“Where do you think you’re going?”
Louis froze with his legs in a split. One bare foot stood flat on the rough surface of the roof outside his bedroom window, his other foot still inside his bedroom and balancing on the windowsill. The metal of the fire escape was warm under his hands from its day in the sun. He craned his neck backwards.
“We’re going to move the party to the roof,” he said, batting his eyelashes. “The core group. That way we don’t mess up the basement. That’s what you asked for, right?”
“Don’t give me that innocent look,” his mother, Jay, said with her arms crossed over her chest. A small smile lit her blue eyes. “I’ve seen what you and your pack do to the basement for one night of Super Smash. You’ve been down there for hours already with half the town. At least take out the trash before you end up asleep on the roof. The basement will stink, otherwise.”
“But mum,” he whined, holding the word, “it’s a party in honour of me.”
“And I couldn’t be happier to have a sudden brainiac of a son who managed to survive his first year of uni, however--”
“Sudden? Survived? Excelled! Perfect marks. Or did you not hear?” He thumbed over his shoulder towards his cluttered desk and Jay's lips pursed forward. “I could print another copy of my transcript for you and put it on the fridge or the windshield of your car or the register at the diner or--”
She chuckled, “I’m well aware of your marks, thank you. However,” she patted his outer thigh, “even future doctors know how to take out the trash.” Her eyes crinkled, her fingers skittering over the sole of his hanging foot. “You’re so good at it.”
He squirmed and barked out a laugh, his foot spasming in the air.
“Alright, alright, I’ll take out the garbage! Jesus!”
“Check on the bunnies while you’re out there, please. Who knows if the girls remembered to feed them. You know how distracted they get when all your boys are around.”
He sighed, “Fine, fine,” and rolled his eyes, though he shared his mother’s warm smile.
His idea of a surprise Christmas gift for the girls turned out to be more responsibility than expected when the rabbits actually fucked like rabbits, making their handful of pets turn into an army of fluff. His mother was a saint for allowing the girls to keep them all while Louis was away at uni. He stuck his head out the window, music buzzing from Zayn’s wireless speaker up on the roof.
Liam’s face swung over from the edge of the roof, a blue flat brim cap crooked on his head.
“I’ve got to take out the trash. Can you tell the guys to take it easy before I get up there to supervise? I don’t want Nail to fall off again.”
“I heard that!” Niall’s voice cried in the distance. “I lived!”
Liam held up his Corona.
“You’ve got it, Doc.”
He walked out of his childhood bedroom, which was still wallpapered from floor to ceiling with every rock band poster he had ever gotten his hands on. The bedding and curtains had been changed to a particularly hideous peach floral pattern, his mother’s attempt at converting it to a guest room when he was at uni, but Zayn’s graffiti on the ceiling still worked with his sticker covered door. He couldn’t complain about the redecoration; the new bedding felt like he was sleeping on a cloud instead of his ancient, worn Star Wars sheets.
He hurried down two flights of stairs until he reached the basement. He grabbed two bags of trash and stopped in the back garden to lift another bag his mother had left beside the barbeque.
A quiet, shivery sound came from the bunny hutch, almost like a strong wind blowing through long grass on sand dunes. He stared into the darkness for a moment and saw something light glowing near the hutch. He took one step forward then stopped. Moonlight reflected off the water of the birdbath, causing light shapes to spread over the side of the structure.
He turned away and dragged the garbage around the side of the house. He left the trash at the curb and jogged into the back, cool grass prickling the bottoms of his feet.
“Good evening, honey buns.” He brushed his hands on the front of his grey patterned tank. “Are you all enjoying your night? I certainly am. I should have brought you some beer and barbeque. Really gotten the party started.”
He opened an airtight tupperware bin and scooped out two large plastic cups full of tiny green crunchies the rabbits seemed to like best when fresh vegetables weren’t available. He went up to the hutch and dumped their food inside. Bunnies started to scurry after the little pebbles of food. The shivery noise happened louder, along with the sound of hay crunching and sliding around the floor.
Louis asked, “Are you guys fucking in there? Hey, no judgement,” he held his palms towards the hutch, peering inside, “live your bunny lives.” He put his hand on the latch and started to open the door. “I just want to make sure it’s not the McCann’s dog sniffing…” The bird bath’s reflective glow got brighter, the bunnies all looking up from their food to turn backwards. “Sniffing a...”
Louis leaned so far forward his face pressed against the screen.
He gasped, “Oh my God,” and stumbled backwards, two very green, very human, eyes glowing behind a mountain of fuzzy bunnies. Louis’s volume increased as he chanted, “What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck?” He waved his hands wildly. “Get away from our bunnies, you fucking freak! I’m calling the--I’m--I...Uh...”
A shirtless young man stood from behind the bunny hutch. His chest was broad and hairless, his skin tanned, his dark, wavy hair blown back off his emotionless face. The glow of his feline eyes grew brighter until Louis’ entire front was illuminated neon green.
The man stepped around the small structure.
“Okay,” Louis said while nodding, his voice high pitched but conversational. He patted his pockets. “I’m definitely calling the police.”
The man walked towards him on endless legs, his chocolate waves bouncing on the back of his neck as if he were in a shampoo commercial. A naked shampoo commercial.
Louis struggled to pull his phone out of his pocket while staring at the stranger’s cock, which was coming closer at a calm, easy pace. Something made his motions slow, his fingers confused about their mission and his arms hanging at his side. When he tried to run away, the air around him felt like it had turned to warm strawberry jelly. The thought of running away seemed silly. He wanted to stay standing in place, surrounded by heat and comfort, his body lolling around with invisible hands holding him upright.
The stranger’s mouth opened and closed as if he was speaking, but instead of words, loud jazz saxophone music blared out of his pink lips. The strawberry jelly started to melt away.
“Wh-What?” Louis said, plugging his ears. He glanced around the back garden and found nothing but the usual fireflies and low buzz of the bunnies in their hutch. “Am I drunker than I thought?”
The stranger came closer. The saxophone music stopped, a throaty, droned voice clicking a collection of sounds that vibrated in Louis’ ears.
“Ahhhhrr elllehhhm-no Ariiii-yuh.”
Louis blinked at him and shook his head.
“What the fuck is--Hey, what the--”
One of the stranger’s hands flattened on the front of Louis’ neck, his touch tender and soft. A high gasp fluttered out from the very base of Louis’ throat, eyes going so round so fast that his face ached. The touch illuminated Louis’ skin gold, the colour throbbing and following the lines of his veins.
“--fuck do you think you’re doing?” the stranger said back to him in Louis’ own voice and speech pattern. Louis’ eyes widened even further. The stranger continued mimicking Louis’ voice to rattle off, “What is this? Why are you talking in my voice? How is this--You--”
Uncontrollable tingly warmth radiated into Louis’ skin from the stranger’s palm, heat swirling up within his belly. Every cell, every atom, every bloody molecule, vibrated gently into each other. The heat produced from each vibration sent gushes of the most pleasurable ecstasy Louis had ever experienced in his short life through his entire body.
His head dropped back, more involuntary gasps panted out of his mouth. The swirls of pleasure overpowering every inch of him made him weightless; light as a feather. His bare feet lifted up away from the cool grass, his arms straight out at his sides and his toes pointed at the ends of his straight legs.
He looked at the face of the stranger and felt no fear, no panic, only warmth and comfort and understanding and everlasting patience. He stared into the glowing green, a silent conversation in a language he had never heard before soothing the insides of his ears.
“Oh God, fuck,” the stranger said in Louis’ voice, his eyes focused curiously on the centre of his throat. He used his other hand to place two gentle fingertips on Louis’ hammering pulse point. “What are you doing--Oh, fuck, what’s happening to,” his voice started to drop to a different tone, “me? I’m gonna come--I’m gonna--” His accent changed slightly, a touch more drag to his words and narrowness to his vowels, “come so fucking hard.”
Louis pushed his hand off of his throat. His body plummeted to the ground and he arched the small of his back wildly, his heels digging into the dirt and his shoulders dragging on the grass. He palmed himself once through his jean shorts and cried out nonsense, turning his head away from the stranger to shudder, “Oh, fuck me!” as his cock throbbed, come exploding into his boxers.
He thought getting excellent grades was the shocker of the year. Apparently, being thrown into an immediate, bone shaking orgasm from a naked stranger with magic powers who secretly lived in the bunny house managed to top his grades.
Louis flopped his arms over his head, his sticky boxers already congealing with his jean shorts. A head of curly hair came into his line of vision. The moon, perfect and white, lit the outline of his body, providing his lean form with a glowing border.
“Are you dead?”
Louis licked his lips and swallowed. Tingles still swirled around his vibrating molecules, the lingering pleasure making his head swimmy. He rasped, “Maybe.” Concern blew the stranger’s features wider and he raised his hands, his palms glowing sparkly gold. “No, no, I’m alive,” Louis insisted, blocking his face with his hands. “Not dead. I’m fine.” He gave him a thumbs up and blew air out of his lips. “Promise.”
“Good.” The stranger stood up straight with his hands hanging limp at his sides. He stared at Louis for one long, unblinking moment. “Humans are strange.”
Louis squinted at him, well aware of his jeans becoming glued to his upper inner thigh and his sweat growing sticky on his skin.
The stranger repeated, “Humans are strange,” in an even more monotone drawl. He blinked once. “Do you understand me? Is this better?”
He started to make saxophone music out of his mouth again and Louis groaned, flopping one forearm over his eyes. He held his hand out.
“I understood you fine, bunny boy. Kill the tunes.”
“What is this boy of bunny? Who is killing the tunes?” His handsome face wrinkled in disgust. “My people do not kill.”
Louis waved his hand in the air.
“Nevermind. So.” He crossed his ankles and scanned up the fronts of the stranger’s lithe legs. “What the fuck are you doing in my back garden? Oh! I know!” He pointed one finger at the stranger. “You’re a stripper, yeah? I knew the guys would do this. I knew it! Where’d you learn to do magic that way? It’s like the special effects from Harry Potter Land.”
The stranger craned his neck backwards to peer at the moon.
“I believe it’s my mum’s idea of character building. She’s trying to prove a point.” He looked down to Louis. His bland expression was broken up only by a tiny wrinkle between his brows. “What is a stripper, a type of fish? A Harry Potter?”
Louis replied to his questions with more questions.
“Character building? What point? You have a mum? Where are your pants? Magical creatures get circumcised? What did I drink tonight?” Radiant pink and blue light started to form beside the stranger. Louis pushed himself up on his elbows. “What’s this now?”
A man and a woman appeared in the clouds of light. Both wore shimmery silver clothing made with luxurious, draped fabric, the woman’s outfit especially chic. The woman finished materializing first and she smiled kindly at Louis. She opened her mouth and a flute arpeggio came out.
The stranger made a barked saxophone noise and added, “Ehh-vrah, maala.”
She daintily tapped the front of her throat. The light around her glowed brighter as her smile widened.
“Hello, Louis Tomlinson,” she said in a lilting voice similar in accent to the stranger’s. As she spoke, a gold cartoon version of Louis materialized in the dark sky behind her, as if stars were being strung together to create his image. “Nineteen. Human. Male. Bisexual, but prefers men eighty-two percent of the time. Often finishes the milk but leaves the empty carton in the refrigerator for someone else to find and replenish.”
Louis stared at her, then looked to bunny boy, who had his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes directed up at the night sky.
“Um,” Louis said, glancing between them again. “Hi, uh, pretty lady in a fierce silver jumpsuit who knows all my secrets?”
“My name is,” high pitched, frantic flute trills came out of her mouth until she switched back to speaking, “but you may call me Anne.”
“Anne,” Louis echoed, nodding. “Good to know.”
She continued to smile at him as the man, who exited from the blue blob of light, patted the stranger on his back.
“Harry, try not to get into too much trouble. It’s only a month. You’ll thank us later.” The man smiled at Louis. They were a very smiley bunch. “I am Robin, King of the Northern Universe and Master of Planets. I see you’ve already met my lovely wife, Queen Anne.”
“Wow. Cool job, man.”
“Thank you,” Robin said happily. “I do try to keep busy.”
The naked stranger, now known as Harry (or a collection of saxophone runs), sighed and quirked his hip, his cock slapping against his inner thigh.
“I don’t understand why this is necessary. I built homes in Jalamartha every summer I could hold a galvanaal, scored the highest test results in Casiopaian history, and led the Star Xipsol this entire year. I’m nineteen now. Do you really need to keep testing me?”
“It’s a new learning experience, love, and leaders must always be willing to learn,” Anne said kindly. “We have our reasons for sending you here.”
Louis commented, “Kind of crazy that parents are on your ass even as an alien. My mum was always bugging me about getting a better summer job. It’s a small world afterall.”
Harry’s eyes blazed at him.
“It is not a small world and I am not simply an alien. I am Harry of clan Styles, Prince of the Northern Universe, starburst born and Heart of the People.” Harry sniffed and palmed the back of his hair. “It’s too humid here and you keep your animals in tiny, tiny homes.” He shook his head. “Cruel. Typical human.”
“Normally it’s quite rainy,” Louis said, shrugging one shoulder, “but the weather’s been nice lately.” His brows furrowed. “And how do you know the bunnies think it’s too tiny a home? I thought they were very comfortable.”
Harry put his hands on his hips, his cock slapping against his thigh yet again.
“I spoke with them, obviously. Their energy drew me in. They’re very happy, but you could have built them a larger dwelling. No surprise. Engineering has never been a human’s strength.”
“Excuse me, but have you ever been to a water park?” At Harry’s confused silence, Louis held his palms upwards. “I rest my case.”
“What case? What is a park of water?”
Anne swirled her hand in the air and a pair of sparkly silver boxer shorts materialized on Harry’s body. Harry pulled the waistband away from his flat stomach, his mouth pinched in a pout.
She chuckled, “You’re on Earth now, love. Please do remember to wear human trousers. It’s a requirement here.” The skin beside her eyes crinkled happily at Louis. “You can help him with that, can’t you, Louis Tomlinson?”
Louis drawled, “Um…” and swayed his bent knees inwards, picking up the pace the longer he held the syllable. “I…” He narrowed his eyes and let out an involuntary, nervous laugh. “What?”
Anne pressed her palms together, her large green eyes pleading with him.
“You’ll keep an eye on our dear Harry, won’t you? It will be for only one month. Thirty human days. Think of it as a summer job! In return, we will gift you with a stipend.” Her eyes brightened. “And a planet! A very good one, we promise.”
Louis’ brows arched, his legs tucking on top of each other to sit up on his bum.
“A planet? Um...” He pulled out a handful of grass and noted Harry’s horrified inhalation of breath. “That’s very, very generous, however...I, uh, have to work at my family’s diner over the summer to make money for books and stuff, plus I’m, erm,” he poked at the soil, “sort of an earthling. Stuck here. Not much use for a planet.” He tilted his head. "Do you call us earthlings? Is that the proper term?”
“No, dear,” Anne said."Human is fine."
"So...Just to clarify..." Louis rubbed his hand over the cooling wet spot seeping into his jeans. "You…” He pointed at all three of them. “You're all, um, officially..." He bit his bottom lip. “Like…”
Robin chuckled, "Aliens?" as if he said clowns. "Yes, that would be the closest term in a human's vocabulary, though the correct term is--"
A blaring tuba blubbed out low notes while Robin's mouth moved.
“--in our native tongue.”
"Right," Louis nodded, "of course."
Harry’s deep voice quietly pondered, “Which one?” A beat passed while Robin and Anne glanced at each other, Robin adjusting his small round glasses and Anne pulling at the sleeve of her jump suit. Harry crossed his arms over his chest, his hip swaying to the side. “Which planet?”
Slowly, Robin said, “We were thinking...Volurina Evra.”
Harry stomped his bare foot on the grass, glimmers of green light illuminating in the soil like veins flowing out from the stomped spot.
“That was supposed to be one of my planets! It has the best beaches!”
“Planets have beaches?” Louis asked, suddenly excited. He hopped up to his feet. "Besides Earth, I mean. Is there surfing on, um, Vulva Error?"
“You’d still be the ruler of the Northern Universe, my love,” Anne soothed, rubbing Harry’s shoulder. “Louis Tomlinson would merely rule one small planet within your kingdom.” She looked to Louis. “Volurina Evra. Volurina Evra,” she repeated slower, letting her lips enunciate each syllable. “I believe that translates to Victory Eternal.”
“Vibrance,” Robin corrected.
“Ah, right. Vibrance. My English is a touch rusty.” Anne nodded and gestured to Louis with one queenly palm. “Vibrance Eternal could be all yours, Louis Tomlinson.”
“You can call me Louis, if you’d like,” Louis said.
“Louis,” Anne and Robin said, both smiling as if he’d agreed to take their spoiled, nudist son to the prom.
“Um, so,” Louis scuffed his foot in the grass, “the planet is a lovely gesture,” he held his palms out, “truly, but I don’t have much use for a planet.” He stuck his hands in his back pockets, shrugging, “I’ve got one to live on already, you know? Do you think you could get me a new Playstation instead? Zayn spilled beer on it and Niall tried to fix it, but then it electrocuted Liam through his controller and,” he waved his hand in the air, “it was a whole big thing.”
Harry, Anne and Robin’s faces all slackened in unison. Their matching green eyes sagged, Harry’s plump lips pressing into a tight line, pale gold light outlining their motionless bodies. Louis recognized the look of sympathy even though they were three aliens, not three people finding out his nan passed away one Christmas ago.
“Earth will no longer exist in ten years time,” Harry said, sounding so kind and gentle and princely compared to any of his previous statements. “I’m sorry to be the one to inform you.”
“Certain sects of your scientific world are aware, as are your leaders,” Robin said, pressing his palms together in front of his chest, “yet those in power refuse to do anything about it despite our best efforts at aid and planning.”
Louis snorted and burst out laughing.
When their faces did not break into laughter, and their elbows did not jut into his ribs, Louis’ laughter quieted.
If that was true, his littlest brother and sister would never get to go to uni; would never get to play footie or see a scary movie in the theatre. His other sisters would never get to travel the world or fall in love or work in a shitty store in the mall, if that was what they wanted to do with their life. His mother would never get to live her dream of retiring in France and his father would have to close the diner because there would be no one left to serve.
He himself would never become a doctor and, even if he managed to finish his education in ten years, he would be powerless to do anything but watch his planet crumble.
“What?” he repeated, his voice low. “Wh--How?”
“You simply don’t have the resources, darling,” Anne said, coming closer. She levitated to him on a dull cloud of gold light. “Your atmosphere is nearly destroyed. Pollution. Global warming. Your drinkable water will run dry and your oceans will become craters. Grain will become extinct and violence over sustenance will erupt as the final blow for your planet.”
She cradled his face, tiny curls of pink light looping around her fingers to wind into his shaggy hair.
“It is not your fault, love,” she said, her voice vibrating soothingly in the core of his brain. “Earth was not meant to sustain so many people for so long under such strained conditions. It is a miracle you have made it this long.” Her warm hand landed on his outer bicep. “Which is why our planet, Balaavos Nala, has been preparing. To help. To heal.”
“Balaavos Nala? P-Preparing?”
Robin lifted his hand in the air and a glowing green planet appeared as if he’d tossed a basketball above his head. Patches of pale white dotted the rotating globe, the white spots throbbing with light in an easy, glittery way. The globe illuminated Louis’ wide eyes, his mouth falling further open.
“We are a peaceful planet focused on sustainable energy and farming,” Robin explained, twirling his fingers and making the planet spin faster. The planet zoomed in on a particularly large white spot, glowing blue people using some sort of tools to rake what looked like corn. “We are natural healers. Balaavos Nala translates to Brave Kindness.”
A sigil appeared on the globe, a heart surrounded by a burst of white light that morphed into two joined hands.
“We have been preparing one of our moons for you,” he continued. He flicked his fingers and another small planet appeared in the sky, the colour almost all blue, “to help house the people of Earth when the end of days arrives. You will need a new place to live but, even before that, you will need water. Food. Medicine to treat your human illnesses. Oxygen. The transition will not be easy.”
“And you are going to just give all that away?” Louis asked, his voice speeding up. “You’d give all that away to a planet of strangers, while half the people on this planet would never do the same for their own?”
“Of course,” Harry said, squinting confusedly. “We rescued both Avala Prima and Avala Pula when they were in trouble. Their additions to our planet have been a splendid success. We have high hopes for the human race despite the human race lacking the compassion for their own.” His nose wrinkled. “Rape. Murder. War. Hatred. Selfishness.” He shook his head. “How could you treat your own with such cruelty?”
“What is Avala?” Louis asked. "What do they have to do with Earth?"
“A duo of planets near Pluto that are similar to Earth in almost every way. Population, physical appearance of its inhabitants, biological makeup, continental formation. Not fingers, though. That’s the difference.”
Harry held one hand out and two glowing fingers suddenly grew beside his pinky.
“They have seven on each hand.”
Louis whispered, “Terrifying,” with bulged eyes. Harry wiggled his fingers, the two extras disappearing in a cloud of silver dust. “And...You…” Louis' eyes darted from person to person. “You do magic?”
“It’s not magic, it’s how we naturally are,” Harry said. His brows twitched up, his gaze scanning Louis from bottom to top. “We are very similar to your genetic makeup, but we use our minds in a way your kind has never understood or been interested in.”
Anne gently slapped his arm, Harry wincing and rubbing his shoulder.
“Don’t say it like that, Harry. That’s rude.”
“It’s alright,” Louis said, his voice still stunned. “He’s sort of right. You would die if you read the comments on some Reddit threads.”
“What is a Reddit?” Robin asked.
“You don’t want to know.”
Anne lifted her forearm and pinched the sparkly silver face of her watch.
“Oh, darling, we really should be going.” She placed her hand on Robin’s lower back. “We have dinner with the Zublioryrian’s in an hour.”
“Ah, right, I had forgotten,” Robin said. He steepled his fingers together and smiled at Louis. “We really must go, but it was lovely to meet you. Thank you ever so much for keeping our Harry for the month.”
“Um, but, like, what are we supposed to do?” Louis asked, stepping closer. “What am I supposed to do with him? Does he eat food? Does he know how to use a toilet? Where am I supposed to put him?”
“I’m right here,” Harry said, moving to stand next to Louis. He sniffed, “No need to be rude.”
Louis’ mouth fell open.
“Me?” He touched the centre of his chest. “I’m the rude one, Prince Sparkles?”
“Boys,” Anne chuckled, stepping between them and placing one hand on each of their shoulders. For some reason, her touch did not send Louis into immediate orgasm, which was a relief. “Please do try to get along. I know!” She squeezed Louis’ shoulder and laughed lightly. “Harry can work with you at your diner! He can be a very good helper and is a fast learner.”
“And where am I supposed to live?" Harry arched his brows, looking from Louis to his parents. "With the bunnies?”
“You can live in the lowest level of Louis’ home. I believe the human word is basement? Cellar, perhaps?”
“The lowest level?” Harry asked, horror dripping from his voice.
“It’s actually pretty cozy for a basement,” Louis said with a shrug. “We mostly use it to play video games and smo--oh--” He balked at Anne and Robin’s curious faces. “Oh, wow,” he made a big show of looking at his watch, “you two should get going. Don’t want to be late for dinner with the Zamboni’s.”
Anne’s lips quirked amusedly, Robin hiding a snicker with his hand. She floated closer to Harry and pecked his cheek. The wrinkles on Harry’s forehead smoothed, his cheek leaning into her touch.
“I know you two will have so much fun, I just know it! Treat Harry like any other human.” Her hand moved over Harry’s heart. Pink flickering light expanded under his skin. Harry stared at his mother, his eyes widening and his hands flexing at his sides, his body seemingly frozen. “And now he is.” The light grew brighter. “Like any other human.”
Anne removed her hand and Harry’s face scrunched in pain. He clawed at the glowing spot.
“What did--What you do to me!?” Harry exclaimed, pink fizzling under his hand. “What’s going on!?”
“I merely weakened some of your abilities. Not all, but most. Temporarily.”
“Because you’re a human now, dear.” She patted his cheek with a cheery flutter of her eyelashes. “Time to act like one.” Harry sighed dramatically and crossed his arms over his chest, turning away from his mother. She directed her attention to Louis and made a motion with her fingers, his phone levitating out of his pocket. “Louis, what bank are you a member of?”
“Oh, uh,” his eyes followed the path of his phone, “Barclays?”
“Lovely. We have an agreement with them.”
She held his phone in her palm and extended one finger. She touched the screen and a few pink sparks came out of her finger. She flattened her hand and held it over the screen, making one swirling motion. The phone floated to Louis and waited in front of him for him to grab it.
He plucked it from the air and his face lit up.
“Oh, sick, you fixed the screen! And you made it into an iPhone 6!”
She chuckled warmly.
“If I was in there inserting your allowance for the month, I might as well bring your phone up to speed with current trends.”
Louis touched the smooth screen and blinked once. His bank’s mobile app was open and looked as boring as ever, but his balance had couple of extra digits compared to the last time he checked.
“Uh,” he stared at the total number of pounds, his voice slower to say, “thanks. Thank you. Yes.” He nodded and pocketed his phone. “Thanks.”
“We thought five grand would be enough for the month,” Robin said. He swirled his hand. “Food, clothing, expenses, recreation, and so on.”
Louis’ brows arched high, his lips tight in a close-lipped smile as he nodded.
“Yup. I think we’ll manage.”
“We could give you more,” Anne said, lifting her hand. Louis’ phone started to vibrate in his back pocket. “Or an advance on your planet.”
“No, that’s quite alright.” He slung his arm around Harry’s shoulders. “We’ll have to teach old Harold here how to budget on Earth. It’ll be part of his learning experience.”
Harry’s body stiffened.
“My name is Harry, Prince of--”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Louis said, smiling sweetly at Harry’s pout. He missed Anne and Robin smirking softly at each other, his knuckles digging into the top of Harry’s head. “C’mon, I’ll show to your new kingdom.”
. . .
Louis dropped a pillow on the left side of the sofa and snorted.
“Unacceptable?” He turned towards Harry and put his hands on his hips. “Unacceptable? You mean like you and your alien family deciding to crash my party and give me an enormous, intergalactic infant to babysit for the next month for the sake of the human race?”
Harry stared at him for a long beat.
“I’m not an infant.”
“You’re sure acting like one. Like a spoiled brat.” Louis held his arms out and half spun. “You have a place to sleep and your own toilet, which would be considered a luxury to many, many people on this planet. Be sure to add that in your report of Earth. The shower is upstairs in the other bathroom, but you’ll survive sharing. We all do it.”
Harry strolled around the cramped space with his head held high. He read over the titles of books and CDs and DVDs crammed into mismatched shelves around the room. Louis bustled around behind him, reaching into cardboard boxes and pulling out clothing.
“Here,” he said, tossing a tee on the sofa. “Put this on.” He pulled out a pair of jean shorts. “These should fit until we can get you more clothes. I’ll have to figure out what shoes will work. Your feet are bigger than mine.”
Louis continued searching through boxes but Harry ignored him, instead pressing the pads of his fingers to the spine of a cookbook. He dragged his fingers along each spine, small sparks of white light sizzling on the ends of his fingers.
“Hello? Harry? Earth to...Well...Earth to alien? Is that cliche?”
Harry looked away from a nature book to blink at Louis, the dull green glow dimming behind his eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Reading. A foreign concept for you, I’m sure.”
Louis snorted and turned away.
“You read with your hands?”
“I can, yes.”
Louis narrowed his eyes over his shoulder.
“Bullshit. Your mum took away your powers.”
“Some, but not all.” He buffed his fingernails against his sparkly boxers. “She always was trying to get me to read more. I guess this is another one of her lessons.”
“Whatever,” Louis snorted, going into another box. “Get dressed. I want to hurry this up. The guys are probably asleep on the roof or they drank all my beer.”
Harry lifted his hand in the air and held it out towards Louis’ back. He furrowed his brows and stretched his fingers wider, but Louis continued to mutter to himself and search through boxes. Harry looked at his hand and shook out his wrist, lifting both hands to angle his palms at Louis’ back.
The box Louis was bent over started to rise. Louis’ eyes widened, his head turning side to side as boxes started to float about a foot off the ground. He turned towards Harry with one old flip flop in each hand.
“Must you do that now? I’m trying to find you shoes.”
“I don’t need shoes.”
“You do, spaceboy, you do.”
“You’re not wearing any.”
“But I own shoes. You need at least a pair for here and a pair of trainers for work.”
“If I had my full powers, I could dump every one of these boxes on your head, but,” Harry squinted and shook his hands, the boxes plopping back to the ground, “I can’t.”
“How sad for you. What a struggle your life must be.” Louis walked up to him and slapped the flip flops in the centre of his chest. “Put some clothes on and we can go back to the party.”
Harry glanced at the clothing draped on the lumpy sofa. He sighed.
“On my planet, when people throw parties in honour of me, we don’t wear shirts that say,” he lifted the t-shirt, “‘Hot ‘N Hard.’ We wear actual clothes.”
“Hey, I’ll have you know, that shirt is a treasure. I wore it to the party I went to the second time I ever had sex. Actually, now that I think of it, that was also the night of my third time. I have very fond memories in that shirt.”
Harry’s nose wrinkled, his fingers releasing a pinch of the fabric.
A door opened, loud footfalls pounding down the rickety wooden steps.
“Lou? Did you do the trash?”
Louis glanced over his shoulder.
Jay stood on the landing, leaning one forearm on the bottom of the bannister. She smiled at Louis then looked to Harry, who stood straight at attention, his boxers sparkling in the dim light. Jay’s smile faded, her eyes rolling towards her son.
“Lou, c’mon. What did I tell you about having sex in the house when the girls are still awake?”
“I--No--” He gestured frantically between himself and Harry. “We didn’t have sex. That’s not this. No. No, no.”
She dragged her eyes down to his jean shorts, then back to his face.
“You’re really trying this with me? I washed your clothes until the day you left for university.”
“He came in his pants, miss,” Harry offered helpfully.
Louis glared over his shoulder at him, the corners of Harry’s closed lips twitching upwards and his eyes blinking with lazy innocence. Jay sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, walking down the remaining three steps until she reached the worn tile.
“And who are you, then? Haven’t seen you at one of our parties before.”
Harry held his hand out
“I’m Harry of--Harry,” he said, shaking her hand. “Hello.”
“He...He and I know each other,” Louis said, moving to stand next to his mother. “From uni.”
“And where are you from?” Jay asked.
“Space,” Harry said easily.
She chuckled and squeezed his hand before releasing it.
“Alright. Another science nerd in the house.”
“He, um. Uh.” Louis stepped between Harry and his mother, warily eyeing Harry’s orgasm inducing, box floating hands. “He needed a job for the summer and I thought he could maybe stay with us and work at the diner? His parents are, um, out of town the whole summer.”
“Oh,” she said, brighter. A strand of dark, straight hair fell out of her top knot. “You’ve worked in food service before?”
Harry’s expression faltered to something more akin to disgust, but he quickly masked it, offering a neutral, “Mmm,” and widening of his eyes.
“Line cook? Waiter?”
“He can start in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Busboy, maybe,” Louis said, patting Harry’s shoulder. He glanced at Harry and bit the inside of his bottom lip, the ring of emerald in Harry’s eyes glowing red for a split second. “Work his way up in the world.”
She chirped, “Lovely!” and squeezed both of Harry’s shoulders. “Marcus will be on holiday with his family the next two weeks. We’ll definitely need an extra set of hands for the summer rush.” She offered Harry a small smile. The neon light in Harry’s eyes warmed to something kinder, something sweeter. “If you need anything while you’re with us, let me know. Lou isn’t the best host.”
Louis scoffed, “I got him sheets and a pillow!”
“But did you get a pillow case?”
Louis was silent, his lips pursed forward. Jay chuckled and let go of Harry’s shoulders.
“I’ll make up the sofa for you when I’m done in the kitchen. You two go back to the party. And, Jesus, Lou.” She snarled her lips, glancing down again. “Change your shorts. I thought we were past this.”
“Mum,” Louis droned, Harry’s laughter poorly muffled by his t-shirt.
Jay left them and Louis listened for five steps towards the kitchen. Squeak, squeak, groan, squeak, a pinching sound, then silence, followed by the rush of water through the pipes running along the ceiling. He let out a huge breath then spun around, his hands fisted in his hair.
“You’ve been on Earth for, like, ten minutes. How did you learn what, ‘Came in his pants,’ meant?”
“I read it in one of the books on the shelf.”
Louis’ face whipped towards the rows of paperbacks.
“One of the books on--” He sighed and let his head fall back, steepling his fingers beneath his chin. “Jesus Christ. Please don’t even tell me you read one of my mum’s romance novels?”
Harry put one leg in his jean shorts.
“All of them. Do all Earth men have such enormous penises made of steel?”
Louis massaged his temples and walked towards the steps.
“You’ll have to find out on your own. I need to wash my junk and change. I’m itchy. Oh, and just to let you know,” he turned towards Harry, “on Earth, we don’t go around touching people and making them come without warning or asking if they want to come. That’s looked down upon. Don’t do it. And stay away from my siblings or, I swear to God, I’ll rocket myself to Boola Noola and get your mum to drag your arse back home.”
Harry’s brows pinched.
“My planet is called Balaavos Nala. Bah-laaaahh-vos Nahhh-lah. Is it really that difficult for a human to say? And how was I supposed to know you’d come? I only wanted to learn your language to tell you to relax. We never learned in school that humans would have that sort of immediate reaction to our touch.”
“It’s not a matter of knowing, spaceboy, it’s a matter of don’t touch people who don’t want to be touched by you. Got it?”
Harry lifted a flip flop and put his fingers where his toes were supposed to go, staring at the shoe as if he was seeing the key to the universe. Louis tapped his foot on the ground.
“Aren’t you going to apologize?” Louis asked.
Louis walked up to him and took the flip flop out of his hand, dropping to his knees. He lifted Harry’s right foot and shoved a shoe on, Harry wobbling on one leg.
“You should apologize because you came up to me, stole my voice like some sort of fucked up space Ursula, and then gave me a very public orgasm without asking me, which is equally fucked up.”
“You know Ursula? That’s one of my favourite planets to holiday on! Lovely cuisine.”
Louis sighed again and shoved Harry’s left foot into his flip flop. He whispered, “And you’re supposed to be the hope of the human race.”
“I heard that,” Harry snapped, pulling his foot away. “I’m not claiming to be the hope of the human race. My people merely want to help your people, though if it were up to me, we’d take your mum and the bunnies.” His hand sliced through the air. “That’s it.”
“You and the fucking bunnies, I swear. You can live in the hutch while you’re here, if you’d like. Unless those accommodations are too tiny.” He flattened his hand on his chest. “I am a cruel human, afterall.”
Harry ground out, “I apologize that I made you come in your pants. That was not my intent and, on my planet, we take any sort of breach of personal space very seriously.” His jawline loosened, his voice returning to a more normal tone. “It simply does not happen because it is thought to be immoral and the most wrong. So, I’m very sorry.”
Louis swept his arm back before bowing deeply.
“Oh, thaaaank you, kind heir to Balaaaahhhhvos Naaaaaahla.”
Harry shifted his weight from his left foot to his right.
“Don’t you have junk to wash?”
Louis popped up, the heel of his hand rubbing over his fly. He winced and pulled at the fabric as he rubbed.
“Do you need help washing it?”
“What?” Louis’ hand paused. “My junk?”
“Yeah. This is junk, right?”
Harry pointed at the row of open boxes. Louis’ mouth trembled, a tiny smile sneaking out.
“Yes and no. I’ll…” He sighed and tilted his head towards the stairs. “Come with me. I’ll show you the house. Show you where my room is. You’ll need to know your way around and we have to go out my bedroom window to get to the roof.”
They walked up the steps until they reached the kitchen. Jay smiled at them with the phone propped on her shoulder and her hands hidden under a layer of soapy bubbles. She wiggled her eyebrows in a silent greeting. Louis tugged the bottom of Harry’s tee, guiding him to another set of stairs. High pitched giggling rushed towards them, along with two sets of stomping feet.
A young voice howled, “Louis!” as two small girls came barrelling at them.
Harry’s hand flew up as a thin sheet of shimmering green light sprang forward. The light wrapped around the girls and held them in place, everything from their wild blond hair to their outstretched arms floating in the air. Louis sighed.
“Was that necessary?”
Sheepishly, Harry said, “I thought they were, um,” he scratched the back of his neck, “wild animals about to attack you.”
Louis smirked, running his hand through the sheet of green.
“While you would be very correct on certain days, please don’t make a habit of freezing people without their permission. It’s that whole no unrequested touching, no interstellar freezing thing.”
Louis held his hand in front of Daisy’s face; he could feel her breaths puffing out of her mouth.
“Will they remember this when you unfreeze them?”
Louis tilted his head and stared at his sister Phoebe, Daisy’s twin. Orange lipstick was smeared on her cheek, a tube of lipstick in the same colour clutched in Daisy’s hand. He smiled and stepped back.
“Can you unfreeze them?”
The green light evaporated in half a second and the girls continued sprinting, their hair flowing behind them.
“Hi!” Daisy shouted. “Who are you? I’m Daisy! You’re tall!”
“I’m Phoebe and I’m nine! Daisy, too! We’re nine!”
Harry nodded and said, “Okay.”
Daisy and Phoebe bounced in place, staring expectantly at Harry. There was a long silence with no talking or movement. When he said nothing further, their faces fell, their pleading looks directed at Louis.
“He’s, uh, quiet,” Louis said, pushing Harry between them. “He’ll be living here with us for a bit, alright? So be nice.”
“Okay!” Daisy said, huffing and running after them. “Nice to meet you! My room--”
“--Our room,” Phoebe added.
“Is right here,” Daisy finished, running ahead of them to spread her small arms across a sticker covered door. She smiled wide at Harry. “Come visit anytime!”
“He will not,” Louis said as he opened the door to his room. “Tell Fiz and Lottie that Harry’s here. I don’t think Ernie and Doris need to be notified, but you can tell them, while you’re at it.”
Harry followed behind Louis to go into the bedroom. Someone grabbed his wrist and he froze, peering down at the small, lipstick smeared hand.
Daisy smiled at him and asked, “What are you doing? Can I come in? What are you guys going to do?”
“Wash your brother’s junk.”
As he replied, a bleach blond teenager stepped out of a nearby bedroom. Her dark lined eyes widened and she whispered, “Jesus, Lou, a little decorum.” She walked towards the stairs, her heavy black boots clomping on the floor. She knocked on a closed door and shouted, “Five minutes, Fiz.” She glanced over her shoulder, her glued on purple lashes flicking up and down. “Good taste, though.”
Louis gripped the centre of Harry’s tee and pulled him inside. He bent over to address the twins.
“We’re going to go up on the roof.”
“Can we come!?” Phoebe asked excitedly. “I want to see Zayn!”
“And Niall!” Daisy said.
“It’s too late, loves. Maybe tomorrow in the daytime we can do a roof visit,” Louis said with a smile, cradling the top of Daisy’s head. “Now, go wash that stuff off before mum sees you.” They both whined and Louis stood up straight, warning, “Girls, please.”
They blinked up at Harry and pouted in unison. He stared at them.
“Your brother gave you an order.”
They also frowned in unison, then turned away at the same time to run down the hall.
“Your new boyfriend sucks, Lou!” Phoebe cackled, she and Daisy bursting into giggles, Daisy adding, "Yeah, he super sucks!"
Louis started to call back, “He’s not my--” then stopped, sighing and going into his bedroom. “C’mon, then.”
He grabbed fresh boxers and baggy sweats before leaving Harry alone in his room. He was gone for all of five minutes to take care of his junk washing duties. In that time, Harry managed to remove a patch of his rock band posters and had his dirty clothes floating in the air, all walking to a laundry hamper buried in the corner of the room.
Louis stared at a set of floating football gear, complete with socks and a sweatband. It looked as if the person inside took an invisibility potion but still walked upright. He cleared his throat and watched a line run up Harry’s back. The clothing dropped immediately to the floor. He walked over to where Harry stood and picked up his Ramones poster, spreading it back on the wall.
“I put these here for a reason,” he said, pushing the corners into the remaining globs of sticky tack.
“You hid this,” Harry said. He rubbed his hand over the starry wallpaper. The faded constellations started to glow white, their curled edges gluing themselves back to the wall and every wrinkle smoothing. “Why? Does it go around the whole room?”
Louis slapped the corner of another poster.
“Because it’s what I had when I was a kid and kids need to grow out of their childish obsessions.”
Harry’s hand dropped from the wall, his eyes sagging.
“That’s awful. Who told you that?”
“Teachers, parents, you know. All that fun stuff.”
“That does not sound fun.”
Louis chuckled quietly and patted his windowsill.
“Come on. Time to go up.”
Harry asked, “Would you like for me to levitate us up there?” as he walked to the window.
“No, thanks. You’re supposed to be a real human. We, sadly, do not levitate. Not in the literal sense, at least.”
Louis made the choice to let Harry climb the fire escape first, resulting in a slow, shaky ascent. He murmured, “For a man who spends most of his time billions of miles above Earth, it’s like you’ve never been off the ground before.”
Harry peered over his shoulder, his hair frizzing at his temples, sweat dampening his forehead.
“This ladder is so shoddily made and poorly designed I’m surprised no one has perished on it.”
“Perished?” Louis giggled and poked the back of Harry’s thigh, Harry huffing and glaring at him again. “Niall came pretty close, but he managed to avoid the great beyond.”
“Are you talking shit, Lou?” Niall’s voice said from the roof.
“Always,” Louis laughed, pressing up behind Harry. “C’mon, swing your leg over the side.”
He could have swore he saw a shiver run through Harry’s body before he lifted his leg. Harry stumbled off the ladder, his flip flops slapping on the rough roofing. Louis hopped over the bar with ease and stood beside Harry, dusting his hands on his thighs.
“Hey,” Liam said happily, holding out the word. “You disappeared!” He stood and pointed his Corona at Harry. “Who’s your friend?”
“I’m Harry,” Harry stated.
All three nodded at the same time with easy smiles before a silence stretched over the roof. Similar to the twins, they seemed to be waiting for something else to follow, but Harry just arched his eyebrows.
“Um,” Harry said, his eyes sliding sideways to Louis. He blinked at the guys. “Harry Styles. My last name is Styles.”
They all chattered at the same time, nodding and standing. Niall ran up to them with two frosty Coronas.
“Nice to meet you, Styles.” He thrust the beers into their hands. “Welcome.”
Harry examined the beer bottle, his fingers holding it delicately as if it were made of mud.
They walked over to the nest of mismatched cushions that had manifested in the furthest corner of the flat roof. Harry sank down on a greyed floral cushion and perched on the very edge of the fabric. Louis smiled around the rim of his beer as his throat bobbed. He held his hand out.
“Harry, meet Liam,” Liam tipped his cap with a friendly smile, “Zayn,” Zayn held up a peace sign, “and Niall,” Niall grinned with all his teeth and spread his legs wide enough for his shoe to bump Harry’s shin. Harry eyed his scuffed trainer. “My best mates. They work at the diner, too, so you’ll be seeing a lot of them.”
“Okay,” Harry said, nodding once. They again stared at him as if they expected him to continue. He hummed and offered, “Nice to meet you?” which seemed to appease them, more smiles thrown his way.
“So,” Liam said, crossing his legs at the ankles. He spread his arms wide across the ledge of the roof. “Where are you from?”
Harry opened his mouth and Louis placed his hand on Harry’s forearm.
“Not from around here?” Zayn asked, muffled amusement shaking in his quiet voice.
The other two guys started to laugh. Louis blinked owlishly and looked from friend to friend.
“What do you mean?” Louis asked.
“Your mum is fucking hot, mate,” Niall giggled, Harry’s mouth falling open. “Do all the women on your planet sparkle like that?”
Harry growled, “How dare you speak of your queen that way,” and went to stand, anger flashing red in his eyes. Louis held him back with a flat hand to the centre of his chest.
“Chill out, mate. She’s not queen here and queens are not usually too popular on this planet.” He pulled Harry down. “You need to get used to that.”
“Oh, shit, are you, like, a prince?” Liam asked, crawling closer. He tilted his head and reached out for Harry’s hair. Harry’s angry eyes flashed again as he traced each motion of Liam’s fingers stroking over his hair. “You feel like a normal person. Normal hair. Pretty nice hair, actually.”
Louis pushed Liam’s hand away.
“Just because he’s a prince doesn’t mean you should prod him like a lab rat. Control yourself, Lima Bean. And you all,” he made the horns with his fingers and gestured from friend to friend, “need to keep your mouths shut. No telling friends and family,” he looked pointedly at Niall, “and lovey dovey girlfriends details about our new friend, you follow?”
“Oh, shiiiit, you’re a priiiince,” Zayn drawled on a laugh. He and Liam bumped fists before he held his hand over his shoulder, Niall’s palm slapping against his. He pointed two fingers at Harry. “You’re so a prince. We totally called it.”
Harry and Louis sighed at the same time, their eyes flitting at each other. Louis sat back on his heels, his brows knitted together.
“So, you saw--”
“The laser light show and flying extravaganza?” Liam asked, maintaining his serious expression for all of three seconds. He started to laugh. “Yeah, we watched. It was like being in Vegas.” He gave Harry a thumbs up. “Fucking Grade-A entertainment, mate.”
Zayn sputtered out, “Watched you cream your pants, as well, Lou,” through his laughter, sending everyone but Louis into hysterical giggles. Louis sighed and looked up to the moon, his eyes falling shut.
. . .
Harry startled awake when a palm connected with his arse. He spun off the edge of the sofa. The floor came at him hard and fast, Harry groaning, "Ow," and rubbing his lower back. He squinted up at Louis. "What do you want?"
"We have to get ready for work."
Harry's squint deepened.
"At the diner. Now get up. There's enough cereal for us, but if you sleep in past the girls, you're shit out of luck."
"I'm not hungry."
"For a being of higher intelligence, you don't know shit about the human body. If you don't eat, you might not get a chance to eat until the staff meal in hours. Have you ever been in the kitchen of an Earth restaurant?"
"Exactly. You should shower, too. S'gonna be a sweaty day."
Harry scratched the centre of his bare chest and craned his neck sideways, watching Louis climb the steps.
Louis' steps paused. He trudged back down to the bottom level.
"Yeah, you know. Little soap, little water, little scrub. Don't you shower on your planet?"
"No, the atmosphere takes care of cleaning."
"Remember when we ate Taco Bell last night?"
Harry's eyes glowed pale green, deep dimples appearing as he smiled.
"Yes," he said, awed. "It was magnificent."
"Well, you smell like a Taco Bell right now. If you can smell Taco Bell and you're not standing in a Taco Bell, it means you need to shower. You're lucky I'm wise enough to know that now. It took me years."
"Ugh," Harry rubbed his palms quickly over his chest, "how could you let me get like this?"
"Sorry, love. Our planet and atmosphere doesn't wipe our arses for us. I didn't know you'd need a training session on how not to stink."
. . .
He only had Louis’ old clothes to wear. Some things, like the blue diner t-shirts everyone had to wear, were alright and fit him. Other things, like Louis' old jeans and shoes, were not. Harry's ankles stuck out of the legs of his jeans and his feet ached in the too small trainers with a hole in the right sole. Louis didn't even provide him with socks for his first day. Thank the stars he had learned what a shower was after that night.
Upon entering the kitchen, he tried to discreetly use his abilities to take care of each task Jay assigned him, but his mother's temporary block took care of that possible loophole. While on his own time, he could use bits and pieces of his powers. At work, he couldn’t even levitate simple items to himself. Levitation was a child’s ability on his home planet. He would have to endure each task and workday as a normal human would.
He had not planned for the oppressive heat and spent half his first day with sweat racing down the back of his neck, dampening the neckline of his new t-shirt and itching between his shoulderblades. He struggled to pull his hair into a bun without any sort of material to fasten his hair up.
Finally, when he could take no more and sweat started to blur his vision, he asked one of the line cooks for something to hold his hair back. The line cook laughed gruffly and fashioned a scarf for his hair out of looped toilet tissue. Harry worked with his tattered white headband until Louis ran back to the kitchen for extra pickles. Louis snorted and ripped the white paper off, unlooping a black headband from around his wrist and gifting Harry with it.
“I crown you King Dishwasher,” Louis whispered with sparkling eyes. He pushed the stretchy black band over Harry’s hair. “Lord of the Seven Sinks and Commander of the Sponge.”
Harry tried to think of something clever to say, but he was so relieved to have his hair off his forehead, and Louis’ cool hands smoothing his hair back, that he simply sighed, “Thanks.”
The only way he got himself through the constant plunge of his hands into scorching water to wipe other people’s filth off of plates, or the inhumane rudeness of patrons barking at him for mustard of the honey while he balanced a heavy bin of dirty dishes, was watching Louis.
Louis floated around the hectic restaurant as if he could levitate. Louis spoke faster than Harry knew was possible for a human. He always managed to please his customers, even the most difficult of tables. He seemed to possess the ability to mind read whenever people were unsure about what they wanted to eat, even though he was from Earth. Earth was not known for its mindreading inhabitants.
Each shift, whether it was an early morning breakfast rush or a mob of teenagers looking for late night snacks, Louis managed to keep his tables happy, help other staff members, answer the phone, seat guests, and give his mum multiple kisses on the cheek. All of that happened like clockwork, yet he still had time to shoot Harry secret smiles through the thin window between the kitchen and dining room, or check in the kitchen for vague reasons, always lingering near Harry but never outwardly saying he was doing something wrong.
“Too bad your boy’s gonna be a doc,” Stewart, one of the cooks, said to Jay, with a playful smile. “He’d have been one hell of a manager!”
Harry watched Jay’s eyes crinkle, so similar to how Louis’ eyes crinkled when he smiled wide, before she pulled the cook into a quick hug, pulling his backwards cap off to ruffle his sweaty blond hair.
“What is a doc?” Harry asked one of the dishwashers.
The dishwasher stared at him, balancing a bin of clean glasses over his head. He sighed and walked away, leaving Harry staring confusedly at his back.
Watching Louis each shift got him through it. At the end of the night, eventually the horrible people would be gone and he could quietly fill shakers of molecules with Louis. Jay would bring all the employees pieces of the pie of the day, on the house, and they could drink as much soda, a bubbly, sweet beverage that made his stomach feel strange, as they wanted. Then he could go home, scrub himself with soap, and pass out, only to wake up and do the same thing every day.
He had been on Earth for a week and he was already exhausted. Even showering felt like a chore. It was so time consuming. No wonder Earth was so technologically behind Balaavos Nala; they spent half their time on toilets or in showers.
It wasn’t even like when he was at Zpace Kamp and he could send his parents letters to let them know what was going on. For all he knew, his parents had dropped him on Earth as an excuse to take a holiday in the Cydonian Islands. He was truly stuck in this steamy, achey hell.
“Hey, Haz, could you fry up a hammie for me?” Liam’s voice said over the clatter of dishwashing. He called, “I’m still waiting for that new burger, Adrian!” at the grill.
Adrian, a cook, lifted his hand and waved him away.
“You’ll get it when you get it, muscles.”
Liam sweetly reminded him, “Well done, this time. Please and thank you.”
“A hammie?” Harry asked. A worker beside him opened one of the industrial dishwashers, propelling a cloud of hot steam into Harry’s face. Harry clenched his eyes shut and turned his head away. He coughed, “What is hammie?”
“An omelet with ham and cheddar,” Liam said, reaching around him to get a cup of ice. “It’s easy and Joseph’s swamped with that Sweet Sixteen’s order. Pour some egg stuff in, then the other stuff, then mix it around. Easy peasy. Can you do it quick? My table is being a pain.” Liam pointed across the kitchen, “Adrian, I don’t see you throwing my burger on! I’ll be back in two minutes. Two minutes!”
Harry started to say, “What is ham and cheddar?” but Liam was gone halfway through his sentence.
He looked at the other line cooks and dishwashers, all hurrying around with their own tasks. He saw one of the glossy, fingerprint stained menus pinned to the wall and went towards it. The ring of green around his eyes glowed as he touched the menu with the pads of his fingers.
“Ohh,” he said slowly, nodding. His brain flipped through the pages of some cookbooks he had read in the basement. “That’s a hammie. And that’s what cheese is.” His eyes rolled up the the ceiling, his voice lower to murmur, “Mmm, tacos.”
When Liam looped back to grab his burger and omelet, he found the entire kitchen staff to be crowded around something. The kitchen was eerily silent. Louis ran into the kitchen with a tray of dirty dishes and bumped into Liam’s back. Zayn ran into Louis’ back, Niall careening into Zayn and stumbling backwards through the kitchen doors.
Niall’s voice faded further away as he said, “Well, this is going to sting,” right before the crash of his tray on the floor outside the kitchen.
“Oi, what’s going on?” Louis pushed his way to the front. “Why is no one bussing? It’s madness out there.”
The crowd opened for him. He placed his tray on a counter and walked up with his hands on his hips. A smile twitched the corners of his lips.
“What’s this, then?”
Harry placed one final sprig of dill on top of the fluffy, perfectly symmetrical layers of egg, colourful bits of ham and cheese tucked below the golden surface. Even the breakfast potatoes were symmetrical and stacked in an artistic pile, the toast perfectly browned, a fresh fruit salad glistening on the plate. Louis blinked and tilted his head.
“Is that...A hammie?”
Eric, the toilet tissue headband engineer, slapped Harry between his shoulder blades and cackled, “We’ve got Martha-fucking-Stewart over here!”
“What’s going on? What’s everyone up to? It’s madness out there,” Jay said, pushing up next to Louis. She studied the omelet, her blue eyes blinking with the same stunned slowness as Louis. “What’s this?”
“I, uh, asked Harry to make a hammie because we’re so swamped,” Liam said. He held his hand out. “And he made, like, a perfect hammie.”
Jay laughed breathily and shook her head. She reached out, her small hand squeezing Harry’s shoulder firmly.
“Harry, love, why didn’t you say you could cook? Next shift, you can be on the line. No more dishes for you.”
Louis pressed his fist to his lips to stifle a laugh at the ecstatic relief that flushed Harry’s face. Eric pulled Harry into his body and snapped his black headband, joking, "But then we won't see his pretty face as often!"
The staff all laughed loudly. Harry and Louis made eye contact through the crowd. One of Louis’ brows arched up, his smirk small but playful. Harry dampered down on his smile for all of two seconds before he smiled even wider, his chest puffing with a quick exhale and his dimples deepening. His belly felt like soda, all bubbly and sweet, even as the other dishwashers nudged and prodded at him.
"Alright, everyone, back to work," Jay said, clapping once. She shepherded the staff towards the kitchen doors. "Plenty to do, plenty to do. Niall, if you don't get Mr. Collins his pie, he might start throwing salt shakers again." As the rest of the staff filed out, she moved next to Harry and squeezed both of his shoulders. She stood on tiptoe and whispered, "Excellent work, love," while rubbing between his shoulder blades. "So happy to have you on the Tommo team."
Harry smiled and bashfully dropped his head, the soda can in his stomach overtaken by a swarm of the creatures Louis told him were called butterflies (after Harry panicked and froze one flying towards Louis on the way to work that day).
Louis whizzed by with a tray on his shoulder. He whispered, "Your face is red as a tomato," and winked, Harry laughing with even more bashfulness and heading towards the sinks. "Oi. Spaceboy."
Harry grabbed a white towel before turning.
"We're gonna go to Liam's after work to go swimming. His parents have a sick pool. Do you know how to swim?"
"I've read about it."
Louis adjusted the tray on his shoulder and smiled wider.
"You nearly drowned your first time in the shower."
"We don't shower where I'm from," Harry said, a touch huffy. He drew stares from a few busboys and dishwashers, who widened their eyes at Louis before continuing what they were doing. Louis giggled and Harry pouted. "I know how to shower now."
"You almost cried when you got shampoo in your eyes."
"You didn't tell me to close my eyes for that part!"
A busboy leaned between them, "Wait, so were you in the shower together?"
"No," both Harry and Louis said quickly.
The busboy scoffed and went to a group of kitchen staff. He thumbed towards Harry and Louis, shook his head, and handed another grinning busboy a tenner.
. . .
"Fuck. Yes," Zayn breathed, wide-eyed. "Space is the shit."
Fresh beers floated above the water.
"Why didn't you use your powers to do the dishes?" Niall asked. He cradled his beer to his chest, his eyes following the path of the other beers. "I wish I could magic away grumpy Mr. Collins."
“My mum blocked some of my abilities for my time here,” Harry said, dipping his toes in the water. He gripped the railing with both hands, letting one more toe enter the pool. “I can’t seem to use them at work and they’re weak even when I’m outside of work.”
Louis plucked his beer out of the air.
"But Mr. Collins loves you, Nialler. You’re the only one who…” Louis tried to focus on Niall, but his eyes strayed back to Harry slowly tiptoeing down the steps of the shallow end. His black swim trunks, borrowed from Louis, barely reached Harry’s mid-thigh, his hips puffing out slightly from the waistband. They really did need to go shopping. "He, uh," Louis looked away from the curves of Harry's torso, "he always requests your tables."
"That one time you had the flu and were out, he left the diner," Liam said, bringing his beer to his lips. He sipped quickly. "He sat in my section, saw my face, folded his newspaper, stood up, and said, 'Good day, sir.'"
Harry leaned against the wall of the pool. He rubbed his spine against a small circle that was spouting water. Tingles rushed under his skin to meet the pounding jet. He sank down until the water shot against his arse. He sucked in a quick breath and stood up straight, his eyes wide.
"You mean, um,” Harry moved away from the jet, “the older man with the red cap?"
"Yeah, that's Mr. Collins," Niall nodded. “He comes in a lot for dinner.”
“Oh. Right. He, um." Harry licked his top lip. He stared down the neck of his beer. "He has a son who doesn't speak to him anymore because they disagreed on money when his wife died. You look like his son looked when he was younger. It makes him happy to see you because it makes him remember a time when they got along."
Harry brought his eyes to the guys, who stared at him with shocked attention.
"How did you find that out?" Louis asked carefully. "He barely speaks."
"I could hear him. Not in a mind reader way; my mum took away that particular ability.” The guys all dropped their jaws in unison. “But I could hear his thoughts when I bussed the table behind his."
“Are you reading our minds?” Zayn asked.
“No! Not at all.”
"That sounds a whole lot like mind reading," Liam said, his brows furrowing.
“It’s not,” Harry insisted.
Louis asked, “How? How is that not mind reading?”
"We think of it more as a healing sense," Harry said with a small shrug. "Can we read the minds of other species? Sure. Easily. But we don't unless given permission. If someone's inner voice is calling out for something, anything, a trueborn Balaavos Nalaian will be able to heal and help."
"But what if we don't want your help?"
Harry blinked at Louis' question.
"Then we won't hear your thoughts. We are not an intrusive people."
Zayn placed his empty beer on the edge of the pool. He asked, "Can you hear what I'm crying out for right now?"
Harry's eyes glowed light green as a smirk curled his lips. Another beer floated from the cooler to Zayn.
. . .
“Not tired yet,” Louis explained, his hair still wet and falling in a fat curl over his eyes. “Wanna lie out for a bit.”
Harry laid his towel beside Louis’ and they settled on their backs on the grass, staring up at the stars.
“Moon tanning,” Harry said, earning a light laugh from Louis.
Only a few stars were visible. Streetlights and clouds covered what should have been a black backdrop with brownish smog. Louis tiled his head and squinted.
"Can we see your planet from Earth?"
"No," Harry said wistfully. A glowing recreation of Balaavos Nala appeared in the air above them and started to rotate. "It's too far to see, even with the strongest telescope your planet possesses."
“Do you look like us when you’re there?”
“Same number of fingers?”
“Yes,” Harry chuckled. “My body is the same as yours, but my skin is blue.”
“B-Blue?” Louis sputtered on a laugh. “Your skin is blue?”
“Not, like,” Harry pointed at a discarded bicycle on the lawn, “blue-blue, more like my skin has cool undertones because of the atmosphere, not this,” he held his arms in front of him and his lips snarled slightly, “peachy, chalky colour.”
“Is everyone blue?”
“No, we have all colours.”
"How poetic. Do you get good cell service on Belly Nelly?"
Harry chuckled and shook his head, grass crunching into his damp hair.
"We communicate differently there."
"We use devices that look similar to your phones, but we work off of a different sort of wavelength. We do a lot of communication mentally."
"How do you communicate with others who aren't on your wavelength?"
"We can give them the gift of communication, if they wish."
Louis rolled onto his side and palmed the grass between them.
"Does your planet have, like...Weather? Seasons? Does it ever rain?"
"No seasons. No rain, unless our people request it, and even then, it's not like the rain here.”
“People request rain?”
“For dramatic effect, I suppose. It's generally pleasant when compared to Earth's weather. We don’t sweat half as much, that’s for sure."
"I can't believe you don't have seasons."
"I dunno. That’s a bit weird. Seasons are kind of a fun thing about living on Earth, if you live in an area that has really significant seasonal changes. It helps you keep track of days. Months."
Harry turned over and propped his head up with his hand.
"What's your favourite? I read all about them.” He counted them off on his fingers. “Winter is snow. Spring is flowers. Summer is sun. Autumn is leaves."
"Very good," Louis chuckled, his voice similar to when he read the babies a bedtime story. "And, um, I dunno. I like bits of all of them. Not so much winter, though I do look adorable in a scarf and coat.” Harry smiled softly. “Maybe autumn the most,” Louis said, nodding to himself. “I like the leaves; how they change colours and get crunchy."
"I'd think you prefer summer."
"Oh, yeah? Why?"
"When you went to toilet, the guys said you usually get a summer love every year so you can suck face at the pool, which sounds nice," Harry's eyes shifted side to side, "I think? We don’t,” he made air quotes, “‘suck face,’ on my planet, but they made it sound like something you wanted."
Louis burst out laughing and waved his hand in front of his face.
"Oh, they're just being stupid. Don't listen to them. They’re ridiculous.”
“Am I interrupting your summer plans?”
Louis shook his head, his eyes serious.
“No. Not at all.”
Harry bit his bottom lip and broke their stare, looking down at the grass. He pet a few longish strands.
“I just...I’m sorry my parents burdened you with me. I didn’t realize Earth students value their summers so much. Our stretches of holiday time are longer at home. More time for travel and such.”
“It’s really fine. Honest. I’m doing exactly what I’d be doing if you weren’t here, but you’re here, which is cool.”
Louis smiled slowly and kicked Harry’s shin.
“Yeah, it is. Tomorrow, we can go to the mall. Get you some gear.”
Harry tilted his head.
“Gear for what?”
“Gear, like, clothes and trainers.” Another wave of relief nearly flattened Harry into the ground, a long sigh released from his lips and his limbs spread wide on the grass. Louis laughed loud and bright. “I know you said you’d be happy spending your allowance solely on Taco Bell and pie, but I think your poor toesies need actual shoes, not my old Chucks.” Harry curled his bare feet in the grass and let out another happy sound, Louis laughing softer. “Sorry we haven’t had time to go sooner. Your parents dropped you off right before a long stretch of work. A few of the regular guys are on summer hols with their families, so I usually pick up the slack.”
“I’m sure they planned it that way.”
“Probably. My mum would do the same. Mums love lessons, no matter the planet.” Louis reclined on his back again, stretching his arms over his head. He released his arms and yawned. “They’re usually right, though.”
“How do you stand it?”
“Working like you do all the time.”
Louis smiled and let out a slow sigh, his shoulders rising towards his ears.
“Dunno. I guess working like that makes you appreciate holidays and off days that much more.”
Harry’s motions stilled.
“We get off days?”
“Why didn’t you tell me!?”
Louis laughed, “You couldn’t sound more relieved. The diner’s closed on Mondays and usually I get another day off. We’re off Thursday this week. My mum said you can mirror my schedule.”
“Oh, thank the stars,” Harry gasped, falling onto the grass and placing his hands over his face. “I thought I was going to perish back there one more day. Wait.” He spread his fingers and looked at Louis. “What is Monday?”
He gasped again and spread his arms on the grass.
“Thank Jupiter. When you’re on Balaavos Nala, you’ll never have to wash a dirty dish.”
“You don’t have dirty dishes there?”
“Not in the human sense.”
Louis propped his hands behind his head and turned his face towards Harry for a moment. He watched moonlight bounce off Harry’s long waves, his eyes trailing lower as a breeze ruffled the legs of his swim trunks to reveal the slightly darkened hair of his inner thigh. Louis swallowed and looked back at the stars.
“You’re actually kind of lucky, in my opinion.”
Harry rolled onto his side but did not prop up his head, instead curling inwards on his towel.
“Why do you say that?”
“In a small way, you’re experiencing what it’s like to start at the bottom and work your way up. Some people never get that, no matter how much they try.”
“Washing dishes and carrying bins of human filth is truly the bottom of the bottom.”
“Nah. Your parents were easy on you. They should have put you in the care of...I dunno. Someone who experiences actual discrimination. Actual struggle. A woman. A minority. Someone who has a disability. That experience would be able to teach you how difficult living on Earth can be when you’re not the top of the food chain. Putting you with a white male means you basically hit the lottery.”
“Do you feel like you hit the lottery every day?”
“Not necessarily, but it’s all about perspective. You might think washing dishes is the worst, but trust me, it’s not. One thing you should remember about this planet, and you can put this in your notes, is that even if your situation feels bad or uncomfortable, you can bet that thousands, if not millions, of people are experiencing ten times worse at that exact moment of time.”
Harry’s nose wrinkled.
“That’s the truth. That’s kind of why I want to be a doctor, so I can help those who can’t help themselves. So I can take away pain and make someone’s life easier. Longer. More comfortable.”
“Is a doc a doctor?”
“Um, yeah, sometimes people shorten it to that. S’why the guys call me Doc sometimes. Why?”
“Ohh,” Harry drawled, nodding and smiling at Louis. “I get it now.”
Louis narrowed his eyes as he smiled.
“I think you’ve been drinking too much free soda, spaceboy. It’s making you weirder than usual.”
“Why do you continue onward?”
Louis’ smile half faded, his head slowly tilting. He sat up on the centre of his towel, his legs bent and crossed in front of himself.
“What do you mean?”
“What is your motivation for living if there are so many horrors going on? Some that you’re aware of, but some you may never be aware of, whether they happen or not.”
“You mean why do we all keep living if the world is sort of shit?”
Harry sat up and mirrored his position. He nodded.
Louis stared at him for a moment.
“Do you die? On your planet, is there death?”
Harry blinked, his body otherwise motionless.
“It’s different there. People age for much longer. Our time moves much slower. Some of our original elders are only now starting to pass on to the stars, and it’s by their choice. They feel they have accomplished all they wished in their lifetime. Otherwise, no, there is no death. Not by illness or old age, at least.”
Louis nodded, “Right, that’s what I sort of assumed.”
“Why does that matter?”
“Because we have an expiration date on Earth. Humans have an expiration date, regardless of faith, and most humans are aware that their body will eventually be no more. There’s no death on Balloon Noon, but there certainly is on Earth, and that tends to be a motivating factor.”
“Balaavos Nala. I’ve heard you say Balaavos Nala successfully before. Why can you not remember it?”
Louis giggled and threw a pinch of grass at Harry’s knee. Harry frowned and picked up the scraps of grass. He sprinkled them over the ground and his eyes lit, the pieces of grass fastening to grass still growing out of the dirt. Louis swallowed dryly, his hands curling on his thighs.
“On Earth, knowing that there’s an eventual end makes you want to keep working for your life,” Louis said. “We don’t know when it’s coming. We don’t choose, like your oldies. We don’t have a planet that provides us with unlimited sustenance and scrubs our pits for us. Some people on Earth might have that, but they’re the few compared to the majority. So, for the rest of us, we have to keep working to eat and live.”
“That still sounds terrible to me.”
“Again: Perspective. It sounds terrible and, at times, the rat race is terrible. I won’t disagree with you there. But working is not always a bad thing. Hard work is something that is falling out of fashion on Earth, which is a bad thing, in my opinion. You’d be shocked at how lazy so many people are.”
“You asked me to levitate your shoes onto your feet before work today because you didn’t want to get off the sofa.”
Louis’ serious expression broke into a sudden grin. Harry flattened his palm at him and Louis’ Vans floated in the air. They gently slipped onto his feet and Louis laughed, kicking them off.
“Oh my God, you made my shoes vibrate.” He wiggled his feet and laughed again, quieter. “Fuck, that felt crazy.”
Harry smiled slyly and lifted two fingers. He pointed them from Louis’ feet up to his neck. A bright sparkle of green light followed the path.
“What are you--” Louis burst out laughing, his giggles high pitched and bubbly, rolling on his towel and hugging himself. Harry’s smile widened. “Okay, mercy! Fuck,” he giggled boyishly, “quit it, spaceboy.” Louis kicked his legs away from the phantom, but still pleasant, warm tingles, Harry dropping his fingers. His laughter quieted to breathy pants, pink flush dappling his cheeks. He turned his head towards Harry. “I thought your mum took away most of your powers.”
“Keep your sparkle fingers away from my dick. I think I’ll explode if you lead me into that light.”
Harry laughed, “Oh, I learned what a dick was today! I didn’t know humans called penises dicks, but Adrian told me. Cocks, too. I thought the guys just talked a lot about preparing roosters to eat.”
“Bloody Adrian. Corrupting our space youth.”
Harry waved his palm at the sky, as if he was clearing cobwebs, and some of the smog cleared in puffs. Actual stars twinkled down at them.
“Pretty,” Louis said quietly, sliding his hands behind his head. “Wish it was always like that.”
Harry’s eyes glowed a warmer green while he stared at the stars. He rubbed his palms over the grass.
“I understand what you’re saying. About hard work, or the lack of it,” Harry said quietly. “We’ve noticed that about your people in our brief observations. But I think that if you work the way you do, the way the guys do, the way your mum and dad do, you deserve someone who will put your shoes on for you once in a while.”
“I’m not talking about, like, day to day laziness,” Louis said with a small smile. “I’m as guilty of that as the next lazy bastard. I’m talking about, like…” He squinted at a constellation that seemed to be forming into the shape of a horse. “I dunno. I’m talking about laziness in terms of the planet. In terms of good for others.”
A glowing blue globe appeared next to the recreation of Balaavos Nala. Louis studied Earth, a line of star horses trotting between their planets. Earth rotated slowly, glowing green continents forming more and more with each rotation.
Softer, Louis said, “I think it’s sad that something bad, that a tragedy, has to push people to realize they shouldn’t be shitheads one-hundred percent of the time. That sort of drive for good can inspire hope in times of struggle, but it should be the norm, not the exception.” He yawned and stretched one arm straight above his head, his other hand itching his balls through his swim trunks. “I dunno what I’m talking about. Don’t listen to me. Last term, I took a class in ancient politics and watched a lot of Game of Thrones high. I want to be a doctor, not a politician.” Louis sat up and bent his knees. “You ready for bed, spaceling?”
Harry shook his head without looking at him.
“I’d like to stay out here a bit longer, if that’s alright? You don’t have to stay with me. I’m fine on my own.”
“You wanna Star-Skype with your folks?”
Harry smiled, but his eyes did not glow, his fingers clasping on top of his flat stomach.
“Yeah, right. I don’t think that’s possible, as interesting an invention Skype may be.”
Louis stood up and bent over. He picked up his towel.
“Um, can you hear them?” He pointed at the sky. “Like, on the wavelength thing?”
Harry shook his head.
Louis’ brows pinched together as he nibbled his bottom lip. He and his mum texted each other constantly when they weren’t together, sometimes even texting while at work in the same building. His dad worked at the diner a lot, but he was always a call or text away when Louis was at uni. Plus, he had all of his friends, both at school and home, to keep him company. Harry was on a planet all by himself, thrown into tasks he’d never done, with no one to talk to from home.
“Um, tomorrow will be fun, I think,” Louis said. He nudged Harry’s ribs with his foot and Harry peered at him, his eyes wide. “We can get you clothes, get tacos, all that stuff. Fun, yeah?”
Harry’s voice was quiet, his nod tentative.
“Are you, erm,” Louis rubbed the back of his neck, “like, having fun?”
Harry’s eyes slid side to side.
“Being here. On Earth. Hanging with me and stuff.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Are you sure?”
“Why do you care?”
“Because we’re mates and I want my mates to have fun.”
“Mates,” Harry said, mulling the word in his mouth. His lashes fluttered as he thought. “Like, friends?”
“Yeah. Mate means friend.”
“On my planet, we mate with our spouse.”
Louis stifled a laugh, his closed mouth twitching. He nodded.
“Yeah, we technically do that, too, though most mate with more than their spouse.”
Harry blinked up at him.
Louis’ mouth popped open, his throat droning a long, confused sound. Was he about to have the sex talk with an alien prince? He tried to remember what was said in his sex talk, but his dad caught him exchanging handjobs with their old neighbour behind the tool shed. His version of the talk basically consisted of, ‘Don’t get anyone pregnant. Wear condoms. No means no. Be kind.’
“Um, yeah.” Louis nodded as he thought, Harry staring rapt up at him. Louis suddenly shook his head. “I mean," he pinched the bridge of his nose, "no, not everyone. But some people do.”
“And not with their spouse?”
“I mean,” Louis leaned his weight on his right leg and hugged his towel to his stomach, “some people do, some people don’t. It’s a personal preference. I, myself, would prefer to mate,” he laughed at that particular word, “as much as possible pre-spouse. Wouldn’t you?”
Harry shrugged his right shoulder forward, his fingers playing with the hem of his towel.
“Yeah, I guess.”
Louis snapped his fingers.
“Oh, while we’re talking sex, I meant to ask you. Are there, like, genders on your planet? Sexualities? And sexual preferences? Because I kind of get, like, a bi vibe from you,” Louis said as he squinted, flattening his hands and karate chopping them towards Harry, “but I don’t know if you even know what that is.”
“We love all on my planet. There are no limitations.”
“How nice for you. Must make the whole pre-spouse fucking about rather fun when you can pick whoever you want.”
“Well, no. I don’t really do a lot of that.”
“Why the hell not?” Louis snorted, jutting his hips back. “If I was the prince, I’d fuck my way through the kingdom in search of my spouse, like some sort of penile Cinderella’s slipper.”
Harry laughed confusedly, staring at Louis as if he had blue skin.
“I can’t fuck my way through the kingdom because I’m the prince. My parents are lenient, but I would never want to lead someone on, knowing that one day I’ll marry another.”
“Then how will you find the person you’ll marry if you don’t try people out?”
“I don’t search for my spouse. They’re chosen for me, of course. I’m royalty. My sister already pulled the rebellion angle when choosing her spouse.” Harry chuckled gruffly, widening his eyes at the ground. “My mum nearly caused a black hole to form when she found out Gems married a Murorian. I don’t think I’ll be granted the same luxury.”
Louis’ smile faded.
“But...But I thought you were a loving people? That you love and accept everyone?”
“We are a loving people and we do accept everyone, but I’m the prince. Apparently, it’s different for me.”
Harry nibbled his bottom lip, hugging his knees to his chest.
“You get to pick your spouse on Earth?”
“Um, I...Yes, in my culture, we pick our spouse, if we want one," Louis said, quickly adding, "though there are parts of the world where arranged marriages are still happening.”
“That’s what you call it here? An arranged marriage?”
Louis nodded. Harry stared at him for a long beat. Smog returned to dampen the stars.
“Sorry, to keep you up,” Harry said, breaking their stare. He laid back on his towel. “Goodnight, Louis. Sleep well.”
“It’s alright. Um.” Louis bit his thumbnail. “Yeah. G’nite.” He started to walk towards the house, but turned at the door. He looked over his shoulder and watched Harry for a moment. Their two planets were orbiting around each other in the sky. Louis lifted his right hand. “See you tomorrow, mate.”
A smile barely curled Harry’s lips, the corners of his mouth immediately drooping. He blinked once and both planets disappeared.
“Goodnight, mate,” he said softly.
. . .
Harry gasped and laughed, “That’s the most insulting thing you’ve ever said to me!”
Louis kicked at Harry's ankle and jerked his hands to the left.
“More insulting than the thing about spaceboys having small dicks?”
“Well, that’s just an outright lie,” Harry said as his fingers flew over the controller, Zayn cackling and bumping their shoulders together. “Poor earthling and his small brain.”
Louis grumbled, “I’ll give you a fucking earthling,” and shoved his hand against Harry’s side.
Harry’s eyes widened in horror as he continued tapping his controller, his body arching away from prodding fingers
“Wh-What do you think you’re doing? I’m a prince of--What are you--”
One loud, surprised giggle honked out of Harry’s mouth, Louis’ fingers sinking in just so on the centre of his ribs. The power blew immediately. Everything from the lights to Niall’s flat screen to their Playstation went black. Louis stopped prodding, Harry looking around the room with a guilty grimace on his face.
Niall’s mum shouted, “Niall! What the hell are you doing down there!?” from the basement door.
Niall sighed and got up, waggling one finger at Louis. Secret amusement ruined his heavy sigh.
“You and spaceboy need to keep your hands off each other. Resetting the power is a pain in my dick. Took me, like, ten tries last time."
"Thirteen," Liam said from the floor, scrolling through his phone with lazy swipes of his thumb.
"I have an idea for something we can do without the power," Harry said. He looked from guy to guy, Louis staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face. "If you feel like being a bit extreme, that is."
"Extreme?" Louis chuckled, sitting up straighter. "What do you mean?"
Harry tapped his tingling fingertips on his thighs and smiled, ducking his face down.
"Erm, remember when we drove to the mall?"
The guys all exclaimed, "No," at the same time, shaking their heads and swiping their hands through the air.
"We were there for, like, hours already," Niall said, shivering involuntarily. "You've seen the wonders of this world and the entire galaxy, yet we spent more time looking for boots and floral blouses than I spent studying my entire first year of uni."
"That's sort of more due to your laziness," Zayn pointed out.
“The mall obsession is sort of my own fault, mates,” Louis said, shrugging. “We watched Clueless the other day and he was hypnotized by the makeover montage.”
“That is a good montage,” Liam said.
"I wasn't talking about the mall," Harry said amusedly. "I meant the skate park on the way there. That's what it's called, yes? A skate park?"
"Yeah, we actually haven't been for a while," Louis said. He looked down at his black Skate Tough tank and pinched the centre of it. "Once summer hits, the place is overrun with kids."
"What about the park behind it?"
"What, the closed one?" Zayn asked.
"Closed, mate, sorry," Louis said with a shrug. "I think they didn't want to maintain two at once. There wasn’t enough funding or something. It's all overgrown and locked down."
"That's alright. It'll work."
The guys stared at Harry for a beat. Niall slowly offered, "I...Have an extra board. If you wanted to, you know,” he smiled, Louis, Liam and Zayn all smiling wider, “try it."
"Thank you, but I won't be doing much riding."
"Then,” Liam asked slowly, “what are we all going to do at an old skatepark?"
. . .
“Ho-oh-oh-oh-ly shiiiiiit!” Liam howled on a laugh, flipping backwards twenty feet off the ground. His body continued to flip and float, his voice coming and going like a vacuum cleaner. “Ho-oh-oh-ly fucking shi-i-i-it, Haaaaaz!”
Louis bent his knees and gripped the bottom of his skateboard. He approached a halfpipe and started to laugh before he even took off. Where he would usually complete a trick and skate back down the other side of the halfpipe, he was able to propel himself high in the sky.
“Fuck!” he shouted, laughing louder.
He held his skateboard to the bottom of his Vans and surfed higher in the sky. Zayn and Niall cartwheeled in the air in front of him, their skateboards long abandoned in exchange for simply flying around. Louis tipped the front of his board down and glided lower, his body bobbing a foot above the ground. He looked at Harry reclined on an old picnic bench and willed himself down.
Louis’ trainers hit the dirt and he jogged over to the bench. He grinned, breathless and sweaty, his running motions boisterous.
“This is fucking insane,” he panted, plopping on the bench beside Harry. He shoved his hand through his damp hair, his knuckles knocking his maroon beanie off. Harry smiled and tilted his head back. His eyes glowed brighter, an invisible gust of air swirling under Liam, Niall, and Zayn to shoot them higher in the sky.
“Fuck yes!” Niall cackled, spinning and flipping above the tree line, Liam cooing, “Woooo!” as Zayn babbled half terrified-half ecstatic nonsense.
Louis watched the plants of the second skate park slink back off the benches and ramps. Harry’s powers did not harm the plants; they shifted them back into the surrounding woods, like some sort of low-impact landscaper. Small zips of green light glimmered beneath the dirt, the plants growing more vibrant, the soil deepening in a richer brown colour.
“And you’re sure no one can see us?” Louis asked, glancing around the abandoned park. “I know we’re set back, but you never know if someone hears us laughing.”
Outside the locked gate, two stray dogs ran up to the CLOSED sign. They panted and stared at the abandoned park. Shrubbery was grown over the ramps and benches. The woods were silent, save for a gentle breeze. An old crisp bag rolled by and they chased after it, leaving the seemingly empty plot of land without a second glance.
“Nope,” Harry said, unconcerned. As if to demonstrate, the green light running around the perimeter of the park glowed brighter for a moment. “I wouldn’t worry about anyone hearing or seeing us.”
Louis propped his ankle on his knee, wiggling his Van.
“So, your mum took away your powers when it came to washing dishes, but you can temporarily cloak us in invisibility and teach us to fly?”
They watched the other three boys spin and soar.
“Apparently. She probably figures this is recreation to enhance my social life.”
“And this is, like, totally safe, right?”
“I think so, yes.”
“You think so?” Louis laughed.
Louis prodded the side of his hip and Harry laughed, sending the other three boys higher in the air. Their laughter mixed with Louis and Harry’s giggles. Louis slapped his thighs and stood from the bench.
“C’mon, spaceboy.” He gripped Harry’s hands, his smile small. “Come fly with me.”
Harry let Louis pull him off the bench. Their feet rose off the dirt before Louis could even pick up his skateboard, Louis giggling and holding Harry against his side.
. . .
Harry and Louis obediently walked to the kitchen sink and shoved their hands under the cool water.
“Where were you both all day?” Lottie asked, dousing her hands.
“Mall and Niall’s and then skating for a while,” Louis said.
Lottie flicked the water at him, Louis gasping and tossing a handful of water at her. Harry smiled to himself and soaped up his hands while under a splash attack from Fiz.
“Alright, everyone, alright,” Dave, Louis’ father, said amusedly, stepping between Louis and Lottie. “If you want to play with water so much, why don’t you water the lawn once in a while, hm?”
Harry glanced at Dave out of the corner of his eye. From what he had observed in his short interactions with Louis’ father, Dave was a hardworking, warm man, always smiling and supportive, especially for his children. He worked at the diner a lot, usually swapping with Jay, but was always a friendly presence, even if he was the least chatty member of the Tomlinson family.
Daisy struggled to carry a bowl of peas.
“I’ll get that,” Harry said, taking the bowl out of her arms. “Anything else?”
Phoebe ran up to Harry and held out a dish of roasted carrots. She batted her eyelashes and Harry smiled softly, taking that in his other hand.
“You’ll be a waiter in no time,” Jay said in passing, patting Harry’s shoulder.
Harry chuckled and went to the table. He sat down beside Louis, who sat, as usual, next to one of the babies. That night, he was next to Ernie, the little boy gurgling happily into his bowl of mushed carrots. Ernie waved a bright orange hand at Harry, Harry smiling at him and waving back.
“Alright, everyone. Dig in,” Dave said, holding a platter of chicken towards Jay. “Looks amazing, love.”
“Lottie is gifted at the grill,” Jay said, forking a chicken breast onto her plate. “Learned from her dad.” Lottie sat up straighter and gestured her hand in a queenly way as her siblings applauded for her, Harry applauding confusedly. Jay reached for the carrots then snapped her fingers. She stood up and pushed her chair away from the table. “Actually, before I forget.”
She rushed away from the table, Dave teasing, “Love, your chicken is going to get cold.” He winked at the table. “And Lots worked so hard on it.”
“I know you’ll both be running off right after dinner,” Jay said, walking up to to the table. She handed Harry and Louis matching envelopes. “I figured you’d want to go to the bank before work tomorrow. One of the many benefits of living with the boss.”
Harry watched Louis rip into the envelope. He made a similar motion with his fingers and ripped the top off. He pulled out the rectangle of paper. It was a paycheque made out to Harry Styles. Louis reached behind himself and snatched a pen off the cluttered countertop. He scribbled his name on the back of the cheque and folded it. He leaned over the table and popped the folded cheque into Jay’s shirt pocket, smiling cheerfully. He bopped her on the nose.
“I already told you that you’ll get every other cheque as rent for the summer.” Louis smoothed his napkin over his lap. “I’m merely holding up my end of the deal.”
“You gave me your last cheque.”
“Did I?” Louis asked, blinking wide eyed and confused.
“And, please, don’t give me money,” Harry said, taking Louis’ pen out of his hand. He made a scribbled line on the back of the cheque and held it out. “You let me live here and feed me. I need to pay rent, too.”
Jay swatted Harry’s cheque away with a playful smile. Their eyes locked for a split second, but it was long enough for Harry to dive into her subconscious.
Mortgage. Refinancing the diner. Funds for uni. Loan payments. Credit cards.
The numbers flashing in her mind were normal for a business owner, but combined with other debts would prove to be a problem over time.
“Don’t be silly, love,” she said with a cheery smile, her voice drawing him out of her brain. “You’ve helped out around here more in a week than Lou did his entire first ten years of life.”
“Hey,” Louis said grumpily. “I was ten!”
“You can use your cheque to buy more pretty shirts, Haz,” Daisy said.
“Plus, since you’ve gotten here, the basement doesn’t smell like a pot farm anymore,” Lottie said, cutting into her chicken. “Which is a delight.”
“Hey,” Louis laughed, sounding both grumpy and amused. “We smoke outside now that it’s nice out! Weed is a natural substance. The stigma surrounding it is completely ridiculous.”
Jay rolled her eyes.
“Please tell me you’re not a smoker, Harry?”
Harry dabbed his lips with his napkin.
“The one time I tried it, I felt like my lungs were dying. Like I was actually dying in the fires of hell. So, no.”
“Good boy,” Jay said, forking an extra chicken breast onto Harry’s plate.
“That’s dramatic, but very effective,” Dave said with a nod. He pointed his fork at each child. “You hear that? Smoking makes your lungs feel like they’re dying in the fires of hell. No smoking.”
Louis snorted into his peas. That was the truth. Harry’s first night on Earth included a failed attempt at using a bong and a whole lot of coughing.
The house phone rang. Louis hopped up from the table and stuck his tongue out at his mum.
“Wouldn’t want to be un-helpful, right ma?”
“Very funny,” Jay said, laughing.
Louis picked up the phone and leaned his shoulder against the wall.
“Hello?” He listened for a moment and pinched his bottom lip between his fingers. “Mm,” he grunted, nodding. “Yeah, sure, I’ll be right there. Thanks for the call.” He hung up the phone. He looked to his rapt audience of family and Harry. “That was the shoe store. There’s some sort of leak from our side of the wall.”
“Oh, no, not that again,” Jay said, standing up. Dave held a gentle hand to her stomach and eased her back to her chair. “What? I’m going to go fix it.”
“You have dinner, love. I’ll go.”
“Me too,” Louis said, picking up the remaining half of his chicken breast with his fingers. He bit into it and hopped around the table. “Ready, pops?”
Dave scooped a handful of peas out of his plate.
“Ugh, you’re both gross,” Jay said, her voice breaking into a giggle when Dave smushed his buttery lips on the bridge of her nose.
“I can come help,” Harry said, starting to stand.
“Nah, you can stay and fold your pretty shirts,” Louis winked, Harry flushing and sinking into his chair. Louis stole a carrot off Harry’s plate and licked his thumb. “We’ll be back soon.”
. . .
“Prince Sparkles? Oh, Prince Sparkles? Have you stopped looking at yourself in the mirror?” He reached the bottom and walked to the sofa. “Arise, Prince Sparkles! I come bearing caramel apple pie fresh out of the oven. A true earthly...An earthly...Delight.”
His voice tapered off. Harry’s clothes were neatly folded in a basket beside the sofa, his shoes lined up under the coffee table with a few taco wrappers folded and tucked into the rubbish bin next to the battered television. There was no sign of the alien.
Louis spun around.
When there was no answer, he went towards the heavy, metal door that led to the back garden. He pushed it open, the creak echoing around the yard, and walked onto the grass. His eyes were drawn upwards.
“What the,” he whispered, sprinting across the yard.
Inside the tree house, Harry splayed his fingers at the square of sky visible through the open roof. Sparkling light in thin green lines extended from glowing orb to glowing orb at the end of a cartoon man’s arm.
“And this is Hercules’ shield.” He smoothed his hand side to side and an outlined lion walked over to Hercules, the outlined figure bending over to pet his head. “Do you remember what this guy’s called?”
Daisy cried, “Leon! Liam!”
“Lee-oh,” Phoebe corrected, making big eyes at Harry. “Right?”
He fought a smile.
“Very good, girls.”
“I don’t get why we don’t learn this in school,” Fizzy said, her wide eyes scanning around the green star figures spread out around the entire tree house. “I’d much rather learn this than blah history.”
“Ah, but this is history,” Harry said, motioning for a pair of starry birds to fly over towards Fizzy. She smiled and ran her hand through them. “Ancient, ancient history, as the stars were here long before us and will be here long after, but history nonetheless.”
Lottie lifted Ernie up, the baby boy thrusting his stubby hands at the lion outline and cackling happily. Harry motioned for the lion to walk towards Ernie.
“He likes it so much,” Lottie said, bouncing Ernie in her lap. The lion lifted his paw to wave and Ernie made grabby hands towards it. “He’s--”
Louis’ head popped into the crowded tree house.
“What the fuck is going on in here!?” he hollered, pushing himself into the wooden box, everyone inside screaming in shock. The dish of pie splattered against the wall. Louis tried to right himself but banged his head on the ceiling, his entire family and Harry staring at him frozen in place. He looked furiously at Harry and, without speaking a word, the green star outlines puffed into thin air. “Are you fucking insane!? You can’t do this with them! I told you not to go near them!”
“Why not?” Fizzy asked, kneeling in front of Harry. “We came to him. He was only showing us constellations and stuff!”
A vein bulged in Louis’ neck as he shouted, “He shouldn’t even be alone with you!”
“Why?” Lottie asked, cradling Ernie to her chest. Doris started to whimper in her spot propped between the twins. “Why not? He’s nice and has cool stuff to say.”
Louis held his flexed palm towards Harry, his eyes wide as planets.
“Because he’s a fucking alien! He shouldn’t be alone with you and the babies! You shouldn’t even know that he’s an alien!”
Lottie rolled her eyes.
“I think you spilled the beans, Lou.”
“Me? I spilled the beans? He spilled the beans. I mean, for fuck’s sake,” he pointed at Harry and shook his head, exasperated, “how can you possibly think telling people you’re an alien is a good idea? We literally just watched all the Superman movies! You should know better!”
“We live together and they’re much smarter than you give them credit for,” Harry said firmly, his eyes starting to glow. “They knew I was different long before we started having treehouse time and they had no problem with it.”
“Treehouse time? Tree--” Louis’ voice got louder. “Treehouse time? There’s a--A special name for this?”
“I wasn’t hurting them, I would never hurt them,” Harry said, frowning. He got to his knees and moved closer to Louis, his chest puffed out and his shoulders set back. “I’d never hurt anyone. I don’t believe in violence, you know that. Just because I’m an alien doesn’t mean I can’t interact with them. Being an alien doesn’t spread like a human cold.”
“Girls and boy,” Louis barked, jerking his head towards the door. They all whined at the same time and Louis loudly said over them, “Nope. Nope. Get out. Don’t want to hear it.” He sliced his hand towards the ground. “Go to bed. Go to bed and I won’t tell mum you had the babies up here.”
Quietly, Phoebe scoffed, “Harry levitated them up, so it was totally not a big deal.”
Louis’ eyes blazed so angrily that Harry sat back on his heels, his hands folded in his lap and a wince flattening his lips.
“Get. Out,” Louis ground through his teeth. “Get out!”
His siblings shuffled out of the treehouse. Louis watched them walk across the yard through the window, ignoring the shouts of, “Bye, Harry!” and “Thank you, Haz!” and “Night night, Harry!” He waited until he heard the slam of the screen door against the doorframe and the girls’ voices fading into the house, lights illuminating their bedroom windows one by one. He swallowed and looked at Harry, his head shaking involuntarily.
“What are you even doing up here?”
“I sleep here.”
“You sleep out--” Louis’ eyes squinted, his head shaking faster. He noticed one pillow and an old duvet folded in the corner. “You sleep in our tree house?”
Harry tilted his head back and pointed up, his hair brushing his shoulders and starlight rounding the edges of his fine features.
“I’d much rather this view than the basement, no offense.” His hand dropped to his side. “At least I can see something familiar.”
A pang of guilt stabbed Louis’ belly. The basement was cozy for a night, but sleeping in a dark, dank space for any length of time had to be depressing. Some of his fury dampened, his closed lips hiding the grinding of his teeth.
“You can’t,” he started to say, his voice rough. He sighed out a huge breath. “You can’t just go around floating babies and doing laser light shows for kids, as good as your intentions are.”
“But Ernie and Dorie liked it,” Harry quietly insisted.
“It doesn’t matter if they liked it, and it doesn’t matter if the girls liked your little star display,” Louis said, crawling closer. He sat in front of Harry, mere inches between their knees. “We had an issue when one of our neighbours got a new dog, and the dog got into the bunny hutch and killed two of the bunnies overnight.” Harry gasped, his hand flying to his cheek. “Yeah, I know,” Louis said with a small nod. “And the girls were devastated. Devestated. The twins found the bloody stuff that was left and it was awful. Even the bunnies were different after that. Sadder, somehow. And you,” Louis held both of his hands towards Harry, “are basically a big bunny to them. A bunny with magic powers. And in a couple of weeks, you’ll be gone. And they’ll think you’re dead--”
“But I won’t be dead. Just tell them I’m not dead.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Louis chuckled softly. “They won’t get it. Even when my nan died, the younger ones didn’t necessarily understand it. It’s still sort of messy.”
Harry looked at him through his lashes.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you or them.”
“I know. It’s okay.” Louis’ hand landed warm on Harry’s shoulder. “I know you’re not a bad person. I know you didn’t mean to upset anything.”
“Is the pie ruined?”
“Pie?” Louis glanced at the wall. Globs of gooey apple slices were stuck to the wood and slowly sliding down, leaving paths of shiny goop in their wake. He looked back to Harry. “What, aliens can sense the energy of nearby baked goods?”
“No, I smelled it with my very human nose.”
Louis pressed his lips together, the corners of his mouth aching to rise.
“Well, I think the pie is ruined. Shame. Was my mum’s apple caramel.”
“Ooh, yeah, that’s a good pie.”
“You’ve had it?”
“Yeah, she gave me a piece at work today before she told me to head home early.”
Louis laughed out, “Sneaky! I had to fight tooth and nail to steal you some, because no man or alien should go without trying it, and she goes and gives you a piece. Easy peasy.”
“She said I was doing an excellent job on the line.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Louis said on a grumble, his smile emerging. “You’re such a suck up.”
“I am not,” Harry said with a smile.
The pie plate rattled on the wood floor, rotating until it righted itself. The remnants of apples disappeared from the wall. Louis grabbed the plate mid-air.
“Oh, nice. The crust is still alright.” Louis held out the crust and Harry broke it in half, offering half to Louis. Louis took it, the plate floating out of the treehouse and towards the back door. Louis munched on the crust. “You’re too much, spaceboy.”
“After spending so much time at the sinks, I’ve become very protective of dishes.”
Louis chuckled, sending a sputter of crumbs down his shirt. His eyes shifted sideways to watch Harry take tiny bites of the crust. He looked at the thin blanket and pillow, a frown sagging on his face.
“My mum was right.”
“I’m a bad host.”
“Why?” Harry asked, confused.
“You’re sleeping outside like a dog or something. Why didn’t you say you couldn’t sleep in the basement?”
“I could, but I prefered to sleep out here.”
Louis squinted up at the gapped roof.
“It rains at night.”
A glimmering green layer of light spread across the ceiling.
“Ah,” Louis nodded, smirking. “Very handy. A traveling sky light.” He crawled closer to Harry and lifted his chosen duvet. He recognized the worn Star Wars pattern, a sad sort of smile curving his lips. “Do you use blankets when you’re home sweet home on the old BN?”
Louis let the blanket flutter to the floor.
“You mean the atmosphere doesn’t cuddle you close at night to keep you warm?”
Harry smiled and ducked his head down.
“No. We’re actually very similar to Earth with most habits. That’s another reason we felt that offering our services would work. We’re so similar in many basic ways.”
“One of the reasons?”
“Well, we have many,” Harry said, sounding much more like a politician. “The merging of two planets, of two ways of life, is not something to be taken lightly.”
Louis sat next to Harry and stretched his legs out.
“What’s the main one?”
Harry’s head tilted.
“The main one,” Louis repeated, fluffing Harry’s duvet over their legs. “There’s got to be a main one.” He reclined on his back, pillowing his head with one folded arm. “You wouldn’t absorb a mass of people as obnoxious as us if you didn’t have another motive besides generosity.”
Harry ran his tongue over the bottom ridge of his teeth and stared out the roof of the skylight. He blinked once, looking down at Louis over his shoulder.
“We want to take planet Earth for our own.”
Louis stiffened, his bicep clenching beneath his thin tee.
“When Earth is no more, Balaavos Nala wants to take it for our own.”
Harry repeated his explanation, but Louis’ tension only grew tighter.
“So, you do have an ulterior motive. You do have something planned besides healing. What a load of absolute shit you and your parents sold me.”
“It’s not an ulterior motive and it’s not shit,” Harry said, a serious line wrinkling his forehead. “We’ll be very clear about our intentions. No one will be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.”
Louis pushed himself up on his forearm.
“I thought you were a people of peace?”
“We are. We’re farmers and healers. We want Earth so we can use our skills and abilities to restore it.”
“Why don’t you just do that now?”
Harry snorted, mirroring Louis’ position.
“Humans can barely bring themselves to vote on local government. Elections for leadership are a bloodbath. The people in power want to remain that way. You really think anyone will listen to us until there is no other choice?”
Louis’ head shook involuntarily.
“So, you’ll let our entire race perish--”
“Let? Let you perish?” Harry laughed, arching his brows. “Your people are doing a good enough job themselves. You know it’s true. If you’d prefer for us to keep our hands off, that’s fine. Don’t come crying to me in ten years when your oxygen turns to acid and your lands swallow you whole.”
Their bodies shuffled closer, their voices rising in volume.
Louis asked, “So, you’ll let an entire body of people suffer for years? Go to war with each other? You’ll allow our loved ones to die and our race to become near extinct, then swoop in like some sort of real estate vulture to take our planet and, what, build space condos on it? Interstellar gentrification? What is it, Prince Harry? Please, Prince Harry, do tell your future subject what your plans are.”
Harry’s eyes shimmered brighter, palpable heat gushing over Louis’ face.
“We will take your barren planet, mend the atmosphere that you destroyed, rebuild your extinct crops, and try to shuttle as many people back to Earth as possible,” Harry said, scarily quiet, Louis’ hand clenching in the blanket between them. “Then you and your fellow humans could start a new life. A new nation. We can’t do that if the people are unwilling, and we can’t mend an environment that is keeping billions alive for the time being. Honestly, Louis. How dull can you be?”
“Oh, I’m dull?” Louis laughed bitterly and threw the blanket off his legs. He stood up, their faces inches apart. “That’s rich coming from someone who has never lost anyone they love. You’ve never watched a loved one die. You’ve never seen anyone die. You’ve never had anything bad happen to you because your planet takes care of everything.” He touched the centre of his chest. “Excuse me if I, a pea-brained human, am a touch hesitant to move to a planet where I’ll be under the control of you and your alien gang.”
Harry squinted at him.
“Why are you getting agitated?”
Louis stopped crawling out the door. He glared over his shoulder for a beat, slowly turning to face Harry.
“Because I know that Earth is shitty,” Louis said, consonants punching off his tongue. “I know there are horrible, inexplicably terrible elements to Earth. I know that. I live here. But it’s not all bad. The people are not all bad. We are not merely numbers that need to decrease to a decided upon total so you can carry out your plan. And it fucking sucks to have a prince from Planet Perfect come to inform me that my family and friends will probably be dead in ten years due to the stupidity of our shitty planet. It fucking stings, Harry. That’s it.”
“You told me that you are aware of perspective,” Harry said, crawling behind him. “Well, here’s some perspective for you: The universe is much, much larger than you can ever even imagine. If you think getting absorbed by my planet will be the greatest tragedy of your life, I shudder to think what your opinion would be if you met most other space creatures and races. You have hit the interstellar jackpot. Stop being so stubborn and ungrateful.”
“Forget it, just forget it,” Louis said, climbing down the ladder. He held his palm towards Harry. “We sound ridiculous right now. It’s like Muse’s entire discography and a library of shitty teen sci-fi novels had a child, and we’re barfing out lines from a musical based on that child’s life. I’ve had enough monologues for tonight and I’m still half convinced you’re a figment of my childhood imagination come to life.” He hopped off the last bar of the ladder. “Sleep well, spaceboy.” Louis held up his middle finger as he walked across the lawn. “Sweet dreams of conquering Earth.”
“That’s not what we’re going to do,” Harry said loudly, gripping both sides of the treehouse door. “And I’ve read every shitty teen sci-fi novel in the basement and they all had your name handwritten inside the cover!” . . . On a planet far, far away... . . .
. . .
On a planet far, far away...
. . .
“Darling,” he rasped, slapping his lips again. “What on Pluto are you doing? It’s nearly zwota in the morning.”
Anne turned towards him, a silver robe wrapped around her body.
“Harry is upset,” she whispered, shoving her foot into a glittering silver bootie. “Can’t you feel it? He’s upset. I need to go see him.”
Robin grunted and took his round glasses from the floating table beside the bed. He pushed them onto his nose and sat up against the headboard. He lifted his right hand, soft light illuminating the perimeter of the room.
“I might have felt something earlier, yes,” Robin admitted. Anne opened her mouth but Robin shook his head. “Darling, he must figure things out on his own. That’s why he is on Earth to begin with. That’s why we placed him with Louis Tomlinson. He needed someone with strong opinions who would not be easily swayed.”
Anne crossed her arms over her chest, pacing the room.
“I still think we should have put him with the Irish one.”
“Niall Horan’s genetic makeup and personality scan implied he and Harry would be easy friends. And you read his coursework from this past year. He wrote an entire paper comparing pizza toppings to current world leaders. We both know Louis Tomlinson was the best choice for our purposes.”
Anne sighed and sat on the edge of the bed.
“I know.” She kicked off her silver bootie. “You’re right.”
Robin squeezed her shoulder.
“Relax, love. He’s a brilliant, strong boy. He’ll manage. Now, come back to bed. All will be well.” . . .
. . .
“I need a drink,” Louis said, verbalizing the thought that had been pounding through his head all day.
The diner was mobbed from open to close. Two of the cooks had called out with the flu and a total of three waitstaff were out for various reasons. Even with Harry’s extra hands on the line, food production was slow compared to the constant stream of customers. Combine that with another leaky pipe and an exploding toilet, due to a customer’s four year old child trying to flush a football sized wad of paper towels, and Louis was most definitely ready for a drink. Zayn offering his parent-free house for the night could not have come at a better time.
“While you’re here, I’d stick to beer,” Louis said to Harry. “Zayn’s punch always makes me puke, he puts so much shit in it.”
Harry nodded, his freshly brushed hair swaying beside his high cheekbones. They met eyes and quickly looked away, Liam holding the front door open for them to come inside.
Another reason Louis needed a drink was the overgrown alien child loping next to him. They had barely interacted since their treehouse spat, exchanging only necessary statements at work or around the house. Harry hadn’t used his abilities for anything since their debate and he cut off contact with Louis’ siblings, which made them whiny and quivery-lipped whenever he ignored them.
“Hello friends and loved ones,” Zayn said happily, his arms wide. “Welcome. Try the punch, Haz. It’s,” he widened his eyes, “out of this world.”
Louis snorted, pushing past Zayn to get to the kitchen with Harry following behind him.
The houseparty was already in full swing. There was their normal group with significant others and family members that came along, plus old friends home from uni and some holiday friends that came into town strictly to summer with their family. The guests got a bit murky after that. People three or four degrees away from the core group friends were seemingly pleasant but otherwise anonymous.
Harry stepped next to Louis at the open refrigerator. Louis handed him a Corona.
“Happy nearly two week anniversary, spaceboy.” He clinked their bottles. “Halfway there.” He gulped a long sip. “Livin’ on a prayer.”
“Thanks. Um.” Harry spun the bottle in his hands. “Are we--”
“Harry, no, not here,” Louis said, shaking his head. He moved away from the fridge. “Please note in your report that sentences that start with, ‘Are we okay?’ are generally looked down upon on this fine planet. Especially at a party. Parties are meant to be fun.”
Harry walked next to him, Louis’ head tilted back for a long drink.
“But you won’t talk to me,” Harry said, dodging a pair of passed out guys around a keg. “How am I supposed to know what’s going on if you won’t talk to me?”
“You’re sounding more human by the day.”
“For fuck’s sake, you’re acting like such a dick.” Harry moved in front of Louis to frown at him. “It’s not like you. That’s not who you are.”
“Suuuuper human,” Louis drawled, weaving through the crowd.
“I’m serious. We have one debate about serious issues that you didn’t find to your liking and you’re acting like a child.”
“Why do you care? S’not like anything I have to say is going to change the future.”
“Because I like your fire. I like that you have opinions and are passionate. I like that you talk a lot and think outside the box. It’s a good thing.”
Louis’ eyes rolled up to the ceiling as he chugged the last of his beer. He placed it on a fireplace mantle and held Harry’s shoulders.
“It’s fine, my prince. We’ll be fine for the next two weeks. We will survive and prosper. Now.” He patted Harry’s outer biceps, which looked especially lovely in one of his new black t-shirts. “Why don’t you socialize and find an Earth princess of your own, hmm?” He rolled his head back, gesturing to the multitude of men and women staring at Harry. Small town. Hot, mysterious guy. It made sense. “There are loads to choose from.”
Harry blinked slower, his brows inching together.
“But I don’t want an Earth princess.”
Louis cracked a smile at the childish confusion in his deep voice. His smile prompted a flicker of relieved green to flash through Harry’s eyes. Liam inserted himself between Louis and Harry, throwing his arms around Harry and hugging him tightly.
“Harry! Long time no see!”
“We saw each other at work an hour ago,” Harry chuckled, Liam ruffling his hair with both hands.
“An hour is too long between seeing these curls. Mmm, you smell of strawberries.”
Harry laughed properly, Louis smiling while sipping a fresh beer. Two women came up to them, one blonde and one brunette. Both wore dark skinny jeans and loose, beachy tank tops, the blonde wearing gold gladiator sandals while the brunette had on matching sandals in silver.
“Hey, Manda,” Liam said, half hugging the brunette. She moved on to hug Louis as Liam said, “Aly,” and hugged the blonde. “How’s it going? You just get into town?”
“Yeah, we got in late last night,” Manda said. “Zayn put a thing on Facebook about the party, so,” she flared her fingers near her face, “here we are.” She smiled at Harry and held her hand out. “Hi. Are you new in town? I don’t remember you from last year.”
“Very subtle,” Aly murmured, Louis snorting.
“Um, yeah. I’m, uh,” Harry nodded, “new.” He shook her hand. She was not thrown into a sudden orgasm, Louis noted, nor was Liam, who hugged Harry again. “I’m Harry.”
“I’m Manda. Pleasure to meet you. You here for the summer? Or did you move here permanently?”
Harry’s mouth flopped open and closed for a moment until Louis said, “The summer. He’s helping out at the diner. We’re both studying bio.”
Harry blinked at Louis and Liam raised his eyebrows with his lips wrapped around his bottle.
“Erm, yeah,” Harry said, looking back to the girls. He scratched behind his ear and nodded. “Right. The diner. Bio. Yes.”
“Oh my God, are you shy?” Aly asked, giggles bubbling in her voice. Manda glared at her while still facing forward and smiling at Harry. Aly held her palms out, laughing softly, her face bright pink. “I mean,” she knocked her fist on her forehead, “sorry, that shouldn’t have come out of my mouth that way. I just meant, like, that you’re so cute and seemed shy, which is even cuter.”
Harry’s eyes slid sideways and Louis patted between his shoulder blades.
“Well, I’ll let you all get acquainted,” Louis announced loudly. He patted Harry’s back again. “I need another drink.” The girls smiled wide, both stepping closer to Liam and Harry; they did not need to be told twice. Louis stood on tiptoe and whispered, “Have fun, spaceling,” in Harry’s ear.
Harry pinched the bottom of Louis’ tee and stepped away from the group. He whispered, “What am I supposed to do?”
“Don’t you have girls at home?”
“Are you charming at home?”
“Of course,” Harry scoffed.
“Then you know exactly what to do.”
Louis went to move away but Harry’s fingers held strong on the bottom of his tee.
“Where are you going?”
“To get another drink and hopefully some dick.”
Complete confusion clouded Harry’s face.
“Dick? Is that a person or a penis?”
Louis pursed his lips forward, weighing his head side to side.
“Preferably both at once, but I’d settle for just the latter, to be honest.”
“Harry,” Manda said, waving him back. “C’mere. We have a question. Bio related.” Her eyes landed on Louis, her brows arching. “Nick’s in the kitchen, Lou.” She winked. “Think he was looking for you.”
Louis smiled and gently prodded Harry’s stomach. The lights in the room flickered; some of the guests looked up at the ceiling before continuing to drink and chat. Louis pulled his hand back to himself. The right side of his lips quirked higher than the left.
“Have fun,” he repeated.
Harry watched Louis walk towards the kitchen.
“So, Harry,” Manda said, her voice drawing him back to the group. Harry turned around and stepped next to Liam, a few more new people staring at him. “What are you into? Are you, uh, looking for anything in particular?”
“What?” Harry asked, his brows furrowed. “What would I be looking for at a party? Do you need a drink?” He thumbed towards Louis’ back. “They have beer and punch.”
“What’s your preference, love?” Aly asked, Manda laughing and pressing her face to Aly’s shoulder. “Like…Are you interested in one or the other? Both?” At Harry’s confused silence, her deep brown eyes widened, her head tilting side to side. “Like...Men? Women?”
“Men and women, of course,” Harry said simply. “I don’t understand why humans would ever limit themselves with how much beauty and pleasure they can experience in their lifetime.”
A chorus of happy sighs surrounded Harry.
“So progressive,” Manda whispered to Aly, Aly sucking harder on the straw of her cranberry vodka.
As Harry charmed an audience of humans, Louis walked up the stairs behind Nick. Nick’s head was dropped down as he thumbed a text, Louis finishing a plastic Solo cup of boozy fruit punch. He crunched the cup in his hand and deposited it over the bannister of the stairs, the crushed plastic plopping on Niall’s hair. Niall didn’t seem to notice with his lips fused to his girlfriend’s neck.
“Any day now, Nicholas.”
“Easy, easy, eager beaver,” Nick said with his eyes still on his phone. “I think it took me longer to find a beer than for you to find me.”
“Hey,” Louis warned, poking his arse through his tight skinnies. Nick grinned at him, his large brown eyes twinkling over his shoulder. “Your sis tipped me off that you were around. Fuck buddies that are not completely incompetent are hard to come by these days.”
Nick pocketed his phone and Louis ran ahead of him. The first closed door had a sock on the doorknob; cliche, but effective. Louis went to the second bedroom and knocked. A shout from inside propelled Louis and Nick further down the hallway.
They reached a third bedroom door. Nick pressed himself against Louis’ back, his hands wrapping around his hips to hold him snugly against his groin. Louis’ head fell back to rest on Nick’s bony shoulder as he turned the unlocked doorknob, a firm hand already pressed to the fly of his black skinnies.
Louis sweetly teased, “What? Did you miss me, lover?”
“Of course.” Nick sucked beneath Louis’ ear, their feet stumbling into the bedroom. “Cried myself to sleep every night. Listened to Summer Lovin’ twenty times a day.”
“Bullshit,” Louis laughed, turning and gripping Nick’s tee.
“Missed this arse, though.” Nick pressed his face into Louis’ neck and squeezed his arse with both hands, pulling him into his body. “That’s the truth.”
“C’mere. You’re talking too much, as usual.”
Nick pushed the door closed and backed Louis up against it, their lips meeting for one biting, rapid-fire round of kisses. Louis rolled Nick’s tight black band tee up his flat stomach. Nick’s head popped out of his shirt. His quiffed hair bobbed, the smell of too much sporty cologne and not enough deodorant flashing Louis back to a few select nights the summer before.
Nick said, “Manda was seriously pulling for us to become a thing past last summer. She likes you. Thinks you’re funny.” Nick shoved Louis’ hips, Louis falling back on a bed. A waterfall of throw pillows plunked onto the floor, Louis kicking his Vans off and crawling backwards on the mattress. “Dunno what she’s on that makes you hilarious, but I want in. Must be strong shit. Ugh,” he kicked Louis’ shoes under the bed, “your feet still stink as bad as last year. Maybe even worse.”
Louis laughed, “Shut up. I just took a shower.”
He wrapped his hand around the back of Nick’s neck, both laughing gruffly before their lips met again, sloppy and with too much teeth. Louis nipped his bottom lip extra sharply, Nick’s top lip snarling.
“Did you tell your dear sister that we can’t stand each other for more than, like,” Louis took a quick breath before their lips clashed, Nick fisting the back of his hair, “thirty minutes at a time? Twice per week, if we’re being generous?”
“I did.” Nick sat up and unbuckled his belt. “I think that only endeared you to her more.”
Louis laughed and stretched out on his back, Nick spreading his long, lean body on top of him. Hot, slightly sweaty hands pushed Louis’ tee off, Louis’ arms lifting as Nick peeled his shirt over his head. Air teased over Louis’ bare chest, Nick leaning down and opening his mouth between his pecs. Nick smoothed his palms up Louis’ sides, their quickening breaths panting on top of the throbbing music from downstairs.
Nick whispered, “You still like getting bit, love?”
“Yeah, maybe a lit--Ah!” Sharp teeth sank into the thin skin of his neck, pinching tight enough to make his skin feel ready to pop. Louis half groaned-half laughed, “You fuck,” deep in his throat.
The next bite prompted Louis to buck upwards, his hands digging into the small of Nick’s back to guide their grinds. Nick unbuttoned Louis’ skinnies, slipping his right hand down the front of his boxers and gripping him tightly. Louis moaned against Nick’s cheek, Nick jerking him with short, quick motions as he nipped and sucked a bright red mark beneath Louis’ jawline.
Louis watched the ceiling fan spin ever so slowly, Nick’s wet, hot mouth nipping lower to the thin skin of his collarbone. He ran his fingers through Nick’s hair, his mouth opening for a silent scream as his right nipple was mercilessly bit.
He was aware of all of his sensitive spots getting Nick’s version of attention. Cock. Nips. Neck. The holy trinity, in his opinion. But his brain was elsewhere. His body acknowledged and understood that it all felt good, but an invisible ceiling limited his pleasure from shooting through the roof.
Nick gripped Louis’ hands and pressed them above his head on the pillow.
“Says fucking who?” Louis murmured, lowering his arms.
“Says you.” Nick pushed his hands up with a touch more force, Louis wrapping his legs around him. “I remember more than the biting.”
“Shocking. I figured all the porn you watch would have taken up any free brainpower.”
“You’re such an idiot,” Nick laughed, resuming his sucks.
Louis’ eyes fell shut, his cock throbbing against Nick’s palm and his arms stretching up to grip the headboard.
And then Nick’s tongue, teeth, lips, hands and weight were gone. Louis panted for a moment, then rasped, “What the fuck? Why’d you stop?”
He felt his tingling shoes slip back onto his feet as a deep, drawled voice asking, “Are you alright?” sank into his ears.
His eyes shot open. He blinked at the end of the bed, his head shaking involuntarily, his entire front illuminated green. He hurriedly pushed his cock back into his boxers, bending one leg at the knee to cover himself
“Harry, what the fuck!? What are you doing in here!?”
Nick floated in the air above the bed in the same position he was in mere seconds before, his eyes closed, his mouth still pursed in a bite and his hand cradling the air in the same position as where Louis’ cock was. A shimmery green web held him frozen in place. Louis sighed and sat up straight, pulling a pillow over his groin. He held his arm up towards Nick.
“What’d you do that for? Was that necessary?”
“I heard you calling out for me. I was worried.”
Louis’ jawline locked.
“I did not call out for you.”
“I heard you,” Harry said, tapping his temple. “You were saying my name. I heard it.”
Louis’ face flushed with immediate, uncontrollable heat, but he couldn’t look away. His heart pounded in his ears, his cock throbbing harder and deeper, as if his brain, heart, and cock were trying to answer Harry’s question truthfully.
Louis broke their stare, clenching his hands in the pillow over his groin.
“I didn’t call you,” he grit out. “I didn’t say anything.”
“You did. I heard you.” Harry lifted his hand and Nick’s frozen body floated higher. “What’s wrong? That man was biting you.”
Louis sucked in a quick break before blurting out, “I--I wasn’t calling out to you. I didn’t--Yes, he was biting me, because I like it. Getting my neck bit sometimes. We were hooking up. You didn’t have to come in here like--Like--” He jerked his hand upwards. “You didn’t need to freeze him. He wasn’t hurting me. I’m a grown man, Harry, and sometimes I fuck--I mate with people and sometimes that includes neck biting, alright?”
“Oh. Then...Then why were you calling out for me?”
Louis swallowed thickly and stared at the duvet. Genuine confusion rang in Harry’s voice, Louis willing his brain to remain silent and still.
“Oh,” Harry whispered into the silence. “Ohhh.”
Louis’ eyes clenched shut. He blew a slow breath out of his lips and fell back on the bed.
“So, you were thinking of, um,” Harry bunched his hands in the bottom of his tee, “while you were, uh…” He backed towards the door, his palms rubbing over his outer thighs. “Sorry, I’ll. Uh. I’ll see you later. Sorry.” He held his hands out. “So sorry to interrupt. Sorry, Lou. Won’t happen again.”
Harry looked at Nick and lowered his gaze, Nick’s body fitting perfectly with Louis’ as if he hadn’t been hovering in the air. Louis watched Harry step out of the room and pull the door shut, Harry’s head facing away from the bedroom as Nick’s lips started to nip at Louis’ skin. The door clicked shut.
Louis let out a sigh and shifted under Nick, suddenly uncomfortable. Nick hummed and rubbed him through his jeans, Louis squirming again. He felt his Vans tingle for a moment. Invisible hands delicately pulled them off his feet and tucked them beneath the bed. . . .
. . .
“Always a pleasure, my little nugget.”
“Fuck you.” Louis smoothed his tee down his stomach. “You’re not dragging that into this summer.”
“When you drink too much Fireball and puke in my mum’s minivan on the way to McDonalds, then insist we should still go to McDonalds to get nuggets with sick on your face, the nickname little nugget is all but engraved on your tombstone.”
“I hate you,” Louis said, smiling despite his statement. Nick winked and slapped his arse, Louis flicking his hand in Nick’s face. “We’re past the thirty minute mark. Get out of my sight.”
Nick made a kissy face.
Louis pushed his face away with one hand, adjusting himself in his skinnies with his other hand. He tilted his head left to crack his neck. His attempt to scratch an itch with Nick only made the itch more obnoxious. Even Nick’s best effort could not wipe away the tense fog that followed him around like a cockblocking rain cloud.
He went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. The Coronas were gone, as were all of the other decent beers. He tilted a bottle of some sweet raspberry malt drink towards himself. He paused, his head leaning sideways. He peeked around the refrigerator door.
There were party guests flitting about, but no one seemed to be looking his way, despite it sounding like someone said, ‘Louis,’ near his ear. He shrugged and replaced the raspberry drink on the shelf, searching in the back for a can of some beer or another.
Then the voice came again, sounding even more like someone saying his name. He shut the refrigerator and walked towards the back garden. Zayn, Liam and Niall were sat around a fire pit with half of the party’s guests, one of their other friends, Ed, strumming a guitar to lead a sing-along of Wonderwall. Louis shoved his hands in his pockets, the air not nearly as warm as previous nights that week.
“Hey,” he said, standing behind Liam.
Liam smiled at him upside down.
Louis glared across the fire at Nick, who cackled so loudly his beer sprayed into the fire.
“Have you seen Harry?” Louis hugged his arms around his chest, his nipples prickling against his thin tee. “I shouldn’t have left him alone that long. Why am I such a dick?”
“He’s not a puppy, mate,” Niall giggled. “He’s a big boy.”
“He’s fiiiine,” Zayn said, sharing a smile with Niall. “More than fine, probably.”
Louis asked, “What’s that mean?”
“Aly and Manda said they wanted to show him the stars,” Liam said, his voice breaking into a laugh. The other two laughed along with him. “If only they knew who they were trying to impress with astrology.”
“Astronomy,” Zayn gently corrected.
Louis felt the itch covering his body deepen, a dull ache building behind his eyes. He squeezed the bridge of his nose.
“What, are you jealous?”
Louis opened his eyes and looked at Liam.
“I mean, you did just get a blowjob, yeah?”
“Mostly hand.” Louis’ eyes twinkled mischievously. “Nick’s a shit lay.”
“Fuck you,” Nick laughed from across the fire.
"And why would I be jealous of Harry hooking up? I don’t care what he does.”
Cheerfully, but carefully, Niall explained, “Well, we all sort of thought you two had something going on, but you’ve both been so fucking weird around each other the past couple of days. We didn’t know what was up.”
Louis straightened his fingers on the sides of his thighs.
“Reminder: I’ve known him all of two weeks. We don’t have a history. And we’re weird because...” He shook his head. “It’s stupid. It was a stupid arguement. Nevermind.” He felt pressure behind his sinuses again, his eyes blinking faster. “Fucking allergies.”
He walked away from the fire pit and went around the side of the house. The tiki torches and fairy lights faded into the background, nothing but moonlight guiding Louis’ way. Zayn’s parents didn’t have neighbours on one side of their home, only a wide open plot of land before some dense woods. The open patch of grass and semi-private location became known as the place to show someone the stars almost as soon as the boys learned what they preferred doing with other people in private.
He heard wet, clicking, sucking sounds before he reached the furthest part of the lawn. Another whisper of his name echoed in his head, his eyes clenching shut for the last few steps. He stumbled over something and opened his eyes. A gold gladiator sandal was wedged under his shoe. He looked forward across the path of shoes.
Harry was on his back, Aly curled on one side of him, Manda on the other. The girls were taking turns kissing him, their hands smoothing circles on top of his t-shirt as their lips pressed and sucked. Harry’s shirt was hiked up a few inches on his abs, his neckline tugged lower on Aly’s side.
The wet sounds lined up with the motions of their heads tilting together. Louis watched them switch positions once. Manda kissed down Harry’s jawline to suck at his neck and Harry let his head loll sideways. Aly cradled Harry’s face and tilted it her direction to open their lips together, Harry’s hand flat on the side of her neck.
Louis wondered, in that moment, what it felt like to possess the ability to throw sheets of light over people to lift them and float them away, much like Harry did to Nick when he saw Louis with him. He had no reason to do it; he did not think Harry was in danger of being bitten to death, though the girls were on the brink of tonguing him into the ground. The space behind his eyes ached again, his name pounding in his brain.
Louis. Louis. Louis.
And then the whisper of his name became fully fleshed, Harry’s voice asking, “Louis?”
“Yes. Hi,” Louis said. He blinked his eyes open and lifted one hand to wave. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Harry said slowly, Aly still kissing his neck. “Um.” He eased his head sideways, pushing himself up with his hands behind his bum on the ground. “Hi.”
“Sorry. I’ll, uh,” Louis pointed over his shoulder, “leave you be.”
Harry sat up straighter.
“You don’t have to.”
“Yeah, you can join!” Manda said happily. “I mean, I know you and my brother have exchanged some fluids, which is sort of,” she dry heaved, “but we could make it work for everyone.”
“Totally,” Aly said, quirking her finger at him. “Nick said you’ve got a pretty cock.”
“Thanks for the offer, but no,” Louis said, his smile shy. He ran his fingers through his hair, glancing at Harry. Harry avoided his eyes, the alien’s cheeks stained pink. “Erm. Forget I was even here.”
He turned and walked away. He could hear bodies shifting on the grass. Harry’s voice, and the echo of his own name, rang over and over in his ears.
“I’m actually, um,” Harry said as he eased Aly’s hand off his stomach, “kind of in the mood to head back to the party. What do you two think? Is that alright?”
Manda and Aly stared at him.
Aly drawled, “Uhhh, are you…” She laughed and squinted. “Are you serious?”
“Yes, why?” Harry asked.
“Oh!” she chirped, her eyes swaying side to side. “Um...No reason, just that...” She and Manda looked at each other, then looked back to Harry. Aly raised her eyebrows. “This is pretty bloody amazing, yeah?”
Manda said, “Yeah,” with wide eyes. “You’re gorgeous and kiss, like, perfectly.”
“Like, perfectly,” Aly echoed, nodding quickly. “It’s like you can read our minds.” She smoothed her hand over his thigh. “You’re so hot.”
“And we’re up for whatever,” Manda said. “Whatever you want to do.”
Harry continued to stare at them. After a beat, Aly laughed, “You actually are serious, aren’t you?”
“You’re both lovely and this experience was even more lovely.” He wrapped his arms around Manda and pulled her into a warm hug. “Thank you.” Manda stared at Aly with her chin tucked into Harry’s shoulder, both girls bulging their eyes. He turned towards Aly and hugged her with equal warmth, Aly’s eyes fluttering shut as she cuddled into Harry’s hug. “Thank you so much.”
“Um, yeah,” Manda laughed, confusion lightening her voice. “You’re welcome.”
“Anytime,” Aly said, giving his shoulder a quick kiss.
In the crowded kitchen, Louis opened the refrigerator. The raspberry fizzy berry drink had been taken.
“Damn it,” he whispered.
Louis closed the refrigerator and found Harry to be standing beside him.
“Hey.” His eyes flickered to the Corona in Harry’s hand. He crossed his arms over his chest, leaning his shoulder on the fridge door. “Where’d you get that? The Milky Way?”
Harry pulled out another Corona from behind his back.
“Nah. Zayn has extras hidden in his dad’s mini-fridge in the garage.”
Louis gasped, taking the bottle from him.
“I can’t believe he told you and not me. My heart is broken.” He sipped and shook his head. “Cheers, nonetheless.”
Harry smiled wide enough for his dimple to pop. He sipped at the same time as Louis, his nose wrinkling ever so slightly as he swallowed. He looked at his boots and cradled his beer against his stomach with both hands, condensation from the bottle dampening his tee. Louis licked the rim of his beer.
“What?” he asked.
“Did you…” Harry reconsidered his words for a moment. “Are you having a nice time?”
Louis smiled and tapped his bottle’s rim against his bottom lip.
“Yeah, it’s alright. Are you?”
“The party is nice, yes.”
“Nice,” Louis chuckled. “Nice? The two hottest girls at the party wanted to have an outdoor threeway with you, and you’re having a nice time?”
Harry smiled and drawled, “What? They are nice. The party’s ni--” He laughed suddenly and shook his head, Louis laughing along with him. “Stop laughing. I keep saying the word nice, but I don’t mean to. I...I can’t think of another word to describe it.”
“You seemed to be enjoying yourself.”
Harry shrugged his right shoulder forward.
“It was alright.”
Louis snuffled a laugh and sipped his beer.
“You’re funny, spaceling.” His eyes scanned from Harry’s boots up to his high cheekbones. “I half expected to see a dome of golden light when I walked up to you and the girls, but it was sadly just three humans sticking their tongues in each other’s mouths.”
“Why would you see light?”
“Because you have a habit of,” Louis pushed his knuckles against Harry’s knuckles, “lighting shit up when people touch you.”
The kitchen lights swelled brighter and the ring of Harry’s eyes glimmered with green sparkles. Harry pulled his hand back, his throat bobbing and his eyes skirting away.
“Yeah, but that’s…” Harry swallowed the rest of his beer. He looked at Louis through his lashes, his full, pink lips trembling open and shut. “That’s…That’s because it’s you.”
Louis snorted, his chin melting into his neck.
“But why would it matter if it was me touching you?”
Harry said nothing. His lips twitched and his knuckles went white while clenching around his empty beer bottle. Louis’ easy smile faded.
“Oh,” he whispered. Harry nodded and widened his eyes at the floor. Louis thought he heard Harry gasp out the word, 'Yeah,' but his voice was hidden by pounding house music. “You…You like me.”
Harry smiled to himself and tucked his hair behind his right ear.
“I don’t know.”
“Then how do you know you like me?”
“Because when I’m around you, when you talk to me, it’s like all the books in the basement.”
Louis’ head shook as Harry spoke.
“You shouldn’t read so many books like that, Harry. They’re not real. Relationships like that aren’t real,” Louis said slower, his breaths tremoring out of his chest. “They’re fairy tales. They would never work in real life, not on Earth, at least.”
Louis started to walk out of the kitchen and Harry followed him, his voice quiet but firm beside Louis’ ear.
“I read your science textbooks, too. Every single one of them from every level of your education. I read all about human attraction and arousal and chemistry, both literal and figurative, and I feel it when I’m with you.” Harry’s breath stuttered unevenly. “I feel it, Louis.”
“Harry, please,” Louis pleaded, his head shaking faster. “It’s not real. This,” he gestured between them, “isn’t real.”
They walked out the front door onto the lawn, side-stepping a pair of passed out people still clutching their punch filled Solo cups.
“Did you ever think you’d meet someone from another planet?” Harry continued. “Did you ever think that aliens were real? I’m living, breathing proof that it is real. That things believed to be fantasies or fairy tales are real.”
Louis inhaled sharply through his nose and stopped walking. Harry’s breaths panted behind him, coming closer until Louis could feel warm air puffing on the back of his neck.
“You don’t even know me,” Louis said, clenching his fists at his sides. “How can you say you like me?”
“Why are you running away from me?” Harry brushed his fingers along the outside of Louis’ wrist. The streetlights glowed brighter, Louis able to hear his name chanted within his head, each chant ringing in Harry’s voice. “Is it the same reason you were calling my name while that guy was--”
Louis turned around.
“Yes, alright? Yes,” he said quickly, his hands clenching on his hips and bunching the bottom of his tee. He looked up at the stars for a moment before looking back to Harry’s relieved face, streetlights throbbing and pulsing around them with the whitest, purest light he’d ever seen. “Yes, I like you. I barely know you, but I like you, and I was fucking thinking of you, wishing it was you, when I was with him. There. Are you happy? I like you, even though you’re a space prince who will never understand what it feels like to be a human who likes someone they can never have. I like you.”
Harry’s lips fell open as people started to pour out the front door. Harry and Louis looked at each other for the briefest of moments then looked away. The streetlamps dimmed to their normal light. Louis stuck his hands in his pockets, Harry wrapping his arms around his chest. Liam jogged up to them holding a case of Coronas on top of his head.
“Hey, wanna go play Mario Kart at yours? The party is sort of done. Zayn’s brother is emptying the house. One of those ice cream shop douchebags tried to steal one of Zayn’s action figures. Fucking froyo freaks. I think you know how that ended. Oh.” He winced and shrugged his shoulders at Harry. “Zayn really likes his action figures. Not sure if you knew that. Oh, and action figures are these little plastic, like, figures. And froyo is frozen yogurt.”
“Yes, I know,” Harry said quietly. His eyes slid to Louis, who stared right back at him. “I may be from another planet, but I’m not an idiot. I am the crowned prince of the Northern Universe. I received the highest education possible on my planet from the greatest teachers of any galaxy or universe. I have studied human life for years. I know, erm,” he broke Louis’ stare, his voice softening, “what action figures are and that froyo is delicious.”
Liam held out the word, “Okaaaay. Fair enough. So?” He jiggled the case of beer and smiled, a touch sheepish. “Niall’s already on his way to your place, by the way. Zayn, too. They wanna set up the game outside. With the projector on the house, you know? It’s so lovely tonight.”
Louis sighed and half nodded, spinning on his heel and walking down the lawn. . . .
. . .
Zayn buffed his fingernails over his tank.
“What can I say? I’m a gifted DK.”
“Donkey Kong isn’t even a real character from a proper game,” Liam muttered. He put his controlled on the ground. “He shouldn’t even be a choice.”
“Aw, poor baby,” Niall said, still giggling. He pet Liam’s buzzed hair. “Do you wanna be Wario next round? I can be Yoshi. You’re extra shitty when you play as Toad.”
“Maybe,” Liam sniffed, picking up his discarded controller.
Louis saw Harry come out of the back door holding a white plate.
“I’m out this round,” Louis said, pushing himself up off the blanket. He walked to a second blanket set up a few feet further into the back garden. “My hands need a break.”
“Haz?” Niall asked.
Harry’s eyes snapped away from Louis’ back to smile at Niall.
“I’m out, too. Gonna have a snack.”
The guys started to boot up a new race. Harry walked to the other blanket, his bare feet sinking into the grass. He reached the blanket as Louis plopped on his bum.
Louis laid on his back and stretched his legs out, his hands tucked behind his head.
“Oh, good,” he said with a small smile. “You brought me pie. You really do read minds.”
Harry chuckled and knelt on the faded Star Wars blanket. He placed the plate between them. He split the crust in half and offered the bigger piece to Louis. Louis reached up for the crust and their fingertips brushed, crumbs glowing green and falling to the blanket like tiny fireworks. Harry sat next to him on the blanket, both staring at the enormous projection of a Mario Kart round.
“I thought your mum made it so your body was like a normal human,” Louis said, munching his piece of crust. “But you’re always going green.”
“Yeah, I dunno. Sometimes I feel my abilities, sometimes I don’t.” He took a small bite. “It depends on the situation.”
“So, like…” Harry saw Louis’ fingers pinch off the tip of the strawberry rhubarb pie in his peripheral vision. “When you were with the girls, you felt human?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Lie back, would you? You’re gonna give me a crick in my neck.”
Harry gulped the last bite of his pie crust. He wiped the back of his hand over his lips and laid back, turning on his side. Louis’ lips curled upwards as he sucked sweet, strawberry pie off his thumb. He rolled onto his side, their feet inches apart on the bottom of the blanket. Louis’ thumb popped out of his mouth, the tip of his tongue quickly darting out on his bottom lip. Harry’s eyes, glowing brighter green by the second, followed his every motion.
“Funny how you’re the one with powers, but stuff like this...” Louis ever so softly brushed his toes against the front of Harry’s ankle, earning a gasp of tingling breath over his face. “Makes it seem like I’m the one with powers.”
“Which you like.”
“Having the power.”
Louis smiled, lopsided and slow.
“What, you heard my subconscious say that?”
“No, I have eyes. And ears.”
“Ha ha,” Louis said, Harry giggling quietly. Louis’ smile evened out, his hand flattening on Harry’s cheek. “You have sweet eyes” He thumbed beside Harry’s eye, letting the pads of his fingertips stroke the baby soft hair at Harry’s temple. “They’re pretty. Do they look like this when you’re at home?”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
Louis’ eyes snapped to Harry’s face, his quiet question a whisper over the inside of his wrist.
Harry continued, “You know I like you. You know when you touch me it…” His eyes darted side to side. “It makes me crazy. So why are you doing this to me? Is this a human thing?”
Louis lowered his hand to Harry’s neck, keeping his touch gentle to rest his fingers beneath his ear.
“Because when I was a kid, a little one,” he wrapped one of Harry’s curls around his index finger, “we had a pen pal project in school where we had to pick a foreign country to send our letters to. I asked the teacher if I could send my letter to space, incase there was a kid my age in space doing the same project, and she nearly laughed me out of the classroom.”
“I would have been your pen pal,” Harry said softly.
The skin beside Louis’ eyes crinkled, his smile small.
“And then, when I was a bit older, I was obsessed with Star Wars and telescopes and planets and comets and anything and everything I could get my hand on about space. I think I had a Star Wars birthday party for as many years as the party decorations lasted before they disintegrated. Annoyed the shit out of my mum, I’m sure, but she humoured me.
Anyway, I had to do a big project at the end of the school year related to what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I told my science teacher I wanted to be a doctor for space people, not to be an astronaut, he nearly laughed me out of the classroom and told me to be a human doctor. To focus on Earth. To forget about space. A science teacher told me to forget space. That’s fucked up.”
“And so I decided to drop the space stuff, even though I always had a weird...A weird pull towards it. And now,” Louis huffed a laugh, his fingers twitching, “I’ve got a fucking alien laying next to me, and I want to kiss him so, so fucking badly, but I’m unsure if I’ve lost my mind.”
“Your mind is more powerful than you understand,” Harry whispered, cradling the back of Louis’ head. “You haven’t lost it. Merely,” he smiled crookedly, “widened it, a bit.”
Louis took the piece of pie between them and placed it on the grass. He brought himself close enough for Harry’s clothes to brush against his own, their warm breaths puffing over each other’s faces. Louis flattened one hand on Harry’s hip.
“Alright, so I’m gonna kiss you now, but you’d better appreciate what a gift you’re getting in your short time on Earth. You like a boy and he likes you back and you’re going to kiss each other, which is something not all humans ever get to--”
“Yeah, yes, okay, whatever,” Harry blurted out, uncharacteristically impatient. “I’ll put it in my notes. Kiss me, please. I don’t have all...All...”
Louis smiled and brought his lips closer, walking his fingers up Harry’s stomach to touch his collarbone. Harry’s half lidded eyes grew heavier and his hand clenched in the Star Wars duvet, a butterfly army attacking his entire body. His knees knocked against Louis’ knees, their feet tangling together.
“I’m sweating,” Harry whispered, his breaths panting against Louis’ lips. His brows pinched together ever so slightly. “Should I be sweating?”
Louis shuddered a silent laugh and stroked the hair above Harry’s ear, tucking it back and smoothing his hand down to rest on the side of his neck. He felt Harry’s pulse hammering against his skin.
“Yeah. That’s a good thing,” Louis said, thumbing his pulse point. “It’s good.”
A burst of gold air, minty and sweet, puffed out of Harry’s mouth. Louis breathed in, gold funneling into his lungs, his face leaning closer until their lips met. Harry’s eyes fluttered shut as his lips were gently sucked on, Louis’ warm hand soothing up the side of his neck to bunch in the bottom of his hair.
Niall’s excited voice echoed in the background, “Holy fuck, look at the screen!”
Both Harry and Louis had their eyes closed and could not see the projection of Rainbow Road against the side of the house glowing so bright it bathed the entire back garden in illuminated rainbows.
Then Louis was pressing soft, easy kisses to Harry’s plush lips, tiny bursts of gold panted out between their mouths. Harry’s fingers moved across the duvet and bumped into Louis’ stomach, Louis smiling mid-kiss and breaking away to suck in a quick breath.
The blue of his eyes seemed to glow brighter, his breaths puffing gold against Harry’s slackened lips. Colours spilled over them in the form of beams of light, the video game’s music slowing as they kissed again and again.
Louis’ left hand continued to soothe Harry’s neck, tucked warm between blazing skin and the worn blanket, but his right hand moved behind Harry, slipping up under the bottom of his black tee. He flattened his hand on the small of Harry’s back, gently guiding him closer and opening their lips together.
Harry was so fascinated by the strange pressure Louis’ lips could apply to his mouth. One second his lips were silken and pliant, urging Harry to press his lips harder. The next second his lips were firm and more dominant, causing Harry’s own lips to smush and slide. Each time their tongues brushed, whether accidental or intentional, Harry’s arms wrapped tighter around Louis, Louis’ quiet noises lost on Harry’s tongue.
Two heartbeats pounded faster and faster in Harry’s ears. He could hear Louis’ blood pumping through his body, the hissing, racing sound so similar to the noise comets made at the peak of their journey.
Louis’ fingernails teasingly dragged down the small of Harry’s back and Harry hummed. An invisible burst of air inserted itself between Louis’ body and the blanket, pillowing Louis for a journey to lie on top of Harry, all with Harry’s hands still rubbing up the back of his shirt. Louis started to laugh.
“What?” Harry asked, his eyes on Louis’ lips. “What’s funny?”
“Nothing.” Louis grinned and flattened on top of Harry, gripping his hair with both hands. “I didn’t know spaceboys were so forward.” He kissed Harry firmly, their lips slotting together to suck for a long, hot beat. He nipped the right corner of Harry’s lips. “Good to know. I like it.”
He went for another kiss but Harry’ mouth stuttered open, “Wait, are we sucking face right now?”
Louis’ brows arched, fond amusement lighting his face.
“Yeah, we are. Why?”
“No reason. Checking terminology.”
Louis grinned wider.
“Well, in that case, yes, we’re sucking face right now. Later, I’d like to suck your cock, which is not a rooster, but is this,” Louis ground his hips in a deep circle, “lovely bit of you.”
Harry nodded quickly, his hips arching up and his head pressing back against the blanket.
“O-Oh, okay. Yes. More, please.”
“Of course, my prince.”
Harry’s eyes clenched shut with a soft moan and Louis laughed loudly, kissing down his neck.
Rainbow Road ended amidst screams from all three players, two of the controllers tossed on the ground while one remained clutched in Zayn’s hands, Zayn laughing silently on his back.
“I fucking told you not to be Toad again,” Niall giggled uncontrollably, Liam sighing and kicking his controller aside. “Why are you so emotionally connected to Toad?”
“I like Toad, alright?”
“You look like Toad,” Zayn cackled from his back, Liam rolling on top of him and digging into his ribs. Zayn and Liam rolled around the blanket in a collection of elbows and knees. “Oi! Hey! Fuck off, Lima!”
Niall sighed and tossed his empty beer on the grass.
“Could you two fuck already? Jaysus.”
That threw a bucket of cold water on the wrestling duo, who froze and backed away from each other. The three boys all resumed their playing positions, lined up beside each other and sitting crosslegged facing the projection.
Zayn called, “Guys, you want next? You’ve been eating that one piece of pie for, like, twenty minutes.”
Neither Louis nor Harry replied. A soft gush of cool air flowed over Niall, Zayn and Liam’s backs.
“Guys?” Liam asked, selecting Toad as his character. “You wanna play?”
When there was no response, Liam glanced over his shoulder. He smiled slowly, his elbows nudging both Zayn and Niall. The guys turned around, their smiles just as slow and knowing.
Harry and Louis’ blanket floated five feet in the air, the material undulating beneath them as if they were on a waterbed. The blanket rotated slowly, giving them a distant view of Harry and Louis laying on top of each other, their lips deeply sucking, their hands moving over each other’s bodies.
“Talk about needing to fuck already,” Liam laughed.
“S’about time,” Zayn said, refocusing on the game. “They’ve only been teasing the shit out of each other since Harry landed on Planet Earth.”
Niall commented, “Guess Lou found his summer suck face. Poor Nick will be so disappointed.”
“I think Harry actually found Lou this time,” Liam said.
The blanket lifted higher off the ground as the guys babbled. An army of pulsing fireflies surrounded the floating blanket, accompanying them on their journey up to the treehouse. . . . On a planet far, far away... . . .
. . .
On a planet far, far away...
. . .
“Oh, love,” she whispered, patting the centre of Robin’s chest. “Do you feel that?” She shook his shoulder. “He’s happy again! Harry’s happy again!”
Robin flipped onto his stomach and mumbled, “Mmm, very happy, it seems.”
Anne sighed with a big smile and smoothed Robin’s sleep cap on top of his head.
“I’m so relieved he’s having fun again. I was terribly worried.”
“As am I, darling. Wonderful news for all parties involved.”
They both exhaled happy sighs as they settled back into bed. A beat passed before Anne’s eyes flew open.
“Oh,” she said, uncomfortable. Her eyes darted sideways across the ceiling. “That’s...Oh. Oh, no.”
Robin’s body bounced with chuckles as he said, “Very, very happy, apparently,” and Anne pinched his bicep, Robin laughing louder. . . .
. . .
“Do you know what it means? What it is?”
Harry’s eyes rolled slowly to stare at Louis, Louis smirking at him with his hand already down the front of Harry’s jeans.
“I was educated on another planet, but even on Balaavos Nala, we have blowjobs.”
“Have you ever had one?”
“Of course. Not with my human body, but yes, of course.”
Louis laughed and held his palms out.
“Well, excuse me, Prince Sex. You made it sound like you hadn’t done anything with anyone.” He pulled his tee up his stomach, his soft abs scrunching. “And here I was trying to be a gentleman.”
“No, I didn’t say that.” Harry helped him take his shirt off, his lips leaving trails of heat as they brushed over Louis’ collarbones. “I said I had to be careful because I’m the prince. I’m not a Relinary Ursa.”
Louis’ head popped out of his shirt.
“What the fuck is a Relinary Ursa?”
“Oh. Uh, I guess the human equivalent would be a monk.” Harry dropped his shirt on the treehouse floor and went for his neck, his hands smoothing up Louis’ front. “Are monks still a thing?”
“Yeah, they’re still around.”
“This is the weirdest dirty talk I’ve ever been a part of.”
Harry blinked up at him.
“What’s dirty about it?”
“Exactly,” Louis laughed, grinning so wide his eyes crinkled. “Monks. Relinary Ursa. Hot stuff, babe.”
He pushed Harry’s shirt up his stomach and Harry got to his knees. He lifted his arms, ducking his head down enough for Louis to pull his shirt off. Louis attached his lips to Harry’s collarbone, Harry smiling and stretching his head backwards. He fumbled to grip the waistband of Louis’ jeans, Louis’ hands dropping from Harry’s pecs to unzip himself. Louis’ head bumped the wall and both laughed, Louis guiding Harry onto his back.
Louis pressed his lips down Harry’s stomach. Firm, slow kisses dripped down the centre of his abs until he reached his navel. Louis’ tongue licked through his fine hair and Harry shuddered beneath him. He kissed lower as he pulled Harry’s jeans down, Harry’s fingernails digging into the wood floor.
Harry’s cock popped out, precome wet on his rosy head. A wave of heat and soap and boy sweat pummeled Louis’ senses, along with a familiar ripe sharpness that made his mouth water, his tongue extending towards Harry’s cock to lap at his head.
Harry groaned and clenched his hands at his sides.
“Hello, old friend,” Louis chuckled, watching Harry’s cock bob in front of his face. “Huh.” Louis thumbed over his head and Harry hissed, his lower back arching. Louis popped his thumb into his mouth. “I figured your come would be all sparkly or glowing or something but it’s normal, if not a bit sweet. Probably all that pie you’ve been eating.”
“I’m in a human state right now,” Harry said tightly.
Louis dragged the very tip of his tongue up the underside of Harry’s cock, Harry’s hips lifting to follow the teasing licks.
“Hmm, you are in a right state, that’s for sure,” Louis murmured, kissing the crease of his thigh. He wrapped his hand around the base of Harry’s cock. “Relax, love. It’s just pleasure.”
“We experience pleasure differently at home. More mental, less physical.”
Louis brows quirked.
“Oh. Well,” he started to slowly jerk Harry, letting his lips ghost over his head, “you’ll have to tell me which you prefer.”
He opened his mouth and enveloped Harry’s head, the inside of his cheek puffing out, his tongue lapping repeatedly under his head.
“Oh, fuck,” Harry gasped out, wide-eyed.
The streetlamps for the entire block blew a fuse, Harry’s soft moans and Louis’ snuffled laughs drowned out by the hissing of electricity relighting the lamps to full brightness. . . . On a planet far, far away... . . .
. . .
On a planet far, far away...
. . .
“Maybe you were right,” Robin said gravely. “Maybe we should have put him with the Irish one, not the cute one.”
“I believe I was right, yes.”
Robin sighed, “Bloody Jupiter, is this going to become a thing now? He’s been with a human. Big deal.”
Anne sat up in bed with her arms crossed over her chest, her long brown hair falling in glamorous waves over her shoulders.
“This could actually work for us.”
Robin buffed his glasses on their duvet.
“What do you mean?”
Anne tapped her fingers against her lips, nodding to herself.
“Yes, it will be fine. It will all work out.” She smiled and laid back down. Her hair swirled on her pillow to resemble a crown. “Let’s rest, darling. We have a busy day ahead of us.”
They were both silent for a moment before Robin’s muffled laughter choked into the room. Anne sighed.
“Again?” She pulled the duvet up to her chin, shaking her head. “For star’s sakes, don’t they have anything better to do?”
Robin patted the bed beside her.
“They’re young, love. Lots of zest. Just turn it off. He’s a grown man. Let him have some privacy.”
Anne lifted one hand and a line of fizzing pink curled out from her index finger. The light burst in the air, as did the vague knowledge that their son was very, very happy at that moment. . . .
. . .
“Why is there violence and hate in your world if humans are capable of making others feel...Feel…” Harry’s face lit up pink, the barest hint of gold shining on the very peaks of his cheekbones. “Feel like you made me feel?”
Louis smiled wider and laid his head on their shared pillow.
“Dunno. Guess some people don’t appreciate beauty and pleasure the same way you do.” Harry curled up beside him. Louis pushed his hair out of his eyes, his hand lingering to thumb his temple. “Or they don’t like it as much as other things. Money, mostly, seems to be the biggie.”
Harry stroked Louis’ cheekbone, heat from Louis’ skin radiating up to warm the pads of his fingers.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to do it to you?”
“Nah. Not tonight. Your hand was just fine.” Louis cradled Harry’s hand with both of his hands and lifted it to his lips. He kissed the pad of his thumb. “Lovely, even.” He opened Harry’s fingers and his palm started to glow gold, the light from his hand illuminating Louis’ smiling face. “That tingly, glowy thing you do makes it feel like I’m coming for hours.”
“I want to touch you everywhere.”
Louis laughed, “So earnest.” Fingertips dragged down the side of Louis’ bicep, tiny gold sparks fizzling from his slow touch, and Louis’ laughter quieted, Harry’s eyes glowing soft green at him. “But yeah,” Louis said, his voice breathy. “You can do--You can touch--You--” His body shuddered and nudged closer to Harry. “Fuck, you’re gonna get me hard again.”
“Then I can suck on you.”
“You spoiled little prince. Always getting your way. And we generally say, ‘Suck you off,’ though I guess your way of saying it is accurate enough.”
Harry chuckled and smoothed his hand over Louis’ hip. Louis exhaled a shaky breath, Harry smiling and rubbing his thumb over the soft pudge. Louis held Harry’s face with both hands, leaning in and pressing their lips together. Harry’s eyes fell shut, his arms wrapping around the small of Louis’ back.
“Did you like the last time we did it?” Louis’ voice whispered over Harry’s lips. “When I sucked you off?”
Harry opened his eyes and nodded. His voice was deeper and raspier than usual, his words slower.
“Of course. It was amazing. Why?”
“You didn’t make anything light up or explode when you came. Well.” Louis’ eyes did a quick dart to Harry’s groin. “Except your cock, I mean.”
“I tried to control myself. I don’t want to keep destroying public property just because you’re gifted at blowjobs. It’s not polite.”
Louis’ whole body shook as he laughed, Harry smiling and pressing his face into Louis’ sweaty neck. Louis kissed his forehead, nudging his toes against Harry’s shin. Harry looked up at him curiously.
“Now comes the cuddles, spaceling,” Louis murmured, thumbing the crinkled skin beside Harry’s eyes. “I like the cuddling part, myself, but if you don’t--”
Harry wrapped his arms around him, Louis’ voice evaporating into the ether.
The Star Wars blanket flattened in the air and stretched itself out. The blanket lowered over them and the edges of the blanket scrunched around their bodies, as if invisible hands were tucking them in. The fireflies outside the treehouse dimmed like nightlights on a switch.
Louis snuggled up against Harry’s front and itched his fingers through the back of his hair. Harry tucked his face against Louis’ collarbone, running his hands down his shoulder blades to link on the small of his back. Louis’ fingers stroked through the back of Harry’s hair until they both fell asleep, soft, gold-tinged breaths puffing out of their lips. . . .
. . .
“Oh.” He swiped his hand under their spooning bodies. The duvet brushed the floor. “We’re legitimately floating. Um.” He felt around Harry’s muscled torso, his lips scrunching side to side. He tugged on Harry’s earlobe. “Can we go down, please?” Harry stretched his head back and mumbled to himself, their bodies sinking to the floor. Louis quietly giggled, “Lovely,” and fluffed their pillow before Harry flopped onto his back.
Louis rested his cheek on Harry’s pec and hugged him, breathing in deeply. He listened to the steady pound of Harry’s heart. His heartbeats mixed in with his rhythmic snores, Harry’s broad chest swelling and falling. Louis smoothed Harry’s hair off his face, sunlight mingling with the dark waves and lighting certain strands gold. His hair was feather soft, falling to surround Harry’s head like a silky crown. Louis smiled wide.
“Fuck, could you be more of a Prince Charming?”
He kissed across Harry’s chest until he reached his nipple, softly kissing around it before he pressed his lips to the spot while thumbing over his other nipple. Harry hummed in his sleep and arched his chest up. A collection of alarm clocks and flashing lights went off inside the house. Louis laughed and shook his shoulder.
“Oi, spaceboy, make them stop or else you’ll have two screaming babies and one furious mum on your hands.”
“Aren’t we off today?” Harry mumbled, rolling on top of Louis. He grunted and the alarms and lights all stopped. He pressed his face into Louis’ neck. “Can’t we sleep in?”
Louis relaxed on his back. Harry’s hands smoothed up his ribs, his cheek rubbing against Louis’ shoulder. Louis smiled with his eyes shut. The duvet was pulled up by invisible hands to tuck them in.
Louis’ eyes shot open.
“Shit. Oh, shit.” He sat up and patted around the floor, shaking Harry’s shoulder at the same time. “We have to get up. Get up.” Harry groaned deeper and curled into a ball. Louis rapidly prodded his ribs and Harry groaned again, slapping his fingers away. “Get up, you royal, lazy shit. Get up.”
“Why?” Harry whined. “S’early.”
“Because--” Louis toppled over sideways and thudded on the wood. “Because we have to get inside and get you in the basement and me in my bed.” He fumbled to pull his boxers on, his knee bumping against Harry’s thigh. “Or else my mum will know we slept out here together.”
Harry yawned, “So? She’s a very flexible human who knows you’re sexually active.” He flattened on top of Louis, his voice muffled to ask, “What’s the problem?”
“She has a rule about no sex in the house when the kids are home.”
“We were in the treehouse.”
“Get up,” Louis laughed, shoving Harry off of himself with as much care as possible. Harry landed on his side crumpled in the duvet, his grumpy face frowning at Louis. “Sorry, princess. Rules is rules.”
They half dressed in boxers and t-shirts, clutching the rest of their clothes to their chests as they hurried across the dewy lawn. Harry lifted his legs extra high as he walked, mumbling, “Wet grass disturbs me.”
“Shh,” Louis hissed, the sound stuttering as he laughed. He held his finger to Harry’s lips and Harry’s eyes went wide. “We have to be quiet.”
“Why?” Harry whispered.
“Because we’re sneaking into the house.”
“Why can’t we go ring the doorbell? They’ll let us in.”
Louis stared at him in disbelief.
“We can’t wake everyone up, genius. That’s the whole point of sneaking inside. I don’t want to piss off my mum or else she’ll give us an issue if you want to sleep in my bed from now on.”
“Oh, you--You want me to sleep in your bed with you?”
The sweetness of Harry’s hushed, excited voice sent swirls of fizzy green through Louis’ veins.
“Yeah, um,” Louis giggled and scuffed his toes on the grass, “I’d very much like that, if you were into it.”
“Yeah, totally. I’m totally into it.”
Louis stood up straighter and gave Harry a soft kiss, Harry kissing both of his cheeks.
“Alright,” Louis whispered, lacing their fingers together. “We can sneak in the basement.”
They tiptoed to the metal basement door. Louis tried the knob. It wouldn’t turn. He jiggled it up and down as quietly as he could but it didn’t budge.
“The fuck, why is this locked again? The other day I tried to…” He glanced over his shoulder at the sleepy alien staring at him. “Oh, are you the one that’s been locking the basement door?”
“I thought doors were supposed to be locked at all times incase of a murderer? Your dad told me that my first night here.”
Louis’ brows arched amusedly.
“A murderer? We’ve got an alien in the basement. Murderers should be afraid of us.”
He gripped Harry’s hand and they tiptoed to the back door, which led into the kitchen.
“Usually, this is locked, but sometimes the guys forget to lock it when they leave.” Louis thumbed towards the mess of blankets and empty beer bottles on the grass. “Which I’m guessing they did.” He tried to slide the door open, but it wouldn’t budge. He sighed. “Can’t you just magic it open?”
Harry held his hand out and frowned. He wiggled his fingers and held his hand out again, then shook his head.
“Nope. My mum probably didn’t want me breaking into anywhere, so she took that away.”
“As if you’d ever voluntarily commit a crime. Oh!” Louis snapped his fingers. “Maybe you can levitate us up to the roof, and then we can go into my bedroom window? I think I left it--”
“Unlocked?” Jay’s voice said.
Harry and Louis’ heads turned towards the back door. She smiled with surprising cheerfulness, a steaming cup of tea in her hands, her robe fuzzy and blue.
“Good morning, children.”
“Good morning,” Louis and Harry said, not nearly as cheerful.
She stared at them for a moment then held out her arm.
“Would you like to come inside? Have some tea, perhaps?”
Louis held Harry’s hand and marched them inside.
Jay turned and calmly spoke over him, “Before you even try it, I don’t care that the treehouse is technically not within this house. It is still part of home and you both broke a rule.”
“Right, yeah,” Louis nodded, tightening his grip on Harry’s hand. “Yeah, you’re totally right. We’re really sorry. We didn’t mean to break the rules.”
“We’re really sorry,” Harry said softly, squeezing Louis’ hand.
Both batted their eyelashes, their lips pouting forward. Jay sighed, a smile threatening to break through her steely expression.
“As punishment, you have to clean up the mess you made outside last night,” they both started to nod, “make family breakfast today, clean the entire house from top to bottom,” their nods slowed, “and babysit tonight. All night.”
“But won’t that hurt the babies?” Harry asked, horrified.
Jay squinted and Louis burst out laughing. His mother moved her confused stare to him.
“Okay. That’s very merciful and more than fair,” Louis said seriously, nodding once. “We will definitely do all of those things. Thank you.”
“Thank you so much,” Harry added. “And so sorry for the trouble.”
She walked up to them and patted both of their cheeks.
“You’re lucky you’re both so cute.” She pointed from Louis to Harry. “Don’t let it happen again.” They both nodded, their posture stick straight. She padded over to the fridge and opened it, bottles clinking in the door. “Now, hurry and shower before the girls get up. I want pancakes.”
They both trudged upstairs. Louis said, “We’ll be quick!” over his shoulder as Harry speed walked to the bathroom.
Harry pulled off his tee and folded it. He turned on the water before placing his tee on the countertop. Louis popped into the room. Harry’s hands paused on the waistband of his boxers, his feet shifting on the old lemon coloured tile.
Louis pushed his own boxers down, unbothered, and stepped out of them. He walked around Harry, two glowing green eyes glued to the bounce of his arse below his thin tee. Louis held his hand under the shower water, turning one of the knobs a touch higher.
“Lock the door, will you, spaceling?”
Harry turned from the locked door in time to see Louis’ arms over his head, his entire tanned torso stretched. Louis dropped his tee on top of the toilet tank and stepped past Harry. Their bellies bumped together, both laughing breathily at the tight squeeze.
“Water’s warm,” Louis said, nodding his head towards the tub.
Harry pulled the yellow floral shower curtain aside and got in. He stepped on a squeaky rubber ducky and jumped, Louis cackling as he got in the tub. He handed Harry his green toothbrush, complete with a sloppy dollop of toothpaste on the bristles. Harry stared at him as he brushed.
“What are you doing?”
Louis’ mouth sputtered foam to ask, “What do you mean?”
“You’re in the shower at the same time as me.”
Louis spit on the floor and smiled, his teeth glittering white and his wet hair matted to his head.
“Is that allowed?”
“Allowed?” Louis chuckled softly. He wrapped an arm around Harry’s neck and pulled him into his body, their lips brushing together. They both stumbled in the even more cramped space, Harry laughing loudly before Louis kissed him again. “Dunno. Are you alright with me being in here?”
“Y-Yeah, yeah,” Harry said, nodding quickly. “Very alright.”
Louis grinned and took both of their toothbrushes in one hand. He threw them into the sink and gripped the shower curtain, Harry pulling him back under the shower stream. Sunlight from the tiny window behind Harry’s head beamed into the yellow shower curtain, giving the shower a golden glow. They bumped bellies and stepped on squeaky bath toys at the same time, their laughs muffled by wet kisses.
Maybe showering on Earth wasn’t the terrible time-waster Harry thought it was, especially not when Louis scrubbed his sweat away with a soapy sponge shaped like a frog. Maybe babysitting wasn’t so scary; Harry got to relax while the girls braided his hair and painted his fingernails red, then got to snog Louis for hours on the sofa once the kids were asleep. Maybe Earth wasn’t so bad, after all. . . .
. . .
“Don’t forget that the plumber--”
“Will be coming during the breakfast shift tomorrow. Yes.” Louis squeezed his father’s shoulders and nodded. “I’ve got it.” He opened the driver’s side car door of his father’s beat up Nissan. “It’ll be fine.”
Jay popped her head out of the minivan.
“And don’t forget--”
“That Lottie and Fiz might need a ride home from the train if Michelle’s parents are unable to get there in time.”
“And I should not burn down the house. Or the diner. Absolutely.” Louis patted the hood of the minivan. “You’re going away for two nights for a dance competition, not an eternity.”
“Here’s hoping we won’t spend eternity at a dance competition,” Jay murmured. The twins cheered from the backseat, already wearing loud hairbows and rainbow dance clothes. Jay blew air through her lips, she and Louis sharing a sneaky smile. “Try not to have sex on any shared surfaces while we’re all gone.”
“Too late,” Louis whispered.
Jay’s eyes bulged and her arms reached out the window towards her cackling son.
Harry closed the trunk of the Nissan and brushed his hands together. He stuck his head in the back seat and waved at the babies.
“Bye, guys.” They gurgled happily at him from their car seats and he smiled. “Have fun at auntie’s house.”
“Thanks so much for all your help, Harry,” Dave said, patting his back. “And thanks for offering to work while we’re gone. It’s a huge help and relief.”
“Of course. Happy to help.”
Dave squeezed the top of his shoulder and got into the car. Harry and Louis stood in front of the house, waving at the cars as they drove away. The tires had barely stopped kicking up dust before they ran into the house. They peeled off clothing as they kissed their way up the stairs, both stumbling and laughing until they reached Louis’ bedroom. Louis guided Harry onto his back and straddled him.
“So, what do you want to do?”
“Whatever you want,” Harry said, pulling Louis down. He kissed across Louis’ collarbone, sinking his teeth into the soft skin at the bottom of his neck. He peeled Louis’ boxers down his hips. “Wanna touch you.”
“Do you want to have sex?”
“What have we been doing every night since the party?” Harry bit higher on his neck and Louis gasped, his head falling to the side. “And most mornings?”
“I mean, like, do you want to fuck?” Louis’ legs kicked awkwardly, his boxers caught on his ankle. “We’ve got privacy, for once.”
Harry nodded and whispered, “Okay. Yes, please.”
He untangled Louis’ underwear from off his ankle, Louis’ hands bumping into Harry’s stomach while trying to get his boxers off.
“Unless it will mess with your whole mating-slash-spouse thing.”
Harry shook his head.
“No, that’s not possible with someone from Earth. The genetics don’t match on that level.”
“Good to know.” Louis reached into his bedside table, Harry kissing along his outer arm. “I pray my mum didn’t go into this drawer when she redecorated.”
He blew dust off a half used tube of lube and dropped condoms on the bed. Harry’s hands squeezed his arse, Louis smiling into a kiss.
Breathless words and skittering palms led to sticky kisses and sliding skin. Louis eased Harry onto his back. His thick thighs straddled Harry’s groin, sweat already dripping down the front of Harry’s neck.
The tip of Louis’ tongue started licking at the soft front of Harry’s throat. He teased up his Adam’s apple and swirled under his jawline, Harry’s head falling back on the thin pillow. Harry’s hands smoothed from Louis’ arse to his hips. Louis looked at him and Harry’s fingers walked up his stomach, the pads of his fingers rubbing over his nipples. Louis sighed and stroked his slick hand over Harry’s cock one final time.
“Gonna ride you,” Louis said, gripping him firmly. He saw Harry’s long feet flex at the bottom of the bed, a smile flitting over his sweaty face. “You cool with that?”
Harry exhaled, “Yeah. Fuck, y--”
Louis sank down, hissing through his teeth. Harry arched his entire back, his mouth widening and his eyes clenching shut. Louis’ thighs shook as he clenched around Harry’s head, his fingernails digging into Harry’s shoulders.
“S’good,” Louis said, his arse popping up. Gold steam poured out of Harry’s mouth, the shimmering light curling and tapering like cigarette smoke before it was inhaled through Louis’ lips. He sucked another sweet breath out of Harry’s mouth. Small glimmers of gold puffed out of his lips as he breathed, “So fucking good.”
He ground down and Harry’s feet flexed again, his heels sliding on the bed. Louis leaned down to kiss the front of his throat, gyrating with deep, slow rolls of his hips. A gasp was pulled from Harry’s throat, his eyes squinting open. Two bright green beams radiated at the ceiling. Louis hummed and bounced faster, Harry’s voice echoing, ‘Louis. Louis. Louis,’ in his head.
“F-Fuck,” Louis shuddered, their lips joining for a longer, wetter kiss. “Fuck, you feel so fucking perfect. Taste so fucking perfect.”
Harry spread his legs and bent his knees, sitting up on the bed. He ran his hands down Louis’ lower back to grip his arse, Louis bouncing with the same slow, lazy speed. Harry’s hips jutted up quicker. He squinted and stared at Louis’ arse as his cock sank inside of him.
“You want me to go faster?” Louis panted.
Harry’s eyes flared gold.
“No,” he said, his voice a deep rasp. Louis’ arms draped over his shoulders. “It’s perfect.”
They both smiled with their foreheads pressed together, their eyes locked. Louis ground down over and over, pleasure surging so aggressively through his very nerve endings that he felt light headed. Harry’s sweet, gold breaths zipped into his mouth, their messy kisses making his energy skyrocket each time their tongues tangled.
His weak groans were so unlike his usual grunts and commands, his hands shaking as he touched wherever he could on Harry’s body. Each time he even thought about saying yes or more or harder or oh my fucking god in heaven, Harry was already there, sucking and kissing and caressing whatever sensitive spot his body screamed to be touched.
It was a sunny morning outside, but the room started to darken as if the sun was setting at double time. Louis held Harry’s face in his hands and seared their lips together, bouncing a touch faster. The bed started to vibrate, Harry groaning through his nose.
The rock band posters on the wall started to peel down, the papers folding on top of each other in neat piles on the floor. The stars on the wallpaper burst with sparkling, pulsing light. Their laboured breaths lined up, their hearts beating in each other’s ears as if an ultrasound was strapped to their chests to project the sound into the world for all to hear.
Harry’s right hand cradled Louis’ cheek for their bumped kisses, his left hand guiding Louis’ grinds. Louis gripped the back of Harry’s hair and Harry moaned deliriously. Their tongues tangled, sloppy and hot, his hand clenching on the thick, clenching muscles of Louis’ arse. Small bursts of fizzing gold and green flared up from under them, skyrocketing up to surround their bodies and paint the ceiling.
Louis couldn’t stop sucking sweet, gold breaths out of Harry’s mouth, not even when the starry wallpaper melded into one smooth cylinder around the perimeter of his bedroom. The room became lit completely by starlight, the constellations multiplying and throbbing in time with their synced breaths.
The bed smoothly lifted off the ground, the stars throbbing faster, their breaths louder and rougher. The stars started to spin as if the cylinder walls were rotating. Nearly unbearable heat coiled tighter and tighter at the base of Louis’ spine, Harry’s hips stuttering unevenly but his hand sure as he tightly pulled at Louis’ cock. Louis stared slack-jawed at Harry.
Harry looked up at him with such wide-eyed admiration, with such wonder and warmth and awe, that Louis' breath caught, his body clinging to Harry's torso. Harry blinked, his eyes dazed but incandescent green.
“Is this--Is this how sex is on your planet?”
“No,” Harry moaned, the word breaking off to a gasp. “Is it this way here?”
Louis looked around the galaxy he was riding Harry in. He slowly shook his head.
“Are you okay?”
Louis stared at Harry for a moment, sweat sliding from the tip of his nose to drip on Harry’s cheek.
“Yeah,” Louis nodded, tightening his arms around Harry’s shoulders. Their lips met in a searing kiss, Harry gripping both of his arse cheeks as Louis bounced faster. Louis exhaled, “Fuck, yeah,” and gold spilled against Harry’s lips.
Harry claimed Louis’ mouth and rolled him into his back. His hips snapped faster, both moaning with broken, uncontrollable whimpers as the bed vibrated and shook, the spinning stars pulsing pure, blazing white. . . .
. . .
For the days they had alone, they were either naked at home (whether they were eating, fucking, watching telly, or moon-bathing in the treehouse) or eye-fucking at the diner (which sometimes led to actual fucking at the diner).
Adrian didn’t understand why the lights kept flickering mid-shift (they were making out in the alley behind the diner). The guys didn’t understand why the treehouse would light up like it was Christmas Day at random times (blowjobs, mostly).
Louis didn’t understand the flux of Harry’s abilities. Sometimes, Harry seemed unable to control his abilities and it would feel like they were boning on the moon. Then, at other times, they would have sex like two regular, sweaty, over-excited Earthlings, no laser lights or vibrating beds in sight. It was so good either way that he didn’t feel the need to ask.
Harry didn’t understand how the human body, thought by his people to be subpar and basic, was so powerful and sensitive and strange that it caused him to engage his mind as if he was mating with someone from home. That didn’t even happen in the past when he’d done anything with anyone at home. When he told Louis his thoughts, Louis smiled with such amusement that a flicker of light jolted through the slit of blue visible in his crinkled eyes.
The morning everyone was set to return home was sunny and warm. They were curled up in Louis’ bed facing each other, their eyes shut and their breaths lazy. Glittery gold dust lingered on both of their lips, sweat still cooling on their skin and the peach duvet hastily thrown up at hip level.
'I want to stay in this bed with you forever,' Louis thought. He blamed the amount of sex they had in such a short amount of time for the haziness of his brain, because he thought he heard Harry's voice reply, 'Me, too,' inside his head. Louis' hand smoothed up Harry's stomach. Both leaned in at the same time to kiss tender and slow, their names echoing around each other's heads.
'I want to stay in this bed with you forever,' Louis thought. He blamed the amount of sex they had in such a short amount of time for the haziness of his brain, because he thought he heard Harry's voice reply, 'Me, too,' inside his head. Louis' hand smoothed up Harry's stomach. Both leaned in at the same time to kiss tender and slow, their names echoing around each other's heads.The front door opened downstairs.
“We’re home!” Phoebe’s voice sang. “We got second place!”
Daisy echoed, “Second place!”
Louis smiled and stretched his arm over his head, rolling onto his back. Harry flattened his cheek on Louis’ shoulder, fingers playing in the damp hair below his navel.
“There goes privacy,” Louis whispered.
Harry kissed Louis’ nipple and lifted his face.
“But you missed them.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Louis smoothed his hand over Harry’s cheek, their eyes crinkling at each other. “You did, too.”
“Yeah,” he said softly. He shrugged his shoulders. “I missed your parents, too.”
Louis laughed and ruffled Harry’s hair. He sat up and pecked Harry’s lips, kissing the bridge of his nose quickly. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and bent over.
“We should get dressed. I hear little feet coming our way.”
Harry reached over his side of the bed and picked up his boxer briefs.
“Why did your dad go to your aunt’s house?”
“Um,” Louis hopped into his jeans, “just a visit.”
“Was it about the diner?”
Louis’ spine stiffened, his hands halting on the fly of his skinnies. He turned towards Harry.
“Why do you ask that?”
Harry tucked his head through the neckline of his black tee.
“I thought I heard your mum talking to him about your aunt and the diner. Didn’t know what she meant.”
Louis stared at Harry for a beat. The silence teetered on uncomfortable, Louis still holding the fly of his jeans, Harry wearing only a t-shirt and boxers.
“Yeah, I dunno,” Louis said easily, bending over.
He snagged his striped tee and shoved it over his head. When he looked to Harry, he saw that Harry was staring at him, concern wrinkling his features. Louis sighed.
“Actually. Erm.” He sat on the end of the bed and scratched the back of his messy hair. “It’s complicated, but...When my nan died, there was some weird business with her finances.” Louis widened his eyes at Harry. “Money that my parents were told they would get, and planned to use for the diner, never came through. The same thing happened to my aunt, the one my dad went to see. They were trying to figure out what happened and what has to be done to right it.”
Harry sat next to him on the bed.
“Are your parents okay? Money-wise?”
“Yeah, we’re fine. It’s fine,” Louis nodded, his mouth pursed forward. “Totally fine. I mean, we’ll never be rich, but we’re good. The business is good. We can’t complain.”
Harry’s brows pinched.
“Can we do something about it?”
Louis pressed their foreheads together, a smile warming his eyes.
“You’re sweet, spaceling.” They kissed softly. “Thank you for the offer, but we’ll be fine.”
Hands pounded on his door, the sound of baby voices cutting through the thin wood. Louis grinned and Harry laughed, both standing from the bed. . . .
. . .
Harry turned over onto his opposite side. He nudged his bum against Louis and reached behind himself, stroking Louis’ forearm. It took a moment, but Louis turned over and pressed himself to Harry’s back, his arm winding around his stomach. Harry sighed a smile and shut his eyes, cuddling back against Louis’ warmth.
Harry’s eyes shot open. His mouth moved without sound, his head shaking involuntarily. He felt his cheeks heat and clumsily pulled the duvet up to his shoulders, smoothing the blanket over Louis’ body.
"Mum,” he hissed with bulged eyes. He tucked the duvet under Louis’ chin. “What are you doing in here!?"
Anne floated to him in a glowing pink orb. Her light faded, her body floating closer to the bed. She waved her hand over Louis and a sheer layer of gold light enveloped his sleeping form, glitter sparkling in the dim bedroom.
“Don’t do that,” Harry said, lifting his hand. “He doesn’t like the idea of being frozen.” He frowned and waved his palm at Louis. The gold layer would not budge. “Why did you do that to him?”
“So as not to disturb his sleep.”
“You’re disturbing my sleep,” Harry said as he sat up slightly. He rubbed the back of his hand over his eyes. “What’s up?”
“What’s up?” Anne repeated, amused. "I'm here to retrieve you, of course."
"Retrieve me? Why?"
“The month is up, darling.”
Harry licked his dry lips, his sleepy eyes squinting tighter.
“It’s been thirty days.” Anne waved her hand in the air. A calendar outlined in shimmering gold appeared. Each day filled with glitter until the entire month sparkled. “You’ve done wonderfully, but," she bopped the calendar and it morphed into a rotating green sphere, "it’s time to go home.”
Harry shook his head, his entire body trembling. He had promised to help fix the tree house ladder tomorrow, plus he had his regular shift at the diner. They were planning a beach trip later in the summer and Louis said they could go to the drive-in movies that weekend, though he still didn't understand the appeal of sitting in the heat when there were perfectly functional movie theatres available. Louis insisted there would be lots of candy and kissing, which made the foreign concept much more appealing.
"Time to go, love," his mother's voice filtered into his brain. “We have a wonderful dinner planned for your return.”
“No,” he whispered, trembling faster. He clenched his fists at his sides. “No. I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here with Louis. I have a job here. Friends. I have the beginnings of a life here. I should stay longer to learn more.”
Anne’s eyes blinked quicker.
“This was only meant to be a learning exercise, my love. This is not your home. Your job is to rule the Northern Galaxy, when your time comes, not to wash dishes for humans.”
“But I--” His throat felt swollen, his chest heaving forward. “I love him," he whispered, a crack audible in his voice. "Please," he clasped his hands in front of himself, still shaking his head, "please, don’t make me leave him. Not so soon. I have so much more to learn about him. I want to be with him more than anything in the galaxy.”
“Oh, sweetheart,” she murmured, running her fingers through his hair. She sat on the edge of the bed. "You don’t even know what love is. Neither do humans, not in the true sense of the word.”
“Yes, I do. I learned about it and I felt it and I do know. Humans do know. I love him. You can’t see their love, like our energy system, but it’s real. I love him, Mother. I love him.”
Anne tutted her tongue and smiled sadly. She cradled his cheek.
“You mated with him and are hypnotized.”
“It’s warping your mind.”
“No,” Harry said over her.
“It is completely normal, darling. Humans often use mating to do such a thing to their own.”
“That’s not true,” Harry practically growled. “Don’t talk about him that way.”
“Harry, it’s adorable that you developed such strong feelings for him. Truly! We had hoped you would pick up details of the human experience, and you have. It will make your future as a leader all the easier.”
“Are you...Did you,” Harry’s mouth snarled in disgust, “did you want me to fall in love with Louis? Just so you could take him away from me?”
Anne placed her delicate hands on his shoulders.
“Harry, when Earth transitions to our way of life, there will be deaths. Losses. Humans will be left without loved ones, a concept that is foreign to us. By you learning how it feels to lose, you will be able to speak to them--”
“I’m your son,” Harry ground out, his jawline tense and his eyes neon green. “I’m your son, and you’d intentionally do this to me?” He flung his arm at the bed. “To Louis? After he did everything you asked him to? After he taught me everything I know about Earth? How could you be so cruel?”
“Darling, did you really think you could be here long term? On Earth? With a," she chuckled lightly, "human? How would you explain your lack of family to anyone you ever come in contact with on Earth? How will you give Louis stability? How will you give Balaavos Nala an heir? The government will hunt you, and everyone you know on Earth, at every chance they get. Your friends. His family. They will all be persecuted for being associated with you and not turning you in.”
Harry’s chest heaved as he quickly rattled off, “No one would have to know. I could visit you and father when you need me to. Transportation is easier than ever due to the solar sways. We could make it work.”
“Louis Tomlinson is destined to become a doctor, my love. He will do great things for his planet until the end of days.” Anne leveled her stare on Harry’s frantic face. “If you stay, and leave him vulnerable to persecution, you will destroy any chance he has at fulfilling his destiny and dreams.”
Harry dropped his eyes to the glowing boy sleeping next to him, hot tears running down his cheeks. When each drop of moisture hit the sheets, a barely visible flicker of green light burst before being absorbed into the fabric.
“He knew there was an end date, my sweet,” Anne murmured, wiping his tears away. “He knows this is happening.”
“Did he even tell you that he loves you?”
Harry was silent, sniffling quickly and gritting his back teeth.
“Can you at least release him so I can say goodbye?” he asked, his voice breaking. “We--We didn’t keep track of the days. I lost track of the days. It’s my fault.”
She shook her head.
“We must go now. The portals have been finicky.”
Green light from Harry’s eyes filled the room.
“What? Why? That’s never been an issue in the--”
“Because you must break yourself away from him,” she said, her voice a hint harder than usual. “Because this has gone too far for too long.”
“If I don’t say goodbye, he’s going to be sad and he--” Harry wiped the back of his hand under his nose and shook his head, his breaths puffing frantically out of his mouth. “He’s going to think--He’s going to think I abandoned him. He can’t think that.”
“Why are you concerned with these human emotions?”
“Because I love a human! Why are you not understanding this? Do I need to switch to our native tongue for you to understand what I’m saying?”
Anne smoothed her hands down her sparkly silver gown and stood from the bed.
“Harry, I won’t ask you again. We must go before the others wake. Now.”
Harry swallowed and turned away from her. He cradled Louis’ glowing cheek. More tears gushed from his eyes, his thumb rubbing Louis’ warm, motionless lips.
“You need to do something for me first,” he whispered.
Anne snorted, shock colouring her voice.
“Me? Do something for you? What are you speaking of?”
Harry leaned down and pressed a lingering kiss to Louis’s lips, his nose sniffling and his eyes clenching shut. . . .
. . .
Louis woke to the sound of screaming; his mother’s screaming, more specifically. It was a pretty normal wakeup call.
“Dave! David! Get up! Get up!”
He heard his mother’s feet pounding down the hallway in her worn, fluffy slippers, followed by two sets of lighter feet.
“What is it, mummy?” Daisy’s sleepy voice asked.
Jay hollered, “David Tomlinson, get your arse in here!” amidst more running sounds.
Louis chuckled gruffly and stretched his arms towards the headboard, his toes pointing at the end of the bed.
“Wakey, wakey, space baby,” he whispered as he rolled over. He blinked at the empty mattress. He pushed himself up on his forearm, staring at the bed. He thumbed crust out of the corner of his eyes. “Huh.”
He got out of bed and pulled on black sweats. He opened the door to his bedroom and saw his sisters running back and forth, his parents dancing in front of their bedroom. Louis padded to the bathroom and stuck his head inside, nibbling his bottom lip.
“Hey, has anyone seen…”
Louis stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. He stepped closer and leaned over the counter, his fingers brushing over his cheek. The shimmering gold handprint lingering on his skin disintegrated under his fingers. Louis shuddered out a breath and touched the gold dusting his lips. That, too, evaporated into the air. Louis’ free hand clenched the countertop, his stomach heaving and his chest sinking into his spine.
Louis sucked air in through his nose and pasted on a smile, turning away from the mirror to face his mother.
“Oh, Lou,” Jay said, tears streaming down her ecstatic face, her messy bun wild on her head. “It’s--It’s a miracle!”
Louis licked his lips, but tasted none of the sweetness usually left by Harry’s kisses.
“The bank loan. The mortgage for the house. The mortgage for the diner. Credit cards. Everything. It’s all paid off. Everything! Plus savings. Savings for everyone!” She thrust her phone at him, the mobile banking app already open. Dave swept Jay into his arms and twirled her in the hallway. “Nan’s funds must have come through! Oh, God,” she kissed Dave’s cheek and sobbed, “I knew it would all be okay.”
Louis listened to his family’s glee growing louder in the hallway, his hand shaking around his mother’s phone. He tried to swallow the ache that gripped his heart. The invisible hand widened its squeeze until it felt like his lungs were also collapsing inwards, tears prickling the corners of his eyes.
He tapped his mother’s calendar app and scrolled back thirty days. He found an event for Lou’s Party!!! with every heart and party Emoji available. The breath being held in his lungs seeped out of his gasping mouth, his shoulders hunching forward.
“Come dance with us!” Jay said, pulling Louis into the hallway. “It’s too bad Harry had to leave and miss this day!”
Louis stared at Jay as if she had ten heads.
“He left his letter of resignation on my desk last week,” Jay said, breathless and grinning, her hair flapping wild around her face. “Typed and everything. He had to go home to help his parents for the rest of the summer. Shame. He was a wonderful worker. But you’ll see him soon when you’re back at school, yeah?”
Louis swallowed thickly and nodded. He picked Ernie up off the ground and cradled him in his arms. He pressed his face into his soft, baby powder scented neck and shut his stinging eyes, trying to remember how to breathe without hearing Harry’s heart beating in his ears. . . . . . . . . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Louis kicked open the back door of the diner. He was greeted by a filthy alleyway and a sheet of rain, as he had been greeted with every day for the past few weeks since Harry disappeared. Was he doomed to spend all of eternity taking out garbage in shitty weather? Like some sort of precipitation trash magnet?
His heart ached so severely, and with such an overflowing, yet hollow, sort of pain, that he decided to become a cardiologist instead of a pediatrician. He had to help others avoid any pain of the heart, even though his scientific brain knew very well that his actual, physical heart had nothing to do with the excruciating pain lingering in the centre of his chest.
He lifted the top of the dumpster and hauled one bag inside, wrinkling his nose at the stink of dirty diapers.
“Lovely,” he whispered.
He bent over to grab the other bag and heard a slamming sound down the alley, followed by a high pitched shriek. He leaned sideways and peered around the dumpster.
“Oi, oi,” he said loudly, his voice echoing down the dark alley. He let go of the dumpster’s lid and wiped his hands on his bum. “Hey,” he broke into a jog, “leave her alone.”
Two teenage boys turned towards him. One boy had the long red hair of a teenage girl fisted in his hand, her squirming body trapped in his other arm. Her purse made of clear blue plastic was spilled on the cement; he recognized the type of purse as one that his sister Fizzy had. The other boy held out a pocket knife, sneering at Louis.
Louis held his palms out, rain dripping down his face.
“Hey, that’s enough. Knife away. Let her go. Now.”
“Says fucking who?” one of the boys barked.
“Says fucking me.” He made eye contact with the girl and nodded. “It’ll be alright, love. Isn’t that right, boys?” He took a step closer and held his arms out, gesturing towards himself with his fingers. “C’mon, then. You want a fight? You want money? I’m right here. Leave her alone.”
The one with the knife stared at him for a long, motionless beat. The boy’s nose wrinkled and his knife holding hand swung back with the point poised at the girl’s face.
Without thinking, Louis threw his hands out in front of himself. His voice echoed the word, “No!” as a sheet of sparkling blue light enveloped all three teenagers. Their limbs froze in place, rain bouncing off the blue forcefield.
A long, motionless moment passed. Louis watched his breath puff out into the rain in frantic bursts of gold steam. His whole body felt like it was on fire, his muscles locking before giving out and bringing him to his knees on the wet pavement. He put his palms out a split second before he face planted on the ground.
Blue light formed a cushion beneath his palms, keeping him bent over but not flat on the cement. He saw a brighter, more neon blue light and leaned forward towards a deep puddle. His eyes peered back at him, glowing such a bright, incredible blue they were electric turquoise.
A surge of light beneath his palms rocketed him back to his feet. Louis’ hands shook and his chest rattled from the inside, his arms frozen outstretched. His stiff limbs started to tremble, rain pounding over him and dripping down his face.
He gasped, “Wh--Wh--”
He tried to move his arms closer to his body. Electricity ran through his veins, making every motion prompt more sparks of soreness through his muscles and bones.
His shaking hands curled into fists and he cradled them to his chest. The ache in his heart turned to something less like pain and more like pure heat; pure throbbing, pulsing warmth. He looked at his palms still glowing soft, sparkly blue and watched them shake, which only made his insides shiver faster.
Louis looked around the alley for any sign of life but there was no one. Only him and the three frozen teens. He pointed his hand at a dumpster and lifted his arm. The dumpster rattled for a moment before it started to float.
“Oh my God,” he whispered, his eyes bulging.
His shaking hand caused the dumpster to plunk loudly on the cement. He looked up at the sky and blew air out of his pursed mouth. He shut his eyes and pressed his lips together. His hands shook faster, his muscles aching. He felt his shoes lift half a foot off the ground.
He blurted out, “Fuck, oh, fuck,” and plummeted back down.
He looked around the alley with frantic jerks of his neck, then stalked towards a trash bag spilling onto the ground. He touched the cover of a soaked paperback. His eyes glowed blue and he could see the pages turning in his head, could feel the information storing itself in his brain. He took his fingers off the wet pages and curled his hand.
“Well.” He stared at his glowing fist. “This will make studying for med school that much easier.”
He was hit with a sudden feeling of panic. His body squatted on the floor as if preparing to sprint and his arms lifted without his control. He threw another force field of sparkling blue into the sky and the sheet of light covered him. He could feel heat radiating outside his force field, could hear jazz sax flitting over the bass vibrations caused by the radiation.
Louis opened his eyes and looked up. His jaw dropped.
Harry’s green eyes glowed through the blue of Louis’ force field. Their positions were mirror images, both holding their palms out towards each other with green and blue energy covering their bodies. Harry’s black uniform was a mixture of militant and chic. Calf high black boots tapered the legs of his trousers, a fitted jacket clinging to his broad shoulders. A thin, glowing ring of white light throbbed around his forehead, tiny licks of gold running through his hair and under his skin.
The green force field snapped away and Louis lowered his shaking hands, his blue energy disappearing. Harry reached out and Louis shuddered away, his Vans stumbling on the wet gravel. His eyes flickered with a darker blue light and the clouds above boomed with thunder.
They stared at each other, both standing stiff with rain matting their hair to their faces. Louis licked a drop of water off the bow of his top lip and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Nice uniform.” He arched one brow. “Very Tron.”
Harry sighed and took a step forward, Louis holding his hand out and stepping back.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Harry?”
“I--I felt the strangest sensation,” Harry said, rain bouncing off his full lips. He ran his hand back through his wet hair and his crown disappeared. “I could feel that you were in danger, but the elders also felt that someone from our planet was in danger. I left even before they told me to to go. I didn’t realize that you...” His head shook slightly, his mouth moving without sound. “I didn’t realize that we received signals for the same person. That you were both signals.”
They stared at each other for a long moment, Louis chest heaving beneath his soaked blue t-shirt, Harry’s teeth grinding behind his lips.
“Well, I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to Trojan,” Louis finally said. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Clearly, something was transferred that shouldn’t have been. Safe sex my arse.”
“No,” Harry shook his head and came closer, “I asked the elders why I felt the way I felt. Why I could feel you. They had no explanation. This wasn’t supposed to happen this way. It has never happened that way with someone not born on our planet. The sharing of abilities. The feelings. None of it.”
“Great,” Louis laughed without humor. “That’s just great. I’ve got alien running in my veins and not even the aliens know what the fuck is going on. And you said medical research on Earth sucked.”
Harry turned away from Louis and held his hands out towards the frozen teens. The two boys floated out of the alley and went left. The girl floated to the right.
“Where are you putting them?”
“Boys to the police, girl safely home,” Harry said, lowering his arms. He turned back to Louis and clasped his hands in front of himself. “Louis, I’m--”
“You’re sorry? Great, thanks.”
“I am sorry,” Harry said, Louis looking away from him. “Louis--”
“What? What do you want?”
“Why don’t you believe me when I tell you I’m sorry?”
Louis shoulders rose upwards.
“Must be my pesky human emotions, you know? Humans tend to get a bit prickly when people up and leave with no warning, or infect them with something they’ll have to deal with the rest of their life, but,” he fluttered his fingers in the air, “you wouldn’t understand.”
“I do understand,” Harry ground out, bringing himself into Louis’ line of vision.
“I knew you wouldn’t stay with me forever, but you could have at least said goodbye. You didn’t have to make it seem so easy to leave.”
Harry scoffed bitterly.
“You think that leaving was easy for me? My mum forced me to leave. I begged her to let me stay. I begged her. I’ve never begged for anything in my life.” Louis snorted and turned away, Harry walking up behind him. A thin cloud of gold light puffed into the air, curling around Louis’ body to swirl in the air in front of him. Harry whispered, “I told her I loved you, that I wanted to stay with you, and she didn’t care. I had no choice. I’ve been miserable ever since.” He swiped his hand over his wet face. “Fucking miserable.”
“Why did you give us money?” Louis felt heat on the back of his shoulder. Green light glowed in his peripheral vision, Harry’s hand inches from his skin. Louis’ head turned to the right without looking at him. “Why, Harry?”
“Because money is so important on Earth. Your family is a good, hardworking family. Your parents are good people. Your siblings are good. You are good. You shouldn’t have to be burdened by something as ridiculous as money. And I,” Harry’s voice caught in his throat, Louis turning fully to face him, “I felt so terrible leaving the way I did, I felt that was the most helpful gesture I could make at that moment.”
The rain started to let up, moonlight slowly inching its way through the alley. Louis pressed his lips together and stared at the ground. His arms were crossed so tightly over his chest he could barely breathe. He kicked a pebble into a deep puddle.
“You love me?”
Shivers wracked Harry’s entire body, his hands trembling at his sides.
“Yes,” he whispered. A gold gasp of air puffed out of his mouth. “Yes, I love you.”
Louis looked at him with glowing blue eyes. Harry remained completely still as Louis walked forward. They stood toe to toe, gold breaths puffing between them. Louis flattened his hand on the front of Harry’s throat. A thin ring of gold glowed around the blue of Louis’ eyes and Harry’s head fell back, a low moan vibrating under Louis’ palm. Harry’s entire body stiffened, his mouth falling open to moan louder, his boots lifting off the ground.
Louis’ fingers crawled sideways until he cradled Harry’s jawline. Harry exhaled and his head lolled forward, his body lowering to the ground. Dazed green eyes blinked slowly.
“You’re smiling,” Harry said, his words slurred. He swallowed and blinked faster, his hands settling on Louis’ hips. “You’re happy?”
Louis’ lips twitched. He thumbed Harry’s cheekbone, a smear of soft, shimmering blue left behind from the pad of his thumb.
Harry gasped out, “You can--You can speak my language?”
“Appears so. Kal, eya?”
“E-Eya,” Harry said on a breathy laugh, both of their eyes glowing gold.
Louis lifted himself up on the balls of his feet and caught Harry’s ecstatic, sighed whimper with his lips. The clouds opened up completely, stars illuminating the dark alley, the puddles evaporating in colourful bursts of glimmering, metallic steam. Harry’s mouth opened against Louis’ and their tongues slid together, their hands sliding over their wet clothes to hold each other close. Harry’s arms wrapped around the small of Louis’ back, Louis’ hands buried in his hair.
“But,” Louis said, Harry kissing him wetly. Louis laughed and tried to say, “How are you,” before they kissed again. “How are we--” Harry dipped him backwards, kissing down his neck. Louis gasped, “Going to do this? Your mum doesn’t want you to be with me. You don’t live here.”
“Oh.” Harry eased Louis to stand straight, but kept his arms around him. “I had an idea, but wasn’t sure if you would be game.”
“What’s the idea?”
Harry held both of Louis’ hands.
“Do you want to take a quick trip?”
Louis arched both brows.
“A quick trip? Where?”
Harry’s lips twitched wider, his dimple deepening. He pointed one finger to the moon.
Louis laughed and sputtered, “Your home? Your--” He blinked rapidly. “How is that possible?”
Harry held Louis’ face with both warm hands.
“Okay?” Harry repeated softly.
Louis nodded, smirking. He opened his mouth to speak and the smooth sweet sound of a cello playing Brahms came out. Harry laughed loudly.
“Wow, you are a quick learner,” Harry said, thumbing his cheekbones. Louis giggled and stroked the front of Harry’s throat, a flicker of gold lighting his eyes. “Alright, then. Ready?”
“How long will we be gone?”
“You’ll be back fast enough for your mum to think you just took out the trash.”
“Wow. Highspeed. Nice. Efficient.” Louis braced himself as if waiting for a punch. “Alright, then. Lead me into the light.”
Harry snorted and let his palms cradle Louis’ jawline.
“Relax, love,” he murmured, gently guiding his head to tip back. “This is for the trip, not the destination.”
Louis exhaled and his neck relaxed. His entire body felt more relaxed, Harry’s warmth drawing him closer. Harry brought their open lips together as if to kiss, but kept his mouth a hair away. He blew a stream of cool, glittering silver air into Louis’ mouth, like a mouthful of tiny snowflakes. Louis’ eyes widened before they rolled back in his head. His lungs sucked the air in through his mouth and his body held it in for a moment before an icy shimmer of silver was exhaled out of his nose.
The feeling of Harry thumbing his cheekbones brought him back to Earth.
Louis nodded, staring stunned at Harry’s lips. He felt as if he’d taken a hit of the best weed ever grown on the planet and he had been coming for around five days straight. His voice was raspy to whisper, “Can I please have another?” Silver shone in his hazy eyes. “That feels so fucking good.”
Harry grinned and kissed his bottom lip.
They joined hands and Louis rested his forehead on Harry’s shoulder. He clenched his eyes shut just before they started to glow, his energy blue while Harry’s was green. The ground disappeared and Louis shuddered, burying his face in Harry’s neck.
“Don’t be afraid, love,” Harry’s voice whispered into the thinning air. “You’re so brave.”
Louis could see light bursting around them even with his eyes closed, ice and heat nipping at his exposed skin. He tried to breathe. Harry tightened his arms around him. And then it all went light. Burning, blazing, white-hot light. . . .
. . .
“Have you lost your mind!?” Anne shouted, running up to Harry’s back. Her long gown flourished around her, her hair falling out of her carefully constructed updo. She waved her hand at the arc of elders floating around half of the circle. “And all of you! How could you go along with this in secret!? In secret from your king and queen!?”
Harry turned towards her and wrapped his arm around Louis’ lower back. Both wore tight uniforms made of all black, glistening material, their hair artfully blown back high off their faces. Harry’s skin had a slightly blue tinge, Louis’ skin glowing pale gold beneath the surface.
“Hello, Mother.” Harry nodded at Robin. “Father.”
Robin blurted out, “Now, son, I know you have strong--Strong feelings for this--This boy.” He coughed, trying to catch his breath. He looked at Louis and gave him a harried smile. “Hello, Louis Tomlinson. Lovely to see you again. Welcome.”
“Hi!” Louis said cheerfully. “Thanks so much. I like it here. Kind of like a futuristic paradise with super clean air and organized transportation.” He gave two thumbs up. “Very chic.”
Anne floated in front of her panting husband and glared at Harry.
“I know you were upset to leave, and I know I could have handled the situation better, but how could you do this to us? To your own parents?”
Harry and Louis shared a confused look, both glancing at the smirking elders.
“Do what?” Harry asked.
Pink energy exploded out from Anne’s entire body.
“Marry a human in secret!”
Harry and Louis burst out laughing, the elders chuckling in the background. Even the trees seemed to be laughing. A pleasant breeze rustled through the sweet smelling white flowers.
“Marry!?” Louis and Harry said together while still laughing. They shook their heads, both saying, “No.”
“No!?” Robin and Anne exclaimed.
“Not yet. Eventually, maybe,” Harry said. He looked to Louis through his eyelashes, rubbing his thumb over his knuckles. He cleared his throat and lowered his voice to a more private tone. “Like, if you’d want to.”
Louis chuckled, “Um, yeah, I’m going to go with a, ‘Yes, fucking, please.” Harry's dimple deepened in a starry-eyed grin and his hand squeezed hard enough for Louis' bones to creak. Louis smiled softly and squeezed Harry’s hand. “Eventually. I think I could deal with marrying you.” His eyes flickered silver. “You’re cute when you’re blue.”
“Right,” Harry exhaled happily, his cheeks flushing sweet pink. He looked back to his parents. “Eventually.” Harry reached out and smoothed his hand over Anne’s shoulder. “I know he is not a pureborn lord or lady, but we love each other.” Harry gestured to the rainbow of plants surrounding the garden, beams of shimmering light rocketing quietly through the clear sky. “We are a planet of love. What kind of leader would I be if I did not lead by example, such as you and father do?”
“He has a point,” Robin whispered.
“I know he has a point,” Anne said quickly. She rested the back of her hand on her forehead. Her hair started to redo itself and her makeup was refreshed, some of the pink glow returning to the air surrounding her. “If you’re not getting married, what are you both doing out here in the Stellarwuds?”
Harry held his hands out, palms facing up, and a thin ring of white light appeared.
“I believe Louis was promised a planet for his service to Balaavos Nala.” The crown levitated in the air, rotating on an invisible axis to spin around the crowd. Harry held his hand out, the crown returning to his care. “I’m merely making good on the offer extended to him by our family.”
“And you couldn’t have told us this in advance?” Robin asked amusedly. “We would have planned a banquet to celebrate. A festival!”
“Surprise crownings are always the most fun,” Harry said, his father laughing and Anne shaking her head. “And we figured, if you gave us an issue about being together, Louis technically is now the ruler of a bordering planet. A geographical ally. Who better for me to marry in the future?” Harry squeezed Louis’ hand. “Plus, with his education on Earth, he will become a fine doctor who is capable of treating any humans who move here, making him irreplaceable for our planet’s smooth transition with Earth.”
Anne cupped her son’s face and her full smile emerged. Soft pink light wound through Harry’s hair.
“Well, you’ve thought of everything, haven’t you?”
“I come from bright stock,” Harry said shyly.
Anne levitated high enough to peck Harry’s cheek, her arms wrapping around him. She pulled back enough to draw Louis into the hug, Louis resting his head on her shoulder. Blue, green, and pink light swirled in the air above them.
One of the elders said, “Ahem. If you please, we would like to begin.” He tapped the top of his wooden cane. “There’s bowling at the Graansport in fifteen minutes and our team is due to play in the tournament.”
“There’s bowling here?” Louis asked.
“Oh, yes,” Anne said. “It’s very big right now.”
“Yes, of course we can get going,” Robin said, patting both Harry and Louis on the back. He smiled, jolly and warm. “This shouldn’t take long at all.”
The elders lined up facing Harry and Louis. Anne and Robin flanked them on either side, crowns of light appearing on their heads. Another soft breeze wafted through the trees, the sweet white flowers glistening silver and gold.
Harry stepped up to Louis with the white crown in his palms. Louis smiled so wide he let out a small laugh, Harry huffing choppy air out of his nose as he chuckled. Harry cleared his throat, his chin collapsing on his neck and a seriousness setting his brows. He lifted the crown and held it above Louis’ head.
“Louis of clan Tomlinson, Earth born and Balaavos Nala adopted. I, Harry of clan Styles, Prince of the Northern Universe, starburst born and Heart of the People, crown you owner and leader of planet Volurina Evra.” He let go of the crown. It slowly sank over Louis’ head, settling across his forehead. “May you rule with compassion, kindness and love until the stars are no more.”
A beam of light extended from the crown before it glowed at a more normal lightness. The crowd applauded politely, the trees droning soft, mellow instrumental music.
“Ooh, a bit tingly,” Louis whispered as he shivered. His eyes glimmered, his crown shining brighter. “That all has a better ring to it than Lord of the Seven Sinks.”
“I’m quite partial to that title of mine.”
Louis touched Harry’s matching crown, the pads of his fingers lighting up with tingling warmth. His eyes widened.
“Shit,” he winced, “I have to finish taking out the trash.”
“Oh! Right.” Harry held his hands out and Louis grasped them. “I’ve got to take Louis home, but I’ll be back for dinner.”
Louis bowed at the elders, nodding at Anne and Robin.
“Thanks for the crown! It’s really lovely. The planet, too. Can’t wait to surf there. Oh, and this guy.” He bumped the side of his head against Harry’s shoulder and grinned. “Thanks for him. He’s pretty lovely, too.” Harry leaned down as Louis tilted his head, their lips brushing together. Louis stood up straight and smirked at Harry. “Alright, spaceling. Let’s see that laserlight show you do so well.” . . .
. . .
“Lou?” She stepped onto the stoop and looked towards the row of dumpsters. “Louis?”
Louis’s head popped out from beside the diner’s dumpster, the rest of his body hidden by the wide metal.
“Hey! Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?”
“Your order is ready for that big group.”
“Okay, cool,” Louis said, still leaning out from behind the dumpster. “Will be there in a second. I spilled a bag.”
“Right. I’ll have Liam take it out to them. You can bus the back tables when you’re ready.” She went inside, then turned around and leaned out. “Oh, and could you take a look at the circuit breaker when you get a minute? The lights started flickering again.”
Louis’ voice cheerfully said, “Sure! Will do!” from behind the dumpster.
Jay went back inside the diner and into the bustling kitchen. She soaped up her hands. A dishwasher handed her a paper towel as the lights started to flicker slightly. The staff all went about their business as usual, some laughing and looking up to the lights.
“This place must be haunted,” Adrian said from the grill. He swirled his spatula in the air. “The spirits of cheeseburgers past.”
Jay laughed and tossed her towel in the trash.
“Maybe it’s aliens.”
Liam, Zayn, and Niall all froze with their trays in hand. Adrian rang the bell on the counter and the trio slowly backed out of the kitchen, all three smirking at each other. They passed the back door on the way to the dining room, Louis sneaking in as they walked by.
“Hey, man,” Liam said. “Alright?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Louis rapidly finger-combed the back of his damp hair. “I’m good.”
“Cool. Took you a while with the trash. Everything okay?”
“Yeah, well, you know.” Louis shrugged his right shoulder forward and smoothed his tee down his stomach. “Was raining.”
The three friends nodded and walked past Louis.
“Right, right,” Zayn said. He lowered his voice to add, “You’ve got alien on your mouth, bro.”
Louis quickly thumbed the corner of his lips and held his hand out.
“Shit,” he whispered, smearing the back of his hand on his mouth. “Ugh, it’s all over. Looks like I made out with a craft supplies store.”
The other three boys cackled as they went towards the dining room.
Niall’s voice sang, “Tell Haz we said hi next time he drops in.” His laughter was followed immediately by him saying, “Uh oh,” which was followed by the sound of his tray crashing to the floor.
“You’re hopeless, mate,” Liam laughed. “We’ll be back in a second to help you.”
The lights flickered once and Louis looked up. He sucked sweet gold glitter off the pad of his thumb as he smiled wider. He walked into the dining room hallway and put his hands on his hips.
“You need some help?”
Niall looked up at him, grateful and exhausted, broken plates balanced in both hands. Before he could answer, Louis held his palms out. The plate pieces floated out of Niall’s hands like a porcelain ballet in the air. The spilled food all reformed and lifted up onto the plates. Niall’s jaw dropped as his spilled order landed on top of his tray, the tray floating in front of him.
“Woah.” Niall stood up and took the tray. “So,” he narrowed his eyes, “is the gold stuff Harry’s jizz and it gives you magic powers?”
Louis laughed and nudged his shoulder.
“Get back to work. Mr. Collins is calling for you.”
“I don’t hear him.”
Louis picked up a bin of dirty dishes and tapped his temple. He winked once, his eyes shimmering neon turquoise.