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It’s crushing.

Like all your insides are twisting painfully at once and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. It takes your breath away, and not in a good way. You can’t help but clutch your stomach, hoping and praying that it’s all a dream, that the excruciating pain will evaporate as soon as you open your eyes.

It doesn’t happen. The ache doesn’t disappear like some sort of magic trick. Instead, it only intensifies, spreading up to your head and down to your toes. It won’t stop, nothing makes it stop.

Louis closes his eyes as tight as he can, willing everything to just be a nightmare he’s about to wake up from. He’ll find Harry laying peacefully next to him, probably snoring lightly looking as adorable as he always does. Louis still has the image ingrained in his mind from this morning. The sun made his skin shine like gold, Louis couldn’t help but run his finger down his spine to make sure he was real like he does almost every day.

The sound of metal crunching brings Louis back to his reality. His devastating reality. There’s something wet dripping from his lip, and something pressing against his legs and he’s unable to move.

Louis doesn’t realize he’s screaming until he feels the ache in his throat. His ears are ringing, his breathing rapid and his heart is about to beat out of his chest. Before he can assess his situation, his eyelids get heavy and everything goes black.


*


Harry checks his phone for what feels like the millionth time.

Still no word from Louis.

It’s been almost an hour since he’d received a text from him telling him he was leaving work. Harry knows it takes Louis exactly eleven minutes to get home from work with the early evening traffic. They don’t live far from his job, it’s one of the many reasons he loves working there. Dinner is getting cold and there’s a twist in his stomach that won’t go away. Something that tells him there’s something wrong.

He picks up his phone and dials Louis’ number one more time. Just like previous times it goes to voicemail. Harry huffs. He can’t sit around when his body is telling him Louis is in trouble. Without another thought, he grabs his keys and heads out the door towards his car.

So many thoughts run through his mind, worst case scenarios he quickly shoves deep into the back of his mind. He calls everyone he knows might have some idea of where Louis is. Co-workers, mutual friends, but no one has heard from him. Harry calls Louis’ employer and they inform him that he’d left a couple of hours ago.

Nothing makes sense.

Harry pulls into the police station, his hands shaking so much he stuffs them into his pockets. His feet are like lead as he takes each step to the building, the heavy feeling still weighing down on him.

Louis isn’t okay and Harry has to, needs to find him.


*


Pain.

Louis’ head pounds, he pants as he opens his eyes carefully. He tries to move, but there’s resistance. His legs are pinned, the seatbelt keeping him in place as he hangs upside down.

The sound of Louis’ cell phone startles him, temporarily making him forget his current predicament. He groans in pain and frustration. He can see his phone lighting up from where he is, it’s on the dashboard on the far corner of the passenger’s side. He moves his right arm and stops, excruciating pain shooting through his shoulder. The left arm isn’t hurt, but there’s no way Louis can reach the phone from this angle, even if his right arm wasn’t broken or whatever is wrong with it.

Louis screams. He screams because he needs help. Someone needs to come and get him and he wants to talk to Harry. Harry . Fuck, he must be worrying sick right now. Louis tries to move his legs again and again to no avail. There’s no way he’s getting out of here on his own, that much is clear. He takes a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart.

He’s unsure of how long he’s been like this, but he’s sure it won’t be much longer before someone notices his car and calls for help. Louis is sure that at any minute, someone will find him.

Anyone.


*


“I’m sorry but it hasn’t been long enough to file a missing person’s report, sir.” The officer says in an annoyed tone.

Harry’s face heats up in anger. He’s been going at it with the officer for who knows how long. They won’t do anything. They’re just standing there, staring at him like he’s the one with the problem.

“Have you called his family? Friends?” The officer asks as if it isn’t the first thing he did.

Harry all but rolls his eyes. “I’ve tried everyone we know. No one has heard from him. His phone just rings until it goes to voicemail. This isn’t like him. I’m telling you there’s something wrong!”

He tries his best not to raise his voice but these people are really trying Harry’s patience. He isn’t getting anywhere with them and he’s about to start throwing things.

“Unfortunately our hands are tied. And as far as I can tell, it doesn’t look like he left against his will. I suggest you wait it out and in the meantime track your joint bank accounts, cell phone records and see if that might give you an idea of where he might be.”

Harry wants to scream. Why aren’t they taking this seriously? Don’t they know the longer they wait the less they have the chance of finding Louis alive?  

Taking a deep, long breath, Harry nods reluctantly. He doesn’t say anything else, just turns to leave. If the police aren’t going to help him, he’s going to have to find Louis himself.


*


Louis wishes there was a way he could tell what time it is. It’s definitely dark out, but other than that there’s no way for him to tell. His phone won’t stop going off and every time he still attempts to reach for it even though he knows it’s no use. He wishes there was a way he could communicate telepathically with Harry and let him know exactly where he is. Well, if he’s wishing for things he should wish this was all a dream he’ll soon wake up from. Or wish for teleportation powers so he can teleport to a hospital and call Harry.

The pain hasn’t subsided, but he’s trying to distract himself by humming music in his head. Right now, it's Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” because it’s his and Harry’s song. Thinking of this song is taking him back to him and Harry slow dancing to it at their wedding in front of their family and friends. Harry had worn a black suit with sparkling pinstripes and his eyes were so bright Louis couldn’t take his eyes away from him. He’s never been able to since the moment they met.

His cellphone ringtone interrupts his trip down memory lane and he sighs. Louis stretches his left arm, trying again to reach for the phone. He groans in pain as he tries to reach as hard as he can and he huffs after giving up. The ache in his entire body is too much.

“Fuck!” He slams his hand against the steering wheel. Louis had attempted to honk the horn earlier, but it must have broken on impact.

Louis wishes he could remember what happened. What went wrong and made him end up here, hanging upside down, bleeding from god knows where with his legs pinned down and a broken arm. He knows he got off work at five, got in his car and pulled out of the parking lot but after that his mind goes blank.

Did someone else come out of nowhere and hit him? He would think if he’d hit someone they’d try to come and check on him. Unless...no Louis isn’t going to think about any other possible casualties.

He closes his eyes and goes back to humming Ed Sheeran in his head, willing his memories of him and Harry to come back and take him away from his current reality.


*


Harry spent all night looking for Louis. He started by driving the path from his job and driving onto the main road Louis usually takes and keeping his eyes peeled to see if there’s any sign of Louis’ car. He drove the same path over and over, until he lost count. There’s no sign of Louis anywhere.

When he finally gave up and went home, sleep was hard to come by. When the sun came out, Harry stopped trying. He got calls from Liam and Niall, offering to help. Harry instructed them to drive the same paths Louis takes, needing fresh eyes in case he missed anything the night before. Plus, things are a lot clearer now that the sun is out.

Harry joins Niall in the passenger seat, being too sleep deprived to even attempt to drive in his state. His eyes search every possible place his car could be or could have driven off but there isn’t anything. No sign of Louis’ blue Honda Civic.

When the sun goes down, Harry goes back to the police station, this time with the support of his friends. They relent and file a missing person’s report, but tell Harry they can’t start an investigation unless they see a reason to. According to them, Louis not coming home after work isn’t enough.

Niall and Liam have to hold Harry back from causing a scene and escort him out of the station.

“We’ll find him Harry. If those assholes won’t look for him, we will.” Liam assures him.

Harry hopes he’s right because he doesn’t even want to think what his life would be like without Louis. He won’t.


*


“What are you doing?”

Louis startles. He was dreaming after all, thank god. He smiles before even opening his eyes, so happy to hear that voice. That deep raspy voice that is everything to him, especially right now.

Louis blinks, but no. He blinks a few more times, squeezing his eyes shut before opening them again. This can’t be. He’s still hanging upside down, still trapped in this fucking car. If that’s the case then who…

“Are you okay?” Louis cranes his neck to the right and finds Harry sitting, his feet against the dashboard, eating popcorn? He pops a few pieces into his mouth and chews crunching the kernels between his teeth.

The scent fills Louis’ nostrils, his stomach grumbles. He’s been so hungry, he’s gone past the point that he’s sure his stomach is eating itself he’s so famished. Louis licks his lips at the sight of the popcorn.

“Harry?” Louis manages to say. His own voice cracks from disuse. He’s so thirsty, his mouth feels like sandpaper.

“Why are you here?” Harry asks, his eyebrows furrowing in the cute way he does every time he’s confused.

This has to be a hallucination. If this was really Harry, he’d be doing everything to help him out of here.

“I don’t know,” he answers anyway.

“Why didn’t you come home? I missed you.”

Louis closes his eyes, his throat tightening. He can’t stand this. Having imaginary Harry here eating popcorn right in front of him is like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. It’s just cruel.

“I miss you too, Haz. So much.” He murmurs, breaking into a sob. “Please get me out of here.”

Imaginary Harry laughs. He fucking laughs. It’s that loud guffaw he does when Louis says something that isn’t really that funny. The kind that is contagious. Well, it usually is. Not so much right now.

Louis goes back to closing his eyes, willing the hallucination to disappear. He wants Harry, but he wants the real Harry. Not a cruel imaginary one that isn’t doing anything to help.


*


Harry has done everything he could think of and it’s been days.

He’s checked their bank accounts, credit cards, phone bill. There’s been no activity on Louis’ end and Harry is a mess. Louis’ phone is now just going straight to voicemail.

Harry got everything in order and went back to the police station, showing them proof that there’s been no sign of Louis anywhere. It’s only then that they finally decided to take Harry seriously and open an investigation. He took a relieved breath, but that unsettling feeling is still there, like a permanent fixture inside of him that won’t go away.

Now he waits. As much as he hates trusting law enforcement to actually get off their asses, there’s only so much Harry could do. He has to depend on them to use their resources to find something, anything.

It’s been five days since Louis’ been gone and that morning Harry’s phone rings. He trips over himself trying to answer it.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Styles, we’d like you to come in to get an official statement from you.”

“Yes, yes. Anything you need. I’m on my way right now.” Harry hangs up and throws some clean clothes on. He doesn’t remember the last time he showered and he doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to waste time on shit like that when he could be trying to find Louis.

It takes everything in him not to run all the red lights. This has to be good, right? Maybe they’ve found something. For the first time hope begins to bloom in his chest, but he tamps it down as soon as it comes. He can’t get his hopes up just yet. Not yet.

When Harry arrives, he’s taken into one of the interrogation rooms. The detective asks him to have a seat and begins to ask questions about his whereabouts the night Louis disappeared. Suddenly, Harry knows what’s going on.

“You think I had something to do with Louis’ disappearance?” Harry asks, disbelief clear in his tone.

“We’re just trying to find your husband, Mr. Styles. We’d appreciate it if you cooperated with us.”

“I’ll cooperate with you, of course I will. But you’re treating me like a suspect and I’m just letting you know that you’re wasting your time looking at me.”

“Will you let us conduct a lie detector test on you, then?”

Harry sighs. “Of course. Anything I can do to help.” He relents. He knows it’s no use trying to argue. He’ll just take the lie detector test, prove he’s telling the truth and they can continue trying to find Louis.

The detective is in the middle of setting up when another person enters the room and gets his attention asking him to step out of the room. Harry waits impatiently. His fingers tapping against the table, his foot shaking relentlessly. They’re wasting precious time, they need to hurry up.

The detective returns and instead of continuing to connect Harry to the device he unhooks everything.

“What’s going on?” Harry asks.

“Mr. Styles, they found your husband’s car.”


*


It fucking reeks in here, is the first thought Louis has when he wakes up. The sun is out, so it’s another day. Louis lost count after three days.

There’s no longer any pain, everything is numb, even his emotions at this point. He’s lost all hope that he’ll be found and is basically waiting for his inevitable fate. Louis has accepted it, and it’s just a waiting game now.

He’s had multiple hallucinations, even one of his dog Clifford, who they had to put down a few months ago because he was too sick to save. Imaginary Clifford wouldn’t stop licking his wounds but Louis didn’t feel any of it.

At one point Louis imagined calling 9-1-1 and the operator laughed at him when he told them he needed help. Louis sobbed and the operator only laughed harder until he eventually passed out again.

A knock on Louis’ side of the window makes him jump. Here comes another hallucination. This one is even more cruel, making him believe that he’s being rescued. Maybe his time has finally come to leave this earth.

“He’s alive!” The person yells, his voice muffled by the shut window. Whatever, it’s not like any of this is real anyway.

Louis closes his eyes, willing himself to go slink back into unconsciousness, hoping it all ends soon.


*


As much as Harry had insisted they take him to where Louis’ car was located, he was told they’d inform him when they knew more. They weren’t sure if he was alive or not and they didn’t want Harry interfering with anything while they retrieved the vehicle.

Hours passed before Harry had finally got the call. Apparently, Louis’ car had run off the side of the road into an embankment and fallen 10 feel down past some bushes that obstructed the view from anyone driving by. They’d tracked Louis’ phone down to the last calls he’d received to locate him.

It had taken them less than 24 hours.

Not only that, though. Louis was alive. As soon as Harry heard the words he fell to the floor nearly passing out from exhaustion. Thankfully Niall and Liam were with him, never leaving his side and they were able to drive him to the hospital.

Louis had been trapped upside down in his car for six days. He was severely dehydrated, with broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken leg. The doctor says his body was in such a bad shape that it was beginning to eat itself. He wouldn’t have made it another day. Just thinking about that possibility makes Harry sick to his stomach.

Harry spent hours helplessly waiting as the doctors operated on him. They were hopeful that he’d make it based on Louis being in good health. Harry wasn’t able to really breathe until they finally took him to his room. The doctor told him that everything went well and that it’s all a matter of waiting the next few days and see how his body reacts.

So he’s been sitting here, next to Louis’ bedside, unable to stop staring at him. There’s a tube breathing for him, a cast on his leg and bandages everywhere. His face and arms are bruised, but it’s Louis, his Louis. He’s alive and breathing. The monitor shows Harry what his heart rate is and he finds himself glancing at it every once in a while to make sure it’s still beating.

Friends and family have come and gone. They’ve brought food, flowers, balloons, well wishes, all kind of things. Harry is very grateful. Especially since he refuses to leave Louis’ side even to eat. When he uses the bathroom he makes sure there’s a nurse with him so Louis will never be alone. He spent six days all by himself, trapped in a car, Harry refuses to ever leave him alone again.


*


There’s a faint beep in the distance. Beep, beep, beep. It’s not stopping, it’s steady and Louis wants to know where it’s coming from.

In order to do that he needs to open his eyes, but that feels like so much effort right now. He tries once but nothing really happens, his eyelids flutter a little but not enough for him to be able to see.

Is this what the afterlife is like? A constant beep and being blind?

Louis tries again, using what feels like most of the strength he has and he’s able to get his lids about halfway open for about two seconds before they close again. Was that Harry laying his head on the bed beside him? It can’t be. He’s probably hallucinating again.

Louis attempts a different tactic this time. He tries to use his voice to see if anything comes out.

“Errmph.” Well, at least he made some kind of noise even if it’s intelligible.

“Louis?” Harry’s voice is soft, hopeful and maybe nervous? He feels a hand squeezing his and wait. He felt that. He felt a soft, warm hand squeezing his own.

This can’t be a hallucination.

Louis uses that as motivation to try opening his eyes one more time, and sure enough he’s met with shiny green eyes.

“Oh my god, Louis,” Harry’s face brightens up with that gorgeous smile of his. To think Louis thought he’d never get to see it again.

Louis makes another noise, unable to get words out. Harry shushes him.

“Don’t overwork yourself trying to talk. They removed the breathing tube this morning, so your throat is probably a mess. Here.” Harry takes the small pitcher on the table and fills an empty cup with water before bringing the straw up to Louis’ mouth. “Drink.”

Louis sucks on the straw and the cool liquid feels so good, refreshing. He’ll never take water for granted ever again.

Harry tells him everything. About the crash, and how he spent six days looking for him. How Louis was found alive in his car and was rushed to the hospital. After surgery he spent another five days unconscious, healing. This morning his breathing tube was removed with the hope that he’d wake up soon.

Harry kisses him on the forehead and leans his head against his.

“I thought I’d never get to see you again, baby. I was so scared. But you’re here now. You’re safe. We’re going to be okay.”

Everything is so overwhelming and it’s probably a good thing Louis can’t talk because he wants to scream and shout that he’s alive. He’s alive and he gets to continue spending the rest of his life with the man he loves.


2 years later


Louis opens his eyes and is met with the sight of Harry’s back. His muscles are so defined and perfect, Louis leans in to kiss him between his shoulder blades and wraps his arms around his husband’s waist to bring him closer to his chest. The closeness makes Harry’s ass rub against Louis’ erection and it feels so good.

Harry stretches, yawning and looking over his shoulder with a knowing grin.

“Good morning to you too,” he says in his sleep raspy voice Louis loves so much.

Louis shrugs, unashamed. Harry turns to face him completely and plants a kiss to his lips, morning breath be damned.

“Good morning baby,” Harry whispers like it’s a secret.

“Good morning, love. Did you sleep well?” Harry’s face falls a little, but he tries to play it off. Louis knows better though.

Even though it’s been two years since the accident, Harry still has nightmares about it. Louis has his own share of bad dreams too. They’ve gone to therapy to work through a lot of their PTSD from the accident. Louis went through hell with physical therapy, but he never complained because he’d take that over being dead any day. He still doesn’t remember what happened, or what caused his car to end up in a ditch, and if he’s honest he doesn’t ever want to know. He wants to put it all behind them and start a new chapter in their lives. And that’s what they’ve been doing.

It’s been a rough road, but Louis wouldn’t trade it for the world. He gets to wake up next to his husband every day, wrap him in his arms and tell him how much he loves him as many times as he wants. And he does. Louis tells Harry until he’s blue in the face.

Louis kisses Harry again, this time deepening the kiss, wanting to take his mind off the dreams and replace it with something good. He ends up on top of Harry, grinding down on him, leaving them both breathless.

“Do you think we have time for a quickie before our appointment?” Louis asks.

Harry hums. “We can be late I don’t care,” he moves to close the distance between them again but Louis puts his hand on Harry’s chest to stop him.

“Harold, we can’t be late to meet our potential surrogate. That’s just plain rude.”

Instead of saying anything, Harry grins and rolls them over so that he’s on top instead. He rolls his hips in just the right way he knows Louis loves. That bastard.

Louis sighs. “Fine, but if we get in trouble I’m kicking you in the balls.”

Harry laughs, bad dream long forgotten and goes in for another kiss, this time nibbling on Louis’ bottom lip before pulling away.

“Deal.”