Actions

Work Header

The Blackout

Chapter Text

Harry was a bad enough driver in good weather—willingly driving a passenger in the middle of a storm would be negligence deserving of the second degree. It was Liam who set out in his Lamborghini to pick up the Ultimate Supreme Pizza from Little Caesars which Harry so brilliantly ordered for carry-out in the dawn of a hurricane. And Liam did so solo, leaving Harry to tend to his boredom with a nosy streak of lurking with his phone in hand. He'll do this for some time until his feelings get hurt by a particularly unforgiving comment. And then he'll lurk some more with a deep frown like pressing into a bruise until he spoils his mood. Which seems to spark his appetite. So now Harry's just hungry, grumpy, and alone in his house, looking out the window into the storm like a woeful wife as he waits for Liam to pull into his driveway with the ultimate supreme dinner. And he’s taking too long, Harry acknowledges as he presses his nose against the glass. He almost regrets inviting him. But he almost regrets most things. The storm is getting worse. What he should be is worried.

England born and raised means Harry doesn’t know much about weather phenomenons beyond sunny days, rainy days, thunderstorms, and blizzards. With California being in a drought, his lack of weather insight didn’t seem to make a difference. It was always hot, always sunny. Rain was as exciting as it ever seemed to get for locals, and Harry was pleased to realize he was actually the expert in weather out of all of his new friends. At least, that’s how it seemed by the look on their faces when Harry told them stories about being trapped indoors by five-foot walls of snow and sprained ankles over black ice. When the news announced a category 3 cyclone coming over the California west coast, Harry only caught onto “rain showers and strong winds” and dismissed the significance of miles, categories and cycles under the El Niño’s influence. So yes, he called Liam—who is infinitely more ignorant to American west coast weather—to come over as his guest on the day the storm was set to roll in.

“The sky seems pretty clear. I don’t think it’ll be that bad. More like a drizzl—Huh? Yeah! Come on over, mate.”

Harry’s two hour old words seem to haunt him now as he watches the palm tree leaves blowing horizontally behind the foggy blur of heavy, dense rainfall. The sky flashes, and then comes a terrifying roar of thunder. Startled, he jerks his head back from the window, and wipes with the sleeve of his jumper the greasy smudge his nose left on the glass. Kind of big, he thinks somewhat bothered. Walking off to his sofa, Harry uses an umbrella he pulled from his closet as a cane. It’ll serve to escort Liam through the rain, but hopefully amuse him on account of the peculiar pattern on the nylon parasol. He just might be as excited for the reaction as he is for the pizza. Just might be. Might. Because his stomach just gave a growl.

Harry sits on the sofa and slumps into the cushion with a sigh, feeling slobbish. He's only ever starving with belly growls and a foul mood when it comes to junk food. If his pilates buddies ever found out... "I honestly just... I can't stomach junk food. I feel so sluggish. It's disgusting." A fluffed up lie or two, or twenty. It's not a cheating day if you do it every day. Replacing whole milk for fat free milk in mac 'n cheese doesn't count as a healthy choice if you eat the whole box. With how often he jogs, boxes, lifts, spin-cycle's, yoga's and pilates's Harry should look like a Bowflex beast by now. But he's hard muscle with an abiding baby-fat coating. Big and squishy with a resurrecting belly. Old habits don't just die hard, they rise from the dead with every kill shot. He was a spoiled little boy and those are the VIP's of the kitchen. Mummy's little helpers.

Liam spoils him just as much. No appearances to keep up when he's around. And while Liam's own, entirely more disciplined, efforts to stay in shape prompt him to tease and act disapproving, if Harry ever got to taking serious offense Liam would take it all back and spoil him to a higher degree in his guilt. Which, sometimes, doesn't come as much of a surprise as Harry pretends it does. "Ultimate Supreme Pizza, Harry? Wow, really. Okay." One disheartened exit from the room later and now Harry doesn't have to drive anxiously through a storm— which was scary enough when he thought it was only average rainfall. He thinks, in all seriousness, he would've died driving in a hurricane. And he hopes, just as seriously, that a Lamborghini can survive through it.

But he hopes no longer when he hears the desperate honk of Liam's car as it pulls into his driveway. Thunder claps again, the honking gets closer. And in the heat of the moment Harry pops open the umbrella with a jump from the couch and races to the front door, the open umbrella knocking into walls and furniture until he's outside. No fucking shoes, he realizes too late when his socks splash into ankle-deep water puddles. But Harry runs quickly over to Liam anyway, who's just now opening the car door. It's so windy the rain blows against his side. So much rain it sounds like rocks are smacking against the top of the umbrella. And the sun is halfway setting, he's shocked to realize. But as Liam gets out of his car, running over to him with his hoodie pulled over his head, Harry realizes something awful. Truly awful. But the panic of trying to make it inside distracts him. Their bodies stay squished together under the umbrella as they race to the front door. Such a long way, Harry realizes.

When they make it inside, the first thing Liam does is yell. Very dynamically. "Ah! Woah. Wo-ho-ho-hoah! Ohhh, Jesus Christ. Jesus! Fucking hell! HA!" He yanks off his hoodie off his head and bends over, head down, hands on his knees.

Harry gets right to it. "Liam, where's the pizza?" he frowns as he shakes off the water from the umbrella over the doormat. Liam got out of the car empty handed. And while Harry was optimistic enough to believe he forgot it in the car, now he isn't so sure.

"Oh Jesus fuck the pizza!" Liam stands up straight and looks at Harry as he points to the door. Harry's taken aback, standing a little straighter as he frowns. "There's a fucking hurricane out there! Thank you for ordering fucking carry-out!"

"Wh—" he huffs, flying right past Liam's indignation. "You didn't get the pizza?"

Liam widens his eyes, his thick eyebrows furrowed; offended. Can't keep from yelling, still. The post-survival rush kicks madly, boiling his outrage at Harry's dismissive demeanor. "My life flashed before my eyes! Do you not care?!"

"Stop yelling at me..."

"Fuck your pizza. You couldn't eat a salad this one time?"  

"You're a guest! I was trying to be nice." Lies. "I'll make a salad if it's what you want. Jesus." In what's become a nervous response, Harry continues twirling and shaking the umbrella as the conversation keeps its tension.

His attitude doesn't cut it for Liam. He bursts with protest he's been keeping to himself since he was driving in his car. Hands on the back of his head, voice lowered now. "I nearly died. The road was flooded and I thought I could drive over it, until my fucking lambo skid to the side completely horizontal. I was Tokyo drifting for 5 minutes across a muddy road and I got this close to falling into a ditch!"

"For God's sake I didn't know it would be that bad. I'm sorry."

"I almost died," Liam says that sternly, seriously as he nods his head a little and looks Harry in the eyes. "Literally, I almost fucking died." And he looks down at his trembling hands, "Look at that, I'm still shaking," like he can't believe it.

Harry has to look away, frowning a bit as guilt sinks over him. Liam really could have died out there. Wouldn't that be something? No. "Something" doesn't even come close. It's too heavy of a thought for Harry to ever take hold of, and it's bizarre that it would be trying to crawl up his leg so insistently. Deep down he resents Liam for forcing the thought onto him—if he wasn't feeling anxious thinking about Liam having died on the way to pick up a pizza only he, himself, really wanted anyway. Because Harry was stubborn, Harry got him into it. It manages to be terrifying, to the point where Harry's heart is beating louder in his ears than a drum. And he doesn't want it to. He just wanted pizza. Liam forgot the pizza. That's all this was supposed to be.

Harry just swallows, shaking off the already dry umbrella as he apologizes, "Liam, I didn't know the weather would get so bad. Alright? I-I'm sorry." Like desperately slamming an exit button, an abort button, a self-destruct button— that feeling of 'Get me the fuck out of here.' Water rising up to the throat; fire burning through a shut door. Harry rambles, turning his head up at Liam again, sounding more serene than he thought he would. "I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't... send you to die. Jesus. Alright? What do you want me to do now?"

Not serene enough to sell. "...Alright..." Liam says with a sigh, hands rubbing over his face. Because he isn't angry anymore once he catches that Harry might be getting upset. He couldn't be less angry. He drops his hands, revealing his now reddened face. Hands on his hips, he shrugs. Downplaying as he quietly summarizes, "It was scary, I turned back. Don't give me shit over a pizza." And he sighs again, like blowing off the last bit of steam. "That's all."

Jumping out the window of a burning building; "Look." Harry changes the subject as he shows Liam the umbrella. "I wanted to impress you."

The moment Liam turns his head to look, he bursts into a relieving laughing fit. "Oh now where did you get that?!”

An extra large KFC umbrella. White and red stripes, with the logo branded on each white section. "It came included with a bucket of fried chicken. It was free!" Harry grins, pleased when Liam walks over to inspect the umbrella. Liam pats his shoulder in a final consolation, a silent one— not wanting to bring back the previous subject. "I thought of you right away. But I forgot about it. But then I remembered today."

"How long have you had this?" Amazed, Liam flicks the nylon with a 'toop'.

"Like two years."

Liam snorts. "Wow. The opportunity finally presented itself. Is it for me?"

"No." Harry closes the umbrella, setting it in the corner next to the front door. While he's there, he takes off his wet socks. "Honestly, Liam, I swear to fucking God I didn’t think I was sending you out into a hurricane. I wouldn’t have if I’d known it would get so dangerous outside," Harry hears himself say in his own head— what he would promise Liam again if he hadn't shot the subject dead already. It bothers him that he's still thinking about it. He faces the wall, bent over, and says instead, "Kind of got wet, still. Didn't we? The rain was pretty crazy. No uh... match for the umbrella."

“That’s El Nino, innit? That thing that’s making all the weather crazy.”

“Yeah. I guess we’ll just wait it out here." The wet socks make a splat sound as they fall to the floor. "We’re stuck together! Just like old times, Liam!”

“Have you got Wifi?" Priorities. "Is it working, still?"

“Yeah. I'm using it," Harry motions to his laptop sitting on the kitchen counter, playing a three hour long jazz mix from Youtube that's only about one hour in.

“Oh, good.”

His wet feet pat on the hardwood floor as he walks towards the kitchen with Liam following beside him. “Yeah it’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

“Have there been hurricanes here before?” Liam is new to the neighborhood. This is the longest he's ever stayed in California. Ironically, he was looking to escape England's dreary, cold weather when he moved. He's paid visit to Harry's house before, but it looks like today will be the longest visit so far.

“I honestly haven’t sat through any. It just rains a little sometimes."

"Clearly it's... raining a lot."

 The kitchen is a little dark so Harry switches on the light. "But I honestly doubt we’ll get anything big this time. It hasn’t rained here in like, years supposedly. They always complain that the rain and storms weren't big enough. So maybe this storm won't last very long.” He takes a seat on one of the chairs lining the kitchen counter. Cushioned, cotton. After the highlights fiasco in London he had the stools in his L.A. home replaced.  He pauses for a moment, settling before appropriately announcing, "I’m hungry," expecting Liam to do something about it. 

“Haven't you got any frozen dinners or anything like that?”

“No."

Liam looks up to the ceiling, biting his bottom lip as he ponders. "Let's make a casserole," he says as he looks down to Harry again with the squint of his eyes for approval.

But he laughs, making a face. "Who makes a casserole in the middle of a hurricane?"

"Let's make a pie. A meat pie."

Harry laughs again, half expecting Liam to be joking.

But he isn't, and Liam quietly takes offence. "What, you don't like to cook now? You're always different with me. Suddenly you want pizza, suddenly you hate to cook. I can never win with you."

Harry giggles at how genuinely upset Liam is that he isn't impressing him successfully. "There's nothing to win, Liam. There's nothing to eat! That's the real issue at hand." He takes a moment to take in his appearance for the first time since he came back. A hoodie, beige which really suits his skin tone. The rain's given it a few dark spots around his chest and shoulders. His quiff is styled for once, so maybe he was out taking pictures. Harry himself has a light grey jumper, today. His long, curly hair fluffed fabulous from the humidity.

"Well, we have to cook th—" Thunder crashes in that very moment, cutting Liam off mid sentence. He turns to look out the kitchen window behind him excitedly with a yelp, as if the lightning shot through him. The sky is dark, but suddenly it flashes white. "Oh, it's coming!"

And the thunder does in a violent, angry, and sharp crash. So awful Harry still jumps in his seat even with foresight and the fingers in his ears.

Liam is impressed, chuckling as he looks to the ceiling as if to acknowledge the mighty storm. Somewhat over his near death experience, the storm serves to thrill him now as it suddenly dawns over him in a new light. Maybe educational. This reminds him of being a Boy Scout again, facing the (mild)dangers of nature and learning to tackle them. "This is crazy," he says. But maybe this reminds him of a disaster movie; Twister, The Day After Tomorrow, San Andreas. Which really shouldn't serve to thrill him. At all.

The way it is for Harry. Harry rests his elbows over the countertop, squishing his cheeks with his palms against his face as he frowns. "It's awful," he says in that deep voice.

"Has it been this bad before?"

"...Not really..." Harry admits disgruntled.

"The power's gonna go out."

"Wh— Why do you say that?" Harry widens his eyes frowns, snapping his head up at Liam with concern.

"I mean, I reckon," he shrugs. "What's the big deal if it does?"

"Well I can't cook in the fucking dark, Liam!" Harry whines, motioning to the pitch black view out the kitchen window. And at that he gets up off his chair and walks to the refrigerator.

He curses when he looks inside. His grocery shopping abilities haven't improved at all thanks to living off gourmet restaurant food. Harry's refrigerator is half empty, with only a handful of fruit and vegetables. Dozens of bottles and cartons of recommended antioxidant-rich, protein-packed, fiber-fueled super foods sit half-opened and expired, having failed the auditions for being so revolting the first time Harry had a taste. And he isn't in the mood for tomato basil pasta or salmon sauteed in a snow pea sauce— and he doesn't have the time to be. The power is definitely going out soon, the storm becoming noisier. And with an electric stove there's no hope of cooking anything once that happens.

Thunder comes crashing down another time and Harry's heart jumps up to his throat, coming down before another sudden thunderstrike makes the walls vibrate. "Fuck!" he closes the refrigerator door and leans his back against it, hair falling over his face as he hangs his head down.

"Crazy."

Harry lifts his head and rests it against the back of the refrigerator. His green eyes look up to the ceiling, brow furrowed. This is stressful. He thinks for a moment. The thought: "Liam, didn't the Boy Scouts teach you how to cook without electricity?"

"Yeah, but... that was after we learned how to make a fire," Liam giggles like Harry is just so silly for not knowing that. "Have some cereal or granola or something."

If only he had any. Liam's dismissive tone is making Harry feel like a desperate slob, aggravating him further. He drops his head down along with his tone to bitterly ask, "Aren't you hungry?" as he walks to the cabinets.

"Not really. I had a huge lunch just before I got here," he smacks his belly. ""It was Mexican food from one of those trucks. Ugh it was so good. Mate, two quesadillas with pork, tomatoes, lettuce, pineapple and these massive chunks of mozzarella cheese. And it came with one of those churros with like, some sort of jam? Or jelly. I'm not sure. The lady gave me a burrito to tr—"

Liam!!"

"Oops. Sorry." Liam apologizes for unintentionally enticing a starving Harry. He watches as he shuffles through his cabinet, angrily knocking around lone cans and bottles. Even throwing some around. “You know, maybe you have a deficiency if you're so hungry. And like, violent."

Harry narrows his eyes with flared nostrils, insulted. He bites his bottom lip, turning around slowly and quietly to prove a point, to disprove his alleged “violent” behavior. A desert dry comment dings in his head like a steamy microwave dinner, ready to lunge at Liam. Until something like an explosion cuts through the air, followed by a pop.

And then everything goes dark.

"There it goes."

Light flashes into the kitchen before thunder crashes down again, bringing a frustrated whine out of Harry as he desperately covers his ears. The rumble passes. The pleasant jingle of jazz playing from Harry's laptop is gone without wifi. Without thinking he walks over to close it, immediately regretting it once he realizes it was the only source of light in the kitchen. Now it's all pitch dark, hauntingly quiet.

"Sounded like an electrical post blew up. Right?" Liam says as he walks towards the window, though Harry can't tell. "Aw looks like whole town's gone dark."

The rain is so thick, so heavy— the sound is like the vibrating of a drum as it falls onto the roof of the house. Rain slapping against the windows. Harry is almost afraid to move; hunched over, hands over his ears, anticipating another crash. The wind is so fast it whistles through the air like a sharp breath through gritted teeth. Leaves rustling, bushes shaking. This is awful. Harry hasn't sat through anything like this in all his stay in California. Certainly never in the dark.

"Good thing you invited me." It's almost like Liam read his mind, and Harry can't help but laugh. "Otherwise you would've been left here in the dark by yourself. You big baby."

"I was just thinking that, I swear to God," Harry keeps his hands against his ears, looking up to see that he can only make out a spooky shadow of Liam moving in the dark. Not even the furniture, or the counter. It's like he's in an abyss. He looks down. Can barely see his feet, now cold against the chilly floorboard.

"Shall I hold you?"

"Fffuck!" Harry jumps when he hears Liam's voice right next to his ear, his arms coming around to hold him out of seemingly nowhere. "Oh my God..."

Liam laughs, arms around him as he apologizes, "Sorry. I'll have to stomp and make noise next time."

"Then you're like a poltergeist, no."

"Wait, are you scared?" Liam sounds genuinely surprised, and laughs as Harry turns and wraps his arms around him, face nuzzling into his neck. Liam wraps his arms back, rubbing up and down Harry's ribs as he holds him tight. Maybe more than he should.

"No." Harry might be lying, he doesn't know. But he's prepared to play the part if it'll squeeze a favor or two out of Liam, just in case he might need one. "Yes."

"You bloody baby. I'll bet you're lying."

Harry sighs because he really, really loves being in Liam's arms. He hasn't had a hug like this in a while. It's an honest little jump he gives when thunder crashes down, eyes shut tight. He didn't mean to cuddle closer, he'll promise. And he whines, childish just to make Liam chuckle. "I'm vulnerable..."

"A damsel in distress."

Harry lifts up his leg and tries to climb Liam like a tree, clumsily digging his feet into his thighs and his hands into his shoulders, whining some more. And Liam will want to show off his strength so he stays perfectly still, chuckling as if Harry isn't actually a lot heavier than he remembers. Harry's legs hook against around his waist, his arms tightly wrapped around his neck. "Save me..." he whimpers dramatically.

"Harry, I can't see."

Harry moves his head further to the side so it isn't in the way of Liam's vision.

"Oh, like that helps!"

And Harry snorts, his weight thumping on the floor as he hops off. He takes a look around the house, and he can actually see a little. Like his vision has adjusted. He reaches for Liam's hand until he's got a firm grasp. And he starts to walk, dragging Liam with him so he doesn't get lost. "Let's go to my room."

"Oh no."

Harry giggles, slapping whatever part of him he reaches behind him. "My phone's in my room. Idiot."

"Is it upstairs?"

"Yeah. Let go of my hand if you think you're gonna fall."

Chapter Text

Harry's phone was on 13% battery. Liam's was on 6%. Less than one minute into using the flashlight app to go up the stairs his phone died. Harry tried to be a little more efficient, using the lockscreen as a light to maneuver around his bedroom so he didn't trip over any shoes, water bottles or board games—Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and a One Direction edition of Monopoly, to be specific. He had planned on playing at least one with Liam today, before the storm and certainly before the blackout. So now they've been tending to their boredom in another way: gossiping. Nearly two hours in, on Harry's king sized mattress like a couple of tween girls. Harry on his back and Liam cross legged beside him. It's the darkness— it beckons confessions.

They rarely gossip about each other— the group. They all value their privacy too much to tell on each other. It's a thing to do with loyalty. Their business, their secrets, they take to their grave. Especially the worst ones. That comes subconsciously. Liam and Harry have found themselves talking about the likes of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner. Harry was entirely too eager to spill tea on the Kardashian family. At that point they went from giggly tweens to elderly widows sipping wine. Gasps and hands to the chest at the talk of money problems and infidelity. Liam was having a blast. He doesn't know enough people in the industry to get a hold of juicy gossip.

Harry, ever the social butterfly, attracts A-list confessions like a magnet what with that harmless disposition and cherub glow. Which is entirely true, he is harmless. But his mother could write a 900 page exposé on the music industry if she wanted to. And so could Niall, and even Louis. That kind of thing comes with trust—people Harry trusts. Trusts enough to reveal some of his ulterior passions. Because though he's gotten secrecy down to an artform, anyone who truly, deeply knows and understands Harry, is aware he's a relentless snoop by nature. Seven years old and attentively listening to his mother gossip with her friends about people he didn't know, using words he didn't even understand. And yet there he was, sitting quietly instead of leaving to play with friends. That harmless disposition sometimes comes as sheep's skin; all part of a clever ploy to strike gold. But the treasure is his to keep all to himself. A good half loyalty, another good half self-preservation. Because there is such a thing as retaliation against snitches. Harry loves a good scandal like he loves dramatic soap operas. It's all to satisfy his personal curiosity. He wouldn't dare bring drama his way by telling on anyone. He's still an expert in secret keeping. For the most part.

"But you can't tell anyone."

Liam snorts. "Who am I going to tell?"

"Juicy J, I don't know," Harry chuckles, hand reaching under his jumper to mindlessly rub over his belly.

"Yeah, who else..." Liam seems to jab at himself, always somewhat bummed by what he believes is irrelevancy. Really it's all been just a matter of never playing his cards in favor of domestic commitment.

"Oh, I know," Harry says somewhat devilishly, pausing to wait for Liam's reaction. Because a name popped into his head. A good one—for a lot of reasons.

"Who?"

He's surprised to see it hasn't occurred to him. "Really?"

"Who?" Liam insists, honestly unaware of this mystery celebrity friend in his inner circle. He sounds excited.

"You really... Liam." Harry chuckles. "No idea?"

"Tell me!"

And Harry teases as obnoxiously as he can, "Miss Cole~"

"Oh, Cheryl!" Liam laughs. "Oops."

"You forgot about her!"

"It slipped my mind for a moment.”

Harry's intrigued, promptly coming at him with an out of line comment to see what he does. "How could you forget about your mother." In the dark Liam can't see him smirk, cheeks dimpled as he holds back a chortle and wiggles on the mattress.

"Wh—?" The indignation seems to come personally. "She isn't even fourty!" Like he's defending his taste in women, and not Cheryl.

It intrigues Harry more. He instigates with another comment for the sake of a reaction, like poking a settled fire. “She has a rose tattoo on her ass. Now we can form a club: The English Roses.” That seems to come from a personal place, too, Harry realizes. His words a bit bitter, sour on his tongue. It isn't what he had in mind. Harry interlocks his fingers and places them on his belly, blinking up into the black ceiling. Liam hasn't said anything yet, he realizes a bit worriedly. He focuses in on the sound of the storm in a moment's distraction. It's all water and wind, now. The whole thing isn't so scary, at least for now. It's just enough storm to add atmosphere. In darkness, in a storm. Bringing up a special moment he shared with his best friend in reference to that best friend's girlfriend—whatever correlation could exist between the two. Harry thinks he might be jealous. He purses his lips.

"Hey, I never— Stop that I never got it for her." The rose tattoo he got for Harry was for Harry and no one else, he's promising. "That’s tabloid bollocks.”

Bollocks? Harry thinks over Liam's choice of words. Could he be angry? Harry can't help but go on rudely, "What’s it like giving it from the back, by the way? Is it like fucking a rose bush?”

“More like a dark, slimy blob attached to her waist. You can’t even tell it’s roses unless you’re under industrial lights. It’s horrible.”

Harry didn't actually want to know at all in any way. “Jesus," he frowns in the dark. At least he said it was horrible, he thinks. But Harry doesn't know why that would matter.

“I’m lying.”

“What's that?”

“I said I'm lying. Just wanted to make a joke," Liam giggles quietly.

Harry stays frowning, blindly shifting his gaze up into nothing. “You’ve haven’t fucked your new girlfriend?” he asks quietly, voice hoarse.

“Don’t act stupid. It’s just press. You ought to know. Of all people. On Earth. What, you’re the only one who can do it?”

Harry can't say he's surprised. But he always thought his doubt in their legitimacy came from another place. So he chose to ignore it in what felt like biting the bait. If he's completely honest, he's relieved and ecstatic this “Chiam” is all for show. A joyous event. But he keeps it so very cool, denying himself the embarrassing victory cry. “You could’ve done better. Just from a press point of view." But Harry isn't lying about that. "All the articles are about how you’re her puppy dog baby bitch suckling on her tits. It’s weird.”

Liam places his elbow on his thigh, resting his head on his hand as his fingers reach to pinch his earlobe. He hesitates, “...Did they really say I suckled on her tits?”

“No. You only do that for me.”

“Oh—Heh.”

“You should’ve just dated me.” What am I saying? Harry has to be joking. He should know whether or not he is, but he doesn't. "I have an excellent celebrity status."

“And make out on a boat? They’d say you’re cheating on me by week two. That's how it goes, innit.”

That hurt Harry's feelings. Like winged game falling bloodied with a bullet in its chest—this discussion is over. Harry regrets bringing this up as he sighs as quietly as he can. If there's anything he resents with an out-of-character fire in the pit of his belly, it's his image in the media. The media's perspective on him; a rancid-smelling stain that keeps him hidden to avoid the stink. Somehow Harry can never make peace with it, because he blames only himself for it. That impulsive hunger he gets in a moment's recklessness. His own blackout. He's just prone to it, isn't he? he thinks as he suddenly remembers the pizza he nearly killed Liam for, just because he didn't feel like driving. Maybe, just maybe, Harry knew the storm would be more than just the sun shower he assured Liam it would be. That sounds criminal. It really does. Harry sighs a second time. No one to blame but himself for walking into this conversation. No one else to ever blame. “Not on my account. If I ever really had my say… I wouldn’t pay people to write about how I’m a cheating pig.” Harry says, voice more hoarse as he speaks more quietly.

“What?”

“Forget it.”

“You speak in riddles," Liam mumbles.

“You’re supposed to be a songwriter.”

"What have you got against Cheryl?" he asks to Harry's dismay.

"Nothing. I'm just messing with you."

The bed shifts, and Harry starts to move around with it despite staying still. Liam's warm, solid body is next to him now. Harry moves his arm and presses it against himself, making room for Liam to scoot closer. "Your bed sucks," Liam tells him, voice quiet and close to Harry's ear. "It's too squishy. I feel like I'm sinking."

"That's the best part."

"I've never been on your bed before. Your California home bed," Liam says "California home" in a terrible American accent. "You haven't tried mine, either. Although... it's probably best you don't."

Harry shuts his eyes with the furrow of his brow, turning his body until he's pressed against Liam's right side and his leg hooks over his. He's pleased when Liam moves his arm so Harry can rest it against his chest. He smells like cigarettes, Harry notices right away, wondering how he hadn't before. He places his right arm over Liam's chest.

"You have no concept of personal space, mate."

"Why is it probably best I don't try your bed?"

Liam stirs a little, keeping his hand against the mattress and away from touching Harry. "Any time we're on a bed together, you and I always end up kissing." He gives a little chuckle, sliding his right hand down to pet Harry's head.

"I didn't realize that was a bad thing."

Liam's taken aback and Harry can tell. "W-Well it's not..." Liam says in a casual tone, like it's a throwaway comment he's making. Light and useless like a crumbled ball of paper flying through the air, just making its way to the trashcan.

And Harry turns away, rolling over until he's crawling off the bed and standing on the ground.

"Hey," Liam says helplessly as he sits up, the darkness leaving him no choice but to hope he's facing Harry's direction. "What?"

Harry blindly reaches for the door, slapping around until his hand reaches the doorknob. "Let's go downstairs."

"I said it wasn't a bad thing."

"I know."

"Hm." Liam says, crawling off the bed. "First we go upstairs, now downstairs... It's like a tour. A safari."

"Let's go light some candles. They're downstairs." And Harry outstretches his arm, hoping Liam can make it out as he gets off the bed, walking over to him. "Over here," he tells him, waving his arm until he feels Liam's grasp on his hand.

Harry's proud there hasn't been a thought in his head since Liam lied down next to him. Doesn't know why he turned over, doesn't know why he rolled away. It feels like a job well done on his part. It's nice knowing there isn't anything for him to make anything of. It comes at the expense that he feels a little confused. Harry will go downstairs, Liam in hand, and light some candles in the kitchen. Maybe by then his brain will power up, and they can have some fun. It seems like a risk. This all does, suddenly. Ticking.

Not too many good things tick.

Chapter Text

The storm got angry again. It's back to thunder, lightning, noisy wind— all the ruckus. Harry gives a little jump every single time thunder claps, his growls and curses sounding more defeated and feeble when he covers his ears. Because it's becoming increasingly more embarrassing with Liam bearing witness. Harry just can't get over the thunder, crashing down more passionately than ever. Teasing became a regular thing when they both settled downstairs on the dining table. Liam kept bringing attention to Harry's inability to adapt, but that stopped when Harry started trying to light the candle. He'd need concentration, so Liam shelved his humor. The matches weren't working because stress kept interfering with Harry's execution. When Liam whipped out his lighter Harry gave him a disapproving look, not liking that he still smoked.

"I don't smoke as much as I used to," Liam defends himself again, watching as Harry moves the lit candle jar to the very end of the extra long dining table. It's the second time he brings up his plea, unsatisfied with Harry's lack of comment the first time. But just as he's about to pick up his sentence, he makes a face and laughs when suddenly Harry climbs onto the table. "What the fuck." Harry crawls over on all fours until he's right in front of Liam.

"My feet are clean, before you give me shit, " Harry's voice cracks as he chortles, lying down on his back in the very center of the dining table. The candle is a good foot away from Harry's feet, so there's no threat of knocking it over and starting a fire. He looks up at the ceiling and says, "My back hurts," as a means for explaining the why of what he’s done.

"Oh, I'm having you for dinner! Lovely." Liam outstretches his arms and grips Harry's waist to slide him closer.

"Heey."

"There we go," he pats Harry's chest like a drum as he flashes a grin down at him. His whole body is right at the edge of the table now, his left arm tightly pressed against him so it doesn't fall off. His head is in front of Liam in the same spot a plate would be, but just a bit further to the right. Harry frowns with a pout, feeling suddenly embarrassed by the position. Like he's a roast or a body on an embalming table.

"What is this?" he makes a face as he gives a pitiful laugh, somewhat regretful. He wiggles to test the table's structure. Sturdier than he imagined, he's satisfied to know when it doesn't move at all, helping to ease the worry of breaking the whole thing with his weight. He turns his head to the left to see Liam looking down at him unphased.

"As I was saying," he starts as he runs his fingers through Harry's hair, adjusting the cascade on the table. "I uh... yeah, I don't smoke as much as I—" The room flashes with white. "Oh shit."

Harry quickly brings his hands to cover his ears with a whine of protest, and Liam adds his own for extra sound-proofing. Thunder rips through the air and Harry's shoulders give a little twitch. He isn't as jumpy for the first time, and Harry wonders if Liam being so close is to do with it. Wonders what time it is as he looks up at the ceiling, warm-hued from the candle's golden flame. It suits the sound of the storm and the nature of their small, private get together, he thinks. Harry turns his head to the left again, happy that he can see Liam's face perfectly with some kind of artistic shadowing, too. He's a very handsome man. Liam could easily serve as anyone's muse.

When Liam moves his hands away from Harry's ears, Harry quickly lifts his head and taps at the wood under it to get his attention. And of course, Liam gets the message, sliding over his hand so Harry can use it as a pillow once he drops his head again. Just as he closes his eyes, Liam asks, "Is it a scented candle? It's scented, yeah?"

"I don't know" Harry sniffs, not able to tell apart the smoke from any other smell that might be lingering. "Is it? I picked it in the dark."

"Do you just have a military-grade stock of candles in a bunker somewhere and you pick one out from the shelf?"

"I think I collect them at this point. I even have those religious ones, with Mary—The Virgin Mary, and Jesus. I haven't used any yet."

"Serious?"

"Yeah."

Liam sniffs the air. "It smells quite fruity."

"Read the jar it says what it is."

"It's all the way down there. I can't read what it says." Meaning, he won't move because Harry needs his hand as a pillow.

Harry opens his eyes again to see Liam staring blindly at the wall, sniffing with concentration. "It smells like mango. It's mango."

"Oh, then it's uh.... Coconut Mango Dream, or something. I bought it recently, actually," Harry tells him, head turned to the left. "Oh it's getting pretty strong now, innit?" He can finally smell it in the air. Mango, definitely. And he can smell the coconut, too. "It smells good. Wow."

"I feel like I'm in a dark mango. It's humid. That's the fruit juice. From within the mango."

"My feet are getting hot," Harry complains with a frown, wiggling on the table. "I'm sweaty."

"Like you're in a mango, right?"

"No. Not at all." Harry turns his head back up to face the ceiling.

"Do you remember the movie James and the Giant Peach?"

James and the Giant Peach; stop-motion animated film about a little boy who sails across the ocean on a giant peach, full of bugs, to New York City. A seemingly horrifying premise, but Harry was thoroughly entertained when they all watched it on the bus on their Take Me Home tour. Zayn picked it out. He managed to be the one who liked it the least. "They lived in a peach with all the bugs, didn't they?" Harry laughs as he remembers. "What was it, a ladybug, a spider, a centipede..."

"Well it's like that! The smell of candle— I mean the mango candle, it's so strong. If you close your eyes— Listen," he shake's Harry's shoulder so he turns to look up at him, passionate on the subject. "Harry, mate, if you close your eyes it's like you're in a mango. Like James in the peach."

Harry can't envision it but he entertains Liam anyway. "James and the Giant Mango."

"Liam, Harry and the Giant Mango"

"Lirry. The fans call us Lirry."

Liam laughs. "Lirry and the Giant Mango."

"The mango mansion."

"Lirry and the Giant Mango Mansi—"

Thunder claps and cuts Liam's sentence, and he finds himself quickly putting his free hand over Harry's right ear as if to protect him. "Why the fuck does it always have to come when I'm in the middle of talking?!"

"Heckler hurricane."

"Heckler hurricane. That's bloody right." Suddenly Liam scoots his seat closer to Harry and tells him, "Oi, lift your head." When Harry does, Liam slides his arm out on the table. "Okay, drop it again."

And Harry finds that he's resting his head on Liam's lower arm as his upper arm lightly presses against his cheek. Like if Liam were cradling him. This is much more comfortable. Liam's other arm rests on top of Harry's chest and that feels good, too. Which Harry decides to make no comment on. No comment in general until Liam asks for one.

"Better?"

"Yeah," Harry giggles. "Thanks." He feels how Liam adjusts his other arm's positioning until it's holding his waist firmly. If anyone were to walk in, they'd be walking into a dimly candle-lit room where a grown man is lying on the dining table while another one cradles his head like an infant. Ritualistic, or sexual, or maybe both. Harry has to laugh about it to himself, face going red though Liam won't be able to tell.

"I wanted to tell you," Liam starts, suddenly. "Before."

"Hm?" Harry blinks his gaze from the ceiling to Liam, turning his head just a little towards him.

"I was telling you, I don't smoke as much as I used to."

"You want me to know that badly?"

"I felt like you were worried. Maybe. Like you might have been worried. You are, aren't you? Not very seriously but, that's why you hate that I smoke, yeah?"

Afraid you'll die, Harry thinks to himself, shifting his hips on the hard dining table. Liam starts running his fingers through his long hair, combing back from his hair line until it all flows back. Suddenly Harry wishes he were asleep. "I hate smoking."

"Hate to smoke or hate the concept?"

"Both."

"You weren't always so fussy about it."

Harry sighs, regretting talking at all before he even knows what he'll say. The sound of the hurricane distracts him, words rolling off his tongue in that monotonous drawl of his, "They have these commercials here, about smoking. These commercials like, public service announcements— they're about smoking. And they have these people coming out saying, 'I started smoking when I was in high school, when I was in my twenties. I didn't think anything would happen, I thought it could only give you cancer in your lungs,' and then they show them with like, tubes in their chests and surgery photos of them missing their jaws. They've got cancer or... just really sick. Or when they can't move or walk, and like... all these really... sad things. It's sad. I hate it." There's no melody to the way he speaks. Hurricane noise playing as images of dying people flash in his head like lightning before that awful thunder. And he has an idea of the thunder coming now.

Harry doesn't have the heart to watch any kind of suffering. Or maybe he has too much heart, too sensitive of a heart, bruising and bleeding over everything. Avoiding confrontation and cancelling out emotion is one thing. But there's nothing Harry can do about sight, images. You can't pay him to watch a horror movie, or even sit through an ASPCA commercial all the way. Because it sticks like a vice to the back of his eyes, and it never goes away.

And Harry doesn't want to think about it but

"Well I told you I don't smoke as much anymore. Sometimes I can go a whole day without smoking, now."

he thinks about

"I think I'll quit some day."

Liam

"I'm not gonna die."

dying.

"You could've died today," Harry says, just now realizing he's been holding Liam's arm against his stomach.

"What? Oh, the pizza. You still thinking about that?"

Harry tilts his head so the left side of his face cuddles into Liam's right arm, cushioned and warm from the hoodie sleeve. "I'm just thinking about..." Doesn't want to say it, but with a disappointed sigh he does, "what if you really had died." But he wasn't until now, this very moment. He won't shut up.

Car wrecked, down a ditch. "Don't do that. I was just overreacting." Body bag.

Cries heard around the world. "It would've been my fault."

"What's the use in thinking about something like that?" Liam says seriously, his furrowed brow showing he's uneasy if Harry were to look. "Just don't, Harry."

Harry breathes quietly, the candle's flame making his eyes look glassy. He lets Liam move his arm from his grasp so he can start petting him again, like soothing an animal. Pets his hair, fingers gently caressing over the baby hairs of his hairline. Harry's having a hard time staying quiet and he rarely does. Never does. But right now he just wants Liam to say something and make him feel better. Make excuses, tell lies for him. But no, that makes him feel worse, too. That entitlement, maybe. It's just as bad. It all is.

"Do you enjoy being my slave?" Harry asks, knowing he could've phrased that better.

"I'm not your slave!"

"I tell you to put your hand under my head for a pillow and you cradle my whole head in your arms. Why? I didn't ask you to."

Liam shifts uncomfortably, staring down at the design on Harry's jumper as he mutters, "Cos I wanted to. If you don't want me to then say so."

"Am I spoiled? Like, demanding?" Wrong, blunt wording. The kind of thing he'll have to internalize a meltdown for whenever someone comes at him with hard questions like that. Invasive questions like that. It's not the kind of thing you say or ask someone, much less a guest who wanted to come over and have a chat. It's not fair. "That I want everything my way?" He should say things better but he won't. Be more fair and considerate but he won't.

"Nah. I just tease you, saying you're a spoiled brat and all that."

"I'm happy when you do everything I want."

"Everyone is."

It starts in monotone, monochrome. A floodgate in the big, pitch blackness. Big or small or whatever, it comes down. Harry could stop breathing, he thinks, and he wouldn't really notice. Muttering, nearly a whisper, "You didn't want to go out to buy the pizza—"

Liam groans, rolling his eyes. "Ugh, enough with that."

"—but I made you feel bad so you'd go out and drive because I didn't want to. Because I was afraid that if it got to raining too hard that I'd crash I-I'm not a very good driver I'm not. I knew it was a bad idea because of the rain. And I knew you'd go out because you never say no to me. And you almost died. And if you had, it would've been my fault you'd be dead because of me. Over pizza..." And he chuckles. "Over fucking pizza you'd have died." A fucking glutton. "I can be so selfish sometimes and... manipulative just really impulsive." I'm the worst. I really am, Harry stops himself from saying. He stops himself completely.

Liam frowns deeply, frustrated and to some extent guilty. He shifts in the dining chair and says,. "I wasn't gonna die, Harry." He's angry at himself for making Harry really believe that, even though it was true. He feels like a parent comforting a child after a nightmare, an irrational fear keeping them up. Maybe it isn't as irrational as Liam makes it out to be. "I was overreacting. It was just hard to drive and— a-and it was scary but I wasn't going to die."

"You're lying to make me feel better."

"Jesus, I'm not," Liam says harshly. "What's the point in talking about this?"

Just then Harry sits up, whispering a frantic, "Okay, okay. You're right," as he just sits there, knees pulled up as he ruffles his hair, fixing it so it goes over his shoulders. He thought he would maybe get off the table and look for an excuse to leave the room for a bit. But instead Harry finds himself turning his body over to face Liam, scooting forward, and then clumsily adjusting his legs until they're hanging off the edge of the table and his thighs are pressed against Liam's waist. Slumped, he sits. The way he's prone to with that bad back. And he sits on stand-by. As empty as he started he stays. Thunder comes. And he forgets to move. Almost disappointed.

Liam would like to think of himself as a knight in nice-enough armor. Maybe sometimes Harry is just the perfect princess. The damsel in distress. The rescue isn't the subject of self flattery, a mission in ego. Princesses don't belong to the knight they belong to the prince. But Liam never sees one anywhere. He never sees anyone. Someone should be there for someone so important and precious and beautiful. But Harry's always alone. And Liam will be damned if he ever gets to knowing— much less understanding—why, in God's name, everyone has let that happen.

But maybe Harry isn't a princess at all. Maybe he's just a rightfully damned outcast, banished to the banks that keep him in a sloped in-between. Not lost but right where he's meant to be. Not that it makes a difference, anymore.

It could never, anymore.

Harry sticks out his hands in front of him, palm side up like a beggar. And Liam meets his wishes by holding his hands. They look at each other for a while, Liam nodding his head with the purse of his lips and the squint of his eyes just to kid around. The smell of mango stays strong, the sound of the storm with the angry wind blowing still there. Rain slapping against the windows and stomping down onto the roof. After a deep breath inhaled and then exhaled, now Liam has to really tilt his head back to look up at Harry, looking him in the eyes as he softly tells him, "Harry, you are the most selfless person I know. You know, you're always... doing things for other people and for fans and and for me. I don't know why you act like you don't. I like doing things for you because I'm like that. I like it. You're a very charming bloke, that's all! I've not done anything for you that I haven't actually... wanted to do. You know, ever. I do it all on my own... free will because I'm not a fucking baby. Alright?"

If Harry could just get to crying he'd feel better. "Yeah. Yeah, I was just thinking out loud. It's nothing. I'm sorry."

"I didn't mean to make you upset when I came back today. I was just a bit fired up. It's not your fault or blame— I-I don't blame you or anything like that. Some things really aren't worth thinking about. I really don't want you thinking about me dying. Or thinking you're guilty if I were to die. It's just no good it's rubbish." Like a reminder, laying the truth for him to see, "No one... died. So... nothing happened. It's cool." Cool is a small word for small moments. Liam uses it, like if he could squeeze this whole talk down into triviality.

Harry doesn't say anything, looking down at their clasped hands. He's squeezing Liam's fingers in his palm like he'll fall if he lets go. It's so Shakespeare, he thinks; being able to hear the storm rumbling against the house, a single candle lighting the room while Liam talks to him about death. Harry's embarrassed immediately. A little kid waking up in a soiled bed.

"You okay?"

"Yeah," Harry makes it sound like it would be ridiculous to think he wasn't. Just a fall and the scrape of his knee, he'll insist. "Just blacked out for a sec. Sorry," he apologizes with a chuckle and the cock of his head, chin doubled as he looks down at Liam.

Harry's nose is itchy but if he sniffs Liam will think he's crying. He has to let go of Liam's hands, bringing his own up to his face to scratch the side of his nose. And while he does, Liam's hands relocate to Harry's waist, reaching around as much as his arms will let him until he's actually hugging him. Rubbing him a little, head turned to the side to look at the candle and try to detach from what he's doing. But it's not easy when Harry's hands are on his shoulders, one snaking up his neck until it's on the back of his head, petting his short hair.

It isn't unexpected when Liam turns his head forward again and presses his face into Harry's jumper. It definitely isn't when Harry's hand starts petting Liam's head with just a little more pressure, as if to keep him there against him. And it still isn't unexpected when Liam's hands slide under Harry's jumper, his warm hands touching over the bare skin of his lower back. But maybe it's a just a little unexpected when Harry lifts his jumper from the front, hand on the back of Liam's neck encouraging him to push his head forward again right into his bare, crinkled belly. A little more unexpected when Harry is scooting back on the table, leaning back until he's resting his weight on his hands behind him and his legs spread a little wider. And it isn't expected at all when Liam slides his chair back and leans forward in his seat, digging his face right into Harry's crotch. And Harry pulls his sweatpants up so the fabric doesn't bunch up. And Liam can actually feel with his mouth that he isn't wearing underwear.

Harry wants to see what Liam will do on his own, encouraged to go on with just a hand caressing the back of his head. He lets out shaky breath, swallowing as he looks down between his legs at Liam nuzzling his face into his warm, clothed groin. He doesn't pull down the sweatpants yet, seeming to enjoy the new experience of leaving wet spots on the cotton fabric as he starts leaving kisses over Harry's hardening cock. Brings up his hands to assist him, grabbing at the outline of the shaft so he knows where the head is, knows where to keep his mouth and suck through with a wet patch. Now Harry's having trouble keeping quiet— and keeping his eyes open. They fall closed, shut tight. No one's ever done this to him before. Dining table, blackout, pants still on. He hears the sound of a zipper coming undone, an excited pulse going through his dick knowing Liam's brought down a hand to jack himself off. Liam starts kissing over the rest of Harry's cock, rubbing over the shaft with his hand and squeezing his balls through the fabric. Harry opens his eyes as he drops his head back to look up at the ceiling, dark and poorly lit. Just as Liam slides his arms under his thighs and pushes his knees back, the room flashes with light and thunder crashes through the air. It makes Harry's heart jump in his chest, his breathing jagged. But maybe that's Liam's doing. He's pushed his face against Harry's ass, moaning while his hand reaches under his sweatpants to grab his dick.

Harry can't help but abandon modesty, biting his lip as he pulls his knees back more and takes over rubbing his own cock. Moaning when Liam's head goes down further, rubbing his face against his ass. He's fervent; kissing and sniffing and breathing hard and moaning. It only takes a few minutes more before Liam loses control. And he's quickly pulling his jeans down to his ankles, taking off Harry's sweatpants before digging his face into his bare ass. Harry gasps, eyebrows knit together as he watches Liam go down on him. Liam's mouth leaves wet kisses over his hole, beard chaffing and tongue lapping at his baby smooth skin. He bends down more in his chair so his head can get at deeper angle. Moaning, tilting his head wherever it needs to go to make Harry loud. He laps at him, tasting him so desperately it's making Harry's face burning hot. The sounds are obscene, all wet and loud.

And suddenly Liam pulls away for a moment, leaning back against the chair just to take the view in. Deep brown eyes flash up. Harry looks down at him hazed, cheeks so red Liam can tell even in such low lighting. Nothing on but that grey jumper already halfway pulled up above his stomach. And his stomach, his tummy— so soft and plush, adorned with butterflies and laurels that serve to adorn his plump cock nicely as it lies flat against his skin. And Liam looks down further, down at Harry's tight little hole. Harry touches it for him, rubbing over with his fingers and dipping them inside enough to tease both of them. Liam sinks back into his chair more and jacks off hard as he watches the little show Harry's putting on for him. Biting his lip when he looks up at Harry's face. Blood rushing makes the younger boy rosy-lipped and pink-skinned from the face down to his chest, humidity making his chestnut hair a wonderful curly bouquet around his shoulders. His chest rises and falls fast as he fucks himself with two fingers, holding his weight on one elbow. And looking down at Liam, he gives him a shy little smile that only serves as part of the show. Because he's shameless, really. He loves the attention. Moaning and pulling his hand away when Liam goes down on him again.

Greedily Harry pushes his body down against Liam's face, rocking his hips, groaning when Liam pushes back with wetter kisses. Because Liam's lust drives him to force his head into Harry harder, his hands moving to Harry's thighs to squeeze and touch madly. Harry's a bit of a mess, a bit overwhelmed, eyes never looking away. And his breath hitches in his chest when Liam's tongue dips inside his stretched hole. "Fuck, Liam..." he lets himself fall back against the table, thrusting his hips as he rubs his ass against Liam's beard. He whimpers, cock leaking strings of precum onto his stomach. "Oh my God..."

"This what you like?" Liam kisses on his skin.

It's his favorite thing when there isn't a cock in his ass. The one thing to drive him desperate and over the edge, milk him dry without even touching himself if the right person's between his legs. "Yeah, yeah..." Harry whispers with every exhale, hands going under his sweatshirt to pinch his nipples. His face feels like it's burning, vision blurring as he blinks up at the ceiling. Rain hits harder against the roof, against his whole house. Wind whirling the water against the windows in the storm. Harry's balls feel tight and his breath comes and goes recklessly, inconsiderately. He knows he's close but he wants to get to just before the very end, rocking his hips and pinching his puffy nipples as Liam eats him out. Harder, panting, wheezing, whimpering— "W-Wait, wait wait—" Harry's voice cracks as he pushes Liam's head back, thighs dropping down as his back arches off the table. "Fuck, oh fuck...!"

Liam laughs as his eyebrows come to curve upwards, stroking himself as he watches Harry reel himself back from the edge. Stomach twitching, whimpering curses as he keeps playing with his nipples. And Liam feels a bit proud, ego making his balls twitch. "Just from that?" he slaps Harry's quivering thigh before rubbing over it softly.

It takes him a while, but Harry comes down from the high, hands going over his warm face as he giggles, "Don't act surprised..." Liam's already done it twice before. Both times on tour, both times drunk. The only thing that separates this time from the past is that Liam is very much sober, and Harry stopped himself from making a mess.

Liam watches him lazily push himself up until he's sitting on the table again. Red faced, skin looking sensitive. The look of his leaking erection prompts Liam to ask quietly, "I suppose you want me to fuck you now?"

Harry grins, letting himself drop down on the dining table again as he moans an, "Mhm," like the dissipate boy he is. But as he licks his lips, he suddenly corrects himself, "No, I mean— if you want. To." Fuck, please, he prays not too proudly in his head. Otherwise Harry got a little too ahead of himself and gave himself blue balls for nothing. Knowing Liam he could just flake and pull up his pants, deciding he's already done enough before an internalized guilt comes out to grieve him. It can be 50/50.

"Yeah."

"Thank God."

Liam laughs, taking off his shoes so he can pull off his jeans from around his ankles. He stands up from his chair, giving Harry's thigh another little slap. Because he's nervous. And he wants this so bad, wants to be snapped back into his shameless libido. Harry's scooting himself down until his ass is at the edge of the table, eager for Liam to nestle his hips between his spread thighs. Liam hesitates to look down, and he's embarrassed of that. So he quickly pulls off his hoodie and drops his weight forward on the table, on Harry. And he kisses him, kisses him hard. Harry lifts his head into him, moaning for more. Desperation unravels, Liam's hand back to his erection. And like jumping into a moving current everything falls into motion, and promises never to stop. With a kiss to Harry's cheek Liam pulls back, standing firmly on his feet as he rubs his cock against Harry's hole.

Maybe it's because Liam takes too long getting his cock wet with spit, or because reality knocks on the glass along with the branch that just blew across the window, but suddenly Harry closes his eyes and quietly chuckles, "I'm always a slut when I get sad," he furrows his brow. Because he's embarrassed to say it, head turned to the side at the candle. New sight. It's melted quite a bit.

"Been there," Liam snorts, eyes going wide. "Oh yeah."

Harry smiles and lifts up his head to look at him, standing between his legs.

"We all wank after we have ourselves a little cry," Liam tells him in sing-song like if he were narrating a fable, slicking his cock with one last spit in his palm before he drops his weight forward. "You're just lucky enough to have me around. And I'm quite lucky as well, actually."

Harry stumbles with his words, an awkward murmur he forgets to hold back. "You sad?"

"Who cares," Liam mumbles against Harry's lips, thrusting his hips between his legs, sliding his dick over his hole.

"I care," Harry whispers back, just before Liam kisses him. Softly, so sweetly. His mouth is warm, faint taste of cigarettes making Harry emotional enough for his libido to fall into the mix. Like his heart races double, holding Liam closer against him for reasons he can't spell out. And he won't get the chance to for a while, moaning into Liam's mouth with a hard kiss when his fat cock is squeezing inside him. Liam moans back, hands going around Harry's waist once his cock is stuffed snugly all the way inside. "You're so fucking big..." Harry praises him, adores him as he squeezes down on his cock, hands rubbing up Liam's strong back.

Liam pulls out slow, thrusting back in just as steady. It's gentle, making for a sharp contrast at all the angry noise outside from the storm. They're just used to it now. Used to the dark, too. Not that they're strangers to the dark, living for five years under the harsh stage lights in a pitch black screaming stadium. But it's just the two of them now. Liam kissing Harry harder, moaning deeper in his throat every time his cock is swallowed to the base. Harry's eyes are closed, his cheeks rouging with that angry pink again as his oversensitive body gets fucked. He wasn't stretched enough for this and it's a feeling he can't get enough of. How thrust after thrust, Liam's cock still squeezes through him. They break the kiss and Harry drops his weight back back on the table again, exhausted and overwhelmed with pleasure. He keeps from touching his aching cock, knowing he can get off just like this and wanting to so desperately. Feeling Liam thrust harder inside him puts Harry in a drunk haze, eyes shut tight with the furrow of his brow. Running his hands up Liam's hairy abs and his strong chest, flexing under his fingers with ever sharp snap of his hips.

"Just like this?" Liam groans, bending himself over the table as he picks up his pace, hands reaching up to cup Harry's cheeks. Eyes closed, strong grip, firm against his jaw.

"Anything you want... anything, everything..."

Neither of them see the lightning flash through the room, so neither of them expect the thunder that smashes violently down against the air. This time it scares Harry, crying out as his body shutters under Liam. Hard to breathe as he starts to tremble, like his body's too defenseless to deal with the fright. That fear, it merges with his lust just like the thunder that came before. He spreads his thighs wider as Liam starts fucking him with quick, short thrusts that slide him on the table back and forth. The grip on his throat is all that's keeping him in place. Harry's sweating onto the wood already, and his skin under his jumper feels like it's burning. He yanks the fabric up with trembling hands and rubs them over the sweat-slick skin of his heaving chest. And then Liam takes over for him, palms harshly rubbing over Harry's fat nipples while he fucks him, weight on his body, groaning against his throat. He pinches the swollen, sensitive nubs callously just to hear the gorgeous, begging moans from Harry's lips. Sticking out his chest, wanting more. 

"Do I feel good?" Harry whimpers as he runs his hands up Liam's back.

Liam's a mess on top of him. "Fuck yeah..." his voice trembling, cock ramming in and out of Harry's ass. He's on his tip toes, bent over on the dining table to fuck him good.

And Harry kisses him deep and sloppy and loud, his curly baby hairs already damp on his forehead. He doesn't know what's gotten into him. And he's only just noticed, or realized, or whatever way it came to him— he can't tell like this. He just knows, suddenly. That when he lifts himself to prop his weight on his elbows again, lifting his jumper all the way up to his collarbone, it's so Liam can bend his head down and start sucking on his nipples. As hard as he wants. It's Liam's favorite thing and maybe it's because it's Harry's other favorite thing. But he loves it, suckling at Harry's tits. Harry just wants to feel that fixation. That anything and everything he promised. He feels like he's missed Liam. Or like he'll miss him. Both at once, maybe more and all over again. Harry's never wanted him this bad. Not to say he's been wanting him less all the times before. But just that he's needing him in such a different way right now. Like he's far or going away goodbye. It's that feeling. It's horrible because it makes no sense.

But this isn't. "Fuck... oh God..." Harry breathes as he looks down at Liam, mouth latched onto his chest as he sucks his hard, puffy nipple. He swirls his tongue around it, sucking harder and harder until it's too much, and then he lets go, kissing it and licking the nub gently until he's starting up all over again. It beginning to sting and Harry likes that, bringing his knees back more as Liam's cock starts hitting his prostate. And Liam moans desperately on Harry's nipple while his arms wrap tightly around his waist, fucking into him hard, balls slapping against his ass. Harry's brow is knit together tight. Flushed, kiss-swollen lips parted as his head falls back. He moans, whines, long hair swaying back and forth with every thrust. His balls tightening, cock twitching and aching with every orgasm he denies it. Edging back and forth and back and forth—

Until the room flashes white. And Harry's heart jumps in his chest high enough it feels like he can't breathe by the time the thunder comes down. It's awful, sudden, like two metal pots slamming together in a deafening impact that roars through the sky.

And that's when Harry cums.

He forgets to say anything, voice just cutting into a guttural whine as his hips snap up from the table and cum is spurting from the tip of his bobbing cock. All over his jumper and clenching stomach, and all over Liam. It has to be the most helpless feeling. Pleasure rips through him with more pain in his balls than he anticipated, making his watering eyes roll behind his closed eyelids as his body trembles. Every orgasm denied makes for thicker cum, more of it, landing on his skin and across Liam's throat. And Liam just keeps fucking Harry hard on that dining table, suckling on his nipples as he moans through the fading ring of thunder. His hold on Harry's lower back keeps him from falling back onto the table, keeps his chest against his face. And Harry's clenching down around Liam's cock while the cum keeps dripping down from his dick onto his belly. Cum inside me, he'd beg him if he didn't want to be so damn selfish.

But with a frantic moan Liam is already spilling his seed inside him. Harry can feel his arms twitching around his waist, muscles flexing. Liam's mouth leaves Harry's nipples and he goes to kiss him on the lips. Harry's surprised by the slow pace of that kiss through his vehement thrusts, the taste of cigarette on his tongue gone. And Liam's pulling back his arms from around Harry, carefully letting him fall back down without breaking their kiss. Harry drops his thighs, legs dangling over the edge of the table again. Sore, terribly. They breathe hard through their noses, sweatier than they realized once they're pressed chest to chest. It's a cute gesture when Liam pulls down Harry's jumper and adjusts the wrinkles. He isn't thinking when he does it. Mostly he just wanted something warm to cuddle on for a moment, for that kiss.

Until he pulls away and holds himself up on his hands, catching his breath. By now he would've rolled off and changed the subject with a joke while dressing himself. But he just wants to be close to Harry right now. Keep him company, watch over him for a bit. Because why not. The hurricane outside has no intention of stopping and they're alone in the dark with only a single red flame to give them sight of each other. It's an open invitation for intimacy that even Liam can't deny. They already fucked. And there's nothing else to do. But even if there was, Liam knows he would stay right where he is. No place he really thinks he'd rather be.

Harry's gone soft between his legs, Liam's cum trickling under his thighs. Liam's already pulled out but he stays leaned over Harry in the same position. What a dreamboat, Harry thinks to himself as he looks up. Liam's red in the face like when he works out for too long, strands coming loose from his tight quiff. His disheveled beard adds new shadows to his sculpted face, eyes looking black in the dining room's low light. The eye contact doesn't come as an incommodity. Liam is a panting, sweaty presence but Harry's fine with having him just where he is. More than fine, leaning his head to the side until his head is against Liam's arm. The dark seems to comfort Harry now, a dizzy haze making everything feel ambient and serene to a pair of green, heavy-lit eyes.

"I don't think the lights are coming back any time soon."

Harry looks up to ceiling for what feels like the millionth time, because that's how he finds himself acknowledging the hurricane outside. It doesn't sound any better what with the rain raging against the walls and the rumble of distant thunder to be heard. Category 3 hurricane means bad, Harry will remember from now on. But the consequences haven't been entirely all that bad— Liam is with him. Though they played catch and throw with their own natural disaster for a moment there, Harry doesn't regret it. It might have something to do with the sex, but he'll insist definitely not. "You staying over, then?"

"Have I got a choice?" Liam raises his eyebrow, smirking down at Harry.

And for a change, Harry finds himself saying, "Sure you do," softly with a little smile. He's a doormat for everyone that doesn't matter, it seems. Liam deserves it more than anyone. Because it's not like Liam could actually drive out in the middle of the storm. So really, it's stupid for Harry to say that Liam could just leave. But he wanted to prove that the intention, the thought, it's crossing his mind. More like bashing against the walls, actually, since he isn't making sense. 

But Liam catches notice of that intention, stuttering a smile before quickly telling him, "Yeah, I'll stay. Stay here in this blackout with you." Like he forgot, too, that he really can't leave if he wanted to.

"I forgot it still smells like mango."

Liam reaches out his hand to pet Harry's damp hair and tells him, "You smell better." Sweat and sex and cum and just the faintest linger of some organic body mist from his shower at noon. When Liam tries to pull his hand away, Harry grabs his wrist with a pout. Liam chuckles, petting him again like a cat who won't take no for an answer.

Dreadfully, in that moment, Harry realizes he's still starving. Maybe now more than ever. And Harry is a damned man all over again for thinking about Liam dying for the third or fourth time this night—he doesn't know. With how hard he was fucked, he wonders if Liam had anything causing trouble in his head. "And I'm quite lucky as well, actually." —That's come back to demand his attention. If Harry didn't know any better he'd think it was his fault he planted some menacing weed in Liam's head. But he does know better. Of course it's his fault.

"I'm sorry," he imagines himself telling Liam. Never has a problem with apologizing. But Liam will just tell him it's fine anyway, tell him there isn't anything to apologize for as he gently pets his head.

"For what?" he'd say with that smile. Because he doesn't want Harry being sad, is all. Because Harry's a charming bloke, is all. Sure. It's funny how Liam can be so demanding about opening up, and at the same time be so good at changing the subject and blocking conflict. Maybe he's more like Harry than Harry thought. Or maybe he's adapting for him, learning to leave more than just his sexuality unspoken. All as a means to protect him. And that's so much goddamn effort.

"You don't have to tend to me, the way you do. It's not good for you. I'm not worth it."

"Of course you are, sunshine."

"Why would I be?"

Why knights always slay dragons to rescue princesses.

"Because I'm in love with you. Thought you knew that already."

"Oi."

Harry opens his eyes. "Hm?"

"What are you thinking about?"

He smiles, dimples creasing his cheeks as he looks into Liam's eyes. And then he turns his head to the side, sighing with a stretch as he says, "I'm thinking about the poor souls that are gonna have to eat quinoa off this table."

"Noooo!" Liam cackles as he roles over on the table, covering his face. "Fuck!"

"I'm proper leaking here. I'm just sitting in a puddle."

"For God's sake clean it..." He's embarrassed, laughing as he shoves Harry who announces bluntly like a charismatic TV host,

"Ass, semen, sweat..."

"I should... really probably wash my face," Liam can't say with a straight face.

And Harry chortles, cheeks turning red all over again as he turns over to look at Liam and tell him, "I volunteer."