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October 23rd, 2007


[info]accio_arse10:17 am - BOOSHFIC: Truly, Madly Fishy 2/6
Title: Truly, Madly, Fishy, Part 2 of 6 - Sexual Behaviour of the Lesser Spurting Crab
Author: accio_arse
Rating: R
Word Count: This part 6700
Pairing: Howard/Old Gregg, Howard/Vince. Also appearing: Naboo, Bollo some mystical jellyfish and a lot of Hobnobs.
DISCLAIMER: The Boosh is not mine. I just worship at its webbed feet.
Beta thanks: to [info]gloriette60 [info]dark_safari and [info]taeli
Seriously, they did so much work, you wouldn’t believe.

Summary: Howard and Old Gregg. Alone in a bedroom with only one bed.

Part One: Because if you don’t read the first part, none of this will make any sense at all.
Part Two: Crossposted to booshslashhaven on LiveJournal




*****


Howard slammed his bedroom door shut, his arms and legs shaking with fury. Grabbing a chair, he shoved its wooden back underneath his door handle.

A satisfactory thunk - the door was jammed, and the outside world was safely blocked away.

A flash of images erupted, bubbling at the surface of Howard’s mind. Panic thumping hard, he leant against the door, trying to bite back them back.

God - downstairs, just there - had he really done that? Confessed to Vince how he’d been yearning after him for years, and then jumped right on top of him, drooling all over like a Lesser Spurting Crab during the annual rut?

Howard clenched his hands tight, reliving the humiliation.

Was that it, then? Was it really over?

So he’d spent decades of dreaming about Vince, about how some day they’d finally be together, that it had to work out between them, one day, eventually, because Howard needed it too much for it not to, and now – was that it? All he got was, “Were you really planning on giving me a bumming? Coming at me like a northern bullet?” and a shedload of giggling?

But hold on - Vince had asked him first. He had! Howard remembered it clearly – “You can kiss me if you like.”

Then Vince had lifted his face up, his eyes half closed and his dark lashes laying across his cheeks. Just waiting expectantly, with his lips slightly parted. Howard thought he’d remember that moment forever.

What was Howard going to do when confronted with that? What could he do? It was like one of those fleeting, off-your-head moments of drunken epiphany - but better, because real – and for the first time ever, the world made complete sense.

So he’d grabbed, pulling their bodies together to a solid point in the thrash of the howling storm, and blissfully, gratefully taken what was offered. Oh God - after so many years of everything being off limits - the taste, and smell, and unrestricted access of Vince - he could still feel the memory of Vince’s mouth where it had pressed up against his own, the moist touch of Vince’s lips, the tingle on his thigh where Vince had rubbed in close, the pushing bulge of Vince’s…

No! Arrgh! Stop it!

Howard grabbed two handfuls of his hair and tried to stifle his raging brain. Vince had laughed – remember? So when was he going to stop torturing himself like this?

Pulling in a deep, calming breath, Howard drew himself up straight. He forced his head into a dignified tilt.

Of course, there was another, more logical explanation. In fact - the more Howard thought about it, the more sense it made – that most people just couldn’t handle the raw sexual power that was Howard TJ Moon.

Hah! Yes! In fact, it made Howard laugh just to think about it. The Monsoon Moon was obviously far too much for a pointy-faced little whippersnapper like Vince. How much he would be cursing himself when he came to his senses. But no – he’d missed his chance. Vince could beg all he wanted, but all Howard would do was lift his nose and pass on by.

Howard tried out a disdainful laugh, just to be properly prepared.

Well. He probably needed to practice the laugh a bit more before unleashing its full deadliness onto Vince.

And, Howard reasoned further, weren’t there scores of people out there, simply pleading for him to stick his incredibly attractive body parts in their direction? It was almost embarrassing how many there were. The only reason he didn’t oblige on a daily basis was because of his innate dignity, and that he had better things to do with his time. Like alphabeticising his collection of broken guitar strings, or composing a tribute song for the five Euro note, using mainly bongos.

Yes. Vital tasks like that.

Nothing at all to do with him being a boring, pathetic waste of humanity, someone whose advances were to be spurned by all, forever, like some kind of perpetual spurn-inducing machine.

No. Never.

In fact, wasn’t there was someone willing and eager – no, begging to have Howard’s body parts very close indeed? Someone who was in the room with him – here, even now?

Very slowly, Howard brought his gaze back towards the creature upon his tweedy bedspread. As soon as Howard caught Old Gregg’s eye, the green creature started to bounce up and down on the mattress, his wedding dress fluffing out, his seaweed hair flailing, and grinning like a maniac.

A few of his salty splashes reached as far as Howard’s forehead. He smeared them off with the back of his hand, then looked regretfully at the back of his closed bedroom door.

Vince had been knocking at that door only minutes ago – with Howard leaning on the other side, his face pressed against the wood grain, feeling every move of Vince’s even through the two solid inches of pine. Wincing, unable to respond, despising himself for his own patheticness.

There’d been pleading as well – Vince promising not to laugh, or at least to try not to, if only Howard would stop sulking and come out.

At last, there’d been a muffled jangle; Vince’s bangled arm slamming against the door in exasperation. Then the low clack of heels as he strode away down the corridor. Then nothing.

Where was Vince now? Still in the flat? In the kitchen - with a long, cool, welcome bottle of beer? Vince’s neck would be tilted up, his mouth sucking, the tip of his tongue stealing out, catching stray drops… A shiver of sweat sprang up, tickling behind Howard’s knees at the very thought.

No. There was no way on earth that Howard was going back out there. Not tonight. Not if he had to pretend that all of this meant nothing, the same as he had every night for about a hundred years.

Bracing his shoulders with determination, Howard started to move towards the bed, and met a shiny green face, eager with expectation. Oh, God. Was he actually going to… was he? With this… thing? Why did all the alcohol have to be in the kitchen, on the other side of his bedroom door? Hadn’t Gregg been waving about a bottle of something…

“Still got that Baileys?” Howard asked.

Old Gregg sidled off the bed. The swollen brown bottle appeared close between their bodies. “We can drink it from my shoe.”

“Yeah, I’d rather not.” Howard unscrewed the top and glugged from the bottle. God, awful stuff - like sweetened, spunk-thickened mud. How was he supposed to get shit faced on this? Howard paced round the small room, swigging as much as he could stomach and desperately hoping for some sort of hit.

“I knew you loved me, Howard,” sighed Old Gregg, following him around like a damp green puppy. He stroked Howard’s arm. “Just as I love you.”

“Please don’t.”

“Don’t what, Howard?”

Howard knocked back some more of the Baileys. It stuck like glue every inch of the way down his gullet. Wearily, he closed his eyes. “Stop saying you love me.”

“Old Gregg don’t understand. Downstairs you were holding me in your strong manly arms. You put your tongue in my mouth, and you were licking fast and loose. Old Gregg says that means love.”

At last - the Baileys was starting to kick in. Not much, but better than nothing. Howard gave a snort. “Yeah. I love you. I don’t. Whatever you want. Who cares. Does it matter?”

“You don’t love Old Gregg?” The small voice wavered with emotion.

Howard waved brusquely. “Just get back on the bed.”

Head bowed, Old Gregg shuffled towards the bed, scuffing his silver platforms as he went. As he sat down, the stiff lace on his wedding dress zagged into three sharp creases.

Howard took another slug. By now his stomach was rebelling - but in his limited experience, for this kind of thing to work, one or both parties should be well off their tits. He dropped with a bounce onto the narrow single bed next to Old Gregg and shoved the bottle back.

For a second, their thighs nudged, and Howard remembered how it had been in the downstairs hallway, when they’d rutted against each other like it was coyote mating season and they were the last ones left on the prairie. Something sparked inside him; a glimmer of optimism. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all. After all, he was finally about to get some greasy trumpet-fumbling, some jizz-jazz time, a bit of trouser fun. God knows, that didn’t happen very often. He supposed he should at least try to enjoy it. Despite all that had happened, Howard felt some excitement stir in his belly. A small pulse jumped between his legs.

Howard looked at Old Gregg - he was drooping his head mournfully, tilting the Baileys bottle first one way and then another. Well, he’d soon liven up. All Howard had to do was to steel himself and get down to business - because that’s what Old Gregg wanted, right? Access to the contents of Howard’s trousers?

Taking a deep breath, Howard reached out, grabbed a lace-covered arm and began to pull Old Gregg round, ready for the attack.

Old Gregg recoiled spectacularly. His face pulled as if in pain and he jerked back, falling across the bed.

Howard’s moustache bristled with annoyance. “Bloody hell! What’s wrong now?”

Old Gregg began jerking out a mess of sobs. “Thought… thought you… loved me!” He curled up into a tight ball, pushing his wet face into the pillow at the head of the bed.

Howard released a sharp, irritated grunt. How did this sort of thing always happen to him? A moment ago - a dead cert for some enjoyable cock twanging, even if it was with something that looked like an extra from ‘Godzilla - The Musical’. Now - stuck with a self-watering sea monster, and his rare ‘John Coltrane – Jazz Maestro’ pillowcase was getting moister by the minute.

For a moment, he looked longingly again at the escape route of his bedroom door - but no, not an option. Not now that even Old Gregg, his last great hope of sex, had rejected him as well. Imagine having to admit to Vince that when it came to the crunch, not even bottom-dwelling pond scum would actually do the deed with him. No way. Howard TJ Moon was definitely getting a shag tonight - even if it had to be a pretend one. That would show the skintight electro ponce exactly what he was missing.

He supposed he should try to keep this green lunatic happy in the meantime, or he might gather up both of his brain cells and run back with them to his miserable muddy lake.

Reluctantly, Howard got up, found a handkerchief, then offered it to the pathetic sobbing lump of wedding dress on the bed.

Old Gregg cautiously uncurled. He reached out towards Howard, but ignored the handkerchief. Instead, he softly placed his webbed hand over Howard’s. The touch sent little shivers all the way up Howard’s arm to the back of his neck, where tiny hairs began to dance and tingle. Howard wasn’t at all sure if this was a good thing or not, and was still trying to make his mind up when Old Gregg closed his hand around Howard’s wrist and pulled, downwards towards the bed. At first, Howard resisted. Then, with a long, doubtful breath, he released and let himself be drawn in.

Again, there was the sense of a mist hovering over Old Gregg’s body. Howard broke into that mist, and it stroked his skin all over, chill and electric. It smelt of the yellow-stained depths of forgotten medicine cabinets; of eruptingly crimson morning sunrises; of the white crusts found on dirty salt cellars. Howard felt himself pulled further. Every time his body touched Old Gregg, jolts shot through his skin, tingling in his follicles and tightening under his balls.

Howard dropped onto the narrow single bed, almost against his will. It was uncomfortably crowded; the two of them wedged here side by side. To stop falling out, Howard squeezed up closer, stretching out with an arm to grab the bedstead. Old Gregg immediately pushed up, whimpering against Howard’s body, snuggling under his arm and rubbing his tear-streaked face against Howard’s shirt.

They stayed like that for a quite while; Old Gregg happily squirming under Howard’s arm, and Howard becoming more and more aware of his own arousal. He just wasn’t used to being this close to anyone - even if in this case it was less of a person and more of a creature. But especially not here, in his own bed, the very place he’d spent so many hours with a hand down his pyjamas, thinking about Vince and trying not to make a sound. It was wrong. This was wrong. Yet at the same time, every wriggle and sigh from Old Gregg seemed to be heading straight for his groin.

Old Gregg turned his face up. “Howard?”

“Hold on there.” Howard fished around for the hanky again, found it and then lobbed it over. Snot was never a good look, and fishy snot was about ten times worse. Luminous and stringy.

Old Gregg blew his nose with a rattle and wiped his face. When he looked back up, it was with a clean face and eyes full of worshipful gratitude. “Howard? Why don’t you love me?”

“I don’t know,” replied Howard, re-adjusting his arm to pull Old Gregg in again. He briefly shut his eyes as the slender body made contact, sending a shiver all the way down his back. Something deep in Howard’s belly was warm and unfurling into to life. “You can’t just love someone. Not just like that. It takes time.”

“P’raps you really do love me.”

Howard breathed in once more, sucking in the smell of Gregg. Why did this have to feel so good? Why did their bodies have to fit so well together? “No, believe me. I don’t.”

“Perhaps you’ll love me later?”

“No.” Howard reached his other arm around Old Gregg’s waist and drew him in even tighter, so that Gregg was pushing up against Howard’s middle. “I’m never going to.”

“Oh.” Old Gregg lifted his head and looked at Howard with big eyes. “But I want you to love me.”

“Yeah, sorry.” Howard shifted his position. Their faces were close now, just a breath away; Old Gregg’s mouth was so near. It was unbelievably red, moist and inviting. The lower lip was trembling ever so slightly. And then somehow, like feathers drifting inexorably down under the force of gravity, their mouths met, and they were kissing.

It was slower than last time, when they’d simply leapt on top of one another in a hot wave of lust. Now they were touching each other, gently with exploratory, open mouths. A webbed hand caressed Howard’s face, barely ghosting the skin. Howard felt the tip of a tongue on his own - cautious, and almost reverent - as if Old Gregg were treating him like a precious object.

A wave of confusion rushed over Howard; with a grunt, and in one swift motion, he rolled over on top of Old Gregg. One of Howard’s legs was left dangling off the edge of the narrow bed, cutting into his circulation. As he pulled his leg in, he found himself sprawling even more heavily on top of the fragile body beneath. Another burst of inexplicable wrongness stabbed through him. Shoving the emotion aside, frowning hard, he began to thrust himself against the body below.

As he ground his hips down, Howard pressed his face into the darkness of Old Gregg’s neck. A livewire of deep sea smells was whirling there; filling Howard’s head, flickering all over his body, and jumping to attention in his thickening cock. With a gasp, Howard’s fingers tightened convulsively, grabbing at rubbery fronds of seaweed hair.

Meanwhile, Old Gregg was eagerly fumbling with Howard’s shirt, making needy little noises as he did so. Howard’s shirt pulled free at the waist; Howard felt chill inhuman hands stroke the bare skin beneath, pressing his back and urging him on. Squeezing his eyes shut, he licked Old Gregg’s neck just underneath the ear, and a strange salty mist played across his tongue. Old Gregg arched up under him in response, mashing their bodies together. Howard stifled a deep groan.

Through the fug of arousal, Old Gregg’s words from before were running circles round Howard’s brain. “I’ve got a vagina - I’ve got a mangina!” What exactly was there? What had he been rubbing his crotch against so far? Not another cock, anyway, unless he was greatly mistaken. What might a half-man, half-fish use for genitals? “I’ve got a mangina!” It could be anything at all.

Howard sucked in another mouthful of essence of Old Gregg. His head spun from need and urgency and the fishy musk of it all.

Now. Time to find out. Now.

Shifting his weight, Howard pulled hard at the heavy lace of Old Gregg’s wedding dress. The thick fabric swept up - first past two garish, shell-encrusted, court shoes, then higher, to a pair of green skinny legs. Howard reached one hand down between the bony green knees; Old Gregg writhed into his touch. The scales between Old Gregg’s thighs were glowing translucent in the low light of the bedroom. Panting, Gregg curled himself up, straining towards Howard’s fingers.

Suddenly - clunk! The sound of metal jolting against metal.

Using both of his slippery claws, Old Gregg was attacking Howard’s belt buckle, sending vibrations straight to the painfully responsive area below. Click! Now Old Gregg was yanking at the strap. It was hanging halfway free, flapping obscenely out across Howard’s stomach. A final snick cut the air. The belt had been successfully worked loose, and Old Gregg’s fingers flew to Howard’s trousers.

Oh fuck...what had Howard been doing? Something to do with Old Gregg’s skinny legs and knees, his lean, squirming thighs and… no, Howard couldn’t remember anything, nothing at all…. definitely not the last time anyone had touched him there. Nobody - ever. Nothing apart from his own right hand. Nobody, apart from in his fantasies, tore like that at his clothes, desperate to get him naked and…

Oh Christ, yes! More, yes!

Now Howard’s lucky beige Y-fronts with the tiny yellow trumpets were open to the air, exposed for all to see. Quickly, a webbed hand moved beneath the waistband.

“Arghhhh!” screeched Howard. Old Gregg was brushing the sensitive skin over his hipbone. It was far too much physical contact, too much at once after so many years in the wilderness. In quick succession, Howard twisted away from Old Gregg’s touch, back into it, and away again. “No! No!

Old Gregg stopped.

“I didn’t mean it! I meant yes!” cried Howard, frustrated. “Yes!

For a brief second, Old Gregg’s big, water-rimmed eyes held Howard in their bright, trusting gleam. Another inexplicable emotion twisted through Howard’s stomach.

He wasn’t doing anything wrong - was he? So why did it feel like he’d tied a whole drum kit around his guts and was just about to hurl it out a seven storey window? Probably should avoid thinking about it too much. Better to just shut his eyes and plunge right in, even harder, even faster.

Old Gregg lifted his green face again, and Howard found himself feverishly returning the sloppy-mouthed, enthusiastic kisses, all the while trying to blank out Vince’s words from earlier that night - ”Kiss me if you like, Howard – Don’t you want to?”

Vince’s kiss. So different from this one. Not just tongue-filled exchanges of saliva, crotch humping and guilty surges of arousal. When he’d kissed Vince, it had been years of dreaming finally come to life - a ridiculously blissful moment, aching with a hundred stupid, impossible hopes for the future. Well, for about five seconds, anyway. Until –

”Urrgh! No! GET OFF ME! Not your spit!”

“Were you really planning on giving me a bumming? A big northern bumming?”


Then - everything gone to shit. Vince laughing. Vince wiping off every last trace of Howard that he could find on his mouth. ”And get rid of Nessie in there, won’t you?”

Yeah - where did Vince get off, telling Howard who he should be with? Arrogant little twat.

So what if it wasn’t Vince underneath him? So what if it never would be? Howard forced his eyes even more painfully closed and rammed his tongue in even deeper, telling himself he didn’t care.

A tongue was stroking alongside his, jumpy as an eel, sending the blood shuddering hotly to Howard’s groin. In Old Gregg’s mouth, Howard tasted salty sweat, a thousand forbidden memories, and all the secretive wanks he’d ever had. Old Gregg thrust his hand back towards Howard’s underpants; without thinking, Howard tilted up his hips to give easier access - and after that, it was far too late for any more thinking at all.

Something was stroking - oh fuck! Along the length. Touching… rubbing… through his underwear, but… Bloody hell! Why was it so much more intense when somebody else… Oh fuck! What was that? Was that underneath his balls? Yes…more… just take them off, take the bloody Y-fronts off, please… Heady fuck, please yes…

Agghhh!

Whatever happened just there - that was good. Do it again. Please. Want more contact… need to get naked. Please. Bare skin. Please.

Howard opened his eyes. He found that his mouth was gaping wide open, and he was breathing in short, exaggerated bursts.

“Old Gregg’s watching you, Howard. He likes it.”

“Yes,” gasped Howard. “More.”

“What’s that you’re saying, my little man-peach?”

Howard grabbed Old Gregg’s hand and stuck it towards his Y-fronts, hoping he’d get the idea.

“I knew it,” cooed Old Gregg, pressing his moist cheek against Howard’s and whispering into his ear. “Knew you loved me, knew you did!”

He rubbed again through the fabric. Howard bucked up into his touch, groaning deeply.

“We’re gonna be so happy. We’re gonna get married. You and me, Howard. An’ later on, just a couple-a hundred funky little fishlets.”

Howard froze mid-thrust.

“You don’t care that Old Gregg can’t make the eggs himself?”

“Wha-?“ Howard asked, startled at this sudden change in subject.

“We can adopt us a whole brood of wrigglin’ little larvae.”

Howard, appalled, tried to draw back, but Gregg’s webbed claw was continuing relentlessly into his Y-fronts, perilously close to the contents.

“Gonna have us a heapa funky little babies. They can grow themselves some mouths, and gonna call us daddy. Daddy Gregg and Daddy Howie.”

With the strange, dripping hand of a sea creature still shoved half-way down his underpants, Howard had a sudden, nightmare vision of his future – with himself in the middle of a spawn of maggoty larvae, nursing several dozen at a time on his knee.

The webbed hand pushed even further down into Howard’s underwear. “You’s gonna be the best daddy there is. Daddy Howie and his big pink sea-cucumber.”

Howard’s shocked muscles finally kicked into gear. Wedging one knee between Old Gregg’s splayed thighs, he shoved himself forcefully up. Gregg’s hand remained trapped inside Howard’s Y-fronts like a telltale trail of toilet paper after a visit to the gents. “Eeeeeeee!” he wailed in alarm, his clammy fingers scrabbling in panic inside Howard’s pants.

As Howard retreated across the bed, Old Gregg was dragged along with him, screeching and kicking in protest. At last, Howard reached into his underwear with a finger and a thumb and hooked out Old Gregg’s hand. With a thump, it fell with to the bed below.

Old Gregg looked concerned. “What’s wrong? I hurt you, my sweet lil’ man-peach?”

Howard made a mental note that the next time he turned down a proposal of marriage, he should be wearing something more than just his lucky trumpet underpants and a waning erection. As it was, he felt at a bit of a disadvantage. His hands clenched and unclenched and he glanced yet again at the escape route of his bedroom door.

“I never said it!” protested Howard, by now backed up to the far corner of the room. “I never said I’d marry you! I think I’d remember if I have, don’t you think? So why do you keep going on about it? Just stop! And stop it with the…all those… “ Howard tailed off. It was bad enough having the image of a litter of squirming larvae, without actually having to say it out loud.

Old Gregg sat for a while in puzzled silence. After a minute, he twiddled some tiny circles on the bedsheet using the lacy hem of his wedding dress.

“You understand?” asked Howard.

Still only silence in reply.

“Weren’t you listening? That bit where you said, ‘Do you love me?’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t! I don’t love you!’ That was the clue! The clue to the fact that I don’t bloody love you! And I’m not going to marry you!” Howard screwed his face up. “I told you! When you grabbed me… and we started to… you know? I thought you understood!”

Old Gregg got off the bed and crawled over the floor. Kneeling down in front of Howard, he laid a hopeful hand on Howard’s knee. “Didn’t you like what Old Gregg was doing? You want I should do something else? I know something with my mouth, Howard. I think you’d like it.”

Oh God, with his mouth? Did that mean… he’d imagined Vince doing that to him, so many times, but no one had ever… no one had put their warm, wet mouth on his… no, he couldn’t get distracted. Howard shuffled backwards, away from Old Gregg’s grasp. He had to get this sorted out first. “But you understand, right? I don’t love you, okay?”

No response.

“And we’re definitely not going to get married? Or going to adopt anything? Especially not… things that fishermen use for bait?”

“Howard…” Old Gregg halted. He gave a confused little smile.

Howard waited, hoping.

Old Gregg replied slowly. “But Howard went and brought Old Gregg to his love cave. Why’d you do that and then say you don’t love me? It don’t make no sense.” Old Gregg was crawling nearer again, his white dress dragging across the floor. “I took you to my love cave. Means I loved you.

Howard had retreated from Old Gregg so far that he’d come full circle round the small room. The backs of his legs were hitting up against the bed.

Old Gregg turned up his smile to full beam. “Gonna show you how much I love you, Howard. Gonna show you that thing with my mouth. I know you’re gonna like it.”

“No, I don…”

But Howard’s words were cut abruptly off. Old Gregg had launched himself, throwing them both across the bed, his parted mouth shockingly scarlet and glistening in the dim light. Before Howard knew it, webbed fingers had hooked into his Y-fronts, tugging the waistband smartly down and over. Howard gasped. Cold air was playing across his cock and balls. Shivers sped down his back, clenching deep into the muscles of his buttocks.

Old Gregg’s glossy red lips were now hovering only inches away. Oh God, this was really going to happen. Howard’s cock started to rise again, wobbling obscenely above the fabric of his bunched-up underpants. Trembling, Howard forced his eyes wide open. He wanted to see every moment of this; when that mouth opened up; when lips touched him for the very first time; when he was finally enveloped in a warm, wet pressure…

No! Howard twisted his head away. What was he doing? Letting a nutjob like this anywhere near his equipment! A sea creature who believed he only had to suck Howard to force him into some kind of bizarre marriage?

But still, Howard didn’t move away, even as he felt Old Gregg’s cool hand splay across his hip, steadying him and drawing him even closer.

Perhaps if he shut his eyes and imagined it was Vince… would that really be so bad? After all, he’d told Old Gregg this wasn’t going anywhere. There would be no wedding; this was all about the sex. What was so wrong with having a good time, then slinging Gregg out in the morning?

Clammy breath was tickling across Howard’s cock now, warmer every second that it drew closer. Old Gregg’s tongue flickered out, inches away; the hairs on Howard’s balls jumped up in anticipation. Howard braced himself, waiting for contact… waiting….

After a second, Howard peeked down, fearful of what he would find.

Old Gregg was hovering over his cock with a glazed expression. His tongue flicked out, almost grazing it, but not quite touching.

“Every mornin’, suck them clean - that’s what Old Gregg is gettin’ practice for. Gonna suck our li’l babies clean. Funky little fishboy babies.”

Howard was trying even harder to stop his imagination – because the image he had now was of his cock wriggling, changing, still in Old Gregg’s mouth, but becoming a dozen little creatures, each with a tiny mouth that gaped and gave a high-pitched wail, “Daddy! Daddy Howie! Suck us Daddy!”

Scrambling backwards across the bed, Howard tried to push Old Gregg off, escape, and tuck himself back in all at the same time. His left arm lost contact with the bed; with a painful thud, he plunged to the floor. For a second Howard just lay there. Then he felt his right shoulder and winced with the pain.

Old Gregg’s head appeared over the side of the bed. “Howard? Don’t you want I should suck you no more?”

Howard didn’t reply. He was too busy pulling his maroon corduroys back up and zipping them firmly in place. Then, making as much noise as he could, he stomped across the small room, slammed a wardrobe door open and wrenched a few random cupboard drawers.

Old Gregg sat on the bed, sticking his legs out in front and twiddling his feet. He watched Howard thump around. “What ya looking for, Howard? I’m right here!” Gregg laughed; a strangely dry hacking sound. “I ain’t in no cupboard!”

Far too quickly for his liking, Howard discovered a couple of blankets and a musty old pillow. He made a nest for himself on the floor and threw himself down, covering himself and turning his back on the bed.

“Howard?” asked Old Gregg, cautiously.

“No!” replied Howard.

“But… You want I should…”

“Yes! Do that! Do anything you want, as long as it doesn’t involve me! Okay?”

“If Howard wants…”

“Yes, I do! Now, go away! Go to sleep or something!”

Pulling the blankets tighter, Howard furrowed his brow and nestled into his makeshift bed, fully determined to not actually sleep himself. All he wanted was to retreat into a bit of prolonged sulking - at the world in general, and how tonight things had gone even more wrong than usual, which was saying something for him.

Later on, as a treat, he’d might move onto brooding about Vince.

But he’d had a pretty overwhelming day of it - what with the bassoon madness gig, the angry, throwing-things crowd, and then being kidnapped at Black Lake. That had been the start of it, really. The moment things had seriously started to go wrong.

Or perhaps it had been later, when Vince had come to the rescue, appearing from that submarine like a welcome vision.

Of course, earlier at the gig, there’d also been that time – when Vince had turned to Howard, after they’d finished ‘Carnival for Bollo’ and before the crowd had turned nasty. Vince had been beaming, sweat flying from his still miraculously perfect hair, and suddenly he’d put a hand on Howard’s shoulder. Howard’s heart had filled, full of pain and joy, all together – because it was just one more moment like all the rest, doomed to come to nothing.

That is, until tonight. Whatever happened after tonight, at least there’d always be that kiss.

Howard sighed deeply, relaxing into the memory - the way Vince had felt tonight during their storm-drenched embrace, his skinny little self pushed up against Howard, his body finally close and real…

Whatever happened for the rest of his life, Howard would never lose that.

And just like every night, as sleep drew near and his defences fell, Howard imagined Vince was there, lying beside him. Now Howard was drawing Vince closer and stroking his head – and Vince was actually letting him touch his hair, a thing he’d never do in real life. Now Vince was snuggling against Howard’s chest, warm and snug. Now Howard was giving Vince a kiss, just a gentle kiss goodnight to show Vince how much he loved him. Oh God, Vince, he thought. Vince…

He didn’t want to go to sleep. Never, ever again… If Howard fell asleep he might forget that kiss, he might forget how it felt to hold and touch and taste Vince.

He wanted to stay awake forever.

On the bed above, there was a distant creaking and fidgeting, but it was far away, and receding even faster into blurry distance. Because all was warm and all was good and Howard was speeding towards the happy land of slumber, a tiny smile upon his face.

Then suddenly, all had changed.

Groggy-headed, stiff-necked, and puzzled, Howard was coming to, wondering - Why was he on the floor? Who was up there, in his bed, where he should be? And why did the heavy blanket pressing on his morning stiffy bring up memories of a thunderstorm, half-interrupted fumbling, and the strong smell of seaweed?

Oh, shit.

Now he remembered.

A familiar thump kicked into Howard’s stomach - his hopeless yearning for Vince settling into place for the day – quickly followed by a second, more immediate panic. Oh hell - last night. It was all starting to come back now. How he’d dragged Old Gregg up to his room. Old Gregg’s red, moist mouth hovering. Old Gregg’s webbed fingers fumbling…

From the corner of the room, a thin voice drifted over. “I’m Old Gregg!”

With a groan, Howard pulled the covers back over his head, using his blanket to screen out the last remaining chinks of light. Unfortunately, sound could still penetrate, and did so, in the form of a pathetic wail.

“Help, Howard! Help!”

Reluctantly, Howard poked his head out.

“Help!”

With a sigh, Howard got up and went over.

What he saw made his stomach heave. Old Gregg was on lying top of the bed, stretched painfully stiff, his dark green legs covered with a fungal whitish bloom. Fine veins, like a network of tiny red spiders, skittered just beneath the surface.

“Help! Water!”

Howard shuffled uncomfortably.

“I’m-a dryin’ out! I’m in arid torment!”

“Glass of water?” offered Howard, even now reluctant to leave the room. Vince might still be out there.

“No! No! More water! Lots-a water! Old Gregg needs to feel water a-seepin’ through his pores!”

Howard came closer. It wasn’t any prettier a picture from here. Not only that, something was now squishing up through Howard’s bare toes, like a green puddle of runny sick. Howard’s mouth twisted sideways in disgust.

“Hurry, Howard! Or I’m gonna stop dribbling and start oozing!”

Howard looked at the green between his toes, indecisive.

“Old Gregg is gonna ooze! A powerful creamy funk – superbad! ’ll strip ya right down! De-rodded thirteen sailors, all at once!”

A de-rodding ooze? That sounded like something best avoided. Well, they didn’t call him ‘Howard Moon - Man of Action’ for nothing. Preventing fatal dribbling in mermen? All in a day’s work for Monsoon Moon. “Okay. What d’you want? A jug? A bath?”

“Yes sir, a bath sir! Old Gregg needs it bad!”

Howard unwedged the chair from behind his door handle and peered out into the flat. No sound or movement, unless – yes – over there, on the sofa. Naboo and Bollo, propped up against each other on the sofa, emitting soft little whistling noises, completely passed out.

The shaman’s hookah was stuck out of one corner of his mouth, the tube waltzing up and down in time to his tiny snores. Beside him, the gorilla’s wide chest also rose and fell in sleep, a bright yellow can from the night before held in one paw. With every breath he took, the can of Banana Brew creaked and flexed in Bollo’s powerful grip.

There was absolutely no sign of Vince.

Scuttling quietly, Howard dragged Old Gregg across the floor, the dried-out body stiff and unyielding. At the first bend, Howard hit Old Gregg’s webbed feet against the skirting board; at the next corner, he gave a sharp knock to Gregg’s crispy seaweed head.

Old Gregg screeched out in surprise and pain.

“Shut it!” hissed Howard.

“But you hit me, Howard sir!”

“I know! Now hush your lips up! We’ve sneaking around to do!”

At last they reached the bathroom at the end of the corridor. Howard propped his cargo against the wall, engaged the lock and leaned back with a sigh of relief. Turning on both bath taps, he shunted them round to full speed.

“No sir! Ice cold! Like Baileys in a cave cold!”

Okay - so just the cold tap, then.

As soon as the bath was halfway full, Howard grabbed Old Gregg by the shoulders, dragged him up and pushed him right over into the water, wedding dress and all.

The merman sunk like a stone right to the bottom of the bath. The cold tap was still splashing, battering onto his forehead, while his ropes of his seaweed hair were already starting to plump up. His crinkled lips returned to red and shiny and finally, his scales started to lose their sickly white coating, he untensed like a spring, and his skin began to re-gloss, oily and dark.

After a while, Howard looked into the bath. Old Gregg had been underwater for a good time now; just lying, unbreathing, his eyes wide and manic.

“Hey - you alright?”

Juicy lumps of seaweed broke through the water surface first, then a large-toothed grin. “Water! Old Gregg likes water!” Silvery droplets ran down his happy round cheeks.

“Ah. Okay, then.”

The green, shiny face became serious. “But Old Gregg’s wedding dress is soggy-ass wet. That’s bad.” Gregg reached back behind his neck, and the sound of a downwards zip echoed round the bathroom. As Old Gregg stripped the heavy fabric down, a delicate collarbone and shoulder began to emerge.

Howard stared at the bare skin. It was dew-dropped and sparkling, the muscles underneath long and lithe. Was the air suddenly hotter? Clammier? Howard couldn’t understand - he’d run a bath full of cold water into a cold room, yet now sweat was prickling up and down his body.

Old Gregg’s fingers worked further, deftly rolling at the sodden lace, working the dress down his torso. Howard whirled around to face the door, but not before a flash of nipple had burnt into his vision; shockingly pink and erect in a field of dark green skin.

“Yeah – well, I’ll head along now.”

“Why yous going, sir? Howard gets in the bath too.”

Howard shivered, trying to ignore the wide-eyed, innocent invitation. Unable to resist, he flicked over another look. Old Gregg’s dress was peeling down easily now, under the nipples, past the lean, shining muscles of the abdomen, down further, further… what exactly was it that, lying beneath the wet, sodden skirt? He still hadn’t discovered.

Howard began to imagine what would happen if he did get in. The both of them would be wet; clothed and wet, pushing up tight against each other in that small bathtub. No, there wasn’t enough room - they’d have to strip off to make more space. Perhaps they’d take off each other’s clothes, at first slowly, then more urgently. Then they’d be rubbing up against each other… oh, God. With every breath, the air became danker and saltier on the roof of Howard’s mouth. His heart was thumping faster. His thighs seemed to have turned to cold jelly. He had to get out. Now.

“No!” he whispered, mostly to himself. He set his head against the bathroom door. It was reassuringly firm against his overheated head. He set his hand on the bathroom door handle and took a deep breath, “Okay. See you later. After your bath. Alright?”

And with a great effort, Howard was out. No matter if Vince was on the other side of this door or not, this time he had to escape.

*****



Part Three: “How to Choke on a Whelk”

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