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Louis wakes up naked, still drunk and feeling fucking disgusting in a hotel bed he can't remember falling into, with someone else snoring shallowly beside him. Vegas. Right. He squints against the crust in the corners of his eyes, groaning out a sigh as he sits up. His head is swimming and he doesn't even want to know who he might have gone to bed with.

There's a pillow obscuring their head when he looks over, and after a moment he pinches the pillowcase between two fingers and lifts. Niall is passed the fuck out there, drooling against the mattress.

"Ah, fuck," Louis mumbles. So they'd managed to make it all the way here from Boston only to end up like this a few hours later in one or the other of their suites. It wasn't supposed to happen again.

"Hey," he says, throwing Niall's pillow on the floor and elbowing him imprecisely in the armpit. "Birthday boy. Wakey wakey."

Niall snuffles, shifts against the mattress and doesn't open his eyes. He's shirtless, his shoulders and cheek flushed with sleep, and Louis doesn't have the energy to harass him. Maybe nothing happened, he thinks, trying to take stock of the situation instead; he feels grody in places where it's not entirely appropriate to feel grody with your bandmate in your bed. His brain is having trouble keeping up with these developments, that drunk feeling that everything is at once very normal and very suspect.

"Niall, we have breakfast drinking to do," he says loudly. His tongue is thick in his mouth. "We weren't even supposed to go to bed. C'mon." He grabs the sheet around Niall's shoulders and flings it back and there, in all its birthday glory, is Niall's bare arse. "Hey," he says more sharply.

Niall grumbles. "What," he slurs. Still drunk too, then.

"Wake up, drunkie," Louis says, casting a critical eye around the room. His view slides over the clothes scattered across the floor and into the hall of the suite, to the empty bottle of champagne tipped over beside a still-sweating ice bucket on the dresser. Then to the bedside table, and the condom wrapper there, and a weird little foil circle -- a twist tie or something.

Beside him, Niall starts to laugh. Louis looks at him. Niall rolls over, dick to God and everyone, and holds up his hand. "Look at this shit," he says. There's another twist tie around his ring finger.

"Niall," Louis says, ignoring this, "did we -- you know."

Niall cocks a useless eyebrow at him.

"You know." He gestures to Niall's general nakedness. Niall starts to smirk, which is further proof he's still sloshed. Louis isn't panicking about this, exactly, but -- he just hadn't meant to make a habit of it. This, with Niall. Whatever it was. More than nothing.

"Um…" he considers, and Louis realizes he's probably thinking about how his arse feels and his mouth goes dry. "Maybe?"

Louis picks up the other twist tie from the bedside table, studiously ignoring the condom wrapper, and slips it onto his ring finger too. "We didn't get Vegas married or something, did we?" he jokes absently, and then his stomach flips over.

They stare at each other for a second and then burst out laughing at the same time. Niall wipes his eyes theatrically and Louis shelves the embarrassment he feels at that one heart-stopping second where he actually wondered.

Niall's head falls happily onto Louis' shoulder, and they look at the makeshift rings, hands held up next to each other and wavering on drunk unsteady arms.

"Probably it was, like, a joke, right?" Louis says. "What hotel are we even in?"

"The Wynn," Niall mumbles. Trust him to remember the travel plans but not whether they fucked or tied the knot last night. He seems to be falling back asleep. Louis shoulders him in the temple and he jolts awake again.

"Ready to go?" he asks, groggy, like it's what they were just talking about. Louis considers.

"Guess so," he says. "Every time you bring me to fucking Vegas I feel like I'm in the Hangover, y'know? D'you think there's gonna be a tiger in the loo? Or a baby?"

"Only one way to find out," Niall says, rolling out of the bed and hopping on his good foot. "Ugh, Christ," he says, "I don't wanna put the boot on, give me a hand." Louis huffs a laugh.

"You're a goddamn liability." He rolls over to Niall's side of the bed and stands, slipping himself against Niall's bare side.

"Don't call me names, it's my birthday," Niall says happily. He slings an arm around Louis' shoulders and they hobble, three-legged, to the loo. It's hard for Louis not to stare at Niall's dick, eyes downcast to look where they're going, but what can you do.

He deposits Niall in the bathroom where he can cruise on the counter and retrieves the boot for him to put on when he's done and shuts the door, then wobbles over to the little bin by the dresser, peering down at it. There, all alone, is the used condom, laughing at him.

Louis groans. At least they haven't found any tigers or babies yet.

Standing feels like shit. He's still sore in his quads from the show last night, all the walking you do in Vegas hotels and whatever the hell else they got up to. He pivots a quarter turn to the minibar and makes himself a vodka tonic, listening to Niall somehow start to run the shower.

He's changed into a probably-clean raglan and jorts and called Preston to come get them and started his second drink by the time Niall comes out of the loo with his boot on. There's a towel around his waist and he smells cleaner but still looks pretty drunk in the eyes. He towels his hair flat and smiles at Louis. The twist tie is still round his finger.

"You're an idiot," Louis says, grinning at him. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks," Niall says. He sits by Louis, just inside the bubble of his personal space, and pries the vodka from his hand. He takes a sip and coughs. Louis smirks at him, and Niall does his version of a smirk back, and then Louis is just lingering, eyes on Niall's eyes. He doesn't understand why he suddenly feels so inclined to lean in and kiss him. Niall always looks at him like that, his face all starry and soft like that, worse so when he's drunk, and Louis never feels like this. Or at least not much like this.

His phone buzzes. Preston outside. He shifts away from Niall, swallows the taste of vodka out of his mouth and stands. "Put some clothes on, you slag," he says, and watches fondly as Niall drains his drink and complies.

He likes these lads nights the two of them have sometimes. Feels like a thing he's only really done with Niall this year, and now they've come around to one of the very last ones. London in the spring, Vegas back then too. And that night in Ottawa. Shaking Lottie off, getting Niall alone without realizing he was even doing it. That last-ditch might-as-well way-too-drunk friend fuck. Nothing to lose. Just for the sake of never having done it before.

Niall hadn't been weird after that and he's not being weird now, though they were still drunk when they woke up both times. He gives Louis a hazy smile when he's done forcing his boot through the leg of a pair of shorts, and Louis snorts, shakes his head, leads the way to the door.


An hour later, Niall's already in the pool and Louis is sprawled out under an awning with a bunch of lads he knows and more he doesn't, this weird crew Niall always seems to assemble wherever he goes. There's a terribly strong vodka and OJ within arm's reach, practically a screwdriver without the juice, and he's scrolling through Twitter, chin on his chest, trying to stay ahead of the hangover he can feel trying to catch him up by getting more drunk.

"Oh, shit," he mumbles. There's a video making the rounds of them walking through a hallway inside the hotel. They're all drunk, Louis can see it in his feet and the way they're in a protective knot around Niall, shielding him from view almost entirely. Niall's always an obvious drunk and the boot isn't helping.

It's probably fine. He turns the sound on, holds it up to his ear. His own drunk stupid fucking voice on some stupid fucking fan's iPhone blares against his ear: "That's the place for it, lad, Vegas. Need to get married tonight." He's talking to Preston or someone, he can't remember. Niall's not even in the shot. "Well, let's all go there now!" Jesus Christ. "Let's get you two married!"

You two. Not him. Is there even a fucking chapel in the Wynn? He opens his mouth to ask the peanut gallery and then decides he'd rather not know. He'd half hoped the video would jog his blacked-out memory, but there's still nothing.

Niall drags himself out of the pool, pats his foot dry and puts the boot back on. He's got all that down to a science after just a week since Montreal. Then he's next to Louis, smelling of chlorine and sweat, slinging a damp arm around Louis' shoulders.

"I love it here," Niall sighs. "Happy birthday to me." He steals Louis' drink again, takes a sip and coughs, again. Louis laughs at him.

"Teach you to steal my drinks," he says. "That'll put hair on your chest, won't it? Not that you need it." He skritches a hand through the sparse curls between Niall's pecs and Niall laughs, squirming against him.

The glint of a camera in the pool. Louis lets his hand drop, takes a deep breath. It makes Niall frown.

"What's up?"

"Nothing. Um, I was just... thinking maybe we should, like. Drop by the chapel later. To… see."

Niall snorts. "See what?"

"You know," Louis mumbles. He's not doing well today with saying stuff out loud, not that it's ever a specialty of his.

Niall's eyebrows shoot up his forehead. "Seriously? Wait, why--"

Wordlessly, Louis passes him the phone. Niall listens to it three times, a grin wobbling on his mouth. "You don't actually think --"

"Nah, like." But Louis totally does think. He's in that phase of being drunk where every passing thought he has immediately becomes objective truth, in a fuzzy way where he can't focus in on them enough to realize they're bullshit. "Just wanna check," he mumbles.

"We've been to Vegas a million times," Niall says. "Never -- never got married before."

"Not for lack of trying," Louis says, and Niall laughs, and they both sit there for a moment thinking about all the times they've been here, the stupid shit they've gotten up to with the other lads, with strangers, with crew who don't even work for them anymore. There's a lot of that going around, the five years and the lastness of everything. Louis hadn't wanted Boston to be a lot to process but it had been, all those memories, thinking about next year, not knowing. He'd wanted very much to be proper drunk before he even got off stage. Vegas and the inclination to chaperone Niall were both convenient, if nothing else. Vegas, in its way, has always been there for them.

"You wanna go, then?" Niall asks. He's gotten kind of a quiet look on his face.

Louis shrugs, back to the void of Twitter. They should go but he doesn't actually want to move.

"Hey," Niall says, squeezing his shoulders with the arm he has along the back of the couch, and Louis looks up. Niall's gone pale. "We should go."

"You gonna be sick?"

"No," Niall says. "I'm, I just remembering something."

"Oh, shit."

Niall nods, eyes round.

"What?" Louis asks through set teeth. "Specifically."

"I remember a chapel," Niall says. "Not sure where, though." He laughs a little, despairing. "You and me… um. I don't know. Laughing. I remember these." He lifts his hand and the twist-tie ring sparkles in the light. "And -- I remember going up with you, um…"

"And --"

Niall's still nodding. All of it, then. The whole worst-case scenario.

"Fuck," Louis mumbles. "D'you think -- I mean, it's not online, d'you think anyone saw? God, were none of this lot there? Did we fucking sneak off for it?"

Niall does that despairing laugh again. "I don't know. Maybe."

"Jesus, this is the fucking Hangover," Louis says. "C'mon, let's go."

There is a chapel, a whole weddings complex, it turns out, but its 9 to 5 weekday hours are conspicuously posted on the door outside the main office. Niall puts the hood of his hoodie up, like a spy. It's actually Louis' hoodie, Louis notices, but he doesn't say anything.

Preston ushers them inside. He hasn't said much. Mad at himself, or them for managing to go off somewhere to do God knows what without his supervision last night, for landing them in this shit when they're supposed to be on vacation. Never a moment's peace. Louis understands that he's the cause of that, most times, but he still feels like he can relate.

Niall and Louis wait around the corner while Preston talks to woman in the office. They both straighten up when he appears, shaking his head.

"She says you weren't here. And they don't do the overnight type of thing anyway. She said maybe try the Palms."


"Because it's classy enough for the likes of you two, but not so classy you couldn't have gotten in there last night," Preston says, levelling his judgiest stare at them. Niall bows his head, grinning a little. Louis keeps forgetting they're both still drunk, only realizing it when he does something stupid like grinning at Niall grinning at Preston telling them they might have, like, eloped across town last night. He's sure they could have gotten the Wynn to marry them if they'd wanted. Maybe it was too fancy. He can remember staying in the Palms when they were younger, laughing about the chapel back then. God. The more things change.

They have a drink in the backseat of the car on the way over, not saying much. Neither of them can remember what driver they'd talked into this last night; he's probably asleep now, off his shift, unavailable for interrogation. Niall keeps his shades on, head lolling back against the headrest.

"Sorry you have to spend your birthday like this," Louis says without thinking, and then he wonders whose idea it was, if it actually is his fault. Niall rolls his head in Louis' direction, pushes his shades off his nose so they hang around his chin.

Looking at him like that, all of a sudden, Louis remembers. Joking in a towncar about consummating it. After, then. God. Niall had been really drunk, drunker than Louis, and he'd been handsy, ridiculous, had laughed when Louis had said it and then gone for his flies. Singing Partition. Louis can remember the wet heat of his mouth so clearly, like he'd been stone cold sober, can remember Niall being sloppy with it as the car negotiated a turn, breathing through his nose, Louis' hands in his hair. Letting it happen. Wanting it. Thinking, why not.

"Hey," Niall says, voice rough. Louis blinks. "We're almost there."

He wonders if Niall remembers too. Tips the melty ice out of the bottom of his glass into his dry mouth, avoids his eye, doesn't bring it up.

The coast is clear at the Palms Chapel, so Preston leads them inside, hovers by the door while they stand in front of the girl at the desk like they've been sent to the principal's office. He doesn't recognize her, and the sly smile that spreads across her face when she sees them is probably just knowing who they are, generally. Has to be or they're fucked.

Niall lets him do the talking, stands there fidgeting in his boot while Louis glances around. He wishes Preston would fucking do this for them but he knows they deserve to have to say it out loud. "Um… hello."

"Hi," she says, smiling. Not welcome back, then, that's something. "How can I help you?"

"We wanted to check if, um." He winces. "If we got married here last night?"

She nods, biting back a smile. "Well, you're not the first to have to come and ask. Let me check for you, Mr. Tomlinson."

"Yeah, great," he says, glancing at Niall, who's staring dazedly at the floor. She does some clicking around on her computer, then nods, biting her lip.

"Yes," she says, a bit hesitantly, "here you are."

Niall makes a little noise, swaying, and Louis takes his elbow without thinking. "Can you be a bit more specific?" he asks, testy. He can hear Preston shifting warningly behind them.

"Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson," she reads off the screen, still chewing a smile back into her mouth, "we got you a marriage certificate notarized last night, um, let's see. 4:28 a.m., here at the Palms. You kept your names."

"Was it a lovely ceremony?" Louis asks, a hand now over his eyes. She has the nerve to laugh like he's charming. He hates her.

"There are photos," she says cheerfully. "I can print it all out for you, if you don't have the copy we gave you."

"There's a copy… you gave us a copy?"

She nods. "That's usually what we do."

"Alright." Preston has stepped up to the desk before they can ask to see the evidence, apparently having tortured them long enough. "What I need you to do now is delete all of that from your system, and sign this." He pulls a folded NDA out of his pocket like some kind of security magician. Louis steps away, doesn't like hearing how the sausage is made.

"Photos," Niall says. He has a helpless drunk smile on his face. "This is fucked up."

"They're probably on the roof of Caesar's Palace or whatever," Louis says. "Mike Tyson probably has them."

"They'd be online by now," Niall murmurs. "If they were gonna be. It's fine."

"Yeah, as long as our copy's in one of our rooms."

"We can go look for it." Niall's face is softer than it has any right to be. Louis' head is swimmy but his whole body feels tense in this uncomfortable way, like he's too drunk to know exactly how to be tense but is giving it a shot. "It'll be fine."

"We should get it, like." Louis waves a hand, searching for the word. "Canceled. What's it."

"Annulled," Niall says. "Yeah… yeah, of course we should."

He doesn't sound like of course at all. Louis stares at him, eyebrows raised, and he's about to ask the question when Preston turns around.

"I'll come back and deal with the rest of the staff tonight," he says gruffly, like he's in the mafia. Louis knows he secretly loves this shit. "Let's go." They don't look at the desk girl again before they walk out the door.

The car ride back to the Wynn is equally silent and Louis is back to thinking about Niall sucking him off. Niall keeps smiling a little and then schooling his features and then smiling again. "Christ," he says. "I need a drink."

"I guess the Wynn was too classy," Louis mumbles.

"Palms is old stomping grounds," Niall says in kind. He's texting, probably Willie, probably giving him some version of the truth. Louis doesn't really have anyone to text, not at the moment. He's just here with Niall.

"Hey, mate, can you roll this up?" he asks the driver, thinks of Niall singing Beyonce again and shakes himself. Once the partition's up and they're in silence he looks at Niall.

"So we're gonna go find those pictures," he says, "and -- I mean, they've got to be in one of our rooms, right?"


"And -- I reckon we can just give them to Preston or something."


Louis' stomach churns a little. "We should probably have it annulled," he says.

"I know."

"So… we should do that next, then."

Niall looks at him. "Okay," he says.

"Do you not want to?"

"Louis, you're the one asking. I'm saying yes. What else do you want?"

Louis is grinning before he knows why. "You know what we sound like?"

Niall raises an eyebrow.

"An old married couple."

It makes Niall snort and shake his head. "Whatever you say, honey." He blinks slowly, a weird little smile still on his face. "It'd be a laugh, though, right?"

"What would?"

"Keeping it."

"It's not like -- like it's a pet or something that we found, Niall. It's not like you're pregnant." He shakes his head. It's hard to remember he can't make jokes like that anymore.

"I know. Imagine telling people, though. Like, surprise! Imagine your mum." He laughs. "Imagine the next stupid interviewer who asks us what pranks we play on each other, saying, 'Me and Louis got married once for a laugh.' They probably wouldn't even believe us."

"We can't tell people."

"I know, I know. I'm just saying." Niall shrugs. "Be kind of a funny secret to have for a while. It's not -- I mean, not like it's doing any harm. Not like you wanted to go and try to get married to anyone else anytime soon, right?"

He levels his eyes sideways at Louis, and Louis grumbles in his throat. "Shut up," he says.

"I'm not being funny," Niall says. "We can get it annulled if you want, I'm just saying. We could, like… not, yet. Just." He swallows, puts on a bracing smile. "Be kind of funny, wouldn't it?"

Louis shrugs. He doesn't know how to say he can conceive of ways in which it would be funny, but somehow it doesn't feel funny to him. Not in a bad way, exactly, but -- maybe it's because it's with Niall, because they've actually been hooking up. It's just not all the way a joke. Maybe it is to Niall. They roll up to the Wynn, then, anyway, and it's the end of the conversation.


The photos are almost immediately apparent when they get back to the suite. It's been tidied, and Louis feels a swoop of fear at the thought of what the housekeeping might have seen. But the envelope is still sealed, sitting obviously on the table in the front room like they'd thrown it there as soon as they got in.

Louis sits down on the couch and slides his thumb under the edge of the envelope to open it. Niall is beside him, another drink somehow already in his hand, but he's not drinking it, just rubbing his thumb through the wetness on the side of the glass.

"Give me that, then," Louis says, taking it from him and taking a fortifying sip. He hands it back, shakes the contents of the envelope out into his lap.

There's a marriage certificate on top, all official, both their names there in script. It occurs to Louis how wild this is -- that as recently as this past spring, every other time they were in Vegas, they couldn't actually have legally done this, and they can now.

He has to laugh when he sees the pictures and he can feel Niall laughing too, sat close to see so their thighs and shoulders are touching. Niall's in the nice top he'd changed into when they got in last night and Louis looks like he just got off stage in Foxborough, ridiculous. They look so happy. Seeing drunk pictures of himself is always a trip, but Louis' never felt more out of body with it than he does now -- the two of them with hammy smiles, standing at the Palms altar, clasping hands. Arm-in-arm, scurrying down the aisle, laughing, joyful and ridiculous.

"I wonder what we said," Niall says. He's smiling, but he looks a little misty, staring down at the photos. He sets his drink on the table. "If we had, like, vows."

Louis shakes his head. "The I do alone is more than enough for me, mate," he says. "Aw, Christ. Look at that." They're kissing in this one. It's so intensely weird to see it in a real photograph, not some bullshit from the Internet. Louis' hand at Niall's back, dipping him a little, Niall's arm over his shoulder, a hand at his cheek.

"You could've changed your shirt," Niall says. Louis grins, looking at him to find Niall's eyes are already on his face.

"You brought this on yourself, y'know," Niall adds, going mock-serious. Louis snorts.

"How's that?"

"You said it years ago, Niall's gonna be the first to get married. You were like, he's just gonna ask out of the blue and then be like, shit, didn't mean to say that."

"Oh my god." Louis is laughing. He remembers. "I wonder if that's how it happened. I feel like it's usually me who has the bad ideas."

"Good match, then, we are," Niall says. He's giving Louis that soft look again, and then he's leaning in. But Louis is expecting it, they've apparently done this enough times now. He wants it, is still drunk enough to admit that he does, and just now can't come up with any ways to talk himself out of it.

Niall's palm is warm on his cheek, and Louis tastes the whiskey in his mouth when he kisses him, the wedding photos slipping out of his lap onto the floor when he shifts toward Niall, pulls him closer by the small of his back, just like last night. Last night. One part of him feels like they've been here for weeks and another feels like they were onstage at Gillette two hours ago.

He brushes a palm over the stubble on Niall's jaw, bites his lower lip and holds him close, kissing him until Niall starts to tremble and finally they break apart. Niall's face goes into Louis' shoulder, and he's laughing, fisting his hands in Louis' raglan.

"Jesus," he mumbles, "I'm drunk."

Louis noses at his hair above his ear, shuts his eyes and feels his head spin. "Me too," he mumbles. "We should go back out, probably."

Niall pulls back, yawning. "Kay," he says, looking at Louis' mouth then pulling his eyes up. "What do we do with these?" The wedding pictures are still scattered across Louis' shoes.

They really should have them shredded or something, but Louis tucks them all back in the envelope and puts them in an inside pocket of his bag before they go back outside. Just in case.


It's the XS again that night, and they officially haven't been sober in almost 24 hours. Louis puts on a ratty grey hoodie, doesn't give a shit, gives Niall space to look good on his birthday. They don't spend much time together, orbiting around the club talking to people, avoiding the few fans who have obviously made it inside and are sneaking pictures of them from across the dancefloor. He probably talks to Niall less than he would otherwise, some fear of being spotted doing something untoward as if anyone knows they're legally married right now. Niall left his faux ring upstairs, but still, Louis wonders if anyone made the leap. Did Preston have the Palms people delete the whole record? Does it even still count?

Louis doesn't want to know. He keeps drinking instead, alternating paracetamol and water with vodka tonics and shots poured by one of the Wynn's bikini-clad shot girls, watching Niall catch up with John Ryan, his arm around his shoulders and his tongue practically in his ear as he yells something. Louis bites back a frown, drains his drink.

They stay until it really has been more than 24 hours since they got there, a day in which Louis feels he's lived several lifetimes. Niall collapses next to him on a couch, grabs a water and downs half of it in one gulp.

"My voice is going," he rasps in Louis' ear. "Thank fuck we don't have to sing for a while, eh?"

"Like a week," Louis laughs. "I don't mind saying it, mate, I'm looking forward to a proper break after this. Instead of living in, like, countdown mode all the time."

Niall's nodding in a way that means he has his own opinion that he isn't sharing, and Louis realizes belatedly, mind moving slowly, that it probably wasn't the best topic to bring up tonight. And it's not like he's not still in countdown mode after this, not like it ever stops. He thinks of LA after this, then London, probably LA again after that. Thinks of Briana for just one second before his stomach turns and he has to focus on Niall to steady himself. He elbows him lightly in the side.

"Want to go up?"


"D'you want to go upstairs," Louis says, lifting his eyes to Niall's. Like always, his brain is two steps behind his mouth. He swallows, goes with it, wants to see what Niall will do.

"Yeah," Niall says. "Yeah, lemme tell -- lemme say bye to people."

"Alright," Louis says. He watches him go. There's a weird feeling under his skin that Niall will say yes to him that easily, even on his birthday with a lot of other people here to see him. That Louis has him like that.

The word husband flashes across his mind and it's so fucking ridiculous that he has to pick up the vodka tonic he'd abandoned 10 minutes ago and drain the watery dregs of it, shaking himself. Niall's back before he's over it, smiling.

"C'mon then," he says. Louis wonders if he's thinking it too. He wonders what it would be like if they talked about this, instead of just trailing each other in and out of clubs, sharing looks, never putting it into words until they've gotten drunk and fucked and gotten bloody married and still never actually said what they mean.

Preston walks them out, and all he says when he deposits them at Niall's suite is that he's gonna go to the Palms to take care of everything else and they're idiots but they shouldn't worry. Niall hugs him bye, because that's how Niall is when he's drunk, and then they're alone in his room.

"So," Niall says.

"How's your foot?"

"Eh?" Niall looks down at the boot. "Can't really feel it, if I'm honest."

Louis tuts. "That won't do." He slips an arm around Niall's shoulders, bends at the knees. "C'mon. I'm carrying you."

Niall throws his head back laughing. "So I reckon that makes me the blushing bride?"

"Always," Louis says, grunting as he tries to lift Niall off the ground. Niall weighs next to nothing but Louis is also drunk and his arms aren't working that well, but he manages it in the end, sweeping Niall up and staggering into the bedroom with him. Niall's laughing, his warm cheek close to Louis' mouth, and it's all giving Louis a swoopy sort of feeling inside.

He deposits Niall gently on the huge bed in the next room, kneels down and unstraps his boot as carefully as he can, eases it off Niall's foot. Niall's still kind of laughing but he's looking down at Louis with hooded eyes, the boozy flush high on his cheeks.

"Are we, like. Consummating this?"

"Think we might've already done, lad," Louis says, grinning.

"Doesn't count if we can't remember it."

"Who's to say we'll remember this?"

"Fair point." Louis sits next to him on the bed and he doesn't know what he's expecting, but it's not for Niall to slot their fingers together and put his head on Louis' shoulder and close his eyes. "I wish I would," he says. "Remember it. When, like, this is over. I wish... "

There's silence for just a hair too long, until Louis has to speak, heart hammering. "Wake up, you idiot. You wish what?"

Niall lifts his head, blinking heavily at Louis, and then he closes the distance between them and kisses him, touches Louis' thigh and turns toward him, slides his other hand into his hair. Louis sighs through his nose, pushes into Niall's space until he lies back and Louis can scoot them up the bed and stretch out against Niall, slotting their knees together, arms around each other.

They make out like that for so long that Louis' head starts to feel clearer, until Niall's mouth tastes like nothing other than their kisses, all the liquor gone from beneath his tongue. His hips are sharp against Louis' in his skinnies, pressed close, and Louis can feel he's half-hard and he presses forward gently, wanting to see what Niall will do. It makes Niall's breath stutter a little, makes him squirm closer.

Louis knows what he likes now, that's the mad part, from two or three times hooking up and knowing him for so much longer. He could hazard a guess without even asking. But he wants to hear Niall ask, wants to maintain some semblance of the upper hand. Act like it's nothing, like it was supposed to be the first time, just for laughs, friends getting off.

"Lou," Niall breathes, snapping him out of it. Louis hums, pulls him closer then gets him underneath him, pressing him half-sitting against the headboard, straddling his hips.

"What do you want, hm?" he asks. His heart hurts. He pulls Niall's shirt over his head, pulls his own off too.

Niall doesn't say anything at first, touches him with roving, reverent hands, and then he starts to laugh, buries his face against Louis' stomach.

"Something funny, mate?"

Niall's laughter comes out as breath against Louis' skin. He kisses him there, grinning blearily up. "I mean." He gestures around like all this, then gets his face under control. "Since it's my birthday," he says, "can I ask for anything?"

"Within reason," Louis says, settling back between Niall's splayed legs.

"D'you wanna, um." Niall licks his lips, glances down. "Suck me off?"

It sends a wave of heat through Louis that he ignores, smirking instead. "Yeah, alright," he says. "Since it's lucky number 22 and all." He undoes Niall's flies, peels his jeans down his thighs. Getting them and his pants off past his broken foot is a surgical process and they're both laughing when it's done. Louis folds himself into place between Niall's legs, wraps a hand around his dick and wanks him languidly until Niall's eyes are falling shut, his mouth dropping open. Louis can hear him whining in the back of his throat.

"Don't pass out on me, now," he says, and before Niall can even protest he leans down. His mouth floods at the first bittersweet taste of precome smeared over the head of Niall's cock, and he laps at it, sucks the head into his mouth and plays his tongue around it, shutting his eyes. He takes him in a little more, until the head of Niall's cock is almost nudging the back of his throat and he has to let off, grab a breath, lick his way back down. He's afraid to look up and see the way Niall's staring down at him, afraid of the way his fingers stroke in the hair at the back of Louis' neck. It's all so much more than it was supposed to be.

Louis sucks him with a hand around the base of his cock, bobbing his lips up and down to meet it, letting the fat head of Niall's dick rub over the roof of his mouth and the back of his tongue, making him drool. It gets messier the more Niall's hips twitch under Louis' steadying free hand, the way he moans under his breath and then blurts, "Oh Christ," his hand tightening in Louis' hair. Louis cycles back through the last few things he can remember doing, trying to figure out what made that happen, until Niall cries out again. It was Louis swallowing that did it, and so he does it over and over, breaths coming loud through his nose and Niall's hips shaking hard under his hand, his whole body strung tight.

"God," he chokes out, "I'm, I'm close." Louis keeps at it, throws Niall a thumbs up that makes Niall laugh and then gasp, hips twitching. "Lou, Lou," he says on a whimper, and Louis pulls back just in time for him to come onto his tongue and not straight down his throat. He milks Niall through it, opens his mouth for the very end and catches some on his lips, down his chin, looking up at Niall.

"Christ," Niall says, voice breaking. Louis licks his lips and swallows, wrinkling his nose a bit. The taste of jizz is still everywhere, and he crawls up Niall's body like a needy cat, noses into his cheek.

"Yeah?" he asks, and Niall nods right before Louis kisses him, feeds Niall's own taste back to him until their lips are a little sticky together. He's itching to get Niall in his lap, like they did in Ottawa, like they might have last night for all he knows. "You wanna ride me?" he asks, hoarse, right against Niall's mouth.

"God," Niall breathes, "yeah." He stares at Louis, a half-smile on his wet mouth as Louis strips off the rest of the way and goes digging in his bag for a condom next to the bed. "I'm so glad we're married," Niall says, and he's drunk and joking around and Louis has to laugh with him. But he's glad too. He doesn't know if he'll ever be able to say it.

He stays close as he opens Niall up, whispering filthy nothings in his ear, rolls the condom on then helps Niall up onto his knees, moving carefully around his foot. He's so fucking delicate, not just all the broken bits of him but the way he glows in the low light they've left on in the other room, fair and skinny, the way even Louis' little hands fit around his ribcage like they were made for him. Niall's hooded eyes are on Louis' dick between them as he lifts up, his mouth open, and Louis has to ask.

"D'you remember the car last night," he says. "Coming back from the Palms. I think you blew me."

Niall breathes a laugh. "No," he says, "but we did this last night, I'm pretty sure. This exact --" he gestures between them. "It was good," he says, almost inaudible. Niall doesn't remember much about Ottawa. They haven't talked about it, just like everything else.

"God," Louis says. "C'mon, love." He half-lifts Niall over himself and holds his dick in place as Niall settles back down, hands on Louis' shoulders. It's not that difficult, and Niall makes a tired, wrecked little noise between a sigh and a cry when Louis' dick pushes into him, as he works himself down. He rests his head on Louis' shoulder and Louis tips his head back, shutting his eyes, his fingers pressing into Niall's skin at the intensity of it, how tight Niall is. How could he ever forget this. Niall rolls his hips to make it easier, spiraling down, breathing out little noises every time he sinks a little lower.

"Nialler," Louis breathes, staring at him, and their eyes catch and Louis kisses him then because he can't take another second of that look, of wanting this so badly when he already has it. He kisses him slow and deep in time with the way Niall's rocking against him now, arching his back. "That's it," Louis says against his mouth. "Oh, fuck. Work it for me."

"Yeah." Niall lifts up on him and rocks back down slow again, clenching impossibly tight against Louis. When he's seated against him Louis pushes his hips up a little and Niall cries out, wrapping himself tighter around Louis, face in his neck. He kisses him there, latches on while he fucks himself on Louis' dick and Louis bucks up to meet him, feeling Niall leave a mark, holding his hips so tight he's got to be leaving one too.

"Is it good?" Niall gasps. "You gotta tell me, I don't --"

Louis nods, kisses Niall again, presses a "Yeah" into his mouth. Niall rolls his hips forward and the feeling of it spikes through Louis, all through his limbs, and he knows he's close.

"C'mon," Niall breathes, hips keeping the same slow, steady pace, driving Louis crazy. "Love you."

Louis moans, half in surprise and half because he's right on the edge, buries his face in Niall's shoulder and holds on tight. "Niall," he gasps, and Niall tightens up around him at exactly the right moment, making Louis gasp and jerk under him, coming into the press of the condom, full of heat, his mind whiting out and his wet mouth open against Niall's collarbone.

Niall stops moving just after Louis does, when it's just a little too much, lifts off him and drops back against the pillows, eyes shut. He's half-hard again but flagging almost immediately, too drunk for round two. Louis drags himself up beside him.

"Hey," he murmurs, and he touches Niall's jaw, leans in to kiss him. "Love you," he whispers right before he does. It sends a thrill through his whole body, knowing what it means. He hadn't fully planned to say it, but he's always meant it. It's just different now.

"I think we can agree," Niall says against his mouth as they pull apart, "even if Preston, like, has our names erased from the registry or whatever. I think we've officially been married now. Just. Think we sealed it."

Louis laughs. It's like anything -- a good story, maybe a little more. One last way for his life to be so weird and so, so lucky.