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Alone Apart, Alone Together

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It’s been one of those months. Where things are busy and go by in a flash, but in the background is an unrelenting gentle ache. Like something is missing. Or someone. Like the colors of the world are a bit more dull. And jokes are slightly less funny. And smiles fade from your face a little more quickly.

It’s not one of those really hard periods. When it’s so bad that everywhere you look you see the face of the person you miss. It’s just.

Lonely.

The kind of lonely where it feels like you’re constantly seeking, waiting, anticipating something, but never seeming to find it.

So it’s easy for Harry to sit on his couch by himself. To stay in, though he could go out, and most certainly not be alone. It’s easy for him to check his phone 80 times in an hour, and be disappointed with every glance there isn’t a new message notification.

It’s on the 81st time that he lets out a huff, flips his phone face down, and tosses it onto the couch. He stands and makes his way to the kitchen. Not for any particular reason, except to move, and try to discharge some of the agitated energy that has taken over his body. Though he's restless, it's a slow walk. A slouched, shuffling amble. As if he has resigned himself to enduring this simple suffering.

After finding nothing in the too-bright fridge to soothe the internal static, he makes his way back to the living room and plants himself exactly into the spot he was in two minutes ago. Shirtless, back against the couch, feet on the coffee table, and phone in hand. And he is disappointed for the 82nd time in an hour that there isn’t a message waiting for him.

He rolls his eyes at himself, his eagerness feeling a little pathetic. He could literally go out and get anyone. Occupy himself. Find a shiny, temporary distraction to briefly defy the void. He’s not a teenager anymore. So why does he still only want the one thing, the one person, he can’t easily have? The mild shame just intensifies the aching. He's selfish, he knows.

Harry knows Louis is run ragged, trying to keep up with recording, and all of the family obligations and responsibilities he takes on so earnestly. Minutes, hours, days, weeks slip by in barely a blink. Logically, it makes sense that there isn't enough time to be together. Love takes time. Relationships take time.

He also knows Louis doesn't do well when he feels caged in, and Harry doesn't want to be a cage. They both have enough of that feeling without doing it to each other. He just wants to be the one Louis loves. But he accepts that other people need Louis more, and see him more, and touch him more.

It’s not like Harry is jealous. Not really. They both have their own lives. He sometimes misses the days when they were completely inseparable. Even misses the days when they were pining for each other on the same floor of the same hotel, only separated by walls and hurt feelings. At least they were on the same continent.

But that's not where they are now. They're older. Maybe wiser. Certainly more lonely. Or, at least, lonely in different ways. Ways that feel easier to tolerate, but harder to reconcile.

Harry has steeled himself against the urge to initiate conversations with Louis, though he thinks about it every day. He still fights the instinct to turn to Louis with every thought, pout, or witty remark, even when they're not in the same place very often anymore. They are in contact. They check in. They chat. Sometimes they give in to the lust and yearning.

They've stopped trying to define what they are to each other at this point, for a lot of reasons. And in this iteration of their relationship, Harry really needs Louis to be the one to reach out first. He’s told him as much, so it’s not some self-fulfilling disappointment cycle. But the need to juggle time zones, on top of everything else, means their schedules don't always line up that well.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how steeled Harry is, though. Sometimes he decides not to resist, and to reach out to Louis first anyway.

This feels like one of those times.

So. He shrugs, says Oops to himself with half a smile, and hits send.

H: Hi

A minute passes. He stares unblinking at his screen with bunched eyebrows, lip firmly grasped between his thumb and forefinger, trying to will a response to appear. Harry’s blood pressure spikes every time he sends a message, but more so when it’s to Louis. Those first few moments of anticipation, waiting to see if he’s available. If he’ll respond immediately. Or if it will be an agonizing wait and slow decent into grumbling petulance.

Harry’s about to give up staring and go back to moping, when he sees the dots pop up on his screen, indicating Louis is typing back.

L: Alright, love?

Harry feels a punch of adrenaline. And a pang of guilt. Louis responding with genuine care makes him a bit squirmy. Especially because he perceives it as such a self-indulgent act to have messaged him in the first place. It’s been a few days since they last checked in. Harry knows that means Louis hasn’t had many, if any, minutes to himself.

H: Yeah. You?
L: Yeah knackered

Harry hesitates. What he says next is probably going to determine how the entire conversation proceeds. What rabbit hole are they going to go down? If Louis is feeling good, Harry doesn’t want his angst to be contagious.

Fuck it.

H: I miss you.
L: Miss you too darling
H: How much?

Harry doesn’t know how, but he feels a shift as he waits for the response. A thickness to the air. It’s like there is energy, a spark, flowing between them, even thousands of miles apart. He didn’t necessarily mean it to sound sexual. He didn’t not mean it that way. He was going to leave it up to Louis’s interpretation.

L: Enough that I am getting myself off to the thought of you on your knees, choking me down.

Well then.

Harry’s stomach clutches in a twisting plummet, the wash of arousal feeling like a cataclysmic relief. He hadn't sensed the rigidness in his frame until it was suddenly gone. He finally takes his first breath in what seems like minutes, an audibly shaky sigh.

H: I want that
L: Yeah? My hands in your hair, riding your face?

Harry's eyes sink closed. They’ve done this plenty of times. He wasn’t expecting it today. He didn’t think they'd get to speak at all, and now, how quickly and resolutely they’re grasping for these brief moments of connection and knowing pursuit. It's welcome, and exciting. Part of his mind is trying to scream out that it means something. About him and about them. He doesn't want to stop and acknowledge that right now. Even though he has some recognition it's radiating from the same place as that lonely ache.

H: Mmmm
L: You like that thought baby?
H: fuck Lou, want you so bad

Each message is further igniting a hazy, deep-rooted desperation in Harry. One that lives at his core, and that he very actively tries to keep out of his conscious awareness. Because it hurts and can be overwhelming. It feels like it follows him all the time, once in a while catching his peripheral vision, only for him to quickly turn his head and decidedly Not Look. He has another brief window into his psyche, wondering how much he survives through avoidance. Despite that, he gives in to the charge now, allowing the heat to swirl and pool, shivers tumbling down his center.

H: Are you touching yourself?
L: Yeah

Harry can see it. He knows exactly how Louis likes to pull and build up pressure and speed, breathing heavier and heavier until he crumbles. Doubling over with a strangled cry, orgasm rolling through him like a crashing tidal wave. Harry lets his hand fall to his abdomen and snake down to his package, not moving, just letting himself feel the pressure. Humming at the visions of Louis, and the dizzying rush of desire.

L: Are you? Where are you baby? I want to see you.
H: Mmhm. House. Couch.
L: I want to see you

He debates. He could snap a photo. He knows they both like visuals, and that's what Louis is asking for. His disheveled craving would be so apparent, it makes his middle knot again at the idea of Louis seeing him like this.

There is a different possibility toying at the back of his mind, though.

H: What do you want to see?

He wants to hear Louis say it. To be reminded Louis thinks of him, wants him. That they both enjoy this heady grip of attraction. But he’s really just buying time. Harry scrolls through his phone, opens the needed app, and then flips back to his text thread with Louis. He thumbs his way up to earlier dates, skimming photos and messages they'd sent back and forth, and locating exactly the one he wants from a few months ago. It was hot. He reads over the lines, which describe in vivid detail (and nonsensical onomatopoeias) the primal things they want to do to each other. Naked. Begging. Cumming on command.

Mmm. Yes, daddy. Please.

As Harry reads, he feels himself getting even harder, throbbing with an ache he can appreciate so much more than the one that's been shadowing him. He unbuttons his trousers and inches his pants down to his knees. His cock bobs heavy, curving up toward his stomach. He thumbs through the pearl of precum and begins lightly stroking his length, a raw and guttural sound hissing from his vocal chords.

He intensifies his hold, and he gets loud. With each tug he is panting, sighing, heaving out Louis’s name, pleading for more as if he were there. He glances back down to the image in front of him that Louis had previously sent. On all fours, bending around to the side so he could capture his ass and thick cock in the same shot. Red and blotchy. Sweaty. Gorgeously wrecked.

Just then another message pops up on Harry’s screen.

L: Want to see taking every inch. Want to see my cum dripping from your red, fucked lips

Harry grunts again, his husky breath quickening. Though he usually likes to luxuriate in the flirting chase, bask in the glow of attention, and hold on to these moments for as long as possible, for his plan to work he needs to finish quickly. He keeps pumping his fist and starts to feel the familiar tugging in his belly, the tightening of muscles, perspiration beading down his spine.

Louis, Louis, Louis, fuck me. Louis. Please, please let me cum.

If he had more time, he’d slick up his fingers and let them slide into his tight ring of puckered flesh. Instead, he shoves a few in his mouth, sucking sloppy and obscene, trying to get them as deep as Louis's cock would be. He moans around his fingers and hollows out his cheeks so when he lets them fall from his mouth it makes a loud pop. He’s moving his wrist faster and rougher, frantic, gruff, wet noises filling the room. He keeps twisting at the tip, just like Louis does when he’s riling him up before they fuck.

Fuck, Louis. Want you in me. Please. Please, daddy, I need it.

With one last pull, his hips sink into the couch before lurching forward. His vision whites out and his body contracts as he finally feels the release. His load spreads across his torso, as a sobbing sigh rattles through him. He tries to take measured breaths, mewing Louis’s name with each one, as he strokes himself through the come down.

L: SAY SOMETHING

Harry hears his phone ding and lets out a wispy little chuckle when he sees the message. He knew this would be a good idea. He scrolls back to the app he had opened, and saves the file. He doesn’t say anything to Louis, just loads the attachment and hits send.

A moment later his phone lights up again.

L: oh my god
L: oh my god fuck
L: baby
L: Harry
L: You’re going to make me cum right here

Harry knows Louis is listening to the sounds of him getting off just minutes ago. The cries, the moans. His name over and over, a chanted prayer. It makes his dick twitch again to think about Louis realizing what the audio clip was, and imagine him immediately picking up the pace of his hand at Harry's filthy utterances.

Knowing Louis is working himself, Harry runs his fingers through the cum on his belly, gathering up enough to be visible. He lifts them to his mouth and opens his camera, snapping a pic with his wet fingers on his lips, and another with them his mouth, sucking them clean. He sends both photos to Louis in rapid succession.

L: fffuuk
L: so hot baby

Harry whimpers a little, wishing he could see, hear, taste, touch this boy.

H: Your turn to come.

Exactly 47 seconds later (Harry counted), he gets a photo back from Louis. Lying on his bed, naked. His eyes closed, and mouth parted, hand on his cock, with a long stream of cum on his chest.

Harry is hard again immediately. So quickly, it’s almost painful, amplifying the sensitivity of his feverish climax just minutes ago. Distracted by his dick, he doesn’t even think before he types.

H: You’re so beautiful.

He smiles, shaking his head lightly, trying to reorient and let the drunkenness of arousal dissipate. He sits up to grab some tissues and clean himself off when his phone dings again.

L: Me? You . Those pretty sounds. And those lips. Christ, Harold . I lasted about three seconds

Harry’s skin tingles at the compliment, and his stomach does another weak flip, only muted by his stated exhaustion. He knows what he wants to say. I love you. I miss you. When will I see you? I can’t wait until then. But he knows when they say those types of things they both usually end up feeling a little more sad. A little more lonely. Because of the distance, and the complications, and the loose definitions, and the unspecified timelines, and the constant yearning, and the enormity of the bond they share, across years, and oceans, and heartbreaks.

L: Love you, H. Want to see you soon.

Harry puffs out a deep lungful of air. A smile spreads, splitting his face. His head and chest go warm, the syrupy, melty feeling of his orgasm, combined with the sweet declarations he was just denying himself now lighting up his screen.

He’s grateful when Louis is brave like this and says it first. When they can name how they feel without it being a thing. Without it becoming its own baggage to be carried, dumped, maneuvered, and negotiated. The freedom of unencumbered truth.

H: Love you, Lou.

He can’t help but blush a little at the same time he feels another jolt through his cock.

L: Want to go again?

Harry wheezes a giggle as he rolls over to his side, hiding his smile from the empty room. He lets himself sink into this visceral and silly reminder that they're somehow still LouisAndHarry.

Really, he knows Louis is a sap, too. That their cocks both respond enthusiastically in moments when they acknowledge their enduring feelings for each other. Usually they deny it. Cross their legs, or fold their hands in their laps to hide it. But it doesn’t matter in these moments when they’re alone. Alone apart, and alone together. And they’re still young, so they might as well take advantage while they can.

H: whadayathink?
L: Facetime though yeah?? Want you in real time.