Set in the Zooniverse, Vince gets a new job and Howard gets left out. Awww.


Characters: , ,


Genre: , ,



Length: words

Notes: This is SILLY. There’s a little bit of angst in there. Because it’s me writing it, ya dig?

Superstar by nastyfucker

Vince took a last look around the keeper’s hut, making sure that he’d managed to fit everything into the several suitcases laid out on the floor. He sighed, checking his watch – Bollo would be coming soon to help him get his cases into the taxi that was on it’s way. He glanced down at the scrawled note on the table. He’d wanted to say goodbye to Howard properly, but whenever the moment arose to tell him he was leaving, it just never seemed like the right time. He felt a bit guilty about leaving a Dear John letter, so to speak – but he was sure that Howard would understand. It was time for him to move on, and getting offered the job at the newly opened Superstar Zoo was a golden opportunity. All the famous animals were going to be in there, like Muffin the Mule, and that dog off Woof.

He tapped his foot impatiently. Bollo should’ve been here by now, and he was all ready to give him a stern talking to. He turned around, scowling as the door creaked open. Only, it wasn’t Bollo. It was Howard, with the most bewildered expression on his face as he looked around the room at all the suitcases laid out.


Howard blinked at Vince.

‘What’s all this?’

Vince sighed and looked down guiltily. He’d managed to avoid an awkward goodbye scenario quite adequately up until this point. Of course he knew he should have told Howard he was going, and it was terrible of him not to have done so already.

‘Howard, there’s… something I’ve been meaning to tell you. I… I left you a note.’ Vince frowned, picking up the scrawled piece of paper from the kitchen table and holding it out to Howard as if he’d take that, rather than make him explain himself. ‘I…didn’t know how to tell you.’

‘Oh..’ Howard said quietly, reading the letter and struggling to decipher what it actually said. Damn that Brick Red crayon.

‘So, you were just… going to leave me a note?’ Howard looked at Vince, a genuine look of hurt on his face. ‘After everything…’

‘Please don’t…’ Vince interrupted ‘I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I wanted to tell you, I really did…. I just couldn’t.’

Howard folded his arms and nodded. He couldn’t decide if he was angry, or upset, or what exactly it was he was feeling. Either way, it wasn’t very pleasant. Vince looked at him and sighed, and was about to walk over to him when the door burst open, knocking Howard sideways. Bollo nodded at Vince, and Vince scowled.

‘Bollo? Where the hell have you been? Half five, I said!’

‘Sorry..’ Bollo huffed. ‘Me and Naboo watching Deal or No Deal. Fell asleep on couch.’

Howard looked up from the floor, rubbing his head.

‘What… you’re going now?’ He frowned, climbing back to his feet. ‘Right now?’

Vince nodded, looking guiltily at Howard.

‘Yeah… The taxi’s waiting for me outside the gate. I’ve got a meeting with the head keeper first thing in the morning. They want me to organise a monkey fashion show – all the stars are going to be there. Could be a really big chance for me, Howard…’

Howard nodded, the words sticking in his throat as he spoke.

‘Oh that’s… that’s great, Vince. Really great. I’m…. I’m really happy for you.’

He forced a smile, which probably looked more like a grimace.

Vince sighed as Bollo began lugging the suitcases out of the door and to the taxi. He walked up to Howard, looking up at him and squeezing his arm gently.

‘Thanks for understanding, Howard. I’ll…. I’ll give you a call, you know? Once I get settled in and everything. Maybe you can come up and visit? Come up and see the show or something, yeah?’

Howard nodded, snorting slightly.

‘Yeah. I’ll… look forward to it.’

Vince smiled softly, contemplating whether to hug Howard, or just to leave. He settled on squeezing his arm a little tighter.

‘I just wanted to say… thanks. For everything.’

Howard blinked down at Vince. So many things to say, nowhere near enough time to say them.

‘My pleasure, heh.’ He smiled half-heartedly. ‘I’m… I’m just glad that someone else finally sees your potential.’

Vince smiled, removing his hand and leaning over to pick up his bag from the table. He slung it over his shoulder and looked back to Howard, who was now leaning against the doorframe.

‘I’ll see you around, yeah?’


And with that, he was gone. Taking one last look at Howard from the gate before climbing into the taxi. Onto bigger and better things than the old Zooniverse, he thought to himself.

Howard was still stood at the front door. Eyes fixed to the gate. An awful heaviness still weighed in his chest. He knew that eventually this time would come, that someone else would see Vince’s talents and take him away from this place…. but he’d never thought it’d be so soon, nor so sudden. He sighed heavily, trudging back into the hut and shutting the door behind him. The place seemed so empty. No half finished paintings and scribbles strewn about the place, no clothes cluttering up the couch to the point that you couldn’t sit on it. It was horrible.

Sitting down on the couch, he took a deep breath. Surely this wasn’t so bad? Now he had the place to himself. He could listen to his jazz without the complaints and disdainful glares, hell, he could run around the place naked if he wanted to. He realised that those things didn’t really have the same appeal now. It was those complaints and glares that actually made those things enjoyable, wierdly enough. Howard felt terribly odd about the whole situation. The place was too empty, he frowned to himself. He had to get out, clear his head.

Ironically, he ended up over at Naboo’s place, where the air was distinctly unclear.

‘Alright, Howard?’ Naboo grinned, blowing a thick cloud of smoke into the air. He offered the pipe of his hookah over to Howard, which he politely declined, sitting down on a large bean-bag on the floor. ‘Not like you to be making a social visit…. What can I do for you?’

Howard sighed, scratching his head. ‘You know what, Naboo? I have no idea. Just came to see what you were up to.’

Naboo nodded, inhaling another wad of smoke.

‘Vince has gone…’ Howard frowned, picking at a loose thread on the beanbag.

Naboo looked up, tilting his head slightly.

‘I know. Bollo told me.’ He smiled. ‘Promised him he’d get him a part in this fashion show he’s organising. He’s off trying on hats.’

‘Oh… well, good for him.’ Howard smiled a little. ‘That’s… That’s good. That’s really good.’

‘Is it?’ Naboo raised his eyebrow questioningly. ‘You’re not happy for Vince, are you?’

‘No, I am…. I am. It’s just..’

‘You miss him.’

Howard looked at Naboo forlornly and nodded. He was met with a sympathetic, yet knowing smile.

‘I understand.’

‘Do you?’ Howard blinked back, eyebrow raised slightly.

‘Of course I do. Shaman’s intuition.’ He grinned, holding yet more smoke in his lungs, his expression becoming increasingly more glassy-eyed and wobbly. ‘I know how things are…. really.’

Howard’s arms folded as he became suddenly more defensive.

‘What do you mean, ‘How things are’?’ He scowled. ‘I have no idea what you’re implying, Naboo. Honestly, you don’t really think…Pfft. Yeah. As if… God. Pfft.’

After a good two minutes of ‘pffts’ and ‘yeah, right’s. Naboo started giggling.


‘Well actually… I didn’t.’ He smirked mischievously. ‘But that reaction told me a lot more than I could figure out.’

Howard gasped incredulously, fixing Naboo with a wide-eyed stare before finally deciding to give up the pretence. He sighed and slumped back against the beanbag.

‘Ah, well. Not that it matters now, anyway. He’s gone, and that’s that. He’ll be off being wooed by all the celebrities… Maureen off Driving School, Des Lynam…’

‘Des Lynam?!’ Naboo snorted.

‘Des Lynam! He’s a major player in the wooing stakes. It’s the moustache, you see..’ He grinned, stroking his own cappuccino stain facial fur.

‘Right. And Vince goes for the mustachio’d type, does he?’

‘He might. They draw you in… Like a glowing ball of…. hair.’ Howard nodded, gesturing animatedly and feeling ever so slightly woozy in the smoky den.

‘I dunno, Howard…’ Naboo shrugged. ‘I mean, the moustache didn’t work for you, did it?’


‘I’m sorry..’ Naboo smiled. ‘I couldn’t resist. Anyway, are you sure you’re not having a bit? Might take your mind off things.’

He waved the hookah pipe temptingly at Howard, his eyes now squinting to block out the smoke. He sighed, climbing to his feet and nudging Naboo to make room on the couch. He took the pipe and gazed at it for a moment.

‘May as well, eh?’ Howard sighed. ‘Not like I’ve got to get back for anything now, is it?’

Naboo squeezed Howard’s shoulder understandingly before climbing to his feet, getting the distinct feeling that Howard might have just decided to take up residency. For the time being, at least.

‘I’ll get the kettle on.’

‘Good idea!’ Howard nodded, pressing the pipe to his lips and taking a long, deep drag. ‘Five sugars.’

After a couple of hours, Naboo and Howard were slumped on the couch. They’d decided to bring the kettle into the living room by this time, as well as the sugar, milk and teabags seeing as after fourty-five minutes, neither of them could be bothered walking the whole two metres back to the kitchen.

‘So..’ Howard slurred. ‘Since when did you have cable telly?’

Naboo beamed proudly as he flicked through the channels.

‘My mate. Works in Dixons…’ He nodded, tapping his nose. ‘I’ve got connections.’


‘Yeah, got me a great… Ooh look, Howard! Gary Numan!’

The sound of Cars blared through the ill-gotten surround sound system and Naboo grinned, bopping around and singing in a terribly tuneless manner to the track, oblivious to Howard sat next to him. Howard looked down and bit his lip, silently wishing Naboo would just turn the damn thing off. He’d gone over there to try and take his mind off Vince, and now it was the only thing he could think about. He closed his eyes, an inexplicable sinking feeling in his stomach and a large lump rising in his throat. Holding his breath, he wrapped his arms around his body and tried to stop himself from shaking. He couldn’t be getting all unnecessary. Not over a bloody Gary Numan video… it must be the drugs, he concluded.


Naboo had realised that Howard had become notable by his silence and turned around, expecting him to have fallen asleep. He most certainly hadn’t expected what he found. Howard’s eyes were still closed and he sniffed slightly, arms still firmly folded across his chest.

‘You alright, Howard? D’you want another cup of tea?’

He shook his head, croaking softly.

‘I’ll be alright in a minute… Just..’

He inhaled sharply, determined not to make a bloody idiot of himself, especially not in front of Naboo. That’d give him at least a week’s worth of blackmail material. Naboo sighed, turning the television down and resting his hand on Howard’s shoulder.

‘It’s alright, Howard…’

Howard’s eyes snapped open, glaring at Naboo.

‘No, it’s not al-sodding-right, Naboo!’ Howard snapped, his eyes welling up. ‘It’s all wrong! All bloody wrong!’

‘I’m sorry… I wish there was something I could do.’

Howard blinked at him, before rubbing his eyes on his sleeve.

‘Well… maybe there is..’


‘Well… You’re a shaman, right?’

‘Yeaaah..’ Naboo frowned, not liking where this was going.

‘Then you can make him come back, can’t you?’ Howard beamed proudly. ‘You could… do a spell or something. Make him realise that he should be back here, with me…with us.’

‘Howard..’ Naboo sighed, inwardly wincing at the desperation in Howard’s voice. ‘I can’t do that. You know I can’t. It’d involve messing with Vince’s free will, and it’s a risky business. Plus the Shaman’s Committee would have my guts.’

‘Naboo, Please!’ Howard Cried, grasping Naboo’s robes in his fists and shaking the small shaman. ‘This isn’t the way things are meant to be!’

‘I’m sorry, Howard.’ Naboo frowned, his voice sterner now. ‘If Vince has gone there because he wants to be there, then it is how it’s meant to be. I can’t do nothing to change that.’

Howard sniffed, his lower lip trembling uncontrollably now.

‘I just… I just want him to come back..’

Naboo sighed, holding onto Howard’s shoulder as he made a slight hiccuping sound.

‘I know.’ He frowned, before clocking the time. ‘Look… Howard. It’s getting late. Maybe you need to get some rest, yeah? Things might look better in the morning.’

Howard glanced out of the window at the Keeper’s Hut. It looked cold and unwelcoming with all the lights off. He didn’t want to go back there. He turned to Naboo, watery eyes blinking sadly at him.

‘I can’t…’ He shook his head, tears beginning to spill down his cheeks ‘Not there…’

Naboo nodded, climbing to his feet.

‘Alright. You can spend the night here. Sleeping bag’s behind the couch – Only for tonight, mind. This place is small enough as it is.’

‘Just one, I promise.’ Howard lips twitched, struggling to form a smile.

‘Oh, and Howard?’ Naboo called behind him as he headed to bed.


‘We haven’t got the porn channels. Bollo ran up a bill the last time, so we had ‘em cut off.’

‘Naboo!’ Howard gasped.


Howard rolled his eyes and tugged out the sleeping bag from behind the couch. kicking off his shoes before curling up on the sofa, the blanket pulled over his head as he nuzzled against the large cushion. He closed his eyes, sniffling quietly until the effects of the hookah finally lulled him to sleep.

Two Weeks Later…

Naboo stood in the living room doorway, arms folded and staring sullenly at Howard lain across his sofa, remote control in hand. He stared blankly at the TV, with reddened eyes and heavy stubble. Naboo turned to Bollo and sighed.

‘I don’t know what to do with him. He’s not been back to the hut in weeks – and Fossil’s starting to get annoyed at the fact that he’s not so much as lifted a finger.’ He frowned. ‘He’s going to get sacked, on top of everything else.’

Bollo nodded thoughtfully, munching on a banana.

‘You could kick him out.’ He grunted.

‘That’d do no good… He’d just wander around the zoo, weeping and scaring the customers. There’s only one thing that’ll fix Howard, and there’s no sign of him–’

Naboo was interrupted by the shrill beeping of his mobile phone. He pulled it out of his pocket and answered.

‘Ello?… Oh, alright, Vince? We were just talking about you…’

For the first time in weeks, Howard sat upright, his eyes widening at Naboo.

‘Yeah… Oh, Howard? Yeah. He’s here… Oh! Right, I’ll tell Bollo. Yeah, should be a laugh. D’you want a word?’

Howard stared at the phone momentarily before taking it out of Naboo’s hands.


‘Alright, Howard? What you doin’ round there?’

‘Oh.. Oh not much.’ Howard frowned. ‘They’ve got cable. I found some interesting documentaries about owls…’

‘Yeah, that’s great Howard…. Listen..’

‘How.. How are you?’ Howard continued ‘How’s things at the new zoo?’

‘Oh yeah, it’s amazing!’ Vince grinned, his voice drowned out slightly by the bustle and noise as people prepared for the show behind him. ‘I met Jimmy Saville! Genius…’

Howard sighed, wanting to hear at least a hint in Vince’s voice that he might actually be miserable at the Superstar Zoo and want to come home.


‘Howard! Listen, my monkey fashion show’s tonight – I’d really like you to be there. I’ve put you on the guestlist.’

Howard pouted moodily.

‘I.. .I can’t.’

‘Oh you… Oh. Why not? C’mon, Howard…’

‘No, seriously. I’ve got things to do. Man about town, you know… I can’t possibly.’

Vince sighed against the phone, his brow furrowing with dissapointment.

‘Ah, well…. I guess I’ll see you around, yeah?’

‘Yeah… I’ll try and fit it in. Bye, Vince.’

‘See ya, Howard..’

He hung up the phone and sighed, staring at the handset mournfully.

‘Howard…’ Naboo scowled. ‘What the hell are you doing?!’

Howard looked up and shrugged.

‘You could’ve gone! You could have gone there and persuaded him to come back!’

‘I appreciate the optimism, Naboo.’ Howard smiled slightly ‘But he’s enjoying himself out there. I can’t just expect him to come back here, can I? To a dead-end job, no prospects…’


‘No.’ he scowled. ‘Just leave it, Naboo. Leave it.’

Howard got up and walked out, Naboo and Bollo leaned against the window ledge and watched him stalk back into the Keeper’s Hut.

‘Well..’ Bollo chuckled ‘You did want to get him off your couch…’

‘Not funny, Bollo.’ Naboo shook his head distainfully before patting Bollo’s shoulder. ‘Come on…’

‘Huh? Where?’

‘You’re taking me to the fashion show. You’ve got a plus one, right?’

Bollo nodded.

‘I thought you say Naboo not interfere.’

‘And I won’t. I’ve just got an idea, that’s all….’

Later that night, Howard sat on the sofa in the keeper’s hut, nursing a cup of tea. He supposed that now Vince had gone, he’d have to get used to being in there on his own. He sighed, watching Eastenders and deciding that he really needed to get a satellite dish.

He wasn’t sure what time he’d nodded off, but he was rudely awoken by the front door clicking open and the heavy rain beating down on the rotten wood window-ledges. He at first assumed it was Naboo, come to pester him to pay a visit to the zoo, so he turned his back and closed his eyes, muttering grumpily.

‘I’ve told you before, I’m not going, Naboo…’


His eyes cracked open. He knew that voice, and it certainly wasn’t Naboo. He turned around to find Vince, dripping wet and shivering with cold in the doorway.


Vince looked at him and sniffled. Howard couldn’t be sure, but it looked like Vince was terribly upset. He frowned, climbing to his feet and approaching him. He rested a hand gently on his shoulder and Vince looked up at him tearfully.

‘Oh, Little Man…. What’s happened? Did something go wrong at the show?’

Vince shook his head.

‘The show went great… It was.. It was the party afterwards..’ He whined, his eyes glistening in the darkness of the hut.

‘The party… Why?’

Vince shook his head, falling forward against Howard’s chest and wailing inconsolably. Howard blinked as the cold rain-water soaked through his shirt, his arms curling around Vince’s shivering form.

‘Vince… Just tell me what’s happened! You’re scaring me now.’

‘I was… sat at the table and… ‘ He whimpered. ‘And I dropped a bowl of Twiglets…’

‘You’re crying because you dropped a bowl of Twiglets?!’

‘No!!’ He wailed, his grip tightening around Howard’s waist. ‘I – I leant down to pick them up…’


‘Kate Moss threw up on my head!!’ He sobbed. ‘It was horrible! I had to get out of there before someone took a photo!’

Howard cringed, realising that as much as he was kind of glad to see Vince, and secretly a little happy that it had all gone wrong – He wasn’t so keen on the fact that Vince was probably rubbing Kate Moss’ vomit into his shirt. Gently, he lifted Vince from his chest and smiled softly, brushing a stray tear from his cheek.

‘Howard..’ Vince pouted. ‘D’you think Fossil might give me my old job back? I can’t go back there… Not now.’

Howard nodded sympathetically, and Vince raised a small, hopeful smile.

‘I’m sure it won’t be a problem.’ Howard grinned, ‘Now… D’you want to go and get your clothes off?’

Vince blinked, before raising an eyebrow and smirking broadly.

‘I mean… get out of those wet clothes, heh.. You’ll.. You’ll catch a death.’

‘S’alright, Howard.’ Vince grinned, unfastening his shirt and heading towards the bathroom. He glanced over his shoulder and winked ‘I know exactly what you mean.’

Howard chuckled, muttering to himself as he headed to the kitchen and placed two mugs down in front of the kettle.

‘I certainly hope so…’

Naboo and Bollo were perched on the arm of the sofa, peering out of the window and watching the hut intently. Bollo turned to Naboo and nudged his arm.

‘You said Naboo no do spell.’

Naboo grinned mischievously and shook his head.

‘I didn’t…. But I never said I wouldn’t sell Kate Moss so much gear that she’d end up puking all over anything within a ten-metre radius…’

Bollo chuckled deeply and shook his head.

‘You bad man, Naboo.’

‘Ah well..’ He grinned. ‘I’m sure Howard’s not saying that….’

Bollo shook his head and climbed off the couch, returning to the joypad on the table.

‘Right now. Bollo no want to know what Howard saying.’

Naboo smirked and rolled his eyes, picking up his own controller and sitting back, cross-legged on the couch.

‘Nope. Me either.’

+ posts