A/N: Another little story as I continue to try and fight my writer's block so I can continue with my others! This is very angsty and sad. It was inspired by last night's episode of Torchwood, as I was very upset after watching it (how could they?!), but really, the only thing I stole from it was one of Tosh's lines, because it was just so sad. I'll give you a cookie if you can tell which one it is! This story is in two parts, but the second bit is tiny. It's just a tie-up, and I didn't want to post it at the bottom of this chapter, as I want to keep you hanging for a bit by having to click to the next page!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Obviously. Tis Julian and Noel's.
Howard laughed as Vince amused himself by dancing and singing along to the radio, throwing his hands in the air and rocking about in his seat. Howard took his eyes off the road for a second to steal a glance at his happy-go-lucky friend, grinning and shaking his head as he watched Vince close his eyes and run his hands through his hair, pulling it up at the top and twisting it through his fingers. Getting the feeling he was being watched, Vince turned to him just as Howard returned his gaze to the road in front. He smiled and poked the Maverick in the arm.
"Are we nearly there?"
"Not long now, little man."
To Howard's surprise, Vince didn't demand to know just how long 'not long' was, and instead went back to humming along to the music.
Howard cherished moments like this, when it was just the two of them and they were relaxed and happy, not winding each other up or sulking over something stupid.
They were on their way to a gig in Brighton, Vince having met the manager of a club called 'The Shakin' Haven' some weeks back at The Velvet Onion. He'd quickly won him over with a smile and a touch of the old Vince Noir charm, and minutes later the manager was practically begging to have them play at his club.
Vince leant forward and switched off the radio, and Howard looked at him questioningly.
"I fancy a little sleepie. D'ya mind?"
Howard smiled at him. "I'll wake you when we get there."
"Thanks, Howard." He undid his seat-belt so he could remove his jacket – the heating in the van starting to make his skin flush – and he snuggled down into his seat, pulling the belt back round him as the jacket was discarded.
Vince didn't get a chance to doze off though, or indeed even have time to click the belt back into its clasp, for what happened next had him screaming in fright. A small deer leapt out in front of the van, and as Howard swerved to miss it, the wheels bumped up onto a boulder on the side of the road and the van flipped over and over, crashing through a fence and skidding over the grass, finally coming to rest upside down, half hanging over the edge of a cliff and pinned between two large rocks. Howard, still strapped in, hung upside down in his seat, his breath coming in short, quick bursts as he began to panic. Blood oozed from a cut on his temple where his head had been smashed against the window, matting his hair and dripping onto the inside of the van's roof. As his eyes focused, he saw Vince in front of him, lying in a crumpled heap and...
Why was Vince in front of him?
Howard blinked, and realised to his horror that Vince had been thrown from his seat and onto the windscreen, which was cracked, and looking through it he could see the sheer drop below.
"Vince!" he choked, panicking even more and starting to feel sick, his head thumping. "Vince!"
Vince groaned and shifted, trying to lift his head. The glass started to splinter further and Howard hissed at him in fright.
"Don't move! Vince, don't move."
Vince looked up at him with wide, frightened eyes, blood smeared over his face, trembling fingers splayed flat against the cool glass.
"I'm going to come and get you, just stay still." Howard moved to undo his seat-belt, gripping his chair to stop him from falling forward. His head was spinning from being upside down for too long, and he frantically tried to blink the feeling away as he moved slowly and carefully, shifting out of the seat and backward until he was on all fours on the cold roof. He expected the van to rock, but it stayed perfectly still, and he reached a hand towards Vince.
"Take my hand," he said, kneeling up near the edge of the screen.
Vince lifted his arm and tried to reach out, but the movement made him hiss as it stretched his front. "Howard, I can't," he said, breathing heavily, hand going to clutch at his stomach. He gasped as he touched down on it, instantly lifting his hand away, which was now covered in red. "Shit!"
Howard glanced down and saw that a pool of blood was forming around Vince's belly, an object protruding out of the cloth of his t-shirt. On closer inspection, he could see that it was the large pair of kitchen scissors Vince had been using to cut bits out of his magazine when they'd first started off, saying he needed to gather inspiration for a new hair cut.
Howard felt sick, but Vince needed him, and he couldn't let it show.
"Okay, it's gonna be okay. How you feeling?"
Vince tried to give him a brave smile, but his eyes were watering and his lower lip trembled. "Woozy." He coughed, and Howard winced as the movement caused the windscreen to crack even more.
"Vince, I know it's difficult, but you have to keep still. The screen is cracking and if it breaks, you'll fall."
The smaller man panted as he tried to reply, a hint of amusement in his voice. "Fall and die hitting the ground? Not if I bleed to death first."
Howard would have smiled if he hadn't been trying so hard not to cry. "We'll get out of this, Vince. We always do, right?"
Vince's voice broke. "I don't want to die."
Howard leant forward carefully, stretching his arm out, wanting to comfort his friend, but the extra pressure along the edge of the windscreen caused another splinter, and he had to pull back. He felt completely and utterly helpless, knowing that all he could do was wait for help to come along - if anyone actually noticed them. The road they had been on wasn't exactly busy. In fact, they'd been the only ones on it. And somehow he knew that Vince wouldn't have long, just like he knew that their only saviour – Vince's mobile phone – was tucked away in the pocket of his friend's tight jeans
"You're not going to die – I won't let you."
Vince glanced down below him. "It's a big drop -"
"Long way down -"
"Vince, stop it!"
Vince's face screwed up in pain, and he inhaled sharply, tears leaking from his eyes and flooding his cheeks. "It hurts..."
Howard's eyes stung, and he blinked rapidly. "I know, little man, I know. I'm sorry..."
"I was the one driving -"
"No," Vince cut him off, a sob in his throat. "It wasn't... your fault. Just.. keep talking to me - please."
Howard nodded, briefly glancing at Vince's stomach, the pool of blood growing rapidly. But what was he supposed to say? "I... did you find a hair style you liked?"
Vince smiled. "Yeah, I think... I'll get it cut... a bit... shorter," he said, breathlessly. "But still, you know... sexily dishevelled."
Howard allowed himself to laugh slightly. "Sounds great. But I like it as it is."
Vince coughed again, vision going hazy. "H-Howard?"
"I could have been... a better friend... couldn't I."
Howard sniffed, the tears that had been threatening to fall finally spilling over the rims. "What are you talking about, you loon," he said, shakily.
Vince's eyes flickered shut, and Howard cried out.
"I'm here," he whispered, opening his eyes and trying to focus on Howard. "You're all fuzzy." He licked his lips. "And I meant... I meant... I haven't been great, have I?"
"Vince, you're my best friend – always have been, always will be."
Vince felt the glass crack again under his hand, and he gasped, terrified, tears still streaking his face. "Howard!"
Howard, panic-stricken, pressed a hand to his head and pulled at his hair. "Oh God, oh God. Vince..." he let out a frustrated growl. "I don't know what to do... I... God, I'm useless!"
"I am, though! I can't even look after you properly!"
"Howard... I'm a grown man. I'm not your... responsibility."
"I should run and get help but instead I'm just watching you bleed to death because I can't go anywhere because the back doors have a bloody padlock on them on the outside because I haven't got round to getting the lock fixed yet and maybe if I'd just offered to turn the heating down when you went to take your jacket off then you'd still have had your seat-belt on and you wouldn't be lying on a screen that could shatter at any moment and you shouldn't by lying there I should be and this is all my fault and I can't even give you any comfort because If I move you could fall -"
"and then what? Because I can't save you then and I can't save you now and I don't want to lose you Vince I don't I don't but I don't know what to do and -"
"I'm sorry I'm so so sorry I'm sorry I'm so useless and I can't help you and I'm just a big joke and I want to hold you but I can't do anything I can't I can't I can't -"
"Howard, stop it!"
"Why?! Why should I stop it?!"
Vince breathed in painfully, his cheeks soaked, skin almost transparent, and he let out a devastated sob, his face completely distraught. "Because you're breaking my heart!"
Howard froze, tears dripping onto his shirt, and he stared at Vince; at his white face, at the fright in his unnaturally dull eyes - the baby blues having gone a murky shade of grey - and he balked at how he'd just behaved, his own heart tearing in two.
Vince's small voice brought him back to reality, and Howard bit his lip, realising what he actually meant by it. No, not yet.
"I know. But you'll be out of here soon, okay?"
Vince shivered, his breathing becoming shallow and halting. "You're not... useless. You're brilliant."
"You are. You're... my best... friend. I love you."
Howard hiccuped back a sob and gave Vince a watery smile. "I love you too, little man."
"You will... find someone else... won't you?"
Howard frowned and bent his head down slightly, struggling the hear the weak words coming from his injured friend's mouth. "What?"
"I can't bare the thought... of leaving you... on your own."
Howard looked at Vince in awe, amazed at how he could think of something like that when he was staring death in the face. "I'll be fine. We'll be fine. It's always been you and me, hasn't it." He smiled at him fondly, trying not to show how much he was trembling.
"Promise me," Vince whispered.
Howard swallowed heavily. "I promise."
"And if I fall... find me."
"I..." Howard's voice broke, and he choked as he struggled to keep himself together. He didn't want to think about what would happen if Vince fell, couldn't bare the thought of that beautiful face being broken by the hard, jagged, unforgiving ground below.
Howard... I'm tired."
Vince's voice slurred and eyes were fluttering, struggling to stay open. As much as he wanted to try and keep Vince with him for as long as possible, he knew that the end was coming, and he could do nothing but watch helplessly.
"I want to... go to sleep."
"Shhh," Howard said, softly, tears streaming. "It's okay. You close your eyes if you want to."
Howard did mind. He minded very much. "Of course not. You go to sleep, Vince. Go to sleep."
Vince gave him a soft smile. "Night, Howard."
"Goodnight, little man."
Vince closed his eyes.
And this time they stayed shut. His sparkling blue orbs finally extinguished.
Howard let out a heart-wrenching sob, one which turned to a scream as the windscreen finally gave way, and Vince disappeared from sight, swallowed by the darkness.
Please review! I have a cold, and it would cheer me up greatly!