Actions

Work Header

The Sound of Your Voice

Work Text:

“This is KCL Radio, and you’ve been listening to Louis, on the air from 6 to 10, every evening Monday through Friday. Up next we have Nick, our resident graduate student with nothing better to do—“

“Hey!” Nick shouted in protest as he nudged open the studio door with his hip, juggling takeaway cups of hot tea. Louis chortled with evil glee, making grabby hands at his friend.

“But he brings me tea, so he can’t be all bad, right mates? Well, that’s it for me. Until tomorrow, this is Louis. Enjoy this last one. Good night!”

Louis stabbed the button to start his last track for the night and eased off his bulky headphones. He slumped back in his chair and flicked open his cup to sniff and then gingerly sip at the contents.

“Hot!” he hissed, clucking his burnt tongue against his teeth.

“That’s the point, innit?” Nick asked, noting the time left on Louis’ track before settling in to the empty chair beside him.

“Thanks,” Louis replied dryly. “What’s on the agenda?”

“The usual, you know,” Nick gestured vaguely with his cup. “Harry gave me some ideas.”

Nooooooo” Louis groaned. “You are not turning the golden hour into hipster bullshit radio.”

“He’s your friend, love,” Nick said, smirking behind his cup. “Get out, I have work to do.”

Louis scoffed, but picked up his things and exited the studio just as Nick signed on, his voice echoing through the halls.

Louis smiled as he made his way through the building. He was the king of the campus radio station, having been there through all his years at Kings College—even longer than Nick, with his seemingly endless graduate degree. Louis figured he’d never finish as long as it was still paid for and he had little incentive to go out and join the real world. Louis sort of envied him that.

The radio station was located in the basement, so Louis blinked a little in surprise at the drizzle as he emerged onto the street. It had been sunny when he went in, but he had admittedly been there for most of the day. Luckily, his flat wasn’t far.

Niall and Zayn were both home when he got there. They were both a bit younger, but due to Louis’ Hugely Indecisive Gap Year (TM Jay, thanks, mum,) they were all in their last year of uni. Louis was frankly terrified of completing his degree—not that he would ever admit to it—but his roommates were fairly relaxed about it. Niall already had a job lined up, and Zayn looked to continue on to graduate school.

The pungent smell of pot smoke reached Louis’ nose just as he closed the door behind him. Niall’s and Zayn’s heads turned eerily together, peering at him for a moment before they both broke out in wide grins.

“Louis!” they shouted.

“Lads!” Louis returned happily. “Started without me?”

Zayn looked momentarily sheepish.

“Didn’t have enough for three,” he said softly. Louis pouted.

“See if I bring you back into the studio, greedy buggers.”

The threat was completely toothless, and they all knew it. Zayn came in regularly to discuss great topics in literature that Louis sort of not quite got most of the time. But he would turn the cameras on during his set, so no one really cared much, given the spikes in listenership and the frequency it got Zayn laid.

“I was coming by tomorrow!” Niall whined piteously, turning on his best puppy eyes.

Louis softened and patted Niall’s hair.

“Could never say no to you, Nialler.”

“Craic! ‘M bringing my mate Liam. From my statistics class. He’s utter rubbish at maths but you’ll love him.”

“You rarely steer me wrong, mate,” Louis replied, stifling a yawn. “Going to bed.”

***

Louis slammed the door and threw his things to the side as he stomped in to the flat.

“What the fucking fuck was that bullshit, Niall?” he shouted, casting around for signs of his roommate. “You left me!” No response. “Niall!” A faint sound.

Louis stopped thrashing around to listen and could hear the water on. Niall was in the shower. Louis stomped down the short, narrow hall to the loo and threw open the door. Steam billowed out and Louis wasted no time in dashing back the curtain. Niall yelped and skidded but caught himself before he glared at Louis.

Jesus! What?” he barked.

You left me,” Louis said, poking Niall’s bare chest at every word, “with that wanker for two hours!

“I didn’t mean to?” Niall offered. Louis crossed his arms over his chest. “I mean, I thought you’d get on. Then Eliza messaged me, and—“

“You left me,” Louis sighed dramatically, “for a booty call?

“To be fair, you would have too. Eliza can—“

“Don’t want to know!” Louis shouted, turning on his heel and marching back out to the kitchen to the sound of Niall protesting the open door.

Niall was a complete knob. This Liam fellow seemed alright enough, they talked a bit, were getting on. Then he just—he just infuriated him. Louis couldn’t stump him on arcane musical knowledge; couldn’t make him stumble. Louis held the title for keeper of random musical facts. It was not on.

And he was just so nice.

Louis kind of wanted to punch him in the face.

But it probably wouldn’t turn out very well in the end, because Liam looked like he could pick Louis up and tear him limb from limb. Not that he would. But he could. And Louis rather liked being in one piece. Liam was fit, was the point. Louis wanted to whack him.

Harry wandered over later, looking like he’d just stepped off the end of a fashion show runway and just kept walking. His shirt had some pattern that Louis couldn’t discern as it just made his eyes keep crossing. Plus it was the slightest bit sheer and had maybe one button fastened. Louis kept catching flashes of nipple. Harry was really distracting, what with his curls, and his mouth, and his collarbones all out there for anyone to see. Louis wanted to lay his cheek on the table and cry or something. Harry was a bit of a problem for him.

Louis and Harry were friends. Louis did not shag his friends. He could, however, torture himself about it endlessly.

“Where are you coming from, then?” Louis gestured at Harry’s get up, which was clearly not intended for lounging. Or class. Same thing. He’d been out.

“Was at this place Niall told me about…”

“Tea?”

“Hmmm?”

“Would you fancy a cup of tea?” Louis said, slowly and clearly. Harry blinked at him.

“Oh. Yes, of course. Thank you.”

Louis got up and started the kettle, hoping that he had sufficiently distracted Harry from a long, drawn out explanation of his evening. He wasn’t that lucky.

“It was me, and Nick, and Fiona, and who’s that tall bloke in communications? Sort of blonde. Fit.”

“Greg?” Louis suggested. “Greg’s not fit.”

“Sure he is,” Harry replied, his eyes twinkling. Louis rolled his eyes and went back to watching the water heat up. “So Greg, and Fincham, and Cazza and her friend Sophia—“

“So, everyone, basically,” Louis summed it up.

“Pretty much, yeah,” Harry agreed.

“Cazza?” Louis wondered, hesitant to bring it up, but dying to know what had happened.

“Yeah,” Harry looked down at his hands in his lap and picked at his nails.

Harry had been head over heels for Caroline for months before they had actually dated. She was lovely, and Harry had gone around with stars in his eyes. But she was in the employ of Kings College, and Harry was a student.

It wasn’t strictly against the uni regulations. Cazza and Harry had no interaction academically. Harry was studying law (mystifying as that was—Louis figured his rambling bullshit might be a strategy) and Caroline worked somewhere in the communications building, where the radio station was located. Louis didn’t know exactly what she did, some sort of archival research type thing, possibly, but she didn’t deal with students. Even so, administration had given her hell about it. Harry was very young, blah blah blah. The Kings College reputation to uphold, blah blah blah. They were horrible to her until she finally gave up and broke poor young Harold’s heart.

It was then, helping Harry pick up the pieces, that Louis realized he had a massive boner for his friend. It wasn’t his finest moment. Soothing the tears, all the cuddles, the late night whispering in the dark. Harry was dear to him, and deserved all the happiness the world could offer. And Louis wanted to give it to him. He could do it as a friend. It wasn’t his fault the crush wouldn’t go away; it smouldered, faded into the background to a manageable level, where Louis could act like a normal person (inasmuch as this was possible for him to do on any given day anyway) and love his friends like they loved him.

It didn’t mean it didn’t still burn occasionally, though.

“What was this place called? Niall recommended it, you said?”

“Funky Buddha,” Harry replied. Louis made a face.

“Sounds terribly douchey,” he said. Harry threw back his head and laughed.

“It is,” he said between giggles, “it really, really is. But Niall’s friend was the DJ. ‘S why we were there, to see him, um…”

“DJ?” Louis suggested. Harry frowned. “Spin? Mix?”

“They all sound stupid.”

“Well,” Louis said with a pointed look. Harry snickered. “Who was it? Which friend?”

“Liam,” Harry replied, standing up to fetch mugs out of the cupboard. Louis narrowed his eyes.

“Liam. I don’t like him.”

“Why not?” Harry asked innocently. “He seems charming. Where’s your tea?”

“For goodness sake, Harold,” Louis huffed, “the tea is where it always is. To your left. No, left.”

“Why don’t you like Liam?”

“We’re sticking with this?” Louis wondered irritably. Harry just looked at him and handed him a cup, waiting. “Ugh. He’s… insufferable. Knows everything about music. Has no sense of humor whatsoever. Far too serious.”

“Other than that last bit,” Harry replied leisurely, sipping at his tea, “he sounds rather a lot like you.”

“Take that back, you twat,” Louis snapped, but it was entirely without heat, and Harry just smirked at him. Louis grumbled into his tea.

“We’re going out tomorrow.”

“Yeah, who?” Louis wondered. With Harry, you never knew.

“Me and Liam,” he replied breezily. Louis squawked. “What?”

“Couldn’t you just—“ Louis didn’t know what he wanted to say. Go on mooning over Caroline? That was nice. “Ugh. Liam? He’s so—“

“Fit. Easy to talk to. Funny…” Harry ticked off Liam’s attributes on his fingers.

“You think everyone’s funny,” Louis scowled. Harry wrinkled his nose back at him.

“He’s fit—“

“You said that already.”

“He’s lovely,” Harry summed up, taking a decisive sip of tea.

“That’s your argument?” Louis fussed.

“Why is it an argument?” Harry wondered, rolling his eyes. “I’m going out with a new friend; why is this a problem for you? We have a million friends.”

“Quite enough, isn’t it,” Louis grumbled sulkily. Harry tossed his curls in a way that Louis knew he was clearly fed up with Louis’ garbage. Louis took a new strategy.

“I thought you were coming into the studio with me tomorrow.”

“I am,” Harry replied, in a tone suggesting that he had in no way forgotten about it.

“Ok, alright. Good.”

***

Louis fought to repress a reaction when Harry sauntered through the door with Liam in tow. Of course. He clenched his jaw and took a deep breath before forcing his face into something resembling a smile.

It was tight in the dingy little room the radio station called a sound booth, what with two strapping lads and Louis, who would not be called strapping in any way. Well, even Harry was pushing it. Liam was proper fit; Harry was mostly legs. Very long legs.

As a footballer, Louis had a deep appreciation for a nice set of legs. Even as they sprawled and poked everywhere. Maybe especially so.

If pressed, Louis wouldn’t be able to testify to the events of the evening. He knew he introduced Harry and Liam as guests on his program, but after that, it was a whirl. There were no stilted exchanges, no awkward silences. The three of them played off each other as if they had rehearsed it.

They argued over Harry’s strange indie musical suggestions. Made particularly difficult for Louis to play if they were so obscure there was no CD or digital track that could be produced. Liam’s suggestions were easier for Louis to find, albeit just as easy to mock. That’s what Louis did, after all.

It was all downhill when they started on football. Louis played on no fewer than three separate league teams throughout the year, and fancied himself somewhat of an expert on the topic. Harry couldn’t manage himself on the pitch to save his life, but as a proper Englishman, he could carry his end of discussion. (“With my knowledge and understanding of the game, I feel I should be a lot better at football,” he declared.) But Liam, Liam met them in the middle. He was an athlete too, a runner and a boxer and surely half a dozen other things that skated through Louis’ mind at the mention, but he joined in with Louis and Harry and their obsessive footie analysis as if they had simply been waiting for him.

They stumbled out of the booth in a tangle, a jumble of arms and legs, laughing and joking and staggering the handful of blocks to Louis’ flat. Louis had beer—of course he had beer, he lived with an Irishman for goodness sake—and three or four later they were a heap on the sofa, shouting about the merits of Iron Man versus Batman versus Superman, Iron Man being clearly superior, no matter what Harry said. Superman indeed. And Batman…

“Shut up, Liam, Christian Bale is a twat.”

“Well, he’s Welsh—“

“My point exactly!”

“How does that apply to Batman, then?” Liam wondered, frowning.

“Because any decent actor makes himself part of the character he portrays, and alternately, the character becomes part of him. So therefore, Batman is an enormous wanker,” Louis said definitively, leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest.

“What do you know about decent actors?” Liam tossed back.

“Ooh, burn,” Harry giggled. Louis just sat there looking offended.

“What?” Liam asked.

“Our Louis is a bit of an actor himself, Liam,” Harry told him.

“I thought he was going to uni to be, like, a teacher or summat. I didn’t—“

“Fucker,” Louis hissed, hunkered down in his corner of the sofa.

Liam gawped and shook his head.

“Lads,” Harry said softly, uncomfortable in the face of conflict. “He didn’t know, Lou; he didn’t mean anything by it.”

“I didn’t! I swear, I’d never—“ Liam agreed, a bit frantically.

“Fuck off,” Louis muttered, scowling down into his collar.

Lou,” Harry crooned, wedging himself between Louis and the cushions, snuggling up as best he could and offering his winningest smile. He knew Louis couldn’t resist his charms.

Suddenly there were warm lips on his jaw and a flash of surprise—and something else—in Liam’s eyes that Louis had to push away. It was hot, like he’d imagined with Harry, even hotter with him mumbling in his ear about what he wanted to see, what he wanted to do. And how Liam was there, watching. He knew it was a distraction technique, but Louis didn’t care. Harry was touching him; it didn’t matter why.

Louis’ hands were separate from himself. He couldn’t feel his fingertips and he couldn’t stop himself from tangling them deep in Harry’s curls, tugging him closer, all the while twisting in Liam’s shirt as he bent to bite at Harry’s neck and Louis needed something to hold onto before he burst apart.

Louis couldn’t breathe. Harry’s hands were at his trousers, in his pants, his hips bucked of their own accord when Liam pulled back from Harry and smoothly turned to go down on him. Louis made some noise, but Harry swallowed it down, just as Liam swallowed around Louis’ cock, his lips meeting Harry’s hand as he bobbed his head.

It was too much. Too much.

Louis scrabbled at Liam’s back, and tightened his hand in Harry’s hair until he cried out. Liam popped up with such an inquisitive look that they had to laugh, and Harry kissed him, going for his trousers too. Liam squeaked, then sat stock still when Louis climbed into his lap and rubbed their cocks together.

Someone tugged on his balls, and Louis figured it was Harry, with Liam gripping his hip with one hand and fumbling at Harry’s skinny jeans with the other. Louis almost fell off the sofa once they got Harry’s cock out. He was magnificent, and it made Louis’ mouth water and arse clench to look at.

“God, I wanna fuck,” Louis blurted. Liam groaned and bucked up against him.

“Won’t make it,” Harry gasped, taking himself in hand and stroking roughly.

“I—“ Liam sounded lost. Louis tightened his thighs around him and ground down, forcing them together until Liam moaned, his fingers digging in to the skin of Louis’ hip and Harry’s arse.

Louis rucked up Harry’s t-shirt until he could bite at his chest. Harry hissed and bucked, his cock bumping Louis’ thigh, leaving a smear of wetness. Liam shifted and reached to cover Harry’s hand with his own, bringing a sound out of him that Louis could feel in his bones as he left a trail of teeth marks.

Louis’ hand slipped, wanting for leverage, ending up skimming Harry’s bum. Harry shivered as Louis let his fingers wander, slipping down his crack. Liam grinned wolfishly at him until Louis released his fistful of t-shirt and fisted the both of them instead. He whimpered and writhed, and whatever he did with his other hand made Harry jerk and crush his lips to Louis’.

Harry came with a cry that made Louis’ skin tingle. His come smeared across Louis’ thigh as he leaned in further, sucking Louis’ lip into his mouth before turning to kiss Liam with both hands on his face. Louis felt Liam tense beneath him an instant before his come spurted across their bellies, mixing with Harry’s, and then Louis’ as he followed a moment later.

“Holy shit,” Liam gasped into the sudden silence.

Harry blushed prettily as he sat back, wiping his hands on his jeans. Louis could see that he focused on keeping his breathing even, so Louis took his cue and did the same. It wouldn’t do to panic.

“So, lads,” he said, with a confidence he didn’t really feel, “are you staying? It’s late.”

Harry’s head whipped up so fast his curls bounced, looking from Louis to Liam and back again.

“Um,” he started, biting his lip so hard Louis could see the indents from his teeth as he let go.

“Come on, then,” Louis continued, gingerly easing himself off Liam’s lap and finding his legs a bit more wobbly than he expected. Harry reached out to steady him, and Louis grabbed his hand, tugging.

“I’ll just—“ Harry indicated the sofa and Louis shook his head.

“No, you’ll come with me,” Louis said firmly, quirking his eyebrow at the entendre. Harry and Liam both giggled. “Quit stalling, get up you lot.”

“But—“ Liam hesitated, eyes wide.

“No ‘but’s,” Louis said with a wink, and he dragged Harry and Liam up and across the flat to his closed door. “My room’s a king bed and very little else. Already had our cocks out, so a little kip won’t kill anyone.”

***

Louis woke with an armful of sleeping Harry and a sleepy Liam peering at him warily from the other side. Harry was curled in tightly between them, and held Liam’s hand as he slept. It was sweet, and Louis softened a bit when he realized he felt Liam’s thumb brushing him as it swept across Harry’s knuckles.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” Louis said softly. “I was a prat.”

“You were,” Harry grumbled without opening his eyes, “now shut up.”

Liam grinned and ducked his head.

“I think,” he began, grunting as Harry nudged him someplace sensitive, “I think it was pulling pigtails, yeah?”

“Yeah, um,” Louis said sheepishly. “Yeah.”

“All is forgiven,” Harry growled, completely unmenacing. More like an angry kitten. An angry sleepy kitten. Louis tightened his arm around his waist and Harry wriggled back against him. “Now shut up, really, or there won’t be a round two.”

Louis laughed at Liam’s shocked expression until Harry elbowed him in the ribs and his flailing hit Liam in the balls and it devolved into a half-hearted wrestling match. And round two.

***

“I’ve never had sex with a bloke before,” Liam said, rather calmly and conversationally, for the fact that he was buried to the hilt in Harry.

“Nonsense,” Louis argued, petting Harry’s hair encouragingly as he sucked him off. “You’ve had sex with us a dozen times, at least.”

“No, I mean, penetrative.” Louis scowled and looked pointedly at where his cock disappeared between Harry’s lips. “Um, intercourse?” Liam wrinkled his own nose at that. “ Fucking.”

“There you go.” Louis knew Liam couldn’t tell if he meant him, or Harry. Either way. “What do you think, love? Being Liam’s first time?” Definitely meant for Harry.

Harry moaned and slurped, pulling off Louis’ cock with a little lick that made him squirm.

“Excellent. A level. Would recommend,” he replied cheekily, rocking back into Liam and pinching at the tender insides of Louis’ thighs.

“Fantastic. Switch?” Louis suggested.

“You ready?” Harry wondered, long fingers snaking down past Louis’ balls to gently prod at him.

“How many was it?” Louis checked, pressing his fingers against Harry’s jaw.

“Three,” Harry said, humming softly against Louis’ palm.

“Good.”

Louis budged back and Harry straightened up onto his hands and knees, stretching like a cat. Liam made a surprised sound, Harry grinning back at him before pulling away to flop on the bed in Louis’ place. Louis laughed at the confused look on Liam’s face as he kneeled there with his dick out and Harry lounging in front of him.

Louis nudged over and leaned up to give Liam a kiss and a squeeze.

“My turn,” he said with a glint in his eyes. Louis turned to grin at Harry before dropping down on his elbows and wiggling his bum at Liam. It was ridiculous, and they all laughed before Liam woke up and reached for more lube.

It was plenty slick when Liam pressed inside. Louis groaned long and low, concerning Harry, who reached for his hands comfortingly.

“Don’t wait,” Louis urged. “I like the burn, I like—“

“I can’t,” Liam gasped. “If I move, I’m gonna come like that. Wait, wait.”

“Here, Lou,” Harry said, turning Louis’ head to his cock as a solution. Louis took it, letting Harry hold his head as he rolled his hips and thrust into his mouth.

Liam moved tentatively, until at last he was confident he could go again and not come all over the place. Soon his hips were snapping, and Harry was grinding against Louis’ face, coming with a yelp when Louis pinched him hard.

Liam pulled Louis up on his knees and back up against his chest. His cock bounced with every thrust until Liam reached around and stroked him in time, tugging him further to reach his mouth and lick at Harry’s come dripping from his chin. Harry lay smug and sated in front of them, watching raptly as Louis arched and came, splashing Harry’s own twitching cock and making him groan with them, Liam buried deep and his teeth dug in Louis’ shoulder.

Louis flopped down next to Harry with a sigh, boneless, until Liam nudged him over to get in the middle.

“Alright?” Harry asked gently, stroking Liam’s hair. He liked to check in. Liam nodded.

***

It was definitely becoming a thing for them. They spent most weekends together, barring footie, or track, or whatever it was that Harry was doing. And it wasn’t all in bed, although there was a lot of that. Louis found that he actually liked Liam, once he got over his initial misgivings.

It was good to like someone you were sleeping with.

They went shopping and cooked enormous meals for their mates. Niall particularly liked that. Louis felt a bit guilty for commandeering the flat as often as he did. He had the best bed! Harry’s was pretty good, but Liam’s was tiny and it had been a disaster, so they rarely went over there.

They went biking around town (well, Harry didn’t) and skating (Harry was surprisingly good) and just wandered, exploring. If Louis thought about it, it was a lot like dating. Just on a grander scale. But they hadn’t talked about what it was between the three of them, hadn’t defined it. It was tough, figuring out what the deal was with a fairly regular threesome with two of your best mates.

Louis tended to ignore it and just let things happen.

It came to a head near the end of the semester. They hadn’t been seeing each other very often, work, and sport, and oh yeah classes being what they were. They were all a little on edge, and Louis, for one, was anxious about the long winter break. Harry was leaving shortly after his exams to spend the entire holiday with his family in Cheshire. Liam was due to leave a few days later for the Midlands. Louis was going to be all alone in London. For weeks. He was going to go to Donny for his birthday and Christmas, of course, but only for a few days. It was going to be exceedingly lonely, and he was out of sorts.

Louis and Harry lounged on Liam’s bed, watching him pack and re-pack for holiday. It was high entertainment, with the added bonus of being completely in the way. Liam was a fastidious packer. His things were neatly folded and organized, and he had plenty of pants and socks. Louis sprawled over well more than half of his bed was unhelpful.

“Louis! please” Liam begged.

“That’s what I like to hear,” Louis leered, waggling his eyebrows. Harry chuckled and scritched at his head. Liam sighed.

“You’re being a bit of a hindrance, love,” Liam said exasperatedly.

“’S what I’m good at,” Louis said to the ceiling. “Word of the day?”

“Shut up,” Liam said with a soft smile.

“You’re leaving me all alone.”

“Oh, Lou,” Harry said softly, petting him some more. “It’s just a few weeks, for the holiday.”

“And my birthday,” Louis added sullenly. Liam sat down next to them, his face a study of concern.

“What can we do to make it better?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Nothing,” Louis replied. “It’s not like—“

“Not like what?” Harry wondered. Louis squirmed.

“It’s not like we’re a—a thing, a trio,” he stuttered. “Ugh, whatever. This is so stupid. I don’t—“

“Why not?” Liam asked seriously. “I’ve just assumed…”

“You know what happens when you assume, Liam,” Louis snapped.

“Yes, but Lou,” Harry put in, “what are you thinking?”

“I don’t know,” Louis replied, curling into himself a little and scrubbing a hand over his face. “We never, like, set any guidelines, or boundaries, or like, expectations. For all I know, you could be out f—“

“Don’t,” Harry said sternly. “I haven’t. I don’t know about Liam,” Liam shook his head vigorously, “but I’m pretty sure you haven’t either. It’s just us, Lou. Which is great, considering how stupid we’ve been.” Louis scowled. “I haven’t seen a condom in months. I don’t think I even know where mine are. We’ve been proper idiots about safety.”

Liam made a horrified face and Louis just cracked up, tension suddenly gone.

“I know how you are, Lou,” Harry went on. “You’re loyal and dedicated and devoted. I’ve seen you in other relationships—“

“Relationship?” Louis asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” Liam agreed. “Unless I’m mistaken, this has been a relationship for, uh, quite some time now. Harry?”

“Idiots,” Harry sighed. “Come on,” he gestured to get them to sit closer and wrapped his long arms and a leg around Louis, then reaching past and tugging Liam in even tighter. He rested his cheek atop Louis’ head for a moment before he spoke again. “I love you. Both of you,” he said softly. “You’re my best friends. This is the best thing. The best. Don’t be sad, Lou.”

“We can do this,” Liam added, kissing Harry’s forehead, then Louis’.

***

Louis was at his mum’s for his birthday (and Christmas, but what is Christmas compared to birthdays? It was all about him) but Harry and Liam each called, sending Louis out of the room blushing, to catcalls and wolfwhistles. Honestly, his sisters were awful. What was his mother teaching them?

They sent flurries of texts, and directed Louis to where they had hidden little gifts in his bag. It wasn’t hard to hide things in Louis’ bag. He just threw a pile of stuff in there and called it good. He could have been a drug mule a hundred times and never known it. They were all agreed in hoping that was not the case.

Louis had to return to London the Monday after Christmas for work. It may have been between semesters, but the radio station operated whether classes were in session or not. Louis enjoyed his job, so it wasn’t much of a hardship for him. The regular employees were all there anyway, so it wasn’t like he was there alone, even if that was the case at home.

The flat was quiet. Growing up in a household with an abundance of younger siblings, quiet made Louis uneasy. Niall was in Ireland, as was his usual practice, and Zayn was either still in Bradford, or off at some girl’s place. Gone, regardless.

He thought about getting a cat.

Maybe a dog.

Or maybe he’d pick up some babysitting. There had to be people with kids in the neighborhood. It would be good practice for him, managing other people’s children. He meant it to be his livelihood, after all.

In the end, Louis only had to endure one lonely night in London. He came home Tuesday night after his shift at the station to find Liam and Harry waiting for him. The neighbors most likely hated him, but he shouted and slammed the door before running in and leaping on his boys.

“We meant it to be a surprise,” Liam said breathlessly.

“Was it? Did you have any idea?” Harry asked happily, snuggled up on one side, while Liam cuddled in on the other.

“None. Not at all,” Louis replied, grinning wide.

“Couldn’t stay away,” Harry went on. “Missed you both too much.”

“Missed the sound of your voice,” Liam added, snaking his arms around Louis’ waist. “Can’t pick up the frequency in Wolverhampton. Was making my mum crazy about it.”

“Aw, Leemo. Hazza,” Louis squeezed until Liam wriggled and Harry gasped. “I missed you too.”

“But we’re home now,” Liam said.

“We’re home,” Harry added.

“That you are.”