Noel goes to visit Fantasy Man in the night-times.Disclaimer:
Not my characters.Note:
Some of the animals I've named here may or may not live in the same geographic regions, but if you're the sort of person who'll quibble over scientific inaccuracies in fic of a show whose characters include a sentient chocolate finger and a man with a shell for a head, I have nothing to say to you.
Noel couldn't sleep. Usually he drifted off with no trouble, the gentle nighttime chatter of the jungle lulling him into slumber, but tonight it was keeping him awake. He debated going outside and telling the squirrel monkeys to shut their gobs, decided he didn't have the energy for such a confrontation at this time of night, and went to visit Fantasy Man instead.
"Good evening. May I be of any assistance?"
"I can't sleep." Noel stuck his head out the window and noted that Fantasy Man had
given up on the birds and was now mucking about with a butterfly net and an empty jam jar. "Can I come out and sit with you?"
"Certainly, dear boy."
Noel clambered out onto Arnold 5's back. "What're you up to?"
"I am attempting to catch the sun-sprites, so that I may harness their mystical energy."
"What, the fireflies?"
"If you like."
"Can you tell me a story while you're doing that?"
"As you wish. Which story would you like to hear?"
"I want the snake story."
"But you were in that story. Surely you remember the events quite clearly."
"Yeah, but I like the way you tell it. Please?"
"Very well, if you insist."
Noel slipped back and forth between wakefulness and half-sleep as Fantasy Man's mellifluous voice spun out the tale: how he had come to the jungle looking for adventure and found Noel trapped by the coils of a massive boa constrictor; how Fantasy Man had repelled the serpent using the Torch of Wisdom (which Noel recalled actually being a cigarette lighter, but Fantasy Man was entitled to some artistic license), knowing as he did that boa constrictors are terrified of fire; how he swore an oath then and there to guard Noel with his life, to shield him from all danger, and to always return to the jungle no matter how far away his quests carried him.
"Was that to your liking, young master?"
"Perfect," Noel murmured, snuggling closely against Fantasy Man's back and burying his face in the nape of his neck.
"Perhaps it is time you were in bed."
"Can't I sleep out here with you?"
"You are unaccustomed to sleeping while perched atop Arnold 5's back. I fear you would plummet to the ground and injure yourself."
"I could stick myself on," Noel replied sleepily. "With Blu-Tack."
"Somehow I doubt that would be effective."
"Fine, I'll go to bed. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Sadly not. I must journey to the Crystal Mountains to obtain a tailfeather from the Eagle of Moonlight."
"The tailfeathers of the Eagle of Moonlight are rumoured to possess the ability to cure all known venereal diseases."
"Can I come?"
"You are too delicate a creature to accompany me on one of my quests."
"As if you're any less delicate than I am."
"Do you mind? I am endowed with a great many magical talents."
"Like what, the lasso trick? I mean, it's not bad, but it's all you've got. And it's not much use in hand-to-hand combat, is it?"
"I have always been able to defend myself perfectly well, thank you."
Noel could easily have pointed out that Fantasy Man had proved unable to defend himself on numerous occasions, several of which had resulted in lengthy hospital stays, but he bit his tongue, knowing that Fantasy Man preferred to remember his adventures in his own way. The fact that said way generally involved portraying Fantasy Man as a brave hero who triumphed over all enemies, rather than a lonely man with an overactive imagination who tended to run afoul of police officers and street hooligans, was something that Noel--an optimist himself--could easily empathize with.
"Good luck tomorrow, yeah?" Noel said through a yawn.
"Thank you. I shall do my best to prove myself worthy of being your champion."
"You always do." Noel wrapped his arms around Fantasy Man's waist and gave him a gentle squeeze. "Can I have a song before bed?"
"Of course you can." Fantasy Man cleared his throat and began to sing.
"Now the stars are in the sky,
Time to bid the day goodbye,
Take the dream conductor's hand
And board the train to Slumberland.
Here you'll see such lovely things,
Rainbow trees and fish with wings,
Dancing frogs and talking pies,
And not great big horrible demons or nasty dreams like the one where you're back in school and you haven't got any clothes on.
"That was a good song." Noel stretched and rubbed at his eyes. "Goodnight, Fantasy Man."
"Goodnight, my child. Sleep well."
"Aren't you forgetting something?"
"What? Oh. Yes. How silly of me." Fantasy Man turned his head to plant a kiss on Noel's lips. Noel sighed into the kiss, enjoying the warmth that bloomed in his chest. Fantasy Man nipped playfully at Noel's bottom lip and reached up to ruffle his hair. "There you are. Now, off to bed."
Noel climbed back through the window with the words I love you
still resting on the tip of his tongue. Some other time, perhaps, he would say them, but not tonight.
The day after tomorrow, maybe. Or the day after that.