The pair go camping on their anniversary. Vince throws a strop, and Howard does some stuff.


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Length: words

Notes: Um, this fic’s fluffy ending makes me violently ill. But it was hard enough finishing it in the first place so I’m not going to change it.

Camping by cailenbraern

Vince was furious.

So furious, he’d actually thrown his poncho out of the van window. The impossible had happened. It turned out he could be unhappy in a poncho.

And it was Howard’s fault.

Howard promised Vince a relaxing weekend away to celebrate their six-month anniversary. It was more to celebrate the fact that they had lasted six months without killing each other rather than spending six months together. He had pleaded with Howard to tell them where they were going, but Howard refused, clamming up tighter than a tiger’s anus.

His flights of fancy envisaged a weekend in Paris, dining out under the stars with wine, or it was also entirely possible to spend three days in Italy, strolling around the shops for some fashionable bargains. Maybe Spain. He liked Spain.

His dreams were shattered when he stepped out of their flat that morning to find two suitcases, a sleeping bag and a tent crammed into the boot of Howard’s van.


“What’s wrong with that? Yeah? You and me, alone, surrounded by nature? You can’t get better than that, little man.”

“What about heating, running water, electricity?”

“We don’t need that. We’ll live off the land for three days. Take this opportunity to bond closer together and use our skills.”

“As if! You’re useless!”

“How dare you. Shut up, and get in.”

So he had no choice. Howard had somehow managed to pack his best clothes into one suitcase, and there was no way he was spending a weekend without them. So he got into the van and slammed the door shut. Howard got in next to him, and started up the van.

They spent half an hour in silence. He could see Howard glancing at him every now and again, as if trying to think of something to say that might make him feel better. The best he could come up with was:

“You’re not sulking are you? I thought it was impossible to be unhappy in a poncho.”

At last he turned and scowled at Howard, rolling down his window. Ignoring the unusually chilly August air, he yanked off his poncho, screwed it into a ball and chucked it out onto the motorway.

“Why did you do that?”

He ignored Howard once more, winding the window back up.

An hour had passed, and Vince had still not moved. No sweets were consumed, no Electro noise was forcibly played, no zany stories were told, Vince just sat there, staring ahead through the windscreen. Howard was troubled. He thought Vince would react badly to his camping idea, but if it were given a chance, he and Vince would enjoy this weekend. Now it appeared he had misjudged Vince’s idea of a good time, and their anniversary was to be spent in silence with glares. Well, not him! He wasn’t going to sit there in silence while Vince moped like a spoilt child. He knew what he was doing, and he knew he was right.

“You’ll love this place, Vince. I used to go with my parents. Such a quiet little wood and there’s a river, so we’ll have water. It’s beautiful.”

Vince turned to him once more, this time staring at him with disgust rather than anger. He wasn’t sure which glare he preferred.

“You’re taking me to Leeds?”

“No, not Leeds. Outside Leeds. Yorkshire.”


“Yeah! Very beautiful place you know.”

“I can’t go to Yorkshire!”

“Why not?”

“It’s full of you lot!”

“I’m not sure I’m following you Vince.”

“Northerners! They take one look at me, and they’re gonna start pummelling me in. It’s the old North/South divide. God, I can’t even think about it. Imagine what they’ll do to my face? Ugh.”

Vince shuddered, arms wrapped across chest. Howard looked up through the dashboard at the sun. It was still shining down, feebly, but the temperature had decidedly dropped.

“Do you want my coat?”

“No, thanks.”

“Do you want me to buy you a new one?”


He sighed, and smiled. Sometimes having a superficial boyfriend was hard work, but at least he knew how to satisfy him. He exited the motorway, following directions to the nearest shopping centre.

“I’m bored.”

Howard looked up from the tent poles and pegs scattered on the floor with disbelief.

“What are you talking about? We’ve been here five minutes.”

“Well, I want to go back home.”

Howard sighed, and dropped the two poles that he held.

“Just give it a chance, yeah? You and me spending a weekend together?” Howard grinned mischievously, a look that was so unexpected that it made him seem deranged. “Outdoors…”

Vince ignored the connotations of his last word, still sulking about the whole thing.

“In the freezing cold!”

“…It’ll warm up.”

“It better do.” Vince wrapped his new black, leather jacket tighter. Howard assumed that once he paid the extortionate amount of money for it, Vince would come around. Instead all he got was a moody, talkative Vince instead of a moody, silent Vince.

“Look, why don’t you go down to the river and fetch some water, hm? While I put up the tent.”

“Why don’t I throw myself into the river and drown?” Vince spat back, but he picked up the water bottle and huffed away from Howard, heading down to the river.

He knew he should cut Howard some slack. After all, the jacket was quite expensive, and plus it suited him really well, but for some reason he found it hard to be sympathetic when his designer cowboy boots were being caked in mud as he squelched down to the river bank,

At least the water looked clean. He leant over and started to fill the bottle.

“Excuse me, miss!”


He overbalanced, finishing off a perfect day by falling into the water. The river was three, maybe four foot deep so he treaded water whilst some unseen force pulled him back to the bank. He heaved himself up onto the muddy grass, and lay there shivering and gasping for air.

“I’m sorry, miss. Didn’t mean to startle you!”

He rolled over and with a muddy hand brushed away the hair that was plastered across his eyes. Sitting in front of him, paws raised bashfully was an otter.

“I could have drowned!”

“I’m so terribly sorry, ma’am.”

“I’m not a girl.”

“Aren’t you?”


“Well you look like one…the hair…”

“This is my look, alright?”

“Can it be…Vince?”


“I thought I’d never see you again. You saved my life and then it was all over so suddenly.”

“Yeah. That was Howard’s fault.” ‘When isn’t it?’ Vince thought, bitterly.

“Why are you here?”


“I’m sorry?”

“It’s our anniversary. He thought it’d be incredibly romantic if we spent a weekend camping.”

“And you’re not enjoying it?”

“Do I look like I’m happy?”

Vince gestured down to his soaking wet body, his tight clothes clinging to him even tighter, bite marks and scratches torn into the fabric from where Lionel had grabbed hold of him and mud smeared all over his face, hands and any other exposed skin.

“I suppose not…”

“I look awful. I’ve never looked awful! I have never in all my life looked so unbelievably, incredibly, amazingly…”

“Awful, yes. I am most sorry for being somewhat responsible for your present appearance. However I have news of much importance. You must listen carefully.”

“What is it?”

“This campsite is under an evil curse. Both yourself and Howard are in danger.”

“What’s this curse, then?”

“I cannot tell you. Please, you must get out of here, now! Before it’s too late!”

Lionel dove into the river and swum away.

“What the hell happened to you?” Howard eyed Vince’s worse-for-wear appearance. He recalled Vince’s earlier threat to dive into the river and drown himself. “You didn’t…”

“I fell. I don’t want to talk about, all right? Can’t we get a fire going? I’m freezing!”

“What? Oh yeah, chuck us me bag will you?”

Howard ducked as a carefully aimed backpack sailed past his head.

“Yeah, thanks!”

“Have you been going through my bag?”

“What for? Tweed flannels?”

“Ha ha. I packed matches in here this morning and I can’t find them.”

“What? No way! Look again!”

“They’re not in here!”

“You better come up with something, all right, before I die from a cold!”

“From the cold, Vince, not a cold. You can’t die from a cold! Unless maybe you were deathly allergic to tissues…”

“Whatever! Can you make a fire or not?”

“Yeah, of course I can make a fire! You better take those clothes off.”

“What? You can’t seriously think I’d want to…”

“They’re soaking wet, Vince. You can’t walk around with wet clothes.”

“I can’t walk around with shit on my face either. Pass me your handkerchief.”

“I’ll do it.”

“Get away from me! I can do it meself.”

Vince reached into his inside pocket and cursed when he felt something slice his finger. He withdrew his hand and sucked at the deep gash that wouldn’t stop bleeding.

“Bloody mirror broke. Where’s the first aid kit?”

“In the van.”

“In the…I’m glad I came with you on this camping trip. I don’t spend nearly enough time getting wet, cold, injured and muddy.”

Howard watched Vince storm away once more feeling utterly wretched. So far the trip had not turned out as planned, and he had managed to inflict most of Vince’s worst nightmares upon him. So worried about Vince was Howard that he forgot to mope at the lack of amazement over erecting the tent successfully.

He found some flint and some sticks and tried desperately to remember how fire was made. He was resolved to making sure that Vince was warm. They would camp here for the night and in the morning he would take him home and think of a way to make it up to him.

Vince finished cleaning his wound and wrapped a plaster around it. To him, this was just the cherry on top of the muffin. This trip couldn’t possible be any more of a nightmare than it already was. The hoot of an owl made him aware that it had grown dark. Beyond the car park in the middle of the campsite he could see the light of a fire. At last, things were looking up.

“Get undressed.”

“I’m fine, thanks for asking.” Vince held up his bandaged finger, which coincidentally happened to be his middle one.

“I’m glad. Get undressed.”

“Get stuffed!”

“Vince!” Howard looked up from the fire, his face cold and stern. His eyes were puffy from crying, and the light from the fire glinted on the remaining moisture. His voice was thick and heavy. “Get undressed or I will do it!”


Vince began to peel off his clothes, which Howard gathered and cradled them as if they were precious. Once Vince had stripped down to his briefs Howard placed the clothes into a carrier bag, and draped a towel around Vince’s shoulders. Against his will, Vince found himself murmuring contentedly as he wrapped the towel tighter.

“That good?”


“I made a shelf above the fire to warm the towel on.”

“Where’d you learn that?”

“My dad taught me. As it happens I used to fall into rivers a lot when I was younger.”

“Why can I believe that?”

Howard smiled at the dig and motioned for Vince to sit down next to the fire. He took off Vince’s soaked socks and then rolled on thick, toastie socks.

“I…I wasn’t sure what you wanted to wear. Your bag’s in the tent though, so you can get dressed, you know, when you want.”

“I’m alright at the mo.”

“Good.” Howard smiled awkwardly at Vince’s feet. “Oh!” He scrambled up and disappeared into the tent. He reappeared two minutes later, carrying two tin foil packages. He tossed one at Vince. “Thought you might be hungry.”

“Starving. Is this it?”

“Well, according to my itinerary I was going to cook sausages tonight, but I got a bit preoccupied with keeping you warm. Sorry about that.” Howard unwrapped his sandwiches and took a bite.

“Oh right. Thanks. So what’s in my sandwich then?”

“You haven’t got sandwiches.” Howard mumbled whilst chewing.

“What?” Vince unwrapped the package, his eyes lighting up. “Haribo Fantasy Mix!”

“Your favourite.”

“Thanks Howard. You’re the best.”

Howard nearly choked as he swallowed.

“No, I’m not.”

Vince stopped chewing and just looked at Howard.

“I know you didn’t want to come here, you wanted to go abroad. I should have asked you first. I’m sorry Vince. It hasn’t exactly been the best anniversary has it?”

“Not really, no.”

Howard sighed and dropped his sandwich down on the ground. His appetite gone.

“I loved it here, Vince. Loved it. Every year I’d beg my parents to bring me here. They never wanted to come back here, but they made a compromise for me. We’d only go every other year. On the years that we weren’t coming here, even though I knew I’d be here the following year, I’d run away from home.”

“What? You ran away to a campsite?”

“It’s more than that! This is…I can’t explain it…It’s like…It’s like this place, this wood, this whole little area, it’s like this is my real home.”

“Well, that makes sense.”

“What you talking about?”

“Well, just after I fell in the river, I met Lionel, and he told me-”


“You remember Lionel!”

“No, I don’t.”

“That otter I brought home that one time.”

“Oh right, yeah. He liked Cliff Richard.”

“That’s right. Well he saved me from drowning, well actually it was his fault I was in there in the first place, but he apologised for that. Anyway, he told me that the campsite is cursed.”

“You know, I honestly can’t believe you sometimes.”

“What are you on about?”

“You know, I thought this would be a nice trip. To get away from everyone and to spend a few days with each other, on our anniversary. You never even gave it a chance, you know, you just behaved like a spoilt brat, as always, who can’t get his own way. Well, I’m sorry you haven’t enjoyed it Vince, but frankly making up a story about an Otter and a curse, is just beyond pathetic.”

“You think I’m lying to you?”

“Yeah, I do. We always do things your way, Vince. We go to the places you want to go, we take the gigs you want to play, it’s all you, you, you! And I just go along with it, you know? Because I’m your boyfriend, and I love you, so I just swallow my pride and go along with it. Well, I’ve had enough! I’m not like you, Vince, and I just feel like you’re trying to change me and mould me into this perfect man.”

“I’m not changing you!”

“Oh really? So if I asked you if you wanted to come along camping this weekend, you’d have said yes, would you?”

“I might have!”

“If you expect me to believe that then you must really think I’m an idiot!” Howard stood up and disappeared into the tent.

“Howard? Howard, don’t be like that!”

Vince suitcase was chucked out of the tent, the zip fastening behind it. Vince scowled and pulled his suitcase nearer, picking out his favourite t-shirt-and-trousers pyjama combo. Resting underneath was a thermos filled with freshly prepared tea. He smiled despite himself; sometimes Howard could be really considerate.

He changed into his pyjamas, his mood already improved due to being warmed by the fire, and having a bellyful of Haribo. He zipped up his suitcase and carried it along with the thermos over to the tent. He unzipped the tent and stooped to enter.

The tent wasn’t exceptionally large, but larger than your normal two-person tent. Inside there was enough room for about four people if they lay side by side, wall to wall. Howard was laid at the far end, covered by a flimsy blanket. Nearer to the door, the warmer sleeping bag lay on the ground, empty.

“What are you doing?”

Howard looked towards Vince, opening one eye. “Trying to get some sleep, you know? We’ve got an early start tomorrow.”

“Really? What for? Fishing down at the river? Or a cross-country ramble for the woods? Or are we going to track a wild boar’s movement through the fields?”

Howard’s other eye opened as he directed the full force of his glare upon Vince. “No. We’re going home.”


“Are you going to come in, or let the cold air in?”

Vince stepped further into the tent and closed the zip behind him. “We’re going home?”

“Yeah. Thought you’d be happy about that.”

“Why haven’t you got the sleeping bag?”

“That’s for you. Keep you warm.”

“What about you?”

“Don’t worry about me, Vince. I’m fine.”

“Are you.”


“You’re shivering.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Whatever. Here, I brought you some tea.”

“…I made that, yeah? For you. I brought you some tea.”

“Well, I’ll have some as well!”

Vince unscrewed the cup from the thermos and poured out some tea. He walked over to where Howard lay and handed him the cup.


Vince sipped from the thermos, and sighed.

“Look, Howard. I know I’ve been a bit of a brat about this trip, but I’m actually coming around to the idea now.”

“Are you?”

“Yeah. I mean, I’ve had a terrible time, my hair’s still got mud in it and I look awful, but I understand that that’s not your fault.”

“I know that.”

“I mean some of it’s your fault. Making me get the water, losing the match box, forgetting to pick up the first aid box…”

“Wind it up little man, I’m sorry about all that.”

“It’s ok, because you’ve helped. I mean this tent, is incredible. And the fire you made? Genius. You even made me tea, and you brought my favourite food. You’ve gone out of your way to make this trip work for me, and I love that about you. No matter how much of a spanner you are…”

“Thanks, Vince. Really…”

“No matter how much you get things wrong, behind it you’re trying to do the right thing.”

“You still want to go home, don’t you?”

“Oh yeah!”

“Right.” Howard put his empty cup down and laid back against his pillow, and closed his eyes, dejected.


Howard opened one eye again. “What?”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy tonight though, does it?”

“What did you have in mind?”

Vince grinned and crawled under the blanket with Howard, wrapping his arms around his neck and pulling him in for a long, gentle kiss. “Happy anniversary, Howard.” He said, when he finally broke away.

“Happy anniversary, Vince.” Vince leant in for another kiss but Howard pulled away.

“What’s wrong?”

“Get the bloody duvet, will you? Before I freeze to death.”

“Who needs a duvet when you’ve got me?”