Actions

Work Header

fire for a heart

Work Text:

 

FIRE FOR A HEART

It has been far, far too long since Harry’s last had sex. The semi he’s sporting just from a bit of grinding against a few strangers tonight makes that obnoxiously apparent, but if that weren’t enough, the fact that he’s literally willing to take anyone home at this point, regardless of their appearance or personality or apparently even gender, really drives that point home. He’s in the middle of reluctantly contemplating a pink-haired girl who’s been eyeing him all night when he finally gets a new dancing partner, replacing the one who had been drunkenly leaning and wiggling against him for the past two songs like a limp noodle. Harry had been too polite to shoo him away.

This new boy is anything but limp, domineering Harry from the get-go with firm hands on his hips and waist and his front just teasingly grazing Harry’s backside. Harry shifts further away from the drunkard still swaying in front of him and pushes back into the new touch, delighting in the firm body pressed against his and trying to settle into a good position in which he can grind his arse back against the man’s crotch.

Warm breath stutters over the nape of his neck where his long hair has been pulled away into a bun. He’s curious about what the man looks like, but he’s enjoying the feeling of pressure against his bum too much to pull away just yet. Instead, he reaches one of his arms back to grasp the back of the man’s neck and pull him a bit closer to the exposed curve of Harry’s neck. Soft hair brushes against Harry’s fingers and he slides them up into the feathery strands just as smooth lips brush over his skin.

Harry tilts his head to provide the stranger easier access to his neck, taking a couple minutes to bask in the feeling of this man mouthing hotly at his throat before he finally decides to turn around in the man’s arms, coming face-to-face with him for the first time. And damn . Harry is pleasantly surprised to find that his stranger is actually rather gorgeous. Bright blue eyes, soft fringe, sun-kissed skin, and a jaw covered in scruffy stubble that Harry wouldn’t mind scraping along his inner thighs.

Harry considers himself very lucky that someone so pretty appears to be very into him. Maybe if he’s lucky, he’ll be able to convince the man to take him home.

“Hi, love,” the man says, having to speak a bit loudly to be heard over the music. His grin leaves a warm feeling in Harry’s belly. “I’m Louis.”

Harry returns Louis’s grin with an equally charming smile (or at least he hopes so). He circles his arms around his neck, shuffling closer until the pointed toes of his black chelsea boots nudge against Louis’s shoes. Their bodies are pressed intimately close together, close enough that Harry can feel Louis’s thighs flex when he shifts and Louis can probably feel Harry’s cock jump in his jeans when he digs his fingertips into the soft dough of Harry’s hips more firmly, blunt nails scratching gently. “My name’s Harry,” he answers, figuring it’s only polite.

“You have a wonderful arse, Harry,” Louis tells him solemnly, mirth gleaming in his eyes. His pretty, pretty eyes.

Alcohol sloshing in his stomach, Harry giggles at the compliment that he’d consider inappropriate in almost any other context. “Why, thank you, Louis. You have a very lovely face.”

“So kind, Curly,” Louis says with another sharp grin. His grip is solid on Harry’s lower body, but his feet seem a bit unsteady, body swaying almost in tune to the rhythm of Harry’s heartbeat. His eyes are glassy, shining like cloudy blue marbles. He’s clearly drunk, but he has a pretty smile and soft hair and a nice body. He’ll definitely do.

“Are you taking me home, Mr. Louis?” Harry asks through his fading giggles, clutching at Louis’s shoulders with a hopeful look on his face.

“Tomlinson,” Louis says.

“What?” Harry asks, his brain too muddled to understand. Confusion wrinkles his brow, but when Louis starts pulling him through the throng of warm bodies and towards the exit, he promptly forgets it as excitement washes over him at the prospect of getting fucked by a cute boy.

“Not important,” Louis dismisses. He stops them by the door when they’re no longer pressed in by sweaty people on all sides. “D’you want me to take you home?”

“Yes, yes,” Harry rushes out, growing more impatient to get fucked the longer he stares at Louis’s face. Not to mention his damn hands  still clutching at his waist. Not really helping, Louis.

Louis drags Harry out of the club after they each grab their coats, the cool crisp air smacking them in the face, though it does nothing to sober Harry up. They stumble across the pavement to stand by the kerb where Louis flails his arms to hail a cab. By the time one rounds the corner and actually pulls to a stop for them (Harry’s a bit surprised, he’s only ever called ahead for cabs, but maybe Louis is just magic), Harry is clinging to Louis’s neck and nuzzling at his jaw, mumbling nonsensical praise for Louis’s eyelashes.

They slip into the back of the cab and Harry rattles off his address to the driver, waiting until the car is in motion before he swings his leg over to straddle Louis. Right away, their mouths find each other messily in the dim backseat, slick and soft and warm. He nips at Louis’s lower lip, flicking his tongue soothingly over the pink skin before licking into his mouth a moment later. The driver must hear the obscene noises and whimpers coming from behind him, but he graciously remains silent until they arrive.

When they pull away from each other and the driver requests payment, Harry peers down at Louis expectantly, mostly since Louis was the one who said he wanted to take Harry home in the first place. It’s only polite for him to pay, Harry thinks.

Louis frantically pats down his pockets, small hands digging into each one and repeatedly coming up empty. He offers an apologetic grimace to Harry. “Fuck, m’sorry, babe, I think I forgot my wallet at the club. Shit.”

Great way to start their night of sexy festivities. Harry pouts on the inside. On the outside, he waves it off and digs inside his own wallet (tucked safely away in his coat pocket - take notes, Louis) for a couple notes to pass over to the driver. Being the polite man he is, Harry asks if Louis wants to go back to get it, but Louis taps out a quick text on his phone instead and says he’ll have his friend get it for him since he was still there.

They get out of the car a little less than gracefully, Harry leading Louis this time as he pulls him by the hand into his building and up the stairs to his flat. To his dismay, Louis starts getting winded by the second flight of stairs. Harry lives on the eighth floor.

“Are you okay?” he asks, concerned.

Louis wheezes a bit with his hands braced on his knees. After a moment to catch his breath, he straightens up. “Yeah, yeah, m’fine. Just - I recently got a cast off me ankle and haven’t done any actual exercise in like, four months?”

Harry suppresses the laugh that threatens to slip out. “That’s unfortunate,” he laments, trying to sound somber. “I would offer to carry you, but I have a bad back and also struggle to walk okay when I’m sober, let alone drunk. It would end in disaster.”

“It’s okay, don’t worry about me.” Louis waves away his words, starting to trudge up the next flight of stairs.

Every time they reach a new level, Louis takes to asking Harry (increasingly breathlessly) if this is his floor. It stops being endearing by the sixth floor.

Finally, finally , they reach Harry’s floor, a pink-faced Louis following Harry to his door and leaning against the wall as he unlocks it. His breaths come and go in heavy huffs, gradually recovering from the brief stint of exercise while he trails behind Harry into the flat.

“Sorry,” he murmurs, clearly embarrassed. His eyelashes are lowered almost shyly, cheeks remaining pink even as he stops breathing hard.

Now Harry feels endeared. “S’okay,” he slurs a little. Stumbling a little on his way through the flat, he contemplates offering a cuppa to be polite, but he doesn’t trust himself to safely navigate his kitchen at his level of intoxication. He makes a vague gesture to indicate that he’s heading to the bedroom and Louis should follow him. By the sound of footsteps behind him, he thinks he got the message across.

He flings the bedroom door open and ushers Louis inside, flopping immediately onto the bed and taking Louis down with him with a hand gripping the fabric of his shirt. Almost immediately, he undoes his trousers and tries to pry them off his legs, flailing and wriggling like a distressed worm to get out of the damn things. He means to be proactive in his attempt to undress, to hopefully get the ball rolling here, but instead, his wild motion results in his elbow smacking Louis in the face – hard. The blue-eyed man yelps a bit, one hand flying up to cover his cheek while the other holds his body up above Harry’s.

“Oh, fuck!” Harry gasps, mortified by his own blunder. “Fuck, I’m so sorry, I’m so clumsy, sorry.” His hands flutter about uselessly, wanting to help but not wanting to make it worse.

Louis winces, thumb rubbing gently at what must be a sore cheekbone. Judging by the vague ache in Harry’s elbow, the impact must have hurt like a bitch. He worries he might have just severely injured his one-night stand. “I’ll be okay. Might bruise, but,” Louis trails off, seeming to lose his train of thought. His shiny blue eyes are fixed firmly on Harry’s, his bicep flexing with the effort of holding himself above Harry, and the more Harry stares back at the gorgeous man hovering over him, the more aroused he feels himself become again.

They kiss again. It happens suddenly; one moment, there’s a gap between their mouths filled only with warm air, and the next moment, there’s not. It’s hot and fast, tongues a bit clumsy, and just enthusiastic enough on both sides to make up for it.

Soon after, they make quick work of their clothes, Harry finally succeeding in removing his bottoms, until it’s just flushed skin and slick tongues and the little packages of condoms and lube that Harry has now retrieved from the bedside table.

“So, um, who’s – y’know?” Louis does a vague, vulgar gesture to indicate his meaning.

“I mean. I like having cock up my bum, so,” Harry reasons, giving a little shrug. He honestly couldn’t care less at this point. He just needs an orgasm, like, yesterday.

The blush painting Louis’s cheeks deepens. “Right, okay.” Before anything else, he rips open one of the silver foil packages and gives himself a few good pumps before rolling a condom onto his cock.

His fingers are slick with lube and gentle when the nudge between his thighs and just stroke at his opening, thumb caressing the sensitive skin of his inner thigh almost tenderly. When he seems to feel Harry’s muscles relax more, he finally starts to nudge one finger in, slowly pumping it in and out until Harry loosens up. One finger turns into two, and before he knows it, Harry’s panting out a plea for a third.

Louis’s fingers falter just as he’s brushing a third finger against Harry’s hole.

Harry whines. “No, why’d you stop?” He even wiggles his hips a little to try to entice Louis into continuing.

“Um, could you - could you put your cat outside?”

Harry’s foggy brain doesn’t understand at first. “What?” he mutters breathlessly, cock leaking a little against his tummy. When he follows Louis’s gaze, he sees his fluffy brown tuxedo cat named Cinnamon. He’s sitting upright on the other bedside table, staring intently at the two of them in a compromising position.

“M’sorry, but it’s creeping me out,” Louis says, removing his fingers altogether and settling his wet fingers on Harry’s thigh instead.

“C’mon, just – just ignore him, he’ll get bored and go away eventually,” Harry whines, caring much more about the fact that his hole is now empty than his cat watching them about to fuck.

“I can’t, s’too weird,” Louis mumbles, looking thoroughly unsettled as Cinnamon abruptly crosses onto the bed and approaches them curiously. “Okay, nope, no.” To Harry’s dismay, Louis scoots away from Harry entirely and clambers off the bed. He carefully picks up Cinnamon around the armpits, the cat meowing plaintively but not making any move to escape his hold. Harry’s a bit surprised by this, considering Cinnamon tends to passionately hate everyone but Harry and his sister Gemma. Still, Louis is touching Harry’s cat with lube-slick fingers that were literally just inside Harry’s arse. Cinnamon is being touched by lubey arse fingers . Harry is a little distraught over this.

Louis crosses the room on unsteady legs, setting Harry’s cat down in the hallway before firmly closing the door. When he returns to the bed and rejoins Harry atop the sheets, Harry already has one hand pumping his cock and the other between his thighs, finishing the prep for Louis.

Louis starts to move above Harry again, but Harry’s hands jerk away from his own body and push down on Louis’s chest instead, flattening him to the mattress. “How about…” He rearranges himself so he’s sitting comfortably atop Louis’s groin, knees pressed against Louis’s sides and his arse grinding slowly over his erection. “Good?” he asks, just to be polite. Louis’s furious nodding is enough of an answer, blue eyes wide and flitting over every inch of Harry’s naked body like he can’t get enough of it. Harry preens.

It’s a bit of a stretch when he grips Louis’s cock and starts to sink down on it, but he adjusts quickly, hips rocking back and forth on the intrusion until he loosens up around Louis. Once he’s comfortable, he starts really getting into it, his body bouncing up and down with an unfortunate lack of finesse. Who can blame him, though – he can still feel the alcohol sloshing around in his belly, making everything a bit sluggish and unclear and… Queasy?

Oh, fuck.

He waits for the nausea to pass, trying to keep bouncing at the same pace so Louis won’t suspect anything is amiss, but it actually just gets worse and worse, his stomach screaming out for a toilet or a trash can or anything , fucking anything.

Abruptly, a whole new wave of nausea washes over him, stronger than what he was already feeling and taking him by surprise. Louis’s moans cease when Harry stops rocking, a hand flying up to cover his mouth, hoping he won’t actually

He does actually. All over the floor, in fact. At least it wasn’t all over Louis.

Needless to say, that signals the deaths of both of their erections, killing the mood far more than a peeping tom-cat or an elbow to the face ever could.

There’s a sinking feeling in Harry’s gut as he sees Louis out, watching the disgruntled man leave with disappointment clear in his expression. It’s the kind of feeling he gets when he knows something good could have happened if only the situation was different. Like when he knew he could have aced that test if only he hadn’t been riddled with insomnia the night before and been dead-tired the day of, or when he knew he could have had a pleasant conversation with someone instead of arguing if only something hadn’t already put him in a bad mood. It’s lost opportunity, wasted potential.

Maybe if Harry had met Louis in another setting with better circumstances, they could have been something good. Something great.

Instead, he curls up with his disgruntled cat in bed and texts his mum to ask how to wash the smell of vomit out of carpet.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

The universe is out to get Harry. Truly, he believes this with every fibre of his being. He’s staring the proof right in the face.

It’s only 8:06 on a Monday morning and Harry already wants to curl up in a ball, hide out in his bed, and maybe get sucked in by a black hole. Instead, he is starting his first week at his new job at a clothing company’s headquarters and is immediately faced with the sight of his one-night stand from Saturday. There’s no mistaking him either. Cornflower blue eyes, a hint of stubble, and feathery hair that’s just orderly enough to look artfully messy. If that wasn’t enough, then the equally startled look on his face would definitely be. Harry winced when he first noticed the faint shadow of a bruise, likely hidden by a layer of concealer, stretched over a patch of Louis’s cheekbone. Oops.

Niall Horan, the head of the marketing department who is bubbly enough to be bordering on inappropriate, claps them both on the shoulders. “I think you two will get on like a house on fire, I just feel it,” he insists, completely oblivious to their inner turmoil as they continue to gape at each other. “You’ll be seeing quite a lot of each other, after all.”

Apparently, since Louis has been here for a while and knows his way around, he’s been appointed to show Harry the ropes and be a personal advisor of sorts for the first two months of Harry’s work here. Harry’s been hired into the company’s marketing department, which is a wonderful job opportunity for him and one he’s been pining over for the past year and a half, but he promptly begins reconsidering, eyes boring into critical blue ones. Maybe McDonald’s is still hiring. (Who is he kidding, McDonald’s is always hiring.)

“Fantastic,” Louis mutters, pasting on a plastic smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Great to meet you - Harry, was it?”

“Styles,” Harry adds. “Harry Styles.”

Niall seems to miss the eyeroll that Louis does at his name, but Harry sure doesn’t. Fine, if he wants to be that way, then Harry can be childish and bitter too. He’s still frustrated over the shit show that went down on Saturday night, so it’s not too difficult to conjure up feelings of annoyance towards the man in front of him.

“So how long have you been working here, Lewis ?” he inquires, making his eyes big and innocent. He’s the master of charming people into letting him act like a nuisance. He has it down to an art. Louis’s eyes narrow, clearly seeing through it, but Niall is still just grinning obliviously.

“It’s Louis , actually,” the man corrects, derision overriding whatever false cheer he’d been projecting before.

“Lou here has been working with us for, what is it now, three years?” Niall speaks over him, ignoring the uncomfortable exchange. He throws an arm around Louis’s shoulders, looking at him like Louis single-handedly hung the moon and the stars.

“Three, going on four,” Louis says.

“Right, right. Anyway,” Niall continues. “It was great introducing you lads. I’ve got to get back to my office, got some sales charts to look over, but if you need anything, I’m just a phone call away. Don’t ever come into my office unless I tell you to.” He tells Harry the last part with the utmost seriousness, then returns to his bubbly self. “Alright, have a good first day, Harry!”

The two of them watch him practically skip down the hall and into an office marked with his nameplate, shutting the door behind him. A second later, they can hear the click of a lock. Well then.

“We’re all pretty sure he spends like, an hour every day at work sexting with his girlfriend, Barbara, and doesn’t like being interrupted in the middle of it,” Louis mumbles, staring at the closed door. “Don’t blame him, though, she’s pretty hot.”

“I thought you were gay,” Harry says dumbly.

Louis looks at Harry again, his expression closer to a sneer than anything else. “After the other night, I think I may have been turned off from men altogether. Look what you’ve done to me,” he deadpans.

“What the hell is your problem?” Harry demands, hands on his hips. He’s vaguely aware of the fact that they’re still just at the end of a corridor in a busy office floor, people sitting at cubicles and desks only a couple metres away from them. A few of them glance up at the sound of Harry’s tone.

“Are you really asking that?” Louis returns quietly, glaring at Harry. “You threw up on me in the middle of sex . What kind of person does that?”

“A very drunk person. And I did not throw up on  you, I did it next to you .”

“Like that makes it so much better.”

“It does, actually,” Harry protests. Then he decides to try to be mean. Things never turn out well when Harry tries to be mean. He’s going for it anyway. “Although if I had  thrown up because of you, could you really blame me? Someone who barely has enough stamina and strength to survive a couple flights of stairs is bound to have poor performance.” It’s probably a horrible comeback. Harry never claimed to be smooth. Or clever. Or anything, really. At least he’s trying.

It must work to some degree because Louis sputters indignantly in response. “Excuse me, I had a valid excuse! And don’t even talk about poor performance, you couldn’t even take off your clothes without injuring your partner!”

Harry glowers at the word partner . That’s a word reserved only for people he enjoys getting off with. What he experienced the other night was potentially the worst, most mortifying night of his life. Louis is more of a bad dream than a partner .

“Um, Louis?”

Both of them jerk away from where they’d apparently been leaning into each other, grimaces still stuck on their faces as they simultaneously turn to the person who’s kindly interrupted them. It’s an attractive man with short brown hair and big brown eyes that look a bit distraught at having approached them at an inopportune time.

“What is it, Liam?” Louis asks, his expression softening and some of the tension fading from his posture.

“Mr. Watson from the television company is on the phone for you,” Liam says dutifully. “I believe he wants to discuss the new advertisement.”

“Okay, I’ll be over in a sec,” Louis sighs, running a hand over his face. He turns back to Harry with a steely look on his face. “Come on, Harry, I’ll show you your new workspace.”

Harry silently follows Louis as he weaves between the rows of cubicles and desks, all personalised and decorated differently. It feels like a nice work environment, laidback while still being productive, and Harry thinks that if it weren’t for the man leading him across the floor, he’d probably absolutely love it here.

That kind of thinking isn’t going to get him anywhere, though. He can still love this place, even if working here means he’ll have to put up with some bitter failed one-night stand.

He can totally do this.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

Harry loves  his team. Like, he would marry all of them if he could.

Okay, maybe not that Dan Wool-something fellow, he seems like a giant prick. But according to the small bit of gossip he’s already heard, he’s probably getting fired soon, so it’s totally fine.

Jesy is intelligent and sassy in a way that reminds Harry so strongly of his sister Gemma, so he latches onto her pretty quickly. She’s mainly in charge of managing online advertising along with Cara, whom Harry also adores already. She’s goofy and gorgeous and just lovely. Nick is the quickest to laugh at Harry’s terrible jokes, so he’s immediately on Harry’s good side. Sophia is the kind of woman Harry would probably want to marry if he were attracted to women, though he thinks that she’s engaged to the man he met earlier, Liam. Jade, Zayn, and George seem fantastic as well. He’s still learning the other few people’s names, but everyone just seems lovely and sweet and so likeable that Harry is quickly forgetting all about the man he argued with only a couple hours ago.

He’s been given a few simple tasks to complete today, smaller things to get him off to a smooth start here, and everything seems to be going beautifully so far. It’s noon, so most people are heading off for their lunch breaks, but Harry insists on staying in his little cubicle, which he’s already mentally decorating in his head. Maybe some Polaroids pinned to the corkboard, maybe one of those cute cat-shaped tape dispensers, one of those cups of pens that look like grass—

“Harold, have you finished the bit of market research you were assigned?” a voice startles him.

His fingers stutter on his laptop, accidentally adding a bit of keyboard smash to the report he was writing up. He hits backspace a few times and sighs as he answers Louis. “Yup, printed it out all nice and pretty too.” He grabs the stapled papers on the corner of his desk and holds it over his shoulder until Louis takes it.

He can hear the sound of shuffling paper for a few minutes as he continues typing on his laptop. “Decent work,” Louis finally says.

“Just decent?” Harry repeats, slightly affronted. He finally turns his head to look up at Louis, suppressing any reaction when he sees his appearance. He’s ditched the blazer he had on earlier and has rolled up the sleeves of his work shirt, exposing tattooed forearms. He looks professional and… sexy, though it pains Harry to admit it. He had that body tangled with his only a couple nights ago and he fucked it up massively. Well, at least he wasn’t the only one fucking up that night.

“I worked very hard on that,” Harry continues, annoyed by Louis’s look of indifference. “That research is perfect.” Okay, maybe he’s getting a little ahead of himself, but still.

Louis rolls his eyes, then his expression turns exaggeratedly patronising. “It’s okay, kid, you’re new. Hopefully you’ll get better with time.” He even pats him on the shoulder before walking away with the papers.

Harry does not  stare at his bum as he leaves.

(Except he totally does.)

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

The good news is that by the time Louis is no longer required to breathe down Harry’s neck at work everyday, Harry has definitely gotten the hang of things in the office. He and his team run like a well-oiled machine and he’s found friends in most of his coworkers, hanging out with them outside of work and getting to know them all better.

The bad news is that literally no one else seems to agree that Louis is a dick. Apparently, they all love him and think he’s fantastic. Which means he only acts like a dick to Harry. Except for Nick. He and Louis seem to have some sort of weird rivalry thing going on, so Nick is one of the only ones Harry can rant to about how frustrating Louis is.

They do all, however, seem to think that the root of Harry and Louis’s issues is unresolved sexual tension. Harry’s never had so many people be so interested and invested in his sex life, but several of his new friends already know by now what exactly happened between them two months ago. Unfortunately, all of them refuse to take sides, agreeing that they just antagonise each other to express the passion that they didn’t get to share that night through successful fucking (Cara’s words, not his). Apparently, hate and love are very easily confused and interchanged. He thinks it’s all a crock of shit, even though he does often find himself wavering between wanting to rip Louis’s head off and wanting to rip Louis’s clothes off. Louis can be rather enticing when he’s aggravated.

A few of them are gathered around a round table today, working on a project together in a small group as the others finish up their own tasks in their cubicles. Jesy is clicking away on her purple-clad MacBook, adding numbers to their spreadsheet while Cara reads off of some research reports for her. Nick is calculating the expenses of their marketing project, tapping away on his iPhone and typing it all down in a document. Harry is… Well, Harry is supposed  to be typing up a correspondence on his company-provided email, but instead, he is griping over Louis’s latest offense.

“Seriously, you guys just need to fuck it out,” Jesy says, manicured nails clacking against the keys.

“That’s really not going to solve it, Jes,” Harry insists. “In fact, it might even make it worse. Do you not remember what happened last time we tried to do that?”

“Yeah, yeah, you barfed all over the place, big deal,” Cara says offhandedly. “Next time, just don’t empty your stomach on him mid-fuck.”

“I didn’t do it on --you know what, never mind,” Harry deflates. “There’s not going to be a next time. I’m pretty sure he’s disgusted by me or something.”

His tone must be worse than he intended because something in his voice makes all three of them pause their work and look up at him with sympathetic looks. Nick even puts his arm around Harry’s shoulders, ruffling his hair comfortingly.

“Hey, none of that,” Jesy scolds. “He’d be lucky to get a second chance with you again.”

“I don’t think anybody could be disgusted by your naked body,” Cara adds. “Except maybe lesbians. I’m bi, so I wouldn’t know. I mean, I’d happily lick chocolate off your abs, y’know?”

“How did you go from comforting him to propositioning him?” Nick wonders. “I want to know how your brain works.”

“Maybe you should try going on a date,” Jesy suggests, excitement perking up her voice.

“Ooh,” Nick intones.

“That is the worst idea you’ve ever had, Jesy,” Harry says.

“No, no, listen, it’s brilliant,” Jesy protests. “We’ll go out as a group, okay, and invite Louis along, maybe Liam too, and then you guys can get to know each other, maybe take him home—”

“You had me until that last part.”

“Please, just make an effort? I hate seeing you guys bicker all the time, as amusing as it is.”

There’s a long pause as he deliberates, eyes flitting contemplatively between each of his coworkers. Finally, he sighs in defeat. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

The others cheer loudly.

Peter from advertising shushes them aggressively from his cubicle nearby. Snickering, they get back to work and Harry tries not to dwell too much on what exactly he’s agreed to for the rest of the day. He fails spectacularly, but it was worth trying.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

By the time Saturday rolls around, Harry is a mess of nerves and uncertainty. He’d avoided Louis successfully since the day he’d agreed to this plan, but he’d been informed by Jesy that she’d set up the plans for tonight and they’d all be getting together at some pub called On The Rocks. Their group for tonight will consist of Jesy, Cara, Nick, Sophia, Liam, Niall, and Louis. George couldn’t make it as he had relatives visiting this weekend, Zayn had to help a friend with moving, and Jade was out of town to meet with a company in Glasgow. It’ll be weird for Harry to see Louis outside of the office tonight, considering the last time that happened, he had Louis’s cock in his bum.

After an hour of deliberating and changing outfits, Harry has finally settled on a sheer black top and the skintight white jeans that makes his lower body look sensational. Just as he’s finished buttoning the shirt up past his butterfly tattoo, there’s a knock on his door that echoes throughout the flat. Startling, it takes a moment for him to remember that Sophia had said she’d pick him up on the way. Assuming it’s her, he grabs his phone and texts her that he’ll be out in a second, shoving his feet into his gold boots and giving his hair one last check in the vanity mirror.

When he opens the door, he’s expecting to be faced with Sophia and is instead met with a slightly apprehensive Liam.

He visibly brightens at the sight of Harry. “Hi, mate, how are you?”

“M’good, Liam, how are you?” Harry answers, ever polite. “Are you picking me up then?”

“Oh, no, Sophia is still driving us,” he assures him. “Didn’t make any sense for us to take separate cars when we, y’know, live together.”

“Oh, right, makes sense,” Harry says agreeably, cursing himself for always forgetting that they’re a couple. He rarely sees Liam outside of work (or even inside work, Liam being the dedicated, hard-working assistant to Louis that he is). Sophia rarely ever talks about her personal life at work, the epitome of professionalism, so Harry often forgets that they actually live in each other’s pockets, according to Instagram and some various stories the others have shared.

“We picked Louis up on the way too,” Liam adds as they begin walking downstairs. He sounds a bit reluctant to say it, getting it all out in one quick mumble.

Harry bristles slightly at hearing his name, but otherwise tries not to react. He hums in acknowledgement.

When they exit the building, making small talk, and approach Sophia’s car idling by the pavement, Harry takes a slow, deep breath to brace himself for interaction with Louis. Liam is riding shotgun (obviously, it’s his girlfriend’s car), so that leaves Harry in the backseat with Louis. Sophia and Harry greet each other happily while Louis stays silent in his seat, staring resolutely out the window. Well, fine then. Harry doesn’t care anyway. Not even a little bit.

The only sound for the first few minutes of the car ride is the radio playing Adele’s new song at a low volume, tense silence weighing down on the atmosphere. Finally, though, after a short internal debate, Harry sighs and speaks up. “Soph, could you turn the volume up? I love this song.”

Sophia startles a little, fingers clenching on the wheel for a second before she relaxes and quickly spins the dial. The din from the radio is now loud enough to muffle Harry’s voice to the two in the front when he turns to Louis and leans in slightly to speak.

“Listen, can we call a truce for tonight?” he starts, meeting Louis’s inquisitive eyes when he turns to look at Harry. God, they’re so blue. It’s nice having those eyes fixed on Harry without resentment gleaming in them for once.

Harry continues, “We’ll be out with friends and I want to have a good time and I’m sure you do too. I don’t want to make things difficult or awkward for everyone, so can we just - can we agree to at least try to get along tonight?”

Louis’s eyebrows scrunch together, his expression contemplative. Finally, he murmurs, “Alright,” his voice soft and expressing some emotion Harry can’t discern. “Truce.”

Harry exhales heavily, relief flooding his body. It’s not that he doubted Louis would agree, it’s just… Okay, a small part of him did doubt that Louis would agree. Still, he’s happy that he did.

The sad part is that Harry knows every detail of what happened between them, knows why their relationship is so rocky and disdainful, but he honestly couldn’t rationalise it if someone asked him point-blank. At least not reasonably.

At the root of the problem, it’s a matter of simple frustration for Harry. He thinks it might have more to do with pride on Louis’s part. In all honesty, his work mates weren’t too far off the mark with their assumptions; it just figures that the most beautiful man Harry’s ever met agrees to spend the night with him and it gets completely fucked up. Harry blames himself for ruining it, for his puke-fest being the last straw, but it’s easier to project his frustration onto Louis.

Plus, he is actually genuinely annoyed with Louis, to be fair. The man’s been acting like a total twat to him since day one and never fails to make Harry’s blood boil with mentions of their terrible night together. Still, while Louis was technically the one to start their mini feud, he’s instigated an almost equal amount of petty arguments or bickering as Louis has, so he can’t just pin all the blame for their hostile relationship on Louis when he perpetuates it nearly just as much. He feels like a bit of a hypocrite for always wondering why Louis does feel so negatively towards him, especially since Harry would have been willing to put it in the past on day one if Louis had been inclined to do so as well, while he’s technically been projecting the exact same negativity towards Louis. Honestly, he just wants it to stop. If all the other people at work love Louis and attest to his kindness, then surely Harry would want to be friends with him if they could push their differences aside.

Now, Louis seems to have relaxed a little, body not quite as tense as before. He’s giving Harry this weird look that Harry can’t read, peering over at him for long enough that Harry can feel himself start to flush and fidget. Louis, seeming to notice, averts his eyes to the front seat, immediately demanding that the volume be turned back down now that a shitty song is playing.

Harry sits quietly as Louis initiates a round of banter with Liam, Sophia huffing out a laugh at them every now and then. It’s going to be a long night.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

Harry’s onto drink five. Well, he thinks. His brain stopped cooperating around drink three, so he’s just guessing based on the number of drinks scattered around the large round table their group is sat at. Everyone’s had at least two, except for the DD’s (Sophia, Niall, and Nick), so their initial, slightly awkward chatter has escalated to loud discussions of anything that pops into their minds. Currently, Harry is having an in-depth conversation with Cara and Liam about whether cats are superior to dogs (Harry totally thinks they are).

He’s startled when Louis reaches around Liam to pat Harry on the shoulder clumsily. “Give it up, Harold, and face the facts: cats cannot be trusted and dogs have snouts.”

His argument is completely inane and irrelevant, but Harry can’t help but take the bait. “Excuse me, discrimination. What about pugs? Bulldogs?”

They’ve been doing this for the entire hour and a half they’ve been here, just dancing around each other and tossing around little bouts of banter every now and then.

“Yeah, Louis, don’t be a bigot,” Cara says, sounding completely serious.

“Okay, but have you seen hairless cats versus hairless dogs?” argues Liam, waving his half-full bottle of beer around like it’s helping him make his point. “Dogs without fur can still look like dogs, but cats without fur look like - like wrinkly rats.”

Harry gasps. “You take that back, Liam.”

“That is a bold-faced lie, Liam Payne, hairless dogs look just as fucked up.” Cara pulls up Safari on her iPhone, fingers tapping away at the keyboard and seemingly making numerous errors before she successfully pulls up an image on Google of a hairless dog, scrawny and spotted with fur sticking out from around its head like a wispy lion’s mane.

Harry snorts into his drink.

Abruptly, Liam leans onto Louis’s shoulder heavily, looking up at him with puppy dog eyes. “Lou, can we switch places?”

Louis glances over at Harry, expression unreadable again, before looking down at Liam. “Why?”

“Wanna sit next to my girlfriend,” Liam reasons, which makes sense, considering he keeps having to twist around Louis to talk to her every few minutes. It’d be easier for them to just switch. Except that means…

Six seconds later, Harry is sitting rigidly beside an inebriated Louis Tomlinson, starting to figure out just how loose and tactile Louis get when he’s drunk. Unfortunately, he’s exactly the same way, if not worse, so within minutes, they end up with their hands idly touching wrists, forearms, shoulders, legs , as they talk animatedly, inhibitions slipping away.

Even weirder, they’re not just idly chatting - they’re actually talking . As in having an actual conversation.

Harry listens avidly as Louis tells him about his family, the littlest twins and his sister’s pursuit of a career in cosmetics and how he misses his mother’s homemade snickerdoodle cookies. Harry returns the favour, trying not to think too hard about how close they’re gravitating towards each other as the next hour passes by. He talks and talks and talks about Gemma in grad school, his mum’s veggie garden, the family cat. They talk until their throats run a bit ragged, Harry taking a sip of his alcoholic beverage before realising that alcohol doesn’t exactly soothe a sore throat.

Everyone’s still engrossed in their own conversations when Harry finally breaks away from his little bubble with Louis, realising with a jolt how high his hand had been on Louis’s leg as he pulls it away and clambers out of his chair. Louis watches him with thinly-veiled interest, eyes cloudy with how much alcohol he’s consumed so far, steadily drinking as they’d been talking.

“Gonna get some water,” Harry offers as explanation. He hesitates. “Come with me?”

Louis gets up and follows without any hesitation.

The truce is going so, so well, so much better than Harry ever dared to hope for. When they push their animosity over the one-night stand aside, they seem to get along beautifully, conversation flowing between them as easily as breathing. Admittedly, the large amount of alcohol in their veins probably has a lot to do with it. Harry starts having hope that they can continue this truce into the workplace, put the past behind them for good and start fresh.

It’s when they’re at the bar, the bartender quickly pouring them glasses of ice water, that things start to be a bit… off.

Louis practically drapes himself over Harry’s back, body heavy and solid and warm against his. His arms slip around Harry’s waist, his front pressed snugly against Harry’s backside, but it’s possibly the most innocent embrace Harry’s ever been in with another man before. He revels in the heat of another body, wondering if it would be inappropriate to get Louis drunk every day so that he can have this all the time.

Then the words start pouring out of Louis’s mouth.

“You’re so pretty, Harry, so so pretty,” he starts off, and okay, Harry can handle being called pretty, that’s fine. Stronger men than Louis have started waxing poetic about Harry’s face with even less alcohol in their systems. It’s totally fine.

It gets worse.

“You’ve got - got this cute little bum, all peachy and cute, it’s so cute,” he rambles. “I wish I could just bite it. And your nipples, oh my god, you could cut diamonds  with your nipples.” As if to emphasise, he reaches up and gently tweaks one of them, immediately dragging a startled whimper out of Harry. The bartender quirks his eyebrow at them as he slides over their glasses, moving on to other customers.

“Louis,” Harry says, but that’s all he manages. He doesn’t really know what to say, to be honest; he’s torn. His brain tells him that going down this road is a bad idea, but his dick argues otherwise, slowly fattening up in his tight jeans.

“You smell so good here,” Louis murmurs against the nape of Harry’s neck, like it’s a precious secret. His nose is nuzzled against that spot behind Harry’s ear, lips brushing his skin. “Y’know, I shouldn’t have left you.”

That jolts Harry out of his stupor a bit, suddenly feeling very alert. “What?”

“I shouldn’t have left you that night,” Louis repeats dutifully, oblivious to Harry’s inner turmoil.

They should probably move away from the bar. There are other customers who are starting to eye them in annoyance, just taking up space by the bar and ignoring their drinks. Harry doesn’t move an inch.

“It was a mistake,” Louis continues, head simply dropping to Harry’s shoulder and resting there. His arms squeeze gently around Harry’s middle. “It doesn’t matter how either of us fucked up, I shouldn’t have just - like, given up on you. Won’t. Won’t again.” He breathes it into the fabric of Harry’s shirt like a promise. It feels like one.

Just as Harry is trying to unscramble his thoughts and construct a response, he’s suddenly faced with the absence of Louis’s warmth against his back. He whirls around, cheeks surely flaming right now, and frowns deeply at Niall, who currently has his hands firmly planted on Louis’s shoulders and seems to be guiding him away from the bar. “Sorry, H, this one’s had too much to drink. I’m heading out now, so I’ll just take him off your hands for you, yeah?”

Harry opens his mouth to protest, but then he meets Louis’s glassy eyes and finds himself staying silent instead. This isn’t the kind of conversation Harry wishes to have while both of them are drunk off their arses. Louis whines at Niall that he wants to cuddle with Harry, that he has to talk to him, but Niall steadfastly ignores him and continues to lead him away. “See you at the office, Harry!” Niall says, his tone mostly cheery but with an undercurrent of anxiety.

Harry lets them go, brain still stuck on Louis murmuring, “ Won’t again .” He grabs one of the glasses of water, ice cubes now mostly melted, and leaves the other one to sweat on the bar. He really just needs this night to be over now.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

The most annoying part of going to work on Monday is not that it is in fact a Monday, Satan’s favourite day to torment innocent office-goers with new assignments and a harsh slap on the face of fresh paperwork to complete, but it is actually because Louis has apparently decided to return to his normal behaviour now that he’s sober again. Harry tries not to think too hard about the fact that Louis only seems to want him when he’s drunk, but it’s hard not to dwell on it.

They bickered for what felt like hours and was really only five minutes this morning in the break room, both brewing cups of tea to start off their days, and Harry can’t even remember what it was about an hour later.

“What the hell happened, Harry?” Zayn asks, popping over to Harry’s cubicle for a quiet interrogation. “Everyone told me that you guys were getting on like best mates the other night, but you’re acting like you still hate each other. I don’t get it.”

Harry sighs, drumming his pen against the report he’s been annotating on his desk. “I don’t know, Zayn, ask him. I was perfectly prepared to be civil towards him today, but it’s like he flips a switch whenever the two of us are sober and in the same room. I don’t know what to do.”

“How about talk to him?” Zayn says, giving Harry a remarkably condescending look. “I’m tired of your bullshit. Corner him at lunch and talk your shit out so we don’t have to put up with your weird mating ritual anymore. Please, for everyone’s sake.”

Harry scoffs indignantly, but can’t come up with anything to refute.

So.

Talking it is.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

Talking about one’s feelings with Louis Tomlinson is apparently much more difficult than Harry expected. Or maybe it’s just Harry. His palms are sweating, he can feel his heartbeat in his throat, and he worries that his nerves will get the best of him in the middle of talking and he’ll blurt out something embarrassing like how hot Louis looks in his suit today.

Still, he soldiers on. He’d cornered Louis in the cafeteria as Louis was heading over to one of the round tables with his mates sitting around, stopping him in his tracks with a beseeching look. “Can we talk?” he’d asked. Louis had looked wary, but had agreed, stopping by his intended destination to set his tray of shitty food down before following Harry out into the corridor.

Harry now leads Louis into the men’s restroom down the hall, the one farther away from the cafeteria in the hopes that it won’t be occupied. Thankfully, there’s just Bernard, one of the interns, finishing up at the sink. He leaves after a moment, giving the two men a polite nod in greeting, and then they’re alone together. Just in case, Harry locks the door, earning a weird look from Louis.

“Just want to make sure we don’t get interrupted,” Harry mumbles.

“What do you want then?” Louis asks. His brash words should offend Harry, but his tone doesn’t come off as unkind, weirdly enough. He sounds guarded, but not mean or antagonistic. It’s a start.

Harry decides to just go all in right away. “Why do you hate me so much?”

Okay, judging by Louis’s expression, that may have been too much too soon. Oh well.

“What? I don’t - I don’t hate  you, Harry.”

“It sure seems like you do,” Harry says. “You treat me like I’m gum on the bottom of your shoe, like I’m just a nuisance to you. I just want to know why. And how I can fix it. I know I often act the same way, but you were the one who initially began treating me like this, so I want to understand.”

Louis flushes, to Harry’s surprise. His eyes are downcast, expression once again unreadable. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs, voice quiet and a little vulnerable. “I don’t mean to treat you so badly. It just… Happens.”

“Okay, but why?” Harry persists. He leans against the outside of the wall separating two stalls, arms crossed.

Louis shifts a little bit farther away from him, leaning against one of the sinks across from him. Everything is quiet for a bit, the only sounds coming from the radiator and a leaky faucet, but eventually, Louis speaks. “I feel like a failure whenever I think of that night. I feel embarrassed and disappointed and a little sad. And I know I take it out on you when I’m honestly just frustrated with myself, so for that, I really am sorry, Harry.” He pauses briefly, reaching up to scratch at the back of his neck nervously. “I also want to apologise for the times I practically insulted your work here. You’re actually really great at your job, so… I’m sorry for implying otherwise.”

“I - I forgive you,” Harry says, feeling a little caught off guard with the genuine response he’s received. “Why do you  feel like a failure, though? You’re not the gross one who puked all over the floor and ruined everything,” Harry grumbles, not bothering to suppress the pout overtaking his features.

“Harry, a man literally threw up while having sex with me,” Louis elaborates. “It’s not exactly a confidence-booster. And I don’t know if you even noticed, but you weren’t even that hard, despite however aroused you might have felt. I’m sure it was probably the alcohol’s effects on your body, but… I felt so utterly unattractive, and then just frustrated that everything was going wrong when I wanted so badly for things to go right  with you. I just - I snapped and left. I know I shouldn’t have, but I did and I can’t take it back.”

“I don’t blame you, Louis,” Harry says, pushing off from the stall barrier and taking a step towards Louis, arms falling to his sides. “And I definitely don’t think of you as unattractive. Not during that night or any moment afterwards. Please don’t blame yourself for things not working out that night. It wasn’t your fault at all. We were both drunk messes. If I had drank, like, two less vodka cranberries that night, I promise you we would’ve had the best sex of our lives.”

Okay, that last part might have been unnecessary.

Louis’s blush deepens. He fidgets and clears his throat, still refusing to meet Harry’s eyes.

Harry shuffles forward to be closer, close enough that he can just barely feel that warmth again. He wants to be close, even closer, but he stays where he is. “Can we just… Can we start over, Louis? I think we could be really great friends if we could put that night aside for good.”

Louis finally meets his gaze, seeming a little startled by their proximity. He scans Harry’s face for a few moments, eventually slumping his shoulders and nodding. “Yeah. Yeah, okay. We can do that.”

Harry beams at him, dimple popping out and everything. “Hi, I’m Harry Styles. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He even holds his hand up for Louis to shake.

“Oh my God, you’re so lame,” Louis says, a grin slowly spreading across his face.

“What’s your name?” Harry asks pointedly, ignoring the comment.

Louis sighs in defeat, but it sounds almost fond. “Tomlinson. Louis Tomlinson.”

“Okay, Agent 007.” Harry snorts. He earns a light smack on the arm for that.

He giggles to himself for a moment, smile softening around the edges as he settles down. “I’m really glad you agreed. I think we’ll be really good friends.”

“Friends, right, yeah,” Louis murmurs, fingers gripping the edge of the sink on either side of his hips.

Harry peers over at Louis for several beats, trying to decipher his expression. If he didn’t know better, he’d say Louis looks almost… Defeated? That doesn’t make any sense, though, given the context. He just doesn’t know how to read Louis yet, he reasons. Maybe he will one day soon.

“Thank you,” is the last thing Harry says, taking one more step closer and ducking his head down before he can chicken out. He presses his lips to Louis’s cheek in a light peck, Louis’s fringe tickling Harry’s cheekbone.

The heat of Louis’s cheek under Harry’s lips is all he can think about for the rest of the day.

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

The problem with being friends with Louis Tomlinson is that being friends will probably never be enough for Harry. As the weeks pass and Harry gets to know Louis better, slowly breaking down walls and burrowing himself deeper into Louis’s life and vice versa, Harry finds himself wishing he’d just snogged Louis against the sink that day in the restroom. Maybe now he wouldn’t find himself where he is: the friend zone.

It’s just another fact of life now. The sky is blue, cats are the superior species, and Harry Styles has managed to friend-zone himself from his rapidly developing crush. He feels like a giddy teenager pining after a classmate again, constantly finding himself seeking Louis out at work just to tell him a funny story he heard and texting him just to ask how his day is going and sending him snapchats of random bits of his day. It’s been about two months now and their frenemy status has blossomed into full-blown best friend status, longer friendships be damned. As hostile as they’d been acting towards each other for the time Harry’s been working here so far, they actually get along beautifully and are more in tune with each other’s thoughts than Harry sometimes is with his own sister. It’s more than a little alarming.

Harry feels a bit like a leech, being so attached to Louis, but it seems to be mutual. Where Harry’s coworkers had previously complained about their disdainful behaviour, they now complain about their sickeningly cute friendship. Apparently, the whole sexual tension situation has only worsened. Oh well.

He doesn’t like admitting it, but with every day he spends getting closer to Louis, the more attached and smitten he becomes. And the harder it is to not remember what he looks like naked and aroused. It’s incredibly  hard (and unfortunately, so is Harry).

 

️❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

He’s not one-hundred-percent certain whose idea it was to throw the annual office holiday party at Harry’s place (actually, he’s pretty sure it had to do with a particularly not-sober bonding moment between Harry and Niall last month over pints and chicken wings), but he accepts the obligation without too much complaint. This past year has been far more enjoyable than Harry ever could have expected or hoped for, growing closer to his lovely co-workers than he ever was with his old schoolmates and succeeding at his job more than he initially believed he could. He’s accomplished so much in the time he’s been here and he’s finally feeling like he’s where he belongs, like he’s settled into the career he’s meant to have.

Of course, there’s also Louis. Lovely, lovely Louis.

Some days, it’s a struggle to remember why they were ever “enemies,” but then Louis will stretch and his shirt will ride up, or he’ll be wearing particularly form-fitting clothing that day, and Harry will get violent flashbacks of their failed one-night stand and have to stand behind something to hide his boner. He doesn’t think he’ll ever truly forget. He also doesn’t think he’ll ever actually get over his feelings for him. By now, they’ve developed far beyond an ordinary crush. Harry is enamoured with every little thing about Louis, every quirk and fact and secret he discovers about him. If he were a more foolish man, he might even say he’s in love with him. But he knows better than that. This isn’t some fairytale romcom; he can’t get the dream job, the dream friends, and  the dream guy. Life just isn’t that generous, he knows.

He’s been planning the holiday party for about a week and a half, not needing to do much because apparently they tend to be pretty low-key events, just little parties that people in various departments throw to celebrate the season. It’s mainly just the marketing department attending, but apparently, there may be some stragglers from other departments that Harry isn’t familiar with. It’s fine, though, he loves meeting new people. In spirit of the holidays: the more, the merrier.

The sad part about the holiday season is that Louis apparently likes to ask for the week of Christmas off, so he’s going to be gone for seven days as of the twenty-second. This is especially depressing for Harry because he’s not only going to be without Louis on Christmas, but he’s also going to be without him on Louis’s birthday .

He’s explained repeatedly to a sullen Harry that he always goes home to spend his birthday and Christmas with his family and he can’t cancel on them now or they’d skin him alive, but Harry still remains sullen.

It’s tragic.

This means, though, that the holiday party might be Harry’s last chance to be with Louis outside of work since it’s being held on the night of the twentieth. Which means this party has to be absolutely brilliant for Louis because Harry can’t be there with him to make his birthday fabulous. Harry accepts this challenge readily. (Actually, he’s been spending most of his free time stressing out over it, but who cares, really.)

His flat has been filled with friendly faces, festive decorations, and holiday cheer for the past forty minutes. Also lots of alcohol.

Apparently, George’s mate Jaymi is an excellent bartender, so Harry asked him to mix drinks for the night with the reward of giving him Nick’s number. Nick doesn’t exactly know about it, but Jaymi’s hot, so Harry doubts he’ll mind.

He’s been kissed on the cheek by almost all of his friends already because he stupidly thought that taping fake mistletoe to the doorframe of every room was a fantastic idea. It’s cliché as hell, that’s what it is, and all Harry gets out of painstakingly attaching all nine pieces of mistletoe around the flat is a giant smudge of lipstick prints on his cheek. Unfortunately for Harry, he’s mostly been the one answering the door for guests so far and six of his female coworkers had decided to arrive in a group, so he got smooched quite aggressively six times in a row in his own doorway.

Pouting down at his drink after Zayn has teased him for it, Harry decides to take matters into his own hands.

Justin Bieber’s rendition of Drummer Boy starts playing from Niall’s holiday playlist (he somehow convinced Harry to let him pick the tunes tonight) as Harry makes his way through his friends and towards the bathroom.

It’s unoccupied, thankfully, so he flips the light switch and sets his mojito down on the counter. Door left ajar, he grabs a pack of makeup wipes he keeps under the sink for days he wears concealer to cover up spots. Also a bit of lipstick every now and then, but no one needs to know his lips aren’t always so naturally rosy.

Movements slightly sluggish from the alcohol he’s already consumed from the first mojito he had while pregaming alone with his cat an hour ago, he gently wipes at the lipstick staining his cheek, a mottled stain of pinks and reds and one lone purple (Jesy, he thinks). He startles a bit when the door creaks open abruptly, Louis appearing in the doorway. Christmas music bleeds into the room.

“Oh, sorry, had to use the toilet,” Louis says, pointing out the obvious. He seems slightly tipsy right now, but not too far down the path to inebriation. Thank God for that. Unusual, often bad, things seem to happen when one or both of them are drunk around each other.

Unfortunately, it appears to only take the alcohol content of a single mojito to override Harry’s brain-to-mouth filter. “Be my guest, toilet’s right there.” The fuck?

Louis appears to be thinking the same thing if his expression is anything to go by. “Um… Alright? I guess I’ll just… Go ahead and pee two feet away from you.” He inches closer to the toilet, squinting at Harry like he expects him to yell at Louis to stop. “Totally not super weird or anything.”

Harry hums in response, cheeks burning with slight embarrassment, and continues scrubbing slowly at his cheek. He pointedly avoids looking in Louis’s general vicinity. He tries to not react visibly as Louis pees, but on the inside, he is dying.

“What if I’d had to take a shit?” Louis asks suddenly, sounding rather amused. “What then, Harold?” There’s the sound of a zipper being pulled up, then Louis appears at his side. “Budge over.”

Harry scoots aside to let him wash his hands at the sink, not even looking at his reflection to see if he’s gotten the lipstick off. Like always, he stares at Louis instead. He just looks so gorgeous tonight, dressed in tight white jeans, an ugly dark green Christmas jumper, and black Vans. There’s a red ball on his torso that’s supposed to be Rudolph’s nose. Harry is so endeared and enraged by how cute this man is. Also his ass looks phenomenal.

Belatedly, he realises he should say something back to Louis, who is now drying his hands yet doesn’t seem keen to leave yet, leaning against the counter. “I probably would have stood here like an idiot anyway and politely refrained from commenting on the smell.”

Louis’s grin brightens his whole face, makes Harry feel as if he’s drowning. “You dork,” he says, punching his arm playfully. “What happened to your face anyway?”

“It got attacked by a bunch of women in lipstick.”

“That’s rough,” Louis laments. “Lovely women, though, aren’t they?”

Harry smiles genuinely. “The best.”

There’s a pause as Louis fiddles with the hand towel. “The blokes at work are pretty ace too,” he comments.

“I mean, yeah, they’re great,” Harry agrees. He really does love his coworkers. Thank God that Dan Wool or whatever his name was got fired early on.

“Do you, um – you got your eye on any of ‘em?” Louis asks, not meeting Harry’s eyes as he starts poking at Rudolph’s nose on his jumper, hands apparently restless.

Harry is confused. “I – what, like am I attracted to any of them?”

“Yeah.”

“Absolutely not,” is Harry’s ready answer. He feels a bit bad, but… “They’re all lovely, truly, but not quite what I’m looking for in a partner.”

Louis looks up at him then, eyes so blue and curious and strangely wary. “Oh yeah? What’re you looking for then?”

Harry shrugs, shuffling forward and reaching around Louis to throw the used makeup wipe in the bin behind him. He doesn’t move back to his original spot, instead lingers close to Louis. “Someone who can make me laugh.”

Louis swallows. “I make you laugh,” he points out, his voice slightly shaky and cheeks starting to turn pink.

Harry can feel his breath light on his face when Louis speaks. It smells like mint and vodka and a bit like strawberries. “Someone who I get along with really well, who I just… Click with, y’know?” Harry continues, his heart pounding in his chest. The moment feels so heavy, so loaded with tension, and he can’t explain why.

“We get along really well,” Louis counters. Harry can see the hitch in his breath when Harry inches just a bit closer, Louis’s fringe tickling at his temple, body hunching a bit closer to Louis’s level. They’re so close he can practically taste Louis’s skin. He can feel something big about to happen. He tries not to overthink it, just go with the flow.

“Someone nice,” he finishes, his breath making Louis’s eyelashes flutter a bit.

“Am I nice?” Louis’s voice is so hushed, so quietly hopeful.

Don’t overthink it.

“Can I kiss you, Louis?” Harry asks instead of answering.

Immediately, Louis is nodding, muttering, “God, please.”

They come together quickly, Louis’s hands sliding into Harry’s hair and Harry’s coming up to rest on Louis’s hip and back, but when their mouths press together, it’s gentle. It’s slow, their movement unhurried, and so sweet. There aren’t any fireworks or explosions, but there’s this flurry of warmth and tingling in Harry’s belly, this quiet excitement over what’s happening.

Louis’s lips are soft as they yield beneath Harry’s, letting his tongue dip inside after a minute or so of just gentle presses. They snog for a while there, tongues slick and mouths warm and skin flushed, huddled close together in a bathroom while the rest of their friends carry on just outside. The kiss is everything their first kiss in the backseat of that cab wasn’t.

When they finally break apart, it’s only for them to rest their foreheads together, simply breathing each other in for a moment.

“I really like you, Louis.” Harry whispers it like a secret.

Harry can feel Louis’s wide smile when he pecks him on the cheek, trailing tiny kisses from his cheekbone to his jawline.

“I’m rather fond of you too, H,” Louis murmurs in response.

“We should talk,” Harry suggests, lips brushing the scruff on Louis’s chin. His blush deepens when he considers how it’d feel against his thighs. Another time.

“Mm, we should,” Louis agrees. “But more kissing first.”

“More kissing,” Harry gives in.

So they kiss some more.

 

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

 

It’s a little past nine o’clock in the morning when Harry wakes up the next day. Bundled up warm in his sheets, it takes him a moment to figure out what woke him up. When he rolls over to get comfortable in the sheets again and realises the space next to him is still warm from another body, he understands. His eyes flutter open reluctantly to find a sleep-rumpled Louis, sitting at the edge of the bed in just boxer briefs and a T-shirt, gazing down at his phone.

“Morning,” Harry croaks, clearing his throat afterwards.

Louis turns his entire body to face Harry, crawling closer and sitting with his legs crossed on the sheets beside him. His hand comes down to slot into Harry’s bed head, gently untangling a few of the knots. It feels heavenly. “Good morning, babe,” he returns.

The term of endearment brings a bashful smile to Harry’s face, partially hiding his face in the pillow.

“Want to have that talk now?” he asks quietly, still running his fingers through Harry’s long hair.

Harry would actually much rather stay here forever with Louis petting his hair and speaking to him in gentle tones, but Harry was  the one who said they needed to talk in the first place. And they do, it’s true. Harry needs to know where they stand with each other because he doesn’t think he could manage being friends with benefits with Louis Tomlinson without having at least one emotional breakdown, so.

After all the kissing they did last night, Harry wouldn’t be surprised if that was the direction they were headed in. Technically, they didn’t even have sex last night after the party; it was just getting late and they didn’t want to stop snogging obsessively so Harry invited Louis to just… Have an impromptu sleepover. Which involved at least an hour more of kissing in bed until they passed out. He can still feel the insistent pressure of Louis’s mouth on his, even hours later.

He pouts as he slips out of bed and, clad just in his gray briefs, follows Louis out to the kitchen to whip up some breakfast for their talk. Harry knows Louis is kind of shit at cooking, so he just delegates him to toast duty while he scrambles some eggs and starts brewing the tea, making it the exact way he’s learned Louis likes it.

They’re sat at the kitchen table with their food in front of them and Louis playing footsie with Harry under the table when Louis starts, “So… Last night, you, um, said you like me?”

His cheeks are a bit pink, but he seems more sure of himself than he did last night prior to the kiss.

Harry can feel himself flushing, probably looking rosier than Louis. “Um, yeah. Yeah, I do.”

Louis claps his hands together, almost celebratory. “Well! I think this means we should be boyfriends.”

Harry chokes on his own spit.

“What do you think?” Louis barrels on, ignoring Harry’s obvious startle.

“I,” Harry begins, then pauses.

For a minute, he thinks back to the bitter gazes and frustrated pouts that he was subjected to for the first while of working with Louis. He thinks back to the clumsy drunk boy who wanted to take him home but forgot his wallet. He thinks back to the snarky man three inches shorter than him who once told him his bright green blouse looked like a leprechaun had thrown up on him.

But then he looks up at Louis and sees the person he’s been getting to know, the person who wants everyone to think he’s tough shit but once called Harry up in the middle of the night in tears because a sad animal cruelty advert on the television made him upset. He sees the person who once brought him an actual monstrosity of a bouquet of daffodils and baby’s breath to work one day simply because Harry had told him daffodils were his favourite flower. He sees the man who blushes every time Harry so much as brushes his arm against him, and it takes a few moments of lingering on that thought for Harry to realise with a start that Louis’s been doing that since the moment they met, actually.

Maybe Louis was an absolute twat in the beginning, but the more Harry thinks about it, the more he realises that that’s kind of a part of Louis as a person. He’s not actually a dick, but he is other things. He’s loyal, sweet, kind, clever, hardworking, and funny, but he’s also insecure, quick to draw conclusions, and brash. He’s a lot of things, but Harry’s starting to understand that not one of those things really changes the fact that Harry wants him looking this soft and rumpled at his kitchen table every day for as long as he can have him.

So it’s an easy decision, actually.

“I think that’s the best idea you’ve ever had.”

More kissing.