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pas de deux

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Louis phone has blown up while he was sleeping, and he scrunches his eyes shut before scrolling through his notifications. From the tone of the messages it seems nothing serious was behind people reaching out to him. No, there's plenty of playful emojis and 'hahahah's riddling his notifications. Louis knows what that means.

Just Grimshaw talking smack about him on air again, getting the peanut gallery excited for a possible brawl, the texts and tweets and instagram messages Louis has gotten all egging him on to respond.

Louis grunts and rolls his eyes. It’s not ideal, this bizarre pas-de-deux that he and Nick are doing. To everyone else the two share a mutual distaste for each other, clever hotheads who enjoy the sparring and sharp banter. But Louis knows what Nick is doing. He’s trying to get Louis’ attention.

Yes, that way.

Nick’d told Louis it was exactly what he was doing a few months ago at a Brits after party. “My favourite Doncaster celebrity ambassador,” Nick had said, arm easily circling Louis’ shoulders. He pulled Louis into his chest as if bragging about his height advantage.

Louis hadn’t gotten a chance to respond with his face pressed against Nick’s open shirt. His perfume is strong and woodsy. Cerf Blanc, Louis knows, because Nick has talked about his love for it on his show.

(Yes, so what if Louis listens to him from time to time? It doesn’t mean anything.)

Louis hadn’t thought he’d enjoy the smell so much though, bracing himself against Nick’s chest to push away again. “Still haven’t gotten the key to Oldham?” Louis asked, flicking his fringe out of his eyes.

“I’ve got no use for a key, love, unless it’s to your heart,” Nick said, finger pointed against Louis’ chest. As if commanding Louis’ heart to beat faster.

Louis narrowed his eyes, too used to Nick’s jeers to take him seriously.

“Oh,” Nick’s face fell. He tilted his head up, chest opening as he rolled his shoulders back. “You think I’m having a laugh.”

Louis swept the rest of his beer, eyebrows raised. Nick’s eyes didn’t stray from Louis’ face. He was still unbearable close, his breath sweet from the liquor he’d been drinking. Mouth red, tongue peeking out of his mouth with every word.

“I’m dead serious.” Nick patted Louis’ shoulder, said, “You’ve got my number, Louis.”

Louis hadn’t believed Nick at first. But the way he’d said his name was charged, and Louis recognized the tone every time Nick spoke about him on air.

Inadvertently, Louis was paying attention to Nick more than before, a mawing inside of his chest wanting to hear what Nick had to say next about him.

Once, Nick alerted PETA to Louis’ dislike of avocados, saying they might want to get involved and educated fans that would turn their backs on the vegetable because of him.

Louis could picture Nick’s face as he would say it, the way his mouth would pull to the side just as it’d done when he’d spoken to Louis in person. It was childish, it was immature, it was juvenile but--

But it was working.

Despite the differences between them and Nick’s unfortunate habit of oversharing and poking the bear for controversy’s sake Louis couldn’t forget his tone, his physical presence when he’d made it clear he was actually interested in Louis.

Which leaves Louis eager to hear what Nick has said just now, just hours ago, a tiny flutter of anticipation at Grimshaw thinking about him.

It’s easy enough to find the clip, and Louis listens to it.

What’s new, Grimmy?” Annie asks, a leading question of Louis’ has ever heard one.

Louis can practically hear the smirk in Nick’s voice as he responds, “I got one of those little news blurbs pushed to me, you know those, yeah? This headline reads, ‘Prince Louis steals show with clapping and waving’ and I’ve got to sit and ask which Louis they’re talking about.”

“The prince, they said so.”

“Right but was this about the actual prince or is this a fan article for friend-of-the-show, Louis Tomlinson?”

“Good question, that. D’you know?”

“No clue yet, maybe some kind listeners can fill me in. We can put up a Twitter poll. Which Louis is most likely to stun the crowd? I think we’d like to know the answer to that,” Nick signs off before the beats of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ filters through the airwaves.

Right.

Louis laughs, stifling the sound into his fist. Nick is absolutely ridiculous, but two can play. He quickly composes a tweet and fires it off.

It’s the first time Louis wades into the banter with Nick publicly, and he’s somewhat eager to see what will come of it. A date, perhaps? He bit his lip at the thought.

Louis refreshes his feed, replies filled with question marks pouring in.

Except from Nick who instead just tweeted,

 

Louis favourites the tweet and sends Nick a message, tongue pressed against the back of his teeth. surprised you knew what that word meant, perhaps we do share some common ground after all?

Louis tries to picture the smirk on Nick’s face when hearing from Louis. Louis hebites his lip, clasping his phone tightly as he prepares himself to hear from Nick, ready to verbally spar for a bit.

He expects to hear from Nick quickly; he’s never had an issue thinking on his feet when it comes to teasing Louis, but nothing comes. Not even after Louis’ message has been marked as sent.

It’s frustrating to say the least, and Louis is starting to wonder whether he’s been played for a fool. Perhaps Nick was winding him up all along, waiting for Louis to slip up and give Nick leverage…

Louis just can’t think of why he hasn’t heard from Nick yet.

-

The next morning there is a text waiting from Nick, one that leaves Louis blinking at his phone, wondering if he’s still asleep, or hallucinating or has developed an acute case of dyslexia because Nick’s message doesn’t make any sense.

Was Nick pretending like Louis had sent him to the clinker because of Nick’s tasteless royalty joke? Because it wasn’t funny, and it felt like he was making Louis the butt of the joke for finally engaging publicly.

Louis doesn’t think before responding, I know it’s not a crime to mock royalty, dickhead

He pockets his phone, not wanting to see any excuses Nick comes up with. He can deal, and does enjoy a good banter session but he won’t be ridiculed.

Oli is already in the kitchen, eating Louis out of house and home with three boxes of cereal in front of him. At least there’s a fresh pot of coffee waiting for him.

“Harry’s in the news again,” Oli said, mouth still full. Louis shrugged. After Nick’s shitty excuse he wasn’t in the mood for Oli insisted, “This is a good one, trust me.”

“Headline?” Louis prompted in a deadpan. The coffee is perfect and he closes his eyes, trying to ground himself.

“‘Styles’ Spider Saga: Where Do Lost Spiders Go?’”

That isn’t what Louis was expecting.

“Gimme that,” Louis says, gesturing to Oli’s phone. He hands it over and Louis quickly scrolls to the meat of the text.

Harry Styles and Nicholas Grimshaw may have a lot of ‘History’ but that all flew out the window last night when Grimshaw, 34, was apprehended on suspicion of kidnapping Styles’ pet arachnid, Bukowski.

“What the fuck,” Louis muttered to himself, grimacing at the insert close up of the spider. Was that really necessary? He scanned the rest of the article, which read more like a puff piece for Harry than anything else. Something about how a new employee of his didn’t realize Nick was supposed to watch the spider and had reported him to the police after he’d tweeted about being in trouble.

Which, he’d only done because Louis had poked fun at him, really. Louis bites back a smile, shaking his head. Perhaps he owes Nick an apology beer after all.