Not Doing Anything (Seven Minutes)

Until ‘Howard and Vince!’ someone says, and laughs burst out around the circle. ‘Pff, like they’re not doing it already!’ laughs a girl, and Vince turns to see Howard’s face battling to decide whether it wants to turn red or white.

From the prompt ‘Howard/Vince – Seven Minutes in Heaven”


Characters: ,





Length: words

Notes: For Bluestocking79.

Originally posted on Tumblr. Set ambiguously during the time they were at university together, as they apparently were in at least one continuity.

Not Doing Anything (Seven Minutes) by Culumacilinte

‘Come on,’ Howard protests (quietly, in Vince’s ear, so no-one else can hear them), his whole body next to Vince vibrating with tension. ‘Surely we’re too old for this! This– stupid kissing games are all right for fourteen year olds; we’re at uni! We’re supposed to be– mature at our age, wrestling with heavy intellectual issues, not– this–’

‘Oh, shush your lips,’ Vince laughs, shoving a can of Magners at Howard, though he does keep his voice low as well, for Howard’s sake. ‘Go on, it’ll be fun. We got plenty of time to worry about maturity later, yeah?’

And, wonder of wonders, Howard does seem to relax– a least a little, grudgingly, and definitely with the assistance of another cider– as the game goes on. He even laughs occasionally, though he never quite looks like he knows why he’s laughing, and Vince desperately wants to lunge in and tickle him, or say something absurd just to get rid of the lost edge to his smiles. Still, Howard at a party having something like a good time is an accomplishment, and Vince feels stupidly proud when he sneaks the occasional glance at him.

Until ‘Howard and Vince!’ someone says, and laughs burst out around the circle. ‘Pff, like they’re not doing it already!’ laughs a girl, and Vince turns to see Howard’s face battling to decide whether it wants to turn red or white. Decisive action is needed. So he laughs too, and sticks his tongue out at the girl, bouncing to his feet and hauling Howard up with him.

Howard’s tipsy enough that he’s pliable, and too startled to pull away, but he protests uncertainly, ‘Vince–’

Vince rides over him. ‘Aw, c’mon, Howard! I’ll make it worth your while.’ He throws in a theatrical wink for the benefit of the group, who laugh and catcall on cue, and then he’s hauled Howard into the closet and shut the door, and there’s silence.

Or, no, there isn’t silence at all. The laughter and chatter of the group of kids is muffled by the door and the heavy fabric of coats, but the dark, close space of the closet is full of breaths and heartbeats, and the awkward shift of Howard’s feet.

‘Vince,’ he tries again, sounding desperate, but Vince hushes him, putting hands out to find the familiar shape of his torso. His eyes’ll adjust, but they haven’t yet; he’s half glad of the excuse.

‘Might as well, yeah?’ he whispers. ‘Since we’re in here.’

Probably if he were sober he’d give Howard some more warning than that, but he isn’t, and he doesn’t, just pushes himself up on his toes and for a moment his mouth is full of Howard’s cidery breath. Just for a moment, and then one of Howard’s massive hands claps itself over Vince’s face and pushes him back.

‘Oi!’ Vince hisses against his palm, and when that doesn’t work, he licks it. That does.

Above him in the dim, Howard’s face seems to be made entirely of nose and cheekbones and worry lines. ‘Vince, I– stop it. I just, I can’t, I’m sorry.’

Vince frowns, and tries not to let that feel like a rejection. ‘Why not?’ he demands, still whispering. ‘Is it ‘cos I’m a boy? You can pretend I’m not, if you want.’

He strikes a little pose that Howard will probably only be able to half see, if he’s looking at all, hip stuck out and head tilted and hands cupped to his chest like a girl coyly covering her tits. He knows he doesn’t need much work to look like a girl; people think he is half the time anyway, and he’s snogged at least one boy (and a girl too, once, he thinks) who didn’t realise he wasn’t until some way into proceedings. Howard’s never seemed confused by it the way a lot of the rest of them are, though.

‘No, it’s not–’ Howard huffs, frustrated, and they’re close enough still that Vince’s hair stirs with his breath. ‘I just. I haven’t done this before,’ he mutters wretchedly. ‘And I know you have, and I don’t want– but if we don’t, they’ll all laugh, and– I knew I shouldn’t’ve agreed to play this stupid game.’

‘Hey, Howard, hey.’ Vince frowns thoughtfully. He doesn’t want to make Howard do anything he doesn’t want to, truly, but like hell is he just gonna stand here for seven minutes so close he can smell Howard, with the dark making him hyperaware of the puzzle-piece places where their bodies aren’t touching. ‘We could pretend,’ he suggests after a few beats of silence.

Howard doesn’t say anything, but Vince knows exactly what his face is doing, that screwed-up expression of baffled, dubious hope, and he smiles a little, picking up steam. ‘Yeah, we’ll just make it look like we got proper busy, right? But we won’t actually do anything. They’ll all think you’re a proper Casanova, and you can… keep your honour or whatever.’

‘Pretend.’ There’s the sound of Howard swallowing. ‘You think so?’

‘Yeah, yeah,’ Vince breathes. There’s something leaping around in his gut, but he ignores it. ‘Here, you’re gonna have to let me touch you, ok?’

Howard nods, and Vince reaches up to trace stubbly cheeks and jawline with his fingers, tilting Howard’s face down. ‘Chew on your lips,’ he murmurs. ‘Sorta– yeah, so they look a bit kissed. You want ’em to feel a bit tingly.’

Howard does as he’s instructed, and because it’s dark, Vince allows himself to stare as he methodically draws his lower lip between his teeth, gnawing carefully along the length of it, and then does the same to the upper.

‘You should– especially the middle of the bottom one. I reckon I’d bite you there if we were having a proper snog.’ Vince hears the catch of Howard’s breath like it’s right next to his ear, but he doesn’t argue. ‘Now I’m gonna,’ Vince starts, and then instead of saying, just does, swiping his index finger over his own lower lip and reaching up to smear Howard’s cheek with synthetic-peachy lipgloss.

‘Sticky,’ he mutters, and Vince grins.

‘Be glad we’re not actually kissing, then; you’d have that all over your mouth.’

Howard just continues to chew on his lip, and Vince’s eyes have adjusted enough that he can see the nervous dart of his eyes, the way they keep refocussing on Vince’s face like snooker balls on a rigged table. He offers what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

‘Now I’m gonna mess up your shirt a bit.’ And still Howard doesn’t say anything, just stands in the dark and breathes as Vince tugs at his shirt, kneading it in his fists slowly and deliberately until the wrinkles set. ‘And your hair.’

He’s waiting for a protest. Howard hates to be touched– or he doesn’t, really; he’ll cuddle like a right old bear if you catch him unawares, but there’s something about it, Vince doesn’t know what, that brings out all the scolding, neurotic aspects of his personality. Now, though, there’s only the sudden suck of an indrawn breath as Vince eases his hands up into Howard’s hair, massaging his scalp and feeling the warmth of it, the slide of natural oils that Vince draws out into Howard’s halfhearted curls. His hair’ll probably look better than it’s ever done, after this.

‘What about you?’ Howard murmurs roughly, breaking the silence, and Vince stills, his hands splayed out over the shape of his skull under his enthusiastically fluffed hair.

‘What about me?’

‘Well.’ Howard swallows. ‘You’re getting me all– dishevelled–’ Something about the pause before the word makes Vince giggle, stupid and high pitched. ‘What about you? We Moon men are famed for our… voracious sexual appetites, you know. If– if we were doing anything, I wouldn’t just stand here and let you– do what you wanted. I’d be… all over you like a flannel.’

His hands are still in Howard’s hair, and Vince is short enough that he’d had to get nearly chest-to-chest to Howard to reach. He can feel the buzz of his voice through their shirts. He wishes he’d thought to bring his drink into the closet with them.

Normally, Vince doesn’t let anyone touch his hair, ever, and the thought of the damage Howard could wreak with his big hands ought to be horrifying, but Vince supposes he’s looking at it as part of the game this has become, and something about that is… exciting. Emerging from the closet with his hair all in wild crumpled wings for everyone to see. Like an art piece. A Jackson Pollock or something, one of those things that’s art because it’s a mess.

‘Go on, then,’ he breathes, jerking his chin up. ‘Get your Northern mitts in there, I know you want to.’

There’s a pause. ‘What, your hair? You mean I can–?’

‘Turnabout and fair play and… all of that,’ Vince suggests, rather weakly.

Howard’s hands are huge, ridiculously huge, but they’re tender and tentative as they slide into Vince’s hair as if he’s afraid there might be something living there he might accidentally crush. There’s a shudder curling around a nerve just behind Vince’s ear, and he clenches his jaw with the effort of not letting it loose.

’Come on!’ he hisses, kneeing Howard in the leg, ‘I thought you wanted it to look like you’d ravished me!’

And that is apparently all it takes for Howard to really sink his fingers in, kneading and stroking and twisting, and Vince has to close his eyes and focus hard just to keep himself upright.

‘Y’know what I reckon?’ Vince murmurs. ‘You should… give me a hickey.’

Howard stiffens up immediately, and Vince scratches nails against his scalp, trying to soothe him. ‘No kissing, I promise. Nothin’ funny. Just– it’d add to the effect, yeah? You bein’ all sexually outrageous and that. Little bit of a mark. Make you look well impressive.’

‘I don’t–’ Howard says quietly, and Vince is pretty sure the little quiver in his voice is uncertainty. His fingers have started moving again, though, stroking through Vince’s hair, sporadic little grips and tugs that pull tight on the follicles and send a tingling shock right down Vince’s spine. He grapples blindly for words.

‘S just like, like, you ever suck on your wrist or the crook of your elbow? How it goes all red and pin-pricky looking? It’s just that.’

It’s obvious, boxed up together in the close, muffled closet, that neither of them is breathing quite evenly. Vince says nothing about it and prays to Jagger or Numan or someone that Howard won’t either. He tilts his chin up, reaching to pull Howard’s hand out of his hair and drag it down to his neck, pressing his fingers under the hinge of his jaw.

‘Just there?’

Howard’s fingers twitch. ‘Yeah,’ he says, and then clears his throat. ‘And maybe we should, um. Just for– verisimilitude, like you say, maybe… make some noise?’

There’s something lurking under the desperate uncertainty that Vince can’t identify, but it makes him grin. ‘Good call.’

It’s Howard’s breath, first, against his neck, and Vince feels like a guitar string, like the moment in the old Ziggy Stardust videos he’s seen before the first prickling echo of feedback ripples out across the audience. Everything is dark and hot and near and he’s clinging to Howard’s shoulders, and he’s not sure when that happened. And then Howard screws up his nerve and goes for it, wet tongue and suction against that spot just under his ear that Vince picked maybe, maybe just a little selfishly.

It isn’t much effort for his voice to break around a moan, and he lets go of Howard with one hand to flail back and slap noisily against the bar of coathangers. Howard’s whimpering, tiny little cracked noises that Vince can feel against his skin but which don’t stand half a chance of being heard through the door, but Vince doesn’t care. No kissing, he promised Howard that, but if it was anyone else, he’d pull him closer and spread his legs and want to feel him pressed up against the whole length of him.

It feels like a seal snapping when Howard pulls back, breathing hard, and there’s a hand on Vince’s back holding him up, and then the muffled sounds of the room outside are suddenly not muffled at all, and he and Howard are both wincing and blinking as the door swings open and the light breaks them apart.

‘Bloody hell, Moon, I didn’t think you had it in you,’ says someone, and someone else wolf-whistles as Vince glances up at Howard to see him flushed, embarrassed, but grinning shyly. It should be, but Vince isn’t sure that the feeling cracking the corners in his chest is pleasure that his scheme worked.

He catches Vince’s eye and his blush deepens, but he makes an exaggerated bow, gesturing Vince out of the closet with a gentlemanly sweep of one arm, and the cracked feeling washes away in a flush of laughter. Vince bobs a clumsy mock curtsey, tripping out to rejoin the rest of the party, grinning and ruffling his hair and coyly showing off the bruising spot on his neck like it’s his latest fashion statement.

Howard gratefully collapses back down onto the carpet after grabbing a fresh can of cider, and when Vince joins him, he gives him a little clip ‘round the head and calls him a tart. And Vince grins, because somehow that means that everything’s all right.