Title: Empty Chairs Author: Concupid Pairing: Vince/Howard Rating: PG-13 Warnings: Angst, Spice Girls Summary: Vince continues to miss Howard. Disclaimer: I don't own the Boosh, they own themselves.
Vince had slowly moved closer to Bollo until he was in the gorilla's lap. Bollo rolled his eyes but began grooming Vince like in the old days, back at the zoo. Back before Howard had taken a shine to Vince and Mr. Bollo was the closest thing he had to a friend.
He'd been at the zoo for three months when he'd fallen asleep in Bollo's arms during the night shift. He'd woken up to Howard hissing his name. Howard had been terrified, whispering for Vince to carefully climb out of the cage before he was ripped limb from limb.
He'd jumped a foot when Vince accidentally woke Bollo up.
"Don't kill him, Bollo, he's got so much to give!"
"Sorry, Mr. Bollo. Sorry, Mr. Moon," Vince mumbled as he scurried out of the cage, locking the door behind him. He knew Bollo had made a copy of the keys to his cage years ago and came and went as he pleased. Vince locked the door to please Howard, because Howard liked when people followed rules.
As soon as they were out of Bollo's reach, Howard laid into Vince. He called Vince irresponsible and foolish.
"What if Bollo ate you, eh? Then he'd have to be put down and it would have been your fault, sir. I would maul you, myself, if you came wandering into my bedroom at night, rip your pointy face straight off, I would."
Vince burst into tears. He cried because he'd never been on his own before, because he hadn't finished school, because he couldn't face his mum, because he was afraid of everyone at the zoo and because he was terribly lonely. He also cried because he fancied Howard a bit.
"Don't cry, Little Man, c'mon now," Howard's voice had been all panicky, "Stiff upper lip. I'll give you a piece of candy if you stop crying."
Vince cried harder because he really wanted some sweets.
"It's fine, you're not dead... no harm, no foul, eh? The animals like you, Vince. I see you with them, it's like... A lot of people 'round here think you're mental... but I think you have a gift."
Howard was the first person Vince ever told about his gift. Howard had been so happy back then. He'd enjoyed watching Vince communicate with the animals. He'd been so eager to learn what was going on in their heads... and so disappointed to find out. Most of the animals in the zoo had been raised in the zoo. They didn't have very interesting stories. They were constantly being stared at and it turned them into egomaniacs. They were worse than reality TV stars.
Bollo had been the only one with stories to tell, and wisdom to share.
"Maybe Vince give Harold call? Tell Harold come home?" Bollo suggested when Naboo left the room to get more crisps.
Vince shook his head, trying to shake away the memories of when Howard had actually wanted to be around Vince.
"I don't need Howard!" Vince yelled, "I'm fine on my own!"
Then he cried himself to sleep on Bollo's shoulder.
Leroy literally dragged Vince out of the house, but even he agreed Vince couldn't be seen anywhere cool in his current condition, so they went to the worst club in town. Even in sweat pants, Vince was able to walk straight in, no wait.
The flirtinis were good, the DJ was terrible. After several un-danceable songs, Vince and Leroy reluctantly hit the floor to the Fugees.
"This song was the shit," Leroy reminisced, "Remember when it came out? What was that boring story Howard told us about this song?"
"He said it was a cover of a cover," Vince said, surprised how well he remembered that particular lecture, "The first girl what sang it was singing about how she saw that American Pie guy..."
"The one who fucked a pie?"
"No," Vince snapped, "That singer, Don McLean. He sang that song, 'Bye, bye, Miss American Pie...'. Well, she saw him singing some other song and she felt like he was singing about her..."
"So she sang about him singing about her?" Leroy asked, lazily doing his modified box-step to the music, "That is such a Howard kind of story. What was the song this girl heard him singing?"
"I don't remember," Vince admitted. He could remember the cool authority in Howard's voice and how bright his eyes had been, but he only vaguely remembered the words.
"Let's go back to my place and look it up," Leroy suggested, "Before this guy plays another Spice Girls' ballad."
"Too Much" was already playing before they made their escape.
Vince didn't much care for computers, they tended to go rogue and erase your entire shopping basket after you'd spent nearly eight hours picking out the perfect outfit. It would say horrible things like, "session timed-out", like there could be a time limit on shopping. It was mental.
Vince looked over Leroy's shoulder and he searched for information on Don McLean and "Killing me Softly."
The song was called "Empty Chairs". It was well depressing.
"No wonder Howard banged on about that story," Leroy sighed, "He loves depressing himself. If it weren't for you..."
"Without me, he's a huge success. He's rich and famous," Vince pointed out, embarrassed by the bitterness in his tone. He should be happy for Howard, the selfish prick.
"He weren't ever happy before you came to work at the zoo. I was his best mate and I could barely stand to be 'round him. Only you could make Howard stop worrying and have some fun."
Vince well remembered the first time Howard invited him down the pub. Leroy had taken to Vince right away and made him feel like he'd always been part of Howard's social circle. It was much later he'd learned how grateful Leroy had been for Vince's arrival. He had been about to give up his favorite boozer just to get away from Howard's moodiness. Leroy and Howard hadn't been so much mates as two guys who sat next to each other at the bar.
Never thought the words you said were true.
Never thought you said just what you meant.
Never knew how much I needed you.
Never thought you'd leave until you went.
Vince looked at the lyrics on the screen. He wanted to punch Don McLean.
He had Leroy download the song to Vince's iPod.
Vince lay in bed, looking at Howard's side of the room. He hadn't touched it. The bed was neatly made and covered in dust. Don's gentle voice was in Vince's ears, killing him softly with his words.
Moonlight used to bathe the contours of your face.
While chestnut hair fell all around the pillow case.
And the fragrance of your flowers rest beneath my head.
A sympathy bouquet left with the love that's dead.
Howard called twelve times in twelve months. He had to care about Vince, at least a little. It cost a lost of money to call from America... or so Vince imagined. He didn't even know Howard's number.