Category: The Mighty Boosh
Characters: Howard Moon, Naboo, Vince Noir
Pairing: Howard Moon/Vince Noir
Challenge: Challenge 06: Boosh on Tour
Length: 5-10k words
Notes: It’s a monster this one-8,953…owwwch. This is my second ever boosh fic, not an rps this time, and it was based (vaugely) on a comment from the forums, in which someone mentioned a bunch of boosh fans being extra’s and…well,this image got in my head. Contains several allusions to the radio series.
Vince’s behaviour in tartpants wonderful valentines fic sort of inspired my Vince, but they’re different, i swear. Please dont think i’m stealing! This is the first ever fic ive written that has any form of a plot, so hopefully it makes sense. I’m not sure if I’ve really got their voices right…and some of the dialogue is probably a tad cliche so any suggestions for improvement in that aspect are warmly welcomed. This took me several hours and multiple cups of tea, so if you critisise, be nice! any constructive criticism is welcomed ^_^. cheers!
Lady Fame by prettythings
Vince dropped to his knees, clutching the microphone close to his lips as he howled the last lyric of the song. His free hand buried in his hair, his face contorted with effort and dripping with sweat, he closed his eyes and listened as the last sweet notes of Howard’s bass faded, giving way to tumultuous applause. Eyes still closed, Vince clambered to his feet and joined Howard in the centre of the stage, bowing and cheering his thanks into the microphone.
“Thank you!” he heard Howard cry triumphantly “Thank you so much! You know, they always told us we couldn’t make it, that the world wasn’t ready for the fusion of electro-pop and jazz, but with the support of wonderful fans such as yourselves, we have proved them wrong! And I, Howard Moon would personally like to thank…”
Howard’s regal speech was interrupted mid sentence by a throaty, rather impatient cough. Vince’s eyes snapped open and he peered through his dark curtain of hair at the interrupter, a plump, stern looking woman dressed in a dowdy matron’s uniform.
“Can you pack up now please!?” she inquired shrilly, “The bingo’s due to start in ten minutes!” and with this she strode off, casting them a sour look as she went. Vince turned to look out at the room, a plain and rather dully furnished recreation area with swollen, floral patterned wallpaper and a lumpy beige carpet. The residents of the care home were scattered haphazardly around the room, most drooling and dozing or mumbling agitatedly about ‘that ridiculous racket’. A couple were slowly applauding Vince and Howard’s efforts, though even they wore expressions of pity on their wrinkled faces. Vince grimaced and snatched up his synth angrily.
“Come on Howard,” he snarled, pushing past an old geezer in a wheelchair, who was softly muttering something about ‘squeaky the pin’.
“We don’t need pity from these old gimmers. They wouldn’t know style if it hit ‘em in the face!”
But it was no use, Howard’s good mood had been shattered and he remained gloomy and downtrodden all the way back to the flat, even more so when a group of teenagers stopped to ask for Vince’s autograph on the way home and he was left weighted down by his bass, the synthesiser and their drum machine.
“Maybe they were right.” He announced suddenly, slumping sullenly on the sofa and staring dejectedly at his feet. Vince was puzzled.
“Maybe who was right? Those teenagers in the street? Of course they were, my hair is genius!” Vince’s grin was instantly wiped off his face with a glower from Howard and he wondered how to cheer his friend up.
“Come on Howard, it was just one gig. The colonel and his mate seemed to really like us!” he exclaimed, sliding onto the couch next to Howard and folding his legs underneath himself.
“It’s not just one gig Vince!” Howard retorted “Everywhere we go people seem to hate us. Maybe the world just isn’t ready for electro-jazz-glam-funk,” he sighed so heavily that he startled Vince and muttered “Maybe we should just go back to the zooniverse.”
“Howard!” Vince was shocked; he had to snap Howard out of this. “Come on, I’ll make you a nice cup of tea and then we can work on some new songs that’ll blow the socks off those senior citizens!”
He bounded off the couch, giving Howard’s arm a quick reassuring squeeze, and into the kitchen. Vince wished he could make Howard feel better, and wondered for a moment what always cheered him up. Somehow he didn’t think cherry flavoured lip-gloss and Lee Stafford spray wax would make Howard perk up, but there was only one other thing that always cheered Vince up and that was Howard himself. Well, maybe a nice cuppa would do the trick, Vince thought, reaching for the teabags. But it seemed fate was against Vince, as there weren’t even any teabags for him to make Howard a brew.
“Erm…” Vince began, wandering back into the living room clutching the empty tea box. Howard was now severely hunched on the couch and muttering something about how no one appreciated his genius. Vince distinctly heard the words ‘jazz maverick’ and ‘man of action’ before he interrupted Howard’s ramblings.
“We’re out of teabags; I’m just going to pop out to Tesco’s. You start working on our breakaway pop hit whilst I’m gone, yeah?” He half-heartedly tried to grin.
“Alright,” Howard mumbled “Try not to acquire too many fans whilst you’re out.”
Vince sighed softly as he headed down the stairs.
“I appreciate you Howard.” He whispered to himself, stepping into the cool night air.
Vince loved shopping at night, ambling languidly down the deserted aisles of the local twenty four hour Tesco and admiring the colourful packaging and gleaming tins of the items that crowded the shelves. Sometimes, if he was really lucky, the floor would have been freshly polished and was shiny enough for him to see his reflection in. He hummed to himself as he examined the packets of tea bags, wondering which to purchase and flashed a grin at a mousey haired shelf-stocker who stared at him, unashamedly open mouthed, as she wandered past. He was stuck for choice between Darjeeling and Earl Grey when he heard a loud, very miserable sigh.
“Howard?” he called, distracted from his urgent tea-buying decision for a moment. If Howard had followed him this must mean he was feeling at least a little better! No reply was given, and another miserable sigh reached Vince’s ears, though this time it sounded more distant as if the sigher was moving away from him.
“Howard?” He called a little louder, wandering in the direction of the sound. Again, no reply, but the sighs were coming thick and fast, fast enough for Vince to trace the source of the distraught noise to the frozen food aisle.
“Hoooowaaaaard?” he sang out, turning the corner into the aisle. “Is that you…? Oh. Sorry! I thought you were my mate Howard, you sounded just like him when you sighed…” Vince trailed off, staring intently at the perpetrator of the sighs. It was most certainly not Howard, unless Howard had had an incredibly fast sex change and makeover, but a young woman who was staring dejectedly into the freezer and clutching a shopping basket. She was extremely pretty, in a very flashy way Vince thought, with masses of platinum curls, startlingly red lips and an almost painfully small waist. She appeared to be quite normal, aside from the fact that she was glowing faintly pink, and, in a sequined fishtail dress and matching gloves, was dressed rather inappropriately for shopping in Tesco’s. Vince could hardly criticise however, as he was still wearing his outfit from the gig, a charmingly flamboyant blue leopard print cat-suit, topped off with a silver cape, matching boots and a matching cowboy hat.
“Erm… are you alright?” he asked the glowing woman with concern, as she looked ready to throw herself into the freezer.
“Oh…well…yes…No, not really,” She replied glumly. Her voice had an odd shimmering quality to it, and looking at her was beginning to sting Vince’s eyes a little. “Hang on…you can see me?”
Vince grinned widely.
“Yeah! Wait…am I not supposed to be able to? I suppose you’re some sort of crazy shamanistic voodoo type, yeah? Don’t worry, I‘ve had a lot of experience dealing with your lot.” He nodded; the glowing woman appeared slightly taken aback.
“Well…sort of. I’m Lady Fame. Who are you?” she smiled despondently, and offered him her hand.
“I’m Vince Noir, rock and roll star,” he beamed, shaking her hand warmly “Hang on…so you don’t do your main shop at Marks and Spencer’s then?” he inquired eagerly. Lady Fame looked confused.
“No, of course not,” She told him “No one does.” Vince beamed, and was making a mental note to rub it in Howard’s face when he got back to the flat, when another deep sigh distracted him.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the matter? Just you seem a bit down…anything I can do?”
She sighed again and looked down at her feet, shuffling in a slightly embarrassed way.
“Well…it’s nothing really. It’s silly.”
“Aw, Come on! You can tell me, I’m good at cheering people up!” Vince exclaimed, pushing aside the fact that Howard was still wallowing in self pity back at the flat.
“It’s just…well. I’ve been single for a while now, and it’s getting me a bit down. It’s so hard to meet a nice, genuine man, you know? One who isn’t just looking for me to give him fame and fortune, someone who’s interested in me for who I am! I’m not just fame personified you know! I’m a person with real feelings and real needs…” she trailed off, and sighed once more, glancing into her basket. Vince noticed it was filled with meals-for-one, chardonnay and several saccharine chick flicks. He repressed a shudder.
So she was lonely! Vince knew just how to deal with depressed singletons. Since being dumped by his girlfriend (a wood nymph from Croydon named Michelle) the previous month Naboo had spent most of his time lying on the sofa watching Trisha, eating Supernoodles and occasionally weeping into his turban.
Vince smiled sympathetically, patted Lady Fame’s arm and said, in what he hoped was a soothing voice,
“There there. You’ll find someone! You seem like a nice…entity. With all you’ve got to offer, I’m surprised the men aren’t falling at your feet!”
“Meeting people isn’t the problem!” she exclaimed “It’s finding someone who’s honest and kind, someone who won’t just use me. It’s so hard to find a good man these days!”
“I know what you mean.” Vince muttered, his thoughts suddenly darting back to Howard at the flat. Howard was a good man, maybe he and Lady Fame…but Vince’s stomach gave a nasty jolt at the thought of setting those two up, and he banished that little nugget of matchmaking to the back of his mind.
“You seem like a nice enough boy…” Lady Fame started slowly, gazing at him intently. For the second time that night, Vince’s stomach gave an uncomfortable jolt. She seemed nice enough, but he didn’t really think he wanted a relationship with a glowing pink entity. He much preferred those with a simple truth to them, and this Lady Fame was a bit vampy for his tastes. She reminded Vince a little of a caricature. And besides, pink wasn’t his colour.
“…You couldn’t set me up with someone, could you?” she finished, looking hopeful. Vince felt an odd combination of relief that she simply wanted his matchmaking skills, and slightly offended that she hadn’t been coming on to him. He had absolutely no idea who he could set her up with but, after reassuring her that she’d find someone, couldn’t bring himself to dash her hopes.
“Oh yeah! I know loads of nice blokes!” he lied, nodding in an exaggerated fashion. Lady Fame was staring at him, rather disconcertingly, with a calculating air. She bit her lip, then reaching into a sequined handbag burst out
“You’re a failing musician aren’t you Vince?”
“Well I’d hardly call us ‘failing’; we’re just going through a bit of a rough patch…”
“I’ve read your reviews,” She interrupted, pulling a rather dusty pink tin from her bag, “I can help you. I’ll make you a deal…you agree to find me a date, with a nice, kind, genuine boy and I’ll give you this.” She gestured at him with the tin, and smiled hopefully. Vince took the container and peered at it. It was about the same size and width as a drum of coffee and felt fairly weighty. It was covered in a light layer of dust, which Vince brushed off with his fingers to reveal pink tin with the words ‘Esteam’ written upon it in swirling white letters.
“What is it?” he asked, glancing up through his fringe.
“Its fame in the form of a refreshing caffeinated beverage!” she beamed “And you can have the entire tin, free of charge! Do we have a deal?”
“Yeah! Of course!” Vince exclaimed “You’ll be swamped with dates by the time I’m through with you!”
Ten minutes later Vince bounded up the stairs and into the flat, clutching the tin eagerly to his lycra-clad chest. Howard was still slumped on the sofa, but now the television had been turned on, and Colobos the crab was playing at low volume.
“Where’ve you been?” Howard inquired dully, not moving his eyes from the television screen “You took ages.”
“Oh…err…sorry,” Vince stammered “They’d just polished the floors, I got a bit distracted.”
“Ah, vanity will be your downfall Vince. Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Cedric?” Howard began his story, seemingly perking up a little at the opportunity to lecture, as Vince boiled the kettle. He scrabbled at the lid of the Esteam, which was proving rather difficult to remove, finally wrenching it free in a flurry of pink sparkly dust. Vince coughed, wafting the dust away from his face and peered into the tin, which was crammed full of what appeared to be small pink teabags. Grabbing a handful he hurled them into the teapot, filled it with boiling water, and added milk to two mugs before carrying the whole lot into the living room.
“…Just kept pummelling him for fifteen years.” Howard finished as Vince flopped onto the couch and poured himself a cup. Howard mimicked his action, though he, unlike Vince, failed to notice that the tea was a violent shade of fuchsia. He took a deep gulp, blinked and turned towards Vince, bumping their knees together.
“Bit sweet isn’t it?” he stated, contrarily taking another swig of tea.
“Oh, is it? I hadn’t noticed. You know me, anything with sugar in it…” Vince found his voice was rather higher than usual, and wondered why.
“Yeah. Vince, why… why do you have glitter in your hair?” Howard enquired, peering intently into Vince’s face. He drained his mug and poured himself another cup, before reaching up to brush the flakes of pink glitter from the strands of hair that framed Vince’s face. For the third time that night, Vince felt an odd jolt somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach, though unlike the others this one was quite pleasant.
“I’ll go get it out!” he squeaked, putting down his untouched tea and leaping to his feet. Howard shrugged as his companion hurried from the room, and took another gulp of tea, feeling distinctly better already.
Vince gasped, raising his damp face up to the bathroom mirror and staring at his, rather paler than usual, wide eyed expression. Why had Howard touching his hair made him feel so odd? Vince splashed another cupped-palm full of water over himself and told himself that it was because Howard had touched his precious hair. What he’d felt was annoyance, nothing more. Yep, annoyance, he repeated mentally, towelling his face dry and checking that all the glitter was out of his hair. Taking a deep breath and feeling inexplicably nervous, Vince stepped out of the bathroom and, with a grin, announced
“All gone. I reckon it suited me…” the rest of his sentence froze in his throat, as Howard climbed to his feet and turned towards him. All of a sudden it felt as though the word was in slow motion, Howard turning inexplicably slowly and fluidly towards him. For a second Howard appeared to be glowing, but then all Vince could focus on was the way his tousled mop of hair fell into his eyes, the deliberate, gentle way he bit his bottom lip. The tightness of Howard’s loud Hawaiian shirt against his chest, the soft curve of his mouth seemed the most important thing of all. All of a sudden Vince felt like swooning, his breath knotting tightly in his chest. He couldn’t believe he was standing in the presence of Howard T.J. Moon, the inventor of Howard’s Note, Britain’s leading cream poet and electro-jazz-glam-funk pioneer! He felt he should say something, anything, but his tongue felt thick and heavy and his lips were numb. Howard’s mouth was moving and he was staring intently at Vince, but in his shock all Vince registered was a blank buzzing in his ears. He needed to sit down; he was too hot in this cat-suit and Howard’s mere presence made him want to faint.
“Vince? Vince? Are you alright? Talk to me Vince, tell me what’s wrong!” Howard was rather concerned, Vince had returned from the bathroom and frozen on the spot, his blue eyes glowing a vibrant shade of pink so briefly that Howard was sure he had imagined it. And now he appeared to be unable to speak. Howard reached out and grabbed Vince’s shoulder, shaking him gently. Vince’s eyelids fluttered wildly, his lips trembling wordlessly.
“Yes Vince? Vince what do you need? Something to drink? Water? Tea? Maybe you should sit down? Lie down? Fresh Air?” Howard gushed, the pitch of his voice rising uncomfortably, relieved that Vince was forming coherent syllables.
“Can I…Can I have your autograph?” Vince blurted out, blushing scarlet.
Howard paced the living room floor, occasionally pausing to pour himself a fresh mug of tea, wondering what on earth was wrong with Vince. After signing a small scrap of paper for him, he had decided Vince needed bed-rest and had put him in his bedroom. He had then proceeded to pace for a while, weighing the options. He had come to two conclusions. Either Vince’s cape was on too tight, or he was having a laugh at Howard’s expense. Well no one made a fool of Howard T.J Moon, he thought indignantly, readying himself to scold Vince for acting childishly. But what if Vince was really ill? Howard would feel guilty for shouting at him; maybe he should just take him a nice cup of tea and try to talk some sense out of him? Yes, that sounded like a fine plan. Howard picked up the teapot and found it was almost empty. Had he really drunk an entire pot to himself? No wonder he was feeling so tense, he really aught to cut back on the caffeine. He headed into the kitchen to make a fresh pot for Vince. Spotting the pink tin of Esteam on the counter, Howard picked it up and brushed the remaining dust from its surface.
“Trust Vince to buy pink tea.” He muttered affectionately to himself, browsing the writing on the back of the tin.
‘Feeling fed up with your dreary mundane existence? Think you could be the next big thing, if only you had the right opportunity? Try a refreshing cup of Esteam, a delicious caffeinated fame-inducing drink! Each cup contains oodles of acclaim, with just one taste you’ll be an instant celebrity! Now available in four delicious flavours: Strawberry, Vanilla, Mint and Lemon.
Fame has never tasted so good!
Warning: Drinking Esteam in excess can cause intense fanatical behaviour in those exposed who have not ingested the beverage. Not suitable for those under ten years. Intensity may vary depending on age, weight and impressionability.’
“Esteam!?” Howard exclaimed incredulously, his jaw dropping. Where on earth had Vince gotten this? And why the hell had he made Howard drink it without telling him first? Howard read the small print aloud once more.
“Warning: drinking Esteam in excess can cause intense fanatical behaviour in those in your presence…”
Well, at least this explained Vince’s strange behaviour. But they had both drank the tea, why wasn’t Howard acting like a drooling fanatic towards Vince? One glance towards the coffee table gave Howard his answer, Vince’s untouched mug of tea sat there, still steaming innocently. Howard shook his head in disbelief, and re-read the back of the tin. Of course! He had no idea where Vince had gotten this…stuff but the why was glaringly clear. By drinking this, he and Vince could achieve the international stardom they had always dreamed of! But…he was the only one who had drunk it…perhaps he aught to make a fresh pot for Vince to drink alone…
“Viiinceeey?” Howard’s voice sing-songed through the door of Vince’s room. In his current state, Vince didn’t notice the overly syrupy tones, and merely registered that Howard Moon had given him a special nickname! Vince leapt to his feet and checking his hair in one of the many mirrors adorning his walls before ripping the door open with such vigour that, had he been a stronger man, he would have torn it clean off it’s hinges.
“Hi Howard!” He breathed, leaning against the doorframe and smiling sweetly.
“Err…I made you some tea, is it alright if I come in?” Howard asked, unnerved by the fact that Vince had just fluttered his eyelashes at him.
“Of course you can come in! As if you have to ask!” Vince gushed, stepping aside to let Howard pass and nervously toying with his hair. Howard stepped into the room and took a seat on the only patch of carpet that was not covered in hats, scarves, boots or, rather unusually, photographs. He poured Vince a large mug of tea and told him to sit down, as Vince was hovering rather nervously at his elbow. Clearing a space for himself, Vince sat cross-legged, staring at Howard, and took the cup of tea gratefully. He sipped it nervously and wracked his brain for what to say.
“Wow Howard this tea is amaazing,” he burbled “Is there anything you can’t do!?”
Howard cleared his throat, feeling simultaneously both uncomfortable and flattered.
“Thank you. Uhm…What are all these photo’s?” he asked, trying to avoid Vince’s adoring gaze, picking one up. It was a photograph from his and Vince’s holiday to Spain. They were both wearing ponchos; Vince grinning like a madman and Howard looking surly clutching a pinata. However, where his head should have been, topped with a sombrero and glaring at the camera, there was a small head-sized hole. Picking up several more photographs, he noticed this was a trend.
“Vince. Where’s my head?” he asked shortly, holding up the defaced photos.
“Oh,” he said sheepishly “I’ve been decorating my notebook.”
He thrust the small binder in which he kept his Charlie drawings at Howard, chewing his bottom lip nervously. The binder had previous been covered with magazine clippings of Jagger, Bowie and other various pop icons, but now Howard’s face had been glued onto the bodies of all of Vince’s heroes.
“Who was that?” Howard demanded, pointing to where his scowling face, peered atop the body of a woman, scantily clad in a pink bikini.
“Oh, that’s Peaches, she’s a genius,” Vince grinned, almost sounding himself again “Though not quite as genius as you Howard.” He added, ruining the illusion of normalcy.
“Vince, I can’t believe you’ve done this!” Howard gestured wildly towards the notepad “These people are your heroes, surely I can’t mean that much to you! Look at Jagger, you’re his biggest fan!”
“Oh Howard, Howard, Howard,” Vince shook his head “They’re old news! I’m your biggest fan now.”
Howard sighed heavily, ignoring the burgeoning feeling of warmth that spread through his chest at these words.
“That’s just the Esteam talking Vince. Sleep on it and tomorrow we’ll start on the road to fame and fortune.”
“Night Howard!” Vince called cheerily, slurping his tea noisily and sticking Howard’s face onto every member of The Human League’s body.
Howard hoped Vince would have returned to normal by the next morning, though he appeared to have done just the opposite, his fanaticism virtually doubling overnight.
“Alright Howard!” he called breathlessly from the breakfast table, were he was hunched over a bowl of frosted cereal and scribbling frantically on a notepad. Howard grunted and reached for a cup of coffee, blinking blearily in Vince’s direction.
“Morning.” He mumbled, adding sugar to his cup and taking a seat opposite Bollo. He took a deep drink of the coffee, looked sleepily at Vince and looked away, blinked, then, finally realising what he was seeing, sprayed his mouthful of coffee all over Bollo, who was luckily shielded by a large newspaper.
“Vince! What the hell are you wearing?” Howard exclaimed, staring dumbly at his friend. Vince was dressed uncannily like himself in a garishly patterned shirt and corduroy pants. Granted, Vince’s shirt was two sizes too small and his pants, which were both form-fitting and hip-hugging, were tucked into white cowboy boots, but there was an alarming lack of glitter in Vince’s ensemble and he appeared not to have combed his hair. To top it all off, he was wearing a false moustache. Howard could hardly believe it; Vince complained about his hairdo at least twice a day, constantly compared him to Tom Selleck and often moaned the vibrant patterns Howard favoured made him feel sick.
“I’m just dressing like my idol, Howard.” He replied softly, placing a trembling hand on Howard’s arm. Howard ignored Bollo’s derisive snort.
“Vince,” he began gently, feeling a rush of pity for his friend, “Are you shaking?”
In all their years of friendship Howard had never seen his friend blush as much as he had in the past twenty four hours. Vince always insisted that blushing was bad for his complexion, and he needed to remain pale and interesting. Now, however, his cheeks were a violent shade of red. Howard rather thought it suited him.
“I’m just a bit nervous,” Vince replied “It’s not everyday you get to hang out with your idol.” He removed his hand from Howard’s arm and turned back to his notepad. Feigning interest, Howard pulled the pad towards himself.
Doodled around the edge of paper were several small hearts, each bearing the insignia ‘VN4HM’, the words ‘Mr Vince Moon’ and a crude sketch of Howard wearing a small hat. In the centre of the page was what appeared to be a horribly misspelled poem or story, written in Vince’s scrawling, spidery handwriting.
‘howard tuk vince in his strong manley arms and kissed him pashionately on the lips. “I luv you vincey.” He sed, unbutening vinces shirt.’
Howard stopped right there.
“Vince!” he cried, half amused, half appalled “What is this!”
Vince snatched the pad out of Howard’s grasp, horrified, and buried his face buried his face in his hands.
“Vince?” Howard insisted, jabbing his friend in the shoulder.
“Fan fiction.” Came Vince’s small, muffled reply.
“Fan…” Howard began, at a loss for what to say “Vince…” Luckily for Howard, Naboo interrupted him before he had to say anything of substance, with a shout of
“Would you lot shut up, I’m trying to watch telly in here!”
“Sorry Naboo.” Howard heard Vince mumble as he headed into the living room to ask for Naboo’s advice.
“Hi, Naboo…” Howard began casually; smiling in what he hoped was a light-hearted fashion.
“What do you want?” demanded Naboo, who was currently curled on his side on the sofa. Dropping all pretence, and to his knees, Howard decided to ask Naboo for help outright.
“It’s Vince…He’s gone wrong! We both drank this potion and now he’s obsessed with me, he said I’m his idol! I don’t know what to do!”
“I thought that was what you wanted.” Came Naboo’s calm reply.
“Well…sort of, but not like this! He’s written a love story about me! He said I was better than Jagger!” Howard hissed. Naboo didn’t bat an eyelid, not shifting his gaze from the television he asked resignedly.
“What have you taken?”
“Err, something called Esteam,” Howard replied “It’s supposed to make us famous…”
“Yeah I know what it is,” Naboo interrupted impatiently
“Why are you sitting around here complaining about Vince when you should be out there enjoying yourself. I thought fame was what you wanted.”
He had a point, Howard supposed, though he hadn’t really helped the Vince situation.
“Hang on a minute…” something was dawning on Howard “Why aren’t you falling at our feet in adoration?”
“It doesn’t affect shamans or magical beings.” Naboo said shortly, tears welling up in his eyes at a particularly heart warming advert for hand lotion.
“I see…so…is there anything I can do about Vince?”
“You should be grateful to have someone who loves you…” but as the shaman launched into a tirade about ‘appreciating what you have’ Howard was already on his feet and out of the door.
Howard had finally convinced Vince to remove the false moustache, despite Vince’s claims that ‘Kings of Leon all had moustaches and that didn’t hurt their careers!’ and made him change out of the shirt, which quite frankly was so brashly decorated that it was hurting Howard’s eyes. Vince’s second choice of shirt wasn’t much better though, an extremely tight t-shirt printed with Howard’s face and the words ‘Monsoon Moon’ scrawled across the chest. Howard wondered where on earth he had gotten it.
He and Vince were standing in the busy London street, instruments in hand, waiting to test out the effects of the Esteam. The bustling human traffic meandered past, the occasional sharp suited businessman knocking shoulders and muttering apologies, though very few people appeared to be paying attention to them. A small gathering of pimply-faced teens had gathered at Vince’s elbow, but this was nothing new, he seemed to break hearts everywhere he went. Vince, however, had eyes for no one but Howard. Maracas in one hand, he kept darting in close to his friend, grinning broadly, and snapping photographs on a small digital camera that whirred happily and emitted tiny puffs of green smoke.
“Vince, where did you get that camera?” Howard asked, tuning his acoustic guitar.
“Naboo leant it to me.” Vince replied, flashing a peace sign and taking another photo. Howard sighed, glancing around the street. The crowd had begun to thin as the workday began and the odd person was stopping to stare at them, though nothing on the scale of what Howard had expected.
“Why isn’t this working?” he murmured, running an agitated hand through his already rather dishevelled hair.
“Maybe we should play a song, get ‘em juiced up?” Vince pouted, his chin digging into Howard’s shoulder.
“Hmmm… Yeah, good idea.” Howard replied, suddenly horribly distracted by the way Vince’s hair was tickling his cheek. That was, after all, why they’d brought the instruments out into the street. He began to strum their latest song, an amusing tune about a badger named Pete who worked in a chip shop, as Vince kept the beat with his Maracas and began to sing. This did the trick, and within minutes people began to congregate around them, clapping and cheering and screaming for more. Vince was quite alarmed when a very reserved looking business woman threw a pair of underwear at him. This was a public street! Soon the street was packed, the road blocked off. Howard smiled broadly, gazing into the cheering crowd of Londoners. This was finally it! They were finally getting the recognition they deserved!
“Can I offer you anything to drink? Bob will be happy to get you anything you need.” The record executive smiled widely, gesturing to his assistant, a paunchy American man with a soft, unassuming grin.
Arthur Minty was a kindly, slightly pompous man with a rich, unctuous voice and a fondness for pinstripes. He had approached them on the street moments after their impromptu gig had ended, all smiles, business cards and ‘very interesting’. The exchange had resulted in Howard and Vince accompanying him to the record company headquarters that he was manager of, and now the two of them sat before him in plush chairs, clutching cocktails and listening in disbelief as he told them how interesting he found them, and about his ‘big plans’ for ‘musicians of their calibre’. He wanted to sign them to his record label immediately, book a worldwide tour, release an album, singles, b-sides, music videos, posters, tee-shirts, mugs with their faces on them- the lot!
Arthur planned to arrange photo shoots, interviews on all the biggest shows, with all the biggest magazines! All the men would want to be them and all the women would want to be with them! They were the next big thing, they had a unique sound! Howard listened to all this with a rapturous grin on his face, trying very hard to ignore the fact that Vince’s knees kept bumping against his own.
Fame and fortune…everything they had always dreamed of! He imagined himself on stage, gazing into the thousands of adoring faces, hands reaching out to touch him, their idol. Thousands of voices chanting his name…
“Howard! Howard! Howard! Howard!…”
“Howard! Howard! We love you Howard!” the cacophony of screams and catcalls followed Howard down the street, but he was used to it now, the constant clamour to touch, talk to, get a picture with him. They were week into their nationwide tour and Howard was loving every minute of it. He basked in the glory, handling the magazine interviews and television spots like a pro, always remembering to promote the latest single, always remembering to slip in that he and Vince were busy writing for their upcoming album.
Quite surprisingly, it was Vince who was struggling to deal with the fame, preening, flouncing Vince Noir who lived every day of his life as though he was under the watchful eye of the paparazzi, was becoming slightly quieter and withdrawn. If pressed, Howard would have claimed Vince was just having trouble coming to terms with his new celebrity status, though the fact of the matter was, Vince’s sudden shyness was due to the fact that he and Howard were spending little time together. Or rather, they were spending all of their time together, but it was different now. Whenever they were together they were always writing songs, or reading fan mail, or taking interviews over the phone. With all this going on, Vince had barely had time to find a date for Lady Fame, though he had given Leroy a call one night.
“Alright Leroy! Listen, mate, are you seeing anyone at the minute? What? NO! Of course it’s not for me, you twat!”
The conversation had not gone well, and had escalated, with Vince insisting to a tearful Leroy that, although he was a very nice bloke and of course he found him attractive, he just wasn’t Vince’s type and ended with Vince agreeing to send Leroy several signed presshots and backstage passes to his and Howard’s next show.
Though he would have denied it vehemently, Howard had also been avoiding talking to Vince as much as possible, growing tired of Vince’s constant flattery and praise. He had enough of that from the fans! What Howard really needed was a friend, though Vince was still taking every opportunity to compliment him, photograph him and had even taken to collecting his empty coffee cups, for his own ‘private uses’. Howard dreaded to think what these uses could be. Perhaps Vince was planning to merge their DNA into an insane cloned lovechild, a sort of ‘Howince’ or ‘Vinward’ hybrid. Howard dismissed this silly thought as soon as it crossed his mind however, reminding himself that Vince could barely work the microwave on their tour bus, let alone some mad futuristic splicing machine!
Another thing that was bothering Vince was the fans. Sure, he liked attention as much as the next man, probably more, in fact definitely more. Vince thrived on attention, without it he would wither and probably become an accountant or something equally horrendous, but he couldn’t help but feel that something was off. What had begun as normal admiration felt as if it was spiralling into something out of his control. They were only a week into their tour, and already fans were hounding them everywhere they went.
His and Howard’s faces smiled at him from the cover of every magazine, and Vince could barely pop into the newsagents to buy a packet of raspberry bootlaces without dozens of star-struck boys and girls swamping him and asking persistently, almost hungrily, for kisses and photographs. His hair had been touched a completely inappropriate amount of times! He had even caught the fans sneaking around outside of the tour bus, nicking old teabags and banana peels from the bins. Vince shook his head pityingly. You’d never catch him acting that way, he thought with a smirk, slipping Howard’s discarded Starbucks takeaway cup under his jacket.
“Oy! Gerroff!” Vince squealed , indignantly knocking away the eager hands that tore at his hair. “Get ‘em Rock!”
Rock, his burly, heavily browed bodyguard, grunted and nodded, edging his way between the barrier that was supposed to keep the prying hands of the fans away from Vince and Howard, and hurling a startled young man who was sporting a Vince-inspired hair cut backwards. Howard and Vince had been forced to hire security guards after an incident following their last gig. Sweaty and tired they had both emerged from the back door, hoping to return quietly back to the tour bus and relax. They’d had no such luck, as the persistence of their fans was almost admirable, and they had been mobbed by a rabid gang of squealing girls and boys. They had both come away from the ordeal minus a few articles of clothing and sporting bloody noses. Their wards now had to accompany them to and from the venues to keep the braying crowds at bay.
Tonight was the last gig in the area, a sold out show that was to be broadcast live on MTV, at the London Astoria. The queue for entrance circled the block three times, their devotees huddling under umbrellas from the rain. Endless ticket touts scoured the lines, hocking tickets to the gullible and desperate for hundreds of pounds a piece.
Backstage, Howard could hear the anticipatory screams of the audience baying his and Vince’s names, virtually drowning out the valiant efforts of the support band. Howard was exhausted. He and Vince had done five television interviews and two photo shoots that morning. He had spent a large portion of the day dispelling rumours that he was dating Britney Spears, and the other half he had spent trying to convince Vince that getting the words ‘I Heart Monsoon Moon’ tattooed across his forehead was a bad idea. And, as seemed to be the norm these days, he had been battling off the fervent, grasping hands of the fans and paparazzi. Now even he had noticed that they appeared to be getting more intense and unrelenting. Had he really wanted this? He constantly felt run down and lonely. His days were now spent in the company of the press and hired lackeys, and, as much as he may complain about him, he missed Vince. His Vince, vain, childlike, scornful Vince, who was constantly telling him he needed a hair cut and who thought the world would be a better place if more people just accessorised. Not this empty, quivering fanatic that Vince had become, stealing used tissues and glances and standing up whenever Howard entered a room.
But, Howard thought sadly, glancing into the dressing room mirror, there was no chance this was going to end any time soon. They’d reached the number one slot with their latest single ‘Monkeys stole my face’, were number one on the internet download charts and their album was due to be recorded in just two weeks! They were bigger than the Arctic Monkeys, taking Britain by storm, irregardless of the fact that they hadn’t even left the South yet, and breaking America through reputation alone. The NME loved them! The world was at their feet.
Howard sighed heavily, reminding himself irresistibly of their days as struggling musicians. How long ago had that been…a week? Two? A makeup lady darted forwards to comb his moustache, and Howard sighed once more. He didn’t even look like himself anymore! His hair had been sculpted to casually dishevelled perfection, his moustache trimmed neatly. His nauseatingly vivacious shirts had been replaced with tastefully patterned Armani couture; even the bags under his eyes had been discretely concealed with makeup! Of course, Vince was in his element, Howard mused sourly, surrounded by Vera Wang cat suits and custom-made Prada platforms; or rather he would have been, had he not been so worried about what Howard thought about him.
The support band wandered in dejectedly, giving up after their third song had been effectively drowned out by the screams of “We want Howard! We Want Vince!” Howard wandered over to his friend, who was quizzing Rock on his love life, noticing with relief that he had disposed of the false moustache he had occasionally taken to wearing. Howard then realised with a jolt that he was fixating on the small patch of slim, pale chest that was peeping from Vince’s pearlescent cat suit, and the starkness of Vince’s dark hair against his skin and clothes.
“You ready little man?” He croaked, moistening his lips and averting his gaze.
“Yeah!” Vince gasped, slowly raising the digital camera he had borrowed from Naboo. Howard tried not to think where he had been keeping it- Vince’s suit was skin tight.
“Put the camera away, Vince.” He bit out, closing his eyes resignedly. Hopefully, foolishly for a second he had thought he’d seen a glimmer of the old Vince, chatting animatedly away to the thick skulled security guard, whom Howard was sure (though far to intelligent to press the matter) was a distant relative of Bollo’s.
“F…Five minutes, Sirs,” The antsy, dark-haired tour manager stammered, glancing at the crowd from the wings of the stage. “They’re starting to get anxious!”
Vince blinked stupidly, the blinding glare of the footlights stinging his eyes. The low thrum of the drums began, their new drummer, who was a mate of his, a wood pigeon named Jeff, keeping the time skilfully. Sweating already inside his cat-suit and casting a nervous glance towards Howard, Vince began to play, slender fingers dancing over the monotone keys of the synth. They launched into the song and, as always, Vince finished on his knees, cradling the microphone as if it were a particularly expensive hair product. But this time the riotous thunder of applause that filled his ears was real, this time the audience weren’t just shrivelled old crones. Squinting past the lights into the audience, he spotted his friends in the front row. Leroy, screaming quite hysterically-
“I love you Vince!” with tears streaming down his face, Bollo wearing a T-shirt with Vince’s face emblazoned upon it, Naboo looking as if he hadn’t bathed or slept in weeks. Vince felt a small rush of gratitude towards his friends, happy that they had come to support his and Howard’s music. If they still had their friends, maybe this ‘celebrity’ thing wouldn’t be so bad…and he did enjoy getting his photograph taken…
This thought was banished immediately as he glanced past his friends into the crowd, and his feeling of gratitude was quickly replaced with a surge of icy, inexplicable dread. Each mouth was moving slowly, determinedly chanting his and Howard’s names.
For the second time in his life, Vince experienced the eerie sensation that he was the only one in real-time and everyone else was moving in slow motion. The seething mass of bodies not so much dancing as writhing, limbs flailing and heads lolling. They juddered and jerked, colliding hotly, violently and not caring, focusing single-mindedly upon the music. Slack jawed and beaded with sweat, their eyes fixed stolidly upon the stage, lips gaping, gasping- fishlike and breathless- soundlessly forming the letters of his name. Suddenly standing there sparkling, in the warm yellow glow of the stage, Vince felt cold and sick. He did not realise that he had stopped playing, his fingers hovering frozen just above the keys, until he felt Howard’s eyes upon him and turned.
“Vince!” Howard mouthed frantically “What are you doing!?”
Vince was barely aware that he had spoken, though he heard himself whisper
“Look at them Howard! Look at their faces…”
And Howard did. The hungry, soulless expressions etched onto the thousands of faces below instilled some deep fear within him, the effect rendered yet more terrifying by the fact the crowd were almost entirely dressed in a fashion similar to Vince and himself. He knew, immediately, that they had to get out of there.
“Ruuuuun!” he howled, hurling his bass guitar to the floor. Seizing Vince’s hand in his own, he turned and they raced from the stage, pushing their way through the throng of hired staff that had congregated backstage and out through the backdoor into the damp night air.
Not sure where they were going, only sure that they had to get as far away as possible, Howard ran, his feet pounding the rain slicked pavement. His hand still firmly grasping Vince’s, he muscled his way through a horde of paparazzi, whose loose, brain-dead expressions ghoulishly echoed those of the shambling crowd indoors, the occasional flashbulb bursting bright against the purple, storm sodden sky.
“Ow! Howard, My boots!” he heard Vince moan, the shorter man unable to keep up with his heady pace. This was unsurprising, as Vince was wearing six inch heels.
“Come on Vince, you can do it!” Howard panted, virtually dragging his companion around another twist, another corner of the eerily deserted streets.
“…Can’t…” Vince gasped, stumbling and slipping on the soaked pavement as they hurried past a bus shelter in which an elderly couple were taking refuge from the rain. As the two passed, the couple’s faces suddenly became disturbingly blank and they staggered, eyes glowing alarming fuchsia for a moment, arms outstretched. Vince had never heard an old man growl so menacingly before.
“Get away from me you crazy old freak!” he squealed. Howard emitted what he hoped was a manly yell, pulling Vince frantically past the bus shelter.
“They’re everywhere Howard! What are we going to do!?”
Leaving the old couple behind, Howard slowed his pace a little, forehead damp with sweat and rain. He turned his head towards a curious sound, a low rumbling noise that seemed to be moving closer, wondering what it was. Splashing through a puddle they turned another corner, and Howard realised what the noise was, a haunting chorus of his and Vince’s names, chanted over and over by the mindless fans.
“I know what we’re going to do,” He yelled, surging forwards “Keep running!”
But neither Vince nor Howard was in the best of shape, and the hoard was gaining on them fast. It seemed their fate was sealed when they ran eagerly into what appeared to be a handy side street, but was, in fact a dead end.
“Oh no Howard!” Vince moaned as the seething mass approached “They’re going to steal our brains and sell ‘em on EBay to the highest bidder!”
“That’s perverted!” Howard wheezed, clutching a stitch in his side with his free hand “who would buy a brain off of EBay?”
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to flatter Howard, even when they were facing certain doom, Vince gushed
“I would bid for yours Howard!”
They reached the end of the alley and came to a damp, lichen encrusted wall made of mouldering brick.
“It’s a dead end!” Vince exclaimed helpfully.
“Thanks Colombo,” Howard spat, backing up against the wall “But now we’re going to die.”
“I can’t die Howard,” Vince bleated, pulling anxiously at his sodden mane “Not with my hair looking like this!”
The rabid crowd had reached the alleyway now, and were already filtering into the narrow street, eyes hungry and rolling, mouths wide and drooling. Vince and Howard huddled together, cowering from their outstretched arms.
“Don’t kill me,” Howard whimpered, burying his face into Vince’s damp locks. “I’ve got so much to give!” He wrapped his arms around his friend’s thin shoulders, even in his deep state of terror wondering what conditioner Vince used to make his hair smell so nice.
Vince squeezed his eyes shut, screwing up his face with fear and turning towards Howard. At least if he was going to die it would be here, in the arms of his hero. The mob had reached them at last, greedy grasping fingers millimetres from his face. He held his breath, readying himself for a painful, grizzly demise as the hand reached, claw-like for his face…
…and gently brushed his cheek.
“You’re so pretty!” came a breathless, girlish voice. Vince’s eyes flew open and he glanced upwards, his gaze settling on the young woman stood in front of him. She had an eager, flushed face and wore a T-shirt with Howard’s face on it. She was clutching a pad and a fat black marker nervously to her chest. Peering towards the rest of the crowd, Vince noticed they were all also clutching pads and pens.
“We were just wondering,” The girl continued shakily “Can we have your autographs?”
“So they just wanted your autographs?” Naboo asked, looking distinctly cheerier than Vince had seen him in ages. This was rather unsurprising, considering Lady Fame was perched upon his knee, holding his hand. He even looked as if he’d shaved. Considering their comparative sizes, Vince was a little surprised she wasn’t crushing him.
Vince and Howard had returned home late that evening from their mammoth signing session to find Naboo and Lady Fame sitting guiltily on the sofa both looking distinctly dishevelled and Lady Fame wearing Naboo’s turban. It seemed Lady Fame had come a-knocking for Vince, to have a chat about his match-making prowess, found Naboo and the two of them had gotten to talking. How this had escalated into them sharing a night of passion and chilli flavoured Supernoodles, Vince wasn’t sure but he was glad they had both finally stopped moping around.
“Yeah, it turns out that’s all the fans wanted!” he chuckled “Imagine that!”
“A little something special to remember you by,” Howard added “Quite sweet really…”
“We were so busy doing interviews and photo shoots that we didn’t sign any autographs!” Vince shook his head and curled his knees up towards his chest “We won’t make that mistake again!”
“No sir.” Howard agreed, taking a large bite of pie and grimacing in disgust.
“So this ‘humble pie’ stuff’ll turn everything back to normal?” Vince asked thickly, through a mouthful of cream and modesty.
“Yep, this time tomorrow no one will even remember who you are.” Lady Fame reassured him.
“That’s handy.” Howard mumbled, a little wistfully.
“Well, we’re off out. You coming?” inquired Naboo
“Bollo’s d-jing tonight.”
Vince and Howard exchanged a glance.
“No, I think we’ll just have a quiet night in.” Howard told him with a nod, prodding the pie with his fork.
He and Vince shared an awkward silence once the two had gone.
“Humility doesn’t taste too good, does it?” he asked a little stiffly, watching Vince eat his pie with a nauseated expression.
“You got that right,” Vince exclaimed “And its apple! I hate apple.”
“Who’d have thought it, ey?” Howard mused “Our rise and fall to stardom in less than a week!”
“I know!” Vince chuckled “Its amazing! We’ve probably set some sort of record, we should win an award.”
They both laughed for a moment, before pausing clumsily.
Howard cleared his throat.
“So…” he began awkwardly “I see you’re feeling…back to normal again?”
Vince blushed, finely wrought cheekbones flushing pink, and stared at his plate.
“Yeeaah,” he replied embarrassedly, tousling his rain-mussed hair sheepishly “Sorry about that.”
“It’s alright,” Howard reassured him, slapping him gently on the knee “Just glad to have you back.”
Vince face lit up with a grin, that wide, unashamedly loopy grin that Howard hadn’t even realised he’d missed so much until it returned.
“Fancy a coffee? I’ve gone off tea a bit meself.”
Vince bustled off into the kitchen and returned moments later with two steaming mugs.
“Now this won’t have any crazy side effects, will it?” Howard joked, taking a sip, as Vince slid back onto the sofa next to him.
“Yeah,” Vince remarked playfully “It’s a love potion.”
He slurped his drink loudly, and casually brushed foam from Howard’s moustache. Howard also hadn’t realised how much he’d missed the casual, easy air they had when they were together, that he’d virtually longed for Vince’s unblinkingly intimate touches, that were like a second nature to Vince, when his friend had been too nervous to even look at him. Vince turned to face Howard, sitting cross-legged, his knees bumping Howard’s thigh gently.
“Howard…” he started slowly, lowering his cup.
“Yes Vince?” Howard asked, taking a gulp and turning towards his friend.
“I’m still your biggest fan.” Vince finished softly, and before Howard knew what had happened, Vince kissed him. It was a clumsy kiss, noses bumping together uncomfortably; it managed to be both brief and lingering, soft and hard at the same time. It left Howard’s lips tingling. It was over almost as suddenly as it had begun, lip-gloss sticky and faintly coffee scented.
Vince turned back, both men now facing the television, and dropped his gaze to his half-full cup.
“Yeah Howard?” came his quiet reply
“Was that you or the coffee talking?”
“That was me Howard.” He’d never heard Vince’s voice sound so low and honest.
“Oh,” Howard said shortly. He cleared his throat “Well Vince…I…I’m your biggest fan too.”
Vince tried to stop a slow grin spreading over his face and failed miserably.
“Howard…” He began again, softly, seriously.
“Yes Vince?” Howard replied nervously.
“…Is it true that you’re dating Britney Spears?”