Louis grins and hands the customer his coffee, all his pointy teeth out on display. “Enjoy your day, love. Come again,” he calls, waving a hand as the customer exits the café. He enjoys his job, practically adores it. He meets new people every day, and some of them have even stayed and continue to make recurring appearances. It’s nice to meet new people every day and make them laugh; Louis loves to make people laugh. And to make money from it? He’s perfectly happy here. He has made friends here. Not to mention that he also works with his boyfriend and very best friend, Zayn Malik. Speaking of, the lad was sending him a toothy smile at the moment while he wiped down a table that had just been used. Louis nodded at him and shot him a sweet, simple smile in return, feeling Zayn’s concerned eyes on him as he turns away. He likes his relationship with Zayn. It was easy and simple; they never fought, only had minor disagreements. And they had a restaurant that they always went to for dinner every Thursday, and their orders were known by heart; Stevie’s Shack, it was called. They were happy. He was happy. At least that’s what he told himself when he woke up in the middle of the night, tears sticking to his eyelashes and cheeks while his body curled in on itself. He would settle for this, he would have to. He was twenty-six now and all of his friends from college had already married. He needed to settle down. He needed to have a nice, blonde-lady-next-door (well, in this case, man) type husband and have three children and ride off into the sunset. And that’s what Zayn was. Love wasn’t like how they described it in movies, like c’mon. Did it even exist, that kind? He knew the love for his mother and dear sisters was definitely real, that kind he felt to his very core every time one of their beloved faces lit up in their usual smiles, or when one of the twins would ask to practice makeup on him. He knew that love was genuine, magical even. But true love? He scoffed. Nope. There was just a settling kind of love. No such thing he thought to himself as he made another coffee for one of his usual customers. Pumpkin spice latte. The pumpkin smell wafted through the air and into his nose, piercing him with the scent. He inhaled deeply, mouth watering slightly. Man, he hadn’t had lunch today. He hadn’t had the appetite lately, really. He was too distraught, his thoughts of Is this all I will ever get? Is this enough? Will I really be able to settle for this? were causing him to get very little sleep. And more importantly, they were causing his and Zayn’s relationship trouble. Zayn had noticed that there was something off (he always does, the psychic), but he didn’t push Louis to spill. He was such a good guy, that Zayn. And Louis knew that Zayn was genuinely in love with him, had been since primary school. That’s why he felt so guilty about the situation; he didn’t want to break his best friend’s heart, he wanted to end the relationship in the most painless way possible. But of course, that was easier said than done. He sighed and put on a barely there smile, his teeth hidden behind his lips before muttering an enjoy your day under his breath as he handed over the coffee. He scratched his scruffy stubble, pushing his fringe across his forehead before strolling over to the café door and outside to the fresh, cool London air. He honestly loved London. He loved the rainy weather and cold, smoggy mornings. It always managed to wrap his mind in a state of calm and seep to his very bones, soothing them with its almost wet coldness. Louis grabbed a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it, the smoke immediately alleviating the stress he was cocooned in. Nasty habit, this was, but hell if it didn’t make him feel good. He took another hit and sat down on the pavement, watching the bikers and cars race by before him mere feet away. He wished he could just stand in the bed of a moving truck and scream his sorrows out. Excitement was a temptress; he couldn’t help but long for it; but excitement and security were usually never hand in hand. I’m a fucking walking cliché. He was grateful for it all, yes, but. He couldn’t help but long for something else…
“Hey, can I borrow a smoke?” A voice called out from his right, pulling him out of his self-pitying thoughts. He looked over to see long, long legs that stretched up into an even longer torso. His eyes traveled up the stranger’s body to his face; and oh what a face it was. Dimples were carved into the cheeks of this stranger and he had these eyes. His eyes. They were a forest but they also had hints of honeysuckles and golden flowers. What was this? The eyes had arched, pretty brown eyebrows above them (since when were eyebrows pretty?) with pink, pink lips below. His lips were the perfect combination of plump but not too plump, just the right bubblegum-like amount. The gorgeous face was framed by bouncing, boisterous chocolate curls that were held back only slightly with a hairband. Oh fuck. This boy was gorgeous. Do people like this even exist? Is he dreaming? And then he remembers the pretty boy asked him a question. He shakes himself out of the episode, mentally scolding himself before reaching into his pack and handing the boy a cigarette, ignoring the way his fingertips tingle when they meet his. Pull yourself together, Tommo, you don’t even know the bloke.
“Thanks, mate, left mine in m’ car,” The stranger says, putting the stick between his lips before using Louis’ lighter to set it aflame. He inhales briefly before pushing the smoke out of his lungs, his eyes looking as if they’re searching for something in the cars and bikes passing. “What’s your name?”
Louis. He remembered him, of course he did. How could he forget the bloke that helped him realize he was gay while simultaneously being his first love? Back in primary school, Louis was the riot. He was always the center of attention, was always the one cracking jokes. He took control of every situation easily, a cheeky smile paired with each and every joke. How Louis managed to pack that much energy and control in such a tiny body was beyond him, and Harry admired him for it. Harry, on the other hand, was the shy boy that sat to the side and admired. And admired some more.
He distinctly remembers a time where he was sat beneath a tree at recess, flowers tucked into his curls and sleeves. As a child, Harry loved flowers. Loved making crowns and bracelets and necklaces with them, he did. To be quite honest, he still likes it to this day. Something about the natural smell and look of them has always reeled Harry in. Baby Harry was unaware of his surroundings, his absent-mindedness keeping him hostage, per usual. His hands were distracted with a recent craft: another flower crown amongst many others. He remembers looking up at the flowers tucked into the soil in search of more for his crown, and finding feet woven into the bed of flowers. He followed the feet and he found legs, a torso, two hands and arms, and finally a neck and face painted onto a tiny head. And what a pretty face it was, he remembers himself thinking. This small boy had disheveled hair that strangely could be mistaken for caramel, blueblueblue eyes that sat just beneath eyebrows, and a smile perched just below. Crow’s feet marked the spaces at the corners of his eyes. The color of his skin was golden, as if he was best friends with the sun. His teeth were pointy and white and were kept warm by a pair of thin lips. If Harry were to ever define breathtaking, he would refer to that moment in time. He remembers his lungs filling with emotion, feeling as if his limbs were about to melt away into a pile of honey. And he also remembers wishing that if his body were to melt away, that maybe his eyes could stay so that he could continue to look upon this sight. He felt himself smiling at Caramel Boy, his hands nervously fumbling with flowers.
“I’m Louis,” The boy introduces, a small hand reaching towards his own. He immediately reaches out and shakes Louis’ hand, remembering how he had checked to make sure his arm hadn’t melted away into sugary sweetness. “I saw that you were making flower crowns over here and I thought maybe I could make some, too? I mean, they look so pretty on you, and I was hoping they would look as pretty on me,” Baby Harry gapes for a moment before his dimples make another appearance, his tongue trying it’s hardest to curl around indistinguishable sounds and release them into comprehensible ones.
“Hi Louis.” He rumbles, dragging out the hi. “My name is Harry, and yes! Of course you can make some. Here, I’ll teach you,” Harry pats the spot beside him and moves his recently picked flowers, Louis joining him in the grass soon after. “All you have to do is pick some of these flowers, tie them together by the stems, and you have yourself a crown.” Louis nods and moves to begin picking flowers, but Harry stops him. “Oh, you can just use mine. If that’s okay. I picked good ones,”
“Oh, that’s fine. Thank you so much, I don’t mean to be using all of your flowers,”
“There’s plenty of more flowers, Lou,” He giggles, reaching out to pat Louis’ arm. Louis grins at him. He withdraws and picks up a bundle of flowers and places them in Louis’ lap. “You just take a pair of flowers – here grab some,” Louis complies, picking a peach and yellow flower. “And then you take the two stems and start making a knot with them. Yeah, like that.” Louis’ brow is furrowed and his lips are pursed. Baby Harry thinks it’s endearing. “And there you have it! Now you tie the end of one stem under the head of the flower, and do that until you have a whole flower crown,” He tells Louis, his own hands deftly working on the new crown he had started.
“This is so fun, Haz, thanks for teaching me,” Louis replies, leaning over and pressing a kiss to Harry’s cheek. Harry fumbles with his crown-making and feels his face get all hot. Louis just kissed me! On my cheek! He looks down at his feet and tries to hide a smile behind his lips, failing miserably. “Y-You’re welcome,” he mutters, his insides feeling as if they’ve turned into butterflies. He has no organs, no blood or bones, just butterflies…
So if he asks Louis for a cigarette just so that he can speak to him again, who is going to blame him? Seeing Louis again like coming up for a breath of fresh air after being underwater for so long that your lungs begin knocking against your ribcage requesting oxygen; it was like waking up to the sun after a life lived with no warmth or sunshine. It was more refreshing than any sip of water he had ever had after a long, hard run.
Louis looks up at him with the same blue eyes he remembers, cigarette perched on those thin lips. His face resembles confusion. “I’m Louis. Have I met you before?” Louis puffs out a breath of smoke and leans against the café window, no doubt that he is leaving prints against the glass. Harry feels a smile grace his lips as he recalls their first meeting as children.
“No, I don’t believe we’ve met. I would’ve known if we had,” He replies with ease, the usual charm laced into his tone. Louis cocks an eyebrow at him and laughs quietly, fingers twisting together in his lap. So he still does that? Guess he never rid himself of that nervous habit.
“Cheeky, I like it,” Louis replies, stubbing out the cigarette on the bottom of his shoe. He stands and makes his way over to Harry and nudges him with his shoulder. “Y’know, mate, I have plenty of coffee in here if you want some,” Harry feels the familiar warmth fill the pit of his stomach, the usual effect Louis has on him. He still has the same effect on me, I see. Not much has changed. Harry gives him a long look, studying the stubble that now dusts his chin. His eyes, his nose. His cute button nose. And his lips. He wants to kiss them.
“Sure, that’s cool,” Harry prides himself on not being caught staring as he follows Louis into the café. It smells of coffee, of course. The walls are a light yellow color, and there are dark brown, silky curtains framing the windows with matching brown, worn-out chairs. The place is sprinkled with candles and flowers, each pastel table having its generous donation of each of them. It feels homey, if Harry were to describe the place.
“What would you like?” Louis calls to him in the midst of smoky thoughts. Louis is standing behind the counter with his apron on, sweater too long and hanging over his hands. And oh, he’s practically a kitten. Harry smiles fondly at him as he watches Louis push his fringe away from his face with dainty fingers.
“Um, I never really go to places like this, to be honest. Could you just give me something tastey?” He asks nervously, afraid of looking like a bumbling idiot. He hopes to have Louis’ number by the end of this. He wants this boy, has for the longest time. All the kinds of wants. Harry wants to play with that favorite caramel hair of his and kiss his nose. He wants to lay by the fireplace with him and read him his poetry, to learn the valleys of Louis’ skin and call them home. He wants to memorize each of Louis’ likes and dislikes, learn his entire story and what Harry has missed out on since their last meeting, and then he’ll write a book about it. He wants this boy more than anything he’s ever wanted. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, the want. He had been thinking about Louis since their separation, so meeting him now seemed like some sort of dream. Louis simply smirked amusedly in response, nodding at his request.
“Here, I’ll give you my favorite. It isn’t on the menu, so feel special, Curly,” Was Louis flirting with him? Harry beamed at the response and tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. The cookies out for display on the counter looked amazing. And with that, an idea rained on him.
“Why don’t you make yourself one of those secret coffees of yours and come and help me eat these cookies?” Harry grabs one of each flavor, peeking up at Louis as he manages to balance them in each of his large hands, which Louis seems to take notice of. He seems to realize that he is staring at Harry’s hands and he looks up at him with a slightly pinker expression.
“I’m working, but I guess I can. Just don’t tell anyone,” Louis whispers, eyes twinkling with mischief as he adds whipped cream to Harry’s Special Coffee. “Let me make mine and I’ll be there in a sec,”
“Okay, Lou,” The nickname slips out easily, the familiarity of it making him feel at home. Louis’ brows furrow in confusion before he seems to shrug to himself. Harry blushes and stumbles over to a table, very much resembling a baby deer. Why had he just called Louis that? They just met, for Christ’s sake! Well, not technically, but. To Louis they just met. Harry frowns and begins picking at a cookie, the chocolate chips melting on his tongue. Why didn’t Louis remember him?
This boy seemed so familiar. He swears he has met him before. When he was in uni maybe? Or in high school? Drama club? Louis can’t seem to pinpoint the source of the sudden Déjà vu, but he decides to dismiss it from his mind and finish off his coffee with whipped cream. He then makes his way over to Harry, who is munching on his cookies very chipmunk-like. Why did I get so lucky with this cutie? “Two Secret, Spectacular, Splendid, Kick Ass coffees made by yours truly,” He says, placing a mug in front of Harry and taking a seat opposite of him with the other mug. Harry tucks another curl behind his ear and picks up the mug, eyeing the coffee cautiously. Louis had never been the best with food and the like.
“That’s a long name. You should think of changing it,” Harry says playfully, grin wide and green eyes twinkling. Louis thinks he might just die on the spot. Whose eyes twinkle like that? Harry can’t possibly be real.
“Actually, to inform you, I’ve been told the name fits the drink perfectly. And alliteration reels the customers in. Trust me, I’m a veteran barista,” He replies in the same playful manner, fluttering his eyelashes just the right amount as he places a hand over his heart humbly. Harry intrigued him. He seemed like a perfectly innocent boy, at least that is what his curls and smile tell everyone; but Louis wants to know what is beneath that. What’s his favorite food in the morning? His favorite drink on Christmas Day? Siblings, if any? It’s a little much to want at this stage, but Louis has a feeling about him. A good, warm feeling that fills his veins with comforting warmth.
Harry scoffs and bites back a smile as he takes an adventurous sip of the drink. And. It’s actually good? Louis is regarding him smugly, a mug of his own pressed to his lips. “Louis, this is actually quite good. I was underestimating your skills with the coffee, but I never will again. You’ve impressed me,”
Louis is on the verge of replying when he feels a warm hand on his shoulder. He turns around, confused, and is met with the sight of Zayn. “Hey babe, who’s this?” Zayn looks at Harry briefly before pressing a kiss to the top of Louis’ head. Shit. How had he forgotten about Zayn? The things a pretty face can to do him. He’s pathetic, honestly. He resists the urge to shake off Zayn’s hand and tries to not think about the slightly disappointed look he is receiving from Harry at the moment.
“This is Harry. I made him my special, thought I’d sit down with him and drink a cup of it myself,” He takes another sip from his mug. Zayn nods and drags his eyes back to Harry.
“Well, I’m Zayn. Zayn Malik. That drink Louis makes is actually good. As for the rest of his abilities in the kitchen, he’s shite,” Zayn laughs fondly and squeezes Louis’ shoulder. Louis smiles weakly, quickly heating up with guilt from his obvious flirting with Harry. Before he makes any advances on any pretty boys, he needs to break up with Zayn. And honestly… It scares him. He won’t want to speak to him anymore; Louis will hurt his best mate. The mere thought of it makes Louis sick to his stomach and he fights to keep a smile. He feels Harry’s penetrating gaze on him as he stares at his coffee and avoids both his and Zayn’s eyes. Well, what the fuck do I do now? With a sigh, he abruptly stands from where he was sitting across from Harry and finally slinks his eyes over to him. And oh, this is just too much. He averts his gaze again and tries not to think about how this will soon turn out. Overwhelmed with guilt and guilty happiness and maybe a little too much sugary sweetness, he excuses himself and makes his way to the bathroom. What a fun train ride this is going to be…