Louis’ eyes have been open for all of two minutes when Niall quite literally bursts in through his bedroom door, sending it banging into the wall behind it. Happily humming a tune, and wielding two garment bags, he looks more like he’s filming an upbeat breakfast food commercial, than barging into someone’s room unannounced and uninvited.
“Morning Tommo, didn’t think you’d be up yet,” he booms cheerfully, laying the bags over the back of the desk chair.
Tossing back the covers and swinging his legs down to the floor, Louis glares at him, “Awfully fucking loud for someone who thought I’d be sleeping, aren’t you?”
Niall, in true Niall fashion, flounces back out of the room, not paying Louis a second of attention. He goes into the kitchen if the sound of slamming cabinets is anything to go by. He’s probably searching for the blue mug that he likes to use. It’s in the dishwasher at the moment, and if Louis was feeling nicer he’d tell him, but the rather rude wake-up call has soured his mood a bit.
Louis shuffles into the kitchen in socked feet, just in time to see Niall give a little shrug that translates to fuck it, I’ll use another one , and pour himself a cup of tea. Rounding on Louis, he never drops his smile, “Picked up your favorite suit from the dry cleaners.”
Louis pushes past him to get a mug, giving him an extra shove for being so annoyingly awake.
He pours himself a cup with a scowl, “I don’t have a favorite suit. All suits are cut from the devil’s cloth, and created for the sole purpose of stealing the liberty from a man until he’s ready to jump from a building.”
Niall nods along, unperturbed, “Well the one that enslaves you the least, then. Are you going to do your hair yourself or is Lottie going to come to do the swirly thing?”
“I don’t know,” Louis grumbles, taking another tentative sip, “How rich are these people that you are forcing me to socialise with?”
“If it weren’t for me forcing you to socialise, you’d grow roots into the fucking couch, and I’d end up having to plant you in the garden,” Niall states, sounding far more like an old Irish Nan than any 23 year old has the right to, “And very, very rich.”
“Root vegetables would probably make better company,” Louis grumbles.
Turning to get the milk from the fridge, he catches his reflection in the stainless steel. It’s a wonder Niall hadn’t screamed in fright, he looks like one of the extras on that Zombie show.
“We’d better call Lottie.”
Two hours later, thoroughly primped and a bit peeved, Louis slides into the back of the Bentley. He makes room for Niall to scooch in and raps a knuckle on the back of Liam’s head playfully. He’s got the heat turned up so it’s nice and cozy, which is the kind of thoughtfulness Louis really appreciates in a bodyguard/driver/friend/goalkeeperwhenNiall’skneereallyhurts.
“Alright?” Liam asks cheerfully, brown eyes smiling back at them through the rearview mirror. They’ve only known each other for a little under a year, since just after the move to London, but their friendship’s been easy from day one.
Niall slings his body between the two front seats and bops Liam on the nose, “Sure we are mate, and how are you?”
Liam plants the palm of his hand on Niall's forehead and shoves him back before carefully pulling out into traffic, “I’m tops, you know me. Excited to spend the evening rubbing elbows with the tip-top of London?”
Niall settles back easily and pulls out his phone with a quiet huff of laughter.
Louis rolls his eyes so hard he sees a vision of his first Primary teacher.
“Yeah, I’m positively chuffed, can’t you tell?”
The theme song for Candy Crush plays quietly from Niall’s phone and his face glows with the colorful lights bouncing around his screen. He doesn’t even look up to bat away Louis’ hand when he makes a grab for it; moving the phone to the side swiftly as he grabs Louis’ arm and pins it under his own. “Louis is always a grump though, isn’t he? He should be thankful that I’ve made rich and famous friends for him to write terrible stories about.”
The struggle of getting his arm free is making Louis sweat under his collar, “Maybe you could actually do me a favor and get rich and famous enough so that I can write terrible stories about you and not ever have to leave my house.”
Liam waits for the car ahead of him to make a complete stop at the light, before turning around with a smirk, “Yeah, Niall, I’ve only heard your song on the radio seventeen times since I left home an hour ago. That’s three less than yesterday, I think.”
Niall smiles, pleased and proud of himself, “Sorry about that, I’ll see what I can do to get rotation back up.” Turning to Louis, he releases his arm but keeps his own arm up, ready to defend himself, “And you need to stop complaining. No one has ever died from a little bit of socialising.”
Not yet, Louis thinks sullenly, but the night is still young.
Just as he suspected, the room is far too crowded to be comfortable. Really though, Louis thinks as he takes stock of the people milling around, he wouldn’t be comfortable in any sized room with these people.
It’s not like a club back home, people dancing, joking, drinking. These people are practically robots, with their fancy clothes and fake smiles. They’re crowded together like sardines in a can, but somehow manage to not be touching. It’s unnatural.
Niall nudges him over to the coat check and glances around them, “Not a bad crowd, music could be better.”
Louis snorts. It would be better if it was loud enough to drown out the fake laughter and bad jokes he’s sure to have to endure, for the rest of however long they’re going to be here. Which.
“When can we leave?”
Niall gives him a bland look. It seems his patience has run out, that’s on him for waking Louis at nine am, isn’t it?
“Just a few hours, Lou. Go chat some people up, drink a little, it will be over soon enough.”
With a wink, he’s off, moving through the room, stopping every few feet to clap someone on the back or shake a hand. Louis rolls his eyes at his back and makes his way in search of a drink. One will steady his nerves, two will make the fake niceties a little more bearable.
Towards the back of the room, there’s a large group of people milling about, most likely that’s where he’ll find alcohol. A brunette in a short, purple dress, with diamonds dripping down her neck, turns away from the bar with a pink drink in her hand and looks right through him as she teeters past on sky high heels. Louis ignores her right back, walking through the cloud of musky perfume she leaves in her wake, and slips into the small space she leaves behind.
The bar is one of those modern affairs, all sleek marble and glass shelves. It’s cold against his forearms as he props himself up, waiting for the bartender to look his way. There’s a lot of chatter happening, but as he glances around him, he can’t seem to find a single person who looks like they’re actually listening. A sea of beautiful faces nodding along with dead eyes.
“Hey, mate what d’you need?” Louis snaps his head around and winces at the irritation clear on the bartender’s face; he’d probably asked him more than once.
“A jack and coke would be good, thanks,” He gets a curt nod in response. Louis’ eyes drift to the wall behind the bar, layered in gold and purple curtains, hanging ceiling to floor. God, he’d give anything to be back in his local pub right now, playing pool and drinking a pint, surrounded by walls dressed in fading wallpaper and dart holes.
The bartender hands him his drink and inquires about starting a tab. Louis figures he might as well. He pulls out his wallet and hands him his card, a little distracted by a flurry of activity to his right.
One high pitched giggle tells him what he needs to know, without him having to turn and confirm it. Some rockstar or movie star or something star has just made a dramatic appearance, and the birds are flocking like seagulls down at the pier, only about 75 times more annoying.
Louis grabs his drink quickly and turns from the bar, hell bent on getting out of there. Before he can make it even three steps, someone bumps into him, and his drink splashes over the edge of his glass and sloshes down his arm.
“Fuck,” Louis groans, shaking his sleeve out and eyeing the damage, “Sorry mate.”
“I like a man who takes the blame,” a deep voice responds, slightly slurred around the edges, and laced with laughter.
Louis looks up sharply and finds the rockstar he’d been trying to get away from, complete with green eyes, shoulder length chocolate curls, and what Louis genuinely suspects is pink lipstick. No one’s lips are naturally that shade, is all he’s saying.
“I’m just being polite,” Louis snaps, “I’m not surprised by your confusion in the face of manners though, seeing as you’re the type to blunder around in cramped spaces and knock people over.”
“Ouch, pretty boy bites,” the stranger’s eyes light with amusement, although he visibly works to train his face into a somber expression. He presses his hand to his own chest in penance, “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to knock into you. How can I earn your forgiveness?”
He snaps his fingers between them, apparently having an epiphany, and Louis looks at him in stunned confusion, “I know, I bet you want an autograph.”
An...what? Louis’ jaw drops open, actually hangs open, as he gapes at him in absolute and utter disbelief. Right here, on a Friday night in London, Louis has happened upon the biggest douchebag in the history of the world. Surely he should contact someone. A record keeping organisation or something.
“You think I want an autograph,” Louis repeats slowly. Maybe if the guy hears the words back clearly enough he’ll comprehend the level of asshole he’s throwing out into the universe.
It doesn’t work, Mr. Douchebag of the Century just smirks and leans into Louis’ space, well more into his space, “Mmhmm, we’ll have to go up to my Penthouse. That’s where I keep my pens.”
It keeps getting worse. How does it keep getting worse? “Is that a pun? Are you chatting me up with a pun?”
For the first time, the confidence dims a little from the other man’s perfectly sculpted face, “Well, yes it’s a pun,” he says with a little furrow of his brow, like a confused puppy, “Don’t you think it’s funny?”
“Do you think it’s funny,” Louis asks, huffing out an incredulous laugh.
Now the man is full on pouting, “Everyone thinks I’m funny.”
Louis rolls his eyes, “No, they don’t. Not unless you’re telling jokes in an old folks home or summat. Everyone thinks you’re rich.”
Douchebag doesn’t seem to have a response to that one, just stands there blinking at him with his freakishly long lashes. So, Louis shrugs and turns to go, he’ll down this drink and then find some blonde socialite to stand around and pretend to listen to.
A firm grip on his bicep stops him before he makes his escape. Eyebrow lifted in question, he glances at the hand and back up to its owner.
“Harry,” he says, so quietly it’s almost swallowed up by the music and the sound of the people, “My name’s Harry.”
Louis nods, gently tugging his arm out of Harry’s grasp, “Well, Harold. Have a wonderful evening.”
An hour later, Louis is on his third drink, nodding along while a leggy supermodel laments the disaster that is the Spring fashion scene. She’s only just started in on how trite and frankly overused flowers are, when Louis spots Harry across the room.
He’s swaying slightly to the music, a little out of time, obviously a fair bit past drunk. There’s a blonde woman wrapped around him, who Louis thinks, with a small tilt of his head, might actually be keeping him from moving more freely. She’s chattering on about something, red painted mouth moving like an auctioneer, and pawing at the front of his shirt with her matching dark red nails; maybe looking at the huge tattoo across his chest.
Maybe thinking about ripping his heart straight out through his rib cage, you can’t really tell with those types.
It’s not the woman that gives Louis pause though, it’s the vacant look in Harry’s eyes. He might have been an arrogant douchebag, but when he was hitting on him, he looked like he was actually there, actually aware of what was going on. Louis hadn’t registered it in the moment, too astounded by his brazen attitude and rudely gorgeous features. But, he’d been the only one of all these people that had anything behind their eyes.
Not now though. And something about that was terribly wrong. So wrong that Louis starts moving through the crowd without his brain giving his body any instructions; without telling the girl he’d been standing with anything - not that she would care, she’d probably do just fine if she simply turned and spoke directly to the wall.
Harry’s vacant expression doesn’t change when Louis comes into his line of sight, but he’s pretty sure he remembers him from earlier.
“Having a good time, Harold.”
The woman unravels herself from Harry’s torso to glare at Louis with piercing blue eyes.
“His name’s not Harold,” she sneers, her top lip curling up like a rabid alley cat, “How do you not know that?”
Louis smacks the palm of his hand to his forehead and gasps dramatically, startling the woman visibly. She turns, letting her arms drop away from Harry, and eyes Louis with confusion.
“Oh my god, thank you so much for enlightening me! How ever will I pay you back for bestowing upon me your infinite wisdom,” Louis gushes. To his right, a man comes into his line of vision, seemingly watching the interaction, and Louis smirks, “I know, how about I set you up on a date?”
With the type of speed only possessed by those who have a hand in raising several babies at a time, Louis snatches her wrist and spins her way from Harry, directly into the other man’s arms. She gasps and wobbles on her heels, but Louis doesn’t bother looking back to see if she lands safely.
Stepping forward he waits for Harry’s eyes to find his. They’re still vacant and cold, it makes something like dread trickle down Louis’ spine. “Hey, how about you show me that Penthouse now?”
Harry blinks at him, and a slow, predatory smile spreads across his face. He’s got dimples, and Louis is taken aback for a second by how much younger he looks when they pop up in his cheeks. Also a little disturbed by how they look in contrast to his leering expression, “Yeah?”
Louis nods, batting away Harry’s hand, when he tries to take another sip of whatever concoction he’s got in the highball glass he’s clutching, “That’s enough of that, I think.”
Harry pouts beautifully and tries for another sip. Louis smacks him a little harder, “Have you got a misunderstanding of what ‘no’ means, mate?”
Harry freezes and blinks three times rapidly. His eyes look almost normal now; he tilts his head like he’s considering something and then suddenly his expression shifts - less leering and more contrition, “Just been a long time since I’ve heard it, is all. We’ve got to find the lift.”
Louis wants to comment on the shift in Harry’s demeanor, and the fact that he’s a spoiled rotten man child, but now’s not really the time and what does he care anyway, “Yeah, I think we can manage, come on.”
Tangling their hands together Louis marches through the room. He’s prepared to push people aside, maybe even looking forward to it a little, but apparently walking with Harry is like being with Moses. The entire room just shifts and lets them through without a second thought.
Just right of the lift, because he’s probably magical and just hasn’t admitted it yet, is Niall, standing with a small brunette and looking at Louis expectantly.
“Are we taking him home,” Niall asks with a chuckle, “Not sure we’ve got enough room in the car for that amount of leg.”
“You’re Irish,” Harry blurts out, leaning forward with a huge grin.
Niall matches it and puffs his chest with pride, “That’s right, mate.”
Louis rolls his eyes and nudges Harry back with his elbow, nearly falling to the floor when Harry stumbles and yanks on Louis’ arm on the way down. “Jesus Christ. This is Harry, he apparently lives in the Penthouse and he is entirely too drunk. I have decided that I am fucking Mother Teresa and I’m going to bring him up. I’ll call an Uber, yeah?”
Niall cackles at the end of Louis’s speech and claps him on the back, “Alright, mate. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
Harry has managed to get himself back on his feet during their exchange, “Look, the lift,” he exclaims, with unbridled excitement, spotting it over Niall’s left shoulder.
Niall fights back another laugh, absolutely delighted. Louis glares at him, “Pray for me.”
They get into the lift with very little trouble; Harry is back to quietly stumbling around behind Louis. And then it’s only a couple seconds of confusion, and wrestling with Harry’s far too tight trousers, to get the Penthouse key in the slot and the lift moving.
While it rises, Louis feels a prickle of awareness along the back. Bringing his eyes up, he sees Harry’s reflection in the shiny metal of the lifts walls, watching him intently.
“You go around staring at people like that, someone’s going to think you’re a nutter,” Louis grumbles, rolling his shoulders back.
“Just waiting for you to give me your name,” Harry says, not dropping his gaze. His words slur together like syrup and move just as slowly, “Not a nutter.”
Louis huffs, watching the numbers tick up on the indicator above the door, “Yeah well, when you don’t blink or breathe-” rounding on Harry, he fixes him with a suspicious look, “Why are you not breathing, are you a vampire?”
Harry blinks, “No?”
Great. Try to be a good samaritan and look what happens to you. Drained of all your blood in a lift, that’s what.
“That’s not the type of question you answer with another question, Harry. And my name’s Louis.”
The lift dings and Harry stumbles out immediately, grumbling, “‘S rude to call people vampires, Louis.”
Louis steps out after him, intent on asking a few more questions, just so he can be sure about the vampire business, but his breath catches in his throat and he freezes to the spot.
For a wild moment, Louis thinks that Harry lives outside, in some kind of open air flat. But then his brain catches up and he realises he’s looking through walls of glass, floor to ceiling crystal clear glass. The flat is sleek and modern, like the rest of the hotel, as far as Louis can tell. But he doesn’t get a good look at his surroundings before he’s rushing out of the room in search of Harry and the source of whatever terrible smashing noise just sounded through the flat.
He finds him in the next room, sitting cross legged on the floor with fat teardrops rolling down his cheeks. There’s a palm plant upended on the floor, with its soil piled around it. Harry’s holding little white pieces of ceramic in his hands. When he looks up, Louis sighs at the pathetic look on his face.
“Broke the planter,” he hiccups out.
“I see that, love,” Louis says gently, “Come on, up you come.”
Hauling him up by his armpits, Louis stands him up and takes the pottery from his hands, “How about you get in bed, yeah?”
“Will you be joining me,” Harry flirts, but he lets out a sniffle, and suddenly, gone is the confident, egotistical bachelor from earlier. Louis watches him drop the act and stumble over to his king sized bed, and thinks, now Harry’s back to an overgrown puppy.
Without a care for his bazillion dollar outfit, or his white duvet, Harry plops down face first onto the bed with a groan. Louis’ job is done. Harry is free from the demon woman, he’s safe in his flat. He’ll have a killer hangover in the morning, no doubt, but Louis can’t work actual fucking miracles, so. He’s free to go.
But he’s still standing by the door, hesitating. It’s just that, well, the guy’s trousers are about fifteen degrees past what a normal person would deem tight, and that just can’t be comfortable.
“Hey, Harry,” Louis calls, walking forward to nudge his foot with his thigh when Harry remains unresponsive, “Don’t you want to put on something less,” he flounders for a second looking for the right word, “less awful?”
Harry doesn't move, but he does mumble something absolutely unintelligible into the duvet. Louis nudges him again, and then again, and then somewhere around the eighth nudge, Harry turns his face with a groan.
“My outfit is not awful,” he complains with another hiccup, “Obviously you don’t work in fashion.”
“Nope,” Louis confirms proudly, looking around the room and finding nothing but sleek white walls, “Where’s your wardrobe?”
Harry groans again, because apparently, besides being the world's most giant douchebag, he’s also the world’s most dramatic, and points towards the wall across from Louis, “Just like, press on it.”
Louis walks over to the wall, squinting at it dubiously. Why do rich people have to make everything so fucking difficult. A handle. Would a handle be too much to ask for?
It takes a couple tries, but the door does swing open after being pushed just right, and behind it Louis finds enough clothing for a small army.
A very flamboyant army.
“I don’t know why I was expecting anything else,” Louis says, mostly to himself, while shoving the clothes around in search of something normal. A t-shirt maybe, maybe just something not silk, “Do you own anything without a Gucci tag on it?”
He comes upon a black button up shirt with little bumble bees on the cuffs. This one isn’t that bad actually, way less flashy than the rest of the stuff, anyway.
“That’s Versace,” Harry slurs smugly, like he’s proved Louis wrong or something. Because there’s such a huge difference between Gucci and Versace.
Louis turns around to tell him so and gets an eye full of a huge butterfly tattoo stretched across Harry’s chest. And every other tattoo on his body. “Why are you naked?!”
Harry looks up from the bed, confused by Louis’ reaction, “This is how I sleep, I thought you wanted me to get out of my awful outfit.”
Louis spins back around and stares at the closet, listening to the sounds of Harry getting into bed, “Are you decent?”
“As decent as I’ll ever be,” Harry answers around a yawn.
Louis turns back around slowly, just in case he’s lying, and for a moment they just look at each other awkwardly. Harry breaks eye contact first, letting his eyes drop to Louis’ hands, and Louis realises he’s still holding the Versace button up. Clearing his throat, he hangs it back up hastily and closes the door back up. Rockstar doesn’t need clothes, apparently.
“Well, it’s been a blast but it looks like it’s time for me to go,” Louis says with a little shrug of his shoulders.
Harry leans over and rummages through the night stand, pulling out a little notepad and a pen, “How about that autograph?”
Louis narrows his eyes. “You’re kidding, right?”
Harry shifts in the bed, letting the duvet pool around his waist. Louis resolutely doesn’t let his eyes drop past Harry’s neck.
“I was thinking maybe you’d give me an autograph actually, maybe with your phone number,” he asks in his rockstar voice, making one last attempt at bravado, but he eyes are looking heavier by the second, and all the slow, sleepy blinking is doing nothing for his image.
Under normal circumstances, Louis would scoff and walk out without a second glance over his shoulder. But, the difference between the Harry that he’d met downstairs and this soft, sweet creature of a man, has him walking over and taking the pad and pen.
“I suppose I could do that,” he says quietly, writing down his information. When he looks up, Harry’s already fallen asleep, his long lashes casting a shadow against his cheeks.
Louis lets himself out as quietly as he can, hitting the lights as he goes. Down on the street, while waiting for his Uber, he allows himself a second to glance up at the building. In his mind’s eye he can see Harry tucked into his huge bed, sleeping soundly.
“See you around, Curly.”
The next morning, Louis and Niall are lounging on the couch with legs practically wrapped up together under a blanket, watching reruns of Top Gear because neither of them feel like finding the remote, when a knock sounds at the door.
With matching expressions of confusion, they peer at the door and then back at each other.
“Are you expecting someone,” Niall asks with a furrowed brow.
Louis gestures to their stained shirts and crisp crumb littered joggers, “Yes, Niall. This is exactly how I like to look when I invite the Queen over for a spot of tea.”
Niall kicks him in the shin and then promptly scrambles down the couch and out of reach, taking the bag of crisps with him. “Who is it then?”
“I don’t know do I, these aren’t my x-ray glasses,” Louis grouches, pushing himself up off the couch. The knock comes again, a little more insistent this time, “Alright, alright, keep your knickers on.”
Niall snorts from the couch, “You’re going to be sorry if that really is the Queen.”
Louis throws him the finger over his back before unlatching the security chain and swinging open the door. On the other side stands a man in a perfectly cut grey suit, with a sour expression marring his breathtaking face. He’s got a narrow build, but his shoulders are straight and rigid. His hands are clasped behind his back in a way that pushes out his chest and accents his almost nonexistent waist.
Louis’ first thought is that this poor man had forgotten to turn around at the end of a catwalk, and had simply kept going, then looked up and realised he was very far from home.
“Good morning,” the man says in a way that sounds a whole lot like fuck off , “I’ve got a package for a Louis Tomlinson.”
Louis’ eyebrows creep up towards his hairline, “You’re a delivery man?”
The strangers eyes flash, and for a second Louis has to fight the urge to step back. But no, be intimidated in his own flat? Not happening. Anyway, Niall’s probably got his back if Mr. Cheekbones gets too bold.
“I am under the employ of Harry Styles, and as such I have many duties. Today, I have been awarded the pleasure of bringing a package to a Mr. Louis Tomlinson. Have I got the correct flat?”
If words could slice, Louis would have been minced meat pie from his tone alone. He almost gives in to the urge to check himself for damage. “That’s me, yeah.”
From behind his back, the man procures a large package wrapped up in white paper and tied with a black bow. After handing it off to Louis, he gives a curt nod and turns on his heel, leaving without another word.
Louis watches him go and then retreats into the flat, locking the door behind him. Niall clambers up from the couch, and joins him as he walks into the kitchen, and puts the package onto the table. Together, they stare down at it with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension.
“Is there a card?” Niall asks quietly, like he thinks he’s going to disturb it or something.
There doesn’t appear to be one, and the non delivery man hadn’t given him one. “I don’t think so. But the guy said he works for Harry Styles.”
Niall’s neck snaps around so fast, Louis actually fears he’ll end up in a brace, “You’re getting gifts from Harry Styles now? I thought you didn’t sleep with him.”
“I didn’t,” Louis says defensively, “Anyway, you don’t know if this is a gift. It could be a bomb.”
“People don’t put bows on bombs, Lou.”
“Oh, you’re a bomb expert now. Be sure to put that on your C.V.”
Niall laughs and shoves at his shoulder, “Just open it, you fucking prick.”
He takes off the bow first, taking a second to tie it around Niall’s neck like a collar, and then rips through the paper. The box underneath is brown and nondescript, giving no clues as to what it's harboring. Niall nudges him a little to get him to hurry up and open it.
Inside, there's tissue paper, that Louis pushes aside to find black fabric. When he lifts it from the box, he recognises it instantly.
“Harry Styles is buying you shirts?” Niall looks like he could be knocked over with a feather. Honestly, Louis can relate.
Niall grabs for the label on the collar, and then slides down into one of the chairs in disbelief, “Harry Styles is buying you Versace ?”
Who even does something like this? Vampires with staring problems, and a soft spot for potted plants, apparently.
Louis folds the shirt up carefully and puts it back in the box, “Well, I obviously can’t keep it.”
“What are you going to do?” Niall asks, accent thickening with every octave his voice climbs, “Send it back? That’s fucking rude, mate.”
“I’m fairly sure it’s a little more rude to accept a shirt that’s worth more than this month’s rent.”
Niall scoffs, “Harry’s literally a millionaire, this is nothing to him.”
There’s a stress headache forming behind his right eye, because that’s what Harry does, that's what Harry is, a big headache. Louis stomps around the kitchen table and flings open one of the cabinets in search of medicine.
“That doesn’t matter,” Louis insists, gesticulating wildly, “It’s not nothing to me.”
“First of all, Mr. Degree in English-Professional-Writer, that’s a double negative,” Niall points out pompously. Louis spins around, and Niall wilts a little under his glare before hurrying on, “Second of all, what are you going to do, walk it to his Penthouse?”
Louis finds the right pill bottle and downs two dry, ignoring the way Niall winces, “I don’t know, I could post it I guess. Or bring it. It’s not like I’m scared to go over there.”
“No,” Niall agrees, nodding along, “Dating is the only thing that scares you. Well, that and going bald.”
In the middle of bringing his cup to his mouth for a sip, Louis freezes then lowers it slowly, narrowing his eyes, “I am not afraid of dating. That’s not even a thing people are afraid of.”
Niall snorts, “Right. Because running in the other direction, everytime anyone so much as seems interested in you really screams ‘ready to mingle’.”
Louis should have taken the opportunity to smother him to death when they were children, and he could have gotten away with it. “Just because you don’t understand what standards are, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to jump into bed with any Tom, Dick, or Harry that comes along.”
The insult slides off Niall’s back like water from a duck and he tilts his head, smirk playing across his face, “Mate, just for clarification, you’re telling me Harry fucking Styles doesn’t meet your standards? Who’s left? Zeus?”
Before Louis can snap at him about the dangers of glorifying celebrities, a knock sounds at the door. “Jesus,” he grumbles, “Have I won a popularity contest or something.”
Niall rolls his eyes, “Not likely.”
It earns him his second rude hand gesture of the day, and a ball of wrapping paper thrown at his head, all before noon. That’s a record even for Niall.
Louis stomps over to the door, assuming he’ll find a salesperson or something.
It’s not a salesperson. “How are you?” Harry drawls, voice like syrup.
Louis’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
“Um, hi,” Louis leans forward a bit and peers into the hall, expecting to find it packed with a camera crew filming some type of prank show, rather than Harry Styles in soft joggers and a black hoodie, looking like he’s just a regular guy, “I’m alright, how are you?”
“I’m well,” Harry responds, bouncing on the balls of his feet. His trainers squeak a little, Louis looks down and notices what he’s pretty sure is a hole in the side of the left one. “I forgot to send a card with the gift. When I realised, I tried to send Zayn back up, but he got snippy so I figured I’d come up and just say thank you in person.”
Louis looks back up and tilts his head, tapping at his lip in a considering fashion, “Zayn. Dark, brooding, supermodel looking bloke? Ready to attack at any given moment?”
Harry cackles loudly, surprising Louis into a smile that he bites back instantly, “That’s fake. Well, the model thing is true, but the ready to attack part is fake. He’s a softie; he won’t even let me order fresh lobster when we go out ‘cause he hates to see it suffer.”
Louis smiles a little bigger, and lets this one stay, leaning against the door jam, “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Once we were in a hotel in America and the cable was out so we had to rent a movie and I picked Lilo and Stitch. You should have seen the way he cried when Lilo left-”
“Harry the shirt was a lovely gift, but I can’t accept it,” Louis cuts him off, accidently just blurting it out.
“Of course you can,” Harry objects, pouting like an overgrown toddler, “It’s rude to send gifts back.”
“That’s what I told him,” Niall sing songs from the kitchen.
Harry’s face lights up excitedly, he plants a gigantic palm flat on the door and pushes it open with a smile, “Irish!”
Niall’s chair scrapes loudly across the kitchen floor, as he jumps up and bounds over to the door, “That’s me, well the name’s Niall actually. Good to see you mate, looking good!”
Harry tilts his head with a bashful smile and a little shrug. He opens his mouth to answer but snaps it shut again when Louis interrupts.
“If you two are quite finished with your little reunion tour here,” Louis huffs, looking between them with an annoyed expression, “Honestly, you’re practically strangers, why are you acting like you’re part of a boyband or something. And, that’s the second time you’ve called me rude in, like, 24 hours.”
“I’m sure it’s not the second time you’ve been rude in 24 hours,” Harry answers sourly. The nerve. “You haven’t even invited me in and I’m a guest.”
Niall turns and looks at Louis, poking him in the shoulder, “Also, you just interrupted us. Incredibly rude.”
He’s standing in his own home being lectured about manners from a man who’d tried to pull him within twenty seconds of meeting him, and another who regularly attempts to belch the entire alphabet.
“Come in then,” Louis grouses. He lets Niall hold the door and he walks back into the kitchen with the both of them following behind, “I’ll have you know I am a very polite person, a dream to be around in fact.”
Niall hops up onto the counter and watches their exchange like it’s this week’s episode of Keeping up with the Kardashian’s.
“Yeah, I’m sure your Mum says you’re the best lad in the world, her very favourite gossip column writer,” Harry’s tone is still light, but Louis freezes. The side of his face burns under Niall’s stare. “I should have kept that in mind when making such horrible statements about your character.”
“So you know what I do, then.”
If Harry notices Louis’s hesitance, he doesn’t let on. He strolls around the flat curiously, letting his long fingers drag over each surface he passes, “Of course I do. Google.”
“Why would you Google me?” Louis flips the switch on the kettle and starts searching for a tea cup, mostly for something to do with his hands, “If you don’t want people thinking you’re a creepy vampire, the first step is not to stalk them.”
Harry lets out a squeak, indignant, and spins around with one of Niall’s weird vases grasped tightly to his chest, “I wasn’t stalking you, I needed somewhere to send the gift, didn’t I?”
That brings them full circle. Louis sighs, and leans against the counter, shaking his head.
“Do me a favor, Louis?” Harry’s voice is so smooth it has a way of rolling over Louis’ words, and cutting him off without making him bristle. Which is incredibly fucking annoying if he’s honest.
“Keep the shirt.”
Years from now, Louis will look back on this moment and be able to blame his response on Harry’s incredibly unfair puppy dog eyes. He is most definitely some kind of supernatural creature.
“Fine,” Louis sighs in defeat.
Harry smiles brightly and puts the vase back in its place carefully, “Great. Well, I’ve got a shit ton of boring arse meetings today, so I’ve got to be going.”
Louis blinks in surprise and pushes off from the counter to walk him to the door, but Harry waves him off, “No, I’ll see myself out.”
And with a silly little salute to Niall, and a cheeky wink to Louis, he’s gone.
Louis plops down at the kitchen table and stares down into his tea, trying to make sense of the whirlwind that is Harry Styles.
Across the table, Niall munches happily on a piece of toast and watches him, “So, you’re sure you two aren’t dating?”
Louis doesn’t dignify the question with a response.