[identity profile] bluestocking79.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] booshslashhaven
Title: The Mighty Boosh Christmas Special of Glitter – Chapter 1
Pairing: Howard Moon/Vince Noir
Summary: In which Howard is plotting, Vince is worrying, Naboo is partying, and Christmas is coming—er, arriving—very soon.
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 2800
Notes: I’m SO sorry for needing a whole week to get the ball rolling, but I hope the fact that it’s a super-sized chapter makes up for the lateness, and I’m delighted to get this party started! Massive thanks to the astoundingly patient [livejournal.com profile] ideserveyou for organizing all of this; I am ridiculously excited to see where the rest of you will take this story.
Extra Important Note: Since I’m starting, I made the executive decision to make this an official sequel to this year’s Halloween Special of Doom, and I specifically found my inspiration for our direction in the wonderful epilogue written by [livejournal.com profile] life_downsized. She gave us a potential setup so tantalizing there that I couldn’t not use it.


In the cardboard box in the corner of the bedroom he shared with his… Vince, Howard Moon was hiding a secret in plain sight, safely stashed under a stack of just-slightly-askew jazz albums that Vince would never give a first glance, much less a second one. And it was a secret that was going to make this Christmas, their first Christmas together, one to remember, yes sir.



He’d been hiding it for over a month already, and the anticipation of keeping it a secret was killing him. Vince was usually the one to be bursting with giddy excitement over Christmas, but this year, Howard felt like he was starting to understand how that worked. In moments when he knew very well the coast was clear—when Vince had gone out to do something daft with Leroy, usually—he’d sometimes lift the records up to just gaze down at the little box hidden there and imagine the look that would be on Vince’s face when Howard offered it to him and gave the little speech he’d painstakingly prepared and rehearsed.

It was a small wooden box, elegant in its clean-cut, noble simplicity, but given the person for whom it was intended, Howard had opted to decorate it with the shiniest, most spectacular bow he could find, so brilliant it almost seemed to generate light on its own. There was a kind of visual symbolism there, he felt, the plain brown box against a shiny silver bow, and it made him grin.

As for what was in the box, well… Howard actually had no idea, although he knew that it was a precious and momentous thing to give, and that was the important bit. It was a Moon family heirloom that had been passed down over generations, but exactly what the box contained was one of those things his family didn’t really talk about, much like their feelings. And although there were plenty of traditions in Howard’s family that he’d be quite happy to leave in the past where they belonged, he’d always rather liked the idea of this one.

On the day Howard’s mother had given him the box for safekeeping, she’d told him to hold onto it and give it to the right special monster—er, person—for him, when he found them. And he’d been keeping it safe ever since, for… quite a few… years, frequently despairing of ever finding anybody to offer it to. But if there had ever been any lingering doubts in Howard’s mind that Vince was that person to him, they’d been extinguished over the last few months, as they’d settled into something like a real relationship and Howard had started listening to old jazz standards with new ears, finally understanding what people were singing about in ways he now realized that he’d never quite grasped before. The process of working out this new phase of their relationship hadn’t been without some wobbles and missteps and miscommunications—Howard had enough issues for a team of therapists, and not much experience—but Vince was patient and accepting, and they’d been working them out together as a team, instead of working against each other. It was just like old times, only better.

Much, much better, actually. The kind of better that made Howard prone to staring off into space with a dopey grin on his face, which Naboo and Bollo both declared creepy but Vince seemed to find endearing, so that was all right.

The whole situation was embarrassing and frightening and utterly wonderful and everything he’d never realized he wanted out of life. It had always been Vince, really; he’d looked upon all the weirdest secret bits of Howard and his history and not only had he never turned away, but he’d been right there to crack reassuring jokes and stand by Howard’s side (or only slightly behind him) through all of it. Howard had just needed the push to help him realize that. It was slightly galling to owe the greatest epiphany of his life to Eleanor’s meddling, and he wasn’t sure it entirely made up for them having been imprisoned in a mirror maze of their own worst fears and nightmares for a month of their lives, but it was difficult to argue that the end result was worth it. Given the choice, he wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Well. He probably could have done without being threatened with marriage to Old Gregg again. But other than that.

In any case, Vince was Howard’s special person and now Howard knew it, even if he still often struggled to find ways to express that sentiment. And on Christmas Eve, Howard was going to provide Vince the proof of exactly how special he was to him.

Best of all, thanks to Howard’s masterful planning, Vince wouldn’t suspect a thing. Vince loved surprises and Christmas and gifts and feeling special.

There weren’t a lot of things that Howard got right, but for once in his life, he was going to make sure that Vince’s Christmas was perfect.

***********************

Howard was planning something for Christmas. Vince was sure of it.

Not only because Howard was rubbish at being discreet and playing it cool and keeping secrets, although all of that was true. Howard loved to think of himself as a sophisticated and complicated man of many mysteries, but the truth was that he was easier to read than one of Vince’s Charlie stories. He looked shady and vaguely guilty even when he was perfectly innocent, and the moment Howard actually had anything to hide, his little shifty crab eyes started darting every which way, and his mustache went all quivery, and he got even twitchier than usual, wound so tightly that you couldn’t even ask him if he fancied a brew without him exploding with a defensive Don’t touch me!

But on top of all of his usual tells, Howard was clearly excited about Christmas this year, walking around with a little self-satisfied smile all the time and humming horrible jazzy versions of Christmas songs to himself and even offering to help Vince decorate both the flat and the Nabootique without making a single grumpy crack about Vince’s beloved Ziggy Stardust tree topper or the amount of glitter and color and animal print Vince’s seasonal decorating choices involved. That was a sign, surely. Howard had always gamely helped Vince with all his enthusiastic holiday preparations (after all, somebody had to get the holiday things down from storage and put ornaments on the branches Vince couldn’t reach), but always with a fair bit of under-the-breath grumbling and eye-rolling and a spectrum of expressions that ranged from long-suffering and put-upon to superficially-annoyed-but-grudgingly-charmed. (Or, as Howard called it, Moravian Indulgence.) Christmas wasn’t a thing that Howard really looked forward to; it was too full of things that made him uncomfortable, like shoving crowds of people and bright colors and public affection and parties, and that was all right, because Vince got more than excited enough for both of them. But for Howard to be enthusiastic about Christmas now without Vince having prodded and wheedled him into it all the way… well, he had to be up to something.

And he was. He definitely was. Vince knew for a fact that Howard was hiding something, because he’d found the proof himself, right there in Howard’s secret hiding space in the corner, under the jazz records that he obviously thought Vince would never dare to touch. Admittedly, Vince had encouraged that impression with a thousand comments about how he’d never want to go near that corner of the room, lest his jazz allergy flare up and his neck go all big—but that was because he couldn’t have Howard figuring out that he knew where his hiding spot was. There were times when it could be dead useful to be underestimated, and Vince wasn’t above taking advantage.

He’d only had to wait for a day when Howard was at work and wouldn’t be expecting Vince to show up for at least another few hours, so he could dig underneath the just-slightly-less-than-perfectly-straight albums in the cardboard box in the corner. And sure enough, Vince had found that Howard was hiding something there: a small wooden box. A very small wooden box. The sort that you could really only fit a very few, very specific sort of things in. Things like, say, a ring.

Howard was hiding a ring box in their bedroom. A ring box with a silvery, beautiful, sparkly, very un-Howardy holographic bow on top of it. No prizes on guessing who it was for and what it might mean. Vince knew he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box, but he reckoned even he could put those puzzle pieces together.

Howard was going to propose to Vince on Christmas, and the thought was exciting… but mostly terrifying.

It wasn’t the being-together-forever-with-Howard bit that was scary. Actually, that part sounded well genius, and also basically like what Vince had been picturing as their future since he’d been about nine years old. He’d never been able to imagine a future that hadn’t had Howard in it. And, all right, when he closed his eyes and thought of his future now, in his mental images he saw himself and Howard still together and happy and having adventures, just older and greyer (or at least Howard was older and greyer, at any rate—there was no need to be depressingly realistic in his own fantasies). And maybe sometimes when he saw cute little old couples on park benches, or helping one another up the stairs or out of a taxi, the brief but almost unbearably soppy thought flashed across Vince’s mind: One day, that’s gonna be us.

So it wasn’t the idea of being with Howard forever that was the problem. The problem was that, for reasons he didn’t really understand, whenever Vince thought about Christmas Eve and imagined the actual proposal, all big and sweeping and romantic, and Howard down on one knee, holding out the little box and looking so very expectantly up at Vince, Vince’s face felt hot and his heart started beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings and his stomach and throat clenched up into a huge horrible knot that was hard to breathe past, and he just generally felt the urge to squirm and curl into a ball like he’d used to do when he was a nipper, as tiny as he could make himself, and hide his face and not be seen by anybody, not even Howard. Especially not Howard.

He’d figured they’d maybe get married someday in the future, and he knew Howard loved grand gestures and poetry and hearts and flowers and all that romantic stuff, so of course he’d want to make it all nice and would have some built-up, planned out fantasy of how ideal proposals were supposed to be. But Vince hadn’t planned on it happening so soon; he’d thought they’d have more time to just enjoy themselves and figure out how to be together that way. Even though they’d been living together for ages, they’d only actually been dating for a few months, and it wasn’t like either of them knew anything about how to have a proper grown-up relationship. Vince didn’t even really know much of anything about how to be a grown-up at all.

But now the time was coming, soon, when Howard was going to ask Vince to marry him, and he was going to be so excited and so happy and so vulnerable and so hopeful… and there was really no way Vince could look at him and say, “No, I need more time, but maybe later?” He knew Howard, sometimes almost too well, and he knew exactly what Howard would think and how he’d take it. In Vince’s mindtank, he kept imagining Howard’s devastated face from the time when Vince had let himself be pushed into ruining Howard’s precious record, only a million times worse. It was horrible. Howard would hear “I don’t want you” if Vince said “not yet,” would assume that Vince didn’t love him and never really had, and he’d close up tight and curl in on himself and declare their relationship was over and done with, no matter what Vince said or did to try and explain. And then things would get weird and strained and awkward, and they’d both be miserable, and Vince would have ruined everything. Vince had let Howard down before, more times than he liked to think about, but not even all of those combined could be as terrible as Vince mucking this up.

Somehow, even over all the years they’d known each other and all the things they’d been through, Howard had never realized that Vince was messed up. The time for him to find out was quickly approaching, though, and even as Vince threw himself into the excitement of going all-out for Christmas as a distraction, sparkling as hard as he could, he felt the dread mixing into the anticipation, constantly sitting in his chest like a huge, hard, lump of ice that wouldn’t melt.

For the first time in his life, Vince Noir wasn’t looking forward to Christmas. At all.

***********************

On the day before the day before Christmas, Howard locked the shop door and flipped the sign to Sorry, we’re closed at 5:30 on the dot—half an hour earlier than they were meant to close, but Vince definitely wasn’t complaining and Naboo and Bollo had already gotten a head start on their holiday shamans’ retreat in Cabo, so Vince reckoned they were already blitzed out of their minds on tequila and half a dozen different galactic party drugs. What Naboo didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

“Soooo…” Howard began, trying and failing to seem casual. “Tomorrow at eight o’clock for drinks, yeah? That’s still on, right?”

“Yeah, course it’s on! You spanner,” Vince said, rolling his eyes but unable to stop the creep of affection into his tone. “As if we haven’t done that for the last twen—er, ten Christmases. What, you think I’m suddenly gonna start ditching you and making different Christmas Eve plans, just cos we’re—” Vince’s mouth suddenly went dry as his brain cell caught up to where that sentence might go. “Just cos we’re… us, now?”

“Well.” Howard became fascinated with inspecting the state of Stationery Village. Vince had taken it on himself to decorate it for the season, all Blu-tack tree ornaments and pushpin fairy lights and shiny silver paperclip garlands, and the effect was a bit good. “I know you’re very busy. I didn’t want to presume.”

Howard. Seriously?”

“Oh, quiet, you. I’m just—very much looking forward to it, that’s all.”

Howard’s mustache was twitching and he was fiddling with the stray curls hanging over his collar in the way that meant he was feeling vulnerable and nervous, but there was no missing the guarded, hopeful excitement in his expression. As he fidgeted, the light glittered off his blazer, which was a dire mud-colored corduroy but was much improved by the red sprig of spare tinsel Vince had used to fashion a silly boutonniere to stick in Howard’s lapel that morning. (He was currently wearing the rest of it as a boa, draped around his neck and across his shoulders.) It suddenly occurred to Vince that Howard hadn’t so much as whined once about being accessorized, and the fact that he’d left it there all day gave Vince such a warm, fluttery feeling of something welling up in his chest that for one ridiculous and embarrassing minute, he felt like he might cry.

Vince couldn’t disappoint him. He couldn’t.

Love was all about compromising anyway, wasn’t it? He didn’t really know about those things, but he was sure he’d heard that somewhere. You gave a little bit so that the other person could have something that made them happy. And he wanted to make Howard happy, loved seeing Howard genuinely happy. It looked so good on him. Howard deserved happiness; he’d waited too long for it already.

“Me too,” he volunteered, after swallowing hard and making his smile extra bright for Howard’s benefit. “It’s gonna be genius.”

Howard puffed up in smug satisfaction, tiny eyes crinkling with warmth. “Yes, well, something like that. Eight o’clock tomorrow it is, then. I’ll be there with bells on. Haha! That’s one of mine,” he added, punctuating the joke with finger guns. “You know, bells… because it’s Christmas…”

“Yeah, I got it, Howard,” Vince reassured, patting him on the shoulder and pressing a kiss to his bristly cheek. (Vince had grudgingly agreed to allow Howard’s Beard Experiment to go forward, on the condition that Howard had to groom it regularly, or else the Midnight Barber would shave it all off in his sleep.) “I’ll be there at eight tomorrow, promise, bells ‘n all. I won’t let you down!”

And he wouldn’t. He was going to make sure this Christmas was perfect for Howard.

Date: 2015-12-14 05:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com
What a beginning! That's genius! I wondered if the mystery in the Halloween epilogue would show up for the Christmas story, and wow, has it, and to great effect. And it's just heartbreakingly angsty, which I love. Definitely worth the wait!

Date: 2015-12-15 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com
Not too soon with the happiness, I hope--I would love to play with the angst, and I'm way down the list. *g* I think this is a great way to frame this round, as an angsty relationship story with lots of room for character revelations/growth and more potentially Booshy magical shenanigans, with an incidental Christmas setting. The connection to the Halloween round also creates a sort of sub-canon for people to draw on, which is great. I'm excited by all the possibilities!

Date: 2015-12-14 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] headphones366.livejournal.com
Wonderful start! I can't wait to see what comes next!

Date: 2015-12-14 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sallysorrell.livejournal.com
Absolutely amazing! Your interpretations of the characters are wonderful, too.
Also, possibly the most pointless of all observations, but Howard's beard and the Midnight Barber line and Vince kissing his cheek is a fave. Thank you for that.

Date: 2015-12-22 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worriedeye.livejournal.com
Watcha Bluey! It's taken me an embarrassingly long time to get around to reading this but can I be honest and say that I'm glad I did because it is now "the day before the day before Christmas" for me.

As everyone has said, using the Halloween Story as a lead in is a fabulous idea. Every year's Special of Doom has been great, but I do feel there's something particularly wonderful about this year's. I dunno, maybe because of the number of writers involved (and because of all the Noel and Ju goodness we're getting at the moment bringing us even closer together). The Special felt more than ever like a family affair this time around, so your choice to carry it on is inspired. It makes me feel rather warm and toasty with booshlrness.

What's more inspired however is your decision in having Vince know about the box. Of course Howard wouldn't be able to keep his anticipation and enthusiasm fully under wraps. Of course Vince would know exactly where he'd hide such a gift. I say of course not because it was obvious to me before your chapter, but because that on reading your chapter I found myself exclaiming aloud "Of course!" and "Yes, that's brilliant!" pretty much from start to finish. You've captured both of them so well. With every description I picture the scene perfectly, picture their faces, their expressions, their tones of voice - Vince's eye rolling, Howard's moustache twitching - all of it!

I think that's when you know you've read the work of a great Boosh writer - when it's so in character that really it was all quite obvious from the start - it has to happen this way - there's no other way events could have unfolded. That's what you've done here for us Bluey - you've skillful written a chapter that I would not have thought about writing myself but that somehow is the only thing that could have been written. I'm not sure if I'm making much sense. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that it takes a very clever Boosh writer to strip off a piece of the show's essentialness and lay it before us readers in the form of a creative and highly engaging short chapter. Thank you Bluey. It's a grand opening! xx

Date: 2015-12-26 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hobbit-feets.livejournal.com
So! Here I finally am, and let me just say first of all what a fantastically rich first instalment this is for the fic, and how entirely, hand-rubbingly delighted I am to be taking it on from you. You've set up so much here! And what a great idea to carry it on from the Hallowe'en Special.

You always hit the nail right on the head when it comes to a good third person limited narration, and this one is no exception, how you set up the situation from both of their perspectives, and of course it makes perfect understandable sense to each of them the way they're perceiving it, but the reader, seeing both, is just going DAMNIT BOYS, GDI, YOU'RE MAKING THIS MORE DIFFICULT THAN IT NEEDS TO BE.

Howard and his thoughts about their relationship just make me want to hug him. Being all satisfied at the ~symbolism of the box with its noble simplicity contrasted with the glittery bow, and being alright with Naboo and Bollo thinking his dopey smiles are creepy, because Vince seems to find them endearing and that's the important thing. His smug conviction in his own cleverness about his ~sneaky planning, and: There weren’t a lot of things that Howard got right, but for once in his life, he was going to make sure that Vince’s Christmas was perfect. Oh, Howard. There's Howard, under his beaten-down s3 self, knowing that he doesn't often get things right BUT DAMNIT HE'S GOING TO DO IT THIS TIME. The irony is a bit wrenching.

And then the switch to Vince, oh boy. You really do get right into his insecurities and confusions and write them in the most fantastically visceral way. The way he constructs this Catch 22 for himself, where, yeah, those outcomes are not impossible, or even unlikely, in a worst-case scenario, but he's so convinced that he knows exactly what Howard will do and hasn't quiiiiiite yet got his head 'round the idea that there are other ways to work these things out.

Just: Vince’s face felt hot and his heart started beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings and his stomach and throat clenched up into a huge horrible knot that was hard to breathe past, and he just generally felt the urge to squirm and curl into a ball like he’d used to do when he was a nipper, as tiny as he could make himself, and hide his face and not be seen by anybody, not even Howard

GOD, MY TWISTY ACHEY CHEST. My own heart nearly starts racing in sympathy.

But it totally rings true for Vince that he... basically always assumed he'd spend the rest of his life with Howard, even before they started dating, but all the Expectations and the weight of what he imagines marriage to mean are terrifying. Those aren't things he's good at, and of course he freaks out at the prospect.

BUT THEN, oh my god, the final third, with the adorable banter and so many delightful little details. Stationery Village decorated for the holiday, the shamans off on a holiday retreat getting blitzed out of their skulls, Howard's Beard Experiment! Recalling, surely, your thoughts on how Howard would only ever grow a beard if he either was feeling much more confident in himself or so miserable that he just didn't care anymore. And then, oh, Howard with his awkward hopefulness and vulnerability and terrible dorky jokes (which he then explains. With fingerguns!) is perfect. And the little beat where Vince notices that Howard's kept the tinsel boutonnière and never complained once, and that's what decides him-- oof. OH VINCE. That's just heartwrenching.

Anyway, yes, all that is to say everything happening here is great, and I am super excited to continue it.

Date: 2016-01-04 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Apparently, I didn't comment on this before! You know I love it, but I really enjoyed re-reading it. There are so many little moments and details that convey how much they love each other. They haven't quite settled into coupledom or found their footing, but they are so happy to be taking those early steps! I love Howard actually feeling like he's doing something right and being happy to have a special person (who isn't a monster) to give his gift to. He finally found his happy ending and nothing could ever go wrong... I also love Vince's constant observations of Howard. He's like Sherlock Holmes but slightly gayer. He sees everything and knows what every gesture means, but he can't see through his own fears. He is already prepared for how he will absolutely destroy Howard, and their entire friendship and relationship, if he can't respond in just the right way to Howard's proposal. He's trying so hard and all he has to be is Vince (and not Old Gregg).

Date: 2016-02-04 05:53 pm (UTC)
ext_72072: (Doctor Who Martha)
From: [identity profile] garrideb.livejournal.com
So I'm only just reading this now, because I'm terrible at cliffhangers so I figured I'd wait until a few installments were written before diving in, but now suddenly it's my turn so it's time to catch up.

And what a lovely start you've provided this story! I love that Howard doesn't even know what's in the box, just that it's Meaningful and Symbolic in all the ways Howard loves, and now he finally has someone towards whom to make those grand sweeping romantic gestures. I loved the line about Howard listening to old Jazz standards with new ears; that's gotta be the most Howard way of experiencing passion.

And then poor Vince! Too afraid of breaking Howard to admit that things might be moving too fast. The thing is, unlike a lot of miscommunication plot elements, where the characters need to just use their words, I can totally understand why Vince would just keep quiet and play along here. It's an awkward knot of a situation, and he has good reason to believe Howard would shut down at the first sign of hesitance from Vince. Ouch.

I love they way you write both of them. The tinsel boutonniere and boa is just about the sweetest thing ever. I just want a happy ending for them so badly! And yet I suspect there'll be plenty of more angst for them before this Special of Glitter is over... so off I go to part 2! Thank you for giving us such a beautifully-set stage!

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