Harry slings his arm around the back of the booth, leaning back to relax his posture.
Louis’s looking through a menu, mouth puckered to the side in indecision, and Harry stares at him. The waitress comes around for the second time, and he has to tell her they need another minute before then throwing his head back to sigh obnoxiously.
“All right, knock it off,” he hears Louis say.
Harry looks at him.
“Why do I dine with you? It takes you, like, fifteen minutes to make up your mind, and that’s half of half of our lunch break,” he says.
Louis folds the menu. “You know what your problem is?” he starts.
“No, but you won’t hesitate to tell me.”
Louis fights the smile that briefly distorts his face. “You’re impatient,” he continues, “because you want your food right away.”
“God, I love when you psychoanalyse me,” Harry replies dryly.
“How was your date?” Harry asks, a small smirk on his face.
Louis rolls his eyes immediately.
That’s not a good sign.
“Have you ever dated a man with mummy issues?” he says, leaning an elbow on the table and putting his chin in the palm of his hands, fingers curled in. At Harry’s shake of the head, he snorts unhappily. “Well, don’t. All he did the entire dinner was openly discuss family issues — which I don’t mind; we all have at least a couple issues concerning blood relatives. But this was, like, excessive. He had no filter. If he wanted to be open about it, he should’ve saved it until we were a sure thing. All I could think about was how I finally understood how that guy you once dated felt when you yapped on about your past toe fungus.”
“Whoa,” Harry said defensively, eyebrows furrowing, “hey. I had been nervous, all right?”
“That doesn’t mean you should bring up your toe fungus.”
In Harry’s defence, he and the guy had absolutely no chemistry. The conversation was dry, his face was plain, bland, a heart sore — and the only topic they’d talked about was work. It’d been so boring, Harry lost his mind.
He had just wanted a reaction.
“I wouldn’t have called you back, either,” Louis adds.
“Rats,” Harry says, emotionless.
Louis leans back, arms off the table now as he glances out the window.
“Even if you are attractive.”
Harry’s eyebrows rise.
“Are you finally admitting your undeniably wild attraction to me?” he asks.
His interest has piqued significantly.
Louis snorts, looking at him. “No,” he answers, his tone solidifying it. “But since you’re so full of yourself, of course you would think I am.”
“Oof,” Harry says, making a pained face, “you sure know how to break a tough man’s heart, honey.”
Louis gives him a look, eyes glittering, amused. “You are the complete opposite of tough,” he tells Harry.
“I can carry six bags of groceries in one trip. You can’t do that.”
“Doesn’t count,” Louis says, raising his brows defiantly.
Harry opens his mouth to argue about it because he is fucking right, and he won’t let Louis say otherwise, even if he has to emptily threaten to take him over his knee to get it out of him, though he foresees Louis fighting with him on that far more aggressively, struggling with him and getting his ears sworn out, but the waitress returns, and, instead, lets Louis order first. His eyes linger on the way Louis’s mouth shapes words, dropping to his neck then casually meeting his eyes when he turns his head to look at Harry.
“I’m going on a date, again, soon,” Louis announces after the waitress disappears to put in their order.
Harry cocks his right brow.
“Oh? So soon?”
“It’s a different guy,” he explains, crossing his arms and scratching his barely visible facial hair, not meeting Harry’s gaze anymore. “I don’t know. His name is Alex. I’ve known him a while, and, honestly, I think he’s fancied me this entire time because he’s entirely too sweet to me. He’s very . . . eager—but not in an obvious way.”
Harry’s stomach churns with distaste.
“I could treat you better,” he thinks aloud.
Smiling, Louis looks up at him from under his long lashes. “You say that every time,” he points out, “even though you don’t know the guy.”
“Because it’s true. I don’t need to know him to know he isn’t treating you like he should.”
“Okay,” Louis begins, leaning forward to place his crossed arms on the table, “humour me. In this hypothetical universe of yours, how do you treat me better than any other guy could? What is the supposed correct way to love me?”
“Don’t make it sound like such a travesty,” he chides calmly.
“Answer the question.”
Harry’s eyes fall to the table for a brief moment. He fixes his posture as he brings his hands up to loosen his absurdly glittery, black tie and undo a few buttons of his white dress shirt.
“In this universe of ours,” he corrects pointedly, “I’m still your best friend, first and foremost. I give you everything you want. And need.
“I cook for you; I clean for you; I surprise you with weekly gifts; I give you roses and replace them every time they’re starting to die; I give you all the kisses your little heart desires: when we wake up, when I walk by, when you’re sad, happy, when there’s any moment I can, when we go to sleep. I’ll open every single door for you. When it’s raining, I’ll hold the umbrella for you, and take my coat off to place it over puddles, so, that you won’t get wet.
“I’ll be your coffee table to put drinks on. I’ll be your seatbelt to keep you safe; the very bathtub that keeps you clean. I’ll even be your fucking duster to keep away the dust bunnies that make you sneeze in the summertime.”
Louis was silent, but, now, he’s laughing. “You cook and clean and open every door for me now,” he points out.
“That’s because I hate messes, and you’re lazy,” Harry reasons.
“Don’t be fucking rude.”
“I only state facts,” he counters.
Their food arrives soon thereafter, and Harry ends up choking on his burger by accident midway through their meal when laughing. Louis laughs at his misery before pushing his water towards him.
Harry takes the bill when it comes.
“Oh, you’re paying?” Louis says, then smiles. “Thanks, big daddy. You look really good today, by the way. I like your tie.”
Harry rolls his eyes.
He’s told Louis off for referring to him as that for so long that at this point in time it’s futile. His dislike for it makes Louis do it all the more.
“Flattery won’t get you anything,” he replies plainly.
“But I mean it.”
He’s wearing a black blazer and matching suit trousers, his white dress shirt tucked in. It’s his attire for every day work; the only way he doesn’t mind it is by sewing his own colourful ties that are full of unique shapes, doused in glitter. Louis refers to them as his speckle ties, and it makes him smile. This one, in particular, is plain black and overtly glittery.
It’s more on the calm, casual side.
“You saw it before I left this morning,” Harry tells him.
“Just take the fucking compliment,” Louis says with an exasperated sigh.
“Thanks, baby,” he says, then blows a kiss. He stands, redoing the buttons of his shirt and tie, and walks to Louis’s side of the booth to kiss his temple. “I actually have to leave because I have to be somewhere else before I return to work, so, I can’t stick around. But I’ll see you at home. Guac tacos are for dinner tonight.”
“Have fun,” Louis says, pouting slightly.
Harry runs a thumb softly against his cheek, fingers gently brushing his jaw, then walks off.
The doorbell that Friday night rings.
Harry’s sitting on his and Louis’s settee, right leg dangling over his other, as he watches telly, and his gaze travels over to stare at the door. He has no intentions to get it until Louis’s yelling at him from his room to answer it, then he reluctantly makes the trek over to swing the door open. Standing there is a man with long, slicked back dark brown hair, ends curling at the back of his neck; very light stubble is grown along his upper lip and small chin. He’s got a soft-looking, narrow face, not a flaw in sight.
He’s much more good looking than Harry anticipated.
Harry says nothing.
Alex looks a little uncomfortable with the prolonged silence. “Hi,” he greets, quiet, “I’m here for Louis.”
Harry intentionally sizes him up longer. “Harry,” he speaks, voice flat.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Alex says, nodding once. “Louis’s told me a little bit about you.”
Alex nods, again.
The silence doesn’t appear to make Alex uncomfortable this time.
“How do you feel about Boy George?” Harry asks, suddenly.
Alex blinks, face thoughtful.
“Not my favourite,” he answers.
“Huh,” Harry says slower this time.
Alex’s gaze drops to the floor, and Harry follows. A grown orange and white furball is looking up at Alex, sniffing him, appraising him; circling him. Harry bends down to pick up the cat and hold her in his arms, scratching behind her ears to relax her.
“This is Elvis Catsley,” he introduces. “She’s an American Curl.”
Alex’s eyebrows rise.
“Do you like cats?”
“I do,” Alex says, staring at Elvis, “but I’m allergic. I mean, it’s nothing serious; it’s just if they get too close, I sneeze a lot.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Harry says.
“Hi,” says Louis, all of a sudden standing right next to Harry with a smile on his face, “hello. Sorry. I was finding my other sock. I didn’t mean to make you wait.”
The change in Alex is immediate.
He smiles at Louis, and his eyes develop a glittering shine. “That’s all right,” he tells Louis, “I don’t mind.”
Louis’s wearing a pair of black skinny jeans that Harry’s never seen him wear before. He’s in a basic, bright red long sleeve turtleneck crop top that’s never been worn before, either; it exposes only a few inches of his stomach, nothing scandalous, and makes him look casually comfortable and covered for the late September weather. Harry thinks there’s a subtle application of highlighter on his cheekbones, and a very light layer of lip gloss on his lips — or, perhaps, it’s merely tinted lip balm. He’s not sure.
Harry stares long and hard.
Louis bends forward at an angle to get close to Elvis’s face to pucker his mouth in a kiss, but doesn’t touch her face.
“Don’t wait up,” he tells Harry.
He steps forward to take Alex’s proffered hand, and all through this he doesn’t so much as glance in Harry’s direction. Harry’s still scratching Elvis’s head, her purring like a soft motor, as he watches Louis and Alex walk down the hall, eyes stuck on Alex’s hand placed low against Louis’s back.
Harry does wait.
He hasn’t moved from their settee, aside from going into the kitchen to make a sandwich and eating it in the living room with the bag of crisps Louis had left out however long ago. Elvis has stayed right by his side, watching television with him as she lies in his lap. As much as he doesn’t care about Love Island, he spends the time awaiting Louis’s arrival watching it.
The door opens at almost midnight, and Louis walks in.
He’s toeing off his shoes when he looks up and sees Harry. “I thought you’d be in bed by now,” he says as he walks over.
“No,” Harry responds.
Louis lifts Elvis from Harry’s lap, placing her on the cushion next to him, and climbs into Harry’s lap. He rests on his side and curls his legs up, wrapping his arms around his neck as he settles comfortably. Harry rests his an arm over his thighs, gripping the back of one, and curls the other one around Louis’s back to hold onto his bare waist.
He smells more like someone else than himself.
“Since when do you watch Love Island?” Louis asks, craning his neck to look. “And why would you watch it without me?”
Love Island’s biggest fan in his arms.
“You were on a date,” Harry says. He clears his throat. “How was it?”
“Great,” Louis answers with genuinely soft enthusiasm.
“Yeah. We ate dinner at this really nice place, then went to see a play, which was better than what I feared, and, after that, we walked London and did whatever—talked.”
Harry blinks at the telly.
“Where’d you eat?” he asks.
“Savoir Faire on New Oxford Street,” Louis answers.
Harry nods. “Nice. It’s looked good, whenever I’ve passed it.”
“Mhm,” he hums. “Good prices, too.”
Drama starts up in the villa, and he and Louis both watch in silence. He only half-heartedly listens; his mind is on his grip of Louis’s thigh and waist, skin warm and soft. He digs his fingers into the covered meat of Louis’s thigh, gently, then begins tracing shapes.
“So”—he clears his throat, again, briefly dropping his gaze—“what’s with all the . . . I mean, the top, and the—are you, like, wearing makeup, of some kind? I’m not judging. I’ve just never seen you wear all this before.”
Louis pops his collar.
“Do you like?” he asks. “I thought I’d do something a little . . . different. A little outside my comfort zone.”
Harry swallows, looking down at his crop top.
“You look good in anything.”
“And it’s just highlighter and lip gloss,” he continues. “That’s all I genuinely like.”
Harry was right.
“Well. It’s—nice,” is what Harry manages.
A lull arises.
“We’re going out again,” Louis tells him, “but I don’t know when yet. After he kissed me goodbye, he told me we can just figure it out tomorrow when I see him at work. Or, like, just whenever, I guess. He was so sweet and funny, though; I’d love to go out with him again. I think this is actually the first guy I’ve had a date with that was so different and became quite taken with. What do you think of him?”
Harry blinks, trying to comprehend all this new information. “Uh—kissing? What?”
“What?” Louis parrots. “Yeah, on the cheek.”
Not having noticed his body was tense, he relaxes when his shoulders move. Though a kiss on the cheek has romantic pursuing undertones, innocence has the upperhand.
“He doesn’t like Boy George, and he’s allergic to cats,” Harry says, “so, I don’t think he’ll fit in well with us.”
“Us? Is this a polyamorous relationship now?”
“Yeah,” Harry replies, nodding.
“Sorry to break your heart, big daddy,” Louis begins, patting Harry’s chest, “but this is a monogamous relationship. There’s no three of us.”
“Alex’s gonna be heartbroken when you tell him that.”
“No,” Louis says with another laugh, sitting up in Harry’s lap with his legs falling in between Harry’s, “you are the heartbroken one. You don’t need to be jealous, you know? You’re still my number one guy; I’m not gonna forget about you if this goes somewhere.”
Harry furrows his eyebrows.
“I’m not jealous,” he protests honestly.
Louis looks at him.
“I’m serious. We have a cat together. What speaks more of stability than that?”
“Okay,” Louis says. He doesn’t even bother to hide the disbelief that leaks into his tone. Climbing off of Harry’s lap, he stands to his feet and walks off in the direction of his room. “I’m going to take a bath then sleep. Also, stop waiting up for me every time I go out on a date.”
Elvis hops into his empty lap, and Harry takes her in his arms to bury his face in her coat.
The next date happens less than a week later.
Harry watches Louis dress in high waisted jeans and a short sleeve cream blouse tucked into his jeans, matching white Converse on his feet, and the only sort of makeup Louis wears is highlighter, forgoing lip gloss altogether. When Harry asks about not wearing the cream sweater he has instead because the weather is the coldest it’s been thus far, Louis just gives him a mischievous smile, telling him he plans to obtain Alex’s coat to keep him warm, just like their last date.
Harry rubs the inner corner of his eye while mumbling unintelligible words.
He waits up for Louis, despite Louis’s demand. He only does it because he likes going to sleep with the knowledge that Louis has returned safe and sound from being out so late and that nothing villainous has happened, and he thinks Louis knows that, too, and that he doesn’t mind it, because it was the only time he’s ever told Harry to not do it.
Louis returns just as late.
He climbs into Harry’s lap, just as before, and proceeds to tell him everything. Even the fact that, after giving Louis his long black coat under the awning of the Bleeding Heart restaurant, Alex gave him a soft kiss on the lips.
Harry’s head burns.
“He’s really tryin’ to impress you, huh?” he says.
Louis actually looks thoughtful.
“I don’t think he’s trying,” Louis denies. “I’ve known him for so long; I think he’s just naturally romantic. He doesn’t have to try.”
Harry’s head burns.
Harry’s head is still burning a month later.
Louis and Alex have been going on dates consistently each week. They go on at least three — one in the middle of the week, and the others around the weekend — and they keep it fairly local, only driving into London on the occasion.
Harry is in his room sat at his desk, working on a powerpoint presentation he has to give Monday morning, and all he’s heard is Louis’s laughter coming from the kitchen. Each time he hears it, his fingers pause, then he picks it back up. He’s caught himself smiling, once, and had to very much shake it off because he should be further along than he is. Louis came in earlier to give Harry a kebab he’d gotten him from one of the kebab shops he’d just returned from with Alex, and it’s the only time he’s physically disturbed him.
His laughter is a disturbance, too, but it’s divided into three sections.
Louis giggles, this time, and Harry places his elbows on his desk, fingers interlocked with his mouth pressed against them, as he stares blankly at the laptop screen.
It’s now entered the red section.
He gets up, deciding he needs tea, and makes his way to the kitchen.
Harry’s gaze is wholly diverted, attentive to the walls that built their flat, and he’s adamant on keeping it this way. But the scene that creeps up onto him of Louis having been pulled into Alex’s arms from his chair at the table and laughing quietly as Alex kisses all over his neck and clavicle area in his own seat has Harry’s eyes burned in this position, the familiar burning in his head now moving into his elbows and spine.
Louis notices him belatedly, laughter fading into a sheepish smile as he gently grips Alex’s shoulders to halt his mouth.
“Hi,” he says.
Alex pulls back, eyes on Louis before then settling on Harry, who’s found his way to the cabinets at the other side of the kitchen, searching for his mug.
“Just came ‘round for a cuppa,” Harry explains, not looking back.
“There’s, um, already tea made,” Louis informs him.
It feels hot, when Harry takes off the tea cosy and touches it.
He goes about his business as quick as he can in the stilted silence. He uses his mug as an excuse to not look at either of them, blowing at it softly as he makes his way back around to his room.
Louis comes around later.
Harry’s finishing his powerpoint and hears his bedroom door open, but he doesn’t turn around. Louis’s hands touch his shoulder, then invade their way to his arm as he ducks under it to get into Harry’s lap without a word. Harry lets him maneuver his way, briefly looking down, before returning his attention to his slide. But Louis temporarily blocks his view when he sits his bum in his lap and leans his back against Harry’s other arm, legs now dangling.
“Hi,” Louis says, an echo of earlier.
“I’m busy,” Harry tells him, taking a hand away from his keyboard to gently rub Louis’s thigh once.
Louis leans his head against his shoulder.
“I know,” he says.
“What do you need?”
“Nothing,” Louis answers.
Harry says all right and keeps his focus on his project. Louis’s a warm, comforting and silent weight through the finishing and editing and double checking, and he says not a thing, watching Harry.
Harry looks down at him. “Did he leave?” he asks, suddenly.
“Yeah,” Louis says.
His eyes catch a light red mark on the area that meets Louis’s neck and shoulder, and he finds more along his neck and clavicle. They’re scattered, and small, light, and he stares at them for a few long, silent moments.
“There are love bites all over you,” he states.
Louis sits upright.
“Are there?” he asks, hand flying up to touch.
Harry swallows, nodding.
“Guess he got carried away.”
Harry lifts his hand to trace the bite he saw first, curling his fingers around Louis’s shoulder and pressing his thumb into the clear skin before it to rub across it experimentally, then takes his hand away.
“Do you like them?” he finds himself asking.
“If I didn’t, I would’ve knocked him on his arse,” Louis says without hesitation.
Harry’s mouth twitches.
He absolutely would, Harry believes him.
Louis shifts. “Um—that’s actually what I came in here for. I just wanted to say sorry that you had to see that.”
“It’s fine,” he lies.
Sighing loudly, Louis leans his head back against Harry’s shoulder, bringing a hand to Harry’s chest to rub it soothingly. They stick together for a while in silence, Harry checking his project a last time obsessively before closing it out. His background is Catsley, but Louis’s holding her, and when Louis had first seen, he very bluntly stated it was gay of Harry, and Harry dryly responded with forgive me for being a homosexual.
Louis told him no.
“Are the both of you serious?” he asks, breaking the silence.
Harry doesn’t get an answer right away.
“We’re taking it day by day,” Louis eventually replies, “but it’s pretty exclusive, I think.”
The red from Harry’s elbows returns. “Does this mean I can’t call you all the pet names I have for you anymore?”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Louis says. An eyeroll somehow translates into his tone. He sits up, then pats Harry’s side as he scoots to the other side of his lap. “I meant exclusive as in only dating each other. Even if we were together, you could still call me whatever you want; he’d just have to be okay with that.”
Harry nods. “O—”
He winces at Louis crushing his penis as he gets off his lap.
“Now,” he says to Harry, patting his bicep, “I’m gonna make us new tea. What do you want for dinner, big daddy?”
An off feeling in his pants has him suddenly shifting in his seat, and he clears his throat. It stays warm, has him pausing significantly to put together his thoughts. “Um—genuinely don’t care. KFC sounds good?”
Louis smiles, and kisses his cheek after agreeing.
As soon as the door closes, Harry sharply exhales. He shifts around, again, but the slight feeling won’t go away; it’s such a small bodily reaction that has a weirdly noticeable power, and he places his palm against himself and understands the slight hardness he feels. Christ. His body’s probably reacting to Louis accidentally pushing down on him when he was climbing off his lap. It’s annoying, but it’ll disappear.
Louis proposes an idea — a plan — that Harry should get to know Alex.
Harry thinks this is a horrible idea.
However, he can’t get out of it. He doesn’t even try to, because he wouldn’t do that to Louis, and he wouldn’t know where to begin. He just agrees. So, on a free Saturday Louis has him set the table and place takeaway in different bowls with specific serving utensils in each one.
“You know this isn’t fooling anyone, right?” Harry says as he places Japanese sushi on a white rectangular plate.
Louis tilts his head.
“You know I don’t care, right?”
“I’m just saying,” he explains.
“Alex isn’t, like,” Louis tries, “he’s not fancy, or someone that’s hard to impress. He’s simple, and easygoing. But I want everything really nice for this dinner, anyway, because it’s important this works out.”
“Because you’re my best friend,” he says, “and Alex likes you.”
Harry’s brows rise. “He likes me?”
“He doesn’t even know me,” Harry counters.
Louis gives him a pointed look. “Which is exactly why we’re doing this. Two plus two equals four.”
Harry rolls his eyes very hard.
They’re sat around the table in silence.
Harry sits on one side, and Alex and Louis on the other side. Harry lifts a glass of water to his mouth, staring at them from above the rim. He’s got nothing to offer, and Louis keeps glancing at him, commanding him with his eyes to say something, but Harry doesn’t. He even gives a blasé shrug in response, face emotionless.
At one, last look, Harry gives in.
“I sew ties,” he announces matter of factly.
Alex looks at him. “Professionally?”
“No,” Harry says, shaking his head. “There’s a strict dress code where I work. I’m forced to wear plain blazers and suit trousers every day. But I found a loophole. They’ll probably find a way to confiscate them, but, for now, I’m safe. I have extravagant ties.”
“Remember the time they sent you home for wearing those bell bottoms?” Louis mentions.
“Good times,” he says with dry cheerfulness, lifting his glass in mock salute, smiling.
“How snazzy were they?” Alex asks.
“Very snazzy,” Harry says. “They were afraid of my homosexual power.”
Dinner isn’t too bad, but half the time Harry doesn’t understand what Alex is saying. Louis understands perfectly because he’s a Yorkshire man, so, while he’s laughing, Harry just forces a laugh out of himself to go along with it, completely clueless. As northern as Harry is, Yorkshire people are another species, and it’s bad enough he still can’t understand the one he’s already friends with.
Now, there’s two of them he can’t understand.
Harry’s standing at the sink rinsing off plates to place them in the dishwasher when Louis comes back from saying goodbye to Alex. He stands next to Harry, eyes on him, arms crossed, and silent.
“So?” he prompts.
“So?” Harry echoes.
Louis turns his body to face him, face questioning.
“What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking . . . ,” Harry drawls, “I didn’t mention my toe fungus history. I might get a call back.”
Louis tries to look annoyed, but it’s fruitless, his smile overpowering him. “C’mon,” he says, “be serious for once in your life. I know that’s hard for you.”
Alex is fine, Harry reluctantly admits. He’s got a sense of humour similar to Harry’s, and based on the clothes he wears every time he sees him, he’s, also, got a sense of fashion that Harry would wear himself. Alex is a quiet man, a contradiction to Louis, who tends to get very loud, especially when bantering, yet he observed them both somehow expressing an odd understanding between each other that balances.
The red grows in his elbows and bottom of his spine; it grows to be as tall as a tree.
“He’s all right,” Harry settles with. “He seems good for you.”
He has to not bite his tongue.
Louis lights up.
“Really?” he questions. “I’m happy to hear that. You’re a tough critic.”
“Because you can treat me better, blah, blah blah,” Louis intones and mocks. “Whatever you say, big daddy.” He pats Harry’s side before walking away.
He hardly minds the patting because his attention immediately zeroes in on the uncomfortable warmth developing fairly quick in his pants. It’s the same, small, powerful reaction that made him wait in his chair for an unfair amount of time to dissipate the other day. Now, it has him staring wide-eyed at the running water, at his hands hanging off into the sink.
He’s never liked being called that before.
It’d started as a joke for Louis, and he hated it; but then somewhere along the line it dissolved into an entirely different meaning, and Harry grew okay with it.
But it’s never made his body react like this.
Closing his eyes, he breathes in and out through his nose, through his diaphragm, until he feels comfortable and cool, again, then he blinks them open. He finishes rinsing off plates and silverware and piling it all into the dishwasher, all the while pointedly directing his innermost thoughts to topics straying on the opposite spectrum.
He’s not fine.
The thought keeps striking him day to day, and it won’t leave him alone. It pops up whenever Louis comes near him, when he tries to sit next to Harry and cuddle him or dump himself into his lap. Harry’s had to cross his legs so many times to wordlessly reject and protect that he’s beginning to think Louis knows something is up, because Harry never rejects him.
Every time Louis refers to him as big daddy, the hardness in his crotch significantly increases, and he has no clue why his body’s doing this to himself now.
Just the other day, for an example, Louis was being casual and talking about something to Harry, then called him The Name to grab his attention, because Harry had zoned out, and then Harry kept stuttering for a long moment, trying to form sentences in his head, before he gave up and asked Louis to repeat himself.
Louis had squinted at him, unamused.
Now, he’s in the kitchen, sealing leftovers and putting them in the fridge when Louis walks in, wearing Harry’s sweater.
It comes down to the top of his thighs and covers his briefs.
He looks away as Louis walks over to stand beside him at the counter, and they co-exist in silence. It’s a typically routine thing for Louis to change into something of Harry’s after dinner and wear absolutely no trousers, but it’s bad timing.
“Harry,” Louis says.
Harry casts a brief glance to him.
“What?” he prompts kindly.
“Are you all right? I haven’t done something, have I?”
He feels Louis’s gaze boring into his side. “No, baby,” he answers, scribbling a date onto a note and sticking it to a container.
“You’ve been acting weird for two weeks, now,” Louis accuses.
“Huh,” Harry draws out, putting the food in the refrigerator and then scribbling a date on the note of the last one. “Strange. I’m fine, but thank you for asking. How are you?”
Louis presses his fingers into Harry’s hip.
“Bad,” he answers decidedly, “because I’m being lied to.”
Harry turns to look at him for the first time. Louis’s staring at him wholly unimpressed, and he doesn’t know what to say. What is he to admit: there’s truth to his jokes, there’s honesty to his casual devotion? That, suddenly, all because—after all this time—Louis’s potential to finally be serious with someone, with Alex, has dark parts of himself flaring up, drowning and bloating with water to expand its size and leave him on unbalanced feet?
“Well”—Harry clears his throat, quietly—“everything about this world is an illusion.”
Instead of hardening, Louis softens.
“That makes no fucking sense,” he tells Harry, blunt. It’s not unkind or harsh. “And, more importantly, has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. You always do this, you know, you say some weird shit because you can’t be direct.”
Harry doesn’t finish his sentence because of the look Louis is giving him. He presses his lips together and scratches his ear.
“Okay, all right,” he relents, “I’m, uh, having issues at work, because I fucking hate everyone there and they’ve all been stressing me out more than the norm. And I think Liam and I are on the outs right now, so, our tumultuous friendship is hanging on by a thread. Again.”
The skin around Louis’s eyes softens, harbouring an understanding as he takes a few steps forward to wrap himself around Harry.
“Honey,” murmurs Louis, face in Harry’s chest, “you could’ve just said, and I would’ve left you alone.”
What Harry’s confessed is true, but they aren’t the right reasons.
He wraps an arm around the back of Louis’s shoulders. “It’s fine,” he assures, “perhaps, I should start looking elsewhere. I’ve been entertaining the idea for ages.”
“Yeah,” he agrees, pulling back with a bright smile, “go for it, big daddy.”
It’s the very wrong thing to say, because he tenses and Louis’s lower half is still pressed against his, and he knows Louis feels it the same moment Harry himself feels his cock grow tight in his trackies.
He’s not daring to look at Louis’s face.
Louis’s silence is enough.
Harry draws his arm back, taking a step back as he clears his throat and turns his head. “Thanks—”
“Is this why you’ve been weird?” Louis interrupts.
He scratches his jaw. “Um—”
He feels so fucking caught. “Christ, yeah,” he answers with a sigh, chancing a glance. Louis’s not expressing any specific discomfort or disgust; it’s fairly neutral and expectant. “I’m sorry. It’s just—it’s only been happening recently, though; it hasn’t happened before. It’s why I’ve been”— keeping my distance, less affectionate, having Elvis attached to my lap at all times as a convenience, he expresses with ridiculous motions of his hands.
Louis stares at him.
Having known each other for a few years, he should understand at least some of Harry’s non-verbal explanations.
“Do you get off?” Louis boldly asks.
He internally splutters. “Jesus, no,” Harry replies instinctively. But he feels himself outwardly hesitate right after, and he knows he has to confess. “Once—once. Once. I had to. I couldn’t stop thinking about you—it, and . . .”
“It’s okay,” Louis then tells him. His voice has gone oddly soft; breathy. It’s making it difficult for Harry to calm his issue. He reaches out to grab Harry’s hand, and he presses himself back against Harry, and lifts himself onto his toes to place his lips to Harry’s ear. He grips Louis’s waist, a ghostly finger trailing his spine and around to his stomach as chills set in. His voice is a whisper. “I fantasise about you, too, you know.”
It’s a direct shot to his pelvis, weakening him right in his best spot.
He watches as Louis then drops right to his knees.
Louis’s staring up at him, head tilted slightly back, and his blue eyes are glassy, locked with Harry’s in an unblinking and gentle gaze. He looks ready to do whatever Harry says, to please him whatever way.
Harry swallows, cock twitching.
“Christ,” he repeats aloud.
“Is it because you’re jealous?” Louis questions, eyes sparkling. “Does it reassure you, whenever I call you daddy? Make you feel like you have a claim over me Alex doesn’t? I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t gotten off a couple times, thinking of that; thinking of you having a mark over me he can’t reach, thinking of your jealousy over us.” He blinks up at Harry. “Have you wanted to do it more than once?”
The part of Harry that’s thinking with his dick feels like this is Louis talking dirty to him, but he doesn’t think so.
As if minds could be read, Louis speaks up.
“These are genuine questions.”
“Yes,” Harry answers, but it’s so vague.
Louis licks his lips.
“To all of it,” he clarifies, a moment late. “I’ve had to stop myself from starting things I wouldn’t finish.”
One specific night he has in mind: Elvis was lying on his shoulders like some sort of neck pillow as he and Louis were in the living room; he remembers Louis cleaning up a mess she had made when trying to get to his shoulders. He was bent over in very short, silk pyjama shorts, and Harry couldn’t stop staring. His fingers were itching; and it got worse when he plopped down in his lap, shorts riding high.
Louis’s hands find their way to Harry’s thighs, gently touching him.
“Tell me,” he says, too soft and patient to be demanding. Nothing’s changed about his gaze, but it doesn’t look like he’ll let it go.
Harry’s uncertain how to word it.
“I—just—I wanted to keep you bent over the coffee table and take you that way.”
Louis’s eyes shine.
On multiple occasions, he’s wanted to take his cologne and spray Louis with it, so, that he didn’t smell so much like Alex. He never pegged himself as the jealous type before all of this, either. Perhaps, he was either in denial, or he needed something like this to bring it out of him.
“I would’ve let you,” Louis confesses in a whisper, eyes then dropping to Harry’s crotch.
Harry’s cock twitches.
His mind is telling him how Louis’s fingers would feel around him, his mouth against him making him sensitive and ready to let go; give him something to swallow. “Do you remember a couple weeks ago, when he came over and watched a movie with you?” Harry blurts before he can think.
Louis nods, looking up.
“I really wanted to give you love bites all over your neck and touch you until you’d almost come, then deny you, so, that you’d return to him looking like a completely spaced out mess,” Harry admits.
Louis’s blink is slow.
He shifts, a little bit, making Harry take notice of the tented issue he has going in his pants.
“That would’ve been fine, too,” Louis says.
Harry gets a thought.
“Anything,” he begins, looking over Louis’s face, “I could do to you would be okay with you. Wouldn’t it, sweetheart?”
“For the most part,” Louis agrees, then tugs his bottom lip into his mouth, “daddy.”
A heat wave courses through his veins, traveling south by aeroplane. It settles at the head of himself, and he feels his heartbeat as clear as the sun. The images of things he’s told and left unrevealed come together as one in his head, egging on his urge to take his cock out of his trackies and touch himself until he’s coming all over Louis’s face, all while Louis sits there, watching him, silently eager to take what Harry’ll give to him, and not touching himself because Harry’s told him not to.
Harry lowers himself, squatting to be eye to eye, and he cradles Louis’s face with both of his hands. “Baby—”
“May I, um,” Louis interrupts, blinking and gaze briefly dropping down and swallowing, “I really want to blow you. Can I?”
His heart still throbs.
“Yeah,” he says, “want me to sit, or stand?”
Louis looks at him through his lashes.
Harry releases his hands from his face and pushes against his knees to stand again.
Louis returns his hands to Harry’s thighs and walks his fingers up to his waistband, and pulls both his trackies and boxers down to mid thigh. Harry’s cock hangs free and half hard, and Louis’s lips part as he stares at it like he’s never seen one before, like it somehow amazes him.
The second Louis wraps his hand around his cock, Harry jerks. It’s such a cooling touch to his harsh sensitivity that he can’t help it. Louis briefly looks up at him, checking, then he leans forward, placing his mouth just inches before his tip. Experimentally, he gives a short lick to it before tracing it along his own lips, and Harry’s staring at him, entrapped in anticipation, breathing in deep at the touches that make him feel better.
He goes the opposite of slow, taking as much of Harry’s cock as he can, which is most of it.
But he does it so expertly, so smoothly and untroubled, that it both greatly impresses and turns Harry on more; and with what he can’t cover, he grips with his hand but keeps it still.
He continues slow.
He pulls back, mouth tight and warm, to suck and tongue at Harry’s head, making Harry groan low in his throat and bite his lip, then takes him all the way again. He repeats it a few times before switching it up and bobbing his head with an increasing pace. Every time he pulls back, his hand moves with him, and it takes all of Harry’s self control to not fuck into his mouth like he wants to so badly.
“Baby,” Harry says. His own voice sounds octaves lower and nothing like himself.
Louis’s eyes flutter, long lashes brushing his under eyes, eyes meeting Harry’s without stopping. Harry’s heart beats faster in his chest and slit.
“Christ, you’re really good.”
Harry wants to say other things, but he’s so distracted by how good Louis’s mouth is, he can’t think coherently.
Louis takes his free hand to capture one of Harry’s and moves Harry’s hand until it’s placed on the crown of his head. He demonstrates pulling his hair for Harry to understand, and Harry swallows, nodding. He follows Louis’s instructions, grabbing a handful of soft hair, and tilting Louis’s head farther back, to which Louis stares back at him with wide eyes, unmoving, waiting, and fucks into his mouth once.
It’s just once, but it has Louis whining and Harry moaning.
He keeps fucking into Louis’s mouth until Louis suddenly grabs Harry’s hand from his head and removes it, and pulling off when Harry stops thrusting.
Harry looks at him, curious, but he just gets to his feet, a little wobbly, and reaches for Harry’s face, smashing their mouths together in a kiss fueled by emotional fire. It’s a little bruising at first, numbing Harry’s mouth, but he kisses back while holding onto Louis’s waist, proudly accepting the soft, wet lips against his; he then twists it to slow them down, to steady the flame and sweeten it.
Louis pulls back, looking at Harry with crystallised eyes.
“Can you—um—” Louis’s voice is raspy, and he looks a little frazzled and unsure as he tries to vocalise his thoughts.
“What?” Harry prompts kindly.
He gently thumbs Louis’s bottom lip, and brushes his short hair back. It’s silent as they stare at each other, then Louis leans forward to place his mouth against Harry’s ear to whisper.
“I want you to put it in me.”
Harry turns his head to look at him. “Are you sure?”
“Would you prefer me to ask Alex?”
Harry shakes his head with repetitive nos as he pulls up his trackies. Louis’s smirking when Harry takes his hand, giggling lightly, and he neatly folds the blanket on Harry’s bed when they enter his room to only set it aside. He lies down on the bed, but lifts himself up on his elbows automatically when Harry comes over with essentials.
Kneeling on the bed, Harry crawls until he’s hovering almost over Louis entirely.
Louis pushes himself up a little more. He’s staring at Harry while Harry unwraps the rubber, and it’s making Harry too self-aware.
“He never fucked me,” Louis comments casually.
He pauses, looks at Louis.
“Can we, please, not talk about him as we’re about to—?”
That makes Louis smile, but it’s nothing sweet. He scoots back to sit up properly, getting right in Harry’s face. “Why?” he taunts silkily, bringing his hand up to ever so slightly caress Harry’s cheek. “You don’t like thinking about how he could have me in this very same position, only I’m at his? Flipping me over and pounding into me until I’m crying out for him and for God? Are you afraid he could have me coming harder than you could?”
Red flares up in Harry’s chest this time, and he’s not ashamed of it — of his nostrils flaring and eyebrows narrowing. Louis knows very well he doesn’t, but he’s trying to rile him up.
“I’d rather you watch him fuck me and tell him how to do it, instead.”
Harry surges forward to capture Louis’s mouth in a rough kiss.
Louis is caught a little off guard by it, but his hum against Harry’s mouth is pleasant and soft, and he wraps his arms around Harry’s neck, giving as good as he gets.
Harry pushes until he has him lying down, with one of his feet digging into Harry’s lower back. He breaks off from the kiss, trailing his lips down to Louis’s jaw, then reaching his throat. He takes skin into his mouth, sucking with a slow rhythm. Louis sighs softly from above, back arching a little. He leaves bigger, harsh marks in some of the places where he remembers Alex’s marks being, one being the specific one he’d seen first in the junction between Louis’s neck and shoulder.
Louis mewls, arching farther, almost touching Harry’s front. He becomes so soft and pliable it makes Harry think of him reacting this way to when Alex did it.
Harry sucks harder.
A remarkably dark red bite is deep within the skin when Harry pulls back to view it. He feels a flush of something prideful swell in his chest and throat.
“Yes, good job,” Louis cuts in condescendingly, an unmistakable breathiness to his voice, “now, quit smirking, and fuck me.”
Harry didn’t realise he’d been smirking.
Initially, he begins to move down, but then a thought floats to the forefront of his mind, and he stops and returns to hovering completely over Louis. He wraps a hand around the base of Louis’s throat, his grip loose and gentle, and watches his lips part and his eyes change. It’s as if they perk in colour.
“Baby,” he says, tone sweet, “why are you telling me what to do? Are you in charge?”
Louis looks at him. “No,” he answers.
“No . . . ?”
He looks confused, for a second. Then his eyes brighten. “No, daddy,” he repeats, softer, “I’m not in charge.”
“No, you’re not,” he agrees. He leans down to give Louis a kiss, a short blast of adoration soaking through. “So, don’t be selfish, baby.”
He sneaks his hands up under the yellow sweater that’s a couple sizes too big for Louis, and finds the lining of his pants and tugs it down, until the only coverage Louis has is Harry’s sweater. Harry trails his fingers down the expanse of his bare thighs, savouring every inch of warm, soft skin his nerves press against. They’re as smooth as a baby, and he wants to repetitively run his hands over them until it sends him into sensory overload. Instead, he presses kisses along his inner thighs, smiling when Louis moves his bum deeper into the mattress or twitches whenever Harry kisses him there.
He gives an experimental, light bite, then licks the spot right before sucking the smooth skin into his mouth, his ears perking when Louis moans and his legs move to almost squeeze him in between his thighs.
Christ, this is everything Harry’s wanted for ages, but he has to pull back and sit on his knees before Louis accidentally suffocates him.
“You tryin’ to kill me, baby?” he teases.
Louis looks a little sheepish; shy.
“Sorry,” he murmurs. “S’just feels good.”
“I know; it’s okay,” he assures, leaning forward then down to give him multiple gentle kisses. “Just don’t want a fatal case of erotic asphyxiation so early in this relationship.”
Louis laughs, shaking his head at him.
Harry chuckles, too, then: “What do you want me to do, darling? Do you want me to go slow with you? Kiss and touch you all over and eat you out — fuck you just as slow? Or do you want me to finger you right away and fuck you so hard you come just as such?”
He caresses Louis’s cheek with his index finger as he patiently watches Louis think about it, eyes shining with something unsaid.
“Be as vulgar as you want,” he tells Harry.
Louis stares him in the eye, honesty painting him raw.
Harry kisses him.
Pulling away, he scoots backward, and pushes the sweater up, palms sliding up along his hips, to expose Louis’s hard, thick cock to the air. He looks a little red around the tip, irritated at being ignored and neglected for so long, so, he wraps a hand around the base and slowly strokes him a few times. Louis’s breathing hitches and he makes these low, quiet sounds in the back of his throat, shifting ever so slightly.
Harry’s hand drops.
He ignores any needy sound from him and returns to leaving love bites on Louis’s inner thighs. By the time he’s left at least another three, he’s had Louis kick him once by accident, to hold down his legs firmly, so, that he’d stop moving around so much, and contemplated stuffing his fingers into his mouth to keep him quiet.
He almost did, when he kept finding himself subconsciously grinding against the bed in reaction to Louis’s feeble cries.
“Turn onto your stomach,” Harry commands.
Louis obeys wordlessly, rolling onto his stomach with a smooth easiness.
His bare bum sticks up in the air some, and Harry’s gaze sticks to it like glue. He moves forward to place his hands on his cheeks, spreading him slightly; just enough to get a good look at his hole. He’s naturally a darker pigmentation around it, but as Harry’s experiment by pressing on the outside skin to stretch his tim, he’s a pretty, light pink inside.
He hears Louis make a soft noise, and, Christ, something about this sends a sharp pang to his cock, making him a little wet at his tip.
“You’re so pretty, baby,” Harry comments softly. “And you’re being so good for daddy. Do you mind if I reward you a little?”
Louis shakes his head. “No,” he answers quietly.
Harry leans forward to kiss Louis’s hole delicately, and Louis makes a high pitched, keen sound, the loudest he’s expressed this entire time, and Harry thinks he’s found a weakness. Pressing his fingers back against the outer skin of his hole, he stretches Louis again and licks a long strip up.
Louis moans a longer version.
Harry licks around and up and down, and he takes the edges into his mouth to suck on.
Louis whines terribly at this, like he’s crying out, and Harry uses his other hand to rub soothing motions against Louis’s thigh and tells him he’s being a good boy, then he returns to eating him out, but slides his tongue in as far as he can, licking inside with hard strokes and trying to be precise. It becomes a little difficult when his jaw starts to ache, but he sticks through it without breaking to ease it or to breathe, focused on pleasuring Louis.
A sniffle sounds, which makes him finally pull away, breathing heavily, and he ducks around. “Baby?” he says, careful. “Are you okay?”
Louis turns his head that’s been laid against his arms to look back at Harry, and his eyes are bright with slight redness and tears.
“M’fine,” he replies, voice cracking. “This is normal, don’t worry.”
“Okay,” Harry mumbles.
He presses small kisses to his bum and his tailbone in reassurance, then finds the lube near the rubber. He coats a couple fingers, and returns to prodding his tongue inside before carefully inserting his index finger alongside it. It makes Louis moan high in elated surprise, arching his bum farther in the air, and Harry keeps his fingering pace slow and steady.
Eventually, he takes his tongue away to add in his second finger, and sits up, with a hand pressed to Louis’s tailbone and working his fingers in.
“Louis,” he calls softly, “you still doing okay?”
“Mhm,” Louis hums, voice taken on a breathy quality. “You feel really nice, daddy.”
A smile spreads across Harry’s face.
“Do I, darling?”
“Yeah,” he says, sighing.
Harry increases his pace, occasionally rearranging the position of his fingers to get him as open as possible, all the while listening to Louis whimper and groan weakly into the sheets. He sounds so beautiful to Harry’s ears, and he looks even more beautiful that it takes self control not to rush through this part, so, that he can finally take care of him the way he’s imagined unknowingly for a long time for his own selfish, impulsive reasons.
But he’s always put Louis first, and this is in no way different; and it’s without a doubt the most important thing to him.
Louis’s needs and comfort come inarguably first, to Harry.
“How do you feel?” he asks after a while, gaze directed to what he can see of Louis’s profile. He feels like Louis’s pretty open to him, his walls coaxing too easy to Harry’s every touch.
“Good,” Louis murmurs, “ready. Please—just—”
He breaks off, but Harry understands him perfectly. “Okay, baby, don’t stress,” he says, taking his fingers away, “you’ve been doing so good; you’re an angel. What position do you want to be in, love?”
Louis drops onto his back, legs spread and dragging his knees up.
One look at his face and Harry swears under his breath. He looks absolutely out of it, soft, short hair mussy, lips such a rich pink colour like he’d been drinking something hot, blue eyes bright staring at everything with a glazed over look.
Christ, an unholy angel.
“Baby, look at me.”
Louis’s gaze flits to his in an instant, and he oozes such softness in one look Harry wants to kiss him so badly. “Daddy,” he responds.
“God, you’re breathtaking,” Harry breathes, “I want you to keep your eyes on me. Okay?”
Louis does as told.
Harry takes off his shirt, trackies and boxers carelessly joining at the end of the bed. His cock is heavy and hard and craving a release, so, he touches himself, jerking a few times to relieve the heavy, uncomfortable pressure, then he carefully puts on the rubber and lathers himself with lube. Then, pulling Louis closer and spreading his legs farther, he pushes in.
Louis gasps at just having the head, breath catching in his throat.
“You like that, baby?” Harry says.
Louis nods. His gaze is latched onto Harry’s dick, watching it disappear inside him as Harry continues to push. Louis’s so tight, so warm and inviting, and he wants to thrust all in the way in at once and gain friction, but he’s gentle and takes his time.
“Ah,” Louis exhales, a soft sound. He blinks several times and shifts his upper body slightly.
Harry leans forward to kiss his chin. “Okay?”
“Mhm,” he hums, then seems to laugh a bit, “you’re just a lot to take. But I like it.”
“Size queen much?”
“Whoa, that’s a bold assumption,” Louis says.
He’s not wrong. He’s inevitably learned a lot about Louis’s sex life, and vice versa, because they live together and they’re each other’s best friends; so, yes, he can, in fact, confirm Louis is a size queen. Even if Louis feigns innocence.
“I have texts to prove it.”
Louis rolls his eyes.
“Whatever, big daddy,” he mumbles.
Harry lands a light slap to all that’s exposed of Louis’s bum.
Louis inhales sharply, lips parting and eyes widening, darkening significantly. A whimper escapes his throat, and he pushes down on Harry’s cock, making Harry groan, and himself moan more.
“Jesus,” Harry swears on an exhale.
Slowly, he pulls back, and pushes all the way in, and Louis arches his back, tugging his bottom lip into his mouth. Harry watches his face closely as he thrusts in, testing it out. Then he eventually picks it up, feeling every hot drag for himself, but he avoids one spot and cups Louis’s arse cheeks in his hands to pull him apart, enjoying the needy sound that spills from his mouth at the stretch.
“Daddy,” Louis breathily moans, dragging his left leg up to dig the heel of his foot into Harry’s back.
“Hm?” he hums sweetly, moving faster.
“Harder,” Louis pleads.
Harry does so, keeping his hands on his bum and now kneading, and he receives a high mewl in response. He feels a dribble of his precome leak, and his gaze drops to watch himself move inside Louis; watching how he just takes it, no protest, his hole red and stretched to fit around him perfectly, and, Christ, a flare pops up low in his gut somewhere, pulling him head first into a pool.
He takes his hands away to lean forward and hover over Louis.
Placing his hands into the mattress beside Louis’s head, he thrusts right into the spot he was avoiding.
“Louis, baby, ah—” he tries.
But the shallow pool that started in his abdomen is now an endless lake taking up his stomach, and Louis keeps moaning below him, cock straining harshly against him, and Harry takes a little pity on him and wraps a hand around him to jerk him off.
“Harry,” he cries out.
His eyes are squeezed shut, now, and Harry works on getting them to come.
“Come on, baby,” he coaxes tenderly, “come for me. For daddy. I’m so close, baby, you’ve got me around your finger. Be a good boy.”
He digs his thumb merciless into his slit at the same time he hits Louis’s sweet spot sharply.
That makes Louis come, eyes flying open.
It comes out in thick ropes all over his stomach, thighs, and Harry’s hand and the sheets below them, and his hole clenches around Harry, encompassing him in so much hot pressure that it makes him hiss, then Harry’s coming into the condom a few thrusts later. He drops his face into Louis’s neck, moaning deeply and thrusting slower, now, as he rides it out, prolonging the hot release that tingles his entire groin area.
“Christ,” he pants.
Louis’s arms wrap around him, as do his legs, and he feels a kiss be pressed to his head.
“I know,” Louis comments, quiet and taking deep breaths. “Not to make your ego even bigger than it is already, because I’d rather get dunked with ice cold water buckets ten times in a row before doing that, but I am definitely going to be feeling that later.”
Harry laughs, but it comes out in a soft puff of air against Louis’s shoulder. He pulls back to look Louis in the eye.
“Does this mean you’re going to stop seeing him?” he says.
“If you get me some leftovers, clean us up, and plan to woo me, sure,” Louis tells him, then runs a hand up Harry’s back into the back of his head to softly twist his fingers in Harry’s hair.
He’s got a soft look in his eyes, and it feels good enough to Harry.
Harry pecks his mouth.
Halfway to the bathroom, he’s hit with a thought and stops. “Shit,” he exclaims softly, “I left the mashed potatoes sitting out.”
Louis laughs at him.