a/n: i'm pretty rusty here guys, so do me a favor and either say something nice or don't say anything and just ignore this if you don't like, hahah. i literally haven't written with these characters for about 2 years so idk how this'll turn out, but i'll try

Also: this is in show-verse only, as i don't have the time nor the patience rn to hunt down and listen to/watch every radio show and stage-play


"Oh come on, Naboo, please? You're my last hope!"

"No, Howard."

"Why not, then?"

Howard straightens his posture and crosses his arms, looking sternly down at the shaman - or at least trying to, clearly struggling to hide something of a pout growing in slight twitches on his face. Naboo isn't even looking at him, gaze fixed somewhere on the wall across the room, but he can see Howard in his peripheral, and he knows that it's only a matter of time before the so-called 'tough' visage wavers and crumbles.

Mere seconds later, after some moments of strategic silence, Howard sighs and deflates. Naboo takes a hit off the hookah pipe, satisfied, and at last glances up. Howard looks almost like a sad puppy as he begins to try once more to convince him to come to his recital.

"C'mon, Naboo, you know Vince never comes to these things, and I know Bollo won't either, but I'd really like at least someone there for me, just once."

It doesn't work, though something deep within himself stirs somewhat guiltily. He pushes it down even further until he can't feel it anymore.

"I've stuff to do, Howard; important shaman business to attend to."

His companion simply raises a knowing brow, huffing out what could be an attempt at a laugh.

"Alright," he admits in an easy sarcastic drawl, turning his head again to lay further back on the couch. "You got me - I just don't care about it. I'm not going, and you can't change my mind."

"If you just-"

"Not going," he interrupts, tapping lightly at his left temple. "Mind like a fortress; no changing this one."

Another few moments of silence, and he takes another hit, thinking it's finally over when Howard suddenly straightens up again.

"Are you ashamed of me? Is that it?"

Naboo coughs and his head spins back around to him.

"Am I what?"

He sputters, both incredulous and beyond annoyed. He lightly hits his chest to dispel the last bits of coughing, but Howard is no help, turning half away from him in a move to leave the room.

Really, it was almost like his own take on when Naboo turns his back on people. This parallel makes him almost want to get up and strangle the man in his annoyance. Almost.

"You heard me just fine, sir. I understand perfectly well now! You're ashamed because despite being my...my 'partner'," he stumbles slightly on this term, as he always does, but it's short-lived and he plunges further onward in his tirade.

"You think of me as an embarrassment - someone who's just going to mess up like always, right? Well fine then," he turns completely on his heel and takes the first couple of steps out of the room.

"I'm going to make a mess of it, and I'm going to do it on my own."

'You always do, though,' he wants to respond, but for once, he decides to hold his tongue on this.

Sighing heavily, he lays back again, closing his eyes to the ceiling. Really, Howard was always so overdramatic about the littlest things, and this wasn't much different from other such situations. So what, he was having another jazz recital? Big deal.

So what, Howard and he were, somehow, currently engaged in a...an odd, vaguely romantic - in quite a loose sense of the word - and oftentimes very awkward relationship? So what if one could call it 'dating' in a sense? That didn't have to mean that Naboo would be at the man's beck and call, enthusiastically sat in a front-row seat to every and any event Howard played a part in. It didn't have to mean anything at all, in fact.

But why could Naboo still feel the stirrings of something decidedly not-good within the pit of his stomach? Something he ate? That bad hit just now?

He furrows his brows and sighs again, sinking further into the cushions as a slight high began to take effect, trying to dispel it with other thoughts. It doesn't work.

Howard stands off to the side, hidden behind a hastily set up curtain in the tiny venue. Really, it was more of a rec room, if he were being perfectly honest, but it was something, and he hadn't worked so hard on combating his stage fright for nothing. He was going to do this, and he was going to do great!

He sinks down against the hard wall, watching his hands begin to tremble again. It simply just didn't feel right, being all alone here. He was so used to having someone always at his side - primarily Vince, for as long as he can remember, and more recently though more only occasionally Naboo, at least when he could get the shaman to spend more than a few moments with him that weren't in the secluded privacy of a locked room.

He and Naboo haven't spoken a word since their argument a few days prior, nor have even looked in the other's direction, really.

Truly, he wasn't much sure he was all that capable of being alone for much longer than an hour, despite his usual front of bravado; he was much too used to it, and he could even admit now that he needed someone, needed to not be alone. It almost felt as if the universe itself was unbalanced, tilting heavily off to one side and throwing him off of his feet.

He was alone, disappointed no-one came to support him, and very, very nervous.

As the last wobbly notes ended for the current act, he snapped to attention and waited for the small scattering of polite applause to die down, his name shortly announced as the oncoming performer. He took a deep gulp of air, exhaling it shakily, and stiffly made his way onto the rickety stage.

The two lone beams of light coming from the batten above him burned hotly onto his face, and he stubbornly kept his gaze down on his feet as he began the short walk to his position in the middle. Taking another quick breath, as quiet as he could, he forced his eyes up to face the room at large as he reached it.

It really wasn't much to worry about at all. There were only about five rows of folding chairs set up, several chairs to each row, and it was predominantly empty, with a mere nine people seated sporadically among them.

His attention, though, suddenly shifted to a tenth person he hadn't noticed initially, the one in question being hidden quite well by the shadows at the very end of the final row. But he would know that turban anywhere.

It was Naboo. The shaman was truly, honestly there, right before his beady eyes.

Far back as he was, he was very much there, patiently watching him from his slouched position, arms crossed casually across himself. He almost looked relaxed, as though he'd been there forever and had no plans to move any time soon.

Breath caught in his throat as a weight was suddenly lifted from him, he gave the slightest of nods as the other raised a brow after a moment, motioning for him to begin already.

Howard lifted his trumpet, and began to play.

It went rather well, if he did say so himself. He hadn't fainted or interrupted his own set to run off and vomit, anyway, and certainly that was a victory for the books.

His set ended the way it was meant to, and he took a slight bow as he received the same scatter of applause he'd heard for the other handful of acts for that night, eyes only focused on Naboo as he too, amazingly, lightly clapped for him.

The end of his set also meant the end for the night itself, as his was the very last to go on. With a short congratulatory speech from the organizer of the event, it was over, and as soon as his instrument was packed safely away, he quickly made his way back out to catch Naboo before he disappeared into the night like a mirage.

Oddly enough, though, Howard was surprised to find that he'd made no move to leave without him, and in fact had seemingly been waiting for him, looking over at him from his new spot standing next to the main exit.

He made his way over and simply stared for a few moments, unsure of what exactly to say.

"Well," he started, without much of the rest of a working sentence in mind. Suddenly very nervous again, he scratched at the back of his head and kept glancing back and forth between his companion and the floor.

"Thanks...Thank you for coming tonight. It- It really does mean a lot to me, y'know."

There, he'd said something. For once, he found himself not a total blubbering mess, and was, on the contrary, very satisfied with his words. He waited now, anxiously turning over any and every possible response he could receive in his mind, both positive and overwhelmingly negative.

Naboo merely stared up at him for a moment, then turned to make his way outside.

"Shaman business was postponed, is all. Had nothing else to do tonight."

"Right," Howard said, easily keeping up with him as they began the journey home together, and outright failing to suppress a knowing grin. "That's all."

"That's all," Naboo agreed, nodding once and looking nowhere but straight ahead of himself.

They walked on in companionable silence then, only occasionally lightly bumping against one another, until they reached the end of their walk. Naboo paused for a moment as he went to open the door, still not looking up at him, though he was quite clearly talking to him as he asked,

"So, you coming to bed tonight or what, then?"

Howard had been sticking solely to his shared room with Vince that whole week, having abandoned their still somewhat-new routine of him waiting for Vince to fall asleep before sneaking over to spend the rest of the night with Naboo. He found his answer rather simple, feeling much lighter than he had before.

"Of course," but he suddenly realized a possibility. "Unless you'd rather I not."

"Don't be stupid," came the quick answer, the knob finally being twisted all the way and the door being pushed in to allow them to enter, and at last, he looks up over his shoulder at him, as if challenging him to argue again.

Howard just chooses to nod.

"Right, then. In that case, I guess I'll be seeing you later."

Naboo's face softens ever so slightly, and they walk inside, shutting the door behind them.

a/n: so anyway, i am absolute trash for this incredibly obscure and pretty dang implausible ship and this was probably all totally ooc for them but you know sometimes you just gotta write your own dang material for your ships, sometimes you just gotta do it yourself