title: you’re patient, love, help me
word count: ~4,300
pairing: harry styles/louis tomlinson
disclaimer: own nothing/know nothing/obviously. completely fictionalized.
summary: it confuses him, it makes him exhausted just watching louis, because he has so much going on in his head and harry doesn’t know how he does it all.
a/n: god this is so self-indulgent but anyway i hope you like it. needy/upset louis is my favourite because i'm a sadist. it’s been a while since i've written non-au but i’ve missed it so i will probably do more, and that’s all really so thank you for reading you’re all lovely.
title from gotye’s save me.
Louis Tomlinson is not someone who can be read. This much Harry knows by now, it’s been over two years and he’s still no closer to figuring him out, all deceptively simple smiles and boorish stories masking…well, Harry isn’t sure exactly what they’re masking. A big, messy, amalgamation of insecurity and duty and love and fear, that’s what Harry tends to term it, but it’s a little wordy.
There are certain things Harry knows, though. He knows that Louis does not – will not, in most cases – reveal a weakness. If he’s tired he pushes through it, if he’s stressed he tries to shake it off, if he’s scared he bites it back with a quick witted jab at the nearest target and tries to stifle his nerves by being the fastest, the loudest. Harry also knows, though, that that doesn’t necessarily mean Louis doesn’t want people to notice. At first, Harry had always tried to talk to him, dragged him aside and asked if he was okay, if he needed anything. But he’d learnt fairly quickly that Louis categorically does not respond to that, not in front of other people. He will not be a charity case, however ridiculous the comparison is, he doesn’t want to be weak. He brushes off concerned eyes and murmured reassurances with a scoff, tells whoever it is uttering them (Harry) to quit being so melodramatic.
But he does like it, appreciate it, when Harry notices he’s a little off kilter. If he’s tapping his foot incessantly before they go on stage, Harry just sidles up next to him and rubs a small circle into the small of his back. The first time Louis had positively melted into a touch like that, it had all clicked for Harry. So now he litters small subtleties like that throughout their days. If Louis’ lips are pursed in that way they are when he has a tight headache, Harry’ll just walk up to him and put an arm around him, let him rest on his shoulder for a while. When Louis becomes overly defensive and snappy in an interview, as soon as they’re back in the green room Harry shoots him a small, secretive little smile and brushes a thumb over his hip as he reaches for a cuppa. It’s their way of getting through tough days; Louis will only shut down more if Harry tries to talk it out with him in front of everyone but he lights up, every time, if Harry lets him know he’s there.
Harry doesn’t understand him all the time, not in the slightest. Harry is a creature of stability and lazy contentment; he doesn’t get wound up or overly melancholy or ragingly angry. He still doesn’t comprehend the way Louis can be placid and calm and then bouncing off the walls thirty seconds later, doesn’t understand how he can descend into white hot rage or bone shattering fear in a matter of moments. It confuses him, it makes him exhausted just watching Louis, because he has so much going on in his head and Harry doesn’t know how he does it all.
Louis is a person of image. He puts out quite a carefully crafted picture of suitably goofy and aloof, funny, counteracted with a healthy temper and biting wit. He likes to be in charge, likes to boss everyone around tirelessly, day after day, because he doesn’t ever want to be on the back foot. He likes to know what’s coming, because if he lets the world get one up on him it may just swallow him whole. So that’s why he gets thrown, when awkward questions get asked in interviews, when things don’t go according to his plan; he’s terrified of what could happen should he let himself fall behind.
So sure, Harry only vaguely understands Louis. Really, he understands how to deal with him, how to bring him down or pull him up, he doesn’t understand why he goes to those places in the first place. But today, he doesn’t need to understand, he can see it happening in front of him like a fucking picture book. From their very first press phoner of the morning, Harry had known Louis was off. He’s quieter than usual the whole time, mind running a million miles an hour, Harry can tell from the way he’s blinking quickly and pushing his hair back every few seconds. He needs to move when he thinks lest he explode, Harry’s seen it a thousand times before. He shoots him a smile, wraps a hand round his waist as they wax lyrical about the new album, but Louis doesn’t respond. He’s tense, clipped, laugh thin, and Harry knows it’s one of those days.
They get to lunch and Harry’s got a knot in his stomach because Louis’ veritably insane today. He spent their first two interviews all stiffened and quiet, had gone to the bathroom and come back ten minutes later with bright eyes and a spring in his step. He dicked around with Liam for the next hour, the image of cheeky wit and sunshine laughter all the way through an extended bit they were filming for the BBC and as soon as the cameras had shut off had collapsed almost completely into his chair. Zayn had frowned and asked him if he wanted to come outside and take a breather, but Louis’ tone went all vacant as he’d declined, murmuring he wanted to call his Mum. He’s been between the two all day, chatty and bright and bossy one minute, quiet and tired and small the next. Harry’s head is spinning just looking at him.
They have a meeting that afternoon and by the end Harry feels a little overwhelmed himself. They have press for the next three days, a crash tour of Europe for a week and then it’s straight back to London to film big TV spots; X Factor and a couple of other shows. They have a few days in the US singing to an estimated TV audience of 100 million all up and then a few signings and Harry’s sleepy and jetlagged just reading the itinerary. He glances over at Louis and he’s gone white as a sheet, isn’t moving, just focusing on a spot right in front of him like he’s trying to pretend he’s not there.
That sets Harry on edge. Louis usually reacts, all the time, with anger or a cold, obvious silence or a breezy joke, there’s always a reaction. But this time he just stares straight ahead, counting down the minutes.
So, Harry supposes in retrospect, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when they got home and all of Louis’ painstakingly crafted walls came (briefly) tumbling down.
Living in such close proximity for two years comes with its quirks; it means you can tell from the slightest shift in demeanor when something’s off. When Zayn has more than three cigarettes by midday, he’s probably missing home. If they can hear Niall up playing guitar softly in the early hours of the morning, he’s nervous for a gig or about to fall ill. Liam’s a whole different ball game; if he’s upset he’ll just sort of stop, he won’t unpack his luggage or wash his clothes, like if he stays perfectly frozen then everything causing him pain will freeze too. Harry’s been told by the others in no uncertain terms that when he’s angry he grinds his teeth as he watches TV and drinks black tea. And Louis; well, he’s not so easy, it’s always such small things with Louis that Harry isn’t even sure the others notice. Sometimes it’ll be the way he grips the handle of the fridge a little tighter when he gets home starving and realizes there’s no food. Other times Harry can tell he’s having a moment if he retreats to his room with a book instead of playing on one of the four consoles they have on the tour bus. Today, he opens the door to the flat and instead of kicking off his shoes and flopping down on the couch, he goes straight upstairs without so much as a word to Harry.
So Harry sighs, because it’s apparently one of those days and he’s the only one who can fix it. He grabs two cans of Coke from the fridge, throws his phone down on the table and walks upstairs.
There’s kind of a drill to this; Louis’ll be curled up in bed already and Harry’ll slip in next to him, offer him a drink wordlessly and Louis will take it. They’ll sit there in silence and then Louis will relax and finally – finally – let his guard drop, curl into Harry’s side and breathe into his shoulder and then maybe they’ll fuck or fall asleep or talk or watch shitty TV for hours. Louis will wake up in the morning with that soft, crinkly smile that Harry knows means I’m okay, and he’ll thank Harry with a blowjob and a proper breakfast. It’s the drill, the unspoken agreement they’ve come to, because they both need a pick me up, all the time, and when it’s Louis’ turn that’s what he likes.
But when Harry opens the door slowly, peering around to see him all small and vulnerable under his duvet, the bed is empty. He flicks his eyes round the room and right in the corner, hands on the windowsill firmly as he takes shallow, shaky breaths, is Louis. He shakes his head quickly, like he’s trying to pull it together, sniffing quietly and brushing a hand over his face. Harry’s heart lurches, and all he wants to do is wrap him up and tell him he’s going to be okay and fuck him till the tension seeps out of him like steam but he knows that won’t work right now. He bites down any sympathetic murmurs of oh, sweetheart, and tries to keep his voice casual.
“You right, Lou?” He rolls his eyes as he says it, it’s so dumb, but Louis likes to play the game, at least at first. He spins round sharply at the sound of Harry’s voice, biting his lip and tugging at the hem of his t-shirt as he looks over at him.
“Yeah,” he says, and it’s so fucking Louis to insist he’s fine through a wobbling voice and teary eyes, “sure.” He points at the can in Harry’s hand. “That for me?”
Harry nods, tosses it to him and sits down on the bed. He doesn’t want to crowd Louis, not yet, he can see in his shoulders and his flushed cheeks that he’s right on edge. He’ll wait till he breaks, because only then will Louis let him in.
Harry knows it’ll be soon, it might be a knock at the door or a clumsy trip over a stray shoe, at this point anything will set him off. Today, it barely takes two minutes. Louis’ hands are all shaky and unsure, his face strained, and he goes to pop the top of his can of Coke. At the precise moment he gets it, his phone starts ringing shrilly, high pitched Blackberry ring tearing through the uneasy silence, and he drops the can, spilling Coke all over his shirt and the floor and his shoes.
“Fuck!” He bites his tongue after that, like he’s determined not to let it get to him, but the fucking phone won’t shut up and even though soda’s chugging out over the floor he still hasn’t picked up the can, and Harry can see it before it even happens, it’s all too much. He can’t deal with it, doesn’t know which to fix first while his mind is racing and so with a slight shake of his head, Louis kicks the drink right across the room, slamming it into the door.
“Fuck.” This one is weaker, it’s a little shrill and hysterical and he turns from the mess he’s made, presses the heels of his palms to his eyes and takes a deep, uncertain breath. He runs his hands through his hair as he exhales; five, four, three, two, one, Harry thinks, and he stands slowly.
“Hey,” he says gently, padding across the room to Louis with a small smile. He reaches out to pull him into a hug but Louis steps away, wheels around with that wild look in his eyes that says fix it, I don’t fucking know what to do anymore, and Harry pauses because apparently the floodgates are about to open.
“Fuck,” he says again, and Harry wonders vaguely if he’s suddenly forgotten the other hundred thousand odd words in his vocabulary, “fuck, fuck, Harry, I can’t do this.”
He brings a hand to his mouth and starts nibbling at his thumbnail, crossing his arms round himself.
“It’s like, it’s too much,” he croaks, “I feel like I’m about to fucking explode or something, Jesus, we’re just not stopping anymore and it’s like, press here and album there and then fucking Europe and a casual hundred million fucking Americans and then, like, what? We just leave for eight months and that’s…that’s it? I can’t even handle this here, let along in fucking, I don’t know, Botswana or wherever the fuck we’re going in February. And my sister called me today and Christ, Harry,” he chokes, and his words are all running together faster and faster because this is his head, every day, and there isn’t time to speak slowly when his thoughts are pushing in line to get heard, “I haven’t been home in so long and I can’t do this, babe, it’s all so fucking big.”
His voice catches on the last word and there, there’s the final straw. He lets out a singular choked sob that Harry thinks he’s been swallowing down for hours, and then it’s a gasp for air, like he’s shocked he’s actually crying and then concerned because it’s more tears than he’d bargained for. Harry lets him muddle through those two emotions, and then – and only then – does Louis look up at him, all trembly and so fucking breakable, and Harry wraps him up in his arms.
It’s moments like these where Harry realizes how much Louis is just…his. He feels so, so small, and he’d never forgive Harry for saying it but Harry’s heart fills up with a need to protect him, to keep him safe. He fits so neatly into Harry’s embrace, his head on his chest, feathery hair tickling Harry’s chin. He slots into his arms like a puzzle piece; Harry’s arms wrap around his waist effortlessly and he runs one hand up and down his back and lets the other trails through his hair, cradle his head. Louis sort of deflates into him, sinks into his chest and tugs at the front of Harry’s shirt, breath muffled into his shoulder.
“You’re gonna be okay, love,” Harry says quietly, pressing a kiss to his head, “I’ve got you, it’s gonna be okay.”
Louis’ shaky sobs ease up at that, but then after a minute start up again, and Harry can’t even imagine what that must be like, having that all pent up for days on end. Louis is stubborn as fucking mule, refuses to admit he needs anyone until, well, now. Minutes pass and Harry murmurs into his ear, soft and slow, but Louis is still clutching at him furiously, crying miserably into his shirt, and Harry isn’t sure he knows how to fix this.
“C’mon, come to bed, yeah?” he ventures. Louis nods into his shoulder in response but doesn’t move, freezes up as Harry tries to pull back to guide him over. It’s as though now he’s found them, he never wants to be anywhere but Harry’s arms, and Harry’s not about to break that.
With a deep breath, he grunts a little as he picks Louis up, holding his thighs firmly (it’s not even exertion, not really, it’s just that it’s intensely difficult not to be immediately turned on by an armful of Louis Tomlinson), carrying him over to the bed. He’s so tiny, wraps his legs round Harry’s waist like a kid and buries his face in the crook of his neck, nuzzling into him. It’s one of the sweetest moments of Harry’s life.
He drops him onto the mattress and plonks himself down next to him, smiling involuntarily as Louis clambers into his lap, pulls Harry’s arms right back around him as though it’s been too long already. Harry sits up against the bed head, arms and legs tangled into Louis, petting quietly at his hair.
“What happened, babe?” he asks, pressing a kiss to Louis’ hot cheek. “Let me make it better, what can I do?”
Louis is quiet for a long moment, breathing returning back to normal finally. He’s shaking a little bit, like he’s just drained all the life out of him, slumping into Harry completely with his head pressed into his arm.
“’M so tired,” he murmurs into Harry’s bicep, “so, so tired.”
Harry nods, scooping him up a bit more. “I know, darling. D’you wanna sleep?”
It kind of seems like he’s about to drop off whether he wants to or not, but Louis shakes his head, threading his fingers through Harry’s idly. He’s always been kind of fascinated with how tiny his own hands and fingers are in comparison to Harry’s – he hates being little normally but with Harry he likes it, likes being able to melt into someone and feel safe knowing they’re bigger.
“No,” he says, “no, stay awake with me, okay?”
Harry nods, nipping at Louis’ ear and jaw and cheek till he gets a small giggle out of him.
“You wanna talk about it?” he asks. It’s more direct than he’d usually go for, but Louis is oddly thrown today so he figures this is the time for it. Louis sighs, nods once into Harry. His eyes are still a little puffy, cheeks streaked in tears, and Harry grips him a little tighter, like he’s afraid he’ll float away.
“’S like,” he starts, “I don’t know, it’s like, this can’t stop now. Like, if we wanted it to. It just…couldn’t.”
That kind of takes Harry by surprise but he doesn’t show it, doesn’t want to throw Louis off. This is so, so rare; he’s not about to kill off all his trust.
“Do you want it to?” he asks, genuinely curious.
“No. No, but it’s like, there always felt like there was an out before. And it just kind of hit me today, we have so many plans for so many years and there’s no option anymore. It’s just. Fuck, a bit.”
Harry laughs, expects that’ll be it, but Louis keeps talking.
“And I’m so shit scared of all the solos this time round, like, every night,” he says, a little less comfortably than last time, swallowing hard and squirming in Harry’s arms “It’s eight months. I’m not like you and Zayn, I can’t just pull that shit out on cue.”
“Shut up,” Harry murmurs, squeezing him for a second, “you’re perfect. Your voice is beautiful, you sound amazing the whole record.”
Louis snorts and throws his head back to look right in Harry’s eyes for the first time with a challenging little smile.
“You’re such a sap, d’you know that?” he asks, and Harry just rolls his eyes.
“I mean it,” he says firmly, “you can do every single one perfectly. Remember when you ran all my solos with me like, a thousand times before the last tour? When I was all nervous?”
Louis nods sleepily with a small laugh at the memory.
“Well we’ll do that. We’ll do them as many times as you want, I promise.”
Louis seems to consider this for a moment, before giving a small nod.
Louis shifts in his grip after that, turns around so he’s facing him, still in his lap. Harry can’t help but sit up and kiss him slowly, because Louis likes it fast and hot and frantic when he’s on top of the world but when he’s like this, when he feels like everything’s moving too fast without him, Harry slows everything down, takes his time because it makes Louis relax again. Louis pulls away after a moment, looking down and smiling shyly, fiddling with the hem of Harry’s shirt.
“Love you,” he says quietly, and Harry smiles, pulls him in closer and presses light kisses to his jaw as Louis laughs quietly.
“Love you too,” Harry murmurs into his neck, Louis shifting in his laps with a breathy oh as Harry’s teeth flick over his collarbone.
“Haz,” he says, fingers tight in Harry’s hair, “Haz, I’m okay, you don’t have t—“
“Shut up,” Harry says firmly, rolling his eyes. He eases Louis out of his grip, pushes him gently down onto the bed, and Louis looks up at him with a smile, but a hint of uncertainty still in his eyes.
“I’m not just gonna fucking lie here while you—“
“I mean it,” Harry says, amused smile flicking across his face as he clamps a hand over Louis’ fucking mouth, God, he can’t just shut up, “be quiet and for once in your life and let someone take care of you.”
So Louis does.
Harry takes his time with everything, painstakingly slow but he knows it’ll pay off in the end. He gets Louis out of his clothes and starts right back at his neck, kissing and sucking lightly there until he works his way down, lingering at Louis’ shoulders and collarbones and nipples and ribs, kissing down his stomach and his V-line. He avoids Louis’ cock for the time being, goes straight to his thighs instead, because Louis is achingly sensitive there and every flick of Harry’s tongue or nip of his teeth gets a reaction out of him, makes him arch his back or moan lightly, makes him forget his own head.
Louis is naturally loud in bed but, contrary as ever, he always tries to shut himself up, biting Harry’s shoulder or gritting his teeth, determined to retain some semblance of control. Now, though, he’s not bothering, and Harry loves it. He responds to everything, every touch and movement with a cry or a strangled yeah or a hand twisted in Harry’s hair, and it’s good. His shoulders slowly drop, limbs loosen up, and after twenty minutes he’s all but coming apart on Harry’s fingers, legs spread obscenely wide and arm thrown rather dramatically over his eyes. He’s melting into the mattress now, messy and incoherently begging Harry to hurry the fuck up, thrusting back to meet his fingers with loud little whines every time Harry crooks his fingers just right. It always kind of amazes Harry, the turnaround Louis makes in bed. He’s so fastidious about being in total control of himself in front of the world but here, when it’s just the two of them, he just…let’s go, completely, let’s someone else take charge and Harry’s not about to take that trust lightly.
“You ready, hmm?” he murmurs into Louis’ ear, low and quiet, and Louis is breathing hard, clawing at his back.
“Yeah,” he stutters out, high pitched and a little desperate, “yeah, c’mon then.”
Harry doesn’t let up as he slicks himself up, keeps Louis moaning around his fingers and only gives him a moment of grace before he pushes inside, bracing himself above Louis as he bottoms out. Harry grunts as his hips hit Louis’ ass and Louis lets out a whine, brow creases as his eyes roll back in his head and he scratches Harry’s back.
“Jesus Christ,” he says, half sobbing, and Harry puffs out a laugh, thrusting into him nice and slowly until he’s all but begging for more.
“Harry, please, fuck,” Louis chokes out, and Harry smiles, bites his neck hard. He continues his painstakingly slow pace before speeding up, a few minutes later pounding into Louis relentlessly, going all out until Louis’ rambling words turn into satisfied little yeahs. Harry knows he’s not imagining it as Louis seems to veritably melt in front of him, sounding so thoroughly well fucked and overwhelmed as he yells and chants Harry’s name and Harry thinks, good.
“Gonna come for me, then, babe?” Harry asks, voice wobbling despite his admirable attempt at casual bed talk. Louis is past the point of speaking, just lets out a winded breath as he meets each and every one of Harry’s thrusts, nodding into the pillow. Harry smiles, moves the hand pulling on Louis’ hair down to his cock and starts wanking him off in quick, rough drags.
“Oh, God,” Louis cries, whole face furrowed and with one final aching grunt he arches his back and comes between them, hot and messy. Harry doesn’t relent, pulls him off through his orgasm and then pushes into him harder as he moves towards his own, coming minutes later at the wrecked, exhausted Hazza, fuck, babe, please, that escapes Louis mouth.
Harry collapses next to him with a smile for a moment before sitting up again, still panting, sweat stuck to them both. He wipes half-heartedly at Louis’ already sticky stomach with a couple of tissues, but Louis is already almost asleep so he figures there’s time to clean up after a nap. With a fond smile, he looks down at Louis who’s blinking at him sleepily, face creaseless and body boneless. He doesn’t say anything, just tugs at Harry’s hand till he falls down next to him and pulls Louis into his arms, knees hitting the back of Louis’, legs lining up, his small torso pressed to Harry’s chest.
“You alright, darling?” Harry asks, tangling their legs together and pressing a kiss to Louis’ cheek. Louis just nods, fiddling with Harry’s fingers clasped at his chest and relaxes back onto him.
“Yeah,” he sighs, snuggling closer, and it sounds genuine for the first time all day, “yeah. Needed that.”
Harry just laughs, dropping light kisses onto Louis’ shoulder and neck and the shell of his ear.
“D’you wanna sleep?” Harry asks, “or we could get some food in, watch a movie or whatever?”
Louis just shakes his head sleepily, throws his head back to blink up at Harry happily.
“No,” he says, “just stay here, yeah?”