisation… this answer to all his confusion, all his worries… and yet it still left him in the middle of sodding nowhere! He could either keep shtum, and suffer this new piece of information in silence for the rest of his days, and hope his attraction for Noel didn’t get any worse (or better, depending on how you looked at it)… or, he could just tell Noel. He’d run the risk of ruining the best friendship he’d ever had, not to mention both their careers: if Noel said no, then Julian would simply not be able to look him in the face, and that would hardly look good…
But, he couldn’t really do that at the moment… his eyes were almost always drawn further south. It was like Noel had a magnet in his crotch or something… except, Julian stopped pacing to think about the logistics of such a claim, that would mean he, himself, had iron-eyes. Plus, Noel would run the risk of becoming attached to lamposts and the like…
He shook his head angrily: he had to concentrate! Damn his tangent-prone mind!
That was it. He had to do it, or he’d lose whatever hold on his mind he had left. He had to tell Noel, or at least give him some sign. He grabbed his black coat, Noel’s multi-coloured scarf and the house keys, and shot out the door into the cold night. He headed in the direction of the club, breath misting in the air.
Julian reached the club within ten minutes, squeezed past the bouncers and people crowding the entrance. He looked around the crush of people, all dancing to hideous electro music and waving their arms in the flashing, brightly coloured lights. Julian grinned to himself: no wonder Noel liked this place. Scanning the floor and the alcoves, he couldn’t see Noel anywhere, and so thought he’d get himself a drink in. He wandered over to the bar.
“Alright, mucker! There’s no need: I was just going anyway!”
That was Noel’s voice… he knew that soft London accent anywhere. Julian looked around, and there was Noel, up against one of the walls ten feet away, facing three rather large men. It’s funny how Noel never ever seemed short to Julian – maybe his personality made up for it or something… or just he was almost always wearing heels – yet here, in this sort of situation, Julian was made acutely aware of how the three men towered over his friend.
Noel looked okay, he still had his drink in his hand for one… but then, the younger man glanced over and caught Julian’s eye, and he could see a frightened sort of glint laced his gaze, and it made his stomach clench.
“Look! I don’t want any trouble, alright?” he could hear Noel tell the three men, raising one hand in defence. “You knocked your drink all over me, remember?”
“Fucking tough, poofter,” one of the men shouted in his face.
At once, Julian moved towards the situation, but he was not quick enough. It was almost like slow motion. He the man then draw his right arm back until his clenched fist was on level with his head, then drive it towards Noel’s mid-section, impacting solidly. Noel crumpled, the air leaving his lungs with a horrid ‘woosh’ sound that made Julian feel sick. He could feel his mouth go dry, then suddenly his legs were moving and he was standing over Noel, daring the bastards to try and hit him again.
Noel was kicked in the ribs without hesitation, and so Julian lunged for the nearest two men, noting with a peverse pride that Noel kicked the other one in the balls from where he lay, coughing on the ground. Now, not being a fighting man, Julian was promptly hit in the face, which hurt a lot… but he still managed to get a few jabs of his own in before the men were pulled away from them by the massive bouncers.
Naively thinking that they would be allowed to stay, Julian was very surprised when Noel was hauled up from the floor, and they were both manhandled to the exit, while the other three men were taken the other way to the back exit. They were thrown back out into the street, and the door was shut firmly behind them.
Julian was bent-double, hands on his knees, winded. He could hear Noel’s harsh panting from just next to him, interrupted by coughs. He reached out a hand blindly, and laid it across Noel’s narrow back comfortingly, only to have it shrugged off and the younger man move away from him. Confused, he straightened, and saw Noel was walking away from him.
“Noel? Noel!” he shouted, and ran to catch up with him. “You okay?”
“Look, just fuck off, Julian,” Noel snarled at him, voice unnaturally harsh, and he fell back at once. Julian watched as his friend stalked away from him, arms folded under his chest, shoulders stiff and hatless head downturned.
Julian stood stock still and watched him go. At a complete loss and really quite shaky, he had no idea what to do with himself. It had all happened so fast! He probably wasn’t going to tell Noel just yet… but he had nothing else to do, nowhere else to go, so he might as well go back home. Find out what was wrong with Noel, for starters.
When he got back to their house, Julian couldn’t find Noel. He checked every single room, panic rising in his throat. Finally, he decided to check the roof… clambering out the skylight in the bathroom, banging his long legs repeatedly against the window-frames and cursing loudly, he was on the flat part of the roof. Sure enough, there was Noel, joint in hand, staring at the sky.
“Hey, little man,” Julian ventured cautiously, moving towards him.
Noel looked up, and Julian was relieved to see all traces of anger gone from his eyes. Only now, it was replaced by an awful sadness. Wordlessly, Noel looked back out across the rooftops of Dalston and took a draw from the sloppily-rolled joint. Julian sighed and sat down next to him, dangling his legs over the edge of the drainpipe running along the edge of the roof. “Alright?”
It was funny how often he now used the phrase which had annoyed him so much when first meeting Noel.
After a pause, Noel said quietly, “I lost my cowboy hat.”
“Oh… I wouldn’t worry. It wasn’t Johnny Depp’s or anything…”
“No!” Noel turned his head viciously. “I mean… what I mean is that we could have been kicked completely shitless… you could have had your nose broken. If you hadn’t have been there, I-I could have been in hospital… and all I can think about is a stupid fucking cowboy hat.” This last bit was uttered bitterly, and accompanied by Noel throwing away the last stub of the joint, without offering Julian any. “I really am just a shallow poof…” Julian knew Noel well enough to know he was mortified by the night’s events, and that his pride had been stung somewhat.
Julian sighed, and Noel stayed quiet. After a minute or so, Julian got up and pulled Noel with him, back down into the house.
Noel stayed silent the entire time, something Julian was both upset and unnerved by. He pushed Noel into his bedroom, sat him on the bed to take off his stuffed coat, shirt and boots… Noel appeared to be in something like a state of shock. While he was pulling his boots off, Julian hastened a glance up at him, and found Noel’s eyes filled with tears.
Now Julian almost started to freak out: Noel never cried. It was just not something he did. Julian had seen him break all the toes of his right foot, once, and hadn’t cried. The only time he had ever seen Noel even close to crying was a few years before, when he’d thought something had happened to Mike. He came and sat by Noel and, hesitant and unsure, put an arm around the smaller man’s shoulders, pulling him towards him, wincing at the hissing sound Noel made when he touched his sore ribs.
Much to his surprise, Noel responded by leaning in closer, head against his chest, and wrapping his arms around Julian’s waist. An action to which Julian felt a wave of warmth spread across his body. He felt Noel let out a shaky breath, then felt his voice rumble up through his ribcage as Noel said, “Thanks, Julian.”
“For going at them with your fists ablaze,” Noel looked up at him with a hint of a smile. Then the smile dropped almost as soon as it had come, “I can’t believe you did that. You could have really been hurt, you tit.”
“Well, I wasn’t, was I?” Julian shrugged.
“Yeah, but you could have been… I was really scared for a minute, there. I can’t believe you stepped in… you were like the knight that rides in on the horse, with a newly-polished shield… and shiny shin-pads…” Noel said softly, long fingers playing with the hem of Julian’s coat.
“Well, of course I stepped in… I… I’d do anything to stop you being battered,” Julian felt his face flush as the halting words fell out of his mouth ungracefully. He felt Noel stiffen beneath his arm, the hand playing with the hem froze, and his heart stopped beating. But then, Noel’s body relaxed and he heard him laugh a little… and he mentally kicked himself.
Then he thought, to hell with it. It was now or never.
“No, really,” he said, voice serious.
Noel looked up at him, brilliant blue eyes wide and mouth slightly open. Julian fought not to be uncomfortable under the intense stare, hating the feeling that he was being weighed up. He shifted awkwardly, but Noel did not draw back… Julian took this to be a good sign, and raised his eyebrows at the other man, waiting for his verdict.
It came when Noel reached up, one hand behind Julian’s neck and one coming up to rest against his stubbled cheek, and captured Julian’s lips firmly with his own.
Oh, right then…