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It’s not something she ever really considers. Well, not at first. Why would she really? He’s a kid. So it honestly sneaks up on her. That annoys her because Gemma considers her rather self aware and she likes feeling like she knows herself better than other people her age. It might be a bit self aggrandising, prideful quality, but she’s not ashamed of it so she doesn’t care.

This thing however, it catches her off guard, even though it shouldn’t because well, she’s known Liam for three years. Maybe she doesn’t know him as well as Harry, of course she doesn’t, but he’s always been cute and sweet in a sort of distant way she’s thought in regards to all of Harry’s friends before. And honestly, his hair was so horrible back during X-Factor, as sweet and quiet as he was.

But now, well.

He’s grown up, hasn't he?

They all have, yeah.

She’s seen them grow up. She hears all the ridiculous stories Harry just has to share when he comes home, happy, tired, half a foot taller, curls limping into his eyes and he curls up next to her on the sofa like he’s done since he was a baby and learned that Gemma would never ever shove him off. Most days. Definitely not until he was old enough to shove back and even then Harry would never. She knows the band’s bad habits, their good ones, too, and can’t help feel a certain fondness over all of them as they take her little brother all over the world and keep him well loved in cuddles and a sort of brotherhood she could have never given Harry. She’s jokingly called all of them her brothers more than once.

Obviously they’re not.

Obviously they’re just four lads who have help changed Harry’s world, and tangentially her own, with all they’ve accomplished together. And while they’re all as close as family it’s mostly the boys. True, her mother has every one of the other parents in her phone and Gemma has basically spent the last three years gaining a massive extended family and she thought that was it, really.

No more surprises coming her way.

Then Harry texted her after they started the American leg of the tour.

She hadn’t even know in which city they’d been - she knows better than to look through YouTube or Tumblr even if all the sisters have an email thread in which Lottie or Ruth always share links to - but she’d opened the message without thinking much on it. Harry texts her all the time. Harry sends her picture messages all the time. Sometimes of road signs and empty pavements. Her brother is a strange one. He’s lucky most people find it adorable. Then again they don’t have pictures of three different McDonald’s car parks being sent to their phones.

This message hadn’t been of an empty pavement. Or her name spelt out in banana peels.

It’d been of him and Liam. And in complete fairness, for Harry’s sake, he does send her random pictures of him and lads a lot. Sometimes of the other lads themselves after he’s played some sort of prank. Harry likes to keep Gemma appraised of his very strange life. It’s sweet. She does adore the little knob.

But this picture. It shouldn’t have affected her. Not as it did. She’d seen Liam a few weeks ago. Or was it a month? Point was: she’d seen Liam. He really hasn’t changed that much. His smile is still the same, if quicker to come out, and he still blushes adorably when she teases him. He’s Liam. And, yes, he’s taller and his shoulders have got broader, but so have Harry’s.

Honestly, it was a just a picture.

There were hundreds of pictures of the boys, more than a few of those being of Liam and in several them he’s been topless. It’s not something new. Gemma has seen Liam topless in her own garden. Opening the picture message really shouldn’t have had Gemma skimming over her brother’s familiar features and catching herself staring at just how broad Liam’s shoulders have got and the new dusting of hair on his chest.

It wasn’t even a serious sort of picture in the least. They hardly ever are, with Harry. They were both making silly faces at the camera, eyes crossed and tongues out, Harry’s arm around Liam’s shoulder. Liam’s naked shoulder. And she’s pretty sure that Harry didn’t tell Liam he was sending the picture to Gemma because she’s almost positive that Liam would have put on a top then. Maybe not. Like Harry, Liam’s changed. All the boys have. Harry doesn’t like to show it, but he’s become a bit more closed off, careful even, in a way he wasn’t before. He relaxes and lets himself open up with her and mum, of course, and the boys, but when the cameras are out Gemma notices the change. Not many people notice, it’s small enough, most of the time. Harry’s clever like that. But it’s a bit more obvious in Liam, maybe it’s because of how open he’s become in the spotlight. He’s definitely more confident now than he used to be. And maybe he did know that Harry was sending the picture to Gemma and just didn’t care. After all, Gemma’s seen them all in swimming trunks bombing into pools more than once. It’s a bit intriguing, if she’s honest, thinking Liam had known. She shouldn't’ be intrigued, is the thing.

And the idea that Liam knew Harry was sending a picture of him topless to her should not have her pressing her thighs together, because Liam is like family. That's what the boys say about each other all the time.

He’s her brother’s best mate and bandmate.

He’s ogled by millions of girls and boys around the world, and while she does love the band, she’s not-- she shouldn’t be--

Wondering about Liam’s skin and how it’d taste is not a thought she ought to be having.

Gemma takes a breath. Maybe two.

So what if Liam suddenly got fit? It’s no big deal. She types back a cheeky message back to Harry and deletes the picture off her phone.

Out of sight, out of mind and all that, right?

Right.

*

One week later, Gemma’s email pings on her phone. It’s from Lottie, and Nicola and Ruth, who are always on top of their emails in a way Gemma is actually jealous of, have already shared their feelings on whatever Lottie sent. Messages of ‘oh god my eyes’ and ‘LOTTIE I’M HAVING JAY PARENT LOCK YOUR PHONE’ should have really warned her, but she was too busy grinning. The Tomlinson gene for mischief does not live in Louis alone.

It’s the second time a picture of Liam surprises her.

She hopes this does not become a habit.

In all fairness, it’s not entirely of Liam. Just sort of his arm and chest area.

Gemma swallows.

Her mind flashes back to Harry’s picture and she hates she has the inkling to text him and ask him to send it again, because as burned into her brain as the image is, well, the Batman vest top Liam is sporting is hiding quite a lot that she’d been privy to before.

Had she still had the picture she could have sent back her own email, Gemma thinks. Look what Harry sent me last week, Nicola, Ruth! xx she would have sent back.

As it is, she closes her phone. The other girls know better than to expect daily emails from her; she’s a busy one. It’s mostly for the younger sisters anyway (Louis and Zayn’s sisters are avid emailers) to keep each other informed and connected as their brothers travel the world.

Gemma licks her lips and taps her nail against the screen of her phone. Embarrassingly, her only thought is: At least he’s older than Harry.

Which should not be a thought she should be having. On its heels is an even more embarrassing thought:

He’ll be twenty in August.

It’s June now. She promised Harry she’d go out towards the end of the American tour when she’s out of uni. August.

“Fucking hell, Gemma, stop,” she tells herself out loud and pushes her phone away. She grabs a book and gets down to work.

*

Two weeks pass before she gives in and logs into her tumblr and clicks Liam’s tag.

She can’t help but be curious. And, well, to be honest, she’s feeling horny and she’s not proud of it, but it’s been a while, and whenever she pictures a bloke, Liam’s arms and chest and his cheesy stage smile pop up in her mind.

The tags are vile as always - she stopped checking tumblr regularly around June 2011 - but there are pictures. She bites her lips as she looks at them.

She looks at some with Harry first because maybe this will help desensitise her to whatever the fuck Liam’s been doing to her (turning you on, the traitorous part of her brain says, which she ignores) but she, not for the first time in her life, ignores her brother and his stupid face.

Liam’s wearing a horrible snapback which makes his hair look rather bulbous, but she only then imagines herself knocking it off and oh fuck. She logs out of tumblr and closes her laptop.

That night she bites her lips and slips her hand down under her pyjama bottoms and presses her finger to herself just as she likes. She starts out slow, teasing, then speeds up, desperate to come because it’s been a while, to be honest, and she’s so close to the edge. So close.

She imagines thicker fingers, a strong forearm, the thick lines of a tattoo and--

Hi, I’m Liam, nice to meet you.

Gemma comes, arching her hips off the bed, panting hard.

*

She’s going to kill Harry.

This is all his fault.

Somehow.

*

Out of sight, out of mind. Out of sight, out of mind.

She repeats this to herself now. It doesn’t help as much as hoped it would.

She ignores tumblr. She only pays minimal attention to the sister thread. She avoids checking his twitter.

(That’s one small favour, at least, Liam doesn’t really post that many pictures.)

Then, Harry, the little shit, sends her a pictures of them training. It’s apparently a thing they do now. Liam is doing some pull ups and Harry is giving her a ridiculous thumbs up. Niall's in the picture too, he’s flexing. They’re all idiots.

Gemma groans and covers Harry and Niall’s faces. Liam definitely didn’t know the picture was being taken and she’s pretty sure she hates their personal trainer. She bites her lips and tilts her head, considering. He really is very fit.

Then she smacks the screen of her phone against her forehead.

“No, Gemma.”

She needs to get a hold of this before she seem them all again.

It goes as well as expected.

*

But really there’s no avoiding him. It’s impossible, really. Her brother practically lives with him. And he’s there, leaving his hotel room, when she and Harry arrive from the airport. Liam smiles and wraps her up in a hug, like he always does. She does not think about how his arms feel around her. She absolutely does not. And she kisses his cheek, like she always does. His scruff is new; she decides she likes it. Last time she had kissed his cheek he’d been smooth shaven and his hair was still in its awkward growing stage from the buzzcut. She never really ran her fingers over it when she had the chance, she thinks now. She wonders if it would have felt like his scruff against her thighs.

Her plan of not thinking about Liam's body pressed up against hers is failing spectacularly.

He thankfully seems none the wiser and welcomes her, earnest and sweet as always. Wicked you’re here, Gem, he says and nods at Harry when he makes Liam promise they’ll all have dinner together tonight, and to make sure to tell Louis and Eleanor if he sees them. He keeps heading down the hall and sends a small wave and big grin to Gemma, which she, thank god, reciprocates easy enough like she hasn’t got off to his face for the last month.

She’s been worrying so much about how she was going act around Liam that she almost didn’t sleep on the plane, but having landed and seen him, she’s relaxed. She can do this. It also helps that Harry demands her full attention, excited to take her around the city, pouting that he can’t drink or gamble, flushing when she reminds him of Australia last year, and grinning, pressing his head against hers, happy to have her around. She hugs him back, because she does miss him loads when he’s gone.

It’s strange to think that she’s almost used to spending so much time away from Harry when he used to be glued to her side when they were little, but this is his life now. Their lives, really.

Las Vegas is great though. She is old enough to drink and gamble, but she’s never been a huge fan of either and spends most of her time with Harry, which was the plan, and Lou, who is a fan of Gemma’s new hair. She sees the other lads regularly, but they’re all busy and well, it’s all a lot less awkward than she expected. Liam treats her same as always, polite and maybe a little careful. Extra gentlemanly, Harry calls it, waggling his eyebrows. Gemma pokes his cheek each time and roll her eyes; tries not think of Liam being a gentleman in bed at all. And it’s not like she and Liam have many shared interests but he sings along to Shakira with her in the dressing rooms. Happily chats with her about Strictly Come Dancing and spins her once or twice around backstage.

It’s nice to see Eleanor, too, even though they’re not incredibly close, but their feminist conversations always get the boys leaving the room. That’s fun. Even Harry, who mostly listens and learns, she hopes, follows his boys out like a duck line. Then when Karen and Geoff arrive it’s a bit like having mum and Robin around.

Karen is as lovely as ever, and it actually makes Gemma feel a bit guilty using her son as her own personal fantasy, but then again Liam walks around topless all the time. Working out like mad, heading down the pool with Lou and Tom, Lux in his arms, waving at Gemma, asking her if she wants to join them. So Liam is not entirely without blame.

That sends her right back to her room where she has to lock herself in the bathroom and runs a shower, because Harry’s been sleeping over in her hotel room and the last thing she needs is Harry catching her and realising she’s got a bit of crush.

Fuck, she’s never called it a crush before.

But that’s what it fucking is now, because it’s one thing to fantasise about Liam’s body, and have it be no big deal, she’s got a healthy sex drive after all, and he is really very fit. It's quite another when she looks forward to their ridiculous band breakfasts in which Harry and Liam bicker over waffles and Liam hands her tea, and asks her what her plans are for the day.

She’d forgotten how sweet he can be.

It, shamefully, makes her avoid him a little. Not purposely, but she tends to hang out with Harry more when he’s with Niall. Which is no big deal, really, Liam is busy taking his mum and dad all over the place. But maybe when Liam seems so excited about her side trip to Yosemite, and tells her about taking his mum and dad out for a fancy dinner, she’s a bit cooler with him than normal. He doesn’t seem to notice, thank god.

It doesn’t stop her from imagining taking him camping, putting a tent up, as she knows he can do, and fucking her in it.

But she perseveres, Gemma does. She’s not going to snog Liam Payne, except in the sweet comfort of her head, she tells herself as she heads back to the tour.

Of course, that’s when things go to shit.

*

Right, so, she obviously goes to most of the concerts. She really does adores seeing Harry up there, looking like a proper popstar, absolutely loving what he does.

She’s proud of him, of all of them. One night he and Liam wave to her and Liam’s wearing one of his utterly ridiculous vest tops - did he just cut up a t-shirt, because honestly - and his arms are shining with sweat and he’s got one of his ridiculous hats on. She laughs, waves back at both of them, sticks out her tongue, and her eyes catch the vid screen where Liam’s face is smiling happily, his eyes doing that annoyingly adorable squinty thing and she feels her belly swoop.

She barely notices Eleanor eyeing her, looking between Gemma and the stage, and she hopes Eleanor thinks she’s only happy for Harry or something. The absolute last thing she needs is Louis Tomlinson knowing she’s got a crush, and on Liam of all people. Gemma would rather die. A few songs later, just after Liam’s bit in Teenage Dirtbag, Karen leans into her and tells her how proud she is of Liam. Gemma smiles back, nodding, and takes Karen’s hand in her for second, really trying not to think she was wondering how his lips would feel against her.

Thank god it’s her last night on the tour.

Unfortunately that means Harry wants to take her out, which she lets him do. Niall and Liam come along. Zayn decides to stay behind and Louis begs off with Eleanor. He gives them all the finger when they make porn music noises as he and Eleanor walk off into the hotel’s lift, Eleanor’s laughing drifting back to them.

It’s fun going out with the crew, Lou and Tom come, and they’re not papped, for once. It’s a perfect last night, really. She’s having fun and dances with everyone, even Harry, who she likes to think she’s better than, but honestly she’s probably not that much better.

Then at one point, she’s not sure when, she can drink legally after all (haha, Harry!) and gets a little bit tipsy, Liam and Lou pull her out to the dance floor. And now, none of the boys are particularly amazing dancers, but Liam is unquestionably the best of the lot. He knows how to move. He does his fun little moves on stage, which she’s grown to find incredibly endearing the more she sees them. Especially when he messes around and practises them in the halls of their hotel floor or at practice. But on a dance floor, in a club, it’s all very different. He’s been dancing all night and she can’t help notice he moves very well.

He’s fun and silly and does all these ridiculous hip shakes with Harry or Niall, but once or twice a girl has come up to him and he completely changes, his moves get smoother, with more purpose.

He dances like he wants to fuck you, and Gemma is really trying very hard not to think that considering he’s right there, spinning and pulling Lou close before turning to Gemma, a wide, also tipsy (Tom’s been buying drinks for the boys just in case) grin in place.

He holds out his hand.

Gemma rolls her eyes, but takes it and lets Liam pulls her close.

He doesn’t dance with her like he did with the other girls, he keeps his moves looser, like he’s not trying to do anything at all but dance and have fun with a friend. Gemma is conflicted. On the one hand she appreciates it; she likes that Liam respects her and thanks to Harry’s big mouth knows he’s also a bit intimidated by her, but on the other hand, she wants him to pull her closer and dance like he wants to fuck her. She wants him to want to fuck her.

It’s only fair.

She wants to fuck him.

They dance for a few songs together and lose Lou in the mix as they drift with the push of the crowd making their way into some far corner of the dance floor where bodies press them closer together and there’s suddenly an elbow at her back, shoving her into Liam. She wobbles in her heels for second, thrown off balance and out of sync with the song, and she can feel a chill at the small of her back where her top has pulled up a bit. Then Liam’s hand is there, just where she’s felt the air on her now bare skin and her eyes snap up.

Beside their cheeks, when exchanging kisses hello or goodbye, and maybe their arms or hands all friendly like, she and Liam have never really touched. She’d never really thought about it until this moment. All the boys are so touchy together, it’s almost funny how that reverts almost completely with other people. Harry, an exception. At least with her.

Now Liam’s hand feels like a furnace at the small of her back and it catches her off guard. Liam has caught her completely off guard and she can’t school her face quickly enough when she looks up. His question of if she’s okay dies on his lips and she curses the fact she’s a worse liar than Harry.

‘Gem--’

She blinks and licks her lips. Notes how his eyes flick down to her mouth. ‘Shit, Liam.’

Her voice is low, and he probably can’t hear her all that well, but they’re so close that he probably can smell the mojitos she’s been drinking all night, can read her lips and guess anyway.

His hand curls into a fist on her back, she feels his knuckles against her skin, fisting into her top and it pulls her closer.

‘Fuck,’ she can feel the shape of the word on his mouth as he breathes it out because she’s already pressing herself up into him. Fuck, indeed. Fuck it, actually.

She moves her hands up and curls then into the collar of his shirt as they exchange a dirty, sweet kiss. The dance floor around them shoves them around and Gemma rolls her hips against his, a slow grind. Liam’s hands on her back fists tighter, the back of her top probably getting very wrinkled, and his other hand cups her jaw. She groans into his mouth when he shoves a thigh between hers and hates herself for wearing jeans instead of a skirt. She scratches at his neck at little and bites at his lips.

Part of knows she’s being reckless and bloody stupid, they’re in a bar-club and not a very big one at that. Her brother is probably less than thirty feet away and Lou maybe even closer. Not to mention this is Liam the sweet, cute quiet boy who would blush when Gemma would call them up for breakfast at the bungalow. Of course that’s not quite this Liam, with his arms and shoulders and even more inches on her, who is kissing her like she’s wondered about for months and is even better in reality. This Liam who is even more confident and self possessed than before, even if he’s a bit wilder at the edges, but it’s still Liam.

And she’s practically riding his thigh in public.

She pulls back with a gasp, half surprised they didn’t get caught, half wanting to drag him into a dark corner and get off. But they can’t. They really can’t and as she look back up at Liam, she know he’s realising the same thing.

‘Shit, Gemma, I’m sorry--’

She can see the words better than she can hear them, but she doesn’t want him to apologise to her. Especially when she feels she should be apologising to him, save she’s not sorry at all.

She shakes her head and takes a step back, her hands pushing away from his chest, when all she really wants to do is curl her hands in and mark him.

‘Don’t!’ she half yells over the music, ‘It’s fine, Liam! Don’t worry! It’s nothing!’

Liar, liar, pants on fire! she hears in her head to Harry’s annoying voice.

He looks like he’s going to say something else or maybe even do something else the way his body aborts some move but Gemma doesn’t-- can’t hear whatever Liam has to say right now. She’s fucked up so massively she almost can’t believe it. She shakes her head again and turns away from Liam.

She doesn’t know if she hopes that nobody saw them or that they’ve thoroughly embarrassed themselves in front of a lot of their friends and her brother.

Her answer comes soon enough when she heads back to the table Harry got for the night and he's there, looking up and smiling at her, wide and happy.

‘Having fun!’ he asks, pulling her close.

Gemma nods, grabs his drink and downs it. Harry laughs and pokes at her. She slaps his hands away and doesn’t meet Liam’s eyes when he comes back to the table.

She shoves Harry at Niall when they head back to the hotel and locks herself in the room, still feeling the burn of Liam’s stubble on her lips and his thigh pressed up against her. She gets herself off fast and dirty and doesn’t at all consider sneaking down to Liam’s room and having him do it all over again.

The next day she drinks three glasses of champagne on the flight back to London. Her jet lag lasts weeks. At least that what she calls it. She refuses to attribute her sleepless nights and the knot in her stomach to Liam’s face when she walked away from him with barely a hug as she left the hotel or the text messages he’s sent her since asking if she’s was okay, did she tell Harry, are they okay.

Gemma is not proud that she ignores the messages for a whole two days, but they just make her feel worse. None of the boys really text her unless it’s her birthday or some sort of Harry emergency or shenanigan. Liam reaching out is a big deal, she’s well aware.

On the third day she texts back.

I’m fine, Liam. I didn’t tell Harry. We’re brilliant. I’m sorry about the whole thing.

She’d originally wrote We’re brilliant, love. xx like she’s always signed off in birthday messages and made herself deleted it. It turned her stomach in knots.

Liam answered back, of course he did, he really is a sweetheart.

Alright gem. if your sure. Um…. Talk to you laterrrr??

then

you’re*

Call me if you want.

She’s not sure, is the thing. And she hates how crap his spelling is but for some reason it’s the first thing to make her smile since she’s been home. At least he corrected himself.

*

Then the film premiere happens and she definitely knows now.

She’s definitely not okay at all.

She fancies the idiot.

A few days ago, because she came down with her mum and Robin, Harry texted her a picture from when he went out with Liam for a sort of pre birthday thing at Funky Buddha. He hates the club, he’s told her enough times how he and the boys make fun of Liam for liking it so much, but Liam is friends with one of it’s DJs or summat, and she thinks Harry is counting this outing as a birthday present. (He’s twenty now, her mind betrays her. And it’s not like she doesn’t know, she’s been silently worrying about how to word her birthday text to him for a week now.)

It’s also entirely possible he didn’t even know they were ending up there until they were inside. But he sends a picture and he’s pulling a funny face for the camera and she catches Liam in the background. He’s facing away from Harry and Gemma stares at his exposed neck and jaw for several minutes before she deletes the picture on the phone. She made up her mind in that second that when she came down for the premiere she’d talk to him.

But, well, it seems he’s brought a date.

Harry tells her the girl is a friend from home and very nice and something else but Gemma stops listening because well, that’s fine, isn’t it? Just fine. When she tunes back into whatever Harry’s saying he’s talking about some piece of art at Juliette’s art gallery.

She might sort of ignore Liam the entire night. Again, not entirely purposely, but she definitely doesn’t say more than ten words to him and ignores the way his stubble feels against her cheek when they exchange hellos. He keeps trying to catch her eye, looking slightly uncomfortable, standing awkwardly next to his date when he sees her, but fuck him, he’s the one with the date. She makes a point not to ask Nicola or Ruth anything as they take increasingly drunk pictures in the photobooth. And she’s rather glad Nicola and Ruth came, because it’s moments like this Gemma really understands how huge her brother’s life has become and how many people in it she doesn’t know. Ruth is a social butterfly and Nicola is so cheerful and charming and blends into the party easily, but Gemma has always felt a bit put off by these kinds of situations. She thinks she handles them well enough for the most part, she can make excellent small talk for being in a room of people of whom three fourths she doesn’t give two shits about, but tonight she’s trying very hard not to think about where Liam is in the room and it makes her back feel all knotted up.

She leaves earlier than most others, saying all her goodbyes, and gets the house keys from Harry.

Nothing gets better the next day when Harry laughs as he tells her the papers are comparing Liam to David Beckham, because fuck you, Harry. Her brother knows Beckham was her footballer crush for a while.

When she has her first sex dream of Liam in a full football kit she’s not even surprised.

She stays in London with Harry after mum and Robin go back home. He asked, pouting in her lap that he likes when she’s around and that he’s got Nick to get her a ticket for Fashion Week. Well she can’t argue with that, can she?

They don’t really see any of the boys. At least, she doesn’t. When she hears about the fire she’s already back home in Holmes Chapel, but calls Harry to make sure everyone is okay, then calls Nic and Ruth, because Harry would try not to worry her. She sends her love through all three of them, and then leaves a voicemail on Liam’s phone. (She would have talked to him. He just didn’t answer. He calls back, she lets it goes to voicemail. It’s not her proudest moment. But he sounds fine, if exhausted and she sends him a text back.)

Before they leave again, Harry makes her promise she’ll come to Australia. Like an idiot, she says yes. But she’s always been horrible at saying no to Harry. Most people are.

*

She really tries not to think about Liam after. He might or might not be dating someone and well, really it would just be a huge, massive, incredibly horrible life choice.

Except now she knows exactly how his lips feel like against hers and how warm his hands are. And she still thinks about getting her hands on him too often.

Gemma sighs as she packs. She can do this, be an adult. Really she can. She has twenty plus hours to finally stop fancying Liam.

*

Australia is hot and dry and she’s changing into her shorts and an overwashed shirt about two seconds after she gets into the hotel room. Harry is already lying on the bed on his back making fun of her pale skin as she pulls on her shirt over her bikini top.

‘Well, I’m sorry we can’t all frolick on golf courses and by the pool all day long, you lazy arse,’ she says, throwing the jumper she wore the whole flight at his face. Harry bats it away ineffectively and it flops on his face.

Gemma laughs.

He sticks out his tongue at her like the adult he is not. 'You want to go to the pool?’ he asks, sitting up, folding the jumper and dropping it neatly on the bed. She grins and reaches over to ruffle his hair.

‘Food, please. I’m starving and could do with a burger and some chips. Also, wash your hair, it’s disgusting.’ She makes a show of wiping her hands on her shorts. Harry rolls his eyes and shake his hair out.

‘Brilliant! The hotel burgers are well good, not the best but definitely top ten. Excellent cheese to meat ratio,’ Harry stands and wraps an arm around her shoulders, ‘I’m so happy you came.’

‘Of course I did.’ She rolls her eyes. ‘Wait, you have a hotel burger rating?’ His life is so weird now.

They’ve always been told they have the same laugh. It automatically makes her smile.

‘Yeah, me and Payno started it on New York last year. The hotel we stayed at had some ace burgers,’ he says, leading her out of her room (where he’ll be sleeping over tonight. He doesn’t even have to tell her, she already knows. Her brother is extremely predictable.) and towards the lifts. ‘That reminds me, fancy going out to pub with me and a bunch of the crew tonight?’

Gemma nods, ‘Sounds good, Hairy. Need me to buy your drinks again?’

‘Ugh, I hate you.’ He pokes her side. She pinches his. By the time the lift dings open they are most definitely not in the middle of a slap fight. Of course not.

*

So apparently ‘me and a bunch of the crew’ meant the usual suspects plus Niall and Liam. And that’s fine really. There’s an undercurrent of tension she feels between her and Liam the whole night but apparently it’s only noticeable to her. And Liam if the way he aborts certain movements that would have had him touching Gemma, even in the most casual of ways, means anything.

She sort of misses how he would always hand her her drink first like he did in America, or how he was always happy to sit next to her and share nacho platters. Tonight he sits across from Harry and hands Lou her drinks first. Gemma is fine with that. It’s not like she’s teasing him like she normally done in the past. Or leaning into his side when he’s wrapped a casual arm around her shoulder, because he’s not doing that either.

And even when Niall makes them take a picture of the fake tattoos they all put on they make sure not to touch each other.

It’s ridiculous.

She’s annoyed at herself over it.

She’s meant to be an adult.

Finally she excuses herself to get a drink and really, she should have known. Maybe she did because just as she finishes ordering, she feels Liam slide up next to her.

‘Gemma.’

‘Liam, not now,’ she says, sharply. She knows it’s probably a bit cold and she does feel bad, but this is not the place to talk about. Ideally, she’d be starting the conversation. That’s how it’s always gone when she’s imagined it.

He looks like he’s about to back down and just let take her drink back in peace, but something passes on his face and he looks strangely determined.

‘I know, I’m sorry, this is a bit shit of me, but I just wanted to apologise about what happen--’

‘Liam, don’t,’ she cuts him off. He looks a bit wounded. Gemma steels herself. ‘It wasn’t your fault and well,’ she looks behind her where Harry is chatting with Lou and Tom a the table they’ve taken over and lowers her voice, ‘look, I kissed you first, didn’t I? We were both a bit drunk and dancing, and you’re fit and if you ever tell Harry I said that I will kill you. And it happens. Drunk kisses between friends. It’s fine. Stop worrying about it, love.’ She pats his arm, tries to do it like she does to Harry when he needs a little reassuring, but Liam’s skin is so warm and tan and her hand lingers on the edge of his elbow.

He looks less wounded and more confused and his eyes flick down to her hand when she pulls it away and then back up to her face. ‘Gemma--’ Why does his voice go all low and gravelly when he’s being extra earnest? Why does he have to say her name like that?

It’s fine. No harm done,’ she repeats. Her smile feels tight around the edges.

And something in her face must tell him something because his entire expression changes from worry and confused to… She still remembers how he looked at her in the club when she pulled away from the kiss before she walked away. Her belly tightens. It’s the same look now.

He looked bowled over and like he wanted to press her up against the nearest wall.

Shit.

‘Liam...’

He steps closer to her, head bowing. She sucks in a breath.

‘I haven’t stopped thinking about it since, you know? I think that’s what I was the most sorry for, to be honest. I wanted to kiss you again but you walked away and I thought you hated it, me, and I felt horrible, because you’re Harry’s sister but you’re like… You’re important, too. You’re Gemma. And I was so afraid I fucked that up, because you’re so great, Gem. The best, really. And I’d never want you to be cross with me.’

‘I wasn’t,’ she sighs, because she wasn’t. Not really. Not about the kissing. ‘I still shouldn’t have kissed you.’

Liam shakes his head and his hand reaches out to touch the end of her hair. Harry has done this, Lou has done this. Hell even Niall and Nick have done this, but something about how Liam is doing it and looking at her feels so intensely intimate even in a semi crowded Australian pub.

‘I liked it. I like you. I used to have the worst crush on you,’ he says and she gasps, meeting his gaze.

‘What?’ Her voice does not squeak. She is not a romance novel heroine, even if she had borrowed some ideas for her Liam fantasies. Which, she definitely is not thinking about now.

He nods, ‘XFactor and for about a year after. I thought you were the prettiest girl, but you were Harry’s sister, and so much cooler than me. I fancied you so much, I think I still do. I thought I stopped, but I think I just stopped thinking about it.’

‘Am,’ she corrects. ‘Am still. Harry’s sister...’ Gemma is trying to wrap her head around this. That Liam had wanted to kiss again isn’t that big of a surprise. She’s fairly sure if she had made a different choice he would have followed her into a dark corner and got off with her. But that he might fancy her… That? Is not something Gemma had even considered. Which, she shouldn’t even be considering, she reminds herself. ‘Anyway, that beside the point. Aren’t you dating someone?’

Gemma needs to get away from this situation and think it over because there’s no way Liam is telling her what she thinks he is.

His face does that annoyingly adorable furrow thing. ‘What?’

She sets her jaw, ‘Film premiere?’

Liam’s face furrows even more - why is it so cute? There should a be a law - and then clears. ‘Oh, um, that.’

‘Yeah, that.’ She cocks an eyebrow.

His lowers his eyes, cheeks flushing. Gemma likes feeling she’s got the upper hand back. ‘Yeah, that sort of… Like, she’s a good friend. It wasn’t… I told the press it wasn’t...I mean, it was more casual than it looked?’

‘Is that your way of saying “fuck buddies?”’

‘Jesus, Gemma.’ He goes completely red. Gemma is delighted. She grins. He’s adorable. Liam presses his lips together, the furrow still there, but when he sees her smile he growls a little and wrinkles his nose at her.

‘God, you’re horrible. Even worse than Harry.’

Gemma laughs.

‘You know I felt horrible that night. I wanted to explain because I-- I mean, I would have asked you, you know? To the premiere. I mean-- like a date...’

And once more Liam catches her off guard.

Tilting her face, she looks away from him and fingers the edge of her glass. A drop catches her on her finger tip. ‘That would have been a horrible idea.’

Liam huffs a small laugh. It sounds a little bit sad, and worse, all too aware. ‘Yeah, I know, it’s why I asked someone else.’

She looks at him and it’s like back in the club when they both remembered who he is. Who she is. Who they are.

‘It’s a really horrible idea,’ she repeats, low and leans into his space a little.

He sighs. His hand, the one blocked by Gemma’s body, reaches up and touches her her hair again. She clenches her glass in her hand. The coolness of it annoyingly grounding.

‘Yeah, I suppose it would be.’ Liam looks at her and she nods tightly.

God, she wants to kiss him so bad.

She reaches out and curls her hand around his forearm, the one with the script. His watch digs into her skin a bit. It’s reckless and a really, really horrible idea but she just wants this. She rises on her toes and kisses his cheek, just like she always does, except this is much closer to the corner of his mouth than before. His whiskers tickle her lips and she can feel his breath catch.

‘Thanks for the drink, Liam,’ she drops back and steps away, grabbing her drink with her. ‘And the dance.’

The night winds down quickly after that. It’s not even that awkward when he puts a steady hand at her waist as they leave or when Harry falls asleep between them in the car and they share smiles over his head.

It would have been a truly horrible idea.

Maybe the best horrible idea ever, Gemma think as she slips into her bed that night.

*

They corner each other in the hall the next day.

It’s an accident.

The floor the tour has rented for them all is surprisingly quiet - half the crew probably already at the venue, prepping, the other half in their rooms, the boys all in their rooms or so she thought. Liam’s walking down the hall in a vest top and jogging bottoms just as she’s leaving her room planning to go down to the pool and spending her morning there doing absolutely nothing.

They stop short when the see each other. Some crew member walks by, smiling at both of them. Liam says hi to the man by name. Gemma bites her lips.

‘Morning,’ she extends, because she’s an adult. She can be polite.

Liam smiles at her, his feet sort of shuffle a little. ‘Hi.’ He looks her over, she tries not shiver when his eyes linger on her bare legs. ‘Are you going to the pool?’

Gemma nods, ‘Yeah, where you heading?’

‘Gym. Thought I’d get a run in.’

‘Aren’t you and Louis meant to go surfing?’ She remembers him and Louis being very excited about it. With Louis being ill they’ve kept pushing it back.

‘Not today,’ Liam says. He shuffles his feet again. They’ve stepped closer to each other and Gemma catches a whiff of mint and that deodorant he wears. ‘Hey, can we talk? Properly?’

She blinks. It’s probably a bad idea.

What’s one more?

‘Yeah, okay, I suppose we should,’ she smiles at him, ‘Properly.’ He smiles back and follows her into her room.

*

The door closes behind them and Gemma is so grateful she shoved Harry into his own room last night because she definitely doesn’t want Harry to be privy to this conversation.

She drops her bag into a chair and turns to face Liam.

‘Look, Gemma,’ he saying, his fingers playing with the hem of his shirt accidentally letting a bit of skin show, and yes, this was all a very bad idea.
Fuck it.

He looks a bit shocked as she crosses over to him and brings his face down to hers. Whatever he was about to say catches on her mouth as she nips at his lip and suddenly she’s off the floor, Liam’s arms tight around her waist, lifting her up. So much for conversation.

God, this is honestly the worst idea ever.

She still hooks her legs around his waist and takes a second to marvel at how he holds her up.

‘You’re so disgustingly fit.’

Liam laughs, the sound mostly muffled by their mouths, ‘Thanks, I think. I thought you didn’t want to, um...’ He sucks at her bottom lip, slow and dirty. ‘Risky, this...’

‘Changed my mind,’ Gemma groans, digging her fingers into his hair, tilting his face to deepen the kiss. ‘Disgustingly fit and your mouth is obscene.’

His hands drift from her waist to her arse and squeezes, making her hips hitch up, and she can feel him getting hard. ‘God, I want to fuck you, Gem. I want to eat you out and fuck you.’ He’s mouthing at her neck now and she’s never really been one for dirty talk, but fuck if it isn’t turning her on. Just the idea of his lips against her is almost too much. She nods into the kiss, can’t even bother with words and direct him towards the bed.

He breaks away from her and starts moving and Gemma could almost cry out because finally. God, finally.

‘I wanted to fuck that night in the club,’ she admits Liam lowers her down on the bed, and they both work at getting her shorts off. ‘I wanted to pull you into the bathroom and fuck in the cubicle.’

‘Yeah?’ Liam’s eyes are dark and his hands hot on her thighs as he pushes the shorts down and tosses them behind him. Her bikini is blue and yellow and it has little ties on each hip. Liam traces the edges of the material with his fingers and then lowers his head to lick her inner thigh as he tugs on both ties at once and the bottom comes apart.

Gemma shifts her hips up, ‘Yeah.’ She tugs her shirt off and undoes her bikini top. Liam stares; he sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and Gemma just wants it against her cunt.

'Me, too.'

‘You gonna fuck me now?’ She grins, tugging at his shirt and it speeds him up into action. He pulls it off and then his hands are tugging her loose bikini bottom away, his index finger tease the edge of her neatly waxed curls.

‘Soon enough,’ he says, a ridiculously wide and cheeky grins in place as he leans forward and pecks her lips before bending down and--

‘Oh FUCK. Jesus christ, Liam.’ Her hands scramble on his freckled shoulders. He hitches one thigh over his elbow and she can feels his fingers squeeze at her arse again before they move to where his mouth is.

His mouth is hotter than his hand on her clit and his fingers are slowly stroking her, teasing, as he works her open, slow and wet. His mouth really is obscene. She thinks she fucking loves it. She’s probably not going to last long, but she doesn’t even care. He licks her like he’s savouring her, flicking his tongue against her clit, as he works one finger inside.

He’s fantastic at this. She’s hoped he’d be.

‘God, Gem, you’re so wet, so tight.’

She nods, fingers twisting in his hair. It’s been a while. No need for him to know that though so she says, ‘I have been getting off to you for like three months now.’ His mouth falters on her, and she lifts her head from the bed to see him look up at her. He’s grinding against the bed, and she loves it, loves she can make him lose focus. ‘There’s so many pictures of you on the internet, you know. I came the first time with my fingers thinking about fucking myself on you while wearing that Batman vest top.’

Licking her lips, she drags a finger down his cheek. ‘It makes for handy visuals.’

Liam growls at her, the vibration of it making her thighs shake, and she almost laughs except a second later he’s pulled both her legs over his elbows, stretching her open, and he tonguing deep in her. She can hear how wet she is as he licks into her. Fucking her with his tongue and fingers and Gemma can’t help but thrust up into his mouth as he adds two fingers, crooks them deep in her, and presses his teeth against her clit.

She’s loud when she comes, she’s been told this before, and as careful as they should be she doesn’t even care, clenching around Liam’s tongue and fingers. He works her through it, slower, the filthy sounds from before lessening and then he leans back, working her legs from his shoulder. Gemma pants as he bends over her. His mouth red and slick. She reaches up and traces his mouth. He sucks her finger in, wrapping his tongue around it, lips smiling, and reaches down again to pinch at her clit at the same time.

Her second orgasm catches off guard, hips arching up, her back following the wave of it. Her other hand curls into his bicep, nails digging in. She can feel Liam’s hand soft and soothing against her. His lips still sucking hard on her finger.

Fucking Liam Payne.

It takes her longer than she’d like to admit to catch her breath again.

When she does she smiles up at him, pulling her wet finger out of his mouth.

‘So, you gonna fuck me now?’

Liam chuckles, leaning down to catch her mouth in a dirty kiss and then levers himself up and she watches as he rifles through one the bags Harry left in her room, curious, until he pulls out a condom from it.

Gemma can’t help but laugh. ‘I don’t even want to know how you knew that was there.’

Liam crawls back onto the bed, ‘Wasn't sure, to be honest, but I really didn’t want to go back to my room. Got lucky.’

He brackets her hips and she shifts up on the bed. He watches her. Lets her position him against the headboard and she takes the condom from him.

‘My turn.’

Liam’s eyes go wide and darken, but he only swallows and nods and she rolls the condom and crawls on his lap.

‘This was Liam Fantasy Number 18, you know? Riding you after you spend all morning eating me out?’ She lowers herself slowly on him, loves watching as his hands flutter at her side and grips the sheet instead until she’s fully seated on him. She pulls his hands from the bed and has him cup her breasts.

‘You’re gonna kill me, Gem.’

She rolls her hips, guides his hands to her nipples, and leans forward. ‘Not yet, love.’

She grinds down hard and he thrusts up into her like he can’t help it. His hands run across her body and he lowers his head to suck at her breasts, leaving lovebites her bra will barely cover up. She moves faster, wants him to be as overwhelmed as she was. His hands grips her waist and tug her down hard at every stroke.

His skin is slick with sweat and her hands are scrambling at his shoulders and back. She leans forward to catch his mouth in a messy kiss, all tongue and teeth and that’s when she feels it. His hips shift and the angle changes to something harder, more desperate and suddenly her back is on the bed as Liam fucks into her. Her nails drag down his shoulders and then his hips are stuttering and she clenches around him, feeling as he comes.

His body is heavy and warm over hers and she lets him rest for a few minutes, stroking his head, before rolling him over because he’s not light. Her body feels so overused and yet loose. Like she’s had a really good massage. She smiles and leans over to kiss Liam’s cheek. He blinks at her, and pulls her mouth to his for a slow kiss.

When he pulls away, Liam grunts, pulls off the condom and chucks it into the bin - good, she would have made him pick it up from the floor if he had dropped it there - and drops back on the bed. Gemma stretches and drapes one legs over his waist.

He watches her carefully, like he’s afraid she’ll walk away, she thinks, and she can’t blame him. She’s done that enough. She probably still should.

Things haven’t become less complicated for them.

Harry is sleeping down the hall, for once.

Gemma is choosing not to care about any of that right now.

‘You know, I never thought this would happen.’

Liam turns his head to her and slides his arm under her head. She lets him, she can feel his fingers play with her hair.

‘Me neither,’ she agrees, because she really didn’t.

‘I really like you, Gemma.’

She leans up and kisses him. ‘Good, I like you, too.’

‘What are we gonna do about this?’

Gemma sighs, ‘I dunno, but right now I just want a nap and then breakfast. We’ll talk properly then.’

Liam laughs, but he lets her cuddle up against him. ‘Yeah, properly. All right.’

*

‘Gem? ‘ve you seen Liam?’ Harry’s voice rings out as he walks into the room.

In the shower, Gemma and Liam stumble against each other. Their lips separate and they blink at each other in silent shock.