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Crimson Delicious

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Louis was really good at deciding things on the fly. Off the cuff. Out of the blue. However you want to splice it, whichever cliché you want to use, whatever, he was good at that. Great, even. That was why straight out of college (NYU Class of 2012, hip hip hoorizzle, and all) he was offered a job at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Okay, admittedly, he’d interned there during the summer between his junior and senior years so they knew who he was and knew how awesome he was. But, whatever. He basically had a job! He was offered a job! Immediately! So it was cool, and he was, in actuality, overjoyed. He used his skills and decided, right there, of course I’ll interview, wow, Peter Travers, hey, I know that guy.

(He got the job.)

The first thing his first day in his first office:

“Lou-WEE TOMLINSON!”

He was a bit startled. Just a bit. He didn’t spill his coffee down his starched white collared button-up shirt or anything, he honestly didn’t. (But, ow, it burned.)

“Y-yes?” He said, not even exactly knowing where the voice was coming from. He hadn’t turned on the light yet, and his chest was burning because his coffee had still been hot, okay, and holy shit was this what it felt like to work at Rolling Stone? Was he going to spill things all over the place every morning when he walked in?

“Pick up the phone, you English piece of scat,” the phone said, probably only 56% jokingly.

Louis flicked the light switch on, set his coffee down, and picked up the phone. He was glad there wasn’t someone waiting for him in his darkened office and it had just been the phone. He’d actually been a bit afraid of that for a second there. Telephones are often less threatening than actual human beings, so this was a good thing that was happening here.

“Hello, Taibbi,” Louis said, as professionally as one can after having just been called a piece of scat, um, by his esteemed employer.

“Hey, Louis. Listen. I got something I really need you to do. I didn’t mean to call you that, by the way. You’re not scat. You’re actually quite nice. And attractive, but that’s not the point here. Okay, listen. The point here is that you’re getting inducted Rolling Stone-style and we’ve got you a six-page spread in the December 8th issue. That’s not the issue we’re working on currently, but the one after that, so about a month from now.”

“Oh,” Louis said, a little dumbfounded. “I can tot—I can definitely do that for you, Mr. Taibbi. What’m I writing it on?”

Matt Taibbi clucked his tongue once. “Call me Taibbi. I liked that when you answered the phone.”

“Okay,” Louis said, shrugging agreeably even though Matt couldn’t see him.

“It’s the cover story, by the way,” Taibbi said. “Let me know when you figure it out. I’ll approve it, make sure it’s someone current, you know?”

“Of course, Taibbi,” Louis said. “I can do that.” He breathed in, a long breath full of life, because he suddenly felt that if he did not breathe he was actually going to die. Breathe in life, exhale out carbon dioxide. Louis couldn’t remember if that was something he learned in science class or not, but it made him feel a bit better in any regard.

“Great, Louis. Have a nice day now. Love you.”

Louis stammered a bit, probably said “you have love a nice great too,” or something, and hung up, because what the hell? God. He was going to have to learn to handle Matt Taibbi in the very near future, because this was already becoming a thing. He was Louis Tomlinson, though, and he knew he could do it. He could learn to do anything. He learned how to knit just from a short series of YouTube videos. He learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube using that bullshit algorithm booklet they stick in the package. He learned how to do calculus by sitting in class in high school and learning calculus. Obviously, he could do anything.

He sat down at his relatively empty desk, finally relaxing for a second. He was going to need a different shirt; that was the first thing. Maybe he’d be able to swing by his apartment at lunch. Or maybe he could get Niall to bring him one…he picked up the phone.

“The fuck’ya doing, Louis?” Niall said, answering after three rings, his voice groggy and confused.

“Good morning my sweet, sweet roommate,” Louis said, grinning. “Terribly sorry to wake you at such a horrid hour, half-eight in the A.M, but I need to ask you a mutually beneficial favor.”

Niall groaned. “What. I’m tired.”

“I understand that, love. But I need you to bring me another shirt. Please?”

Niall groaned again. “Seriously?”

“Niall, I spilled coffee all over myself! I’m probably suffering from, from burns!” Louis was running out of sweet talk and scrabbling for purchase.

“You’re probably fine, Lou,” Niall said, and he yawned.

Louis whimpered quietly. It was a fake whimper, but Louis learned how to act watching the pros. Niall would never be able to tell it wasn’t real.

“Please?” he said pitifully.

“God, okay, it’s just down the block. I’m dropping it off at the front desk. You’re forever indebted to me, asshole.”

Louis did a little victory dance. “You’re the best roommate in the history of roommates. Ever,” he said. Niall sighed a little and hung up.

Okay, Louis thought, that was taken care of. All he had to do now was figure out who he was going to write his goddamn article on.

---

The front desk sent his shirt up with a note from Niall.

“I BELIEVE YOU SAID MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL AT SOME POINT IN THE CONVERSATION. I MAY BE TIRED AND/OR HUNGOVER BUT I AM NOT STUPID. xx Niall”

Louis just laughed and went to go change. He’d have to get Niall a chocolate croissant or something on his way home. Niall liked chocolate croissants. That would most probably appease him.

Once his shirt was not stained with coffee, he went back to his still relatively empty office (he’d have to bring in pictures and colored pens and a whiteboard or something, it looked like a dentist’s waiting room in there. Minus the “Brush & Floss!” posters and SELF magazines on the table, of course. Regardless, it was empty and devoid of emotion and Louis needed some sort of inspiration and color to do his artistic journalism thing, alright?) and sat at his computer, clicking around absently on Minesweeper as he thought about the yet unknown subject of his cover story. He went on the actual Rolling Stone website to see who the past few issues were about, to see if that would jog his imagination. Scrolling down, he saw Adele, Taylor Swift, and Barack Obama, all pretty predictable people. He wanted to do something unique, though, something…interesting. It was his first article, after all, and he did need to make an impression.

He went to an entertainment news website of no particular trademark and clicked a tab called “Bad Girls and Boys.” He grinned and figured if anyone asked anything, he could just say, oops, my finger slipped. He liked this. Someone kind of bad would be fun, especially after Taylor Swift being on the cover, goodness.

He read the headlines.

AMANDA BYNES ARRESTED FOR YET ANOTHER DUI

“She’s not even famous anymore,” he murmured.

KANYE AND KIM GO KOOKOO

“That doesn’t even make sense,” he mumbled.

HARRY STYLES DOES THE DIRTY WITH OPRAH WINFREY?

“Shit,” he whispered. “This is new.” He clicked the article. It was very short, and there was a picture of a confused Oprah and a blurry, terribly-cropped insert of this Harry Styles guy under her right boob.

Harry Styles, enigmatic singer of Crimson Delicious, was seen out and about with Oprah Winfrey last night around 11:50 P.M., near her home in Malibu. Sources say he has been sleeping with her for a few weeks now, despite their age difference and contrasting fame levels. The keyboardist of Crimson D., Liam Payne, has told sources at E! News that Harry has been very distant lately and only cares about watching reruns of Oprah. “He sits on the couch all day, eating chocolate-covered pretzels and watching talk shows,” Payne, 24, says. “But that’s Harry, you know? Ever since his 22nd birthday.”

We weren’t able to contact Mr. Styles, but that distinct, rocky voice of his in his voicemail message did betray some sort of allegiance to Oprah. “Don’t call back, please,” the message growls. “I’m busy with something.”

This is the first anyone has seen—or heard—of the elusive Styles since last spring when he got stuck in a revolving door in Miami. We will be watching out for him in the near future.

“Christ,” Louis said to himself. “This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.”

He went to YouTube and searched for Crimson Delicious.

---

“Harry Styles,” Louis said into the phone.

Matt Taibbi grunted. “What’re those?”

Louis sighed. “He’s not a ‘those,’ he’s a ‘he.’ Harry Styles. Crimson Delicious. They’ve just come out with a new album, I think it’s their second, and they’ve got that one song on the radio right now, yeah? And no one knows anything about the band themselves, not like we know everything about Rihanna and everything about Taylor Swift, so it’s kind of cool. Everyone knows the lead singer is majorly good-looking, though, but that’s all we know. I found articles about him allegedly sleeping with Oprah and buying out four Taco Bell franchises?”

“I,” Taibbi said.

“It all sounds like bullshit, and he never goes in when the band does interviews, except for one that I found, and that was a nightmare, and I just want to be the one to go in and talk to him and see why he’s so elusive to the press?”

Taibbi was quiet for a few seconds. “Maybe he’s shy?”

“Taibbi. You’ve heard of Crimson Delicious, haven’t you? They’re kind of shit, but they’ve had at least 3 songs on Top 40 stations in the past year. So they’re relevant enough. Plus, I’ll get to go in and clear up all these stupid rumors about him, and we’ll have an extremely exclusive article.”

“You,” Taibbi paused, and Louis thought: the tables have turned. No longer does Taibbi triumph over Tomlinson. At least not during this phone call. “You have a good point. You said he went into one interview? How did that go? Where was that?”

“It was some thing at a radio station. It was really bad. I watched the video on YouTube. He wasn’t, like, shy by any means, nor was he hostile, or anything like that. He was just bizarre. He was saying all these things and, just like, really quirky, I guess? And interesting. God. I just want to go and talk to him.”

Matt huffed out a laugh, sounding rather pleased. “I mean, it sounds like you’ve done your research. I think it’ll probably work. We’ll have to get at least one photograph of him for the cover, though, make sure he knows that.”

Louis grinned, ecstatic. “I’ll make sure. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get this interview set up quite yet, but I will be sure to talk to him as soon as possible. This is going to be great, I promise you.”

“It better be,” Taibbi said, and Louis could tell he was smiling. “Good first day, then, Tomlinson?”

“You bet,” Louis said, still grinning excitedly. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. And I’ll talk to Harry Styles in no less than five days.”

“Positively aspirational,” Taibbi said.

“That’s not quite a word,” Louis said, chuckling. “See you.”

“Bye, darling,” Taibbi said, and hung up. Louis looked around his empty office, suddenly not-so depressed by its bland interior. (He was still going to spruce it up, of course. It was just a bit less bland now that he had a cover story and it was time for him to go home.)

He walked out of the office, coffee-stained shirt draped over his shoulder, humming “Oh! Darling” by The Beatles, heading towards the bakery the next block over.

“Oh! Darling” quickly degraded into one of those stupid Crimson Delicious songs, one that was like “oooooOOooOooh” and too catchy for its own good, and Louis couldn’t even find it in himself to be irritated as he pushed open the bakery door. This Harry Styles did have a really nice voice. It was just gravelly enough to cause a twinge in his stomach when it went high up, and deep and flowing when it was mid-range, and, just. Louis liked it. He didn’t want to admit it earlier, but he’d listened to their entire discography during his research. And he totally wasn’t planning on downloading the new album when he got home. Nope.

He walked around the shelves and the tourists looking at the Thanksgiving display at the front of the little bakery and finally reached the lighted dessert case in the back. He stared into its depths. Mmm, red velvet cupcakes. The girl at the counter looked up and grinned.

“Hey,” she said in greeting, twirling her uniform visor around her wrist distractedly. “Looking for something?”

Louis’ head jerked up. “What?”

The girl blushed slightly, grinning abashedly, stilling her wrist. “Something you’re looking for?”

Louis chuckled. “One of those chocolate croissants you guys make, please.” The girl grinned anew, sort of crookedly, and pulled one from the breakfast case on the other side.

“Just a sec,” she said, and she went to get a paper bag from the back. She came back with the croissant all wrapped up and walked over to the cash register, still grinning. “Four-fifty,” she said. “Or two-fifty if you let me kiss you on the cheek.” She smirked adorably and Louis laughed louder than necessary. He finally looked at the girl, her blue eyes and her dimpled cheeks and her bobbed blondish hair, and smirked back.

“Cute,” Louis said. He fished $4.50 out of his wallet. “Maybe another time.” He grinned and the girl rolled her eyes as she took the money, still smiling, blushing the tiniest bit.

“Sure,” she said, and handed over the croissant. Louis left with only a minimal amount of tourist-pushing.

---

“Niall!” Louis called as he locked the apartment door behind himself. “Niall, I have a prezzie for you-ee!”

Niall’s head popped out from around the corner. “Is it a Vespa?”

Louis laughed. “Not quite.”

Niall stepped fully around the corner and reached out his arms and made little grabby hands. Louis withheld the bag, because, um. He was surprised. Niall was wearing a red bowtie and black pants and a pale blue shirt. “Wait, first,” Louis said. “What’re you dressed up for?”

Niall stared at the ceiling. “Uh, nothing?”

“You’re awful.” Louis finally thrust the bag out at his roommate. “Are you going on a date and not telling me about it?”

Niall grabbed the bag and took the croissant out of it in one smooth movement and then bit into it in a horrifically violent way. “It’s warm, god,” he moaned around the bread and chocolate, chewing disgustingly. “’M not going on a date,” he said, at last, when he was finished chewing.

“Where are you going, then?” Louis walked over and laid his coffee-stained shirt over the couch and set his bag down. He added, “The girl working at the bakery was flirting with me, I think,” and Niall turned, following his movements.

“Bet that was weird,” he said, turning like he was going to go back around the hallway corner with the croissant.

Louis looked at him again, his confused smirk turning into a should-I-be-getting-suspicious look. “Yeah. So where are you going?”

Niall sighed. “The Met.”

“An art museum?”

“Yes, that is the function of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

Louis rolled his eyes as Niall took another bite of the croissant. “Why are you going to the Met?”

Niall chewed, seemingly having to think about his answer. “James Franco,” he said, after a pause.

Louis sighed. He was going to have to extract this piece by piece, evidently. “What about James Franco,” Louis asked patiently, flatly, as if he was talking to a toddler who was only telling half of the story about how he snapped the head off of his Ken doll. (Louis could not relate. He treated his Ken dolls with tender loving care, always.)

“An exhibition,” Niall said, and Louis’s face broke into a grin.

“You’re going to a James Franco exhibition,” Louis stated. Niall nodded, exasperated. He apparently hadn’t wanted to admit that. Louis grinned still. “Why didn’t you want to tell me that?”

Niall crossed his arms. He tugged at his bowtie and shoved the rest of the croissant into his mouth. He opened his full-of-ew mouth like he was going to reply, and then closed it. He finished chewing. He finally spoke. “Because then you’d want to go with me and I may or may not be meeting someone there so that might look weird if we went together and it’s not a date I swear don’t even I can see you looking like you want to retort no—stop that.” Louis’ face stopped trying to restrain itself and he shrieked and rushed Niall and tackled him to the ground, pinching his cheeks and tickling his armpits and sitting on his stomach so that he couldn’t move.

“Niall Horan, you are so totally going on a date with someone to see the James Franco exhibition, and I know for a fact that you have a crush on James Franco.”

“Shuddup,” Niall said, squished under Louis’ weight. He tried to shove him off. “Getoffme.” Louis smacked a big kiss on Niall’s forehead and rolled off of his roommate’s stomach.

“Tosser,” he said lovingly, and Niall stood up, brushing off the back of his black pants.

“You’re the tosser, Tomlinson.” Niall turned to walk back into the bathroom around the corner of the hall. “Thanks for the croissant, though,” he said from just inside the bathroom, grinning, and all was forgiven.

“When are you leaving?” Louis called from the living room. Niall laughed and slammed the door. (He kept laughing, inexplicably, and Louis went to his own room to change, confused.)

---

Louis got to work early the next morning with a stack of 14 back issues of Rolling Stone in his arms and a bubbly green lamp twisted around his neck in a frightening combo of kitschy and morbid.

“Probably could have taken a taxi this morning,” Matt Taibbi said as he breezed by Louis on his way to his own office, and Louis snorted. “You look like you tried to hang yourself on that girly lamp, man.”

“You could write poetry with that diction,” Louis called sarcastically at Taibbi’s back as he walked down the corridor. Taibbi winked back at him.

Louis got to his own office, unlocked it by trick of magic, kicked the door open and threw everything down on his desk, gingerly unwinding the lamp from around his neck. He plugged the lamp in next to his computer, and yay, color! He then powered on his computer, set the magazines to the side (later he’d cut out articles he liked and tear out pictures and make the wall beside him a sort of collage, he thought. Rolling Stones job spirit and inspiration board, all in one!), and sat down in his chair, glad he didn’t spill coffee on himself when he walked in this morning. His coffee was actually back at the apartment, though, so it wasn’t technically possible, but he counted it as a success, nonetheless.

“Louis,” the phantom phone-voice sang, not even warning him beforehand. “Pick up the phone, or I’m going to screeea—”

Louis picked it up. “No thank you, Taibbi.”

“Saved yourself, dude. Okay. So you’re setting up the interview today, yeah? Owens wants me to check on you since I’m apparently project manager right now.” Taibbi sighed noisily into the phone.

“Yeah, I will. Might have to pull some strings—scratch that, I’m going to have to resort to illegal measures, probably—but I’ll get it.” Louis picked up a pen and clicked it a few times experimentally.

Taibbi laughed. “You’ll be fine. We’ve got hookup with Crimson Delicious’s record company, actually. I’ll e-mail you, hold on.”

“Sure, great, thanks,” Louis said, suddenly excited. “Okay.”

“Sending some information now,” Taibbi said. “Talk to you later.” Louis wrinkled his eyebrows, always surprised by Taibbi no matter how many weird calls they had. He hung up especially pleased, though, so it was counted as another success. Louis was all about the successes today, and it was only a little after eight in the morning. It was excellent.

It turned out that the success continued and only about 3 phone calls and 45 minutes of holding resulted in the setting of an interview date with Harry Styles. He wondered why it was so easy for him to manage that while magazines and gossip websites called Styles “elusive” and claimed that no one could talk to him. It had to be the Rolling Stone connections, unless Harry Styles was starting to come out of his shell. That seemed unlikely, so it must have been the connections. The connections plus Louis’s soothing voice and way with words, of course.

He called Matt Taibbi almost immediately after hanging up with Harry’s manager.

“Friday,” Louis said. “In three days, apparently, I will be sitting down with the enigmatic Harry Styles.”

“You’re good,” Matt said, and Louis could practically hear that pointing-finger thing that Matt was probably doing. Like, “I knew you could do it, you fabulous piece of fab.”

“I must be,” Louis breathed. “Should I be nervous? I’ve got two days now to prepare questions. This is so soon.”

“Don’t worry,” Taibbi enunciated. “This is the part you went to school for. Well, sort of. You’ll smash it.”

Louis chuckled. “You’re starting to sound like me. English-y.”

Taibbi laughed, too. “Not a chance. Smash is a worldwide word.” Louis grinned and opened up a blank Word document.

“Whatever you say,” he said into the phone. “I’m gonna start working on this.”

“You do that, sweetheart,” Taibbi said fondly. He hung up without waiting for Louis to respond. Louis put down the phone and shrugged and clicked around on his computer for a second, finding that Crimson Delicious song he liked on YouTube. It was catchy, alright, and Louis’s brain was only so impervious to catchy things. He listened to it over and over as he typed quick ideas for the interview into the document.

---

“How long’s that James Franco exhibit open at the Met, Niall?” Louis called from the couch, his laptop perched on his lap with the Word document open and the television on quietly in front of him.

“’Bout a month, I think,” Niall responded from his room. He paused and then called out a, “Why?”

“Just wondering,” Louis replied. “Might go see it, since you said it was so good.”

He heard Niall laugh. “Gotta love the Franco.”

Louis nodded for his own benefit and went back to his work.

---

The next two days at the office were much like the first two days, minus the coffee issues, plus lunch with Matt Taibbi. Both days.

Thursday, Taibbi took him to this weird little sushi place seven blocks over.

“Excited about tomorrow, are you?” he asked as Louis bit into a salmon-pineapple sashimi.

Louis nodded, grinning. “Vehemently.” He made a face. “What the fuck is this piece of sushi?”

“It’s sashimi,” Taibbi replied. “And that’s good. Where are you talking to him? Have you gotten an outline of what you’re going to talk about? I watched that YouTube video of him in that radio interview, that one you told me about. A bit turned-off by his antics, yeah, but he is literally gorgeous.”

Louis nodded, trying not to blush. “He—yeah.” He wiped his mouth with a napkin, hiding his smirk. “And they specified that I’m to come to his ‘Queens apartment.’ I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m going to ask, also. Yes.”

“Don’t let his looks affect you, Louis, I swear,” Taibbi warned. “I didn’t let them affect me when I was watching that interview.”

“What? Why would he affect…? You’re married? To a woman?” Louis blurted, confused, picking up a piece of sushi with some sort of actual turquoise fish on it in his confusion.

“Don’t eat that one. Yeah. But. I appreciate aesthetics. That is, in the instance that they aren’t fucking batshit crazy. No, seriously, don’t eat that one.” Louis had the sushi partway to his mouth, having ignored Taibbi’s suggestion the first time around. He set it down, resigned. Taibbi picked it up and popped the entire thing into his mouth.

“What!” Louis exclaimed again, staring at Taibbi’s chewing mouth. Taibbi shrugged. “And even if he is ‘fucking batshit crazy,’” Louis said, “I can totally handle it. I mean, I’m at lunch with you.”

Taibbi made a mock-offended face. “You are rude, Louis Tomlinson,” he said, and he sipped his Coke Zero. Louis shrugged, picking up another colorful piece of sushi off of the plate. “Don’t eat that,” Taibbi tried, but Louis had already shoved the whole thing into his mouth.

---

Louis rang the doorbell twice, in true journalistic style. He waited outside of the door of the condo, his laptop bag over his shoulder, tapping his foot nervously, giving himself a little pep talk. It wasn’t his first interview, okay, he’d had practice. But this one was for real. For really real. He was going to do great, though; he knew how to handle people and Harry was definitely a person, if not anything else.

The door opened when he was just getting to the part in the pep talk where he told himself he was beautiful fourteen times and told himself that he could do anything because he was beautiful. Fourteen times.

“You’re Louis Tomlinson,” a dark, smoldery guy with tattoos up his right arm and a blonde streak in the front of his black hair stated plainly. Louis nodded.

“I am. And you are?” Louis wiped a clammy palm on his khakis and stuck it out to shake. The guy just looked at it and smirked.

“Zayn Malik.”

“I see,” Louis said, putting his hand back down. “You’re the, ah, bass player?”

Zayn nodded. “You can come in, then, I guess.” Louis glanced down at his laptop bag, silently asking it if knowing what instrument Zayn played was the secret to getting into the condo. If it was, this was some high goddamn security, he thought. He tried not to smirk and followed Zayn into the condo.

It was actually more of a penthouse, Louis realized, and he probably should have realized when he went all the way up to floor 18 of the building, but he had been busy thinking about more important things like if his hair looked okay and if Harry would smell weird, so he hadn’t. Not that it mattered.

“Harry’s in the bath,” Zayn said matter-of-factly, and Louis wrinkled his nose, more than a bit shocked and confused.

“Wh--Really? Should I come back later? I thought we’d scheduled for 1 P.M., but--”

“No, it’s fine. He always takes a bath after lunch, I think. You can go in.”

Louis furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head. “What? No, I can’t do that. When should I come back?”

Zayn put the tattooed arm on his hip and looked at Louis. “Listen, if you come back later, he’s not going to want to talk.” He turned around slightly, his head cocked as if he’d heard something. “Yeah, Harry!” he said loudly, affirmatively. He turned back to Louis. “Heard that? He’s just asked if you were here.”

Louis gaped. He probably should have expected this, too—something crazy happening the second he walked into the cond—penthouse, but, again, he hadn’t. This one kind of mattered, though. He didn’t say anything and Zayn looked at him expectantly.

“Y’might want to go in there, now, mate.”

Louis continued to gape. “Where is it, then,” he asked flatly, letting his face fall too, and Zayn gestured around the hallway corner.

“Only door down that hall.”

Louis walked, dumbfounded, around the corner and down the hall. He paused at the door, listening, hearing a sort of sloshy sound behind it, and he sighed, because this was indeed the bathroom and Harry was indeed in the bath. God. He would not be able to report properly on this. He wouldn’t. It was probably illegal to hold interviews in bathrooms, wasn’t it? “Mr. Styles?” he asked softly from outside, his hand on the doorknob, and there was a big splashing sound.

“Are you the reporter?” Harry called curiously from inside. “Come in, by all means.” Louis held his breath and just went for it, opening the door.

Harry Styles was in the bathtub, bubbles covering him all the way up his neck, his wet curly head sticking out at the edge.

“Hello!” Harry said, cheeks dimpling, and Louis just had to laugh to himself. So ridiculous.

“Hi to you too, Harry Styles,” Louis responded as coolly as possible.

“You can sit on the floor, probably,” Harry said quickly, hospitably, giving Louis and his big laptop bag a once-over, “or the toilet, I guess, if you need a sort of chair.”

“Right,” Louis said, and set himself on the tiled floor with his back against the wall, directly adjacent to the bathtub. “So, do you want to begin, Harry? If you don’t mind me calling you Harry. Oh, wait.” He fished around in his bag for his little portable audio recorder. Harry just watched and Louis turned it on, gesturing it at Harry so he could see it. “This is going to be on while we talk, okay?” Harry nodded and a wet curl slid down from his forehead. The red light glowed and Harry looked at it almost warily.

“Y’doing alright today?” Louis asked conversationally, and Harry glanced up from the light on the recording device.

“Quite fine, thanks,” he said, and then, abruptly, “Where’re you from?”

Louis chuckled. “I’m from Yorkshire, in England. Where are you from?”

Harry pulled an arm out of the sudsy water and poked at a bubble. “Was just wondering because you’ve got an accent,” he said. “I was born in London but I was raised in Los Angeles. Bit like, umm, Spider-Man.” He smirked and Louis was confused.

“Spider-Man lived in New York, I think,” Louis said carefully. Harry laughed.

“No, like. Umm. Like The Social Network, then,” he said. “Not Mark Zuckerberg.”

Louis wrinkled his eyebrows, and then finally he got it. “Andrew Garfield!” he exclaimed. “Spider-Man. I see.” Harry laughed again, proud of himself.

“He’s about half English, half American, I’m pretty sure,” Harry said. He grinned. “Who are you like, then?”

Louis looked at the ceiling and the crown molding and thought for a second. “The Duke of York, I’d think,” he said, and Harry laughed more.

“What’s your name, again?”

Louis snorted. “You’re asking me all the questions, this is backwards. My name is Louis Tomlinson and don’t say a single other thing because it’s my turn.” He smirked and took his laptop out of his bag, setting it on his lap. Harry blew at the mountain of bubbles in front of him and made a valley.

“This bath is getting cold,” he said distractedly. Louis shh-ed him.

“No words.” Then he added, “We can go out into another room if you want to get out of the bath. I can wait for you.” Harry shook his head twice.

“’M fine.”

“Okay,” Louis said. “I guess I want to start this by asking you about your so-called ‘evasiveness’? I’ve read so many articles about you that called you ‘elusive’ and ‘enigmatic.’ Do you avoid the press because of a specific reason?”

Harry sunk down into the water, emerging with his freshly wet hair plastered to his face a few seconds later, spewing a stream of water out of his mouth. “Do you avoid the press because of a specific reason?” he asked, returning the question, staring straight at Louis through his soaking curls.

Louis looked to his left, at the open bathroom cabinet, and then back at Harry. “I’m not a celebrity,” he said simply. “There isn’t any press that I need to avoid.”

Harry made a little “hmph” sound. “Celebrities are the people that are constantly in the press, aren’t they?” he asked. “Famous people. That would make me not-a-celebrity, too, if I’m, quote, ‘elusive’ to them.”

Louis pouted his lip, conceding the point. It was a good point, but didn’t answer his question at all. “Why, then,” he said, closing his laptop lid halfway (a sort of half-mast flag saluting the departure of his interview outline) and looking at Harry, “do you think certain celebrities are frequently seen in the media? Is it because they want to be?”

Harry shrugged. “I think they go out and do things and people take pictures of them.”

“And you don’t do things?”

“I don’t, really, no.”

Louis licked his bottom lip. “Do you avoid doing things because you’re avoiding the press, or because you don’t want to do things?”

Harry put a hand in the water and furrowed his brow before pulling out the stopper. The water glugged lowly as it sank in height. “Neither.”

Louis paused, knowing that the water running out would mean Harry was going to be naked sitting in the bath in a minute or so, either that or he was going to stand up and be naked and grab a towel, and Louis was not mentally prepared for that. He thought frantically, letting the water run out of the bath and letting Harry soak in his answer, trying to figure out what he should do.

“We’ll, ah, continue somewhere else?” he prompted, determinedly not-looking at Harry as he stood up.

“Could you grab me a towel?” he said. “You can look, honestly, I don’t care.”

Louis swallowed and shut his eyes. “Where are the towels,” he asked flatly, ignoring the second part, hoping they were outside of the bathroom so he could breathe a second.

“Right there,” Harry said, and Louis glanced on instinct to see where Harry was pointing.

Harry wasn’t naked. Yeah, his cock was out, okay, but he had on a sort of tube top thing with print on it covering his flat midsection and Louis was not staring, shut up, he was getting a towel and handing it to the bubble-splotched Harry and almost sort of congratulating himself on not squealing like a pig. (He saw Harry’s dick, alright. He saw his entire lower body naked and it was really nice, from an objective point of view. The tight wet fabric stretched across his skin wasn’t so bad either, honestly, even though Louis had absolutely no idea why he was wearing it. He was just going to never think about either thing again and definitely not write about it in the article and he’d instead focus on hmm do the interview this is business it doesn’t matter that he’s cute!)

“Living room,” Harry called to Louis, who was now just outside of the bathroom in the hallway. “I’ll get dressed and meet you out there.”

Louis went happily (quickly) into the living room, where Zayn was sitting on the couch with Zoey 101 on the television and a phone to his ear. Another boy was there, too, curled sleepily into Zayn’s side. Zayn was asking something into the phone about The Scarlet Letter and the boy under him was laughing at something on the TV.

“Hi,” Louis said to both of them, and the sleepy one sat up.

“Are you Harry’s? He’s not had guys over in--”

Zayn dropped the phone and slapped a hand over the boy’s mouth. “Liam, Jesus!”

“I’m Louis,” Louis said to Liam. “I work at Rolling Stone Magazine, I’m not really…” he trailed off, not really knowing how to respond (or even what he was responding to) and Liam grinned.

“Sorry, man,” he said. He looked up at Zayn. “Sorry,” he mouthed. Louis went to the couch on the other side of the room and sat down just as Harry popped around the corner.

“Liam,” Harry said in sort-of greeting when he saw Liam on the couch. Zayn rolled his eyes.

“Liam almost just asked your reporter if you two were fucking in there,” he said. Louis swallowed rather uncomfortably, but of course, the three boys of Crimson Delicious didn’t notice. Zayn gave Liam’s closely-shaved head a noogie.

“That motherfucker,” Harry breathed.

“I’m right here,” Liam said pointedly.

“You,” Harry said, shaking a finger at him, “are a motherfucker.” He laughed. Louis raised an eyebrow. Post-bath Harry seemed to be much more smiley.

“Harry,” he said. “Mind if we continue?”

Harry looked at him and tromped over to the couch with a lingering grin on his face. “Was that recorder thing on just now?” He sat down and patted Louis’s bag.

“Yeah, actually,” Louis said truthfully. “Is that okay?”

Harry nodded. “What were we saying?”

Louis looked at Harry, earnest Harry with his big green eyes and the towel around his neck and the kelly green tank top he had on and he wondered why people alluded to the fact that he was crazy. Sure he avoided directly answering questions and in that one interview Louis’d seen him, he’d been a bit…out there, yeah, but everyone is a bit out there and averse to interrogation, aren’t they? Harry had been nothing but compliant in at least talking to him since Louis had got there. Louis might have expected something different, but being there he learned it wasn’t there was anything wrong with Harry. He just functioned on a different wavelength; that was all. He suddenly was a bit upset by the ridiculous rumors that surrounded Harry, even though they were obviously ridiculous and maybe didn’t bother Harry himself. He cleared his throat and glanced down at his laptop.

“We were talking about celebrity, but um. I’m not sure what, specifically.” He chuckled awkwardly.

“We could play back the tape?” Harry suggested. A snore sounded from the other side of the room where Liam was sleeping in Zayn’s lap and Harry laughed.

“It’s okay,” Louis said gently. “I have another question, though. There are some really strange rumors about you on the internet, did you know that?”

Harry furrowed his eyebrows. “Not really. I haven’t Googled myself since our first single came out.”

Louis’s eyes lit up at that. “Oh! Don’t let me forget to ask you about your music, god.” Harry grinned. “Um, but. There are rumors you’re sleeping with Oprah, you bought a zoo--”

“Great movie,” Harry interjected. Louis smirked despite himself.

“You donated a kidney to Will Smith, all of Taylor Swift’s new songs are about you, all of John Mayer’s new songs are about you, you vandalized the Hollywood sign…it goes on.”

“Wow,” Harry said.

“So even though you said you don’t like to be in the press, you are, occasionally.” Louis bit the inside of his cheek. “Does that bother you?”

“I didn’t say I don’t like to be in the press, I don’t think,” Harry said. “You said the press said I don’t like to be in the press.”

“And yet the press puts you in the press about not being in the press…” Louis said like he was in National Treasure and he’d just put together some large fictional pieces of history and discovered something top secret. “I guess this goes back to what we were saying earlier.”

Harry nodded. “You’re famous because other people celebritize you, I guess. I know that’s not a real word but it should be because someone can’t be famous without people supporting them or publishing bad things about them or photographing them at SuperTarget. And if you do things that people see or hear—like make music or act in a movie—whether you want it or not people will make you a big deal.”

Louis typed something into his laptop and looked up at Harry. “Have you thought about this a lot?”

Harry grinned shyly and shook his head, dragging his fringe across his forehead with his thumb. “Not really until just now, but it makes sense. Or, rather. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Does it bother you, though?”

Harry thought for a second. “Does what bother me?”

Louis bit his bottom lip. “Being sort of forced into fame?”

Harry cocked his head to one side, still thinking. “You’re a journalist. Can you tell me why they make up rumors about people or try to publicize—there we go, publicize—people like that? ‘Force’ into fame, as you said? Like, saying I was having a thing with Oprah? Who does that even benefit?”

Louis licked his lips. “That’s just what entertainment journalism is, is basically the answer. The trashy ones especially just want to sell magazines and get hits on their websites, honestly, and some of the things they report on are actually factual, but. They make things up because they want ‘exclusives.’ For money. And fame themselves, really, I guess, because people want to read about the shit other people are doing. And you, since you aren’t actually talking to people about your personal life, you’re perfect for exclusives and your ‘celebritization.’ And girls love you. Your face, at least.”

“Just my face!” Harry asked, mock-scandalized. He grinned. “So basically you’re telling me everything’s bullshit?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Louis said, smiling. “Do you think everything’s bullshit?”

Harry shrugged. “I read books. I watch movies. Somehow in there I got convinced that real life is bullshit and books and movies and music—art—are the only things that aren’t bullshit. That sounds so dumb, I know. But what can you do. We can talk about my music now, if you want.” He sounded done with the topic of celebrity.

Louis still wanted to know how Harry felt specifically about the rumors, but he wasn’t going to ask again. He’d go back and listen to the tape and try to decode Harry’s deflections of the question. He shut his laptop lid the full way but kept it on his lap as a sort of anchor to the couch.

“You’ve just released your second album, right?” he asked, and Zayn, on the other side of the room, let out a pointed, unenthusiastic “woo!”

Harry grinned. “Sure have. It’s pretty good. Zayn didn’t cry during the recordings this time.”

“Shut up, Harold,” Zayn mumbled.

“Do you have a favorite track?” Louis asked. “I listened to it, by the way. It’s great.”

“What’s your favorite track, then?” Harry asked. “I’m interested.”

“Umm, I really like the, um,” he blushed slightly, “‘Lace Knickers.’ It’s painfully catchy.”

Harry laughed. “Wrote that one all on my own. A few months ago I was with this, um. I mean. Never mind. Zayn wrote that one.”

Louis wrinkled his forehead. “You don’t have to tell me,” he said. “But you also can’t start and then stop like that, man.” He laughed.

Harry blushed, too, scrunching up his face cutely, and bit his thumbnail once. “I was with this guy who really liked wearing women’s underwear. Don’t write this in the article, god. He’d be so embarrassed; he’d know it was him. But it was hot. He worked at the tennis courts over down the road, and the first day I met him he was bent over picking up some rackets I threw down, and I saw the lace and almost passed out, I swear. Christ. Do you wear women’s underwear? I could dig that. Wait. Don’t answer that.”

Louis nearly choked. He was blushing, too, and Harry was laughing and Louis was so confused because this boy was only about three years younger than him and he was so cute and blunt and he was supposed to be professional right now and shit.

“I can’t write about that?” Louis smirked. “Tell me one I can write about, then.”

Harry thought, tapping a finger to his chin. “Okay, ‘Youth in Revolt’ is about Michael Cera. I’m not kidding, okay. I feel a little bit like Taylor Swift saying that but I met him in LA one day and he was like, ‘yo, man, I really like that song on the radio,’ and I was like ‘what the fuck, Michael Cera, you listen to the radio?’ and he was like ‘yeah, man, let’s go smoke cigarettes,” and it was so weird but pretty awesome. So Michael Cera and I went out to this little café and smoked cigarettes and talked about Judd Apatow. And it was cool so I wrote a song about it.”

Louis grinned. “You’d think that would generate some media attention.”

“Michael Cera doesn’t really get in the news for doing crazy stuff, I guess. Musicians get the worst of it. And trashy television people.”

“You still haven’t explicitly stated that those rumors about you aren’t true,” Louis said.

Harry waved a hand dismissively. “They aren’t, but that doesn’t matter.”

“You don’t care what they say?” Louis asked. Harry shook his head. “Do you care what I say in this article? Can I say you were an asshole and you shoved pretzel sticks up my nose?”

Harry laughed. “You won’t say that,” he said. “I don’t even eat pretzel sticks.”

“Right,” Louis said. “You harass people with them!”

“Shut up,” Harry said, smirking at Louis.

Louis got a few more good answers out of Harry, and his cell phone number, but that was secret, and left for home.

---

“How was it?” Matt Taibbi asked as soon as Louis was on their floor of the building the next morning, practically nipping at his heels for answers. “How was it how was it?”

“It was great, Matt, it went really well.”

Taibbi stood in the door of Louis’s office, watching him power up his laptop. “That’s it? Tell me the deets, man, was he crazy psycho?”

Louis sighed. “No, he was lovely! Seriously.”

Taibbi raised his eyebrows. He was surprised. “I’m surprised,” he said simply. “Was he good-looking in person?”

Louis blushed. “Of course.”

“Did he say anything worth putting on the cover of the magazine? His One Big Quote? Did he say ‘I hate when people commercialize the media’ or something equally convoluted?”

“No, god, Taibbi, I just need to start writing this, calm down.”

Matt put his hands on his hips. “Okay, then, Tomlinbusypants.”

Louis had to smirk at that one. “You’re dumb,” he said fondly.

“Love you too, jerk,” Taibbi said, and he walked away.

Louis sighed and turned on the recording device, plugging his headphones in and listening to it again, finishing typing up the transcript where he left off the night before.

---

Harry Styles: hey Louis when’s the article out mate?

Louis Tomlinson: few weeks, Dec 8. we can send u one in the mail :)

Harry Styles: pls do! i want to see how much shit u talked about me :)

Louis Tomlinson: 100% facts, harry. i’m a Real Journalist :)

Harry Styles: we’ll see about that :)

Louis banged his head on the desk. So many smiley faces. Why did Harry Styles text him, anyway? Didn’t he know Louis was supposed to be not thinking about him? He might have been writing a six-page article about him, okay, but he was still trying not to think about him, God.

---

The week of December 8th saw official new journalist for the ‘Rock and Roll’ department of Rolling Stone Magazine Louis Tomlinson absolutely swamped with emails and letters from people commenting on the article.

A lot of negatives. A lot of positives.

“In regards to the way Harry Styles is portrayed in the media—or, rather, not portrayed, as the “rock star” himself seemed unable to decide upon—this article proves that he is just as much of a stuck-up trust fund brat as he looks when he goes off to Ibiza instead of touring.”

Louis wasn’t even sure what that meant, but it sounded rude. He was sure, however, that the person who sent that in didn’t know how to pronounce Ibiza.

“I really like this Tomlinson guy. He wrote the article with expert precision: I could almost imagine I was the one watching Harry Styles in the bath. I mean, I imagine that almost daily, anyway, even though he’s gay or something, but at least he gave a clearer, more accurate mental image.”

Louis deleted that email quickly. He appreciated the compliment but, ew.

“Who the fuck is Harry Styles! Is exactly what I screamed when this issue appeared in my mailbox. I immediately flipped it open to the page and was sucked into the article from that first line about him in a bubble bath. This kid is ridiculous, I like him.”

Louis beamed at that one. Harry was rather ridiculous, but Louis liked him, too. That was what he was going for when he wrote the article.

“I don’t understand why this dorky popstar gets a Rolling Stone cover when we have people doing bigger things like saving the environment and winning American Idol. At the same time. I understand you wanted something unique, but Harry Styles is the sort of unique I run over with my four-wheeler. No threat intended, but I am not a fan.”

Louis, again, was confused by the negativity. He kept that letter, though, in the pile of “okay?” letters. The “fuck no” ones were in the trash. The “yes” pile of letters was actually just one piece of paper addressed to Rolling Stone that had Harry’s name written in the center of a heart. Louis wasn’t really sure what to do with that one.

---

Louis drummed his fingers on his desk, his phone tucked up against his ear, his knee bobbing up and down under the table. He didn’t know why he couldn’t keep still, he shouldn’t have been nervous or anything.

He was about to hang up when Harry’s voice finally crackled through the speaker.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Harry, it’s Louis.”

“Louis! Journalist Louis. Louuu. Is.”

“Are you drunk?” Louis lifted the phone off his ear and looked at the screen. “It’s 3:15 PM.”

“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” he said. “Actually, it’s not, really. Because. Wait, maybe in Brazil.”

Louis couldn’t think about time zones when he was drunk. He was impressed. “I’m impressed,” he murmured, laughing once. “I was going to ask if you wanted to get a beer tonight, actually, and talk, but it seems you’ve already done the beer part of that. Multiple times.”

Harry groaned a little into the phone. “Fuck. I want to though. I really, really want to. Can we, anyway?”

“You’re still in Queens?” Louis asked, just realizing.

“Mhm,” Harry purred. “D’you want to come over here, then, maybe?” Harry asked, and Louis really, really wanted to.

“Is that going to be a bad idea?” he asked quietly. Harry made a soft noise on the other end of the line.

“I don’t see why,” he said. He paused. “My—your article was published.”

Louis grinned. “I know.”

They were quiet. “Come over at 7?” Harry said, finally. Louis nodded and then told Harry he’d be there at 7.

---

He was there at 7:30. He had been nervous, okay, and Niall had barely let him out of the apartment because apparently he’d “fixed his hair too much” and it “looked like he was going to Harvard” which didn’t even make any sense.

He knocked on the door and Harry let him in with two beer bottles already in his hand. “Here,” he said, handing one to Louis. Louis took it and popped the top off before even getting to the living room.

“How’ve you been?” Louis asked. Harry shrugged.

“Media attention,” he said.

“Sorry,” Louis said quickly, taking a long sip of beer. Harry drank some, too.

“Don’t apologize,” he said. He studied Louis’s starched collar. “Are you going to ask me why I was drunk at 3 o’clock?”

Louis laughed. “Why were you drunk at 3 o’clock?”

“Zayn and Liam were making out in my bathtub.”

Louis raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t they together?”

Harry sighed. “Yeah, but. It made me sad, so I drank like four rum and Cokes and some vodka.”

“Oh,” Louis said. “Maybe you should go out, pick someone up, or whatever.”

Harry looked at the ceiling, measuring words. “More media attention,” was what he settled on saying.

“Oh,” Louis said again. He took another long drink from his bottle and then asked, suddenly, “Do you want to go to the Met?”

Harry looked up at him and smirked, delightfully surprised. “What?”

“The Met,” Louis repeated.

“An art museum?”

“That’s what the Metropolitan Museum of Art is, silly,” Louis said.

Harry laughed. “Okay, sure. I’ve got to change, though, this shirt smells like my pathetic sufferings.”

Harry changed and they got a cab and went to the James Franco exhibit at the Met.

---

“Look, this is from Milk. Did you see that movie? A great one. Emile Hirsch, Sean Penn.”

“Yeah, of course I saw it! James Franco kissed Sean Penn.”

“You would watch it for that,” Louis said, grinning and shoving Harry playfully.

Harry grinned back. “I watched it because Harvey Milk is an American hero!” he said. “Don’t act like you don’t revere him.”

“I think he was great, yeah,” Louis said. “He’s almost why I got into journalism. Okay, Hunter S. Thompson is, really, but they were both outspoken and, I don’t know. They both inspired me. Harvey Milk because he was gay, and--”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Oh, thank God,” he said. Louis stopped and quirked an eyebrow. “No, oh my God, I knew, but. Okay. Carry on.” Harry laughed and Louis did too.

“Duh,” he said quietly, privately.

“Duh,” Harry repeated, smirking.

“Louis?” Someone called from across the gallery room, and Louis looked up, disoriented.

Niall was standing with his arm linked in James Franco’s—the actual James Franco, not the creepy wax statue of him out in the front lobby—waving at Louis and Harry like he was trying to break his wrist by force of sheer air resistance.

“Niall?” Louis asked, and he absently grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled him over to Niall and James Franco. “Were you on a date with James Franco that one day? The chocolate croissant day? Motherf--”

“Your friend knows James Franco? Sick!” Harry said, and with his left hand still linked with Louis’s, he reached out to shake James’s hand. “I’m Harry Styles, nice to meet you, big fan. I love your brother, too. I probably love your parents, even. I love the exhibit.”

James laughed. “Thanks, man. You’re on Rolling Stone magazine, I’ve seen you!”

“I’ve seen you in Spider-Man, though! The original ones. Like. Dude.”

They laughed at each other, James grinning insanely widely, and Louis finally regained his voice. “I’m Louis, by the way. Niall’s my roommate. Did you know he has a Pineapple Express poster on his bedroom wall?”

James laughed. “Yeah,” he said suggestively. “Yeah, I knew that.”

Harry snorted and Louis grinned. He looked down and squeezed Harry’s hand tightly. “Nice to meet you, again, seriously, James Franco,” Harry said, and James grinned.

“You don’t have to call me by my first and last name,” he said, and Harry shrieked rather excitedly as he pulled semi-shell-shocked Louis away to another gallery room.

“Christ,” Louis said. “My roommate has been on more than one date with James Franco. To his own museum exhibit. I didn’t even know they did exhibits of people who didn’t actually paint. Or were still alive.”

Harry laughed breathily. “Calm, Louis,” he said, and they went over to look at a framed piece of handwritten James Franco poetry.

---

“Let’s reenact that scene from Milk,” Louis said giddily when they were walking down the steps outside of the museum. It was dark and the Christmas lights were up and they could see their breath in the cold air and Louis wasn’t even dressed for the cold.

Harry giggled. “Which scene?”

“The first scene,” Louis said. “I’ll be Sean Penn. I mean Harvey. You’re James Franco.”

“You mean Scott.”

Louis blew out some air in an airy laugh. “I mean Scott. Okay. You’re walking up the stairs and I stop you. Action.”

“Wait, I don’t know my lines!” Harry said, grinning, and Louis waved him off.

“I don’t either, we’ll wing it. Go!”

Harry walked up the stairs and Louis called out, “hey.” Harry turned around and stepped down so that he was just a step above Louis, their faces inches apart.

“It’s my birthday,” Louis said coquettishly.

Harry laughed, rolling his eyes.

“You’re too old for me,” he said. “Or something like that. Oh! I don’t date guys over 40. I mean 25.” He smirked.

“Then it’s my lucky day,” Louis said.

Harry laughed. “Why’s that?”

Louis reached up his arm as if checking his watch. “I’m still 24 for two and a half more hours.”

Harry laughed again, mostly at Louis’s eager expression, and then cradled Louis’s face in his hands and kissed him. Louis kissed back and slid his hands into Harry’s back pockets.

“Mm,” he said when Harry pulled away. “I think we skipped some lines.”

Harry kissed him again, softly. “Something about me not leaving you alone on your birthday?”

“Yeah,” Louis said, kissing him quickly. “But it’s not really my birthday,” he clarified.

“I know,” Harry said. He brushed a piece of hair behind Louis’s ear with his thumb. “Do you still want to be with me tonight?”

Louis leaned up and laughed softly into Harry’s ear. “Only if it’s good enough for you to write a song about it.”

Harry nosed at Louis’s cheek. “Already starting one in my head.”

Louis kissed him again, took him by the hand, and called for a taxi to take them all the way back to Harry’s in Queens.

---

“Niall, I can’t believe you, you fucking goddamn assho--!”

Louis was interrupted by Niall body-slamming him into the ground.

“Shuddup, Lou,” he said, smothering him.

“You—James!—why!”

Niall situated himself so that he was straddling Louis’s midsection. “Shh, calm.” He put a hand over Louis’s mouth.

“Don’t tell me to be calm!” Louis squealed, but to Niall it was completely the opposite of understandable.

“I don’t know what you just said, so I’m going to assume you complimented me. Thank you, Louis, you are so nice.”

Louis squirmed under Niall’s grip. “Let go!” he yelled.

Niall let go and rolled off of him. “This isn’t about me. This is about you.”

Louis frowned.

“It is,” Niall insisted. “Remember when you tackled me when I went to the Met that one day? The chocolate croissant day?”

Louis shook his head obstinately, though he totally remembered.

“Tosser,” he said, grinning.

Louis grinned back because he loved Niall even when he gave him minor whiplash. “You’re the tosser, Horan.”

Niall hopped up into a standing position and pulled Louis up as well. “But you’re the tosseriest.”

“That isn’t even a word,” Louis said. “But nice try.”

Louis’s pocket buzzed with a text.

Harry Styles: i’m bringing u a crimson d poster for ur wall so u can match ur roommate

Louis laughed.

Louis Tomlinson: cool, zayn’s rly hot. I want him on my wall

Harry Styles: stfu :)

Louis Tomlinson: I want that crimson d

Louis Tomlinson: oh god gfffuck niall took my phone and sent that it wasn’t me

Louis Tomlinson: HARRY

Harry Styles: Louis i’m seriously coming over right now

Louis Tomlinson: I’m sorry……..but I do want it

Louis waited, holding his breath. How forward and/or disgusting was he allowed to be at this point? His phone buzzed.

Harry Styles: tell niall to leave then ;)

And that Louis did.