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Fan Fiction Post #40 {Howince Part 4}

Author's Note: This is a multi part fic. I'd suggest reading the 3 parts before this one, but, that's up to you. Also, as always, read at your own risk. Sensitive subject matter.
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Howard flopped down onto the couch, burying his face in one of the decorative pillows. For the first time in over two weeks, Vince felt well enough to go out with Naboo and Bollo. They'd gone to DJ for a new club just outside Camden, and Vince was the guest of honor. Although he'd been invited, Howard declined. It wasn't his scene.

In the back of his mind, Howard had a nervous feeling telling him that he needed to look after Vince, but, at the same time he knew he could trust Naboo and Bollo to keep an eye on him. Howard exhaled loudly, relaxing into the sofa. It was surprisingly comfortable, although his lack of sleep might've had something to do with that. He hadn't gotten a full night's sleep since Vince got jumped. Every little movement or noise that Vince would make, put him on guard; it was exhausting.

It was barely half nine, and Howard didn't expect his flatmates back until at least midnight. After making a cup of tea for himself, Howard turned on one of his Coltrane albums. Just as he took a seat on the couch again, his phone pinged in his pocket with a text message.

Unsurprisingly, it was Vince:

wish u were here x

Vince had become much more affectionate since the alley incident, and Howard was getting used to the unnecessary touches and flirty comments. Neither had said they loved one another since that one night a week ago, but somehow the chemistry between them increased. They were like two teenagers with mutual crushes on each other, except they were too shy to do anything about it, so they just went with the flow and it worked. They were content.

I wouldn't be any fun if I was there. Ha ha. Howard typed, half-smiling to himself. He was never much fun in social situations because of his awkwardness. That was okay though, because Howard was never a fan of large groups of people.

but im shitfaced n i want my howard xx

Howard chuckled. It wasn't the first time Vince had drunk-texted him, but it still entertained him.

Tell Naboo you need to leave then. It's boring here anyway.

Howard's mind started wandering to the possibilities with Vince drunk. It wasn't intentional, but he couldn't resist picturing Vince kissing him. The phone pinged again:

they r genius 2nite. crowd luvs them so we r gonna b l8. :(

Howard frowned a little, Do you want me to pick you up? I can get a cab.

Rly?

Vince's lack for proper grammar and spelling mildly frustrated Howard, but he ignored it for now. That last thing he wanted to do was cause an argument when Vince had been drinking.

Yes. I'll come get you. What's the club called again?

A message came back almost immediately, tart.

Howard laughed, It's really called tart?

ya r u comin?

I'll be there in a little while. I'll text you when I'm there.

Thx howard xx


Howard glanced in the mirror to fix his hair and slipped on his loafers before leaving the flat. He hailed a taxi, taking a seat in the back. It was a dreary night, but Camden's finest where still out, crowding dozens of bars on the way to Tart. It only took about fifteen minutes to get to the club, when the cab arrived, Howard punched out a text, Outside in the cab. Where are you?

A minute later Vince emerged from the club, spotting Howard immediately. He stumbled a little on his way to the cab; Howard had gotten out to help him, mostly out of fear of Vince falling. Once they were settled in the car, Vince rested his head on Howard's chest.

"You okay, little man?" Howard asked, draping is arm around Vince's waist.

"'m shitfaced," he slurred, his voice was soft, "fanks for coming, 'oward."

Howard smiled, "we'll be home in a little while and you can get some sleep," he murmured, stroking Vince's hip with his thumb. Normally, Howard wasn't this affectionate, but it felt right with Vince, so he just went with it.

"M'kay," Vince played with one of Howard's buttons, "can we have proper snogsies too?"

"I think you need a little sleepie before you do anything, Vince."

Vince looked up at Howard. The bruise under his eye had faded quite a bit, but even the concealer Vince was wearing didn't fully cover the remaining yellowish hue, "If you don't want to kiss me, you can tell me. I know I'm repulsive," he said sadly. His deep blue eyes were brimming with tears.

Howard sighed, "what did I tell you about that, Vince?"

"What?"

"You're beautiful no matter what you do," Howard caressed Vince's cheek, "so don't say that you're repulsive."

"Then why won't you kiss me again?"

"We're here, lads," the driver interrupted, pulling the cab over.

Howard paid the fare and helped Vince out of the taxi. Vince didn't need help getting up the stairs, but Howard walked behind him just in case. The last thing he wanted was for Vince to get hurt again.

Vince didn't say a word to Howard in the flat. He walked back to their bedroom and shut the door. After a few drawers slammed,  the squeaking of Vince climbing into bed echoed down the hall, followed by silence.

Howard was a little taken aback by Vince's sudden mood swing. Not wanting a repeat of two weeks ago, he gave Vince a few minutes to pout, while he took his shoes off and made two cups of tea. After the tea was finished, Howard put an obscene amount of sugar into Vince's cup, and left his plain, before taking the cups down the hall to the bedroom.

With some difficulty, Howard managed to get the door open, "fancy a cuppa?" he asked softly, shutting the door with his foot.

Vince ignored him.

"I put more sugar than tea in yours," Howard sat down on the edge of Vince's bed.

No response.

"Look, Vince," Howard sighed, putting the cups on the nightstand, "it's okay for you to pout, but could you at least tell me why you're so upset?"

Vince covered his head with the duvet.

"Okay then," Howard grabbed his cup of tea, "I'll leave your cup there if you want it," he got up, "goodnight," he bit his lip for a second before speaking again, "I love you, Vince," he crossed the room back to the door, leaving without another word.

Howard sat down on the sofa, sipping his tea. Naboo wouldn't be home for another hour or two, so he wasn't going to bother making up the sofa bed yet. He was going to give Vince some personal space, although it made him feel uneasy since they'd slept in the same bed every night for the past two weeks.

It's happening again, Howard, he thought to himself, another one bites the dust. You've messed up again. He felt a lump in his throat. Normally a ruined relationship or flat out rejection was just a part of his life, but this time hurt so much worse. He'd been pining over Vince since elementary school and it was over before it even began. Nothing would ever work out. I wasn't meant to be happy, he thought, pinching the bridge of his nose, to avoid giving himself a Chinese burn.

"Howard?" Vince's soft voice distracted Howard from his internal harassment.

Howard turned to see Vince standing a few feet from the couch, wearing only his orange v-fronts and one sock. His midsection was still dotted with fading bruises, but he still managed to look flawless, "What's up, little man?"

Vince looked like he wanted to cry, "I need you," he whispered, sniffling.

Howard got up and walked over to Vince, wrapping his arms around him, pulling him into a gentle embrace, "what do you need?" he asked, blushing as Vince flung his arms around his waist.

"I need you to protect me," he buried his face in Howard's chest.

"No one's going to hurt you, sweetheart," Howard cooed, stroking the nape of Vince's neck, "I'm the only one here and if anyone came in, they'd have to get through me if they wanted you...and that won't happen."

Vince looked up at Howard, "I mean protect me from myself," his eyes were brimming with tears.

Howard hadn't the slightest idea what Vince meant, "from yourself?"

Vince nodded, "you're the only one who can protect me."

"You're not making any sense," Howard's voice was gentle, "why don't we get you back to bed?" he said, walking Vince back to the bedroom.

Vince immediately climbed into Howard's bed, "can you sleep with me tonight?" he asked softly.

Howard sat down on the bed and took his shirt off, "only if you tell me what's frightened you," he climbed under the duvet and felt Vince scoot closer, "I can't help you if you don't tell me what's bothering you."

Vince relaxed a little as Howard put his arm around him, "you stop the scary flashbacks," he curled up against Howard's chest, "when I'm alone, I keep seeing that chav and," his voice trailed off, taken over by soft sobbing.

Howard wanted to cry. He couldn't even begin to imagine the flashbacks Vince must've been having, and he didn't know what to say. Vince trembled against him, so he pulled him closer and pressed a kiss on his forehead, "I'm sorry you had to go through that," he whispered, "but I'm here now. I won't let it happen ever again," Howard felt Vince hiccup, "stop that, your face is too pretty to have tear stains down it."

"He raped me," Vince's voice cracked.

Howard figured it had happened, but this was the first time Vince has said it so bluntly. He felt like he was going to be physically sick, "Vince, I," words left him. What could he possibly say to Vince? I'm sorry, surely wouldn't cut it.

"I've never been so scared in my whole life," Vince was shaking.

"Could you ever forgive me for not being there?" Howard asked, trying to swallow the lump in his throat, "Because I don't think I'll ever forgive myself."

"There's nothing to forgive," Vince cupped Howard's cheek in his hand, "you found me in the end."

"But I was too late," Howard sighed.

"You were on my mind the whole time," Vince stroked Howard's cheek with his thumb, "I could hear your voice telling me that everything would be fine."

Something clicked for Howard at that moment. He could deny it all he wanted, but Vince loved him just as much as, if not more, than he loved Vince. He'd never want anyone else in his life, because Vince was perfect. It was supposed to be this way. This happened for a reason; to bring them closer, "Vince?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I," Howard felt his heart racing, "can I kiss you?"

"You wanna kiss me?" Vince's cheeks flushed.

"More than anything," Howard curled his hand around the nape of Vince's neck, pulling his closer. Their noses brushed together, "is this okay?"

"Yeah," Vince breathed, shivering from the sudden closeness.

Without any hesitation, Howard kissed Vince. Time seemed to stop, the walls faded away and nothing else existed except for Vince. Their lips moved in perfect unison; every touch and every movement seemed to have been rehearsed. Vince twisted his fingers into Howard's hair, holding their lips together.

Vince ran his tongue along Howard's bottom lip, as if to ask for permission to deepen the kiss. Howard returned the gesture, opening his mouth and shuddering as Vince's tongue flirted with his own. It was his first French kiss. He knew he'd never forget this moment for as long as he lived. The taste of cheap, disgusting alcho-pops was now his favorite taste in the world. 

The sound of a door slamming and footsteps coming up the stairs forced Howard and Vince back to reality, "Naboo and Bollo are home," Vince whispered, pressing one last kiss on Howard's lips.

"Flawless timing, as usual," Howard sighed, hearing their bedroom door fling open.

Naboo flipped the light on, "oh, shit," he covered his eyes, "what are you ballbags doing in my room?" he asked, peeking through his fingers. Naboo was completely wasted. If not on alcohol, then some other mind-altering substance.

"Your room's down the hall, Naboo," Vince laughed.

"Where am I?" he asked, looking around.

"You're in our room," Howard sat up; his arm was still around Vince.

"What're you on?" Vince asked, "You're off your tits."

"Took a few tabs of acid," he said, looking up at the ceiling, grabbing at something invisible to Howard and Vince.

"Where's Bollo?" Howard raised an eyebrow.

"The couch," Naboo laughed to himself, not really paying attention to the conversation, "were you two kissing?"

"Yes," Vince glanced at Howard and smiled.

Naboo smiled, "S'about bloody time," he flipped the light off, "there's a unicorn in the hallway. I'm going to follow him to Saturn."

"Have fun, Naboo," Vince laughed when Naboo shut the door before turning back to Howard, "never a dull moment."

"You're telling me," Howard laid down and stretched, "Naboo was on another planet tonight, eh?"

"He was pretty bad," Vince mused, "I wonder if he'll catch up with that unicorn."

"I wonder what he meant when he said it was about bloody time we kissed," Howard thought out loud.

"I might've talked to him about you," Vince admitted sheepishly.

"Why?"

"Come on," Vince snorted, "you're mental. I've been in love with you for years and the only person I could talk to was Naboo. He let me rant about you when you were being difficult."

"You could have just told me," Howard frowned to himself, "I didn't have anyone to talk to about how I felt about you."

"I didn't want you to reject me."

"One would have to be pretty stupid to reject you, Vince," Howard kissed the tip of Vince's nose, "you're beautiful, talented and not to mention one of the most amazing people I've ever met."

"I'm nothing compared to you," Vince nuzzled Howard's neck, "anyone would be lucky to have you."

"You could have me," Howard whispered, getting goosebumps as Vince's lips ghosted kisses on his neck, "that is, if you want me."

"You're the only one I've ever wanted, you berk."

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