Louis fucking hates kale.
He’s not even sure kale is, like, a government sanctioned food. If Louis were Prime Minister, any ship, plane, or person found to be bringing kale into the country would be sunk, shot down, or imprisoned. You know, respectively.
Unfortunately for the good people of Britain, and perhaps fortunately for any kale enthusiasts, Louis is a twenty-three year old fitness instructor too busy nursing a dependency on vodka tonics and a preoccupation with casually fucking his more attractive clients to run for public office anytime soon.
So, there’s that, then.
There is also the fact, however, that this pretentious fucking twenty-first-century-all-organic-no-chemicals-no-fruits-starting-with-a-vowel-make-sure-you-put-enough-pear-in-to-kickstart-my-chakra-or-whatever-other-bullshit juice bar has opened up on the ground floor of Louis’ gym and put his very favourite café out of business. And everything on their seemingly never-ending menu of smoothies and shakes and frappu-fucking-chinos includes kale.
So fuck kale, Louis thinks, fuck the juice brigade and their constant blending of purposefully pretentious fruits and overenthusiastic smiling, and fuck the fact they’re charging six quid for a coffee.
Despite his slightly despotic inner monologue, he begrudgingly takes his place in line up behind a forty-something woman in front of him with her BMW key ring jangling against her purple yoga mat.
He’s not buying into their new age bullshit. He’s really not, out of principle and integrity and other nice big vague words. He just hasn’t had time to scour the block for another café, so just for this morning, this once, he will hand over his six quid, rights to his soul and left bollock for a latte.
Just this morning.
“Skin vitality shake with quinoa? Anyone? Number 447?”
Louis tries valiantly not to laugh at the Irish kid behind the counter looking like he’d rather shoot himself in the foot than say those words again. No one comes forward to claim the drink. With a sigh, he closes his eyes, grimaces, and opens his mouth for the second time.
“Quinoa skin vitali—“
“Oh! Yes, sorry, over here,” someone says, a slim blonde girl with her boyfriend stood boredly off to the side. Louis works in a very, very, laughably upper-middle class gym. He’s quite sure some of his clients think he’s foreign, like they’ve never heard an accent from outside of St John’s Wood, least of all the much-mythologised north. The guy behind the counter smiles at her, hands it over and rolls his eyes as the two of them stalk away.
“Hey, mate, can I get you something?”
Louis jerks his head back from the door to find he is, somehow, front of the queue. What is perhaps more startling, however, is the boy in the black singlet and silver necklaces leant on the counter on his forearms. He’s grinning at Louis, chewing his gum lazily and backwards cap – one of those fucking stupid hats Zayn likes to wear when he’s feeling particularly street – not doing a particularly good job of hiding the fact he’s got a head of very nice curly hair underneath it. He also has eyes. Louis recognises, somewhere in the back of his mind, that this is a characteristic common to most people. But these are, like, real eyes, that morose people would probably like to write poetry about. They’re green, like, well, like grass, and shit. Louis realises in that moment that he is clearly not cut out to be one of those morose poets, so goes back to staring at him instead. Because he has class. He is, in a nutshell, a classy person.
“Um,” he says, wanting to say, yes, you can get me an exact replica of yourself in the bathroom in five minutes, and okay, maybe class is the wrong word, “hi.”
Hi, Louis will realise moments later, is not actually an order. The boy in front of him seems to realise it a fraction earlier, because he laughs, pushes himself off the counter and smiles with his absurdly kissable lips.
“Hi yourself,” he says, “can I help you?”
This is the part in every Godforsaken bar, club, concert and undisclosed location where Zayn nudges him forcefully and tells him to locate his vocabulary and charm and wit. The fact that Zayn isn’t actually present doesn’t stop him from heeding the advice, and he steps forward, rests his hands on the counter and smiles a little.
“As a matter of fact,” Louis says, “yeah, actually. I’m looking for something very specific.”
He almost – almost – feels like as arsehole after the boy straightens up, his brow furrowing a little as he awaits Louis’ smoothie demands.
“Okay,” he says, “let’s see if we can help you out.”
Louis bites his lip a little, but plays along nonetheless.
“Okay,” he says dubiously, “you ready for this order? It’s kind of a mouthful.”
The guy nods, reaches for a take away cup and gets his Sharpie poised and ready to write.
“Hit me,” he winks, and he’s just maybe caught onto Louis’ little ploy now.
“Right,” Louis says, “so what I’m looking for, yeah, it’s called a latte. Have you ever heard of such a thing at…” he looks up, suppresses a laugh at the sign above them, “…at Macro Juice?”
The boy just snorts, thwacks the disposable cup on Louis’ head and raises his eyebrows.
“Good one, man,” he says dryly, “yeah, I can do you a latte. You want syrup?”
Louis blinks, a little taken aback at his Styrofoam assault, but just for the hell of it wants to see how far he can push this.
“Only if it’s young coconut flavoured,” he says seriously, “old coconut’s very bad for my aura. Or, you know, soul. Whichever.”
The guy laughs, and it’s absolutely fucking charming. Louis can’t help but smile too, traces his finger over a pattern on the hardwood countertop.
“Let me guess,” he says slowly, tipping his head a little comically, “kind of a dick, walk around like you own the place. Very nice arms too, as it happens,” this absurd person says, little smile playing across his face, “you an instructor here?”
Louis laughs, hangs his head a little sheepishly, jokingly so.
“You caught me red handed,” he says dryly, “sorry, mate, but you put my favourites out of business. I’m obliged to be bitter for a while.”
At that, the blonde boy from before comes up behind green eyes and puts what looks to be Louis’ latte on the counter.
“Hurry it up, man, queue’s massive. You can do your little mating ritual off the clock.”
The boy’s jaw drops in mock horror, kicks the blonde soundly in the leg as he walks over to the next counter to serve an extraordinarily buff, seven-foot tall monster of a guy next to Louis.
“Here’s your latte,” he says brightly, pushing it into Louis’ hand, “coconut free and all.”
Louis laughs, reaches for his wallet, but is stopped by a hand on his arm.
“On the house,” the boy winks, “I’m Harry, by the way.”
Louis thanks every single star in the Milky fucking Way that aligned to put him here, in this moment, with a ridiculously tall and attractive and tattooed juice bar vendor touching his shoulder lingeringly and giving him free coffee.
“Louis,” he says in response, leaning forward a little. Harry, disappointingly, drops his hand; then again, probably would’ve been odd for him to keep it there indefinitely. “Should you really be giving freebies on your first day of business?” he asks, vaguely disapproving.
Harry shrugs, shoots him a conspiring little look.
“Well if you promise not to tell, we’re fine, right?” he says, and Louis nods his agreement.
“Okay,” Louis says, “deal. Three more of these and I just might let you into bikram yoga for free.”
He is, of course, joking, trying to get a laugh out of his cute juice-version-of-a-barista. What he gets instead, of course – and in time, he will learn to expect this from Harry Macro Juice – is unbridled earnestness.
“Oh!” Harry says, face genuinely lighting up at the prospect, “I love bikram, I do it, like, twice a week.”
If he wasn’t so goddamned lovely, Louis would punch him in the face.
“I should’ve known,” he says gravely, before smiling, flashing him a little wink, “you have a good day, Harry. Thanks for the coffee.”
“No problem,” Harry calls after him, “and Louis?”
He presses the lift button a few times to take him up to the top floor; he has a personal training session he was meant to be at five minutes ago. It’s categorically not his fault that he was distracted, he decides.
“Welcome to Macro Juice.”
Louis snorts, walks backwards into the lift with a smirk, and doesn’t miss the little laugh Harry shoots his way as he serves his next customer.
In a world full of violent criminals, rapid nuclear proliferation and irreversible change occurring to the Earth’s very climate, Louis would say the thing he hates most is teaching spin class. Give him Buffalo Bill, give him North Korean reactors, hell, give him melting polar icecaps; just don’t give him a goddamned stationary bike and a hands free microphone.
“This is the last thirty on,” he says over the music, giving a rabble-rousing clap that echoes through the studio. He’s sweating like a woman in the throes of labour, singlet stuck to his chest, fringe to his forehead, “give it all you got!”
A general groan of exertion goes up from the room, which Louis counters by turning the music up.
“Twenty to go, c’mon!” he yells, and a couple of people drop off at that, can’t make it, so he shoots them a pointed look and wipes the back of his hand across his forehead.
The man up the back who’s been struggling the whole time finally stops, rests his balding head on the handlebars, as do the group of university students right in Louis’ eyeline, utterly spent. Louis gets it; fuck, if he wasn’t teaching this bitch of a class he’d have stopped too. God, he hates this.
“Five!” he yells, eyeing off someone fading fast. She puts her head down, winces at the pain of it, but to her credit keeps going until he utters the final, “and, done!”
The groan goes up again, this time of appreciation, and Louis smiles, takes a swig of water.
“Well done,” he says, flicking the sound system off, “good job, have some water, grab something to eat, I’ll see you next time.”
One of the girls up the back shoots him a reproachful little glare.
“Or not,” he laughs, taking ticket stubs as they file out and mutter their thanks, “have a good week, guys, good class.”
It is only once they’re all gone that he hops off the bike all together, legs just about giving up on him.
“Lookin’ good, Lou.”
If Louis hadn’t just cycled what feels like the Tour de France, he’d turn around, perhaps even give Zayn a smile, should he be so lucky. Instead, he flips him off and leans down to pick his bag up, throws his grey hoodie on over his singlet.
“Fuck you,” he croaks, “I hate that shit.”
Zayn just rolls his eyes as Louis approaches. Louis should probably, in retrospect, be nicer to him. He very kindly picks Louis up of a Thursday on his way home from class – he’s doing a Masters of something fancy that Louis can’t quite remember – and is often left with a very disgruntled post-spin Louis. Zayn can cop it, though, Louis thinks. Louis could never utter another word to him in his life and it would still be a benevolent course of action, considering the amount of times Louis’ come home to Zayn and Perrie doing God knows what on their couch.
He goes to lean his head on Zayn’s chest, but Zayn steps away quickly, hands raised in surrender.
“Don’t you dare,” he warns, “this is cashmere. Get away from me.”
Louis just looks at him, vaguely disapproving.
“You know, in the Will and Grace marathon that is our life,” he says dryly, “people would be genuinely surprised to find out I’m the gay one.”
Zayn looks like he wants to shove him, but won’t go within three feet of any human being after they’ve worked out so decides against it. Instead, he turns and walks down the stairs, leaving Louis to follow.
“Why do you hate spin so much, anyway?” he asks, waiting for Louis at the bottom of the stairs, “I thought it’d be fun, get to shout at people for an hour, get the little mic.” He grins, shit-eating, as per usual. “Like Britney, mate,” he says, “all you need now is your K-Fed.”
“I hate spin,” he proclaims, ignoring his flat mate’s five-years-too-late pop culture reference, “because I have a fucking bulky enough bottom half without spending an hour in a definition class.”
Zayn just snorts, seems to break his own rule of never going near a bead of sweat in his life, and slaps Louis soundly on the arse. Louis glowers, turns to him and flips him off before traipsing through the ground level.
And why would it be a time of his day other than the three seconds he’s getting violated by his best friend that Harry turns the corner and almost runs straight into him, sweat soaked gym gear and all.
“Hey!” Louis says, “my clandestine coffee supplier, how’s all the…” he trails off, gestures to the new closed and clean juice bar, “…you know. Juice, vitality, love potions and whatever; how’s it going?”
Harry laughs, throws a dishcloth over his shoulder. He’s in a white t-shirt today, exposing a twinset of devilishly nice collarbones and oddly attractive tattoos, two birds. Louis wants to kiss a lot of people on a daily basis, it’s kind of an upside of working with the portion of the general public who look nice in spandex and singlets. Out of all of them, though, he probably wants to kiss Harry the most.
“Not so bad,” he says, “just closing up. Heard your spin class was a bitch, mate, people couldn’t stop complaining. Had to give ‘em free cookies to shut them all up.”
Louis looks at him reproachfully.
“I didn’t make them do an hour of that so you could fatten ‘em all back up again,” he says, but Harry holds up a hand.
“Oatmeal cookie,” he says, “it’s healthy, promise.” He reaches over the counter, grabs a jar from behind it and pops the lid, holds it out to Louis.
And who’s Louis to say no to a cookie-wielding boy with a nice smile, so he takes one, looks at it dubiously.
It is at that point that Zayn decides to make himself knows, patience wearing thin. Louis resents that. Louis had been an excellent wingman for years for Zayn. He’d introduced he and Perrie two years ago, and now he’s being ditched at the last hurdle. Typical. He’s made an executive decision in that moment to fuck with the TV antenna this week so Zayn can’t watch the fast-tracked new episode of Game of Thrones. That is his punishment, and he will bear it if he’s going to clear his voice like an arsehole when Louis’ obviously got his overtly impressive game face on.
“I’ll see you in the car, Lou,” he says, “but hey, nice to meet you, man,” he says to Harry, even though Louis hadn’t so much as introduced them, but Harry gives him a little wave nonetheless.
“Bye, mate,” he calls, and waits till the sliding doors have closed on Zayn before he keeps going. They are the only two left in the place at this time of night; it’s oddly intimate.
“So who was that?” he asks, tone light and careful, a little too measured. And Louis’ into that, surprisingly so. He likes the hint of annoyance on Harry’s face. Louis’ always liked people getting a little jealous over him, reveled in it. This is fun.
He grins, takes a bite of the cookie. “That’s Zayn,” he says, “he is privileged enough to hold the title of my room mate and best friend.”
Harry, who Louis is quickly learning would be a poor choice of poker bet, visibly relaxes, takes a cookie himself.
“Privileged indeed,” Harry notes, before nodding at Louis’ hand, “so what do you think of it, then?”
Louis furrows his brow a little. “Tastes like breakfast at my nan’s,” he says, eliciting a laugh out of Harry, “but, you know, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tap into the nostalgia and all of that. You just might be a marketing genius.”
Harry laughs. “Come back next time you’ve got a quiet hour,” he says, “I’m gonna make you try some good stuff.”
Harry doesn’t answer though, just gives Louis a secretive little look and puts the cookie jar back.
“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” he says primly, double-checking that the till’s locked up before flicking the lights overhanging the counter off, “c’mon, we should go. Don’t want to get locked in here all night.”
Their eyes meet at that, for a moment. It’s fun, Louis realises, it’s a meaningful little look that says, really, because I could think of some pretty fun stuff we could get up to, and I know exactly what you’re thinking, you idiot, all at once. Louis’ only known the guy four days. He is, in that moment, however, the top of Louis’ people to get stranded on a desert island carrying nothing but whipped cream and lube with list.
His mother would be so, so appalled that she’s raised such a horrible perverse individual.
It’s Harry who drops his gaze first with a laugh, runs a hand through his hair. By God, he’s got a nice arm. For someone who supposedly only does yoga and an occasional run here and there – Louis had learnt this on Tuesday, during his three o’clock break – he’s got a sinfully good body.
“Let’s go,” Louis says, nodding towards the door, and the lights flick off as they walk out into the night.
And despite the four hour grilling he gets from Zayn, first over tea, then leftover cake from Zayn’s birthday, then warm beers, Louis’ bloody glad he shared an oatmeal cookie with Harry Styles tonight.
Hey, if you’re not booked up at twelve, I’m on lunch break! I wanna make you some stuff. H .x
Louis gets the message at five to eleven, just as he’s about to start his session with Aiden. Aiden is his favourite client. Aiden pays him ridiculously well to design a program he could probably get online, then will more often than not see if Louis wants to take a shower together afterwards. Louis likes this arrangement very much, and so Wednesdays with Aiden are often a highlight of the week. All Louis needs in his life is a halfway steady flow of income and a semi-regular shag; Aiden provides both and a winning smile.
Convenience, Louis thinks, is his very favourite trope of modern life.
“Yeah, mate, that’s good,” Louis says, an hour later as they come up to midday, “yeah, good, hold it for two more.”
Two seconds later, on the dot, and Aiden drops the weight back to the ground with a crash.
“Shit,” he laughs, muscles still flexed, breathing hard, “shit, Lou, I’m fucking wrecked.”
Louis laughs, throws him a towel from the pile of facility-provided ones in the corner. This is the kind of gym that has their towels monogrammed with a logo. Louis possibly works at the wankiest gym in town, and not just because of the towels, either.
“You wanna go another rep, or you done?” Louis asks, leaning back on the wall.
Aiden shakes his hair out, sweat running down his face. Louis fucking adores his job. Really, really, adores it. Eat your heart out, Dean of Manchester U, he thinks, getting kicked out of college was possible the greatest gift God ever gave him, after the power of sight and his innate appreciation of well-toned boys.
“Nah, I’m done,” he says, “d’you wanna, um, come back for a bit?”
And for the first time in God knows how long, Louis doesn’t say yes. Because in theory, sure. Sure, Louis’d be up for getting fucked senseless in the men’s locker room, he always is. But it’s midday, is the thing. And today, well, today he’s got a quasi-date with a cute and kind of dumb new-age juice boy downstairs, and for the first time in a while, he’d much rather be there than in bed (or up against a wall) with a client.
“Sorry, Aid,” he says, and he hopes his eyes are making it clear that this is kind of a permanent no, “I’m kinda tied up. See you next week though, right?”
Aiden shrugs, smiles, and claps him on the back.
“Sure, Lou, have a good day,” he says, and then he’s off, towel round his shoulders.
Louis turns to find one of the many, many mirrors dotted through the gym, decides he looks kind of attractively disheveled, and gets in the lift to go downstairs.
When he gets to the juice bar – he refuses to refer to it as Macro Juice, on principle – Harry is nowhere to be seen; only Liam is serving. He smiles in recognition as he sees Louis though, nods for him to come over and ushers him behind the counter.
“Hey, mate,” he says, handing a girl her brekkie shake and five quid change, “how are you?”
“Good,” Louis says, stealing a muesli snap from the plate they’re stacked on. He only really eats it because Harry makes them. They’re actually kind of disgusting, but then Harry’s actually kind of cute, so, “fine, you know. Same old. You?”
Liam’s taking an order as they chat, grabs a coffee cup from up on the machine and writes skim decaf cap on it which only goes to prove Louis’ point that this is thewankiest place on Earth.
“Yeah, fine,” he says, before turning to Louis with a roll of his eyes, “he’s waiting for you in the back, don’t worry. You can go through.”
Louis grins, because in spite of knowing these people about two weeks, they already have his priorities in order. He takes another muesli snack for the five pace journey to the kitchen, thanking Liam over his shoulder as he pushes through the swinging doors.
He is met, somewhat unexpectedly, with an oi! and a clatter of metal mixing bowls.
“Oh, man, you’re so fucking dead,” Niall shouts across the kitchen, and before Louis knows what’s happening the object of his desire has been dumped rather convincingly in a bowl of flour. Harry opens his mouth in shock, spits in a way that makes a small cloud of flour dust rise from his face. Niall is in hysterics on the other side of the room, watching on as Harry wipes his eyes clean and tries valiantly to shake his curls out.
“He started it!” Niall half-shouts as Louis goes to open his mouth, “look.”
He turns around to reveal what looks like an egg cracked on his back. Fair game, Louis thinks, although Harry looks like he really might asphyxiate on flour at any given second.
“Alright, children,” Louis says, every bit the kindergarten teacher he can muster, “today, we’re going to learn how to solve problems like grown ups.”
Niall just laughs, claps him on the back as he goes to find a new shirt.
“Yeah, man, see you later,” he says, “you two have fun, now.”
And then, with a swing of the doors, it is just Harry stood in the middle of the room, covered in flour, and Louis utterly perplexed watching on.
There is a long pause, in which neither of them seem to know what to say. So, Louis thinks, it’s probably up to him to do it.
“Muesli snap?” he asks, holding one out to Harry with a little smile, and that’s all it takes for Harry to burst out laughing, walking over to Louis and swearing as he does so.
“Fucking hell,” he says, laugh happy despite the absolute mess that’s been made of him, “hang on, okay, I’m gonna go find a new shirt.”
He walks out into the storeroom in the back, and Louis tries nobly to understand just how he went from point A to point B in five minutes flat. When that doesn’t work, he resigns himself to walking further inside and perching himself up on the counter. He’s sure that particular act breaks about seven hundred occupational health and safety regulations, but he’s not too bothered, considering the fact a carton of eggs and a small nation’s supply of flour lie spread on every surface in this kitchen.
“Hey,” Harry says minutes later, coming back in. He’s pulling his singlet from the first day down over his torso, shaking his hair out again. Louis considers offering to do it for him, before remembering that that would possibly cross a line or two.
“Um, sorry about that,” he says, looking a little embarrassed, “we were meant to be making brownies. But then, well.”
He gestures, a little disbelievingly, at the floor.
“Brownies,” Louis says, surprised, “interesting. Not very Macro Juice of you.”
Harry rolls his eyes, flips him off. “If you must know,” he says, “they weren’t actually chocolate brownies.”
Louis has no concept of how one would go about making a brownie without chocolate, but he’s not about to argue with Harry Styles about the finer points of working at a pretentious juice bar, especially when he’s covered in a thin film of dust.
“So,” Louis says, “why’ve you dragged me down to your lair in the middle of the day?”
Harry stops surveying the disaster zone in front of him at that, face lighting up at Louis’ reminder that he was, in fact, invited here.
“Oh!” he says, “yeah, course! I have something for you.”
Louis raises an eyebrow, quizzically. He likes presents, he likes surprises, he likes when those things do not coincide with the birthday/Christmas celebrations that those forty-eight hours in December hold for him each year.
“Really?” he says, interested, “tell me about it.”
Harry smiles, walks over to the fridge and crouches down inside of it, pulling small little sample cups out one by one and putting them on the bench.
“So you know how you’re always, like, a massive wanker about this place because you miss your cheap shitty coffee?” Harry asks.
Louis nods his affirmation. He is more than willing to confess to all of the previous charges brought against him.
“Right,” Harry says, “so, I thought I’d show you how fucking good this stuff actually is, so then next time you give us shit, you’ll kinda just look like a dumbass.”
Louis laughs, lets his feet dangle over the side of the counter as Harry brings ten little sample cups over with him, four at a time.
“I’m up for that,” Louis says, “nothing I like better than being made to look like the world’s most ignorant douchebag.”
Harry winks at him, lines them up in two rows of five.
“Did you make these all for me?” Louis asks incredulously, and Harry just shakes his head, smug, cutely so. His hands are braced on the bench either side of Louis, and he’s, well, he’s close, and Louis likes it. He smells like a fruit salad. He is also, interestingly, at Louis’ eye height when Louis is sat up on the bench, and he’s kind of into that, too.
Louis has the sneaking suspicion he would be into stamp collecting and evangelicalism should Harry Styles be involved.
“No, you idiot,” he says, “I didn’t squeeze, like, an eighth of an orange. Just stole samples from the ones we made this morning.”
“So you’re ripping your customers off to set me straight?” Louis grins obnoxiously, and Harry just pushes his face away, laughing as Louis somewhat childishly licks his hand.
“Gross,” he says, “now c’mon, try the first one.”
“You going to tell me what’s in it?” It’s somewhat orange, looks safe enough to drink. Louis still wouldn’t mind an ingredients list, though.
Harry just shakes his head, holds the little tester out to Louis. “Nope,” he says proudly, “just tell me which one’s your favourite at the end.”
And probably, Louis thinks, it’s strange that he doesn’t trust his own mother with a Sunday roast (she is a notoriously bad cook), but is happily letting this brand new boy feed him unknown drinks. On the other hand though, Harry has the advantage of being the most attractive person on the planet. He’s cute, so Louis has decided the basic rules of self-preservation do not apply. It’s a hair’s breadth away from being actual maths.
He drinks it, dubiously. It tastes like he imagines a fistful of grass would.
“Ugh,” he grimaces, wiping his mouth, “Jesus Christ, what’s in that?”
Harry smiles, a little proud with himself for getting that reaction, Louis supposes. Bastard. He’s not braced round Louis anymore but he’s close, standing so Louis’ feet kick him every so often from where they dangle.
“It’s an orange and wheatgrass shot,” he says, laughing at Louis’ outraged cry that he’s just been fed grass like he’s half bovine, half man, “relax, it’s the worst one, I swear. Try another one.”
“I’m meant to trust you after you’ve fed me grass?” Louis says incredulously, “no deal, Styles, give it up.”
Harry doesn’t budge, just smiles at him, long and pointed. “Please?”
And God fucking damn whoever decided boys were allowed to look like this, because Louis is not okay with the gargantuan levels of manipulation taking place right now.
“Fine,” he says, snatches the next sample and downs it like penicillin.
It’s not half bad, actually, Harry was right on this occasion. It tastes a bit like sweet lemon. The next one is citrusy too, the one after is raspberry, somewhere in the middle there’s one with too many seeds and boring health crap, and then there’s a peculiar pear and kiwi one that Harry apparently had a partiality to. Harry’s absurd, makes him rate them all out of ten for him and tell him which ones he would drink again, which one he would sit back and watch the world burn for rather than drink again. Louis has no idea what the goal of this game might be, but he doesn’t care. It’s kind of delightful.
By the time they get to number ten, Louis thinks his tastebuds might pass out.
“Do I really have to do one more?” he asks, “I relinquish, your store serves a valuable purpose and produces many delicious products. Do I pass, yet?”
Harry laughs, raised an eyebrow challengingly.
“C’mon,” he says, “I saved this one for last on purpose. I think you’ll liiike it,” he sing-songs.
Louis is quite sure Harry Styles could get him to give up his rights to his own name or relation to his family just by talking in that voice for long enough.
“Fine,” he sighs, as though it’s an arduous and thankless task, to be sat here with the nicest looking boy in this whole gym feeding him smoothies, “give it here, let’s get it over with.”
Harry hands it over with a smile, and it only grows a million times wider when Louis tastes it and his eyebrows shoot up in pleasant surprise.
“Holy shit,” he says, somewhat uncouthly running his finger round the inside of the cup and licking it, “that’s so good.”
“I knew it!” Harry half yells in his face, “I fucking knew it. Louis Tomlinson’s a number ten,” he smiles to himself, “I can read you like a book, did you know?”
“What’s in it?” Louis asks curiously. Harry stacks all the little cups and tosses them in the bin, turns to him with a finger pressed to his lips.
“Can’t tell you,” he says, “it’s a secret.”
“But how am I meant to order it if I don’t know what’s in it?”
Harry seems unperturbed, though, just holds his hands out for Louis to grab as he jumps off the counter. He’s about a grand total of three inches off the ground, and is paid to be fit and healthy, at least fit enough to survive a jump of these proportions. He takes Harry’s hands anyway, because fuck that if he’s going to let looking slightly ridiculous get in the way of touching Harry Styles as much as possible.
“You don’t need to order it,” Harry smiles, “besides, it’s not on the menu.”
Louis goes to ask another barrage of questions, but Harry’s eyes flick to the clock on the wall.
“It’s one, Lou, don’t you have a class?”
And shit, yeah, he totally has a class that, were it not for the reminder, he would have totally forgotten about.
“Fuck,” he says, “yeah. Gross.”
“Hey, don’t throw up all the milk and fruit I just make you drink,” Harry says with a smile, and turns to leave.
Louis groans, follows him out of the kitchen and back behind the counter. Harry flips it up so he can duck out, a gentleman right down a tee. Louis possibly needs to invest in a lock and key diary, a Hilary Duff album and a permanent pair of heart eyes. He’s okay with that, actually, so long as it would guarantee keeping this guy around a bit longer.
“Have a good day,” he calls, as Louis gets into the lift, and Louis gives a little wave, smiling kind of stupidly at him till the doors shut.
Louis decides, after that day, that if Harry Styles in all his chia seed glory is going to play mysterious and kind of cute little games with him, he will play them right back. The ante is well and truly upped, and Louis intends to win.
He’s not actually sure when winning involves, but he’s sure it’ll figure itself out.
Somewhat surprisingly, when he gets in on Monday morning, it’s to Niall whistling him over. Louis doesn’t have a lot of time to chat, he has a class in five, but he goes nonetheless.
“Here, mate,” Niall says, thrusting a huge cup with a straw his way, “your number ten. Harry told me to give it to you.”
Louis can’t help but laugh a little, only taking the thing when Niall’s face clouds over in confusion.
“What do I owe you, mate?” he asks, not even caring that he’s going to be probably ten quid out of pocket for this thing. Niall just snorts though, waves him off.
“You know, in case you haven’t noticed,” he says conversationally, “you’ve never actually paid for a drink here in your life, and I’m not sure Harry’s about to let you start.”
Louis smiles at that, rolls his eyes as he takes the ridiculously large smoothie-shake-whatever-the-fuck from him.
“Thanks, mate,” he laughs, “I’ll see you later.”
It is only when he gets to his locker, dumping his bag and jumper inside, that he sees the little note stuck to the bottom as it flutters to the ground.
Have a nice day, come and see me at two. I made brownies! With actual chocolate. H x
Louis feels very much like the lead in a Kate Hudson film and he doesn’t even care.
So every morning now when he gets in, there is a big drink waiting for him and a little note. Sometimes it’s did you watch celeb juice last night?, other times it’s did you know babies are born without kneecaps?. A lot of the time it’s just stuff Harry could probably put in a text, but it makes it about a million times nicer on a little scrap of paper taped to his drink. If Louis keeps all of those notes in his locker like a fucking high school girl, no one needs to know about it.
Sometimes, if Louis is feeling particularly bored, he goes downstairs and devises increasingly elaborate plans to get Harry’s attention. One time, with the stealth of a shadow, or something, if stealth is a characteristic one can attribute to shadows, he manages to get behind the counter and scare Harry half to death with a yell unlike anything Louis’ ever heard just by shaking his shoulders. It sending a bowl of God-knows-what flying, and Louis nearly ends up with his hand in a blender, along with half a cup of milk, a peach and a slice of watermelon, but that’s neither here nor there.
One Tuesday, when Louis walks into the hot yoga class he’s been co-opted into teaching because he’s the best fucking person on the planet, he is greeted not only with the regular health junkies and injured athletes, but with a certain pretty-faced juice boy waggling his eyebrows and laughing ridiculously as Louis sees him. Louis, much to his credit, manages to hold it together as he collects ticket stubs, only breaking when he finally makes it to Harry, tucked away in the corner of the room.
“You’re an idiot,” he mutters, smile annoyingly present, as it always is with Harry, “you’re going to get me fired.”
“Am not,” he says, pushing him away, “promise I’ll be good.”
Harry is not good. Actually, Harry is pretty good at the yoga part. What he is not good at is behaving in a way that keeps Louis even vaguely focused on this class. At half past the hour, it hits Louis that he is in a steamed up room watching the most unfairly attractive person on the planet contort himself every which way, all the while smiling or winking or just existing every time Louis looks at him. This is the most ridiculous moment of his life, to date. He’s going to get Zayn to write a book about it. He’s, like, fairly sure Zayn’s studying writing, he can’t remember. Then again, Harry Styles is three feet away from him doing downward facing dog and Louis quite literally cannot remember how many arms he has in this moment, so. Zayn can forgive him.
And it’s just overwhelmingly the dumbest, albeit one of the most wonderful, months of Louis’ life. They’re so, so utterly stupid with each other. It is no longer a question whether they line their breaks up each week, or whether Harry gets a free pass into all of Louis’ classes or Louis gets a free drink every day, or, like, hour. It just happens. It’s no longer really a mystery who Louis comes downstairs every spare five minutes to see – Liam and Niall have granted him kitchen rights, so he comes and goes when he pleases, for a cookie or a chat or just to sit there smiling like a fucking idiot for twenty minutes. Harry doesn’t seem to mind, pops up to Louis’ office just as much, while Louis’ prepping classes or programs or lodging his numbers for the week.
“Do you want to take my spin class for me?” Louis asks one day, unenthused as ever about the prospect of walking in there this evening. He still hasn’t quite shaken the Britney analogy from weeks back, is somewhat paranoid that his class expects him to break into a rendition of Hit Me Baby One More Time, or something. Although if Harry is his K-Fed, he supposes, he could deal with that.
“No,” he says, shaking his head and lounging back on the exercise ball in Louis’ office. He’s ridiculous. Louis hates him. He hates his abs more. “No, I’d be shit at it. Never learnt how to ride a bike.”
Louis spins round oddly fast, like something out of Bugs Bunny clip.
“What?” he asks, “are you serious?”
Harry sits up, shrugs. “No one ever taught me,” he says, unfazed, before his face lights up in that smile akin to I’m nine years old and totally up after my bedtime but don’t tell anyone, “maybe you can teach me.”
He lounges back against the wall, looking very satisfied with himself.
“Get out,” Louis says, kicking at the ball until Harry has no choice but to stand or slip off, “you’re filthy, and I have work to do.”
Harry grins, blows him a kiss as he makes his exit. Louis is probably going to die. He’s okay with that, really.
When he gets home on Friday night, it’s to Zayn cooking dinner while Perrie taps away at her laptop.
“Hey,” Louis says, smiling as he sees her on the couch and pulling her in for a hug, “ I miss you, you haven’t been round here in ages,” he whines, “he’s so unbearable without you here.”
He sits down next to her, leans his head on her shoulder like an annoying child. He kind of is their annoying child, actually, despite being older than them. They can deal with it.
“Yeah, school, you know,” she says with a sigh, “boring, though. How’ve you been, hm?”
He sits up, gives a little nod, tries not to smile like a complete fucking lunatic, because he’s been great and there’s only one reason why.
“Good,” he says, trying to stay measured, “yeah, it’s—“
“Have you shagged him yet?”
It is not Perrie, because she is a decent human being and is not weirdly invested in Louis’ love life. It is, of course, Zayn, barking that same question at him from the kitchen as he does every night when Louis gets in.
“Fuck you,” he shouts back, “also I’m crashing your date, so cook me some pasta as well, please.”
Not two seconds later, Zayn’s head pops round the door, staring at him all unimpressed and disbelieving and Zayn.
“I still don’t buy it,” he says, shaking his head, “you look way too happy for someone that’s not having sex, you do know that, don’t you?”
Louis glowers right back at him, and Perrie laughs, shoos Zayn off.
“Is this the juice bar guy?” she asks, sitting up and closing her computer, “Zayn thinks your lying to him, you know. He reckons you’re not even going to work, just going out and having sex and coming home.”
“You’re both disgusting,” Louis says, “you know I pay exactly half of this rent, so I can kick exactly half of you out, Pez.”
She snorts, shakes her head in an almost mirror of Zayn not thirty seconds ago.
“Whatever, Lou,” she says, “get in there, though, what’re you waiting for? He sounds cute.”
“Can someone come and give me a hand with this!” Zayn calls from the kitchen, “there’s fuckin’ pesto everywhere.”
Louis and Perrie just look at each other expectantly.
“Well I’m not going,” she says, holding her hands up, “he’s your best friend, you do it.”
“He’s your boyfriend,” Louis cries, nudging her, “that’s so unfair. You’re my least favourite person in the world,” he tells her matter-of-factly, and the frankly scintillating war of words that ensues is enough to take his mind off wondering just how much longer he’s going to have to wait for Harry to make a move.
He actually doesn’t have to wait that much longer.
It’s late when Louis finished on Tuesday, really late – he’d stayed back to take the last class of the day for the overtime; he’s running a little low on rent money, and now it’s 9:20pm and it’s dark and late and he’s quite sure he’s the last person left in the building when he finally makes it to the ground floor.
Turns out he’s wrong, though, because Harry’s stood at the counter, some song or another playing tinnily through his phone speakers while he restocks what looks like a supply of birdseed.
Louis doesn’t say a word, just smiles and flips the counter top up, nudging Harry’s hip with his own as he jumps up on the bench.
“Hey!” Harry says surprised, “what are you doing here? I thought Monday was your only late day.”
Louis categorically does not swoon at the fact that Harry knows his schedule. This is a no-swoon zone.
“I’m taking some extra classes this week,” he says, “we can’t all be rolling in the sweet quinoa cash, H.”
He pronounces it wrong, phonetically – quin-oh-ah – just to piss Harry off.
“That’s not how you say it,” he pouts, “and you know it.”
Louis grins. “I do indeed,” he says, “what about you, hm, I thought you closed at six.”
“Yeah,” he sighs, “cleaners didn’t come tonight, though, so boss made me stay late. It’s okay,” he shrugs, smiling up at Louis for a moment, “got you to entertain me now.”
Louis is absolutely, one hundred per cent okay with this arrangement.
“Okay,” he says, “what do you want? A song, a joke, can I interest you in—“
“You look kinda hot like that, did you know?” Harry says, all of a sudden. It’s not rushed, though; it’s not embarrassed. He smiles at Louis, throws his dishcloth down and braces his hands on the counter either side of Louis, like all those weeks ago with his little mystery taste test.
Louis looks down at himself, suddenly in a whole different mindset to a few seconds ago. He thinks he looks like utter wank, actually. He’s a little hot, sweaty from his class, hair messy and cheeks flushed, thin t-shirt hanging off him loosely. Harry’s hands are ridiculously close to his arse, though, and that’s kind of clouding every other thought he’s having right now.
“You tell all the boys that?” he asks dryly, voice miraculously even.
Harry laughs, all deep and gorgeous, looks Louis right in the eye as he shakes his head.
“No,” he muses, “also don’t let them sit up on my counter. Also don’t give ‘em all free drinks, either.”
Louis raises his eyebrows, drops his head a little.
“Well,” he says, and they’re inches away from each other now, his chest doing that weird clenchy thing it does every time Harry speaks, or moves, or, like, breathes, “in that case, what an honour. You don’t look half bad yourself.”
“Oh yeah?” Harry asks, forehead nearly pressed to Louis. He speaks quietly, it just about makes Louis’ melt into an actual, Wicked Witch of the West-style puddle.
“Yeah,” Louis affirms. Harry hands brush his legs now, chests almost touching as Louis unconsciously moves forward on the bench, “you know, on a scale of one to—“
And with not much more than that, Harry laughs, leans forward and kisses him soundly. Louis can’t help but smile at the sensation, at first, eyes fluttering shut and ankles crossing behind Harry’s back. Harry’s strong and lovely; they’re both smiling like idiots as their lips fit together softly, Harry’s hands now at Louis’ waist, drawing him closer. Louis sighs happily at that, lets his arms drape round Harry’s shoulders, hands carding through his hair and running along his arms (Louis’ had a feeling for quite some time now that he’d like touching both of those things very much; he was right), using Harry as leverage to move forward so their chests are flush.
Louis’ skin is a little sticky from a day at work, Harry’s too, and it doesn’t even matter; Louis likes it. He’s all tall and tanned and warm, lips moving against Louis’ and tasting a little like honey biscuits and mango, dipping down for a moment to mouth at Louis’ jaw before coming back, breath stuttered and hot, and by the looks of things he’s all Louis’ and he’s all boy and Louis isn’t planning on unhooking his ankles from around him anytime soon.
Unfortunately, due to the evolutionary process or divine intervention or something else beyond Louis’ control, they do actually have to breathe at some point. Harry pulls away gently, lips red and little swollen, and God, if that doesn’t send Louis’ spine tingling he doesn’t know what will.
“Hi,” Harry says, seemingly a little dazed, but eons ahead of Louis, who’s in the midst of trying to remember what language he speaks.
“Hi yourself,” he says, butting Harry’s forehead with his own a little. He can’t resist ducking in and pressing another kiss to Harry’s mouth, just to get that little smile out of him, “took you long enough, you know.”
“Oi! That’s so unfair,” he protests, pulling Louis closer nonetheless, laughing into his ear as he nips at it, “you could’ve made a move too, you know. Why’s it my fault?”
Louis tugs at his hair so he can get at his mouth again, biting Harry’s bottom lip gently as he smiles, kisses his quiet for a minute.
“Well I had to wade through all the kale bullshit first,” Louis says by way of explanation, “had to make sure you weren’t some crazy hippie trying to sell me your fucking seeds, or whatever it is you do here.”
Harry just snorts, buries his head into Louis’ chest for a moment before looking back up, eyes shiny and cheeks pink.
“You probably could’ve worded that better,” he points out, and Louis kicks his back a little.
“Shut up,” he says, sounding absolutely nothing but hopelessly endeared, “you’re disgusting.”
Harry hums a sort of roundabout agreement, presses a kiss to Louis left cheek, then his right, then his left, and after all of this ridiculousness, that’s what makes Louis blush, drop his head and laugh softly.
“And what if I am, hm?” Harry asks, lifting one of his hands from Louis’ waist to brush at the hair in his eyes, “what if your rigorous background check failed and I am actually a crazy hippie?”
Louis considers this, for quite a time actually. The Macro Juice sign sits above them, dumb as ever, weird shakes with their weird ingredients still scrawled on the chalkboard, coffee still six quid.
But that’s all kind of irrelevant, really, because Louis’ sitting on a bench all tangled around a boy who’s making a pretty strong case for himself as the Best Person On The Planet, and Louis is suddenly a lot less annoyed at this juice bar than he was all those Monday mornings ago.
“You know what?” he says, smiling as Harry leans forward to kiss him again, “I don’t think I’d mind.”