Characters: Harry Styles/Nick Grimshaw, Liam Payne/Louis Tomlinson; Niall Horan, Zayn Malik
Word Count: 13 355
Summary: Uni AU. In which there is inexplicable British frat culture, Nick has a radio show, Harry sings, Liam is a swimmer, Louis mopes around campus, Niall and Zayn are frequently confused, and everybody has a lot of feelings.
Author’s Note: Written for my lovely hengilas, because it’s her birthday! Britpicked by ifonlyella, who is brilliant and lovely, and therefore any remaining mistakes are my own. I’d like to apologize to anyone thrown off by the inclusion of frats--since this is a birthday present, I had to do what Becca ordered me to do to make her happy, and, in her own words, “DICK LIAM CAN'T BE DICK LIAM WITHOUT BEING IN A FRAT. that's why he doesn't exist in the world as a dick, because he's from a place where frats do not exist.” And Becca loves it when Liam is a dick, because she makes no sense and somehow does not see a puppy when she looks at Liam Payne’s face. Love you, Becca. xx
Nick is leaning sideways against the vending machine outside the student radio station, half-heartedly trying to decide what he wants to drink using the smallest amount of brain power possible, when he catches movement out of the corner of his eye and looks up to see an impressively fit bloke walking down the corridor toward him.
Nick watches as he approaches, struck a little dumb--he’s like a rock ballad, Nick thinks, crooning and inviting in the soft curls of his hair with sharp bass lines underneath where his jeans cling to his legs. He’s passing right by Nick, and Nick somehow finds himself saying “Looking good, there,” and he did not give his mouth permission to say that, what the fuck. He throws a wry grin after it in an attempt to not come off as a total creep. (Fuck, there’s really nothing for this, he’s totally a creep.)
He pauses at Nick’s words, looking over at him in surprise, and then he smirks and Nick is now one hundred percent sure that he’s made a horrible mistake. He never wanted that smirk directed at him--it’s the hard hitting drop of the song that takes your breath away, and he’s not sure he remembers how to move anymore. It’s a problem, because he needs to go do actual work some time today.
“Hey,” the guy says, nodding a bit, and then he continues on his way like nothing happened. Nick takes a moment to admire his arse, another moment to question his life choices, and another to remember what he came out to the hallway for in the first place.
Nick has mostly forgotten about the entire incident (or, well, shut up, he’s pretending he’s forgotten rather than spent every night for the last week lying in bed obsessing over how utterly stupid and creepy he is) by the time he sees the guy again.
There’s a first year broadcasting student they’d ended up hiring on at the radio station after he’d approached Nick at the beginning of the school year to ask if he could be featured on Nick’s show as the monthly live artist. His name is Niall, he’s a Tau Kappa Epsilon pledge who talks about his roommate a bit too much, in Nick’s opinion, for it to be totally platonic, and he plays guitar and sings as a hobby.
Ever since Niall had asked Nick if he would come see him at the open mic night at a pub just off the university campus to vet whether he was a good fit for the feature, they’d struck up a friendship that mostly consisted of texting each other every so often and throwing pens at each other instead of doing actual radio station work whenever they were both there, and Niall insisted Nick come along to open mic night every time he performed because he “trusted Nick’s opinion and needed his feedback.”
Which is all well and good in theory, but now that Nick’s sitting on a barstool trying to use Niall’s roommate as a shield between him and Bloke With The Hair while Niall makes friends with what seems like every single person in the room, he’s starting to rethink the whole giving out advice thing. He thinks that maybe he’ll just stop talking to people at all--stay inside his flat, sit at the back of all his classes, only speak while on air. That should head off anymore epic mistakes.
“You look a bit on edge,” Niall’s roommate says, and fuck, why can’t Nick remember his name? Niall had definitely said it enough times. “You got somewhere to be?”
“I, uh.” Nick makes a show of looking at the time on his phone. “I do this radio show? I just don’t want to be late or anything.”
“Right, Niall told me about that. What time?”
“Ten,” Nick says.
He raises his eyebrows. “It’s quarter past eight.”
Seriously. Nick needs to never talk again. “I’m paranoid,” he says, and tries to look busy drinking his water. Niall’s roommate--Zayn pops into Nick’s head, his name is Zayn, yeah, that’s right, Nick has an awesome memory--just looks amused.
Nick catches another glimpse of Bloke With The Hair standing by the stage talking to the announcer. He looks over toward the bar, and Nick hunches down, leaning a bit toward Zayn.
Niall pops up behind Zayn, hanging his arm over one shoulder and propping his chin on the other one. “You look like you’re hiding from someone, Nick,” he says.
Nick splutters. “I--no! I’m not.”
Niall raises an eyebrow. “Okay. I’m up second, after that one.” He gestures toward the stage, where Bloke With The Hair is standing, fiddling with the microphone stand. Nick takes this opportunity to finish the rest of his glass of water and wonder what he did wrong to deserve this. It’s just--he’s so good looking, and he looks totally comfortable on stage, and Nick is a sucker for boys who appreciate music, and has he mentioned his hair? Nick wants to touch it. A lot.
“Testing--Hello? All right, settle down. This here is Harry Styles, and he’s going to kick off tonight’s open mic,” the announcer says. He hands the mic off to Harry, who waves, and Nick has a moment to consider and be horrified by the idea that maybe Harry is one of those people that thinks they can sing when they really actually can’t, and then backing track music cuts in and Harry opens his mouth and--oh.
He’s not one of those people that thinks they can sing when they really actually can’t. He’s one of those people that can sing really, really well, and also have magnificent stage presence, and on top of that they’re really attractive. Nick wants to die. This was too much for him to handle when Harry looked like a rock ballad personified, he’s really not sure how he’s supposed to deal with him actually singing one, voice smooth and dark spilling into the microphone and filling the room.
Niall whistles under his breath. “Shit, I have to follow this? Is it too late to back out?”
“Shhh,” Nick and Zayn say simultaneously.
“You’ll be great,” Zayn continues. Niall flashes him a grateful grin.
Harry finishes his song to a healthy amount of applause and more than a few catcalls from the crowd. Nick finds himself on his feet clapping--and catching Harry’s eye, apparently, because he could swear Harry is looking straight at him when he says thank you into the mic. Nick tries to remember how to breathe when someone that good looking is looking at you. He must know how; it must have happened before.
Well. Maybe not.
He sits back down self-consciously. Zayn is looking at him funny. ”You know him?”
“I--no,” Nick says.
Zayn’s look turns more speculative. “But you’d like to?”
Nick doesn’t even have a response for that. “Oh, look, Niall’s on stage,” he says instead, and Zayn turns to shoot Niall a double thumbs up, grinning. Niall visibly relaxes, his shoulders dropping and his grip on his guitar becoming less white knuckled.
He leans into the microphone. “Hi there, I’m Niall, and this is a song I wrote myself.” He fiddles with the guitar strings nervously for a moment, fingers flitting across the frets, and then reaches up to spin his cap so that it’s on backwards before strumming the first few chords.
Niall doesn’t look like he belongs on the stage like Harry does, his jeans ripped in what Nick thinks is probably supposed to be an artful manner and the sleeves of his white button up slowly unrolling from where he’s pushed them up by his elbows, but when he sings it’s clear he’s having the time of his life. He’s pretty good, really, especially since it’s a song he wrote himself, and Nick thinks he would be pretty wowed at how much Niall’s improved even in the short time Nick’s known him if he hadn’t just heard Harry fucking Styles sing. His brain is still trying to wrap itself around that whole... thing.
Fifteen or so minutes later, Nick’s still not got a grasp on it, and Niall decides to not help the situation at all by befriending Harry and then dragging him over to meet Zayn and Nick. Presented with Harry’s hand to shake, it takes a moment of staring before Nick even remembers what he’s supposed to do with it. Harry laughs at him, a soft amused noise that makes Nick’s chest squish up a bit.
“Nice to, uh, actually meet you,” Nick manages to say.
“Likewise,” Harry replies, and fucking hell, did he just fucking wink?
“Nick here is on student radio,” Niall says. “His show does a monthly in studio live musician feature and I think you should be on it, Harry.”
Nick does not recall giving Niall permission to ask people to be on the show. He’s not even sure what’s happening around him anymore.
“Yeah?” Harry asks, sounding interested. He leans against the bar top and quirks an eyebrow in Nick’s direction. “That true?”
“Uh--” Nick glances from Niall to Zayn to Harry and back to Zayn again, who’s looking at him from behind Harry’s back with wide eyes that Nick is sure would be a hell of a lot more meaningful if he’d actually known Zayn for longer than three quarters of an hour or whatever. If he had to guess, though, he’s pretty sure it means something like what are you hesitating for this is your chance get in on that shit. “Yeah. Yeah, it’d be really cool if you had the time or whatever.”
Harry nods. “I think I could find the time to fit you in.” He’s smirking again.
“Great, that’s great,” Nick says, trying his hardest to sound casual and not think dirty things.
“I’ll give you my number, yeah? We can meet up sometime to talk about it.”
“Sure.” Nick fumbles his phone out of his pocket and brings up the new contact screen before handing it to Harry. He accepts Harry’s in return and checks that he’s put in the right number approximately five times before he feels safe enough to hand it back to him.
“Brilliant,” Niall says. “Now that we’ve got that out of the way, who’s up for drinks?”
Both Zayn and Harry readily agree, but Nick shakes his head. “I’ve got to go--prep for the show and whatnot. Raincheck?”
“Sure thing, mate.” Zayn claps him on the shoulder.
“You were great, Niall,” Nick remembers to say. “Uh, you too, Harry.”
“Thanks for coming, Nick,” Niall says. Harry smiles and wiggles his fingers in an approximation of a wave.
Nick spends the entire walk back to the student radio station staring at Harry’s number in his contacts and struggling not to scream.
Louis wakes up because something large and warm has crawled onto him and is poking at his cheekbone. He opens his eyes, squinting against the mid-afternoon light streaming through the blinds, and is not surprised in the least to find that the something in question is Harry.
“Jesus, Haz,” Louis mumbles, shoving Harry off him and sitting up. “What time is it?”
“‘Bout half past three,” Harry says cheerfully. “I’ve just got back from my lecture. Wasn’t expecting you to be here.”
“I’m skipping today’s afternoon class,” Louis says. “It seems irrelevant to anything I’ve ever cared about. I was trying to nap before I got started on my homework, but apparently you’ve decided I’m not allowed to do that.”
Harry shrugs. “You could still do that.”
Louis sighs. “You’d pout at me now, I can tell. What’s got you all cheerful?”
He grins even wider, if that’s possible, and reaches to grab Louis’s phone off his desk and toss it at him. “Check your messages.”
Louis looks at Harry calculatingly for moment, then does as he asks. He’s only got one new text, from Niall, inviting him to a party at the TKE house on Thursday night. Louis raises an eyebrow at Harry.
“It’s a mass text, see, I’ve got the same one,” Harry explains, waving his phone in front of Louis’s face too fast for him to even properly see.
“I take it this party is very exciting?”
Harry rolls his eyes. “If Niall texted everyone he knows, and you know he did, that means he’s invited Nick.”
“Oh, Nick,” Louis says. He’s heard way too much about Nick and his apparently fascinating hair and everything else in the past three weeks. Sometimes he longs for the time before he and Harry had really gotten to know each other and had stuck to their own sides of the room, awkwardly poking at their electronics. (Of course, that time had only been a few hours long, but Louis likes to imagine that his life would be so much quieter if neither of them had made the effort to be friends. Then again, having Harry with him had made pledge week a lot more bearable. He probably would have given up without him there.) “How do you know he’ll be there, though?”
“Because I may have texted Niall back and asked,” Harry says.
Louis laughs, because that is so Harry.
“You have to come, Louis.” Harry glares at Louis. He looks like a puppy trying very hard to be menacing, and Louis stifles more laughter. “I need you to be supportive. And besides, this is supposed to be the party of the year. I bet you could find someone, too, see, so there’s really no reason to tell me no. I refuse to take it for answer.”
“Relax, Harry, I wasn’t even going to say no,” Louis says. “I like parties, and besides, if I have to listen to you ramble on about Nick, I would like to meet him, you know. Make sure he’s good enough for you and all that.”
Harry snorts and punches Louis’s shoulder. “Look at you, acting like you’re my big brother when you’ve only known me for a month. Adorable.”
“Shut it,” Louis says, retaliating by dragging Harry into a headlock and messing up his hair. Harry lets out a shriek of protest and, in the ensuing tickle fight, Louis has just enough time to think that his life would also be a lot more boring if they’d never become friends.
“A tenner says I can get more numbers than you tonight,” Zayn says into Liam’s ear casually, poking him in the ribs.
Liam snorts and switches the hand he’s holding his beer in so he can fistbump Zayn. “You’re on.”
The party is already well underway--the frat house is packed and the walls are vibrating with the sounds of loud pop dance music. It’s not yet reached the point where shit is getting smashed and people are practically fucking in the corners, but Zayn can tell it’s going to be that kind of party. Niall has a gift for throwing those.
“Hey!” Niall yells, popping up in front of Zayn. He’s wearing sunglasses and looks thoroughly plastered. “Good party, yeah?”
Zayn smiles involuntarily. “Yeah, Niall, you’re a talent, you know it. You’ve even attracted girls dressed as sexy bunny rabbits.”
“Hell yeah,” Niall says. “It’s not even supposed to be fancy dress, I’m pretty sure those’ve all come from Delta Chi, because fuck knows they don’t know how to party over there. Can’t say I’m complaining, myself.” He leers at a passing girl in an obscenely short skirt and manages to trip over Zayn’s feet trying to follow after her. Zayn steadies him and tugs his sunglasses off his face, sliding them into his hair instead.
“There, now you’re a bit less of a hazard.”
“Thanks, Zayners,” Niall says, patting Zayn on the cheek before heading off in the direction the hot girl went.
“I’m winning,” Liam says from Zayn’s other side, making him jump in surprise. He waves a piece of paper with numbers printed in rounded script on it in Zayn’s face.
Zayn scoffs. “The night is young, Payne. The night is young. And I need more alcohol.”
Louis is very drunk. He knows this because he doesn’t know where Harry is, but he isn’t actually all that bothered by that. Also, there is a very sexy lad over there chatting up a redhead, and Louis wants that in his bed. Now, preferably. He always has a lot more gay thoughts when drunk, so there’s another tick in that particular checklist.
He also has this issue with impulse control, which is probably how he finds himself sidling over to the sexy lad and leaning against his side, blurting out a cheerful “Hi there!”
The redhead widens her eyes. “Er--I’m gonna go,” she says, and practically vanishes, she’s so quick. Louis wonders idly if maybe she’s some sort of witch.
The sexy lad huffs in frustration. “Thanks, mate, I was almost in there.”
“No problem,” Louis says, grinning and rubbing his cheek against his shoulder a bit. It’s a nice shoulder. “My name’s Louis.”
“Liam,” he says, looking at Louis calculatingly. Louis flushes under his scrutiny and tries to hide his blush and escape Liam’s gaze by nuzzling his face into Liam’s neck. It’s a nice neck. Liam has a nice everything, Louis thinks. It’s hardly fair and seems like too good of a thing to be true. Louis clearly needs to do a thorough investigation, which is why his next step is to shove his hand under Liam’s shirt.
Nice abs, too. Damn.
It occurs to Louis that Liam is going along surprisingly well with the whole being felt up by a stranger thing. He’s not sure how long that’s going to last; Liam could be in shock or something. Louis pulls back to look at Liam’s face, which doesn’t seem particularly shocked. In fact, Liam is smiling a bit. It’s-- a nice smile.
“You’ve a nice everything,” Louis tells Liam.
Liam laughs. “Thank you. You’re not so bad yourself.” He wraps his arm around Louis’s waist and tucks his hand into the back pocket of Louis’s jeans. Louis is pretty sure he likes where this is going, so he leans in and presses his lips to Liam’s. Liam seems taken off guard for a moment before he takes charge of the kiss, pulling Louis closer and licking into his mouth. Louis slides his hand around to Liam’s back and tangles the other one in Liam’s hair, letting out a whimper when Liam digs his teeth into Louis’s bottom lip before pulling away.
Louis feels light headed and more than a little slap happy. He thinks he might have just giggled a bit. “We, uh, we should go somewhere,” Louis says. Liam looks thoughtful again, and Louis presses another kiss to his lips. “Come on.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Liam agrees. “My room’s upstairs. This way.” He disentangles them before grabbing Louis’s hand and tugging him toward the stairs. Louis thinks that this very drunk thing is definitely paying off. The hangover he’s going to have tomorrow already seems worth it.
Nick has mostly given up on seeing Harry at this party at any point, which is disappointing, because he wouldn’t be caught dead at a frat party for any other reason. He hates fraternities on principle, really; they’ve always seemed contrived and stupid and full of excuses to blast bad pop music and drink, and he’s questioned his sanity in fancying someone who thought it was a good idea to pledge to one of these things on more than one occasion since learning that Harry is an Alpha Sigma Phi pledge. But he’s also stupidly attractive, so Nick’s going to say that makes it okay.
He’s trying to push his way through the crowd so he can get out the fucking door and get some much needed actually breathable air into his lungs when he trips (just lovely, who the fuck put that side table there, that doesn’t even make sense) and falls into none other than Zayn, accompanied by a half dead looking Harry leaning over his shoulder.
“Whoa, hello,” Nick says.
Zayn sighs. “Hey,” he replies, and looks as if he’s going to say something else before Harry comes alive with a loud “Nick!” and disentangles himself from Zayn to relocate to hanging off Nick. “You’re so awesome, Nick,” Harry says, looking up at him with pupils blown wide. “I thought you weren’t gonna show up.”
“I had my show first, but I’ve been here a good hour,” Nick replies, trying to soothingly stroke Harry’s curls. His hair is just as soft as Nick thought it would be, but he’s totally not thinking about that right now.
“Sorry,” Zayn says. “I was trying to help him back to his room.”
Nick nods. “That’s all right, I can take over. I was thinking about leaving, anyway.”
“You sure?” Zayn asks skeptically.
Nick assures Zayn it’s fine and gets directions to Alpha Sig. They make it outside before Harry says anything else, and even then it’s just a mumbled phrase muffled by Nick’s sweater. He’s cooperative, at least, letting Nick drag him along with obedient shuffling feet, and Nick thanks his lucky stars for small favours.
“We’ll walk back to your frat, yeah? You need to sober up some anyway.”
Harry makes a noise that Nick chooses to interpret as agreement and leans his head on Nick’s shoulder.
“S’cold,” he says after a while. Nick automatically rubs at Harry’s side in an attempt to warm him up.
“Yeah, that’s late October for you,” Nick agrees. “Almost there, though. We’ll get you in a warm bed.”
“Nice,” Harry mumbles.
Five minutes and a brief freak out where Nick thought Harry didn’t have his key and was therefore locked out of his room later, Nick is standing awkwardly in the middle of Harry’s room while Harry clumsily strips off all his clothes--save his pants, thank fuck, Nick’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to handle that--and crawls into bed.
“You good?” Nick asks. “You need water or anything?”
Harry shakes his head. “C’mere.”
Harry gestures insistently for Nick to come closer, and when he’s within arm’s reach, grabs onto his sweater and pulls, making him trip over his own feet and land on his knees in the bed. “Cuddle with me,” Harry demands, and Nick’s about to say no, he should get going, when Harry adds on “please”, looking absolutely pitiful, and Nick no longer has any choice but to kick off his shoes and do as Harry says.
“This good?” Nick asks, slinging an arm over Harry and trying to ignore that he’s now pretty much spooning with Harry Styles. Harry makes a noise that is definitely affirmative and cuddles into the pillow. Nick can smell Harry’s shampoo, faint now under the smell of smoke and booze, something that’s maybe flowery or citrusy, he really has no idea other than it smells wonderful and he continues to be a moderately creepy person.
Then again, if being a moderately creepy person is going to continue to allow him to even just platonically cuddle with the perfect human specimen that is Harry, Nick thinks he’s okay with that.
“Can I fuck you?” Liam asks, lips hovering just over Louis’s, his hand moving slowly up Louis’s thigh, and Louis’s breath hitches at the thought. It’s farther than he’s ever gone with another guy, the most he’s done before being fumbled handjobs and, once, a rather disastrous blowjob. Liam has this way about him, though, that makes Louis want to let him take control and do whatever he wants, starting from when he pushed Louis down on the bed in his room and started stripping them both off between kisses and muttered comments about how gorgeous Louis looked all laid out for Liam.
Liam definitely doesn’t have any compunctions about hurting Louis, the redness around his wrists from where Liam held him down a testament to that, but he also touches Louis as if he’s something to be revered, like now, with his fingertips dragging lightly over the skin of his thigh, his eyes studying Louis carefully, and that, more than anything else, is why Louis rolls his hips up against Liam’s and says “Please, yes, come on.”
Liam grins and reaches over to get a bottle of lube and a condom out of his bedside table, dropping the condom next to Louis on the bed and uncapping the lube to pour a generous amount over his fingers. He reaches down, and Louis tenses up at the first touch of his index finger--it’s fucking cold--before forcing himself to relax and let Liam work his finger in.
“Good, yeah, just like that,” Liam says, the thumb of his other hand stroking soothingly along Louis’s cheekbone. “Relax, babe, you’re so tight. Let me work you open for my cock, yeah?” He adds another finger, making Louis choke out a strangled moan. The stretch is a bit weird, but Liam fucks his fingers into Louis slowly at first, drawing it out until Louis has forgotten all about how strange it is and is squirming into it, and then he speeds up. Louis groans and tries to grab onto Liam, his fingers sliding against Liam’s back. “You like that?” Liam asks, smirking. “You want more? You gotta ask for it if you do, come on.”
“More, yeah. Liam, please.” Louis moans, and Liam obliges, pushing a third finger in. Louis loses his breath for a moment, and then Liam kisses him, biting at Louis’s top lip as he works his fingers inside Louis, stretching him out. Louis’s world narrows down to the feel of Liam’s fingers pressing into him, the warmth of Liam all along his side, the way Liam keeps nipping along his jawline, and he suddenly wants nothing more than for Liam to fuck him now.
“Liam,” Louis mumbles, “Liam, I need-- I need you to--”
“Shhh,” Liam says, and pulls his fingers out. Louis makes a noise of protest before he fully realises that Liam is just getting the condom, ripping open the foil with his teeth, and Louis watches through half lidded eyes as Liam rolls it onto himself.
“You ready for me to fuck you?” Liam asks as he slicks up with lube. Louis bites his lip and nods. “Don’t worry, babe, I’m gonna make it so good for you. You’re gonna be screaming for my cock.” He moves to line himself up and leans in to capture Louis’s lips with his own, sucking on his bottom lip, and then he pushes in and Louis gasps against his mouth, his eyes rolling into the back of his head.
“Fuck-- yeah,” Louis breathes out and feels Liam shudder against him, his hands spread across Louis’s chest and fingers digging into his ribs. “Come on.”
Liam finally--finally--starts to move, long drawn out pulls out before he pushes back in again, making Louis moan and drag scratches across Liam’s back with his fingernails.
“You--fuck--you want more of my cock? You want me to fuck you harder?”
“Yes, Liam, fuck, please, fuck me,” Louis begs. Liam grabs under Louis’s knee and spreads him wider, slamming into him again. Louis groans and reaches for his dick, stroking it in time with Liam’s thrusts.
“God, that’s so hot,” Liam chokes out. “Yeah, touch yourself. Are you going to come for me, Louis? Come on, let me see it.”
Louis speeds up his hand and scrunches his eyes closed before he comes, streaking both his and Liam’s chests with it. He opens his eyes again just in time to see Liam lose it as well, buried deep in Louis’s ass, moaning out a “Yeah, fuck.” Liam manages to keep himself steady for a moment after before he pulls out and flops down against Louis’s chest.
“That was fucking great,” Liam mumbles into Louis’s neck. Louis giggles a bit, his mind still registering everything as sweet and fuzzy around the edges. “We should probably clean up.”
“Mmmm,” Louis agrees.
“In a minute,” Liam decides, and Louis can’t find it in himself to bother arguing with that.
Nick jerks awake to the familiar sound of his phone’s alarm and nearly falls out of the bed fumbling to get his phone out of his pocket and shut it off. ‘Get the fuck out of bed, class in two hours!’ glares at him from underneath the clock with the hands pointing to half eight. He groans and flops back onto the pillow. Beside him, Harry makes a snuffling noise and pulls the blankets closer to him.
Oh, that’s right. He’s in Harry’s bed.
The realization makes Nick immediately panic and roll out of the bed, landing on his feet less than gracefully and standing to stare down at Harry, who continues on sleeping, unbothered. His hair is flopped every which way over the pillow, some hanging down over his eyes, and he honestly looks like a tiny fluffy kitten or something. It’s really too much for Nick to handle this early in the morning. No one should be that fucking adorable.
Nick knows logically that he needs to go back to his flat and have a shower and change clothes before he goes to his lecture, but tiny fluffy kittens demand cuddling, and he desperately wants to fuck logic and crawl back into bed with Harry. He wavers for a moment before resolutely turning away from Harry and finding a blank piece of paper on his desk, scrawling a quick note across it. He places it on the bedside table, and, after a moment of consideration, goes off to find Harry a glass of water and some paracetamol to leave on top of the note.
Sorry to leave you! Have a morning lecture to get to and didn’t want to wake you up. Text me that you’re still alive, okay?
When Louis wakes up, Liam is already sitting on the edge of the bed, fully dressed in sweats and a t-shirt and holding two mugs.
“Tea?” Louis mumbles, rubbing at his eyes and blinking sleepily at Liam, who smiles.
“Tea,” Liam confirms, holding out one of the mugs. “How are you feeling?”
“Like someone’s taken a sledgehammer to my skull and dumped me in the desert,” Louis says, sitting up and taking the tea from Liam. Liam laughs, and it’s cute, even if it irritates Louis’s headache.
“You were pretty drunk last night, I think,” Liam says. He’s doing that thing where he looks at Louis like he’s trying to figure something out, and Louis really needs to stop finding that so hot.
Louis shrugs, sipping at his tea. It’s not perfect, definitely too sweet, but Louis can deal. “It was worth it,” he says. “Had a great time. Great... party.”
Liam is smirking now. Louis can’t decide whether that’s hotter than the calculating look or not, but he’s leaning toward yes. “Yeah?” Liam asks.
“Cool. You want breakfast? The kitchen isn’t a total disaster, by which I mean I already cleaned it up a bit, and I can make eggs and... eggs.”
Louis snorts. “Eggs sound good.”
“Okay,” Liam says, standing. “I’ll go get that started and let you get dressed.”
Louis waits until Liam’s closed the door behind him to set his tea on the bedside table and get out of the bed, stretching his arms above his head and standing on his toes to stretch out his muscles before scanning the floor for his clothes. He’s momentarily confused when they’re not there before he spots them stacked on Liam’s desk chair--not folded neatly or anything, just picked up and put together. Louis decides, as he pulls the clothes on, that he likes the kind of person that makes Liam out to be. Also, Louis may need to reconsider the whole skinny jeans thing, because they are way too hard to get on when jumping up and down hurts his head like fuck.
He grabs his tea and heads downstairs, thankfully accurately remembering where the kitchen is located and finding Liam staring into a frying pan. Louis sits down on a stool by the island and watches Liam, idly wishing there was a way to take sugar out of tea once you’ve already put it in.
“All right, there?” Liam asks, turning to look at Louis. “These are about done, just another minute.”
Louis nods, and a couple very short minutes later, Liam is pushing a plate of fried eggs across the island to Louis and sitting down on the adjacent side to him with his own.
They eat in silence, and it’s a bit awkward, but it could definitely be a lot more awkward than it is. Also, the morning in general could have done with some additional sex and/or cuddles and also better tea, while Louis is complaining about things in his head, but he’s not too terribly bothered.
“Thanks,” Louis says when he’s finished his eggs. “Should I, uh--” He gestures from his plate to the sink, and Liam nods.
“You going to be all right to get back to your hall or whatever?” Liam asks as Louis puts his plate and mug into the sink.
Louis is taken aback for a moment, then shrugs it off. “Yeah, I feel less like I’m dying than I did before. It’s not far to walk, Alpha Sig is pretty much just down the way.”
“Okay, good. See you around?”
Louis pats at the pockets of his jeans to make sure his mobile and keys are still there. “Yeah, uh. You want to exchange numbers or something so that we can hang out sometime?” Louis asks, because he’s pretty sure he genuinely likes Liam and wouldn’t mind getting to know him better. And also having more really fucking awesome sex, but that’s not the (whole) point.
Liam looks a bit shocked for a second before his expression turns to--what is that supposed to be, pity? Why is he-- “No, that’s all right,” Liam says, and Louis’s heart sinks. Okay, then. This officially couldn’t get any more awkward.
“Right. Uh, bye, then.”
“Bye, Louis,” Liam says, still looking at him all sadly, and Louis pretty much runs for the door.
Louis is pretty sure he’s never been so devastatingly disappointed in his life. It’s fucking cold outside and he’s only wearing a long sleeved cotton shirt and he’s sorely tempted to just lie down on the side of the road and give up, except it would probably be a lot more comfortable to get back to his room and give up whilst lying in his bed. Fuck Liam, really. His loss if he doesn’t want Louis’s number. He has shit taste in tea; Louis didn’t want to date him anyway.
Except how he totally did.
“I think you owe me money,” Zayn tells Liam when he walks into the living room and flops down on the couch. Niall and Zayn are sitting on the floor playing FIFA. Niall is winning, but Zayn is pretty sure he’s going to make a comeback any second now.
“Oh yeah?” Liam asks, his voice muffled by one of the couch pillows.
“Yeah,” Zayn says, hitting buttons on his controller way harder than necessary and getting less than satisfactory results. “I got five numbers Friday night. And how many did you get?”
“Uh--three,” Liam mumbles.
“See? I won the bet. You owe me money.”
“Liam also had what I’m sure was very hot sex with Louis,” Niall says. “What was your tail to phone number ratio, Zayn?”
“Be quiet, Niall, that wasn’t a factor.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Niall drawls out. “Zero for five, innit, Zayn? Also, I’ve just won.”
Zayn curses and throws down his controller while Niall laughs at him. “Fuck off, mate. Not like I had anywhere to take someone I wanted to sleep with, is it? You were taking up our room all night.”
Niall abruptly stops laughing and avoids eye contact with Zayn. Zayn frowns. “Yeah, who says that’s a bad thing?” Niall mutters.
“Uh, no one?” Zayn says, confused. “Are you all right, Nialler? Did I hit some sort of nerve?”
“No,” Niall says quickly. “I’m fine. You wanna play again? I’ll go easy if you let Liam off the money.”
“Fine, okay,” Zayn agrees, picking the controller back up. “You hear that, Liam?”
“Mhm,” Liam says into his pillow.
“Think he’s about asleep,” Niall says. “Must still be tired. That’s some really good sex, if so. I mean, it’s been pretty much two days at this point.”
“Why are you so obsessed with how good of sex Liam has?” Zayn asks, scrolling through the game options and trying to select ones that are actually going to result in him winning this time.
“I’m not obsessed,” Niall protests. Zayn side eyes him. He totally is. Just like Zayn is totally going to win this time.
Louis is never leaving his bed again. He’s pretty much lasted since Saturday morning and it’s late Sunday afternoon now, so he’s sure he’s capable of just continuing. Who needs the outside world, anyway? It’s full of assholes. There’s nothing out there for Louis.
“I don’t think you’ve moved since I left earlier,” Harry says. Louis pulls down his duvet from over his face to glare at Harry.
“I haven’t,” Louis confirms. “There’s no reason for me to go on.”
Harry rolls his eyes. “Shove over,” he says, pushing at Louis so he can crawl into the bed. “Cosy. I’ve been letting you be, but do you want to tell me what the fuck’s got you all upset?”
“Where did you go?” Louis asks, because no, he does not want to talk about it.
“Been texting with Nick since yesterday and basically invited myself over to his flat to hang out and watch the Food Network. It was good fun, but there could have been more snogging involved, if you ask me.”
Louis thinks about laughing at that, because it seems amusing and ironic, but can’t bring himself to actually do so. Harry sighs. “Louis, tell me why you’re acting like a five year old who lost their favourite plushie.”
Louis groans and buries his face in Harry’s neck. “I don’t want to.”
“Too bad,” Harry says. Louis sighs.
“I had sex with this guy at the party on Friday night and he was really great and he seemed really nice and then when I asked for his number Saturday morning he told me no and he’s an asshole.” Louis cracks an eye open to gauge Harry’s reaction. It’s pretty gratifying, actually--Harry looks pissed off.
“Who was this?”
“Dunno,” Louis says. “He’s from TKE. His name’s Liam.”
“Liam Payne?” Harry asks.
“Dunno,” he repeats. “Um, brown hair, built, tall, I guess.”
Louis is pretty sure he can hear Harry grinding his teeth. “Yeah, sounds like him. Why would he say no when you offered your number?”
“Because he hates me and thinks I’m a terrible shag,” Louis says. “Why else.”
Harry rolls his eyes. “There’s no way anyone could hate you, and I’m pretty sure you’re not a terrible shag. And--”
“How would you know!”
“And Liam’s always seemed really nice to me. Everyone loves him.”
Louis blinks in surprise. “Wait, you know him?”
“Yeah, he’s in some of my classes. We study together sometimes. And he’s on the swim team, and I think I already mentioned that everyone loves him.”
“Oh,” Louis says. “So clearly he has a girlfriend and I was just some pity fuck.”
Harry shakes his head. “Stop being stupid. He’s not got a girlfriend.”
“That’s almost worse. Harry,” Louis whines.
“It’s not worse,” Harry says. “This means that you still have a chance.”
“Harry,” Louis complains. “I don’t have a chance! He kicked me out into the cold like I was his dirty laundry.”
“That doesn’t even make sense. Anyway, you said he seemed nice before that. We can work with that. You can stalk his swim meets and happen to bump into him and casually befriend him as if you have no idea what sex with him is like.”
“That’ll never work.”
“Shut up, yes it will. Speaking of, by the way, how is sex with Liam? I’ve always vaguely wondered.”
“Ugh, I’m not telling you.”
“It was fucking awesome, wasn’t it? Else you wouldn’t be so hung up on him. I’ve changed my mind, you don’t need to tell me. My imagination’s better.”
“Ugh,” Louis repeats.
Harry laughs. “What do you say to a cuddle movie night? We haven’t had one in, what, a week? Much too long.”
“Yes, please,” Louis says, because he’s definitely not willing to let Harry out of his bed right now. Cuddling is ninety-nine percent of the solution to all his problems, he’s pretty sure.
And Harry’s right, a week without a cuddle movie night is way too long.