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there's always time for second guesses

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Everything in Louis' recent life feels like an absolute dream. He had never imagined that he'd even get through to bootcamp. When he'd not been let through he was sure that was it. He could probably get his Toys 'R' Us gig back and play little shows around home. Maybe he could work on becoming famous on Youtube. But then they got called back and he'd been put in a band, and it had been absolutely mad. He might not have accepted - afraid to allow four other futures depend upon his debatable talent - but they had all accepted so easily and had so much faith that the five of them together could do this. He had no choice but to go along with it.

It almost feels like they've got no chance at making it to make it past judges houses, especially when Louis goes and lands himself in hospital. He's starting to think maybe he's cursed, maybe his being allowed into the band was a fluke and the others are meant to go on without him. He doesn't even like boy bands, so how could he possibly be in a successful one?

But he makes it back in time and they make it through, and when Simon says yes Louis waits to wake up. He waits for it all to sort of end in a burst or a crash, like coming down from a night out with the lads. But it doesn't. Louis has never felt more welcomed before, never felt more sure that this is what he wants, definitely never felt like he has a shot at making it. It's the strangest and most exciting feeling in the world.

And then Louis meets Nick Grimshaw.


The week has been long and exhausting but absolutely worth it. Louis still feels a bit like he's just sort of there; he knows he's not quite as good as the others and he's got to work that much harder to keep up, but he wants this more than anyone ever could (except for maybe the rest of his band - his band).

After the first live show he's a ball of energy. The entire week he's been a little restrained, trying to keep his mind focused on the song and the choreography and not messing it up for the others, but now that the performance is done he feels like he could do anything he wants. He could probably jump off a building and land on his feet or fly a plane. Mostly he just wants to celebrate.

Nick and Caroline catch them just as they're thinking about heading back to the house, and this is kind of the part that Louis hates. He doesn't hate Nick or Caroline, but he's bad with interviews, bad with sitting still for long enough to focus on the person asking the questions. His mind is a little too all over the place for it.

He manages to mostly stand in the background and pinch the backs of Liam's thighs while Liam tries to concentrate but then he hears his name tagged on to the end of a question. The problem is he has no idea what Nick's just asked him. He tries not to look too surprised that his plan to hang out in the background has failed. “I'm sorry, could you repeat that. I was distracted by your hair.”

Nick to his credit doesn't seem as irritated as some people do when Louis is ignoring them and instead just goes with it. “I was just saying how quiet you are. Is the pressure of live shows getting to you yet?” There's a level of humor in his tone. Everyone already knows that Louis is loud and boisterous and a little bit all over the place. When he's calm and quiet, that's when there's something to worry about.

“I wouldn't say that, no.” Louis pushes himself up onto Liam's back. He can tell Liam wants to shrug him off; he's still not used to Louis being such a tactile person. It's easy to tell Liam's never had the kind of friends that show affection like this, but that just makes Louis all the more excited to poke him like a bear. “It's a bit surreal that I'm here, if I'm honest.”

“Fair enough,” Nick says. He asks the group another question and Louis zones back out, concentrating on holding his arms around Liam so he doesn't fall as Liam tries to shrug him off. When he focuses again, Caroline is asking a question and Harry is trying to pretend not to stare at her boobs. Louis almost makes a comment about how obvious he's being but instead hops off Liam's back and pushes in to kiss Harry on the cheek, mid response.

All in all the interview seems to go okay. Louis is starting to think maybe he can do this.


It's the final rehearsal for week three and Louis can see Nick and Caroline standing off stage, whispering to each other. He's talked to the lads about how mad this all is, that people are talking about them and coming to see them. It's exciting and a little scary. Mostly exciting.

They finish up in time for the next act to be called on and Harry is the first one off stage. Louis has a theory that last week's illness was a plot to get sympathy from Caroline, but Harry denies it. Louis isn't sure he believes him.

“Interesting song choice,” Nick says, grinning directly at Louis. “About time you went for a boring slow song.”

“Our adoring public demands it,” Louis says. Harry's already chatting up Caroline. “Are you two actually working or are you just spying on the rehearsals?”

“Spying on rehearsals mostly. Flacky insisted we come watch you, as she thinks someone is quite adorable. I won't name names.” Just as he says it Caroline laughs at something Harry says – something Louis is sure can't possibly be that funny.

“Someone,” Louis repeats. “Understandable. Our Harry is quite the charmer with the ladies.”

“Some of the lads too, I'd wager.” Nick winks at Louis, or Louis thinks Nick winks at him anyway. He can't be quite sure. It's possible he has something in his eye. Louis must pause for a little too long because Nick sucks in a breath. “Anyway, I suppose you have a busy schedule of talking to adoring fans. I'll pull Cazza off your boy.” He goes over and whispers something in Caroline's ear and she nods before waving at Harry.

Harry goes over to Louis and hooks his chin on Louis' shoulder. “What were you and Grimmy talking about?”

“Life, love, the usual really.”

“I think I'm in love,” Harry says, staring dreamily after Caroline.

“Of course you are, Hazza.” Louis pats his hair. “Come on. I think we can go sit in the audience and watch Mary if we hurry.”


Louis is lying stretched out on the sofa listening to some of the other contestants in the kitchen. Someone's hair straighenter has gone missing. Someone else might've broken it. He's not really sure because the fight isn't loud enough for him to make out the entire conversation. He wishes it were; it's more interesting than whatever's on TV.

Harry comes over and grabs his arm, pulling it up. “We're going out.”

“Where are we going?” Louis asks, but he gets up anyway. Hanging around the house during off times is boring, even though there isn't a whole lot of down time. He'd rather be doing something.

“Out.” Harry grins, a bit evilly and they duck out of the house while no one is looking. Outside, there's a car waiting at the corner and Harry slides into the backseat. “You get shotgun, Lou.”

Louis slides in the front seat, next to an amused looking Nick Grimshaw. “So, he did convince you to come out with us.”

In the back, Harry's whispering to Caroline and he's well on his way to charming her out of her dress. Louis feels like he probably shouldn't be watching, so he turns to face the front. Nick is still smirking at him as he drives off.

Louis is a chatty person. He loves to talk; mostly he loves to be the center of attention. The problem is that Nick Grimshaw loves exactly the same thing, and it's always a bit weird to be the one who can't get a word in. It doesn't help that they're both trying to ignore whatever's going on in the backseat.

Nick parks the car at a pub and everyone gets out, Harry and Caroline leading the way inside. “Don't know why they both insisted on not hanging out alone. I presume they're trying to keep up the illusion that this isn't some sort of bizarre mating ritual.

“But we know the truth,” Louis says, falling into step with Nick. He slides into the booth across from Harry, letting Nick slide in next to him. “I wonder if they're even going to pay attention to us.”

“Probably not.” Nick grins. “Hey, sneak peek, what are you guys singing this week?”

“Haven't you been sneaking around at rehearsals again? Isn't that your specialty?” Louis taps his foot against the wall.

“Been busy this week. I've come up with a new feature for Xtra, and I think you'll be a fan.” He grins. “It involves prank calls.”

“You're speaking my language, Grimshaw. Who've you called so far?”

“Matt and I called Aiden. It was a bit awkward though. Neither one of them are particularly mischievous. Cher was good though; she helped me prank call Niall.”

“That was you? We were in the middle of rehearsals, arsehole.”

Nick just laughs. “I'm going to get drinks. Everyone want a pint?”

“Hazza isn't old enough.” Louis grins and Harry kicks him under the table. “It's not like she doesn't know how old you are, mate! The entire world knows now!” Harry's giving Louis a far dirtier look than Louis would have thought he was capable of, which only causes him to laugh harder.

When Nick comes back it's with three pints and a soda in a much smaller lidded kids cup. Louis has to cover his mouth to keep from losing it in the middle of the pub. Harry curses under his breath.

“I like you, Nick Grimshaw. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.” Nick smiles and Louis ignores the swooping feeling in the pit of his stomach and the way he feels just the slightest bit tingly all over.


By the time they get back to the house it's late enough that they have to sneak back in so as not to wake everyone up. Louis is more than a little bit drunk and it's quite hard to walk, so it ends up taking both Nick and Harry holding him up to get him inside quietly. He's not leaning into Nick on purpose. It's just he's so tall and commanding and it's instinct. Definitely instinct.

“Make sure he drinks water,” Nick says to Harry. “He's going to hate himself at rehearsals tomorrow. Be ready for it.”

“Don't get hungover,” Louis slurs, settling into Nick's chest as they stand in the door way.

Once they get Louis settled into Harry's bed (because Louis' is the top bunk and there's no way they can lift him), Harry disappears and he's left alone with Nick. “Of course you don't, Lou. Couldn't imagine it.” There's something in his voice that Louis drunkenly attributes to fondness, and his stomach does that swooping thing it's been doing all night. He thinks it's nausea. Food poisoning. Too much drink. Anything.

“Don't,” he mutters again and then he falls asleep. Later, Nick will tell Harry that he passed out, but Louis maintains that he was just tired.


The thing is, Nick starts coming around more and more after that. When Aiden gets voted off in week 6, Nick sneaks in after the show with a bottle of vodka. They huddle in Belle Amie's old room and drink it, while they go through each other's phones.

“Why do you have so many pictures of your dog?” Louis makes a face. “You have more pictures of your dog than I have of my friends.”

“My dog is lovely,” Nick grins. “And she has a name. It's Puppy.”

“Puppy is a stupid name for a dog.” He takes another swig straight from the bottle. “That dog is too cute for such a stupid name.”

Nick makes a face and snatches his phone away. “Well Louis is a stupid name for a person. It's just Lewis but you want to sound posh.”

“Hey! I didn't name me!” Louis shouts a little too loudly and then his shoulders shake and he starts giggling, pushing his face into Nick's shoulder. “Your dog is very cute. Puppy is a cute name. Maybe she can meet me. I bet she'd like me better.”

“Never,” Nick says. “If you want to meet Puppy you need to get a hair cut. This simply will not do. Something must be done about it.”

“What's wrong with my hair?”

Nick looks at him very seriously and slow-blinks before cracking up. “It looks like your mum put a bowl over your head and started snipping away.” Nick slides his fingers into Louis' hair and ruffles with it a bit. Louis absolutely does not push his head against Nick's hand before he pulls back and bats at his arm. Nick clears his throat. “Anyway, you should get it cut.”

“You're one to talk about haircuts, quiffy.”

“Hey! My hair's great!” Nick runs a hand through his hair, and Louis thinks yeah, it kind of is, but he definitely doesn't say this.

There's a brief lull in their conversation as they both drink from the bottle and then Louis slumps against Nick's side. “I really want to win.”

“Don't tell anyone I said this because I'm contractually obligated not to take sides, but I want you to win too.” He smiles and Louis can feel it against his hair because Nick has tilted his head down, and he can feel Nick's breath and it's kind of a lot. “I think you're going to. You and your boys deserve it.”

“I hope so.” Louis closes his eyes and sighs softly. “I'm afraid I'm bringing the others down. Like. Sometimes I just know that I'm not as good as them, that I'm just lucky that they needed a fifth person to throw in there.” He doesn't know why he's saying all of this to Nick of all people, why he's giving Nick that kind of power and information to use over him. He doesn't know Nick well enough to know if he'd use it on air or not.

“Don't be ridiculous. You're here for the same reasons they are. The judges liked you. Your boys need you, and you deserve this.” Louis feels Nick's fingers pressing against the hair that lays just at the nape of his neck, and he doesn't question it because he doesn't want Nick to move. “You've got this.”

“We've got this.” Louis rests against his side, and they fall into a comfortable sort of silence, with Nicks fingers massaging at the back of his neck. It's nice, and that swooping feeling won't go away now. It's there in his gut every time Nick is around. “It's late.”

“What? You have a curfew now?” Nick grins.

“Have a meeting with Uncle Simon in the morning to discuss next week's show. No rest for the wicked and all that.” He's quiet and a little nervous. “Aiden went home. No one thought Aiden was going home.”

“I know.”

“I don't want to go home.”

“I know.” And Nick doesn't tell him he won't, which might be because he's already done his best to do that, but Louis can't stop thinking that maybe it's because Nick knows that he can't promise that. No one can promise that.


They make it through week seven and then week eight they have to do two songs. It's more work, and it's harder, but it reinforces that this is what they all want. When they make it to the semi-finals they're greeted backstage by Nick and Caroline with hugs all around, and it could be in Louis' head that Nick hugs him just a little bit longer than the others, but he doesn't think it is.

Caroline whispers something in Harry's ear and Louis tries to ignore the way Harry stands a bit straighter. Nick and Caroline have to go interview the judges, but Nick tells Louis that he'll see him later. Louis has gotten to the point where he can't ignore that swooping feeling.

After the interviews and the mania they all go back to the house. It's weird now that it's nearly empty. It's just Cher, Mary, Rebecca, and Matt with them now, and everyone is almost too nervous to do much besides look at each other and bite their nails. Nick and Caroline sneak in after everyone's gone to bed and Harry and Caroline immediately disappear into an abandoned room. Louis takes Nick into Belle Amie's old room because that's sort of become their spot when Nick comes over.

Not that he comes over a lot just to bring Louis booze and junk food or anything.

They settle into one of the bottom bunks, their backs against the wall. Nick's long legs are pulled up with his knees against his chest and Louis sits cross-legged beside him.

“Do you think Haz is getting laid right now?” Louis says, just for something to say. “I reckon Haz is getting laid right now.”

“Don't talk about dear Flacky in that way,” Nick says, but he's smiling. “Hey, I brought vodka. I figure we need to celebrate your ascent into the semi-finals.” He pulls out a bottle and two glasses from his bag. “I told you that you'd make it.”

“You did. You did.” Louis sighs. “I hate admitting when you're right.”

Nick grins and pokes his arm. “Really? Because I love it.”

“Of course you do.” Louis pauses. “What if we lose though? Like. Rebecca and Matt are stiff competition. I'm convinced we can make it to the final but then. What if we lose?”

“Then you'll work hard and find another way, I reckon. You want it too bad to let it go because you lost some dumb competition.”

“This dumb competition pays your rent.”

“You know what I mean.” Nick smiles. “You'll be a big famous pop star, whether this all works out or not. I know you will be.”

“How do you know?”

“How do you not?” He says it like it's the most obvious thing in the world, and even though Louis knows it's a ridiculous mind game meant to distract him, he can't think of a single way to argue the point. “Hey. The world is going to love you. The country already loves you. You're kind of hard not to love.”

“I am stunning to look at,” Louis says, posing dramatically. “Drives the ladies mad.”

“And some of the lads, too,” he says, and Louis remembers him saying the same thing about Harry weeks and weeks ago. It seems like longer.

“Do you think?” Louis picks at a loose thread on his jeans. He's never actually kissed a bloke, but he's never really discounted the idea either. To be fair, he'd never considered it until Nick.

“I don't have to think. I know.” Louis sits up a little straighter and his head snaps up immediately. Nick looks a little bit like he wants to take back what he just said, which could have something to do with Louis looking as terrified as he feels. He's not terrified of Nick though, not really, or of the fact that Nick is a bloke. He's just terrified of the idea of something fancying him in the middle of all this madness and mania. “Should I not have said that?”

“No, it's okay. It's alright. It's – yeah.” Louis has a hard time imagining why anyone would put him through in a talent competition or put him in a band or cast him as the lead in a musical. He definitely has a hard time imagining why anyone would fancy him. He's loud and ridiculous and needs to constantly be the center of attention. He's a lot like Nick in that way, so he can't imagine why Nick wouldn't prefer someone who feels confident enough to give that up.

“You're thinking too much.” He puts the bottle of vodka down on the floor without so much as opening it and rests his hand on Louis' shoulder. “Calm down.”

“I'm calm. A bit confused, if I'm honest, but calm. I'm calm.”

Nick laughs softly, and Louis' nerves slip away a bit. “Hey.” He slips his hand to the back of Louis' neck. “I'm just going to do something. Slap me if you must.” He leans in and kisses Louis, just pressing their lips together, and it's not a lot but it's so much at the same time. Louis forgets that he's nervous. He forgets about the show and forgets about the lads, and he just thinks about Nick with his stupid hair and his cute dog and his lips on Louis' own. Louis relaxes into it, letting out a little puff of air as he pulls back. “Oh.”

“Good oh? Bad oh? Give me something to go on, Lou.” His hand is still on the back of Louis' neck, his fingers snaking into Louis' hair.

In lieu of speaking, because Louis isn't sure he trusts himself to do that just yet, he crawls over to straddle Nick's thighs, his knees pinned on either side of Nick and kisses him, opening his mouth to Nick's tongue this time and resting his arms around Nick's neck. It's a lot but it's perfect.

Not much else happens, just a lot more kissing and then they end up lying stretched out on the bed, Louis curled into Nick, fast asleep, with their vodka sitting in the middle of the floor untouched.


They come off from rehearsals and Nick is waiting for Louis, holding a bag of baby carrots. He grins slightly. “I hear this is the way to your heart.” He tosses them at Louis.

Louis catches the bag and opens it, just so he can throw a carrot at Nick's head. “Get in line, mate!” He jumps on Nick's back and grins. “Did you see our rehearsal?”

“I did. Rihanna?” Nick hums. “Risky choice.”

“That's the whole point!” Louis grins. “Come on. You're carrying me to the dressing rooms. I need to change.”

“Yeah, you smell disgusting. You're getting your disgusting smell all over me.” Nick makes a fake gagging sound.

“Shut up and do as you're told.” Louis grins.

“You're lucky you're cute.” Nick walks. “You know, you're heavier than you look. You must carry a lot of weight in your bum.”

“I'm not sure if that's meant to be an insult or not.”

“Eh, depends how you take it.” He drops Louis in front of the dressing room and leans against the wall beside the door. “Hurry on then, I've got places to be, people to talk to.”

Louis snorts. “No one more important than me!” He ducks into the room and changes quickly and then pops right back out. “Unless you've been hanging around with some other potential future popstar.”

Nick laughs and looks around then tugs Louis back into the dressing room and kisses him quickly. “No, no, no other future popstars. Just meetings. Job interviews.”

“You're not doing Xtra next year?”

“I don't know. I think Caz is. I don't know though. There's something – I'll tell you when I find out what's happening.” He grins. “Hey, you guys were great at rehearsal. I heard Zayn's been out. You can hardly tell he missed almost a week of rehearsals.”

“It was strange without him.” Louis slides his arms around Nick, settling in for a bit of a hug. “This is probably not the best place to have a cuddle. Anyone could walk in.”

“Please, Harry and Caz have done way more than have a cuddle in the dressing rooms here.”

“Why am I not surprised.” Louis laughs. “I'll let you go to your meetings.” He grins. “Thanks for the carrots.” He ducks out of the room and leaves Nick alone. He tries to stop thinking about what it all means and what will happen if he goes home this week – where that will leave him and Nick and their friendship slash tentative whatever.


They make it to the finals and Louis celebrates by getting a congratulatory blowjob from Nick in a cupboard between contestant interviews after the results show. It's quick and messy but it's still the best blowjob he's ever had, and he's not sure if it's because he hasn't gotten laid in a while or because it was from Nick. He tries not to think very hard about the answer.


The week of finals is a lot. They're traveling for hometown shows and rehearsing for the final performances, and there's not a lot of time to see Nick when it's not for the show. On the plus side there's also not a lot of time to think about Nick and why they haven't actually talked about what's going on.

Louis wagers the show to be a lot like school. It's great to make friends but when it ends it's done. He's not sure how he feels about that, but he's got a lot more to worry about. They've got really heavy competition between Matt, Rebecca, and Cher, and they very well may not win. The odds are heavily against them; Louis knows that's true as much as people keep trying to reassure him. They're all nervous, and they're doing everything they can to make sure they do their best.

But they make it to the Finals on Sunday. They make it to the final, and Louis wants nothing more than to find Nick and celebrate, but Nick has a job to do too. He's got a million people to interview, and Louis ends up going back to the house and celebrating with the lads.

They try not to celebrate too late because tomorrow's an even bigger day, and at the end of it they'll know if every day from now on is going to be a big day or if none of the days after it will be a big day and the weight of that is heavy on Louis' chest. He spends most of the night trying to sleep and by the time he falls asleep it's nearly time to wake up.


They feel nervous but cautiously optimistic after their performance on Sunday night, but Matt and Rebecca are great too. Louis is sitting with the lads when Nick manages to get a second to himself. He tugs on Louis' arm until Louis relents and follows him to an empty dressing room. Louis is too nervous to do much of anything so he waits for Nick to wrap his arms around him and laugh. “Don't be so nervous. You were great.”

“So were the others.”

“Stop thinking so much. You have a really good chance.” He pulls back and goes to lie on the sofa, pulling Louis on top of him. “You know, we could kill some time and nerves right now. I'm sure we have enough time.”

“Please.” Louis laughs a little. “Don't be daft.” He rests his chin on Nick's chest and looks up at him. “Whatever happens it's been fun though.” He smiles. “At least we'll always have mop cupboard blowjobs.”

“Whoa whoa, who said you losing means you get rid of me? I don't remember saying that.”

“Well, I just assumed that you wouldn't want me anymore once my potential pop star power was just a fond memory.” Louis says it like it's no big deal, like he doesn't care. “Never really said you were interested in more than that anyway.”

“I guess I didn't.” Nick pauses. “I am, for the record. Interested. And I still think you're going to be a huge pop star, so either way.”

Louis doesn't really know what to say so he moves enough that he can press his lips to Nick's and sighs softly as Nick kisses him back, slow and easy without any urgency or indication that this is the end of something.

Louis pulls back and rests his chin on Nick's shoulder, speaking softly against his neck. “I really want to win.”

“I know you do. I think you will. I've got the exclusive, remember? I know all the secrets.” Nick sounds so sure that it almost makes Louis feel like he can relax, like they have nothing to worry about.

Someone knocks on the door and then Louis hears Harry's voice on the other side. “They're ready for us, Lou.” He doesn't know how Harry even managed to find him.

He nods. “Okay, I should – I should.”

“Hey.” Nick kisses him again. “You're going to win, and then you're going to be able to afford a better hair cut.” He pushes at him. “Now go. I'll wait a few minutes and then me and Cazza are going to cheer you on from the side of the stage.”

Louis pushes himself up and goes out to find the lads and go on stage. It feels like they're up there for ages waiting for Dermot to announce the winner. When Matt gets the first spot Louis' heart sinks. One spot down and it isn't theirs. He keeps reaching for Harry, just for something to touch, something to keep him grounded, because it's too much and if he looks off stage he can see Nick, wringing his hands and biting his lip like someone who isn't as sure as previously assumed.

And then he calls Rebecca's name.

Louis almost completely loses his balance. He'd been prepared for this while simultaneously being so sure it wasn't going to happen. He'd let himself listen to all of the people who had told them there was no way they wouldn't make it. He spends the entire video montage of their journey trying not to cry right on stage, live in front of the whole nation and then he has to speak. When asked later, he won't remember what he said, but he will remember Zayn saying it wasn't the end for them because it's not. He won't let it be.

After Simon speaks they go backstage. Nick catches his wrist and hugs him. He's vaguely aware that everyone can see him push up onto his toes and hug Nick back. They can see him bury his face in Nick's neck, but they can't hear Nick whispering that it's going to be okay. He knows it might not be, but he does his best to believe Nick. It's all he can do to keep himself afloat right now.

They sit around backstage waiting to see who's going to win because there are still going to be interviews and questions. Nick has to work, but he sits with lads just deciding where they go from here.

At the end of it all, Nick asks Louis to go home with him since the show is over, and they're going to be out of the house in the morning. He wants to say yes but wanting to spend what could potentially be one last night with the lads wins his internal argument.

He tries to tell himself it's okay, that Nick understands, but he's not sure he believes it.


He's packed up and ready to go early the next morning when it's time to leave the house. They're coming back together in a couple of weeks, but for now they all want to go home and spend time with their families more than anything else.

Louis doesn't have a train ticket home yet, and he remembers Nick's invitation from the night before, so once all the goodbyes are said and done he pulls out his phone and texts Nick.

invitation still good?

still good. Want me to come get you?

Louis texts him back with yes and sits outside the house waiting. He feels a bit sad, just sitting with his luggage at an empty house, but he tells himself it's not the end.


Nick's house is as pretentious as Louis expects it to be, but it's so perfectly Nick that he can't even complain. As soon as they get inside Nick pulls him close and kisses him, and Louis feels all of the stress and anxiety of the last few days just melt away. He hops up, wrapping himself around Nick with his arms and his legs. “Oof.” Nick laughs. “You're heavier than you think you are, you know.” He grins though, and he carries Louis into the bedroom and drops him down on the bed. “I've been thinking about getting you into my bed for ages.”

“Ages huh?”

“Ages and ages.” He kneels over Louis. “I'm going to take my time now. No more rushed snogging and sloppy blowjobs.” He slides his hands under Louis' top and pushes it up his chest. “How do you feel now that you've won Nick Grimshaw?” Nick asks in his best interview voice, before he ducks down to bite along Louis' hip bone.

Louis shivers with his full body and tugs on Nick's hair. “Good, pretty good. I look forward to working with you.”

Nick laughs and slides his way up Louis' body to kiss him properly, slow and easy but deliberate. Louis spends that time unbuttoning Nick's shirt and helping him get it off quickly. It's different than all of their rushed snogging sessions. He can feel Nick's body pressed against his, can feel Nick's hands on his hips, making sure he's planted firmly against the mattress.

Louis isn't sure when they lost their trousers but somehow Nick stops kissing him for long enough to get them down to their pants. He's kneeling above Louis now and Louis grabs for him because he needs to feel Nick on top of him again. There's nothing like that feeling. “Hold on,” Nick says leaning across the bed for the bedside drawer.

Louis takes the chance to push himself up on his elbows and bite Nick on the stomach. Nick makes this soft groaning sound in the back of his throat, which just makes Louis do it again, further down close to Nick's hip.

“Devil child.” Nick comes back over, dropping lube and condoms on the bed next to Louis. “I have the power to make you pay for that.”

“Somehow I think that will be an enjoyable experience.” Louis grins. “It's a good thing you're prepared.” Louis briefly considers the fact that he's so prepared because he does this often. They haven't really talked about it more than deciding it might still happen once the show ends.

“Stop thinking so much.” Nick kisses him again. “Everyone thinks you're this over the top, ridiculous idiot, but the truth is you spend so much time in your own head that you have to act like an idiot to fool them.”

“I feel like there's at least three things in that statement that should offend me.” Louis says, but then Nick is sliding a lubed up finger inside him and he shuts up completely, sucking in a breath. They've talked about this, talked about how Louis has never done this before, talked about how it might feel, but they've never gotten the chance to do it. Most conversation was whispered in cupboards between sloppy blowjobs and in Belle Amie's old room while they shared drunk kisses. But Nick definitely knows he hasn't done this, and Louis has definitely told him that he wants to.

It feels weird and painful in a way that Louis didn't think about really, but he likes it. “More, Nick.” He finally finds his voice. Nick laughs quietly and presses a kiss to his shoulder, working in a second finger. Louis groans and tries to hold in a pained whimper.

“Shh, tell me if you need me to stop.”

“If you stop I'll murder you in your sleep,” Louis manages to say between gritted teeth.

“Noted.” Nick shifts a little to kiss him, slow and deep, and Louis kisses back with everything he has, curling his fingers around Nick's shoulder, and then there's another finger and everything feels hot and tingly and he knows exactly what he wants – no, needs, has been waiting for.

“Okay, okay. Please. I'm ready. I'm ready.” He tries not to sound so damn desperate but he can't help it. He needs Nick to just do this already.

He feels Nick's fingers slide away from and feels stretched and empty while he rolls on the condom and lubes himself up, but then Nick is pushing the head of his cock against him and it's a lot. He pulls Nick down to kiss him so that he doesn't embarrass himself with any sort of noises.

“'S okay.” Nick kisses the corner of his mouth and then kisses his jaw and his neck with soft, soothing, open-mouthed kisses as he pushes his cock further inside Louis. It's like nothing Louis has ever imagined feeling. For a second it feels like he's being ripped apart but then it feels amazing.

Nick kisses him again and starts moving a little more, kissing away Louis' moans as he fucks into him. Louis digs into his shoulders, knowing there are going to be angry red marks at the end of it all but he needs to hold on to something, and Nick's skin feels good against his fingers. Nick slides his hand between their bodies, wraps it around Louis' cock, and Louis doesn't think he's going to last long. It's going to be embarrassing when he comes.

Nick pulls back a little and rests his forehead against Louis' as he fucks him. “You're good, you're doing good.”

Something about that makes Louis completely lose his mind. He just lets go. His body heats up and he arches his back and he lets himself moan slow and loud as he comes between them, onto Nick's hand. He goes a bit boneless, letting go of Nick's shoulders and letting his arm fall over his head, resting the other on Nick's hip.

Nick presses his face in between Louis' neck and shoulder, and Louis feels him come before he hears Nick make any sound. Nick rolls over and Louis is vaguely aware that he takes off the condom and ties it off before tossing it somewhere. Nick laughs a little and pulls Louis closer, Louis rolling into him at the same time. “Fuck.” Nick kisses the side of his face. “Worth waiting for.”

“Definitely worth waiting for.”

They settle and Louis is almost asleep when he hears a scratching at the door.

Nick laughs beside him. “Puppy's angry I've made her stay outside the bedroom.”

“Oh, let her in. I want to see if she likes me better.” He grins a bit and pushes up onto his forearms. “I bet she's going to like me better.”

Nick rolls his eyes and gets up, slipping back into his pants as he walks over to open the door. Louis does the same because it feels weird to be the only one naked in this situation. Puppy comes running in and jumps on the bed. She stares tentatively at Louis before nosing at his palm so he'll pet her. “Look at that.” He grins. “Puppy seal of approval. I guess this means I can stay.”

“Definitely means you can stay.” Nick crawls back into bed. “Don't know when you're planning to go back to Doncaster, but you should stay here for a few days.” Nick yawns and settles his head on the pillow. “And we should have a nap and then order take away for tea.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Louis settles down on the other side of the bed, with Puppy snuggled between them. “Sounds like a really good plan.”

A nap then a take away and then who knows. Louis is too tired to think about what comes next, but he knows this is definitely not an end.

It's a beginning.