It was hot. Really hot, even though it was this late at night. It was different from England’s usually cold thrills, so that was probably why Louis Tomlinson felt like he was going to faint. Having been in an airplane for almost six hours together with women with screaming babies and snoring men isn’t something that made you relaxed – even if it doesn’t sound like something exhausting. Altogether he had barely gotten any sleep or food down due him being so nauseous it was ridiculous. He loved his job; he really did, having to travel all over the world to write different articles and reviews for movies and plays. You could say he was a writer for newspapers, all of them calling if they wanted him to write a paragraph or two. Still, he hated flying. He was frightened that it would crash or that something would go wrong, but he never showed it. So, he was relieved when he now stepped out of the airplane at the LAX, his big and grey bag being placed on his shoulder, his phone clutched in his hand. He almost stumbled when the woman behind him bumped into him, her just excusing herself before she hurried on. Louis only sighed and ignored her, trying to turn the mobile device on at the same time as he pushed through all the humans that he thought took awfully a lot of space. They obviously didn’t, but Louis loathed being in a hurry and being slowed down. So here he was, just mumbling a million “Excuse me,” as he tried to reach a seat. A chair, or a couch even, so he could set his bags down as he called for a cab.
He had to stop for a moment just to look around when he was finally out of the actual arrival area, Louis feeling how his heart pounded in his chest. He brought a tan hand up to it and just felt it, trying to calm it down before he glanced down at his phone again. It waited for him to type in his PIN code, the blue eyed twenty-three year old quickly doing it before he just hurried to the closest seat and threw his bag onto it. He breathed out, placing the phone between his shoulder and ear after he had dialed the taxi service. He bent his leg and placed his foot on the seat, just so he could tie his shoe.
“I’d like a cab that can take me to Baxter 5,” he said into the phone, thankful that his breath had calmed down. He took the device in his hand again and sat down for a moment, fixing his fringe when he was done tying his shoes. His back rested against the bags when he leaned back and he hissed a little when something sharp cut into his back. A book, probably. “In about twenty minutes.” He looked out to nothing while the woman talked and asked where he was, Louis just telling her as he glanced around the large hall, at the girl in the purple dress that was yelling after someone, the man that was helping another man in a wheelchair, and the little child that was carefully coloring in her coloring book, trying to get everything inside the lines. Louis smiled a little, turning his attention back to his conversation. He thanked her and hung up, taking a deep breath again. He stretched, and then chose to take his things again and look for a café or something. He was going to fall asleep if he didn’t get any caffeine, or at least some tea or something to eat, Louis excusing himself when he accidently walked into a suitcase that belonged to a man with a green t-shirt. The man snorted and turned back to what seemed to be his wife, Louis continuing.
It was almost comical how many humans that were running in and out of souvenir shops and restaurants with plastic bags and wallets, Louis moving out the way when two teenage girls passed. He bit his thin lip, carefully making his way into a café that seemed empty enough for a quick cup of tea, walking up to the line and stopped behind the rather thin lady that was the last person in that line. He sighed.
“It’s a pretty short line for being such a busy day.”
Louis flinched a little, turning around to face the boy that spoke to him. His eyebrows rose just a little. “Excuse me?” he asked, changing the hand he was holding his bag with. Still, he couldn’t help but smile a little, the boy’s hair so messy he looked like he just got out of bed.
“I mean, it should be more people in here at this hour, when a plane just landed. It usually is,” the boy explained, Louis slowly nodding in agreement. He swallowed a little.
“How do you know?” he wondered, looking at the cashier that stood and waited for him. He took a step forward, nervously scanning the menu. The boy behind him did the same.
“I travel here quite a lot, so I know how these things work,” he explained, Louis’ eyebrows furrowing a little. “You’re from England too, I suppose.” Louis asked for a cup of tea with some milk and sugar and a cinnamon roll, then just turned back to the curly, whom he now noticed had green eyes.
“You're from there too?” Louis asked. “You sound more American than English.” The boy chuckled.
“Been living here for a while, but I was born and raised in London,” he smiled, Louis blinking and grabbed his coffee. He licked his lips, looking around for an empty table, seeing one by the window, surprisingly. He glanced at the boy again.
“You’re going to eat here too, right?” he said, nodding to the two chairs by the table. “It’s more crowded upon the tables.” The green-eyed lifted his eyes from the menu and to the table, then down to Louis again. He smiled softly.
“Are you asking me to sit with you?”
Louis laughed softly. “Maybe.” The curly just nodded.
“If you don’t mind.” Louis only nodded and pulled his bag towards the table, shoving it under one of the chairs before he sat down. He quietly set the cup and his cinnamon roll down on the table, looking up at the curly again when he started making his way towards him. Louis wrapped his fingers around the warm paper mug, his thin lips making a line as he glanced at his watch that sat around his wrist.
“I have to leave in about ten minutes though,” he said, the green eyed nodding and took a sip from his own cup. He licked his lips shortly after, Louis noticing the small twitch in his cheek.
“No problem. That means I’ll have the table for myself,” he chuckled, Louis snorting.
“Of course you will,” he said, looking up at the boy. He took a quiet sip of his tea. “Why are you here, even? Why aren’t you still in England?”
The boy took a bite of his sandwich, keeping his eyes on the light brown bread. “I like to see new people, I suppose. England got a little boring, so I just decided to move here instead. It’s warmer too.”
Louis bit the corner of his lip. “Wasn’t it scary going alone though?”
The curly tensed up a little, Louis seeing how his fingernails tried to dig into the dark wood of the table. They left small marks, the blue eyed swallowing. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to touch a sensitive subject,” he added. The boy breathed out and shook his head.
“No, I just… I came here with my sister, but we lost contact.”
“Why?” Louis asked.
“You’re a nosy one, aren’t you?” the curly shot back, the blue eyed shaking his head too, just like the one of the opposite of him just had done.
It was weird. He didn’t sound mad, yet he sounded like he wanted to tear someone’s head off all of a sudden. Hopefully not Louis’. Louis gently kicked on one of the four table legs. He breathed out a breath he didn’t even realize he had been holding. The green eyed didn’t say anything for a while. At least not until those ten minutes had passed and Louis stood up, taking his phone and put it in his pocket. He took his bag too.
“I have to leave,” he mumbled, clearing his throat. He looked down at him. The curly looked back, Louis tilting his head a little before he took a step back. He ran a hand through his hair. “Bye then.”
The curly watched him. Louis could feel it as he walked away, turning and bending his curvy body when he avoided bumping into someone. He hadn’t even finished his coffee, still feeling the awkward tension even though he was halfway out the airport. Perhaps he screwed up. Maybe he threw him off. Sent him the wrong expression. Gave him some kind of false signal. Made him think that he wanted to get to know him or something, which wasn’t the case. Definitely not, Louis breathing out a harsh breath. So that was it. He upset a person just ten minutes into America. It wasn’t often that he did so, and it wasn’t his intention either. Still he could feel how he was blushing like crazy, fingers nervously drumming on his bag. Maybe his thighs were trembling too. He couldn’t tell.
Last time he had really made someone snap was when he had asked Niall, one of his childhood friends, to drive him to Doncaster in the middle of the night because he wanted to say a “Happy birthday,” to his mother in person, but apparently it was too late for that according to Niall. So Louis had sent her a text instead, and she had been a little disappointed. But he had explained between apologies and she forgave him. But aside from that, never. He didn’t like upsetting people either since he felt a rather large feeling of guilt inside of him every time. So, in other words, he preferred to have friends instead if enemies.
Louis turned to his left to see if the cab had arrived, immediately starting to walk towards it when he realized that it was already waiting for him, thanking the cabby when he helped him lift his bag into the backseat. Louis sat down right next to it, lifting himself further back with his hands. His thin lips made a line when the car started to move and he looked out the window, over the passing lights that were blinking at him as a silent welcoming. The temple of his rested against the cold glass window. He was still sweating like crazy, the dark blue t-shirt of his sticking to his back in a rather disgusting way. Louis tried to make him stop by leaning forward instead, resting his elbows on his knees before he took out his phone. He started scrolling through text messages. Almost all of them were from his co-workers, so he realized that he wasn’t very social. He sighed. He had actually promised to send his fiancée a text message when he had arrived, Louis tiredly watching his fingers as they danced over the screen.
'Arrived half an hour ago. I’ll text you before I go to the meeting tomorrow. I love you. Sleep tight. x'
It wasn’t until the next day that Louis felt completely rested out, his blue eyes blinking open when his phone went off. He ruffled around in the thin sheets for a moment, fumbling after the phone that was somewhere on the nightstand. He turned it off when he found it, letting it rest next to his pillow. He stretched a little, groaning. The sun was stinging his eyes through his eyelids, Louis just tugging the blanket over his head to shut it out. He yawned. He knew that he had about two hours before he would have to be in the Los Angeles Times building, Louis tiredly rolling out of bed and onto the floor, unplugging his phone from its charger. He ran a hand through his messy hair, rubbing the tiredness out of his eyes. He took a deep breath before he stood up and padded over his bag that was filled with clothes and hair products. He decided on a white button up and a pair of black jeans, setting them down neatly on the bed before he went onto the bathroom to take a shower.
The hot water had a relaxing feeling on Louis. It always had, the blue eyed standing there with his forehead resting to the white wall, water running down his hair and naked back and thighs. He breathed in the steams, tilting his head back to let the water wash his face too. He hummed. Every time he was showering with Eleanor, his fiancée, or alone, it was often like this. Just staying quiet and let him get wrapped into the warmth while Eleanor was slowly kissing his neck or shoulders, her hands maybe even washing him. In return Louis would often give her pecks and kisses, but that was it. He wasn’t much for the whole sex-in-the-shower thing, judging from previous experiences with slipping and how the shower cabin often was too small. So no, nothing in the shower.
Louis licked his lips as he stepped out of the water, reaching for one of the blue towels and dried his chest with it before he wrapped it around his hips. He had to stand up on his tiptoes to reach over the wide sink to the mirror to wipe some of the fog off; opening the door and the window too so it would wear off quicker. He looked around for his contact lenses for only a minute, biting his lip as he put them in. He blinked shortly after, looking around the bathroom. It seemed good enough so he walked out again, getting dressed and fixed his hair, going out of the room together with his phone and his keys to the room.
The keys spun around his finger while he went down the stairs, his vans making small sounds against the wooden floor. His jeans were rolled up his ankles and his shirt was to his elbows, Louis pulling his blazer over his shoulders as he pulled the door to the outside open with his back. He had to squint against the sun as he reached the pavement, phone already pressed to his ear as he called for a cab again. Thankfully it arrived within ten minutes, Louis climbing inside and gave him the address, leaning back in the warm seat with a sigh.
It only took half an hour to get into the actual city, Louis paying the cabby with his phone, once again, close to his ear as he spoke.
“Yeah, I’ll be there within five minutes,” he said into it, turning his body so he wouldn’t bump into an old lady when he passed, pushing the door into the building open. He walked up to the reception desk, smiling politely at the woman behind it, her black hair in a low pony tail and her suit neatly buttoned. She looked like she belonged here, so Louis decided that he liked her. She smiled back, Louis hanging up.
“Can I help you?” she asked, her voice surprisingly soft.
“I have a meeting with Liam Payne at one o’clock,” Louis responded.
“Louis Tomlinson.” Louis watched as she started typing on her computer, long and slender fingers dancing over the keyboard. He noticed her name tag, her name apparently being Courtney. Courtney Anderson.
“The writer, I suppose?” she smiled, Louis looking from her name tag to her eyes. She tilted her head a little. “I’m a big fan of your work, you know. Your paragraph about the wedding of Sweden’s crown princess and Daniel was amazing.” Louis smiled.
“Why, thank you. I’m doing my best.”
Courtney let out a small laugh and placed a paper sheet on the counter, pointing at different areas with her pen as she spoke. “I just need you to fill in this. It’s a confirmation that you’re here and that you will do this properly. You never know with people nowadays,” she said, Louis nodding and took the pen she offered. He signed his name, looking up at her with a smile.
“Why, you have any previous experiences with slackers?” he chuckled, going back to signing. Courtney shook her head.
“I don’t since I’m pretty new. But my co-worker has.”
“What happened then?” Louis asked, finishing the paper and handed it back to her. She chuckled.
“Someone came in drunk and asked for Zayn Malik, a journalist that works in New York for the moment. He got furious when they told him that he didn’t work here anymore, but they told him that he could come in and wait for another journalist. It ended with a ruined office.” Louis watched her speak, his eyebrows raising and then lowering, letting out a laugh.
“That was a pretty stupid decision then,” he said, running a hand through his now styled hair. Courtney just shrugged and took the paper, checking it before she gave Louis a white card with a triangular arrow on it. She pointed to her left, onto three elevators that were right next to a large pool of flowers. This looked more like a hotel than a business building. Dark brown floors, red and white walls and large windows. It didn’t exactly scream ‘boring newspaper.’
“You take the left elevator to the tenth floor. You use it by sticking the card into the slot and pull it out, then press the button,” she explained, Louis nodding. “Then you can just wait on one of the couches. He will be right with you.” Louis nodded and thanked her, taking the card with a smile.
Slowly but surely he went up when he had stepped into the elevator, quietly swaying on his feet as he watched the red numbers above the doors change from one to ten. He took a deep breath as they slid open, Louis curiously peeking his head out before he just took a step right into the waiting room. It was rather pretty, dark green paint covering the walls except two of them, one having the middle third of it being an aquarium, colorful fishes swimming around, and the second one just being windows showing Los Angeles. It wasn’t as sunny anymore. It wasn’t raining though; it was cloudy, if anything.
Louis sat down in one of the two black leather couches, elbows to his knees. He impatiently shook his legs repeatedly, hands tangled together. He looked around, eyeing the paintings and decorations that were on both the walls and on the tables and shelves. It was modern, Louis assumed. He was never a big fan of paintings.
About ten minutes later one of the doors flew open and a man with a buzz cut stuck out his head, looking around the room before his brown eyes landed on Louis. Louis slowly stood up.
“Mister Payne?” he said, drying his hands on his jeans. “I’m Louis Tomlinson.” The man smiled and nodded, opening the door for the both of them.
“Come in,” he said, Louis running a hand through his hair as he walked past him into the office that looked pretty similar to the waiting room. “Sit down, please.”
Louis did as he was told and watched Liam as he rounded the large desk, sitting down on the other side of it. Louis had expected him to be older, but he seemed like he was younger than Louis himself. Liam cleared his through and adjusted the dark purple tie of his. Louis swallowed himself.
“First of, welcome to Los Angeles, mister Tomlinson,” he said, Louis shaking his head.
Liam just looked at him, a small nod following after that. He took out a folder from the shelf behind him, giving it to Louis. “You see, we would be very happy here on Los Angeles Times if you would write a paragraph or two for us,” he said, Louis opening the black folder with a lick of his lips, looking through the pages of information and pictures about something Louis didn’t quite understand. He assumed that he wasn’t so used to big newspapers yet. He turned to Liam again.
“About what?” Louis asked, closing the folder again. He tilted his head. “I don’t really… write about news, Mister Payne. I’m more for the casual articles about life and politics.” Liam hummed, fingers quietly drumming on the chin of his, which was dressed by slight stubble, just like Louis. Maybe he should have shaved.
“We would like you to write about Los Angeles over all,” he said, Louis’ back straightening. He chewed on the inside of his cheek. “You know, what there’s to see. Your first impression. The beauty of it. Why people should visit it. You know, like a review.” Louis’ eyes squinted a little.
“Isn’t that more like a school essay than an article for a newspaper?” he said carefully, Liam resting his chin on the tip of his fingertips. Louis shifted a little in the black leather chair of his.
“Perhaps,” Liam said, looking out the window for a moment, onto the skyscraper that was right next to them. He let out a breath himself, Louis seeing how his chest lowered. He placed the folder onto the desk again. “The tourism has sunk drastically, so Los Angeles needs someone to lure them here again.” Liam looked at Louis in the corner of his eye. He smiled a little. “A good writer, also known as you.”
Louis rested back in the chair. “I’m very honored, Mister Payne, but I don’t really think that I’m the guy for it.”
“Why not, if I may ask?”
Louis sighed, rubbing his eyes for the second time that day. “I don’t know, it’s just… What am I supposed to write? Baxter 5 has a lovely service, and serves delicious breakfast every day. You should check it out?”
Liam shrugged, “If you’d like.” Louis sighed, leaning forward again and buried his face in his palms. It felt like he was quiet for hours, but when Louis glanced at the clock it had only been about ten seconds. He looked at Liam.
“When do you want it done?” he asked. Liam lit up.
“In a month, preferably. That way you’ll have more time to actually explore the city,” he said, Louis looking out the window again. “Will you do it?”
Silence then again, Louis speaking up after another ten seconds. “Yeah, sure. I went all the way here; I don’t want to go home again for a while.”
Liam smiled and nodded, reaching a large hand to him. Louis took it and shook it, the both of them standing up. “Welcome to Los Angeles Times, Louis.”
Louis felt nervous when he stepped out of the building later that day, the sun slowly going down. He breathed in and breathed out, looking down at the piece of paper he held in his hand. It contained everything he needed to know, but that was it. All he had to do was write about Los Angeles, and that would be it.
Louis folded the paper and put it in his chest pocket, straightening out his blazer as he started walking down the street. It was more crowded than before, Louis smiling at a woman that bumped his shoulder. She smiled back but continued, Louis first now noticing the child she held in her hand. It was a boy, hair blonde and messy. Just like his mother. Or aunt, maybe. Could be anyone. The writer bit his lip, stopping for a moment to watch the child. He reminded him of the boy at the airport, with the curly hair. The child’s hair wasn’t curly, but it sure was similar to it. He swallowed a little and turned again, continuing to dodge everyone walking in the other direction. He really hoped that he hadn’t upset the curly haired man. But he couldn’t have known either, that he shouldn’t ask about his family. Still, maybe it was obvious without someone actually saying it. He could barely remember what he looked like, or where he was going. Hell, he didn’t even know his name.
Louis muttered to himself as he glared down at the ground, feet stomping slightly. Why had he gotten so mad, anyway? Louis was just a stranger to him. Who the hell gets mad at a stranger?
The blue eyed huffed when he was forced to stop, stumbling a little. He had run into someone, or something, his hand placing over his forehead. He had to bite his lip just to not whimper since he could feel a bruise or something appear. He sighed instead, just looking up at the person, or thing, through his eyelashes, swallowing a little when he saw that it actually was a person. Or maybe it was because he recognized that head or brown curls and those green eyes. The twitches in his cheek too, something that some people would call a dimple. He could feel how his lips parted.
“You,” he breathed, the curly in front of him lighting up.
“Hi,” he said, Louis flinching, as if he had imagined him being there. Like he didn’t even exist, or that he hadn’t expected him to talk. “I didn’t expect to see you again.”
Louis swallowed, moving his hand from his forehead to his blazer instead, holding onto the hem of it. “Same to you,” he said quietly, looking down at the street, then to the curly again. “I didn’t mean to walk into you.”
“I know you didn’t,” the dimpled one smiled, Louis looking up to the sky, which was getting darker and darker. He wouldn’t be surprised if it started to rain soon. He turned back to the boy, who was so tall it was ridiculous. He was looking down at Louis, which was embarrassing. Louis cleared his throat.
“I didn’t mean to… you know, say that thing yesterday either,” he said, fiddling with one of the buttons.
“Would you like to take a cup of coffee with me?” the boy asked, Louis looking up at him. He furrowed his eyebrows.
“I’m quite sure you heard what I said.”
Louis closed his mouth and looked around for a moment, looking if he was actually talking to him. Which he apparently was, because everyone else was moving. He blinked up at the curly again. “Why?”
“Because it’s probably going to rain soon, and I’m already on my way there. I could use some company.” Louis swallowed again. His mouth felt dry. “Besides, I’ll treat you. Come on.”
Louis squirmed where he was standing. “Fine,” he groaned, sighing when he felt a rain drop land on his hand. This would be a good opportunity for his article. A cozy café. Everybody liked those. “Only if you pay. I’m broke.”
The boy nodded. “I’ll pay. No worries.”