This fic was inspired by the song 'Maybe After He's Gone' by The Zombies

Chapter 3

Howard felt his feelings bubble up like an angry crab inside his tummy-space. He didn't really know what he was meant to do now. He always felt that every moment in his life could be placed into a little box to be organized with other boxes into a tiny box village. This feeling kept his brain organized so he didn't have to experience too many emotions at once. This is why he was always cool, calm, and collected; suave and debonaire. Now, Howard Moon didn't know what to think. He had to choose between his best mate and the love of his life. Yes, Vince had always been by his side, but he never really had anyone else that had occupied that role before. He wondered what it would be like to have a woman take care of him; a woman brush the brown smoke from his forehead ; a woman make him tea in the morning with 'just one half-spoonful of sugar, thank you'.

A strong woman who would be able to do all those things properly and without any assistance, just the way Howard liked it.

Howard slumped onto the couch and put his face in his hands, trying to grab a hold of himself. He had never felt like this before. He was angry, sad, and frustrated all at once; each emotion building off of the other. Should he talk to Mrs. Gideon about it? Should he talk to Vince? Should he talk to Bob?

Howard shook his head. No, he should by no means ever talk to Bob.

Just as Howard was ready to throw himself against the wall of the tiny room, the door opened.

"Hey 'Oward! You alright?"

Vince entered almost sheepishly, closing the door behind him.

Howard said nothing.

"Erm, I just wanted to say sorry for earlier," Vince said with a half-smile as he sat next to his brown-haired companion. "It wasn't my fault. She just sorta flew at me like some great bird. Well, she is a bird, but…well, you know what I mean." He half-laughed at his own joke but Howard was still silent, looking down at his feet.

Vince tentatively held out his hand and moved to rest it on Howard's shoulder. At the feeling of Vince's fingertips, Howard jolted away. He looked up at Vince, his brow furrowed and his eyes boiling.

"How could you do that to me, Vince?" Howard's chest hurt. His mind was spinning out of control. Vince had never seen Howard like this and it was his turn to be at a loss for words.

"You knew how I felt about her! No! You just had to weasel in like always!" Howard's voice was shaking and he was almost shouting now. "Everybody likes Vince Noir! Everybody loves Vince Noir! Nobody even remembers stupid Howard Moon! That old squinty-eyed git, Howard Moon! You always get everything you want! You can talk to bloody animals for god's sake! Mrs. Gideon was the only thing I had! The only thing I could look forward to every day, and you just snatched her up like a great blue bloody heron!"

Tears were stinging Howard's eyes as he tried to stand up, unsteady on his feet. He stumbled over the coffee table and banged his leg in the process. He roared and kicked the leg of the table with his foot, doing nothing but causing himself more pain and anguish. He slumped defeatedly back onto the couch and leaned his head back. He let out a few long sobbing sighs and then just went quiet.

Vince had jumped up when Howard had and was taken aback by this sudden explosion of emotion. He didn't really know what to say.


"Go away…"

"'Oward, really…"

"Please, just leave me alone, Vince…please…"

"No, you need-"

"Haven't you done enough damage already?"

Howard lifted his head up and glared at the fluffy-haired man standing above him.

"'Oward you've got it all wrong!"

Vince tried to say this tenderly but there was a tinge of frustration in his voice.

"Oh really? What is it this time? Is Fossil the third member of this couple now? Does everybody want a piece of Mrs. Gideon?"

"No, you great melon!" Vince snapped. "Sure, Mrs. Gideon likes me, but I don't like her back."

Howard sighed and looked away.

"Great, you've solved all my problems. Congratulations, you're brilliant."

"No! I mean…I like someone else."

Howard grimaced silently in the corner of the couch he now sadly occupied.

Vince swallowed the lump in his throat and gingerly sat next to his best mate.

"I like-"

The words caught in his throat. This wasn't exactly how he expected himself expressing these feelings but now was as good a time as ever.

"I like you, 'Oward."

He re-enforced this statement with a sloppy peck on Howard's cheek.

Howard looked over at Vince with the most ridiculously puzzled expression. Vince had to stop himself from laughing.

"This isn't funny Vince. It's not fair to hit a man when he's down."

Vince giggled.

"Why not?"

"Well, it's against the rules, sir."

"What rules? The rules of being a git? I'm serious! I like you 'Oward."

"How could you possibly like me? Nobody likes me. You've seen it. Even Mrs. Gideon chose you over me."

Vince was a little irritated by Howard's stubbornness.

"Well, I chose you, 'Oward, alright? I mean, I love ya…"

Vince's voice wavered on the last sentence and he trailed off a bit.

Howard furrowed his brow again and looked at Vince intently.

"You're joking."

"No, no I mean it! I care about you more than any other man or woman I've ever known! Sure, I've been 'round the block a few times, but that was just 'cause I knew you were into Mrs. Gideon and all that rubbish. Now that she's kicked ya away, I came here to tell you how I feel. I really do love ya, 'Oward…"

Howard scoffed and looked away, his arms folded.

"Just leave. All this is just a load of bollocks. You're just insulting me now."

Vince shuffled his feet as he sat and looked at his knees. He didn't budge.

"I said leave."

Howard's voice sounded cold and upset again.

Vince just sat there, staring down.

"Didn't you hear me? I said-!"

Howard was cut off by Vince's lips smashing against his own. Vince dug his fingers into the collar of Howard's green jacket and pulled him closer. Howard was shocked. He didn't understand. He could still feel the faint waxiness left behind from Mrs. Gideon's lipstick; or was it Vince's lipstick? He didn't know whether to be disgusted or enraged. He was about to pull back but as the kiss deepened he slowly relaxed. He closed his eyes and was flooded by memories.

Howard remembered the time when he had influenza and Vince had made him that lukewarm bowl of canned soup and stale digestives. He remembered the time he was having the nightmare about the Killeroo again and how he felt a hand sloppily fumble with his hair. He remembered the time Vince tried to make the morning tea and dumped half the pot of sugar into Howard's cup and spilled milk all over the tablecloth.

Howard sighed. Maybe he didn't need a woman to do all these things properly. Maybe all these things were done just the way they needed to be. Maybe Vince was alright. Maybe Vince would do.

Howard smiled to himself and pulled Vince closer as they kissed.

Maybe Vince would do just fine


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