Vince shares his thoughts on the Grand Design with Howard.


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Length: words

Notes: I took some liberties with Vince’s childhood, because the show kinda contradicts itself on some occasions with that. And I hope my writing of his cockney accent isn’t too confusing.

Design by AppaDarling


Howard turned onto his side so he could properly see Vince’s face as they lay together in his bed, legs tangled and bodies spent. One of his hands busied itself playing through the glossy strands of dark hair splayed out over the pillow around his head, looking like a glowing halo in the moonlight that streamed through the window.

“Yeah, little man?”

A pause. Vince was staring thoughtfully up at the glow-in-the-dark stars that decorated the ceiling of their shared bedroom. “You ever think… maybe things ‘appen for a reason?”

Howard’s brow creased. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, ” Vince struggled to put his thoughts into words. “I mean d’you think things are meant to ‘appen a certain way? Like, things that don’t make no sense at the time but it all sor’ of, y’know, comes togever in the end?”

Howard looked down at his chest where Vince’s fingers were unconsciously tracing little patterns across his skin, wondering what Vince could be thinking about. “Well, I don’t really know. What’s got you worried, little man?”

Vince’s eyes were still on the stars. Howard watched his tongue dart out over his bottom lip to pull it between his teeth. “‘M not worried. ‘S just… I’m thinkin’ about stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?” Howard prodded.

The smaller man shrugged a thin shoulder. “About me parents and stuff.”

Howard put an arm fully around him and pulled him close to his chest, offering silent comfort. “You’ve never told me about your parents.” He didn’t want to push the subject if Vince didn’t want to talk about it, but he really did want to know. He’d always wondered about what happened to his best friend’s parents. Luckily, Vince seemed willing to talk about what was bothering him.

Vince was silent for a moment as he thought through his words. He turned his eyes away from the ceiling and laid his head on Howard’s chest, snaking an arm around his waist and resting his hand on his hip. “I lived in Shoreditch, y’know, when I was little. And me parents were music types, in a band togever. Me mum was really young when she ‘ad me. I don’t think she liked me much, cramped her style. And me dad didn’t think much of me. But we lived in a flat in Shoreditch until I was about seven and they died.”

Howard pressed a kiss to the top of Vince’s head, rubbed his hand up and down the younger man’s arm soothingly. He asked quietly. “How’d they die?”

“They OD’ed. On the sofa in the livin’ room.” His voice was steady, almost nonchalant. Like he had separated himself from that part of his life, or maybe he just hadn’t cared much. Howard thought he knew better, though. He wondered with a sharp pang of sympathy if young Vince had been the one to find his parents. His mind conjured images of a little Vince, small and bleary-eyed, walking out of his bedroom in the morning to find his parents slumped on the sofa. He didn’t dare ask.

“I’m sorry, Vince, ” he said quietly.

But the younger man shook his head. “You don’t ‘ave to be. I barely knew ‘em, ” he shrugged. “I was sent to live with me mum’s aunt, Matilda. She was a right git, that one. Real old and stuffy, traditional. I don’t think she liked me much, either. Always gettin’ on to me for customizin’ my school uniforms.” He grinned and chuckled a little at some memory. Howard smiled, imagining a young Vince sewing sequins onto his school jacket and ‘setting off the outfit’ with patterned scarves. “Yeah, she was a piece o’ work. I didn’t mind so much livin’ wiv ‘er. She ‘ad a big house, it was genius! But she got on me nerves quite a bit, so I ran away when I was eleven. That’s when Brian Ferry found me in the forest and took me in.”

Howard knew about this part. It was really the only part of his childhood Vince had ever talked about, and he couldn’t blame him. He unconsciously hugged the man a little tighter, wishing futilely that he could have done something to make his life a little easier. Wished he would have been there to protect him. He’d been exposed to the uglier aspects of life before he’d really been old enough to understand it. Howard felt a surge of pride for his friend who had been through so much and had come out of it such a good person. He was still self-centered and sometimes inconsiderate of other’s feelings, but he was kind and still incredibly innocent underneath it all. And he loved Howard. He figured he’d done pretty well for himself, considering the circumstances. A weaker person might have crumbled, but not his Vince.

“I lived wiv ‘im and the animals for a few years, till I was fifteen and around that time I got it in me ‘ead that I was gonna go back to the city and become a rock-and-roll star. So I did.” He stopped and Howard felt his face crinkle in a grin against the skin of his chest. He continued stroking his arm gently. “Well, I went back to the city, anyway. Turns out bein’ a rock-and-roll star was a lot ‘arder than I thought.” He looked up at Howard then, cornflower eyes glowing over a radiant smile. “‘N that’s when I met you, ‘member?”

Howard did remember, very clearly. He’d met Vince in a seedy bar, when he was only sixteen, alone and looking like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Howard, then twenty-two, had set down next to him and ordered a drink. Vince had been the first one to talk to him, for Howard was a little shy and generally tried to avoid teenagers anyway. They were sometimes cruel. But Vince had been different. He was smiley, and not in a mocking way. He joked with him, made him feel at ease. Howard had gotten to know him and offered him a job at the Zooniverse as his assistant zookeeper. And the rest was history.

Howard nodded, looking down into Vince’s smiling blue eyes, impossibly large in his angular face. He looked beautiful. “Yeah, I remember, little man.” He smiled. “You were something else.”

“Yeah, you too. You were a jazzy freak with a ‘70s mustache, but even then I think I sor’ of… y’know, got this weird feeling off you. I didn’t know what it was at the time.” At Howard’s look, Vince grinned. “Not like that, you perv. I knew what that feelin’ was. No, I mean, it was like this vibe, I dunno.” Vince trailed off, giving up trying to explain his odd feelings towards a man that, at that time, he had only known for a few hours.

“Love at first sight?” Howard asked teasingly.

Vince chuckled at this. “Yeah, that must have been it.” His laughter died away, though, and he looked seriously up into Howard’s eyes again, resting his chin on his chest. “But, I was sayin’ before… when I was little and all this was goin’ on, I remember thinkin’ how unfair it all was. But, now, lookin’ back on it… ‘M kinda thankful for it, y’now? I mean, if it wasn’t for me ‘avin’ such a crap childhood, I probably wouldn’t ‘ave met you. So, I gotta reckon it was worth all the trouble gettin’ to you. Don’t you think?”

Howard, embarrassingly, felt his throat tighten with emotion and his eyes prickle suspiciously. He hugged Vince tightly to him and the other man laid kisses along his jaw, buried his face into his neck and breathed him in. When Howard trusted himself to speak, he said, “Yeah, little man, it was worth it.”

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