“Do you happen to have any pomegranate juice around?”
Louis stared at the man who was sitting in one of his dining room chairs, who wasn’t even bothering to stare back at him when he asked for pomegranate juice. He had half a mind to go up to him and turn his head around for him. He didn’t like being addressed, yet ignored at the same time. And it was really too bad, because the man sitting at the other end of the table was fucking attractive.
Usually his roommate, Niall, was home by now. But seeing as how his music career was finally kicking off a bit, the studio had heavily hinted that he should stay late tonight to finish up some melodies on the guitar. There were still plenty of kinks to be worked out.
For some reason, though, Niall had only texted Louis that he wasn’t going to be home on time tonight, and completely forgot to mention it to his fellow musician friend. A friend who was now sitting at the table shuffling a deck of cards that he’d pulled out of God knows where.
“Erm, no, we don’t. So, Niall didn’t tell you at all that he was going to be late tonight?” Louis watched as the other man, Harry, (it only took Louis about 15 minutes to finally remember his name) split the deck into two, and then let them smack against each other as he continued to shuffle.
“Nope.” The response was simple and matter-of-fact.
“Alright…well, he probably isn’t going to be here until late…late.” Louis added the last word as his eyes wandered to the thin-lined tattoo of the same wording near Harry’s right bicep.
Louis’ stare continued to bore into the back of Harry’s head. Didn’t he used to have longer hair? Louis shook the thought from his head and got down from where he had been perched on the counter.
“So, you’re going to wait for him to come home?” Louis finally circled around the table, trying to make Harry look at him. The shuffling of the deck paused, but only briefly. His plan succeeded, and Harry’s even gaze met his, seemingly not having a care in the world.
“We always play a few games on Thursday nights, why should tonight be any different?”
Louis didn’t know whether to be a bit infuriated that this man was essentially refusing to leave his house, or if he should be impressed by his dedication to the game. As far as Louis was aware, he and Niall just played kid games, like Go Fish and War.
“Alright, well, just…have fun, I guess.” Louis turned to walk away.
“Did you know that it was the French version of the card suits that became the worldwide version?”
Louis’ socked feet froze on the wooden floorboards, poised awkwardly since he had been in mid-turn to return to his room. Slowly, he pivoted around to face the man at the table who was once again shuffling his deck.
“Um, no, I didn’t know that.” Who the fuck would know that?
The edges of Harry’s lips quivered up slightly, a smirk teasing against his pearl skin.
“I don’t suppose you know what the rarest deck of cards is either, then.”
Louis really had the urge, once again, to ask this half stranger sitting at his dining room table who the fuck knows that? But that would be quite rude, so Louis decided to just suck it up and deal with Harry, the man who was dressed in some near-obscene sheer white shirt and dark dress pants. He suddenly felt utterly underdressed in his own home in his band t-shirt and jeans. He was pretty sure he hadn’t even washed said shirt the last three times that he had worn it.
“No, I do not.” Louis blinked, half convinced that if he kept his eyes closed for long enough, the man would no longer be there when he opened them, some hallucination produced by his work-exhausted mind.
“It’s circa mid-15th Century Netherlands. It’s on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York now. Some guy in the 70’s paid almost $3,000 for it.”
Louis wasn’t really sure when he had actually pulled the chair opposite of Harry out from the table and sat down. But he found himself suddenly staring across the table at a pair of jaded green eyes. Eyes that were seemingly now focused on him, while his fingers effortlessly continued to disorganize the deck.
“I just thought maybe you had a special interest in cards, considering your wrist.” Harry’s head dipped forward in a small nod, directing Louis’ attention to his own arm that was sat on the table. All four suits of cards were inked permanently into his flesh, black and red standing out against his slightly tanned skin.
“Or maybe you just get tattoos for the hell of it, can’t say I haven’t done the same.” Harry shrugged before expertly beginning to toss the cards together, somehow managing to land them perfectly between each other in the empty slats.
“I like my tattoos.” Louis felt the need to defend himself. Sure, some of his tattoos were idiotic or drunken decisions made at God-awful hours of the night. Usually it was a combination of both, truthfully. But he always told himself that he would never get a tattoo that he regretted. He had to keep reminding himself of that every time he caught a glimpse of the word “Oops!” blended permanently in with his skin. Really, how was a tattoo that was practically synonymous for mistake, not a mistake?
“That’s good, you’re pretty well stuck with them, aren’t you?”
Louis was starting to rethink Harry’s attractiveness to asshole ratio more and more each time the other man opened his mouth.
“Suppose I am, suppose you are too though.” Louis was bristling a little at the way Harry was speaking to him. He bloody well knew he was stuck with his tattoos. He hadn’t stuck them temporarily on using a wet rag like he did when he was nine years old. Back when he thought there was nothing cooler than having Spiderman swinging around on his hand.
“Good thing I don’t regret anything then, huh? You up for a game?” Harry transitioned topics with ease, leaving Louis wondering just how fair it was that Niall had a friend in the music industry who had a voice like velvet, and a physique carved from what could only be the finest marble. Not to mention he must be talented in at least one way. Whether it be his vocal chords, his fingertips plucking strings, or perhaps tapping piano keys, there had to be something remarkable enough about him for him to be in the same place as Niall.
“A game of what?” Louis asked, trying to appear somewhat aloof or, at the very least, not a pushover. But he had already shifted himself in the chair, fully facing Harry with his hands clasped in front of him.
“I suppose War shouldn’t technically be considered a game, would offend a lot of people if you didn’t provide context along with it.” Harry was already dealing out the deck, 26 cards to each of them with an easy flick of his wrist. Louis had to reach out and block the first one thrown to him, to prevent it from flinging itself off of the table. Louis tossed a sour look his way, one that went unseen by the man who was making sure his half of the deck was aligned perfectly.
“Should I start then?” Harry looked halfway up to Louis, noting that he hadn’t touched his cards yet.
“I-” Louis wanted to complain that he had never actually said he wanted to play, “fine, go ahead.” He reached out and gathered his cards closer to himself, not caring to perfect the pile like his adversary. Louis was not known to be one to play cards on a Thursday night, but really, if he didn’t all he would do is go sit alone in his room and catch up on Bates Motel until he passed out.
Harry wasted no time in flipping the top card of his half-deck over, displaying a two of spades. Louis smirked without really even registering the feeling, already smug in his chances of winning. Harry’s smirk rose as Louis’s fell, both of them seeing that Louis had produced the two of hearts.
“A stalemate already.”
Louis had a fleeting, raging desire to knock Harry in the jaw a bit. Though, he had a feeling that the jawline on his face might hurt his knuckles more so than any damage his knuckles would do.
“Not for long.” Louis flipped his next card over, his confidence rocketing back up when the King of clubs stared back at him.
The King’s face disappeared suddenly, though, and in his place was the Ace of hearts. With a flurry of a ring-clad hand, the small pile was suddenly gone.
“That didn’t take long, you were right.” Harry’s confidence was a full solar eclipse, blacking out Louis’ own and giving it no hope of shining again.
“Fuck you.” Louis decided he wasn’t above cursing at someone he barely knew, and Harry apparently, was delighted.
A laugh that Louis didn’t really even know how to begin to describe echoed from the other side of the table, loud and unabashed.
“It’s only the third draw, love. I don’t think we know each other well enough for that yet. Besides, you don’t even have any pomegranate juice, that’s what gets me going.”
Louis outright snorted with laughter, something that he never did in front of others as long as he had a say in it.
“You’re assuming quite a lot there, Harold.” Louis had the satisfaction of watching Harry’s expression shift to one that said he was obviously caught off guard. Even if it was fleeting.
“I was wondering if you even knew who I was,” Harry mused and slapped his next card down. A pitiful four of diamonds lay on the table between them. Louis responded with an eight of spades, collecting both of them into his own deck.
“An eight and a four aren’t going to be anywhere near enough to take out my aces.” Harry set the Ace of clubs down, Louis almost groaned in disappointment and frustration.
“If you put even one more of those aces down, I’m calling that this game is rigged.” Louis waited until Harry dragged the cards away from the center of the table before he flipped his next one, revealing the ten of diamonds.
“Impossible, you watched me shuffle the deck for like ten minutes, it’s just pure luck.” Harry surrendered the two cards to Louis when he produced a mere seven of hearts.
“Still don’t trust you.” Louis shrugged and slapped his next card down, the Queen of hearts. Harry’s King of diamonds took control of the situation, and they began again.
The game continued on, each side both giving and taking, each trying to get the upper hand on the other. After what amounted to about 40 minutes, Harry finally had taken control, dwindling his opponents deck down to a single card. Louis looked as sour as grapefruit tasted. Harry, on the other hand, was the spoonful of sugar on the side of the plate.
“I think that this calls for a musical number, to accompany the end of the war.”
“You’re assuming this is the end, I could have the plans to nuclear warfare in my hand right here.” Louis twiddled his card in front of the both of them, still refusing to reveal it. Harry chuckled, unbelieving of Louis’ threatening claim, and pulled his iPhone from his pocket. Louis noted that the 6s plus looked to be a normal size phone in Harry’s hand, compared to the monstrosity of a device it had looked like in his own when he played with one at the Apple store once.
Let’s dance in style, let’s dance for a while
Heaven can wait we’re only watching the skies
Louis snorted at the choice of song, the lyrics already flowing well with the game.
“You ready, Harold?”
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
“Born ready.” Harry once again adopted the same faux-bored tone as he had before they began the game.
Are you going to drop the bomb or not?
“Harry! You’re still here?” Niall’s voice boomed into the space, along with the door that he had swung open wildly, in an attempt to fit himself and his guitar through at the same time. With a slight struggle near the end, he managed to back himself in, propping the guitar against the wall next to the doorframe.
“I thought you’d just call it a night and come by next week.”
If Niall would have gotten here back when Harry was smirking at him and asking for juice, Louis probably would’ve kissed his cheek and declared him some sort of savior. Now, well, now he just sort of wanted to strangle him a little.
Harry laughed, setting his 51-card deck down in front of him and swiveling so he was facing Niall more.
“Well, Louis here was gracious enough to let me stay, even agreed to play a game with me, right Louis?”
Louis’ fingers were repeatedly rubbing over the back of his card, itching to flip it over, anxious to see if he could redeem himself or not. The song had already finished playing, leaving a backdrop of silence for their voices.
“I can never get Louis to play cards with me! You wanker.” Niall directed a pout at Louis before hiding his face in the refrigerator, searching for something to satisfy his stomach.
“Hey, Niall,” Louis cleared his throat, tilting his head towards Harry while he addressed his roommate.
“What?” Niall’s voice still came muffled from inside the fridge.
“Next time you go to the store, buy some pomegranate juice.”
Niall’s head lifted at that, bumping against the shelf on his way up, curse dropping from his lips while he gave Louis an odd look.
“What the fuck do you need pomegranate juice for?”
Louis’ gaze was still meeting Harry’s, eyes colored jade and cerulean locked on each other.
“It just really gets me going.”