Pairing: Howard Moon/Vince Noir
Challenge: Challenge 06: Boosh on Tour
Length: 1-5k words
Notes: Er… first ever Boosh fic. Be gentle. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I thought I’d post anyway.
Leotard by strangeumbrella
Howard had asked Vince if he was gay, once. It was ages ago – maybe a few months after they’d first met, and he’d been wondering for a while, but hadn’t quite known how to put it. He didn’t want to offend Vince, or, worse, make him think he was coming on to him, which he certainly wasn’t. But Vince had just laughed and told him he had a girlfriend.
“Why did you think I was gay?”
“Oh, I didn’t. Not really. Just a couple of things made me wonder, you know, the whole glamorous cowboy look–”
“That’s not ‘gay’, that’s ‘fashion’. They’re different.”
“Or when Naboo was saying about not being able to fix curtains and you started talking about running stitches.”
Uncharacteristically, Vince looked slightly embarrassed. “Oh. Yeah. I’m quite good at needlework… they made me do it at school because I was so crap at soldering and all of that.”
“That’s quite gay.”
“Come on, what about your moustache?”
“What about my moustache?”
“And that little hat you wear. That’s gayer than needlework’ll ever be.”
Howard was quite put out; he’d bought the hat last week, and had thought it would set off his features nicely. “This is style for the late-nineties alternative gent, what are you talking about?”
“No way. You look like a poof.”
Howard liked to think he would have said something clever here, had not Naboo approached with an urgent curtain query. As Vince followed him over to the kiosk, he turned back with a wink and mimed a pair of scissors. Howard only rolled his eyes, but a couple of weeks later he shaved the moustache off. He wasn’t sure why, but he just felt like he’d outgrown the old look. Vince had laughed, again, the first time he saw the clean-shaven face – “That’s your attempt at style?” – but later, when they had finished cleaning out the ocelot pit, he told him it looked nice and Howard had cheered up a bit.
The moustache didn’t have anything to do with it, though (in the end he grew it back again): the important thing was the girlfriend. Vince hadn’t really mentioned her again, and Howard didn’t even know her name, let alone how old she was, what she was like, what she did. But that didn’t matter – he knew she was there, and she acted as an explanation and a reassurance for anything Vince said to him. As long as there was a girlfriend involved, it wasn’t flirting, it was banter; it wasn’t innuendo, it was teasing. And so Howard was perfectly comfortable in Vince’s presence, because he knew it was all nonsense, all flippant comments to entertain whoever else might be watching. So what, he thought to himself as he shifted uncomfortably behind the microphone, was going on this evening?
The leotard thing was a running joke. Howard didn’t really know where it had come from, but Vince always ran through a checklist before they went on stage – “Setlist?”
“Funky rhythm in your bones?”
“Leotard under your shirt?”
And it was Howard’s job to reply in the affirmative, because it seemed to amuse Vince. Why he wanted to pretend they were in leotards Howard wasn’t sure, but he just went along with it.
“Go on then.”
Howard looked up blearily. “What? Yeah.”
“You will? Excellent!” Vince’s face cracked into a grin.
“I’ll what? Hang on, what did you say?” Vince had been chattering away next to him for some time now, and Howard had drifted off into a daydream around the point that Vince had started saying something about high-heeled sandals.
“You’ve said yes now, you can’t go back on it.”
“I’ve said yes? What have I said yes to? I wasn’t listening!”
Vince was too gleeful to mind the fact he might as well spent most of lunchtime talking to a lamppost. “You’ve just agreed to wear a leotard under the jacket tonight. For real, this time.”
“No I haven’t!”
Vince only smiled again.
“Vince, we’re not twelve. You can’t hold me to an answer I didn’t even know I was giving.”
“I can. I double-dared you.”
“Oh, for God’s sake. Look, even if I had said yes, I don’t have a leotard.”
“You do. There must be another side to you, Howard, one that we don’t see. It can’t be all pessimism and jazz trances – there’s someone in there in a leotard bursting to get out and dance to Gary Numan.”
“I can assure you that there isn’t. If there was another side to me, I’d like to think it would prefer leg-warmers.”
“You’ve thought about this, then?”
“No, I – oh, bugger off.”
“Anyway, I have.”
“You’ve thought about me in leg-warmers?” That was quite odd, even by Vince’s standards.
“No, I have a leotard.”
Howard wasn’t even remotely surprised; in fact, he’d probably tripped over it in the living room more than once. “You wear it then. What would be the point, anyway? No-one would be able to see it. What would it prove?”
“Exactly, no-one would know.”
This had gone a bit far now. “Imagine, for a moment, that I had agreed – consciously – to this, and that I was prepared to wear a leotard under my jacket. Even in this situation, I wouldn’t wear one that wasn’t even mine.”
“Whatever you say.” Vince stood up and stretched. “I have to go and get ready for tonight.”
“We’re not on stage for six hours!”
“These things take time.”
Howard failed, again, to think of anything vaguely witty to say, and had to settle for calling “What are you on?” after Vince’s retreating back.
“You don’t want to know.”
Howard decided he probably didn’t.
So that was all well and good. Well, a bit weird, maybe – OK, so bordering on disturbing, but everyone let Vince get away with being bizarre. The pressing issue now was why, exactly, Howard was currently fidgeting nervously, feeling very hot under the lights, and hoping nobody caught a glimpse of bright green peering out just beneath his collar. What had he put it on for? As he’d pointed out earlier, nobody knew he was wearing it – he’d discovered it on the back of the chair in his dressing room, with a helpful note pinned to the shoulder reading ‘leeatard’. Just in case he hadn’t realised. So what was the point?
The gig went fine, of course – though ‘fine’ was something of a loosely defined term, generally referring to any performance which didn’t result in either of them being physically assaulted by members of the audience. The only thing worrying him a little were Vince’s glances, which were far too knowing for his liking, and were focussing on all the wrong places. How did Vince know he was wearing it? Was he that confident in his powers of persuasion? Did he think that no self-respecting man would go back on a double-dare? Or did he hold fast to his theory that there was an inner Howard who liked leotards and electro-pop?
He knew, somehow, just knew, that there would be a knock on the dressing-room door at precisely the moment he was trying desperately to wriggle out of his fluorescent nightmare.
“Erm… can you come back in a minute?”
“Great, me, could you please come back a bit later?”
“I’m trying to extricate myself from this… thing.”
“It suits you.”
Howard wheeled round, the shoulder straps flapping round his waist, to see Vince leaning casually against the doorframe.
“What the – the door–”
“Oh, sorry.” Vince carefully shut the door behind him.
“No, I mean what are you doing, you know, opening it? And coming through it?”
Vince chose to ignore the somewhat gabbled question. “I don’t think green’s really your colour.”
“I know it isn’t.” Howard stopped, wondering why this was the only comment he was able to make. “It’s your leotard,” he finally added, not sure exactly what he meant by this.
“Yeah. Was it comfortable?”
“No, it’s really small.” Why was he having this conversation? He opened his mouth with every intention of telling Vince to please leave now and never speak of this to anyone again, but heard himself saying vaguely, “You must be a tiny shrimp of a man.”
“It looks as though you’ve got it stuck round your waist.”
“Oh. Well, yeah. I have. If you’d just go for a minute–”
Vince, who seemed to have been keeping himself as composed as humanly possible, suddenly blurted out, “Can I help?”
Howard didn’t say anything for what felt like an age, but was probably about ten seconds. He just watched Vince mentally kick himself: his plan – well, Howard assumed he’d planned this – was evidently not meant to involve panicked questions on his part. In the end, all he could muster was, “Are you gay?”
“What do you think?”
“You said you weren’t.”
“That was years ago!” Despite the decidedly unusual circumstances they were in, Vince started grinning to himself. “I’d forgotten that conversation.”
“People don’t turn gay from year to year,” ventured Howard, before realising that he wasn’t all that sure about anything at all any more, and added, “Do they?”
“I don’t think so. I didn’t exactly say I wasn’t.”
“Left the week after our little chat.”
“I’m sorry,” Howard replied automatically, and then decided that it was obviously not worrying Vince that much. “You… never mentioned that.”
“It slipped my mind.”
“That’s the most rubbish excuse ever. I don’t think that even counts as an excuse.”
Howard was far too taken aback by being forcibly and unexpectedly kissed to protest. For a little while, anyway, until he decided that he really ought to say something. He pushed Vince away from him, who looked straight at him, panic rising in his eyes.
“Oh God, I–”
“No, could you just take the belt off? Those studs have to be three inches long, at least – if you’re going to insist on standing that close, don’t dig them into my thigh.”
As it happened, that turned out to be the last coherent sentence spoken in the dressing room for some hours.