This story will be posted in two parts because it’s longish for a blog. First part today, second part Monday, so you don’t have to wait long to finish it.
A friend was telling me about Harry Styles’s new album. He used to be in 1D (One Direction). He may still be, but he’s apparently taking a break to work on some of his own stuff. Anyway, I got to thinking about what it might be like for him and Louis ten years from now, and this story is the result.
You do not have to know anything about them, the band, or their relationship to read and enjoy this. All the info you need is in the story.
Author’s note: A big shoutout and my thanks to JC, who was extremely helpful with 1D tidbits I would never have known, and to Allison and Helena, for beta’ing this.
I stopped by the hotel bar for a drink, turned around, and there he was.
For a moment I couldn’t believe it, then my stomach plummeted like it did when I rode the roller coaster, making me feel that odd combination of sick and exhilarated.
He was talking to a woman, smiling and relaxed, and memories rushed through me. Even all these years later, I wasn’t ready for this. I ducked my head and slid away. Fuck the drink. I’d open one of the mini bottles in the room.
I froze, pasted on a smile, and faced him. “Louis. Imagine running into you here.”
“Weird, eh?” His delight at seeing me seemed totally natural. “I’d heard you were doing a gig tomorrow night.”
I nodded, still wishing I was elsewhere. “On tour. Sometimes it seems endless.”
He nudged me. “You always loved being on stage.”
So had he, and he wasn’t any longer. He’d given up performing several years ago. Hell, he didn’t even sing anymore. Someone told me he’d bought a place in Doncaster, was writing songs, and raising kids.
“Harry, this is my wife, Giselle. Giselle, Harry. You know, from the band.”
“The band,” One Direction, had been our lives for years. He had been my life for years. I still didn’t understand what had gone wrong between us. Maybe I never would.
I nodded at her. She was pretty, but of course she would be. Louis was prettier, though. The smile lines were a little more prominent, but his hair was as thick as ever and his blue eyes still clear and direct. Marriage seemed to agree with him.
How much did she know about us? Not that it mattered anymore. Secret lovers then but never confirmed, no matter how many times we were asked. We’d moved on.
“Why are you here?” I shoved a hand in my jacket pocket and nervously toyed with the cheap plastic bracelet that was always there. Louis had given it to me as a joke. I kept it as a good luck charm. It read I ♥ Louis. I’d given Louis one that read I ♥ Harry. Silly, but we’d often behaved that way then. I wondered if he still had that bracelet.
“Giselle’s parents flew in for a visit, and we’re staying in London for a few days to show them the sights. We’re on our way to dinner.”
She slipped an arm through his. “We should go, or we’ll be late.”
He stuck out a hand, and after a moment, I shook it. “Nice seeing you again. We should catch up some time.”
It sounded exactly like the way you’d say “I had a wonderful time” when you’d had, in fact, hated every moment. Well, I could be as phony as him. “Sounds wonderful,” I gushed. “So nice meeting you, Giselle. See you around, Louis.” I strolled out like I had somewhere important to go, spoiling the moment when I tripped over a table leg on my way to the door. I reflexively muttered “sorry” and thought I heard him snicker, but I didn’t look back. Limping only slightly, I left the bar, turned a corner, and got on the nearest lift, heart pounding.
On the top floor, I let myself into the penthouse suite and crossed to the huge windows that looked out on central London. The sun was setting, and lights were coming on everywhere.
He’d looked at me as if I was a stranger. That had hurt. I pressed a hand to my chest. closed my eyes, and remembered.
Louis was cooking his first meal. “It’s going to be amazing, you’ll see.”
I looked around the kitchen, which was quickly becoming a disaster area, and laughed. “If you say so.”
He grabbed me with greasy hands. “Trust me?”
“Preheat the oven then.” He bent over a book on the island and squinted. “Two hundred degrees.” He had something on his cheek. I licked it off. “Stop distracting me.”
“You call that distraction? That’s not distraction.” I unzipped my pants very slowly.
“Stop it, Harry.”
He dropped his spoon and chased me around the room. I dodged him twice before he caught me and threw me on the island. Chicken, cheese, plates and utensils flew, landing on the floor with bangs and thuds.
“Hey, that was our dinner!”
He locked his hands in the waistband of my pants and yanked them off. “I’m not hungry anymore.”
“I am.” I tried to bat his hands away.
He straightened suddenly and stepped back. “I’ve got just the thing.” He shoved his shorts down, yanked his dick out of his underwear, and stroked himself hard. “Hm, nummy. Want?”
I slid off the island and down to my knees in front of him. I landed on the chicken, but I didn’t care. “That will hit the spot.” I opened my mouth, and he pushed his cock in. I opened my throat and took him down to the root.
He stroked my cheek. “I love you, Harry.”
“Ah wuv u too,” I mumbled, and he laughed.
He mentioned that dinner in several interviews—worked out a routine, complete with gestures—but he never revealed he’d had to cook it twice.
The penthouse door opened, and Colin came in. “There you are. I thought you were going to come by the Brixton?”
“Changed my mind after realizing how knackered I was.” During One Direction days, we’d played stadiums. I didn’t enjoy nearly that level of fame, though people still turned out to see me and the boys on stage. The prestigious Brixton Academy was a smallish venue, but I actually preferred it over the large places.
He joined me at the windows and pulled me into a hug. Colin played bass in the group. We’d been together two years.
“You’ve been pushing pretty hard lately.” He nuzzled my neck. “You need a long vacation.”
“It’s coming.” We had another month on the road, but I’d already booked a villa in the Bahamas for recuperation. Swimming, sun tanning, and maybe writing a little music, but mostly sitting on my arse, doing nothing for several weeks.
I was tempted to tell him about running into Louis, but I couldn’t get the words out. He knew we’d been a thing at one time, but I’d never told him how deeply that connection had gone or for how long. It hadn’t seemed relevant when we hooked up, and now it was too late.
Besides, it was unlikely I’d see Louis again for another ten years, so why risk ruffling feathers?
“I was about to order food.” I moved to the phone. “Want anything?”
“You.” He removed his shirt and tossed it on a chair before moving to my side. “But I won’t turn down a steak dinner and whiskey neat.”
Colin was always hungry. I ordered, then pulled him down on the bed. There was plenty of time before dinner arrived.
I was an old hand at performing, but I still enjoyed it. I had as much energy as when I was in the boy band, and I owned that stage, bouncing from side to side, playing to the audience. The way I’d once flirted with Louis during our concerts, I now did with Colin, though we weren’t as overt. I’d been a kid then. I’d learned some things.
I’d come out a long time ago. My fans no longer cared about my orientation. They were older, too. It helped that things had changed. Not being straight was okay with most people, if polls were anything to go by.
They still sometimes asked about Louis, and I smiled and said we were friends, though we’d gone our separate ways. I thought we were, though, even though we rarely talked.
I was surprised when he rang me on the room phone the next morning. Colin was in the shower, but I still moved away from the bathroom door and spoke quietly, then asked myself what the hell I was doing.
“I wondered if we could have coffee or something.”
There was traffic noise in the background, and I pictured him sitting in his car. “Thought you were busy with in-laws?” That was snarky, but it popped out before I could stop it.
“They’re sightseeing—I’ll meet them for lunch—but I have a place in town where I work. That’s where I’m going now.” There was a pause. “Harry… I’d like to see you.”
“Why? What’s the point after all this time?”
I glanced at the bathroom door, an unnerving flutter in my gut. “I don’t know.”
“For old times’ sake?”
I gave in to the impulse. “Text me the address. I’ll get there when I can.” I gave him my mobile number and ended the call.
I never could refuse him anything.
My phone chimed with an incoming text, and I looked at it. He wasn’t far away. I could be there in minutes.
I banged on the door, then opened it, walking into hot steam. Colin liked his showers. “I’m going out for a bit.”
“Okay,” he said over the sound of running water. “Be back by noon, though. Our flight’s at four.”
We were performing in France next.
“Be back soon.” I pissed, checked my reflection in the mirror, and left. It was half past eight. Plenty of time to hear whatever it was he had to say.
Louis’s writing cave was a small flat in north London. It had hardwood floors, comfortable furnishings, and a view to die for. I knew it was expensive, but he could afford it. We’d become rich in the boy band.
He’d taken pains with his hair, I could tell. He’d always been fussy about it. Without thinking, I felt mine, which was so short, the curls hardly showed. Louis had loved my curls, had played with them to the point of annoyance.
“I’m glad you came by.” He ushered me inside, closed the door, and led me into the living room. “Can I get you anything? I’ve got croissants, and I made tea—”
“Why now, after all this time?” I sat on the couch.
He curled his bottom lip over the top one and sat opposite me in an overstuffed chair. “I thought it would be nice to catch up. I said as much last night, remember?”
I rubbed my forehead, uncomfortable. “I write music, I release CDs, and once a year, I pick an area on the planet, go there, and perform.” I sat back. “Your turn.”
“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?”
“I can’t see why I should. You went barmy, dumped me, and next thing I know, you were courting the ladies.” Like what we’d shared had meant nothing to him. Like I’d been an old shoe he’d thrown away.
His hands tightened on his knees. “I couldn’t take the stress anymore. The constant attention and speculation, the innuendos… it was too much.”
I sighed and looked away. We’d gone over it and over it then. I didn’t want to rehash it now. “Why am I here?”
He ran a hand through his hair, destroying its perfection. “I started remembering how close we’d once been. I wanted to see you again.”
I didn’t know why, but I was suddenly livid, and it was giving me tunnel vision. “You’ve seen me.” I got up.
“Jesus, Harry. What’s wrong with you? You’re so cold, I have goose bumps.”
“I thought I could do this.” I sat again, knees weak. “Guess I was wrong.” I looked into his blue eyes, and something inside me broke. “I remembered things after seeing you, too. The night you cooked dinner? Chicken and ham and cheese all over the floor, and us—” He flushed bright red, and I shut up. He remembered.
Silence stretched between us as we gazed at each other, years of memories filling the space between us. God, we’d been good together. Perfect fit, overwhelming heat. We couldn’t get enough of each other. Always together, always touching. I got hard, thinking about it.
“I should go.”
I marched to the door, but he got there ahead of me, blocking my exit.
The old nickname sent a shiver through me. Then he was kissing me, and I was kissing him back. Ten years fell away, and we were kids again.
I willingly let him maneuver me into the bedroom. Clothes were removed, a blanket thrown back. Falling onto sheets, we clung to each other, getting as close as we could. We kissed, we sucked each other off, we kissed some more, then I fucked him. There was lube in the nightstand drawer; when I started to ask why, he shook his head and raised his legs in invitation.
It was like we’d never been apart—except we’d both pursued separate lives in the interim. The weird dichotomy of that did not escape me.
He passed me a joint, and I inhaled. We were propped on pillows, the sheet drawn to our waists. The clock on the nightstand said it was half past ten; both of us were keeping an eye on the time.
I looked around the room, which was tastefully decorated and had the same large windows as the living room. The muted light of a London morning brightened his skin, adding a subtle luster to its golden tones. “Do you actually work here, or is this just the place where you fuck men?”
His cheeks turned pink. “Why would you say that?”
“Maybe I use it for wanking,” he joked half-heartedly.
“Maybe you use it for ass fucking.” I handed the joint back. “How’s the marriage working?”
“Fine,” he said, sounding defensive. “I love her. The kids are great. We have a good life.”
I turned on my side and wrapped a hand around his cock. “But it’s not enough, is it? You want more. You need more.” I leaned close and breathed in his ear, making him squirm. “You miss this. Maybe not me, but men.” I licked his jawline, then nibbled the lobe. “You pick them up in bars or parks or on the street and bring them here for an hour or two, then you lock up and go home, telling Giselle you had a productive day. Finished a stanza, maybe two. You kiss your kids goodnight and take the wife to bed. Sometimes you fuck her, mostly you don’t.” He twitched. “Tell me that isn’t true.”
He pushed me onto my back and straddled me, locking me in place. “I love my children. They’re the most important things in my life. Don’t you fucking tell me they aren’t.”
I touched him lightly, soothingly. “Of course you love them. I never said you didn’t, Louis.”
A tear slid down his cheek. “But the rest….” He sat up and turned his back to me. “She’s wonderful. I do love her, but—”
“Something is missing.” I looked at the ceiling and sighed. I laid a hand against his back. He leaned against it. Louis had built himself a luxurious prison with no discernible exit.
He lay down and buried his head in my shoulder. “I’ve missed you more than I can say.”
I played with his hair and whispered, “Me, too.”