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Hi what's Tommo doing

Niall frowned at his phone. He was in his room, stretched out with the TV going, and decidedly solo. Just because he and Louis were dating didn't make him Louis's keeper. No idea mate ! Haven't seen him in hours

Okay he wouldn't leave me alone before the show A few seconds more, then an addition. the cars here and hes not reading my texts

That wasn't the Louis Niall knew. He was right next to Louis's room - Louis had even made sure their adjoining doors were unlocked "for sinister reasons" when they'd checked in, which Niall knew meant that Louis would want to come in to sleep - so Niall sent back, I'll go see him ! Let you know what's going on

Thanks mate!

The door was still unlocked between their sitting areas - they got nice hotels sometimes, and this one had a bunch of rooms for each of them - and it was dark. So was the bedroom. Niall was ready to back out and text Liam that Louis had fallen asleep when he noticed the bed was empty and still mostly made. The door to the bathroom was ajar, and Niall could see light coming from it.

As if on cue, vomiting sounds came from the bathroom. Niall winced sympathetically and headed over. Once the noises quieted, he rapped his knuckles lightly on the door.

"All right, Lou?"

Louis groaned. "Niall?"

Niall pushed the door open. Louis's bathroom was just as big as Niall's - big enough that they'd had smaller hotel rooms to share back toward the beginning of their careers - so there was plenty of room for him and for poor Louis, crouched over the toilet, holding his stomach.

"Don't come in," Louis said harshly. "It smells of sick in here."

"Because I've never smelled that before." They'd all been plenty hungover before, but it was obvious that wasn't what was happening here. Louis was pale and sweaty, face pinched with pain. "Think it's your appendix?"

"Doesn't hurt when I lean on it. Just..." Louis turned back and vomited again. It was obvious he'd been doing it a bunch; the noise sounded more like retching than anything.

"Shit." Niall kneels and pushes Louis's fringe back. "I'll get someone, yeah? Just let me get my phone."

"No."

Niall frowned. "I know we're in America, Lou, but we can afford a doctor."

"Don't want my name in all the papers over stomach flu. Crying fans. That shit."

Even though Louis cut off with another groan, leaning on his arms, Niall knew Louis had a point. Niall had sucked up more than a few things in the past just because he hadn't wanted to see what his Twitter would look like. Of course, Niall had also managed to sneak around for his knee surgery, so privacy could be had...if there was time to plan and deflect.

Finally, Niall said, "What about Liam?"

"Fuck. Don't tell him. Say I'm asleep."

"I will if you let me stay."

Louis waved a hand, which Niall took as agreement. He texted Liam, saying Louis was drooling in his sleep, and Liam gave him back an "ahaha" and promises that he'd send Louis's phone pictures of all the fun he would miss. Niall knew as well as Liam that he would probably just get a quiet drink without Louis there, but Niall agreed with his own textual laugh and tucked his phone away when Liam got quiet.

Actually, Louis had been quiet that entire time in the bathroom, too. Maybe he was right about waiting it out. Niall got Louis some water, washed his face with a flannel, and waited with him for a bit until Louis looked half-asleep leaned against the wall next to the toilet.

"Bed?" Niall asked when he noticed Louis dosing. He got to his feet, offering his hands.

It was probably a measure of how bad Louis was feeling that he not only took Niall's offered hands, but he leaned on Niall a bit as they walked into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, swaying a bit as Niall pushed back the duvet. He did stretch out on the bed on his own, though, curling a little into himself with a wince once he'd tested his limits.

"Budge over," Niall said. "Room in that bed for us both."

Louis shook his head - Niall knew he hated the thought of Niall staying the night when Louis looked like this - but he shifted over without protest, and Niall, already in the vest top and boxers he slept in, climbed in behind him. Niall shifted close to press his hand to Louis's forehead - probably should try medicine if he's running a fever, even if he vomits straight away - but Louis was only a bit clammy.

When he started to pull back, Louis grabbed his hand. "Snuggle," he said.

"Needy." Niall snorted, but he was a little concerned. "Should probably avoid your tummy, yeah?"

Louis made a noise of protest and guided Niall's hand to the place in question. "Doesn't hurt anymore."

Niall hummed and rubbed Louis's tummy obligingly. He always liked being the big spoon, even under these circumstances.

-

Louis was fine the next morning, and the day after that, and for a while, so when they changed cities and nothing happened like the night Louis was ill, Niall forgot about it. They had plenty to do with shows and fans and interviews, and it seemed like Harry picked up some kind of cold or something in every city they went to, so it wasn't like Niall didn't have other things to focus on.

It was only the day of the last show for a week that Niall started feeling dodgy after lunch, and he remembered Louis the other week. Could Niall have caught something off him? No, not directly. It had been too long. He didn't think it was anyone else on tour, either. It had likely been food poisoning for Louis, and maybe something similar for Niall.

Niall went through the rest of the day expecting it to ease, but it was just his luck that he didn't. If anything, it got much worse when the show started. Walking was hard. Staying upright and playing guitar was harder.

The others noticed. Harry was the first to say something, pulling him aside when Liam and Louis were talking to the audience.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, voice low with worry.

"Just hurt my stomach," Niall said, leaning on one of the set pieces as he grabbed some water. He would normally try to smile, but better to save that effort for the show. "I'll go see the tour doc when the show's over."

"You don't have to stick it out."

Niall snorted. He knew as well as the others that Niall's impending death was probably trending on Twitter already. Leaving early would just make it worse.

It said something about how terrible he felt that he used the usual loo break during one of Liam's speeches to throw up backstage. Louis was rubbing his back as he did it, which made Niall laugh a little when he managed to calm his stomach. Hadn't he just been doing this with Louis? Still, it wasn't his stomach that was hurting, not like it had been for Louis. He wasn't sure where the pain was coming from.

"You need to go to hospital," Louis said as he helped him sit. "We're getting the doctor."

Niall didn't bother saying he was fine as Louis crouched down to his level. It was obvious he wasn't. "At encore."

"No fucking way."

He wasn't in any mood to argue. He stood up again, wincing as he did so, but at least he could feel a sharp pain in his right side. Fucking hell. It was his appendix, wasn't it? Had he cursed himself those weeks ago when he'd asked Louis?

Louis stood with him. "You want to be sick where everyone can see? Hurt yourself more?"

"So..." Niall took a minute to let a wave of pain wash through him. He didn't even notice he'd stumbled a bit until he opened his eyes and saw Louis bracing him. "So logical, Tommo."

Louis took his hand and didn't so much as blink when Niall squeezed.

"I'll go," Niall said finally. "But you have to do two things."

"Okay. What?"

Niall could see a stretcher coming over. Fuck, maybe it was a good thing the show was still going on. He might be able to slip out a bit better this way.

"You have to tell everyone that I'm all right. They'll believe you."

Louis nodded.

"And you have to stay for the rest of the show."

"What?"

The stretcher stopped behind Niall and lowered a bit. He couldn't really stand comfortably anymore, so he let the uniformed people around him help him lying down. Niall's vision was going a bit black at the edges. He thought, distantly, how absurd this whole thing was. So dramatic.

"Can't scare 'em more," Niall managed. "Please, Lou."

Louis was still holding one of his hands. "I'm coming the second the show's over."

Niall just nodded, and Louis had just enough time to kiss his forehead before Niall was whisked out of sight.

-

The next time Niall sees Louis is when Niall's coming out of anaesthesia.

They're in a room by themselves, although there's a feeling in the air like someone was just in there. A nurse, probably. It's quiet and hushed, which Niall supposes comes from security; they had diagnosed his appendicitis quickly and gotten him into surgery straight away, probably also because of who he is. That he's so prominent is hard to think of, with his head blurry and thick, but he feels vulnerable enough, being sick and weak, that he takes a shaky breath when he inhales.

Louis looks over at him and grins, that careful, sweet smile he saves for when things are truly terrible. "Hey, love," Louis says.

They're holding hands again. Louis probably took Niall's hand while he was out. It's nice.

"Lou," Niall says, and his throat is on fire.

"Don't talk, it's okay."

Niall's eyes smart as tears gather. He can't sing like this. What about the shows? He brushes them away with his free hand, which hurts a bit when it pulls his IV, but at least he can see a little better.

"Just had to outdo me, didn't you?" Louis laughs quietly, brushing away tears from his own eyes. "Imagine if I'd been the one here. Would have been a right terror, probably."

Niall huffs a wet laugh. It's an odd sensation, laughing at this point, especially with the sedation still wearing off. He jerks his head up mid-laugh; apparently, he'd been falling asleep again.

"That's right, go back to sleep." Louis picks up Niall's hand and lays a gentle kiss on the back. It's odd seeing Louis so soft, but it's not bad. Not at all. "I'll be here."

Niall probably couldn't stay awake if he tried. But he doesn't fight it at all.

-

"Next time, if you want to share a room," Louis says as he fluffs up his pillow, "all you have to do is ask."

They're back in Niall's hotel room and have been for a couple days. Niall's not feeling too poorly; this was much easier to heal from than his knee, as far as surgery goes. When he laughs at Louis, he only winces a bit at the pain from his healing tummy.

"Hadn't thought of it like that," he says. "Is this like you moving in?"

"Dunno. It was shit sleeping alone anyway."

Niall knows the feeling. They'd gone separate ways on the last break long enough to take them away from tour, and as much as Niall loves his house, it wasn't the same without Louis there. Niall misses it, though. It's fucking terrible to heal in hotels. He wants his own blankets and his own food.

Louis, properly adjusted in bed, snuggles up carefully to Niall. "Wish I could rub your stomach."

"Fuck, don't do that."

"I'm not that shitty, come on." Louis rests his head on Niall's shoulder. "I meant, I wish you weren't hurt so I could rub your tummy. Was nice when you did it for me."

Niall hums. "But I wouldn't want it if I wasn't hurt, would I?"

"Sure you could. We'll work it in the rotation, like with back rubs."

"You give me lots of those normally," Niall said, voice only giving off the slightest bit of sarcasm.

"I could start." Louis sighs and adds just the littlest bit of pressure to his embrace with Niall. It's probably the closest they could get to a proper hug at the moment. "You scared me, you know."

"Yeah?"

Louis winces. "Fuck, I wasn't going to say that."

"No, tell me."

"What else is there to say? You looked so pale and sick at the show, and so small in that bed, and..." Louis sucks in a harsh breath.

Niall kisses the top of Louis's head. "And I'm okay. Just like you were when you were vomming all over the place."

"Uh, that didn't require cutting me open to fix." But he tilts his head up and pulls Niall gently into a kiss. It's a nice kiss, made even nicer by the fact that Niall, healing and on painkillers, is near sleep, and he knows he's sliding into it with Louis warming his bed.

Maybe surgery isn't his first choice to get extended cuddle sessions with Louis, but he'll take it.