“Who do you think our new neighbor is?” Louis asks, leaning on his tiptoes to try to see over the fence.
“You’re not tall enough to snoop like that,” Zayn snorts, only laughing further when Louis whacks him.
“Well, at least I’m not an arsehole.” Louis sticks out his tongue at Zayn with a whine.
“That’s true. But, to be fair, our new neighbor very well may be,” Zayn shrugs.
“I, for one, hope he’s a fit model,” Louis says, voice sounding faraway. “One who’s into other fit lads, preferably those of the 5’9” variety.”
Giggling, Zayn holds his tongue about the whole 5’9” thing, figuring he’s been hit more than enough for this conversation.
“Whoever it is sure has a lot of stuff. God.” Louis’ practically falling off the balcony, he’s leaning his torso so far over the railing.
“Why don’t you bring them cookies?” Niall pipes up from inside the house, and only Niall would say something so sweet (and food-related). And so naive.
“Niall, Niall, Niall,” Louis chastises as he momentarily looks away from the house next door to face the boy. “You make them come to you, not the other way around.”
Liam rolls his eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”
Carelessly raising one shoulder before he turns back around to his view of the neighbor’s yard, Louis stipulates, “Maybe, but I’m not wrong.”
“Lou, are you gonna watch the movie with us?” Zayn calls as he heads out to the balcony to swing his arm around Louis.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll come fourth-wheel with Niall soon. But I can’t just watch this every day.”
He looks expectantly from Zayn to the guys still moving everything in.
“You don’t even know if this neighbor’s worth all your curiosity,” Zayn laughs as he pats Louis on the back before starting inside the house.
“I’ll join soo--” Louis promises in return, trailing off as he squints, something insect-like coming closer and closer by the second. “Shit, it’s a fucking bee," he spits in disgust before he makes a very un-Louis-like squeal before scampering inside, slamming the door as fast as he can behind a more-sluggish Zayn.
“We never have bees. Ever." Louis says, the wheels in his mind turning. “If it’s from our new neighbor…” Shaking his head in annoyance, he huffs, “They’re going to hear from me.”
Liam chuckles. “I thought you said they had to come to you?” He raises one eyebrow teasingly.
“That was before there was a fucking bee!” Louis shrieks, stamping his foot on the floor like a three-year-old throwing a tantrum.
“Louis really hates bees,” Zayn explains as he comes up behind Liam to wrap his arms around Liam’s torso, pressing his chin against his shoulder.
“A character flaw, really,” Louis admits with chagrin, finally seeming to calm down as he takes in his now-safe surroundings. “My only one,” he adds with a wolfish grin.
“Sure,” Niall says, and it only comes out somewhat sarcastically, so Louis lets it slide as he plops into his favorite armchair.
And all seems well.
Until it’s not--when Zayn bites into an apple a few days later, and says casually, “Saw two more bees when walking Rhino today. So try to be a little careful, if you can.”
“More bees?” Louis cries, eyes forming into slits, his breathing shallowing as his nose furls up. “I’m fucking over this shit.”
Ignoring Zayn’s protests, he storms out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
As he races over to the neighbor’s to try to figure out just what’s going on, he knows he’s overreacting, but he finds himself unable to stop.
Still, the thought does bubble up in his mind: that maybe he should just turn back around and call it a day. After all, no one’s been hurt by it, right?
As if this thought is enough by itself to tempt fate, the closer he gets, the more bees he comes into contact with. One gets so close to his face that he swats at it without thinking.
Before he’s even able to blink, the bee attacks, aiming for his jaw, a sharp pain rushing to his chin soon after. He winces, only feeling more enraged as he continues his hunt for whoever’s responsible for this atrocious attempt at being “natural” or whatever.
After a few more seconds of wandering around the fairly small lawn, it all clicks: their neighbor probably owns a bee farm or some shit. This thought only shoots rage deeper in his veins, his muscles, practically every part of him.
After a moment longer, he finds who he’s looking for, bending down over something that almost looks like a file cabinet.
“Fuck you and your bee farm,” he hisses to the strangely-shaped white form.
He only feels slightly guilty when the blob freezes, closing the cabinet-like thing as he straightens up slowly.
He’s taller than Louis had thought, maybe lanky, too. (It’s hard to tell when he’s wearing such a bulky, white, bag-like silhouette over his body.) He can’t say for sure--because the man also has some sort of veil thing attached to his hat, covering his face--but he seems to be frowning. Not in an angry way, like Louis expected, but almost in a regretful way.
And it’s only as he takes all this in, his adrenaline still pounding from the sting, that he realizes he’s basically standing in the fucking bee farm, this file cabinet thing likely holding hundreds of bees.
“N-no. Oh God, oh shit,” he says, backing up carefully. “I can’t get stung again.” Swallowing hard, the pain in his chin begins to throb.
The man blinks at these words, eyebrows drawing in.
“Again?” he asks gently, looking sorry for Louis as his eyes travel down his body, seemingly searching for something.
“Yeah, fucking again. These bees are monsters,” Louis whines.
The lad pouts at Louis’ words, but doesn’t say anything about it, instead only taking a few more steps away from the farm before he removes himself from his head gear and nods up to the house. “Come on, I know how to treat it.”
He quickly walks up the stairs, not waiting for a response before entering the house.
Louis sighs, but follows, simultaneously relieved by this man’s help and also by the fact that he gets to leave the terrifying bee farm behind, if only momentarily.
“You aren’t allergic, are you?” The lad calls to Louis as he hears the door slam behind him.
“Err…” Louis thinks on that. “No, don’t think so? Just hate them.”
“Good!” He replies, following Louis’ voice to find him in the next room. Without any warning, he reaches forward to flick something out of Louis’ chin with his fingernail, a quick pain following behind.
“Ouch,” Louis groans, and he has the sudden urge to complain to the man again--until he gets a better look at him without his fashion disaster of a hat.
Louis was right. He is tall. Lanky, too. And with long, brown, curly hair, he seems to fit with this whole beekeeping vibe he has going on. His strong jaw and bright green eyes should go against that natural, save-the-earth, kind of feeling. But oddly enough, it seems to only accentuate it further. (In a sort of fit model way, Louis thinks happily to himself.)
“Sorry,” the man says, replying only a moment too late. Giving a small smile, he seems almost to sense Louis’ most-likely obvious gawking. “Had to get the stinger out. I need to clean it, too.” He leads Louis to the sink, watching closely to make sure he actually follows. “Is that alright?” He asks, looking at Louis for confirmation, waiting for his nod before he wets a washcloth with soap and water.
Gently cleaning the area, he says with a light laugh, “Don’t hate me for saying this, but I’ve heard that bee stings are good for you.”
Louis’ glare only makes the lad more entertained.
“I’m serious,” he goes on. “I’ve heard about people getting stung after surgeries and stuff to help. With the pain, I guess.”
Louis can’t find it in himself to respond.
Once the man finishes cleaning the area, he pulls back to take a look at his handiwork. “Already starting to look better.” He moves to his refrigerator to grab something, voice seemingly coming out of the freezer as he adds, “My name’s Harry, by the way.”
He pulls out an ice pack, checking to make sure it’s frozen enough while he asks nonchalantly, “You’re my neighbor, aren’t you?” He clears his throat. “I saw you from your balcony one day.” Trying to get a look at me. The next words go unsaid, but Louis feels them in the sudden burn of his cheeks, in the way his already racing heart pounds a bit faster. He flips the fringe of his hair back in an attempt to hide it.
“Yeah” is the only thing Louis can think to say. “My name’s Louis.” Grasping for words, he licks his lips, trying to find anything to distract from the balcony part. “I live with Zayn. But we might as well say I have three roomies, ‘cause his boyfriend, Liam, and our friend, Niall, practically live there, too.”
There’s something in the word boyfriend that causes Harry to relax. Louis’ not quite sure why, but just noticing that makes him a little bit happy.
“Here.” Handing Louis the ice pack, Harry's lips upturn just a bit. “Put this on the sting for a while. It’ll help.” He sighs, biting his lip. “Sorry one of my bees stung you. A few got away today--I’m still learning, you see.”
Louis finds himself smiling when he should be frowning, shrugging when he should be storming out.
“But since you’re here, anyway, Louis,” Harry continues with a grin, “maybe I can change your mind about bees and my bee farm.”
Groaning, Louis places the ice pack on his chin as he prepares for a horrendous conversation.
But he can’t help but feel like maybe, with this man, he might be alright listening to such things.