Howard took a drink of his whiskey neat and grimaced.

"It's better like this," Vince hinted, holding up his whiskey sour, heavy on the sour and cherries.

"I get hung over and ill when I drink sugary things," Howard explained, "It's much better in the long run to have the straight alcohol and drink lots of water."

"But it tastes awful!"

"It does taste a bit like paint thinner and fire, but only at first. After a few drinks, it tastes smooth jazz and honey," Howard offered, "Some tastes are worth acquiring. You'll find that as you get older."

Vince couldn't argue with that point. While flipping to Colobos, Vince came across an old Tarzan movie.

"There's you, Howard! You in your little trunks. You would have been a movie star for sure back then," Vince observed. Johnny Weissmuller would probably be anorexic or addicted to steroids if he were alive today. People couldn't just go around looking like people any more.

"There's me!" Vince yelled when Jane appeared. Howard's chuckle turned into a guffaw when the camera panned to Cheetah and "Boy".

"There's Naboo and Bollo!"

"An' that's Naboo n'Bollo!"

Vince rubbed his shoulder against Howard's, "That was almost in synch. That's some double act magic for ya!"

Howard wiggled his eyebrows but scooted a bit away from Vince, so their shoulders weren't touching anymore. That was what Vince hated more than anything, the way Howard would seem interested and then move away.

"Did you shag Marla? How far did you go with her? Hands? Mouths?"

"Vince!" Howard cried, "I'm a man of restraint. A gentleman, as you can see from my handmade smoking jacket. I don't kiss and tell, sir."

Vince had to touch Howard's cheek.

"I know you kissed her but what else? Are you still a virgin?"

Howard had already been warily eyeing the hand on his face but he shook it off entirely at Vince's second question.

"That is personal and private information and it would be ungallant for me to discuss my relationship..."

"Please tell me, Howard."

"We only kissed."

Vince locked in on that 'only'. That diminishing of the snog like it wasn't anything important or worth getting worked up over.

"We only kissed," Vince repeated. Maybe it was the half a whiskey sour, but Vince suddenly felt warm all over. He also felt like he might cry.

"I know we only kissed, I was there. As was the head shaman. It isn't a secret," Howard said, defensively.

Howard seemed ready to keep ranting so Vince covered those accusing lips with his own. He was capricious, immature and narcissistic. He was the antithesis of everything Howard wanted in a woman.

Howard longed for someone intelligent and sophisticated.

Vince pushed Howard back onto the couch. Howard was kissing back this time.

"Is it okay if I get you off?" Vince asked, his fingers moving to his friend's belt buckle, "I won't do it if you want to save that for someone special."

"You're special, " Howard said, his voice strained.

"I mean someone..."

"Don't be upset, Little Man," Howard whispered. Vince was straddling Howard's hips at that point and Howard was gently stroking Vince's long legs.

Vince pushed the smoking jacket out of the way and unbuckled Howard's belt, "It will be special to me, this. It might not seem that way but... I'll appreciate this more than Marla would."

Howard shuddered when Vince reached into his trousers and began to stroke Howard through his pants.

"Vince, I'm not sure..."

Howard was already throbbing in Vince's hand. For the first time in months, Vince felt strong.

"Do you fancy me, Howard? Even when I'm not handling your John Thomas?"

Howard didn't answer, he just blinked up at Vince in a strangely vulnerable way.

Vince moved his hand to Howard's thigh.

"Say nice things about me, Howard," Vince wanted it to sound light and teasing but he choked on Howard's name, "I'm feeling a bit useless and past my prime and... I'm scared."

Vince closed his eyes and waited for a hole to form in the floor and swallow him up. People in books always seemed to be hoping for that to happen so it must be a fairly common scenario. Vince wasn't a big reader but Howard had been reading to him at night for years. As much as he liked to say it was because Howard was so boring, it was because Howard sounded like safety. He was the first sleeping aid that had ever worked for Vince, but he was also the most addictive.

"You're... well, you're very attractive. Your hair is... shiny and soft. Your eyes are pretty and sometimes they look blue but sometimes they're green. I like your nose, its got character. I wish my face had more character."

Vince took Howard's hand and ran it across his chest, "Tell me more."

"Your body is... confusing. It's very nice."

"Your chat up lines are rubbish," Vince teased, tears had formed in his eyes and were threatening to spill down his face. He was just going to get older and older and older.

"I'm not chatting you up, you'd know if Howard Moon was trying to chat you up, sir. You'd be hearing pure poetry."

"Then what are you doing?" Vince asked, moving his hand back to Howard's cock. He was torn between wanting to remove the layer of clothing and wanting to see Howard literally come in his pants. Maybe it could be anyone, but it wouldn't be just anyone. It would be for Vince.

"I'm saying nice things like you told me to! I assumed you wanted to hear nice things about how you look since you're... 28 and all," Howard explained, an edge in his voice, "I know that turning... 28 is a difficult time. When I had my... milestone birthday, we had just left the zoo and I felt too old to start over and I was ashamed of still being a virgin, and that people would laugh if I tried writing my own music..."

Howard trailed off and closed his eyes as Vince ran just the tips of his fingers along Howard's length.

"How did you stop feeling that way?" Vince asked, hoping it didn't involve the yetis. He didn't want to repeat that particular adventure. He could still see Howard all hippy-like and relaxed, calling himself Parsley. It was nice, in a way, but Vince preferred his Howard to be Howard. His Howard, but maybe still stuck in little swim pants. Howard had been so grateful when Vince fixed the zip, paranoid as he was, it never seemed to occur to Howard that Vince had jammed it in the first place. Vince hadn't been about to rat himself out.

"I still feel that way," Howard explained with a rueful smile, "I just realized it didn't matter if I was 29 or 32. People are always going to laugh at me. That doesn't mean I shouldn't still try to make something of my life."

Vince threw himself on top of Howard. He thought the big man's "oomph" was a little unnecessary, Vince didn't weigh that much. Not yet.

But his metabolism was slowing down. It was okay if you were a bit pointy and your nose was weird if you looked a bit like a girl. Once he started gaining weight, he was just going to look like a bloke in make-up and it was going to be well sad.

"But you know how to bake a cake and you understand how taxes work and how to write the music in your head down on paper. You know how to be a proper adult."

"Those aren't exactly the kind of things that get you remembered, now, are they Vince?" Howard snapped, though he was giving Vince an awkward pat on the back, "Howard Moon, he could follow written directions."

"But if you can't do those things, then you're a simpleton and you're not really suited to a real job. What will I do when you leave me? Who else is going to want to take care of me?"

He hadn't meant to say it out loud but Howard felt so solid underneath him.

"Oh, Vince," was all Howard had to say. Howard was hard against Vince's hip and every movement made the big man squirm.

"I don't wanna get you off in front of the telly," Vince said out loud before the thought finished forming in his head.

"You don't have to," Howard said softly, "I'm not going to leave you. You don't have to do anything to make me stay."

"I know you want your first time to be special. How can I make it special for you?" Vince asked, stroking Howard's hair back from his face. A man in a smoking jacket was meant to have slicked back hair. Howard didn't know a thing about style.

Howard had gone all red so Vince kissed him some more, hoping it would help Howard stop thinking so much. Thinking and sex were a dangerous combination. You were likely to get nervous if you thought about what you were doing.

It took a while, but Vince was eventually able to get an answer out of Howard. On one had, Vince was completely surprised. On the other hand, it was exactly what he expected to hear.


Vince decided they should use Vince's bed since it had the nicer sheets.

"But you're always climbing in my bed..."

"That's because I like your smell, not cause I like exfoliating my skin on your burlap sheets," Vince explained. Howard was pretty thick for being the 'smart one' of their duo.

Howard's hands were shaking so badly, he couldn't untie the belt of his smoking jacket. When Vince said, "Leave it," Howard went all passive. He was docile as he allowed himself to be stripped. Vince had seen Howard naked before but never all hard and vulnerable.

"You look good, Howard," Vince assured him.

"It's the jazzercise," Howard joked, weakly, as Vince removed the man's y-fronts, "Should... should I lie down?"

"You're the only person in the world who makes me feel like I'm someone to listen to, Howard. How 'bout you help me get out of these drainpipes?" Vince suggested, throwing himself down on the bed.

Howard teased him about how it would be easier to just paint his legs but he was taking Vince in with a kind of appreciation that would have suited the smoking jacket. Vince hadn't bothered with pants and Howard kept trying to look without staring. He gave himself a few lazy strokes and watched Howard's eyes widen.

"Now would be a good time to lie down, Howard."

Instead of crawling on top of Vince, like a normal person, Howard laid down next to him. He lay on his back with his legs apart and stared at the ceiling. Vince took a mental picture of Howard and labeled it, "Let the bumming commence."

He resisted the urge to tease and moved into position, "There's a lot of preparation, all right? You can't rush this bit, not even if we... if you start doing this on a regular basis. You always have to be well careful with this bit."

At first, it was hard to tell the difference between Howard's happy face and "ouch" face. They were oddly similar, but Vince had experience staring at Howard. If he could cut the man's hair without waking him up, Vince could handle this.

Howard winced a bit as Vince worked in a third finger, but relaxed as Vince cooed nonsense about how well he was doing. He hadn't expected Howard to relax so easily for him. Relaxing and trusting weren't usually Howard's strong points.

"Why didn't you ever get off with Marla?" Vince asked before his brain could stop him, "She fancies you."

"That... should be pretty obvious by now," Howard said with more than a hint of exasperation.

Vince gently twisted his fingers, careful of the delicate flesh gripping his fingers like a vice. Howard was all strong and delicate at the same time. That's why Vince loved him.

"Does she know you fancy men?"

"I think I'm prepared well enough. Are you... ready?"

"I'm ready for you to answer my question," Vince responded, giving Howard's prostate a light caress. Howard's whole body quivered in a way that Vince knew would be burned into his brain for all eternity.

"She knows how I feel about you."

Howard didn't need to use the l-word. He'd already done that and he'd proved it time and time again. Howard loved Vince and Vince loved Howard.

It was like the time he realized that people didn't have perfect skin, they used foundation. It was a shocking revelation and yet he felt like he'd always known as much. Howard couldn't make time with a girl because he fancied Vince.

Howard was in love with Vince.

Later on, he'd have to ask all kinds of questions but, for now, Vince was focused on doing something meaningful and important on his thirtieth birthday. He was going to do something nearly impossible, a feat whispered about by men- as legendary as the yeti. Vince was going to give Howard a good first time. No coming two seconds in and then waiting to die of embarrassment. No disappointment or shame. Howard's first time would actually be special and memorable for the right reasons, not a war story to be trotted out when pissed.

Vince opted to use a johnny, thinking it might be a bit easier on Howard. As he made sure his condom was well lubricated, Vince watched Howard watch Vince stroke himself. He slipped his arms under Howard's knees, bending him enough to get the proper angle without bending Howard in half. Howard would be a bit sore in the morning as it was.

"Turning thirty don't seem so bad," Vince observed, "Even the most rubbish things are adventures when you're there. That's why I love you so much. Always have."

Howard's eyes widened at the words but squeezed closed as Vince began to push his way inside. Howard tensed up a bit but some kisses and words of encouragement were enough to get the big man to relax again. Vince noticed Howard's erection flagging but left it alone for the time being.

He should have had a wank first, given himself a bit more stamina. Then, if he'd thought that far ahead, he probably wouldn't be inside Howard right now. He wouldn't be feeling every muscle in Howard's body tightening around him, he'd be watching telly.

Howard was wriggling about and looking frustrated. Vince gave him one of his legs back so he could have a little more leverage. Vince grinned when Howard immediately started to meet his thrusts.

"You're doing so well!" Vince exclaimed, "You're not awkward or scared at all."

Howard stopped mid thrust, his eyes wide, "What do you mean by that? Why should I be awkward or scared... I'm not a child, I'll have you know. I..."

Vince ground his hips into Howard's until the larger man lost his train of thought.

"I'm just saying, I never pictured you being such a natural," Vince explained, trailing conciliatory kisses across Howard's chest, "And I've pictured this so many times."

Howard was digging his fingers into Vince's shoulders as he began using longer and slower strokes. Howard was back to full mast without even touching himself.

"Tell me if it's too much," Vince moaned as he sped his pace. The idea that Howard might get off without touching his cock was implanting itself into Vince's brain. He'd fantasized about that.

"S'good," Howard whimpered, "So, good. Love you."

"Love you, too, Howard. I want you to come for me, now. All right?"

Howard closed his eyes and grabbed onto Vince's hips. He seemed to be finding the friction he needed against Vince's belly. He was back to meeting each thrust and there was no way Vince was going to say anything to make him uncomfortable again.

He pitched his voice low and told Howard he was beautiful. He said, "I want to see you come, I want to be the first person to see you like that..."

It was enough to send Howard over the edge. Innocent Howard really couldn't handle the dirty talk.

It was an ouchy looking face but it was lovely to see. Vince was barely moving when the sensation of Howard's orgasm, the way he tightened around Vince in every way possible, brought him to his own point of no return. He gave a few more thrusts before whimpering out his own orgasm. He felt Howard staring and tried to make a sexy come face. He had a feeling it didn't work but Howard still looked pleased when Vince was able to pry his eyes open.

They kissed until Vince had to pull out, lest he lose his raincoat in the process. The last thing he wanted was a technical difficulty turning Howard off of sex. One embarrassing trip to the hospital and it would be back to celibacy for sure.

"That was amazin'! Absolutely amazin', Howard. You been holding out on me," Vince teased as he separated their bodies. Howard wasn't meeting his eyes, but he looked happy.

"Can you hand me a tissue?" Howard asked, looked at his stomach. Vince took another mental picture and labeled it, "Thoroughly de-virginized."

When Vince came out of the bathroom, Howard was still in Vince's bed, the sheet pulled up to his chin. Vince jumped on the bed, next to him, "You can go clean up."

Howard tried to reach his smoking jacket without exposing himself. His post-coital shyness was as cute as it was absurd.

"I already seen it all, Howard."

Howard tried to throw the sheet off defiantly but the sheet was a bit too soft and he just got tangled up inside. Nothing ever worked out for Howard. Except for this, Vince had made this good.

"Was it good?" Vince asked, "I know it was good but was it... I dunno. Was it how you wanted?"

Howard struggled into his smoking jacket. Everything was covered but it was absurdly short without trousers. Howard and his willowy pins. He really hoped Howard was interested in a repeat performance. The next time, he'd have the Northerner keep the jacket on. That would be well kinky.

"It was... I don't want to say anything foolish. It was very nice. Thank you," Howard finished awkwardly before darting into the bathroom. Vince sprawled out naked on top of his bed. Now his bed smelled like Howard. It was perfect. Everything was perfect. It would take Howard a while to relax, to really believe something was working out right for him, but Vince wasn't worried. Howard would push him away and kick up a fuss but Howard was in love. He'd come around.

Vince wasn't where he expected to be at thirty. He wasn't a rock star or famous in any way. He was mainly known as "that guy with the bouncy castle". He worked in a shop with no customers and he wasn't allowed within two hundred feet of a zoo.

But now he had a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend, but Howard. And he had a new sewing machine.

And there was still a little cake left.

And there were two more broadcasts of Colobos left for the night.

"Get your white ass out here, Howard!" Vince yelled, "I want to squeeze in some more action before the next Colobos!"

"Are you familiar with the concept of patience?" Howard yelled back, "Is that a word you've heard before? Is the concept familiar?"

"I have heard people say it," Vince yelled back, "It sounds rubbish."

Vince shoved his face in a Howard scented pillow and inhaled.


Naboo and Bollo rolled their eyes in unison at the sound of creaking bed springs. It was the third time that night.

"I hope those ballbags appreciate what I done for them," Naboo sighed before taking a pull.

"Naboo give Vince and Harold magic potion? Make them see true love? Not be so afraid?" Bollo asked before shoving the pipe up his nose and inhaling.

"No, you idiot. I gave them the owl beaks. How else you think they've got so much stamina? Thirty in human years is ancient. I'm surprised neither of'em has broken a hip yet."