Louis drops his phone onto his face.
It happens more often than he’d like to admit. Whenever he’s lying flat on his back, it’s like his face and his screen are magnets destined to come back together. Zayn doesn’t even come rushing into his room at the resulting yell, all too used to Louis’ pain.
He doesn’t mind too much, though. If Zayn always came into his room whenever he heard a scream, it would end very awkwardly for both of them.
Once his face feels recovered, Louis sighs and wiggles up to the head of the bed, getting comfortable as he scrolls through his contacts for the second time. It’s actually quite sad—it’s a perfectly lovely Friday afternoon, but he has no plans for later because Finals Week Sucks.
Everyone is too busy studying to agree to go out. Everyone has that starving lion aura around them that signals to Louis that he shouldn’t even try. Everyone seems to value their grades over the Actual College Experience™.
He’s just made an executive decision to drop by Starbucks to prepare for his own depressing night of studying the differences between expressionism and formalism when his phone vibrates with a text back from El.
sorry Lou! can’t hang tonight :( I need to study earthquakes?? I saw San Andreas though… I think I should proably know enough already?? wishful thinking lol
Louis flips onto his stomach as he ponders a response that’s equal parts understanding and swaying.
No worries ! It’s not like you were my last resort or anything…
Three dots pop up almost immediately.
ha ha ha good try ;) you should try tinder or something?? If you’re looking to hook up tonight
Louis sits up in horror.
TINDER !! That’s what your suggestion is ? I just wanted to have a nice night out with a friend…
sorry I’m trying to help you with your LOVE RAYS!! (PS did you know love rays are an actual thing?? my notes suck so I’m not 100% sure what they are tbh BUT they’re a real geology thing!! look @ me trying to study haha (help me im going to fail)) good luck :)
Louis drops his phone by his side. Tinder. Eleanor wants him to get a Tinder. That was an actual suggestion made to him by one of his closest friends.
He scoffs and gets out of bed to make himself a sandwich to distract himself. He takes his time with it, spreading the mayo evenly across both totally mold-free pieces of bread and laying the turkey and cheese evenly. He even cuts off the crusts like his mom did for him when he was a kid, but in the end his efforts into killing time are wasted. The sandwich is gone minutes later and he’s still back to his original dilemma—no plans.
Louis glances to Zayn’s closed bedroom door, then contemplates cleaning out their sink and doing all of the leftover dishes, and that’s when Louis realizes that the situation is Dire.
He’s making a Tinder. Fuck it.
He locks his bedroom door behind him (just in case Zayn decides to creep away from his textbook) and then flops down onto his bed.
So… He’s doing this.
He downloads the app and goes through all of the administrative shit, remorse clear on his face. He’s sure he made fun of Stan for a week straight when he admitted to Louis that he made a Tinder, but he rationalizes his actions because he’s doing this entirely as a joke.
As a way to waste time. To humor Eleanor. None of this is even real. He needs to chill.
He clicks interested in both men and women just for the fun of having more matches and makes the geographic limit five miles.
“There are more than two genders,” Louis criticizes the app as he sifts through potential Facebook pictures for his profile. He settles on making his main picture him wearing a Skate Tough tank top, mostly because it shows off his chest piece and his hair looks phenomenal in it. He adds another of him in a Black Sabbath shirt and then spends a full thirty seconds debating back and forth over a picture of him in a green sweatshirt, but that causes him to realize he’s taking things way too seriously.
He adds the sweatshirt picture because he thinks he looks like David Bowie but caps his photo limit to three. He doesn’t want to seem too conceited or vain.
He isn’t sure what to add for a bio, so he leaves a smiley face to show that he’s approachable but also mysterious. And then he goes in.
His first potential match is Daniel, who proudly states that he is 6’2’’, just looking for someone to smoke and talk about life with, living with no regrets, and proceeds to give away his username for every form of social media ever made.
He doesn’t seem too terrible, but Louis swipes left anyway. Bye.
His next potential match is Danae, someone he actually recognizes from auditions in the beginning of the semester. Her bio is much less cheesy, I work at Starbucks and I’m a Scorpio!!, so he swipes right just to see what’ll happen.
Nothing exciting happens, except that he gets a new picture to judge.
And Louis is ashamed and embarrassed to admit he finds this all a bit exciting… a bit enjoyable. In an I’m so bored and this is just a way to pass time way, though. He makes fun of everyone he comes across, gets a confidence boost whenever there’s an instant match, and finds some bios to be genuinely entertaining
Highlights are the person who puts the entire Wild Thornberry’s theme song as their description, the one who forgoes a description at all and simply says insert smooth pick up line here, and the one who has 70 mutual friends with Louis (though that honestly kind of scares him because he’s never seen the guy in his life). He’s just about to swipe left on a person with a cheesy you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take quote in their description when he notices a circle at the top of the app, signaling that there’s something for him to see.
He pauses the fun and checks his notifications. Most of them are just signaling that he’s made a match, but then he sees that Danae sent him a message.
Didn’t expect to see you on here? I didn’t realize you were into women either ;)
Louis’ eyes widen and he immediately switches his interested in to only men. He contemplates sending her a message back (after all, they were friendly)… but instead he goes right back into getting matches. He’s not exactly trying to broadcast the fact that he made a Tinder, fake or not. Hopefully she’ll just forget she even saw his profile.
He grimaces and carries on.
He denies a failing model, swipes right at the blonde guy with an ace/aro, here for friends in his bio (reminding himself to let Zayn know later if they match), pretends he doesn’t see someone who he knows for a fact has a very committed girlfriend, and rolls his eyes at the person who says if you don’t know who Dostoyevsky is, you might as well swipe left.
Louis begins to insult him as he takes in his next potential match, but he’s cut short by his phone crashing into his skull for the second time that night.
Louis scrambles to sit up and save his phone, praying his nose hasn’t somehow swiped the wrong way or exited the app. He lets out a breath of relief when he sees his screen is exactly as he remembers it.
Less Than 1 Mile Away, Active 1 minute ago.
I think when it comes down to it, I’m just looking for someone supportive. That’s all I really need in life. I know this is an app, but we can find people in all the most obscure places :) -H.S
Louis almost wants to laugh and mock his bio, but the boy’s pretty green eyes mesmerize him. He can’t look away, scanning from his curly brown hair hiding beneath a hipster hat to his sharp jaw and his long, pigeon toed legs he somehow finds charming. He’s so pretty.
He frowns when it crashes down on him that this boy must be a Catfish. Surely he stole some pop star’s candids and tried to play them off as his own. Nobody looks like that in real life.
But the second picture is very much the same boy, only this time he’s with friends in the backseat of a car. Louis blinks in confusion… surely pop stars have friends that they hang out with in the backs of cars, though.
This boy could still potentially be a catfish.
Harry’s last picture is him shirtless. And he looks so good, Louis is now positive he’s a catfish. But then he sees that he and Harry have three mutual friends—Liam, Sophia, and Cara.
Which actually confirms Harry is not a catfish, but Louis doesn’t know what to do with that information.
Harry is so out of his league. Harry is also obviously a huge hipster (who uses the word obscure unironically and wears hats that looks like that?) But Harry also has mutual friends with him. How has Louis never met him? He goes out with Sophia fairly regularly, and Liam more often than not comes along. It’s probable that they’ve met before. Their school isn’t huge. But surely Louis would remember meeting someone who looked like Harry?
Unless he was so drunk he lost all recollection of meeting.
Oh no. What if he and Harry actually already know each other but Louis isn’t aware? What is the protocol?
He recognizes that it wouldn’t be a joke match like with Danae. If Louis were to swipe right, he would be opening a whole realm of new possibilities. If they were to get a match, would they be obligated to talk to each other because they have friends in common? And what happens if they never talk, but meet later on? That would be truly uncomfortable, Louis imagines—both knowing that they were virtually matched on a social media dating app but never made an actual attempt to get to know each other. That’s practically a failed date in their dating history.
But deep down, he knows his worst fear is that he and Harry will never get a match at all. What if Louis’ plain smiley face feels too shallow for him? What if three pictures isn’t enough for Harry to accurately judge what he’s like as a person? What if Harry is only into wordy hipsters who can lay their deepest desire in their bio like he did?
Louis is lost.
“What kind of bio is that, anyway?” Louis criticizes him aloud, but there’s doubt in his tone. “That’s too weird and honest. I don’t want someone that weird and honest.”
But after a quick recalculation, Louis realizes there’s nobody here but him, that nobody will know or even care if he swipes right but him, and that he actually really values the traits of being weird and honest.
He take s a guilty look around the empty room before taking a deep breath and swiping right.
It’s an immediate match.
But he didn’t think to prepare himself! He gasps in shock and drops his phone onto his comforter like it’s hot, because now what does he do? Does he send Harry a message or act too cool for it? Does he stalk Harry on Facebook? What if Harry messages back if he sends him something? But then what if he doesn’t?
Eleanor would know better than him what to do. He texts her in a panic.
Help me el I got a really good looking tinder match !!! He knows Sophia ??
Her response comes only moments later.
!!!! you need to be like a convergent plate boundary and move toward each other rather than divergent and apart!! (ha ha ha) Ask him out!! (also sorry that was so bad im actually studying tho can you tell are you proud of me??)
very proud :)
Louis reopens the Tinder app and clicks on Harry’s name. He racks his brain, but he can’t come up with anything clever, so he exits and re reopens his messages.
El I need a good pick up line
You could say… wanna do coriolis tonight??? Because it sounds like coitus? Haha get it?? idek what the coriolis effect even is yet but I know it’s a geology THING (im gonna fail oh no)
I believe in you ! You’ll do great … but I’m not def using that line
Louis sighs and switches back to Tinder, but he completely changes his mindset when he sees he now has a new message from Harry.
Louis blinks in surprise. How is he supposed to respond? Should he say a simple hi too? Or is it his turn to begin an actual conversation?
He’s totally overthinking things. But meeting on the Internet is hard! He makes sure to double-check his spelling and grammar so he can make the best first impression.
Hey. I’m curious, how do you know Sophia and Liam? Have we ever met?
There. That’s smooth. Interested, but not too overeager. Louis can be cool and casual.
Liam is in my fraternity :) And Sophia is his girlfriend! She’s great. I don’t think we’ve ever met. I think I’d remember you if we did ;)
Louis is disappointed in himself for the way the smiley face makes him rush to fix his hair. It’s not like Harry’s even in the room with him.
Louis is pathetic. He’s flustered by a half-flirt. Not even a real flirt. That could easily be misconstrued as flirting when really he just pushed a semicolon rather than a normal colon.
I go out with Sophia all the time! She really is great. Love her.
As soon as Louis hits send, he agonizes over his basic, boring answer.
It’s not made easier by how Harry doesn’t immediately respond. Louis gets antsy after a few too many moments of waiting and begins to scroll through Instagram, pretending not to be nervous he’s somehow bored Harry away from the app.
But even if he did bore him away, it’s not like Louis would even care. Honestly. He’s much more interesting than she really is great on his average day. Even on his mediocre day. It’s too hot to actually try to impress a boy. And he didn’t even know who Harry was just a few minutes ago. So it wouldn’t matter, anyway. It doesn’t affect him in the end.
Hot, hipster Harry.
Oh no, he wants him.
Louis reopens Tinder and squeaks when he sees Harry’s responded.
Yeah, she’s the coolest! She’s coming to the party tonight, which is super exciting because we always have the most fun with her! She brings all of her friends so there are more people than usual and we can convince Liam to drink more than he normally does and Aiden almost always leaves his room to talk to us!
“Did I just get invited to a party?” Louis asks the room at large. Predictably, nobody answers, though his fan oscillates and a few stray papers on his desk rattle.
Did you just slip in an invite to your party tonight, H.S.??
Harry’s next few messages come in a messy haste.
I swear that wasn’t why I said that! I wasn’t trying to like… cop out of asking you directly.
But you can definitely come!!! Oh dear, I’m being rude, aren’t I?
The only thing is Sophia and her friends are coming for… a reason? It’s kind of a themed party, you could say.
Louis laughs out loud. Harry wouldn’t be thinking he was afraid of a little theme if he’d seen him at the 90’s girl group party his freshman year. That was themed. And Louis had slayed.
I’m not afraid of a little party ;) what should I wear?
Uhh… just normal clothes… What you’d wear to a normal party? The theme is like… for the night, not for the clothes?? I guess it will make more sense when you’re here…
Wait, this is really happening? Tonight?
For real? You want to come?
Louis bites his lip as his eyes wander to his dresser, conjuring vague ideas for his outfit. Friday night fulfilled.
Time and place? Could I bring someone?
“How did I convince myself to come with you again?” Zayn groans. A car whizzes past them, the headlights too bright, and it’s almost strange how empty the street is for a college area on a Friday night. There are no hoards of sorority girls carrying their heels in their hands, no throw up littering the bushes along the sidewalk, and no lazy students in sweatpants carrying bags of fries back to their rooms.
Louis blames finals.
It’s too warm to wear long sleeves, but Louis finds himself running his hands along his forearms, a little bit nervous now that he’s so close to meeting hot, hipster Harry for the first time. He half wishes he and Zayn had taken a few shots to pregame and get him to relax, but #collegelife. They’re lucky when they have unspoiled milk in the fridge.
“Maybe you agreed because you’re the best friend a guy could ask for and a night out with me is always more fun than studying?”
Honestly, though, it does mean a lot to Louis that Zayn agreed to come with him. Zayn doesn’t really like to talk about it or complain, and he definitely doesn’t like missing out, but going out comes with typical expectations he finds stressful. Sometimes Zayn leaves parties feeling guilty for disappointing people by not wanting exactly what they want. Then Louis has to watch him beat himself up over it, agonizing over whether he’s a tease or whether he should even try to go out at all because people are only ever really interested in talking to him if they’re trying to get into his pants.
He thinks Zayn feels almost disingenuous by going out with the express wish not to hook up, which is ridiculous to Louis, though he supposes he could never truly understand. And Zayn never really offers him much more than a murmured, vague explanation, anyway.
But Louis always tries to stay close by Zayn’s side when they’re out together, acting as a familiar face and someone he can latch onto if someone tries to get a bit too intrusive or asks too many questions.
People can be dicks.
“Honestly, though,” Zayn cuts him from his thoughts. “I think if I were forced to do any more studying for econ, I’d probably give up entirely. I’d skip the final and move to Colorado or something. I’d never have to hear Professor Beuler drone on about cost benefit analysis ever again.”
“Stay high,” Louis jokes as he navigates around an uneven crack in the sidewalk. “Sorry, though. I know I’m spoiled.”
The best part of being a drama major is that he only has two practical exams—the rest are just final performances he’s already close to perfected, and he can practically wing them. His professors all love him, say he has a “natural talent” or something.
They let the topic drop and walk in silence for a few moments, only the distant sound of a siren in the distance, before Zayn asks, “Where’d you say the house was?”
Louis shrugs, pulls his phone from his pocket, and opens Harry’s last text message to him. “It says here the number is 4467 and it’s around the corner from the McDonald’s. And that there’s a huge rock in the front yard for no reason. So I don’t think we’ll be able to miss it.”
“I never knew there was a frat there,” Zayn comments.
Louis thinks it over, and he’s pretty sure he didn’t either.
They round a corner and The Fated McDonalds comes into view. Louis’ fingers begin to get slippery on his phone as the impeding meeting sinks in more fully. “Maybe they’re just super exclusive.”
By the time they pass the restaurant and the huge pointless rock comes into view, Louis realizes that this is it. It’s time. He scrolls through his contacts until he gets to the S, then pushes back his pre blind date nerves and presses call.
“Hello?” Harry picks up after a few rings, and Louis stumbles. He wasn’t expecting to hear such a slow, calming voice.
“Hey, Harry. It’s Louis,” Louis says, hoping his voice is even. “I think we’re here? I see the rock.”
There’s a commotion on the other end of the line before Harry’s voice comes out in a rush. “Uh, yeah, great! Meet me at the side gate?”
And then he hangs up.
“Oh no,” Louis lowers his phone from his ear, turning to Zayn in worry. “Now I’m scared.”
“Why?” Zayn looks unnerved.
“He said meet me at the gate and just hung up. That’s weird, right? This is why people don’t get dates from Tinder,” Louis stresses.
Blind dating is frowned upon for a reason.
“Relax,” Zayn laughs, moving behind Louis to rub at his shoulders as he eases him forward. “He’s probably nervous, too. Or maybe he’s shy! Shyness is mistaken for rudeness all the time.”
It’s harder for Louis to be worried when Zayn is rubbing out the tension from his muscles. “It’ll be okay?”
“It’ll be great,” Zayn reassures him, switching tactics so he’s digging one elbow into Louis’ shoulder blade. “I promise. You’re so much fun to be around, you’re really nice and funny, and your ass looks great in those jeans. If he doesn’t make a move—I’d guess he’s more like me than you, you know?”
Louis laughs in complete surprise. Zayn doesn’t bring it up himself very often, so when he does, Louis is always a little bit caught off guard. In a good way, though. “Was that an ace joke? I love it.”
Zayn shrugs and gives him a small smile, letting his arms drop as they pass the huge rock and begin their walk up the driveway. “It doesn’t even sound like there’s a party going on to me.”
Louis would normally try to steer the subject back to the joke somehow, encourage Zayn to open up a little bit more, but he’s hit by a wave of nerves. “He said this was the—”
“Hi!” a voice interrupts him. “I can’t believe you actually came!”
A tall body emerges from the shadows at the side of the house. Louis instinctively steps closer to Zayn, but he recognizes that it’s Harry as soon as he’s in the light.
Harry from Tinder. Hot, hipster Harry from Tinder, wearing a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled and tattoos peeking out from below the white shirt underneath, is in front of him.
“Louis! I think you’re cuter in person, if that’s even possible,” Harry says, eyes wide in wonder like he’s actually shocked.
Louis is equally in awe. Apparently, meeting strangers on the Internet isn’t nearly as sketchy as he’d previously thought. Harry looks like someone he could have purchased coffee from this morning, or like a fellow fatigued student falling asleep beside him in class.
Before Louis can get a word out, he finds himself pressed to Harry’s chest, firm arms wrapped around his shoulders. Normally Louis wouldn’t object, would fully appreciate the warm welcome, but his arms are caught awkwardly between them and Harry is hugging so tightly it’s difficult to free them.
The hug just feels kind of awkward.
Harry doesn’t seem to mind, though, because moments after letting him free, he’s moved onto Zayn. Zayn turns his head to give Louis a this was quick look as Harry squeezes him, but he doesn’t seem suspicious or like he doesn’t approve—more amused than anything.
“Yeah, sorry, hi,” Harry says once everyone’s limbs are safely back where they belong. “I was really nervous before you got here so I took, like, four shots in the span of two minutes. I feel all wiggly now.”
“Wiggly,” Zayn muses, sending Louis another significant look. “That’s a new one.”
“I might have lied to you a little bit,” Harry looks down at his turned in feet like he’s upset. “When I said that when Sophia is here there are more people, I really meant that when she’s here there… are, well, people. In general.”
Ah, the Tinder curse has finally shown through. Louis has been duped. He knew Harry was too good to be true.
“So, there’s nobody here but us?” Louis asks slowly. The neighborhood doesn’t seem too dangerous or worrisome, but this is sounding 50 shades of sketch.
“No, there are! My whole fraternity is here! There’s alcohol and we’ll have a game going on later and I can make you guys a quesadilla if you’re hungry! I can make you something else too, if you’re lactose intolerant or something, I just can’t make my guacamole anymore because avocados are bad for Arky. And last time I made it he ate some and then we had to take him to the vet.”
“Maybe just a beer,” Zayn suggests. “For now.”
“Yeah! Yeah, of course, sorry, come in!” Harry takes a quick glance at Louis and drops his eyes as they make their way to the front door, almost like he’s afraid to make direct eye contact. Afraid that Louis will see something new that he dislikes. It makes Louis’ stomach twist in a weird way, makes him want to take Harry’s hand in his and tell him he seems just as lovely in person as he did on Tinder—just a little more tipsy than he imagined.
“I was going to take you in through the side gate like we normally do when we have a party. We know that’s what all the other fraternities do, but Arky is in the backyard and he’s a little bit of a troublemaker. He’s old, but if he gets out it takes Josh hours to get him back in!”
Harry turns to address them as his hand hovers over the doorknob, Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows.
“And um. It’s finals week, and we have the highest GPA of all the fraternities on campus, so don’t be—well… I guess you’ll just see when we get inside.”
The first thing Louis takes in as Harry swings the door open is a huge, blown up periodic table plastered to the wall. There are scribbles all over it—messages from frat members to one another, notes about composition, event reminders, and the occasional doodle of a beaker.
All in all, it looks very well loved.
Louis has never seen a well-loved periodic table.
He’s not sure how to feel about it.
“This is, uh, our message board. It’s, like, kind of an inside joke. But also helpful for us,” Harry explains as he scratches behind his neck. Louis very carefully arranges his expression into one of neutrality as a glorious moment of clarity washes over him.
Because, as it turns out, Harry is not sketchy at all. He’s just a nervous nerd. Hot, hipster Harry is a nervous nerd, and for some reason Louis is endlessly enthralled by his discomfort. Louis likes the way he’s biting at his lip as he assesses whether they’re freaked out by the science, the pink blush on his cheeks, and the sweat steadily building above his lip.
“That’s… very unique,” Zayn comments beside him. Louis can hear how hard he’s trying not to laugh, so he pinches him above the elbow.
Harry pulls at his lip with his thumb and forefinger as he leads them into the main room, the wallpaper outdated and the few couches frayed along the arms. “And this is, um, where the party is—or will be.”
There are boys strewn throughout the room, two playing Wii Bowling and a few curled up with notebooks and textbooks thrown across their laps. The room is free of crushed beer cans and dark, untreated carpet stains and smells faintly of vanilla. It’s not at all what Louis was expecting when he planned to visit a frat house.
All the while, Harry watches Louis and Zayn take in their surroundings, wringing his hands together.
“Can I get you both a drink? Or just the beer? We have Fireball, too. And Vodka. And then some Angry Orchard because that’s all Jonny can drink without throwing up.”
“A beer would be great, thanks,” Louis smiles.
A hush falls over the room as the others gather that they have guests. Louis realizes that music actually is playing in the background, though it’s so low it’s difficult to make out exactly what it is.
“Who’s that, Harry?” the boy with a heaviest textbook asks from the couch by the window, eyebrows wiggling suggestively behind his thick glasses.
The rest of the room lets out a very juvenile oooooh and Harry’s pink face crimsons.
Harry ignores them and points his thumb to a nearby door. “I’m gonna—” he pauses and drops his chin as he lowers his voice to a whisper. “If you’re going to sneak out while I’m getting your drinks, can you at least tell me now so I can hide away in my room and not have to go through the walk of shame?”
Louis’ heart drops at the pleading tone in his voice—like maybe that has actually happened to him before. “We’ll be here, I promise.”
Harry nods but looks less than convinced as he walks away, throwing glances over his shoulder as he goes.
“Oh my God, Louis. You’re on a date with a huge nerd,” Zayn laughs as soon as he’s out of earshot. “Are they doing math?”
Louis turns to where Zayn is pointing. He hadn’t noticed before, but there are two nondescript white boards in the opposite corner of the room, black and red marker taking up half the board space.
“Maybe? I don’t know. I hate math,” Louis confides, distracted. He’s not truly thinking about math at all. He’s stuck on Harry’s wavering words, the doubt that they’d stay.
“Do you wanna dip?” Zayn asks, angling his body towards the front door. “We could go—”
“No!” Louis almost yells, the thought of leaving Harry after promising him they’d be here unimaginable. It would be criminal. “We just met him. Haven’t you ever heard of the concept of not judging a book by its cover?”
Zayn gives Louis a questioning look. “Yeah, but they’re doing math at a party. There’s no way you can make math fun. I lived through fun math in third grade. I know it’s a lie.”
Louis really doesn’t want to leave. He’s strangely drawn to Harry’s over enthusiasm, to the unrestrained look of excitement on Harry’s face when he first saw them in the driveway. He wants more. “Can we just stay for a few more minutes? I wouldn’t want to be rude.”
Karma seems to be instant, because just as Zayn rolls his eyes and lets out a contemptuous okay, a huge, slobbering basset hound lets out a ferocious bark from the hallway and comes rushing their way.
“He’s friendly, I promise!” a blonde boy yells out before Louis can do much more than let out a tiny (or not so tiny) scream. “Arky! Arky, they’re friends! Stop!”
Harry comes tripping out from the kitchen just as the blonde catches up to the charging dog. “Arky! No! They promised they’d stay!”
“I’ve got him, Harry!” the blonde shouts as his fingers wrap around the dog’s collar. “No worries.”
Harry stops with his hand on the door handle, his eyebrows pulled together like he’s torn. “Okay... But don’t you scare them away, either! Just—one more minute.”
And then he disappears back into the kitchen.
“Hey, I’m Niall,” the blonde introduces himself as he approaches Louis and Zayn, bent low to keep hold of the dog’s collar. “And this little guy here is Arky!”
Louis holds out his palm to the basset, but he ignores it in favor of sniffing and slobbering all over his shoes. Which feels like the most accepting welcome he could receive, anyway.
“Harry’s helping his little out with calculus. With finals and all, there’s a lot going on, but you picked a good day to come over! Game days are always my favorite because everyone gets so aggressive,” Niall explains as he stands and lets Arky free.
Zayn lets out a quiet gasp beside Louis. “What—what do you mean? Game days?”
“Harry didn’t tell you?”
Niall looks like he’s considering his options before he shrugs. “Well, I hope he wasn’t trying to trick you into thinking we’re cooler than we are. But if he was, I’m glad I get to be the one to ruin it for him.”
He scratches at Arky’s belly with his foot as he continues. “Uh, I’m not sure exactly how well you know Sophia, but she’s mechanical engineering, so she has a bunch of friends in the same major. And a bunch of us here are too and also on the same course path, so each semester during finals, we have a study competition type thing. Here. Using those white boards.”
“Like in High School Musical? The thing that gets interrupted so Troy and Gabriella can audition?” Zayn asks.
“Yes!” Niall laughs, raising his right hand for a high five. Zayn’s eyes widen as he lets their hands touch. “Exactly like that. But we play it more like a drinking game, so even if you think math’s boring, you can still have fun! Which I know sounds like total bullshit, but I swear it isn’t. The person who’s slowest to get the answer’s whole team has to drink, so we’re all wasted by the end of the night. We’re also too drunk to care who wins, which is good because Sophia’s friends are vicious and smart as hell. And then we also all get As on the final, so it’s win-win.”
“What about the people who aren’t in the class?” Louis asks, slightly terrified as he bends down to give Arky some of his own scratches.
“You don’t have to play, but I’m sure Nick could give you a problem more… at your level. He’s our moderator,” Niall explains as an afterthought. “Actually, I can go ask him now. You two aren’t leaving, right? Harry would probably cry if you did, and nobody wants to see that. I’ll be right back.”
Louis is about to say no, we’ll definitely be here, but Zayn beats him to it.
Niall nods at the affirmation and does a goofy little dance as he walks backwards out of the room to the beat of the quiet music.
“What happened to they’re doing math at a party?” Louis asks, but his smile stops short when he takes his eyes off Arky and sees how spooked Zayn looks.
“What’s wrong?” Louis demands. He stands and ignores Arky’s nose against his leg begging for more attention.
“Did you see his ring?” Zayn blurts out, both hands pressed to his cheeks in distress.
“Uh… no,” Louis says. “What did it look like?”
“It was black. On his middle finger! On his right hand,” Zayn points out like it’s obvious.
“I’m not understanding. Is that a problem?” Louis asks.
Zayn shakes his head. “No. It’s like… it’s an ace thing.”
“I’ve never met anyone else like me,” Zayn scuffs his toe at the floor before he bends down to resume the scratching behind Arky’s ears, his eyes avoidant. “I’m probably just… looking too much into this. He probably just likes rings. But I looked and I didn’t see him wearing any other jewelry!”
Zayn looks up at him, expression conflicted. “But maybe he just really likes that ring? I don’t know. It’s probably just a coincidence. I’m probably wrong.”
“Hey, you’ll never know unless you ask,” Louis gently reminds him. “And I’m sure he’d love to talk to you about it.”
Zayn’s jaw tenses. “It’s not exactly easy to bring up in normal conversation. People don’t normally respond well to being asked oh hey, sorry, just out of curiosity, do you happen to experience sexual or romantic attraction, Louis. It’s just… rude. It’s not something people even really know about or how to respond to. It would be weird to bring it up.”
“Well if you ask like that, then it would be,” Louis tells him.
The kitchen door squeaks open and Harry passes through, three beers in his hands. He smiles when he makes eye contact with Louis and seems to sigh out in relief.
“I’ll try to ask in a more casual, roundabout way,” Louis whispers as he makes his way to them.
“No, Louis, you—” Zayn begins to protest, but then Harry is there, very carefully avoiding Louis’ fingers when passing him his bottle.
“Um, yeah, really sorry about that. My little isn’t doing too well in calculus, so he’s been banished to the study room for the night,” Harry explains with an unsure chuckle.
“It’s totally fine. We’re having a great time,” Louis reassures him.
“Oh! Are you?” Harry asks, making eye contact again before he takes a huge swig from his bottle. “Really? What happened while I was gone?”
“We met Niall,” Louis answers, fingers running along the condensation of the bottle. “He seems great.”
“Oh, yeah, he is!” Harry agrees. “And he’s really great at guitar! He’s teaching me. It’s terrible. I mean—I’m terrible. I’m having fun, though. Playing. When I play.”
Harry’s shifting his weight from foot to foot so quickly it’s giving Louis whiplash. It’s painful. He reaches a hand out to touch at Harry’s forearm and calm him. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Yeah, sorry,” Harry pulls his arm away and pinches at the ridge of his nose. “The shots are just. You know. Hitting me. It’s fine. I’m fine.”
Louis wants to feel Harry’s forehead. “I’ve never heard of alcohol making someone nervous. Are you sure you didn’t smoke b—”
“Oh, good, look! Finally. Niall’s back,” Harry interjects.
Louis turns and watches as Niall pulls the hood up over one of the boys on the couch’s heads before rejoining them.
“Nick said he has his sister’s 9th grade algebra notes, so he’s sure he can find a way for you to play,” Niall only laughs a little. “If you want to, of course.”
Louis isn’t sure whether to feel insulted or included.
“Oh God. You really don’t have to,” Harry tells him. “It’s probably, like, nerdy. We can do something else. Something more fun.”
“No, I think this sounds fun,” Louis says. “I just feel bad for my team members.”
“Glad you won’t be on our team, then,” Niall raises his eyebrows. “Not with that attitude.”
“He doesn’t really mean that,” Harry says.
“It’s fine.” He zeroes in on Niall’s plain black ring, reminding himself that he has a goal. “I can take it.”
“Yes! Knew I liked him,” Niall directs Harry’s way, then turns to address Louis. “Harry hasn’t been on a date in over three months. I was a little worried.”
Louis feels a jolt of butterflies at Niall’s affirmation that Harry thought this counted as a date, too, but reminds himself to stay focused. There’s time to flirt with his nerd all night, but he won’t get very many openings as perfect as this for assisting in Zayn’s digging.
“Don’t make fun of Harry for his dating history! We can’t all have a date every weekend,” Louis accuses Niall with a semi innocent smile.
His style is simple and half straight to the non-straight point. Louis is very proud of his nonchalance.
But Niall laughs so hard he bends over to rest his hands on his knees. “That’s actually hilarious! I haven’t been on a date since high school. Not that I mind, though.”
“No?” Louis asks, prompting Niall to elaborate. Zayn’s hand finds Louis’ arm, shaking.
“Nah. I really don’t give a fuck. You don’t need to feel bad for me or anything. I’m ace and aro, like the great Katniss Everdeen,” Niall makes a motion like he’s pretending to hold a bow and arrow and fake shoots at one of the Wii players. “Or how she should have been, at least. And if you don’t know what that means, it’s just that I d—”
“I know exactly what it means,” Zayn cuts in, though not rudely—more inspired or astonished.
A beat of silence follows Zayn’s declaration. Louis’ heart swells as he watches Zayn’s expression go from petrified to shocked to calm and excited all in the span of three short seconds.
“Yeah?” Niall asks. His smile is soft and understanding, excitement shining from his eyes as he takes Zayn in for what looks like the first time.
It’s beautiful to watch. Louis is known to fall in love with anyone that gives him the time of day and to want to fuck anyone that rubs up against him in the right way, but Louis is definitely not clueless. He recognizes that this is important—that this happenstance meeting is rare, something Zayn never thought would happen to him, but has been craving since he realized he wasn’t the only one.
It’s Zayn and Niall’s Magical Moment. Louis throws imaginary confetti and wants to kiss both of their big shiny ace foreheads and bake them a congratulations on meeting your platonic match cake, but instead he just takes it as his and Harry’s cue to leave them alone. “Hey, Harry, can I have a tour?”
Harry chokes on his beer. “You want a tour of the house? With just me and you?”
“Yeah, that’s great, thanks,” Louis grabs at his hand as he pulls him away from their friends, both glowing with their newfound similarity. “Show me something cool.”
“Um, okay,” Harry says, wide eyes glued to their connected hands. “I can show you the pi room, if you want? It’s the shed in the backyard, though. It isn’t really a room. I mean, it kind of is, but it’s also not?”
“That sounds great,” Louis smiles, trying to ignore how much Harry’s hand is sweating. It’s so sweetly pitiful that Louis wants to put him out of his misery, but also prolong it as long as possible.
Harry eventually has to pull his hand from Louis’ to open the back door. As Harry waits to let Arky pass through, Louis pulls his phone out and sends a quick text update to El.
Zayn ended up meeting someone!! Harry’s rlly cute and sweet but so nervous I feel b ad for him
El immediately sends a long string of question marks.
Met another ace !!! Happy days for Zayn
Harry clears his throat as he closes the door and lets his hand hover behind Louis’ lower back as he leads him through the darkness. And the phantom pressure actually drives Louis a little bit mad. Because why can’t Harry just touch him? They’ve both practically confirmed that this counts as a date. He’s not sure what he’s waiting for.
If it’s Harry’s idea of getting Louis to want what he can’t have… it’s… actually working well. Oh God. He wants Harry’s big, smart hands all over him. He takes a drink of his beer to deal with the realization properly.
“We call our dog Arky because it’s short for Archimedes. He was a super important mathematician and he helped approximate pi. I mean, if you didn’t already know that. Fun fact. Not that I’m trying to say you look like someone who wouldn’t know,” Harry stumbles over his words as he trips over a weed.
“I wasn’t aware,” Louis tells him honestly.
“Oh! Okay, nice. So what we do is we always throw a party on pi day and we make Arky his own healthy dog pie. And we try to make him wear a party hat with the pi symbol painted on! He always scratches it off before we can get a picture, though. And I— I… actually don’t remember where I was going with this story. Nobody ever actually comes to our pi day party, anyway. It’s just an excuse to eat pie. And get rid of oatmeal.”
And why is Louis finding his rambling to be cute rather than a turn off? The story makes no sense. Harry makes no sense. But Louis finds himself wanting to laugh, anyway.
“Wait, that actually reminded me! I was talking about how we named him. It’s not really important, but we liked that if we shortened it to Arky, it would rhyme with barky. Which is like… a bark. But like you would say to a baby, or maybe even a dog,” Harry’s lips turn up at the end, like he’s not sure whether it would be acceptable for him to laugh at his own joke.
Oh no. Louis is so, so endeared. Too endeared. Too quickly.
“Very clever,” Louis compliments him as Harry opens the shed door for him.
Inside, it’s stuffy and plain, the scuffed walls more grey than white. There are boxes stacked haphazardly in the corners and a wooden table placed in the middle of the room, but no sign of pies. There’s not even an oven in which to bake pies.
“So. Why is this the pie room?” Louis asks as his phone buzzes with another text. Harry busies himself with finding the light switch, fingers loud against the wall.
yay zayn!! that’s the best news ive heard in an entire eon (hahaha an eon is sooooo long this was another geology joke sorry) (im still gonna fail but good luck on your awkward date lol)
He frowns as he tucks his phone away. Even with the light switched on now, the room is dim, lit only with one hanging light bulb from the ceiling.
“As part of our initiation, we have to memorize as many digits of pi as possible. I mean, for us,” Harry says, hip to the wall as he leans beside the light switch. “And we all get our own area of the wall and we write out as many digits as we can remember in one session. If you, like, look closer, you can probably see that there are numbers written there. Or I guess anywhere.”
Louis steps closer to the perimeter, gasping when he squints and can see just how many numbers someone named Brian wrote out in 1996. “There has to be at least a hundred digits here! How could someone remember that? How many digits did you get?”
Harry pushes off the wall and moves to the center table, his face pained. “I think I just got, like, fifty. Ish. I didn’t study much. The actual record holder memorized and recited, like, sixty five thousand numbers. It took him over a day to do it for the world record judges.”
“Interesting,” Louis says, but he’s much more interested in the way his heart rate speeds up at Harry’s close by voice, both of them enclosed in this one small room. He sets his beer down and joins Harry in leaning against the table, smiling when their pinky fingers touch.
“So, um, Niall and Zayn seemed like they were going to get along… well,” Harry brings up, voice unsteady now.
Louis nods, thoroughly distracted by the memories of Zayn’s excitement fresh in his mind. “Yeah. I think Zayn’s more excited than he let on. Has Niall ever met someone else like them?”
“I don’t—I mean, maybe? We don’t really talk about it much. But he’s super open about it. Which is cool! I support him. I mean, it kind of took me a while to really get it, you know? But that’s just because it’s so different. Not that it’s bad different, just not what I’m used to. It’s all personal preference, but good for him. I’m glad he—”
Harry covers his face in his hands as he leans back to sprawl across the tabletop. “God, I sound like an uncomfortable straight ally trying to prove how down with the cause I am.”
Louis bursts out laughing, pleased that Harry seems to have broken out of his nervous, overexcited babbling, as cute as it was. “A little."
Harry doesn’t move his hands. “I promise I’m not normally like this. I normally make fun of people who say things like that. That’s normally said to me. Not the other way around. Fuck.”
Louis jumps up fully onto the table, crossing his legs so he can rest his elbows on his knees and study Harry. It’s a little too warm here in the shed, but it’s kind of fun to see Harry sweat under his gaze.
“I wouldn’t even say it’s the most questionable thing you’ve said to me tonight,” Louis admits.
Harry groans miserably. “I won’t be offended if you want to leave, I promise. I wouldn’t blame you, actually. You probably think I’m weird and sweaty.”
“Hey,” Louis pulls Harry’s hands from his face and pats at the spot in front of him. “I find you interesting and sweaty. Sit up. Let’s talk.”
Harry looks reluctant but he sits, knees pushed up against Louis’. The table wobbles ominously, but Louis figures they wouldn’t be too injured if it were to fall.
“Hi,” Louis smiles and brings his fingers to Harry’s knees.
“Hi,” Harry looks at Louis from beneath his eyelashes, shyly unleashing the dimple. And there’s something special about Harry’s hesitant gaze combined with the odd progression of the night that makes Louis want to figure him out.
“So. Tell me. Why did you think Zayn and I were going to leave you earlier?” Louis asks.
Harry’s face scrunches up in distaste. “Could we skip the awkward past history thing?”
Louis shakes his head. Now he’s even more intrigued.
“Fine,” Harry sighs. He bites his lip and hesitates before he reaches out to run his fingers along the creases in Louis’ palms. Louis ignores the way his heart skips a beat; one touch to the hand should not get his blood pumping so much.
“So, I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’m a little bit of a nerd,” Harry says with a self-deprecating laugh. “But, like, I know I really don’t look like a nerd when you first see me. But my brothers are all really important to me, so I’ve always kind of tried to bring people I was interested in to the house earlier, rather than later. To see if they’d mesh well. To see if I’m wasting my time.”
Harry is still absentmindedly running his fingers along Louis’ hands and wrists. In a strange twist of events, now Louis feels like the nervous, red-faced one.
“People are never really sure what to do when I bring them here. Most of the people that take an interest in me are—fuck, I don’t know how to say this without seeming obnoxious. Out of my fraternity’s league? I guess. Not that I really believe in leagues. They’re an unfair construct made to rank people in worth by their looks. But a lot of people have this weird disconnect between who they thought I was and who I am. So a lot of the time, people leave. They’re not interested in me once they realize who I really am.”
Louis’ jaw drops. “They leave? Without telling you beforehand?”
Harry shrugs and pulls his hands back, clasping them together on top of his lap. Louis is sad about it. “Yeah. Someone once climbed out of our bathroom window. He broke the screen, too. And I had to pay for it.”
Harry’s frown is so precious. Louis would be willing to bet Harry offered to pay because he felt guilty.
Something must be done. Harry deserves to know he’s lovely and those jerks never deserved him in the first place.
Louis pulls Harry’s hands apart and purposefully runs his hands up Harry’s thighs, making eye contact in a silent question. Harry holds his palms out in response, so Louis crawls forward and straddles Harry’s lap. He wraps both arms around his neck and smiles when Harry pulls him closer.
“Is that why you were so nervous before, too? Why you couldn’t stop rambling about Arky and pie and quesadillas?”
Harry’s fingers are hesitant against Louis’ back. “Are you the only one who gets to ask the questions here?”
Louis shakes his head, surprised by Harry’s insistence. “No. Ask me anything. Hit me with your best shot.”
“Um. Okay. Well… okay. Hm. I feel like I should ask your favorite color or something, but I know that would be too boring. But then I don’t want to ask something too deep because then you’ll think I’m weird,” Harry says.
“What about something somewhere in the middle?” Louis asks. “Not too basic, not too forward. Something fun. Surprise me.”
Harry’s pointer finger taps against Louis’ back as he thinks. “Okay, I’ve got it! When you get on an elevator with other people, do you wait for the other person to push the button or do you do it yourself?”
“Is this an innuendo?” Louis asks. His knees are beginning to ache, but he very much likes their current position. Harry’s thighs are firm but comfortable. “Are you testing me? How am I supposed to answer this? What’s the right answer?”
“There’s no right answer,” Harry insists.
Louis tugs at one of Harry’s curls. “But there is, and I feel like I have to know what kind of person you are to know which one it is. Because if you’re the kind of person that thinks people who take charge and press the button first are annoying, then I don’t want to be that person. And then if you think people who wait for other people to push it first are lazy or unmotivated, I definitely don’t want to be that person. So what do you do?”
“You’re thinking way too deeply into this,” Harry says almost timidly, fingers dipping lower along Louis’ waist. “I really don’t have any secret motives.”
“Hey, hey!” Louis shakes Harry’s shoulder. “None of that nervous shit again. Stay with me here.”
“Sorry,” Harry apologizes. “Really, though. Anything.”
Louis ponders for a few moments, but decides to take the easy way out. “If there’s no right answer, then I’m going to have to go with taking the stairs. Easy, quicker, bam. And good for my ass.”
Harry blinks up at him a few times. “I guess that does say a lot about you. But not in the way I was expecting.”
“Get used to that,” Louis laughs, pleased at having gotten such a nice reaction out of Harry. “My turn for a question! I’m asking what you dodged before. Don’t think I forgot.”
“Boo,” Harry complains. “Do I have another option?”
Louis shakes his head, inching his hips forward, very unsubtly. “My second question was extremely inappropriate. We did meet on Tinder, after all.”
Harry gulps. “It’s embarrassing. You have to promise not to make fun of me.”
“I make no such promises,” Louis says before he impulsively bends forward to press a quick kiss to Harry’s cheek. “But tell me anyway.”
Harry’s reaction to the chaste kiss is immediate—a gasp and cock twitch.
“Fine,” Harry exhales, turning his head to the side so they’re not making direct eye contact. “You’re just… you’re very good looking, okay? And it made me nervous. I really was surprised you said you’d stay. It felt too good to be true! And I’m fully aware I’m giving you even more reason to think I’m a dweeb and maybe even giving you a huge ego, but it’s the truth.”
Harry takes in a deep breath and throws his head back so he’s staring at the spider webbed ceiling. “The honest truth is you’re very attractive and I’m just a nerd in a fraternity who likes math and was gifted with quirky hair that lures people into thinking I’m cooler than I actually am. So. Yeah. That’s me. I was afraid you’d leave, but I really, really wanted you to stay and didn’t want to ruin things. That’s why I was so nervous.”
“He got a big ego, such a huge ego,” Louis sings.
“Shut up,” Harry pouts. “You said you wouldn’t judge me.”
“I never said that,” Louis teases him. “But I guess it’s my turn to tell you a truth.”
Harry looks terrified, eyes dropping back down so they’re making eye contact. “Is it good or bad?”
“I think you’ll like it,” Louis says, stomach suddenly filled with butterflies. He moves his fingers to Harry’s chest, checking to see if his heartbeat is racing just as much as his.
Louis drops his voice down to a whisper.
“I think my truth is that you’re not like I expected. You look the same, but… you used the word obscure in your bio. I didn’t expect you to offer to make quesadillas for your party guests or talk about learning the first fifty digits of pi like it’s no big deal. Like, I secretly nicknamed you hot, hipster Harry. I kind of thought you’d want to discuss smoothies and Instagram and that you’d be a nice, quick fuck. I was actually afraid you wouldn’t like me. Not the other way around.”
“I can still be that,” Harry says. “If you want. We can talk about smoothies and Instagram. And that—the other thing. But it’s been a while.”
“I like this Harry, though. I don’t need smoothies and Instagram when you’re really Archimedes and study competitions,” Louis says as he massages his thumb into Harry’s pec. “The other thing, though. That, I’m definitely into.”
The hot air shifts. “You… like me?”
“Is that not completely obvious?” Louis asks. It feels like he’s just laid himself bare.
Harry bites his lip. “Even after seeing how much of a nerd I really am?”
Louis pushes at Harry’s chest before bringing his hand to the back of Harry’s neck. “More than I originally thought I would, even. It’s a nice surprise.”
“Okay,” Harry sits up straighter. And it may have been three months since his last date, but he seems to remember exactly what to do. He lets one hand dip down to grip at the curve of Louis’ lower back and brings a thumb to his lower lip. “If it wasn’t obvious, I really like you, too.”
Louis presses a kiss to his fingertip just as the shed’s door flies open.
“Why did I have to find out through Niall that you two were hooking up in the pi room?” comes Sophia’s shrill voice.
“Oh no. We’ve been discovered,” Harry gulps.
“It’s fine!” Liam pants, out of breath like he’s chased after her. “We were just sent—”
“Don’t lie to them! I knew they were hooking up. I won,” Sophia’s voice sounds smug.
“We weren’t. We hadn’t gotten to that,” Harry mumbles out, but their compromising position makes his explanation a moot point.
Liam informs them that the whole group has finally arrived, so after sadly and awkwardly extracting himself from Harry’s lap, Sophia links her arm through Louis’ and pulls him away from the table. Liam doesn’t seem to mind, putting a hand to Harry’s shoulder to get him to stay and asking about his little finishing his calculus problems.
Louis looks over his shoulder as they exit, guessing their separation was planned. Sophia is an expert interrogator.
“So, you and Harry?” Sophia asks once the door closes behind them. Her hair is in a messy bun and she’s in sweats, but Louis swears she’s still the prettiest girl he’s ever met, even with an eyebrow raised threateningly. “When did that begin exactly?”
“It hasn’t even begun yet. We were rudely interrupted,” Louis points out.
Sophia gives him a stern look. “Harry takes his grades seriously. And if his grades slip because of you distracting him, I’d never forgive myself. So sorry for interrupting, but I don’t want to see him cry over a B+ again. Nobody does.”
“Why would you never forgive yourself?” Louis asks. That is a suspect sentence if he’s ever heard one.
“Because I’m the one who convinced Harry to make a Tinder in the first place,” Sophia says like it’s a commonly known fact.
Arky sneaks in through the back door with them, panting happily with a tennis ball in his mouth. The three of them gravitate towards the only light left in the house—the competition room.
“Hey. That’s actually funny, because El was the one who convinced me to make a Tinder,” Louis laughs.
“You say that like it’s a coincidence,” Sophia says. “When it totally wasn’t.”
Louis stops right beside the group picture of the fraternity all in their fancy tuxes. “You planned this?”
Sophia ignores him and grabs for his hand. “Come on, you’re on my team.”
They situate themselves on a mostly unoccupied loveseat, squeezing in beside Sophia’s friend Jade. In the center of the room, Nick the moderator is sat upon a high kitchen barstool, a heavy textbook in his lap.
Louis glances around to check up on Zayn, but he’s nowhere to be seen. And after another quick scan, he realizes Niall is gone, too. He pulls his phone from his pocket.
Hey bro, you good?
Liam and Harry rejoin the group only moments later. They’re both delegated to sit on the floor in punishment for holding the game up, but also because there’s no room left. Arky lies down beside the two of them and lays his head in Liam’s lap, for which Louis definitely does not envy him because of the slobber. Liam accepts his fate with only a slight grimace on his face, scratching behind Arky’s ears, anyway.
“Alright! Let’s get this competition started,” Nick silences the group. “Cher? Jonny? Are you two willing to go first?”
Once they’re both settled in front of their respective whiteboards, Nick reads off a question that Louis thinks is actually gibberish, and then both are racing to complete it. Louis thinks it’s probably math (there are numbers) but he might be wrong.
Zayn’s reply comes just as the tension in the room raises a few knots.
Sorry! Yeah we’re good aha. Went to McDonalds for fries and to have a private chat :) be back soon!
Louis lets out a sigh of relief as Cher screams out in excitement. She throws her marker to the floor and she’s immediately enveloped by a group hug, her team running to congratulate her on the first point as the fraternity groans.
“Drink up boys,” Cher sticks her tongue out over the heads of her teammates.
“First point to Team Intruders,” Nick says under his breath.
Louis sends out his second text of purpose as Sophia settles back down beside him, Jade in front of the white board, poised and ready to defeat Ed in a question that makes just as much sense to Louis as the first.
El!!!!!!! Sophia told me >:(
“We’ve actually been meaning to set you up with Harry for a while,” Sophia tells him, eyes glued to the whiteboard. “Oh no, she’s made a mistake.”
“Why didn’t you set us up like normal people? Why did you trick us into meeting on Tinder? Tinder is very unreliable,” Louis points out. “We’re lucky we even saw each other and got a match.”
“Oh, please,” Sophia scoffs. “Times are changing, but the ratio of boys who like other boys is still low. The odds were definitely in your favor.”
Which actually makes sense. Louis remembers being confused when he was matched with someone 3433 miles away and how he was beginning to get repeat potential matches.
Ed throws his fist into the air after he caps his marker, making the score an even tie of 1:1 so Louis and Sophia are forced to venture into the kitchen for their own drink. Louis leans against the counter as Sophia opens the fridge, checking Eleanor’s text.
yeah!!! heard there’s a warm front over there if you know what I mean ;) (HELP I don’t even know what I meannnn I got distracted by Netflix and now I’m half studying half crying about my poor life choices)
He accepts the beer from Sophia, deciding to text Eleanor back when they’re sitting.
Once they’re back in the game room, Liam points to his watch and the room stares as they chug, letting out an uproar when Louis tries to stop drinking before the beer is halfway gone.
“No cheating!” Liam yells. “Go hard or go home.”
“Don’t go home,” Harry pleads. “Liam, be nicer to our guests.”
Sophia clinks her half-finished beer against Louis’ as they make their way back to their seats.
“Was that mean?” Liam questions. He pauses his fingers atop Arky’s head, making him whine. “Oh no. I really didn’t mean to be.”
“Who’s next?” Nick interrupts them.
Harry raises his hand and stands, gearing up to compete against a girl with dark brown hair Louis doesn’t recognize. He shakes her hand before Nick reads off the untranslatable question, and then Harry’s focused, eyebrows furrowed as he presses the black felt tip to the whiteboard, scribbling furiously. He bites his lip and cheats, taking a quick glance at his opponent to judge their time.
Louis digs his nails into his thigh; he’s never found book smarts to be particularly hot, but Harry makes it work. He can imagine Harry in glasses, poring over a textbook at 3 AM and working so late into the night Louis is forced to take him to bed. He seems so determined and disciplined, his writing small but neat, and Louis is surprised to notice it almost makes him want to be better. To study harder, to practice more. Harry could be a good influence on him.
To worsen Louis’ lust, when Harry wins, he hugs his opponent and compliments her on her “perfect curls.”
Which is just. Unnecessarily kind. Harry is all types of unnecessary, but Louis really, really likes it.
Date is going LOADS better ! Almost kissed him but your co conspirator was a cock block :( remember that Netflix is whenever but test is in two short days
“Hey Louis, did you take geometry?” Nick asks right as he presses send.
“Like… five years ago,” Louis tells him, not eager to embarrass himself in front of everyone. “All I remember is that python theory.”
Nick snorts and covers his face with one hand. “The Pythagorean theorem?”
Hm. That does sound much more mathematical.
“Its quesadilla time!” Harry shouts. He hurries to get in front of Louis and reaches one hand out to help him up. “Did you want to help me? My quesadillas are tradition.”
“I can help you by watching,” Louis suggests as he places his hand in Harry’s.
Catcalls follow them as they make their way to the kitchen.
“I’m really sorry about them,” Harry says, pulling his hand from Louis’ so he can grab a pan from the cabinet. “They’re all just jealous I have a date and they don’t.”
He says it so casually and confidently, and it’s so completely unlike the Harry Louis had originally met. He finds himself even more thankful that he and Zayn stayed. If they’d left, they’d probably have just smoked and watched Bob’s Burgers. Louis would never have gotten to know the uninhibited Harry, who he’s finding he likes more and more as the minutes pass.
“They’re jealous that you have a hot date,” Louis corrects him as he hops up on the counter beside the stove. He leans his head against the side of the fridge and a magnetic alphabet A digs into his forehead.
Harry smiles and sweeps the hair from his eyes, heels loud on the linoleum. “A very hot date. A nice date, too. I scored.”
“Not yet, you haven’t,” Louis teases, watching Harry pull the cheese and tortillas from the fridge.
“Oh my God,” Harry laughs. He flicks Louis’ knee, then turns the stove on and throws a tortilla into the pan. “So how are you liking the game? Have you learned anything?”
Louis nudges at Harry’s side with his foot. “I understand nothing. It’s like they’re speaking Italian. But I don’t know a word of Italian. I like the game better when I’m not the one being asked about snake-named theorems.”
“It’s the Pythagorean theorem. It’s named after Pythagoras, not a snake,” Harry says as he sprinkles in the cheddar cheese.
“Why are you making quesadillas instead of studying?” Louis asks just as a huge cheer erupts from the living room, followed up by arguing. “Sophia actually threatened me because she thought I’d try to keep you from it.”
Harry folds the tortilla in half. “I don’t really need to study. Math is my strong subject. It’s like, the other things that I suck at. I got a B+ in my women’s studies class last semester. But I think that was also because the teacher thought I was in it to get with the girls.”
Louis laughs. “Were you?”
“No!” Harry looks horrified. “I just thought it seemed interesting. And I wanted to be able to see things from a different point of view, you know? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but men can be very narrow minded.”
“Okay,” Louis agrees as Harry flips the tortilla to cook the other side. “You didn’t want to stay and watch everyone else compete though?”
Harry shrugs. “Nick was trying to pick on you. And Sophia was holding you hostage beside her, when I wanted to spend time with you. Not Liam. Also, my quesadillas actually are legendary.”
“Could I try one?” Louis asks.
“I’d be offended if you didn’t,” Harry says, pulling a plate from the cabinet. “In fact, you can have the first one.”
Harry wasn’t lying. Louis is halfway through his third quesadilla and on his way to asking for a fourth when Niall and Zayn come bursting in through the door, greasy McDonalds bags in hand.
“Booooo!” Harry puts his hands on his hips, the image of a disappointed parent. “Why would you get fries when you knew I’d be making my quesadillas?”
“You say that like you think I’d have no room,” Niall throws a hand over his heart like he’s insulted. “Besides, Zayn and I are leaving, anyway. Going back to his to have some fun.”
“What?” Louis asks. He turns in shock and his quesadilla leaks cheese grease onto his jeans.
“Not like that,” Zayn turns to Niall and giggles, rolling his eyes.
Louis pretends to be offended and throws the remains of his quesadilla at Zayn.
“Too ace for that,” Zayn says, grin spreading across his face. And he says it so loudly and with so much confidence that Louis’ breath catches; it’s possible he’s never seen Zayn so relaxed and unguarded, much less while talking about an ace thing with someone other than Louis or Eleanor in the room.
“Hey! No throwing quesadillas in my kitchen,” Harry breaks Louis’ speechlessness.
“Sorry,” he apologizes, eyes still glued to Zayn. “You’re good? And you’ll be awake when I get back?”
“No promises I’ll be awake,” Niall cuts in. “Weed puts me out like Nyquil.”
“We’ll be fine,” Zayn tells him as he steps into Louis’ space and hugs him. He pulls away and gives Louis a significant look—one that clearly states everything is more than fine and he’ll explain everything later.
“See you guys back at the apartment,” Niall calls out, flipping a peace sign over his shoulder as he and Zayn exit.
“They grow up so fast,” Louis whispers as the door swings shut. And as silence washes over the room, he feels oddly like crying. It’s new to him that someone can now understand Zayn on a more fundamental level than him. And even though he knows it’s a good change, he can’t help the small stab of jealousy. The feeling that he might be replaced as Zayn’s best friend.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Harry drops the final quesadilla onto a plate as his eyes widen. “Wait—I’ll be right back.”
He hurries out the door into the living room and returns seconds later, sans quesadillas.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asks. He steps between Louis’ open legs and rests his hands on his thighs. “Are you going to cry?”
“No,” Louis denies, voice watery. “I’m just… this is so dumb, but I’m afraid Zayn will like Niall more than me. It’s really weird. I can’t tell if I like it.”
“No,” Harry comforts him. “Zayn’s known you for a lot longer than he’s known Niall. They’re just, like, in the friendship honeymoon period, you know? But soon Zayn will realize Niall’s even nerdier than me. And they’ll still be friends, yeah, and they’ll have that special bond, but what Zayn has with you is irreplaceable. He’s your best friend, and you both mean a lot to the other. I can see that and I’ve only known you for a few hours!”
Louis sniffles. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Harry nods. “Honestly, he scared me almost more than you! Because I could tell if he didn’t approve of me, then you’d dump me in a second.”
Louis takes in a deep, steadying breath before he gives Harry a small smile. “Actually, that’s not true. Zayn wanted to leave before we met Niall, but I told him I wanted to stay.”
“Because of me?” Harry looks like he’s in disbelief.
Louis nods and brings his hands to Harry’s shoulders. He doesn’t want to be sad anymore. He realizes logically that Zayn needs a support system other than just him, so he sets his pride aside and comforts himself with the thought that they’ll talk all about it soon.
Zayn loves him. Zayn wouldn’t leave him behind.
“I’m really glad you stayed,” Harry says. He bites at his lip and glances down at Louis’, eyes unsure. And Louis squeezes at Harry’s shoulder, hit by sudden need.
Harry looks beautiful, even in the harsh kitchen lights. Louis likes that he makes his whole frat quesadillas and helps out his little with his calculus homework and how he hugs his opponents after winning. He likes that Harry gets rambly when he’s tipsy and nervous and he likes that he was unafraid to use the word obscure and lay his heart out on a public Tinder profile. He likes that Harry seems to know just what to say to him when he’s sad and unfairly jealous and that he didn’t judge him for it.
He likes that Harry looks like he’s debating on whether or not to lean in and kiss him. He likes that a lot.
Louis inches forward first. He slides his hands behind Harry’s neck and digs his thumbs into the juncture between Harry’s neck and shoulders, then locks his ankles behind his back and breathes in deep just as Harry brings his arms around Louis’ waist. Harry lets out a cute giggle just before their lips touch— a breathless, incredulous giggle that sends Louis’ heart flying through the roof of his mouth. And then they’re kissing and it’s Harry’s bottom lip slotted between his, Harry’s curls tickling his cheek and his neck, and Harry’s hands gripping his hips like he’s never letting go.
Harry kisses like someone who’s not quite confident but grateful for the opportunity to prove himself. The press of his lips isn’t gentle, but there’s a certain hesitance and second-guessing that makes Louis want to pull him closer, so he does. He tightens his thighs around Harry’s waist and moves his hands into Harry’s his hair, fingers looping through the ringlets as he opens his mouth to deepen the kiss, quesadilla breath be damned.
But before Louis can slip him any tongue, Harry quietly breaks the kiss and leans his forehead against Louis’. Louis opens his eyes and finds that Harry’s staring back at him, lip between his teeth, ears red.
“I’ve wanted to do that all night,” he laughs.
“Me too,” Louis agrees as he digs the heel of his shoe into Harry’s back.
But just as they lean in for another, the door swings open, revealing Liam clinging to the door frame as he struggles to stay upright. “Harry! S’ your turn to win. We need you to win.”
Harry rushes over to Liam, hand gripping his shoulder to keep him standing. He turns to share a confused smile with Louis before asking, “How much have you had to drink?”
Liam’s eyes widen. “They’re killing us! You deserted your brothers in their time of need! This is your fault!”
Louis hops down from the counter and joins Harry in holding Liam up. “Why don’t we all get back in there? Harry can show off and save everyone from an even worse hangover in the morning.”
A few of the fraternity members clap when the three of them make it back to the white boards. Louis squeezes in beside Sophia like before, noting that she seems perfectly composed.
“What’ve I missed?” Louis asks her as Harry uncaps his pen.
“What haven’t you missed?” she laughs. Jade is back at the board against Harry, eyes focused like a cat as Nick reads off the question. “Jonny’s thrown up. Twice. Jade’s our MVP and she’s slaughtering. I gave Josh half of my quesadilla and it’s the worst decision I’ve ever made because now there are none left. Liam’s drunk as hell and I’m not looking forward to taking care of him.”
They both turn to watch him as he plays with a grumpy Arky’s ears, flopping them out like Dumbo. “I think I’m taking him home after this one. He can’t take any more.”
“Yeah, I think I’m heading out after this, too,” Louis agrees, still anxious to see Zayn. He busies himself with tugging at the frayed edges of the loveseat as Jade and Harry race to finish.
“Done!” Jade screams, punctuating her statement with a violent dot to the whiteboard. Louis watches as Nick reads her answer, then chugs the rest of his beer while flipping her off.
Sophia jumps up to stop Liam from opening another beer as the rest of her friends all rush to Jade’s side in congratulations. All the while, Harry stands with a sad frown, his marker still pressed to the board even though his eyes are on the huddle of happiness beside him.
Louis stands and walks over to him, pulling the pen from his hand. “Let’s go back to mine? We can see what Niall and Zayn are up to.”
“I let everyone down. We lost,” Harry mopes.
“They were losing long before you were brought in to save them,” Louis rubs at Harry’s shoulder blades. “Did you want to come back to mine?”
Harry blinks out of his sorrow and nods his assent. “Yeah, of course. Let me just say goodbye to everyone.”
They shuffle over to Sophia, Harry whispering into her ear as he gives her a goodbye hug. As Louis hugs her goodbye after, Harry tries to give Liam a bro handshake, but he’s too drunk to notice.
“I’ll see you both soon, yeah?” she asks.
They pass by the celebratory huddle and wave their goodbyes, not keen on getting sucked up in their celebration. Harry gives a few dejected bro handshakes to his brothers, and then they’re passing by the periodic table and are out the door.
It’s chillier out than Louis remembers so he burrows himself into Harry’s side. “What did you say to Sophia?”
“Nothing important,” Harry wraps an arm around his shoulder. “Just that they can sleep in my room since I’ll be with you tonight. Liam’s apartment is so far.”
Louis’ knees almost buckle under the implication. A sleepover! Harry is sleeping over. And Harry is just grinning like he’s aware he’s confirmed all of Louis’ dreams for the night.
“So where do you live?”
Louis turns to lean against his front door. “Before I let you in, I just want to apologize for any mess.”
“I’m actually really good at organizing things,” Harry tells him as he unlocks the door. “I can help you out, if you need help.”
“What the hell, Harry. I don’t want your help organizing tonight,” Louis lets out an uncertain laugh.
Inside, Zayn and Niall are spread out parallel along the sofa, the sweet smell of smoke heavy in the air.
“Hey,” Zayn pauses the movie and sits up. “How’d it go?”
Harry looks down to the ground. “I lost to Jade. Our team lost.”
Niall boos. “I wasn’t there to save the game. I bet that’s why.”
Louis toes off his shoes by the door, gesturing for Harry to feel free to do the same. He creeps closer, not entirely sure he’s invited to sit and talk.
“How was it… here?” Louis asks, hand beside Niall’s head on the side of the couch.
Zayn grins at him, eyes red and droopy. “We had a good time.”
Louis knows he’s welcome, but he feels a bit like he’s intruding on a private moment.
Harry slides in next to Louis and spreads his fingers low on Louis’ back, seeming to be on the same page. “Nice. Love the apartment, Louis. Which room is yours?”
Niall throws his head back and laughs. “You’re not subtle, Styles.”
Louis leans against Harry, cheek squished into his shoulder. He’s not sure whether he finds Harry’s straight forwardness hot or—no, no, he finds it very hot. “It’s the one at the end of the hall. I’ll show you.”
After a quick goodbye and a call of goodnight over his shoulder, Louis leads Harry into his room at the end of the hall. It’s not as messy as it usually is since he’d used some of his Not Studying Time tidying, for which Louis is thankful.
“So, um, this is my room,” Louis grins and mentally says fuck it, he's wanted this all night, then takes off his shirt. He throws it to the floor and immediately takes off his jeans as Harry throws himself down to sit on the edge of the bed.
Harry leans back on his elbows and looks up at him. “It’s a nice room.”
“I’m standing here practically naked and all you have to say for yourself is that?” Louis asks.
Harry laughs and shrugs off his plaid shirt, then slowly strips off the white shirt underneath, teasing Louis. “It is nice. Love the aesthetic. Very art-deco-esque.”
“Oh my God. Take off your pants,” Louis tells him as he climbs into his lap. Which he realizes very much makes it difficult for Harry to do, so he sinks to his knees on the floor and does it himself.
“These are tight,” Louis complains as he pulls down his jeans and underwear all in one tug, Harry lifting his hips for him as he goes along. And then Louis has a very nice, very rapidly hardening cock in front of his face.
He reaches out to grab at the base of it, licking at his bottom lip as Harry stares down at him. It’s such a nice cock. He feels so #blessed. “This is nice, too. Very boxer brief model-esque.”
“I have been told that before,” Harry jokes, but it sends Louis into a senseless bout of jealousy. He narrows his eyes and takes in all of Harry’s length in one go, aiming to impress and make Harry forget all about whoever has told him that before.
Harry gasps as he hits the back of Louis’ throat, his laugh stopping short. “Oh God. Louis, it’s been three months. You can’t just—do that if you want me to last.”
Louis pops off, trying not to cough because of his gross overestimation of his cock sucking skills. Embarrassing enough, his eyes are watering at the sting of it.
Harry misreads the tears as sadness. “Oh no! I swear that was a very original compliment. I’ve never gotten it before.”
Louis tries to explain as Harry pulls him up onto the bed to join him, but he realizes he’d prefer that explanation to the true one.
Harry rolls on top of him, hard cock pressed into Louis’ hip as he slides a leg between his. He kisses Louis like it’s an apology, soft and unhurried while he sneaks a hand between their bodies, palm rubbing at Louis’ erection through his boxers.
Louis breaks the kiss and thrusts up, eyes rolling into the back of his head as Harry moves his lips to his jaw. He pulls the waistband of Louis’ boxers down, freeing his cock and taking it into his hand.
He strokes slowly, thumb rubbing just below the head. “You look so good like this.”
Louis moves to grip at Harry’s arm, feeling the muscle move as Harry strokes him. He can feel how his body is shaking with the effort of holding himself up on the one arm, sweat building along his hairline.
Louis moves his palm to Harry’s chest and pushes, urging him backwards. Harry kneels, eyes questioning as Louis pulls his boxers down over his thighs. He signals to Harry to take over once they’re by his ankles.
Louis twists to open his nightstand drawer as Harry throws them to the floor. He pulls out the bottle of lube and thanks the past him for buying condoms in hopeful preparation.
Once they’re both safely by his side, Louis bites his lip and spreads his legs.
Harry’s eyes widen at the movement and his fingers move to grip his cock almost unconsciously. “You want me to do it?”
“Please,” Louis breathes out, arousal shooting through him at the thought of Harry’s fingers inside him—the same fingers that were cleverly scribbling across the whiteboard only an hour ago.
Harry nods and grabs the lube, coating his fingers as he repositions himself between Louis’ spread thighs. “Tell me if my fingers are too cold. Or too rough. Or if my aim completely sucks.”
Louis laughs as Harry’s first finger slips in to the first knuckle. There’s no pain. “Fine so far.”
Harry looks down to where they’re connected, mouth half open as he works his finger in further. He’s slow with it, gentle like he’s terrified he’ll hurt him. Louis finds it thoughtful but also infuriating.
“Another,” he urges Harry, pushing down on his finger. Harry licks his lip as he squeezes a second finger in, eyes widening as Louis arches his back.
“Is that okay?” Harry asks in a panic, arm jerking. Louis grabs at Harry’s wrist to prevent him from pulling his fingers out.
“Don’t stop,” Louis tells him. Harry breathes and nods, fingers spreading to scissor Louis open further. Once the sting is gone, Louis urges him to add another, squinting at the stretch.
Harry rubs up and down his thigh to calm him, murmuring unnecessary apologies as Louis adjusts around him. His fingers are tentative, slowly switching the angle. Harry bites at his lower lip, the birds on his chest rising as he breathes in deep.
And when Louis gasps, his leg jerking against Harry’s side, he doubles his efforts. His fingers brush up against the same spot, over and over again as Harry’s pace quickens. It has Louis’ cock leaking and his toes curling in seconds. He grabs the sheets between his fingers and throws his head back in ecstasy, but realizes quickly that he’ll come if Harry keeps it up.
“Stop,” he weakly protests, surprised and also a bit disappointed that Harry immediately pulls his fingers from inside him.
“Yes!” Louis shouts, forgetting that they’re not the only ones in the apartment.
Harry rolls the condom on, and then slicks himself up with lube so quickly his hand looks like a blur. Louis is grateful, breath uneven as Harry lines himself up.
He leans forward and kisses Louis as he pushes in, his mouth capturing the sound Louis makes when he feels Harry’s full size pushing inside him. Louis feels a little bit split open, but he’s calmed by Harry’s hand in his hair and Harry’s lips brushing up against his as they shake.
Harry’s slow in his thrusts, inching forward only minuscule amounts so Louis is moaning into his mouth rather than gasping. By the time he’s bottomed out, Louis can’t feel the sting at all, only the burning desire and the complete fullness inside of him.
Harry stills and pulls back, breaking the kiss. They’re still close enough that their noses are touching and Louis’s going cross eyes to keep him in focus, but it helps reground him.
“You good?” Harry asks. Louis nods and brushes a piece of hair from Harry’s forehead, smiling when he thrusts forward. Just from the small movement, Louis feels sparks shoot up his spine.
“Feels good,” Louis breathes, fingers digging into Harry’s arm. “You can go harder.”
Harry takes his request to heart and builds up a steady rhythm that makes Louis’ thighs tense up. Harry’s so sweaty, a combination of the heat and the exertion making his chest glisten and his hair stick to his forehead. Louis isn’t much better—he can feel that he’s soaking his sheets and he can feel the slick rub of Harry’s bare skin against his inner thighs.
“Am I—doing okay?” Harry pants out, sweaty nose knocking against Louis’. He looks so concerned, face serious and attentive behind the arousal, that it makes Louis feel cared for and valued. And even though it feels nice (Louis could definitely come from this), Harry’s concern gives him the confidence to speak up and make it even better.
“Yeah,” Louis reassures him, moving his fingers down, rubbing up against Harry’s nipple. “But maybe, like, a change in angle. It’s good but it’s not—it’s not there, you know?”
Harry nods, eyes wide like he actually feels terrible. “Sorry.”
“No, no it’s good,” Louis pulls him down for a quick, breathless kiss.
Once it breaks, Harry sits up and grabs the backs of Louis’ thighs, then folds him in half. He thrusts forward hard, deeper than before, and Louis swears he drives the breath from his lungs. It’s so much at once, an overwhelming of senses, and Harry seems to sense it because he grabs Louis’ hand and laces their fingers together on top of the sheets. Harry’s other hand grips at his thigh as he experiments with the angle.
And when he finds what he’s looking for, Louis screams. He doesn’t mean to, but at the first contact it feels like Louis’ body is on fire, warm and tingly all over. He’s harder than he’s been in months, and he’s so overwhelmed by the sensation he’s afraid his eyes are filling up with tears.
It’s not just the angle and Harry’s huge cock, but it’s about the whole night. It’s about how easily he and Harry clicked after the initial awkwardness, how determined Harry looks thrusting into him, like he needs to prove himself. It’s about how happy Louis is that Harry came back to his with no hesitation, how hot Harry was when he was doing unimaginable math, and how Liam came to him when their team was losing, like he was their last hope.
He moans at the thought. Fuck. Harry’s nerdiness turns him on. He doesn’t doubt that him talking numbers could make Louis come.
Oh no. Now he really wants Harry to number talk him through his orgasm. That’s probably weird, though. Is it possible to fetishize someone’s nerdiness? Louis feels kind of terrible, but the cock wants what it wants.
“Harry, do you know the quadratic formula?” Louis asks, moving his free hand to pull himself off.
Harry’s thrusts slow, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion as his mouth opens. “What? Why? You want to know now?”
Louis nods and licks his lips. “Yes! What is it?”
“It’s—it’s, uh, negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four ac divided by two a,” Harry tells him. Louis cries out at the combination of a well paced thrust and the way Harry just knew.
He’s too loud. Zayn will probably complain in the morning about being too ace for Louis’ sex noises, but he’s past the point of caring.
“God, again,” Louis pleads, past the point of shame as well.
Louis has a math kink. Sue him.
Harry catches on quickly, eyes widening in sudden clarity. He smirks and leans in close, mouth to Louis’ ear as he begins to whisper. Louis’ head instinctively turns, overwhelmed by his breath and the low pitch of his voice, but Harry just chases his ear. “Negative b plus or minus—”
Louis blacks out as he comes, numbers behind his eyes. Harry collapses on top of him only seconds later, groaning into his ear as he shakes and comes too.
Neither moves for a few moments, heart beats pounding together and the sweat from their hair commingling. Their hands are still joined at their sides, but Louis’ legs have fallen open, allowing Harry to pull away.
Louis trembles in oversensitivity when Harry finally gathers up the strength to pull out. He wipes the come from his stomach with a stray sock and pulls down the covers so they can get into bed while Harry ties and disposes of the condom.
And once Harry lies back down beside him, he curls in close, resting his head on Louis’ shoulder. Louis can feel his smile against his skin and finds that he doesn’t even mind how sweaty he’s going to be pressed up next to Harry all night.
“I’ve never made someone come by saying the quadratic formula,” Harry finally laughs.
Louis pinches Harry’s nipple, almost embarrassed. “You’re not allowed to make fun of me for something I said while horny and vulnerable.”
Harry kisses his collarbone and closes his eyes serenely. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to make fun of you. It was kind of, like, cool. That you think it’s hot. Because most people think of me being good at math as a turn off. But you thought it was a turn on.”
Louis kisses Harry’s sweaty temple, completely content. Ending up here in bed with Harry, satiated with a strong orgasm and an actual connection, surpassed his highest hopes for the night.
“Thanks for swiping right,” Louis finally says.
Harry grins and lifts his head. “Thanks for not swiping left when you saw my bio with the word obscure. I knew it was a little too pretentious.”
Harry gives him a quick goodnight kiss, more domestic than they have any right to be, and then flips onto his side, pressing his back to Louis’ chest.
“Goodnight, Louis. And I’m just warning you, I’m really difficult to wake up in the morning,” Harry yawns and tangles their legs together.
“Challenge accepted,” Louis smiles and wraps an arm around his waist, rubbing his thumb against Harry’s stomach and not bothering with the covers. It’s too hot.
Harry is out almost immediately, snoring into Louis’ pillows and his body going limp. Louis is content to just lie there, arm wrapped around Harry’s waist and breathing in the scent of his hair, but he finds that he feels a bit restless, like there’s something keeping him awake.
He presses a quick kiss to the back of Harry’s head and sneaks out the door after pulling on a pair of boxers and grabbing his phone from his jeans crinkling on the floor.
He creeps out into the living room, smiling when he sees Niall sprawled out with a purple blanket thrown over him. Knowing Niall is fine, Louis begins to make his way back down the hallway, texting Eleanor as he goes.
Had a really really really good night :) hope yours was ok too
He stops in front of Zayn’s door.
“Zayn?” he whispers.
There’s no answer. He waits a few moments, smiling when El texts back.
would you say it wasn’t a natural disaster?? Hahaha louis honestly im going to fail can you come quiz me tomorrow i cant concentrate on my own :(
of course :)
“Zayn?” Louis asks again once he presses send.
There’s no answer, so he lets himself in anyway, as any good roommate would.
“Zayn?” he says a bit louder. He steps over the laundry and makes it to Zayn’s bed, where he’s sleeping peacefully. It makes Louis feel a little bit guilty for waking him up, but he has questions and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to sleep until he hears the words from Zayn’s own mouth.
Zayn startles awake, eyes flying open and gasping. “What? Louis? What?”
Louis smiles and tucks the blanket higher up to his chin. “I was just wondering how today was for real. Just between you and me. Best friend to best friend talk, you know?
Zayn glares at him and sinks his head back to the pillow. “Go away.”
“Please? I’m dying here. I’ve been dying. Waiting.”
“It was good,” Zayn mumbles.
“Good? Just good? I just get a good?” Louis asks.
Zayn groans. “I don’t know what you want from me. Do you want a cheesy Disney movie answer? That it was life changing and I finally realized I’m actually not the only one that feels the way I do? That it was reaffirming and that when Niall told me stories from high school I started tearing up because they were relatable in a way I’ve never had someone to relate to?”
“Only if that’s the truth—”
“Or that his willingness to talk to all of us about it made me feel more comfortable talking to him about it too? Or that eventually I think maybe I’ll be able to be more open about it, too? Or that I knew we were on the exact same page because Niall said he’s never felt as excited as he did when I understood without him having to explain himself for once? That I think it was destiny or some shit like that for us to meet and find each other?”
Zayn rubs at his eye.
“Because you’re definitely not getting that. It was fine. Niall’s cool.”
“Zayn,” Louis sniffles. “That was beautiful.”
“That was me trying to get you to leave,” Zayn says, but Louis can see through the darkness that he’s smiling into the pillow.
“No, that was you being honest,” Louis smiles, the weight of it all tumbling down on him. “I’ve never really been able to give you that, as much as I wish I could have. I’m glad you’ve found someone to relate to.”
“No need to be dramatic,” Zayn whispers.
“But you’re not—” Louis’ hesitance must show because Zayn actually lifts his head to listen. “You’re not replacing me with Niall, right? I’m still going to be your best friend?”
“Louis, of course,” Zayn reassures him, turning over to make eye contact. “Bros for life. Always.”
Louis feels like a weight is off his chest. “Good. Because I love you more than almost anyone. And since now I know my spot is safe, I’m even more glad you met Niall tonight.”
“I am too, jealous fucker,” Zayn agrees as he opens his arms and blanket for a hug. It smells like Zayn and it’s cozy and Louis could probably fall asleep cuddled up with his best friend, but he still has a naked Harry in his bed to attend to.
He wishes Zayn goodnight and closes the door softly, not trying to wake anyone up. He’s just as careful with his door and takes a few moments to just stare at Harry huddled beneath Louis’ own blankets. It makes Louis smile to think that he pulled them up and over himself to make up for Louis’ heat while he was gone.
And it’s probably creepy, but Louis is just so pleased with everything, for everyone, that he can’t help the silly smile that washes over him.
He climbs back in behind Harry, wrapping his arm around his waist as he whispers “see you in the morning” into his neck.