Louis still remembers the first time he met Liam.
He had spent his day dying Perrie’s hair a soft lilac colour and colouring over the blonde streak in Zayn’s hair (something which he still maintained Zayn had blackmailed him into doing in the first place) and had just finished shooing the couple out the door when the bell rang signalling a new customer.
He lifted his gaze from the salon’s books he had been looking over and his breath caught in his throat.
Standing in the middle of the empty salon was the most beautiful man Louis had ever seen. He was tall and rugged, his arms bulging against his tight black shirt, dark birthmark standing out on his neck. There was one flaw, however, in the beautiful man’s appearance.
“Mate, you’re hair.” Louis told him, eyebrows creased in concern.
The man grimaced. “I know I was hoping you could help me with that.”
Louis stepped out from behind the counter and began circling, taking in the brown locks that were charred black at the end, all uneven in length and that clump on the side was definitely singeing.
“It’s on fire.”
The man looked startled, quickly bringing his hands up to swat at his head.
“Damn it, I thought I got it all.”
“It’s just uh,” Louis grabbed one of the towels off of the nearby bench and held it up in his hand. “Here let me.”
Beautiful stopped swatting at his head and flopped down into the chair Louis indicated, letting Louis swat at the smoking strands with the towel.
“So, what happened then?”
He finished extinguishing the small embers stuck in the man’s hair and placed the towel down, meeting Beautiful’s gaze in the mirror.
“Um, I work down at the fire station. We had a call out, thought we had put everything out so we went into survey the damage and I took my helmet off to look around and well.” He gestured helplessly to his scorched head, a forlorn expression on his face. “I guess there were some loose embers we missed.”
Louis bit down hard on his lip, desperately trying not to laugh at his misfortune. Beautiful, however, was no fool and apparently Louis wasn’t doing well at hiding his mirth at all.
“It’s alright you can laugh. I suppose it is a bit funny.”
With his permission, Louis let out the loud cackle he had been trying to hold in, wiping at the tears forming in his eyes from his laughter.
“Listen, er,” he trailed off allowing Beautiful to supply him with a “Liam.”
“Louis. Liam, mate, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s pretty bad.”
Liam too had begun grinning a little, shaking his head at the situation he found himself in.
“Please tell me it’s not a complete lost cause.”
Louis chuckled, eyes shining as he grinned down at Liam. “Depends.”
“How do you feel about a buzz cut?” Liam looked a little uncertain, frown flickering across his face.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing else to be done mate.” Louis combed his fingers through the singed locks, lifting up different pieces to show to Liam. “All burnt to different lengths. Unless you want the world’s most uneven haircut, I’m afraid shaving it is the way to go.”
Liam sighed a little, but nodded his head anyway. “What’s the worst that could happen, I suppose.”
“That’s what I like to hear.” Louis enthused, rolling his trolley over to where Liam was seated and flicking the cape over Liam’s shoulders. “’sides, fit young lad like you’s got nothing to worry ‘bout. By the time I’m done with you, the ladies will be lining around the block for a piece of Liam the fire fighter.”
“’s not much of a selling point, mate. Don’t much fancy the ladies.”
Louis snorted. “A man after my own heart.”
“Well then, what do you think? Reckon it’ll look good enough for you to agree to dinner tonight?”
Louis flushed, smoothing down the edges of the cape, then pulled his phone out. “I think it might.”
He grinned down at Liam through the mirror, handing his phone over to the other boy. “Put your number in.”
He watched as Liam programed in his number quickly, taking note of his last name ‘Payne’ as Liam saved it into his phone then handed the device back.
Louis smiled down at the number briefly, quickly pulled up his camera and shot a picture before Liam could protest.
“Contact photo.” He supplied at Liam’s protests.
“You just want to show all your friends and laugh at my terrible hair.” Liam pouted at him and Louis would be damned if that wasn’t the most adorable thing he had ever seen.
“Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies, Liam. Now hush and let me fix your hair before someone comes in and thinks I did this to you. I have a reputation to uphold.”
He turned on his electric clippers and set to work, shaving off Liam’s ruined hair.
At the end of Liam’s appointment Louis had closed up the shop with a new number programmed into his phone and the promise of a date that night.
One date had turned into two, had turned into five and somewhere around the six month period Louis found himself moving into Liam’s flat just down the road from the fire station after accidentally setting his kitchen on fire whilst trying to cook Liam dinner.
He had sat through a lot of ribbing for that incident, given that Liam’s group had been rostered on at the station at the time, meaning that not only Liam but all his friends too had been there to witness the humiliation that was Louis’ surprise dinner for Liam.
“I just wanted to surprise you.” He had moaned into Liam’s shirt, wrapped up tightly in his boyfriend’s grip who had come charging at Louis the moment they arrived at the building leaving the rest of the boys to go put out their kitchen.
The all clear was given for residents to go back in the building and Liam had led Louis upstairs to go and check the wreckage of Louis’ apartment.
After it had been deemed that Louis wouldn’t be able to live in there for a while, Niall and Harry had walked out, each offering Louis a comforting pat on the back from where he was burrowed into Liam’s side.
“What am I going to do?” He groaned, pointedly ignoring Nick’s snickering as he rifled through the charred wood making sure there were no embers that could catch alight again.
“You can come live with me.” Liam put out quietly, watching Louis’ face anxiously for a reaction. “Not just until this place is fixed up either, but like indefinitely?”
Louis’ eyes shot up, locking with Liam’s, the two staring at one another, Liam with baited breath as he waited for Louis response.
“Well, yeah. I’ve been meaning to ask for a while and I mean what better timing then you burning your place down?” Liam’s eyes were sparkling with mischief and Louis gasped dramatically.
“It was an accident.” He moaned, jabbing at Liam’s ribs with his index finger, moving his hand up to twist at Liam’s nipples.
“I know babe.” Liam grabbed at Louis’ hands before they could reach their target, all too used to Louis’ manhandling. “So what do you say? Move in with me?”
“Will I be able to cook you surprise dinners in your kitchen?” He asked, looking up at Liam through his eyelashes.
Louis grinned. “How about surprise take out?”
Liam pretended to think it over for a moment before his face split into a grin to match Louis’. “I think that can be allowed.”
“Well then, roomie, what do you say we knock off and go re-christen our apartment.”
“I’d love too, but.” He trailed off looking towards Nick who was in charge of their rotation. “Oh go on, Payne, go have kinky housewarming sex with your pyro boyfriend. Aiden and I will finish up here, Harry and Niall can hold fort at the station for the last hour.
“I’m not a pyro.” Louis scowled, looking ready to start a feet stomping tantrum at any moment, so Liam quickly whisked him out the door, a quick “thanks Nick” called over his shoulder.
That night Louis had had some of the most athletic sex he had ever had. The next morning he was put on a total ban from the kitchen when he had left the kettle forgotten on the stove and set off all the smoke alarms.
Liam had proposed to him a week before their two year anniversary, when they were holidaying at the beach with Louis’ mum and sisters.
The girls had all gone shopping for the day and, after a lot of convincing and a little bit of bribery, Liam had managed to convince Louis to skip out on his favourite past time in favour of spending the day together, just the two of them.
He had forked out a lot of money to hire them a private yacht for the day – albeit a small one, because his pay wasn’t that good – and the two had been taken out to a reef just off the coast of the island they were staying on, where they spent a good portion of the afternoon frolicking around in the clear blue water, scuba diving amongst all the coral and marine life.
When night had fallen, the boat had docked just off of the shore and Liam arranged for a candle lit table to be set up on the deck, so they could admire the view of the island, all lit up and inviting, while he wined and dined Louis.
The proposal had come after dessert when Louis was slumped back in his chair, rubbing at his stomach and complaining about having a tummy.
Liam had positively beamed at him from across the table, getting up and walking around to Louis’ chair kneeling down in front of the smaller boy who was now on high alert.
“Lou.” He began, grabbing onto Louis’ hands and swiping his thumb across Louis’ knuckles to calm him down – Louis looked as though he were about to hyperventilate.
“Louis, we’ve been together nearly two years now and those two years have been the absolute best of my life. I love everything about you, Lou. How you care so much about our families and our friends, how you always mock me for how my hair looked when we met, how you’ve nearly set our kitchen on fire a grand total of seven times just trying to make me breakfast in bed. I don’t know what I’d do without you and I don’t ever want to have to find out.”
He took a deep breath, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the small ring box that he had been carting round with him for a month now.
Louis’ eyes had been shining with tears by that point, the older boy biting down on his lip attempting to keep in the sobs that were desperately trying to escape.
“Louis Tomlinson, will you please, please do me the honour of becoming my husband? Will you marry me, Lou?”
A moment of silence passed before Louis finally cracked, letting out a large sob and tackled Liam onto the deck, whispering, shouting, laughing. “Of course I’ll marry you, yes, yes, yes.”
Liam too let a few tears fall as he managed to pry Louis off of him, just long enough to slip the shining gold band onto Louis’ finger before sealing their lips together in a messy kiss.
Not a lot of talking was done after that, only grunts and moans exchanged until the next morning when Louis had dragged Liam out for breakfast, waving his hand frantically in the face of his mother and sisters who had all screamed in delight.
The week they got back from their honeymoon was the same week as the stations annual Christmas barbeque.
The two had arrived to a torrent of hoots and catcalls from the assembled group of their closest friends (Zayn included, as he had quickly befriended all the lads down at the station when Louis began dating Liam).
Harry had run at them, hugging Liam briefly before jumping at Louis, wrapping him up tightly in his arms, kissing every inch of his face.
Liam rolled his eyes as the two wrestled one another to the ground, having had over two and a half years to come to terms with the strange friendship Louis and Harry had developed.
Niall came charging over also, pouncing at the two who quickly accepted him into the fray, the three of them now rolling along the ground shouting raucously at one another.
Liam grinned, shaking his head a bit and wandered over to say hello to Nick and Greg who were enjoying a few beers whilst watching the station manager Paul flip sausages on the grill.
After Louis had managed to extract himself from Harry and Niall, who’s wrestling had been slowly turning into some strange looking foreplay, he left the two snogging on the ground and went off to chat with Zayn and Perrie who were wrapped up in a conversation with one of the newer recruits, Jade.
As the night wore on, Louis found himself wondering back over to Liam, grabbing onto his hand and refusing to let it go the rest of the night.
They made their rounds, chatting with everyone who had shown up and endured all the ribbing about being newlyweds and when the night had drawn to a close, they had bundled up together in Liam’s car, making their way back to their new home, hands still clasped over the gearstick between them.
That night Liam had fucked him into the mattress and then pulled Louis tightly into his side when they were done, face buried in Louis’ sweaty hair, legs tangled up between them.
As Louis drifted off to sleep, breathing in the musky scent of Liam mixed with the slight tang of smoke he could never quite be rid of, Louis smiled up at the boy wrapped around him.
He was so glad Liam had set his hair on fire all those years ago.