Title: All What’s Glittering
Word count: 1484
Pairing: Vince/Russell Brand, Howard/Vince (apparently one-sided)
Summary: Sort of RPS. Vince meets a man, Howard is jealous.
“Howard! Howard! Howard!”
Howard paused in the doorway to the Nabootique, uncertainly, as Vince bounded forwards from the counter with a wide white grin and his coiffure bouncing around his face, big bright eyes shining.
“Howard,” Vince breathed, halting in front of him and clasping his hands under his chin before grinning brightly “I’m in love!”
There was a small, sharp painful twist in the veins anchoring Howard’s heart into his chest. He could have put it down to indigestion, if it wasn’t for the alarming frequency of the sensation. Heartburn it wasn’t, even though his heart might be burning.
“Oh.” he said, carefully, closing the door behind him, and then, because it might not be all that fair to take it out on Vince, and because he was still trying to deny the fact that he really was jealous, added in as interested a tone as he could muster: “That’s nice for you, Vince. Want to tell me about it?”
Vince held both his hands up, taking a step backwards before twirling in a circle on the toe of his platform boot, hair flicking and black silky scarf swirling around his neck, drawing in a deep dreamy breath and releasing it in a soft sigh. His eyes stared off at the ceiling, as though daydreaming about things that Howard wasn’t a part of.
“So there was me, sitting and mindin’ the shop…” he started, hands spread wide.
“There was I, sitting and minding the shop,” Howard corrected, a little edgily, for no logical reason apart from that sometimes he just couldn’t resist showing off any rare feelings of superiority, and he did feel irritated with Vince.
“No you weren’t, Howard,” Vince replied blankly “You was off on a jazz party with Lester, yeah? You only just got back.”
Howard was about to argue that he had been fixing Vince’s grammar. But it sounded stupid and petty. Vince always made him act stupid and petty.
“So, I was just chilling, right?” Vince said, trotting over to his chair and arranging himself in a mockery of the position he’d been in earlier, even shaking his magazine open and spreading it out across his knees, half reclining with one leg crossed over the other “And in walks this guy, yeah?”
He mimed glancing up from his magazine, eyes widening in surprise at an invisible figure in the doorway. With his usual rakish, charming smile, Vince mouthed an ‘all right’? at the imaginary customer, before sliding off the chair and leaning over the counter towards Howard.
“He says ‘hello, my good gentleman!’ and flicks his sunglasses at me.”
“Sunglasses? It’s winter. Who wears sunglasses in winter?”
“Plenty of people! People who don’t have tiny pigeon eyes, Howard, you don’t get it.”
“Did he buy anything?”
Vince beamed, splaying his fingers across his chest and posing, his hips turned forwards and his torso sloped back.
“He came to give me his card. He said he had a proper ace job lined up and I looked just the bloke for it.”
“Is it as a space prostitute?” Howard inquired, aiming for wry and probably coming out bitter.
“He ain’t a space pimp,” Vince scoffed “He’s a Goth detective!”
“A what?” Howard demanded, and Vince produced a card from, it seemed, mid-air, proffering it between two black painted nails.
It had looked like an ordinary slim black business card, but when Howard took it, it had the soft luxurious texture of velvet. ‘Russell Brand, Ponderland Goth Detective Agency’ was stamped in a silver cursive script across it, along with a telephone number. Howard raised it to his face to sniff at it suspiciously; it smelled rich, musky and exotic.
“So you’re going to go off and be a Goth detective? You?” Howard scoffed, to hide the flicker of hurt from the idea that Vince was always just waiting to waltz off at the next opportunity for something shiny and exciting.
“Yeah, why not? I’d be a top detective. An’ I’m well into the Goth look.”
“It was probably just a cover for chatting you up,” Howard muttered.
Vince looked at him, considering it for a moment, before splitting into a bright, sunny smile: “Yeah,” he agreed, resting his chin on his fingers and staring off into the distance with a faraway look in his big blue eyes that wrenched Howard’s heartstrings like an angry jazzman on guitar.
Howard passed him the card back, wiping his hand off on his shirt as though it was polluting him. Vince took it, staring at the number, and sliding his mobile out of his pocket absently, turning it over in his hand before biting his lip and shoving it back.
“We’d be great detectives, me an’ him, we’re a perfect fit. We’re a couple of cheeky Cockney sparrows.”
Unlike Howard, who was more like a grumpy Northern mallard, and not the kind of stylish man to be seen on Vince Noir’s arm. He could see this guy in his mind’s eye, a beautiful svelte creature in trendy clothes with a charming grin but nothing of Vince‘s childish wonder.
“He has great hair, Howard, it’s like this massive bouffant of eroticism and hairspray. He’s a genius. I reckon he has to drip himself in his jeans with a funnel ‘cos they’re so tight.”
His phone was out again, his thumb ghosting absently over the buttons, clearly working out whether or not to make the call yet. He rocked on the toes of his pointy silver boots, chewing his lip. Like an anxious teenager not wanting to act too desperate. That was a feeling Howard knew all too well. But this was Vince, everybody adored Vince, and he was sure without meeting the guy that Russell Brand would love Vince madly. Even if he was as much of a superficial tart as Vince, he would love Vince for being impossibly gorgeous. Even if he wasn’t completely obsessed with appearances, he’d love Vince because he was made of sunshine and rainbows and crushed unicorn dust.
Eventually, Vince apparently figured that it wasn’t too needy to call after an hour gap, and Howard discreetly kept his distance while his best friend fluttered and flirted down the phone. Discreetly, or maybe more likely, probably, because he didn’t think he could hear all of that aimed at somebody else who wasn’t him before vomiting horribly all over his stationery.
Vince came off the phone with a massive grin, calling out to Howard that he was off to meet Russell in a bar to talk about possibilities of a job before clattering off to change outfit. Probably into something even more slutty and revealing, though Howard doubted that was possible, since his own eyes had been out on stalks all day with Vince’s new painted on pants and low cut shirt showing off far too much skin for any hot-blooded man to be able to stand without a cold shower. Howard fitted his headphones over his ears, settling into some hard, comforting jazz while Vince sang to himself, pottering around his wardrobe to put on his best pulling gear.
The thing was, Howard thought soberly to himself after Vince had disappeared out of the shop with a swish and a smile, it wouldn’t work. Howard knew it was never going to work, even if Vince filled himself with dizzy optimism and flung himself, heart first, into any attempts at romance. Because Vince seemed to convince himself that he was destined to be with all the pretty young things, a glam rock goddess like he was, and forgot that it was never going to work out. People like that, people like Vince, they needed to take up all the space in a room, to devour all of the attention, and Howard knew, and maybe Vince knew too deep down, that he could never equally share the limelight with anybody. That was why Howard tried to stay positive that one day, Vince would realise that what he really needed was somebody patient, who would give the attention rather than demand it, who would be captivated with each new outfit, but know that there was more to Vince’s sparkle than the mirrors on his suit. Somebody like Howard Moon.
He was Vince’s friend, and it wasn’t that he wanted Vince’s love life to collapse in ruins. But he knew it was going to happen, sooner or later, and he cursed himself for not having the guts to just say what was in his head and stop this whole damn mess. But for now, he sat down to wait up for Vince to get back, with water in the kettle for a mug of hot chocolate and his poncho warming on the radiator, ready to give out all the comfort a good friend should when Vince came back disappointed. Perhaps maybe one day he’d be enough, but for now this was all he could give.