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Cupid's Chokehold

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Louis is facing a gross injustice.

“It’s not a gross injustice,” Liam says tiredly.

Louis flaps his hands in exasperation and points. “But - look!”

Liam, bless his heart, follows Louis’ indignant finger. Said finger is currently aimed at the Golden Gates. More specifically, said finger is aimed at what’s behind the Golden Gates.

Because what’s behind the Golden Gates is, put simply, the most fantastic party that Heaven has seen in years. Nick, insufferable twat that he is, has somehow tapped Calvin Harris to DJ, and bouncy, blaring beats have been resonating through the Gates for the past two hours, accompanied by purple and blue strobe lights. (Nick swears he’ll make Calvin forget everything when he returns to Earth tomorrow, but for now, Cal looks like he’s having the time of his life. Probably because Nick magicked him into thinking he’s at a T-Swizzle party or summat.) So the music is bangin’, the food looks delicious (okay, Nick definitely included mini hot dogs to torture Louis), and - no. No way.

“Liam,” Louis gasps, slapping Liam on the chest. “David Beckham is there.”

Liam squints. “So?”

Louis fish mouths. “SO? He’s only the most gorgeous Human to ever walk the planet. He’s only got the most chiselled abs of anyone, ever, period. He’s only the star of all my sexual fantasies.”

Liam squawks and covers his ears, but Louis is on a roll here. (He’s joking about the sexual fantasies, though - that’s a Human thing.) “This is unacceptable. It’s more than a gross injustice. It’s a crime. It’s an abomination.” He turns to Liam. “We have to get in.”

Liam puts his face in his hands. Louis just nods and claps him on the back. “Okay, mate, you think of a plan then. I’ll wait.”

Of course, said plan, however brilliant it might have been, is thwarted by bloody Nick, who sails out of the Gates and over to Louis and Liam at that precise moment. He’s holding some fruity nectar drink that's probably disgusting and not at all delectable, and he’s got shimmery silver glitter on him that looks absolutely ridiculous against his snowy white wings.

Louis’ not jealous. He’s not.

“Louis! How’s my favorite little pip-squeak?” Nick says jovially, fluttering his wings as he floats to a stop on the cloud.

Louis scowls. Anyone who’s anyone knows to never mention Louis’ slightly-too-cute size, ever. “Your quiff is wilting,” he says malevolently. Nick’s hands immediately fly up to pat his ludicrous hair, expression souring when he realizes it’s not true. (Although if his quiff wilted, it might honestly be an improvement. Louis doesn’t say this aloud out of the kindness of his heart. He’s literally, like, a saint.) (Actually, that’s a different section of Heaven, but whatever.)

Nick drops his hands and smirks. “So, any reason you cherubs are out here when Heaven’s best and brightest -” he gestures behind him to the flashing lights and cheering crowd - “are in there?”

Louis just glares at him. Cherubs. So derogatory.

Nick slaps his forehead in mock-realization. “Oh, that’s right! You two are still Wingmen, aren’t you?”

“Knock it off, Nick,” Liam growls. Louis nudges his hand in gratitude. Liam acts exasperated with Louis about ninety-five percent of the time, but when it comes to anyone (usually Nick) bullying him, Liam is basically Louis’ personal pit bull.

Nick places his hand on his chest and widens his eyes. “Oh, dear. Did I offend you, sweet cheeks? It’s just, you know, only us Arrows are let in to parties like these. I would invite the two of you, but seeing as you don’t even have your arrows yet....” he trails off and cocks his head to the side, flicking his eyes up and down Louis’ body. “Oh, that’s right. Wingmen don’t even have wings, do they?”

“Let’s see how your wings do against my fist,” Louis snarls, stepping forward. Nick flutters back, laughing in delight.

“Quite well, it seems!” he calls over his shoulder as he zooms back to the party, zipping from side to side in time to the music.

Louis grips at his hair in frustration. The problem is, there’s not much he can do to defend himself against Nick. Nick is an Arrow, which means he’s matched enough couples to earn his position behind the Golden Gates. Louis’ track record isn’t nearly as high as Nick’s, probably because he prefers getting baked off solid ambrosia with Zayn and laughing at the stupidity of Humans from, quite literally, his spot up in the clouds to actually forging relationships.

It’s just - when you’re a Wingman like Louis and Liam, relationships are hard to make it happen. Only Arrows are trusted with the ability to zap someone on the ass and make them go gaga for their soulmate. Wingmen have to, like, work.

It's a fair system, since sometimes Wingmen fuck up in matching up soulmates and don't let the Humans get their happy ending, but it still sucks. First off, they don’t have wings, which, okay, doesn’t actually slow them down - all they have to do is touch the watches on their wrist and they get transported to anywhere they want to go on Earth, fully clothed - but it kind of makes the name “Wingmen” a bit of a farce, even though they literally are the world’s best wingmen. What Louis has to do to match people up is, situate himself in their lives somehow - sometimes he’s a work associate, sometimes he’s the bartender who gives them sage advice, sometimes he’s the bitchy but brilliant best friend - and subtly, casually drag them by their noses to their soulmates. Once one of the matchees has asked the other out on a date (or they’ve had sex), the job is done, and Wingmen can go back home.

Sure, Wingmen know all the tricks of the trade to make two people who are meant to be recognize that fact, but occasionally Louis gets an assignment that takes forever, sometimes up to a week, with the couple totally unable to admit or even understand their feelings until Louis has to literally spell it out for them. It’s cases like those - where Louis knows that if he could use an arrow, or some hypnotizing magic on the couple (also against the rules for Wingmen when it comes to matching), his job would be so fucking easy - that turn Louis off from the whole thing, because honestly, he has way better stuff to do with his time. Like get high off of baked ambrosia.

But damn, does Louis want to be an Arrow.

It’s not just that they have the best parties, although that’s probably about fifty percent of it. (Seventy five. Whatever. Louis likes to go out, he likes to party, and he likes to spend some time with his friends. That okay?) They get the best everything. They live behind the Golden Gates, which automatically means they have the softest clouds, the most delectable foods - Human foods, which they get the privilege of magicking up whenever they want, along with whatever other Human supplies their hearts desire - and, of course, the respect of everyone else in Heaven, Wingman or Arrow. They get to have wings - massive, white, feathery wings - and arrows, which basically means they sit around on their well-cushioned asses all day, maybe lifting a hand every hour or so to fire a love dart, and spend the rest of the time eating, drinking, and hypnotizing mortals into DJ-ing their parties.

If that isn’t the life, Louis doesn’t know what is.

“Louis, you just have to ignore Nick,” Liam says, jolting Louis out of his thoughts. “He totally only came over here for the sole purpose of mocking us, which is pretty lame.” Liam glances around him and ducks his head, cheeks going pink like they always do whenever he is about to say something that is maybe Not That Nice. “And did you see his stupid glitter?”

Normally, Louis could bitch about Nick’s glitter all night long, but he’s feeling too down at the moment to muster the sass. “Liam, what if we’re Wingmen forever?” He says quietly, kicking at the puff at his feet and watching bits of cloud go flying into the air, vaporizing immediately. “What if we never get to be Arrows?”

Liam chews his lip, brown eyes thoughtful. “We won’t be Wingmen forever,” he says eventually. “No one is.”

“But I wanna be an Arrow now,” Louis says petulantly.

(Okay, so maybe his maturity levels aren’t quite Arrow-status yet. He still deserves this. Louis would rock an Arrow party. He has the best ideas for who to magic up from Earth, for starters - Ryan Gosling, because, hot damn, and then Beyoncé because she’s pretty much the only Human Louis would ever bow down to.)

Liam chews his lip in concentration. “Well, you could maybe work a bit harder,” he ventures.

Louis waves his hand. “Next.”

Liam sighs exasperatedly. “Well?”

Louis hops from foot to foot, thinking. “Is there an easy way out? Like, I get a couple that’s so impressive I automatically get promoted?”

Liam shakes his head, then pauses. “Wait, like, if you matched a couple yourself?”

Louis lights up. “Liam!” He squeals, gripping Liam’s wrists in his. “That’s perfect!” Wingmen don’t ever do the matching themselves - they always get assignments from Simon, the big bossman over on the Golden Gates side of Heaven. Only Arrows can put Humans together on their own. “If we set a couple up on our own, then that’ll show Simon that we’re ready to be Arrows! I mean, that’s what they do, innit?”

Liam looks uncertain. “I don’t know, Louis,” he hedges. “Isn’t that kind of, like... forbidden?”

Louis shrugs, ignoring a little niggling in his stomach. “But, like, if we do a really good job, and match up a couple that’s meant to be, Simon won’t care. And then we can be Arrows, Liam! Think about it,” Louis says, throwing his arm over Liam’s shoulder and gesturing to the Golden Gates as if to demonstrate all the limitless possibilities in there. “We’d drink the finest nectar, we’d never have to say I hear he’s great in the sack ever again, and...” Time for the kill. “... You could maybe even meet Leona Lewis.”

Liam flushes a dark red. If he doesn’t regret getting buzzed with Zayn and Louis that one time and letting slip that he thinks Leona Lewis is fit as fuck - though, obviously, not in those words because Liam’s as prim as a pope - then he should.

Delightfully vermillion as he is, Liam still doesn’t look entirely convinced. Louis reaches over and smooths his brow out with his fingers. “C’mon, Li,” he says in a quieter voice. “Please do this with me?” Louis sticks out his bottom lip and bats his (very long) eyelashes, because never let it it be said that he isn’t a persuasive motherfucker.

And the fact that Liam, after another minute or two, agrees to the plan, well. That’s all down to Louis knowing how to get what he wants.

He is a Wingman, after all.

 

“I still don’t know why you need me for this,” Liam says for the umpteenth time.

It’s the day after the Party of the Century. All the Arrows are looking beautifully hungover, thanks to the alcohol they magicked up from Earth, which Louis considers payback for daring to have a fun time without him. And for inviting David Beckham, even if it was a dazed and confused David Beckham who didn’t really know where he was.

“Because...” It’s definitely not because Louis is scared of doing a matching all on his own, no, sir. “Because it’s always better to have two people on the job,” Louis finishes breezily. “Anyway, did you find a couple yet?”

Liam glares at Louis. “Why, again, am I finding the couple?”

Louis raises one eyebrow in his signature Bitch Face. “Liam, I’m skirting real work so I can get promoted to Arrow so I can continue to skirt real work.”

Liam grumbles something unintelligible that Louis probably could do without hearing, then straightens like he’s delivering a school report to the headmaster. Not that Louis knows much about schools. Or reports. Or headmasters. Rarely are high schoolers soulmates. “Harry Styles and Niall Horan. Both 25 years old. Both reasonably healthy, fit lads who graduated from University of Manchester three years ago, though their paths never crossed. Harry, according to a conversation with his sister, Gemma, is working in a bakery. Niall works at a bar a little ways across town. They live close to each other, though, again, they’ve never met.”

Louis tips his head contemplatively. “Go on.”

“They have a similar sense of humor. When I was observing them from up in the clouds, they had the same TooTube video - ”

YouTube, Liam, how many times - ”

“ - fine, YouTube video forwarded to them from respective friends. I didn’t see what was particularly funny about it, it was just a cat walking on a piano, but they both found it absolutely hilarious. Niall started laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe for a few minutes.

“They are both also considered kind and friendly. Gemma said to her brother - I quote - ‘You have to stop being so [expletive] nice all the time, Harry’ -”

“Liam, why on Heaven would you say expletive instead of the real fucking word - “

“ - I’m censoring the report, Louis, can you just - ”

“ - okay, I’m sorry, please continue - “

“ - and I witnessed Harry holding the door open for no less than seven people on his way into a coffeehouse. He also apologized to a tree when he ran into it. From what I observed, Niall, too, appears to be very kind. He was chatting amicably with all the regulars at the bar, one of whom called him, quote, ‘The best blooming bartender in all of England and a ruddy good mate to boot’, although perhaps his testimony should not be taken into serious consideration, given that he was pretty far under the influence at the time. I will say, however, that, to my eyes, both Niall and Harry seemed amicable with everyone they spoke to, easygoing, and eager to smile at whomever they saw. Their similar nature suggests a compatible romantic pairing.

“They also appreciate the same music, if what is on their iTunes libraries is any indication - ”

“ - you snooped, Liam, I’m scandalized - “

“ - shut up, Louis - and they are both gay, single, and - “ Liam coughed. “ - in want of some companionship.”

Louis scoffs. “How could you know that?”

Liam is blushing. Oh, this is going to be good. “According to Gemma, Harry, quote, ‘needs to get a good dicking’, and Niall, when jokingly asked after a spirited discussion about a recent football match what was, quote, ‘up his ass’, replied, quote, ‘Nothing lately, boys’.” Liam finishes with a flourish, looking both embarrassed and a little pleased with himself.

Louis taps his chin thoughtfully. “Well, well, Liam. I’m impressed.”

Liam rolls his eyes. “So - are we doing this?”

Louis swallows, squashing the nerves wriggling in his stomach, and grins widely. “Invest in a wing care kit, mate. You’re gonna need it.”

 

>>>

 

When Harry took his job at the Heaven Scent bakery, he didn’t think that it would involve awkwardly avoiding looking at someone’s very obvious boner.

But, then, life’s full of surprises.

The customer - who seriously needs to put that thing away before he hurts anyone - has been staring at Harry for the past half hour. Harry knows that, objectively, he’s a pretty fit lad, but he’s not sure his mere presence is quite enough reason for the baseball bat currently outlined in the dude’s pants, which probably means that he has been thinking of Harry in all sorts of compromising positions the whole time he’s been sitting at that table, taking occasional bites of the pie he ordered.

Harry is about 75 percent creeped out, 20 percent flattered, and 5 percent completely disgusted, which, when you think about it, is really very generous of him.

It probably wouldn’t be so hard (pun definitely intended) to ignore the man if there were more people in the shop, but it’s been a very slow day (despite the fact that it’s mid-January, which is prime warm-baked-goods season), and it became even slower past six. All Harry has to do is idly dust off the counter, which is already perfectly clean, avoid Boner Guy, and surreptitiously check out the three other people in the bakery.

There’s one college-age girl who hasn’t looked up from her phone once, even when ordering her peach cobbler, and then two men in suits whose chocolate croissants have long been consumed and who are in a heated, whispered discussion about - Harry strains his ears - Ed Sheeran.

Harry is about to offer his two cents (he majored in Music Theory and Composition, after all, and Sheeran is, in his opinion, phenomenal), but he’s interrupted by a loud SPLAT, and then a high, raspy “Fuck.”

Harry whips around. No one is supposed to be behind the counter but him, though the boy crouched in front of - Harry closes his eyes in frustration, then reopens them to have a better look - the mess of just-splattered raspberry cake on the floor obviously doesn’t know that.

“Um, excuse me?” Harry says, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. This is going to take forever to clean up. “What are you doing back here?”

The guy, who had his back to Harry, turns around, and, Jesus. Okay, so this maybe-customer has just derailed Harry’s night of pretending he can’t see what Boner Guy is packing and scrubbing at stains that don’t exist, and he might be a criminal who has made it his mission to fuck up Harry’s carefully-placed display, but. But. He’s also, quite possibly, the most gorgeous guy Harry’s ever seen.

Harry feels breathless just looking at him, something weird and unfamiliar tingling in his chest. He’s got soft, feathery brown hair that sweeps over his eyes, which are a bright, piercing blue, and incredibly sharp cheekbones that highlight a pink, pouty mouth.

Harry maybe wants to lick him a little.

And then call over Boner Guy to smack him with his baseball bat for ruining his cake.

Gorgeous Cake-Fucker-Upper seems similarly dumbstruck at the sight of Harry. He just stares at him, mouth slightly open.

Harry starts. The fact that Gorgeous Cake-Fucker-Upper is just that, gorgeous, doesn’t mean that he is going to get away with this. He clears his throat and tries to look intimidating. “Can you explain to me why you decided to ruin that cake? Which, by the way, I spent eight hours slaving over?” Okay, it was only two, but Gorgeous Cake-Fucker-Upper does not need to know this information.

“I didn’t mean to,” Gorgeous Cake-Fucker-Upper says quickly. “I just wanted to get a taste, and then my hand slipped and I somehow - sorry. Sorry,” he says again, blushing.

Harry’s so totally not charmed by that blush, even if the way it’s slowly spreading over those beautiful cheekbones is mesmerizing. “You know that customers can’t just come back here and lick the cakes, right?” he says sternly.

At the word ‘customer’, Gorgeous Cake-Fucker-Upper’s blush seems to recede a little, which is a bit of a shame, and he stands up. “Let’s start over,” he says, in a voice that is suddenly more confident, and extends his hand. “I’m Louis.”

Harry doesn’t shake. “Okay, Louis. Question still stands.”

“I’m not a customer,” Louis says hurriedly. “I work here.”

Harry raises his eyebrows. “No, you don’t.”

“I do,” Louis says earnestly. “Barb - you know Barb - hired me today. I’ve just started.”

Harry cocks his head. “I didn’t know we were hiring.”

“You can call Barb yourself and ask,” Louis urges. Then he pauses. “Actually, um, she might be a bit... out of it. When you call. She, uh, she wasn’t feeling well when she hired me, so.”

Harry squints. “Uh, yeah, no offense, mate, but I think I will call her.”

Louis nods rapidly. “Gotcha. No worries. Go for it.”

So Harry calls Barb, but he’s not so heartless to do it right in front of Louis - if Louis’ lying, which seems likely, then it’s going to be incredibly awkward for the both of them if they’re face-to-face. Harry just goes over to one of the empty tables (which, urgh, brings him closer to Boner Guy, who looks like his wildest dreams just came true) and dials Barb.

It’s only seven on a Monday night, so Barb picks up. “Harry,” she says in a faint voice that’s nothing like her regular booming tone.

“Uh, hey, Barb,” Harry says. “I just wanted to check - there’s this guy called Louis who says you hired him today? I didn’t even know we were hiring anyone, so I just wanted to make sure that he’s legit?” Harry glances over at Louis, who is eyeing a chocolate éclair like he wants to taste that, too. Harry mentally sends no no no signals his way. Hopefully his glare will be sufficient.

“Oh, yes,” Barb says vaguely. “Louis. Lovely man. Brilliant credentials. You two have fun.”

“Wait, Barb - “ Harry isn’t even sure what he wants to say, other than why is this gorgeous boy who can’t handle himself around cakes suddenly in my bakery.

“Bye, Harry,” Barb says dazedly, and then the line goes dead.

Harry stares at his phone for a second, perplexed, before pocketing it and walking back over to Louis, who, when he sees Harry coming, clasps his hands behind his back and adopts an innocent expression that is nothing like his previous I-want-to-devour-that-éclair-now look. “So?” he asks, quirking an eyebrow.

Harry shrugs. “Sorry, mate. Apparently you do work here.” He offers an apologetic grin. Louis grins back, looking relieved. “But,” Harry continues, gesturing around, “there’s not much to do here, so I’m not sure why Barb’s got you working this shift?”

Louis pats his fringe nervously. “Oh, you know Barb,” he says vaguely, which answers nothing at all.

Well, maybe Louis was just very eager to start his new job. Harry remembers being like that - fresh out of college, after trying, and failing miserably, to make anyone of significance take notice of his music, he was absolutely desperate for some cash. Hence, the bakery. (Although he is, if he may say so himself, an excellent baker. And one who doesn’t like to see his cakes destroyed without finding a home in someone’s belly.)

Which reminds him. “Well, Louis, rule number one around here: Don’t ruin the cakes.”

Louis flushes, and, really, he’s got to stop doing that. It’s too fucking attractive for someone who has only just been absolved of any criminal cake-wrecking activity. Harry tries to remain stern. “Even as employees, we don’t taste the food ourselves. Sort of counterproductive to the whole selling them thing.”

Louis rolls his eyes ruefully. “I know, I’m an idiot. I just don’t get to eat stuff like this all the time, so.” He shrugs. “Got kind of greedy, I guess.”

Harry isn’t sure what Louis means - he’d assume a diet, but his arse is too sinful for him to be dieting (and, yes, Harry looked) - but he lets that one go, too. “Well, did Barb say you needed any training?”

“Nah, I’m okay,” Louis says confidently. He leans against the counter and cocks his hip out. He seems to have regained a lot of swagger after passing Harry’s Actual Employment Here test. “So, Harry - “

“How do you know my name?” Harry asks suspiciously.

A brief look of panic flashes across Louis’ face before he blinks, and it’s gone. Harry might have imagined it. The scent of sugar in the air could be getting to him. Or maybe it’s the scent of Louis, because he smells delicious, like vanilla and flowers. It’s a far cry from the usual spicy Axe aroma of the guys Harry knows.

Louis is looking at him a little strangely. Harry must have checked out. God, he hopes he wasn’t inhaling him or something. “Sorry, what did you say?”

“Your name tag,” Louis repeats, eyeing Harry quizzically. “It says Harry.”

What - oh. “Oh, right,” Harry says, feeling a little embarrassed. Louis is the newcomer. He’s supposed to be the one forgetting that he’s wearing a name tag. “I forgot.”

Louis grins. “It’s all right, mate. So, anyway, Harry. Tell me a bit about yourself.”

“As opposed to doing my job?” Harry asks lightly.

Louis glances around. “I don’t see much else for us to do.”

“Well, we could avoid looking at Boner Guy,” Harry says before he realizes. When his mind catches up with his mouth, he feels mortified. He definitely hasn’t known Louis long enough to bring up boners, much less point out customers who have them.

Louis doesn’t react how Harry expects. Instead of bursting out laughing or edging away from him, his eyes go wide, and he leans over the counter to fucking gape at Boner Guy. “Wait, really?”

“Stop staring!” Harry hisses.

“Fascinating,” Louis says. He looks transfixed. By a boner.

Harry waves his hand in front of Louis’ face to shake him out of it. “You’re acting you’ve never - “

“Well, the only other time was on accident,” Louis muses.

Wait.

What.

When Harry doesn’t respond, Louis looks at him. Then his eyes go even wider and he scrambles up straight. “I didn’t mean - I mean. I’m not a virgin, if that’s what you’re thinking,” he says hastily. “I’m just, like. It’s been a while.”

Okay, it’s definitely too early on to have this discussion. “Well,” is all Harry can think to say.

“Maybe we need to start over again,” Louis says sheepishly.

Harry laughs at that, although it’s a bit weak; it’s not every day a gorgeous guy tells you he’s in a dry spell. Harry is trying very hard not to ask if Louis wants help in breaking it. “Yeah, maybe.”

Louis offers his hand again, and this time Harry shakes it. Louis’ skin is as soft and warm as it looks. Harry sort of doesn’t want to let go. “I’m Louis Tomlinson, I’m from Doncaster, I have four younger sisters and one brother, I attended King’s College, I majored in English but what I really want to do is bake,” he rattles off.

Harry blinks, thrown by this sudden influx of information. “Um, wow. I’m Harry Styles, I’m from Cheshire, I have an older sister, I went to University of Manchester, I was a Music major, and I’m the one who baked the cake you knocked over?”

Louis chuckles. “Yeah, I’d assume, mate. You looked at me like I’d killed your newborn baby.”

“These cakes are my babies. I’m very protective.”

“Well, when they’re as good-looking as that, you’d have to be,” Louis says earnestly.

Harry coughs to cover his flush at the compliment. “Thanks, man. So, uh, what made you choose Heaven Scent?” As soon as it’s out of his mouth, Harry realizes that it sounds sort of like a chat-up line, like he’s a step away from asking Do you come here often?

Thankfully, Louis doesn’t seem to notice. “Just liked the name, I guess,” he says, lips twitching like there’s a joke he’s not saying. “What about you, Music Major?”

Harry looks away, his throat tightening a little. He doesn’t like talking about that. The rejection he faced from all those record labels - the number of times he’s walked home singing to himself, hoping someone would ‘discover’ him on the street - still pricks his chest a bit. “Just preferred baking,” he lies, aiming for an easy tone. “Better atmosphere.”

“It’s definitely a nice-smelling atmosphere,” Louis agrees. When Harry looks back at him, he’s watching him curiously.

Harry straightens and tries to look like he wasn’t just thinking about the crushing of his dreams. He’s suddenly itchy to get away, like he always is whenever anyone asks about his music, be it a well-meaning relative or his best friend, James. “My shift’s actually over, so if you want to hold down the fort...?”

“Oh, sure,” Louis says. He eyes the oven in the back like he’s afraid it’s going to bite him. “Do, uh, a lot of people come in this time of night? LIke, would I have to bake something?”

“I mean, not really, but it wouldn’t be a problem, would it?” Harry asks, confused.

“‘Course not,” Louis says breezily, waving him down. “Just checking.” He salutes Harry and busies himself around the raspberry-cake-fiasco on the floor. Harry would feel bad about leaving without helping him clean it up, but Louis kind of made his bed, so.

“All right, well, have a good night,” Harry says, hoisting his jacket around his shoulders. “And, Louis - glad to be working with you, yeah?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Louis says, shooting him a smile. Harry finds himself smiling back.

On his walk back to his empty apartment, he also finds himself thinking about his new co-worker’s arse, because it’s kind of hard not to.

And his high, raspy voice saying It’s been a while.

 

When Harry gets back to his apartment, he lets himself imagine for a second that when he opens the door, he’ll shout “Honey, I’m home!”, and someone will come rushing up to greet him. It’s a favorite fantasy of his.

Maybe he doesn’t need a boyfriend. Maybe he just needs a dog.

Harry sighs. He fits the key through the lock and swings the door open, berating himself for the melancholy twinge he feels when, predictably, neither dog nor human hurries up to say hello. Once he’s changed into his pajamas, he briefly considers cooking a meal, but it seems like a waste to go to all that trouble just to feed himself, so he eventually decides that Pot Noodle will suffice for tonight.

He plants on his couch and turns on the TV, spooning noodles from his bowl while watching a rerun of Friends. He’s not really focusing, though.

Harry gets a feeling sometimes, in some chamber of his heart, when it’s late at night and he’s all alone. It has a little something to do with the fact that all of his friends seem loved up with other people these days, too busy cuddling in front of fires and kissing in beds to hang out with him. It has a little something to do with the fact that Harry hasn’t had a steady relationship since college. It has a little something to do with the fact that Harry wants to be able to check ‘plus one’ on the wedding invitations he receives.

It isn’t because there’s no one out there. It’s just that Harry, ever since he was little, has dreamed of something big. He’s dreamed of the kind of love that he sees on movie screens, a burning fire that’ll rip through in him, like he’s sharing a part of his soul. Harry wants to be consumed with his love. He wants it to overtake him, to crush him, even, if it must.

He wants a love that feels like destiny.

He knows it’s unrealistic. It’s why he’s alone. Every time he’s broken up with a boyfriend, it was because he knew they weren’t It. They weren’t The One. And whenever he tells his friends that, they laugh and roll their eyes and tell him that love like that - all-encompassing, feverish, pre-destined - isn’t real. There’s no Cupid out there, Harry. Lighten up. Have some fun.

But Harry doesn’t want to lighten up, or have fun for the sake of having fun. He refuses to settle for someone that isn’t his soulmate. And, okay, maybe that means he’s going to be alone for a long time. Maybe that means he occasionally wants to claw out his heart because it’s aching so much, beating and beating without anyone listening.

But - naively, stupidly, blindly - Harry holds out hope for a love that’s written across the stars. He can’t give up the feeling that there’s someone out there, waiting for him.

He’s just going to have to wait for them, too.

 

When he drifts off to sleep, it’s to the pleasant hum of Ross and Rachel bickering. His dreams are full of Central Park coffee houses, splattered raspberry cake, and bright blue eyes.

 

>>>

 

When Harry’s gone, Louis does a quick check - the girl and the two men that were here when he arrived must have left while he was talking to Harry, and Boner Guy fucked off when Harry did, which Louis wonders if he should be insulted by - before groaning and sinking to the floor.

So. That went. Pretty badly.

Louis buries his face in his hands. Not only did he completely embarrass himself in his introduction to Harry - sending a cake careening to the floor doesn’t exactly scream let me plan the rest of your life - he also almost revealed the fact that he’d never had any type of sex, which even he knows is considered abnormal in the Human world.

Cupids, quite frankly, don’t really see the point of sex. It just looks so... messy, for such little payoff. Louis knows that relationships, to Humans, aren’t complete without it, but no one in Heaven is ever bothered with Human urges like that. Like Louis told Harry (which, stupid), the only time Louis’ ever seen a boner was when he and Zayn were making fun of an unmatched Human romping around with his girlfriend in the sack, oblivious to the fact that she was bored stupid.

True as it might be, Louis’ lack of interest in coitus has never been something he’s revealed to a Human before. In fact, he's usually a lot smoother than he was with Harry.

He was just kind of thrown off guard, all right? He hadn’t expected Harry to be quite so... pretty. Liam had conveniently left out the wide green eyes, the soft curls tied back in a headscarf, the plush lips, the fucking dimples. He might be the best-looking Human Louis has ever seen, and that category includes the likes of David Beckham, so it’s not faint praise.

“Lou?”

Louis jolts upright, then relaxes when he realizes it’s just Liam, dressed in tight jeans and a turtleneck that he keeps tugging at. “How’d bartending go?”

Liam sighs and plops down next to Louis. “I told you, I’m not bartending, I’m just going to become a regular customer. But, you know, it was fine. Niall talks a mile a minute, but he’s perfectly welcoming, and he wasn’t the least bit suspicious when I had the 'spur of the moment' idea that I’d bring a mate of mine named Louis to his bar tomorrow night, and that, by the way, Louis might even bring his co-worker along.” Liam turns to Louis expectantly. “How’d you do with Harry?”

Ah. Right. Niall.

Louis sort of forgot about mentioning his mate Liam who has a friend named Niall.

Harry’s eyes are very green, okay?

Louis clears his throat. “Er, well, I didn’t get around to asking him to drinks yet - “

“What?” Liam’s puppy eyes widen. “Lou, that was the whole point of tonight! We can’t be down here unsupervised for long - if anyone notices before we’re successful - or if we’re not successful - “

“Okay, breathe,” Louis exclaims, laying a hand on Liam’s shoulder. “First off, we are going to be successful. Second off, I was laying the foundation. I’ve done this plenty of times, okay? You have to earn their trust first. We know each other’s names now. That’s the first step.”

“Louis, you’re supposed to invite him for drinks tomorrow night! You should practically be best friends by now! This is what we do, remember?”

Louis huffs, irritated. “Yeah, okay, whatever,” he says shortly. “It’ll be fine, all right? Can we stop with the bloody lecture?”

Liam’s tense for a few seconds longer, and then he deflates. “Yeah, sorry,” he says, rubbing his face with his hands. “I just feel anxious about this whole thing, you know? We’re really not supposed to be down here. Like this.”

Louis does know. He knows that if this doesn’t go well, it’s going to be an absolute disaster. Wingmen can’t just wander around, matching people on their own - it’s strictly forbidden, and if anyone notices that they’re down here without permission, there’ll be hell to pay. Louis doesn’t even want to think what kind.

But. Louis has hope that if they do a good job, if they prove that they can be trusted to couple people up on their own, Simon really will see their potential, and he’ll elevate them to Arrow status. They’ll be the first Wingmen to get their promotion through self-matching. They’ll be legends.

So this has to go well.

It has to.

 

After he’s cleaned up the cake, Louis spends the rest of the night wandering around, immersing himself in Human experiences while Liam, like the goddamn tourist he is, fucks off to visit Fat Ben. (Or is it Big Ben?) Louis, on the other hand, knows how to make the most of being on Earth. Some Wingmen use their time down here to learn as much as possible about Human life, but Louis has his priorities straight. Plus, he already knows who David Beckham is (and what mini hot dogs taste like), so he’s pretty much set.

He stuffs himself full of all the junk food he wants from a local WaWa, snapping his fingers at the security so his eyes glaze over and he doesn’t notice him sneak off without paying. (That magic, he can do. Sigh. If only he could snap his fingers at Harry and Niall and make them fuck on sight.) He spends an interesting hour sitting in some random person’s empty apartment in front of a TV they left on, watching a blonde-haired lady (on a channel apparently named after a fox) rail against a pretty woman named ‘Caitlyn Jenner’. Louis doesn’t know who she is, and he doesn’t really follow what she did to deserve the blonde woman’s obvious hatred, so he eventually surmises that she’s jealous of her figure and leaves the apartment to peruse more 24-hour stores.

When he gets bored of eating Doritos, he taps his watch and travels to France for a bit, since he doesn’t much fancy curling up in a random alleyway and trying to sleep. It’s frustrating that he can’t return home for a few hours - once Wingmen have left for a mission, they can only travel on Earth until it’s complete, which is a total drag if it takes longer than a few days and scary if they’re on Earth illicitly. Louis just prays Simon doesn’t notice they’ve left before they finish the job.

France is fun - Louis ends up in Paris, and he munches a brioche he nicked and wanders along the Seine bridge. He inspects some of the padlocks, wondering how many of these couples were meant to be, how many were matched by Cupids.

When the sun starts to rise, Louis travels back to England. He knows Harry’s schedule, thanks to an unsuspecting Barb - he works the 2 o’clock to 6 o’clock shift on Tuesdays, which naturally means that Louis works that shift as well. Plenty of time to suggest a post-bakery drink.

Louis’ not really sure why he feels so nervous. He thinks it might have something to do with those wide green eyes.

Chapter Text

“Harry!” Louis cries as soon as Harry enters the bakery, bringing in a gust of wind with him. He’s dressed in a big overcoat and a green beanie, his lips puffy.

Harry smiles, looking a little bemused. “Hey, Louis,” he greets. Louis frowns. Harry's supposed to think they're best friends by this point, that wasn’t nearly enthusiastic enough.

“Um, excuse me?” the man behind the counter - Louis’ first customer of the day, in fact, seeing as he took over only a minute ago - says snottily. “If you’re done socializing, I’d like a cheese pastry.”

Louis drops down to his knees so he can scowl at the display and not the man’s face. He scans the racks for cheese pastries, but can’t find any.

He feels a warm hand on his shoulder. “Over there,” Harry says quietly, pointing to a row of cheese pastries on the other side of the room.

“Thanks,” Louis says gratefully, turning to look at Harry. He’s caught off guard by how close they are, close enough that Louis can see himself reflected in Harry’s pupils. Puffs of cold air from Harry’s breath waft over Louis’ face. Up close, he smells... well. A bit lovely.

The man coughs, loudly and obnoxiously. They both shoot up. “Here’s your pastry,” Louis says shortly, all but lobbing the treat at the man. He rings him up, giving himself an internal clap for figuring out how to work the cash register and count change all in one day, and waves sarcastically when he leaves.

Harry watches the entire exchange with an amused expression on his face. “I’m going to guess you weren’t hired for your customer service skills,” he says dryly.

I wasn’t hired at all, I magicked your boss into thinking I was qualified so I could set you up with your soulmate. “Yeah, not the best at that stuff,” Louis says easily. “Never been one to suffer fools.” This much is true - Louis is the first person to call Nick on his shit, even if he’s not playing with the powerful, Arrow-shaped cards that Nick is.

Harry nods, smiling. “Better not be foolish, then.” He dons his apron and goes to check on some pies or whatever in the back.

While he’s gone, Louis drums his nails on the counter, trying to think of how best to approach asking Harry out for a pint. They haven’t got off to the best of starts, so he’s not sure if they’ve really reached post-work-drink levels yet.

Harry pops his head back out. “Hey, Louis? I’ll work the counter if you’d go back and heat up some cherry turnovers for me?”

“Yeah, sure,” Louis mumbles, not really listening. He spends the walk back to the kitchen crafting how to pop the question. When the door swings shut behind him, he snaps out of it.

Oh, God.

Baking.

Okay. So, Louis was kind of hoping this point wouldn’t come. He has no fucking clue how to bake whatsoever.

The oven is scary-looking. There are all these different knobs, and buttons, and Louis doesn’t know what any of them mean. He jabs uncertainly at one of them, and the oven immediately lights up. Louis jumps back. And is immediately grateful that Harry was not around to see that.

He peers at the small, glowing screen, but it’s not helpful. Deciding to follow his instincts, he opens the oven gingerly and stuffs in the tray of turnovers, then shuts the door, presses a few random buttons for good measure, and takes a calming breath. “Well done, Louis,” he mutters to himself.

Of course, Harry chooses that moment to poke his head into the room. “Did you just... congratulate yourself on putting in the turnovers?”

“No,” Louis says quickly.

Harry bites his lip like he’s trying not to smile. “Ah. Then what have you done that deserves praise?”

Louis is about to joke that his mere existence merits praise, but then he has a better idea. “Well, I’ve just convinced my friend Liam to go out for drinks with me tonight. He’s just discovered this new bar that he likes called MacLaren’s, have you been?”

Harry shakes his head. His hair, freed from his beanie and curling gently at his shoulders, shakes with him. Louis is struck with a bizarre urge to bury his hands in it and see if it feels as glorious as it looks.

Louis starts. Focus. “Would you like to come?” He asks, careful to keep his tone casual. No pressure, just my ass and the rest of your life on the line.

Harry looks surprised. “Would that be cool with you?”

Louis shrugs. Casual. He’s sooooo fucking casual. “Yeah, you seem like a nice enough bloke. Plus, if we’re gonna be working together, we need to bond, eh?” Harry’s too far away from him for a laddy shoulder bump, so Louis settles for a friendly smile. At least, he hopes it’s friendly, and not come with me come with me YOU HAVE TO COME WITH ME AND MEET THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE.

Harry smiles back, looking pleased. Louis can feel his own grin growing at the sight of those dimples. “Yeah, sure,” Harry says. “Why not?”

Yes. “Awesome,” Louis says brightly. “So, after work we’ll just walk over, yeah? It’s right around the corner.” Louis forces himself to pause. “Liam says the service is great. Apparently the bartender’s really great.” You said great twice, idiot. Damn. He’s usually so much smoother than this. What is it about Harry that gets him so off his game?

“I’m stoked,” Harry says, still smiling. “Well, I better get back out, I only came in here to - “

But what exactly Harry came in to do, Louis never finds out, because at that moment the oven makes a terrifying banging noise. Louis shrieks and leaps back. “Shit!” Harry shouts, rushing over and yanking open the oven door. Smoke pours out, and Harry leans back, coughing and waving it away from his face. He grabs a mitt and delves into the oven, pulling out - shit - a tray of what were cherry turnovers, but are now nothing but charred lumps.

Harry stares at the black mounds of dough for a moment before pushing the oven shut with his foot, jabbing at a few buttons, and setting the tray down gingerly.

For a few seconds, the room is quiet. Louis has no idea what Harry’s thinking.

“So,” Harry says slowly. “Hired totally out of the blue. No customer skills. And you don’t know how to work an oven.”

Louis’ heart is hammering in his chest. “I, er, look dope in an apron?” he tries.

Harry’s eyebrows fly up, and he barks out a laugh. “I’m not sure that’s a valid reason for employment, Louis.”

Louis’ shoulders relax a little. “Okay, so I’m not the best at, like, baking stuff,” he admits.

Harry’s nose scrunches up. He looks like an adorably confused kitten. “Then... I’m not trying to be rude, but why’d you want to work here?” He generously leaves the and why were you hired unsaid.

Louis looks down at his shoes, wracking his brain for an answer. He obviously can’t tell Harry the real reason he took this job. Harry wouldn’t believe him anyway. For all that Humans like to read books and watch movies about magical beings, they spend a lot of time denying their existence. “I...” Why would a Human work here?

“I needed the money,” Louis says finally, raising his head. “I really, really need the money.”

Harry’s face softens. “I understand that,” he says gently. “You don’t have to be ashamed or anything.”

Louis shrugs uncomfortably. Weirdly, he does feel sort of ashamed, but not because of that. It’s strange, given that it’s basically his job, but he doesn’t like lying to Harry. His face is too... open to lie to. It’s not a qualm Louis’ ever had before. “Yeah, well. I don’t even have a home right now, so.” At least that’s true.

Harry’s mouth turns down at the corners when Louis says that. He fiddles with the strings on his apron, then bursts out, “Do you want to stay at my place?”

Louis stares. “You’d let me? Just like that?”

“Well, I know what it’s like to be hard up for cash, and I can’t imagine not having anywhere to sleep. I know we, like, don’t really know each other, but if you need a couch to crash on for a few weeks or whatever, you can have mine,” Harry says earnestly. There’s nothing but honesty in the way he’s looking at Louis.

Louis feels a bit. Stunned.

Looking down on Earth, it’s so easy to see all the bad things that Humans do, the terrible ways they treat each other. Louis sometimes has to turn away because of all the evil he sees. Being a Wingman helps, because the love that he fosters is pure and untainted, but he sees a lot of toxic relationships, too, where awful people who aren’t meant for each other trail poison in their lover’s veins and then leave them to nurse the wounds alone. There’s so many people struggling to cope with shattered hearts, and there’s so many people who don’t even care how many hearts they smash.

Louis is struck by how different, how kind Harry is. He barely knows Louis, after all. To him, Louis’ just an under-qualified stranger who can’t bake for shit. And yet here he is, giving Louis a home. His home.

Louis never gets choked up, as a rule. But that belies the massive fucking lump in his throat.

He swallows around that and forces himself to speak. “That’s. That would be great. Thanks so much, Harry.” It feels inadequate. Harry’s basically standing here, restoring his faith in Humanity, and he doesn’t even know it.

“It’s no problem,” Harry says sincerely. “I’ve definitely been there.” He pauses. “Well, not the homeless part, but that was only because I had a friend give me somewhere to stay. I figure it’s the least I can do.”

“Fair warning, I’m a bit messy,” Louis says. Whenever he sneaks into a Human’s house and kips there for the night, he generally leaves it worse off than he found it.

“It’s cool, I’ve always wanted to clean up after someone,” Harry says eagerly, then reddens.

“Look at that, we’re made for each other,” Louis says without thinking. He feels himself blush - what an idiotic thing to say, Harry’s made for Niall - but Harry just brightens like he agrees. Louis tries not to be so endeared. Those fucking dimples.

Harry sticks his hand out. “So, roommates?”

Louis laughs. “We shook yesterday because we were co-workers. I’m invading your entire life.”

Harry grins and pockets his hand. “Fair enough.” He quiets and looks down, scuffing his foot on the floor. “For the record, I think my life could use a little invading.”

 

Louis gets more and more... something the closer they get to the bar. He’s not sure if it’s excitement or nerves or a combination of the two, but - this is it. Harry’s about to meet his soulmate. He’s about to fall madly in love with someone. This is huge.

The hollowness in his stomach must be due to nerves. He almost wants to turn around and take Harry back to his - their - place because he’s so fucking nervous. It’s weird. He’s never been this freaked out about a match before. But, he’s never actually chosen the couple before.

When they swing the door to the bar open, Louis spots Liam immediately. He’s sitting across from a blonde, blue-eyed bartender that must be Niall. Must-Be-Niall is cackling about something Liam said, which is strange, because Liam’s, like, not funny.

Liam catches sight of Louis and beckons him over. “Harry, this is Liam,” Louis says, waving his hand in Liam’s general direction. He looks at Liam pointedly while the two of them shake and Harry murmurs a 'hello'.

“And this,” Liam says smoothly, clapping a hand on Niall’s shoulder, “is Niall.”

This. This is the moment that makes being a Wingman bearable.

Humans like to belittle theories about destiny and soulmates, as a rule, which means that they are generally very cynical about the idea of ‘love at first sight’. Only a few of them even think that exists.

But Louis knows different. When two people are meant to be - when Louis’ down here, introducing them - there’s a click. There’s a spark that flashes, just for a second. He can see it in the way they’ll go momentarily speechless before recovering themselves. He can see it in the way they stare a little bit too long before putting out their hand.

Louis and Liam both watch Harry slide his gaze over to Niall’s bright blue eyes. And...

Nothing.

There’s no moment of stunned silence. There’s no beat where they look into each other’s eyes like where have you been all my life? Harry just shakes Niall’s hand, they flash each other a grin, and then turn back to Liam and Louis.

Shit.

No. Okay. Louis ignores Liam’s panicked look and focuses on his breathing. It’s fine. It’s fine. Not every couple has that moment. Okay, sure, he’s seen it in all his other matchings, but Harry and Niall are absolutely meant to be. Louis and Liam are Wingmen. They matched them. They know what the fuck they’re doing.

“So!” Louis says brightly, trying to diffuse the tension that's emanating in waves from Liam. He slides into a barstool next to Liam, and Harry does the same. The bar is pretty quiet tonight, thankfully, so Niall doesn’t have to actually, like, do his job. “Niall! Where are you from?”

“Well, Mullingar, originally,” Niall responds, “but I moved to Manchester for school.”

“Wait, did you go to the University of Manchester?” Harry puts in. Yes, Harry.

NIall nods. Harry’s face lights up. “Me too! That’s so weird, I never saw you.”

“Not sure how you missed me, mate. You can hear my laugh from a mile away,” Niall chuckles. Harry grins. “Some people like it, some people don’t.”

“I like it,” Harry says honestly. “Because I did, you know, hear it. Like, when I walked in.”

Niall throws his head back and cackles, and, wow. It is a bit hyena-like. But Harry doesn’t seem to mind, just laughing along with him. Now, Harry. Harry has a wonderful squawk of a laugh. His dimples look adorable punctuating his cheeks like that.

And, what the fuck is Louis thinking again?

Louis shoots Liam a look that says plainly See? They’re bonding. Calm the fuck down. Liam replies with a look that says either Don’t tell me what to do or You’re a genius and I am thankful every day that you are in my life. Louis isn’t sure which.

“Where do you live?” Louis asks Niall helpfully.

“Right around the corner from here, actually, on Whitworth.”

Harry leans forward eagerly. “Wait, seriously? I live on that street too.”

Niall’s eyebrows shoot up. “Mate, how have we not run into each other before?”

The two of them get down to brightly discussing the best stores on Whitworth, and from there the conversation flows naturally to their shared university. Louis just sits back and watches it happen, occasionally exchanging knowing glances with Liam.

He can see why Liam described Niall as friendly. He’s basically a ball of sunshine. He laughs every other second, which sets Harry off laughing, and when he’s not laughing, he’s smiling. He just looks so happy to be there, to exist.

He also looks a lot like the typical Human idea of what a Cupid is - blue eyes, blonde hair, bubbly and cute. All he’s missing is the diaper, and the offensive stereotype is complete. (Although the diaper thing is totally out of line. Louis has no idea where that concept came from, but it’s definitely all wrong. Not to mention rude. Like, apparently Louis can’t control his bowel movements?)

He talks incredibly fast, too, which is the polar opposite of Harry, who speaks slowly and with purpose, like he’s choosing his words very carefully. Words just spew out of Niall’s mouth. Harry seems perfectly capable of keeping up, though, laughing along to some story Niall’s telling about a History professor he had. His eyes are twinkling, and those fucking dimples are on full display.

Watching them, Louis realizes - like he always does - that this is it. They’re falling in love, right here, right now.

He usually feels a little happier when a matching is successful.

 

When Niall gets off work, they all go to a booth. Louis sits down first, and Harry slides in so he’s sitting across from him, not Niall. Liam narrows his eyes like it’s Louis’ fault. Louis resists the urge to stick his tongue out. He’s a professional.

“On me, lads,” Niall says as he doles out bottles of beer. Liam and Louis wait until Harry and Niall are drinking to raise the bottles to their lips and then casually let the liquid stream to the floor instead of into their mouths. They need to keep their wits about them. (Again. Professional. Louis deserves more than a promotion, he deserves an award.)

“So, Louis, where are you from?” Niall asks brightly.

“Doncaster,” Harry and Louis say at the same time. Louis shoots a look at Harry, who grins and continues. “He’s from Doncaster, he has four younger sisters and one brother, he went to King’s College, he majored in English, and what he really wants to do is... bake?” Harry turns to Louis with confusion clouding his eyes, like he’s just now wondering why Louis said that if, as evidenced by Louis’ disastrous first day, he can’t bake.

“I want to learn,” Louis says quickly. “You’ll have to teach me.”

"I'm a good teacher," Harry agrees, leaning over the table a little. His eyes are glinting, and, sorry, what's happening now?

“Wait, you two work at Heaven Scent?” Niall interjects. Harry slides his gaze away from Louis. “My friend Josh always brings me pastries from there! They’re fucking sick.”

Harry dips his head graciously. “Thank you, thank you.”

Niall gestures to Louis. “Doesn’t he make any?”

“I just started,” Louis supplies before Harry can bring up the cherry turnover incident. “I’m not, er, the most proficient baker yet.”

“But he will be, once I’m through with him,” Harry cuts in, his eyes twinkling at Louis like they’re sharing a joke. It makes Louis feel a bit unsettled.

“What’d you study, mate?” Niall asks Louis.

“Er - “ fuck - “Economics,” Louis invents wildly.

Niall nods sagely. “So you’re a finance guy, not like Harry here.”

All the light seems to go out of Harry’s face, and he looks down at his beer bottle. “I mean, I’m not really a Music guy, either,” he says quietly.

“What? Sure you are! You got the degree!” Niall says enthusiastically.

Harry shakes his head. His eyes have clouded over a little. “Yeah, but...”

“Well what’s stopping you then, mate?”

Harry bites his lip. Louis feels a flash of irritation for Niall. He knows he has no idea what he’s doing - Niall’s so bright he probably doesn’t even recognize spots of darkness - but Harry’s gone all tense at Niall’s persistence. “So, Niall, how long have you been working here?”

Harry shoots Louis a grateful look as Niall launches into the story of how he got this job. Liam nods right along so Niall doesn’t notice anything’s amiss, although he kicks Louis under the table, presumably for interrupting their conversation. Louis glares at Liam, trying to send a telepathic I couldn’t just let Harry sit there all uncomfortable, which Liam obviously does not receive. They really need to work on their mind messages. It sucks that Louis' magic is pretty much limited to letting him steal things.

They all make some more small talk before calling it a night. Liam suggests meeting back here for drinks tomorrow, and Louis’ enthusiasm gets Harry to agree. Liam seems dissatisfied as they leave, though, probably because Harry and Niall aren’t exactly ripping each other’s clothes off. Louis tries to send him a pacifying glance as he and Harry head out the door, but he’s a bit too focused on the fact that he’s about to sleep in the same house as a Human. As in, invited. What the fuck.

It’s snowing when they step out on the street. Louis’ dressed in some clothes he stole last night - tight jeans and a thin t-shirt with the name of some band he’s never heard of across the front - and he’s freezing his balls off, clutching the small duffel bag of stolen clothes that Liam handed over to him at the bar. After Harry offered him a place to stay, Louis 'went to the loo’ to travel to Liam and tell him that he needed clothes to kip at Harry's. Liam wasn’t really on board with the idea, claiming that Louis was getting too involved in Harry’s life, but Louis’ arguments - “Look, Li, this is a good thing, I can use the entire time to sell him on Niall, and anyway, we’re already setting them up with their soulmates, we’re pretty involved as is” - convinced him.

A part of Louis agrees with Liam. He feels closer to Harry than he usually does with any of the Humans he matches, and it's messing with his head a little, like he thinks that they're actually friends.

When he starts shivering violently, Harry shrugs off his coat and nestles it around Louis’ shoulders without him even asking, quietly taking Louis’ bag from his hands. Louis burrows deep in its warmth and ignores his conscience, which nags that Niall should be the one wearing Harry’s coat and walking home with him in the snow. Plenty of time for that yet.

“Thanks for, you know,” Harry says quietly. “What you did back there.”

Louis doesn’t make Harry say it. “It was nothing, mate.”

Harry keeps fidgeting. “Do you want to talk about it?” Louis asks, careful not to push.

Harry sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. “I just. Of course I want to be a musician, you know? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted that. I used to, like, know all of the Rolling Stones songs by heart. Still do, actually. I always imagined myself as Mick Jagger.”

Louis has no idea who that is. He’s not on his Sexy Humans list, and Louis’ knowledge of the Human world is limited to what he can glean from his visits. “Right.”

“It’s just, like, so impossible to make happen.” Harry kicks at the light powder dusting the ground. “I went to all these record labels, and I kept fucking singing on the street just hoping someone would discover me, and it feels so stupid, now. I don’t even - I don’t even like singing anymore. Every time I start to, in the shower or wherever, I’m just reminded that there’s no point. Nothing’s going to happen. There’s no one listening but me.”

Louis’ heart is tightening with every word out of Harry’s mouth. Louis so rarely feels attached to the minuscule problems that Humans obsess over, since most of them are inconsequential, but Harry. Harry’s different.

Harry is kind, kind enough to let Louis stay at his house, and honest, and sincere, and. His shoulders are all hunched like he’s carrying the world on them. Louis just wants to lighten the load.

“Harry,” Louis says. He nudges Harry’s hand with his own so Harry turns to look at him, which he does, reluctantly. “You love singing, yeah?” When Harry furrows his brow, Louis waves his hand. “I don’t mean, do you love singing right now, when you’re feeling like it’s worthless and you can’t even bring yourself to do it. But like you said, that’s always been it for you. It’s what you’ve always wanted to do. And if you love to sing, if you’re the kind of person who wants to be singing in the shower and on the streets and for a living, then how can you say it has no point?”

“Because - “

“I know you said that no one’s listening but you, but, Harry, that’s just it. You’re listening.” Louis looks down at his hands, trying to gather his thoughts. “Why did you study Music?”

“To be a musician,” Harry says slowly, like Louis is a few arrows short of a bundle.

“Fair enough. Why do you want to be like Mick Jagger? Why do you even want to have a high-paying job at all?”

“Money,” Harry responds quickly. He has a look in his eyes like he’s someone who knows what it means to be without.

“Right, money.” This. Humans never understand this. “Why do you want to have a lot of money?”

Harry seems to have caught onto the pattern of the conversation, because he doesn’t scoff at the question, though it seems obvious. “House, car, anything. With money like that, you get - you get everything.”

“Okay, so, Harry. Why do you want those things?”

“Because - “ Harry stops abruptly, like his thoughts have run into a brick wall. Louis knows that look. He understands that look. Humans never ask each other why they want the perks of wealth. It’s just assumed that everyone does. “To be happy,” he says eventually, but he sounds uncertain.

“So if the ultimate goal - “ Louis stops and turns to Harry, because he wants him to understand, he wants it to sink in - “ - if the ultimate goal is happiness, Harry, then you should feel okay with singing when you’re the only one listening. Singing is what makes you happy, so how can you say it doesn’t have a purpose when it’s just for you? It has the most important purpose.” Louis pauses, then says gently, “You could be a baker for the rest of your life, and you could be happy singing just for yourself. Or you could be happy singing for stadiums, too. But if the stadiums aren’t coming all that quickly, you can’t stop singing because it feels worthless. It’s not worthless. Music is a part of you, and it doesn’t matter if you make money from that or not. What matters is how it’s making you feel. And if you can sing in the shower and that makes you happy, then music is doing what it’s supposed to be doing in your life. With or without a record deal.”

Harry’s eyelashes are dusted with snowflakes, and when he blinks down at Louis, mouth slightly open, they flutter softly onto his cheeks. After a few moments, Harry clears his throat and looks at his shoes. “That’s,” he says. “That’s lovely.” He blushes. “Of you to say, I mean. That’s lovely of you to say. To me.” He chews at his bottom lip before releasing it, leaving it wet and red, and finally looks back up at Louis. His eyes are shining. “Thank you.”

Louis is a bit mesmerized by how green his eyes look against the white flurries around them. “You’re welcome,” he says a little dazedly.

A woman bumps into Louis, and he stumbles, blue breaking from green. “Oi!” he shouts, but she barrels past him, collar high against her neck to block out the snow. Louis rolls his eyes and turns back to Harry, who’s still looking at him with something that resembles awe.

Louis coughs, feeling a bit uncomfortable. Niall, Niall, Niall, a part of his brain hisses. “So, enough dawdling, yeah? Take me home, Harold.”

Niall, Niall, Niall.

Why the fuck does he even have to remind himself?

 

>>>

 

“So, this is me,” Harry says.

Nervous. Why is he so nervous?

Okay, so no one’s been here overnight since, well, since he bought the place. It’s fine. Harry’s fine.

Louis walks past him into the living room. Harry drops the tiny duffel bag that, Harry presumes, contains Louis’ clothes and the like - although it feels very light to be holding all his worldly possessions, which makes Harry’s chest ache a bit - and follows.

Louis’ still wearing Harry’s coat, clutching the too-long sleeves to make paws, and his feathery hair has dots of snow in it. He looks just as gorgeous as he did the first time Harry saw him.

He’s also very interested in Harry’s apartment. He keeps walking around, picking things up and then putting them down. He spends a good ten seconds just staring in fascination at a giant snow globe. “There’s snow inside,” he says aloud.

“Haven’t you ever seen a snow globe before?”

“Hmm? Oh, absolutely,” Louis says vaguely. “Oh, look!” He runs over to Harry’s kitchen and swings open the refrigerator door. His face lights up, and he pulls out a packet of mini hot dogs. “Mini hot dogs! These are the shit, Harry!”

“Uh, I guess?” Harry’s a bit bemused. Louis’ acting like he never eats them.

For a second, his mind flashes back to Louis at the bakery. I just don’t get to eat stuff like this all the time. Maybe Louis is on a diet.

Which would be a massive shame. No, scratch that. It would be a disservice to the entire human population if Louis lost that magnificent ass. Or those luscious thighs.

Harry clears his throat, hoping it will have the simultaneous effect of clearing his head. “Do you want some?”

Louis answers by ripping open the package and stuffing a hot dog in his mouth. He coughs and swallows, his face contorting in disgust. “Why don’t these taste as good as I remember?”

“You know you’re supposed to heat them up, right?”

Louis’ eyes flash up to him. “Obviously,” he says haughtily. He then turns to Harry’s oven, and panic crosses his face.

Remembering the day’s earlier events, Harry stifles a laugh and takes the package. “It might be best if I do it?” He turns it into a question for Louis’ sake.

Louis’ mouth twitches. “I mean, I could. I’m just, like, a bit tired.”

Harry hums noncommittally as he puts the hot dogs in the oven. “Absolutely.”

Louis swats his arm, and Harry’s skin burns at the slight contact. Louis draws his hand away quickly, too quickly. “I get the feeling you’re not buying my perfectly legitimate excuse, Harry.”

“Well, you have failed to showcase any talent with ovens so far,” Harry muses.

Louis gasps in mock-outrage. “That oven was rigged!”

Harry laughs openly at that, and, after a beat, Louis drops the act and laughs, too, all lovely and raspy. His eyes crinkle up when he smiles for real, and Harry suddenly wants to make him look like that again, and again - not the fake smile he was wearing when he talked to customers in the bakery, but this smile. Harry feels privileged that he gets to see it, see the real Louis.

Louis seems like a pretty closed off guy; he never actually mentioned why he doesn’t have a place to stay, and of course Harry isn’t going to push, but he wants to know more about him. He feels oddly drawn to him, like there’s an invisible thread between them.

It’s a weird feeling to have about someone he only met yesterday. He feels like he’s known him for much longer.

They end up sitting at Harry’s counter, Louis’ feet swinging adorably and Harry’s coat flung unceremoniously on the floor. When Louis takes a bite of the mini hot dog, he moans out loud in appreciation. Harry shifts in his jeans. “Harry. This. This is everything.”

“They’re good,” Harry agrees, savoring the taste on his own tongue. He’s seized by a brief and wild desire to lick into Louis’ mouth and taste it there, too.

Okay, it’s definitely been too long since he’s had sex.

“I’m going to keep you as my personal chef,” Louis decides. “You’ll protect me from all the evils in the world, like ovens. And - “ Louis’ nose scrunches up - “what else? Microwaves. You can deal with those, Harry.”

Harry laughs. “What exactly are you bringing to this relationship? An empty stomach?”

“And a fat wallet,” Louis says happily, popping another hot dog in his mouth. “I’d pay you, of course.”

“My going rate is a hundred dollars per hot dog,” Harry says seriously.

Louis pretends to think it over. “Fifty and I’ll throw in some free cake-knocking-over lessons.”

“It’s an art. You’re an artist.”

“Better than Leonardo diCaprio.”

Harry smothers a laugh. “Da Vinci, you mean?”

Louis looks disconcerted for a moment. “diCaprio’s the one with the jawline, right?”

Harry giggles again at the joke, a little giddily. Sue him if it’s fantastic news that Louis’ gay.

 

They wind up sitting on the couch with identical bowls of ice cream in their laps, because apparently Louis’ never seen an episode of One Tree Hill. He yawns pointedly in the beginning, more focused on spooning some of Harry’s ice cream into his mouth then the plot, but when Chad Michael Murray appears on screen, Louis promptly drops his bowl.

Harry makes a noise of protest and retrieves it before it does any damage to the couch, but Louis is too fixed on Chad’s face to notice. “Why didn’t you use him to sell me on the show?” he breathes.

Harry is torn between laughing and feeling a bit put out that he’s being upstaged by a TV character. “Careful, you don’t want to cheat on Leo.”

Louis waves his hand dismissively. “Please. Leo’s not my only...” he bites his lip. “Shore?”

“What?”

Louis screws his face up, apparently thinking hard, before it clears. “Bay!” he says delightedly. “Not shore. Bay. Leo’s not my only bay.”

Oh my God. “Bae? As in, b-a-e?”

“Sure,” Louis shrugs. “It’s hard to keep up with the lingo of - “ he stops abruptly. “Young people.”

Harry laughs incredulously. “What, like you’re ancient?” Actually, hang on. “Wait, how old are you?”

Louis flaps his hand impatiently. “I’m the same age as you. And sssh, Blue Eyes is talking.”

Harry can agree with that, although his reverence is for a different pair of blue eyes. “Is that what you like then?” He’s unable to stop himself asking. “Blue eyes?”

“Is that what you like?” Louis counters, still staring at the screen.

Harry bites his lip, his eyes raking over Louis’ features: the stubble on his jaw and above his lip, those cheekbones, and - yep - his blue, blue eyes, sparkling like the sea. “Yeah,” he says softly.

Louis turns at his voice. He seems a bit surprised by Harry’s expression, and they stare at each other for a few seconds before Louis looks down and fiddles with his fingers. “So,” he says. It sounds a little forced. “Niall has blue eyes.”

Harry is thrown by the segue. “I guess?”

Louis frowns. “They were really blue. Like the sky. Don’t you think?”

Harry’s about to say that he never noticed the color of Niall’s eyes, but Louis’ look is strangely fierce, so he doesn’t. “Yeah, they were nice,” he agrees, a little bemusedly.

He was nice,” Louis presses. Then he seems to check himself. “I mean, I’ve never met him before, he’s just a friend of Liam’s. Cool guy, though.”

“Actually, it was so weird I’d never seen Niall before,” Harry says thoughtfully. “I should have him over at some point, since he lives so close. Good lad.”

“Right,” Louis agrees. Some of the tension seems to leave his shoulders, although he still has an odd expression on his face, like he’s equal parts annoyed and relieved. “You guys, uh, seemed to get on well.”

“Yeah, he’s funny. He had the same crazy Calc teacher that I did - different year than me, though,” Harry laughs, remembering.

“Well, good,” Louis says shortly. Harry furrows his brow, confused. Louis coughs. “Good,” he repeats, a little more calmly.

“So what do you like?” Harry blurts before he can stop himself.

Louis blinks at him. “What?”

“Is it blue eyes?” Harry asks, trying to sound teasing instead of eager. “Or, I dunno, tattoos?”

Louis shrugs. “I’ve never seen a tattoo up close, so I wouldn’t know.”

Harry’s heart beats faster. “Do you want to?”

Louis’ confused look only lasts about a second before Harry starts slowly unbuttoning his shirt. Louis eyes go wide, and they go even wider when he sees the swallows on Harry’s torso.

Louis looks fascinated. He looks as fascinated as he was when he saw Boner Guy. He stretches out a hand, then pauses. “Can I - “

“Yeah,” Harry says quickly. Yes, now.

When Louis’ lithe fingers settle gently on Harry’s skin, Harry clamps down on his lip, because, God. It shouldn’t be anything, it shouldn’t be a turn-on, but the way Louis is tracing the shapes on his skin - the way his tongue is poking out of his mouth in concentration, the way Harry can’t stop imagining putting that tongue to better use - has Harry feeling like his every nerve is on fire.

Louis says something. Harry tries to focus. “Are there... other ones?”

Harry just nods. He loves getting tattooed, loves the sharp sting that’s accompanied with a permanent reward.

He’s not prepared for Louis to slowly start unbuttoning the rest of his shirt, revealing the butterfly on his chest. Louis makes a small noise at that, and his fingers flit down to trace the contours of the tattoo.

Harry feels like he has a small bird next to him, and if he moves an inch, it’ll fly away. He just watches, wide-eyed and still, as Louis skids his fingers over Harry’s skin, leaving a trail of sparks wherever he touches.

“Did it hurt?” Louis asks, almost reverently.

“You get used to it,” Harry breathes. He can’t take his eyes off Louis - Louis, who’s staring at his chest in wonder.

Suddenly desperate to trap that look, to keep it on him - and not fucking Chad Michael Murray - Harry pushes up the sleeve of his shirt. “Rose.”

Louis doesn’t shift his head, his fingers still dancing across his chest. “Hmmm?”

Harry flushes. “My favorite is the rose.”

Louis drags his gaze away from the butterfly, and his eyebrows rise at the tattoo on Harry’s arm. He runs his hand up the stem and draws circles on the petals, completely entranced. His lips move, and Harry berates himself for being unable to pay attention to anything other than Louis’ touch. “Sorry?” he asks, a bit breathlessly.

“Why?” Louis says simply, still fluttering his fingers over the rose.

Harry is having a hard time focusing on Louis’ question when his dick has completely missed the memo that he and Louis are just friends. “I... um, saw it in a tattoo parlor,” Harry manages. He’s dying to cup himself, his cock is fattening with every stroke of Louis’ fingers, God. This has the potential to be embarrassing, but it feels too good - too good to have Louis touching him, too good to have all that energy directed solely at him - to ask him to stop. “Saw a tattoo of a rose and a dagger. Like, um, soulmates? So I... got the rose. Figured I’d get the dagger when I...” he trails off, realizing just how stupid he sounds.

At the word ‘soulmates’, Louis’ head shoots up. He seems to realize what he’s doing, and abruptly, he yanks his hand back and clears his throat. He scoots away from Harry and stares determinedly at the floor.

“Well, I’m quite tired,” he says, a little too forcefully. “Need to get changed and everything. See you in the morning, yeah?”

Unable to follow the shift in mood, Harry scrambles to stand up and turn around, willing the bulge in his pants to soften. He’s not sure what just happened - not sure if he’s just been rejected or hit on - but if it’s the former, he needs to get away before Louis sees just how much he liked that little episode. “Yeah, cool, mate,” he says, wishing his voice were a little less rough. “Let me know if you need anything. See you in the morning.”

He shuts off the TV and all but runs upstairs. When he gets to his room, he contemplates going to sleep rather than taking care of his semi-hard cock for about three seconds before locking the door and getting into a comfortable position on his bed.

Once Harry’s wrapped a hand around his dick, his mind flashes, unbidden, to Louis downstairs. He’s probably getting changed in the bathroom right now. Maybe he sleeps in his boxers, his lovely, tanned skin and those supple, thick thighs on display.

Maybe he doesn’t sleep in anything at all.

Shit. Harry makes a hole with his fist and fucks into it, breathing hard. He bites his lip at the thought that it’s Louis’ lithe, quick fingers on his cock instead of his own. He tangles a hand in his sweaty curls, imagining it’s Louis tugging on them, and writhes on the bed with his eyes squeezed shut, barely swallowing a moan.

It feels so illicit to be doing this now, with Louis - who, for all intents and purposes, is still a stranger - right beneath him on the couch. Harry knows it’s too risky for Louis to hear him, so he struggles to stay quiet, but a small part of him burns at the idea of Louis knowing, of Louis getting - oh God - turned on by Harry’s little groans. He thinks of Louis shoving a hand down his pants and tipping that glorious face back, jerking himself off to the thought of Harry - shit - coming in him, or on him, painting those cheekbones with come. Marking him.

It isn’t going to take long with Louis for wank material. Harry brings his free hand down to his nipples and twists the right one sharply, hissing at the sensation. He imagines Louis’ tongue lapping at his slit, eager and excited like Louis himself. He thinks of Louis wrapping his lips, those beautiful, pink lips, around him, his buzzing energy narrowed down to Harry and Harry alone. Louis would take him in deep until his cock was nudging the back of his throat, and he’d hum happily all the while. He’d be content to serve Harry, content to - fuck - please him -

Harry bites down on his hand and bucks up once, twice, three times into his fist before coming in thick ropes onto his stomach.

For a few seconds, it’s just blinding, pulsing pleasure. Harry jerks himself through it. When he’s milked the last bit of come from his cock, he inhales sharply and exhales, trying to regulate his breathing.

He comes down from his high slowly, playing idly with the short, soft hairs on his stomach, licking the come off his fingers.

He feels just sated enough to admit to himself that he has a crush on his co-worker.

And he feels just drowsy enough to admit that he really needs to get laid.

 

>>>

 

Louis growls in frustration. When he told Liam to give him clothes for staying with Harry, he assumed that Liam would have the fortitude to pack pyjamas, which he knows for a fact Humans sleep in.

Instead, after rifling through his duffel bag, he finds another ratty band t-shirt, a grey button-down, a pair of skinny black jeans, and, inexplicably, braces.

Louis shoves the bag away and strips out of his jeans, which are squeezing his ass a little too much, anyway, and flops down on the blanket on top of the couch. He doesn’t want to try and travel anywhere, since if Harry came down and noticed him gone, it could be disastrous. So all Louis can do is wait to fall asleep, and, in the meantime, try to untangle his own thoughts.

Because right now, he’s doesn’t understand himself at all.

Louis has always been good at knowing what he wants. He knew, for example, that he was - is - desperate to become an Arrow. He also knew that he found David Beckham sexy from the minute he traveled to one of his games to hook up two Manchester United fans in the crowd. He also knows that he does not want to be anywhere near an oven, which still seems like a terrifying contraption - today's earlier embarrassment hasn’t exactly made his fears dissipate.

But Louis has no clue what he’s feeling right now.

Harry is perfect for Niall. They laughed at each other’s jokes. They’re basically the same type of person. They looked good together - both more fucking cherubic than Louis himself.

So why doesn’t Louis feel happier about that fact?

When Louis had been talking to Harry about Niall - which hadn’t been smooth either, Louis has to step up his game if he wants this to be a success, which, shut up, voice-inside-his-head-that-sounds-a-lot-like-Liam, it will be - he’d gotten a sick sense of satisfaction from the fact that Harry didn’t really seem that enthused. Or, at least, he wasn’t gushing rainbows about Niall or acting like the sun shone out of his ass.

Which is... terrible. Yes.

Louis buries his face in the pillow and silent-screams. The fact is, Harry and Niall seem compatible, but Louis is having trouble discerning if sparks actually flew. He’s dealt with people who have kept their cards very close to their chest before, but even then he could always sense the attraction between them.

He’s not sure if he can sense it with Harry and Niall. He has to, it has to be there, but he’s just not positive. And that should make him panic, but whenever he thinks about the two of them together... his stomach twists a little. Not in a good way.

It’s all very confusing, and Louis, shutting his eyes and curling up, abruptly decides to put it out of his head until morning. He’ll be better tomorrow - he’ll properly sell Harry on Niall so he’ll ask him out (or agree if Niall asks him), and, once that happens, his work can be done. The soulmates will be matched, they’ll live happily ever after, and he and Liam will return back home to glowing praise and promotions.

And the buzzing in his head that resurfaces whenever he thinks about the feel of Harry’s soft, inked skin beneath his fingertips? Yeah. That’ll go away, too.

Chapter Text

Louis wakes up with an erection.

At least, that’s what he thinks it is. When he prods his swollen, leaking cock with his finger, like he’s inspecting a foreign species, it stays upright.

Louis just blinks dumbly at it. He must still be asleep. He must still be dreaming about... what was he dreaming about?...

Oh, fuck.

Oh, fuck. Something - something white-hot and pleasurable - rips through him, and Louis outright gasps and presses the blanket down, hard, on his cock, like that will make this problem go away.

He was dreaming about Harry. He was dreaming about a Human, a Human that he’s matching, and not just that - he was dreaming about... doing something to Harry. Something he’s never even thought of doing before.

Something that involved Harry’s cock and Louis’ mouth.

Louis’ dick positively throbs, and Louis whimpers. He’s never had a dream like that. He’s never had a fucking... this, either.

“This is a Human thing,” he hisses at his dick, praying to a God he still hasn’t met that Harry is sound asleep. “We’re better than this!”

His dick doesn’t appear to be listening, and he can’t really blame it. Louis’ brain, still half in his dream, is drowning in fucking images - images of Harry’s hands in his hair, images of Harry’s cock pushing against his lips, images of Harry’s neck thrown back in ecstasy - and every time a new one flashes before his eyes, he seems to get even harder. Where these images are coming from, Louis has no idea, but they’re there, like they’ve been buried inside him all his life.

Some primal part of himself that he’s never encountered before is screaming at him to take his cock in hand. Theoretically, Louis knows how masturbation works; he’s traveled into awkward situations before, like the time that he went to the bathroom at a restaurant to convince Brad Pitt he was meant for Angelina (side note: How fucking chuffed was Louis to get that assignment?) and heard him softly yeah-yeah-yeah-ing in a stall, and he’s been around rowdy, joking groups of guys enough to understand the basic mechanics of sexual activities. But he’s never had to, like, preform them. He’s never had the need.

The other part of Louis’ brain, the part controlled by his Wingman instincts, is telling him to close the door on this situation - didn’t a drunk Human once tell him that cold showers help with inconvenient boners? - but it’s warring with the new, ferocious side that’s demanding he deal with it another way. The Human way.

God, does Louis want to listen to the Human side.

Harry’s upstairs, his Wingman half warns as he squirms in his confining boxers. (Clothes are so fucking uncomfortable.) As soon as he thinks it, his eyes fall on a piece of paper on the coffee table, written in what he assumes is Harry’s loopy scrawl: ‘Went to the shops for milk! Be back around tenish’.

Louis twists his head around to look at the clock. It’s nine forty-five.

Fuck it.

“Fuck it,” he pants aloud, shoving a hand down his boxers. When his fist closes around his cock, he almost cries at how good it feels.

His brain is too fuzzy to consider the implications of - what are the kids calling it these days? - wanking over Harry, wanking over the Human he’s supposed to be matching with Niall. His rational, WIngman side is totally overpowered by the Human one, which must have a direct line to his dick because it has it all out weeping for attention.

Hesitantly, Louis curls his hand and pumps it slowly over his cock. He’s not prepared for the bolt of pleasure that assaults him, and he moans and then cuts himself off abruptly. He - Louis, Wingman, soon-to-be-Arrow - just made that noise.

And goddamn it, it felt good.

Louis shudders and pumps again, and again, and again, getting faster and faster. He’s rewarded by sharp surges of bliss coursing through his cock over and over. Distantly, he thinks, So this is what they live for, and then he doesn’t think anything anymore.

Experimentally, Louis twists his hand when he gets to the leaking part of his dick, and he almost keens over the delicious burn that coils in his stomach. Louis throws his head back and groans loudly. The couch squeaks under him when, on instinct, he bucks his hips up, his hand still working furiously over his cock like he’s done this his whole life. “God, fuck, fuck,” he huffs out, sweat-soaked and breathless, when the images of his dream come hurtling back at him: Harry standing above him, Harry looking down, wild-eyed, while Louis’ tongue swirls over his dick, Harry’s deep voice breaking when Louis hollows his cheeks and sucks. How the fuck Dream Louis knows how to do that, Wingman Louis has no idea. “Fu-ck, Harry, - “

His orgasm rams into him so hard he stops breathing, shooting something thick and milky white all over his hand and a little on his stomach while he cries out in ecstasy. Randomly, his traitorous, newly-Humanized brain chucks one last image at him - Harry thumbing at Louis’ cheek and whispering throatily ‘good boy’ - and Louis’ cock pulses through the finale of his orgasm, soaking his hand in more of the foreign substance as Louis squeezes his eyes shut and groans. “Shit, shit, shit,” he pants, his chest heaving, until he finally collapses, covered in - what’s it called? Oh, right, semen - and sated for the first time in his life.

Louis’ heard talk of a post-orgasm bliss from noisy, drunken college students and twenty-somethings in bars (married couples who weren’t formally matched seem to experience orgasms less, or at least don’t discuss them), but Louis only has about five seconds of a breathy, calming quiet before the panic kicks in.

Fuck. Fuck. He just masturbated. He just masturbated for the first time in his life, which probably means he lasted an embarrassingly short amount of time, and, what’s more, he just masturbated over Harry.

Louis stares down at his softening dick in horror. His Human half is apparently lazy and satisfied enough to let the Wingman part take over, and it is pissed. There’s an outraged, Liam-like screaming in his head that’s only getting louder as the spunk on his skin dries.

“Oh my God,” he says aloud, a Human habit that Wingmen have picked up even though they’ve never met a God. “Oh my God,” and then he’s rushing to the nearby sink and shoving his hands under the faucet, pushing the left handle with his elbow. He yelps when scalding water hits his hand. “Fuck,” he swears - okay, so the hot faucet is labeled with a red ring, but honestly, who would realize that? - and switches on the other handle so soothing, cold water splashes against his skin. It still does nothing to calm his thumping nerves or silence his buzzing brain.

Once he’s managed to clean himself off fully - and all the semen’s swirled down the drain - he leans both hands against the counter and bows his head. He’s reminded distantly of when he was in a church to pair up a pastor and a widow, and the mass of people all bowed their hands as a man standing over them rumbled, “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.”

I have sinned, Louis thinks, slightly hysterically. I wanked!

Louis squeezes his eyes shut and balls his hands (his sinful, wanking hands) into fists. “Cupids don’t get hard. Cupids don’t get hard. Cupids don’t get hard,” he chants under his breath.

But fuck if that wasn’t the best experience of your life, some sneaky voice in his head whispers.

“It wasn’t!” Louis barks in protest, louder than he intended.

“Hello? Louis?” Harry’s voice sounds from the foyer. His deep, throaty voice. Good boy, Louis thinks wildly. Oh no.

Cupids don’t get hard. Cupids don’t get hard. Cupids don’t get hard.

Niall. Niall. NIALL.

“Hi!” Louis says brightly. Too brightly. Harry ambles through the door, and Louis spins around to greet him. Do not let on.

“Hi!” Harry says, equally brightly. He has a similarly too-wide smile on his face. Louis briefly entertains the notion that Harry is also hiding a similar secret before dismissing it entirely. Harry is matched with Niall, damnit. He probably wanked over him at last night.

Louis gets a sudden head rush at the thought of Harry doing what Louis just did, even if he was fantasizing about Niall during it. Down, boy, he thinks frantically at his cock. His dick is like an overexcited puppy.

Oh, and he’s just now remembered that he’s only wearing a shirt and boxers. No wonder Harry looks so awkward.

“When does your next shift start?” Harry asks, wrenching Louis out of his inner turmoil.

Um. “When does yours start?”

Harry raises his eyebrows. “Twelve.”

“Same,” Louis says quickly. Harry looks a little suspicious, but at least he isn’t suspicious of Louis fantasizing about giving him... forehead? Louis can’t think of the proper term with those green eyes on him. (Niall...)

 

“I thought they were fighting for food,” Louis says stubbornly.

“What, like a war between, like, McDonald’s employees?” Harry asks incredulously.

Louis giggles. “Get me the Big Mac!” he commands in a bossman voice. (McDonald’s is the shit. Louis always eats it when he’s down on Earth.) “No, like, I thought it was, you fight for your town to have food for, like, a year, and then you do the Games again.”

“You’ve misunderstood the whole concept,” Harry says exasperatedly.

“Well, whatever,” Louis huffs. “I haven’t seen the film.”

“Or read the book?”

“I don’t read much.”

Harry clucks his tongue. “What do you do for fun, then?”

Louis shifts awkwardly, then mentally berates himself for shifting awkwardly. Harry doesn’t know what he did for fun this morning. “Well, now it’ll be watching One Tree Hill.”

“Don’t you listen to any music?” When Louis shrugs, Harry’s whole face lights up. “I’ve got to show you Ed Sheeran sometime.”

Louis forces himself to turn away and look down at the rolling pin before him. (He and Harry got here an hour early and went to the back so they could, to quote Harry, “do something about that baking phobia”.) He can’t make any plans for the future with Harry - not only will he not be around, Niall’s the one he should be showing Ed Sheeran to. “I think that Niall guy likes Ed Sheeran,” he hears himself say, even though it makes his stomach turn.

He can feel Harry watching him curiously. “Uh, yeah, okay.”

Louis swallows and sweeps his hands out. “You guys are so alike. You went to the same school, you work near each other, you live near each other, you like the same music, the same jokes...”

“We like the same jokes,” Harry says, almost defensively.

Well, that wasn’t how that conversation was supposed to go. “Do we?” Louis says weakly.

Harry nods. “I’ll prove it. Knock knock.”

Louis shakes his head. “Nuh uh, no way. Knock knock jokes are exclusively for ages four and under.”

Harry grins widely. “Knock knock,” he repeats.

Louis groans and covers his face with his hands. “I’m not home.”

Harry starts laughing. “Knock knock.”

“Go shove it up your ass.”

Harry laughs harder. “Knock... knock.”

“I’m deaf.”

“Knock - ”

“I’m dead.”

“....Knock - “

“I’m wanking.”

Harry squawks in shocked laughter and then claps his hand over his mouth, which makes Louis crack up.

“Oh my god, you just reminded me of the perfect one,” Harry giggles. “Knock knock.”

“I’m wanking, who is it?” Louis shouts.

Harry doubles over. “Anita,” he wheezes.

“Urgh, don’t put a girl in my head!”

“Anita need a dick inside - ,” and they’re both giggling uncontrollably before he even finishes. “You’re not funny,” Louis rasps as he doubles over. Harry’s almost crying with laughter. Their eyes meet, Harry’s shining with mirth, and then they look away and laugh harder.

Eventually, Harry wipes his eyes and claps his hands together. “Okay, enough funny business,” he says sternly. Louis opens his mouth to protest the ‘funny’ aspect of their business, but Harry plows on. “Time to bake.”

Louis stops laughing abruptly. “So, knock knock jokes.”

Harry shakes his head, lips twitching. “That ship’s sailed.”

“Knock knock!” Louis says desperately.

“You work at a bakery!”

“Oooh, good one. You work at a bakery who?”

Harry swats him with his roller pin, which obviously means Louis has to swat him back. After another five minutes of very productive roller-pin-fighting - which Louis definitely wins - Harry chucks his back on the table, ignoring Louis’ victorious whoop and corresponding jab to the chest. “Louis, seriously, you work at a bakery. I’m going to teach you how to make a chocolate croissant,” he nabs the pin out of Louis’ hand, “and you’re going to like it.”

 

Louis... kind of likes it.

Once Harry patiently explains to him how an oven works, Louis feels prepared enough to tackle kneading dough. He ends up enjoying the feel of the soft, squishy substance under his hands, and when he accidentally lets this slip to Harry, Harry crows, smug that he's brought Louis over to the apron-clad side. Louis' first attempt at a croissant-esque shape is pretty wonky, but Harry very graciously refrains from mocking him. His second try is much better, and by the time they put the dough in the oven, Louis isn't even sure who made what, which he takes to mean he's now a culinary genius.

There's only one awkward moment: once Louis feels he's mastered croissants, Harry gives him cake batter to, quote-unquote, "whisk". When Louis demands how this "whisking" business occurs, Harry wordlessly grasps his wrist and movies it around so the batter.... does something.

To be honest, Louis doesn't know what the batter's doing anymore, because Harry's strong, warm hands are on his skin, and he smells delicious, and his brow is furrowed in sweet concentration, and Louis' throat goes embarrassingly dry until Harry lets go.

Fifteen minutes into their actual shift, Louis is trying desperately to convince himself that his dick (which, he'd like to point out, never gave him any trouble before he met Harry) was reacting to the whisking when the door swings open and Niall and Liam walk in.

"Wahey!" Niall says by way of greeting. Liam gives a more sober nod and a pointed look at Louis that says look, this is a good Wingman - I’m forcing interaction. Louis scowls back.

"Hey!" Harry shouts back. He hands the last customer her strawberry tart and beams at Niall. "What're you doing here?"

Louis snickers. "Buying food's out of the question, that's too obvious."

Harry tries to swat him, but Louis dances out of his reach. "Shut it, you," he growls playfully. "Or I'll tackle you and force you to listen to my jokes."

Liam expression darkens at the familiarity in this exchange. "Niall!" he says loudly, clapping him on the back. Harry's gaze swings back to the two of them. "Weren't you saying you were desperate to try some of Harry's world-famous treats?"

"To be fair, I'm always desperate when it comes to food," Niall muses, his eyes focused on the window display.

"This is true," Liam says brightly. "I watched him polish off two plates of nachos at the place we just had lunch." He gestures grandly between Niall and Harry. "So Harry bakes and Niall eats - you two are a match made in heaven!"

Louis gags under his breath. Liam did not just go there.

"Or a match made in hell," Harry says absentmindedly, busy restocking the croissants. (Wow, they look delicious. Louis is fucking chuffed.) "Maybe Niall would just eat everything I bake for the shop."

Liam seems devastated. Louis steps in quickly, lest Liam's grief turn into rage and direct itself at Louis. "So, Niall, not working today?"

Niall shakes his head. "I only get hit on by misguided women and lonely drunkards five days out of seven."

Out of the corner of his eye, Louis checks Harry's face for signs of jealousy at this little tidbit, but he doesn't see any. Maybe Harry isn't a possessive kind of guy.

"Well, who wouldn't hit on you? You're gorgeous!" Louis cries.

Harry swings around so fast he almost knocks over the croissant display. "You think Niall's gorgeous?"

"Er - you almost knocked over my croissants," Louis deflects. He barely hears Niall's huffed "wow, cheers, mate."

Harry's smirks. "Then you'd know how it feels."

"Are you trying to teach me a lesson?"

"Are you trying to chastise me for practicing the art of ruining well-prepared food?"

Liam coughs. Loudly.

"I'll have a peach crumble," Niall, seemingly unaware of the tension in the room, says cheerfully. "And a croissant."

"What do we say?" Harry teases as he reaches up to get the crumble.

Niall sticks out his tongue. "Pretty please."

"Niall needs you around to teach him some manners, Harry!" Liam all but shouts. When Harry doesn't drop to one knee and clasp Niall's hand, Liam abruptly changes tactics. "So, me and Niall were thinking that instead of going to the bar again tonight, we could all go clubbing."

Harry's face lights up. "I haven't been out in ages," he says before turning to Louis. "What do you think?"

Louis opens his mouth, but Liam beats him to it. "Oh, Louis can’t go,” he says hurriedly, pulling the corner of his mouth down in an exaggerated pout. “He called me earlier and said he was feeling sick. I guess I’ll have to go take care of him,” he sighs.

Harry squints at Louis. “You feel sick?” he says at the same time Louis says “I feel sick?” to Liam.

Liam glares. “In fact, you look a bit peaky right now! Do you want to go to the bathroom? Talk to Niall, Harry!” Without waiting for a response, he grabs Louis by the elbow and drags him off to the bathroom.

Once the door swings shut, Liam lets go and smacks Louis on the arm. “Ow!” Louis yelps. “What are you doing?”

“What you should be doing!” Liam snaps. “Getting them together! I did the math. Alone time plus alcohol equals sex! This is elementary!”

Liam looks a little crazed, breathing a bit too heavily. Louis hesitantly places a hand on his shoulder. “Are you... okay?”

Liam glares at him for a few moments more, then abruptly sags. “No,” he mutters. “I’m scared and I’m worried and I just want this to be over, okay? I want them to be matched up already. Why aren’t they matched up?”

“This isn’t the longest we’ve ever had to wait,” Louis reassures him.

“I know, but it’s our own matching, and I just - “

“Hey, hey,” Louis interjects. “We know what we’re doing, okay? We’re Wingmen. This’ll work out.” He sounds a lot calmer than he feels. The same fear Liam is wearing on his sleeve is brewing in Louis’ gut.

“Okay,” Liam mumbles. He straightens and runs a critical eye over Louis, then punches him in the stomach.

 

They emerge from the bathroom with Louis doubled over, gagging, to an anxious Harry and a bemused Niall. “So, as you can see, Louis is very ill and needs to stay in tonight,” Liam says, rubbing Louis’ shoulder as he coughs.

“Yeah, he’s right,” Louis rasps, eyes watery. Liam is stronger than he looks.

Harry steps forward, concerned. The customer waiting at the counter, an old man who just ordered a cupcake, clears his throat, but Harry ignores him, wide eyes trained on Louis. “Do you need me to come back home with you?”

“Wait, you guys live together?” Niall asks from his seat at a table, his voice garbled from the peach crumble. He’s already finished the croissant.

“Yes,” Louis says weakly, just as Liam says “It’s a temporary thing.” They shoot each other a glance. Harry just looks confused.

“Are you sure?”

In another life, Louis would have found Harry’s concern touching, but Liam’s hand digging into his shoulder makes him say faintly, “Nah, you have to work. I’ll go home and rest. See you later.”

“I’ll go out another night,” Harry says determinedly.

Louis’ heart warms ridiculously, but before he can answer, Liam’s shouting, “No!” When Harry shifts his gaze to Liam, something like irritation crossing his face, Liam elaborates, “I’ve got Louis. You and Niall need - I mean, should go out. You’re both young! You’re both fit! You’re both single! Make a night of it!”

Harry doesn’t seem to quite match his enthusiasm, glancing back and forth between him and Louis. “Fuck, yeah!” Niall shouts from the corner. “C’mon, Harry, lets do it!”

“Exactly!” Liam says delightedly. He lowers his voice persuasively. “Think about it. You and Niall, at the club, a little tipsy, all alo-”

A sudden surge of rage, like nothing he’s ever felt before, spikes through Louis at the thought of Harry and Niall alone together, and it’s the only explanation he has for straightening up and saying clearly, “Actually, I feel much better.”

Everyone turns to look at him - Niall, Harry, Liam, the customer. Niall seems to finally notice something’s amiss, eyes flickering between him and Liam. Harry raises his eyebrows. Liam is totally stunned. The customer just looks annoyed.

Liam recovers first. “Nonsense! Let me check your temperature,” he says loudly, before smacking his hand over Louis’ head and leaning in close. “What,” he hisses.

“We can’t just leave them alone, they need our support - “

“No, they need to get each other off - “

“Wow, Li, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“Shut up, they have to dance together or something!”

“And if we’re there, we can make sure that happens!”

“Um, guys?” This from Harry.

Liam pulls back. “Just seeing if he’s got buildup in his ear!” he says cheerily before leaning back in. “Why are you sabotaging us?”

“I’m not, you are, and what do you mean buildup - “

“I’m improvising, since you’re so bloody ridiculous, and when did you and Harry get so close anyway - “

“This is what a Wingman does, nectar-for-brains - “

“Not that close, it’s almost like - “

“SO!” Louis exclaims, stepping away quickly. “It was just a brief dizzy spell, right, Dr. Liam? I’m all good!”

Harry’s gaze lingers, his brow furrowed. “You sure?”

“‘Course!” Louis says breezily, ignoring Liam’s daggers-for-eyes. “Let’s party!”

“Ahem.”

“Ah,” Louis says, abashed. “As soon as you get your cupcake, sir.”

 

>>>

 

“Well, if you hadn’t spilled flour all over yourself, you wouldn’t have to change,” Harry calls, yanking a fresh, red, long-sleeved shirt over his head. It gapes open, showing off his non-existent chest hair. (He’s been trying for years to grow a beard. So far, no success.)

“That flour was rigged,” Louis shoots back from outside Harry’s room.

“Like the oven?” Bun or no bun?

“Exactly.” There’s a shuffling sound. “Do you... can you, like...”

Louis sounds oddly uncertain. Harry cocks his head. “Lou?” The nickname slides off his tongue easily, startling him.

Louis hesitantly steps inside Harry’s room. When he sees Harry staring, he rushes out, “Look, this was all I had, okay? Don’t make fun of me, I know it looks ridiculous.”

Sweet Jesus.

Harry almost can’t process what’s in front of him. Louis changed into a tight grey button down, his floured black t-shirt having been tossed in the wash when they got home, and he’s wearing the same black jeans as before, as well as the dark green watch he always has on his wrist. But he’s topped the whole ensemble off with... braces.

Black, tight braces that are squeezing his chest and making his muscles bulge out.

Harry abruptly chokes on his own spit.

Louis places a hand on his back as he coughs. “Y'alright, mate?”

“I, uh, yeah,” Harry splutters. Louis draws his hand away, taking his warmth with him, and freakin’ hooks his thumbs in his braces. Harry can’t take his eyes off of Louis’ hands, tangled in the tight, thin straps. His mind accelerates, imagining those hands tied up by those straps, imagining Louis begging for mercy as Harry...

“... good.”

Harry blinks. “What?”

Louis is blushing. Why is Louis blushing? “I said, you look, um. Good.” He waves a hand over Harry’s outfit, eyes on the ground.

The thought that Louis could be similarly affected by Harry - if that’s even what’s happening right now - has a smile tugging at Harry’s lips. “You look...” Like all of my wet dreams rolled into one. “... good too.”

Louis’ flush deepens in color.

“You’re lovely when you blush,” Harry blurts. Oh God, he’s become a moony teeanger. Next he’ll be sobbing over the ending to Titanic and spooning ice cream out of the container. (Just kidding, that was last week.)

Something brief and indecipherable flits across Louis’ face before he turns away. “Let’s go,” he says, his voice a little curt.

Harry tries to ignore the disappointed swoop in his stomach.

 

The club is loud and pulsing. Harry, Liam, Niall, and Louis find a more quiet table off in the back and settle down, Harry sitting next to Niall because Liam took the spot next to Louis. It doesn’t really matter - this way, Harry can stare all he wants at Louis. He drinks him in as the three of them start to banter: his every hair flick, all the adorable little faces he makes, the tight stretch of his shirt against his skin. When Louis gets animated - apparently he and Niall are discussing football, which Louis appears to have strong opinions on, though it’s mostly about the most attractive players - he starts to talk louder and faster, waving his hands around. Harry can’t stop himself from imagining pinning Louis down and forcing him to be quiet.

Watching him over the top of his beer bottle, his mind flashes to the soft and cuddly Louis he left curled up on his couch when he went to the shops this morning. He’s not sure which is the real Louis: the loud and brash one in front of him, or the quiet one that traced tattoos on his skin. He decides abruptly that it doesn’t matter. They’re all just facets of the real thing, parts that make up a whole, and while Louis’ a bit of a mystery, he’s a fascinating one. A mystery he wants to spend the rest of his life unraveling.

Harry startles a little. The rest of his life? He’s questioning what part of his brain whispered that to him when Louis flashes him a smile - the real ones that Harry lives for, crinkly-eyed and toothy - and Harry stops caring.

“Harry,” Liam says. Harry reluctantly drags his gaze away from Louis. “Niall was just saying that he plays guitar. He’s into music! Just like you!”

Harry’s face falls, like it always does whenever anyone brings up music. Louis notices. “Shut up, Liam,” he says. Harry shoots him a grateful glance.

To be honest, Harry isn’t sure how he feels about Liam. He knows he’s Louis’ friend, and therefore is probably a pretty cool guy, but he seems like Louis’ polar opposite. Whereas Louis is bubbly, and fun, and kind of a little shit, Liam’s... not. Whenever Harry’s around him, he acts pretty uptight, and there’s also a weird sort of tension between Louis and Liam.

Exhibit A: Liam glares at Louis, and a few seconds later, Louis yelps like he’s just been kicked. Liam turns away and fixes Harry with a blinding smile. “Maybe you and Niall could compose a song together or something!”

Niall laughs. “About what?”

Liam waves his hands expansively. “What does everyone write songs about? Love!”

“This is true,” Harry can’t help but put in. He sneaks a glance at Louis, who’s staring down at the table.

Liam beams like Harry’s made Christmas come early. “Exactly! Like...” He fumbles. “Um - “

Harry frowns at him. It’s not exactly difficult to think of a love song.

“'Thinking out Loud',” Niall puts in.

“Yes!” Harry cries, slapping him a high five. “Ed Sheeran’s where it’s at mate!” He looks pointedly at Louis, who’s watching his exchange with Niall with a small frown.

“The chemistry in the room,” he says through gritted teeth. Harry blinks at him. “I’m sweating.”

Is Louis... jealous?

Harry feels thrown by this sudden thought. Could Louis be jealous?

Maybe he needs to test the theory out.

Harry throws an arm around Niall. “Is he playing around here any time soon?”

“Yeah, I think so, mate! Sometime in January, I think,” Niall says enthusiastically.

Harry leans in a little and lowers his voice. “So should we - ".

Louis slams his bottle down forcefully, sending droplets of beer splashing to the counter. “Do me a favor?” he says sharply to Niall.

Everyone at the table turns to look at him. Louis’ fierce expression is abruptly replaced by one of pain when he jumps and lets out another “Ow!” He glances swiftly at Liam, who looks murderous for some reason, and then clears his throat. “There’s, uh, open mic in a few minutes,” he says in a calmer voice to NIall. “You want to sing the song you were talking about?”

“Nah, mate, don’t have much of a voice,” Niall shrugs.

“Harry can accompany you!” Liam says brightly.

Harry is about to decline, but Louis surprises him by lighting up. “Please, Harry? I’d really love to hear you sing,” he says earnestly, leaning forward. “Don’t feel pressured or anything, but I bet you’re really good. You have a really throaty - “ He cuts himself off. “Just. No pressure.”

“Well, you’ll be on your own, mate,” Niall says good-naturedly.

“Why, you scared?” Louis challenges.

Niall scoffs, then pauses. “Yes.”

They all snicker, except Liam, who still looks irritated. And also stone cold sober, which, why. “C’mon, Harry,” Louis pleads, batting his eyes. “Remember what we talked about?”

Harry huffs. “What are you, my mother?”

“Pretty please? Cherry on top?” Louis taps his chin. “Anita you to - “

“All right, stop, stop,” Harry laughs. “I’ll do it. And that didn’t even make sense.”

“Hey, Harry,” Louis smirks. “Knock knock.”

Harry sighs long-sufferingly, although he’s secretly delighted Louis’ partaking in his favorite type of joke. “Who’s there?”

“You enjoying singing again,” Louis says with a flourish.

Harry groans. “That was terrible,” he mutters, smiling so hard his cheeks hurt.

 

By the time the open mic hour rolls around, the club has quieted down considerably - apparently strangers singing isn’t conducive to finding someone to dry hump - and the boys are in a heated debate about hashtags. Harry isn’t sure how they got on this topic, but he’s too busy arguing to care.

“I just don’t get it, what’s the point?” Louis asks doggedly.

Harry and Niall bury their faces in their hands. “We’ve explained the point,” Harry says, as patiently as he can. “It’s just, like, a thing you do, on Instagram or Twitter or whatever. Have you really never heard of this before?”

“No offense, mate, but you're kind of not a person,” Niall says cheerfully.

Louis looks a little lost. “So, like, what would be a good example?”

Harry thumbs through his phone and finds his last tweet. “I study rainbows, #rainbows,” he reads aloud. At Louis’ look, he admits, “Okay, it sounds stupid when you say it out loud - “

“Attention, everyone!” some guy with a microphone yells from the front, killing the DJ. “Anyone up for a little open mic singing?”

There’s a general chorus of boo’s, but the guy is determined. “Come on, our DJ needs a break! Anyone?”

After Louis and Niall have splashed encouraging beer on him, Harry stands up and makes his way over. “I’ll do it,” he says, recognizing how unenthusiastic he sounds.

The guy claps him on the back. “Good lad!” He shouts, and then faces the people. “Here’s my man - “

“Harry,” Harry interjects.

“ - Larry!” There’s another wave of boo’s, and then Harry’s got a mic in his hand.

“Uh, hey,” he drawls out. “It’s actually Harry. I’ll, uh, be singing 'Thinking out Loud' by Ed Sheeran.”

There’s a loud whoop that probably came from Louis or Niall. Harry turns to them, and immediately wishes he hadn’t, because the nerves fluttering in his stomach (mostly due to the fact that Louis’ here) aren’t eased any by seeing Louis’ expectant, pretty face.

Closing his eyes might be a good idea.

When your legs don't work like they used to before
And I can't sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks

At the first few words, the chatter dies down, and there are a few more impressed whoops from the throng of people. Harry opens his eyes, still singing, and immediately searches out Louis by default.

He’s staring right at him, open-mouthed.

Harry feels a spark light up his chest, and he sings right to Louis.

And darling, I
Will
Be loving you
‘Til
We’re 70
And baby my
Heart
Could still fall as
Hard
At 23
And I’m thinking ‘bout how
People fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand

The crowd that was bouncing around to loud music a few minutes ago is swaying now. Louis still hasn’t looked away, hasn’t moved, his eyes burning into Harry’s.

It’s the best feeling Harry’s ever had while singing.

People fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it's all part of a plan

Neither of them look away as Harry keeps singing. A few people in the crowd are turning around and craning their necks, trying to see who he's staring at.

When he gets to the "so baby now" part, he throws his head back for a moment, because he just feels so into it, in a way he hasn't for years. He’s suddenly able to remember what it is he loves about singing: it’s the connection he feels to other people, because singing is how he can express the mess in his mind.

And right now, it's Louis. It's all Louis.

So baby now
Take me into your lovin' arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh darling
Place your hand on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
Maybe
We
Found
Love
Right
Where we are

When he's done, for a moment the only sound he knows is a roaring in his ears because of the way Louis is looking at him, like he's never seen anything so amazing. And this time, Harry knows he's not imagining a connection. Louis - eyes wide, mouth open, cheeks flushed - is affected. By him.

And then he hears the clapping, and the mic guy who ushered him onstage is bounding up to him and making him say his name again to cheers, and then he exits the stage to more hollering. When he makes it back, Niall's the first one to get to him, pounding him on the back. "That was sick!" he enthuses.

"Yeah, you were great, Harry," Liam echoes, looking back and forth between him and Niall.

Louis is staring determinedly at his beer bottle. When he looks up, his eyes are glittering. "I think," he says slowly, "I need to get drunk."

"All right!" Niall shouts just as Liam growls, "Louis!" Louis ignores both of them, taking a deep swig of his beer and purposefully avoiding Harry's gaze.

Impossibly, he’s plastered about ten minutes later.

Harry isn't sure how it happens, considering that, as far as Harry can tell, he’s only had one shot and a few sips of his beer, but his eyes are undeniably glassy, his accent is thicker, and his voice is louder. At one point, when Liam doesn't bring him back anything from the bar, Louis shouts "That's your fuckin job, you fuckin loser!" and doesn't quiet until Harry - who's grown increasingly tipsy himself - lurches across the table and giggles "Ssssh" into his hair.

The conversations between the three of them (while Liam looks on disapprovingly, mostly at Louis) become more and more nonsensical as the open mic hour ends and the DJ comes back to liven up the place again. Case in point: Harry and Louis have a passionate discussion about why being naked is so much better than wearing clothes while Niall guffaws at them and Liam just shakes his head disbelievingly. Eventually, after a drunken story from Niall about accidentally farting during sex once, which has Louis choking from laughter, Harry lapses into silence, more interested in just watching Louis: watching him wave his hands about, watching him bounce up and down excitedly, watching him bluster with pint-sized passion when he and Niall get on the topic of Beyoncé. It's a bit adorable, really.

Well, it's adorable until Louis grabs his hand and slurs, "Harry. Let's dance." Then Harry pictures getting to grope Louis' spectacular arse, and he's immediately dragging Louis to the crowded dance floor, ignoring Liam's shout of "Louis, I really think you've had enough!" He's like his dad, honestly.

The music is pounding and loud, and everyone's lit up by strobe lights, the open mic night atmosphere long gone. "Don't know this song," Louis giggles when they get to a spot amidst the crowd that Harry deems acceptable, mainly because they're far away from all the guys that keep looking hungrily at Louis.

"You don't know any songs," Harry murmurs back, fitting his hands around Louis' neck. He doesn't quite dare to go for his arse, not yet.

Louis sways against Harry. Harry's hit with a wave of beer mixed in with that vanilla-y scent that's all Louis. "Don't really know how to dance, either."

Harry doesn't respond, he just turns Louis around so that his back is pressed up against his front. He moans aloud, shamelessly, when Louis' firm, round arse - the arse that Harry's admired since day one - comes into contact with his already semi-hard cock. "Lemme show you," he breathes hotly into Louis' ear, relishing the way that Louis head lolls back against his shoulder at the words.

Harry fits his large hands on either side of Louis' waist and pulls him back so that he's pressed even closer against him. Harry then rolls his hips experimentally, so that his cock lines up perfectly with the cleft of Louis' arse.

He's not expecting Louis to go completely pliant, slumping against Harry and whimpering high in his throat. Harry's breath catches when Louis shakily slides his small, lithe hands over Harry's, almost like he isn't sure he's allowed.

Harry's grip tightens, fingers digging into the flesh of Louis' hips. He grinds once, slowly, against Louis, and is rewarded by another high, needy noise. Harry wants to drag that noise out from his throat, wants to press him down and lick him out until it's the only noise he knows how to make.

Harry rolls his hips again, and again, relishing the breathy sounds that fall from Louis' lips. Harry can feel his dick fattening up until it's deliciously hard against Louis' arse, and the friction that Louis’ tight jeans are offering is both perfect and not nearly enough. Harry wants more, mostly because the way Louis looks - which is utterly wrecked, his face turned into Harry's chest and his breath coming out in pants - has filthy fantasies playing out in Harry’s mind. Tentatively, Louis starts to push back against Harry’s cock, uncertainly at first, and then more confidently, until they're grinding to the beat in earnest. It feels dirty and sinful and hot all at once, and Harry has to bite his tongue from whispering in Louis' ear this is what it'll be like when we fuck.

He doesn't get the chance to, anyway, because all of a sudden Louis' gone from his arms.

In his alcohol-sodden state, Harry just whirls around stupidly for a bit before he realizes that Louis is receiving a dressing down from a very angry-looking Liam. Which is like. His only look, ever.

“How could you do this?” Liam hisses. His eyes are ablaze and the veins are popping in his neck. Harry can tell immediately that it’s different from the irritated glances he’s been shooting Louis all night, usually when he’s engaged in conversation with Harry. He looks proper outraged now.

Louis just sways under his fierce glare until Liam grips him harshly by the shoulders. Louis mumbles something incomprehensible.

“What about Niall?” Liam all but shouts.

What?

“Niall?” Harry interrupts. He shakes his head, trying to clear it. “What do you mean, Niall?”

Liam’s face gets redder, and Harry can’t even tell if he’s angry or something else. “Nothing,” he spits, then seems to realize how it sounds and takes a deep breath. When he speaks next, his voice is carefully measured, like he’s barely restraining from screaming. “You should go back to him.”

“What about Niall?” Harry asks stubbornly, mainly due to the alcohol pumping through his system and clouding his brain.

“Let’s get you - somewhere,” Liam says to Louis, who’s leaning heavily on him at this point. Harry feels a dull pang at the thought that it really doesn’t matter to Louis right now whose body he’s leaning on. That the two of them together might not have meant anything to him, when it, well. Gave Harry a very obvious problem, both in his head and in his pants. A problem that, without Louis’ solid weight rubbing over it, is entirely exposed.

Liam drags a slumped Louis away without a backwards glance, pushing through the crowd of people and not even stopping when he knocks a few drunk ones over. Harry tries to follow them, but he gets stuck behind a loud, giggling group of girls doing the Congo, and when they clear, Louis’ gone.

Harry looks around him. He suddenly feels very alone - everyone else has someone to dance with, and here he is, standing on his own in the middle of it all. Like always.

What did Liam mean, What about Niall? Niall’s a good guy, but what does he have to do with Louis? Louis seems to like him well enough. He brings him up a fair amount when he’s with Harry: how nicely he thinks his hair falls, how much he likes his jokes, how sunny and bright and kind he is.

Although he doesn’t seem to like when Harry talks to Niall. His eyes (those pretty, pretty blue eyes) always follow Harry’s hand when it brushes Niall’s. He’s also usually butting into their conversations, not that Harry minds at all - in fact, if he had his way, they’d be on their own in this club. Harry was going to be on his own with Niall, but Louis hadn’t seemed to want that either, probably because -

Harry’s knees buckle, and when he stumbles to the ground, it’s only partly due to the drunken stupor his last two shots provided.

Jesus.

Louis likes Niall.

Chapter Text

Louis knows he’s not supposed to drink.

He knows - in some rational part of his brain, which he’s been successfully silencing a lot lately - that Wingmen drinking is one of the stupidest things they can do. Not only do they have an insanely low tolerance for alcohol, they could do a number of stupid things while drunk. They could lose their travel watches. They could blurt out what they are.

They could dance with the person they’re supposed to be matching.

“He’s so gorgeous,” Louis whines, stumbling against Liam. Liam is totally rigid against him. Louis grips his arm and shakes it, because he needs to loosen up. In fact, Louis should let him know. “You need to loosen up,” he says sternly, poking Liam’s cheek, but the words come out more garbled than he means for them to.

“I don’t need to fucking loosen up, Louis,” Liam bites back, his words like bullets. He keeps looking down the street they’re on like he’s searching for something. “I need to do my fucking job so we can go home successful. Fuck.”

Liam never curses. Actually, Louis’ not sure he’s seen him quite so... angry before. “Liam!” he cries, throwing his arms around him. “Please don’t be...” he stifles a hiccup. “I just. Harry’s so gorgeous. Did you see him sing, Liam? Did you?”

“I can’t believe you,” Liam says. He doesn’t sound very happy. How can Louis make him happy?

“You need Harry,” Louis decides. “Harry always makes me happy. Maybe he’d make you - “

“Louis!” Liam shouts, whirling around to face him. “What the fuck are you doing? Do you understand what you’re saying right now? You’re a Cupid, Louis! Cupids don’t fall in - “

Louis slaps his hand over his ears because no no no. “That’s not me, it’s not me, I’m not that,” he babbles. He can hear his voice getting high and hysterical, like he’s about to cry. “It’s just that he’s gorgeous and kind and I'm happy when I'm around him and we fit - “

And then he really is crying, slumping against Liam and sobbing hard into whatever Human clothes he’s nicked from Target. Liam is like stone for the first few seconds, and then he sighs and softens, wrapping an arm around Louis. “Ssssh, ssssh, it’s all right,” he murmurs into Louis’ hair. “I’ve got you. Ssssh.”

He holds him like that for what feels like a very long time.

Louis can’t stop the misery wracking him in waves. He just keeps thinking about Harry.

He’s so beautiful.

His smile is so lovely.

His dimples are so sweet.

His laugh is so gorgeous.

He can be goofy, and he can be smart, and he can be sexy.

He’s everything. He’s the best Human that Louis’ ever met.

And he has to belong to someone else.

Like Liam can hear Louis’ thoughts, he pulls back and holds Louis at arm’s length to look at him. Louis’ tears have sobered him, and he’s able to focus, blinking up slowly, almost fearfully at Liam.

He knows what Liam is going to say before he says it. And he doesn’t want to hear it. He doesn’t want to acknowledge what’s happening. But he doesn’t want to acknowledge that it can’t happen, either.

“Louis,” Liam says carefully. “You know that this - “

“I know,” Louis says quietly, looking away. “I know it can’t.”

“Because we have to - “

“I know,” Louis says again. “I know we do.”

He takes a shaky breath and scrubs his wrist across his face, wiping any tears that have frozen from the cold.

The thing is, Harry looks at Louis like he’s been waiting for him.

There’s a still silence between them, the heartbeat before the hammer drops.

“Lou,” Liam says softly. “He’s not yours.”

Harry looks at Louis like he could be.

 

Liam lets Louis travel back to Harry’s house, though he seems apprehensive about him going back there. Louis’ guilt is crawling under his skin, so he agrees to flat-out asking Harry if he likes Niall when he sees him next, as Liam will do with Niall. They reason that addressing it head-on will spur one of them into acting on their feelings.

Neither of them discuss what they’ll do if there are no feelings to act on.

To be fair, Louis still has faith in the matching, even if the thought of it makes his heart drop. Niall and Harry would be good together. And he and Liam can match them, like they’ve done for hundreds of other couples. They just need one of them to make a move so they can go home and be promoted.

The thought of finally getting to be an Arrow doesn’t make Louis as excited as it used to, so he shuts it out of his head.

Harry’s flat is dark and quiet. Louis - subconsciously or not - travels into Harry’s room, and once he’s there, he doesn’t want to leave, because if he can’t have the real thing, maybe he can sit in his bed and pretend. He doesn’t even care how pathetic that makes him.

Okay, he’s definitely still a little drunk.

Harry’s computer is open and lying on his bed. Intrigued - he’s only been on a computer once, when he was the “new guy” at a law firm where a matchee worked, and he mostly just tapped random keyboards to look busy (although he discovered after a meeting that that’s what most of the lawyers were doing) - Louis taps the power button. It glows to life, displaying -

Louis yelps and falls back on his arse.

Then surges up and yanks the computer back over to him.

There’s a picture of two men. Together. One has his cock in the other’s arse, and their mouths are both open - either in ecstasy or because they’re talking, Louis doesn’t know, but his cock doesn’t seem to care.

Louis looks down at the swelling in his pants angrily. This isn’t even the first time tonight. When he was dancing with Harry - okay, that isn’t helping.

Seriously, though, he’s turning into a total Human, because suddenly, all he can think about is sex. He can’t stop staring at the picture on Harry’s computer - actually, there’s some buttons that suggest it’s a video, although Louis wouldn’t know how to make it play - and remembering the bliss he’d experienced the last time he did the thing. That feeling, coupled with the memory of Harry rubbing something very firm and hard against his arse, has Louis eagerly shoving a hand down his pants, eyes trained on the two sweaty, muscular men.

He’s still drunk enough to go for it even though he knows Cupids don’t do this, but he’s not quite drunk enough to let himself think about Harry, especially not after his conversation with Liam. Instead, he tries to focus on the two men. The one doing the fucking is gripping the one beneath him tightly, just like Harry was gripping him at the club - possessive, demanding. Louis bites his lip and starts moving his hand up and down his cock, sending electric sparks of pleasure to his belly, thinking of Harry owning him, controlling -

Shit. Louis stops abruptly. This is not about Harry.

After a few calming breaths, Louis tentatively starts stroking himself again. He’s perched on his knees on Harry’s floor, and he’d probably be a lot more comfortable in Harry’s bed, but the thought of doing this in the place that Harry probably does it too is too arousing to be healthy.

Is he attracted to either of the men? Neither of them look like Harry, so, not really, but he tries to stop that line of thinking. The one being fucked looks a bit like Louis, actually - same shaggy hair and scruffy beard. Louis doesn’t know how or why Harry has this on his computer, but his heart still flutters stupidly at the idea that Harry, just maybe, wanted to get off to someone resembling Louis.

Oh, Jesus. Louis’ hand speeds up of its own volition. What would Harry look like doing this? Would he be thinking about Louis? Would he be thinking about Louis sucking his cock, maybe, or just being fucked?

Louis breathes in sharply. He has the image of what it would look like in front of him, and he might actually understand what it would feel, like, too, if it would feel even half as good as when Harry was grinding his dick against Louis’ arse in the club -

Fuck!” Louis swears, his hand flying off his cock like he’s been burned. He slams Harry’s computer shut and presses the heels of his hands against his eyes so that everything goes black. “Fuck,” he repeats.

Even if he wanted to wank again, Harry’s stupid curls and stupid face and stupid hard cock have definitely ruined him for anyone else.

Louis gets up and storms out of Harry’s room. He changes out of his ridiculous braces and grabs his band T-shirt from the dryer Harry showed him. Once he’s as comfortable as he can be in boxers and a T-shirt - i.e. not naked like he should be - he flounces down on the couch and wills his erection to calm the fuck down.

When Harry gets home, stumbling a little and swearing when he knocks something over, Louis pretends to be asleep, because it doesn’t make his heart ache like tomorrow’s conversation with Harry will.

 

Somewhere along the line, Louis actually does fall asleep, and he wakes up, head pounding, to the sound of Harry puttering about in the kitchen. He gives himself a few calming minutes before he goes and joins him.

The second he walks in, he's assaulted by two things: the light, and how deliciously rough Harry looks. He's wearing boxers and nothing else, his hair is all over the place, and he's got massive bags under tired eyes.

He's the most gorgeous thing Louis' ever seen.

When Harry notices him, he turns away and stares down at his mug. "Hey," he croaks.

"You feel okay?" Louis asks back, squinting against the bright lights.

Harry mirrors his squint. "Can't feel much worse than you. You were pretty hammered last night."

Louis looks down at his hands. "Yeah, we both were," he says, trying to keep his voice steady. "I don't even remember most of it."

It's a lie - like Louis could ever forget the feel of Harry against him - but it's a convenient one, because this way Louis doesn't have to field questions he doesn't know the answer to. Harry turns around, and his voice sounds a little strained when he says, "Yeah, me neither."

Well then.

Harry slides a mug over to him. Louis squashes down his delight that Harry made him one too and just sips it. Mmm. It's so rare that he has tea, and it's so delicious.

Also, Harry made it exactly how he likes. Which is some soulmate shit right there, and -

Oh no. He's done it. He's gone and thought the S word, and now it's just floating in his brain, impossible to take back. To distract himself, he sits down at the little kitchen table, wondering idly if Harry’s going to make breakfast like he did yesterday. Those pancakes were out of this world.

Harry clears his throat. He still isn't looking at Louis, busying himself at the sink. “So. I’m off work today, you?”

“Yeah,” Louis says quickly. “Me too.”

Harry is silent for a minute or so, and then he blurts, “So, Niall’s pretty cool.”

Louis can feel his face fall.

When the silence stretches on a bit too long, Louis coughs and says mechanically, “Yeah, he’s really great.”

He knows what Liam would do here. He would take this opportunity to ask if Harry liked Niall, as in, liked-liked. He and Liam had agreed on that plan of action last night.

Louis can’t bring himself to do it. He’s terrified of the answer. There’s no point in denying it anymore: he doesn’t want Harry to be with Niall, even though that’s what absolutely has to happen. Even if the thought of them together makes him die a little inside.

Harry’s back inexplicably goes stiff. “You think so, do you?” He sounds almost... angry.

“He’s really fit,” Louis hears himself say.

“Fit,” Harry repeats. He still hasn’t turned around.

“You know. Hot,” Louis says slowly. “Don’t you think?”

Harry is quiet for a second. “He’s not really my type,” he mutters at last.

No.

“No,” Louis says aloud.

Harry stops angrily stirring his tea and actually looks at Louis, confused. “What?”

Oh, fuck it. “Oh, come on,” Louis says desperately. “He’s bubbly and happy and sweet. He’s perfect.” Each word cuts him like a knife, but he has to say them. He can’t go home having broken the rules for nothing.

Harry just stares at him, something hollow and miserable in his eyes. “Perfect,” he repeats dully.

Louis swallows and forces the next words out of his mouth. “Don’t you think you guys would be good together?”

Harry’s face goes totally slack. He looks stunned. “Me and Niall?”

This is bad. He shouldn’t look shocked. He should look like Louis’ just rocked his world with a phenomenal idea. That’s how everyone else looks when Louis helps them clue in.

Not that people usually need this much clueing in.

“‘Course,” Louis says, trying to keep his voice even despite his hammering heart. This can’t be happening. “I just feel like you guys are just... made for each other. Don’t you?”

“Me and Niall. Me and Niall are made for each other,” Harry presses.

“I mean, I know you guys haven’t known each other long, but, well, you know what they say about love at first - “

“So you don’t like him?” Harry interrupts.

Louis stops, baffled. “Wha - no! Of course I don’t like Niall!” Oh, God. He’s done this so wrong if he’s given Harry the impression that he likes Niall.

This has never happened to Louis before. He’s always talking up someone else’s soul mate when he’s matching them, but no one has ever assumed that that meant he liked them. Usually because they feel secure in the knowledge that this is their love story.

But then, no one has ever paid as close attention to him as Harry.

Harry suddenly breaks out into a grin, the first that Louis’ seen all morning. “You don’t like him,” he says again, like he’s cementing the idea in his brain. He looks ridiculously relieved, and the bad feeling in Louis’ chest intensifies to the degree that he blurts out:

“But you do, don’t you?”

He almost winces as the words - desperate, blatant, obvious - hit the air. They bounce around between them, echoing into the silence that follows. But you do, don’t you?

Louis feels paralyzed as he waits for Harry, who looks utterly shocked, to respond. His whole plan, his whole stupid idea, has led up to this. This is the moment when Harry gets his shit together, realizes how he feels, and goes for it. Louis is helpless to do anything but wait with bated breath for the answer he both hopes and fears is coming. He’s not even sure what answer that is at this point.

Harry laughs.

Harry laughs.

Louis stares at him. Nothing about this situation is even remotely funny. “...Harry?”

“Louis,” Harry giggles. “What are you on?”

What is he on?

Oh, sure. Louis’ definitely on something, despite the fact that he has no idea what that even means. He’s on the fact that Harry is laughing at the idea of liking his bloody soulmate. He’s on the fact that he’s hopelessly endeared by the way Harry is chuckling softly to himself. And he’s super on the fact that - time to admit it - Louis has royally, seriously, badly fucked up.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Louis grits out.

Harry sweeps his arms out, still grinning. He suddenly looks a thousand times happier than he did a few minutes ago. “Of course I don’t like Niall!” No, no, no. That is not an of course statement, it’s a what the fuck statement. “I mean, he seems like a really cool guy,” Harry hurriedly checks himself, looking instantly contrite. “But, I mean. Louis. You have to know that I - “ Harry stops, his face flushing, then carries on resolutely. “I’m - “

Louis runs out of the room.

He doesn’t stop there, either. He doesn’t even click his watch to travel somewhere, he just runs. He pushes out of the doors and takes off down the street, his chest heaving, his eyes inexplicably shiny.

Distantly, he’s aware he’s in only his boxers and T-shirt, and that might be grounds for indecent exposure (he’s not sure what the Human laws are; there are way too many to keep track of), but he doesn’t care. He just wants to get away, away, away. Away from Harry’s stupidly hopeful gaze, away from the determined pull of those sleepy-soft green eyes, away from broad, muscled shoulders that Louis wants to curl up against.

His thoughts pound in tandem with his bare feet as he runs blindly, without direction. Chants echo in his head, an unholy chorus of Niall, Niall, Niall and Cupids don’t get hard, Cupids don’t get hard, Cupids don’t get hard and, the worst one of all, the one that punctuates his chest: He’s not yours, he’s not yours, he’s not yours. The words get louder and louder until Louis slams roughly against some dirty brick wall and slides to the ground, burying his head in his hands to try and block it all out.

Cupids don’t get to be in love. That’s the simple truth. Louis’ been such a fucking fool for letting himself pretend otherwise.

What’s that Human saying? Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Louis will always be the bridesmaid, the agent, the Wingman that injects Humans like Harry with blasts of technicolor. It’s Louis’ fate - it’s his fucking job - to forever live in black and white.

Love stories aren’t written for Cupids. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it always goes. And this particular love story can’t play out like he stupidly, selfishly wants it to, because Louis has put himself - and Liam - in terrible danger if Harry doesn’t end up with Niall.

Louis cannot have a happy ending.

 

>>>

 

When Harry came out in tenth grade, his best friend, Connor Wagon, kicked the shit out of him the next day after rugby practice. The actual beating up was a bit of a panicked blur, but Harry remembers very clearly what it felt like lying on the ground afterwards. He was never sure if the blackness crushing his lungs was due to the pain or the betrayal.

He vowed to himself, cleaning off his bloody nose in the bathroom that night, that he would never feel like that again.

It’s a shame, really, that Louis’ the one who made him break his vow.

He’s been gone for a solid ten minutes, during which Harry has just stared blankly at the seat he vacated. He’s having a hard time accepting that Louis just left. Harry was on the brink of confessing his feelings, and he fucking fucked off.

Harry knows he’s fallen way too hard, way too fast for Louis. He’s been hooked ever since Louis made a raspberry-cake-colored mess of his bakery, and he’s even more obsessed now that Louis has made a splattery, sweet mess of his life, too. It’s too much, too soon. It’s way too early to look at Louis, soft and sleepy in the morning, and think, I want to wake up to that every day.

It would be easier to understand if Harry was the kind of person who fell in love often, but he’s just the opposite. Harry is guarded. He doesn’t let in people easily, because he’s holding out for something special, something real.

So what does it say that he let Louis in so quickly?

Harry runs shaking fingers through his hair. Truthfully, he knows what it means. He’s known Louis for about three days, and he more than just likes him. He more than just likes the way he yawns, or the way he gently teases him, or the way his eyes light up when he discovers something.

“Why isn’t it Niall?”

Harry jerks up. Louis’ standing in his doorway. He looks a little crazed, his eyes and hair wild. He’s breathing hard.

When Harry does nothing but gape, Louis walks right up to him and fists his jacket in his hands. Harry feels short of breath being so close, being able to look directly into his sharp blue eyes. “Why isn’t it Niall?” Louis repeats fiercely, shaking him a little.

“I... he’s not... he’s not it,” Harry stammers.

Louis’ grip slackens in confusion. “What?”

Harry swallows nervously, but ploughs ahead. “Niall’s not it.”

“What does it mean? Is this like that bae thing?” Louis asks warily. He lets go of Harry’s jacket.

Harry quells a hysterical laugh. “No, I mean.” He’s not sure how to explain this to Louis. He’s never been able to articulate it well to anyone, because there’s no one left who believes in soulmates.

“I’ve kind of always... thought that for everyone, there’s one person out there. One person that they’re meant to be with.” Harry takes a deep breath and tries to gather his thoughts. “I know that it’s so idealistic and cliché and just plain stupid to believe that, but I do. I believe in the storybook love that everyone else is too jaded to even look for anymore.

“So I’ve been waiting - waiting my whole life, really - for a love like that, the kind of love that you shout from rooftops and buy roses for and spend your whole day thinking of, you know? And I know when I meet him,” and he’s looking right at Louis, and he knows he’s saying too much, he’ll probably scare Louis off, but he can’t stop himself, “I’ll want him to invade my life. I’ll want all of him, everything that he’ll give me, because when you meet your soulmate, you don’t need convincing. You just know that they’re it. They’re - yours.” Louis’ eyes are burning into his, a whirl of emotions that he can’t decipher reflected back at him. “When you meet him,” Harry breathes, “you fall for him right away.”

Everything else around them feels suspended as they look at each other, like they’re trapped in a moment too fragile to break.

“You’re supposed to be with Niall,” Louis whispers. He sounds like he’s fighting off tears.

Harry’s stomach swoops. “Why do you want me to be with Niall?”

Louis’ chokes out a half-laugh, half-sob. “I don’t,” he says, and then he stands up on tiptoe and presses his lips against Harry’s.

Harry isn’t expecting it, and when Louis starts to draw back, Harry immediately pulls him closer, resting his hands on the curve in Louis’ spine above his bum. Tentatively, carefully, like Louis is a delicate, delicate thing, Harry plies his mouth open and sweeps his tongue inside. Louis makes a soft, muffled noise, and he slowly winds his arms around Harry’s neck and returns the kiss.

Harry kisses him slow and soft. He can feel him trembling in his arms, and his heart burns with the desire to protect, to care, to love. He brings one hand up to cup Louis’ cheek, rubbing slow circles on his soft skin as he delves into Louis’ mouth, warmth pulsing in his chest when Louis makes more shaky, appreciative noises. He sounds so surprised, like he wasn’t ready, either, for how good they feel together.

He can feel Louis growing hard against him, and he carefully slides one knee between his muscular thighs. Louis accepts it, thrusting slowly, instinctively against him as Harry continues to suck on his tongue.

Eventually, Harry breaks away and rests his forehead against Louis’, trying to calm his racing heart. Their breaths mingle for a few seconds, before Louis murmurs, quiet and uncertain, “Do you... can we...?”

Harry lifts his head so he can gaze into Louis’ eyes. He sees lust, and something else that sparks in Harry’s chest, but he also sees a tinge of fear, like Louis isn’t sure how to ask for what he wants. Isn’t sure what he wants.

Harry’s hands tighten around Louis. He’s not going to let go. “Can I suck you?” he asks quietly, lips brushing against the shell of Louis’ ear.

Louis shudders, a full-body shudder. Harry’s cock hardens, and he barely resists humping Louis’ leg. When Louis meets his gaze, his eyes, despite the huge black pupils, are still swimming with uncertainty. He drops them to look down at his feet. “I don’t... I’ve never...”

Harry wants to kiss away the tension in Louis’ hunched shoulders. He settles for just nosing along Louis’ jaw, breathing him in. “Never what?”

Louis makes a small, high noise when Harry bites down on his ear. “I guess I’ve been waiting for someone special, too,” he says shakily.

He sounds embarrassed, like he doesn’t realize that blood rushes to Harry’s cock at the words. Harry pulls back and looks at Louis incredulously. “Not with anyone?”

Louis’ face closes off and he turns away, muttering something Harry doesn’t quite catch but that sounds a little like “not supposed to.” Confused, Harry grips his jaw with his chin and forces Louis to meet his eyes. “Babe - “ the endearment slides out without Harry realizing, and Louis’ face heats up under Harry’s hand - “we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. We can - “

Louis shakes his head and grips Harry’s hand with his own. “No, I want to, I want to,” he says desperately. “I just - I don’t know - “

Harry decides then and there that Louis needs him to take control. He takes them over to the couch that Louis’ been sleeping on - it smells like him - and lays Louis down carefully before crawling over him. “I have you,” he whispers, kissing him softly. He moves his mouth down to his collarbone and traces his tongue over it, lapping at the sweat dewing there. Louis squirms, already desperate. “H-harry, please - “

Harry tugs at Louis’ shirt, a question. Louis shuffles up quickly and pulls it off, whipping it to the side and laying back down.

Harry gives himself a moment to take him in. He looks so pretty, muscular and compact, his nipples hardened and light hair trailing from his belly button down. He’s watching Harry nervously, biting his lip. Harry can’t believe that he’s giving this to him.

Without another word, Harry lowers his tongue back onto his skin, inhaling deeply. He kisses down his chest slowly, pausing only to bite at Louis’ nipples. Louis arches sharply, hissing, and makes a high noise when Harry lathers his tongue over his nipple to soothe him.

Harry places his hands firmly on Louis’ soft, fleshy hips. “Be still,” he murmurs, shuffling down the couch and hooking his fingers into Louis’ boxers. He looks up at him from under his eyelashes.

Louis looks wrecked. His chest is heaving, and he’s staring at Harry like he can’t look away. Harry wonders briefly if anyone’s ever taken such care of his body before, wonders to what extent Louis has been saving himself.

“Can I,” Harry says softly, his fingers hovering over Louis’ boxers.

Louis nods jerkily, and that’s all Harry needs. When he peels off his boxers, Louis’ cock springs out, pink and rock-hard. Harry’s mouth waters just looking at it. He can’t resist leaning down and licking a fat stripe from base to tip.

Louis’ reaction is beautiful - he moans out loud, then claps a hand over his mouth, looking equal parts awed and ashamed. Harry smothers a laugh at this nervous, shy version of Louis and gently pries his hand away, kissing the fingertips lovingly. “Make all the noise you want, yeah?”

Louis nods slowly. With a soft smile, Harry crouches down. He starts off pressing kitten licks and kisses to Louis’ cock, just getting it wet, listening carefully to his breathless gasps and groans. When Louis starts to plead "Harry, please," Harry takes pity on him. He fits his mouth on his cock and sucks.

Louis’ hands shoot up to clutch his hair. “Harry, Harry,” he chants brokenly, and Harry takes that as encouragement so slide down further, gripping what he can’t reach with his hand. The scant few experiences he’s had, his partners have always enjoyed his blowjobs enough, but he’s never had anyone quite as responsive as Louis, who gasps out loud and thrashes beneath Harry’s firm grip like he's never felt anything so good before.

Harry manages to sink down about three-quarters of the way before he pulls off, eyes watering. It's worth it for the sight of Louis staring up at the ceiling, pink-cheeked and wide-eyed. "Harry, fuck," he croaks.

Harry ducks his head to hide his grin. He's not sure if he's really that good or if Louis' just never received a blow job before, but, either way, he has a gorgeous, flushed, and pliant boy pinned down to his couch. Harry suddenly wants to amaze him, but more than that, he wants to make him as happy as he's ever been. He wants Louis to have everything.

Harry licks his lips and puts his mouth back on Louis' cock, tasting the bitter precome and salty sweat there. He slides all the way down, getting to the point where he'd normally pull off, and keeps going, slurping noisily until he can feel Louis' cock nudging the back of his throat. Louis lets out a high noise and trembles beneath Harry's grip like he's trying not to buck up his hips. "H-H-" he pants.

Harry's lips curl up, and he starts to move his head, bobbing up and down to create friction. Louis thunks his head back against the couch’s armrest, breathing heavily and tightening his hands in Harry's hair. "Oh God Harry, you're so - you're so - "

Harry pulls off with a slurp and grins devilishly. "I'm so?"

Louis mewls and scrabbles at Harry. "You bastard, come back, come back," he pants. Harry smirks, but does as he's told, dragging his mouth back down Louis' cock. The room fills with the sounds of Harry sucking and Louis groaning and gasping desperately, and then Louis' tugging at his hair and saying "Harry, Harry, off, get off." Harry just slides his hands under Louis' ass, squeezing handfuls to draw him even further into his mouth and moaning around his cock at the feel. Louis gasps and finally thrusts into Harry's mouth, and then his come explodes onto Harry's tongue. Louis groans as Harry sucks him through it, drawing the come out of his cock and down his throat. Harry has to shove a hand down his own pants and squeeze the base of his dick at the sound of it, like Louis' completely out of his mind with need.

Harry looks up at him as Louis shudders through his orgasm, his plump thighs trembling around Harry's head. He makes such a pretty picture, damp limbs and damp lips. Louis jerks for the last time and then goes limp, sagging back into the couch and making a high whimpering noise. Harry pulls off with a pop, crawls over him, and gives him a kiss, letting half his own come wash back into his mouth. Louis makes a surprised but pleased noise and swallows it down eagerly.

They snog for long enough that Harry loses track of what's come and what's just saliva. Louis' kisses are sloppy, but so incredibly enthusiastic, like he's trying to swallow Harry down, like he can't get enough.

Louis finally pulls back, looking at Harry with something akin to awe. "That was amazing," he says, almost disbelievingly.

"You're amazing," Harry whispers. He has to forcibly stop himself from rutting against Louis' perfect, still exposed thighs, plump and pretty. He just sounds so shy, and it's a part of Louis that Harry hasn't seen before. He's willing to bet no one has, and that, well.

That has Harry wanting to completely destroy him.

Louis can feel Harry's hardness, though. He blinks down at it, then reaches tentative fingers for it. "Can I...?"

"Yes," Harry says quickly, not even knowing what he's agreeing to. He just wants to keep this, this submissive and eager version of Louis, so different but equally as lovely. He rips down his boxers, and then he's kneeling in front of Louis, one leg on each side of him, his dick rock-hard and right there in front of Louis' face.

Louis stares at it. And then he licks his lips.

Harry's knees buckle. "Louis - " he starts, but he doesn't get to finish before Louis drops down to the floor. He situates himself in front of Harry and looks up at him from under his eyelashes. "Facing me," he says, his voice determined.

Harry scrambles to plant himself in front of Louis so he has one leg on either side of his head. Louis runs his hands up and down Harry's thighs and takes a deep breath.

"Louis, we don't have to do anything you don't oh fucking fuck," Harry gasps when Louis pink, spit-soaked lips wrap around his cock. He can't stop himself from thrusting forward into Louis' mouth, and then he stills, afraid that Louis' going to pull back, coughing.

But Louis just makes a delighted humming noise and fucking slides down lower, taking Harry - fucking shit - all the way down his throat. He does it easily, like it's nothing, and his wet tight throat around Harry’s cock doesn’t fight off the intrusion at all; it just fits him snugly, like he’s fucking meant to be there.

“Louis, I thought you - I thought you said you haven’t - “ Harry can’t even get the words out, he’s so overwhelmed.

Louis, to Harry’s surprise and displeasure, pulls off, frowning. “Did I do it wrong?”

Harry has to grip his cock to stop himself from coming then and there. Louis’ so amazing, and he has no idea. He’s like a secret Harry discovered. “No, no, you didn’t do anything wrong, I just - doesn’t it - hurt?” Harry says feebly.

Louis cocks his head. “Hurt?”

Harry waves his hands vaguely, at a loss. “Doesn’t it hurt to... take it that far down?”

Louis just blinks at him in confusion for a few seconds, and then his face lights up. “Oh, you’re talking about that gag thing, aren’t you?”

“Er- yes?”

Louis grins hugely. “Oh, we - I mean, I don’t have that,” he says cheerfully. "Never needed to develop it, I guess."

Before Harry can respond to that, Louis leans his head back down and slides his mouth over Harry’s leaking cock again. Harry keens and struggles not to buck up, then remembers what Louis said.

His first few thrusts are timid, but Louis, who seems to have gained some confidence on the other side of things, just makes an approving noise and starts moving his head up and down, probably following Harry’s example. Harry starts to fuck his mouth in earnest, and Louis just takes it, slurping happily, his head buried in between Harry’s thighs, his beard scratching the soft flesh raw.

Harry grips Louis’ head and thrusts his hips forward, shoving himself roughly down Louis’ throat. He feels a flash of panic - with anyone else, it probably would have been too rough, especially for someone who’s never given head before - but Louis just sucks his cock eagerly. It might be Louis’ enthusiasm that finally does it, or it might be the overall visual of him on his knees, servicing Harry and doing it so happily, but either way, Harry can feel himself getting close. “Louis,” he tries, “Louis, I’m gonna come.”

Louis casts him a look and pulls off reluctantly. “Can you - can you do it on my face?” he blurts out.

Harry can only groan in response. He grips the top of Louis’ damp hair with one hand and jerks himself off furiously with the other, closing his eyes and moaning shamelessly. In the heat of the moment, wild words flash through his mind, words like I and love and you, words that he can’t possibly mean so soon, so early. Harry bites his lip to keep them back, trying to tamp down on the feeling that they’ve been burning in him ever since he laid eyes on Louis. Like Louis was the one who brought them, him, to life.

Harry opens his eyes to see Louis waiting, expectantly, watching Harry in awe. He whispers, “Please,” and that’s all it takes for Harry to come the hardest and loudest he can ever remember, spurting pearly white all over Louis’ gorgeous face.

His orgasm is so strong that he almost blacks out for a minute. When he returns to Earth, his brain still a little fuzzy, all he can focus on is Louis covered in his come, looking bemused and a little delighted. His pink tongue darts out to taste it, and, really, Harry can’t be blamed for saying hoarsely, “You like that?”

Louis just nods, a little bashfully, and if Harry spends the next five minutes feeding his come into Louis’ eager little mouth, Louis lapping at his fingers and swallowing greedily, well, no one has to know.

When Louis’ clean, Harry sinks down next to him and pulls him into his chest, stroking his hair softly and cooing meaningless words like you’re perfect and mine and baby. They’re not the kind of words that you say to someone you’ve known for, fuck, for a handful of days, but - well, Harry already feels closer to Louis than he ever has to anyone. Maybe that should scare him, but it doesn’t, because Harry’s ready to admit that he knows what this is. What they are.

And looking at Louis now - who’s glowing under Harry’s praise, eyes closed and tiny hands curled into Harry’s chest - Harry can’t stop the ridiculous, insane, absolutely right words spilling from his lips, in the order they’re always meant to be in:

I love you.

And that’s when the wings burst out of Louis’ back.

Chapter Text

“What the fuck!”

Louis freezes in Harry’s arms. Shit. He’s in love with Niall. This was all a mistake. He’s realized that Niall is his soulmate, not Louis - thick-thighed, inexperienced, bumbling Louis, who doesn’t even have a gag reflex like normal Humans -

“Louis, you - you - “ Louis twists around to see Harry’s expression. He looks almost comical: his eyes are wide, and he’s pointing at Louis and mouthing words silently.

“If you’re in love with Niall, just say it,” Louis says gruffly.

Harry just stares at him. “Niall - I don’t - “

There’s a fluttering sound behind Louis, and he’s hit with a gust of air. Frowning, Louis turns around.

And is met with a soft white blur smacking him in the face.

Louis yelps and spits the - feathers? - out of his eyes. When he can see again, his mouth drops open, because no. No way.

He has wings.

He has Arrow wings, soft, plush, feathery, massive wings sprouting out from - he cranes his neck - yep, his shoulders.

Louis shrieks and scrambles up.

Harry quickly stands up too. “Louis, are those - what are they?” He backs away, his eyes wide. “What are you?”

Louis doesn’t miss the fear.

Squashing down his hurt feelings - which are ridiculous, of course Harry would be scared, Louis’ just sprouted wings - Louis just fish mouths at Harry. "I don't - this isn't supposed to happen yet," he says nonsensically.

"Yet!?" Harry all but screeches. "Were you planning on growing fucking wings?"

"Yes, I was, actually!" Louis shoots back.

"What the - "

And then Harry disappears.

It's not just Harry that disappears, it's his whole room, and then Louis is standing in front of - fuck - Simon. Arrow-in-Chief.

Louis whips around, panicked. He's back in Heaven, if the puffy white floor is anything to go by, but he's somewhere he's never been before, which must mean he's finally behind the Golden Gates. He's kneeling in what looks kind of like that courtroom he once had to match two lawyers up in. Behind Simon is a ring of Arrows, all winged, all floating in the air, and all staring down at Louis disapprovingly. Louis notices that Nick's smirking like he's enjoying all this, and his stomach burns with hatred and humiliation.

"Louis?" comes a faint voice to his right. Louis whips his head to see Liam huddling next to him, still in his Human clothes, looking petrified and shocked and quivery.

"You went off on your own," Simon booms, towering over them. He’s very intimidating, even entirely nude and grey-haired.

Louis gulps. Shit. "How did you... How did you find out?"

“Nick noticed you were gone. When he checked with me, I told him that you hadn’t been ordered to match any Humans. You, in fact, thought yourself capable of choosing your own matching.”

Louis glares at Nick, who just smirks back. “It’s not that I thought I was capable - I mean, I do think I’m capable - “

“We just wanted to be Arrows,” Liam breaks in. His voice is shaking, but he looks determined.
Louis shoots him a glance. “Simon, this was my idea, not Liam’s. You really can’t punish him - “

“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do,” Simon says sternly. “You know that what you did is expressly forbidden, even if you had good intentions.” He pauses and flicks his eyes down to Louis’ wings. “But that isn’t the case, is it?”

“Louis!” Liam hisses, his eyes going wide like he’s just now noticing the wings. He bats frantically at them like he’s trying to make them disappear. “You have wings!”

“Thank you, Liam,” Louis grits out.

“Yes, as Louis said, thank you, Liam,” Simon intones, “for pointing out the obvious: Louis has wings.” He turns to Louis and casts a long, disapproving look up and down. Louis squirms, unable to shake the feeling that Simon can read his mind, that he can see all the images burned into Louis’ brain: His hand on his cock, his mouth on Harry’s, his fingers buried in Harry’s hair.

“How did you get wings?” Liam gasps. "Did it work? Did Harry ask Niall out?"

Louis swallows nervously and opens his mouth, but Nick beats him to it. “Well, Liam, usually you get them by being promoted, but since Louis here doesn’t have the talent to take that path, we can only guess how he managed to obtain these. Maybe he ripped them off an Arrow? Simon, I really think - “

Simon steps in smoothly. “There’s only one other way a Wingman can get his wings.”

Fuck. This better not be what Louis thinks it is.

“He gets his wings if he matches himself.”

Oh, fuck.

There’s a ringing silence after Simon’s words. All the Arrows, even Nick, look too shocked to say anything.

Liam is the only one who doesn’t look shocked. He just looks sad.

“Matching yourself is the most powerful match you can make,” Simon says into the silence. He looks down at Louis. “Even if it is expressly forbidden.”

Then Nick starts laughing. “You actually - fuck - you actually went and fell in love?” he chokes. “With a Human?”

The Arrows behind him start giggling, and then everyone’s laughing. “Was it someone you were matching?” Nick shouts delightedly over the uproar. “It was, wasn’t it? Fuck, it was the one you went down there to match in the first place!”

“Enough!” Simon barks. They all shut up immediately. Louis looks up at Simon hopefully, but he doesn’t see any sympathy there.

“Stand up,” he commands the two of them dispassionately. Louis and Liam hasten to obey, Louis on shaky legs.

“The Arrows will review your case and decide what your punishment will be,” Simon says gravely. “In the meantime - “

“Wait,” Louis interrupts hurriedly.

Simon stops. He looks stunned, but he doesn’t say anything, so Louis ploughs ahead.

“I’m sorry that I went to Earth to match someone without your permission. I know that was wrong.” Louis licks his lips. “But you can’t punish me for falling in love.”

Nick snorts derisively. Some other Arrows glance between themselves and giggle.

Simon just watches him, his face unreadable. “Explain,” he says curtly.

Louis’ brain is whirling. He takes a deep breath and stares down at the puffy white clouds below his feet. “I...”

He thinks of Harry suddenly, his wide smile and his sparkling eyes, and the words come easily then.

“We’re not allowed to be in love. Cupids have to match other people up, and we never get to have it for ourselves. But that’s just not fair.”

Louis can hear Nick snickering and Liam hissing Louis stop stop, but he doesn’t care. This has been clawing at his throat since he met Harry, and he wants to get it out now.

“You’re all laughing. But that’s because you don’t understand. If you let yourself feel how Humans feel, you wouldn’t want to be an Arrow, you’d want to be down there, with them. Love is... it’s fucking beautiful, okay? And so is having an orgasm!” Louis says defiantly, and, whoops.

“You had sex with your Human?” an Arrow asks incredulously.

“I... no, but we... did other... “ Louis trails off uncertainly.

“Oh shit,” someone whispers.

Louis feels himself turn red. “It feels good, okay? You’d like coming if you ever did it!”

"This is priceless,” another Arrow snorts. “He’s literally turned into a Human. All he thinks about is love and sex.”

Louis’ temper flares. “So? Okay, yeah, maybe I got a little Human down there, but maybe they know how to live better than we do! Maybe they’re onto something! If you met Harry, you’d understand how I fucking fell for him, because he’s the best Human there is. You know what, not even that. He’s the best anything, Cupid or Human or whatever, that I’ve ever come across. And I will not apologize for loving him.”

Louis breaks off, breathing hard. Shit, he hadn’t really meant to say all that. He can’t quite believe that he has - and not only that, he’s just admitted to loving Harry. A Human.

He risks a glance at Simon’s face, but he can’t tell what he’s thinking. Nick’s rolling his eyes, but some of the other Arrows are looking at Louis contemplatively.

“You two can go now,” Simon says finally. Is it Louis’ imagination? Does his voice sound a little gentler? Are his eyes a little softer?

Louis doesn’t wait to find out. He scurries away from the courtroom and out of the Golden Gates with Liam, and he doesn’t stop walking until he can’t see them anymore when he looks back.

 

“What if they kick us out?”

“Can you please stop pacing?”

Liam’s pacing increases in fervor. They’re back outside of the Golden Gates in Wingman territory. Several Wingmen dart by and cast them glances, but none of them talk to the two of them. They probably just want to get a good look at the Wingmen stupid enough to think they could do a matching on their own, Louis thinks bitterly.

Or the freak who fell for a Human.

“What if they make us Human?” Liam panics.

Louis doesn’t have an answer. The thought of leaving Heaven is terrifying.

“Louis, how could you do this to us?”

Louis starts and stares at Liam, who’s looking resolutely at his feet as he paces, his hands in fists. Louis feels his stomach twist. He totally fucked Liam over, and, worse, he hasn’t even been feeling bad enough about it, too consumed with Harry to think about the fact that matching himself up would have dire consequences for Liam too.

“Liam, I am so... fuck, I am so sorry,” Louis says earnestly, grabbing at Liam’s ankle so he stops walking. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I just wanted us to be Arrows.”

Liam sighs. “I know,” he says quietly. “I know you didn’t, but, seriously, Lou. How did this...” he grapples for words helplessly. “How’d you fall in love? With a Human?”

He looks so confused, just like everyone else. None of them understand how this could happen to Louis.

None of them understand love.

“I don’t know,” Louis says honestly. “It just sort of happened.”

Liam tips his head, brow furrowed like he’s thinking hard, before his face clears. “The Humans don’t choose who they fall in love with, do they? It’s kind of like that, I guess. Like, when they know, they know, right? Even if it’s not someone they ever thought it would be.”

“Yeah,” Louis says, breathing out slowly. “Yeah, exactly.”

“Hey, remember that couple who played for opposing football teams?” Liam says eagerly. “They couldn't believe it when they fell for each other.”

Louis laughs. “Yeah. The first time they met off the field, they literally tackled each other to the ground.”

“And the next time they met...”

“They tackled each other for a different reason,” Louis finishes, grinning. Liam gives a shocked laugh, and the two of smile at each other before Liam’s fades slowly.

“Louis,” he says. “Really, though. What do you think is going to happen to us?”

Louis can’t answer that. He doesn’t know.

And what’s more, he doesn’t know what he wants to happen, either.

 

Louis and Liam are collected and brought to the Golden Gates by two random Arrows. The Arrows don’t respond to their not-so-subtle questioning about what they decided, choosing instead to just usher them back into the courtroom-like space and leave the two of them there, staring up at the crowd of Arrows.

Liam, who mellowed a little while they waited, has returned to full-on anxiety levels. He doesn’t seem capable of words anymore; he just keeps frantically batting Louis’ arm. Louis doesn’t tell him to stop, because he kind of likes the reminder that someone’s there with him.

“Louis. Liam.” Simon says ominously. Louis is seized with a bizarre urge to laugh that is instantly quelled when Liam starts to shake next to him. “You’ve shattered the most basic tenets of Wingmanship.”

“We know,” Louis mutters under his breath.

“Louis. You fell in love with a Human.”

Louis stiffens. He doesn't feel prepared for them to tell him what a mistake that was again.

“Despite this - “ Louis’ head snaps up - “ - after much discussion,” Simon shoots Nick a glance, and Nick stares back coolly, but doesn’t say anything, “the Arrows have decided that you were helpless to stop your feelings, and thus should not be blamed for them. We also recognize that your ambition to become an Arrow, while not something to be rewarded, demonstrates a commitment to Heaven and all the goals we strive to achieve with our Cupids.” Simon levels long looks at the both of them, and then says sternly, “Though you will have to earn your arrows fairly, we have decided that the two of you may remain Wingmen in Heaven.”

Ignoring the irritated noise that Nick makes, Simon claps his hands. Louis feels a slight shiver down his spine, and when he twists behind, he sees his beautiful white wings - the wings he’d always dreamed of - fluttering softly to the ground before disappearing into the puffy white clouds.

“Thank you so much,” Liam starts to babble, sounding incredibly relieved. “You won’t regret this. We’ll be the best Wingmen you could possibly hope for, and we won’t step out of line ever again. We promise.” Liam turns to Louis expectantly, grinning broadly. “Right, Lou?”

Louis feels... strangely numb, like Simon’s words haven’t penetrated him yet. They must have, though, because he’s not sure why else his chest feels so frozen, or his lungs like they’re gasping for air.

Of course he wants to remain in Heaven. He’s a Wingman, and one day he’ll be an Arrow. That’s his future, and he’s lucky he’s been allowed to keep it.

But it’s a future without Harry.

“No,” Louis blurts.

The room goes still.

“No?” Simon repeats slowly.

Louis gulps. “Simon, I’m - I’m grateful. Of course I am, but I can’t - “

“Can’t what?”

“I can’t stay here.”

The silence is deafening.

“I don’t think I can be without him,” Louis whispers.

There’s a few more seconds of shocked quiet, and then Nick scoffs. “Are you serious?”

“Nick - “ Simon says warningly.

“No, but actually,” Nick says loudly. “He’s going to give up the chance to get his wings again, fairly, to be with a Human?” He turns to Louis, looking incredulous. “You’re going to give up the chance to be an Arrow, to go to the parties you could never get into, to have the freedom to really use your magic? You can have all the Human stuff you want if you live behind the Golden Gates. I thought you were so damn eager to be an Arrow.”

“I can't have Harry, though," Louis says quietly.
Nick opens his mouth to protest, looking murderous, but Simon holds up his hand, and he snaps it shut reluctantly. “That’s enough, Nick,” he says. He turns to Louis, his expression indecipherable as he scrutinizes him. “Louis, if you go back to Earth, you’ll go back as a Human. You’ll never be able to live in Heaven again. You’ll be... mortal.”

Louis risks a glance at Liam, who’s looking at him fearfully. He fully expects him to hiss No, Louis, but he doesn’t. He just stares at him for a few seconds, and then he swallows and gives an almost imperceptible nod. It’s a nod that says, okay.

“I understand,” Louis responds, still looking at Liam. “I want to be.”

 

When Louis gets back on Earth - dressed in normal clothes, holding a small bag that Simon handed him that contains, as Simon put it, “the essentials” - the first thing he does is go to a tattoo parlor.

Once that’s done, the second thing he does is lock himself inside the loo at a train station nearby, nose wrinkling, and rifle inside the bag. Simon’s given him, among some other things, a thick wad of money (it won’t be enough, of course, he’ll have to actually keep his job at the bakery - unless, but, no, he’s not thinking about that), a bundle of clothes, and - Louis flushes - what appears to be a bottle of “anal lubricant”.

Zipping the bag shut hurriedly - Louis’ not sure he even wants to know what that’s for, nor why it’s flavored - Louis heads out of the restroom and checks the times for trains. Apparently he’s about thirty minutes from the area that Harry lives in.

When he came down to Earth, he’d reached for his watch to just travel to Harry’s, but then he’d remembered that he didn’t have one anymore. Louis’ man enough - oh God, he’s literally man enough, he’s actually fucking Human now, which means he has to stop capitalizing it in his head - to admit that he slumped down on the dirty street and cried a little.

The gravity of what he’d done had just hit him then. He isn’t going to see his friends again. He’s not going to match anyone again, either. He’s not going to be able to steal anything again, which, okay isn’t a massive loss (in fact, he feels a bit shitty for all the stealing he's one), but still. It’s the principle that counts.

But he is going to get to come again.

He’s going to get to come again, and he’s going to get to love again, and he’s going to get to spend lazy mornings and frantic nights and sunny days with Harry.

If Harry will have him, that is.

By the time Louis gets to Harry’s apartment, he’s a nervous wreck. The whole train ride over, he couldn’t stop outlining all the reasons Harry isn’t going to want to see him. First of all, the last time they talked, Louis had just sprouted wings, which is probably a turn off. Second of all, Louis disappeared on him. Third of all, Louis’ going to have to explain that he’s - well, that he was - a mythical being, which isn’t a conversation he’s looking forward to, mostly because it’s extremely unlikely that Harry will believe him, or want him after he knows that Louis tried to set him up with Niall.

Nevertheless, he musters up the courage to ring Harry’s doorbell, and then he’s just waiting there, holding his bag in one hand and drumming his fingers on his thigh with the other.

For a long time, Harry doesn’t answer, and Louis starts to panic. He’s not sure how long he’s been gone, since time passes differently down here. At a guess, he’s probably been gone for most of the day, seeing as it’s nighttime.

The door finally opens. Harry’s dressed in his boxers and a white T-shirt, his curls are sleep-messy, and he’s rubbing his eyes like he’s just woken up. When he sees Louis, his mouth drops open, and his hand falls to his sides.

“Harry,” Louis says. His throat feels tight.

Harry just stares. Okay. Louis can do the talking. He has the most to explain anyway.

“Is it okay if I... can I come in? I have a lot of stuff I need to tell you, and you might not believe me, but on the off chance that you will, I’m gonna say it.”

After a beat, Harry wordlessly lets him inside. Louis catches how he glances at the back of Louis’ hoodie as if he’s looking for wings.

They shuffle into Harry’s living room, Louis dropping his bag somewhere and toeing off his shoes. Louis goes a bit pink at the sight of the couch, remembering what they last did on it, but Harry doesn’t seem to react. They just sit in the semi-darkness, which is probably for the best, because Louis isn’t sure he wants to see Harry’s face at the moment.

Louis clears his throat and launches into the story. He starts off with the craziest parts, trying to explain who he is and where he comes from. That part’s the most difficult, because he can hear how insane he sounds, but he ploughs through it, not quite daring to look at Harry’s face. He tells him about Wingmen, and Arrows, and why he wanted to be an Arrow, and how we went about getting the promotion.

“So that’s why you kept setting me up with Niall,” Harry interjects at one point. It’s the first thing he’s said so far.

Louis can’t help the little dart in his chest. Does this mean you believe me? he thinks but doesn’t say. “Yeah.”

“Keep going.”

So Louis explains trying to set him up with Niall, and wanting them together and not wanting them together at the same time. He gets a little flushed when he explains the reason he got his wings, but he can’t read Harry’s expression in the dark.

When he eventually tells Harry that he left Heaven for him, he feels a feather-light touch on his arm. Then Harry’s hand presses down a bit, and Louis shuts up immediately.

“You gave up your home for me?” Harry asks. Louis can’t tell what he’s thinking from his voice.

He swallows, and it sounds noisy in the room. “I did. Yeah.”

Harry doesn’t say anything.

“Can we turn on the light?” Louis asks desperately.

Harry shifts away, and then there’s the click of a lamp and the room floods with light. Louis feels his chest tighten at how fucking gorgeous Harry looks. He’d forgotten in the darkness how beautiful he is, all the time.

And it’s not just how he looks, because Louis’ seen hot Humans before. He knows Harry, in a way that he’s never known a Human before. They’ve shared fears and laughter and come, for Christ’s sake. And it makes him all the more beautiful.

Harry’s looking at him with large eyes. “Louis,” he breathes.

Louis doesn’t know if it’s a Louis I love you or Louis you’re insane. “I have something to show you,” he says quickly.

He doesn’t wait for Harry’s response, he just shoves back his jumper sleeve. On his left forearm is a tattoo, the only one he’s got. It’s a dagger.

When Harry just looks at it, his face unreadable, Louis starts to ramble, terrified that A) he doesn’t get it or B) he does get it and Louis just went too far. “It’s a dagger, right? Like how you have the rose? It’s supposed to show that we’re soulmates, because, I mean, I don’t mean to freak you out, but I’ve seen a lot of soulmate shit before, and we’re, I mean, you. I’m pretty sure you’re mine. Not pretty sure. You are.”

He breaks off. When Harry doesn’t speak, Louis’ stomach turns horribly. “Say something,” he begs into the silence.

Harry finally meets his gaze, and Louis’ heart drops when he realizes his eyes are wet.

“Was it too much?” Louis croaks.

Harry smiles crookedly and slides closer, closer, closer, until he’s inches from Louis’ lips. “Louis,” he says weakly.

Louis had been so sure that Harry would feel the same way, but his heart is hammering away like it doesn’t have the same certainty.

“I love you,” Harry murmurs, and Louis’ stomach swoops, and then Harry is leaning ever closer and pressing his lips to Louis’.

The kiss is so tentative, so sweet, that it feels like a promise. Louis dares himself to place his hand on Harry’s back and pull him closer, and Harry makes a slow, deep noise and cradles Louis’ face with both hands.

They kiss and kiss until they’re dizzy with it, until Louis’ head is swimming and he’s all but rutting against Harry’s thigh. “I want,” he says against his mouth.

Harry stills. “So you really haven’t done anything else? With anyone?”

Louis flushes, embarrassed. “No,” he admits. “You’re the first. For everything.”

Harry’s right hand comes to rest on the small of Louis’ back, while his left hand is still cupping Louis’ cheek. He presses their foreheads together. “You know we don’t have to do anything right now,” Harry says, the words ghosting across Louis’ lips.

Louis shakes his head. “I want this.”

Harry exhales in a whoosh. “Fuck,” he says, pulling back and locking eyes with Louis. “You’re a gift, baby.”

“Sent from Heaven,” Louis agrees.

Harry laughs, his eyes bright. “That’s going to take some getting used to,” he says. “That you come from, like. Heaven.”

Louis feels giddy from the kissing. “In a good way?”

“In the best way,” Harry confirms, sliding his hand over Louis’ cheek wonderingly. “In an 'I can’t believe you’re real' way.”

“I can’t believe you’re real,” Louis says without thinking. He blushes, but Harry just laughs. The sound is golden. Louis laughs too.

“Can I ask some questions? Is that allowed?”

“What, about Heaven?” Louis asks. Harry nods eagerly.

Louis taps his wrist thoughtfully. “Questions later,” he decides. He leans forward to mouth at Harry’s jaw, and he doesn’t miss the shudder that goes through him. “This first.”

“Are you sure about the sex, though?” Harry asks, a bit breathlessly, as Louis moves to his neck. “You’re kind of jumping into that stuff without really getting your feet... wet.”

Louis makes a face into his skin at the words and groans, and Harry laughs again. “I want to,” Louis says once they've quieted, lifting his head to look into Harry’s eyes. “I need you. Please.” He leans forward to press his lips to Harry’s softly. When Harry kisses back, it gives Louis the courage to mumble, “I want you to fuck me.”

In response, Harry stands up jerkily. Louis is momentarily disoriented by the loss of warmth before Harry takes his hand and draws him up so that Louis is eye-level. For a moment, they just look at each other, hazy green to hazy blue, and then Harry cups his face and kisses him, walking them backwards.

Louis isn’t paying attention to where they’re going; all he can focus on are the sparks behind his eyelids. Distantly, he’s aware that they’re going up some stairs, and then they push through a door, but more importantly, Harry’s delving deeper into his mouth and sucking on his tongue with every fevered kiss.

They only break apart when Harry drops Louis down onto a bed - his bed, and Louis’ mind rushes back to the last time he was in here.

“Saw something naughty on your computer the other day,” Louis can’t help but say, a bit breathlessly, as Harry flicks on the light and roots through a drawer on his nightstand.

Harry’s neck goes red, but he doesn’t look up from his mission. “Oh yeah?”

“Mm-hm,” Louis confirms. He waits a beat. “Want you to do that to me.”

“Christ.” Harry finally straightens, and he’s holding a box of what even Louis knows are condoms in one hand and a bottle that looks suspiciously like the ones Simon gave Louis in the other.

Seeing Louis’ face, some of the hunger in Harry’s eyes is replaced with softness. He drops the items on the bed and crawls forward, pressing a kiss into Louis’ right cheek, then his left, then hovering at his mouth. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Louis nods shakily. “How do I... how do you want me?” he stammers.

Harry’s eyes are ridiculously bright as he gently positions Louis on his back, two pillows underneath his hips. “There you go, love,” he says quietly, kissing Louis again as he situates himself in between his legs. Louis is still fully clothed, and Harry begins to undress him slowly, raising his hips to shake off his jeans, lifting his jumper over his head and trailing kisses down the newly revealed skin. Eventually, he hooks his fingers in Louis’ boxers and raises questioning eyes. Louis has become more desperate with every touch, and he just nods frantically. Harry takes them off slowly, like he’s unwrapping a present, and once Louis lays bare, he flushes from the attention, from the dark and lustful intent on Harry’s face.

In contrast, Harry undresses himself quickly, throwing his T-shirt somewhere and shimmying out of his boxers. Louis’ mouth waters at the sight of Harry’s cock, flushed and erect, and he fists his hands in the duvet to stop himself from grabbing it then and there. Now that he’s had a taste, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get enough.

Harry coats his fingers generously in the clear fluid from the bottle, the sight of which manages to intensify the nerves in Louis’ stomach. Like Harry can feel them, he places one hand lightly where they’re worst. “I’ve got you,” he says gently, and Louis believes him.

When Harry traces Louis’ arsehole with his finger, the light fluttering feeling is enough to make Louis kick out violently. Harry grabs his ankle and holds him down, his lips twitching like he’s trying not to laugh, and Louis blushes. “Sorry.”

“It’s all right,” Harry grins.

“Do people normally laugh during sex?” Louis says ruefully.

Harry just shakes his head. “When it’s good, maybe.”

Louis’ breath catches. “Let’s make it good, then.”

“I’ll do my best,” Harry says wryly, and then he’s ever-so-carefully pushing in his finger, and, ooh.

It doesn’t exactly feel good - in fact, it feels far from good. It’s a bit burning, but Louis tries to control his wince because he doesn’t want Harry to stop. “Keep going,” he manages.

Harry pushes in deeper, and at first it stings, but then the feeling fades, leaving him with a slightly uncomfortable sensation that lessens as Harry stretches him from inside. Eventually, Louis feels ready enough to gasp “More,” and Harry complies, twisting two fingers inside and working the muscle to open him up.

It’s all a bit strange and unfamiliar, and Louis’ about to say something like this is what everyone’s crazy for? when Harry crooks his fingers, and a fierce bolt of pleasure hits Louis like a lightning rod.

Louis can’t stop himself from gasping loudly and jerking. Harry stills his fingers immediately, which, no, no, no. “Are you okay?” he asks, concerned.

“I,” Louis shudders. “What was that?”

Harry’s face clears, and he crooks his fingers again, grinning broadly. Another bolt hits Louis, and he cants his hips, his mind blacking out for a moment. “Harry, Harry,” he pants. “What - “

“That’s your prostate, babe,” Harry laughs.

“Do. That. Again,” Louis gasps.

Harry smirks, but complies, pushes in and out, fucking Louis with his finger and brushing against the whatever-he-called-it. Louis starts to unravel as it becomes less painful and more pleasurable. He tries to imagine that it’s Harry fucking him, but looking down at Harry’s hard, wet cock, he knows it’s not as good as the real thing will be.

Eventually, Louis scrabbles at Harry’s shoulder, damp with sweat and panting. “‘M ready.”

Harry withdraws his fingers, wipes them on the sheets, and goes to roll on the condom, but Louis stops him. “Do we... do we need that?”

Harry bites his lip. “I’m clean.”

“I mean, we both know you’re my first anything,” Louis says, watching Harry’s face intently.

Harry smiles and leans down to kiss him. When his dick brushes up against Louis’, he moans into his mouth, and Louis swallows the sound greedily. “Fuck.”

Harry straightens and lines his cock up with Louis’ hole. “Ready?”

Louis nods hastily. “Please, fuck.”

When Harry pushes in, it’s painful. Louis muffles a shocked gasp, and it’s worth it for the loud groan that Harry gives. “So fucking tight, Lou,” he gasps as he goes deeper. “Can’t believe I get to be the first to have you like this.”

“First and only,” Louis reminds him, breathing heavily and gritting his teeth as Harry bottoms out.

For a moment, the two of them just breathe. “You’re inside me,” Louis manages.

Harry makes a strangled sound. “Fuck, baby. Yeah.”

Louis tentatively splays his hand across Harry’s chest. He can feel his heart pounding beneath his fingertips, pulsing as hard as Louis’. “Move,” he whispers.

Harry pulls out a little and then pushes back in, slow at first. Louis gasps and arches his back, and Harry’s hands immediately grab his wrists to pin him down. Louis’ reaction to that is a little frightening; he doesn’t think he can get any harder at this point, and he has to close his eyes because he doesn’t want to come, and the way Harry’s staring down reverently at his cock in Louis’ arse - holy shit - isn’t helping matters any.

“Want me to hold you like this, baby?” Harry pants.

Louis whines and just nods, squirming a little, as Harry finds a steady, slow rhythm. The room is filled with Harry’s grunts and Louis’ whimpers, and the deliciously filthy sound of skin slapping on skin.

Louis feels like he’s floating, like he’s not really here, because here means with a Human, in bed, having sex. He never could have predicted this, not in a million years, and it’s undoubtedly the best decision he’s ever made.

“Fuck, you’re so fucking tight,” Harry moans. Louis opens his mouth to reply, something along the lines of I love you, but then Harry hits that spot again, and Louis just cries out loudly.

“There we go,” Harry breathes, and then he hits it again, and again, picking up the pace and earnestly thrusting into Louis’ body, still holding his wrists down on the bed like he’s anchoring them. Pleasure courses through him over and over as Harry thrusts. It just feels so primal, like there’s a part of Louis that’s always wanted this, always been able to react to this. It feels so natural with Harry.

The words love and mine and baby start to spill from Harry’s lips, precious words that only add to the bliss. Louis shouts in ecstasy at a particularly hard thrust, and then Harry breathes, “Fuck, fuck, I love you, fuck”, and that’s it for Louis.

He comes hard, splattering as high as his chin. His eyes are still shut tight, but he can feel the warm milky substance, and it’s dirty and filthy and hot. He clenches around Harry as his orgasm hits him, and Harry groans loudly and thrusts erratically a few more times before he floods Louis with his come. The feeling of being so full of Harry is what tips Louis into the finale of his orgasm, and he cries out as the last pulse of come hits his stomach. He’s covered in it, and he’s never felt so Human, nor has he ever felt so good.

Louis goes utterly limp when he’s finished, but Harry shudders over him for a few more seconds like he doesn’t want to pull out. Louis opens his eyes, blinking at the spots he got from squeezing them so tight, to see Harry looking down at him, something reverent in his eyes.

Louis thinks it might be love.

Eventually, reluctantly, Harry does pull out. Louis reaches down to his arsehole gingerly and pulls sticky fingers away. “God.”

“Gorgeous,” Harry corrects. He flops down next to him. “I should probably get a towel.”

“Probably,” Louis says breathlessly. He feels like he’s just run a marathon.

“I don’t think I can move,” Harry admits.

Louis groans. “Do you want me to just sit here in your come all night?”

To his surprise, Harry’s dick twitches violently, and Harry throws his arm over his eyes like the mental image has offended him. “Louis.”

 

Eventually, he does get a towel, and he spends a long time cleaning Louis up and kissing him, brushing his hair away from his face and murmuring how happy he is that he’s here. When he’s finished, Louis can’t keep the inane grin off his face. He smacks Harry a kiss. “I love you, too. Just in case I didn’t say it enough.”

Harry laughs and lies down, wrapping his arms around him, and Louis snuggles back against him. There’s something so intimate about feeling Harry’s softened cock against his arse; it’s different from the frantic pace of sex. This is a new kind of connection, like the two of them are comfortable being naked without lust clouding their vision.

“So is it always that good?” Louis has to ask.

Harry chuckles. “Definitely not.”

Louis preens stupidly at that. “So I’m the best?”

“I’m not inflating your ego,” Harry says primly.

Louis rolls over and faces him. Harry is grinning stupidly too. They both are, and they both recognize it and giggle, stupid with their love.

Harry kisses Louis’ forehead. “So.”

“So.”

“So I’m not sure how I ever lived without that.”

Louis feels utterly giddy, and he thinks Harry feels the same, if his flushed, happy smile is any indication.

“Me either,” Harry says honestly. “Do... what were you called?”

“Wingman. I’m just Man now, though.”

“Mmm, you’re all man,” Harry grins wickedly, squeezing Louis’ ass. Louis yelps in mock protest. “Do Wingmen really not get boners?”

“I’m the only one I’ve ever known to get a stiffy,” Louis says cheerfully. His heart feels like it’s going to explode out of his chest. He doesn’t care what he gave up if he gets to have this, have him, every day.

“W-o-w,” Harry draws out. “So basically, I’m so hot I can get anyone hard.”

“You do talk some shit - “

“Oh, come on, you love me,” Harry teases. They’re so close that it feels like Harry’s every breath washes onto his skin. “I’m your shore.”

Louis flicks him, and Harry flicks him back, and then they play-wrestle, which turns into real-kissing, which turns into another round of sex, and, really, Louis thinks as Harry sucks a line of bruises on his neck, there’s nothing better than being Human.

Unless it’s being a Human in love.

Chapter Text

Harry wakes up to Louis sucking his cock.

It’s not surprising, given that Louis - as Harry’s learned over the years - has quite a thing for servicing him, but it’s a nice wake-up all the same. Louis’ gotten much more confident in bed overtime, but he hasn't lost his submissive streak, which Harry is eternally grateful for.

“Thanks, babe,” Harry murmurs sleepily, bracketing Louis’ face with his thighs like he knows Louis likes. Louis makes a happy noise of approval and sucks harder. He’s always so eager like this, so beautifully content that it takes Harry’s breath away.

When Harry comes, Louis swallows eagerly - Harry should really write a letter of appreciation to whoever made Wingmen (Louis still won’t tell him if there’s a God, or what happens after death. Useless), since they gave him a fit husband with no gag reflex - and sits up. It only takes a few tugs of Harry’s hand for Louis to come, whimpering into Harry’s neck.

Once they’ve cleaned up, Louis flops back down onto Harry. “Urgh,” Harry complains half-heartedly. Louis doesn’t move, most likely because he knows Harry doesn’t really mind.

“So guess what today is,” Louis says cheerfully.

Harry makes a humming noise, eyes closed. He has a production meeting in an hour, where they’re going to talk about the cover of his latest album, and he could use a little more sleep.

“It’s the anniversary of the day we met!” Louis crows.

Harry opens his eyes. “Louiiiis,” he coos. “You remember the date, that’s so adorable!”

Louis scowls at him. He hates being talked down to - the first time Harry tried to explain how to use Tumblr, it ended with Louis calling him a patronizing dick and flouncing out of the room. Interestingly, he didn’t mind it so much when Harry pinned him to the bed that night and called him a good boy, fuck, Louis, you’re the best. Goddamnit. Harry can’t get hard again, he needs to get ready.

“Liam’s the one who remembered,” Louis says loftily.

Harry sits up. “Liam’s here?”

“He called my cell from a payphone last night,” Louis confirms. “Didn’t want to travel here and wake us, but he's coming by in a few hours.”

Harry can’t resist kissing him, even though he has terrible morning breath and Louis pretends to gag. “That’s great! How long is he here for?”

Louis shrugs. “He says this matching could take a while. Apparently they won’t admit they like each other yet, although they obviously do.”

“Just like me and Niall,” Harry grins. Louis’ face darkens, as it does every time he brings up his botched matching. He’d stop if it wasn’t so cute the way Louis gets extra possessive of Harry whenever Niall’s around, despite the fact that they’re all practically family at this point.

“If you ever leave me for Niall, I will cut off all four of your nipples,” he says seriously.

Harry groans. Louis loves bringing up his nipples - when he first realized they were there, he squealed, “Look! We’re both freaks!” “Will you shut up about my nipples if I make you breakfast?”

“Don't you always make me breakfast?”

“You’re the one who works at a bakery!” Harry protests, even though he's made Louis breakfast almost every day for the past two years. "Can't you make your own damn toast?"

“That’s bullshit and you know it,” Louis says dismissively. “The only reason I still have that job is because Barb loves me.”

“Pancakes?” Harry sighs. He considers putting on clothes, then immediately rejects it. The two of them agreed a long time ago that walking around their house naked was the only way to live.

“Mmm, chocolate chip.” Louis snuggles back under the covers.

“Oh, by the way, you know we have Niall and Josh’s party tonight, right?”

Louis grunts. “Are you not aware that the newest season of Orange is the New Black came out yesterday? Stella’s just made Piper her prison wife. Do you really think I’m leaving the house at all this week?”

“I should never have introduced you to Netflix,” Harry groans.

“Hey, I would have found Netflix on my own,” Louis says sleepily. All his blowjob-energy seems to have been sucked out of him when Harry’s come was sucked in. “I’m proper Human. I do my own taxes.”

I do our taxes. And I know you’re still capitalizing human in your head.”

“You capitalize your name,” Louis says sleepily, which is just nonsensical enough to mean that he’s falling back asleep.

“Niall and Josh are so cute,” Harry muses. “Wonder who set them up...”

Louis’ eyes fly open. “I’m going to kill you.”

“Hmmm, was it the person who tried to match up his own soulmate with someone else?” Harry taps his lips consideringly. “Or was it, in fact, that very same soulmate of his who said, ‘Hey, Niall and Josh would be cute together’?”

“I’ll let you eat me out tonight if you stop talking.”

“Okay, first of all, that’s happening anyway, and second of all, I was in the middle of something. So what did the newly-human one say to that? I think it was, ‘Harry, please, leave the matchmaking to a professiona’ - ”

He’s cut off by a pillow being chucked at his head. “I hate you,” Louis mumbles, but he’s smiling. “Wake me when the pancakes ready.”

He slings his arm over the pillow to his left and closes his eyes again. Harry can’t resist the flutter he feels at the familiar sight of the compass, corresponding to his own tattoo of a ship.

It’s a thing they kept doing, after Louis got the dagger; a compass for his ship, quotation marks for his quote, birds for his birdcage. At first it was just a way to feel close to each other, if Harry was away performing while Louis was at home snarking at customers, but now it’s more than that. When Harry sees those tattoos on Louis, it’s like a thread between the two of them, a constant reminder that they're each other’s rose and dagger.

“Hey,” Harry says, crawling back in bed and kissing Louis on the nose. He scrunches his face up, and it’s so adorable that Harry’s heart twists with all the affection it contains. “Love you.”

Harry doesn’t care how many times they say it, he’ll never tire of the way Louis glows when he hears it. He’s glowing now, all soft and sweet with his eyes closed. “Love you,” he murmurs back.

Harry goes off to make him his pancakes, because there’s literally nothing he won’t do for this boy. He sings a little while he does it, which is only fair, since singing is his job - specifically, singing songs he wrote about Louis, like the one that even his fans have realized is about waking up next to him with a stiffy.

 

See, it’s like this. Louis likes to think he’s the expert on destiny, but it’s a pretty simple concept. It doesn’t matter to Harry that they came from different ends of the universe’s spectrum, and it doesn’t matter that they weren’t even the same species at first. What matters is that they met, because that was going to happen no matter what, in any lifetime. In this one, they met with Louis as a cupid. In another, maybe they would have met at a bar, or a party, or a concert, or a fucking reality show.

Either way, Harry knows that he and Louis are meant to be, tied together with the kind of string crafted by the stars. The kind of string that doesn’t break, no matter what the pressure.

Either way, Harry knows that Louis would have always been his destiny.