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Harry’s just of a height that he can lean his chin on Niall’s bunk when he wants, and Niall looks up from his phone to find him there one afternoon. Louis and Liam are playing FIFA in the back, and Zayn is probably asleep, so the only sound on the bus is muffled yelling as Louis scores. “Alright, Hazza?” says Niall.

“Hey,” says Harry. He looks tired and sad, the way he has ever since they got back from break, like he has to save up all his energy for the times he’s on stage. They’re only two months into the tour, not even started on the massive expanse of America yet, and already Harry looks done in. He’s trying, and maybe the fans can’t see the effort, but Niall can. Now that the camera crew is gone, it’s only gotten more obvious.

“Need a cuddle?” he asks, and doesn’t wait for Harry’s nod before he scoots back towards the wall. “Come on up.”

Harry settles himself against Niall’s chest, his head tucked into Niall’s shoulder and his hand smoothing down Niall’s side to curl against his hip.

“Do you want to talk?” Niall asks.

Harry shakes his head, and his hair brushes Niall’s cheek, smelling like hotel shampoo rather than Harry’s own. “Dunno,” he says anyway, and Niall waits because if that’s a yes, it may take Harry a while to work up to the rest.

“It just hurts,” Harry says finally. “I didn’t know it would hurt so much.”

Niall runs a hand down his back, over his thin t-shirt. He doesn’t know the details—he’s pretty sure none of them do—but Harry spent a week at Tom and Lou’s in London without saying anything, and since he’s been back, Nick’s name hasn’t come up even once. And that’s a big change. But if Harry doesn’t want to talk about it, well.

Niall’s phone beeps, and he tries not to grab for it too quickly, not wanting to jostle Harry against his chest. Not wanting to seem too eager. But it’s just a text from Greg, and as much as he likes Greg, he doesn’t need to hear from his brother right now.

"Are you expecting a call?" asks Harry, sounding apologetic.

"Nah," says Niall, because he isn't at this point, not really. He can't stop hoping though, and that's what's hard. Still thinking that maybe, just maybe tonight will be the night that Bressie bothers to get in touch. He's busy, but fuck, Niall's on a world tour, and he can still manage to use his twitter. No matter what Eoghan says he feels cut off, and he knows exactly why.

"People are stupid," says Harry, squeezing Niall around the waist in a show of solidarity.

Niall huffs a half-hearted laugh. "You're not wrong."

Harry snuggles in tighter against him, and their legs get all tangled together in the narrow bunk. After a while, Harry's breath starts to stutter and Niall realizes he's trying not to cry. He kisses the top of Harry's head. What else can he do? This is definitely not his area. He's never even had a proper relationship. He put himself out there the one time it mattered, and well, now he’s got Harry snuffling against his chest, and the last time Bressie tweeted him was weeks ago. “People are stupid,” he says firmly, and Harry shakes his head against Niall’s t-shirt.

“I just miss him,” Harry whispers. “I keep thinking, like, I want to text him. Just stupid normal stuff. But he said he wanted space. And I. I think that means not sending him pictures of dogs in wellies.”

“Dunno, mate.” Niall rubs the back of his neck, squeezes gently there. “Don’t think dogs in wellies are too stifling. But what do I know?”

“You know plenty.” He sets his chin on Niall’s chest and looks up at him with wet, red eyes. “Do you want to talk about anything?”

“Nothing to say,” Niall replies. He remembers skyping from a hotel, laptop balanced on his knees, the TV muted in front of him. When Bressie didn’t reply, Niall thought the connection had dropped at first. He was so still and silent, and then he frowned. Told Niall he was young, he had a lot going on, it wasn’t the right time. And Niall, who waited for fucking months, waited until he was sure it actually was the right time, didn’t have a bloody thing to say to that. But it shouldn’t have meant they had to stop talking altogether. “Sometimes things don’t work out,” he tells Harry.

Harry bites his lip, looks like he’s going to cry again. Niall ignores the dull throb of jealousy. At least Harry got to have a real relationship before Nick dropped him. He got to kiss him and fuck him and come home to him in London. Niall’s just got this awkward crush and a weird, lingering sense that he’s fucked up more than he knows. Eoghan called them both twats, but he doesn’t even know exactly what happened. Niall hasn’t told anyone, and Bressie is the most private person he knows.

“But sometimes they do, right?” Harry says. “It’s not all just misery forever.”

“Of course not,” Niall says, but it comes out hollow.

“I’m a pretty good listener,” offers Harry. “Like, under all the snot and everything.”

“Know you are, mate. Just.” He shrugs a little. “Nothing happening, really.”

Harry’s sharp chin digs into his chest as he looks up. “How’s Bressie?”

“Can’t say I know. Haven’t spoken to him in a while.”

“Can you tell me why?”

Niall pets at Harry’s hair. Harry looks so sad for him, like it really matters how Niall feels, as though all the welling hurt in his chest isn’t just meaningless. “You know how it is. It never seemed like the right time to say anything, and I finally thought... maybe now. So I finally told him how I felt. And now he won’t talk to me. Won’t even email me. Thought we were pretty good friends, but. Seems not.”

Harry leans up to kiss him on the cheek. “That doesn’t mean you’re not good friends. That just means people are stupid. Even when they want you, they’re stupid. Even when you love them.” Harry drags him into a tighter hug, tangling their legs together tighter, pressing his face into the side of Niall’s neck. Niall closes his eyes and lets himself cling.

“It’s stupid,” Niall whispers. “Fucking stupid. Never should have thought.”

“That he’d want you? Niall, anyone would want you.” Harry nuzzles at his ear, and Niall shivers.

“You’re such a flirt, Harry Styles.” He slides his hand up under Harry’s t-shirt, touching warm skin, and it’s a little bit of an invitation because he’s sad and Harry’s a good mate and it’s nice being all pressed up against him like this. “But Bressie’s not just anyone.”

“Course not,” says Harry. “You’d never go for just anyone, discerning lad like you.” He lifts his head and licks his lips. “Sometimes though, you can’t have what you really want. You just have to make do with what you have.”

“What do I have then, Hazza?”

Harry kisses him gently, still tasting vaguely teary as he opens his mouth. And Niall kisses him back, realizes he hasn’t even done this since his braces came off, and he’s forgotten how kissing feels without them scraping against the insides of his lips. Everything’s soft and slow and wet, and he sucks on Harry’s tongue, making Harry moan and press just that little bit closer until their legs are slotted together, and he can thrust into Niall in a slow, steady rhythm.

“Is this all right?” Harry asks, as though Niall’s whole body isn’t answering for him. “I don’t want to take advantage. When you’re sad.”

“Who was just crying here, mate? Wasn’t me.” He touches Harry’s still-wet cheek. “Am I taking advantage then?”

Harry kisses the corner of his mouth. “No. You’re being just what I need.”

They kiss until the bus pulls into the venue, shifting against each other, hips restless. Niall keeps thinking Harry’s about to go for his zip, take it a step farther, but he doesn’t, even though Niall can feel the fat length of Harry’s dick against his. When the bus slows and Louis yells, “Land, ho!” from the back, Harry rolls sideways, landing in a half-crouch on the floor like he’d forgotten they were in an upper bunk.

Niall peers out at him. “D’you need my extra knee brace?”

When Harry looks up, his lips are swollen and his cheeks are pink, obscenely obvious. He grins and hauls himself up on the edge of the bunk. “’m good. But thanks.” He leans in close again. “So, like, to be continued? Maybe?”

Niall bumps their noses together. “Yeah, mate. That’d be nice.” He’s had a good hour not thinking about his silent phone, and that’s something he could use more of.


In the car to the hotel, Harry bumps his knee into Niall’s and says, “Come up to my room?”

Louis and Zayn are having a slap fight across Liam’s lap behind them, all of them laughing and yelling, and Niall loves it when they’re all together like this. But he still presses his knee against Harry’s and says, “Yeah,” follows him up without even bothering to grab his stuff from his own room.

Harry grins at him in the lift, conspiratorial, and Niall leans in until their arms touch elbow to shoulder. He likes this feeling, the flicker of warmth in his belly when he thinks how soon they’ll be kissing, how simple it is to want Harry. And he does want Harry, because Harry is gorgeous and a good mate and Niall knows there’s nothing he couldn’t say to him if he wanted to.

He doesn’t expect Harry to pin him against the inside of the door, hands tight on his wrists, mouth covering his. Niall leans up into the kiss, knowing he could break Harry’s grip if he wanted, and he can’t help thinking how this would be with Bressie, who is so much bigger than he is, who could overpower him one-handed. And Niall aches for that. He pushes off from the door, freeing his hands to settle on Harry’s waist, trying to clear his head. This is good. This is simple. But the image lingers.

“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?” Harry says, pulling him down onto the bed.

“Can’t help it,” Niall replies guiltily.

“That’s all right. I think about Nick a lot still.” His voice catches on the name, and Niall hugs him tighter around the waist. “It’s okay, if you want to talk about him,” Harry adds. “I like it when you tell me things.”

“Nothing happened though,” Niall replies, nuzzling into Harry’s neck, his eyes prickling unexpectedly. “It’s not like you and Nick. Me and Bressie were never together. Never even close, I reckon, if I’m honest.”

“But you want to be with him. You think about what you’d like to do with him. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Hurts, though, doesn’t it?” Niall says gruffly. “Wanting it and not having it. Knowing you can’t. It’s shit.”

“It is shit,” Harry agrees. “It’s like, the most shit thing. Because it doesn’t make you stop wanting it at all.”

“No,” Niall agrees. In a way, he thinks he’s made it worse. Now his feelings are like a wound he just can’t stop picking at, no matter that it bleeds every time. When he hadn’t said anything, he hadn’t been told no either. He could still hold out a bit of hope that maybe things would be different when he finally got up the nerve to say something, and he’d held onto that dream for longer than he should have.

Harry licks his lips. He’s close enough to kiss, but he’s still talking. “You could, like, tell me about the things you wanted to do with him.” They’re on their sides, hip to hip, and Niall can feel the suggestion of Harry’s hard dick behind the fly of his jeans.

“You pervert,” says Niall, and Harry’s eyes cut away from him like he might have meant it. “No, mate. Not for real. Just. I wanted to do so much. I don’t even have the words for all of it.” It burns low down in his stomach, the wanting, the muddy images of Bressie kissing him, touching him, using him up and holding him after. He hasn’t ever been with a boy, unless you count drunken groping down Louis’s pants at New Year’s, and neither of them even came from that. “I dunno what I would have done even, if he’d said yes. So probably best he didn’t, isn’t it?”

Harry kisses the corner of his mouth. “Were you with him? Like, was it in person?”

Niall shakes his head. “Just on skype. Haven’t seen him for real since Christmas.”

“You could have gotten off with him over skype. We used to do that.” Even when he doesn’t say Nick’s name, his voice goes sad.

“Yeah? Isn’t that weird though? Just having him look at you.”

“I liked it,” says Harry. “I liked the way he looked at me.”

“What’d you do, while he was looking?” It’s so much easier to make Harry talk about himself, but Harry’s eyes pin him in the way that says he knows it’s a ploy.

“I’d wank,” Harry says. “Or I’d finger myself. But I’d have to get even farther away for that, if he wanted to see.”

Niall isn’t a shy person, but he can’t imagine putting his fingers in his bum for someone else like that. “Sounds messy.”

“You nicked my laptop enough times. Think it was clean enough.” He grins slyly, nuzzles at Niall’s mouth again. “’S your turn, Nialler. Tell me something you wanted to do.”

“Oh, is that what we’re up to?” Niall teases. Harry slings a leg over his hip, grinds into him in a way that makes Niall forget he’s sad. “I wanted to kiss him.” It’s more than that though, the particular desire to have Bressie hold him down and kiss him until he can’t breathe, to be taken over like that. “I wanted him to make me kiss him.”

Harry rolls over on top of him then, kisses him hard, tongue pushing into his mouth, fingers gripping in his hair, tilting his head for it. Niall groans, his thighs spreading around Harry’s, but it’s not the same. Harry’s too skinny, too easy to move with the arch of his hips. Even when Harry’s teeth tug at Niall’s lower lip, it’s not the same. And maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe it has to be something else.

“Wait,” Niall says, turning his head enough to breathe. Harry leans up on his elbows, frowning. “Can you just… Just be yourself? That’s good. That’s better, isn’t it?”

“I just want to give you what you want,” Harry says. “I thought we could do that for each other.”

Niall rubs a hand up Harry’s back, fingertips flexing into the groove of his spine. “Do you really want me to be Nick for you?” he asks gently.

Harry’s frown deepens, and he bites the inside of his lip. “No.” His eyes are wide, worried. “I like you being Niall.”

“I like you being Harry, too, mate. So maybe we could help each other out like that, yeah? You be Harry, and I’ll be Niall, and if you’re really good at it, maybe we’ll both get to come.”

Harry’s hips nudge into his, and Harry dips in close for another kiss. “No maybe about it.”

They roll around on the bed, kissing and grabbing and giggling, and it’s a lot like it is every night on stage except that Niall’s dick is flexing hard, and Harry’s jeans can’t hide the bulge of his own. “What do you want?” Niall asks, as Harry’s scrabbling at his flies after long minutes of grinding and teasing. Niall’s trackies are already in a tangle around his knees, and he can’t help rubbing a little at himself through his pants.

“You’ve never been fucked, have you?” asks Harry.

Niall’s stomach swoops. He doesn’t even have to say he’s thought about it, but he has, wondering how it would feel to open himself up on someone’s dick. “No,” he replies. And he doesn’t elaborate. But Harry must see it in his face, the way he’s wanted it.

Harry gets his zip down, and he’s got nothing on under his jeans, just the flushed, straining length of his cock. “We could change that, if you like,” Harry says, and the low murmur of his voice makes Niall’s toes curl.

“Nah, mate,” he says anyway. “Not tonight.” It’s hard to explain, the feeling that he should save that, that there’s a part of himself he doesn’t want to give like this. He’s not anything like a virgin, but he doesn’t think he could stop picturing Bressie if Harry was fucking him, and that’s not what this is for.

Harry doesn’t seem fussed either way. “It’s just been a really long time since I got to touch someone,” he says quietly. “So I want to make you feel good. I want to get you off. However you like best. Maybe with my mouth?”

Niall looks at Harry’s mouth, swollen and smudged from kissing, and he can’t say he doesn’t want it on his cock. “Sounds all right,” Niall tells him, and Harry laughs and drags his teeth along Niall’s collarbone.

By the time he reaches the slit of Niall’s pants, stroking over the seam, Niall’s hips are moving without a rhythm, and he can tell it’s not going to take long, whatever Harry does to him. And Harry is doing plenty, lacing little sucking kisses along Niall’s belly, making Niall wonder if he’s leaving marks. But it barely even matters. He’ll cover up for the next few days if he can keep having this.

The heel of Harry’s hand rubs right up against the head of Niall’s trapped cock as Harry cups him properly, and Niall moans without bothering to muffle it. Harry looks up through the falling mess of his hair, and it’s just them in that moment, Niall and Harry and nobody else. And when Harry rolls Niall’s pants off his hips, pawing them off like he can’t wait to get at Niall’s dick, Niall arches towards him, offering himself up.

Harry’s lips ease over the head of Niall’s dick, and he brings one hand up to play with Niall’s balls as he takes him in deeper, slick mouth and soft tongue stroking. Niall hitches his hips up, then tries to hold still, letting Harry swallow around him. Harry sucks him slowly, like he’s savoring every moment, every taste, and it’s so good, so exactly what he needs. He lets Harry work him over, lets himself be stroked and guided, until Harry pulls off and says, his voice cock-rough, “Could you hold onto me?”

And at first he doesn’t understand what Harry means, but when Harry goes back down on him, Niall puts a hand on the back of Harry’s head, and Harry leans right into it. Niall wriggles his fingers deeper into Harry’s hair and tugs a little, and Harry makes a garbled noise around his cock. “You want me to fuck your mouth?” Niall asks, and Harry whimpers, looks up from under his eyelashes.

It’s hard, thinking of doing that to his friend, to a real person who isn’t in porn. It’s not that Niall’s short on blowjob experience, but no one’s ever asked him to take control like this, and the feeling makes his dick twitch. He snags his fingers tighter in Harry’s hair, waits a moment before guiding his dick deeper into Harry’s mouth. He can feel himself hit the back of Harry’s throat, feel Harry choke and try to swallow to relieve the pressure. Already his cheeks are flushed, red sitting high along his cheekbones, and Niall pulls him back to thrust into his mouth again. Harry goes so easily, takes it like this is exactly what he needs. His moan seems to vibrate through Niall’s whole body.

Harry looks so vulnerable, lips spread wide around the shaft of Niall’s cock, and that just makes him harder, just makes it better when he arches his hips up to get deeper. Harry’s sucking him properly now, lips in a tight O on Niall’s cock, and Niall groans out a warning before he comes, tugging roughly at Harry’s hair, pulling him up so he can swallow without choking. And swallow is what Harry does, throat working, tongue pressing into the slit of Niall’s cock, lapping up his come straight from the source. He sucks Niall sore, sucks him until he starts to go soft, until every touch make him twitch painfully. Niall waits as long as he can before pulling Harry off because he can feel how bad Harry needs this, his mouth stuffed with cock. It’s not a need Niall knows from the inside, but he recognizes that frantic feeling, the way wanting can well up until you’re sure you can never get enough.

“Been ages since I came like that,” Niall says. His fingers rub gentle circles against Harry’s scalp and Harry leans into Niall’s thigh and closes his eyes. “What can I do for you now, mate?”

“I’m good,” Harry murmurs, and Niall can see his hips moving, the jog of his elbow as he gets himself off. But that hardly seems fair.

“Budge up, Hazza. If you’re going to do it like that, you gotta at least let me watch.”

Harry sits up, swinging a leg over Niall’s hips, straddling his belly. His cock is thick and straining between his fingers, the head welling up wet. He licks his lips. “Can I come on you?” Harry whispers.

“Yeah,” says Niall. “Do it.”

Harry wanks himself faster, a drop of precome spattering against Niall’s chest, both of them watching it fall. Harry is so hard already, breathing harshly through his wet, red lips, and Niall stares at each sharp pull of his hand, watches the head of his cock go slick, every slide of Harry’s foreskin smearing it. He knows the trembling moment right before Harry comes, sees him tip over that edge with his hand fisted tight, milking himself.

A splash of it hits Niall’s collarbone, then the tip of his chin, the curve of his ribs, his belly, marking him with white. Harry gasps and keeps hold of himself, hand clenched like he wants it to hurt a little, thumbnail grazing at his dripping slit. He meets Niall’s eyes, looking dazed, then bends to lick his come from Niall’s chin, rubbing his fingers through the dribbles on his belly, leaving Niall’s skin tacky. He sucks at Niall’s collarbone, and Niall arches into it, thinking his vests are going to be right out for the next few days because he can’t hide the bruise Harry’s leaving, and he doesn’t want Harry to stop.

They settle together in a sprawl on the bed, Niall’s arm curving around Harry’s waist, fingers stroking over the ridge of his hipbone. “Are you still sad?” Harry asks.

Niall shakes his head. “Not right now.” It’s not permanent, this satisfaction, but for the moment he feels unwound and easy instead of anxious and stupid. “How about you, mate?”

“Not right now,” agrees Harry. “If you are though, like, you can come to me.”

Niall nuzzles at the top of his head. “I know it. Same to you. I love you.”

“Love you too.” Niall feels the flutter of Harry’s eyelashes as his eyes close. “Everything’s going to work out.” He doesn’t make it a question, but there’s a little uncertain waver at the end.

Niall squeezes his hip. “Of course.” Maybe it’s not true, but that’s all right. At least while they’ve got each other.