Nick: Hiya Harry! This is Nick, the other number is Louis
Louis: Hello [nerd emoji]
Harry: Hi [waving emoji]
Nick: We should… meet?
Louis: Where are you located, Harry? Are you in London?
Harry: I mean I live in Manchester normally but I’m in London for university. UCL
Louis: Smart lad
Nick: I never even graduated you know
Yes you did
Nick: You’re too kind
Louis: I didn’t even start so you’ve both got me beat
We’ve nabbed ourselves a smart one then
Nick: Oh fuck I’ve been too forward SORRY HARRY please don’t block us
Harry: I wouldn’t!!!!
Louis: You’ve scared him
Nick: I’M SORRY
Louis: Harry, how would you feel about meeting up? Introducing ourselves in person?
I could do that
Harry: not to be inconvenient but can it be in public?
Harry: I know you guys are famous and all but my mum would kill me if she ever found out I went to someone’s house before I knew them
Nick: Of course! Safety first and all that
Louis: It couldn’t be, like, a coffee shop. But we know a few good restaurants. Could get a reservation for tomorrow night?
Nick: Not tonight?
Louis: Maybe don’t scare him off right away
Harry: I can do tomorrow! [hands raised emoji]
Louis: I’ll find somewhere and text you the address, yeah?
Nick: text me the address too!
Louis: We live together
Nick: [sad face emoji]
Louis: We’ll see you tomorrow, Harry! And it’s great to meet you!
Harry’s fallen down a rabbit hole.
He didn’t mean to! It’s just that now he has a chat on his phone with his two famous soulmates whom he’s never met and he is apparently the only person in the world who doesn’t follow Louis on twitter judging by his follower number and he just wanted to be prepared for when he meets them, is all.
But now he’s sitting in his morning lecture and is paying absolutely zero attention. Instead, he’s got his laptop up and about fifty tabs open to news articles on Nick and Louis. He feels like he really shouldn’t be — it’s like googling your symptoms, isn’t it? But he just can’t stop. The further down the Google News page he goes, the more sucked in he becomes.
Starting with Nick, it hadn’t seemed too bad;
NICK GRIMSHAW AND LOUIS TOMLINSON SEEN LEAVING GUCCI AFTERPARTY
NICK GRIMSHAW LAUNCHES NEW CLOTHING LINE
RUMOR: NICK GRIMSHAW IN TALKS TO HOST NEW VARIETY SHOW
NICK GRIMSHAW SEEN PARTYING WITH STAR STUDDED CAST
TWENTY HOTTEST NON-CELEBS
UNLUCKY IN LOVE FOR NICK GRIMSHAW? LOUIS TOMLINSON SEEN PARTYING WHILE HUSBAND IN SPAIN
But then when he switched over to Louis’ feed…
RUMOR: LOUIS TOMLINSON FIGHTS WITH RECORD LABEL
LOUIS TOMLINSON SEEN PARTYING WITH MYSTERY BRUNETTE. CHEATING ON NICK GRIMSHAW?
LOUIS TOMLINSON KICKED OUT OF CLUB, DRUNKEN BRAWL?
VIDEO: LOUIS TOMLINSON YELLS AT OMEGA FAN, MAKES HER CRY
LOUIS TOMLINSON THROWS HIS DINNER AT FANS
LOUIS TOMLINSON SEEN DRUNK AT CLUB, DANCING WITH MYSTERY BLONDE
MEANEST CELEBS TOP 10 LIST
CELEBS YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO ASK FOR A SELFIE
LOUIS TOMLINSON SICK IN AIRPORT. ALCOHOL PROBLEMS FOR POP STAR?
The pit of Harry’s stomach seems to have disappeared. This is the alpha tattooed on his skin?
When the professor dismisses them (Harry only notices because of the general migration of students going on around him), he slips his laptop into his bag and walks out in a daze, his mind a swirling muck of thoughts and confusion.
He only skimmed most of the articles, but the more he read the more anxious he became. Those articles didn’t paint a picture of a loving alpha, of someone he could depend on and trust for the rest of his life. They looked more like the bad boy alpha in movies that the omega starts with before they learn to love themselves.
The sun is shining bright outside his lecture building, and as Harry walks on autopilot toward the library (as he doesn’t have another class for an hour and a half), he pulls out his phone and texts the only person he can think of.
Harry: Send help I’m freaking out
Christ you’re needy lately
Niall: Your omega’s showing
Harry: Fuck you pls meet me in the library cafe
He grabs a sandwich and tea from the overpriced cafe and drops his stuff at one of the tables, shedding his coat and scarf before collapsing into a chair. His fingers twitch with the despite to get out his laptop and go back to the newsfeed, but he resists, grabbing the mug of tea instead and leaning over it like it’ll absorb through the steam into his skin.
“You’re really doing the omega mood swings thing, huh?”
“You’re really bad at being a reassuring alpha, huh?” Harry answers without looking up.
Niall plonks down across from him and grabs a packet of crisps out of his bag. “Touché,’ he says, tearing it open and popping one in his mouth. “Alright, fill me in. This is about the loves of your life, yeah? You worried about living in too much luxury?”
Harry rolls his eyes and slides his laptop out of his bag, opening it and pushing it across the table.
Niall scans the screen, munching his crisps, then looks back up at Harry. “So what’s the issue?”
“Look,” Niall says, sliding the computer back to him. “I know you’re not big into celebrity culture - which, by the way, you’re majorly missing out because the drama is prime - but this looks pretty par for the course. The media will do anything for a story.”
Harry frowns at him.
“I’m not saying he’s an angel!” Niall says, holding up his hands. “I’m just saying the media shits on everyone. Meet him first, maybe. Plus, Nick’s stuck around him, right? He can’t be that bad.”
Harry continues to frown, reflecting on what he’s said. “Will you come over if I end up bailing ten minutes into this thing tomorrow?”
“For yet another omega mood swing?”
Harry reaches out and slaps his arm.
Niall rolls his eyes. “Yes, okay, fine.” He grins. “You know you can count on me. Until my soulmark appears, you’re my number one omega.”
“If your soulmate is a beta do I still get to be your number one omega?”
“Absolutely not. If my soulmate isn’t an omega, then both of us will go and find Rory McIlroy and convince him to make a non-soul triad with us.”
“Isn’t he married?”
“A quad, then. Quiad? Quuple?”
“You’re one to talk.”
Harry grabs the packet of crisps from Niall’s side of the table and chucks one at him.”
Louis once wrote a list of things that make him happy.
(This list was written while drunk and sitting in Nick’s lap, on a napkin wet with condensation).
The list went as follows:
Louis’ favourite things:
- Writing music
- Performing music
- Nick’s hands (big)
- Fans (the cool ones)
- Tea (Yorkshire)
- Vodka redbull
- People who aren’t assholes and don’t judge alphas who are smaller than their betas and happen to like sitting on their boyfriend’s lap.
He’d smushed the napkin into his pocket and forgotten about it until the next morning when it fell onto the floor while he was undressing. Reading it back, he’d laughed a little but also felt a pang in his chest, because drunk Louis so readily admitted what sober Louis didn’t like to think about. He’s small. He’s not ridiculously small, he’s actually the national average in height, but he’s a famous singer, and alphas who are famous singers are tall and manly and they’re supposed to engender every stereotype that exists out there about alphas (the good and the bad).
The fact that Louis isn’t always the stereotypical alpha, physically but also emotionally, meant that his management took it upon themselves to make him out to be what he’s not. To hide any soft edges he has and to broadcast anything that might fit better into what they’ve decided his “image” needs to be. It’s not a big deal. He doesn’t want to make it a big deal. His friends know who he is and that’s what counts.
But, he’s about to meet someone who’s outside of that circle of friends. Someone who could potentially become a mate, if nothing goes wrong. This person, this mysterious Harry, his opinion is important. And Louis is a bit scared.
He’s pacing the length of his recording studio, because hell if he’ll actually get any recording done today. He’s made a reservation for one of their regular restaurants, the ones where they have a nice and peaceful back exit without rubbish bins blocking the way that they have to squeeze through, and staff who know better than to run their mouths.
When he texted Harry the address, all he got back was a thank you! Not that louis thinks Harry should be blurting his entire life’s history over text, but there’s only so much he’s been able to find by stalking his instagram.
What he knows: Harry loves artistic photography. He likes to take ridiculously close up photos of mundane things, like grass and tea, and puts a lot of things in black and white. He also seems to be in an almost overwhelming number of clubs, by a cursory glance at his facebook (which is pretty locked down otherwise, Louis’ impressed).
But most importantly, out of all of that, Louis thinks he’s an omega. He’s not sure, it’s not directly stated anywhere, but he’s getting that feeling.
He keeps reaching up and putting his hand over his heart, tracing over the material of his shirt where he knows his new soulmark is.
“Louis, no offence, but do you want to get going?”
Louis stops in his tracks, glancing over at the sound booth. “Aw shit, I’m sorry Liam.”
Liam shrugs, leaning back in his chair. “You’re the one paying me, boss. I’m following your lead here.”
“Pretty sure my record label is paying you, actually.”
Liam laughs, a hearty laugh that looks so natural on his ruddy cheeks. “Whatever you say, I know who cooks my bacon.”
“I’m really sure that’s not the phrase you want.” Louis smiles. “But I might go home anyway. I have something big happening tonight.”
Liam waves him off. “You go ahead and get out of here,” he says. “Maybe I’ll work on mixing that one from last month, see if we can make it useable after all.”
Louis snorts. “Doubt it, but you’re welcome to try. Give my best to Zayn when you see him, yeah?”
Liam’s face lights up. “You got it! He’s taking me to Liverpool for the weekend, you know.”
“Only you guys would think that’s something to be excited about,” Louis says as he exits the room.
He texts his driver as he putters around gathering his things. It’s hours earlier than he normally leaves a recording session but that’s just how the day is going and he’s not one to fight it. Nick’s still at work (Louis saw the slew of disapproving messages yesterday that poured in from his team when he bunked off early), so Louis doesn’t really have anywhere to go in a hurry.
He wishes he did, really, because these thoughts might eat him alive soon. He’s so worried that Harry will already have a bad impression of him. What does he know? Is he a fan? Does he believe everything the press writes or is he the type to not even read articles? Maybe all he knows about Louis is his music, that wouldn’t be too bad.
When his driver texts him an affirmative, Louis takes the stairs and hops into the backseat, offering a quick greeting before unlocking his phone and texting Nick a string of nerd face emojis. Nick will figure it out. Probably.
He’s going to go home and pace around the house there instead of at the studio.
Louis’ hand is small, sweaty, and tightly gripped under Nick’s.
They’re in the back of the car, sitting and watching the scenery go by in silence, and if it weren’t for the fact that Nick can feel the way Louis’ hand is clenched, he might even assume that Louis was feeling rather nonchalant about the whole thing.
There are many ways in which Nick knows that the two of them are not the typical alpha/beta couple, but one of the ways that Nick is always reminded of what an alpha Louis is, is the way whenever he gets stressed, anxious, or any other sort of negative emotion, his response is to keep everything inside and try to hide it all. In some ways, it reminds Nick of his childhood cat, Gretchen, who would always hide if she got an injury fighting birds in the garden. He’s never told Louis that, of course, because Louis may not appreciate being compared to someone called Gretchen.
“Hey,” Nick says, leaning toward him. “We could give it a bit more time. If you need that. This did all happen very fast.”
Louis sucks in through his teeth. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he says. “He’s our soulmate.”
“Yeah,” Nick says, “But he’s also a soulmate we never expected to have, and usually it takes more than a few days to locate a soulmate. You haven’t exactly had a lot of time to decompress.”
“Decompress,” Louis scoffs. “Look at you and your fancy big words.”
Nick knows any bite that goes with Louis’ words isn’t directed at himself. He rubs his thumb over the knuckles of Louis’ hand.
“It’s better to get it over with, innit?” Louis continues. “I mean.” He pauses. But then he doesn’t continue.
Nick bends over and puts his nose in Louis’ neck. He doesn’t have the scenting capabilities of an alpha or omega, but inhaling Louis’ strong, blunt alpha scent of apple and cloves.
Louis lets out a deep sigh and slumps toward him, closing his eyes.
“He’ll be an idiot not to fall for you,” Nick says.
“For us,” Louis clarifies.
The car pulls up to the pavement and Nick and Louis make a quick exit, escaping a gentle drizzle to run under the awning of the rear door of the restaurant.
“Deep breath,” says Nick as he grabs the door handle.
“Deep breath,” Louis repeats, following the instruction.
Nick pulls open the door and they crowd inside, following down the dimly lit hallway to the host station.
The host, a petite woman named Natalie, greets them politely before taking them up the stairs to the second floor. “The other member of your party is already here,” she informs them, and Nick grabs for Louis’ hand.
It becomes clear which table she’s taking them to - the one in a less populated room with a single person at the table who’s been staring at them since they came up the stairway.
Harry smiles at them, and Nick takes in the nervous twitch of his lips, his wide eyes, his young face. He’s got his hair styled so that it curls straight up, and a dark blue shirt with white hearts that matches what looks like dark blue nail varnish on his hands that grip the menu.
Most obvious though is his omega scent, soft and warm hints of honeysuckle. Even as he’s taking a seat, Nick can smell it, and the anxiety that comes with it.
It’s a small circular table with a white linen tablecloth and three tea light candles floating in vases in the middle. Nick and Louis take their spots at the two empty chairs. When Natalie leaves them with their menus, Nick waves. “Hi, I’m Nick!”
Harry smiles, looking nervous. Definitely smelling nervous. “Hey,” he says, and Nick is startled for a moment at the tenor in his voice. “I’m Harry.”
“I’m Louis, of course,” Louis says. Harry turns and gives him a little wave too, twiddling his fingers. He seems to dim a little though, and Nick tenses.
“I’m afraid we’re at a disadvantage here,” Nick says, smiling at Harry. “Because, not to brag, but I am on the radio every day. My job is to make sure the whole world knows my business. You, on the other hand, have a very artistic instagram with very little information about yourself on it.”
“Whoops,” Harry says, laughing a little. “Sorry, um. Yeah. I mean. I don’t really know a lot about you guys either, if I’m honest. More of a Radio 2 kind of guy, really.”
Nick puts a hand to his heart. “You offend!” He says in mock indignation.
Louis laughs lightly from across the table. “You tell him!” he says. “Make sure his ego doesn’t get too big.”
A blush lightly colours Harry’s cheeks and Nick smiles. He feels proud of putting that there.
“I do hear you sometimes around campus though,” Harry says, looking at Nick obligingly. “Think you’re generally playing when I’m in the cantine.”
“Ah there we go,” Nick says. “That’s what I like to hear. Let’s all tell Nick how famous he is, yeah?”
“You’re full of yourself,” Louis says but Nick sees his smile. The playful friendly one that Louis always reserves just for him. He thinks about having to share that smile now, but pushes the thought out of his mind.
“You love me,” Nick clarifies just as Natalie returns to take their order.
Louis, as is expected for alphas to do, orders first. “Thai green chicken curry please.”
“And I’ll have the scottish beef burger,” Nick says, handing his menu over.
“Oh, uh,” Harry says when she turns to him. “I’ll have the thai curry too.”
“Certainly,” she says, taking their menus and departing.
Nick looks over at Harry. “Did actually look at the menu?” he asks, smiling.
Harry looks down. “I did,” he says. “Just forgot what it all said.” He looks up, eyes big, at Louis. “But you ordered the curry, so I thought it must be good, right?”
Louis smiles at him, that soft smile that makes Nick’s heart pang, and agrees. “I think so. But if you don’t like it, we can ask her to exchange it for something else.”
“Okay,” Harry says, in the voice of someone who definitely would never do any such thing.
“So, Harry,” Nick folds his hands together. “Not to be too forward here, but, am I correct in thinking you’re an omega?”
Louis coughs, probably out of surprise because, okay, there’s definitely more polite ways Nick could have asked.
Harry’s definitely red now, his ears especially. “Yeah,” he says. “I am. Sorry, do I smell?”
“Not at all!” Louis rushes, and then seems to backtrack. “Well, you smell like an omega, but it’s very nice smell.” He groans loudly and puts his hands to his face. “Not in a weird way, I mean.”
Nick laughs. “Oh look,” he says to Harry. “You embarrassed him!”
“I’m sorry!” Harry says, eyes wide. “Um, you smell good too!”
Louis puts his head down on the table and Nick laughs harder.
It’s not the easiest night of conversation, for sure, but with Nick trying his hardest to banter along as normal and ease the tension. They get through the basics - Harry’s a student at university studying anthropology, Nick does afternoons on Radio 1, and Louis writes music - by the time dinner is served.
Natalie brings their food and pours a white wine (Louis’ choice) for each of them. Harry eyes it warily.
“Not a fan?” asks Louis. “I can bring her back and get a red. Or beer.”
“I’m more of a red person, myself,” Nick offers up.
Harry takes a sip of it and puts it back down. “I like white,” he says. “I was just wondering if it tasted different because, you know, it’s ten times as expensive as any wine I’ve ever bought.”
Nick bursts out laughing. “That’s quite the callout!” he says. “Posh wine’s not really any different than regular, honestly.” He takes a sip of his own. “Just comes in a fancier looking bottle.”
Harry nods, taking another sip.
“Also,” Louis adds, “It’s a lot older. Could have been made by dead people.”
Harry snorts into his glass and has to put it down. His laugh is startlingly loud and Nick loves it.
“You’re not nearly as intimidating as I thought you would be,” he says, and Nick’s on edge again.
“Oh?” asks Louis, and Nick can see the way the mask goes up, the one that happens when he’s about to talk to someone who sees Popstar Louis and not Just Louis.
“Yeah,” Harry says, his hands moving about as he tries to get words together. “I mean like, I thought you were gonna be really scary, see,” he hangs on the word scary longer than necessary, “because, um-” At this point Harry seems to realise that he shouldn’t have gone down this road, but it’s too late for that.
“What?” Nick asks, turning to face Harry. “Are you trying to suggest something? Because-”
“Nick,” Louis cuts him off, hands bunched in his cloth napkin. “It’s- it’s fine-”
“No it’s not,” Nick says, frustrated. “I know the whole fucking media shits on you all day long but that doesn’t mean that people have to believe it when you’re so clearly the nicest and gentles fucking alpha I’ve ever met-”
“Nick, stop,” Louis snaps, and Nick does, because suddenly he can feel the way the air around Harry has shifted, his scent subtly shifting as tears spring to his eyes.
“Oh shit,” Nick says, eye wide. “Shit, no, I’m so sorry Harry. I didn’t mean to imply anything about you. I’m so sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”
Harry sniffs, resolutely looking down at the table and his half-eaten meal. “No,” he says. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ve…” he trails off.
“You’re fine,” Louis says, voice firm. “Really, it’s fine. I have… a complicated relationship with the media, and a lot of what they write about me isn’t strictly true. But I can’t expect everyone to come to the correct conclusions, even as much as Nick here seems to think it’s possible.” He shoots a smile at Nick that Nick interprets as I love you, but shush. “But seriously. We’re strangers, and we’re in a strange situation. We can all admit that, can’t we? Triads aren’t a typical thing, and while I’m excited to get to know you, it’s asking a lot of you to get to know two people who are in the spotlight so much.”
Harry nods, wiping at his eyes. Nick feels like shit. “It’s really, I mean, any relationship would be tough, right? But I got lucky enough that you two didn’t reject me as soon as the soulmark appeared. That happens a lot, apparently, so I’m already doing pretty good, right?”
Oh, Nick wants to hug him so bad. “We would never have done that,” he says. “I’m sorry. I’ve spent a long time seeing people who have the wrong idea about Louis and I’m… protective.”
“He babies me,” Louis says, speaking up.
“But I shouldn’t have judged you,” Nick continues. “I’m sorry, really. It’s a learning curve.”
“But hey,” Louis adds. “I’ve got a rope in a knot across my heart so I think I’ve got a good feeling about all this, yeah?”
“Across your heart?” Harry asks, eyes lighting up. “Could I- can I see?”
“Yeah, of course,” Louis says. He looks around (the few others in the room are far away and paying no attention) and then pulls his shirt down low enough that the mark is visible.
Harry looks transfixed at the mark. “Wow,” he breathes. “That’s me.” Nick feels hot under the collar - both because that’s where his own new mark sits and because collared shirts are terribly stifling.
“Yours are a little big to show off here,” he jokes.
“Yeah,” Harry agrees. “And they show through my favourite Rolling Stones shirt.”
“Nick here’s had to wear a shirt with a collar to hide his,” Louis says.
“I wasn’t made for this much clothing,” Nick jokes.
“Oh,” Harry says, turning to him. “I… I’m sorry mine is so obvious.”
Nick pulls down the collar of his shirt so Harry can see. “It’s not your fault, don’t be silly. We just wanted to keep this between the three of us until you’re sure you want it to be a known thing. Of course everyone knows Louis and I have been together, but once this gets out you might get thrust into the spotlight online rather fast.”
Harry nods, looking serious.
“But we don’t expect an answer tonight,” Louis clarifies. “Just maybe, a promise of a second date?”
“This was a date?” Harry asks, voice growing high.
“Or… meet-up?” Louis tries.
“I- It could be a date!” Harry plays with his fingers. “I just would have dressed better, is all!”
Nick and Louis both laugh and this time when Harry blushes it seems like a good thing. “How about a first date next time?” Nick asks.
“Sure,” Harry says, a tentative smile on his face.
It’s a get-to-know-you sort of dinner as they finish eating, and the more Nick watches both Louis and Harry the more he thinks maybe, possibly, this could really work.
Later that night, after they’ve given Harry a lift home (he sat in the front seat with the driver so as to not be too close too fast), when Nick and Louis are draped over one another in bed, Louis buries his face in Nick’s neck and Nick thinks about what life would be like, the three of them.
He wonders if it’s possible. He hopes it is.