Emerald Nightmare

Howard seeks revenge when Vince is attacked by the Hitcher


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Length: words

Emerald Nightmare by elfin

“Listen to me, Boy. You tell anyone about this and I’ll visit them too—you got that? I’m pure evil, you understand me? I carry out my threats, I don’t just make ‘em. Got me, boy? Yeah, you got me, lying like a rag doll with y’r stuffin’ all pulled out. I know where you live, boy. You and that bunch of redundant misfits. The jazz queen, the short weird git and the hairy one. What’s with the monkey anyway, boy? You all get into some animal love do you? The three of you banging away all night at that soft hairy body? And I’m not talkin’ about that twat Naboo’s familiar either. Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Crack meself up sometimes, boy. Seriously, does he take it or do you? You take it well, boy.

“Right, I’d best be off. Remember what I said, boy. I’ll be watchin’.”

Howard Moon is whistling some vaguely well-known jazz tune as he takes out his keys. Looking up, he’s only slightly surprised to see the door of the shop wide open—Vince is a useless tit sometimes. Most of the time, in fact. Stepping inside he closes the door louder than he needs to, in the hope that he’ll disturb Vince in whatever he’s doing that’s apparently more important than securing the shop.

After locking up properly he heads for the stairs and stops.

There’s a ball of hair curled up in the corner, next to the piano, and it’s the wrong colour to be Bollo. That Vince’s fake fur is the perfect match for his hair—raven black shot through with burgundy—doesn’t surprise Howard. But to see him backed into the corner, between the window and the piano stool, is a shock—head tucked down, knees pulled up, shoulders moving with silent emotion…. It really, really is.

Never before—not once—not ever, has Howard seen Vince in any other mood but a happy one. Except for the time with the bastard copycats and even then, even when he’s been seething with anger, the happiness is still there, just below the surface, reachable with a simple quip or crimp.

It’s not there now, Howard knows just by looking at him. He isn’t laughing. Instinctively, despite there being no sound, despite never having been witness to it before, Howard knows that Vince is broken somehow. This is him crying. And it’s one of the most unsettling sights that he’s ever beheld.

At first his lack of experience is a handicap and he stands there staring, hesitating; uncertain as a virgin in this brand new situation of what the best course of action is. There’s a strange tumbling feeling in his stomach and an unfamiliar ache around his lungs and eventually the odd pains make him crouch down. After a beat he tentatively rests his hands on long-haired arms.


The perfectly coiffured head instantly snaps up and Howard only has a moment to take in the reddened, tear-filled eyes and the out-of-place hair crookedly framing the pale face before thickly furred arms are winding themselves around his neck and Vince is attempting to climb into his lap. The surprise extra weight unbalances his precarious crouch and he almost tips backwards, just in time dropping his knees forward to the hard floor and grabbing Vince as he does. His arms wrap around the wide fur coat and it’s too little, too impersonal as Vince is winding around him like a cobra, wet face pressing into his neck, trembling like a traffic jam. Howard puts his arms under the coat, feeling the warm, smooth Lyrca of Vince’s mirror ball suit against his bare forearms, under his hands as they spread over Vince’s flat back, pausing suddenly.

There’s a rip in the suit, over Vince’s spine, wide and jagged. Without thinking, Howard follows the split down, tracing it the length and curve of his bumpy spine, against the small of his back, down to the top of his ass crack… his fingers slip and falter, and he feels fresh tears on his neck as he mutters, “God, I’m sorry… sorry….”

It takes long moments for the situation to fully dawn on him and when it does he wraps one arm tighter around Vince and brings the other up to cradle the head of silky, messy hair, murmuring nothings until the silent weeping stops.

Then he pulls back just a half-inch and asks, “Who did this?” His voice is low, dangerously calm. He feels like he’s suddenly rushed up to some strange edge and is teetering on it.

“Howard….” His name’s barely a whisper and he understands—in a rare moment of empathy—that Vince is pleading for him not to want to know. “Leave it.”

He shakes his head decisively. “No. I’m going to kill whoever did this to you, Vince.” No fooling, no indecision. This was Vince and Vince was his. Someone had hurt him. This time there would be no mercy. Howard Moon would not be stopped in his quest for revenge.

Vince says something Howard doesn’t catch and he strokes his hand flat over the black satin head. “Say that again, Sweetheart.” The endearment slips out this one time, it makes Howard feel like he’s saving the damsel in distress.

And this time he hears what Vince says. “That hitchhiker… the cockney.”

Red-hot fury rises inside him. “That mono-sighted, white-haired, green-skinned, evil-incarnate, sadistic maniac. He’s a dead man. A dead demon. Dead monster. Whatever the fuck he is, he’s dead. I swear it, Vince. I’ll kill him with my own bare hands.”

Long narrow fingers like twigs on branches snag in his shirt and he’s held fast with surprising strength. “No!” Vince’s head lifts. “No, you can’t, Howard. He’ll rape you too, he said he would. He said if I told… I shouldn’t have told. Forget it, please, just forget it.”

“I’m not going to forget it, Vince. And that evil green sodomite won’t hurt me, I can promise you that.” He feels like a giant, like he can be a hero all of a sudden, a hero for Vince, and it’s filling him with a confidence he’s never felt his whole life. He isn’t being much of anything else though. “Come on, Little Man, let’s get you upstairs.” Vince nods uncertainly, glancing up at the door as if expecting someone—or something—to burst through it. “It’ll be all right, Vince. Nothing’s going to get in. You get changed and I’ll make a pot of tea, yeah?”

Another nod, and Howard eases them both up off the floor, arm at Vince’s waist.

Upstairs he boils the kettle and listens to the shower running, timing it with the clock on the oven that’s never right and always gets reset whenever Vince tries to cook and mistakes it for the timer. That’s why everything Vince attempts to cook burns unless Howard or Naboo step in. He worries that he’ll be hearing the shower run for longer than usual—and where Vince is concerned that is a long, long time—excessive cleanliness and at least three shampoos of his hair before the wait for the conditioner to take effect always uses up all the hot water in the tank.

Thirty-five minutes later his worries solidify and he goes nervously to the bathroom, opening the door slightly, glad for once that the lock was broken months back in one of Vince’s more desperate post-gig pisses, breaking in to go to the toilet when Naboo was in the shower.


Peering through the gap he’s opened up, what he sees makes his stomach clench. Vince is still wearing his clothes, even the heavy black fur coat, even though he’s in the shower, squatted into the flat, square basin, the water—cold by now—hitting him like a singularly freak rainstorm. Howard rushes over, reaches in, turns off the sluice and crouches again in front of his friend, again taking his now wet, fur-covered arms in a gentle grip.

“Vince, don’t do this. There’s no need to do this, little man.”

Tear-filled blue eyes lift to meet his own. “He got green all over me.” Howard’s heart threatens to break. “I’m bleeding from my bum hole.” He doesn’t know what to do with that. “And I pissed myself.”

Or that.

So he says, “It’s okay, Vince. Let’s get these clothes off you, yeah?” He isn’t sure if Vince will let him remove the coat, but he does. But peeling the torn mirror ball jump suit from the scrawny, clinging form is another matter entirely and when Vince is naked in his arms, Howard is paranoid about where he’s putting his hands, pulling right then left arm from his own green cardigan to drape it around Vince’s bony, trembling shoulders. He wonders if he should check Vince’s injuries but isn’t sure how to go about asking. And what happens if Vince says yes? He has no idea what to do and another first time in a long, long time—he’s actually scared.

But he’s determined not to let Vince see it. The water’s already soaked him despite the clothing.

Howard can see blood on the jump suit pooled on the tiled floor but there isn’t any in the shower basin. And Vince may have pissed himself but he can’t smell urine. All he can smell is wet hair product.

“You’re not dirty any longer,” he murmurs, “you’re clean now. Why don’t you get dressed and I’ll make the tea?”

Vince nods, and lets Howard pull him to his feet. He isn’t sure if he should follow him into the bedroom so he asks, and Vince mutters that he’ll manage and closes the door not exactly in Howard’s face, but he makes the point clear enough.

Howard makes the tea properly, in the pot rather than just dropping the teabags into a couple of mugs. It takes time to make tea properly, but not as much time as it usually takes Vince to get dressed and do his hair. When he looks up and sees Vince standing in the centre of the room looking completely lost and unsure of himself it’s a strangely jarring sight. His hair is a mess and he’s in the loosest clothing Howard can remember seeing him wearing; a white top that looks like he’s pulled on a boarder collie, and grey jeans that don’t quite hug his skinny ass in the same way all of his other pants do.

Howard wonders if the top feels as soft to wear as it looks like it would feel to stroke and immediately dismisses the idea from his head like he’s dismissed so many other, similar ideas about so many other items in Vince’s wardrobe.

“Sit down, Vince.” Stepping around the sofa he waits for his friend to sit in one corner and pull his knees up to his chin before handing him one of the two mugs and sitting down an appropriate distance from him. And that’s where they sit in an uncomfortable silence for a time, blowing across the surface of the hot tea. Slowly the tea cools and they start sipping it, almost in unison. It cools further and they’re drinking it, hands wrapped around the mugs like a pair of the ‘speak no evil’ monkeys. Drink no evil.

At some point Howard takes up the remote control and switches on the television, finding some late-night American cartoon, muting the sound. Sometime later, Vince’s head drops against Howard’s shoulder and he doesn’t move again, breath evening out. Later still, Howard takes Vince’s empty cup from his limp hands and slides an arm around his shoulders, finding that the soft sweater is just as strokeable as a boarder collie puppy.

And a lot later on, Naboo and Bollo get home from the meeting of the Shaman council. (Or at least that’s where they said they were going earlier and Howard isn’t in the mood to ask.) Bollo’s monkeyed, and Naboo looks like he’s had a puff or two too many, until he sees Vince. It’s probably the untamed hair that does it, that tells him something’s wrong. That or the grey trousers. He’s probably never seen the grey trousers before. Howard’s only seen them once before, ten years ago.

“What happened?” he asks quietly, going from stoned to straight, drunk to sober, in less time than it takes Howard to blink.

Howard looks up at him steadily. “Naboo, can you tell me how to kill The Hitcher?”

They tucked Vince into Howard’s bed an hour ago, disturbing him as they moved him but watching him settle himself as soon as they lowered his dark, messy head to the pillow. Howard stayed with him for a while, making sure he fell into a deep sleep, combing fingers through the black hair in a way he hoped was familiar and relaxing and comforting and in no way gay.

Finally he got up from his knees off the floor and went into Naboo’s bedroom without knocking, knowing with absolute certainty that the Shaman would be waiting for him.

Another hour and the sun will be coming up.

“Tell me.”

“He’s pure evil,”

“I know. Tell me something useful.”

“There’s only one way to kill him, Howard.”

He hisses, “Tell me.”

“What happened to Vince could happen to you too. You’re no use to him if you splinter as well.”

“He’s darkened my sunshine, Naboo, he hurt my Vincey. I’m going to kill him for what he’s done.”

Naboo sits for what feels like an age without moving, like he’s considering the greatest question known to man. But eventually he stands up, goes to a cupboard next to his bed and opens it up, reaching inside for something Howard can’t see but can imagine—a bottle of a poison, or a knife, or a dart…. Naboo pulls out a Chubba Chubs lollypop in a red and pink wrapper. Something inside him snaps and he bursts up onto his feet.

“Fuck, Naboo! This is Vince we’re talking about! You didn’t see him when I got here, didn’t see the state he was in. You’re not taking me seriously!”

“I am taking you seriously, Howard. You asked how to kill the Hitcher. This is how. A Chubba Chubs lollypop right in his solo polo eye will kill him. But it has to be Strawberries and Cream flavour.”

Howard stumbles. “You’re not serious.”

“I swear.” He hands the small round pink lollypop on the short white stick to Howard, placing it gingerly between his thumb and index finger. “Be careful, Howard. He’s a green man-witch, not to be messed with.”

Howard stares at the Chubba Chub. “Do I… take the wrapper off?”

Naboo makes a sound like a bird in pain and rolls his eyes. “Of course you take the wrapper off! Else you’d just get plastic in his eye.”

“Right.” He stands up, looks from the lolly to the shaman. “If you’re taking the piss….”

“I’m not taking the piss, Howard. I’m doing this for Vince. Just be careful.”

He nods. “I will be.”

“I’m not worried for your sake, I’m worried for Vince’s. If anything happened to you, he would wither up and die.”

Howard can’t make up his mind what to feel—aggravation and irritation at Naboo’s blatant dismissal of his existence in any other terms than Vince’s, or simply awe at the idea that Naboo thinks Vince would be nothing without him. He decides on the latter and lets the pride and loyalty fill him. Holding the pink sweet up like a staff, he heads out of Naboo’s bedroom ready to do battle with his Evilness.

And hears Vince scream.

Naboo and Bollo are behind him as he rushes into the bedroom, stopping in his tracks at the sight that meets his eyes so that a big hairy gorilla slams into the back of him, knocking him forward.

Vince is on the bed, still fully clothed because they didn’t undress him when they tucked him in, legs and feet twisted in the sheets. Above him, turquoise eyes in a green-skinned face spring up to meet Howard’s from close to Vince, almost mouth-to-mouth. He catches the glint of light off the wicked blade held against Vince’s throat, from the shaded bulb swathed in yellow material.

“Get away from him, you bastard!”

He advances, and hears Naboo’s fierce whisper, “The wrapper!”

His non-existent fingernails, bitten down to the quick, fumble with the glued-on plastic wrapper as the mono-sighted hitchhiker laughs in his cockney accent and presses the blade into Vince’s pale skin, drawing a fine line of blood. Big, wide blue eyes are begging him to help, Vince’s head turned away from the blade but his gaze locked sideways with Howard’s. Desperately he puts the globe of the lolly into his mouth and catches the edge of the wrapper on one eye-tooth, tearing enough plastic away to be able to pull it all up. He tosses it to the floor, holds the lolly in front of him like a weapon, ignoring the sceptical, scared expression on Vince’s face, and takes several steps towards the emerald manic.

“What’s that you’ve got there, squire?” The Hitcher leans towards him, the razor-sharp steel coming away from Vince’s skin. He sees what it is and smiles, confusion obvious. “No, thank you, squire, if it’s all the same to you. I ate before I got ‘ere.”

“It’s not for you to eat, you jade pervert.” Howard lifts it, points it straight at the enlarged polo eye. “It’s for you to die with!”

With more force than he realises he possesses, he thrusts the Chubba Chub forward, hearing the sickening scrape through the chalky white hole, making his stomach turn. But he keeps pressing, keeps pushing. The hitcher’s gone from, “‘What is it exactly you think you’re doing, squire?” through, “You pale pink bugger! Get that lollypop out o’ my eye!” to “No! No! Not the strawberry milkshake flavour! Oh, that hurts, squire, it hurts! That’s melting my brain, you pink bitch.”

The knife drops from Vince’s throat, drops from the green hand, falls from the bed to the stained, threadbare carpet. Vince ducks out, slips and ends up on his knees, crawls over to Naboo and Bollo to be swept up in a strong, hairy embrace and held safe with his arms curled around the gorilla’s trunk of a neck, head turned toward his hero.

There’s green slime now, spurting from the gaps between the polo eye and the painted face. The Hitcher’s making this awful sound, like something dead dying all over again, and Howard’s determinedly holding the strawberry milkshake lolly in place as the oily body shakes around it, screeching, screaming. Fighting.

Green nails are scraping the skin from Howard’s hands and wrists, scratching his arms. Green smears and red welts of blood mix on Howard’s skin but he stands firm, face set into a grimace, hatred in his eyes even as the creature drops to his knees, grip loosening, sounds quieting.

“Die, you evil green fucker!” Howard thrusts the Chubba Chub hard, deep into the eye socket and the Hitcher releases his wrists, the sounds stop and the white haired head hits the floor. He goes still, the white lollypop stick sticking out of the white hole, staring up at the ceiling like some tiny kaleidoscope. Howard staggers back two steps and immediately Vince is out of Bollo’s hug to throw himself around the man who’s saved his life.

Howard doesn’t hesitate in scooping Vince up in his shaking arms, holding him as close and as tight as he’s able, blood and green slime spoiling the soft, white fur.

“Thank you, Howard,” the words are whispers in his ear but he can’t find spare breath to respond. Instead he holds Vince tighter, breathes in his hair products. “You saved my life.” Narrow arms circle Howard and they stand together for a long, long time. When they finally part, Naboo and Bollo have vanished from the doorway and they’re alone.

“Morning sunshine,” Howard whispers softly to the large blue eyes staring at him when he opens his own. They’ve slept together, fully clothed, exhausted from the night’s events. It’ll take time for Vince to recover from his ordeal, but time is something Howard has lot of.

“Evening Moon?” Vince grins and although it isn’t really a joke and doesn’t really mean anything, Howard chuckles, smoothes the wayward raven hair with his palm and eases Vince’s head back to the pillow of his chest, tucking him under his chin like a puppy, wrapping him in an embrace of safety. He feels for once like a mountain of a man, Vince’s rock, and wishes it could last forever.

The next time he opens his eyes, Vince is asleep again, wound tight around Howard. He lifts his head slightly to look down at their crumpled clothes; Vince’s Collie dog top is ruined, dried blood and green slime sticking the long white fur together in gruesome clumps. His own shirt looks like a nightmare from the studio of some progressive modern artist. He doesn’t want to let go of Vince long enough to change his clothes, but neither does he want to stay covered in the bodily fluids of the bastard who raped his best friend.

Carefully he untangles himself and starts to slide out of bed. Vince stirs, grumbles and reaches out to take the pillow into a hard embrace. Howard watches him fondly for a minute before turning around and opening the top drawer of the chest, stripping off his shirt and trousers, pulling out a pair of soft, light denim jeans he hasn’t worn for ages but thinks Vince might like, and a blue shirt that isn’t too creased and at least smells clean even if it doesn’t entirely look it.

When he turns back around, Vince is watching him again, wide eyes staring steadily from over the white hill of his battered-into-submission pillow.

“Hey, Little Man, are you okay?”

Wrapped in the sheets, Vince is black and blue on a canvas of white. “Last night, you saved my life.”

Pride swells inside him. “All in a day’s work.”

“You’re my hero, Howard.”

Any more and he feels like he might explode. Hesitantly he crosses to his bed and sits on the edge, that feeling of rock-likeness quickly dribbling away under that melting ice-blue gaze. He knows it’s coming before it happens but it doesn’t make it any less of a surprise when narrow, white-haired arms reach up around his neck and long fingers pull him down into an awkward, beautiful, first time kiss. Lips stay sealed, tongues remain behind the bars of teeth, but Howard’s moustache scratches Vince’s upper lip, Vince’s nose pokes at his cheekbone. A real kiss. And when the kiss doesn’t seem to be ending, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, Howard experimentally parts his lips. Vince’s tongue darts into his mouth, slides over his teeth, and suddenly it’s the greatest, best, most incredible thing in the world to kiss Vince so he responds too.

Howard slides down Vince’s side to lie the length of him. He’s careful that his hands don’t wonder too far—after the fucking hitchhiker, it’ll be some time before Vince is ready for the full body exploration Howard’s mind is quickly mapping out from some deep recesses in his psyche—but he cradles Vince, tripping up in his hurry to fall in love with him. Hasn’t he been in love all along?

Vince kisses like he does everything else—passionately throwing his whole self into the act—making Howard feel like he’s the only person left on the entire planet. He nibbles at Howard’s bottom lip, touches his tongue to the corners of Howard’s mouth, whispers words Howard can barely hear, and all of these things make him desperately hard, something he tries to disguise by shifting his so that it’s his hip pressing into Vince’s leg.

“It’s okay, Howard.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’d be insulted if kissing me didn’t get you hard.”

“I know….”

“It’s just….”

“… that mono-sighted bastard…”

“… I can’t….”

“… took you…”

“… not yet…”

“… from me….”

“… but I’m yours.”

Howard stares at the angelically angled face. “Mine?”

“Yours, Howard. Always have been, haven’t I? Since we started school together.”

“Except for that one week.”

“The week you spent looking for the ultimate flask.”

“The week I spent missing your eyes smiling at me.” Howard strokes his hand over the messy black hair.

“My poet.” Long fingers twist in Howard’s sticky-outy hair and he delights in it.

“I love you, Vince.”

This time, Vince doesn’t laugh.