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Unintentional Series - Part 01 | Part 02

 

                                      

 

Translated to Russian  by Stylly

 

 

 

1. Hurts like hell

(Miles McMillan as Danny Ray)

 

 

 

February 2013 / London  

 Track 01 - Impossible | Track 02 - Hurts Like Hell

 

 

'Harry'

He hears Paul calling through the night chill as he hurries through lines of shiny vehicles in the club car park . Several people, mostly divers who were guarding the celebrity vehicles turns their heads to him.  But he does not stop... he could not. The music in the club was echoing behind and the sound stops around him as he gets in to his Range Rover, slamming the door behind him. With a slightly bumming head he starts the vehicle which automatically switches loud Oasis music. Louis' fucking CD he had put in on the way few hours back. He doesn't bother switching it off but takes off turning the wheel with a one hand. He knows the security will be following him as always but he could not give a fuck. He had seen enough, suffered enough. He could not anymore.

Seeing them like that, wrapped in themselves... lips locked as if it was something normal, natural. It had only taken two weeks ... two weeks.

Pushing down the axel he speeds up passing some stunned faces and flashing lights. He wants to go as far as he could from here... as fast as he could. He wanted to disappear, run - and never come back.

Only he could not.

Gritting his teeth he grips on the wheel as tears well up in his eyes.

Enduring the sight of them getting closer and closer for past two weeks, thinking it was all an act for this long, thinking Louis was with her all this time because the management demanded... Louis loved him ... he did, right? But how did he move on so soon... how did he choose her so soon? And ... and why did he kiss her in front of Harry so soon?

He could not stop his breath hitching. His heart pained along with his head. His hands were shaking.

He needed to stop... he should not drive like this, even with the security following him from behind, he knew as much.

Turning in to a the first ally he could he stops the vehicle. The street was full... and the clubs were loud and rich around him. Wiping his face with his hands he breaths in deep.

No matter how hard he wanted to believe otherwise, his world was crashing down with betrayal. He had loved Louis...loved him without limits, without spaces, with all his heart and without any thoughts for himself... Loved him like he needed water and air to breathe... still loved him when many around him told him to leave Louis. He still loved him even when Louis turned bitter and bitter, flashing his ego on him. He loved him... understood his frustration and fears when everything was falling down around them.  He still loved him even when it was all too much for his soul to cope. And after all that Louis had slapped him right in the face for all that by kissing her in front of him... in front of all his friends while he was watching. Why would he do that? Why? Maybe Louis wanted to embarrass him, hurt him ... for saying the things he did two weeks back, telling him that he had enough... that they should go in their separate ways to secure the future of the band and their careers... And it was the truth, though he hoped deep deep down for Louis to find a way. What did he expect? For Louis to still follow him behind and beg him not to go? persuade him somehow to stay? Like he, Harry had been doing all this time, even when Louis was pushing him around after Douglas...? He, Harry had practically been licking Louis boots for forgiveness all this time, tearing his own ego, taking all the thrash from the management and Louis himself, not listening to anyone who cared enough to tell him that it is not healthy. But after all this, the one time Harry turned away, Louis had given up on him. Louis had cut him loose for him go despite Harry's need to see Louis try and stop him. Louis had just let him go...

With a sickening tug deep inside, Harry gets out of the vehicle. Within a blink the people around seemed to recognize him, flashing the cameras. So he hurries to the first pub he finds with decorated rich doors. Bulky minders at the door lets him in easily... seeming to recognize him. 'Don't let my security in' he blurts at them 'let them rot here' he says with a bitter grin as the men smirk.

He walks in, inhaling the fume of expensive alcohol and everything that makes the night high. Someone escorts him to the bar as the music lasted his ears comfortingly... he needs to get drunk. The dim light was swaying and the colours were floating around. Drunken bodies danced around him like shadows but his eyes keeps flashing him Louis' face... Louis' face and her arms touching him... her slender hands, fingers running through his hair... and he had let her, he had kissed her - same way he used to kiss him...

Three whisky glasses and two cocktails later his head was numb as same as his thoughts - floating just like he wanted. Fuck Grimy for saying Harry should see a therapist. He could cope up without letting the world know that he was going mental. He could do without giving Louis the satisfaction... his knowing smirk and fucking soft blue eyes and -

He was sipping his third cocktail as he realized a change in the air of music... lighter... sadder. The strings of guitar strumming, slow, soft almost wounding.

Wicked games, Chris Isaak... he knows the song, sung in a version between the original and Parra for Cuva  version - in a sad crooning voice. He feels like throwing the glass at the man on stage, wanting the him to stop singing... nurturing sadness around when he, Harry was finally feeling fine. He feels disgusted and betrayed. He should leave... get up and walk out but seated almost in the front corner he was easily spottable among the crowd to the stage... if he try to stand everyone will spot him here, drunk and sad with tear cursed eyes. Slowly wiping his face he sits back as the singer, a thin handsome block with long hair and a hat looks at him through the crowd... spots him. His eyes locks on Harry, maybe recognition dragging in to his eyes in a surprise... He should have come across bigger more famous stars than him here for sure... should he be surprised seeing him here... getting wasted like a proper teen pop trash? Harry stares back as the man's too deep eyes looks away as his voice continues to sing.

'.... wanna fall in love.... what a wicked games you play - to make me feel this way.... What a wicked things I do - to make me dream of you...'

Bitterness... that was what Harry feels... as he smiles to himself, tears streaming down his face again. It hurts him ... It hurts him like burning. Louis... always Louis... His stomach churns unhappily. Louis had fucked him over... and the management ... and Eleanor... Eleanor with Louis... they all had fucked him to pieces. 

As the crowd applauds for the song ending he dashes to the empty rest rooms with a swaying head, none paying attention to him in their drunken happiness.

He throws up everything, retching while tears pooled down again and again. He can not take this any longer. He knew he had signed the papers with the management but he can not do this... he could not lose him. He was too attached to Louis to lose him... Louis had been his turning wheel, his best friend ... the love of his life... But Louis had just let him go. He had betrayed him after all this time... just after two weeks. The pictures keep flashing on him again... of him and  her... her arms around him , holding him. Louis face slowly raising to kiss her, reaching with his tongue... his sweet soft lips which Harry was so used to... Is this how Louis felt hearing about Douglas and him?? Is this why Louis acted like he hated him?  Does he hate him? It hurt... It hurt like nothing he ever knew... It hurt like it was burning him alive in hell. He wanted Louis... he wanted Louis to hug him, comfort him... He missed him... he missed his face - handsome but damning , his voice- soft but loud and cutting, his smell - mix of fresh cologne and weed and smoke - all in one... he missed his eyes on him... his lips... his impatient, familiar lips on his skin - cool and soft ...he craved his touch... the touch he was too used to all this time like an imprint in his skin, demanding yet comforting - like he knew exactly how to touch him, breathe him, love him. But what haunts him is their very last time where Louis drunkenly fucked him to the bed rough and raw... as if he was punishing him for Douglas.

Cutting his panting breaths he opens the tap full, splashing water all over his face. He grips on the sink with the shaking hands and gazes at his own reflexion. Reddened blotchy eyes and clammed skin with wet dripping hair... he looked sick and drunk... grief stricken and damned... ruined. Maybe Grimy was right... he was going fucking mental. Maybe he should find a freaking therapist. Go to sessions weekly and admit he is fucking mental and weak. He will be on laughing stock... No ... No ... he needed to get it out of his system... he needed to fucking erase Louis' imprint on his fucking skin. Maybe what he really want is to some one to fuck him out of it... hold him down and fuck him out of his life like Louis did the last time.... He presses his brow to his own reflexion in the mirror with slightly shaking shoulders. Why would not everything fucking disappear... the contracts, Simon, Magee, Douglas, Grimy, Eleanor, Media and fans... his fucking money... would they able sue him if he did not have any money? He presses his head harder and harder as the flashes of Louis and Eleanor floated in his head. Why ... why... fucking why did he agree to any of it. Why wasn't Louis here with him now? where is Louis when he need him the most? 

Then suddenly  a sound from the back stills him, startling him as someone opens the door from behind. Controlling himself he waits, not moving hoping who ever came in would go after using the loo or whatever he came in for. He waits, pressing still pressing his head to the mirror until,

'You are Harry Styles' a voice says from the back.

Slowly straightening up, Harry opens the tap again and washes his face, hoping the stranger would fuck off. But when he turns wiping his face off the towel the stranger was still there. Long hair, dark plaid shirt...tall lean frame and brown darken eyes, it was the same man who was singing with a guitar before.

'yeah...' he says pressing everything down inside with a sigh 'Chris Isaak, good song'

The man stares at him almost if he's startled. 'You OK?'

'Yeah... yeah... had a bit of umm... I had bit too much but I'm good' he says despite the fact that his vision was slightly doubling. Wishing the man would just leave him alone he takes out his phone which had been vibrating every now and then silently in his pocket. He does not really want to check it but he could not pretend otherwise.

Calls and messages from Paul, Grimy, Liam, Zay-

 

'You don't remember me, do you?'

With a groggy head Harry looks up... the man was still staring at him almost intensely. 'I was... I was in Xfactor..'

Harry just sniffs questioningly not wanting to talk.

'I was in X factor with you,.. I ... I - until the live segments...'

'I'm sorry I don't-'

'I'm Danny... Danny Ray' the man says slight disappointment visible in his eyes. 'I played the guitar. We sang once... Niall was playing the guitar with me - you and Louis made everyone sing Valar-'

Sweeping his eyes with  shaky fingers Harry steps near the man, 'I'm sorry. Not ... I'm late. Not a good time for-'

But the man cuts him as if he was not aware of Harry speaking,

'You'll have become so big and successful and I'm glad it all worked out because- S- Simon said you lot are going to win the whole thing. One can only dream about a opportunity like that b-but you five made it all to the top with every fucking thing you wanted, and-'

He goes on eyeing him unblinkingly, almost as if he always wanted to say this to someone... as if anyone was not listening all along.

Harry feels dizzy and puckish... hearing it all like some fairy-tale when in truth it was all a well amended joke.

'Danny' he mumbles as the man stops hearing Harry say his name - and stares at him again looking out of breath. 'Can you help me to get out of here without notifying my security?'

He did not know why he was asking this of this seemingly weird man but he wanted to stop him speaking - distract him from staring at him like some awed object he found laying on the floor- and mostly he wanted to skip Paul who was waiting to take him to the hotel which Louis will be sleeping with his little so called girlfriend. The man nods, almost too enthusiastically. He lets the man, Danny take him out from the back door and jumps in to a taxi dragging him with him. Danny almost looks surprised and overjoyed which makes Harry laugh despite his pounding head. With a still dizzy head he leans back feeling numb and lost again, eyes closed.

'Why are you running from the security?' Danny asks after awhile as they drive along the London streets. Opening his eyes Harry  wipes away stray hairs from his face. He meet Danny's wide eyes on him and feels as if he had been staring at him all this time. '

No particular reason...'  he says casually.

Danny's eyes follows his hand and he feels suddenly awkward. What is he doing? Why was he in a car with this unknown man?

'Is that a Rolex?' Danny asks eyes fixed on Harry's wrist.

Harry just looks at the man sideways, covering his watch with the other hand. 'yeah' he could not keep the slight irritation out f his voice this time.

'I'm ... I'm sorry - I ... it is just I've ne-never seen a o-one before- ' Danny starts babbling, as if he was scared he had offended Harry.

'That's OK... I'm just tired... just... here if you want to look' Unbuckling the watch from the wrist he just holds it up for the man. The fucking watch Louis had picked out of the two Harry had hard time selecting from few months before.

'Suits your lean bony arm, Harold' Louis had said aloud giving a cheeky wink to the sales woman after whispering 'I won't take it out from your wrist the next time I'm going to tie you up naked coz you look too sexy and sophisticated wearing it' to his ear. Red and rolling eyes Harry had pushed him away faking to be annoyed, but had ended up buying it in the end. And Louis had kept to his word no more than two days later...

He bites his lip and leans back with closed eyes as Danny puts the watch back around his wrist. He feels the man's fingers linger, sweeping on his skin but he just ignores it feeling numb.

As the car stops in the hotel he requested, Harry gets down paying the driver without any comments. Danny gets the keys from the counter for the luxury room he had volunteered to book under his name on the way. It was past mid night, everyone seemed to be asleep... Harry does not say a word when Danny follows him along the lavish, empty corridors... nor he utters a sound when he feels Danny's edgy hands on his waist as he opens the door to the room.

Does this man think Harry picked him at the club? Did he? He really did not care. It was better than being thrashed alone in a dead ass hotel room with cold sheets to speak with. He knew he is being fucking reckless but he did not care. Walking near the plush white and beige comfortable bed, he lets the man remove his court. He exhales deep trying to feel something, anything other than the aching of his heart as the man rubs and massages his neck with his lean but strong hands. Louis has always had strong hands... though they looked smaller. But he was always soft with touches when it came to Harry. Careful and soft... strong , yes but consciously soft. Swallowing the tightness in his throat Harry turns to face the man who still has an unbelieving, awed expression in his face. He was sure the man was taking him for a pathetic rich fool... which he was. Ignoring the man's gaze he moves to unbutton the plaid shirt he was wearing revealing thin lean bony body and abs.... so deferent to Louis soft lightly curvy form. The man watches him almost curious and in a wonder. And Harry looks at the strange man and his exited eyes, his waves of shoulder length hair...realizing he is as far as he is from Louis now .

'Fuck me' he mumbles laying his hand with the watch-ed wrist on Danny's bare chest. His fingers shake unnecessarily...

As it was an invitation he had been waiting for, Danny's taller form takes him, kisses him breathlessly.. tearing his shirt off him and running his hands all over. And Harry kisses him back with desperation, pain and stinging he feels. He craves to feel consumed, filled and be wrecked completely as memories keeps flashing on him- of Louis, of the way Louis had held him... the way he always held him...  Louis' anger, suspicions - fear that Harry would leave him... Douglas - Harry's own fucking mistakes... hurt and tearing words. Management, Simon ... the contract. Eleanor... and Louis kissing her just about an hour before, letting everyone know... everyone ... to see that they are done...

He lets him to be taken to the bed, responding eagerly bitterly and feverishly to each touch, each breath, driving the man crazy - making him go out of control... giving it all he could. Louis had taught him well enough to fuck, at least.

He thinks as he laughs hurtfully in the end as the man collapses on top of him.  

 

Early next morning, Harry calls Paul before the man wakes up though, giving him the address and leaving the room before he wakes up. Harry doesn't think he could endure the sight of  the man's face. Not without breaking down. Not anymore.

Only he does, as he gets in to the SUV with Paul. The man probably followed him without him knowing, desperate enough to come out with only his trouser. Harry doesn't ask Paul to stop, nor he feels remorse at the way the man looks at the passing vehicle, eyes wide and sad - as if he just dropped and broke something he loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2016 January/ Present day - LA

 Track 03 - How Deep is Your Love

 

The upbeat music blasting the bumping club slowly syncs to a bass filled thumping...

He knows this track... is sounds familiar ... he remembers as he walks passing the swaying bodies. He had heard  it before, somewhere. 

(How deep is your love?) ... from a DJ, what was his name? should he remember? The bass keep thumping with a techno mix in an heartfelt rhythm. The female voice singing voice creeps in to his senses  - probing him...

He keeps walking towards the swaying, grooving bodies - lost in the addicting tune, drunk and half mindful to everything in the binding high. The dim red light touches his skin, attaching him to the slow moving time in the swaying floor. He gets pushed back, hit by rhythm-drunk bodies... and pulled forward. How deep? Is it deep enough? the female voice probes, questions him... it feels like an allegation - demanding him, persuading him ... to feel

That one name keeps buzzing in his year in between, freezing him, paining him. He could hear them talking - of him - of Louis... he's going to be here. He's going to come. Harry knew, he heard them talk. And he needed to in-hear it. Forget it. No... he can't be here, not here.

Hands around him touches him, making him sway along with the crowd. And it distracts him. Good. Very good. Right? He dives right in to the sensations. A woman starts wrapping her hands around him...flickering inviting eyes to his, looks in to his eyes. She wanted him to hold her, take her, taste her. But no... he can't. Not today. He wanted someone to hold him, take him. He wanted to give in to someone else - if he could. He just breaths, stepping away slowly. She lets him go. He steps deeper and deeper in to the crowed, bodies dragging along his. Hands roam, drunk and high around him. He lets them... feeling drunk himself.

He lets him get lost in the tune... closed eyes ... swaying to the rhythm... ignoring the bodies slithering along him time to time, wrapping around him. He lets them without giving in to respond, high in the smell of booze, sweat and expensive perfume.

He sways with it... track after track... beat after beat...until someone clutches from the back, pressing him smoothly, demandingly.

Hands run through his body confident and strong... they roam freely everywhere sinfully without care. He lets them. His heart raises but he moves, un-missable hardness pressing on his back. He pushes him to endure. Strong hands turns him around then, revealing a set of brown eyes and blond hair.

The man pulls him forward catching his lips with his... running his wild hands through his hair... tugging and impatient.

He lets him be kissed... breathing shakily... his insides were screaming but he lets the man kiss him... deeper and deeper...as his heart hammers inside and his breath hitches with rising panic. Hands keep roaming all over him, pressing him harder and harder. Then the kiss breaks leaving them panting as the man eyes him wildly, almost gasping for breath.

His knees buckles in protest but he pressures himself... holding the man from shoulders he drags his tongue along the man's upper lip , to encourage him. And he succeeds.

"Fucking hell" the man curses "Aren't you a wild thing" he mumbles starting to drag him through the crowd... he complies, following the lead.

The man takes him to the edge of the wild swaying crowd and pushes him to the wall, staring at him - as if drinking the sight of him. Harry feels feverish and shivering. But despite it all he smiles eyes closing.  

"What a sight" says the man stepping towards him, tracing the swallow tattoo through the thin material "Phew" he whistles "...I got lucky today, didn't I?"

He sweeps his free hand along Harry's jean clad thigh. "Aren't these tight?"

Ghosting his hand over what he seem to think as a semi hardness, the man leans again, capturing the boy's sinful lips with his. He sucks and bites moaning in to he mouth. The kid was asking to be wrecked. There was something familiar about him though... had he seen him somewhere? Nursing the thought, he tugs at the long cascading curls and moves to the neck.  He bites on it and the boy shivers with a hiss. The boy's heart was practically thumping with eagerness, he thinks as the boy grips on him.

"I'm going to fuck you so tight right here, little needy hoe" He couldn't help murmuring, "- and I'm going to take you home and fuck you on my table all naked... rough and raw until you're begging from those fuckable lips."

Biting in to the collarbone he unbutton's the sheer sleek shirt without raising his head up. He is about to slide off the sinful material from the perfect shoulders when he suddenly gets thrown away by someone from behind. Barely managing to stand his ground he turns furiously but without a blink he gets punched square in face.

"What the fuc-"

"I'll fucking KILL YOU IF YOU TOUCH HIM!!!" shouts his attacker. A dark haired dude with firing murderous eyes. Someone with a more official cut holds him from the back as the guys tries to rage at him again like a lunatic. "I'll kill you!!" His accent is thick British. 

"Easy easy now" The man in the behind probes.

Is he from police? but... what the fuck? "The fuck, he was going along with it. Why-"

"Look at him you fucking prick!!" The angry one spats as the man turns to look at the young man with long hair who he thought would be his nights' end. Hell, the boy looks shaken... horror struck even - shivering and panting, pathetically holding his unbuttoned shirt together as if he had something to hide in his perfectly toned body. He looks as if he is in pain, half sunken to the floor with glassy eyes and panting breaths. Confusion dragging in his face, the man looks at the soft haired, angry one again - and the official looking one who now had released him. Arching his brow he decides to walk away with a last glance at the wild boy who now looked like a beaten up, shivering mess. What a waste, he thinks shaking his head as he goes blending in to the crowd.

 

Following the disappearing man in the flashing dance floor with his firing eyes, Louis steps closer to the shivering boy, leaving Alex in his stand. He still keeps the distance though with a pounding heart. Louis' eyes gets glassier with tears even without knowing... seeing him like this, seeing him after so long... after what seemed like an eternity. After he left him in the hospital corridor with just a scribbled note...

he could just stare. And green doe eyes returns his gaze with laboured breaths... his knuckles white, gripping in to his own shirt... his black sheer shirt.

His hair is longer than ever, face tensed with fear and pressure, still perfect, still fragile in his own way... looking like some broken angel... 

"What are you  doing to yourself, Harry?" Louis mumbles brokenly through the still playing music.

 

Harry just stares, his eyes wide, hesitant and glassy - gulping, he shivers as Louis steps close. His heart raised like a nonstop mortar...seeing him in flesh, here in this moment in front of him. The piercing blue eyes and demanding expression - it was everything he had been running away to hide from.

He feels weaker ad shakier... his breaths were shorter.

It is impossible but he fruitlessly tries to calm himself down - to take some control...and fails miserably and pathetically , as always. His heart hammers and his breath quickens, choking him. His lungs and chest shot in pain...

He gives in then, with a one gasp of breath,  letting his weak knees loosen along with the breath he was holding.

He lets himself fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Three days earlier / London

 

The security at the gate just lets the car in as Louis lowers his shutter and tries to show his face. His driver pauses none the less and Louis almost considers asking him to turn around and go back to the studio. Why did he agree to meet Simon again?

The car drives through the gate to the French style garden and stops in front of the old yet enormous brick house. Getting down, he does not remove his aviators but grabs his jacket lazing his feet to the door. Why did Simon call him here? won't modest office be more sufficient for a meeting? In the other hand their first meet up with the management after the break was due in three weeks, surely Simon is expected there. Couldn't he have waited until then? The last meeting they had did not quite end in much of a friendly manner with Louis loosing his shit questioning about the contract Simon and the Modest had gotten Harry to sign.

But that seemed ages ago now... though in reality it was a little less than a year back.

With the predicted break after their so called accident, now they have less than three months to produce their promised album and tour, which Louis did not know how their managers were going to pull off considering that they did not even know where Harry was... none of them did. He tries to push down the dull emptiness serenading his head whenever he try to think of any of it now a days, hearing someone turn the door handle from the inside.

 One of Simon's assistants emerges as the door opens inward revealing the marble floors and rich furniture in the foyer.

"Louis" the blond in an pencil skirt lets him in and closes the door behind.

"Mr. Cowell is waiting by the pool side. Can I bring you something to drink?" She asks taking the jacket and hanging it in a gold and silver court rack.

"I'm fine, thanks.'

 

The blond takes him to Simon, who seem to be waiting for his arrival. He sits across the late breakfast table filled with fruit and pancakes under the lone poolside canopy.

"Help yourself" Simon blurts, his attention on cutting cubes of fruits to collect to a glass ball beside him.

"I'm fine, thanks" Louis sighs refusing for the second time.

Silence drags for few minutes with Simon patiently cutting fruit and Louis waiting, gritting his teeth inside. As Louis was about to get up from his chair, Simon spares a glance at him. "How's things in the studio?"

Louis stares for a moment, and shrugs. "We've just started." They have more than three more months to finish the album of course, but he does not say it loud.

"All four of you or is Zayn off with Shahid again?"

Louis crosses his arms on his chest... yes, Zayn's continuous absence in the studio did annoy them time to time but Simon pointing it out like it was something to worry about or something they should worry about irritated him. "We are on break, we can be off with anyone we like I guess"

Putting his knife away Simon wipes off his hands before fixing his eyes at Louis.

"Three months is all you have to polish your shoes and button up your suites, Louis. I do not want anymore drama lurking around than there already is. Zayn's attachment to Shahid is catching up with media as a internal break up. You do know how many would like the band to not to come out of the hiatus."

Louis just shakes his head with the bitter smile lined in his face. Is it any of their fault that they were stuck in this god forsaken contract for three more years? Regardless of how irritated he or the other two lads were with Zayn for keep disappearing under Shahid's coat, can they really blame him for anything? They were meant to be free from Modest by now, aren't they? He leans back to the seat and smiles at Simon effort fully. Simon stares back impatiently.

"We are still on a break, Simon" he says trying to hide the defensiveness in his tone.

"Yes, and we are doing enough to cover up from one end in LA. Media's catching up with Zayn's bonding with Shahid and don't think for a moment Shahid will take Zayn under his wing if he can't see a future there. He will fill Zayn's head with anything under the sun, believe me. We are not running a disaster management company to cover up another break up story in London."

"I'm not Zayn, Simon, if you want to - ask him. Why didn't you call him instead of me? I'm not su-..." Louis suddenly stops and stares at the man's face. LA? covering up....? covering up what? Everything seem to go blank around him and his heart suddenly starts to raise with a shiver.

Simon keeps his eyes fixed on Louis and the hard, revealing gaze in Simon's eyes makes Louis go pale. He sweeps away a untamed line of hair from his forehead nervously.

"Is h.. he... is Harry in LA?"

Simon leans back and crosses his fingers in front of him, eyes still on Louis' tensed face. Louis tries to look normal but his eyes feels heavier and  his head floats as Simon remains silent. "But - but I looked... I looked for him... Me, Zayn, Niall... even Niall. He was not there. He... his house was locked. No one was there."

Simon just sighs but his face looks unreadable. Even his voice sounds calm when he speaks,

"Harry needed some time, Louis. And I gave it to him. But it's time that he came back." Simon says in a matter of fact way.

Louis could not believe what he was hearing.

After the inicial shock of being ditched in that blasted hospital corridor passed he had searched and searched for Harry as if his life depended on it... It was as if Harry had disappeared in to thin air. Media announcements were made that after the critical state Harry was advised to take extensive rest from spotlight and One Direction will be under hiatus for a year in order to give the time for the boys to recover. The fandom and media had gone had gone crazy, but it was agreed among everyone that they should take a step back after the constant limelight and the terrible incident of the accident which almost threatened their lives. And amid all of it Louis, despite of protests- even from the boys- had tried to search for Harry. Anne and Gemma had gone missing too, while Des or Robin flatly told him not to push the fact, telling him that they did not know where Anne took Harry. Louis had searched in every possible place he knew Harry was known to hang around... dragging Liam or Zayn with him in the beginning despite their protests. Not that it was easy with all the doubled security around him as if they expected him to be snatched away like the time before. He even visited Ben fucking Winston and his parents against his own bloody ego. But Harry had been nowhere to be found. He had blasted the management - even Paul - thinking they deliberately hid Harry's whereabouts from him and the other boys. But in the end he realized that that they were as frustrated as him regarding Harry's absence - maybe for completely different reasons than his. 

Considering it all now he never really considered Simon to be behind Harry falling out of the radar, taking his act of mutual curiosity to be enough. But looking at it now he feels foolish not even suspecting the fact. Does this mean that Harry had been in LA all this time? Even when Louis was diving around LA streets like a mad man giving his security a run for it? How had Simon managed to hide him from the entire world? He feels lightheaded with the knowledge but beyond that his mind twinges with an unsureness of what this all means. Why is Simon opening the window to him now?

 

"Why are you telling me this now... I... I searched high and low for him - You know that. Why tell me now?" He does not want to sound sceptical but he knew that was exactly what he portrayed. Had something happened? Had Harry healed the way he should? "Is he alright?" Louis adds unblinking.

Still looking at Louis, Simon gets up. He almost seems thoughtful and reluctant which starts to make Louis' heart raise with panic.

Opening a locker under the glass table, Simon drags out what seems like to be a roll of papers and a file. Without a word he points the paper roll at Louis to take which Louis does, feeling taken aback as he stares at the scribbled rolled papers. He could not mistake the handwriting even if he wanted to... the curvy 'e's and 'y's and 'a's - he could spot them anywhere. He could recognize Harry hand writing almost like his own. Scribbled on papers were lyrics... some from their older albums... some older but rejected ones he knew to be Harry's... and several new ones he haven't seen before but he was positive the papers looked older and smudged over to be anything recent. Louis raises his head up and looks at Simon questioningly to see Simon's back to him.

"I asked Harry to send some writings for the new album." Simon says grimly as if it somehow explains something. "And he sent me those."

Louis spares a gaze at the half filled lyrics again.

"These are our old album songs..."

Simon sighs deep with a nod and without a word drags out some pictures off the file he held back and drops them on the table.

Most of them were blurry and grainy, snapped with night lights in what seems to be in clubs or pubs. And as same as the hand writing Louis could spot that figure anywhere, anytime... maybe the hair looked longer and the details of the faces were to the minimum -but it was still unmistakably Harry. From the posture Louis could say, even how unclear the pictures were that Harry was high. What freezes Louis though is that some of them had captured Harry in rather compromising positions with strangers of men. Not all of them were high quality captures but one look at them, anyone who knew them would unmistakably spot Harry. He feels puckish and drained with a new kind of a dread as his mind refused to analyse the meaning of any of it. 

Louis looks up to Simon with a raising through his head and he meets Simons hard knowing eyes. Something tells Louis that Simon was playing his last cards... that getting Louis for this is his last trump card which he would rather not play with if he had any other choice.

"He's fine for the most part, physically... considering how bad he was." Simon then faces Louis "But he's going through a phase."

 " A Phase?" Louis repeats flatly not sure what to read from Simons neutral face. He drops the papers on to the table and grips on his fist.

"He's been acting reckless, despite his condition. I have a special team of agents for his security but keeping him house arrested only worsens his condition. Letting him out is a disaster as well as you can see. These are Paparazzi snaps and some are from fan cameras. Imagine what could have happened if these went out in to the media. Thanks to the security teams things are under control for now.  And we've managed to put a media ban on him... but I'm not lying, it's just a matter of time something leaks. We can not take a risk, I need this to be stopped for good."

Louis leans forward both hands clasped tight. This was all a bloody jumble. "What... I don't... I don't think I understand."

Simon sits back down and taps on the glass table with access of food.

"His doctors are trying to help him with therapy but he's not cooperating and none of it really seem to work. He's acting rash and reckless- "

"But -"

"I'm sure you know that he was subjected to torture for the whole of the time, Louis, doctors reckon he's trying to deal with it in his own way. He's healing physically but he's getting worse from the other." Simon pauses looking at Louis' pale face, almost as if calculating him. They just stare at each other without words with gravity hitting on them in a painful manner.

"He's under some PTSD conditions." Simon blurts after few moments to the silence.

Louis swallows, not sure how to process what he was hearing. Not when it comes to Harry.

"What... traumatic disorder?" Being a son to a woman in medical sector, the term is not a alien word to him. But it felt strange to even think of it with Harry.

 "So the doctors tell me... He needs someone close to him. Someone he trusts and knows him enough - someone he'd listen to."

"What about Anne? and sister, Gemma? Aren't they with him?'

Simon sighs and shakes his head slightly, intense eyes on Louis. "They do visit him time to time, but Anne and Gemma haven't been there since more than six months now."

"What ? Why? Wasn't Anne the one who took Harry away?" the new information shocks Louis. All this time he had pressed himself the fact that Anne and Gemma was better company than his panicking, fool of a self. But... but what is Simon even saying? 

"There were complications... Harry was not reacting to them well... doctors suggested to let him have more space to him at the time. It was for his healing."

"What do you even mean? is he in LA. Alone?"

He almost feels himself shaking. The whole thing was riling up hi head. And Louis gets the feeling that Simon was only telling him half the story. When would Harry ever let Anne or Gemma leave because he prefers to be alone?

"Agent Waters is with him, but there have not been a improvement for a long time, only to seems to get worse. Harry has ties in London so it's high time he came back to where he belong. But the doctors suggests  some leverage for him to connect in before pulling him all the way here." Simon pauses turning to Louis all the way. His eye fixes at Louis' with a sort of a demanding manner.

"I want you to be that leverage... and the doctors have approved it too."

Louis leans back in his chair.

His heart was thumping hard but his mind is steady enough to see this for what it is. He knows what Simon was doing... Simon want to cover up whatever that is Harry is going through and drag him back to the limelight as soon as he could manage it - and he is using Louis to do the job. Louis... who Simon had forced Harry to agree break up with. Louis, who they had chased away from Harry's life... Louis who they had under an illusion of a love built upon lies and contracts. He feels like picking up the bloody fruit ball and throwing it to the bloody glistening pool next to them. But no matter how much Louis felt like lashing out for the mere hypocrisy of all of it, he knows he would do exactly what Simon would say... for Harry's sake. But he, for Harry's sake would not give Simon the satisfaction of forcing them to this circus.

"It's been an year since Harry disappeared from that bloody hospital. Pray tell me why you are searching for leverage now when you had over a year to let any of us know. Don't tell me you had the best interest at hear because you and I both know that it's lie. You are just running out of time to drag him down to parade around."

Simon just looks at him calmly but Louis knows that Simon was fuming inside. He leans back and shoots Louis a challenging stare.

"I will ignore what you said just for this one time, Tomlinson. Because I know you do not handle pressure or surprises well. And I know we are not in the same page regarding his contract or how things went down years ago. But let me remind you that fame and money come with a price. And if you can't remind him that and make him pull his shit together, it's not me who have everything to loose."

"He was fucking tortured for days!" Louis barely managed to not to thrash he table in front of him as he spats. But Simon does not seemed to even blink.

"Yes. And he had a whole year off."

Simons dull and uncaring tone fuels the burning inside his thoughts like fire. Louis grits teeth wanting to calm down - he knows that he could never win this game with Simon. They all had already known that since years ago... that Simon had the ability to bring them down the same way he pushed them up. He knew Simons words were threats hidden in layers of advice and facts - the whole industry knew that. So he could just listen swallowing his words as Simon continues with a unmoving stare fixed on Louis.

"I know this is short notice but I think both of us know that I'm not the one asking you for favours, Louis." Simon says his voice low and almost smug which Louis ignores and looks away at the bright sunlight on the pool. He knew there is nothing that in this industry that won't be put in to a bid if it was usable in some way. There was no shame nor regrets if profit is what it results. And at this moment their history is Simons trump card... their attachment, feelings and everything in between. It is just a bargain.

And Simon knew exactly how to play it... he knew exactly Louis won't refuse...

 "Agent Waters already knows of your arrival. He'll make the necessary  arrangements in the airport to keep it under the radar. Your flight is booked on day after tomorrow."

Louis does not say a word nor spares a move. But he knew Simon would take it as a yes...  Does he have a choice? Well, hardly... he knew it himself. Reaching for the scribbled papers on the table, he stares at Harry's old hand writing.

"Why had he sent the old ones?" he asks after spending a enough time to get the control back to himself.

Simon looks at Louis, his smug expression now turned to the usual blankness.

"Not sure." he says tapping on his cheek with a finger. "Maybe he's trying to take a piss or maybe he just wants a pass" Louis smiles bitterly at that, somehow finding that Harry wanting to purposefully set Simon off making him look smug, if anything.

Simon eyes Louis with a scorn though,

"... or perhaps he can not fucking get his head right enough to remember."

 

 

..................................................................

 

 

 

 

Present Day / LA

 

 

"He's asleep"

Alex says finally coming in to the kitchen where Louis had placed himself since they arrived the place. Louis just nods without a word, running his fingers through his messy hair. Alex grabs two cans of beer from the fridge and passes a one to Louis, settling in the kitchen island across him.

It was near 2.00 am and the dimly lit penthouse was eerily calm. It felt like a silent phase after a storm and everything around the suite looked too eloquent and proper without an inch of a miss and Louis had hard time settling in to its perfection at the moment. Couches, draping, decorated lamp shades and framed mirrors ... It looked like Victorian era blew up in the fucking millennium more than anything else- Was this Simon's idea of giving someone a break? the place even has a fucking ornamental piano. Does Harry at least walk around this place? he wondered looking at what looks like an untouched kitchen.

"You can crash in if you like" Alex says popping the can open "No one's in the master bedroom. You can take it."

"Don't think that's a good idea' Louis says watching Alex sip the beer without opening his one. He was too tired to even think how Harry would react if he simply found Louis sleeping in here casually as nothing happened at all. Not after what just happened.

Louis just sighs. Closing his eyes he could still picture the way the green dilated eyes had stared at him in the dimly lit club about an hour ago... wide with shock and fear.

 

When he landed on LA about some hours ago, he had planned to see Harry the next day in much calmer and a peaceful set up, but everything seemed to have fallen out of hand. 

After a restless, freaking long flight, Louis had walked out of the terminal with Stan- expecting to meet Alex but instead they were greeted by a stiff security guard and a driver. They pressed to take them to the hotel straight telling them that Alex had got caught up with an emergency. The emergency - as he found out with further probing - meaning to be finding Harry -, Harry who had apparently gone missing...

Of course Louis had him driven to Alex right away, panic swallowing him head to toe. He had gotten smoking furious.

But after Alex up front threatened to send him back to the hotel if he uttered a word when he tried to confront Alex and the team for not doing their job, all he could do was to sit back in Alex's tinted car and let him lead the search party. Knowing that the man was all about the job, Louis had resorted to curling up in the back seat not wanting to be sent back.

And after hours of driving around pubs, restaurants and clubs in LA, they had finally found Harry's car, parked in a random club packed with a Saturday night crowd. When the club security refused to let the team in, it was Louis' turn to step up flashing his celebrity card. The doormen agreed to let Louis and Alex in and Louis did not even consider batting a smug eye at Alex because he knew it was not the time. Racing in with fired up heads, both of them had become almost lost in the swaging drunken crowd... but in the end Louis had spotted him (how could he not?) in the far corner of the dance floor, pressed against a wall in the far end by some blond haired block. And the last thing he had been prepared to see Harry in that very stage... all wasted and shivering - barley holding... being manhandled by a stranger in a corner of a blasting loud club bursting with people - the pictures Simon had shown him haunting alive right in front of him-

Of course Louis had dragged the guy away and of course he punched him across the face as Harry watched in shock... Stared at him as if he'd seen a ghost, still shivering. If not for Alex who held him back, Louis would have just kept on punching out of panic, fear and anger he felt. But the guy had just backed off and Louis was unable to even fathom the fact that Harry was in that place, looking the way he did... an easy target to anyone or anything, including the bloody paps.

'What are you doing to your self, Harry?" He could only mumble out of shock sadness and panic.

He had been too busy staring at Harry's shocked eyes to notice that Harry's breathing had not gone down- That it kept  increasingly to gasps... nor the way Harry's  knees started to shake along with his whole body. So he had not seen it coming when Harry had started falling in front of him. If not for Alex who had jumped forward by instinct catching him, Harry would had fallen flat on to the floor.

Frozen to the spot, nothing could have prepared Louis to see Harry like that next - panting for breath shivering and sweating at the same time ... desperately clutching on to Alex as if to make it stop regardless that it kept getting worse. They were in a club full of people with no shield what so ever... There were people, cameras phones around... Louis had almost lost it not knowing what to do. But Alex had not blinked an eye,- he had a hard straight look in his face as if to tell Louis to trust him. And without wasting any time Alex had just dragged Harry's shaking and tearing form up and had half carried, half walked him out of the back exit - cooing him with comforting mumbles, pretending to onlookers that he was carrying his drunk pal out of the club. He had put him in to his tinted car and gestured Louis to follow in the other, jumping in after Harry. Louis had just followed without a word, feeling shocked and his head running haywire, clueless and scared. He had gotten to know from the security that the managing teams had already arrived at the place to erase and cover up the whole ordeal reaching attention.

When their car reached the place, Alex and another security guard were already helping Harry to the elevator upstairs. Harry had just walked like a zombie, with fallen shoulders and swaying on his feet as the other two men patiently followed him. Harry had not once looked back and Louis had just stood there dumbstruck, watching from afar  - he was shocked out of his wits, because he had not been prepared to see Harry like that... least not today.

 

"Get some sleep." Alex's voice drags him back to the dimly lit kitchen.

He stares at Louis patiently "It won't make sense you going back to the hotel at this time. You were going to meet him tomorrow anyway... here" Alex says taking another gulp calmly. The whole incident had shaken Louis to the core yet Alex was acting as if it was a simple daily occurrence. Was Harry going missing and finding him in a random club grinding on a stranger a normal thing? he wonders gripping  on his own bottle.

"When did Harry come here?" He asks ignoring his own train of thoughts.

Alex spares Louis a look as if he was too tired to make a conversation. "He's been here ever since he left London."

Louis eyes him calculatingly, how many times would he have had driven around, not knowing Harry is in this area?

"What's wrong - What's going with him? He's... he-"

"I don't think I'm the one to answer - least not now." Alex shakes his head taking another sip. Louis just stares at him but Alex does not return the stare. "But I think today he overheard that you were coming down." he says lightly. "He doesn't like surprises much I guess"

Louis nods with a sigh. "What about you? Thought you are a field officer with a badge and a gun... But you are here with a security team covering up a singer... a guy from a pop band"

Alex smirks a laugh at that still not looking at Louis, "You say that as a bad thing. I go where my job go Mr. Tomlinson. I'm assigned for Harry's protection"

"It's Louis"  - Alex looks at him carefully and Louis feels tempted to ask if there had been any incidents regarding Harry's safety at all. But instead he stands, leaving his half full beer on the table.

"Do you think Robby can drop me off to the hotel?" he asks.

Alex just nods with pursed lips.

"I'll see you tomorrow then." Louis says as he walk towards the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

                              

  

3. Sweeping Under

 

 

Louis had a lot to think about.

And that was exactly what his incorrigible self does for about five hours which he is supposed to be sleeping.  Jet lag had never been a kind to him, not even when they were touring. The time difference from London to LA had him by the neck and he could not sleep even if he wanted to. Instead of switching off to a well deserved rest, his mind had been playing flashes of the past year... specifically of an one curly haired boy in the hospital bed, ill and drained out - struggling to look at his face before he left him - and then the months after, which were spent in numbness, anger, hurt and desperation.

Does anyone have any idea how hard Louis tried to find him? 

No matter how much he tried to convince him that Harry was safer without him or that it was Harry's decision to leave, his heart refused to believe that Harry was better off without him. And yesterday night had proved it as light of day. He, for the life of him would  not have allowed something like that to happen. His insides panics even now as he tries to think what might have happened if they had not found him at that moment. 

How long had this being happening? And what the fuck had Alex and his team been doing all this time? Had they just let him wonder around? Fool around? Did they always manage to find him before anything drastic happened? highly unlikely... Maybe they did not bloody care as long as Harry could walk and talk enough to return back to London to his playboy spot. As long as he was juicy enough for news.

The mere thought itself made Louis furious. Management, Simon and whoever this bloody team including Alex was treating Harry as if he is a piece of meat.

 

Sleep nowhere near and agitating thoughts burning his head, Louis tosses and turns in the unfamiliar hotel bed. In the end he just sits on the bed staring at the bedside clock as it crawled around the time.

When it's barely half past six, he gets dressed and drives to the penthouse, fully knowing that Harry would not be up this early. By the shock in his face seeing Louis last night, he was quite sure that Harry was not aware of him coming to LA.

Did Simon just decide to send Louis here because Harry was acting reckless? was that it?

How angry is Harry going to be at him for playing the muppet for Simon when he clearly wanted Louis to stay away from him? -Let me go- Harry's scribbled note still echoed in his ears hauntingly.

 

The security lets him in without a fuss in the penthouse entrance... as if they were already informed of his coming. He takes the private lift up and stands in front of the rich wooden door the security opened up for him yesterday. One two three knocks. A short haired woman in about her late fifties opens the door with almost excited eyes and a smile. She has blue eyeshadow at 7am in the morning and yellowish blond hair with the palest skin...

"You must be Louis" she says as if she was waiting him to come. Her accent is British. 

Still holding on to the door she extends her other hand for Louis to shake. "I'm Angela. - Mr. Waters told me you will come in but he did not warn me that it would be this early." She almost sounds surprised.

"I..umm I didn't have anything else to do." He says sheepishly. "Is Alex - err ... Mr. Water's in?" He asks because well, he bloody could not ask if Harry is awake. He could not ask about Harry at all.

"He's gone for his daily dose" she says with a straight face and a lower tone as if it was something secretive. "Sweating and panting his lungs out by now for sure." She mumbles shaking her head with a sort of a disapproval.

Louis stares at her dumbly as she mouths "Jogging" and opens the door for him to get in. "Come on in."

 

She directs him to the shining kitchen and he settles down in the same chair he sat the day before.

Angela busies herself running around making breakfast ...  chatting away with a nodding Louis. By the time a panting and sweaty Alex stumbles in to the house, Louis has plates filled with bacon, eggs, toast, sliced fruit and a pot of tea in front of him -  plus amid all the details about her life with five cats he had found out that it was Harry who had hired her after randomly talking to her in a restaurant and that she never knew who he was and that she only comes on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 am to 2pm in which Harry sleeps in until 10 in the morning if he is in and prefers cereal in the mornings no matter what is in the table and that he loves to pet her cat Jerry whenever she brings it in with her. He also learns that Harry is in contact with Jeff and possibly Grimy (the tall radio man with a big mouth and a quiff ) because she had seen them take him out for lunches several times.

"You are up early" Alex states stepping to the kitchen.

Louis watches as Alex greets Angela with a friendliness he had not seen before from his dull and apathetic personae. He did not believe the man could manage a smile. With a casual black t-shirt , shorts and sweaty hair , Alex almost looks domestic - unlike the official guy in a suite Louis was used to. Louis does not know why he feel slightly edgy about it. He watches as Alex helps himself to a juice.

"Couldn't sleep" Louis says grimly as Alex's calculating eyes pauses on him.

It was as if the man could read his hesitation inside. He wants to ask if Harry is still asleep -which he most definitely is - whether Harry is ok or if he needed any medical help or if they should notify the doctors, but Louis does not. He feels conscious as if he was in sort of a spotlight in front of Alex's cautious eye. How much does Alex know about Harry and Louis? about their past? Had Simon and the management really disclosed everything to him or was he wondering why suddenly Louis is here despite of anyone else? How much had Harry revealed about what had really happened during the kidnap to Alex?

He remembers Alex and another guy questioning him about the whole ordeal just after Harry disappearing from the hospital for the victim impact statements. Wanting to get it over with, he had parroted what the PR teams scheduled him to say... - That Nickels Moth had crazily believed them to be together and had thought harming him would someway hurt Harry more (which was not a lie at all) - Was Harry requested to do a victim statement as well? If he did, how much had he revealed? Did Harry talk about any of it with Alex in his time here with him? and... and did he ever tell him why he decided to leave the hospital - vanishing on Louis? Did he ever explain? He could not guess. And he did not feel good about anything at all - not this place, not Alex,  not Alex being the only one here with Harry ( why the fuck could not Paul be with him anyway?) , not the fact that he, Louis is here like some fucking stranger stumbling in the dark.  

Louis spares a glance at Alex who still has his eyes on him.

Maybe Alex sensed Louis' reluctance to talk and his impatience about Harry. So he does not seem to try to press Louis in to a conversation to much to his relief. They both fall in to a silence as Angela busies herself cleaning, chatting up about her son promising to visit her on her birthday. Later as Alex leaves muttering about a bath, Louis helps himself to a toast and tea - not exactly the way he likes but he is far from a ungrateful git to complain.

 

Sipping his tea, Louis moves to the lounge and settles himself on the circular couch which looks untouched by any human contact - sure to spoil it as he rests his feet on the round ottoman. Leaning back he finds himself relaxing as the warm liquid seeps in. Clutching the mug he closes his eyes trying to feel nothing. He does not know how long he stays like that until Alex returns.

"Get some proper sleep... master bedroom's free. I told you last night. You can sleep there"

Louis opens his eyes to see Alex with sort of a book in his hand. He had changed in to some grey pants and a white t-shirt.

Beyond his built he looks nothing like the stiff and tough agent he remember who spent hours questioning him few days after Harry took off from the hospital. He looks at ease... almost at home. Only thing that gives away the domesticity  was the bloody calculating stare.

Not getting a response from Louis, Alex sits down opposite to him with an almost inaudible sigh, opening his book as if Louis' irritated stare did not really bother him. He looks calm and rested, opposite to Louis' agitated form. This must be a real vacation for him, Louis thinks looking at him - to watch over a celebrity with all the comforts and all the bloody time in the word. It was not that everyday a fucking officer get a holiday in a penthouse in LA. The least he could do was show some effort, not loosing the one he was supposed to look after in the middle of the night as he did yesterday. Did he actually give a damn about any of this at all? or does he think he's beyond looking after a so called teen heartthrob

"How is Harry?" He asks finally bit edgily after a good amount of time staring at the man, unable to keep it in anymore.  

Alex does not look up from his book. "Asleep", he says tonelessly.

Louis just glares. "Does Simon know that you bloody lost him yesterday?" he could not keep the sarcasm and blame from his voice. But Alex just lightly snorts continuing to pay attention to his book. He straightens up placing the mug on the ottoman 'It is your job to stop stuff like that happening, right? or does Simon conjure up an invisible team to tag him along when he pulls shit like that?'

Closing his book Alex straightens up crossing one of his legs over the other and looks at Louis's piercing glare with tight lips and a hard stare.

"All you people care about is fucking covering up after him. Do you have any idea how close he was to - "

"He has an unpredictable stance." Alex cuts in his calm resolve almost peeling away. "I'm here for his protection. But I'm not keeping him locked up because of that, Tomlinson, if that's what you are asking. He needs to find a way back from it all. Tying him up to a room won't do any good to his situation..." He says coldly.

"What do you know of his situation?" Louis fires as a question more than anything.

He knew he was being unreasonable with Alex, getting irritated for no reason. But he does not need to hear what Harry's like from a stranger who barely knows him. Yes, the man had saved them and he had been around Harry for couple of months... but Louis  does not care. Nobody was there in that warehouse when it all happened... nobody. Not even Liam, not Niall, not fucking Simon and definitely not Alex. He, Louis saw what they did to Harry the short time he saw him in their clutches - how they tortured him and kicked him around. If there was anyone who could understand what happened to Harry to a closer extent, it was Louis... well maybe Zayn too in a way. But it was Louis who had been there, Louis who knew him inside out as same as the back of his neck since they walked under the spotlight... Louis who he fell in love with, Louis who he tried to break away from but really couldn't, Louis who they  had tried to kill in front of him... to punish him for something he never did...  

Sure Alex would be able to tell him how Harry had coped so far in these months but does any of these people really know Harry at all to fucking know what he is going through?"

 

"Yesterday... he overheard some guards talking that you will be coming." Alex says, "-didn't take it that well. He took off without us knowing. He tends to do that... when he gets-" Alex closes his mouth eyes still on him. He seems to think, holding his gaze for a moment in silence.

"He's not responding to his treatments. Alex says grimly then, - more like a statement as if he had wanted to let Louis know in the first place. 

There was a cold grip to his voice which came out as a habit - maybe he was not used to being in the receiving end of the questions. But Louis could not care less.

"Simon fucking told me the same thing. What does that even bloody mean?"  Louis shoots uncaringly.

"His therapist had been trying to make him talk but Harry hasn't really been opening up so far."

Louis could just stares at Alex's sharp face, shocked. It had taken six months of twice a week sessions with his therapist for Louis to really find his peace with the whole trauma he went through and cope with Harry's sudden departure. At least three months of spitting every fucking bitter feeling out - teary screams and blaming everyone around him, including Harry for everything that happened - for thinking foolishly that leaving him would solve anything in the first place... not once but for the second freaking time. But after all the crying, thrashing and blaming, Louis had found his peace and focused more on finding Harry, fully well knowing that his scribbled note of good bye meant nothing but a  instant flick of self pity and urge to push everyone away from him... irrational escapism was Harry's best coping method. Louis had tried to push everyone too - snapping and arguing for the smallest bloody reason but  his mother, Liam, Niall, Stan, and Lottie had not taken any of that... They had been with him through the whole ordeal giving him the time, patience and space to heal.

But... but what of Harry? Had he been here all this time haunted with everything he was put through? He had only seen Harry in the clutches of those thugs for several hours. And he could not even comprehend to think what they might have done to him throughout that whole time of two weeks.

How is he coping?

Why haven't he been properly looked after?...

Why was he still here alone?... wandering about fucking clubs to be picked up by random freaks?

Louis feels his head become heavier and his eyes moisture. Why could not have he found him sooner? Why couldn't Simon send him earlier? He looks down to hide his face from Alex. He does not want to led him to think he's some emo twink. But whatever Alex sees, he seems to ignore it... letting Louis collect himself in silence.

 

"Why is he here alone?" Louis speaks up again after a while. "His mom... and his sister, Gemma... I know they are the ones who brought him here. Why aren't they here with him?"

Alex sweeps his hand along his mouth as if he was unsure this time. Louis just watches him patiently trying to read his expression. What in the gods' name had made Anne to leave her son here alone?

"I think you should probably talk to his doctor or give a call to Anne or Gemma about that."

"I'm asking you" Louis was freaking done with all the secrets, blanks and riddle shit. Simon had tip toed around it as if everything was a bloody taboo and he was not letting Alex do the same this time. He fucking needed to know...

"I don't- "

"I fucking don't give a shit, right? I don't know how much you know of all the fuck that went down but he's my boy! And I want to know why his mother... who took him away couldn't stick with him when he's in shit need of someone to take care of him!!! So don't tell me to ask someone else. If you are not telling me, I'm going to bloody wake him up and ask him myself!"

Getting up to his feet, Louis darts to the oversized glass window. The LA skyline glistens outside of the window and Louis just stares at it absentmindedly. He really didn't give a fuck anymore if Alex or whoever knew about him and Harry. If Simon dared enough to send him here, use him like this- use them like this- he is going to claim back what is his. Harry is his - through and through... He knew it and Harry himself knew it better than anyone. He had known it since the beginning he sighed that fucking contract. And he would not let anyone say otherwise. Not Simon, not bloody Magee and not even Harry.  

Louis hears Alex get up from the couch from behind but he does not turn. He was sure Alex would just disappear in to whatever. The conversation was over... fine. He will fucking ask Harry himself! He thinks, but then Alex steps near the window beside him, almost startling him. He spares a glance at the taller man as he sighs - as if he was weary seeing everything unfold.

Louis waits for him to talk.

"He has - severe mood swings... can't really seem to control it, gets set off by small things. He got angry once - started to thrash around. Anne tried to stop him and there was an accident. He... umm... She was hospitalized... had to get some stiches done and all. Doctors decided it's not safe for them to stay with him."

Alex's voice sounds dull but Louis thought he could grasp a sort of a sadness there for some reason. Crossing his hands on his chest he continues to stare outside the window as he feels his eyes well up again. He does not try to hide it this time - he couldn't. See, he know how protective Harry was towards Anne. She was his lifeline in a way. He adored her and she back him. They were the ultimate Mother and son he knew. The best model as it comes. Harry he knew would literary die before letting any harm come to Anne... and same went for Gemma. If there were women in his life who he loved with his whole heart, it was two of them. And Louis could not imagine what this would have meant to Harry, Anne or Gemma. He just couldn't bring himself to.

"Was he put under medication?" He askes quietly ignoring the change of his own tone.

"Yes" Alex says without looking at Louis, "He didn't take it too well"

Louis couldn't put him to think what Harry must have felt... physically hurting his mother out of control. He couldn't imagine what he would do if he hurt his own mother like that. "What happened?" he asks feeling blood rushing in to his head.

"He went hysterical for days. Had to be sedated to stop him going to constant a seizures. He couldn't handle it. Doctors prescribed medication with  promise that he would attend therapy sessions, work on his progress."

Louis shakes his head slightly with pursed lips. "Let me guess... he never did. Did he?"

"He did go to the sessions. Still does..." Alex sighs. 'But only because he can get his hands on the pills. His therapist warned him that he would have to show progress'    

"What, so now they are going to stop the course just like that? But-"

"His doctor refuses to prescribe anymore, and Harry's not in a strong stage - you saw him yesterday, he panics with smallest flicks."

"Can't Simon-"

"No, he can't." Says Alex with a sigh. "It's his doctor's decision... and they are very strict about it due to his condition... His - Harry's reports indicate dangers of dependence if this continues"

Louis looks at Alex startled. No, No fucking no. Dependence? for his pills? What the fuck had his doctors prescribed him?

Louis knew what happened to Harry in the hospital. Liam had told him everything... the dependency, withdrawal, pains and seizures... How in the  fucking name is Harry not scared? Has he gone damn thick with shock? Or is he aware of the risk at all? Had anyone not told him? Well how could anyone... b'coz no one is fucking here, right? They have all left him with a field agent who knows how to shoot to targets and rounds up fucking criminals. Does Alex at least know the severely of how Harry  suffered due to force injected fucking heroin? does he?

"His condition is unpredictable... he goes days acting normal but suddenly it goes south." Alex adds tonelessly "We later found that he had been taking them more than he should - I don't think  he intends  to... just, he's just scared of going through panic attacks."

 Louis  shakes his head as everything weights heavily. They just stare out silently for a moment.

"Why the hell is he here alone, Alex?" He asks wearily in the end. "Why wasn't he sent back to London or Cheshire the first thing? He should be with his family and friends who can help him...' Louis squeezes his neck trying to calm himself down.  'Why is he still here in this bloody cage like a fucking piece of meat?" 

Alex's face looks impassive, almost dull - but his eyes, as he looks down, lines with a sort of a bitterness and a hint of a sadness. He sighs deep shaking his head slightly.

"I wish I had an answer to that." he says as a bitter smile lines in his face looking at Louis. "But I guess you are here now."

There was a sort of a sarcasm blended in his voice all of a sudden and Louis feels choked with each passing moment as things become clearer and clearer in this mess. Why Simon, who had been one of the main architects of breaking them apart and keeping them separated had bent and asked Louis to Come to LA to be with Harry... even if perhaps he did not wanted to. He did not have a fucking option because Harry in his isolation had not healed as he hoped.

Looking out again Alex sighs stepping back from the window. His hand clutches Louis' shoulder as he goes, gripping slightly firmly.

"He's sweeping everything under the carpet." he says as he walks away, leaving Louis just standing there staring outside. "Try to get him to open up."

Alex's voice sounds cooler again - as if he was tired of talking. "Don't ask him about Anne's incident if you can... until he tells you."

Louis hears the door close behind Alex but he does not turn. He just continues to stare out as the shining sky until his head start to sway with it's brightness.

 

 

 .................................................

 

Warning for Flashbacks

 

 

 Drowning... it feels as if drowning. But there was no water, just his own wheezing breaths. His wrists were dead pinned to the dirty mattress and his parted lips trembled in a helpless cry. His body was useless. The pain was unbearable as the it kept thrusting in with force. He feels dizzy as long cold fingers storks his sweaty mess of a hair firm and forceful. 'Shhhhhh... Shhhhh it's OK, Harry... It's OK' Nick coos at his ear merely an inch away from his face, "You just need to tell me... Tell me if it's true. Its gonna end soon if you tell me..."  Nick's wild gaze stares at him - sucking in the view as if it fuelled  him. Harry just pants, his lungs heaving for air. Nick keeps his eyes on him for a moment with an expectation- and then looks over at the thrusting man. 'Harder...'  Nick simply says as the thrusts speeds up with a tearing force,  nails biting in to his wrists drawing blood. He just  wails and sobs, unable to take it anymore - painful moans tuning to weeping screams. The blue eyes bores in to him wide and obsessed attention continuing to run his fingers through the messy curls - pain, pain is the only thing he feels and hears.

but then, suddenly  things turn over...

The mattress vanishes and Nick's obsessed expression morphs in to a cold smugness in front of him. He feels held upright and disoriented - chest burning and blood seeping through most of his body.

 ' Look what you have done, Harry. Look at him...' Nick forces his head to the side and he sees him...

Harry sees his pale white face with wide open lifeless eyes - skin almost blue as same as his lips ... Louis!!

... Louis was dead.

'Look what you have done.. It's your fault, Harry, It's all - your - fault!'

The icy voice whispers but the sound screams and scrapes his ear.

 

With a wheezing breath he wakes up to his thrashing, sweat drenched body.

His heart raising, head dizzy as the terror consumed him. Where was he? where..??

Gripping at the sheets he tries to get up... but fails. He could not breath so he started sucking at the air to stop himself chocking. He felt weak and his body was numbing... but his heart kept pounding... faster and faster. Shit! No!! Shit! Shit!!! No!! He rubbed his paining chest with a trembling hand. He needed to get to the drawer... he had to. He thinks pressing his hand harder.

But it would not stop... His chest was biting at him and the rest of his body was numbing - he was going to die suffocating!!! The terror crept at him as everything started to sting. No! Fuck!

With a tearing effort he tries to move again. As his body rolls to the stomach, he drags himself gripping on sheets - drags to the bedside drawer. Manically he waves his hand blindly until it hits the small plastic container, still wheezing as his lungs squeezed inside. He uncaps the bottle and digs his finger in.

One pill only... one pill. He fucking remembers. But he takes out three.

He swallows them and lets go for once, hand still clutching at his paining chest, letting the dizziness takeover. 

  

  

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 4. Locks & Wrappers

 

 

 

 

 ".......... !! "

 

It is a sound of something shattering to pieces that startles Louis out from his sleep. Tired and drained, he had drowsed off after Alex had left him to his thoughts - on the couch that looked like the best choice for a lie down since there was no one around. He almost feels disoriented as he tires focus, to gather the still unfamiliar surrounding of the penthouse.

'Fu-ck'

He hears someone swear, someone with a deep drowning voice - and of course he could recognize that voice even if he was in hell... Harry  

He gets up slowly with a recovering from his blurred and swaying head and walks to the kitchen  with sleep heavy eyes. As he enters he sees Alex silently pouring milk to a bowl... possibly filled with cereal because the box was aside. And then there was Harry next to him. His shoulders looked slumped-  and with his back to Louis, Harry moved his bare foot along the floor, sweeping it as if to wipe around. There was sort of a uncoordinated lethargy to the way he moved his body... And that is when Louis sees scattered pieces of  white porcelain, cereal and milk splattered  across the floor.

'Leave it, you'll cut yourself' Alex murmurs looking sideways - and he sees Louis standing there, watching them. He almost spares a grim glance at Louis as if to tell him to act normal, so Louis just watches as Alex hands Harry the bowl.

'Do you need fruit?'

'N-o'

Harry says simply taking the bowl and almost stumbles on his feet for Alex to steady him. Harry just smirks when he does, as if it was something funny.

Is he slurred?

Louis just steps near feeling slightly nervous as Harry finally sees him, and for a moment Harry stares at him- his eyebrows angling and his expression changing to something of a brood, though he blinks almost distracted. His eyes seemed darker and greener than Louis actually remembers and he could clearly see bags beneath them. Nevertheless, hair loose and slightly wet, dressed in gray sweatpants and white t-shirt and bare feet ... he looks far away from yesterdays' trembling, panicked mess of a boy in the club. But there was something in the way he moves and looks that Louis could not put his finger in - something amiss. An inkling that something was not right.

Still eyes on him, Harry grips on his bowl of cereal tighter as Louis takes a step forward sweeping his hands in to his pockets.

'Hey. -'

Louis says sounding almost nervous as Harry slowly walks towards him - feet almost dragging and eyes still on him, his sharp, green creepily beautiful eyes. It was as if something of a force field that Louis feels himself drawn to him... to Harry, his Harry. He had finally found him after all this time... devoid of flashes and spot lights... after all the searching and drama. He just want to wrap his arms around him and press him in until he could really feel him. Until Harry drowned in him - with him. He does not even realize he was holding his breath... waiting - waiting for him to come to him.

But then Harry just looks ahead as if Louis had suddenly turned transparent, making Louis stop at his tracks.

 'I'm going to my room'. He says as he passes Louis, as if he was talking to Alex - as if Alex was the only one he could see around. And Louis just stands there biting his fucking lip and gripping numbed fists inside his pockets. Disappointment trickling down his head, he tries to contain himself fighting the urge to turn around and physically stop the boy. He only looks up at Alex when he feels Harry had already gone from the kitchen.

'Let him go' Alex says wearily putting away the milk and breakfast boxes.

 

'He's slurred' Louis states after a moment - he knew what it meant.

'He said he had a panic attack' Alex says lightly, starting to clean the mess. Louis just watches as Alex collects the ceramic pieces to a bin, carefully collecting them all. He seemed well rehearsed at it to much of Louis' concern. 'Let him be... he'll come around' Alex says without looking up.

Louis scoffs at that. 'Like he bloody will.' He spats.

If he expect Harry to come and spill his guts on his own just like that, he'll be the most fucking delusional idiot to ever walk around. If Louis knew anything at all of about this curly, it was that he's a freaking locked box with layers of defensive wrappers. Harry won't open up unless you rip them off and slam your head on the surface. So fuck this... Louis thinks as he follows Harry to his room ... or wherever he disappeared to moments ago. He hears Alex calling him from the back but he could not care less. He wanted Harry to look at his face and acknowledge his presence. He wanted him to see him - here, Louis being here in front of him like a person. Louis wanted him, his eyes to fucking recognize him as he is, not look at him as someone who he didn't knew was alive, or worse someone who left him to rot when ironically it was Harry who fucking left Louis in the first place.

Walking passing the rooms one by one he finally finds the only one with a closed door. And if anything, he knew Harry would be in the other side of the door. For a second he fears if he had locked it - but it was not.

Louis opens the door and walks in slowly.

The room was dim - almost dark with thin champagne curtains drawn over plain glass windows. Only light came from the slight opening in the middle where Harry had dragged a chair and sat, looking out with his bawl of cereal on his lap. His bare feet was rested on the window sill and he looks almost thin sitting there. Noticing someone enter Harry just looks to his sideways but does not entirely turn. Louis moves closer, taking in the room as he goes. For the state of the other parts in the penthouse, the room looks almost underwhelming. With a plain, neat bed with champagne and white sheets to match the curtains, attached bathroom and wardrobe, the room looked almost small. There were dirty clothes and shoes here and there and some books laying around the floor.

The room did not at least have a balcony - why wasn't Harry in the master bedroom?   

Turning his head back, Harry takes a mouthful and starts chewing as if Louis being there did not matter to him at all. Louis steps closer and sits on the bed, facing Harry and the glass window. He clasps his hands and watches Harry take another spoonful, sticking his tongue out like always. He then starts chomping, ignoring Louis completely. Harry still ate like something's going to spill out from his mouth... Louis smiles to himself remembering teasing him for that constantly.

'Isn't it a bit too late for cereal? Almost past lunch time now'

Harry does not answer, but keeps his attention to his bowl of cereal and continues eating. His flowing hair was almost covering his face bur Louis could not help staring... the shoulders, line of his spine, the way his jaw works as he chews.

'Do you eat anything else at all or have you turned in to a cereal-o-coholic? I can order you something proper to eat you know?' Well Angela had told Louis that Jeff and Grimy takes Harry out for lunch, right? Surely he could fucking do the same maybe? He does not know why he feels irritated over it.

Scraping the last bits, Harry finishes the bawl and pushes it to the window sill. He sits back and sighs as if tired. 'Haz... shall I order something?'

Staring out of the window Harry just wipes his nose.

'I'm fu-ll no-w' He mumbles as if he almost didn't meant to say that.

Louis leans forward carefully. 'That's no proper lunch. I'll order you a salad or something.' Well Harry love those tasteless things right? even made gruesome looking smoothies with them.

'I ea-t ce-real whe n-ever I wa-nt.' Harry says his voice dull. Louis watches as he moves his toes as if to get rid of their numbness. 

'I know... I know... - Just thought.... well maybe tomorrow then, after your appointment with Dr. Sarvway. We can catch up with lunch.' Louis says slowly and carefully not knowing why he was feeling sort of a rejection.

He knew tomorrow was Harry's weekly appointment. Alex had mentioned it earlier and given him the schedules. According to Simon the doctor had already been informed that Louis will be accompanying him but the real question was whether Harry knew it or not... He could not just turn up in the doctors office... He did not want Harry to feel he is prying. So taking him to lunch seemed like a good way to put it in a way. 

For a moment Harry does not say anything so Louis assumes it's a yes...

 

'Alex is dri-ving me' then Harry suddenly says in the same dull tone, still facing the window. 'He al-ways does. Simon kno-ws'. 

It was as if he wanted to say no ... Louis thinks feeling slightly let-down. And the mention of Simon rattles him a bit. Why would it Matter to Louis what fucking Simon knows?

Was that a NO?  But then Harry does not say anything else.

'Yeah, well' Louis says with a nod, 'I'll come with you. T's not like I have anything else to do around here.' He says but almost regret saying that. He didn't want Harry to think that he was not here by choice. That he's here because Simon or management wanted him to. He is here by choice for god's sake. But Harry was acting as if Louis had just dropped in to check on him - like some messenger from the bloody management.

Harry does not say anything to that but just sighs deep as if he was tired. Didn't he just wake up though?

 

 'When did you wake up?' Louis asks then, ' You were asleep the whole morning' He says watching him from the back. Harry just shrugs without answering as if he had lost his voice and then gets his feet down from the window sill, straightening up in the chair a bit.

'Did you sleep alright?'

It was as if Harry can not hear the frequency range Louis was speaking. The silence drags for a moment without movement and Harry's expression seemed to turn even duller... Then he just gets up turning from the other way, not looking at Louis. Louis just watches him as he passes, wishing Harry would just look at him for once. But he does not... Harry only grips at the chair as if to steady himself. Louis considers helping him - following him maybe - he doesn't want to irritate Harry or overdo anything to make him feel uncomfortable, treating him like a kid though. But then,

'Why the fuck are you here?'

Harry's voice sounds somewhat a rough undertone and his tone is harsh as he steps towards the bathroom slightly lumbering. He does not look back as he walks and Louis watches his slumped lankly form from the back without a word as Harry shuts the door behind him, not wanting an answer.

 

 

 

Louis does not hang around for much later after that. He goes back to the hotel. Alex does not say anything or ask him anything of the encounter but he had a sort of a knowing expression which made Louis wanted to kick his face. Louis promises to return the next day around 9:00 am to go to the doctors and leaves the penthouse.

In the hotel, he finds Stan in the hotel pub sipping a beer.  Louis joins him wanting get his head off of everything for a bit.

'How's he?' Stan asks as Louis drops down to the couch next to him already sipping the cool calming liquid. Louis just nods wearily and Stan does not press. It was the best thing about Stan, that he would not poke if you are not ready to spill. That's the reason he had decided to bring Stan with him not Oliy, who thought it was his business to sort Louis' bloody problems for him  - often making a mess out of it... especially when it came to situations with Harry. Harry never got on well with Oliy anyway... not even when they were together, unlike Stan. Though Oliy worked as a personal manager to Louis, he knew it was a risk bringing him here if he mean to mend things with Harry... Stan in that way was the easy option. Louis hangs around with Stan and even plays pool with some lads who asks him if he is a guy from that famous pop band, the mid match to which he answers NO.

Rest of the day goes without an occasion until Liam phones him to check on him, and of course Harry. Louis tells him the most of it - how Harry had gone missing last night and how they found him pressed against a bloody stranger in the verge of panicking... he tells him how Harry had been here alone with Alex after doctors specifying Anne and Gemma to give him space - but he does not really reveal anything Alex told him about Anne's accident.

'Simon or not, I'm glad you decided to do this, Louis' Liam says in the end. 

He knew how hard Louis struggled coming to terms with the fact that Harry had left without a proper word to him - after all they have been through. After vigorously searching for him for months like a maniac Louis had finally found courage to accept the fact that it was not his decision to make or time to force it. But then Simon had happened to turn it all upside down for him - with photos of Harry and his condition. His family had been furious - including Jay, not to be mistaken, they all loved Harry and cared for him but they thought it would be like pouring alcohol on fire for Louis' condition to be dragged in to the drama again... in the end, it was not like Harry and Louis had been Harry&Louis  for years now. And their breakup and Louis' sudden change of character had alerted them to think that no matter how good they were for each other, the situations did not really add up to their favor.

'I'm glad you chose to do this for him... and yourself two' Liam says again and Louis just listens fighting an unnatural pricking sensation in his throat. If only Liam knew how hard it was for him to see Harry like this and face the detachment and rejection from him over and over again... But Louis does not utter a word about any of it. Liam makes him promise to call him if he needs anyone to talk to or if he want him to come down. Louis says yes just to the sound of it though he knew he had to figure this by himself. Liam had done enough already... tending to Harry and him both when they were at their lowest - and Louis wasn't going to ask him to do anymore.

The phone call ends making Louis feel slack and drained for some reason. He wants to get a long relaxing bath and jump in to the bed and sleep it off until tomorrow morning but after a long pensive of a bath he ends up driving back to the penthouse around 10.30 at night. Stan just nods when he tells him he's going back without any questions.

But when he arrives there, his brain fries with agitation to find no one there. He had been given a key card by Alex earlier so he types the pin and swipes the card after ringing the bell and knocking for several times. Louis finds the place empty and quiet. He walks around to the kitchen, master room, spare rooms, gym, pool and even finds an untouched small studio space but finds no sign of Harry or Alex.

Hoping to god it's not an emergency (surly Alex will inform him if it was the case right?) he drags his phone and dials Alex. And Alex only picks the phone after sixth or seventh ring. And as he does, all he could hear for a few seconds were a rhythmic sort of loud thumping - as in a club.

"H-LLOW" He hears Alex's unsure voice. The sound seem to go down a bit as Alex may have walked to a different area. "Louis?"

'WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU? WHERE'S HARRY?' he blasts, sound almost echoing around the house. 'ARE YOU IN A FUCKING CLUB?'

Alex remains silent for a second as if calculating how to put it in to words right. 'Harry wanted to go out... It's fine he's with me - a couple of tables away'

 

'- THE FUCK, ALEX! He almost got lost yesterday!!!' Louis yells as he couldn't even believe what he was hearing. How the bloody hell would someone allow him to go out after what happened? Is he freaking crazy? 'Where the hell is he? I'm coming there now!' he says fury reaching the limit. His head might actually blast in a second. He would go to wherever and drag him back from whoever he had allowed this time to run hands on his body. He is actually ready to walk out of the penthouse o do that.

'No, I don't think-'

'It's your fucking job to stop him from harm, Waters. Your fucking job! Not freaking let him get fucked when he barely can't manage to spend a day without panicking out and swallowing freaking pills. Tell me where it is. I'm driving there now!!!!'

Alex just lets out a long sigh. 'I drove him because otherwise he would have just driven out by himself anyway. You agitated him earlier and then you left... this is what you get for that, Tomlinson. You want to change that? then get the doctor to release his reports to you and read them before trying to tie him up in a place to stop him doing what he's doing. Get him to talk. I will bring him back in one to two hours - and I'll bring him in one piece. If you are not sure then call Simon or Gemma and ask them to explain. And if you can excuse me now I need to get back to Harry. Go back and get a good night's sleep I'll see you tomorrow!'

The line cuts leaving Louis boiling... He throws the damned phone to the couch with his might and kicks the ottoman in front of him.

 Call fucking Simon???!!! Simon??? to explain? He would freaking call and get Waters fired if anything! Was he just sitting there watching as Harry grinding up to strangers? was that what he was doing? Fucking dickhead. How dare he tell Louis to read the freaking report when he, Louis was there in the first place? He know what that retarded psycho and his dogs did... burning him and kicking him around. He was there... And yet they, Waters, Simon, Anne... even Harry was treating him as if he freaking didn't know?

Harry was fucking avoiding looking at his bloody face when he knew Louis saw him being tortured at their hands.

Is he scared?

Is he ashamed that Louis knew? saw?

Is that it?

Its that why he was avoiding him purposely?

Because he saw?

His head a mess, weary, Louis just gives up. His body gives up... He shouldn't have come here. Not to this penthouse, not to LA - Not to this fucking country!! Maybe he should have listened to his  mother. He's not strong enough to do this hide and seek game with Harry. He had never been. He cared for him too much, loved him too much, wanted him too much that it turned in to this unhealthy scarring mess once. Mess that scarred too deep that both of them could not even look at each others' faces until their careers demanded them to be platonic with each other... though Louis was not sure how true that was from Harry's side because he was the one who sighed a bloody contract, lying to Louis' face point blank.

 

By the time they finally come, it is past mid night.

Louis hears the swipe of the card and the creak of the door opening. He just sits there and waits listening to footsteps with a still boiling rage in his head.

Something stumbles then and there were muffled breathing... and ruffling sound of cloths.

'Ok, take it easy... both of you' He hears Alex's voice, stern but calm.

Someone giggles -

A girl maybe... giggles again..

Definitely a girl. And some breathy sounds.... and a slight thud.

More giggling.

'Ok ... Ok, come on' Alex sounds impatient this time.

Louis just waits, now facing the door from the couch, he feels hesitant and slightly uneasy for some reason.

Alex, with a formal black coat emerges in to the sitting area, ... and his eyes almost widens as he sees Louis there.

Well, did Alex actually think he'll go back without knowing Harry came back safe? Louis just stares at him and Alex just gazes back at him. He looks calm but his eyes builds in to a sort of a hesitation which then turns to an apologetic expression. Louis just glares back at him...  

As Louis was just about to demand to know where Harry is, two figures stumbles to the wall behind Alex.

Two bodies, wrapped in themselves from head to toe -

They were kissing...

 

They were kissing - with sloppy, wet, breathless sounds adding in ...  giggling as everything was tickling them.

Louis almost wanted to puke as the girl openly runs her petite hands along the long haired boy's back and bum, dragging him against her, pressing him to her. Their noises becomes louder as Louis gets up. The girl just pushes Harry with a squeak suddenly and laughs happy hoping to the well lit sitting area. Her eyes almost glistens as she steps in unsteadily looking around... her eyes pauses on Louis for a second before she turns around and looks at Harry who had followed her in with drunkenness seeping down his face.

Dressed in all black Harry looks pale and messy - as if they had been at it along the ride back. 

He avoids looking at Louis or anywhere near him. He stiffens though as he comes in.

'Some place you've got ...ere..' the girl screeches twirling around. Her messy hair was blond and she wore a - now askew-  sheer black dress with a low cut neck and silver tussles. She was carrying her black heels in her hands, ones which she absently drops on the floor with a thud.

'This is going to be ex-citing...right?'

She sways drunkenly and turns back to Harry who was now looking down. 'I don't mind a threesome you see...' She says eying back Louis who stares daggers at her. She smirks pressing Harry to the wall and runs her ringed hands inside his shirt-  starting to bite and nibble at his neck. Her sloppy tongue starts licking around his neck.

Harry does not utter a sound but neither was his eyes open. He just takes it, letting her do as she pleases, just clutching her lightly at her waist.

'It's best if you two can go to his room?' Alex says sparing a look from Louis to Harry, tone awkward and uneasy. Not that it makes and changes to anything happening beside him rather than a small groan from the girl. 

 

Louis glares at all three of them, settling his gaze at Alex who just stares blankly back at him as if it was all a bloody mistake. Neither of them says a word or blink to break the stare as Harry suddenly hisses gripping on to the blondes' dress as the girl cackles stupidly as it was some joke.

And it was all Louis could take in this hell's sight.

He picks up his phone and jacket and just stomps out, bumping to the side of smooching couple without much of an intention. The blonde screeches but he does not stop, does not look back. If more, he slams the door with an extra force and sound as he goes. He couldn't care less.

 

He drowns in the blissed numbness of drunkenness that night.

 

 .............................................

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 5. Spaces Between

 

 

 

Love is such a strange thing...

Intangible and immaterial yet physically bounding, bone to bone. 

They say love is like a bird... If you catch it, you need to let them go - let them fly, let it roam free... And i f it is truly yours, it will come back to you. It will return. If not, then it never really was yours to keep.

Personally, Louis thinks it is such a shit interpretation to love. A lazy generalized one for something so complex.

Well what if you let the fucking bird go and it got lost? What if the fucking thing could not find the way back to you even if it wanted to?

What if someone clipped its wings and chained it to a lamppost or something?

Or what if the prejudice got better and it became adamant to admit to the obvious, refusing to submit to the inevitable?

They say love is like a bird, but there isn't a single sensible point to make it true than it sounds good on your tongue.

No... Love, is not a fucking bird,... it is more like a bloody cockroach.

A cockroach that hides in the depths of your very soul and attack you in the most unexpected times. Even if you wanted to kill it, or others want to crush it, it will survive because it feeds on your very thoughts and smallest senses. It will suck them out of you little by little until it stings, leaving unwanted scars on your unmarred skin. It will hide and deceive you... pretending to be gone, but will startle your guts out flying at you when you  least expect it.

It shines in the deepest amber, almost near red for such a despised creature... but ever thought why cockroaches' blood is white? not vermilion as everybody else's?  well because it's heartless, cruel in the most vile way that it grows upon pain and heartache, making your skin crawl every time it walk on your skin when you have defied it of its glory. 

So there you go. Love is not a bird... Louis knows, it is a fucking cockroach.

 

.........................................................................................................

 

 

 

 

He does not go with Harry to his therapy session the next day.

Mainly because it is almost past ten when he wakes up. Even if he did wake up early, Louis was not too sure if he would be up for it in the first place - He did not know if he was strong or calm enough to look at Harry's face after yesterday to be honest. 

So he assumes Alex to have taken him to the doctor like he always do, as Harry had told him.

His head aching, Louis gets up from the bed with his eyes painfully adjusting to the light. Someone had drawn the bloody curtains open. He had a fucking headache thanks to the amount of whiskey he had downed last night. Looking at himself now, he realizes that he is wearing his gray pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt which he for the life of him could not remember putting on.

He staggers to the lounge where he finds Stan in the table near the window reading the morning paper. Stan does not look up at Louis, too drawn in his reading - Or his crosswords puzzle or some shit like that. He had ordered breakfast though for both of them by the looks of it - well late breakfast, brunch - sort of.... Louis sits down silently across him and runs his fingers through his own greasy hair. Events of last night was poking his already paining head. Harry with that blond harpy wrapped around him...

Would  have Harry really had that girl yesterday after he left?

Did he really fuck her? well... it's not like he brought her in to scratch his bloody back right? And from the way she was having her way with him, like she had won some fucking lottery ...-

'Louis...'

Louis opens his eyes up at Stan, slowly unclenching his grip on his own hair. Stan looks at him as if studying him...  there was sort of a knowingness in Stan's eyes... something that makes him think that Stan knows  his trauma even without telling him anything. Louis sighs deep as if he was tired of breathing.

'Are you OK?' Stan asks this time.

It was more of a inward question - Louis knows. Stan rarely asks him that. He knows Louis hates the very sound of that question when he's upset, because it is such a impersonal, false question to ask when someone's really upset. Something asked as a filler- with less concern for the person... because you know that it's not OK. It's a  generalized question with a general false answer. Louis hates the question and Stan knows Louis hates to be asked it. So Stan rarely asks him that. And when he does, it's in the shittiest times...And he asks that when Louis can't generalize at all. So Louis knows that he's asking already knowing that he's not. It is more of an open invitation to talk, if Louis prefers to talk- to spill.

'He's fucking pretending that I'm transparent... as if I don't bloody exist'

'Hardly the first time,' Stan says, 'You know that'

Louis just stares at Stan.

'Give him time, Louis. He's been here for months and we only just came her-'

'He brought  girl with him yesterday' Louis cuts in and he is surprised at how dull his voice sounds when he says it. He starts picking a splinter in the wooden table.

Stan's brows slightly raises.

'... I was just waiting for Alex to fucking get him back safe ... He's strutting around clubs and pubs like...' he shakes his head smiling bitterly, wiping his face off the strings of hair. 'Everybody thinks he'll magically come to himself when he sees me - Fucking Simon, Magee... Waters... even Liam ..., Liam thinks that I can somehow save him from god knows what and bring him to his normal self - but Harry freaks out when he looks at me ... I - I - I don't... he's barely looks at my face... he can't seem to look at me... I honestly don't know what the fuck I am doing here... why the hell I came here. Should've listened to mom... she freaking told me this is a bad idea.'

Stan crosses his hands on his chest and looks out of the window, letting Louis to arch his neck back and stretch to cover up the overwhelming feeling that swirls through him. 'Why did I fucking come?' he mumbles again more to him self that to Stan.

'Then why don't you go back?' Stan asks still eyes staring out of the window.

Louis remains silent looking at Stan, he lets out a sigh. Pressing his lips Stan looks at him.

'Do you know why you don't want to go back?'

Stan asks his tone steady and clear while Louis kept staring at him blankly.

"You don't want to go back because you want him. Because you want him to come back to you. You want him to talk to you... in on whatever he's keeping. People can expect millions of things, Louis, but you are a one person. You went through things you shouldn't have... and so did he. You bounced back from it but he's still there. You are just freaking out because you saw him with a girl... I know you are stressed but getting worked out won't help you with Harry. This is not about you, Louis. This is about Harry...You know that yourself. That's why you didn't want Oliy to come... because he reels you up and Harry as well. Not Liam because then he'll jump in and try to sort it out for you two... And you were scared that Harry would lean on to him the moment he sees him as same as he did in the hospital...' Louis stares at Stan not uttering a word. 'You asked me to come because you know Harry... because  you knew how he is going to react. I'm here because you needed someone to remind you that... nothing else."

Stan sighs leaning back in his chair and looking at Louis steadily. "So here I am doing that now...Ok? You need to calm down - I know patience in not your thing but it might be the only thing that works with him right now.'

Louis just listens, feeling edgy to the core. He tries to find the freaking patience in his head but he could not even breath steadily. Closing his eyes shut he arches slightly back again. He knows Stan is right... word to word. But he does not feel any difference listening to it. Feeling of Harry running away from him was poison to his mind and he knew it made him go crazy ... even after everything.

 'You should've stayed in the penthouse' Stan says then getting up. He folds the paper and rolls it in his hand. 'He'll get used to you being around'

Louis scoffs "He'll freak out if I suddenly dropped in with suitcases"

'Let him... A little shock might actually help, don't you think? If anything, you two need to sort your shit together.'

Louis stares at Stan in thought... maybe he has a point.

Alex had asked him to stay many times but he was just reluctant to break in to Harry's comfort zone as he owned it. But between the hotel and the penthouse, he was nowhere near Harry. He was just an alien in a fucking ship. If he moved there, he could be around Harry more... could push him to his treatments more. And if Harry wants to pick up girls to fend his heat off... fine, he'll freaking choose them for him. He thinks helping himself to a Yorkshire tea as Stan taps Louis head with the rolled morning paper in his hand, walking away, leaving him to it.

 

Louis does not waste much time to pack.

It's not as if he had big bags anyway, just his hand luggage and his backpack. He had a habit of picking and buying stuff as he went. When they were still togetherHarry used to call him out for it when they were going out, calling him  a typical lazy teenager brat and scold him... one of few situations Harry felt that he needed to take over and boss louis around, he remembers how Harry took it upon himself to pack Louis bags when they were touring that time. But for the past years he had gotten used to not packing at all. And El loved shopping, so she did not mind or complain like Harry did or call him out for his laziness. So typically it does not take much long for him to pack the few stuff in his two bags - throwing them in without much care.

Within an hour of a time he was standing in the elevator up to the penthouse. He had simply texted Alex telling him that he is coming over, a curt short massage enough to express he is still not over yesterdays stunt.

 Alex almost raises his eyes as he sees Louis with his small suitcase and backpack - his gaze running over each of the two bags he was carrying. He does not ask much or comment - maybe hesitant to agitate Louis.  And he acts almost formal - as if he was welcoming Louis to the penthouse for the first time.

He takes Louis to the Master bedroom - which is spacious, finely furnished with its own sitting arena and a marble bathroom with a Jacuzzi. Its wide glass windows opened in to a fine balcony, overlooking the skyline - it looked like a little sky lounge with the seating. Louis wonders why Harry had chosen the small guest room instead of this little heaven - Harry he knew loved to live in style, ironically.

Louis drops his bags near the wardrobe and turns to Alex who still stood by the door.

"Did he go to the doctors?" He manages a casual tone despite of his need to lash out at him.

Alex simply nods. "Yeah"

"Is he in his room?"

"He's in the gym... Usually goes there after sessions."

Louis stares at Alex. "Is he well enough? I mean... he's..."

 " He'll be fine. Ted is there, his trainer"

 Louis nods biting his lip inside. Usually goes there after sessions...?

 

Louis knew what it means in a way.

You see, Harry was never a working out, gym kind of a guy. Not in the beginning... not when they met. He hated working out if anything and he was shit at sports. But he sort of found a weird resolution in working muscle in to sweating when things got tough. In their time together, when they fought or when they had issues, it became a thing that Louis would often find him in the gym, sweating and driving himself to limits. Maybe he got that off from his crew members, the guards he got closer to, Louis would never know. But it was thing he got used to little by little... in away Louis thought it was how Harry expressed himself when he did not have words... how he told Louis that he was upset... And after they broke up, it became something more regular and more frequent - Louis remembers getting furious at Harry, thinking Harry was doing it intentionally to get his attention, reel him up, to agitate him... to confuse him. They even had fights because of that but Harry never gave it up... he continued with it. And as time went Louis learned to look away, leaving Harry to dance off to whatever he wanted... Well it was not as he was doing drugs - as Liam pointed out, Louis was just being obnoxious. But whatever went around, it sort of became a regular thing for Harry... and they all considered it as a part of Harry being a health nut and body obsessed. Harry did not mind them teasing him either, for him it became more of a habit, working out, spending time alone in the gym. Even Louis sometimes joined with jokes about it with boys, but inwardly he always wondered. 

 

Louis opens the closet and stares inside, wanting to come off the memories. The empty cupboard smells fresh and new... and it looks far too spacious for the little number of cloths he had in his bags.

"Let me know your sizes... I'll arrange the team to pick you some stuff"  Alex says as if he knew what Louis' head was going about. 

'Yeah, thanks" He mumbles dismissively. But looking up he still sees Alex with a different demeanor...somewhat tensed ... Well that was a first. He didn't know the guy had any emotions, he thinks ironically.

But he knew what is coming,

"... about yesterday..." Alex starts,

And no Louis shouldn't go there. He doesn't want to end up punching Alex on his face,  "I don't want to talk about it"

But Alex continues as if he didn't hear him "Harry's not -... he trying to deal with somethings the way he can. He's struggling with it and if he doesn't let it out someway... "

Louis just sighs to that "Look, I don't want you to defend him, alright? It's not like he's not allowed to do whatever he wants. I know how he is."

"He's trying, but he gets off the road sometimes. We just need to let him be... what matters more is his safety" Alex says grimly this time as if he needs Louis' word on it.

Louis shakes his head "I don't need an explanation from you for why he want to fuck or get fucked. I've known him long enough. And as far as I'm concerned, I just want him to get well, that's it"

Alex eyes him for a second  uncertain. "fine then" he nods as if he let him make his decision.

See Louis is no fool. He know what Alex is trying to imply. This is not the first time Harry came in with a girl and neither it will be the last. Harry was far off picking birds in clubs and fucking them in his own bed to fend whatever than getting lost in some random stranger's bed where they had no control over. At least this way they knew where he is or who he is with - never mind how thrashed and fucked up him or his leftovers with Louis was going to get.

It is not like this is the first time Louis had seen this happening anyway. Harry had been doing this since their break up, it was nothing new to him.  He had seen it happening over and over...  What is fucked up now though is that Louis now knew that he might have been doing this out of bitterness. Out of desperation... And everyone had let him ... Simon, Magee... even Paul. And it was this very situation that had got him involved with Danny Ray in the first place... and lead him to the fiasco with Nickles bloody Moth. And after all of this, he was still doing it as if he had not been able to stop. And no matter how hard Louis tried to reason it out, calculate in Harry's favor for why he kept doing this, he fails to wrap the facts around his head... He could not stop tensing up whenever the yesterday's image came to his head.

But the worst of all of it is that now, he, Louis, is ready to let him do it after everything.

 

 

.....................................................................................................................

 

 

 

 

 

It is at lunch that he sees Harry. 

Louis had taken to him to order lunch for all three of them. Chinese... because Louis knew Harry loved Chinese.

And later he will go and pick some snacks and yogurt and stuff - and coco pops of course. They need a X-box, FIFA and some damn movies. If he is going to live here, he is going to make this bloody habitable - to his way.

He opens the boxes of food and places the plates as Alex walks in, with Harry tagging behind with an irritated face. Louis had threatened Alex to drag Harry out of that damn room physically if he did not manage to lure him out of his den when he told him that Harry normally had lunch in his room.

Alex directs Harry to a chair and he just sits -  not blinking an eye at Louis.

They sit and start eating quietly, only the sound of forks and chop sticks clattering... An awkward silence kept brimming and Louis could hardly bear the ill sound of silence in the middle of the fucking day. He watches as Harry eats, one hand on his lap - under the table - leaned over his plate as if he could not see what he was eating otherwise.

He's tensed.

He slowly picks on it using the chopsticks as extended fingers - but eats as well... slowly, taking his time. Harry had always been perfect with chop sticks... where Louis had been utter crap at it. He could not hold pieces of food between the bloody sticks for the life of him, no matter how hard Harry or El tried to get him  to do it. Why waste your time when you have proper cutlery like forks and knives anyway...?

 But Louis keeps watching as Harry works his chopsticks as if he found something fascinating after a long time... 

" Is the food OK?"

Harry does not look up or give any sign he heard. "Haz?"

He just shrugs then, still eyes on his plate.

"I thought you still loved Chinese. Is it OK or do you not like it?"

" "t's fine" comes the much unenthusiastic reply.

Alex spares a quick glance on Louis but does not say anything.

"I'm making tea. Do you need some?"

"Okey" Harry hums

Yorkshire or anything else? there's herbal...' Louis asks getting up. He feels utterly full.

"Dunno"

"You like herbal ones, right? I'll make you a herbal"

Harry doesn't say anything for that. Louis keeps staring at him without moving for a moment.

"Harry" he says again hesitant and Harry looks up at him, pausing his chewing... His greens bores in to Louis for the first time. "I'll make tea, but we are going to drink it here like normal people, Ok? I want to talk." He says gruffly "Alex do you need any?"

"No Thanks, I'm fine" Alex also gets up picking his empty plate, leaving only Harry sitting at the table . "I have to get some work done, give me a shout if you want to step out or something. I'll be in my room" Harry does not say a word but goes back to his eating. Alex leaves after washing his plate, letting Louis make the teas in peace.

Harry doesn't take much time  after - maybe throwing half of what was in his plate to the trash along with the empty boxes, thinking Louis didn't see . He collects the leftovers to boxes and leaves them on the kitchentop beside the fridge without putting it in and wipes the table as Louis brings the two steaming mugs of tea.

"Sit" Louis says mildly taking a seat himself. Harry does not look at him, goes back to the sink and puts away the wiping rag. He washes his hands before returning back to Louis, to his chair.

Tension was brimming in Louis' head as his mind flashes him the memories of last night. He did not want to look at Harry too close to notice any love bites as such even accidently, knowing that it might to make him loose it... but in the end he just clears his throat trying o look at Harry casually.

"How's the session go today?" He asks lightly as he sips on the cup.

"Fine" Harry says shortly in a dull voice, wrapping one of his hands around the burning mug. He looks sideways.

 

"I'm sorry I didn't come as I promised" Louie says and Harry just shrugs as he didn't care. " Yesterday... I didn't..." Louis hesitates looking up at his face. He wanted Harry to show some guilt or at least an awkwardness... but it never comes. Louis knew he was being ridiculous in a way. No matter how much he cared about Harry, they are not together - no mater how much Louis wanted, not yet at least until Harry decides to admit it himself and stop playing this game. Louis does not know why he want to confess but he feels like he owe Harry an explanation. "I didn't meant to get worked up but emm... I ... I got upset ... not upset... just -" Louis stammers as Harry keeps staring at the table now.

"-just... it got better of me and umm... I - Sorry I didn't come" he admits truthfully.

Still nothing. Not even a shade of guilt or a hint of a feeling - nothing at all. 

Louis stares at him directly, sitting only a few inches away...

His loose dark curls flowing artfully down his shoulders, sharp jawline, large green eyes ... his firm poised nose and fleshy pouty lips, perfectly shaped and sinful... he is a work of art. A fucking lost work of art. This beautiful boy was his once... he was his before all this.

He knew pressing him would make things harder but he couldn't resist himself. Taking his hand out Louis slowly reaches him... placing his hand on Harry's wrist and thumb. "Haz..."

Harry almost fidgets as if he got burnt... Louis could physically feel his hand tremble before Harry draws it back, resting it on his lap under the table like earlier.

"Ummm... is... is everyone good?"  Harry suddenly asks as if to cover up his panic but his edgy voice does not help. He wipes his face as it was itching... "Back home... I mean umm ...N- Niall, Zayn and-"

"Good-  they are all good" he nods looking away.

He decides to not to say anything, letting Harry collect himself. Something tells him to go slow, be gentle with him or he'll break. '... waiting to see you" Louis leans front but careful not to touch. "They are waiting for you to get better... and I - I want you to get better as well, Harry" he says looking at him.

"I'm not sick" Harry says flatly looking at Louis for a second, irritation clear in his tone. "I'm fine" he adds, voice turning dull. "You can tell that to Simon and Magee"

Louis sighs. "Harry"

"What? You think I don't know that they sent you?" Harry glares at him, eyes suddenly near murderous.

 

"They told me where you fucking are! You disappeared leaving me a FUCKING MISERABLE NOTE!!! I had no clue what to do! Do you know how much I tried to fucking find you??? Do you know how many times I came to LA??? Do you  have any idea? And I come here and you- "

Louis scoffs. He knew he shouldn't get worked up. He should stop... But he was loosing it... he didn't want to. But,

"You left me, Harry! You left me when I was the only bloody person who was there with you! I went for therapy for six bloody months before I felt normal... and I had people around me to help. So yes, Simon fucking told me where you are but it is my fucking decision to come! I'm here because I want to... and I'm going to help you to get through this if you like it or not!"

Louis's voice was loud and harsh. He was angry. He realizes that he had gotten up at some point and Harry was still seated. 

'Guess you'll have to get used to me around' Louis says firmly calmly this time... wiping  his moist eyes gruffly, looking away from Harry who looked furious as well. His head was swarming with determination and sheer grit. He is going to get them through this, he thinks watching Harry grip on his mug.

Louis sighs looking at his stiff form.

"Are you done talking?" Harry asks his gaze now on the table again. His face looks dull but his voice trembles as on edge.

"I moved in" Louis simply says then. He doesn't know if Alex had already told Harry but Louis felt he had to tell him, officially. Well this is his place in a way.

Harry looks at him flushed... stares at him as if he was about to pounce. Louis is almost sure he'll at least throw the hot tea mug at him. He almost steps back as Harry gets up. But then Harry just leaves... he leaves without sparing Louis another word or a glance.

A door slams after a while with a echo in the penthouse.

Louis knew what's happening. He could understand because he had been there just months ago.

He hated going to his doctor and letting everything spill... let him prod and poke his head around. He hated doctors anyway - the emotionless - we have seen this and we know what you are going through so contain it because people have gone through worse type - He fucking hated them. (no offence to his mother) Harry's doctor might have his reports but he doesn't know him. And he does not know what he went through. But Louis knows that doctors could help Harry, if Harry lets them. Therapy is a long hard process. And it needed both parties participating - therapist and the patient.

Louis knew Harry is struggling. He could see it by just looking at him - the drastic change in his personae from what he was to what he is now. Harry did need help ... anyone could see that. But Harry is not going to make this any easy, does he?

And no, he does not. Not even a bit.

 

 

Harry does not come out of the room for the rest of the day, making it almost tempting for Louis to just barge in. He does not of course. True to his word to Alex, he lets Harry be, going about him own business.  But Harry has different ideas... ones that Louis would not be a direct part of course.

Around 11 Harry gets Alex to drive him out, dressed uncanny and sleek as always. He only spares a moments' glance under his brows at Louis as if to daring him to stop him...

Louis almost wanted to. But he does not

He starts playing x-box like it was the most normal thing.

But he regrets it later when Harry arrives home after an hour or so,- waist to waist with a brunette this time. A petite, star eyed girl which closely reminds him of El.  Alex does not stop and wait for the two to muck around like yesterday, just walks away to his room as if he was furious... leaving Louis to deal with it.

And Louis does - pulling up his headphones and increasing the volume of his X-box. He does not know how long the two hangs there behind him smooching and panting like the house was running out of oxygen. He only removes his heads when he was sure they had gone to Harry's room.

He feels so angry at the disregard that he wish he could crash in to the fucking room and slap Harry across his stupid pale face... and kick the naïve girl out.

But he does not...

Alex had taken the word out of him to not to act on this rashly. But it does not make it any easy to just sit there, pretending to play Xbox. Is Harry doing this as a show? Is he trying to reel him up and make him go?  he wonders.  Louis bloody well know these girls knew who Harry is. Fucking hell they knew who he is!! Is Alex bloody paying them to stay silent afterwards or are they signing some sort of truce to stay silent? How much money is Simon spending to cover these up? How much effort? Alex had said that it's Harry's way of coping, which meant indirectly that Harry had been fucking around all this time. Well of course he knew that with pictures Simon had shown him. But, no it does not make it any easier to endure.

Was it after Anne and Gemma left?

Did they know about this at all?

 

Louis barely sleeps that night, no matter how comfortable the plush bed is in his room - he think he could hear everything going on in Harry's room... he imagines it.

Moaning, panting and fucking... the noises of pleasure and high along with the sound of his tearing heart.

Tossing around the bed near morning, he decides that he would meet up with Harry's doctor in the next session.

 

 

 

Louis does not come out in the morning to torment himself with the sight of Harry the next day... and of course not with the girl. He avoids him until dinner where three of them eats in silence. He acts civil with Alex  and ignores Harry completely, hoping he will get the bloody message.

Only he does not.

Harry keeps getting Alex drive him out, randomly and frequently... if Alex refused, he would simply get another guard to drive him.

They does... knowing that if they did not, he'll drive out anyway... by himself.  

Harry would sometimes come back drunk and swaying, moodily alone. Or he would sometimes stagger in with a girl, dragging her along to his room. And when that happens, Louis stays in his room the next day - trying to send his message loud and clear. Not that it changes anything much than Harry trying to keep away from him a bit more.

Well, Harry  has until Wednesday to bring on whatever he wants... Louis thinks - he is going to talk to his doctor and put a bloody stop to this drama no matter what Alex or Simon thinks. This madness had to stop, even if it meant Harry raging on him like a maniac. 

See if Louis care. Just wait till he gets to it.

 

Days pass with same circles with Harry's stunts, only difference being Jeff Azoff  and Grimy dropping in to see Harry, several times-  separately of course, though Louis had a feeling Jeff and Grimy knew each other well enough. Grimy manages to drag Harry out for lunch - making Louis want to squash him in to pieces. He avoids him with a casual uninterested 'hey' as Grimy greets him with a fake excitement as if he wanted to invite him to their pathetic lunch out. (thanks but fucking no thanks)

Jeff or Jeffory Azoff was another matter itself. There was no reason or no base for Louis to not like him - personally, Louis thinks they would get along just fine, if met in other circumstances. But he did not really appreciate his whispered conversations with Harry ... It seemed Jeff was the one who talked most of the time and Harry listened... about what, Louis had no clue. Surely the Ass-offs did not know about the truth, right? - it was too much of a secret to spill to someone came from a family like him, with too much links to industry. Surely Harry would not talk about any of it with him.... because then Louis would have known. They were close friends before the whole incident, Harry and Jeff... Louis knew. But Louis did not appreciate the whole situation at all.

Louis decidedly avoids both of them after the first few times... needing to keep his sanity from everything... until the end of the week.

 

 But then Saturday marks another mess, because  Harry does not come with a girl... he comes with a plural of them - a fucking army of harpies and twinks as if to have a freaking show party. Harry is shit drunk and so were most of them... They were laughing and screeching, wrapping their bodies around him.

Not that Louis hadn't been in frat parties and crazy wild nights... he had for gods sake... he had been to them in his wild high school days... but this - this felt everything wrong and pathetic due to the real condition Harry was in. The real reason he was doing this fucked up drama with his sex crazed head.

Louis want to crash and burn the very fucking couch they had launched themselves on... he wanted to drag them one by one and throw them all of out of the fucking glass window with the skyline - including Harry. But he does not... He just watches,... for Harry's sake. For both of their sakes...

He watches them emptily, pushing down the anger, fury and tensed emotions that scrapes his head.

He only hangs around until  three of the girls start crawling on to Harry lap - running their sleazy hands under his shirt and sucking at his skin.

He leaves letting Alex and the guards handle whatever the fuck for however long.

Because he, Louis was slowly reaching the limit he could endure.

 

 

..................................................................

 

 

 

In London

 

Driving in to the French styled garden, Eric Serepisos stops his silver BMW next to the black SUV parked in the dark.

The dim light emanating from a ornate lampshade a bit further was the only source for vision around. Keeping the engine running, he lowers the shutter half to the still closed, tinted window of the SUV. He sighs sitting back for a moment until the shutter finally draws down, revealing a man with black shades in the passenger seat. The diving seat next to him was empty.

"Still in the trench court, Eric... no changes, I see" the man smirks dully, authority sparkling behind the tone

"Old habits die hard" he says calmly despite the hesitance he feels inside. But he knew the man would not attempt anything, not here

"Speaking of habits,... you almost lost me my goose" The man hums eyes ahead, "Clearly pacts go cracked once the money shines"

Eric bites his lip, hesitating, "It's just business, Simon. Nothing personal"

"Is it, now?" man says dryly "I've heard different"

"I'm a middle man, you of all know that" Eric grips the leather steering wheel, he knows where this is going.

"Didn't hear about your cocky brother for a long time. Is he still in London?"

Eric remains silent, knowing it would be foolish to say anything. Fucking shit he had to cover up for his lunatic brother...

 

"Is he?"

"He won't try anything. I'll make sure" Eric musters the most convincing he could as he blurts the words.

 

The man in the SUV sighs wearily, "I run a business, Eric - not a high school drama club or a asylum for nutters. I don't waste time on shit! And your word means as good as shit to me" there was no anger, no hype to the tone.. it was as if he was jut stating a fact. And Eric knew he was as he kept going. "Party starts within a month... and if he tries to come near him or any of them again, he would not be the only one to smell red in a junk yard with some bullets digging in, hope that's clear enough for your ray bans." The man finally turns to him, directly eyeing him through the black glasses and Eric knows he means no shit. The man curls a smile and it was Eric's cue to leave - end of the conversation... but for the length of time he had been in this industry brokering between the power houses of money and monopoly, he knew he could not leave it at this. Falling in to industry mogul's black book marks the counting of his days in business, his account, fucking bank card.

No he had to give something to get his hook on again.

 

He releases the hand break but does not set the motion yet. "I'm sure you have secured the ends on their behalf, sir, but I won't trust the goose so much if I were you - in case it starts laying eggs for some other." He says with a slight edge as the man just smiles, clearly thinking it was just bluff. Eric opens the side compartment near his foot and picks the data stick out of it, staring back at the man with a grim faith.

"Nicky can be a little too enthusiastic in his ways but the boy spilled his stash when he shook him around the corners. You can see for yourself." he says bringing the data stick up for the man to see. The face has no smile now as Eric holds out the tiny USB for the man to take, which he does.

 

As he drives away seconds later, Eric feels much calmer for the real... The lunatic brother had at least done something right for once in-between the fucking lunacy.

He thinks...  

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

****Please read the last two parts of the previous chapter if possible cz there are stuff added to it which connects the dots in the story********

Imagine Dragons' Demons cover by  "sam tsui and max Schneider" is best to set the tone for this chapter - And this Larry video just draws the image

 

                            

                                

 

6. Don't Get Too Close - It Is Dark Inside

(Title Inspired by Imagine Dragons' Demons)

 

 

 

 Bad situations are never really fun to be in...

When you are in a one, it feels as if it is never ending.

Time moves slower and your head becomes messier, wrapping it around absolute nonsense and paranoia hits the deck like raging waves threatening to smash the wooden logs. It sucks... big time!.

Anything you do would reel it up... Every step you take seem like some bad mistake. Every word you say, every move you make seem to turn on you... betraying your mere existence, dragging you deeper and deeper in to darkness.

 

 

...........................................................

 

 

  

 

Louis does not think things could get any bad.

Watching Harry thrash his own self as if it did not matter anymore... And him being unable to say or do anything about it because there is a black hole of awkwardness between them - a black hole of hurt, rejection, regret and piles of so much unsaid - rendering them to fucked up strangers.

Yes... that was what they had become - strangers...

Harry was an open book when he was younger. His dimples sparkled when he was happy, he would cry when he's sad and pout when he did not get his way... blushed when shy and scowl when he got mad. Even in later years when they were not together, Louis could still grasp Harry's moves... looking at his face when he, Louis was calm enough to do so - and as could Harry... he knew.  It was their connection, bond that remained hidden underneath.

But now, Louis did not know what went in Harry head anymore... he could not even guess for the life of him. All he could do was just watch Harry flaunting around with his bronze curls, disturbed sad green eyes and blank but perfect face as if everything was fine under his fake toughness, often accompanied by nameless label clad affluents. 

Louis felt as if he was some silent witness to the plastered existence Harry was putting up front. Nothing more... nothing important. Something was burning down inside of him, making it harder to watch this Harry each passing moment. Disappointment and anger twerking him on sides because his guts were suggesting that this show Harry was putting up is a dig at him, Louis' stubborn decision to dismiss Harry's note from the freaking hospital - to come and find him...

Of course Louis loved with him... loved him like a fucking turtle dropped in to the water  - loved him most ardently as same as he loved him when he was eighteen and stupidly naïve... and he was still not ready to believe it is too late for them,  though sometimes his fearful heart pinched his gut with edging thoughts. Uncertain, choking thoughts which tainted him like a plague. And it was  driving Louis crazy... keep dragging him to a bottomless dark place - because he feels helpless.

Helpless - because instead of warmth and adoration, his thoughts swirls with silence, weariness and hurt in front of Harry's mere presence. It scares him... almost tears him to pieces but he knew he had no one but Harry to blame for that... Harry with his crushing green eyes and curly doll hair... Harry and his uncured demons.

It is truly a dark place to be...

How could it get any bad than that? It could not get any bad.

 

But it does... It gets worse.

 

 

Sunday night, because he could not get his head around the tearing silence anymore, Louis goes to James'.

James Corden had been one of the very few people who knew about the truth about the so called accident - outside of Modest inner circle. Mainly because Louis had told him out of desperation in one of his many visits to LA looking for Harry months back - when Corden in the end demanded him to tell him why he was running around in LA like a mad dog who had lost it's pup. Not that Louis let him in with much details, but James, being the friend he is, had been furious... and had called Magee and demanded to let Louis know of Harry's whereabouts without agitating him in his situation, which ended Louis being called out in the Modest meeting room for letting the things that should remain silent, spill.

Louis had called James before landing in US soil and he had phoned him several times after, seeking for company because Louis had now let Stan go back to London.  James had been the victim to Louis' occasional peevish ramblings, complaints, one sided arguments and bursting justifications on Harry's  seemingly never-ending stunts. In the other way, it seemed only fair that Louis had his own someone to talk to when Harry seemed snuggle in to Jeff Assoff and Grimy occasionally, both whom Louis avoided intently by leaving the house when he knew they were coming. He would go to Cordon residence and busy himself alone  in  FIFA or drag James in to it as well under fake scowls of his wife.  

And as if they had not had enough of him lurking around , James and his wife had invited him in for dinner on Sunday, requesting to bring Harry with him if possible- already knowing it was far fetched. Louis goes anyway, alone - wanting to get out of his dark place at least for a night... away from Harry, away from Alex and away from the  bloody penthouse and its sophisticated and fine interiors. 

He spends some quality time of brooding, drinking, singing and complaining with James and his wife until very late.

It had felt good, letting his misery out for the night. 

 

When he returns to the  penthouse on Monday morning, he feels far better than when he left. Head much lighter and body much looser, having being able to let his frustrations out. It always felt good to talk to James because he had such a carefree aura about him which seemed to calm situations like this... at least temporarily. 

But Louis' temporary resolution was far short lived than he expects.

Because as he swipes the card and opens the door, he smells freaking disaster.

Disaster... because the very voice he hears as he enters, is non other than Simons'.

Simon fucking Cowell's.

 

Louis holts on his feet, feeling his insides turning upside down.

What the hell was Simon doing here? He could not even fathom the thought of seeing the man, not here ... not now. Louis did not know what to do... Hiding his irritation was never something he was much good at. Especially not when it was poking his head with sharp pinheads. But the last thing he wanted was to show Simon a hint of turmoil... he would rather run than to let Simon know of his distress... But he knew it was out of the question now.

Freaking Alex could have let him know... right? Was sending a bloody text with 'Simon's here'  too much to ask? The son of a bitch could have warned him!!!

But... why the fuck is Simon here though? He promised to let them be until the end of the year... until their break. Simon fucking promised him that when he shipped Louis here.  Had he fucking changed his mind? Is he here for Harry? No... Hell... No. Louis would not let Simon drag Harry to somewhere else, swear to god.

Louis steps in to the living area, trying not to look pale and murderous... head running cold.

 

He catches Simon sat on the couch, typically owning it - with leather bound folder sitting next to him - his very demeanour sparking stiff authority and business...  Alex looks rather formal, one leg crossed over the other ... leaned back to hold posture and face stoic as if nothing could really effect him as he converses with Simon - as if he was just reading a boring evidence report to his team. 

But what takes most of Louis' attention is Harry, who just sits there... as if he's not there.

Shoulders slouched, head bowed and  hands on his lap - he does not look up at Louis as he enters, unlike the other two. Louis almost feels concerned, seeing him like that despite the weariness and heartache the boy had been force-feeding him in to.  

 

"Simon," Louis says curtly with a mere nod as Simon eyes him. He sits next to Alex ignoring the judgmental stare in front of him.

"Glad you could join us finally, Louis. Guess James is well." Simon says spikily without a smile as he rests his arm on the  back rest and taps his fingers on the leather - displeasure shooting from his glance at Louis.

Louis tries to tolerate.

"Glad you could drop by... what's the catch?" he asks as sweetly as he could manage. 

Simon just glares.

"Nothing particular... just checking up. Dr. Sawrey sent me Harry's report on Friday - I'm glad we are making good progress." Simon says his face impassive though his voice sings sarcasm. "I'm thinking that I can get the teams to back down now since you are here to look after him"

Louis spares a moment's side gaze at Harry, biting his chin inside - not only for the irony aimed at him but because Harry is right in front of Simon.

Are they really doing this as if Harry's just not here? or as if he had suddenly turned deaf? Discussing him as if he is some sort of a casefile? Was that what Simon and Alex had been doing before he came? discussing him? No wonder Harry is withdrawn and distant. Louis remembers the fury in Harry's face some days back when the topic of Simon came up... the way he accused him bitterly of working for Simon and the management.  Why in the world is Harry even here though? ... didn't he spend the bloody time cramping himself in his room, planning his bloody night outs to reel up Louis?

 

"I'm glad we took this decision anyway because it's good for him to have some company rather than pushing alone. Anne was a bit reluctant in the beginning when I told her but she understood that this is for the best." Simon says as if to Harry than anyone else. But Harry seemed to completely unaware that Simon even spoke. He just stares at his hands glumly, his form still slouch and weary. 

Beside Louis , Alex shifts, his face grim. Louis just pushes back in the chair crossing his arms over his chest, wanting nothing but to punch Simons' face. He glares with a scowl as Simon's eyes lands on him.

"We are doing this off the books, Louis. There's a good chance that Harry can benefit more if there's a bit of help from outside. Even he knows that... right, Harry?" Simon looks at Harry again as if he needed some confirmation from him, but as same as before Harry does not respond. He looks more distracted than anything as he suddenly and absently rubs his neck with stiff fingers.

Seriously, why the fuck is Harry here? Simon could have cornered him alone if he wanted to take a dig at Louis... hell he could have just phoned him or flown him back to London. Alex had forbidden Louis to  turn so much as an accusing eye at Harry, no matter what he did. What about Simon then? 

Was it fine for the boss to chokehold him while spitting on Louis?

 

"I know we are in a rush here. That's why Harry's sessions are the most important - I mean, making it work." Simon pauses as calculating his own words... "Doesn't mean you two can take it easy and relax." he says then casually, face changed in to something milder as if had taken on pity after his dig. But it comes twisted than anything else.

Louis just stares at him.

"I have told Agent Waters to assist you with anything." He nudges his head at Alex who had been a silent witness to the whole exchange since Louis appeared.  "Go out - lunch, dinner ... Harry's thorough with some good restaurants around here. It'll be good to get out once in a while." Simon keeps going as if he had granted them some sort of a shining privilege and Louis just listens unblinking, because there was nothing else he could do... not here, not in front of Harry. "And this place has a very resourceful studio. Maybe you two can make some use of it. Nothing goes to waste...for the coming album... writing can be a cure in a way, you know. Maybe it will be a star-"

But then he stops ...

The insufferable tone cutting midway just like that - because Harry gets up,

- gets up without a warning, and simply leaves, sparing no gazes or greetings.

 

Three of them stare at Harry's departing back - his shoulders still utterly tensed... arms on sides with oddly stiff fingers.

Slowly, Louis stands not sure if to follow him or let him shut himself.

Comfort him or let him be.

He looks at Alex for a cue but his face looks blank - as if he knew what is done, is already done.

 

They hear a door slam and needn't to say it was from Harry's room.

There was a suspense of silence in the room...

but then,

 

" - start for him to get back to things. I don't want this album to have less contribution from you guys than the last one in writing." Simon continues his line as if nothing happened. As if Harry didn't just got up and walked away the mid sentence. "Getting back to work sometimes helps normality" he adds. 

Louis looks at him murderous trying to calm him raising breaths.

"Is this some kind of a joke ?!!"  Louis spats patience to be damned. "He's struggling to pass the freaking day and all you can think of is the album and the fucking studio in this shithouse? Fucking unbelievable!"  He scoffs not even looking at Simon anymore.

He fucking felt like he needed to follow Harry.

"Language, Tomlinson" Simon simply says without an inch of a wave in his voice. As if he's  weary adult trying to knock sense in to a rowdy teenager. 

"What about it?" He hits back.

Simon regards him with a dull, fake patience again.

"You are supposed to stop him fucking around, Tomlinson... and I don't see that happening. I only see his recklessness increasing, his medical reports waning. I need to see something working! I need effort and progress, which I don't see here at all. I didn't send you here to let him have his way. He was doing it without you!"

"You left him here with no one for months, Simon - he was. FUCKING. ALONE!!! He should have been in London with his family and friends. You left him here and he had found his way of coping. If this is on anybody it's on you! You fucked him up - keeping him here... and I'm only trying to pick up the pieces... so don't get to blame me for it. This is on you!"  he says pointing his finger directly at the older man, the music industry's high profile de-mentor and the mass media king. The man who owned their souls and cards in the world of music. 

But if Louis was sure about something it was that he did not fucking care...not at this moment ... not at all.

Simon does not seem effected, he just stands taller on Louis and glares,

"I'm not here to play a blame game with you, Tomlinson!" He says wearily, voice louder than it had been. " I don't care what you work inside your head to justify things as long as you find a way to knock some senses back in to his head. World seem like something petty to you now but when you grow senses yourself... if you ever do - that is, you'll understand that you all have a show to put up with limited things to offer... Either you get your shit together and make it work or stand behind when the curtain fall... controlling your attitude might actually help because we are running out of bloody time! and I don't want to waste it on your stroppiness. I need results. And I don't care if you fuck him or sweet talk him to do it. Knock some senses in to him and get him to his fucking feet. I can only give you a month! "

Simon just collects his leather folder much carefully from the couch as if it was something precious and simply walks towards the door, face almost content. .

Furious and not wanting to waste a fucking word on this man anymore, Louis just  glares icily. Simon pauses at the door then, his face impassive again.

"Dr. Sawrey mentioned that you did not meet up with her yet. Go meet with her ... she might actually know some stuff more on his case than you. One month, Louis. Get this done!" With it Simon leaves without looking back.

Louis just stands there staring at nothing - wanting to throw the shining coffee table at Simon's fucking head! or kick him down the glass window to land twenty one stories down.  His fingers tremble not being able to move. He, with an effort turns to, Alex who just sits there, as if in thought.

 A sheer silence brims in the suddenly quieted living room - like the hollow noise just after a thunder... Until,

 

... something crashes in distance... something behind a closed door.

Louis thoughts suddenly pokes his numb mind, shaking him to a suspense ... Harry.

Looking at Alex for a split second, Louis races to Harry's room - hearing more rustling and crashing with every step he nears... what is going on? did he fall? is he alright?  Harry did not look alright at all when he walked away from the living room for sure. He almost stumbles as the concern hits. 

But when he reaches the room, he only meets with a white surface of a locked door this time. Gipping the silver handle with all the might he tries to open it as he hears more crashing from the other side.

what the...

 "Harry open the door!!" ,

,he hammers the door turning the handle desperately but the door does not budge.

He keeps knocking and pushing as something heavy thuds to the floor inside, making him freeze.

"Damn it, Harry... OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!!" he shouts this time, heart raising "HAZ, OPEN THIS !!!"

There's stomping footsteps and more crashing....

 

'Here, let me" Alex says appearing out of nowhere... A bundle of keys clinks in his hand as he presses Louis to the side -  pushing the key in and opening the lock. Louis does not wait for a second as he grabs the handle and crashes inside.

And it looks like a hell house.

Still dimly lit, it was as if something had blown inside.

Cushions and chairs fallen to sides, rolling in corners - book shelf dragged half across the room and on the floor... books thrown across the room with torn papers. Wardrobe open and cloths, boots laying everywhere with glass bottles of perfume and whatnot shattered in pieces, emanating strong mixed scents. Bed askew and it's sheets and pillows on the floor in a mess - curtains dragged apart and off their hooks...

And amid all... was Harry,

Harry... his hair a tangled mess... shirt unbuttoned from the top - torn wide apart as if it had been choking him, revealing his long pale neck with reddened scratch marks, his tattoo of black swallows and unsteady collarbones. His body shudders as he sends some ornate frames crashing to the ground - hands shaking with loss of contact as he does -  Face distraught and pinched, dry but terrified and panicked as if he was lost in chaos.

Heavy breaths escapes him with gasps as he takes unbalanced steps... blind and aimless...

 

He does not see Louis first - stumbling around the room as if he had lost it... 

but then he does ... seemingly startling himself, he takes a step back confused and terrified, scowling his brows the next moment.

"Why are you here?"

he mumbles darkly but then his eyes moves past stunned Louis, to Alex.

Harry shakes his head as struck by a foul headache, frustration and fury kicking in to his terrified features in a blink. His teeth clutters and reddened lips quivers frantically.  He strikes forth at them with hostile eyes and trembling, "Key... give me the fucking key!!!" he spits stomping unsteadily and effortfully to Alex, as if someone was dragging him from the back,

 " GIVE ME MY FUCKING KEYS!!!" he bellows.

Louis tries to catch him, wanting nothing but to wrap his arms around his shivering form and hold him until whatever this is passed.

But as he touches, Harry winces... flinching and rounding at him - thrashing at him, unceremoniously. Louis almost loses the balance but manages to steady up as he grabs Harrys arm.

"Harry," he tries to make him some sense as Harry wriggles to free himself, fighting, struggling stubbornly with maniac eyes, groaning at him as if Louis was strangling him - their steps unsteady on broken and messed up pieces scattered around the ground. "Harry, CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!! you are going to hurt yourself" he shouts pressing Harry to the wall next to the bed with tangled sheets,

... and Harry reflexes pushing Louis back manically.

"LEAVE ME ALONE, FUCKING MORON!!" he screams at him louder and harsher... green eyes delated and popping crazily.

Barely managing to not land on the floor, Louis watches him with wide eyes as Harry shakes like a leaf as if unable to contain himself -  looking maniac but utterly terrified and tormented. Harry keeps panting, chest almost heaving as he then glares at Louis wildly. Then suddenly he turns and grabs the bedside lamp in a flash, hurling it across - it's plug and the cable tearing from the wall and flying behind the solid object nearly missing Louis face.

"Leave me alone!!!" Harry screams as if it did not matter. As if he did not see it almost hitting Louis.

"Have you gone bloody mad?!!!" Louis shouts back taking a step back as Harry trembles more...eyeing him fearfully and furiously at the same time - his face red and devilish, out of reason and out of sense... Something is terribly wrong... terribly terribly wrong with him. Louis takes a step forward again ignoring whatever Alex was saying from aside.

Harry looks as if is chocking... he rubs at his chest absently still looking at him manically.

"Haven't you seen enough to report to fucking Simon? Do you still want to spy on my crazy for your next report??!!! so next time he can get my sign and send me to a bloody asylum!!!!" Harry says venomously as he rubs at his half revealing chest absently.

Louis just holts.

"What? Are you out of you mind??!!" Louis spats, stunned and fazed as Alex returns to his side. He stares at shivering Harry unbelievingly "I'm not spying on you" he says flatly.

"You are a lying shit! -" Harry is nailing his own chest as if he was senseless to it's reddening pain, scraping almost ... "you - "

"Enough of this. Harry" Alex cuts, taking a step as he unclasps something in his hand.

Harry spares a glance at Alex but then ignores him, turning to Louis again, clenching his fist more. His almost glassy and deranged eyes lining to unreason and pain.

"You can fucking tell him... I don't give a fuck what you are telling him!!! LEAVE!!!! Leave me the fuck alone!!!"

The hateful tone and the hostile eyes stings at Louis like thousand fucking knives. The distress,  weariness and hurt getting better of his thoughts Louis shakes his head stubbornly. "I'm not leaving... not until you come out of this sorry thing you've got yourself locked in"

"I don't need your fu-"

"Stop this both of you!" Alex cuts in with gritted teeth,  "Louis, get out. I'll handles this"

Harry just swallows, his eyes still maniac and breathing heavy - he looks desperate. And no Louis won't, "I'm not leaving him like this. He's-" 

"I DON"T NEED YOUR FUCKING PITY!!! I don't need your fucking concern or your presence... I don't owe you fucking anything!! You are nothing to me!!!" he screams out.

"Harry" Alex warns gripping at a small container he held in his hand. Harry merely follows it with his eyes blankly for a second. 'Stop this' Alex repeats warningly.

"No - Let him spill it out,' Louis says almost calmly instead of the pang in his heart. He knows these are just words... sounds without meaning, confused  thoughts - sounds of hurt. He knows words too. He uses them but he never thought it would hurt the same as it always did when they came out of Harry... no matter how disturbed or how ill he was. It hurt... it knifed him right through the gut.

"Let him say...-"

"Leave me the fuck alone!" Harry cries with tormented breaths, leaning back to the wall wearily -  his legs tangled in the white sheets at his feet. He looks more unstable than a minute ago.

"Enough, this is it ... enough now, Harry.' Alex says sternly, eyes holding Harry to the wall. He gestures with the container as he does. 

Louis just stares as something hurtful draws to him.

"Take the pills. You'll be fine" Alex says and Harry almost fidgets angrily.

 

"I'm not crazy" Harry says gritting his teeth. His green eyes shadowing as his body shook.

 "It's nothing to do with crazy. It'll calm you, alright. It'll be over soon"

"I'M NOT FUCKING CRAZY!!!" his fury tries to hide the humiliation and panic in his face, pathetically, desperately.

"Take the pill" unfazed, Alex takes two white tablets out of the small jar and holds it to Harry - his expression almost threatening.

"You let him fucking in" Harry says venomous, not even looking at Louis and Louis almost flinches. Was he this mad at Louis for barging in? Intruding his space? Is he this angry??

"You know I didn't have a choice - either you take the pills or I'll have to inject, Ok? So just take it, and we'll leave you be." his voice leaves no space for thoughts...

 

Harry looks almost drained as he lifts his hand, palm up. Defeated and humiliated. His face stretched and red in agitation but dry all the same. He does not dare look at Louis even for a second. Not even when Alex leaves two of them to fetch Harry a glass of water from the bathroom. He just stands here, still trembling and breathing hard as if he was trying to control it - face still on panic and sweat trickling down his neck. Louis just watches him, not knowing what to do... or what to say.

Alex makes sure that Harry takes the pills, passes it down his throat before turning to a numb Louis.

"Let's go"  he urges him gripping in his arm and dragging him out of the messed up room. "He'll need some time"

Louis walks out with Alex without a word. Upon the door, he gazes at Harry with an excruciating pain that twists in his hearts who leans back to the wall as if to steady his long lanky body.

 They leave with the door open.

After everything quiets, Harry slowly  slides down to the floor... to the tangled, messy sheets and pillows, the medication dragging his reeling boiling mind down - unmercifully and forcefully - unheeding his need to scream, thrash and crash ... forcing him to an unwanted calm and fake serenity.

 

 

 ..............

 

As soon as they come to the living area, Louis rounds up on Alex.

"Call the doctor" he demands. "Call his fucking doctor!"

Alex shakes his head "He'll be fine... He nee-"

"Did you bloody see him? his face? He's trembling and sweating like a pig... He's having some sort of  a fucking nervous breakdown. He's not fine!"

Alex just sighs watching Louis' anxious, tension filled face. 

"Pills will to calm him down. It's sort of a flash... he gets them like I told you. He'll be ok." Alex sounds far calm and steady, completely opposite to Louis.

Louis could feel himself panicking... Harry's terrified and unstable gaze, non-stop heavy breathing and trembling - shaking body... his agitated paranoid words - hostile maniac stance... Yes, Alex had told him... Simon had somewhat mentioned to him, but Louis had never for his fucking life had seen Harry like that... out of his mind and unstable... shaking like in fever... looking this fucked up... not even in that two weeks of hell.., but now-

"He was never this bad... not even when they were torturing him... I was there... and I saw him trying to hold on no matter what... he was not this... not ... not even when they tortured him or drugged him..., alright... he was never this... Me and Zayn were there too ... and we both got help... I know we don't come anything near what he went through all that time but he's not the only person to get fucking kidnapped. People go through things and they come back... He's not fucking back!! that's not... that's not Harry I know, Alex" he says shaking his face ... heart hammering to understand.

"Louis..."

"Something's really wrong with him... ok... He goes around drunk everyday like some fucked up doll with this - this sex craze he never had... not like this. Harry I knew would never do this to himself... this is not him - he needs help, Alex" he says  he says groping his own face, "He needs some god damn help. Whatever he's getting is not fucking enough!"

"He's getting everything best, ok. PSTD is never easy. But it's normal-"

"HE'S NOT FUCKING NORMAL!!! I saw him in the hospital after you'll rescued us. I saw him... and he was fine then. He was doing ok... as same as me and Zayn. But now he's fucking delirious!!! he's out of control. Can't you fucking see that??!!"

Alex sighs deep as his eyes growing grimmer and graver. " Trauma is never the same for two people, Louis, alright? Sometimes it's takes time to show effects. Not that I am an expert to talk about his condition but he was traumatized, mentally and physically. And he's trying hard to get some control on what happened... and what's happening to him now, maybe from ways you can't understand. The situation is not in his favor at all... his therapy, treatments, transplants...  he deflected them. He hated it all - but he had no option. He has this... kind of apprehensiveness settling in to his old shoes... to most of the people he knew and -"

"I don't see him panicking to Jeff or Grimy. He struts around with them like nothing happened!"

"Most people, Louis." Alex repeats wearily. "He doesn't react well to Simon for whatever the reason."

"Fucking wonder why" Louis mumbles turning away from Alex, running his palm over his forehead. Harry couldn't stand Simon,  fucking glorious... seems Harry could not stand Louis either... he thinks bitterly, seeing the hostile and hatful green eyes and red spiteful lips in his head.

"You lot do have a strange work safe relationship, mind me...  how long did you'll extend? five more years?" Alex asks casually.

"Three" Louis scoffs his mind flying back months to the day of his release from the hospital after the whole ordeal... to the moment he sighed those fucking papers under the three other signs which were already there. It was the day he first saw Harry after the rescue - pale and utterly spent in his unconscious form - and he had been too drained to argue at anything at that point nor comment when Magee had explained the conditions and asked him to sign. What had been done was done...

Dragging him out of his mind Louis looks up to see Alex eyeing him thoughtfully. "Fucking three more years - thanks to us" he mumbles. Alex just stares. Louis for a moment was sure Alex wanted to add something but then the agent just sighs.

“Louis," he says then he was tired of the whole back and forth, " I know you lads have sort of a clash with the management and can't really see eye to eye with Simon either... this might sound crazy to you but if you want to really take the shot and help him, do what Simon said - Go to his doctor. Talk to her... last I heard, she's one of the best. He's due to meet her day after tomorrow... She'll be happy to meet you than me I'm sure. Or this is not taking Harry anywhere"

 

 Louis says nothing... reluctance brimming in his head. Yes, he had wanted to see the bloody doctor and ask him what the hell she had been doing all this time to get Harry this fucking mental. But Simons egoistic shit and smug face had clearly made his very thought go null. It was as if Louis was here because Simon pushed him - just like Harry accused him of... working for the money greedy bastards, making sure Harry stays in his box and get his shit packed for their next public auction, the freaking album and the tour they are liable to put out.

Is he suppose to play fetch and roll on his back when fucking Simon says so?

This is all ridiculous!

But in his mind he knew he just being stubborn... or maybe scared. He did not know anymore.

 

He looks up as Alex clears his throat, cutting his chain of thoughts.

"I'm going to clear my room - he'll need to sleep it off. Can you watch out for him a bit"

 Louis just stares.

"He can sleep in mine. It has more space. I'll take the couch" he says running his fingers through his hair with thoughts of Harry  alone in the corner of that messed up room, feet tangled in dragged out sheets in the dark.

Alex opens his mouth and closes it, looking at Louis with a tight face. 

 

"No. He won't umm... he won't sleep there. I'll get someone to clean in his room before night - he can use mine until then."

 

  ....................................................

 

 

 

 Harry goes out again the next day night ... getting one of the guards to drive him.

He does not ask Alex this time, maybe because he had been giving him the cold shoulder since the incident. He had not been acknowledging either of them. Louis was not sure if it was because Alex forced him to take the pills or because Alex deprived him of his room key, not letting him be locked in as he wanted.  He was not sure.

It is almost half past midnight when Harry returns -

With a guy

A fucking blond, dressed in expensive black and a lopsided grin. The guy's shirt unbuttoned almost to the naval...revealing a toned sweat smudged abs, hair a mess and lips thoroughly bitten. He just struts behind Harry, who hurries to his room without wasting any time nor bothering to even turn his face to Louis, least out of courtesy - lips, red as sin and face far from shame. Louis could tell Harry was sober than any day he had seen him walk in, arms heavy with random women.

The guy merely winks at Louis as he follows Harry casually, his winning crooked smile plastered as a permanent mark... probably aiming to defy anyone who dared to disaprove.

 

Louis stares taken aback, his stomach sick and something wrathful crawling up his spine. 

 

  

...........................................................

 

 

 

 

A part of him did not want to see Harry's fucking face the next day. But the other part just wanted nothing but to confront him and make him pay. Louis was so bloody angry... furious and done. He was really done! Simon was clearly right about one thing... he, Louis, didn't fucking come here to watch Harry eagerly get fucked by random losers... he fucking did not!

Louis comes out of his room fairly late, not wanting to meet a trace of the thrash Harry the nerve to flaunt on his face yesterday. It was almost lunch time when he finally does and he was bloody hungry to start with. So he goes to the open kitchen directly, finding no one around. And there, sat on the breakfast bar was - Harry. Clad in a flimsy white t-shirt and usual black pants, hair loose and flowing as ever... 

He was eating cereal in a white bowl, as Louis had seen before many times- but without milk. Fucking idiot is too lazy to even open the fridge and take the milk out? Louis watched as he munched on he dry cereal absently, crushing the crisps with his freaking bunny teeth, thoughts clearly else ware.

Without a word Louis walks over to the fridge and grabs the milk out. He does not spare a glance as he takes Harry's bowl from his grasp and pours in the milk. After the bowl is almost half filled Louis pushes it back to him. Harry looks at him sideways with a hesitation, surely stunned - but he does not utter a word. Louis does not say anything about cereal or lunch either... he could eat fucking cereal for the rest of his life for all three meals - see if Louis cares.

He grabs two frozen pies from the fridge for himself without a word and puts them in the oven, slamming the door with an unnecessary force -not bothering to preheat. Then he just stands and stares as the digital clock blink, ticking the time. He wanted to scrape Harry with silence, wound him, yet biting his tongue was not his style.

"Did you have fun last night?" he blurts out failing to stop himself within minutes.

He hears the spoon clutter lightly from the back but Harry still does not say anything.

"You seem to have quite a thing for blonds lately. Should I ask Niall, Elli and Perri to keep away? In case you burst out of your pants when you see them?"

He turns to see Harry's slumped back, down turned face and stilled posture, cowed under Louis' snappy tone. He had stopped eating, rubbing his thumb methodically along the silver spoon.

 

Louis lets out an uneasy sigh... trying to press down his anger. He cracks his knuckles and turns to the tea collection next to him. "You need tea?" he asks dangling between being cross and giving in to the sudden sympathy he feels for what looks like a silent submission.

Nothing.

Fine, Louis can make some for his own.

 

Louis makes himself tea and takes his warm mince pies out of the oven, taking them both to the seat next to Harry. He sits, careful not to press his skin even a bit on the other boy. Harry had not still moved, eyes fixed on the spoon he was dragging his finger along.

"When's your appointment today?" Louis asks casually sipping his tea. Harry just continues his finger gesture, lips still sealed... Louis waits for an answer that does not come. Harry keeps tagging his thumb on the glistening metal absently - or purposely. Louis grits his teeth inside, keeping to his patience. "I'm going to take you today. When is your time?"

Silence brims again pushing Louis to seriously consider if he was to grab him and turn him to his face, to talk. But then,

"I cancelled it" Harry says in a mumble that Louis almost doesn't hear him.

"What?"

"I cancelled" Harry repeats slightly louder, continuing to rub his finger, ignoring Louis' side glance.

"Why?"

"B'cause I wanted to" his tone was as monotone as it come.

Louis just stares at him for a moment trying to fathom the impassive face with dull loose features. Failing, he bites his lip and grabs Harry's phone laying next to him on the kitchen top, pushing to him. "Call the clinic - and reschedule" he says sternly than he intends to and Harry merely eyes him, his thumb finally still.

"Call them"

Harry reaches for the phone breaking his eyes from Louis, but instead of dialling, he pockets it in his trouser daring to look at Louis again with a sort of defiance in his eyes.

"Harry-"

"No" Harry collects his half eaten bowl of cereal and gets up from the seat, leaving a glaring Louis with his tea and pies. He throws the leftovers to the bin and starts washing the bawl as if nothing happened. 

"Don't be a kid, alright? Take the phone out and reschedule your session to the evening! There's still time. You are not cancelling on treatments!"

"I'm not going today, alright?" Harry sound calm but Louis knew he was reeling inside from the way his breaths had gotten faster. His chest was visibly tense.

" Yes you are. You are calling or I'll call. You are going either way. It's out of discussion" Louis gets up shaking his head as it was the final.

"NO! I'm not going. If I say I'm not, I'M NOT!!! STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!!" Harry snaps, voice raised... and Louis finds it's absurd that he's so worked out for this. 

"Why is it hard for you to understand that we are just trying to help you? I'm trying to help you! no need to jump out at every fucking thing like I'm trying to screw you!"

"I DON'T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP!!!" Harry's face was turning red, his hands shiver as his eyes turns glassier.

"Harr-"

 

"What's going on?"

Louis looks over his shoulder to see Alex standing behind him in the doorway, concern lining his face.

"Nothing!" Harry snaps walking around the counter, leaving to hide away in his room no doubt. And no, Louis will not let him get away for this like this. Harry's not a kid to howl and think he'll get his way and neither Louis nor Alex is his parent to fall for that. 

"It's not nothing. He's cancelled the session today. I'm calling the clinic and he's going. End of story. Give me their number, Alex" he says to Alex as if he doesn't see Harry huffs and turns to him midway.

"Said I'm not going!"

"You fucking are" Louis hums taking the phone from Alex, but before he could reach the contact list Harry grabs the phone from his hand and throws it sweeping along the floor earning a hiss from Alex.

" I'm NOT going." Harry snaps as he was on the edge,  "I don't need your permission or opinion. I'm not going!!! Let me fucking do what I want for once!!!" he cries voice shattering at the end. It was not anger nor stubbornness that spills out of his each word, ... it was hurt - burning, searing hurt. His reddened eyes and twitching bitten lips fuels the very vibe of his tone.

Louis just looks at his slightly heaving chest and welling eyes, almost shocked … the pain in Harry's green eyes slowly tugging at him, infecting him.

"I- I didn't mean-"

"I don't care what you meant, Louis!!! I don't give a damn what you think either!!" his voice shakes so unsteadily as if he's stood on a thread. Louis could almost see him slipping as if he stepped on a patch of grease on the thread.

" I came here to help you, Haz" he says slowly his wide hesitant eyes moving from Harry's reddening face to Alex's concerned one.

"I DON'T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP!!! I don't want you here!!! " Harry almost screams, tears finally spilling out of his jade eyes - face twitching as if it was physically paining him to be in this moment. Alex tries to calm the agitated boy but he merely shrugs at his gesture brutally wiping his eyes. And Louis tries, tries not to break to pieces front of the agenizing sight... though everything about it was practically stabbing him at heart. It was never easy for him to see Harry in tears, hurt pinned in every muscle of his body. 

"Harry, please listen-" But it was all he could say as Harry takes his hands from his face, revealing tear stained eyes and reddened nose.

 

"Why are you fucking here??!! I didn't ask you to com-e!!! Why are you here now???!!! I don't need you!! You fucking le-ft me wh-when I ne-eded you!!! Y-ou FUCKING LEFT ME!!!!!"

 

Harry's voice skips the edge as he hatefully and bitterly cries with gasps taking over, pressing a shaking hand to his eyes. This time he does not protest when Alex hugs him over, trying to calm him with small whispers as Harry continuously shakes, face hidden on Alex's broad chest and his own smooth curls.

 

Louis just stands there, shell shocked as Alex patiently directs Harry carefully back to his room, with whatever consoling words he needed to hear. The suppressed sobs electrocuting deep in Louis' heart until they fade behind walls. But Harry's words still roared in his head with utter agitation and bitterness...

left him? Louis left him?? When the fuck did Louis ever leave him? How could Harry ever accuse him of leaving when it was always the other way around??  Wasn't it Louis who searched and searched for him like a mad dog when Harry fucking left him for the second fucking time in the damned hospital corridor with a scribbled note passed to him by Liam? What the hell was he on about? When did Louis leave him?

Any of it didn't make much sense to Louis, and his head was thrashing inside with pain, hurt, fear and anger.

What in the name of the hell is wrong with Harry? What the hell is going on inside him? He was dull as a sea gull at a one second and boiling like red black lava the next second. What is going on with him? Why wasn't anyone caring enough to fucking figure out? Louis always knew deep inside that he freaking needed to go see his doctor, though Harry's stabbing stunts, his own ego and Simon's intrusion had stupidly put him off of it far too long. Today he had made his mind... he had planned to meet the doc, get her to explain ABC to Harry's condition. Maybe that's why he pressed this - pressed Harry to cancel the cancellation. But it was not like Louis threatened him either for Harry to lose it like that.

Louis had to meet the doctor, he now knew... Harry would not like it at all of course. He would go bloody mad...furious if he knew. But at this point, Louis didn't  care. Of course, Harry had just indicated loud and clear that he did not want Louis here... that he did not want Louis' so called help nor presence at all. But for the sake of everything that meant something between them, every kiss, every touch  and each intimate moment they spent behind closed doors  almost two and a half years back... the two and a half years they spent with bloody poker faces at eachother  - to those two weeks of agony, shattering fear and pain, watching him scream and cry for him as he floated to the edges of ice cold death, Louis knew leaving his Harry here on his own was out of the question. No matter how much he agitated Louis, he would not leave him. He would not leave him to rot. not here... not like this...he could not. Not when he was in fucking love with him, as he had always been for all these years since eighteen... even with El mending his heart broken by Harry himself. He knew he had been an unfair, ungrateful git to El, to use her comfort and wound her like he did... he was guilty and he was wrong, he knew - but love knows no reason nor logic nor time ...   No matter what Harry would say otherwise, Louis was, and is in love with him. There was no escape and he did not need to run from it... not after everything they  have been through. Louis had made up his mind. Simon can pressure him, threaten him, drag him to pawn for his fucking chess game and Harry could try all he want to, kick him, mock him... try to prove him that he didn't want him to get rid of him, flaunting his cutting delusional words and wounding stunts, but this time Louis would not FUCKING let go until he makes sure Harry's on his gangly legs again... He would not let his boy leave, not this time, cross his fucking heart.  

 

Louis does not call the clinic to reschedule the time for the day as he intended to. Instead he finds the doctor's privet number off of Alex's phone which was laying on the floor as Harry threw it, and calls her directly. She sounded friendly enough and both surprised and glad to get his call. He schedules a meeting with her for the next day afternoon without Harry agreeing he had put this off for far too long.

Coming back from Harry, Alex seemed to think Louis was going to leave, taking whatever Harry's words to his head... that Louis needed convincing to stay after all, which was the complete opposite to what Louis had in mind. He shuts Alex's crafted persuading tone in a flick - stating that he has no intention to ditch Harry when he need him. Louis earns a usual calculating stare from Alex as always... as if he was trying to read what was going inside Louis' head. Louis deprives him from asking Alex if Harry was OK... because he knew as a fact that Harry was not. Instead Louis asks him how much Simon and the management are paying him to look after the boyband drama, and Alex just laughs.

"enough" he answers, to which Louis makes a face.

"They've not promised you the curly, right? because he's mine!" he says eyeing him under his lashes, icily.

"No, not exactly" Alex huffs a casual smile, maybe for the first time in his life.

 

 

Later, Louis, for his own surprise helps Alex make dinner. Angela  had already chopped the vegetables and meat and all they had to do was to marinate them using the kind lady's pre prepped dressings and load them to the oven. Harry he knew would certainly be more than happy about the fucking greens without a doubt but Louis was not too sure about the one currently in the house. Anyway Louis decides to take dinner to his room, thinking it is better off letting him be than to drag him out of his cave with a brooding face. He carefully arranges the coloured veggies and greens with roasted meat aside in a plate for Harry. Maybe he wanted to cheer him up or ridicule him with stupidity but it seemed like a good idea for Louis, though he catches Alex giving him a raised brow, wide eye look  for his genuine attention - which Louis easily ignores.

Five minutes later he was at Harry's door, knocking - though he knew it was not locked. Louis waits, with the plate heavy in his hand. But it takes the second set of knocks to finally get the door open. And Harry, half dressed, steps back from the door only sparing a slightly irritated glance at Louis, not seeing the plate in his hand ay all. Tight black pants, black boots and completely unbuttoned flimsy shirt with red florals. Louis heart slightly sinks as he starts buttoning the shirt, walking to his bathroom mirror. Why of course...

The room looks exactly as it was before... before Harry thrashed and crashed everything around - maybe minus the books and some different picture frames. Carefully setting the dinner plate on the ottoman, Louis steps near the black tiled bathroom not going in. Harry keeps fixing his hair  ignoring Louis, who eyes some odd bottles of foundation, concealer  and what not stacked aside the shining sink. Are they Harry's? What would he need fucking makeup for?? Louis stares as Harry rubs on hair cream to tame his curls with all the attention.

 "Going somewhere?" he asks trying to suppress his own irritation crawling back up his neck. After the earlier outburst anyone would have thought Harry would just give this a fucking rest... well, seems not. Maybe kicking Louis's ego is much important to him.

"Need a- drink... Is there a problem?" His tone is almost cutting as he continued in front of the mirror, eyes on his own reflextion

"No... not according to you anyway"

Silence. 

 Harry just spares a glance at Louis leaving the bathroom. Louis follows him. Opening his wardrobe, Harry drags a bottle of Armani and starts spraying it on himself to which Louis makes a face with rolling eyes. The fragrance sweeps through his senses like poison.

"You don't have to stay awake. I'm going to be late"

"You mean you won't be alone?" Louis hums with a tight smile stretched on his lips. "I know the catch"

Harry doesn't smile, just glares dully. "Can't get enough of them blonds" he murmurs mockingly and smirks dragging his phone out, maybe to call a driver - a guard.

Louis leans on the wall crossing his arms on the chest and scoffs, " Ripping your wild card off? look how far you've come, Styles... wild Styles." he could not stop the sarcasm spilling from the corners of his own mouth.

Harry just looks up at him at his spiking tone and Louis just cocks his head with a mocking laugh.

"If I want to fuck, I will fuck. It's none of your goddamn business."

"Is it not? No.. I thought it is my goddamn business" Louis sings, still hanging to his spiky tone.

"I'll fuck whoever I want to. I always have!"

"Oh yeah? Look where it got you in the fucking end with a maniac pumping both of us with stash to heaven!" Louis shoots icily anger getting better of him for real and he almost wants to take back what he said but unreasonable push in the back of his head wanted nothing but to keep going. He glares at Harry coldly as Harry for a moment stares back at him hesitantly. He looks almost taken aback- or... guilty? ... But then his face rests to its usual dullness.

"Go back to London and fuck your pretty girlfriend. I'm sure she won't mind taking your stress out!" He says in a low monotone that screeches in Louis' head as he grips on his phone and starts walking past Louis to the door.

And Louis does not know if it's spiteful mention of El, who he, Louis had guiltily dumped due to Harry himself or the none existent regard Harry had for Louis that makes him totally lose it. But he does - he loses it.

He turns and lunges at Harry who is walking away from him, grabbing from the neck -  sinking his nails to his skin. He hurls him back with a force and spite, ready for a fight "You sex- crazed fuck! You think this is a bloody joke?" Dragging him back with his tightened grip Louis manhandles him, smashes him to the wall beside the bed as Harry gasps, his body hitting the white solid wall. Louis knew Harry could simply kick back, his limbs were longer and he had always looked stronger than Louis', especially in later years. He mostly waits for it, wanting to face the fight - so he pushes more, hits him to the wall harder. Harry slightly pushes back with a hiss and Louis reels up more.

 "Is this what you want? Is this what you want?"

Louis presses his body roughly to Harry, smashing him harder to the wall,  kicking his legs apart - hitting him with his body... his front pressing Harry's back. 

"Is this what you fucking want, you fucking whore?" Letting go of the neck Louis grabs one of Harry's wrists and twists it to his back with an iron grip and traps the other to the wall just above his head, bodily smashing him again and again to the wall. " Is this what you want? Fucking tell me!!" he blows right in to Harry's ear.

Trapped roughly between the wall and the forceful body behind him, Harry lets out a raspy whimper, face turned to a side - pressing himself right in to Louis  - and Louis for the first time hesitates...without a warning or reason Louis finds air rushing in to his head... Not letting his grip lose he breaths in to the curls, smelling the smooth fresh fragrant, his body reacting to something else. His head sways inside, skipping reason, logic ... finding something else - desire... Harry hadn't fought him, though he could, easily, if he wanted to... instead he was panting with his fleshy pouty lips. Louis presses his hardness to him watching the sharp profile of his face... delated jade eyes and flowing curls in a random a mess, closer. The sinful red lips... freshly licked... he almost steered to catch them with his own.

For a moment they both tremble, a shaky breath comes off Harry's  mouth as Louis sighs deep, warm air blowing down his pale long neck. Slowly releasing his grip from the wrist he had held twisted to his back, Louis brings his hand up... sweeping the smooth curls out of the back of his neck. Blowing slowly he closes his lips on the white perfect skin, dragging his fingers through his hair, lightly gripping on it , listening to his rapid breaths and heaving chest. Louis breaths back wetly on the neck, pressing in, trapping him more in to the wall- but tenderly this time. He drags his tongue along the soft layer of flesh, up and up... reaching his ear., supressing his own moan as Harry shakes. It was all going good... well... more that good until-

Maybe Louis was too invested in sucking on his long lost  treasure, his other half- his conscience... to notice at first that Harry was slowly going slack. Maybe he did not realise it at all until the end because Harry was turned to the solid wall. Louis realises something is wrong only when he finds himself being  dragged down by Harry's weight. At first he  thinks Harry was doing it on purpose - taking it to the next level but he notices Harry had gone far too pale, limbs hanging, his eyes distracted and his once red lips almost white with drained blood.

- and Louis panics

He releases his grip on him and Harry simply drops down ungracefully, sitting on his back . "Harry!!! ...Harry! What's wro-g?"

But Harry does not respond - Eyes open, glassy and faraway. He looks limp and distracted as he was not there in his own self. Louis panics not understanding, not knowing what to do or say. "Harry... Harry...I'm s-sorry... sorry... Haz!!" he whispers in a desperation, lost and clueless. He tries to shake him but Harry looks just blank. He  just sits there on the ground, staring at the wall, unmoving and numb.

"Harry .... Harry ... Haz this is not funny.. " But nothing... " Harry!!"

Louis does not realize his eyes were already tearing with fear and shock. He stares at the unmoving sitting body, shaking. Then with a whimpering breath Louis  does the only thing he could think of... he screams for Alex.

Alex dashes in within seconds for the fear and panic in Louis' scream.

"What happened?!! What did you do?" Alex snarls, taking Harry's limp form to him, cradling the head and softly running his finger near the blank, open eyes. His head just drops back lifeless and Louis bites his knuckles to keep his sobs inside.

"What happened, Louis??!!" Alex snarls again.

Louis just shakes, unable to stop, unable to understand... unable to make any sense... "I- I don't ... don't-"

Not paying attention, Alex carefully puts his arms under Harry's arms and knees and lifts him off the ground with a professional care, carrying him over to the bed. "Get the cover" he barks to Louis, who jumps up from the floor and tears the covers off. He watches as Alex places Harry's prone body carefully on the bed. His head winces looking at the open, blank glassy greens and pale face.

"What is happening to him?" he asks shakily as Alex moves to undo the  shoes. "Alex, what's wrong with him, damn it????!!

"Catatonia - " Alex says busy untying the buckles.

"What??!"

"Catatonia - a state caused by stupor. It's a condition in PTSD... an extreme one. There's a red small jar in the lowest drawer. Get me two pills out of it."

Louis hesitates, fear screaming inside "He's so... so pale... he looks blank and de.. dea-"

Alex shakes his head shutting his stutter " He's gone closed... He won't hear or see ... he won't respond for a while. Get me the pills!"

Louis does, with a hammering heart and guilt banging his entire body. "Is he .. is h- Will he be OK? Is he going to wake up?"

Alex spares him a calm gaze as he takes the two tablets out of his hand, sitting next to him on the bed. "He's fine. He'll come back eventually. If it drags more than a day, we'll get have to take him to the hospital. I'll ask for a nurse - they'll need to set up a drip"

 

Why and how the fuck is Alex calm?!! more than a day???!!!! Louis trembles, tears spiking his eyes. What had he done???!! What is going on??!!! He watches as Alex places the pills on Harry's tongue and hold his jaw close. "We'll call the doctor now!!" Louis blurts wiping his eyes.

"I've given him pills now. Doctors will anyway wait until two days for shock treatments. He'll freak if he wakes in the hospital. It's best we let Dr. Sarah know and keep him here unless it's necessary."

Louis grips on his shirt and breaths to stop himself panicking. Shock treatment?? what...- "Does this happen, ...normally? does he-"

"No... not recently. Not in a while." Alex bites his lip leaning over his knees as he looks up at Louis' fearful face. " Last time was around the incident with Anne happened. He was hospitalized for some time... used to get them severely. He got better after."

Louis just swallows with shocked eyes on the face in front of him, his jaw paining from gritting teeth.  Harry had been utterly sick and none of them fucking knew.. none of them had an inch of a clue. They were all fucking around their homes and in a studios making useless music and writing useless lyrics when Harry had been on a hospital bed getting shock treatments to bring him to consciousness. He felt almost choked and kicked in the gut ... and he, Louis had tried to blame him, fight him... punish him,  all this time - all this time when he should have been far more patient , far more pampering... far more caring to him...

 He had vowed to care for him - but now, what had he done?

 

"Louis," Alex calls looking at him cautiously looking up at him from the bed "Get some sleep... I'll be with him in case wakes up" Louis looks at him blankly as if words just float over him, dragging him to a trans like state.

" Louis, get some rest... You are in shock - get your shit together and go get some sleep! you need it"

Louis just nods eyeing the long gangly body on the bed... pale and still. He leaves the room picking up the  plate of roasted veggies and meat which had long gone cold from the ottoman where he placed it earlier.

 

 

In his room that night, Louis cries his head off for a long time... until he was exhausted that he could not anymore - until was paralyzed with weariness and tears...

But it is way past midnight when the sleep finally takes him over .

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Two songs Inspired this chapter - Don't let me down by Chainsmokers ft Daya and Love don't break me by Billy.

 

 

 

                                          

 

7. Would you find me a Miracle?

 

 

 

The truth sometimes comes in different shades of grey…

 

...........................................

 

Somewhere in London

 

 

Pulling his black hand luggage to a stop just in front of the door, Eric rings the bell of his own apartment.

He has been out for a week in Paris, handling a job. Though he did enjoy the pampering the city of love had to offer, going there for business is far different than a fine vacation amid the exquisite wines and its other numerous pleasures.

He was actually glad to be back - even to the typically gloomy London weather.

Jonney finally opens the door, letting him in, clearly not expecting him. "Thought you are landing tonight," he says as Eric steps in, pulling his carry-on with him. He places it next to the spiral coat rack, unfolding it.

"They confirmed sooner than expected and it got done quicker." he says, unbuttoning his trench coat.

"Did you catch a taxi? I could have sent someone to the airport, man."

"Wasn't keen on waiting in the air port. Traffic's a bitch."

Hanging the coat, he loosens his tie and goes to pour himself a whiskey. He eyes the empty takeaway boxes on the sculptural coffee table as he fills the glass with the amber liquid. He could spot crumbs on the white woolen carpet. Well, when you have to let the dogs into the house …

Jonney looks at him sheepishly but follows him as Eric sits down on the white couch.

"Did you hear from Grecian?" Eric asks. "Any progress on Tony's contract?"

"Warner is still fighting. Their offer tops still. Grecian said unless they are ready to up the sum, Tony's manager is pushing that way. Just a matter of time. It won't work."

Eric sighs, tapping on the glass. "We'll have move on to the plan B then. Let Brian know."

Jonney nods, flattening his mouth. He watches Eric push his framed glasses back into his eyes and empty the glass in a one gulp. He places the empty glass on the table.

 

"Where's Nicky?” Eric asks then.

Jonney gestures to the closed door to the study. His face doesn't imply much, but Eric knew enough to guess when the man's face is impassive. Leaving Jonney in the seater, he walks towards the door, bracing himself as he knocks before entering the study.

The lights were not on, but the thin curtains let enough sunlight into the room- especially near the windows. Nick sat on the long seater, his feet stretched in front of him. His attention was on the laptop on his lap, surely with headphones on. Eric has a good idea what he was watching.

 

He clears his throat.

Nick looks up at him, pulling off his headphones. "Thought your flight's tonight," he says pausing the video, almost lethargic.

"Things got sorted sooner. Did mother call?"

"Sure," Nick hums, focusing back on the screen. He doesn't put on the headphones.

 

Eric eyes him calculatingly. Being locked into these walls must be tiring for someone like Nicky, Eric knows. But it’s not like he can let him strut around. The words have been out already among many ranks, and he knows Nicky had burnt too many hands; almost jeopardizing the entire project. The bosses weren't too pleased. Eric would be surprised if Nick survived a day in the streets of London. Not that he could do anything about it, but for their mother's sake he was trying to prevent it. But he couldn't trust Nicky for the life of him either. It's not that Nicky had actually been hiding anything, or lying of course- his intentions had been loud and clear, just that he had been totally unpredictable and discreet in his ways, more than ever.

Eric sits on the seater next Nick, turning the laptop to him, staring at the grainy yet clear enough video mutely playing on the screen.

 

"You know, I wish you would stop watching this shit over and over like a fucking maniac."

"Do you now?" Nick says, sarcasm leaking from his every feature, headphones  wrapped around his neck.

"Yeah, I do actually."

Nick turns the screen back to him, his face lined in a sneer. "Last I saw, you weren't hesitating to bind the devil with it. Standing convenience I guess. Hope Simon enjoyed the show."

"This is not a bloody joke, Nicky."

Nick looks up at Eric, his stare unnerving and cutting. "Who said it is?" he smirks. "Can you imagine the look on his face when he saw his bitch squeal? He got so worked up that he ran and got the contract sealed. Can't wait to see him try to make the fucking bitch sing."

 

Eric stares at his brothers' mocking face. Hateful eyes half curtained by his dark hair, he looks maniac and spiteful. Eric had hoped the boy would not be up for it, at least not for a while. He thought he would have enough time to convince his brother to go back to Greece, but-

"Simon got his sign? How do you know?"

"I have my sources," Nick sings, putting his headphones back in again. His focus fully back on the screen. He moves the timeline back, re-watching the part he missed; complacency never leaving his features.

 

Eric leaves the room after staring at him for a good long minute.

 

 ……………………………………………

 

 

 

 

 Los Angeles, USA

 

  

"How have you been, Louis?"

Louis looks up, continuing to circle his nail bitten thumb on his trouser in a slow motion. Dr. Sarah Sawrey eyes him with an open curiosity. At least her face is void of the general tolerance every doctor hosts up when in front of a patient. But then, he is hardly her patient.

 Dr. Sawrey's office on the 21st floor is anything that came close to what anyone would guess to be abut a regular clinic. From the open glass windows, looking down on the LA streets to the lime and white interiors, it looks modern, and exquisite; welcoming anyone who could afford to step in its doors. The light classical music playing in the background is almost unnoticeable, the sound  tranquilizing and drawing the mind into this gentle touch of serenity.  Sitting in front of the white study desk, he feels less tranquilized though; far from the poise which everything around him making him force-feed.

He wonders if that is what Harry felt every time he came here.

Without attempting a smile to cover up the tension as he might have done any other time, Louis just blinks looking towards her direction.

"I've been better, thanks," he mumbles. He is nervous, and he knows she can tell. Dr. Sawrey smiles at him, as if she did not notice his bouncing leg, his shaking hands, or his eyes that barely meet hers for more than few seconds.

He had been reluctant to meet her today, leaving the penthouse - leaving Harry's side more than anything. Maybe he is a bit frightened to be here as well, more so than he would like to admit. But he knows that coming here was a necessary move though - more important than wallowing in his misery beside Harry's bed, trying not to think about the reason why Harry was lying there at the first place, that it may have been his fault .

He had spent the whole morning watching him, numb with guilt - unable to do or think of anything else. The nurse, who had been sent by Dr. Sawrey last night, had let Louis be, her nose buried in a trillion page novel she had carried in, when she wasn’t tending to Harry.

Louis had watched Harry for hours, taking in every detail of his paled, marred skin, his mess of neglected curls, his beautiful lips, pressed into a thin line, damaged from constant biting, and his  green, unblinking eyes that  gazed into some faraway thought - stuck or lost from the world.  His long limbs and lanky body laid on the bed, completely immobile with a saline tube digging into his lifeless hand. His clothes were removed, sheets drawn over his naked torso.

It was the first time Louis had seen him up close, in his full form like that, since that one time in the hospital bed;  seen him this close without Harry's own endearing presence, their unsettling awkwardness and layers of clothing.

And it had broken him to see.

The countless traces of long-healed scars, merged in with once unmarred, perfect skin. He had slowly, and hesitantly dragged the covers further down to the boy’s  waist, unable to stop himself. Unable to resist  witnessing each and every line that had caused the younger boy pain. Up close, he could trace the healed burn marks - along his torso and chest - where the skin was slightly raised and tinted red. He was sure they had been treated very well and very quickly, because there is no way a third degree burn like the one Harry had could heal this well with such a little scarring.  And it had surprised him to see that the marred tattoos were now whole again, almost covering the scars, as if nothing had happened.

Had Harry gotten them re- done? Could he stand the pain again? Louis couldn't have guessed, not knowing anything about what was going on inside that stressed out head of his. Louis didn’t know what Harry could and couldn’t handle anymore.

But what had stroked him across the head were not the healed burns, nor re-made tattoos - but the thin white lines that gleamed on his arm, neck and left hip, letters that read 'Modest!' in all capitals. There are scars that he randomly spots while examining the burns, lines that he had not seen before, lines which Harry might have been covering up day after day before he stepped out of his room. His insides had clenched remembering the mess of concealer and cover up makeup bottles he had randomly seen in Harry's bathroom yesterday night.

Did they carve the words into his skin to humiliate him? hurt him? Louis remembers the crazy man with the cold cutting stare, and his irked, hateful tone.

How did Harry stand it? How did he stand any of it?

Louis' head sways, unable to fathom the thought inside him.

 

 

"Louis?" Dr. Sawrey calls gently dragging him back to her office room and Louis just stares at her blankly.

"Sorry, I umm... I wasn't listening."

The doctor smiles, opening a locker beside her and taking out a folder. "I wanted to know that if I can offer you some tea or coffee, or anything else - you are more than welcome to." Louis  gazes at the folder she runs her hand over, slightly covering the name on the top as his eyes catch it.

Styles H.E it reads.

"I'm fine, thanks," he says looking up at her again, becoming distracted by the fact that everything he needs to know about Harry's condition might be laid out in that folder.

 

Leaning back in her chair, Dr. Sawrey nods curtly this time, her face more serious, "Mr. Waters told me you were with Harry when he passed out," the doctor begins. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Louis knows this is not a request, she wants him to talk about what happened. Alex, for whatever reason, had not pressured Louis to tell him what happened, not after yesterday night when Louis was still in utter shock. Maybe Alex left it for the doctor to corner Louis, exactly like this.

"I'm not - I don't know what happened" he tries to sound impassive, but utterly fails. He leans to his elbows, running his fingers through his hair - could she notice the utter guilt and fear written on his face? even shame? "Why is he being.. what's wrong with him?"

Dr. Sawrey takes a breath - eying him calmly. Louis wonders whether if she is calm just because she wanted him to talk or if she is actually used to piles of sad confusion and guilt from every human she talks to...

"His mind is in a form of a hibernation. The rush of immediate, high level stress caused his mind and body to disconnect, resulting in the state called Catatonia- defined as muscle rigidity and mental stupor- which is his mind rejecting to deal with whatever happened. His last episodes -" Dr. Sawrey says with sort of a pressure in her words, as if she wanted his full attention," - of the same condition came with distress."

Biting his lip, Louis tries to ignore the prickling in his eyes. He knew what Harry's mind had rejected to deal with that time, Alex had mentioned yesterday. Anne , Harry's mind had refused to face that he had hurt his mother. And this time he had refused to deal with Louis. Louis, who had pushed him too far... forced himself at him, called him names. It was his fault this time. He had sent Harry to a place his mind didn't want to deal with.

"Anne?." he mumbles, unable to stop tears welling up.

The doctor nods, her eyes gentle again. "What happened, Louis?" she asks as he  wipes off his eyes dejectedly. Dr. Sawrey's concerned gaze bores into him, reading every line, every blink and move carefully.

Louis shakes his head, looking down at his hands. "I - I took his dinner to his room. He had been edgy, since Simon came... he was - I think he was upset that day for some reason... I just wanted him to rest... so I - I took dinner to him and ...um ... and I saw that he - he was getting ready to go out. I - I can't stand him wasting away - he was going to come back drunk, with some random chi..- person... he had turned into a ... a sex crazy drunk and I - I couldn't let him go -" wiping his tearing eyes, Louis tried to calm his breath. He hated crying like some pathetic bitch in front of people. But he couldn't help it - he had messed up, he had messed up everything...

"Did you two fight?" Dr. Sawrey asks, voice still calm.

He nods. For a moment Louis thinks the doctor looks almost relieved.

Louis takes a deep breath, attempting to compose himself. "I didn't know what I was doing - I  pushed him to the wall. He didn't fight me much, but he could've- if he tried... but he- I,” squeezing his eyes shut, Louis grips onto his hair - shame, pain and guilt clenching him from each side, suffocating him. Should he tell her? Should he say that he forced himself on Harry? Harry who is sick and probably unstable in his head... What was he thinking? But then again, didn't Harry just let him? Didn't he pant and moan as Louis pressed in on to him? The way his eyes looked - dilated and slightly high as he was aroused-

"Did you try to be intimate with him?" Dr. Sawrey's voice makes him look up at her, eyes welling up once again.

He just nods, sniffing with his admittance.

Resting her face on her palm, she looks at him- calculation eminent in her calm face. Louis does not know what to say for feel rather than shame and tearing guilt. Would the doctor ask him to leave... leave Harry here and go back to London as same as she did with Anne and Gemma? Didn't she ask them to leave because Harry went to the similar state before? Wasn't that what Alex told him?

 

"Louis," She says finally, leaning forward and placing her arms on the table, her tone different. "Harry's sister told me that Harry was... persuaded to stop the relationship he had with you - some two years ago. Did you know anything about it?

Louis just stares, almost shocked at the sudden change in topic. "No - Not until a few hours before the kidnap," he says unable to see the relevance.

The doctor nods, as if it meant something more to her than him, her eyes still set on him. "I don't mean to pry, but I need to know, to understand better - to understand the state of his mind, you can tell me if you can't or don’t want to disclose the information, but how would you explain your relationship with Harry before the break up? Was it a fling, or were you two friends? Was it experimental or more serious? What would you say it was between you two?"

Louis clenches his jaw, trying to hold his stare.

It is not as if many people knew about their relationship. Other than their close friends and family nobody actually needed to know. With their age, it was barely considered to be anything serious by anyone apart from a few anyway. And it always made him feel as if two of them were cornered in this ghost town with vile eyes hovering at them. They looked down on them as if it was a fling, a teenage rush which would pass with time. There were too many calculations, too many speculations and too much judgement - Louis despised the feeling of being judged, he always had.

"We had a relationship. I don't know what else to say" he manages to pull out.

"Two of you lived together for some time, am I right?"

"Yes."

"Until the break up?"

Louis just nods, finding his finger movement more interesting than looking at the doctor's face.

"Would you start from the beginning then," she says gently, making him look up at her. She  gazes back at him expectantly - her face void of speculation and scrutiny. "Tell me what happened, since you two met,”

He knows that he is doing this for Harry, and that it is important to Harry’s healing process - but he feels like he is back in one of the many therapy sessions he went to after Harry had left. He feels the same weariness and unease he had felt there, at least in the beginning of his sessions. But he shakes it off, for the sake of the boy lying on the bed because of him, unconscious to the world around him.

 

So Louis tells her, words spilling from his lips, though he does not know why he is opening up like this for the first time in years, maybe it is the way she asks,  genuinely trying to understand, to help. Or maybe it is just that he wants to loosen up this heavy weight on his shoulders, the guilt he felt for Harry's condition- but for whatever the reason, he starts to talk. There’s nothing to hide, at least not for him.  

He tells her how he, the oldest in the band, had been Harry's appointed guardian when they first started their careers - as Harry was still only tender 16 when the limelight first hit them. He explains how it had been convenient for their work and travel schedules, how Harry moving in with him was the easiest way for him to live in London without his family. He tells her how well they got on from the beginning, how much he, Louis, adored the cheeky boy with a gentle heart and high spirits - who demanded to be loved. He tells her how soon they became friends - and then, more than friends. How they freely and playfully liked each other in simple means... then started being attracted to each other. How his mother and sister started loving Harry as if he was one of their own... and how much time he, Louis, spent with Harry's family. He speaks of the way they clung on to each other in their every step, every move, naively planning their futures together... He tells her how they did not care for the rest of the world until the media started speculating about their sexualities - especially Harry's -  earning side eyes from the management at first and then the backlashes ...

The rumors and gossip that went around the industry and how it all started to blow out of proportion with their popularity increasing - the fame, the money and the undying thirst the media had for them with growing public interest… and then the paparazzi - it was as if each of them had a price on their heads…

He tells her how appointed girlfriends and media stunts started coming into the picture with the need for profile maintenance, PR and more publicity; how their simple happiness became more crowded and complicated. He explains how Harry started going through different friend circles, naively trusting each and everyone he met... the fights that started sending them both into frustration... how he became paranoid over Harry with the feeling that he was losing him.

Then almost reluctantly, Louis talks about Grimy and Douglas Booth, how much Louis despised them and how irritatingly Harry defended them every time - only to ironically let Douglas get into his pants in a one drunken night, setting everything on fire. How, then he, Louis pushed Harry around… angrily and determined to hurt him, no matter how miserably Harry tried to apologize... how he kept kicking him until one day it all crashed... the day that he drunkenly got into a fight with Douglas, seeing him in the same party as them - and the way he got carried away afterwards with his frustration and hurt and anger - how, in his drunk state, he had been rough with him in the bed, making Harry endure purposely, hurting him deliberately... and how he had run away, unable to face him the next day.

He tells her how he had just driven aimlessly and route- less, until figuring that he had made even a bigger mistake... and how he had speeded right back, needing nothing but to take it all back... to beg on his knees to Harry to forgive him for putting  him through what he did the other night... And how desperately and hopelessly he did try to apologize to only to be rejected... rejected by the most forgiving, empathetic soul he had ever known.  

Harry had forgiven Douglas despite of everything, yet he had refused to forgive Louis.

 

"It was not like he couldn't have told me about the management, you know. We were close - as close as any two people could be, though we had ups and downs. It was not the first time they tried to make us quit. He could have told me, but instead he used it to justify his decision to himself...  He just wanted to stick with what he thought was right at that time - I know he did. I know what he's like..." He tells her, feeling distant.

Is there any meaning even thinking about any of it now?

 

"He moved out right away from your shared house, did he?" the doctor asks.

"Yes" Louis feels weary and drained already.

All their senseless mistakes seemed like million ages ago now, that he almost feels foolish acting like he did. Had the incident with Douglas never happened or if Louis had accepted the apology and forgiven Harry earlier, would they still be together? he dares to think...

 

Dr. Sawrey eyes the weary young man in front of her, studying his sleep deprived eyes and unshaved face - things finally lining up in her head, well at least some things.

For the last seven months Harry had been appointed to her, there had been a snail's progress regarding his condition; he had told her absolutely nothing... refusing to talk rather than repeating the phrase, "Don't know " or " Don't remember " like a mantra out of his head. He had even rejected listening to anything regarding the kidnap ... causes, reasons or people behind the kidnap and the pain he had been put through... he acted as if it did not matter to him- as if he preferred existence with ignorance - drawing a blank face whenever he sat in front of her. And he had refused to go back to his work, music, art - unlike most artists might have done...

Group therapy was completely crossed out of the possible treatment methods because she knew it will bring more chaos to him than anything. Going through Harry's medical reports, investigation reports and witness reports, Dr. Sawrey knew reaching into Harry's traumatized mind would be as hard as it could get. When she reached for his previous medical records, prior to the kidnap, Dr. Sawrey had been cautious to find that Harry had already had phases with suppression, and he had been diagnosed and treated for anxiety symptoms. It might have actually been normal to a kid in his situation, with the craze of stardom he is living with. Of course the medical reports itself had listed the work conditions as the cause, yet, Dr. Sawrey had begun to suspect that maybe Harry’s issues ran deeper, graver.

Reaching for Harry’s mind to find a glitch into his troubling thoughts had been impossible so far.  

Harry himself was rejecting to deal with it with any of it with all his might - shutting and locking all doors even to a hint of knocking. His deadpan, blank face had given nothing out unless that one mention of his band-mate... his colleague, Louis Tomlinson . And Dr. Sawrey had soon noticed the unmistakable flinch every time the name comes up... flinch which at times lined up with confusion maybe anger and sometimes guilt... but almost all the time with plainly evident pain . And seeing it she had finally known that she had found the glitch she was looking for to reach into his mind... a crack to peer in. And that was why she had encouraged Tomlinson's presence to Harry's assistance.

 

"Is he going to be alright?" Louis asks to the growing silence in the room. There was an edginess in his tone that was not there moments ago.

"He can be" the doctor says, "... with a lot of help… I would say, with time as well, if he was showing any progress - but there is a ticking clock because his system is beginning to take the supply of tranquilizers for granted. His body can not afford to put up with a dependency on top of everything, so I can not prescribe him his medication unless he starts showing progress. “

Louis just stares at her, his temper slowly swirling. Louis just stares at her, his temper slowly swirling.

“What do you mean? Are you saying that Harry is a lost cause?"

The doctor smiles at him, ignoring his irritated and defying expression. "No, I didn't mean anything as such. But I can't prescribe any more medication to him unless he starts showing progress."

Louis purses his lips to a straight line. He knows pouncing on the doctor is not going to give Harry any solutions, but his fear was stirring inside - he couldn't bear hearing that Harry was not going to come back to his normal self. He would do absolutely anything if he would have to, to get Harry back to his feet. 

 "Alex said we'll have to take him to the hospital if he doesn't wake up by tomorrow"

Dr. Sawrey nods as if she didn’t notice the change of his tone, "It is safer to catatonia patients to be under medical supervision. But we have given him his space due to circumstances... if the condition drags though, it is necessary that we follow the procedures"

"Why is he doing that...I mean I know he doesn’t want to deal with things but - he didn’t want to deal with a lot of things even before… What’s- what's wrong with him now?"

She purses her lips before answering;

"The mind is a strange thing, Louis. When our conscious minds fails to deal with things, the unconscious mind take over. Harry had went through some very severe situations which had affected every aspect of his psychology. The trauma he faced has triggered his mind into conditions that are typical to post trauma victims. Anxiety, bipolar behaviour and elective mutism or choosing not to speak... they are all a part of it… including severe suppression of anything that happened. Catatonic state is the extreme end of all of it where his mind refuses to react anymore specially when hyped. He's in an extreme post trauma disorder which his mind reacts and takes charge....  whenever it feels or assumes Harry is in danger... his mind places him in a immobile place mentally; preventing collapse. For some patients it makes time go slower or maybe like a run through... he's  there, he can see and hear you to an extent but he would not react... it is more like being in a trance form ... body being mindless, almost"

"But... but isn't it like good for him though, like if his mind is protecting him.. placing him in a safer place for him? wouldn't heal him?"

"Mind taking control over is never safe in a victim state as such as Harry's. His mind is triggered - and in an extreme state. Harry's mind is in a state where it mistakes each and every situation to be a possible danger even when it is really not... he doesn't have a control over it. Also, catatonia state can get addictive to the mind - an extreme patient goes into years without waking up -  some does not wake up at all. That's why it's necessary for a patient to be triggered to wake up" she says watching his eyes turn glassy and close to horror struck, unmistakable guilt clenching his features. "You do not have to fear. Harry has so far responded positively  to catatonic treatments. For him it is a state caused by his PTSD, not schizophrenia, which is a lifelong illness. If he does not wake up within the timeframe, we'll wake him up. But keep in mind that he might be in a fragile state either way after the wakeup, mentally... and physically. Completely opposite to whatever the aggression you might have seen from him recently."

Shamelessly wiping his tearing eyes, Louis rests his face on his closed hands - breathing hard.    

"He was never that violent person... the Harry I knew. He was a happy guy no matter what was thrown at him... at least he tried to show that he was. He gets angry, but you won't notice he is unless he tells that he is... or he would just brood until someone asked him what's wrong...  he would never trash around though, he never lost control like this … not ever," With a deep sigh, Louis drags his fingers through his hair and clenches his jaws, "...- and he never went strutting around pubs, drunk ... picking girls and guys like some desperate git... not like this- he was a private person, subtle in his ways -  he would never throw himself out in the open, definitely not to cameras... at least not by choice. But now he seems the opposite. And he's barely talking, he has become resigned . Every time I try to talk to him it's like talking to someone in a different mindset... he had turned to a different person."

 

"Trauma changes a person, Louis. Normalcy can be a hard thing to achieve after you face violence one on one like Harry  did. You know that better than anyone. You were  in fact there" Dr. Sawrey says leaning back to her chair... for the first time Louis senses a calculation in her eyes.

 

"I  know he went through horrible things, but I need to know what really happened. What has got him all fucked up like this. I saw him in the hospital after they rescued us... before he disappeared from there. I spoke with him - he was fine then... I mean -  he was injured but he was fine, unlike now. I just want to know what happened to him while he was here in LA."

The doctor eyes him carefully as if she was calculating her own thoughts in her head. She sighs as she speaks again, tone almost careful and considerate.

"Sometimes mind takes time and space to manifest things on its own after the initial shock.  I had been Harry's doctor for seven months now and so far he had not been forthcoming on discussing much of anything that happened during the two weeks where he was held captive... no matter how much I have tried. His subconscious mind is refusing to let him talk… It’s a severe suppression. I have seen it before couple of times where it happened; mind blocking the thoughts but Harry had been one of the worst so far" She picks the folder laying on her desk, holding it upright. "I meant to simply hand over his file to you to get a better understanding on his condition but... after our discussion today I feel that it’s not the wisest thing. There are things that I need to explain to you before I do that.

Louis nods slowly, fear creeping in a different way. His head feels numb with it. His eyes moves from the doctor's face to Harry's medical folder.

"Harry's medical reports were enclosed only to his immediate family and very few in your management. Everything in here are based on the medical examinations done after the rescue and I won't lie to you, there will be things in here that you might need to brace yourself for." Setting the file down again she clasps her hands, still her gaze at Louis.

"I need to know what they had really done to him, I don't care about anything else" Louis sniffs wiping the tears off his eyes with his trembling hand, but with a maniac determination.  " I just want to know"

Dr. Sawrey gets up and slowly crosses her table, leaning back on it, she sweeps her hands in to her white jacket pockets - standing right in front of Louis. "I'm going to have to talk about the kidnap and the time you were held in that warehouse. Will you be up for it? You can stop me if you feel any discomfort."

Louis just nods, his head getting number every passing moment. He almost shudders as he listens to her voice...

"In your witness report, you have mentioned that Harry was there when you blacked out... that you saw them manhandle him, beat him... and that he already had burn marks when you saw him that time; that he looked weak and bleeding already. Is there anything else that you saw... anything at all that you didn't mention in the reports?"

Louis shakes his head ever so slowly, flashes of Harry on the floor, broken and bleeding, while the set of rowdy men kept kicking him and throwing him around as he whimpered in pain flared in his mind. He silently looks at the doctor who had her eyes fixed on him.

"Tell me what they had done... nothing would be worse than what I saw in front of my eyes"

Looking at him, the doctor nods- her eyes hard and bracing. She sighs before speaking,

"There is no easy way to put this, Louis. Harry had been subjected to violent assaults continuously during the two weeks, I know you might have an idea ...  he had been treated harshly throughout, especially in the end... I'm not sure if you have been there when it happened but, -" the doctors' unblinking eyes looks at him sympathetically,

"- he had been gang raped hours before the rescue" Louis' stomach almost lurches and his  head sways, the sight of the doctor blurring in front of him. Yes, he had considered the possibility of assault but he had dismissed the very thought of it months ago... he had refused to occupy with the thought, refused to believe that happening to Harry, his Harry. He bites on his knuckles to prevent his heaving breaths sounding too harsh as Dr. Sawrey keeps talking gently.

" The forensic evidence suggests that the sexual abuse had been ongoing as same as other assaults... And there are many evidence in both medical and investigation reports to suggest that he had been mentally abused as same as physically."

"W- what evidence? What d-do you m-mean" Louis asks, his voice shattering through the words. His eyes on the floor, he leans forward,  resting his elbows on knees trying not to tear off his hair with his own hands.

"For one, his tests were positive for Diamorphine - heroin as you surely already now... also he was positive for a hardcore stimulant, which must have stimulated him sexually, possibly against his will.” Louis just grips on his hair, blowing out his breaths slowly, as the doctor kept talking. “ -... for a victim to face that sort of a thing during an assault is far complicating than just being held against his will -  generally it results inevitable conditions of self blame and confusion, inability to separate the act of force and will. We have no way of knowing how it had really affected him mentally because he refuses to speak. Also his medicals had reported that upon the rescue, he suffered from a temporary nerve damage... suggesting that he had been put through electro shocks, continuously - whether it was just to cause pain or any other reason, we still don't know. And it is reported evidence that he had been subjected to kind of sensory deprivations - kept in cold storage room under freezing temperatures...-"

Dr. Sawrey stops as Louis gasps with a sob, burying his eyes in both of his hands, unable to take it anymore.  His shoulders shaking as he continues to sob into his hands which was the only thing he could do at the moment.

He cries... cries hard until he almost feels numb, sat in the doctor's office..., he cries until his mind refuses to do it anymore. Pain, hate and anger consuming him… eating him mercilessly, more than ever...

why? why would anyone do such things to anyone? he couldn't comprehend.

The man who was behind it, Nick or Moth or whoever, he was a fucking lunatic - Louis knew, agents, the doctors had explained to him... but how the fuck could it justify any of it? what in the name of god had they done to Harry? How is it possible that Harry is even alive? How long is he going to survive with this? Who is to blame? Who is to take the responsibility? their security? Paul? Management? Brad? Simon? the fucking group of thugs who had disappeared into thin air? or the lunatic psychopath who had tortured Harry with an inch of his life? Or was it the dead fucking Danny or whoever? Who is to blame? who is to take the responsibility?

Who ever it was, Louis wants them to suffer like Harry had suffered, still suffering even after everything had ended...

He wanted them to suffer limb to limb... bone to bone.

He doesn't know how long it takes him to calm himself down, but he does, with every ounce of control he had got... he forces himself to look up at the doctor, gripping at his own mess of a hair.

 

"I'm not going to lie to you, Louis ... Harry would never be the person he used to be... not for a long time at least. The things that we have evidence of what he went through is more than enough for a person to be permanently affected. It will be in his mind no matter what he'll do... or where he go. I'm not trying to put you down. ... don't get me wrong in this. There is no such a thing as complete healing for his condition... But with right therapy and assistant he can get better, by acceptance and learning to live with it"

"It's been nine months, doctor," Louis nearly snaps, rage and sorrow choking him alive, " - it's nine fucking months... And you told me you have been his doctor for seven of them. Won't he have shown some progress if he was going to get better at all?"

The doctor lightly sighs - sympathy clear in her face as she looks at him.

"He will, eventually. Harry had some inevitable conditions due to the stardom and situation you'll are in, and he faced some complications which fuelled the suppression; the accident with his mother and some other incidents that affected him deeply. But now he is running out of time,  he has to find the need to heal himself sooner than later... courage to ask help. He needs to be willing to accept help. And once he’s willing, he will need time... time deal with things on his own. What you and me can do is to give him that... time, assistance, comfort... so he can find courage to accept what happened to him. But first he need to be probed out of this self refusing state"

Shaking his head slightly Louis gets up from the chair, head still heavy as same as his reddened eyes. He watches the vehicles driving down the window.

 "I don't think I can be any help for that. He fucking hates me." He says sweeping his hands in to  his jean pockets.

"I don't think that's true, Louis"

Louis doesn't reply to that, eyes still gazing at the passing vehicles aimlessly as pangs of guilt and regret stings every inch of his skin. He bites on his lip hard... The smooth bronze curls, panting breaths and the soft wine lips... the thought of last night almost breaks him to pieces all over again. Why did he do that, why? Louis squeezes his eyes tight. He refuses to let tears spill out of his eyes... not again. The doctor had seen him crying like a bitch enough for a day. So he changes the subject to the one other thing which haunts him to the core... pricking his head like a thorn.

"If he's not accepted or dealing with it, why is he acting the way he is? If he faced something horrible as as... -" he swallows not being able to spell it out, "If he went through- that, how come he's going around looking for it? Shouldn't he be avoiding... unwilling to - to... why is he being... being-"

"Being sexually active?" Dr. Sawrey spells out as Louis turns with a slight nod, wiping his nose.

"In common knowledge, he should be unwilling... Many victims shy away from intercourse after sexual assaults, especially women... mainly because of the memories, flashbacks - but sometimes the reactions for rape can be completely opposite... contradicting... victims can become hypersexual. It clashes with the usual PTSD conditions sometimes and it is a typical situation in rape trauma syndrome. After facing an assault, a person can become hypersexual in a sense to find control ... to sort of restore control to a measure... it is more common with men than women. Desire or pleasure has very little to do with what Harry is going through now... or doing now. It is more of a desperation, fear that he tries to hide from, run from. To be in control, I have explained this to Agent Waters, because he needed to be aware, Harry can press himself with certain sexual acts but he's unable to stand anything diverting. I'm sure you noticed that from what happened last night. He's finding an absent need to indulge in sexual activities where he has control, but he cannot bare to do the other way around. So you have to understand that nothing he does now is free from what he went through in that warehouse. If you are willing to help him, you need to understand that; be patient with him... gentle with him. "

Louis just stares at the doctor's calm but insistent eyes as he slowly takes his seat again, feeling weaker and lost every passing moment...

Memories of each and every person Harry came in with ghosting his mind... every face, every nameless stranger - the way Harry avoided looking at Louis each time... the way he behaved, almost resigned and dead inside as he dragged them into his room, or let them play with his body - going into a sort of a robotic motion, now he comes to think of it. He realizes that Harry had never really let anyone take control over him all those times. All the strangers he brought home had just followed his cues and done what he wanted. The only times he had seen Harry giving up control were the day he first saw him in the club and yesterday night. And both had been utterly disastrous and had ended with Harry on bed with pumped up drugs... how could have he missed the very symptoms that had thrown out at his face?

Why had he failed to notice?

Harry had screamed and cried to his face, saying he didn't need him... that he didn't need his help or his presence. He had seen the hurt and hate in Harry’s eyes as clear as day. Why would the Dr. Sawrey think he had any better chance in helping Harry than anyone else? Harry might not hate him enough to strangle him but he was sure as hell angry with him for intruding into this whole thing.

"I'm not sure if I'm the right person to be around him at this stage... I'm not sure he feels any comfort being around me... he barely looks at me and he wouldn't as hell talk to me... He looks at me as if he's ready to run away from me. If anything, he will despise me more now after yesterday..."

"That is for him to decide, Louis, though somehow I doubt that."

"Me being here is just a burden for him to bare, doctor. He's struggling his head off to wake up in the morning and pass through the day with all the baggage. I was nowhere near to save him from the hell he went through then, and I'm nowhere there now. I'm as useless to him as those fucking concealer bottles he had been using to hide his scars all this time. He knows it as well as I do. He never wanted me to come here. I'm nothing to him anymore"

"You have been a part of his life, Louis, as same as you believe he has been yours. You are important to him...

"Why?" Louis asks, feeling desperate to believe just that but unable to find even a one good sign or a reason for Harry to need him. "Why would he need me?"

The doctor stares at him, her calculating eyes watching him again. Louis doesn't know if it was the sympathy or empathy that reflects from her eyes. She checks her watch then, for a slightly longer time before eying him again - calmer this time.

 

"I would like to tell you a little story, if you are willing to listen. A story about two boys ... told maybe  in a different perception." Louis stares at her, unblinking, unable to read anything in her face. He doesn't move as the doctor continues,

"A story about two boys who met in a reeled up, lit up context... far from their homes and comfort zones. One, grown trying to warm up to older figures, to fill  the blanks from losing the close connection, attachment he had with his father since his parents divorced... tormented by abandonment issues due to this, unknown even to his parents. Youngest, he was open and happy to the outside world - charming and loved easily...  accepting love with open arms - on the other hand, expecting... demanding others to love him."

Tilting her face slightly, Dr. Sawrey pauses then - enduring his sharp almost challenging stare, waiting her to analyse him, them - for him - if she could.

"The other, eldest to his family - worried by rejection - rejection of fathers who left, urged to grow up fast because he had to be the man of the house with expectations to fulfill the duties of a big brother, to supply support, love... instinct to give protection - a caregiver. Both came from the same story of broken families but with very different expectations - experiences...maybe  like in a two sides of the same coin, or two hands in a handshake... and these expectations fits so well that they practically find home with each other -find their comfort zone; home away from home. This is enough to form an attachment between them... and then an attraction. And as normal human reactions work, they fall in love, as we say in English. But under the limelight, as you well explained, they both get caught up in the middle of a whirlwind of celebrity world… and things become complicating, tense...The first one still expects to be loved, protected... taken care of, while the other still urges to give his love and protect - but they both twirl in mutual fear of losing, being left behind by each other... they misread their missteps, trying to prove each other wrong. In the end they leave each other bowing down to their own demons... one with sense of abandonment and the other with rejection.”

The doctor pauses as Louis breaths on to his palm, his eyes almost glassy and lips bitten harshly - but she continues.

“One who think he's rejected, band-aids things with the only way he knows - pretending to be moving on- convincing him and others that he is better off, because he’s angry and embarrassed, feeling unwanted. But the other panics... doubtful of the very things he was sure of. He doesn't try to find or pretend peace... he mocks his own self in desperation for attention... hoping the other would come back to him; fight for him, which he later considers to be a lost case. But somewhere between everything, his actions causes another chain of reactions which hits back at him in the most unexpected way in an unexpected time... resulting -"

 

" What - what are you trying to say?” Louis cuts in suddenly, his piercing eyes shooting daggers. His face turning red with pain, hurt and anger flashing out. “Are you saying that I abandoned him and that he accidently fucked that looser, Danny Ray to death because of me? Are you blaming me for this whole fucking fiasco?"

"Louis"

The doctor purses her lips looking away, almost as she expected him to react this way.

"Did you bloody ask Simon to make me come here so you can tell me that I'm the reason that psychopath tortured Harry to madness?? So I'll take the blame? Is that why you wanted to talk to me? to convince me?"

"No, Louis. I wanted to talk to you because I needed to confirm the type of relationship you had with Harry… Because the mention of your name was the only way I got an any kind of a reaction from him… and if you are willing,... to ask you to help to make Harry loose enough to talk. I don't believe you have anything to do with what happened in that warehouse"

"Then who fucking does? You just said-"

"I think Harry does" the doctor cuts in, her calm voice haunting than calming. Louis just stares dumbstruck, words failing him. He could feel his hands tremble on his lap.

"What?" He manages barely. His whole body shuddering, his chest heaving as if he had run a mile.

Dr. Sawrey keeps her eyes at him, at his tensed, paling face in a silent consideration.

"Harry had not been most open about his thoughts. But considering his previous medical records and the sessions I had with him, his reactions and dejection to you...  I have strong implications to believe that he does." She binds her arms on her chest carefully, still not looking away. "Don't get me wrong here... I don't think he blames you for anything that happened in that warehouse,... it's more like he faults you for what he , himself did - or what his tormentor had him believe he did to spark the chain of events. He might even be in a stage to blame himself for what happened there if anything... for the struggles he has with self worth and self blame - I don't know still for sure...,"

She looks away then, shaking her head slightly with a sigh.

"In his previous medical records he had been clinically diagnosed with symptoms of anxiety, and separation depression -  around the time you mentioned your relationship ended - though the causes indicated are his work conditions and stress, now I have reasons to believe that this break up might contributed somehow; he had been on medication for about five to six months.” Binding her arms on her chest she looks at his pain filled, tearing face with an insistence,  “I’m not sure if you already knew,...  but I need you to understand.  Your input might be more important to him than you realize. I need to find the layers he's trying to hide or not deal with because his mind is telling him not to face them. To do that I need him to talk. Find the need to seek help so we can help him. There is no other way. Harry need to step up and fight for himself if he need to heal. More than anything, he needs to step up and ask for help.  I can't help him otherwise, not anyone for that matter. He's still severely suppressing -  I know this might feel like I'm asking you to find a miracle... but I believe you can help him to come out of it."

 

 

 

On the way back to the penthouse, Louis does not utter a word to Alex. He watches the passing road through the tinted window, head pressed to the cool glass, his tingling fingers clutching Harry's medical folder on his lap.

His head feels as if it had been grinded - each and every word spoken in the doctor's room haunting him like a spiteful spirit.

Does Harry really think Louis was the reason he got into this whole fiasco?... the reason that he met with Danny Ray in the first place?

Does he really believe that?

Was this it? Was this why Harry accused him of leaving him? "-You left me when I needed you..." Harry's tear pouring face flashes in front of his mind, spiking him - choking him.

Was this why Harry had hidden from him - failing to face Louis without blaming him? Because Louis just didn't fight hard enough to stop him when Harry broke it off?

Was that what he wanted? For Louis to stop him? Fight for him?

Why didn't he just tell him? Why in the world...?

Did Harry watch him hitting it off with El thinking he, Louis just moved on? Did he really believe that Louis just used him and ditched him? abandoned him?

Does he really believe that Louis left him when he needed him?... needed Louis to step forward and claim him? But if he does believe that, won't he at least slightly feel that Louis had some part in everything else he went through as well?

His fingers tightens the grip on the folder with whitening knuckles. They have fucking tortured him out of guts. They had ...they had abused him every single way possible... He knew they kept him drugged and he knew they had beaten him black and blue... he had seen the scars, wounds - back in the warehouse even. But he never imagined- never thought this much. Why... how - why didn't he know? why didn't he see?

Eyes tightly shut, he presses his head into the glass holding back the urge to hit it into the glass.

 

...............................................

 

 

 

 

 

"-... it's coming out nicely. But I wish we had couple of more days to finish it, you know. We could have actually finished it. I tried putting in words but it's not as same as both of us doing it, you know. So I'm focusing on keying now." Liam goes on as Louis absently runs his fingers on the black letters on the pale white, only half listening.

Pages of Harry's medical report clutched between fingers, Louis presses his other hand to his face... wiping the trickling tears silently. He doesn't want Liam to notice in the other end. Propped on his bed, he had only been able to go through half of the first page of the A4 sized medical folder before dialling Liam - without a reason or a logic. He just needed to hear someone's' voice... someone who knew them - both of them.

"Tommo ... you still there?"    

Louis presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose, trying not to shake.

"Tommo?"

Taking a breath he lightly clears the throat first, but his tone sounds slightly scraped. "Yeah...yeah, umm ... can't you get Julian to work with it a bit more...  maybe get Niall in as well"

Liam doesn't speak for a moment.

"Yeah... think that's a good idea" Silence... "Is umm... is everything good, Tommo?"

"Yeah... all fine"

"Harry's behaving, is he?"

Louis grips his phone tight. "He's umm ... he's ... yeah" He doesn't tell Liam... he couldn't.

Silence.

"You good? Sounds a bit different from this end"

"I errr... sore throat ... changing weathers. Gets me every time. What's Zayn been up to?"

Liam waits a second before answering,... things are rarely  un-noticed by Liam... but he doesn't push like he usually does.

"He was there yesterday. Asked about you and Haz ... you know, but honestly I'm not sure what's going on with him... guess he needs some time away. Maybe Shahid's helping... I'm not sure... he's not the most talkative when he's in the mood as you know. But we'll sort it out. Don't worry about it ... you have enough in your pocket"

Louis doesn't say anything to that. If Liam had any idea... if any of them had any idea…

"I'm thinking of coming over..." Liam says then - "Maybe three of us can pay a visit you know - see Harry and chill for a day or two. You think he'll be up for it?"

"I - err -" Louis stammers, lost for words. He bites his lip... "I'll ask him." he mumbles putting away the folder and drawing one of his knees closer.

"No, yeah... I know. I was just thinking. No rush... we'll make a plan though - when he's ready."

"Yeah..." Louis leans back resting his head on the headboard, wondering if they'll ever reach that point.

"Is he ok?" Liam presses. "I - I know he's not but..-"

Liam sounds worried. Louis knows Liam is. He had always been since Louis came to LA. Both Niall and Zayn had messaged him at least  several time a week but Liam had called him or messaged him everyday, though Louis had sometimes not answered or replied. But that had not seemed to bother Liam.

"He's... - he will be” Louis sounds weak and dull as he finally says.

He hears Liam sigh in the other end.

"I know" Liam says thoughtfully. Silence sweeps in between them again, with spaced out thoughts and maybe memories... back in the hospital maybe, When Liam had looked after Harry while Louis was unconscious on his bed. Louis would be in debt to Liam forever for that.

Louis hears voices in the other end... maybe Sophia's, maybe Niall's as well... in distance though. Liam had not mentioned that he had company.

"Listen, Louis..." Liam says, his voice deeper and a bit raspier than normal, "I know I've said this but... I'm glad you are doing this for him, even after everything... everything, you know. You won't believe how glad I am, truthfully. And I don't think you really know how much this will mean to him... you know"

Louis wipes his cheeks as he feels tears creeping down on his cheeks. Blocked nose and damp face... he grips on his hair as he runs his fingers through his head, clutching the phone tighter to his ear.

"Liam..." he blurts not caring if Liam noticed his tear doped voice. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure... Yeah" Liam sounds sincere, his voice even deeper and slower.

"When we broke up - you know ... like ... when he said he want to quit - us...," Louis bites his lip mid sentence, not knowing how to word it anymore, "Ummm d-  do... do you think he wanted me to ... to - you know, like -  to convince him otherwise?... like  ... you know.. make him stay? Do... do you think he just did it because ... because he wanted me to stop him... like ... breaking up?"

Liam doesn't speak for a moment, Louis could hear him gripping his phone though - and maybe clutching his hair.

"You think he wanted me to chase and stop him?"

"Louis..."

"Tell me"

Liam sighs again - wearily this time. "He  came up with that sappy song, didn't he?"

"Song?"

"Pathetic one which got out in the net later - the demo. Don't let me go?"

Louis doesn't reply, not knowing what to say. Not knowing what to think. Yes, he does remember that one... the one which got released to the net by some wako playing shit. They all had a bloody laugh at it and teased Harry about it for a long time - to it's sappy tone and line of thoughts which didn't mean much unless you had access to Harry's head. Whatever it hinted on at the time it got released, Louis ignored it for the sake of their slowly amending friendship again. But Louis remembers how embarrassed Harry had looked when he it became a joke to them, defensive as always but embarrassed none the less.

 

 

After ending the call, Louis makes himself almost drown under his shower ... standing there for the splashing hot water to ease his heavy mind with tormenting thoughts. Harry used to do this... he remembers - he probably still does. But unlike for Harry, Louis doesn't feel any less heavy even after spending there what seemed like hours. His head almost feels puffed with steam and his skin was red when he finally stepped out of the bath room. He only spares a glance at the scattered medical files on the bed as he leaves the room with fresh clothes.

The nurse only looks at him once as he enters Harry's room, diving again into her book - pretending she is a part of the chair. Had she ever left the room since yesterday night? he wonders…

Louis closes in on the bed, to Harry's prone form lying in the  middle of the plush white mattress, one hand attached to a slow dripping drip. Carefully, he sits in the corner and watches him, his blank, unmoving face with dull open eyes... looking nowhere.

Could he see him in front of him now? could Harry hear him...? if he spoke? Dr. Sawrey said most catatonia patients saw and heard everything happening around them, just in sort of an out of body experience. Would Harry hear him?... if he said the things that he wanted to say to him... but never really got to say no matter how much they spent time in front of each other... hiding from each other?

The sheets were half drawn to his chest as always, the black ink and healed scars visible under the brightly lit room. Surely the light did not bother him even it was lit throughout the night and day... His skin seemed fresh and smooth - like he had been washed recently. The bronze curls freely spread around Harry's head, tangled and a mess. Maybe he should ask the nurse if they can try and give it a wash. Louis thinks, sweeping few stray strands out of his face... and moving to lightly touch the pale cheek, down to the jawline... Thick angular brows, bow lips, green almond eyes and the steady, pointed nose... the face that he felt so close to yet so far away. Looking at him, Louis could not fathom anything that he knew had happened to him. How broken and damaged he must be inside after so much pain and horror...

Leaning in, he carefully keeps running his thumb on his white skin.

"Haz," he whispers looking into his blank green eyes. Searching for his hand, Louis gently clutches it, lifting it up and lightly gripping on it.

"Harry... can you hear me?" he tries as his eyes starts to well again for the hundredth time that day... but he doesn't wait until it spills. He closes his eyes, tightening the grip just a little - as if he almost expected to feel a tiniest grip back...like in a miracle - But he does not. He opens his eyes and looks at his face closely, noticing every mark, every line and  every freckle... everything that his eyes could take; he looked angelic no matter in what condition - he truly did.

He loved this boy so much that it almost broke him, right there, right then.

Yes, maybe Louis did start wanting him because Harry eagerly accepted the care Louis needed to give out - to have the upper hand and be valid... to be important in someone's life... Maybe that was why, as Dr. Sawrey explained, that they fit in like two puzzle pieces in the beginning. It was an infatuation, a passion that felt too right. Harry trusted Louis and gave himself to Louis without exceptions,  followed his cues and looked at him as if he struck the moon in the sky for him. But along the way, there were so much more into them than feeding their demons... There were so many gaps they filled in for each other, so many unlevelled things that got levelled between them which they did not realize until it all got lost. They had fallen for each other ... they had fallen in love, young as they were...  He had fallen in love with this boy. Maybe even 'losing' each other fuelled their force field, fuelled the infatuation they had for each other - kept the flame still burning because they knew the high they carried for each other.

How could Harry even think Louis purposefully ditched him ... left him high and dry?

Why did he ever think that? Didn't he know Louis enough to realize how bad Louis reacted then he was poked and tested? And how irrational and how stupid he acted when he felt he was losing Harry? At that time Louis couldn't even stand anyone else so much as sparing a second glance at Harry. He had been so pathetically jealous of him.

Placing the lifeless hand back slowly, Louis presses his knuckles to his own mouth - gently running the other along his pale face.

"I'm sorry -" he whispers to him close, his voice almost breaking,

"I'm so sorry I hurt you, love... I'm so sorry that you felt I left you ... made you feel that I left you - when you needed me..." He sniffs and bites his lip, running his fingers into the curls, gently,

"I'' so - so sorry." he repeats breathing in to his hand. "But I never really left, Haz… I never can even if I tried... So you see… why you can’t do this to me?

You need to come back ... you need to come back to me, love ... come back ... Please, come back."

 

 

Chapter Text

 Thanks to lovely they_make_me_weak  for her edits in the very first part of the story.

 

                               

 

 8 . Wake Me Not, I Rather Dream Of You

 

 

 

Harry

 

He feels light... nice and light; a million miles away from everything that matters.

Nothing … nothing actually matters anymore, a feeling of serenity completely enveloping him. There is nothingness and white light surrounding him. He feels detached from everything- pain, fear, guilt, memories and people; the absolute numbness engulfing him like a warm mellow blanket.

Time has slowed down for him, only him- like a personal favor- while everything around him goes on like a blurred time-lapse movie, he has all the time in the world. It was relieving, comforting and nice.

There are occasional moments where he witnesses consciousness, blurred lines of people and echoes around him but he ignores them quite easily. He spends hours and hours going to his happy places in life: simple things he had almost forgotten in his dark time… things like his first trip to Paris with Gemma and his father when he was just twelve; the day his step-father took him to the pub and allowed him to sing karaoke in front of at least twenty people with rain of praises and compliments for his singing voice... his step-father had beamed and winked at him watching his glowing face; the day he was unexpectedly put into a band with four other lads when he thought he had been eliminated from x factor; the laughs and good times they all had with silly jokes and the world completely at their feet; how proud his mother was, and how proud he was because he had put a permanent smile on her face. And Louis , his Louis with his feather soft hair and warm blue eyes. Louis -who cared for him, loved him, adored him - was practically obsessed with caring for him like he was this pup who was given to Louis to look after. The gentleness and innocence from the boy that had turned into passion and pleasure, everything he had ever needed...

The touch of his skin and feel of is lips on his body - gentle but demanding, soft but burning, tearing but pleasing. The way he used to engulf him, lift him in to another existence by making him completely come undone... Wreck him in to nothingness and kiss him back to wholesomeness.

If he could, he would have stayed right there forever and ever, in his happy places. There were no worries, tears, nightmares, panics- only warmth, pleasure and perfection; peace and happiness - he could convince himself that nothing bad happened, absolutely nothing. That nothing had changed from those moments. He was safe and happy with the perfect whiteness, nothingness.

Absolute, flowing nothingness.

But then, suddenly, something started changing. Something breaching into his safety bubble, pulling him, sucking, him out of it - shattering his peace. He pressed his eyes shut and tried to hold on, to retreat back to his safe place... hide, so that no one can find him. But it was too late- he was being yanked back, harshly, forcefully at first- out of his serenity, out of the comfort of nothingness and perfection- back to terror and pain.

He was being yanked out; further and further- against his will, though with a dying speed and force now, back to the definite savage darkness, to merciless consciousness waiting to restrain him, strangle him like a hungry python.

 

……………………………………

 

 

 Louis

 

“There’s nothing to be worried about." Louis hears for what feels like millionth time. "He won’t feel anything at all.” 

They were in the waiting room while Harry’s being anesthetized in the prep room. The doctors had explained the whole procedure step by step just moments ago; and if everything goes accordingly, Harry will be waking up within ten to twenty minutes after the ECT - as the anesthetic wears off.

 

“They’ll be monitoring him throughout. If any complications come, he’s still in good hands.” Dr. Sawrey says gently. “You don’t need to see this if you prefer not to, Louis. You can wait here. They will send for you once he’s awake”

Louis just shakes his head biting his knuckle. He feels as if he was trembling, “I want to be there” he says sparing a glance at the good doctor. “I can’t let him go through it alone. Not this time”

The doctor nods, lightly patting his arm reassuringly. “There’s nothing to worry” she repeats calmly.

It was kind of Dr. Sawrey to show up even though she was not performing the procedure, he knew, Maybe she felt how shaken he felt about this whole thing. Scarcely Louis had heard about ECTs and even that was in some freakish psychotic movies he had ever regretted watching. He had no real clue about anyone being given Electro Convulses - and it makes him as scared as fuck. He’s unable to believe that Harry won’t feel electric waves going through his brain no matter how logically it was explained to him that Harry would be sedated during the whole process. It seemed quick and effective operation, yes, yet shocking the brain with fucking currant couldn’t possibly be as simple as it was explained to him by the bloody doctors - especially if they are using it as the last bloody resort. Louis wished for the thousandth time that he hadn’t seen those bloody videos and movies with ECTs, where people were strapped and shocked into insanity.

 Louis rubs at his face nervously, his insides shaking.

 

He eyes Alex in the other corner, who is rapidly typing in his phone.  “How far is she?”

Sending whatever the message he was typing, Alex steps closer with a slightly concerned look. “They just left the airport. It’s going to take at least half an hour with the traffic”

 

Gemma was on her way, but Louis knew it is impossible for her to be here on time with such short notice. At least she would be here when Harry wakes up - hopefully. He grips his toes inside his shoes thinking of the awkward phone conversation he had with her the day before. It had been the first time Louis had spoken to her after everything. And he dreaded facing her if anything.

Cutting their tensed waiting short, a nurse hurriedly walks into the seating area, her mask off the face. “We are ready” she announces eying all three of them, but pausing her eyes on Dr. Sawrey. “Please follow me”

 

She leads them towards a corridor and then to a small viewing area, overlooking a - what looks like a - examination theater with dozen of beeping machines and screens. Louis peeps into the glass window to see nurses and the doctor hurrying around.  Harry is on the bed, dressed in hospital cloths, unconscious as he is. Covered with sheets; he seemed to be attached to several tubes, kind of peg like wires pasted on to his forehead. Louis watches as a nurse insert a sort of a oxygen mask to his face while a nurse administers injections into the cannula fixed in his hand. Within moments he could see Harry’s fingers starting to twitch but the rest of the body was static as dead weight.

As the nurses secure both of Harry’s twitching hands to the bed with straps, Louis bites on his already paining knuckle hard to stop him hissing sounds of distress.

“It’s the psyculations - he’s been given muscle relaxant to prevent going to a fit when the electro convulses passes. The straps will stop unguided movements. He’s ready now” Dr. Sawrey says calmly  as Louis shakingly watches them insert a mouth guard into Harry’s slackened mouth. Alex grips his shoulder lightly from the side and Louis almost flinches at the touch with his eyes locked to the doctor inside who comes to stand behind Harry’s head, holding two wired electrodes. He places them either side of Harry’s scalp, right on the temples.

 

There was no sound, nothing at all from the sealed operation room, but in the next second Harry’s body thrusts up violently, strained and rigid- Louis squeezes his own shirt tightly with his hand and his mouth with the other - forcing himself to watch. His head goes numb as same as his heart. He doesn’t know how long he stays like that, still as dead - ears deaf with white noise; watching the doctor remove the electrodes and Harry’s unconscious body starts to tremble rapidly and violently with the aftershock.

“It’s ok. He’ll be fine,” Alex says slowly, tightening his grip on Louis’ shoulder. “It’s done.”

 

Louis robotically follows Alex and Dr. Sawrey back to the waiting area, his head still blocked with deafening white noise and numbness. He sits on the blue couch, burying his face on his trembling hands. He feels Alex squeeze his neck from where he stood next to him, but Louis doesn’t look up at him. Harry would wake up any minute now and all he wanted to do was to hold him, tuck him in his arms and tell him that it’s all going to be ok. He will make it all ok.

Seconds and minutes pass by, turning his impatience slowly to a fear and a building panic. Fifteen minutes but still no one had come to call them in. No one with news of Harry waking up. Dr. Sawrey had gone in after few minutes they came to the waiting area, leaving Alex and Louis to wait. Every time someone passes - Louis almost jumps at his feet to hear something, anything... absolutely anything.

Didn’t Harry wake up?

Did it not break him from his subconscious space or whatever? The doctors assured that the procedure had worked for him the previous time, but what is the guarantee that it will work this time? He had been told that if he did not wake up, they’ll have to take him in again - repeat the process with a slightly higher electro level; continue with a lapse until he wakes up. Was that what's going on? Dr. Sawrey had explained that there might be gaps in Harry’s memory for a about a month as a minor side effect.. What if after everything Harry wakes up with no memory at all?  What would he do?

 

Closer to an hour later Gemma arrives, yet there was still nothing on Harry. Louis remains in his seat while Alex steps forward as if to greet her; but instead of a handshake or any official gesture, Gemma quickly pecks on his lips almost casually, concern lined in her eyes as she hugs him then. Louis pretends not to see. Hugging himself he starts slightly rocking back and forth, his mind rising at the presence of her.

Does she know it was his fault that Harry is here?

 “Anything yet?” Gemma asks letting Alex go.

Alex turns and looks back at Louis almost awkwardly for a second, “No. Nothing yet.”

“How did it go?”

“Same I guess”

Gemma nods; her features strained. Sweeping her hand on his arm, she walks towards Louis then - There is a combination of sadness and sympathy lined in her face, as well as something unreadable... He avoids looking at her directly, his courage thinning with each of his blink. He continues to slowly rock his self hugged form.

Gemma sits beside him when he doesn’t look up at her. “Hi, Louis,” she sighs.

He eyes her almost nervously. Her face was tired and weary, surely with lack of sleep - but there was something sceptical about the way she is looking at him, and he couldn’t blame her.. after all this time. It was the first time he sees her after in the hospital in London all those months back... since she and Anne took Harry away - away from him.

“Glad you are here” she says simply, her face not betraying anything else as he keeps looking at her. He just nods, words failing him.

They sit silently afterwards, no one attempting conversation to exceed impatience or tension.  

 

A little after Gemma’s arrival, Dr. Sawrey comes back, closely followed by the doctor who led the procedure. They explain to them that Harry had gone to a state of a panic and a seizure upon his wake up and had to be sedated with Ativan. Since it is expected in some cases of catatonia it had been a controlled outcome. Now, Harry was slowly waking up under the influence of the strong sedative and they explained it would take around one week for Harry to regain full recovery in his motor skills and behaviour as they reduce the Ativan doses gradually.

Since both the doctors recommended Harry to stay overnight at the hospital, Louis tells Gemma to go and get some rest - there was no use in her tired self staying back for hours more until they were given the green light to see Harry if he is being released tomorrow. Louis stays back, assuring Gemma that he would bring her brother back as safe as he could. No matter how much Louis tried to convince Alex that there is no need for protection in a hospital, Alex assigns two guards before leaving with Gemma, promising to come back as soon as he dropped her in the penthouse.

 

When Louis was led into Harry’s room at last, Harry seemed to be almost fully awake.

He was still in a hospital gown and there was an IV drip attached to his hand as it had always been since past days. Harry’s face looks impassive and calm as he stares at his side - the night view out of the window. He seems weak - like as if he had just recovered from some sort of a stroke; face slack and eyes unfocused . He doesn’t look at Louis nor move much; if not for the steady and calm blinking he would have still looked like he was in his catatonic sleep.

Louis knows this is his medicine working - keeping him calm and restrained to composure, away from his overwhelming emotions.

The nurse leaves Harry on Louis’ watch, promising to come back when it’s time for Harry’s next dose, also telling him that he might sound a bit confused for a while. Louis sits on the chair beside the bedside and silently watches him, unable to think of a way to reach him - or not knowing if it is fine to even talk to him in this stage.

 

“H- how - was …  how was I - how long was I - I out. This… time?” Harry doesn’t look at Louis as he asks, voice raspier and morbid than ever. His face doesn’t change at all, nor the blinking.

“Five days” Louis says slowly, noticing the wobble in his speech. Harry’s long fingers slightly twitches on the bed - Louis almost wants to take it - hold it with his own but he was not sure how Harry would react, so he retrains himself.

“When do you - When. Did you co-me?”

Louis bites his lip, pressing his fist to his cheek. Can’t he remember??... he felt like breaking. He did this to Harry. He did,... Harry wasn’t his normal self but he was coping. No matter how wounded and broken, he was standing up on his own and trying to cope. And Louis had ruined it, ruined it with his useless temper and stupidity.

He did this to him...

“I was... I was here for almost three weeks now, love” he gets out with an effort.

Harry looks at him for the first time then, turning his face only slightly; his eyes directly at Louis - his green sleepy eyes.

“Sorr-y. I’m I - head - dizzy” he says almost shyly as if he made a mistake.

 

And Louis couldn’t stop himself; he reaches and covers the warm, pale hand on the bed with his own -lightly squeezing it, eyes getting blurry and hopeful. “It’s alright, love… it’s alright. I’m here, ok? I’m not going anywhere.”

Harry turns his eyes back to the window - face as impassive again. “OK” he breaths out.

 

It was not as if Harry doesn’t remember- the nurse explains to him later - it’s that his thoughts are still jumbled and details are missing; so he’s less emotional to them, making him a bit more lighter… happier maybe, even though with all the wobbliness. Memories will start coming to him gradually, within an hour or two - sometimes taking a week or two to complete.

A sad part of Louis almost feel glad to see him relieved from the details of those horrific memories even for a little bit.

 

True to the nurse, the confusion in Harry’s memory does not last more than hours - though there seem to be clear gaps - it was coming back to him; little by little. Louis could feel it for sure. Harry’s initial talkativeness doesn’t last either. As his memory starts clearing, he seems near a brim of another break down. It was clearly the medication that holds him through, calming him, gluing him to a sort of a numbness - Louis could see the effect when it was wearing off, nearing the time when he had to take the next dosage once in three hours. He seems to go fragile, affected even by the sounds around him.

And as the dizziness from the ECT effects starts clearing, Harry takes notice to his severely lacking motor skills; from his next to useless legs to stiff arms. From his heaving chest and fear filled - welling eyes, Louis could practically feel the distress building inside Harry when he finds that his body is not complying to the movements he was directing… And he knows that Harry was going to panic sooner than later.

And he does - right at the breakfast next morning, just before his next dose.

When the food comes, Harry insists the tray to be placed on his lap as the nurse places his medication on the side table to give him after the meal. Louis watches with a knowing sadness as Harry tries, tries his best to hold up the spoon from his porridge - completely failing at it… the spoon falls through his fingers every time. Breaths heaving and eyes welling with hot tears Harry keeps on trying as the nurse starts to reach him with comforting words, intending to feed him. But Harry starts to go into full blown sobbing by then, gasping and shaking his head in refusal with sealed lips as the nurse takes the spoon near his mouth- he nearly knocks the content if not for Louis who jumps in, taking the spoon and the dish from the good nurse.

“Hey, hey - It’s fine, love. It’s ok. It’s me. It’s me, Louis. I’ll help you, ok? I got this. We’ll do like old times. We’ve done it before, you remember?  When you were sick or just being bloody sleepy for dinner… I’ve fed you dozen of times, right? Would you let me this time? It’ll be fine, it’s nothing new, right? I got this...”

Through dripping tears and gasping breaths, Harry opens his mouth slowly, glassy green eyes fixed on Louis. Slowly sitting on the side of the bed, Louis feeds him; adding a soft kiss to his temple.

From the peripheral vision, Louis could see the nurse injecting the Ativan dose to Harry’s IV as he continues to feed him.

 

 

Harry gets released from the hospital in the evening of the same day, under 24/7 care of a nurse. Harry doesn’t convey anything when he was placed on a wheelchair  from the SVU in the Penthouse parking, but Louis knows that he is under medicine to react.

Gemma was waiting for them as Alex wheels Harry in. Louis follows behind not sure how once close siblings would interact - not wanting to get in their way.

Harry just lets himself be hugged and doesn’t respond even when Gemma kisses his cheek. He simply takes it and gazed back impassively when she kneels beside him in his eye level, clutching his arms with both her hands. She tries to look bright though Louis notices her eyes going glassy.

“It’s good to see you, Harry” she says pursing her lips.

Harry doesn't say anything for a moment… no one expects him to but;

“You too” he says almost in a whisper.

 

Tears almost ready to spill, Gemma sniffs. She gives another kiss to his head before getting up and letting Alex wheel him to his room with a closely following nurse behind them.

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

“I didn’t tell mom,” Gemma says later as they sat on the floor next to the open glass window in the sitting area.

Louis digs his bare toes into the plush wooly carpet, sipping the tea she had made - it reminds him of Harry’s tea, the way he used to make it … from long time ago, when it was the only thing which would get Louis out of the bed ass a clock in the morning.. He inhales its aroma as if it might actually clear his head.

Alex had gone out, calling for some duty - but Louis feels that the block just wanted to avoid his questioning eyes on him. And Harry had fallen to asleep as soon as he was settled into his bed; maybe it’s the medication, maybe it’s the ECT, but he had been falling asleep quite easily since he had woken up in the hospital anyway.

So, against the invocable awkwardness, he and Gemma were the only ones left in the damn penthouse; making them settle for tea in front of LA skyline. It's crazy to think how once upon a time they were actually close.

 

“She doesn't know he relapsed. I don’t think mom can handle it anymore,” - Gemma says dragging her finger across the glass, careful not to let her nail touch it. “ It’s better this way.” she says as if to convince her own self. Drawing her hand back, she looks somewhere out of the window.

Louis leans on the window silently, avoiding looking at her. For the truth, he had been taken aback to know from Alex that only Gemma would be coming down for Harry -  But now, looking at her heavy face, he couldn’t possibly imagine what Harry’s family must be going through; knowing what happened to him - seeing what it had done to him. He couldn’t fathom what Anne must be feeling - happened to live so far away, unable to reach, unable to help, unable even to see him because there is a chance that her presence might trigger him. Alex had told him that the last time Anne visited with Robin, Harry locked himself in the bathroom fifteen minutes into her presence - leaving them no option but to leave. Anne must have been devastated and beyond gutted… so yes, he couldn’t possibly imagine.

“She wasn’t that happy when she got to know they flew you in, you know”

Gemma says, finally making him look at her. She looks back at him with a sort of a scepticism that he had time to time noticed in her eyes whenever she looked at him since her arrival. “She always knew you broke something in him when you two fell off,” she sniffs, “She always knew... Now they’ve dragged you here - Mom’s scared you two will get hooked up as a rebound to this whole thing - and he’ll end up even worse than he is now.”

 Louis just stares at her.

Rebound?

Was that what these disapproving stares had been all about? They think it’s a rebound? A rebound? He had assumed Alex might have at some point mentioned to her the real reason Harry relapsed to his ill-state; seeing their casual kiss in the hospital he was all sure that he had in fact told her - but seems not… she doesn’t seem to know. Of course, if she did, she would have kicked him out of this very window for a free fall down the building instead of making him tea, right?

 

“Nobody forced me to come here, Gem.” he says shading his guilty thoughts with a sigh, deciding it was better this way. “You should know that better than anyone.” Gemma just looks at him calculatingly, resembling his stare.

"Should I?" she hits back, and Louis knows he deserves it from her.

“Look, I’m not proud of the way I handled things back then, I’m really not - but whatever I did, I did it because I was scared of losing him - which I did anyway. I was young and stupid... But I - I know that now… I think I knew it even then, but I was too scared to admit that I messed up I guess. And I’m not going to repeat that again - if - if we…”

Louis doesn’t finish. But Gemma gets what he was too scared to say… because she’s Gemma;  

“Are you two back together?”

"No,... I don't know" he mumbles his eyes fixed on the floor.

"Does he want to - yo get back together?"

He looks at her sharp questioning eyes.

And no, Louis doesn’t have an answer to that question. He knew what he wanted, needed craved like air to breathe. Harry, it had always been Harry even when he was laying on top of El - looking at her hazy beautiful eyes - deep down he had always known that (hell, El had told him she’d known that, not so delicately when they parted). But does Harry want the same? On top of all the facts and assumptions Dr. Sawrey had laid to prove that Harry is affected by him, does Harry crave the same? Does Harry need him the same? After everything he went through, was put through... would he need the same?

Louis doesn’t think he would even have the courage to go there.

“I - I don’t know, “ he says truthfully, looking away from her “I guess - I guess it’s up to him? It had been always up to him - I think. But I’m staying with him, until he’s up on his own feet; until he’s ready to decide.”

“He’s too sensitive, Louis. He’s too sensitive to be hurt. He always have been” She says shaking her head.

Louis looks down at his half finished tea, “I know”

Gemma just looks at him, and her hand reaches to pat him lightly at the back - adding a little squeeze before she takes it back. It was a simple comforting gesture, an understanding between them, though Louis knew they might not be in the same page - but it warms his heart nonetheless.

 They fall into a moment of silence, thoughts rolling in their heads.

 

"Why did you leave him here, Gem?" he asks suddenly, unable to stop himself - he needed to know, he really did.

She looks at him, as if he just threw a dagger at her. Hurt glistens from her eyes as she looks away again.

"I didn't leave him," she says tone heavier than moments ago. Louis remains silent, with stretched lips. He doesn't argue, but he doesn't look at her either; avoiding her face - and he knows it hurts her more than anything, pain is right there in her voice as she speaks;

“We thought it would be easier for him to get better here, in LA,” Gemma says after a while, placing her still almost full cup down “- away from most of the things, I guess. I was so deluded… we all were.” Louis silently nods letting her speak. “We thought it was the pain from his injuries first - but he was - he was so withdrawn and resigned… barely talked with anyone. I didn’t  know what to do and I didn’t know much of anyone here so I called Jeff, and Grimy, when he came down to LA - so he would have some company. But even with them he was not himself.  He was quiet and would let them do the talking. Jeff would always bring friends, people Harry knew, and I was so scared that they’ll notice something off about him… Grimy actually asked me point blank couple of times.”

She lets a little hiss of a laugh bitterly and Louis feels she intentionally mentioned Grimy to see the reaction in his face.

“He got physically better but with it everything else got worse. He was crying a lot but wouldn’t let any of us even come close to him or comfort him, not even Mom. He was hysterical at times and sometimes he would just stare into distance hours and hours - like he was in sort of a different dimension. He would suddenly go missing and we'll find him curled up in the bathroom or some corner shaking and trembling. He would scream at us to leave him alone if we tried to help - or whatever." She pauses for a moment then pressing her eyes shut tight, as is she could see the exact memory in her head. Louis knew she was trying not to cry in front of him but it seemed to be an impossible with each word she spoke.

"He started getting panic attacks," she says after few long breaths, "- it scared the shit out of both me and Mom; seeing him like that - choking, struggling like he was going to die,” she sniffs wiping her tear spilled eyes, not looking at Louis. He doesn’t try to console her but takes her hand on the floor, silently holding it as she squeezes it back.  “And he would get triggered by the simplest things like being in the shower, or someone walking to him. And he couldn't bear cold... not even for a second. One time I remember, he opened the refrigerator - and next thing we knew was that he’s down on the floor, heaving. -”

Louis breaths, pressing his own eyes shut for a second - he was kept in cold storages under low temperatures - he remembers Dr. Sawrey’s words, and the lines from Harry’s files about depravations he had been put through… was this why Harry almost never goes near the fridge? Even to fetch milk for his cereal? A memory not long ago of Harry eating dry cereal with no milk seated in the kitchen draws to his mind. Was Louis sensible enough  at least to fetch him milk? Did he? He did, right?

“- It got worse and worse… no matter how much we tried - physically he looked better, but he was not even close to it. His treatments seemed to set him off most of the time... the transplants and stuff - though the doctors insisted that he has to go through with them to get his skin healed. He would just lay on the bed letting them do whatever - but afterwards he would be stroppy and moody. The incident with Mom happened just the day after he got the tattoos re-done, you know. I knew he didn’t like or want them re-done, I could say by the look of his face when they were sedating him. He just wanted to be left alone -”

Louis looks at her that time, biting his lip. “He was unconscious?”

“Don’t think he could’ve coped up with a needle in his skin that soon… so, yeah” she says suddenly finding her fingers interesting.

There was a mix of guilt and sadness in her voice. No matter how much she wanted to stop it, she must’ve been helpless to do anything because the teams assigned to fix Harry was doing it anyway. Louis knew how these things worked - he had a good idea.

“He was on the edge afterwards, didn’t even look at bandages or himself. Didn’t eat or take his meds… stayed curled up in bed. I told Mom to let him be - not to get in his way. We both tried, but something set him off… - I think he started to thrash the room. When we went to see what the sound was, Harry had already turned half of the room upside down… and he was in the bathroom, ripping his bandages - and mom panicked. I don’t think he actually knew what he was doing but when she tried to stop him, he went mad… and I - I didn’t know what to do. He just lashed out -” Louis could just watch her, all his thoughts blocked.

“Last I remember is him throwing her to a glass table top” Gemma wiped her tear struck face as her voice broke - the distress in her tone painful in every way. “I screamed at him… but he just started thrashing around again like it didn't matter - I - I… If Alex hadn’t come in then…-.”

Gripping her tearing face with both her hands she goes silent, eyes fixed on the floor. Louis just waits, ignoring  his own tearing eyes; not knowing what to say. His poor boy. His poor poor broken boy…

“She had to get 6 stitches in two places... Doctors suggested that we send him to an institute for a scheduled time, but management and Simon were not too happy about it. And Mom was against it right from the start. But his doctor said it was too risky for us to stay with him… By then Harry knew what happened and he was hysterical, wouldn’t come out of his room or crying. He then started having seizures and catatonic phases. I didn’t want to leave him like that… I wouldn’t have. But Alex promised me that he’ll look after him… that he’ll be there for him - and let me know if anything happened to him so I could fly in. I supposed I wouldn’t be much of a help to him anyway even if I stayed, and Mom needed a break from it no matter how much she refused.. So I took Mom and went back to Cheshire.”

 

Gemma wipes her face off the already dried tears and sighs. She had stopped crying. Her face looks drained but her eyes had a composed hardness in them, as if she knew that she cannot afford to break down. Looking at her, Louis feels like as if the roof is weighing down on him. Harry is so utterly helpless, like a shot stallion fallen to the ground - Laying fatally, struggling and kicking to breathe... unable to run, unable to stay and unable to stop himself bleeding red -  his muffled whines never reaching relief or help. They didn’t even know how deep the bullets had dug  nor how much he had already bled.

Wiping his own eyes dry, he stares out absently as same as her. The sun was slowly setting but the city lights were still not on. It’s a beautiful site but the aching pain and flaming worry in their hearts were making everything stale. He doesn’t know how long they stare out at the skyline silently, so many things running inside their heads.

 

“Does he know?” Louis asks in the end - his voice soft, “About you and Alex?”

Gemma  sighs looking at her mug. She lines the slightest smile which fades as it comes.

“I think so?” she says gazing back at him. “Think he has too many things to deal with than my love life though. But he hasn’t tried to kill him yet. Guess that’s a good sign. What’s funny?” she asks as he smiles to himself, busy playing with his own hands.

“Someone could’ve warned me. Would have tried to be a bit more civil with him.”

Gemma hisses a smile, a slightly proper one this time. “He told me you are being a downright ass … a protective one though - claimed Harry’s your boy in the first day you set foot in”  

“Pompous prick”

Louis mumbles  and they both smile looking out the window.

 

In another time and another place, where things are simple and open, he would have hugged her, teased her about her weird choice in men. But the things were not as simple nor open. He only hopes they will be again, some day. He hopes...

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

9. Breathe Me... If You Can

 

 

Past

 

"Tea?"

Louis asks as they both kick the shoes off their tired feet. Harry just nods unbuttoning his coat. Shuffling the locks of curls springing out of his beanie, Louis staggers to the kitchen. He puts the kettle on as Harry dials for take-away, not asking Louis what he wants because he already knows. He sits on the kitchen counter placing the order, dangling his long legs as Louis makes tea for both of them. It is just their typical routine after long studio sessions.

"Wanna get a wash before food comes?" Louis asks bringing the two mugs, settling between Harry's legs. He perks a soft casual kiss on the plush lips. Tight black ripped jeans, white tank top and the beanie; he looks like some wild frat boy, weirdly  mixed in sweet Sangria. Louis could just kiss him for hours.

"Nah, I'm hungry" Harry says, wrapping his long legs around Louis, locking him in with his bare feet as he takes the mug from Louis and sips. "I'll have a bath later. With you, maybe." Keeping the mug aside he leans forward, pressing their heads together. His eyes are closed.

Placing his mug on the table as well, Louis clutches his waist and scoots him closer. "hmm. I like that"

"Do you now?" Harry smiles as Louis slowly kisses him again. His hands starts running on the jean clad thigh, touching the skin on his knees through the rips. Harry slightly tightens his grip on Louis' waist as Louis slowly brings his palms up, tracing the tight lean body through the thin material of the tank top.

Harry hums, slightly trembling to the touch.

“How long for the delivery?”

"10..." Harry mumbles, letting his face fall between Louis' neck and the shoulder as Louis' fingertips strokes the line of his spine.

"He could definitely wait another 5..” Harry says wickedly as Louis feels the goosebumps on the boys' flawless skin, feeling dazed.

“Won’t be the first time..." he whispers into Harry’s ear, making him slightly twitch.

Something starts heating up inside of Louis and he starts kissing him again. Their lips move in rhythm, slowly at first. Harry's fingers clutching Louis' waist, sweep under his jacket, reaching lower from sides. Louis breathes onto the lips, warm and heavy as he feels Harry's fingertips digging inside his trousers underneath. He deepens the kiss, pulling the beanie off Harry's hair, freeing the mess of curls.

Sweeping his fingers through the bronze strands he starts pulling on them -  turning Harry's face to the side. Harry lets him, following his lead as always; letting himself be maneuvered, giving in totally wholesomely... to do as Louis pleased.

Louis starts kissing the trail of his neck, running his tongue up and down, adding light bites in between. He could feel Harry trembling, smiling as he does with closed eyes. His dimple lines with perfect bow lips which looks absolutely spent even with few minutes of kissing. And no, Louis could not help it. He drags him back and catches the plush sweet lips with his own, kissing him hard and deep. His tongue breaches in, sucking in like honey, intertwining with Harry's. Harry pants but eagerly kisses him back, humming tunes to Louis's ears. His hands starts to wander around Harry's body, dragging him closer and Harry whines, running his hands through Louis' soft hair, almost gripping at them. Louis slowly pulls Harry down from the counter, trapping him between the counter and his body - pressing his body at his front. He knew Harry is already hard, so was he.

"Couch?" Harry manages to hiss as Louis starts to palm him through his now incredibly tight jeans.

"Mmhmh" it is all Louis manages before breaking his kiss and dragging Harry from his arm to the couch. He pushes him down and helps Harry out of his jeans and boxes as Harry peels off his t-shirt, along with Louis'. Louis gets only  half way off his trousers though, with Harry dragging him on top of him and kissing him to madness - grinding underneath him. Slicking his fingers between their tongues, Louis starts prepping him with two fingers, running his other hand along his inked defined body - earning mewls of pleasure from the curly haired boy. He kisses him below the navel and Harry moans, arching his body on the leather couch. Breathing warmly along the trail Louis stars kissing his inner thighs, making the boy shiver and cry with need.

"Lou..." he calls helplessly, reaching for his hair - almost tugging at it. Louis looks up from there at his bitten red lips and dilated eyes. The way he breathes from half parted lips almost panting and the way he is watching him. He already looks utterly spent in a way that makes Louis want to totally wreck him.

Slowly, Louis reaches lower, breathing on to him - Harry moans almost thrusting up. "Louis" Harry begs, his voice deep and raspy as it always gets. "Don't tease, please"

"Shhh..." he smiles doing just that, making Harry take it. Harry trembles and moans, gripping on the couch. He grinds beneath Louis searching for more friction, completely at loss of sanity - and Louis knows he's at the edge. 

Pulling his fingers off, Louis straddles him  and starts pushing him slowly, looking at the green eyes holding his stare lustfully. Louis wraps his fingers around Harry's cock and starts stroking him as Harry pants through red plush lips, moaning with pleasure, holding onto the couch for his dear life. Taking his time Louis completely pushes in, swaying to the feeling. He starts moving slowly and Harry reaches up at him, dragging him on top of him again - wrapping his long legs around him, heavy warm breaths gasping out of him.

"Faster" he begs and Louis does just that. He quickens the pace as Harry's starts running his fingers on Louis' skin gripping tighter and tighter. "Fuck me, Fuck me hard" he  hisses pinching Louis's bum with a blood drawing grip, biting into his neck.

"Fuck" Louis screams as he starts pounding into him, pulling the curls and fucking him hard and thorough as he knew Harry likes - his hand stroking him in a similar speed without a miss. Gripping his fingers in the soft hair, Harry kisses him hard, sucking him in lips as he comes, completely undone. It takes only few moments for Louis afterwards, and he falls on top of Harry as if his body had turned to jelly - They just lie there out of breath in each other's arms, ears still pounding with white noise, panting and covered in sweat, post high making them dizzy.

"Shit!" it's Harry who starts laughing first like a bloody kid who heard the word sex... Louis joins in though with post orgasm high - until he realizes that it is not his heart pounding but the fucking door bell.

"Fuck!!! the delivery" Louis hops out of the couch.

Harry starts laughing harder, clearly not making any attempt to get up. He eyes

"Harold you schmuck!!!"

"I'm - I'm -... naked" he manages between the laughs. And keeps laughing hard.

Louis watches him shaking his head. "You are out of your mind Styles" he says, unable to not to laugh at the way Harry is laughing. He drags his trousers up to see a good wet patch across his front, making Harry laugh louder, almost tearing now - knowing that it's probably his fault.

"Shit!" Louis says laughing himself. He then picks up Harry's t-shirt and puts it on, thankfully covering a half of it. He opens the door to see the delivery boy sitting on the step, probably accustomed to waiting by now.

"Thanks, pal" Louis says as the guy hands him the receipt with raised eyes, noticing his sweaty skin and unzipped stained trousers.

 

 .........................

 

 

 

Present

 

“What do you mean he’s still sick? You said he’s sick last week.” Grimy sounds irritated. And no, Louis cannot put up with his insufferable tone for another second. But he does - for Harry’s sake… and of course, the last thing they needed is Grimy barging in with his fucking attitude. Jeff he could deal with, but Grimy - Grimshaw is a complete different story.

“Well, he is. His hay fever got worse. I’m taking him to the doctor” he almost snaps trying to indicate that he does not have time for this now, without really saying it.

“Hay fever?” Grimy scoffs, there is sort of a sarcasm in his tone. “That’s what you came up with?...” another hiss. “Why’s his phone off?”

“Told you. He’s sick,’ Louis repeats in a monotone as if it should have been obvious. He seriously doesn’t have time for this nor the need to explain himself to Grimy. “He’ll call - when he can - when he’s better.”

Grimy sighs from the other end. It was true that they never really could see eye to eye - there was too much history for them to be civil with each other. But, Louis knew Harry had a weird connection with Grimy though he failed to understand what it really is… honestly, the man cannot utter two words without offending someone at least with his tone.

“Fine then… tell him I’m coming over day after tomorrow.” he hears Grimy from the other side, and then the line goes dead before Louis could say another word. Bastard. He could just curse.

 

For the past two weeks both he and Gemma had been trying to cover up for Harry to avoid unnecessary questions, though the secrecy kept biting them from the back. But neither he nor Gemma knew what to do about it. It was not as if they could just go around telling people that Harry suffered from a phase of catatonia inlining with his PTSD…

Gritting his teeth to calm himself, Louis walks to Harry’s room where his nurse and Gemma were getting him ready to go to the clinic. Gemma and Louis took turns taking him to his checkups and physiotherapy sessions and today was Louis’ turn to take him. Also, today Harry had his first appointment with Dr. Sawrey since waking up. His first session. Louis knew Harry is not particularly happy about it. He had been selectively silent about it for past few days, going silent whenever Gemma or Louis tried to talk to him about it.

Maybe he is nervous- or scared, Louis couldn’t guess.

He opens the door to see Gemma helping Harry into a bright blue t-shirt she had picked for him the other day. It almost feels nice to see him in colour for once...  must be Gemma’s way of try and cheer him up a bit. But Harry looks impassive, sitting there as if he had something else going inside his head. He’s nervous, Louis could tell.

“Alright?” he asks.

“Yeah… Almost done” Gemma says fixing the shirt on him.

Harry doesn’t say anything, letting her fuss around with the shirt neck and his hair - probably not wanting to complain.

Gemma always had this way with Harry which made him loosen up around her no matter what - though it suffered when they first brought him to LA, this time Harry seem to slowly let her in better. Maybe it was because Gemma seem to try harder, compelling Harry to react to her, or maybe it was because Harry himself had missed her in the first place - but whatever it is, Louis was glad. But unlike Gemma, Louis was scared to try harder , push harder - with the ghost of what happened the last time he did. Louis did not know if Harry remembers what happened or not. Their fight, Louis pushing him to the wall, manhandling  and everything else… Does Harry remember that it was Louis that set him off? That he was the reason he lost it?

Louis knows he should maybe talk to him about it... but he had been too reluctant, even scared that it might wind him up again. How could he?... when Harry seem to not mind his presence so much around him now? He know that he might be doing something utterly foolish skipping around it but for the time being, he can not help but  to bury his head in a pillow about it.

“No rush… we have time.” Louis says with a smile as Harry’s green eyes looks at him from where he sat on the edge of his bed. He seems fresh and rested today probably because Gemma forced Harry into some sleeping pills last night so he could sleep throughout. And surely the warm bath she prepared for him in the morning must have helped. But there is a hesitance in his face  which starts to make Louis worry.

“You sure you don’t want me to come?” Gemma asks, clutching her brother’s arm gently.

Harry doesn’t say anything, just nods - and Gemma studies his face for a moment before dragging him for a hug.

“You’ll be fine”, she mumbles to his ear while he stands letting himself be hugged.

 

“Keep an eye on him” Gemma whispers to Louis as they leave, concern lining in his face.

“You know I will” Louis mumbles back looking at Harry’s slightly slouched back walking towards the elevator before him.

 

Alex drives them to Dr. Sawrey’s clinic.

It should have been a calm ride as usual with Louis in the passenger seat keep eyeing Harry at the back through the rear mirror and Harry aimlessly looking out of the window. But tension is filling up inside the car today. Louis knew that meeting the doctor is the last thing Harry wanted to do, though he did not make a fuss. It seemed like the newest habit Harry had fallen into. Complying without complaining or commenting. Louis found it strange and worrying. He personally felt that this is too soon for Harry to start therapy again. Not that Louis did not want Harry to get treatment but he couldn’t help thinking if they are all pushing him too much.

Was it not Dr.Sawrey who told him that Harry need to feel the need to seek help to anyone to really help him into recovery?

 

Soon, Alex parks the car in the indoor carpark of the building which is full, but they had their reserved slot. Collecting Harry’s medical files and what not Louis starts stepping out of the car but sensing Harry hasn’t moved he turns back. Harry just sits, still looking out of the parked car..

“Alright, Harold?”

Harry does not look at him,

“Yeah… can you give me a moment, yeah?” he says, voice still impassive - but a little bit too deep maybe, Louis notices.

Alex gives him a meaningful look before getting off, leaving two of them inside.  

And Louis waits - a minute , two… Harry just sits, his head leaning against the cold glass.

"Harry"

He tries again after five minutes, but Harry doesn't react. With a deep breath, Louis gets down from his seat and gets in from the back, sitting in the other side to Harry who still hasn’t moved.

“Harry,”

He calls as gently as he could, reaching with his hand to touch the other boy. Harry doesn’t turn to him still.  “Harry, love, it’s going to be ok… you’ve done this many times before, yeh? she’s - she’s just going to talk.”

“I don’t want to talk” Harry mumbles unexpectedly, his voice heavier than moments ago. He sounds stressed.

“Harry”

But Harry just trembles slightly and tries to curl into his side making Louis’ heart sink.

He’s scared…

Moving closer, Louis does the only thing he could think of at that moment - thinking what Gemma would have done. He wraps his arms around him, pressing his chest to Harry’s back. He starts rocking them slowly.

“I’m here ok? I’m going to be here with you. It’s going to be alright.”

Harry sniffs and Louis knows his eyes are tearing. He wishes if he could just take him back to the penthouse, but Louis also knows that it won’t do any good. Today, tomorrow or day after; Harry has to start his sessions again. Postponing would only reel him up more in the next day.

“You don’t have to talk today, love. Just listen to what she says. Take it slow. I’ll be just outside… if you still feel you don’t want to stay after ten minutes, just walk out and I’ll take you back, ok? You just need to spend a little time there and it’s going to be over, alight?”

Harry doesn’t say anything but whimpers as if he couldn’t help it. Still turned away from Louis, he starts wiping his face off the tears with his long fingers until Louis fetches him the tissue box from the cubby. He rubs his back reassuringly as  Harry dries his face off the tears through sniffs. Louis could just watch.

 

They step out of the car after few moments and Harry silently follows Louis as if he was in sort of an auto tuned mode - and it takes everything Louis has to take him upstairs, knowing Harry is literally pushing himself into this against his own self, straining himself because he cannot resist - for whatever the reason.

Louis pushes away his own urge to take him back. He just wishes if he could just take Harry away from all this - an easier way out... probably the same way Harry’s family felt when they took him away from the hospital in London months back. But Louis knows that it won’t solve anything.  Maybe it’s their bad luck, maybe it’s the timing- situation, but the pressure is becoming too high… maybe this was the prize they had to pay for who they are. They were no fools… all five of them knew what work attachments and contracts means - even Harry does. Simon or not , the clock was ticking on the time when One Direction had to come out again and they would all have to face the media, press and the world; looking unscathed and well to avoid media sniffing on something they should not... or they would all have to come clean with the things which Harry would downright refuse to admit to public.

There is no easy way out. So, no matter what Louis’ heart wanted, he fights it and guides Harry to the clinic.

 

He watches as Harry goes into Dr. Sawrey office, his steps almost awkward and still hesitant. Louis takes a seat in the waiting area just outside, feeling nervous himself.

Looking at Harry now, Louis could hardly believe that they all survived the past week and a half.

In the first few days after the hospital, Harry kept tearing out of his wayward mind whenever his dose of tranquilizers were wearing off - it was as if he couldn't help it, especially when the nurse was decreasing the dosage of the medication as Dr. Sawrey had advised. It almost killed Louis to watch Harry go through that. Harry would not talk but  lie on the bed and zone out, lines of tears trickling down his face with silent sniffs looking like a clipped winged angel - and Louis hadn’t had an inch of an idea what to do…  Maybe it was the kidnap, maybe the torture, screams, pain and agony - he was not sure. But it seemed it was all coming back to him - everything that had been temporarily forgotten by his mind -  reloading back into his head...  little by little - like Dr. Sawrey told that it would.

Dr. Sawrey had also told them to let Harry face his emotions, cry, scream if he wanted to. Harry had to get to a point where he could deal with his thoughts without the regular doses of tranquilizers - at least in the same way he was dealing with them before. Louis had no other option than to just endure the sight as Harry wept under the covers of his bed, fighting his demons all over again. And the fact that Harry’s motor skills seriously lacked coordination did not help the situation, leaving him in a verge of tears with frustration. It was not as if Harry could not move, but he initially lacked the control of his limbs to do the things a normal human would require to pass the day like gripping and holding; making it impossible for him to do the simple tasks like eating, walking or simply opening doors. Harry always had a balance of a newborn giraffe, Louis knew that it has always been a running joke in the fandom. But seeing him like this even if he knew it was temporary, burnt his heart just a little more.

 

But now, finally after almost two weeks, he seemed getting better to much of their relief. And unlike before, now - though there  was still a stuttering awkwardness between them, Harry does not try to avoid Louis’ presence or pounce on him to get away. Instead he seem docile and unresisting; pushing himself to comply to him, them. Dr. Sawrey considered that as somewhat a progress but Louis was not so sure. It made him worry more than anything. Weirdly, it felt out of character as well because in the past, no matter how easily Harry gave himself up to Louis in bed, Louis knew Harry was hardly a pliant person.  He had absolutely no idea what is going on inside Harry’s head and it scared him. Though Alex had told him that it was almost similar to the way he was after his previous catatonic phase, his worry seem to grow each time he saw Harry being weirdly dutiful, silent and calmer than he actually should be.

 

An hour after, Harry comes out from the doctors’ office.

Eyes cast down, he almost looks paler… shaken even. And looking at him, Louis decides to cancel the next physiotherapy session knowing fully well they would be just dragging Harry to the edge if he is sent in for that.

Dr. Sawrey agrees.

Letting Alex take Harry to the car, the doctor tells Louis that she will be scheduling to meet Harry an hour every three days starting today for the next four weeks - which he would go through set of extensive therapies to trigger his mind. She prescribes regular and emergency medications and forewarns him of panic attacks and out bursts that might happen during the period. But she warns him not to let Harry go over his emotional edges, to prevent any incidents with tranquilizers if necessary.

It almost feels like a preparation for something dreadful, but between sending Harry to a resident facility and putting him through this extreme schedule, Louis knew they did not have much of a choice than to choose the second.

 

On their way back, instead of going to the penthouse straight back, Louis tells Alex to take them to a restaurant in Malibu, a one Louis knew Harry loved going into before all of this. Alex does, though with a sceptical look.

Harry just follows Louis without a word as same as before when Louis tells him they are going in for lunch, eyes still cast down. Louis knows that both Jeff and Grimy had taken Harry out for lunch and of course Harry had been out and about in clubs and pubs many a nights. So this is nothing new - going out to public places, although it’s the first time he is doing this after waking up - and the first time with Louis.

Since it is a popular celebrity hangout none gives them much attention but Louis has no intention to just mingle in the crowd… he knew they can not. The restaurant manager approaches them as soon as they enter though, with a warm smile in his face directed at Harry - of course.

“Mr. Styles. How are you sir? Your regular table’s available in five minutes, sir? Should I mark your regular order or would you have something from specials? I’ll get-”

“Actually, we are hoping if we can get a private room today.” Louis interferes noticing Harry’s blank stare at the man. “Louis Tomlinson, I work with Harry” he says shaking the manager’s hand. He knows that the man has no clue who he is. Alex just stands back with his arms bound, not bothering to join the introductions.

“Yes, sure, sir. I just assumed Mr. Styles would prefer the regular table in the garden. We have a private room with a view to the garden, sir. I will arrange that for you.”

 

Alex leaves two of them to go on, telling that he needs to look out for paparazzi or whatever but Louis feels it’s more because he wanted to leave them two alone. The manager, Mike, directs them upstairs and it actually comes to be a cozy room with rustic brown furniture, tropical green drapes and a view to the garden. He explains that it is a one way glass so no one outside would be able to spot them through the window. Louis ends up ordering a steak sandwich and chips and he takes it for himself to order a grilled chicken and corn salad for Harry as he mumbles ‘I’m not hungry’  after blankly staring at the menu for few seconds.

After the manager and the waiter leaves, Louis looks at Harry who has his eyes fixed on the garden through the glass window. His bright blue t-shirt, long flowing bronze curls and deadpan green eyes makes a sight in the sun-lit room with the backdrop of green curtains. And Louis realizes that between everything, this is the first time they are doing something like this since almost three years now… since they broke up. He just wanted to give Harry a break - a break from shining white walls of the penthouse and fumed over pleasant clinic. Something which he knew Harry would actually like, something  a little authentic and live.

“Do you prefer sitting in the garden?” he asks.

“This is ok” Harry just spares a glance at him.

Well it is not likely for them to actually sit out in the garden, out in the public. Louis watches Harry silently. He does look better out in the sun. much more relaxed as well now, than when he came out of the doctors’ office.

“How did it go today?” Louis asks carefully. He doesn’t want to pressure Harry, but with what happened earlier in the car… he knows he has to ask.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

Harry just looks up at him, green eyes slightly stressed. He bites his lip but does not utter a word  for some moments. Louis waits...

But then, before Harry begins to say anything, the door opens and food comes, two men serving them their respective dishes. After they leave, Louis digs in without a comment, he doesn’t want this to be awkward than it really is. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked.

Picking his knife he starts slicing the sandwich. In his peripheral vision, Louis sees that Harry hasn’t moved though. Hands on his lap, stares at him not making any efforts with the food. Louis decides to let him be, not wanting to nag Harry on his non existent appetite for once.

But then,

“I can’t” Harry says in a small voice just as Louis starts to chew his first bite. Louis looks up at him to meet Harry’s staring eyes. “I - tal-k…-” he stutters, rubbing off his face as if stressed… “I can’t -” he breathes heavier than usual -  desperate, almost, eyes goes glassy. “I just can’t” he repeats, shaking his head slightly - wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “I don’t know h- how to - to…-”

Dropping the sandwich Louis finds him getting up. He crosses the table reaching the boy with long curly hair and distressed green eyes - dragging him against him without much thought. “That’s ok… it’s ok… just try … don’t want you to do anything else…”

Harry sniffs and lets Louis hold him for several more minutes before moving… almost pushing himself away, looking anywhere but at Louis’ face now... and Louis lets him go, his heart sinking. He just stands there, worried and taken aback at the sudden outburst.

“You alright?” he asks, not trying to reach him this time.

Harry just nods, not looking at him as if he’s ashamed himself for what just happened. Louis tries to act normal, turning back and returning to his seat as if nothing happened… but his thoughts run wild inside … concern hammering his ears.

How on earth is Harry going to be ready for the grilling schedules of therapy like this?

Eyeing Harry in the corner of his eye, he moves to pick up his fork. Harry passes the food around the plate than eating any but Louis keeps silent. He knows it’s still a bit of work for Harry to handle cutlery but he doesn’t want to overwhelm him. He let’s Harry get on with it as slow as he prefers to. He focuses back on his own plate instead but no matter how delicious the food was, he could not really feel it, finding himself thinking about what Harry just managed to admit. Though it was only few words, it might be actually the first time Harry managed to admit something like that to anyone regarding this… it was almost as if he wanted to talk, but that he couldn’t.

Was it what he was trying to say?

 

The room falls quiet for a long moment before Louis decides to speak again.

“We should do this again sometime… this is a cool place. I’ve seen tons of pic of you here when you were in LA. How did you find this place?”

“Through someone I know... his uncle owns it.” Harry says without looking up.

“Jeff?”

Harry shakes his head.

“Someone I know?”

“Xander” Harry says looking at Louis. His eyes almost searching for something in Louis’ face… but Louis couldn’t guess what. The name rings a bell but Louis couldn’t remember how. Maybe he had met him somewhere. He was not sure - and he doesn’t ask.

 

After a round of iced tea, Louis asks for the bill. He grabs some kebabs to take back and they head out. Louis dials Alex to tell him that they are coming out of the back to avoid any tension. He cautiously helps Harry in the stairs, knowing that it still is hard for him, though he would not admit it… and wearing heeled boots does not make it easier either. And doing that with all his attention on Harry, Louis doesn’t notice anything else around so he does not see someone jaw-dropped staring at them at the bottom of the stairs... Harry doesn’t either. It is until a jarring voice that he has not heard around him in person for a while reaches his ears in the most endearing way.

“Harry?”

They both turn their heads up to the shocked tone as Harry steps down the final step. Short blond hair with  right length front fringe, bring sun dress to match the café interior, perfect makeup and slightly stunned blue eyes. Well, just another person Louis had no intention to face on Harry’s account.

“Taylor” he greets as Harry stares at her without a word - as if he is unable to move.

There were two other girls with her and three bodyguards, all standing behind her watching the encounter along with several onlookers in the background…

Taylor’s eyes lands on Louis with an attempt.

“I-I’m sorry, Louis, hi… I’m just - are you’ll ok?” she still sounds shocked to see them - him.

Harry just stares at her, and it makes Louis’ heart skip a bit. Of course he knew about their little on and off romance sometime after he and Harry broke up. Though he never really bothered to find out Harry’s side of it - not that Harry was ever much open about it- Taylor had been pretty vocal - penning down stuff that the world had no clue about until she put her album out, making it a headline story again to be flashed around. It had almost been like scraping old scars for Louis; with memories of their bitter fights, spiking arguments, mistakes and more mistakes...

“God, how are you, Harry, I mean the accident. It was terrible in the news - I know it’s some time back but there was no way of contacting any of you- even Ed tried so many times to call you because I kept nagging, but he was in Japan at the time. No one knew where you were or if you were ok… and Louis too.” she adds looking at Louis and Louis almost raises his eyes.

“- I kept asking my team to get in contact - and Ed as well, least to find me someone's’ number so I could call and check. I called Niall but he was like, oh - he went away for a bit. So I thought, guessed that you must be resting-” Taylor finally breaks her never ending words, still blinking animatedly. “- when did you come here? And - and how are you?” she keeps gazing between them spilling out word breathlessly, but it is from Harry she asks.

Louis looks at Harry following Taylor's’ inquisitive eyes.

Harry takes a moment to answer in his deep morbid tone. “Fine... Thanks. How have you been?”

“I’m well, thanks” she moves to touch his arm but almost hesitates before she actually does. But she squeezes it slightly and Louis does not know how he feels about it.

“Are you’ll be staying here for long? I mean LA?”

“Not really” Louis says while Harry says “Yes” at the same time. Louis looks at Harry

“Oo-k?” Taylor says turning her head to a side with a little uncomfortable smile.

“We are here for now” Louis says biting his lip. Well, if she hadn’t made Harry her pet project and sold the last bloody album on his account, Louis could have actually tolerated her more, despite of everything.

“Where’re you’ll at? You’ll should come over to my place sometime - for dinner or lunch maybe. We can catch up”

Louis has to try his hardest to not make a face. Catch up? She want’s to, catch up ? Really?

“Is - is Ed in London?” Harry asks into the awkward silence - stepping slightly closer to her, he looks unsure. Looking a her, was Harry remembering their darkest times or was he reminiscing about his time with her? Louis could not help thinking, fingers twitching inside his trouser pockets.     “Yeah,

“Yeah, but he’ll be coming down for couple of days.” she says “Tell you what give me your number. I’ll get you to come down once he’s here - and Louis you too. Would be like old times.”

Harry just nods with a lips tight and Louis manages to look absolutely normal as they exchange numbers. Seriously, this is the last thing he wanted to fill his head with.

“God it’s so good to see you well. I was so worried” Taylor says as she kisses Harry’s cheek as they part ways. Corners of Harry's lips curve up minimally, and his green eyes look at her almost hauntingly; but Louis is sure that she would not have noticed.

Well, if she only knew… Louis thinks rubbing Harry’s back lightly as they walk passing her to the back exit where Alex would be waiting with the car for them to head back.

 

 

                  

Chapter Text

 

10. Cut Through The Dark

 

 

You, blind me, consume me, pain me.

Thought of your touch spikes me, your lips, they poison me …

your sight wrecks me, just like thunderous waves does to that one lone ship yearning to reach a shore.

Yet, I let you hold me so tight that I feel warm even as I watch the lines of blood seep down my skin from the holes you made with your clumsy claws…

so I could tell myself that you won’t let go… even if I wanted you to.

 

 

.......

 

 

Louis curses under his breath as he hears the knock.

It’s only a little past eight in the morning and Angela had just left after her weekly chores. Gems and Alex had left for a breakfast date and Harry is asleep. Louis would have slept as well if it was not for the bloody insomnia that had been tapping him frequently these days. But that does not mean that he’s a morning person - of bloody course not. He felt like growling at anyone who came within his sight to be honest.

So his irritation had hit red when he received the call from the security, informing him that there is a visitor coming up the elevator into five good minutes he had curled himself up on the couch with a mug of tea and his blanket wrapped around his sleep yearning body. And of bloody course it had to be Nick pain-in-the-ass fucking Grimshaw who had told him he will be dropping in today.

Louis had completely forgotten.

 

He does not bother to dress. If Grimy has the nerve to drop in this early, Louis could surely open the door with sweatpants and a blanket around his neck while clutching his steaming mug in the other hand.

He opens the  door to the tall lanky man with a quaff with a stoic face. Seeing Louis' disheveled appearance, Nick  raises a brow with a look but Louis could not care less.

“He’s asleep. Don’t think he’ll be up for a while.” Louis says blankly ignoring the tray of coffee Grimy was holding in his hand.

Grimy stares with a one sided grin. “Morning to you as well, Tomlinson”

Louis spares him a moments' glance and a sigh.

“I said, he’s still asleep” Louis’ fingers twitches to slam the door in his face and go back to his peace on the couch. He doesn’t of course, instead he takes a sip from his tea.

No sleep and seeing Grimy’s smug face surely does not work well together for him.

Grimy spares few seconds watching Louis take another sip from the mug. Then he lets out a huff and walks in, pushing the door open - passing Louis as if Louis invited him in.

“You don’t change, do you?”

Nick says as he drops the tray of coffee on coffee table. He eyes Louis with a sort of an amused expression… as if he was seeing Louis for the first time after a long time, when technically Grimy had seen Louis quite often whenever he decided to barge in to see Harry. Well there is the fact that they are accustomed to ignore each other as much as possible anyway and Louis is not sure if he would do any different in this lifetime. So he just shrugs ignoring the comment as the taller man continues to stare.

“Anything I can help you with? Gemma won’t be back for about an hour-’

“She told me. I called her.” Grimy says taking a seat uninvited, again to much of Louis' irritation. He crosses a leg on top of the other - quite similar to the way Harry often does. Louis always wondered if Harry took the habit from Grimy.

“Then?”

Grimy just stares at Louis for a second - expression serious. “What’s going on, Louis?”

“What do you mean?” he asks back, drawing the best blank face he could come up with. Hell would freeze if Grimy thought talking to Louis was a good idea.

Grimy just lets out a long sigh. “Look, I know we had our differences. But we are grownups. Somethings are bigger than petty disagreements. You know that and I know it. And I also know that something is wrong. Or had been wrong. I know him. I know H.”

“Honestly, I have no idea what you are on about.” Louis feels too tired for this… and too early for this. He doesn’t look at Grimy as he repeats, unsure of his own face. But Louis knows that mere hesitance is enough to give it a way. Clutching his mug, Louis plops down onto the couch, trying to look convincing. But Grimy doesn’t seem to buy it.

“Why are you here suddenly?”

Louis gives him a look. “Should ask you the same question, in it?”

Nick gives him a calculating look.

“Are you two together again or something?”

“That’s none of your fucking business”

“Fine. Yes. No. Ok. I’ll cut to the chase." He sighs expression devoid of the fake giddiness which Louis hates. There is sort of a grimness to his face as he speaks carefully. "Gems and Anne had been telling me that the accident shocked him and then that his severe scarring got to him… that he’s a bit reluctant with everyone because he was feeling self conscious. I believed that for some time. I did. But it’s not like they are any visible now. No one can practically notice? Even if he’s conscious about it, no amount of scarring could make him this - this.., I don’t know - depressed? ”

Grimy pauses as if he wanted Louis to respond - but Louis doesn’t. It has been the explanation they have parroted whenever needed. And he didn’t know what else to say, neither did Gemma. Louis just stares at his mug absently. Out of the corner of his eye Louis sees Grimy straighten, leaning forward with his eyes on him.

“Gems called me first - out of nowhere once when I was in LA, asked me if I could come and help keep him company. And I came running because he just disappeared after the accident… before any of us were allowed to see him. I- I was fucking worried because nobody knew where he went, I even tried calling you’ll but those never reached any of you. So I came down the first thing  when Gems called, and I’ve been coming to check on him as much as I could ever since - though no one really told me what the hell is wrong.  And then suddenly he’s alone here with Waters… both Anne and Gemma had gone back to England. Gems told me he decided to stay back to rest before the band’s hiatus is over - which to me, sounded absurd because he hates being by himself. I tried to make him come back to London with me but Waters said he’s still undergoing some transplants or whatever that means…and - and now suddenly you are here?? Don’t get me wrong, Louis, but you two haven't exactly been buddies outside work”

“We don’t hangout around paps to make stories, if that’s your concern.” He finds him saying with a rising annoyance. “And we have a album coming out in months. We have work to get in to - songs to get done” Even Louis himself could feel the absurdity of his own words. Well , he couldn’t care less.

Grimy almost scoffs and shakes his head. For the first time since morning, he looks irritated - as if Louis was practically testing his patience.

“H just looks normal sometimes. He’s barely talking - engaging. I- I don’t know if he’s even listening when anyone is talking. I don’t think he’s in a mindset to start working - or writing for that matter. So if you want me to buy what you are saying, at least try to come up with something a bit more convincing.”

“Do I look like I want to convince you on anything?” Louis spats with a daring stare. He doesn’t know what’s making him worked up… whether Grimy saying that he’s bluffing or saying Louis and Harry doesn’t interact outside work.

Nick just rubs down his own face possibly sensing that they are off the track. He bounds his arms on his chest and stares again at Louis with a reproachful look.

“You know, it is this ego of yours and the bloody temper that made Harry finally crack. You try to cover it with the sass but people who has been around long enough knows that you’re just bitter about god knows what.”

 

And just like that Louis loses it.

The nerve Grimy has to bring it out like that, the ashes of their break up and bitterness that fires in with it. It burns him like hay. He practically throws the half empty mug to the coffee table which barely manages to land without toppling over.

“Maybe I was bitter because he was naïve enough to trust the jackasses who wanted nothing but to get into his pants and flock around for some free flying publicity. Sad he wasn’t much interested in losing his pants for you then, but at least you got your name talking. That should be something ”

Grimy cocks a pompous laugh for that and Louis wishes if he could just punch him in the face.

“That level of bitterness can cause an excess of jealousy, Louis. Not healthy… not healthy at all if this is you trying to win him back.”

“Yeah? Thanks for relationship advice. For a second someone might think you want us to get back together.”

“Believe me, if I had any say in the matter I’ll beg H to run a mile away because I don’t want him to end up like the last time, bitter, hysterical and in a verge of a breakdown. I don’t look forward to driving around trying to find him fucked out of his senses and dead in booze while you get cozy with your girlfriend.”

Everything seem to fire up inside him tapping him to lash out. He would rather jump out of the fucking building than to show the raking guilt and anger that burns his throat. Does this jackass know about Harry being under medication after the breakup? Louis knows that he can not utter a word about this. Not without giving away how their management had played all of them with. Not without spilling things he rather keep to Harry and himself, though he was worried how much Harry might have had confined with him at the time - doesn’t mean Louis should though. So Louis looks at him dangerously, as if to dare him to say another word.

“You have no fucking clue what you are talking about”

Wrapping the blanket around him dearly he gets up. But Grimy does not take any attempt to move. Honestly can’t his insufferable self take a hint? Louis is so over this conversation.

“I might actually, taking the fact that H came to me the minute he left you… when you kicked him out the moment he grew the guts to tell you he’s had enough.”  Grimy says, his face impassive, yet the smug tone implies the mere satisfaction of letting Louis know. It’s a wonder to Louis how he manages to stay put in front of the insufferable conceit the man was displaying.

“Get out!” he spats in a low tone with an icy glare.

Grimy gets up, standing taller - face unchanged.

“I didn’t come here to argue with you, Louis.”

“No? That’s heartening to know. You can get the fuck out!” he couldn’t be more sarcastic without bursting with anger. But Grimy just shakes his head with a sigh, looking regretful - almost.

“Look, Louis, I know we both care for him but we had very different ways of showing it. He’s my friend. We have always been friends and we have been there for each other. I’m not sure what the hell is going on here but I can figure out that something is seriously wrong with him”

“Well, good for you.” Louis spats walking to the door this time, “I’ll let Harry know for sure. Sorry I couldn’t add anything to amuse your imagination but I’ve got stuff to do today.”

He opens the door with a swing and glares at Grimy. The taller man looks taken aback for a moment, but then he follows Louis to the door and stops next to him with a calculating stare.

“I’ll leave, but keep in mind that this industry is a fucking mess. Throwing a little bit of money is all it takes to get anything done.”

Louis raises a brow, not lowering his glare. “And that’s supposed to mean something?”

“I just find it bloody fishy how you all get thrown to some deadly accident with just months away to end the contract with Modest and Syco. According to Jeff, Harry was in talks to move your label to MSG with Azoffs and all I know now is that Simon is walking around with a signed contract  from all five of you for next three years and Harry’s scooped up in LA out of anyone’s radar. Simon maybe your band’s guardian angel, Louis, but he’s definitely no saint when it comes to business and he won’t hesitate to clear the way to get what he wants if it comes to that, one way or the other.” Grimy just walks out the door, passing a blank faced Louis - but then he turns back, facing the tensed face.

“I have no clue if you lot are in on this or not -  but both Jeff and I have our concerns on how Simon’s suddenly managed to get a leash around your necks including Harry’s, who had plans to take off from the whole thing the minute the contracts released him.”

Louis just stares as Grimy watches him carefully, maybe expecting Louis to comment - which he does not.

Though it doesn’t seem right to let such a vile accusation fall loose, he does not owe Simon anything to defend him. So  Louis doesn’t attempt to utter a word - though his head pounded with things that just fell off to the ground. He just stares at the man in front of him whose face reflected his, completely drained off the usual smug expression on his face.

“Enjoy the coffee” Grimy says in the end. And then, looking down he just leaves - sweeping his hands into the pockets. Louis waits to close the door until the tall lanky figure disappears behind the elevator doors.

 

 

.......................................

 

 

 

 

“You didn’t tell us you were thinking about signing with Azoff’s when we are done with Modest”

He says casually taking a sip from his tea, watching Harry take a spoonful of cereal that morning. Gemma and Alex had not returned yet, so Louis had helped him in the morning - only assisting him when needed. He had been distracted all morning but he doesn’t think Harry had noticed. He did not want to show any tension to Harry - though his head was banging him with it.

Harry glances up at Louis’ face for a second before fixing his gaze back to his  bowl,  not saying a word. Suddenly , he seem to turn the cereal with the spoon as if he had lost the appetite.

“I thought Jeff and you were just , you know - lads … hanging around - he’s a cool guy. Wouldn’t have guessed he would want to turn it into a professional thing.”

Harry still doesn’t say a word. Louis brings his mug to his mouth, taking another sip.

“You didn’t tell us...”

He states, trying hard to keep the tone casual - the quietness tugs at him though. The fact that Harry wanted out, and that he almost found a way out, but never really told any of them … They all had their ups and downs but - was Harry planning to break away from them? Take off suddenly without a warning? Was he- was he planning to go solo?

He watches Harry carefully, and to his distress he sees the green eyes get glassier. Harry sits there, his gaze fixed on his bowl, swirling the spoon in circles.

Louis grips on the mug. Whatever Harry had in his mind to do before, now, it is all become a waste. They all had been tied up again... Harry had been tied up to this again... forced to stay in the band, against whatever he had planned…

“Was it a solo deal?”

Harry’s eyes shoots up to Louis’ face, his eyes already tear welled. He looks offended. They stare at each other for a moment with no words spoken. But Harry drops the gaze soon.

“..t’s for the band,” he mutters - it comes too low that Louis almost doesn’t hear him, “Doesn’t matter now…” Harry adds, wiping his sudden runny nose from the back of his hand.

Louis just stares, failing at words. He could practically feel the resentment bursting through Harry, subdued and downcast.  Dragging his hand down his face, Louis grips on his own skin. His head hurt, and Louis knows it was not only from lack of sleep.

“Simon got you to sign the contract last time he came in, didn’t he?”

Harry doesn’t reply, he doesn’t have to... Louis knows already.

He could remember as clear as day; Harry’s outburst, the way he turned so bitter and angry following the days of Simon’s visit… Did Harry try to refuse to sign? Did the fucking bastard force Harry to do it?  He felt sick at the very thought.

“Why did they sign it?” Harry asks in a small voice, not looking up - mumbles unexpectedly. He sounds almost meek but desperate - trying to hide any bitterness he has deep down. “The three of them… why did they sign?”

Louis watches Harry almost wanting him to look back at him - which he doesn’t.

“To get us out, I guess” Louis says eventually. He swallows at the hollowness of his own voice.

Harry doesn’t say a word or look up - but he nods slightly, dejectedly, gloomily; bound to an acceptance he was unwilling to give.

 

…………………………………………………..

 

 

 

A day after Grimy’s visit, Harry’s therapy starts.

Dr. Sawrey had explained both Gemma and Louis about the treatment model she had chosen to be the fit for Harry earlier. A PTSD oriented behavior therapy structure called Prolonged Exposure ; a method designed with re-experiencing the traumatic events. As explained to Louis by the doctor,  the intention behind it is to identify the trauma spots and decrease the importance of the said spots by revealing it over and over again, familiarizing it.

And Louis has no freaking idea how he feels about it at all… exposing Harry to his traumatic memories sounded as bad as restoring his tattoos to him without his consent; not to mention the fact that Harry had not willingly shared absolutely any memories himself - so the first steps would be to trigger him to talk. Louis feels obnoxious about the whole thing. But in the other hand he knows that true to the doctor’s words, Harry has to get past this phase to find his way back to standing on his feet again anyway.

So, no matter how reluctant he feels or how tensed Harry looks, he waves Gemma goodbye and just watches as she takes Harry to the clinic, almost regretting not going with him this time. Although Harry does not try to fight, Louis could clearly see his internal struggle as they leave the penthouse. 

He did not want to go - that much was clear.

 

 

Dr. Sawrey had told them that she would start slow at first, letting Harry have his space to adjust. But when Harry returns from the clinic, that’s not what Louis sees.

 

Louis had been trying to pen down some thoughts and trying to put down some tunes ideas for his upcoming studio date with Chris and Julian - the bands fellow writers - in two days; wanting to do something useful when the main door opens with a curt push.

One of their security holds the door back as Alex walks in with Harry - Harry who he practically carries in with him.  Gemma follows them, fidgeting with two others from the team. Harry just shakes like a leaf, his skin pale and breath practically hitching. Eyes unfocused, fearful and his nose was running - his clutch around Alex’s shoulder seems weak and trembling in contrast to Alex’s firm grip around his waist.

 Letting his notepad fall aside the couch and the keyboard forgotten, Louis just spans up to his feet within second, striding to the door.

“Wh- what’s wrong? What happened? Is he ok?”

“He- he was fine…I- I thought he was fine, when he came out from the doctor-” Gemma says with a sniff as Alex walks, carries him in. She wipes her tearing eyes as Louis strides to support Harry’s weight from the other side. “- suddenly, he- he started breathing heavy in the car - and shivering like he has a fever or something”

“It’s a panic attack” Alex mumbles as Harry chokes a whimper, trembling all over.  Louis tightens his hold on Harry’s waist.

“Did he take the pills?”

“Yes - yeah” Gemma wipes her tearing eyes, following them. “About five minutes ago...”

Harry’s legs seem to topple over as he try to catch his breath.

“It’s fine - you’ll be fine” Louis rubs gently at Harry’s chest, feeling his raised heartbeat. Harry just heaves as if he is running out of air and Louis could practically feel the fear as he shakes.

“Take him into mine.” Louis says to Alex, trying to turn to the master bedroom - the first room in.  Harry would have better space there than his cramped room anyway.

Alex shakes the head not turning though “No, no - to his room, he won’t - doesn’t like it” He continues to carry him as Harry practically shakes, a sob cracking out of his chest.

“How do you know?” Louis snaps.

“Coz I know!”

It’s ridiculous, Louis grits his teeth. Harry would have been better comfortable in the spacer bed and larger room. But he continues to follow Alex’s lead, not arguing.

They place Harry on the bed, letting him curl into a ball, still shaking. Louis starts removing his boots and socks as Gemma pets his head, softly.

“Just breathe… breathe, Harry… it’ll pass”   Gemma coos, still wiping her own tears as Harry whimpers more.

His head buried down in sheets, hiding his face - Harry fists the sheet with a tight grip. Louis knows he’s sobbing, he could tell with the rapid shake of his shoulders though there is no sound.

He looks at Alex who looks back at him sympathetically, and for Harry’s sake - he hates it. Hates it all.

 

 

........................................................

 

 

 

Crushing weight on his body, iron grips -

He couldn’t move… couldn’t breathe… couldn’t fight … couldn’t see beyond punishing, lust crazed face - the man plunges into him merciless while he lay bare, whimpering with each thrust.

The cold dirty floor scraped his ruined back as his legs, forced apart, trembled with burning cramps. His once able limbs were useless - weak and helpless. White noise raked the ears with agonizing groans and the sound of flesh hitting flesh - his own flesh, caked with sweat, blood and semen.

It reeked through the tearing pain as his body pushed back and forth with the force of the thrusts - as if he was tied to some automated machine.

But to his horror - he was hard.

As he’s immune to the horrendous pain the rest of his body is going through. He sobs helpless as his cock finds a friction from the assaulting body on top - hips bucking up without consent, attuned to whatever the drug pumped into his veins .

He would have thrashed - if he only could… screamed until his lungs gave up.

But the choking sobs hitches his breaths as a meaty hand wraps around his neck, cutting his air supply -

Everything seems bleak, bloody and harsh, he cries, screams - because it was the only thing he was able to do…

 

 

 

“Harry…!!!  ” Louis shakes the trembling body on the bed.

“Harry please wake up..”

Drenched in sweat, Harry lets out a sound close to a sob; shaking and writhing as if he is in pain in his sleep. He is having a nightmare , Louis knows. Eyes tight shut and pale as a ghost, Harry keeps shivering - not responding to any of Louis' attempts.

It has been two days since Harry had the panic attack in the car, back to the penthouse from therapy. And since then there had been a clear shift in Harry’s moods, dejected and broody - refusing food and medication. At nights he seemed to have a severe insomnia, and he had fallen asleep just only few hours ago

“Harold!! Harry you are dreaming…” He tries again giving a slight pat to his pale cheek. "Wakeup god dammit"

Suddenly Harry he gasps for air thrashing up, as if someone is choking him, as if someone is about to cut his windpipe in a one swing, and not knowing what else to do Louis slaps his cheek harder than he intends to…

“HARRY!!! ”

Breaking up from his disturbed sleep, Harry thrashes up - eyes wide in a nightmare he is still stuck in. But the next second, sensing a presence beside him, he leaps out of bed, and crashes to the floor backwards .

“No… no - Get away… Get away from me!! ” The fear in his voice is choking... his unfocused eyes scream of horror and as he shakes like a mouse, trapped.

“Harry… it’s me. It’s me, Louis!! It’s Ok...It’s me”

His own heart hammering, Louis tries to calm the boy down. But Harry doesn’t seem to hear. Eyes still stuck in a horror, he shoots backwards - tangled in his sheets still until his back hits the wall. “Stay away!!! Stay the fuck away!!!” he cries kicking as Louis leaps towards him in a rush after switching on the dim bed lights. He drops down in front of the ranting and snarling boy who looks like a cornered animal …

"HARRY!!! IT’S LOUIS!!!!!!" he tries but it seemed useless. Tears roll down Harry's pale, fear struck face as he backs down to the wall desperately.

“Please... stay away...” he begs with broken sobs. The moment Louis closes on, Harry screws his eyes tightly shut, but kicks at him with all his might. He lunges forward as Harry struggles blue murder - shivering his guts out with unfocused tearing eyes...but Louis is ready for it. Gripping either of his arms, Louis presses him, presses him steadily back to the wall, speaking in calm but steady voice.

“You’re safe!! It’s alright!! Look at me!! Look at me!! IT”S LOUIS!!! YOUR LOUIS!! HARRY, LOOK AT ME!!!”.

Tearing and shivering - Harry’s eye’s shoots up at him - still fearful, still unfocused and wide as he pants breaths.

“It’s me. It’s Louis. It’s Ok. You’re Ok. Everything’s Ok”

Louis could feel his chest pounding - body trembling. But Harry’s jade eyes looks at him finally, seeing him. Louis slowly releases his grip and sits back on his heels while Harry heaves, curling into a ball.

“Shall I get you your pills?” Louis asks slowly as Harry wipes his eyes with sniffles. He just shakes his head, not looking at Louis.

“Do you need anything? Water?” another shake.

Louis lets him breathe, sitting there - just watching him carefully. The dim-lit room goes silent unless for the sound of heavy breaths and occasional sniffles. They sit like that for a long time, until Harry slowly moves, dragging his hand down his sweaty face with a noticeable tremble.

“I’ll wa-sh my f-face” Harry rambles, struggling to get to his feet - he breathes as if he just ran a mile, seeming to avoid looking at Louis at any cost.

“Harry”

Louis says his voice full of concern and alarmed. He gets to his feet trying to help him up but Harry moves his arm out of reach.

“I’m ok”  His voice sounds hoarse.

“Harry, you just had a nightmare.”

“I’m fine” he sniffs.

Leaning to the wall, Harry gets onto his feet and with a clear wobbliness he walks to the bathroom as Louis silently watches.

It is almost past midnight. It had seemed like a good idea for Louis to spend the night on the couch beside the bed, knowing Harry might not sleep well today - because he had slept the whole day yesterday - and of course he is certainly glad he did now.

He waits for Harry to come out, not sure if he should get him any tranquilizers or not. He hears Harry open the tap. The water seem to run forever and ever. Louis considers going in and maybe knocking - worried to death. Harry was practically heaving for air and as far as Louis knew, the panics always started like that for him. He fidgets outside the bathroom door trying to focus what to do. Should he wake Gemma or Alex? Should he just go in and check? Louis could hear the water was still running inside - and it had been too long, too long. What is Harry is having a seizure inside right now? He grips on the back of his neck with a creeping fear. He should go in… he should have followed him in the first place…   

As he was about to knock the door though, Harry comes out - behind him, the tap is still open and running. Water splashed over, Harry looks paler and lips darker, as if he had been biting them until the blood drew - droplets of water were dripping down his hair, soaking into his pale tattooed skin and loose nightshirt which is completely unbuttoned. Eyes wide and distracted, there is sort of a worn out look in his face. Harry speaks before Louis could utter a word.

“Do you have a car you can drive?” his voice is strained and rushed… eyes hardly focused.

“I - what?”

“A car?”

Louis stares at Harry’s trembling stance and red rimmed eyes. “Yes, why?”

“Can you drive me out? I- I need to go out” Harry runs a shaky hand along his face.

Louis just stares. “Harry”

“Can you drive me or not?”

“It’s passed midnight, Harry. You ar- ”

“Clubs are still open” he spats,  Louis could see he is trying to his breathe to a pattern “I need… I need to get out” His eyes are wide - and nervous.  There is an unhealthy panic lined in his face as it twitches.

“You can’t… Harry y-you are not well. Yo-”

“I’m fucking fine! I just need to get out. I c-can’t - I need to -” Harry stutters, his nostrils flaring… his whole body trembling as if his nerves were on fire. His fingers clench into fists. Eyes wide and reddening behind the green; he looks reeled up, unstable even.

 Louis sighs, eyes fixed on him.

“What, do you need someone? Someone to fuck?” he asks calmly holding his stance.

 Harry doesn’t look at him, Louis wishes he would - to see any kind of an emotion on his face rather than panic. Harry runs his fingers through his hair, gripping on his scalp and Louis could see them shaking. He watches as Harry breathe through his mouth, lips parted. Turning his head up with closed eyes, Harry pinches the bridge of his nose maybe trying to calm down, but his chest seems to be raising.

“Fuck me then” Louis says in the same calm tone, eyes fixed on his edged features.

Letting his arms fall, Harry hisses, or maybe it is a gasp - Louis wasn’t sure what.

“Fuck me… I’m as good as any” Louis repeats, taking a step towards Harry. There is a disheveled dark look in Harry’s face as he looks at him - an ill irritation and a hesitance all mixed up. He looks confused.

“You don’t need to take it on anyone else. Take it on me”

Harry presses his hand to his chest as if to stop it raising, he keeps his eyes on the level but gazes at anything but Louis.

“You don’t know what you’re saying..” he hisses with a sniffle.

“No? Think I do.” he presses in a small voice as Harry shakes his head , rubbing at his own face. “It’s my fault, whatever that happened - at least half of it.”

 Harry’s eyes shoots at Louis as Louis continues to walk towards him. Harry looks as if the roof is falling down on him and Louis wants to reach him, hold him - Harry takes a step back, and another sideways as if he wanted nothing but to stay away but  Louis just follows with an incent.

“I did this to you” Louis says - his voice still calm, as if he could control all the edges no matter what, “I know that’s how you see it. So take it out and Fuck me”

With an edged frown Harry just turns away. Out of desperation to keep Harry’s attention, Louis reaches and clutches Harry’s arm nudging him towards him -,

… and Louis doesn’t know if it was the pull or if Harry rounded back on him at the same time... but the next moment Harry grabs him by the shoulder and slams him back to the wall with a thud. And without much of a gap or a warning, cold, fidgeting set of lips smashes onto his, - Louis gasps with the unexpected collide but gives in as Harry bodily crashes in, slamming him to the solid wall again and again.

Louis tries to kiss him back at first, but as Harry bites into him rash and merciless, he jest parts his lips and lets Harry have his way.

He tastes blood.

This is Harry, his Harry - who he knew to be rather pliant and responsive in bed, wild but trusting enough to let Louis have the control over him, he thinks trying to hold on - he might have a little hard time merging that image with the one towering him now.

Being this close, Louis couldn’t focus on his face but he feels both of their hearts hammering in a race and sounds between cries and groans fills his ears - is it him or do they sound painful than pleasurable?

He tries to catch his breath as long bony fingers fists his hair, painfully dragging his head to the side and biting him on the neck, and his nails sink into his hip - which surely would have drawn blood. Louis bites his tongue to swallow the pained hiss that comes out but doesn’t make any attempt to fight - he probably couldn’t have moved even if he tried. He seeks to find Harry’s gaze but covered in a dizzy craze his usual doe eyes reflects a  lust-up madness and a desperation without a focus. Harry thrusts at him - gasping himself as if he wanted to see Louis falling off the edge he had him on, slamming him roughly back at the wall.

Louis finds his legs kicked apart. But nothing would have prepared him for the pain as Harry’s knee kicks between his thighs, intentionally or unintentionally with a hammering force, directly to his balls-  blocking him and trapping him in the space. Louis doubles down with his knees buckling, gasping in agony, all his attempts to stay silent, forgotten - his eyes tearing at the shattering pain; but he doesn’t fall, trapped between the wall and Harry’s death grip - Harry’s knee still stuck between his legs.

Without a delay he’s yanked up by his neck - slamming the back of his head to the wall. Harry wildly breathes at him, his warm breath hitting at Louie’s pain struck face - as if he wanted to have the control of every cell in his own body, desperately - as is there was no other way to have it unless he made Louis scream.

And Louis gasps at the sheer heat of the breath that blows over his face, clutching the hand wrapped around his neck. The tightening fingers around it starts to makes him choke, cutting his air supply. He tries to speak but Harry’s other hand reaches up, pressing his already flaring parts - feeling them as Louis hisses a cry, turning his face as much as he could to aside.

No.. no.. no - don’t… he thinks scrunching his eyes shut and hitting his head back as Harry sinks his hand in to Louis’ pants, feeling him, fondling him roughly right where he was kneed, right where it burns like hell -

Louis wheezes, taking as much air as he could with the tightening grip around his neck, letting tears roll as Harry’s darkened, lust hung eyes focuses on him.

There is a sudden freeze that strikes Harry the next instant - where he just stands with a raising breath. And then, Harry’s grip suddenly loosens -

 

The grips around his neck and the hip disappears as well as the knee between his thighs, making Louis almost lose his stand. Harry just takes two unsteady steps back, eyes fixed on Louis’ agonized face - horror lining up in his paling features. He just falls to his knees in front of him, face buried in his palms. For a moment, Louis tries to steady himself - coughing and trying to breathe. Pain in his lower region practically making him want to just fall - he runs his hand around his surely bruised neck, trying to grasp his breath. As he leans back to the wall for support,  he hears a broken sob.

 

“Harry” he manages to say with a hiss.

It only results a controled hiccup and a violent shake in Harry’s shoulders who has his eyes buried and face hidden in his hand. His kneeling form bent down- otherwise unmoving, Harry’s curly locks curtains his face from Louis’ gaze.

“Harry”

Louis tries again, sliding himself down - his lower abdomen hurts like hell and his neck burns inside and out… but he ignores the sourness and lowers down - reaching Harry’s prone form. Louis tries to unveil the hand from Harry’s face but the grip tightens more as he does.

“Harry… Harry it’s fine.”

A small sob comes out of Harry - and fear running red, Louis clutches Harry’s hand with both of his. “It’s, it’s ok… it’s fine. It’s fine - I told you to, right? I told you to-”

Forcing his fingers apart one by one, Louis manages to remove the grip from Harry’s face - revealing a tear struck downcast eyes with trembling lips. As soon as he does, a broken sob escapes Harry’s red bitten lips …

“I- I’m so-rry. So s-so Sorry I-”

Wrapping his arms around him in an instant, Louis drags Harry to him, and Harry just breaks down - releasing guttering sobs to his t-shirt.

“It’s ok, Harry. It’s ok… I’m yours to do whatever you want. It’s ok”

For each word that comes out, harder the sobs become - and Louis just holds him tight; unable to hold his own tears. For all the times Louis had seen Harry cry in last few weeks, this seems far worse - far agonized, it is as if suddenly the dam that had been leaking, completely broke. The pressure that pours out seemingly too much that Louis couldn’t figure if he is crying or screaming his lungs apart. He tries to console him with cooing words but nothing seems to bring the gut wrenching cries down.

For the docile, baby faced shy boy he was when they first met - and to the passionate quirky one who was confident enough to give Louis the control over him when they were still in their safe heaven - Louis couldn’t fathom the unearthly desperation and roughness Harry had flashes few moments ago. Harry had always been plaint - he was eager to be held - edged… yes but he was never rough, never cruel or appreciated being treated as such.

Was this what he went through? Was this what felt like for him everyday for the two weeks in that god forsaken warehouse?... while Louis and Zayn were simply waiting - hoping for the best... tugging at their bounds until someone came to save them?

Louis knows that it would have been much, much worse… in ways he wouldn’t ever be able to understand or imagine.

There is nothing in the world that Louis feels he wouldn’t do to just turn back time - to try and stop everything that had caused any of this ever happening. But he knows that it is all useless, empty hollow thoughts because he had failed, failed just to do that. They had broken his beautiful boy, they had just  torn him apart.

“Harry, please… please come back to me…” he whispers deep, wrapping his arms tighter around him, burying his face in mess of a curls, not knowing what else to do. Harshly reddened, gritted features and veins bulging on his  forehead, the howls of cries seem to soar with painful gasps for air. The cries doesn’t seem to stop and Louis feels fear creep into him as Harry violently shakes. “Harry, please… you are scaring me...”

Louis tries to rock him yet stops short as Harry tries blindly to grasp the floor to stop the simplest movement - it was like as if he couldn’t bear to feel the world around him.

“Harry… Harry, come back … please” he tries in soothing words, burying his face in the mess of curly hair as he hears the askewed door open into the room.

Louis doesn’t know how long Alex and Gemma watches them or how long they let Harry wail until Alex sedates him. He just feels for the second time that night the way Harry’s grip loosen on him.

The cries go down and mutes - descending the room to a silence unless some muffled voices. Removing Harry from Louis, Alex carries Harry back to his bed while Louis just remains on the floor - absolutely and completely exhausted.

Gemma plops down beside him, and she only gazes once at his bruised neck without any words. She pats his back and squeezes his hand as if to soothe him, but Louis knows he wouldn’t be, though he doesn’t utter a sound.

 

…………………………..

 

 

 

Next day, Louis takes Harry to the clinic - out of scheduled sessions.

Gemma had called Dr. Sawrey the first thing in the morning and after listening to word by word details from Louis, the doctor had requested Louis to bring Harry to the clinic.

Harry has been in a trance like mode since he woke up, as if he had been drained off. He had just stared at Louis time to time with a death like dullness in his eyes - far away from his usual hesitance or awkwardness whenever he looked at Louis. There had been no protests, no hesitance, even in his expressions, as Gemma helped him into a pair of black jeans and a grey t-shirt. It was like as if he is not there... and he had simply followed Louis and Alex down the elevator, then to the car without a word.

When the car stops at the clinic’s parking, Louis gets down and opens the door so Harry could get out. Harry does, but his wide, guilt washed eyes runs to Louis’s neck which remains covered by the black turtle neck jumper - hiding any bruises from last night from sight. Louis attempts an assuring smile, reaching for Harry’s hand.

“Come on” he whispers gently, taking the bony hand securely and clutching it to his chest.

Louis directs him like that all the way to the clinic, and Harry complies - following him silently, closely.

Dr. Sawrey invites both of them in, leading them to the white cozy couch with lime green throw-cushions. They sit, side by side with the doctor facing them, and Harry’s gaze is cast down, slightly glassy; devoid of the usual defiance automatically takes over whenever he steps into this office. There even seem to be something different in the way holds his entire self - sad and slouched… almost like a soldier who lost his war.  

The doctor speaks to Harry  lighter, gentler - assuring that eventually he would be able to see past through  everything that happened. That all he need to do is to find a serenity that he could focus on, when he feels everything else is going wild. But she says that whatever she or anyone try to do, it is ultimately Harry’s call - that it is his decision to choose to find a way out or not; that if he is willing, she would do everything in her ability to help him.

It is the soft sniffle that makes Louis’ head turn to Harry, to see that his face is damp with silent tears. Harry makes no attempts to hide it or wipe it off but he doesn’t look up either, gaze fixed on the floor.

Louis tries to reach him - console him but Dr. Sawrey gestures him not to.

“Harry” the doctor says leaning forward, her eyes kind and assuring, “Let me help you… let Louis, your sister and your friends help you -” the doctor pauses, reaching for her iPad set on the side table. Flicking it open, she turns it towards Harry.

It is a picture of all five of them, probably in mid 2012 - Louis could guess from the bow ties, blazers and preppy outlooks, (gosh they all looked so young and naïve) - Harry with short curled up hair and that pure doe eyed smile…

“If you can’t do it for you now, do it for him- ” says the doctor pointing at the green eyed boy in the picture, “- do it for the this boy… who you know well”

Harry looks at the screen without a word, fresh tears rolling down his eyes - his whole face soaked in sadness. Overwhelmed by his need  to engulf him and comfort him, Louis reaches Harry, hugging his curly haired head; not caring about anything else. And this time, the doctor doesn’t stop him.  

  

Alex drives them both back to the penthouse, with Louis sitting at the back with Harry - his hand softly clutching Harry’s. Harry’s tears hadn’t stopped - but unlike yesterday’s ones, they were silent. He looks exhausted though, as if he’s letting everything explode in his head. The doctor had handed Louis a pile of medication and asked Louis to put him sleep - and Louis is going to just do that.

 

Once they arrive- Louis takes Harry to his room. Alex frowns in disapproval and Gemma looks concerned, but with a hesitation Harry just follows Louis’ lead; walking in as Louis opens it for him, standing at the door expectantly.

Louis closes the door behind him and sits Harry on the bed, who has an unreadable expression in his tear damped face, as if the large glass windows and open balcony is pushing him to a different state of mind.

Trying to distract him out of his trance like thoughts, Louis helps Harry out of his boots and clothes - except for boxers and covers him in sheets after arranging the plush pillows behind the back. Harry just stares out of the large open windows - his gaze lost, far away in a different headspace as Louis brings him the pills.

“If you take these in a one go, I promise I’ll let you sleep as long as you want here.” he says lightly. Harry just looks at him without any attempt to take the pills.

Louis bites his lip with a sigh wishing if he could read the thoughts running in his head.

“Haz, love” he tries, sitting beside him on the bed as Harry just stares- his doe green eyes watching him intently, and his long bronzy curls haloing the pillows - Louis reaches and sweeps few strands away from the face. “Come on”

Sweeping the hand under, Louis steadies him, slowly dragging him up. Harry swallows the pills one by one as Louis gives him - he only takes a one sip from the glass of water Louis hands him.

 

“I’m sorry” Harry mumbles as Louis puts away the glass and turns to the curly haired boy to tuck him in again. “,for everything…” he says with a sniff, his sad eyes looking down now.

A single tear runs down his face and blots inn to his skin. His tone just breaks Louis’s heart.

“No…’ Louis says shaking his head as his heart panged “No.. it’s  - it’s fine… t’s not - not your fault.”

Harry sniffs at that. His body trembles slightly as it’s suddenly gone chilly.

“You need to rest,” Louis says - scooting closer, he gently nudges him to lay back, with a hand on the back of his neck. Harry complies… but brings his arm across his face, covering his eyes. “Can you close the windows?” he begs in a small voice. Another sniff.

Louis turns to the windows which are already closed with a questioning stare, but then he goes to drags the curtains on, thinking that maybe the light is too bright for him. And as he does he hears another broken sob from the curly haired boy who is hiding his face under his arm.

“It -it’s all my fau-lt…”

He hears Harry sob, voice a sleep heavy jumble - turning his way back Louis just stands there, staring at Harry’s loosen, devastated form, “...it's my fault… it’s my fault he died - you di-...” Harry gasps under his skin and Louis reaches the crying boy feeling his throat go numb. He sits beside him but fails to utter a word of consolation to the plain, cutting hurt in that tone, knowing nothing he say would matter…

I would have done the same thing… I would - if anyone did anything like that to you… I - I deserve what I got…” Harry’s voice wobbles, sounding drained and woozy. The pills seemed working, stretching him to sleep… even the light sobs seemed to get heavier.

Harry's blabbering seemed chapped, blanked - as if it was coming out of his head. But Louis could join the dots - dots about Danny Ray and Moth, and everything in between... his heart tearing at the very thoughts Harry spills...

Without any words, Louis just lightly clutches his arm, arm that is covering his weeping eyes - it seemed like the only thing he could do at that moment… for that pain - for that anguish - and it hurts…

I -  de-serve - every-thing-they di-d...”

He goes quiet then, finally surrendering to the sleep, the pills were forcing on.

With tears trickling down, Louis removes Harry’s slacked arm from his face. Sweeping away the stray strands of hair, he wipes away the damped clammy face and tucks him in, gently and silently.

Unable to stand it any longer, he then exits the room - tears still rolling down his face.

 

Gemma and Alex waits for him in the lounge, maybe they were listening - he doesn’t know. But Gemma lends him a hand and her shoulder to cry - which he does for a long time… spilling the wrecking words he just heard from Harry - the hurt and torment… and devastation in his very voice.  Alex pours him a brandy - which Louis accepts gladly, finding the burning taste soothing his hammering head.

“Why does he hate that room?” He finds him asking, wanting a distraction... a different thought in his head than Harry's agonized confession.

Gemma starts to say that it might be because it’s where the accident with Anne happened, that Harry must be still worked up about it... but Alex clears his throat with a moment of hesitation, and a sigh which makes Gemma pause in mid sentence - looking at him with questioning eyes; and Louis knows there is something else, something grimmer, something much bitter to hear.

"What is it?" Gemma asks, demands. The look Alex spares her is hesitant, regretful even - as if it was something he resented not mentioning before. As if he had wanted to spill but was too hesitant for some reason.

Louis finds him dreading each word that comes out -

“After you and Anne left - the accident, and - and guilt; he was in a bad place." Alex says in a eerily calm voice, "He’s - he went hysterical - nothing worked... nothing ... he was... umm - he, he tried to kill himself - there. The balcony ... he tried to - I -... ”

Alex bites his lip going silent, looking at none of their faces.

His deathlike hollow voice, and the painful silence that comes after, matches the clench that drains Louis’s  heart as Gemma stares at her boyfriend with a horror struck face.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"With you, I'd withstand
All of hell to hold your hand
I'd give it all,  I'd give for us
Give anything but I won't give up
'Cause you know,

That I love you,  I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long

I wanted you to stay, I need to hear you say ... that I love you

Keep breathing -  Hold on to me and, never let me go "

                       - Far away by Nickelback

 

 

 

 

Alex’s revelation on Harry came out as an unpleasant shock to Louis.

And he is sure it was the same for Gemma as well, who trusted Alex to tell her everything about Harry. The tension has been clear between her and Alex afterwards, and Louis knows enough not to poke his finger into it.

The whole thing felt like a taboo in the penthouse.

 

Louis inquires about it from Dr. Sawrey, who already knew . But no matter how much the doctor tries to reason with what might have moved Harry to take an attempt on his life,  Louis’ head goes cold each time he tries to about it. The very fact that how close they must have come to permanently lose Harry, unknowingly, going on about their own chores in London at the time   - Louis couldn’t even fathom the idea.

Knowing something like that about someone you love could eat you alive... Louis realizes. Had Harry overcome such thoughts from his mind? or is he merely hanging by a thread until he decides to just give up and call it quits again? He finds him terrified and haunted by the thought.

Louis had not  even tried to talk to Harry about anything he had reveled in his room that day - about his guilt, about saying he deserved it - no matter how much he wanted to. Mainly because he did not know how to - unsure now how to even ask him. Louis was scared to pressure him, overstep into a territory which Harry could be easily triggered. Besides, he was not sure if Harry could even remember talking to Louis, with how fazed and sad he had been that day.

Harry has not said a word about what happened between them either... nor he had implied he wanted to. He seemed rather shaken and apologetic though, eyes kept pausing on the bruises around Louis’ neck and collarbones until they faded, when he thought Louis was not noticing, Louis could tell.

 

But as a little silver line through the gloom, it also seemed what happened, happen to break some walls between them…

Maybe Harry felt that Louis had seen the worst of it, the demons he had been trying to hide. Or maybe Harry is trying to make amends to what happened. So in contrast, Harry seem a grow comfortable around Louis than he had been before. 

He even seem to prefer Louis to take him to the therapy sessions... and Louis sleeping on the couch beside Harry’s bed has become a habit. Whenever Harry suffered with night terrors - which seem alarmingly frequent - Louis would wake him up and comfort him, hold him until he fell back to sleep or get him the medication he needs. They never mention it the next day or never speak of it to anyone... yet it becomes a thing between them, specially in the hectic days Harry goes for his therapy. The therapy sessions which are scheduled once in every three days, and often lasted for hours - leaving Harry completely knackered for the rest of the day  after too much of poking and prodding around his head.

At first, Louis had been concerned that Harry would once again refuse to go to the sessions, for treatments - but Harry had not, following his schedules without complains... seeming to try a little harder than he had.   Maybe it was the little talk the doctor had given him, or something else…  nevertheless, it is progress, a huge win according to Dr. Sawrey - for him to show interest, attempt to get better - no matter how it happened.

Yet that had not meant any of it is any simpler… as Dr. Sawrey had explained.

Though Harry is willing to get better, his subconscious mind has not been as cooperative. Harry seem to have a heavily lapsed memory of those horrendous two weeks, and even the time after. Clouded and frozen due to trauma, he seem to know what happened, but only in fragments, not details. He could only remember flashes, faces and incidents which he seems to have difficulty in connecting… or sometimes confusing him if they actually happened or not.

Dr. Sawrey has been using Harry’s own scars and forensics to trigger him; the doctor even several times got Louis to join the sessions to talk - to share his side of memories - as Harry sat curled beside him; of course skipping the part where he was drugged in front of Harry, with the doctors advice. It was like walking in a nightmare over and over - but Louis does as the doctor asks - for Harry’s sake.

The process has not been easy for Harry, especially not in the beginning - they all knew it is not. His night terrors and panics heightened and Harry seemed to go bipolar with his moods swinging like a swing, especially after sessions in the clinic. Even his mending connection with Louis has not helped - but at least now Louis could be there for him to some extent, to ease his turmoil.

Between the sessions, Dr. Sawrey  encouraged Harry to do other things… gym, reading, scrabble, TV - anything random that Harry would likely to relax doing - to get his mind away from the draining treatments.  Also Harry is given tasks to complete, simple things like meeting people and interacting  or doing something he enjoyed doing but haven’t done since the incident. It is an attempt to encourage Harry to his normal patterns gradually - to mingle with his friends and family. Louis even takes Harry to James’ home for a lunch once. Though Harry stays quiet for the most of it, Cordens does their best to act normal. Harry had not reached to Anne yet, and none of them pressure him to - knowing he will in his own time. He seems to be talking with Grimy again - and possibly Jeff as will but none other... Louis doesn't give much thought to it, thinking it's actually better that Harry is willing to speak with someone at least.

 

In his good days, Harry seems to come out of his room more and more lately. And he seem to spend more time engaging with Gemma and Louis - even Alex. They play FIFA - like they used to do ages back... sometimes as groups and sometimes only them two together. It was something Harry had completely dropped out of, probably  because it was Louis's obsession - and after these years Harry seems actually shit at it. Louis nostalgically realizes that Harry could still get Louis to let him win with his ridicules pouts and kidlike hype when he gets in to playing.

They even start to watch movies - fighting for turns to choose because Gemma always ends up choosing indie movies with sad ass plots. And two of them always seem to team up - to Gemma's' utter irritation, racing up and down to distract her and high fiving when they manage to secure the remote before her.

Louis in a way feels concerned of their building comfortableness. Because no matter how civil they have come to be, it felt as if there is an invisible line which Harry dared not to cross with him… a hesitance that runs in his eyes when they were not plying around... like he is always going to take a step back at any moment. When they were out in front of people, they both seem to sync - yet when it is just them , unless when Harry is hit by his night terrors, Harry seem to be on sort of a guard when Louis’s with him alone.

And Louis does not know what to read from it

 

 

 

On a Monday like any other, Louis takes Harry to the clinic for a check up. Louis had planned to take him out to lunch today, to the same cafe  which now had become a regular place for them… at least good food and some colour would cheer Harry up a bit.

Louis definitely needed it today,  after a phone call he had received in the morning - from Simon. He had been dreading it since days now and for his surprise it had been less dramatic than he expected. Simon had actually thanked Louis for his input on Harry’s progress and Louis had tolerated him without saying something back for once - though he was tempted to point out that nobody needed to thank him for anything he does for someone he cares. But for the sake of Simon’s good tone, he swallows it. In the end though Simon had mentioned that they both  would need to return to London probably within a month's time - to start appearances and album production… and it had been eating him alive.

Waiting outside for Harry, Louis texts almost everyone possible out of boredom and with the retarded time differences, only Lottie had texted him back - amid her holiday in Paris with a friend. They had been texting back and forth with news from home, which made him realize that he hadn’t actually called home properly since he came to LA. His mother, Dan and Fizz had been downright against his decision to come to LA, saying that Simon is just using him and his connection to Harry to get done what he wants (which he knew already), but Lottie had offered to come with him… maybe knowing that it was no use telling him to stay away. And of course Lottie and Harry had always remained friends, despite of everything. Maybe Lottie starting to work with Lou had everything to do with it.

 

‘How’s he doing?’ she texts in the end, refraining from asking anything about Harry until then.

He stares at the simple two letters and almost considers replying ‘ fine’, even types the words but deletes it.

Lottie: ‘??’

Louis: ‘Not that good to be honest. I’m not sure’

Lottie: ‘Where are you?’

Louis: ‘Clinic. He’s in a checkup’

Lottie: ‘Call me then’

Louis: ‘Later. He should be coming out soon’

Louis doesn’t feel talking sitting here. He really doesn’t.

Lottie: ‘Met Pezz the other day. Di Zayn tell you?’

Louis: ‘tell me what?’

There was a pause… and looking up Louis sees Harry coming out. He gets up typing;

Louis: ‘??’

Louis: ‘H’s done. Have to go’

Lottie: ‘call later?’

Louis: -thumbs up-

 

Pocketing his phone, Louis watches the weary expression on Harry’s face. “Alright?”

Harry simply nods, wanting to get out of the place - Louis could tell.

Once in the car, he asks Alex to drive them to the Café Habana. Harry stays quiet but from the way his muscles eases a bit Louis knows he is more than ok with it.

With the scheduled session with Dr.Sawrey tomorrow, Harry had not appreciated having to go to the clinic today much. He had even asked Louis to check if he could have the appointment tomorrow after the therapy session with a frown but Louis knew well enough Harry would not be able to handle both in the same day.

 

As the car stops Louis gets down, with his shades on. Alex stays back as they both step into the lush surrounding of the café. It is slightly crowded but Louis had called the reception so they have their usual reserved room upstairs.

“Did you text Gems? She said she might ask us to pick something.” Louis asks as they step in.

Harry shakes his head taking out his phone “Alex?”

“We’ll get him the usual burrito. Ask Gems.”

“Ok”

 

The manager greets both of them, asking a waiter boy to show them to upstairs. As he is about to follow Louis spots a familiar face in the table near reception sitting with another.

“Is that Jeff?” he points out to Harry who stops abruptly following Louis gesture.

Jeff sees them and waves to which Louis waves back. He gets up coming towards them as the other sitting with him turns towards them without following him. He looks vaguely familiar but Louis couldn’t remember from where.

Louis steps down and goes around Harry to greet Jeff, because Harry doesn’t move, looking from Jeff to the other person who remains in his seat - he looks back at Harry with a hint of a smile.  

Jeff shakes Louis’ hand with a pat to the back and then moves to Harry.

“What brings you two here? H, alright?” Jeff invades for a hug, though Harry seemed taken aback for a second, he manages to hide it though.

Louis had thought Harry was fine with Jeff… he usually was, right?

“Yeah, you?” Harry mumbles.

“I’m good. Just came back from New York. You’ll here for lunch? Why don’t you join us?”

Louis looks sideways to Harry. Wouldn’t it be a bad idea for two for them to sit out in public? Yes this is a photo free zone but… And what about Jeff’s friend?

“We are here for take away” Harry says nervously, looking at Jeff’s friend who decides to come to them at that moment.

Louis just looks at Harry but doesn’t say anything. Maybe he’s not in a mood for company… not even for Jeff. Louis could sense an unease in Harry, from the way his eyes narrows to the floor as Jeff’s friend step in the to the circle they were standing.

His face looks familiar in a sort of a way but Louis was not sure from where.

“Harry, you seem well” the guy says with a friendly tone. Louis tries to remember where he might have seen him before, with the realization that Harry knows him. The guy seemed well poised, effortlessly handsome and tall with a fine built, slightly taller than Harry. Blue eyes and short curled hair… Louis has surely seen him before. “Louis, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but we’ve met …” he says in a clean voice, “- in the hospital after the - the accident, when you came to see Harry. I’m Xander Ritz.”

Louis shakes his hand. Of course now he remembers. He was with Jeff and his wife when they visited Harry… once or twice.

“Did you’ll order yet?” Jeff asks.

For some reason Xander doesn’t approach Harry to shake his hand or hug like Jeff, though he eyes him with a tight smile - and Harry seems... awkward?

“Not yet. We just got here”

“Yeah? Oh are we interrupting?”

“No… no. We are just here for take away. Won’t take much time anyway right?” Louis says looking at Harry who runs his hand through his hair without a word, eyes on the floor.

It feels weird. Jeff is Harry’s friend and seemed like Xander too. Louis hardly knew them and Harry is acting as he had swallowed a silent pill and needed to disappear. It was strange, because apart from Grimshaw, Jeff was the only other person who visited penthouse regularly - though the changes in Harry’s condition had prevented their visits. But Louis had seen Harry texting recently, so he had assumed Harry to still be in contact with them.

Jeff keeps looking at Harry calculatingly.

Is there sort of a tension between them? Louis isn’t even sure when he saw Jeff lastly.

“Is Mike waiting for you then?” Xander asks eyeing the waiter boy who was still standing few feet away. Louis’ glad that Xander is at least trying to break whatever the tension.

“Yeah we thought we’ll wait upstairs but it’s fine...”  Louis says with a shrug as Xander gestures the waiter boy to come.

“Mike, take the order for the gentlemen, make it extra - they’ll sit with us, hope that’s ok?”

Xander offers and there is something too pleasant and polite the way he speaks which puts Louis in a real ordeal to decline.

“Umm.. Yeah. No, are we chipping in though? Didn’t realize this is your place”

“Oh, no… this place is not mine actually. My uncle owns the place and I just drop in to check when he’s out of town, and you are definitely not chipping in” He smiles pleasantly.

Louis vaguely remembers Harry telling him this place was owned by one of his friend’s uncle… so, this is the friend. He spares an eye on Harry to if he’s following, and sees him tagging behind silently with Jeff. Is it just him or does Harry look seriously awkward?

Is he irritated because Louis agreed to sit with them? But these are his friends not Louis’... he’s just trying to be nice for once… they will be leaving soon anyway - so much for the lunch out plan.

“Shall I order punch? Fruit? Harry?”  Xander asks sitting down and  Louis gets the feeling Harry has had enough fruit punches here. Xander watches them as Louis ushers Harry to a seat  out of habit.

“No, thanks” Harry just mumbles not really looking at Xander’s face. And he slightly hesitates before sitting down, maybe he prefers a bit of space in front of Xander and Jeff, Louis thinks feeling awkward suddenly.

“Louis?”

He looks up to Xander’s face. “Punch?”

“Not a fruit fan. I’m good” Louis says taking the seat next Harry.

“I can order something stronger..?”

“Nah, I’m good. Too early”

“Tell you what,-” says Jeff suddenly, looking at Xander “- why don’t you two catch up? Me and Louis can go for a smoke.” He pats Louis’ shoulder with a squeeze as Xander stares. Louis could tell, they were communicating with eyes - and an awkwardness was floating in the air. He never thought of Jeff as a smoker… doubted if he really is...  Is this about what Grimy mentioned? Is Jeff trying to corner him too… to get him to talk?

A small irritation creeps into his thoughts but he feels rude refusing - he’s trying to be polite to Harry’s friends for god’s sake.

“ - two of you can also join but I know how serious you two get about anti smoking” Jeff adds and Xander huffs a smirk. Louis wonders if it is meant something else or not, he just smiles wearily.

“Good for the non smokers then” he says getting up.  Harry finally meets  his gaze from his slouched form as he does. “Could you place the order. Same as the last time for me and Alex… and text Gems?”

Harry just nods.

It’s good for Harry to hang around with someone outside for once - someone he knew - might bring him perception of his old self, or so Louis thinks as he follows Jeff.   

 

 

“When are you’ll planning to go back?” Jeff asks leaning back to the short wall, returning the silver lighter to Louis.

Louis takes time to answer taking a long puff and a sigh.

“Not sure yet. Will be here for a bit I guess.”

Jeff nods. His previous friendly mode seem to merge into something silent and skeptical. Louis could practically see the interrogation coming …

“Harry seems better”

Louis takes a drag without a word, not sure what to say. Clearly there is a visible change in Harry from the days Jeff must have last visited to now - hell, so many things happened since then.

“Simon surely knows what he’s doing , bringing you here”

Jeff says carefully. He betrays no irony nor anger in his face and Louis just smiles wearily at that. Louis doesn’t even feel too irritated about the fact that they all seem to consider him as Simons’ pawn. Maybe he should feel angrier.

All Harry’s friends seem to have a tendency to hate him.

“Everything’s not always what it seem to be.” he says calmly with another puff.

But he feels tired of this - Harry’s friends keep hinting he’s here to play Simons puppet, well he’s bloody not. “I’m not here because of Simon, I’m not his lap dog, unlike what Grimy or any other think. Harry himself knows that better than anyone. He might have let Simon or Magee push him around, Jeff, but I’m definitely not Harry.”

Jeff stares at him the whole time, his expression not changing a bit. There was no hate there.

“You with him?” he asks casually, playing with a pebbly spot with his shoe.

Louis glares at him, not uttering a word.

“You two together?” Jeff looks up at Louis from the pebble, and he still sounds calm for some reason. It irritates Louis more. Well he could understand Grimy asking him, being the insufferable knob he is. But he did not expect Jeff to do the same.

“I’m gonna pretend that you just didn’t ask me that…” Louis says taking a hit. He blows the smoke out sooner than he prefers to. “- because it's none of anyone's’ business, not yours and definitely not Grimy’s”

Jeff watches him calculatingly as if he wanted to say something, but then just nods looking away. Maybe he looks troubled, Louis is not sure.

Jeff leans back to the wall, and they puff through the sudden awkwardness that’s crept in, in silence. Louis doesn’t even attempt to speak. He stares at the people in the garden, enjoying their fresh salads and sun…

“They used to date…” Jeff says after a good long minute. Louis looks at Jeff who had his eyes on some couple fighting over what to choose. “H and Xander used to... Did you know?”

And it was Louis’ turn to stare.

“Until the accident… until he came here. H was proper into him.” Jeff says without a pause, turning his eyes to Louis, calmly.  “He was happy… both of them. They were good for each other.”

Louis just stares. Suddenly he feels some white noise building around him.

Harry acting uneasy, Xander’s hesitant but friendly polite manner, Jeff dragging him out - away from Harry and Xander, Louis gets it now… sort of. Or is this some sort of a wako story Jeff and Grimy had come up with to poke him? But Harry suddenly turned awkward, more than he usually does when meeting someone the moment  he saw Xander.

What is Jeff Trying to do? Set Harry back with this boyfriend again? Ex-boyfriend apparently…

Louis suddenly feels betrayed and out of loop. He had always liked Jeff - but then, he hardly knows him.

“I’m not sure how that’s relevant.” Louis says hiding the irrelevant stinging feeling inside.

Of course all of them knew about Harry’s flings - maybe not this particular one but… Harry was never too into anyone for too long anyway - as far as he knew , not after Louis. Why is Jeff making this sound like it’s something serious… and, and had Harry been dating Xander that whole time everything including the kidnap happened? Has he been seeing someone else when that lunatic taunted him with Louis?  He feel his heart racing inside - he doesn't want to feel fucked up than he already does, seriously... All Louis wants is to get the hell out from here.

Taking a long puff from the cigarette, he checks his watch.

“It’s time we head back I guess. Promised we’d bring lunch for Gemma”

Jeff just nods crushing his stick and throwing it to the bin.

“There's been offers for him - for solos, for sometime. But he refused. Keep refusing, when he should just take it. Anyone who knows can see that you’ll are stuck in there for no reason.”

Louis throws his half burnt cigarette to the same bin, not looking at Jeff.

“I thought you should know” Jeff says.

Louis just nods to himself and walks back in without sparing another word.

Jeff doesn’t follow him.

 

Louis doesn’t know what to expect from the supposed former couple when he walks back to the table - Talking? Arguing? Laughing? Heart eyes? He hopes to god for nothing close to PDA. Why the fuck is he feeling as if he is interrupting them??

He’s almost relieved to see the two sitting across in the same table, good feet away from each other. Xander’s gaze is on Harry, and Harry’s is down cast. They were clearly talking in what seemed like lapsed words. Harry looks awkward still, his posture nothing but relaxed.

Louis doesn’t like the feeling of relief that washes him for some reason, but he couldn’t help it.

Luckily their take away bags were piled on the table already. He approaches the table with the friendliest smile he could manage at the moment.

“Time to go I guess.” he says.

Looking at Louis over his shoulder Harry sits back with a sigh, still not looking at the man in front of him.

“Smells good. All here?”

“Yeah”

Harry stands, picking up several bags. He avoids looking at Xander’s face.

“What did you get for Gems?” Louis asks peeping into the bags breathing in. They can’t just rush out, can they…ex- boyfriend or not, Louis doesn’t want to feel intimidated by his presence.

“Omelette a su gusto and a spinach salad” Harry mumbles not looking up.

“Great… I’ve once had it with sweet chili and eggplant salad in Hawaii… changed my view on eggs and salads completely. Never thought of that combination”

“Yeah? You should try our Chicken and mangoes. Weirdest combinations makes the best dishes… fact” Xander says.

“Sure does… ain’t it?” Louis tries to keep the smile and turns to Harry. “ Shall we? My stomach will not appreciate the waiting after smelling that. And I don’t want Gems on my toes. Xander, lovely to see you then, pal. Thanks for your help” Louis attempts a smile.

“Anytime… Good to meet too, Louis.” Xander extends his hand and Louis has no other option than to shake it. Louis sees Xander attempting to catch Harry’s eyes but failing. But then he looks back at Louis and smiles.

“Say hello to Gemma from me. Will see you around.”

 

In the car ride back to the penthouse, Louis doesn’t ask anything from Harry who sits with slouched shoulders staring outside silently. Maybe he should have, because Harry becomes moody afterwards, resigning to the bed after a quick, silent lunch,  pretending to sleep for the rest of the day.

He tries not to think too much into it. But he could not help it.

Had Harry really been serious with Xander? Is that why maybe Harry is trying to keep a distance with him, because he still had feelings for him?

Is he, Louis, standing between them, trying to bring back something that had long been over?

 

Lighting his cigarette, Louis walks out to the balcony of his room - the same balcony Harry had tried to put an end to all of it. He puffs away, trying to imagine what Harry must have  felt at the time - alone, and strapped to a baggage of guilt and despair he never deserved or wished for. He tries to think of their past, innocent, clueless and naive.

They were so hopelessly in love, building homes in each others arms even in the impossible setting they were  … it seemed like ages ago now. He tries to think about all those times he felt he needed to keep away from Harry after their break up, just in case he fell right back into his habit of loving him, caring for him. But in the end, that is what exactly happened isn’t it? Louis had fallen right back for him, effortlessly, hopelessly and shamelessly.

But what about Harry?

Is there anything left in Harry of that past ? of their love?

After all the mistakes, all the heartache and all the misuses Harry had made to endure, could Louis really expect Harry to have waited for him?

No matter what Dr. Sawrey says, what if Louis is something Harry managed to let go of? Managed to get over with growing up fast?

Jeff had spoke how they were into each other, Harry and Xander…  how they were good for eachother… does that mean that Harry had gotten over Louis?

 

Was Harry in love with Xander? Is he still in love with him?

 

……………..

 

 

 

 

Things seem to get a little better… things concerning Harry’s recovery.

Improvement was slow but steady but Dr. Sawrey’s attempts seem to result progress. With his time between therapy, therapy assignments, gym with his trainer, FIFA sessions with Louis and watching TV, Harry seem to have laid off his self destructive habits.

And with Gemma around, Harry has less chance for alcohol and  no way of avoiding the diet she is putting him on.

So for once, Louis feels as if they’ve got a hang on Harry for some amount.

 

Louis tries his hardest to keep his demons to himself because as far as he is concerned, getting Harry back to his feet and to his old self seemed like the priority, though an unwanted sting of a feeling is ever present in the back of Louis’ mind.

He couldn’t help feeling edgy - though he keeps it to himself.

Of course it is partly because of his new found knowledge about Xander and all the things he dare not ask Harry at this point, but also it is because he keeps feeling blocked when it comes to Harry. He doesn't know how to really explain it. But there seem to be a raging silence between them, a silence that seem to grow.

Harry’s nightmares hadn’t really stopped either, though they had become less frequent. The three seater beside Harry’s bed had now come to be Louis’ permanent bed. And Louis feels they have begun to have different relationships during night and day - especially when Harry ends up having night terrors. Sure they spend time, play surprisingly calm FIFA games and talk what not - but Harry seem to find comfort in Louis arms in tough nights, even seeking for his touch, unlike in daytimes where he maintains an intentional distance. They don’t really talk about any of it between them, and Louis retains from bringing up Xander, Jeff or Grimy - no matter how much of an outsider it all makes him feel.

But all in all, for the extent he knows Harry, he feels Harry is walking inside some invisible circle he had drawn around himself - only touching the edges, but not really crossing it. He could not really explain it even if he tried.

 

 

On a one Friday after a much lighter therapy session, Ed calls Harry - asking them to join a casual house party at Taylors. And Harry says yes. He only tells Louis after.

Louis wasn’t sure if this is old Harry’s habit of trying to please everyone, trying to be nice to everyone.

He doesn’t say anything but only looks at Harry with the unspoken question, are you sure? Harry had just looked down - seriously does Harry have any sense of what he can or cannot face anymore? Because for Louis, a room full of his posh, chatty friends with no clue of what’s really going on with Harry does not seem like something he should jump into at this stage. But  unfortunately when Gemma and Alex try to protest and Harry becomes moody about it, Louis takes Harry’s side.

 

And that should be the exact reason Louis is sitting on one of couches near the fireplace in a room in Taylor's cozy LA house with a beer in his hand feeling quite out of place. They have arrived quite late and now he’s hiding in a corner, so he had only barely seen Ed - or Taylor in that matter.

It is a private party with an odd mix of people, from pretentious idiots to some actual names of the industry -  pros behind the flashlights, artists, writers photographers… ones who have their name out there - not the picture. They all seem to know Harry regardless, and Louis feels like an alien amid this crowd.  

Few feet away, Harry is hanging  with sort of a hipster artist with a hat, probably chatting about some random art club which Louis had no clue on. After following Harry around the house, meeting total strangers who stared at him as if they had no idea who he is and probably trying to imagine why he’s here with Harry at the first place, Louis had decided to let Harry to his meet and greets. He had actually forgotten how much of a people magnet Harry is really… It’s strange how Harry at times detests being around people now and then suddenly becomes social and extrovert like his old self. It is like a switch that goes on and off without a control. Louis watches warily as Harry’s face lights up with a smile for something the artist block might have said - trying to ignore feeling a little left out himself.

Is it easier for Harry to pretend everything is normal around this crowd or is he genuinely feeling much home here?

Taking a rather hasty gulp, Louis continues to watch Harry, who effortlessly looks striking and well styled in his red silk shirt with ruffled cuffs. With the collar slightly loose and hair flowing down the shoulders, he looks the Harry Styles everybody recognizes as, despite everything else that had been going on...

 

“Alright, man?”

Louis almost startles as a mass of a red head topples down next to him. Ed.

With a red plaid shirt worn over a white band t-shirt - Ed is Ed… he had always been. Louis finishes the last bit of his beer and takes the bottle Ed offers.

“Thanks”

“Cats man. You think after whole three years with her, Olivia would have gotten used to people in house parties. Never ceases to amaze me.” Ed blurts gulping down half the bottle. He’s probably half drunk.

“Whose Olivia?”  

“Taylor’s cat”

“Oh”

“She’s in Taylor’s room, hissing at anyone who dares to pass the room. Adrian tried to get in and thought it was a snake. Taylor’s sure she’s in one of her moods. Have you ever thought of getting a one… maybe a dog. I mean I have. Maybe I will this week”

Louis hisses a laugh. Yeah definitely drunk. “So you are going with the time off plan?”

“Sure do. High time I got my break, now you lot have gone into hiding” Ed nudges Louis lightly.

“What’s the plan then? Disappear into the countryside and apparate back with an album?”

“Something like that… though I have no guarantee for the album.”

Louis nods and takes another sip as an excuse to glance at Harry, who is following a girl into the house… probably one of Taylor’s girls. She looks slightly familiar.

“I don't blame you’ll you know…” Ed says “ for taking off after that. You’ll deserved this break”

Louis just sighs.

“I’m sure Harry did. He still seem a little woozy though. Did he get into trouble with Magee again? Or that whole lot… or Simon?”

Louis spares a careful glance at Ed. “Can’t remember a time that we weren’t in trouble with’em actually.”

Ed smirks with a nod. “Good times” he raises the bottle.

“Or bad” says Louis, hitting the bottle with his.

Ed empties the bottle and sets it down. His phone beeps and he smiles taking a look at the screen.  “Going to Timberlake’s gig the day after with some mates. Got 5 extra tickets. You two wanna join?”

“Cool… but Nah, us together in a gig in the break? Media will have a field day, so will our management”

Ed nods with a pout. He seems to be thinking… and Louis could see the inevitable coming.

“Not to be a prick, but I was surprised when Taylor told me that you two are in LA together”

Louis raises his brow without looking at Ed and nods.

“There’s been talk, about Harry. Hush hush… None of my business but you know how the industry is. We live off gossip - media does. Surprised media had not caught up yet. But..-”

“What kind of talk?” Louis asks carefully.

“That he’s umm … running a bit high after the accident - partying and … women, men sorts - the DJs, bouncers, bands, they talk around. Didn’t realize you are here with him.” Ed says sheepishly.

Well Louis is not surprised. No Matter how much Simon and his teams tried to cover up, Harry’s face is too recognizable to cover up. Whatever the damage done was done.

“He was in a bad place” Louis says, not sure what he’s trying to explain to Ed or why.

 

Ed just nods thoughtfully - though he does not look like he’s sober enough to do so.

 

“Good that you’ll came today. Both of you. It’s good to see you two well”

Louis taps on the glass bottle. “Didn’t have a choice, did I?”

Ed sniggers with tight lips. “Harry?”

Louis smiles lopsided and Ed just stares at him.

“Wondered how he managed to drag you to Taylor’s actually, considering” Ed bites his lip, leaning forward. Well, Ed knew how Louis felt about many of the pretentious crowd here. Hell, Ed knew how bitter Louis was with Taylor at one point. Only very few in the close circles knew about on off hookups Harry had with Taylor after his breakup with Louis - until Taylor decided to sell it to public to decorate her last Album.

“We were all worried, you know”

Ed decides to says after noticing Louis’ weary expression.

Louis smiles at that with a sigh. “Everyone seem to say so”

Ed shakes his head “Man, you’ll just disappeared after that freak accident. It was all over the news, pictures and footage... but no one could reach you’ll. Media said you two were critical but no one was allowed to visit. I spoke with Liam once, like when you’ll were still in the hospital and he was seemed pretty shaken. Niall still hasn’t replied me. Figured you’ll need some time so laid off  - but then Taylor called and told me you two are in LA ”

Louis shrugs, not sure what to say “We were all in a rough patch I guess”

Ed sighs. “Yeah, I could tell.”

At that moment a man enters the room with a bark of a loud laugh with open arms at a woman, Alexa Chung - and Louis could hit his head on a rock for the irony. Of course, Grimy.

But when did either Ed or Taylor hanged around with Grimy? His tiny hope of not getting noticed falls dust as Grimy’s eyes land on him as he hugs Alexa.

Ed gives a single wave to the quaffy DJ while Louis just stares. Grimy waves back, and Louis knows that Grimy’s going to come to them the next, and the last thing Louis needed now is to scorn at him.

Muttering about wanting a smoke, Louis excuses himself from Ed. He had no idea where Harry was…but amid this crowd Harry is probably alright, prancing around making wee entrances at people.

 

He goes upstairs, where several people were getting ready for a jamming + karaoke session - including Taylor. He skips them with smiles and waves and steps out to the balcony, wanting to escape.

The wind is slightly chilly, but it is a clear night with a starry sky, calm yet flashy in it’s own way. Reaching for the packet of cigarettes in his pocket, Louis lights a one up. But after few drags he just throws it away - feeling choked up inside his head in this weird setting.

A year back, he thought he had sorted most things in his life - he was in the world’s top most band with a work heavy contract which was about to end, plans for an unplanned break which would have given him space to work out what to do next, enough money to extend his vacation for probably more than three years and maybe ideas to set a recording studio and a management company of his own. He was not with the love of his life but he had a steady girlfriend who cared for him and herself. And after an year, here he is, in the balcony of one of the exes of his ex, in a party with a bunch of strangers and few people who probably hates him and he hates, broken up with his girlfriend, in the same band and the management which somehow had trapped them for another three years.

Seriously…

His mind turn to Harry - the way he had been, and the way he is now.

How dependent and vulnerable he is in a one second and how he merges with this social and flashy Harry Styles the world sees him as. Looking at him in this place, the way he automatically flaunts himself, no one in the world could guess the things he’s hiding in his skin and head. He looks like the person who's ‘got it’ - has everything and more… the people magnet.

And Louis doesn’t have a clue how to take it.

Harry anyway had many friends throughout the industry. Even when they were together, Harry was keen on meeting different people, different opinions - he always had an untamed curiosity for people. Breaking up with Louis probably gave him more reasons to branch out, to get away from their common friend circles.

And now, people just knew Harry. And if you knew him, you liked him - it is sort of a thing about Harry… There is no way to deny his charm. And Louis couldn’t help wonder if their break up actually spread his wings, made Harry the person he is - away from Louis and his overwhelming insecurities.

Was he, Louis, holding Harry back when they were together in those years... trying to keep him to himself when the world wanted him to spread his wings? Did he try to clip Harry’s wings then, when he had so much to offer and gain?

Louis thinks about Xander, his pleasant, poised character - the way it might have undoubtedly complemented Harry’s. How easily they might have gotten along… how good they might have been for each othe r - like Jeff said.

Yes, young Harry loved Louis - followed him around like a lost puppy, looked at him like he hung the moon for him - even now, Harry looks comfortable with him around; his attention,  concern and presence.

But this Harry... who has so many levels to himself even after everything, who has an aura of a born pop star, knows what to say and do to make people fall in love with him without an effort and who had or still has record deals lining up for him the minute he steps out of this god forsaken brand… could this Harry possibly  love him? Could Louis be enough for him?

Seriously-  why is he, Louis here amid this crowd and this part of Harry he has no clue about?

What is he doing here?

What is he trying to prove… to Harry, to himself… or to people around them?

Louis does not know how long he stands there in the chilly wind, staring blankly at the sky.

He feels hollow for some reason - as if he had spent all his energy and now need  someone to breathe some life to him… at least to talk.

Maybe he should have asked Stan to come back… or Lotts. He actually never called Lottie after the messages. Maybe he should call Zayn, tell him what’s really being going on… everything that he’s been hiding for no reason. Perhaps Liam… he should have asked Liam to come - he even offered to come, right?

 

From his back Louis hears the door to the balcony open. The sound of someone playing the keyboard off-key comes up and fades as the door closes.

Louis almost turns around but,

 

“I thought you’ve left” the deep slow voice says. And Louis doesn’t need to see to know it is.

Placing his hands on the short timber wall, Harry settles next to Louis; curls flowing, face calm. He looks relieved for some reason.

“Taylor told me you are here” his green eyes sparkles and his cherry lips tilts up, complimenting the colour of his shirt.

Could anyone be so gone for someone… Louis wasn’t sure. He just nods leaning forward. “Would have told you if I was leaving”

“Yeah, I know...” Harry says, his fingers tapping on the wood. His lips suddenly tight and hesitant.

 

He stands there, pigeon toed on his heeled boots, eyes huge like a calf’s - unsure and kidlike, faraway from the pop star Styles he had been confidently parading himself with minutes before.

And Louis suddenly has no idea what to do with him from where he stands - too scared to reach out incase he triggered him, too concerned not to do anything either, to let this curly haired lad slip away once again for good. Everything seemed like such a jumble.

They just stand there with no words exchanged, longer than they really should.

And there it is - the edging, painful silence between them. Some invisible line which Louis has no idea why Harry won’t cross.

Even before anything started between them, they were close, friends, partners in crime, buddies - maybe it’s not the love that Louis misses the most … it is that closeness, openness and transparency that Harry so confidently entrusted him with. When they broke up, Louis had El to cover it up with but now… It is hard to stand beside each other pretending they are nothing but strangers.

“You seem alright there. Most of them - you know them.”

Harry stares at his hands, he’s probably cold in that loose necked silk shirt. Louis watches as the long chocolate curls kept blowing, dancing to the gusts of wind.

“I didn’t thanked you for agreeing to come. Gems wouldn’t have let me otherwise”

Louis just shrugs, what’s Harry doing… trying to keep him company because he seems alone?

“You should go inside.” he tells him turning back to the dim lit street. “Your friends are probably going to look for you.”

“We are friends” Harry says sheepishly. “Technically it makes you their friend too”

And the mischievous tone makes Louis look at him again. It’s one thing when Harry uses this tone at him when playing scrabble with Gemma or when Louis intentionally lets him win in FIFA … but here, now… it felt too intimate.

“Grimy’s here” Louis says out of the blues… though he has no idea why.

Stupid thing to say probably. Harry’s smile merges into something calculating - as if he is trying to read Louis.

“Is that why you came here… to skip him?”

“I wasn’t skipping anyone” he lies. “Just needed a smoke”

Harry nods slowly, biting his lip.

“You didn’t tell me that he came to see you...”

Louis stares at the sky with a shrug, annoyed, at Grimy. The douche has to go around complaining like a 4 year old…?

“What’s there to tell, I mean apart from us arguing. It’s the same old story in’it? It’s not worth piling into your head.”

Leaning back to the wall Harry stares at Louis warily. His long curls blows right into his face, hiding half of his features but Louis could make the green eyes even in the dark. He looks unnecessarily handsome in this setting, Louis could not help noticing.

“You are both my friends. I nee-” Harry starts with a matter of fact tone but stops abruptly as Louis take few steps back with a bitter sneer.

“That’s… that’s the thing isn’t it?” he asks with a sudden haziness that clouds his mind. With the mention of Grimy, the way Harry is looking at him now, eyes wide with his sealed cherry lips, in this very balcony - Taylors balcony - these people, this party, Jeff, Xander - it feels as if everything is running circles around them… the two of them. Louis shakes his head with itching eyes on Harry’s deadpan face. He brushes his hand over his mouth, watching him.

“Harry -”

Louis stops, looking away from him, trying to find his words - a way to be more reasonable, less edgy. To hell with Grimy, to hell with Xander and hell with Jeff.

“I’m not - I can’t - I’m not your friend , Harold. I don’t think I, we can be friends … you and me.”

He looks at Harry’s widened cow-eyed gaze and alarmed face - his perfectly structured but alarmed face. “We’ve passed that stage long back, Harry. That’s why this is not working… this - this thing between us - it’s not… I can’t lie to you - to your face.” Louis pauses, his gaze still on Harry’s face, noticing his eyes go glassier.

Harry’s fingers shakes slightly - Louis wants to reach him, catch the ringed, long fingered hands on his own and warm them with his. But he doesn’t, pushing himself to keep going. “I- I’m fed up of this whole pretending… tiptoeing. We suck being friends, Harry, we absolutely suck at it and I know it and you know it… we can’t be just friends because I’m still in l-”

“D- don’t-”

Harry cuts suddenly - his jaw slightly slacking, voice numb and face slightly turned to a side. But his green eyes are on him. He looks almost scared as if the next thing Louis would say might burn him, like he exactly knew what it is going to be.

“- don’t, please...” It comes in a whisper. His nostrils flares, wide glassy eyes set on Louis’ face as if he is about to run away like a deer caught in headlights.

Louis stares at him, words chuffed - wishing he could actually talk to this boy in front of him. Say the things he actually meant to say. Find the right words to ease the fear flashing from his eyes. He doesn’t want to overload Harry in his vulnerable situation but this rigid silence between them is making him go mad. He wants - needs to know where he stands, where they stand ...

“I broke up with El”

He says, watching him - trying to read each and every line, motion in Harry’s face.

Harry’s glassy green eyes just stares at Louis with heavy breaths - filled with guilt and fear -  as if he wanted nothing but to run away.

And the next moment that is exactly what he does.

Turning away he walks to the balcony door, opening it without looking back at Louis once and exiting the windy balcony, the door slamming behind him.

 

It takes only seconds for Louis to follow, partly concerned and astonished by Harry’s abrupt exit and scared out of wits that he’d said something utterly stupid to set him off.

Stupid stupid bloody idiotically stupid!!! He curses to himself stepping into the house.

 

But he finds Harry just few feet away, probably in an unexpected stop, looking hesitant and alarmed in a different way to he was in front of Louis just now.

Few people in the room, including Ed and Taylor were happily calling Harry to the karaoke stage. Maybe they just saw him leaving the balcony. The live band playing music , glasses raised and cheers - all eyes on Harry who seems to be just staring at them. Spotlights on the stage moves to Harry, illuminating his stand as people start cheering.

 

“Come on Styles!!!”

Adrian, a block with jet black hair on the guitar calls from the stage. “You lot’s been gone for far too long, come on -” he shouts starting the cue for the guitar part in story of my life. “Will start with this and promise we’ll move to something else you like!! Come on 1D!!!”

 

“Come on Harry!!” Ed shouts with the glass up as the guitar goes on.

Everything seem to happen in a clustered slow motion and so fast all together - and as he looks from Adrian who continues playing the familiar track; shouting,  cheering few people, Ed, and smiley Taylor and several other girls to Harry, he suddenly sees Harry’s unfocused, panic filled eyes trying to find him.

Harry looks towards the balcony not seeing Louis though, his face looks suddenly frantic  and horrorstruck in a way Louis could not possibly comprehend - his breaths suddenly heavy,  unceremoniously covering his ears as if someone is screeching in his ears.

“Harry, what’s wrong?”

Louis tries to ask, his own panic freezing his head, but he never finishes as Harry drops down with hands still pressed to his ears, almost knocking on some ornate stand with cat figurines and candles - and all else forgotten, Louis races to his cowering form and plops down next to him.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Harry, what’s wrong?” Louis tries to ask, his own panic freezing his head, but he never finishes as Harry drops down with hands still on his ears, almost knocking on some ornate stand with cat figurines and candles - and all else forgotten, Louis races to his cowering form and plops down next to him.

 

 

“Harry, Hazz..”

Palms dead pressed to his ears, Harry’s body looks near convulsing. His breaths seem to be hitching as his wide, terrified eyes looks at him in the darkest green in a craze Louis could not remember seeing.

“T-turn it off! Tur-n it off!!” Harry just wheezes, cowering more and more into himself - he clutches his scalp as if it would blast if he lets it go - eyes, fear soaked and clouded in a storm that only he could see. No, no this is not happening.

“Make it stop … please” Harry begs with gritted teeth and welling tears, as if he is in pain. His face is twitching mad as he presses his palms more and more into his scalp.

No, no…   Half covering Harry’s curled, shaking form - Louis glances up and around at several faces looking at two of them confused, glasses and chatter slowly going down. The room become lit as the spots disappears, emerging more and more curious faces. It doesn’t matter what had triggered Harry, nothing really does. He needs to get him out of here.

Panic hammering Louis tries to focus...

Faces, lights, music and Harry’s muttering becomes hazy to Louis, until he spots Ed who might have rushed down from the stage and probably Taylor behind him - and several others.

“What’s going on? What happened? Harry?” he sees Ed’s confused and concerned face. His eyes growing  wider as he watches Harry’s curled, shaking body.

Louis tries to speak, moves his lips but nothing comes out of his mouth out of panic. He looks back at Harry who is clutching his hair as if to rip it out, shivering and muttering words through his painful cries.

“Harry, Harry …” He tries calling as he normally does when Harry get night terrors. But he’s not having a nightmare, he wasn’t a sleep. Harry was wide awake. Was it what Louis said? Was it the attention, lights? Something, something triggered him or someone… Louis doesn’t know which. He clutches his own head and watches as Harry, who has his  palms pressed to his ears as if to block the sound coming in - as if the very sound he is hearing is poison to his ears. There is no way he would be able to take any pills and Louis is not trained to sedate him, nor does he has the syringes

There are people around them,  bloody strangers - watching him, seeing him in this state. Gawking at him as if it’s some sort of a show!! and there is nothing - absolutely nothing Louis could do to hide him.

“Louis, what’s wrong? What’s happening to him?” Ed speaks again slapping Louis to the moment.

“Get them out!... g-get everyone out!” Louis says as Harry starts gasping for air. It might sound absurd, him demanding - but there is no possible way for Louis to get Harry out of here with everyone gawking at them.   “Please” Louis adds.

Maybe for the panic and hysteria in Louis’ voice Ed turns to the crowd, confusion clear in his face - as well as shock.

Harry gasps suddenly, turned to his side and then heaves deep - his curled body shivering. His eyes are rolling in fear and panic in his paled, twitching face. Louis could practically see his lungs fight for air from the way his chest goes up and down like he had run a marathon through the loose red shirt.  “Harry” Louis says trying to reach him, but the next second Harry turns to the floor and throws up - tears leaking though his red rimmed eyes.  

“Everybody out!!!” Louis hears a female voice, charpy and sharp… probably Taylor. For once in his life, Louis feels grateful to her as he holds Harry from the back, sweeping his hair away from his face as he throws up pitifully.

“Please head down stairs. Thanks, everyone! Follow me… Thank you.”

Louis stokes Harry’s back as he starts to dry heave, choking for air. Clutching him around the body, Louis lifts - drags his wheezing body away from the vomit, letting him sit on his heels because damn him if he lets him choke on it. Clutching his shoulders and torso, Louis places him away from the mess, trying to hold him upright.  But Harry just goes down to the floor with gritted teeth, hot tears pooling out. A single cry of anguish  leaves Harry’s lips first and a choking breath. And Louis knows what’s coming, brewing as Harry  gasps shaking his head with an utter distress. And then Louis has to let him go with a doubling fear as a sobs starts wrecking through Harry body.

Jaws set down, and nose running, his cries sounds like screams of pain and frustration. He cries hard and brokenly.

“Harry - Haz it’s fine. It’ll pass. You are going to be fine” Louis tries to speak gently as his own eyes goes blurry. Harry turns his head away, hiding behind the mess of his curls - cowering in to himself. He sets his fist in a tight grip, hitting his own head over and over.

“Harry… Harry, no...stop it. Stop it.” With all his might Louis tries to bodily hold him and the rigid hand apart.

“Calm down, calm down. It’s fine. tell me what’s wrong. Harry!!”

He tries to rub his back , hugging him on the head while still clutching the hand away as Harry starts struggling.

“Shhh… shhhh. It’s fine. It’s ok, Harry. Are you hurt?”

Harry struggles out of Louis grip and Louis has no choice but to let go as Harry curls in again - his cries echoing around the room. “Harry”

“Si-ck… I’m - I don’t want to be sick anymore” Harry gasps through his sobs - raking, painful sobs. He then presses his palms to his ears like before. “Switch it off… turn...off - please”

Louis couldn’t figure if Harry was conscious or not as he watches him miserably.

“Harry -” he calls, sat on his knees. “Harry, it’s fine” he says methodically, hot tears brimming in his own eyes. Harry continues to sob like a trainwreck, shivering - even though sweat pools from his body, cacking his silk shirt to his chest.

“What’s - Is - Is there anything I - we can do?”

He hears Ed’s terrified voice for the second time. Louis has forgotten he was there. He must have been standing behind him this whole time.

“What’s - what’s wrong, what's going on?”

Louis bites his lip, pushing his messed hair out of his face he eyes Harry’s sobbing form with a sigh.

“Shall I call someone or umm... 911?”

“No”

Louis says sharp, shaking his head.Letting out another long sigh, he  drags his phone out from his pocket with shaking fingers.

He calls Alex and asks him to come, words trembling; eyes on Harry who is heaving again through heavy sobs.

He had thought Harry is better now, that they had passed this stage where Harry is triggered into seizures and panic attacks and what not all of a sudden - with all the treatment, pills, therapy Louis had hoped… but he had been wrong. He could just watch as Harry wheezed between his tears, struggling for air as if he is choking.

The worst is when Grimy’s emerges from the stairway, irate and annoyed, followed by Taylor who clearly had tried to stop him. But Grimy’s anger and concern turn to something of a terror as he sees Harry on the floor, curled and gasping for air like a shot animal through his sobs . Taylor covers her mouth, maybe in shock of the very sight. And Louis could just cry for the helplessness he feels, and vulnerability. He had failed Harry every possible way, even in front of his friends.

 

Within minutes, Alex arrives with Gemma - who already has instructions from Dr. Sawrey. Alex, injects doses of tranquilizers to Harry who seem to go numb in seconds. With the help from Louis, Alex then places Harry in the car and rushes him to the clinic, with several vehicles following them.

 

 

 

The nurses take him to a room, dressing him in hospital clothes as Harry just sits there, awake but numb. They set him on a sofa and ask Louis to wait outside until they do the basic checks to fill the charts. Louis doesn't want to leave him there - looking so fragile and frail, huddled in a corner of the crisp white sofa.

“Haz…” he mumbles gently, “I’m going to wait outside, ok?”

But in his numbed mode, Harry does not seem to hear. He seemed stuck in his own head - his green eyes open, limbs slack and uncared. Walking away, Louis feels a deep sinking feeling and a fear in the pit of his stomach. All the progress, all the healing they thought Harry had made seem to shatter in to pieces and ash.

 

Louis comes out to the waiting room filled with faces. Alex, next to a fuming Gemma and a phasing Grimmy-  concerned looking Ed and Taylor, Alexa and another girl murmuring standing in the middle.

As he walks in Grimy walks towards him, red faced and angry;

“What the hell is going on Louis?” he demands with an anger that could only spill out from utter concern and fear. “Fucking tell me what’s wrong with him for fucks sake!!”

Ed starts walking to them alarmed and concerned, and Louis just feels so tired and done with all of it, all of them - including himself. The way Harry just laid there,  toppled on the sofa - trapped in his own world which Louis doesn’t seem to have access to anymore than to his heart -  it was like a whiplash on his face.

He feels so so done with it all. So fucking done... He just looks at Grimy's firing face and Ed's worried face behind him.

"If you fucking don't tell, I swear -"

 

“We were never in an accident,” he tells them in a low, numb voice as all the faces turns to him, including Gemma’s.

 

“We were kidnapped”

 

…………………...

 

 

 

Dr. Sawrey enters the room with the nurse. She had instructed the grim looking famous faces outside the room to stay put, including Louis.

Dr. Sawrey stands beside Harry, who just lays unmoving, head turned to side. His face looks pale, eyes downcast and glum. It is mostly the effect of the stabilizers, she knows.  Harry doesn’t react as the nurse stands beside him with a syringe out of few from the secured pack she opens.  

“Harry, Emily’s going to give you some more tranquilizers and to help you talk to me, alright? But tell me if anything becomes painful, ok?”

Harry doesn’t utter a word or move, but just stares at the doctor. The nurse gently directs him to sit and straightens his stiff hand. She administrates the needles in, one after the other and Harry jerks each time with hitching breaths as she does, eyes filling up - as if it is paining him more than it should.

Once the nurse has cleared Dr. Sawrey settles on an ottoman, dragging it closer to the sofa - but far enough for Harry to not to feel crowded. Dr. Sawrey watches him carefully, he looks utterly drained and broken - lost even.

“Tranquilizers I gave you are considerably light. They will calm you and help you to feel a little better. They won’t make you sleepy, but you might feel a little strange and slow for a while - no need to  worry about it, alright?”

Harry doesn’t seem to respond or move.

“You just had a panic attack, Harry. Something you saw or felt triggered you, made you uncomfortable - I’ve explained to you before.” Dr. Sawrey says leaning towards Harry slightly. “I know I’ve asked you to be aware of any changes … and look for help when you feel it’s coming, but sometimes things happen quickly and unexpectedly. That is quite understandable”

The words are clear, spaced and assuring. Even then Harry makes no move to imply he could hear any of it. He looks as if he’s stuck in his own headspace, but Dr. Sawrey knows she has to try, because Harry looks torn open for some reason.

“ I know you are tired and you need to sleep. But can you stay up for a little longer, talk to me about it for a little while?”

The doctor waits for a response, she almost gives up - maybe it is all too much for him. But then, Harry’s head moves slightly for a nod after several minutes.

Dr. Sawrey smiles - finally.

“ What happened, Harry?” She asks gently, face fixed on him.

Shoulders slouched, Harry just dully stares at his hands on his lap - moving his fingers as in slow motion - without looking up.

”Harry?”

Harry opens and closes his mouth, and opens again after a sigh.

“T-That s-ong” he says in a dull, low voice. “I-” with no sound coming, Harry swallows - still not looking up.  

Dr. Sawrey waits patiently, letting him speak. She knows Harry will, and about to - with a little notch. She had listen to word by word explanation from Louis of what had happened through the phone and it is clear that Harry was set off by something… a song ?

“You were invited to sing along - karaoke? You didn’t want to?”

Harry looks up at the doctor slowly, his red rimmed eyes hollow and stale. ***

 

“He p-played that - so - so-ng, when -...” Harry chokes, looking back at his fingers. He bites his lip then, and continues in a stale voice. “I- they blamed me… said I deserved what they did - I’m - I should have… I didn’t mean to - I never meant to hur-” shakingly he brushes his bitten lips, breathing hard. Eyes red, cheeks pale - Harry looked weak and sick as he looks at the doctor again.

“T- they would come and and take me to - to a room, everyday … I - they. He called it ‘p- play time ’... “ he wheezes “ They tied me, h-hung m-e... and - and hurt me…” Harry’s voice trembles and he squeezes his eye shut. “I - he stunned me with - with a taeser gun - I can’t -”

He exhales shakily, fighting tears.  “Cold - it was c-cold.” heavy breaths “He would play songs - tracks from our - our albums and, and stun me un... until it finishes... It - It h-hurt -” A sob escapes his lips and breathes hard as if  trying not break. “Hurt - I - I was tied - my - my hands… the song, it- they - it would never end. I wanted it to end s-soon but, they would n-ever end...” Harry wraps his arms around himself as he is cold. Head down, he starts rocking his body slowly - his long curls curtaining his distressed face.

“He did it over and over…everyday - I just couldn’t - couldn’t ..- I begged him to stop I -” another wracking sob escapes his throat as his rocking intensifies.

Dr. Sawrey leans forward, careful not to touch him. “It’s ok, it’s over now Harry. Take your time and breathe.”

Still shaking, Harry turns slightly away from the doctor, as if he sensed her leaning towards him. As if he did not need comfort, as if it does not matter… his voice shakes when he continues, but he goes on;

“T-they would strip me naked - and put me into this - this box. It was ice c-cold, like a freezer - t-they left me there f-for hours… I couldn’t mo-ve. I - I could only l-lay there... on - on ice…it- it was s-so cold. There was no light - j-ust freezing c-cold. And they would play - play our music… loud - really loud. It was d-dark and freezing like - hell. I c-couldn’t breathe - I, I thought I w-was going to d-die. There. Freezing. Alone. ” tears were leaking down Harry’s reddened eyes as he rhythmically rocked himself. Dr. Sawrey lets him, knowing that nothing anyone would do or say will matter, all he wanted now is to speak.

“They would beat me, scream at me and force me to s-sing…they had - he had a list of - of songs, Nick… h-he said they w-ere Dan-ny’s favorites…he was there all the time - watching... I- I t-tried to - to sing because otherwise they would beat me, hurt me… put me in the- the freezer - again. I - I tried to… sing.” sobs “ I couldn’t most of the time - I was - tired and- and I felt - sick… I couldn’t sing - I - They laughed at me and - and h-hurt me - beat me … I - I couldn’t s-sing. I ju- st couldn’t … not” Eyes set down, Harry shakes his head - tears falling. The doctor feels she should stop, let the poor boy rest, sleep - but she knows she should get as much out as she could, when his mind is at loose, before it hides away to keep him from pain.

“When you were rescued, Harry, you had severe withdrawal effects. You’ve told me that you have flashes of pushing the injector yourself. Did Nick drug you? Or force you?”

She watches as he wipes his face with a shaky hand and trembles.

“They drugged me… and left me - at first -  tied up..., when they were - were d-done, playing . And  I would fall asleep… it - it was the only t-time- I - I slept. I could sleep. Then Nick would sometimes give me the syringes - and ask me to do it myself, if - if I wanted to sleep - I - I did. Later he - he just left them in the room - so, so I could - could…sleep. It was the only w-way - ...I -I couldn’t stop.”

With each word coming out of Harry’s lips, Dr. Sawrey could grasp the damaging mind games the captor had done with the boy. She had doubted that much, with the way his mind is traumatized, suppressed to a point where it had even refused to remember up until now.

“It - it was the only way I - I could - cope…” Harry says in a guilt filled small voice, “ I- when he - they  started -ra -  hurt…” He tightens his grips, face scrunched with pain and disgust.

“When they started raping you?”

Still wrapped in his own arms, Harry wheezes - rocking himself.

“H-he would p-put … the - the names on - on chits and a-ask me to cho-ose…” wheezing “whatever name I - I p-picked could - could have me.” leaning down he starts sobbing - trying not to… but he fails. “S-some-times h-he would - would watch, tell me how I - I liked it, that I deserved it - I - I - di-d… I - he called me their - their whore”

With tears leaking freely from red rimmed green eyes Harry sobs openly. Dr. Sawrey lets him, ready to let him stop if he wanted to, seeing him reaching to a breaking point. This is too much, too much to him to bear, she knew.

“He’s right… I - I des-erved it. I - for everything I did…-”

“No one deserves torture, Harry, nor abuse. No matter what happens -”

“I did. I do - I k-killed them!! It was - was my f-fault they both died” he sounds broken, torn as he tries to breathe.

Both?

“Danny Ray was sick, Harry. He was an addict. He suffered with severe anxiety and depression. He had been overdosed twice before his suicide, he was on suicide watch. Nickles Moth is an escaped patient of an mental institution, and a criminal who placed his guilt on you because he could not deal with loss. We have discussed this and I have shown you his records. Both of their records”

The doctor explains kindly and gently to the weeping boy who curls on the sofa. His body is shaking with loud sobs, chest heaving. He would soon go to another panic attack without a tranquilizer, yet they have already given him too much now.

“L-ouis, what about Louis ?” He hiccups through the crys.

“What about him?” Dr. Sawrey asks, gently - sensing an utter storm in the boy, and the pressure he puts to say that name.

“He’s g-gone. M-my f-ault. It’s my-...”

Slightly taken aback, the doctor leans back a bit.

“Louis’s alive, Harry”

Gritting his teeth with shuddering sobs, Harry shakes his downcast head forcefully, brokenly.

"Louis is fine. He was -"

“He’s dead!!! I watched him die!”

Harry screams, voice thick with tears - he sobs, brokenly. Each word pain consumed as if it is poisoning his lungs. Unlocking his hands from his chest he clutches his messy haired scalp tightly, crying hard - guilt, misery and pain induced in each sound, movement erupting from his body.

"Harry?" the doctor tries but then, wheezing, Harry looks up - tear streaked face hollow and haunting... it looks in the edge of breaking.

“He left me... Louis just, " he says then, suddenly dull, though tears were still trickling down the blotchy pale cheeks. "kicked me off - I - after I -  when I needed him. He didn't care!!! Louis didn't care!!! he never... he-  It's his fault I killed Danny!! It's his fault I messed up!!! it's Louis' fucking f-" with a shaking hand Harry covers his eyes, shoulders shaking again - his whole body shuddering. "It's his fucking fa-ult - and he's de-ad, beca-use of m-e-e"

The doctor watches him, as he cries - sobs, shuddering.

I w-watched them drug - drug him one after the o-ther - I - s-saw him w-atch me… he-  he didn’t have a clue, Louis - he- he didn’t know… he didn’t know that I t-told them...  It’s m-y f-fault ...I couldn’t - he - I couldn’t hold on…”

“Hold on to what, Harry? What did you tell them?” the doctor asks gently, pushing him to speak.

“N- Nick already knew - knew about ‘im… and - and me… that - that I-  Louis - a-nd me- ... he knew - h-he just w-wanted me to say it to him… because - because … my - fault...”

Dr. Sawrey just watches him, letting him go on as Harry curls into himself more and more with guttering sobs. She suspected of something that Harry’s mind is hiding behind layers, regarding Louis - the way he avoids talking about him at times - the way he looks confused time to time and seems selectively bipolar around Louis. Was this the reason? Does his subconscious mind believe Louis died in that warehouse?

“He he tortured me - t-told me he would stop if - if I told him - if I - I admitted - ... about Louis … he beat me, gave me to -to  his men, and - and told them to hurt - hurt m-e as much as they c-could. I - He- he was there, watching… I -” covering his face with both palms Harry continues to sob under the doctor’s stoic face.

“They burnt me - held me down and - and … I tried to fight… It hurt - hurt - and I couldn’t bear it anymore. I was weak… I - I couldn’t - I told him… and they, they kill-ed him… I - I k-killed h-im”

Gripping at his hair, Harry continues to sob brokenly, loudly - wheezing, choking - and she lets him for few minutes.

“He would have hurt Louis even if you didn’t tell them, Harry. It wouldn’t have mattered”

“No - I- it’s - it’s my fa-ult. I  t-told them… I couldn’t… He’s g-gone”

“Louis didn’t die, Harry” the doctor says in the end, calmly - weighting on words. “Both of you were rescued by the team lead by Agent Alex Waters. Louis got help just in time. He’s alive”

“H-he died. I saw him!” He sounds irate and weary, as if he was tired of the games and heartache. Squeezing his eyes shut for few seconds Harry sighs. “H-e’s  he’s gone” he mutters  brokenly through tears.

“He’s not. Louis is alive.”

“I s-saw him…”

“I can ask him to come in. Louis’ here… he was with you.”

“You are lying!!” eyes crazed like a caged animal’s, Harry croaks desperately.

“Louis is alive, Harry.” the doctor says gently. “He was hurt, like you… but he recovered. He came to LA, to help you. He’s been living with you, Gemma and Agent Alex since almost three months now.”

Harry shakes his head slowly, eyes filling with fresh tears. Lips parted, skin pale - Dr. Sawrey could see utter confusion from him… disbelief and a sort of a fear.

“No… no I - I s-saw-” he mutters continuing to rock, and shake.

“I can ask him into this room for you to see him, now.” Dr. Sawrey says soothingly, leaning a bit forward. Harry is utterly spent and needed his rest, but the doctor knew his mind, layers of defenses peeled off,  needed proof. “I can let him in. But you need to get into the bed afterwards” she says “ you need to sleep - have a good long rest.”

Harry still eyes him in disbelief and sorrow - fear seemed to be etched into his face.

“Promise me you will, Harry”

Jade eyes still glassy, still distracted as if he just woke up from a dream, Harry nods, wiping his damp face...

Leaving the nurse with Harry, the doctor steps out of the room - finding Louis and the rest of them sat outside, silently, in their own thoughts - waiting hopefully.

She calls Louis to a corner, tells him that Harry needs to see him - explaining briefly of his shocking belief about Louis. The doctor tells him to be calm and attentive with Harry, not to initiate physical contact unless he does - and asks to follow her to the room.

With an utter shock in his face, Louis does as she says.

In the room, he follows the doctor to Harry, who is curled on the white sofa, looking drained and pale. Face tear streaked and edgy. His eyes though, the green, wide, strained eyes looks back at him with a disbelief and a confusion. Cherry lips parted, his long curls messily falling down his shoulders, Harry continues to gape at him as if he had seen a ghost. And Louis  couldn’t bear the pain that it hits him with, though he just stares back dully.

How could Harry possibly believe him dead? - when he fucking spent last months with him… when he stood in that balcony with him just several hours ago? how in the fucking world?

“Harry, Louis is here.” the doctor says gently as Harry blinks, ones - eyes fixed on him.

Louis could just scream - and he surely would if he stayed here a second more.

“I -” he mutters as his eyes starts blurring. “I’m sorry. I just-” he stutters, taking few steps back as Harry’s tearing eyes follow his move. Had they really made him go crazy? His Harry… his beautiful boy - no… that is not possible. Never …

“I - sorry, excuse me” he says hurrying out of the room.

 

 

 

……………………………………...       ****

   

 

 

Harry stays in the clinic that night - and the day after.

Louis goes to visit only the following evening - having crashed into James Corden residence without an explanation in the middle of the night.

He was scared, broken and devastated... so he had run…

- but not too far this time.

Dr. Sawrey had asked him to come, calling his mobile several times, voice recording when he ignores the ringings  - and Gemma had demanded him to get back to the clinic, sending thousand messages when he doesn’t answer her calls, threatening to kick his sorry ass off a balcony herself if he left him now.

But he could only muster the courage to return the day after - to push through those glass doors into the clinic without turning back and running again.

Harry is still in bed when he enters the room - despite he is to be discharged within hours. Gemma glares and leaves them while Harry looks at him sleepily - maybe still under medication. He looks rested in those hospital clothes, though still a bit pale and puffy.

There is no shock or surprise like yesterday in his eyes… it was as if yesterday night did not happen. Laid on his back, Harry licks his lips drowsily, as if Louis walking in is the most normal thing ever - as if he never left. But as Louis steps near, Harry reaches for his hand - unlike he would have dared to in past months- hell past years.

Louis feels his fingers automatically wrap around Harry’s lazy long ones.

“I’m sorry…” he says as Harry yawns sleepily.

Harry turns to his side, hand still clutched in Louis.

“For w-hat?” he asks, eyes dropping.

Louis waits until Harry’s breathing fall into a rhythm, watching his face relax… full lips slightly slack. Lashes fanning down to hide his rare green eyes. He always looked soft when he slept - soft and peaceful.

“For leaving” he says, gently brushing Harry's curls hallowed on the sheets, tears spilling out of his eyes.

 

Music is what had triggered Harry’s mind to tear open, Dr. Sawrey tells Louis later in her office - their own music.

Their music, which had been intentionally used to break him, torture him in horrendous ways. Hearing it in the karaoke session must have released his mind’s own suppression, breaching the levels the doctor had been trying to break with therapy.

She tells Louis of the things Harry had revealed last night, his memories of the things he had he had been put through, mentally and physically. Pain, humiliation, degradation and the games his captors had played - things that had been buried deep in his mind.  Louis listens with a staggering heart as all the horrible guesses in Harry’s reports fell into confirmations, adding much much more on top of them.

No matter how much he knew already, how much he had heard and read from the reports, it felt like being shot at all over again - listening to it all. They have abused and tortured him in unimaginable ways, almost to a point of utter breakdown, piling guilt and blame on him. That surely must have been the intent - the revenge intended by the psychopath, Nick Moth. Killing Louis in front of him would have made it happen - it almost had. It is a miracle that it had not... Dr. Sawrey tells him.

Harry had thought Louis died there in the warehouse, in front of him - before the help came. And when they both were admitted to the hospital, Harry’s condition had been critical as well as Louis’. No one had told him that Louis survived - not until several days. Harry had been on that hospital bed amid his withdrawals and injuries, thinking Louis is dead. That they had killed him - that he, Harry had caused his death.

Had he not found out that Louis survived in those first few days in the hospital - Harry’s mind would have collapsed - even caused situations like split personalities -  the doctor explains him. But luckily, Harry had in someway, gotten to know that Louis is alive - and Louis had visited him, so he had been saved, to an extent.

But the indicial shock, guilt and devastation his mind had experienced has not been settled, not until now.

Dr. Sawrey tells him that Harry must have been in a conflict with the memories of Louis’ death. Amid blaming Louis for letting him go astray after their break up - leading up to him meeting Danny,  the shock of seeing Louis die, or believing he saw Louis die must have forced him to a guilt which his mind was unable to bear. That even when he saw Louis in the hospital in his weak, broken state, his mind must have failed to recover from the horror of the experience - resulting confusion and clash between memories and presence.

With him moving to LA, cutting all the ties for several months with everything and everyone would have just helped his mind to bury everything - forgetting, hiding memories to protect himself from collapsing - away from the guilt and pain,  placing in sort of a lockdown. Thoughts and guilt of Louis’ death just floating on surface, mixed with the feelings, memories he has of him - blaming him for everything that went wrong - Harry had been settled in to a trance mindset, so he is able to survive.

It was not as if Harry didn’t know Louis is alive, Dr. Sawrey tells him - it is a confusion - a clash between his thoughts and what he had been seeing, causing a state of dementia in his mind. Harry had been stumbling over what had been in front of him - crawling in and out of his memories without really realizing the timelines, because of his mind’s inability to deal with many things happened in that warehouse, including Louis’ supposed death.

Through the therapy sessions Dr. Sawrey had tried to trigger Harry’s mind to open. Though it must have been reaching that point slowly, Harry’s mind had been easily triggered by something they all had thought irrelevant -  the music - their own music which Harry had not dared to go near to in all these months.

 

………………………

 

 

Two weeks after, everything seem to fall into the routine - the therapy sessions, gym, fighting over movies, scrabble and lunch outs … except, Harry seems suddenly open, seeking company and even cheery at moments.

Still he seem to fade in and out to his head - much consciously now with his revoked memories - , his nightmares were still present - and he seem to struggle and be affected by them more afterwards. Yet, Harry also talked more, listened even more - unlike before where he lacked interest - he seem to pay attention, his green, wide eyes fixed at them unter furrowing brows… same as he used to do before all this - his death stare, as Louis had called it in the past.

It was strange at first, to see him merge into how he was earlier, still bearing the scars and memories of what almost broke him.

Harry was bipolar though.  

Sometimes he acted both sickened and normal about it all. There were times when Harry even showed Louis his a random scar and told him what had happened - irked expression caved into his eyes as he spilled it out like he was talking about the weather . Louis almost considers calling Liam and asking him and the boys to come, not knowing how to bear it.

On the other hand, Harry became extremely conscious of hiding his scars from people, even Louis. Maybe he was scared of the sympathy or concern it gave, or the harsh reminders of all the endurances he rather hide. He seemed ashamed and scared of them … Louis could tell by the amount of time he spent in front of the mirror with a concealer kit, even in the days they just stayed in the penthouse.

When he is in the mood, Harry started being snuggly with Gemma and Louis. It seemed strange first, when Harry started sneaking into his space - resting his legs or head over their laps during movies or mid day naps, - like he used to do with everyone and anyone close to him in the past. It was him initiating touches - and Louis without much struggle gets used to that - heart melting each time.

Harry sometimes asked Alex to drive him out - just drive along the roads. Maybe he is finally getting tired of the penthouse - the whitewalls and the skyline… Alex and Harry seem to get along easily and Louis suspected that Harry already knew about him and Gemma, which was kind of hard to hide with them sharing a freaking room together.

Harry’s therapy needed to be taken to a different level. Dr. Sawrey restructured the program to accordingly, to stabilize Harry’s mind and thoughts, to help him recover from his fear for their own music - his own music… which he seem unable to stop his panic whenever he even listens to it. Dr. Sawrey engages him in exposure models, repeatedly playing them, asking him to talk about them to remove its trigger factor from his mind - and it has not been an easy task.

Grimy, Jeff, Ed and several of Harry’s friends, even Taylor had been calling, checking on Harry - sometimes even visiting. They knew the truth now - at least a summarized three-line version of it.  Harry was a bit awkward at first - to face them,knowing they knew. He spent hours getting ready, hiding his scars. Everyone were kind enough to treat him normally, despite his discomfort. So Harry slowly seem to get used them.

Taylor had visits several times, bringing her cat with her - maybe to make him comfortable. Harry spends hours with it - talking silly and petting, letting her sleep on him in his room. Louis has a feeling Harry had met the cat before - since Taylor talks about having it for two and a half years.

Harry starts going out for lunch with Grimy as well, and one time he persuades Louis to join as well - which ends as an awkward lunch out with Harry being the only person either of them would talk to. Louis seriously wishes if he had at least one of the other three lads to light up the situation and make jokes about it all - or at least Stan who would look at three of them with raised brows - or Olie who would have said something absurd to offend Grimy. Grimy looks equally uncomfortable, trying to start conversations about his upcoming clothing line in London. It was awkward and lousy as hell but Louis finds him accepting Grimy’s occasional presence afterwards, even there are no words exchanged.

And Jeff apologizes Louis  - probably having told everything by Grimy - for being an arse to him the last time they met. And Louis had accepted and asked him to forget it.

Days seem to pass and Louis tries to force his mind into writing. He had not been able to schedule a proper studio session since Taylor's’ house party. Not that he couldn’t, but after knowing what had been done to Harry using their own music, his head just seemed too reluctant.

But knowing their deadlines were nearing he tries, not wanting to wait till the last moment.

 

………………………………….

 

 

“I’m not going back to London”

The sound of running shoes echo through the gym with heavy breaths as Harry continues to run.  He doesn’t look at Louis who stands by the side biting his lip. He is only wearing his track shorts and his inked, toned body is glistening with sweat. Hair in a messy bun, Harry keeps panting with his lips as he increases the speed of the treadmill.

Louis can’t say he is not distracted… seriously.

“Harry-” he tries, despite it.

Mark, Harry’s trainer eyes him without a word, probably thinking Louis is insane for trying to reason with Harry after a day of therapy. Louis knew.

Simon had called yesterday morning - reminding him that they should get back to London to prepare for the coming Album. ‘ It doesn’t really matter that Harry had not contributed with writing ’ - he had said - ‘ they could probably add his name for several tracks to not raise questions.’

Louis had just gritted his teeth at it, not even bothering to say anything back. They would have finished the bloody album put it out already if they had a way to imitate their voices and faces for sure. ‘ The song selections had not started yet, so Harry  would have enough time to write if he prefered to - in London… ’ Simon had added in the end, probably to ease it out while telling him that he’s making preparations for Harry to return to London.

It sounded ridiculous - yes, that had been the decision, the plan… but there had been a lift in the path - the recovery path Harry had been working on. Louis had tried to explained to them… fruitlessly. The management’s decision had not changed.

Louis had called Dr. Sawrey then, to ask her to reason with them, to ask for more time for Harry. But Dr. Sawrey had told him that it is time that Harry took the next step - that it might be the best time for him to go back. Gems had offered to break the news to Harry, and it had been a disaster. Harry had downright refused to even listen - even the doctor had not been able to convince him, earning his irritation and silence in the mid session.

“You can’t stay here forever, Harry” Louis says with a sigh as Mark decreases the speed back to what it was. Harry frowns at him with heavy breaths but doesn’t try to change it again.

“I  - do have a house here” Harry says breathing heavy. “I can stay there”

“We have to go back , Haz. the album-”

“Said I’m not coming!!” Harry nearly raises his voice, gripping at the bars - still not looking at him.

Louis swallows his words. He doesn’t want to push him, not like this - certainly not when he is in this mood.

This is not going to work like this - Louis knows. It won’t be easy to convince Harry to go back to London - to Modest … to start working for the album they were obliged to get done.

He needed a way - he needed a plan  

 

 

…………………………………..

 

 

 

 

“Hell, Louis-?” Niall spats.

Louis could practically taste the bitter blame etched to his words. He just shakes his head looking at the three of them in his laptop screen, Liam and Niall in the front and Zayn at the back. He had just told them everything. Everything he could tell them without banging his head on the wall next to him... Things happened from the moment he landed to LA to past few weeks.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” , Niall sounds angry as he watches Louis wipes his eyes off.

Louis looks away from the screen - away from the accusing blue eyes. He could see his own reflexion from the mirror over the bed - eyes red rimmed and dull. It is the first time he had really talked about it directly to anyone outside Dr. Sawrey. And he feels drained.

“I don’t know… I-”

“I called you, asked you almost every day in the beginning and - and you told me he’s fine… Jesus, Louis" Liam says - his brown eyes glassy. He sounds hurt - almost let down. "You didn't even - " Liam stops, he rubs his mouth frustrated, pained in a way Louis had rarely seen him. "He is one of us, Tommo. This happened to us … all of us”

“It wouldn't have mattered” Louis tries to reason. “Nothing actually mattered”

“We are a team, Louis. We are like brothers. I love him, we all do - and - and we care about him. We should have known. We should have know before Ed or Grimy or any of them. You should have told us” Niall’s utterly offended voice says.

“I just couldn’t alright?… I didn’t know how to. And I didn’t want to talk about it. But I’m telling you now.”

“After everything’s over?” Liam asks him simply - and Louis doesn’t want to feel guilty for being unable to talk about it. Unable to talk about Harry when everything seemed bleak and a mess. They cared for him, loved him - yes, but Harry is his bloody soul, his fucking life! Nothing else had mattered to him than getting Harry to his feet. He hadn't talked because he simply couldn't. He had not kept them out intentionally.

Louis looks at Zayn who is watching him silently, who had placed himself in the far corner of the bed they were all sitting. He hadn’t uttered a word until now other than a simple ‘hey’ in the beginning. He should have called Zayn more, Louis thinks realizing he had not been in contact with him for a while… hell he had not spoken with his own mom for ages…

“Simon called” he tells them, “I mean he had been calling time to time... and Magee as well. But -” He watches as all three of their eyes shift. “They want him back to London”

He says dragging his fingers through his messed up hair. They are all looking at him with irritated eyes. Maybe that’s why the management approached him first. Because it was easy to get it done with only him here to protest. Did they even take it to account that Harry might not want to come? Are they just dismissing what he might have to say because he is sick?

“But he’s not - not well... still” Liam says his hurt tone turning into an immediate concern.

Louis sighs, nodding.

“I spoke with his doctor and she thinks it would be best for him to start working, try and go back to the normal thing - said that it might be better for him, if he returned. She’s going to assign him a friend of hers in London for him to continue sessions” he says wearily. He still did not like the idea - but he could see where the doctor is coming from...  but Louis can’t possibly drag Harry down to London, can he?

“So you two are coming back?”

“Yeah… but I need you three to come here first -” Louis says looking at them hopefully, “If possible… ”

They all gaze at him silently.

“To LA?”

“Yeah”

“Why?” Niall asks confused. “If you two are coming back soon?”

“Harry... he doesn’t - he doesn’t want to  come. He just says downright no.”  He know he sounds pathetic but nothing any of them had said seem to change his mind so far.  “ I can’t convince him -  alone. But if we try together, he might -”

“We’ll come” Says Liam, unblinking.

His kind, caring face lighting up. Always generous, always caring - if he asked for help, Louis knew Liam would be the first to lend his hand. He is kind like that.

And Louis waits, eyes moving to Niall, who stares back at him brows raised.

“Can’t wait to see ‘im” he says in an obvious voice.

Louis searches for Zayn who is huddles in the far back, leaning on the bedpost - whose eyes had not moved from Louis’ face since he started talking. He doesn’t move until the other two boys turn to him as well. Zayn just looks at them and shrugs.

“I don’t mind”    

Louis bites his lip - hoping Harry would not pounce at him for this. But he knows it there is any chance of getting Harry back to London, to singing - music, it was like this.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

13. If You Pull Two Deep, I'll fall right back to you

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is copilot Josh Wilson. We are 4340 ft above Manchester and only a half an hour before the descent. The temperature is -40 degrees outside but we are expecting clear skies above London. I’m sure our most caring flight attendants have already made sure that your carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.

If not, well you still have plenty of time to for that, as well as for fastening your seat belts. This will be the last announcement before we get ready for the descent. Until then have a good rest. Thank you.”

 

Wrapped under his blanket, Liam blinks as the static mixed voice dies in the speaker of the flight. They are travelling private, so nothing to worry about anything much, at least not until they land. maybe they should have arranged disguises when they land... wigs and mustaches; they'll look ridiculous. He bites his lip. Stupid thought, he blames his own tired head.

The lights are dim, yet he doesn’t feel like sleeping anymore. He had been trying to sleep since an hour now.

He could hear muffled whispers coming from the seats behind - Gemma, by the tone. She is sitting with Alex - Agent Waters. The uptight guy who, as far as Liam knew, is the sole reason Louis and Harry are alive today. It had been a surprise for all of them to see him going out with Gemma... but well. After everything he heard about Harry and Anne, of course Gemma needs someone like that, someone who could understand. Gemma had been upset last few days. She had been wanting to stay longer with Harry, but seems she has work ties that she needed to attend to. Liam could understand her concern - having to leave when she doesn’t want to.

Liam tries to curl in feeling cold - he should have shut the freaking AC so he won’t suffocate freezing on top of a bloody insomnia.

Across him, Niall is snoring very lightly - headphones on, he must have fallen asleep to what he called sleep tracks. He had tried to give them to Liam and Louis as well but Liam didn't think any music could put him to sleep at the moment. Next to Niall, Zayn is watching a movie, probably unable to sleep as well - Liam stares at the way his face get lit by the flashes. His days old scruff giving him a much older look. Not that he's any less good looking than usual, but there's something about the way his face looks a bit sunken and weary. Feeling eyes on him, Zayn looks back at Liam with a questioning stare - and Liam just shakes his head looking away.

Some seats front, he could see Louis’ head, hanging lightly from the seat. Is he sleeping or just staring away like Liam’s doing? He’s not sure… Harry’s probably sleep, huddled into Louis, regardless of his overlong limbs. For the past two weeks, Liam had noticed that it had become a thing with Harry - to sneak into Louis’ space at times. Not that it is something totally new, but he hadn’t seen them this close for a long time - none of them have. Shouldn’t have surprised them though, Liam thinks.

It was good of Louis’ to get Harry to take his medication in the flight so he won’t suffer wait incorporated insomnia like them. Liam is sometimes amazed by the way it completely wipes Harry off, to a point where he practically sleeps while standing within fifteen minutes into taking the pills. And thinking of that Liam realizes that they might actually have a hard time waking him up within a half an hour - What is Louis going to do? Ask the security to carry him out?

 

Liam didn’t imagine that their return to London would be this anti-climax. It is the first time in months that they are flying together- or maybe it's years... he isn't sure. Maybe they should have flown separately because a pack of paps and a mob of fans is the last thing any of them needed now, especially Harry. They have it all figured out apparently - according to Alex. Paul will be meeting them in the Airport - he had said. Up until now, PR had fed the media that Harry is on a extended vacation after the injuries from the crash and Simon had pulled his strings to get an unofficial media ban on him. No Matter what pictures paps or anyone had, they had been censored in publishing. Fan photos had been refused or paid off as well as any sightings. Harry has been out of radar practically for around 10 months now, and he is stepping back to the limelight - so any sighting of him would flock the paps like bees for sure. But hopefully their arrival would remain secret until they are ready for it - until Harry is ready for it.

Closing his eyes, Liam wills himself to sleep. But the unsettling feeling in his mind makes it all useless. The weight of everything that happened, including the past few days and things that is already knocking on their doors - work, media questions answers and chaos… it is making him restless and nervous. He cannot even imagine what this all must be like to Harry ... to stand in the edge, waiting for everything to flash on his face.

 

When he went up to LA last week, Liam had thought he knew what to expect there- Harry, his condition and Louis. And for some part, it had been something he expected… and not, at the same time.

Seeing Harry after all this time, trying to help pick up the pieces that seem to have scattered into nothing, as well as their friendship ... he thought he was ready for all of it, when he was not. None of them were.

Only then that all they understood what Louis had been really struggling with, coping with in LA all these months - unable to speak about it, unable to process what’s really been happening to Harry.

 

In the first few days of their arrival, Harry was silent around them - or he tried to be.

Louis had already warned them that Harry might not take their presence in a good way. Sick or not, Harry is no fool - he would have guessed the moment he got told of their arrival, what it was all about.

But seeing him, after this long - physically well and on his feet… there were too much emotions to that - too much feels.

 

The last time when three of them saw Harry, he had been all plastered and bruised up - black and blue - utterly spent and drained, resigned to a hospital bed. Liam had been there, seen him … looked after him through the death struggle he had to put up against the withdrawals amid his painful injuries. It seemed like a miracle to Liam to even see him in his normal self - at least by the look of it.

Harry didn’t seem much different from his older self at first, unless his hair, which had absolutely grown past the shoulders. At least not when they first saw him as they arrived at the penthouse, sprawled on the couch, staring at the Tele mindlessly. Louis had just sat back, letting them approach him. They have hugged him, hiding the welling tears as Harry looked like he didn’t know how to face any of them any more - hesitant and awkward to physical contact.

 

It was as the second day passed that they all started to see the real side one on one.

They had been playing cards in the lounge, because something went freaking wrong in a xbox console - him, Louis, Zayn and Niall. Gemma was away and Harry had gone to his room after coming back from his therapy, to change and head into the Gym as he usually does… Louis had told them. But when Harry hadn’t come out after some time, Louis decided to go and check.

The three of them only noticed something off after hearing muffled sniffles coming from inside.

 

They had tiptoed and peeped in to see Louis sitting on the bed with his back turned to them - and Harry, Harry was sobbing. He was on bed, leaned back to the bed post with his knees drawn closer to his rising chest. He was still in the same cloths - wiping away the tears on his red, blotchy face - looking utterly distraught.

 

“Harry, listen to me -” Louis had said concerned as Harry continued sob. “You can’t be like this, you need to calm down”

“Please don’t make me go back… please”

“Harry”

“I’ll do anything you say. I’ll talk to mom. I’ll - I’ll try to write more... I’ll come to the studio. I’ll sing... I’ll do anything...” Harry begged through tears desperately, leaning forward and clutching Louis’ shirt with white knuckles. His eyes panicked, body shivering.

Liam hadn’t known what to think, do or feel - he had turned to Zayn, who had looked back at him briefly, shaking his head.  

Harry had cried like he couldn't help it, as if he wanted to stop, but he just couldn't.

“I can’t - I - I can’t. Everyone will know - they’ll find out. I can’t sing. I can’t- they’ll know” he had looked unhinged - blabbering, chest heaving.

 

Zayn had left the room then, leaving Liam and Niall to stand there. Liam knew that Zayn had a strong disapproval for this though he nodded his head to it first - them trying to team up to lure Harry back - only Zayn didn’t say it out loud then.

Standing there, Liam and Niall had watched while Louis tried to make Harry calm uselessly. Harry had gripped Louis’ shirt harder, his wide red rimmed eyes fluttering crazily - stuttering words - begging for him to let him stay. Liam had no idea how Louis was handling this… It was a strange look for Harry - almost unstable and concerning. Has it always been like this? On the edge like he is about to trip and fall?

Louis had sighed but had held himself straight - as if he was ready to catch Harry who is about to fall flat at any moment.

 

“Please, don’t take me back… please…”

“Harry, we’ll talk about this - later, ok… when you are calm. You are panicking , love” Louis had slowly unclenched Harry’s fingers as from his shirt as Harry shook his head side to side, hot tears still trickling down his cheeks. But the next moment, he had loosened his grip though - seeing Liam, Niall by the door, watching the two of them looking at him dumbstruck.

“I’m going to give you some Ativan, ok? You’re going to take them and sleep. No Gym today, you are going to rest.” Louis had taken the pills from the bedside table while Harry had turned to other side, probably trying to hide away from Liam’s and Niall’s eyes - still shivering, fit of sobs heaving out of his chest.     

 

Harry had cried that day until he fell asleep.

 

“He’s like that sometimes.”  

Louis told them later, with a grim, tired face, as they sat upon the open window looking out at the evening skyline, sipping bottles of beer. “He suddenly gets overwhelmed with things. He’s bipolar”

It was as if it’s something normal - an  everyday happening, the way he said it. Maybe it was. Liam wasn’t sure what to think of it… he was sure none of the other two did either.

“This is fucked” Zayn had grunted after a while taking a gulp frustration leaking out of him.  

 

 

Harry seemed to be more awkward with them after that.

Even around Niall who tried to hang around with him, trying to get him to watch episodes of Sims or Friends with him - which probably is something they used to do - but Harry seemed to be in a different mindset with them. It was as if Harry thought they were just here to convince him to go back. And it felt utterly disheartening to them, because it was like seeing a totally different person to the joke loving, charming, quirky boy they knew.

It felt like they didn’t know him anymore and neither he them.

The next time the topic had come out was two days later, and in a total different way. And Liam remembers that tensed talk - probably the most tensed conversation they had as a fivesome up until now.

 

“I’m not going back.”

Harry had stated out of nowhere while raking his dinner with a fork without eating it. His expression had been cold, angry even.

They had gotten take out - Mexican, with Niall insisting.

All four of them had stared at him, not knowing what to say because they have discussed about getting Harry to sit down and listen about this the next day, without setting him off - to give him facts, make him see reason… let him in on things slowly. That they cannot ridicule their contract - not like this, not at this point. They would have to play nice and work out something else at this stage.

“You’ll can plot around me, but I’m staying here”

“No one’s plotting anything, Harry.” Louis says casually, carefully. “We are having dinner” he sounds tired. Liam has a feeling this conversation hadn’t just started here, now.

“Yeah? Why are they here then? To babysit?? I don’t think I need anymore babysitters”

“Harry”

“No, tell me. If this is not you trying to make me go back, why are they here? I’m not stupid!”

Harry glares at Louis who stares back at him. And Liam just couldn’t hold back anymore, not like some stranger until they take this into a fight. It’s time they talked about this in open. Louis tries to speak but Liam gets better of him.

“Look, mate, Harry, it’s not like that.”

But he almost flinches as Harry push his plate to the table with a echo and looks at him, eyes bursting- irritated.

“I’m not coming!!!”

“Harry, don’t do this.” Louis tries to reach Harry with his hand but Harry shrugs him away. “Don’t set yourself up. You know this.” his eyes unblinking and tone mild as he stares at Harry.

“I’m not setting anything up!!!!” Harry’s voice is edgy and irritated as he turns to Louis. He sweeps his hair back with shaking fingers and takes a hasty breath in.

Louis just looks at him silently and avert his eyes to the table and sighs.

“I’m just saying” Louis says calmly.

Maybe it is his tone, his look or maybe it is what he said - but Harry seem to suddenly be aware of all of their concerned eyes on him. Setting his elbows on the table he rests his head in his palms, breathing.

“Sorry.” he murmurs wearily after few moments. They could all see his chest rising and falling as if he is having trouble breathing..

“Harry,” Niall says with a sigh - his voice hesitant but concerned at the same time. “We’ve been there for each other this long, Harry. We’ve come this far,” Niall says as the others stay quiet. “We can help you get better.”

“I’m not sick” Harry’s voice is faint - as if he was too tired for this all of a sudden. “I don’t want anybody’s pity.”

Liam has no idea how he manages to be vulnerable and stubborn all at once.

“We are not here because we pity you… we are here because we are mates. We are family, Harry.” Niall says matter of factly. “Even if you remember it or not now.”

 

Harry remains silent for a while, then he sits back not looking at any of them still, his shoulders slouched and dark curls half curtaining his face.

“I don’t know what you want from me. Whatever it is, I don’t think I can do it any more. I just can’t” he says dully, eyes on the table.

“We don’t want anything-”

“No? You sure, Niall?” Harry scowls at the blonde suddenly, his green sharp eyes shooting daggers at him. His eyebrows lining to an almost V.

“You three fucking signed the extension. You want me to sing! You want me to fucking play doll to media. You want me to play puppet to Simon and let him drag me around like a prop and be Modest’s little fuckboy like I was.” Harry’s pale, ghostly face twitches as his wide welling eyes continues to stare at Niall.

 

Niall just looks back face red - his eyes slightly glassy.

“I - we didn’t-” he mumbles.

“For fucking three years, Niall. I can’t do it, alright? I can’t.” Harry sniffles then with tears trying to spill from his welling eyes. He looks down at his hands.

“Not anymore. Not - not even if I wanted to.”

He wipes his nose and sniffles. His face suddenly dry and dejected… defeated despite the tears. He doesn’t look up.

“They fucked me over. There’s no use…” he says with a sigh. “I’m like a fucking broken toy.”

None of them dare to speak, not even Louis who brushes his reddened eyes silently. Liam hasn’t seen Harry talk like this ever, spilling it all out like he can’t help it. Like he has given up, lost and broken - irreparably broken. And what would you say to something like that, how would you react to something like that? What could you do when it just might be the fucking truth?

 

They all stay silent, but then,

 

“So what now? This is it?”

Zayn’s voice breaks the silence out of nowhere, calm but almost peevish. His dark eyes simply on Harry who is directly across the table to him. They all look at him, all but Harry. But Zayn keeps his dark, furrowed eyes on Harry, who doesn’t move from his slouched form.

“You going to curl up and just give up?”

There is an almost harsh accusation to his tone.

“Zee?” Louis, who is seated next to Harry, stares him warningly but Zayn ignores him, still staring at Harry.

 

Something burns in Zayn’s eyes which Liam couldn’t really place his head on. Zayn is not here by choice, Liam knew that much - they all knew that much.

No matter he didn’t outright refuse when Louis asked them to come, Zayn didn’t agree on any of it a one bit… from the management pressuring them about the album to dragging Harry back to London.

After everything went south, and after Harry disappeared and Louis started playing havoc with it, there seem to be a change in Zayn. He seemed moodier, gloomier even - avoiding everyone but some friends he had gotten closer to in studios. He had split with Perri and hid away from his own family even - constantly flatting in with his new found friends. And him missing studio sessions and writing brought constant arguments and fights among them..

But then, with all Zayn endured, along with Harry and Louis, then expected to lie about it, be controlled about it - both Liam and Niall could not blame him outright. Louis was straight out obnoxious about it though, making them clash out of character. But then Louis had flown to LA and everything with Zayn had become even more complicating. But all in all, Liam barely could imagine what it all must be like for Zayn.

Zayn thought dragging Harry back to London was a stupid move - let alone making him work on the album when he had said no. But the Zayn looking at Harry now had a hard glazing look on his face though - Liam didn’t understand what to read from it.

 

“Are you just giving up?” Zayn asks less harshly this time but his stare does not change a one bit.

“Zayn” Louis says again warningly, but this time Harry lifts his gaze to Zayn.

Zayn and Harry had hardly interacted up until now - not that Zayn even tried specifically, … it was as if Harry suddenly realized Zayn’s there too.

“If you want to know, it was me who got them to sign the contract, Harry. It was me who told them to. So if you want to blame someone, blame me. Not anyone else.”

“Zayn…” Louis surely wanted him to stop - and looking at the way Harry’s breathing raises,  Liam could see why. Harry’s face twitches, wide green eyes dead staring at Zayn.

“I know it’s fucked up… that I’ve trapped us all in this shit hole . But I didn’t know what else to do to get you out. I saw what they were doing… torturing you, pumping drugs into you.” Zayn continues ignoring Louis and the other two’s hesitant stares. “They were lunatics and I had to get you out of there. Both of you! And I’m not sorry for it because Louis could have fucking died if you’ll weren’t found when they did. So I’m not bloody sorry for fucking it up!!”

“Zayn, fucking stop” Louis scowls with gritted teeth, as Harry just stares at Zayn dully, but tears trickling down his pale cheeks - eyes bloodshot.

For the first time in a long time Liam notices Zayn’s eyes go glassy as well. But he tries to hide, looking down as if taking time to collect himself. When he looks back up, his face is completely poised again. He stares back at Harry who was watching him silently with tear spilled eyes.

Zayn clears his throat before speaking.

“You can’t let it eat you up, mate. You can’t let this drag you. Get angry at me if you want to… get fucking furious - with all of us -  but you can’t let this become you . Not after everything.”

Harry shakes his head, eyes closed shut. He rests his forearms on the table, fists clenched, and leans down, his long curls falling to his face.

“I can’t do it anymore, Zayn I- I can’t.” he mumbles with sniffles. “ I can’t even fucking listen to our songs without feeling I’m going to throw up! I can’t sing. I can’t talk. I can’t let anyone see me up close. I c- can’t. I just can’t”

“Harry, Harry it’s fine. It’s ok” Louis tries to touch him but Harry shrugs his hand away for the second time that night, turning away from him. All of them.

Liam doesn’t think he could watch him anymore like this - fragile, broken and torn to pieces. It is like watching the shell of the boy they knew as everything who he was burnt inside into ash. He couldn’t stop the prickling sensation in his eyes or throat as Louis wipes his eyes standing beside Harry like he wanted nothing but to hold him.

“ They fucked me up…alright??!! I’m FUCKED. I’m ruined and fucked! Like a fucking vegetable. I’m no use to a fucking soul” His voice is so so broken and hurtful, as if there is nothing else than just pain and everything that hurt him.

“But you are fucking alive, Harry!!” Zayn says desperately, as if nothing else mattered anymore -  maybe it didn’t. Maybe nothing did. “Both you and Louis are!! Alive. That lunatic wanted you to watch him die and go nutters. You are what, fucking going to give in to that???”

Harry just shakes his messy head, still turned away from them - his slouched shoulders spasming, breaths gasping in his throat. He curls into himself as it was just painful to be there. As if he would just give anything to not be there. Harry flinches as Louis reaches him from the back but doesn’t fight this time as Louis hugs his curled form from the back, wrapping a one arm around him protectively while the other rested on his head.

“Are you? Harry” Zayn asks pointedly again, his tone still forceful and desperate. Louis glares to the side at him, but it does not stop Zayn. “You are going to give them the satisfaction - just give up… like they wanted you to… like he wanted you to. Is that what you are going to do? Because to me, you just doing that”

Harry’s shoulders starts shaking as he openly starts to sob. Liam watches him with spilling tears, not knowing what to say or do. Niall is probably feeling the same thing because he too just stares ahead, biting his nails as if he didn’t notice his own eyes tearing. Louis holds Harry tight with red rimmed eyes - his weary, sad face looking up  with long heavy breaths. He lets Harry clutch his arm painfully tight, holding on to it as if his life depended on it as he cries.

Across them, Zayn stares at them pain lined in his face, “You can’t give up. Not fucking now. I won’t let you give up. Not - not  like this.” he  says  heavily, looking at Harry, eyes brimmed with tears he is so reluctant to spill.

Louis hugs him tight as Harry sobs more, face hidden behind his long curls. His muffled, pained cries wrecking his whole body as they watched.

Soon Zayn disappears mumbling something about going out for some fresh air and none of them stop him.

It is almost midnight when Louis leads Harry to bed though. Liam and Niall doesn’t follow them, instead start packing up the untouched food to the same takeaway boxes to put into the fridge with less words spoken between them.

 

Next day morning Harry stays in bed late, but Louis tells them that Harry’s ready to go back.

 

..........

 

 

 

The landing is as smooth as it could get.

It is passed midnight, and the terminal is barely busy. They only pass several people who are either too exhausted to notice at them or hardly recognize them at all in this hour. Louis walks behind Alex and Harry, who is still heavily drowsed by his meds. Liam could see the unsteadiness of his feet though Alex had his arm around him, guiding him quickly but carefully.

Paul waits for them in an business class lounge which is completely empty. He hugs Harry for almost a half a minute and in his dazed state, Harry only hesitates slightly, surely with less space for emotions is his slurred head. Liam could see the almost tears of most of the guys eyes - their team… Paul, Rob, Ted, Mike, Stacy and everyone else. This is probably the first time most of them are seeing Harry since that last concert, since it all went south. They had several others around as well - probably from Alex’s team, who are now assigned to Harry and Louis in addition as private contractors.

The security teams split five of them into groups to lead them out of the airport, and to the car park - Zayn and Niall - Louis and Liam - Gemma and Harry … and of course Alex with the Styles siblings.

“You’ll be alright” Louis whispers to Harry as Rob from the team takes over - leading Harry away with Gemma and Alex. “I’ll see you in the car in a bit”

Harry just nods sleepily, letting himself be lead away - still drowsy. It’s probably for the best, Liam thinks.

Liam and Louis are the last to walk out with Paul and Ted. Zayn and Niall had already left the airport when they finally reach the car park. They follow Ted and the others to the parked three SUVs where Gemma and Alex are right outside. Harry’s nowhere to be seen, probably already in the vehicle. Rest of the team is scattered around the almost empty car park. It seems crazy to have so much security around them...

“All good?” Louis asks Alex as they step near. Alex just nods and looks at Gemma calculatingly. She looks worried.

“I’ll see you soon then.” Alex tells her.

“Yeah” she looks at him unsurely though - then at Louis. “You sure about this?”

“I am. Don’t worry” Louis says earnestly. "I'll keep you updated."

Gemma nods, still hesitant. But she squeezes Louis’ arm as she pass him to one of the SUVs. “Careful with him”

Louis doesn’t look back at her nor he says a word. He just stares point blank at Liam who steps in front of him.

“See you tomorrow” Liam says with a hug to Louis. He feels Louis’ hand tighten at his back. He’s nervous, Liam could tell. “Call me if you need” he says looking at him. Louis just nods.

Louis watches as Liam follows Gemma with Ted, while Paul remains behind a little more.

“I’ve sent the team already. Your guy is Max. He’ll be at the gate. Call me when you drop them.” Paul tells Alex while giving a pat to Louis. “The other one will follow you.”

Alex nods.  Paul follows Liam to the SUV then.

“Let’s go” Alex says, his voice stiffer than usual. Well he’s on duty now - Louis understands.

Louis follows Alex to the SUV and climbs in from the back while Alex takes the passenger next to Rob who's in the driving seat. Curled to the corner, Harry’s already asleep in the back.

It’s just fifteen minutes from here but Louis lets him sleep as they head towards London streets

 

 

……………

 

 

 

In an apartment in London, a cell phone rings not too late afterwards. It rings for three times before someone answers.

“Yes?”

“It’s Melanie.” A woman’s voice says with a slight European accent.

“What’ve you got?” Nicky asks not getting up from the bed. But he switches on the bedside lamp.

“They landed”

Silence.

He sits up on the bed suddenly alarmed.

“When?”

“About an hours ago, I think.”

“How the fuck did I not know?”

“ I just saw the unit confirmations with an email alert. They sent the records after. Even the schedules were not notified. Seems they are running everything tight. Precautions. ”

“Are they are moving him to his flat as planned?”

“That was the plan. I don’t see any updates there though. They might update later.”

“Fine, let me know when you get confirmation. I need to know where he is.”

The line ends and Nick throws the phone to the table beside, frustrated. The fuck . Their flight was due tomorrow. He thought it is all under control. He thought having eyes in security coordination would give him heads up as always. Has Higgins changed the fucking system or has he been sacked from his position?

He had paid that woman a fortune to keep her in - to get her to report back to him. What the fuck is happening?

Her information last time did the impossible… It was she who got him the security details, the places, people and timings. It was she who uncovered the little love shack Styles had been laying with Tomlinson behind the closed doors pretending otherwise - turning over the surveillance footage to him of two of them.

She had been a valuable asset last time… what about this time? Has she been compromised? did they find out?

Is it that or are they bloody tightening the security circle? Either way, if they changed his location, it’ll blow all his preps to dust!!

He needs a backup plan. He needs a fucking backup plan.

 

 

………

 

 

 

Louis is still up, unchanged, on the couch beside the bed as he notices Harry stir up slowly in the bed. Louis has not been able to sleep, insomnia hitting him right on the top, probably stirred in jet lag as well. So he had selected some random movie on his iPad with a lousy storyline and worst action to watch until he fell asleep… apparently having zero success.

Maybe it’s just being here, this room, knowing he’s just alone with him.

Louis hopes Harry wouldn’t wake up now… not when he feels like he's been hit by a bus. But Harry's meds should be wearing off by now and he had been asleep for around twelve hours since he took the pills on the plane.

Harry slowly plops up from the sheets, - hair messy, looking utterly disoriented. The meds does that to him. His eyes are swollen, probably due to too much sleep. His eyes directs towards the couch, searching for Louis to the right side of the bed as usual, like a habit. Maybe it settles him  a bit - it usually does.

But he looks confused a little.

“Where am I?” his voice groggy and sleep heavy.

Louis puts down the IPad and tries to smile. “London. You were asleep in the car. I didn’t want to wake you up.”

Harry looks around him, sweeping his palms slowly on the sheets. It is as if he could feel the difference in the material from his bed in LA.

“What time is it?”

“Nearly five in the morning. Your pills are wearing off. You slept long though. Can I get you a cuppa?”

Harry looks at Louis and blinks. He looks younger like this... eyes fresh but sleep heavy, lips in a pout.  “Where’re the others?”

“Went home, they’ll come around later. You gonna sleep more or?”

“I need the bathroom” He says dragging himself out of the bed.

As he clears off of the sheets, he looks almost awkward to find himself shirtless. Harry used to sleep either in his boxes or even without them earlier… but now he never sleeps without sweatpants and a t-shirt. At a glance his scars are not visible if you didn't know, but up close, his burn marks and healed wound marks can be spotted if you know where to look. Louis knew Harry spent hours covering them - the ones he could... hiding them even from Louis. It is like being shirtless is not even an option for him if he is not wearing any concealer. Last night when they arrived, Louis had been too tired to dig in for a  t-shirt when he changed Harry’s clothes while he was still asleep - given that their stuff are still packed in bags.

“I’ll get you a shirt.” Louis says getting up as Harry just sits on the bed hesitantly.

Louis digs through the first bag and finds him a plain grey t-shirt and gives it to Harry. “I’m making tea. You want some?”

Harry nods his head putting the shirt on, heading to the washroom. Watching him, Louis feels nervous suddenly. Was this a stupid idea?

He steps down the stairs and goes to the too familiar kitchen. He tries to ignore the hordes of de-ja-vu kind of feelings everything around pokes him with.

Tea, right.

He makes two mugs and even finds some biscuits to go with it. Stan had done good filling the cupboards, probably he came with his girlfriend - he thinks. If he takes too much time fiddling with everything, well it really doesn’t have anything to do with his nerves… absolutely not. By all means, Louis plans to put everything on a tray and take it up to the bedroom when Harry emerges from the steps slowly.

“I was going to come up.” Louis says suddenly finding it hard to look at him, because he knows that Harry is looking at him. He knows that look… he knows Harry knows.

Harry doesn't say anything for few moments, staring at him. Louis could feel the weight of his eyes on him.

“This is our house” he then just spells out like a statement, in his slow, deep tone.

Louis looks at his face to find the quite expected unreadable stare. He tries to smile - only barely manages though.

“Yeah” he says simply, as if it explained everything.

“I thought you sold this.” Harry says, brows drawn together.

“I did” he says slowly. “It was in the market again couple of months ago… I ummm… I bought it back.” Harry just stares at him strangely for a second before nodding lightly. Louis couldn’t help biting his lip nervously. “Is it ok with you?”

Silence.

He looks at Louis with that same unreadable expression and Louis almost loses his shit. But then Harry shrugs, almost unnoticeably  “Yeah…” he says, voice barely there.

Louis takes the mug off the tray and places it on the breakfast bar towards Harry. Harry steps near, eyes fixed on the shiny black marble surface of the kitchen top. Louis doesn’t know what Harry’s head is picturing, staring at it like that. He doesn’t think he can ask. There are so much memories here that can make Louis go all warm inside… right.

Harry pulls out a bar stool to sit without saying anything and Louis just leans as they  start sipping teas - it feels peaceful in a way but also it feels strange and nostalgic to a point of unease as well.

Louis doesn’t know what to think of that.

They start unpacking afterwards, finding it useless to go back to sleep. Louis drags his stuff (surprisingly only a backpack and a hand luggage) to the other room, and Harry doesn’t utter a word about it. Louis doesn’t bother even opening them, just dumping them beside the bed he knows he would be rarely sleeping on.

Louis helps Harry to unpack though, and by the time they finish, Alex comes in - bringing them breakfast. Gems’ orders he says. Louis feels glad in a way, suddenly not feeling up to facing the awkwardness that suddenly seems to squeeze in between him and Harry. He’s not sure why.

After spending months together in LA, Louis thought this would be easier. But obviously it is not… Penthouse in LA had constant Alex and then Gemma and they were in a different place altogether - unlike these familiar walls which harbored their memories of almost three years… unlike the place where they called home once in their lifetime... It had been much easier in LA, in that pretentious penthouse. Louis almost misses it, though he would never admit it.

Not that this awkwardness was not there then, but it was less obvious to a point that Louis could ignore it to feel at ease. But now, they have come face to face with it. Maybe he should have talked with Harry about where he’s going to stay - because obviously, Louis is not going to let him stay in his London house alone , and taking him to his house didn’t feel appropriate , hotels were out of the question. Maybe Louis should have at least hinted it, asked him if it is ok.

He needed to think but lack of sleep and sneaking jet lag makes everything a bit more harder than Louis expected.

Later, Liam and Niall pop in and surprisingly things feel much better with that. They hang around like they used to - ignoring the moments Harry sort of spaces in and out. Though Liam and Niall looks concerned at first, they follow Louis’ lead and move on. Harry has to feel normal - Louis knows, and for that, he needs to be treated normal. So no matter how alert he is to Harry’s behavior, he tries to let him feel just that when Harry doesn’t imply any need to be treated otherwise.

 

“How did he take it?” Liam asks Louis as he helps him with the dishes after an early dinner.

Niall is with Harry watching a movie and Louis is feeling ridiculously tired, not having slept right for almost two freaking days.

“I’m not sure.” he says continue to pack the dishwasher. “Think I should have warned him though”

Liam stares at him calculatingly and presses his lips tight. “Not sure it would have made a difference.”

“Meaning?”

“I don’t know, it’s just something I’ve noticed about him lately. He just, I don’t know - follows your lead, you know, let you decide whatever. He walks around, shakes around, screams a little but in the end settles in to whatever you say sort of?”

Louis stares at Liam without a word not sure what to say. He changes the subject though, asking Liam about the schedules for studio.. Because he just can’t- just can’t think of all this now. And Liam doesn’t push for once.

 

Alex stays over that night - offers to stay actually. Maybe he noted Louis needed some sleep or maybe Gems just asked him to. But either way Louis can’t say he doesn’t feel relieved. Weary with lack of sleep and jet lag, he crashes early… on the couch next to the bed in the master room though.

He doesn’t wake up until pretty late the next day, to find the bed in front of him empty as same as when he fell asleep. But he finds a blanket thrown on top of him, which he snuggles in lazily for some more time before waking up.

 

That day Harry’s new psychiatric, Dr. Steve Woods comes for a visit as planned.

He’s a friend  of Dr. Sawrey’s and she personally recommended him for Harry. Harry shows a similar reluctance to him when he meets someone new these days in the beginning, but the doctor enters the conversation by expressing interest in Harry’s Instagram posts and photography, mentioning that photography is his own outlet, his hobby. It is a good start, Louis thinks as he watches Harry engage in the talking rather than just listening. “He’s got a rather friendly persona - he would be good for Harry”, Dr. Sawrey had said, and Louis could see it now.

In the end the doctor manages to discuss the schedules and agree to an once in a week session agenda and on a daily online patient log for Harry to update. In conversation, Harry agrees to try and start the studio sessions for the album when asked. He sounds neutral about it and Louis thinks it’s a positive sign altogether.

The studio sessions are probably the best place to start to ease Harry back into everything, Dr. Woods tells Louis after… probably the best way to keep his mind occupied in a good way while easing him into deeper things and work. They all know it’s a gamble to get Harry back to making music but Dr. Woods tells Louis that it might be the only way for him to find his way really back.

 

After the doctor leaves it’s  just two of them again, and the awkwardness creeps right back in.

 

Harry curls in front of the telly, randomly flicking on channels and Louis busies himself with songwriting , taking over the dining table beside the couch. It’s like an unknown agreement between them to ignore the awkwardness… or Louis just feels like it is.

Louis dons his headphones on, wanting to fiddle with the mini keyboard and his songwriting book - so Harry won’t have to deal with the sound. He doesn’t feel time pass as he works, completely lost in the words and tunes he’s penning down. He’s got some ideas for few songs he’d been planning out. He gets carried away with it all that he doesn’t hear or see anything else - not until Harry places a plate full of saucy spaghetti and meatballs in front of him gently, holding his own plate in the other hand.

Louis takes out his headphones, eyes flickering from the steaming plate to Harry’s dorky, lopsided smile. The smell already making his mouth water, Louis just blinks. He had been thinking of ordering something in for lunch. Did Harry just twirl around and happen to summon lunch when Louis is buried in his laptop and keyboard? Did he really cook? Seriously? Louis blinks again.

 

“I got hungry” Harry says and beams before walking back to the couch in front of the Telly with his plate. “Found stuff in the cupboards.

“Why didn’t you call me?” Louis asks, getting up with his own plate and following Harry.

“I did. You were too occupied” He says sitting down. Louis sits down beside him. “Besides, wasn’t sure how much of a help you’ll be.” Harry adds with an almost smirk.

“I can cook” Louis hits fake irritated.

“Yeah?” Harry just takes his attention to the screen, fiddling with the remote.

“What are we watching?”

“Peaky Blinders” He sounds distracted.

Louis raises his brows, no idea what else to do. He picks up the fork as Harry hits the play button.

 

 

……

 

 

Grimy is the first to visit Harry out of his friends in London.

Louis can say he doesn’t mind. They have learnt to be civil towards each other for Harry sake. But Louis can not stop rolling his eyes as Grimy brings up a scrapbook of his topman shirt collection with photos and sketches in the first day he lands. He gifts Harry a one from the collection... a one with a weird black white print on it which reminds him of worm like creatures swarming upwards - or worse... a certain body fluid. What a self promoting prick.

But Harry  doesn’t seem to think so - turning pages of the scrapbook with a genuine interest.

“You should come to the launch party - my place, next Saturday. Everyone’s going to be there.”

Harry just smiles at that, eyes fixed on the pages.

 

 

……………

 

 

First day in the studio happens just few days after.

Harry dreads the day - Louis could tell.

But also Louis could see the impatience building in Harry - whether he was aware of it or not. It is as if Harry hated waiting for the days leading up to it more than anything, knowing exactly where it’s going to lead in couple of days. There is no comfort in the time leading to something that you are dreading - only frustration and anxiety.

Change from LA to London perhaps worsened all that as well - because in LA Harry was too occupied with the things he had surrounded himself with like therapy, gym, private lunches and stuff. No matter how much he had spent time there, it was a new place for him. Even a simple dive around with Alex seemed like a task. But here in London, Harry’s world always revolved around studios, friends, dates, appearances, parties, meetings and what not. He was always busy, always occupied. Louis is sure that there wasn’t a single day here in London which Harry just chilled in past few years, definitely not in the last. But now, stuck inside these familiar walls with lines and lines of memories, perhaps with the very person they all rooted from - it must be strange for him. Even the backyard pool, scrabble, Xbox, TV and movies could do so much. Louis could feel it.

No matter how normal Harry tries to act about it, Louis feels his fear as the days get closer, worries and unease. He doesn’t talk to him about it... But he notices.

 

In contrast, it feels almost reliving for Louis though - when they finally walk into the familiar space. The couches, carpets, pictures, recording gear and  everything else looks exactly the same as they were here the last time - it is the most settling feeling… the consistency -  it makes him feel almost home.

Back in his mind though, he couldn't help feeling guilty - because he knows how this all must be for Harry.

 

They don’t do much in the first day. But it’s all five of them are there with Julian and Mark, their voice coach… after what feels like almost a year. They talk about stuff, music, their sound and ideas they could try to squeeze into this album from the others. It’s this time of the process that they have this much of freedom to get a start to it all. They have been writing alone and together - minus Harry and with only a little of Zayn. And it’s the first time they bring it all together to the table - the progress so far.

Liam and Niall takes the lead because they have been working for the longest. Louis puts his own writings to the table which they all find to be interesting, but he knows he needs more time to work on them. Julian and Mark leave them to it soon, letting them have their phase… noticing that they need to break the ice by themselves at this point after the unintended break. So, soon it becomes just five of them in the studio. And it is good to be able to feel this - this familiar feeling of working, or it is at least to Louis.

Harry doesn’t actively say anything, huddled in a corner in the sofa, but neither does Zayn. But Zayn’s silence they could deal with… because they have been dealing with it since they started unofficial studio sessions before Louis went to LA. Harry, being there for the first time after everything, after so much of struggles in both his and their sides however, felt like a different story altogether. Maybe they are over alerted to his behaviour, his awkwardness, strain, unease or whatever it is…

Perhaps it’s just him, but Louis feels Harry is distracted for the most of it. Dazed in a different mindset as if he is unable to control it. Louis doesn’t say anything directly to Harry about it, needing him to be as at ease as he used to be within these walls.

But he could not just ignore it either.

It is only after the third time Harry nods his head without looking at him that Louis retains himself from asking Harry if he’s doing fine though - and so does Liam, apparently.

Perhaps it is best to let Harry be without trying to poke into his headspace in the very first day. The last thing they need is for Harry to back off from this all.

 

 

But all in all, the disco starts in the end of the day though, when they are about to come out of the studio - because their team alert them on waiting paps outside… and possibly some fans as well.

“What do you mean? No one knew we were here?” Louis shoots back with annoyance. Seriously?

Alex looks concerned as well, and so does Liam and Niall. Zayn looks irritated, angry even. Harry just stares, sat on the couch still. Louis could practically see panic building behind his eyes. Ted, second to Paul doesn’t bat an eye though.

“They’ve flocked outside. If we go now, it’s about twenty at the moment. Longer we wait, more we’ll have to deal with.”

“Are you fucking mad? This is too soon.” Louis hisses at Ted in a hushed voice.

It is their first studio day, how could anyone have possibly found out unless they were tipped? Fucking PR -  Louis feels irritated and mad…they should have bloody asked them first. At least been warned... This is not how anything was discussed, not what they agreed. He almost considers ringing Stacy or Robert or Simon himself to blast them off… But they’ve got a bigger issue right at hand.

Harry’s not fucking ready for this. Turning his head, he eyes Harry who looks back at him. He looks positively uneased, fear radiating from every inch of his body.

And as Alex suggests that it’s better to take Harry out first, while the paps are at least a bit unprepared and less aggravated, Harry looks terrified. He doesn’t utter a word though.

Louis grits his teeth, fisting a handful of his own hair to calm his own self. Yes, he could see the point… but this is freaking insane. Harry cannot deal with this, not this soon… not at this point. But there is absolutely nothing to be done now. Sooner they get Harry out of this, the better.

He just shrugs with a huffed breath, angry at everyone including Paul for letting this happen.

 

Alex takes Harry out first, safe pocketed by the rest of the team  and Louis could see absolute  fear out of his eyes. He doesn’t spare a glance at Louis, at least for Louis to give him an assuring look.

The cameras explode as they step out - at least it is the evening - with some amount of sunlight to keep the flashes from blinding them. It is like a madhouse though, paps going crazy as if hey were not expecting to see Harry coming out there. They could all hear the screaming, shouting and chaos - even though faintly through outside the closed doors.

Louis watches with a clenched heart as Harry flinches at the flashes out of the glass window  - and he could practically see him curl into himself as hands reach to touch him through the security pocket.

Not good. Definitely not good. But there seem to be nothing he could do about it.

 

After Harry, they walk out, one by one.

They get hit by all sorts of questions about Harry, about his missing time , about him having issues with them, the band breaking up, about Zayn leaving the band and a few about a possible album. They just ignore them all, not wasting time to stop.

It feels like a freaking circus and them all some freak show pieces put out into an auction.

 

Having been the last one to leave, Louis reaches home almost a half an hour after he get’s Alex’s message confirming that Harry got home. ‘ Get here soon. He looks a bit off .’ Alex had typed… and there was nothing Louis could do other than to glare at the traffic, cursing under his breath. Rob had looked back at him apologetically - but what could the man possibly do in a line of traffic that seem to barely move.

 

“Took you long enough” Alex says sounding relieved as Louis finally walks in with Rob and Ted behind him.

Max and another from their security team were also inside. They look as if they’ve been waiting for him to come.

“Where is he? He ok?” Louis asks looking around.

“I guess. He was a bit shaken though, in the car. He’s in his room. Said he’s fine but kicked me out of the room saying he need to shower.” Alex looks worried though he tried to hide it.

Louis doesn’t wait for another word, heading to the master bedroom.  Alex follows him to the door but stops there, letting Louis go in.

Sure, Harry must have felt scared at least - he was dreading facing the media and paps more than anything. He must have been hardly ready for this - today for the least. As if being in the studio is not enough. Shit! He must have been scared shitless.

With a staggering heart, Louis steps into the room, not sure what to expect.

But he finds no Harry there… the room is empty.

 

Louis hears the shower running in the bathroom. He almost hesitates, almost considering waiting for him to come out. Is he really having a shower?

But something doesn’t feel quite right in his head. He steps near the door and knocks gently,

“Harry? You there?”

Silence.

“Harry?” he calls quietly, listening for any sound. But he hears nothing over the sound of water.

 

Taking a deep breath he turns the door handle, pushing the door open - thanking whoever because it’s not locked. Peeping in, he sees discarded cloths on the floor, just laying in a pile in the middle. He walks in not knowing what to think… because it’s a bit unlike Harry.

Water is running but he sees no one standing behind the tattered glass. Only a light steam...

 

Louis finds Harry curled up in the tub, water showering over his shivering naked body despite slightly warm water. Head resting on the cool porcelain edge, his drenched dark curls falling over his cheeks, covering his face to hide whatever is written there.

Heart pounding in his chest with worry, Louis gets in the tub - fully clothed … he couldn’t care less about the gushes of water falling on him, drenching him. He sits across Harry, slowly, carefully... lightly touching the toes of his feet with fingertips - to let him know he’s there, that he’ll always be there.

Louis wonders how long Harry had been here like this, five minutes? Half an hour? His skin looks pale - black ink on his skin flashing out in contrast… layers of his concealer washed to reveal the patch marks and faded scars Harry’s usually so adamant to let anyone see.

 

“Want to talk about it?” Louis asks gently, slightly leaning forward, whispers under the showering water, trying to ignore the broken sound of his own voice.

Harry doesn’t utter a sound as his pale body continues to shiver. He breathes from his lips as if it takes effort to do so. His eyes are open, Louis could see from the shreds of wet hair - unblinking, stuck in some disgruntled thought no one could possibly grasp… chained to the pensive of horrors only he could comprehend.

Louis hates it - resents it like an unhealing wound in his own body. He can’t bear to see Harry so shattered, wretched and fed up - away from everything and everyone around him, torn from everything else other than the deep dark scars etched to his skin. If he is to see Harry’s face, Louis knows exactly what he would see - the empty, void of a gaze and slacked features as same as that time he was rushed to the clinic after the panic attack in Taylor’s house. And Louis couldn’t bear to see him chained in there… stuck in there in harrowing darkness.

Leaning a bit further in the wide tub, Louis touches his arm gently.

“Harry, love? Please… can you look at me?” he pleads in the calmest way he could manage as the water trickles along both of their skins. “Haz?”

Harry doesn’t move, he even doesn’t hum in response - his body keeps quivering detached to whatever his thoughts seem to be. It is as if he couldn’t hear him, too far gone in whatever horrid flashes or dark memories tailing his thoughts. Louis could see it swallowing him right in front of his eyes... and he wants to scream… he wants to grab him by his arms and shake him out of it.

Louis wants to save him from his own broken self.

But instead, he lets out a sob. Looming over him he finds Harry’s loose, cold fingers and slips his own fingers into them “Haz, please … I love you” he says earnestly as he bodily covers Harry’s shivering form from splashing droplets - drenching the back of his shirt and skin. “I love you, my love… please come back. Please come back to me.”

Maybe it’s Louis’ pained voice - maybe it’s the touch… but Harry snaps from the invisible wall he had been chained in to - he breaks. Burying his face in his palm he silently cries wretchedly - chest heaving, his body near convulsing.

Emotionally drained, Louis pulls his naked body to his chest “It’s ok, love. It’s ok … I’m here. I’ll always be here.”

Harry clutches his wet shirt, holding to his dear life - needing to be held, needing to be stopped rolling down the bottomless pit he is falling.

“L-L-oui - L-ouis” he cries almost choking, fighting to catch his breath as Louis holds him - clutching him as close as he could to himself.

“I’m here… I’m here, love. It’s alright.”

“I… I c-an’t forget - I can’t … I can feel it - everything … I can f-feel it on my s-skin” Harry’s voice sounds torn, shaken and painful.

Louis lets tears spill from his eyes. He doesn’t want Harry to see him cry. He hopes to god he doesn’t.

He tightens his hold not knowing what else to do. What to say…

What do you say to the horrifying things you know he endured, faced, with no means of an end. For the soft, forgiving and gentle heart he had, for the caring, quirky and lovable creature he was - Louis doesn’t have a clue how he is coping with it at all.

He didn’t want to come here to London, where it all happened… where it all rooted from - Harry didn’t want to face this at all. But he, Louis had made him do it… he had.

 

“I - I don’t - want to g-o cra-zy… I don’t w-want to. Zay-n is - is right” Harry gasps, his body spasming unnaturally, continuously. “Bu-t but I- I ca- … can feel them on me - on my ski -skin... I can’t - I can’t feel anything e-lse”

Louis could kill Zayn at that moment… he really could, for piling his shit on Harry like that. Louis grits his teeth as in physical pain as Harry’s body trembles in his arms.

“T-th-the ca-cameras … p-people… th-they are wa-tching m-me. I - I can feel the-eir eyes on on me… th-they are t-touching m-me… bu-burning… it - it h-hurts…” curling in tighter, Harry shivers like in fever. “I c-can feel it - it all…. H-how can I - I ca-can’t feel anything - g else” he blabbers, shaking, still spasming.

“I - I can’t feel - feel anything e-else”

 

Lifting the trembling body up ever so gently, he places Harry back - leaning towards him, himself. He holds Harry’s face up to him, pressing on his pale soaked cheeks. He draws his face closer looking earnestly.

“Can you feel me?” he asks wholeheartedly, cerulean eyes looking at the reddened, glassy greens that looks so broken and lost. His parted cherry lips quivers continuously.

“Can you feel me now, love?” Louis asks, leaning down, pressing their cheeks together - his lips brushing on white cools skin.

Harry nods ever slightly, a lonesome gasp escaping his lips… and then a sob. Louis feels Harry clutch on his soaked shirt, pulling them closer, his body still trembling - shivering under him.

“K-kiss m-e” Harry’s voice quivers in a whisper. “M-ake me f-forget”

Heart raising, Louis tries not to move - almost pretending he didn’t hear him.

But Harry turns, probing him to look at him, “Pl-ease” he sounds so broken, helpless even - and Louis couldn’t bear to see him beg, not for a moment… damn better judgement. He presses his lips on his, kissing him gently, carefully and soothingly. He clutches the back of Harry’s damp head as their tongues meet. Harry breathes warmly, inviting him in, pulling him further in, desperately, his trembling body going limp under Louis’ weight. Louis could feel his closed eyes still tearing, blurred under the falling water.

Louis pulls back gently, wanting Harry to breathe,  running his thumb on his skin softly. Harry takes a shuddering breath... eyes still pained, hopeful in a disoriented way. But even in his worst, he looks utterly beautiful, effortlessly sensual and heartfully vulnerable.

 

“T-take m-e…” Harry says, eyes fixed on him - unblinking “f-fuck me” .

 

Louis’ eyes goes blur as he shakes his head frantically. He closes them shut panic steering in. Clutching at his shirt again with shaking hands and a white knuckled grip, Harry gasps as his shuddering grows higher.

 

“Pl..ease” he begs in a whisper. “I - I wa-want you t-o”

“This is not the time, love. Now is not”

“Please…” tears leak from his red pained eyes, desperation lining in each corner of his face.

“No- Haz… No. You are not ready for that, please love.”

“T-there’s n-no ready f-for m-e. The-re w-on’t be a- a ready. I - I can fe-el it all. E-verything… everything the-y did to me… It - it’s all I -I rem-ember”

“Harry” he whispers through the sound of splashing water - heart shuddering as same as the boy desperately begging him.

“Ma-make me fo-forget. You ha-ve to ...fu-ck it out of - of m-e.... P-lease. Lou- Lou-is… please, f-fuck m-e.” his body shudders as his breath hitches painfully. “Fuck m-e li-ke  you d-did the l... last t-time when - when y-you still loved m-me - .... pl-ease”

 

Unable to breathe, Louis pulls back. Sobs starts wrecking Harry’s body again as he does, his face suddenly pained again as in a whiplash. Next moment . Louis rests Harry’s shivering head back on the tub - his heart crippled in an utter sorrow. Harry presses his palm to his eyes again sobbing hard, his shoulders shaking, red bitten lips curving downward. His heart pains even watching him, so lost, so broken … trying to cling in to anything possible.

The vile smoke of pain, hurt, hopelessness and fear seem so thick that Louis doubts Harry could actually see him at all… see anything at all. It is fear, pain and horror that is imprinted in Harry … humiliation and his degraded pride. Harry is just barely stumbling in the dark, trying to find something - anything to hold on to. It could have been him or anyone else. But for all the pain in the world, could anyone blame him?

Louis  gets up slowly, his eyes never leaving him as Harry curls to his side.

“Harry” he tries breathing hard, but he doesn’t think Harry hears him.

He shuts the shower off, and everything hiding Harry’s wretched cries disappear, making the sound echo through the graphite walls.

Climbing out of the tub he peels off his drenched clothes, stripping naked. He  wraps a towel around himself and gets back in the tub again. He then crouches down next to Harry’s sobbing form and pulls his arm over his own shoulder.

“I’m taking you to the bed.” he tells him steadily as Harry continues to cry. “Come on”

 

Taking the weight of Harry’s limp body to him, he manages to get Harry’s soaked form out of the tub, and to the room. Maybe Alex heard everything that has been going on, or maybe he assumed everything is fine - but as he takes Harry to the bed, he notices the door closed already. He places Harry’s shuddering body on the bed, making him sit. The sobs seem to have finally subdued as louis walks back to the bathroom to grabs two towels.

Harry doesn’t look up when Louis puts the towel around him, drying him. “I’m s-sorry” he mumbles though, as Louis starts drying his hair. Louis doesn’t say anything, not until he puts the towel away after running it over his own hair. He lays Harry down and sits beside him, looking at his green eyes. Harry avoids his face, curling himself to a loose ball - looking at anywhere but at him.

Touching his face gently, Louis sweeps away the wet strands of hair from his face, watching him closely.

“I’m in love with you, Harry. I hope you know that” he says gently. “I know it doesn’t mean much right now… but it will be enough for both of us for the moment. I - I know it is...”

Harry doesn’t utter a word nor any sort of a response. Louis knows that he wounded his pride further...  - made him beg but refused.

Dragging the covers over Harry, Louis watches his unmoving stance for a moment. Then, tearing off his own towel, he slips in next to Harry - closing in to touch his naked body under the duvet with his own - feeling the warmth that he missed so much - craved so much. Harry is always warm - his body always had been… Louis remembers as same as the very taste of his lips.

 

Sweeping a hand around, he drags Harry to him slowly … burying him in his chest - Harry complies easily as he always had. Louis kisses his head gently, slowly...

“Is it Ok if I kiss you?” he asks softly after though, continuing to do a anyway.

Harry just sniffs, breathing out warm, heavy breaths on Louis’ skin. Slowly and soothingly, Louis starts running his fingertips on his body - touching him gently, carefully … feeling each little bump, marred lines and healed scars; everything that had been carved into his skin forcefully , ferociously,  unmercifully … hoping that it would ease his  pain, at least for a little bit - bringing him some comfort.

 

Louis knows that it’s not much, but it is the most he could do for him at this moment.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It is near mid-night and Eric finally shuts his mac, saving the email he had been typing in drafts. He stretched his hands and neck to rid the joints from the stiffness. It’s probably too late to call Jennise, the woman handling his work in New York for him. Eric’s current contractee from Asia wants a high demand feature to be held off from publishing - a piece declaring war on some genetic experimenting on some lab animals and is sure to pay in big bucks to make it happen. It’s an economic political ploy than anything else, trying to bring his company’s profile down in Europe - hardly anything to do with the damned animals. Jennise should be in the meeting with Andrew now, the marketing head of New York Times, trying to convince him to get the heads to roll the dice in a way that benefits them all.

Hell, it would have been so much easier if Eric could have flown himself to meet Andrew, but it is a chance Eric could not afford to take at the moment… because of his lunatic brother.

Taking off his black framed glasses, Eric sighs.

If there’s something he regrets at this very moment, it’s his decision to take Nicky in instead of letting him be gunned down like a bloody moose. It was what he should have done months before, screw everyone who expected him otherwise - including his mother.

But now it’s too bloody late.

Nicky has already gotten his gang to work around him, behind Eric’s back. Nicky knows that  Eric knew he’s up to something... and he knows that Eric has every means to put a stop to it at any given chance. Sometimes Eric feels that Nicky is just doing this to get high of the game… the game he isn’t sure who he’s really playing with at the moment - the pop star kid he almost got killed? Simon and some industry niks? Or Eric himself?

But whoever it is, if something goes wrong and anything happens to those fucking brats, he’s sure what happens to Nicky would be the last of his problems. Simon would not stop by just fucking him over. He had been reminded of the consequences far too many times now for sure.

What a serious fucking mess!!

When he was contracted to play this out by Alastair, the crime big-boss - surely paid by some multi trillion dollar company, he never imagined this would play out like this. He is a white collar middle man, playing by the con of money and words… if the men with riches are willing to play with their money and gamble through to get things done, what is the crime in giving them the service?   By acquainting with Allister's gang, he had been trying to reach the next level up the ladder, make connections to the much superior world - …It’s not like industry moguls like Simon lasted forever… the one who gets the chance and acts hard gets to the top of it… money goes where money goes... It’s business as he had told Cowell.  But now, everything he planned and everything he hoped seem to blow in his hand. With Nicky’s little stunt, not only he had lost credibility but also most of his connections to everything else. Allister's probably behind it - getting back at him for almost ruining it up.  How funny is it that now their only way seem to be Simon himself?

Seriously, why the fuck did he think getting Nicky involved in to this is a good idea? What the hell was he thinking when he got him out of the bloody psych ward at first place? At the time he thought their mother would die with heartbreak, seeing her favorite son rotting in a madhouse… but now he thinks it would have been far better for her than to see both of them gunned down like dogs. Damn the lunatic bastard.

Getting up from his desk, Eric heads to his room - having every intention to just ignore the thumping beat that comes from the room next to get some sleep. But as he passed the next room, its door opens, blasting some techno funk track out with a haze in the air. Nicky comes out gulping down a bear to the last sip, barefoot and dressed only in trousers - a half burnt cigarette smokes between his fingers. He looks wild and dilated. He’s fucking high, Eric could tell.

Nicky eyes him and presses back the door closing it with a smirk. Eric catches a glimpse of at least four dudes and a chick in there before it closes - bending over a table, probably taking shots. Fucking Nicky!

 

“Wanna puff, big brother?” Nicky asks smugly, looking back at him as Eric glares.

“I’ll pass. Thought I was clear. This place is off limits to the pack of junkies and their junk.”

Nicky laughs at that and Eric just wants to punch him on face. He actually would have but knowing it would be like kicking a mad dog he continues to glare at his pale face.

“You know, I feel like the dumbest thing I did one of these days was to let you in here… knowing you are a fucking lunatic.”

Nicky watches him, smirk still lined in his face - his eyes wide and dark. “Bit too late to the dawn in’it? Did Cowell send me his love again?”

Stepping closer to his face, Eric scowls. “You think this is a fucking joke, Nicky. But it isn’t. This isn’t some bloody game. You can’t win this”

Nicky hisses a laugh again, turning his head towards the roof, looking up … his dilated eyes and pointed face relaxed in a way Eric hadn’t seen in a long time. He’s clearly high as a kite. Nicky lifts his swaying arm up and rests it on Eric’s shoulder - then lowers his eyes at him, dazed and almost unfocused.

“Fine… say - say I did. Let it go, I mean. Forget about how he was kicked out…Danny… may Dandy... how he got sick and wasted.” Clutching on Eric’s neck, Nicky straightens running the other hand through his jet black hair. “Let’s say I just forgot how that little whore got to him  then - used him, made him feel like thrash and left him to die… - like how he couldn’t even fucking remember Danny, you know? After everything… like he didn’t matter... like he never existed… Say I let it all go… all of it… let the little peacock soak in one of his  twenty bathtubs in LA, filled with fucking champagne with lines of high end chicks waiting outside for him… while he fucks with his cherry good boyband lover behind it all ...- say I let him be … Do you think everyone else will let it go, big brother?” Nicky looks at him close, unblinking, his high cheeks lining to a bitter, hated smile. “Do you think Alastair will let it go?”

Eric swallows carefully… since months he had been here, this is the first time Nick seem to be willing to talk about it - willing to converse instead of derangedly lusting at thoughts of revenge or fuming over his loss. Maybe, if maybe he could let him see a way out….-

“Simon can get you out of here if you fucking drop this. He wants you sent away”     

“Simon’s no one. A fucking TV judge. He’s a  fibber.”

“He’s a tycoon… he has connections. And he needs you gone! He can get you out if you quit playing the joker in the pack, Nicky. He’s willing to resource.”

Taking his arm off, Nicking sips on the empty bottle at his hand and steps away from Eric. But he turns back staring at him again with a lopsided smile.

“All Cowell thinks about is milking his fucking cow - why isn’t that surprising now?”

“If he’s desperate to run his cash cow and willing to keep everything under the rugs, why not use it to kick off from this mess… you can get out and fucking start fresh, Nicky. Do you know how much Mom will be relieved? ”

Nicky directs his eyes to the floor near Eric, standing there under the lame light. Skin pale and uncovered, he looks like a ghost. “If you want me fucking gone, why the fuck don’t you just ship me off like you planned?”

“I would have if your bloody stunt didn’t cut me off Alastair’s favor. You bloody blew it up. Simon’s the way out ticket Nicky. Fucking take it and I can get my feet back up without you screwing me all over.

Eric wants Nicky to see this straight. Need him to realize that there would be no second chances if he kick this out. But seeing his smirk of a face and bitter stare, Eric doubts if there is any hope… what to expect from a crazed up head and lunacy.

Nicky’s face twitches as he watches his brother with a ice cold stare.

“It was a tug-a-war, Eric… and Cowell, lost. He got screwed over inside his bloody industry. He didn’t even see any of it coming. And you know what?  he won’t see what’s coming next either.”

Eric grits teeth.

“You fucking used it to some personal ploy out of the line. Alastair might have let it go but he wasn’t happy about the bloody mess you almost caused, Nick. Simon wants you out of the country because he knows you might try something. He’s not an idiot or generous. If you don’t stop this now, he won't hesitate to find another way to make it stop”

“Do I look like I fucking care?”

“You can’t win this, Nicky. Let it fucking go and take Simon’s offer. You’ll lose more than your fucking plan this time”  

“I’ve fucking lost already the day Danny died!!! It’s not  about me winning fucking anything!!”

“Then what is this about… bloody tell me… what is it about that you want to fucking blow up everything we built here… I built here??!!!”

 

The stare in Nicky’s eyes turns colder. His knitted brows, dead eyes and ghostly pale face setting his expression to something almost deranged and unforgiving.

 

“Just bygones… bygones that shouldn’t be bygones”

 

 

……………………

 

 

 

Sometimes it’s good to not talk about things.

Because then it authenticate things… things that you want to just hide inside your closet so that you could just pretend to forget about it. That’s what Louis feel about things that keep worrying him in his head.

And what is better cure for worrying than to pretend to not worry?

Because if you admit to worrying, the thing you worry, becomes something you should worry, right? Why materialize the immaterial if it only makes things more concerning, more worrying or even terrifying?

Modest heads had explained that there would be ongoing investigations, follow ups on the whole case, confidentially. But according to Alex, the names that popped up in the investigations were nothing but ghosts and pitless rabbit holes. There seem to be absolutely nothing but loose ends and ties to underground mafia.  Apart from that one mistake that was Nickles Moth, who was again a bloody ghost, whoever planned the whole scenario, made sure to leave no traces. Perhaps the agenda to send Syco and Modest in to bankruptcy never worked… thanks to several labels including 1D. But it didn’t mean the loss of all of it didn’t affect the companies either, marking the only option as to capitalize the remaining labels - including 1D.

For once, there were less hide and seek between them and Management… they knew what is that expected of them without much of sugar coating. And in a way it’s a relief.  But in this scenario, no matter how much they pushed and pulled, they knew there was less enthusiasm for any investigations on the kidnap or anything in that matter.

The agitation and injustice it swirls up doesn’t even match Louis’ worry for Harry’s safety - all of their safety. No matter what measures were taken, Louis couldn’t shrug off the concern - and he knew others couldn’t as well - no matter they avoid talking about it.  But there seem to be nothing they could do about it rather than taking the furthest precautions to avoid  any situations and dip the heads under work so it doesn’t eat them up. So that’s exactly what Louis does - trying to find peace, diving into work loads. And it’s an easier distraction to all the anxiety that floats around every one of them, because getting back to work means getting under blinding limelights, again.

And a distraction it is in deed…  Time sheets, schedules, propaganda and business amid the creative input seem to all blur in their lines. Perhaps it’s not the perfect scene… but at least it is a scene they are used to. A normality they know of - even Harry.

Getting back to work had it’s own cons though... every word they said, every turn they took had to be guarded, secured and watched. Everything seem even more tight, harder and pressurized. It all felt a bit too overwhelming at times to each one of them. Maybe the feeling itself was hypocritical - but they couldn't chase away the feeling. It kept them all occupied though… at least it is a good thing.

The first week was the hardest, now that everyone knew 1D boys are back in town... that they are back in studios, ready to put out their next album after the unsettled hiatus. With months and months of ludicrous rumors of them splitting, fighting and flipping out at each other being written all over the media, it should be surprising to all.

Not that their career ever lacked rumors and gossiping but with the hiatus, the level of ridicule of it all seem to get worse. Once there was even a rumor that went so hard that their breakup was due to a love triangle between Louis Eleanor and Zayn… suggesting that Zayn hooked up with Louis’ girl. It even proposed that the accident that happened in backyard of the stadium after their concert might have been a result of that - a mistimed battery between friends turned rivals. And of course, Louis’ and Eleanor's visibly  distanced relationship fuelled it all like gas if nothing.

Not that much of it is anything new.

Their platform is about dramatics -  they all knew. Yet none of them think any of it could even match the dramatics of their real lives went through… the pain and turmoil which they are still trying to get passed from.

So after all the talk, hiding and rumor mill running haywire, they are finally in the middle of it again.

Now, anywhere they went, there were cameras, media and fans.  Their return after about a year seem like a thing in the industry. Fans went celebrating, media were fanatic and paparazzi attention on them seem to go blastic.

Flashes were blinding as always but everything seemed much hyped to the delight of the PR team and management.

In a way it was a strangely flattering - to be celebrated, awaited… being able to swirl in public interest even after everything.

Yet also it felt void, and puffed - they were in celebration for what?

They haven’t put out any new music, haven’t gotten into any stage of ridding the image of a sugar manufactured band, haven’t performed in a while and haven’t put out any tour dates ahead… it was just the limelight hitting square in their face, watching their move for next big mess up - at least that was how it felt like  at the moment.   

 

 

Louis is extremely glad that he made the call to re-purchase their old house when they did.. They first bought it in the very early stages of their career and the house is actually smaller and older than anything his, Harry’s or rest of the boys’ newer houses or flats in London - and less flashier. With only two bedrooms , an open kitchen, lounge, a small gym and a pool in the back yard, it is out of radar from the rich London dwellings. The public or media had no clue about it. And the anonymity of the place itself gave him comfort. It’s not that he wanted to admit to feeling paranoid. Hell, Louis was... anxious out of his head. But it’s not as if he could show it … not to Harry anyway. So he feels safer here, much relieved to be in a place that had been secretive enough for them to use as somewhat a getaway each day.

At first, it was awkward  for Harry… Louis could tell. He felt almost scared to have overwhelmed him with it all. But soon, he seem to just fit in like the old times. And then it felt strange to Louis… to see how familiar it all still looked.  The furniture has changed, yes, but the pool, the kitchen, fireplace in the lounge with the TV stand, bedroom with large windowsill - there are so much that looked exactly the same when they lived here before. And to see Harry wandering about the house...  it is almost surreal.

As if he never really left - they never really left.

Sometimes, it was as if everything happened when they still called this place home, never happened. But they had… they all had. It made Louis wonder more than ever now of the things and turns they took. Unintentionally and unknowingly to what it all would turn out to be.

 

After that day Louis found Harry in the bathtub, Louis abandons his sleeping couch for the spot next to Harry. He could put it all on Harry and say it’s his doing entirely - calling him to bed with expectant eyes that no living thing could possibly deny… so that’s what he tells himself.

Besides, it would be easier for both of them when Harry would still wake up randomly from nightmares - right?

But it doesn’t explain why he would at times start running his fingers through Harry’s hair every time, his long soft curls,  haloing about the pillows and sheets. And Harry just leans towards him without words - scooting closer, his warm breaths gracing Louis’s skin on the neck. But Louis stops there unlike that day after he found him in the bathtub, because he knows he should - for both of their sakes.

Harry isn’t too happy about it. Louis knows.

Of course Harry tries taking things further, several times… trying to kiss him. But Louis manages to pull out with soft pecks on lips knowing he won’t be able to stop if he really started kissing him. Harry just stares at him for a second before closing his eyes, falling asleep as if it never happened. Or he turns away… but doesn’t protest when Louis curls his legs around him, or throws his arms around him, hugging him from the back.

But with it all, Harry starts to avoid initiating touches with Louis. Not that he even flinches when Louis does, but he seem to purposefully avoid starting it.  Even the moments he sneaked into Louis’ space in random moments seem to thin away. Perhaps it’s all because Louis is trying to keep a distance. Perhaps this is his way of flipping at Louis for denying him … because, well, he knows Harry... and this is exactly how he’s would act.

Louis doesn’t want to admit it, but he misses it all- his thoughtless advances, random invasions of space. But he doesn’t try to talk to Harry about it though… letting him have his way.

Subject of getting intimate is perhaps a no man's land for them for now. Louis feels.

 

 

There are both good days and bad days for Harry - Louis notices.

 

On his better days, Harry laughs more, eats more, fights more with Louis - and finds quirky ways to twirl about and swim in the backyard pool. He would play FIFA, scrabble, try to bury his head in writing, do the gym, read, even call or text some of his friends… Ed, Jeff, Grimy, Niall or whoever.  He would often fight with Louis on taking his meds on such days complaining it makes his head dull and ‘fucking drowsy’ all the time.

But in the other days, he gets quieter… moodier - thoughts disappearing into darker  places he’s desperate to get out of. He would just sit and stare into nothing with a lost kind of a look in his face.  In his worst days, Louis finds him on the bed or in the same bathtub, with dazed, void eyes under the splashing shower. Maybe it comes from his habit to get under the shower when things got tough in the past - maybe this is Harry’s way to try and deal it all when everything else seem to fail. And those days, Louis’ unable to do anything other than to sit there with him in the tub - and getting him out of it if it keeps dragging on.

 

Louis tries to take him out more… for lunches, to friend’s and private parties. Sometimes Harry seem to hesitate, but most of the times he seem to get into his old shoes, chat away with people like nothing ever changed. It amazes Louis at times, how easy it is for Harry to wear his old personality with the people that aren’t remotely close to him, or didn’t have a clue about any of it other than as an unfortunate accident happened in a backyard of a stadium. Looking at him outward, no one could have really guessed unless looked closer. Maybe he should drop this whole music stuff and go join bloody acting!

 

Harry’s night terrors doesn’t completely disappear, yet they seem to grow thin. Perhaps it has something to do with Louis sleeping next to him - feeling of a familiar presence , as Dr. Woods says. But Louis wasn’t sure if that’s the only case. What he does know is that Harry seems better now… yes, there were issues. With sleep, with moods, with talking - even all the twirling between them. But Harry seem much much better… Ed, Grimy and even Taylor who visits occasionally tell him so, as well as the boys. Gemma surely noticed that too.

So even with all the chaos, security issues and paranoia, maybe London is better for him than any of them actually thought… who knew?

 

 

 

…………………

 

 

“I don’t know how you did it, you know” Ed tells him one of the days he had visited, which is quite often nowadays.

Usually Ed’s presence means goofy music sessions, a lot of food, beer and lego. But today Harry had gone for a nap after lunch, probably feeling sleepier after taking his pills. He hated it, Louis knew. But because Ed was there, Harry had not made much of a fuss about it with Louis like he usually does.

Ed and Louis are sat in the patio, trying to cool up for the sunny day with iced beers, and Louis couldn’t help but to light up a smoke. He really should try to quit, Louis thinks feeling a slightly lightheaded over the beer.

“Did what?”

Ed takes a sip without looking at him. “You know what I mean. You sticked with him through it all, man. Which is like… you know. He seems better now, but back in LA...”

Louis just shrugs.

“Sounds crazy, man… I mean I might be a little pissed, but I don’t think I know anyone who would have stayed through it all. I’ll give you that for sure”

 

Louis shrugs again. He knows that many around them looked at him and Harry with sort of a pity and awe - like some tragic poster story that sounded impossible. Not Ed specifically - who is their friend, but… he knew that was the general norm. They never asked for it… none of it.

Louis knew Harry felt it too - perhaps a bit too much. It might as well be one of the main reasons for Harry’s awkwardness around most of the people, so Louis thinks.

“Anyone in my shoes would have done the same. Don’t think I had a choice.” taking a long drag, Louis crushes the cigarette. “It is what it is.”

 

Ed eyes him carefully and leaning forward to his knees, he places his bottle on the grey paving. His reddish hair glows under the evening sun as if  his head is on fire. It makes Louis want to laugh actually - without a reason.

“When you  two first broke up, I thought he was going to crash - you know.”

Louis stares at Ed, unable to suppress the hiss that comes out.

“We didn’t quite understand back then..., perhaps some of us do now”

Louis looks away. There are too many things in that past… too many scars. Upon their fresh ones it all seem untraceable now. Irrelevant even.

Ed keeps his eyes on him - as he knew a secret anyone didn’t. He’s probably too drunk.

“We were kids back then. Did too many things we shouldn’t have done… listened to too many people we shouldn’t have. It’s funny how in the end we are just back... here… going in fucking circles. Feels like such a waste of time in a way. But there was this feeling always in the back of it all - that ...  that it’s gonna come back to this… that maybe it’s gonna be ok sort… . ”

Tapping at the empty glass bottle, Louis sighs, leaning back on the chair.

Ed just nods, still with a knowing expression lined in his face, as if he understood whatever Louis is going on about … when he possibly didn’t.

 

But Louis doesn’t think he could tell anyone about any of it ...or would.

 

……………………

 

 

 

Harry seem to slowly get used to the studio routine, even it was tough at first.

In the beginning they used their house lounge as a temporary studio because of Harry,  but they had to go into proper studio spaces to get stuff done.

At first Harry was silent and reluctant as same as the first day, curled up in a corner where the rest of them wrote and argued over words and tunes. Liam, Niall and even Zayn seem to notice it. Concerned, they at times tried to reach out to him… perhaps surprisingly Zayn being the one to succeed most of the time. It’s not that Harry shied away from Liam or Niall - with Liam being a bit overly concerned and Niall trying to be all too light and hyper about everything - Louis knew that Zayn had sort of a way of being comforting without asking too much.

Well, Louis’ has had first hand experience in last few years. And he was glad that Harry seem to lean on to Zayn, at least a bit. Because, stone hearted, broody menace is actually could probably read minds with his piercing stare. So it became common for them to see Harry around Zayn a lot in the studio, perhaps even more than with Louis. It seemed like Harry swapped places with Louis being around Zayn... even stepping out to the studios' roof with him for his smoke breaks, though Louis doubted if Harry really smoked at all with him. 

Harry’s most dreaded part in studio days is to walk in and out of places, where paps were waiting with flashing cameras. They all could only imagine the struggle he went, fighting his need to be left alone as he simply put it to words back before they convinced him to come back here. He would always cover his head in a thick hoody and shades as he staggered behind the security, getting in and out of his car. Perhaps the paps and the fans did notice this change in behavior because before all of it Harry used to stay in his cool and attentive towards anything that was thrown in his way. He used to talk to fans, even paps, no matter how frustrated and tired he was inside, he managed to be polite. But now it was physically impossible for him to do that - to be crowded and screeched for attention without filching or panicking. 

Work wise though, Harry seem to come around, little by little. Listening and paying more attention. He even started putting in lyrics and adding tunes to tracks. For Niall’s blessed soul, he had been able to go around Harry’s own house and pick Harry’s notebooks which they all knew he had the habit to scribble around.

“I’m sorry I turned some pages, but some of these sound pretty sick, mate” Niall had yapped. “We should get them into the album”

They are probably written an year or two back, but Harry’s writing always has something about it. His style is quite different to Louis’ and Liam’s - well they all have different writing approaches, surely - but Harry’s sounds raw and slick at the same time, like there is something unrequited hidden in his words, some untold story that he would rather keep inside his head than fully share.

Louis thinks it’s good that Niall found Harry’s notes. And it is even better when Harry actually seem to take interest on bringing them out.  

 

 

……………..

 

 

 

 

“I’m fine, I don’t need it” Drawing his knees in on the bed, Harry scrunches his nose with sleep waged eyes.

Harry protesting against pills should be one of the common ways they start fights. And waking him up with a hand full of pills in the morning might not be the best start to the day either.

It’s one of the days where they start studio late. If he took them now, the immediate drowsiness would wear off so it would be much easier for him when they go to the studio.

“You need to take these, Harry. It’s rather now than later.”

It’s not that Louis particularly liked to fuss, but there were doses of tranquilizers and Venlafaxine he had to take during 72 hour period. It is out of the question. Dr. Woods trusts Louis to make sure he does.

“It bloody dulls my head, alright?! I need to finish the song today. Julian can’t spend more time on it.”

“You are not skipping the dose because of a song. It can wait. I won’t nag if you didn’t have to go to Rita’s party tonight. You won’t take it after studio - we both know that. So you’re taking them now. End of story.”

“Can you not start this first thing in the morning? It’s irritating.” tearing the sheets away Harry sits on the bed, feet on the carpet. “A good morning would have been nice… or a kiss is even better.” he sounds fake offended scratching the sleep swollen eyes.

Louis hisses smile, placing the pills and the glass of water on the side table.

 

“-that so?” bending, he slips his hands through the messy curls under his ears, turning the face up to him… then slowly catching the lips with his. “Better?”

He asks, not pulling too far back.

Harry just looks at him with those eyes… green, yearning eyes that could drown him. Sleepy but utterly sensual… that look should be illegal.

Harry blinks once.

Next second, wrapping his arms around him without a word, Harry drags Louis towards him, leaning back. Louis just topples on top of him. Their lips touch easily, pecking at each other's slowly. Louis couldn’t help kissing his face… cheeks, nose, eyes … and back to those perfect lips. Harry seem to be waiting for that, his tongue tenderly reaches Louis’ upper lip, wet and smooth - asking for access. Louis couldn’t help it… he lets him in, running his fingers through the curls.

The kiss deepens, Harry’s hands sweeping underneath Louis’s t-shirt… further up and further down along his back. Louis could feel his heart thumping faster - breathing getting harder and harder. Louis runs his hand along his cheeks, his neck with a desperate need … heart hammering. He knows he better should stop this now, no matter how much he wanted this, craved this -...

Harry’s heated breaths surround him, floating him higher and higher. It’s damn addictive… that sound. But Louis knows better…

He forces himself to slow down, taking control again… controlling the rhythm. But Harry is not ready to give up just yet. Sensing the phase coming down, Harry flips them over - which he does easily with his longer limbs - landing Louis’ back on the mattress. He tries to continue the kiss when Louis turns his head … but hugging him to the neck.

Harry pants, his chest still rising - hot breaths warming Louis’ skin. They just stay like that, not moving, Harry on top of him, immersed in his arms … probably minutes.

Louis tries to trace his fingers through his hair - to sooth him. But as he does, Harry just pulls back, getting to his feet. Louis tries to catch his face… but he looks impassive - almost blank..

Without a word, he picks up his pills and the glass of water from the side, washing them down his throat.

“Hazz” Louis tries, but Harry doesn’t wait… heading to the bathroom with staggered feet.

 

 

………………

 

 

 

 

The first meeting Harry goes into with the management is with all of them.

He had avoided it so far … and Louis or anyone hadn’t tried to make him either. Since that one time in LA when Simon came to the penthouse, Harry had not faced him nor any of the heads.

In the morning of the meeting Louis doesn’t say anything when Harry spends hours in front of the bathroom mirror, applying layers of concealer on his skin which is sure be covered by his shirt or hair anyway. Instead, he just sits on the bed creeping through Twitter mindlessly until Harry comes out in his own time.

Harry doesn’t like it when Louis tries to help him with any of it - he had noticed. Yes, he talks about them some times out of nowhere when he does, but only when he prefers to. Also there are times that Louis feel that Harry is annoyed by his constant shadowing him, so he tries to give him space when he can. But when they leave for the meeting, Louis makes sure to take Harry’s pills with him just in case.

As they walk in the corridors of the office building, Louis couldn’t help but remember the last time he was here with Harry. The day after he kissed him in his dressing room after the media blow up about him and that girl… the day they both were called in for a warning meeting directed to Harry, who got them to send Louis out of the room… the day he found out about Harry’s contract - their breakup… and the day they were kidnapped…

Walking next to him, Louis could see the strained lines in Harry’s downcast face. True, Harry discussed this with Dr. Woods - Louis even offered to let him skip if he doesn’t want to come, yet Harry had said he would… that he could. Perhaps it is a hurdle he wanted to jump over or, knock over, on his own. But Louis couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Harry to come here - face it… bearing the scars carved into his skin like a permanent tattoo.

They meet in a casual meeting room with Griffith, Harry Magee, Robert and several others including Simon - it is less formal, less pressurized… he could give them that. At least they were making an effort to not agitate him.  Meeting starts with financial plans and then agendas. They talk about further building their image to cater wider audiences and song choices. But as they talk Harry barely utters a word or even look up, sat in the furtherest corner. He just nods and shrugs when someone asks him a question, letting one of them carry it off him.

Everything goes without arguments from both sides for once- perhaps all of them trying to avoid any stress topics. It should be a record since early years.

And when it all ends, Harry is the first to leave, not even waiting for the handshakes. He just nods when Griffith shouts with a “It’s good to see you, Harry” as he walks out the door without waiting for the others.

 

…………………...

 

 

Ed gives them a song.

 

They don’t know if it was because of the raising public speculations of them working together or if Simon really did manage to convince his team to get into  another collaboration. But Ed does.

“It suits you lot better, I think” he says sat in a circle with them in the studio. Ed’s eyes might have gazed over Harry who is resting on his back on the couch scrolling through his phone. Julian and Rick nods at the scribbled paper approvingly as Louis peeps in. He follows through few lines but keeps silent. Well, it’s Ed’s writing.

“We thought about a simple guitar chord to go throughout” Laurence, one of Ed’s writing pals adds, handing Niall’s guitar to Ed.

“I was meant to record a demo and send it through but I guess this way is better. Here goes”

Ed starts strumming and humming the words and they all listen - even Harry who puts down his phone and eyes him in his position few seconds into the song.

 

“... I have loved you since we were I have loved you since we were 18

Long before we both thought the same thing

To be loved and to be in love

All I could do is …. Hmmmm”

We took a chance

God knows we tried

Yet all along, I knew we'd be fine…

All I could do is say that these arms were made for holding you

I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18”

 

Ed keeps strumming eyes sweeping through them as the guitar melody echoes through the studio space. It’s Liam who first raises his voice, running his palm over the back of his neck. “Sounds brilliant, man.”

“Yup” Niall adds.

Zayn keeps silent altogether, his gaze fixed at Ed. Louis nods with a “It’s good”, feeling a little awkward suddenly with no particular reason. He just avoids looking at Harry.

 

“Needs a little more work but - yeah. I would call it ‘When we were 18’... up to you’ll” Ed says playing the guitar back. “It’s yours if you think it’s good” he says looking at Louis.

Well, they’ll be stupid not to. Ed’s a master writer in their generation. Surely Ed knew what he was doing, bringing this song to them… he could tell. Perhaps he’s over thinking things… but there was something in those lines that felt closer to home in a way, sort of  strange way. It’d be some work to try and sing it without feeling ridiculous for  sure.

After Ed leaves, they all busy themselves with some other songs they’ve been working on, planning to come back to it later with some other set of songs. It is a packed day in their schedule with  some recordings and a meeting with the PR team later. Harry had been in a less of a good mood since morning and Louis had to get him to take his pills in the morning hours, rendering him somewhat obnoxious and quiet. But Louis notices that Harry had gone even quieter after Ed leaves… even Liam tells him. Louis almost considered sending him home early with Alex but letting Harry be by himself like this might not be the best thing to do. So they all just let him be sulking on the couch.

 

 

Later when Alex drops them home, it’s almost dark. Harry kicks off his shoes near the door and heads towards the room without a word and Louis just lets him. There is no point in trying to get him to talk or make him do anything while he’s in this mood, Louis knows by now.

He makes tea,  for both of them as usual - checking for leftover salad and chicken in the refrigerator so he can heat it up if Harry agrees for dinner.

Harry laying on the bed as Louis enters the room carrying the two mugs - his heeled boots still on as same as the rest of his cloths. Louis keeps the mugs on the bedside and sits in the corner. Harry doesn’t look at him, laying on his side, arms hugging himself  - eyes staring at the wall, blinking, as if he’s just thinking.  

 

“Brought you some tea.” Louis says gently.

Harry doesn’t move, nor speak for a long while. And Louis doesn’t leave either… sitting there fiddling with his fingers as if he doesn’t care about the tea getting cold. They just stay in silence for more than fifteen minutes and as Louis was going to just give up, Harry finally speaks.

“Why are you here Louis?” he just sounds dull, he usually is when he’s in this mood.

“Do you want me to go?”

Harry closes his eyes as if he’s just tired, hugging himself tighter. Louis just sighs, as much as he wanted to be there for Harry, it’s times like these that he has absolutely no idea what to do. So he does the only thing he could think of - taking off Harry’s boots and socks so he could just sleep. Harry doesn’t protest either, just letting Louis do as he want.

 

“What are you doing here … with me?” Harry asks suddenly again as Louis is peeling off the second sock off his foot. “What are we doing?”

Oh… ok. “I’m not sure what you are asking me, babe”

Harry opens his eyes but doesn’t look up at Louis. “I should have gone to my flat when we came back. You don’t have to look after me.”

Louis silently picks up the boots and socks and keeps them in a corner. He couldn’t see where this is coming from suddenly. He thought they had a silent agreement about all of this… well, not that silent maybe, because he practically spelled it out and bluntly told Harry that he loves him that day in that soaked bath tub. He assumed Harry got that.

 

“You don’t owe me anything.” Harry says slowly sitting up, his bare feet touching the floor.

 

With a tightened smile Louis leans to his knees, sitting beside Harry -  crossing his   fingers together. “I’m here because I want to. And I don’t think your flat is the best place for you to be at the moment.”

Harry doesn’t say anything to that, staring at the floor with slouched shoulders. They just sit there, next to each other.

What is going on in Harry’s head suddenly? They were just arguing over bloody salad and pizza yesterday.

“Did you know Ed was going to dump that on us” Harry asks then out of nowhere. Louis just looks at him sideways. Is he irritated about a bloody song? yes, it sounded a bit too personal for Louis even, but if anything, Harry could have said he doesn’t like it in the studio. It’s not like they didn’t argue on Ed’s songs with him before...

 

“Didn’t know he was even writing. Thought he’s all on taking a break” Louis says carefully.

 

“Knew he was writing it... He showed me” Harry says dully, unbuttoning his shirt.

He doesn’t peel it away though, letting the printed material barely hang in his shoulders - his long curls sweeping  on to his revealed skin above the toned abs. He leans back again then, falls back almost, next to Louis… his feet still touching the floor. The yellowish shirt laying underneath his perfect body, revealing the dark ink on his skin like some art… he did look like some art piece. Closed eyes, Harry just breaths as if frustrated, pulling a fistful of his curls as if he could just kick something.

“He’s been spending too much time with Taylor” Louis says without much thought, looking away. Harry does this sometimes with Louis, putting up a show as if he wanted nothing but for Louis to pounce on him like he used to, years back. It looks completely unintentional in his part - but Louis doubts if it really is. He knew Harry’s antics too much. Maybe it’s his way of punishing Louis for trying to bloody stay away..

 

“Reminded me of us, sort of… or what it could have been. don’t you think?” Harry’s tone is almost mocking. He stares at the ceiling as if caught up with flashbacks… and Louis fails to understand still what has suddenly gotten into him.

He  couldn’t help though dragging his fingers through the halo of brown curls on the sheet, unable to not to touch him.  His toned langley body, the very look of his skin and the raw black ink on it, the flush of his face... He’s a fucking pretty boy... one of a kind, perfection and imperfection all blended in to something totally vile and smooth at the same time. Louis could just watch him... The green eyes looks at him - his half awake sultry eyes… and those parted lips. Without much thought, Louis’ fingertips reach his face… sweeping towards his neck line. He could see Harry breathe with flaring nostrils, and his palm rests on Louis hand on his neck, pressing down warmly.

“It did, I guess. Ed’s a little shit.” Louis smiles, eyes fixed on the green eyes looking back at  him. “But you weren’t 18 back then. You were illegal. Technically, I could have gone to jail”

 “You should’ve” Harry mumbles, distracted.

And something in his voice makes Louis to sweep his arm under Harry’s neck and drag him up, kissing him on lips softly, quickly. Just a chaste kiss though.

But then he hugs him to his chest. He just meant to hold him but Harry puts his hand on top of Louis’ and guides him slowly down his skin. Louis is hesitant at first, but hot air breathing on his neck and small hisses makes him surrender. He could feel Harry’s heart thump faster. He feels dizzier in his head as he runs his hand along Harry’s skin without much of a prompt…  then running them freely on his body - feeling the marks and scars under his palm which Harry wouldn’t let him see or feel unless he could cover it up first. He drives his hands further around and down, peeping at the waistband of his black jeans. One of Harry’s own hands reach up to Louis’ head, running his fingers through his hair not too softly while the other ghost Louis’ thigh. Louis feels almost near hyperavating with need to own his body once again - his long limbs, flushed skin, pillowy lips… to drown in his wild sultry eyes. He wants to follow his instinct and give in to his own body’s craving… to give in to the yearning Harry himself doesn’t spell out after that one time he did.

He pulls Harry’s head towards him and crashes lips on his just desperate to feel the touch of them. Harry reacts in a similar heat, melting into him. He moans, and the sound tingles certain parts of Louis body without shame. He sweeps his tongue through Harry’s lips, licking and tasting him like he found his long lost taste, making Harry hum into his mouth. Harry's hands running under his t-shirt, firing him with eager, not so gentle touches. Their bodies heating up as same as the kiss, making them just breathe through each other, both running out of breath, almost choking. Louis couldn’t help but to grab a fistful of curls and tug back so they could breathe. Harry almost protests but then he lets go, breathing hard. Louis just takes second to dive back kissing him on his long revealed neck as Harry leans back - pulling Louis with him to the bed.

And it’s as Harry’s impatient fingers reaches the zip of his trousers that Louis gets a sudden splash of water in his face...

He’s on top of Harry, marking a fucking love bite on his neck… Harry’s neck … Harry who is not - NOT- ready for this. He doesn’t have a bloody idea if Harry could handle this. What is he doing? That the fuck is he doing?

Open mouthed, he just breathes on his neck, catching Harry’s hand on the flyer of his trouser.

He was so painfully hard… and he knows that Harry is no better. But no… he would not make this mistake. He would not let Harry take the leap not knowing how deep he could bare to fall.

Still breathing on the warm reddened skin, he slowly leads Harry’s hand  away and slides off him. Harry Tries to protest but with Louis' firm grip, he just let Louis peel his hands away from him. He lays there the way Louis leaves him.

Sitting at the side Louis looks at Harry only few moments after… after his high seem to come down.

Harry just lays there still.. Without an inch of a movement, without  word. His skin still looks flushed and hair a  mess. Eyes fixed at the ceiling, Harry’s features looks so strained that Louis  could bang his head somewhere for being this careless.

“Harry, I’m-” he starts but Harry suddenly gets up from bed… grabbing his phone from the nightstand. He starts dialling without looking back at Louis.

Louis bites his lip just watching as he overhears the rings with zero idea what Harry is doing.

 

“Harry?”

Someone answers. Someone with a familiar voice. He couldn’t recognize. Doesn’t sound like Grimy for sure though.

“Hey, can I crash at yours?”

What? Louis’ legs shoots up from the seating position, making him stand. What the fuck is Harry doing?

“Yeah…yeah.. I - I just - can you come and pick me up?”

Louis try to get closer… try to listen harder but whatever the other person is saying he doesn’t clearly hear.

“ Fine, Zayn. He’s here. No. Ok? Just pick me up”

Harry’s asking Zayn to come and pick him up? He’s talking to Zayn?

 

“Ok... Fine”

 

Harry hangs up with a tired voice. Louis waits, holding his breath for Harry to tell him what on the bloody earth he’s doing. But Harry doesn’t turn to him, instead he keeps walking towards the bathroom.

“I’m going to Zayn’s for the night. He’s coming in 15 to pick me up.” Harry says dully closing the door behind him.

 

Louis just stands there for few seconds - trying to understand what just happened. He looks around looking for his phone. He probably left it in the kitchen.

Head pounding, he hurries to the kitchen… He calls Zayn.

“Louis” Zayn sounds calm. He’s probably walking to his car.

“Where are you?”

“On the way there. What happened?”

“What the fuck do you mean what happened?”

“He called and asked me to come and pick him up? Did you two fight?”

“NO!! I - I don’t know. I - He can’t-”

“Tommo, it’s for a night. Give me his pills and stuff. Let me know what to do. I’ll drop him back tomorrow morning.”

“No - no. I can’t he’s… t’s not safe.”

“Send Rod with us. He’s there, yeah?”

“I’m not sending him-”

“Why is he angry then?”

“I - we… I got carried away, ok. We started kissing and - fuck, I can’t believe I’m actually talking about it .” he pinches his brow, sliding down the wall next to the room. “I pulled off and - and I don’t know?.”

He could just hear Zayn sighing. Why the hell is he sighing like he has any idea of any of this?

 

“Tommo… maybe he’s just overwhelmed by stuff.  Just - just let him be. I’ll come and pick him. It’s only for tonight. He’ll be fine. You can call right? .”

 

Louis just hangs up not sure what to do. Harry hasn’t come out of the bathroom either. He has a feeling that Harry won’t, until Zayn comes and knocks on it… surely avoiding Louis. Fuck! He knew Harry is not ready for this. He fucking knew. With a pounding head tries not to think about the disastrous endings of the both times he tried to be intimate with Harry back in LA.

How stupid was it of him to let himself get carried away...

Not knowing what else to do, Louis just slides down to the floor. His heart freezing with guilt and frustration, perhaps blended with some irritation at the curly haired boy's stubbornness. He had almost forgotten how defensive and freakily headstrong he could be... the green eyed menace!

 

True to Louis' thoughts, Harry only opens bathroom door after Zayn knocks... letting him know that he's there.

He doesn’t look at either of them directly - just goes around stuffing few cloths in a bag. Without a word. He packs his pills as well… and his log book for Dr. Woods. He hadn’t changed or eaten. His face looks tired under the strained lines, but Louis doesn’t try to say anything. Sat on the bed, he just stares at Harry who ignores him. Zayn stands by the door awkwardly, and just follows Harry as he steps out of the room without a word to Louis. Zayn looks at Louis with a meaningful stare though - tapping at his phone in the hand - indicating that he’ll call.

Louis doesn’t follow them. He just stares at the vehicle drive off the road, followed by a security SUV.

 

 

……………..

 

 

 

Zayn doesn’t call as he promised,

But he texts almost after three hours.

Get some sleep. Will see you in the studio tomorrow.’

And then;

‘Don’t get worked out. He’ll be fine’

 

........................................

 

 

 

Next day, Louis couldn’t help but to sulk.

He hadn’t slept well, so he’s in one of those moods - he couldn’t help it. Only Niall and Liam is there when he steps into the studio and it doubles his crankiness.  He must have looked quite an arse when he just ignores Liam and heads to the couch, donning headphones when Liam asks him ‘where’s H?’ But he couldn’t care less. Maybe he is behaving like a kid, but seriously!

Zayn and Harry finally graces the studio an hour later, typical for Zayn. Maybe they spend the hour playing hokus pokus with Zayn’s new fucking pal, Shahid. (seriously who calls themselves naughty boy unless you are singing kid’s rhythms?)

Louis just keeps to himself. And so does Harry, scribbling down his notebook in a corner like he’s suddenly pouring with ideas. Did he really take that ratty band t-shirt with him yesterday? He couldn’t remember. Harry’s probably keeping his head down on purpose… snuggled in to a corner of a plush couch . Zayn doesn’t make a particular effort to explain anything to Louis either. Caught in the middle, Liam and Niall both try not to act odd, but of course they does - both of them.

They were rehearsing for recordings of some finished songs - matching the harmonies and doing re-additions. So their strained exchanges limits to very few. They all seem to ignore when Louis seem to flip at no one particular - cursing that they ever agreed on their deadlines. Harry doesn’t even raises his head up to look at Louis... nor anyone else. Louis just wants to shake him and make him look at him for once. What now? is Harry going to bloody pretend they didn't live in the same house? had been living in the same house, sleeping on the same fucking bed for weeks now?

 

 

Zayn only catches up with Louis at the lunch break… in the bloody men’s room.

Louis was washing hands when he hears someone close the door with a click behind him. He doesn’t look back, seeing Zayn's reflection in the mirror.

“Took you long enough” he says mockingly as Zayn leans back on one of the sinks. Louis turns, dragging several tissues and drying his hands. He dumps hem to the bin with an unnecessary force and glares, finally looking up. Zayn just looks at him in a hoodie which might have been Liam’s or Niall’s long time back. The band t-shirt Harry’s wearing... is probably Zayn’s , now he think of it.

“You need to talk to him” Zayn says carefully as if he knew Louis’ going to snap at him.

“We talk” he sounds like a 5 year old even to himself.

Zayn stares back at him, biting his lip. Louis gets the feeling that he’s just hesitating… When did ever Zayn hesitate to say anything to him?

“Don’t have to beat around the bush. Spit it out.”

Zayn drags his hand down his face, pinching his own chin - eyes still on Louis’ impatient face.

“You know he went through, Tommo… better than anyone.”

Louis doesn’t say a word. He just leans his head back crossing his arms and keep glaring.

Zayn sighs. “We all know about stuff. You know… what happened there and even after… like in LA. Stuff that no one would be comfortable sharing around. We know… and some of the other people, plus the management - they all know. Perhaps he just needs space to get himself together… without us all looking at him through that glass”

“I’m not looking at him through fucking anything. He has bad days. I fucking get it. But he can’t just leave, alright? He’s not up to that. Not yet”

“He’s not a kid, Louis.”

“No! But do you know how many bloody times I have dragged him out of the tub trying to drown himself in his head after we came here? Fucking staring at nothing like he’s lost it. He’s a fucking stubborn idiot who thinks he knows best. He’s always had been. And that’s the reason we are all here in the first place!” he grits teeth as if he could chew the irritation between his teeth.

Zayn shakes his head with a tiredness.

“You can’t bring that up to this mess, man. You can’t. You know that. It’s not the best - “

“You know… I know that he thinks it’s my fault that he hooked up with that suicidal junk, alright? And maybe he’s right. I was a fucking idiot to trust him to be able to handle it by himself. It's my fault I didn't see things through… but it’s him that went and signed that fucking contract - it’s him who made the mess of it. I can’t take blame for every fucking thing under the sun! “

“Tommo… he -”

“He can’t expect me to take the blame for everything, Zayn”

“Tommo! You are not listening, man!” Zayn says louder this time, but Louis doesn't stop. He couldn't. He takes off from the wall he was leaning on, wanting to move from Zayn's judging stare.

“No, he's not listening to me, Zayn! He's fucking not listening to me!" he raises his voice, to which Zayn glares at him. "First time I tried to kiss him, in LA… he went to a fucking coma for days, alright?!” He says ignoring Zayn, and the shake of his own voice. “That’s when they had to wake him up with shock treatment. Not - not because Simon made him fucking sign a contract... I fucking watched they electrocute him, alright? I - I was there...” He starts phasing running his hand through his hair. “And then, second time, I - I was trying to stop him going out to fuck around - and - and he just lost control… almost had a breakdown, again. Because of me!!!” He fists his t-shirt wanting to kick on something. “I didn’t tell any of you because I was fucking ashamed! I was supposed to look after him but I was fucking selfish and jealous!!! Both of the times!! He’s not - he’s not well… I’m not going to make the same bloody mistake this time because he feels he need to prove something to himself!”

“Louis” he hears Zayn say but he doesn’t think he could look at him. He bends down to his knees, clutching them - feeling like his insides are shaking for no reason. For the first time since yesterday he realizes what he’s  really feeling inside. The feeling that is about to explode his bloody head. Fear … it is fear.

“Is he breaking up with me?” he asks without looking at Zayn’s face. And there is a silence that Louis think might break his ear drums. His head feels blurred and heavy.

“Tommo” his tone is too gentle, too careful. And Louis hates it with a passion. He doesn't look up, he doesn't think that he can.

"Tommo" Zayn says again.

“What?” He snaps, voice high. His chest is paining - he is not sure if it is because of the breath he's holding or something else. With an effort, he looks up, meeting the dark eyes. Zayn looks calm but Louis doesn’t like the pity he sees in his concern etched face.

With a sigh, Zayn steps in front of him, watching him. And Louis' gaze drops once again with a dread he's unable to even think of.  Is Harry leaving him? after everything is he breaking it up again? Was Harry feeling too guilty to tell it to Louis' face that he buggered off to Zayn's so Zayn could parrot it to Louis with a bloody sugarcoat? Louis's head felt light. Harry is everything to him. He can't lose him... he just can't.

“I know this is old but... both of you went through so much, Louis. From the beginning. I know you are protective of him, hell, he knows it. No one would have done the things you did for him in these past few months. He's beyond grateful - "

"I fucking didn't do anything to make him feel obliged to stay with me alright!" Louis almost chokes. Eyes getting blurrier, he is well aware how utterly broken he sounds. "He doesn't need to lie if he don't want to stay. He's fucking free to bugger off as same as before" he spats bitterly unable to stop his tears anymore. He overs his eyes, unable to stop the shaking in his shoulders as Zayn pulls him in.

"Sh... sh.."

Louis grits his teeth - trying to take control. He doesn't want to be this again. Not out of fear of losing him.

"Tell him I said he can leave if he wants to-"

"You are not listening to him, Tommo... and you haven't been talking to him - he haven't either. I get it, he's still a mess. But this is Harry, ok? Both of you are so fucking stubborn that you'll don't stop and try to listen to each other even for a second."

 

"I Listen to him!!!" Louis hisses, pulling off Zayn... Hasn't he been listening and doing everything possible

 

"Then perhaps you are not hearing what he's saying, Tommo. You can't take away what happened to him. No one can. Maybe all he need is space to do what he thinks is right for him. All of this that happened, it all kicked him off his knees and maybe what he wants more than anything, is to get on his feet, on his own accord. He has scars - many we won't even see - and I don't think he'll ever tell us about it all, Louis. He might open up to you more, but  He's trying to find his way back to himself and maybe - maybe we treating him like a glass with cracks is not helping much. Maybe for once, all he wants is to stop feeling vulnerable. They didn't spare him any dignity or pride, Louis... last thing he want us to do is to think he's got none.  ”

Louis sits on his heels in the middle of the floor, eyes fixed at the patterned floor tile of the grey colored floor. Zayn follows him after.

"You need to talk to him, Tommo... you need to tell him what's in your head and you need to hear what he' has to tell you... before it goes out of the sidelines. He has too many things digging at his head, and I don't think it's fair to ignore it all because we think we know what's best for him."

 

 

 

………………………

 

 

 

 

“Can we talk?”

Louis asks peeping into the bathroom as Harry seem to get ready for the bed. Harry just shrugs, looking at him through the mirror as he dries his face with the towel. His hair is slightly wet, water dripping down from few corners.

They had finished early in the studio today, which Louis was glad about. After his one on one with Zayn yesterday, Louis had skipped the rest of the session and gone home, leaving it to Alex to take Harry where ever he wanted. Louis had felt tired to even look at Harry's way ... even after all this months, Louis should have known this is not going to be any easy. Well now he does.

Harry had come home around six, probably after hanging out with Zayn more. They had slept in the same bed without a word - keeping to their respective sides. Not that Louis did much of sleeping anyway, too busy staring at the wall in his side. Now, the next day, after a brief studio session which only lasted until noon, they still haven’t talked - sulking in two sides. He's not sure whose giving the silent treatment to who. Tension between them getting to a point where Louis could not take it anymore. Harry seem nervous, awkward even - awkward than he had been in a long time. And Louis, more than anything, feels sad - sad that Harry could talk to Zayn but not to him…  how did it all get to that? he was not sure.

Louis sighs. Whatever is in Harry’s head - Louis wanted him to spit it out, even if it means the worst... even if it means this is going to end here.

He takes a breath and eyes him from the back, not wanting to see those piercing big eyes.

“Just I'm - I'll be blunt so - so there's no blanks to toll with." He says, taking a breath, looking at his slouched back. "I'm - I’m scared to lose you.” he confesses, like it’s weight that he had been hiding underneath. “I did, more than once - or twice… and I don't want to - not again. But, that doesn’t mean ... that you have to stay, Harry. Not if you don’t want to.”

Harry doesn’t say anything. Instead, he folds the towel in the bar and walks out passing Louis, to the room. Louis has to take a second before he follows him - having said what he had said in the lightest possible way. He walks to Harry sitting on the bed, leaning on his knees.

“I want you to tell me what you want me to do, Harry.” he says, tired - feeling almost drained now that he spelt it out. “I don’t know what you want me to do…I'm trying to understand... but I’m not - I’m not telepathic.”

Harry doesn't speak, nor look up. Dragging his hand over his face, Louis tries to keep his calm. What made everything to suddenly go wrong like this? They were doing just fine. Harry was doing just fine, right? Louis hated falling back to this - this silent treatment. He could never stand it when Harry got like this even when they were together. Words, he could deal with... but silence?

"If you want me to just leave...it's fi-ne," he says shrugging off the shake in his own voice, "I'll leave. But you need to tell me... Harry, you've got to..." 

 

“I want you to stop pitying me” his voice sounds dull, and small. He says it without looking up.

Just... Louis stares.

“I don’t -  pity you”

“You do” Harry says, more like a statement as his face shoots up to Louis' - his eyes, glassy and hurt clouded. “You all do."

"I don't even understand what you are on about"

Harry's eyes lingers on his face for a moment without a word. Then he looks down again then. " You all look at me like you can’t bear to see me, like I'm - I'm..” His lips tightens, he blinks steadily.

"What are you even saying, Harry?"

Harry starts fiddling with his ringed fingers. "You all can't look at me without getting the flashes of what happened to me... how much of a fucked up toy they've turned me in to. I could just read it off from all of your faces each time, you know?" he smiles bitterly to himself, corners of his lips barely managing to turn upwards.

Louis just stares at his form, -  

“This - this is all in your head, Harry! Yes! We are concerned about you because we care, alright? I fucking love you. I’m in love with you. I do worry -”

“You are in love with our fucking past, Louis! What we had… what I was. You saw what they did to me! YOU KNOW!! YOU TRY NOT TO BUT YOU’RE DISGUSTED BY ME!!!”

Hot tears spill from the green red eyes and his flushed face looks agitated and painful. Louis looks at him dumbly, unable to process the words.

“I’m not-”

“You can barely touch me! You can’t even look at me… You are not my fucking mother to look after me, Louis!! If I can’t give you anything back, you don’t need to stick around patronizing me! I don’t want you to waste your time because I happen to have my life fucked up!”

“I’m not patronizing anyone!!!” Louis snaps at him for the hurt he feels, looking at the pale, pained face staring back at him.

“You just pity me!!”

“ DO you have any fucking idea how much I want you?” Louis shakes his head with an unsteady breath. He steps near him, his blurring eyes fixed upon that perfect flushed features of his. “Do you have any idea how ha-rd it is for me to not do the things I want to do to you?… the things I want to do to your body?" with shaking hands Louis sweeps his fingers through the over grown curls, holding his face up to him - maybe a little more roughly than he should. He couldn't help it. He grips on the fist full of hair with a strong urge to kiss him - clash his lips with those fleshy red ones… climb on to his body to feel him go plaint. He grits his teeth, just standing there though "I - I’ve never craved anything this much.”  

He stares down at Harry who is looking at him amid his tears, hurt … maybe trying to understand Louis’ words. "I just can't take a chance and have it messed up for you… don’t you understand?" he almost grips him harder - almost shakes him as if it would make him realize. "I’m… I’m fucking scared that if I try, you will panic halfway through… and - I’m scared that things happened would just flash on you and you would run away from me… I - I … in LA, both times something happened between us, you ended up the worst I’ve seen you… and I - I can’t let that happen again, alright? Because I'm freaking bloody selfish and - and I'm paranoid when it comes to you. I can't help it... because - I want you too much... love you too much to lose you” 

Louis takes his hands off, trying to control his breathing. Taking steps backwards he turns away from the green eyes looking at him.

 

"For how long, Louis?" Harry's voice sounds broken, choked even.

Louis turns back to see Harry, sat there, slouched… tears trickling down his pale cheeks. His perfect nose runny and face blotchy.

"How long do you think you can put up with this all this bulshit? all the fucking moods and crazy and tell me you still love me?" his voice sounds more broken with each word and his eyes etched with devastation.

"How long are you going to put up with it? a month? a year? You - you talk about love - LOVE, Louis... you talk about love and fucking CRAP you feel... but I - all I feel is fucking lost - and empty..." shivering as if he is cold, Harry slides down to the floor - curling in to himself, trying to wipe off the tears that seem to bother him. Louis wants to rush to him, fold him in to his arms but his feet doesn't move - or his body doesn't. He just watches him as Harry continues. "I don't feel a fucking thing anymore... about anything... or anyone" dragging his hand along his face from the top, Harry curls on the floor - his tear struck eyes not looking at Louis. "I want you because that's the only trace I've got left from myself that I fucking remember, alright?!! I'm fucking using you to get my life back when you can't bare to look at me, even touch me..."

"Harry" Louis tries gently. But Harry doesn't stop.

"If I can't manage to give a fucking thing back to you why would you stay, Louis!!! I don't need your fucking pity!  I don't need any of your pity!!! I fucking can't love you back. I don't feel bloody anything!!! Perhaps we should - we should...".

Stepping closer, Louis sits down in front of him on the floor - with a good bit of space between them.

"I don't want you to feel anything, alright? I don't want you to do anything.  You have nothing to prove to me, Harry. I'm in love with you. That's bloody enough for both of us... if you have me, alright?" He let tears roll down his cheeks as Harry stares at him. He doesn't care that Harry's glassy eyes are watching his teary face. He truly doesn't. "There's nothing in this world I'd rather do than to be with you, Haz... touch you and ... "He bites his lip hard, wanting to stop blabbering. Wanting to make sense to the green eyes boy staring at him with tearing eyes. "I know I've been pushing you a way at times... when you - when you needed to assuring - I'm sorry I didn't see it from your shoes. I didn't know you would feel rejected and - and," Leaning forward, Louis slowly reaches for his arm - drawing circles on his skin with his finger tips. "I love you, Harry and I always have. I leave you for the life of me unless... unless you want to me to."

Eyes cast on to the woolen carpet, Harry just sits there, unmoving. His eyes were tearing but he doesn't seem to care - his features flashing nothing but pain. Louis doesn’t want to make him sad - doesn’t want to complain or reason out what he’s doing here with him or why. But he wanted him to understand, hoped he would understand that he loved him ... maybe even more than he did back in their better times.

"Do you want me to leave?" he asks, whispers almost. He doesn't look at him because he couldn't.

Wiping his eyes off the smudged tears, Harry sighs deep. His hair, messy and tangled, envelops his distressed face. If Harry wants him to leave, he probably have to ask Alex to move back in... Harry cannot live alone. Perhaps Liam, Niall and Zayn could take turns and stay until the album is over. Managing to still breathe calm, Louis starts to get him self up feeling heavier and emptier. But then he's dragged back down - almost making him fall back. The grip on his hand leaves him quicker as it came.

Harry doesn't look at him, head leaned back to the bed in his position of the floor. His eyes remain closed.

 "Stay.." he says "Please"

 

Chapter Text

 

15. Ghosts

 

 

Closing the files he was reviewing, Simon waits as the young man with famous overlong locks and brooding sharp features sits down in front of him directed by Ashley, Simon’s assistant. The green eyes avoids Simon’s face - as same as every time they’ve had meetings here in the Modest or Syco offices. But he looks much much better though - much better than Simon or anyone thought he would be after everything that he went through. But there seem to be a striking difference in the way he even held himself now to the early days of their stardom some busy years back.

First time Simon saw Harry Styles in the X Factor auditions, something caught his attention. Something different than just pouring eagerness and unreachable hopes in a place like that.

Stardom is a state of mind - if you’ve got it, you’ve got it. It is probably rare to find someone with that much of talent, wit and knack to win people that mattered that young, but Harry had it in his bag since that early times. Not that other four boys were any less… all of them were in different aspects of talent, different voices and different personalities with urging thirsts to prove themselves. But being a talent scout, Simon knew that Harry was the easier face, obvious choice. It went beyond the crooning, raspy voice, cherub like mannerisms, effortless charm  or his good looks. He had always been a potential star… perhaps even a mark in making…

Years had been tough on him…  tougher because of his own naivety, peers and their recklessness in the beginning. But the decisions made in his regard had to happen… there was no argument on that. It was nothing personal. In a world where mass scale pop culture dreams are made of women’s knickers, boy’s love and men’s muscle, a teenage gay hookup would do harm than good…especially if you are just stepping into mainstream. It would have limited them - backtrack them, losing their chance for mass appeal.

Naivety had limitations in the industry… even you are a millions worth international pop heartthrob. If there’s gain, then there’s a prize to pay - that’s what Simon always said. But years after,  what none of them never expected was the amount of prize the teen heartthrob would have to pay for being just that.

On his years in the music industry, Simon doesn’t think anything took that much of a toll on everything and everyone he knew than it did with what happened in the past year.

Industry politics is always a game in a maze which could end in a clusterfuck unless you manage to take the next turn the second you got stuck. And man did they get stuck… Between clever calculated contracts with millions of  dollars and two lives that worth millions in striking spotlight. But all in all Simon doubted that even the clever heads that plotted against them planned everything to get deep into shit like it did.

Modest and Syco got struck with a huge loss by backing from the planned contracts. It was a thought out decision - to save the two boys for a prize that was too hard to balance. It was an utter sacrifice - a one that no business would do in right mind. But it was the right thing to do at the time. At least they owned a million dollar label in the end of the day - a label with a highly anticipated album which is expected to break records, surly.

The boys owed it to the company, they did. It was payback in a way.

That’s why Simon lost it when he found himself watching a grainy but a clear enough video of Harry’s confession on his intentions on signing the band to Azoff’s MSG.

Simon knew Eric was passing him that almost 30 minute long clip of Harry’s interrogation under the clutches of that psychopath was  for his own gain than to anyone else's. But watching that, seeing their own pop golden boy admitting to have being plotting against the very people who brought him to this place angered him beyond words. Not even all the beatings, screams nor manhandling he had seemingly endured could cover his betrayal.

Simon always had a soft spot for Harry… even from early days on. They had a good working relationship before all this and Simon thought that Harry always considered him as a mentor to his career no matter what.

But what he had done - thought of doing - in his position was unacceptable.

Simon was a reasonable guy… he knew he is. But he would not tolerate disloyalty by any means. He is not a fool - never have been. He would not wait and let what is his to be passed to another to profit… not if there is no gain for him. It is as simple as that.

But that doesn’t mean he was a demon - perhaps a forgiving demon.

Especially if the person in question is deserving enough for forgiveness. And with everything he endured and fought to come back to where he is now during past few months, Simon felt Harry did deserved it.

After that visit he paid him in LA, Simon stayed clear of him… Even after Harry arrived at London, he had only seen him in management meetings, where Harry kept to himself hardly speaking a word and left as soon as they ended. And perhaps it is time that he broke the ice… That’s why after the meetings today, weeks before the album is out, Simon tells Harry to meet him in his office just before he jets out as usual.

 

Simon could sense the disapproval from other boys’ faces - especially Louis’. Perhaps they were being protective but doesn’t change the fact that Simon is the boss.

Pulling his reading glasses off, Simon pours himself a water from the glass jug on the side of his table.

 

“Been here since six in the morning and still didn’t get a time for a bite. I’m thinking Sally’s across the road for lunch. How about you?”

“I’m good. Thanks.” He  says after a pause, lips tight, not looking up.

Simon looks at him calculatingly. “I’m sorry I took this long to talk to you properly, Harry. I felt you needed time away after all of it. And I think I’m right. ”

Harry looks up at that, and Simon could not grasp if it was weariness or lack of interest that comes out of that face. It is a strange look on him who usually manages to mask his face to a dutiful politeness even at worst times.

“How have you been, Harry?”

“I’m fine.” he says with a small shrug, dropping his gaze once again.

Simon nods, eyes on him. With hair grown passing his shoulders, Harry looks much older than he did few months back… perhaps he’s just tired today. Stress lines seem to have resided on his face with shadowed eyes. Taking his glass of water, Simon takes a sip before he speaks.

 

“I want to apologize to you, for how I acted, when I came to see you in LA the last time.” He says to Harry’s down cast form. “It was - a mistake in my part ...considering everything. Considering the things you had in your bag at the time. I do want to apologize for not being the bigger person I should have been then...I’m sorry for that. But I can tell you what caused that so you will understand why I was like that.”

Simon pauses, needing Harry to look up at him -

 

“I know about MSG, Harry.” he says calmly.

 

Silence catches up for solid few seconds and Harry looks up at Simon finally - just stares at him almost taken aback as Simon watches him.

“I never wanted to believe your and Jeffory’s friendship was anything else. Not even when there was enough things to believe that. I was, surprised I guess … I know you wanted to take the band. You were planning to leave either with them or by yourself.”

 

Harry’s expression is almost like a cornered deer for a moment… then it turns beaten and almost unsure.  If it was someone else, Simon would have taken the triumph out of this session. But no… with this boy in front of him, it was different - he didn’t even want to pretend he found this any amusing than Harry did. He shakes his head with a sigh.

“Why didn’t you come to me first, if you were that unhappy about things, Harry? We had a good thing going on - you didn’t need to back track me on anything… you could have come to me… I would have tried to come to negotiations that would have made things different”

“I’m - I’m sorry” dull deep voice mumbles. Simon feels it’s more to end this conversation than to anything else. Harry looks uncomfortable, even slightly agitated … as if this was some sort of a confrontation.

“You don’t need to be.” Simon sighs. “I didn’t call you here to gloat and tell you that you fucked up. Perhaps you did. You made your move and I made mine. I’ve been in this industry long enough, Harry. I didn’t survive for this long by holding grudges. Forming One direction didn’t change my life, but it did change yours and the other four lads. It’s something I take pride on - making you guys. Making something out of nothing. And I thought we had an understanding between us… at least you and me. It disappointed me when I realized I misjudged things. I never took you for a cynic out of the lot.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Harry repeats, eyes cast down still, as if it was the only thing he had in his lips to say.

 

Simon ignores it, staring at him with a furrowed gaze.

“Last January, we were about to sign for the biggest contract since the deal with Sony. It was for  more than half of Capital Record shares, Harry…if anyone told you. That was the deal that fell off with all of this. The deal we chose to lay off for you and Louis. Understand me, Harry … I’m not pointing at anything or blaming anyone. But I did what I could with the circumstance. I did the only thing I could, to save you two without letting the ship sink. You and the other four might have felt what we did was unacceptable, extending the contract... but I don’t think anyone can blame us for that.”

There seem to be a heaviness to the very air in the room… something weighing like guilt, discomfort and disappointment. It seemed like a bad place to be. Simon drops his palms on his palm and stands up.

“All of this… it doesn’t need to be a burden, Harry. I know there were times you and I didn’t agree. But we have to there’s three years ahead of us and neither five of you nor us should backtrack into the same circles we’ve been following. I know you all are feeling pressured into this … this album, upcoming tour and promo.”

Harry looks up at Simon with a measuring eyes as the older man continues.

“We have a fair chance of really working together, Harry. I don’t mean to keep you long but I need you to understand… things happened, happened - for reasons or no reasons. But now, the best we can do is work as a team. We have to be in the same side no matter the past. I don’t want things that almost blew this up to really blast things.”

 

Harry just stares, remembering the times when he followed and trusted Simon with his life. Yes, he and the boys were in debt to this man - this man who saw something in a bunch of immature teens to trust and invest on them. Things between them had changed now though, but all in all, there is a logic in his words… as same as always.- in some wicked and twisted way as it had felt in later years. But Simon could have laughed at him, mocked him for his failed betrayal. But he didn’t. And in the end Harry could grasp what Simon was trying to tell him if nothing else.

 

………………….

 

 

 

“Harry?” Louis calls, unable to swallow it any longer.

He had tried to talk to him earlier, on the way to the studio from Modest office - after his meeting with Simon. Louis had waited there until he came out of course, with Liam who seem to look worried as well.

‘Later’ was what Harry had mumbled to him as he got into the SUV with them. And they had been hanging in the studios late, to much of Louis’ dismay - although Harry didn’t act any different from a normal day.

It did surprise them all though - perhaps because they were all waiting for  the worst.

 

Taking off his t-shirt from the head and throwing it on the couch next to the bed, Louis sweeps in under the sheets next to Harry who had been scribbling down his leather bound notebook for sometime now. His white shirt is loose around his neck, revealing his pale collarbones and giraffe-like neck. Hair in a messy bun, and eye brows knitted in concentration while he held on to his pen as if his life depended on it - the very sight brought a smile to Louis’ lips. He’s like a walking piece of art sometimes - well laying at the moment.

“Hey,” he squeezes his arm lightly, making the green eyes look at him. “You good?”

Harry just hums, penning down few more words before closing the book and putting it away.

His stares at Louis’ hand between the sheets almost as if he wanted to say something. But instead he slowly reaches Louis’ hand with his - touching it as if it soothed him.

He then surprises Louis by taking  his hand and directing it to the back of his neck.

 

They are still careful about this - or Louis is. To his own surprise, Louis felt far comfortable when Harry took the lead when they are intimate. He still felt conscious about accidently pressing wrong buttons. But Louis didn’t try to resist being intimate anymore, not really. He tried his best to let Harry to find his own phase between them, which was what Dr. Woods advised Louis to do when he asked for advice.

In the other hand Harry, seem to be completely two different people when he’s leading it or letting Louis take over. When he topped, he was a man taking what he want while giving pleasure… but when he lead Louis to take on, he seemed fragile - near sort of an edge. Louis could see it right through him. But Harry also seemed to trust him with it - for whatever the reason Louis possibly couldn’t grasp.

Leaning towards him with a moment’s delay, Louis catches his lips with his own - like Harry is some magnet drawing him in. He holds his face with both hands, running his thumbs on Harry’s cheeks and jawline. Harry easily parts his lips, takes his tongue in, sucking in to it as Louis deepens the kiss.

Taking his time, Louis drags one of his hands down slowly, giving enough time to Harry to stop him if he wants to - which he doesn’t. He runs his palm on the pale inked skin on the shoulders and neck, lips still attached to his. Louis slowly starts unbuttoning the soft material with one hand while tugging at the hair tie with the other, making it go lose. Harry lets him, same as most the times.

Peeling the shirt off his shoulders, Louis runs his hand on the pale inked skin -  not showing any hesitance as feels the smallest bumps, healed marks and softened patches on his body. Harry just hums through the kiss, arms around Louis’ neck.

Their movements are slow, between breaths - with enough space to stop at any point.

It is the only way Louis agreed to it at all - though he feels like a moth caught in a flame. Now he’d been given the feel again, Louis doesn’t know if he’d be able to ever say no to this again - this feeling of owning him body to body, bone to bone.

 

The first time they did this after all this time, he was scared for the most part. But he finally gave in to his desire and craving, because it was what Harry wanted - and who is he to deny him? It was like drowning in a nostalgic bed of water… an embrace they both had been stolen from since so long. By the end - even with post sexual high, they were in tears … perhaps more Louis than Harry.

After so many years it was all so much different yet exactly the same - even though their limbs and bodies had changed so much during the time they were apart. Harry’s once softer, gangly form was now toned and ganglier, fuller. And his once unmarred skin is now marked in so many places that it hard to count. But still they could read each other off as easy as they once could, knew the other’s pleasure points and weaknesses in the back of their necks - they fit like hand and a glove despite of the long time they spent apart.

Once given a chance, it had been easy between them… easier than falling asleep. Perhaps Louis is a sappy mess, building skies in the comfort zone they had stepped in to but he knew that if he ever wished for a happy ending, it was this.  

But he doesn’t feel anything else as he kisses him - . “I love you” he mumbles, laying him on his back slowly as Harry complies easily, green eyes watching Louis expectantly, red silk lips almost parted… but he doesn’t say anything. “I love you” Louis repeats, bending to quick kiss his neck, shoulder… moving to his sensitive hips and side of his ribs.

Harry arches his back for that, reaching for Louis’s soft ruffled hair … his other hand sweeping along the sheets.

Reaching closer, Louis breathes warmly on his abs with instant effect of goosebumps pebbling his white skin. His hand smoothly graces over his hardness.

 

“Louis” his voice is raspier as he gasps, throwing his head back towards the headboard.

And Louis doesn’t think he would get enough of it - the way his veins pops in his pale neck or the way his bronze curls wraps around his skin and halos his head like a crown on white sheets. The way his parted red lips sighs with almost pleasure while eyes are closed, hiding the glass greens.

Louis settles between his long legs, bending them slowly by the knees. He sweeps his hands more directly along his skin, wrapping the fingers around his already hard cock. Harry fists the sheets, arching his back. Louis doesn’t tease him anymore… he leans and fishes the lube from the nightstand as Harry spreads a little more. Louis kisses him on the thigh once more before starts prepping him slowly, earning soft sounds of pleasure from red plump lips. Back arched and fists clenched in white sheet, Harry seem to be on the edge of the high. He looked sinful, yet beautiful. His beautiful, beautiful boy…

 

Louis pauses then, unable to wait any longer. He wanted to own every breath that passed out of his mouth, every moan. He is ready to breach - ready to take on the melting body beneath him. Louis searches for the green eyes... He waits until Harry’s heavy lidded, hazed eyes catch him.

 

But instead of a nod, Harry softly whispers, “More… please”

 

His sweat dampened face and obscurely red plush lips looked like sin and innocence both at the same time. Louis is painfully hard but how could he deny him anything? Adding another finger he continue to use his fingers making Harry moan and hiss - his fists gripping on sheets.

“Want you in…” Harry manages to hiss not long after and it takes everything in Louis to not to hold his wrists and push completely into him. To consume his body with all he’s got in a one go. He doesn’t though. With an assuring nod, Louis places him closer… and presses in slow, slower than his body would have preferred to… but that feeling - the very feeling float him to another level of pleasure hazing his thoughts as he starts moving to the rhythm of the heavy breaths and pleasured moans coming out of the red lips.

 

 

Later as they both lay on their sweat damped, pleasure soaked bodies - still dazed after the high, Louis could almost feel himself dozing off. Harry’s head is buried in crook of his neck…

Louis wasn’t sure if he’s sleeping or just cuddling in as he always does after letting Louis take the lead. Their skins were sweaty and clammy. He should probably get them both cleaned up before falling asleep.

Drawing odd shapes on Harry’s skin with his finger, he kisses the damp, darkened hair. He smells oddly a mixture of sweat and coco, vanilla… probably his shampoo. Harry stirs, hugging onto him tighter. Maybe he didn’t want to move.

Harry gets like this sometimes after sex.

 

They stay like that longer until Harry finally speaks in a mumble.

“Simon knows I tried to sign the band with MSG”

 

It takes a while for Louis to even register that Harry spoke.

 

“Sorry, love. What?”

 

“Simon knows that I almost got us signed with Azoffs.”

 

Louis blinks “How?” he feels suddenly awake.

 

“Don’t know. I - he told me.”

 

What? Louis doesn’t know what to say. Is this why he called Harry in? To gloat about?? But - but Harry seemed so calm afterwards? What had Simon told him? Simon didn’t handle these kind of things well, yes, but he is cunning enough to get things in his way one way or another.

Of all the things that could have happened… would Simon possibly try to hold it against Harry? Simon is not a trustable opponent to have… not in this industry - especially not when he’s now got them all stringed up for next few years.

 

“I let him down… I always let everyone down” tightening his grip, Harry buries his head further. Louis couldn’t understand why he sounds torn and upset.

“You didn’t let anyone down. You were trying to find a way out from something you couldn’t put up with. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Harry turns his head further, pressing his face to Louis’ skin, as if trying to hide away.

 

“If it didn’t work out-” Harry says slowly, heavily, “I was planning to quit the band. Do you still think there’s nothing wrong with that?” His voice is teary and guilt filled.

 

Louis goes silent, not knowing what to say. He continues to drag his index finger drawing circles on his skin. He tries to imagine it, but fails.

“Would you have forgiven me if I had quit the band and gone solo?”

Was Harry really considering that? Not that he couldn’t have. There must have been enough offers for him to even consider it.

Everything happened in past years from their break up to Harry’s countless ordeals with media and management, Louis could perhaps imagine the pressure that might have lead him to even think of such a thing. Was it all Louis’ fault too...? letting him drift apart… letting him stand up for himself by his own when things got worse? Harry was practically a kid back then but somewhere between those years, he  changed, they all knew. He’s become immersed in the industry that capitalized and manipulated the shit out of him, Harry is no longer the star eyed innocent boy when he was seventeen eighteen - none of them were. They all knew how to play now, with media, with public and even with tycoons like Simon.

But they stayed loyal to each other, right? That was their pact.

 

“Would have… if you asked nicely.” he says trying to lighten his thoughts. Trying to bury the sinking feeling that creeps in. “On the other hand, you’re too cute to not to cuddle after I kick on the balls, love”

Harry hisses a sad smile at that, and Louis joins in, burying down the swirling thoughts of agitation he feels inside.

 

………………...

 

 

Weeks pass in unbelievable speed and things get tighter around their schedules.

P roduction meetings, planning and amid everything, they keep busy with deadlines drawing closer. Writing and adding melodies seem to be the most important thing in passing days with their heads focused on getting the album done. Sometimes they work in the studio in pairs or with one of them with other writers.

Even Harry seem to be driving all his possible attention to work and all five of them felt like they were finally pushing towards something that’s worth.

Louis didn’t mention a word of what Harry revealed to him to anyone, nor they talked anything about it afterwards. Louis felt too scared to ask Harry of anything regarding anyway - so he tried to bury it deep inside.

They had only a week to start final recording.

 

…………………………………………….

 

 

“I love you I love you I love, Olivia??”

Niall asks looking up from his sheet of lyrics.  he stares dim at Harry who's faced with Julian… humming in while Julian strums the strings in the guitar at hand. It’s the break time, but Harry seem to just play with it.

“You wrote this…?”

 

“Yup.” Harry pops the P without looking up from the music sheet. He hums tapping with his fingers.

 

Niall reads the lyrics. He does like whimsical touch it has in it. “What’s this about again?”

 

“Olivia??”

 

“Whose Olivia?”

 

“A cat”

 

Niall makes a face. “Summer time and butterflies all belongs to you… this is about a cat?”

 

“Taylor’s cat”

 

"You. Wrote. a song. About Taylor’s cat?"

 

“Yeah”

 

Niall gazes around looking at Louis who is scribbling down something with Liam. Julian whose sat across Harry just shrugs with raised brows.

 

“You are bonkers”

 

Harry leans back, eyes on the paper of music still clutched in his hand - his attention locked to the chords.

“I think we need Trumpets”

 

 

………………………………...

 

 

 

The album was a chart top into hours after it’s release at midnight.

Not that anyone around them doubted any less. It was introduced as the most anticipated album of the year and the hype built around it seem to be insane. Going against the usual promo plans, they have released only a one single this time…’Night Changes’ just a week prior to the album release.

They had done couple of radio interviews and a one prerecorded video interview for the single, in which Harry hid behind the back, only uttering few words. Surely media and public picked up on it - assuming different things under the sun. But all in all, the hype for the album was too much for the press to solely focus on that. And with interviews with people like Grimy, who joked around Harry,  lightened up the mood a little bit more, luckily.

 

But Harry was obnoxious about cameras still, clearly. Though he bit his tongue and did what was expected from him, all of them knew that it is the last thing he wanted.

But Harry being Harry, tried not complaining. He took his meds and faced it all with the best he could.

And Louis couldn’t have felt more proud, more love towards him for the determination and courage. Anyone would have crumbled in front of all the pressure and hurdles Harry had went through to come to this point.

But he also felt worried.

In three days they had the album release party in Orlando. It’s not only live but there would be a hell of a crowd to sing to. Though Harry kept a straight head in rehearsals, Louis knew he is scared shitless.

But he loved singing and somewhere deep inside, Louis knew Harry loved, and lived for performing. He just had to find that part of him and project all his feelings towards it.

 

………………………………

 

 

 

“Sir, Mr. Eric is here to see you?” his replacement assistant’s voice comes through the speaker. She sounds quizzical, more skeptical. Usually his assistant, Nicole knew to let Eric in without questions asked. But the woman had to go travel the world for a month so he’s stuck with a temporary replacement for two weeks.

“Send him in” Simon says, pausing the track he had been reviewing for hours now.

It had been busy week. Good busy week.

The album had broken records in sales, hitting no. 01 in chart after chart. It had been predictable with all the anticipation but success is like a breath of fresh air each time. It never really gets old.

Upcoming weeks are going to be busier for one direction boys with promo schedules. And the tour dates are also getting closer and closer. Everything is going smooth… perhaps smoother than he actually expected, given everything that could possibly go wrong.

And the last thing they needed now is something that could ruin that.

Not that he’s being paranoid … rather the opposite. He had been told by one of his informants that there’s talk going among his circles about Nickels Moth and his gang hanging around some low ranked clubs out in the open. Maybe it was nothing, maybe the lunatic has totally lost it to care that there’s a high possibility of him being gunned down if he tried to mingle in the public with the fucking mess he had made. But Simon doesn’t like taking chances. Even if there is so much of a pinhead size of danger to those five boys, Simon knew he had to get rid of it. This would be the last warning he’s going to give Eric and if he so much as hears the bloody name Nickels Moth again, he’ll make sure to make it the very last time sure.

The door to his office opens and Simon frowns at the door as Eric enters the room with his signature trench coat and black framed glasses. He leans back to the door closing it behind him and looks up at Simon with a smirk on his high cheeked pale face.

Simon almost takes a double take, barely managing to cover his shock as he looks at the man.

Because the person standing in front of him is definitely not Eric Seropises… but none other than his half brother, Nickels Moth himself. Like a ghost from a closet!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 For the Root story (if anyone's interested) / Italics 

Chap. 5 : Part 01  | Chap 6  : Part 02 | Chap 9 : Part 03 | Chap 10 (end): Part 04

 

And here's the part that's mentioned in this chapter. (Link) / Hope that helps

 

 

 

16. Wrong Turns

 

Previous

The door to his office opens and Simon frowns at the door as Eric enters the room with his signature trench coat and black framed glasses. He leans back to the door closing it behind him and looks up at Simon with a smirk on his high cheeked pale face.

Simon almost takes a double take, barely managing to cover his shock as he looks at the man.

Because the person standing in front of him in the same beige trench coat and glasses was definitely not Eric Seropises… but none other than his half-brother, Nickels Moth himself.

 

Leaned back to the white washed door, Nickels Moth’s cold threatening face stares at Simon without a blink for several moments. His smirk almost disappeared, now replaced by somewhat a pure burning hate that Simon did not think any sane person could muster into the face.

 

You could hear a pin drop in the earri silence... but then the sound of the door lock clicks in, assuring no easy escape.

 

Simon could just page his assistant’s table - or set off the alarm just behind the locker… it is a matter of moving few inches. He almost considers that.

 

“I won’t if I were you” Nick says not moving an inch as he keeps staring at Simon under his raised chin. It was as if Nick read his mind - or maybe he just caught Simon’s quick glimpse at the phone. “Who knows if I have a target locked at the back of your head, ready to take the shot if I so much at lift my hand?”

 

“You're bluffing” Simon mumbles.

 

Nick pulls off the door with a corner of his mouth curving up in a mocking grin as he walks towards Simon. “You reckon?”

 

Simon could just stare as he drags the chair and sits in front of him without so much of a hesitation. To this close, he looks even paler, sunken eyes crazier and brash. The fear is absolute - for his own life if nothing else. This man is a killer and a psychopath. And no - Simon couldn't guess if he is bluffing or not for the life of him. Never in his wildest nightmares he had thought of seeing this man in front of him like this. He had never personally met him, nor talked to him. Maybe he had seen him behind Eric years back - he wasn’t sure. Tall, mocking features and manic expression - this was the man who had almost cost them almost everything… no matter he was just a puppet of the grand scale of things… puppet who cut his strings and took over the fucking stage... the psychopath who kidnapped, tortured and nearly killed… How the fuck did he pass the security gates - metal detectors? wait...  

 

“You can’t bring anything here… you don’t have a gun and there’s no fucking gun at me. You can’t kill me here. My one click will get the security and alert the police. You won’t get out without being caught”

 

Leaning on his right arm and running his hand casually on his cheek, Nick laughs - amused.

 

“If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have come here at all. And you are right… Why would I need a gun? - there are far more interesting ways. I’m sure you must have heard.” Leaning on his knees on the chair, he smirks as if he is daring Simon to move or look away… which Simon doesn’t.

 

Nick arches a brow, crosses his leg and sits back again.

“You can believe me or not believe about the target on you… guess you’ll have to take my word or find out. And as for getting out of here - I think you’ll just let me walk out of that doors, the same way you let me walk in.”

 

“I could arrest you. I could alert the people in a second you attempt anything … And it would be all over for you. I might know several people who would like to see you behind bars for the rest of your life.”

 

Nick shakes his head and laughs as if he’s amused again.

 

“For the love of god, relax, Simon. If I had any intention to do you any harm, I wouldn’t have come here, yeah? But I like your guts, you know. Assuming that you can turn the wheel the way you want even when the ship is sinking.”

 

Simon tries his best to keep it calm staring back at the manic face in front of him.

If he pretends to agree with him and let him walk out of this door, he would be able to alert the security before he leaves the building. He’ll be able to hand him to the police and all this mess would go away.

But he needed to play it right.

 

“I’m not fucking to your tune, Nickles, Moth or whoever you are going by these days. I may have some business with your brother but that doesn’t mean I would do the same with a lunatic. I called in Eric today to let him know that I’m done tolerating his pothead brother. And I have nothing else to say to you as well. I tried to give you a way out. And that offer stands for the last of today”

Nick hisses a laugh. “Generous of you. But I’m good.”

Expression thoughtful, he sweeps his hand into his coat pocket, making Simon flinch inside, no matter he logically knew that there is no way this madman would drag a gun out.

 

“What the hell do you want?” Simon spits ready to brace himself for an attack - to see at least a knife if nothing else. But instead, Nick takes out a phone and smiles at Simon wickedly as if he has been waiting for him to ask just that.

 

“Just to settle some unfinished business. You of all the people should know how much of a headache it is when you have something half done. It pricks the back of your neck until you are done with it… you know how it is, Simon. You are a business man.”

 

“I have no fucking idea what you mean” Simon shoots as calmly as he could… “And I have zero interest”

Simon had found every possible thing about this man - he had seen the medical reports, case reports… witness and victim statements from the three boys that faced the wrath of this madman. Hell, Simon had a good idea of his motives, his madness and his dilutional hate. He just knew that the man was going to try and hit at it again - he just knew. But he couldn’t for the life of him figure how. He should have gone with his instinct and cleaned this mess off when he could have, fuck morality.

 

“I want you to arrange a little chit chat with our little whore turned hipster boy, Guess you already know, I have some unfinished business with ‘im.” He smirks with a hiss.

 

Eyes wide, Simon stares… he knew it would come to this - or at least something regarding this. But... “You are fucking crazy” he mumbles.

 

“You think?” Nick smirks. “Just for a little talk. I’ll return him back to you safely. One way or another - up to you to decide because… either way I win”

 

Picking up a glass paper top, Nike stares at it as if admiring the shiny surface. Simon knows that he’s stepping in to whatever the trap the man had built, but...

 

“-the fuck does that supposed to mean?”

 

Looking into the glass cube at hand as if he could see something in there, Nick taps it with his phone… and it takes every bit of willpower and a building anxiousness for Simon to stop himself pushing the button to call the security.

 

“Curious … in’it? Things become curious things when you try to bury them in closets”

 

Simon remains silent as Nick puts down the glass ornament and turns to him.

 

“You see, I happen to have something on him that you rather not the world see.” he says with a wicked twist to his tongue. “Two things actually. Perhaps, one more concerning to your company than the other. And I’m giving you the chance to help me decide what to publish - consider that as my gratitude for your generosity.”

 

“I won’t fucking-”

 

“I suggest you take a look first before you say anything, Simon.” With a bitter smirk in his face, Nick sweeps his phone to Simon over the table. “Have a look… and if you still want to know what the other one is, you can play the next”

Simon just stares, unable to decide what to do or what to expect. Nick sits down across him, taking the same chair, he took before and sneers.

 

Reaching for the phone, Simon hits play almost hesitantly.

 

The video has no sound but the image is clear, even with a bit of grain. It is a CCTV footage … of someone leaned on his back to a wall - Harry, unmistakably … his hair bit shorter - probably nearly a year back. He seems to be staring at someone… someone who walks in and stands in front of him - talking. The camera was positioned in a way so their profiles were visible and without much effort anyone could recognise Louis from the video. With a staggering heart, Simon checks the running date and the time - and it makes his head freeze.

These were footage from Modest security cameras. How? When?

 

Simon looks up at the man whose eyes were fixed on him.

 

“What is this? Where the hell did you get this?” He demands.

 

Nick gives a lopsided smile but doesn’t say a word, his eyes directing at the phone Simon was holding at his hand.

 

Simon spares a glance at the screen again - and what he sees practically makes him sweat.

 

There they were, on the floor, huddled in each other as in a scene from some sort of an epic drama … probably snogging - the effortly kept secret of the boyband of the time.

Head gone cold, Simon tries to think straight. It was not the fact that they were together - hell, public is bound to find out someday. In early days, them coming out as some loved up teenage couple would have sunk the whole band... but now it’s a different story. The boys were on top of the game now. They were even considering easing the concept into public strategically in unofficial meetings, because with turnout of all things this had become an unavoidable convenience. But if this goes public? Without warnings, preps or preconceptions… It would ruin it all. There will be hell of a lot of backlash…

But - but still it won’t be the end of the world … right? They are both young men who could stand up for this.

 

“If you think you can blackmail me with this… I’ll say you are over reaching.” he says calmly - feeling his own raising senses come down to acceptance. The last this he would let this man do is to intimidate him.

 

“I suggest you watch it until the end.” the deprived man says casually - as if he’s still waiting for the excitement to happen.

 

It’s not until a several minutes Simon understands what the man Nick had been waiting for.

 

The video had been cut in the middle to the two boys in the same position, huddled in the corner. But then several people walk in - security as the look of it - Modest bodyguards probably assigned to duty for the boys. The scene unrevealing looked concerning and questionable like this.

The way one of them (probably Louis) kicks out as the black clad security clearly seem to ask them apart - not physically but the distress it causes clear as day. Then Liam out of nowhere hurries in and pries Louis away, leaving Harry with the guards. When it couldn’t have gotten any worse, Harry starts to put up a fight - unlike anything Simon had seen from him. He hauls himself at the guards like a caged animal and the men in better shape and size than him seem to act in instinct, catching him - but it looks as if he was being manhandled, held down by force as he sinks down.

It is ridiculous - start to the end. Of course, Simon hadn’t seen this before but Richard and Stacy from Modest had told him of this whole incident… the day before the kidnap happened. Out of context it looks something that's absolutely wrong. Horrific if nothing less.

 

“Bit concerning don’t you think?” Nick sneers with a fake concern in his eyes. “Imagine the chaos if this finds the way to media. How the boys of one direction is being treated inside the closed doors… by their own management and label - because they were fucking fags”

 

Simon doesn’t even look up at the mad man’s mocking tone. Swiping the screen over with his index, he hits play to the video coming next.

  

…………………….

 

 

  

 

Harry tried not to think.

 

But it is the last thing his head is letting him do. Two more hours… that’s all they had. He had, to get his shit together. Perhaps he should just take the pack he had gotten from Jonny from the crew yesterday and pump it up with bit of hash so he won’t die here. It is the last resort.

 

It is the album opening concert and they were in a hotel near the Universal resort in Orlando… soon to arrive on the stage in front of a screaming and cheering crowd to perform their long-awaited album… flashing cameras and over excited interviewers and fans alike. Leaning his head back, he closes his eyes and tries to remember Dr. Woods’ words. Take it hour by hour. No rushing. It was the rule he had been living by for past couple of weeks. But sitting there, waiting for this whole circus to be over, Harry felt as if he’s choking in his own breath.

 

He was already dressed and Lou had finished his makeup and hair first. Perhaps she assumed that he needed sometime to collect himself… seeing how nervous he was.

Sitting there in the back of the room, fiddling with his phone, he might have looked as if he was trying to chill before the show. As usual, no one’s really approached him. It is a new normal for all of their team … to talk to him through Louis or rest of the boys - or be overly polite with him and careful with him. Perhaps it’s his fault too, making no real effort to talk to anyone, with quite a contrast to how he was before everything.

 

He lets out a sigh and tries to calm himself.

 

After all the rehearsals, jam sessions and practices, Harry knew cannot mess this - he shouldn’t. It is their first show after- after… everything. Yes, they did go for sound checks last night but Harry had stayed down while the other four went up the stage and sang. He just couldn’t last night - in front of that hyper, awaiting crowd. But now he knew he had to, in just about two hours. You love singing. You love singing to people. He tried to think.

And he felt like puking.

 

“Your hair’s lo-ng now.”

 

An amused baby voice says. He opens his eyes without moving, head still rested on the side of the backrest - to see little Lux, Lou Teasdale’s little girl staring at him with wide blue eyes. Stood with a distance, her expression is curious. She had been staring at him without a word when Lou was getting him ready before, perhaps wondering why he didn’t try to play and mess with her as he usually does. After almost a year, she seems to have grown so much.

 

“Yes.” he tries a smile, trying to ignore his stomach turning unpleasantly inside. He can do this. He will do this.

 

“Did you eat a lot of carrots and berries then? Mommy says it makes your hair grow if you eat them.” Lux still looks curious as she asks.

 

“Does she now? What else does she say?”

 

“That mangoes will make me pretty. I love mangoes. She told me you love mangoes as well”

 

“Lux… honey, stop bothering uncle Harry and come sit here. I told you to be in best behaviour.” Lou calls from the other side, and Lux walks away with another glance at Harry - her tiny feet skipping.

 

Harry just watches… left alone while the others get dressed. Maybe he should call Lux and try to play with her as he normally does. He could use a distraction.

But he just couldn’t.

He just sits there, for rest of them to finish up … so he could blend in and hide behind them.

Two more hours… then another hour or two - and finally this is over. Until then he just had to breathe… breathe and get on with it.

Piece of cake.

 

……….

 

 

“Where’s Harry?” Last to arrive at the final prep room, Louis asks.

His hair had been an absolute nightmare today and he just had spent far too much time selecting between a crew neck t-shirt and a Gucci duke shirt totally diving the team insane. Harry was the first to finish, and he thought Harry would be here with others.

 

“Though he’s with you in the dressing room.” Liam says questioningly… concerned as he always is. Niall watches him blank, as Zayn stands up from the couch looking around.

Honestly...

 

“He finished early and…-” without finishing, he speed dials Harry. Not that he’s paranoid but not knowing where he is makes him worried still. Harry acted fine since yesterday when they arrived at US, but Louis knew he’s just hiding it all the moment he asked if it was ok not to sing in the rehearsals last night. Even in the morning he seemed a bit edged… though he said he feels normal as much as he could feel with all the pressure.

 

Rings go unanswered and Louis turns to some crew members, “Has anyone seen Harry?”

 

“Think he went to the smoking area - emm some time back? I thought he came back.”

“Did you see him come back here?”

 

“Emm” the dark-haired woman looked uncertain.

 

With an unimpressed look Louis turns and leaves for the smoking area, two levels up on the open roof. Fucking unbelievable… the boys follow him behind and Sean from the security.

 

“Did you give him anything?” Louis asks Zayn calmer than he feels.

 

Zayn sighs as if to kick his irritation. “No” he says in a dull tone without looking at Louis.

Louis doesn’t feel bad for asking. They remain silent until they reach the top.

 

“Take a breath, Tommo” Zayn says as Louis steps out of the elevator even before the doors properly open.

 

Louis couldn’t care less though, searching for any trace of curly hair and familiar features in the empty space. And he spots him in the corner, leaned on the balcony - all dressed ...his back facing him. He doesn’t call him but as he gets nearer, Louis could spot a cloud of haze in the air. There is a rolled stick in his hand, burning away. He could spot at least two other burnt bugs on the floor.

 

“Harry, what are you doing?” he asks, unable to force his legs any closer. It’s not that Louis hadn’t seen him with a stick ever. He had tried it when he was younger, and hated it. Harry doesn’t smoke - not like Louis, or Zayn or anyone he knows to smoke.

As far as Louis knew, no matter how much he got drunk, Harry never did this … not even in LA. At least Louis hasn’t seen him. Perhaps he did.

But with all of his medication, mood swings and what not - this is the last thing he should be doing.

 

Seconds late, Harry turns, taking the stick to his lips. He takes a long drag with hollowed cheeks and blows out rings of smoke upwards. His eyes slightly dilated, he coughs lightly, finally looking at Louis - then at the whole army behind him.

 

“Didn’t feel good. T’s just a puff, relax. I’m fine now.”

 

“Just a puff? You look fucking high! What-”

 

Taking the rolled stick to his lips again, Harry takes another quick puff before dropping it. “It’s just hash, alright? Don’t have to make a scene. Would you rather see me puking my guts out on the stage?”

 

Crushing the half-burnt stick with the shoe, Harry eyes Louis up and down and smiles lopsidedly. “You’re lookin good. I’ve missed seeing you all dressed up”

 

Louis stares biting his lip. “Who gave you that shit?”

 

Harry sighs and runs his hand over his hair as a habit. He just walks away then, passing Louis - who just stands - and then the rest of the boys and Sean from the security.

 

They all seem to watch him like he murdered someone. But he felt a bit lightheaded to be really angry.

 

“Harry” he hears Zayn as he passes him, but he doesn’t bother to stop.

 

Zayn follows him without a word leading him towards the elevator with a carefully placed hand on his back. Others weren’t sure if it’s because Harry was too high to walk straight or because Zayn’s just concerned.

 

“Come on. We have to go.” Liam calls Louis after the elevator goes down with Zayn and Harry.

Louis just feels as if he wants to kick something - or someone.

 

 

 

 

On the stage around an hour after, Louis doesn’t think he had ever felt so mad while performing before… but he couldn’t show it of course.  He lets Zayn and Niall deal with Harry for the most part - who seemed slightly high throughout if watched bit too closely. But otherwise he just merges with it all, twirling around.

 

To his serious irritation, everything goes well… even the interviews - which Harry stays smiling and dodging most of the questions… more relaxed. Not that he wanted it all to go south… surely not.  But this would just not do - no matter how hypocritical it may sound, he won’t let Harry go in this route to make it all easier.

 

Sure, Louis liked his occasional puffs, but it’s not like he was ever high in a gig...

Louis feels furious for the whole of this fucking risk, Harry’s stupidity and recklessness. He is going to find out who was stupid enough to give him those… even he asked for it. He is going to find out and whoever it is… is going to be very very sorry.

 

 

 

After the show and never-ending set of interviews, they all get into the transport to ride back to their hotel and Harry sits next to Louis. They haven’t really interacted since the balcony and Louis doesn’t know if he should just keep ignoring him or flip at him. But within moments they hit the road Harry sorts it for him.

 

“Sorry” he says almost timidly, head turned right at him - surely completely sober. Louis could feel his eyes on him … and how the hell could he ignore him?

 

Not looking at him, Louis stares at his own hands. “Please don’t do that again.”

His voice comes out sterner than he intends.

 

“Ok…”

Harry sounds almost dull, but he could spot the guilt in his tone. Louis feels him turn away, looking out at the passing vehicles.

“I just didn’t want to ruin it for everyone.” Harry murmurs.

 

Louis doesn’t say anything, but sighs. Moving his hand, he slowly squeezes Harry’s thigh - resting it there.

 

But beneath all, all the irritation, frustration and anger, Louis just feels sad.

Sad partly because of the utter desperation which made Harry to try this. Do this. And in the other hand because he had let him take all this pressure and just watched like the rest of him.

 

In the end, he couldn’t really figure out who exactly he is madder at.

  

……………

 

 

 

Eric Serepisos is the last one Simon expects in his office a little after a meeting with 1D boys.

 

After the Orlando concert few days back, and steadily running promo sessions, they’ve had a short meeting to plan out the performance for X factor next week - deciding on ‘Where do the broken hearts go’ with a possible appearance of Ronnie Wood. Simon hopes for the love of God that they had all taken off.

Surely his new assistant didn’t bother to check with him after last time when Simon sounded irritated when she did - surely thinking it’s the same man in a trench coat. But ironically, this time it is Eric himself who walks in with the usual attire.

 

“I’m sorry to barge in, Simon. And I’m - I’m sorry for what had happened -” Eric says stepping in after some knocks. He carefully closes the door behind him and hurries to the couch where Simon sat - lost in thought after the meeting with the boys.

 

“You have some nerve showing up here” Simon mumbles almost astonished.

 

“I never saw the message you sent. I didn’t know you wanted to meet.” Eric says, he looks panicked - distressed even. “Nicky must have seen and deleted it. I didn’t know what he had done until Samson told me. He maybe my blood but he crossed a line. I know where he hangs about. I can help you track him”

 

“It’s too late for that.” Simon says coolly. There’s nothing this man do for him now. “I need you to leave.”

 

“I can help you stop whatever-”

 

“You don’t even know his whereabouts. Do you?”

 

“I can find-”

 

“What a surprise!!  You have no idea! And even if you did, I doubt that will make a difference.”

 

“I can help you track him! I’ll get him off the street if that’s what you want.”

 

Simon glares at him for a second in silence and shakes his head as if he’s had quite enough.

“You’ve run out of worth, Eric. If you don’t leave within next minute, I will get the security and you’ll be behind bars before you blink twice.”

 

Eric just stares, knowing it had all blown out worse than he thought. He had come here thinking he would be able to make amends - no matter if it meant it would end with a bullet in Nickys head. But looking at Simon - his disapproving and threatening face, Eric knows it’s all over.

 

 

“Leave. And if I were you, I won’t bother about our settlement again.” Simon spells calmly. “Leave before I change my mind”

 

And Eric does, with pressed lips - knowing there is nothing else he could do. But at the door he pauses.

 

“I’m sorry for this, Simon. Just that you know, whatever Nick had told you or threatened you with - don’t trust it. He is never the transparent as he seems to be. He had been obsessed with that boy for years and Nicky would stop at nothing until he destroys him in his own terms. I wish I could have stopped him.”

 

Simon doesn’t move from the couch as Eric leaves. Even after, he doesn’t know how long he stares at the closed mahogany door.

 

Possibly for hours.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

  

 

15th November - 9:10pm / London

 

He couldn't focus... he couldn't think.

Breath practically hitching in his lungs, Niall watches through the crack between the door and frame of the cupboard he's hiding as they drag the familiar lean figure in to the house. He barely manages to not make a sound, clutching his mouth with a one shaking hand. His heart raises in panic.

This is not happening... this is not -

Niall couldn't stop shivering - shuddering, as he watches him. He looks pale... pale as all blood sucked out of him. His black half-unbuttoned shirt askew and messily untucked. His long hair, dishevelled. The man dragging him pushes him carelessly forward and he falls as if limbless, thrown down in front of the black-haired man. How did this happen? How in the hell? When? Why?

Niall could hear the voices, clear and loud, but he couldn't focus enough to understand, stuck in the congested cupboard he is hiding... probably the only empty one in the house.

Louis' and Harry's house.

With clenched muscles and white noise filling his senses, he watches as Harry is hauled up to his knees, facing the very of man his nightmares. Jet black hair, death like features with high cheekbones... the man's face is unmistakable for Niall - though he had only seen him in pictures.

Unmistakable probably for all five of them...  the one face of the psychopath, 'Nickels Moth.'

Niall couldn't even begin to comprehend the terror Harry must be feeling, cornered and surrounded again by these tormenters, who nearly drove him to near insanity. His pale and terrified features shudders as the man, Moth circles around him. He almost struggles in the grips holding him as Moth bores right in to his face, saying something Niall could not manage to grasp.  

The next moment Niall almost flinches, practically stumbling back as Moth backhands him across the face with such a force. The painful sound rings in Niall's ear. He almost pushes the door open, wanting to rage at them. To pull him away from them... he cannot let them hurt him...not again. Not in front of him.

To hell with Alex who asked him to "stay where he is" when Niall messaged him to call for help. It felt like ages ago, when he received the last reply from Alex. It was before they dragged Harry into the house. Niall had no idea.  Alex had assured him that they are on the way... where the hell were they?

 Clutching his phone tight in his hand, Niall wipes off the band of sweat from his face soundlessly as he could. Should Niall jump out? - try to save him... distract them? Yes, all three of them seem to have guns. Would they shoot at him? Would they? Gritting his teeth, he tries to blow his tense out. Should he wait as Alex asked?

But what if it's too late? What if-?

With shaking fingers, he unlocks his phone, as he hears sounds of struggling, sobs and feeble gasps, mocking voices and laughs.

He types fast, as tears dripped down his face while his heart hammers with fear and guilt.

 "Whre th fuk r u. they got H"

 He hits send, almost shivering, though he is drenched with sweat in his tuxedo.

Alex replies right away.

 

"Almost there. Dont move. No matter wat happens." it read.

 

...........................

 

 

 

15th November - 3:45pm/ X Factor Finale show - SSE Arena, Wembley

 

Come on, baby, come and get me out

Come on, baby, 'cause I need you now

 

Where do broken hearts go?

Where do broken hearts go?

Where do broken hearts go?

Where do broken hearts go?

 

The guitar chords rang the stage in high vibe with drums blasting as they belted out vocals. The hype and energy running through their veins as the legendary Ronnie Woods roared his guitar on stage with them between Niall and Harry. It was like they are making history for themselves...

Fireworks shooting through stage like they were in sort of an ultra-beam - a different sort of an existence.  It all reaches higher and higher until the end notes blast the space in the highest note for the evening of X factor finals.

It was red all around, with roaring applause and cheers as the from the audience and judges. Louis could almost see emotion in Simon's face from where he stood, clapping. And for once, he feels it's a sight.

The bows, the thanks, the hugs and waves it all passes in an automated tune until the curtain hides them from the world. And it's all Louis could wait - as he grips on Harry's arm, pulsing with the high. He could almost feel the vibration on his skin as Harry pants through his fresh lips, taking a step back and looking at him. The same way he had been looking at him since the end of the song - as he was stuck in a high that he couldn't come down himself.

Dragging Harry with him, Louis starts his way down the stage, ignoring the wicked look draws in to Zayn's face and the smirk in Niall's as he does.

Without a word or hesitance, Harry follows Louis with the smallest nudge. Louis doesn't know if anybody else are watching them - producers, Ronnie himself, the crew, the contestants... he doesn't know. And he doesn't care. It was Harry's song - Harry's thoughts that they all belted out... Harry who said he can't bear to sing any more - do any of this anymore ... Harry who picked himself from the ground when it all seemed impossible - re-woke his connections and got the Rolling Stones star to step on to the stage with them. Charming and the most amazing amazing soul he ever found in his entire lifetime... his Harry...his own Harry who was able to shrug it all and do this in the end.

And nothing would take this moment away from him - them.

 

Louis pushes open the door to the nearest empty dressing room he could find, letting Harry step in just behind him. He closes the door without bothering to turn the light on - leaving them in dim light coming through the roof.

And with a second of a blink clutches the lean boy from his waist and pushes him to the door, covering him with his heated body - catching the waiting lips with his own. Harry's long perfect arms wraps around Louis, crushing him in to him - as if he wanted nothing but to blow off the steam.

"You did it" Louis says kissing him hungrily, almost greedily - as if he could not for the life of him get enough of him.

And he knows he won't. He ever won't.

And Harry responds the same way, his arms reaching down and under the layers of cloths as if to feel Louis' yearning skin - pinning the bodies to rub into their harnesses.

Louis couldn't help touching him over the skin-tight jeans while he runs his other hand into the long curls, tugging at them as Harry whimpers to his mouth - his body shivering. As in a habit, Harry's body goes plaint under his firm touch - even in the standing form. He lets his his head rest on the crook of Louis' neck; fingers still gripped into his hair with a prompt hold while Louis unzipped the trouser with a one hand... his arms locked around Louis all the while.

 "You really did it"

Louis breathes to his ear as he sweeps his under the thin material of his boxers, wrapping his hand around the around the hardness as a desperate moan leaves Harry's lips, warming his neck. Wined up, Louis presses him harder to the back of the door, earning a light hiss and a gasp from Harry. With red parted lips and dilated darkened eyes, Harry watches him - his head now leaned back to the door. His face almost soft and inviting as same as the tousled curls, shirt unbuttoned almost to the torso and trouser unzipped with Louis' fingers warmly wrapped around his hard cock - he is a sultry sight of innocence under the dim light. Louis wanted nothing but to ravish him. Running his thumb over the head, he starts moving his hand along his shaft as Harry grips him and drags him in for a kiss, sucking him in with moans that makes his head sway. And explorations of pleasure and lust hits them like a wave of heat - throwing them off of their sanities for that single moment... that single hidden moment secured with dim light and walls.

And it is everything.

 

Louis doesn't know how they ended up on the floor or how Harry managed to unzip Louis' pants to get him to shoot into his hand instead of coming messily in his trousers just after his own release. Louis just kisses him earnestly, most ardently - sat on the floor next to the closed door. The high is slowly coming down between them - breathing in each others' space. Harry keeps panting as Louis sighs long and hard with the light feeling in his head, their foreheads still touching.

"I love you" Louis whispers into the hot humid breaths with his eyes closed... as in a habit. As he always does. He runs the back of his clean hand on Harry's naked tattooed chest feeling his dropping heartbeat. He couldn't remember clearly when he managed to unbutton his shirt.

Harry just breathes warmly - and sniffs with a sigh which comes out as a shiver.

"I-  love you... too" a raspy voice mumble... almost hesitant, faint with a choke in the breath.

Louis finds his heart raising for the simple reply - a reply that he had been longing to hear for so long that it almost startles him. He remains still though - for moments before clutching Harry's head and kissing him on the temple.

They stay like that for a long time, probably. Maybe until the end of the show finale. Judges can announce the winners without both of them - Louis is sure.

It is when Louis' phone starts ringing on the floor to his side, that they both realize that they should probably head back.

 

"We should go" Harry says lethargically - almost as if reluctant to let go of him.

"Mmmhmm" Louis hums still with closed eyes. He doesn't want to open them.

"They'll come looking... Niall or Zayn"

"Hmmm"

"... should clean up  - and..." Harry keeps mumbling but doesn't make an effort to let go.

But Louis know they should.

 

After probably half an hour more, he unwraps himself from the gangly body slowly, finally. He looks back at him with a soft sigh.

With messy hair and wine-red lips, Harry looks flushed, and well - thoroughly kissed, if nothing. He, himself was probably no better.

"Come on" he says getting up and helping Harry to his feet.

 Louis switches on the lights - to see that it is probably one of the contestant's dressing rooms. Whoever's it is, Louis doubts they would notice anything different after he adjusts the slightly skewed coat rack they might have bumped in unknowingly.

 They quickly get cleaned up in the bathroom - adjusting their clothes as much as possible.

 "Lou's going to complain" Louis says dragging his collar up to cover quite a visible hickey on the left side of his neck as Harry went on an impossible task of fixing his own hair. "Don't worry too much. We'll be heading out soon to the hotel." he adds giving up trying to fix his own hair.

 They had album celebration party at night. So they won't be spending much time here anyway. Though all Louis wanted was to just get back home alone with Harry, he knew they needed to be there. Whole of London is coming apparently. Their management had decided to make it this high profile celebrity party to hype up PR and celebrate their come back after the so called break. It is to scorn at the competitors as Louis felt than anything else. So they are headed to the hotel to get all prim and proper. At Least he would get to have his all dressed boyfriend all to himself in the end of the night... Well perhaps he'll get him sooner if Harry's up to it - he thinks with a smile and glance at Harry who still fusses over his hair.

 

They sneak into somewhat busy corridors without much of an incident, merging with the members of the crew and siblings of the contestants and guest acts and everyone under the roof. The show has ended as the look of it, and they probably need to find rest of the boys or their crew. As Louis drags his phone to answer a call from Alex, tagging behind Harry to their section of dressing rooms, he hears someone calling their names from the back. He turns nudging Harry to stop hoping to see someone in their crew. But instead, after a few passing people and several bodyguards he sees Simon with Rita, Cheryl and Louis Walsh - the clan of X factor judges... probably heading back after the show.

"You'll killed it, loves" Rita is the first to jump for a hug Louis who decides to leave his phone to vibrate.  Rita moves quickly to Harry, crushing him with her slender arms.  Harry and Rita had been close friends for ages. "You are bloody fooking brilliant, do you know that? You all are"she says squeezing him.

 "Thanks" Harry mumbles and smiles all dimples, wrapping his arm around her.

 "Truly, it was great." Walsh adds, shaking Louis' hand. He had always been a tough critique for one direction - Louis Walsh. But at this moment, they all could see the awe in his eyes for a change.

"We'll be seeing you'll in the noon, yeah?" Cheryl asks as Simon smiles as Louis looks at his silent form.

 "Yeah, yeah. All ready to blow it off"

 "Fuck me!... I'm running late for my dresser" Rita squeals patting Harry on the back. "Laters, love. I need to look better than you tonight, pretty face. Got to get my hair done. Cher, you coming?"

 Rita extends her hand to Cheryl who takes it with giggles and they both takes off with waves. Walsh leaves too with a slight pat to Harry's arm - leaving Simon.

 Simon smiles with pursed lips watching two of them - and Louis remembers the look of something like pride in the man's face in the end of their performance.

 "You'll really did good." Simon says genuinely. His eyes darts to Harry who nods looking down. "I'm proud of you, Harry - for real and I think I should thank you... both of you for this. You'll really did good - more than good, actually."

"Thanks" Louis blurts out. For some reason, it feels strange to feel happy for a gesture from Simon. Pleasantly strange. "It's on Harry" he says giving a small tap to his back with a sense of his lungs filling.

Simon smiles with a nod as if to say something but his phone starts ringing in his hand - which he stares at without answering. And at the same moment Alex manages to appear behind them.

"There you are. I've been calling both of you. Where the h.. - Oh , didn't see you there, Simon." Alex pauses seeing Simon.

 "Agent Waters" Simon nods civilly. "Everything alright?"

It was funny that they all keep calling him that now since Alex is full time working with them. But Alex doesn't seem to mind.

 "Yeah, yeah. Just on schedule. I got the brief on the security. Sorry if I interrupted." Alex says looking at Louis and Harry.

 "No - no. I'm heading back as well. You two go on. We'll catch up tonight" Simon says, staring at his phone that starts ringing for the second time. "I will see you later" he adds as if distracted, but not answering yet.

Taking leave, they follow Alex - letting Simon to his call. Louis raises his brow as if asking Harry what that was all about with Simon. Harry just shrugs.

 

"Change of plans -" Alex says after few steps, looking back at them as if to see if they are following him. "Harry's heading to Corinthia with me and you are heading to the Savoy with Niall."

Harry just shrugs again, as Louis stares at Alex.

Well, that's going to fuck is plans.

"I thought we are in the same hotel" Louis says not hiding his irritation.

"That was the plan. But there's a pap leak. Lou will help Harry out. His stuff is already there. Niall is waiting for you in the dressing room. Liam and Zayn are in two places too. Only you and Niall are in one. We'll meet at 7 possibly at Soho house... only four hours to go." he says keeps walking, and checking his watch.

"Where the hell were you two anyway? Everyone's been looking for ages if not - oh.. oh no," Alex adds as soon as he catches Harry's sheepish smile and tousled features. "-  Ok, I actually don't need to know"

He shakes his head rolling his eyes.

"I don't mind telling you" Harry says smugly.

"Save it, Styles. I don't need to know" Alex says dryly coming to a halt near their exit. It is almost empty... everyone's probably taking the front exit, unlike them - only the artists were allowed this route.

Alex turns to Louis. "This is us then"

"Could I have a quick work with Haz alone?" Louis asks suddenly thoughtful. Harry looks at him with usual cow eyes.

"By all means" Alex says walking slightly ahead to wait for Harry.

Harry looks curious - almost as if Louis was just about to ask him to elope with him right here, right now. Maybe Louis should - they should run away from all this... to some remote tropical island and never look back. They could stay in the beaches all day and treat them to all the different flavours - sleep in hammocks in the breeze and go hiking in thick forests. They'll have everything they need...

"Do you want to go out for dinner?"

His green eyes slightly widen, staring at him. "Tonight?" Harry asks

"Yeah" Louis says simply. "Just two of us. Umm... it's a date"

Louis watches as Harry bites his lip in thought, eyes still searching his face. Sure, they have eaten out together in LA. But that was different. It was a different time. They were barely even looking at each other let alone speaking then. It felt like ages ago... They have come a long way since...

And they haven't gone out in a proper date in - years...

 "Where?"

 Louis shrugs. "It's a surprise" he tells. He knows Harry has such a weakness for these things. He's such an old fashioned romantic sometimes.

 "What about the party?"

"We'll make an appearance and leave soon... or we can drop in later after. I'll let you know."

Harry licks his lips without saying anything... and Louis hesitates. "Do you umm...  want to?" he asks slowly... for some reason it feels like Harry's unsure - and it makes Louis nervous. It's silly, actually because they live together, for fucks sake. But it seems they are passing a boundary and Louis doesn't want to push.

Harry turns, taking a glance at Alex who was standing in by the door.

"What about Alex? He won't let us leave alone by ourselves... he won't let me."

 "I can talk to him... or figure something... just umm," he fiddles with his phone in his hand feeling stupid. "- it's no big deal if you don't want to. I was just ask-"

"Ok" Harry says suddenly.

Louis looks at him for a second in silence. "It's fine if - "

"I said yes" Harry says, blinking. Louis could see his dimple lining up ever so lightly

"You sure?"

"I - umm I'd love to"

Louis breathes. "Ok, then" he smiles as Harry keeps his eyes fixed on him - his green big eyes. "I'll call you... or text you since we are in... umm two places" he babbles stepping back from the tall lean form.

He waves Alex's way as he turns to leave, noticing Harry hasn't moved. Louis feels his eyes following him as he takes the turn to the passage heading to meet Niall with a sudden giddiness.

 

..........................

 

 

 

15th November - 4:32pm/ Outside SSE Arena, Wembley

 

 Simon hits answer the fifth time his phone rings - after he's in the privacy of his car.

 "About time, Simon. I was about to assume that you might be having second thoughts" Nickels Moth's sly tone sounds from the phone.

 "I was busy."

Moth hisses a on his breath. "Just checking if everything's in place. You know the drill. I don't want surprises"

Simon sighs to the silence... fouled by the man's ruddy voice. Who does this man think he is?

 "He's on the way to his hotel. Will be there within a half an hour or so - with security. They'll let you in when I give them the signal" Simon says toneless.

 "Perfect. Which hotel?" he sounds casual as if asking what day it is.

 Simon purses lips, tightening his grip around the phone. "I need the tapes. I need assurance from my team they are originals."

 "You'll get them ... as soon as you tell me his location. And give me access." he sing songs, making Simon want to strangle him.

"I need them by my office, now. I need my team to confirm they are originals."

 "I'm a man of my word, aren't I, Simon? You tell me where he's at, and lower the battalion of guards around... and you'll get them." he tells him. "The boy for your legacy, that's the deal."

Simon hesitates few seconds "How would I know if you won't release a copied version?"

 "The second video of him is much interesting alone, don't you think? I got what I want from you, Simon. My deal is with him. Tell me where he is and I'll leave you to your business."

 Simon closes his eyes - daunted by what he's just about to do. The image of Harry staring back at him just few minutes ago flashes in his mind. Unaware, charming and innocent as he always seem to be. But he had once tried to turned his back on him - tried to flip on him. Every man for himself, Right? No one is perfect... let alone himself.

" ...Corinthia, D block" he blurts with a sigh - instead of himself. "Security will lower once I have tapes in my hands - and no guns"

Simon knew that's what Moth needed him for - to get the security to stand down. He could have found out Harry's where abouts in another way otherwise - that's for sure.

 "I think we agreed on that"

 "I need a guarantee for his life."

 Nick sniggers. "Scared for the golden boy, are we? His price hasn't dropped even with all the scratches, I see. "

Simon bites his inner lip, not wanting to play this game.

"Half an hour in the suite... and you better be gone." he says cutting off the line.

Fucking bastard!

 

He taps on the phone and stares out at the car window, mindlessly watching the passing vehicles.

He knew he is playing a dangerous game, but what choice did he have between the boy's life and his own life's work? If that video of Harry, Louis and the security got out, hell will break loose. His enemies and competitors alike would turn it into proof of harassment and violation of business-laws suit. He would be defamed as same as his label and Modest. Even if the 1D boys decides stand with him, the public opinion would drown him. Out of everything that happens in this industry, he'll be framed for something this absurd. And he can't let that happen...

Scrolling down to his resent call logs in the phone he hits one of the numbers, tapping away his fingers.

"Simon" a scratchy deep voice answers.

"He's on the way."

"We are already here."

Simon sighs. "I don't want anything going beyond the suite. Keep it in. But don't do anything unless it goes out of hand" he says, "let it play out"

 "If the boy panics?"

 "Nothing... unless it's life threatening"

 "Alright. What about Waters?"

 "I've sent a memo, he'll know you as an additional team for today. I've handled it. If he tries to play hero, it's up to them to deal"

 "Ok"

 "I need another favour. Who did you put on Tomlinson with?"

 "Andy and Bradshaw"

 "I need them to change the booking. Both him and Horan. Off the records. Put them elsewhere."

 There's a slight pause "...Ok" the man sounds unsure but doesn't question him.

 "And Andrew..." Simon says in a low voice, "If anything goes wrong... shoot him on head"

 "Sure" there was no hesitation this time.

Simon hangs up, putting down the phone finally.

He had called a second backup team, a private contractor he had known for ages. Moth had demanded half an hour with Harry, alone... undisturbed - in exchange for the video footage he had nicked from Modest.

There is no way he could let that footage leak out to public. There is no way.

Moth had assured that he just wanted to chat - but trusting him would be the last thing to do. With Eric's pressing words on his brother's play and knowing what happened last time, there is an inkling of paranoia in the air which Simon couldn't begin to detach from his thoughts.

Maybe it's just his own reflexes for this kind of a clusterfuck.

When he gets that video tape out of the picture, he would have clear space to get rid of this bastard once and for all... but until then, he had done everything he possibly could.

 

.....................................

 

 

 

15th November - 6:43 pm/ Sanderson Hotel, London

 

Louis

 

"No. No.. no... fuck!"

Niall hears Louis' swearing even before he sees him. All dressed up and ready to go, he walks into the room to the sight of Louis digging into one of his bags in frustration. Two other bags lay beside him, all the stuff emptied out to the floor - the bed and the couch. Shirts, aftershave, packs of cigarettes, ties shoes and whole lot of other things everywhere.

"Tommo, you alright?"

"Yeah... Fuck!" hitting at the mess of a bag with annoyance, Louis gets up brushing his temple. Dressed in a dark blue Armani and shiny black shoes, he looks sharp, unless the hair - which is practically a blown-up mess. With furrowed brows, irritation is clear in his face.

"What's up?" Niall asks.

Louis scratches his head. "I umm... I got something for Harry. We are going to go out. I can't fucking find it in my bags. I think I might have left it on the bedside at home. Fuck!! And can't fucking find my bloody phone either."

Did he lose it in the dressing room? Louis can't remember if he picked it up from the floor after hearing it ring beside him. Or did he leave it in the waiting room when he and Niall were there for almost twenty minutes. He'll have to get someone to go and check right away. Fuck the security for changing plans in the last minute. It fucks him up every time.

 "You want me to call and see?" Niall asks while taking his phone out. It might be lying somewhere here."

"No... I called it with my work one. It's not here... It's ok. I told Harry that I'll call if I'm going to pick him early. He's going to come to Soho anyway. We'll go after a bit. I need to get the ring sorted first." Louis bites his lip with his hands on hips as if trying to remember what he did since morning.

 "Ring?" Niall asks carefully running his index on his phone. "As in...?"

Louis looks up at him calculatingly for a beat... as if he didn't get his tone. His eyes widens.

"No. Gosh. No, Nile, he'll flip me if I ask 'im to marry me at this point. And what d' you think I'm thirty-five? Jesus, Irish."

Niall shrugs. "Just askin. No need to bite. I'm clueless what the hell's on when it comes to you two. You two are just likely to snog your faces off one moment as same as to punch each other's noses in the next. If I weren't around you two, I would have thought you two are already married anyway"

"Shut it. He just loves them rings and I got him a one, alright?" Louis easily brushes it off.

He is not going to propose - not today surely. But it was not like the thought had crossed his mind - cheesy as it appears to be - or more serious than he would like to admit. He doesn't know what he's thinking. Louis wants to talk about stuff today with Harry anyway. Thinking ahead. Well, Niall doesn't need to know that particularly.

"I'm pretty sure I've left it at home by the fucking bed. Fuck. I'll have to convince Michael to drive me back. I still have to get my hair done... I'm bloody going to get late. "

Of all the things, he messes up and forgets, he had to forget this today. Fuck. He looks around totally vexed.

 

"Do you want me to go and get it? Like, I'm done and ready - and I'm about to go pick up Daisy anyway. It's just few more minutes ahead."

Daisy is Niall's golf coach's daughter. And they've all seen them grow closer past few weeks. She even came to some of the last studio rehearsals in London with Niall. Any other time, Louis wouldn't pass the opportunity to tease Niall for going by person to pick her up like a prom date rather than sending the car ( maybe he would - later) but at the moment Louis looks at him with a light.

 "Could you?"

Niall shrugs. "Yeah, No problem. I just came to tell you I'll be taking off in 10."

 "You'd be saving my life, Irish"

 "I'll let Hazza know he should be grateful"

 "No you won't, you imp. But thanks, lad."

 "Sort your hair. See yah soon, moron."

 "Love you too Nialler. Call me on my work phone if it's not on the bedside. I'm pretty sure it's there."

 "On it bro"

 "And don't even think of so much as breathing anything to Harry or DD would get to know of your Barbara phase."

 "Fuck off!"

 

"Tell DD I love her already"

 

.......................

 

 

 

15th November - 6:38pm/ Corinthia, London

 

Harry

 

"Done!" fixing the last bit of hair of the curly locks, Lou says, looking at him in the mirror.

 "Took enough time" Alex sighs not making a move to get up as Harry makes a funny noise. Seriously, Alex couldn't understand how the guy endures the session with all the spraying hair product under the world each and every time.

 "I'll get you to grow your hair from your boring side cuts, Waters. You wait and see. Gem would die of charm" Lou says collecting her stuff up already as Alex rolls his eyes. "But I'll let it go for today, cz you two... are running late."

 She had a point. They are almost late, Harry knows as he gazes at his phone in front of him on the table. It's his own fault actually because he had changed in to almost all the choices he had brought up today- from three Gucci suites to several Lanvin and Burberry - one after the other, finally settling on top to toe black in Saint Laurent with a red printed scarf. Shirt unbuttoned as usual but tucked into his jeans, it looks normal him - nothing less, nothing too much.

Usually he just selects a one thing and sticks with it... but today, the Gucci shirt he had initially thought he'd wear felt absolutely not right. What if it was too much for their date? Or too less? Too formal and too recognisable - he was a mess.

 "You look dashing, love" Lou says as she pats him on the shoulder, ready to leave. She really saved him today, genuinely trying not to look smug when he reluctantly told her about the date in the end. "It's casual but not really, you know. I'd love to check this look in to red carpet with a jacket. You'll be on best dressed list - as always."

 He just smiles. "Thanks"

 

 Lou leaves soon after. And as Harry starts donning his rings one at a time, his phone vibrates for a new message on the table. He doesn't move to check, seeing Alex's eyes on him. It's probably Louis... and he couldn't risk Alex asking him about stuff before he knew what to say. Sometimes Harry could swear that Alex is telepathic - knowing his thoughts and turns before anything else. Has he managed to transfer that from Gems to himself with all the snogging they do when they think Harry's not watching? He couldn't tell.

 "You do look better" Alex says, as if he could guess something's up from the way Harry was muttering with Lou an hour ago.

 "Thanks. You don't look bad yourself."

 "Well, I'm flattered. Compliments from Harry Styles himself." he smiles looking at him more seriously. "Gems called."

Harry looks up turning the last of his rings to adjust it around his finger. "Yeah?"

Harry's phone vibrates again - but he makes no attempt to pick it up.

"I think it's time you let Anne come and visit, Harry"

Looking at his hands, he starts twiddling them - not saying anything.

"I know it might be hard. Louis's also been wanting to talk to you about it, but I guess him and Gemma are both a bit scared to pressure you."

"And you are not?" Harry asks looking up with a raised brow.

 Alex shakes his head with a hum. "Brat" he says getting up as Harry smirks. "I'm going to check the car. Andrew already called to say it's ready. Wait here will you?  I'll send someone up to get you."

Harry just nods, still smirking as Alex taps him on head as he goes.

 

Looking back to check if he's alone as the door shuts after Alex, Harry picks up the phone - opening the messages... from Louis, obviously as he thought.

"I sent a car to pick you up... we can go together." Reads the first message.

 "You might have to snuck out from Waters. Car's at lot 6-B in the indoor park C. See you soon" The second.

 

Harry just takes a breath looking at the screen.

And then, without much delay, he gets up, carefully slipping the phone to his pocket. He'll text Alex in a bit when he's in the car so he won't totally panic. It's ridiculous, but it feels like a time when they were younger when everything they did had to be a bit of a hide and seek... for once, it almost feels thrilling - exciting.

He exits the room from the side door, peeking out first to see if anyone saw him. He almost smiles to himself smugly as he manages to skip two men from the security and reach the elevator easily. But all in all, with the excitement, he misses the fact that the message he just read was spelled all too lengthy to be from Louis, who is always too lazy to type complete words in messages.

 

............................

 

 

 

15th November - 7:36pm/ Harry & Louis' house, London

 

Niall

 

"Hey Mick" Niall smiles as the security guard opens the gate to let him in. "Dropping in to pick something for Tommo. I asked Tim to wait in the car. I won't be long."

 "Yeah, no worries. Wasn't expecting anyone until night."

 "You alone here?"

 Micky shrugs. "Tim's coming late. Everyone's as Soho."

 "I guess. I'll have to get back soon too." he says hurrying through the pathway to the renovated old house.

Letting himself in, he closes the one-way mirror door after him and looks towards the gate to see Micky walking towards the car - maybe for a chat with Tim.

He had twenty minutes to find Louis' so-called ring - Daisy had texted him saying she'll be ready by thirty.

Harry had actually looked far better today.

Well, he had been doing good lately... and all of them were more than glad. It is such a relief for all of them honestly - to see two of them like this... anyone who knew their story, would be relieved, surely. Though it would be quite unbearable to not roll eyes when they are going to get all lost in their world with no sense of personal spaces and such in front of them, all three of them had been keeping their fingers crossed until these two just get back to it all - because they bloody deserve it all.  

And it was typical of Louis to mess stuff like this, funnily... like he always did - making them all sort it out for him most of the time. Years back, when they were together, they all used to joke that Louis giving Haz a surprise meant extra labour for all of them who are around. Niall could recall this one time which Louis managed to send El to get extra stacks of candles he forgot to pick up from the candle shop on Harry's eighteenth birthday.

Niall snorts to himself with the memory - Louis could be a total git when he's trying to impress Harry.

Anyway, he's going to owe him for this... Niall thinks with a smile as he hurries up to the stairs.

 

.........................

 

 

15th November - 7: 42 pm / London

 

Harry

 

Harry doesn't exactly look out when the car exits the hotel premises.

Louis was not in the car as he had expected. He almost wanted to call him, ask him where he is - but if Louis wanted to surprise him, ... well, he'll let Louis has his way.

He doesn't try to talk to the driver, who seem to mind his own business after a polite greeting. His earlier self would have made his way to talk with the middle-aged man, but if anything, Harry didn't know how to do that anymore.

Perhaps only thing he knew how to do from his previous self is to work. Work and just never look back.

Past few weeks, they all had worked their asses off. And other than Harry being a nervous wreck in the beginning of the album release, everything had been going well so far. He everyone around him to thank for that... the boys, Alex, Gems, Lou and everyone else. Considering the amount of shit they had to put up with him and for him, he knew it hadn't been easy for them. But they had been so patient with him, had empathized him.

And then there is Louis...

Louis, who had sticked with him - was good enough to endure him when anyone else couldn't.

Through and through, Louis had been there - like his constant, like some silverline amid the black cloud he had been wrapped in with. He had unwrapped him shade by shade, until Harry, himself could finally see - hear his own thoughts, own heart. At times Harry couldn't shake away the fact that Louis is doing all of it out of guilt - taking his words of blame and hurt. But everything happened in the past, belonged in the past - as Dr.Woods would say. Each of them had the choice of making everything revolve around it or just move forward - taking things as they come as new.

 Harry loved Louis. He had always loved him, even when he tried not to. Like a desperate habit he could not really come to be in terms with... he knew now.

He loved him... how could he not?

And now Louis is like the chain which hold everything together for him. He couldn't possibly breathe easy without him. Harry felt scared of that very feeling in a way. To have his life hanging on this one person. He felt petrified what Louis would feel if he knew - no matter how much he wanted Harry. Probably he already felt it with Harry, in bed... in studio or wherever they seem to be  - with the way he seem to seek out for him like a moth searching a flame. In bed Harry felt comfortable enough to show that to Louis, to show how depended he had become with him. But it is a different story in real life. Different story under the limelight. Their re-kindle seem to be a known secret among their friends, but he felt less vulnerable about it all because it was still a secret - probably even between them. Because other than Louis' random confessions of his fond for Harry, they have not really talked about anything ahead of them. He had always been reluctant to take a step forward other than sharing a bed. 

But now, Louis seem eager to change it.

He raises his hand up to the side of his neck, brushing the slightly sour bruise hidden under layers of foundation and his hair. Harry could practically feel Louis' grip on his hair and teeth on his skin, burning him - grounding him. He belonged with him.

They belonged together.

 

Harry sighs as his line of thoughts gets interrupted by the car slowing down. But looking out of the window he blinks curiously, noticing they were just middle of nowhere. Is Louis getting in from here? The car comes to a stop behind a blue SUV which Harry doesn't recognize at all. For the first time he feels strange that the driver didn't try to talk with him throughout the ride. 

"Are we there ye-?" he starts asking the driver as the driver moves to open the door.

And at the same time both back doors to his sides goes swinging open - with two men piling in from either side out of nowhere.  

Harry doesn't have time to realize anything - because his heart just starts raising with panic and fear just like that. Just like in one of his nightmares where by all of a sudden, he knows everything's going to go wrong with an impulse. He doesn't even get to breathe before the car is crowded.

Stuck in the middle, he automatically struggles as his arms are grabbed in tight holds to his sides- then his neck, pressing his head back to the seat as he struggles out of panic. His vision becomes something of a jerky mess as same as his thoughts - until a face of a bald man comes to focus just inches afar.

The man stares at him, his flaky eyes and twitching mouth lining to a wicked and irking pleased expression. "Remember me, little bitch?"

 

And with a red staggering heart, Harry does... Harry does remember Victor from his most excruciating and searing memories of hell.

 

..........................

 

 

15th November - 7:25pm/ Corinthia, London

 

Alex

 

"Harry?" Alex calls before knocking at the bathroom door.

"Harry, You there?"

He knocks again. The car was waiting down and they need to leave. He had been caught up with Andrew, who had needed some plan changes for travelling in the very last minute and it had taken almost half an hour for him to come back up. They had changed Louis' and Niall's set up again due to some incident in front of the hotel. He had texted Harry to be ready to go as soon as he comes up but to only to see an empty room as he opened the door.

He knocks again. And then again. They were already late.

 

"I'm coming in.." he calls in the end, opening the door and stepping in, because something didn't feel right. But only thing he could stare at was the white walls of the empty bathroom.

 

....................

 

 

 

15th November - 7:47pm / Soho, London Club

 

Louis

 

"two gin and tonics, please"

 

Leaning forward the counter, Louis mildly shouts thinking the bartender won't hear him with the sound. The man gives him a thumb up, hurrying across the bottles.

 

The party was going high - the music, the sound of glasses and chattering. The DJ was blasting some 80's track Louis knew he surely should know. There were familiar faces all around. Fifteen minutes since he had arrived here, he had already chatted with James, Ben, Simon, Nicole, Roman, Grimy and even Rita. It was full of industry friends, pretend friends, business partners, management, colleagues and what not. But not the one actual person he wanted to see. Sure, there is a one hour more for the reservation he made, but he just needed to see Harry - to make sure he is still up to this.

What if he's doubting this already and got all cold footed?

 

"Can't see him - or Waters." Oli says, resting his back to the counter and running eyes towards the crowd. Louis is glad he asked Oli to come... otherwise he would have had no excuse to sneak out to the bar and internally hammer him with anxiety in peace.

 "Don't think they are here yet. Neither's Liam and Zee."

 "Fucking give him a call, will ya?" Oli blurts, sweeping his hands into his trouser pockets. Some takes Oli's impatience to rudeness. But that's how he always had been. 

Louis doesn't argue. He just starts tapping the counter top, not looking at the red head. He didn't want to pressure Harry into this if he is not ready. Calling or texting to ask him could make him feel Louis' impatient, right? Especially when he even didn't have his own bloody phone. No, he'll wait until Harry gets here.

 

"Here you go, lads" the bartender calls, pushing them the drinks.

Louis doesn't move from his spot, but starts sipping on the icy tonic as he is. He seriously needed a smoke, but he doesn't want to step out with Oli when Harry could come any moment now. He takes out his pack of cigarettes, keeping them on the counter next to him and starts typing a message to Niall. Surely, it's enough time for him to get to their place.

 

"Congratulations on the album... And the single."

Someone says standing next to him in the counter. He turns his head amid typing the message, and immediately regrets doing so, because it is none other than Douglas Booth... For a moment he doesn't know if to just simply turn back and ignore him or say something flipping. He isn't really sure if it matters to him even.

But before he decides, Oli seem to take it into his hands.

"Valiant of you to notice. We'll let the curly know."

"Shut up, Oli" Louis says dryly, turning back to his drink. He shakes it around without actually drinking it. "...Thanks" he murmurs after several moments of silence.

He just doesn't want to look at Douglas' face though, to get the flashes of past and be reminded of the betrayal and steering hate he used to feel around the dude...  for the sake of everything he and Harry had years before. Perhaps he could think that if Douglas didn't happen with Harry all those years back, any of the following disasters might have not happened. Their break up, Harry's contract, Danny, Moth... But Louis knew it would be as same as wishing that he, himself didn't give eighteen-year-old Harry such a hard time about it all... so he was not forced to quit on Louis. None of it would have happened as well then, right? It is pointless now, really, to even think of any of it.

The point is though - looking back, Louis could see everything lining up to this point of him and Harry while Douglas had no clue of the series of events that had befallen due to his and Harry's miss up all those years back.  

"One scotch and a one sangria" The bar man appears to much of Louis' relief. He wishes if Douglas would just pick them up and get lost. Only he doesn't, lingering as if he wanted to say something. As if there was some epilogue he needs to add in.

"I'm glad... I'm glad about you two" he says, and it makes Louis' eyes shoot at him. Douglas looks almost expectant, and relieved.

 Of course, Nick, Alexa and Douglas are still friends. And well, gossip travels too fast around the industry. And Louis won't be surprised even if there were already rumours about him and Harry getting back. He just stares at Douglas blankly, and dryly.

"Well..." Douglas thins his lips with a nod to the awkwardness and Louis' blatant gaze. He leaves then, perhaps gipping on the glasses slightly more than necessary as Louis just follows him with his eyes.

"Asshole" Oli mutters and Louis just turns back to his original position without so much as a shrug.

If he is in anyway affected, it was the last thing Louis wanted Oli or anyone around them to see. He really doubts anyone outside their circle could even remember what their animosity is about. Leaning over the counter again, Louis gets back to typing the message and finally sends it to Niall,  saying it's a black box that he has to look for- and to check inside for a ruby ring of silver.

"Found it' Niall sends him back with a click of the ring box...  followed by some weird dirty emojis which Louis had no idea even existed.

And Louis just sends a "Thanx lad" with a middle finger to the dirty Irish boy smiling to himself.

 

................

 

 

 

15th November - 8:13pm/ London

 

"This is the house?"

Nickels Moth asks looking outside the tinted window of the black van as they pull out in front of the old house with English and French mixed architecture.

"That's what the address says - and GPS" one of the other four men answers.

"Where are they now?" Nike asks eyeing the black Benz parked some feet ahead, just in front of the gate to the house. A man standing near the passenger seat -possibly talking to whoever is in there - spares the black van a suspicious look.

"Probably ten to fifteen minutes away... last I checked with Victor. Is that going to be trouble?"

The man next to Nick asks following the gaze to the Benz and the man staring at their vehicle.

 "Security, the look of it." Nick says sparing another look at the house. "There'll be two in the car. Driver and passenger. Don't think anyone's at the back." he takes his gun out of his leather jacket and starts attaching a silencer to it.  "I'll take the one standing."

Gun hidden in the jacket, he gets down to the road. Though they were barely thirty minutes away from London, it almost felt like bloody countryside.

The other two get down from the back, following him just after. The man standing by the car turns to them mid conversation with more attention now... looking at Nick and the other two carefully as the one in the passenger seat peeps out to see.

 Nick gives both of them a smile -

 "Hey, man, we were driving by to our mates pub. We must have lost the way. Pretty quiet around here." he says, walking towards them.

 "Don't think there's a pub around. What's the address?" the buff man asks without a smile. He eyes the other two, both following Nick at the toe calculatingly.

 Nick reaches his coat pocket - pretending to search for a piece of paper with an address written.  But then in a blink, he drags his gun out - shooting the unexpecting man on the head. There were several other muffled gunshots aimed at the car through the opened window from the other two men... and then it all falls silent again.

There is nothing or no one to witness, other than a line of trees in either side of the road and the breeze of subtle wind.

"Clean it up" Nick orders, to the two men looking at him as if it was not obvious. He eyes the man on the ground, fallen his face down. How foolish of them to just sit a one guard here with no other backup. But then, the army of bodyguards must be having a drink at the party, aren't they? Idiots...

Shooting the camera mounted at the entrance, he steps past the black, rot iron gate ... staring at the house - the bloody love shack.

And he's going to turn it to a little hell-shack.  He thinks with a wicked smirk to himself.

 

....................

 

 

 

15th November - 8:23pm/ Harry & Louis' house, London

 

Niall

 

Unable to suppress his smirk as he hops down the stairs, Niall carefully slips the rich matte ring box into his coat pocket after looking at Louis' reply. For a guy who had zero interest in accessory, Niall had no idea how Louis had managed to pick that for Harry. It's gorgeous... something Harry would surely fall for. Probably Lottie had helped.

Checking the time on his phone, he notices he's got ten more minutes left to pick Daisy. So he hurries to the door through the long foyer, not wanting to get late. But his phase slows looking at the door;

Because through the one-way mirror, he notices several people just outside. Several people - if he is not mistaken - with guns in their hands. Strangers, with their faces half covered. Is the house being broken in? A burglary? Where's -  where's security?  

Taking a step back with panic, Niall looks at the alarm system ... to see that it's light was off. Had it been disabled?  Or does Louis and Harry ever bother to switch that thing on?

Panic rising above his head, Niall steps back again as he hears a click from the door.

They are going to get in, any moment.

Heart raising in an alarming rate, Niall does the only thing he could think of - he drags himself back to the living room, attached kitchen - and hides.

 

.....................

 

 

 

15th November - 8:38 pm/ Soho Club, London

 

Louis

 

It's Louis' third soda. Any other day he would have just given up and gone for another Gin and tonic. But he's going to not do that today. He's going to wait until Harry comes - no matter if to tell him that them trying it like this is all too soon for him.

For some reason, he feels like he'd been stood up on a date. Well, technically he is right? But them any of the other lads were not here yet either. Maybe he's just reading too much into this. He spares a glance at Oli who already looks mildly drunk. He's eyeing some blonde in the dance floor, eye-dancing with her, after giving up trying to get Louis to drink with him or getting him to call Harry.

"Drinking up are we?" suddenly Louis' space gets crowded with a too much of Zayn. "A whisky, please - strong." Zayn tells the bar tender. "Oli boy!! how are you bro?" he fist bumps with the red head leaning across Louis.

"Paying for moral support" Oli says eyeing Louis.

Zayn snorts... but pats Louis on back, noticing him brood. Zayn was the only one Louis had told about his plans with Harry earlier and he was actually the one convinced him this will be a good idea. Fucking Zayn. "What have you got here?" grabbing Louis' glass Zayn huffs as he inhales it.

"Keeping it light. Where Payno?"

"Living the party, like we all should. Think Soph dragged him to the back corner already. Stop fucking mourning. Haz will be here soon."

"I told him to fucking call. he's just playing like it's his first prom date." Oli offers taking his eyes from the dance floor for a second.

"I won't call if I don't want to, alright? piss off."

"Ok, fine by me."

Oli leans himself back to his position with raised eyes  and looking away. But Zayn keeps his eyes on Louis. He sips at his drink once and pats Louis on back twice - 

"Calm down, man" he says, "He'll be here soon." he huffs a smile and nods before leaving Louis there, probably to search for his new pal, Zahid aka the one and only naughty boy.

Checking out the time, Louis realizes that Harry's just an hour late. Well, he might have gotten stuck in the traffic for all he knows. Should he be worried that Harry hadn't tried to call him on his work phone if he couldn't reach him through his personal one? Maybe Harry's just panicking about this as same as he is. This is a fucking bad idea. really really bad idea... he should have waited. He should have waited until this whole promo saga is over.

 

"Mr. Tomlinson?" a female voice suddenly calls through DJ's beat dragging him out of his thoughts.

 He turns to see a someone in the Soho staff, a polite looking girl.

 "Sir, Mr. Cowell asked if you could come to the blue lounge. Said he has someone that's really keen to meet you."

 "Umm ... Sure" Louis says, picking up his still only half empty soda. He eyes Oli who looks at him "Could you let H know I'm here if he comes?"

Oli just nods.

 "And send me a message" he says following the girl.

 Oli raises his glass and leans back to the counter - continuing to watch the blonde-haired woman that had caught his eye.  Louis is sure that Oli's going to head to the dance floor the second Louis disappears. He rolls his eyes at his salivating pal. Seriously, he should have asked Stan to come.

 

The girl leads him out of the crowd to much quieter lounges, where Simon is chatting with a group of four. They were all formally dressed and business-like men. Simon smiles at him as he steps into the room. The men in suits happens to be the management heads of Manchester football, seeking to organise a series of charity games for the next red nose day.

Though he is in a different mindset, it is a setting which Louis could hardly skip, if anything. It has been a cause he had been pushing for years to the directors of his own Donny Rovers. And it gives him with a fine distraction. He doesn't realize the time he spends there, conversing with the men he so much seek to meet... even after Simon excuses himself as his phone rings.

 

..............

 

 

 

15th November - 8:45pm/ Harry & Louis' house, London

 

 

"What the fuck do you mean he's not there?!!!" Nick shouts at Rick through the phone.

 

"He's not there, boss. I don't think he was here at all"

 

Kicking the white velvet couch with rage and frustration, he curses. He fists a pile of his own hair with a deranged look in his face.

 

"He is there... he has to be there. Victor is almost here with the boy!! I need you to get hold of him. I need you to get Tomlinson ready for my call. I don't care if you can't bring him here. I can fucking face time! But I need you fucking get him when I ask you to! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!!

"Nicky, I do understand - but, but he's not here, man. I'm in the hotel you gave me and I checked the hotel log. He was never here. There's no Tomlinson or anyone from their people or anything. Just some regular business dudes."

"FUCK!!" Nick screams, his head burning. He phases around the neatly arranged modern furniture like a mad man - kicking random things to fall and break around.

"FUCK!!"

"Hey Nikky" one of the men calls looking out of the window as Nick cursed some more. He kicks out at a glass bowl on a timber stool as it throws back, breaking to pieces.

"Nikky"

"Fucking what!!!" he screams ready to throw the bloody phone at the man.

 

"They are here."

 

.........................

 

 

 

 

15th November - 8:47 pm/ Harry & Louis' house, London

 

Harry

 

He had fought, punched, wrestled and screamed, at first ... in the car , as much as he could manage. But none of it had mattered under their deadlocks, laughing, manhandling and beating... his body had soon gone numb.

Now, as he is finally hauled out of the car - he no longer struggled. He couldn't. But getting down, there was something familiar in the surrounding even to his staggering mind. The trees, walls - the house... it's his home, their home. It makes him stand still for a second. Louis... is Louis there? No... no, Louis was going to pick him up from the hotel... he won't be here. He won't be...

"Get going, bitch!" one of them pushes him in.  He lets his feet stagger on the familiar white marble floor, feeling as if he was in one of his now seldom nightmares. Without any effort, they take him towards the pathway - towards the door and Harry lets him be dragged by an iron grip on his bicep. He feels detached in a way - almost insensate.

But his temporary calm blows inside the next minute, as he's dragged into their sitting area - to a presence of the monster of his worst endured horrors.

Victor pushes him towards the deranged man with haunting eyes - the man in his worst nightmares for past months... the face he had dreamt out of horror and terror... the man who had defiled him, violated him in every possible way. The man's gaze scrapes every part of his skin as if Harry is bare in front of him. It was a mere push, but Harry collapses to the floor, his face hitting first on the fresh carpet. But then, he was hauled up, with a dead grip in his hair -  to face him... .

Ice cold eyes stares at him with such a hate-triumph, face lining to a mocking, deranged smirk. Harry groans, whimpers as the grip on his hair tightens, dragging his head back. He should have screamed instead... His panic raises above everything else as Nickels hisses hatefully and starts circling around him with his eyes fixed on to his shivering form - sound of his each step hammering Harry's ears.  He shudders , like the air is suddenly freezing him. And he feels feverish, as his eyes begins tearing down his burning skin. He tries to breathe, tries to breathe as his lungs felt like they are about to explode under the attention.

Nick steps in front of him again from the other side - And looking at his vile, cold face, all Harry could feels is horror struck and stone-stuck. Terror seem to overwhelm his every breath as the hateful eyes bore in to him.

"W-ell, well well... look who it is." the man says slyly... stepping in closer. Then, all Harry sees is a flash of a moving hand before he was struck across the face with a searing force. 

 Before he even begins to recover, he is hauled back to face him. Fear ignites once again in him like fire on flesh, tearing the numbness... In desperation, he struggles to get free as everything starts flashing in his mind - the terror, the pain, humiliation, the torment. But then in a flick, he gets pushed back by the neck, slamming his head at something  solid at the back. Harry gasps as the air leave his lungs while Nick tightens his fingers, almost chocking him. With last of his strength left, Harry tries to shove him off. It is a wrestle match that ends soon as it starts. He seem to be no match to the middle aged man on top of him who lowers his face, his lips almost touching Harry's ear.

"We've been through this before, Styles" he says, "You don't fight me!!"

With a one last attempt Harry tries to shove the man off - but it only ends with man's fist crashing in to his face until it all starts spinning around him. His grips loosen, arms falling to either side. Next moment he was flipped over, face down to the carpet again. His wrists grabbed and held behind his back. Harry couldn't fight even if he wanted to - face to face with horrors of his past which is about to tear him again. His head is dragged back and Nicks voice hisses his ear again.

"Maybe I should teach you a lesson - looks like you need to remember what you are good for..."

Harry just shivers, unable to move unable to fight and unable to stop shuddering tears betraying his eyes. He would rather die, than living here, this moment. He would rather die than facing any of it again.

Nick loosens his grip and Harry's face fall down back to the floor with thud. Harry waits - his heart hammering in the cage of his numb body - he waits for the inevitable to tear his body and sanity in to pieces. He won't survive it - not this time.

But then - the weight on top of him disappears along with the grip on his wrists. He waits for it to return - breathing on to the familiar carpet, his raised heart beating in a painful speed. He doesn't attempt to move.

 

 

........

 

 

15th November - 9:06 pm/ on the way to Harry & Louis' house

 

Alex

 

Wiping his hair with a stiffened hand, Alex spares at the time, the red numbers in the dashboard. Only a little more than ten minutes had passed since he had sent Niall to stay put. But he knows so much could have already happened in there.

As the car speeds up a little more, he doesn't even look at his fellow colleague in the driving seat. The three police cars following behind seem to catch up with them. It's going to take at least ten more minutes for them to reach the house, and he knows - he knows as he knew the gun in his hand that Harry is going to be taken there. Moth would not just drop into Harry's and Louis' house to check up on furniture. The moment Niall had texted him, he knew.

But Moth must also know they would soon find out Harry's missing. And he's a fool if he thought there's only one camera on that house... and Alex knew the man is no fool. Whatever he's up to, in that house, he's going to do it soon.

Closing his eyes, he tries to calm himself, but it only flashed him the last words he had with Harry - about going to see his mother. Why the hell did he leave him there by himself? Why did he? There was no evidence of a struggle or anything... Harry must have walked out by himself for all he know. How and why? Would it even matter now? If something happened to him, it would be Alex's fault - his alone. And he would never forgive him - ever.

His phone starts to ring again, for the hundredth time. An incoming call from Zayn - it says. But Alex knows it's Louis. At the rate of the calls, which he did not answer of course, Alex also could guess that Louis already knew that Harry's gone missing. And he had no idea how he must be coping. But at the moment, it is the last of Alex's problems.

At Least the lad is safe and under protection. He thinks as his phone vibrates. He almost ignores it... but this time, it is not from Louis or Zayn ... or anyone else.

It's from Niall.

 

 ..............

 

 

 

 

15th November - 9:28 pm/ Harry & Louis' house

 

Harry

 

Harry just lays there - on the familiar white wool carpet. He doesn't know for how long...

 

He could feel the metallic taste of blood in his mouth, and his face burned. He's probably bleeding... but he doesn't feel good to care.  

He can't remember how many times he had just laid on this same carpet in past couple of weeks - perhaps even the same spot, watching Tele, playing scrabble or FIFA with the lads. He tries to remember... despite the blurry visions of the feet walking around him. Louis should be waiting for him in Soho - did he try to call him? Does he know yet? Maybe Alex is right... he should have called Mom - he thinks as he stares ahead mindlessly.

He just watches them. Their feet, boots and guns dragging along on the wool carpet.

They had occasionally kicked him - poked him with their heavy boots, but he doesn't think he reacted to any of it. His body felt numb, as same as his thoughts.

He just lays there - shivering, even he doesn't exactly feel cold.

He just lays...

He doesn't know for how long.

 

But then, his peace gets torn to shreds - as he is dragged up to his knees again. Nick Moth stands with glaring eyes at him... his earlier sneer and triumph completely gone from his face; replaced with black venom of hate.

"Seems like I have to do with you, Styles" he spits bitterly, stepping closer. "You little boyfriend has to be having a little lucky charm around his cock, unlike you, -"

Nick says waving something like a phone in front of Harry, "I tried to go easy on you. Just get you to watch him die..." he points a gun at his face and makes a clicking noise from his tongue with eyes on Harry. "... blood splattering out" He  says thoughtfully - and then laughs maniacally. He draws his face near the pale shivering face with tear stuck green eyes.

"But you see, your boyfriend decided, that he's not going to be there for that. My man there just confirmed me, for the second time that he's not there. And I - I'm running out of time here." taking steps back, he spits bitterly, impatience and bitterness radiating through him like heat. He sighs, blowing air out as if to calm himself.

"He left me with no choice." he says then, looking back at the shivering boy held by his goons. "So instead, I think I'll do that to you... and he'll see the terrible mistake he did." Nickels says in a slow explaining tone as if he is trying to make him understand. Harry watches as the deranged man smiles. but then it's replaced with patronized pity and bitterness.

"But you do get it... do you, Harry? Why I have to do this?"

Harry just whimpers as the grip in his hair tightens even more. He tries to blink, unable to take his tearing eyes off the cold hostile gaze ahead of him because his head is deadlocked to face him.

Nickels moves forward, and with his on off vision, Harry sees him dragging something behind him - something like a baton. Was he going to be beaten? Is he going to beat him? Harry whimpers amid shivers - and he flinches hard as Nick touches his face, dragging his fingers on his burning skin carefully.

"I'm going to shoot you in your pretty face"

He says as if almost atoning - drawing circles on the pale white skin with eyes glued to his face. "He won't even recognize you... no one would. I'm going to paint you in red."

His cold fingers ghosts on his face, neck and the scalp as the man buries them in long messy curls - and there was nothing Harry could do than just take it. Nick stares at him hard and long, at his shivering tearing face.

"Such a waste... I know." he sighs not taking his hand off. "But first, I need you to remember, Harry. I want you to remember what I did to you ... in case you've forgotten. I need you to remember- before you die - " Nick says, boring in to fear drenched eyes. "- the pain. The fear... I need you to feel what you felt when I made you feel sorry for what you did to my Danny."

Letting go, and stepping few steps back, Nick Moth hosts up whatever he was carrying in his other hand - a black baton like thing - and switches it on.

The mere sound of it makes Harry jump - his body flinching with the sound of electric waves running through the rod. He couldn't help it but he struggles with all his might, just for a moment before his body goes numb. No, No - he must tell them not to. He can't. He can't... he...

 

"Put him on there" Nick Moth orders pointing at the coffee table with the stun baton with a stern voice.

 And they do, dragging him face down.

Once on the table, the Harry just stills - like a doll. His pale face drenched with tears... eyes wide open in a silent scream he could not voice. His limp body, useless and dull with fright. He shivers though, each time the baton buzzes, gripping on the corners with white knuckles.

"I wish there's music I could play" Nick says making the men around laugh as he finally starts lowering the tip of the baton on the boy's back with a sparks buzzing in the end.

 

Then there is a sound of something creaking and slamming ahead - and all three men except Nick drags their guns out, pointing directly at the blonde-haired lad standing in the open kitchen with horrified but desperate eyes with both his hands up.

"Please, don't." he blurts, voice hitching at his throat. "Please don't hurt him"

 

 

.........................

 

 

 

 

15th November - 9:38 pm/ on the way to Harry & Louis' house

 

Alex

 

From their place, the two snipers had clear shots on the two of the men. But not on Moth. They tell him through the headset.

 

According to Niall there were four inside, including Nick Moth.

 

They have already taken out three of the culprits, sitting guard outside. But Alex knew that now is the play. If Moth even got so much as a clue that they are here, there is a ninety percent chance that he would go for the worse. But there was no time left to over think - or think at all.

Diving his tool pin inside the back door, he carefully turns it, making less noise as much as he could as the door fall open. Signalling his fellow gunman.

There is sound - struggle, possibly... a buzzing and talking. He could hear voices.

They sweep in as quietly as possible, stepping towards the opening to the kitchen, where Alex knew Niall was hiding.

 

"I wish there's music I could play" someone says after a trail of electronic buzzes and the men laugh. And the electronic buzz sounds again.

Almost reaching the end, Alex could practically see them through the reflexion of the glass cabinets.

 

Then there was a door slamming open in the opposite side - in the kitchen and a horror struck, very teary Niall comes through with raised hands to Alex's view.

Alex could just grit his teeth. Three men with guns turns at Niall - he catches from the reflexions.

 

"Please, don't." Niall says through tears, desperation clear in his tone. "Please don't hurt him"

 

The next moment, Niall catches the sight of Alex and the other gunman to his left - hidden from the walls to the view of Moth and his goons. But as quickly as he does, he turns his attention back to the front, with Alex placing his index on his lips to signal him to silence. If Niall's expression moves even a bit, it clearly goes unnoticed by the ones aiming guns at him including Moth due to the shock of his sight.

 "How the fuck did you get here?" One bellows, probably Moth.

 "I - I was here. I was hiding...P-please ..." Niall stammers. His breath still hitches.

"It's one of the other ones from the fucking band" another man says. And finally, Alex sees Harry, spots him laid on the coffee table - unmoving. The snipers could easily take the three - and with Harry not standing, Alex could get Moth. They should take the shot right now... it's not going to be any easier than this - Alex knew the snipers were waiting for his signal. If they move now, the culprits would be taken by surprise. But it is a too much of a risk.  They had three guns at Horan. Fucking Niall Horan.

"Who else is here?!!" Moth's voice blast again.

"N-no no one." Niall shivers. "I- I was here t- to pick a - a something. I - I hid... I - please d-don't hurt him. Please..." Niall tears up as Moth hauls Harry's body up from the short table.

And Alex knows it's over. He bites his lip looking at the reflexion of Moth holding Harry up in front of him - grabbing him like a shield.

 

"I'm going to fucking KILL HIM!! Kill him in this little love shack of his. And you can fucking tell his little boy friend that I shot him in face!!" Moth says dangling Harry in his grip.

Harry looks at Niall through his blurry vision - most helplessly as he feels the man's arm tighten around his neck, pressing him back into his body. He shivers at the haunting familiar grip, smell and feel. And he knew this time, today, there is no escape...

But all he felt was numbness. Numbness shackled with fear and terror, inside his head consuming him to madness. He could just pant through breaths, seeing the blurry vision of the familiar blond face.

"No - Please..." Niall mumbles tearfully, fearfully.

And as he couldn't help it, he spares a glance at Alex.

This time though, unlike earlier, Nick sees - following his eyes. And with a possible realization hitting him that they are not alone, he drags his gun out of his jacket gripping the boy tighter - with intention to point it at his curly haired head, screaming like a hostile animal being set off, swinging his gun clad hand around in speed;

"I'LL KILL HIM IF YOU SO MUCH AS MOVE!! ANY OF YO-"

"Now" Alex whispers to his headset, moving forwards the same instant while knocking Niall to the ground. He takes a clean straight shot at Nick Moth with all the practice and whatever the calculations that he could make through reflexions - and with sheer hope, out of desperation.

Blood splatters everywhere and  for a second, bullets were flying - smashing around hitting glass, cushions and what not. But it ends just as it starts with no one actually standing. 

 Nickels Moth was Dead. Alex knew.

But his heart was still raising as he shouts. "Police!!! Put down the guns if you are alive or we are going to shoot you down with snipes!!" he shouts.

Looking back, he sees Niall on the floor - same way he fell - wiping his teary face with fear and shock.

And Allen, his gunman on the floor with a clenched hand. He was bleeding.

"Stand by" he mumbles to the headset.

Then, clicking his gun and taking a deep breath, he moves, first taking cover of the counter and then towards the chaos.  Nothing moved and the silence brought an eerie desperation to Alex.

He spots Harry right away - sprawled under Moth's lifeless body. There was no movement, not even from the other shot down men.

Alex steps closer -  stepping on broken shreds and the mess. There is the body of the man they chased for almost an year - The man, who was practically a ghost even before he died. Nickels Moth... the drug load, underworld pawn who became a crime master, who made himself a tormenter, a murderer and a psychopath through a hate and revenge.

Nickels Moth laid there - dead in a pool of bleeding, warm blood, eyes struck in a horror of his own make.

 

Bending down, he pulls Moth's lifeless body away to reveal Harry's face down form - fear making him freeze.

 "Harry" he calls gun still tight in his hand. "Harry"

Then, for his utter relief, he sees slight movement.

Releasing the breath, he didn't know he was holding, Alex reaches him slowly - dragging him to his side... sweeping away the long drenched up curls from his face. His face and neck was splattered with liquid red. Blood.

Not his apparently.

 "Harry. Can you hear me?" he asks touching his blood stained face.

 

Harry just blinks, once... twice... moving an inch. And it was all Alex wanted.

 

  

It is all over - for good.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

18. Cut from the cords of the wicked, You've gotta move down the road

 

Sat inside the speeding vehicle, Liam and Louis does not speak a word. Apart from few words passed between three security guys inside, the car is as silent as an abandoned grave. Time to time, Liam spares to look at Louis, his knuckle gripped fingers holding the armrest and the back of his turned head as he watches passing vehicles out of the car window. He could hardly imagine what must be going inside his head, Liam doesn't think anyone could.

Peeping ahead, Liam stares at the SUV ahead - which is speeding as fast. Zayn should have been here with them, instead of there with Oli, but from the moment they were told about it all, Zayn seem to have gone it to a trance mode - quiet and reserved so suddenly that Liam felt as if Zayn is backing away from him. Was it because of fear? Concern? he doesn't have a clue. Zayn just had a weird way of reacting to things at times. Especially after everything happened. Could anyone blame him though?

When the security piled both him and Zayn into a back room of Soho about an hour ago and told them about Harry, Liam practically had lost it. People might think that he always had it all together and acted the most mature among them, but actually in truth, Liam knows that he just manages to fake it until he just blows up with panic.

And this time he was beyond panic. 

It was like a fucking catastrophe of repetition - of fear, and dread. 

Louis had already known when they were finally taken to the room he was in. And he had been something between hysterical, turbulent and frenzied - trying to contact Alex futilely in his unstable form. He had screamed and yelled at the security who didn't let them out, eventually curling himself alone in a corner with fidgeting hiccups he was unable to deal with. Neither him nor Zayn had the strength to talk to him, fear consuming them. They didn't know how to...

If anything happened to Harry - or Niall at this stage, it would be all over - Liam knew that much.

And for some eerie, unexplainable reason, it all felt like a haunting de-ja-vu. Instead of a clean white hospital like the last time, it was dim-lit swanky room this time. But none the less it felt like they were back in a sort of a square one again. With raising, shaking hearts, three of them had sat in three corners of the room stuck in each of their headspaces - not even looking at each other... until the call came, confirming that Harry and Niall are both safe.

Louis had been silent even afterwards - fidgeting though, as if he is in a verge of a seizure. And since getting into the car, he had been grippingly static, Liam had noticed.

 

It takes twenty more minutes for them to reach the hospital.

 

And the moment the car stops, Louis kicks open the door - practically starting to run. Liam follows him - as well as the security behind them. They get easily directed to the private lounge upstairs by their waiting team.

"Where is he?"

Louis' voice comes with a breathless desperation and a shiver as he walks in through the glass doors to face a bunch of security guards and white clad hospital staff.

"I - I want to see him." he blurts out, oblivious to Simon and several management heads scattered around the room.

Liam could tell that Louis didn't care who he is talking to or who is around. It was as if the world didn't matter to him any more. He seem to be shivering in his stand if nothing else.

"What's your name, sir?" a nurse with the clipboard asks from the corner.

"L-Louis. Louis Tomlinson." words comes out in a breathless haste.

The nurse looks up at him and Liam with a calm eye.

"You are listed as person of contact. However since you are not next to kin, we have to wait until the doctor gives approval for visitations."

"No - that's ridicu-"

Louis starts to say, but several people coming through the passageway to the rooms gets his attention. Harry's doctor and therapist , Alex and probably several other doctors - as Liam identifies. The moment Louis sees Alex, he steers forward with gritting teeth and gripped fists.

There is no chance for Liam or anyone to stop him, pull him back -

 

"Where the fuck were you!!!! Where the fuck were you!!!!" Louis cries with utter anger in his face.

Alex, still in his bulletproof vest and gloves, doesn't step back nor try to stop Louis as he rages at him. Before anyone could catch up, Louis is on him, clutching at his vest with white knuckled grips,

"Where the fuck were you!!!! You should have been there. You should have been there for him. It's your fault! It's your FUCKING FAULT"

 

Several of the security jumps in to tear him away - but Liam catches him first, clutching him from back. "Louis - Tommo -no! it's ok - let go -let go"

He manages to break him away from Alex who just stares at struggling Louis with roughened worried look.

"You were supposed to protect him. You were supposed to save him." Louis cries angrily as tears starts rolling down. "I trusted you!!! I trusted him with you. And you let them take him again!! Fuck you!!" shuddering and furious over his head, Louis screams. "Fuck you!!"

 

"Shhhhh... Shhhh. Tommo - come on - he'll be ok. They said he'll be ok"

Wrapping his arms tighter around the trembling body, Liam says to his ear. Louis just keeps glaring at Alex, breathing hard as if his lungs were about to collapse. He sniffs, shaking more as Liam held him.

"You need to sit, alright? We are going to sit and wait a bit so you can go see him." Liam says carefully loosening his grip as he feels Louis' enraged strength subdue from his body. "You can't go see him like this when they call you in, ok. They won't let you. You need to calm down" Liam says again nudging him towards the seating area.

Louis doesn't protest - just follows after Liam who spares a glance at Zayn and Oli who were stood behind them with concerned expressions. Liam watches from his side as Zayn reach Alex - talking to him and the doctors silently.

The room which went to a complete silence upon their arrival, slowly starts murmurs around again as Liam sits with Louis who buries his head in his palms in his seat.

 

A little after Oli and Zayn comes back as Alex and the offices leave the room. Liam can't blame Alex for not looking towards them as he leaves. It feels strange though, because he has been constantly around them - around Harry - for the past few months in London. He almost felt like a part of the lads.

"I'm going to see Niall" Zayn says in a low voice, not really looking up at them. "He's in couple of rooms after."

"Tell him I'll be there as soon as I can." Liam wanted to go see him now, but leaving Louis here with just Oli didn't really feel good.

Zayn just nods as he leaves with a quick glance at Louis.

 

 ......................................

  

 

"He seems to be in sort of a shock, still. Maybe his mind is not ready to cope with it yet. It might take a little time for him to process what happened and even react to it." A doctor with black framed glasses tells them before letting Louis in to Harry's room first.

"How long?" Louis had blurted out. "I-I want to know what's happening." he adds.

"An hour or a day. Or perhaps months. It is different from person to person how long... or how well they recover from it. He might panic, or get in to a seizure - no one can tell. But given his history of suppression, his condition is unpredictable at the moment." the doctor had said.

 It is only after he walks into Harry's hospital room that Liam understands what the good doctor meant. Or when he walks in, after Louis texts him to.

 "Can ull come in" the message had simply read.

Liam not expecting Harry to look less scathed is maybe the thing.

He doesn't know what he expected, actually. The last time, about a year ago, when he walked in to Harry's room in the hospital after everything, the Harry he saw was practically unrecognisable. Liam had braced himself for nothing less. But this time - to his utter relief - it is different.

Tucked under white soft hospital blankets, Harry looks himself, mostly. He's been changed to hospital cloths, hair newly washed. There were black and blue marks spread through his arms, neck and face. His lip was split and left jaw swollen, but apart from that, at a glance, he looks fine. Much better than Liam expected... or feared.

But the look on his face as he stares at them is elusive as if he is looking at them through a glass. He looks as if he desperately needed a supply of blood to recover. Curled in to his side, he looked smaller, despite of his long limbs. There is a IV drip attached to his hand - probably to give him tranquilizers in need... but according to the doctor, he had not been given much so far.

And Louis just stands there, on the side of the bed as if he is about to break - as if mere looking at Harry like this might send him off the edge. Phone gripped in one hand he seemed to be tracing his patterns on the sheet with bitten lips - his hiding eyes brimming tears - Liam could tell. Harry seem to just watch him - stare at Louis' clammy and blotchy face without a word.

Whether there were any words passed between them, Liam couldn't tell. He doesn't look back at Zayn who he knows followed him in. He just walks towards the bed, closer to Harry with a smile he manages to bring up. Harry's eyes fall on him, with no expression - no emotion. He just looks.

"How are you, Harry?" Liam slowly asks, mainly because he couldn't bear the silence. He carefully sweeps the messy threads of curls from Harry's face as he does so.

He doesn't expect Harry to say anything. But Harry does, after a considerable time after.

 "M F-ine." he mumbles, his voice barely a rough chocked whisper. His eyes staring at him with a casualness Liam is not sure that is purposeful or not. 

And that does it for Louis. That very tone and the detached way Harry says it. He tries to cover his eyes with his hand, but his shoulders shakes bringing the flood gates he had been holding. He cries, though he didn't want to - not in front of Harry- he cries, letting himself slide down so he can hide himself from Harry's gaze.

He had failed him, once again. He had failed him ... they all had.

Louis couldn't touch Harry even if he wanted to. So, he grips on the white sheets next to where he lays, burying his face. Harry still just seem to watch him, his face as impassive and tired but strained with thoughts, as the doctor said, he is not yet ready to spill.

And others, including Liam seem to not know what to do, watching them silently.

 

 ........................

 

"Louis..."

 

Harry calls after what seemed like hours, voice still as weary and rough as before. The strain in his face had seemed to have loosen  a bit but he hadn't really moved or looked anywhere else than the curled form to his side - though Louis had turned his face away from him, resting his cheek on the bed.

Everything stills in the room again. Louis slowly looks at him - as if trying to hide his tear damp face. But he reaches to place his hand on top of Harry's knee carefully on top of the sheets.

"I'm here, Haz" he says carefully.

 

 "I want...t see mom"

 

Louis doesn't seem to be able to react, no matter how much he wanted to. As if he couldn't bear the glassy surface Harry's on. Harry should be screaming, howling - breaking down with him. But instead he is as dull as a corpse. And Louis doesn't know how to take it.

 "I'll call Gemma" Liam says looking at Louis gently, knowing that both Anne and Gemma are already on the way.

He glances at Zayn who stares at Harry with a hardened look.

 

..............................

 

 

 

Louis can definitely say that he had not seen a real dead body before.

The corpses or dead bodies in movies doesn't really count. Props, makeup, no matter how brilliant the acting is, could hardly capture the spiking feeling of the absence of life. Even real footage in news channels can't give the actuality of it.

It's not fear nor shock nor, as a matter of fact, relief, that he feels seeing him dead, as he forethought

As he follows the officers to the morgue... what he deals with is coldness, hollowness and emptiness.

He wishes he had come with Zayn for this earlier. He knew they had brought him in here as well, to identify the body. Because it is two of them that had direct encounters with him, since Harry is in no condition to do so. They needed two of them to identify and confirm the body... The lifeless body of Nickels Moth .

He had two from hospital staff with him and three officers, who are not Alex. Louis doesn't know what he feel about it, because he saw Alex leave with Zayn, when he went in. His initial anger at the guy has thinned, but he's not sure if he could ever look at Alex and not think about how he almost lost Harry, again. And he doesn't know how to deal with it.

 

Louis follows the men in front of him silently, trying his best to ignore the strong smell that carves into his senses and the extra cool in the room. He tries his best to keep it together with a solemn face as one of the white clad staff pulls open a locker, revealing a zipped body bag.

"You ready?" Officer next to Louis asks in a mild tone as the man pauses before unzipping.

Eyes on the covered body, Louis just nods, wishing the nauseous flipping in the pit of his stomach would just stop. The strange smell of the whole room is not really helping with the defective way his body is reacting to it all.

 Maybe it's just him, but the zipper sounds extra loud in the silent room as the man opens it revealing the upper body.

 

Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Louis stares at the naked body of the man, Moth. The man who had faulted Harry for his lovers' suicide out of madness. The man who had grudged over Harry for his own failure to save him. The man who was responsible for nearly destroying Harry, abusing Harry and tormenting Harry almost into madness.

Flashes of this man, in that cursed hell of a warehouse during the two weeks stir up in his mind like a foul smelling smoke. The unforgiving, hateful way he tossed Harry around like a toy - the way he hurt and tortured him in front of him. He could practically see the lines and lines of Harry's medical report, assumptions of things Harry had been subjected to in the reach of the man's claws... which Harry confirmed with far worse memories.

The man's eyes were closed, his expression, sunk and his complexion dead than pale. There were bullet wounds on his forehead, left shoulder and arm. Looking at him, all Louis could think is how he might have tormented Harry just a few hours ago. How he must have attacked him, treated him in his grasp - yet again.

Looking carefully, Louis could spot clear scratched marks along his neck and collarbones. They were cleaned, but they were so deep that the skin had been peeled away. Louis didn't want to let his mind follow his thoughts and imagine anything this bastard might had put Harry through in past few hours. 

He felt rage - hate, looking at this person. This inhuman person, no matter his mental state. He saw nothing but Harry's torment and suffering, looking at him. All the months Harry had crawled in utter despair; unable to stand, unable to breathe, talk, sleep... unable to deal with his own self. That's what Louis saw, looking at the lifeless body of this man. He had no pity or sympathy left to spare for him - nor he felt sorry about it.

 

"Mr. Tomlinson?" The officer asks carefully as Louis finally looks up.

Louis just blinks, as if he suddenly remembered why he was here, looking at a corpse. For a moment the room goes silent, again.

"It's him" Louis says after a sigh. And closes his eyes shut for a second.

"Do you recognize him as the man who was in charge of the kidnapping of yourself, Mr. Styles and Mr. Malik?"

"Yes"

"Is he the one that took an attempt in your life, while you and Mr. Styles were still in captive?"

Louis sighs, looking up at the officer.

"It's him."

 

...............................

 

 

Louis goes to see Niall on his way back. 

The fact that it is him that sent the Irish boy there to their house, still haunts Louis. Niall had been there where Louis should have been... and only a small miss would have costed them of him as well. If anything happened to Niall - it would have been his fault. He wouldn't have forgiven himself ever for it. 

Niall looks almost surprised to see him, laying there with his iPad on. They just stare at each other for a moment before Louis steps closer and hugs him with no words said. Niall, buries him self deep in Louis' arms.

Liam had told him that Niall had been in complete shock, traumatized, and been given tranquilizers to settle him down. Louis could relate to the horror he must have been through, having to witness Harry at the hands of the lunatic psychopathic thugs, unable to do anything to save him. He had been in the same position in worst way possible.

"How are you, lad" he asks not letting go.

Niall nods, amid sniffs and finally draws back. He looks at Louis with glassy blue eyes and reddened face. "How's Haz?"

Louis smiles with tight lips and nods back.  "He'll be fine. He needs time. But he'll be ok" 

Niall wipes at his face and sniffs again. "It's all over, Tommo... he's dead" he says staring at Louis, as if to study his face.

"Yeah"

Niall looks away at the window - at the rare clear sky outside. "I thought he would die..."

Louis looks down making circles on the bed with his fingers.

Niall sniffs again, "They - they were going to shoot him. h - he was going to shoot him in f-ace" 

"Liam told me you came out - to -to stop them using the stun gun on him"

Niall looks back at him, running a trembling hand over his face, as if he is trying to block the tears somehow. And for some reason his gaze is filled with a guilt and regret Louis could not understand. "I should have come out sooner, done something. But I was too scared and shocked. I didn't do anything - just ...just watched him trying to fight them ... fend for himself - I just watched, like a coward." he says through sniffs and tears.

Louis reaches and clutches Niall's trembling arm as his vision becomes blurry.

"You did everything you could, alright. I should have been there ... me. I should have gone to pick up the ring instead of you. I should have called him when he got late. I should have been there, not you."

"And they would have killed you. You wouldn't have waited like I did. You would have come out and tried to save him. And those psychotic thugs would have wanted nothing but that. They wanted to kill you in front of Harry. It was a miracle that it was me there... not you. I just wish - I wish I did more."

Niall says amid sniffs - his face blotchy and teary.

"You did enough. If not you, the teams wouldn't have gotten there by time."

Niall studies him through his teary face, "Alex found him, Tommo... He saved him."

Louis sighs returning his gaze. "Yeah, well... he lost him as well."

Niall doesn't try to argue with him or convince him otherwise. Louis spends a bit more there, before leaving for Harry's room again. And as he gets up to leave, Niall hands him over a black velvet box - the box Louis had asked him to pick up from there house.

The box with the ruby ring he got for Harry.

 

 ................................

  

As the doctors predicted, Harry's fogginess, restrain, self-inflicted calm or whatever it is, doesn't last long...

By the evening that day, Harry gets the first of his many panic attacks that follows through a span of months to come.

It is just Louis and Zayn in the room by the time. Liam had gone to Niall's and both Gemma and Anne were still on the way. Louis had been turning pages of a useless hospital magazine he picked up from a pile in the side and Zayn had been in his usual silent pensive in a corner when it happens.

Maybe it's the dragging silence - maybe it's the characterless white walls or maybe it's just Harry's own mind that triggers him. Louis doesn't know ... But anyhow, his brain doesn't seem ready to hold it in anymore.

First, Louis notices Harry's breathing start to change out of nowhere. Harry had been staring out without much movement for a long time as he had doing since they were allowed in. But then his shallow breaths seem to turn into short wheezing ... he drags one of his hands to his chest as if his lungs were about to explode. And within minutes, his eyes starts tearing - as if it is out of his control. Louis was not sure if it is either for pain or fear. And Harry starts to tremble then, as if in fever

Louis had called the nurse in an instant - knowing exactly what is going to happen - while Zayn stood there dumb struck. Louis knew ... he had seen Harry like this far too many times for his own sanity by now.

Nurses had rushed in, but within minutes, Harry was hyperventilating - kicking and screaming. He had gripped at his chest and sheets as if trying not to choke... trying not to lose the inch of control he seem to hold on to like a death grip.

 

There was absolutely nothing Louis could do.

 

................................................

 

 

 

Harry watched the white ceiling without really seeing anything at all.

 

He felt cold ... like death, staring ahead as the drugs chained his howling thoughts to the box of his mind. He felt movement around him - even felt touches and perhaps words murmured to comfort him. But he couldn't care less.

He couldn't react - he couldn't process anything anymore. It is as if the time had stopped for him, while everything circulated around him. Flashes of haunting memories crashed into his thoughts like a knives into flesh - bleeding him dry. Memories that he learned to cope, forgive and lay to rest. It all kept replaying ... over and over. Choking him in his very breath. The faces, the screams, the smell, the blood ... and pain. Irreversible, unbearable, inevitable pain.

He was broken - he knew. Beyond repair, beyond hope.

Everything everyone had done for him for all this time... it seemed all gone. Lashes of abuse and torture - the wounds and gashes he prayed to heal, seemed all torn open. The terror and fear that traumatised him once seem to ignite out in a horrendous fire. They had broken him - he had broken him... again.

There seemed no escape. No hiding from it. He is hopelessly, permanently broken.

He hated himself. He hated himself for being broken in the first place. Again and again.

After letting everyone pick up the pieces and put him to a whole again, now , he had let himself be torn to pieces ... again. He had gotten himself to this in the first place - there was no one else to blame for the things he had done - intentionally or unintentionally.

If not, why would they hate him so much? Why would they hurt him so much?

If someone hated him this much - would go this much of lengths to revenge, then there must be something terribly wrong with him... in every breath he takes.

 

......................................

 

 

"W-h-y?"

Louis just stares at Harry as he breathes out some time later. His voice was heavy with drugs that had been injected into his veins. His face looks pale and clammy as he is in a fever, his luscious locks tousled around him. Louis hears Zayn move behind him, but then he just stills.

Harry's face looks drained - as same as his entire body. But he continues to speak.

"W-hy does he hates m-e? Why do th-they hate m-e s-so much?"

 He looks apprehensive, almost to a state of terror. Louis looks at his tear trickling face with moist eyes himself. He reaches him, putting his palm over his arm.

"It's nothing to do with you, Harry. It's all gone now. All done. He's no more." Louis says carefully. "You are safe now. That's what matters."

"He t-told me I k-killed him..." Harry wheezes, sucking on air as he continues to shudder. "He blamed me f-for-..." he blinks - tearing eyes still not looking at Louis. They seem to be fixed on the roof.

 

"You did nothing wrong."

 

"I slept with him" he says as if distracted... "I let him fuck me" he sounded in the edge , pained if anything.

Louis felt his heart raising. Harry never really talked about it - not directly ... and certainly not in this way. Louis knew he had messed up thoughts about all that happened in that warehouse still. But what, is he thinking that he brought this upon himself? That somehow he could have opposed to what the psychopath has put him through... day after day for two weeks?

"Harry... you - you couldn't have done anything. They - they drugged you ... forced you. It was one against what... six? Seven? You never-"

"I let Danny think he had me that night. I let him think I wanted him - like I wanted you"

Louis watches, suddenly silent, as he watches fresh tears leak down from the green eyes. They were still fixed on the white ceiling. Louis moves his thumb slightly - drawing circles on his skin while holding his week hand. Harry is not talking about the kidnap... the two weeks of hell. He is talking about Denial Ray... the dead man who caused all this mess. 

 "I was angry. I - I was lonely" Harry sniffs without moving an inch. "I wanted to forget..."

 Louis bites his tongue at the line Harry doesn't finish. 'I wanted to forget you'  he hears it though -inside his head.

 "Harry... I'm sorry"

 "I let him fuck me like you used to fuck me... I - I used him and I - I left." Harry sobs, gripping on the sheets in his disgruntled form.

"Shhh ... It's ok, Harry... It's fine." Louis tries to comfort him, but Harry continues,

"He - he tried to meet me ... again. He just wanted to speak to me again. But I didn't want to... it reminded me of - of you. Of that night. So I - I ignored him"

Each word sounded more painful. As if it is tearing him apart. As if he wanted nothing but to howl and scream. But he was still - dulled by the drugs ... lagged, so he wouldn't lose control like he did moments ago. Louis couldn't bear to see him like this. Hurt, saddened and guilt consumed. His beautiful boy with the softest heart ... he could not help feeling the guilt himself for being responsible for at least half of what set stage to all of this. But Harry had fated to bear the burden of it all...for all the mistakes done by half a dozen half minded people. How was it fair?

Reaching slowly his face Louis runs his fingers through soft curls as soothingly as he could.

"This is years back, Harry. You were just eighteen and you were hurt. You didn't know he was depressed or that he was suicidal. None of it - none of it was your fault. He was a thirty one year old man who made his own choices. You were a kid back then" Louis tries - though he feels hollow himself.

"Then wh-y?" Harry's voice shudders as he presses his head back to the pillow. His eyes stares at the white roof of the room.

Louis isn't really sure if Harry is talking to him to himself - eyes set in a far void in to his head.

 

"Why?" his lips trembles. "They l-laughed at me... They h-urt me ... s-so much." Harry's voice shivers. "He wanted me dead... W-hy? Why am I still alive? Why?"

 

Louis doesn't know what to do - say or how to console him. Not even after all this time.

Ignoring his own tears, Louis slowly wipes off Harry's. It seem to be the only thing he could do, sitting next to him. 

  

..............................................

 

 

"He asleep?"Zayn asks Louis as he steps out to the balcony.

Louis nods, leaning over the railing next to him, taking a cigarette as Zayn offers silently. He lights it up with Zayn's and blows out a quick puff as Zayn takes a long drag, eyes fixed on the skyline.

London sky hovers over the city in a typical gloomy day and Louis couldn't help feeling that it's an exact match for his thoughts.

"It's not your fault," Zayn says not looking at him. " You know that right?" 

Louis nods with tight lips, not sure how much he believed it.

"I should have called him. At least when Oli told me to" he says instead. "Might have realized what's going on sooner."

Zayn sighs, not trying to tell him otherwise. He seemed unusually quiet - even for him. Leaning his back on the short balcony wall, Louis slides down, sitting on the cold tiled floor. Zayn doesn't follow him.

"I went to the morgue" Louis says, not earning a response from Zayn. "They umm... showed me his body"

Looking up, he sees Zayn just playing with the cigarette in his hand. "They took you too"

Zayn just moves his brows as if to say yes.

"Can't get it off my head" Louis says, gripping on his cigarette. "Would have easily been Harry instead." he drags his hand over his face automatically.

 "Or you - if the schedules weren't changed in the last minute." Zayn says, "Luck seem to work for us well." he sounds dull, that it nearly comes sarcastic.

Louis is not sure why Zayn seemed bitter since the incident. At first Louis thought it was maybe because of the memories of last time. Zayn struggled a lot to come in to terms with a lot of stuff with what happened. Louis knew, that after he took off to LA, to Harry, Zayn became more distant towards everything.  He was even dead against bringing Harry back to all of this at first - to London at least. But for some reason, when arguments were out and Harry was refusing to come, Zayn had stepped up and convinced Harry to return to London. Is he regretting changing his stand about it? 

"Is everything alright with management?" Louis decides to ask. "Heard there was some media issue. Image leak or some shit?"

Zayn looks at him this time with a small shrug. "We'll deal with it. Some fuck ... playing with Photoshop. T's nothinn."

Something in the way he says it tells Louis otherwise though. And it gives all the reasons to not to dig more. There's nothing he could do while he's here. And he had no intention to get worked up for some idiot trying to get a two second glory over something like that.

 

....................................

  

 

Anne, Robin and Gemma arrives the very next day.

 

The first time Anne walks in, she bursts into tears, looking at her son laying there again - perhaps bringing the worst of memories of the last time he was in the hospital. She hugs him and shushes him despite of his hot tears and hordes of mumbled apologies. And then, just like that, they are the most adored mother and son Louis had ever seen. Harry falls asleep in her arms that day, like a cat snuggling into warmth. Watching her sweeping her fingers through his hair, with tears running down her face even after he fell asleep, Louis couldn't imagine what it had been like for both of them ... though Harry had never been open about it.

For what is worth, Anne is here to step in to Harry's life now. And Louis is more than relieved at the reunion.

With Anne re-kindling with Harry, Louis finds himself giving them space along with everyone else, including Gemma. Louis had not seen Alex around - not even after Gemma had arrived at the hospital. He doesn't ask about him from her either. Though he felt opposed to the way he raged on the man, Louis doesn't know if he could ever forgive Alex for losing Harry like that - no matter how or why. It was irrelevant how close they have become within last few months ... mare seconds would have costed them Harry's life.

 

There was no argument in that.

 

 

.............................................

 

Many of the close friends visit Harry by the third day...

The ones who knew the truth - and the ones who were at the party by their invitation and wondered what happened. Probably Liam or Niall told them what went down. Ed, Grimy, Alexa, Jeff ¬ even Stan and Lottie. And of course his Mom, Johanna who sits with Anne for the entire day.

But none surprises him as visits from Simon who for a change looked concerned than anything. And what perhaps surprised Louis even more is that Simon didn't utter anything about their soon to start tour or work obligations.

Maybe Simon himself realized how utterly impossible it would be even mentioning work or tour or anything to them - not when Harry is in this condition.

 

.......................................

 

 

By the fifth day in the isolation of the hospital, Harry seem to show much progress with his coping. But he needed a constant presence by his side.

And everything seem to have fallen to a pattern. From Harry's medication, to Anne and Gemma fussing over food, doctors running around with med reports, counselling, Harry getting irritated over smallest things ... everything seem to run in a haste but yet slow motion at the same time, if it is even possible.

With Niall being already discharged, only Louis stays in the hospital with Harry. And the doctors does not permit Harry to be released due to his easily agitated state, stating that the media and attention awaiting outside would worsen his situation. Louis couldn't agree more - though he knew questions over their absence would soon overrun patience.

If he's true to himself, Louis wanted nothing but to postpone everything - even discussing how they should move past this whole fiasco, their newly dropped album, scheduled tour dates, appearances, when and how would it be possible for them to get on with the album they released couple of weeks back. Are they going to hide everything that happened? Lie their way out? But how? It all felt like a freaking burden on top of everything. A burden that they seem to be liable to answer to. Louis didn't have strength to deal with it all at the moment.

 

The other three visited daily. But they kept the work and business part of discussions minimal and light.   

Liam, Zayn and Niall are probably dealing with the management, press and everything under the sun. Louis vaguely hears about some image hack or something relating to Harry but it is the last thing Louis wanted to worry about. Zayn had already shun it from him when asked, and Liam says that they'll handle it... so he really doesn't bother to dig. Whatever it is probably made their absence reasonable perhaps. Louis couldn't care less because he knew that he won't be able to handle it anyway.

Not that the other three seem to cope any better, if Louis is true to himself...

It doesn't totally go unnoticed by him how dysfunctional three of them looked, though they tried to cover it up in front of Harry. Liam is perhaps the only one who was able to act normal of all four of them. Niall seem to have draped in a fidgety concern with a quietness that is alien to him and Zayn seem to be outright obnoxious - Perhaps the reason is that Liam is the only lucky one out of all five of them to not to come face to face with the wrath of the demon. But Louis is not sure which is worse, facing the monster or having to pick up the pieces, trying to bridge between friendships, work and public.

In the end, it's shocking actually, the unpleasant print that this whole thing had left on all of them one way or another. It felt like they've just hit an invisible wall of nothing - and had no clear idea how to pick them selves up and start pushing forth. And Louis did not know how to process with it. 

 

 

...............................................

 

 

Harry still needed rest - but by the first week, he seemed to slowly return to much of himself again.

Perhaps knowing that it is all over must have helped... though Harry seemed somewhat impassive about the fate of his tormentors, even confused perhaps - Louis really couldn't guess. He seemed conflicted, like it gave him less resolution and much apprehension. Now it's all gone and settled for everyone else, Harry seem to struggle finding sense or reason for any of it, even for his own condition.

Doctors brings it up as a state of a survivor's guilt and a part of his PTSD, have to be the only survivor between Danny Ray, Moth and him - which Louis feels absurd in a way. In the other side, Harry seems too anxious to be completely taken off the meds or care... which they all knew would not happen any time soon. But Louis feels he could return to his normal medication and life soon enough.

Harry's nightmares returns, of course, to much of everyone's dismay... easily kicking him to panics and insomnia. Harry hated nights; sleeping, silence, dark and strangers - diving him to a state of anxiety, Louis could tell. And he seem fidgety and restless without much reason, especially when alone.

 

During the day time, Harry is much calmer. He seem to prefer company... mainly when it's family and Liam, Niall, Zayn or Lou, Grimy, Glenn & Jeff. He becomes friendly enough with nurses, who constantly seem to be charmed by him while Louis rolled his eyes. It was nothing new to any of them.

Harry seem to like it when Lottie and Gemma sat around him teasing Lou or chat about god knows what between them. He loved it when Anne and Louis' mom brought him milkshakes after walking around hospital premises together. And surely he loved it when Grimy strolled joking around with him, or when Liam, Louis, Zayn and Niall piled into his room sneaking in beers - though Louis forbade him to even touch a bottle because he is still on medication.

Niall easily hits it off with Harry again - perhaps more like he used to before all of this. It's a strange relationship they had, like two youngest in the family - open and easy, with less things not said in between. And that's how Niall goes for it this time around - hugging him in and telling him how glad he is to see him safe, telling him how frightened he was for Harry in those last seconds before Alex barged in to save them all. Louis doesn't know how, or why... but it works with Harry.

Next thing they know is two of them hanging out with ridiculous sessions of scrabble on bed or Niall getting an eager Harry to join in strumming the guitar.

 

 

.................................................

 

 

"Is Wibble a word?"

Niall asks biting his lip - not taking his eyes off the scrabble board he had brought with him as usual. It is a typical day with Louis fussing over the Harry's medication in the morning and Harry being chatty with the nurses to annoy Louis as payback. Only thing different is that it is his last day in the hospital, finally being discharged after almost one and a half weeks. Anne and Robin had dropped out for settle stuff in Harry's London house, that they will be moving into now instead of their old house which they would never step into again.

Liam Zayn and Niall had dropped in as usual, bringing them lunch and beers. Niall and Harry's version of celebrating the discharge has been a round of scrabble and sushi because they were not permitted out. And Louis Liam and Zayn had passed the chance to join them, obviously, instead watching them shoot each other with ridiculous words. They were actually running out of words now though - especially Niall.

 

"Wibble?"Niall asks again.

Harry hums, placing down his letters without looking up at Niall.

"Wibble wobble" Liam says taking a sip from his coffee, "I know more words than you, Nialler. I should be playing that instead of you"

Louis couldn't help but snort. Niall raises his brow at Liam not saying 'I love to see you try' out loud. Peeking towards Harry's side, he then almost chokes at his own breath. 

 "Ses-qu-ipli-dalin- ... what? What the hell, Harry?" Niall yaps with a horrified look at him.

"S-e-s-q-u-i-p-e-d-a-l-i-a-n." Harry says dully. "It means long words" he simply shrugs.

"What are you reading? The dictionary? Jesus, nerd. You need to adjust your mode normal before you step out this place, you know that right?"

Harry smiles, his dimples popping out to make Louis' heart go all warm. He shakes his head at Niall's dramatics, adoring the way Niall always find a way to make Harry smile.

They don't play for much longer because Harry starts to go all sleep heavy, probably due to meds. He yawns sleepily, giving Louis a dirty look as if to say it's his fault. He had tried to stay off meds today, saying it's his last day and all... but Louis hadn't agreed. Harry is always complaint about it and Louis do understand his dislike for being kept half minded - but at the same time, he doesn't want Harry to endure the consequences if he skipped the doses - not to say that nurses will allow it anyway.

 

Niall starts collecting the pieces of scrabble with Harry's help, fussing over the colours. And Liam tells that three of them should be get going soon.

"Meeting Mcgee and Robert in a bit." he says cracking his neck to sides with a sound. For a moment his face crosses with an unpleasant expression. Louis nods not asking anything else, not really wanting to be in on stuff while they are still here.

The management had been tame this time around for Louis' surprise, giving Harry his space and time without nagging.

From the bits and pieces he collected over hearing the boys, he knew something was up,  though Zayn and Liam both told him otherwise, quite unconvincingly. Three of them were good enough to not to worry him or Harry about anything until now. And Louis is thankful for them for that. Whatever is going on, Louis can worry about it after tomorrow, after getting Harry out of here. What matters is that he is not yet being called, nor Harry for that matter - meaning the three boys would handle it.

 

"We should get going, boys" Liam says, not really making an effort to get up himself.

 To his right, Zayn sighs, sat between him and Liam and he looks eager to go as same as Harry is eager for his medication. Zayn had barely spoken two words since they arrived today, which is not that unusual.Looking at him, Louis can't help wonder what it is bothering him to be this obnoxious. He had become more and more silent within past few days and his continued less engagement had started to worry Louis... even he did not try to ask him about it. He would come to them to talk once he's up for it - Louis knew.

But what he doesn't expect is for Zayn to do that at that moment; quite abrasively

 

"I want to tell you lads something." Zayn says, not really looking at any of them. His voice is calm but Louis could sense a hesitance in it. "Because we are all here"

Louis just watches him - and across him, Liam stares at Zayn as well, perhaps a little too concerned for Louis' liking. In the bed, Niall doesn't even spare a glance up. He keeps throwing game pieces at Harry to collect as if he did not hear him, or care. Louis looks between the three… wondering if they have fought about something.

 

Zayn straightens up in his chair, twiddling his thumbs... not really looking up when as he speaks without much rush.

 

"I'm leaving the band."

 

For a second Louis thinks he heard it wrong. Or maybe this is some sort of a joke.

 

"I - ummm. I'm done." Zayn says - he looks up at Louis who stares at him right back.

"What -" Louis starts with a sudden scorn in his eyes, but Liam gets up in a rush as if to shut him off.

"We should get going." he says, "We are late. Zayn's just having a flush. Will talk this through later." he says checking his watch.

"T's no flush, I'm done", Zayn repeats. And the calm finality in his voice makes Louis stare at him. But Zayn keeps looking at Liam daringly under his brows.

 "W - what do you mean done ?" Louis hits, knowing the last thing they should do is get worked up here. But he couldn't help it, not with something ridiculous as this. Irritation and absurdity of it gets better of him. Zayn looks at him again, but it's Niall who answers;

 "He's dropping us and running to Shahid is what he's meaning. Fucker's filled his head with enough coke" he says continuing to pack the game up without looking in their direction and Louis couldn't for the life of him understand where this all is coming from.

 

"No need to flip on him. He's got nothing to do with it."

 

"Hell he doesn't." mumbles Liam turning away with crossed arms.

 

"What is this? Out of the blue?" Louis asks again staring at Zayn.

 

"I've decided for some time now." he gets up, sweeping his hands into his pockets. There seemed so much to look at on the floor for him suddenly.

 

"We just released an album. Called. Four? And now suddenly this is not for you?" Louis asks though he should have not. Not in front of Harry. "What. Is this a fucking PR stunt?"

 

"I'm not up for this anymore. I'm quitting. I'm done."

 

"Zayn" Liam says warningly.

 

"What are you talking about?" Harry's voice comes from the corner of the bed, making Louis tighten his jaws. This is the last thing they should do in here. Is Zayn insane?

Zayn looks hesitant for a bit, but he looks at Harry without a word.

"You are not quitting." Harry says, his green eyes glaring at Zayn.

Zayn bites his lip, muscles tight on his face. He sighs, watching him with an unmoved expression.

"You are not quitting." Harry says again daringly, his brows angling with clear anger in his face.

"I'm sorry, Harry... but I'm not -"

"I came to London... You. Made me come. Here. You told me not to q-uit." Harry adds - tremble in his voice a clear signal that he should stop this right now.

 

"We'll talk about this later tomorrow."Louis says getting up himself. "Zayn you can't-"

 

"You signed the fucking contract!!" Harry nearly screams, cutting Louis off,  "You said we need to get out of this together!" hurt scraped the room with his sound and none of of the others spoke a word, staring at Zayn's face who looks back at Harry shamelessly.

 

"I signed the contract to save you, Harry. Nothing more. I never agreed to bringing you to London this soon ... ask them." Zayn points at Liam who just shakes his head. "I talked you into coming because you were going to give up. You were ready to hide for the rest of your life. That was about you... but this - this is about me. I never wanted to be hauled into this. Not after what happened. I didn't want to commit to an album. I wanted out since you left for LA leaving everyone out ."

 

From the bed, Harry glares at Zayn, bitterness and betrayal clear in his face.

 

"I'm sorry, alright? We've been trying this, hell, I've been trying. But this doesn't do good to any of us."

 

"And breaking up now does?" Harry hits back as the other three keeps looking between them nervously. The anger and hurt visible in his thin skin. But Zayn keeps a steady eye on Harry's face as if he's in a battlefield. "You are stepping down so you could get your feet down to go solo ahead of us!"

 

"Harry. Stop this. We'll talk about this later." Louis says biting his lip. This is a dangerous road. Even Niall mumbles Harry to calm down. But he doesn't. He glares right back at Zayn and continues;

 

"You are just using this to walk right out to you can back track whatever we'll do next, so you can go out and talk us down to get yourself out there."

 

Zayn looks murderous for a bit. But then he hisses a smirk.

 

"Really, Harry? Do you want to go down that road?" he says taking a step towards Harry. "It's not me who had it all planned to go out. Would you be here still if none of this happened? Reckon Jeff won't be that happy to find out that I got out before you... nor the management. It's you who they want to be their cash cow after all. Not the rest of us."

In an instant Harry looks taken aback as Niall and Liam gazes at Zayn questionably. But it's not at Zayn who Harry looks at anymore, with glassy and betrayed eyes. It's at Louis. Only Louis knew about Harry's desperate measures to get away from his contract... the harsh ties the management had secured him with. Harry trusted Louis with it to not to turn back on him, to keep it to himself.

"When you do it, it's because how pressured you are and how harassed you are, is it? but when it's one of us, it's because we are selfish pricks. I'm sorry to crush the dreams... but I have to do what's best for me first for once."

Harry just stares at Zayn and he back at him, everything between their bond starting to stumble down like a wreckage. Harry then takes his glare to Louis.

 

"Look, we'll get to this tomorrow once we are out of here. But we three need to get going for the meeting." Liam says, sensing a sudden elephant in the room. Though his tone and gaze tunes in a sort of weariness which says he did not appreciate what he just heard. Niall too raises his brows without a word getting down the bed as Harry continues to stare at Louis almost livid.

 

"I've already sent my letters to Modest and Syco." he says gravely. "I  don't need to meet them. I did yesterday already" he looks at Liam and then again at Harry. "I'm truly sorry."

 

All eyes on him again, Zayn just spares a look at Louis who wanted to punch his face right there. Zayn reaches the chair he had been sitting earlier to get his phone. "I'll see you'll later." he says walking towards the door.

 

"If you fucking leave this room, Zayn-" Harry says in a low, dangerous tone this time. It sounds almost threatening.. It only makes Zayn pause for a second. But then he continues to the door.

"Don't you dare leave, Zayn! Don't you dare leave this fucking room like this!" Harry cries his voice right on the edge, angry tears already dripping down his face.

But Zayn doesn't stop. He doesn't even look back at them as he mumbles a far fetched mumble of a  'sorry' as he walks out shutting the door.

 

"Zayn!" Harry calls one last time just to the closed door.

 

..............

 

 

Louis strides after him, slamming the door behind him. He catches Zayn's walking form in the empty corridor, on the way to the elevators.

"What the fuck are you doing?!" he cries as he closes in on him.

Zayn doesn't stop. Doesn't look back , as if he knew Louis would be following him. He just keep walking, shoulders slumped, Hands dived deep into his pockets.

"Zayn, what the fucking hell are you doing?" Louis asks this time, more desperate than angry.

"Quitting." Zayn hits without a trace of emotion.

It wasn't hard to catch up to him. Louis grabs and turns him to him, pushing him to the wall.

"Explain to me. In English. What the fuck you just did there!!"

 

Zayn just stares at him with a hint of irritation in his eyes.

"I'm sorry, alright? I just can't fucking do this anymore."

Louis hisses a sarcastic laugh. "You think we do? But we have a fucking contract. We have an album we just committed to. We are not five year olds to flip and take off when we don't like the flavour of icecream in the party! Harry's been limping around since we dragged him back and he's finally found his ground when everything went to shit. Again. And how do you think you taking off is going to make it? The shit you just said to him in there? Are you out of your mind??!! I trusted you, Zayn. Goddamnit!!!"

 

"Look, I'm sorry about it. But I'm out. I'm sorry. I'm really done."

Zayn tries to shove him away but Louis pushes him back to the wall.

"Don't fuck with me, Zayn. Fucking tell me what the shit is going on with you!"

"Told you! I just need out!"

"Like hell, that's the reason. What, did you get a better deal or somethin? Don't tell me the management is willing to just let you take off."

Looking away, Zayn runs his hand along his face - letting it fall to a side.

Louis just stares, taking a step back. "What did you let them have?"

Zayn sighs, "I'll sign with one of their other brands for three years, and there are some payments for breaching the contract."

"How much?"

Zayn crosses his arms, leaning back. He just stares at Louis dully.

"How much, Zayn?"

"About one third of my past earnings... and half a percent from whatever that comes. I don't care."

It's Louis' time to stare this time. "Why, fuck - Zayn? Are you out of your mind??!! You can't ... this fucking is absurd. Are you-"

"I saw him in Simon's office a week ago, alright?!!"

Louis tightens his brow. "Who?!"

Zayn just hisses irritated and looks away from Louis.

"Saw who, Zayn?"

"The man who took me off in the warehouse. Eric Serepisos . Moth's half brother. I saw him coming out of Simon's office the other day when I dropped in to meet Stacy."

Louis just keep staring at him. "What do you mean?"

"I saw him leaving the office after meeting Simon."

An unknown fear creeps into Louis' mind. "What? What are you even saying?"

"I don't know alright?!! I have no clue what I'm thinking. But don't you think it's fucking absurd that Harry gets taken just a week after? Why would Simon meet him? How does he know him?"

Taking a step back, Louis stares at Zayn with wide eyes.

He gets a sudden feeling of nausea... something between dread and shock. For past week Simon had visited Harry more than twice... gone out of his way sometimes to talk to doctors, to accommodate things around for Harry's family. It seemed like another side of the man, a one that had concern for them other than authority. Simon is a money minded prick... but he couldn't wrap anything Zayn is saying around his head. What he's suggesting is not even possible.

"H-How do you know it was him?" Louis asks.

 "Do you think I'll forget a face that drugged me and threatened me like that. I spent more than a day with him in the fucking car half drugged. I can't forget his face even if I wanted to."

"But..."

"I thought I was hallucinating too, alright? So I went to Alex last week. Made him show me the stuff. Images from the records. It's him."

"Are you saying Simon was in on it.??!!" he asks again staring at him blankly. Zayn doesn't say a word - just stares at him. It is as if the world had come to a pause. Louis felt as if he's choking.

"Did you tell Alex?"

"No, Louis. I didn't." Zayn says walking away from the wall. He starts phasing.

"I'm a fucking coward and a singer... in a boyband. I have enough stuff that can be used to cut me off. So I'm not sure if I want to bang my head in a rock, alright? It's my word against Simons - who can kick me out of everything with just flick. But I saw what I saw, alright!? Why would Simon meet him? How did the security know to change your fucking location around London when they were coming for you? How the fuck did they conveniently know to keep fucking five units in guard with Harry the same day they took Harry. I'm not sure I want answers. Maybe Simon got a fucking tip. But why is he acting like a guilty fucking mutt around Harry? I don't want to dig. I'm not bloody police and I'm not a detective. But I'll do anything to get Harry out of this contract I trapped him in when he didn't want it in the first place. I'll do what I can to get him as far away from Simon or the Modest as possible."

Louis stares at him dumbfounded. He watches him phase around with no words forming in his mind. He didn't know what to say.

"You are quitting to get him out..." Louis says in the end. "But..."

 Zayn stares back at him as Louis keeps looking at him unblinking.

"If I quit, the contract is already breached. It won't come unvalued but it'll have to go to a redraft. You four can push and make it shorter, looser. You'll will be able to get out sooner. And I will follow some time after when the time's done.

 Louis keeps staring at him -  almost guiltily now.

"Why - why won't you just tell him? we'll tell him. The things you said to him in there... he'll hate you, Zayn. You how he is. You know he won't let it go once he's hurt. We need to tell him."

"No..." Zayn says shaking his head. "You can't tell him, or the other two. At least don't tell Liam and Niall yet. If Harry knew any of this, it will kill him. If he even got a hint that Simon or Modest or someone he know had anything to do with it at all, it'll drive him mad. He'll have enough to deal with those leaks once he gets out tomorrow without this."

"What? What images?"

"Have you seen the bloody images that's been passed around the net, Louis? Of him? The ones that we've been beating our asses to cover up?"

"You said it's some photoshopped crap."

"Did you see them?" Zayn asks point blank again.

"No. I don't have my phone. I didn't care to get another. I know Gemma is furious about it but-"

Reaching for his phone in the pocket, Zayn taps around, until he finds what he searches - and passes it to Louis. His fingers tremble as he hands it over to Louis, who stares at Zayn with a hesitation. When he looks at the screen, Louis forgets what to feel - or breathe, shooting his eyes again at Zayn who stares at him pitifully, concerning. There were images - taken in probably in a setup that shows a little background. The content in images, with a guy and several women, are good enough to match x-rated porn... only that guy in them  strikingly looks like Harry. It is Harry.

Pictures look slightly grainy, probably to look authentic, but they were as clear as anything. Tousled curly hair, tattoos, his body marks... everything clear enough to not to be mistaken. His face, expression set to clear sexual ecstasy, drunk in pleasure among the naked female bodies around him. But knowing Harry ... seen him in the heights of arousal in every possible way, Louis could notice the sagginess of limbs and a high that could only mean one thing. He is far from conscious in these.

"Those were posted out there the second day he was in the hospital. We've sent statements saying these are not real and that they've been manipulated. But you and me both know that's not true. That's Harry, Louis. Plain as day.."

Louis keeps scrolling, biting his lip with a raising heart. Harry had mentioned couple of time to his therapist and Louis that there were cameras around him in that warehouse. That they recorded him while hurting him... but this - this is -

"He's been drugged. And they've used him like a piece of meat -" Zayn says, in an uptight tone. Louis just looks up at him again, blood rushing into his brain.

"Do you think Harry will not know what this is at a one look, Louis? He'll know exactly who did this. Planned this. Moth wanted to fuck him over. He wanted to kill you so Harry would lose it. He might have failed. But what do you think it'll do to Harry, if he so much as had a hint that Simon or anyone in the management had anything to do with this in any way?"

"What do you expect me to do Zayn? Just shut up and play cool about this? I'll fucking kill Simon if he had anything to do with it."

"Are you taking the risk of blowing it all for him, Louis? That psycho, Nickels Moth is dead! Harry's getting better, knowing he's safe now. Do you want to tell him that the fucking boss he's in a contract with may have sold him out to god knows what?" Zayn says as Louis grips his head with both his hands, pulling on his hair.

"Should what happened in those two weeks ruin his entire life? He can do so much more, alright? We all can. But he can really shake it and make a mark because that's who he is. Let him fucking live and build the career he deserve, Louis. Let him fucking live!"

Zayn looks at Louis for a moment longer and Louis stars back at him.

Louis knew Zayn is telling the truth. Harry wouldn't be able to face a knowledge of another betrayal. Not from someone like Simon - even if it is true or not. They can out the suspicions and fight for it over Zayn's words on Simon - which Louis hundred percent believes to be true. But will they be able to win with it? What would Simon do, if they ever tried to bring his empire down based on it? Can they even go public with it without revealing what happened in the two weeks they were kidnapped? Would Harry endure it all over again? ?

 

Everything hitting hard in his mind, Louis watches as Zayn take few steps back and turn - walking away towards elevators again.

 

It's the last time he sees Zayn for a long time. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

                      

 

 

                                                                                        19. Walking In The Wind

 

"One Direction as a foursome releases their fifth and last album, Made in the AM, six months since their ironic fourth album 'Four'. After the rift made by Zayn's departure, the remaining four decides on an indefinite break, marking an end of an era."

- News on Entertainment

 

Lights are still dim. But they could see the judges, the crowd, cameras and everything else as a documentation of their five year journey plays in the screen behind them. Standing on the x factor stage for their last performance, Louis finds a shiver running in his hands with the weight of the past years, especially the last one.

He steals a glance at Harry who is gripping his mike with eyes cast down.

People are going to go crazy for him in that suite, Louis thinks with a sinking feeling in his heart, though he smiles despite of it. It going to be their last night together for sometime, having agreed to take a break from each other along with the hiatus. They probably deserve it... after being tossed around in the game of profit and loss for convenience for so long.

Would they survive it?

Louis had no clue. But who is he to refuse Harry, when he asks. Who is he to decide otherwise when both of them had the right to do what's best for themselves?

He tries not to dwell on it now - they'll have the whole night.

 

To his right, he smile at Niall who is biting his lip with glassy eye already and Liam who is staring into the crowds - pausing his gaze at Simon for a moment. Louis for the hundredth time wishes if Zayn's there too.

But he is not.

Chaos that followed Zayn's sudden departure from the band dragged until the release of the latest album. Even then, it is one of the hot topics for the media to grab each and every word they had to say about it and capture each of their emotions. There was much anger and disappointment between everyone that, though Louis knew what really went down, he played along with Zayn to stage the rivalry they were meant to have.

As promised, Louis had not told much of anyone about the conversation they had in that empty corridor of that hospital. Not least Harry. There is a clear love lost between them, as Louis thought it would be... or from Harry's side to be fair. Harry held onto Zayn's abrasive words from that day like a tattoo he could not get rid of. He still did. In a way Louis felt that anger helped to cope with everything else... including the damage caused by the leaked images.

Of course Harry knew what they were at a one glance - sending him to a complete outburst. But with everything else hurling around them with Zayn's departure, the leaked images became an upsurge that quickly lost public interest. Probably the main reason being management setting up a case against a porn artist who had similar features, to take the blame, confessing it is him in the pictures. Though there were conspirators who said otherwise, the media followed the maintained story, probably with Simon's visible influence. And Louis could not say he was not glad - no matter how.

 

"Here we go then" Liam mumbles, covering his mike to not to catch sound as he does - eyes still at the audience - as the last of the clips plays.

With a deafening applause, the video behind them ends and the stage lights sparkles on them like stars. Faces in the audience looks sombre almost, watching the four boys take on the stage for a one last time. The starting claps to 'History' starts, followed by the deep, scratchy voice of Harry.

 

And Louis knows that it's the end.

 

A week ago you said to me, "Do you believe I'll never be too far?"

If you're lost, just look for me, You'll find me in the region of the summer stars

The fact that we can sit right here and say goodbye means we've already won,

The necessity for apologies between you and me, b aby, there is none...

 

We had some good times, didn't we? We had some good tricks up our sleeve...

Goodbyes are bittersweet, but it's not the end,

I'll see your face again...

                          - Walking in the Wind, Made In The AM, One Direction, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

..........................................

 

 

2016/ December

 

Someone's moving outside
The lights come on and down the drive
I forget you're not here when I close my eyes
Do you still think of me sometimes?

                      - Too much to ask, Flicker, Niall Horan

 

Life's funny sometimes - ironic, uncertain and irrelevant.

News of his mother's terminal illness makes Louis realize that. In the most hopeless way.

But he deals with it. Because that's what he always does. Deal with stuff.

 

He only tells his closest friends - including Liam and Niall. Hiatus had been good for both of them, unlike for him. And he hates that his misfortunes have to affect them.

He drops everything he's been doing, everything he's been wallowing about... as well as Lottie, spending time with their mother and the young twins despite her objections. She's been there in his life like a constant and he knew he had been her star since she had him. Once, long time back there was a time that it was just two of them. He is her oldest, and the love of her life... everyone knew that. There was a bond between them that he dreaded to lose. But he knew he had no choice.

'You need to get on with your life, Lou. I'll be gone soon and I need you to have moved on when that happens. I've lived to see you become someone many mothers could dream of. I'm a chapter in your life - like in your song. When it closes, another one would begin.' She says to him as she gets admitted to the hospital for the final time.  

The day the doctors inform him that it's highly unlikely that his mother would stay alive for the x factor tribute performance he had effortly puts together with Steve, for her, is the day he truly cries. It is as if a switch went off in his body, beating down the bits of strength, patience and whatever the hope he had about anything worth fighting. He leaves the hospital after four days that moment, not wanting his younger sisters to see him break down like that. He doesn't go to see his mother either who would want him let her go and live his life. He just can't.

 

He enters his London flat with a broken heart and a worn out body - ready to give up. Ready to curl and sleep until he'll have to get up to go to her funeral. He doesn't answer to his phone or landline, which keeps ringing time after time. Mainly because he couldn't get him to haul himself up from the floor where he just sits in the lounge - looking at the framed photos of her and the rest of the family in the dim dark light.

He doesn't know how long he stays like that or if it is still the evening, or night - or even the day after.

He doesn't hear a light knocking on the door nor he notice the door lock drop after sometime. He doesn't realize someone coming in until he hears slow footsteps behind him.

"Louis?"

It's the rough, morbid tone that stills him inside. The voice he craved unlike anything else in the entire world, yet thought he'd never be able to hear it like this. He turns, as slowly as possible - knowing that it's probably just his mind playing tricks like always. There is no way he could be here in his house... no way.

But there he stood, as he turned - in his long blue coat and half unbuttoned white shirt loose on his black slim jeans - looking at him with concern drenched in his features, even in the dark. For a moment Louis forgets to breathe, because there's no way Harry is just standing there in front of him like a phantom from his dreams.

 "Louis?" he calls again carefully, sliding his bag over and letting it fall by his side.

 Louis just blinks once... twice - still unable to believe what he is seeing.

"Your hair..." he tries, looking at his shortly trimmed head with eyes wide. He couldn't move even if he wanted to.

"I- I cut it off" he says taking careful steps towards him. I ...umm had to cut it off" he says getting closer. Louis could see the green eyes brimmed with tears even in the dark as Harry sits down beside him.

"Why?"

"I - I did some... shoots - I ... you'll see ... soon." he says, "Louis, I- I'm so sorry."

 

Louis just stares at him - at Harry who he hadn't seen over a year now. Apart from very brief messages and random fan sightings, in random places in the world. Harry had gone missing from the entire world of him. But now out of the blue, he's here in front of him like he never really left.

 

"Where were you?" he asks as Harry wraps his arms around him squeezing him tight. He presses his eyes shut, placing his arms around him, leaning his weight on him as Harry mumbles "I'm here now. I'm here to stay" with a tear soaked hiss. He presses him tighter as he would never let him go again.

 

Perhaps, like his mother said, it's another beginning after all. Louis thinks letting himself be embraced in his arms.

 

 

You will find me... In places that we've never been,

For reasons we don't understand.

Walking in the wind...

And I know we'll be alright... just close your eyes and see

I'll be by your side ... Any time you're needing me

 

                  - Walking in the Wind, Made In The AM, One Direction, 2015

 

 

 

  

 

 

Epilogue - Set 5 years later

 

 

 

"When is the flight?" Louis asks as Harry keeps scrolling through emails in the car.

 

"Ummm... eight I guess. Jeff said he'll pick me up around half past." he says not taking his eyes off the screen as his short curls danced to the wind rushing through the open window. He had trimmed it short for the movie he's about to do next. The shoots will be starting next week somewhere in Africa this time. Harry had tricked him to go with him for a week... which Louis is not sure how or why he agreed, piled with work in his studio up to his neck. He had two bands to look after for god's sake.

"Niall's going to have your ass." Louis says leaning back as the car pulls into the holiday villa. They've been planning this holiday for months now and it had been a bitch to get everyone to a one place with their busy schedules. Harry had postposed a recording of his own to come.

 "He can have my ass... owwww" he whines as Louis kicks him.

 "Out big boy. You are mine tonight. No exceptions." Louis says opening the door as the car stops. "Thanks Greg." he says walking around to the boot to pick his bag - already excited to see everyone.

"Tooomooo!!" he hears Liam as he dives in deep, dragging the bags out. "Where's your fucking movie star? Don't tell me he stood us up this time as well."

 

"Watch it, Leema" Harry says stepping down, placing his fedora on the head. "I skipped no birthdays because I was busy touring in LA."

He hugs Liam deep though, shaking them to sides. "It's good to see you.."

 

"Haarrah!!" an excited voice calls from behind as Cheryl tries to slow down her three year old son running towards Harry."

"Heeey babes!!!" Harry cries excitedly as the little boy with brown eyes rushes in hugging his leg like a cub. Harry picks him up adoringly, "I missed you loads!! You have no idea!" he twirls around as the little boy giggles. "You up for a pick-a-ball in the beach, tiger?" he asks pinching his nose.

The kids giggles more, hands waving around. "Yeee!!"

Harry gives Cheryl a hug and winks at Liam who shakes his head.

"I sometimes wonder who the father is, you know?" he says earning a slap from Cheryl to back of his head. "He loves him more than me. It's fair I get jealous."

Harry snorts. "It's a gift Leema. kids love me. Don't you bud?"

"Yeee!!"

Liam rolls his eyes as Louis puts an arm around him, watching Harry taking the little guy towards the blue sunny beach.

"Who else is here?" Louis asks. "Gems called Harry to say they won't make it. Alex got hold up in Bristle so she's stuck with the baby."

"Ohh. She's going to miss out. Everyone else is here. You two were the last." Cheryl says.

"How's the drive? how long was it? five?"

"Four and a half maybe. T's not bad. Harry drove half the way. You know how he gets. Did Gigi come as well?"

"Nah. Think she's in Paris." Liam takes one of the bags from Louis as they step into the beach house.

 

"This place is cool" Louis says looking around the open set up.

"Wait till you see the view from the room. You two can take the third one. But the walls are thin. So behave. Some of us have kids to answer to." Liam says following behind.

 "Oiii Tommo!!" a very brunette Niall shouts from the deck outside.

Louis dumps the bags near the room door and steps out to see Niall and Zayn with the BBQ rack. Stan, Oli, James, Cam, Ben, Nick all too busy digging in to food to notice him. There were several of Liam's and Niall's friends there as well.

Louis hugs Niall first "Fucking finally, after months. Where's the curly one?"

"In the beach with Bear. He's booked a flight tomorrow morning."

"Git!" he curses, shaking his head and peeps through, shouting "Oii, Harleyy. Get in here. Lunch time!!!" 

Turning, Harry waves from a far, ankle deep in glistening sea water under a clear blue sky, Bear still in his arm.

 

Louis fist bumps James and pats Zayn at the back. "Alright?"

 Zayn smiles raising his glass. "Smoke or beer"

"Smoke?" he says sheepishly. He'd been off cigarettes for some months now. Nothing too intentional. Just trying to cut it off to minimal.

 

He steps down the deck following Zayn, taking a stick and lighting it up with Zayn's lighter.

They start walking along the golden shore.

"Thought Gigi will be here as well."

"She's working. Busy. I'm leaving for a shoot tomorrow as well."

"Ah... that's why the Irish didn't make too much fuss. I'm wondering which one you are going to choose between Armani or Warner soon. Seeing too much of you in Billys, bro. Next thing Gigs going to walk you in a ramp."

"As long as there's no heels or knickers." he snorts, taking a puff. "How's Harry?"

"Fine. Most of the time. Nuts. As usual. Busy. All the same... Ask him yourself."

Zayn smirks. "Rather let him live in the bubble. I'm jealous, remember? Niall's hit number one three times in US now. I might get jealous of him too."

"T's getting a little tired now, Zee."

"He's the one dragging it. Not me."

"Well, then tell him the freaking truth at least now."

"No." Zayn shakes his head looking back.

 

Louis follows his gaze, spotting Harry walking towards the wooden deck with Bear. Harry doesn't spare them a glance, probably because of Zayn. It's petty actually but nothing stands with the guys ego or stubbornness. Louis' not sure why Zayn is still holding this up... maybe he didn't want to bring it all up again, which he could relate to in a way. After Harry came back to his life with their family tragedy, both of them had never looked back. The Harry who came back from his secret vacation (to Jamaica, now Louis knew...) had fought, forgiven and buried his demons in a closet to never to open it. They never spoke of it. Not at all. Brewing his star power, Harry has been building his own way, away from his once keepers and bosses .

"It won't matter now. He's far from any of it as much as he could possibly could be."

Zayn sighs. "Guess we all are."

He sits down on the sand under the shade of palms. The wind breezes around them freely, making the leaves move to a rhythm.

Taking a long hit, Louis gazes into the horizon. "Who thought it would be possible? I mean from the part Harry's attending his second Oscars, no one thought all five of us would be meeting around bloody award shows long the years. It's mad when you think about it."

Zayn doesn't say anything, probably floating in his own pensive.

With all five of them in playing grounds on their own paths now, looking back, Louis doesn't know how they achieved what they have now. With all the fights, breakups, conflicts, rumors, fuckups, blood and demons... it all seem impossible even. But they all had made it out - not in a miracle but with their own hard work.  

"You should talk to him, you know? It's time we put all of this behind us, Zee."

 Zayn blows out smoke to the wind to catch. "Maybe" he says eyes fixed a far.

 

It's a bright day and the sun is detouring around the white pillowy clouds. Waves are mild and calling. A pretty good day for snorkelling, if anyone asked him. Pulling his flip flops off, Louis lays on the sand, looking up at the sky beyond the palms shading them. Thin cool sand felt nice on his skin, though it's going to get in to his hair and make a total mess. he doesn't really care.

"I'm going to ask him to marry me." Louis says then, casually.

 

Zayn looks at him with a calculated expression this time. "When?" he asks after few seconds.

 

"Tonight." Louis says, diving a hand into his pocket, touching the velvet box carefully. It's sad that Gems won't be here for it but he won't find another appropriate time, or a crowd than this. It's the family that brought them together... and kept them together.

 

"Good." Zayn says looking back at the sea, watching the waves slyly hitting the shore.

 

                                                                                                                                       - End