The first Nick hears of the accident he's queueing at Waitrose of all places, debating as to whether or not he really needs a twelve pound circle of cheese.
It's not that it would be a bad investment; it definitely wouldn’t be seeing as how he’s got no real plans for the night and a nice bottle of chardonnay still chilling from the weekend back at the flat. It's just that twelve pounds is a lot, innit? Plus he's got plans tomorrow after lunch and the following night as well. It's make no sense to spend twelve pounds on a cheese and then only give himself one night to eat it. Just sit around in his pants on the sofa, swigging wine from the bottle and chowing down on a round of Brie while he watches Bake Off.
Nick flips the cheese over and eyes it again. Now that he thinks of it that way it doesn’t seem like that bad of an investment at all.
The cheese isn’t the point though, not really. The point is that while he's studiously debating his purchases, the cashier two tills over gasps loudly enough that Nick actually looks up and whips his head heads toward where she’s standing. Then before he can even parse out what’s wrong, the cashier even closer to him makes a strangled sort of sound when the gasper passes her mobile over. Nick’s own cashier seems fairly oblivious to the gasping, but both her and Nick’s ears perk up when the middle girl and the gasper start flapping their hands around and blubbering something, blah blah blah, Harry Styles.
Nick knows it’s got to be nothing. Harry’s in the news at all times for any number of things, from the length of his hair to whatever hat he’s decided to grace his head with that day. Nick knows this, deep down. His stomach just did a funny little dip because of the way the girls were reacting, not because he thinks anything bad has actually happened to Harry. He drops the rest of his purchases on the belt (including the Brie, because fuck it) and shuffles a little closer, ignoring the way his hands have gone damp and the nervous twinge still tickling the back of his neck.
”Heard he was in LA, that’s what the site says--”
“Was he on that motorcycle? Because that would make sense--”
“No, it says car but I don’t know whose or what happened or--”
“Will that be all?”
Nick tears his eyes away from the two gossiping girls and tries to focus on the one who’s currently waiting on him with a bored look on her face. He licks his lips, but all of a sudden nothing feels normal, nothing feels quite right. The other two girls, they’re properly upset. Nick keeps thinking that it has to be a mistake, that the queasy twist in his stomach and the way his head’s gone all loose and fluttery is because of a rumor. That nothing’s happened to Harry. That it can’t possibly be true.
And then his mobile rings.
It’s Niall that rings him, and the fact that Niall Horan of all people sounds shaken up is enough to make Nick abandon every single one of his items on the belt and rush from the shop with his mobile pressed firmly against his ear.
“Grimmy, are you there?” Niall asks. Nick realizes that he’s most likely not said anything, what with the very real fear that if Nick opens his mouth he’s going to sick up all over the street. He clears his throat and tucks himself against the corner of a small coffee shop.
“Yeah. Sorry. ‘M’here.”
“All right, good. So, I’m not too sure if you’ve heard anything but--”
“The girls,” Nick bleats out. Niall’s quiet for a second so Nick rushes on, randomly saying words that he hopes make some sort of sense but he’s pretty sure they don’t. “I was at the shops, getting a cheese - well, not just a cheese, I had some soda crackers along with it and some sweets. They were on sale actually, a half dozen for - nevermind. I was shopping and I saw a girl. Two girls, actually, and they were talking, and--”
“Mate, does this story have an end?”
Nick stops short in his babbling and laughs even though nothing is the least bit funny. “Right. Sorry. Just. Harry--”
“He’s been in an accident,” Niall says quietly. “It’s not terrible but it’s pretty fucking bad.”
“The girls,” Nick says. It seems like he’s only going to be able to get out half-jointed sentences for the entirety of this conversation. “They said he wasn’t on the--”
“Holy bleeding fucking Christ, he wasn’t on the bloody motherfucking arse shitting motorcycle!” Niall shouts. He sounds angry. Nick’s never heard Niall sound anything other than happy or drunk. It’s extremely disconcerting. “If I have to answer that same question one more time I’m going to jump off the roof of the fucking building.”
“Sorry,” Nick apologizes.
“No, it’s not - ” Niall takes a deep breath. “It’s just been a rough fucking day. He was out with Cal in Cal’s car. Cal was driving and it was - it was nothing, really.” Niall laughs bitterly. “They weren’t being chased, there were no paps. It wasn’t the motorcycle or anything to do with who we are or who Harry is or anything. It was just...just a lady who wasn’t paying attention and ran a red light. Could have literally happened to anyone.” He laughs again, quiet and a bit sad. “She didn’t even know who Harry was when the ambulance got there. Leave it to Hazza to get hit by the one person in all of LA who’s got no idea who the fuck he is.”
Nick closes his eyes. Talking to Niall is making him feel better, at least a little bit. Niall is joking and only getting sad for quick moments, so Nick’s sure that Harry’s not dying, it’s just…
“How is he?” Nick asks softly.
Niall’s quiet for a moment before he says, “He’s pretty banged up.”
Nick can hear the traffic moving vaguely around him. He’s on the corner of a street and across from him is a lady pushing a crying baby in a pram. He’s in his oldest jeans and a grey jumper with two holes in the shoulder and his hair is falling too long over his forehead because he needs a cut. He’s not seen Harry in too many days to count, but he talks to him almost every night, and now Harry is stuck in a hospital somewhere, hurt, and Nick has no idea what to do about it.
“He hit the dashboard with his head and had to get a few stitches and some of the hair shaved off just over his right eye and ear,” Niall says.
Nick chuckles, voice gone thick. “He’s going to hate that.”
“His foot is fractured and his right arm is sprained. He’s got a couple of bruised ribs I think,” Niall continues. Nick’s stomach churns; it sounds bloody awful. “They got everything set for him and he doesn’t need surgery but they’re keeping him hopped up on meds and in hospital for a day or two so he can try and escape without too much of a fuss when he’s feeling better.”
Nick presses his fingers against his eyes. His heart physically hurts with how badly he wants to talk to Harry, to hear his stupid, slow voice right now.
“Right. All right. How are you and Cal? Is anyone else there?”
Nick can practically feel Niall shrug. “Cal feels like shit; thought he was going to throw himself into traffic when he rang Anne after they first got to the A&E.”
“She’s all right though?”
“She’s upset but not angry,” Niall says. “You’re near her, yeah? Maybe you can ring her?”
“Yeah. Of course,” Nick says. He’ll ring Anne and Gemma both. He chews absently on his thumb while Niall talks softly to someone in the background. They’re all on a break, Nick thinks. They’d had a block of shows and then were going to be off for a while. Nick remembers Harry saying he’d be staying in LA for a week or so and then heading home. He’d been almost irrationally excited about having Harry back in London, even if it was only for a few days.
Nick runs a hand through his hair and closes his eyes. He hears Niall clearing his throat before he comes back on the line.
“Sorry,” Niall says. “Cal’s just talked to one of the doctors. Says Harry’s going to be out for the rest of the night at least so I’m thinking I might take myself over to Cal’s place and have a quick kip. More comfortable than trying to sleep on one of these fucking plastic chairs again.”
“No, yeah, that’s smart,” Nick says. He blinks his eyes open and stares blankly at the street in front of him. “Are you going to stay with him then?”
“Fuck, I wish I could.” Niall sounds absolutely gutted. Nick’s heart breaks a little more. “I was here to golf with Hazza for a few days before heading home, but I just - I told Greg I was coming back for a bit and he told Theo and I know he’s little, but he remembers shit like that. I just. I don’t want to leave Harry, but--”
“Niall, that’s fine,” Nick says gently. Niall sounds about five seconds away from a breakdown.
“I was going to call one of the other lads but Zayn’s off doing wedding things with Perrie and Lou is away with El, and Liam and Sophia…” Niall trails off. “Fuck, I don’t know. Those two have an underground sex cave or something. They’ve got some freaky ass fifty shades of Payne thing going on I think.”
And well then. There’s a mental image Nick is fairly certain he never, ever needed.
“Niall,” Nick groans.
Niall laughs a little. “Sorry, sorry. TMI, I know. Anyway, it’s just that I’m sure any of them would come if I asked them to but… I don’t know. Harry would hate that, you know? He hates thinking he’s caused someone trouble because of anything he does, let alone having someone rearrange their entire break because of him. Fuck, I’ve seen him apologize to waiters for having to bring him a drink because he was afraid of inconveniencing them. A waiter, Grimmy! Their entire job is to bring people things!”
Nick nods his head a bit because Niall’s right: Harry hates when people fuss over him, unless it’s a thing he specifically wants someone fussing over him for. And he’d be completely distraught if he found out any of the lads had vacations planned or booked that they wound up cancelling because of him. Or that someone put themselves out to go see him specifically to take care of him and make sure he’s healing properly. That would be the worst thing ever for Harry. He’d be miserable.
Which is why Nick’s just as surprised as Niall when he opens his mouth and the words that come out are, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there in the morning.”
“So let me get this straight,” Aimee says. Nick’s not even got to look in her direction to recognize the look she’s got on her face. He feels the tops of his cheeks heat up, and the edges of his ears go hot.
“Aimee,” Nick warns.
“No, wait, this is fucking amazing,” she says, and Nick does glance up at her then from where he’s got his head buried in his luggage and frowns. Aimee is beaming, just as he expected. She is actually the worst human on the planet.
“Whatever you’re about to say I’ve got no interest in it, I promise you that.”
“So Niall Horan of One Direction rings you while you’re in the shops, yeah?” Aimee continues, completely ignoring the look of death Nick is shooting her way. “Tells you Harry’s been in a car accident and he just wants you to know. So instead of taking that information and doing what any rational human would do - which would be to buy a bloody get well card and send it through the post - you finish the conversation by telling him you’re taking a leave of absence from your job, locking up your flat, and flying three quarters of the way around the fucking earth to what? Gently stroke Harry’s hair away from his bruised face?”
“Ugh,” Nick groans, and tosses a pair of his balled up socks at Aimee’s head. She ducks him and laughs, her bright pink ponytail disappearing when she leans over to pluck it up from the floor. “Literally piss off.”
“Now, now, Grimmy,” Daisy says. She’s just passed into the room holding the last small pile of Nick’s folded laundry in her arms. She gives him a sweet smile when she hands it over and chides, “Don’t be mean to Aimee.”
“Well she was mean to me first!” Nick whines. He’s completely aware that he sounds like a toddler. The way Aimee is sticking her tongue at him and making little yapping motions with her fingers behind Daisy’s back at least proves that she’s no better. “And anyway, that’s not the reason why I’m going.”
“Then why are you going?” Aimee asks. Her grin turns evil and she singsongs, “Is it because you’re in looooooove?”
Nick narrows his eyes and glares. He’d try to stick up for himself but. Well.
“Don’t be mean, Aimee,” Daisy says. Nick feels her pat his head and he leans into the palm of her hand. “Nick can’t help it if he’s in love with Harry.”
And that’s the bottom line right there, isn’t it. Cut and dry, that’s the entire summary of his existence to this point. If Nick were to write a book about his life and everything that’s happened to him and everything he’s done so far and how he’s wound up where he is, he thinks a valid working title for it could be: Nick Can’t Help It If He’s In Love With Harry.
“That has nothing to do with it,” Nick says instead. Aimee rolls her eyes so hard he wonders if she’s going to pass out. He hopes she does. Daisy just pets him some more. Nick loves Daisy; she’s his favorite.
“It’s just that he’s hurt and he’s going to be by himself and I’m his friend,” Nick says firmly. “I told Anne I would go because she’s got to stay here with Harry’s gran, and Gemma is going to meet me there in a few days. I just.” He shrugs and stuffs the final jumper in his bag, flipping it closed and dragging the zip around until he can lock it. “I can’t stay here when he’s over there and hurt.” Aimee opens her big, yapping mouth again, but Nick cuts her off. “No matter what the reason.”
By some miracle Aimee stays quiet, and Nick grabs the last of his things and takes one final look around his bedroom. He’d told Ian and Matt that he needed a few weeks at least; that way if Harry wants him to stay, he can, and not have to worry about work. Nobody was thrilled about it, but that’s just actually too bad. The radio can deal.
And he might be back sooner. Harry might take one look at Nick and insist that he take the next flight back to London. Or he might have Nick stay a day or so just until he gets settled and then Nick can head back in a reasonable amount of time.
Or not. Nick actually has no idea what Harry is going to say or do when Nick gets there. He just knows he has to go.
“Just be careful,” Daisy says softly.
Nick says, “I will,” but in all honestly the time for being careful has pretty firmly passed.
“If you get bored take some terrible photos of him and sell them to the Mirror,” Aimee pipes in with. “That way if the radio sacks you you can live the rest of your life off the royalties of selling photos of Harry Styles in a dressing gown with his arse out.”
Nick laughs in spite of himself and kisses them both goodbye.
The flight from Heathrow to LAX is as long and boring as it always is. Nick listens to music a little and reads a little and frets more often that not. There’s wifi, at least, so he keeps in touch with Niall over twitter messages, and Niall tells him that Harry’s been waking up on and off but Niall didn’t tell Harry Nick was on his way because he figured Nick would want to do that himself.
you’re such a cock Nick sends over. Harry is going to kill me for coming thanks for not softening the blow at all
haha sorry mate! Niall sends back. that’s all on you!
he seems better at least. told him I’ll be back in a week if he wants
thanks for coming xxx
Nick finally manages to doze off just as the plane starts descending into California, and he wakes right back up. His stomach jumps around so much he has to curl his fingers around the arm rests and close his eyes, forcing himself to breathe slowly in and out.
This was a great idea, Nick keeps telling himself. Harry will be happy to see him. Nick just wants to check and make sure Harry’s all right, and then he can jump right back on a plane and fly home.
This is a perfectly normal thing to do.
“Oh my god.”
Nick jerks awake so quickly his knee bangs into the metal leg of the table pushed in close to the side of Harry’s bed. Nick hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep; all he remembers is getting a car to the hospital straight from the airport and then fumbling his way through the doctors and halls until he found Cal, who pointed him towards Harry’s room.
For as much as Nick had thought he’d mentally prepared himself to see Harry all banged up, when he first pushed open the door to Harry’s room and saw him lying there his knees shook so badly he would have ended up a puddle on the floor if Cal hadn’t been hovering close enough to grab Nick around the chest and haul him upright.
Harry just - he just looks so hurt.
The room is dark with the shades pulled tightly closed and everything around him has that dull, antiseptic smell and feel to it that comes with being inside any hospital. Nick doesn’t know why he thought it would be different here. Maybe he figured that a hospital that Harry was staying in would smell like Harry’s cologne and bananas or something, but it doesn’t. It’s just Harry lying here, with his face purple and bruised and the side of his hair cut short, a thick black line over his eyebrow where he’d had to be stitched up. He’s got an arm in a sling and one of his legs is elevated and he just looks so small lying there, the generic white sheets lying around him in a tangle on the bed.
He looks tiny, almost, compared to how Nick’s used to seeing Harry in their regular life. When things are normal, Harry nearly matches Nick in height with his long legs and broad shoulders. He’s got big hands and strong arms and his smile is the brightest thing Nick’s ever seen. To see him now, completely still and silent, is just. It’s a lot. It’s almost too much. Nick sat down heavily in the chair next to the bed when he first came in and put his hand over Harry’s. All the breath whooshed out of his chest when he felt how warm Harry’s hand was at least, and the way his fingers twitched under Nick’s palm.
That was when Nick covered his face with his other hand and let himself cry, just a little.
All in all it’s been a day so filled with emotions and travel and feelings, Nick’s not entirely surprised that he managed to pass out right here, sitting straight up in a terrible chair at Harry’s bedside.
Harry though, seems very surprised.
“Nick, oh my god,” he says again, his voice softer and slower than normal. Nick didn’t even think was possible. He jumps out of his seat at the sound of Harry’s voice and spins around in the room, rushing toward the door to look for a nurse and then back again to the bed when Harry makes a small, hurt sound.
“Hazza, fuck. Are you all right? I mean, of course you’re not all right,” Nick babbles. “You’re in bloody hospital. I just - should I ring a nurse? Do they need to know you’re awake?”
Harry blinks slowly. Nick wants to bury his face against Harry’s neck and either kiss him or cry. Or both, maybe. Both would be good.
“I don’t think so,” Harry says slowly. Nick turns to look at him and the edges of Harry’s mouth manage to twitch as if he’s trying to grin. “Have I been in a coma?”
Nick presses his lips together firmly. Right. “No, of course not.”
“Are we in an episode of Hollyoaks?”
Nick huffs. This absolute fucking knob. “Harold,” he warns.
“And as far as I know I’ve not got amnesia,” Harry says. He’s almost laughing a little now; thin, pained sounding chuckles. If Nick hadn’t been so worried about him for the past billion hours he’d be livid. “It is 2010, right?” Harry asks, opening his eyes as wide as he can and blinking. “I’m still on X Factor, aren’t I?”
“Should I just head back home, then?” Nick asks shortly. He’s sat back down in the seat and pulled it a bit closer to where Harry’s lying. Up close he can see how truly terrible Harry’s coloring is, and can notice him wincing whenever he tries to move around in the bed. Nick reaches out and takes Harry’s hand again and this time Harry flips his fingers over so they link together with Nick’s. Nick squeezes gently. “I’ll have you know I didn’t come all the way here just to listen to more of your terrible jokes.”
Harry laughs quietly, but the laugh quickly turns into a muffled groan and Nick’s stomach twists because honestly, Harry is hurt, what the fuck is wrong with Nick? Joking around with him like that. Nick was right from the beginning, he should have rung the bloody nurse.
He goes to get up, because Harry’s bad jokes or not, he probably needs some sort of attention now that he’s awake. Harry flinches when Nick takes his hand away and manages to get out, “Where are you going?”
“Just calling a nurse, love,” Nick says quietly. He reaches out and gently brushes a bit of hair back from the uninjured part of Harry’s face. He lets his fingers linger and Harry tilts his head into Nick’s touch. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Harry’s eyes slip shut and he’s quiet for so long Nick wonders if he’s fallen back asleep already. He moves to go call a nurse, and as his fingers slide away from Harry’s face he hears Harry mumble, “Good.”
By the time Harry wakes up again Nick has gone down to the cafe and gotten himself a cup of terrible coffee and a bag of stale pastries. He’s watched any number of nurses and doctors come into Harry’s room and check things quietly, adding notes to whatever folders they were holding and giving Nick a quick smile before heading back out as silently as they came.
Harry wakes up with a groan after a few hours, and Nick nearly drops his mobile onto the floor, he’s so startled at the sound.
“Fuck,” Harry mutters. Nick puts his mobile down and leans in closer, automatically reaching out to brush the hair back from Harry’s face.
“Hiya, pal,” Nick says gently. His throat’s gone tight and his voice is all wobbly again. He’s got to try and figure out how to hold it together in front of Harry soon. For the love of the Queen, this is getting ridiculous. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I got hit by a car,” Harry says, then winces as he tries to sit up.
Nick doesn’t know if he should help Harry or if moving him might do some kind of other trauma, like kill him. Nick doesn’t want to kill him. It’s possible he’s being overly dramatic, but the other morning his biggest worry was whether or not he needed another round of cheese and now he’s in America sitting next to his best mate who nearly died. He decides he’s not touching Harry again until a nurse or doctor says it’s ok. He takes his hand back from Harry’s face and sits on it and Harry frowns.
“Hey,” Harry grumbles.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Nick says.
Harry laughs, or tries to at least. “Nick, there’s not one part of my body that doesn’t hurt. You touching my face isn’t going to make much difference.”
Nick feels his cheeks go hot and he looks away. The last thing he needs is Harry noticing the moon eyes Nick’s fairly sure he can’t stop making in Harry’s direction.
“And anyway, I like it when you touch my face,” Harry says. Nick chances a look at him and Harry’s smiling a little, his eyes soft looking and glassy. Nick has no idea just how many painkillers they’ve got him on here, but it’s got to be a lot. Harry’s got the same kind of fuzzy look Nick’s seen on more than one of his friends on more than one occasion. “Touch my face again Nick, pleeeeeease.”
Nick rolls his eyes and reaches out, poking Harry in the center of the forehead with the tip of one finger.
Harry frowns, his eyebrows dipping down into a little V. “Rude.”
There’s a knock at the door then, and Nick turns to find Cal poking his head inside, giving a relieved smile when he sees Harry is awake and talking to Nick.
“Hi Nick. How you feeling, H?”
Nick sees Harry shrug and tilt this hand in the air from side to side. “Eh. Not that comfortable, really. Mostly tired. And sore. Really sore.”
“They said that’s to be expected, but that the worst of it’s probably over,” Cal says. He comes into the room and closes the door behind him. “So here’s the deal, Haz. You can stay here for sure, for as long as you want. No one’s kicking you out.”
Nick looks from Cal over to Harry, who’s watching Cal curiously. “Or?” Harry asks.
Nick’s mobile buzzes from the table and he picks it up and thumbs it on. Hows Harry? Aimee has texted. Have you spent the day declaring your love and kissing his bruises?
Nick glares at the screen and shoves the mobile in his pocket. He’s not got time for this.
“Or you can get a nurse to look after you and go home, try and recuperate from there,” Cal says, and Nick whips his head up, because Harry can go home?
“I can go home?” Harry asks.
Cal nods. “The doctors said mainly what you need to do is rest and that you might be more comfortable being at home when you do that. Or at my place, if you want,” Cal adds, “But I’ve got a lot more stairs than you to get to different floors. Your place is laid out a little better for you and your injuries I’d think.”
“Yeah, no, I’d definitely like to go to my own place if I could,” Harry says. He sounds so much better already, so much happier at the idea of being able to go home. Nick is happy for him. All he wants is for Harry to get better.
“Nick, where are you staying?” Cal asks.
Nick looks up and at Cal, then over to Harry. Harry’s watching him curiously, and Nick falters a bit, because he’s been staying here. He doesn’t have a place to stay. He hadn’t even thought about where he was going to go when he eventually left the hospital, he’d just come here from the plane and not left Harry’s side since. He glances at his bag on the floor by his feet, and Harry must realize - of course he knows Nick so well that he can tell just from that look that Nick’s not gone anywhere to stay yet. That Nick came here and just never left.
“Nick,” Harry says softly.
“Well I couldn’t very well leave when you were lying here all…” Nick motions at Harry in the bed. “All busted up looking. At least not until I’ve got good a few good pictures to sell to the Mirror.” Harry rolls his eyes and Cal snorts. Nick will have to tell Aimee how terribly her joke went over in real life. “Anyway, since you’re going to be released soon, I’ll just head out and--”
“No, wait,” Harry says. He’s struggling to sit up and then groans, falling back into the bed and huffing up at the ceiling. “A little help please?”
Cal goes over and helps Harry sit up (and that’s good to know, that helping Harry to sit won’t actually kill him) and Nick kind of flutters his hands uselessly at the bottom of the bed, needlessly fixing the sheets to cover Harry’s feet. He’s got on socks, Nick sees. Dark green ugly hospital socks with little white rubber treads on the bottom. Nick realizes he’s getting sentimental over Harry Styles’ feet and decides that maybe it’s best if he just heads back home after this. Another few days and he’d most assuredly go fully mental.
“Nick should come stay with me,” Harry says though, and, well, that wasn’t in any of Nick’s plans at all.
“What?” Nick gasps.
“Come home with me. Instead of a nurse, I mean,” Harry says. “I mean, unless I really need like, an official nurse person?” He looks at Cal questioningly and Cal shakes his head no, the absolute bloody wanker.
“No, you don’t need any kind of medical attention,” Cal tells him. “Your injuries should heal fine on their own. You just have to keep up with follow up visits and the like. The nurse would be more for like, helping you get around, helping you wash your hair, things like that.”
“Oh. All right,” Harry says softly. “Nevermind.”
He’s looking down at the covers, picking idly at a loose thread, and when Nick realizes what Harry’s thinking - that Nick most likely doesn’t want to go home with him because Nick doesn’t want to help him - Nick nearly falls off the chair, he’s shaking his head and standing up so quickly.
“No, no, Harry, wait. I don’t not want to do that,” Nick says quickly. Harry looks up at him, face crinkled in confusion. “I mean, I definitely could do that. I want to, that is. I mean, if you want me to.”
Harry takes a deep breath, wincing only a little, and Nick wants to take care of him, wants to hold him and watch over him and make sure nothing bad ever happens to him again. It’s almost scary how much he wants that.
“I do,” Harry says. “I mean, I would like that.”
“More than a nurse?” Cal asks.
“More than a nurse,” Harry agrees.
“Because nurses are qualified, H,” Cal adds. Nick levels him with a stare and Cal throws his hands in the air. “Well it’s true!” he insists. “Are you able to even do this?” he asks Nick. “What about the show?”
Nick shakes his head just as Harry says, “Oh, that’s right. You’ve got the radio.”
“I don’t--” Nick trails off. Harry looks a bit worried now, and Nick shakes his head. “I’ve still got the show, of course, I just told them I might be over here for a while.” He looks down and away and fiddles with the bracelet on his wrist. “I wasn’t sure how you were going to be feeling and didn’t want to have to rush home.”
“Oh,” Harry says quietly. Nick risks looking up at him. Harry’s cheeks have gone a little pink. It makes him look happy. He looks better in the past five minutes than he has the entire time Nick’s been here. Surely that has to mean something. “That’s...thank you. That was really nice.”
Nick nods takes his mobile out, trying to let Harry and Cal have whatever kind of silent conversation they’ve just started conducting with just their eyebrows. He opens a text to Aimee and sends, Might be here for a little bit, going back with Harry to his place to take care of him.
“All right then,” Cal says, and Nick looks up, Cal smiling at him broadly. “If Harry wants you there and you can stay…”
Nick nods. “I can stay,” he says.
“Then I guess it’s settled,” Cal says.
“Yaaaaay,” Harry cheers weakly from the bed.
“I guess it is,” Nick adds, just as a text comes in from Aimee, good fucking luck, mate.
Nick thinks he’d probably going to need it.
Not only does Nick go back with Harry to his house, but Harry calls Gemma in the car on the way back and tells her not to come, to stay home with their mum, and that Harry will let her know when a better time for her to visit is. Cal had arranged for a car to come pick them up from the underground hospital entrance in the middle of the night so there’s no one waiting for them when they leave the hospital or wandering the streets around Harry‘s house when they pull up just as the sun is starting to rise.
Nick’s seen pictures of Harry’s house, but nothing comes close to seeing it in real life. Nick almost wishes he’d made it out here any of the other times Harry had invited him, because coming here now mainly because Harry is hurt is kind of totally crap.
“Sorry,” Harry says, huffing a bit as Nick helps him up the three short steps into the foyer and steers him toward the first available chair to fall down into. Harry’s got one arm in a sling and is using a crutch with his good arm and his face is flushed pink just from walking into his own house. Nick has a moment of blind panic - what the fuck is he doing? He can’t take care of an injured human, he barely remembers to lock his own front door half the time - but then Harry looks up at him and smiles, his fingers wrapping tight around Nick’s wrist, and Nick thinks: fuck it. It’ll be fine.
“Sorry ‘m’leaning on you so much,” Harry mumbles. Nick pats his head, raking his fingers through Harry’s long curls, and kisses his temple gently. “Didn’t realize this would be so hard.”
Nick waves his hand in the air and pretends that it’s nothing. “Please, like that’s the first time I’ve had you leaning into me as we walk someplace? You’re clearly forgetting the night of Pixie’s birthday party. And Henry’s. And Alexa’s. And yours.”
Harry laughs a little and slumps down further into the chair. Nick gives him a second, but he realizes that he can’t let Harry sleep in the chair all night long. It would be terrible for Harry’s injuries, and also Cal would skin him alive if he ever found out.
“All right then, Styles, up with you.” Nick slips his arms under Harry’s and puts Harry’s good arm around Nick’s shoulder. “Do you need food?”
Harry shakes his head. “”M’not hungry.”
“You have to tell me where your clothes and stuff are.”
Harry nods. “The bedroom’s just--” he hisses in pain and Nick slows down, takes their walking down to an even slower pace. “Actually this one is fine,” Harry says at the first door they get to.
“Is this your room?”
“It’s the guest room but it’s fine,” Harry insists. Nick hesitates but Harry shakes his head and manages to half steer Nick into the guest room himself. “My room’s too far. I’ll sleep there tomorrow. Now I just need - shit - I just need to lie down.”
Nick looks around the guest room and slowly whistles. “You sure don’t do things small, Haz.”
The room is quite possibly bigger than Nick’s entire flat, complete with the biggest bed covered in the softest looking white and gold covers Nick’s ever seen. Nick angles Harry toward the bed and Harry sits down gently before lying back, swinging his one good leg up and using his good arm to pull up the other one. Nick snaps out of his thoughts and helps Harry out of his trainers and gets the covers settled around him. Harry’s been in jogging pants and a t-shirt since the hospital, and when Nick asks him if he wants to change Harry just shakes his head and leans back into the pillows.
“This is fine. Good. I just want to sleep,” Harry says. His eyes have already slipped shut. Nick spends a minute wandering around the room shutting the blinds and making sure Harry’s got water and his pills all set up for the next morning, and then he turns off the light by the door, pausing for a second to watch Harry sleep before he goes to try and find a place for himself to stay for the night.
“Night, love,” Nick whispers, and wanders off.
Nick wakes up to the sound of something crashing loudly to the floor and Harry cursing from somewhere in the house. He jumps up off the sofa, the blanket getting tangled around his legs and causing him to stumble halfway across the floor before promptly falling onto his knees. Lovely. He’s here because he’s supposed to be helping Harry and it’ll be a bloody miracle if he doesn’t wind up in A&E himself.
“Harry?” Nick calls out as he hears Harry curse some more. There’s a strange thumping sound and Nick stands up and shoves the hair back from his face, spinning around until he can locate the direction the sound is coming from.
When he finally does he grits his teeth and stomps over, glaring at Harry where he’s stood in front of the sink in his kitchen, a shiny black tea kettle lying on the floor at his feet.
“Really?” Nick asks.
“I was just trying to make a cuppa!” Harry grouses. He kicks the kettle across the floor with his good foot, wincing a little as it hits his toe. Nick rolls his eyes. Honestly, Harry is not much better than a petulant toddler.
“And it didn’t occur to you to call me to come help?” He picks the kettle up from the floor and places it on the counter before taking Harry by the shoulders and gently steering him towards a seat at the kitchen table. The kitchen is bright and airy, high pitched ceilings and windows all around. Harry’s cheeks have more color this morning than they have the entire time Nick’s been in LA. He looks so much better already, just from having been able to come home.
“I didn’t want to wake you,” Harry mumbles.
Nick shakes his head and ruffles Harry’s hair a little. His fingers touch lightly against Harry’s stitches, and Harry winces and pulls back a bit. Nick yanks his hand away and busies himself filling the kettle at the sink.
“This might come as a surprise to you, Harold, but when I agreed to come here and help you, I actually meant I want to help you. As in help you do things,” Nick says seriously. “I’m not here to hang around and wait for you to injure yourself some more by breaking your other foot with a tea kettle and having to take you to hospital again, all right?”
Harry huffs. When Nick looks over he’s chewing on his thumbnail and staring at Nick intently. “All right. Fine. I just,” he huffs again. “I just hate being here and not being able to do anything for you.”
Nick stares back, feeling something go achingly tight in his chest.
Before this he hadn’t seen Harry in long enough that he’d almost convinced himself that all of these feelings he had had gone away. That he’d almost imagined how much he felt for Harry, because feelings like that couldn’t be real, no one could actually care about another person that much, could they? But standing here now, watching Harry look at Nick like he’s the most important person in the world, is a lot. It makes Nick realize that he was wrong about his feelings after all, but instead of feeling too much he’d actually not been feeling enough. This right here...this must be what it feels like to really love someone.
“Just let me take care of you, babe, all right?” Nick says softly. He knows he’s looking at Harry too seriously, that he’s maybe giving away too much. If Harry ever asks he’ll chalk it up to being worried about Harry being hurt or something of that nature. He doesn’t care, really. He just doesn’t want to pretend much, anymore. “Just for now.”
“Yeah,” Harry says, voice gone thick. He licks his lips, and Nick looks away, busying himself with getting cups and teabags and some milk from the fridge. “Yeah, ok. Thanks.”
Nick turns back and smiles. “Anytime.”
For someone who’s barely qualified to take care of a friend’s dog for any length of time, Nick thinks he’s doing pretty fucking good at taking care of Harry.
They get groceries brought in on the first full day they’re in the house, and Nick puts everything away while Harry instructs him in where things go from where he’s sat at the kitchen table. Then Nick helps Harry to the sofa and they watch reruns on the cooking channel all morning until Harry dozes off just before lunch. Nick wanders around the rooms trying to get a better feel of the house while Harry’s sleeping, and he’s already got a load of washing on when Harry wakes up and tells Nick he’s hungry.
Nick makes sandwiches and brews a pot of iced tea which is far too strong, but after you let the ice settle in, it’s more than fine. They chat easily at the table and Nick gets Harry his pain pills and takes Harry’s mobile off the charger when it’s finished and listens in while Harry talks to his mum and to Gemma and to Niall and the rest of the lads.
They play Scrabble that afternoon and Harry beats Nick mercilessly, and Nick orders in a pizza for dinner and they both eat until they’re stuffed and drowsy. Harry complains a bit after dinner about how his head is itchy and how his arm is wrapped too tightly, so Nick helps him into the bathroom and fixes Harry’s bandages and washes Harry’s hair. He only has to hold back tears three times when his fingers brush against the stitches on Harry’s temple, the skin rough and bruised under his fingertips, and the idea that Nick nearly lost this - lost Harry - has him choking back a breath.
Harry clears his throat when Nick’s hands stop for the third time, and he reaches up and circles his fingers around Nick’s wrists. “You all right?”
“‘M’fine,” Nick sniffs. He rubs his nose on his shirt sleeve and focuses intently on rinsing all the suds from Harry’s hair. “Just glad you’ve got a head like a cement block so you’re not even more bruised up than you are,” he says. What he means is, this scar is so close to your eye you could have gone blind and, another few inches and this accident could have had an entirely different outcome.
Harry stares up at him, eyes clear and green, then looks back away when he says, “Yeah. I’m pretty glad too.”
By the third day Nick’s got taking care of Harry pretty much down to a science. Even for as hurt as he is, Harry’s frighteningly low maintenance and only really ever needs Nick to help him do things he physically can’t do on his own, like get his shirt on and off over his head and drag his trackies fully up over his hips.
Nick’s not too sure who he’s pissed off in a former life, but whoever they are they’re certainly getting their laughs about it now.
Like right now. Harry’s been feeling better, which is great. It’s amazing actually. He’s not needed the sling on his arm and he’s been able to get around more on his own with just his crutches so he hasn’t been needing to lean on Nick quite as much. It’s brilliant.
What’s not so brilliant is that he’s also apparently decided that either getting his shirts on is too much work, or that asking Nick for help is too hard to do, because he’s been insisting on sitting around the living room in just a pair of low slung jogging bottoms and nothing else. No shirt, no socks. All the time. His hair is loose and hanging over his forehead and his arms are tan and firm. He’s got some bruises still over the curve of his shoulder, and he can’t move too quickly when he gets up and down from wherever he’s sitting, but even still, just sitting around with him all day is a lot.
Right now Harry’s on Skype with Louis, and Nick is trying not very hard to listen in on their conversation. He keeps wandering into and out of the living room under the pretense of tidying up, but every time he glances in the direction of the laptop screen Louis seems to be watching Nick’s every move and smirking at him.
After the fourth time Nick does it he finally stops and plants a hand on his hip. “What?” he mutters.
“I’ve just watched you pick up and put down the same magazine four times, mate,” Louis says cheekily. Nick is a fully mature adult, so naturally he sticks his tongue out at Louis and blows a raspberry. “You still fretting over our Hazza here?”
“Who, this sorry sod?” Nick teases. He ruffles Harry’s hair and Harry ducks out of the way, standing up shakily and stretching his arms over his head. “Nah, I’m just here for the wifi connection and the free pizza.”
“Harry does order a good pizza,” Louis says.
Nick nods. “And he’s got the loveliest singing voice, especially first thing in the morning.”
Harry rolls his eyes and starts shuffling slowly out of the room. “All right then, “ he says. “I’ll just leave you to at it while I take a piss.”
“Do you want me to hold it for you, darling?” Nick calls.
Harry gives him the finger as he disappears out of the room. “Maybe later, Nicholas,” he calls.
Nick waits quietly until he hears the bathroom door snick shut, and then he leans forward and lets his head drop into the palm of his hand. “Jesus Christ,” he mutters quietly.
“You all right, mate?” Louis asks, voice almost gentle. Nick looks up, and he can see now, from this close, the worry etched around his eyes. “He looks fucking awful,” Louis says, and Nick laughs.
“God, Louis, he looks a thousand times better now, too. A million even. I just. When I first got there that day…” Nick trails off and shakes his head. “He looks great now,” he finishes quietly. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
“I can’t believe Niall told me not to fucking come.” Louis sounds cross, still. Nick had known from bits and pieces of Harry’s conversation with Cal and the lads that he was angry that he’d not come straight away, but it’s been days by now. Nick would have thought the anger would have faded a bit. “Is he getting around better?”
“Much,” Nick tells him. He gives Louis a brief rundown of how much better Harry’s been doing, listing all of the things he’s been able to do for himself in the past day or so, and by the end Louis looks not happy, really, but at least a bit more relieved.
“Fuck, thank you so much for going there,” Louis says, for possibly the millionth time in the past few days. Nick’s always known how much Harry’s friends love him, but the amount of times the lads have called here to talk to him over the past few days has literally blown Nick’s mind.
“What about you?” Louis asks, snapping Nick from his thoughts. “Are you all right?”
Louis doesn’t know how Nick feels, but Nick thinks Louis must at least suspect something. He’s never said anything to Nick straight out, but he’d hinted at enough things enough times that if Nick ever manned up and wanted to tell Louis how he feels about Harry, he doesn’t think Louis would be the least bit surprised.
“I’m fine, Tomlinson,” Nick says easily. Louis’ look says he doesn’t much believe it, but it also says that he’s going to let it slide. That’s all Nick can ask for, really. He gives Louis a small smile in thanks. “I should really get to the bathroom and make sure our boy doesn’t need anything.”
“Ring me if you ever need, yeah?” Louis says. Nick promises that he will, and then he ends the call.
Something wakes Nick up from a dead sleep that night, and at first he doesn’t realize what it is.
It’s a sound that he heard, something that snuck in past the sleeping parts of his brain and curled tight, not letting go until Nick opened his eyes and sat up in bed. He doesn’t hear it again for so long that he thinks that maybe he was wrong. It’s possible something he was dreaming about woke him up, or that it was nothing at all. He’s just about to lie down and try and fall back asleep when he hears it again, a choked sounding snuffle, and he jumps from bed and makes his way down the hall.
The lights are mostly out and Nick’s feet are bare. He’s in a pair of sleep pants and a ratty t-shirt, and he rubs his arms from the chill in the air while he flicks on the hall light, trying to parse out where the sound is coming from.
The lights in the living room are all out, and the only thing on in the kitchen is the low bulb over the sink. The bathroom is dark, but up ahead a bit where Harry’s room is Nick can see a sliver of light peeking through where the door is cracked open, and he knocks gently before pushing the door open enough to peer inside.
Harry is sitting up in bed with his laptop in front of him, and he’s crying.
“Oh, love, no,” Nick says. He hurries into the room and slides onto the bed, wrapping an arm around Harry and pulling him close even as his eyes catch on the picture on the laptop screen.
It’s the car, Nick realizes. Cal’s car. Harry was looking at pictures of the accident and saw pictures of the car, and--
“Oh, babe, don’t do that,” Nick says gently, and he closes the laptop. Then he pulls Harry closer and feels the front of his shirt go damp with tears. “Don’t look at that stuff.”
“I don’t know why I looked,” Harry says. Nick can barely understand him, his voice is so broken. “I was just curious and I’ve been so good. I haven’t been thinking about it at all, really, but I just. It could have been so bad,” he says. He takes a long shuddering breath. “Oh, god, Nick - I just - Nick.”
Nick holds Harry tight, probably tighter than he should be, but Harry needs to feel something, needs to have Nick around him reminding him that he’s here and that he’s ok. Harry’s been amazing about everything, genuinely okay with being hurt and the hospital and having Nick here taking care of him. It’s no wonder he’d finally gotten to a point where he would break. No one can possibly be that strong.
“You’re fine,” Nick murmurs quietly. He runs his fingers through Harry’s hair, trying to soothe him. He can feel sobs wracking Harry’s body, his fingers pressed deep into Nick’s sides. He keeps trying to burrow closer to Nick, curling into Nick’s arms, wrapping himself around Nick’s chest, and Nick just lets him, holds him closer and whispers soft words and sounds into Harry’s cheek and ear.
“You’re ok, love. Nothing is going to happen.”
It takes a while, but Harry finally calms down. He breathes long and slow, chest hitching on every exhale until he’s more limp than anything else. Nick keeps him pulled in close. Harry feels soft and heavy against his chest. Nick would let him stay there forever.
“I was really scared,” Harry admits, when he’s been quiet for so long that Nick was wondering if he’d fallen asleep.
“Me too,” Nick admits.
Harry leans his head back and blinks up into Nick’s face. His cheeks are streaked with tears, his eyes rimmed red and damp. “Yeah?”
“God,” Nick says, because honestly, how could Harry not know? “Of course I was. Harry, I--”
Nick stops himself then, because this night has been a lot. Too much, even. Harry’s scared and vulnerable and Nick is feeling way too much.
“I was really scared too,” he finally says, and it feels like admitting a whole lot more.
Harry’s watching him, eyes blinking slowly, and when he tilts his head up Nick doesn’t even wonder what’s going to happen. It’s like a part of his brain has already accepted it, like even through everything, this is exactly where he was supposed to end up right at this very second.
Harry kisses him.
Nick has spent the better part of four years wondering what it would be like if he ever got to kiss Harry. At first he wondered it because Harry was just a fit bloke he knew, and then after they became proper friends Nick wondered what it would be like to kiss someone you liked that much. Nick’s kissed plenty of people in his life before, and he’s liked just as many, but he’s never loved anyone quite like Harry. He’s never loved someone quite this much the first time he’s gotten to kiss them.
Harry’s lips are soft and move slowly, almost like he’s giving Nick a chance to pull away. Nick can’t do that, not even a little, and he tilts his head to the side and kisses Harry back, just as gently. Harry whines in his throat, a short, broken little sound, and Nick squeezes his eyes shut, and tries to remember every single second of it, every press of Harry’s skin against his.
It’s taken long enough to get here and Nick doesn’t want to forget a single second.
“Shit.” Harry breaks the kiss so quickly that Nick’s head has barely had a chance to stop spinning before he realizes what’s happening. Harry’s eyes are wide and he leans back, touching his mouth and looking down and away from Nick. “Shit, Nick, I’m sorry, I--”
“No, really, I’m sorry,” Nick babbles. He’s the worst, truly. Here Harry is, scared and hurt and vulnerable, and Nick is kissing him. He’s taking advantage of his very best mate when he’s in the worst shape of his life and all because of his stupid, stupid feelings. Jesus. Nick should leave Harry’s house, or the country even. He should book the next flight to London and never come back. He should throw himself off the roof. He should--
He should definitely get out of Harry’s bed.
“Shit, Harry, I--” Nick says and jumps up.
“No, Nick, wait,” Harry says, but Nick is shaking his head and already backing towards the door.
“I’ll just--” Nick trips over a pair of trainers and stumbles back into the wall. He hits his shoulder and it smarts for a second, but then he looks back over, sees Harry watching him almost sadly, and he manages to right himself and make it out of the room. “‘Night, Harry.”
Nick doesn’t even wait for Harry to say goodnight back before he rushes back to his own room.
Nick spends the rest of his night staring up at the ceiling in Harry’s guest room and wondering if he should be busy booking his flight to go back home. Surely Harry isn’t going to want him around now that Nick kissed him back like that. Harry kissed Nick because he was feeling vulnerable, or scared, and Nick kissed him back like he was in love. Jesus Christ, Nick is actually the worst human ever.
He thinks about texting someone, but Aimee would take the piss and Daisy would be almost too nice to him and Nick isn’t really in the mood for either. He thinks about calling Louis, but that would involve a lot of talking about things and explaining and just. Nick can’t do it. Better to just wait it out and get up in the morning and wait to see how long it takes things to be awkward between him and Harry.
The answer is less than thirty seconds.
Nick waits until he hears Harry shuffling down the hall and into the kitchen before sticking his glasses on his face and pulling on a slightly cleaner shirt. He runs his fingers through his hair and then thinks fuck it and heads out just the way he is.
When Nick gets to the kitchen Harry looks up and for a split second his face is bright, smile happy. But then his expression clouds over and he drops his gaze, refusing to look Nick in the eye.
Well, that answers that question at least.
“Erm, morning,” Harry says. He sounds stilted and awkward. Nick wants to die. “I’m going to make tea, would you like a cuppa?”
“That’d be nice, thanks,” Nick says. He twists his hands together and makes a move to sit at the table. He should still be helping Harry though, so he moves to the counter just as Harry turns to walk to the table and they bump into each other, Nick’s hands going up automatically to steady Harry on his feet.
“Sorry,” Harry mumbles. “Clumsy.”
“No, it was me,” Nick says back. “I’m sorry.”
Harry is staring so intently past Nick’s shoulder that Nick almost wants to shake him. If he were in any better of a mood he’d wiggle his fingers in front of Harry’s face and make some kind of foolish comment about Nick being right here, thanks so much, any time you’d like to look at me that’d be fine. He’s not in a better mood, though - nothing about this morning is going any sort of way Nick would like - so he just lets Harry stand there, staring past Nick as if Nick doesn’t exist.
“Fuck, Nick,” Harry says.
Nick shakes his head though and cuts him off. “No, wait, let me go first.”
Harry finally turns to look at him, but for once Nick can’t read anything in Harry’s eyes.
“Harry, about, you know--”
“God, I know,” Harry interrupts. Nick goes to open his mouth, but Harry won’t let him. He physically puts his hand over Nick’s mouth and doesn’t let him speak. “Wait, just. Just let me talk, ok?” Nick nods when he realizes Harry’s not going to say anything else until Nick agrees to it.
“Last night was entirely my fault, all right?” Harry says, and that’s - that can’t be. Nick goes to shake his head but Harry won’t let him. He shushes Nick and continues. “I was upset and stupid and I just - having you here has been so great.”
Harry’s quiet for a second. Nick could probably interrupt if he had any idea what to say.
“I’m sorry I kissed you,” Harry says softly. “I’ve just wanted to for so long and you were right there and I figured, what the hell, right? Might as well give it a shot.” Harry laughs then, quiet and a little sad, and Nick is so, so confused. “I get that you don’t - it’s ok that you don’t feel that way about me though. I don’t mind, I just don’t want this to mess anything up between us, ok?”
Nick stares silently at Harry even after he stops talking. He can’t seem to make his mouth work, or his brain process what Harry’s saying to him. He feels his mouth open a little, but no sound comes out, and after a really long pause Harry shifts back, out of Nick’s space, and drops his head again. “Right. Ok. I get that you don’t want to--”
“I love you,” Nick says. He’s barely realized his mouth is moving, but there it is, spilling out all of his secrets to Harry, right here in the middle of his kitchen. He figures after all this time he owes it to himself to tell Harry how he feels. He probably owes it to Harry too. “I’m in love with you,” Nick says again, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “Can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.”
“Nick,” Harry breathes.
“I didn’t tell you at first because I figured you’d think it was stupid, and then it got to be so long that I couldn’t tell you,” Nick explains. “But that was so long ago and then you got hurt and I had to come here. I had to be with you. I just didn’t think it was what you wanted.”
“But I kissed you first!” Harry says, sounding breathless already. “Last night! I started it!”
“After knowing each other for a hundred years!”
“Well I don’t see you doing anything about it, now do I--”
Nick swallows the rest of whatever Harry was going to say by kissing him quiet. He tilts Harry’s head back and kisses him slowly, licking into his mouth and trying to commit every single detail to memory, from the way Harry moves under his hands to the sounds he makes deep in his throat when Nick kisses him.
“Nick, please,” Harry whines. He’s batting at Nick’s chest, tugging at the bottom of Nick’s shirt and Nick feels giddy and breathless. He laughs against Harry’s mouth.
“Please come back to my room,” Harry says. He glances down at his leg, which is still all wrapped up, and frowns. “I mean. I don’t know exactly what we can do, but--”
“Oh, popstar, I’m fairly sure we can figure it out,” Nick says, and takes Harry’s hand to lead him down the hall.
Nick’s had quite a bit of sex in his life. He’s had sex with friends and with people he loves and with people he’s just met and then hooked up with in the loo at a club ten minutes later. He’s snogged birds and blokes and fucked and been fucked and given and received more handies and blowies than many other people at this point of their life, and he’s always been happy. He’s always thought: this is good. This is great. It can’t possibly get better than this.
Today is most definitely better.
Today he’s just woken up and he’s already got a bruised and battered Harry Styles lying underneath him, panting and laughing as Nick tries to arrange himself around Harry’s many injuries and fails miserably. Today he’s got a Harry Styles who loves him - him! Nick Grimshaw! - and wants to try and have sex with him even if two thirds of his appendages are currently busted. Nick should probably have suggested they wait; he’s fairly clumsy and Harry’s a walking disaster at the best of times, but he couldn’t. He just - he wants this. He figures they can manage to be careful.
“Nick,” Harry laughs as he reaches up and tugs Nick down by the collar of his shirt. Nick goes easily, but the way he moves must make something in Harry’s arm hurt, because a second later Harry’s dropping his hands and hissing. Nick jerks back and hits his head on the headboard and then they’re both rolling around, moaning and clutching parts of their body in pain.
“Oh my god, maybe we should wait,” Nick says. He doesn’t want to, but he also doesn’t want Harry to die. “There’s no rush, Harry.”
“No rush my arse,” Harry mutters. He pushes himself up slowly, holding himself on his good arm and leaning over Nick where he’s propped up on the pillows. “I’ve been waiting for this for four bloody years.”
Nick’s breath trips hard in his chest. He knows what Harry means, is the problem. He’s been waiting just as long as Harry has.
This time when he goes to lean over Harry he moves slower, trying to be more careful and not jostle him around. Harry lets Nick move him, slides his sore arm out to the side and props a pillow under his bruised leg and blinks up at Nick expectantly. Nick kisses his way down Harry’s throat, feeling the scratch of stubble tickle his lips. He presses his fingers against Harry’s tattoos, drags his teeth along the lines around the butterfly and the laurels and just takes a second to think: finally.
Harry’s hard, his prick thick and curved against his belly. Nick curls his fingers around him and tugs gently and Harry whines, body laid out, skin flushed pink and gold.
“Nick, please,” Harry whines, and Nick smiles and takes Harry in his mouth.
Harry doesn’t last long, not that Nick expects him to, and when Harry tries to pull him off Nick just shakes his head and sucks harder, loving the way Harry fills his mouth, the desperate sounds he’s making as his hips rock up into the air. Nick can feel his own dick getting harder and he sucks Harry down, curling his fingers into Harry’s hip as Harry comes with a cry, his hands tangled in Nick’s hair.
“Nick, Nick, please, come up here,” Harry pants. Nick pulls back, and when he looks up he can see Harry’s eyes are wild, his cheeks flushed and skin damp with sweat. He yanks Nick up clumsily and Nick flails a bit trying to make sure not to bang into any of Harry’s injuries. Harry just shakes his head. “‘M’good, I’m fine, I don’t care, just--”
He pulls Nick in and kisses him, his tongue thick and hot in Nick’s mouth. Nick’s about five seconds away from coming, and he sticks his hand down the front of his pants and wanks himself off, his fingers going wet and hips stuttering as Harry keeps kissing him and kissing him and kissing him. When Nick comes it’s with Harry’s mouth on his and his arm around the back of Nick’s neck, holding him close and not letting him move back when he’s finished. Not even an inch.
Nick’s face is so close to Harry’s his eyes feel like they’re starting to cross so he pulls away, just enough to bring Harry into focus and smile at him. Harry’s watching him happily, a loose easy grin on his face.
“Hi,” Harry says.
“Hi yourself,” Nick says back.
“I’m really glad you came out to stay with me.”
Nick smiles and leans in to kiss Harry again. “Me too.”
Nick gets back to work on a Tuesday. He’d gotten in late the night before and it had taken forever to get everything settled, but once Fincham heard he was back there was no way in the world Nick wasn’t doing the show in the morning, so Nick just sucked it up and made his way in on less than three hours sleep.
Truth be told, he missed it. And also, it’s not as if it’s the first time he’s come in on less than three hours sleep, and it probably won’t be the last.
“Well well, looks who’s finally decided to stop traipsing all across America,” Fincham says when Nick opens the door to the studio. “Should I call a meeting? Did you need a new ID to get in the building? You’ve been gone for seventy years, maybe yours wasn’t quite working anymore.”
Nick grins at him as wide as he can. “Piss off, Finchy.”
“Ahh, look who it is!” Ian says. The fact that he’s in as early as the rest of them shows that he’s either missed Nick or is making sure to be around to witness as much of Finchy busting Nick’s balls as possible. Nick would like to pretend the first reason is true, but he’s fairly sure it’s the second.
“Good morning, Ian,” Nick chirps. “Have you missed me?”
“Not even a little bit,” Ian lies.
Nick starts his show and he’s a bit rusty at first - a few impromptu weeks off will do that too you - but after the first set of links he’s back in the swing and very nearly expects it when Fiona shoots him a look and says on air, “Grimmy, looks like we’ve got a caller for you.”
“For me?” Nick asks brightly. He’s smiling so wide he’s certain all of London can hear it across the airwaves. “I wonder whoever it might be.”
“Hello, Nicholas Grimshaw,” Harry says then, voice tinny and sharp over the radio. Nick can feel his cheeks go hot. He can tell Finchy and Ian and Fiona and the interns and every other bloody person in all of the BBC building at this moment in time are staring at him, but for once, honestly, he doesn’t much care.
“Hiya, Harry Styles,” Nick says brightly. “What brings you on the line this early in the morning.”
“Hmm,” Harry hums. Nick can picture it; Harry still lying in Nick’s bed with the mobile pressed against his ear. Nick’s sheets had been all rumpled when he left an hour before, and Harry had only grumbled in his sleep and then pulled the duvet tighter around him. Nick misses him so much he can barely breathe. “Got woken up early by some inconsiderate bloke outside making a load of noise at half five in the morning.”
“Wow,” Nick says, whistling softly. “How terrible for you.”
Nick’s mobile buzzes while Finchy starts asking Harry about the accident, and Nick pulls it out and finds a message from Harry.
I don’t mind when you wake me up in the morning as long as it’s for sex. remember that
Nick laughs so suddenly he nearly chokes. He pretends he’s coughing and opens the text window to answer back.
I’ll remember that
“So Harry, you were laid up in LA for a while then, yeah?” Matt is asking.
“Yeah,” Harry says. Nick’s mobile buzzes again. are you coming home right after the show?
“Was it all right getting around then?” Ian asks. “Did you have any help at home?”
I’ll be there as soon as I can, Nick texts back. miss you xxx
“It was a bit rough in the beginning,” Harry says. “But it got better and yeah, I did have help. Best help ever, actually.”
miss you too, Harry sends back. And then, before Nick even has a chance to respond he sends, I love you.
Nick’s chest feels so tight he’s afraid he might burst. He can’t remember the last time he was this happy. He wonders if he’s ever been this happy. Before he can think about it too hard, he leans into the microphone and interrupts whatever Matt is asking Harry about Niall.
“Hey, Harry,” Nick says.
Everyone goes quiet, and all Nick can think about is Harry getting hurt and Nick taking care of him and Harry kissing him and Nick kissing Harry back. He thinks about when they packed up all of their stuff in Harry’s LA house and the flight back and how Harry didn’t want to go anywhere else but Nick’s. He thinks about Harry putting his things in Nick’s bureau and Harry sticking his toothbrush in the cup on the sink in Nick’s bathroom and he thinks about Harry kissing him goodnight before they went to sleep last night and Harry kissing him good morning just a few hours ago.
“I’m really glad you’re home,” Nick says quietly.
Harry’s quiet for so long, but Nick knows it’s because Harry gets it, that he understands that Nick doesn’t just mean home in London, but that he means home home, like Nick’s home.
“Yeah,” Harry says, and even over the radio Nick can feel him smiling. “Yeah, me too.”