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it's baseball season

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Liam’s got these two awful best friends named Niall and Harry and they’re always fucking him around and it’s baseball season and Liam cannot afford to participate in any of the oftentimes illegal activities that the mischievous Narry seem to get themselves into. The school does random testing for drugs and other substances that could be considered a distraction from scholarly responsibilities, which, yes, Niall that means I can’t get drunk and watch the match with you, Liam seems to always have to remind him. But, naturally, since they’re seniors (except for Harry, unfortunately, who’s a level behind) and it’s their last year and last high school semester forever, Liam is dragged to every single party that gets thrown. Liam swears Niall and Harry are the friends that his parents keep warning him to stay away from.

It is all very cliché, yes, but Liam and Louis meet at one of these infamous parties. Well, not necessarily “meet” because they’ve been classmates since freshman year. They suffered through a dreadful parent and child development class that they’d both been thrown in during sophomore year, and Louis even gave Liam a ride home from school once during junior year because Niall had ditched school to play a new video game all day and Harry stayed after with his trendy yearbook friends and Liam’s birthday hadn’t come yet so his car was nonexistent and riding the bus was just not an option for him. So they were only considered acquaintances because Louis was kind of weird in a Louis kind of way that almost frightened Liam, and it’s not like they ever hung out outside of school or anything, not that Louis would even want to because Louis was Louis Tomlinson whose best friend was Zayn Malik, the brooding, cigarette smoking, Bruno Mars-haired, annoyingly charming kid that showed up out of nowhere from Extraordinary-Ville during their junior year with designer clothes and accessories. Liam and his friends, (except for maybe Harry because Harry is Harry and his popularity skyrocketed during his sophomore year when he grew out of his awkward phase of dressing like a librarian and started leaving the top button of his shirts undone), paled in comparison.

So, okay, it’s kind of a surprise when Louis approaches Liam at the party—considering they hadn’t really paid any attention to one other in at least a year, if nodding awkwardly as they pass each other in the hallway counts, but Liam does that to everyone he’s at least said “excuse me”, “bless you” or “is this your pencil?” to because it’s polite.

Yeah, so Liam’s leaning against the couch where Niall is sitting, nursing his first cup of beer (and only because it’s baseball season). Harry’s off somewhere probably having successful interactions with both willing males and females. He’s been standing there for the length of time it takes for Niall to chat up some girl a grade below, to see her blush when he whispers something in her ear. Liam rolls his eyes because no one really knows how much game Niall really has and it’s almost amusing when people of all ages fall for his sweet act, when really he’s smoother than Harry because he keeps it on the down low, whereas Harry flaunts it, almost abuses it.

Liam is just turning his head when someone says something that sounds like similar  to his name, but with an awkward uncertainty to it, and Liam isn’t necessarily surprised it’s Louis, just a little curious as to why it’s Louis. And why now. Honestly, his senior year was perfectly fine before Louis Tomlinson decided to go and try to initiate an actual conversation with him.

Liam stares at Louis and says, “What?” because he still wasn’t sure if Louis had even said his name in the first place, so he makes his face look disinterested in the off chance that he may have to play the entire exchange off.

But then Louis actually smiles and Liam responds with a frown because—what? And then all of a sudden Louis is taking the drink out of Liam’s hold, setting it on the nearest flat surface, and grabbing Liam’s hand with a, “C’mon, we need a fourth.”

Liam doesn’t have time to tell Niall where he’s going (like he’d even care)  before Louis drags him through the rapidly thinning crowd of people in the living room and into the kitchen where a very small handful of his classmates are sat around a round table, with an impressive cloud of smoke circling their heads. Liam almost chokes on the fumes, using his free hand to cover his mouth as he coughs because that’s respectful. “Jesus,” he slips, “Christ.”

“Come, sit.” Louis tells him, replacing his grip on Liam’s hand with a reassuring palm on his back as he guides Liam to an open seat. He announces to the table, “I’ve found a fourth!”

“Liam!” It’s a voice Liam doesn’t recognize, followed by unnecessary howls, and it immediately makes him panic because he thinks he’s done something wrong, and he’s all revved up to apologize profusely when a waving hand catches his eye. He thinks this is all a dream when he realizes it’s Zayn, who is grinning to the best of his ability with a cigarette hanging loosely out of the corner of his mouth.

Liam blinks and Louis says, “All right, then.” And grins and Liam expects something stereotypical like Strip Poker (or something that requires the shedding of clothing) , but once the initial shock of his freedom being hijacked fades, he realizes he’s being expected to participate in an actual board game. At a high school party.

“It’s not just any old board game, my friend,” Louis says, and his hand is on Liam again, squeezing his shoulder. Liam had spoken aloud. “—it’s ‘I’ve Never…’ which is a hundred times better than a board game. Tell him, Zayn.”

“Well, there are only two basic rules. One: you must tell the truth. It’s no fun when you lie. And two: you have to drink.” Zayn’s words are mumbled as he inhales on the cigarette in his mouth, before stubbing it out on a convenient astray set on the table. “No exceptions.”

Liam looks around the table, taking in his surroundings now that his mind is properly cleared. His eye caught Josh’s, who was in Harry’s grade and on the baseball team and never worried about getting caught during drug testing. There are two girls lingering around the table, sitting close together, but Liam doesn’t recognize them and they look nice enough so he doesn’t worry too much about them reporting him to his coach for participating in a drinking game.

“Liam? Mate, you all right?” It’s Louis again and he sounds concerned, but this time, thankfully, he’s not touching Liam, so Liam easily says, “Yeah, m’fine. Let’s play, yeah?”

And honestly, Liam doesn’t know what he expected, really. He ends up being the only one who truly “had never” and is extremely sober by the time the game starts getting pretty heavy. Zayn is getting handsy with everyone, Josh is slurring through every sentence, and Louis is ten inches closer to Liam than he was when the game started, laughing at everything Liam says even though it’s never funny. Liam is near the end of the game board, gunning up for the home stretch when Harry strolls in, searching for a bottle of water, and joins in, despite Liam’s reluctance because a few more turns and he would’ve been able to escape before Zayn decided to initiate an orgy. Thankfully, though, his presence turns out to be a blessing when Louis’ attention is obtained by Harry, whose radiating energy absorbed the focus of the entire room. Drunk or not, Harry is being extremely, unnecessarily flirty and actually kisses Zayn once or twice, and accidentally grazes Louis’ crotch and Liam doesn’t understand why he felt overwhelmingly warm all of a sudden.

But the game ends and Liam is victorious and Zayn tells him, “No one’s ever actually won.” And Harry says, “You need to loosen up more.” And Louis says, “I can help if you want.” And it’s so quiet that Liam almost doesn’t hear it, but Harry obviously does because he’s in Louis’ lap and he’s laughing and then prompting Zayn and Josh to join in with juvenile catcalls. Then, Zayn is announcing to everyone he’s fucking tired and wants them out of his house soon because it’s almost four a.m. and he has to get some fucking sleep or he may end up murdering someone. Liam’s mind is muddled because he didn’t even know he was in Zayn’s house, but he doesn’t have time to dwell on the fact when Josh is yawns loudly and begins to trail behind the silent, easily compliant girls and Harry starts up complaining about having to walk home and a missing Irishman.

Zayn responds by sighing and telling him he’ll help him find the Irish if Harry helps him kick people out and within seconds, Harry is eagerly jumping off of Louis’ lap and onto Zayn’s leather jacket clad back and commanding him to charge with his newly deepened voice and then it’s just Louis and Liam sitting awkwardly at the table, the only sound exchanged between the two of them being Louis’ fading laughter as he watches Harry and Zayn depart from the kitchen.

Liam is still (and will continue to be, from now on) dwelling on the fact that Louis had offered to help loosen him up when Louis noisily, pointedly scoots his chair closer to Liam and grabs his wrist. Liam flinches, but relaxes when Louis only runs his finger across the bracelet that hugged his wrists. “Was’ this?” It takes Liam a moment to move, before he takes his hand back and fingers at the bracelet himself. Louis is extremely, unnervingly intoxicated.

“It’s a bracelet.” Liam says.

“No shit, Sherlock. I meant—“ Louis pauses, frowns, “Harry has one, too.” Liam watches as Louis’ face contorts into an uncomfortable expression of contemplation, watches as he struggles for the words, “You—are the two of you, like—”

Liam reddens immediately, his mindless caress of his bracelet suddenly coming off as much, much more. “No!” He defends, but not meaning to sound so offended. “It’s just—we’re—best friends. Niall, Niall has one, too. It was Harry’s idea, actually. But, I mean, I’m not saying it’d be so horrible for us to—we’re just—not.”

Louis raises an eyebrow and licks his lips as he nods his head, understanding. Then his frown returns, his thumbnail migrating to slips between his lips as if he were trapped in an inner battle. “Can I have one?”

Liam doesn’t expect the question, so it’s natural for him to look taken aback. Like, who just asks that, really? “What?” There has to be some world record for subconsciously repeating the same word a million times in one night.

“A bracelet.” Louis replies, “Like yours, Niall’s, and Harry’s.” He reiterates like the conversation had occurred months ago. “Except maybe a different one. For me and you.”

Liam adjusts the baseball cap on top of his head, the hat becoming suddenly too tight, too hot. “You want to have a friendship bracelet? With me?”

The question is a little redundant and Louis’ annoyance is clear on his face, in his tone. “Yes, Liam. I want to have a friendship bracelet with you.”

“Isn’t that weird?” Liam says, honestly, “…considering we’ve only just spoken today since last year and I don’t even know what your favorite color is, or if you have a dog, or what your mum’s name is, or if you have two sisters or three brothers, or if your favorite song is “Who Let The Dogs Out” or who your first crush was, or if you think Christian Bale was hotter in American Psycho or Batman or if you like to watch anime porn or—”

“Liam!” Louis says, and he’s smiling ridiculously wide as he leans over to take Liam’s hands as if that will halt his speech. (It does, unsurprisingly, for Liam). “Calm down!”

Liam could feel his own pulse beating violently in his wrist, wondering if Louis could feel it through the pads of the fingers that pressed into his rapidly heating skin. He hadn’t meant to get so worked up. “Why?” Liam asks, knowing that that was all he had to.

Louis shrugged his shoulder, and with one passing gesture (a soft swipe of his thumb over Liam’s upturned wrist) he sat back in his chair, giving Liam personal space. “Because I like you, Liam. And I want to be your friend. Why else would I want to share a bracelet with you?”

Liam is about to respond with something witty and it would have blown Louis out of the water, surely, but they’re interrupted by Zayn and Harry’s return, this time with a crestfallen Niall.

“’Vas happenin’, boys?” Zayn says, tiredly, walking to the fridge to retrieve a cold bottle of water to hand to Niall, who accepts it with a thankful expression, the remnants of an exchange from the other room.

Liam places his hand awkwardly in his lap, as if caught doing something he shouldn’t have been and, belatedly, he realizes that Harry had noticed and it’s all intense staring and raised eyebrows until Harry is comfortably seated on the edge of the table and smiling smugly, like he knows and understands an unspoken secret.

“Liam here has just informed me that he is much too intoxicated to drive, and I thought why not ask Zayn if we can kick it old school with a sleepover?” Louis says, answering a question from earlier, wiggling his eyebrows at his best friend.

Zayn’s eyes flick to Liam who is sitting eerily still in his chair, not denying anything even if it weren’t true, then to Niall whose teeth are gnawing into his lip as he stares down the refrigerator; to Harry who is biting the knuckle of his pointer finger (a disgustingly distracting habit) and looking back at Zayn, and then back to Louis. He sighs, then, for the hundredth time that night as a result of something Louis had done, and says, “Okay, but we’re not watching the fucking Notebook again, Louis.”

Louis makes a face, but obliges, jumping out of his seat with enough vigor that it’s almost impossible for Liam to believe he was the person he was just minutes ago, seeming to have sobered up entirely. “Irishman!” he says, pointing to Niall, knocking him out of his staring contest with the fridge, “Prepare us finger foods!” Niall nods his head, finally being able to crack open the fridge and Louis turns to the rest of the boys and holds something up in the air. Liam doesn’t know what it is, but Harry whoops and says, “Now you’re talkin;” and Zayn says, “Ahh no, Louis. Not tonight. Haven’t you had enough?” And then Liam realizes that Louis is holding a joint and Liam panics because of course Louis would and it’s baseball season.

“Don’t be a buzzkill, Zayn.” Louis teases with a smirk, “Besides, you don’t have to do anything. I’m not an asshole, I’m not forcing you.” He goes on to say, “It’s just here if you change your mind!”

“Christ,” Zayn mumbles, shaking his head, “I’m going to extra blankets. Just go downstairs and open the windows. My mum will have me butchered if the smell seeped into the walls.”

“I love you!” Louis calls after him as he leaves, stripping off his obvious party outfit on the way. When he’s gone, Harry goes to the kitchen counter to help Niall fix sandwiches and Louis gestures at the door for Liam to follow him. Liam gives Harry a desperately longing look, which is ignored in favor of poking fun at Niall, who just couldn’t wait to dig into any food the moment he saw something edible. So Liam is forced to follow Louis through the living room, which was significantly clean considering a teenage party was just held (but then again, it’s not always like those clichéd teenage parties shown in the films), and down a pair of darkened stairs that opened up to a vast living area that resembled the living room upstars. Liam finds himself collapsing on one of the couches with Louis sitting unnervingly close beside him.

“Liam Payne,” he says, like he hadn’t seen him in years, like the name hadn’t been spoken in the last two hours of his life.

“Louis Tomlinson,” Liam replies, because he doesn’t understand. Not anything that has happened tonight. Not why Louis decided to call his name out randomly and grab his hand and make him play a dumb game, and touch his shoulder and his back and then ask to have friendship bracelets. He just doesn’t understand.

“It’s baseball season,” Louis tells him, as he’s magically produced a lighter and is lighting the end of the joint carefully, as if the flame would somehow spill over and onto his skin. “So I understand if you don’t want to have fun with me.”

And that’s…

Louis wraps his lips around the end of the joint and Liam tries not to watch the curve of his lips, but fails and Louis watches Liam watch him and it’s weird and Liam has to clear his throat more than twice. But then Zayn is there, throwing pillows and blankets at them like bullets and he’s shirtless and only in his boxers and his hair is disheveled and Liam doesn’t know why his skin feels so tight.

And that’s basically how the rest of the night proceeds. Liam is suddenly hyper aware of every single little thing. He ends up taking one small hit from the joint that is passed around the five of them, but refuses the next time because:

“It’s baseball season,” four voices echo back at him, and he flushes because okay, fuck them.

But it seems that Harry partakes the most, making up for the lack of Liam, and halfway through E.T. (Niall’s choice because he hadn’t seen it in ages—ages!), Harry is fucking giggling and talking too much and too openly about everything and nothing at all and he and Zayn pick up where they left off from earlier and don’t even have the courtesy to leave the room before Zayn’s enthusiastic hands are slipping under Harry’s shirt and Harry’s fingers are trailing down Zayn’s stomach to the waist of his boxers.

“For fuck’s sake,” Louis says, sounding more intrigued than repulsed and Niall is too busy watching the movie and finishing Harry’s sandwich to notice anything, but Liam. Liam is focusing on not turning red and not looking at Louis and just not doing anything, really because there’s something in the room now, circling the air, that’s dangerously close to becoming borderline inappropriate for five teenage boys to dwell in. But then Louis is suddenly really, really, really close to Liam and Liam has to focus on keeping his breathing straight, has to pretend he’s really into E.T. and not hearing the sounds coming from the left of them, not mentally picturing the movements that accompany the sounds. Louis’ hand reaches out, then, to graze his fingertips over Liam’s arm and it’s casual, it’s comforting, and Liam gets immediate goosebumps and he tries to get Niall’s attention, but to no avail. Seriously Niall cannot be that oblivious when one of his best friends is currently close to getting off with Zayn fucking Malik and his other is receiving predatory eyes from Louis fucking Tomlinson or the little blonde bastard isn’t oblivious and is just trying to finally get Liam laid like he’s been promising since freshman year. But god, no. Not like this. Not with Harry making out with Zayn. Not with Niall sitting there. And not with Louis Tomlinson.

So Liam does the most rational thing he could think of and says, “I have to pee.” And he gets up so fast, almost tripping over Zayn and Harry’s entwined legs on his way to the restroom. Behind closed doors, he goes to sit on the toilet, closing the lid, and sighing. He’s irritated and a little disgusted when he has to adjust himself in his shorts.

 

When he finally comes out of the restroom (much, much later), Zayn and Harry are gone, Niall is asleep on the floor, wrapped up in blankets as if someone had tucked him in (Liam wouldn’t put it past any one of them) and Louis is watching the ending credits of E.T. intently. Liam hesitates before joining Louis on the couch, making sure there was a significantly reasonable amount of space between them. They watch the credits together in silence until the last logos on the screen roll up and the TV goes black. Louis grabs a remote and turns the television off, the only light source a small lamp far across the room. Liam takes his hat off and rubs his eyes, tired. He hadn’t stayed up this late since he was a mindless freshman who thought sleep was for the dead. He was tired as hell, but he knew he couldn’t just go to sleep without talking to Louis first, without explaining why he spent almost an entire hour in the dark in the bathroom staring at his hands. He means to explain, but what comes out instead is, “Where are Zayn and Harry?” And he knows the answer, it’s obvious. Louis had probably kicked them out when things started to get too hot and heavy and the two were upstairs in Zayn’s room sleeping by now.

Liam doesn’t really want to know what they got up to. But Louis answers him anyway, saying, “Probably fucking.” And it’s blunt and Liam doesn’t expect the words out of Louis’ mouth and then Liam is saying, “I’m sorry,” but he doesn’t owe Louis an apology. He didn’t do anything wrong.

“No,” Louis tells him, rejecting his attempts, “No, Liam, you’re not because you shouldn’t have to be. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed you. That was rude. I was just—I mean they were there and it looked so easy, and I just wanted to see if—I don’t know. I’m sorry, all right?”

Liam shakes his head because he doesn’t understand. He hates it. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does, Liam. Look—I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a while. I’ve wanted to kiss you ever since you asked me to take you home that one day. Do you remember that? We were juniors and we hadn’t spoken for a while and then all of a sudden you were there and I had to take you home. I’d wanted you, Liam, to talk to you. And then after that you never really bothered to speak to me again. Not in full sentences. And then tonight, you were here and I wasn’t really thinking and when Zayn told me to look for another player, I immediately found you and that’s actually fate, isn’t it? That’s what that feels like? It was like I wasn’t exactly looking specifically for you, but somehow I found you, even though I didn’t know you were even going to be here tonight, but I found you anyway. And that’s just—fate.” Louis says, “I like you. A lot. And so when I saw how easy it was for Zayn to finally be able to relieve his boner for Harry, I just felt like I had the opportunity to do the same with you. That it’d be that easy and you’d just let me, even if you didn’t feel the same way.”

Liam felt his heart beating twice as fast, his breathing becoming heavy throughout the entirety of Louis’ speech, his fucking speech that sounded well thought out and dwelled upon and Liam couldn’t help but laugh. A loud, startling laugh that made Louis jump and Niall snuffle in his sleep. Liam continues to laugh as Louis grows impatient, the lines in his forehead deepening with concern—possibly for Liam’s health.

“What’s so funny?” Louis asks, tersely, offended, irritated, upset, embarrassed.

“It’s just—” Liam sighs, “Louis.

Louis says, “Wha—” And then Liam is pressing his lips to Louis’, sighing against his mouth, not really kissing him, really, but sort of meeting his lips and nose head on, and it’s awkward, so Liam laughs again and backs away, shaking his head. “Louis.

And then Louis is saying, “Liam,” and sliding his fingers through Liam’s hair to grab a hold and pull him back in, relaxing into the kiss, maneuvering his lips against Liam’s in a way that he’d imagined a countless number of times in his fantasies.

Liam decides he owes it to Louis to deepen the kiss, and so he does, pressing Louis back into the couch and adding his tongue to the mixture, as well as his hands and before long they’re both recreating the scene from earlier with Zayn and Harry.

“God,” Louis says, he pulls away to look up at Liam, who is shamelessly above him, snug between Louis’ legs. Louis’ hand comes up to rest on Liam’s face and he smiles because how did he get so fucking lucky? “I feel like I should be saying thank you.”

Liam feels a chill run down his spine and he licks his lips, his tongue catching the tip of Louis’ finger, where Louis is stroking Liam’s bottom lip. He doesn’t reply; instead, he leans down and kisses Louis again, blindly linking their fingers together as he shifts in Louis’ lap intentionally, grinding against his groin. The minute strokes with his thumb on Louis’ hand speaks for him: You can thank me later.