Reality TV is weird.
It’s one of Louis’s first real thoughts beyond the excitement fizzing in his brain as he rides a speed boat headed to some beach in Panama along with five relative strangers. His mom thinks he’s crazy, but this is just the kind of challenge that Louis lives for, which is probably why he agreed to do it twice.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s getting a second chance at a million dollars; and this time, Louis is going to win it all.
When he had been approached by the producers of Survivor to be a part of their first ever All-Stars season, Louis hadn’t hesitated even a full second before accepting. His last outing had been a bit of a disappointment — he’d been painted as a villain and voted out shortly after the merge — so this is his shot at redemption.
He’d watched and rewatched his previous season, identifying his shortcomings and creating a series of strategies to compensate. He’d put himself through physical training, which included — but was not limited to — increasing his weekly trips to the gym, learning how to tie and untie knots, and practicing making fire. Sitting on the speed boat now, he is as prepared as anyone could be for thirty-nine days with little food and water and a whole bunch of strangers.
Louis adjusts his signature snapback and surreptitiously assesses his competition. Louis from St. Louis in his Cardinals cap had been an enduring image his season, so much so that the hat had become associated with ‘season villain.’ When Louis accepted a role on this season, the producers insisted that he keep the same one so that fans would be able to recognize him. Louis knew they were trying to set him up to be a villain again, but he honestly hadn’t cared. He likes his snapback.
His eyes skim over the others in the boat, sizing each of them up because for this intro they’d already been split up into their tribes, which means the losers he’s sitting next to now are the five people he’ll be stuck with for the first half of the game. And his game relies on one of them being a strong ally.
As Louis looks at the people around him, he inwardly sighs. The pickings are slim.
Part of the twist of this season is that all the contestants have seen each other play. Louis knows this is going to be a huge detriment to him; all the goody two-shoes players won’t want to deal with him, and the smarter players will be wary of him. He needs an ally who will make him seem more approachable.
Initially, the plan had been to align with a girl early on in the game, but looking at the women on his tribe, he doesn’t think a single one of them would fit his strategy.
Taylor is infamous for playing the innocent girl who let the big men of her alliance 'carry' her to the final five and then demolished them in the final vote. She already had a million dollars to her name. Why she had chosen to come out again is beyond Louis, but he does know that aligning with her would be a mistake. Everyone will be gunning for previous winners from the get-go. She’ll be an easy vote before the merge.
Caroline Flack is a slightly older woman whose only real memorable game play was her big mouth. She’d spilled the beans on one of her secret alliances and it had cost her the game. Maybe she’s learned from that mistake, but Louis isn’t willing to bet his game on it.
Jesy could a competitive choice choice for an ally, but Louis’s a bit scared of her. She’d been a total beast in challenges, but her temper had been her eventual downfall. If Louis’s honest with himself, the real issue he has with Jesy is that they’re just too similar. The last thing he needs in an alliance is another personality like his. It’d be a disaster waiting to happen.
So that leaves the two other men.
Niall is a viable option. He’d played his season in Africa and was known as the ‘likeable’ one. He had been easygoing if not particularly brilliant in challenges, but Louis could compensate for that. He can see them getting along well enough.
And then there’s the last member of his tribe. Louis darts a glance at Harry and has to suppress his urge to laugh.
Harry Styles. His name is about the extent of what Louis knows about this particular member of his tribe. He casts his memory back through all the seasons of Survivor he’d watched to prepare himself, and he thinks Harry might’ve been in the second season. Beyond that, Harry hadn’t been particularly memorable, except for being pretty and having an odd taste in survival clothing.
Harry hadn’t disappointed his legacy. He’s clad in a pair of bright yellow swim trunks that show off his absurdly long legs and an almost completely unbuttoned, sheer(?!) pink floral shirt. His brown curls are longer than Louis remembers them being, and tied up on his head with an olive green scarf.
He looks like someone headed for a luxury poolside vacation, not a deserted beach. It’s utterly ridiculous, especially since they’re only allowed to bring two sets of clothes with them. Louis doesn’t even want to know what else Harry has in his bag.
Fashion choices aside, aligning with Harry might be dangerous since Louis can hardly remember him. But that might work in his favor: If Louis can’t remember Harry, then the rest of the players won’t either. Harry’s an unknown element, and that could be a valuable asset. If this giraffe-like flower child can make it past Day 4, of course.
Harry suddenly turns his head and catches Louis watching him. Oh, Louis thinks. He doesn’t look away like Louis expects him to, but instead raises his eyebrows challengingly, almost like he heard Louis’s entire inner-monologue and is daring Louis to say it to his face. Louis is surprised when his first instinct is to break eye contact, which is just not on. He’s the alpha male around here.
To prove it, he stares right back while his lips quirk upward, unbidden. And suddenly, like watching one of those sped-up motion capture videos of a flower opening its petals, a full-blown dimpled smile blooms on Harry’s face. Fuck.
Louis forces himself to look away — doesn’t want to reveal too much. They may be forbidden to talk while they’re on the speedboat, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t already forming opinions of each other. He can already feel Taylor’s eyes like laser beams in between his shoulder blades.
So Harry might be a good choice for his ally. Maybe.
Louis needs to make these kinds of decisions logically. Sure, it’d be nice to compete with someone interesting — someone he could be friends with — even if he knows it’ll only be a temporary thing. But there’s one thing Louis knows for sure: no one has ever won Survivor by making friends.
“All-Star Survivor is gonna be so cut throat it’s not even funny. Nobody trusts anybody. Nobody. Nobody trusts anybody. Do you understand?” - Tommo, Chapera
Harry is going to make so many friends.
They’ve just landed on their beach and Harry’s already initiated a hug with Taylor and a weirdly macho high-five with a confused Louis.
For Harry, being on Survivor again is more about the experience than anything else. This season his competitors are people who’ve played the game before and have a second chance to win, which means it’s going to be more cutthroat than ever. He knows he’s not likely to win, and he’s not going to lose his mind or sense of self trying. He just wants to get as far as he can playing the game on his terms.
Worst comes to worst, he’ll meet some interesting people, get voted off, and spend the remainder of the show on an all-expenses-paid cruise. It’s win-win really, regardless of whether or not he manages to leave with a million dollars in his pocket.
He won’t lie, though. Leaving with a million dollars would be really, really nice.
As they make their way up the beach, Niall bumps shoulders with him. “So what’s with the get-up, bro?”
Harry glances over at Niall, who looks like he walked straight out of a frat house barbecue with his cargo shorts, white muscle tank, and black wayfarers, and shrugs. “Wanna get a nice tan.”
He doesn’t know what he’s expecting, but Niall just nods slowly, like tanning is a reasonable thing to prioritize right after being dumped on a deserted beach with no food or shelter to speak of. “Fair enough.”
Harry beams at him. They’re going to get along swimmingly.
“Tanning’s great and all, but you could’ve added a little bit of red to this trophy husband ensemble you’ve got goin’ on. Where’s your tribe spirit?” A reedy voice says from behind them.
Harry looks over his shoulder and sees that the voice belongs to Louis ‘Tommo’ Tomlinson, probably the most well-known Survivor player on their tribe other than Taylor. Certainly the most controversial.
Louis is scruffier than Harry remembers — his hair is longer, curling a bit around his ears, and there’s stubble lining his jaw that hadn’t been there until several days into his season — but his trademark smirk is crooked as always.
He’s dressed in mesh shorts and a black tank, shoulders somehow already bronzing from the sun that’s been beating down on them since the speedboat. The only red in his outfit is on the writing and bill of his infamous snapback, which as fate (or the producers — probably the producers) would have it, is their tribe color.
“Well, Lewis, some of us didn’t get our color preferences factored into our tribe placement.”
Louis is quiet for a beat, blinking at him once before letting out some sort of delighted cackle, eyes crinkling up with it. “They couldn’t have put me on any other tribe, honestly.”
Harry doesn’t have time to reply because they’ve reached their tribe flag, which declares them CHAPERA. He has no idea how to pronounce that. He’ll have to wait until he hears Jeff say it so he doesn’t make a fool of himself.
Jesy comes up beside them and picks up the hollow tube that’s tied to the flagpole. “Looks like they left us a present.”
Harry hopes it’s flint or a clue to help them find water. He’s already started sweating and it’s not even midday, so it’s only going to get hotter. Every hour without clean drinking water is an hour closer to dehydration.
Taylor reads over Jesy’s shoulder as she unrolls the parchment. “It’s a map to water.”
“Thank god!” Caroline says. “We can bring it back to camp with this.” She nudges her foot against a black pot that’s resting against the foot of the flagpole before stretching out on the sand.
“And hack down some firewood while we’re at it.” Louis reaches to take the machete that’s sticking out of the pot like some sort of ungainly flower from a vase, but Taylor beats him to it, swiping it away before he can get a hand on it.
Harry expects him to say something, but Louis just snorts derisively, rolling his eyes heavenward as he crouches to pick up the pot. Taylor’s too busy consulting the map with Jesy to notice.
“We need to go this way,” she says firmly, turning to the left and starting toward the jungle.
Most of the others follow her in an unspoken agreement that they should all stick together for their first task in the game, but Harry stays to wait for Caroline.
She groans but allows him to pull her onto her feet. “Ugh, I hate hiking,” she says, brushing sand off herself primly.
Harry loops an arm with hers despite the heat. “Shouldn’t be too much of a hike, I think,” he says. “But we can be hiking buddies, it’ll be fun. I love your bathing suit cover up, where’d you get it?”
Of course, he’d spoken too soon. An hour later they’re wandering aimlessly.
Taylor had successfully led them to the second marker, but for the last three-quarters of an hour she’s been changing her mind about which way they need to go every few minutes, shutting down anyone who reads the map differently than her.
Harry had spent the first half-hour chatting happily with Caroline, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up small talk when it looks like they might not find water anytime soon. He’s dripping with sweat, and had to shed his scarf only a few minutes into their trek in favor of pulling his hair into a bun. The tribe has lapsed into a tense silence, interrupted only by Taylor muttering to herself and barking directions.
Finally, Niall heaves out a sigh and turns down a completely different trail. “That’s it. I’m just gonna go this way. Maybe we’ll have better luck if we split up.”
The group has come to a halt. Caroline looks completely uninterested, Taylor murderous, and Jesy skeptical, but Louis has already moved to follow Niall.
Harry sighs. “Guys, we need to stick together. Taylor’s the only one with a map. What if you can’t find your way back to the beach?”
“I think it makes more sense,” Niall says calmly. His body language isn’t aggressive, but he’s standing his ground and addressing Taylor unflinchingly. “Following the map hasn’t helped us, so we should try a different strategy. There’s a camera crew following us, it’s not like they’re gonna let us get stuck out here forever.” Niall casually breaks the unspoken rule of never addressing the camera crew without a second thought. Harry doesn’t know if he’s brave or he just doesn’t care.
Taylor growls in frustration. “We need to follow the map.”
Harry glances around to gauge Louis and Jesy’s reactions, since from what he knows they’re the two most likely to start a fight. They’re both visibly frustrated: Louis’s knuckles are white where he’s clutching the pot, and Jesy looks like she’s holding back a gravity-defying eye roll, but neither of them seem like they’re going to say anything.
Since they’re at a stand-off, Harry coughs once into his fist before speaking up, voice deliberately placating. “Maybe we should just try going Niall’s way, and like. If that doesn’t work, we can head back to the second marker? Start over.”
Taylor throws her hands up. “Fine, whatever.” She stomps after Niall, the others trailing behind her.
Not five minutes later, Harry hears Niall’s excited shouts up ahead and picks up his pace. He lets out a delighted sound at the sight of the well, which quickly turns to disgust when he sees the cloudy water inside.
“It looks like milk,” Caroline says, her nose wrinkled.
Niall reaches for the coconut shell floating in the water anyway, but suddenly Louis is dropping the pot and darting in to knock the shell away before Niall can get the water to his mouth. “Does that look drinkable to you? We need to boil it first, don’t be an idiot.”
Apparently Louis has almost reached his limit in playing nice. Niall shrugs and lets it go, though he looks like he’d probably drink it anyway if Louis weren’t actively preventing him.
Taylor makes a show of retrieving the pot and filling it in a huff, but before she can turn to start back toward the beach Caroline sinks against a tree trunk, loudly declaring that they need to take a break. Harry quietly agrees; he can feel the beginnings of a sunburn on the bridge of his nose, and his head is starting to pound from the sun and dehydration.
But to be able to drink this water they need to make a fire, and they’re losing daylight. So instead of joining Caroline, he follows Taylor. “C’mon, Caroline. We all need to drink some water. Then we can rest. Promise.”
“I agree with Legs,” Louis says, moving to follow Harry and Taylor just as Caroline lets out a dramatic “Thank you!”
A second later she realizes Louis hadn’t been talking about her and makes a squawking disgruntled sound as she struggles to her feet. “Hey!”
Jesy bursts out laughing. It’s the first time she’d so much as smiled all day.
“I’m the one with the great legs,” Caroline says, catching up with Louis to smack him on the arm. “Harry can’t be Legs!”
Louis looks pointedly at Harry’s legs then back at Caroline, eyebrows raised. “Keep tellin’ yourself that, babe.”
As a rule, Harry doesn’t blush easily, but the compliment is so unexpected that he can’t help it. He hopes it’ll be passed off as sunburn. “Don’t listen to him, Caroline. If anyone here is Legs, it’s definitely you.”
The mood has successfully lifted now that they’re a step closer to having water and actually know where they’re going, so the walk back to the beach passes quickly. They agree that once they get back to the beach their two priorities should be making a fire and building a shelter. Taylor’s the only one still upset, but for the time being she takes her aggression out on the trees she’s marking with the machete so they’ll have a path to follow back to the well.
As soon as they get back to the beach, Niall makes a grand sweeping gesture toward the seemingly endless stretch of sand. “Where do ya wanna make camp, ladies and gents?”
“We need to see if we can find a big tree to be our base,” Louis says, an air of authority to his voice that’s almost surprising after watching him spend the last ten minutes trying to walk and wrestle Niall at the same time.
Suddenly it clicks, and Harry remembers that in his last season Louis had said he was in construction. He’s just thinking how lucky they are to have someone on their tribe who actually knows what they’re doing when Jesy interrupts Louis to say it’d be better to build on an even patch of ground. Taylor nods her head in agreement, Niall shrugs, and Caroline looks like she doesn’t care as long as it happens quickly.
Harry thinks that Jesy has a good point, but when he looks to Louis, he’s huffing a breath through his nose. “I don’t think that’s a good idea…” he begins, but Taylor cuts him off.
“Look, Louis. I watched your season. I know you’ve got this whole macho thing going on. You think you’re hot shit. But you need to know I’m not going to put up with it. We can vote on it, if it’ll make you feel better. Who thinks it makes more sense to build a shelter on even ground?”
No one moves for a second, but slowly the rest of the tribe raises their hands. Before Harry can cast a vote, Taylor turns back to Louis. “We’re doing it our way. If you don’t want to help, you can go work on the fire.”
There’s a frosty silence when Taylor finishes speaking. Jesy and Taylor look smug, but Caroline and Niall look almost guilty, carefully looking anywhere but at Louis.
“Fine,” Louis says, eyes steely and voice even. He turns on his heel and heads back toward the jungle. “I’m gonna get kindle for our fire.”
Niall and Caroline turn to huddle with Jesy and Taylor to start planning the shelter. Apparently everyone else is planning on steering clear of Louis for now, but Harry knows they need at least two people to build a fire. Looks like he’s following Louis then.
But after two hours, Harry and Louis still haven’t managed it. Louis is getting more frustrated by the minute, cursing every time they almost get a flame only to watch it smoke out.
He’s muttering through gritted teeth, not looking up from where he’s working the stick into the coconut husk that Harry’s holding still for him. “Worked every fucking time when I did this at home, but oh no, guess it’s too much to ask when I actually need a fucking fire…”
“I dunno if this is gonna happen for us tonight, Louis,” Harry says quietly. “Maybe we should switch, have someone else try. Our hands are raw and the sun’s gonna set soon. This is gonna be even harder to do in the dark.”
Louis gives another derisive snort, and Harry rolls his eyes.
“You’re telling me that you’re willing to let us all go without water just because you don’t want to ask one of them for help,” Harry says flatly, because quite honestly, fuck that.
Louis doesn’t say anything, so Harry drops the husk and straightens, arching to stretch out the kinks he has in his back from being hunched over for the better part of two hours.
“I’m getting people to switch with us,” Harry says decidedly, starting back toward their makeshift camp without looking back at Louis. “You can take it up with them if you have a problem.”
He treks back up the beach, making sure to take a few calming breaths before he reaches camp. He gets why Louis is frustrated and he doesn’t blame him for it, but Harry’s frustrated too, especially after dealing with a moody Louis this afternoon. Still, he doesn’t want the rest of the tribe to pick up on his bad attitude, not when they all look eager and pleased with themselves where they’re gathered around the structure that’s starting to take shape.
“This looks so great, guys,” he says, bumping fists with a beaming Niall.
“It’s pretty sick,” Niall says happily.
Taylor shoots him a genuine smile. “Thanks, I think it’s going pretty well? We should be done a little after sunset.”
“Where’s Caroline at?” Harry asks, realizing she’s not anywhere on the beach.
Jesy rolls her eyes. “Went to the jungle to go to the bathroom about half an hour ago, haven’t seen her since. Honestly, I doubt we’ll see her again till the shelter’s finished — not that we’ll miss her. She’s mostly just been sitting here watching us this whole time.” She nods toward where Louis is sprawled on the beach. “No luck with the fire then, I guess.”
Harry shakes his head. “We’ve almost had it a few times, but we can’t get it to catch.”
Jesy snorts. “Bet Louis’s being a right sunshine about that.”
Harry could sell Louis out, tell the rest of the tribe about how childish he’s been since being outvoted. They could all bond over how annoying Louis is, maybe even lay the groundwork for voting Louis at their first tribal. But Harry’s strength lies in his social game, and he knows better.
He shrugs noncommittally. “He sent me over to see if we could switch places? He doesn’t think we’re gonna be able to do it on our own. Can’t say I disagree with him, I feel like my arms might fall off if we keep going.” He turns to look at Niall. “You and Taylor might be better at it. Jesy, you can tell Louis and I what you need done here, right?”
A shrug doesn’t confirm or deny anything, and lying about this won’t hurt him. If he needs to throw Louis under the bus later, he can. But the first immunity challenge could happen anytime now. Their tribe can’t be physically and emotionally exhausted when it does. In the short term, Harry needs to focus on getting fire and keeping peace within the tribe. The lie helps him work toward both.
Jesy and Taylor exchange a quick look, but Niall agrees easily. “Yeah, we can definitely do that.” He waggles his eyebrows exaggeratedly. “C’mon Tay, let’s use our undeniable chemistry to make sparks fly.”
“That was awful,” Taylor says, but lets herself be pulled away.
Several minutes later, Louis trudges up and silently begins helping Harry chop wood into the lengths Jesy asks for. It’s an uneasy truce, but it’s a truce all the same, and Harry counts it as a win.
“I didn’t know I was gonna be, again, on the idiot tribe, but, uh, apparently I’m the brains behind this operation, so we’re gonna have to make it work somehow." - Tommo, Chapera
The shelter is a disaster, just like Louis knew it would be.
He’d tried to play nice and follow the strategy he’d come out here with. Keep your mouth shut and follow someone else’s instructions until the merge. Just slip under the radar.
Unfortunately, in all his careful planning Louis hadn’t factored in his own personality.
He rolls over for what must be the five hundredth time since he’d laid down to sleep, trying and failing to get comfortable on the horribly constructed floor of the shelter. If he had just followed his instincts and taken control, he might actually be sleeping, or at least lying awake without sand mites biting all up and down his arms and legs.
Louis hears a tiny groan not too far from where he’s laid out. He tries to remember who had settled there since he can’t see a thing without a fire in the pitch black night.
Louis closes his eyes and shakes his head. No fire. No water. Poor shelter. Maybe playing this game again was just a waste of his time. Louis knew whichever tribe got water first would have an edge in the first immunity challenge, and if they won, then they’d have momentum.
Louis won’t be on the losing tribe twice. He won’t.
The source of the groan starts to shift, but they’re moving slowly, like that will somehow be less likely to disturb the people around them. He suddenly remembers that it’s Harry who’d taken a spot at the edge of the shelter; Harry, who hadn’t raised a word of complaint all day, who’d somehow managed to thank everyone for how hard they’d worked even as he’d winced while sneaking little rubs to the same spot on his back when he thought no one was looking.
So Louis isn’t the only one not sleeping.
Fuck the plan. Tomorrow he needs to take charge of this hellhole, or they’re all going to be too weak to compete successfully in the upcoming challenge.
He rolls over again so he’s facing Harry, closes his eyes, and tries to shut his brain off.
“I never heard so much crybaby titysucking in my life. We’ve bitched about the shelter. We’ve bitched about the fire. We’ve bitched about each other. We’re gonna have to toughen up.” - Niall, Chapera
Harry gives up on sleep almost as soon as the sun rises. He rolls out of the shelter and heads toward the beach, rubbing at the corners of his eyes and trying to fight the prickling he feels there. It was a pretty horrible night, but he knows it’s just a combination of exhaustion and dehydration that’s making him tear up. He’ll snap out of it after a splash of cold salt water and a few minutes alone.
It works for the most part, but as he walks back to camp ten minutes later he hears raised voices. The rest of his tribe clearly woke up equally miserable.
Jesy is frozen halfway between the jungle and their camp, watching Louis incredulously. “The fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“Building us a shelter people can actually sleep in,” Louis says tightly.
Louis is closest to the shelter, which now looks more run-down than ever. The roof is drooping sadly from where several of the pieces of wood they’d fashioned into support beams have been wrenched out, tossed into a pile that includes wood that’s been torn from the shelter’s floor.
“What’s going on?” Harry asks, looking between the two of them.
Jesy laughs humorlessly. “Came back from collecting kindle to find this idiot tearing down the camp we spent all day building!” She sounds a little hysterical, but Harry doesn’t really blame her. Louis looks bored by her dramatics.
She turns back to Louis, seething. “You were outvoted!” She starts toward the woodpile like she means to put everything back in its rightful place. “What part of that do you not understand? Did you miss the day in elementary school where you learn how voting works? Or did you not even make it that far in school?”
That’s uncalled for, in Harry’s opinion, but he can’t say he’s surprised. Jesy’s known for picking fights, after all.
Louis’s eyes flash dangerously and he moves to block her path, disdain clear on his face. “Yeah, I got outvoted, and look where that got us. Hate to break it to you sweetheart, but this isn’t a shelter. You threw some sticks together — you didn’t build anything worth a damn.”
Jesy opens her mouth to argue, but Louis cuts her off.
“You tellin’ me you enjoyed getting eaten alive by sandmites last night? Anyone here really excited about the bruises and kinks in your back from that sorry excuse for a floor?”
He gestures to the ashen, tired faces of the rest of the tribe. Caroline isn’t looking at anyone, tracing patterns in the sand where she’s leaning against a palm tree. Niall looks torn between agreeing with Louis and telling him to shut up, standing with his arms crossed over his chest defensively. Harry can sympathize.
“Look,” he continues, rounding on Jesy again. “This shelter is shit. We all know it. What if it’d rained last night? What if it storms? It took me two seconds to tear this thing down. If any of us had so much as sneezed last night the whole thing would’ve fallen down around us.”
Jesy’s fuming, but quiet, when Taylor interrupts them. “You better check yourself, Tommo. If you keep acting like a spoiled brat, don’t forget — I’ll write your name.” Shit. This is escalating too quickly. “I get that you couldn’t sleep last night, but we have six thirsty people here. Fire has to come first, ” she says, looking from Jesy to Louis carefully.
That sets Jesy off again. “Exactly! Tearing down the shelter isn’t helpful! We should work on fire and fix the shelter later!”
Harry glances over at Taylor, who’s pulling her blonde hair back into a ponytail, face carefully neutral. He gets the feeling that she’s secretly pleased by this shitshow.
Louis rolls his eyes. “Don’t kid yourself, that thing can’t be fixed,” he says, voice dripping with derision. “It’d be faster to just start over. We need to move it anyway, this one’s way too close to the beach.”
“If you think you can do so much better, why can’t you cut your own damn wood? If mine’s so shit why are you gonna use it?” It comes out more petulant than she probably wanted it to.
“It’ll be faster if I use what we already have,” Louis says, like he’s speaking to a small child. He changes tactics halfway through speaking, trying for something more diplomatic when he turns to look at the rest of their tribe. “You’re right, we need fire. But we only need three people working on it at a time. Any more than that will just be in the way, so that leaves two to help me with the shelter.”
No one can say anything to that; he’s not wrong. He seems to sense that he has the momentum now.
“Niall, Caroline, you two can help me. We can get it done by tonight. We have an immunity challenge coming up. If we divide and conquer, we can get fire and actually be well-rested enough to compete.”
Everyone’s quiet for a beat. “Fine,” Jesy spits, turning on her heel and starting toward the beach. “Taylor, Harry, let’s go.”
Harry exchanges a look with Niall before following. Taylor immediately catches up with Jesy. “I can’t believe him. He’s such a jerk.”
She elbows Harry in the side, looking to him to back her up when they choose a place to work. “Uh,” he says eloquently, then clears his throat. “Yeah, he shouldn’t’ve started tearing the shelter down without talking to anyone about it first. That’s like. Not very nice.”
Taylor shoots him an unimpressed look from where she’s arranging the kindle they’d brought, and Jesy snorts. “Oh, harsh Harry.”
“None of us slept well. It’s our first night on a deserted beach, of course we didn’t. He’s just being a big baby about it,” Taylor says, taking hold of a coconut husk while Jesy chooses sticks to strike with.
“He’s definitely got a big mouth,” Harry agrees. He stays quiet after that, letting Taylor and Jesy vent and making sympathetic noises whenever the conversation calls for it.
Whether or not they want to admit it, there’s no way that Louis can make the shelter worse. At least this way he’ll be busy for the rest of the day, and if it goes well they’ll have a better night’s sleep to look forward to tonight.
“Someone has to say something. He can’t just do that. Who made Louis the master of camp? When did that happen?” - Jesy, Chapera
As the day wears on, Louis stays at the shelter while the rest of them switch roles. The girls had vented for the better part of the morning, but become tellingly quiet once they realize that Louis actually knows what he’s doing. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes that his shelter is better than the last one.
Apparently Jesy knows when she’s been beat, because she’s actually civil with Louis when it’s her turn to help. Surprisingly, Louis doesn’t try to lord anything over her, even asks her opinion once or twice. Like a peace offering.
Taylor seems a bit put out. Harry suspects it's because she expected the fight to last longer, but he's grateful they’ve managed to move past it. The mood at camp is considerably lighter, and they’re even able to joke around by the time the sun starts to dip back down towards the ocean.
At one point Caroline declares she’s too tired to keep working and goes to lay down on the beach. Louis overhears her as he’s passing by carrying a shoulder full of logs and calls out “There’s that can-do attitude I like to see!”
Taylor actually lets out a startled laugh, because Caroline’s lackluster work ethic hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice. Sometimes they even get more work done without her help.
Caroline isn’t alone in being the butt of tribe jokes. A second day of shelter-building has alerted everyone to the fact that Harry isn’t exactly the most coordinated person on the tribe. He follows Louis’s instructions as best he can, but there’s not much he can do about his constant tripping, or how many times he’s almost knocked himself out with tree branches. The rest of the tribe has taken to following him around, offering to help him with even the smallest tasks 'for his own safety.'
Harry doesn’t mind. He’s accident prone; it’s part of his charm.
So when Harry is asked to collect driftwood down the beach in the off chance that at some point they’ll manage to make fire, Louis immediately volunteers to go with him.
“Jesy, you know what you’re doing, can you can keep an eye on everyone working on the shelter? Can’t let Curly here impale himself on our firewood.”
Harry rolls his eyes good-naturedly, but doesn’t complain when Louis follows him down the beach. They fall into an easy silence, occasionally racing each other to pick up prize pieces of driftwood and doing stupid little victory dances around each other when they win. It’s maybe the most fun Harry’s had in the past two days.
They stop to catch their breath when they’re about ten minutes down the beach, a disgruntled camera crew still trying to catch up with them after their last race.
“You fight dirty, Harry.” Louis takes off his snapback to wipe the sweat from his forehead, eyes still crinkled with laughter from when Harry had pinched him in the side to get to the driftwood first. Apparently the infamous Louis from St. Louis is ticklish. Who knew.
Harry smirks. “Hadn’t you heard? They made a whole movie about it.”
Louis snorts, and Harry grins to himself as he lifts his hand to shield his eyes from the sun, trying to gauge whether or not there’s any more driftwood to be collected down the beach.
“So,” Louis says, replacing his snapback and turning to look at him. “What do you think? You wanna make an alliance?”
That gets Harry’s attention. He’s so surprised that he giggles, which — yeah, maybe not the best response he’s ever come up with. “Sorry,” he says, “I just. Didn’t expect that. Dunno if I can take you seriously.”
Harry points toward a longer log that’s washed up on shore a little ways down from them. “Let’s get this one and head back, yeah?”
“I’m a hundred percent serious,” Louis says, falling into step beside Harry.
Harry stays quiet as they duck to pick up the log, thinking his options over. His strategy is to lay low until the merge and that requires making the right allies. Louis can be a bit of an arrogant asshole, but he’s also someone Harry would rather have with him than against him.
If Louis is actually serious, then that gets Harry a strong ally. He can always break the alliance later on and no one would blame him, since contestants are rarely held to alliances made so early in the game. If Louis is playing him, it’s better for him to think Harry’s falling for it than to say no.
Louis glances back at him over his shoulder, crooked grin in place. “Alright,” he repeats. “Just — we can’t make it obvious at all. Like, now is okay, because we’re carrying logs together. But later, when we’re back at camp, we have to be careful.”
“We’ll be careful, then,” Harry says easily.
“Alright.” He can hear the grin in Louis’s voice when he says it, and feels himself smiling too. “You and me to the end, babe.”
“Harry and I have an alliance for obvious reasons. He’s beautiful, obviously. Any idiot can see that. But I’ll keep my word no matter what to him. I trust him. I don’t think he’s gonna screw me.” - Tommo, Chapera
It’s amazing what a good night’s rest does for the tribe’s mood.
Louis doesn’t want to brag but...it’s totally all thanks to him and the new floor he’d built for the shelter.
Caroline even deigns to thank him — in her own way. “It’s more comfortable to lay in the shelter than on the sand now. I might not even have to nap today.” She says as she strips down to just her bathing suit.
Niall and Louis share a look, and Louis can’t help but ask, “Why’d you decide to play again, Care?”
She shrugs as she delves into her personal stash of sunscreen and starts to lather her famous legs. Louis must admit, they are pretty fantastic. Harry’s are only marginally better.
“Ever since the divorce settlement, I haven’t had much to do.” Caroline’s very public romance with a Hollywood action star had been tabloid fodder for almost a year after their Vegas wedding and subsequent divorce when he very publicly cheated on her. Caroline’s lawyers had demolished him in court. It was speculated that her settlement was somewhere in the tens of millions range. “I like to compete and I like to win, so I thought, why not?”
Caroline’s so blasé about the whole thing that Louis and the rest of the tribe are exchanging bemused glances. Honestly, Louis likes Caroline. She might be lazy and a really bad Survivor player, but she says what she means.
“Well, alright,” Louis says dryly. “I guess we’ll just have to win then.”
She smiles back at him sweetly. “That’s the plan.”
She takes off to the beach without offering to do anything to help around camp. At least they know what to expect from her.
Jesy gestures after Caroline. “So now that the Queen of Sheeba has left us, what do we need to get done today?”
Louis pushes himself up from the shelter and stretches his arms above his head before scratching his stomach. “I’m gonna go see if we’ve got any tree mail--”
“No.” Taylor jumps up from where she’s been watching them all morning. “I’ll go get the tree mail. You don’t have to do everything, Tommo.”
“Fine by me,” Louis raises his hands in surrender. “As long as someone gets it, I don’t really care.”
Taylor huffs and stalks off down the beach.
“What was that? I thought we were all having a good time this morning?”
Louis looks over at Harry because he thought he’d been doing a good job of keeping everyone happy. He hadn’t said anything to offend Taylor since yesterday, had he?
Harry shakes his head a little, but Niall’s the one who answers. “Don’t worry about it, Tommo. She’s just mad because things are going more smoothly since you’ve taken charge of things.”
“I wouldn’t go that far-” Jesy starts, nudging Niall in the ribs. “I think she’s just wants to be useful.”
Niall shrugs, as per usual, and they drop the issue. Harry and Jesy volunteer to go grab more firewood and palm fronds, while Niall and Louis stay back at camp and try to make some sort of breakfast out of the two coconuts they’d found on the beach.
They’ve all settled into their tasks by the time Taylor makes her way back into camp.
“Well, I’ve got some good news and bad news.” Taylor announces, new Chapera flag in hand and a scuba mask perched on her forehead.
“Uh-oh.” Louis says under his breath, bracing himself for whatever torture the producers have set up for them.
“The good news is that I got another pole for us to sleep on.” Taylor continues as she waves the big piece of bamboo. “This,” she says pointing to the scuba mask, “is the bad news.”
Idiot. “What’s bad about that? That’s good.” They might finally be able to eat something that’s not coconut. Maybe catch some fish. Louis’s mind is already racing with the different things he’ll need to make a spear.
But then Taylor waves the piece of parchment in front of his face, which no doubt signals an immunity challenge, and suddenly Louis is hyper-focused on the paper. An immunity challenge already? The producer’s aren’t fucking around this season.
“Wanna read it as a group?” Harry suggests.
The rest of their tribe has already gathered — minus Caroline, who’s still sunning herself on the beach.
“Caroline! You wanna come over?” Louis calls.
“Just speak up!”
There’s a moment of tribe bonding when they all look at each other and roll their eyes.
Louis raises his voice as he begins to read the terrible rhyme on the parchment. “To and from each challenge fly your colors as you stride. In a show of unity --” Louis stops, clears his throat for dramatic effect, and projects in Caroline’s direction pointedly because how can he resist? “‘UNITY...”
Niall cackles, Harry giggles, and when Caroline gives Louis the finger, even Taylor chuckles. Louis grins and continues. “Your flag shows tribal pride. Three more days are guaranteed to those triumphant in the game. Bring your dive mask with you to face the Man of Flame.”
“Man of Flame? Who do you think that is?” Most of what Taylor has said or done in the last two days has made Louis want to claw his own face off, but he can’t blame her for looking for clues as to which of the other famous Survivors are here. The only good thing about having an immunity challenge this early on is that he’ll finally know who he’s up against.
When the camera crew signals it’s time, Louis and the tribe begin to head out with their flag proudly displayed. If the reward for the challenge is fire, and Louis strongly suspects that it is, it’s absolutely crucial that they win so they can really start playing the game.
“We just got our first tree mail today. A little earlier than expected, but I guess today is as good as any day, being that we’ll probably just be thirstier tomorrow.” - Taylor, Chapera
They’re led to a holding area, where they’re made to wait until they get the go ahead to enter the clearing on the beach where the immunity challenge is going to take place. Harry can practically feel his tribe mates vibrating with anticipation.
It’s a nice change from feeling dehydrated and exhausted, but before they have to go face the other tribes, he still makes a point to squeeze Niall’s shoulder reassuringly and make a few awful jokes to distract Taylor from where she looks like she’s about to break her own hands from how hard she’s cracking her knuckles. It won’t do for the thrill to turn to nerves.
When they get the signal to go ahead and enter the clearing, the first thing Harry sees is Jeff Probst in his signature blue shirt, looking dashing as always. Everyone who watched Harry’s original season knows that one of his reasons for signing up in the first place was his massive crush on Survivor’s host. Harry isn’t embarrassed about it. Jeff is extremely attractive, no one can tell him he’s wrong.
Jeff welcomes them to the game, and Harry learns that their tribe name is apparently pronounced sha-pier-uh. He catches Jesy’s eye and mouths “Chapera, Chapera!” while doing a little shimmy, because who is he to waste such a perfect opportunity? Niall breaks into Shakira and soon the tribe devolves into laughter that Taylor tries to hush.
Jeff takes it good naturedly — probably because it’ll be some good footage for the show to use. It’ll set them up to be the silly tribe if they don’t win or the fun-loving tribe if they do. Either way, it’ll help the editors create some sort way for the audience to identify Chapera. So the more he can make himself and his tribemates likeable, the better.
Just at the edge of his field of vision he can see Louis shaking his head at them in exasperation, but there’s definitely a small upward twist to the corner of his mouth, and his eyes are definitely on the verge of crinkling, so.
Harry snaps back when Jeff asks a question. “Chapera, what’s going on?” He says, with his Emmy-winning smile.
“We want to ask you that same question.” Jesy says.
Harry feels his pulse pick up. For the first time, he really feels like he’s in the game. He’s almost giddy with adrenaline. What with the sleepless nights and the lack of water and fire, he’d almost forgotten how exciting it is to play. “Yeah, Jeff. We want to know.”
“How could I resist telling you, Harry?” Jeff’s flirting sarcastically with him, as had become their custom during Harry’s last season on the show.
Harry winks at him. “You can’t, don’t bother trying.”
He feels Louis shift where he’d moved to stand behind him, but Harry’s too busy to studying the massive wooden statue behind Jeff to glance back to check on him. Were they going to have to climb that thing? Chop it down?
“Wanna see who you’re playing against?” Jeff asks, and really, what a tease.
The whole Chapera tribe turns to look as Jeff calls, “Mogo Mogo, come on in!”
The faces that jump out to Harry are Richard Hatch, esteemed first ever winner of Survivor; Cher Lloyd, winner of Survivor: Amazon, best known for taking off her top to win a reward challenge; and Bressie, Harry’s ally and friend from Survivor: Australia. The others are less memorable. Then Harry sees Louis making a funny face at a middle-aged woman whose name Harry vaguely remembers is Mary who must've played with Louis in his season.
Once Mogo Mogo is settled, Jeff asks, “Any surprises so far? Hatch, surprised to see anyone over there?”
“Count them gone, Jeff.” Richard says. “One, two. Gone. Who are they? Who cares?” He shrugs, as if he’s not digging his own grave in front of the rest of them.
Jesy speaks up. “His team looks like they love him already.” Harry laughs; the entirety of Mogo Mogo looks ready to stab Richard in the throat.
“Well,” Jeff continues, “Twelve Survivors would be nice. Two tribes would be fun. It’s not enough. Saboga, come on in!”
This tribe brings a few more familiar faces. Zayn won Survivor: Africa, and Lou won Harry’s season. Harry waves wildly at her as soon as he spots her. They’ve kept in touch since leaving the show, and Harry considers her a friend. And then there’s Liam, who had played in the most recent season of Survivor and made a name for himself as one of the most likable contestants to ever play the game.
Caroline catcalls as soon as she sees him — because of course she does. “Alright! There he is! The big man in the back. Now we’re talking.”
Liam blushes but smiles at her good-naturedly in his homemade peace-sign tank, and they all spend a few moments laughing at his expense.
When they settle, Jeff begins again. “Alright. Here we are. Survivor: All Stars.”
There is a brief discussion about how their first days have gone, which reveals that none of them have made fire yet. Harry can feel Louis relax behind him, and Harry is with him on that. It’s much better for their tribe, both physically and mentally, to know that they’re all on an even playing field.
“Let’s get to your first Immunity Challenge,” Jeff pauses for dramatic effect, “which harkens back to our first ever Immunity Challenge, Quest for Fire. Here’s how it works.”
Jeff proceeds to describe a challenge in which each tribe has to bring fire over water and under a series of obstacles to light a final torch. Two of the tribes will win immunity, and one will be sent to tribal council. Chapera will not be that tribe if Harry has anything to say about it.
“Chapera wins first immunity!” Jeff shouts, throwing his hands in the air to signal their win.
Louis drops the raft, arms totally exhausted from swimming with and carrying and pushing the damn thing, and immediately turns to celebrate with his tribemates. He honestly didn’t think they could do it, but they did. He’s never been so relieved.
He launches himself into Harry’s arms, wrapping his legs around his waist and his arms around his neck, and even though Harry must be exhausted too, he swings him around in a victory dance like Louis is the embodiment of the immunity idol.
When Harry sets Louis down, Niall comes dancing up to them, and they all start dancing ridiculously together. Even Taylor and Caroline join in. Louis doesn’t think anything could beat this feeling.
When Jeff dismisses the other tribes and announces that Chapera gets to set the great hulking statue on fire, the victory cries swell up again and the entire tribe watches as the thing goes up in flames. Louis turns to look at his tribemates and finds himself fixated on Harry’s face, the flicker of flames playing over his big green eyes and deep dimples. God, but he's beautiful.
On the walk back to camp they’re all still filled with adrenaline. When Louis is keyed up like this he tends to make motivational speeches, and now is no exception. “Nice job, you guys. When we won that, we played as a team,” Louis points his finger emphatically. “Never mind what’s going on back here. When we had to pull it together and get it done, we got it done.”
“We killed it!” Caroline chimes in.
Everyone is making noises of agreement, and when he instigates a huddle, everyone puts their hands in. For the first time in this game, Louis feels like he’s actually on a functioning tribe.
“Wasn’t that the coolest?!” Taylor says, skipping ahead of them down the beach, and suddenly Louis is reminded that they’re the same age. She always seems older. Or maybe that’s the role she’s supposed to play — like Louis is supposed to play the asshole. It makes him see her in a different light. (He still doesn’t like her, though.)
“That was the best.” Louis grins back in agreement. “The best.”
“We didn’t just win,” Harry’s voice carries over theirs, and Louis immediately redirects his attention. “We came in first place of the very first All-Star challenge.”
Harry says it with the biggest, goofiest grin that Louis’s face can’t help but mirror.
This really is the best.
“We are the biggest bunch of misfit survivors you could put together from seven seasons, and we go out there and win it. No one’s expecting us to get it done. Well, at least I wasn’t.” - Tommo, Chapera
Camp life is surprisingly fun once they’ve got fire, water, a good shelter, and the immunity idol in their possession. The day before Niall had made up a game based on beer pong for them to play using the pot and bits of coconut, and they ended up playing it until the sun set into the sea. The novelty has worn off a bit today, so once they’ve finished all their ‘chores’ in the morning, the tribe settles in around the fire trading stories.
“-after that, I decided to give up on boys all together. I’m focusing on myself and my friends for now.”
Taylor has been recounting her relationship history for the better part of an hour, and Harry would be annoyed if she didn’t make it sound so interesting. She’d had some pretty colorful things to say about the guy she’d dated from her season. She seems much more self-aware and reliant than she had the last time she’d played.
“Good for you, girl.” Jesy says from her space by the fire.
“Yeah,” Harry adds. “It’s good to, like, focus on yourself before you try to rely on someone else for everything.”
Niall hums in agreement from where he’s lying, flicking his Raybans up and down on the bridge of his nose. “Self-fulfillment. Had a whole unit on that in my Psych class. Interesting stuff.”
Harry somehow doubts that Niall has ever had trouble with his sense of self, but it is impossibly endearing to hear him talk about this stuff.
“Thanks guys. That means a lot, actually.” Taylor smiles, small and sincere, and Harry thinks that if she would just loosen up and stop trying to play so hard all the time, she’d be awesome to be around. “My friend Karlie has been helping me a lot with, like, not needing a man in my life to be happy, so.”
“I wish one of my friends had said something to me before I married my ex,” Caroline drawls from where she’s lying in the sun. She opens one eyes to look at them and grins. “Just kidding. His settlement is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
They all laugh because Caroline is so...unfiltered. It’s great. Louis cuts in, “And here I thought that Harold was the sugar baby of our tribe.”
Harry flushes, but Caroline actually sits up and glares at Louis. “I resent you giving all of my favorite monikers to Harry.” Then she tilts an assessing look over at Harry. “Though I suppose I can see where you’d be confused. Harry does have the wardrobe.”
“Heyyyy.” Harry pouts, but he can’t help but smile a little as the rest of his tribe members laugh. He’s just happy they’re all having a good time.
“Taylor,” A member of the crew cuts into their chit chat and gestures that it’s time for her to give her confessional.
Taylor huffs as she pushes herself from the ground before pointing a stern finger at them all. “Don’t have too much fun without me. I have a chronic fear of missing out. And maybe get some more firewood while I'm gone, the stack looks like it's getting low.”
After she’s gone, Louis leans forward and says, “How I got to twenty-seven without Taylor Swift leading me by the hand is a mystery.”
Niall laughs but then says, “That’s not very fair, Lou.”
“C’mon, Ni!” Louis throws his hands up. “She’s the bossiest woman I have ever been around!”
Harry wants to stuff his headscarf into Louis’s mouth to get him to shut up. Seriously, the boy has no sense of when to stop talking.
“If she were a man, you wouldn’t be talking about her that way, and that double-standard is not only harmful for women, but men, too. Gender norms keep all of us trapped in a social paradox that threatens individuality and self-worth.” Niall shrugs again. “Jesy or Caroline would know more about this than I would. But you shouldn’t talk about Taylor like that, Louis.”
Louis just blinks at him. That was. Unexpected. It feels like the whole tribe is doing a double-take.
Jesy barks out a laugh and raises her eyebrows at him. “Boys talking about gender-based oppression. My favorite,” she says sarcastically. “Tell me more.”
“Umm, Niall?” Harry starts.
“Yeah?” Niall, who is either completely oblivious to everyone’s focus on him or just doesn’t care, is now throwing his Raybans up in the air above his face and catching them.
Harry doesn’t really know how to ask the question. Luckily, Louis does it for him. “Where’d you learn all that, then, Horan?”
Niall stops throwing his sunglasses about, and places them back on his face before shrugging. “Dated a girl in college who got me to take a women’s studies course. We broke up, but I actually made it my minor.”
“Women’s studies?” Caroline says disbelievingly.
“Yeah. They tried to get me to do Gender studies instead, but I figured I’d rather have it all from the other perspective, you know?”
Harry leans over to give him an impromptu hug. He loves him even more when Niall just hugs him back no questions asked.
“What about you, Harry?”
“What about me?” Harry says as he rests his head on Niall's chest. It’s comfortable.
“Tell us about yourself. Your hopes. Your dreams!” Niall says dramatically.
“Well, there’s not much to know, really? I’m twenty-five, I like long walks on the beach...” he says that last part drily and silently counts it as a win when he hears the others chuckle in response. “...poetry, and people who can play the piano. I work in public relations, or, like, I want to work in public relations. Right now I’m just someone’s personal assistant."
He almost leaves it at that, but at the last second decides to continue. “I want to see the world though, so that’s, like. Why I started this whole Survivor thing. Don’t want my life to be boring.”
Oops. He’s rambling.
Harry catches Louis’s eye, and he kind of expects him to laugh, but instead he just says, “That’s a commendable goal.”
Harry smirks. “Someone swallowed a thesaurus today.”
Niall snorts over Louis’s “Shut up!” And while they’re all laughing, he pauses for a second, like he’s debating his next move, before saying in the lewdest voice possible. “I have better things to swallow.”
Caroline goes for a high-five and Jesy rolls her eyes at him.
Harry’s a little too stunned by Louis’s innuendo to respond right away, but then he sees Louis start to shift uncomfortably and he says the first thing that comes to mind.
“Heh. Penis jokes.”
There’s another beat, and then Louis is laughing with his head thrown back. And as much as there are other factors for him to think about, Harry thinks if he could listen to that laugh for the next however many days he has left out here, it would be time well spent.
Harry is sitting cross-legged by their fire weaving palm fronds for the roof of the shelter when he catches sight of Niall and Taylor stumbling back from the jungle carrying a long wooden box between them. Harry glances up just in time to catch a flash of excitement on Louis’s face before his expression settles back into something that Harry can tell is intentionally neutral.
When Harry gets a better look at the box he realizes why — there’s a giant Home Depot logo plastered across its top. If they’re doing a challenge involving tools, it’ll be another opportunity for Louis be the tribe’s most valuable asset.
Once everyone is gathered around, Taylor pries open the box and Caroline provides a dramatic reading of yet another poorly-rhymed note, which describes the reward challenge they’ve been assigned. They have one day to remodel their shelter with the tools provided in the box, and tomorrow a professional will judge whatever they’ve come up with. They’ll be scored on creativity and structure, and only four of them can participate in the challenge. The winning tribe will receive something to make sleeping more comfortable, whatever that means.
Louis had been eyeing their tools while listening to Caroline attentively, but when she finishes speaking, he straightens. “This is what I do, so…”
Harry thinks it’s a little embarrassing how quickly the girls jump to validate him, especially after how unwilling they’d been to follow Louis’s lead when they’d first tried building the shelter. But apparently the prospect of winning a reward challenge is enough for even Taylor to be sweet with Louis. Harry stays quiet through a whole chorus of reassurances — “We need you,” “You have to do this,” “This is your job” — before the tribe gets down to deciding who’s helping Louis and who’s sitting out.
Caroline is the first to bow out, of course. “I’ll be over here if you need me,” she says from where she’s reclining against a tree.
Jesy looks around at everyone, having already positioned herself closer to Louis and the box. “Who else is sitting out?”
Harry sighs dramatically, as if preparing to shoulder a terrible burden. “I’m sure everyone here is thrilled at the prospect of me wielding tools, but I think I’ll sit this one out too.”
It’s true that he’d probably be more of a hinderance than a help, but Harry also doesn’t want to run the risk of putting himself in a position where he’ll have to choose between following Louis and the girls. He helps both the tribe and himself by staying out.
Louis’s head had whipped around to focus on Harry as soon as he started speaking, and he shot him a small, amused smile before turning back to Niall, Taylor, and Jesy, who are now gathered in a semicircle around the box.
“Do you guys trust me enough to give you a plan? And we’ll go by it, and you’ll do it, and you won’t-”
Louis must realize that in a few hours time, after an entire afternoon of taking instructions, they might be more resentful of his expertise than grateful for it. It comes off as a bit patronizing, but Harry figures it’s a smart move for Louis to get a verbal agreement to follow his lead now, so if something goes wrong later Louis can remind them how quickly they’d handed him responsibility.
Jesy cuts Louis off before he can finish speaking. “You’re a construction worker, sweetie, this is all about you.”
Harry almost snorts, but busies himself with reassembling his pile of palm fronds and finding a comfortable spot from which to watch the proceedings.
Louis pulls a sheet of paper and pencil from the box and leans over it, already drawing up plans.
“Let’s get to work, then.”
“I was right up and at it, and I was pumped. I was like ‘Yeah, this is for me, this is my challenge. We’re winnin’ this.” - Tommo, Chapera
Four hours later, Harry has made barely any progress in his stack of fronds. He will go to his grave claiming that he absolutely cannot be blamed for it, because somehow there is nothing more fascinating than watching Louis work on a construction project.
Harry is...surprised. To say the least. Within minutes of finishing their blueprint, Louis had delegated tasks and gotten to work. Harry had expected Louis to relish the power he’d been given. To some extent he had — there was no mistaking the authority in Louis’s voice when he asked someone to pass him a tool, or explained exactly what he needed them to do.
But while he was clearly in charge, he also made an effort to ask the others for input often enough that they wouldn’t feel bossed around. Everyone had worked together to haul wood to cut for beams. When it got to the more complicated task of fitting the right beams in the right places, Louis had asked Niall and Taylor to take turns assisting him, since both of them were at least somewhat familiar with construction. Instead of asking the remaining two participating members to get out of his way, he’d assigned them another project, and phrased it so that it sounded like he was entrusting them with something instead of dismissing them. “We need to have some creative aspect to this...I don’t know. Will you guys make a plan?”
So. Surprise number one: Apparently Louis has actual, genuine leadership skills.
Surprise number two: Apparently Harry is actually, genuinely into watching people competently wielding tools. That’s very much a thing.
For most of the afternoon he just sits there, biting his lip and staring at Louis. Occasionally he gets up and pretends to collect more fronds (an activity he is well aware has been rendered useless by the fact that Louis is constructing what Harry is sure will be an air-tight roof before his very eyes), or to prepare fruit (to put on the perfectly-even table Louis had patiently explained to Niall how to build), or to find a shadier place to sit (so the sun won’t obstruct his view of Louis).
At one point, Caroline feels the need to discretely warn him that the camera crews had captured at least twenty minutes’ worth of footage of Harry “watching Louis like a serial killer” so “maybe you had better go do something else for a bit, hun.”
At another, even lower point, he is forced to follow that advice because he's actually getting hard from watching Louis intently design and build a swing just because Niall offhandedly mentions how cool it’d be to have one at camp.
At what is probably his lowest point, he jokingly offers to feed Louis pieces of fruit while he works so Louis doesn’t have to take a break. Louis actually smirks and takes him up on it; which leads to Harry trying to call his bluff, grinning challengingly and letting his fingers linger against Louis’s lips a second too long; which leads to Louis playfully nipping at them, a mischievous glint in his eye that is maybe somehow more attractive than the fact that Harry has just practically had his fingers sucked on.
So for Harry, the rewards challenge is surprising at the least. Enlightening at best. Embarrassing at worst.
He figures it’s worth it, because by this time tomorrow they’ll have won this challenge. Harry’s uncertain about a lot of things in this game. But the one thing he does know for sure is that Louis’s going to win this for Chapera.
“In the beginning, the flirting with Tommo was complete strategy for me, and on the other hand, I thought it was complete strategy for him, too. And I’ll admit, when I saw him building that shelter...he was pretty hot building that shelter. He’s good at doing what he does. It’s getting easier and easier to flirt with Louis, for sure.” - Harry, Chapera
Jeff arrives at their camp with the judge a little after midday. They come by boat, so everyone has time to strew themselves artfully across their newly-constructed, travel guide-worthy home before Jeff and Rafa, the judge, have even set foot on shore.
Taylor and Jesy are pretending to be in the middle of a heated game of beach checkers, Niall is leaning against one of the porch support beams, Caroline is lying out in their zen garden, and Louis is sprawled out on the swing, eyes shut and arms folded behind his head.
Niall hops up as soon as they walk into camp, grinning at them maniacally. “Welcome to The Bungalow, boys.”
Jeff lets out a low whistle. “What’s goin’ on Chapera? Looks like you’ve been busy…” He trails off, clearly impressed. Harry doesn’t know if they’ve been to either of the other tribes yet, but he feels an entirely unwarranted swoop of pride at the reaction to their shelter, considering he did absolutely nothing to build the thing.
“Rafa here’s going to take a look around,” Jeff continues, patting the judge on the back as he looks out at their tribe. “Make sure everything’s structurally sound. You guys wanna give him a tour?”
One of Louis’s eyes had peaked open when Jeff had first started to speak, but it’s not until Jeff asks them to show the judge around that he deigns to give them the time of day. He sits up slowly, eyeing the judge like he’s trying to size him up before hopping off.
Harry is pretty sure that Louis was going for careful nonchalance before, but once the judge is yanking and kicking and pulling at The Bungalow he seems incapable of keeping up the façade. By the second kick to the shelter’s foundation, Louis is already muttering “You’re not moving it, it’s not moving” to himself under his breath.
And by the time they get to the support beams, Louis doesn’t even wait for Rafa to start before he’s pushing at them himself, muscles straining with effort. “You see that? It’s not going anywhere. Look at that!”
Part of Harry is a little put off by what an asshole Louis is being, but another part of him can’t help but feel just a twinge of fondness. Louis is so excited, is the thing. He looks so happy to be able to show off his work, to know that it’s as good as he thinks it is.
After the judge has toured the zen garden Jesy and Niall built, and seen the checkerboard Taylor insisted they have, Harry smiles over at Jeff and says “Tell him to hop up on the swing!”
Louis’s eyes brighten immediately, like he’d almost forgotten about it. His eyes land on Rafa, who at this point looks beyond done with Louis’s shit but doesn’t put up much of a fight when Louis steers him back to the swing.
“Come on up, buddy. It’s not going anywhere,” Louis pats the bench as he speaks, and as soon as Rafa has hauled himself up, pushes it. “See? Wanna swing?”
Harry rolls his eyes, because of course Louis acted first and asked questions later. Typical.
Jeff claps his hands to get their attention. “We’ve got to head out now.”
“So soon?” Harry pouts, remembering at the last second that tribe had decided his role was to flirt with the judge. He’s disappointed with himself for being too distracted to remember until now.
“I’ll come visit,” Jeff laughs. “We can play checkers.”
As soon as Jeff and Rafa have stepped back on the boat, Taylor stands up, a triumphant gleam in her eyes. “No way anyone beats ours. They might as well have built their houses out of playing cards; we’re gonna blow ‘em away. We’ve got it in the bag.”
Niall lets out a whoop of agreement, and soon everyone’s high-fiving each other before settling in to wait for the verdict.
“Guess we’ll wait and see,” Louis shrugs, settling back into the swing to wait out the verdict. But he catches Harry’s eye, just for a moment, and he’s got this small, crooked grin on his face. Harry is sure they’ve already won.
Harry and Louis are the first ones out on the beach when the camera crew tells them that the plane is coming, but Taylor runs ahead of them and straight into the surf, eyes trained on the dot in the sky that’s moving steadily closer.
Louis looks tense, a chorus of “Come on, come on…” falling from his lips, probably without him realizing it.
Harry wants to scoff at him, because it seems almost like false modesty at this point. Louis has nothing to worry about. Unless Frank Lloyd Wright himself has somehow appeared to one of the other tribes, there’s almost no way Chapera’s going to lose.
But. He doesn’t like seeing Louis unsure of himself. It doesn’t suit him, and it makes Harry uncomfortable, and it’s probably bad for tribe morale to see Louis hesitate. Or something.
Except tribe morale is the highest Harry’s ever experienced it in the game. They’ve only won the first two immunity challenges, but Harry’s pretty sure it wouldn’t matter if they won this reward or not. They have fire and water, and he knows they’ll be sleeping better in The Bungalow than they would if the challenge hadn’t happened. So whatever the reward is would only be a nice bonus, really. They’d be fine without it.
And yes, it was lucky that Louis happened to have the exact skillset the challenge called for, but Harry also knows that if Louis had approached his tribemates differently, if he’d been too dictatorial or alienated them, they'd be in trouble even if they won.
Chapera deserves that damn reward and Louis shouldn’t doubt it. So Harry starts shouting at the plane like it owes them something, because as far as Harry’s concerned, it does. “COME ON, DROP IT!”
Louis looks startled at the outburst, but soon everyone else has joined in, Jesy and Niall hurling abuse at the plane without regard for the editing team that’ll be responsible for bleeping out their language.
When the reward crate drops just offshore of their beach, just like Harry knew it would, they’re almost too busy hugging and dancing in celebration to swim out and retrieve it.
“We’ve never been so excited in our lives. It was just a pinnacle moment for us since we’ve been here. It was the happiest moment ever. Ever.” - Jesy, Chapera
The crate turns out to be full of mattresses, blankets, a tarp and — best of all — wine.
“Let’s get that wine open!” As Louis looks around at their new camp and the unadulterated excitement on his tribemates’ faces, his chest swells with pride. “You guys. We’re the friggin’ best.”
Louis makes sure to high-five everyone because he knows a good bonding moment when he sees it. He also knows that because he almost gets sole credit for this win, he’s just endeared himself to his tribe and solidified his position as a provider. Honestly, Louis could not have asked for better when he came out here. He’s warm, he’s happy, he’s gonna have a belly full of wine, and he’s not eliminated.
Life is good.
Of course, Niall is the first to grab the wine and take a long swig, which starts a take-a-sip-and-pass-it-‘round circle in their newly refurbished shelter.
“Drunk on day eight,” Louis muses.
An unfortunate, and somehow unforeseen, side effect of not eating properly for eight days is that the wine hits a lot stronger than it usually would. After only a few sips, Harry is cuddled into Louis’s side, head lolling and dopey grin in place. Not that Louis minds, of course.
Harry is goddamn beautiful at all times, but right now, like this, with his large green eyes half-lidded and his pink lips parted and spit slick, it’s like he’s Louis’s personal fantasy come to life.
“M’stomach’s all burning, and my chest is all...you know...burning-“ Harry says slowly, even slower than usual as he passes the bottle to Taylor, who barely presses the bottle to her lips before closing her eyes and giggling, “I can’t have too many more of these sips.”
Louis is feeling a little less gracious than he did without wine in his bloodstream, so he keeps recounting their win. “Rafa had never had more fun than he did on our swing.”
“It’s the swing what did it!” Niall agrees. Loudly.
It only occurs to Louis to be worried about how affectionate he and Harry are being when he lies down on their new mattress, Harry on one side of him and Jesy on the other. They all moan in appreciation for the softness after days of hard bamboo against their backs.
“I’m getting drunker and drunker-er.” Harry exclaims through his giggles, and Louis can’t hide his fond smile.
Louis’s head is a little spinny in that pleasant-drunk way that makes you want to just close your eyes for a second, but he knows Harry must feel like he’s on a tilt-o-whirl or something, because Harry’s laughing uncontrollably and rolling onto his side so he's pressed up against Louis from toe to shoulder. That’s when Louis feels the semi Harry is sporting in those goddamn yellow shorts, and feels his temperature rise from zero to sixty.
Before Louis can attempt to adjust them so he can just ignore the problem until further notice, Harry presses his mouth somewhere in the vicinity of Louis’s neck in what appears to be his attempt at a whisper, but comes across more as a declaration. Apparently Harry’s volume control is non-existent in the face of some wine.
“You know, if you want to kiss me, kiss me now, ‘cause m’not gonna do it when you have nasty breath later. Now you have wine breath.”
Louis feels Jesy tense on his other side and fuck — Louis needs to dissolve this situation ASAP.
“Woah,” He tries to act mock offended and hopes she buys it.
Yes, joking is always the best way to go in these situations. It’s all one big elaborate joke. And Harry’s hard on pressed into Louis’s hip must be the punch line. How funny. Absolutely hilarious.
“The wine hit Harry a little bit strong. He wanted to kiss me in front of everyone...Here’s the thing, Harry and I have been flirting with each other since we got out here. We have an alliance together. He probably thinks he’s playing me. I think I’m playing him. Who know’s how it’s gonna turn out? One thing’s for sure, though. There can only be one winner in this game.” - Tommo, Chapera
“We need a boat. Mayday! Mayday!” Niall makes a big production of waving his arms and swooning in the direction of the camera crew. Harry wonders if it makes him a bad person that he’s glad the crew has to experience this horrible storm, too. Because it truly is a horrible storm.
Harry had known it was going to be rainy season in Panama coming into the game, but he could never have imagined this. Their amazing camp had been turned into an honest-to-god river, making their shelter a sinking raft.
Niall’s outburst had come in response to the water starting to rise up through the floorboards. Jesy and Taylor are already passing the pot back and forth trying to bail out the water. Harry is confident that their shelter will hold, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t afraid of their belongings washing away. It had happened during the flood on his first season, and someone had almost died trying to get their bag of food back. So Harry’s worried.
A warm hand comes to rest on the small of his back, and that simple thing shouldn’t relax him as much as it does, but. His responses towards Louis are veering toward unacceptable. He doesn’t feel like there’s anything he can do about it, except hope no one’s caught on.
Caroline keeps sending him sly winks, though, so...it’s probably not as much of a secret as he wishes it was.
Before Harry can pull away and recalibrate, Louis jokes, “Well Nialler, looks like we aren’t getting any help. How’s about we make this thing into our own boat? We can take the parachute along the bottom to block the water from getting the blankets wet in case the water keeps rising.”
Taylor stops bailing out water and looks heartbroken that she hadn’t thought of that. Jesy claps her hands together and moves to rouse Caroline from where she's somehow managing to nap through all of this.
“Weyhey, Tommo! Let’s do it.” Niall exclaims, clapping Louis on the shoulder.
So the next few minutes consist of the tribe working together to pull up all the blankets and then replace them over the parachute. It’s brilliant. Harry has no idea how any of them would survive without Louis.
“We should all try to get some sleep and keep warm for now,” Louis says when the last blanket is in place. Everyone murmurs their agreement and begins to line up in their sleeping order, which had been established a few nights ago according to the most efficient way to keep body heat. Louis lies on the edge and Harry goes beside him, snuggling in under the blanket.
Harry immediately lets out an involuntary moan and closes his eyes in pleasure. “You’re so warm,” He mumbles into Louis’s shoulder.
“Well, your feet are ice blocks. Hold on.” Louis starts to pull away, but Harry whines and grabs him closer. He’s not giving up his personal heater.
Louis chuckles. “Get off me, you overgrown koala!” Harry just whines again and tries to tuck his feet in between Louis’s calves.
“Jesus!” Louis hisses. Then softer, “Come on, love. Let go. I’m just gonna grab you my extra pair of socks, then I’ll be right back for a cuddle.”
This time when Louis pulls away, Harry lets him go with warmth spreading through his belly. He instinctively hides his face in the pillow, even though he knows the darkness is probably doing a good job of hiding his blush. All the same, better to be safe than sorry.
Louis comes back and rolls a pair of only slightly damp socks onto Harry’s feet, and if he didn’t know any better, he’d say Louis was caressing his ankles. Harry’s body certainly doesn’t know better when Louis’s hands brush up his calves, because his dick is suddenly very interested.
Harry grits his teeth and curses silently. He’d been sporting semis for what seemed like the majority of the past few days. He really doesn’t think he can be held responsible for that when Louis is there all the time and Harry can’t exactly take care of the issue himself with all the cameras around.
When Louis lies back down beside him, Harry makes an executive decision to save himself some embarrassment. He rolls so that his back is facing Louis.
He can feel Louis hesitate before he says, “What’cha doin’, babe?”
Harry tilts his head back, eyes half-lidded, and whispers, “I’m the little spoon.” Because he is.
He swears he can hear Louis gulp before he says, “Yeah, alright,” and wraps an arm around Harry’s waist, tucking them snuggly together.
It’s the best sleep Harry’s had since the show started.
“I slept through the night. I was warm under the blanket, and I slept right through the storm.” - Tommo, Chapera
“Harry and Louis were layin’ on the thing kinda gettin’ a romantic mood. Maybe the rain was just an excuse to snuggle a little closer.” - Niall, Chapera
“Tommo and Harry are gonna do it. I don’t know when, but they’re gonna do it. They’ve got the mattress, the pillows, everything’s in place, and they’re gonna do it. I really wish those two the best of luck.” - Taylor, Chapera
Going into the reward challenge, Louis is in high spirits despite the terrible weather of the past two days. His hands and feet still feel a little raw, skin bloated and sensitive from all the water it had absorbed, but he’s confident that his tribe is at least in better shape than the other two.
There’s the usual banter when all the tribes meet with Jeff, and as Louis assesses the other tribes he can tell he was right about the storm affecting them more. The remaining four members of Saboga, including the beautiful Zayn and the burly Liam, are looking downright depressing. He can’t help he smug grin that makes its way on his face.
Harry elbows him in the ribs, and Louis looks at him with a faux innocence. Harry just rolls his eyes and shakes his head in response before Jeff begins to explain the rules of the game, prompting them to pay attention.
It’s a simple matching game where every contestant has a few items in a covered box. If they win, they’ll get the key to their rice box and a full “Survivor Bathroom” kit made up of a bunch of product endorsements. Louis is going to go to sleep smelling like Herbal Essences tonight if he has anything to do with it. He catches Harry running his fingers through his matted mane of hair and only feels more determined to win this one.
After the director calls cut for the additional explanation time, Jeff asks for one person from each tribe to come forward to pick the order. Louis looks to the others to see who wants to go and is immediately met by all five of their gazes on him. It’s heady, the rush of power that it gives him.
“I can go?” He suggests, like it’s even a question. They all nod along in agreement. Louis presses his lips together to hide his smile and steps forward.
This time is so different from his previous season, and Louis finds that he really likes having people look to and depend on him.
His self-discovering realization is cut short when Jeff holds out a bag and asks them to pick rocks. Louis and the other two tribe representatives reveal simultaneously, and Louis’s stomach drops. He’d picked first turn. In a game of matching, that was the absolute worst position, because he’d be the only one guessing without any information.
He turns back to his tribe with an apology on his lips, but Harry’s shaking his head and smiling at him, eyes twinkling. “Well, since you picked it you have to go first.”
“Whatever, Styles. I bet I make more matches than you.”
“I bet I make more matches than either of you,” Taylor says semi-seriously. Everyone breaks out into laughter, and Louis can see the other tribes looking at them strangely. He honestly doesn’t care.
When Jeff gives them the signal to begin, Louis immediately turns to Zayn, who’s looking steadfastly down at his box. Well, if Louis isn’t going to get it right, he might as well make it fun.
“Hey, Pretty Boy!”
Zayn’s head immediately turns, and Louis can’t help his laugh of glee even as Jeff asks, “Who’s Pretty Boy?”
Louis points at Zayn and teases, “Wow, he looked right at me. Must be my boy, Zayn.”
Zayn, who had previously looked pretty gloomy, rolls his eyes with a hint of a smile. Louis counts it as a win.
“Gotta rock, Pretty Boy?”
“You wish, Tomlinson.” Zayn replies. Louis just shrugs, smile still on his lips. This game is gonna be fun.
“Hatch?” Jeff prompts the next contestant.
“Tommo, gotta rock?”
Louis shakes his head, laughing as he hands his rock over, and Jeff declares, “That’s how you play the game!” with all the overexcited relish expected from a game show host.
That exchange sets a precedent of banter and laughter for the rest of the challenge, and despite Louis’s initial bad luck, Chapera easily pulls ahead of the other two tribes and stays in the lead throughout.
Louis makes his last pair and then it’s just up to Jesy to make one last match. They’re so close Louis can practically feel the soap on his skin.
If Jesy feels the pressure she doesn’t show it, and cool as anything, asks Eleanor for her shell. There’s a moment when they all hold their breath before Eleanor sighs in defeat, “I do have a shell.”
“We had to carry everything we won back to camp, and Niall put the toilet over his head. I’m willing to bet it’s not the first time Niall’s had his head in the toilet.” - Caroline, Chapera
“Harry and I — we’re not so sure it’s a good idea to bathe each other because the others might get the wrong idea — but, soap and scrubs with my boy?” - Tommo, Chapera
Everyone’s spirits are high off the win and their new cleanliness, so they spent the rest of the day after the reward challenge lounging about in the sun. Harry in particular seems to be enjoying it — his tits are out, tattoos and legs on display, and his head is resting on Louis’s thigh. Louis, in turn, is enjoying playing with Harry’s hair.
Harry’s hair is majestic, Louis decides. It smells amazing, and it’s super soft. So it really isn’t Louis’s fault that he keeps petting it, especially when it makes Harry nuzzle up into his hand like an attention-seeking cat.
This might just be the best reward ever.
Their peaceful silence is interrupted by Niall’s stomach rumbling so loudly that Louis jolts, dislodging Harry from his thigh. Harry whines as he shakes the sand from his hair, and Louis presses his fingers to the back of Harry’s neck in a silent apology before hoisting himself to his feet.
“Looks like it’s time to find the key to our rice box. What d’ya say, Nialler?”
“You know I’m always up for some food, Tommo.”
“I’ll go get the clue.” Taylor runs up the beach to their shelter and Louis stretches his arms over his head to shake off the laziness in his muscles before looking down at Harry, scratching his chest idly.
Harry’s expression seems to be caught in between a pout and something…else. Louis lowers his hand from his chest and Harry’s eyes spring up to his, half-lidded and ridiculously green.
Luckily, Taylor comes running back with the clue right then, forcing them to look somewhere other than each other.
“Okay, so it says it’s ten paces from ‘a place you go to find out what’s in store,’ so that’s obviously tree mail,” Taylor says a little breathlessly.
Louis nods, “Okay, then. Let’s get digging.”
Twenty frustrating minutes later they’re still looking for the damn key and debating what constitutes a fucking ‘pace’.
“It’s just a step!” Louis is done with this shit.
“But, like, my step is different than your step.”
“Are you trying to make a comment on my height right now, Harold?”
Harry’s eyes widen. “No! That’s not — I just meant —”
“Just messing with you, H.” Louis tries to hide his fond as he turns and assesses the places they’ve dug up already.
“Maybe we’re digging in the wrong direction?” Taylor calls from the beyond the tree line on the beach.
Louis goes to stand next to their tree mail-box and has to hide a snort at what he sees. Taylor is standing in the middle of a sand hole digging furiously.
“Um, Taylor. I think you’ve gone the wrong way. The clue said behind and in a shallow grave.”
“Well, you haven’t had any luck back there, so I’m gonna try over here and see how it goes.”
Louis raises his hands and backs off. “Okay, then.” He’s not responsible for other people’s stupidity.
Harry pops up beside him. “Do you want some help, Taylor?”
She just shakes her head fiercely. “I’ll dig up this whole beach if I have to.”
If the girl wants to be stubborn, there’s nothing Louis can do to stop her. He pulls Harry away and turns to Niall, who’s on his hands and knees digging a trench where they believe ten paces should be.
“It’s gotta be back here. It’s gotta be. Just-hold on a second.”
Louis stands to the right of the mailbox and takes ten steps forward, which makes him fall slightly short of Niall’s trench. Then, he sticks his shovel down into the ground to his left, and says, “Right here. It’s gonna be right here.”
“Fingers crossed!” Jesy calls from where she’s digging.
“It shouldn’t be deep.” Louis says as he starts to dig, and after just a few shovels, he sees cloth amidst the dirt.
“I got it.” He says, almost to himself. Then, he says it louder, followed by a celebratory shout (maybe a “Yeah, baby!”) and Harry plastered to his back in a koala-style hug. The rest of the tribe joins in the celebration after a few moments with Taylor pulling up the rear, covered in sand and looking a little put-out. Louis gives her a high-five and tries not to look smug.
“Here’s the thing. I looked over, and I saw Taylor building a friggin’ sandcastle on the beach. It’s like she’s twelve years old, you know. She’s got her shovel and everything. This girl’s living in lala-land.” - Tommo, Chapera
Niall does the honors of opening their rice box. Once they’ve pried the top off, they realize it holds not only rice but also a mysterious bottle.
“Guys, that’s alcohol,” Jesy shouts, “That’s whiskey!” She grabs the bottle out of Niall’s hands, pulls out the cork, and takes a sip.
Harry, meanwhile, takes out the rice bag and opens it, sticking a hand in like he’s checking that it's real.
He looks up with a huge smile on his face. “We’ve got rice!”
“We’re dominating the game, you guys. No one can stop us!” Niall shouts in a way that would be obnoxious if it wasn’t Niall. Instead they all laugh, do a series of weird dance moves that has somehow become their team handshake, and eat their fill for the first time since the game started.
Louis has to agree with Niall. No one can stop them.
“I don’t know how any of the other tribes are gonna catch us now. We’re so far ahead of them it’s insane. I feel sorry for ‘em… Not.” - Jesy, Chapera
Harry carries the Chapera banner into their next immunity challenge. When they arrive to the patch of beach where the challenge is taking place, it’s to find rows of giant color-coded tetris pieces, which means it’s going to be a puzzle of some kind.
Once the camera crew signals them, Jeff explains the challenge. “Today, we’re going to test how well you communicate within your own tribe.”
Harry can feel his tribemates relax slightly at that. Chapera is probably the most tight-knit of the tribes, simply because they haven’t yet been sent to tribal council. They haven’t had to conspire against each other or obsessively watch each other’s every move because they haven’t had to send someone home. That clears their mental game. And on top of that, they’ve won both reward challenges, so they have the resources they need to be at the top of their physical game.
Jeff explains that one person from each tribe will act as guide. Three others will be blindfolded while the guide uses vocal directions to help them find fifteen scattered puzzle pieces and bring them back to the team square that’s outlined in the sand. Once all fifteen pieces are in the bounds of the square, they can take off their blindfolds and begin putting the puzzle together to build a cube.
Because Chapera has two more members than the other tribes, Jeff asks them to choose two people to sit out. Harry immediately raises his hand, because he knows what his tribe’s opinion will be on him stumbling around blind while trying to carry giant puzzle pieces. After a quick discussion, it’s decided that Taylor will be the other member to sit out.
He and Taylor make their way to the sidelines while Jesy takes a seat in what looks like a repurposed lifeguard chair and Caroline, Louis, and Niall are led away from the beach so the crew can scatter the puzzle pieces.
Taylor looks downright gleeful. “Mogo Mogo’s halfway to killing each other already, they don’t stand a chance.”
Harry laughs and almost immediately feels guilty for it, because it was entirely up to luck that he got placed on the tribe he did. But he can’t quite get the grin off his face anyway.
When the players are finally called back to the beach, Harry keeps his eyes trained on this tribemates. Jesy looks at home in her perch, Niall seems unbothered by the blindfold, Louis is fidgeting in impatience, and Caroline looks like she’s about start the game herself if Jeff doesn’t do it soon. Luckily she doesn’t have to wait too long.
“Survivors ready? GO!”
Harry is taken aback by the confusion of three different people shouting directions to three people each. He can barely hear himself think, let alone tell Jesy’s voice apart from Mary’s. He doesn’t understand how any of them are actually getting anywhere.
Louis must have the same thought, because about a minute in he starts calling for Jesy rather than waiting for her to direct him.
“Louis, to your right, three steps to your right. Good! Now forward!”
And that’s how they get their first piece piled into the square.
Harry does a little fistpump at Louis’s quick lead, then takes a moment to check in on Caroline and Niall. Caroline has located a second piece, but she’s struggling to get it back to the square. Niall looks like he’s having a much harder time navigating than the other two, but despite that, he’s almost made it to a third block.
Several minutes later, Chapera and Saboga are tied with three pieces each. Harry’s torn between shouting encouragements and keeping quiet so his tribemates aren’t subjected to even more yelling. Meanwhile, Jeff sounds far too happy to be announcing a play-by-play of people falling or getting knocked over amidst the chaos.
Poor Niall looks like he’s getting more and more disoriented the longer he plays; he’s falling more than he’s walking at this point. But Caroline snags the fourth piece for Chapera, and Harry is reminded how fierce she can be when she sets her mind to it.
Harry scans the beach for Louis and finds him struggling to carry back another piece, just in time to watch Louis collide with Eleanor from Saboga. She goes stumbling backwards, but he keeps barreling on like he didn’t even feel it.
Harry sends her a silent apology on Louis’s behalf, but then he’s distracted yet again, this time by a swell of sympathetic noise from Taylor.
“OUCH, looks like Niall’s down!” Jeff’s shouting. “He just got ploughed, took a shot to the chest! Looks like he might be hurt! No, wait, he’s up again, good on you, Niall!
Soon Chapera and Saboga are tied with fourteen pieces each, and Mogo Mogo is only trailing by two. When Caroline brings the last piece across, Jeff calls for Chapera to remove their blindfolds and start piecing the puzzle together. Harry and Taylor exchange high-fives.
“Come on, Chapera! You’ve got this!” Harry doesn’t hesitate to yell encouragements now. If the noise confuses the players still looking for puzzle pieces it can only help his team.
Several minutes later Saboga finishes collecting pieces, and several minutes after that, so does Mogo Mogo. In that time, Chapera has made almost no progress fitting their pieces together.
Slowly but surely, the other tribes catch up and pass Chapera. They’re trying their best, but it seems like they they’re struggling to figure out the bigger picture -- they literally don’t understand what the designs on the completed cube are supposed to look like. They’ve all been clobbered by giant tetris pieces at least once, and everyone’s too high off adrenaline and frustration to slow down and think logically.
Harry doesn’t mean for his focus to stay so fixed on Louis, but that’s what happens. It’s hard to watch and do nothing. Louis looks like he’s already blaming himself for losing the lead, like he wants to scream and shout and hit things but is trying to stay level-headed so that Caroline and Niall will too.
Harry’s so busy watching his tribe, leaning forward till he’s almost doubled over, that he doesn’t realize how close Saboga is to finishing until Jeff’s declaring Saboga the winner.
“Chapera, Mogo Mogo, you still have a shot at immunity, keep fighting!
Harry mostly tunes him out again in favor of clutching at Taylor’s hand and holding tight, but Caroline must take it to heart because suddenly she’s knocking down whatever progress they’d made.
“It’s not right!” She shouts, fighting to be heard over Saboga celebrating their win and Mogo Mogo scrambling to finish. “We have to start over or we’re going to keep building it wrong!”
Logically, Harry knows that there’s almost no way they can come back from this. But for some reason it’s not processing correctly, because he’s so sure that they’ll pull through and keep immunity. It seems less likely that they wouldn’t come back from it — they’ve won every challenge thrown at them so far. They can’t just stop winning now.
“Come on, Mogo Mogo! Send one of them home!” Harry distantly recognizes Liam’s voice and bristles. He understands why Saboga is siding with Mogo Mogo. That doesn’t quell the surprising urge he has to glare at Liam until he shuts up.
When Mogo Mogo finishes their puzzle a few minutes later, Chapera doesn’t have anything that even vaguely resembles a cube.
Harry lets himself put his head in his hands for a few seconds, listening to the other tribes celebrate. He’s lucky to have had the luxury of the last twelve days, but they’d done so much team playing he’d lost sight of the fact that Survivor is, at the end of the day, a single-player game.
He, Taylor, and Jesy go to stand with the rest of Chapera so the cameras can get a good shot of Jeff’s dismissal. Harry’s thinking about who to eliminate before Jeff even addresses them.
“Chapera, first time at tribal council. First member to be voted out of the tribe tonight. You have the rest of the afternoon to figure out who that’s gonna be. Head back to camp.
Before Jeff is finished talking, Louis is stalking out, head bent. Harry finds himself just a step behind him — finds he wants to comfort their de facto team leader. But as soon as he catches up, Louis brushes him off.
Harry sighs, but tells himself that Louis needs space more than comfort right now. He turns instead to the rest of his deflated tribemates. They could use some cheering up, and Harry is more than willing to help.
“Today was our first immunity loss. I mean, this is the first time we’ve got to go to tribal council. Day 12 and we’ve really just gotta start playing the game now.” - Tommo, Chapera
“Today’s challenge was especially frustrating. I think the crew we had in there wasn’t necessarily our best puzzle building team, and I think if I had been in there we could have won. I hope the lesson learned here is that my tribe needs me.” - Taylor, Chapera
The walk back from the challenge is exhausting and humiliating. The majority of his tribe is quiet, lost in their own thoughts, but Harry is doing his best at the front of the group to make everyone feel better.
“That was so frustrating! The other tribes were just lucky, I think.”
“I know!” Taylor chimes in. “We totally had them, and then out of nowhere—”
“You think you’re getting somewhere, and you have to start all over again. It was all luck, I’m telling you. You guys were great,” Harry glances back at his battered tribemates with a smile, and for once, Louis can’t muster one in return.
It just sucks, is the thing. Because when Louis had stepped off that boat on Day 1 he had been totally prepared to play this game. But now, after twelve days of bonding with these people, it’s going to be a lot harder to cut one off. And Louis knows that the final decision will come down to him.
He knows it has to be between the girls. Niall will be easy to lead, and it’s obviously not going to be Harry. So for him it comes down to Caroline, Jesy, or Taylor, and they each have their pros and cons.
Louis sighs, and then, for the benefit of the cameras says, “It’s always this way. You can’t just have, like, a really good run.” He lets go of his train of thought once they reach their camp and the producers take Taylor for her confessional.
Before she goes, Taylor approaches him. “I felt so bad for you guys, taking all those body-shots like that. You okay?”
Louis shrugs. “It was a tough challenge.”
She nods and goes off to the beach with a camera crew in tow. Louis’s mind starts working a million miles a minute.
Jesy or Caroline would be the obvious choices for the vote tonight, since both are argumentative and not very helpful. Jesy’s good in challenges, which is a plus for her. But Taylor. Taylor is smart. Taylor’s the kind of player who could put a wrench in his plans down the road.
Louis needs to think this through. All the possible scenarios. Then he’ll make his decision.
“There’s three possible ways the vote could go tonight: Taylor, Caroline, or Jesy. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but when I do, that’s who’s going home.” - Tommo, Chapera
After his confessional, where Louis had played up to his role of being the over-confident leader of the tribe, he comes back to a surprisingly normal camp. Niall’s eating some rice. Caroline and Taylor are laying in the shelter. Jesy’s chopping some firewood and Harry’s tending to the fire. It doesn’t look like anyone is scrambling to make sure they’re not voted out tonight, which is good. It means that Louis has done enough to make everyone feel comfortable with their position in the game.
But. Something seems a bit off.
Louis needs to talk to Harry.
“I’m going down to the water to clean up,” Louis announces to the group at large, catching Harry’s eye for a moment and tilting his head toward the beach as the rest of the tribe just murmurs their acknowledgement.
So Louis heads down to the water and Harry follows him a few minutes later.
Before Louis can begin to speak, Harry asks, “So, who do you think?”
It kind of startles Louis when he takes a look at Harry and sees the steely glint in his eye before he remembers that Harry’s here to play this game too. He shakes the feeling off and pushes it to the far recesses of his mind to examine later.
“I was thinking Caroline, because she does absolutely nothing, but I’m actually leaning more toward Taylor, if I’m honest. She’s—”
Harry nods. “Too smart to keep around. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.”
Woah. When did they start finishing each other’s sentences? When did that happen?
“Also, I’m pretty sure she’s trying to start an all girls alliance,” Harry adds.
That’s news to Louis. “Wait. What?”
A little furrow appears on Harry’s brow as he looks at Louis. “Um, I mean, yeah. Like, haven’t you noticed her going off with Jesy and Caroline all the time? And I mean, we haven’t exactly kept our alliance a secret, so since her options were limited-”
Louis cannot believe how blind, how complacent, he’s been these past few days. The only way to stay ahead in this game is to make sure you know where everyone’s heads are at, and he’d done a piss poor job of it so far, obviously. He was lucky he had Harry, otherwise he’d be sunk.
Something in Louis’s expression must worry Harry because suddenly he’s saying, “I’m sorry. I know you said you wanted us to keep our alliance to ourselves, and it’s probably my fault because I’m terrible at being subtle. I just-I’m sorry but, like, I think-”
“Woah, woah, Harry. Stop. I’m not mad at you. I just-I didn’t know that’s what Taylor was doing.” He hadn’t, but Harry had. Maybe Louis had been underestimating him this whole time. Harry obviously wasn’t as naive and easygoing as he seemed. While that meant another error of judgment on Louis’s part, it also meant that he had a strong strategic player on his side. So — it’s not all bad.
Now as for strategy…
“We need to make sure we have either Caroline or Jesy on our side of the vote.” Louis doesn’t second-guess himself as he reaches out to put his hand on Harry’s shoulder. He’s just calming his boy down. His alliance member. Whatever.
“We need to be smart about this, okay? And that means you should be the one to talk to them. You’re much closer to the girls than I am, and way more trustworthy.”
Somewhere along the way, Louis’s hand had started stroking up and down Harry’s arm, and…well, Harry doesn’t seem to mind, so Louis doesn’t feel like he should stop.
“Okay, yeah. I can do that. But, like, what’s our argument?”
Harry has started to lean forward like he can’t afford to miss a single word Louis says, and Louis shifts his weight to his right hip, curving his body towards Harry. It’s a posture that Louis finds completely comfortable, almost like this is how they were made to fit together.
He looks back up at Harry’s questioning eyes and curses himself for being so easily and continuously distracted by this boy. He needs to get his shit together.
Louis clears his throat and takes a step back. “The obvious argument is that Taylor is a former winner. Do we really want someone who already walked away with the million to get another chance at it?”
Harry nods in agreement, so Louis continues. “If that doesn’t work, you can always offer them top three with us.”
Harry’s brow furrows. “But isn’t that Niall?”
“He’s never asked, and I never offered.” Louis shrugs. “Maybe he considers it unspoken, but it won’t matter anyways. We don’t have to honor a top three agreement made before the merge. Things’ll change so quickly then that it won’t hold.”
Harry looks skeptical, so Louis pokes the butterfly that sits on Harry’s ridiculous torso. “C’mon, Curly. I know you can talk them around. You’re a whole new level of charming.”
Harry ducks his head and pushes Louis shoulder. “You’re an idiot.”
Louis grins as he looks towards the horizon and sees that the sun is starting to dip towards the ocean. “We don’t have much time before tribal, so we need to get this thing squared away. You just keep me updated, okay? I’ll let Niall know it’s Taylor.”
Louis turns to walk back up the beach.
“Wait. Louis—” Louis looks over his shoulder at Harry, and it’s hard seeing him look so vulnerable after seeing him look so determined just a few minutes before. Louis is beginning to realize there’s more to Harry than his funny patterned shirts and affable expression, and while it may be interesting to Louis on a personal level he’s not quite ready to admit to, it’s a little scary to think that Harry might just be playing him.
A flicker of something passes across Harry’s face before he shakes his head. “Nevermind. I’ll let you know how my talk with the girls goes.”
Louis wants to press the issue. He wants to know what Harry was going to say. What it would mean for their alliance moving forward. Their flirting had gotten them this far, and while Louis had thought he’d had it under control, he now sees that the lines are far too blurred to tell who has the upper hand anymore. And that should scare him more than it does.
But — he knows deep down that even if Harry turns on him later, he’s at least with him for this vote, so he pushes everything else from his mind. He’ll take it one vote at a time if he has to. As long as his name isn’t written down, he doesn’t care if it’s Harry pulling the strings.
He’d come out here to play a game for a million dollars, not to be sidetracked by some boy who’s out here trying to win the same prize. As Jeff always says: There can only be one Survivor, and Louis didn’t come here to settle for second place.
An idea strikes Louis as he moves up the beach. A way to guarantee no votes will be thrown his or Harry’s way. A move that Louis can take credit for.
He approaches Taylor on the outskirts of camp and signals for her to follow him.
The settle a little ways down the beach, and she breaks the silence, “So what’s your pitch, Tommo?”
“No pitch, Taylor. I’m letting you know that you need to watch your back.”
He can practically hear Taylor’s neck snap as she whips around to look at him. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that there are a lot of players who don’t want to see former winners make it to the merge.”
“Is it going to be me tonight?” Taylor’s eyes widen in fear, and Louis honestly feels a little bad about what he’s about to do. But it is a game, and Taylor already won her million dollars.
“That’s what I heard from Jesy. But if it’s not you, it’s me, so I say we create an alliance of our own.”
She narrows her eyes, and Louis leans into his pitch. “Look, I know we don’t really get along, but think of it like a marriage of necessity. If you go, then I’m next. But I think I can convince the others to vote Caroline if you agree to stick with me. I don’t want to hear about you going behind my back with some all-girls alliance or anything like that.”
Taylor sighs and puts her head in her hands for a second before looking up at Louis. “Okay. Fine. But if you screw me, Tommo, so help me…”
“Don’t worry, Taylor. We’d all be dumb to keep Caroline over you. I mean, I bet you would've been a big help in the challenge today.” Louis is talking out of his ass, and Taylor is eating it up. Poor thing.
“That’s what I’ve been saying!” She says, throwing her arms in the air in exasperation. “Okay. I’m in. Do I need to talk to anybody?”
Louis shakes his head. “No. Let Caroline think you’re the one going home. I don’t really want to deal with her dramatics if she catches wind of this.”
Taylor nods and holds her hand out to shake. Louis takes her hand and does a little victory dance in his head. If the rest of the game plays out like this, he and Harry will be unstoppable.
“I made an alliance with Tommo, and I don’t know if I can trust him..but I’ve got his back one hundred percent and we’ll see how far we can take this thing.” - Taylor, Chapera
“Go ahead and grab a torch and dip it in the fire.”
They enter the proverbial lion’s den that is the tribal council set. Louis has always thought it was a little over the top and just this side of racist, but...if there’s one thing Jeff and the Survivor producers love, it’s dramatics.
Louis grabs his torch and joins the others by the fire pit.
“This is part of the ritual of tribal council because as you know, fire represents life on the island and in this game. As long you have fire, you’re still in the game. When your fire’s gone, so are you.”
Louis rolls his eyes, and he doesn’t care if the cameras catch it. Jeff is enjoying this way too much.
Once they’ve all settled in their assigned seats (the producers had placed him and Harry next to each other, so Louis knows there will be a few questions about their relationship thrown into the mix), Jeff dives right in.
“First time for Chapera at tribal council. So let’s talk about the first twelve days. Niall, is this tougher physically than the first time you played?”
Niall shrugs. “It’s pretty tough. All the challenges so far, I’ve had to suck it up. But when you go all out, as this tribe has done, every challenge — it’ll get to ‘ya.”
Jeff turns to Harry, and Louis unintentionally tenses.
“Harry, seeing as you were our youngest contestant ever when you first played, is there anything you’ve learned in your normal life since then that you think you can contribute out here?”
Louis doesn’t like the way Jeff is smiling at Harry. And why is he even bringing up Harry’s age anyway? What a creep.
Harry shifts in his seat before he starts to answer, voice slow and rough and ridiculous. “I think, um, that I’m very good at, like. Controlling my temper and not, you know, losing it. And I think we have a few on our tribe who, uh. Tend to lose their temper pretty quickly or throw fits, and I think I’m very good at calming people down. Talking some sense into them.”
Louis smiles a shit-eating grin. He knows what part he’s supposed to play for the cameras.
“Who does lose their temper?” Jeff asks, like the gossip he is.
Harry giggles before tilting his head to look at Louis. He hesitates, like he doesn’t really want to bring Louis into this, which is sweet. “Well, I think, uh. Louis and Jesy kind of argue back and forth a little bit-"
Jesy throws her hands up and interrupts Harry. “We only did once. How many times have we argued?”
“The one time. We quelled that real quick.” Louis agrees easily. Sure, he still has problems with Jesy sometimes, but they don’t have all out shouting matches like they had that second day.
“We put an end to it.” Jesy says with finality, like she’s daring Jeff to question them. Alright, so there are some things Louis likes about Jesy. Sometimes.
Jeff smartly moves on. “By the way, Niall, how are you feeling? Because you took a hard hit to the chest or the head today...”
“Well, I didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure.” Everyone laughs, and it’s a nice break in the tension that had been mounting as they sat there. Niall is a good sort to have around in these situations. “And the only thing I ask is that I want the tag number off the truck that hit me.”
Harry lets out a honk of a laugh that startles Louis but prompts him into a peal of laughter of his own.
After they’ve all settled down, Jeff continues. “First twelve days for Chapera, up until today, have been pretty cush. Niall, are you noticing relationships form?”
Louis knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make plastering the smile on his face any easier. He reminds himself that he has to play their relationship off as no big deal. It’s all fun and games. He just needs to smile and not look at Harry too much.
Niall laughs, but there’s a bit of a nervous tinge to it. It’s obvious Niall doesn’t want to be the one who throws them under the bus, but — they are making reality television. There has to be drama. “There’s a little bit of, I don’t know, cuddlin’ and…it might be a little grindin’ there late one night.” Louis makes a show of laughing it off, but out of the corner of his eye, he sees Harry’s shoulders curl forward.
Jeff’s got a glint in his eye now. “You looked at Tommo when you said that.”
“Well, I’ve been kind of watching them a bit, and he doesn’t sleep on his back every night.” This time Niall looks Louis right in the eyes as he says it, as if to say, ‘I’m not wrong.’ The little shit.
“Who you sleeping next to, Tommo?”
Louis doesn’t hesitate. “I’m sleeping next to Harry.”
“Are you blushing?” Jeff is looking right at Harry so Louis feels it’s okay for him to look, too. It doesn’t look like Harry is blushing so much as it looks like he’s extremely uncomfortable. It makes something ugly settle in Louis’s chest.
“No,” Harry says simply.
“Little bit?” Jeff needs to cut the bullshit. Louis’s about to say something to take the focus off Harry, but then Harry tilts his head, grins coyly, and says, “No.”
“A little something going on?” Probst is officially on Louis’ shitlist.
Harry gets a little defensive, hunched forward with his elbows resting on his knees, hands clasped in front of him. “I’m twenty-five. I’m young! Having fun.”
“I’m thirty-five, still young, watching you have fun.” Caroline chimes in. Everyone laughs, but Louis can tell Harry’s is forced. Something isn’t right.
“Is there a little snuggling going on with Tommo?”
“Need to keep warm at night.” And there’s that look Louis saw on the beach today. Jaw-locked, eyes steely. It’s a look that doesn’t sit right on Harry, like a hand-me-down coat that fits awkwardly around his shoulders.
“So this is strictly survival cuddling?” Strangely, Louis finds himself wanting to deny, deny, deny. Which. Wasn’t part of the plan.
He doesn’t have to worry, though, because Harry does it for him. “I’m out here to play the game of Survivor. I’m not out here to play a dating game.”
Something tense settles in the space between them, and Louis only notices because it’s the first time he’s ever felt anything other than comfortable around Harry. He tries to assure himself that it’s just Probst messing with their heads, but this defensive, unsmiling Harry isn’t the Harry that Louis knows.
But then, Louis reminds himself, he’s only known Harry for twelve days. Who’s to say that the boy sitting next to him right now isn’t the real Harry?
Louis immediately dismisses the idea. He knows his boy. His alliance member. His partner. Whatever.
Jeff turns his questioning elsewhere. “Jesy, give me the straight scoop.”
Jesy answers with twelve days of pent-up emotion. “Okay, these two are — you can’t even get in between them. You gotta be kidding me. Seriously, they’re very close.” As much as she’s throwing them under the bus, Louis has to admit that he’s glad it’s not all in his head.
“I wouldn’t even try to sleep next to Tommo and push Harry to the other side,” She continues, elaborate hand gestures and everything. “That’s out of the question.”
Finally, Jeff turns to Louis. “Does that concern you, Tommo? That there might be an impression formed?”
Louis shrugs, all confident nonchalance. “No. It’s obvious. I mean, we’ve been flirting with each other since day one — since we got out here.” He glances at Harry, who’s still stoic, and thinks that he better cover his bases just in case. “But in terms of the game, there’s gonna be one winner, and my commitment to the game is first and foremost.” Good. This way even if he does get blindsided, he won’t come across as a total lovestruck idiot.
Jeff, seemingly satisfied that he got the perfect soundbite, moves on. “So let’s talk about how you’re going to vote someone out tonight. What do you base it on, Niall?”
Louis tunes out his answer and focuses all of his energy on Harry without actually looking at him. Maybe if he — Louis leans forward so that his fist is even with Harry’s right shoulder blade, makes a thumbs up sign, and presses it into Harry’s back.
Before he can check his reaction, Jeff’s asking him another question.
“What could cause you to get voted off tonight, Tommo?”
“I guess my mug, my attitude — what else, Harry?” There’s an uncomfortable beat when Harry doesn’t answer right away like he would have at camp, and Louis immediately knows he’s made a mistake.
“Wow. You guys really have become a couple. You just asked your ‘wife’-”
“I find that offensive.” Louis says, as Harry protests, “I’d prefer spouse, Jeff.”
They catch each other’s eyes, and for the first time at tribal it seems like they’re on the same page. Louis grins, and Harry’s answering grin is brighter than the fire right behind him.
“Anyway, that’s pretty telling. What else could get Tommo in trouble?” Jeff just does not know when to give up.
Harry turns back to Jeff, and Louis tries not to glare. “I just think he’s got a big mouth, and he needs to keep it shut sometimes. At challenges, at camp, all the time. He has a big mouth and he needs to keep it shut.”
“I’m very emotional, Jeff,” Louis says, full of put-on bravado.
Jeff rolls his eyes at Louis’s cheek, and Louis just regrets the fact that it probably won’t make the final edit.
“Okay. It is time to vote. Taylor, you’re up.”
As soon as Taylor heads to the voting area, Louis turns to Harry, but before he can say anything, he feels something against his ankle. When he looks down, he sees Harry’s fist in a thumbs up. Louis has to tuck his lips in between his teeth to bite down on the grin that threatens to take over his entire face.
So it seems like things are good. Or mostly at least.
The rest of the tribe goes to vote, and Louis doesn’t feel comfortable exactly, because you can never feel comfortable in this game. But he also isn’t worried. All things should go according to plan.
Jeff comes back with the urn and says with grandeur, “Once the votes are read, the decision is final. The person voted out will be asked to leave the tribal council area immediately. I’ll read the votes.”