In the Band

Written for accio_arse from the prompt: ‘From back in the days when Howard used to play jazz in a band - with Rudi and Mrs Gideon. Howard's about to get kicked off the band for being crap, and he'll do anything to stay. Mrs Gideon never remembers who he even is, so Howard tries to put a move on Rudi so that he'll keep him in.’


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Length: words

In the Band by Culumacilinte

Howard was, quite frankly, astounded. Here he was- Howard T.J. Moon, easily the greatest jazz player Yorkshire had ever seen, a legend in his own right- and he was on the verge of getting booted out of his own band. It was pathetic. He, he constantly reminded himself, was the one who’d come up here to play jazz in the first place, he was the one who’d started the bloody band! And it had been fantastic; he and Mrs. Gideon had been the king and queen of the Blue Aubergine. Together they had enraptured crowds, spun many-layered bebop duets- they were the toast of the town.

And then had come Rudi. Rudi bloody Van Di-bloody-Sarnio, with his ridiculous Afro and his pompous, pretentious dress, and his door. Who had a door in their head, anyway? Howard had scoffed at Rudi when he had said, in that slow, measured way of his that he had gained the door because he was wise, that it allowed him to see beyond.

Humph. And humph a-bloody-gain. Howard was wise! Howard was a guru; people climbed mountains to see Howard and get his advice on life. Or they would have, if Howard had lived on top of a mountain. The point was- Howard didn’t need a door to be wise, he didn’t need to put on airs and affectations. He was Howard Moon, and there was a simple truth to him that people appreciated.

Except, apparently, Mrs. Gideon. For the instant Rudi had come swanning into their lives with his idiotic, affected ‘rustic wisdom’ and his jazz fusion guitar, she had attached herself to him like a particularly clingy limpet and hadn’t looked at Howard since. She couldn’t even remember his name anymore.

And Howard couldn’t lie; his music had suffered. But should it not have? Jazz, after all, was Howard’s heart and soul, and between Mrs. Gideon and Rudi, both heart and soul had been fairly thoroughly trampled upon.

He sighed, sitting at the empty bar, and ran a hand over the top of his trumpet case. The name label on it was now curling away at the corners, and unless you smoothed it out, it read Howard T.J. Moo.

Moo, Howard thought bitterly, That’s all I am. A great bloody useless cow.

He’d tried to plead his case with Mrs. Gideon, had begged her (in a dignified, gentlemanly fashion, of course) to let him stay in the band, to remember all the good times they’d had together, the music they’d made, but to no avail. Granted, he might have chosen a bad time to talk to her, as she had been practising scales at the time, taking calculated swigs of whiskey in between arpeggios to get the right ‘cigarettes and booze’ quality to her voice, and hadn’t even noticed Howard standing there. Once he’d finished his beautifully constructed monologue on why he was an integral part of the group, she’d merely looked up from the piano, blinked at him, and inquired politely

‘Excuse me, do I know you?’

He groaned at the memory. The only option left then, was Rudi. And Rudi had no particular fondness for Howard. Not that he ever acted spiteful or nasty towards him- he really didn’t act like much of anything towards him. Howard, to Rudi, was simply a part of the scenery. But, on reflection, that was worse than outright malice would have been. Howard bristled.

How on earth was he supposed to convince him that he was worthy to stay in the band? The situation seemed utterly hopeless, and Howard slumped at the bar, listlessly picking at a sticky spot on the counter with one fingernail.

Howard was not allowed to stew in his tortured self-pity for long though, for the faint sound of cloth rustling against cloth came from the back of the bar, and a voice echoed behind him.

‘What is this, Howard Moon? You look like a man sunk deep within the depths of despair. A man, I daresay, in sore need of advice. Perhaps I can be of assistance.’

The voice was deep and mysterious, and it lisped slightly on its s’s and t’s. Rudi. Speak of the devil. Stiffly, Howard lifted his head up off the bar and gave the other man a quick, obviously feigned smile.

‘Despair?’ He forced a chuckle. ‘No sir, not me! I was simply resting my head. Thinking deep thoughts, you know how it is.’

‘Ahh.’ Rudi nodded magisterially, and his afro wobbled precariously. He looked up at it in irritation and steadied it with a hand. That taken care of, he turned back to Howard. ‘Thought, yes.’ He intoned, ‘That force which sustains us all, yet which we so often take for granted.’

He stared impressively off into space for a moment, and Howard had to restrain the urge to slap him. Instead, mindful of the fact that he somehow had to ingratiate himself to this infuriating man, he nodded, raising his eyebrows in agreement.

‘Very true, sir.’ He said. When Rudi added nothing else, Howard cleared his throat and swivelled ’round on his barstool until he could casually prop an elbow up on the counter and face Rudi.

‘Say,’ he began, ever so casually, ‘I actually was looking for you earlier, Rudi. I, ah, had something I wanted to talk to you about.’

‘Oh?’ The other man looked intrigued, and Howard was about to elaborate when Rudi held up a quelling hand.

‘No! Do not tell me. I know all things!’

Howard eyed him dubiously. Know all things, my arse, he thought, but once again, he kept his thoughts to himself. Rudi’s face was screwed up in thought, and after a long moment, he snapped his fingers.

‘Aha! I know what it is you seek, Howard Moon- you wish to know the secrets of eternal life, for I have seen that as you age, you will only grow more and more hideous-‘

‘Oi!’ Howard interrupted him irritably. ‘There’s no need for that. And that wasn’t what I wanted to know.’

Rudi looked terribly disappointed. ‘Oh.’

‘What I wanted to talk about,’ Howard continued, picking up a bit of steam now, ‘was the band. What’s this about you and Mrs. Gideon chucking me, mmm? You’ve got talent, sir, I won’t deny it, but to come up and usurp my place- I, who founded the band in the first place on nothing more than a dream, sir- and a burning passion for jazz- that is bad form. Decidedly bad form.’

He halted and drew a breath, forcing himself to calm down somewhat. He was supposed to be ingratiating himself with Rudi, not picking a fight with the man. Howard cleared his throat and flashed a tiny, apologetic smile. ‘What I mean to say,’ he said, ‘Is that I would very much appreciate it, Rudi, if you and Mrs. Gideon would reconsider. There is no band without Howard Moon, sir, and you will learn that quickly if you get rid of me.’

‘Hmm.’ Rudi stroked his chin pensively, tapping a fingernail against his sizeable front teeth. ‘Perhaps,’ he said eventually, ‘Perhaps I will talk to the lady. And I myself would certainly be willing to listen to any arguments you might have.’

Oh, thank you! Howard was about to say- only in a way which seemed a little less desperate- but one long brown finger snapped up to silence him, and Rudi fixed tiny, intense eyes on him.

‘If,’ he continued simply, ‘you kiss my balls.’

Howard gaped. He knew what this was; this was one of those goddamn bloody tests that Rudi was so fond of- the flute test, or the pancake test, or sellotape test, or the Finnish Language Efficiency Test, or whatever. Howard knew the drill; he knew how these went, and he was just about to give the expected response, to say that there was no way he was going to kiss Rudi Van DiSarnio’s balls, when a novel thought struck him with all the force of a weighted cricket bat.

What would Rudi do if he said yes? The man would be completely unprepared for the sheer, raw sexual power that was Howard Moon. That in itself might be enough to convince him to keep Howard in the band. And Howard… well, it was shameful. Yes, it was very shameful, but he would be getting one up on Rudi by doing this! And it wasn’t as if he was whoring himself out, anyway; it was his own decision. This in mind, he looked Rudi straight in the eyes and said:

‘Very well, sir.’

And just as he’d predicted, Rudi’s eyes went momentarily wide, and he began to stutter wildly.

‘I did not mean- that is- Rudi Van DiSarnio is a man above the pleasures of the flesh! I am of the order of the psychedelic monks, I do not-’

Howard smirked at him, now feeling much more sure of himself- he had never kissed a man’s balls, but it was a decidedly satisfying feeling, having this much power over another person- and slid off his stool to the ground before Rudi. The other man fell suddenly and conspicuously silent, and Howard heard an intake of breath above him. He focussed on the drape of Rudi’s robe before him, and lifted the hem, stroking fingers over the fabric. It was deceptively light, and almost slick against the pads his fingers, like silk. He raised an eyebrow up at Rudi.

‘Nice dress.’

‘It is not a dress!’ Rudi snapped, ‘It is the sacred robe of the psychedelic monks.’ The retort lacked its usual vigour, however. Indeed, it sounded decidedly strained, and looking up, Howard saw that Rudi was biting his lip and the handle on his door was rattling, as though it had been locked, and someone was trying desperately to get out.

And with that, he threw the hem of the robe over his head and ducked underneath. It suddenly felt curiously as though he’d entered another room entirely, centred-bizarrely- around a pair of chocolate-coloured legs; everything was dark and vaguely purple, and the air smelt of sweat and musk and man. Howard wrinkled his nose. The only problem, though, was that Howard couldn’t really see much, and he didn’t fancy having a go at another bloke’s bits when he couldn’t see them, so he ran a hand up one of Rudi’s legs until he simply ran into what he sought. The thigh muscle gave a great twitch beneath his hand.

And then there- yes indeed, Rudi’s bollocks, and above, the quickly hardening shape of his prick. Hesitantly at first, Howard ran a finger over the shape of them, then stroked with all his fingertips, before cupping the sac, weighing it in his hand. Dark and heavy, fuzzed over with wiry black hair, Howard found that they were not at all unpleasant to the touch; rather, they were warm and soft, and he gave a light squeeze. Above him, he heard Rudi choke out a curse. Trying not to inhale any more of the smell of Rudi’s sweat than he could help, Howard leant up and pressed a soft, close-lipped kiss to the warm, roused skin of them.

There, he thought, I’ve kissed your balls.

But he had the notion that now he’d started the thing, he might as well finish it properly. After all, if Howard Moon was to be a filthy ball-fondler, he was damn well going to be a good one.

He pressed his mouth to Rudi’s bollocks again, but this time he opened his lips and flicked his tongue out, drawing it up and over the heated flesh, drawing a patch of skin between his lips and sucking at it until Rudi was cursing in languages Howard had never even heard of. Again Howard did it, and again, his hands braced on Rudi’s thighs, which shuddered and quaked with the effort of keeping him upright. It was pleasurable in a strangely absorbing way, dragging his tongue over soft skin, sucking and licking everywhere he could reach. Even more enjoyable were the noises Rudi made, the quiver of his body under Howard’s ministrations.

Closer and closer he took him until:

‘Howard!’ Rudi gasped, ‘Remove yourself from under my robe, I’m- fuck- I’m almost-’

And hastily Howard did remove himself, for though he had, not moments before, literally been licking Rudi’s balls, he had no desire to get any of his bodily fluids on him. He straightened awkwardly to see Rudi palming himself desperately through the gorgeous silk of his robe, biting hard at his lip, little grunts escaping from the back of his throat. Howard’s mouth went dry watching him, and a little whimper tripped across his lips.

Suddenly, the door in Rudi’s head flew open and a rapturous cry tore itself from his throat; he surged up onto the balls of his feet and his whole body went rigid for a moment, save for the movement of his hips against his own hand. His face was twisted in ecstasy for one moment, two, three, before he sagged, collapsing against a table, breathing heavily.

‘Howard,’ he murmured, beckoning with a quick curl of two fingers, and Howard- suddenly awkward once again- shuffled over. Rudi let out another grunt, and Howard started when he saw a hand- identical to Rudi’s own- making its way out of the door in his head. It clutched a piece of paper, which Howard took nervously. Rudi smiled a lazy, sated sort of smile at him, and nodded at the paper.

‘Read of the wisdom of the door, Howard Moon.’

The paper crinkled loudly as Howard unfolded it, and once open, large, black-printed words stared back at him: You’re still not in the band. Sorry.

For a moment, Howard didn’t fully process what the paper said, his mind still fogged with what he’d just been doing, what he’d just seen. After that moment passed, however, and the message hit him, he looked at Rudi with renewed loathing.

‘You bastard.’ He said, and punched Rudi full in the face.

All things considered, it’s not really a wonder Howard didn’t play jazz after that.