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This Fire Never Burned So bright

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The task was simple, get the job, get their trust, and then let Louis do the rest. It was literally that simple, and Harry was still freaking out. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary: Harry freaked out, Liam   made sure he was okay, Zayn rolled his eyes, and Niall laughed through the whole thing. Louis sat off to the side with a gentle hand on Harry’s knee to let him know that this was going to be fine. They were always fine. No one could touch them.

They had been doing this since Louis was eleven and Harry was nine, foggy eyed and worried about when his next meal would be. Louis came along and Harry didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Louis took care of him. It started small and just enough to keep them living. With a few stolen jackets so Harry was warm, a wallet with a couple hundreds Louis pick-pocketed from an old round man who wouldn’t miss it, and an old loft at the top of an abandoned paper mill outside Malone, New York. Louis would take old books from the run-down shop the next town over and give them to Harry because he loved reading (and Harry always returned the books when he was done). Harry would fall and skid his knee in the square as a distraction so Louis could take a few potatoes and apples from the grouchy old man who would hit them with a broom every time they came close enough.

"Great job, love," Louis would say kissing his hair, “You did wonderful.”

 They did enough to survive and that was good. Louis started putting money away, and everything was livable. Then they started getting good at what they did. Within 3 years, they had more money than they ever hoped, and it kept piling up. They were able to buy things like groceries and furniture for their loft, and still had lots of money left over. It was not only livable, but also enjoyable.No one questioned the teenage boys buying household things. No one cared.

The other three boys came along as the years progressed. Niall was one of the best pick-pocketers Louis had ever witnessed. It was early on, and he was walking around looking for some money on the ground when he saw a skinny blonde-headed boy bump into a well dressed man, making it look like an accident, but had taken a few twenty’s from the guy. Louis knew then and there that he needed this boy in his life.

When Louis found Liam, the boy was laying in the street surrounded in blood. It had looked like someone had mugged him, though once they had found out he had nothing more than the clothes on his back, they had beaten him unconscious. Louis brought him home, and he never left.

Harry was the one to find Zayn. He had just turned fifteen and though he knew of the racial differences, and honestly thought it was stupid, he had never witnessed anything as bad as the day he met Zayn. He was on his way home from the little sweets shop because he wanted to get Louis some Cherry Slices, when he saw some kids run around the back of the store. Now, Harry knew not to draw attention to himself. He was 15 and he, Louis, and the others were growing to be one of the richest people in town. He wasn’t like kids his age, He could do, and has done, more things in his life than they ever will, but when he sees a crowd of about 4 rowdy boys crowded around something, he can’t help but go see. When he gets close enough to see it isn’t something they’re crowded around, but someone his instincts kick in. He has two of the boys on the ground groaning in pain in seconds and the other two are gawking at him.

"What do ya think you’re doing?" He angrily asks.

"Uh-," a tall, dirty boy says, "We was just teaching this dirt colored scum what happens to people like him when they break the law. He took some money from my buddy. I saw him just in time before he could get away. I ain’t gonna let him disrespect us like ‘at."

"Dirt? He’s hardly darker than you. If I ever see any of you," He growls, looking around at the boys, "Lay a finger on someone slightly or even a lot darker than you, I could care less which, I swear to God I’ll do more than what I just did to your friends right here," He taps the boy on the ground with his foot, "Now get goin’! I don’t want you anywhere in my sight, and if you aren’t gone before I count to 10, then I’ll give you all a beatin’ way worse than what you were thinking of doing to him." He points to the boy they had been surrounding.

They all run in different directions. After they are gone, he bends down to inspect the boy. He has a bloody nose and a busted lip, but other than that, he seems all right. Just to be sure, Harry gives him a hand and says, “Ya alright mate?”

"I’ll survive." He winces when his teeth catch on his lip.

"I know you will." Harry smiles.

After that, the five of them are inseparable and one of the best gang of robbers that has ever been known. People take to calking them One Direction.

"Come on, love" Louis says now, "You’ll do great. We’ll do great.”

At that, Harry breathes easily again. He lets his shoulders sag and relaxes into Louis. With a nod to Liam, he gets up and walks over to where his work outfits hanging on the door and strips his clothes.

"Nice get up, H." Zayn snickers, gesturing to the white shirt and black bow tie.

"Hush," Louis snaps, "I’d like to see you try and look half as good as he does."

"That’s not true and you know it, Lou." Harry sighs.

"Yeah, Zayn’s got a face to rival Nancy Kelly and the body to put Montgomery Clift to shame." Niall laughs.

"You’re just jealous of his curls," Louis says, running his hands through Harry’s hair. Harry leans into the touch easily, "and besides, I don’t see either of you lining up to do the job. Harry is the best distraction we have. He does things neither of you can."

"You know damn well why we can’t let Zayn do this." Liam snaps.

There is a tense silence that lasts a beat too long.

"That isn’t what I meant and you know it Li." Louis says softly, "I’m sorry Z." He says to Zayn.

"It’s fine, Lou. We can’t all be pretty white boys." He shrugs.

Louis smiles and squeezes Zayn’s elbow, “Now come on, lads, we have things to steal and bars to destroy.” He says clapping his hands.

They all pile out of their flat and into the Continental Mark II Louis splurged on last spring. It’s a nice little car and it’s fast enough to keep some distance between them and whoever is on their tail. Louis likes his cars, and he keeps all of theirs nicely lined up in the garage of their building. He keeps his right next to the Maserati 3500 GT he bought Harry when he turned 18 a few years ago. Louis likes cars, but he likes to spoil his boy more. Money isn’t a problem anymore so he can drop a few thousand on a pretty car for his pretty boy.

 He turns and looks at all of their faces before he speaks, “Do we all know the plan?” He gets a series of grunts and nods before he continues, “Just to be sure tell me again.”

"Harry goes in for his night shift down at Bud’s all chrome-plated with his little busboy getup and makes sure to look extra nice for them gross bikers," Niall says pinching Harry’s cheek," Then Lou goes in and does the job and we high tail it outta there." He finishes off clapping Louis on the shoulder.

They all look to Niall with surprised expressions.

"What?" He asks, "I listen when it matters.”

"Okay," Louis drawls out, "I guess we got it." He turns to start the car and sets off towards the bar. He parks about a block away in dead-end ally. He cuts the engine and turns to Harry, "You alright, babe?"

"Yeah, I just hate going in there. They treat me like meat." He shrugs.

"I’ll teach ‘em a lesson," He smiles and leans in for a kiss. The others just groan and let it happen. Louis leans his forehead against Harry’s, and puts his hand on Harry’s cheek, "You and me against the world, and all she throws at us, stud."

Harry laughs, “You and me against the world, Mr. Earthbound.” He echoes back leaning in for another kiss.

"We have a job to do," Liam says some time later, "so if you guys are done doing the backseat bingo, I’d like to get home before the sun rises."

Louis coughs, “Right, okay. Harry you’ll do great.” He reaches back and straps Harry’s favorite gun into the back belt loop of his trousers, then kisses his cheek and ushers him out of the with a slap to Harry’s ass, “Knock ‘em dead, baby.”

Harry leaves the car with a smile on his face, but it quickly fades when he remembers where he’s going. It’s a short little walk to the dingy bar and he takes a lot of useless time stalling before he has to go in. He really does hate it in there. The owner makes a big show of spilling drinks down his shirt and makes him serve guests with wet and sticky clothes more nights than not. The customers aren’t much better. They slap his ass and call him ‘dolly’ and it takes all his self-control not to snap their necks (because Liam taught him how to do that when he came home one day 20 dollars poorer and sporting a black eye). Tonight isn’t much better.

"Harry, the back booth needs service what the hell are you doing just standing around?" His boss Quincy yells when he gets in. he groans and goes to grab his notepad and makes his way to the greasy back booth.

"Well isn’t it my favorite little waitress. Where’s your skirt and heels, baby?" One of them says. He reaches out and wraps his arm around Harry to tug him closer.

"Still at the store," Harry mumbles.

"What was that?’ The guy snarls.

"I said," Harry snaps stepping away, "Still in the bird section at the store. Now would you like a drink or not?"

"Oh, Dean," One of the others say, "This one’s got a mouth on ‘em."

"You’d learn to hold your mouth, boy."

"So now I’m a boy?" Harry laughs, "I’ll just get you some tap." He turns on his heels and walks off.

"Hey!" The one named Dean says, "Get back here you little-" Harry steps into the backroom and lets the door snap shut, cutting the guy off, and sits around doing nothing for a while. He’s thinking about how Liam should take the next job when he hears the little bell above the door jingle. He rushes to grabs the closest mug and fills it with water then walks out to see Louis walking up to the bar. Louis takes his seat and leans his chin on his fist. Back at the flat, he had let Harry pick out his outfit and he’s sporting a blue blazer that hides his guns with nice trousers to match. It would be a terrible lie to say he doesn’t look less than perfect.

"Water please." Louis smiles.

"You’re going to need to order more than that," Quincy says.

He just blinks and says, “Surprise me.” with a tilt of his head.

Harry walks to the back booth and sets the mug down hard enough to splash a mess, “Your water, big daddy.” he deadpans.

"Come here and let me teach you how to act around grown men, dolly." Dean growls, getting up from the table.

"I know how to speak to men; I never learned how to speak to pigs though. It’s always a good day to learn." Harry shrugs with a smirk. All worries about the plan pushed aside as he relaxes and feels his body click into his favorite mood. Harry loves the pure joy he gets out of doing things like this. He picks the glass up and pours it on the guys around the table before dropping the glass and turning the table to fall on the other two guys. Laughing, he runs towards the front of the bar leaving a mess behind him as he goes and slides right up to Louis.

"Hello, Love," Louis says wrapping an arm around his shoulder, "Are ya ready?"

"Whenever you are," He kisses his cheek and Louis nods, "alright Q," He says to the older man. He pulls out a bag and sets it in front of him," Empty all the cash you’ve got there in that fancy register into this here bag and I’ll go easy on ya."

"Excuse me?" He spits, "Why would I do that?"

"Because," Louis snaps, "You’ve been treating my boy like shit and," He says reaching for the gun hidden under Harry’s jacket and pulls it out to rest on the bar, "I have a cool new toy I’d love to try."

Quincy’s eyes widen and he steps back, “alright, I don’t want no trouble.”

"Then empty the money into my bag," Harry smirks gesturing to the open bag in between him and the store owner, "And make it quick."

While Harry watches Quincy load the bag with money, Louis turns to the mess in the back. He walks up to the guys scrambling around on the floor and turns his head to yell to Harry, “Which one’s been giving you trouble, Baby?”

"The one called Dean," Harry shouts back.

"And who would that be?" Louis asks. They all point to Dean and Louis turns to face him, "Let me tell you something, Dean,” He spits, lowering down to a crouch, “there are only two things I cannot stand. I can’t stand people messing with my boys, and then I can’t stand people messing with my boy. And you just happened to mess with the one that I tolerate the least.”

"I- I didn’t know he was your-r boy," He stutters, "I-I’m sorry."

"I know you are," He says with a mock frown. "but I don’t forgive you, Dean," He spits then shoots Dean in the thigh and turns to the others, "Anyone else?" They all shake their heads, "Okay." He shrugs and turns to walk back towards Harry.

"All set?" Harry asks.

Louis smirks, “Yep, I got them good.”

Harry dimples and turns back to Quincy, “Well, I guess we’re all through here. Don’t call the heat, we’ll be long gone before they get here.” They turn to leave, but are stopped when one of the guys from the back speak up.

"You won’t get away with this." He says.

"Ain’t that a bite." Harry throws back as Louis lets out a cackle before the door slams shut.

"Great job, love," Louis says taking Harry’s hand, "You did-"

"Wonderful." Harry finishes for him. Louis smiles and leads him to the car.

"Let’s get goin’, Lou," Niall says before they even shut their doors, "I want as much space between us and this place as possible."

"Way ahead of you," Louis laughs, flooring it and driving off.

They take the long way home, going in circles and making sure there is no way they could be traced to this. When Harry had applied for that job, he had done it under a false last name and didn’t even bother with an address. The owner must have been desperate just to take him in only knowing his name and (fake) age of 17. They’ve been driving around for about two hours when Harry looks back to see Niall sprawled over Zayn and Liam’s lap; all three fast asleep. Zayn’s got his hands tangled in Niall’s hair while Liam’s hand is wrapped around his shoulder. Harry smiles at the scene and turns to look at Louis.

"We did well tonight, Lou, I think we took almost 700. Not nearly as much as usual, but I feel pretty good about it." He says.

Louis turns to smile at him before focusing back at the road.

He seems to be debating in his head about something before he says, “I’ve been thinking,” He puts a hand on Harry’s thigh, “about getting a place for the two of us.”

"Really?"

"Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Like, I love the boys. I love them so much, but I want us to start a life together. I’ll leave the loft for them, of course. We would still see them every day probably, and I can get you that cat you wanted," He laughs, "And we can settle down, H, start a family."

"Yeah?" Harry chokes out. He can’t help but think of all the things that Louis is saying, and how he couldn’t agree more.

"Of course. Anything for you baby," He says squeezing his knee, "We’ll talk more later about it, but right now get some sleep. We’re about an hour away from home."

"Alright Lou," He mumbles after he lies down so his head is on Louis’ thigh, "love you."

Harry drifts off to sleep thinking about kids running around and a pretty blue house with a white fence in the front garden. He’s startled awake when Louis shakes him. The car is empty, so Louis must have already woken the other boys.

"We’re home, love, up ya get."

Harry grunts and says, “Carry me, please?”

"H," He laughs, "I haven’t been able to carry you since you were 10 and smaller than my hand."

"I was never that small!" Harry squeaks.

"Of course you were," Louis says pulling Harry up, "I guess I could carry you, jump up on my back."

"Yay," yawns Harry after he jumps on Louis’ back, "you can never resist me."

"It’s the dimples."

"It’s the love." Harry mumbles into Louis’ neck.

"Yeah," Louis says with a sighs, "It is." He carries Harry up the three flights of stairs to the loft at the top. When he gets there, he sets Harry down on his feet, making him lose his balance due to drowsiness (or just his awkward gangly limbs), and lean into Louis.

Louis kisses his hair and then straightens up to say, “Everyone off to bed! I have some exciting news to tell in the morning so get goin’.”

"Alright, Lou, no need to shout." Zayn groans from the sofa.

"Don’t you fall asleep there, Zayn," Louis warns, "You know what happens to your back."

"Yeah, yeah." He whines as he gets up. He walks over to where Niall is laying on his bed, already dead to the world, and crawls in next to him. He curls himself around the smaller boy and grunts out a short, "Night."

He receives a grunt from Liam and one g’night Zaynie from Harry. Louis drags Harry up the stairs to the bedroom that overlooks the rest of the loft and undresses him before doing the same. Once he’s finished, he pulls the covers around them and burrows deep into Harry’s chest. The taller boy wraps his arms around him and lets out a happy sigh.

"I love you." He whispers.

"I love you too, H. You did so well tonight."

“‘S only ‘cause I had you.”

Louis chuckles, “I’m glad I have you too.” He leans up to connect his lips with Harry’s. Their lips slide together with years of practice and ease, but Louis can feel Harry starting to drift off to sleep. His kisses are slow and sweet and he tastes like the cherry candies Louis keeps in the cup holders of nearly all their cars.

Louis pulls back, kisses Harry’s forehead, and says, “Goodnight, H.”

Harry is already asleep.

—-

When Louis wakes up, it’s to a crash in the kitchen and Liam yelling, “Niall, get out of the kitchen!”

"Drop dead twice, Li!" Niall responds.

"What, and look like you?" Liam spits back.

"Guys, come on," Harry groans from beside Louis, "Stop it."

"Liam started it." Niall mumbles just loud enough for them to hear.

Louis tunes him out and turns to bury his head in Harry’s chest with a groan, “What time is it?”

"Probably around noon." Mumbles Harry. He’s got his hand tangled in Louis’ hair, and is tugging out the knots from sleeping.

"Way too early." He whines.

"Come, on," Harry says, extracting himself from Louis’ octopus arms, "I should probably make them some breakfast before they burn down my kitchen."

Louis makes some unintelligible noises before he sits up. He looks over at Harry who is smiling at him and smiles back.

"Do we have a job today?" Harry asks with a tilt to his head.

Louis looks at him with a soft smile before shaking his head, ” I was actually thinking we’d go on a road trip. Take the week off. It’s what, Sunday?” Harry nods with a hint of a smile on his lips, “We could leave later today and be back on Friday. I was thinking about Coney Island maybe? It’s about a 6 hour trip from Malone to Coney Island, but we can make it real fun.” the longer he kept talking the wider Harry’s smile gets, “Then we could drive to the beach and eat hundreds of burgers on our way. Then of course, we’ll go ride some rides. How does that sound? I’d have to ask the boys, but I’m sur-” He’s cut off by harry jumping on him. He lands on his back with Harry on top of him.

"Promise you aren’t playin’?" Harry says into his shoulder. He’s starting to buzz with excitement.

"I’m not playin’, H, I’m totally serious." He laughs, "That’s why we did that small job. We’ll use the money we got last night."

"No jobs?"

"No jobs."

Harry jumps off him so fast he falls to the floor, but it must not have hurt because he’s on his feet in seconds, “We have to go tell the boys, Lou, come on. Get up.”

"Alright, alright. Cool it, babe." He gets up and pulls on the shirt lying at his feet. It’s embarrassingly too big, falling to about mid thigh, but smells like Harry so he keeps it on. Harry is already gone down the stairs by the time he gets it over his head.

With a sigh, he leans over the half-wall of their room to look down into the open space below. He sees Zayn still dead to the world, and Niall and Liam are sitting at the table. They’re both looking at Harry who is telling them about the trip, but with lots of hand gestures and pauses from excitement. Louis smiles and makes his way down the stairs to join them When Harry’s done telling them what Louis had told him earlier, they both turn to Louis to make sure Harry wasn’t just telling them a big lie. He can see the excitement in their eyes.

"Really?" Liam asks to make sure.

"Really," He smiles then cocks his head to the direction of where Zayn is, "Go wake Zayn, Ni."

After Niall runs to his bed to jump on Zayn he adds, “And pack enough clothes for about a week.”

They don’t end up leaving until later that night. It takes them about 2 hours to decide on which car to take. Harry walks by each car down in their garage inspecting them all thoroughly. Louis sits back and watches, because after about two cars and him saying, come on, H it’s just a car let’s take this oneHarry makes him sit down near the big open doors and tells him to hush. When he finally, finally made his decision, it’s Niall’s red Edsel Bermuda Station Wagon, everyone else was already packed and ready to go. Louis made sure he packed everything they needed and a few things he knows the boys probably forgot. He likes to be prepared. So, he packs a gun into each suitcase to make sure everyone is safe.

"We’re taking guns? I thought this was just a road trip?" Niall says when he sees Louis tuck one in his suitcase under his shoes.

"Well it is. I just want to be safe."

"Louis," Harry warns, "You promised no jobs, just a fun week off at Coney Island."

"Babe, we have some of the most recognizable faces in New York. We are one of, if not the, best criminals in the country. We’re wanted fugitives, I mean just last week Zayn stole five thousand dollars because he was bored. I am just making sure you guys are safe.”

"Harry holds his gaze for a moment before he turns to the others and yells, "dibs on Shotgun!"

He runs to the front seat with Niall and Liam running after him.

"Are we serious about no jobs this week, Lou?" Zayn says, walking up behind him.

"No jobs." He confirms, but Zayn gives him the look he gives Niall when the other boy takes things from his pockets unnoticed, "Okay, fine. No jobs for you guys.”

Zayn gives him a look before he nods his head for Louis to elaborate.

"There is this man down in Brooklyn who owns one of the best banks in New England, and his name is Botsch. The only reason it’s doing so well is because he keeps about half of the people’s money as interest. The people don’t notice because he keeps their bank statements normal up until they go bankrupt. "

"And how do you plan on giving the money back once you take down his business?" Zayn crosses his arms.

"I said I’d take him down, Z, not become Robin Hood." Louis snaps.

"Robin Hood stole from the rich, so basically you’re already Robin Hood."

Louis looks unimpressed.

"Look, I just don’t want to see you get hurt. If you get hurt we all do, especiallyHarry.”

"We’ve taken down bigger things than a bank for the rich and famous, Zayn." He turns and walks to the driver side of the car, but he’s stopped before he gets in.

"Not by yourself, though." Zayn says into his ear.

The warmness of Zayn’s breath doesn’t leave the back of his neck until they’re an hour outside Malone.

It’s about midnight when Louis looks around to see everyone asleep. Harry has his head leaned up against the window, a patch of fog forming on every exhale from his open mouth. He looks in the rear-view mirror to see Zayn and Liam laying on top of each other in the middle row of seats, and Niall spread across the last row of seats in the back.

They took the back roads out of Malone instead of taking the interstates to make it feel more like a road trip, so Louis hasn’t seen another car for the past 50 miles. He sees a sign that says O’Malley’s Bed & Breakfast and thinks, Sure,what the hell?

He follows the instructions on the bottom of the sign and it leads him up a winding road with trees leaning over. The bumpy road wakes Harry, who moves at a slow pace before he’s fully awake and looking around.

"Wha’s happenin’, Lou?" He says in a slow drawl.

"I saw a sign a couple miles back that said there was a bed and breakfast. I just thought I’d stop for the night,’s all. ‘M gettin’ kind of tired, watching you lot sleep."

Harry just nods and scoots over so his head is on Louis’ shoulder. It’s another 10 or so minutes before they pull up in front of a huge white house. Louis parks the car in front and turns to face Harry.

"I’ll go in and sort everything out while you wake the boys, okay?" Harry nods. "Good, lad." he kisses his forehead and goes to walk up to the house.

There is a sign that informs him that the door is unlocked and to ‘just walk right on in’, so he does just that. When he gets inside, he sees a woman with graying black hair reading behind a desk way too big for her. She looks up, gives him a warm smile, and puts her book down.

"Hello, sweetie," She says in voice from the Deep South. Maybe Mississippi, Louis thinks to himself, "Welcome to O’Malley’s, how can I help you?" she smiles.

"I’m on a trip with me and my brothers," He slips into an accent that isn’t his, one less thing to trace back to him, he thinks maybe it’s a subtle Georgian accent and he smiles when the woman’s eyes light up at the sound of it, "and I’m just so tired. We need a place to stay for the night, if it ain’t any trouble, ma’am."

"Wouldn’t have a bed and breakfast if it were, dear." She laughs, "How many rooms?"

"Just one," He says, "Preferably with 2 bed if ya’ have one."

"I’ve got one at the top of the stairs," She starts to dig around the desk and smiles when she finds what she’s looking for, "It’s got 2 beds and a couch." She pulls out a book and turns it to him.

"That’d be perfect," He smiles.

"Alright, well I just need you to sign here and I’ll collect you money. It’d be about 40 dollars for a night plus a free breakfast."

Louis signs the book with some random name and digs in his pocket for his wallet. The woman turns to the board full of keys behind her and grabs a key off one of the shelves.

"Here you are, honey. Do you need any help with your bags?"

"Oh, no," He declines, "We can do it. Thank you for the room, though."

"You’re very welcome. I’m gonna head on up to bed after I lock up. I’ll see you in the morning Mr.-" She stops to look down at the name he scrawled in the guest book, "Mr. Fairchild."

Louis gives her a smile before walking back out to their car. He sees the boys standing around talking and walks up behind Harry. He brings him to his chest and exhales into his shoulder.

"God, I’m tired," He says in his normal voice, "Alright ,boys, I got us a room at the top floor and the owner thinks we’re from the south."

"Aw, Lou, why can’t we ever be from the west?" Niall moans.

“‘cause you’re west coast accent sucks, Ni.” Zayn says from where his head is resting on Niall’s shoulder, eyes still closed. Niall just sags his shoulders and curls his arm around Zayn’s waist.

"Still wanna do a western accent," He mumbles before he makes his way to the back of the car to get his and Zayn’s bags.

Liam goes to grab his bag and Louis’ and Louis grabs Harry’s bag, before shutting the door and locking it.

When they get inside the owner isn’t at the desk anymore, so they just walk up to the room. After Louis pushes the door open, they all walk in and collapse onto any surface that is soft and bed like. They’re all in states of something that resembles a bed time routine and before Louis knows it, the lights are out and he’s fast asleep, tucked under Harry’s arm.

There is loud knocking from the door that greats Louis awake the next morning. He sits up and looks around to see everyone still asleep. He looks down and sees Harry cuddle into his abandoned pillow at the loss of Louis’ warmth. Louis cards his hands through Harry’s hair, but is interrupted by knocking. He sighs, and gets up to answer the door.

"Hello!" a girl about a few years younger than Harry says, "I’m Tammy!"

 ”Uh,” She is excessively too loud for Louis to comprehend what she’s saying at, he looks over to the clock on the wall, 8:07 AM, “Hi?”

"I was just coming up to tell you that breakfast is ready." She smiles.

"Oh! Right, yes." He says backing away from the door, "Boys," He turns to face the two beds, "Wake up, it’s breakfast time." He walks over to Liam who is lying on the couch, "Li, help me get the boys up."

Liam stretches and makes a few sounds that sound close to an engine starting and says, “Aw, Lou, come on,” He moans, sitting up anyways, “Why do I gotta do it?”

"Because, love, you are my favorite."

"That’s a lie," Liam says, going to shake Zayn and Niall awake.

Someone at the door clears their throat, making Louis and Liam stop. Louis had forgotten she was even there.

Tammy has a pinched expression on her face when the two boys turn to face her, “Uh, yeah.” She says looking at Zayn and Niall who are curled around each other, “Breakfast is downstairs in the dining room.” She clips before turning on her heels and walking down the hall.

"That was weird."

"Yeah," Louis agrees, "Shut the door so other guests don’t get an eye full."

"They wouldn’t get an eye full if Harry slept in clothes like a normal person." Liam tuts, but shuts the door anyway.

"Yeah, yeah." Louis mumbles.

After everyone is up and decent, they make their way down the stairs to the dining room. It’s pretty empty by the time they get there, save for a few other late risers, so they make their way to the bar of food and help themselves. They choose a table near a big window and get to eating.

"Wow," Niall moans, "this is a mighty fine breakfast, right Z?" He says turning to Zayn.

The boy in question just nods his head, and gives a closed mouth smile around a mouth full of fruit.

"Yeah, Lou," Harry leans over to steal a piece of bacon off Louis’ plate, "You picked a nice place."

"Only the best for my boys," He tries to deadpan, but it comes out more fond than anything.

There are a series of groans around the table before they are interrupted by cough. Louis looks up to see the woman who gave him their room.

"Good mornin’," He smiles, talking in the accent he used the night before.

"I thought you said you were traveling with your brothers," her eyes snap over to Zayn, making him flinch, "these them?"

"In everythin’ but blood, ma’am," Niall pipes, also in his best southern accent. He slips his arm around Zayn’s shoulder protectively.

She’s looking at Zayn with something close to disgust before she turns to Louis and smiles. “Well, I’ll let you get to it.”

"Is there something wrong?" Harry says before Louis can get a word out.

Louis looks over to see Harry fuming, and he knows exactly why. Harry has never been good with people who treat zayn differently. He’s always the one to stick up for him first, and no one ever acts the same once he’s said something. Ever since they first met, Harry has been there put people in their place for him. He sets his fork down and turns so he’s facing the woman and giving her his full attention.

Harry raises his eyebrows as if to repeat himself.

"I just don’t like having people like him in my home,’s all." She turns her nose up at the end.

"People like what?" Harry growls, "Tan?"

"Leave it, H," Zayn says, "I’m sorry for the inconvenience, ma’am." He says to the owner, "We’ll finish our breakfast ‘nd be on our way."

"Check out is now." She snaps, disregarding Zayn.

Zayn sighs and nods, “Come on, love,” He says to Niall, “Let’s go load the car.”

Niall nods," ‘course, Z”,and follows Zayn out the room, but not before accidently knocking into the woman. She glares at him, but he tips his head in apology and leaves.

"Do you treat all your guests like that?" Harry yells, causing the few patrons who are still in the room to stare.

"I normally don’t let people like that in.” She says calmly and turns to walk away.

"Like what!" and Louis has to step in because Harry has a plate in his hand and Louis knows from experience that it will go flying soon.

He’s back in his normal dialect now, “Babe, come on, it’s not worth-“

"Don’t you dare say it isn’t worth it, Louis."

Louis backs up at that and nods. He looks at Liam for help, but he’s gone, probably to go help Zayn and Niall.

"Son, I’m gonna have t’ ask y’all to leave."

Harry sets the plate down and storms out of the room, but not before tipping the table full of silverware and glasses over. He yells a “put it on my tab” over his shoulder and slams the door behind him. Everyone in the room with half a mind knows he won’t be paying for that.

Louis looks at the woman and shrugs, then at the mess and just walks over it to get outside. Once he’s outside he sees Harry walk up to Zayn and pull him into a fierce hug. As he gets closer, he can hear Harry saying something into Zayn’s ear, but he doesn’t listen; it isn’t his place. He sighs and walks over to Niall.

"We all set?" He asks him.

"Yep," He smiles, "all ready for day two of this road trip adventure?"

Louis side eyes him, “You seem awful chipper after that scene that happened in there.”

"Oh," Niall frowns, but smiles right after, "That lady was a bitch," He laughs, "So I took her keys off here when I bumped into ‘er, and had Liam clean out the register and her safe behind the desk. No one treats Zayn like that, ever, but we should probably leave, like, now probably."

“‘atta boy,” He brings him into a hug, “What would we do without you and your amazing skills?”

Niall pushes him off and laughs, “I’m driving, by the way. I haven’t driven this car since our last trip to Chicago, and I miss her.” He says patting the hood.

"Oh alright, I guess I could let you drive the rest of the way. But," He holds up a finger, "If you get us lost I will be very angry."

Niall smiles, “what are you gonna do? Shoot me?” He turns to open the door, “As if.”

Louis smiles and climbs into the back of the car. He’s soon joined by Harry, Liam taking the middle row, who rests his head in Louis’ lap.

"Hiya, baby." Louis smiles at him and starts combing his fingers through his hair.

Harry’s quiet for a while before he speaks up.

"I’m sorry about breakfast," He begins, "I didn’t mean to snap at you."

"Don’t apologize. She was rude and it was uncalled for. I’m sorry I put us in that situation."

"You don’t really think this is your fault, do ya Lou?"

"Nah," Louis smiles, "I’m just sorry that it happened."

"I’m sorry that I couldn’t break more things." He laughs.

Louis pushes his head, but brings it right back to where it was and sighs, “Get some sleep, babe. Long time ‘til we get there.”

"Okay, Lou, Love you."

"Love you too, H."

When Harry wakes up, the sun is high in the sky and the car is coming to a stop.

"Wha’s happenin’?" He slurs.

"We’re just filling the car up. You can lie back down if you want, love." Louis explains, patting his hair.

"No, I wanna get something to drink." He scratches his belly and sits up to see more of where they are.

It looks like a family owned gas station with a small store connected. He leans up to peck Louis on the lips and crawls over the middle seat- over a very grumpy Liam- to get out.

"Harry, wait!" Niall scrambles out after him, "I want some Oreos and some pop. Zayn wants some Lifesavers too."

"I want some Milk Duds!" Liam yells.

"Of course you do," Harry answers Niall, "and of course Li, how could I ever forget?" He yells back to Liam.

They walk into the store and nod to the man behind the counter. The store is a lot smaller that Harry though it was, but it looks like it gets plenty of business.

"I’ll get the candy you get the drinks?" Harry suggests.

"Yeah, what do’ya want?"

"Get me a water and get Lou some Tang."

"God, that drink is shit." Niall mumbles as he walks off.

Harry just shakes his head and turns back to the candy. He grabs Liam his Milk Duds and Zayn’s Lifesavers. It takes him a minute to find the Oreos, but they’re hidden behind the Snickers. Before he leaves the isle to join Niall up at the register, he grabs Louis a pack of Cherry Slices.

"Man, you are so whipped." Niall laughs when he gets to him.

"I’m pretty sure that I didn’t hear Zayn ask for Lifesavers, Ni."

Niall’s face turns red and he faces the man behind the counter, “Uh, this is all.”

Harry laughs and turns to face the man, but a poster behind him catches his sight and he freezes. Behind the man is a newspaper clipping.

One Direction strikes again!

The gang of 5 so-called “brothers” takes down local bar and fatally wound one of the midnight usuals!

Eyewitness says that these kids “are a force to be reckoned with! I ain’t never seen anything like it! They’re just kids! How do they cause so much damage to one place?”

Below is the only know pictures of the boys, we have no knowledge as to their names or whereabouts, but we do know they reside in upstate New York…

Harry skips the rest and looks below the article at a messy drawing of him and the others, which isn’t so far off from how they actually look. He turns his attention back to the man and Niall to see him just finish up adding up the total.

He leans down and with years of practice, whispers quietly so only Niall can hear, “We have to leave, now.” and makes it look like he just turned his head, but he knew Niall heard. After years and years of doing what they do, they have learned not to question when one of them says it’s time to go.

Niall pulls out a couple bills and with a tip of his head says, “Thank you.”

Harry grabs his hand and leads him out the door to the car. When he gets there, he pushes Niall in to the driver seat and jumps into the back.

"Burn rubber, Ni."

"So is anyone gonna tell me what happened back there?" Louis says after they have been driving for a few miles.

"There was a newspaper article behind the cashier," Harry explains while handing out what they bought. Louis gives him a small smile when he sees his favorite candy, "And it was about us.”

"What do you mean?" Zayn asks around a mouth full of candy.

"It was talking about what we did at Quincy’s bar, and it had drawings of our faces underneath!"

"No way?" Liam says, "Were they accurate?"

"A little, but the article also said they didn’t know our names or where we were. I think we’re safe for now." He leans into Louis, "I’m just glad we’re taking the week off, maybe it will die down."

Louis fights the feeling of tensing up.

"Yeah," He mumbles into Harry’s hair, "I’m sure it will be yesterday’s news by tomorrow."

They drive until the sun starts to set before Niall complains about how hungry he is.

"Look, all I’m saying is that there really should be more places to get food in Vermont." He says as he drives, "Do the people here just not eat?"

"We’re just in a dead part of town, babes." Zayn says from the passenger seat.

"Just hurry up and find a place, Ni," Liam moans, "I’m hungry and I have to take a piss."

"What do you think I’m doing?" Niall yells as he throws his hands in the air.

Louis looks down to see Harry fast asleep in his lap and smiles. Harry never lasts long if he’s in a moving vehicle for longer than an hour, this being no exception.

"Hey!" Liam points, "There is a sign that says there’s a diner at the next pull off!"

"don’t have a cow, Li," Louis laughs.

"Just wake your boy up so we can eat." Liam says fondly.

Louis chuckles and looks at Harry, “Babe,” He shakes his shoulder, “Niall found us a place to have dinner.”

Harry grunts and hides his face in Louis’ hip.

"Aw, come on Harry," Louis yells," food!" and shakes Harry a little harder.

" ‘M tired."

"I know, but you can go right back to sleep after, okay?" He gets Harry to sit up and he has to hold back a laugh when Harry smacks his lips together like a child. He’s fully awake by the time they get to the diner.

It’s a small little place with big windows and a nice sign that reads “Mel’s diner: home of the best burgers in Vermont!”

"Why are we in Vermont? I thought we were going to Coney Island?" Harry asks as he climbs out of the car.

"The road we’re on takes us through Vermont and Massachusetts and back down to Queens where our hotel is," Louis explains, "It’s so this feels more like a road trip."

"You thought of everything didn’t you?" He smiles.

"I wanted to make sure you and the boys had a nice time, s’all." He puts his arm around Harry’s waist and leads him into the diner. He chuckles as he sees Liam run of towards the bathroom.

"It’s perfect, Louis, Really." Harry says, bringing his attention back.

Louis’ face heats up as he takes a seat in the round booth already occupied by the others. He scoots in next to Zayn and pulls Harry right up into his side.

"I’m going to order their biggest burger." Liam says as he scoots in next to Niall. He snatches Niall’s menu out of his hands and looks through it. Niall sticks his tongue out and leans into Zayn’s space to share his menu.

"A burger sounds so good right now," Niall practically moans, "I’m going to order, like, 3."

"You’d thing they hadn’t had breakfast this morning, or ever for that matter." Zayn mumbles under his breath causing Harry to snort.

"Heard that, Z." Niall bumps his shoulder.

"You were meant too." Zayn smiles and bumps him back.

After that, a waitress comes to take their orders then leaves them until their food is ready. Harry gets more comfortable in Louis’ side and sighs.

"I really am glad we’re doing this, Lou. I’ve needed a break for a while." Harry says into his neck.

Louis’ gut twists with something that he tries not to think about as he gives Harry a tight lipped smile and a tug on a rouge curl.

They decide to drive through the night and no one comments on why they have made that decision.