"Sandy, c'mon, your dad's going to be here any minute now!", Louis shouts, glancing at the empty hallway for any sign of Harry.
"Papa, I can't find my teddy bear! Where is it?"
Louis sighs, rolling his eyes. It's 7pm, he's pretty hungry, Liam's waiting for him, and they've already been through this too many times for him to keep his cool.
"I put it in your yellow bag, Sandy, how many times will I have to tell you?", he says with exasperation. He's sweating a little, and his fringe is starting to stick to his forehead. It's the middle of November, for God's sake, why is it so hot? "Hurry up, now, you know Harry gets mad if you're not ready to go when he picks you up."
"No, I don't", someone says next to him, and he jumps, his hand slipping from the doorknob he's been gripping tightly for the past ten minutes.
It's Harry. Well, of course it's Harry, Louis' been waiting for him for fifteen minutes, it better be him. His very long red coat is dripping from the rain that's been pouring the whole week, and his hair looks much darker than usual. Louis doesn't double take at his hand where he knows his silver ring is shimmering.
"You're late", Louis remarks coldly, stepping away to let Harry in.
"Am not", Harry answers simply, and he crouches down soon enough to welcome a storm of messy dark hair and uncontrollable giggles in his arms.
Louis knows he's not late. He doesn't say anything back.
"Dad! Papa gave me a colouring book this afternoon, for when we go to the studio!", Sandy almost screams, her face still buried in Harry's hair. "We're still going to the studio, Dad, right? With Perrie and Jesy?"
Harry doesn't respond, but he's smiling wildly now, as Louis watches his daughter put on her green jacket. Sandy leans in to kiss Harry on the nose, and just like Louis expects it, Harry pinches her cheek. He's noticed this very same exchange several times now, so he knows it kind of became some sort of ritual for them. He's not endeared.
"Papa said I should bring it so I can let you work and not bother you" Sandy adds, and both Harry and Louis freeze.
"Papa certainly likes to say funny stuff about me when I'm not around", Harry mumbles, and the look he gives Louis is nothing close to amused. "You're never bothering me, honey, okay? We all love to have you with us at work."
Sandy hums happily and gives another kiss to her dad, before running into Louis' arms. "Love you Papa, I'll miss you!" Louis' heart melts at that, and this time, he's the one hugging their daughter against his chest, peppering her face with kisses.
"I love you so much. Have fun, don't cause any trouble. I already miss you. Don't forget to take your cough syrup before you go to bed, and no sweets after 5 p.m. And absolutely no T.V. instead of napping, do you hear me?"
Louis hears Harry huff next to him, where he's already standing with Sandy's bags on his shoulder. "You don't have to do this every time I pick her up, Louis, I'm her dad, I know this stuff, too." The annoyance is clear in his voice, and Louis bites back any rude thing that's coming to his mind at the moment. For Sandy's sake.
"Well, we never know", he simply says after a minute of tense silence. He pets Sandy lightly on her head before kissing her one last time, and then turns to Harry. "When are you bringing her back?"
Harry takes Sandy in his arms, her bags still hanging on one of his shoulders, and Louis has to keep himself from staring at his flexed arm. Why the hell does his chest have to be so broad?
"We'll be here by Monday morning", Harry replies. Sandy claps enthusiastically and they both smile at her excitement. "We're having dinner with Niall tonight", Harry adds, and Louis lifts an eyebrow, surprised.
"Oh. Err... How is he? Haven't seen him in a while", he says, unsure. Harry scratches his neck, and tries to position Sandy better as she starts playing with his hair.
"He's good, yeah. Been busy with a new client recently, but yeah. He asks about you a lot, you should, um. I don't know, give him a call or something." Harry seems as uncomfortable as Louis. They've been avoiding each other so much that the last time Louis has seen Niall was when he babysat Sandy a few months ago because Harry was in Canada.
It's not that he's been doing it on purpose, though. Louis thinks about Niall, a lot, actually, Niall is always good fun and many of his nights out would've have been better if Louis had invited him, but. He's just shit at keeping contact. Also, texting your ex's best friend to plan getting-laid nights out would be fucking awkward.
"Yeah, I will. Tell him I said hi", he decides to answer instead, and Harry just gives him a stiff nod.
"I should... We should get going", he mumbles, and Sandy reaches out one last time for Louis to give her a kiss. Louis steps closer, and hugs her tightly while she's still in Harry's arms, and. Nope. Not a good idea. Harry smells like rain, and dirt, and cologne, and that's too many things at once for Louis to be smelling before going on a date.
"Call me when you get there", is the last thing he says to Harry before closing the door behind them.
They don't even exchange one last look, Harry doesn't even ask about his plans for tonight, like he used to when they first started doing this. It feels as formal as it seems, with just a hint of uneasiness that should make Louis feel like a failure to his daughter, but doesn't.
Yeah. Louis should be sad and bothered. But really, they've been doing that for a year, and by now, he just feels empty. Both him and Harry know that there's no going back. No need to try and pretend.
Dinner is okay. They don't end up going to Liam's, because it's raining too hard by the time Liam gets to Louis', but they eat leftovers watching some stupid reality show, and they snog for bit after that. It doesn't actually go very far, just some groping once in a while, cause Liam seems like the romantic type, and every time Louis tries to bring things to the next level, he just smiles and kisses his cheek. They drink a lot, though, and then they're back at kissing.
Louis can wait, he guesses. Liam's a pretty nice bloke, he's funny, and kind, and he's got a huge cock. (Well, as far as Louis can judge with the little groping he's done so far.)
So yeah. Definitely worth the wait.
They kiss some more at the door before Liam leaves, and by the time he reaches his bedroom, Louis' hard on has the time to calm down a little. He contemplates touching himself a little once he's settled in bed, but just as he slips his hand in his pants, his phone starts ringing.
"Um...Louis. Hi." It's Harry. Louis groans. He's talking very quietly. Louis is already mad at him.
"What is it", he mumbles into the phone. His hand is actually still on his dick right now, so he should probably take it out, but he doesn't. It's warm in here, okay? He just hopes Harry will stop bothering him so he can go back to jacking off in peace.
"Um...Yeah, uh. Sandy just fell asleep. We're at Niall's, actually, 'cause it's raining too much, so I guess we're staying here tonight, and maybe tomorrow? They said it wasn't going to calm down on the radio. The weather, I mean."
Harry is rambling, and he's doing it so, so, quietly, and Louis wants to punch him in the face.
"I want to punch you in the face." He hears Harry huff, and his grip around the phone tightens. God, Louis hates him. "Is it why you called? To tell me about the weather?"
Harry makes an indignant noise, and Louis can actually picture what face he's making right now. His brows furrowed, his mouth agape and his hand ruffling his recently-trimmed curls.
"No, you twat, I called 'cause you told me to before we left, and because I thought you'd like to know where your daughter sleeps at", Harry whispers angrily.
Yeah, he kind of has a point here.
"Well, thanks for telling me. Anything else, or can I go back to what I was doing?" He knows he's being a brat for no reason here, since Harry's intentions were actually noble. But he really wants to have a wank, and he's being kept away from it cause his ex wants to act like Prince Charming when they both know what a dick he really is.
"Yeah, right", Harry laughs humourlessly into the phone. He's not whispering any more, so Louis guesses he must have left Sandy's room. "I can hear you, you know. You've been drinking. You're probably smashed, alone, on the sofa, waiting for your stupid show to end. What a way to spend the night."
Louis doesn't even open his mouth to protest. He's used to Harry acting like a cunt ninety percent of the time, so he doesn't give a shit about what he has to say. Instead, he hums and starts stroking his cock lazily, because that's definitely more interesting. He feels relaxed, wine flowing in his veins, and he's had a pretty great evening, so he doesn't see the point in engaging with Harry. He decides to tell Harry so.
"I did drink a little, actually. But with Liam. That guy from work, you know? Really short hair?"
"The one that works out a lot?" Harry asks, and Louis is pretty pleased to know that Harry remembers Liam from that party they went a year ago.
"Yeah, we're kind of dating now", he says quietly, his fist moving idly around his dick. He swipes his thumb on the head, hisses a little, then does it again while he waits for Harry's answer.
"Oh. Well, that's good." Harry's voice is steady, and calm, and really not quavering. Louis frowns and stops his movement. "He's pretty hot. Is he with you now? I'm sorry I interrupted, I'll...", Harry starts to say next, but Louis doesn't let him finish.
"No, no, no! He's, uh. He left. We had dinner, but he's gone now", Louis explains quickly, and he wants to hit himself in the head, because he doesn't owe any explanation to Harry. Why are they even still talking? Louis was ready to hang up on him like, three minutes ago.
"Didn't you... What, doesn't he usually stay the night?", Harry asks incredulously. Louis wants to scream. What is this conversation? Why is Harry asking stuff like that? Shouldn't he be, like, jealous, or grumpy, or whatever? And why does Louis still have his dick in his hand?
"No," he says quietly. "We don't- we haven't... yet."
There's a silence on the line, and for a moment, Louis thinks Harry has actually hung up on him. He contemplates laughing it off and saying that "Ha! You thought, Styles! I actually do have a lot of great sex, thank you very much, so I'll leave you to your boring life and go get dicked down on the couch right now!" when Harry speaks again.
"That explains a lot, actually."
And what? Is it amusement that Louis hears in his voice? Louis sits up, the hand around his cock tightening abruptly, and he swears under his breath. "Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean?"
Harry laughs. Like, a genuine, happy laugh, that's making Louis want to crawl into the phone, come out on Harry's side, and sink his fingers inside Harry's eyeballs.
"I mean", Harry says between two chuckles, "you have to admit you've been in a shitty mood lately. More than usual. That can only be the result of a cock drought." And then he erupts into laughter again.
"You're such a dick, you know that?" Louis spits into the phone. He's about to hang up for real this time - he does have a sexual condition that needs to be fixed at the moment - but Harry starts talking again.
"Yeah, right. You love my dick. You'd be pretty happy to have it right now, I'm sure, with the torture you've been living lately." He still sounds fairly amused but Louis freezes nonetheless. He does love Harry's dick. Did. Does? It's still just a dick. Very pretty dick, very big, especially when hard. Louis' mouth is watering. He whines.
He should've pulled his hand out of his pants a while ago. He really can't handle hearing Harry talk about his dick right now. Not when his own is half hard in his hand, and he can't seem to take it away. God, he hates drunk-him.
"I'm gonna hang up, now", he says, his voice strained. He notices how his hand around the phone is slightly shaking, and gulps loudly.
"Right", Harry laughs some more. "Bye, Louis. I'll have Sandy call you tomorrow morning. If you're not too hungover," he adds with what Louis knows is a cheeky smile.
"Yeah, okay, bye," Louis replies quickly, and then he's tossing the phone across his bedroom.
In one second, he's lying down again, his hand moving impossibly fast around himself, not even bothering with lube. It burns a little, but Louis doesn't care. He's only thinking about how the hands that used to touch him were usually already wet, cause he's always liked to suck on a few fingers first, he thinks hard about Liam's fingers, about how he likes it when Liam has his hand on Louis' hips, he thinks about how good Liam smells, he thinks about the smell of rain and cologne, and about a broad chest and muscular arms and curly dark hair and a long, red coat, and he's coming, fast and in the most unsatisfying way possible, the name of someone he would like to forget on the tip of his tongue.
There's still come in his pants an hour later. There's also a tear on his left cheek. He falls asleep with both drying on his skin.
The first time they'd seen each other after the break up, Louis was at work. He remembers it quite well, actually. He had taken a week off, and it was his first day back in the studio. Lauren had sent him a text asking to come down cause she'd apparently found a great beat for the song they were working on, and he had somehow felt excited to leave his bed. Sandy was with his sister anyway, so he could go without having to worry about her.
Harry had been waiting for him in the parking lot, and sadly enough, his curly head was the first thing Louis saw after a week of anti-socialization. He remembers contemplating hiding in his car until Harry decided to leave, but then, a pair of green eyes had sunk into his and in seconds, Harry was stood next to the door.
His once long hair was let down on his shoulders and the wind was making it flutter a little. He was wearing a long brown coat, his hands buried in his pockets. Louis remembers wanting to cry.
He had gotten out of his car, avoiding Harry's eyes. He had felt his stare on the back of his neck while he stood there, eyeing his own reflexion instead of turning around.
"Why are you here?", he had asked, his voice barely a whisper in the wind of October.
He doesn't remember what had Harry answered. It's not that important. He's not even sure Harry had answered anything, actually. He simply recalls strong hands settling on his hips and spinning him around, and burning lips crashing onto his, swallowing his gasp.
He can still feel the cold rain slipping inside of his raincoat and in between the warmth of his and Harry's mouths. It had felt good. Harry was holding him so close, so tight, like he never wanted to let go, and for a second, Louis had let himself believe it. Believe in a future where they could work this out, and forgive each other.
That's all it had been, though. One second of hope.
He had detached himself from Harry's grip and without another word, he had taken up his bag that had fallen on the ground during the kiss, and he had walked away. From his car, from Harry, from this life that suddenly felt like being trapped inside a suffocating shoebox.
He vaguely recalls spending the rest of the day writing Lauren's song, and even recording it. She sounded great on it. It's still one of his favourite songs he's ever written for someone.
Now, waiting in the kitchen for Harry to drop off Sandy, listening to this song, he can't help but wonder. He had walked away, yes.
But the feeling of being trapped is still here.
Louis goes on three other dates with Liam before it happens. They don't actually go out, of course, as they can't risk the press seeing them together when Louis and Harry are technically still married, so they always stay at Liam's, or occasionally at Louis'.
So it's a bit of a hazardous thing when Liam arrives unannounced at his apartment a Saturday evening, a massive bouquet of roses and bottle of expensive champagne in hands.
“Li?” Louis asks, confused, once he's opened the door. “What're you doing here?”
Liam smiles shyly and scratches the back of his neck. His cheeks turn pink, and Louis can't help but smile in return, a little bit endeared.
“Um...I thought... You said Sandy wasn't here during the weekend? And I know we haven't planned a date really, or anything, but I thought it'd be nice to stop by and ...” He starts coughing, flushing impossibly harder, and Louis decides to put an end to his misery and steps away with a reassuring smile to let him in.
“Like, I know we haven't really talked about it, per se,” Liam continues as Louis takes the flowers and the champagne from his hands, “but I thought tonight would be the time, I guess? I really like you, Louis, and I know you're situation isn't exactly the best regarding our dating possibilities, being a celeb and all that, but I really want us to work out and--”
Louis shuts him up with a kiss. He grabs his neck and pulls him down to make their lips meet, and does his best to make the kiss last longer, as long as possible, just so Liam would stop talking.
“Louis,” Liam breathes against his mouth, his big hands coming to rest on Louis' waist, “Louis, I want you.”
Louis freezes. His hands tighten on Liam and he frowns, searching for his friend's eyes.
“You... Do you mean...?”
Liam exhales and brings their lips together for a quick peck before stepping away and taking Louis' hands in his own.
“I mean everything. I mean I want you to be my boyfriend, and I want you to be mine. In all the ways possible,” he adds, one of his hand flying from Louis' hand to his hip. “I want all of you.”
And. Okay. What? Louis wasn't aware of their relationship going so well they were ready to take the boyfriend leap. Louis is still married, for fuck's sake! He likes Liam, that's for sure, and he really wants to have sex with him too, but what the fuck? An actual relationship? A boyfriends-buying-flowers-for-each-other kind of relationship?
“Err...,” is all he managed to say back to a very hopeful Liam.
Liam's face starts to fall a little, but right then, a loud bang makes them both jump and drop their hands.
“Papa! We're here! Papa, open the door!”
Louis panics. So does Liam. His eyes widen and he grabs Louis' arm, whisper-shouting, “What the hell? You're daughter's here? I thought she was with Harry during the weekend!”
Louis shakes his head, trying to smooth out his shirt and biting his lip with frustration. “Not this weekend, no. Harry has an interview in Portland tomorrow morning, she's here tonight. That's why I didn't ask you out!”
He's pretty angry, to say the least. At Liam, first of all, for barging in here without notice, at Harry, for his stupid job and his stupid dedication to his fans that got them here in the first place, and at himself for forgetting that his daughter was about to arrive as soon as he saw a fit bloke with the promise of good dicking on his doorstep.
“Papa!” Louis hears again, and this time, he shakes Liam's hand off his arm before lifting his finger at his face.
“Behave,” he demands, and okay. That's unfair. Liam is the sweetest guy he knows, he obviously won't act like a jerk, like Louis does at the moment. But he's stressed, and he needs someone to take it out onto.
And really, if Liam wants to be his man so bad, he better learn right now how to deal with Louis when he's feeling anxious.
"Louis? You're here?" This time, it's Harry's voice that comes from the other side of the door, and Louis gulps. God, this is going to be a disaster.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming!"
He rushed to the door, leaving Liam standing in the middle of hallway, and without another thought, he opens it.
Sandy jumps in his arms and Louis laughs as she wraps herself around him. He buries his face in her curls, inhaling her sweet smell, and he feels instantly calmer as he hears her giggling in his ear.
"I went to the library today, Papa! Dad bought me so many books, I can't wait to show you!"
"Did he, now?" he asks for good measure, meeting Harry's eyes over her shoulder. "That's really nice. Can't wait either."
Harry nods stiffly and pinches his lips together, staring at his feet, visibly trying to make an effort to interact with Louis, but failing miserably.
Louis is about to thank him and take the bag from his hand, when Sandy shifts in his arms.
"Who's that, Papa?"
Louis' entire body turns into stone as Harry's head snaps up and his eyes lock with a point right above Louis' shoulder.
"Um...Hi! You're the little Sandy, right? I'm Liam."
Louis can't remember why he thought he could get away with Harry and Sandy not seeing Liam when the man is standing right in the middle of his hallway. Sometimes, he's dumb.
It goes horribly. Liam tries his best to stay polite in front of an incredibly rude Harry, who literally refuses to shake his hand and goes straight to Louis' kitchen, pouring himself a glass of champagne like he fucking owns the place.
"Do you mind?" Louis snaps, taking the glass from Harry's hand before it reaches his mouth. "That's not for you."
Harry rolls his eyes, but doesn't answer. Instead, he unlocks his phone and starts playing fucking Candy Crush. Fucking twat, Louis thinks as he turns his heels to go to his daughter.
Sandy and Liam are engaged in an animated conversation in the living room when Louis steps in, and he stops at the doorstep, looking at the interaction.
"And that's a book about cars! It explains how they function on the inside, you know what I mean? It's so nice, it's so I can fix cars when I grow up!" Sandy nearly screams in Liam's ear. She looks really excited, and Louis' heart flutters when he catches the endeared expression on Liam's face.
"Come one, little one, time to shower! Say bye to Liam," he says, going in to take his daughter in his arms.
"Bye, Liam! You're really nice, you can come read books with me anytime!" Sandy then blows him a kiss, and Louis winks at Liam before carrying her to the bathroom.
When he comes out of her room after he's put her to bed, Louis finds Liam in the living room, leafing through Sandy's nail art book.
"You're still here," Louis states, surprised. He goes to sit next to Liam who simply wraps his arm around Louis' shoulder, bringing him in for a cuddle.
"Yeah. Don't worry, I'm leaving, just wanted to say bye."
"Oh. Alright," Louis whispers. "Bye, then."
They both start laughing, and then Liam leans in to kiss Louis lightly on the lips.
"You know, about what I said earlier," Liam says quietly. Louis nods, starting to feel uncomfortable again. "I didn't mean to put you on the spot. I know I shouldn't have come tonight, without telling you, and asking you so bluntly about stuff involving commitment. I realize how stupid that was. I'm sorry."
Louis relaxes in his arms, nuzzling Liam's jaw. He truly is a precious human being. Louis thinks he likes him back.
"Apologies accepted. And I like you too, you know. It's just..." He sighs, and Liam nods, pressing a kiss on his head. "I'm still with Harry, I mean, as far as his fans and the medias are concerned, and I'd hate to be with you in those conditions. If I get to call you my boyfriend, I don't want it to be only in here, or at yours."
Liam doesn't say anything back. He just holds Louis tighter, and peppers kisses along his neck.
When Liam leaves half an hour later, Louis' heart is full and he feels happy and light and ready to climb a mountain with no equipment. He smiles lazily and heads towards the kitchen with the intention of drinking a glass of that very promising champagne Liam has brought.
He full stops as soon as he catches the sight of Harry, still sitting on the counter, his long legs dangling idly and his eyes locked on his phone screen.
"What the fuck. Why are you still here?"
Harry jumps at the sound of Louis' voice, and he looks around for a moment, like he's forgotten where he is.
"Oh. Uh. Shit. Sorry, I got caught up in my game, I'll just...," he starts rambling, and Louis, who was feeling pretty good a second ago, feels a boiling rage settling in his veins.
"Would you care to explain what the fuck was it that you did out there?" he hisses, his hands clenched in tights fists.
"What do you mean?" Harry replies, not looking at him.
"Don't play dumb with me, you arsehole, what the actual fuck," and the more he speaks, the more Louis feels his anger shift into a mix of confusion and actual curiosity. "I remember you guys getting on quite well at that party last year, why were you so rude with him?"
Harry snorts as he leans against the counter, his eyes still not meeting Louis'. "He wasn't trying to suck your dick back then."
Louis lifts an eyebrow. That was really not expected. And he probably should start asking important questions, like why do you care and do you still think I'm yours for thinking stuff like that, but instead, Louis does something dumb.
"He wasn't either, tonight," he mumbles, crossing the kitchen to pour himself a glass of champagne.
"Oh, please," Harry's voice laughs behind his back. "Roses and champagne? I'm surprised he didn't bring chocolate and strawberries too. That clearly was an attempt to get into your pants."
Louis' hand tenses up around the neck of the bottle, and he takes a deep sight before pouring the golden liquid in the fancy glass he's taken from the cupboard. Harry is such a dickhead, god.
"Actually, that was an attempt to get into my heart," he says, and that sounds so cheesy he almost joins Harry when he erupts into laughter in his back. "I'm serious," he adds after a moment, noting that Harry is really not convinced. "Some guys have a bit of class you know. They do things right."
"Yeah, I'm sure," Harry replies with a mocking tone, and Louis can't see him and he knows Harry's wearing that insufferable smirk on his face.
"He asked me to be his boyfriend."
They fall into a very tense silence after that. Louis doesn't want to face Harry, so he won't turn around, but he can still hear every breath that Harry takes, and he can feel him staring at the back of his neck, and it's so much already.
He brings his glass to his lips, sipping lightly at the champagne, waiting.
"That's, uh." Harry clears his throat. "That's good. Great. Um...What did you say?"
Louis puts the glass in front of him and claps his hands against the gas cooker. "That we should wait until the divorce is settled before getting exclusive."
"But... Louis, that's not going to happen any time soon, you know that right? I thought we'd talked about it." Louis can see Harry's frown as he hears him talk, and his knuckles turn white with how hard he's holding onto the counter.
"I know that, H," he snaps. "I know."
"You shouldn't keep yourself from having a boyfriend just because of this," Harry adds, and Louis huffs and turns around, planting his eyes inside of Harry's.
"Yeah right. Because I'm so selfish I'm going to put my daughter's life, and your career as well as mine at risk because I want to have a dick to sit on regularly."
Harry hides his face in his hands and groans. "God, Louis. No, that's not what I meant, you know that. I just... I'm sorry okay? That this has to be so complicated. That you can't have a life of your own without me fucking it all up all the time."
"You're not fucking it up, Harry, shut up," Louis responds, annoyed and tired. "I said no cause I'm not ready to get exclusive with him right now. You have nothing to do with it."
"Why though? He seems sweet, even with Sandy, from what I heard tonight," Harry insists, and Louis doesn't understand. What is his problem? "He'd be a good boyfriend. Is it because you're seeing other people as well?"
Louis' mouth falls open with a loud gasp. "What the fuck, Styles, no, fuck you."
Harry lifts his hand in front of him, clearly realising his mistake. "Sorry, sorry, it's just... You said you don't feel like being exclusive with him. I just... assumed. Sorry."
Louis is still a bit pissed though, so he just sips from his glass and doesn't answer.
"I, uh. I'm seeing someone, too."
Just like that, Louis' world stills. There's no weird bang, he doesn't stop breathing, but for a moment, it's really warm in his chest. And it's get impossibly hotter, impossibly fast, and Louis wants to curve into a ball on the floor. But he can't, so he nods and empties his glass of champagne, in one go.
"She's... Her name's Isma. She works with Lou, she's a makeup youtuber, or whatever, and..."
"That's cool," Louis interrupts, putting his glass in the sink with a loud noise. "Good luck with her."
They're back at avoiding each other's stare. Louis wants to puke. He feels like he's going to faint any minute now.
"She actually wants to meet you," Harry blurts out, and okay, what? Louis meets his eyes and instantly knows that Harry too thinks it's a dumb idea. He doesn't say so, though. "Sandy likes her a lot, so like. I'm sure you'll get on well. If you wanna meet her, I mean."
"Sandy's met her?" Louis gasps.
Harry frowns. "Yeah well, she also just met Liam, so."
"That wasn't planned!" Louis half shouts, completely baffled by the news of his daughter meeting her future stepmother. Ugh. Just the thought of it makes him sick.
"Oh yeah right, I forgot. You like to go around fucking people behind your daughter's back," Harry spits bitterly.
Louis sees red. He backs off the counter and takes rapid steps towards Harry, who doesn't have the time to step away from where he's standing and finds himself facing a very angry, very small, but very scary Louis.
"You're a massive twat, let me tell you, Styles. Who I fuck isn't my daughter's business, okay? And it's not yours either, so I won't let you talk to me like you have a say in any of this!" Harry doesn't say anything back, he simply gapes at Louis, looking down at him because he's so bloody tall, and Louis doesn't think before swatting dryly at Harry's chest. "God, what were you thinking? She's five! Living separately and letting her know we're not together anymore is already enough of a risk, imagine putting into her head that she has a new mother above it all! She's not going to keep that to herself, she's a kid! What if the press hears about it, huh?"
Harry finally steps away, rolling his eyes. "She doesn't even know Isma and I are going out. She thinks we're friends, chill."
Louis pouts and crosses his arms. "That doesn't make it right. This is not right."
"Yes, it is," Harry sighs, combing his hair with his fingers. Several rings are shining on them, and Louis notices a new one decorated with a red ruby on his forefinger. "You're just jealous."
At that, Louis throws his arms in the air. "Well of bloody course I am! I don't want my daughter to have a new mother!"
He can hear the frustration in Harry's sigh as he pulls out a chair from the table and slumps down on it. "And I don't want her to have another dad either, but hey, look who's calling who selfish here!"
"Liam is not going to be her dad! We're not even properly together!"
"Isma isn't going to be her mother either, okay? We've just been on a couple of dates, that's it."
"And yet she's met our daughter!"
"Yes, cause we saw her at Tesco last Friday!" Harry rises up from his chair steps closer to where Louis is standing, but Louis is too caught up in his rising anger that he doesn't even notice.
"And she wants to meet me!"
"Cause she loves your songs, she's a big fan of yours!"
"I don't care, okay? I don't care she's a fan, she can eat my ass, she's not going to meet me just so she can fuck off later with my daughter and my husband!" Louis is screaming, and he should consider toning it down cause Sandy is sleeping on the same floor, but tears are starting to gather around his lashes and his voice is slightly quivering, and he doesn't care about waking her up as much as he should.
All he can think about is how he's been such a fool that a woman is going to steal his girl and his man, and he's completely helpless cause none of them both were entirely his in the first place.
"Louis," Harry whispers quietly, his hand coming to rest hesitantly on Louis' shoulders. "You know it's not going to happen."
Louis shakes him off and takes a few steps away. "No, I don't."
He grips the bottle of champagne and goes to pick up the glass from the sink. His throat is tight and it hurts to swallow, so when he speaks again, to a Harry who looks sad and frustrated, it's with a simple murmur.
"I'm going to bed. You can show yourself out."
Liam comes by a few days later and cooks dinner for him and Sandy. Sandy helps him with cooking the pasta and they chat animatedly while Louis watches them.
"You know, I have a little niece who's exactly your age," Liam tells her as he's chopping the tomatoes. "We get on really well. Maybe that's why you and I are having so much fun! You remind me a bit of her."
"What's her name?" Sandy asks, curious.
"Mia," Liam says with a soft smile.
Sandy claps happily and to both Louis and Liam's surprise, she leans in from the counter and kisses him on the cheek. "I like you a lot, Liam. You can stay with us all the time! You should bring Mia with you next time you come."
Louis lets out an awkward laugh, but Liam doesn't seem bothered by the way his not-boyfriend-yet's daughter is talking to him. He just nod excitedly and winks at Louis when their eyes meet, and. Okay. Louis feels butterflies.
It's just... it's nice to see his daughter and Liam having fun in the kitchen. So nice to spend some time with Liam when he's acting natural and confident around his daughter enough for her to be comfortable and happy. So nice to feel like his got a real family, that likes to spend Tuesday nights cooking pasta and goofing around in the kitchen.
It's so nice that he ends up taking his camera and filming them with a giant smile on his face.
Later on, when Sandy is in bed, Liam lays him down on the couch and kisses him so hard he can't feel his lips. They don't do anything more, they just snog, as usual, but this time it's so intimate and concrete that Louis is red and panting when they're done. Yep. Definitely butterflies.
After Liam is gone, Louis goes to his room and finds his phone's screen lighting the dark room. He frowns and goes to unlock it, and sees he's received a text from Harry.
Harry [21:45]: Can I come over ?
Louis sighs, checking the clock. It's past 11pm. What does Harry even want? They haven't talked since last weekend and things are not better, as far as Louis is concerned, so he's kind of worried about Harry's intentions here.
Louis [23:07]: Sorry, didn't see your message. Is something wrong?
Louis puts his phone down after that, and goes to take a quick shower. He finds himself actually singing under the hot stream of water, and when he gets out, it's with a dreamy smile on his face.
His phone is still flashing on his bed. He has three notifications.
Harry [23:10]: Can I call?
[23:10]: You have one missed call from 'Harry'
Harry [23:11]: Call me back when you can
Louis stares harder at his phone screen, frowning. What the hell? He sits on the edge of the bed and rapidly calls Harry's number, getting more worried every second.
" 'llo," Harry's voice says after two rings. He sounds a bit breathless, and there is a lot of noise behind him.
"Harry, what's going on?"
"Can I... I'm coming over, okay?" And yeah, now Louis can make up the sound of the streets over the phone.
"What? No, what the fuck Harry! Are you driving? Hang up, for fuck's sake!" Louis whisper-shouts, his fist in a ball.
"I'm not driving, calm down, Stan is driving me," Harry sighs. "Can I come over please? I'm already on the way, I'm almost there."
"Why?" Louis asks incredulously. "Harry, it's half past eleven, what do you want that can't wait for tomorrow?"
"Please, Louis. I'm leaving for Paris tomorrow, and I need to talk to you about this in person."
"C'mon, Harry, I'm going to bed, it's not... Just tell me on the phone."
"What is it, are you having your boyfriend over or something?" Harry asks, and there's a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
"No, dickhead, Liam left half an hour ago cause he, unlike you, has the notion of boundaries and time and why you shouldn't barge in people's home at arse o'clock !" Louis tries his best to be as quiet as possible, but really, when has this worked when Harry is concerned?
"Louis. It's 11pm. Not three in the morning. Stop acting like a grandpa, I'm almost there anyway." Harry sounds so patronizing that Louis feels blood in his mouth with how hard he's been biting unconsciously the inside of his cheek.
"See you in a bit," is what Harry says last before he hangs up.
Louis groans in frustration and goes to put on a pair of pants and some torn up shirt, gritting his teeth. Why does it always have to be so complicated? He's just had the most amazing evening, he fucking sung in the shower, for God's sake! But here comes Harry, on his way to ruin Louis' life once again.
There's a knock on his door ten minutes later, and Louis drags himself out of his room to go and open it.
Harry is wearing a tank top. Louis doesn't really know what happens in the next minute, because Harry is wearing a white tank top, and very skinny blue jeans, and a... is that a freaking Halloween themed headband in his head? What the fuck?
"Can I come in?"
Louis blinks twice, and then realizes that Harry has just been speaking to him. He clears his throat and, true to himself, cocks his hip and gives Harry the most unimpressed stare he can muster.
"You're twenty-eight, why are you dressed like a teenage hipster going to Coachella?"
Harry rolls his eyes and walks past Louis, letting himself in. He goes straight to the kitchen, and Louis doesn't have to look to know that's he's going to make himself a cup of tea.
"It's for my next role. The director wants me to try some method acting or some shit and try to act more like a teenager," Harry explains dully, like he himself doesn't know why he's telling Louis all of this.
"Is it why you're coming to bother me in this fine evening? To tell me about your successful acting career?" Louis asks, pulling up a chair and straddling it so he can face Harry who's busy with the tea making.
"Uh, well. Kind of," Harry shrugs. Louis lifts an eyebrow, so he proceeds. "I don't know if Sandy told you, but I did the main character's voice in that Disney/Pixar animated movie."
"Oh, you did?" Louis asks, amazement in his tone. "Well, you know what? I don't care," he adds, a fake smile plastered on his face.
"I know you do, dickhead," Harry mumbles as he pours them both a cup of steaming water. He puts a tea bag in each and adds some milk in Louis' cup before bringing them to the table.
He takes a seat before speaking again.
"So the premiere is in two weeks. Cathy just called and told me it was going to be at Disneyland Paris and that I could bring Sandy."
"Oh." Louis simply says. He wasn't expecting that, to say the least. He clears his throat, and nods.
"Uh, yeah, okay I guess? What is it exactly, you want me to give you permission?" he asks, perplexed.
"No, it's not that. It's just... I'll already be in Paris, I'm leaving tomorrow, remember?" He takes sip of his tea, obviously uncomfortable. Louis doesn't know what is going on.
"So like, I can bring a few more people, so I thought you could come with her? If you don't want her to fly alone with a flight attendant or something. Cause she's still five, and..."
"Is it your way of asking me to be your date at that thing? 'Cause I know we have to keep up the appearance or whatever for your image, we've done this before, so you don't need to go all 'if you want to' on me."
Louis knows he's being a bit harsh. He just can't help it. Did Harry come here just to play the good guy and take their daughter's safety as an excuse for Louis to serve his career once again? Shut the fuck up.
"That's not... That's not why I asked, Louis, come on," Harry sighs, his head falling in his hands. "I'm trying to be civil, here. You don't have to come to this one, we'll make up some excuse if the press asks, it doesn't matter. I just thought you'd like to be with her the first time she goes to Disneyland."
"Of course, I do, you idiot! What kind of question is that?" Louis hisses, sipping his tea and glaring at Harry at the same time.
"I don't know Louis, you tell me! Look how you react every time I try and talk to you," and this time it's Harry's turn to glare, and fuck. His jaw is tightening, and Louis can see it.
Shit. He hates how much he loves to see Harry getting mad.
"Whatever," he mumbles, well aware that he's ignoring the whole point of the argument. "Don't you want to bring your girlfriend as your plus one, anyway?"
It's a useless comment, and he knows it. They've been through this so many times, he kind of expects Harry to really get angry after he's said it, but oddly, the man stays silent.
"What is it?" Louis asks, irritated.
"Um...Actually. About that." Harry takes his cup to his lips and doesn't meet Louis' eyes. "Isma will already be there."
Louis' head snaps up. What?
"What the hell? Why?"
Harry lifts his hands in front of him with the decency of looking ashamed.
"It's not... I didn't invite her, she's part of the cast! That's how we met. I swear, Louis, I wouldn't put you on the spot like this," he says more quietly, and this time, he's searching for Louis' eyes.
Louis turns his head and stands up, bringing his cup in the sink. He leans against it, his arms crossed, and starts scratching his elbow.
"Yeah, whatever. I don't care, anyway. Didn't you say you could bring more people? I'll take Liam with me."
Louis feels bad. He knows he's just used Liam to make Harry feel like shit, and Liam doesn't deserve that. Harry does deserve to suffer, mind him, but not Liam. However, the damage is done, and since Louis has never learnt how to fucking stop, he speaks again.
"That way, I'll have my dose of sex and I won't act like a prick around you. It's a win-win situation."
Harry shoots up from his chair, his cheeks red. Yeah, Louis thinks, that wasn't the smartest thing he's said.
"Are you nuts? I'm not paying for that guys' flight ticket and for his hotel room so he can have sex with my husband whenever he wants!" He's angry, Louis can tell. He's not shouting yet, and he probably won't, because Sandy is asleep and, unlike Louis, he has an ounce of self-control in him.
"Well you're fucking your Irma whenever you want, how is that different?" Louis spits, his hands resting on his hips.
"It's Isma and you know it," Harry groans. "And I'm not fucking her, just as I won't be in two weeks either, Louis, because believe or not, I have some respect left for you!" Harry takes a few steps forwards, his nostrils flaring with how mad he is. Louis feels a shiver zip down his spine.
"Yeah right, tell that to yourself. Turns out I don't respect you anymore, Styles, so whether I'll be going to that premiere or not, know that Liam will be with me, fucking my brains out, and you won't be able to do anything about it!"
Louis does not expect what happens next. Well. Maybe he does.
Harry lets out an almost animalistic growl and in two steps, he's on Louis. Louis thinks he can smell Harry's cologne before he can feel his hands gripping his wrist, but then. Then he stops thinking.
He feels familiar lips on his own, and a familiar chest pressed against his, and he feels tears streaming down his cheeks. He doesn't know to whom they belong.
Harry brings Louis' hands around his own neck, and squeezes his wrist so Louis leaves them there. His own hands go to Louis waist, and he pulls him roughly against him, closer than they already are, and Louis huffs inside Harry's mouth.
Harry seems to take it as an opportunity to slip his tongue inside Louis' mouth, and they both moan as their tongues collide, tasting each other for the first time after a year. Harry tastes like tea and mint and there's even a little hint of smoke in his breath. He tastes so good, Louis might faint.
Harry's leg comes to rest between his open ones, and Louis can't help but roll his hips against it, a hot shock running along his limbs. Harry kisses him harder, biting his lips and groaning in his mouth, and brings Louis' hips against his leg, helping him to roll them on him.
"C'mon, Lou," he pants in between kisses, his voice strained. "Go ahead, I know you want to. Take it, take it, c'mon, take it."
He doesn't make any sense, but Louis is so hard, and things are happening so fast, that he just knows. He knows what he wants, and now he knows he's going to take it because Harry's given him permission to.
He drops to his knees, his hands working fast on Harry's fly. He can't hear anything over the beating of his heart, over his harsh breaths. He can't feel his lips because of how hard Harry bit them, but he can feel Harry's hand resting on his scalp, and his thumb caressing his cheek, and he can see his cock, half hard and so pretty and so big Louis might cry, and that's all he needs.
"Go on," he thinks he can hear Harry say, before he leans in and presses an open mouthed kiss on the tip.
Harry's dick has never tasted like anything spectacular, Louis must admit. It's a dick, and it's precome, and while he agrees about the whole sexiness of it, it still doesn't taste very good.
However, right this moment, he feels starved for it, and without a second thought, he takes all of it in his mouth. Or he tries, at least. It's been a while and yeah, Harry is huge, so he only manages to take a few inches before pulling back, and then diving in again.
Above his head, Louis can hear Harry struggling to stay quiet. He's always had a hard time keeping the noises in every time Louis has had his mouth on him, whether it had been on his dick, or his nipples, or on his arse. Harry has just simply always loved his mouth, Louis knows it.
"Louis, Lou- oh my god, Louis- baby, please, can you just. Fuck. We need to..." Harry cuts himself off with another whine, and Louis kind of wants to smile at that, but he also really can't cause Harry's cock is stretching his lips too wide.
He pulls away and lifts his gaze, meeting Harry's eyes as he starts tonguing lightly at the head. "What is it," he asks, his voice barely a murmur but still extremely hoarse to his own ears.
"We should go to your room, what if- shit, stop doing that, I'm trying to speak," Harry whisper-shouts, grabbing Louis' hair in his fist and pulling his head back harshly, making Louis stumble back a little.
A single shiver runs down Louis' spine and he really wants Harry to keep his hands in his hair, almost wants to beg for it. But Harry's frown seems to be serious, so he zones back in and waits for him to start talking again.
"We shouldn't do this here, what if Sandy sees us?"
"She won't, she's sound asleep," Louis shakes his head, already opening his mouth to get back to work.
"Louis, c'mon, listen to me," Harry tries again, pulling at his hair to keep his mouth away from his cock. Louis almost pouts.
"My room's walls are not soundproof, she's going to hear us if we go in there. It's safer here," he explains, not even bothering to hide his annoyance.
He really wants to have sex, and Harry interrupting him is starting to make him go soft. If it weren't for the hand in his hair, he would already be standing up asking Harry to leave.
"Yeah, but if she wakes up and walks in on us, what do we do?" Harry presses.
Louis rolls his eyes back at him. "At this rate, she's not going to be walking in on anything," he mumbles.
Harry groans and pulls slightly at his hair to make him stand up. Louis obliges, this time full on pouting, and he even folds his arms against his chest.
"Let's go to your room," Harry states, not even giving Louis the impression that he has a choice. "I promise I'll be quiet."
He leans in before Louis can say anything and kisses his lips softly, almost chastely, a vivid contrast with how his hand is still pulling at Louis' hair and how his cock is hanging hard between his legs, pants halfway down his legs.
Louis' eyes flutter open after Harry pulls away, and he's too out of it to say anything, so he simply nods and waits for Harry to pull his pants back up before he leads them both to his bedroom.
He doesn't switch the lights on. He strips quietly and waits for Harry to do the same, and for a moment, it's almost like the mood has been broken because he can't bring himself to look at Harry any more.
"Hey," he hears a voice whispering in his ear, and oh. Harry is standing behind him now, his hand coming to rest on Louis' hips, breath light and warm against the back of his neck. "You sure you want to do this?"
Louis gulps. Funnily enough, that's all he's been craving for the past twelve months, but now, he can't bring himself to say it to Harry. So, he settles with imperceptibly leaning back so his back grazes Harry's chest, and that's all it takes for Harry to spin him around and claim his lips once again.
Harry's hand start roaming all over his now-naked body, and Louis' skin is tingling in the best way possible. He backs away blindly, pulling Harry with him as he lets himself fall onto the bed.
It's a mess of tongues, teeth, and searching lips and when Harry kisses his way down his chest, leaving a huge mark right against Louis' hipbone, Louis thinks his soul might leave his burning hot body.
"Will you let me?" Harry asks, almost reverently, his mouth only a few inches away from Louis' dick. "Please?"
Louis can't bite back his moan and his fist immediately comes to his mouth, preventing other noises from coming out. That must have been the answer Harry was waiting for, because he doesn't waste a second before he takes Louis in his mouth, his pink, obscene lips wrapping around Louis' cock and slurping like it's fucking candy.
Louis doesn't know how long he lasts. One minute, he's biting down on his fingers, Harry doing something incredible with his tongue on his balls, and the next, white stripes are coming out of his dick, some of it landing on Harry's chin before he closes his fists around the tip and collects it all in his hand.
"You're so beautiful," Louis thinks he can hear Harry whisper. He whimpers lightly, his hand leaving his mouth to wrap around Harry's neck as Harry climbs up on body, connecting their mouth in a messy, wet kiss.
They kiss for what feels like hours. Louis almost gets lost in it, but then Harry starts rocking his hips against his thigh, and all of a sudden, that's all Louis can focus on. The drag of his smooth and slightly wet tip on his skin, the silent gasps leaving Harry's mouth and landing his tongue.
"You gonna come?" he asks breathlessly, his hands travelling down Harry's back, nails scratching his shoulder blades just how Louis knows Harry loves.
"Fuck," Harry curses before he bites Louis' bottom lip harshly. "You know I am. You know exactly what you're doing to me- shit- you're so good, always so good, gonna make me come so good--"
He doesn't finish his sentence. Louis barely has time to look down between them to catch Harry's cock spurting come on him, right on the bruise he's left on his hip. If he hadn't come minutes ago, he would've just now, because fucking hell, that was hot.
They don't move for a while. They just stay here, breathing heavily against each other's mouth, exchanging lazy kisses. Louis can feel both his and Harry's come drying on him, but he can't bring himself to care, as gross as he knows he's gonna feel the next morning.
"Sleep," he manages to whisper, hands buried in Harry's hair.
Harry kisses him again and then nods, before he rolls over and settles next to him, arms immediately coming to wrap around Louis' waist. He crooks his head in Louis' neck, and sighs.
"G'night," he murmurs, pecking Louis' collarbone.
Louis wants to say so many things. He wants to tell Harry that he's sorry, that he shouldn't have been so mean to him all these months, he wants to tell him that tonight was the best thing that's ever happened to him in a year, he wants to grip Harry's face and tell him 'I love you, I never stopped loving you, please, take me back' but he's tired, and sleepy, and he thinks that there will always be tomorrow.
"Good night," Louis answers.
When Louis wakes up the next morning, he's alone. The bed is still warm next to him, and there's a single piece of paper lying on the pillow, a yellow sticky note with black scribbles written on it.
He sits up and takes it, arm numb, blinking several times to accommodate his eyesight to the light in the room.
I had to take a flight to Paris very early this morning. We'll see each other there in a couple of weeks, I'll email you the details soon.
I'm sorry about last night, I shouldn't have done what I did, nor said what I said. Liam is welcome to join you if you want to bring him along. I'm really sorry.
Have a good day, H.
It's only when Sandy comes barging in with her thumb in her mouth, demanding that he cooks her pancakes for breakfast that he notices the single tear that's crashed on the note, making the words look smudgy.