[identity profile] ideserveyou.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] booshslashhaven
Title: Christmas Special of Glitter, The Last Chapter
Summary: It all turns out alright in the end
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Length: a paltry 2500 words, sorry
Spoilers:  See Summary
Disclaimer: These are not my characters. I know them so well, but still I don’t own them and they’re not making me any money, they’re just making me happy. Don’t ask why they make me happy in this particular way. They just do.
Notes:  I screwed up. Some ‘special of doom/glitter organizer’ I am. Took my eye off the ball and the next thing I know, not only is Halloween past and gone, but it’s next Christmas. I can only apologize to all you lovely and very patient people. Next time – if there even IS a next time – I strongly suggest letting someone else ‘organize’ the seasonal round robin! Merry Xmas one and all, and I hope this goes a little way towards making up for my shortcomings...
Link to masterpost is here so you can catch up on the story so far.

Christmas Special of Glitter, The Last Chapter

‘I’m – ’

‘We know who you are,’ Vince snaps, and tugs at Howard’s body’s hand. ‘C’m’on Howard, we need to keep going. It’s not safe here.’

‘Wasn’t talking to you, ugly lady. Get your hands off of Howard, he’s private property. Old Gregg’s waited a long time to get his fuzzy little man-peach back.’

‘He’s n-not yours.’ Vince’s voice wavers, despite himself. The smell of seaweed and desperation wafting through the air is making his stomach turn, and the scaly webbed hand gripping his arm is hideously strong.

Shouts ring out in the dark behind them. ‘This way to the bar, boys!’ ‘Yes boss!’ ‘I’m a cockney, I’ve got my arris in gear, nice cuppa tea...’ ‘Shut yer yap or I’ll slash yer up,’ a harsh voice cuts in. ‘Talkin’ of which, this looks like a good quiet spot fer a  quick siphon of the old python, you lot carry on an’ get us a drink, I’ll catch yer up when I’ve made room for it.’

A prodigious sound of splashing follows, as the other voices fade into the distance.

Great. The Hitcher’s just round the corner, preoccupied, and we can’t get to him. What’re we gonna do, Howard?

Lemme think, little man... There is a way, possibly... Talk to Gregg. You know what you have to say.

Vince takes a deep breath. ‘OK Gregg, you win.’

‘Come again, glitterboots? You’re giving up sexy Howard without a fight?’

Vince lets go of Howard’s hand and sticks his own hands behind his back, so Howard can’t get hold of him again. ‘You proposed to him first. An’ you’ve waited for years. It’s only fair.’

Gregg’s watery blue gaze locks with Vince’s. It’s like looking into a warped mirror of all Vince’s own fears and longings and secret inadequacies. Vince steels himself to focus, not to look away, not to let Gregg catch a glimpse of Howard looking out of Vince’s eyes...

Abruptly the contact is broken, and Gregg lets go of Vince’s arm to take Howard gently by the hand. ‘Howard? You’re awful quiet.’

‘He’s had a lot to drink.’ Vince edges away. ‘I’ll, um, leave you two in peace, shall I?’

There is no answer; Gregg is gazing adoringly into Howard’s eyes.

We can’t waste time, Vince, come on. He won’t hurt me – I mean, my body – I mean, well, even if – I’m in here, I won’t know – Let’s just not think about that, eh? We’ve got a job to do.

You got a plan? To get your box back off of the Hitcher?

Umm...

‘Oi! Who’s there? Can’t a geezer take a jimmy in peace?’

‘Sorry,’ Vince says, stepping around the edge of the dark pool spreading across the pathway, ‘didn’t realise there was anyone ‘ere... I was, um, lookin’ for a nice quiet corner to... er, you know...’

‘Plenty of room ‘ere, come an’ join the piss party,’ the Hitcher says genially. ‘We can make it mutual if yer like that sort of thing. I know I do. Got plenty of good Cockney urine left to make a pretty lake around those shiny boots of yours. Wotcher say?’

‘Um, no thanks... I mean, maybe later?’

The Hitcher’s polo mint monocle glints in the moonlight. ‘Do I know you from somewhere, boy? Them boots looks familiar.’ He shakes himself off; readjusts his clothing. ‘Oh, yeah, got it. You work in that crap shop. With that geezer wot looks like Tom Selleck. Where is ‘e, by the way?’

‘Dunno.’ Vince shrugs.

‘Hold it right there.’ A bony hand shoots out and grabs Vince’s shoulder. ‘That’s a pretty necklace you got on, boy, very pretty indeed. Where’d ya get it?’

‘It was – it was an early Christmas present,’ Vince stammers, ‘f- from Howard... I dunno where he – ’

‘I’ve taken a right fancy to it, so I ’ave.’ The Hitcher lifts the pendant on its chain, turning it this way and that. ‘Bin looking for one like this for years. Supposed to improve yer outlook, these are.’

‘Ow – outlook?’

‘Vision, boy, vision. The one thing wot I don’t have much of, on account of me solo polo eye. I read the instructions for one of these in a box wot I found recently. ’And it over.’

‘But it was a present,’ Vince pleads. ‘You can’t just take it, an’ leave me with nuffink.’

‘I’m not an unreasonable man.’ The Hitcher yanks the chain over Vince’s head. ‘An’ seein’ as  you’re a feller Cockney, I’ll do you a deal. I get the pretty necklace an’ me twenty-twenty vision, an’ you get...’

The box, Howard urges, get him to give you the box...

‘The box?’ Vince says hopefully.

The Hitcher cocks his head to one side. ‘The box, eh? Well, I suppose, I won’t be needin’ it now I’ve got the amulet. Fair’s fair. If you’re sure you wouldn’t rather have a golden shower...’ He reaches into a pocket in his long black coat.

‘No thanks.’ Vince takes the box and hangs on to it tightly. ‘Although... there’s a funny-lookin’ bloke around the corner who might like it... Gotta run, cheers!’

The Hitcher’s cane lashes out with lightning speed and cracks him across the shins, bringing him sprawling down on the soggy ground.

‘Not so fast, boy. If this don’t work, I’ll be wantin’ me box back, a deal’s a deal after all. You stay right there.’

Vince, Howard whimpers, I can hear the Reaper coming...

A swelling noise of voices and footsteps is coming down the alleyway.

The Hitcher lifts the amulet chain over his head.

Nothing happens.

It didn’t work, why didn’t it work, he’s going to kill us, and I’ve got so much to give...

The Hitcher bends over Vince; reaches out a hand. Vince clutches the little wooden box even more tightly, but to his surprise, the Hitcher takes his other hand, the empty one, and carefully raises Vince to his feet.

And now another pair of blue eyes is boring into Vince’s, and there’s something very familiar behind them, but Vince can’t quite place it.

‘Howard?’ The Hitcher’s voice is oddly quavery.

Vince feels a sudden surge of joy from Howard.

Howard, what’s goin’ on? What’ve we got to be happy about?

Everything. Let me take over?

OK, but –

Vince cedes control to Howard, and he can’t deny that it’s a relief, to let someone else do the thinking.

Howard cracks Vince’s face into the biggest smile he’s ever smiled, and whispers joyfully: ‘Nan?’

‘Howard, you girt barmcake, what sort of pickle have you gone and got yourself into now? No, don’t tell me, let me guess. This is your chosen paramour and you decided to go ahead and take the outlook test without reading the instructions properly. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother...’

Is this your nan?

Well, it certainly isn’t anybody else.

How the fuck did she end up inside this geezer?

‘Watch your language, young man. I heard that.’ Nan Moon wags the Hitcher’s forefinger reprovingly. ‘This gentleman of the road was an unsuccessful suitor for my hand, years ago. His consciousness is presumably currently inhabiting my ethereal spirit somewhere up on the North York Moors.’ She chuckles. ‘That’ll give Auntie Ethel Moon summat to think about at the family Christmas seance. And I’m stuck inside this green horror for a while until I can work out how to sort us out again. Meanwhile... Howard love, where’s your actual body got to?’

‘Oh shit.’ Vince points to the alleyway. ‘I mean, oh dear. We left Howard down there, and now...’

‘And now my grandson’s corporeal essence is in danger and we’ve got work to do. Come along, lads.’ Nan sets off briskly for the alleyway, dragging Vince with her.

They round the corner, and Vince shivers.

A mob of ghosts, ghouls and skeletons is gathered around Gregg and Howard, pinning them against the marble wall of a crypt. The Reaper is at the front, scythe raised. Gregg is standing in front of Howard, protecting him, as the circle draws ever closer.

Nan clears her throat loudly. Lots of hollow eyes turn in their direction.

‘Ah, squire, good evening,’ The Reaper greets the presumed Hitcher. ‘We was about to take this one to Limbo but if you want ’im fer yer own diabolical purposes, ’e’s all yours.’

‘Ta...’ Nan coughs, and starts again. ‘Er, I mean, cheers mate. Elsie will be delighted.’ She pushes her way through the crowd, Vince at her side.

‘Hands off,’ Gregg screeches, as Vince reaches for Howard’s hand and squeezes it tight. ‘Howard belongs to Old Gregg now. You said so.’

‘Had me fingers crossed behind me back, didn’t I.’

Gregg snarls with fury and lunges at Vince, but Howard steps in between them and holds him off, with surprising strength.

‘Here’s Elsie! Pinata time,’ a voice from the crowd says, and the other voices take it up, ‘Pinata time! Pinata time!’, pressing in all around them, until Vince can  hardly breathe.

He shuts his eyes tight.

There is a bang, and a flash of light through his closed eyelids, and a load of bells start ringing.

Have we died, Howard? Was that it?

Not at all, little man. It’s all right, look.

Vince opens his eyes again, and opens them wider still.

Vivid fireworks are blazing across the sky, and the bells of the city are chiming midnight and ringing out for Christmas Day.

Old Gregg is huddled at their feet, hands pressed over his ears to keep out the noise.

And the Hitcher – or rather, Nan Moon in the Hitcher’s body – is the only other person present. The Reaper and his minions are gone.

‘So... what happens now?’ Vince asks.

Nan Moon looks deep into Vince’s eyes, and smiles. ‘Well, you’ve passed the test at any rate, I’m certain of it. I’m just not sure why both of you are still in the one body.’ She stares into his eyes still deeper.

‘Nan?’

‘Yes love?’

‘Can you get Gregg to stop followin’ us around?’

‘Hmm. I can wipe his memory before I send him home, that should do it.’

‘And can you get me an’ Howard back how we’re supposed to be?’

‘It’s going to be a bit tricky, but we’ll find a way.’ Nan pats Vince’s hand. ‘I bet that useless bunch of useless shamen told you some story about having to pour you both into a pond and separate you, as if you were gravy. Honestly, I never did have any time for them, they’re about as much use as a chocolate teapot when it comes to the crunch.’

‘How DARE you speak to me of the crunch?’ A tall, angry figure in a feathered hat is suddenly standing beside them.

‘I didn’t.’ Nan Moon doesn’t even bother to look round. ‘Saboo, you posh prune, I try not to speak to you lot at all if I can help it, as you well know. Being dead is a big help in that respect.’

‘Respect is what we need here,’ says the shapeless tentacled blob that Saboo is carrying under his arm. ‘You can’t talk to shamen like that, it’s an outrage!’

‘Tony Harrison. Not like you to be late to the party.’ Nan sighs. ‘Have you two come to make yourselves useful or am I just being a hopeless optimist?’

‘No, you’re just being hopeless,’ Saboo says. ‘Step aside, madam, or sir, or whatever you are, and leave this to the professionals. We have the solution to this problem, right here.’

Gregg looks up with a puzzled expression and says ‘Howard?’

Vince looks up, to see Howard standing right in front of him.

Looks up at Howard, right beside him.

And back at Howard, right in front of him.

Saboo nods smugly. ‘We generated Howard a new body. All of these heroics were quite unneccessary, now we’ll just take Vince back to the Board and separate him out...’

‘Over my dead body,’ Nan says.

Saboo snorts.

‘Shut it, you bearded tit.’ Nan glares at him. ‘It’s his own flesh and blood he needs, not some cock and bull concoction compounded by you lot out of who knows what.’

‘And what about what Old Gregg needs?’ Gregg looks imploringly at Nan. ‘Please, Uncle Hitch, let Gregg keep his Howard, Gregg waited for so long with just a bottle of Baileys and a dead fish for company.’

An idea occurs to Vince.

That might work, Howard agrees.

Don’t you mind?

Not really, no. And he won’t, either, he doesn’t have a mind to mind with.

‘One each?’ Nan says brightly. ‘Works for me.’

She takes the new Howard’s hand and puts it in Gregg’s; mumbles something that sounds like ‘calloo, callay, taramasalata’ and waves the Hitcher’s cane.

Nothing happens.

‘Hmm. Must’ve got me incantation wrong.’

‘Load of old bollocks,’ Tony Harrison mutters.

‘Cheers love. Calloo, callay, taramasalata, loadofoldbollocks.’ She waves the cane again.

Old Gregg and the replacement Howard vanish silently, like mist over the water.

Nan looks faintly surprised. Tony Harrison looks very surprised. Saboo still just looks pissed off, as always.

‘Hey,’ he protests, ‘we put a LOT of work into that.’

‘Well, it’s nice that it won’t be wasted, then, isn’t it,’ Nan retorts. ‘Now then... any useful suggestions? No, thought not.’

‘Erm, is this any help?’ Vince holds out the amulet box.

‘Genius.’ Nan opens it and takes out the tiny scrap of paper from inside the lid. ‘Someone else’ll have to read this though, this body’s got crap eyesight.’

‘Here, let me.’ Saboo takes the paper and peers at it in the moonlight. ‘Test of Outlook... paramours... yes... what’s this on the back... When test be passed, if mind be missed, let vacant body... now be... kissed. Eurgh. How unoriginal. Not to mention tacky. Come on, Tony, I think we should be going, we don’t need to see this.’

He shoves the paper into Nan’s hand and stalks off into the darkness.

‘Well, go on then, don’t be shy.’ Nan grins. ‘I’ll hang about long enough to check it’s worked, then I’ve got a trip North to make and an unpleasant experience waiting for me.’

Vince puts his hands on Howard’s shoulders and stands on tiptoe to kiss him.

There is a faint whooshing sound and a strange sensation of emptiness; then all other thoughts are driven from Vince’s mind as Howard begins to kiss him back with intent.

‘Well done lads,’ Nan says, ‘I’ll be off now. Wish me luck.’

‘Thanks Nan. Good luck,’ Howard and Vince say in unison.

Then get back to their unfinished business.

Long after the bells have fallen silent, as the first flakes of snow start to fall, Vince and Howard arrive back at the Nabootique, hand in hand.

Naboo is there to open the door.

‘Where the fuck have you two been? You said you was goin’ to phone me back.’

‘Long story,’ Vince says, as they climb the stairs.

‘Very long story,’ Howard agrees.

The tiny shaman snorts. ‘Well, in that case it can wait. It’s nearly time for the Xmas Special of Peacock Dreams. Bollo, put the kettle on again, would ya?’
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