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never mind the odds (i'm gonna try my luck)

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“Louis, have you finished that story on the water-skiing chimpanzee yet?”

Louis looked up from his laptop with a sigh. “Yes, James. And I can tell you right now that it’s utter shit.”

His boss rolled his eyes and huffed out a disbelieving chuckle. “Nothing you write is shit, Tommo. We both know you’re one of the best writers on staff.”

“Then why have I spent the last three years in bloody Life and Style?” Louis exclaimed, spinning around in his chair to face James Corden, the junior editor of London Now Newspaper.

“Lou,” James sighed with the long-suffering air of a man who’d had this argument many times before. “We need your creat—,”

“You need my creative voice in the Life and Style section,” Louis recited. “I know, you’ve told me about a million times.”

“When are you going to start believing it?” James asked.

“When you start giving me stories about things that matter!” Louis insisted, crossing his arms and giving James his best withering stare.

“You just look like a rumpled kitten when you make that face,” James said. “It’s adorable.”

Louis’ scowl deepened. “I am not fucking adorable!” he groused. James just laughed and ruffled Louis’ fringe. “You are the most adorable. Especially when you make the grumpy cat face.”

 

“Oh, Jesus, Lou’s doing the grumpy cat face?” a familiar grumbling voice said from the door. “What are you making him write about this time, James?” asked someone with a strong Irish accent.

Louis glared at his best friends, who had just popped their heads into his cramped office. Zayn and Niall were wearing matching, smug grins.

“I do not make a grumpy cat face! I’m going to kill Nick for coming up with that!”

“Grimmy does talk some shit but he was spot on with that one. You’re grumpy cat, mate,” Zayn said.

“You’d be grumpy too if you spent all day writing about water-skiing chimpanzees!” Louis huffed.

“We’re just giving the people what they want, Lou. And what they want is your smart-arsed commentary on British life and style,” James said. “Anyway, Simon’s got a new assignment for you. Wants to see you in his office after lunch.”

Louis grunted noncommittally, which made James frown in a way that looked unnatural on his round, jovial face. “Best behavior, Lou. Simon’s the editor-in-chief and he’s not as—casual as I am.”

Zayn snorted and Niall let out one of his trademark cackles. “Not as willing to put up with Louis’ bullshit, you mean,” he corrected. James’ grey-blue eyes twinkled and his lips twisted into a reluctant grin.

“Not to worry, James. I’ll be a good boy in front of Simon,” Louis assured his boss. “I always am, aren’t I?”

“Debatable,” Zayn muttered under his breath. Louis crumpled a piece of scrap paper lying on his desk and chucked it at Zayn’s head, at which point James backed out of the room, saying, “All right, children. I’m off to lunch. Try not to burn the office down while I’m gone.”

“No promises!” Louis and Niall called in unison.

 

“You’re never going to believe who I’m interviewing next week,” Niall mumbled through a mouthful of chicken salad.

When neither Zayn nor Louis answered, he continued. “Rory fucking McIlroy!”

The others stared at him non-plussed. “The golfer!” Niall said, rolling his eyes as if this should have been obvious. “Four-time major champion. Best Irish golfer in the world. My personal hero. Jesus, don't you people ever listen to me?"  

“Nah, mate,” Zayn said "But I'm happy for you. As long as James doesn’t make me do any more sports cartoons,” he added darkly.

“What are you working on now, then?” Louis asked. Zayn’s eyes lit up and his usually-stoic face split into an almost-manic grin. “Brexit cartoons,” he sighed happily.

“You sound dead chuffed about the worst political failure of our generation,” Louis said.

“Makes for good satire,” Zayn shrugged.

Zayn was the newspaper’s cartoonist. He had started about six months after Louis, straight out of art school and looking for a way to pay the rent until one of his freelance projects took off. Almost three years later, his side projects were more a hobby than anything else.

Louis chewed on his chicken salad sandwich and tried not to mope. He loved his mates and he was happy that they were happy, but if he had to write one more article about a cute animal video going viral, he was going to lose it .

As much as he enjoyed working for London Now—which had earned a reputation as one of Britain’s best independent newspapers—he was eager to trade the bullshit personality pieces for real, hard-hitting political journalism. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism. The kind of journalism that makes a difference and changes the way that people think. It was the reason he’d worked two jobs to put himself through the University of Kent’s journalism program and it was the reason he’d wanted to work for London Now in the first place. Louis was convinced that if Simon would give him a chance, he could prove that he was better than what he was being assigned in Life and Style .

 

Simon Cowell was the editor-in-chief of London Now and he was terrifying. He had quit his high-ranking job at The Guardian to start his own newspaper and he was the entire industry knew that he was as ruthless as he was brilliant. Even Louis didn’t dare talk back to Simon Cowell, and Louis talked back to everyone.

“Sir? You wanted to see me?” Louis said, sticking his head inside Simon’s office. Simon looked up from his computer.

“Ah, Louis!  James told you that we have a new assignment for you?” Simon said.

“Yes, sir,” Louis replied, leaning against the door and retrieving his notepad from his pocket.

“This piece is different from what we’ve had you write in the past. It’s going to be a bit bigger. A bit more substance. A bit more responsibility.”

Louis felt his heartbeat begin to speed up. This sounded like it could be what he’d been waiting for: the chance to prove to Simon and James and everyone else that he could write more than fluff pieces. He held his breath as Simon continued.

“We want you to write next month’s profile for the Influential Londoners column.” Louis knew the column that Simon was talking about; they had profiled politicians and best-selling authors and scientists and Louis could have died of happiness because this was his shot. He was going to profile one of the city’s best and brightest and write something absolutely earth-shattering.

“Who will I be profiling, sir?” Louis asked, fighting to keep his tone neutral and unaffected.

“Harry Styles. He’s one of London’s top cosmetic surgeons and he has a buzzing social media presence.”

Simon turned to his sleek silver laptop and typed furiously for a moment before spinning the screen around for Louis to see. An extremely attractive man with bottle green eyes, wavy brown hair, and a toothy grin stared back at him. The caption underneath read “Harry Styles, surgeon to the stars, uproots Los Angeles practice and takes London by storm!”

 

Louis looked up at Simon in disbelief. “We—we’re profiling a plastic surgeon? For Influential Londoners?”

Simon nodded. “Harry’s exactly the kind of up-and-comer people want to read about. He’s young, he’s handsome, he’s at the top of his field. It’s going to be brilliant.”

“Yeah. Brilliant,” Louis echoed dully.  This was not going to be brilliant. A pretty boy plastic surgeon with a popular Instagram? How was Louis supposed to find anything substantive or meaningful in that?

“Right. You’ll start first thing Monday morning,” Simon continued. “You’ll be shadowing Dr. Styles at London Bridge Hospital until further notice. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with this one, Louis.”

Louis tried to smile, hoping that it didn’t look like a grimace.  

 

“A plastic surgeon, Niall. A Motherfucking. Plastic. Surgeon.”

Louis knocked the rest of his drink back and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I thought I was going to profile someone important. Last month Nick interviewed a member of Parliament, for fuck’s sake!”

Niall emptied his pint of Guinness and clapped Louis sympathetically on the back.

“I’m a serious journalist, Nialler!” Louis hiccuped. “A very serious journalist! I don’t want to spend the next six weeks of my life watching some guy giving posh housewives Botox!”

Zayn set down his glass of red wine so that he could take a long drag from his cigarette. “It’s better than the article about the Cher impersonator in Surrey, innit?” he said.

Louis pointed a menacing finger at him. “I told you never to mention that again. She ruined Cher for me.”

Niall and Zayn both dissolved into giggles. “I still haven’t forgiven James for giving me that assignment. It’s like he’s determined to take every last shred of my dignity. And my journalistic integrity!”

Niall and Zayn looked at him for a prolonged moment, turned to look at each other, and burst out laughing again. “Fuck off, the pair of you!” Louis scowled, signaling to the bartender for another round.

  

“Seriously though, Louis. Profiling Dr. McDreamy won’t be all bad,” Niall said as the three of them stumbled out of the pub an hour later. “McDreamy my arse,” Louis grumbled.

Niall cackled. “Fuck off, mate. Zayn and I did some light Instagram stalking while you were in the loo and he’s like, exactly your type.”

“He is not my type! I don’t even have a type!” Louis sputtered.

The fact was, Louis had already conducted a hasty Google search of his own during which he had discovered that Harry Styles was exactly his type. Harry had unruly curls that cascaded almost to his broad shoulders and almond-shaped, almost-feline green eyes and a wide mouth with almost unnaturally pink lips and a long, lean body that managed to be athletic and soft at the same time.

He would rather die than admit that to Niall and Zayn, though. “Sleazy plastic surgeons are not my type,” he said breezily. He pretended not to see the skeptical look that Niall and Zayn exchanged over his head.

 

“If you don’t like the assignment, use the assignment to write something you do like,” Zayn advised after the two of them had parted ways with Niall several minutes later.

“Huh?” Louis grunted, snapping out of his thoughts about how lovely his bed was going to feel after this long, disappointing day.

“Use the assignment to write about something that matters. Use the Styles thing as an angle to write about healthcare inequality or summat. You’ll come up with something. You can always find a reason to be outraged.”

Louis’ face split into a huge grin. “That’s actually kind of brilliant, Zee,” he marveled. “Yeah, it is,” Zayn said as he descended the steps of his Tube station with a farewell wave.


When Harry started at London Bridge Hospital six months ago, Liam had assured him that waking up for 7am staff meetings would get easier with time. Liam was a filthy liar.  When his phone trilled Marimba at 6 in the morning, Harry scowled and suppressed the urge to hurl it at the wall. Instead, he hit the snooze button and resumed the fetal position, curling into an even tighter ball under the fluffy white duvet. Before he could properly get back to sleep though, his phone was blaring again, this time with an incoming call.

“‘Lo?” he grumbled.

“Get your arse out of bed, Styles! Staff meeting in 57 minutes and counting!” 

“I thought we’d established that the 6am wakeup calls weren’t allowed anymore, Liam,” Harry groused.

“That was before you slept through last week’s meeting. Now look alive. If you get up now, you still have time for a run before you get to the hospital.”

“I hate you,” Harry said sincerely as he swung both legs out of bed.

“Charming. See you in an hour."

Twenty minutes later, Harry had brushed his teeth, thrown on running shorts and a thermal shirt, scarfed a banana, and fed the dogs.  His morning routine had taken slightly longer than usual because he’d spent five hilarious minutes trying to get his chihuahua, Latte, to ride on his Great Dane, Lucy’s back. He was going to be late to the meeting now. Totally worth it.

 

As he jogged up his cobbled side street toward the River Thames, he let the crisp bite of the chilly November morning fill his lungs and seep into his bones. He ran past the thatched wooden roof of the Globe Theatre and down Bankside, relishing the sleepy emptiness of the city streets. As much as he hated getting up at the crack of dawn, he loved London early in the morning.

Harry looped down to the river and let his mind wander to the day ahead. He had the weekly staff meeting where the hospital’s chief of medicine made announcements that never really affected Harry. Then there were a couple of surgical consults later in the morning and then—Harry clenched his teeth involuntarily at the thought of it—he had to meet the journalist for the stupid London Now article.

 Harry thought back to the week before, when the chief had pulled him aside right as he was getting ready to scrub in for a particularly tricky abdominoplasty.

“Simon Cowell from London Now gave us a call and indicated that he’s extremely interested in profiling you for the paper’s Influential Londoners column,” he said,  prattling on about “excellent publicity for the hospital” and “a chance to be a spokesperson in the medical community.” Harry had beat a hasty escape, muttering that he was late for surgery. The chief hadn’t let him off that easily, sending him an email later that day saying in no uncertain terms that the article was happening whether he liked it or not.

 “They want to write a bloody article! About me!” Harry had whined over pints with Liam that night. “I’m the most boring person I know, Li. Like, I spend my days playing with my dogs and doing tummy tucks!”

“Harry. You sat front row at London Fashion Week this year. You’re friends with Posh and Becks. You are not the most boring person you know,” Liam pointed out exasperatedly.

“They should’ve picked you. You literally save children’s lives all day. You’re like, a real-life superhero,” Harry grumbled.

“Well I’m not one of London’s top 10 most eligible bachelors, am I?” Liam had replied with an exaggerated eyebrow wiggle, at which point Harry had groaned and buried his head in his hands.

“Kick me while I’m down, why don’t you?” he asked, trying to suppress the hot surge of embarrassment he felt whenever anyone brought up that stupid article in The Sun that  compared him to a fine wine: “rich, a bit fruity, and probably needs to breathe for a couple of minutes after you pop his cork.”

“C’mon, Haz! It was funny!” Liam chuckled.

“It was offensive! Being bisexual doesn’t make me fruity,” Harry huffed as they settled their tabs.

 

At that, Liam stopped laughing and ruffled his hair. “The London Now article won’t be like that rubbishHazza. They’re not a gossip rag like The Sun.”

“You’re right,” Harry sighed. “I actually know one of the writers there.”

“Yeah? Maybe he’ll be the one interviewing you!” Liam said.

“Doubtful. Nick does like, political stuff, I think."

Liam draped an arm over his shoulder and gave him a comforting squeeze. “Don’t worry, mate. It won’t be all that bad.”

“You’re right. Sorry, just feeling a bit stroppy,” Harry said, burrowing into his friend’s shoulder.

Liam chuckled. “S’alright. You've been putting up with my shit since uni. I can listen to a bit of whinging now and then.”

Harry’s affection for his best mate momentarily overtook his unease about the article as they left the bar and walked toward the Tube, reminiscing about uni, where they had met as lab partners in freshers bio.

 

As he slowed to a walk outside London Bridge Hospital half an hour later, wiping the sweat off his forehead and throwing his hair into a tiny bun, Harry resolved to follow Liam’s advice: answer the journalist’s questions and get on with his life as quickly as possible. It certainly wasn’t going to kill him to spend a few hours getting interviewed.

Harry headed straight to the hospital’s large meeting room for the weekly staff meeting. He was five minutes late and the meeting was dreadfully boring. He and Liam spent the entirety of it playing hangman and exchanging mutinous glances as the chief prattled on about renovations to the third floor.

As doctors and nurses trickled out of the boardroom, Harry heard the chief calling his name above the din. He sighed and trudged to the front of the room, almost positive he knew what this was about.

“You got my email about the details for your interview today?" he asked.

“Yes, sir. In the second floor boardroom at noon," Harry recited flatly.

“Right,” the chief said, looking around and lowering his voice before continuing. “Harry, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that this kind of press could be very positive for the hospital. Especially since you deal with the kind of elective surgery that’s—well, that’s very profitable for us.”  

Harry frowned. “Sorry, I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say,” he said slowly.

“I’m saying that you need to put your best foot forward with this, Harry. At the end of the day, the hospital is a business, and this is an important business opportunity.”

Harry took a deep breath and reminded himself that it would be both inappropriate and incredibly impolite to tell his boss where he could shove his “important business opportunity.” This was one of the reasons he hadn’t wanted to do this stupid interview in the first place; he didn’t need free advertising for his services and he didn’t fancy being a walking billboard for the hospital.

“Right. I’ll—uh, keep that in mind,” he said brusquely. “I’ve really got to run, sir. Surgery consult in half an hour.” 

 

The rest of the morning was so busy that Harry had neither the time nor brain-space to worry any more about the article. He had a follow-up with a patient who had recently undergone rhinoplasty. From there, he met with the family of a baby girl getting ready for cleft lip and palate repair. Then his mate from residency called asking for advice about a complicated scar revision he was performing later that week.

As always, Harry got completely lost in the bustle of the hospital; checking monitors and chatting with nurses as he passed the nurse’s station and talking to patients and filling out charts. Always moving in the midst of this teeming sea of activity, like a single capillary in the vast network of the bloodstream. He loved being in the middle of it all; feeling like he had his own small place in this vast ecosystem.

Harry was so swept up in the flurry of activity that he forgot about the interview entirely until Liam asked why he wasn’t already there. Harry looked down at his phone and saw that he was already five minutes late.

“Fucking hell, you’re right!” he cursed, sprinting in the other direction without another word.

On his mad dash to the second floor conference room, he had the epiphany that he was completely unprepared for this. He had no idea what the reporter was going to ask him or what he was supposed to say or how long the interview would go. Hell, he didn’t even know who was going to be interviewing him. He was just kicking himself for not calling Nick to fish for details when he rushed into the boardroom and stopped in his tracks.

 

He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting the journalist from London Now to look like, but it certainly wasn’t like this. The man leaning against the conference table was stunning: slight in stature with feathery, carelessly-mussed brown hair and heavy-lidded, gray-blue eyes and thin lips stretched wide in a smirk as he typed furiously on his mobile. There was just a hint of reddish brown scruff lining the angular contours of his jaw and his skin was beautifully-bronzed (which, how? It was November in London).

The man finally looked up and his eyes widened when he saw Harry standing slack-jawed in the doorway. “Oh, hullo,” he said, his voice high and a bit raspy and almost musical. Harry fumbled for something to say, but to his horror, his brain seemed to have chosen this moment to lose its grasp of the English language. The man studied Harry for several long moments before speaking again. “I’m Louis Tomlinson, from London Now. I’ll be profiling you for our Influential Londoners column.”

“I—I’m late,” Harry finally blurted out. The man quirked an eyebrow and Harry scrambled to say something that actually made sense. “I mean—I’m so sorry that I’m late! Lost track of time and, uh—oh right, I haven’t introduced myself—I’m Harry. Uh, Styles. Harry Styles.”

Harry felt the urge to slam his head against the conference table when Louis Tomlinson’s mouth popped open in surprise, his sharp blue eyes twinkling with mirth and a quiet chuckle slipping from his lips. In the midst of his intense embarrassment, he still managed to appreciate that Louis Tomlinson’s laugh had the same breathy yet melodic quality as his voice.

“Right—well, it’s nice to meet you, Dr. Styles. Shall we get started?” he asked, extending his hand for Harry to shake. Harry nodded dumbly and gripped Louis’ hand, trying to ignore the heat that pooled low in his stomach at the contact.

Louis turned to retrieve his notepad from the table and Harry felt his throat go dry because holy hell, this man’s arse was insane, round and firm and complimented by thick, muscular thighs showcased sinfully in fitted black jeans. Jesus, he was gorgeous

 

“Do you want to sit?” Louis asked after he’d settled into one of the plush swivel chairs. Harry nodded again and tried not to trip over his long limbs on the short walk across the room, a remarkably difficult feat considering his legs suddenly felt like they were made of jelly.

“Pull it together!” he told himself sternly as he selected a seat across the table from Louis. “You are a 29 year old man!”

“You don’t mind if I record this, do you?” Louis asked, pulling what looked like a black flash-drive out of his pocket. Harry didn’t answer because he’d just noticed the tattoos on Louis’ forearms where the sleeves of his black blazer were pushed up. There were playing card suits inked over one of his  wrists at equal intervals. Then right above that, God help him, was a skull and crossbones. Harry was maybe, quite possibly just a little bit in love.

“Um, is that a no or—?” Louis trailed off uncertainly, snapping Harry back to reality.

“Oh, right! No, that’s okay, go ahead,” Harry replied, looking down and running a hand through his hair self-consciously.

“Right then. Let’s start with the easy stuff, shall we?”

“The easy stuff?” Harry echoed.

“Your background, where you went to school, what exactly it is that you do—all the basics,” Louis rattled off.

“Right. My, um—my background. I, uh, well I’m from Cheshire. And I went to Cambridge for university. And, uh—sorry, what was the other question?”

Louis cocked his head to one side and studied Harry for a moment. Harry squirmed under the intensity of his gaze; it was like Louis was trying to read him and it was slightly disconcerting.

“Why don’t you just tell me a bit about yourself?” Louis asked after a long moment, poising his pen to the notepad and looking at Harry expectantly.

 

Harry racked his brain for something articulate and meaningful, something that would impress this beautiful, befuddling man sitting in front of him.

“I—um, I have two dogs.” Oh Jesus, he was talking about the dogs. He needed to get a grip.

“They’re called Latte and Lucy," Harry continued, because apparently he had no control over what came out of his mouth anymore. "Latte’s a chihuahua and Lucy’s a Great Dane. Sometimes Latte rides on Lucy’s back. It’s—uh, it’s hilarious.”

Louis’ jaw actually dropped and Harry felt the overwhelming urge to jump out the window, onto the street below and out of this godforsaken conference room.

“Sorry, forget I said that,” Harry mumbled as he felt blood rush to his cheeks and stain them a deep, flushed pink.

 

“No, um—it’s okay. Why don’t you tell me about what you do here at the hospital?” Louis asked.

“Oh okay, I can do that. Um, I’m a surgeon. Which, you know that, I guess. And I specialize in cosmetic and plastic surgery. Which sounds like the same thing, but actually isn’t because like, cosmetic surgery is—um, well, it’s more focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance. And it’s like, obviously elective in nature. But with plastic surgery, you’re talking about the reconstruction of deformities, usually from trauma or birth defect. And like, there’s some overlap, but not as much as you might think. It’s quite frustrating, actually, when they get lumped together. Most surgeons actually only do one or the other, so I’m kind of unusual, doing both.”

Louis had leaned forward in his seat, scribbling furiously with a concentrated little frown on his face. Harry knew it was absurd, but he felt stupidly proud of himself for finally saying something that Louis felt was worth writing down.

 

“What’s your favorite surgery to perform?” Louis asked quickly, not looking up as he continued to write.

“Rhinoplasty,” Harry replied without a moment’s hesitation. Louis’ whole face crinkled adorably in confusion. “Rhinopl—,” he started but Harry cut in. “More commonly known as a nose job.”

Something in Louis’ face changed almost-imperceptibly; like someone had installed a dimmer switch on the light in his bright blue eyes. “Why’s that your favorite?” he asked.

“Because it’s the hardest,” Harry replied. “A bump that’s 1 millimeter high can be seen across a room, so the room for error is like, zero to none. And it’s different every time because every nose is different. Getting it right is this incredible high.”

“How often do you perform those surgeries?”

“Not too much, maybe once a month. It’s usually your run of the mill breast augmentations, liposuction, abdominoplasty or uh, tummy tuck. And all of those are pretty boring.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Harry realized how prattish he sounded.

“Not that I think my job’s boring,” he said quickly. “It’s nice to be able to help people fix their flaws. Make the world a bit more beautiful.”

Shit, that hadn’t come out right either. He hadn’t meant to suggest that anyone should feel the need to cover up their flaws; just that people always shone a bit brighter when they felt confident. He was about to try and explain this when Louis changed the subject, the tone of his voice a hint more clipped than it had been a moment ago.

 

Twenty minutes later, Harry felt like he was finally getting into the swing of the interview when Louis said, “Right. You know what, why don’t we call it a day? I think I’ve got enough to be getting on with for now."

“You already have enough to write the whole article?” Harry asked. 

“What?” Louis said blankly.

“Well, you just said the interview was over.”

“Right, for today,” Louis said slowly. “A piece like this usually takes several weeks. There’ll be a few interviews, speaking to your colleagues, then shadowing you as you go about your day-to-day business.”

When Harry continued to stare at him, he added, “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything before, I kind of assumed that you knew.”

“No, it’s okay, I definitely should have known. I—uh, sorry, it all kind of came together really quickly I guess but no, yeah. No, that’s fine. That’s great. Brilliant.”

Harry was rambling. He was rambling and Louis Tomlinson was staring at him in bewilderment and the interview that he’d thought would last a couple hours was apparently going to take up the next several weeks of his life. 

Louis cleared his throat uncomfortably and pushed back his chair, tucking his notebook and recorder into a beat-up leather messenger bag.

“Right, then. I’m gonna go. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, rustling in his bag and pulling out a business card. “Here’s my card if you have any questions.”

Then he was gone, leaving Harry to slump down in his seat and bury his head in his hands, trying to wrap his head around the last hour or so. Trying to process the fact that he was going to see Louis Tomlinson tomorrow, and every day after that for the foreseeable future.


“It was a complete and total nightmare!” Louis exclaimed, ripping a piece of naan in half, dunking it in his curry, and taking a large bite. After his hellish interview with Harry Styles, he had returned to the office to type up his notes and then roped Niall and Zayn into dinner at their favorite Indian restaurant.

“Took me like, half an hour to get anything useful out of him because he’d just ramble on about nothing every time I asked him a question. And he spent about half the interview looking at me like I had three heads! I don’t know what the fuck his problem is.”

“Surely you got some stuff you can use?” Niall asked through a mouthful of tikka masala.

Louis snorted derisively. “Yeah, he said some rubbish about his services making the world a more beautiful place.” Louis pretended to vomit over the side of the table. “Like fake boobs and liposuction makes people more worthy or valuable or something. I guess boiling people down to their tits and arse is just part of the job description.”

Zayn scowled. “Gross.”

“Yeah, I kind of figured he’d be shallow like that. I mean, he’s this attractive bloke who makes all his money exploiting women’s insecurities about their bodies. He actually said that he liked fixing people’s flaws, can you fucking believe that?”

“Sounds like you’ve found your angle, then,” said Zayn as he doodled absentmindedly on the paper tablecloth.

Niall raised an eyebrow. “Do you think Simon’ll be upset that you’re going negative? It’s not exactly your typical profile piece, is it?”

“Simon cares about selling papers and making money,” Zayn said. “As long as he thinks Lou’s article will sell, he won’t give a fuck how nice it is.”

“It’ll sell,” Louis grinned. “I’m gonna write the best bloody article Simon Cowell’s ever read. I just wish it didn’t involve spending the next month of my life cozying up to Dr. Dipshit.”

 

The truth was, a small, traitorous part of Louis was remarkably okay with spending several weeks in close proximity to Harry Styles. Harry might be shallow and slightly bizarre, but he was also one of the most beautiful men Louis had ever seen in real life.

Harry was long and lean and gifted with a lithe, intoxicatingly effortless kind of beauty. He was all flyaway curls and red, bitten lips and piercing green eyes. Plus, he had a jawline that Louis thought could maybe cut glass.

But even the jawline and the curls and the deep rasp of Harry's voice wasn't going to distract Louis from the task at hand. He was, after all, a very serious journalist. Like, the most serious. Which meant absolutely no fantasizing about Harry’s stupid wide lips or his stupid long, ring-covered fingers or how good his small, pert bum had looked in his stupid, baby blue scrubs.