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Cheese Toasties

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“We can’t do this anymore, love.”

“But Harry,” sighed Louis dramatically into his mug, “we had such a good thing going. Three years of fabulous sex, a cult following online, and not one, but two near-marriages in the city of Las Vegas… why must all beautiful things end?”

“Please don’t get deep on me,” Harry said patiently, and if Louis were capable of opening his eyes he would see Harry rolling his. “I mean we have to stop doing this thing where we get obnoxiously drunk the night before we have work things to do.”

“Why on earth would we stop that?”

“Because then we get hungover and feel miserable at work.”

“Correction: I get hungover, you get a mild headache.” If there’s bitterness in Louis’ voice, it’s probably only because he has a lot of deep-seated bitterness about this topic. They could fall into bed (or couch, or floor, or one time Liam’s jacuzzi) with identical levels of drunkenness, and yet Harry would wake up early and drink a glass of water and be fine, while Louis would spend a day curled up in bed trying not to breathe, move, or think.

(Harry said it was because he exercised and ate actual food instead of processed garbage but what did he know and he was a proper arsehole anyways.)

“I adore you,” Louis crooned when he felt the heating pad slip under his shirt to rest on his tummy. “You’re beautiful. I adore you.”

“Will you still adore me when I tell you that you have to move soon because we’re already late to studio time and you can’t take the bed with you?” Harry’s words came between gentle little kisses that he was pressing to the space behind Louis’ ear, which made it very difficult for Louis to tell him to fuck off.

“Am I wearing pants?” he simply sighed.

“No.”

“Do I have to be?”

“Probably. Sit tight for a sec.”

“I’m not bloody going anywhere, Haz,” Louis retorts, but with no real venom. There are some noises in the room that he refuses to open his eyes and face, and then Harry’s guiding Louis’ feet into sweatpants and inching them up his legs until they’re in place.

“Voila!” Harry says quietly, with a voice that clearly conveys his stupid, cheerful smile. “Pants!”

“Dunno why you’re so excited, you’re usually trying to get my pants off.”

“I can’t figure out whether that was meant to be flirtatious or insulting, but either way, we’re late. Come on, Lou, sit up,” Harry urged, guiding Louis into a generally upright position. “Are you walking, or am I carrying you?”

“I almost married a man who asks stupid questions. Twice I almost married you.”

Harry just snickered in response, scooping his slender boyfriend (fiance? It was always so hard to keep track) into his arms and carrying him into the garage so he can deposit the precious cargo safely in the passenger seat of the SUV. “I brought along a thermos of tea,” he murmurs while he buckles Louis in, “and your sunglasses, and plenty of snacks. Okay?”

“Have I told you yet this morning that you’re wonderful and I love you?”

“You’re almost as affectionate while hungover as you are while drunk.”

“So…?”

“Several times. Shhh, just drink your tea and look pretty, babe. I’ve got you.”

By the time they’ve driven to the studio, Louis is able to open his eyes, albeit only behind his Ray Bans and only with much difficulty. They even manage to get him into the studio looking halfway okay, as long as Harry walked close enough that he would nudge Louis upright every time he started to pitch forward too violently. Which wasn’t his fault, by the way, the floor should not be moving like that when he’s trying to walk.

It’s a mark of what kind of life Louis leads that the team member waiting for them doesn’t bat an eye at his bare feet and indoor use of sunglasses. “Okay, you guys have the studio for two hours, that’s it,” she simply says. “We want you to try to do all of the recording you need for the second single, if you can, but don’t push. We want quality over quantity.”

“Sounds good,” Niall cheerfully replies as she exits. He glances around at the other four. “Okay, who wants to go first?”

Zayn wastes no time getting a playful jab in at Louis. “I say we send Tommo in first. He looks so bright and shiny and prepared for the day.”

Louis, who is slumped over in Harry’s lap with his thermos cradled to his shoulder like a baby, does his best to look haughty. “Thank you, Zayn, I take pride in my appearance.”

“Alright, babe, if you say so. Do you also take pride in getting the worst hangovers in the band?”

“Excuse me? I am not-’’

“Harry’s packed you a cheese toastie, I can see it in his bag” Liam chimes in. “That only means one thing.”

“Tommo fails to handle his liquor once again,” sighs Niall.

“Fuck all three of you, then,” Louis huffs, even as he cranes his neck to look up at Harry. “Did you really pack me a cheese toastie?”

“Of course, baby. We’ve been together for three years, I think I know what your hangover food is.”

“That’s… sad, probably, but also romantic. Lean down and give me a kiss, it hurts to move still.”

Their impromptu makeout session lasts a full twenty seconds before Liam caves and takes the first run in the booth while the others watch him through the observation window that links the sitting room to the booth itself. Harry takes mercy on Niall and Zayn and switches from snogging Louis to feeding him a series of greasy snacks, which is a close second best scenario for Louis. He munches happily through Liam’s session, along with Zayn’s and then Niall’s, only protesting when his pillow tries to leave the room.

“No, Harry, wait,” he whines. “Stay here, I’m sad. And nauseous.”

“Someone’s gotta go next,” Harry replies all too reasonably. “I don’t want it to have to be you, so I’ll have to go. Maybe Niall will cuddle with you-”

“Niall’s wiggly. And… I dunno, Irish. Anyways, he’s a terrible pillow. I need you.”

Which of course makes Harry grin so widely that his dimples come out in full force, which in turn stuns Louis into silence while Harry slips away into the booth. Oh well. At least I get to hear his angel voice.

Except the thing was, Harry was doing exceptionally awfully. Every time he’d get almost to the end of a perfectly sung line, he’d botch a lyric or sing a note that wasn’t even close to being right. When he did manage to sing and entire line correctly, Louis would peek at the window and find a small, disappointed smile on Harry’s face, like he hadn’t meant to, like he’d been trying to-

Like he’d been trying to stall so that his very ill boyfriend wouldn’t have to sing right away, because he’s an adorable little idiot.

One of the producers. Dave, peeks his head into the sitting room with a sigh. “We’re going slower than I expected, so we probably won’t get to the chorus. If we try to move things along, though, we can get all the solo parts done. Louis, we have another booth available if you wanted to go get started-”

“I can’t,” Louis blurted as he struggled upright, which was supported by the fact that the sudden movement almost resulted in Harry’s carefully made snacks making a second appearance.

“S-sorry? Er… why not?”

“Because I… um, I just can’t, um… I-”

“Because he’s missing his mojo,” Liam jumps in. “Harry’s his mojo. If Harry isn’t watching, Louis can’t perform. He’ll have to just wait until Harry’s done. Sorry, end of story.”

Dave gives the kind of long, laboured sigh that can only come from a man used to the bratty requests of artists and well-trained in indulging them. He just shakes his head and retreats.

Louis lets himself drift back onto the couch and points blindly in the general direction of Liam. “You’re the best, buddy,” he sighs fondly. “You’ve got my back.”

“Anything for a mate,” Liam snorts with a grin.

Eventually Harry manages to accidentally sing all of his lines beautifully, and his return means Louis’ up. He pouts and protests so long that Dave re-enters to seek Louis out. “Are you ready?” he says a little impatiently. “We’re running out of studio time, here.”

No one steps in to save him this time, so Louis’ mind reels for himself. If there’s one thing he’s sure of, it’s that he should not be recording tracks on their single at a time like this. When he breathes too deeply he gets a sharp pain in his head, so singing? It could quite possibly be a fatal move. There has to be a way out of this.

“You know what?” Louis remarks in a moment of equal parts desperation and inspiration. “You know what this song needs? Riffs. It needs some definite, wonderful, previously unwritten riffs to go on the end. And actually- Zayn, you’re super good at those. You should go do that now! Right now. At this moment. Please.”

“I guess it doesn’t matter,” frowned Dave. “We have to come back to work more on this track anyways, so. As long as someone gets in this booth,” he adds over his shoulder as he exits once more.

Zayn looks at Louis, long and hard. “I know what you’re doing.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re a terrible liar.”

“Well… yeah.”

“But this song would probably sound sick with a riff after the last chorus.”

“Zayn, you beautiful, wonderful creature,” Louis crowed when his bandmate rose and started making his way to the door. “You’re incredible and kind, and if you were gay, I would so-”

“You’re about to make this weird, aren’t you?”

“-scour the globe to find the perfect man for you. Is how I was going to end that sentence. Obviously. Duh.”

Harry’s laugh echoed around the room, which made Louis’ head throb a little. But he smiled anyway as he settled back into Harry’s side, because it was really rather comfortable there and Harry is warm and sweet and generous and makes the best cheese toastie Louis’ ever tasted. Which is pretty much all you need for perfection, if anyone’s making notes.