Hi! Just a short ficlet, hope you enjoy x

Howard woke-up and realised with a heavy heart that he felt no better. His head was still pounding, he had a temperature and his throat ached.

He felt like a drink of water, or perhaps a lemsip but Bollo did not grant him the honour of having 'Vince's bell' which Vince used like a little prince, dinging all day long for treats and company.

Although, thought Howard with an inward smile, he only ever wanted his company. Even though Naboo, at a push would perform conjuring tricks for Vince's amusement, Bollo would tell tales of his criminal past – he still only wanted Howard. Howard to talk to him, Howard's gentle touch on his forehead to check his temperature, Howard humming when he thought was asleep.

Howard grumbled into his pillow. No-one ever looks after him when he was ill, he only got Vince, every so often, poking his slightly-paler than usual face round their door, with an enquiring 'alright Howard?' It almost felt like he was asking him to come out and play.

But Vince needed looked after, he supposed. If not reminded to, Vince would survive on sweets and fizzy pop, claiming skittles provided his five-a-day. He would treat a fever like an opportunity for a rave, jigging about and claiming he was 'off his tits'. Bollo occasionally mothered him, Naboo treated him like a child, but Howard properly looked after him, in a way that was affectionate yet chiding.

Howard heard the doorbell and sat up a bit, coughing. He heard Vince's boots clacking and the person come upstairs.

'Hiya' he heard…yes it was Leroy.

'Hey Leroy' Vince said, in a quiet voice.

'What? Oh sorry, I'll hush' Leroy replied.

'I got your text, but run out of credit' Vince said, his voice echoing down the hallway and through Howard's ajar door.

'Oh, are you not coming then?'

'No, I've got to look after Howard'

Leroy whined, 'But Vince, can't someone else do it, c'mon mate'

'No, I like doing it. He needs me'

Leroy sighed, 'He can survive alright by himself Vince, and the open bar will be done by half twelve anyway. Just give him some strepsils'

'He can't, last time I looked in he was delirious, wearing only a bobble hat and talking about being a centrefold. He's gone wrong Leroy, he needs me'

'That's a bit too much information Vince, I better be heading off'

Howard heard footsteps and exchanged goodbyes then frantically sat back down, flattening down his hair and closing his eyes as he heard Vince's footsteps come nearer.

'You're pretty crap at pretending to be asleep' Vince observed, but not unkindly.

Howard cracked an eye open and smiled ruefully. He wasn't sure why he feigned slumber, he felt sort of embarrassed at Vince's gesture.

'Thought you were going out' he said blearily, his voice cracking.

Vince winced and passed him the glass of water he had brought in with him. It had a tropical umbrella and a straw. Howard felt his heart clench.

'Nah, got cancelled' Vince said, looking out the window and ruffling his hair.

Howard's eyes widened and he set the glass back down, spilling it and tutting.

'See, you're a mess without me' Vince said, mopping it up with Howard's global explorer.

'Now, its time for medicine'

Howard frowned, 'not yet, in about an hour' he said, trying to remember doses.

'No' Vince said, taking the bottle and gesturing for Howard to sit up, 'You took it at 4:45pm, so its time, okay'

Howard just stared at Vince, who whose cheeks tinged with pink. 'Just happened to notice' he said, pouring out the dose and waiting for Howard to open his mouth.

Howard took his medicine, wincing at the taste. 'Why can't Naboo make my medicine taste like candyfloss' he said regretfully.

Vince grinned, 'You're supposed to be a tough man of action Howard, stop being such a big girl's blouse'

Howard sniffed, not petulantly you understand, because he wanted to sniff anyway; and Vince patted his hand.

'C'mon lie back down then, and Papa Vince will sing you to sleep'

'I'd rather you didn't' Howard said wryly.

'Cheeky sod' Vince tapped Howard's head affectionately.

'I know what will send you off' Vince continued, taking his latest copy of NME from his bedside table and brandishing it triumphantly.

Howard smiled approvingly. 'I bet it hasn't even got a crossword compiled of Swiss army knife components' he said, almost fondly.

'Well yeah Howard, 'cause that's rubbish'

Vince patted the covers down and fluffed Howard's pillow.

'Now' he said grandly. 'Nu-Goth is in…Country-metal was never in…some bloke in a dress is drunk and crying…nice hair though….his mate is pretty fit actually...Oooh Howard, Jazz is alright, but only ironically…someone thinks its for the infirm and mentally challenged…'

Vince trailed off as he saw Howard was fast asleep, his hair hopelessly rumpled.

'Maybe Jazz isn't so bad' he said softly, leaning over and kissing Howard's forehead, before slipping quietly from the room.