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August 4th, 2007


[info]accio_arse12:00 am - BOOSHFIC: Truly, Madly, Fishy (1/6)
Title: Truly, Madly, Fishy, Part 1 of 6
Author: [info]accio_arse
Rating: R
Word Count: 6,700 (this part)
Pairing: Howard/Old Gregg, Howard/Vince
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own the Boosh, and this story is just for fun, although Howard/Old Gregg is canon now anyway. We’ve seen them at it, oh yes indeedy, and we all have the photos to prove it.
Warning: May contain slight traces of plot or have been produced in a factory where other stories containing a plot have also been produced.
Beta by: Lizard who told me spruce up the Howard/Vince bit, and taeli, who told me to make Vince nicer. Hope I did okay, lovely people.




Howard ran around the flat, sticking his head through every door and bellowing like a buffalo in heat. He was desperately hoping that he’d made some sort of mistake.

“Vince,” he shouted. “Where’ve you gone? Naboo? Bollo? Hey guys, I’m ready to play the scat game now. Stop yanking me about! Hey, Vince? VINCE? VINCE!

The longer he looked, the more frantic his shouts became. Over and over again, he searched through the seven empty rooms, refusing to give up. He couldn’t believe it. Not after everything he’d already gone through today. No way.

But it was true. Howard was completely alone.

Okay, so he’d been grateful when his flatmates had turned up earlier on. After all, they’d risked their necks for him, diving deep into a slimy lake in a dodgy second-hand submarine, arriving just in the nick of time to save him from matrimony with an overly amorous, fishy-genitalled sea creature.

Damn right, he was grateful. More than grateful - he was incredibly, astoundingly relieved. In fact, while driving them all back in the van, he thought he even might have overdone the thanks a bit. He probably shouldn’t have slapped Bollo on the back at the same time as trying to take that particularly sharp bend. Luckily, he’d had managed to swerve away from that old lady just in time just in time, although Vince had complained bitterly when he’d had to give her scraggy chihuahua the kiss of life.

When all four of them were safely back in the van again, the tiny dog yapping angrily as they pulled away, Howard found to his horror that something inside him seemed to have switched to ‘collapse’ mode.

A few hours ago he’d been trapped in a dank cave, trapped by an insistent underwater creature who kept inching closer, breathing on him, pathetically begging Howard for his love. Now it finally hit him; it was all over. Here he was, safely back in the normality of his everyday life, where no one wanted to touch him like that, ever again. It was as if an internal cliff had cracked and was slowly toppling into the sea. As he drove along the country road, Howard’s breath began to come in jerks, his eyes suddenly filling up, stinging and hot. He swiped at his face with the back of his sleeve.

“Howard? What’s up?” asked Vince, concerned. “You look a mess.”

Howard felt a pressure on his arm. “Go away,” he hissed, shaking off Vince’s hand. Did Vince think he was going to bloody talk about it, here in front of everybody? No way.

“All right then. No need to get shirty.” Vince sounded hurt. “We did just save you from a massive fishy raping.”

Furrowing his eyebrows with furious concentration, Howard pulled himself together. “Yeah. Thanks for that.” He glared at the road ahead.

“Did you see how we swooped down in our tiny submarine? It was genius.”

“Hmmm.”

“Our submarine’s periscope was entirely made from tiny jellyfish. Can you imagine that? Naboo sang until the jellyfish swam right towards us and formed a long clear tube of poisonous light. The man’s a marvel.” Vince was obviously waiting for a reply.

“Yeah. I bet he is,” managed Howard.

“But then when we got to the underwater cave, we just couldn’t get in. It was all sealed up tight as a gnat’s chuff. Those brave little jellyfish repeatedly stung the entrance with their jabbing tentacles until it was forced to relax its watery sphincter.”

“Very impressive.”

“It was. Those jellyfish saved your life, Howard.”

“Really. I‘ll send them a little present, shall I?”

“I think you should. They’re very fond of Hobnobs.”

“The jellyfish told you that, did they?”

“They’re mad for them. They smear the biscuity crumbs all over their gelatinous bodies. It attracts tasty bits of plankton which they then eat with special ivory spoons. Hobnobs are widely known in jellyfish circles as the best bait there is, but they find it hard to get to the shops because they don’t have any legs.”

“Alright. Hobnobs it is then. I’ll put it on the shopping list.”

After that, Howard had just about managed the rest of the journey home without making a further embarrassment of himself - although it was a close run thing. He could tell there was something still bubbling under his ribcage, lying and lurking, waiting for him to relax his vigilance for even a second. As soon as they got back to the flat Howard found himself nervously running about, uncharacteristically offering to make everyone cups of tea, second cups of tea, sandwiches, anything to keep them from disappearing off to their rooms.

“Howard. There is a trumpet in my tuna baguette,” complained Bollo.

“You’re welcome,” replied Howard, bouncing on his heels. “Right everyone, how about a nice game of guess the scat?”

Naboo and Bollo exchanged glances. Vince found an interesting speck of dust on one of his boots.

“It’s very simple,” he explained, eagerly. “Someone does some scat, then you all have to guess what school of jazz they’re trying to enjoy with their mouth.”

Silence.

“Right, I’ll just be a minute and when I come back we can start on the first round, okay?”

He hadn’t even been a full minute – thirty seconds at the very most. He’d just gone to the bathroom to check that his moustache hadn’t suffered from its fondling by that seaweedy nightmare, and when he’d returned; no one left. A few frantic moments of room-checking had followed, then he’d heard a dull thump as the front door slammed shut. Howard rushed out onto the street just in time to see their van screech off into the hollow night. Trudging back upstairs, he stood in the middle of the living room. The emptiness rang in his ears like an accusation.

Where did they actually go to when they all disappeared off together like that? That club Bollo DJed at during the weekends? He didn’t really have a clue. All he knew was that they never, ever let him come with them. They’d say, “you have to be on the guest list” or “it’s not really your kind of music” or even “people whose name begins with H aren’t allowed in tonight, really sorry Howard, bye now!” Tonight they hadn’t even waited long enough to make any sorry excuses, just yelled and waved as the van hurtled past, with Bollo driving.

A note was waiting for him on top of the saggy monochrome sofa.

Howard – could you please be a little bit quieter when you’re cleaning the flat tomorrow? We’ll all be pretty hung over and you always swear really loudly when you’re unclogging Bollo’s hair from the plughole.
Cheers, Naboo

Crunching the note into a tight paper ball, Howard swayed back and forward in the middle of the silent room. After a few minutes, he let his legs take him mechanically towards his bedroom. A huge pile of musical instruments was heaped up in one corner against his jazz-patterned wallpaper. Lifting some Malaysian ear-plunking cymbals, he dropped down onto the bed, dazed. Why couldn’t they have stayed in for just one night? A couple of hours ago he’d been held hostage by a scaly merman intent on lustful couplings. You think they’d understand that he might appreciate human company after an experience like that.

After a second Howard lifted the cymbals, staring blankly at their brassy nodules. They were cold and hard in his hands and smelt strongly of uncoated metal. With an icy drop to his stomach, Howard realised that he hadn’t the faintest clue how to play them. He looked at the heap of instruments on the other side of the room. He’d never mastered either his Voodoo-Fingers guitar nor the Javanese nose-twister, and no matter how hard he tried, his Gorilla Bongo solos would never set a room on fire, although even educationally subnormal apes somehow managed it.

For years he’d made fun of Vince for pulling shapes up front instead of bothering to learn the songs, but the truth was that he had trouble with most of their set himself. When it all got too much at a gig, he would cover up his embarrassment by strapping one of his strange instruments to his head and going off into a jazz trance. It had been the incident with the bassoon that had got him into all this mess in the first place. The audience at the ‘Dung and Spoonbrake’ hadn’t been at all happy. Dozens of angry faces rose up again in his memory, booing and jeering. Howard cringed once again at the thought of it.

He jumped to his feet, desperate for something to distract him. The ear-plunking cymbals tumbled off his knees, clattered heavily onto the floor, and came to rest with a slow reverberation. At exactly the same time, a series of harsh wet slaps cut the air, echoing loudly through the empty flat.

Howard froze. Oh God, no.

An image flashed before him - of a pair of wandering webbed hands, fondling him, stroking his hair, pawing between his thighs.

“I could kill you if I wanted to, Howard. No one would ever know. Do you love me? I’m Old Gregg!”

And what could he say to that, except assure the crazed sea beast that yes, Howard did love him, and with those red-rimmed eyes frighteningly close, press a confirmation kiss onto a cold green cheek.

The slapping resounded for a moment, strident and loud. Then, just as suddenly, it died away. Howard’s heart was racing so fast it felt like an explosion. The racket started up again. It was coming from the direction of the front door.

“RapRapRapRap!”

Howard finally realised what the clattering was, and slowly, painfully, released his pent-up breath in a long exhalation. That stupid letterbox. A hinge had recently fallen off and since then it was always catching the wind. The bit of cardboard they’d jammed in the corner to stop the rattling must have fallen out again. Howard began to traipse downstairs, intent on stuffing it back in again. He was only halfway down, when a new noise made him almost jump out of his skin in shock.

“RapRapRapSlapSlapSlapSlapityFlapityFlapFlapFlapFlap!”

By the time Howard reached the bottom of the staircase, the door was shuddering in its frame, the letterbox spasming in twisted, diseased convulsions. There must be a real storm gathering outside tonight.

There. Howard shoved the cardboard back in under the loose corner. The letterbox was now subdued, still jammering away but only releasing a kind of muffled scratching. Howard turned to go back upstairs with a returning sense of gloom. He’d almost been grateful for the interruption, pathetic as it was.

He felt his mind returning to thoughts of his best mate. Vince had just deposited him in the flat like an undelivered package and scarpered off to have fun with the others, the same as any other Saturday night. Couldn’t Vince tell that Howard needed him? What did Vince want, that he should get down on his hands and knees and beg? Promise him glitter? Knit him a hair cosy? It hurt this time, and more than usual.

It had only been ten minutes, but he was missing the little electro tart already. If Vince were in the flat right now, he’d be poncing around, disappearing into his room every couple of seconds and coming back dressed as a Funky Inuit or a Goth Duchess or whatever, demanding to be admired and flattered. Howard would pretend to be exasperated by Vince’s infinite wardrobe and equally inexhaustible attention seeking, but deep down, which just made it all the more exasperating, Howard privately agreed. Vince was gorgeous. He was stylish. He was effortlessly cool. Possibly even the best-looking person in the history of the world, in Howard’s opinion. But of course, he was never going to tell Vince that.

It had been Howard who had persuaded Vince to leave school all those years ago to come to work with him at the zoo. Sure, Vince had done all right out of it - he liked the amphibians and they liked him - but Howard couldn’t fool himself. He knew the real reason he’d done it, and that was simply so that he could be with – and sneakily stare at - Vince for an extra eight hours a day.

So that he could suppress horrible, thumping rushes to his ribcage every time Vince stood near him, or God help him, every time they shared an inadvertent glance. So that he could spend hours, days, months even, thinking of ways he might possibly breach the subject of how he really liked Vince, all the while knowing it wasn’t going to happen. So that he could stare like a camel in a drought at Vince every time he thought he could get away with it. From behind was best, he’d found. That mesmerising, cocky tilt to Vince’s hips, the delicious span of his shoulders slipping down his back, and then, when Vince bent over with a spadeful of dung, and Howard’s eyes were involuntarily drawn arsewards … oh my God. It was completely, utterly hopeless.

Because nothing was ever going to come of it. That was the one thing Howard was sure of. In all the years he’d known him, Vince had only ever gone for girls.

Anyway, Howard had lusted after Vince for so many years now that it almost seemed irrelevant. Well, almost. Only on those days when it wasn’t stabbing him up inside. And Vince kept touching him all the time. Just innocent, friendly little touches. Howard had to constantly remind himself that they didn’t mean anything at all, but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes he would lie awake for hours afterwards, trying to persuade himself of their utter lack of meaning, before giving up, rolling onto his back and just having another wank.

It had always been Vince. Over the years, Howard had desperately thrown himself at a series of women, none of who wanted to have anything to do with him. Perhaps if one of them had, it would have helped. He might have got over Vince, or at the very least had a shag out of it. Some chance.

Once, when out collecting animals in the arctic tundra, they’d both been captured and been strapped together to an icicle by a race of tiny Parka People. Then, Howard had done something really, really stupid. He’d been convinced that he was about to die – and that was some kind of an excuse, he supposed - but it still ranked high as one of the most humiliating experiences of his life.

Only a few more minutes of life – that’s all he thought he had left to him. Howard remembered how incredibly thankful he’d been that Vince had been there with him for those final moments, and then being immediately appalled at himself. He should have been wishing Vince a million miles away, safe and dancing in his happy poncho, not facing down death by Black Frost’s freezing icy crotch. But after all, it hadn’t been Howard’s decision - it had been Vince’s. He couldn’t count the number of times Vince had come back to him, no matter how hard he’d tried to push him away. Somehow, Vince always managed to turn up to his rescue, just in time, every time. Vince had never let him down.

And now this was it. Their very last moments together. How could he let it go without letting Vince know exactly what he meant to him?

“Vince,” Howard had begun. “This is difficult for me.” He paused. “But I feel as though I should say this. I love you, Vince.” Was this what it felt like when you were about to die - floaty light? Like a heavy lead weight had been cut free from around your chest and was flying around in the air?

The tiniest of sniggers sneaked into being, almost muffled by the snowy walls around them. Slowly, it grew to a guffaw.

“Are you laughing?” asked Howard, horribly appalled.

“No!” snorted Vince, clearly trying to choke the laughter down.

“You better not be laughing at me! I’m telling you I love you! How dare you laugh at me!”

That had been a lesson and a half. As soon as they were back in civilisation, Vince had told the rest of them how in times of crisis Howard liked to break down and declare his love like a big soppy marshmallow. When, understandably, Howard had huffed and sulked, Vince came over to him, held Howard’s hand and looked sincerely up at him with his big blue eyes.

“But Howard, I told you that I loved you too. Don’t you remember?”

Yes, Howard remembered. But he also knew it wasn’t the same thing at all. Vince was always telling people he loved them, and if they were female, attractive and dressed like a transvestite Christmas tree, it was probably the prelude to a drunken exchange of bodily fluids to boot. He had angrily shaken off Vince’s hand and stormed away, slamming the door behind him.

So here he was, stuck on his own in the flat again, with nothing to do except think about Vince - Vince clambering out of the golden submarine earlier today, a miraculous vision of artful hair and retro styling. Howard’s relief had been almost overwhelming. He’d had the strongest compulsion to run up to Vince and grab him, to make sure it was really him, to hold him tight and to never let him go. All of which he’d firmly repressed, of course. He wouldn’t want to break the habit of a lifetime.

That tiny submarine of theirs had been pretty claustrophobic. At one point Vince had been bent over the navigation controls, wearing those incredibly thin and wispy paisley trousers, and Howard had suddenly been convinced that Vince had no underwear at all on underneath. Perhaps it was a bizarre erotic side effect of being pawed over by a lake monster, but at that moment Howard had found the near presence of Vince’s rear even more of a strain to his system than usual. When he’d finally climbed out of the submarine’s cramped hatch, legs shaking, Howard found that he was counting his blessings for more than one lucky escape that day.

Back on the living room sofa, Howard stretched his legs out until they twinged pleasantly. His right hand subtly sidled towards his trouser zip. Was it the thought of Vince’s pert cheeks bent over, screamingly forbidden and far too close for comfort? An insistent pressure began to build up, sure and steady, somewhere deep below Howard’s groin. He imagined ripping Vince out of that ridiculous paisley outfit until he was standing completely cock naked before him here in the living room, just in front of this sofa. Vince silently kneeling down with wide beautiful eyes, his mouth gently parted. Of Vince’s soft rosy tongue, Vince’s breath ghosting across his balls, Vince opening his mouth wider, slowly, slowly, his lips stretched, Vince taking him in … oh, bloody hell. In the hollow of his palm, Howard’s cock gave a warm, insistent twitch.

Why did the memory of a green webbed hand keep flickering through his fantasy of Vince? A hand that crept up and stroked at the inside of his thigh, pressing slimy rivulets of water against Howard’s skin until the two images were mixed up in the sweaty fumbling of Howard’s hand? In the dankness of the cave, Old Gregg had leant into him from behind and spent his cold misty breath upon his neck. Howard remembered how it had smelt of salty musk and the secret crevices of shells. A series of goose pimples sprung up from his neck all the way right down to his ankles. He released a deep, shaky breath as his hand speeded up with a rough intensity.

“FLAPFLAPFLAPFLAP!”

All of Howard’s muscles spasmed in alarm and he nearly fell off the sofa in his shock.

“SLAPSLAPSLAPflapflapflapFLAPFLAPFLAP!”

That bloody letterbox again. Sighing with irritation and adjusting his trousers, Howard got up. Right. He was going to shove that cardboard so far up that letterbox that it would be spitting corrugations for a week. He’d just reached the head of the stairs when, snaking up through the stairwell twisted a familiar voice, faint and eerie. All the hair on Howard’s body shot cold and rigid. He stopped stone cold dead.

I’m Old Gregg! I’ve come for you, my fuzzy little man-peach! I’m Old Gregg!

Howard’s knuckles clenched white.

“Do you love me?” The tip of one webbed finger was snaking through the letterbox. Howard stared in dumbstruck horror. Old Gregg’s pointy nail raked at the thin air. “I left my dark lake and all my deep sea magic so I could be with you, Howard. You have to love me as I love you. Tell me you love me! I’m Old Gregg!”

The front door began to rattle, the lock twisting ferociously from side to side like a spinning top. Howard ran over and slammed his back firmly against the wooden panels. Two more fingers had made their way out of the flap by now. Angling his body, Howard stretched away from their scaly reach.

“I can’t hurt people no more, Howard. I gave up my magic for you. All I have now is you. Hold me in your strong manly arms. Tell me that you love me.” Old Gregg’s high-pitched wail echoed plaintively around the hall.

“Just leave – me - alone!” gasped Howard, hysterically.

“Howard. You don’t mean that.” Old Gregg’s wail was ineffably sad, even after being squeezed through the narrow gap of a letterbox.

“I fucking do mean it! You crazy bastard!” Howard leaned even harder against the door, which was still bucking and shuddering underneath his back.

Then suddenly, all motion stopped. Howard waited anxiously, wondering what was going to happen next.

“Howard. Is there someone else? Has somebody else been taking secret little bites out of my man-peach?”

“No! Nobody!” The words were out before Howard had time to think about it. Damn. But should he have said he was spoken for or not? What was the right answer to make a madman like Old Gregg disappear? Was there a right answer?

“Then why, Howard? I came all the way just to be with you.” Old Gregg’s voice wobbled with watery wretchedness.

Howard took a deep breath. “It just wouldn’t work.”

“But I brought you a present.”

The shiny cap of a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream poked through the letterbox.

“And what’s that supposed to be?”

“You drank it in my cave. You said you liked it.”

Howard felt desperation gnaw him. “That would have been because I was lying. I wouldn’t use that brown runny lard to clean out the drains.”

There was a long pause. Howard began to hope that Old Gregg might have gone away.

“Let me in,” said Old Gregg again, softly. “Just five minutes, Howard.”

“No.”

“I need to see you.”

“No.”

“I won’t go away until you see me, Howard. I don’t mind waiting. It’s nice out here. There’s a pretty lady with tall red hair and a golf club waving at me from next door. She’s coming over. I could give her some Baileys from my shoe.”

Oh God no! Not the next door neighbour, Captain Margaret! Howard began to frantically consider his options. On the one hand, he was seriously considering letting a psychopathic half-man, half-fish into his home, the same scaly freak who’d spent most of the afternoon making bizarre advances and proposals of marriage to him. On the other hand, Naboo’s aunt and the ultimate owner of their flat lived next door, the redoubtable Captain Margaret. She’d already threatened Howard with eviction twice this month, the last time being after a late-night bout of Mnemonic Zither practice.

“You really can’t hurt me? No more threats of fishy juju?” hissed Howard through the letterbox.

“I gave it all up for you, my sweet love. I’m weak as a baby oyster.”

Howard had a very bad feeling about this.

“Alright. Just five minutes, and then straight back to your lake.”

The dark, shiny head of the Bailey’s bottle withdrew from the letterbox, as with a sinking heart, Howard twisted open the lock with a snick and pulled it back. Old Gregg was standing on the doorstep, blindingly white in a full length wedding dress and a beaming smile. A steady stream of dribbles fell from his seaweed hair onto his lace-covered shoulders. Giving a joyful little half-skip, he threw himself at Howard. His cold hands clasped around Howard’s waist; a damp head burrowed into Howard’s shirt.

“Hey now!” Howard pushed Old Gregg brusquely away and stepped back in alarm. He took a peek outside. There didn’t seem to be anybody about; he slammed the door quickly shut just in case.

“Aren’t you pleased to see me, Howard?” Old Gregg was pathetically eager, his wide eyes burning bright.

“I think we’ve already established that I’m not.”

“I love you, Howard. Do you love me as I love you?”

Howard’s shoulders slumped. Just as he’d become reconciled to the idea of another sleepless, Vince-yearning night, enlivened with the odd bout of self-abuse, with perhaps some ‘Bongo Brothers Live at the Jazz Emporium’ on his turntable later on, now this had to happen. What had he done to deserve it? “Okay. Five minutes then. Let’s go sit down.” Howard motioned Old Gregg up the stairs. The vision in white ascended before him. Howard winced as he heard Old Gregg’s soggy squish every step of the way up.

In the living room, Howard sat in the only armchair rather than on his usual place on the sofa. He folded his arms determinedly. Old Gregg roamed about, picking things up and leaving slight glistening trails of water in his wake.

“This is a nice cave, Howard.” Old Gregg fiddled with a small translucent model of a jellyfish. He was still beaming away.

“Thanks. Hmm… how did you get here anyway?”

“I rode on the top of your van. You brought me here, Howard.”

“I see.” A pause. “So how are you planning on getting back to your lake?”

“Don’t know, Howard.”

“And I don’t suppose you have any money…”

“What’s minnie?”

“Yeah, I figured that. I’ll give you your fare so you can get back home.”

Old Gregg came in closer to Howard. “You’re a good man, Howard.”

“No,” squeaked Howard. “No, stop doing that! Stay away!”

But Old Gregg’s slick green face was approaching fast, his membraned hand already on Howard’s knee. Howard found himself thrust back into the armchair with the wriggling weight of a damp, flimsy body pushed down on top of him. Then Old Gregg’s mouth was on his. It wasn’t cold, as he’d expected, but hot and soft and surprisingly pliable. With one almighty shove, Howard pushed Old Gregg off his lap and twisted sideways right out of the armchair all at the same time. They both fell onto the floor with a thump.

“I said no!” shouted Howard.

Old Gregg was on his hands and knees, breathing hard. He slowly turned to look at Howard with inhuman, red-rimmed eyes. “I could make you happy.”

“No you couldn’t!” yelled Howard, getting up. “No! No!”

“Didn’t you like kissing Old Gregg? Old Gregg liked kissing Howard. It made him all excited inside. It made him want to do things with Howard. Things with my vagina. I’ve got a mangina.”

Howard could still feel Old Gregg’s saliva cooling on his mouth as he desperately scrabbled in his pocket for some change. He threw the handful of money down; it landed beside Old Gregg with a clatter. “Take this. Go back to Black Lake. Don’t you understand? I don’t love you and I never will! Find someone else. Somebody who’s not me!”

Old Gregg went strangely quiet. Inside his stiff white dress, he appeared to be crumpling.

“Oh, shit,” muttered Howard.

Streams of silent tears were rolling down Old Gregg’s face. His eyes were now even redder and larger than before and his narrow chest sobbed to a fragmented, uncoordinated rhythm. He took the money offered to him, stared uncomprehendingly at it and then clutched it tightly to his stomach. “You don’t love me?” he croaked.

“That’s right,” said Howard. “I don’t love you.” At long last he’s got it, he thought. The relief he felt was quite considerable.

“I’ll be going home, then. Back to my lake,” whispered Old Gregg.

“I think that’s best.”

“Don’t you want a watercolour? In return for the minnie? I’ve got a nice one of some Baileys.”

“No, that’s alright. You keep it for yourself. I’ll show you out now.”

“You’re such a good man, Howard.”

“Yeah, sure I am.”

Howard followed Old Gregg back down the stairway. Howard watched his wedding dress swayed from side to side with every step. They reached the door.

“Kiss me goodbye, Howard,” begged Old Gregg quietly.

For a moment Howard hesitated. Then he relaxed. Old Gregg seemed hardly even a threat any more. He seemed to have accepted Howard’s decision so completely, to be shrunk to nothing more than a colourful pathetic thing in a dress.

“Alright. Come here. Then you really have to go.”

Old Gregg lowered his eyelashes and tilted his face up towards Howard. The marks of his drying tears were streaked profusely across his skin. Howard bent down towards the dull green cheek. As he approached the waiting face, his lips brushed the mist of droplets hanging over the edge of Old Gregg’s skin. It tasted salty and ticklish. With a blaze, Howard recalled the vivid heat of Old Gregg’s mouth upon his just a few minutes ago, how Old Gregg’s dripping touches had forced their way up through his fantasies of Vince, and the secret iodine scent of them, and at the last second, a strange impulse seized him. He changed direction.

As soon as their lips met, Howard was shocked by how good it felt. Underneath him, Old Gregg immediately responded, dissolving into the kiss and letting out a little moan. Without conscious thought, Howard grabbed a lace-covered shoulder and pulled himself even closer, breathing in the fine breeze all around Old Gregg’s mouth. Old Gregg moaned again, this time even louder. Howard felt the vibrations travel all the way down his body.

Something seemed to fizzle between them, alive even through the barrier of their clothes, dancing hotly at every point where Howard touched Old Gregg’s slight frame. The pressure of an arm encircled Howard’s waist, and then Howard found himself melting right into the body next to him, all the way from chest to thigh. Inside Howard, everything was soaring at the unaccustomed rush of sensation.

Breathing deeply, he opened his mouth. His tongue brushed by Old Gregg’s moist red lips. Immediately, Old Gregg licked him right back. Then their tongues touched and Howard almost fell over. He’d forgotten how incredibly overwhelming this could be. It had been years since he’d managed it, and even then both he and the other party had been so smashed off their faces that it hardly counted. Howard reached around to mash his body even further up against Old Gregg’s, grabbing at a small round arsecheek almost swamped in the long lace dress. By now, his rapidly stiffening cock was rubbing happily against Old Gregg’s hip. It was amazingly, blissfully good. More than that; it felt absolutely right.

All of a sudden, it hit Howard hard - this was how it should be. To be turned on by someone and to have them actually want you back, not just to be continually frustrated from afar. To have someone welcome your mouth against theirs, to have them lean into your touch, and to be wriggling under you, pleading for more. With a head-spinning jolt, Howard realised that he didn’t want to stop.

A key jangled in a lock. The front door scraped abruptly open.

“Howard!” yelled Vince through the rapidly opening gap. “You still up? Sorry we had to leave you like that, but I’d promised to do the set for Pinky Bill And His Amazing Frog Orchestra. I came back as soon as I could. I thought you might want some company after…” He stopped, his keys still stuck mid-air.

Howard spun around, his face pink. His hair was all sticking up on one side and plastered across his face on the other. Quickly, he removed his hands from Old Gregg’s body.

“Am I interrupting something?” asked Vince, tilting his head in disbelief.

“No!” insisted Howard, smoothing his hair and pulling his shirt nervously down in front of him.

Vince had finally realised who was in the hall with them. “Is this…? Bloody hell! Howard! What the fuck are you playing at! What’s that doing in our flat?”

“I’m Old Gregg!” confirmed the green sea creature, with a blissful grin.

Vince took a step backwards with a sour look on his face. “Well, I see you don’t need me after all. I’ll just get back to the gig, then.” He turned around and marched outside in a clatter of heels.

“Stay there!” shouted Howard in the direction of Old Gregg, and pursued Vince out into the cold night air. A storm was definitely brewing, whistling loud and angry through the deserted streets. Both of them had to shout to make themselves heard. Howard pulled Vince back by the arm, his words whipping away in the wind.

“…left me all alone while you fucked off to your stupid electro ponce club or wherever!”

“Yeah, and I come home early to find you playing suck face with fish features! What was the point of rescuing you in the first place? You should have said if you wanted to be left alone to make babies together!”

“I don’t want his babies, you string-brained papoose! I was just…”

“Just what? Suddenly got the horn so bad that you just had to get your rocks off with a psychopathic sea monster?”

“Arrrrgh!” Howard gripped the hair on either side of his head, as if he were trying to pull out his brains by the roots. “No, you bloody idiot! How could you not have noticed? For years and years… are you blind as well as composed mainly of hairspray? It’s always been you.” As soon as the words had been said he wished a million times that he hadn’t.

Vince looked bewildered.

“Just forget it,” said Howard, through gritted teeth, looking down at his duffed-up trainers.

“You and me?” replied Vince, slowly.

“Can we forget it? It was just a joke.”

“You mean you fancy me? Really? Like a girl?”

“Forget it. Please.”

“Howard?” said Vince, staring up at him with big blue eyes. The wind caught his feathered hair, flicking it back from his face. Howard could hardly bear to look at him. He seemed too beautiful to exist. Vince tilted his head to one side, considering. “Alright then. You can kiss me if you like.”

The thought of kissing Vince for real caused sharp prickles of sweat to spring up in the crease of Howard’s palms, even out here in the chilly darkness of a Dalston squall. He didn’t dare to breathe in case it all was a dream.

“Don’t you want to?” asked Vince, stepping closer and angling one hip at him.

“God, yes.”

Howard reached out and placed a careful hand on Vince’s waist, as if to check that this was really the same person he’d known for twenty years, suddenly saying these unbelievable things. Oh my God, it was, and Vince felt so warm and alive. Howard could even feel the sinuous movement of his breathing, in and out.

Vince stretched up high on the tippy-toes of his sparkly platform boots until their mouths were hovering hardly a breath away from each other. Inside Howard’s head, all kinds of little noises were busy exploding away. He couldn’t believe this was finally happening. Why wasn’t there some way of preserving this moment forever?

He pulled Vince closer until he was right up against him. He’d spent years memorising every inch of that incredible, slender-hipped body; now he wanted to feel it so badly it hurt. That pathetic, hopeless, ridiculous fantasy of his was finally coming true. At last he was going to be able to show Vince exactly how much he really loved him. They were both going to be so happy. As he moved his lips against Vince’s, the intimate aroma of late night sweat, cigarettes and hairspray sent sparks all the way to his groin via his nipples and back again. Oh yes. This was perfect. He’d always known it would be. And the way Vince tasted was even better than he’d imagined. Vince’s long eyelashes were so intimately close. The back of Vince’s neck was so soft under his fingers. Exhaling all the way to his insteps, Howard opened his mouth and stuck his tongue…

“Urrgh! Gerroff!” shouted Vince, pushing Howard away.

Howard stumbled backwards, confused and panting wildly. His maroon cord trousers were tented around the signs of his arousal.

“Sorry, Howard,” said Vince, smearing at his mouth with the back of his hand. “Thought it might be a worth a try. Guess that settles it, though.” He giggled a little. “I just don’t get off on you. And especially not on your spit.” He wiped his mouth again, coquettishly pointed his boots inwards and made a small circle with his toe on the pavement. “Were you really planning on giving me a bumming, then? A big northern style bumming? Coming at me like a northern bullet?” He gave another giggle. “Or was I going to bum you? Perhaps we were going to take it in turns…?” The end of his sentence was cut off as Vince creased over. The wind tossed his laughter in gusts about the street.

Howard looked on in growing horror. Apparently, Vince had felt nothing but disgust, whereas Howard had been slobbering over Vince like a shiny new trumpet straight from the Jazz Fancier’s Gazette. Please let him not start thinking about how cringe-suckingly embarrassing that was. He didn’t think he could take it tonight. Not after everything else.

But he could have sworn that Vince had been kissing him back, if only for a second. Hadn’t he? Or was it just another of his Vince-fantasies? Please God, let Vince have been kissing him back. Or else, what was the point in anything, ever again?

Hold on there… wasn’t Vince supposed to be his best friend, if nothing else? What had he just come out with? Northern-style bumming? What the fuck? Where in hell’s name did he get off?

Vince was straightening up. “Okay, so that was a bit of a disaster.”

Howard glared silently.

A few last traces of giggles resurfaced, shaking through Vince’s paisley clad shoulders. Eventually they were all gone. “But you’re still getting rid of fishy features in there, aren’t you?” He looked up at Howard with big entreating eyes. “Yeah? I mean, just because I can’t bring myself to get off with you doesn’t mean you have to do it with creepy Nessie in there.”

Just like every time Vince looked deep into him, Howard’s heart gave an extra hard thump and his legs seemed to have developed a sudden watery core. However right at this moment, his body’s treacherous responses were leaving him not so much swooning and lovestruck as blood-curdlingly furious.

They stood, facing each other in the oncoming gale. The wind tossed Howard’s fine hair into a series of dark candyfloss shapes. When the gust fell, Howard’s hair was deposited in one messy lump right across his eyes. With a determined glare, he reached up and pushed it far back.

He leaned down until he was moustache to nose with Vince. “You, my friend, can take a hike. In a northern style, in a southern style, in the style of a well-greased Cockney bullet right up your ringpiece since you’re so keen on the idea. Any damn way you want. Just so long as it’s far away from me.”

And with that, Howard stomped back into the house, grabbed Old Gregg, and almost dragged the willing green body up the stairs towards his bedroom.




Part Two - Sexual Behaviour of the Lesser Spurting Crab

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