Howard couldn’t have left Vince alone on the Tundra all night, could he?


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Untitled by phoon

Howard hunched down, pulling his coat tighter around him, and warming his hands over the little stove in the tent. Outside, he could hear Vince humming a tune to himself, a Gary Numan song probably. Howard harrumphed to himself, Vince deserved to be on watch. He had almost had it! The location of the Egg! He, Howard Moon, would be famous, be on the front of a magazine! Of, oh he could imagine it, Global Explorer! If only Vince hadn‘t….

“Howard?” A plaintive voice could be heard beneath the harsh wind battering the side of the tent.

Howard glared at the stove. No, it didn’t matter how pitiful he sounded. He’d lost Howard the final words of Biggy Shackleton. The final piece to the puzzle. It would have changed his life! Their lives!

It was quiet outside now, and Howard found himself reaching for the zip on the tent.

“No.” He pulled his hand back and gripped his coat tight.

Maybe he should check on Vince. Maybe he’d fallen asleep? It was dangerous in the Arctic. And he was only wearing that ridiculous ski suit. Howard peered at the tent flap, trying to make out Vince’s silhouette through the fabric.

He forced his gaze back to the stove. He had to focus. Vince had pissed him off, and Howard Moon didn’t take things like this lightly! No, he was Howard Moon, man of Action!

But Vince was all alone. Outside. In the snow. Wearing the fabric relative of a coke can.

“Come on Howard, focus!” He rubbed his hands together. “Got to plan the expedition! The Egg of Mantumbi can be found in the cave of…”

It wasn’t really Vince’s fault his phone had rung. Though how he’d got reception in the arctic…?

Howard looked at the tent flap again, fidgeting with the frayed edges of his fingerless gloves.

Sighing, he forced himself to move, tugging the zip of the tent down enough to stick his head through. “Vince?”

Vince was asleep where he sat, head dropped and hands folded in his lap. The pink hat he was wearing had slipped forward a little and nearly covered his eyes. Howard sighed gently, undid the tent flap fully and crawled out.

“Vince.” He shook Vince’s shoulder lightly, “Vince, wake up.”

“Hma?” Vince looked up, eyes still a little glazed from sleep, and peered blearily at Howard. “Howard?”

“Yeah. Come on.” He crawled forward a little more on his knees and gently took hold of Vince’s arm.

“I’m really sorry Howard.”

“Yeah, lets… let’s just forget about that, shall we?” Vince’s lips were chapped slightly. Howard reached up with his free hand to tug the hat back a bit. “Come on, we need to get warm.”

“I was thinking, Howard.” Vince was saying as he followed Howard in the tent, “we don’t need those last words! I mean, we can just ask for directions or something. I think I saw a polar bear, he’ll know where it is!”

“You can’t ask a polar bear for directions, Vince.”

“Sure we can. I can talk to animals!” Howard zipped the tent back up as Vince huddled close to the stove, cupping his hands around his mouth and blowing on them.

“I know, you’re Mowgli in flares.”

Howard sat next to Vince, sighing as he pulled the coat around him and brushed the snowflakes from his moustache.

“I don’t think he’ll mind. He seemed quite laidback.” Vince sat back, and wrapped his arms around his

“Polar bears aren’t laidback, Vince. They’re wild creatures. They’re vicious animals.”

“Whatever.” Vince shivered, tightening his grip around his knees. “Doesn’t this get any hotter?” He shuffled a little closer to the stove.

“Watch it! Your boots are getting in the fire!” He reached forward and grabbed Vince’s arm, tugging him closer towards him.

“What’re you doing?”

It wasn’t much of a complaint, as Vince got the hint and crawled the short distance to Howard’s side.

“We could share body heat.”

“Body heat?” Vince grinned up at Howard, wrapping one arm around Howard’s and snuggling against the soft fur coat.

“Yeah. Old survival technique, Vince.” Howard found himself leaning back against Vince. “Its like… penguins.” Vince looked up, smiling gently.

“Penguins? Cool.”

“Yeah. The penguin, they’re smart animals Vince. They huddle together for warmth…” Vince giggled quietly, and laid his head back on Howard’s arm. “And…” He trailed off when he realised Vince had closed his eyes.

He had just started to doze off when he felt Vince move, pressing against his side and gripping his arm a little tighter.

“Vince?” He whispered, hearing a quiet ‘mph’ in response. Sighing gently, he disentangled his arm from Vince’s clutches and slid it around his shoulders, pulling him close. Vince smiled in his sleep, turning his body to press against Howard, and resting his head on Howard’s shoulder. Howard fell asleep feeling Vince’s warm breath gusting over his cheek.

Warm hands sliding up his chest and then a body settling against him woke Howard up the second time. He sighed happily, automatically wrapping his arms around whatever it was and holding it close.

Then he realised there was only one other person out here in the arctic with him. Other than the dead frozen guy, freaky Innuit legend Black Frost and maybe a polar bear.

“Vince?” His voice came out higher pitched than he intended.

“Its alright Howard, it’s me.” A hairy lump appeared in his line of sight, then Vince’s smiling face, looking a little warmer now. “I’m just getting in your coat with you. Its huge! Bet you can get the whole zoo in here! Well, maybe not Bollo, he’s been piling on the pounds lately. Not that that’s a bad thing, he’s got the body structure for it.”


Vince chuckled, ducking back out of Howard’s vision, and Howard felt him stretch out against him again and tug the edges of the coat around them. He could feel the warmth, even through his layers of clothes.

“You know Howard, I think we’re gonna be fine.” Howard looked up at the tent, wondering how exactly he came to be lying on his back.

“Oh yeah? What brings you to that conclusion, Holmes?”

Vince shrugged, fiddling with the buttons on Howard’s outer shirt. “Just got a good feeling about things.”

Howard closed his eyes, as Vince squirmed against him, working one of his legs between Howard’s and slipping one hand underneath the shirt where he’d just unbuttoned it.

They lay in silence for a while, the only sound the wind whistling against the tent, and their breathing.



He felt Vince move, pushing himself up to look Howard in the face. Vince was smiling, an odd look in his eyes, and Howard felt his breathing hitch a little. He wet his lips quickly.

“Is… Is something wrong?” He stuttered, even as Vince leant forward…

To lay his head on Howard’s shoulder, pressing his face into his neck, and settle his body back down against him.

Howard let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding, only to gasp as fingers stroked slowly along his jaw.

“Vince? What… What are you doing?”

“Hm, I’m keeping warm Howard. Like penguins.”

“Penguins… generally speaking, don’t… stroke each others faces.”

The fingers stilled, the forefinger resting lightly just on the corner of Howard’s mouth.

“Oh. Do you want me to stop?”

“No.” Howard squeaked, clearing his throat quickly, and feeling Vince smile against his neck. “I mean, if it’s a… A comfort thing. ‘Cause, the Arctic’s a scary… dangerous place. Vince. Touch, human touch, can….”

“Yeah, it’s a comfort thing.” The fingers continued their exploration, sliding along his lips, parting them, before sliding back up and along his cheek.

“Well, that’s… alright then. I suppose…” The fingers stopped at his hairline, moving to cup his cheek and slid down to rest back on his jaw line. The thumb slowly stroked across his bottom lip. “Vince…”

“Still comfort, Howard. You’ve very comforting, you know that?”

“Comforting? Oh, thanks! I’m a man of action, Vince! I’m an explorer! An intellectual, with a dark side! Dark side of the moon, Vince, that’s me! I’m a crazy man, I’m not… comforting!” Howard turned his head away from Vince, frowning.

“Well, I find you quite comforting Howard. But, you know, that’s cos I’m your friend right? Everyone back at the zoo, they’re terrified of you!” He gripped Howard’s chin and turned his head to face him, propping himself up on his elbow. “‘Mad Moon’ they call you! You’re the man, Howard!”

Howard narrowed his eyes, meeting Vince’s gaze for a moment before looking away. Vince’s hand moved back to his jaw, thumb resting back on Howard’s bottom lip.

“Well. You’re a very lucky man, Vince.” Howard stared up at the tent.

“Don’t I know it.”

Howard smiled slightly, but Vince nuzzling behind his ear quickly turned it into a startled laugh.

“Hey…” He gasped as Vince slowly worked his way down his neck, trailing small kisses back up to his jaw line. “Vince…” was all he could say, as closed mouth kisses were pressed along his jaw and up to his mouth

Vince stopped at the corner of his mouth, lips parted and warm breath making Howard’s lips tingle. The thumb still resting on Howard’s lips tugged down slightly, encouraging him to open his mouth a little further. Howard flicked his tongue out to wet his lips, catching both Vince’s thumb and bottom lip at the same time.

Vince’s breath hitched, and suddenly that mouth was on Howard’s, pressing him down hard onto the soft fur of his coat.

Howard moaned, reaching up to touch Vince’s arm gently, but Vince was running this show. One hand cupping his jaw, holding him in place, the other across his chest, grip tight in his shirt. He held Howard down with his entire body, one leg pressing insistently between Howard’s.

Vince kissed him hard, at first open mouthed and desperate, almost violent, until Howard relaxed under him. Then he slowed, the hard grip of his hand softening and now gentle fingers stroking his cheek. Unsure what to do with his hands, Howard slid one slowly up Vince’s back. He stroked Vince’s shoulder, moving his hand up to cup the back of his head, and spread his fingers through soft dark hair…

“Hey, don’t touch the hair!” Vince pulled away from him suddenly, Howard leaning up to keep the contact for as long as possible.

“Sorry, sorry.” Howard let his head fall back against the floor with a slight thud, missing the warmth of Vince’s hand on his face.

Vince smiled down at him, quickly running his fingers through his hair. Then he relaxed back down onto Howard’s body, bringing their faces closer together.

“You know, some bits of me are colder than others…” He grinned, softly taking hold of Howard’s hand and bringing it to his lips to brush a kiss against his fingertips.

“Well, I… You know me Vince, always… eager to help.”

Still grinning, Vince pulled Howard’s hand further down his body, finally coming to rest on the small of his back. Howard swallowed, trying to get himself to breathe again.

“You… Is that better?” Howard’s voice cracked a little on the last word, as he spread his fingers flat against the material, and slowly slid his hand down.

“Hm. Yeah, that’s better.” Vince arched his back slightly, made a satisfied ‘mmm’ sound and leant forward to gently nip at Howard’s lip. Smiling as Howard whimpered, Vince kissed him softly, licking along his bottom lip. Howard’s grip tightened, pulling Vince down hard against him, sliding his tongue over Vince’s, tasting him slowly.

Howard was vaguely aware, even as the hand on his face slid into his hair and tugged his head back sharply, that Vince was moving, pushing himself up. He tried to hold him down, but Vince just smiled against his lip, and slowly slid his leg over Howard’s, straddling his hips. He pulled away, leaving Howard gasping for breath, and grinned, sliding his hands down Howard’s chest and undoing the buttons on his shirt.

“What… What are you doing?” Howard squeaked as Vince leant down and bite down gently on his neck, then sucking softly.

“We’ve got too many clothes for what I had in mind.” Vince leered, having finally undone the bottom button, and was tugging Howard’s vest from his the hem of his trousers.

“Is this really the place for… this?”

“Yeah, why not? Its just you, me, in a tent… sharing body heat.” Howard whimpered again as Vince’s hand slid up his belly, thumb stroking small circles against his skin. “Brilliant idea, Howard.”

“Yeah, well… You know me, Vince. I…”

Vince leant down and licked at his bellybutton.

“Oh.” Howard closed his eyes, biting his lip to stop the moan as Vince shuffled further down, trailing his tongue down to the edge of his trousers.


“Don’t stop there… Vince. Vince!”

Vince giggled, resting his chin on Howard’s belly and grinning up at him.

“What are you doing? You can’t just stop there!” Vince looked down, smiling against Howard’s skin, and slid one hand slowly up Howard’s thigh to the zip. He undid the top button, agonizingly slowly and took hold of the zip, starting to tug it down…

The harsh beeps of ‘Cars’ suddenly echoed loudly around the tent. Vince visibly jumped, slamming his hand down on the phone flashing brightly on the ground next to them. Howard sat up jerkily, shuffling back a little way and staring disbelievingly as Vince quickly turned it off, blushing visibly even in the dim light of the stove.


“That’s it. Get out.” Howard quickly refastened his trousers and shirt, his movements short and angry.

“Howard? Come on Howard, it’s just… I’ve turned the sound off now.” Howard glared at him, grabbing the scarf from where it had been thrown to the ground and pulled it round his neck.

“Out! Now. You’re on watch.”

“Don’t be a muppet. I’ll be cold out there and you’ll be cold in here without me.” He leant forward, resting his weight on one hand, sliding the other up Howard’s shin. “And we can continue sharing body heat…. Right?”

“No.” Howard slapped his hand away, looking down and trying to figure out where his hat had gone.

“I’m sorry Howard.” Vince ducked his head, looking up at Howard through his eyelashes.

“Yeah? Couldn’t you have turned it off?”

“Turn it off? No-one turns my phone off. What if Lady Fame comes calling? And I didn’t have my phone on?”

“Was it Lady Fame just then?”

“No, it was Leroy.”

Howard finally found his hat, tugging it onto his head and reaching over to undo the tent flap.

“Howard?” A blast of cold air made them both grimace, and Vince looked imploringly at Howard. “You can’t be serious?”

Howard pressed Vince’s pink hat against his chest, and glared at him.

“It was only the phone!”

“It was Gary Numan!”

“And what’s wrong with Gary Numan?” Vince took the hat, but didn’t put it on.

“What’s wrong with him? He’s electro! It’s not even music!!

Vince gesticulated at him angrily, hat still in his hand, and one of the tassels hit Howard in the face.

“Not even music! It’s the musical pinnacle of the human race! And he owns a pilots license too! I bet Jack Cousteau didn’t have that!”

“John Coltrane! And you cant compare a Jazz genius to a monkey with a keyboard!”

Seemingly stuck for words, Vince pointed angrily at Howard. The other tassel hit Howard in the face.

“No-one says that about Gary Numan.” He narrowed his eyes and leant a little closer to Howard, pulling his hat on and then jabbing Howard painfully in the stomach with his finger. “And a monkey with a keyboard could play jazz better than you.”

Howard gaped at him, before placing a hand on Vince’s chest and shoving him back.

“You take that back.”

“With his eyes closed. And wearing oven gloves. And ear muffs.” Vince poked Howard in the chest with each sentence.

“You’ve gone too far now Vince.” Howard shook his head, glaring at Vince with what he hoped was angry disappointment. “Get out.”

Still glaring at Howard, Vince crawled to the open flap, stopping with one hand in the snow on the other side. He shivered visibly, turning his head to look out at the white expanse.

“Howard.” He said, his voice quiet and barely audible against the wind slapping against tent flaps. “I didn’t mean it. About the… The jazz thing.” Howard had to look away as Vince crawled out, hearing the tent flap being zipped back up.

Howard tugged the coat out from under him and pulled it on and around him. He glared at the stove for a while, waiting for sleep to come. But his body seemed to have different ideas. For one, it seemed to think that not having a Vince blanket was a terrible idea, and wouldn’t it be great if he was here and naked? Howard shook his head, cupping his hands round his mouth and blowing, trying to warm his fingers. And for another, there was this sort of… ache, inside his chest, that seemed to get a little worse when he glanced at the tent flap and saw the slumped silhouette outside.

He made a quick decision, pulled out the pan they had been using, and tugged the flask free from his backpack.

Vince was almost asleep, kneeling and his arms wrapped loosely round his waist. Howard sighed gently, placing the steaming plastic mug of tea next to him and poked Vince in the arm. Then he shuffled back as quickly as he could in the tent and zipped it up.

Howard waited until he saw the shape move slightly, lean forward and lean back, bringing a the cup to its mouth. Then he smiled, lay down and got himself comfy on the floor. He would apologise properly to Vince in the morning.

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