On The Roof

Howard and Vince find themselves back on the roof the day after the party.


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Length: words

Notes: Set after Episode Five, Series Three, ‘Party’

On The Roof by accioarse

Howard’s corduroy-clad arse was sticking high into the air. Slowly, he made his way across the narrow spine of the roof, his hands and knees scrabbling across the tiles. For a second, he lost his balance and wobbled. His boots scuffled wildly. Then he recovered and finally, came to rest, grabbing onto the tiles with the inside of his thighs and sitting up straight.

Panting, he turned around. Vince was still some way behind, perched on the rooftop, his knees pulled up tight and a worried look upon his face.

“Okay, Vince – where is it?”

Vince just sighed limply in reply.

Howard persisted. “Vince? Come on now. Where is it? Where did you see it last?”

Vince slumped further into his knees. “Nowhere. It’s nowhere at all.”

Howard hefted himself onto the very top of the roof. He sat down with a puzzled bump. “But you said…”

“Yeah, I lied,” Vince lifted his head. He scowled in the direction of Howard. “You got a problem with that?”

For a while there was uneasy silence. The sound of early evening traffic swarmed and buzzed far below their rooftop perch.

Eventually, Howard shrugged his shoulders. “Well – this has been all very enjoyable. But I was conducting a very important stocktake when you brought me up here with your wild tales of misplaced jazz stationery. So, sir – I’ll be on my way.” With extreme care, he began to climb down back towards the roof exit.

“Howard–” Vince lifted his head. “Hold on. Just a minute more. Okay?”

Howard halted, stuck halfway through the roof window, exasperated yet not quite enough to quench his curiosity.

Vince sighed yet again. “Howard… Don’t you like me?”

Howard looked surprised. “What?”

“Lat night, when you chucked me – nobody’s ever done that to me before. Though, as it was just you – I suppose, in a way, it hardly even counts….”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“…so how come can’t I stop thinking about it? How come it feels so…” Vince tailed off. His face scrunched up in misery.

Vince pulled his brows together, as if he were holding back a flood of emotion, and the sight did something to Howard’s insides.

He remembered how only the week before – Vince’s Joan Jett jumpsuit had come back ruined from the cleaners, so stretched and baggy it could have passed for some sort of bright red wipe-clean pregnancy unitard. And sure, Vince had bitched for an hour or two. But it had only taken an impromptu shopping trip, a genius find of some slash-cut silver boots, and Vince had been cheered up as good as new.

Even then, amidst the fashion disaster, Vince hadn’t been quite as upset as this.

Howard climbed back up, nestled in beside Vince, and patted him cautiously on the shoulder. “There, there. Let it all out.”

Vince looked up expectantly. “So you’ll help, then?”

“I…. errr…” replied Howard, slightly worried. Had he just agreed to something without even realising it?

“Yes? And this time I’ll be the one chucking you?”

Oh. Well, that sounded harmless enough. Slowly, Howard nodded.

After a few seconds, Vince poked Howard in the leg. “So go on, then – why aren’t you getting started?”

“Started? On what?” Howard was confused. “I thought you were supposed to be chucking me?”

Vince rolled his eyes. “Of course! But that comes later! You still have to do the kissing first!”

Howard blinked in surprise. “I do?”

“Yeah! And put a bit of effort into it, would you? Last night, I ended up doing all the flipping work!”

Howard backed away, startled. “No… I really don’t know…”

Vince flopped limp with sadness all over again. He bit his lip. “Oh. I get it. It’s that girl, isn’t it? Are you seeing her again?”

Howard nodded. “Tomorrow. Naboo’s given me the whole day off. I’m hiring a tandem and taking her to the Museum of Historical Paperclips.” He cleared his throat. “It’s our first date. So, in the meantime, I’m not sure I should be doing this sort of… dallying…”

Vince grabbed Howard’s hand. “Go on, Howard! Please? I’ll dump you straight afterwards – promise! The whole thing’ll take no more than twenty seconds, tops! How can she get annoyed at that? And she knows we’ve been kissing before – she didn’t mind then, did she? She wouldn’t be going out with you now if she minded.”

Howard turned Vince’s reasoning over in his head. It appeared sound enough.

“Anyway – you’re probably gonna need more some practice, aren’t you?” Vince peeked sideways through his lashes at Howard. “Before you come at her with your great big virgin face. Otherwise you’re gonna scare her right off!”

At that, Howard rose, his feet skidding on the steep tiles. “That’s not what you said last night! You said that girls respected… those of less experience.”

“Yeah well – I was lying, wasn’t I?”

“You… you!” protested Howard.

“Yeah. Also – you kiss a bit like a guppy. Flappy and dead. You need a lot more practice, believe me.”

Howard slipped again, only being saved from falling when Vince reached out and grabbed him. For a second they clung to each other on the rooftop. Then Howard finally regained his balance and drew back from Vince with dignity. “Well, don’t worry, sir! I won’t trouble you any longer with my attentions. My God – last night, for a second I even thought I was in love with you!” He snarled his lip in disgust. “I must have been desperate!”

“Yes, you were,” said Vince, bluntly.

Howard winced.

“You reek of it, Howard. That’s why you don’t get any. All the girls smell your desperation. It’s like a tightly clenched haddock.”

“I see,” replied Howard, his voice full of sarcasm. “And a bit of kissing from you would loosen right me up?”

“Yes! Exactly!” Vince’s face broke out in an encouraging smile. “Look how it’s worked out already! Just one kiss from me, and ten minutes later – Boom! You’ve got yourself a girlfriend – and a real one, too! Am I wrong?”

“Perhaps…” admitted Howard, despite himself.

“Of course I’m right! Don’t go blowing it now – you’re on a winning streak! One hand goes here–” Vince took Howard’s hand and put it at the nape of his neck. Howard felt the bare skin underneath Vince’s long dark hair. “And the other–”

“Get off!” bristled Howard. He didn’t know quite how, but Vince’s logic seemed to have tied his brain up in knots. Besides, he reasoned, the sooner he did the kissing, the sooner all this would be over. “Here! At least let me do it my own way!” He brought up his other hand to Vince’s face. It felt warm and frighteningly soft. Gently, Howard stroked his thumb across the corner of Vince’s lower lip.

Instinctively, Vince’s mouth opened at the touch. He gasped. “Oh!”

Howard leant in. Something glowed in his eyes. “Okay. You sure you’re ready?”

Vince whispered, “Just shut up and kiss.”

Even sitting side by side, Howard’s greater height was obvious. But as he bent down, Howard’s greater bulk seemed to gather Vince up almost like a doll.

Vince’s eyes were open – their expression almost scared – right until the moment their lips met. Then, as Howard’s mouth met his, Vince tilted his head back and closed his eyes. His lashes shadowed long against his skin.

Vince found himself forced onto his back, lengthways against the roof. Howard’s heavy body was on top, practically pinning Vince down, Howard’s tongue everywhere at once, kissing like a demon. In surprise, Vince found himself gasping, trying hard just to keep up. He hadn’t expected his awkward, jazz-freak old Howard to be as raw as this. He was dominating Vince like a yoyo on a string – and Vince was surprised to actually be enjoying it. At least, the sudden reaction in his underpants was.

Howard licked along Vince’s lower lip and dove back into his mouth. Vince shuddered and groaned, catching Howard’s warm tongue with the tip of his, feeling Howard’s body pressing solidly on top of his. They shifted – and suddenly Vince felt it – the answering hardness to his own. Vince threw back his head and groaned in a rush of pleasure.

However, Howard’s expression had flashed with something more like panic. “No!” he gasped, trying to push away from Vince.

In response, Vince grabbed Howard back, pushing his hips up, brushing their mutual erections together. “No – yes…” he said, dreamily.

“No!” shouted Howard. He shoved himself back up, away from Vince, and sat there, panting hard and with his head turned away. After a long while, he brought himself to half-look at Vince. Cautiously, Howard asked, “So. Was that okay, then? Do you think she’ll like me kissing her like that?”

Vince was sitting with his legs drawn up and his arms wrapped round protectively, the same way he had been at the start.

“Vince?” asked Howard. “Vince… You alright?”

No reply.

“Aren’t you supposed to be chucking me now?” said Howard.

Vince gave a small, pitiful sniff. “Howard? I think I… I don’t want to chuck you just yet. It won’t be long,” he added, hastily. Just five minutes. I’ll chuck you in five minutes – really I will. I just want five more minutes being your… Is that okay?”

Howard looked worried. “Do I have to do anything?”

“No, no!” Vince reassured him. “You can just sit there! And I swear – I’ll chuck you really soon.” Burying his face, Vince gave a muffled – “Please?”

“Oh – come here,” said Howard, moving across and wrapping his arms around Vince’s skinny little form. Vince laid his head on Howard’s shoulder and began to shudder with sobs.

“You’re crazy, you know that?” said Howard. “You never wanted me before. Ten years and not a flicker. So suddenly, I have a girlfriend and now you’re interested. What’s that all about?”

“Dunno,” sniffled Vince.

Howard kissed Vince gently on the forehead, just between the eyebrows. “Come on now. You got over that jumpsuit disaster. You’ll get over this.”

“P’raps.” Vince snuggled against Howard’s chest.

“Sure you will. Feeling better?”

Vince smiled slightly. “Yeah.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“Just one more minute. I’ll be ready to chuck you then. Howard. But–”


“If ever I want to… chuck you… again – will you come up onto the roof and let me?”

Howard sighed. “Well. Let’s wait and see, shall we?”

And as the traffic below ebbed and flowed, two men on the roof of a Dalston shop broke up with each other quite amicably, made their way down through a small roof window and, together and apart, wandered into the rest of their lives.

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