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A Work of Art

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Louis’ wrist hung lazily from the handle of the portafilter connected to the espresso machine. It was nearly ten o’clock, meaning that once the hour hand on the clock reach the ten, he would be able to close the shop and leave. 

As the dark coffee poured into the shot cups below the machine, he tiredly grabbed the glasses. The doorbell rang loudly in the shop, causing him to flinch and spill the hot coffee all over his arms. 

“Fuck,” he groaned, wincing at the hot beverage that was now covering his lower half. Looking up, he spotted a customer walking towards the bar. 

Smacking a fraudulent smile across his face, he greeted the man.

“Hello sir, what can I get for you this evening?”

The man smirked at Louis before glancing up at the menu, “Do you have protein powder?”

“We do not,” Louis lied. He was not in the mood to prepare a protein shake after just having cleaned the blender.  

“Huh,” The customer squinted his eyes, “are you new here?”

Louis took in a deep breath, exhausted and finished with dealing with irate customers. Before he could offer a rebuttal, the man gave his order.

“Triple raspberry latte, no foam,” he smiled, “Please.”

Louis gave another fake smiles before turning to the espresso machine to pull three shots of espresso. He felt the gaze of the man at the counter as he rushed to prepare the beverage. Lifting his eyes, he stood on his tiptoes to get another glance at the person ordering three shots of coffee at nine fifty five at night. 

The man was very well dressed. A pea coat covered his upper body as well as a third of his lower half. His hands stayed hidden in the pockets. 

As their eyes caught onto each other, Louis jerked his head back to making the drink. He could feel the man staring still, which only made his exhaustion-fueled anger heightened. He pumped raspberry syrup into the cup, stirred, and brought it up to the front counter. 

“Sorry to make you prepare this so late,” the lad at the counter expressed.

Louis suddenly felt silly for being so blunt with the customer.  It was his job, after all, and this man was just looking for a cup of coffee. He decided to make some sort of conversation.

“Is there a reason you’re ordering coffee so late in the day?”

The man smiled. The right corner of his mouth elevated itself more than the left, which did something to Louis, making him eager to hear the lad’s response.

“Work,” the customer responded, grabbing his drink and setting a bill down on the counter before turning and leaving the shop. 

Taken aback, Louis shrugged his shoulders and grabbed the bill. Before ringing up the beverage, he looked down and realized how much money was in the palm of his hand. His eyes widened, realizing that some sort of mistake had been made. However, the man had gone out of view, and Louis was eager to get home. 

He wrote a note and taped it to the bag with the money inside of it, letting his manager know to keep an eye out for the man, and to inquire about the transaction if the customer showed up again. 

With that, he set out to close the shop. He cleaned the machine, the dishes, and swept the floors. The door locked behind him as he set off in his volkswagen jetta, on his way home, where he finally shut his eyes to get some much needed rest.

It wasn’t that Louis didn’t like his job. Louis liked making coffee. He liked the bitter smell and taste of freshly brewed espresso. The warmth of a coffee shop always made him feel content. It was the late nights that discouraged him, as he missed several outings with friends due to his busy schedule. 

Fortunately, Louis had snagged an early morning shift the following week. Though it wasn’t easy to pop out of bed at five in the morning, he found himself feeling better about going to work knowing that he had the rest of his day ahead of him once it was over.

That morning when he stepped into the shop, he was greeted by a few friendly faces. There was Georgianna; a five foot nothing, chipper young woman whose apron fit her loosely no matter how tight she tied it. The other was his boss and the manager of the shop, Louise. Louise had a persistently smug attitude, but a friendly face all the while. 

“Morning Lou!” Georgianna sparked as Louis walked around the counter. 

“Morning!” He piped back, placing his apron over his head and tying the back.

Georgianna was pulling shots and pouring them into their cold brew pitcher. She grinned at him as he clocked into the system. 

“Few things you gotta know about the morning shift,” Louise hollered from the back room before walking into the front of the shop, “it’s busier, noisier, and messier than closing. Gotta stay on your toes with these early morning fuckers.”

Louis chuckled, “I think I can handle it.”

Louise walked over and unlocked the front door. She walked over and placed her palms on the front counter, “Georgi, we’re gonna let Louis flirt with the customers today. Alright?”

Georgianna’s eyebrows rose at Louise, “This one? Oh he’s gonna bring in a weeks worth of tips today with eyes like that.”

“Ladies, ladies, please,” Louis joked. 

Just then, the doorbell rang as the first customer stepped in.

It was something like a movie as he walked in the door. The early morning sun rose with him as he stepped into the building. His brown curls were illuminated by the sunlight behind him, and the music just so happened to begin playing as his chelsea boots clapped on the concrete floor. 

“Hello,” the charming lad said, his smirk jumping at Louis as he neared the counter.

“Good morning,” Louis smiled, feeling slightly embarrassed to see the man again. This time was so, so different. The man was standing in the light of the sun, but he might as well have just been the whole damn sun himself. 

“Harry!” Georgianna hollered from behind the counter, “How did the pitch go?”

“I just may have won them over, Georgi. Just may have.”

Louis noticed his mouth hanging open slightly. He closed it briefly before ringing up the triple raspberry latte.

“So you’re a morning person now, hmm?” Harry asked Louis.

Nervously, Louis laughed, “Guess I am.”

“How’s he treating you Georgi?” Harry called back.

“Just fine, Harry.”

Harry knew what he’d done to Louis. It seemed it wasn’t his first time charming a person out of words. He’d truly charmed Louis out of breath with barely saying a word. 

Grabbing his drink, Harry set his money down on the counter. 

“Thank you, Louis,” He said, turning around and leaving the shop.

Again, Louis fought for words, but couldn’t find any. He grabbed the paper bills and prepared to put them in the register only to recognize once again that he’d received well over half the amount the drink cost. 

“Huh,” Louis scoffed, turning to Georgianna, “Is he always this generous? I mean my god.”

Georgianna peaked over the machine at Louis, looking down at the bills. Her eyes widened, “No, not that generous.”

Louis felt himself fill up with a warm electricity. His chest buzzed with the sweetest excitement that he’d only felt when his prom date said yes. 

“Well jesus, don’t pee yourself,” Louise teased.

Her taunts fell through his ears as he stared down at the cash in his hands. It was the first time in a long time that someone had displayed an interest in him, and this interest was expensive.

As he drove himself home after his shift at the shop, his cheeks bounced with gladness. He was giddy like a school child, grinning from ear to ear. He felt confident in himself. Which, if this infatuation turned into a simple act of gratitude, he was grateful regardless.

Chapter Text

Louis' next shift was preemptively excitable. He greeted each customer with a newfound appreciation, granting him more and more tips than he’d ever received. 

Louis smiled down at the shot glasses as they filled up with black liquid, a tan layer of foam rising up the glass. He’d been so caught up in the anticipation of his little admirer that he’d lost track of time; it was five past ten. His smile faded at the realization that the man had yet to visit him.

He left the front door unlocked until he left in hopes of Harry walking in, ordering a stupidly complicated coffee, and leaving. Harry never did come that night, nor did he come in the next. 

Weeks later, Georgianna was babbling about her girlfriend’s new cat or something. Louis couldn’t be bothered as he scrubbed at portafilters in the sink. 

“Oh,” she paused to pour a shot into a mug, “Harry came in earlier today.”

Louis’ neck nearly broke. He looked over at her, his ears suddenly interested. Louise brushed past his shoulder, giving him a suspiciously judgmental look.

“Did he now?” Louise questioned.

“Yeah, apparently he got relocated across town. It was kind of sad, really.”

Georgianna looked up from the bar at Louise. 

“Sad when regulars leave. Nice when they let you know, though. It’s caring.”

Louis poked his head out from the back room.

“Where’d they relocate him?”

Louise scoffed. 

“Out of your league, Tommo. Out of your league.”

Louis’ head drooped down for a second, embarrassed. 

“Hey!” Georgianna gave Louise a small shove before looking at Louis, “He asked about you.”

“He didn’t,” Louis said surprised.

“He asked where you were, I told her you were closin’ up tonight and wouldn’t be in for a few hours. He looked pretty bummed.”

The sentiment brought Louis’ spirits up a bit, only for them to come crashing back down. But who was he kidding, really? A rich man coming onto him? It was silly, really. He rationalized the idea for a moment, and felt himself come to terms with the reality of it.

Having a little crush kept him busy and away from boredom. It was sad to let go of that, but he’d been through much worse. 

Later that night, Louis hummed a tune to himself as he wiped off tables in the lobby. His mind was experiencing a blissful nothingness, enjoying the satisfaction of a clean table every few wipes. 

For a moment he got existential, fighting the idea of dying alone. He thought about having a family and not having one, and how heartbreaking or not heartbreaking that would be for him. Maybe he wanted a life alone, away from chaos and heartbreak. Maybe it was for the best.

The pros and cons list grew in his head as he cleaned. A life alone meant he could do what he pleased, fuck who he wanted, and drink as much as he thirsted for for as long as he lived. It was nice, but empty. So, so empty. 

He jumped, knocking over a vase with flowers in it in the process. There was a figure knocking at the window, looking straight at him. 

Picking up the mess quickly, Louis made for the door. He twisted the lock and cracked it open. 

“We’re um, closed.”

Harry smirked at him. Louis opened the door wide enough for Harry to come in.

Louis cleared his throat.

“What can I make you?”

Harry shook his head. 

“I’m not here to bother you with that.”

“Oh.”

Louis walked around the bar, placing his palms on the gold granite of the counter. He looked up, finding Harry standing on the other side. Their faces weren’t close, but Louis could feel the heat radiating between them. 

“I just wanted to give you one last tip, as I won’t be in as much after today.”

“Oh?” Louis nervously responded.

Harry fished a hundred out of his coat pocket, offering it to Louis.

“I had to come by before my flight, I hope this wasn’t a nuisance for you.”

Louis was at a loss for words. Harry was so. Fucking. Hot. He was wearing a tight, dark blue jacket that only went down to his hips. Under the jacket was an even tighter white tee that held onto the skin of Harry’s torso tightly. Behind the counter, Louis could only see the button of Harry’s black jeans, and it caused his stomach to rumble.

“I don’t mind.”

“Uhm,” Harry’s eyes darted down at Louis’ fingers, sliding the hundred bill towards them. Louis felt even more nauseous at the sight of Harry’s thick hands. “This isn’t all I’m here for, actually.”

Louis couldn’t breathe. Harry was so seductive, so charmingly concrete in his gestures. Louis could melt into every breath Harry breathed, and he’d never felt so susceptible to someone’s phrases. 

“What are you doing tonight?” Harry asked.

“Oh, uh,” Louis stuttered, “I’m not doing much of anything, closing, I guess. Closing the shop.”

“So you could, I don’t know,” Harry said coyly, waltzing himself closer to the edge of the counter as if he was about to come round to the side Louis was on. He stopped. “Go with me someplace?”

“I mean,” Louis gulped, “yeah.”

Harry’s smirk grew even deeper into his face, dimples digging into his cheeks. He rounded the corner and stood next to Louis. 

Frozen, Louis stayed facing the front of the store. Harry was now beside him, so close that Louis could smell the slight of cologne on him. 

Harry held up a paper. Louis turned to look at it.

The fuck is that?”

“It’s a ticket, jackass. I’m asking you to make an impromptu trip with me.”

“Oh,” Louis said, his eyes darting down at the paper. It was a ticket; a ticket to Los Angeles. He looked back up to find Harry sending a giant smirk his way. Harry’s eyes followed Louis’ as he stared for a little bit, unable to comprehend what exactly was going on. 

“So?” Harry asked.

Louis shook his head, “this leaves tonight…”

“And you don’t have any plans,” Harry smirked, feeling smug as hell. He gazed down upon Louis, taking note of Louis’ inability to respond. 

Heart pounding in his chest, Louis took a step away from Harry. He was feeling a little uncomfortable with the whole idea, but couldn’t push away the illuminating excitement in his lungs. It burned with a bright flame deep in his chest as his brain searched and scanned for reasons not to go, as well as reasons to go. 

Louis looked back down at the paper, taking note of the first class seat with his name on it. He wasn’t too keen on up and leaving with a stranger, as his mother had told him bad things about them from day one. 

“I work tomorrow, I can’t just...leave.”

Harry took notice of Louis’ actions and walked back around the counter, placing his palms on the granite. 

“Oh, I’m sure Louise won’t mind if you take a sick day. Louis.”

Louis looked up, turning his head to make eye contact with Harry. And suddenly, he was sold.

“I’ll have to grab a few things from my place.”

Harry’s smirk grew into more of a genuine smile. He gestured for Louis to walk with him, which Louis did after grabbing the store keys. 

He locked the door behind them. The two walked with two different energies. Harry’s was filled with an iridescent confidence, while Louis’ was smothered in anxieties of what he’d just gotten himself into. 

“Look,” Harry started, “I’ve got everything planned. You won’t have to worry about a thing. Clothes, food, toothbrushes, all taken care of.”

They arrived at Harry’s car: a black Audi that looked like it had just come fresh off the lot. It was parked right in front of Louis’, which was a sad comparison. 

Getting in the car, Louis actively searched his surroundings for some sort of trap. To his surprise, he found nothing but incredibly smooth leather interior and a handsome man sitting down beside him in the back seat. 

After telling the driver where to go, Harry looked over at Louis, placing his hand on the smaller boys’ knee. 

“I don’t know if I made this clear or not; you can say no.”

Suddenly, Louis’ anxiety melted into a dim nervousness. He nodded his head at Harry, causing Harry’s little genuine smile to make a reappearance. 

The next few hours were filled with driving, security, and minor details Harry would mutter every so often. Little hints as to what was to come littered themselves in conversation as they navigated the airport. Harry seemed to be a frequent flier, nodding at guards and flight attendants. 

Still, Louis found some discomfort in this adventure he’d gotten himself into. It was so unfamiliar and spontaneous. The last ‘spur of the moment’ thing Louis had done was give the bartender his number. Yet every minute or two he would look over at Harry and become overwhelmed with a swarm of butterflies in his stomach.

They boarded the plane, taking their first class seats next to each other. Louis’ knees bounced from the adrenaline pumping through his veins. 

“Really,” Harry soothed, “You don’t have to worry. Even if we get there and you change your mind, I’ll have you back in that very seat on your way home to that sad, sad coffee shop. And that’s okay.”

“I just,” Louis started, “I don’t really understand why you’re doing this. I mean, you don’t know me.”

Harry shrugged his shoulders. 

“Yeah, I don’t.”

Louis turned to face the window. He had no idea what he was doing. He was on a flight to America with a threateningly handsome stranger. As the plane ascended into the air, he settled into his seat and watched the ground become a miniature of what it once was. 

Over the course of the flight, Harry treated Louis with meals, drinks, and several other amenities that Louis had not had the pleasure of receiving on a flight. It was a sip of luxury that made little to no sense to him. Halfway into the flight, Louis felt just tipsy enough to kiss his shyness away. He wasn’t drunk, but he wasn’t sober.

“Is it short for Harold?” Louis asked, tilting his head towards Harry as it rested on the seat.

“No,” Harry smiled, “It’s just Harry. Is Louis short for Louisa?”

“Piss off,” Louis turned his head back to the window, “Harold.”

Harry beamed in his seat. Louis was just… Incredible enticing. The lad’s wrists were slim, holding onto Louis’ nimble hand as it draped over the arm of the airplane seat. He watched Louis’ fingers dance in the air as they seemed to play an imaginary piano. He imagined he could hear the notes.

As a flight attendant passed by, Louis reached over Harry to get her attention. His elbow graced over the zipper of Harry’s pants.

“Get this lad one of those small bottles of rose,” Louis pursued, “please?

Harry squirmed in his seat. Louis’ hand fell down onto the inside of his right thigh, resting patiently as Louis looked into Harry’s eyes.

“This one’s on me, rich boy.”

His stomach did flips as Louis’ hand reached up and lightly slapped his cheek. Louis was digging his own piercing eyes right into Harry’s. For a moment, the two of them felt a wave of sexual tension rise between them. It was sharp, cutting through the air like a high note on a violin. 

Harry resisted the urge to grab Louis by his cheeks, pulling him into a wet kiss. His imagination suggested that he grab the smaller boy right out of the seat and into his lap. 

The thought was interrupted by two small bottles of rose being placed on the console between them. 

“Thank you, ma’am,” Louis said sweetly, grinning at the woman. 

“These are on the house today, Mr. Styles,” she smiled back at them, “Enjoy.”

Louis became incredibly giddy, grabbing Harry’s upper arm.

“Free wine! Drink up, big boy.”

Harry grabbed a bottle and cracked it open. He looked over at Louis who was looking back at him. 

“Cheers.”

Chapter Text

Once they’d landed, the two jet lagged boys found themselves in a car that was rather nicer than the one before. Harry was talking on the phone to someone with one hand on his forehead, looking distressed. Louis made an effort to keep from eavesdropping but could tell that Harry was avoiding some sort of legal conflict. The anxiety was suddenly back with a vengeance. 

Hanging up the phone, Harry looked over at Louis and smiled.

“You hungry?”

Louis nodded, “I could eat.”

“Good,” Harry patted the back of the driver’s seat, “Thanks Gary. We’re here.”

The two got out of the car and made their way towards an extremely nice building. It was an apartment complex situated in the middle of LA, yet made itself look like it was it’s own city. There were fountains lining the walkway to the front door, along with emerald green grass and botanical beauties scattered across the lawn. 

Jesus,” Louis said as they walked, “And you only tipped me a few hundred?”

Harry smirked again, making it clear that he knew he had made quite an intimidating impression on Louis. 

It wasn’t that Harry wanted Louis to feel inadequate, it was more of a need to impress him. Louis was obviously starstruck by the amount of money Harry had, and Harry liked that. It was like he had Louis in the palm of his hand, and Harry was ready to spoil the hell out of him.

They walked into the foyer of the complex, which was a spectacle in itself. It was modern, yet classical. Chandeliers lit up the ceiling while the marble floor reflected its light. Louis was in complete awe of the place. It was intimidating, yes, but it smelled so clean that he put that feeling away for another time. Perhaps for when he was back in his tiny apartment he could worry about what he doesn’t have.

Of course, Harry resided in a penthouse at the top of the building. They hopped in an elevator, making their way to Harry’s. 

“To be fair,” Harry said, breaking the silence caused by Louis’ shock, “It isn’t the most expensive place in LA.”

Louis shook his head. 

“Who the hell are you?”

Harry laughed. The doors opened to the apartment.

Louis rolled his eyes.

“What the fuck is your job?”

Harry waltzed into his living room, laying his coat down on the sofa. 

“Oh, we’re not there yet.”

“It’s just,” Louis scoffed, “If you’re gonna kill me I’d at least feel better if you’d do it somewhere that can afford to have blood on it. Like,” Louis walked over and sat himself down on the gigantic white couch, “I’m sure the touch of red would be a nice addition of color to place, but the value of this couch suddenly has one less zero.”

Harry placed two full glasses of water onto the glass coffee table in front of Louis. 

“I am flattered that you assume I’d kill you in a way that produces so much blood and gore however; that just isn’t my thing.”

Harry sat down on a plush chair across from where Louis was sat on the couch.

“Honestly,” Louis began, sitting up to grab a glass, “what do you do?”

Just then, the elevator door opened. A man wearing a grey blazer and black slacks walked into the room. His black hair was gelled into a perfect quiff, which accented his light brown skin nicely. He was a very well put together man, yet when Harry got up to greet him, the man suddenly looked a thousand bucks cheaper. 

The man looked at Harry, seemingly relieved.

“We’re in the clear,” he glanced over at Louis, “Who the hell is that?”

“My personal barista,” Harry said, donning a sly grin looking over at Louis, who scoffed in reply.

“Okay, well,” the man started again, “You have got to be more careful next time.”

The two men ushered themselves into a separate room in the penthouse, leaving Louis alone in the living room. 

He looked around, admiring the well designed layout of the place. The furniture was all white, interacting well with the black wooden floors. Aside from the furniture were several glass light fixtures and tables. It had a very modern feel to the place, yet there were intricately placed items of color mixed in with the minimalist decor. 

Getting up, Louis looked around the living room some more. He found a few picture frames holding pictures of what seemed like family members of Harry. Yet nothing in the whole room seemed to give Louis any inkling of what Harry did to acquire his wealth. 

One of the pictures was of Harry and a woman. She had curly black hair and dark brown skin with perfect complexion. Harry was hugging her tightly in the photo, kissing her cheek and looking directly into the camera. There were a few other photos of the woman littered across various bookshelves and side tables. 

The man walked back into the room, Harry following close behind. 

“It’s fine,” Harry said cooly, ushering the man into the elevator and pressing the down button, “Everything is under control. I got this. Have a good one.”

The man rolled his eyes as the doors shut. 

Harry spun around to face Louis.

“What have you got there?”

Louis jumped, realizing he was holding onto a picture frame. Harry’s eyes widened, asking Louis for an answer.

“Just curious,” Louis laughed, putting the photograph back in its place.

“Okay,” Harry said, “Anyways, let me show you your bedroom.”

They walked through a narrow hallway and into two french doors that led them to a beauteous room with a king size bed and large windows lining the walls. There were sheer beige curtains lining the windows. The bed was flush with pillows and a fluffy white comforter. 

Harry pointed at a wooden dresser in a corner of the room. 

“There are plenty of clothes for you to sort through there. I guessed you were a size small, so if anything doesn’t fit just let me know but…” He looked Louis up and down, “I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’ll let you settle in. Oh, and,” Harry turned, stopping before shutting the two doors, “I have a tailor coming to fit you for a suit in fifteen minutes. Have fun.”

The doors shut behind Harry. Louis gaped at the massive room in front of him. He planted himself onto the bed, feeling it bounce a little. 

What the hell had he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

Louis walked into the living room. He was fully fitted in a personally tailored suit. It was a dark navy blue, a black tie drooping down from his neck. Two buttons brought the blazer together just above his belly button. It fit him like a glove, tightly wound around his torso in just the right way. 

Harry was sitting on the couch. He pressed his hands together, his long fingers meeting at his lips. When he heard Louis come in, he peered up. 

The lad looked strikingly handsome. It was surely a step up from a coffee stained tee and ripped jeans, though that was handsomely sexy in its own way. 

Not only did Louis look like a million bucks, but he radiated a scent of oak and honey. He smelled sweet as he walked closer to Harry, doing a cocky turn to show off his new suit.

A snarky remark failed to escape Harry’s lips. Louis was beaming with confidence, something he had been lacking before. It warmed Harry’s heart to give Louis what he deserved. 

“Well?” Louis asked.

Harry stood up. 

“You look amazing.”

“Yes, I know,” Louis responded assuredly. He knew he looked hot. His eyes darted towards the lower half of Harry’s body. There was a tightness in the tall lad’s pants that Louis hadn’t noticed before. It caused his stomach to flip over on itself. 

“Well,” Harry cleared his throat, “Cars here.”

“What?” Louis questioned.

Harry tapped the top of Louis’ shoulders, gripping onto them for a moment.

“What, you thought I dressed you all up for myself?”

They eventually arrived at Montage, an upscale hotel in Beverly Hills. The two entered into a large ballroom filled to the brim with well dressed guests. 

People flew around tables with their glasses of wine and mixed drinks. Louis watched them for a beat, unsure of whether or not he was really meant to be there. A part of him wanted to dart out of the room and never look back, but Harry grabbed onto his arm, bringing him out of his mind.

Harry leaned in to Louis’ ear and whispered: “You’re okay, just stay with me.”

Louis shivered, goosebumps running up his neck. He could feel Harry’s whisper slide through his ear and down his shoulder like a melting ice cube. 

They walked over to a group of three men. Each man greeted Harry with a firm handshake. One of them turned towards Louis.

“And who’s this… small glass of water?”

“This,” Harry put his arm around Louis’ shoulders, “Is Louis.”

One of the men offered his hand towards Louis, “Pleasure to meet you, Louis. I’m Stan, I work with the tall one.”

“So,” another man started, “Will you be working with us, Louis?”

Harry cut in before Louis could answer, “He’s just visiting for a few days.”

“Hmm, well,” the man in the middle responded, “Hopefully we’ll entice you into it, Louis.”

Louis looked over at Harry in confusion. To his surprise, Harry didn’t seem to enthused about what the man had said. 

“Let’s grab some drinks, shall we?”

Harry walked past Louis in a hurry towards the bar. Louis went to follow him, but was pulled into a tight grip by one of the men.

“I’d like to get to know you better, Louis. Where are you from?”

“Doncaster. I was kind of taken by surprise with this whole trip.”

The men looked amongst themselves, smirking as if they knew something he didn’t. 

Before they could distract him anymore, Harry had a hand on his shoulder. Louis turned to face Harry, who was giving a glare towards the three men in front of them. 

The two walked towards the bar together. 

“So what’s this about me working with you? I mean, I’d be inclined to listen to your offer if I fucking knew what it was,” Louis said snarkily.

Harry sighed, resting his arm on the wooden bar. 

“You’re not here to work for me, that’s not what this is.”

Louis rolled his eyes, “Then what am I here for?”

Harry looked at him, and then proceeded to order a drink for himself and Louis.

“Well?” Louis barked.

The bartender set two glasses on the bar. One was a vodka tonic, the other was whiskey.

“Take your pick,” Harry ordered.

Louis grabbed the vodka tonic, sipping from the small black straws. As he gulped, he noticed Harry watching him intently. He then decided to use this to his advantage. He dipped back in for another sip, but decided to toy with the straws with his tongue, teasing the hell out of Harry.

The corner of Harry’s mouth angled itself upward. Louis was absolutely adorable. He watched as Louis continued to shove his tongue into the liquid, grabbing an ice cube that would end up slipping back into the glass. 

Harry inched closer to Louis as he leaned against the bar. His head angled itself in towards Louis’ neck, which Louis tilted his head to help quicken the process of another whisper that would cause his pants to tighten. The whisper was cut short when an older man approached them.

“Harry, you’ve outdone yourself,” the handsome man interjected, “how much?”

Louis jerked his head away from Harry, giving a stern look. 

Harry shook his head at the man, who got the message and walked off.

“What the fuck was that?” Louis snarled, “Fuck that, I’m going home.”

“Louis,” Harry exhaled.

“No, this is fucked,” Louis exclaimed, making his way for the door. He chugged the drink in his hand and slammed it down on one of the clothed tables, drawing attention to himself. It garnered a few whistles in the process, which Louis shrugged off. 

Harry followed him quickly outside the building, where Louis was hastily tapping at his phone in search of a ride. 

“Louis, that’s not what’s going on.”

Louis scoffed, “Doesn’t matter, I’m not here for that.”

“You’re right,” Harry caught up with Louis, putting himself in front of the boy. He set his hands on each of Louis’ shoulders, “You’re not here for that. Let me buy you dinner and explain.”

Louis stared bitterly at Harry.

“Please?” 

Chapter Text

The two sat across from each other at an elegant restaurant in Beverly Hills. Harry sipped from his glass of brandy while Louis sipped another vodka tonic. They stayed pretty silent, ordering food in between bouts of stillness.

“So you’re like a fucking pimp or something?” Louis coldly broke the silence.

“I’m not a bloody pimp,” Harry jeered in response.

“What is it then? Why did that gereatric fuck ask me ‘how much’ like I’m his viagra prescription? Christ.” 

Louis was evidently livid, intently focused on the lime in his drink. He was dedicated to keeping from making eye contact with Harry, who was fixedly keeping his own eyes glued to Louis. Harry’s eyes begged for Louis’ attention.

“It’s, jesus…” Harry painfully fought for an explanation that didn’t make him come off as exactly what Louis had called him in the first place, “I run a business, okay? A regular business with customers and employees. It’s just… different.”

Louis finally met Harry’s stare. “Okay. You run a business.”

“Yes, thank you,” Harry said with a sigh of relief. He took another sip from his glass.

“Bet there’s a lot of money in the pimp business,” Louis sipped hastily from his glass, watching the ice appear as the liquid vanished.

“I’m not a bloody- fuck,” Harry puffed, “Look. Okay, yes, I work with escorts. But it’s much more complicated than that.”

“Uh huh,” Louis sipped again, slurping the remainder of drink in the glass.

“It’s professional sex work. It’s sex for money, yes, but it’s respectable and safe and- Fuck, yeah, I guess I’m a pimp, Louis. But that’s not why you’re here.”

“Why then?” Louis questioned, feeling frustrated again, “Why not put a sexy little twink on the market, huh? By the sound of it, I’m a cash cow.”

The waitress approached them, food in hand. She set plates of beautifully prepared entrees in front of them. They thanked her politely, keeping restrained so as to not give in to their heated conversation.

Once she left, Harry set his elbows down at the table. His hands were together and against his lips. 

“You peaked my interest,” he stated.

“Did I?”

“Yes,” Harry continued, “I’m interested in getting to know you.”

Louis was caught off guard. Honestly, he was expecting Harry’s generosity to be an elaborate ploy for something. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that Harry had some sort of motive; up until now. He was out of excuses, out of reasons to up and leave. Yet he wasn’t through with being cautious of the handsome, handsome stranger that ordered coffee from him weeks ago. He sat up straight, putting his hands in his lap in a mockingly polite way, “What do you want to know?”

Surprised, Harry replied: “Where did you grow up?”

They finished their dinner over similar mindless “getting to know you” questions. They eventually found themselves laughing over a shared interest: the movie “Grease”. The giggles came to a screeching halt when Louis asked:

“So how did you get to where you are?”

Harry suddenly fell silent. He cleared his throat, “We should go.”

Louis squinted his eyes at Harry, confused, “Sorry?”

“Let’s go. C’mon.”

Rolling his eyes, Louis got up and followed Harry out of the restaurant and into a car that was waiting for them outside. 

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Louis said after about five minutes into their quiet ride.

“I know,” Harry replied calmly, “I know.” 

They sat again in silence, the car jerking every now and then at turns and intersections. Louis leaned over, resting his head on Harry’s shoulder.

“You’re a pretty interesting pimp,” he whispered.

Harry chuckled. He looked over his shoulder, where Louis’ head was resting. A smile broke out on his face as he let one of his hands find itself messing with the lad’s hair for a brief moment. It was silky, soft like a long haired puppy fresh from the groomers. It smelled nice, too. 

“We’re home,” Harry said in a hushed tone. 

When Louis lifted his head, he met Harry’s gaze. They gently smiled at each other. It was warm, like a cup of tea that’s been cooling down on a table for a few minutes. 

They rode up the elevator and into Harry’s flat. It was a bit too quiet when they walked into the living room, so Harry put a record on. The song that played was Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head On My Shoulder”. Harry turned around and jokingly danced towards Louis, pulling the small lad close. They began to dance together playfully. Louis’ left hand was in Harry’s, while Harry’s right hand was on Louis’ waist.

“So,” Louis started, “You like swing music?”

Harry smiled down at Louis, “It’s catchy.”

The song faded out and started playing another one, causing the two to break apart. They landed on the couch, a couch cushion in between them.

“I’ve never been with a guy,” Harry said.

Louis looked over at him, “What?”

“I mean,” Harry began, “I’ve never really been obsessed with sexuality. Never put a lot of thought into it, I mean.”

“Huh,” Louis pondered. He reached a hand over, letting a finger twirl in a curl on Harry’s head.

“But I like you.”

Louis laughed, “Omg, handsome Harry has a crush on me?”

“He does,” Harry beamed back at Louis, his crooked smile creating a dimple on the right side of his cheek, “But anyways, it’s late. Bed?”

“YES!” Louis groaned, “I’m so damn excited to sleep on a mattress that doesn’t have holes in it.”

Harry admired the excitement in the tired boy’s voice. The two proceeded to get up off the couch and make their way to their bedrooms. 

“Goodnight,” Harry said gently before Louis closed the french doors to his bedroom.

“Goodnight.”

Chapter Text

The aroma of pancakes filled Louis’ nostrils when he woke up the next morning. He stretched his arms, enjoying the comfort of the king sized bed. With a yawn, he got himself out of his array of comfortable blankets and pillows and made his way for the kitchen.

Harry stood behind the counter at the stove. His eyes shot up at Louis.

“Morning sleepy head,” he cooed, his voice still crackly from having just woken up, “Coffee?”

Louis sat down on a stool at the counter where there was a freshly brewed coffee in front of him, “This is for me?”

“Well no,” Harry responded, reaching behind him to grab a different mug full of coffee, “This one’s yours. I didn’t know how you took it. Cream?”

Louis stretched his arms in his lap as he nodded. Harry proceeded to pour a little cream from an adorable baby blue ceramic pitcher that seemed like a miniature in Harry’s hands. 

Sunlight beamed in from the floor to ceiling windows that lined the apartment. It helped Louis feel a little less sleepy as he took a sip from his coffee. 

“What’s the plan for today, hmm?” Louis said, his two hands cradling his coffee cup as he sipped.

“Have you ever been to LA?” Harry asked.

Louis shook his head, “No, never.”

“Well then!” Harry exclaimed, walking around the counter with two plates of pancakes in his hands. He set one plate in front of Louis and one next to it for himself, sitting down next to Louis on the stool beside the lad, “We are going to be tourists today.”

They ate their pancakes, cracking little jokes to each other between bites of butter and syrup. Louis took it upon himself to grab their empty plates and wash them in the sink.

Harry watched the smaller lad as he scrubbed at the sticky plates. It was reminiscent of Louis at the coffee shop, scrubbing shot glasses in the sink. He felt fuzzy watching Louis. I mean god, he hadn’t had a crush since grade school, and here he was; nervous to ask Louis out to lunch. It was a brand new feeling.

There were always attractive men, but never someone like this. Harry had fucked his fair share of women, enjoying each person with gratitude and pleasure. Louis brought something new and exciting to the table. Not only was Louis an enticingly sexy and adorable being in himself, but he was evidently genuine with his feelings and his attitude. There were no screens put up for Harry to decipher between real and fake; Louis was pure, not from concentrate. And damn, it was getting fucking hard to resist kissing him.

“What?” Louis laughed.

“You’re cute.”

Louis rolled his eyes. Harry was beginning to grow very fond of that stupid eye roll. 

Harry watched Louis leave the room to shower and get dressed for their adventure in the city. It was the first time Harry recognized Louis’ ass, bulging through loose boxers and through a loose grey tee shirt. It made his lower stomach tickle with arousal. He put a palm to his dick, trying to calm himself down, but it didn’t do much.

Just then, his phone rang on the kitchen island. He picked it up to stop it from buzzing on the granite. 

“Harry.”

His dick went from solid to limp in .2 seconds. 

When Louis walked back in the room, Harry was still on the phone with a hand over his eyes in frustration. 

By mistake, Harry had slipped one of his tees into Louis’ dresser. It hung loose over Louis’ torso, barely clinging onto the smaller lad’s shoulders. Even so, it looked fantastic on him. 

“I’ll have to call you back,” Harry hung up the phone.

Louis shrugged his shoulders, “Too big, maybe?”

Harry walked over, putting his hands over Louis’ shoulders. Without control, his hands slowly sunk down to Louis’ hips, getting caught at the boy’s waist. He clung on loosely, then tightly, feeling Louis’ tender skin through the shirt. 

His chest heaved up and down a little quicker than before. Harry felt hot all of a sudden, as if someone had set the thermostat up a few degrees. His eyes worked their way up Louis’ chest and into his eyes. 

Louis’ eyes danced from one of Harry’s eyes to the next. He felt it too, the sudden heat. He looked down at Harry’s lips wantingly. 

All at once, Harry cleared his throat and took a step back. 

“Something came up, I have an uh, I have a meeting. I’m sorry.”

Disappointed, Louis looked down. 

“Oh.”

“I promise,” Harry said, grabbing his and putting it on, “We’ll do something tonight.”

He put the jacket on and made his way for the elevator. As he waited for it to open, he turned back to Louis.

“Something great.”

And with that, he left.

Louis stood alone in the penthouse, wondering just what he could do with his time. I mean, he was alone in a random apartment in a city he’d never been in before. The options were endless. He took it upon himself to make a day out of it- he’d go downtown and walk around, taking in the sights. 

He was just about ready to go out on the town; a navy blue jacket in one hand, a cigarette in the other. As he stood in front of the elevator, he turned his head towards the other end of the apartment. His curiosity took over his brain as he decided to snoop a little before leaving. I mean, he had all day, didn’t he?

When he’d reached the end of the hallway, he stood in front of the door to what he assumed to be Harry’s bedroom. For a moment he hesitated, knowing that opening the door and walking in would be an invasion of privacy. Every moral bone in his body told him that he probably shouldn’t, but by then, he had already opened the door.

The room was an absolute wreck. There were clothes covering the entirety of the floor. Any other surface was littered with crumpled up pieces of paper, mugs, and other miscellaneous clutter.

Taking a step into the bedroom, his eyes caught onto what seemed to be a planner. Of course, he snooped through it. The pages were strewn with dates and names beside titles of some sort. It seemed to be a schedule of the many escorts Harry was in charge of. 

Reality hit him. Harry was a glorified pimp who had invited him to stay at his house. Harry was showering Louis with luxuries and gifts and assorted pleasantries. He felt like an idiot, like he’d taken the bait.

There was no way in hell that Harry was doing all of this out of pure and utter fatuation. 

He threw the planner down onto a pile of dirty clothes and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

To his surprise, a woman was standing in the living room.

“Who the hell are you?”

Chapter Text

“Um,” Louis started, “H-How did you get in here? Who are you?”

The woman stared frightfully at Louis. Her hand was wrapped around the handle of a carseat with a tight grip. 

“I’ll call the cops,” she demanded, “I’m the only other person with a key to this house. Who are you?”

She was obviously terrified. Her free hand was held out as if to stop Louis from stepping any closer. 

“Okay, okay,” Louis said calmingly, “I’m Louis, a friend of Harry’s.”

The woman was still tense. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“Harry left for a meeting or something, he’ll be back later tonight,” Louis held his hands up in the air.

She eased up a little, setting the carseat down on the ground, “You need to leave.”

“Hold on,” Louis began, walking into the kitchen and setting his palms onto the counter, “Can you tell me who you are?”

“You don’t need to know my name,” she said, unbuckling her child from the seat and picking it up, “You need to leave. Escorts aren’t supposed to stay here. You may be new and not know it, and that’s okay, but-”

“I’m not an escort,” Louis said confidently.

The woman seemed stumped. She popped the kid onto her hip and narrowed her eyes at Louis.

“Explain?”

“I- Harry invited me here a few days ago. I don’t really know what’s going on myself so I can’t really tell you, but-”

“He invited you?” She said, surprised, “He would do something like that, actually. Kid’s an idiot,” she sat down on the couch, feeling more relaxed.

“Yes, now,” Louis started, “Who are you?”

“Oh,” she sighed, “I’m Abigail. Good friend of Harry’s.”

Louis quickly recognized the woman- she was in one of the picture frames. His mind was suddenly fighting from asking her a million questions. “Is that-”

“No,” Abigail shook her head, “It’s not Harry’s. All mine. Aaaaallll mine. I’m sure he wishes, though. He wants to be a mother so bad,” she suddenly pulled her boob out and started breastfeeding the child, “You said your name’s Louis?”

“Uhm, yeah.”

“Well it’s nice to meet you, Louis. And you said you don’t really know what’s going on?”

“Uhh, yeah.”

“Figures,” she started, “Harry probably doesn’t either. He’s a nice guy, though. Where is he again?”

“Meeting, I think. I don’t know, that’s what he said.”

There was a beat of awkward silence. Abigail looked down at the baby and then up at Louis.

“Are you guys sleeping together or what?”

“What?! No,” Louis exclaimed, embarrassed.

“I knew he wasn’t straight.”

He was severely embarrassed now, and still quite curious as to who the hell this woman was to Harry. She had a key to the apartment. She had a baby. She knew him well. 

“Are you and Harry, um, are you guys like-”

“Ex girlfriend,” Abigail assured him, “But good friends. I’m not a threat, boy. The baby’s not his either, so you can relax your shoulders and breathe.”

Louis nervously laughed.

The elevator dinged and opened. It was Harry.

“What the hell?” Harry cursed.

Abigail turned her head, “Evenin!”

Harry gasped, “Is that Johanna?”

“Sure is,” Abigail popped the child off of her chest and lifted her so that Harry could grab her.

As Harry held the baby, he cooed and spoke in baby talk. It was absolutely adorable to watch, but still a little confusing to Louis. So much had happened in a short amount of time.

“So what was this meeting?” Abigail barked.

Harry groaned, “STD’s, so much fun. You can never be too careful. Always wear a condom kids.”

“Oh, I know Harry. I know.”

“What are you doing here? I thought you were in New York?” Harry questioned.

“Turns out,” Abigail stood up and put her hands on her hips, “The author is an absolute prick and got himself a DUI and spent the entirety of his book signing locked up! Go figure. On a more important note,” She looked over to Louis, “You never learned to communicate, did you?”

“Oh jesus,” Harry moaned, “I’m so sorry. Louis, this is-”

“We met,” Louis stated.

“Oh,” Harry responded. He felt a little awkward, not really knowing what had occurred while he was gone. 

“Louis,” Abigail kept her eyes locked on Harry, “Would you give us a minute?”

“Sure,” Louis said, cutting across the living room and into the guest bedroom across the hall.

Abigail looked at Harry with demanding eyes. 

“So this is what you’re doing now?”

Harry looked down at his feet. 

“I’m not really sure what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, no shit!” She shouted, taking Johanna and plopping herself back down on the sofa. “Look, Harry, I’m worried about you. I haven’t spoken to you in weeks. First I hear you’re being hunted down by the law, you constantly call me drunk off your ass, and now you’re inviting random strangers to come stay with you? I mean really, what’s going on?”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Harry began, sitting down beside her on the sofa, “I’m really trying to figure it out though, really.” He sunk into the couch dejectedly, feeling called out. “I’m fucking confused and at a loss as to what I should be doing. I’m really, really at a loss here.”

Abigail sighed. “I want you to be better, Harry. I really do.”

“I know, I know.”

“Do you want me to come stay with you?”

“No.”

“Harry.”

“No, really,” Harry said assuredly, “I think I’m okay.”

“Okay,” She replied, believing him, “But Harry… You can’t keep trying to put everything away. Like, Louis seems great. He’s hot as hell but cute at the same time, which is great, but like… He’s just a temporary fix and you know that, right?”

Louis’ curiosity got the best of him. By now he’d put an ear up to the door and was listening in, hearing a muffled version of their conversation.

“You’ve been here before Harry. Remember Tasha? That went pretty poorly. And Carianne? Kendra? I really love you and care about you and I just… I want you to know that I notice. And I’m only saying this because I do notice when you shift your habits and… I mean, you have shifted.”

Louis sunk to the ground. He was disappointed to hear that he wasn’t the first spontaneous “go with me to some foreign place” kind of fling for Harry. But something inside of him knew all along to keep his hopes low, so it wasn’t too hard of a blow for him. It still stung deep in his stomach, though.

He listened in and out of the conversation, reading that Harry wasn’t exactly the perfect millionaire Louis had painted him to be in his head. Harry was a person with problems, baggage and no one to claim it. 

Abigail eventually left, hugging Harry and leaving an “I love you” in his ear before she left. Louis waited a couple seconds before escaping the room.

“Everything okay?” Louis asked, entering the living room.

Harry was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. He looked up at Louis, spreading a plastic smile on his face.

“Yeah, I’m good,” He sniffled, “Want to get some food?”

Louis walked into the kitchen. “Hmm,” he said, peaking in the fridge, “Holy shit, you’ve got so many eggs.”

The comment lightened up the energy in the room by a landslide. 

“I like eggs,” Harry chuckled.

“Omelet?” Louis asked.

“Omelet du fromage,” Harry said in a ridiculous french accent. 

“Ohhhh watch out everyone,” Louis waved his arms frantically, “He speaks French.”

Harry stood up and walked over, leaning his elbows on the counter.

“Oui oui, monsieur.” He sniffled. “Did you hear any of that or…?”

Louis shook his head, “No. Not nearly interesting enough for me to eavesdrop.”

“Good,” Harry said, nervously laughing. 

It was odd. As Louis watched Harry sip from a stale cup of coffee, he felt eerily more attracted to him. He saw Harry as a person; a living, breathing bundle of skin and bones that felt and experienced life just as he himself did. Harry wasn’t so much an intimidating stranger as much as he was a person Louis ached to learn. 

“I can make you a fresh cup,” Louis peeked over the counter at the cup in Harry’s hand. 

Harry smiled, “You really have to stand on your tiptoes to look over the counter. God, you’re cute.”

Louis blushed.

“But um,” Harry continued, “why don’t we go give a handsome tip to another barista? Downtown?”

Louis enthusiastically agreed. 

They made their outside of the building, finding a path along the side of the road that led them straight to the heart of the city. The sun was beginning to set, but was still shining a bright orange glow on windows that littered the tall buildings amongst them. As they walked, Louis eagerly sought after who Harry truly was.

“When you’re not pimping, what do you do? Like what does a ‘casual Friday’ look like for Harry?”

“I try to binge watch as many shows on Netflix as I possibly can,” Harry responded, his hands nestled loosely in the pockets of his light brown leather jacket, “but like, last week I just ended up watching A Walk to Remember. I’d say it was a mistake but- it was definitely on purpose.”

Louis chuckled. “I do that with Grease quite a lot, actually.”

“Really?” Harry asked, “You’d make a great Danny Zuko.”

“Shut it!” Louis flirtatious sacked him in the arm. “You’re right, though. I would. I did, actually.”

“WHAT?”

They eventually found themselves leaning over a metal guard rail overlooking the overpass. The sun was sunken into the distant hills, only giving a slight glimpse of light along with a scarlet purple haze over the city. The cars hissed along the freeway as they continued talking about mindless things; movies they’d never see, songs they’d written but would never sing, and people they’d loved but would never love again. 

“My mother quite liked her tea,” Louis breathed, “She’d make a fuss at the shops if they didn’t have Earl Grey. But not just any Earl Grey, it had to be her brand.”

“Mmm, love a good Earl Grey,” Harry added.

Louis turned his head to look at Harry, his elbows supporting him on the metal beam, “Thought you were one for stupidly complicated lattes?”

“To be honest,” Harry looked back at him, “I don’t really like those drinks very much.”

Louis squinted his eyes at him. “Why the fuck did you order it then?”

“I had a craving,” Harry kept his eyes on the road below them for a second, then peeked at Louis, who was still angrily staring back at him. It was a cute angry, though. It was a ‘I know you are deliberately trying to piss me off but I am genuinely a little pissed off at you now’ kind of angry.

“I’m never making you coffee ever again.”

“Oh,” Harry turned to face him. They were standing very close. He looked down at the smaller lad, smiling, “Say it isn’t so.”

“Never.”

“Never?”

Louis’ breath hitched. He could feel Harry’s heat radiating onto him. The wind was blowing around them, a light breeze struggling to get in between their bodies. His eyes caught onto Harry’s lips. “Never,” he said very lightly.

Harry’s hand slowly grabbed onto the back of Louis’ neck. His fingers pressed onto the delicate skin with just enough pressure to push Louis’ head closer. 

Their lips met gently, softly connecting like two petals on a rose. They both leaned into each other, letting the feeling tumble down their bodies like droplets of water. For a brief moment, they both pulled away, leaving about an inch of space in between their faces. The radiation of heat felt like a soft blanket as they breathed quicker. Time slowed down, letting them take in the moment as it happened. 

Harry smiled down at Louis, still cradling his neck with a strong grip. Louis smiled back, only to let the smile go as he pushed himself into Harry for another. 

They kissed again with a little more passion and heat. It was stronger, saturated in incandescence and the wetness of their lips. When they let go, a little laugh bounced between them. 

Harry let his hand fall so that his arm was draped over Louis’ shoulder. They gazed again at the cars on the road, the glow from the sun and the string of headlights on the overpass. Louis wrapped his arm around Harry’s waist and folded his head onto Harry’s shoulder. 

Chapter Text

It was about 8:00 PM by the time they’d made their way back to the penthouse. Louis calmly slipped off his jacket and sat down on the couch while Harry hurried to the kitchen.

“Rosé, red, or white?”

Louis turned his head towards Harry. 

“Rosé.”

Harry poured two generous glasses full of the pink wine while Louis watched. Harry was so long and slender, especially in the light grey jacket that slumped over his shoulders like water over a cliff. His arms seemed to go on forever, and Louis found it incredibly enticing the way his fingers made the two wine glasses look like miniatures. 

Louis took a glass from Harry as he sat down beside him, offering the glass in the air. “Cheers.”

“Cheers,” Harry said back, the corner of his mouth rising into a small smile. 

They sipped from their glasses and secretly stared at each other through the corners of their eyes. Louis felt his inside flip watching Harry’s lips on the corner of his glass; hugging onto the rim graciously. 

He suddenly felt nervous, which- what’s new? He’d felt nervous for the entirety of his stay, but this felt slightly different. Like now this thing- whatever it was- suddenly mattered. Like he cared about what Harry thought, about what Harry’s sudden glances were for, about everything. Soon, he felt riddled with anxiety of what to say, how to please Harry.

He opened his mouth in hopes to crack a joke, to make Harry kiss him like that again. However, a small buzz interrupted him, causing his bottom lip to curl into the top one. 

“Fuck,” Harry cursed, setting his glass down, “Sorry.” He fishes his phone out of his pocket, peeks at the caller ID, and sighs. His shoulders sink into their sockets as he rolls his eyes, pressing the phone to his ear and getting up to leave the room.

He came back with his fingers pinched to his eyes.

“Yeah, yeah. No, I’ll be there soon. Bye.”

Louis perked up. 

“I er-” Harry looked up, “I have to take care of something.”

He grabbed his jacket and made for the door, causing Louis to eagerly jump to his feet.

“Can I come?” He said with anxious excitement, immediately regretting his needy impatience.

Harry turned, his brow furrowed, “It’s er- Work.”

“Oh please, please-” Louis smirked, “I’d love to see a pimp in action.” He grabbed his jacket, “I’m coming with you.”

Harry sent a glare back at Louis, “Jesus christ.”

And off they went into a rather luxurious town car. Harry muffled an address to the driver before turning back to Louis.

“Look,” He whispered, “I- It’s a real business. So this isn’t like-”

“I know, I know.” Louis rolled his eyes. “I’ll be a good boy, promise.”

The comment made Harry soften. 

In a hideously gorgeous hotel, they found themselves on the fifteenth floor surrounded by cream colored doors with various numbers on them. Harry walked with purpose down the hall, making his way for door number 549. There was an intimidatingly large man stood in front of the door draped in black, looking very professional and set on protecting something- someone, most likely. 

Harry approached the man, said a jumble of apparently important words, followed by a disappointed sigh. He looked down at the ground, shook his head, and turned his head to Louis.

It was like Harry was hiding half of his world from Louis, which, Louis couldn’t blame him. There was some shame in his line of work, though Louis didn’t mind it all that much. He felt safe, felt like he was in the right hands and that Harry was doing everything morally right. However, Harry had a glint of shame in his eyes that hurt Louis a bit. 

He was actually quite intrigued, really. The whole idea was a foggy mystery that he was eager to wipe clean of its misty walls- he wanted to know, wanted to learn the ins and outs. He was curious, interested in how the business worked.

Harry averted his gaze to the door, putting in a key and turning the knob.

It was… really something. 

“Welcome to the Red Room,” Harry sighed, his shoulders sinking deep into his back with guilt. 

Louis’ eyes gaped at the room. It was entirely… Well, red. The couches, the carpet, the ceiling- all of it. It had a very regal yet- evil feel to it. Sinister, maybe, in its mockingly scarlet shadows and blood colored curtains. 

“Wow,” Louis breathed. He turned to look for Harry but- Harry was gone. The door shut before Louis could see him leave, and suddenly- the crimson that painted his cheeks was from a sheer terror. 

Where the fuck did he go? I mean, it certainly couldn’t be that bad of a situation, and Louis calmed when he remembered the husky man that was guarding the door. Surely, he wasn’t in any danger, but it was rather frightening to be draped in the red haze around him.

As the door creaked open, Louis’ blood settled. His heart beat resorted to a normal pace, finally.

“Thank god, I thought-”

But it wasn’t Harry.

It was a rather large man sauntering towards Louis with a mischievously seductive glint in his eyes. It didn’t help that the moonlight careening into the room through the curtains covered the large man in a bloody blanket of red. 

“Can I help you?” Louis barked, his fear coming off as strength, which- thank god.

“Yes,” The man laughed, “Yes you can.”

Louis’ blood curdled from the sheer terror that bellowed deep in his stomach. His back burned, hairs rising all over his body. Fists clenched, he purposefully started taking steps backwards. “Oh, I don’t fucking think so.”

“Oh! Yes!” The man hollered, his arms spread wide as he stomped closer and closer towards Louis, “I absolutely adore when they play hard to get.” 

Louis’ heels clicked against the clawfoot couch behind him and fuck. He held onto the rim of the sofa for dear life, clinging on with all of his strength as the man gripped at his arms. He was utterly terrified, begging his adrenaline to kick in so that he could fight for himself.

The world was spinning. Spinning dreadfully fast as his face flushed white, giving the crimson room a better canvas to paint on. He felt cold and hot at the same time, his ears ringing like an antique telephone. 

There was shouting out in the hall, yells that had a familiarity to them. Within a few seconds, as the man leans in to Louis' neck, the door slams open to reveal Harry- Chest bulging with frantic breath and fists clenched at his sides. 

Louis manages to glance past the man at Harry, fear riddling the room until it fucking vibrates, but he can’t move. He can’t speak, he just… can’t. 

“HEY” The man hollers with a terrifyingly low rumble, “I’m afraid its my turn,” he demands, only to be met with the body of the very large man from outside. 

They crash to the ground, causing a thud that wakes Louis from his disheartening trance. He blinks, opening his eyes to Harry standing very, very close to him, arms clinging onto his shoulders with a worried force.

“Are you okay? God, Louis- Are you alright?” Harry begs.

Louis still can’t speak. He’s trying to wake himself up, trying to come out of it and when he does- he’s shoving Harry emphatically.

“What the FUCK is this?” Louis shouts, anger tingling down his arms, his legs; but thank GOD he’s feeling something. 

Harry ushers him out of the room, offering comforting hushes and rubbing his back on the way. Louis, however, isn’t having it. He swats at Harry’s arms.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Louis roars, “I-I need to leave. Now.” He’s running his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“I know, Louis,” Harry cautiously follows him as he makes his way down the hall. “I’ll take you home and-”

“NO” Louis barks, “I’m not going back with you, fuck no.”

He’s really, really angry. Embarrassed, violated, and angry. And Harry is following him as he runs into the elevator, following him into the street, following. 

“I’m so sorry, Louis, please,” Harry is begging. He’s calling a cab and begging to comfort Louis, but Louis is livid and acting like a right child in his aggravation. Harry remains calm. He finally manages to lay a calm hand on Louis’ shoulder when the car rolls up to the sidewalk.

In the car, Louis is silent. He stares out the window with a glare that could possibly break the glass. 

“I’m sorry, Louis. I really didn’t mean for that to happen.”

There’s a tinge of heartbreak in his voice. For a moment, Louis softens, trying to understand what is going on. Still, he doesn’t speak.

“The guard wouldn’t let me in- company rules and all, not even I’m allowed in unless it’s dire and-It took too long to convince him and-” He breaks a little, throwing his arms in his lap, “I’m just sorry.”

The silence is heavy. 

Finally, Harry sighs. 

“I’ll book you a flight as soon as possible.” He breathes, sunken and guilty in his seat. “I’m sorry.”

Louis doesn’t speak for the rest of the night. He doesn’t sleep, either. He just lays in bed, stares at the ceiling, and finally, cries a little bit. He lets out a small sob that relieves the aching violation in his chest. 

It all spirals like water going down a drain. His thoughts meander from dark to black in hopes of a reason, an explanation. The answers aren’t there, only hypotheticals that could be answered if he asked, but he didn’t want to.

What happened? Why did Harry leave? Who the hell was that? 

He comes to the conclusion that no matter what- Harry failed him on all fronts. That Harry left him alone, vulnerable in a room that was meant for taking advantage of that vulnerability. 

The sun rises, shining light onto the endless bags beneath his eyes. It’s probably five in the morning, early enough for Louis to get up and make coffee, so he does. He gets out of the ridiculously comfortable mattress and makes his way into the living room and-

Harry.

Harry’s sitting on the couch with the empty bottle of wine in his right hand. He looks just as surprised to see Louis, his face lighting up a little bit, only to sink back into its guilt ridden state again, as if he had forgotten and remembered the night in a matter of seconds.

And Louis is still so, so angry. 

“Um,” Harry clears his throat, “Flight leaves in a few hours. I was gonna wake you in a few, driver can take you whenever. Waiting downstairs when you’re ready.” He’s slurring his words together a little bit, evidently pissed in the saddest way. 

“Thanks,” Louis replies softly, his voice not warmed up to speak just yet.

“I’m sorry, Louis.” Harry pleads, his voice breaking a little. It’s genuine, sad. 

It’s not that Louis doesn’t recognize how truly guilty Harry is, it’s that he has too much pride to take what happened and let it not affect him. Especially not from someone he’s merely just met. But Harry does strike a chord in him- does something unreal in his chest. He tightens his heart with thin strings and carries himself back into the bedroom.

As the door shuts behind him with a loud thud, he can’t help but recognize a soft cry from the living room. It breaks his heart slightly, just slightly. But he carries on, grabbing his things and taking a grounding breath before walking back out.

As expected, Harry is red eyed.  He stands to his feet when Louis reenters the room.

“I’ll walk you out.”

“No thanks,” Louis says harshly, striding past Harry and pressing the door to the lift. It opens, and Louis enters. When he turns back around, he finds Harry looking down at his feet- defeated. But he carries on. He goes down, gets into the car, and heads for the airport.

He goes home. He is driven in luxurious cars and rides first class to find himself crawling back into his dull apartment that reeks of dirty laundry and a bowl of cereal he left out before work when he’d left. 

He saunters to bed, pulling the sheets over his face, and sighs.

There’s no way he’d see Harry again, even if he wanted to. They didn’t have each others contact, and, Louis had made it pretty clear that Harry wasn’t welcome back into the shop. 

And he wasn’t quite sure how he felt about never seeing those curls again.

Chapter Text

It’s been two agonizingly slow weeks.

Louis’ returned to the shop, pouring shots and flirting with customers in hopes for a generous tip, but they’re never as large in sum as the ones he’d received from Harry. 

Since returning home, he’s been unforgivingly bored out of his mind. Suddenly, having company was a craving that he’d never yearned for in the past. He needed to be distracted, desperate for attention, desperate for anything that kept his mind off of the mind numbingly dull life he was living. His stale life had never seemed so grey, never so bleek. 

So he distracts himself with something new every day. He picks up his guitar for the first time in years it seems, plucking hideous notes until his fingers remember the way they’re supposed to sound. 

Yet he still feels hollow, missing the excitement of a person. He’s… Lonely? Which, he’s never really paid much attention to before. He’s lived alone beside himself just fine for years. 

You never really realize what you need until it’s torn away from you, sometimes. 

His wrists ache as they slap the handles of the portafilters, dislodging themselves from the espresso machine and throwing their burned coffee grounds into the trash can. It’s only six in the morning, but he’s so bored that he’s counting every shot he pulls. He’s already at 98.

Beside him is Georgianna, who is ringing out a customer with a dull order of drip coffee. The customer leaves the store rid of guests for the first time since they opened that morning. 

“So,” she sighs, a hand on her hip, “Hows Harry?”

Louis freezes. He hasn’t heard the name out loud since he left LA, and it’s been a tiresome trial of keeping it out of his head.

“Oh,” Louis eases, “He’s… He’s not.”

She furrowed her eyebrows, confused. “He’s...not? Louis what the hell does that even mean.”

“He’s-uggh.” Louis squints his eyes and grabs a towel, starting to scrub dried coffee grounds off of the silver grate on the machine. His thoughts meander into a wave of distress, trying to decipher what the hell he meant. 

Honestly, it tugs at him to think about Harry. There’s a thick layer of traumatic pain that coats the name, a wall of regret and yet there is a light shining through it that begs to forget all of that. There’s a curiosity that burns through his chest hotly. It really burns, its steaming and begging for Louis to open a vent.

“He tried to fucking sell me off to some big armed oaf.”

Georgianna’s face distorts into horror and shock. “He WHAT?”

“I don’t even fucking- I haven’t had time to fathom it, even.” He sets the rag down and turns towards her, setting his palms onto the counter. “It was like, super hot and thrilling to go with him. Like fuck, here’s this hot ass man taking me out, spoiling the hell out of me, and damn, if his personality doesn’t match those fucking cheekbones. But then it got so- so weird .”

“Well jesus, Lou,” she looks at him sympathetically, “I’m sorry to hear that. But it was good for a moment, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Louis sighs, “Yeah, fucking fantastic.”

The doorbell rings, sending the two of them into ‘happy cheery customer service’ mode. Georgianna props herself up against the counter and fixes her posture.

“Hi! What can I get for ya?” She coos in a high pitched voice that screams “please please tip!!!”.

A woman strolls up to the counter. “Five shots over ice, please.”

Louis peeks over the machine, desperate to see what kind of maniac is ordering five straight shots of espresso . He jolts, eyes widening.

The woman is dressed to the fucking nines, a full on yellow pantsuit with three petite powder blue flowers tucked into the pocket on her chest. Her high-heeled shoes match the flowers. The yellow compliments her perfect dark brown complexion quite beautifully, the soft yellow fabric meeting the ends of her tightly curled brown hair. On her hip is a beautiful baby girl- Johanna. 

It’s Abigail.

He quickly realizes that he’s been staring, and that she’s staring right back. 

“Oh thank god,” Abigail exclaims. She bounces her baby, repositioning to face Louis. “I’ve been to like, eighty fucking coffee shops in this dead ass town.”

Georgianna is confused, looking at the both of them frantically. 

“Can I speak with you?” Abigail asks, heaving a relieved sigh on the way. She looks at Georgianna for a confirmation that that is okay, Louis can take a break, and Georgianna nods. “After you pull me some shots, of course,” Abigail continues, “I’m fucking dead.”

So Louis quickly pours some black shots over several ice cubes, hurrying to make his way over to where Abigail has sat herself. 

“So, um,” Louis starts, “How are you? What are you doing in-”

She waves her free hand, putting a pacifier into Johanna’s mouth with the other. “I’ve been looking for you, dumbass. We can leave the pleasantries for later.”

Louis adjusts himself in his seat, feeling rather uncomfortable and eager to learn what the fuck is going on.

“So basically,” she begins, “Nobody knows where Harry is. Not answering phone calls, not at home, acting like a proper brat. But…” She bites her lip and looks out the window. “I’m really fucking worried about him.”

“He’s gone? Missing?” Louis feels his heart drop into his stomach. His face flushes, hands sweat. He leans against the table, propping his elbows up and leaning his mouth into the palms of his hands. 

She looks back at Louis. “I don’t know you well enough to tell if you’re lying, so let me lay this out for you: If he’s not with you, I have no idea where else he could be. He doesn’t really… Like, he doesn’t talk to much anyone else.”

A hot flash cascades over Louis’ body. He’s worried, and he doesn’t want to be. But that’s the thing about emotions; there’s no controlling them. You can’t choose to be sad, can’t decide to be happy. And he didn’t decide to be quakingly worried over a boy he met about a month ago. But he is, and he’s confused. His mind searches through boxes to decipher what is happening, and it comes up with nothing but questions:

  1. What is happening?
  2. Why would he know where Harry is?
  3. WHERE IS HE
  4. How did Abigail find him?

So he starts with the last one.

“How did- Like, how did you know I was here?”

Abigail chuckles, looking a bit lifted from her previously agonizingly pained state. “Harry’s a right dork. Doodles and journals his every thought. And once a week had gone by, and he wasn’t at his flat- I went through it. It was… bleak. Which is a whole other thing. I’m sorry, by the way.” 

She graciously slides her hand across the table, brushing Louis’ elbow with her fingers.

“I didn’t mean to be intrusive on yours or Harry’s escapades, but I am, so whatever.”

Louis laughs, admiring Abigail’s blunt nature. She continues.

“What happened to you was disgusting and a right mess- And I can relate to it. It wasn’t okay, it wasn’t right, and I would be bloody pissed if I was in your shoes.”

It softens Louis, his shoulders relaxing into the back of his seat. Her validation eases the repetition of the moment in his mind, helping him cope with the whole ordeal greatly. 

“And,” she continues, “There’s- fuck, Louis.” She looks at Johanna. “There’s a lot to it, a lot you don’t know- that I don’t even know for fucks sake.”

He’s so, so dazed and confused. There’s new information flying at him at a rapid speed, so fast he can barely grasp any of it. What he does know is that Abigail is pretty damn great, and he’s hoping she stays with him for a little while longer. 

However, she’s in a rush. 

“Look,” She picks up the child along with her powder blue purse (which matches her entire ensemble wonderfully), “I have a plane to catch. Didn’t expect to be in this hell hole for this fucking long, but Harry’s doodles gave terrible directions. But-” she pulls a few pages from the bag and slaps it onto the table, “Please, please. Help me out a little. This one sure doesn’t help my detective work,” she bounces Johanna.

Louis hugs her before she leaves, offering a hopeful: “Will do,” before she exits the shop. 

He picks up the notes she left behind, and gets to work.

But he’s not pouring coffee.

Chapter Text

 

It’s a Tuesday.

Louis should be begrudgingly spooning foam into a cappuccino. However, he’s sipping from a glass filled with an amber whiskey that dances over the ice cubes at the bottom. His feet dangle, toes barely reaching the ground on a bar stool. Surrounding him are busy travelers, eager to hop onto their flight, to god knows where. His cheeks flush a little as he realizes how underdressed he is. Everyone is wearing sport coats and bow ties and shiny black shoes and, to be fair, Louis is wearing black shoes as well.

They’re vans, though. And they reek of week old coffee stains. 

He’s smothered in a large and tattered jumper, his jeans just as ripped as the green jacket over his shoulders. 

His curious eyes search the room around him. He’s in a first class lounge, about to hop on his first class flight. Everything is designed to look rustic, however, the room’s gold plated crown moulding and crystal chandeliers beg to argue that design suggestion. 

In his hand is a pen, bought from the airport, as well as a journal. He’s become a genuine detective at this point, jotting down every inkling and every clue that could be a lead on where Harry is. 

So far, he has a list of phone numbers, a couple addresses, and quotes from Harry’s journal that could possibly suggest a few destinations. Upon calling a few of the numbers, he was only led to a few voicemail inboxes and people who gave nothing but polite declinations of Harry’s whereabouts. 

The most exciting development so far happened when Louis called the fifth number, which rang Abigail. Her voice was ragged over the phone, distress screaming through the speaker. 

“The only thing I can think of is somewhere in LA,” she exhales, “His bank account hasn’t even touched an airplane ticket.”

“Bank account?” Louis inquires, increasingly afraid of just what Abigail is capable of. 

“He doesn’t trust accountants, I’m good at numbers. Not the point, Louis.”

He nods, as if she can see him through the phone. 

“So you’d better down to LA,” Abigail demands.

“I can’t just… Like… Fly to LA. I’m not made of money like you wealthy assholes.” Louis rolls his eyes.

Abigail laughs into the phone. “That wealthy asshole is paying for whatever the hell you want, I gave you his information. Did you even look?”

Louis’ eyes widen. He checks the contents of his back to find a paper with- yep, Harry’s credit card and pin number. He feels uncomfortable holding the metal card in his hand, but finally grants himself the simple joy of letting this be his forgiveness. Harry can spoil him from a distance, feel a little better about trying to sell him off. He smirks as he holds the card.

So, Louis is flying to LA. His lips tighten as he swallows, the cool whiskey sliding down his throat. It’s not long before he’s lounging in an airplane seat that is far too big for him, cradling a Bloody Mary in his hand as he stares out of the airplane window. 

In Los Angeles, he’s ordered himself an Uber- he’s not quite accustomed to this whole… Being wealthy thing. He rides in the back seat of a rather disappointing black G-Wagon, glancing at his phone every now and then just hoping hoping that Harry has somehow caught ahold of his phone number and dialed him.

He doesn’t.

It takes him about forty five minutes to reach Harry’s flat, and about six minutes to soar up to the penthouse in the lift. It takes a few calls from Abigail to convince the door man to let Louis up, and another few calls for Louis to figure out how the fuck to get the elevator to work.

Eventually, he makes it. The doors open to the same apartment he’d left weeks before, only its… Different? Its missing a few picture frames and its messy. There are crumpled up papers covering the coffee table, dirty coffee mugs, and tissues on the couch. There are a couple guitars; an electric in the corner, propped up against the bookshelf, and an acoustic. The acoustic looks very worn and has a few stickers that prove its age. Louis pictures Harry for a moment, fingers clutched to the neck of the guitar, fingers pressing down on its strings. It’s a very pretty memory, a memory Louis has never actually lived or seen, but a pretty one overall. 

He goes to pick it up, only to be distracted by Abigail nervously pacing the length of the hall, her phone up to her ear and fingers pressing in between her eyes, 

“So what’s going to happen, then?” she bites at her lip her lip in frustration, maybe holding back a scream, “Like, if not tomorrow, what happens?”

She nods, throwing her hand in the air a little bit. She’s frustrated, its obvious. 

Louis’ eyes catch onto Johanna. She’s propped up on a little cushion on the floor, toys dangling about her head. Her eyes are looking at Louis, she’s smiling brightly, and Louis melts. She’s so damn precious, and he doesn’t even care for babies too much. He gets down on his knees and starts cooing like an idiot, thrilled at the giggled noises that Johanna responds with. 

He hears Abigail finish the phone call. She slumps over and thrashes her body onto the couch. 

“He’s in deep shit,” she growls, “Deep, deep shit if he’s not back soon.”

Louis’ concerned. “How’d you mean?”

Her eyes meet his, red and tired. “Get me a drink. Please, for the love of god.”

And so Louis gets up and heads for the kitchen. His body shudders as he opens the cabinets to find nothing but empty bottles, arranged in what can only be explained as a chaotic pile.

“Urm,” He starts, “There’s not really- Everythings gone.”

“Jesus,” Abigail throws a hand over her eyes, “Oh, this is bad.”

Louis feels his blood still in his arms. His body recognizes the fear that overtakes his brain, goosebumps suddenly littering his skin like braille. 

Something is very, very wrong. He closes the cabinet and makes his way to the couch, sitting beside Abigail who is now hunched over with her fingers pressed to her lips. 

“How long have you known him, again?” She asks.

“Er, ‘bout a month or so.” Louis replies. He avoids looking at her, feeling uneasy. Abigail, being a strong and grounded woman, seems to be crying at the moment. It triggers a warning for Louis that maybe just maybe, he could be dealing with something very devastating that he may not be quite ready to deal with.

“I’m not-” Abigail takes a deep breath, “I’m not too keen on putting someone’s life on display. Right? I’m not-” She looks up at the ceiling, begging for something, some sort of miracle to keep her from continuing. Nothing answers her call, though. “I don’t want to tell you stuff that Harry hasn’t shared with you. S’not my business. But Louis?” She turns to him, pauses her speech as to ask him to meet her stare, which he does. “Harry hasn’t been okay for a while.”

Louis gulps. “Not okay?”

“Yeah,” she nods, “Not.. like… stable. And we’ve been here before- searching for him like its fucking hide and seek- and it never ends well and- fuck, I guess I just want to extend the offer for you to leave now instead of later. Because it might make things so god damn depressing if you leave later. And it will hurt a lot less if you leave now.”

Louis ponders her words for a moment, trying to decipher exactly what they mean. 

“It was unfair of me to ask you to help me find him,” she continues, “Selfish. I mean, you don’t know the kid.”

He takes offense to that, for some reason. He shakes his head.

“I think I’ll stay.”

“Louis,” she puts a hand on his knee. Sympathetically, she bares her eyes into his as if she’s trying to rewire his brain, get him to comprehend that this is beyond him at this point. “If and when he gets back, it’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be, like, what you had, and-”

“I’m staying.”

She keeps her eyes deep in his, threateningly. 

Louis stands up. There’s a rush of adrenaline pumping through his arms, his legs. Abigail looks at him with a furrowed brow. It eases into relief as she recognizes Louis’ assuredness. She doesn’t bother to ask him why, and Louis is grateful for that because he doesn’t really know the answer to that.

There’s something stirring deep in his stomach that begs him to take her advice; to leave. Because he really doesn’t know Harry very well, and he’s still pissed off and feeling betrayed, but there’s something greater going on that he is sure he’ll understand in a few days time. For now, he listens to his chest, which pings with anxiety and worry at the thought of abandoning Harry.

Abigail stands up to fetch Johanna. The baby coos in her arms, sending its small fingers up to cling on to momma’s hair. The little digits entwine themselves into the curls, not promising to let them go. Abigail smiles down at her.

“You’re a good man,” she says, eyes still fixed on Johanna, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You can’t back out now, so.”

It doesn’t scare Louis, which, usually that thought of commitment would send him bolting out the door. Instead he feels warm, like he’s doing the right thing. He’s helping not only Harry, but Abigail as well. There was no way in hell she could handle a situation like this on her own, though she plays it off like she can. 

The worry on Abigail’s face is less evident now. She begins to pack the diaper bag, shoving an empty bottle into a side pocket. 

“I’m going back to mine,” She says, finally breathing normally, “He might show up there, I haven’t checked. Been away for days, probably should go and see. Anyways,” she stands up to Louis, wrapping her one free arm around him into a hug, “Thank you.”

Louis settles into the hug, enjoying the warmth of Abigail’s motherly endearment. It’s genuine, honest. 

She leaves, which gives Louis another chance to become “Louis Tomlinson: LA Detective”. He rushes around the house, peeking in cabinets and looking under tables. On the way he tidies up a bit, shoving tissues into trash bags and sorting the chaos into less chaotic piles. His attention turns to Harry’s bedroom which is strangely organized.

He spots Harry’s journal. It’s lying face open on the curiously made up bed. He pulls his fingers up to his mouth, telling himself not to fucking look at it. He distracts himself by roaming onto the other side of the bed where the clutter seems to have been hiding. 

His eyes reach into the pile of papers. He picks up a page and reads it. It looks to be song lyrics, but the majority of stanzas have been viciously scribbled over. His heart sinks at the thought, imagining Harry angrily criticizing his own work, his own thoughts like that. However, Louis can make out a few sentences and chords. His hands reach for another acoustic guitar which is in a much newer condition than the one in the hallway. And he plucks at the strings, feeling the metal press into his fingers as he struggles to play Harry’s music justice. 

There’s something beautiful about it. Harry’s guitar, Harry’s songs, Harry’s bed, Harry. It’s a life covered in black sheets and crumpled ideas. But black isn’t the color Louis sees when he pictures Harry. He sees a bright orange, light pink sometimes, but never black. Never anything dark, no. 

But Harry’s draped his entire life in the color. The bed is disguised in fluffy black satin pillows and an even blacker satin duvet. The guitar even mocks the blankets with a shade of black that argues its darkness with the others. 

He digs into the pile of papers, finding more and more music that’s been thrown onto the floor as if it doesn’t- shouldn’t exist. Louis finds himself smiling at each song, enjoying the tunes and lyrics that he can make out. He tries to hear Harry singing, but he’s never heard the lad utter more than a line from “You’re The One That I Want”. He can almost hear it, though. It’s low and rugged and drips like maple syrup. 

What if Harry’s dead?

The thought pops into Louis’ head like a balloon hitting a tack. 

Oh no, no no no. No he doesn’t want to think that but…

What if?

What if Louis’ opportunity to learn more about this person is gone? What if he’ll never be able to hear the entirety of a “Harry Styles Original” song? He slaps himself for thinking about it, for being sad about it, because- he’s mad. He’s angry at Harry, a stranger who did something very very awful to him. Abandoned him, left him vulnerable and afraid.

Then he sees the guilt ridden on Harry’s face, pulling him away from the Red Room, begging Louis to stay. He sees the hurt in Harry’s eyes when he left, not letting Harry apologize nearly enough. 

He puts the guitar down. Sitting for a moment in his thoughts, he takes a breath, regains his composure. He stands to his feet, determined to search the rest of the penthouse for the answers he hopes are there.

When he turns to walk out the door, he realizes there’s still a smoothed out crumpled paper in his hand with lyrics and notes that are far too beautiful to come from someone who isn’t deeply hurting. And he smiles, clutching onto the paper for a second and then releasing his grip. He walks towards the door and stops dead in his tracks.

Thank god, he’s not dead.

Chapter Text

Louis blinked. 

There he was, standing in the doorway of the bedroom. He had one hand up on the door frame, the other slumped over his side like it was dead. He looked exhausted, sleeplessness painting his face and body like a blank canvas. He squinted his eyes at Louis, as if they were trying tirelessly to focus on him, as if he couldn’t believe that Louis was there.

“Louis?” His voice croaked. It sounded like it had been dragged down a wet and gravely road. 

Once the shock had passed, the wave of relief that overcame Louis felt like a fucking orgasm. Harry was there in front of him, breathing and alive. 

“Thank fuck,” Louis groaned, “You’re alive.”

Harry’s eyes wavered, his body going with them. He stood eerily quiet, not uttering a single sound. It was obviously taking a straining amount of effort to stay upright, let alone take in the fact that Louis was in his room. 

Whatever happiness Louis felt vanished at the sight of it. Though Harry was alive, he wasn’t well. Not in the slightest. He started taking hesitant steps towards Harry, trying to estimate what was going to happen next. 

It was then that Harry’s mind caught up with reality. His head dropped down, looking at his feet in shame and disgust. However, holding his head up was rather difficult, so he let it crash onto the doorframe. 

Louis hurried over, placing a hand on Harry’s back to navigate him to the bed. 

Harry came down onto the bed with a thud. His body fell from the dead weight, sprawling out over the sheets with one leg hanging over the side.

“Louis…” He moaned, mouth clicking with thirst.

“I know,” Louis hummed. He set down at Harry’s feet, laying a hand on the long lad’s leg. The dread and devastation was sinking in fast. It was like he’d swallowed a nail. Hurt and anxiety pinged through his chest with a desperation to escape the situation. He felt glued to Harry’s side, though. He couldn’t get up and leave even if he tried.

He watched Harry’s head fall on the pillow, tilting away from the light on the nightstand. His eyes were tightly closed, little crinkles balling up on the sides of his face.

“I’m gonna get you some water, okay?” Louis soothed. Harry took whatever energy he had left and nodded.

Louis walked gently out of the room and towards the kitchen, running a hand through his hair in hopes to calm himself down. This proved to be impossible when he spotted a woman sprawled out on the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of black underwear.

“Who the fuck are you?” Louis barked. 

She immediately sat up, puffed her cigarette and flicked her silvery blonde hair off of her shoulder. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

He scoffed, continuing into the kitchen and fetching a glass from the cabinet. “Good point, I don’t give a shit.” He started filling up the glass with water, “Now get out.”

“Ha!” She snarled, taking another hit from the cigarette between her fingers, “Sorry sweetie, not gonna happen.” She blinked at Louis, her eyelashes begging him to taunt her further. “I’m sure we could handle a third, though.” 

“Not interested,” He looked at her with squinted, mocking eyes, “So I’m afraid you’re night won’t be as exciting as you planned. Now fuck off, please.”

“Oh, sweetie, I’ve waited too long to fuck that boy,” she stood up to her feet, walking with her breasts exposed and tantalizing. She tiptoed over to him with persuasive feet. Once she was at Louis’ side, she laid a single finger onto his shoulder, dragging it around in sensual circles. “Not that it’s any of your business,” she whispered, breath tickling the side of his ear.

Disgusted, Louis swatted her fingers off of himself. His fingers trembled with agitation as he fought to keep his composure. The anger blazed inside of him like a white hot fire. Who the hell was this woman?

In an instant, Louis knew it was up to him to get her the fuck out of the flat. The fury only grew inside of his stomach, filling him up inch by inch with distaste as he looked her up and down. She continued toying with her hair as if it had any affect on him, the other fingers lingering on the edge of her breasts. 

He found some humor in the sight of it. She was gorgeous, absolutely stunning. But Louis was gay as hell, so. 

“There’s no way in hell you’re getting any closer to him tonight.” He grabbed the glass and walked around her, refusing to let their shoulders touch. “Take a hint, try again next time.”

“Make me,” she teased, her finger latching onto the belt loop of his jeans with a strong hold.

That was it. Enough to release the floodgates and let all of it out; the worry, frustration, fury, all of it into the air of that despair filled apartment. 

“Are you dense?” He howled, snapping around to face her, “He’s wasted, dumb ass. Pissed. You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re obviously piss sober.” He was really fuming. “How dare you even attempt to take advantage of a person like this. Now get the fuck out of here before I call the cops.”

Her face contorted into an offended mess of shame as she took a step back, folding her arms across her chest. Was she really fucking pouting?

“Go!” Louis yelled again, pointing a furious finger towards the elevator doors. She finally began making her way towards the exit, gathering scattered articles of clothing on the way. Within a moment, the doors to the lift had shut and sent her on her way, half naked and all. 

He huffed out an alleviated breath. He felt better; not great, but better. Like the building pressure leaked a little bit, but hadn’t been fully released. 

Turning around, he made his way back towards the bedroom with the glass of water in one hand, a damp towel in the other. The water bounced on the walls of glass as his hands quaked from the adrenaline riding through his body. 

And there was Harry, standing at the end of the hallway with swollen red eyes that stabbed into Louis’ as they met. He stood there, silent, not bothering to make a single noise. Or maybe he just couldn’t. Regardless, he didn’t need to. 

Louis caught Harry as he fell into his shoulder, digging his face deep into the fabric of Louis’ tee.

“Oh Harry…” Louis soothed as Harry let a painful sob slip from his lips, the sound hushed by Louis’ skin. He gripped onto Harry, steadying the lad. His hands held onto Harry’s back, fingers pressing into the plush of skin.

Harry’s fingers bore into Louis’ back, clutching at Louis’ shirt with a forceful grip that screamed.   He held onto Louis with a deafening agony, so pained and full of suffering that he had to put it all into the tight, tight embrace. 

They stayed like that for at least a minute. The time went by slow as they both took it in; Louis letting Harry scream into him silently, and Harry letting it all go for a minute. The air filled with a dark grey fog that encapsulated the both of them. 

Louis bit his lip, fighting the urge to break down himself. It tore him in half to see Harry go through whatever the hell it was that he was dealing with. As he held Harry’s loose, broken, and drunken body, he clutched on a little tighter as if to join in on Harry’s scream for help.

It wasn’t easy, though it did feel gratifying to be there for Harry. It was a terrifyingly bittersweet moment to hold him, to comfort him. And that’s what was important; he was there. Harry wasn’t alone anymore.

Releasing himself, Harry pulled away from Louis. His back crashed into the wall behind him as he mustered out a few weak “I’m so sorry”s.

Louis shook his head, offering an anguished smile as he clutched onto the side of Harry’s face. His thumb wiped away the tears it could gather.

Harry leaned into Louis’ palm, smiling the tiniest bit. It didn’t last long, though. He eventually peered up, meeting Louis’ eyes in his own, sending his smile away for a while. 

The hurt was there, flamboyant and bright like a neon Motel sign. Every ounce of pain was there and Louis could see it. He’d gotten pretty good at reading those things over the years. He wasn’t quite sure if that was a gift or a terrible, terrible curse. 

Exhausted, Louis draped one of Harry’s weak arms over his shoulder and hauled him into the bed. 

Once Harry’s head met the black satin pillow, he was out. 

Louis watched him for a while, sitting beside him on the other side of the mattress. He laid the towel onto Harry’s forehead, moving a few curls on the way. The light on the nightstand accentuated Harry’s pale skin, as well as the shadow that Harry’s nose cast onto his cheeks. 

After about thirty minutes, he gathered the energy to walk himself back to his room. The familiarity felt warm. Not only that, but he really couldn’t stand his old ratty mattress at home after lying on this one. 

It was a while before he fell asleep that night. His brain was replaying the night over and over, images of a disheveled Harry racking his thoughts like a nightmare. He kicked himself for wanting to help, for needing to help. He wanted to be angry at Harry. It wasn’t under his control anymore. 

He thought about their night before, when Harry was coffee and chick flics and tea and that kiss. That fucking kiss. It rattled his brain, his emotions undecidedly shifting from devastated to deeply invested in that feeling. How Harry’s hand felt on his neck, their cool lips meeting and locking like puzzle pieces, the purple and amber sun over the overpass. His toes stirred in the sheets as he realized that it couldn’t be like that anymore.

Chapter Text

Even though sleep eventually found him, Louis’ heart was beating out of his chest by 6 AM. After about an hour of restless tossing and turning, he begrudgingly made his way into the kitchen for some coffee. 

After about three cups, his exhaustion had been cloaked in jittery alertness. His hands were moving quicker than his mind could keep up with as he tidied the flat. Three trash bags and two loads of dishes later, Harry’s luxurious penthouse was back in its pretentiously immaculate state.

Eager for something else to do, Louis got busy whipping up a batch of french toast and one egg (Harry hadn’t really been restocking the pantry, so food supplies were running rather low). He went to brew another pot of coffee, when he stumbled upon Harry’s tea drawer.

There was a single tin of loose leaf Earl Grey tea, a brand that swept Louis up in a wave of nostalgic warmth. It was his mother’s favorite tea, and just the scent of it was enough to bring a tender smile to his face. He siffend out a serving of the tea and put the kettle on.

His ears perked up at the sound of lazy footsteps clapping down the hallway. He turned around to find Harry, standing sleepily in the kitchen entry, rubbing his eyes with a sleepy fist.

“Morning, sleepy head,” Louis teased, turning back around to finish brewing his tea.

“Morning,” Harry groaned. He tossed a few curls away from his forehead, squinting his eyes at the sunlight darting in from the window. “Sorry about, er, last night.”

“Don’t be,” Louis took a sip of his tea and gestured for Harry to sit down on one of the stools in front of the counter. Harry slumped down onto the seat, his chin falling to rest on one of his palms. Louis slid a plate of french toast in front of him. Harry stared down at the plate. 

“I feel very, erm,” Harry picked up his fork, “I feel very embarrassed.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Drink your coffee. Unless you’d prefer tea,” he turned around and grabbed the freshly brewed mug, placing it in front of Harry’s plate. 

“Louis,” Harry deadpanned, shooting a knowing look up at the lad, “I may have been drunk but I remember last night and it was… It was pretty...I’m just really sorry you had to deal with that. You shouldn’t have to- Wait” he paused, about to press the mug of tea to his lips, “Why are you here?”

Louis made his way around the counter, pulling out a stool next to Harry and sitting down with his fourth cup of coffee. “Someone ran off and scared everybody.”

Harry’s gaze drooped back down to his plate. His eyebrows furrowed as he ran a hand through his greasy pile of curls.

“It’s fine,” Louis sighed, “You’re fine. I’m just-” He averted his gaze down to his fingers, “I’m glad you’re okay.”

It was quiet for a moment as they struggled to avoid eye contact. Neither of them wanted to push the situation any further into the dangerous territory it was headed into. Louis didn’t want to ask Harry if he was really ‘okay’, and Harry really didn’t want him to ask. The idea of the conversation made them both want to crawl into a dark hole and stay there for days. 

Finally, Louis broke the silence.

“So what the fuck were you drinking? I’d like to steer clear of whatever fucking elixir that was.”

Harry chuckled a little bit. “A little bit of everything. Except for rosé- rosé never does me dirty like that.”

Their eyes finally met as they giggled amongst themselves. A softness fell over the both of them, pulling just a thin layer of the dark cloud off of the ambience surrounding them. They smiled delicately, smiling with relief and comfort to be in each other’s presence.

Louis’ phone buzzed in his pocket. He jumped out of whatever trance Harry had pulled him into and put the phone to his ear.

“Shit,” Louis cursed, “It’s Abigail.”

Harry suspiciously squinted his eyes, his mouth opening to question Louis, only to be cut off.

“You ran off, idiot. Don’t act surprised that people cared about the fact that you were winning a game of hide and seek that nobody agreed to play,” Louis teased, handing the phone over to Harry after answering.

“Alright,” Harry groaned, “Let me have it.”

In about thirty minutes, Abigail was bursting into the flat with Johanna on her hip.

“Do it again, and I’ll give Louis access to your trust fund,” she barked as she threw herself down onto the couch next to where Harry was sitting. 

His head was hung over the back of the couch, looking like a child listening to their parents scold them. Which, the conversation wasn’t too far off from how Louis remembered being reprimanded by his mum. Harry would mutter an excuse, to which Abigail would cut him off with an “it doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t have done it”. 

Louis watched from behind the kitchen counter, taking quiet sips of his room temperature coffee. Johanna was sat in a carseat on the counter. Louis carried on a conversation with the baby as if they were watching a soap opera.

“I mean fuck, Harry,” Abigail grumbled, “I’m staying. There’s no-” Harry tried and failed to interject, “NO! I’m staying. I care about MYSELF too much to let you have me worrying like that again.”

Harry looked on the verge of tears, embarrassed and ashamed as Abigail shouted at him. He would periodically dart his eyes over to Louis, apologetic and guilty. It stabbed at Louis with each glance, as he knew how deeply humiliated Harry was feeling with Louis there, watching the argument grow from bad to worse. 

Abigail cared so deeply for Harry. She cared so much that she’d reached a boiling point, and it was obvious that there wasn’t much more she could do. The grievance on her shoulders had built skyscrapers on top of skyscrapers. 

“Abs, please,” Harry begged, sending a pointed look at Louis as if to say ‘shut up shut up shut UP’. 

“I’ll stay.” Louis stated. 

Both Abigail and Harry’s necks snapped as they looked at him.

“What?” Louis threw his hands in the air.

Abigail shook her head. “Louis, you’re sweet. But-”

“Oh cut it,” Louis demanded as he walked over to them, “It’s not like I’m dying to get back to the hell hole I was in. I’m staying.” 

Harry kept his gaze locked on Louis. 

“No.”

Abigail shook her head at Harry. “What the hell do you mean, ‘no’?”

“No,” Harry looked back at her. 

She frustratingly rubbed her face with her hands. “Get over yourself. Please, accept the help. Swallow your debilitating pride and accept the help- jesus.” 

Having had enough, Abigail excused herself. She continued cursing under her breath as she gathered her things and abandoned them in the apartment by themselves.

So there they were, Louis standing behind the couch and Harry sitting on it with a cold and deadly gaze piercing into Louis. 

“You’re not staying here,” Harry growled lowly, “I don’t need you to stay here with me like a fucking baby.”

Louis refused to look back at Harry as he shook his head. He held in every frustration as best he could, biting his lip to keep from shouting some sense into him. He so badly wanted to grab Harry into the tightest fucking embrace, and keep him there. Keep him from running away into the depths of depression and despair. 

“Harry,” Louis crooned, “You’re not in a good place. I’m not trying to baby you, that’s not it at all. In fact, this isn’t even about you,” he lied, “Abigail asked for the help and I’m giving it. I’m helping her more than you, idiot.”

The words hit Harry, pushing him deeper into the sofa. “You don’t get it.”

“I don’t get it?” Louis scoffed. He promenaded over, slapping himself down beside Harry and putting his hands on his knees, “Alright, Harry. You’re depressed. Alright? You’ve got the big ‘depression’ and that’s it. That’s all there is to it. And there’s no way out of that, there’s no cave you can go into and pretend like it doesn’t exist. So,” Louis panted, trying to catch his breath as he vomited the selfless confession to Harry, “I’m fucking staying with you. And we’re gonna figure it out. We. Alright?”

Harry blinked slowly, smacking Louis in the face with an immature, “No.”

Louis rolled his head back onto the couch. “Jesus christ, Harry.”

It was all so… Childish. Harry crossed his arms across his chest as if he was pouting, refusing to give in to Louis’ request. It was getting hard to allow Harry to act like that. Louis knew it was much bigger than a simple and childlike argument, but it was like talking to a wall. A wall with gorgeous eyelashes that cast an even more gorgeous shadow across those sharp ass cheek bones.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Harry finally whispered, “Last night. I don’t need you to save me.”

Now that pissed Louis off. He shot a daring glare at Harry. “You were almost assaulted, Harry.”

“Ha!” Harry laughed mockingly, “Funny, Louis.”

Louis rocketed to his feet, to which Harry followed. The height difference between them was nearly comical as Harry towered over him, breathing down onto Louis with a threatening scowl. Their chests thundered with rapid heart beats and staggered breaths. 

Mind scavenging for something to fight back with, Louis’ body finally found itself slumping as he rationalized with himself. 

“I was scared, Harry.”

Harry’s fists unclenched themselves. Something inside him clicked, his eyes softening and jaw releasing. 

“I was too.”

And there they fell, laying into each other like the night before. It was quieter this time, though. Harry’s face nestled itself into Louis’ neck with peace. 

There was something unexplained between them, something that didn’t need to be talked about at all. Louis knew there were parts of Harry that he didn’t know; a lot of parts he didn’t yet understand. They held each other with a needlessness to talk about why it was necessary, they just knew it was. 

“I’m a hopeless flatmate,” Louis whispered into Harry’s shoulder.

Harry chuckled in response, holding on a little tighter to Louis’ torso. 

They eventually let go of one another, awkwardly settling back down onto the couch. They tossed nonsensical jokes and banter between themselves for a while, feeling the tension in the room slowly die down with each minute that passed. 

They spent the rest of the day putting the pieces of Harry’s life back together. Groceries were bought, trash was taken out, and Harry finally took a much needed shower. 

When he emerged from the bathroom, he met Louis back on the couch. “The Notebook” was playing at a rather loud volume on the television. 

Louis glanced over at him, feeling his face flush with infatuation at the sight of a half naked Harry. There was a black towel and only a black towel wrapped around his waist, damp curls swaying across his forehead. His mossy green eyes focused intently on the screen as if they were trying to undress Ryan Gossling from the bottom up. 

“It’s rather stupid,” Louis stated, refocusing on the movie. 

Harry looked at him, offended. “Stupid?”

“Yeah,” Louis replied, “I mean, we get it. They love each other, but he’s not proper, so they can’t. Like, get on with it then. Fuck and get on with it.”

With a furious shake of his head, Harry smirked. “Have you even finished the film?”

Louis shook his head.

“Well then, you can’t judge it yet.”

Louis opened his mouth, aimed and ready to retort, only to be cut off.

“You can’t judge it yet.”

With his arms crossed, Louis grouchily sunk into the couch, accepting defeat.

By the time the credits were rolling down the screen, Louis was holding back any sign of weakness, though the movie properly wrecked him. He desperately searched the room for any remnants of tissues, and cursed himself for tidying so well. 

Harry knowingly looked at him, a smirk spread wide across his cheeks. “Their love was that powerful.”

“Shut it,” Louis growled, giving Harry a shove. Harry responded by shoving him back, which resulted in the two of them wrestling on the couch; Harry eventually pinning Louis down with ease. 

Louis fought back, trying to break his wrists free from the relentless hold Harry had them in. He squirmed beneath Harry, only causing Harry’s legs to tighten around Louis’ thighs as a means to hold him in place. 

Harry smirked down at Louis, pressing his ass down harder on Louis’ waist. Louis accepted defeat, his body loosening underneath Harry’s. However, it became painfully obvious that he was unforgivably hard underneath Harry’s towel covered ass. Harry knew it, too, pressing down a little harder, smile growing wider with a vengeance. 

He knew he was getting a rise out of Louis. He kept wiggling with a joyous grin on his face, giggling as he pressed down onto Louis’ hard on. He let go of Louis’ wrists, letting his hands meander down to the flush of Louis’ neck. He leaned forward, bright smile closing in on Louis’ and-

Louis shoved him backwards, sending Harry’s back against the arm of the couch.

Harry’s face showed confusion, which narrowed itself back down to its shameful self. A look of chaos erupted on his forehead. It was a swirling energy that krept all over Harry’s body and read like an open book. His chest began rising up and down fast, barely managing to catch any air. He began shaking his head, arms falling to his chest in a panic. 

Louis quickly realized that Harry was panicking at full force; the terror creeping through the lad’s limbs ferociously. It was when Harry began repeating a hushed “sorry” that Louis acted fast, scooting over and pulling Harry into his arms.

“Shh, shh, its okay,” Louis soothed. Harry continued wheezing, struggling to find the oxygen needed to function. He was trembling in Louis’ arms. Shaking with arms clutched to his own chest, bundled up in Louis’ hold. 

“I didn’t mean to,” Harry shivered, “I’m sorry,” he repeated again. 

“Shh,” Louis tried again. It was working, but barely.

Harry was having a panic attack. Louis wrapped his head around the moment and clutched on for dear life, mindlessly fumbling for a way to sort it out. He rubbed at Harry’s back with open palms and endearing fingers. It seemed to work, Harry’s breaths becoming longer and heartbeat slowing. 

“I’m gonna get you some water, okay?”

Harry nodded.

When he was about halfway to the kitchen, Louis turned around.

“I’m glad to be your friend, Harry.”

A confused and red eyed Harry turned to look at him. “Friend.”

“Yeah,” Louis grinned shyly, “I think- I think it’s best that way, yeah?”

Harry turned away from him. His shoulders slumped, head falling to rest on the back of the couch. He didn’t respond, just kept looking ahead of him instead of at Louis. 

Louis came back with a glass of water, setting it down on the table in front of Harry.

Harry shut his eyes. Louis bit his cheek, cursing himself for making Harry look like that; defeated and alone. He let a hand pat the top of Harry’s head gently,

“Goodnight, Harry.”

Chapter Text

The next few days were a conglomerate of rearranging. Harry had finally warmed up to the idea of having Louis around, which meant having Louis’ things shipped over in three sad boxes. Harry’d poke fun at Louis for having three boxes of things, to which Louis’d retort with a backhanded comment about Harry’s luxurious lifestyle.

The minutes were light and fleeting, full of laughs and an underlying gratefulness to be together. Louis had somehow become in charge of preparing breakfast every morning, brewing coffee and tea so that Harry had the choice. Harry took it upon himself to dress the guest bedroom up in a few more colors and decorative lamps, further labeling the room as Louis’. 

Every once and awhile, Harry’s laugh would extend into him leaning into Louis, smile vanishing as their faces neared. He’d pull back, sniffle, and walk away with a cold shoulder. 

Meanwhile, Louis found comfort and solace in the way Harry would pout at rejection. It swirled brightly in his stomach to know that Harry enjoyed Louis’ presence so much that the absence of that kind of attention threw him into a mini tantrum. 

And to be honest, he wanted it too. With every near kiss, Louis’ neck strained to keep from diving in. He fought every urge to grab Harry by those damn curls and press their faces together into the passionate mess that they so badly ached for. Watching Harry meander through life was hard enough, as the lad was naturally seductive and wanting. His eyelashes themselves begged to receive sloppy and tender kisses. 

They didn’t really talk about it. They had absently decided to put the matter underneath Harry’s massive faux fur white rug underneath the coffee table. Louis was Harry’s friend, and only his friend. That was how it had to be. Harry couldn’t handle a romantic attachment, wasn’t emotionally capable to love properly. 

However, that was Harry’s coping mechanism; loving without loving at all. 

Once he’d gone back to work, he’d begun bringing home… projects, as he’d call them. An assortment of women would tie themselves around him like a noose as he announced his entry into the home. He’d coo at them with nonsensical compliments and shower them with flirtatious gifts, giving them whatever they asked for at the apartment. 

As soon as Louis heard Harry come home, he’d dart for his bedroom. If he didn’t make it in there before Harry waltzed into the room, he’d only be forced to make eye contact with Harry. Harry was always determined to keep his eyes digging into Louis’. He taunted and threatened Harry with those eyes. It made Louis’ insides peel at the sight of it, women sucking at Harry’s neck like it was a juice box. 

Harry wasn’t quiet, either. He wasn’t trying to be quiet. He’d obnoxiously fuck whoever he’d brought home with ferocious moans, purposefully clunking around on the furniture to make it known that he was fucking somebody other than Louis. Louis’ lost track of each name that was hollered during these escapades, trying his absolute hardest to never learn them at all.  

“Do you really have to do that?” Louis yipped, slamming the bedroom door to escape after Harry’s recent lover abandoned the flat. 

“Do what?” Harry snarled, legs spread on the couch as he puffed a cigarette. He was wearing a pair of loose black satin boxers, which left little to no room for imagination as to what was sitting underneath them.

Louis walked over, pulling the cigarette from Harry’s fingers and putting it to his own mouth. “Don’t be an ass,” he pushed smoke from his lips, purposefully in Harry’s direction.

“If you don’t like it,” Harry grabbed the cigarette back with agitated fingers, “You can leave.”

“Well I can’t do that, now can I?” Louis snarked back.

Harry smirked mockingly up at him. He kept his eyes locked on Louis, letting a million words be said through his stare. He loved getting a rise out of Louis, absolutely adored the way his face would scrunch up and his mouth would curve with a need to fight back. 

Louis came down and sat beside him, pushing at Harry’s knee with his own to insinuate that he should close his legs.  He rolled his eyes in annoyance when Harry responded by only widening his legs, taking up the majority of the couch.

“I just don’t want to hear it, okay?” Louis argued. 

“It’s my house,” Harry hit the cigarette, “I find it quite rude that you have such little respect for your roommate’s privacy, Louis,” he said with a smirk, eyes still boring into the side of Louis’ face. He knew what he was doing, knew he was going to rile Louis up until they were screaming at each other. 

“Rude?” Louis barked, sitting up to face Harry with wide eyes, “I know you’re just trying to piss me off, but fuck, Harry, rude? Really?”

“Hmm,” Harry crossed his arms, “Not really getting any less rude, really.”

Louis was steaming. He wanted to grab Harry by the shoulders and shake him vigorously, push him into the couch and yell into his face, grab his curls, get on his lap and hold on tighter until it hurt, pull the back of his head into the cushion and shove his lips onto-

No. 

He took a deep breath, begging his dick to calm the fuck down. However, it ignored any requests, and pressed itself solid against his jeans. 

Harry’s eyes finally left Louis’ face, falling down to Louis’ dick. His smirk got even wider, which didn’t even seem possible. 

It really killed Louis to let Harry do this to him, when he was the one that was supposed to be in control. He felt so helpless to the effect of Harry on his emotions. Every argument played out differently in his head, messing itself up until it was a full on X Rated movie in his mind. Maybe he was just sexually frustrated, but tonight, he finally snapped. 

“When will you stop acting like a right five year old? Stop trying to punish other people for not giving you what you want, Harry? I mean, fuck. You ran away when I was upset at you for fucking selling me off to a fucking bear. You turn around and fuck anything that moves because I won’t fuck you. You threw a damn fit when Abigail wanted to help you! Harry!” Louis found himself standing across the room, his hands in his hair.

Harry was staring out the window, peering into the darkness of evening as it tried to enter through the sheer curtains. His hands were neatly folded in his lap, legs still spread, claiming territory over the whole couch. 

“I told you I didn’t mean for that to happen,” Harry whispered.

“How the fuck could that be true, Harry?” Louis said, hurt seeping through cracks in his voice. “You keep saying that, but- like- you left , Harry.”

“I didn’t-” Harry took in a deep breath, turning his gaze down to his hands as his thumbs danced, “I shouldn’t have left, like, in hindsight. But I had to find someone, someone who was- He got there before I could, and that was the whole thing. That’s why I was there, to keep him away from my clients.” He looked up at Louis, tears pooling in the bottom of his lids, “I slipped up, got distracted with trying to resolve the problem, and he got to you and I’m sorry.” He was really falling apart now, head shaking and tears soaking those heartbreaking eyelashes, “They wouldn’t let me in, Louis, they wouldn’t let me in because of dumb rules that I created, and- Only when I was screaming at them did they open the door, Louis. I didn’t mean for that to happen, Louis, I really didn’t, I-” 

“I didn’t know that,” Louis blinked, “I really- Fuck, Harry.”

Harry caught his composure, shoulders rising as he took in a relieving breath. “I would never, ever sell you off- Please stop saying that.”

“Okay, yeah, yeah.” Louis put his hands in his pockets. “It’s- Okay. Thanks for explaining.”

It was quiet for a moment. Louis’ feet nervously brushed circles on the floor, while Harry’s eyes stared down at his thumbs. 

“You can leave if you want to, Louis.”

“I know,” Louis replied, keeping his own eyes darted at the floor. “I’m a big boy,” he taunted, hoping for a giggle or something to break the tension. Harry didn’t budge; just kept an unperturbed attention to his lap. Louis’ face softened. He kindly rest a palm over Harry’s anxious hands. “I know I can leave, idiot. I won’t, though. It’ll take a lot more than a depressive episode to get rid of me.”

Harry’s eyes finally left their stubborn spot to meet Louis’. His brows were furrowed in disturbance, like Louis had said something incredibly uncalled for. “Depressive episode?” He hissed through his swollen lips.

“I mean, yeah,” Louis’ eyes badgered at Harry’s face, asking for a door inside of the boy’s brain. “You’re depressed, Harry. And that’s, like, okay. It’s okay to be depressed.”

Harry’s body eased the slightest bit, shoulders falling and fingers stilling under Louis’ hand. It was a subtle glimpse of reality coming towards him like a bumble bee, buzzing lightly in his grasp. Maybe he hadn’t really thought about it before; being depressed. Maybe he had. Louis tried desperately to read his mind, wondering if he was wrong to put himself in this position. Wrong to put himself into Harry’s brain with a broom with the intention of tidying up the space inside his head. 

It didn’t come as a shock to Louis when Harry started crying, slowly melting into a pile of blue mush. As devastating as it was, Louis smiled genuinely as he wrapped a gentle arm around Harry, shooshing his light sobs with a pat to the boy’s back.

It wasn’t a sob, no. It was quiet and filled with small gasps for air. Harry was curling into himself, into Louis with his heart breaking into tiny fragments. 

“I don’t want to be that,” Harry’s lips whispered into the dense atmosphere, “I don’t want to be depressed,” he gasped in another desperate call for oxygen. 

Louis sat with Harry under his arm, shuffling through words and phrases in his head for the right one. He wanted to comfort Harry as best he could, and he felt like he was doing a good job. Harry’s walls were breaking down, being demolished under a controlled environment. Harry’s heart wasn’t being set on fire by vandals, or being blown away by a natural disaster; instead, Louis had sent a team of contractors to take the walls apart bit by bit.

“My mum was quite depressed,” Louis finally spoke.

Harry stilled, cries becoming counted breaths instead of anxious grasps for air. “Is she okay?” he asked with the heartbreak on his tongue, like whatever Louis said was the next chapter in his book.

“She killed herself,” Louis stared forward, a blank slate riddling his face. He’d never really talked about it, only dealt with it and kept going. It hurt him a whole lot to speak those words, tell the story again, but it was necessary to him. If everything happens for a reason, this is it. 

Harry’s hands clutched on tighter to Louis’ shirt. But he wasn’t clutching for himself; no, he was clutching for Louis. Giving his grasp to Louis as endearingly as he could. “I’m so sorry, Louis.” He whispered, voice gravely and low. 

“It’s okay, really. It happened a long time ago,” Louis’ chest rose, taking in as much strength as he could, “When I was seventeen, actually.”

Harry’s face was now buried deep into Louis’ shoulder. He was trying to get as much contact with Louis’ body as possible. Louis really, really liked that. With every squeeze Harry offered him, his body let him talk a little more; something entirely unfamiliar and sincerely heartfelt. He leaned into the comfort of Harry’s warmth against his own. 

Their bodies exchanged heat. When one was cold, the other was burning, so they shared. Shared what they could, and it was always enough. Just enough.

“This- this isn’t new to me, Harry.” Louis leaned his head over Harry’s wispy curls tickling his cheeks. “And it’s not gonna scare me away. It’s-” he was choking up now, trying his best not to, but one stubborn tear found its way trailing down his cheek and into Harry’s mess of dark hair- “It’s like I get another chance to be there. Do it right. Do what I can, and-” 

Harry’s head lifted, peering shining and woebegone eyes at Louis.

“I want to, Harry. If you’ll let me, I really, really want to.”

With that, Harry’s face beamed with the soft glow of acceptance. His smile left dimples that pressed into his cheeks like push pins, eyes glistening at Louis with the most beautiful shine. “I’d love that, Louis.”

They fell asleep right there on the couch, Harry’s head on Louis’ shoulder, Louis’ head on Harry’s. It wasn’t anything other than soft. There weren't any assumptions, no expectations between them. It was like they miraculously decided to take what they had at face value; for now. Because for now, that was enough.

Chapter Text

“This is nice,” Harry’s morning voice croaked, head still laid on Louis’ shoulder. “I like having you here.”

“Yeah,” Louis responded. “We should get up though, yeah?”

Harry nods, “Yeah.”

They slowly but surely find themselves getting ready for the day, taking the time to properly fix themselves up. They’ve decided: they’re going to treat themselves today, whatever that may mean or cost (Harry laughs at Louis’ suggestion of ‘something cheap’).

The first stop is a bar in the middle of the city; they’re getting day drunk today. Mimosas are flowing. With each drink, Louis tends to becomes a feminine masterpiece, daintily waving his glass in the air when its empty as a call for Harry to top him off.

“Yes, your highness.” Harry smiles widely as he grabs the glass and fills it again, and he does it every time. He doesn’t mind, in fact he adores it, face lighting up with every bat of Louis’ eyelashes. Louis is incredulously flirtatious, bending over to pick up things he purposefully throws to the floor with his ass bent towards Harry. Harry eventually gives up trying to hide his rosy cheeks, drunkenness taking him over as well.

He keeps it under control, though, seemingly focused on keeping Louis from spilling drinks on passersby. 

“Let me work ,” Louis whines.

“Work?” Harry chuckles, staring down at Louis as they walk out of the bar down the sidewalk. 

“Yes,” Louis pouts, “Hate to break it to you Styles, but not everybody handles escorts for a living.”

“Yeah, okay,” Harry squints his eyes, “But, like, you’re not doing anything short of trying to drench people in-” he snags Louis’ wrist, keeping him from tossing his drink at a pregnant woman passing them, “Your drink that I bought. You’re welcome, by the way.”

Louis steps in front of Harry, face scrunched up into a full on pout, “Fine, Mr. Warbucks, next one’s on me.”

The corner of Harry’s mouth lifts, making Louis wilt. Maybe its the booze, but everything about Harry is so good right now. He’s smiling, cheekbones cutting into the air like its butter, voice trickling down his skin with its syrupy smooth drawl. 

The smiles and glorified laugh stop abruptly as Harry’s phone goes off. He puts it to his ear, stepping away from Louis for a moment. Bad idea, Louis thinks, as he approaches a group of woman at a cafe to join in on their heated conversation about someone cheating on someone and blah blah blah.

When Harry comes back, he’s running a hand through his hair in distress.

“I’ve got to get to the hotel,” He says with a blank face.

“Prostitutes going wild?” Louis snarls, arm draped over one of his brand new friends.

Harry’s smile is back, only a little bit, though. 

“Prostitutes gone wild.”

They make their way to the obnoxiously regal building and into that hallway. Harry’s headed towards another large security man, Louis trotting eagerly behind him. 

“Stay here,” Harry demands, putting his hands on Louis’ shoulders.

Louis nods.

Harry hesitates for a moment, looks behind him, and says “wait.”

He grabs Louis’ wrist, dragging him over to where the guard is standing. 

“Do NOT let anything happen to this one. Do, not.” Harry says firmly, the guard nodding in response.

As Harry walks away and into a room across the hallway, Louis is anxious to speak. Alcohol does this to him, makes him want to fill silence with banter and pranks galore. He cracks a wise joke to the guard, who is silent in response. 

“Tough crowd,” Louis snorts. There’s a laugh coming down the hall, a smaller lad coming along with it. 

“He has no sense of humor,” the boy calls out to Louis as he nears him. When he’s at Louis’ side, he offers a hand. “Tim,” he says.

“Louis,” Louis shakes his hand.

“So,” Tim raises his eyebrows at Louis invitingly. 

Louis can’t help but admire how attractive Tim is. He’s about the same height as Louis, short blonde hair perfectly framing his jawline. He’s fit and dressed in ridiculously tight black jeans and a white V-Neck that gives a short glimpse of a chiseled chest. It doesn’t help that the shirt is see through, too. 

His head is swirling, and before he can think, he’s sloppily kissing him. They’re running their hands over each other, lips wet and slippery as they connect again and again. Tim’s tongue is digging into Louis’ as his hand runs down to squeeze Louis’ ass.

“Ahem,” Harry says pointedly. 

Louis turns to face him, wiping off his lips as Tim backs away from him.

“I’m sorry,” Tim struggles to understand what’s going on, eyes batting from Louis to Harry vigorously. “I was just trying to-”

Harry waves his hand, signaling Tim to run off, which he does, leaving Louis against the wall of the hallway feeling sober as he stares back.

“Harry, I-”

Before he can apologies profusely, Harry is swooping him up with little effort. He carries Louis down the hall like a toddler, Louis draped over his shoulder.

The car ride is quiet. Harry pokes at his phone, not making an effort to awknowledge Louis. He’s not cold, he’s just… blank.

When they’re back at the flat, Louis attempts to apologize, only to be cut off suddenly by Harry’s stark tone.

“I shouldn’t have left you alone.”

Oh.

Louis’ face melts. He had completely forgotten about that night, and felt guilty for forgetting how bad Harry still felt. But he still feels guilty himself, which is interesting. He’s the one who’d made it clear that him and Harry were merely friends, but Harry wasn’t jealous? He wasn’t writhing in an envious rage at the sight of Louis frenching one of his employees?

He watched as Harry meander around the apartment, only for him to disappear to his bedroom. Louis anxiously tiptoes towards the door, pressing his ear to it. And he hears music. Harry is making music, and he’s hearing it. 

It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, a masterpiece being created at Harry’s fingertips. But then a thought stops Louis’ imagination in its tracks because-

The pages of lyrics. The chords. The dramatic tragedy of Harry’s writing. He listens closer, trying to put together a synapsis of the melodic tunes playing through the wood. He’s leaning entirely onto the door, ears tickling from the sound of strings and sorrowful words put together creating an alluringly tragic sound. 

Suddenly, he’s falling forward. He catches himself and stands upright, face to face with Harry.

“I don’t like this,” Harry deadpans, face drooping annoyedly down at Louis. They’re faces are uncomfortably close, but neither one of them has any plans to move.

“I-uh-” Louis stammers.

Harry is the first to put space in between them, turning around and huffing out a breath. “It’s too much.” He walks further into his room, hands on his hips and clutching to keep his composure. 

“What’s too much?” Louis huffs back.

Harry stares at the ceiling. “You, being here.”

Louis is taken aback. His mouth hangs open, taking in the words and regurgitating them. “Me being here is too much for you?” He doesn’t mean for it to sound weak and wounded, but it does. He clears his throat to maintain whatever dignity he has, but it’s crumbling. His mind floods with every emotion that’s filled the past few days. The most prevalent one is the substantial guilt and discomfort from that evening. “I was drunk, Harry, I didn’t mean to-”

“Stop-” Harry faces him, “Its too much, Louis, I don’t want to talk about it, I just-” He bitterly heaves a grunted sigh, “I’m thinking you should go.”

“Okay, wait a minute Harry,” Louis barks. “You can’t run away from things, you just can’t. And if you’re feeling something, express it. Alright? It’s not too hard, Harry.” He winces at the harsh delivery, but fixes his posture to stand by his words. 

In response, Harry finally meets his gaze. His eyes are pooling with tears as he shakes his head. “I don’t want to.”

“Fuck, Harry!” Louis yells into the dense atmosphere. “What is it? You’re mad that I kissed him? Mad that I would have fucked him if you hadn’t been there to save the day? I’m a grown man, Harry, and just like you I would love to fuck anything that moves.”

He’s losing it, absolutely loosening his grip on keeping calm and conducted and cool because- fuck. Harry is looking at him with those damn eyes that burned into his skin like molten aluminum. They’re wet and on the verge of dripping, and he’s shaking. Harry is shaking in front of him, but he doesn’t stop. 

“Say it!” Louis demands. “Say you’re mad, or you’re jealous, or you’re sad, but just spit it out for christ’s sake.”

Harry shakes his head. The tears have pulled themselves back into his head. He doesn’t look sad anymore. His face and figure have turned into a compilation of fury and disbelief. “Why don’t you just fucking go, alright?” He says, voice lower and louder than Louis’ ever heard it.

“Really.” Louis puts his hands on his hips. “You want me to leave, you really do?”

“Yes!” Harry laughs maniacally, “I don’t want you here! I don’t need you here!” He screams, arms throwing themselves into the air with every word.  

Louis scoffs in reply. He turns his head away, refusing to meet Harry’s stare. Harry eventually does the same until their both standing, breathing heavily with rage, waiting for the other to say something.  

“Fine,” Louis finally breaks the silence, “Alright, I’ll go.”

He turns to leave, looking back before entering the hallway. “Is that really what you want?” He says, trying to sound less snarky.

Harry’s holding a hand to his face, eyes barely looking up from the ground to view Louis. “What do you want me to say?” 

It’s fragile when he says it. His voice is quiet, hushed like a child. 

Louis just shrugs, shaking his head. He has no idea, really. No clue what he expects or wants from Harry at this point. If he stays, they’ll start the cycle up again. If he leaves, who knows what Harry will do. He has no idea. So he just waits for a beat, until Harry’s hand leaves its spot on his mouth.

“Just go, Louis.”

Chapter Text

Louis doesn’t go.

Instead, he coops himself up in his bedroom, fiddling with his thumbs and spewing hair out of his face. He’s decided that he’ll leave in the morning once the tension has died down a bit. As he lies patiently on his bed, he curses himself for kissing that dreadfully fit escort.

Because, yeah, he feels pretty stupid. It was the twink’s job to reel him in like fish on a line, and he fell for it. His drunken ass really fell into the kid’s arms and locked tongues. The image of Harry’s possessive eyes landing on him in that moment drives a dagger through Louis’ gut. The idea is a shard of glass that cuts him, leaving scars of resentment all over his body. 

He keeps telling himself that it really isn’t that big of a deal. That he is his own person that really can fuck whoever and whatever he wants to but… He doesn’t want to. Not in his sober state, anyways. 

A beat of frustration passes over him. What was he doing? 

He’s living with Harry as a platonic caretaker of sorts. He’s taking care of Harry; making sure he’s fed, clean, and refraining from doing anything dangerous to himself. That’s all it is, he’s sure of it. He’s made it pretty damn clear, too, though it certainly was straining to watch Harry’s damp curls fall on his face after a shower. 

Even thinking about it makes his groin tickle with want and anticipation. And he hates that. Hates that Harry makes his insides curl and intertwine themselves with feelings of adoring infatuation. 

A few hours later, his eyes are shut while his mind slowly sweeps itself off into a light slumber. In his half-dreaming-half-concious state, he swears he hears the door open. 

He keeps his eyes shut, lets his mind meander into itself as he hears footsteps nearing him. Then the bed dips by his feet. Is that a hand on his leg?

Okay, he’s awake now, eyes fluttering open the slightest bit because-

Harry’s on the edge of his bed.

Harry’s hand is gripping lightly onto his leg, fingers gracing the length of his shin though the comforter. It’s delicate, simple. He clutches a little tighter, eyes focused on his fingers as they grasp lightly to the outline of Louis. 

“Don’t go,” he whispers timidly, almost silently. 

Louis lies still, struggling to maintain a normal breathing rate so as to keep up the appearance that he’s asleep. Harry is so endearing and genuine at his feet, slowly peering up at Louis whilst a soft smile tickles the corners of his mouth. Louis watches through his deceiving eyelids. Watches how Harry touches him without knowing that Louis knows. 

A last grip of Louis’ leg, and Harry leaves. The mere comfort of those words sends Louis into a deep, deep sleep.

He wakes up to Harry in his doorway, hands behind his back as if he’s hiding something.

“Jesus,” Louis sits up in his bed, “What time is it?”

Harry doesn’t respond, just focuses on his bare feet as they make aimless scuffs on the carpet. He’s the spitting image of childlike knowing guilt, blushing and pouting his lips towards the ground. 

“You didn’t leave,” Harry whispers, looking up. A nimble smile graces his face when their eyes meet. 

“‘Course not,” Louis smiles back, a surge of energy taking up the air between them. An excitement fills them both with an ecstatic something. They stupidly play off of each other’s buzz, feeling like the color in the world got a little brighter. “Haven’t I made it clear that I’m impossible to get rid of? Have I not made that clear? Because I will stay in this bed all day just to prove it.”

Harry giddily hops onto the bed beside Louis, propping himself up on his elbows and kicking his feet behind him. 

They stare for a moment, beaming faces interacting as if they’re having their own silent conversation. 

It’s stupid and it’s dumb how they beam at each other at a simple feeling. But Louis is comfortable and warm because Harry is there, and Harry is fucking glowing

The joy between them dies down when Harry breaks the stare. 

“I’m sorry about how I acted.” He peers down at Louis’ fingers. “I behaved like a right child, I just- I lost control and I’m sorry, but mostly-” He looks back up at Louis and loses his ability to breathe. His breath hitches, time pausing for a moment to allow him a second to process what he’s about to say. “You make me feel a lot of things.”

Louis’ spine tingles as the words rumble his eardrums. He takes a visibly large breath, chest rising and falling dramatically. 

Harry continues, “I don’t mean-” he fumbles over his words, “I’m- fuck. I’ve never been good at communicating, and, I’ve never been great at feeling either. Never know how to filter good from bad because, I don’t let myself, and I’m starting to see that, so-” He clutches onto Louis’ leg through the blanket.

Louis fidgets at the contact. He’s not uncomfortable, no. It’s just that Harry is touching him and he can feel everything that Harry is feeling through the touch. Harry squeezes lightly and digs his eyes deeper into Louis’ with a trying expression. He’s trying, really trying, and it’s obvious. Trying to process and communicate.

Harry heaves a sigh of both relief and anxiety, “I felt very upset about what I saw. Very upset and conflicted and I didn’t know if I was right to feel that way, and I decided I wasn’t, so when you asked I panicked. I panicked, and you dealt with that, and you don’t have to and-” 

He’s rambling nervously. As Harry stutters through his words, Louis tenderly presses a hand to Harry’s cheek, immediately stopping the unconscious vomit of emotion coming from Harry.

“It’s okay,” Louis chuckles, “It’s okay. You feel what you feel, that’s okay, Harry. Just- stop running, okay?”

Harry sighs. He shuts his eyes at the feel of Louis’ hand on his face. Little creases make up the sides of his eyes as if he’s thinking very hard, on the brink of a severely important decision. Louis tries to make sense of it, when suddenly-

Harry’s turning his head to kiss the inside of Louis’ palm. He presses a gentle kiss onto the soft skin with eyes shut. 

Without thinking, Louis yanks his hand away.

He’s afraid, very afraid when Harry looks at him with a look of despair and confusion. The green glistening eyes are lost as they peer into Louis’, looking like a missing child that’s desperately trying to find a parent. It startles Louis in a way that is entirely new, entirely unfamiliar in all aspects. 

“We can’t do that, Harry,” Louis whispers apologetically.

And, like Louis was expecting, Harry leaps off of the bed in frustration. He faces Louis with tears brewing in his eyes. “Why?”

“That’s not what this is, Harry.”

It’s terrifyingly tragic. Harry is aimlessly pacing in Louis’ room, hands gripping onto his hair as he holds back an impending scream.

Louis might as well join him, inner turmoil tearing him apart. His heart is exploding in his chest, begging him to just give in and wrap Harry in his arms. He so, so so badly wants to find Harry’s lips and let them fucking meet again, lock perfectly in the sunset. He gets up to follow Harry, stopping in his tracks when Harry faces him. 

His eyes are gleaming wet, showing that the tears have indeed begun and this time: they’re angry. Angry and frustrated and hurt. He towers over Louis, fists clenched at his sides. The tension between them radiates like a gas stove on the highest setting. The thunder in their chests echo each other. And just like that- Harry’s ridiculously massive hands are grabbing Louis’ cheeks and yanking their faces together.

Louis falls in. He grabs Harry back and kisses him hotly, making sure that Harry feels every ounce of his frustration through every part of his lips. 

Harry’s hands grasp at Louis’ head to pull him closer, if that’s even possible. Their bodies melt into each other as they frantically push themselves up against a wall, hands exploring each other’s torsos with magnificent passion. They press their hips together in unison, both begging for the pressure of the other’s body. Even through the clothing, the electricity fires between them as they grind on each other through sloppily wet kisses and tiny grunts. 

Louis pushes himself away. He distances himself, wiping Harry’s mouth off of his face. “No,” he shakes his head.

Harry starts towards Louis, ready to go again, but Louis finds the last drop of resistance in him and puts his hands between them.

“No, Harry.”

Harry’s body loosens in defeat. He shakes his head lightly, uttering a broken “Why?”

Louis digs his eyes into Harry’s. “We’re not ready.”

And he begs that Harry does. Begs through his stare that Harry understands that they really aren’t ready. It’s so much. Too much for Louis, even. The fire in his stomach is out of control. Adding Harry now would be collateral damage, letting the blaze take over his entire body instead of just one of his organs. 

The look of sunken defeat is still vibrant on Harry’s face. He’s not crying, just staring back at Louis with his pupils dilated to the point that you can’t even tell that they’re green anymore. 

Louis gulps. “You know that, right?”

Harry looks away.

“Harry…” Louis steps towards him, voice weak and soft as it reaches out to Harry, “I’m not- I don’t think I’m ready to take on the amount of things I feel for you just yet.”

It’s a confession for himself as much as it is for Harry. Because he does feel too much, too much of that explosive feeling that buries itself deep inside of his loins. It’s unnamed and wild, vibrant and enclosed inside of his body. He’s never felt this way before, ever. He sighs, his heart opening like a door freeing from its hinges. 

“It doesn’t make sense to me yet; how I feel about you, and- I can’t help but feel like this is important , Harry. That you’re far too important, Harry. I don’t know what to do with it yet. I really am lost when it comes to you and- I don’t want to be. I want to know and I want to figure this out right. And I can’t do that- Not when I don’t know if you’re gonna leave when things get scary.”

Somehow, he’s found himself very close to Harry again. Their toes brush against each other. Harry’s breathing down onto him, eyes wide and open, accepting every word Louis says. But he’s still unreadable. Still blank and not there. 

Harry’s phone rings. They stay in each other’s wake; too close for comfort. Harry stares down at Louis as he answers the phone and just like that- 

He leaves.

Louis can’t help but stare dumbfounded at the empty doorframe. His chest falls in on itself, feeling crushed in the abandonment that he should be getting used to by now. He had just poured a large chunk of his molten heart onto the floor for Harry, and he just walked over it. Harry’s massive bare feet walked through Louis’ words and out of the room.

Storming out of his bedroom, Louis finds himself standing in the middle of the living room. Harry is in the kitchen, aggravation plastered on his face with a phone to his ear. He peers up at Louis as he continues his conversation on the phone.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Louis hollers. Harry just gestures to his phone, which only angers Louis more. “I just fucking said. Just fucking told you not to leave, you can’t wait a minute? Was that not enough for you? Harry?”

Harry shuts his eyes, keeping polite on the call. 

Louis fumes, strutting over towards Harry. “I’m more than this. More than all of this. I know that, Harry. I’m worth more .” 

He feels the tears threatening his eyes, gracing his bottom eyelashes as he slams his fists down on the counter. 

Harry finally hangs up, throwing his phone down on the counter. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“What the fuck- What am I doing? I’m angry, Harry, these are emotions, see how easy it is to show them.” Louis bites his tongue at the remark, knowing full well that that had to hurt. He anxiously watches Harry’s response, which is nothing more than an agitated clenched jaw. He waits some more, feeling furious as the anticipation builds. Harry says nothing, just narrows his eyes at Louis. “Well?” Louis spits. “Gonna spew anything at me? Anything, anything at all, really.”

Harry shakes his head, looking down at his palms on the counter before turning to walk towards his room.

Louis follows him, shouting as the door slams in his face.

“Fine, Harry. Fine. You want to be petty and immature? Fine.” He fumes into the wood. Cheeks flushed with madness, he storms out of the apartment and down towards the nearest bar.

Surrounded by strangers, Louis slams down a few shots of whatever. Its when he’s on his fifth that a man approaches him. He’s tall, lanky, and fit as hell. His shirt hangs loosely off of his shoulders, front tucked into the belt of his jeans. 

“Rough night?” The stranger coos with a crooked smile.

“That’s one way to put it,” Louis slurs, turning to face him. They give each other a knowing look, eyes dancing up and down each other’s bodies. He turns and downs the shot, and then another, and then pulls the handsome man into the sloppiest of snogs. 

Their hands race along each other’s backs frantically as they stumble out of the bar. They’re grinding deeply into each other, Louis sloppily licking at the man’s neck in a drunken stupor. 

Louis has done a good job of numbing his brain, barely taking in anything other than the fragrant lick of vodka still on his tongue and the handsome stranger’s fingers fighting their way into his jeans. 

They eventually saunter into the living room of the flat, bodies still connected somehow. Louis’ found his way onto his hips, grinding down onto the man’s solid cock through their denim jeans. The world is spinning relentlessly as the man throws him onto the sofa.

The man begins stripping himself of his clothing as if its a performance, fingers taking their sweet time as he lifts the fabric from his sweaty and toned torso. He does the same to Louis, slowly inching his tee off his body with purpose. He’s seductive as all hell, and Louis doesn’t have to be sober to recognize that. 

Louis yanks him in, pulling his body on top of his own so that their skin meets. It’s sweaty and rigid as they drunkenly pour themselves into each other’s mouths. His mind reeling, he shuts his eyes forcefully. He can feel the alcohol pulsing through his veins stronger now, sending the spinning world into a hurricane of blurs and slurred words. 

The man runs his tongue dirtily down Louis vulnerable stomach. He reaches down towards Louis’ boxers, pulling them off with an urgency. Louis’ cock bounces on his stomach as the man leans down, taking him into his mouth. 

It’s hot and warm, but Louis can barely feel it. He turns his head, eyes still shut. The man runs his mouth up and down Louis. He’s good at it, there’s no denying that. When Louis opens his eyes, he spots the television which is playing The Notebook. If he wasn’t in a vulnerable state before, he sure is now. He loses control of himself, feeling his lips quiver as a silent tear runs down his face.

He breaks down quietly. It’s not that he’s trying to avoid the awkwardness of crying as a strangers sucks his cock; it’s more of a numb brokenness that overtakes his limp body. His eyes bore into the film, wet and lost in the old couple on the screen.

Suddenly, the man is hopping off his him. Louis can’t look away from the TV. He just stares and listens as Harry yells in the background.

There’s slamming, screaming, and finally- Harry is sitting down in front of him, blocking his view of the TV. 

As Louis tries his hardest to focus on Harry, he doesn’t stop crying. Just stares at Harry with begging eyes, letting Harry lay a gentle blanket on top of his nearly naked body. The tears stop for a second as his stomach lurches. Vomit spills angrily from his mouth and onto the Harry’s slippers beneath him.

“Oh, Louis…” Harry says sorrily. He brings a hand up to Louis’ mouth, thumb wiping away the disgusting mess gingerly. He walks away and comes back with a tub and a wet rag. He puts the tub in front of Louis on the couch while using the rag to clean Louis up. 

The rest is a mirage of Harry taking care of him. He brings a glass of water and cleans up the mess, all while passing concerned looks towards Louis. Whenever their eyes meet, Louis lets out the tiniest of sobs, to which Harry will respond with a calming hand to his cheek.