Now if we're talking body
You got a perfect one
So put it on me
* * *
THE MORNING AFTER, 9:52 A.M.
Harry woke to wispy brown hair the color of caramel and honey. He couldn't remember Kendall dying her hair such a lighter shade or cutting it so short.
And then he remembered that she hadn't and the person lying half atop him wasn’t Kendall.
The panic that followed was sudden and instantaneous. Harry must have moved or made a noise of some sort causing his bedmate to shift his head and reposition his body as if disturbed.
Oh, the irony of it all.
If anyone was disturbed, it was Harry.
There was a pile of clothing just visible on the floor to his right, the shirt he’d worn last night and a red thong that he didn’t recognize. He took in the similarly naked boy covering his body and, without needing any further indication, surmised that the previous night hadn’t gone exactly as it was meant to.
For one, cheating on his fiancée hadn’t been part of the plan.
Sleeping with a man hadn’t been either.
With another grumble of discontent, the boy lifted his wild head, tendrils of hair sticking out and up like he’d been electrocuted, and he set his sleepy blue eyes on Harry.
“Ah, fuck,” he groaned.
Harry needed to pause a second right then to admire how vibrant his eyes were. Never had he seen a color so closely resembling the sea. But the boy rolled off of him, nearly falling in his attempt to put space between their bodies. Somehow, he managed to plant his feet on the ground.
“You don’t have to leave,” Harry found himself saying. Which…that probably wasn’t quite right. Normally when you’re engaged to be married and find yourself in bed with someone other than your fiancée, you don’t invite that someone to stay.
“No, pal, I really do,” the boy said, pulling on the red thong and scrambling for his Velcro leather trousers. If Harry possessed even a dash of better judgment, he would agree with him. But he was hungover and half-asleep and focused intently on the jiggle of this boy’s ass when he hopped into his trousers. He really did want him to stay.
“Tommy, right?” Harry said, smiling at the sudden recollection. “Tommy Sweetthighs.”
The boy smirked as he pulled his jacket on over his bare chest. “That’s me.”
“You never told me your real name,” Harry said.
“This your wallet?” Tommy waved Harry’s brown wallet in the air.
Harry rubbed his eyes, pulled himself upright. But then the pain in his head panged sharp and strong and he eased himself back down into his pillow. “Yes. Take what you want. Except for the bankcards. Please leave those.”
Tommy laughed. “Bye, Curly. Thanks for the ride.”
* * *
EIGHT HOURS EARLIER, 2:21 A.M.
For future reference, “ride” should be considered in the very literal sense of the word.
In the morning, Harry probably wouldn’t remember most of his night but he'd never forget this:
This boy rode Harry like he was a get away car, or fucking Greased Lightning, whatever. He rode him like his one solitary purpose in life was to snap his hips as hard and fast against Harry's as he could.
Tommy. Tommy Sweetthighs was what he’d called himself but when they’d first stumbled into Harry’s bedroom, Harry had been adamant about getting a real name out of him.
“Hey. What’s your name?” Harry asked when his door swung shut.
The boy dropped to his knees and tugged Harry’s trousers and pants down to his feet. “You know my name, babe. It’s Tommy.”
Harry shook his head, going a bit dizzy because of the booze, and because he had this glorious creature eager to get a hand on his dick. “Your real name,” he found the strength to articulate.
“You don’t like Tommy?” was the boy’s response. He stroked Harry for a second, and then ducked to suck his left nut into his mouth. “You can call me whatever you’d like,” he said, licking his lips.
“I want to call you your real name. What your friends call you.” Leave it to Harry to be well on his way to getting down with a stripper and still find room for concern with cordiality.
Tommy stood up and pushed Harry back towards his king-sized bed. “Is that what you want? Or do you want to fuck me?” he asked. “I’m personally interested in the latter.”
And yeah…Harry had conceded to call him Tommy because he definitely, absolutely wanted to fuck him too.
The boy was insane, in the best way insanity might be ascribed to a person. He sucked Harry off while fingering himself, stretching himself open with three, maybe four fingers. He rolled a condom over Harry’s cock…with his mouth. Yes, his mouth.
And then came the fucking. Tommy made it seem like he’d actually let himself be fucked when that wasn’t quite what went down. He wouldn’t allow Harry to flip him over, maybe as a safety measure, maybe because he didn’t want to be controlled. He kept his delicate fingers wrapped tight around Harry’s wrists and pressed them into the pillows above his head.
Harry thought that if he really wanted to, he could break his hold, as drunk as he was. But he was enjoying this too much. He’d enjoy it even more if he could only touch.
"You're beautiful,” Harry said. Tommy focused his eyes on him. “So fucking beautiful. Fuck. Wanna touch you, please?”
“Beautiful, huh?” Tommy chuckled.
“Yes, yes. Let me touch you,” Harry babbled.
Tommy stared at him for five seconds longer, at the same time trading the fast bucking of his hips for a slow sensual undulation. Then he released Harry's hands, planting his palms on Harry’s chest instead.
Harry sat upright immediately, momentarily taking Tommy by surprise because he squeaked and reached for the headboard to steady himself. Harry dipped his head, sealed his mouth around his right nipple and sucked hard, his tongue teasing over the nub.
"Fuck," Tommy breathed out. And then he was back on high speed.
The bed was new, as was mostly everything else in Harry’s room (technically his and Kendall’s), but it squeaked loudly anyway, near to breaking with the force of their bodies moving together.
Harry thrusted his hips up, hands going around Tommy’s slim waist to grasp his bum. Their eyes met and locked, trapping Harry in a turbulent ocean blue.
Tommy kissed him, his mouth open and wet. He bit on Harry's lips, hard enough to draw blood and maybe he did. Harry didn’t know. Harry couldn’t tell. Every feeling compacted into one until there was nothing else but pure euphoria.
Harry knew when he came though because for about two seconds everything went black and then he was falling back, fading into his Egyptian cotton sheets.
"Holy fuck..." he whispered when Tommy collapsed atop him. Minutes, maybe seconds later, they were both asleep.
* * *
FIVE HOURS EARLIER, 9:06 P.M.
Niall and Emily were living proof that marriage could be fun.
They were like two kids on an endless roller coaster ride, one where you never got sick or tired of being dizzy. You never slowed down, and there was never any reason to. Not when you were having fun.
When he was younger, Harry aspired to have something like that and someone who filled life with never-ending roller coasters.
He didn’t know what it meant that he hardly had fun with Kendall anymore. Especially what it meant when they weren't yet married.
Answers or none, the wedding would happen in less than a month. Maybe later he could sit and reflect on all his anxiety. But tonight, he was meant to celebrate, or at least try.
“What does it mean that I’m unhappy before getting married?” he found himself asking while Niall poured him and Liam more shots.
“Wedding jitters,” Niall said. “Or blues. Whatever you want to call them. It’s normal.”
Harry took his shot, bared his teeth when it burned. He didn’t even know what Niall was pouring him anymore and he couldn’t say he cared. “So you had them too? With Em?”
Niall seemed to think hard on that question, recalling memories of two years past. “I can’t remember. But I’m sure, yeah.”
“I think wedding jitters are more about the ceremony,” Liam added. “Like being worried about tripping on your way down the isle or spilling wine on your wife’s dress at the reception.”
“What about when you have jitters about the person you’re marrying?” Harry specified.
Liam thought about it. “Yeah. That doesn’t sound good.”
Niall handed Harry another shot. “You’re freaking yourself out, H. Look, all these people are here to celebrate with you. Get drunk, let the worries float away, party hard.”
Harry threw the shot back, felt it sting again in his nostrils and at the back of his throat. “Yeah,” he said more to himself than to Niall or Liam. He shook his shoulders out. “Okay.”
The doorbell rang again for the first time in an hour since Harry’s bachelor party had kicked off. He was vaguely amazed any more people were showing up. Surely, by now, they’d broken the fire code.
“Must be them,” Liam said grinning. He slinked away toward the foyer.
“Must be who?” Harry said as an afterthought, still in the midst of giving himself a low scale pep talk.
“Got a little surprise for you,” Niall said, his smile stretching wide.
Harry’s eyes narrowed into slits. “No,” he said, starting to move his head side to side. “I thought we agreed? We agreed, remember? ‘No strippers.’ That’s what we said.”
“It’s okay, man. This is different,” Niall said, hooking his arm around Harry’s shoulders and dragging him out of the kitchen.
“Then there aren’t strippers at the door?” Harry asked.
Niall smirked. “Not the ones you’d expect.” He gave Harry a push so he collapsed on the couch surrounded by all his guests.
“Ladies, gents,” Niall shouted over the party din, clapping his hands together. Everyone quieted down immediately. “I have a very special gift for my very special best mate.”
Harry squeezed at his eyelids. They’d agreed only a week ago. No strippers.
Harry opened his eyes to Liam leading two people into the room. He made a mental note to require written agreements with Niall from now on, typed and signed, perhaps notarized. And then the mental note disintegrated on its way to his hippocampus.
There was a boy in front of him, possibly Harry’s age or maybe a bit older. He was…
Harry reached for his drink on the coffee table ahead of him and took a long gulp.
He was glorious. Petite and curved in every way that was right and good. Wearing just the cuffs and collar of a dress shirt, his tan torso was exposed with a tattoo painting the space beneath his collarbones.
Harry polished off his glass. Someone refilled it, and he drank again. It didn’t help. His throat was bone dry.
“Good evening, everyone,” the boy said, setting his playful eyes on Harry. The beams from the overhead lights refracted on the black glitter bowtie adorning his collar. He moved forward, his legs clad in tight leather trousers.
Harry glanced at Niall, who was laughing and shooting him a thumbs-up. This was a joke. It was meant to be a joke. Something to play along with and laugh about later. But Harry’s cock gave a twitch, well before the boy closed the distance between them, and there was nothing funny about this situation.
In all 24 years of life, Harry had never taken time to sit and consider his sexuality. Odd, yes, but he’d been a bit of a nerd all through schooling, too focused on drawing any and all knowledge from his music teachers and trying his best at early composing.
It wasn’t like he resented that either. He’d made millions from song writing, was well on his way to recording his own music soon. You didn’t gain the kind of recognition Harry had without hard work and diligence and yeah, okay, maybe some sacrifice in the sexual department.
Anyway. The point was—fuck, what was the point? The boy stepped in front of him and Harry saw now that his brilliant blue eyes were lined with black eyeliner.
Harry’s lips parted so he could draw in a breath.
The point was that up until this moment right here, he had never ever been more unmistakably turned on by another man. Turned on to the highest setting, turned on past levels of danger and precaution, turned on without any hope of turning off.
“Hello, love,” the boy said—or maybe it was more correct to call him a man, or maybe…whatever, Harry didn’t care. He reached out and pressed his gentle fingers into Harry’s shoulder. All four card suits encircled his wrist in red and black ink. “You can call me Tommy.”
Harry licked his lips. “Tommy?”
“Yes. Sweetthighs, if you like surnames. Should we call you Curly?” he asked, tugging at a curl near the nape of Harry’s neck.
“But that’s not really your surname,” Harry said. He focused on his thighs for a second. “Though, I guess it fits,” he mumbled. He wanted to sink his teeth into Tommy’s namesake, leave marks between his legs that would last for days.
“You’re a nervous talker, aren’t you?” Tommy murmured.
Tommy Sweetthighs. Harry was still repeating that in his head, trying to keep up.
Without warning, Tommy turned and planted himself in Harry’s lap, just as the music started thumping. He gyrated his plump little ass over Harry’s crotch, dipping his back so it stood out just right.
Harry could eat him out like this with ease. The thought popped into his head unbidden, and he was stumped that it had popped into his head at all. God, what was happening to him?
Tommy bracketed Harry’s legs with his own legs spread wide and rotated his hips in Harry’s lap to the beat of the music.
There were people watching them. But Harry was grateful for the dark lighting in the room to hide the hard line of his dick in his skinny jeans. Of course, Tommy chose right then to hop up. Harry slid his hand over his crotch. He didn’t have to cover himself for long though, only until Tommy turned and straddled him.
“Jesus, fuck…” Harry said, his eyes running over his chest for a second, over the tattoos, over his nipples, and then back up to his face. He smelled good too: sweet and spicy like cinnamon sugar.
“Your Irish friend told me you weren’t gay,” Tommy said, rolling his body and running his hands down Harry’s torso.
“No…” Harry’s own hands itched to touch. “I didn’t think so?”
Tommy laughed. “Well then…surprise,” he said with a glance at Harry’s crotch.
He hopped off Harry’s lap again and strolled to the other guests in the room, swinging his hips and spreading lap dances like Santa bestowed gifts and Christmas cheer. Harry covered his crotch again and watched. But not for long. It did nothing to cool him down.
“Come into the kitchen for a sec?” Niall suddenly appeared at Harry’s side and said.
A few people patted Harry on the back, or ruffled his hair, as he maneuvered through the throng of party guests, though most were too focused on the strippers to notice him.
Niall stepped into the kitchen and turned to face him, licking his lips. “So.”
Harry tucked his hands into his pockets, grateful his partner down below had started to settle down.
“I don’t know what you’re planning to say but we agreed no strippers,” Harry reiterated.
“Yeah, lady strippers. This is different. This was just a joke.”
Harry crossed his arms over his chest instead, unsure what to do with any part of his body. “Yeah, I got that bit.”
“Just…you know, you weren’t laughing,” Niall said. “You looked kind of…I don’t know. Affected?”
“Very affected,” Harry mumbled and then it all hit him. He slid his hands down his face, his eyes going wide. “Holy fuck…”
“What’s going on?” Niall said gently.
Harry didn’t know. He shook his head, feeling frantic, scared even. “I don’t know.”
“Are you…” Niall licked his lips again. “I hope you know that if you’re like…gay or something, you could tell me. Always. No judgment or anything. Even if you’re marrying a woman in a few weeks.”
“I don’t know,” Harry said again. “Maybe.”
“Maybe?” Niall said.
Harry thought about it, actually considered the possibility that he might be gay. The logistics were too much right then, when he was drunk and emotional. He only knew a few things for certain.
“He’s just really fucking hot. His bum is like a peach,” Harry blurted. “Where did you find him?”
Niall laughed, patting Harry on the shoulder. “Liam found both of them. He called around.”
“I don’t know what this all means but I’ve never been that attracted to anyone in my life,” Harry said. “And I’ve never thought anything about it but I suppose there might have been other men in the past…that I’ve found attractive.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Niall assured him. “Maybe it's not the gender of the person that matters. I just wish I had known that before I set you up like this,” he said with a wince.
Now Harry laughed, feeling a bit relieved, enough that he could breathe more easily.
“Just have fun. That’s the point. That’s what we paid for,” Niall said. “I mean, obviously don’t like sleep with him or anything. But have fun.”
“Obviously,” Harry said, offended that Niall would even suggest such a thing. He was engaged, for Christ's sake.
Harry didn’t see when Niall had a chance to pour him a fresh drink, but next thing he knew Niall was thrusting it into his hands. Harry downed it. He felt Niall pushing him back into the depths of the party where Tommy was up on a table, thrusting his hips in front of some eager woman’s face.
He wasn’t wearing the leather trousers anymore. Just a red thong. Harry’s vision blurred. Niall gave him a shove forward and left him to have the DJ pump up the volume.
“I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas suddenly blasted on high. A hundred people filling the expanse of Harry’s luxury flat threw their hands into the air and yelled and swayed to the disco beat.
Harry weaved his way back through the crowd until he was stood in front of Tommy.
“That suits you very well,” he shouted over the music, pointing at Tommy’s ass and the red thong.
Tommy hopped off the table and started walking circles around Harry, sliding his hand over his hips. “Thanks. I wore it for you.”
“We should dance,” Harry suggested.
Tommy’s sexy smolder faltered. For one second, he looked like he wanted to laugh. “Thought that’s what we were doing,” he said, sounding genuinely confused.
“No, you’re like dancing for me, which I understand ‘cause that’s your job. And you know, it’s great, you’re great. But like, we should dance together. Normal dancing, not for show. Just you and me. You can leave the trousers off though.”
Tommy bit into his bottom lip and grinned, the black eyeliner more apparent when his eyes crinkled at the corners. “It’s your party. You can have whatever you want.”
“Well, in that case. I’d like you, please,” Harry said boldly, not entirely sure where it came from. He was just flirting. He did that a lot. Just flirting.
“I’m yours,” Tommy assured him and then he looped his finger into Harry’s belt buckle and pulled him closer, started swaying his lovely lithe body.
Harry slid his hands over his hips and watched him move. Boy, could he move.
Someone brought shots around, Patron and Peach Ciroc and something else, Harry wasn’t sure. There were Jell-O shots involved too. Harry and Tommy had one of each.
He caught sight of the other stripper—Zaddy Z, he was apparently called—taking body shots and offering himself up for the same. Everyone loved him. They loved Tommy too, but Harry was being a bit possessive, unwilling to let anyone else dance with him. It was his party. He could do what he wanted.
Very soon, there wasn’t a sober person in the place. Tommy included. He and Harry were still dancing, now with their chests pressed close and no space to be expunged between their bodies.
Harry’s hands slipped down to his ass and though he’d been prepared for it, he was still pleasantly surprised and maybe a little weak when his hands met soft firm skin.
“Getting handsy, are you?” Tommy said.
“Am I not supposed to?” Harry asked. “Like, are there rules or something?”
Tommy laughed. “Rules? No. You can touch as much as you want.”
Well, he probably shouldn’t have said that. Harry smoothed his hands over his bum, pulled him a little closer. He’d been able to ignore his erection until then but not when he pulled Tommy closer.
He needed fresh air, perhaps. And space from all these bodies crowded around them. His head nudged Tommy’s when he asked, “Do you want to see the rest of the place?”
Tommy’s laugh was quiet. Harry pulled back to look at him. Their mouths hovered close, Tommy’s slightly parted like a challenge.
“Sorry. I’m not that kind of stripper,” he said, which wasn’t exactly the response Harry had been expecting but it got better. “Unless you want me to be...”
Admittedly, it took Harry a moment to understand what Tommy was getting at with his mind working so slowly. His cheek dimpled with a smirk and he decided to play along. “Not sure I know what you mean.”
“Do you want to show me your room?” Tommy said abruptly.
Heat sprung up beneath Harry's ribcage. He realized they’d been approaching the topic. He just hadn't figured out their next move once they'd reached it.
There was this second of hesitation on both their parts, right before Harry answered. Harry could see it happen in Tommy’s eyes, just as it was happening in his own head. He was drunk but even then, there was a part of him attempting to be reasonable. And Tommy, maybe he knew better than to sleep with some drunken soon-to-be groom at a bachelor party.
“I could,” Harry said, licking his lips.
“Do you have a king-sized bed?” Tommy asked.
“California,” Harry said.
Tommy’s brow creased. “What?”
“I don’t know what it means exactly. But when I bought it, the man said it was a California king bed. Like the Rihanna song.”
Tommy stared at him, dumfounded for two long seconds. “Show me.”
* * *
THE MORNING AFTER, 11:17 A.M.
“Wake the fuck up, Harry.”
Bright light suddenly flooded his massive bedroom, and Harry wanted to hiss like a vampire approaching combustion.
He groaned instead, tucked his face under a fluffy white pillow.
The duvet flew away from his body, tugged to the foot of the bed, and finally Harry let his eyelids tremble open. He didn’t need to adjust to the lighting to know who stood before him.
He was nowhere close to being ready for this conversation.
“Heard you had an awesome night,” Kendall leaned close to say to him while Harry massaged his temples.
“I need an espresso,” Harry said.
“Listen to me, you asshole,” Kendall snapped.
Harry’s head throbbed at each enunciated syllable. “Please stop yelling, love. I can hear you fine.”
Kendall released a big puff of breath, something that sounded more like the bray of a donkey. “There are four weeks left, four weeks, until we’re supposed to get married. And you choose last night to reveal that you actually prefer dick? I just signed a check for a custom-made 50,000-dollar gown, Harry. And you just took a big, giant gay shit on it.”
“I’m not gay,” Harry whispered, pressing his palms into the sides of his head like that might ease the pain.
“You know it’s one thing if you had a stripper. Fine. But you don’t fucking sleep with the stripper,” Kendall went on. “And a man at that. When were you going to tell me my vagina wasn’t cutting it? On our honeymoon? Or when I was shooting out your fucking children?”
“I’m not gay,” Harry mumbled. “I like women. I just…guess I like men too.”
“You guess?” Kendall’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. “My brother was here last night. Did you forget that? He says you and this dude fucked so hard and so loud that was how the party finally ended. People felt bad for listening.” She pointed at him. “Look at you. Was he even human? Or was he a vampire? Did you cheat on me with a fucking vampire, Harry?”
Harry looked down at his chest. All down his torso were red and purple marks, some clearly bite marks, others like bruises. He felt his face heat up and reached for the sheets to cover himself.
Kendall glared at him.
“Just let’s talk about this?” Harry said. He wasn’t up for it at all but he could at least apologize.
“I think…you should take some time to figure this out,” Kendall said instead, waving at the general space around him. “You have four weeks left before you need to say ‘I do.’ Take that time to just…get this out of your system? Experiment, whatever. And then in three weeks, we’ll revisit our relationship. And we’ll be happy. And we’ll get married, right?”
Harry nodded. He just wanted to go back to sleep.
“Until then,” Kendall said. “I’m going to stay with Kim and Kanye.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said. “Really, I don’t know what happened.”
Kendall shook her head, looking tired. “Figure it out.”
She turned then and marched out of the room, her heels tapping on the hardwood floors along the way. Harry buried his face in his hands and exhaled a heavy breath. This was the moment he would have poured himself a drink. But considering last night, he was better off avoiding mental impairment.
* * *
TWO WEEKS LATER
Kendall kept sending him pictures. Sometimes a bikini shot. Sometimes selfies with her dog. Mostly though they were wedding things.
Which place cards do you like better?
She’d attached a picture of four different place card designs with her message, one with gold lettering, one with a lace trim, one with this, one with that. Harry thought they were all quite nice but he didn’t respond. Not yet. Maybe once he had caffeine in his system, he’d be more inclined to play along.
The truth was that the break wasn’t going exactly as it was supposed to. Two weeks in, Harry felt better than he had all three months of his engagement. If Kendall wanted this to be a renewing experience for their relationship, something to show Harry how much he could miss her, now was probably a proper time to say it wasn’t working.
And he would say so… Eventually.
But first, caffeine.
He was two people away from ordering, tapping the toe of his boot to some swanky coffeehouse tunes. A little to his left was a boy, or a young man, leaning over the counter chatting with one of the baristas.
“Still have to finish up that paper for Krueger’s class,” the boy was saying.
“Same,” the barista said. “Let me know if you want to meet up at the library later or something.” She handed him his drink.
“Hello, how can I help you?” the cashier said to Harry. He blinked away from the boy.
“Hi,” Harry said, stepping up to the counter. “May I have an espresso macchiato with soy, please? …And a multi grain bagel with strawberry jam?”
He drummed his fingers on the marble countertop while the cashier rang him up. His gaze shifted back to the boy.
“Thanks, Shana,” he was saying.
The barista, Shana, waved. “No problem. Bye, Louis.”
And the boy turned away…and accidentally knocked his wallet off the counter.
A collection of coins fell and pinged on the floor. One quarter rolled right in front of Harry’s foot. The boy hurried to retrieve them, stopping a few of them with his foot. Harry stooped down to gather the ones closest to him in his palm.
“Thanks,” the boy said, ducking down as well.
“Not a problem,” Harry said. They stood and he dispensed the coins into his hand. Their eyes flickered up at the same time and locked. Harry’s brow slipped into a furrow. The boy’s smile faded.
He was wearing glasses and a grey beanie hiding most of his hair, save for a few brown tendrils sticking out near his neck.
Harry couldn’t remember exactly where he’d seen him before, just that he’d seen him, just that you didn’t forget a face like his.
His eyes darted away from Harry’s. “Thanks,” he said beginning to shuffle away.
Harry went to stop him.
“Sir, your card?” the cashier said, holding out Harry’s bank card. “Your order will be right up.”
“Thank you,” Harry said. He stuffed the card in his pocket and hurried after the boy who was now fishing one of those drink savers from a cup near the condiments.
“Sorry but I feel like I know you,” Harry said, stepping up beside him. “Do I know you?”
“Well, I don’t know you, so probably not.”
Harry studied the side of his face. “Might I have seen you somewhere before?”
“Sorry, can’t help you there.”
The whole time he refused to turn back and let Harry get another glance at his face, which was infuriating because Harry thought his memory would click on if he could.
“I’m Harry Styles,” he decided to say. Maybe the boy would remember his name.
“Cool” was the only response he got. And yeah, now Harry was certain he knew him. City folk were rude, yes. But not like this. Not without reason.
The boy turned swiftly to his left toward the door ready to scurry out. Harry reached out to stop him, not because he wanted him to stay—that too, yeah—but also there was a man stepping through the door right then too.
Harry was too late though. The boy collided with the man’s shoulder. The lid popped off his coffee cup and a splash of tea got him on his glasses.
“Fantastic,” he said, turning back. He deposited his cup on a nearby table and whipped his glasses off his face to wipe them with the end of his shirt.
Without the glasses, Harry had a better view of his blue eyes. And it wasn’t so much that they were the solution to Harry’s memory loss. More that they were the trigger.
Harry remembered looking right into those eyes while blinking sweat from his own. He’d fisted his hand in that brown hair, gave it a good tug too. He’d kissed those lips, which were now licking spilled tea from between his nimble fingers.
“Holy shit,” Harry muttered. “Tommy.”
The boy looked up at Harry. “Jesus,” he sighed, grabbing his tea again and heading for the door.
“No. Wait, please,” Harry said, grabbing his arm. Two girls sitting nearby glanced at them warily. “I just want to talk. You’re making me cause a scene.”
“I’m not making you do anything. You’re the one manhandling me. Which, by the way, I am not opposed to kicking your ass if necessary,” he said.
He was a little lad, in all honesty, but Harry didn't doubt that he meant what he said.
Harry removed his hand. “Please don’t leave. I swear I’m not a creep or anything,” he said. “Louis?”
Tommy, or Louis, narrowed his eyes. Otherwise his expression remained relatively stoic.
“That’s your name,” Harry said.
“And you think so because?”
Harry‘s smile turned smug. “It’s written on your cup.”
“It’s a fake name,” Louis said coolly.
“I don’t think so. Heard you talking to the barista too and she called you Louis. She’s a classmate, isn’t she? Do you give your professors and classmates fake names too?” Harry wondered.
“Do you always snoop on other people’s conversations?” Louis countered.
“Do you always answer questions with questions?”
Louis scoffed. “Asks the one who just answered a question with a question.”
Harry exhaled. “Please tell me your name.”
“It’s obviously written on my cup,” Louis said and lifted the cup to his lips for a sip to punctuate his point.
“Louis,” Harry said just to be sure.
Harry’s dimples popped in his cheeks when he smiled. “I like it. It fits. Much better than Tommy.”
Louis looked at him, his eyes still guarded but the firm set of his mouth softening a bit.
“Would you sit with me?” Harry said. “Just for a second?”
“Why?” Louis said.
“Just to talk,” Harry said. “That isn’t weird, right? I just want to talk.”
Louis breathed a heavy sigh. “I don’t have long,” he said.
“Whatever time you have is enough,” Harry said and smiled. When his cheeks dimpled, Louis looked away.
They settled into a little table outside the coffee house, shaded by an umbrella but still plenty warm.
“I wouldn’t have guessed about you being a university student. You seem older,” Harry said.
Louis adjusted his glasses. “I put off university for a while to work fulltime.”
“So, you are a bit older?” Harry asked. “I’m 24.”
“26,” Louis said.
“Do you come here often?” Harry asked, spreading jam on his bagel.
Louis’ laugh was condescending and oddly, cute. “Not only is that the worst pick-up line ever, I’m also not giving you a means to stalk me.”
“Why stalk you when I could just ask you out like a proper gentleman? How about lunch?” Harry said on impulse. It seemed like a good idea in the moment. Harry didn’t want to give Louis up just yet.
Louis lifted his cup. “There. That’s better,” he took a sip. “But it’s gonna be a no. Aren’t you engaged?”
“Didn’t stop us last time,” Harry said.
Louis’ brows shot up. “Oh. So, I have a serial cheater in my midst? I’m so interested in dating you now.”
Harry smiled. He found him endearing in a weird masochistic sort of way. Louis was difficult to talk to, unlike any other person in his life. Harry didn’t know how badly he’d needed a challenge until one presented itself.
“I’m not engaged anymore. We’re taking time to figure things out,” Harry said.
“And you’re doing that by trying for round two with me?” Louis asked.
“Who said anything about round two? I was thinking tacos actually, at that lovely place up the road,” Harry said.
Louis laughed. This one sounded genuine. “Was it my fault?” he asked. “You and your fiancée, did you break up because I fucked your brains out?”
“Well, I wouldn’t blame you. But that was one of the main reasons, yeah. That and her thinking I’m gay.”
“And…you’re not gay,” Louis stated.
“I don’t think so.”
“Certainly fooled me…” Louis said.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Harry said. “I find men attractive. You…you’re very attractive.”
“You’re getting better at this the longer we sit here.”
“Good to know,” Harry smiled. He watched Louis’ eyelashes fanned out over his cheeks when he pressed his mouth to his cup. “In general…I don’t think gender is all that important,” Harry added.
“Hmm. How fortunate for the world,” Louis said. “I mean that un-sarcastically.”
“Then thank you. How about you?” Harry asked.
"I'm as gay as they come,” Louis said right away. “Haven't been even vaguely attracted to a girl since primary school. And I don't think that counts. Except for Beyoncé. Everyone's at least a little attracted to her."
Harry laughed. "Agreed.”
Louis sat back in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Do you have a class you need to get to soon?” Harry asked.
“In six minutes.”
“Do you have a lunch period?”
Louis smirked. “Sure do.
Harry bit on his lip, a nervous habit. “How can you pass up tacos?”
“I can’t. I think I’ll pick some up on my way home this evening,” Louis said.
“And you’re technically still engaged.”
“I’m treating you. Seriously, all the tacos you can eat. And salsa. Queso. Or maybe you want a burrito? Whatever you want. On me,” Harry said. “You just have to sit with me.”
Louis studied him for a second. “Tempting. But I have to get to class,” he said standing.
“You said six minutes.”
“I need time to get there,” Louis explained like it was obvious.
“How about this?” Harry said pulling a pen from his leather workbag. He plucked a clean napkin from the dispenser, and started to scrawl on it quickly. “I work just up the street. Near the taco place actually.”
He pushed the napkin across the table to Louis. “If you change your mind, just text me. Or…if you don’t want me having your number, borrow a stranger’s phone or something. Text me and I’ll be there.”
Louis picked the napkin up. He folded it and tucked it into his pocket. “If I change my mind,” he said.
Harry squinted against the sun when he looked up at him. “Please change your mind?”
Louis smirked. “See you,” he said.
“Is that a hint?” Harry asked as Louis started walking away.
Louis laughed and waved. “Bye.”
* * *
How about dinner instead?
Harry was halfway through a writing session with Kylie Minogue when his phone buzzed. He got calls and texts from unknown numbers all the time and blocked them—consequences of being a pseudo-celebrity and all that. But this one had excitement thrumming all through his veins, through his marrow, straight to his fingertips so Kylie was forced to pause the music and ask, “you alright?” when Harry wouldn’t stop drumming his pen or staring at his phone.
“Sorry,” he said blinking away the haze. “Sorry, think my mum texted.”
“Well, text her back!” Kylie said straight away. “Don’t worry about me.”
“Are you sure?” he asked. “Might just step out and give her a ring.”
Kylie shooed him away. She pressed play on her Macbook again to kick up the music, and continued working on her own.
Harry stood up and stepped out of the recording room.
At the taco place? he sent back.
Louis responded right away.
As you promised. he’d written.
What time should I meet you?
I’ll be there at seven.
Then I’ll see you at seven. x
Harry pocketed his phone and did his best to wipe the smirk before he headed back into his studio.
* * *
They ended up eating their tacos in Harry’s car with the radio cranked up just enough to conceal the sounds of raucous paper wrappers and hungry mouths.
“I’ll tell you what,” Louis said, his mouth full. So far he’d been dodging every question Harry had sent his way. It was exhausting and yet somehow Harry didn’t feel close to giving up. “I’ll answer three questions. Completely honest. Anything you want.”
“Okay,” Harry said excitedly. He took a sip of his sparkling water and replaced it in the cup holder. “How’d you get into…exotic dancing?”
“Exotic dancing,” Louis repeated, voice laden with judgment. “An ex of mine owned a strip club, strictly for women performers. I was sort of living with him for a bit before I moved in with…Zaddy Z.”
“Not going to tell me his real name, huh?” Harry said.
“Still haven’t determined if you’re a creep or not so, no,” Louis said.
Harry pouted. “Am I actually creepy?”
“No,” Louis said. “Not even close. If you are actually a stalker, you’re doing a piss poor job of it. Still don’t know what you’re deal is though.”
“I could be a stalker if I was trying. I know things about you already. You’re 26. You go to school near here. And you love tacos, clearly,” Harry ticked each detail off with his fingers, glancing at the collection of taco wrappers in his lap.
“Like I said, piss poor,” Louis said.
“Maybe the best stalkers are the ones you don’t suspect,” Harry countered.
“You’re not doing yourself any favors here…” Louis said. “Might I finish my story?”
“Please?” Harry smiled.
“So, anyway, one night I got drunk at the strip club and started talking to one of the ladies there and she told me how much she made in a night, working there and doing private parties and stuff. More than I made in a week. So I started bartending first. But secretly, I was learning all the moves and tricks. Then I ‘auditioned’” he made air quotes, “at this gay strip club nearby. And I haven’t left since.”
“Wow,” Harry said.
“Next question?” Louis said.
“What’s your surname?”
Louis’ mouth dropped open. He took a moment to glare at Harry. “Well played…”
“Thanks,” Harry said, leaning against the car door. “Well?”
“Tomlinson. But I swear to God, if you try to stalk me on Facebook, I’ll break into your house and shave all that pretty hair of yours.”
“You think my hair is pretty?”
“Is that your third question?”
Harry grinned. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I don’t have a Facebook. Wouldn’t have expected Tomlinson, though. Far cry from Sweetthighs and all that..”
Louis sipped his Coke to hide a smile. “Last question. Use it wisely.”
Harry tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “Do you like me?” he said. Louis’ mouth froze around his straw. “Like in the ‘I would date him’ sense?” Harry clarified.
“That’s what you waste your final question on?”
Harry shrugged. “My question and I’m sticking to it.”
“How disappointing…” Louis mumbled.
“Answer the question,” Harry said.
“That’s your honest answer?” Harry asked. “I’m just alright?”
Louis rolled his eyes. “It doesn’t matter. You’re engaged, remember?”
“Probably not for long,” Harry said.
Louis raised his brows. “Because of your party?”
“That’s what she’ll tell her family and friends. But we’ve never been all that happy together. Her mum kind of forced the whole engagement thing, kept pushing us after we’d only been dating for a year,” Harry said. “We just shouldn’t be getting married. Not to each other.”
“Why not just tell her so? Instead of dragging it out?” Louis asked.
“Well, that’s’ another thing. My fiancée, Kendall—she wants to get married. She’s into all the glamour of being a bride and spending a lot of money for a lot of attention. Like, she’s in it for the wedding, not for me. And I feel sorry disappointing her, especially with just two weeks left now.”
Louis smiled sympathetically. “Sorry. Sounds like a shit situation.”
“I’m not sorry, though. You live and you learn,” Harry said. “So. Do you trust me enough to drive you home yet? Cus it’s starting to rain and I’d rather not see you walk to catch the bus.”
Louis didn’t contemplate this for long. “I’m a ten minute drive from here,” he said.
“Buckle up,” Harry said, starting the car.
* * *
Harry didn’t know what he’d been expecting when he dropped Louis off. In general, he didn’t know what to expect with Louis at all.
But when Louis reached for the door handle and said, “Are you coming?” all Harry could do was sit and stare.
“What?” Louis said. “You didn’t think I’d let you drive me here just to leave, did you?”
Harry scratched a spot on his neck. “I mean…yeah, sort of.”
Louis snorted. “Come on,” he said. “Unless…you want to leave?”
“No. Are you sure?” Harry asked.
“Yes, Harry. I have ice cream and I don’t bite,” Louis said.
“Damn, I was so looking forward to the biting,” Harry mumbled as he hopped out.
Louis laughed and jogged to the door to escape the drizzle. He led Harry up three flights of stairs and tugged a key from his pocket.
Harry still couldn’t believe he’d been granted access into Louis’ actual flat. He’d been thinking on the way up that they’d step into some bare abandoned room with a lone mattress for the sole purposes of having sex. And that wasn’t at all a blow to Louis’ integrity or character. They both knew what they wanted, and there wasn’t much point in pretending otherwise. Harry saw the way Louis looked at him, and without needing a mirror, Harry could promise his expression was the same.
But this was no sex dungeon he stepped into. Louis’ flat was normal, simple, and could very well belong to anyone. All the character and personality had been saved for his room.
The very first thing Harry noticed was a rainbow tutu, because he stepped on it when he crossed the threshold and picked it up.
"Oh my god," Harry said holding it up. Louis looked up from kicking off his shoes. “Is this yours?”
“Yeah,” Louis said, smiling.
"Please…” Harry held it out. “Could you just?"
"It’ll cost you,” Louis said.
"I’ll give you my entire wallet,” Harry said.
Louis rolled his eyes. "I’m going to get two spoons and ice cream."
Harry watched him go and then he studied the rest of the room. A pair of red fuzzy handcuffs were still dangling from Louis’ headboard. A sizable blue dildo stood erect on his bedside table, next to an uncapped bottle of lube. A contacts case. Eye drops. Candy wrappers.
He had clothes everywhere, spilling from his cupboard and the drawers of his dresser. The cupboard demanded the most attention though with its array of costumes and such. Harry might have popped a semi picturing Louis in any one of his outfits. The rainbow tutu. The angel wings. The fireman suit complete with suspenders.
Harry spotted leather and had to look away for the sake of his own sanity.
Louis stepped back into the room and set the tub of strawberry ice cream down next to his dildo. Harry started to laugh, a nervous, surprised sound, when Louis stripped out of his trousers. He watched him kick them somewhere near the foot of his bed. Then he grabbed an oversized gray jumper from his cupboard and pulled it on over his t-shirt.
He was dwarfed in the soft gray knitting with sleeves that came down over his hands, and the hem just grazing his thighs. He looked alarmingly like someone in need of a cuddle.
"What?" he said when he saw Harry staring. "It gets cold at night."
“But you took your trousers off,” Harry pointed out.
“Because I hate wearing trousers,” Louis said.
Harry didn't respond. He just let his eyes sweep over Louis’ legs.
“Nothing about this is fair,” he finally announced.
Louis actually laughed, because he was evil and dead set on driving Harry mad. He picked up a spoon and held it out to him. "Check out my cool balcony,” he said, turning his red Calvin Klein covered ass to Harry. He pulled the balcony doors open. “Honestly, the one redeeming grace about this shithole.”
Louis plopped down on the small cement balcony, his feet just grazing the wrought iron barrier when he stretched his legs out. Harry sat down beside him. Louis uncapped the ice cream and set it between them.
“The view kind of sucks, as you can see,” he said. They were facing another complex, separated by a mostly quiet road. But Harry liked it right away. There were other people on their balconies as well, and the sound of kids still playing on the pavement late at night. There was a cool, summer breeze floating over their skin and petrichor floating up from the damp earth and together it all seemed miraculous and matchless.
He was used to fancy things. To big houses belonging to big people. But this, it was simple yet so unexplainably perfect. He thought it might have had something to do with the boy beside him as well.
“I have the weirdest neighbors. Like, over there,” Louis pointed with his spoon, “That’s Mary. She’s a huge classical fanatic. Gets drunk sometimes and blasts Mozart and Chopin and has a fucking blast. It’s beautiful. Someone called the police once.”
Harry laughed, his mouth full of strawberry ice cream.
“Don’t look, but straight ahead—I said ‘don’t look’—that’s Johannes. He fucks his wife every Thursday at 8:00 on the dot and finishes in time for the news at 8:05.”
“No way,” Harry said.
“Would I lie about something like that?”
Harry shrugged. “I honestly don’t know.”
“I wouldn’t. And now you know,” Louis said, licking his spoon clean. Harry wasn’t staring at his mouth, he wasn’t. “Oh. And in the window over there, on the right of Johannes and two floors up? You can look if you want but it’s at your own risk.”
Harry glanced up. “There’s just a little boy sitting there.”
“Yeah, that would be John.”
“Okay?” Harry laughed confusedly. “What’s his story?”
“Well, I think it’s John,” Louis said quietly. “Because the couple that lives there had a little boy named John.”
Harry’s brow creased. “Had?”
“He died a year ago.”
Harry stared at Louis for a long time after that. And then he smiled.
“You’re taking the piss,” he decided with a laugh. “Such a bloody liar.”
Louis looked at him seriously. “Why don’t you go across the street and ask Lindsey and Martin about the little boy in the window? Then call me a liar.”
Harry’s smile faded. He glanced at the window again, goose bumps prickling on his skin. “Not funny, Lou.”
“I’m not being funny.”
“There’s a boy in the window.”
“I bet. I just couldn’t tell you why,” Louis said morbidly.
“Do you fucking promise?” Harry said, meeting his eyes.
Louis stared at him for a second longer. And then a smirk cracked through his maudlin expression. “You made that way too easy,” Louis said, dissolving into laughter.
“Oh my fucking,” Harry dropped his face into his hands. “I think I started to wet myself.”
Louis just kept giggling. It was cute. Harry despised him. “You look like you’re about to cry.”
Harry dragged a thumb under his eye dramatically.
“No way. Are you actually crying?” Louis said, reaching for Harry’s hand and pulling it away from his eyes to see.
“You’re the worst,” Harry said. He wasn’t crying but his eyes were a tad misty.
Louis put his free hand to his mouth to suppress more laughter. “God, you’re fucking adorable.”
Harry pouted. Louis smiled.
“Aw, babe,” Louis cooed. The sound went straight to Harry’s heart. “Come on. Forgive me?”
Harry looked at him. He dropped his gaze to Louis’ lips. “Maybe…if you kiss me?”
Louis leaned in right away like he’d just been waiting for a reason, and he kissed him. There was no tongue, just a firm press of lips. Still, Harry moaned.
“We might have an audience,” Louis pulled away to say quietly.
Harry glanced to his right. “You’re right,” he turned his head a bit more. “Actually, you’ll never guess, but I think Johannes is watching us.”
Louis peeked too. “No shit…”
Harry smiled. “Payback’s a bitch, huh?” he said.
“I never watched them have sex,” Louis clarified. “Maybe once I caught the first two minutes.”
“And then what happened?” Harry asked.
“I don’t know. I either went blind, or fainted, or fell asleep,” he surmised.
Harry laughed, snorted, until his stomach cramped and his cheeks burned and tears collected in his eyes. Louis joined in too, his body shaking with each giggle.
Harry couldn’t even trace back to the last time he’d laughed so hard.
He glanced down at Louis’ hand still folded around his. Louis’ laughter began to trickle off, turned into short, breathy bursts, and Harry’s eyes fell on his lips again. And Louis’ eyes fell on his.
And then Harry was cupping the back of his neck and yanking him close.
The ice cream spoon slipped out of Louis’ hand and clattered on the cement. Louis tensed for a quarter of a second, maybe because he hadn’t expected Harry’s assertiveness. Harry didn’t have any time to feel sorry about it because Louis was turning into the kiss, pushing back, pulling him in.
“Get your fucking shirt off,” he murmured, biting Harry’s lip when he kissed him.
Harry pulled his shirt off so quickly it might have crossed into another dimension. Louis tugged at his belt buckle. Harry dipped his head to mouth along Louis’ collarbones.
“You’re so hot. Jesus,” Harry mumbled, reaching for the hem of Louis’ sweatshirt. “How are you so hot?” He pulled it off, dropped it somewhere.
Louis chuckled. “Could ask the same about you.” He hooked his fingers through Harry’s belt loops and pulled him to his feet.
“Could you put the tutu on? Just for a second,” Harry said, as he was tugged toward the bed, pushed onto the mattress, and abandoned. “Pretty please?”
“You’re so lucky I like you,” Louis said. “Shut your eyes.”
Obviously, Harry was the luckiest bastard in the world. He did as told, his breath coming shallow with anticipation.
A few seconds later, he felt soft fingers sift through his hair, gently guiding it away from his face.
“You can open now,” Louis said, and Harry did.
Long story short: Louis was made to be adorned in glitter and rainbows.
The rainbow tutu sat just below his trim waist, and fanned out over his hips. It left tons of tanned skin exposed. Harry’s mind was blown. He sucked in a little breath, found it hard to exhale.
“Unbelievable. God, come here,” he said, reaching out for him.
Louis sunk his knee into the mattress, straddling Harry’s lap slowly.
“You should sit on my face,” Harry decreed.
Louis paused, his brows shooting up. He certainly didn’t look uninterested. Just surprised.
“You know,” Harry said. “So I can taste the rainbow.”
Louis looked horrified. “Oh my god.”
If Harry needed any further proof that Louis was somewhat gone for him, it was that he still kissed him after that.
“You’re awful,” Louis said pulling away.
Harry smiled. “I thought that was quite clever. Also I think it’s a good suggestion, don’t you?”
“Have you ever done that before?” Louis asked, pressing a kiss to his neck.
Harry groaned when Louis applied suction, probably leaving a few marks in his wake. “No, but I want to.”
“Maybe after we’re done,” Louis said.
Harry slid his hands up under Louis’ tutu. He wasn’t wearing his red pants as expected. His bum was smooth, and firm, and filled Harry’s palms.
“Would you like to be useful?” Louis asked, right before sinking his mouth down around two of Harry’s fingers.
Harry nodded wordlessly, his lips agape.
Louis flicked the lube, which seemed to materialize out of nowhere, open and poured it over Harry’s fingers. “Will you be gentle?”
“Is that how you want it?” Harry asked.
Louis smirked. Harry circled his wet finger around Louis’ hole.
“No,” he said.
Harry slipped his finger inside, all the way, keeping his eyes on Louis’ face as he did. He noted the flutter of Louis’ eyelashes and the way his pretty damp mouth dropped open.
“That’s it,” Louis murmured.
Harry hadn’t done this before either because last time Louis had taken care of himself. The stretch around his finger was perfect, tight and so inviting. He couldn’t wait to feel that around his cock, when he was sober and could commit it to memory.
“Now two,” Louis said, after barely having enough time to adjust to one. He must not have needed it. Harry wasn’t going to question him. He withdrew his finger, just enough to add another.
Louis moaned, bracing his hand on Harry’s shoulder, and then he moved his hips forward. “Remember, you said you wouldn’t be gentle.”
Right, he had. Harry removed his fingers again, only to push them back in, deeper now. And again, twisting them this time, hooking them the next, until Louis keened and clenched around Harry’s fingers. “Fuck yes, right there,” he said, voice hoarse.
Harry did it again, whatever it was he did. He was so fucking delirious, caught in the dazed look in Louis’ eyes and the little puffs of breath on his cheek.
“Stop,” Louis said roughly. Harry did. Louis shoved his hands into Harry's chest, forcing him to collapse flat onto the bed. Harry looked up at him, eagerly, his whole body thrumming.
Louis ran his finger over Harry’s length. “You know you have the prettiest cock I’ve ever seen.”
Harry didn’t think it was possible for him to blush about that, given the situation, but he might have anyway.
Louis licked a path from Harry’s balls to the tip of his cock. “You won’t come, will you?”
“Not till I fuck you,” Harry said, promised.
“Hm, you’re sure about that?” Louis said, raising an eyebrow. Harry didn’t answer. He didn’t get a chance to when Louis sunk his mouth down around him. He hollowed his cheeks, his eyes closing when he swallowed as much of Harry as he could.
Harry's mouth dropped open and he stared up at Louis’ ceiling, where either Louis himself or the previous tenant had stuck those little glow-in-the-dark stars, and Harry thought about how perfectly that symbolized this moment, when he thought he was drifting up into space each time Louis flicked his tongue over the tip of his cock.
Harry’s toes curled and he twisted his fingers in Louis’ black sheets. “Lou.”
Louis hummed, the sound vibrating all down the length of him. He looked up at Harry then, his beautiful blue eyes curious and coy.
Louis pulled his mouth away, his lips wet with saliva, his eyes blown. “Thought you said you wouldn’t.”
Harry bit his lips, watching Louis crawl back into his lap, his pretty rainbow tutu flaring out behind him. He reached just past Harry's head for a condom he'd placed on the mattress and straddled Harry’s hips, reaching back to find his cock beneath his tutu, rolling the condom on all in one fluid movement.
“You think you can last long enough for me to ride you?” Louis questioned, lining himself up.
“Yeah,” Harry said. He meant it this time.
“Let’s find out,” Louis replied and eased himself down, exhaling through his nose. He stopped for a moment. “Jesus.”
“You okay?” Harry asked.
Louis nodded, licking his lips. “Seemed so much easier last time.”
“You were also drunk,” Harry said.
Louis rolled his eyes. “What a revelation,” he snarked. He finally lowered himself all the way down and his eyes closed, and he took a few deep breaths. “You feel so good, babe.”
Harry gripped Louis’ hips, right at the hem of his tutu, felt it when he rolled forward. “You too,” Harry said, his voice breaking as he spoke. “So good.”
The praise, it seemed, spurned Louis on to work harder and faster with each thrust of his hips. He was so tight around Harry, so relentless with each rhythmic move of his perfect body. The rainbow tutu fanned out over the place where their bodies were connected so that anyone lucky enough to see them this way couldn’t see how deep Harry was buried in Louis' ass.
“So good,” Louis echoed him, his head tilted back, his chocolate brown hair damp where it clung to his neck and forehead.
Harry rocked his hips up to meet him. Louis cried out, his eyes screwing shut when he finally came, Harry following not far behind him.
Louis kissed him, gasped into his mouth and bit hard on his bottom lip. It was all too much. Louis was too much. And still, Harry knew he would want more.
For now, he came, breathless and overwhelmed. This time when his vision went momentarily black, he saw glitter and rainbows and leprechaun’s gold.
* * *
Harry woke up in Louis’ tiny bed and never wanted to leave. He inhaled sheets that smelled of him, and then realized those sheets were cold.
Had it been his own place, he wouldn’t have expected Louis to be there in the morning. But considering how he’d been permitted to spend the night, he was confused that Louis wasn’t there, keeping his sleepy eyes on him. Harry had been looking forward to that part quite a lot.
He found his clothes, which Louis had conveniently stacked at the foot of the bed, and pulled them all on.
When he stepped into the kitchen, he stopped at the sight of another boy sitting at the kitchen counter, slicing into a toaster waffle. He smiled when he saw Harry, maple syrup dripping from his fork when he lifted it to his mouth.
Harry stared at him speechlessly. Even without the fancy makeup, the boy was still gut-wrenchingly beautiful. “You’re…uh…”
“Zaddy Z,” he finished for Harry. “But you can call me Zayn.”
“Zayn. Nice to meet you. I’m Harry,” he said coming close to shake his hand.
Zayn fist bumped him instead while sticking more waffle into his mouth. “I know who you are,” Zayn said, voice muffled. Right, obviously. “But nice to formally meet you.”
“This all went a lot easier than with Louis,” Harry said, thinking back to a coffee cup with “Louis” written across the top. In retrospect, Harry owed it all to that kind barista with the neat handwriting.
Zayn smiled. “No surprise there. You sleeping here, that’s a surprise for sure.”
“Does he not usually…?”
“You should ask him yourself,” Zayn said.
“Where’s he gone anyway?” Harry asked.
“Went for a run. Should be back any second though. There’s tea, or coffee if you’re that kind of person.”
“Usually. But I think I’m feeling tea this morning,” Harry replied, going for the kettle just when the sound of the door opening and shutting occurred somewhere out of view.
Zayn looked at Harry, and then picked his plate up off the counter. “Well, good luck to you, mate,” he said, slipping back to his bedroom.
Harry watched him go, his brows creased.
Louis plucked one earphone from his ear when he stepped into the kitchen and reached for the fridge door. He said nothing to Harry when he pulled out a bottle of water and took a long gulp.
He wiped his mouth. “I have a class in about twenty minutes. You probably should leave around then too.”
"Good morning to you too," Harry said with an airy laugh. Louis was a sight for tired eyes. He could picture himself waking up to him every morning, stepping into any room of his giant house and finding him there, taking up his space, sharing his air. It scared him how much he wanted that. After only knowing him for a few days.
"Morning," Louis replied, not really making eye contact. That scared Harry too. "So twenty minutes?"
"Kicking me out so soon?”
“I have a class, so…” Louis shrugged his shoulder.
“Yeah, I’ll get myself together and be out by then,” Harry said, amiably even if he felt a little ill with worry. He was certain that if he left and put distance between them, this would probably never happen again. He asked anyway, “When would I be able to see you again?”
"Harry. You know you’re still engaged," Louis deadpanned.
“No, not technically. That’s the whole point of a break.”
“Sure,” Louis said.
“Would you want to see me again?” Harry asked. “Tonight, even? I could make you dinner this time?”
Louis bit at his bottom lip while he thought. “I don’t know.”
“Think about it?” Harry said.
Louis drummed his fingers on the countertop. “You’ll have to text me your address again because I forgot it.”
Harry pulled his phone out straight away and texted him. “Done.”
Louis’ phone chimed in his running shorts but he made no attempt to retrieve it.
"Do you want toast or something? I can fry an egg for you quick. Or there's cereal," Louis said, scratching at the back of his head.
"I'm good, thanks," Harry said. And then he sort of fucked up. “Um, am I supposed to pay you?”
Louis’ expression didn’t change but something definitely did. “For what?” he asked.
Harry hesitated for a moment, scratching his chin. “Last night?” he said.
Now Louis’ eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “You realize I’m not like a prostitute, right?”
“I wouldn’t care if you were, to be honest,” Harry mumbled.
“I didn’t have sex with you to get paid,” Louis said. “So no.”
Harry started to fix himself a calming cup of tea, something else to do instead of having Louis stare him down. “It’s just that the last time…”
“That was to pay for a cab,” Louis said before Harry could finish. He’d pulled out a little cup of yoghurt, turning it in his hand like he couldn’t decided if he wanted to eat it or not. It seemed this conversation made the decision for him. He replaced the cup in the fridge and turned away. "I'll go change."
* * *
Harry was surprised that after their morning Louis still turned up in front of his door in the afternoon. Pleasantly surprised, of course. Especially at the sight of Louis dressed in coral shorts and a fitted t-shirt. He still had had his rucksack with him too, which he dropped at the door when he stepped inside.
“This is nice,” Louis said, glancing around.
“You say it like this is your first time being here.” Harry watched him survey the room, touching the marble bust Kendall’s mum, Kris, had gotten for the place.
“It was dark then. And in the morning, I was only focused on getting out quickly,” Louis explained.
“Well, I’m glad you're back. Hopefully, you can stay much longer,” Harry said.
Louis glanced at him. “Maybe,” he plopped down on the couch, bounced for a bit to test it out. He smoothed his hands over the soft leather. Then he leaned back, looking quite at home. Harry liked that a lot.
“So what’s for dinner?”
“Lamb,” Harry said. “Also, mash and grilled eggplant.”
Louis looked like he was about to laugh. “Don’t take this the wrong way. But I was thinking you’d pick up a pizza or something.”
“Oh, do you want pizza? Because I can run out for one,” Harry said quickly.
Louis shook his head. “No, lamb sounds amazing. Could take a drink, though.”
“I’ll get you a beer, or wine. I have wine as well,” Harry said.
“Wine actually would be nice,” Louis said.
“Good, great. I have Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Bordeaux…”
“Harry,” Louis said. Harry stopped talking. “Pour me a glass of your favorite.”
“Yes. I can do that,” Harry said. He grabbed the remote off the coffee table and pressed a button. The TV descended from the ceiling. “Just make yourself comfortable.”
Louis looked amused. Harry was clearly flustered. He turned and scurried away to find his sweetest wine. He was a sucker for the ones that tasted like baked goods.
He was still pouring wine into polished flutes when Louis stepped into the kitchen too. “Smells good,” he commented.
Harry smiled. He handed him a glass. “Thanks. I used a wine sauce, brings out the flavors a bit more.”
Louis nodded, taking a sip from his glass.
“I’m sorry about what I said this morning,” Harry blurted. “About paying you. I shouldn’t have asked you that. It was stupid.”
“Jesus, Harry…you’re still thinking about that?”
“I could tell it bothered you. I’ve only known you for the culmination of two days and I know it bothered you. Is that weird?”
Louis took a long sip of his wine, his neck exposed, moving when he swallowed. “It doesn’t matter,” he said finally.
“It does though. Because you matter,” Harry said. “So, just…I’m sorry. I only meant to be courteous, not to suggest anything about you.”
Louis seemed to think it all over for a second. “It’s really okay. There’s…a fine line sometimes between strippers and sex workers. Most people think the line is nonexistent. I don’t blame you for that.”
Louis leaned back against the counter, folding his arms over his chest. “But just so you know, I don’t normally do this.”
“Don’t do what?”
“This,” Louis gestured between them.
“Like, have someone cook for you?” Harry asked. He was genuinely confused.
Louis huffed. “I don’t sleep with clients. Like, ever.”
“Oh,” Harry said, blinking at him. He couldn’t be sure with the fancy recessed lights suspended over Louis but he thought maybe there was a blush creeping over his cheekbones. “Like you mean you don’t do it often? Or like…you never have before?”
“Never before,” Louis said. And this time Harry was quite sure there was a pinkish tint to his face.
Harry licked his lips. “Okay,” he said, placing the corkscrew down on the countertop.
“Yeah, so,” Louis said, unnecessarily, picking at something on his shirt. “Now you know.”
Harry stepped into his space, pressing one hand on the counter on either side of Louis’ waist. Louis looked up at him, brows raised.
“So, I’m like an exception?” Harry asked, voice hushed.
Louis put his glass down behind him. “You could say that.”
“Which means…maybe you’re as gone for me as I am for you?” Harry wondered.
“Maybe,” Louis said. “Are you going to do something with all this testosterone you’re exuding, or just keep me trapped here between your arms?”
Harry laughed. “I like you like this.”
“Well, that's boring…” Louis said, reaching for the wine bottle Harry had placed on the counter.
Louis kept his eyes on Harry. He tipped the bottle back against his lips and swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing. He then pulled the bottle away, a thin string of saliva lingering on his lips before he licked them, wine beading the corner of his mouth.
Harry felt parched, He reached out, fingers wrapping around the bottle, tugging it away from Louis. But it wasn't the wine he wanted. He pushed their mouths together instead.
Louis opened his mouth, a moan escaping him when Harry slid their tongues together. Harry pushed the wine bottle away on the surface of the countertop, his hands reaching down to grab Louis’ thighs and hoist him up.
Louis’ fingers dragged down Harry’s chest and the ridges of his abs until he reached Harry’s belt. “Want you to fuck me right now,” Louis said, unbuckling the belt and pulling it from its loops. He tossed it somewhere and Harry heard it slide across the tile floors. “Fuck me so hard I can’t walk.”
Harry groaned, grinding his hips forward.
Louis leaned in, sucking Harry’s earlobe into his mouth. “Fuck me till I’m begging to come,” he said right into his ear, while he pushed Harry’s trousers out of the way and got a hand around his cock. “Fill me up with this big cock. You’re so fucking— I can’t wait, babe. I can’t wait for you to fucking ruin me.”
“Jesus. So fucking dirty,” Harry said.
“For you, yeah,” Louis said, sliding his arms over Harry’s shoulders.
Harry secured his hands under Louis’ bum and started off toward his bedroom.
“Don’t drop me,” Louis said, clinging to him like a koala.
“Not even on the bed?” Harry asked when he came to the edge of his mattress.
“Well, obviously—” Louis started with his sass.
Harry tossed him onto the mattress. Louis bounced around for a second, laughing and then scooting back to allow room for Harry.
“Wait. What about the lamb?” Louis asked.
“It’s on a timer. The oven will shut itself off once it’s finished,” Harry explained.
Louis shook his head. “Your place is a transformer, I’m convinced.”
“Wait till you see the shower. It has, like, twenty different settings,” Harry said. “And this bed has a heater too.”
“Mm, baby, tell me more,” Louis purred into his ear.
Harry snorted a laugh, tugging Louis’ shorts down his legs, before he crawled back between them. Louis leaned forward, touching Harry’s face so gentle it slowed everything down for a moment. Louis looked at him, smiled, and then he pressed their mouths together.
They kissed slowly too, languidly like they had all the time in the world to get their tongues well acquainted with each other.
Louis pulled Harry’s shirt up over his back, his cool hands meeting Harry’s warm skin. Harry let Louis run his fingers over his body like he was recording every dip and curve. And then they settled into the mattress, and settled into each other.
"Would it be weird if I wrote a song about you?" Harry asked.
Louis was quiet for a beat. "You want to write a song about me?"
Harry nodded, his face buried in Louis' neck. "I've already started. In my head. But I want to write it down, maybe put it to some music."
"And sell it?" Louis asked.
Harry pulled away from his hiding spot and shook his head. "No," he said. "This one would be just for you."
He hadn't intended for it to be a strategy, didn't think it would get Louis to drop his guard or unravel the way he did. But when they had sex, Louis let Harry hold him down.
He’d started off riding him slow, similar to many nights ago when they were both too drunk to remember much and the night before when Louis' beautiful hips were adorned by a rainbow tutu.
Harry sort of missed the tutu, if he was being honest. But he considered it a necessary sacrifice for the moment when Louis flipped over onto his back, and his legs fell open for Harry, and he’d said, “Make me feel it in the morning.”
Harry secured his hands around Louis’ wrists and did as requested. Because he wanted to. Because he needed to. Because, as terrifying as it was, he didn’t think there was a thing Louis could ask of him that he wouldn’t deliver.
* * *
Louis was there in the morning.
Harry sort of hadn’t expected him to be.
He was careful not to wake him, for fear that Louis would react the same as last time, and he wanted a chance to make him breakfast before he ran off.
He was still trying to win Louis over. It wasn’t clear that he had just yet. Even though he’d woken up with Louis’ arm snug around his body and his face tucked into his curls. Louis could still wake and bolt without notice.
It wasn’t a revelation or a surprise, considering Harry saw stars and galaxies exploding the minute he’d first laid eyes on him, but Harry wanted Louis to stay with him. As in, forever.
For right now though, he’d settle for breakfast.
He rolled out of bed and pulled on a pair of briefs, his own plain black ones as opposed to the magenta ones he knew were Louis’. Though he was tempted to go with the latter.
He got the kettle going and pulled a carton of eggs from the fridge and paused when he thought he heard the jangle of keys near the door.
He waited, heard nothing for five seconds, and went back to pulling a brown egg free. And then he paused again.
Definitely, the sound of the keys. Definitely, at his door.
Only his mum and Kendall had keys to the place. Perhaps one of Kendall’s sisters too, but Harry had always hoped not. He figured if it were his mum, she’d have called or texted before dropping by.
Whoever was on the other side of the door, Harry didn’t think he’d be very happy to see them.
The door swung open right then and Kendall stepped inside with four shopping bags in her hand. She kicked the door closed with her heeled foot and must have spotted Harry, though it was hard to tell with her large sunglasses still on.
“Babe!” she wailed, dropping her bags. She marched to him and wrapped her arms around Harry’s shoulders. Harry hugged her back on instinct.
“This break was such a stupid idea,” she said. “Gosh, I’ve missed you so much. Did you miss me?”
"I did," Harry said. “Um.”
Kendall drew back and looked him in the eye. "Why don't you seem happy to see me?"
"I am happy to see you. Just, we should talk,” Harry said. “There’s actually—”
Kendall didn’t seem to be listening to him anyway. She was looking just past his head, her face suddenly expressionless from shock. Harry turned, instantly dropping his hands from Kendall’s waist.
“Sorry,” Louis said, hurrying past them. “I have an exam in about fifteen minutes and you don’t have a fire escape, so… Sorry to make this awkward.”
He wasn’t making eye contact, which made sense of course. Why would he? Harry still panicked. “I could drop you off if you just—”
“Nope,” Louis said quickly. “No, you stay and talk.”
He didn’t even bother to put his Toms on at the door, just picked them up and tucked them in the crook of his elbow. He threw the strap of his rucksack over his shoulder. “Bye,” he called, pulling the door open, and was gone.
The door slammed shut and surrendered Harry to silence. Brief silence, right until the kettle started howling. Harry stepped away to shut it off and stored the extra cup for Louis back in the cupboard.
Kendall ran her tongue over her teeth. “So,” she said but added nothing. She crossed her arms.
“That’s Louis. He was the one who stripped at my party,” Harry said.
“Wow,” Kendall said.
Harry sighed. “I’m sorry. That’s not what I wanted to say. I don’t even know what I wanted to say but that wasn’t it,” Harry pushed his hair away from his forehead. He needed to call Louis as soon as possible. Which meant, he had to make this quick.
But he wasn’t that person. He owed Kendall an honest explanation and the sincerest of apologies, and he would sacrifice time he could be chasing Louis to give her one.
“I might be gay after all,” he said. “I know it doesn’t make sense and I think I still need more time to figure it all out. But I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. And I’ve only ever dated women.”
“We’ve had great sex,” Kendall pointed out.
“I don’t doubt that. But I realized that we always tend to be drunk when we have sex,” Harry said. “Or the last time we were high, weren’t we?”
Kendall’s forehead creased. She thought long and hard about that. “Every time?”
“Every time it’s good,” Harry clarified.
Kendall considered it some more. “Well, fuck…”
“Still, that’s no excuse for what I did. I wasn’t into the stripper thing in the first place. And I definitely wasn’t expecting male strippers. I didn’t mean for it to be that kind of party.”
Kendall sighed. She plopped down on one of the bar stools. “Well, you remember Joe from Texas, don’t you?” Kendall said.
“That happened a few months after we started dating. Not weeks before we’re supposed to be getting married,” Harry said.
“There was also Nick and Sam,” Kendall said.
“Okay,” Harry said. “Well…I still don’t think what I did was excusable.”
“Also, I always suspected you were a little gay,” Kendall said. “My mom thought so, too. God, what are we even doing? We’ve only been together for a little over a year.”
“But you definitely wanted to get married…”
“Well, it would have been fun, the wedding part. But probably not the divorce part. You could’ve told me all of this before I bought that gown. It was custom made, H.”
“I’m sure it’s beautiful,” Harry said. “I’ll reimburse you for it, if that’s any consolation.”
“No, let my parents pay for it. It’s too bad about this place,” Kendall said, looking around at the flat. “I really liked it here.”
“It’s a bit much,” Harry said. “You can have it if you want.”
“Hmm, I’ll consider it. I’ll have my people talk with your people,” she said, standing.
Harry raised his brows. “Your people?”
“Well…my mom.” Kendall laughed then, replacing her sunglasses over her eyes. “Oh, also, you might want to go after that guy soon. Like, if you want to keep him.”
“I do,” Harry said.
Kendall made a face. “Not how I pictured you saying that at all.”
Harry was confused for a moment. And then it hit him, and he wasn’t sure if it was too soon to laugh about this but he did anyway. Kendall giggled too and tossed her dark brown hair, and picked up her shopping bags.
“Good luck, Harry,” she said and then she was gone.
* * *
Louis wouldn’t answer his messages. By now, it was apparent he wasn't planning to. Harry would know. He'd sent him plenty.
Could we talk?
I know you’re probably busy but call me if you find a moment.
Eventually he realized that Louis probably wouldn’t grant him an opportunity to chat over afternoon tea. Louis probably wouldn’t chat with him at all. Like ever again.
And that called for desperate measures, didn’t it?
Harry drove the twenty minutes from his flat to Louis’ and parked. He hadn’t ever done something like this before, only saw it happen in movies, and now he knew why. He felt like a certified creep just sitting there watching the front door of Louis’ building.
He sent another message, knew Louis wouldn’t answer, but this one was a little different.
Sorry about this but I’m outside your place. Please come talk to me?
He didn’t know how much time passed. He had reclined his head back and shut his eyes for just a second. And then he heard knuckles rapping on the window.
Louis stepped back from the car door when Harry reached for the door handle. He stepped out eagerly. “Hi,” he said, smiling.
Louis didn’t smile. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you drive me home,” he said. “You can’t just show up here, Harry.”
Harry worked on not looking so much like a sad puppy. “I’m sorry. I just want to talk.”
“No thanks,” Louis said, starting to walk away.
“Wait. Where are you going?” Harry asked, taking a step toward him.
“We’re out of milk,” Louis said.
“Oh. Could I walk with you?”
“No, you can’t walk with me,” Louis said, shooting him an annoyed look. “Why are you even here? If you’re trying to be noble, talking in person and all that, it isn’t necessary. I’m glad you and your fiancée worked things out, believe me.”
“We didn’t. I’m not getting married,” Harry said. “That’s what I came to tell you.”
Louis glanced at him. “Even so. Wasn’t necessary for you to come here.”
“Also,” Harry said. “This might scare you a bit, but— I think I might already be in love with you? Or somewhere really close."
Louis stopped walking and fixed his narrowed, cautious eyes on Harry.
Harry didn’t say anything else. He wanted to give Louis time to take it in, to take him in, and see that he was here and for real and meant every word. He thought maybe it worked because Louis’ eyes flickered away and then back to Harry and then down at his feet, like he didn’t know what to do with his gaze or with himself really. He settled on adjusting the brim of his baseball cap.
"You don't even know me, Harry,” he said eventually.
"I do, though. I feel like I've been waiting for you my whole life."
Louis sniffed a laugh, shaking his head. "You're insane, you know that?"
"I think so yeah. That's how you make me feel anyway,” Harry said. “I mean it, Lou. You’re amazing. Honestly, just the most amazing person I’ve met in a long time, possibly forever.”
“I’m just a stripper,” Louis said.
“You’re not just anything."
Louis kicked a pebble away with the toe of his Vans. "You'll get tired of me, you know? You're rich and sort of famous. You have plenty of options. I'm a university student who strips for a living. And I'm the first man you've been with.”
“Could be the last too, if you want,” Harry said.
“Jesus. You sound like a Hallmark movie,” Louis said. “Listen. I hate getting out of bed on Saturday mornings. I've listened to, like, only one song you’ve written and I've probably only listened to it once. Sometimes I don't get home from work till 5 in the morning. I'm needy as fuck and I require equal parts food, sex, and sleep or I'll be a complete dick. I can’t cook. I clean when I’ve run out of pants or dishes or space. I'm a massive headache just waiting to happen."
Harry released the breath he’d been holding through Louis’ spiel. “Wow.”
“Exactly,” Louis said.
“Okay,” Harry said. “Do you want to be with me?”
Louis just looked at him. “What?”
“I got everything you said. But you didn’t say you didn’t want to be with me, which I think is probably most important. So, you know, do you?”
Louis didn’t reply. His face was already pinkish but Harry thought it got a little worse, the blush creeping up to his ears too.
“Because I still want to be with you,” Harry added. “Also, anyone would be an arse without food, sex, and sleep. You can sleep in on Saturdays and I’ll wake up to fix you breakfast. In case you haven’t noticed, I like cooking. I used to be a baker, did I tell you that?”
“I don’t—” Louis started.
“Never mind,” Harry said. “The cleaning thing…well, that might get annoying but we would figure it out, I’m sure. And the songs. I only write them. Most of them sound like shit once the artists get involved. I can’t remember whatever else you said but it doesn’t matter. None of that matters. I still want to be with you. I just need to know that you want me too.”
“Obviously,” Louis exhaled, sounding annoyed and relieved and sort of overwhelmed. He glared at Harry. “You’ve turned me into the whiniest twat on earth. Zayn pretty much kicked me out to get the milk because I wouldn’t stop weeping about you.”
“Sorry,” Harry laughed. Speaking of weeping, he wanted to have a little cry himself.
Louis rubbed his hand over his scruffy chin. “Listen. I like what I do and I don’t plan to stop any time soon. I’ve dated people who’ve asked me to before.”
“I won’t do that,” Harry said. “Promise. I don't care what you do for a living, Lou. I think you're fantastic at what you do. As long as you’re happy, that's all that matters.”
“And what about you cheating on your fiancée? How am I supposed to feel about that?”
Harry wished he could say more to reassure him. All he knew was that his feelings for Kendall and his feelings for Louis were vastly different. Like with Kendall, Harry hadn't ever left the shore in terms of being in love. But for Louis, Harry was all in, submerged and unwilling to break the surface ever again.
He didn't know how to articulate that all right then, so he kept it simple.
“Well, I didn't realize then that I'm quite gay. And you were quite attractive. And convincing, too.”
“Suppose that’s a good enough..." Louis said. "But if you ever try that shit with me, I’ll cut your hair, Harry. I mean it.”
Harry grimaced. “Never. I promise.”
Louis hesitated for only a moment, like he was still thinking it all through. “Good," he said quietly, beginning to smile. "Now get here.”
Harry had to stop himself from leaping into Louis’ arms or lifting him up and twirling him down the street for everyone to see. He wanted the world to see. But stepping close and kissing him was more than enough.
* * *
Benefits of having a stripper for a boyfriend?
Well, personal shows for one. Not always. Sometimes Louis was too tired. Sometimes they were in the mood for simple, lazy sex. But the personal shows happened, and Louis always put on the very best ones.
He was also ridiculously flexible. He had them involved in the most intricate 69 and 57 and 21, and Harry was pretty sure he was working on positions for all the other two-digit numbers too.
When Harry came to see him perform at the shows, he got a rush knowing every one in the space wanted “Tommy,” wanted to know him, wanted him to know them, but that would only ever be Harry’s reality, never theirs.
The biggest benefit of all was when the eyeliner came off, and the leather trousers were tucked away in the drawer, and there was just Louis, curled around Harry.
Or maybe a better way of putting it was this:
At the beginning, and the middle, and the end of every performance, Louis was Harry’s and Harry was his.