• 5.1 ~ There's something new
As the two weeks of rehearsals come to an end, Harry feels pretty secure in his job. Sure, he’s not got anything on Liam, either in earnestness or in sheer frenzy of movement, but Harry likes to think that he’s got more of a calming presence backstage. Louis hasn’t been late for an entrance yet, even coming from his quick change, which Harry counts as a personal victory. Harry’s, like, a total pro now at this dresser thing. He’s got this apron with tons of pockets that he’s constantly wearing, full of things like thread and scissors, so he can solve pretty much any minor costume problem that arises in the moment. There’s just one problem. Harry might be just a bit too good at forming a relationship with the actor he’s dressing. As in, Harry’s pretty sure that Louis Tomlinson wants to fuck him and Harry isn’t exactly opposed.
It’s been over a week of nonstop innuendos from Louis, accompanied by long up and down scans of Harry’s body that always seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on his crotch. Yesterday, Harry deliberately brought a banana as a snack with the sole intention of deep throating it. He’s not proud. (He is a bit proud of the effect it had on Louis, though, who turned deep red and couldn’t stop coughing for a full minute.) But Louis still hasn’t exactly said that he’s interested. Harry’s been in and around theatre long enough now to know where making assumptions about men in musical theatre being gay can get you even when said men are staring at your cock multiple times every day.
While Louis is onstage singing about wanting “great big stuff” (if only he wanted Harry’s), Harry wanders over towards Niall’s perch on stage right, where some kind of joke must be coming through his headset. Niall’s nearly doubled over on his stool, laughing silently and brushing tears from his eyes. When he sees Harry approaching, though, he makes an effort to sit up and gestures him over.
“What’s up, Styles? How’s the gig treating you so far?” Niall whispers.
“Good!” Harry tells him, a bit too enthusiastically, since Niall has to motion for him to lower his voice. “Sorry. Good. I quite like everyone on the crew.”
“...but?” Niall asks, clearly hearing the hesitation in Harry’s voice. Harry shifts and starts twisting his rings.
“D’you happen to know if Louis is gay?” It doesn’t seem to be a question Niall was expecting.
“Well,” he says slowly, “I guess I don’t, not properly, but I know he’s quite close with Zayn Malik, y’know, the one who’s producing? He’s stopping by for tonight’s run, so I can ask him then, if you like.”
“Zayn Malik is producing this?” Harry asks breathlessly. “Like, pop star Zayn Malik?”
“That’s the one,” Niall chuckles. “I think his technical title is Executive Producer, since he’s obviously too busy to do much more than invest money and show up every once in a while. But yeah, he’s got some money riding on this doing well.” This is a fucking revelation. Harry’s been obsessed with Zayn Malik for ages, ever since he first appeared on X Factor. One of his projects at uni was literally just a portfolio of possible stage outfits for Zayn. Not his best grade, but some of his proudest work.
“Nialler, think I could actually meet him?” Niall seems to find this funny, but Harry’s not sure why. He’s too excited to care if Niall thinks he shouldn’t be starstruck.
“Sure, mate, I reckon I could make that happen for you pretty easily. Just hang around backstage after the show, he’ll definitely come back.”
“Great!” Harry squeaks out, just as Louis’s song comes to an end. He scurries away to the correct wing, ready for Louis’s exit, water bottle already uncapped. He’s just in time, since a moment later, Louis runs off, clearly full of the adrenaline that comes from performing. Louis grabs the water bottle and chugs half of it quickly. Harry frowns.
“You’ll have to wee all through the dance number if you drink all of it,” he admonishes. Louis just grins and pinches Harry’s cheek.
“Maybe it’ll make me dance faster, babe!” he says cheerfully as he wanders closer to the fly rail, probably looking to annoy someone. He makes sure to slap Harry’s arse as he moves past him, and Harry can’t be bothered to tell him not to pick on Liam when it feels like his heart is going to fly out of his throat. God, he hopes Niall comes through for him. Harry kind of can’t imagine anything worse than Louis not being gay.
Harry is ready to climb out of his skin after the run through, he’s so exhilarated. The run went perfectly, which, like, thank god, because they only have three more rehearsals before the first night of preview performances. One of Louis’s jackets lost a button, but Harry was able to pop one back on straight away, and had a throat lozenge ready for Louis when he asked for one. No matter what Niall and Liam say, Harry definitely did not blush for a solid half hour after Louis took the lozenge, rubbed a hand gently over Harry’s shoulder, and whispered.
“Hazza, no other dresser could hold a candle to you.” (So Harry might have gotten hard from Louis saying that. Look, he has to run his hands up and down Louis’s muscular thighs all night. Plus he’s got a strong need to be praised. Harry has never claimed to be perfect.) Between the run going perfectly and the knowledge that he’s about to meet Zayn Fucking Malik, Harry’s been a bit frenzied after the show. He can feel himself doing it, but somehow he’s powerless to stop it. If there is even a small chance that Zayn Malik is going to turn up in Louis’s dressing room, by god, it is going to be the cleanest that Louis’s dressing room has any hope of being. Louis seems both confused and somewhat amused by Harry’s behavior, as he watches Harry hanging up all of the costumes at record speed before turning his attention to Louis’s makeup counter. Harry has priorities.
“Haz, love, what are you doing?”
“Just straightening up,” Harry says, and his voice has somehow gone up an octave. Maybe that second Red Bull wasn’t his smartest idea. Well, maybe Louis won’t notice.
“Harry,” Louis says, now sounding concerned. He gets up from his pose of being sprawled on the sofa and starts to move a hand up and down Harry’s back, in what may be an attempt to soothe him. “What’s going on?” Harry cannot have Louis trying to soothe him, Jesus. He’s not that strong. For god’s sake, he’d been wanking to the guy for years, and then somehow Louis turned out to be funny and kind and even better looking in person. The last thing he needs is for Louis to exhibit signs of caring about him. Harry refuses to still, and keeps straightening up the counter.
“Haz?” Louis tries again, and oh, Harry had forgotten that Louis asked a question.
“Nothing’s wrong, really!” he says quickly. “Just you know. Heard Zayn Malik might be coming back here, don’t want it to be a pit.” Louis lets out a loud laugh, and Harry’s really not sure what’s funny about this.
“Oh, Harry. I’ve known Zayn for years, he’d be more confused by the place not being a pit.”
“No reason we can’t surprise him,” Harry mutters, rubbing viciously at a blush stain that seems to have set in on the counter. How did he miss that?
“Okay,” Louis says slowly, seeming to give up on calming Harry. “Well, whatever makes you feel better. I think, I think Zayn might actually already be backstage? He tends to be in the wings, you know. I might head out there, try to track him down. Want to come?” Well. Yes, but now that he knows this fucking stain’s on the counter, Harry knows he won’t be able to leave tonight without getting it out.
“Just as soon as I’m done with this stain, I’m right behind you,” he promises. “Be there soon as I can.”
“Harry, the stain really doesn’t matter,” Louis protests. Harry looks up and makes sure to smile broadly at Louis so that he’ll stop worrying. (He maybe spends a little too much time in general focused on getting Louis to stop worrying, but. Well.)
“Lou, this’ll make me feel better. Wind down from the run a bit, you know? I swear, it won’t take a minute.”
“Okay,” Louis says dubiously. “I’ll see you in the wings, then. I really do want you to meet Zayn.”
“Right behind you,” Harry grins, and gives Louis a thumbs-up. That finally convinces Louis to leave the room really, Harry’s a much more effective stain cleaner when he doesn’t have Louis standing there and distracting him. It barely takes more than a minute before he triumphantly waves the rag he’s been using around and declares the stain vanquished. After another minute of adjusting his headscarf and hair in the mirror, and maybe dabbing on just a tad of Louis’s lip color (he’ll never know), Harry declares himself ready to meet Zayn Malik. Probably. At least ready to meet him, maybe not ready to speak to him.
Once he gets to the wings, he can see that Louis was right, and that Zayn is already there and god, what is with Harry’s luck lately, in terms of people being unfairly attractive? Like, obviously Harry knew Zayn was gorgeous, he spent months staring at pictures of him while he was using Zayn for a costume project, after all. But just like Louis, nothing fully compares to seeing Zayn in person, in his oft photographed leather jacket and quiff and is that eyeliner? Harry’s stopped at the back of the small crowd of people congregating around Zayn, with Louis in the center of the circle right next to him. Niall’s up there as well, slapping Louis on the back and loudly predicting another Olivier in his future and then. It happens almost in slow motion, it seems. Harry pushes his way into the crowd a bit, just enough forward to get a clearer view of Louis and Zayn, but not really enough for Louis to spot him. Especially as Louis is facing away from the crowd, arms flung around Zayn Malik as he whispers rather intimately in his ear. Good friends, loud crowd, Harry desperately tries to rationalize to himself. Then Louis plants a kiss just below Zayn’s ear and nuzzles into his neck, and just stays there, locked in the embrace. Harry can’t quite bring himself to try to rationalize that.
Niall spots him, and gives him a cheery thumbs-up, as though Harry hasn’t already worked out for himself that Louis is gay. Obviously the follow-up question was gay and single; knowing that he’s gay and in a fucking secret relationship doesn’t do Harry a bit of good. Harry smiles back weakly and turns to go, bumping into Liam as he does so.
“Not sticking around to try to get Zayn Malik’s autograph, then?” Liam asks him, smiling wryly.
“Er. Seems a bit weird to get someone’s autograph when he technically is responsible for my pay,” Harry manages. Why can’t Liam see that he needs to leave already and let him alone?
“My thoughts exactly,” Liam agrees, and slings an arm around Harry’s shoulders. “I was just headed to the pub, if you’d rather join me there instead?” A pint sounds like a completely acceptable alternative to watching Louis and Zayn be the most attractive closeted couple in the universe, so Harry says,
“Brilliant idea, mate,” and lets himself be guided out the door without looking back even once.
“Liam, ‘s just, ’s not like I’m offended on my own behalf,” Harry slurs several pints later. “‘S just like, who does that? Who flirts and pinches and stares when they’re already fucking Zayn fucking Malik?”
“That’s pretty bloody awful,” Liam agrees earnestly. His eyes are even bigger now. He looks even more like a puppy.
“You look like a puppy,” Harry tells Liam. He’s not sure that he meant to say that out loud, but he’s largely all right with it.
“Thanks?” Liam says, sounding a bit confused. He shouldn’t be confused. Puppies are lovely. Just like Louis. Louis is so lovely. Harry puts his head down on the table, feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.
“I just really want to suck Louis’s cock,” he mumbles into the table.
“What was that, mate?” Liam asks. Harry rolls his head so that the side of his face is resting on the table, letting him see Liam.
“I really want to suck Louis’s cock, Liam,” he repeats. “It’s a very nice cock. I can tell. Like, I’ve touched it. In my job! I’ve touched it in my job,” he clarifies, when Liam’s eyes get wider.
“Harry, I don’t know how you’re doing your job,” Liam says slowly, “but I’ve definitely never touched the cock of someone that I’m dressing. Like, ever.” Hmm. Harry’s pretty sure that when Louis asked him to check and make sure he was securely in his dance belt, it was in a completely professional manner. He tells Liam so.
“Yeah, that’s, like, not professional at all,” Liam says, now clearly horrified. “It sounds a bit like sexual harassment, actually. He should definitely adjust his own dance belt if he doesn’t want you getting the wrong idea.”
“Maybe I was getting the right idea,” Harry mutters defiantly.
“Not if he’s dating Zayn Malik,” Liam points out, and fuck, he’s right, but that is not at all what Harry wants to hear right now.
“Maybe I’m supposed to be the other woman, and gang up with Zayn and ruin his life. Did you see that Cameron Diaz movie? Do you think me touching his cock counts as cheating?” Harry ponders. Liam gently bangs his own head on the table. Possibly he’s as tired as Harry is.
“No, that movie looks bloody awful, and you should never make life choices based off of Cameron Diaz movies. Also, I think that whether that counts as cheating is probably between him and Zayn. Not our business, really.” Harry sighs deeply.
“I’m sure you’re right, Liam.” Seemingly happy that Harry’s in agreement now, Liam pulls Harry in and ruffles his hair.
“On to the next, eh, Styles?” Harry freezes.
“Liam, I don’t think, it’s a little too soon for me to be er. It’s not that I don’t like you, but”
“Buggering fuck, not me!” Liam shouts, before looking around and lowering his voice. “Sorry. Just. Not what I meant. Sorry for any confusion. I’m actually not gay? I was just trying to encourage you, like.”
“Ah,” Harry says, blushing deeply. “Er. Sorry, sorry for assuming.”
“Totally understandable,” Liam says. Even though Harry’s drunken haze, it’s clear that their night is not recovering from this.
“Well, thanks for the company, mate. Think I’ll be heading off now,” Harry says, trying to sound cheerful and not at all like he’s fleeing Liam’s company. Liam stands.
“You all right to get home? I can walk you to the station or summat-”
“I’ll be fine,” Harry quickly cuts him off. “Just got to sleep it all off, yeah? The alcohol and the Louis thing.”
“Right,” Liam says, clearly still worried. “Well. Again. Sorry for the confusion.”
“No worries, mate, it was me as well.”
“We’ll have to do it again sometime!” Liam says cheerfully. “Well. Hopefully without the confusion, next time.” This finally draws a laugh out of Harry.
“Sounds brilliant, mate,” he tells Liam, and finds that he means it, ready to try again in the future and hope for a less awkward encounter. Well. Probably. When he’s sober, he might feel differently.
Rehearsal the next day is, well, it’s a bit awkward, to be honest. It’s like Harry can’t quite shake the weird vibes that descended on him the night before with Liam. Probably karma for assuming that a man in theatre is gay. Harry knows better than that, honestly. So. Of fucking course that would be the day that Louis gets a rip in his trousers. More specifically, the inseam of his trousers rips a bit during one of the dance numbers. Watching from the wings, Harry can see as soon as it happens, and he is not exactly pleased. They’ve had such good luck with keeping the costumes in good shape, and now Louis has to go and rip the fucking trousers. When he only has about two minutes offstage, no less. On a day when Harry has been trying very hard to only touch him in the absolute most professional manner. There is literally no way to repair someone’s inseam while they’re still wearing the trousers in a hands-off manner. There just isn’t. Harry breathes deeply, scrounging through the pockets of his apron for the most durable thread that he can find. Hopefully this’ll get Louis through--the trousers only have to make it through one more scene. Surely even Louis can’t manage to do that much damage in one scene. Well. Harry hopes so, anyway. Caroline will never let him hear the end of it if not. Louis waddles off the stage awkwardly at the end of the number, clearly trying to keep the rip from getting any worse. Harry’s heart melts a little at that, at Louis trying to make Harry’s job easier on him. So sweet. No, Harry reminds himself. Louis is making Harry’s job easier because he’s a professional. Not because he has feelings for Harry. He’s busy with international pop star Zayn Malik.
“God, sorry about this,” Louis says as soon as he gets over to their spot in the wings. Harry’s already on his knees, waiting with a threaded needle. He takes a deep breath and motions for Louis to hold his legs further apart.
“I didn’t mean to, Haz, I swear.”
“I know,” Harry whispers back. How is he going to do this without driving himself crazy? Harry opts to pinch the fabric with one hand to pull it away from Louis’s thigh (his muscular, shapely, gorgeous thigh, damn it all) and begins swiftly sewing there, so that he isn’t actually gripping Louis.
“I mean,” Louis jokes, “I always knew my hip thrusts were powerful, but I never knew they could actually cause fabric to rip.” Due to a heroic effort, Harry doesn’t let himself laugh. Or even smile. He just keeps sewing, as if Louis isn’t even talking. Louis falters a little before continuing, still hoping to draw Harry into the conversation. God only knows why.
“Basically what I’m saying, Haz, is that you’re all going to have to bow to the power of my dick.”
“Is that so,” Harry responds coolly. He’s quite proud of himself. Louis shouldn’t be flirting when he has a boyfriend, anyway.
“Er,” Louis says. “Not, not if you don’t want to. I mean. You actually already are bowing, technically,” he points out weakly. Harry doesn’t dignify this with a response, choosing instead to focus on tying off a knot at the end of the newly repaired seam. Without thinking, he automatically leans down and bites the remaining thread off with his teeth. Louis completely freezes as soon as Harry does so, and fuck if that isn’t the most unprofessional thing Harry has ever done. Jesus, he’s probably going to be fired for sexual harassment. He fucking put his mouth next to Louis fucking Tomlinson’s crotch. What kind of idiot does that? It’s only when Louis abruptly shuffles his feet and attempts to turn away from Harry that he sees the real problem, outlined clear as day through the trousers: Louis is definitely, absolutely hard.
Hope you like those chapters.
Wat denken jullie, vindt Louis - Harry leuk?