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This was not how Vince had envisioned spending his Valentine’s Day. He’s lying on his bed, arms and legs sprawled out to the sides, staring at the ceiling. He’s an absolute wreck. The floor isn’t much better. Crayons, glitter, and construction paper scraps are everywhere. It looks like a Kindergarten craft corner was hit by a hurricane.

Vince is in love with Howard.

It’s a startling fact. A fact that, upon really close reconsideration, shouldn’t be all that startling, but it is. All it took to realize this was a stupid Valentine.

It had started out innocently enough. Vince had gathered his craft supplies and snuck into the bedroom while Howard was at his Jazzercise class. He was going to make a Valentine and send it anonymously. The ensuing fallout of Howard parading around over having a secret admirer/agonizing about who it could be, would have been enough to keep Vince entertained for days. He had even spent an absurd amount of time styling it to suit Howard’s jazzy beige tastes, while still keeping it rather fashionable.

When it came to the message, however, he was stuck. He’d always been rubbish at poetry, especially any kind that Howard would like, so he’d decided to go with a compliment.

‘Even though it looks like a mocha stain, you look really good with a moustache.’
‘Your taste in music is awful, but the way you dance when you think no one is watching is genius.’
'Though it shouldn’t be possible, you manage to really work mud colored corduroy.’
‘I love crimping with you.’

It was the last one that did it. After just five minutes of thinking of stupid things he could compliment Howard on, it hits him. His mind is a quick flash montage of moments he and Howard have had together, all the smiles, laughs, little arguments, light hesitant touches, and lying in the dark crimping like no one else in the whole history of the world has ever done…just them.

Vince Noir is in love with Howard TJ Moon.

Head over Cuban heeled boots in love.

The sudden influx of emotions gave him a whole new insight into the phrase ‘hit me like a ton of bricks’, because that’s exactly what it feels like. He staggered to his feet, let out a huge breath, and flopped onto his bed, where he’s been ever since.

How in the name of all that is Glam did he miss this? How did he not know? His single brain cell is working overtime as he tries to work it out. But for all the progress he’s making, it might as well be astrophysics.

That train of thought is quickly abandoned for one that’s definitely more Howard based. He wonders vaguely if he’ll ever have one that’s NOT Howard based ever again…because Howard is…

“I love you, Vince.”
The tundra.

“The deep, powerful, molten sexual tension that's been brewing up between us!”
Oh GOD, the roof. That one gets a whole lot of sensations going now that new ‘love’ thoughts have been added to the mix.

Vince’s eyes go wide as those events replay over and over in his head. Has Howard really been in love with him this whole time? Does Howard feel like this every day? Vince groans, thinking of possibly going through YEARS of this. No wonder Howard’s always going on about poetry and depressing cinema and slow boring music. It feels awful…YEARS, his mind supplies unhelpfully once again.

He allows himself to wallow in misery for a few minutes more before launching off of the bed. His art supplies go flying and he feels a stab of guilt when he thinks about what he had been planning to do. But it passes. Now, it’s time for action. Howard can claim to be the go-to guy in the duo, but Vince knows better.
Vince is not going to become all depressed and let his hair go flat and start wearing clothes in various shades of muffin. Even though that thought conjures up that rather disgustingly charming brown cardigan Howard had put on that morning, causing a dopy grin to plaster on his face.
No. There’s no time for that. Vince Noir is going to get this whole business sorted out once and for all. Sliding on a pair of silver Winklepickers, he heads out the door, trying his hardest to ignore just how hard his heart is beating.

 

-oOo-

 

A few hours later, Vince stands with his hands on his hips, surveying his work. Deciding to go big or go home, he had bought dozens of tiger lilies (the orange and brownish red colors had reminded him of Howard) and had put them all over the bedroom. He had changed into a pair of red drain pipes and a billowy black shirt, accessorizing with a simple long string of pearls. He had also spent an absurdly long time trying to figure out the best shape to be pulling on the bed when Howard walked in. The whole set-up was so perfect that, had anyone else in Dalston seen it, they’d faint outright from sheer lust. Oh yes, this was going to be genius.

He had just settled on laying half back on Howard’s bed with his most ‘come hither’ expression plastered on his face, when he heard Howard scatting as he came up the stairs. Heart leaping into his throat, he ran his hands through his hair and leaned back.

Just outside the door, the scatting paused as Howard sneezed. ‘Vince?’ he called out. ‘What’s that smell?’

The doorknob seems to take forever to rotate. Vince lowers his chin, gazing at the door from beneath his fringe. The door swings open and Howard walks in, hair frizzy from trying to brush it after he got sweaty in class, he looks about the room for all of ten seconds before being overcome with sneezes.

Vince doesn’t even get a chance to say anything before Howard starts trying to fight out words between each sneeze. ‘Vince…what’s…why are…I’m allergic to…’ he drops his duffle bag and bolts down the hallway.

Vince is left staring at an empty door way, everything’s taking a while to catch up with him. He rushes out after Howard and finds him standing in the kitchen blowing his nose into a paper towel. His beady little eyes are watering and his nose has gone all red.

‘Wab onderth wad dattabowd?’

‘What?’

Howard blows his nose. ‘What on earth was that about? You know I’m allergic to lilies!’

Vince’s heart sinks. ‘I didn’t! I just-‘

Howard sneezes again and groans. ‘Just get rid of them yeah? I’m gonna have to head over to Lester’s until this all,’ he gestures at his face. ‘Clears up.’

Vince grabs him by his sleeve. ‘No! Don’t go! I mean, don’t you…this was all…’ the words seemed to be backed up in his throat. Howard just raises an eyebrow as he gently extracts his arm from Vince’s grip.

‘I’ll be back in an hour or two, yeah?’ he sniffs and heads down the stairs.

Vince waits until the door shuts before stomping off to the bedroom and scooping up arms of flowers and tossing them, with no small amount of frustration, out of the window into the alley below.

 

-oOo-

 

When Howard returns the second time, Vince is slouched on the sofa watching MTV. He’s miserable again. He’s not sure when things had decided to go topsy turvy. Since when did his plans of wooing go awry? God…maybe being in love with Howard is somehow cursing him with the other’s bad luck? His frown deepens. Both of them being hopeless in the romance department isn’t going to get them anywhere.

‘Alright there, Vince?’ Howard asks as he sits down on the opposite end of the sofa.

The single empty cushion between them feels like miles.

‘Yeah.’

There’s a beat of silence before Howard clears his throat. Vince knows the sound instantly, he can categorize all of Howard’s sounds, all of his movements…he wants to smack himself in the face for letting it get this bad without him ever noticing. Howard is about to be awkward at him and Vince really doesn’t think he can deal with it at the moment without just jumping up and screaming: ‘DON’T BOTHER YAMMERING ON AT ME. I LOVE YOU ALREADY YOU MUPPET!’

‘So,’ Howard begins. ‘You’re staying in tonight then?’

Vince chews at his thumb nail. ‘Planning on it…why?’

Howard shrugs and Vince can feel his anxious squirming through the springs on the couch. ‘Er, you know…no reason. Just thought you might because of, well, what day it is and it’s your kind of thing I suppose.’

Vince continues to gnaw on his thumb. ‘Yeah, well, I had plans but they didn’t quite work out.’

‘Ah.’ Silence falls for a moment more and Howard rubs at the back of his neck. ‘So what were all the flowers about?’ His voice sounds oddly strained, as though he’s trying to bring some levity into the stilted conversation.

‘They was the plan.’

Howard turns to look at him, eyebrows furrowed. Vince sinks a bit more into the sofa.

‘Your plan was to fill the bedroom with flowers?’ Howard asks, as if that, of all the crazy arse things they’ve been through, is the most ridiculous of all.

Vince huffs out a sigh and rolls his eyes. ‘They were for you,’ he mumbles.

Howard’s eyebrows go lower, any more, Vince thinks, and they’re in danger of shutting his tiny eyes completely. ‘They…they were for me?’

‘Yeah, I didn’t know you was allergic, I swear!’ Vince looks over to the side from under his fringe.

Howard nods, face slowly morphing into a look of concern. ‘Okay…but, lacking knowledge of my pollen allergies aside, why in the world did you buy me flowers?’

Vince takes a deep steadying breath. Howard looks at him as though he may explode…Vince thinks he might. ‘I had started out making you a Valentine and that was well dumb because it was gonna be anonymous, which I decided would've been real mean and then I realized that I should do somethin’ well grand and romantic so I got flowers and laid out all seductive like waitin’ for you to come home and then you got all sneezy and allergic and buggered off to Lester’s and I’m just really, really in love with you Howard.’

The words rush out and when he finishes, he takes another deep breath and his body relaxes completely. There it was, finally out in the open.

Howard is staring at him blankly. 'I'm sorry?'

He doesn't say it as though he's sorry because he needs it repeated. Oh no, not Howard. Howard has to go and give the most awkward English male response he can muster. He's actually apologizing as if Vince being in love with him is his fault. It makes him at least 10 times more endearing and Vince decides that, yes, it kind of is his fault if he's going to go around pulling stunts like that. He really needs to kiss him.

'Can I kiss you, Howard?'

Howard's eyebrows shoot up and he shrinks into himself. 'What?'

Vince is already moving across the couch, taking the lack of an immediate 'no' as a good sign. His knees are pressing up against Howard's thigh when he asks again. 'Can I kiss you? 'Cause I really, really want to.'

Beady brown eyes dart quickly around the room before coming to an uneasy rest on Vince's face. 'But no one's trying to kill you…'

Vince shakes his head. 'No, but that doesn't make it any less excitin' though, does it?'

Howard mumbles 'no' as if he's in a daze, his eyes finally coming to rest on Vince's lips.

It takes all of Vince's self control not to grin like an absolute idiot as he leans in towards Howard, bringing their lips together. He's immediately filled with warmth that he completely missed the first time this happened. The kiss only lasts a moment however before Vince pulls back and shifts until he's straddling Howard's waist. Howard is still staring.

'Was that okay?'

Howard blinks and shakes his head slightly to get rid of his daze. 'You kissed me.'

That earns him a giggle. 'Yeah, I did and I'm gonna do it again.' Vince rests his hands on Howard's shoulders, rubbing them down slowly to his chest then back again. 'This time you should kiss back.'

The words seem to snap Howard out of it, just as Vince leans back in again. Howard is definitely trying this time. He's actually a decent kisser, a fact for which Vince hums happily into his mouth. His arms though, are kind of doing this weird sort of orchestra conducting movement at his sides, as though he's not entirely sure where to place them.

Vince takes charge, grabbing him by the wrists and placing Howard's hands daringly onto his own arse. Howard gasps and reflexively grips down causing Vince to moan low in his throat. Both of their mouths now open allows for much more interesting kissing. The feeling of tongue on tongue makes Vince squirm in Howard's lap, the movement making him acutely aware of the heat now building between them.

Things escalate quickly from there. Vince is rather surprised at just how naturally Howard seems to be picking things up, though he's certainly not complaining. A few sloppy kisses and some fumbling later and he's moaning into Howard's neck as Howard wraps one of those big Northern hands around their cocks.

The feeling is unbelievable. It's much better than any action he's ever got before and he wonders if it's because of Howard. When the thought hits him, he lets out a loud moan, thrusting up into Howard's tight grip. Howard's hand…he's actually doing this with Howard. His mind goes through another one of those quick montages and he can barely believe this is happening. Hell, just hours ago, he'd have laughed it off if anyone suggested that this would happen. But it is and right now, he, Vince Noir, is getting the hand job of his life from Howard TJ Moon.

It is beyond amazing.

Howard is panting against his ear as his hand keeps moving in a steady rhythm over their skin; the other is rubbing hot circles over Vince's arse.

Vince feels his orgasm building far too quickly for his liking. 'Howard,' he pants, planning on asking him to slow down just a bit. But, as soon as he hears his name, Howard lets out a growl and tightens the grip of both of his hands possessively.

Vince yelps at the action, officially too far gone to do anything but thrust wantonly into Howard's hand. He repeats Howard's name over and over like a mantra. At the moment he's fairly certain he's forgotten his own.

That is until a hot breath whispers, 'Oh god, Vince', against his ear.

That's all it takes. With a final thrust, Vince throws his head back, spilling onto Howard's hand. Howard's grip is slick as he squeezes their cocks a few more times before following, letting out a gasping breath and flinging his head to the back of the sofa.

They're silent for a moment as they catch their breaths. Vince runs a hand tiredly through Howard's hair, pressing a kiss to his forehead before Howard grips him tight and hides his head against his chest. Vince feels the warmth of Howard's breath against his chest and hears him mumble out words.

'What was that?' he asks.

Howard pulls back slightly, resting his forehead on Vince's collar bone and still breathing fast. 'I love you too, Vince. I do, so much.'

In any other circumstance, Vince would probably have joked about sentiments not meaning much after an amazing wank. But he doesn't. He can't however, stop a breathless little giggle. 'Thanks for that…I was wonderin' how I was going to go about asking if you still did.'

Howard finally sits back to look at him. 'What do you mean, 'still did'?'

'I dunno,' Vince shrugs. 'I suppose 'cause I never really took you seriously about it…so maybe you stopped.'

'I never stopped. Probably never will either, despite my better judgment.'

'Oi!' Vince hits him playfully on the shoulder, but Howard just tugs him tighter.

'And of course you never took me seriously, everyone knows I'm the serious one, see this is my serious face,' he pulls a look that makes him appear vaguely constipated. Vince can't help but laugh. 'And you, I don't think you can be serious if someone hit you with a speed boat made of serious-ness.'

'Yeah…you're probably right.' Vince replies, running his hand through Howard's hair again and loving the fact that he's now allowed to do so.

'So, what exactly was this big epiphany that made your one brain cell finally come to terms with the fact that I, Man of Action and Jazz Maverick, am irresistible? You kind of rambled it at me before.'

'I was trying to make you some ridiculous beige Valentine as a joke, but whatever. I think things turned out way better. Things turned out genius, actually.' He says, leaning in for a kiss.

Howard hums in agreement and kisses him back.