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All Our Bruised Bodies and Whole Heart Shrinks

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                                                       ‘Tell me what your worst fears are, I bet they look a lot like mine –

                                                                          Tell me what you think about when you can’t fall asleep at night’

 

                                                        ‘Tell me that you’re struggling –

                                                                       Tell me that you’re terrified of life’

 

                                                                                                    ++

 

Selfish.
Selfish.
Selfish.

Louis squeezes his eyes shut, hands twitching anxiously by his sides. He bites his lip worriedly, foot tapping relentlessly against the tiled floor of the pub. He shouldn’t be here – he really shouldn’t be here.

Selfish.
Selfish.
Selfish.
Unlovable.

Louis groans, laying his head down against the cool surface of the bar. Why is he here? He shouldn’t be here.

“Mate, are you alright?” Someone asks beside him. Louis’ heart rate spikes at the voice, nearly falling off of the stool he was sitting on when he pulled his head up. Niall raises an eyebrow at his friend, reaching over to wrap his fingers around his wrist. Louis flinches, snatching his hand away before Niall can touch him. Louis cringes at the action, eyes meeting Niall’s. He shrugs his shoulders helplessly. He yelps when the crowd around them erupts in a cheer and Louis finally remembers that he’s in a crowded pub on New Year’s eve. He becomes hyper-aware of his surroundings, ,he feels the man next to him that is way too close for comfort, the people brushing past him as they try to get through the crowd behind him. He feels like he’s being watched, millions of eyes all looking, calculating, mocking Louis’ every move. Louis feels sick, he feels sick to his stomach. He starts to feel his throat closing up – not here, not in public.

Niall must see how panicked Louis feels, his mouth set in a frown (that absolutely does not belong on his face) and eyebrows scrunched together. “Too much?” Niall murmurs, a guilty look forming in his eyes. Louis shrugs again, trying to swallow past the knot in his throat.

“A-A tad bit.” Louis says softly, doubting that Niall even heard him above the noise and energy around them. Niall looks hurt, disappointed as soon as Louis says it, and it makes him feel like shit.

“Why did you agree to go out with me? Lou, you know I’d never drag you to a place like this if I knew you’d…” The words die off before they leave his mouth, but Louis gets it, he knows what he’s trying to say. ‘If I knew you’d have a melt down.’ Louis flinches at the thought, giving Niall an apologetic gaze.

“I-I’m sorry, I-” Louis flinches when Niall puts a hand on his shoulder. He looks at Niall and then the hand and it takes him a while to connect the two.

“I’m sorry I dragged you out of the house like a fucking arsehole,” Niall says, bright eyes dimmed by guilt. The knot in Louis’ throat only tightens at the sight.

Guilty.
Guilty.
Your fault.
Guilty.

“I-It’s okay.” Louis shrugs, trying to smile at Niall. Niall doesn’t seem convinced. He rubs the back of Louis’ neck, other hand tapping against the bar.

“No, it’s not okay, Louis,” Niall scolds, trying to keep his voice light. Louis feels like shit, he feels like shit because his brain won’t shut the fuck up, and because he’s disappointed his best friend in the entire fucking world. “You’re fucking shaking for Christ’s sake, I shouldn’t have even asked you to come out, I’m a shit friend.” Niall groans. Louis is completely taken back by the admission. Niall Horan, the personification of the sun, is a shit friend? Louis doesn’t believe that – not one bit.

Disappointment.
Disappointment.
You deserve it.
Disappointment.
All your fault.

Louis gives him a sad smile, reaching up to place a trembling hand on his cheek. Louis feels the tremor of his body start to sink into his bones, making his entire being feel off balanced, uneasy. He waits until Niall looks him in the eye, blue eyes slightly red with unshed tears.

“You’re n-not a shit friend, don’t ever think that,” Louis whispers, rubbing a thumb across Niall’s cheek. “You’re my best friend.” Louis says earnestly, heart beat slowing for a second. Niall smiles widely, eyes sparkling in the way they always did; like two sapphire gems shining in the light. He grabs ahold of Louis’ hand, giving a firm squeeze.

“Let’s get you some fresh air,” Niall says, pulling until Louis gets to his feet. Louis feels disoriented, a tight feeling forming in his chest. He feels Niall wrap and arm around his waist as he guides them through the crowd. Louis keeps his eyes closed, biting his bottom lip anxiously. He can feel people around them, closing in on them, closing in on him. He feels like he can’t breathe, he’s suffocating, the anchor Niall has on him is useless as Louis slips away into his own thoughts.

Crushing.
Crushing.
Guilty.
Worthless.
Worthless.
Your fault.
Guilty.

Louis opens his eyes just as Niall opens the door to the pub, the freezing December air slapping him in the face, nipping at his cheeks and nose. Once they're outside on the deserted pavement, Louis feels like he can breathe after drowning for years. He practically collapses into Niall’s arms, choking out a broken sob as he claws his nails into Niall’s sides. Niall wraps his arms around him, pulling him in. Louis can vaguely hear people starting to count in the pub, a new year seconds away from starting. He breathes in the familiar smell of Niall’s body wash, the smell of vanilla and something faintly woodsy grounding Louis. He sobs again into Niall’s chest, feeling weak, helpless, guilty. The guilt was overbearing, weighing him down, he didn’t deserve Niall, he didn’t deserve him. Niall shouldn’t have to put up with him and his endless problems.

He was too good for him; Niall was a pure, pure light in a world that seemed so dark and Louis was just the overbearing shade, holding Niall back.

“Happy New Year, Louis,” Niall says in a hushed tone, kissing the top of Louis’ head. That makes Louis cry even harder, tears rolling down his chin.

“I’m so sorry,” Louis replies weakly, sniffling softly. He feels Niall rubbing his back, humming lightly.

“You’re good; you’re doing so good, Lou,”

But he really wasn’t.

++

 

New year, same bullshit.

Is the first thought Louis has when he wakes up the following morning. His chest mildly aches, along with his body. It feels like he’d been climbing a mountain, body aching as he tries to turn onto his side. He panics when he feels a solid body next to him, but settles when he remembers Niall offered to sleep with him in his bed when they got home. Louis vaguely remember crying, remembers how the winter air seeped into his bones. He remembers how Niall wrapped his arms around him and held him, he held him for what seemed like hours in the freezing cold.

Louis didn’t deserve a best friend like Niall. He always took care of Louis, always made sure he was alright. He made sure that Louis didn’t sink too low into himself, made sure that Louis didn’t do anything drastic.
Louis blinks away that thought, an uneasy feeling crawling up his spine. He shifted with the feeling, skin crawling. Louis wrapped an arm around his torso, using his other to pillow his head as he stared at the ceiling. He smiles when he sees the small, plastic glow-in-the-dark stars stuck up there. Most of them didn’t even glow any more, but Louis liked them and the memory they had with them.

“Even when it’s cloudy, you can still see the stars.” Niall stated cheekily, bouncing on the bed to stick them to the ceiling.

That had been the first night they’d moved into their apartment; the first night Louis realized he didn’t like change.

The first night Louis actually wanted to be alive.

Louis smiles at the memory, how light and carefree he felt. He remembers laughing so hard that he fell off of his bed, holding his stomach while he did so. He remembers how after they’d settled in, Niall cooked them their first dinner in their new apartment (and how Niall almost burned down the kitchen in the process).

Louis wanted to feel like that again, like the world was on his side for a change. Niall did help to make him feel like that sometimes, but he knew he couldn’t rely solely on Niall to make him feel like life was worth living.

“Try to not to be so dependent on someone else.” His therapist had told him, after the – incident. Louis could only nod, fingers anxiously fiddling with his shirt.

He will leave.
He will leave.
He will leave.
You’re nothing.
You’re nothing.

Louis puts a hand over his eyes, head aching softly. He looks over at Niall, snorting when he sees Niall’s mouth hanging open, eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks, His hair was a mess, sticking up in random places.

Louis finds the strength to sit up after a few minutes, bones cracking into use. He yawns into his fist, scratching the back of his head as he gets up. He shuffles out of his room and down the hall to the bathroom. He looks at himself in the mirror with a grimace. He had dark bags under his eyes that made his eyes look brighter than they actually were. He had a scattering of stubble covering his chin, though he knew he wasn’t in the mood for shaving. His hair looks like a bird’s nest and Louis can see why Nick didn’t want him and why he left.

“Happy thoughts, Tommo,” Louis croaks softly, trying to smile at himself in the mirror. The positive affirmation thing is new to him, and so far it’s not really helping. But he isn’t going to give up quite yet.

Hopefully.

Niall is up and chirpy (as always) when Louis gets out of the shower. Louis can’t help but smile to himself, leaning against the doorway to the kitchen, hair still dripping wet and towel wrapped around his waist.

Niall jumps when he sees Louis, a grin forming on his lips. “Morning.” He says, eyes looking Louis up and down. Louis feels self-conscious, wrapping his arms around his torso. It doesn’t mean anything.

“Good morning,” Louis says softly, smiling lightly. “What’re you cooking?” Niall shrugs his shoulders, walking towards the fridge.

“Dunno’ yet. You feeling pancakes today?” Niall asks, already taking out a carton of eggs and milk. Louis shrugs, he really wasn’t that hungry, but he knew Niall would have a fit if he didn’t eat.

“Sounds ace, I’m going to go get dressed.” Louis announces, backing away to go down the hall to his room.

Louis stares down at his plate, scraping his fork against it. He managed to get half of his breakfast down, which put a big smile on Niall’s face. Niall always gets excited when Louis does basic things; getting out of bed on time, eating at least two meals a day, Louis didn’t really understand.

“Are you finished?” Niall asks, pointing to his plate. Louis shrugs, his stomach turning when he looks down at the plate again.

“Yea, you want the rest?” Louis asks, slipping the plate towards Niall. Niall beams, scraping the rest of his pancakes onto his own plate. Niall chews happily, eyes flitting between his plate and Louis.

“Oh yea, I’m going back home for a few days, wanna see the family and all.” Niall murmurs lightly, mouth set in a firm line. He watches Louis carefully, pancakes forgotten. Louis shifts uncomfortably in his chair, avoiding Niall’s eyes. Louis allows himself to be sad for only a few seconds, heart dropping to his stomach. Niall hadn’t seen his family in almost a year, he needed this and yet, Louis feels close to tears with that thought of Niall leaving.

Selfish.
Selfish.
Selfish.

Louis shakes his head, blinking a few times before looking up at Niall. He gives him what he hopes is a smile, but it feels more like a grimace.

“That’s nice, when are you planning on leaving?” Louis asks nonchalantly, playing with the hem of his shirt. Niall reaches across the table, putting a hand over Louis’ hand.

“Well, I was planning to leave today,” Niall says sheepishly, an apologetic look in his eye. The fact that Niall has to be apologetic for wanting to see his family has Louis struggling to not let those thoughts take over.

Selfish.
Selfish.
Your fault.
Selfish.
Selfish.
Selfish.

“You’ll be alright, yea? Take care of yourself?” Niall asks, tone hopeful. Louis bites his lip, fingers wrapping around Niall’s. He flits his eyes up to look at Niall, nodding.

“Yea, I-I’ll be fine, promise,” Louis says lightly, smiling to make his point, Niall matches his smile, eyes crinkling at the corners. “It’s only a few days, right?” Niall hums in confirmation, thumb rubbing against Louis’ knuckles.

“Yea, just a few days, ‘m coming right back, promise.” Niall says, a small smile on his lips. The knot forming in Louis’ chest loosens slightly, but the overbearing thought of what if you don’t weighs like an anchor on his mind.

“I’m glad you’re going, I can finally get some much needed peace and quiet.” Louis snorts playfully, taking a sip of his tea. Niall puts a hand to his chest, faux surprise on his expression.

“Oh, how you wound me.”

Louis stands anxiously at the door, his heart sinking down to his feet when Niall zips up his backpack, putting it onto his shoulders. Niall smiles at him, though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Call me if you need something, anything, okay?” Niall asks, pulling Louis into a tight hug. Louis feels him squeeze the air out of his lungs, but he doesn’t mind it, he enjoys being in Niall’s space, breathing him in. His arms wrap around his neck, face burying into his chest.

“Okay,” Louis mumbles against his chest, not missing the way Niall squeezes him one last time before pulling him away. He holds onto Louis’ shoulders, mouth a hard line.


“I love you,” Niall says earnestly, kissing Louis’ forehead. Louis freezes at the sentences, eyes, wide and jaw slack. They say ‘I love you’ to each other all the time, but this time, it felt different. It felt different and it made Louis worried about what that would mean. Louis nods again, because that’s the only thing he can do. Niall looks unsure for a second before leaning down, kissing Louis on the lips. It’s chaste and Louis is so stunned, he can’t even move.

Niall lets go of him, blushing as he moves past him to open the door, “Don’t miss me too much,” Niall comments, winking at Louis playfully before he walks out the door, shutting it behind him.

Louis stares at the door for a few minutes, the feeling of Niall’s lips still on his. A feeling arises in his chest, one that he hasn’t dared let come up again since the incident.

Louis was so fucked.

Chapter Text

                                                                            ‘I thought I heard a plane, crashing -
                                                                                             but now I think it was your passion, snapping’

 

                                                                               ‘There are ghosts in the walls and
                                                                                            they crawl in your head through your ear’

                     

                                                                                                                   ++

 

“You are fucking disgusting,” Nick spits humorlessly, long, thin fingers tapping against the counter. Louis shifts uncomfortably, fingers clawing at his thighs. He wanted to leave, he wanted to be swallowed up by the ground beneath him. Nick sneers when Louis doesn’t reply, running his fingers through his hair.

“I’m s-sorry,” Louis replies lamely after awhile, eyes glued to the ground. He hears Nick scoff and that makes Louis look up and immediately regret it.

Nick’s eyes are bright with irritation, disgust, hate towards Louis. “Two years, I give you two years and this is what you give me in return?” Nick asks, rolling his eyes when Louis bites his lip.

“I-I’m sick, I-I can’t function like you can, I-”

“You’re fucking useless is what you are, Louis,” Nick cuts in, hands gripping the edge of the counter. It feels like a stab to his abdomen when he says it, and Louis wraps his arms around his torso, trying to make himself as small as possible. Louis yelps when Nick walking away abruptly, fingers caught in his hair. He turns to face Louis, face paler than usual. He looked worn, tired, as if he’d been beaten down by years of hardship. “I tried to help you, Louis, two years. Two years I gave you, to help you get better but I, I can’t do that anymore, Louis. I can’t sit here and wait for you to catch up, I’m sorry.” Louis is shaking, fingers digging painfully into his sides. He chokes down the sob that’s threatening to escape his throat, biting into his lower lip.

He knew this day was coming, he knew Nick would eventually leave him. But he couldn’t bare the thought, so he did the thing he did best – he ignored it. He pushed it down and buried it with blissful ignorance. He could feel Nick slipping away from him, could feel it for months now and still did nothing to stop it.

Stupid.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Your fault.
Failure.
Failure.

“N-Nick, do you l-love m-me?” Louis croaks out softly, eyes blurry with unshed tears. He wouldn’t leave if he loved him, right? People don’t just leave the people they love, they don’t –

“No, I don’t.”

Louis practically zones out after that, he vaguely hears Nick say something else, but it’s muffled behind the loud ringing in his ears.

Fuck up.
Fuck up.
Fuck up.
Waste of space.
Fuck up.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Not enough.
Not enough.

He stares blankly at his lap, tears rolling down his face, but he couldn’t feel them. He couldn’t feel anything. He felt – numb, he felt numb to everything but his thoughts. Why do you have to fuck up everything good in your life?

He’s snapped back into reality by the slam of the door, the ringing in his ears silencing. He looks around the room, Nick nowhere to be seen.

“Fuck,” Louis chokes, a sob racking through him violently. He shudders, curling in on himself. The numbing feeling disappears, replaced by pain, pain that radiated from his chest outward to every inch of his body. He cries harder than he’s ever had in his life. The pain aches in his bones, making his head throb and his stomach flip.

Screw up.
Screw up.
Your fault.
Your fault.
End it.
End it.
End it.

He hasn’t felt this disgusted with himself in so long. He feels vile, poisoning everything that he touches. He doesn’t understand why he’s here, why he’s even trying to make things better for himself.

At the end of the day, he’s nothing. He’s nothing to everyone, and he doesn’t see a point in living anymore.

End it.
End it.
End it.
End it.

He doesn’t remember walking into the bathroom, but he figured that it didn’t really matter. He looks at himself in the mirror and is immediately disgusted with himself. He opens the medicine cabinet, taking out the bottle of sleeping pills Niall kept hidden behind his shampoo.

End it.
End it.
End it.

He stares at the bottle, fingers trembling as he rotates it in his hand. HIs mind is void of all thoughts, except for disgust, disappointment, failure.

“Fucking worthless,” Louis whispers quietly to himself, twisting off the top of the bottle. He slides down the wall, pulling his knees up to his chest. He looks into the bottle, noticing there were only a few pills left.

End it.
End it.
End it.

It’s just that – he felt so tired. He felt tired of being alive and trying to make the most of it. He didn’t see point in life – humans live to die.

Louis was so stupid. He was so stupid in thinking that there was still hope for him; that there was still hope for a selfish, worthless, human being like him. Nick confirmed every single doubt that he had about himself, in the end, Louis was nothing.

And that’s what he’ll always be – nothing.

He shakes out the rest of the pills into the palm of his hand, heart thumping against his chest. He doesn’t hesitate to put them all in his mouth at once; swallowing them dry. He leans his head back against the wall, letting the bottle slip from his fingers.

For a few minutes he sits there, waiting to feel something, anything to fill the gaping void inside of his chest. He opens his eyes, noticing how everything is fuzzy around the edges.

Then all at once, it feels like he’s falling. He swallows past the knot in his throat, letting the feeling take him further into darkness.

“Louis?” He hears distantly, but he doesn’t pay attention to it. Louis tries to open his eyes, but they feel glued shut. “Louis, wake up.”

Louis grumbles at the voice, faintly recognizing it as Niall’s. He feels his fingertips start to tingle as Niall says something else, but he couldn’t quite catch it.

“C’mon, Louis, don’t do this to me.” Niall speaks directly in his ear. He sounds distressed, but Louis doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand why.

“Sleep.” Louis slurs softly, trying and failing to move his head.

The last thing he hears before passing out is Niall saying, “You’re not dying on me. Stay alive.”

 

 

Louis wakes up with the startle, a light sheen of sweat forming on his forehead. He looks around wildly, head pounding angrily. “Fuck.”

He opens his eyes, blinking a few times to see clearly. He must’ve fell asleep on the couch after Niall left.

Niall left.

Louis’ heart immediately drops at the realization. He needed him, especially after the dream – memory he just had. His skin crawled as he thought about it; that day was the lowest that Louis had ever been. He still remembers how he felt, how lost, heartbroken, numb. Everything was numb.

He remembers very vividly all of the things Nick said to him as well, the comments repeating nonstop since the day he broke up with him.

Useless.
Stupid.
Worthless.
Disgusting.

Louis scrunches his nose, the memory as well as the head ache radiating pain throughout his body.

He hears his phone buzz somewhere in the distance but he ignores it, getting up to go to Niall’s room. He knew he shouldn’t be in Niall’s room when he isn’t home, but he was in desperate need of an aspirin. Louis opens the door, feeling around on the wall until he found the light switch. He flinches, the sudden bright light making his headache even worse.

“Fuck,” Louis curses lowly, squinting as he enters the room. Sometimes, Louis is surprised at how neat Niall’s room is. He kept everything in order; Football trophies lined immaculately on one of the shelves above his bed, books and movies stacked neatly into his bookcase by his desk, bed neatly made. He shuts the door behind him, immediately walking towards his bedside table. He pulls open the top drawer, blushing when he sees a few condoms and two bottles of lube in there. He pushes those away, groping the inside of the drawer until he finds what he’s looking for. Louis opens the bottle, shaking out two pills. He swallows, memories of that day flashing into his mind.

He shakes his head, reaching down to put the bottle back inside the drawer when he notices something. It’s a bracelet, but upon further inspection, he sees that it’s his old hospital bracelet.

“What the hell?” Louis whispers, picking it up out of the drawer. Louis swallows down the two pills, fiddling with the bracelet in his left hand. He sits down on Niall’s bed, pulling the bracelet between his fingers.

Tomlinson, Louis W.
Suicide Watch

Why does Niall have this? Why would he keep it? It’s been nearly two years since it happened, so why keep something like this around? Louis scowls down at the little, white wristband, the memory of waking up in a cold hospital bed ripe in his mind. He remembers feeling like there was a weight on his chest, holding down his entire body. He gets a chill down his spine and decides to put the wristband back where it was.

When he gets back to the living room, he hears his phone buzz on the coffee table again. When he picks it up, he notices that he has several unread texts from Niall.

Niall:

About to board my plane! Missing you x

Niall:

I hope you eat something tonight, there’s leftover take out in the fridge x

Niall:

Are you alright?

Niall:

Lou, answer me pls x

Niall:

You’re worrying me a bit

Niall:

Louis, call me right now

Louis cringes at the last text, heart rate rising. He dials Niall’s number, biting his lip anxiously. It rings for a matter of five seconds before Louis hears Niall’s soft answer. “Louis?”

Louis can’t help the queasy feeling he gets in his stomach when Niall breathes out his name, tone sounding relieved. “Hi, Niall.” Louis replies, softly, sitting down on the couch.

There’s a soft chuckle on the other end which makes Louis smile, “You had me worried there, babe.” Niall replies easily, smile obvious in his voice. Louis blushes at the pet name. Niall calls him babe all the time, but again, it feels different and Louis has yet to figure out why.

“I was taking a nap, sorry.” Louis laughs, wrapping an arm around his torso.

Niall is silent for a few seconds on the other end, and for a moment, Louis panics until Niall speaks again. “I’m sorry I woke you then. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.” Niall admits and Louis’ heart nearly bursts out of his chest. Yea, Louis was really screwed.

“I’m fine, Niall. I can take care of myself, y’know?” Louis says. Louis appreciated Niall looking out for him, he really did, but sometimes it got too much. Louis may be a little unstable, but he was getting better and Niall’s constant worrying over him made him feel like a child.

“Right. Yea, I-I know you can. It’s just that...t-that after what happened…” Niall tries and fails to find the words before deciding against it, hoping Louis understood what he was trying to say. Louis got it, he could it loud and clear.

“Niall, it’s been nearly two years, I’m better now. Really.”

Niall doesn’t say anything, the only sound being his breathing and background noise, “I know, I just, I love you.” Niall breathes softly, “And I just want you to be okay, like, really okay.”

Louis blushes even harder at his words, sinking lower into the couch, “And I’ll get there one day, Ni, but it can’t all be up to you to make it happen.” Louis sighs, “I appreciate you looking out for me, but you’re my best mate, not my mum.” Louis laughs. Niall chuckles on the other end.

“I should go, I have a plane to catch,” Niall says, making Louis’ heart drop a little, “I’ll talk to you later, Lou. I love you.”

Louis smiles to himself, fingers tapping against his side, “I love you too, be safe.”

“Always am.” Niall hangs up before Louis could say anything back, which makes him pout.

Something is changing between the two of them, and the fact that Louis has absolutely no idea what that something is terrifies him beyond belief.

He will leave.
He will leave.
He will leave.

He pulls at the collar of his shirt, the familiar feeling of anxiety creeping up his spine. He gets up from the couch, walking towards the bathroom.

Unfortunately, a shower doesn’t help the feeling leave. He steps out of his room, hair still damp as he realizes that it’s quiet – too quiet and it unsettled Louis. He turns on the TV, trying to make himself feel okay. He wanted to be okay, he needed to feel okay for himself and for Niall.

Fuck, he really missed him.

Louis stares at the ceiling blankly, trying to quiet his overbearing thoughts. His mind starts to wonder, and suddenly he’s reminded of earlier.

Niall had kissed him.

Niall had kissed him on – on the lips.

Louis groans pitifully, rubbing his hands down his face. What does this mean? Why kiss him? Why kiss him now?

Nothing made sense. If he’s being honest, nothing had made sense since the day he came back from the hospital, maybe even before that.

“Fuck,” Louis hisses lowly, rubbing at his eyes angrily. He needed to talk to someone about this. This wasn’t some unimportant little thing, this was something big and possibily life changing (he thinks).

He could call Niall, but he immediately shuts that idea down – he couldn’t just ask why he decided to kiss him on the lips. That would be weird, and awkward and Louis didn’t need that in his life. Not now, anyway. He thinks about it for another few minutes, and before he could stop himself, he’s dialing a number.

“Hello?” The voice answers after a second, and Louis feels like he’s made a mistake.

“Hi, Harry,” Louis practically whispers into the receiver, “It’s been a while.”

There’s a swift intake of breath followed by a low chuckle on the other end, “It has. Far too long for that matter.”

It’s not that Louis had been avoiding him ever since he’d gotten out of the hospital, it’s just that he needed space. He needed space to sort himself out and being around the best friend of the dickhead who broke your heart wasn’t a good person to keep around. Once Louis got better, he meant to call and tell him everything was okay, but he just never got to it. He was afraid of what would happen and the fear of that lead to him not calling for weeks; those weeks turning into nearly two years before Louis even realized it.

“I know,” Louis breathes softly, “Sorry.” Harry hums in confirmation, staying silent for a minute.

“You don’t have to apologize, Lou. I should be the one apologizing to you.” Harry says, his voice low and languid as always. Louis scrunches his brows together at the statement.

“Why do you need to apologize to me?”

There’s a pause on the other end, and Louis fears that Harry might’ve hung up until he speaks again, “What happened that – that stayed with me, Lou, I, I should’ve seen that coming, I-”

“-Can we not bring that up, please?” Louis asks softly, chest already aching at the memory.

“Right, right...um, sorry,” Harry replies in return, “So uh, w-why did you call?”

That was a good question, why did Louis call. Louis rolled his bottom lip between his thumb and index finger, shrugging even though he knows Harry can’t see him.

“I just, I need to talk to someone about...something that happened. I can’t talk to Niall because, well, it involves him.”

Harry huffs out a laugh, the sound bright and carefree and it makes Louis’ shoulders less tense and the cold, lingering feeling that always settled in his bones become warmer. He missed Harry so much.

“Well, do you...do you wanna’ meet up? To talk about it or something?” Harry offers, a hint of hopefulness in his tone. Louis considers it for a moment, shrugging with a sense of finality.

“Yea, yea I’d love to, H.”