Even though Harry’s waiting for him, when Nick taps on the passenger window it still makes him startle. He turns down the music when he means to just open the window, then gives up on all the buttons to lean across and open the door.
“Hey, darling, you looking for a good time?”
Harry laughs, and covers his mouth with his hand. “Nick!”
Nick makes a face at him, one that Harry can’t interpret. He starts to frown, the pull at the top of his nose reminding him – right, sunglasses. He pulls them off as Nick slams the door. When Nick looks at him, Harry still can’t tell what he’s thinking.
“Hey, what’s happening?” he asks, just resisting the urge to fiddle with the stereo knob again.
“It’s good to see you too, popstar,” Nick says, and Harry chucks his sunglasses onto the dash so he can reach across and pull Nick into a console-awkward hug. Nick smells exactly the same as always, though Harry wouldn’t have been able to say whether he knew that until just now. He closes his eyes and breathes in deeply, even as the gearshift is poking him in the appendix.
“Is that a yes to the good time?” Nick mumbles into Harry’s shoulder, and the tightness in his throat pops, and he’s laughing.
“It’s always a good time with you,” Harry says, pulling back so he can look at Nick without a screen, without pixellation. “I missed you.”
“I was starting to get that vibe, yeah,” Nick says, looking away, his fingers twisting up in his hair. He yanks at the seatbelt, pulling it across his body. Harry just watches him, letting the rush of affection wash up over him, and ebb. When Nick looks up, he catches Harry watching; his hand catches up in his hair again, and he looks at his lap. He’s smiling though.
“So, we have an hour before we have to be at the restaurant,” Harry says, checking carefully in the mirror before indicating and pulling out into the road. “Did you have somewhere you wanted to go?”
“We don’t have to go far,” Nick says immediately. “Anywhere with coffee will do. Did I tell you I broke my cafetiere? The most tragic thing—”
You did, Harry thinks, and lets him keep talking.
There’s a pub just before they cross the canal, with a sandwich board outside advertising BREAKFAST in big white chalk letters. They’re still near enough Dalston that it’s as quiet inside as Harry expected: a couple with a pram in one corner, and a bored woman behind the bar who’s literally painting her nails.
“I’ll order,” Nick says. “You grab us a table. Coffee, yeah?”
“Yeah, a cappuccino, let me give you some money—” He’s already got a twenty pound note in his hand; Nick folds his fingers around Harry’s and shakes his head.
“I’ve got it.”
Well, then I’ll just buy lunch, Harry thinks, watching Nick twitch up to the bar, fiddling with his hair again while his other hand wiggles deeper into his jeans pocket. Harry’s gaze slips from Nick to the bartender, and she’s looking at him – not like oh hey it’s Harry Styles but more like I see how you’re watching – so Harry looks away, and finds a table out of line of sight of the bar.
“She’ll bring them over,” Nick says when he comes over. “When she’s done with her nails, or whatever.”
“We’ve got time.” Their feet bump together under the little table. Harry doesn’t move, and neither does Nick. “So.”
“So,” Nick echoes, fidgeting now with the bits of string tied around his wrist.
“What’s your news,” Harry prompts, when Nick doesn’t go on. “You said you had news.”
“It doesn’t have to mean anything, alright,” Nick says, laughing once, unconvincing. “Nothing need change, I know that. We’re alright as we are. But—I’ll be there Monday afternoon. When you come to the station.”
He looks up like Harry should know what that means. “That’s—great?” Because of course it is; after so many months apart, being in the same place at the same time is still exciting and novel. But-
“I’ll be working,” Nick says, speaking even more quietly than before now. “They’ve asked—well, Matt Wilkinson got a concussion yesterday, and they need someone to take the show—” He stops, and takes a breath that comes out as a laugh. “Fuck, would you listen to me, I sound like you trying to tell a story.”
“You’re working Monday,” Harry repeats. “So, you’re doing the interview with us.”
“Yeah,” Nick sighs, slumping a little against the back of his chair. “Sorry, I’m rubbish. But maybe I’ll get to meet Harry Styles anyway.”
The bartender chooses this moment to walk towards them with bowls on saucers, and Harry holds up one finger, pause. It helps, because what does Nick mean—
“Oh,” Harry says, when they’re alone again, as he watches Nick tear open his sugar packets. “You mean, you can meet—"
“Harry Styles,” Nick tells his coffee. “You might know him, super-famous popstar, blah blah, good with the ladies, in a bit of a well known pop ensemble—"
“Oh.” Harry says, because oh. He and Nick might be friends, and maybe Harry loves him a little (lot), but this is different. They’ve never met like they will in two days’ time.
Nick looks up, half smiling as he destroys the foam on his coffee with his spoon. “Yeah. Like I said, it doesn’t have to mean—”
“This is fucking brilliant,” Harry interrupts. “Seriously. I’m—“ He tries to bite down on his lower lip, like that can keep his smile from blooming, but the delight’s too much. “I’m so fucking happy.” For you, he thinks. For me.
Nick laughs at his coffee. “Jesus.” The spoon clinks against his saucer.
“I can’t wait,” Harry says, as emphatically as he can. “I can’t wait to meet Nick Grimshaw.”
As far as the world’s concerned, Harry Styles and Nick Grimshaw haven’t met. Nick and Harry have met, sure, but that’s not the same at all.
Harry still remembers exactly what Nick first said to him, just head and shoulders as he peeked in around the door of a closet of a dressing room in Brighton. It wasn’t their dressing room, Harry and the lads, but one that had been cleared out for just Harry. For this moment. There were still bags in the corners, and a couple of jackets draped over the sofa, bottles of water open and half-empty on the coffee table.
“Hi,” Harry said. “Did—are you—”
“Laura sent me,” he’d interrupted. “I didn’t know who to expect.”
Harry was nervous, and so he’d laughed. “Right, yes. Um. Do you want to come in? I’m Harry.”
“And I’m Nick.”
He didn’t look at all like what Harry expected: both older – he was wearing a suit - and also somehow younger, a flash of tattoo at his wrist, bracelets jingling when they shook hands.
“So,” Harry said, just before the pause could get awkward. “I don’t really know how this goes.”
“However you want,” Nick replied, hands out wide, shoulders shrugging up. “That’s how this goes. I’m all yours.”
“How much of this is like Pretty Woman?” Harry asked, before he could help himself.
Nick laughed. “Not at all, I should think, though I can wear a frock if you fancy.”
One night, weeks later, when they knew each other better, Nick confessed he’d guessed it was going to be one of the five of them.
“It was all so cloak and dagger,” he said, gesturing with one hand, while the other held a slice of pizza aloft. “Young, they said, and needing absolute discretion. But then I had a train ticket to Brighton, and the address of the Brighton centre—I mean, who else could it be, once I read the marquee?”
“You knew it was going to be me?” Harry asked, squirming a little on the bed, so their naked knees could brush.
“Well, no,” Nick admitted. “I knew it’d be one of you. I was hoping it would be Zayn.”
They made a mess of the bed, after that – even worse than it might’ve been, with pizza smeared across the sheets from where Nick dropped it when Harry tackled him, laughing breathlessly all the while. Harry had to leave a big tip for the cleaning staff.
“You’re not sorry it was me,” Harry asked, as Nick finished tying his shoe. His bag was already by the door, and sunglasses hanging from the collar of his shirt. Harry stayed perched on the end of the other bed, sitting on his hands. Paul was going to come knocking any minute. “Not Zayn.”
“Nah,” Nick said, standing up and fiddling with his hair. It flopped back down over his forehead a couple of seconds later.
“You’re alright, popstar,” Nick said, leaning over to kiss the top of Harry’s head. “And I don’t mind telling you that for free.”
Lunch is intimate and quiet; it’s Rita’s birthday, and Cara’s there too, and Poppy and Pixie and George, people who Harry can trust with Nick. It doesn’t feel like the first time they’ve done this, even though it is. Once Nick confesses that he’d played ‘Party and Bullshit’ – against playlist protocol – until he’d been told off by the head of the station, he and Rita are fast friends. They talk about music almost non-stop, through the starters and the mains, while Harry chips in just now and again.
“Harry didn’t give me much notice,” Nick says, once their plates have been cleared away, pulling out a pale yellow envelope to hand to Rita . “Sorry.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Harry says, as Rita does the same.
“Bit crap,” Nick shrugs. “To come to a birthday lunch with nothing for the birthday girl.”
“But Rita is my friend.” Harry kicks Nick under the table; Cara laughs behind her hand.
“Any friend of yours, Harold,” Nick says, and picks up his wine glass. He nods when Rita says thank you, a little plastic gift card now on the tablecloth. “It’s not much, but you can blame this popstar for that.”
“Thank you,” Rita says again, tapping the iTunes card on the table, and then to Harry. “You can bring this one along anytime. He’s good value.”
“Yeah,” Harry says, as Nick makes protesting noises. Under the table, he presses his foot up against Nick’s. “He is, isn’t he?”
“You coming out with us again?” Cara asks. Harry’s momentarily distracted by her question, and the way she taps her fingers on Rita’s thigh.
“I’d like to,” Nick says. When Harry looks at him, he’s getting the raised eyebrow treatment. Harry licks his lips, scrunches up his napkin into his fist.
“Nick’s doing our interview for Heart.” Harry presses his foot a little harder against Nick’s. “We've got drinks planned tomorrow as well, all of us. You’ll come out with us afterwards, right?”
“Tomorrow?” Inquisitive eyebrows are now incredulous eyebrows.
Harry squeezes his napkin harder. “Unless you have—work.” It would be late for Nick, but sometimes it goes like that. Harry tries not to look preemptively disappointed; it’s hard.
“No, I—" He looks away from Harry, to Rita, to Cara and Pixie. “I’d love to.”
Then the cake appears, and Harry doesn’t have to pretend not to be upset. Everything’s brilliant.
“Was that alright?” Harry asks when they’re on their way back to the car. It doesn’t matter that he’s pretty sure he knows the answer; he still has to ask.
“What—lunch? Well, except for refusing to let me pay—" He stops as if to let Harry interrupt.
“It was nice, yeah,” Nick says. “Your mates are great. Rita’s a riot.”
Harry’s fingers tremble a little as he unlocks the car. It can’t be the coffee from several hours ago, and two glasses of champagne’s never made him feel like this before. “I’m glad you came. And I’m glad you’re coming out tomorrow, too.”
Nick waits until they’re both in the car to say anything else, fastening his seatbelt and sitting so still that Harry knows it’s only from the force of whatever he’s not saying. He’s definitely more patient than Nick is, so he just waits, keys in hand, watching.
“My being there tomorrow is definitely going to be changing things, isn’t it?” he says finally, immediately reaching out to curl his fingers around Harry’s wrist, squeezing. “No, don’t say anything.” He laughs. “I think you better take me home, I think that last glass of prosecco has gone to my head.”
“Alright,” Harry says, once Nick’s let go. He puts the key in the ignition. “Can I come in when we get there? I don’t have anywhere else to be today, and—yeah.”
Nick hesitates, but there’s no chance of Harry taking it back. He might take no for an answer, but Nick will have to say it.
“No one else is around this weekend. Yeah, alright. If you want to.”
Harry thinks, but doesn’t say: I always want to. Instead he starts the car, and lets Nick take over the stereo.
Sacking Nick took several weeks of screwing up his courage. Not just courage, but several weeks of debate with himself, and a few conversations with Louis about what would be best.
“I can’t just sack him. What if he—really needs the money?” Harry asked, pacing in the small space between the edge of the hotel bed and the bathtub of their room.
“Couldn’t you just put him in touch with—someone, I don’t know. Caroline? Doesn’t he want to be doing the deejay thing more anyway? Then you’re not sacking him.” Louis was sat crosslegged in the middle of the second bed, watching Harry pace back and forth.
Harry shook his head. “I’ve tried that, he won’t have it. Says he has to make it his own way.” There was more to it, Nick in Harry’s memory saying it would come out, how we know each other, you know it would. Too risky, pal. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright. “It’s just—it’s going to be months.”
“Two months. Still, you’ll have to say something before we go to America,” Louis agreed, a little unsympathetically.
Harry looked at him, aware of how the frown pulled at his face. “You’re not helping.”
Louis shrugged. It was new with Eleanor, then. Later, when they were on the road in Texas someplace, he’d end up moping all over Harry’s shoulder, while they watched The Notebook. “Well, what do you want, then?”
Harry flopped across the foot of the bed with a oofing sigh. “I just wish we could be mates,” he mumbled into the duvet. “We just get on.”
“You could tell him that,” Louis suggested, once he’d tugged his fingers through Harry’s hair a few times. Harry tried not to lean into the touch too much. “See what he says.”
“Why would he want to be mates with me?”
“Styles, you’re the most high maintenance mate, fucksake.”
Harry made a noise like Dusty the cat when the food wasn’t appearing in her bowl fast enough, half plaintive, half annoyed. “It’s easier for you.” Eleanor was always meant to be Louis’s girlfriend, if he wanted. After the fiasco with Caroline, Nick was just—well, sex.
“If he doesn’t want to be mates, he doesn’t deserve to be mates with you. End of,” Louis said, pulling hard enough to hurt, then petting too gently.
It was hard to argue with that, so Harry didn’t bother. Really, Louis was right; either Nick was going to say yes, or he would say no.
“I don’t have anything in,” Nick says, leading the way into the flat. “There might be milk for tea, if it hasn’t gone off.”
“I’ll go to the shop, don’t worry,” Harry says, watching Nick bend over to untie his shoelaces. It’s a good view. “I can get milk, and—biscuits? Anything else?”
“I can go,” Nick says, pausing in how he’s toeing off his shoes. “If you want tea.”
“No, don’t worry.” He’s already back at the door, hand on the lock. “Anything else?”
“Whatever you fancy I suppose. Don’t get rich tea, though.” He’s already holding his keys out to Harry,
“Rich tea are a great biscuit,” Harry complains, mostly to wind Nick up. They’ve had this argument before. Rich tea are Liam’s preferred biscuit; Harry already knows that he and Nick agree on the chocolate digestives.
“Get out of here, if you’re going,” Nick retorts, waving one hand as he takes his shoes off properly. “I’ll put the kettle on.”
The little shop at the bottom of the road is blessedly empty, and has milk and biscuits and Hula Hoops. It also has wine, and after a half-second’s deliberation, Harry also grabs a couple of bottles at random, hoping the price might have something to do with the quality. The man behind the counter doesn’t even seem to notice Harry’s face, just piles the bottles and packets into a carrier bag. Harry smiles and thanks him and ignores the wall of magazines next to the till, a good half-dozen of which seem to have his face on.
“Have a nice day,” he says, and tosses Nick’s keys in the air a few times, trying to whistle, the whole way back.
Predictably, Nick ignores the kettle once he sees the wine, and Harry abandons the carrier bag on the counter, following Nick into the sitting room with two glasses.
“This is nice,” he says with a sigh, Gordon Ramsay quietly shouting at someone on the telly.
Harry clinks their glasses together and settles back on the sofa so that his shoulder is pressed up against Nick’s. He sighs too, probably a beat too late, and nods. “Yeah. Lunch was nice, but—this is nice.”
Nick snorts, but doesn’t disagree, his socked toes curling against the edge of the coffee table. “So, I suppose you’d best catch me up. Is the Liam story about his pants as stupid as the gossip blogs made it sound? What did Louis and Zayn do in Tahiti? And, most importantly, did you shave before putting electrical tape on your nips?”
Harry nearly spills his wine laughing. Nick looks excessively pleased by this reaction, and that only makes Harry laugh even more.
“Well, there’s no hair now,” he says, timing it so that Nick’s mid sip, grinning when Nick nearly chokes.
It’s so great to be back, it really is.
He didn’t say no.
The whole conversation was awkward, of course. Harry didn’t want to give up this last time with Nick, so he waited until after, wrapped only in a sheet while Nick got dressed, until it was nearly too late. Harry started by explain-apologizing – about going off on tour – and then Nick had apologized too – for being ten minutes late, because of the traffic, as if that mattered – and it had all nearly gone completely sideways.
“I’ll go, don’t worry,” Nick said, one arm already in his jacket sleeve. “It’s absolutely fine.”
“No, but—I just—“
“You don’t have to apologize,” Nick said, only making it worse. “You have a job to do, and so do I. We can absolutely keep this—professional.”
Harry was dangerously close to throwing something. Maybe a lamp. Or a pillow. “I don’t want to keep this professional,” he said, simultaneously cringing at how petulant it sounded, and wanting to shout it.
That made Nick pause, at least. “Oh… kay? I’m not sure I know what you mean. You know you still have the non-disclosure agreements, yeah? You don’t have to worry.”
“I don’t care about that,” Harry said, knocking the decorative pillows off the bed with a sweep of his hand. They hit the wall opposite and bounced to the floor. Nick looked at them, and then at Harry. At least he wasn’t trying to leave anymore.
“What is it, then?” His tone was like Paul’s when several of them were in a strop, carefully patient but with an edge of frustration. It sounded like you pay me, so I will be reasonable, even if you won’t.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said again. “It’s all just—I didn’t mean that, is all. I know I can trust you.” He trusted Nick with stories about Gemma and his mum, with stupid twitter replies, and leather cuffs that needed to be tucked under the mattress.
Nick nodded slowly. “You can.”
“I just—I like you,” Harry said finally, when he couldn’t think of a better way of saying it. “Just because of—how we met— He stopped, and Nick nodded again, so Harry took a breath. “It sounds so dumb.”
“I like you too, Harold,” Nick said. “Almost as much as Beyonce, even.”
“Do you think—we could be friends?” Harry said as quickly as he could manage, before Nick could make it a joke. “Even if—even though—"
He stopped because Nick had this soft look on his face, like he got when he was talking about something his niece had texted him, or maybe when he was talking about his dog. “Yeah, of course. Of course we can.”
And so they were.
They stay on the couch through the bottle of wine and the giant packet of Hula Hoops, through a kitchen run for the other bottle, and several episodes of Kitchen Nightmares. The sofa sags in the middle, so it’s only natural that they fall towards each other, knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder, with their hands brushing in between now and again.
Harry’s sleepy in the tv-lit gloom, and also a little bit turned on, like he always is around Nick. Nick’s going on about something about Collette and Puppy, free hand gesturing, the smoke from his cigarette making soft S-shapes, while Harry murmurs something approving, or disbelieving, when he needs to.
“Which is why she’s not here,” he finishes, sitting up a little to stub out his cigarette in the ashtray, glancing at Harry over his shoulder. “Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Harry replies, with an effort. He’d asked about Puppy, but right now he’s more concerned with how dark Nick’s mouth is, from the wine. Under Harry’s hand, Nick’s fingers twitch once, and Harry squeezes them.
Nick’s staring at him now, everything quiet and still.
“We’re not that drunk,” Nick says finally, already swaying back towards Harry. His fingers twitch again, the littlest untucking so it can rest overtop of Harry’s fingernails.
“I missed you,” Harry says, like it’s an answer. It’s probably the fourth time he’s said it in the last two hours.
Nick rolls his eyes, but there are crinkles coming in at the corners, so Harry lets himself smile to the dimple and leans towards Nick. “Please,” he says. “Don’t say no,” he says, though he’s not sure he knows what will happen next.
“The pretty ones are the worst,” Nick says with a little headshake, but now he’s close enough their noses are brushing one against the other, and Harry shivers all the way down to his knees.
It’s just as good as he remembers, kissing Nick. They still know each other, even after all this time, and it’s only a few seconds before he’s left behind all the complications outside of the kiss. He can just be drunk in it, with it, with Nick.
Reality comes back abruptly, with a gasp, when Nick pulls him over. Only then does Harry notice that he’s been making a move while they’ve been kissing, and Nick pulling means that Harry’s now straddling his thighs, bum resting on Nick’s knees.
He remembers, then, that there are reasons they haven’t done this, even if they’re vague clouds of thoughts. He kisses Nick again because he can’t help himself, hands now holding on to Nick’s shoulders, and tries to make the thoughts turn into something like words.
“If you can’t—If you have to go, I understand, I'm just being—” He gets distracted again, trying to decide between 'selfish' and 'greedy' and Nick's hand, which has slid up the back of his shirt, holding him close. "You can go," he says again, when Nick pulls at the collar of Harry’s shirt with his other hand, so he can bite very gently at the tip of the right swallow's wing.
"I live here," Nick says, blinking at Harry. His lips are distractingly deep pink, and Harry has to take several seconds to understand what he’s actually saying.
"Oh, right," he says, feeling his cheeks get even hotter. "Sorry. I meant, I can go. If you need to go. Need me to go."
Nick looks at him for ages and ages, quiet like he almost never is. If Harry were more sober, he might try saying something else, or just get up off him, maybe sort himself out in the loo. But the wine’s still a low hum in his veins, and he’s hard in his jeans and Nick's hand is still in the small of his back, keeping Harry right there, so he just stays still and waits.
He doesn’t realize he’s been chewing on his lower lip until Nick coaxes it out from between his teeth, kissing away the dents. Harry makes an embarrassingly excited noise in his throat, where it feels like an entire cloud of butterflies, or maybe bats, have got stuck coming up from his chest.
"The pretty ones are the worst," Nick says again, all mumble.
"Are we?" Harry asks, when he's trapped momentarily in his t-shirt, trying to get it over his head.
"Stop trying to get me to say you're special, Harold," Nick says when Harry can see him again, un-trapped.
"Am I?" Harry asks against Nick's mouth.
"Yeah," Nick says, pulling him in closer. He says it so that even though Harry means am I doing that, it still sounds like Nick is saying yeah, you’re special.
They haven’t shagged, not since Nick stopped being on Harry’s payroll. Not that Harry stopped wanting him, and he was almost sure that they’re on the same page. But it was easier for Harry to keep Nick in the friend-box this way.
They were on Skype so late one night that it was morning. Harry was just coming to the end of a rambling story, one that he even recognized was too long and convoluted, and feeling both better and worse for it. “So we all left the club together, and of course it was me and Louis and El sharing a taxi, and they were all over each other. Not that I don’t understand but--” He shrugged one shoulder, looked down at the keyboard.
“Popstar life is hard,” Nick said from grainy London. It didn’t sound half as dismissive as the words suggested.
“It doesn’t really matter, the lad in the club,” Harry repeated, still back in the taxi. “He wasn’t that fit, or anything. But—"
Nick made some noises about Harry being too important for randoms in the club, especially ones who ‘weren’t that fit’ and it made Harry feel a little better, even though it wasn’t anything he hadn’t thought of himself, as consolation.
“And if you really need a shag, well—" Nick finished, extra flippant now as he leaned back from his laptop and gestured down the middle of himself, from forehead to navel. “There’s always this.”
Harry laughed because he couldn’t help it, and also because that was what Nick wanted him to do.
“Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind.” Harry was about five thousand miles away from Nick; the impossibility made his throat a little tight. “But I’d rather be mates, anyway.”
Nick was quiet at the other end, chin down, probably petting Puppy who was just out of view. “You know, mates rates is free, right? It wouldn’t have to be—anything else. Whatever you’re thinking, it could just be--” He shrugged, then looked up at the camera for just a second. “Easy.”
Harry’s heart did a strange little jog out of time, quicker than the words wanted to make sense. He breathed with it, until it settled a little under all the cocktails. “Thanks,” he said again. “I’ll remember that.”
“Special exception,” Nick mumbled, but there was something like a smile in his voice, maybe. “You get points for not making the obvious joke.”
It took several more seconds for Harry to connect easy with anything. When it did click, he laughed, and in London, Nick looked up and smiled.
Harry wakes up early, still caught somewhere between time zones. Contrary to all rules Nick tries to impose, Puppy’s curled up just under Nick’s pillow, her tail just under her nose. She’s looking at Harry like she’s waiting for him to shout, but she’s too cute for that. He reaches over and clumsily pets at her ears until she yawns dog breath at him.
“Where’s Nick, then?” he asks her, rolling over to look at the clock. It’s still early and Harry listens for the sound of anyone in the flat for a few seconds before he remembers, oh, work.
Puppy jumps off the bed when Harry reaches over her to switch on the radio, in time to catch the last few seconds of never look back and never give up, and then there’s Nick’s voice, almost like they’re lying here together.
“A few texts coming in,” Nick says, sounding far more awake than Harry can even imagine being, just now. “Daphne in Dalston says ‘could you stop with all the romantic ballads, I have to get up for work and now I don’t want to get out of my boyfriend’s bed.’ Well, Daphne, I feel bad, but I’m at work already so, I don’t feel that bad. Tim texts from a bathroom in a house he doesn’t know-- ‘Grimmy can hear you through the wall over the sound of shagging please stop talking.’ Too bad, Tim. Lovebirds, whoever you are, hope you’re having a nice time.”
Harry turns his face into the pillow to laugh, already more than a little turned on just from hearing Nick talk. He can feel that he’s smiling, just from the sound of his voice on the radio. It’s ridiculous. It’s wonderful.
“This one is for all the people out there who are still awake, thinking about their Saturday night this morning.” Then the radio is playing Frank Ocean, and Harry is grinning up at the ceiling.
Everything is wonderful.
There really isn’t anything in the fridge, as Nick promised. Harry does find some oatmeal at the back of Nick’s cupboard, and a little bag of dried cranberries. He sends a small apology to whichever housemate actually has spices as he raids a drawer for nutmeg and cinnamon. There’s a radio in the kitchen, and Harry keeps Nick with him while he prepares two bowls with the dry ingredients, and makes himself a cup of tea.
“Right, and it’s nearly time for Stephen and Emma to come in and take you through a Sunday lie-in. Remember, I'll be on tomorrow for Matt Wilkinson, and we'll have One Direction so if that's your bag, tune in from four tomorrow. I’ll leave you with Florence, and a song that goes out to someone who might be listening.” He pauses, and so does Harry, no longer stirring his tea. “You know who you are,” he says, and the beginning of ‘Lover to Lover’ comes through the little speakers.
Harry knows this song. Nick put this song on a mix he gave Harry on a thumb drive, too many tracks for a CD, too many songs to listen to all at once. It was buried in the middle, but Harry found it anyway.
I heard that, he texts Nick, almost spilling tea on the bed in his hurry to get the message out before the song ends in the studio. Are you coming home now? xxxxxxxxxx
Depends, he gets back immediately. Is there still a popstar in my bed? xx
There’s one in your kitchen, Harry replies, though he’s still stood beside the bed. Is that good enough? xxxxxxxx
I spose it’ll have to do. See you soon darling xxx
Harry dozes on the sofa, waiting, wrapped in the duvet off the bed. It’s not quite proper sleep, because as soon as there’s the sound of Nick’s keys rattling in the door, he’s awake, and upright before Nick makes it into the front room.
“Hey,” he says, his voice coming out a bit funny. It’s just because of the sleep, not because Nick looks unfairly lovely, his hair twisted up so it’s nearly vertical, cheeks pink from the cold, coat buttoned up to his collar.
Nick smiles at him, and Harry takes a couple steps around the coffee table to meet him for a kiss that’s meant to be brief, but lingers instead. Harry curls his fingers into the fabric of Nick’s coat, and bites down carefully on Nick’s lower lip.
“Were you listening for the whole show?” Nick asks, when the kiss hesitates. “I didn’t leave the alarm switched on, did I?”
“No,” Harry says, after he’s kissed Nick once more. “Just from Haim. Jet lag.”
“Poor thing,” Nick murmurs, managing to sound both sincere and like he’s being an arse. Harry bites him again, and they lose several more minutes to kissing.
“I made breakfast,” Harry murmurs, his fingers now tucked in between the buttons of Nick’s coat.
“I don’t have anything in,” Nick murmurs in return. His fingers are cold through the fabric of Harry’s pants; Harry wants them on his skin. He wants them inside him.
“It’s porridge. Or it will be, when I put it in the microwave. Can we do that later, though?”
“Oh, did you have other plans?” Now Nick’s fingers are where they should be, wiggling past the elastic band, down to grip the curve of Harry’s bottom.
“Yeah,” Harry murmurs, pushing at the shoulders of Nick’s jacket, the buttons having all slipped out of their holes. “I was thinking about maybe some shagging.”
There’s a hesitation in Nick’s chest, like he’s about to make a joke of it so Harry pulls him close enough for a biting kiss. He can be funny later, once they’ve both come. Last night Harry had got the chance to get his mouth around Nick’s cock, but then they’d fallen asleep before Nick could recover enough for a shag. It’s been a long time. Too long.
“Yeah, alright,” Nick says, when Harry gives him room to breathe. “Gagging for it, are you?”
“Don’t worry,” Harry replies. “You’re special, Grimmy.”
After the first time Nick fucked Harry, Harry lay spread out starshaped on the bed while Nick tidied up. Everything felt rearranged, his whole body taken apart and put back together again, somehow.
He turned his head when Nick came out of the bathroom, curling his fingers towards his palm. “C’mere,” he said, his voice sounding not at all familiar. His throat was different too, apparently.
“You alright?” Nick asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Harry curled his fingers again and Nick tucked his in, so they were fingertip to fingertip.
“Yeah,” Harry said again, in his new voice. “That was awesome. Does it get better than that, because it might kill me.”
Nick laughed and leaned over, so he could drop some loo roll onto Harry’s chest, over the mess there. Harry tipped his chin so he could look at it, but actually moving was too much effort.
“It can, yeah. The better you know someone, sometimes—you know what gets them off quick, you know? So you can drag it out more.”
Harry nodded, sucking on his lower lip. “Well then,” he said finally, after Nick gave up and started swiping Harry’s chest clean.
“Well, then,” Harry repeated, already smiling. “I hope we get to know each other really well.”