When they finally get to the house, Liam half expects Louis to push him through the door and pin him against the wall, or something equally dramatic. But he doesn’t, instead closing the door quietly behind him and standing hesitant and awkward as if he’s waiting for Liam to make the first move. He figures it’s maybe something to do with the fact that Liam is a little (a lot) unpredictable — maybe Louis thinks he’s going to change his mind and throw him out. But he’s not, which is, okay, a little terrifying.
“Um, tea?” Liam asks stupidly, because it’s his default question.
Louis gives him a look like he can’t believe Liam actually just asked that. To be honest, Liam can’t believe he actually just asked that. He scrunches his face up comically and Louis has the audacity to fucking giggle. Which makes Liam kind of furious with him so he pulls on Louis' t-shirt and crashes their lips together just to shut him up. He feels Louis laugh against his lips and sucks on his tongue as if to make a point, running a palm down his spine, and then Louis does pin him against the wall, shoving his leg in-between Liam’s thighs. Liam’s hips jerk against him and all he can think is that this is going to be over far too fast.
Liam tears his lips away, sucking in a breath, and drops his head to Louis’ shoulder. He bites down against his collarbone, and Louis makes an undignified noise that’s almost a whimper and rocks against him, trailing his fingers down to the zip of Liam’s jeans, and fuck, okay.
“We’re not doing this in the hallway,” Liam protests breathlessly.
“Bed?” Louis says, hand still dangerously close.
Liam shakes his head. “My room’s on the third floor.”
“Yeah, okay, fuck that,” Louis says. He drags Liam through to the living room, fingers twisting in his shirt as they manoeuvre clumsily to the sofa and fall down into the cushions with their legs tangled. Louis pushes Liam down beneath him and rolls his hips achingly slow, and Liam makes a choked desperate sound in the back of his throat and arches up. He curls his fingers into Louis’ hair and just breathes, gasping sounds against Louis’ lips.
He stares up at Louis’ eyes for a moment, focused and dark but almost glittering, too (and he thinks of Louis like that a lot, maybe a little dark, but bright too; always bright, even with the dark), but then Louis rolls his hips again and Liam groans, squeezing his eyes tight-shut. He mumbles breathily, “Lou, Louis,” and “Please just—” and Louis covers his mouth and kisses him fitfully, swallowing down anything Liam might have been going to say. Liam doesn’t even know what he was going to say. Just. Don’t ever stop. Maybe.
Louis doesn’t stop anyway, he leans back, pulling off his stupid Superman t-shirt (how does he even still have that?) and throwing it to the floor somewhere before ridding Liam of his own shirt, and Liam spreads his hands over skin as Louis kisses him hard and mumbles words into his mouth that Liam can’t quite make out. He rubs at Liam’s cock through his jeans and Liam tightens his fingers in his hair and whispers, “Fuck, you need to—”, because he just really, really needs Louis to touch him now, because he’s not entirely sure how much longer he’s going to last and— Louis seems to understand, though, because then he’s popping the button on Liam’s jeans and pulling them down and off.
“I want—” Louis breathes, staring, and Liam frowns and says, “You want what?” strained and stupid and needy, but he doesn’t really care. Louis answers his question whole-heartedly, kissing a scattered line down Liam’s chest, his fingers digging bruises into Liam’s hips. Liam lets his head fall back and barely even has a chance to breathe before Louis’ mouth is on his cock, licking a stripe up and then taking him in. He pushes his hips up as much as Louis allows, and he’s quite sure he’s babbling ridiculous, stupid things about how much he’s missed Louis’ mouth, fuck, and Louis, too, obviously, all of Louis and. It really doesn’t take long at all until his vision goes hazy and he’s shaking everywhere, twisting his hands in Louis' hair. He comes with Louis’ name heavy on his tongue and Louis swallows down all he can.
Louis pulls off slowly and rests his head against Liam’s stomach. “Mmmm, missed you too,” he breathes, and Liam closes his eyes and falls back into the cushions, and he can hear his heart loud in his ears as he tries to breathe.
He waits a moment, until Louis’ crawling up and rocking against him, and then pulls him the rest of the way and kisses him slow and deliberate. Louis melts into it, pushing down his hips and mumbling a “Please,” into Liam’s mouth.
Liam grabs at his arms and it takes most of his strength to clumsily twist them around and push Louis down beneath him, getting a hand between them to flick open his jeans and half slide them down. Louis helpfully kicks them off the rest of the way, and Liam wraps his hand around his cock, stroking slowly. Louis half-moans and half says something that sounds like it could be Liam’s name and presses his face into Liam’s shoulder, mouthing at the skin there. Liam speeds up steadily until Louis’ shaking and breathing out Liam’s name on a blurred loop. He tightens his grip and Louis jerks up into his hand and groans out something not entirely intelligible before coming all over his stomach. He grabs at Liam’s hair and finds his lips, sliding his tongue easy into Liam’s mouth and Liam kisses him through it, warm and wet.
Liam lets out a shallow breath, falling into Louis’ shoulder and just lying there for a moment, head fuzzy. He blindly grabs for the throw-blanket-thing from the back of the sofa and pulls it over them and then rests his forehead against Louis’. He thinks there must be something in his eyes, though, because Louis looks up and says shakily after a moment, “Don’t leave.”
Liam lets out a breath. “I’m not. But I kind of need to—” He leans over, off the sofa and grabs for one of their discarded t-shirts, cleaning up the sticky mess from Louis’ stomach.
“’S my Superman t-shirt, you twat,” Louis mumbles as Liam tosses it aside. Liam laughs quiet and breathless before burying his face into Louis’ neck and closing his eyes, and they lie there silent for a while.
“I’m going to have to wash all my cushion-covers,” he says slowly after a pause.
Louis laughs. “Tomorrow.” He shuffles over then, moving Liam off him and half sitting up. Liam makes a slow, disapproving sound and tries to pull him back down.
“Nope, come on, move,” Louis says.
Liam frowns. “Why?”
“Because,” Louis says, giving him a determined look, “I’m not sleeping here, this sofa’s dead fucking uncomfy and you have a bed, somewhere.”
“Is it?” Liam questions curiously. “Huh. Maybe I’m just used to it.”
“Get up,” Louis whines, pulling on Liam’s arm, and Liam really, really doesn’t want to move and climb stairs, but okay.
“Okay, I’m moving,” Liam says resentfully. He pulls himself up slowly and grabs the blanket from Louis, wrapping it around him, because it’s cold and if Louis’ making him move he can be cold while he's doing it. Louis glares but Liam pointedly ignores him and drags him to the stairs.
When they get to Liam’s room after a particularly taxing – and unnecessary, Liam thinks – trip up a lot of stairs (“Why the fuck did you decide your bedroom should be on the third floor? Where is the logic, Liam?”), Liam falls into bed immediately, Louis crawling in and curling up next to him a moment later.
“You’re not—” Louis starts carefully. “Like, you’re not going to hate me in the morning are you?”
Liam pulls up the covers and presses himself into Louis’ side. “No.”
“Okay,” Louis breathes. He runs his hand down Liam’s arm slowly, feather-light touches over where the bandages are. Liam shivers involuntarily.
“Take them off,” Louis mumbles against him, his fingers tugging lightly on the frayed edges. Liam shakes his head though, closing his eyes.
Louis sighs, breathing out against Liam’s shoulder. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, Li. Besides, your arms need to like breathe or something. Do they even heal if they never see the light of day?”
Liam frowns. “It’s night.”
“Shut up, you know what I mean,” Louis says, nudging his arm gently. Liam sighs hazy and tired. He opens his eyes and twists around slowly, extending out his arms across Louis’ chest. Louis seems to get his meaning and he pulls gently at the edges and unravels, taking off the bandages carefully. He lays his fingers just there and Liam doesn’t protest.
“There,” Louis says. “Better?”
“Better.” Liam hums sleepily, closing his eyes and pressing his face into Louis’ shoulder, and then says quietly, “’m gonna stop, okay?”
He vaguely registers Louis’s quiet, “Okay,” and the soft kiss he presses to the inside of his wrist before he falls asleep.
Liam wakes up at half three in the am because now his body-clock’s apparently very confused, too used to not-sleeping until the early hours. He blames Louis. Fuck. Louis. He blinks in the dark and rubs a hand over his eyes and turns around, determined to not panic. Louis’ fast asleep and curled into Liam’s side, hair sticking up everywhere; he looks stupidly beautiful and Liam kind of wants to wake him up just so he can kiss him, and, okay. Okay, so, Liam panics maybe a little bit. He slowly unhooks Louis’ arm from around his waist and pulls himself up and out of bed, clambering around in the dark for some form of clothing and the nice, warm fleece blanket. It takes him approximately too long but he finds a pair of probably unwashed jogging bottoms and the blanket on the edge of the bed, then he crosses the room in three strides and pads downstairs and into the kitchen, flicking the kettle on to try and quell the slow-rising fear.
He stands listening to the whir of the kettle for maybe ten seconds before he breaks, rushing through to the living room and grabbing his car keys -- and he maybe needs to find some shoes, too, and a t-shirt and probably a coat but. He gets to the front door and realises abruptly that this is ridiculous. He’s not doing this. He refuses. So against everything screaming at him he goes back into the kitchen and makes tea. Because that’s good and familiar and not-life-changing in a way that makes his skin try to crawl away.
Five minutes later he’s sitting at the breakfast bar, one hand nursing his tea, the other texting Zayn.
plz convince me not to leave Lou in my bed and drive somewhere farrrr and yes I no its 3:30am xx
Liam gets a reply not five minutes later.
if you were going to leave you’d have done it already. Xx
Liam stares at the text for a while. Oh. He gulps down some tea and frowns, typing a reply.
nearly did xx
He sighs and sets his phone down, drumming his fingers nervously on the counter until it vibrates.
but you didnt. so calm down hv some tea n fucking go back upstairs n tell him you love him so we can both go bk to sleep k? Xx
Liam half laughs at that.
k maybe thanks and sorry for waking u <3 xx
His phone goes off again just a minute later.
Niall says hi n goodnite n also that he loves me. think hes mostly asleep xx
Liam grins, or more full on beams.
Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!! love you both xx
“Hey,” Louis says from nowhere, standing tentatively in the doorway just as Liam’s setting his phone down, and Liam jumps, almost knocking his tea over, “so there you are.”
Louis smiles small, and he’s trying to hide it but Liam can hear the relief clear in his voice.
“Thought I’d run away?” Liam jokes, almost, as Louis crosses the room carefully stepping over the glass that Liam still needs to bloody clean up and pulling out the stool next to him. He sits down and Liam can’t help but notice that his eyes are anxious.
There’s a pause before Louis says, “Well, you know.”
“Yeah,” Liam says, “I know.”
“You’re not…” Louis trails off, leaning forward and tapping his fingers nervously against his leg.
Liam frowns. “What?”
Louis takes a breath. “You’re not, like, going to run away are you?”
“Um, no, I don’t think so?” Liam says, and he doesn’t really mean for it to sound like a question, but it does anyway. Louis notices, his eyes getting steadily sad and hurt.
“Okay,” he says slowly, “but you want to?”
“I thought about it,” Liam admits quietly, because he doesn’t really want to lie. He figures lying about this is probably counter-productive to the whole working things out thing they’re trying, so he just. Doesn’t. Because he wants to try, and he thinks he probably just needs to lay everything out, because okay, he maybe thought about running, he maybe even picked up his car keys and walked to the door, but. But he didn’t leave and he needs Louis to get that.
“I think I just,” Liam starts, waving his hands and trying to find the words. “I just needed to almost-leave to figure out that I don’t actually want to?”
Louis stares at him, like he’s not really sure what he should say. “So you… don’t want to?”
Liam shakes his head, and says with an assurance that scares him just a little bit, “No. I don’t want to.”
Louis lets out a breath and smiles small. “Okay. Okay, well, that’s good.”
Liam doesn’t know what he thinks it is yet, other than entirely unnerving, but he smiles too because he wants Louis to know that he’s in this, whatever it is. He’s in it.
“It’s something anyway,” he says.
Louis considers him carefully. “I know all the shit’s not just going to like stop just because we’re working things out, I don’t think it’s going to make it all okay, for either of us. I’m not naïve, okay.”
Liam grins. “Naïve. Have you been reading a dictionary?”
Louis pouts. “Says the one who can’t spell,” he challenges, eyes smiling.
“I can spell,” Liam protests, “I just choose not to.”
Louis rolls his eyes. “Yeah, okay. Shut up, you’re changing the subject.”
“Sorry,” Liam says quietly. He wasn’t really trying to intentionally change the subject but he’s willing to concede that maybe he was on a subconscious level, because this is territory he doesn’t really want to acknowledge even exists.
Louis seems to get that though, because his voice is careful and considerate when he says, “I don’t think it’s going to make everything okay, but maybe it’ll help some?” He pauses for a moment, fingers tapping nervously against his leg again. “I’d rather try and get to okay with you than try to get to it without you, if that makes sense.”
Liam nods slowly. “Zayn said something, I think he thought he was being profound or something, about how we can’t fix each other but we’ll probably only want to fix ourselves if we’re together.”
“Zayn can be profound sometimes?” Louis says, smiling. “Who knew?”
“I just don’t—” Liam starts hesitantly.
Louis eyes flash with something Liam thinks might be fear. “What?”
“I don’t know if that’s a valid reason to be together.” Liam shrugs, not even sure he’s making any kind of sense.
Louis looks almost like he’s thinking about it for a moment, but then he shrugs too and says sincerely, “I don’t know. But like, I love you, kind of a lot, so that’s maybe a valid reason?”
Liam stares at him for a moment and he almost wants to say that it wasn’t enough before, so why would it be now? But he doesn’t really believe that, not this time. So instead he leans across, grabbing at Louis’ shoulders and presses their lips together, and Louis opens up to it, letting Liam slide his tongue between his lips. Liam kisses him warm and real and certain just to make sure Louis gets it.
When Louis breaks the kiss, humming happily and almost starting to say something, Liam says quickly and probably too quietly, “I love you too, you know.”
Louis laughs a beat. “I know.”
“Shut up, okay.” Liam buries his head in Louis’ shoulder and mumbles against his skin, “I just. Realised I hadn’t said it back yet and. Yeah.”
“Yeah,” Louis echoes. Liam breathes against Louis’ shoulder for a moment and waits for things to slow down. When they have, he lifts his head.
“I love you,” he says again, louder this time, maybe trying to make up for his entire lack of saying it, he’s not sure.
“I love you, too,” Louis says, standing up and extending his hand, “but can we go back to bed now because it’s like four am and four am is sleeping time.”
Liam shrugs. “Is it? I’m usually watching horribly bad horror films and eating Party Rings at four am, so I wouldn’t know.”
Louis laughs, stupid and sleepy. “You are the party, Liam Payne,” he says.
Liam doesn’t even know what that means but he’s too stuck on Louis’ laugh to even glare fondly. He grabs Louis’ hand, pulling himself up and thinks, as Louis leads him back upstairs, that he really just wants to be able to keep making Louis laugh like that for maybe the rest of his life, instead of making him sad. But mostly he wants to kiss him and keep kissing him until Louis understands that he wants to try. Even on the days where Liam feels horrible and miserable and maybe doesn’t want to be alive, he wants to try to want to be, and that’s more than he’s ever been able to offer before.
05. don’t say it’s too late, if you blink your eyes the sun is rising
When Liam wakes up in the actual morning, where there’s sunlight and birds and other actual morning-like things, Louis’ wrapped around him, face buried into his neck and mouthing small half-kisses on his skin. Liam shifts, opening his eyes fully, and pushes Louis off him so he can kiss him properly, slow and lazy.
Louis hums against his lips and then pulls away and says, “So, hey.”
“Hey,” Liam mumbles, still not quite awake.
Louis pushes the covers down and shifts his weight, almost crawling on top of him, and Liam achingly thinks I’ve missed this as Louis leans down and kisses him again, sucking Liam’s bottom lip into his mouth. And, okay, Liam’s maybe awake now, leaning up and curling his arm around Louis’ neck and making an embarrassingly needy sound when Louis’ hands wander south, and then out of fucking nowhere, Louis’ phone vibrates loudly on the bedside table and Liam makes a despairing sort of sound as Louis curses and leans over to glance at the screen.
“It’s like he knows,” Louis says hopelessly.
Liam laughs. “Don’t answer it.”
Louis tosses his phone on the carpet and grabs at the duvet, throwing it on top of it and smothering the sound a little. “Wasn’t going to.”
Liam pulls him back down, dragging him into another kiss. Except Louis’ phone insists on going off another three times and Liam rolls his eyes fondly and says, “Answer it.”
Louis sighs but then hangs over the side of the bed, searching under the duvet and answering it, flicking on loudspeaker this time.
“Hello, Harold, Señor Cockblocker,” Louis greets monotonously.
“Oh,” Harry says loudly, laughing, “Sorry. You answered though, mate, your fault.”
“Because you rang four times, you arse,” Louis says. “You’re on loudspeaker by the way.”
“Oh cool. Hey, Liam!” Harry says happily.
Liam smiles, even though Harry can’t see. “Alright, Harry?”
Harry makes a noise of agreement and then, “I’m calling because we’re coming over.”
Louis frowns. “Okay, we as in?”
“Myself, Zayn and Niall, we liaised,” Harry tells him proudly, “I’m going to Zayn’s now and I think Niall’s already there, then we’re coming over in a bit and we’re all going to bond over Top Model, like the old days.”
“Uh, okay,” Liam says, because even if he says no they’ll turn up anyway, because that’s just who they are.
“Define a bit,” Louis says casually and shrugs at Liam, grinning.
“Oh, I see,” Harry says knowingly. “Hour or so?”
Liam frowns. “Make it two?”
Harry clicks his tongue. “Okay, fine. See you in two hours-ish, go do… whatever. I don’t want to know. In a bit, lads.”
Harry hangs up and Louis tosses his phone back in the general vicinity of the floor, and then he’s pushing Liam back down into the bed and mumbling something about two hours.
“Probably an hour, really, or less,” Liam says, because they actually have to get dressed and he needs to call Krista and there’s still glass all over the kitchen that he never cleaned up and. Liam pulls Louis down into a kiss then and shuts his brain off, and Louis smiles against his lips, kissing him back hard like he’s accepting the challenge.
Liam calls Krista when Louis’ in the shower, lying across the bed and staring at the ceiling. He can distantly hear Louis singing something—it sounds suspiciously like a One Direction song, but he can’t really be sure, too far away to tell.
“Liam, what a surprise,” Krista answers after several rings.
“You took ages to answer,” Liam accuses.
Krista laughs. “Well, see, I have this thing called a life, you should try it.”
“I maybe am?” Liam offers.
“Is this about Louis?” Krista asks carefully.
“Yes, no. I. Yes,” he finally manages, and Krista waits patiently. Liam takes a breath and tries to condense the last forty-eight hours into five minutes, because he doesn’t want to have to talk about yelling and breaking glasses and all-too-familiar bars and I’ve loved you since Australia and sleeping with Louis who he loves really a lot, shit, for longer than he really has to.
“Okay,” Krista says when he’s done. “Okay, that’s—wow. And you’re calling because you want me to talk you out of panicking and running away or similar?”
“No, it’s just. He’s okay now, he’s singing in the shower, but what about when I have a really bad day, or he has a really bad day, and—”
“Liam, you’re going to end up going in circles,” Krista cuts in, “this is how it ended the way it did the first time.”
Liam sighs, he knows that.
“Okay,” Krista says determinedly, “I probably shouldn’t tell you he’s not going to leave you, because well, I’m not psychic and it’s probably not professional. But Liam, he’s not going to leave you.”
Liam doesn’t say anything for maybe a minute, and then slowly manages, “Okay.”
“I don’t know him,” Krista continues, “I don’t know anything about him other than what you’ve told me and what the internet’s told me. But I know that he’s never left you. He made a lot of shitty mistakes and I’m not condoning them, but even when he was suffering too and it was probably healthier for him to leave you, he didn’t. It was always you that did the leaving, and I know it was because you thought that he would eventually. But Liam, if he still hasn’t left after all this time, he’s not going to. If that’s not proof enough, honey, I don’t know what is.”
Liam opens his mouth but he doesn’t really know what to say, clinging tightly to the phone. He takes a slow breath and then says eventually, “Thanks. I probably needed to hear that.”
“Yeah well,” Krista says dismissively, “it’s my job to know what to say, but also, I mean it, and it sounds like he does too, so why are you still on the phone to me?”
“Okay, I’m going,” Liam says, and then adds: “do I still get a sticker?”
Krista laughs. “I’ll go out and buy a pretty, shiny one especially. Go, and we’ll rendezvous on Wednesday at our usual place. Meaning my office.”
“Thanks,” Liam says again, and Krista hangs up.
Harry, Zayn and Niall show up almost on time, ringing the buzzer and all talking at once when Liam mutters a, “Do you really have nowhere better to be?” into the receiver. He buzzes them in anyway because they’ll only break the door down if he doesn’t, and Harry practically flies through the door, locking his arms tightly around Liam.
“You ever ignore me for a whole year again, Payne, I will cut off your tea supply,” he mumbles into Liam’s shoulder.
Liam doesn’t really get a chance to reply before Harry’s pulling away and thrusting a plastic container in his face. “We made Congratulations on Getting Your Shit Together cupcakes instead of a cake cake.”
“By we,” Zayn says from somewhere behind him, “he means me and Niall.
Niall grins next to him. “Yeah, he just sat there and threw flour at us.”
Harry shrugs. “I don’t like baking.”
“You used to work in a bakery,” Zayn argues.
“When I was sixteen, and I didn’t like it much, I mostly threw flour about then, too,” Harry says, digging Zayn lightly in the side. “Where’s Louis?”
“I think he’s in the living room, he was on the phone to his sponsor,” Liam says.
Harry nods. “Oh, good.”
“Living room’s through there,” Liam says, pointing the way, and Harry and Niall go ahead, animatedly discussing which cycle of Top Model they should start with.
Zayn hangs back a moment and then pulls on Liam’s arm, dragging him into a tight hug. Liam holds on and closes his eyes tight, breathing into it. “How you doing, mate? Really?”
Liam shrugs. “I feel calm at the minute, but. I talked to Krista for a bit before and it helped, I think.”
“Good,” Zayn says. “Just, you know, when you start to not feel calm, don’t shut him out, yeah?”
Liam leans his head against Zayn’s shoulder. “Yeah,” he breathes.
Zayn presses his fingers comfortingly against Liam’s neck and says, “You’re doing good.”
Liam lets out a breath. “I’m trying.”
Zayn smiles carefully and then pulls on Liam’s hand. “Come on. Top Model?” he says.
Liam nods and Zayn drags him through to the living room. Niall’s lying across one of the sofas, already demolishing a cupcake.
“You’re eating Louis’ one, it’s stripy,” Harry protests.
“I fucking made them,” Niall shoots back. Zayn mutters an agreement and then all but falls onto Niall, grabbing for a cupcake, and Liam smiles.
Louis’ stretched across the other sofa with his head on Harry’s lap, tapping into his phone, and Liam grabs at his arm pulling him up off Harry so he can squeeze into the space between them, and Louis lies with his head in Liam’s lap instead. Harry pouts at Louis and says, “I see how it is.”
“Oh, shut up,” Louis says, and then a moment later: “Brace yourselves, lads, I just tweeted.”
Liam frowns, and not a minute later his phone vibrates with a notification.
@Louis_Tomlinson: Hang time with @Real_Liam_Payne, @Harry_Styles, @zaynmalik and @NiallOfficial!! Been too long!! #1DReunion
“And twitter explodes in five, four, three…” Harry says, peering over at Louis’ phone.
“Did we decide on a Top Model cycle?” Niall asks.
“Dunno, but I vote cycle two” Louis comments.
Harry shakes his head. “But All Stars, mate.”
Louis and Harry argue their corners for about a minute before Louis turns to Liam and tells him to decide because it’s his house, and Harry protests loudly because unfair advantage. Liam mostly doesn’t care so they end up watching cycle two anyway, because yeah, Louis has an unfair advantage.
Mostly though, they half watch it, talking over it and pausing their conversation every so often to mock the really terrible photoshoots or to yell at Tyra, because she tells them every single week, they know what the fucking prizes are, okay.
They’re on maybe the fifth or sixth week when Zayn asks happily, “Anyone fancy a cuppa?”
Liam watches Zayn and Niall communicate with their eyes and he maybe feels a little put out, because that’s his and Zayn’s thing, but he figures he can maybe let Niall have that, too. Liam has enough of Zayn really.
Louis and Harry both answer a sound yes and Liam nods, stuck a little on being flat out confused, because he’s the one who makes the tea. He always makes the tea. Or at least it confuses him until Niall puts in emphatically, “I’ll help you!” and then it makes sense.
“Oh, come on!” Louis says to the television as Zayn and Niall hastily vacate the room. “You know that was the wrong decision, Tyra, ugh.”
Harry rolls his eyes next to Liam. “We’ve watched this cycle about five times, Lou, I don’t know why it still surprises you.”
“Well, because!” Louis splutters. “She didn’t deserve to go home, she was totally robbed.”
Liam laughs against Louis’ shoulder and lays a comforting hand on his back. “Maybe next time we re-watch it she won’t be eliminated.”
“You say that every time,” Louis says sadly, and it’s almost funny, because Liam thinks the last time they re-watched it was probably three years ago.
“I can’t watch,” Louis says, “I’m going to go get food, do you have food?”
“I have biscuits?” Liam offers. He thinks they’re probably the only thing he does have, though. He makes a note to do some shopping because he concedes that if this thing of maybe hanging out together again is going to be a regular thing, he should shop.
Louis says, “They’ll have to do then,” and pulls himself up, leaving Liam’s side cold and he and Harry alone, which Liam doesn’t want to admit makes him uneasy but it kind of does.
“Louis’ right,” Harry says, “she shouldn’t have been eliminated.”
Liam is going to respond with a casual agreement but what comes out instead is, “Is this—I mean, are we alright?”
Harry peels his eyes from the television and looks across at Liam questioningly. “Eh?”
“I just didn’t know whether you’re angry with me maybe,” Liam says.
“I’m not. Liam, don’t be an idiot, we’re mates,” Harry says, eyes soft. “We always were. I was never angry at just you, I was angry at both of you. In fact, I was probably more sad than angry. Yeah, Louis’ my best mate, but you all are, and watching two of my best mates break and knowing I could only help one was… really shit. Don’t think it was easy just because I was that bit closer to Louis.”
“Okay,” Liam says, breathing out the word gratefully.
Harry wraps his arm around Liam and pulls him against him then, and Liam lets his head fall on Harry’s shoulder, closing his eyes and leaning into him in a sort of side-hug.
Harry sighs and rests his head against Liam’s. “I’m not stupid, Liam. I mean, I’m glad you idiots are figuring things out and stuff but I know it doesn’t magically fix everything and make it all better. But, mate, you’re both stronger than you think you are.”
Liam shrugs. “Maybe.”
“You are, so shut up, you’re here and you’re together and you have us, all of us this time. Baby steps, yeah?” Harry says.
“Yeah,” Liam agrees, just as Louis bounds back in carrying three packets of Party Rings triumphantly. He takes in Harry’s arm around Liam and stops.
“Am I interrupting a moment?” he asks, a small smile on his lips.
“Nope,” Harry says, “no moments. Just Liam being an idiot.”
“Oh,” Louis says, frowning. “Okay, well, good. I don’t really want to have to go back in the kitchen because when I walked in, Zayn and Niall were kissing. Is that a thing now?”
Harry’s eyes go wide, and Liam laughs and says, “Yeah, I think so?”
“We’re the gayest band ever,” Louis comments, opening a packet of Party Rings and sitting back down, curling up against Liam and feeding him a purple Party Ring with his mouth, as if to prove his own point. Liam doesn’t complain.
Louis smiles, then says, “Oh, and #1DReunion’s trending worldwide on twitter. Success!”
Louis corners Liam later when the sky’s pitch-black and Zayn and Niall have retreated to one of the spare rooms, Harry stretched asleep across the sofa.
They’re in the kitchen, Liam staring at the kettle blankly while it boils.
“You’ve been quiet for the last two hours,” Louis says from behind him, resting his chin on Liam’s shoulder.
“Just tired,” Liam says.
Louis shakes his head. “Liar.”
Liam turns around and he thinks he should have known Louis wouldn’t accept that answer. Louis tilts his head, waiting, and leans his hands against the counter either side of Liam, blocking him in.
“Psychologically tired?” Liam offers as an amendment.
Louis moves like he’s going to kiss him but he doesn’t, stopping just short, and Liam’s almost disappointed.
“It’s just weird,” Liam says finally into the small space between them, “being the five of us again. I think I got too used to just me and Zayn, and well, sometimes Niall and now—now it’s like it’s all back to how it was and we’ve all made some kind of silent agreement to not talk about what happened and. I don’t know.”
“Why do we need to? Shit happened, we split, well sort of, and whatever. It happened and no one wants to talk about it because it was shitty and horrible,” Louis says, shrugging, and Liam gets that. He’s not really sure they need to talk about it either, it’s just weird that they don’t. But then they’ve always been that way, Liam thinks.
“We could probably all say sorry and hug it out though,” Louis adds as an afterthought.
Liam smiles. “Yeah, maybe. It’s just, it feels like a lot of pressure, being One Direction again.”
Louis frowns. “It’s not—no one’s expecting us to go into the studio tomorrow, you know. We don’t have to figure that out now, we’re not even being 1D now, we’re just being us. Bros before… bandmates.”
“That doesn’t even make sense,” Liam points out.
Louis shrugs. “It did in my head.”
“Everything does,” Liam says fondly, and Louis does kiss him then, mumbling a shut up against his lips.
Louis breaks the kiss after a moment but doesn’t completely pull away, hovering too close. He opens his mouth as if to speak but closes it more or less immediately, and he looks almost like he’s having some kind of epic internal debate with himself.
“Do you want to come home with me for Christmas?” he says eventually, breathing the words out quickly.
“Um,” Liam starts but then stops, because he’s not really sure what the right answer is. He knows what he wants to say but he thinks that maybe Christmas with Louis’ family (who probably don’t hate him, because well, it’s Louis’ family, but he figures they maybe at least hold a little resentment) might be a bit too much.
“They don’t hate you,” Louis says carefully, and okay Liam forgets sometimes that Louis has an uncanny ability to read his mind.
“You don’t have to,” Louis says, quickly backtracking, eyes down, and—
“No,” Liam says certainly, because if they’re doing this they’re going to do it properly, “no, I want to.”
Louis smiles hopefully. “Yeah?”
Liam nods. “Yeah.”
Louis pulls him into a slow kiss then, and Liam kisses him back and thinks that, okay, this really isn’t going to be easy, and maybe they don’t know if they’ll ever make music together again, and maybe he and Louis will have to spend the rest of their lives going to weekly (bi-weekly, monthly, who even knows) therapy sessions or AA meetings, and maybe they’ll have more bad days than good days, and maybe they’ll even fight and fuck it all up again, but Liam knows that he’d rather be here with Louis and the uncertainty, than back where he was without him.
Four months later.
In 2012, One Direction were taking the world by storm, with a Number 1 album, and a sold-out world tour, they were almost unstoppable. But two more Number 1 albums and too many tours later, the strain got the better of them, and just a year after the world-famous boyband announced an indefinite hiatus, members Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson were hospitalised and admitted to rehab, respectively. Now, for the first time since their sort-of split two years ago, we talk to all five of them about their past, their present and their possible future.
Q: Hello lads! It’s good to see you back together and smiling. How are you all?
Louis: It’s good to be back together.
Harry: Yeah, good, we’re good. We’re—
Zayn: Getting there.
Harry: Yeah, we’re getting there.
Liam: Still getting used to it being the five of us again. But it’s really great.
Niall: We missed each other quite a bit, I think.
Harry: Yeah, took us a long while to admit it but. Yeah.
Louis: Stubborn ****s, the lot of us!
Q: There’s been many a rumour that One Direction will soon be officially off hiatus. Can you confirm that?
Harry: We’ve talked about it. We all went back to the bungalow for a couple of weeks last month, which I think was good for us. It got us used to being back together and, it’s just a really special place for us. We talked a lot of things through, had a good time, did a bit of writing, and yeah, I think it’s officially on the cards.
Niall: We’re getting the band back together, lads! I’ve always wanted to say that.
Q: You’ve been through a lot of hard times, both as a band and individually, do you think the worst is behind you?
Zayn: I don’t know if it’s easy as that. But we’re hoping this is the start of better things.
Harry: We’ve all been through a lot, maybe some of us more than others, but I think it’s important that we have each other and this time we know what not to do. Hopefully this run will be smoother!
Niall: Yeah. We’ve definitely learnt a lot! It took us a long time to get to where we are now, so for now we’re mostly focusing on being friends again because that’s the most important part.
Liam: Speaking for me, I’m not okay, but it’s something I’m learning to live with and I have the best support network in these lads. I think it’ll take some time to [balance] it all, and realise that actually it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to have a bad day, and no one’s going to hate me for it.
Louis: I think we’re just gonna take each day as it comes, you know? Like, we’re not planning anything, just sort of doing some writing and recording and seeing where it takes us, we don’t want to jump back into touring and promo and all of that straightaway and get burnt out before we’ve even started! Like Liam said, we’re not all okay but we’re living with it and learning how to deal with it better than we did in the past.
Q: You said you want to focus first and foremost on being friends again, implying there was a time when you weren’t, is that an accurate statement?
Niall: I wouldn’t say we ever weren’t friends. I mean, not in the sense that we hated each other or anything like that. Things were just a bit shaky for a while.
Liam: Because of what was going on with me and Louis, I think the other lads felt sort of split between the two of us. But it was never that any of us hated each other or didn’t want to be friends. The circumstances just made it difficult.
Zayn: It was a bit like we had to pick a side. But not in a horrible way, in a way that they both needed someone to support them.
Niall: I was the go-between!
Q: Louis, you’ve been sober over a year now, congratulations!
Harry: We’re all really proud!
Louis: Thanks! Yeah, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle, but I feel okay most days, and everyone’s really supportive. It’s something that I think’s important to talk about.
Liam: Yeah, we don’t want to shy away from the past. I think it’s really important to talk about what we’ve been through, and the response we’ve got from fans has been really incredible. We want to encourage people to talk about what they’re going through and get the help they need.
Q: Liam and Louis, there’s been a lot of talk that you have rekindled your romance, is there any truth to that?
Louis: You know, I think there’s only so much of your personal life that you should share with the world, and we learnt that the hard way, so I’m not going to say anything other than yes! We’re working on it.
Liam: Yeah, I think back before the hiatus, we all kind of lost ourselves a bit to the pressure and the exhaustion amongst other things, and our relationship didn’t survive it, but. I love Louis, a lot, and I wasn’t okay with letting that go, so we’re definitely working on it.
Louis: Awww, stop, you’re making me blush!
Q: Is this the end of What the Folk?
Louis: I think so. Harry?
Harry: I think What the Folk? has served its purpose? It was something that we [Louis and Harry] needed at that point in time; it was a coping thing I guess. I love the material we came out with and I’ll always be proud of it. But our hearts lie in One Direction.
Q: Louis, you wrote most of the lyrics for What the Folk? Does this mean you might be writing on the new 1D material?
Louis: I think we’re all going to have a hand in writing. Like we said, we’ve already been writing some stuff and it’s been a joint effort, so I think there’ll be something from everyone.
Q: To veer away from the serious questions for a minute. Is your fashion-style going to change? I know everyone wants to know whether Louis’ going to ditch the stripes.
Harry: I think you’ve actually offended him. It’s kind of like suggesting I cut my hair.
Q: Louis and Harry, will you be incorporating any of your folk-esque music into the new 1D sound?
Louis: [laughs] Definitely not!
Q: You’ve matured a bit over the past couple of years, do you think your music will mature too?
Liam: I don’t know. I think, because we’ve been through a lot, there’ll probably be an element of it in the music and the lyrics. But really we just want to have fun. One Direction was fun for us once upon a time, and we want to bring some of that back too. I don’t know. Lads?
Harry: Yeah I don’t know. Obviously we’re all 22, 23, 24 now, but we’re still growing up, we’re still you know, figuring life out, which is something you’ll probably hear in our music.
Zayn: Very philosophical, Harry.
Niall: [mockingly] Philosophical.
Q: So what can we expect from One Direction in the coming months?
Niall: We’re going on a skiing holiday soon!
Louis: 1D Ski. It’s the official trip name. We’re inventive.
Zayn: Yeah. So, expect lots of snow and slopes. We’re actually thinking of putting together a video diary while we’re there. Liam might even do a twitcam.
Louis: The long-awaited return of Liam’s twitcams! Guest-starring Louis Tomlinson, maybe. Musically, though, I don’t know, we’re just seeing where it takes us.
Harry: Yeah, we’ve not got a schedule or any kind of plan. We don’t want to jump straight in the deep end, I think we need some time to chill, so. It might be a year before we put anything out. The label’s given us free reign so we’re just gonna do what feels right, no rush, no worries.
Louis: [Singing Hakuna Matata from The Lion King soundtrack]
Q: Okay, I think we’re done here! Any parting words?
Louis: [singing] It means no worries for the rest of your days!
Niall: [singing] It’s a problem free philosophy!
Louis: [still singing] Hakuna Matata!
Harry: We’d also like to thank everyone for their continued support.
Liam: Yeah, the support has been overwhelming. We wouldn’t be doing this without the fans.
Zayn: Keep an eye on our Youtube channel for video diaries and updates or whatever, and twitter, if watching Liam talk about nothing on Twitcam for hours is your thing.
Louis: Why wouldn’t it be?
Liam: And if you’re going through a hard time, don’t give up, keep fighting, because you’re not alone and it gets better.
Louis: Over and out!
notes: posting this was kind of terrifying, because basically i have had a horrible, horrible past few weeks and writing this has been my therapy, so. it was only meant to be ten thousand words but ended up being a lot more because it had to be and, ugh. so if you’ve read it, i thank you whole-heartedly because it means a lot. also, all the thanks in the world go to my bff, megan, who betaed for me. she is the best cheerleader and the best friend and was available for hand-holding through the whole writing process and managed to convince me that it was worth posting. she is the shiniest of shiny stars. (and i will bake you those cupcakes, lovely!) also! massive thanks to bloodbelieve who came up with louis and harry's band name what the folk! <3
also, when i first started writing this, i mostly wrote it while listening to psychobabble by frou frou on repeat and it sort of became an unofficial theme song for it? so yeah, give it a listen if you want, it's a great song.