A/N: Hello! I'm a day late, I apologise, my French homework... overran, shall we say. It took ages. But I've been working at this since 6:15, so I hope it's good, since it's taken me two hours to finish. If there are any mistakes, blame it on the fact that I have backache and am desperate to get off this computer. Anyway, I hope you like it, enjoy :)
Disclaimer: I'm in a hurry, no, I don't own it.
Howard was woken by a knock at the door of the hut. He groaned and turned over, ignoring it. It was too early. Let them wait. But the knocking continued and in the end he gave up and went to the door, bleary-eyed and grumpy. He opened it and saw Naboo standing there, the little shaman looking up at him, expressionless.
"What do you want?" Howard asked sharply. Naboo didn't say anything for a moment, and he realised with a twinge that he'd been too harsh. But Naboo was used to this sort of behaviour, and he wasn't surprised. It wasn't that early, but they'd both gone to bed late, and he was obviously exhausted. So he just calmly asked:
"He's still in bed. Why?"
"I need to talk to 'im. And you."
"I don't want to wake him…" Howard said cautiously.
"No one does, but you 'ave to. It's important." Howard nodded and walked off, leaving the door open for Naboo to come in. He went to Vince's bedside and shook his shoulder gently. His eyes opened almost immediately, like he'd been sleeping lightly.
"What's up?" He asked worriedly.
"Naboo's here. He wants to talk to us." Howard replied gently. Vince nodded and got out of bed. A few moments later, they were both sitting on the sofa as Naboo stood in front of them, arms folded, dark eyes boring into them. He unfolded his arms and dropped them to his sides.
"I think I've found somewhere we can go an' live. It's in the city, right in the middle. It'll be a bit of a change, a bit of a shock, maybe, but it seems alright. I won't be able to take you for a look around. You just 'ave to trust me. It's not huge, but it's bigger than this place." He gestured at the hut in disgust. Howard nodded, and Vince looked hopeful. But doubt seemed to overcome him, and he frowned.
"Are we all going to fit?" He asked.
"Well, you two will have to share again, but yeah."
"Even Bollo?" There was silence. Howard looked at the floor, sad that Vince couldn't let this go. Naboo just stared at him.
"Bollo's not coming, is he?" Vince said, his voice not weak as it had been, but angry and strong.
"He can't. Not to the city. How's 'e gonna adjust?"
"He's clever, Naboo, he'll be fine! Please, can't he come?" The weakness was back, the pleading. Naboo's expression changed the tiniest amount, pity alighting on his features for a moment.
"Sorry, Vince. It's just the three of us. We're leavin' tomorrow." Silence descended again and Howard looked at Vince with his eyebrows raised, asking a question that didn't need to be voiced.
"No." Vince said, all strength again. "I won't go without Bollo."
"You 'aven't got a choice." Naboo said, perhaps more firmly than he wanted.
"Sorry, Naboolio, but I'm not going unless you find some way of getting him to come." Vince stood up and walked out of the room into the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Howard put a hand to his face and shook his head.
"I knew this would happen." He muttered. "I'd better go after him." He got up from the sofa, but Naboo shook his head.
"No, leave him to let it out. I'd better go and look at the landlord's contract, see if I can find a loophole that'll let us bring Bollo."
Vince got dressed quickly and sat down on the bed, his head in his hands. He wanted to punch someone. He couldn't decide who yet, or who to start with, at least. He stayed there for a few minutes, until he heard Naboo leave the flat. He waited a few more seconds, then opened the door again. Howard looked up.
"I'm not even going to ask if you're okay." He said.
"No. I'm going out."
"To look around town for a bit. Looks like we're going to be in the city soon, I want to wander here one more time."
"Okay. Don't be too long."
"I won't." He left the hut, and walked out of the gates, taking the short road into town. The town was small, but there were a few shops, never with that much in them. Nothing of interest to him, at least. He just wanted to get out for a while. He couldn't go anywhere without Bollo. He was his friend. He couldn't just leave him. He wanted to rebel. To be something different to what he was now. Because, he had to face it, he was going to change. He would have to, if he was going to fit in with the city crowd. He'd seen them in Cheekbone, and they weren't like him. He was still too natural and average for the city hipsters. He had to do something. He looked around his surroundings, and caught the eye of a girl across the road. She was pretty, with big eyes and dark clothes. But what he was really interested in was her bright purple hair. That was it.
He would dye his hair.
There was a pharmacist's across the road as well. He ignored the smile of the purple-haired girl and went in, heading straight for the hair dyes. He knew that dying your hair to rebel was a bit rubbish and not really rebellious, but he didn't care. It was something. He looked over the colours. Most of them were too natural for him. There was a section of what they called 'electric' colours, but he wasn't sure about them either. He noticed a black dye on the bottom shelf, neglected and unnoticed by everyone but him. Black hair. He wasn't sure about it, but he knew he could make it work. And if he couldn't, well, that was what hats were for. He took the little box to the counter and managed to scrape the shrapnel of change in his back pocket into the right amount to pay. Then, he took his purchase back to the zoo. When Vince went into the hut, it was empty. Howard had obviously gone to talk to Naboo or Bob Fossil or someone. He went straight to the bathroom and took the dye out of the box, reading the directions and scrutinising the tiny bottle. He wasn't sure there would be enough. Never mind. It would have to do. He just hoped it didn't go grey instead of black.
Howard came back to the hut an hour later with Naboo, having helped him look through the contract for quite some time concerning Bollo. They walked in, and it was only as Howard was closing the door that he noticed Vince sitting on the sofa, a magazine in his hands and a towel on his head.
"Hey." Howard said, surprised.
"Alright." Vince replied, half-smiling.
"What's with the towel?" Vince's smile, such as it was, faded.
"I did something with my hair."
"Oh. Tell me you haven't cut it all off?"
"No. I dyed it."
"Let's have a look, then." Vince sighed and reached up to unwrap the towel. He threw it on the floor and sat there helplessly, his damp hair still hanging in rats-tails around his face.
"It's horrible, isn't it?" Howard couldn't say anything for a moment. Seeing Vince's normally sandy-blond hair raven-black was a shock to the system, it was true. But despite the damp non-style, it suited him. It was strange, but good strange. He felt a smile waiting to show, and let it.
"It's not horrible. I think it looks good."
"Yeah, it's great. Anyway, Naboo's got news." All the while, Naboo had been studying Vince intently, just looking at the hopeless look on his face that immediately told him that Vince thought he'd done something stupid. But he stepped forwards and said:
"Okay, Vince. We found out that even though there aren't any pets allowed, I could 'ave a familiar."
"What's a familiar?" Vince inquired, head tilted to one side like always when he was confused.
"It's an animal guide any magic person can have. Shamans are included."
"So Bollo would be your familiar."
"Yeah. And he could live with us." Vince grinned hugely, seeming to forget his hair for a moment. He got up and hugged Naboo tightly, ignoring his squirming.
"Thanks, Naboolio. You're the best." Naboo waited until Vince had let go of him, before straightening his turban and continuing:
"There's one more thing; we're also in charge of the shop below the flat. The landlord's handin' over ownership. Says he don't want to deal with it anymore. So you two are gonna work there, alright? You need jobs to get you out from under my feet."
"Hang on, you didn't tell me this five minutes ago." Howard protested.
"I know. You okay with this?"
"I guess so."
"Good. As I say, we'll leave tomorrow. You two might want to get packing."
Bye-bye, Zooniverse :( Still, we know where they're going next, don't we? And that's all good. Anyway, I'm rambling on a bit, so I'll be off. Reviews would be utterly wonderful :)
Much love x