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Louis Lucas

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Louis Tomlinson was a man of many secrets. 

When he was eleven, his most-protected secret was that every Friday, at 11 o’clock, the school bully, who was called Richard Waits (but Louis privately referred to him as “Dick” in his head, and it was this minor internal rebellion that got Louis through his school days) took Louis behind the wall of the Maths building and beat him up. He avoided hitting Louis in the face because after all, it was Dick’s secret too (though only from the teachers; he proudly boasted about beating up the “little poof” to anyone would listen, especially if any older student was in earshot). He would, however, punch Louis in the stomach, or kick him until he fell to the dirt. Louis always cried (and it wasn’t that he was in pain but that it was humiliating, more than anything). He also fought back the first few times, but Dick kept growing bigger, and he sometimes brought his friends. Louis, until he was 16 or so, was a rather static fellow; he remained small and loud and all through his schoolboy years, he drew the negative attention of bigger, older boys who wanted to put Louis in his place.

Louis reserved his antics for the classroom, muttering insults about Dick’s intelligence so only Dick and Louis’s friends could hear. Louis had a lot of friends, but all the upperclassmen hated him, and they made sure to take away whatever brief power Louis held over his own peers as soon as the bell rang at the end of the day. When he came home with bruises, he would simply chirp “football practice” to his mother and that was the end of the conversation. The beatings were never horrible, just enough to knock Louis down as many pegs as the bullies saw fit. They might break his glasses (“just some play wrestling, mum”) or shove him into lockers. Louis’s closest friends knew, but they thought it was like an initiation process of sorts for Louis to assume the throne as soon as the upperclassmen graduation, preparing him for the highest echelons of popularity.

But it didn’t work -- because when he turned 16, the sheet was violently ripped off his other most buried, shameful secret: Louis Tomlinson really did like boys. It wasn’t merely a cavalier insult that the older boys hurled at him in moments of uninspired violence; it was true, and Louis would never know if they had some sort of insight on his sexual leanings before he knew himself, or if they were just being idiots. The bullying ended, because they had to graduate some time, but a different kind of bullying began when Louis accidentally kissed Andrew Rice, a beautiful blondemale exchange student, in a moment of reckless, drunken abandon at a party in full view of most of his class. Andrew was not gay, but he wasn’t homophobic either; he was rather kind to Louis in the aftermath, albeit after assuring Louis fervently that he did not return his interest. 

The rest of the school was less forgiving. Louis had always been a flamboyant type: he was heavily involved in the school theatre program, he was loud, and he took great care in his every day appearance. As a result, he had always been privy to whispered rumors. But with their newfound proof, they took to hurling cruel homophobic slurs at Louis whenever they had the chance. Despite all of this, Louis refused to submerge himself in anonymity for the rest of his schooldays; instead, he embraced his sexuality. He acquired a kind of fake sexual confidence, an affectation he wore to protect his own withering insecurities. It soon began to consume his entire being. His self-worth was completely dependent on this new Louis he fashioned for himself.

By the age of 17, he had already destroyed two secrets. The third secret was that he was a virgin, a fact which he exerted exhausted efforts to protect from public knowledge. There was no one at school to get rid of it, so had to look elsewhere -- seedy gay bars that he snuck his way into with a bat of pretty eyelashes, wearing his tightest pants and his coyest smile. He found a nice, fit boy enrolled in a nearby university to buy him a drink or five and then fuck him senseless in the bathroom. He never told him it was his first time. They didn’t know each other’s names. 

By the time Louis made it back home, head spinning, alcohol rolling around in his stomach, arse aching, he flopped onto his bed with a relieved, blurry smile thinking, well now that’s been taken care of. 

Now that he’s 21, he has other kinds of secrets, but they’re tailored to the person. To his boyfriends, his secret is his profession. He’s a pornstar -- minor league, mind you, but a good number of self-respecting gay men involved in the queer community have at least heard of him. His boyfriends can’t know because as soon as they do he’s relegated to a sex object, or a good story to tell their mates, or a slut they fuck one last time before patting him on the cheek mockingly with a mean, “Louis Tomlinson, huh? A little bird told me you also sometimes go by Louis Lucas.” 

(Louis Lucas is his porn name -- alliterations make good porn names, apparently, according to his boss Simon.)

But Louis’s most private secret is that according to himself, he’s an utter disaster of a human being. He can’t get rid of this secret with a closet outing, or a quick underage fuck in a gay bar, but he can cover it up -- with a breezy confidence, a lot of alcohol, and a slew of random fucks. 

This is his exact plan of action tonight -- if it weren’t for the meddling protection of Liam and Zayn, his best friends who, if you ask Louis, love him far too much, or at least more than he deserves.

--

“Liam. Liam!” Zayn hisses through his teeth. “Get your pretty arse over here.”

Liam sways over, giggling, his lonely liver unable to keep up with his steady intake of alcohol. “What?”

“What are we going to do about him?”

“About him?”

Zayn tightens his mouth and looks pointedly at the table next to theirs, where Louis Tomlinson is currently making a complete arse of himself, dancing flamboyantly on the table with the neck of a bottle of Absolut clutched protectively in his fist. 

“Oh no,” Liam whispers sadly, his smile sliding off his face. “When did he start doing that?”

“About twenty-five minutes ago.”

“And I didn’t notice?” 

“You were busy talking to that woman. You looked giddy. I didn’t want to interrupt you. Until -- until I had to. I’m afraid Lou’s endangered himself.”

“Why?” 

“See that man over there by the bar? Built like a house, leering smile, scary crew cut? He’s holding a beer.”

“Oh, him,” Liam says, nodding. “Yeah, he looks like a predator.”

“He’s going to eat Louis.”

“Oh, but Louis’s had worse...”

“No, no -- he’s filming tomorrow. And that guy looks like he’s got a fucking python hidden away in those pants. Louis’s arse should be, you know, rested.”

“You’re probably right.”

“Of course I’m right.” Zayn kisses Liam on the nose. “Plus he just looks like a twat.”

“Agreed. So what do we do about him?” 

Zayn frowns, stepping over to the table. Louis’s arm swings in front of his face, and Zayn catches his wrist, gently removing the bottle of vodka from his hand.

“How very dare you!” Louis cries, immediately jumping off the table, landing surprisingly steady (though he falls onto Liam shortly after, mouth gaping dumbly.) 

“That was easier than I expected,” Liam comments.

“He’s predictable,” Zayn shrugs. 

“Am not!” Louis protests loudly. “Am not! I am a fucking portrait of wild spontaneity!  An exhilarating cocktail of adventure and zest. I’m zesty!” 

Zayn puts his arm around Louis’s shoulders, expressionless. He puts his other arm around Liam’s waist. “Louis, shut up. We’re walking.” Together, they leave the bar, stumbling suspiciously as Zayn concentrates on sobering up enough to take care of his lightweight boyfriend and his boozy best friend. 

“How the fuck did you even get an entire bottle? They don’t just give out bottles.”

“Well,” Louis slurs. “They do if you’re irresistibly sexy. You wouldn’t know anything about that.”

“Or if you show the bartender your bum,” Liam says, smiling sweetly, before stumbling on air. 

“Shut up! Lies and blasphemy!” Louis screams.

Zayn slaps his hand over Louis’s mouth. The street is not crowded, but there is a cop car on the corner and Zayn would rather not get arrested for his best friend’s idiotic drunken misbehavior. 

“Kinky,” Louis says, muffled through Zayn’s fingers. Zayn squeezes his jaw. Louis licks his hand. Zayn’s hand springs away, disgusted.

“You’re an insufferable arsehole.”

Louis giggles. When they finally arrive at Zayn’s flat, Liam sets up a bed on the couch for Louis. He gently guides him over despite Louis’s belligerent attempts to bite his face.  He tucks the covers around him and kisses Louis’s forehead. Louis sighs happily. 

“You know, this is like the eighth night in a row you’ve slept at ours.”

“I know, I’m so sorry,” Louis says sleepily. “You could be having so much sex on this couch.”

Liam blushes, swatting at him. Zayn comes up behind him, wrapping his arms around Liam’s waist. “And why aren’t you sleeping at your flat again?” Zayn asks. 

“I don’t like my flat anymore,” Louis mumbles.

“And why not?”

“Because it’s ugly.”

“Well that’s ‘cause you never pick up any of your shit.”

“Well there’s no one for me to pick it up for!” 

“Right. Except, you know, you,” Zayn says flatly.

“I think he’s trying to say that there’s no one he’s trying to impress,” Liam says.

“Liam’s nailed it!” Louis cries. 

“Well you should still try to keep it clean for yourself,” Zayn says.

“And why’s that?”

“I dunno, so you don’t die.”

“You’re overdramatic.”

“Suit yourself, mate. Hope the couch is comfortable,” Zayn salutes him, and drags Liam to their room. “Night, Lou.”

“Oh shut up, you lovesick twat!” Louis shouts after them. Zayn closes the door. He leans against it, and looks at Liam with raised eyebrows.

“This is getting ridiculous.”

“And also sad,” Liam adds, frowning.

“And also sad.”

“What if we set him up?”

“On a date? No, Lou’s got no problem getting dates.”

“Then why can’t he find himself a goddamn boyfriend?”

“Well, ‘cause --”

Liam just furrows his eyebrows. It’s adorable, so Zayn takes him by the chin and kisses him. Liam stares back, still confused.

“You don’t think--”

“It’s got to be.”

“But he’s a fucking porn star! Boys should be lining up around the corner!”

“Right, and they do. Problem is they only want to stay the night.”

“Well...I mean, that’s not so bad. Louis loves sex.”

“Yeah, but he’s still human. He still needs cuddles and someone to bring home to meet his Mum and bring him cutesy shit on Valentine’s Day.”

Liam frowns. “You’ve made me sad.”

“I’m sorry. But also not. Because I like that I have you to fuck me and also give me cutesy shit.”

“Romantic.”

Zayn just kisses him on the nose again. 

“And Louis -- Louis told you he wanted that? Like, a boyfriend, a real boyfriend?”

“I mean, in his own Louis-ish way...yeah.”

“So basically we have to find somebody that doesn’t know he’s a pornstar.”

“That’s probably our best bet.”

“How about -- how about that friend of yours from uni, the one with--”

“Liam, babe, any one we know is going to know he’s a pornstar.”

“That’s not true! What about Paul? Paul doesn’t know--”

“Yeah because it would break him, bless his poor Catholic heart.”

“Fine. So what do you propose we do, then, oh wise one? Craigslist?”

“No, I don’t want him held captive in the demented clutches of some pervert on Craigslist, I just want it to be more organic, you know, then us playing matchmaker.”

“Wait! I’ve got it!”

“Here we go.”

“That kid, you know...Danielle’s friend! We met him at her birthday dinner! He was really tall and friendly and...ugh, I forget his name. I think it was Glen.”

“Glen? No one even semi-appealing can be named Glen. It just not a part of God’s plan for sexy people to be named Glen, I’m sorry. It’s out of the question.”

“Oh shut up, Zayn, he was fine! He was fit, and exactly Louis’s type--”

“No, Liam, what are you talking about. Louis usually goes for the uglies--”

"Would you stop?” Liam kicks him. “Please take this seriously! I think this guy could work. He’s single, he’s fit, he’s in university for like...sports medicine or something. He was tall. Louis likes tall. And he was curly-haired. Louis likes that.”

“Wait, I do remember him. He drank over an entire bottle of merlot by himself and was completely fine. Terrifying alcohol tolerance. Not sure what that means.”

“Well, what do you say then? Should we call Danielle? Try to set them up?”

“I mean, yeah, go for it. I don’t think Louis’ll take this too well, though. He’ll think we feel sorry for him, the proud little cunt.”

“He’ll get over it when he sees Glen,” Liam smiles proudly, holding the phone to his ear.

“You’re cute,” Zayn says, sprawling out on their bed. Liam sits cross-legged against the wall. 

“You’re mean, but I like you anyways. Oh! Hello! No, Dani, that was not directed at you-- though I do like you, of course.”

Liam pauses while she speaks, scrunching his face up at Zayn, who mirrors his expression. “I have a bit of a weird favor to ask. Louis needs a date. A date who isn’t some perv looking to hook up with a pornstar. And I was thinking -- that guy Glen, do you still know him? At least I think his name was Glen. Tall, goes to uni around here, dark curly hair...he was at your birthday party. Yes! That’s the one! He’s gay, right?”

Liam gives Zayn the thumbs up. 

“Is he single?” 

Another thumbs up.

“So what do you say? I think they should at least go out once, see how they like each other. Ah, excellent. You’re the best. I love you, I’ll call you tomorrow.” Liam hangs up.

“We’re in! Also his name isn’t Glen, it’s Donald.”

“Oh my god, that’s even worse.”

Liam smacks him with a pillow. 

-

“You what.” Louis sounds murderous, hair pillow-disheveled and eyes dark with exhausted shadows. 

“We set you up! On a date!” Liam is practically bouncing with excitement.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” He cries, holding his head in his hands, temples pounding, punishing him with a vicious hangover. “Oh god, it’s going to be so awkward...what kind of sad fuck has to get set up? Sweet Jesus, I’m losing it...my looks are going...I’m getting weird and wrinkly, aren’t I? No one wants to fuck me anymore!”

“Louis, shut up, you’re being stupid,” Zayn cuts in. “Look, we just thought it’d be a nice change for you for once to meet someone who doesn’t know about your rather problematic profession. That’s all.”

“Well, he’ll find out eventually! It’s sort of a difficult secret to keep, as you bloody well know!” 

“Louis, calm down. It’s going to be fine. If he finds out, he finds out. But this way you know that he’s not interested in because you’re a porn star, yeah? It’s just another fact about you.”

“But how could he possibly want to keep seeing someone that literally gets fucked by other men, AKA men that are not him for a living. I’m like a professional cheater! A dirty slutty adulteress!”

“Okay, one you can’t be an adulteress because that’s a feminine term, mate, and two, you’re not getting married, you haven’t even seen the guy yet, so don’t get so ahead of yourself. Just, take it slow, one date at a time. Look, Glen -- I mean, Donald, whatever -- might be a complete twat and then you never have to see him again. Or he could be an absolute doll and you really hit it off and then whoops, one day he finds out you just so happen to be a pornstar and guess what? He’s totally understanding about it.”

“That’s a fairy tale, Zayn. Porn stars can’t be in relationships! We’re professional sluts!"

“Oh shut up, you miserable little twat -- don’t you see you’re insulting the people standing right in front of you?”

“But you’re both in porn, it’s different!”

“What, you think I don’t get jealous when Liam has to film a scene with someone who isn’t me? You think it’s not weird for me to fuck someone who isn’t Liam? Because it is! But it’s a job. Just a fucking job. It means nothing. I know that, Liam knows that. You will find somebody. Maybe it’ll be this Donald person, maybe it won’t.”

Louis shakes his head, then says, quite seriously, “I’m going to die alone.”

Zayn throws his hands into the air. “Liam, take over. I can’t take him anymore.” He stalks away into the kitchen.

Liam smiles apologetically at Louis, folding him into his chest. “Lou? You’re beautiful.”

“Thank you, Liam,” Louis says, his voice muffled in Liam’s chest. “You’re very beautiful as well.”

“I’m willing to bet that’s how we got into porn.”

“I’d say you’ve nailed it again, Li.”

They sit quietly for a moment. “Was it your idea or Zayn’s?” Louis asks after a silence.

“Erm, well. Both, I think.”

“Is it because I’m preventing you from glorious couch sex?”

“No, babe, it’s because we want you to be happy.”

“But that’s too cute.”

“But it’s true.”

“Fine, then. Well how’d you know I was unhappy anyways?”

“Because you’re not as a good a liar as you think you are.”

“I’m a fantastic liar.”

“Yeah, but -- not to us. We know you, Boo Bear.”

“Please don’t call me that.”

“Boo Bear, I know all your masks. And I know you’re not happy with people treating you like a whore. I see how sad you get.”

“Okay, you’re making me sound like a really pathetic little cunt.”

“I don’t mean to! All I’m saying is you can pretend to be fine all you want but Zayn and I know you better than that.”

“Well then I hate you both.”

“Impossible,” says Zayn from the doorway, balancing three cups of tea. He sets them down on the table. “Don’t you have balls to shave or something?”

“How dare you suggest that my downstairs area is anything less than baby-smooth? I’m like an infant down there. Besides, I’m not allowed to do it myself anymore. El says I don’t do a ‘thorough enough’ job.” Louis’s voice takes on a haughty inflection. 

“Arseholes.”

“Exactly. Arseholes. Just arseholes who are obsessed with my arsehole. Too many arseholes!”

“I don’t even remember what my pubes look like anymore. I miss them,” Liam says sadly.

“How can you miss something you don’t remember?” Zayn asks seriously.

“You know, like how a mother might miss a baby she put up for adoption. Or aborted.”

“That very well may be the worst analogy you’ve ever made, darling. I’d stick to cock sucking, if I were you,” Louis interjects.

“Hey now--!” Liam begins to protest.

“A talent’s a talent, babe.” Zayn grins.

“Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be protecting my honor or something?” 

“Or something.”

“Dicks, both of you.”

“Ohhhh, look at this bad bitch, calling me names.” Louis turns to Zayn conspiratorially. “Better keep your eye on that one Zayn, he’s got a dirty little potty mouth.”

“That he does.”

“Stop it, the both of you! You’ve embarrassed me. It’s all very upsetting.”

“Don’t worry, babes. If you’d like, I’ll suck your cock, right now,” Zayn says appeasingly, grinning.

“Oh, get a room, I don’t want to hear that!” Louis groans.

“Don’t pretend like you have shame, Louis Tomlinson. You’ve seen all our porn.”

“By force. Simon makes me watch them. It was 100% non-consensual.”

“You were hard.”

“And how on Earth would you know a thing like that!”

“So you don’t deny it.”

“Argh -- Zayn! Twat! Cocksucking little motherfucker...” Louis grumbles under his breath, downing the rest of his tea and throwing the cup into the sink with a dull clatter. “I’m going to the studio.”

“Why? It’s only 11,” Liam says, ripping his neck away from Zayn’s mouth. 

“Because they’ve got to shave my balls before the shoot,” Louis says tonelessly, grabbing his coat from where he’d tossed in on the floor the night before. 

“Nasty,” Zayn says cheekily. 

Louis throws him a dirty look as he stomps out the door. 

“I think he forgot his script,” Liam says, glancing at the stack of paper on the counter.

--

“Oh, Jesus Titty Fucking Christ, that’s cold,” Louis moans, bent awkwardly over a table while El’s assistant shaves his balls. “Can’t you like, rub it between your hands or something instead of spraying it directly on my bum? It isn’t fair. None of this is fair. Who else has to do this? What other occupation lists “hairless genitals” as a pre-requisite?”

No one answers him. He twists his head around to stare sharply at the assistant. “Bet Eleanor didn’t tell you this was a part of the job, did she, hmm? Thought you might be doing a bit of paperwork, some copying, perhaps making a cup of tea every now and then, right?”

Eleanor steps into the room with a clipboard and flicks Louis’s thigh with the tip of her pen. “Please don’t respond to anything he says,” she says flatly to the assistant. “And Louis stop being a prick. This is unpleasant enough.”

“How dare you -- it’s a privilege. That there is a one million dollar bum. It’s fucking delightful down there. I should get it insured. This girl’s probably having the time of her life, aren’t you?”

“Again, you don’t have to respond. It only encourages him.”

Louis makes a face at Eleanor. She smiles down at him sweetly, ruffling his hair. “Now today you’re filming with Peter--” she starts, before Louis cuts her off with a groan.

“I hate Peter. I hate all of those ‘gay-for-pay’ pricks.”

“Consider it your job to turn him, then,” Eleanor says sharply. “You’ll be in Studio 2. I’m assuming you read the script...”

“Yeah, I think I left mine at home though.”

“Angela will get you a copy when she’s done.” She nods to the assistant, who is presumably Angela. “Just bring it to Hair and Makeup.”

Angela hands Louis a towel when she finishes. “Babe, if I had even a shred of modesty left, I wouldn’t be in porn.” She shrugs and puts it back, then leaves to make copies.

“I like her. Everyone should be mute,” Louis comments when the door shuts. Eleanor throws a robe at him and asks him to stand. 

“Modesty or not, not everyone wants to see your dick. Come on, we’re going to Hair and Makeup.”

“But it’s beautiful,” Louis protests, shrugging on the robe. He follows her down the corridor, but stops abruptly when they reach the door. Peter is inside. 

They make awkward eye contact as Louis steps into the room. Peter looks like a gym rat -- tall and sculpted, without an inch of fat or good manners. “Hello again,” Louis says brightly, smiling cheerfully. He plops down in the seat next to him. Peter smiles tightly in return, but doesn’t make eye contact. Louis frowns. 

“Peter, how old are you?”

“26.”

“Ah. Okay. Erm...” Louis searches for something to say, but there’s nothing. They sit in uncomfortable silence.

The makeup artist steps inside, and Louis smiles perhaps a bit too excitedly, grateful for someone besides Peter to talk to.

“Lucy!” He exclaims. 

She kisses the top of his head. “Hello, my Lou Lou.”

“You know, only you get to call me that. Anyone else would get a slap."

He shoots Peter a look, who says nothing, choosing instead to stare at himself in the mirror, stony-faced.

“Is that your brooding face, Peter?” Louis asks innocently. “It’s quite effective. I can feel its smoldering power from here.”

Peter’s finally makes eye contact with Louie, glaring at him in a way he probably thinks is intimidating. Louis returns his glare with a smile, unfazed.

“Louie, play nice,” Lucy scolds gently, scooping two of her fingers under his chin to dust powder on his cheekbones. 

“I am playing nice! I complimented him.” He can’t turn his head, so he settles for stretching his gaze as far as he can in Peter’s direction. “Peter, I think you’re very good-looking. You’d be surprised how rare that is. Not rare that I found someone good-looking -- because that’s not rare at all, in fact my standards are sub-par at best -- but rare that someone’s so good-looking in porn. Though, if I’m being perfectly honest, it was probably your dick that got you the job. Though I’m assuming you’ll take that as an even bigger compliment.”

Peter simply grunts in response, twiddling with his phone. 

“Peter, please talk to me. We can’t go on like this!” Louis says dramatically, in his best impersonation of a swooning soap opera heroine. “I feel so distant from you! We used to haveconversations! You won’t even look at me! Oh, Peter, please, I can hardly stand it!” Lucy giggles. Peter stands up forcefully, his chair screeching unpleasantly on the floor.

“When is my hair and makeup person going to come?” Peter complains loudly. 

I’m your hair and makeup person,” Lucy says, still bent over Louis’s face. 

“What kind of face am I getting anyways?” Louis asks, ignoring Peter’s irritated grumbling beside him.

“Well you’re playing a student, so I’m just trying to make you look a little younger. All fresh-faced and lovely.”

“And Peter?”

“He’s going to be dressed up like a proper professor. No makeup, unless Simon decides otherwise at the last minute, but he is going to get some gel in his hair, make his curls a little more defined.”

Eleanor enters with a clothing rack. “Boys, here are your costumes. Lucy can help if you have any trouble. I expect you in Studio 2 in ten.”

“Thank you, El!” Louis shouts after her.

Peter merely grunts. 

“Go on, Lou, you’re finished,” Lucy says, messing up his hair a bit before moving on to Peter. 

“Oh God, this is so cheesy,” Louis moans, picking up the schoolboy button-down and tie. “I can’t wait until I’m too old to still be playing schoolboys. Wait, fuck that -- if I’m still doing porn when I’m too old to play schoolboys, you can shoot me.”

Peter shoots him a dirty look. Once Lucy finishes his hair, he joins Louis at the clothing rack. His costume consists of a blazer, slacks, and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses.

While shimmying into his too-tight schoolboy trousers, Louis accidentally knocks over Peter’s glasses with his elbow. He apologizes and picks them up. Peter snatches them with a glower before leaving for the studio. He doesn't wait for Louis. Lucy smiles at Louis apologetically. 

“It’s alright, they’re all like that,” he says, voice straining to remain cheerful. “Sometimes I like to pretend they’re method acting -- getting into character, you know, before they have to fuck me all rough and manly-like. I think this one gets to hit me with a ruler. ‘Teach me a lesson’ or something. I’m sure he’ll like that.”

“Well, he can’t get too rough.”

“Yeah, but he will. And Simon’ll let him, because it looks good on camera.” Lucy frowns at this. “But don’t worry!” He says, reaching out to pat her shoulder. “I’ll be fine, I’m used to it, really. I’m sure I scare Peter a lot more than he scares me!” Louis says, as if he’s trying to convince himself as much as her. “I’ll see you next weekend, Lu!” 

He hurries over to the Studio, and feels his pulse speeding up a little bit, like it always does before a shoot. Peter doesn’t scare Louis. He doesn’t. But he doesn’t like Louis, and he’s stupid, and a bad actor -- it’s a nasty combination that Louis is used to. He can’t make them act better, and he definitely can’t improve their intelligence, but he can try, desperately, to make them like him in the twenty or thirty minutes he gets with them before a shoot. It usually doesn’t work. Some of them are nice, of course, but that’s rare. These particular models are chosen because of their dicks, their bodies, and their overcompensatory amount of testosterone. They claim they’re straight but there’s also, in every single one of them, a small hidden pocket of raging homosexuality. They’re aware of their “degeneracy,” and they hate it, and they hate Louis for bringing it out of them. He’s punished for it every time. 

Simon greets him in his usual standoffish way. He carelessly fixes Louis’s hair, pats his cheek, and pushes him over the set desk. There’s a chalkboard mounted on the wall behind it, and a big, swiveling chair that Peter is currently sprawled on, wearing his brooding face. Louis smiles at him, with a meek sort of wave. Peter merely nods. Simon guides Louis through his marks, pointing to a little line of blue tape. 

When he finally leaves, Louis is left standing awkwardly alone with Peter. “Shall we run our lines then?” Louis suggests, trying to hide his nerves. He doesn’t like the cruel way Peter is looking at him.

“Nah, I looked at them beforehand.”

Louis tries not to become frustrated. “Yes, so did I, but see now we’re here together--”

“I don’t want to.”

“Alright, sorry, mate, just thought I’d ask,” Louis says, biting down on his temper. 

Simon shouts at them from behind his camera. “We’re starting in 2. Louis, stand on the line. Peter, stay where you are. But sit up.” Eleanor places a stack of fake papers for Peter to grade on the desk. 

“When I say action, start going through the papers, pretend to read them, and use that pen to scribble on them. Make it look good. Louis, on your cue, approach his desk, and ask him about your failing grade. You’re trying to persuade him to pass you. You’re innocent and sweet, but not totally innocent. But you’re not seducing him either. It’s on his terms. We roll in 1. El, fix Louis’s hair -- stop playing with it!” 

“Sorry!” 

“And...action!”

--

“Mr. Lucas. What can I help you with?” Peter says, exaggerating the deepness of his voice. Louis cringes, forcing himself to  plaster on his best impression of an innocent schoolboy. 

He bites his lip, twisting his hands together nervously. “Well, sir, it’s just that -- I saw that I had a failing grade in the class. My father’s going to be so angry with me--” Louis bats hie eyelashes, ridiculously. “Is there -- isn’t there anything I can do? To raise my grade?”

“Absolutely not, Lucas. That’s the grade you earned, and you’ll keep it.”

“I’m sorry, sir, it’s just that I get so -- so --” Louis pauses for dramatic effect. “Distracted.” He gasps a little on the last syllable, his eyes flicking obviously up and down Peter’s body. 

“So what do you propose I do then?” Peter says, the words falling out awkward and stiff.  Louis contains his cringe.

“Whatever you want, sir. I’ll do anything,” Louis begs. Peter leers unattractively.

“I don’t know, Lucas. I’m not sure you deserve a second chance.

Please, sir, just one more chance.”

The rest of the dialogue isn’t worth documenting. Peter tells Louis to get on his knees. Louis sucks his cock, but Peter doesn’t come. Peter bends Louis over the desk. He fucks him.

It’s the kind of fucking that makes Louis feel ugly and worthless. Peter barely touches him, just leaves Louis’s cock to smear wetly against the desk, barely hard, while he slams his hip into Louis’s arse. Meanwhile, Peter’s hands remain on the desk, gripping it tightly, while Louis moans and tosses his head back and begs for more, trying to hide the fact that his cock is barely even at half-mast. Then Peter moves to his chair, and Louis rides him. Again, Peter hardly touches him. Simon’s camera is right on top of him for the close-up shots, and Louis jerks himself off harder than the shoot calls for, but he isn’t hard enough and Simon will want the come shot soon. Finally, with a gasp of pain that he prays sounds more like a gasp of pleasure, Louis comes on Peter’s stomach. Peter picks Louis up and puts him on the desk, (the most he’s touched him the entire shoot) and shoots his load on the desk between Louis’s thighs. He scoops it up on his fingers and makes Louis lick it off. Louis can’t imagine why anyone would get off on this -- it feels clinical and awkward and even though Louis gave it his all, he’s positive that Peter’s dull surliness will overshadow any sex appeal he might have otherwise had.

The minute Simon calls cut, Louis is gone. He accepts the robe Eleanor hands him, barely able to muster a grateful smile before he hurries to the showers. He’s surprised to find Zayn and Liam inside, pressed against the sinks, kissing. They look lovely and intimate. Usually it would make him happy -- now he just feels sick. 

“Hello,” he says, trying to sound more chipper than he feels. They break away, startled. Zayn’s face lights up immediately. 

“Louis!” Liam exclaims, going in for a hug.

Louis stops him. “You don’t want to do that, mate. I’ve got all sorts of fluids on me.” He drops his towel gracelessly and steps into the shower. 

“How was your shoot?” Zayn asks, his voice echoing strangely in the bathroom.

“Eh, you know. Pretty good,” Louis says, suddenly grateful for the curtain hiding his face. He scrubs himself furiously.

“You were with Peter, right?” Liam asks.

“Yeah. Huge cock.”

“Was he nice?” He sounds tentative. Liam and Zayn both know Peter, and all the other models under Simon’s employment that claim they’re “straight.” 

“Yeah!” Louis says, his voice going a little too high-pitched. “You don’t have a shoot tonight, right?”

“No -- we’re just hiding in here until Simon figures out our schedule for next weekend. I think I persuaded him to give us at least two scenes together, so that’s good.”

“Ah, that’s great!” Louis says brightly. He turns the water to cold and stands under it for a moment. His cheeks still feel hot from the shoot. Finally, he turns off the water and steps out. Liam hands him a towel. 

“He didn’t happen to mention anything about me, did he?”

“Not really, they just mentioned that feature-length thing they’ve had in the works now. They were talking about who they want to cast for what parts.”

“What’s the theme?”

“I dunno, think it’s like a boarding school thing.”

“I refuse to play another schoolboy! Flat out refuse!” Louis says loudly.

“Hey, bring it up with Simon, not me,” Zayn says. “El put your clothes on the counter, by the way.”

Louis pulls on his clothes and towel-dries his hair, then beckons them to follow him. When they reach Simon’s office, Peter is also waiting outside. Louis freezes, swallowing, feeling uncomfortable, but approaches him anyways. Louis clears his throat and says, somewhat hoarsely, “Hey, Peter. You were really good today.”

“Thanks,” Peter says shortly. He offers no compliments in return. Liam and Zayn watch the exchange, frowning. 

Simon finally steps out of his office, handing them each a sheet of paper. “Liam and Zayn, you have a shoot together next Wednesday. If that will stifle your bitching for at least two weeks, I’ll be satisfied,” Simon says, winking at them. “Liam’s the bottom. Zayn, you’re playing the straight lad who’s recently found himself getting aroused by his best friend. His curiosity stirs. His imagination runs wild. Is he straight after all? Naturally, he must fuck Liam, lest his sanity run away from him. Easy enough, yes? Excellent. And Peter, you’re off for the week. Also I’d like to speak you with in my office for a moment before I let you go. And Louis, you have a scene with the new boy -- Tyler. That’s on Friday. And you’re topping. See you lads next weekend. Liam and Zayn, keep the fucking to a minimum, please. I need you desperately horny on Wednesday.”

Liam blushes in response. They wave their goodbyes. Louis tries not to notice the fierce glare that Peter shoots at his back.

“What the fuck is up with Peter?” Zayn asks bluntly, as soon as they leave the building. 

“What do you mean?” Louis asks innocently.

“He was a fucking prick to you! And why would Simon want to talk to him?”

“I don’t -- I don’t know --”

“He was rather rude,” Liam says seriously, putting his arm around Louis’s waist. “But I thought you had a good shoot?”

“Yeah, but you know how those lads are -- always have to be so aggressively straight-laced about it, lest I get the absolutely insane impression that they actually want to fuck me.”

They walk in silence back to their building. Louis’s is farther down the street. Liam and Zayn look at each other, utterly bewildered, when Louis continues walking past their building, waving goodbye. 

“Where are you going?”

“What do you mean? I’m going home,” Louis says.

“But -- well, why don’t you come up for a drink or something?” Liam asks.

“No, I’ve interrupted your couch sex for far too long. I’ll see you later, though!”

“What’ll you do, then?”

“I don’t know...sleep, probably,” Louis grins, overly chirpy. “I can manage on my own, you know!”

“I know, but--!” Liam begins to protest, but Louis’s back has already turned. Zayn puts his hand on Liam’s arm, dragging himself.

“Come on, babe.”

-

At 4 AM, Liam is shaken awake by Zayn. He scrubs his hand over his face groggily.

“What is it?”

“Listen to this.”

Zayn holds the phone to Liam’s ear. At first he hears nothing, then footsteps and odd, slurred mumbling, then a sort of slurping sound, and then the unmistakable sound of sobbing. It’s Louis. 

They hears his voice: “Zayn. Zayn, I dun know where I am -- but -- but --” He breaks off, hiccuping and crying. “I can’t see -- ugh -- and I smelllll. Zayn I’m sorry -- Liam I’m sorry -- you -- whatsyer name? I’m sorry -- oh no -- oh no --” He’s retching. “Fuckfuck, fucking fuckfuckfuck.” And then the voicemail ends. 

Liam sits up. “We have to find him.”

“How?”

“I don’t know!” Liam cries, hands wringing frantically as he looks for a shirt. “We’ll go to his flat first, see if maybe someone saw him? Maybe he’s even made it home by now...”

Zayn pulls on a sweatshirt and stuffs his keys and phone into the pocket. “Guess it’s worth a shot.”

It’s dark and silent out, but thankfully not too cold. They jog to Louis’s building and rush up the stairwell, which smells awful, like piss and vomit--

And then they see the vomit. And then they see Louis. He’s passed out, curled up small on the last step. He’s wearing someone else’s shirt and clutching a bottle of rum to his chest. His fly is down, and there is a smear of come on his trousers. Liam crouches down, gently shaking him awake. No response.

“Ah, he’s gone, Li,” Zayn grumbles. He picks Louis up under his arms, where he flops limply, and transfers him to Liam, who lifts him up, bridal-style. Zayn pries the bottle from Louis’s fingers. “Feels like deja vu.” 

They carry him into his flat. Liam lays him carefully on his bed, taking off his shoes and tucking him in. Zayn brings him a glass of water and an aspirin. “Should we write him a note?” He whispers. 

“Nah, he’ll know. We’ll call him in the morning, bring him breakfast or something.”

“We’re going to have to,” Zayn whispers, glancing around the filthy room. “I doubt he even has any food here. Or dishes. Or soap. Or a fuckin’ laundry basket.” Zayn kicks aside a stray pair of trousers, and a shoe. “Oy, is that a skirt? What the fuck’s a skirt doing in here?”

“I also count, let’s see - one, two, oh, that’s three thongs.”

“Did Louis have a heterosexual orgy?”

“There’s no way. He said himself -- he finds vaginas ‘unpleasantly mysterious.’

“Maybe he was trying to solve the mystery.”

“Somehow I think he was doing something much more perverse. Oh, that’s a dildo,” Liam says lightly, as they step carefully around stray trash, an apple core, crumpled gum wrappers, at least three used condoms, a roll of duct tape, an orange rind, yet another dildo, much larger than the last, a half-eaten carton of french fries, a pair of handcuffs, a laptop charger, and a stack of birthday cards for his sisters and his mum.

“How does he live like this?” The living room isn’t as bad -- mostly rotting food, more trash, loose DVDs without cases, and some scattered, dog-eared books. 

“I don’t know.”

“It’s like a cave of degenerate sex and whorish self-loathing. Where dignity comes to die.”

“I feel like I need a good, long shower just standing in here.”

“He’s probably got all sorts of dark creatures lurking in here.”

“You think he’ll clean up before his date with Donald?”

“For Donald’s sake, I really fucking hope so.”

--

They come back around 8 AM. Louis’s hangovers always wake him up early, as Liam and Zayn well know. They bring him a big, beautiful, hangover-curing fry-up that Louis eats slowly and painfully. 

“So, erm...would you like to explain that voicemail? And why you were passed out in the stairwell?” Zayn says, straightforward as always. 

“It’s quite a simple story, really,” Louis says with a mouthful of egg. “I felt shitty. Went out. Found this really fit guy to buy me a drink -- he was kind of short, but had a good body still, and a bit creepy, but I got to that nice blurry point where I didn’t care -- and then there were body shots, somewhere, and tequila. My arch-nemesis. Anyways, I guess he fucked me at his. I don’t remember. I also don’t remember getting home. That’s the story.” He throws down his fork with a clatter and stands up, disappearing into the kitchen. Liam and Zayn share a look, raising their eyebrows.

From the kitchen, he shouts, “How much was that breakfast, anyways? I’ll pay you back for it. You lads are too good to me. I don’t deserve you. I really don’t. How about a drink?” He emerges from the kitchen with a bottle of wine.

“Louis, it’s not even noon yet,” Liam says.

“You also gotta date, tonight, mate,” Zayn says, debating whether or not to take the bottle away from him. “Maybe you should clean this place up, yeah? And be, you know, sober. For your date.”

“Will he really care, though? I mean, really? If I’m drunk and dirty. I don’t think he will. He’s not going to like me. He’s going to learn that I’m in porn and think I’m a horrible slut. And if he doesn’t find out right away he’ll know just by looking at me because I am, in fact, a horrible slut. Now, would you like a drink or not? Otherwise I will just drink straight out the bottle.”

Zayn sighs. “Louis, you’re being a prick.”

“Add it to the list, then. I’m a drunk, a dirty slut, and a prick. I think all that adds up to perfect boyfriend material, yeah?”

Liam’s expression is disappointed. “Zayn, go run him a bath, will you?”

Zayn nods, pausing when he arrives at the door to the bathroom. He looks back at Louis. “Do you even have a bath?”

“Yes, but it’s filled with semen,” Louis snaps, picking at the rest of his breakfast.

“Prick,” Zayn mumbles under his breath, but goes to fix his bath, regardless.

“Louis? Talk to Daddy Liam. Please?”

“You can’t refer to yourself as Daddy Liam, it’s weird.”

“I’m just trying to help!”

“I know, and you’re doing a wonderful job. I’m just feeling a little...smothered.”

Liam stands up, snatching away the rest of Louis’s breakfast and stacking it on top of his precariously overcrowded trash. “Oh, you’re feeling smothered, are you? Cool. Excellent. I’ll just back off then. Zayn and I both. We’ll just go and leave, maybe visit in a week or two, make sure you’re still alive.”

“Liam...”

“What, Louis? What is it? If you act like a fucking child, I’m going to treat you like a fucking child. You clearly can’t take of yourself. Or perhaps you can, but you won’t, ‘cause you went and got this ridiculous idea that you’re a worthless slut--”

“I’m fine, okay!” Louis interjects, pleading. “I’m fine. I’m sorry, okay, I don’t mean to do this, I don’t want you to feel like you have to take care of me. I’ll -- I’ll clean up, alright? I will, and I’ll feed myself, and I’ll go on this date with this nice boy, who probably deserves much better than me, but I’ll try, okay?”

“But I want you to do it for you, not for me. Louis, Zayn and I just want you to be happy, okay? If you really don’t want to go on this date, you don’t have to. We just thought...I dunno, it might be nice to meet someone outside of porn. Like a real, proper date. Not another one of your little sexcapades, okay?”

“Liam, you just said ‘sexcapades.’”

“I know, I know, and I instantly regretted it.”

Louis's mouth twists at the corner. “Will you help me pick out an outfit?”

Liam claps his hands together. “Yes! Of course I will! And I’ll help you clean up! This place will be beautiful! You will be beautiful! Donald will be beautiful!”

“Where am I meeting him, anyways?”

Zayn re-enters Louis’s living room. “That place near the bridge. Italian place, it’s like moderately fancy. We went there with your mum, once.”

“Right, I don’t remember that at all.”

“Well, you were very drunk. But so was your mum, so I think it was fine.”

“Oy. Good genes, that.”

Liam just snorts and starts picking up trash. 

Three hours later, they’re still going. They dig out all the garbage bags they can find under Louis’s sink. Soon enough they’re filled to bursting with all of Louis’s perverse waste -- Liam unearths at least 20 empty Coronas from under Louis’s couch, plus a used condom, a film ticket stub, a deflated football, a dozen crumpled receipts, a flip flop, a cigarette bud, a playbill, and an unopened Twix bar, which Louis immediately starts to eat. 

His bedroom is worse. “Louis, you do realize that you actually have to wash your sheets? And change them. Like, at least twice a month. And really, with your lifestyle, practically every night,” Liam admonishes. 

“You don’t know my life.”

“Oh but I do! It’s all over your sheets, mate. If we had a black light right now I think I’d pass out. I count one, two, three, let’s see, that’s four come stains. And that’s blood.” Liam inspects the stain closer. “Yep, that’s definitely blood."

“I got my period,” Louis snaps.

“Oy! You’ve got used gum under here!” Liam cries, lifting up Louis’s mattress.

“I was saving it for later!”

“How you get people to fuck you in this disgusting place, I have no idea--”

“I’ll explain it to you. It’s really quite simple: We both get terribly fucked up to the point of no return. We lose restraint. Our inhibitions lower. We become desperately horny and prepared to rut wherever is most convenient at the time. The end.”

“When was the last time you even had a sober fuck?”

“Yesterday. When I was being filmed for the pleasure of angry, closeted homosexuals everywhere.”

“Fine. A sober fuck that wasn’t for porn,” Liam sighs, exasperated.

“Fucked if I knew. Last year, maybe?”

Liam shakes his head. “Well, you’re not getting drunk tonight.”

“And why, Sir Liam, is that?”

“Well you want to actually have a good date, don’t you?”

“And how do you propose I do that if I’m sober?”

“What do you mean?” Liam sputters. “Louis, drinking would be a bad idea, tonight. Come on, man. You know this.”

“In fact, I don’t know that. Nobody likes sober Louis. I don’t like sober Louis. Drunk Louis is better. Drunk Louis is the life of the party, and he’s fun, and people want to fuck him.”

Zayn peaks his head out from the bathroom. “Mate, you’re talking about yourself in the third person again.”

“Louis will do as he pleases!” Louis cries. 

“Lou, we didn’t set you up for you to get laid, again. We set you up to have a nice, sober date with this nice, attractive man, who doesn’t know about your career, or your reputation, or anything. And you promised you’d be good!”

“Fine, I’ll be good. I’ll be a good boy,” Louis grumbles. “Daddy,” he adds spitefully, and Liam blushes. 

“Louis, I mean it -- if you’re really that worked up about it, you don’t have to go, no one’s forcing you. I just thought it’d be nice--”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. And I appreciate it,” Louis assures him, clapping him on the shoulder reassuringly. “Zayn, how’s it coming?”

“It’s coming wet and sticky. Why the fuck can’t you put caps on things? Fucking toothpaste on everything, and hair gel, and your creepy baby oil. And this! What is this!” Zayn demands, pointing accusingly at a giant vibrator. “And why do you need 11 different bottles of lube? The fuck --” He sniffs. “Strawberry. You twat. And why is there a bottle of chocolate syrup down here?” He throws away a disposable razor, an empty bottle of cologne, and women’s conditioner. “Louis, explain this.”

“I like how it smells.”

“Jesus Christ, what the hell is this?” Zayn bellows, gingerly picking up a bar of soap that has been carefully and deliberately sculpted into the shape of a penis. 

“I get bored,” Louis shrugs, throwing his arm cheekily around Zayn’s shoulder. He lets go immediately with a squeal of delight when he finds a wine bottle under his sink.

“And what’s that for? Emergencies?” 

Louis ignores him with a disappointed sigh, peering inside the bottle. “It’s empty.”

“You’re disgusting.”

Liam comes into the bathroom. “Well, lads, I think we finally tamed the beast. The kitchen was actually surprisingly easy, because I don’t think you ever actually use it. Also your fridge has literally nothing but extremely old takeout and beer inside. And you have more liquor in your cabinets than plates, or bowls, or silverware. I’m taking you shopping.”

“Fine, fine, but not today--”

“Well, obviously. You’ve got a date to prepare for!” Liam says, rubbing his hands together. “Come on.” He shoves Louis back into the bedroom. “Now that your clothes are hanging in your closet properly, we can actually examine your wardrobe.”

Louis picks up his braces off the dresser. “What about these, can I wear them?”

“No, those make you look like a stripper.”

Louis pulls a face but concedes anyways. Together, Liam and Zayn assemble an appropriate outfit -- a rather feminine, dark-grey sweater that Louis objects to initially but Liam insists it makes his collarbones look “delicious,” and a pair of dark red trousers that fit tight across his bum. “Might as well show off your best asset,” Zayn says, clapping him on the shoulder with an infuriatingly self-satisfied grin. 

“Oh, because I’ve never heard that one before.”

“Don’t be smart, Lou. Now go on, get in the shower. I would’ve run that bath but I’m afraid of the pee stain in there.”

Louis grabs a towel from the closet and goes to the bathroom, but not before pointing at them threateningly, warning, “Don’t you dare fuck in here while I’m in the shower.”

“You couldn’t pay me to have sex in your filthy bed. There’s no telling what venereal diseases are marinating in those sheets of yours.”

“Make yourselves useful and wash them, then!” Louis shouts before shutting the door.

By the time he emerges in a billow of steam, fresh-faced and smelling of suspiciously girly hair products, Liam and Zayn have managed to successfully change his sheets and re-make his bed. 

Louis tugs on the clothes they pick out and examines himself in the full-length mirror. 

“Lou, you look dashing,” Liam assures him, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. Zayn steps up behind Louis, rubbing his shoulders. He sprays cologne in the dip between Louis’s collarbone. 

“There. Now you smell more like a man.”

Louis rolls his eyes, but his smile is sincere. The three of them make a pretty picture in the mirror -- Zayn has his head on Louis’s shoulder, one hand locked around Louis’s waist and the other tightly clutching Liam. 

“Seriously though,” Liam says, talking to Louis’s reflection in the mirror. “There’s no pressure, okay. You don’t have to see this guy. If Donald’s a twat, get the fuck out. Come to our apartment and we’ll watch a movie and have a cuddle.”

“What do I say if he asks about my work?” Louis asks nervously.

“I dunno. Say you’re an actor. It’s technically the truth,” Zayn offers. He presses one last kiss to Louis’s neck and steers him to the door. 

“You’re going to be fine.”

“I feel weird.”

“Mate, that’s called sobriety.”

Louis elbows him in the ribs. He checks his pockets for his phone, keys, wallet. “I think I need my emergency flask.”

“Absolutely not,” Liam says sternly, shoving Louis out the door. 

“Are you just going to wait here in my apartment, then?” Louis raises his eyebrows.

“We’re doing your laundry, you ungrateful little twat. Plus we want to be here when you get back.”

“What if he’s with me?”

“Then we’ll hide in your closet with the door cracked and watch you make love,” Zayn says dryly. “Buh bye now, sweet cheeks.”

They shut the door. Louis walks to the elevator, presses the button with a deep breath, and exhales. 

-

He gets to restaurant ten minutes early, wondering nervously if that makes him lame or impressive. Liam and Zayn described Donald as “tall, with dark curly hair, and a fit body.” He looks around the restaurant, and spots Donald leaning over the bar. 

Louis admires him from behind. He’s got a nice lanky body, and the way he’s bending over the counter highlights the steep bow of his shifting shoulder blades, muscles bunching under his loose-fitting shirt. He doesn’t have much of an ass, but he has legs that go for miles and good fashion sense: dark jeans and a loose-fitting henley shirt that looks really soft and hangs off his muscles nicely. Louis takes a deep breath, fixing his fringe quickly before tapping Donald on the shoulder. 

He turns around, slowly -- which is unexpected; Louis was afraid he might’ve taken him by surprise. Donald’s even nicer from the front -- he’s got wide green eyes, a gorgeous mouth Louis is prepared to stick his dick in, and a lovely jaw line. He frowns at Louis, surprised, and then his mouth slowly curves into a bemused smile. He has a dimple. Louis swallows.

“Donald, right?” Louis asks. “I’m Louis.”

“Nice to meet you, Louis,” Donald says. He’s got a deep, languid sort of voice. He smiles at Louis, like he’s amused by him, and sticks out his hand. Louis blinks at it for a moment, before realizes he’s supposed to shake it. Donald’s smile grows an inch longer. “But I don’t think I’m who you’re supposed to meet. Sorry, mate.”

“What -- what do you mean? I thought, erm...well didn’t Danielle tell you--?”

“Who’s Danielle?”

“What?”

“I’ve no idea who that is, or who you are.”

“Oh no,” Louis babbles, realization dawning on him. “You’re not called Donald at all are you, you’re Glen. See, like, that’s what we originally thought in the beginning--”

“My name’s Harry.”

Louis stops. “H-Harry?”

“Yeah. Sorry, man.” He looks Louis up and down, quite obviously. Louis flushes. 

“So, just to clear things up for my own sake, because I’m clearly a complete and utter idiot, you are not called Donald, or Glen, and you don’t know Danielle, or Liam, and you’re not supposed to be meeting me -- I’m Louis -- for a date.”

Harry -- not Donald -- smiles slowly. Louis finds that he’s quickly becoming irritated by how attractive he is.

“Er...” Someone says behind Louis, who turns around quickly, caught off guard. It’s a tall, curly-haired, fit-bodied man. Donald. “You’re Louis, right?” Donald says. He furrows his eyebrows at Harry, who just smiles wider, looking thoroughly amused. 

“Yes! I am Louis! And you are Donald! How exceedingly convenient!” Louis exclaims, smiling brightly up at Donald. 

“And you are...?” Donald starts to ask, looking directly at Harry.

“He doesn’t matter, I don’t know him, we shouldn’t bother him,” Louis advises quickly, taking Donald by the hand and leading them back over to the hostess stand. Louis sends one last apologetic look over his shoulder to Harry, who is staring at him so intensely that Louis has to suppress a shiver. 

The hostess leads Donald and Louis to their table, where Louis can finally get a good look at him. He has grey eyes, no dimples, no blinding smile, and no cock-sucker lips. He tries and fails not to glance at Harry, who is still standing at the bar. 

“Sorry, that was all a bit weird,” Louis says, smiling nervously. “Being set up in general is a bit weird, to be honest. I’ve er...heard really excellent things about you. From Liam and Danielle, I mean. You’re a student, right?” Louis rattles on, his hands twisting anxiously under the table.

Donald nods. “Yeah, studying sports medicine.”

“And how’s that?”

“Not so bad -- lots of work, but it’s cool.”

Their waitress arrives to take their order, and Louis panics quietly. Does he order a lot of food and look fat? Or a little and look self-conscious? He settles on spaghetti, but regrets it the moment the waitress leaves, remembering how messy spaghetti can be. He looks up from his panicking to find Donald staring at him curiously. He smiles, praying that it doesn’t look too forced.

“You look a bit familiar,” Donald says finally.

“Do I?” Louis says, panicking quietly.

“Yeah. What do you do again?”

“I’m um," Louis clears his throat, pink-cheeked. "I'm an actor.”

“Oh, that’s cool. Been in anything I might’ve heard of?”

“Probably not...mostly small parts, a commercial or two, I did this thing for TOMS, and I’ve been in a few plays.” Louis surprises himself; the lies are coming extremely easily. 

They chat about acting for a while, and Louis concludes that Donald is very attractive, very nice, and very dull. He glances at the bar again, against his will. Harry is chatting up a woman, who must be at least four years older than him, to apparent success. He has a beer in front of him, his fingers sliding enticingly around the bottle. His hands are huge, Louis notes. And of course, that is the moment Harry chooses to make eye contact with him. He stares at Louis intensely, a smirk forming at his lips, and then slowly tears his eyes away to look back at the woman.

Donald just keeps on talking, apparently oblivious. Their food finally arrives, and Louis tries to eat as daintily as possible, overly self-conscious of the potential mess. He never spills anything, but he does accidentally make eye contact with Harry again while licking a bit of sauce off his pinky, his tongue lingering at the corner of his mouth. He turns red, realizing it looks like he’s trying to seduce him. His eyes flicker away, back to Donald, smiling awkwardly. Donald is talking about tennis, or his professors, or something else that Louis tries very hard to be interested in but just can’t quite find it within him. 

When the check finally arrives, Donald takes it smoothly. Louis snatches it from him playfully, sticking his credit card in, but Donald’s hand closes on his wrist, pulls out his credit card, and slides it back into Louis’s hand.

“I’ve got this one,” he winks.

“Well aren’t you just a perfect gentleman,” Louis returns. It’s all very flirtatious, and Louis thinks that, dull as Donald might be, he really is quite stunning, and funny enough, and sweet. 

“Hang on,” Louis says as they stand up, Donald pocketing his credit card when it’s returned to him. He glances at Harry out of the corner of his eye. He’s still at the bar, still chatting up some beautiful, busty brunette, and still glancing at Louis far too often for it to be purely coincidental. “Let’s grab a drink before we leave.”

“Okay,” Donald shrugs. They amble over to the bar. Louis leans over and asks for two glasses of wine. He can feel a pair of eyes admiring the view -- he’s just not sure who the eyes belong to. He hands one glass to Donald and takes a long, lingering sip from his own. He can’t help but stare at Harry over the rim of his cup. It almost makes him choke on his wine -- Harry’s eyes look hot and dark under the dim light of the bar. He leans over to whisper something in the woman’s ear, but his eyes remain locked on Louis’s. 

“Louis?”

Louis swallows quickly, startled. “Sorry, yes?”

“Oh, I just asked what kind of wine you ordered.”

“Sorry, it’s Pinot Noir. Is it okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. Actually, I went to this wine-tasting once, with my sister, like 8 months ago I think...she just graduated so I thought we'd go to the south of France or something, like as my gift to her and...”

Donald continues talking, and Louis smiles and nods and brushes his hand on his arm at all the right moments. He takes his last sip, sparing one last glance at Harry before leaning in close and asking Donald if he’d like to go back with him to his flat.

“I’d...I’d love that, yeah.” 

Louis pays the tab and Donald leads Louis out of the restaurant. Louis can’t help but glance over his shoulder one last time at Harry who, of course, is already staring. Louis swears Harry winks at him -- though it could simply be a trick of the light. A shiver slinks down his spine anyways, coiling in his gut. 

Louis sends Liam a quick text on the walk home: “Hey Li? If you’re still in my flat, kindly get the fuck out. I’m getting laid tonight. ;) Btw, Donald’s a sexy gem. Good work, sir.” 

He blows Donald on his newly-cleaned couch, and rides him on his newly washed-sheets, relishing the feel of Donald’s big, callused hands -- reverent and roaming, streaking sweat across the bow of Louis’s spine, thumbing bruises into his hips, fingering him open carefully and fucking into him like Louis is some sort of god-send. He never stops kissing Louis -- kissing along the column of his throat to the knob of his collarbone to his nipples. He kisses Louis’s hands and the inside of his wrist and bites gently into his shoulder. Louis throws his head back and takes it. He feels loved. Appreciated. He throws away the condom this time and thanks Donald, afterwards. Donald thanks him back. 

The next morning, he makes Donald tea and pours him a bowl of cereal that he’s quite sure Liam bought for him. 

“Sorry, love. I can’t cook for shit,” he says, kissing his forehead and sitting down at the table beside him, digging into his own bowl. 

When Donald leaves, it’s with Louis’s number stored in his phone and a promise of a second date, “soon, very soon” and a playful smile. When the door closes, Louis is still smiling, and he calls Liam immediately.

“Donald is wonderful,” he says the moment he hears Liam pick up the phone. He doesn’t hear anything for a brief second, and then he gets an earful of squealing.

“Zayn! Zayn get your arse in your here! I’ll put him on speaker.”

Louis waits patiently. 

“Oy, I’m here,” Zayn says, sounding like he just woke up. 

“Louis, say it again,” Liam prompts.

“Donald is a doll.

“Tell me everything.”

“Well we got to the restaurant and he was really fit, like, really fit and I was afraid of making a mess or just a damn fool of myself but he seemed to actually like me! Like he genuinely seemed interested! And he talked about himself mostly, for obvious reasons...oh, he did ask about my work, and I said I was an actor...gave the performance of my life, really, for that bit. Clearly my skills are not being appropriately put to use. Anyways, he was a proper gentleman, paid the check and everything. And then I bought us drinks -- just a glass of wine each, Liam, I can hear your fucking panties twisting from here, you knob -- and then we went back to mine and had sex in my pretty, clean flat. And this morning we had breakfast. And it was all lovely.”

“See? See? I told you, Louis!” Liam says proudly. “I told you that you are wonderful and that he would love you and that he would be wonderful...to be honest I didn’t quite expect you to fuck him--”

“Liam, don’t you know our boy at all?” Zayn cuts him. “Louis doesn’t fuck on the first date, he fucks before the date even starts--”

“Zayn, next time I see you, remind me that I owe you a slap.”

“Oh whatever, Lou -- I’m happy for you. Really, mate. This is fucking excellent.”

“I guess I should thank you guys, really. I didn’t realize just how much I needed to meet someone who doesn’t know about the porn. Like, at first I felt a bit weird about lying but when we had sex, it was so worth it. He was really good and nice and respectful and it was quite refreshing, to be honest.”

They talk a little more, about Donald and how it felt to fuck in a clean apartment. After he hangs up, Louis showers, gets dressed, and goes to the supermarket, finally stocking up on normal food, and cleaning supplies, and more garbage bags because he, Liam, and Zayn had used practically all of them. He gets bread and fruit and ice cream and milk and some frozen dinners and pasta and more condoms. He eats alone that night, and watches a film, but he doesn’t feel lonely for a change, for the first time in what feels like months. 

The next day he goes for coffee with Donald -- exchanging a quick, sweet kiss and sharing a giant muffin -- before going into the studio to pick up a new script. He invites Donald over again that night, and they fuck in the shower, and in the kitchen, and on his bed. The third time they have sex, Louis fucks him, preparing him carefully and appreciating the length of Donald’s legs, kissing him slowly while he enters him. It’s sweet and intimate and Donald spends the night again, curled around Louis while the television hums comfortingly in the background. 

It’s the second night in a row that Louis spends un-lonely. He could get used to this.

It’s like this for a month -- dinner dates, visiting Donald at uni, bringing each other coffee, sex in Donald’s dorm, sex in a bathroom at a bar, dancing together at a night club. Donald texts him every day -- nothing overly cutesy, just funny things he thinks of, little pictures of stupid shit that he takes on his phone, things that make Louis feel happy and noticed. They go to the movies and sit in the back row and make out and laugh the whole time, feeling like teenagers. They go to a Chinese restaurant and get kicked out for shooting spit balls at their neighbors. They call in for pizza delivery under stupid made-up names, or sometimes famous people. They go the theatre and to concerts and to little improv comedy shows at Donald’s school. They go to Louis’s flat and fuck everywhere, on every available surface -- only this time, Louis actually cleans up the mess the next day. He throws away his receipts, he washes his dishes, he cleans his shower, and he washes his sheets. He tries to teach himself how to cook. He learns how to be a good boyfriend.

After their fifth date, he tells his mum. She knows about his career, and while of course she wishes he would do something else, she understands. As a single mom with four little girls plus Louis, it hasn’t exactly been an easy road for her financially. If there’s anything positive Louis can say of porn, it’s that it pays. Simon runs a good business; his films may be the typical cheesy, sleazy fare you’d expect, but the production values are relatively high, his models are attractive across the board, advertising is strong, and he’s stern on pirating. Louis, Liam, and Zayn all make very decent money. And a good chunk of Louis’s goes to his family. He keeps enough to sustain his lifestyle, but it doesn’t take much. His mum understands about his problems with relationships as well; of course, she doesn’t know all the sordid details of his promiscuity, but she knows how hard it is for Louis to find people who aren’t just interested in him for sex. He talks to her for hours, about everything: how Zayn and Liam are such amazing friends, how they set him up, how attractive Donald is, how sweet, how much of a gentlemen, how kindly andrespectfully he treats Louis. After a month, she drives up to London from her home in Doncaster to meet him.

Louis and Donald take her to the same restaurant from their first date. She clicks with Donald immediately, and he treats her like a princess, calls her “ma’am” and showers her with compliments, about herself and Louis. 

“Louis says he’s always wanted to act,” Donald says. “Please tell me you have embarrassing home videos of plays he was in when he was little or something.” 

She lies just as well as her son. She stays in Louis’s guest room that night, and she and Louis huddle on the couch after their “date” of sorts. 

“He’s perfect,” she gushes, crushing him in a hug. 

“I know!” He says, muffled into her shoulder. “It’s like he was designed by the government or something to be perfect for me. Yesterday he told me his favorite film is Grease. I like, wracked my brain, trying to think of a time I could’ve let it slip that Grease is my favorite, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. He’s actually just my soulmate.”

“And he doesn’t know about--?”

“No. No way. I’ve kept that well under wraps. Nice job, tonight, by the way. Should’ve pursued actual careers in acting, you and me.”

“Well, you did want that once, I remember.”

“Still want it,” Louis admits, shrugging. “But...I just don’t know how I could, now. No one’d take me seriously. I never thought...I never thought I’d be this big, you know. When Simon found me, said he was a director, I just thought...well, hey, I’m struggling, and my family’s struggling, and it’d only be a one time thing. But I was...good at it, stupid as it is. And it was easy. And I was making so much money and then it just sort of consumed everything until it was too late to get out. And now...now I’ve found something that makes me want to stop. I had to do a shoot last week and it was so weird to be with someone else. I felt like...like I was cheating, even though I knew it was just a job. That sex means nothing, you know? But, like, now I have Donald and when I’m with him he makes me feel so important and loved and special, like I’m really worth something to him. But I just...don’t know what I could do now. Like my name has this whole dirtylife attached to it. I don’t know if I could handle that following me around everywhere for the rest of my life, you know? And I’m definitely not going to be able to hide it forever.”

“Shhhh,” she hushes him, pulling him close, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “Listen, Boo Bear. You’ve nothing to worry about. Right now you’ve got a great man who thinks the sun shines out your arse. If he finds out, he won’t care. Give him some credit, Lou!”

“But I’m lying to him.”

“And he’ll understand that you were just scared. Everything works out the way it’s meant to.”

It’s empty, open-ended bullshit that Louis knows means nothing but it’s meant to comfort him and it does. He and his mum drink their tea and watch re-runs of Doctor Who until at least 3 AM, when he falls asleep on her shoulder. He calls Donald the next morning after she leaves, assuring him that his mum is in love with him, and he would like to thank him for being such a good boyfriend that night, in Louis’s flat, for some celebratory sexing. Donald, of course, obliges. 

He even gets along with Liam and Zayn, the overprotective twats. Liam texts him almost everyday, begging Louis for a double date with them. Donald is charming as ever, offering to pick up the tab, and even managing to win over Zayn. They go to a bar after dinner for a few rounds of beer (“You have to prove that you’re fun as well, babe,” Louis whispers.) 

Zayn texts him at the end of the night with a simple, “Keep this one.” Louis shows it to Donald proudly, and they fuck on Louis’s kitchen counter while Donald drunkenly tries to make midnight breakfast, Louis giggling madly into his shoulder. 

When the third month comes to a close, Louis has grown quite attached to loving and being loved. For Donald’s birthday, Louis devises a giant surprise party that is a huge success, earning him the approval of Donald’s friends and and a semi-exhibitionist blow job on the balcony from the birthday boy himself. “I wanted to come out in a cake or something, like a stripper,” Louis whispers intimately in his ear. “Or do it all Marilyn Monroe-style.” 

“You did perfect, babe,” Donald whispers, before picking him up and fucking him against the glass. 

Louis still has shoots; when Donald asks, Louis says he’s going to auditions. When Donald asks how they went, Louis just says “eh, kind of lousy, to be honest” or “it’s a shit part, anyways, and the director seemed like a twat” or “better luck next time.” Donald never pries too deeply. 

A week before his birthday, Zayn and Liam whisk him away to the beach (without Donald; Zayn and Liam claim they want Louis “all to themselves” on this birthday occasion.) Louis misses him a lot, but Donald calls him everyday, showering him with loving messages that make Louis feel safe where he stands. Over the past three months, he’s become quite accustomed to this feeling. He smiles when he falls asleep and he’s happy when we wakes up. On Sunday morning, the last morning of their vacation, Zayn and Liam leave early to surf while the sun rises. Meanwhile, Louis fixes himself toast and tea and checks his e-mail, holding the phone between his ear and shoulder, chatting with his mum while he types. He smiles when he sees that his most recent unread e-mail is from Donald.

When he opens it, his heart rises to his throat. He chokes painfully, phone clattering the ground, and shuts his computer immediately, barely refraining from hurling into the wall. He stabs the heel of his hand into his eyes, as if crushing his tear ducts might stop them from burning. He can hear his mum’s voice from the floor but he can’t bring himself to answer it.

It’s a link to a video on some free, sleazy porn site. Louis doesn’t have to watch it to know what it is -- the thumbnail contains all he needs to see. He is riding a man while sucking another man’s cock, and the headline is something trashy and cheap-sounding about twinks and spit-roasting. Louis claps his hands over his mouth, feeling he might be sick. 

With a shaking hand, he finally picks up the phone. “Mum?” His voice shakes on the line, sounding wet and raw.

“Lou? Lou, babe, are you okay? What’s going on?”

“I’m such an idiot,” Louis whispers, and somewhere along the sentence his words dissolve into tears and he’s crying pitifully into the phone. His mum gives him an earful of adoration and sweet things and love, despite having no idea what made Louis upset. 

Finally, she coaxes it out of him. 

“He found it,” Louis whispers, his voice cracking.

“He found...? Oh. Oh, fuck.”

Louis cries harder. 

“Well how did he find it?” She asks, as gently as she can, trying not to sound panicked.

“I don’t -- I don’t know, I shut my computer...” Louis admits tearfully. He takes a deep breath and opens it again. The horrible video is still there, which he exits out of quickly. 

“He sent me a link to one of my videos in an e-mail.”

“What an arsehole! He just sent you a video of your porn without any explanation?!”

Louis goes back to the e-mail. "I didn’t even read it.” He clears his throat, and reads, “So my mate found something interesting. ‘Louis Lucas,’ huh? Suppose this explains why you’re such a good fuck. Don’t exactly want such thoroughly-used goods though. Thanks for lying to me. Please don’t call.”

He makes it through the e-mail without crying but soon starts up again. “Mum? Mum, I’m gonna go, okay, please, I’ll -- I’ll call you later, alright?” 

He sobs harder than he thinks he’s ever sobbed before, near-hyperventilating. He needs a drink, he needs something, he needs Zayn, he needs Liam, he needs Donald, needs him, the need burns up his insides, and he can hardly breathe, and his cheeks feel so hot and they hurt--

Liam is calling. His mum must’ve called him. Louis answers, trying to clear the traces of crying from his voice but it’s impossible. He doesn’t want to scare Liam but he can’t help but cry into the phone.

“Lou? Your mum called me, she explained everything--”

Louis tries to talk to him, but his crying is make his throat hurt and he can barely string a coherent sentence together without blubbering pathetically.

“Zayn and I are coming over right now,” Liam assures him. Louis hears Liam urgently whisper ‘I’ll explain in a second, shhh, Boo needs us’  in the background to Zayn. “Hold tight, babe. And hide your computer. You don’t need that.”

Louis hangs up and obliges, wiping his face furiously with his sleeves. Liam and Zayn let themselves in, finding Louis curled up on the couch looking miserable. They both envelop him in tight hugs, kissing his hair and holding him. Zayn gives Donald a sound verbal thrashing, gesticulating wildly with his hands as he acts all the horrible ways he would like to inflict pain on him, until Louis finally smiles.

“I just feel like such a stupid cunt,” Louis whispers later, still curled up on the couch. Zayn is next to him, wishing Louis didn’t look so small like this. Rage curls inside his chest, bleeding into his muscles -- he wants to call Donald, wants to scream at him, wants Louis to scream at him, but Louis looks like all the fight’s been drained from him. 

“Of course he would find out eventually. It’s just that --” his breath hitches, and he raises his eyes to Zayn’s, looking lost. 

Liam buries his head in Louis’s shoulder. Louis rarely lets them take care of him, always plastering on a brave face, voice going louder and wilder while his insides dim, while he lets the things that crush him burn quietly in his throat, demanding and unattended to.

“It’s just that I really thought he loved me.” Another tear slips out, and Liam removes his head from Louis’s shoulder to kiss it away.

“I’m sorry -- I’m fucking blubbering all over both of you like a lunatic--”

“Stop apologizing,” Liam says quietly. 

“But, Liam...” Louis whispers, hiding his face in Liam’s arm. “Liam, what if nobody ever loves me.” Liam can feel his arm flush warm with Louis’s tears, and he tangles his fingers in Louis’s hair, heart pounding madly in his temples and behind his eyes, burning. “I just really don’t...see how anyone could. I’m -- I’m --”

“Shhh, Louis, please don’t, please,” Zayn hushes, curling around Louis and burying his face in the top of his head, dropping little kisses into his hair.

They sit together in silence, huddled together on Louis’s couch. There’s nothing to say. They’ve spent hours exercising all their creative faculties designing horrible hypothetical  punishments for Donald. They’ve spent hours lying to Louis, telling him maybe he did love you and you’ll find someone and you feel like this now, but you won’t forever. He feels cold and ugly and thrown away and worthless, stupid and unlovable and he almost hates Liam’s hand on his arm and Zayn’s mouth on his cheek, feeling deep in his bones that he doesn’t deserve it.

Still, he asks, “Will -- will you please stay with me tonight?” He hates how meek and scared he sounds that they might leave him. 

“Lou, I’m not planning on leaving until the feds drag me away,” Zayn whispers into his shoulder. “They’ll have to tase me. And even then, no one’s taking this Bradford bad boy away without a fight. Least of all you. I’ll move in if I have to. You’re not getting rid of me.”

Liam squeezes Louis’s hand and pulls his head into his lap. He falls asleep with them curled tightly around him. He hasn’t gotten far too used to the un-lonely feeling. He wasn’t ready to abandon it quite yet.