Chapter 1: Kissing... to shut them up (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
Harry’s tried to get into hockey, but the problem is that it’s hard to follow the puck and the sound of players getting checked into the boards makes him wince and the rinks are too cold. At least during baseball season he can soak up the rays while while watching Louis play, and during soccer season there’s cute sweaty boys in shorts to ogle. There’s a lot to love about having a jock as a best friend slash secret crush, namely his body and his enthusiasm and the many, many chances he has to just watch Louis without it being creepy because it’s expected of him. But hockey's going to push Harry over the edge.
They’re laying in Louis’ bed. Louis’ scrubbed pink and still has damp hair from his post-practice shower, and Harry really is trying to follow Louis’ passionate treatise of Sid and Geno’s reign vs Mario and Jahr’s but Harry’s failing miserably. He’s not even totally sure who Jahr is, but at this point it’s too late to ask.
“You know?” Louis says, turning his face to Harry’s. His eyes are bright and and he’s obviously awaiting a reaction from Harry, but Harry had fully zoned out when Louis started talking about the amount of Heart Trophies won and instead focused on the way Louis licked his lips and the curve of his nose.
Harry does know. He knows he can’t wait a second longer.
He leans in before he can talk himself out of it for the four-hundredth time. Louis’ clearly not expecting it and lets out a ‘oof’ as their teeth bang together. As far as first kisses go, it’s a pretty terrible start.
Harry pulls an inch away, and they breath into each other’s mouths. Louis’ not scrambling to move further away, the only movement is his heaving chest and his eyes searching Harry’s.
So Harry dips back in, slower, and this time they meet softly, perfectly, and Harry melts into Louis’ embrace.
Realizing he’s kissed Louis speechless, Harry’s feeling pretty proud of himself. It’ll be a great technique to use from now on.
Chapter 2: Kissing... to give up control (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
“You said you wanted this,” Louis said gently with a cocked head. “We can stop if you don’t–”
“I do,” Harry rushed to say. “I don’t want to stop. And I know our word if I do.”
Louis waited another moment, searching Harry’s face, then he gave a single nod. “Hands up.”
This was their first official attempt at the whole bondage thing, and Harry did want this. He really did. Down to his bones he desperately wanted to be so good–the very best–for Louis. He raised his hands above his head so Louis could tie them together using a tie that Harry’s mom insisted he pack at the start of every semester ‘just in case’. If she could see them now.
No. Harry wasn’t going to think of his mom when he was trussed up naked.
He pulled on the restraints again, and again Louis sighed and sat back on Harry’s hips. He loved this view of Louis, even if he was so very frustrated with himself and his inability to stay still long enough for Louis to even tie him up and then causing the furrow in Louis’ brow.
“Sorry. Sorry. I promise, this time I won’t move until you say.” Harry was going to do it this time. “I just need to relax. I know that’s the point, so, I’m going to do it.”
Louis gave him that calculating look again. The one that meant that Louis knew him better than Harry knew himself.
“Alright. I’ll give you one more chance.”
Harry sighed in relief.
“And I want a kiss,” Louis said.
Louis laid himself down on top of Harry, matching his body position, arms raised. Harry was determined to be the very very very best sub Louis ever had. Well, first and last sub, really, but the very best one too, so Louis might want to keep exploring this thing Harry couldn’t stop thinking about.
They kissed deeply, and Harry let himself get lost in it. The feeling of their mouths connected, the feeling of Louis’ comforting weight on top of him, the feeling of them rutting against each other. This Harry could do. They could spend hours kissing, and Harry knew how much Louis loved it. Could feel how much Louis loved it.
Louis moaned into his mouth and gently danced his fingers down Harry’s arms and knotted them in Harry’s hair, moving Harry’s head how Louis wanted to deepen the kiss even further.
Harry moved to do the same to Louis. He loved Louis hair, loved how prettily Louis groaned when Harry tugged on it.
But he couldn’t. His arms were stuck. Tied together.
He rolled his hips enthusiastically, and Louis pulled away with a quiet laugh. “Knew you could get there. Knew you’d be so good for me.”
Louis sat back up, straddling Harry’s hips again. Harry licked his lips as Louis looked down on him.
“So beautiful, baby. So proud of you.”
Harry whined, because there was no way he could verbally express his total bliss.
Chapter 3: Kissing... in secrecy (Louis Tomlinson/Liam Payne)
Louis thinks there’s a nice sort of echo to the past; he and Liam back on a Spanish beach shooting The X Factor again.
His hands shook when he made the call, asking Liam to join him and be the guest judge. He knew it was silly, but his heart kicked up a fuss anyway. They had been on hundreds of beaches all around the world since that first fumbling kiss. It only happened that one time; he had been trying so hard to impress Liam–Liam who had actually made it through previous years and who everyone looked to as the leader, even though Louis was older. Liam who had such a strong voice and curly hair when he stepped out of the shower and who wanted this to work out as badly as Louis did. Louis had always been labeled the class clown, but he tended to shut down around Liam, nervous and shy because the class clown routine was notgoing to impress him. That secret kiss that happened in one of the tiny rehearsal rooms late at night when Louis was loopy from not enough sleep. The awkward laugh and the way Liam ran away meant Louis locked up any sort of hope for a redo.
And years passed and they became best friends and worldwide actual, real life, superstars and Louis tried his absolute hardest not to wank to him and mostly succeeded. The water fights on stage made that promise to himself a million times harder not to break. So sometimes he caved and then berated himself and swore he’d never do it again.
It ended as quickly as he began and Louis didn’t like to think about the past few years too closely because all of it sort of broke his heart.
And now they’re back, practically where they started. Lots of years wiser and much more jaded about the whole thing and on the opposite side of the judge/contestant dynamic, but back all the same.
They’re passing a joint back and forth on Liam’s balcony, leaning on the railing, after a long day listening to all the boys perform and they’ve settled into a comfortable silence.
“You ever think about it?” Liam asks.
“Hm?” Louis finishes his hit and passes it over to Liam. “About what?”
Liam scrubs a hand over through his hair. “You probably don’t even remember.” He takes a hit and coughs out some smoke. “That night, at judges house, when everyone else had gone to bed, and it was just us, figuring out those harmonies.”
Louis chokes on his spit. He assumed they were never going to talk about for the rest of their lives. “Yeah, Li, I remember.”
“You were my first boy kiss.”
“Yeah, I figured.”
“I’m sorry I laughed.” Liam held tight to the joint, past the point where he was supposed to pass after his puff puff, but Louis didn’t dare interrupt him. “I felt awful about that. Still do. It was just… I didn’t know how to deal with all of that, all at once.”
Louis shrugs. Not the first time he’s been called out for being too much. “It’s fine. My heart’s mostly patched up by now and it all worked out, right? Probably would’ve been a right disaster had anything come of it, then.”
Liam’s looking at him, a steady gaze that Louis can’t pull away from. “And now?”
Louis shakes his head. “Don’t open old wounds, Payno. It’s not the time to start something you can’t finish.” His heart did sew itself back together, but it had no choice. Liam was always there and it was never going to happen and his brain helpfully supplied the thread and needle and helped lock everything away.
Now there’d been long distance pining. The worst kind of pining. And less of an excuse not to, since it’s not like they’d send the band into ruin if things went south. So his head would be of no use.
Liam finishes the joint and flicks the butt out into the darkness.
“I can’t come out,” Liam says.
In the quiet of the night the ocean laps onto shore.
“Not asking you to,” Louis says.
Liam takes a step closer to Louis, he’s so close Louis can feel Liam’s intake of breath and he watches as Liam swipes a thumb across Louis’ lips. Then Louis’ eyes fall close and he misses seeing the way Liam leans in, but he can feel the beat of hesitation before Liam connects their lips.
This kiss is everything eighteen-year-old Louis dreamed it could be, soft and solid and sure. Liam brought his hands up, cradled Louis’ head, like he needed protection, like Liam was going to make sure he knew he was in good hands.
Chapter 4: Kissing... passionately (Louis Tomlinson/Greg James)
“Who’s that?” Louis points his beer bottle in the direction of the tall, fit guy talking to Niall at the bar.
“Greg?” Nick says. “Have you not met Greg?”
“You know him? Greg?” Louis downs the rest of his drink. “I need another, come with me, mate.”
Nick and Niall cottoned on pretty quickly to what was happening and made themselves scarce after only a handful of minutes. Excellent wingmen, them. Louis can even forgive them playing “Shake Ya Tailfeather” and giving a proud, and very unsubtle thumbs up when Louis realized. The only reason they’re forgiven is that it works.
Greg’s white-guy shimmy dance is terrible, but then he’s plastered to Louis’ back, a possessive arm slung around Louis’ chest, and he’s grinding mostly on beat against Louis.
It’s an early aughts hip-hop fest after that, and Greg’s dance moves get dirtier and more terrible as the night wears on. Louis’ thighs are burning from the amount of arse shaking (and the popped angle he’s got to maintain to keep his arse against Greg’s sizable… ahem) and he’s worked up a sweat. The heat between them is unbearable and Louis all but drops to his knees right then and there when Greg leans down and whispers in his ear, “Wanna get out of here?”
The cool early morning air hits Louis like a freight train as they step out from the pub turned nightclub. It sobers him up enough that he turns and reassesses Greg and makes sure this is what he wants to do with the rest of his night slash morning.
Greg must know that’s what Louis’ doing, perhaps he’s doing the same, because after a beat, he pops his hip and says, “Like what you see?”
Greg’s hairline is slick with sweat, his cheeks are pink, and Louis can see right through the cheeky attitude. Louis bites his lip and nods. Greg smiles down at him and cages him in against the rough brick wall. “Been thinking about kissing you all night,” Greg says.
Louis tips his head up. “What’re you waiting for?”
Greg has to hunch as he comes down to meet Louis. Louis’ going to make him work for it. He’s got one hand on Louis’ hip, the other tracing patterns on Louis’ neck, and he pauses before their lips meet. Goosebumps erupt along his skin. His hold on Louis tightens when he moves in the final inch.
The kiss is almost sweet at the beginning, chaste but pressing. Then Louis opens up for him and Greg doesn’t waste the opportunity. From then on it’s a dirty grind; Louis gasps for breath when he can, he’s up on his toes and working himself forward as Greg keeps a steady hold on him against the wall. Not even a wolf whistle as people pass by slows them down.
They kiss for long enough that Louis’ lips start to feel raw, and his whole body is on a knife’s edge of pleasure. They’re rutting against each other, and Greg’s such a fantastic kisser that Louis can’t bring himself to care that he’s going to come against a stranger’s leg, outside the pub, moaning into the night. As Greg stills and whimpers against Louis’ mouth, Louis’ already thinking about round two.
Chapter 5: Kissing... in grief (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
“Bad Day. Home late.” Louis sends the text from one of the subway stops that allows his data to connect to whatever else it needs to connect to so that the message will reach Harry’s phone. It’s the evening rush hour commute and Louis’ got his sunglasses on and has—small miracles—gotten a corner seat. He curls in on himself and hopes that no one with a visible disability gets on. He hates himself for thinking that, but just for tonight he needs this, an hour where he can crumple in anonymity and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist.
Louis hates that the world is still spinning. Hates that his company allows exactly three days off for grieving and then acts like he should be grateful for their kindness. He hates that everyone around him is living their lives while Louis’ has just crumbled all around him. He’s cursing gods and religion and fate and the concepts of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and ‘everything happens for a reason.’ He wants to burn the whole world to the ground as an exercise in expelling the all-consuming useless pressure building in his chest.
His eyes burn and he blinks away the tears.
It does little to ease the ache inside.
He takes the train to the end of the line, to Coney Island. It’s October and there’s a fierce wind and by the time the subway pulls into the stop with a deafening screech he’s the only one in the car. In a daze he walks down the ramp and past the storefronts, and then pulls his jacket close to his chest while waiting for the light to change.
Even on a too-cold fall night, up and down the boardwalk the benches are dotted with people. It’s quiet, as quiet as the city can be: the subway clacks by overhead and the street traffic honks obnoxiously and someone mumbles to themselves as they walk by.
But over it all is the roar of the ocean.
Louis’ the only person who ventures out to the sand. He starts walking toward the brightly-colored playground, but the handful of yards feels impossible to cross. He sits where he is, getting his business casual clothes dirty and digging his shoes into the sand. He should’ve checked for hypodermics or broken glass before he sat.
Time has already lost meaning, his life spreads out in from of him; impossibly long now. So he has no idea how much time has passed until a shadow passes over him. He looks up, and it’s Harry.
His face doesn’t have the pitying looks he had to endure since it happened. He just looks sad too, and Louis’ thankful for the lack of kids’ gloves. He doesn’t want to perform his emotions. He just wants to disappear for a while.
Harry takes Louis’s hands in his, and rubs them together in an attempt to warm him up. Louis rests his head on Harry’s shoulder and Harry kisses the crown of wind-swept hair. They sit together, silently, and watch the water relentlessly lap on the shore.
Chapter 6: Kissing... in danger (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
Louis knew it was bad idea. He never should’ve let it get this far.
His crush on Harry has been growing every day. Which is a disaster because Harry has his pick of anyone at school. With his dimples and his slow cadence and the unruly curls, never mind his charm. He has all the girls and (if Louis is anything to go by) most of the boys in his grade wrapped around his little finger (the one that sticks out like it's trying to escape).
And Louis’ just... Louis. Unfortunately, Harry knows that too because they have the same geography class and Harry had a front row seat when the teacher announced to the class that Louis “would never amount to anything.” Louis had only been goofing off to impress Harry. So, that backfired spectacularly.
Louis knows that he’s standing on this precipice of emotion, that his heart is liable to be shattered in a million pieces, that he’ll never recover if Harry finds out that Louis likes him. It’s dangerous, this tightrope walk Louis’ maintaining--he wants to be a good friend to Harry, but he also wants so much more with Harry.
Throwing a belated birthday party for Harry since he was out of town on the actual weekend of his birthday was a bad idea. Suggesting they play seven minutes in heaven was a bad idea. Not rigging the game--somehow--before Niall laughed wildly and proposed that it was Harry and Louis' turn was a bad idea.
And now he’s trapped in a very stuffy closet with the boy of his dreams and as he knows, absolutely no sense of self preservation.
His heart pounds dangerously again. A kiss in this situation could be laughed off as him following the rules for once. He’ll give it a go, they’ll joke about it, and by tomorrow morning Harry will have forgotten all about it.
“So,” Harry chuckles. And he sounds nervous, like he knows Louis likes him and he knows Louis’ going to want to try something in his game closet.
Louis chuckles right back. He balls his fists and tries very hard to stay on his side of tiny room that is most definitely getting smaller as each moment passes.
“It’ll be funny, right?” Harry says, a step closer than he needs to be. “It’ll be funny if we go out there and say we’ve been making out the whole time.”
Louis’ chuckle becomes a high-pitched manic cackle. “Yeah, it’d be a riot.”
Harry’s breath is hot on Louis’ cheek and Louis’ whole stomach contracts when Harry puts his hands on hands on Louis’ hips.
“I’m a terrible liar.”
“Then is it okay if I...” Harry trails off and his face is so close to Louis, if Louis moves at all their noses will bump.
Louis nods and there’s a jolt of electricity that threatens to kick his heart into overdrive when their noses brush together.
There’s exactly zero chance Louis’ heart will survive the night intact.
He closes the distance.
Chapter 7: Kissing... as a lie (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
After they both come, Louis lays in Harry’s arms and traces designs over the tattoos covering Harry’s skin. Harry loves those moments, when Louis is his alone, when Louis’ not distracted by the million other things in life, when Harry’s still smeared with the proof of Louis’ passion.
Louis stretches out against him. The moment’s about to end.
“Mmmmm,” Louis moans. “I need to...”
“Okay,” Harry says and then watches him walk away. After a few minutes, Harry sits up in bed and arranges the sheets around him so he won’t still be laid out, naked and wanton, when Louis returns from the bathroom.
Harry picks at the drying spunk on his hip. He’ll shower after.
Louis comes back, and picks up his phone and frowns. He looks around the room. He cups himself, like he wasn’t just in Harry, like Harry doesn’t already know all of his secrets.
“You know where my boxers are?” Louis asks. He’s already got his t-shirt and socks on.
“Yeah. They should be...” Harry flicks his wrist in the direction where he thinks he flung them after peeling them down Louis’ legs.
“Ah! Got them. Thanks.” He turns his back to Harry, shimmies them up his hips and then steps into his jeans. He’s all zipped and buttoned by the time he turns around.
“When--” Harry cuts himself off. It’s a question without an answer he wants to hear.
Louis tilts his head and his eyes linger over Harry’s body. “You’re so gorgeous.”
Harry averts his eyes.
“Oh, baby,” Louis coos. He kneels next to Harry on the bed. The side’s probably still warm. “I hate to leave you.”
He leans in and kisses Harry, soft and slow. Harry hates how easily he melts into it. How easy he is for Louis.
“I gotta go.”
Louis’ texting as he walks out into the hallway to let himself out.
Harry turns the shower on, and stands with his wrist in the cold stream of water, waiting until it’s warm enough for him to step in.
Chapter 8: Kissing... where it hurts (Harry Styles/Shawn Mendes)
“Shawn?” Harry taps him on the shoulder. Shawn flinches before he turns around and really, Harry of all people should know better. “Sorry. It’s Harry. Styles.”
“Hey,” Shawn says, voice full of confusion. He stands to give Harry a halfhearted ‘acquaintances who with a friend in common’ hug. “What are you doing in Muskoka?”
“Visiting some friends,” Harry says vaguely. “You? Are you from around here?”
“Toronto. But, yeah, needed some time away, I guess.”
“Yeah… I, uh, heard about—” The break up sounded too formal, maybe, for what Harry had heard Shawn and Niall were. Though to be fair, Harry had purposely avoided any and all discuss on the matter. It still stung, no matter how much time had passed and Harry wasn’t sure he’d ever fully be over it. Avoidance has always been a great solution.
“Yeah…” Shawn seems just as reluctant to talk about it as Harry. Shawn motions toward the empty chair at his table. “If you want to…”
“Uh, sure.” Harry shrugs in agreement. It’s not like he has anything better to do. His second album is ready to be released, and it’s the calm before the flurry of press and being ‘on’ again and the near constant worry that he’s going to reach out and say that he’s listened to all of Harry’s innermost confessions. And the more acute fear that he won’t get a reaction at all from him. The only thing on Harry's schedule today was running out here to this cafe, eating a sandwich lakeside, then eventually making it back to the cabin.
Shawn turns out to be great company. He’s self-deprecating and unfailingly polite and equally nervous about his upcoming release… for the same reasons Harry is, though that’s not explicitly stated. Harry sees the attraction, can understand why Niall chose this calm oasis after years of turbulent personalities layered on top of each other.
For the first time, he’s glad Niall fell into Shawn’s arms afterward. And a flipped jealousy hits him; jealous of Niall, and not Shawn.
“You want go for a walk?” Harry asks after their sandwiches and sparkling waters are cleared away. He squints into the sunlight reflecting off the smooth lake water. “It’s a gorgeous day.”
“There’s a trail,” Shawn offers, meeting Harry’s eyes. “Quiet. Almost grown over. Would get us back near where I’m staying.”
It’s an offering, a suggestion, but allows for an easy out, if either of them changes their mind. Harry nods.
Quarter of a mile into the woods, on the trail that Shawn promises is a marked, even if Harry can’t make out the last time anyone walked it, they stop. Birds sing to them, as Shawn slowly backs Harry against a tree.
“I want to see what I was competing against,” Shawn murmurs, his breath hot against Harry’s lips.
Harry appreciates the honesty. This, thing, isn’t going to linger. It’s what they need, now, to soothe over their pain. “Want to feel what he left me for,” Harry says over a choked breath.
Shawn leans in the rest of the way, and while it doesn’t lessen the pangs–-the sadness, the longing, the questioning of where it all fell apart–-they're muted for as long as their bodies are pressed together.
Chapter 9: Kissing... as a 'yes' (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Louis’ improv class is even more sparse than normal. He blames flu season and the winter storm threatening to unleash a frozen doom at any moment. But he wouldn’t miss improv for anything; it’s the one bright spot in an otherwise dreary day-to-day existence. Plus, Harry’s in his improv class.
When Harry arrives, he brings with him a gust of bone-chilling wind. Louis tucks his arms in his oversized hoodie and shouts, “Close the door, Curly!” Harry unwraps the scarf from around his face and pulls of his hat; he’s pink-cheeked and his hair is a messy and Louis is so in love with him. Maybe one day he’ll even let Harry know.
“Okay, now that we’ve got a quorum, we can begin,” their teacher says.
Louis was skeptical after his first improv experience, but he signed up for another session, and that’s when he met Harry. They hit it off and have been in the same class ever since. Now, Louis can’t imagine doing improv without Harry’s brand of slow, dry humor. Louis’ fine when he’s partnered up with anyone else from class, but he and Harry shine when they’re put together on stage.
After going through some exercises, the teacher has them break off into pairs, and Louis’ eyes immediately search out Harry’s. They smile at each other from across the room before drawing together like magnets.
“Each pair will have a trunk full of props to use,” the teacher explains after the three pairs are lined up. “Louis and Harry, you’ll be astronauts.” Louis tunes out, the teacher assigning everyone else roles, his brain already thinking about all the different directions this could go.
Harry pretends to get into a puffy space suit and holds a pretend helmet under his elbow. “Ready, Commander Tomlinson?”
Louis nods. He has a matching imaginary helmet tucked under his elbow too. “Ready as I’ll ever be. I’m glad you’re second in command, Styles. This mission depends on you and your very specialized knowledge.” Harry puffs out his chest proudly. “This all your gear?” Louis asks, pointing to the chest at their feet.
“Yes, everything I need for this trip is right in there. You want to inspect it?”
Louis bends over, giving Harry a view of his ass on display and opens up the chest. He barely contains his laugh as he pulls out the first few items: a matching lace panty and bra set, bright pink handcuffs, and a whip. He holds them up so Harry can see. “This is all you’ve packed for the trip?”
Harry bursts out laughing. It’s fair to say he does that more often than not, but Louis loves him all the more for it.
“Yes, Commander Tomlinson,” Harry’s voice dips low as he crowds into Louis’ space. “I know how dangerous this mission is, and if we’re up there, alone, I’d hate to die without knowing what it’s like to have your hands on me. I’ve wanted you for ages.”
Louis swallows thickly. His heart is pounding. It’s just improv, but he’s wanted to hear those words from Harry’s lips for so long. “I–” He tosses the whip back in the chest and holds the panties up to Harry’s body. “I think you’d look better than me in these.”
“What about this?” Harry takes another step closer and Louis can feel his body heat. He takes the handcuffs from Louis. He ducks his head even closer, so he’s whispering in Louis’ ear. Harry’s breath sends goosebumps over Louis’ neck. “This something you’re into?”
Louis looks into Harry’s eyes, sees the worry that he might’ve crossed the line, and Louis does the first thing he thinks of. He rocks up on his toes and kisses Harry firmly on the lips. After a split moment of what’s probably shock, Harry opens up for him, and Louis’ knees go weak as they’re finally kissing.
Louis’ awareness that they’re in improv class, slowly brings him back to the present. He pulls away for a breath and asks, “And?”
The whole class erupts into applause and the teacher mutters “finally.” And Louis and Harry share a cheeky smile and then take a bow.
I know exactly zero about improv, so the idea came from this WLIIA scene. It would be great if now people wrote a bunch of improv Larry fics.
Chapter 10: Kissing... after a small rejection (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Okay? You’re recording?” Louis looks at Harry, who’s looking down at the phone.
“Yep. I’m recording.”
“No one’s in line. This is perfect. Should I...” Louis motions toward the tray holding the detritus of their lunch: the paper wrappers from their burgers, the cardboard sleeve of the extra large fries they shared, and their two half-full cups of Coke.
“Nah.” Harry shakes his head, and his curls bounce. Louis loves the way they frame Harry’s face. And he loves to tug on them when he’s gently ribbing Harry; loves to dig his fingers into Harry’s scalp while they’re bumming around watching crappy cooking competition shows. There’s a lot Louis loves about Harry.
Harry, his best friend, who loves him back--platonically.
“Leave the tray here. We’ll hopefully be right back with more anyway.” Harry grins at him, dimples popping. His eyes are bright and mischievous. It’s the look Louis loves the most, and maybe why Louis continually proposes the most hair-brained ideas for them to try.
“Okay. Let’s go.” Louis stands and shoves his hands in his pockets as he takes a deep breath. He needs to be cool and collected.
The cashier--the same friendly girl who took their order not twenty minutes ago--gives him a smile when he walks up. He’d like one last reassuring smile from Harry, but he’s not sure where exactly Harry’s standing behind him. Hopefully he’s not being obvious about recording Louis, wherever he is.
“That burger was delicious,” Louis says.
“Great!” she chirps. “Glad to hear it.”
“Can I have a refill?” he asks.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“A burger refill. It was just so good.”
She stares for a long moment. “What?”
“Like the free drink refills?" Louis' heart pounds. "Can I get a burger refill?”
“Oh.” She’s looking at him like he has two heads and it's his first time out in public. “No.”
“Why not?” Louis keeps up his cheeky, peppy attitude.
“Um... that’s not how it works?”
Louis looks up at the board in confusion. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. If you want another one, you can order one though.”
“But then I’d have to pay for it?”
Louis bites down on his lip to keep from laughing. Sir.
“Would you like another?” she asks.
Louis sighs, long and loud, like it’s a hardship. “No. But thank you anyway.” He puts on his best dejected look for the cashier then spins around. His face breaks into a smile as soon as he sees Harry trying to hold in his laughter. The phone in his hand shakes and the Louis knows the footage is going to look terrible.
Harry laughs his loudest, barking laugh once Louis stumbles into him, then Louis’ laughing too as they shuffle as one four-legged creature back to their table. Harry slides into the booth and Louis slides in next to him instead of returning to his chair. Their thighs are pressed together and Louis can’t pull himself away. He rests his head on Harry’s shoulder as they catch their breath. Then he looks up at Harry, making his eyes big and pouting his lips, and says, “H, I was rejected.”
Harry’s face goes soft. His eyes flick down to Louis’ mouth and Louis’ whole body flushes. “Their loss,” Harry says quietly, before locking eyes with Louis and moving in for a kiss.
Louis’ breath catches. But, it’s over almost before it began. Just as Louis registers Harry’s lips on his, Harry’s pulling back and laughing awkwardly, a fake laugh, as though Louis can’t tell the difference.
Louis’ frozen to his seat. Harry’s up and cleaning away their garbage before Louis has a chance to ask for more.
“Ready to go?” Harry asks. His cheeks are pink and he’s looking just past Louis’ shoulder.
“Yeah,” Louis says. He likes me! Louis realizes. He stands and takes Harry’s hand in his. Harry looks down in confusion then back up at Louis with a shy smile. Louis’ already planning his next scheme, one that will, for sure, involve more kissing.
I used this rejection prompt!
Chapter 11 is a continuation of this same 'verse, but these two chapters can also stand alone.
Chapter 11: Kissing... to pretend (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
This is a continuation of the same 'verse from chapter 10, but they can also stand alone.
“I have an idea,” Louis says, as they’re driving back to Niall’s house.
“I’ve heard that before,” Harry smirks as he plugs the aux cord into his phone.
“What if...” Louis pauses, considering for a moment if he wants to rock the boat already. They just had their first kiss and Harry skittered away immediately. But, Harry did technically kiss him, so maybe Harry needs a teeny-tinsy little push in the right direction to realize that Louis is head-over-heels crazy for him.
“Yeah...?” Harry prompts.
“What if, we played a prank on Niall and Liam.”
Harry bends one leg under his body and twists to look at Louis. Louis keeps his eyes on the road, lest he be tempted to stare into Harry’s gorgeous green eyes and accidentally drive off the road. “Sure. Yeah. I’m always up for that.”
“That’s why I love you,” Louis says. It’s one of many reasons that Louis’ confessed his love to Harry, but Harry never takes him seriously. One day he will.
“What’s the prank?”
“Let’s tell them we’re together. Like... dating.” Louis’ eyes dart over to measure Harry’s reaction. He seems to have turned to stone, so Louis bites his lip and forces his eyes back on the road.
“Um...” Harry clears his throat and looks out his window. “Yeah. That’d be a riot. We should totally...” He seems to get lost in his thoughts, and Louis’ about to make sure he’s cool with it when Harry snaps back to reality. “Cool. Yeah. Let’s do it.”
“Sick.” Louis taps his fingers on the steering wheel, and bobs his head to the music. He hopes this plan won’t backfire.
“So... what do we have to do?”
Louis looks over and catches Harry’s eye. “I guess just like... hold hands? Be touchy feely? Use pet names?”
“Um. Okay.” Harry looks confused, but then the song changes to one of his favorites and he turns the volume way up and starts thrash-dancing in his seat.
“Did it work?” Niall asks, the second the walk into his basement.
“Nah.” Harry rubs his hand over Niall’s hair, messing it up. “Of course not. But it was fun to try.”
“You get the video?” Liam asks, looking up from his video game.
“Yep. My boy pulled through.” Louis gives Harry a grin before sitting down and patting his lap. He wraps a hand around Harry’s wrist and gently tugs, pulling him down. Harry goes easily, landing in Louis’ lap and wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Louis links his arms around Harry’s waist.
Liam watches them, then goes back to his game. “You bring us anything?”
“You didn’t ask for anything,” Harry says.
“You should’ve just known!” Niall rolls his eyes.
“Don’t roll your eyes him,” Louis growls.
“Easy. No need to defend his honor.”
Harry rests his head on top of Louis’. “Thanks, baby,” he coos.
Louis’ arms reflexively tighten around Harry.
Neither Liam nor Niall bats an eye at Louis and Harry.
“We might have to take it up a notch,” Harry whispers in the shell of Louis’ ear. Goosebumps erupt down Louis' neck.
“Yeah. I think so,” Louis whispers back.
Harry licks his lips, and Louis does too. Then Louis’ smiling as he leans in to relive the single best experience he’s ever had. This time Harry doesn’t pull away. Instead, he melts into it, opening up easy and inviting Louis in. They kiss and they kiss and they kiss, getting to know how each other tastes, what they each like, how well they fit together. Louis tangles his fingers in Harry’s curls and holds him in place, as Harry jerks his hips.
“Guys, if you’re going to fuck can you at least spare our eyes and go into the bathroom?”
Louis pulls away with a giggle and a lingering peck.
“You guys suck,” Harry says. “You didn’t even react.”
“To what?” Liam frowns and keeps mashing his buttons.
“To us pretending we’re together,” Louis explains.
“What?” Niall’s eyes are finally drawn away from his phone and he looks up in confusion. “Pretending?”
“Yeah,” Harry says, his nails gently scratching Louis’ nape.
“I fully thought you two had been together for a while and were hiding it. I was just relieved I didn’t have to pretend not to notice any more.”
“Yeah, me too,” Liam says.
“Oh.” Louis looks at Harry’s bright smile. “Are we the last to know?” he asks him quietly.
“Think so,” Harry says, as he leans forward to kiss Louis again.
Niall groans. “Oh, no. Now they’re going to be insufferable.”
After they’re hit with the third throw pillow, Harry stands, pulling Louis up too. “Let’s get out of here, boyfriend.”
“Sounds good, boyfriend.”
Another pillow hits them as they’re holding hands, making their exit.
Chapter 12: Kissing... out of spite (Louis Tomlinson/Greg James)
Louis never imagined that he’d end up on Grindr. He and his boyfriend had gotten together before the app’s popularity took off, and even though he was only in his mid-twenties, he felt settled. Nick had a good, steady job managing the integrated marketing department of Z100 and while Louis’ songwriting checks were sometimes infrequent, he was finding it more lucrative than anyone in his family had expected. Not that he liked to point that out to them, very often. Plus, he had a day job at studio where he could record when there were empty rooms. Nick had thought it romantic, the idea that one day Louis’ songs would be played on the radio station where Nick worked.
He and Nick had been happy for years, was the point. They had their dogs and their summer share out on Fire Island and their combined friend groups and Louis imagined that the rest of their lives would be similarly intertwined.
So, to say it was a shock the day Nick sat him down and said he wanted ‘to be single for a while’ because ‘he wasn’t ready to settle down’ would be an understatement. Louis reacted with stunned silence then vicious name calling, and then uncontrollable sobs, and finally, once Nick left with his already packed suitcase, more stunned silence.
But that was all in the past. Louis picked up his shattered heart, taped it back together, found a roommate slash new best friend, and swore off guys for a while… with the exception of Fleet Week. He wasn’t a monk, after all.
It wasn’t until Niall, his new roommate slash best friend, came home one night, surprising Louis with his favorite takeout and a side of bad news. “I was on Grindr this afternoon.”
“It’s been a while. I was hoping to find someone who–-”
Louis wiggled his eyebrows obnoxiously.
“Right. Anyway." Niall continued. "I saw Nick, I think. Your Nick.”
“He’s not my Nick.” Those days were over and Louis’ scotch-taped heart was just fine. Hearing that Nick was on Grindr should've been a surprise, considering why he broke up with Louis. But still. It's possible the rips were still painfully visible under the scotch tape.
Niall gave him a quick pat on the back. “I took a screenshot.”
“Creeper.” Louis resisted the urge to tackle Niall for his phone.
Niall held his phone up and Louis choked on his pineapple fried rice. There was Nick, in a black and grey flannel, at some event, with a huge smile on his face. Louis didn’t recognize the shirt and something ugly settled in his stomach.
Louis scoffed. “I could be on Grindr.”
“Yeah,” Niall sounded confused. “Of course.”
“If Nick’s out there, hooking up with… with… with whoever, then what’s stopping me?”
“I could… help…” Niall hedged. “If you wanted. Like, with setting it up.”
“Great. Yes.” Louis took a huge bite. It was probably time to get back on the bike, er, dick, as the saying went. “Let’s do it. I’m going to get laid.”
Niall laughed and gave him an enthusiastic fist bump.
After they finished eating, Niall set most of it up. But when it came to the little blurb, he wanted Louis to weigh in. Louis took his phone out of Niall’s hand and typed and then erased a few different options. Something sexy. Something funny. Something earnest. With a sigh, he went with something honest. I’m here out of spite. He clicked okay and there he was, live on Grindr, open to hook ups.
It didn’t take long for the offers to start coming in.
Louis ignored most of them. No one quite caught his eye, even though there were some tall, preppy-leaning guys, which was his type to a T. He slept soundly that night, secure in the knowledge that he still had it, and there were options, at least, after Nick; should he want to explore them.
At work the next morning, Louis checked the app again. He did a spit-take, spraying his coffee across his keyboard when he saw one of the guys who had contacted him.
Greg was one of Nick’s coworkers. And he was on-air talent, which always rankled Nick since that was his dream job that he had given up on after college. Plus he was tall. Taller than Nick, even. And he was quite good looking. And funny. And athletic. And charitable.
He couldn’t have picked a better person if he had tried.
Louis responded, “You free tonight?” Short. Simple. To the point.
Greg responded back immediately that he was available, and after they had made plans to meet up at a bar not too far from Louis’ work, the conversation continued. Louis was glued to his phone when he walked to his favorite bodega for lunch, and distracted by their messaging during his afternoon meetings, and by the time he was walking out to meet him, Louis was legitimately excited to hang out with Greg. They had talked before, at industry events, and he had always been nice enough, but apparently Louis hadn’t been paying close enough attention.
He wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
Louis stood at the empty end of the bar and waited with his tequila soda. Greg let him know he was running a few minutes late but was off the subway and just a block away. Considerate too.
Louis watched Greg walk in, and look around for him. Seeing his face light up when he saw Louis made Louis’ face light up too. He felt a bit like an idiot, letting his emotions get the better of him like that, but also he was giddy at seeing Greg walk his way.
They hugged hello and Greg smelled masculine and light at the same time and Louis wanted to tuck himself into Greg’s side and stay there all night.
Once Greg had his drink as well, he turned to Louis and with another bright smile asked, “Spite?”
“Oh. Well. You know. Nick and I...” Louis trailed off. He didn’t want to waste the night thinking about Nick. “Anyway, time to get back on the horse, so to speak.”
“I was dumbfounded when I heard,” Greg said. “I always had quite a crush on you. Couldn’t believe he’d willingly give you up.”
Louis felt the blush rising on his cheeks and was glad he had chosen somewhere dark.
As the night continued, and Louis’ cheeks hurt from smiling so much--he hadn’t laughed that much in ages--and he and Greg already made plans for another date, he was thankful he had chosen somewhere dark for another reason.
Greg backed him against the nearest wall, and ran a gentle hand down Louis’ arm. “This okay?” he asked, voice gruff.
“More than.” Louis went up on his toes, then tilted his face toward Greg’s.
It still wasn’t enough and he waited a moment: took in the dark look in Greg’s eyes, the peek of his tongue as he licked his lips, the hitch in his breath before he finally moved in.
The kiss was long and languorous. They had no where else to be and Louis let himself get lost in the feeling of Greg surrounding him.
Eventually they pulled apart, and Greg let out a low moan. “Want so much. Want everything with you.”
“I’m right here,” Louis said with a smirk.
“Yeah. But I’m going to do this right. Only a kiss on the first date. Want to take it slow, want to learn exactly how to please you.”
Greg was meant to be a rebound. But it turned out he made Louis happier than anyone else ever had. And when during the next summer, they ended up at a summer share next door to Nick’s, Louis figured it probably all worked out the way everyone wanted. Louis had an even better man at his side, and Nick had a revolving door of young drunk men.
Louis didn’t even try to make sure the sound of his and Greg’s laughter didn’t waft down the beach, as Nick perpetually scowled at the waves.
After all, the best revenge was a life well lived.
Chapter 13: Kissing... as a distraction (Louis Tomlinson/Nick Grimshaw)
“Nick, my feet are going to fall off,” Louis whines for the fourth time in five minutes.
“It’s around here somewhere,” Nick mutters, staring at the open Google Maps app lighting up his face.
They arrived in Montreal later than they had planned, due to a minor car-searching snafu at the border caused by Nick apparently trying to smuggle an entire produce section out of Vermont.
Unfortunately, that small (er, ridiculously long) bump in the road meant that they missed their anniversary dinner reservation. It also meant their airbnb host was unavailable to hand off the keys at the appointed time so they had to wait for them to arrive. Which would be fine, in theory but Louis had long passed feeling peckish and was now practically feral. And, Louis didn’t have so much as an apple to tide him over as his hanger slowly got the best of him… because Nick’s slip up meant they were all confiscated.
“Nicholas,” Louis snaps. “I swear on all things holy that if you don’t pick a goddamn restaurant in the next three seconds I’m going to leave you.”
“If you don’t want to spend our anniversary together than leave. I deserve better.” Nick pops a hip, eyebrows raised in a challenge, before he looks back down at his phone, muttering. His head snaps back up to look Louis in the eye and he adds. “This is supposed to be the best poutine in the city and if we can’t dine at Toqué! then you better believe I’m getting you the next best thing.”
“Dine” Louis scoffs, mocking Nick. “You should consider yourself lucky that I’ve stuck around this long.”
Nick rotates his phone in his hand, looks up in confusion across the street, then back at Louis. “It’s right here, your highness,” he says, pointing to a neon monstrosity. “You can stop being an ass and come have a nice dinner with me or you can find your own dinner.”
At this point he’s coming close to eating his own shoe, but poutine will do.
Spinning on his heel, Nick waits at the crosswalk. Louis follows. Because he really is quite hungry, as much as he needs a break from Nick after the extended car ride.
They get settled in their booth, and Nick orders for them both–something Louis normally finds charming in an old-fashioned, stupid, sort of way. But this time it sets off another flair of annoyance.
Nick plasters on his fakest smile when the waitress walks away. “Not exactly plan A, but this isn’t too bad.” The whole ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ thing normally works.
But not tonight.
“It’s shit, Nick.” It’s louder and more biting than Louis truly intends, and Nick rears back.
Instead of coming back with another cutting barb, Nick clenches his jaw. He’s been so much better at relaxing his jaw–where he carries stress–and his headaches have mostly disappeared. Louis waits another moment. But Nick’s resolute, staring out the window, unblinking.
The noise of the restaurant, glasses clinking and loud belly laughs and the group of co-eds cheering for the Habs playing on TV mounted on the corner, washes over Louis as he and Nick sit in silence.
When the waitress returns with their drinks, Nick gives her an easy smile, then avoids Louis’ eyes as he drinks half his pint in one go.
“Easy,” Louis says, softly.
Nick’s jaw clenches again, the bone pushing out against his skin. He looks up at the TV then, keeps his eyes locked on the screen, even though he’s never watched a minute of hockey before.
And Louis knows he’s been a little shit. It’s not like it’s brand new information that he acts out when frustrated; Nick’s been with him for five years, and now, officially, married for one. Nick’s not expecting an apology, Louis knows that. It’s well documented between the two, Louis’ complete inability to admit when he’s wrong, or has crossed the line. Louis’ working on it. He is. He just… it’s easier, sliding back into their old patterns. Letting time pass, letting them cool off, until they tentatively, gently, return to their normal.
But it’s their anniversary. And Nick really did plan this whole thing for them and it’s probably not entirely Nick’s fault that they were caught up at the border. Louis’ even willing to admit–to himself–that had he actually packed the night before, like Nick suggested, and not waited until after they were supposed to have already left to figure out what he wanted to wear all weekend, that the trip probably would’ve gone a little, a lot, smoother.
Louis wants to smooth his thumb over the stubble covering Nick’s sharp jawline. But Nick’s across the table and still not looking in Louis’ direction and Louis’ not sure how to close this gap between them, tonight. He picks at his napkin.
The waitress gets another bright smile from Nick as she slides the bowls of fries covered in gravy and blobs of… cheese? in front of them. Louis pokes at it with his fork.
“Cheese curds,” Nick says, reading Louis’ mind.
“What the fuck are cheese curds?”
Nick blinks twice, then rolls his eyes and digs in.
Louis honestly hadn’t meant it that way–accusatory and grossed out. He has no idea what cheese curds are or why they’re on top of fries and gravy.
But it’s got to be better than shoe leather, so he shoves a heaping bite into his mouth.
It’s salty and has a bit of spice and the cheese curds have a spring to them which contrasts with the softness of the fries and the whole thing is fucking delicious.
A few bites in, and he’s already feeling better, his mind’s hunger-fog clears, the anger disappears, he sits up straighter and has another bite. Nick’s still hunched over, head down, and won’t raise his eyes to meet Louis’.
It’s his fault Nick’s not enjoying this meal he had so looked forward to, and as the rest of his brain and emotions go back to status quo, the guilt eats at him.
He kicks Nick gently, without a fully formed plan. Nick looks up, confused. Louis smiles, and the one Nick returns is half-hearted at best. He might be shit at apologies and acting like a grown-ass man, but he is pretty good at making Nick laugh.
He reaches across the table and rubs at Nick’s fist around his near-empty pint glass. Nick looks up again, and Louis gives a forkful of poutine a lip-smacking kiss. “It’s delicious,” Louis says, before shoving it in his mouth.
“Told ‘ya.” There’s a bare hint of a smile there, and it’s possible Louis can salvage the night.
Now that he’s got Nick’s attention back, he really lays into it, over-exaggeratedly making out with another forkful, eyes closed, tongue wagging, until he hears a snort of laughter. Then he eats it, and picks up another forkful to repeat the process, until he gets a peal of laughter.
After he swallows the last bite he can possibly eat, he licks his lips again, then has a few sips of his beer to wash down the saltiness. He inhales deeply, slowly exhales, then takes Nick’s hands in his, across the table.
“Thank you, dinner was amazing.”
Nick nods, a sheepish smile on his face, and his cheeks flushed.
“Nick,” Louis says, then bites his lip as he tells himself just to say it. “I’m sorry I was such a dickhead today and ruined our anniversary.”
Nick tilts his head and through his giant smile he lets out a huge burst of laughter. “Holy shit. Never thought I’d see the day.”
“You absolutely deserve better but since for some reason I’m the lucky fuck you ended up choosing, I’m going to do better by you. I promise. I’ve got the rest of our lives to prove it to you.”
Nick squeezed Louis’ hands. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Chapter 14: Kissing... out of anger (Louis Tomlinson/Nick Grimshaw)
content warning for homophobia in this one.
I was reading an article about the queer history of Brooklyn and couldn't stop thinking about Tony Bonner's Supper Club, the "first true gay bar in Brooklyn. The management used a series of flashing lights whenever police entered to warn “boys to stop dancing with one another.” Police raids prompted a 1963 Times exposé and eventually led to its closure." So while the dates are not specifically mentioned here, it's set in the 50s.
Tony Bonner’s Supper Club is where Louis feels the freest, the most him, the truest version of himself.
When it first opened, it was the talk of the neighborhood. More than once, taking out the trash, Louis ended up roped into a conversation where a neighbor tutted, brows drawn, worried what was going to happen to their block now that they were going to be around the corner. Louis nodded and didn’t let on that they were already living on their block.
Louis wanted to go to the rumored spot, he knew that his confirmed bachelor status wasn’t going to change, and he had urges, but not the wherewithal to figure out how to act on them. How to find other men. A bar full of people like him opening so close—he passed by it every day on his way to and from work—was wondrous and full of possibility and also terrifying.
It wasn’t until one desperately dark and lonely night, when the thought of spending one more night by his self and hiding in his apartment was more than he could take, and finally overpowered his fear of one of neighbors catching him sneaking in.
That first night was a revelation. It was better than he imagined, full of men like him, dressed like him and looking at other men like him. Looking was something Louis never allowed himself, so he gorged himself that first night, drinking everyone in, overwhelmed with the possibilities. Unafraid of consequences.
It didn’t take him long to fall into the habit of going as often as he dared. He didn’t often dance, preferring instead to table hop and chat with whoever caught his interest.
But some nights… some nights he lets loose. Nights like tonight when he finds a tall guy—Nick, another regular with whom he’s shared extended eye contact, a guy who ticks all his boxes, but seems just as nervous to take the first step—and a swinging beat and his blood’s electric as his body’s pressed against another. There’s something in the air, a wildness that doesn’t come over Louis often, and he wants more. More than cardigans and khakis acting as buffers and more than some soft smiles and more than a simmering heat he’ll take care of later that night alone in his own bed.
His wildness feels contagious. Nick’s interested, pressed tight against Louis, he can feel that obviously enough. And there’s a heat in his eyes that Louis’ never seen before. And with Nick’s large hand on his back, his wide, kind eyes directed at Louis, Louis feels safe in way he hasn’t felt in years. So Louis’ talking himself into taking a large leap, going up on his toes, and pressing his lips against Nick’s.
He’s just decided that he can’t wait another second when the lights start flashing. Louis’ been there before when it’s happened, the warning management has in place for all the dancing fellas to separate, because the cops had shown up. Every time, Louis’ been struck with just how fucked up the situation is, even just sitting at a table, pretending to be interested in the food in front of him. This is the first time he’s been on the dance floor, in a man’s arms, when it happens and he finds it unimaginably cruel. Everything he’s wanted for years and years is right there, inches away, then torn out of his hands as Nick leaps back, then takes a few extra steps to be safe. He clears his throat and gives a sort of apologetic shrug and turns to walk to the washroom. Louis watches him go.
But as the door swings closed behind Nick, Louis’ suddenly fiercely indignant about that chance being taken away from him.
So he stalks after Nick.
He pushes the door open so hard it bounces off the wall. Nick’s standing at the sinks, knuckles white as he grips the porcelain, and his head’s bowed. His head snaps up though, once Louis steps up beside him.
The bathroom’s empty and Louis’ never been more thankful for anything else in his life. He slides one hand around the back of Nick’s neck, thumbing at the short hairs at his nape, and the other hand he places squarely on Nick’s jaw. Louis raises himself onto his toes as he easily pulls Nick down, and they meet somewhere in the middle. Nick smells of the same Old Spice aftershave Louis’ uses, as Louis kisses him hard. Nick opens up easily and Louis invites himself in, reveling in the way his heart sings and how right it feels.
The kiss doesn’t last more than five seconds, because despite his bravado, Louis really doesn’t fancy a trip to jail, and anyone could walk right in. But he pulls away slowly, swaying in place as he takes one last deep inhale.
“You going to be here tomorrow?” Nick asks quietly.
“If you are,” Louis responds.
Nick’s eyes dart around the room quickly, then he ducks down for one last peck against Louis’ lips. “I’ll see you then, darling,” Nick says as he squeezes Louis’ hand and walks out, leaving Louis behind to smile dopily at his reflection, and he can’t help but bring his fingers to his lips, heart speeding up at the promise of what’s to come.
Chapter 15: Kissing... goodnight (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
“Lou,” Harry sing-songed. “Louuuu,” he repeated, louder and longer when Louis didn’t answer immediately. “Louuuuuu.”
Louis had been helping Liam with his sociology homework over text, but Harry was infinitely more interesting, so Louis dropped his phone on the armrest. Louis was at one end of the couch, his ankle crossed over his other knee, and Harry was sprawled, face up, on the other two-thirds of it. Harry’s calves dangled off the side and he kicked the couch with his heels in an offbeat rhythm.
“Yes, Hazza?” Louis asked. He turned towards Harry, putting his arm across the top of the couch.
“Lou, dinner was so good.”
“Oh yeah?” Louis had purposefully not asked about Harry’s dinner with Nick. Nick quite clearly had a crush on Harry, and though Harry was free to love who he loved, Louis immediately, and perhaps unfairly, hated anyone who also had a crush on Harry. But just as Harry was free to love who he loved, Louis was free to pretend he wasn’t utterly in love with his very hot and very kind and very silly roommate.
Not that Harry necessarily loved Nick. So far, it seemed purely platonic from Harry’s side, but Louis was waiting for the day when Harry realized that Nick was quite the catch and left Louis’ hopes crushed. Nick was everything Louis wasn’t: tall, connected, fashionable, rich. Surely it was just a matter of time until Harry’s platonic admiration of Nick became something else.
Harry stretched his arms above his head and smacked Louis’ chest with the back of his hands. “Oops.”
“Dinner was so good.” Harry tended to repeat himself when he was drunk, and Louis knew he had drunk his share while he was out by the way Harry had stumbled into the apartment, kicked his shoes off with twin thuds as they hit the wall, then came out of his bedroom in an oversized orange tank and tiny white shorts. The very same tiny white shorts that Louis actively avoided looking at directly whenever Harry wore them. Harry looked positively indecent with his long legs and cute butt.
“Have you ever eaten Wa—Wag—Wagyu?” Harry stumbled over the word as he turned so he was half on his side, craning his neck to look at Louis.
“Don’t hurt yourself. And no, I’ve never had Wagyu. Steak’s steak, isn’t it?”
“Noooo…” Harry turned all the way around, so he was lying on his stomach. His knees were still on the armrest, and his feet pointed toward the ceiling. “You have to try it sometime, Lou.”
“Maybe if I had some rich fancy pants boyfriend to buy me some, I would.”
Harry stuck his finger into the loose, gaping armholes Louis had cut out of one of his ancient shirts, and yanked. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t afford something like that. And I don’t have a Nick,” Louis couldn’t help the face he made at Nick’s name, “to buy me nice dinner.”
“Is that what you want?” Harry yanked his finger again, pulling on Louis’ homemade tank.
“If it’s as good as you said, maybe I do.” It was a lie, and Harry was probably going to call him out on it.
“No…” Harry looked up at him and gave an exaggerated pout. “A sugar daddy.”
“A sugar daddy? No, Hazza, that’s not something I actually want.” The all I want is you went unsaid.
“Oh good.” Harry relaxed, and his finger trailed down Louis’ side. Louis sucked in a ragged breath.
“Less competition for you to find one?”
Harry’s pout returned. “No. I don’t want one either,” he said, a bit petulantly.
“Well. Great. Glad we sorted that out.”
Harry yanked his finger again, pulling Louis’ shirt taut. “I like your nipples,” Harry said.
Louis was pretty sure Harry was drunker than he was acting. “Oh. Um. Thanks?”
“They’re tiny. I’ll have to be careful with them.”
“Hazza, what are you talking about?”
But Harry was already shifting, crawling forward, and into the arm holes.
“Harry? Are you…”
Harry was still moving, turning over until he was on his back, on Louis’ legs, with his arms tucked into Louis’ shirt. “Cozy? Yes.”
Louis held his arms out to the side. He wasn’t sure where to put them, now that their normally non-existent personal space totally disappeared. On the other hand, if Harry got cozy, Louis could too, even without alcohol as an excuse. He wrapped one arm around Harry’s middle, as if to protect him from falling off the couch. He rubbed his hand against the soft skin of Harry’s waist, and was reminded, again, just how gone for this boy he was.
“Mmm, feels good,” Harry slurred. His eyes had fallen shut.
“Are you going to sleep on me?” Louis threaded his other hand through Harry’s curls, careful not to mess them too much.
Harry turned his head and kissed Louis’ stomach. Goosebumps erupted over Louis’ skin, as his abs contracted. “G’nite, Lou.”
Louis pet him some more, then waited until his breathing had evened out, and said softly, “I love you.”
He wasn’t expecting it when Harry nodded slightly, then murmured, “I’m in love with you, too.”
Hours later, after Louis moved Harry out of his shirt and walked him to bed with a steadying arm around his waist, Harry asked to be spooned. Louis laid down behind him, and fell asleep with curls in his face, wondering how much Harry would remember in the morning, or if Louis would have the balls to bring it up.
He hugged Harry tighter, and nodded off.
Chapter 16: Kissing... discreetly (F/F -- Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
It was New Year’s Eve and in just a handful of minutes, when the clock struck midnight, they’d officially be living in the year 2000. Harry’s parents held an annual New Year’s Eve party, and they never cared how much Harry and her friends drank, so for the past three years, their party had been co opted by a basement full of teens.
Lou’s first beer was handed to her by one of the cool freshman who must’ve heard about the party somehow—not that it was a secret. Everyone knew the good gossip that’d be shared once they got back to school would be happening at this party. It should’ve been strange that a man old enough to be Lou’s grandpa poured her a glass of champagne once she was done with her beer… but that’s the kind of night it was.
The architecture of the house allowed for pockets of people to congregate, all at the same party, but falling into fairly stereotypical subgroups. The athletes, baseball players, swimmers, and their cheerleader girlfriends, ringed the pool table that was down a step from the wet bar area, where the artsy nerds, living it up on their big night out, had stationed themselves, along with the creeper adults who were reliving their glory days instead of staying upstairs with the rest of the adults. The stoners were in the back-most room, with the sliding glass door that lead out to the dark lawn between houses where they could smoke under the pretense that no one knew what they were doing. There was a dance party in the garage. And in front room with the tv and the couches and the lazy-boys, a group of people were watching the ball drop ceremony from New York City.
Harry, as hostess, flitted between all these groups seamlessly, making her rounds all night, even as her footing became less steady. It was a testament to just how lovely Harry was, that all these different groups were welcome, and more than that, friendly with her. Lou, Harry’s best friend in the entire universe, made the rounds with her, all the while trying to hide just how fond of Harry she was.
The captain of the baseball team tried to loop them into the next round of pool. Harry looked at Lou and shrugged, leaving it up to Lou to decide. The boys and girls standing around waiting for their decision were all fine, Lou had nothing against them. But the lights over the pool table were so bright and everyone’s attention would be shifting around the room, following the action. Lou tipped her head back and finished her glass of champagne. She shrugged a shoulder too, trying to look apologetic as she said, “Sorry. Need a refill.”
Harry said to the group at large that they’d be back later.
Lou looped her arm through Harry’s, and they walked arm-in-arm to the bar. They’d been friends since middle school, when Lou moved into town, and they were always affectionate, so no one blinked an eye. Maybe they would’ve, if they ever noticed the way Lou thumbed across Harry’s skin when they held hands, or thought to read more into the way they were always smiling at each other across tables. But Lou found that most people were terribly unperceptive to things not directly affecting them.
Which worked in her favor.
This thing between them, Lou and Harry, was still new. The touches weren’t, necessarily, but the touches that lead to something else, kisses and caresses, the touches that also came with sweet whispered words of love. Those were new. They were still enjoying their clandestine love, reveling in their secret, making them feel even closer to each other.
“What do you want?” Harry asked lowly.
Lou wanted a lot. But at the moment there was only one thing Harry could give her. “Screwdriver,” Lou whispered.
Harry smiled, a different one that everyone else got. The smile for Lou was soft, the affection shining though. Her whole face went dopey. Lou couldn’t get enough.
“Come with me,” Harry said. She led Lou into tiny storage room off the wet bar. It wasn’t much bigger than the fridge pushed against the back wall and a few stacked 24-pack cans of soda. Lou wrapped her hand around Harry’s wrist and squeezed.
“I got the orange juice you like,” Harry said, proud.
“Pulp?” It was the superior OJ and Lou refused to entertain arguments about it.
“All the pulp.”
Harry was so pretty, with her curls cascading to her shoulders and her smart green eyes and her figure that Lou was slightly obsessed with mapping out, as often as she could. And Harry was so kind. Maybe they were still in a honeymoon phase, but Lou had never been happier. “Thank you.”
“Kept it back here so no one would drink it before you.” Harry’s face was lit up by the open fridge lights. She handed over the carton of juice to Lou, and her eyes flicked toward the open door leading out to the party. Harry shifted her hips out of the way as she closed the fridge door.
Lou looked behind her, her heart pounding, and when it seemed like no one was paying any attention to them at all, she took a step closer to Harry, backing her up against the fridge door.
Lou felt flush as she watched Harry’s chest rise and fall as she breathed heavily, now that Lou was in her space. There was a lot she wanted to do with that chest, namely lick and tease and pinch Harry’s nipples until she was squirming under Lou, but they had hours to wait until that could happen. Not until the party mostly cleared out and they could sneak up to Harry’s room instead of passing out on the basement floor like everyone else. For now, Lou thought she might be able to get away with a kiss.
One fleeting kiss that would have to hold them over until the next private moment they found, in the new year, the new decade, the new millennium. There was no one else Lou wanted to be with when the clock struck midnight, even if they couldn’t sloppily make out on the dance floor like she knew some other couples would end up doing.
She caught Harry’s gaze, then Lou’s eyes were drawn down to her plush lips. They licked their lips at the same time; Lou’s tasted like cherry chapstick and she wondered what Harry tasted like tonight. She looked back up to see Harry silently questioning, practically daring Lou, to kiss her. Lou gave a small nod, let out a deep breath, and moved in. The kiss was fleeting, just their lips crashed together for a moment. Lou wasn’t willing to risk lingering, and besides, even that quick touch sent a thrill through Lou’s body.
Harry whined when Lou pulled away. “More,” she said, gripping Lou’s forearm.
“Later,” Lou promised. She’d find a way to sneak them away later in the night. Maybe no one would notice them going the bathroom at the same time. “Now? Vodka.”
Lou took a loud breath, shot Harry a flirty smile, and shook her ass as she turned around.
Harry put her hand on Lou’s lower back as she followed her out of their private enclave and back into the crowded party.
Chapter 17: Kissing... on a scar (Niall Horan/Shawn Mendes)
Niall loves these quiet moments in bed best.
He loves holding hands and laughing with friends at dusk during a cookout. He loves the frenetic energy of writing, creating, together. He loves grumpy mornings when their coffee hasn’t kicked in yet and they bicker about what to have for breakfast. He loves the schoolboy crush feeling when he’s been caught staring and Willie or Louis or shit, the press, call out his heart eyes and he can feel the blush rise on his cheeks as his heart thumps.
He loves the sex. Fuck does he ever love the sex. Niall fucked his way around the world while on tour for all those years and no one night stand or actual relationship holds a candle to the all-consuming, overwhelming, almost-too-much feeling he gets while cupping Shawn’s face gently as their bodies rock together.
But this, relaxing after shared orgasms, laying next to each other, lazily dragging his fingers across Shawn’s skin, this is where he’d spend every single night if he could make it happen.
Niall’s nose is nuzzled against Shawn’s neck, his leg thrown across Shawn’s hip, and Shawn’s got a hand cupping Niall’s ass. It’s the most relaxed he’s been all day. He tilts his head up and presses a kiss to the mussed curls by Shawn’s ear.
“Love you,” Niall whispers.
“Love you too,” Shawn says just as quietly, like a prayer.
Niall wants this forever. He knows as well as anyone that anything can happen in the future, but he wants to make sure that he’s done all he can to make Shawn happy, to keep Shawn for as long as Shawn’ll have him.
Niall props himself up on his elbow, and takes in the angles of Shawn’s face and his lean, strong body, still uncovered and relaxed. Niall kisses him on the cheek, on the scar he gave himself trying to shave, pretending he was a grown-up. Niall loves everything about him.
“Marry me?” The words slip out, easier than Niall ever would’ve expected. He feels to his very core this is the right thing, that he wants to make sure Shawn knows how much he’s loved.
Shawn turns his head slowly, his eyes questioning. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. I love you. I want this,” he flicks his wrist between them, “us, long term, until we’re old and grey and wrinkled.”
Shawn falters and Niall’s sure that the answer’s going to be no, not yet, which isn’t ideal, but if Shawn needs more time, he’s fine with that as well.
When Shawn turns away, Niall’s heart sinks. But then Shawn’s fumbling in the bedside drawer, and turning back towards Niall with a small velvet box.
“Did you hide an engagement ring in my bedroom without me noticing?”
Shawn’s face breaks into a cocky smile. “Sure did.” He opens the box and presents a simple band to Niall. “Yes, Niall. My answer’s yes.”
Niall covers his face with his hands, overwhelmed at the emotion coursing through him, and slightly embarrassed by his impulsiveness; he doesn’t have a ring.
Well, he supposes, as Shawn gently pries his hand away from his face and slides the ring on the correct finger, he’s got a ring now.
Chapter 18: Kissing... forcefully (Louis Tomlinson/Greg James)
“See they want to buy my pride // But that just ain’t up for sale.”
Greg had that specific lyric from “FourFiveSeconds” running through his head on a loop all day. Louis had been practicing all morning, softly muttering the song under his breath while they were getting ready for the day or belting out his lines when Louis was in another room. Maybe he thought Greg couldn’t hear him; Louis did forget how easy it was for him to project his voice sometimes. He seemed nervous all morning, and Greg was frustrated that his “You’re going to smash it” was received with an eyeroll instead of unwavering belief. Greg had seen far more confident singers full of nerves before Live Lounge so it wasn’t unexpected, but, well it was Louis. Of course he was going to smash it.
Four songs he knew like the back of his hand, and one new cover. Greg smirked when he thought of all the fans therorizing on tumblr and twitter about what songs they were going to do. There were some perks of having a popstar boyfriend.
The one perk of Louis properly freaking out, was that Greg was able to push his own nervousness to the side. This was going to be the first time that BBC Radio 1 had a Live Lounge during his drive time slot. There wasn’t too much that he figured he could fuck up, but still, it threw his normal day for a loop and that was enough to put him on edge.
Greg tried not to fond too much while they were sound checking. He was a professional after all, and so was Louis. Luckily, or maybe not so luckily, Greg even teared up while listening to them sing “Infinity.” There was something about the idea of being two steps away from Louis—at an altar perhaps, one day—that had his heart feeling too big for his chest.
Then the interview was fine, Harry’s robot voice and Niall kicked things off, then Louis and Liam showed up late, while they were already live. Because Louis was a little shit who loved to give Greg heart attacks whenever possible. Talking about what they were going to do during the hiatus, Louis cocked an eyebrow and pointed at Greg. Then he said that he was going to write with Liam, which Greg was sure he’d be doing, and thankfully didn’t joke about doing Greg.
And then of course he smashed it, because it was Louis. Louis gave him a private smile when it was all over, lips pressed together and eyes crinkling at the side, and it was all Greg could do not to run over and scoop him up into a hug and tell him how amazing he was and how he was going to smash whatever else came next for him as well. Instead, Greg gave him a double thumbs up, because he was infinitely less cool than Louis. And waved goodbye from across the studio.
“See they want to buy my pride // But that just ain’t up for sale.”
It was still running through Greg’s head—Louis’ perfect rasp—as he made his way home from the studio. He opened the door and found Louis sitting in a vest and grey joggers, socks pulled up over the bottoms, hunched over his phone.
“I love you,” Greg said.
“Hm?” Louis didn’t even look up from his phone. He had his serious, concentrating frown on, meaning he was scrolling social media and being too hard on himself.
Greg plucked the phone from his hands. “I love you.”
“Oh.” Louis smirked. “I already knew that.”
Greg shook his head, he knew that it was too late to try and hide his smile. “I hate you,” he said, with absolutely no bite. Then he dove on top of Louis.
“Get off of me you giant oaf,” Louis squeaked.
“Not until I tell you how proud of you I am.”
Louis rolled his eyes.
“Fine. Not until I show you how proud of you I am.” Greg looped one arm around the back of Louis neck, and drew him in for a kiss. Not a slow tender kiss like they shared in the mornings or in the kitchen making dinner, not a furious dick-filling kiss when they haven’t seen each other in ages and are desperate to feel each other again, but a forceful kiss, one that was deep and long, that Greg used to tell Louis everything that Louis never accepted verbally. That he was loved and cared for and inspiring and that Greg was never going to get enough of him.
“What was that for?” Louis asked, once they had stopped kissing and Greg was still sprawled out mostly on top of Louis but also limbs askew off the couch, and Louis was gently rubbing Greg’s back.
“Just wanted to,” Greg lied. “No reason.”
“Well, thank you.”
“For the kiss?”
Another eye roll, this one paired with a smack to Greg’s cheek. “For everything.”
Chapter 19: Kissing... as a suggestion (Harry Styles/Nick Grimshaw)
Harry’s been in the villa for three weeks now.
He expected Love Island to be, not wild, exactly, he had seen enough episodes to know it was a lot of lounging around the pool drinking water surrounded by beautiful people, but he also knew there’d be a good amount of drama with some couples. He came in late, so most people were already coupled up, and his biggest fear that night was arriving to the villa and just not clicking with anyone—not even as a friend. Of course he was there to find love, that was the whole point, but he’d be spending so much time with everyone, they were all living in the same house, all sleeping in the same room!!!, that more pressing than finding everlasting love was finding someone, hopefully more than one someone, who he genuinely liked hanging out with.
He and this guy Liam entered the house at the same time, and Liam was just so sweet that he and Harry got along from the word go, so that was a huge relief. Then Glenne, Niall, Hailee, and Xander had all become close friends with him and Liam, and Harry was honestly so relieved that his whole summer wouldn’t be spent alone and ridiculed with his feet in an infinity pool looking out onto the fields of Mallorca.
He hadn’t found love though. Lots of innocent flirtation, but nothing romantic. The girls are all nice enough, but no one had rung his bell, so to speak.
But then, his phone dings with a text, and everyone gathers around as he tells them that he’s got a date. “Nick is waiting for you in the hot tub outside the hideaway. Hashtag sounds gay. Hashtag Bi Boys.”
The whole villa erupts into excited screams, and Harry’s corralled inside so everyone can help him pick out which bathing suit he should wear and to make sure his hair looks perfect. He doesn’t want to mess up his first impression.
His heart pounds against his chest. He told the producers that he was bi, out, and open to anything—anyone—on the island, but this is the first time that they’ve set up anyone of the same gender on a date. He hadn’t exactly come out to everyone in the house, but clearly no one is bothered by it, if their enthusiasm for his date is anything to go by. He’s thrilled honestly, and just hopes this Nick guy is as nice as everyone else has been so far.
The date’s brilliant, actually, Nick is cute, lanky, talkative , and a northerner. They each drink a glass of prosecco and make idle chit chat as they get to know each other. There’s so much eye contact that Harry hopes Nick thinks his pink cheeks are from the hot tub and not from how much he’s attracted to Nick. It’s silly, really, how enamoured he is already.
They walk back into the villa with their arms linked, and the screams are ear piercing when they enter the garden. All the other housemates jump up from the around the firepit or the giant swing and greet Nick with hugs and a million questions.
The most pressing one Niall asks, “So Nick, who’s your type?”
The standard answer is, ‘I don’t really have a type. It’s more about personality for me.’
Instead, Nick looks Harry straight in the eye and says, “Green eyes, curly hair, dimples, and a strong body.”
Harry bursts out laughing, and everyone’s eyes go wide. “Quite specific there mate,” Niall says.
“I know what I like,” Nick says with an easy shrug. “And I kept hoping that Harry’d stlll be uncoupled—romantically—when I got here.”
Later in the night, once Nick’s newness had worn away a bit, the other housemates drifted away to other conversations, leaving just Harry and Nick staring into the fire pit.
They keep looking at each other then looking away, like shy schoolboys with their first crushes. “Did you really have your eye on me?” Harry asks, once it’s been quiet for a few minutes, their eyes doing all the talking. Harry knows Nick already said so, but he needs it confirmed again, because it seems too good to be true.
“I’ve fancied you for weeks,” Nick says. “Kept thinking I’d find something wrong with you to put me off, but so far you’ve kept my interest. Not an easy thing.”
“Oh. Well that’s dead nice,” Harry says. “Even it is hard to believe.”
Nick’s eyes flick down to Harry’s lips, and Harry’s licking them before he even realizes it. Nick meets his eye again and says, “Not really sure how to prove it to you.”
“Not really sure it matters,” Harry says, softly.
“If we met somewhere else, a club or summat, I reckon we’d already have our first kiss.”
Harry gasped dramatically. “What kind of girl do you think I am?”
“A fit one,” Nick practically whispers, but he’s already moving closer so Harry hears him loud and clear. “I could… just a quick snog?”
Harry nods slowly, his nose brushing against Nick’s with how close they are. Then with a tilt of his head, their lips connect. It’s soft—much softer than it would’ve been had they started making out on a dance floor, which Harry thinks Nick was correct in predicting—a few gentle pecks, feeling each other out, then Harry opens up, silently suggesting they take it a bit further, and Nick slides his tongue in, for a quick moment, before giving another closed mouth kiss and pulling away.
It’s hardly the most scandalous thing that’s ever happened, but the house has been mostly drama and hook-up free so far, so the housemates erupt into yet another round of cheers. They’re all ridiculous, Harry thinks as he sinks down into Nick’s body, cuddling close and enjoying Nick’s arm around him. The whole thing’s ridiculous, really, but still Harry can’t stop the smile spreading across his face.
Chapter 20: Kissing... because they’re running out of time (Niall Horan/Shawn Mendes)
Niall checked his phone again. He hated being late, if he was running the schedule. When it was promo time, for a new record or a tour, that was different; those days always ended up out of whack, late for some stuff and early for others and he just went along for the ride, letting the assistants and PR team deal with those logistics. But he had planned this trip himself and wanted it to go flawlessly.
So much for that.
His first problem was getting as plastered as he did on that last night of Glasto. Maybe more specifically the problem was that he knew he was going to get as battered as he did so he built in recovery time on Monday. Then, knowing that he had padded his day, drank as much as he damn well pleased on Sunday night with the lads.
Monday morning, then, early afternoon, came around awfully quickly. The lads were still hanging around, eating pizza, watching golf, and mocking him as he unpacked his festival wear and repacked for Denver, groaning about his headache and his acid reflux and every bad decision that had lead him to think he could party like he was still twenty with no repercussions.
He thought he was going to miss his flight, which how late he left his house, but then the flight was delayed, which at least meant he got to place the blame on FinnAir and the weather and whatever butterfly flapped its wings in some far off location that caused some chain of events to get the red DELAYED on the departures board.
His flight from London was supposed to take off at five, which, thanks to the magic of air travel, would get him to Denver around eight, which would be a perfectly great time to arrive and have a dinner? breakfast? some meal and maybe a hydrating IV drip with Shawn, before falling into Shawn’s hotel bed and snuggling until Shawn had to wake up for press and Niall traveled onward to LA. It was exhausting being Niall Horan. Shawn was worth it though.
The three hour delay threw a major kink in his plans.
When the plane finally landed it was already after eleven, and even though it didn’t really matter, and Shawn was happy for any time that he got to spend with Niall, Niall really wanted to be there to wish him a Happy Canada Day. It was maybe stupid and nationalistic, but Niall loved Shawn and Shawn loved Canada, so Niall’s goal was to show up on Canada Day and shower Shawn with love… especially since they’d be in the US.
It was 11:45 when his car pulled up to the hotel. Niall threw his backpack over one shoulder and speed walked through the lobby and into the elevator bank. He loved his fans, but he was on a mission and could not be side tracked if he was noticed. Breathing a sigh of relief that no one seemed to pay him any mind, he hit the button for the top floor and texted Shawn to let him know he was almost there.
Shawn texted back, “Door’s open.” Which was maybe not the smartest move for an internationally famous pop star, but Niall’d be there in a flash.
The elevator doors slid open with a soft ding and Niall walked along the plush carpet until he got to Shawn’s room. He walked in, locking the door in multiple place behind him, then turned to see Shawn relaxed in a robe on the bed.
“Time’s a ticking,” Shawn said as he opened his arms.
Niall glanced at the clock on the bedside table as he dropped his backpack and kicked off his shoes in a flurry of movement. 11:51. Plenty of time.
He rushed to Shawn’s side anyway, now that he was here he couldn’t keep away, and landed on top of him. Niall scooped Shawn up, thumbs on his cheekbones, and fingers dancing along the back of his neck. He looked deep in Shawn’s eyes, then broke into a grin. It wasn’t the best kiss, still mostly a smile and some knocking teeth, but Niall couldn’t be arsed. Shawn made him so incredibly happy that he’d take smile-kisses every day if he could.
“Happy Canada Day, baby. Let’s see if I can make you come by midnight.”
Chapter 21: Kissing... good morning (Louis Tomlinson/Zayn Malik)
This chapter has #cheating.
Zayn rubbed the crusties from the corner of his eyes, while arching his back and pointing his toes, slowing waking up as he stretched. The couch was uncomfortable, but, he realized as he woke up, not nearly as uncomfortable as it was going to be seeing Louis. He didn’t remember falling asleep on the couch, but past a certain point the night was a blur. He closed his eyes and tried to find a more comfortable position. He wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep though. His mind was wide awake and running full steam ahead through all of the possibilities that could fall out of last night’s misstep.
What had he been thinking?
He hadn’t been. That was the problem, he supposed.
Too much vodka. Too much weed. He was loose limbed and tactile and desperate for a snuggle. And Louis was there. Louis. His best friend. His band mate. Harry’s soulmate. Louis, who Zayn was just a little bit in love with. And who loved Harry.
The hotel room was just like all the others. Dead Fancy. A suite. He wasn’t sure if he was in his room or in theirs. Theirs. Fuck. He tried to focus on what city they were in instead. What country, would even be helpful, maybe. Maybe not. The clubs all tended to blur together. He supposed it didn’t matter in the least where in the world he was if his whole universe was falling apart.
He and Louis had lazily made out for who know how long last night. It was the best make out session of Zayn’s whole life. Which sucked. It would’ve been so much easier had it been awkward and funny and something to dismiss. Something he could forget about instead of it being seared into his memory.
He sat up, the world swayed and he waited to stand until it righted itself. The sounds from the closed bedroom door were FIFA. Their room, then. Zayn thought about doing a runner. They might not read anything into that, but he’d have to face them at some point, and probably now, sobering up, in the bright morning sun, was better than later, with a quaddy voddy coursing through his system.
He knocked softly with his knuckles, then let himself in.
Louis looked up from the game, with a smile and a wink. “He’s alive,” he said, before turning back to the game.
“Yeah, just… letting you know I’m…” leaving? going back to my own, quiet room, to sit and brood until Liam comes to collect me? sorry? tired?
Zayn tracked Louis’ tongue as it emerged and wet his lips, then disappeared again.
“We gonna talk about it?” Louis asked, putting down the controller and looking up at Zayn.
Zayn shrugged. But didn’t run away. He counted it as a success.
Louis stood and walked over, until they were socked toe to socked toe. Louis’ eyes darted to Zayn’s lips, and a shiver ran down Zayn’s spine. “Do you regret it?” Louis asked.
It was a complicated question with a loaded answer. Zayn shook his head. Louis tucked a strand of hair behind Zayn’s ear.
Zayn. didn’t know where Harry was. He tilted his head and leaned into Louis’ hand.
Louis moved closer, tucked his hand around the back of Zayn’s neck. Zayn could feel the electricity between them, everything that was still unsaid. Everything they’d have to sort through in the future. His heart was preemptively breaking, but he couldn’t deny himself what he wanted.
Louis tilted his head, pressed his lips to the corner of Zayn’s mouth. “G’morning.”
Zayn tilted his head the other way and pressed his lips to Louis’.
Chapter 22: Kissing... desperately (Louis Tomlinson/Nick Grimshaw)
“Can’t believe Young Harold got hitched before either of us,” Louis said as he drunkenly swayed into Nick space. The music was thumping and the dance floor was crowded enough that it might’ve been unintentional. Plus, the drinks. The many, many drinks Nick had seen him throw back over the course of the night.
“And not to either of us,” Nick said, with a quirk of his eyebrow as he swung his arm around Louis’ shoulder. If Louis was using liquor as an excuse there’s no reason Nick couldn’t as well.
“Who’da thunk?” Louis asked with a closed-mouth smile, but one that was big enough that his eyes all but closed. His head was thrown back, and it’d be so, so easy, for Nick just to tilt his head down and press his lips to Louis’. But at that moment the beat dropped—had Nick been paying even the slightest bit of attention he would’ve known it was coming, but all his senses were wrapped in Louis’ gorgeous fucking face. The beat dropped and Louis dropped his hips and rolled his arse all in one seamless motion, while easily stepping in front of Nick and grinding against him.
If Nick had any semblance of decorum at all, he’d turn and walk away. Leave Louis alone on the dance floor to his own devices. He was sure to find someone else to dirty dance with. But Nick was nothing if not a terrible decision maker; all emotion and want instead of tact and self-preservation. It was Louis, in a tux, already disheveled and walls down and Nick was helpless to resist. He put his hands on Louis’ waist, and breathed in the scent of his hair product. They danced, undulating their hips and meeting the beat perfectly In sync. It was like the rest of the dance floor disappeared with Louis invading all his senses. For all that Nick had wanted Louis for years, he never thought they’d come together at Harry’s wedding, in all places.
It made a sort of twisted sense, the last chance slipped away and the romantic atmosphere and everyone wondering if the two of them were okay. Okay, Nick scoffed to himself. More than okay, he thought as he tightened his hold on Louis. Not even an entire song had gone by and Nick was already hard and throbbing. He didn’t even know that he could get hard that quickly at his age. He wondered if Louis was sober enough to notice it poking into his hip.
The DJ made a seamless transition into something slow and sultry and as much as Nick had been prepared to roll his eyes at the music choices through the night, he had to admit this guy was pretty good. Louis spun in Nick’s arms, and they were face to face, breathing in the same humid air.
“Did you bring a banana for Harry? Or are you happy to be here?” Louis asked, pressing against Nick’s dick.
That answered that, then. “Like you don’t know exactly how incredible you look tonight.”
Louis rolled his eyes, but looked pleased too, muttering “dickhead” under his breath.
They circled the dance floor, Nick holding Louis close, and unable to shake the feeling that he wanted to get closer, wanted to dig in and become one with Louis, that even if he was lucky enough to get in Louis after they stumbled up to the hotel room, it still wouldn't be close enough.
Louis moved his hands from Nick’s shoulders to fingering the hairs brushing along the back of his neck. It was doing absolutely nothing to stop the rush of blood down to his dick. Louis yanked one piece, and when Nick moaned “Louuuu” he realized he had closed his eyes at some point. He opened them, expecting to see Louis mocking him for how easy he was, and instead found Louis’ blue eyes, wide and blown with desire.
“Fuck, Louis,” Nick said, his voice gruff. “I’ve wanted you for ages.”
Louis licked his lips, scraping his teeth along his lower lip as he slowly drew his tongue back in. “I’m right here. Here for the taking,” Louis said.
Nick didn’t need to be told twice. He moved in, feeling Louis arms tighten around him, the hitch of Louis’ breath when he was millimeters away, and then the soft exhale as their lips finally made contact. They gave each other a moment to back away, and when neither did, the kiss deepened. Nick clutched at Louis as though he might flee, as unlike as that was with the way that Louis held on just as tightly, gripping the back of Nick’s head with one hand and his arm with the other. He tasted of vodka Red Bull, of potential regret in the morning, and of want.
Nick gulped in a breath as Louis attacked his neck, and they rutted against each other. They had backed themselves into a corner of the dance floor, but it was still far too public for what Nick had planed for the rest of the night.
“Lou,” Nick said. Louis didn’t hear him, or didn’t stop the mauling of his neck—he was sure to have bruises lasting for a week at this rate. “Lou. Stop. Let’s—“ He broke off, groaning at the way Louis was all but mounting him. “My room. Let’s go.”
Louis drew Nick into another wet, messy kiss, this time with wandering hands, before pulling back and nodding his head. “Yes. Your room. Now.”
Chapter 23: Kissing... in a rush of adrenaline (Louis Tomlinson/Nick Grimshaw)
“C’mon, Nicholas, it’ll be fun.”
Those were some famous last words if Nick ever heard them. Nick shook his head again. He really didn’t want to do it. He didn’t want to, probably as much as Louis did.
That shouldn’t have been a problem. They were basically strangers, who happened to meet while they were both taking much needed solo vacations. They got on well from Nick’s first day at the pool when Louis had suggested that he try the cucumber margarita. That hadn’t even been on Nick’s radar, but Louis was absolutely correct that it was the perfect poolside drink. Nick threw caution to the wind from that point on, and had taken all of Louis’ suggestions with a general aire of ‘What the fuck, I’ll give it a try.’
But this, jumping who knows how many meters off a cliff and into the rocky water below, that was taking it all a bit too far.
“Not sure it will be, actually,” Nick replied. “Would rather not.”
“Would rather not,” Louis mocked, in his perfect rasp. “So what, you’re just going to climb back down? That whole way? Without me? What if… what if you run into a snake. Or bugs. Whatever will you do without me there to protect you?” Louis was clearly trying not to smile too big, too proudly, at the knowledge that he already won the argument.
Nick’s heart thumped and fluttered in his chest as he looked over the craggy edge of the cliff and down to the still bluey-green water below. It was really far down. His heart rate didn’t lessen any as he looked over at Louis and his eyes that matched the water. He itched to reach out and touch. Louis’ hair was wild in the wind.
“See ya down there,” Louis said, “one way or another.”
He took a running start, yelling like Tarzan as he sprinted down the path, and then he disappeared over the edge. Fuck. Nick watched as Louis flailed through the air, then hit the water with a loud splash. Silence. Then, “Fuck! It’s freezing.”
Nick didn’t know who he had been trying to convince... he was always going to follow Louis off this stupid cliff. And probably anywhere else, no matter how terrified he was.
Nick took a huge calming breath that did absolutely nothing to calm him. Then he closed his eyes, and ran. He was flying, falling, his stomach was up in his throat. And it was over in an instant, as he hit the ice cold water.
He survived. His heart was still pounding, blood still coursing through his body at an unnatural pace, but he had survived. He kicked to the surface.
Louis was there, waiting. His hair was plastered to his head and his eyes were sparkling, though they were barely visible with the size of his smile.
“Knew you’d do it.”
“Can’t surprise you, can I?” Nick said as he swam to Louis. He was shivering, though his body was adjusting quickly to the water. He tread water in front of Louis, and didn’t even need to work up the courage, he just knew that it was the right moment.
Still kicking, he wrapped an arm around Louis, and Louis met him, smile sliding off his face into something more heated. “Hi,” Louis said quietly, an inch from Nick’s mouth.
“Hi yourself,” Nick said, lips curling into a smile. He move forward, despite the smile, and the kiss was some lips, and some teeth, and still it was the most romantic kiss Nick had ever experienced. He’d never been so happy to be alive, to be kissing someone, that he couldn’t stop smiling.
“I want more,” Louis said. And Nick was happy to obey, leaning in for another, deeper kiss.
Chapter 24: Kissing... out of envy or jealousy (Louis Tomlinson/Nick Grimshaw)
Louis hadn’t really meant to, but before he knew it he had watched Aimee’s Instagram story of Nick dancing in his pants about a million times on a loop. He had heard things from Harry in the past—nothing but passing stories about over the top, platonic, strip teases—but Louis never gave too much of a thought about it. He couldn’t, because Nick was Harry’s friend, Harry’s… well… something, anyway, and a fling with Nick wasn’t worth getting on Harry’s bad side.
That didn’t mean he didn’t think about Nick, because of course he did. Nick had those huge hands and made Louis laugh and he was cute and he didn’t take himself too seriously. He just didn’t let himself dwell on thoughts of strip teases or one night stands or what it meant if he thought about Nick.
Because a fling was all it would be, if anything were to come of Louis’ thinking. Louis was sure of it. He wasn’t posh like the rest of Nick’s friends, not connected and beautiful and making a living by throwing parties or creating expensive fashion. Louis was only connected to Nick through Harry, and Harry had stopped inviting him out after Louis declined enough times, stopped telling Louis about his nights out when Louis couldn’t be bothered to give more than a hopefully-disinterested sounding hum. And then Harry and Nick apparently stopped hanging out as often. Maybe Nick was sick of Harry’s inability to commit and finally moved on. Maybe Louis was projecting.
Louis’ day at Glasto was banging so far. Great bands. Great lads. Great beers. But now he was in their trailer, lying on his side on the couch because fucking Luke and Calvin had won the bet and the bed, watching Nick gyrate on a bed with his shorts around his thighs. It was indecent. And unfair, because Louis had it on good authority that Nick’s trailer was only a few down from Louis’ own, so Louis was so close and yet so far.
It wasn’t fair, was the problem. If it was Harry here in Louis’ position, he’d be over there, in Nick’s trailer, getting to see this all go down live and in person. Which was stupid. What did Harry have that he didn’t have? They were both good looking, were part of the biggest Boy Band of all time, could both make Nick laugh, were both rich enough to rub elbows with anyone else in Nick’s circle of friends.
So it wasn’t fair. And Louis was going to do something about it. It was far past time. He should’ve done it ages ago, really. Screw Harry and bro-code.
“I’ll be back,” he muttered to his friends, as he threw on a hoodie and walked out into the night air. It was humid, hot really, and he didn’t need the hoodie, but it’d help absorb the smell from his one hitter, that he brought out during the walk over to Nick’s trailer, then he could pull the hoodie off again before he knocked.
Nick answered, and looked suitably confused at Louis being at the door. “Oh. Hi.” He was still mostly naked and Louis’ breath caught in his chest at the miles of skin in front of him.
“Whatever,” Louis said with a contemptuous bite. “Don’t get all high and mighty about this.”
Louis cut him off by stepping right up to him and pressing his lips against Nick’s.
Nick didn’t fight it; quite the opposite. He looped his arm around Louis’ neck and kept him close, while cupping Louis’ face with his other hand. Nick tasted of tequila and stumbled, bringing them even closer as they teetered on the edge of the stairs. Louis gripped Nick’s sides tighter, feeling Nick’s ribs under his fingers, pushing back to keep their balance. The kiss was wet, and kept going, until Louis was hard and rutting against Nick’s thigh.
“Okay!” One of Nick’s friends’ exclaimed.
“Guess that’s our cue,” another said. Louis couldn’t be arsed to stop kissing long enough to see who they were even kissing in front of. Maybe one of them would tell Harry.
Nick spun them around, still not breaking their make out session, and pushed Louis into the kitchen, lifting him up and sitting him on the counter. His trackies were wet, hopefully it was just water on the counter, but he didn’t anticipate them on much longer, so he didn’t complain.
When the door slammed shut behind the last of Nick’s friends, Nick finally pulled away far enough to say, “Took you long enough.”
Louis rolled his eyes. “Don’t go on about it, Grimshaw,” he said as he pulled his t-shirt up and over his head. “We gonna fuck, or what?”
Chapter 25: Kissing... to wake up (Harry Styles/Liam Payne)
cw for escorts, in case that's not your kind of thing
Harry was so fucking gone for this client. It was bad, really bad, how fast he was falling for him. It had never happened to him before, and he wasn’t sure how to make it stop.
Well, Niall was right, the best way would be to stop the relationship; to tell Mr. Payne that their time had come to an end and he could no longer escort for him. Harry’s chest clenched and he felt sick each time he thought about it though, so he had put it off and put it off, choosing instead the chest clenching euphoria he got when he got to spend time with Liam.
Harry knew he had to though, and last night was supposed to be the night. That’s why, instead of having Liam’s driver whisk him back through the city streets in the middle of the night, he finally accepted Liam’s offer to come upstairs for a drink. The plan was for Harry to break it to him in person, after he had collected his fee, and to then book himself an uber home. But there was some saying about best laid plans that he couldn’t quite remember, since he was still mostly asleep in the most comfortable bed he’d ever been in.
Despite being alone with Harry in an expensive hotel room, Liam still hadn’t made any moves. Harry could tell he wanted to. The tilting forward, remembering who he was with and startling backwards. The lingering touches. The way his eyes darkened and he inhaled sharply when Harry had come back from the bathroom in his undershirt, suit and already-wrinkled white shirt folded over his arm.
But, like every other time before, Liam had been a perfect gentleman.
Even once they were in bed together. Even once the space between them in the bed had lessened and Harry lay pressed against his body, wrapped in his arms.
Harry sensed that Liam was waiting for him to make a first move. But, he couldn’t. As much as he, well, loved, fuck, Liam, if he made a move and word got out, he’d be fired faster than Louis could say “We have one fucking rule, Haz.” So Harry kept his lips to himself and kept his hands to himself and didn’t offer to drop down to his knees… as much as he got off to that thought on his own, after nights of dinners and galas with Liam, he’d sometimes barely make it back into his own room before pulling himself off. Liam was just so… so hot. And so kind. He was the only client of Harry’s that he had ever fantasized about. Just, so different from all the other blowhards or tryhard trust fund kids he normally escorted for.
Harry hadn’t worked up the courage to say anything before he shakily nodded his head that yes, he would stay the night. He was going to allow himself this one night.
He rubbed his eyes and rolled back to his side of the bed. There was a pen and a hotel-branded pad of paper, so Harry quickly scribbled a goodbye note. It was definitely the worst way, one he’d never would’ve considered after the never-ending kindness Liam had shown him. But it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to say it verbally. He slid out of the bed and tiptoed to the bathroom, swished a capful of mouthwash, then put his clothes back on in the darkened main room.
Liam was still snoring softly. Harry hated that he still looked gorgeous mid-sleep. The thing he really wanted to do was climb back in, experience waking back up in Liam’s arms again, and then stay there forever. But that was exactly why he couldn’t.
It was exactly why he had to walk away.
He bent down, and allowed himself to break the Pretty Woman rule. He pecked Liam’s cheek, his stubble had grown overnight and Harry wanted to nuzzle it. Instead, he allowed himself one single, slow, heart-pounding kiss on Liam’s lips. Liam kissed back, a steady push against his own lips, until Harry pulled away and stood up.
Liam managed to open one eye. He frowned when he focused on Harry. “Come back,” he rasped. “Please? Room service. Luxury towels after a shower? More snuggles?”
Harry shook his head. “I’ll be back,” he lied. “Going to get coffee.”
Liam nodded as his eye fell closed.
Harry walked out quietly, hoping Liam would fall back asleep, making sure not to close the door behind him too loudly. It was only once he was in the elevator, trying to hold back his tears, that he realized he had never even collected his payment for last night. Harry furiously wiped away a tear that had slipped out. At least he got to pretend what it might be like, if their circumstances were totally different.
Chapter 26: Kissing... as encouragement (Liam Payne/Zayn Malik)
Liam looked down at the box in his hand, red and gold stripes—expensive looking. He looked back up at Zayn. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s for you,” Zayn said, eyes wide and full of glee.
“But, it’s your birthday.” Liam didn’t understand what was happening.
“Well, it’s really for me.”
“You got yourself a gift for your birthday and you’re having me open it?” Liam asked, just to be totally clear about the situation.
“Hmm. Yes, I guess I did.”
“Liam! Just open the box.”
Liam did as he was told, lifting the lid and putting it aside, and looking at the layers of tissue paper folded neatly across the top. He lifted those as well, and found that inside the box was silky-looking fabric. They were so soft and he could’ve run his fingers over it all day.
“Pull ‘em out,” Zayn prompted.
Liam lifted one, aubergine-colored and, oh, tiny.
“You— You bought me ladies knickers for your birthday?” Liam was full of questions.
Zayn shrugged with one shoulder, his smile turned into something softer. Eyebrows raised, he said, “Thought you’d look good in them. Thought I’d have fun taking them off you.”
Liam pulled out another pair, navy this time, with lacy bits.
“I—” Liam didn’t know what to say. He helplessly held out a maroon pair with crisscross-y straps. “Are you sure about this? You’re serious?”
“Not if you don’t want to,” Zayn was quick to say. “But if you’re at all interested, curious? Then, yeah, I’m serious.”
Liam rubbed the fabric between his fingers, and imagined himself changing in front of Zayn. He couldn’t do it, the idea of trying to get to one of these with an audience made him want to full-body cringe. “I’m not not interested.”
“Okay,” Zayn took Liam’s hand in his. Liam gave it a squeeze. They sat there for a moment, Liam rethinking the whole night. He had planned dinner, a quiet night in, Zayn opening the stack of neatly wrapped presents currently hidden under the bed.
“You want— Now?”
“I’m not going to say no, if you’re offering. But really, babe, we can do it some other time, or never, if you’re not into it. I have you, here, for my birthday, anything else is just… bonus.”
He knew Zayn was being honest, that he really wouldn’t care at all if Liam shelved this idea for another night, or for never, but he wanted to do it for Zayn. He was okay stepping out of his comfort zone, for Zayn.
“You’re not going to laugh, right?”
Zayn shook his head, solemnly. “Course not. You, in this,” he swung the maroon pair around his finger, “is no joking matter. Baby, I keep wanking to the thought of you, in them, since I bought them.”
“Oh.” He had still sort of thought it was a thing for a laugh, play acting so they could have a giggle later, not that it was a thing for Zayn. “This is stupid. I literally did an underwear ad. But you think, you think I’ll look okay? I haven’t been training like mad like last year.”
Zayn climbed into his lap, and hooked his ankles around Liam’s back. Liam tucked a long strand back behind Zayn’s ear. It was getting long again; he’d probably shave it soon. Zayn took Liam’s hand in his again, kissing Liam’s knuckles. “Baby, baby, baby,” Zayn sang quietly to a made-up melody. He kissed Liam again, this time on the lips, softly, a promise. “You know how much I love you, right?”
Liam nodded. More than all the stars in the sky.
Zayn kissed him again, deeper this time, and Liam kissed back. “I want to show you anyway. Want to spend the whole night worshipping you. Want you squirming on the bed. I’m gonna prove to you that I love every inch of you, whether you’re wearing them or not.”
“Okay,” Liam agreed. “Give me a minute, gotta figure out how to put these damn things on.”
Zayn’s face lit up and Liam knew he made the right choice. He playfully shoved Zayn off his lap and stood up, ready to make Zayn’s birthday one to remember.
Chapter 27: Kissing... to gain something (Niall Horan/Shawn Mendes)
“Ready?” Shawn asked.
“Yeah, just gotta…” he reached around Shawn to pick up their new car keys off the key rack. Except. “Shawn?”
“Yeah, babe?” he asked with a smile and his adorable head tilt.
“Where are the car keys?”
The brand new Bentayga was in the driveway, just waiting for a day when they were both home and could take it for a spin. They were both here, now, and they were going to Liam’s for Sunday roast and board games. Liam would appreciate the Bentayga; Niall was quite looking forward to seeing the look on Liam’s face when he saw it, actually. But first, they had to be able to unlock the car and drive over there.
“Oh,” Shawn chirped, smile still plastered on his face. “I thought I’d drive.”
The car was theirs. Their first major purchase, together, since Shawn had moved in. But Niall had envisioned himself driving, Shawn in charge of the music, their hands held over the middle console, when he saw the car. Not that Shawn couldn’t drive, he could, and he would drive this car, specifically, but, just, after Niall got a chance.
Now, Niall saw right through that faux-innocence on Shawn’s face. Niall put on a matching smile. “Babe, it’s not a problem for me to drive, I know the route by heart.”
“Great! Glad we won’t need the sat nav. You can navigate.”
Niall smiled harder. His cheeks were starting to hurt. They were still stood in the foyer, toeing off on the unspoken battle. He was going to have to be sneaky if he was going to win.
“You look really great, by the way,” Niall said. He placed a hand on the front of Shawn’s chest, then slowly slid it down to Shawn’s ribs. “In case I forgot to tell you earlier. This shirt really makes your eyes pop.”
“Thanks, babe.” Shawn had already complimented him earlier, thoroughly and completely proved just how much he liked Niall’s outfit, which is why they were now running late and really needed to get out the door.
Niall didn’t let up, sliding his hand down to Shawn’s ass and squeezing, while bringing his other hand up to cup Shawn’s cheek. “Love you so much.”
“Love you too,” Shawn said, already bending towards Niall.
Niall captured his lips in a kiss. Soft and smooth, and perfect for running his hands over the rest of Shawn’s body. He deepened the kiss, distracting Shawn by pressing his half-hard dick against Shawn’s front. (Seriously, Shawn was so hot. Niall wasn’t sure he was ever going to get to a stage of their relationship when he wasn’t half-hard around Shawn.)
It worked too—it always worked—dangling some physical affection in front of Shawn.
Shawn lost himself in the kiss, and Niall’s hands kept roaming, until they grasped the keys in Shawn’s jacket pocket.
“Aha!” Niall crowed, stepping away from Shawn. “Got them.”
Shawn rolled his eyes. “So childish,” he said, his smile was back already.
Chapter 28: Kissing... lazily (Louis Tomlinson/Zayn Malik)
content warning for recreational drug use
“What do you want to do today?” Louis walked into the living room with his coffee mug clasped between his two hands, keeping them warm. Zayn was sprawled out along the couch, head propped up against the arm. Their TV was off, but as Louis came closer, he heard music playing quietly from Zayn’s phone. A blunt, mostly burnt out, was in the ashtray on the table, less than an arm’s length from Zayn. Louis took the last hit.
Zayn groaned quietly.
“Last night was fun, huh?” Louis had heard how late Zayn had gotten in, was surprised he was awake actually. He figured he wouldn’t see him until the afternoon. Louis tapped Zayn’s feet, and he lifted them high enough for Louis to slid onto the couch, then Zayn plopped them back on Louis’ lap. Louis reached over and rolled himself another spliff, which he dutifully passed over to Zayn when it was halfway smoked.
“It was fun, actually. There was this cute guy there, Harry. I think you’d like him.”
“High praise, coming from you.”
Louis lolled his head to the side when he heard raindrops land on the window. Within moments, it was like a monsoon, nothing but a sheet of rain falling from the sky could be seen. “Guess I’m not going running today.”
Zayn snickered. “Right, like you were going to anyway.”
“I hate you.”
Zayn dug his toes into Louis’ thigh. “You love me.”
“Yeah, well…” Zayn was right, but Louis wasn’t going to just admit that.
“Lazy day in, then?” Zayn asked.
“The best kind of day.” Louis looked at Zayn and raised his eyebrows once: a question.
“You do look cute in the morning,” Zayn said. Louis squeezed his ankle.
“I’d return the compliment but I don’t want you getting a big head about it.”
Zayn batted his eyelashes, and it was over for Louis. He put down his coffee, and planked above Zayn, until they were in a good position, then he let himself drape over Zayn.
Louis swept a lock of hair off of Zayn’s forehead, then angled his face to move in for the kiss. Zayn’s lips were soft, as always, and just as comforting as they were every time they did this. Which wasn’t often, but often enough that Louis should probably think about what that means, kissing his roommate for hours and hours, lazily, casually, when they both had fuck all to do. But Zayn was the best kisser Louis had ever made out with, so he shrugged all thoughts off for another day, and continued the unhurried connection of their lips.
Chapter 29: Kissing... because the world is saved (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
“Cut it now, Styles!” Louis yelled. He was crowded around Harry, his breath hot and insistent on Harry’s neck as he panted. It was hot enough in the bunker, Louis’ frantic energy only increased the nerves in Harry’s body, each one alive and thrumming, like the live wires in the bomb in front of them. The crawl space was really only big enough for one person, so Louis pressed against his back like a crazed monkey was not helping the situation.
Harry placed his left hand on top of his right one, the wire cutters steadied somewhat, and Harry thrust them forward, toward the mess of brightly colored string surrounding the dull black box that contained their fate. “Green, right?”
“Yes,” Louis confirmed. “Cut the green one. Jesus Christ we don’t have all day.”
“You’re sure it’s the green.” They’d be dead if green was the wrong color. They’d be dead if green was the right color and Harry didn’t hurry. It was a lot of pressure for Harry to be under. He was supposed to be back at his desk in DC, not in this tiny English town trying to save the world.
“Yes. Cut the green one. Now.”
“Okay, okay.” Harry understands the rush, he does. But Louis’ been up his ass this whole mission—and not in the good way. Maybe, someday, Harry would like that. Louis is gorgeous, with those cheekbones and his bright, mischievous eyes, his flippant attitude and the way he keeps Harry off balance, never quite knowing if he’s being serious or not. He’s everything Harry wants in a partner, because he’s also serious, focused when he needs to be, and willing to risk his literal life for the good of the world.
Because. Right. They’re saving the world. Focus, Harry. It’s not the time to think about Louis’ strong fingers typing in the bypass code on the explosive device, not the time to dwell on just how capable Louis has been this whole mission, how safe Harry has felt, despite the circumstances.
“Harry!” Louis shouts, louder than strictly necessary. But it does the job and Harry’s focused on the task at hand, again.
This time Harry follows through, even with the shaking hand. He shuts his eyes tightly and with a squeeze of pressure on the wire cutters, snaps the green wire. The countdown clock stops on :02. Probably best that Louis was in a hurry.
“Did…” Harry almost too scared to ask. “Did we do it?”
The pressure lessened from Harry’s back as Louis backed out of the crawl space. That was another good sign. Harry backed out on his hands and knees, and squatted once he was out of the tiny spot.
Louis’ smile was bright. “Fuck, you did it.”
“We did it,” Harry clarified. He never would’ve been able to do it alone.
“We made it,” Louis laughed. “You were brilliant. I could just kiss you.”
Louis was squatting too, for the brief moment before Harry launched himself into Louis’ arms and knocked him over. “Please. I want that.”
“What?” Louis’ face was so close, thanks to Harry’s enthusiasm. “You’d want… me?”
Harry nodded. He swiped a bit of grime off of Louis’ cheek. “I learned from Speed that relationships based on stressful situations don’t tend to last. But I really want you right now.” The adrenaline was still pumping through his body, he suspected he wasn’t supposed to make any rash decisions, but he had wanted Louis for weeks while they worked together to track down the source of the threats. “I’ve wanted you since the first moment we met.”
“Oh.” It’s the first time Harry’s seen Louis look bashful. “The feeling’s mutual. Saved the world, now we get our reward.”
Louis tilted his chin up, and Harry bent down to meet him. The kiss was wet and hot and insistent, the two of them vying for control like they had been for the past few days. Then Harry acquiesced. He could let Louis have this one. He just saved the world; there’d be plenty of time for more kisses.
Chapter 30: Kissing... on a tear (Louis Tomlinson & Zayn Malik)
The knocking on the door was insistent. Zayn tossed the pillow he had been clutching to the floor. He wasn’t in the mood for visitors. He was devastated. Alone. Feeling out of sorts and embarrassed about the depth of emotion still welling inside of him. He joked often enough about having a cold, black heart, about the ways in which he never cried over sappy romantic movies and was never overly jubilant when things seemed to work out in his favor; landing first row concert tickets or his dream job was cool, amazing, wonderful, but he noted it and moved on.
This felt like sludge, like he couldn’t move forward, and he was utterly unprepared to handle the swell of emotions that kept knocking him off his equilibrium.
But whoever was knocking wasn’t leaving and the knocking was going to give him a headache if it continued on much longer.
“I’m not interested,” he grumbled as he made it to the front door. He wasn’t sure he ever used the peephole into the hallway; he’d had exactly zero surprise visitors in the few years since he moved into the apartment.
He should’ve guessed that it’d be Louis out there.
“I’m not in the mood, Lou,” Zayn said as he opened the door.
“Was going to have bloody knuckles if you didn’t open soon,” Louis said as he invited himself inside.
“How’d you know I was even home?” Zayn asked, following Louis in. He sniffed his pits. He definitely needed a shower, but that’s what Louis deserves for showing up without warning.
“Oh, that was easy.” Louis made himself comfortable on the couch, kicking off his shoes and putting his socked feet up on the coffee table. He placed his backpack on the floor. “Other than work, you haven’t left for a few days. No one’s heard from you. Nothing on social media. You weren’t hard to track down.”
“Should I be worried about you stalking me?” Zayn tried to joke as swallowed down a lump that appeared in his throat at the idea of his friends worried about him. He didn’t mean to put anyone out. The joke fell flat.
“Just missed you,” Louis said easily.
Zayn rolled his eyes, more as a way to blink away an uprising of tears than in actual, or even faux annoyance.
“So whatcha watching?” Louis asked.
This didn’t look like a quick check in, but rather he was going to stick around for the night. There wasn’t a real point in lying; Louis would see right through him. That didn’t make the answer any more palatable. “To be honest, I don’t even know. It’s on, but I wasn’t paying any attention.”
“Okay.” Louis finally looked at him. “I’ve been there.”
Zayn should’ve known it would’ve been this easy with Louis. He sat down next to him, and looked at the TV. He really honestly had absolutely no idea what was happening on the game show.
“Have you eaten?” Louis asked.
Zayn shook his head.
“Lunch?” Louis specified.
Zayn shook his head again. There were some meetings, and he could’ve run out for something quick, but, he just didn’t.
“We’ll get a side of veggies then.” Louis pulled up his phone and thankfully didn’t even ask Zayn what he wanted, before ordering and putting his phone back down.
“Not going to tell me I should be eating?” Zayn curled into a ball. He felt like a failure.
“Nah.” Louis took Zayn’s feet into his lap and started rubbing. “Bit like the pot calling the kettle.”
They fell into an easy silence then. Zayn zoned back out as Louis flipped through the channels, setting on something that Zayn was equally uninterested in.
“Does it get easier?” Zayn asked, eventually.
Louis tilted his head back and forth. “Someone told me once, that it was being in a shipwreck in the middle of the ocean. And at first the huge waves are coming so fast and furious that you hardly keep your head up. But eventually you find a way to grab a piece of wood. Then a bit more. Eventually you build a raft, which helps you stay afloat. The waves still come, but you’re better able to handle it. But then every so often, a huge wave will come out of nowhere, and knock you down again. Then you get your driftwood back, and over time you start to realize where the waves might come from, and you learn to prepare a little bit better.”
“So, yes, somewhat. But also, you’ll always be out in that ocean. I don’t know, Z. It sucks and it keeps sucking but sometimes it sucks less, so I just keep hoping that tomorrow will be a day when it sucks less.”
It wasn’t particularly comforting, but Louis’ hand on his ankle was. Louis’ phone rang, then Louis got up to buzz up the delivery man, and Zayn sat up when Louis returned. Louis unpacked the bags of food, spread it across the table, and uncapped a bottle of water before handing it over to Zayn.
“I do recommend staying hydrated though. That’s about the only concrete advice I have.”
Zayn let out a wet laugh.
Louis leaned over and kissed his cheek, where Zayn knew that he had been crying.
“Thank you,” Zayn said.
“Love you,” Louis said back. “We’ll muddle through, together. But first, some food.”
Chapter 31: Kissing... because the world is ending (Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles)
This chapter is a Star Wars 'verse, set in the midst of Order 66. Content warnings for violence, school violence, and implied major character death. Sorry. You've been warned.
In a galaxy far far away, Louis and Harry arrived at the Jedi Academy on Coruscant all the way from Jakku. They were exhausted from the travel, but excited to explore the city and the archives. Best friends from when they were younglings, they were excited to go on this next adventure together. Louis couldn’t image traveling all that way for the next level of studying without Harry.
So far, it was all they had imagined and planned. The city was huge and dynamic, a far cry from their sparse desert homeland. And the Jedi Academy was long hours of blocking objects, light saber sparring, and learning to harness the force. Harry was quickly losing his baby fat, and Louis kept forcing himself to look away when Harry was changing. Being roommates with Harry was both the best and the worst thing that could happen to Louis.
As a Jedi in training—a Padawan!—Louis knew that his life was going to be devoted to keeping the peace across the galaxy. Love and relationships were forbidden; their lives were focused on this one important thing, and nothing could lead them astray, or make them question their missions. So Louis knew that his feelings for Harry had to be pushed down, ignored, because he could never, ever, act on them. It was hard, knowing that his feelings for Harry were different than his feelings for his other friends. But at least since it was against the rules, Louis would never tell Harry and face a possible rejection. His secret was locked up safe in his chest, even though early in the morning when Harry was soft and sleepy, or after a hard training session when Harry was dripping sweat with his lungs heaving, or at their meals, with Harry eating each bite tongue first, relaxed and smiling with his dimples out, Louis had to dig his fingernails into his palms or hold tight to his saber to make sure that he didn’t blurt out exactly how much he loved Harry.
It’s one such moment, they’ve already eaten dinner and they’re sitting together in the archives, reading a book about the forms of lightsaber combat, and Harry has just bumped his shoulder into Louis’, rolling his eyes at a stupid joke Louis made. Louis can’t help but preen, knowing that he made Harry light up like that.
A loud electronic noise cut through the quiet of the archives, and suddenly Anakin—one of the Jedi Knights—broke through the door with his lightsaber. Louis was drawn away from the lights in Harry’s eyes by the noise, and looked up just in time to see Anakin burst in. “What are you doing here?” the librarian asked. Instead of answering, Anakin sliced her dead with his light saber. Another Jedi Master backflipped across the desk and battled Anakin with his lightsaber, until he too was killed by Anakin. Louis was frozen in place. He had never seen any real battles in his whole life.
Twenty clones charged in behind Anakin, all of their blasters raised. Louis grabbed Harry’s arm and pulled him under the desk. All around them was chaos, it was the worst thing Louis had ever heard, his friends, the other students around them shouting and going quiet, and the eerie silence from the clones.
Louis couldn’t stop shaking, and he was sure his life was going to end. He couldn’t possibly end it without saying something to Harry; with startling clarity he was aware of how stupid the rule against love was. Fuck that. “Harry, I have to tell you something.”
“Lou, what’s going on?” Harry was shaking too. Louis tucked him against his body, wrapping his arms tight around Harry and breathing in deeply at Harry’s temple.
“I don’t know,” Louis said. “But I know I love you. I’m in love with you. And I can’t die without telling you that.”
“You’re the best thing about me, Harry Styles. You’ve made my life so much better by being in it, and I am so, so in love with you.”
Harry let out a wet laugh, as he looked up at Louis with tears in his eyes. “You’ve got shitty timing, Tomlinson. I’m in love with you too. Have been for years.”
The commotion was getting closer, and Louis knew the world around him was ending. He stroked Harry’s hair, combing his fingers into the curls, and holding tight to the back of his head. He moved in closer, inching towards Harry’s mouth, and not wasting time, but allowing Harry to give any indication he didn’t want what Louis was going to do. Louis licked his lips at the last moment, then touched his lips to Harry’s. The kiss was soft and lovely, Harry clung to Louis’ vest and Louis tried to feel, down to his very core, how amazing the moment was. They stayed wrapped up in each other, surrounding themselves with love and hope, as the violence continued around them.
Chapter 32: Kissing... in public (Niall Horan/Harry Styles)
The Natty Lights were coursing through Niall’s body. The apartment party was in full swing; girls were tipsy in their heels in the kitchen, a small group of friends were dancing in a circle, there were the smokers out on the balcony, an impatient line for the single bathroom had formed, and a rowdy game of kings was being played in the living room. It was the third weekend back on campus, Niall’s sophomore year, and the first party of the year he and his roommates were throwing.
Niall and his roommates—Harry, Liam, and Louis—had all been assigned to the same dorm floor the previous year, and from the first day had been best friends. Other than the messes that drove Niall crazy and that none of the other guys seemed to care about, the first few weeks were going well. Well, the messes, and having to share a bedroom with Harry.
Harry pulled out his good vodka, the one he was hiding from the rest of the party in their bedroom, and held it up with a small shake for Niall. “Let’s do some shots before going back out there.”
“Yeah,” Niall pulled out a half finished Cran-Grape bottle from his backpack. “I got the chaser.”
Harry thunked two shot glasses on his desk, and poured the vodka to the top. He turned and smiled at Niall, his front teeth more attractive than they had any right to be (And wow, was Niall ever gone for him. Attractive teeth? He barely recognized the person he was around Harry sometimes.) and his dimples out in full megawatt power. Niall blinked and focused on the hands holding the bottle instead of Harry’s face. Not that focusing on his huge hands was any better.
Niall suppressed a shudder as he downed his shot, and then a second shot.
“Another?” Harry asked.
Niall was going to shake his head. It was early in the night and Niall didn’t want a repeat of the dicks drawn on his face if he passed out before everyone else. But then Liam threw open their door. Harry hastily put away the vodka and Niall took the last sip of juice.
“There you are!” Liam said, a huge tipsy grin on his face. “Spin the bottle!”
“What?” Harry asked.
“We’re going to play spin the bottle. Come join us.”
Harry looked at Niall, eyes wide and unsure, and shrugged.
“Yeah.” Niall shrugged back. “Let’s do it.”
“Sick. Sounds like fun,” Harry said then.
Liam turned, saying “Fuck yeah, they’re in” and Niall followed Harry and Liam out the door.
There was a good number of people already sitting around the coffee table, and they all moved closer together to make room for Niall and Harry. Niall was still practically in Harry’s lap, with how close they were sitting, and he was sure it wasn’t just the alcohol making his cheeks flush.
Niall didn’t know most of the people in the circle, so other than the flash of jealousy when Louis spun and landed on Harry, then landed a quick chaste kiss to his lips, then the spiked heart rate when Harry spun, only to have it land on some girl Niall had never seen before. That kiss was quick and chaste too, which led to boos from the rest of the circle and relief from Niall. Harry squeezed Niall’s thigh when he sat back down, and it was the highlight of the game for the longest time. But then Louis’ spin landed on Niall, and Harry’s hand went tight on Niall’s thigh again. With a roll of his eyes, Louis leaned across the table and pecked Niall’s lips, and then Harry leaned back, resting on his hands propped back on the floor, one arm to the back and side of Niall. Niall put his hand back too, resting his fingers on top of Harry’s. Everyone was drinking; he was pretty sure no one was going to notice.
But then when Niall spun, after going around and around, the bottle came to stop between him and Harry. He felt Harry stiffen next to him. Niall let out an uncomfortable giggle, because he had no idea how to handle this situation.
Niall turned to look at Harry, who’s cheeks had turned a delightful shade of pink and who was licking his lips. Niall did the same, he didn’t want their first kiss, even if it was in front of all of these strangers, to be with dry lips.
Niall moved in closer, still not sure how thorough of a kiss he should go for, and Harry gave a little nod, right before he closed his eyes. Niall closed his eyes too, and then their lips were touching. Niall applied some pressure, and Harry did too, then Niall was tilting his head for a better angle, and Harry was opening up for him. Niall took it as the invitation it was, tasting Harry, and feeling Harry’s tentative exploration as well. Once he started, Niall couldn’t get enough, and he grasped the back of Harry’s head, holding him in place as he kissed deeper. Then the world was off axis as Harry fell backwards onto the floor, and Niall kept pressed against him.
Distantly, he heard Louis groan, and then the noise of everyone scattering around them as they had apparently ended the game.
“Seriously, can you at least move it to your bedroom?” Liam begged. “No one actually wants to watch you hook up.”
Harry laughed under him, and ran his hands up Niall’s side. “What do you think?” he asked.
“I think Liam’s got the right idea for once,” Niall confessed. He stood, and put a hand out for Harry to grab, helping him up. Harry was pressed against his back as they stumbled to their bedroom.