When Naboo arrived home from his "shaman business", he was very surprised to see the shop shut. It was two hours before closing time. Those jerkoffs.
He was all ready to shout as he made his way upstairs, wondering why on earth he thought he could trust Vince Noir with a shop. He was probably straightening his hair or something.
"Oi!" the shaman yelled as he came up the stairs, "Care to explain why the-"
"Shh!" Howard hissed from the sofa, reaching a finger to his lips. "She's just got to sleep."
Howard frowned, then remembered Naboo had been away since last night.
"Oh. Well, remember Stella? That girl Vince had a thing with a year or so back?"
"What, the one who threw up right outside the shop?" Naboo inquired, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, I remember."
"I don't really know how to tell you, but-"
"He got her pregnant?"
Howard slumped in defeat. "Yeah."
"What a wanker," Naboo muttered, eyes taking in the mess of bottles, clothes and various baby items that littered the flat. "So where is this 'she'?"
"Polly is our room. She's been a bit restless and she's just got to sleep so a bit of quiet would be appreciated," Howard said softly.
Naboo opened his mouth to say something but stopped once he saw Vince troop out of his room.
Vince nodded, eyes meeting the floor. "I know."
"How are you supposed to run a shop with a baby around?"
"I don't know."
"What were you thinking?!"
"I don't KNOW!" Vince suddenly yelled, eyes flashing with anger. "You think this is easy for me? I'm the one with the kid. She's my responsibility! I don't even know what I'm doing and you're just waltzing in here to tell me what an idiot I am? That's-"
He was cut off by a loud wail coming from his room. He looked like he wanted to cry as well.
"I'll sort it," Howard said gently, getting up from the sofa. "You talk it out with Naboo. Quietly."
He hurried into his room where he was met by Polly lying in a makeshift cot (a large box filled with blankets) and bawling, making grabby hands for something.
"Hey," Howard soothed, carefully lifting her up with his big strong hands and holding her to his chest as he shushed her. "What's up, hmm?"
Polly babbled something and looked in the general direction of her bottle, wailing and continuing to make grabby hands.
"Oh you're hungry?" Howard asked softly, reaching for the pale pink bottle and, glad it was still warm, raising it to Polly's lips. "Okay, darling."
The little girl eagerly drank, eyes huge and looking at Howard like he was Christ. She was incredibly beautiful, Howard had to admit. And unmistakably Vince's daughter; their features were practically identical. Her obscenely long eyelashes fluttered as he stared.
After a while Polly's eyes began to droop, and she let the bottle slip from her lips as she drifted back to sleep, a little contented sigh escaping her.
Howard smiled softly and carefully placed her back in her 'cot'. They'd really have to buy a proper one, he thought.
Re-entering the living room area, he saw Vince looking at him expectantly, eyes red. "Is she okay?"
Howard couldn't help but smile at Vince's concern. "Yeah she's fine, just hungry."
The small man nodded sadly before settling back on the sofa, bringing his knees up to his chin. A tear rolled down his cheek. Naboo was nowhere to be seen.
"Vince, seriously, what is it?" Howard asked in a concerned voice, perching next to his friend. "You've been overly tearful today and it's a little worrying. You're supposed to be made of sunshine!"
"How are you so good with her?"
Vince rolled his swollen eyes. "Of course, you twat. Who else?"
Howard swallowed. "I guess I'm just good with kids. Besides, it's just doing what she wants. It's not a question of being good or bad."
"I know, but I really want to connect with her, y'know?"
"You will, little man. Just give it time."
The flat fell into comfortable silence for a minute or two. The only sounds were traffic outside and some shuffling around downstairs.
"How did it go with Naboo?" Howard inquired softly, lifting one of Polly's dummies off the carpet and placing it on the coffee table.
Vince visibly brightened. "Good. He's went downstairs to see if he can find something for her to play with. And a better bed, that one's a bit crap," he added, stifling a yawn.
"Do you want to go to bed?"
Vince scoffed, looking at the clock. "It's just past four."
"Irrelevant, you look knackered."
The small man nodded after a moment, standing up and stretching. He walked slowly over to his and Howard's room before turning around again. "Thanks for helping, Howard. You're a good friend."
Howard beamed. "I'm here for you, little man."
Vince didn't realise how tired he'd been until he woke up the next morning at 9am. He'd slept over twelve hours. Groaning, he dragged himself out of bed, feeling that something was wrong.
He caught sight of Polly's box and sighed, posture falling. So it wasn't a dream.
Upon entering the living room, he was greeted with a soft "Morning," from Howard. Vince's heart melted at the sight.
The tall Northerner was knelt on the carpet as Polly crawled around him. She grabbed her toys and handed them to Howard, eyes wide with curiosity.
Vince couldn't help feeling a little jealous. The two seemed to have such a connection.
Polly suddenly ceased her movements, staring up at Vince, blue eyes blinking slowly. Howard noticed and grinned.
"Looks like someone wants her daddy," he cooed, carefully lifting the little girl into his arms and handing her over to Vince.
Polly stared up at him, lifting a tiny hand up to his face. He relaxed and gently stroked it with his index finger. She grabbed on, a large grin making its way onto her face. She babbled something incoherent before wiggling around happily.
"Hey," Vince smiled fondly, "Careful, I don't want to drop you, darlin'!"
He gently stroked her rosy cheek, so absorbed in his little girl that he didn't even hear his name being called several times.
"Hmm?" he mumbled, snapping out of his trance. He saw Naboo and a startled looking Bollo standing near him.
"Catch Bollo up, will you?" the shaman asked before heading to fetch his bong. Howard rushed after him, saying something about it being dangerous for Polly.
"Alright, Bollo?" Vince smiled shyly, looking back down at Polly.
The gorilla frowned, looking down at the small human lying in his friend's arms. He grunted a reply.
"You wanna hold her?"
"Bollo no good with baby."
Vince smiled. "Well, we're keeping her so you're gonna just have to get used to her."
Bollo cautiously held out his arms as Vince carefully placed the little girl in them. He held her awkwardly for a while, not knowing what to do.
Polly looked up at him in awe, eyes widening. Bollo was worried she'd start crying - he hated babies crying - but instead she let out a shriek of delight, making grabby hands up at him.
The ape smiled and spoke softly. "I got a good feelin' about dis."