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Fake Tears and Garlic Bread

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Louis had a brilliant idea.

Well, all of his ideas were brilliant (no matter what Zayn said), but this one was particularly brilliant, if Louis said so himself.

“I have a brilliant idea.” Louis announced dramatically, plopping himself down on the sofa next to Liam. Liam grunted, not bothering to look up from his phone, “You know how I’m a broke-as-fuck student who can no longer afford food? Well, all of that is about to change, because I have come up with my most brilliant plan yet.”

“The reason you can’t afford food is because you blew this month’s savings on a foosball table,” Liam said, gaze still fixed intently on his phone, “I told you, if you started budgeting and stopped blowing your money on random unnecessary crap-”

“That foosball table was not unnecessary-”

“Louis, you broke it two days after you bought it when you got drunk, climbed on it and decided to, and I quote, ‘show those tiny plastic men how real football is played’ before falling through-“

“Shut up Liam you’re interrupting my brilliant idea,” Louis dismissed Liam with a wave of his hand, “Anyway, I was perusing through this wonderful invention known as the internet-”

“’Perusing’, that’s a big word, did you learn it from this wonderful invention-”

Lee-yum stop interrupting me. So I was perusing the internet when I happened upon some tweets of this guy who was pretending that he had a blind date, but got stood up. He was really laying it on thick, right, letting a few tears slip and everythin- Liam, are you even listening to me?” Louis scowled at Liam, who was still focusing his attention on the phone, instead of the most important thing in the room (Louis).

“Sorry I’ve almost beaten level 57 on Candy Crush,” Liam grunted in response, before finally dropping his phone and levelling his attention at Louis, “Sorry mate, what’s your point?”

“My point,” Louis grinned, slightly manically, “Is that the restaurant felt so bad for him they let him off paying the bill. This genius got free food.

“So what, you think you too can squeeze out a few tears at a fancy restaurant and they’ll feel bad enough to not make you pay for your meal?” Liam looked sceptical. But then again, Liam always looked sceptical so Louis didn’t really think much of it.

“Liam, I’m a drama student. You know what that means? I’m a bloody great actor, and I’m going to act my little heart out for a free plate of fish and chips. It’d be a good way to advance my acting skills, plus I get a free meal.” Louis was an absolute genius. He wondered if he’d be able to put this on his work resume. Liam however, didn’t seem to think so, as he merely grunted in reply and then went back to his phone.

Louis sighed loudly, “You’re a shit best friend, Liam. Shit, I’m telling you. Where the hell is Zayn, I’m sure he’d be more receptive to hearing my genius plan.”

“Don’t worry, I heard all of it,” Zayn’s voice came from somewhere in the kitchen, “And honestly? I don’t think you can pull it off.”

Louis squawked indignantly, “What do you mean I can’t pull it off? I’m a bloody drama student-”

“I’m pretty sure expensive restaurants don’t care whether you’ve been stood up by a date or stabbed in the back by one of their waiters and are bleeding out all over their expensive tablecloths, they’ll still make you pay,” Zayn emerged from the kitchen carrying a mug of tea, before sitting down on Louis’ other side.

“I bet you anything I can get a free meal by pretending to have been stood up by a date,” Louis pouted, and Zayn rolled his eyes.

“Tell you what, go down to that fancy Italian place down the road and if you can get a free meal, I’ll buy you McDonalds for a week. How does that sound?”

Louis grinned, just as Liam gave a celebratory shout and pumped his fist in the air, “Yes! I beat level 57!” Louis resisted the urge to push him off the sofa. Trust Liam to celebrate levelling up on Candy Crush over Louis’ genius ideas.

Instead, whilst Zayn was distracted by Liam’s cheering, Louis used the opportunity to steal Zayn’s mug of tea.

-

“Good evening sir, how may I help you?” a short, round waiter greeted Louis at the entrance to the restaurant.

Louis flashed his most charming smile, “I have a reservation for two tonight? At eight?”

The waiter beamed at him, “What name is it under?”

“Well, supposedly my date made the reservation, so should be under…” Louis pretended to check his phone, “Um…Jamie.”

“Ah yes,” the waiter crossed something out in his book, “Follow me sir.”
He led Louis to a table for two at the corner near a window. Louis mentally gave himself a fist bump. So far, so good. The waiter did not seem suspicious.

“Can I get you anything to drink whilst you wait?”

“A bottle of water please, with ice in the glasses. Oh, and he most expensive bottle of wine you have,” Louis’s grin was threatening to break his face in half, “Only the best for my darling Jamie. He’s got a truly exquisite taste for wine. Oh and maybe a bread basket too, Jamie simply adores baked goods.”

“Of course sir,” the waiter nodded, smiling (Louis assumes in a ‘oh how cute of a totally real couple’ kinda way), before walking away.

Louis quickly whipped out his phone to fire off a text to Zayn, grinning smugly.

Going well. Looking forward to my Maccy-Ds, Zaynie-poo.

Zayn replied less than a minute later. You’re an idiot, Boobear. Louis frowned at his phone, before another text appeared; FYI nothing is set until you don’t actually have to pay.

Louis sent back a few sunglasses emojis and tucked his phone away, opening his menu just as a waiter appeared with his wine and water. This was a different waiter from last time, a tall man with a moustache and a shiny, bald head. Louis was distracted for a moment admiring the moustache, almost missing his question.

“Would you like two glasses for the wine or just one?”

“Two please,” Louis said perkily, “My date should be here any moment, so would be a nice surprise, right?”

“Yes sir,” the waiter nodded, pouring out the wine, “Would you like to order now or wait for your uh…” the waiter glanced at the empty seat in front of Louis, “date?”
“I think I’ll wait, I doubt he’d appreciate me ordering on his behalf. He’s only five minutes late,” Louis bit his lip in what he hoped was a slightly nervous and insecure manner. The waiter nodded understandingly, before leaving Louis to scan the menu.

But bloody hell this place was expensive. Louis really hoped his plan would work; otherwise he’d have to climb out of the bathroom window like some sort of ashamed one night stand. Except a one food stand… or something. Anyway.

Louis sent several thumbs up emojis to Zayn before sighing loudly and pouring some water into both his and his (fake) date’s glasses. He popped some ice in as well, for dramatic effect. Then he sighed, mentally congratulated himself and helped himself to some wine.

-

Twenty minutes later, the bread basket had been brought (and devoured), half the bottle of wine was missing and there was still no date. He noticed the short, round waiter and the tall bald waiter shooting him vaguely concerned looks, so he sighed loudly and took out his phone, dialling Liam’s number.

“Hello?” Liam’s voice came out gruff, like he’d just been woken from sleep. Trust Liam to take a nap at 8.20pm on a Saturday.

“Do you remember what time Jamie said he’d be here?” Louis asked loudly, shooting a glance at the waiters to make sure they could hear.

“Who the fuck is Jamie?” Liam sounded annoyed.

“I definitely texted him to meet me at eight, unless he said something different to you?” Louis shot a look at the waiters.

“What? Who said something different to me?” now Liam sounded confused. Louis imagined he was probably scratching his chin.

“Ok so definitely eight then, huh. Maybe he’s just running late or something?”

“Have you been smoking something weird with Zayn again?” Liam asked suspiciously, “I told him he shouldn’t use that Simon guy as his weed dealer, the guy smells of mothballs and looks vaguely like a paedo-”

“He’s probably just stuck in traffic or something,” Louis raised his voice slightly, “I know he wouldn’t be late on purpose, he knows how stressed I’ve been with the lab report lately. He’s promised to take me out for weeks now!”

“What lab report? You’re a drama student?!”

“Do you think he’d mind if I ordered for him?” Louis paused for a moment, and nodded to himself, “Well I know what he’d want so I might as well. I’ll try and give him a call now as well, good idea. Thanks Liam!”

“What-” Liam managed to get out before Louis hung up on him, and beckoned the waiter over.

“Is everything alright sir?” asked the short, round waiter (Billy, his nametag said).

“Of course, of course, my date should be here any moment,” Louis gave a nervous laugh, darting his eyes towards the entrance of the restaurant and pausing for a moment, “I might as well order for him now though, he’d probably appreciate it. How long does it typically take for food to get here?”

“Starters are usually about fifteen minutes sir, and mains half an hour,” the waiter looked vaguely sympathetic. Good, Louis thought.

“Excellent. In that case, I’ll have the soup of the day for starter, and spaghetti bolognaise for main. Jamie doesn’t like starters, never been one for foreplay our Jamie,” Louis winked at the waiter, who looked unamused, “so he’ll just go for spaghetti carbonara.”

“Excellent choice sir,” the waiter nodded, before scurrying off.

The plan is working. Jamie has not showed up, and the waiters are looking at me pityingly, Louis typed out another text to Zayn.

They’re probably looking at you pityingly because your life is a mess, Zayn texted back, also because you put too much product in your hair.

Louis scoffed, sipping more wine. He put just the right amount of product in his hair, thank you very much Zayn. He hoped his quiff wasn’t wilting.

--

After a whole week of being cooped up indoors, Harry had finally finished and handed in his literature paper to his professor and, as a reward, his friends decided to take him out.

There was a bit of an argument as to where they would actually take Harry, but Niall had apparently won the game of ‘rock paper scissors’ against Nick and this is why, instead of being out at a club like Nick had suggested, Harry was currently squished in between Niall, Nick and Jeff at the fancy Italian place Niall had said served garlic bread that tasted of ‘angel tears and orgasms’. Niall had not shut up about the garlic bread for the last week, and was currently busy wolfing down his third one. Jeff had been quiet the entire evening, choosing to text his new girlfriend instead of participating in the table conversation.

Thus it left Harry with only Nick as a conversation partner. And Nick, who had managed to drink a whole bottle of wine by himself already, was currently treating Harry to a running commentary of his judgements of the other customers in the restaurants. Harry was only half listening, fiddling with his slice of bread and grunting whenever Nick paused.

Suddenly, Nick jabbed him painfully in the side with his elbow, pointing towards a table in the corner.

“Looks like somebody got stood up,” he cackled gleefully. Harry peered over to where he was pointing, observing a young man around Harry’s age with soft looking hair and pixie-like features.

“He kinda looks like Peter Pan,” Harry said thoughtfully.

Nick rolled his eyes, “Never mind what he looks like, the poor fuckers been stood up. This is hilarious!”

“That’s very cruel of you, Nick,” Harry frowned. The boy looked nice, and Harry couldn’t imagine why anyone would stand someone like that up, “Maybe his date’s just late?”

“He arrived at precisely eight, and it’s been thirty minutes. Either his date is a colossal douchebag, or he’s been stood up. Judging by the fact he keeps putting his phone to his ear before instantly withdrawing it and frowning, I’m going to take a wild guess that his ‘date’”, Nick imitated quotation marks, “is not replying to his calls. The only reason that might be is that, you guessed it - he’s been stood up.”

“Been watching him for half an hour Nick, that’s a bit creepy.” Niall piped up through a mouthful of garlic bread.

“I spotted him as soon as he came in,” Nick smirked, “That arse is just too good to miss.”

Harry tried to subtly catch a glance of said arse, but as the boy was sitting this proved impossible. He did manage to catch the boy’s eye though, and Harry turned away, blushing slightly as the boy raised an eyebrow at him.

“Poor guy,” Niall shrugged, before stuffing more garlic bread in his mouth.

“Niall can you just focus on finishing your garlic bread please,” Jeff made a disgusted face at Niall’s plate, looking up from his phone, “They won’t bring us our mains until you’ve finished all your starters and it’s been almost an hour. Plus I’m pretty sure Nick is about to order another bottle of wine and then we run the risk of him hitting on anything that moves, and us getting kicked out.”

“You wound me Jeff darling,” Nick put his arm around a bemused Jeff’s shoulder, “Why are you so cranky? Trouble in paradise with Glenne?”

Harry zoned out as Jeff tried to defend his girlfriend’s honour, focusing his attention back to the boy in the corner. He was now running his hands impatiently through his hair and looking forlornly at his phone. Harry’s heart ached slightly, and for a moment he considered going up to the boy and giving him a hug, but he had a feeling that might be Nick-style creepy and he didn’t really want to get kicked out of the restaurant for randomly harassing one of its customers.

His staring must not have been as subtle as Harry thought, as suddenly Niall cackled from next to him.

“Harry appears to have the hots for loner-boy!”

“Don’t call him that,’ Harry frowned at Niall, “it’s not his fault he got stood up.”

“Maybe it is his fault though?” Nick turned his attention away from harassing Jeff back to Harry, “Maybe he’s overly clingy? Or he’s one of those psycho boyfriends who gets jealous of your cat and tries to throw it out of your apartment window?”

“Was that James or Andy?” Niall looked at Nick.

“Andy. James tried to drown poor Snuffles.”

“Who the hell names their cat Snuffles?” Jeff muttered, before going back to his phone.

“Anyway, the focus right now is on Harry here, and his weird and sudden infatuation with Mr Stood-up-by-his-date over there.” Nick threw an arm around Harry’s shoulders.

“It’s not an infatuation, I’m merely worried for his well-being. Talking from experience, getting stood up really sucks,” Harry mumbled, turning his gaze away from the pretty boy in the corner.

“Hmm, maybe I should go cheer him up for you,” Nick nudged Harry, “What do you think he’d say to a quick blowie in the bathroom?”

Harry scowled at Nick, shrugging off his arm, as Niall cackled, “This is a fancy establishment, Nicholas, keep your dirty ways to the nightclubs.”

“I could have been having many dirty ways in a nightclub right now if someone didn’t force us to come here instead,” Nick grumbled.

“Wait until you try their spaghetti and meatballs, mate, then you’ll forget all about nightclubs-.”

Harry drowned the rest of the conversation out, going back to shooting terribly unsubtle glances at the boy.

-

It had now been close to an hour. Louis had polished off his starter and the entire bottle of wine (save for his fake date’s glass- he had to be convincing) and was currently pretending to nervously chew at his fingernails. He was slightly tipsy though, and kept biting his fingers by accident instead.

The inhabitants of the tables next to him kept shooting him sympathetic and vaguely worried glances, and he spotted the waiters whispering nervously and pointing at him from the corner of his eye. This was going brilliantly.

The ice in fake-Jamie’s water had all melted, which Louis thought added to the sadness of the situation, and Louis had pretended to call Jamie a total of twelve times, each time sighing sadly at his phone when nobody picked up. In order to make it more convincing he had also began glancing repeatedly at the entrance of the restaurant, craning his neck and even leaning forward excitedly every time someone new came into the restaurant, before forlornly slumping back down when he saw it wasn’t his date.

He was ready for his main now though, so he decided to whip out the big guns.

He called up Liam again.

“Liam he’s still not shown up!” he exclaimed loudly, making the woman at the table next to him jump slightly and turn wide eyes at him, “It has been an hour now! I just texted Zayn and he said there’s no traffic in the city centre, so that can’t be the reason for his delay!”

“Louis stop calling me.” Liam said as a way of greeting. What a terrible best friend. Louis made a mental note to slip something red in his white laundry, “Also, are you drunk? How much wine have you had?”

“No, you don’t understand, he always does this! He always promises and promises and then lets me down!” Louis cried dramatically, his words slurring slightly. Two years of drama school had all led up to this moment, “Don’t I deserve more? Don’t I deserve something better, Liam? Am I not a good person?”

“You’re a terrible person and I’m considering getting a new roommate,” Liam said flatly.

“No I told you, I’ve tried calling him over and over and he hasn’t picked up! I’ve texted him repeatedly and still nothing!” Louis saw Billy the waiter approaching hesitantly, so he took the opportunity to exclaim to Liam, “If he’s cheating on me with that slut Pedro again then I’m going to cut his balls of, I swear to god Liam!” Billy squeaked and scurried away quickly.

“Sweet Jesus I do not deserve this,” Liam muttered, and Louis heard what sounded like Liam banging his head against a hard surface.

“I’ve given him too many chances now Liam! If he doesn’t turn up within the next ten minutes, I’m leaving him. He’s treated me like shit long enough! Pedro can have him, I don’t care!” Louis was practically shouting at this point.

“I’m hanging up now and turning off my phone. Call Zayn instead.” Liam grumbled.

“No I’m done with him! I’m done!” Louis said dramatically, as Liam hung up on him. Louis stared, scandalised at his phone. Maybe he should shave Liam’s head again.

“Is everything alright sir?” the second waiter (nametag said Elijah) approached Louis timidly.

Louis stared at him, and then promptly burst into tears. Very loud, slightly drunk tears. The waiter looked like he was about to have a heart attack.

“Just…just bring my main course please,” Louis sobbed, wiping the tears from his eyes, “There’s still a chance Jamie might turn up. He wouldn’t just leave me here, not after all the shit I’ve been through this last few weeks.”

“Of course sir, don’t you worry,” the waiter nodded frantically, before scurrying off. Louis saw him whispering something hurriedly to the other waiter, and they both shot Louis a frightened glance before separating.

Louis could practically taste the success at this point. He was an absolute genius.

I’m an absolute genius, he texted both Zayn and Liam, followed by a succession of moneybag emojis.

-

“Oh my gosh, is he crying?” Nick sounded ecstatic, clapping his hands together like some sort of supervillain.

“Poor guy, must be having a really rough evening,” Jeff frowned at Nick’s delight.

“Well, he did just get stood up,” Niall chipped in, “Hey, maybe I should offer him some garlic bread? That should cheer him up.”

“What is it with you and garlic bread?” Nick scoffed, “Besides, won’t exactly mend his broken heart, its not that good.”

Niall gasped, “You take that back! At least he has a heart, albeit a broken one, unlike you, you cold-blooded vampire.”

Nick grinned toothily at Niall. The first time Harry had introduced Niall to Nick, Niall had just had 15 shots (something about ‘doing Ireland proud’) and spent an hour asking Nick if he could show him his coffin. Nick had assumed that was some sort of (terrible) pickup line, and the evening had ended with Niall screaming and throwing garlic buds at Nick. Nick complained that his quiff smelled of garlic for days after that. Since then, they’d treated it as some sort of terrible inside joke between the two of them.

“His date is a twat,” Harry announced, interrupting Niall and Nick, “if I had someone that pretty wanting to have dinner with me, I’d probably arrive an hour early and take him somewhere much nicer.”

“Aww Hazza, what a sappy romantic you are,” Nick cooed, “Maybe you should go and tell him that, might cheer him up.”

“You think?” Harry perked up, “Maybe I should offer to be his date instead?”

“I wasn’t serious mate,” Nick snorted, “But whilst you’re at it give his beautiful arse a shoutout from me. I’ve never been one to let art go by unappreciated.”

“He’d probably upend your food in your quiff,” Niall grinned, “Harry’s sweet at least. The guys already in a bad mood from being stood up, don’t think he’d appreciate comments objectifying him from someone like you.”

Whilst Nick spluttered indignantly, Harry looked over the boy thoughtfully. He looked distraught; his hairstyle messed up from how often he nervously ran his hands through it, and his eyes were slightly puffy from crying. Harry felt tugging at his heartstrings just looking at him, and he wanted nothing more than to make him smile and be happy. Fuck the asshole that stood him up, Harry had made up his mind.

“I’m going in guys.” He announced to the table. Niall cheered slightly, holding out his hand for a high five that Harry eagerly returned, “Wish me luck!”

Nick rolled his eyes again, “Go get him tiger. Charm him with your curly hair and terrible jokes.”

Jeff smiled at him encouragingly, “Don’t come on too strong, Harry. Remember, the guy just got stood up.”

“Yeah and Harry here will help him pick up the pieces of his broken heart!” Niall clapped Jeff on the back, before helping himself to more beer.

“Hopefully by shagging him into oblivion, I know from experience anal is very therapeutic,” Nick winked at Harry, causing Niall to choke on his beer. Harry ignored him, giving a thumbs-up to his friends before standing up and making his way towards the boy.

-

Louis was incredibly proud of his acting skills. He could practically feel an Oscar in his future, as well as several Academy Awards and probably a movie made to document his amazing life and equally amazing acting skills. The Wonderful Life of Louis Tomlinson, Acting Prodigy and better than Liam Payne in Every Single Way, the movie would be called.

He was currently considering whether to step it up another notch and have a loud argument with fake-Jamie (since Liam was no longer answering his phone- the bastard had turned it off- he’d have to call up Zayn and scream at him instead), when he was interrupted by a cough. Turning around, he was met with a pair of wide green eyes and a mop of curls.

“Can I help you?” Louis sniffed, pretending to wipe a tear from his eyes. He was still fairly tipsy though, so merely succeeded in poking himself in the eye instead.

“Yeah um…just wondering if you’re alright, is all,” Curly bit his lip, fidgeting slightly. He kinda looked like a sympathetic frog, Louis noted. A pretty attractive, cute sympathetic frog. With really curly hair, “Sorry that was a stupid question, of course you aren’t alright, I mean, you’re crying after all-”

“Well, as alright as I can be considering I just got stood up by my arsehole boyfriend, my heart shattered into a million pieces and I’ve just lost the will to live because I’ve realised I shall never find love and probably die alone in a ditch somewhere,” Louis interrupted dramatically.

“Well…” Curly looked nervous, blushing slightly. Louis resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“Well what? What do you want, curly boy?”

Curly stared at him for a moment longer, before suddenly exploding, “The guy is a dick and clearly doesn’t deserve you! If I had a guy like you, I would never stand you up, because you’re really cute and are probably really nice as well! In fact, I would consider it an honour to be your date! Besides, I’ve been stood up a couple of times myself and I know how much it sucks, so I completely understand your reaction. It’s just bad manners, to stand someone as lovely as you up. So honestly, that guy can go and fuck himself.” Curly’s face had gone so red Louis was worried he was going to explode. To be fair, he himself kinda felt like he was about to explode because…what?

“What?” Louis’ mouth had dropped open in shock.

“The guy…your date… he doesn’t deserve you. Not at all. You deserve someone who appreciates you… so I’ve decided that I’m going to be your date instead,” Curly announced, clearly feeling braver now that his little rant was over, plopping himself down on the seat in front of Louis and beaming. Louis wondered if he was dreaming, and tried to subtly pinch himself under the table. Ow. Definitely not dreaming. Hallucinating maybe? Is this the part where Louis suddenly realises he’s actually not in an Italian restaurant and is instead in a straight jacket at Shutter Island? Hmm, at least Leonardo DiCaprio would be there.

“Um…” for probably the first time in his life, Louis was speechless and didn’t know how to respond. Furthermore, the fact that his brain was still fuzzy from the bottle of wine he'd just polished off didn't seem to help.

“I ordered a pizza at a different table, but I’m sure my friends won’t mind directing it over here so I can eat with you instead,” Curly’s beam widened and, bloody hell, this guy had dimples. Louis was still in shock, so he couldn’t be blamed for his gaze fixing on first the dimple, then Curly’s plush lips, “Oh, how rude of me! My name’s Harry by the way. I hope I’m not being too forward but just…you’re cute and I’m hoping I can make you feel better.”

“Harry…” Louis was still having a lot of trouble processing what just happened, “Um…I’m Louis.”

“Louis?” Curly, Harry, nodded to himself, “Well, it fits you. A cute name for a cute boy!”

“You think I’m cute?” Louis was pretty sure his brain had stopped working.

“Too cute for whatever asshole stood you up, that’s for sure,” Harry announced confidently, before beckoning one of the waiters over. Louis vaguely noted that it was Billy, and he looked just as confused as Louis felt.

“Um…what...I…can I…help…you?” the waiter’s eyes flickered between Louis’ dumbstruck face and Harry’s wide grin.
“Another bottle of wine please,” Harry said, very enthusiastically. Louis wondered if he should point out that he had already finished a bottle of wine by himself and he did after all need to drive home tonight, but his brain wasn’t working and the only thing running through his head right now was a series of question marks. Maybe this was some alcohol-induced hallucination. Hopefully his brain would catch up soon, as Louis was pretty sure he currently looked like a very unattractive fish with his moth open in a shocked ‘O’.

“Of course,” the waiter nodded, still eyeing Harry warily, before walking away. Harry then turned his full attention to Louis. Louis gulped.

“Do you want me to try and cheer you up?” Harry said cheerfully, “I know some pretty good knock-knock jokes which should put a smile on your face. Well, Niall would argue that they suck, but Niall also ate three garlic breads in the span of twenty minutes just now so his opinion doesn’t count.” He looked at Louis expectantly.

Louis gulped again, “Um…”

“Knock knock.” Harry’s wide grin made him resemble a demented frog.

“Um…who’s there?” Louis offered weakly.

“Electra.”

“Electra who?”

“Electricity! Isn’t that shocking,” Harry leaned forward, delight written all over his face. Louis felt a sudden, inexplicable rush of fondness. However, this was not enough to make up for the (frankly) terrible joke, so Louis blamed the alcohol and didn’t reply, just stared at Harry nonplussed.

“Um…okay let me think of a better one.” Harry chewed his lip thoughtfully, before his face again split into a grin. Louis felt like he could almost see the lightbulb pop above his head, “Knock knock.”

“Okay…who’s there?” Was Louis trapped in a really weird dream? He wondered whether it would be weird to slap himself in the face right now.

“Lettuce.”

“Lettuce who?”

Lettuce in, it’s cold out here!” Harry fanned out his hands in a sort of ‘ta-da!’ motion.

A startled laugh was ripped out of Louis’ throat. It was official- he’d gone insane and hallucinated this weird human being in front of him. Maybe Liam was right and he should stop smoking Zayn’s dodgy weed. Damn that Simon guy.

Harry meanwhile looked delighted at having gotten a reaction out of Louis. He clapped his hands together like some sort of cute, overgrown frog toddler, and giggled. Fucking giggled.

“Well, now that you look less upset and, just so you know you have a really nice laugh, I want to ask a question,” Harry leaned forward, resting his chin on his hands and looking at Louis, “Who was the guy you were waiting for?” Harry asked, his face open and smile wide and dimpled, “Whom do I need to beat up for you?”

Here, Louis paused, feeling much more sober as his brain suddenly caught up with the situation. He remembered that Harry here did not know that Jamie was not real, that Louis was completely dateless and this was just an elaborate way to scam the restaurant out of free food. Louis bit his lip, suddenly truly nervous. Now that Harry was here and he…seemed to have somehow procured himself a date, he doubted the restaurant would let him get away with not paying for his meal. So, he currently had two options. One, tell Harry to leave him alone to pick up the ‘broken pieces of his heart’ by himself and then proceed to cry and look as pathetic as possible in order to complete his act or, two, let Harry stay here and…be his date. At first, idea two seemed absolutely ludicrous, but then Louis glanced at Harry and his stupid dimpled smile and curly hair and thought, hey, this boy is really cute. And it wasn’t like boys were queuing up left, right and centre for Louis’ hand, whilst the ones that were tended to be either arseholes or not Louis’ type. Harry seemed really nice, and a little voice in Louis’ head reminded him that Harry was exactly his type. Louis had a soft spot for cute, smiley dorks with curly hair – although Harry was the first person Louis had actually met so far who fit those criteria. Even though his knock-knock jokes were atrocious.

Making up his mind, he leaned forward and sighed. If this, really weird and randomly sudden new relationship was going to work out; Louis was going to be honest.

“I actually have a confession to make,” he admitted to a nodding Harry, “This is probably going to make me sound like a gigantic twat, and I completely understand if you decide you don’t actually want anything to do with me after this but I feel I should be honest with you. There was no date. I actually pretended to have been stood up in order to get free food from this place after reading this thing on the Internet and um…”

“Oh I saw that!” Harry exclaimed, as if he didn’t just hear Louis admit he was a liar and terrible human being.

“Yeah so um…I was just putting on the tears and everything - see I’m a drama student so I know how to fake cry and stuff - hoping the waiters would feel bad enough to let me off the bill because I’m broke as fuck,” Louis was aware he was rambling, and he averted his eyes from Harry’s intent gaze, “Plus Zayn said if I succeed he’d buy me McDonalds and I’m an absolute sucker for chicken nuggets, so obviously I accepted his offer in the hopes of multiple nuggets in my future…” he trailed off, looking at Harry worriedly and trying to gauge his reaction. Harry was merely staring at him blankly, so Louis was about to say something else, maybe propose or something to cheer Harry up (Louis was feeling a little crazy right now, sue him) when Harry spoke up nervously,

“So…you weren’t actually stood up? And you weren’t really upset?”

Louis nodded, biting his lip and suddenly feeling like a major dickhead, “Yeah…I’m really sorry.”

Harry looked vaguely on the verge of tears, “So you didn’t need my help then?”

“Well, no not really, but-“

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” Harry burst out, his green eyes wide, “I didn’t realise I was disturbing you! Oh my gosh, I’m such an idiot, I’m so sorry! I’ll leave you to your meal, I hope I didn’t mess things up for you.” He made as if to get up from the table, his face red with embarrassment, but Louis grabbed his wrist, halting his movements.

“Shit no, that’s not what I meant,” Louis scrunched his face up a little in frustration, “No I uh… I don’t mind you being here.”

“You don’t?” Harry still looked vaguely like he was about to flee, so Louis tugged at his wrist until he sat back down.

“No I- not at all, to be honest,” Louis sighed, letting go of Harry’s wrist in order to run his hands through his hair, “I mean… sure I don’t get a free meal but…I get a date with a pretty cute boy, right?” He stared hopefully at Harry, “If your offer to be my date still stands, that is.”

Harry’s frown dissolved into a genuine smile, “You think I’m cute?”

“Oh shut up,” Louis rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t help but return the smile, “You think I’m cute too. You tried to defend my honour against a missing fake date.”

“That I did,” Louis was pretty sure Harry had hearts in his eyes as he looked at Louis. Whatever, it’s not every day someone that cute jumps to your defence whilst you’re sobbing into your bolognaise, so Louis decided not to comment. Plus, Louis was about 5 seconds away from heart eyes himself, so he supposed it was fair.

Almost a minute later though and Harry still hadn’t said anything, merely stared at Louis with wide eyes, so Louis cleared his throat awkwardly, “Are you sure you still want to sit here with me? I did just tell you that I’m basically a scammer and a manipulative bastard, most people wouldn’t exactly want to stick around after that.”

“I’m not most people,” Harry said simply, before laughing, “But if you must know, I thought you were cute as soon as I saw you. Plus I can’t help but applaud your acting skills, those were some impressive fake-tears.”

Louis smirked, “Thanks. Tell that to the BBC, maybe they’ll give me a job. I could play the next Doctor or something.”

“You watch Doctor Who too?”

“Well duh…who doesn’t.”

“My friends don’t,” Harry pouted, “My mate Nick only watched it for Matt Smith because he had a thing for his cheekbones, but once Capaldi replaced him he claimed the programme was ‘childish’ and ‘dull’. Jeff watches either comedies or nature documentaries, and Niall only watches the sports channel.”

“Your mates sound interesting,” Louis smiled at Harry.

“They’re actually over there at that table, they were the ones who encouraged me to come over to you,” Harry pointed somewhere to Louis’ right, and Louis turned around to see three men watching them avidly whilst trying to hide behind their desserts menus.

“Why is the one with the gigantic quiff winking at me and licking his lips?” Louis frowned, turning back to Harry.

“Oh that’s Nick. He’s a bit of a creep, he was the one who pointed you out to me,” Harry rolled his eyes and flipped the guy called Nick off, causing the man to cackle loudly, “What about you? Tell me about your friends?”

“Well, I live with my two best friends Zayn and Liam. Liam’s the one I was on the phone to pretending to discuss my date, and Zayn’s the one who promised me the chicken nuggets if I get a free meal tonight,” Louis told Harry, smiling fondly at the thought of his friends.

“I really am sorry about that by the way,” Harry bit his lip, eyes wide and guilty, “I could buy you chicken nuggets instead if you want?”

“You have nothing to be sorry about, if its anyone here that needs to apologize its me. I’m truly sorry I tricked you,” Louis admitted genuinely, though he did feel a little proud that his acting skills were apparently that good, “And what’s this Harold, already planning our second date? We’ve barely talked and we did just meet five minutes ago.”

Harry blushed adorably, “Sorry, you’re right, it is very presumptuous of me.”
Louis leaned across the table, putting his hand on Harry’s and Harry smiled down at their touching hands. Clearly, their relationship was the type that moved very fast. They’d already progressed to hand holding. If Zayn were here, Louis was sure he’d piss himself laughing at Louis' sappiness.

“I’d love to go on a second date with you, Harry,” Louis said softly, before grinning, “Though I’d hope you’ll take me somewhere classier than McDonalds.”

“Heyyy,” Harry frowned exaggeratedly, “Nothing wrong with treating your date to a mac and cheese. Don’t worry though Lou, I’ll think of something. Maybe ice skating?”

Louis felt warmth rising in his chest at the nickname, and he tried to fight the blush threatening to encompass his cheeks, “You can ice skate?”

“No,” Harry shrugged, smiling back, “I was just going to use you to hold me up.”

“We’d have to hold hands, then,” Louis winked at Harry, who blushed, “How forward of you, Harold. I don’t put out after only the second date, you know.”

Harry rolled his eyes, face still tinged pink, before looking significantly at their still-joined hands on the table, “Could have fooled me. You’re the one who initiated the hand holding, actually.”

Louis suddenly felt nervous, “Sorry, is that too forward of me?” he tried to withdraw his hand, but Harry’s grip tightened and he pulled it more towards himself.

“No I like it,” he shook his head, his green eyes wide and earnest.

As Louis stared back at Harry, matching smiles on their faces, he thought to himself he rather liked the way this evening had turned out, even if he will end up having to pay for his meal. To be perfectly honest, Louis wouldn’t mind paying for his food at all as long as he got to keep Harry.

-

“You’ve been gone a while.” Liam observed, sitting on the sofa in front of the TV with Zayn as Louis let himself into their apartment. Harry had driven Louis home, insisting on making sure he got homse safe and refusing to let him drive after Louis admitted he was feeling tipsy.

Louis grunted. He was still vaguely starstruck over the evening and what happened. He was expecting to wake up any moment to the white walls of a hospital with a nurse cheerfully poking him with needles and telling him ‘Did you have a nice dream, Mr Tomlinson?’

“Mate, you alright?” Zayn asked, sounding concerned, “Your eyes are all wide and you have a really dopey expression on your face.”

“I’m fine,” Louis paused, “Great even. Spectacular.”

“Alright,” Zayn furrowed his brow, as Louis stood motionless in the hallway, gaze blank, “How did it go?”

“What?” Louis swivelled his head to look at Zayn.

“Your ‘genius plan’? Did they make you pay in the end?”

“Pay for what?”

“Jesus, Louis, did they find out and beat you up or something? You’re completely out of it,” Liam stood up from the sofa and walked up to Louis, checking him over for injuries.

Suddenly, Louis beamed widely. Liam quickly stepped away from him, looking extremely alarmed.

“Turned out I had an actual date tonight,” Louis replied happily. Zayn and Liam looked at each other.

“What?” they said simultaneously.

“Well it’s a weird story…” Louis shook his head, thinking fondly of his evening with Harry, who had proved as funny as he was cute. Louis doesn’t think he’d laughed so much in years, since his friend Stan found out the ‘cute girl’ he had snogged at a club had actually been his middle aged English teacher, “Anyway, I want you all to meet Harry tomorrow. I’m going ice skating with him, and he said he’d stop by here to pick me up. You guys can be properly introduced then! Did you know his friend Niall lives the floor below us? Crazy, right?”

“Yeah, crazy,” Zayn echoed, staring at Louis like he’d grown a second head, “Are you hallucinating right now?”

“Who knows,” Louis laughed, hanging up his jacket on the coat rack and heading into the kitchen, “Been a wild evening.”

Liam and Zayn were silent, mouths gaping open.

“Oh and Zayn, you owe me McDonalds,” Louis called from inside the kitchen, “The restaurant thought Harry and I were so cute they didn’t make us pay the bill.” This part was surprisingly true. When Billy and Elijah found out that Harry had offered to fill in for fake-Jamie, Billy had burst into tears of joy and Elijah had actually hugged Harry. It was extremely surreal.

Louis grinned at the memory, taking out his phone to find a new text from Harry. He’d sent Louis a succession of shrimp emojis, followed by several hearts of different colours. Finally, Louis had met someone who shared his love for emojis. Louis wondered whether it was too early to propose.

“Did they drug you?” Zayn whispered, coming to stand by Liam and staring at Louis with wide eyes.

“What?”

“Did they put something in your food? You’re acting really weird Louis,” Zayn paused for a moment, “Well, weirder than normal.”

Louis shrugged at his two best friends, approaching them and clapping them both on the shoulder happily, “I think I’ve found my soulmate, guys. Not exactly how I expected the evening to go, but I’m not complaining.”

“I’m so confused,” Liam whispered to Zayn, who nodded slowly.

Louis rolled his eyes dramatically, “I’m actually a bit knackered after tonight, I wasted a lot of energy with my fake-crying. I think I’m off to bed.” He decided not to mention that he’d actually promised to call Harry when he came home, but didn’t want to do it in front of Liam or Zayn. He did just meet the boy this evening, and his friends would most likely be slightly concerned at Louis' sudden clinginess.

“Louis, its only eleven. The last time you went to sleep before one AM was four years ago,” Liam looked extremely concerned.

Louis laughed, patted Liam on the shoulder, gave them both a smooch on the cheek (it was worth it to see their terrified expressions) and walked off to his room.

“Should we go after him?” Liam whispered to Zayn, watching Louis retreat.

“I dunno, I’m a bit worried he’s on the verge of snapping and murdering us both,” Zayn replied, shrugging, "He's acting pretty suspicious."

“I’m too young to die,” Liam squeaked, gripping Zayn’s forearm tightly.

A loud laugh came from Louis’ room, making both boys jump.

“Maybe we should leave him for a bit,” Liam suggested, and Zayn nodded.

“Lets go to a bar. If Louis has gone crazy and is going to murder us in our sleep, I want at least one more drink before I go.”

“Well, we’ve lived a good life,” Liam nodded, before grabbing Zayn and pulling him out of the door, not even pausing to grab their coats, “I knew this day would come eventually. Lets go.”

The door slammed shut behind them, just as more loud laughter rang out from Louis' room.