“Hey Howard?” A sharp elbow nudges Howard's ribs through his coat.
“You reckon the moon can see us?”
When Howard turns to Vince, he sees him with his head tilted towards the sky, and his arm outstretched, fingertips tracing the outline of the creme circle that bathe them in soft light - sadly filtered out by the harsh blaring orange that fell from the passing streetlamps. A warm smile tugs at his whisky stained lips, loving and kind as they link their arms, and Howard guides Vince, who stumbles alcohol-fueled in Cuban heels as he refuses to pull his gaze from the shining moon in the deep night sky.
Vince grins drunkenly up at the moon, and greets him hello with a wave. For a moment, his eyes blur, and he swears he sees him smiling back.
“What do you think he’s thinking?”
Wow, Tom Selleck's wife has really let herself go
Howard laughs sharply when Vince gives him a rough shove, any hint of real anger filtered out by the joyous laugh that erupts from the boy.
“Shut up, you nonce! I’m well fit!”
“That you are, Vince Noir.” Howard slips.
Vince giggled slightly, leaning into Howards side with their arms still linked and Howards large hands shoved in to his pockets.
“Hah, that rhymed.”
Tiny eyes roll in their sockets, and Howard mumbles a response.
“You really are entertained by anything.”
The walk back to Vince’s flat is quiet; living comfortably in the silence of the night, hearing only the others breaths and uneven footsteps as they walked. Vinces home isn’t far, but they draw the walk out by turning down streets they don’t need to and stopping every so often so that Vince can fix the zip on his boots or check his hair out in a car window. Howard doesn’t mind, if anything he’s happy because more streets to walk down means more time with Vince, and Howard would give his right leg to spend every waking moment with the boy.
Well, maybe not every waking moment. Maybe just most of them. And maybe not his right leg, probably just the third and fourth finger on his left hand. He might need that leg the next time he’s on the run from his divorced man-fish wife(?).
The pathway leading to the youngers door is in sight, smooth concrete transitioning to cobbled stone, and Howard feels Vinces grip around his arm tighten, a clear sign that he’s not yet ready to leave. Their feet slow, as if walking slower will add hours to their trip, but it takes them three more minutes, and Howard is courteously opening the gate to Vince’s home and allowing his companion to walk through. Vince curtseys graciously, and the elder is chuckling as he pats his arse as a sign of ‘ hurry up and move ’.
“Tonight was nice.”
Vince says that every time Howard walks him home. Ever since those six weeks Howard left him to work with that Jurgen Haabemaaster guy, Vince has learned to appreciate the time he spends with the jazz freak, because he won’t always be there to look after his careless arse.
Even if it’s the middle of the afternoon, or early in the morning, even if the night was shit and they’d almost burned to death or died in some sort of supernatural mishap, Vince will let those words slip past his lips followed by that same coy smile that Howard fell head over heels for all those years ago. And Howard would chuckle, and bring his hand up to push stray hairs back into place on Vinces head.
“Yeah, it was.”
“Do you need to go?” Pouting, Vince whined childishly and leans his back against his front door. Howard smiles sadly, and nods, noticing the drop in Vince’s attitude since they reached his home.
Bidding farewell was always the hardest part.
It brings Vince back to those moments outside the shop, in front of a waiting cab, where he and Howard stood and acted as if two months wasn’t a long time, and lied about missing one another. In reality, Vince wanted to jump Howard, look him in his tiny eyes and tell him he loved him before launching himself into a kiss. But he settled for an awkward hug that was made awkward both by Howards rolling case that slotted between their legs, and the fact that the cab driver was awful impatient and yelling at the Northerner in an angered Cockney accent that sent Howard spiralling back into the depths of purgatory.
“Got to work tomorrow Vince. Besides, you need your beauty sleep.”
“You tryna say I’m ugly?”
Vince is standing with a hand on his hip, all camp-like and his brows are raised and confrontational. Flicking some hair from his eyes, Howard shakes his head and laughs at the site.
“You’re anything but, Vince.”
Vinces hands come up to fix the collar of Howards coat, palms smoothing out the material of the breast pocket and fingers tugging up the parts that has turned down. Vince was forever fussing with Howards clothes, even if he thought they were the ugliest items he’d ever witnessed, they deserved to at least look good on Howard. Even if they didn’t fit, they could still be somewhat presentable. Secretly, Vince has been taking in the legs of Howard’s cords every now and then, and nipping in the waists of his shirts to give his senior somewhat of a figure. Howard was blind to the fact.
“Your coats all wonky.”
Hands come up to rest on Vinces own, bringing them down from Howards collar and holding them loosely between the two. Howard is hot, his palms sweating with Vinces fingers ice cold between his own. Crystal eyes glow in the beauty of the midnight moon, that reflects nothing but love and admiration in pools of cyan.
“I don’t want you to go, ‘Oward.”
“Vince, I have to.”
Vince pouts, as if it’s the last time he’ll see Howard for months, when in reality he’ll be at his front door in the morning with some painkillers and fresh homemade tea in his favourite of Howards mugs before he leaves for work in the morning. But still, it breaks Vinces drunken little heart to see his best friend leave.
He doesn’t understand why they seperated flats anyways. Yeah, the Nabootique went under and they got kicked out by the landlord, but Vince was happy living with Howard. It didn’t matter that they had to share a bedroom. He enjoyed the lack of space between them, the constancy of the elders presence and the constant smell of Howard that tainted the place; eventually to be overridden by Vince’s cucumber shampoo and Root Booster scent. The flat above the Nabootique held so many memories, each room so special.
The living room; where carpets lay stained from the many a flick of a joint quickly shared between Naboo, Bollo and Vince, sometimes even Howard, and where vases remain broken from the infamous satsuma fights that were often has at 2am.
The kitchen reeking of hash and chocolate when Bollo almost set the place on fire and Naboo had to put it out before Howard killed the both of them for scorching the counter. Cupboards hiding secret compartments constructed by the shaman who feared his wreckless friends finding his wizard stuff and the fridge holding hilariously tame potions in vibrant colours labelled “DO NOT DRINK” in the hopes that Vince will ignore the label and chug the bottle anyways. It almost always happened.
Vince and Howards bedroom was still a wreck, even after moving out. Unfinished crimps still dwell, dying out after the two fell asleep, lingering along with the dusted memories of their midnight arguments over what record they’d fall asleep to. Their shared bathroom tiles were scudded and scuffed with Vinces heels and the mirrors were plastered with hairspray stains and mascara smudges. Lighter patches of the walls shine from where Howard blu-tacked up photos of many of the jazz greats, and holes remain from Vinces use of board pins in crumbling concrete to hold up his boas and obscene, gaudy fabrics that added “feng shui” to the place.
Even the roof held special memories in Vinces heart. He thinks back to that fleeting moment spent up there, fear of being killed by the Head Shaman for not-actually-getting off with his wife, and the adrenaline for doing what he’s always wanted to do by snogging Howard under the stars, and he’s blurting out;
Vince doesn’t know what he’s saying. Well, he does, he knows exactly what he’s saying, just not why he’s chosen this moment to say it. He’s had that line rehearsed in his head for months, years even, since way before that rushed kiss on the roof tiles, just never knowing when the right time to say it was.
Apparently, his alcohol fueled brain cell decided it was now.
Howards eyes are wide when Vince comes out from his own thoughts, as wide as his tiny shrimp eyes can get, and Vince is worried he will run.
Shit, he thinks, Vince you’re an idiot.
“I’m, I’m sorry?” Confusion taints Howards tongue.
“Kiss me. Please ‘Oward. Want you to kiss m-”
Howard doesnt need to be asked twice. Except he does, because the first time he was asked, all of the bones in his body fused together and no longer was their soft trumpets and clarinets playing in his mind. It was just a double bass, being plucked at walking place and getting faster and faster, its low tone never changing and suspenseful.
Soon enough, large Northern hands are in raven locks, guiding Vinces cherry lips to his own and wrapping their bodies together in a warm embrace. Howards lips are soft, a surprising contrast to the gruff scratch of his moustache against the youngers top lip, and the combination has an overwhelming surge of something running down Vince’s back.
All the times he’s imagined this moment of kissing Howard again - every night hardly alone with his drainpipes at his boots from behind the screen that separates the roommates with the image of Howard’s hands clouded in his head or every waking morning as he daydreams over herbal teas with his hair in a towel and a pleasant look on his face - suddenly are no comparison to the real thing. They are nothing but mediocre fantasies that are outweighed wholly by the real feeling of Howards tongue tracing his bottom lip, or the elders large hands in his product-heavy hair.
It’s better than Vince could ever imagine. It’s far better than that time on the roof.
Howard thinks so too.
Slow, and deliberate, are Howards actions, taking one hand and running it softly down Vinces cheek, resting at his jaw whilst the other tugs at the short hairs at the back of his slim neck. Vince is in a state of pure ecstacy, clouded by pineapple juice and vodka and the taste of whisky that coats Howards tongue.
There’s the opening of a window, and the closing of a car door somewhere in the street, and the two are made completely aware of the fact that it’s far late into the evening and they’re in public, hands in each others hair and cheeks ablaze with flustered passion, like a bunch of rowdy teens.
Howard springs back, running his hands down his coat as so to hide the fact that he’d just acted on every feeling for Vince he’s ever suppressed. They’re embarrassed, and scared, but somehow they’re comfortable because both have a feeling that it won’t be the last time they make out on Vince’s doorstep like that.
“Eleanor is watching from her window.”
Vince comments, peering over Howard’s shoulders (which he doubts he’d be able to do if he didn’t have the advantage of standing two steps above him) to the house across the street where the nosy scarved woman is poking her head through her blinds and looking on approvingly. Howard chuckles - out of nerves or amusement he doesn’t know - and runs his hands over the now imperfectly places locks on Vince.
Dishevelled looks good on him, even if he complains in the morning over the phone about resembling a disgruntled peacock. (Howard will hit back with a “you always look like a disgruntled peacock”, and receive an over-the-phone pillow to the face).
“Well, we gave her an alright show, didn’t we?”
“Alright? It was genius !”
Vince is giggling, and grinning from ear to ear as he swoops in and leaves a soft peck on Howard’s cheek.
“Alright, little man. That’s enough action for you tonight. Get yourself to bed.”
Howard is fixing the hem of the shirt Vince wears and pats his shoulder lovingly. His face falls.
“Do you really have to go ‘Oward?”
“Quit acting like you’re never going to see me again. I only live down the road.”
“No buts, little man. Get yourself inside. I’ll come round tomorrow, yeah?”
Vince nods contentedly, and smiles with his eyes sparkling vibrant blue.
He is so in love.
Keys are fished from unnaturally shallow pockets and pushed shakily into the lock in Vinces front door. He twists, and the lock clicks, pushing the door to reveal his dimly lit hallway. There seems to be no sign of burglars or scary Cockney men with canes threatening to cut him into little pieces, because the house is still and settled, and comfortably cold. They nod at one another, a sign of ‘I’ll see you soon’, and Howard trudges down the path, leaving his companion for the night,
He turns on his heels, and finds Vince still in the doorway.
“What do you think the moon is saying now?”
Howards expression is taken over by a wholehearted grin and a soft loving laugh.
“Probably that Tom Selleck’s wife should be getting to bed, because she looks tired and Tom Selleck is worried she’ll spend the whole night waiting for him to get home.”
“Alright, alright, fine I’ll go to bed.”
Vince takes another step back into his hallway, but his body still rests against the open door with his hand clutching the handle. Howard sighs, and smiles.
And they part ways, both grinning, and thinking only of the other and that spectacular moment they just shared together.
The moon is smiling too, and mumbling happily about how Tom Selleck and his wife really resemble Vince Noir and Howard Moon.