Another short one! This story could also be titled "A is for…" and came about after talking with a friend about how I have at least a dozen concurrent head canons for Vince when it comes to his gender/sexuality and how some of them are more obvious and others I haven't explored as much but still think there is evidence for within the show. Like how Vince talks a good game but never actually seems to act on it. I hope this is ok. Thank you for reading.

"The thing is, Howard - the thing... The thing is..." Vince sighed and tried again. "You know how you're a virgin, Howard? And how I made fun of you? At your party? (as if Howard would ever forget that) Well, I shouldn't've done that. It was a pretty shit thing to do. Sorry. Especially cos the thing is-" he faltered, "the thing is, Howard, I..."

Vince groaned and glared at his reflection. Why was this so hard? He was only practicing for Jagger's sake so why couldn't he say it? Why couldn't he admit it, even to himself? He wondered if, when he did actually tell Howard, his mate would even know what he was talking about. Vince hadn't known it was a thing until about a year ago, he'd just thought there was something wrong with him, but then Pride had gotten well popular again and you didn't just have to be gay anymore, showing support for all the other letters was well trendy now and Vince had learnt all about them and, it turned out, himself. You didn't just have to be the G, L, B or T anymore. You could be the I, the Q, the P, the D, or even the A.

And Vince had been really excited and had kept on reading, though he's had to keep that a secret, he had a reputation to maintain after all. Cos it wasn't just about sexuality neither, it was about romance and all that too. And he'd felt so much better about it, once he knew. He'd always known he was a gender bender but all this new stuff, stuff about himself that he'd never properly understood, well, it's made his brain buzz with excitement, like a kid full of lemonade and sweets, and made him even more scatter-brained than usual and he'd really thought he'd be able to keep it all go himself because as exciting as it was he wasn't sure about yelling from the rooftops about something so personal, but he just couldn't keep it in any longer. But now that it was coming to it (he'd set a date, had put it on the calendar and all: " Friday breakfast - serious talk wiv Howard"), saying the words out loud were harder than he'd thought.

"The thing is, Howard," he tried again, determined to get it right so he didn't make a tit of himself the next day when it was his best mate sitting in front of him and not just his reflection. "The thing is, I shouldn't've laughed at you cos, well... I'm the same. I mean I've kissed people! I've kissed plenty of people, like, more than six! But I've never... done the dirty, if you know what I mean. And the thing is... I don't think - No - I know that I don't want to. So you shouldn't feel embarrassed or nothing just cos you haven't, you know, had sex or nothing. Your reason for not having sex is probably different from mine, of course. No, shit! Don't say that!" Vince scolded himself, putting his face in his hands. "He'd take that completely the wrong way. No, try again."

He looked up into the mirror, doing his best to look serious and mature. He needed to do this.

"See, the thing is, Howard. I like girls, they're well pretty and cool and nice to look at, and to talk to, only I'm not so good at that bit, and plenty of blokes are well fit and nice to look at too, yeah? But that's just it, I like looking, cos it's like fashion or art or something. You know I'm all about the latest look, so I like looking at people, I like, um, I like electric? elastic? athletic? Fuck, what's the word? Aesthetic! I like aesthetic! But I don't want to touch 'em. Well, sometimes I wanna touch em, but in the same way I always want to touch the paintings when you take me to the Tate and stuff. And I like it when people appreciate my asletic... asth... you know what I mean. I like it when people appreciate the way I look and that, but that don't mean I want em touching me. Not if I haven't touched them first, or given them permission. I reckon we're a bit alike like that, you and me, Howard. Only, you're my exception, cos it's usually ok when you touch me. But... what was I saying? Oh yeah, cos like, I appreciate the way people look but I don't really want to do stuff with em, cos frankly it all sounds well gross, 'cept for maybe snuggling and holding hands and that... if it was the right person... um... But the thing is, there's a word for this, right? And you really like words so... I thought I'd tell you... and I weren't going to tell anyone because, it's a bit personal ain't it? Coming to the realisation that you don't ever want to have sex or do any of that, like... slot A into tab B stuff (or is it the other way around?). And so I thought I could keep it to myself and that that'd be fine but I can't. I'm rubbish at secrets normally but I've kept this one for a really long time, mostly cos I thought I was a freak for not wanting to get freaky with anybody," Vince snorted. He'd have to remember that joke, Howard would find that well funny.

"But now I know that there's a word for it, and that its not wrong or nothing, it's normal it's just not as common, and I reckon that suits me well, yeah? Cos I'm well vain, aren't I? Can't stand to be common or the same as everyone else... But this word, right? It's what the A stands for in LGBTQIAPD! I used to think that was for ally or something but it ain't, it's for me! Cos... The thing is, Howard... I guess what I'm leading up to is... I'm asexual. I - I like romance, and I appreciate beauty and that but... that's it really. I'm asexual." He grinned at his reflection, trying to breathe through the sudden head rush at actually saying the words out loud. "I'm Vince Noir and I'm asexual. Yeah... Now here's hoping that Howard actually knows what that means. He will. He should. He's a man made out of letters after all. And if he don't he'll get a kick out of looking it up."

He took another deep breath and pressed his fingers to his cheeks, trying to cool the intense heat that had overtaken his skin. He'd done it. He'd actually done it. Well, the practice run at least. But now he knew he could do it, and tomorrow he was going to tell Howard. He paused for a moment, looking back at his reflection once more and at his hands. There weren't many people he liked being touched by, people always got too grabby for his liking when he let them hug him or touch him, but there was one person who he didn't mind grabbing his hand, or bumping their shoulder into his or hugging him when he really needed it. And who never pushed things too far. (Well, usually. Vince thought of the night of the party as an exception to the rule, when he dared to think of it at all.)

Howard was definitely the right person to tell. He'd always understood Vince in the past, he'd understand this too. Flashing himself his most sunshiny smile, Vince turned off his lamp and climbed into bed. Tomorrow at breakfast he was going to tell Howard, and it was all going to be alright. Hopefully.

Just outside his door a floorboard creaked but Vince didn't hear, he was already asleep and so didn't notice the lanky, broad shouldered shadow tip toe away from his room and down the hall. Howard didn't make a habit of loitering in doorjambs or listening at keyholes (even if it did happen an awful lot, it wasn't a habit, he could stop any time he wanted) but he was very glad that he had happened to overhear Vince rehearsing his speech. He'd wondered about Vince's note on the calendar and had spent the week imagining all of the horrible possibilities, most of which involved Vince telling him he didn't want to be his friend anymore and was breaking up their band for good, but he hadn't imagined this.

He slipped into his room and shut the door as quietly as he could and climbed into his own bed, not bothering to hide his smile since there was no one around to see. His trusty dictionary was in its usual place at his bedside but he didn't need it tonight, no sir. Vince's words had been all too familiar and he had no need to look them up even though he'd only learnt about that most important one a few months ago. Who knew that Vince of all people would understand?

All he needed to do now was figure out how to seem surprised and yet supportive when Vince came out in the morning - perhaps he could make his Little Man his favourite pancakes - and then how to explain that he understood because, well, like Vince had said, they really were a bit alike, even if he hadn't realised that, just like him Vince had felt alone and broken and like a freak, at least now they could be there for each other, be uncommon together, because weren't they always?

Howard closed his eyes, the smile still firmly in place on his lips, and took a deep steadying breath like he had seen Vince do. He could understand why Vince was nervous, Howard had never said it out loud either but tomorrow they could say it together and then maybe, if they both agreed, he could give Vince a hug.