A/N: Early upload for this, thanks to a sudden influx of inspiration. I know I said it wouldn't be angsty, but it is a little bit. Hopefully it's not too bad. I hope you enjoy the last chapter :)
Disclaimer: I don't own anything but the story.
I was having trouble sleeping that night. It was freezing cold, but if I kept the duvet on, I was too hot. I spent hours tossing and turning, uncomfortable and upset. I didn't know why Howard had told me to forget what I'd told him. I wanted to ask him. I didn't know if I really wanted to wake him, though. I sat up, and looked across the room at his bed.
"Howard?" I said. "Are you awake?" There was silence for a second. Eventually he replied:
"Howard, I can't sleep."
"Can I turn the light on?"
"Yeah." I got up and stumbled over to the light switch and flicked it. Howard screwed up his eyes against the sudden brightness, and I squinted back at him as I sat back on the bed. As we got used to the light, Howard said:
"I don't want to stay here at the minute."
"Mm." I agreed.
"Do you think we should go somewhere?" I looked at the clock.
"It's three am." I answered doubtfully.
"Does it matter?"
"I guess not."
"Come on then. Get dressed and we'll go for a walk."
"You can wear my coat."
"Okay." He got out of bed, took some clothes out of the chest of drawers, and headed for the bathroom. I went to the wardrobe and stared inside. I was tempted to put the mirrorball suit on. I had worn it a few times lately, and I'd paraded around in it proudly at Christmas. But maybe not now. Not in the cold. I found a pair of black jeans, a t-shirt, and a thin black jumper. I put my boots on and waited for Howard to come back. He wasn't long, and he led me through the flat to the coat hooks. He put on his khaki green coat and handed me an old one of his, a black trench coat. I put it on and did up the buttons. The sleeves were too long for me, but I decided it was better than nothing. We opened the door quietly, making sure not to wake Naboo and Bollo, and went downstairs. When we finally reached the street, Howard gave me a smile, one I couldn't help returning. It was frosty, and the street was slippery in places. The streetlights lit up the layer of white on the roofs and the walls. Howard's coat kept me warm. We set off down the road, side by side, hands in pockets, breath condensing in the air. We didn't say anything for a few minutes. But we were tense, and it was killing me.
"I don't want to forget." I said.
"What?" He frowned in confusion.
"You told me that I should forget what I said to you. About loving you. And I don't want to."
"That wasn't what I meant." He said gently. "I meant you should forget how guilty you are over it. I don't think you should feel bad. You told the truth, that's not a crime."
"I know. But I feel so stupid. You don't love me the way I love you. And it's just… horrible."
"Vince, you don't know the half of it." He muttered.
"What d'you mean?" I asked cautiously.
"I mean that there's a lot more to what I feel than you know." He stopped walking and turned to look at me. "I mean that I've never felt so messed up in my life as I have done over the past six months, and all because of this. Because of you. Seeing someone you've always had nearly disappear off the face of the Earth can send your feelings off course."
"So… what are you sayin'?"
"I don't know, Vince, that's the whole point. I just don't know how I feel anymore." He bowed his head and kept walking. I hurried after him, dodging patches of ice on the ground.
"Howard!" I got in front of him and grabbed his arms. He stopped again, and I kept hold of him. "Howard, it doesn't matter."
"Why should it matter what we are to each other? We're always best friends, aren't we? We've always been… affectionate, I guess. We're always one step away from a relationship, but we never go there. And y'know what? I don't care! As long as I've still got you, I don't care. If you're there, I can live with myself and the guilt and the nightmares and anythin' else. We don't have to be in a relationship. We just have to be there."
He stared at me. I didn't take my hands from his arms until he physically moved them. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly. For a moment we just stood there. Neither of us moved or said anything. But finally, he let go of me. Immediately I missed the embrace.
"I never thought you'd be the rational one in this relationship." He said with a grin.
"So it is a relationship?"
"It's whatever you want. You're right. As long we're always there, what does it matter? We've always been here, and we always will be."
"Thanks, Howard." He took my hand as we kept walking. I felt his warm, rough palm in mine, and squeezed it.
"You're welcome." He replied.
"Can I ask you somethin'?"
"Why didn't you tell me earlier? About how you felt?"
"I was confused. I didn't know if I was really feeling it or if it was just a mistake. And then when I realised it wasn't a mistake, I was scared to tell you. In case you'd changed your mind."
"I wouldn't do that."
"No. I know that now." He sighed and carried on. "For a long time, Vince, I thought I'd lost you. I thought that you were gone. Even when you got out of hospital, you were so distant for a while that I thought I'd never get you back how you were before we left home. And I know you still aren't perfectly happy. But now I think you'll come back to me."
"I'm already here." I said. He nodded and smiled. "I'm alright. I won't let go that easily. I fought all this way for you. So yeah. I'm coming back to you."
"That's good." He let go of my hand and slid his arm around my waist. I shivered again, same as I did every time he touched me now. But now he shivered too, and in the cold, we were together. The way we were meant to be. But one thing was still missing.
"Howard, do you think we'll go back to Nabootique?" I asked.
"I think we will. Naboo will want the place back, I should think. And he left most of his stuff there. He won't have let anyone buy it, don't you worry."
"No." I tried not to laugh; imagining the mess there would be if someone tried to move in. "I hope we go back soon. I like it here, but it's not our place, y'know?"
"I know. Don't worry, Vince. It'll all be alright." I nodded.
"It'll be alright." I echoed. We kept walking, sleepy and happy, better for finally telling the truth. The cold didn't make a difference to the way we leant on one another as we walked, the way we talked frankly about what we'd been through. Nothing could affect us now. Howard had been right; memories were nothing to worry about. The past was the past, and we couldn't change it. But we could change the future by how we acted in the present. And now, we were making sure our future would be bright.
I hope you liked the ending; I just liked making it sweet. And I hope you enjoyed reading this story. It's been the most difficult to write story I've ever done, and there were parts I didn't even want to do. But now I've made the happy ending they deserved, and it's been worthwhile. Thank you very much for reading and reviewing what I do, and for following or favouriting too. I'll have to start a new story soon so that I have something to do. And I promise I will finish Lost Souls. I can't leave it where it is at the moment, but it's so frustrating. Anyway. Reviews would be lovely.
Much love xxx