Bollo finally awakened and discovered that his small master was missing. He growled softly, gathered up the hair covered robes and stumped downstairs. Naboo was seated in the kitchen with Pete, dressed even worse than Harold and drinking tea. He stared at his familiar.
"Grunt," said Bollo.
Pete got to his feet, smiling. "Good morning."
"This," Naboo explained, "is Bollo. My assistant."
Pete nodded. "Cool. You're both welcome."
Bollo dropped the robes on the table and wrapped his arms around Pete.
"Thanks," he growled. "Boo and I go soon."
"Bollo," Naboo scolded. "Sorry, Pete."
The gorilla released his host, who was struggling for breath.
"We're going," insisted Bollo.
"Don't make me turn my back on you."
Naboo checked on Pete and gently led him to the living room. Bollo sulked for several minutes before stuffing the Shaman's lain on robes into the washing machine. He added powder and switched it on, before collecting all the dirty crockery and utensils. He washed these carefully in the sink, dried them well and tidied away. Then he ate all the bananas and saved the skins.
o - o
Vince changed into fresh underwear; then tried various combinations of tops and bottoms. The fashion world would certainly have moved on without him, but right now, he only wanted to please and surprise his own Howard.
'Red,' prompted his Brain Cell.
"Hmm. The reddest outfit I have is... no, too warm. Where's that blouse?"
He slipped it on gracefully and did up the buttons. Next he selected slender, black trousers, decorated with lines of silver sequins. He kept his feet bare.
"I can't do anything until I've got the dye."
"Don't YOU start."
'What happened yesterday was cute.'
'Pay attention. You don't feel right, do you?'
"I feel Fabulous!"
"All it needs is a comb."
Vince stared into his mirror and reluctantly admitted that a Moon Do, delightful as it was to experience, would never win a Best in Show. He looked through his products.
o - o
Naboo stood in the kitchen doorway, arms folded. Bollo was waiting for the laundry to finish. He growled at the shaman.
"Need go back," the gorilla insisted.
"No. We won't be welcome yet."
Bollo roared, stomped and beat his chest. Naboo stayed still and impassive, so Bollo threw banana skins at him. They all fell short.
"Are you quite finished?" Naboo asked.
Bollo stared, grunted and then very deliberately turned his back. Naboo walked up, sighed and slipped his hand inside a larger one. He took a deep breath and said,
"Bollo, you ball bag. I... love... you."
There was pause of alarming length before Naboo winced slightly. He squeezed back and all of a sudden he was off the ground, captured. Oh no. I should have known better. Now he'll... Sure enough he was once more hugged to within an inch of his life. Oh poor Vince. What did I inflict on you?
"Bollo love Naboo too."
"Th.. th... th-anks, Bollo." Crazy ape. "Now please put me down."
Bollo only chuckled and held on. "Mine, mine."
"Alright, Bollo. We'll go tomorrow."
"Or as soon as my clothes are dry." Honestly. Beasts.
The gorilla set him down gently and Naboo left the room with as much dignity as he could muster. Bollo happily returned his attention to laundry.
"Naboo all soft like lamb. Bollo know now. He's okay. Not like Harold."
He hummed "Electro Boy" in anticipation of Little Prince.
o - o
"I mean it's ridiculous," muttered Vince, picking up his root booster. "He watches me get dressed All The Time. He's seen every little bit of me, well, except for... Ugh, well who would want to?"
"Oh, give me strength," grumbled Tony from within. "You are so... I mean... He sighed and softened his tone. "I can teach you, but you need to let me out."
"Sorry, Tony. I forgot. I was kind of... well, distracted. We'll be there soon."
"I can breathe, don't worry."
"But why didn't you tell me you were trapped before?"
"Well, I was hoping... Don't be nosey, Noir. Just hurry up!"
"Okay. Cool your tentacles."
Tony withdrew and Vince continued treating his hair.
o - o
Howard walked up and down the corridor, half-relieved and half-disappointed that he had been banished. Adorable as his Kitten was, Vince Noir could be exhausting. Every time he came to the door, he stopped, raised his hand to knock, smiled and decided not to.
"We both need our space. Be patient, Moon."
"What's with you?" he asked Head Cell.
"I'll see if Naboo's left a key anywhere. We haven't eaten and..."
'Tk Tk Tk.'
"...and perhaps we can find a room to rent. One with Two beds, proper shower. This place is depressing."
'It's you two. You're hopeless.'
"Why does it matter if we don't? Love is about the little things. The rest is... optional."
'He's a curious creature. One day he might...'
"Not with me. He loves me, but as a best mate, a big brother. And that's how I..."
"Are you sure?'
Howard did not answer. Instead he knocked on the door.
"Vince, are you ready?"
The Noir glanced in the mirror before answering, "Yeah. It's not perfect, but... Come on in."
Howard swallowed and pushed it open. Vince was a vision.
"Come here, Mr Tickles."
Well, it's better than Jazz Freak, thought Howard.
Once more they were in each other's arms.
This gets easier every time.