January 22nd, 2009
|accio_arse||11:18 pm - BOOSH/TORCHWOOD fic (2/4)|
Title: Bongos in the Hub part 2/4
Fandom: Torchwood/Boosh crossover
Rating: PG-13 (this part PG)
Word Count: this part 2300
Pairing: Ianto Jones/Howard Moon (Ianto/Capn Jack Harkness, Howard/Vince Noir)
DISCLAIMER: Neither The Boosh nor Torchwood is mine.
The first hurdle was one of language.
“Ah!” the moustachioed-man gasped, having returned to earth. As Ianto had spoken, he’d leapt like a frog being catapulted from a lily pad, spasmed into the air a good two feet and clattered down on his large brown boots. “You… you speak English, do you?”
“Yes,” said Ianto. “Well, you know. Not very often. Just now and again.”
“Oh?” replied the man, clasping his chest.
“Mainly on special occasions,” said Ianto. “Like when I’m talking to someone. Or when I want to communicate. You know, during times like that. I find it does help.”
The other man was still holding the front of his shirt. “Oh? But…. I thought you all spoke that… that other thing…”
Ianto nodded, seeing the difficulty. “Ah, you mean Welsh?”
“No… “ said moustache-man, gasping. “I meant Pup…” He took a breath. “Puppetry of the Leek. At least that’s what Bollo told me. He said you communicated using…” Another breath. “Using only your leeks.” He peered. His eyes narrowed into a squint. “You know, for a foreigner, your English isn’t bad. Really, I mean it. Very good. Well done.”
The man appeared sincere. It would have been churlish for Ianto to attempt further sarcasm. “Thanks,” he said. “I do try my best.”
“And that’s handy,” said the man. “I do speak languages. Dozens, of course. It’s just my Leek is a bit rusty at present. Truth be told, I haven’t got it out for years.”
Ianto stared. Perhaps he was being made fun of after all. “Okay….” he said.
The man rubbed his hands. He brightened into a smile. “Right then… I think there was the offer of a drink?”
“Yeah, sure,” said Ianto, regretting it all over again.
“Unless…” The man’s eyes flicked nervously about. “This isn’t… I mean, the offer…this isn’t…” He flattened his hands nervously against himself. “You’re not coming on to me?”
“Well. You know.” The man put one hand on a hip and wiggled it a bit. “I’m an extremely sexual person. Some even say too sexual. Some people can’t handle that – the pure sexual dynamism that shoots out from my core.”
Ianto looked at the guy, now smoothing his shirt across the nipple area and looking intently at Ianto. Yet again, he seemed to be completely serious. He swallowed a disbelieving snort. “No,” said Ianto. “I can honestly say I’m not coming on to you.”
The man took a long, deep breath. He looked relieved, but perhaps also a little disappointed. “Oh well, then.” Making a wide gesture, he took in his surroundings – the steel bar, the early buzz of customers, the glow across the bay outside. “Right. So here I am. New country, new experiences. I mean, I’m a well-seasoned traveller already, been places you couldn’t conceive of. Seen things a woman ought not to see. It’s just that, so far, that I haven’t got round to experiencing… uh…. where were we…”
“Cardiff,” prompted Ianto.
“Cardiff,” said Howard, rolling the consonants as if it were some exotic, far-flung location. “Cardiff. Rich land of opportunity. Ahhh… So - what do you locals usually take for refreshment about this time of day?”
Ianto shook his head softly to himself, leaned over and waved at the barman. “Brains,” he indicated, “Two pints.”
“Brains! Brains? You drink brains here? By the pint?” The man’s eyebrows flew up so high they nearly broke free of his forehead. Checking the bar, he realised he was surrounded and lowered his voice cautiously. “You mean….everyone here in Cardiff is a… a zombie?”
This time Ianto didn’t restrain himself. He felt great gulps breaking free from his ribs and surging out.
“It’s not funny!” said Howard. “Stop laughing! It’s horrible! Pureed brains, served in pint glasses! That’s horrific! Oh my God!” He recoiled. “Are you a zombie too?”
“No, no!” spurted Ianto, not knowing why he was so overcome. In his time, he’d seen far worse than a city of Welsh zombies. Gasping, he pointed the logo on a pint glass to Howard. “See? It’s just a name! The name of the brewery! Brains! They make it! Here in town!”
As Ianto tailed off, he realised that he hadn’t let go like that for quite a while. It could do that to a person, Torchwood. Bloodthirsty aliens three times a week, Weevil mop up weekends, and survivor tagging Thursdays – and that wasn’t even counting the office politics, which were worse. Eventually, things did get to you. Made the world a bit bleak.
Oh, how his face hurt.
Grinning, he offered his hand to the stranger. “Ianto. Ianto Jones.”
Howard coughed and accepted Ianto’s hand. He hid his previous confusion in a welter of gesture. Then he stood back, widened his legs until he formed an angle, put one hand on a knee and turned so that he presented an heroic profile. “And I, sir, am Howard TJ Moon. Poet! Inventor of the jazz sock! All-round man of action!”
Ianto raised his eyebrows and took in the offered tableau.
“I see you’re wondering about my tools,” said Howard, slapping himself vigorously just below his waist.
There was a jangling. Ianto widened his eyes.
Howard slapped himself again and several pouches attached to the low-slung belt around his middle swayed to and fro. His belt was rough and leather and festooned with attachments. Howard performed a smug gesture. “Oh yes. I noticed you eyeing that up there. A fine piece of workmanship, don’t you think?”
Actually, the first thing Ianto had noticed had not been the toolbelt itself, but the gap above, where Howard’s shirt stopped and before his trousers began. Occasionally, Howard would notice this gap, and hunch over, then pull his shirt down by the front tails in a vain attempt to make his clothing meet. It was as if his torso came in an unusual, non-standard size and he simply couldn’t get garments to fit.
Now, as Howard posed and postured, he flashed a definite rise of stomach above the belt. Perhaps all that talk about coming on to people had put ideas into Ianto’s head. Whatever the reason, he found he was becoming terribly distracted.
“See this here?” Howard held up something small and shiny. Ianto gratefully pulled away his gaze. “A quality item, sir! Ideal for the busy gent on the go!”
Ianto focused on what was in Howard’s hand. He was waving a kazoo.
“An article of many uses,” said Howard. “For instance, imagine you find yourself conducting a humming bird orchestra. Imagine you had to lead them in a solo. Merely pull out this item and – voila! Save on wear and tear of the lips! Or how about this?” This time, he had extracted an unidentifiable mess of wood and animal pelt. “My own design – a pair of Foldaway Bongos! Merely flick the struts here… and here… and pull on the tuning strings like so…” The item didn’t look that much different than they it before, but nonetheless, he struck it with the air of anticipating great music. As Ianto had expected, there was no discernable result.
“Well, you’re always going to have teething troubles,” admitted Howard, carefully folding his Foldaway Bongos away. “It’s only through experimentation that you achieve breakthroughs. That’s the price you pay for musical genius.”
“Oh, you’re into music, are you?” said Ianto. The beers arrived. He turned around and paid. As he handed Howard his pint of Brains, he remembered the hordes of Cardiff Bay zombies and held down a smile.
“Of course I’m not just any musician,” said Howard, taking his pint. “I’m the best - the cream of Yorkshire! I even have a plaque from the Mayor of Leeds - for services to jazz, above and beyond the call of duty!” He scratched along the line of his neck, as if following an itchy train of thought. “Oh, yes, they were hot for me up north! Not like some people, who wouldn’t recognise brilliance if it bit them on the balls.”
This reminded Ianto of the earlier conversation and he stole a look downwards. He wondered if there really was an imprint of a harmonica manufacturer’s name down there, on Howard’s own personal bongos, so to speak. Hard to tell, really, seeing that Howard was currently wearing trousers. Which, given the circumstances, was probably for the best.
By the time Ianto brought his attention back up, Howard was gazing bleakly into the corner, his pint dangling at an angle and spilling foamily onto the floor. “Vince,” he croaked. “I never thought he’d go… Doesn’t he get it? He’s no good without me. And the band will be rubbish…”
“Hold on there,“ said Ianto, grabbing Howard’s arm to steady the pint. “Come on, you’ll see him soon…”
Howard jumped like an electric icicle had been shoved up into his vitals. “Don’t touch!” he shrieked. “Don’t touch! Don’t touch!”
“Sorry! Sorry…” said Ianto, leaping back. Around them, people were staring.
“Just…. don’t! Ever!” said Howard. He clutched his pint with both hands, forming a shield. “Nobody… not even when… No, you’re not allowed! Just don’t!”
“I said sorry!”
A silence froze the air.
Ianto realised his pint was almost full. He took a long drink, shuffling away from Howard and wondering what Jack was doing now. Perhaps he had finished examining the tonsils of that blonde guy in uniform. Then Ianto wondered why he was bothering to wait to find out. Immediately, he knew the answer, and that depressed him even more.
Something bright was poking out of Howard’s clothing. Ianto pointed. “What’s that… yellow?” he asked, staying a safe distance away.
“You mean this?” Howard removed the fluff from a pocket of his fisherman’s-style waistcoat and teased it out. Its oily luminescence clung to his fingers. “Oh, just the hair of a yeti. You know, from near its glands on its pubic region.” As Howard turned the fluff over in his hand it seemed to cheer him up. “I remember now - I came across the yeti when it was in hibernation, all helpless and dormant in its burrow. Then I shaved its privates dry.” He sighed. “Vince was in the woods that day with me. He helped me by holding the yeti down. Sat on its face and smeared Marmite across its nipples, just in case it woke up. Apparently yetis faint at the smell of Marmite. Yeah, this is a pretty special souvenir.” Howard gave a wistful smile.
Ianto looked closer. Now he came to look at it, the fluff looked oddly like something he’d seen before. In that box Jack had shown him , back at the Hub. But that had been highly classified stuff, moult from the mountain cactus from Skaro, the home world of the Daleks. Howard couldn’t really have something alien and valuable in his possession…. could he?
Ianto shrugged. He looked away and took another drink. Perhaps it might have been worth investigating – if this guy wasn’t such an obvious nutjob. I mean – yeti pubes? Marmite? Shaving its privates dry? Where did he think Ianto was from - the planet Gullible, in the Big Dupe Nebula?
Meanwhile, Howard was only getting even more into his stride.
“…and here we have the complete works of Dostoevsky.” Out of a pouch, Howard produced a silver sachet with miniscule writing. “Just add water, rehydrates in minutes. Handy if you’re ever in emergency need of some classic Russian literature. Which can often be the case - as you no doubt have found?” He signalled hope with his eyebrows.
“Yep,” agreed Ianto, not wishing to rile the looney. Belatedly, he remembered a mention of injunctions against Howard – five, was it? Ianto stepped back a little further. Though it did seem hard to believe. Howard was eccentric perhaps, but surely not dangerous.
The pocket-searching continued and even more items emerged - a toy saxophone, some feathers, a wolf mask. Howard brought each one out gently as if it were a special treasure, cradling it in his hands. These feathers were designed for cleaning spiders, he explained – not to brush the spiders away, but to softly and efficiently dust their legs. The wolf mask was for during the times he went undercover with the woodland creatures, seeking to be at one amongst their woody ways. The plastic saxophone was a highly special item, and would only play the theme to ‘Teletubbies’, or at a pinch, the last twenty seconds of ‘Bitches Brew’ by Miles Davis.
Ianto found himself being entertained despite his misgivings. In a world of oddities, Howard was definitely an original. He pointed to a pocket in Howard’s waistcoat. “And what’s that white thing sticking out there?”
Howard’s eyes lit up in delight. “There, sir, you show your exquisite judgement.” He delved deep and brought out a leaflet entitled, ‘Sticky Situations, or, The Proper Lubrication of Trumpets’. “I composed this pamphlet myself, using only my wealth of experience and a HB pencil! Just trying to give something back to the world, you know. When you’re blessed with higher knowledge as I am, it’s only right to share.”
He presented the leaflet to Ianto using both hand and a slight genuflection.
Ianto flicked through the three-page epic. There were little drawings all down the side, of men getting into ‘sticky situations’ through the improper use of ‘valve juice’.
“They’re stick men, you see? Sticky situations?” Howard wiggled his eyebrows, urging Ianto towards closer proximity of the joke. “You get it?”
“Hmmm,” said Ianto, not very impressed. Howard’s eyebrows kept semaphoring, their frequency kept increasing, and eventually Ianto relented. “Yes, clever. Very witty.”
Howard beamed all across his face like a sunbeam had exploded in a mess. “Well then, it’s yours! Call it a gift!”
“That’s nice…” said Ianto. “But… uh… I don’t play the trumpet. So it’d be wasted.”
“No, I insist! Anyway, it might inspire you. Might give you the urge,” said Howard, again wiggling his eyebrows. “Get your juices flowing.”
Sighing, Ianto folded the pamphlet into his pocket.
Howard’s drink was long gone. He appeared to be a rapid drinker. “How about another?” he asked, and turned to order in two more Brains – but not before first explaining to the barman, with a deliberate wink, why everyone in Cardiff was a zombie, ie it was because of all the Brains they drank – you get it? Brains, zombies, you get it, you get it?
He held off for almost a minute, grinning expectantly at the barman and waiting for a response. When the barman refused to play along, Howard repeated the observation. And then again - and again, to an increasingly stoney-faced reply.
Behind Howard’s back, Ianto held up two fingers and mouthed, “Two pints?” The barman made a sound like a disgusted horse and went to fetch the glasses.
Ianto had a quick think. Well, this wasn’t so bad. True, Howard was a bit of a looney tunes, but surely harmless … and the distraction was keeping him from thinking about Jack.
Just to be safe, Ianto made a mental note to keep to blatantly public places, and never out of reach of his Steyr M9-A1 semi-automatic.
So when Howard turned round, a pint in each hand, it was Ianto who suggested they go find somewhere to sit.
There was a spot tucked away in the corner, two free chairs and the edge of a table. Howard headed towards the space, pint in each hand, glaring angrily at another couple who quickly backed off.
They took possession and moved themselves in.
Howard first unstrapped his utility belt. Then he worked free from his complicated multi-pocketed waistcoat. This seemed to involve quite a procedure. By the time he had unclamped the strapping and achieved one armhole, he already had to take a break while his lungs heaved. Then he started on the second side. The body of the waistcoat went ended up over his head while the armhole stretched across his elbow. He pulled and pulled, but couldn’t seem to get it any further. There was a sudden ripping noise.
“You okay?” said Ianto.
“Yeah!” said Howard. “I think I got it now!”
Finally, the waistcoat was draped beside Howard, and with a little look of contentment he picked up his new pint, and grinned about how much he was going to enjoy his pureed brains.
After a moment, Ianto removed his own tie, wound it into a neat spiral, and stowed it away in a pocket. Then he undid his top button.
There. Now officially off duty. It looked like it was going to be some night.