Louis stares at the five cards in his hands. He’s got a J, a Q, a 10, a K, and a 5. All he needs is to pick up an A, and Zayn and him are out of this fucking shithole.
“Chickening out, Tomlinson?” Max asks from across the table.
It’s five in the afternoon and Louis is sitting on a chair in a pub right by a crowded dock, God knows how many kilometers away from home. A giant bag filled with all of his belongings is resting at his feet, serving as a cruel reminder of how he ran away from home two days ago, taking Zayn with him.
It all started when his homophobic father walked in on him fucking Zayn into the couch, even though he wasn’t supposed to be home until the next day. He started flipping shit and yelling, and as soon as his mother got home she joined in.
They reminded Louis what a failure he was; dropping out of school at seventeen because of his grades, being 22 and still living with his parents, doing nothing except of smoking and sleeping all day, and on top of that, being gay, a shame to his family.
So the logical decision after that whole chaotic screaming session was for Louis to pack up his things, call Zayn to tell him what he was planning on doing, and then leave home.
He didn’t have any money. Money had always been tight around the house even though he was an only child, but he couldn’t be bothered. After all the shouting and the bad parenting, his father deserved to be robbed of his lifetime savings.
Louis found five thousand pounds in cash in his sock drawer (dumbest place to hide a huge amount of money, honestly - and they called Louis an idiot), and made a dash for the door before he could be stopped.
Zayn met him at the bus stop a few minutes away from Louis’ house, with a bag slung over his shoulder and a cigarette between his teeth.
“What are we doing?” he asked Louis when they got on the first bus that led them to the train station.
“For how long?”
“For you, the Easter holidays. For me, I don’t know.”
Louis liked Zayn. He’s always liked him; from the moment they met on the swings in the schoolyard when they were five, up until now. Their friendship was the only thing Louis had going for him at the moment - everything else was falling apart. He had no future, no siblings to look out for, and no money to actually do something he liked.
Zayn, on the other hand, was on his Easter holidays from the art school he got into, and sometimes Louis would go sleep at his place if things got too much at his house. This time, however, he wanted to do something big. Well, not really. He wanted to be spontaneous, just do whatever he feels like and see where it leads him. He’s always trusted his instincts.
“Got any money on you?” Zayn asked him as they walked over to buy two tickets for the soonest train that would lead them towards the seaside.
“Five thousand. You?”
Louis nodded and bought tickets for the both of them.
They didn’t get off the train until the last station, which was coincidentally in Canvey Island, right by the sea as Louis had hoped.
They checked into a motel right by the beach and spent two weeks there, living off of junk food and weed, occasionally going out to the beach at night.
The loud ship horn startled Louis out of his reminiscing, making him aware that Max, Tom, and Zayn were staring at him.
“Me? Chicken out? Never.” He says. “All in.”
“What? You can’t bet everything we have left! How are we going to get home?” Zayn says when he sees Louis pushing a bound stack of 4500 quid in the middle, together with his credit card.
“When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Louis tells him, even though his heart is beating out of his chest. If he doesn’t pick up an Ace, he’s screwed. Both of them are screwed. And it would all be Louis’ fault, just another thing to add to his list of endless failures.
There are ten thousand pounds on the table right now, a credit card that has about that amount on it, a pack containing five grams of weed, and two third class tickets for the Oasis Of The Seas.
Tom picks up a new card and smirks, placing all five of them on the table.
Louis’ heart stops as he takes a new card and lets his fiver go.
“Well?” Zayn asks, extremely anxious as Louis sets his cards down.
“I’m sorry.” He tells Zayn, who looks like he’s been hit by a truck.
Max and Tom start cheering and high fiving as they collect everything there is on the table in a small bag.
“I can’t believe I was beaten by a straight flush. Can you believe the irony?” Louis asks Zayn as they make their way out of the pub with their heavy bags in hand. The dock is crowded, filled with people who are waiting for the ship to depart on its first ever two-week cruise from Europe all the way to America, and then back to Europe.
“Do you think now’s the time for jokes? We’re fuckin’ broke Louis, you bet everything we had and now we have nothing. How are we supposed to get home? Do you even realize how fucked we are? I should’ve never listened to you-“
“Shhh.” Louis says and suddenly drops to his knees right by the window.
“Shut up and get down.”
“What are you doing?” Zayn whisper-yells when he sees Louis throwing a look inside.
“We’re not going to leave here empty handed.”
“You’re not planning on actually stealing that bag are you? They’re not going to let it out of their sight.”
“Yes, they will. Max is going to the bathroom soon, I made sure to buy him enough beers. And they need to leave soon because the ship leaves in five minutes.”
Louis hands him his bag just as he sees Max getting up and going to the bathroom.
“Go and wait for me by the entrance of the ship.”
“There’s a long queue- I don’t think we’ll make it.” Zayn tells him, but grabs the bag nonetheless.
“Run there, I’ll be with you soon.”
“Louis- be careful. You don’t have to do this, we can figure things out-“
“Trust me on this, okay? Just trust me.”
Zayn grips into their bags before he starts running through the mass of people towards the entrance to get in line. Louis turns his head back to the window and smiles to himself when he sees Tom getting up from the table to go and pay the bill.
That’s his cue, so he gets up quickly and runs back into the pub. He passes the table quickly, grabs the heavy bag filled with cash and the two tickets, before he’s back out again, running like his life depends on it.
He accidentally pushes a rich lady on the ground and stumbles over her small dog.
He finds Zayn by the entrance, trying to negotiate with the two security guards that his friend is just about to arrive.
“I’m here. I’m here.” He says, out of breath, as he takes the two tickets out of the bag and hands them to them.
“Have you been through the inspection queue?” the security guard asks, and Louis nods, having no idea what it is.
“Okay then, come aboard, we don’t have much time!”
Louis throws a smirk towards Zayn and they both hurry up towards the entrance. The two guards close the doors behind them and they’re officially in.
They manage to get out on the main deck just as the final horn is heard, and everyone begins to wave to the people on the dock.
“I can’t believe this!” Zayn screams over the noise and Louis laughs, gripping into the railing and waving to no one in particular.
“Who are you waving at?”
“I don’t know!”
He sees Max and Tom yelling something at them from the edge of the dock, so both Louis and Zayn hold up their middle fingers as the ship begins to move.
“What a bunch of losers.” Louis laughs once the crowd on the deck has cleared out, probably in search for their rooms.
“This is fucking amazing.” he breathes as they enter the lobby filled with people that had already settled in. They ask for a key at the reception, and no one asks for any kind of ID since they’re assumed to have gone through the identification queue or whatever that was.
The third class quarters are on the third and fourth decks, and their room, number 204, is on the third.
Louis tries to unlock the door but it’s already open. The room is small, and it has two bunk beds. There is a tiny, round window on the opposite wall, and a small toilet in the corner.
“Is third class supposed to be this shitty?” Louis asks as he sets his bag on the top bunk.
They hear a toilet flushing and after a few seconds, a brown-haired guy with huge biceps, wearing nothing but a tank top and swimming trunks comes out.
“This isn’t even third class, mate. Fourth maybe. This is how they treat their staff apparently.” He says as he dries his hands off on a towel.
“Wait, what?” Louis asks, confused. “Does that mean we have to be working all the time?”
“Kind of. Depends on what job you have? I’m Liam by the way.”
“I’m Louis, and this is Zayn. What jobs are you talkin’ about? Did we forget something?”
Liam looks at them confused. Tom and Max must’ve gotten a job and forgot to mention it. Fucking bastards.
“Well, you must be a waiter, since Niall and I are both waiters.”
Louis nods, not really interested in the subject anymore. He just wants to kick back and light up a joint with Zayn.
“How much are we getting paid?” Zayn asks as Liam opens his suitcase and looks for something through it.
“Two hundred a week.”
Louis’ eyes widen at that, and he smirks, exchanging looks with Zayn. Maybe working a few hours a day won’t be that bad after all.
When Harry woke up that Friday morning, he wished he hadn’t. He knew that today was the day he and his whole family, together with the Swifts, were supposed to embark on a two week cruise on the biggest ship in the world, built by Taylor’s (his soon-to-become wife) father.
To say he hates his life is an understatement. He lives in a world where money is above all, and it’s apparently the nineteenth century all over again, since his father decided to get him and Taylor together. He was forced into a relationship with her ever since he was sixteen, three years ago, and now they’re supposed to be getting married in a week, in New York, where the ship is supposed to dock.
Their limousine stops in the parking lot right by the giant ship that casts a huge shadow over everything within a close distance.
He steps out of it, then helps Taylor because his father is watching closely.
Like she can’t get out of a fucking limousine on her own.
A few men take their luggage and they’re escorted to the main entrance of the ship.
“It doesn’t look that big.” He mumbles and Mr. Swift pats his shoulder.
“I’m afraid you’re wrong, son. This is proven to be the biggest ship at the moment. I know it, I built it myself.”
“With your bare hands!” Harry says sarcastically.
“Harry!” his mother exclaims.
“Not quite, but with my own money. This is an unsinkable ship. God himself could not sink this ship.”
Harry wants to roll his eyes so bad they roll out of his head. But he doesn’t. He gives them a fake smile and walks towards the entrance, wishing that he could just drown himself in the water below.
They’re shown to their first class luxury suite that he and his fiancée are going to share for the next two weeks. He sits down on the king sized bed in the bedroom while Taylor unpacks her stuff and begins talking about how great her father’s ship is, and thinks back to where it all went wrong.
He was sixteen when his parents walked in on him snogging his best friend Nick, who was a few years older in his first year of Uni. They were kissing on the couch in the living room and his parents weren’t supposed to be home from the gala they were attending until hours later, but the next thing he heard were his mother’s screams.
They forbid him to see Nick again and signed him up for a ‘cleansing’ program at their church, where all he was taught was that being gay is just a phase, and that everyone who gets involved with the same sex goes to hell.
He pretended that the program worked, but his parents were too scared to risk it, so they introduced him to Taylor, the daughter of his father’s business partner and best friend. It wasn’t long until their parents talked about the idea of marriage, and two years later they already arranged a wedding.
Harry found it ridiculous; it was 2015 for Christ’s sake, not the 70s. But he sucked it all up and faked a smile, even though inside he was dying.
He gets up from the bed and takes off his uncomfortable blazer.
“Where are you going? We’re getting lunch on the upper deck soon.” Taylor tells him as she holds up a designer dress.
“I’m just going to take some fresh air. I’ll meet you there.”
She smiles, revealing her perfect white teeth, and kisses him on the lips. He doesn’t even close his eyes, because kissing her feels like a duty, and the thought of doing this for the rest of his life kills him inside.
Louis and Zayn decide to go explore the upper decks for a bit before they have their first staff meeting in the conference room, so they leave Liam behind as they walk towards the elevator.
“Can you believe those fuckers failed to mention that we have to work?” Louis huffs.
“They actually told us that, but you were too busy yelling at the bartender to bring you another beer to actually pay attention. But it’s better like this anyway, we’re gettin’ out of here with four hundred quid.”
Louis shrugs and steps out of the elevator as soon as the door opens to reveal a short hallway that leads outside.
“Fuck me.” He breathes when he sees the giant deck. There’s a hole right in the middle of it that leads all the way down to the first deck. There’s a tennis court on the left and a mini golf course on the right, and a huge pool right at the end.
They go and sit down on a lounge chair by the pool, and Louis leans back, closing his eyes.
“Would you like something to drink?” someone asks, so he opens his eyes and stares at the brunette girl in front of him. Her nametag reads ‘Eleanor’ and she’s kindly smiling down at him.
“Can I get a beer?” he asks. “How much is it?”
She laughs at that. “It’s all inclusive.”
“Oh. Then I’ll have two beers, please.”
“Three.” Zayn adds.
“Make them four.” Someone with an Irish accent says and Eleanor nods, disappearing.
Louis turns to look at the man who ordered last. He’s skinny, with dyed dirty blond hair and has a pair of knockoff RayBans on his nose.
“Fuckin’ amazing this whole all inclusive system, eh? Couldn’t believe me ears and eyes when I saw the buffet in the kitchen. Too bad we’re allowed to eat only after the guests. I’m Niall, by the way.”
Niall holds out his hand for the both of them to shake.
“Niall from room 204?”
“I’m Louis and this is Zayn. But to anyone who asks, we’re Max and Tom.”
Niall laughs and sits down on the lounge chair next to them, pulling out a pack of Marlboro.
“Can I have one?” Louis asks as soon as he sees them. “Forgot mine in the bag.”
He takes one after Niall assures him it’s okay, and gives one to Zayn too. Once all the cigarettes are lit up, Zayn starts telling Niall about how they managed to get on this cruise, and Louis buts in occasionally with snarky remarks.
He then leans back against the lounge chair and looks up at the sun. His eyes trail down and settle on a slender figure that walks up all the way to the railing and stops.
It’s a boy, who can’t be older than 18, and he’s wearing a navy blue blazer and a white button up that matches his khakis. His curls are swooped into a fringe and he looks lost, like he’d be anywhere but on this ship.
Niall notices that Louis has zoned out of their conversation, so he looks up and shakes his head when he sees who Louis is looking at.
“Good luck with that, mate. The only reason those first class residents would ever talk to us would be in case the ship was sinking and we had the last available boat.”
Louis frowns but keeps looking. He’s attracted to the boy, obviously. He’s always had a thing for more innocent looking guys.
A blonde girl dressed up in a fancy dress walks up to him and places her hand on his arm, obviously making him uncomfortable. She tells him something and the boy sighs, before he looks down. He accidentally catches Louis’ eye for a moment, and his gaze lingers on his tattooed arms for a bit too long, before he turns around and follows the girl back inside.
“Did you see that blonde girl up there?” Niall asks him, breaking Louis out of his stare.
“Her dad owns the ship. People say it’s unsinkable, but that’s utter shite.”
“So you’re saying we’re going to die if we hit a rock?” Louis jokes.
“Maybe.” Niall shrugs and takes another drag from his cigarette.
Zayn shakes his head and throws Louis an amused look. Louis doesn’t worry about it though, these types of tragedies only happen in movies.
It’s around six in the evening when Liam finally tells them that they have to go to the conference room for some short instructions and to get their work uniforms. The last thing Louis wants to do is to go and actually work, to be quite honest.
Tom and Max failed to mention that their ticket wasn’t actually a ticket they paid for; it was just a pass that identified them so they could get on the ship and work two shifts a day.
There are about fifty people gathered in the conference room, waiting for some sort of instruction from the boss that hasn’t showed up yet.
“Is this the whole staff?” Louis asks Niall as they sit down in the very back.
“Nah. Each staff group had different meetings, ours is the last since we start the latest.”
“So everyone in here is a waiter?”
Niall nods and is about to say something, but a thirty-year-old man who steps into the room interrupts him. The man stops in front of the room where everyone can see him and the chatter quiets down.
“Hello, everyone. For those who don’t know, my name is Ben Winston and I’ll be in charge of the restaurant as well as the lot of you.”
Ben points to a long table on the side that probably used to be in the middle of the room. “On that table you have individual name tags and your custom made uniforms, as well as your weekly shift schedule. Does anyone have any questions?”
Louis holds his hand up.
“What happens if we can’t come into work one day?”
“You are allowed to have sick days, but can’t ditch work under any other circumstances. If I find out you skipped work just for ‘fun’, you’ll be fired and forced to get off the ship at the next stop.”
Louis rolls his eyes and already makes up excuses for not going to work if he doesn’t feel like it. Once Ben dismisses them, everyone gets up from their seats and goes to find their uniforms and schedule.
“Don’t forget that our names are Tom and Max, yeah?” Zayn whispers to him as they look for their nametags.
They eventually find them and the uniforms.
“Why do I get the Max nametag?” Zayn pouts.
“Because I look like a Tom, not like a Max.”
Louis takes Tom’s things and takes a look at their schedule.
“Fuck, our next shift is in half an hour.”
“Better get going then.” Liam says and Louis hates everything already. This definitely wasn’t his idea of fun.
They start changing as soon as they get back to their rooms, and Louis isn’t surprised at all to see that Tom’s pants are way too long for his short legs. He rolls up the cuffs so they’re over his ankles and then puts his Vans back on.
Ten minutes later they leave their room and Liam shows them the way to the restaurant since he’s been a waiter on the cruise for two years now.
The restaurant is divided in two giant rooms, one where you can go and put on your plate whatever you want, and one where you order off a menu. Louis realizes that the second room is filled with the first class residents who probably think they’re better than everyone else on the ship.
“Where am I supposed to go?” Louis asks Liam as he looks down at his schedule.
Liam takes a look at the sheet of paper.
“It says R2, T20-23. Which means that you’re in the second room and you’re serving the tables 20, 21, 22, and 23.” Liam explains.
Zayn has the tables from 24 to 27, so they walk together to the second kitchen where they pick up their notepads and pens.
“I’m probably going to drop a few plates.” Louis laughs to hide the fact that he’s actually nervous. He’s never worked in his entire life, another thing his parents resented him for. Zayn, on the other hand, has worked at restaurants ever since he was sixteen and legally allowed to work.
“Probably.” Zayn agrees.
“This was the part where you’d assure me that I’ll do a great job.”
“You’ll do a great job, babe.”
Louis rolls his eyes but smiles when Zayn pecks his cheek and exits the kitchen to get to work, notepad and pen in hand. Louis watches him as he approaches a large round table for eight.
He gives himself a mental pep talk, reminding himself that these people are the ones that will sign his paycheck and that he probably won’t ever see them again.
He takes the order from the first three tables and it’s so hard to try and hold himself back from rolling his eyes at the ridiculous foods these people order.
Once he places the order from table 22 on the counter by the kitchen, he turns around and heads over to table 23.
“Hello, I’m Lo- I mean Tom, and I’ll be your waiter for tonight.” He says, plastering a fake smile without looking up from his notepad.
When no one says anything, he looks up and his eyes immediately fall on the boy he saw up on the deck earlier. He’s wearing the same blazer Louis saw him in, but with a different shirt. His head is buried in the giant menu so Louis just stares at the curls that are peaking out.
A lady with a ridiculous sparkly dress, who begins to tell him her order, interrupts his stare. By the time everyone besides the boy has ordered, Louis has filled two pages with his tiny, scribbled writing. He has no idea how he’ll manage to bring out the food.
“Harry, your order?” the same lady in the sparkly dress asks, and Louis thinks that she must be Harry’s mother.
The boy finally looks up from the menu and licks his lips when he makes eye contact with Louis. His eyes are empty but he’s smiling and Louis can’t help but stare at his lips as he talks, his hand working on its own accord.
Harry doesn’t order much, just a simple portion of mozzarella with tomatoes and a glass of red wine. His mother scolds him when he takes out a cigarette and the blonde girl Louis saw on the deck earlier takes it out of his mouth. It seems like the women at the table like to order him around and Louis doesn’t like that at all.
“Will that be all?” he asks through gritted teeth.
“Yes.” A buffy man answers.
Louis turns around at that and leaves, eyes rolling out of their sockets.
Fucking rich people, he thinks as he sets his last order on the counter.
Zayn joined him soon enough, obviously just as annoyed as Louis.
“Are these people fuckin’ serious? Someone ordered a bottle of champagne that costs more than my house.”
Louis shakes his head and doesn’t even get to lean against the counter because someone is already setting three plates filled with food for him to take to the first table.
“Don’t drop them!” Zayn reminds him and Louis carefully takes two plates in his hands, and places the third one on his forearm.
He doesn’t drop them on his way over to the table, and that’s probably his most important achievement ever.
The food for his last table is only ready thirty minutes later, so he doesn’t have any excuse of going over there after he brings them their drinks.
He watches Harry from afar as he drinks his glass of wine in three large gulps, and then raises his hand at Louis, probably to ask for another glass.
“Can I get another glass of wine, please?”
Louis nods and gives him a smile, which makes Harry confused. He must be asking himself why Louis is being nice to him without a reason, since the people at his table probably aren’t nice unless they want something.
Harry finishes his food in no time and asks for another glass of wine, which earns him a scold from the blonde girl next to him.
“You shouldn’t drink this much.” She tells him and Louis purposefully fills the glass to the brim as he pours it over Harry’s shoulder.
“Thank you.” The boy says and Louis smiles.
“Stop flirting with the patrons.” Zayn tells him when he gets back to the kitchen.
“I’m not flirting with anyone.”
Zayn shoots him a knowing look and Louis innocently pouts, shrugging.
“I wouldn’t cheat on you, bro.”
At that Zayn’s face softens and he pulls Louis into his side.
“I am in no mood to clean up after them.” Louis lets Zayn know an hour later when everyone is done with their food and they have to bring the deserts out.
He pours the last reminder of the wine bottle in the blonde girls’ glass at her request, and then starts to take the empty plates to the kitchen.
It’s half past nine when the entire restaurant clears out and Louis can finally take off his ridiculous apron. Louis is surprised to see that everyone is already in their rooms, since he doesn’t see anyone on the upper decks on their way back, around ten.
When they get back to third class, however, he can hear music coming from God knows where, and countless shouts and laughs.
There is a party going on in their hallway, and every door is opened. There is smoke everywhere (Louis isn’t sure if it’s weed or cigarettes - probably both), and there are people crowding up the hallway, drunkenly dancing.
“This is fucking sick!” Zayn yells at him over the music as they reach their room to get dressed in some normal clothes.
Niall is snogging some girl on his bed and Liam is nowhere to be seen, so Louis quickly changes into a pair of skinny jeans, a white tank top, and a black jacket. He pulls a beanie over his head since it’s cold outside, which is ridiculous since it’s already April - Louis hates the cold.
“Where are you going?” Zayn asks him when he sees Louis grabbing his cigarette pack and a lighter.
“Out for a smoke. Come with me.”
“I think I’m gonna stay here and roll a spliff.”
“Roll one for me too, I’ll be back in ten.” He asks Zayn, who nods.
On his way out, Louis whistles at Niall who is now shirtless under the girl. It doesn’t take long for him to find the elevator and press the top button that would lead him right on the highest deck. He knows it’s first class, but he can’t be bothered since no one is out there at this hour anyway.
When the elevator opens, he’s surprised to see Liam standing there, shirtless with his hair disheveled, and a smile on his lips.
“Alright mate?” Louis asks and Liam gulps but nods nonetheless. “Care for a smoke?”
Liam shakes his head. “No, thanks, I’d better get back to our room before I freeze my balls off.”
“Where were you?”
There’s a suggestive tone in Louis’ voice that Liam catches and grins.
“I’ll tell you some other time.”
Louis watches him get in the elevator and press the button for their floor.
“See you.” He mumbles.
He then turns around and starts walking towards the back of the ship, where he finds a bench to lay down on, and lights up his fag.