"Sometimes, in the middle of the night, there's a knock on Liam's front door and Louis will be standing there. They won't talk much, and certainly not about anything important, but they will get into Liam's bed and Louis will lick and bite and kiss everywhere and Liam will enjoy it even though he knows, he knows, it's a bad idea that will never go anywhere good or go anywhere at all. They shouldn't do this; they are both going to end up hurt and confused and angry because they can't let themselves have each other properly. Everything is always going to be a secret, and he doesn't understand why he keeps letting it happen, but he can't resist Louis.
They make love now, they don't just have sex anymore, like maybe they did in the beginning, and Liam will never be able to get the image of Louis when he comes out of his mind, or the way he looks so needy and desperate when Liam's mouth travels down his body.
Sometimes, Liam wishes that circumstances were different, that they weren't in a band together and had met each other some other way, so they could be together, but then he feels badly for feeling that way. He loves the boys and the lives they have now and everything that is happening, but it's going to hurt so badly when that day comes when he finally has to let Louis go, for both their sakes, so they can move on.
But right now, with Louis sleeping next to him, the smell of both of them still in the air, he just wants to push away all the inevitable hurt and enjoy being here and now."
If you ask Louis when this thing started he wouldn't know what to tell you. He doesn't know. The line between friends and something a bit more blurred but he doesn't remember how exactly it started.
They weren't even particularly close in the beginning, when they met and all through their time on the X Factor they were never alone together and they never had any proper conversations. He liked Liam alright, but he always got the feeling that Liam was freaked out by him and preferred hanging out with the calmer and quieter Zayn or the happy and funny, but less overwhelming Niall. Louis had always been used to people liking him, so it freaked him out, and he tried all he could to get on Liam's good side, pulling pranks, messing around with him, unsuccessfully, hugging him, but it seemed that the more he tried, the more Liam distanced himself from him.
The first time they spend any time alone together, just the two of them, was after the first week of the X Factor tour, and it was so awkward that Louis doesn't like to think about it, because they didn't talk at all, even though he really wanted to, they just sat next to each other staring at the TV for hours, and Louis maybe tried, but it was… there was nothing but uncomfortable tension. They've never talked about that night since.
He needed someone like Liam. Guys like Harry and Niall appealed to the playful, silly, childish side of him, and that was great, but he knew Liam could provide him with something a little deeper. Back then, he hadn't thought about Liam in a sexual or romantic way. He had about Zayn, and maybe Aiden, for the obvious, shallow reasons, but Liam intrigued him, made him think. He had never met anyone like him – and still hasn't to this day.
The second time was a week later; Zayn was out with his new girlfriend (none of them liked her, but thankfully it wasn't a long relationship, so they didn't have to deal with her for long) and Harry and Niall was out somewhere. Harry had asked Louis to come with him, but Louis, with Liam being in bed not feeling well, had seen an opportunity for much needed bonding time. He told Harry this, but Harry just looked at him all how odd, you weirdo, and left, dragging Niall with him instead. That is still something they have to work on, by the way, Harry, and even Louis himself, sometimes seeing Niall as the second choice. Louis is aware how they back then had a tendency for exclusiveness. Perphaps that is another thing that scared Liam away – afraid of being hurt or rejected as he had experienced in the past, at school.
Sometimes Louis hates himself for things he has done in the past - even if unintentional and random, he never meant to leave anyone out, especially not any of these boys.
Anyway, that second time they were alone together was still not perfect, he doesn't even remember today what they did or even if it was anything out of the ordinary, but he made Liam smile, and that must count as some kind of success.
It happened slowly. Somehow, miraculously, they became friends.
And he realised how funny Liam really was, without even trying at all, which is something he himself has never managed to be. They made each other laugh, and their friendship surprised the other boys, probably mostly because they'd never expected it, had learned to accept that they couldn't all be equally close and that was okay. He think maybe sometimes Harry was even a little bit jealous of Liam – not because he was interested in Louis in that way but because Louis was his. The fans were surprised, too, but they loved it, and Louis does not like to admit that he may have stalked the Lilo tag on tumblr, and back then he didn't know why he did it, it was just something he was compelled to do.
He knows now, maybe he has always sort of known, somewhere deep down.
They grew even closer after tour, and oh god it was so confusing. They went from playfully fighting and laughing and teasing and hugging, maybe snuggling sometimes, always almost something more – cheeky love bites and hand holding. They kissed, as a joke, as a dare, not serious and definitely platonically, until one day it wasn't anymore.
They were in Liam's flat, just hanging out – Niall was around somewhere too, maybe (probably) in the kitchen, but when he looked over at Liam and he looked so fascinated by what he was watching on the TV, something about koala bears or whatever, and his eyes were sparkling and wide and bright and Louis couldn't help himself as he leaned over and kissed him.
Liam pulled back almost immediately, shocked, surprised, but there was something in his eyes that Louis had never seen before, something hopeful. Niall walked back into the living room, munching on something, probably something unhealthy that he shouldn't be eating, and Louis hadn't noticed how close they had been sitting until he was quickly pulling away. Thankfully Niall was as oblivious as he always was.
They didn't talk about it for the rest of the night or indeed the next week, it was almost like they were back at how they were in the beginning. It was fucking awful, utter shit and he hated it with every fiber of his being. He was going insane so one day, a week later, he had pulled Liam away from the group, into an empty storage room and kissed him again, deeply this time, not letting Liam pull away, making him feel what he felt.
He did it again later that night, when they had gotten home.
"Louis, don't do that," Liam had said, but Louis could see in his eyes he didn't mean it.
He just shook his head, "But I want to."
He walked past Liam into the flat and when Liam had closed the door he turned towards him again, "Louis… please."
Louis, though, he didn't care about any of that. He held Liam's face between his hands so he couldn't pull away, and it was definitely not friendly.
Yeah, so that was how they began, physically at least. He thinks they have been emotionally connected for a lot longer.
And now? It's complicated. It's been years and there have been girlfriends, but he's in love with Liam, have been since the beginning he thinks, and he knows he should let him go, because they can't continue on like this, it's going absolutely nowhere, but he can't. He physically can't do it.
But they are in a successful band, and they have millions of fans all over the world, teenage girls who worship them, and if people found out they would lose it all. He wants to think that it doesn't matter in the modern world of pop music, but it does, and management would never allow them to be honest about it anyway.
He knew he had to stop it, stop them both from hurting, because it really fucking hurt, it hurts to know that you can never have the one person you desperately want. But they still did it, because they both knew they were going to hurt even more when they couldn't have each other anymore.
The boys didn't know, because it was simpler that way, but he's sure that at least Zayn suspected something, and they were not interested in dragging the boys down with them in this mess.
He'd go to Liam in the nights, when Harry was asleep and wouldn't notice that he was gone. They would barely speak when they meet like that, because there was nothing they could say that would make it better, but when they were in bed and he was tasting and feeling and sensing Liam everything was okay again, for a moment in time. The only thing he felt in those moments was happiness – it was what was feeling afterwards that made that whole relationship utterly hopeless.
He feels horrible when he occasionally wishes that there was no band and that they could just be together like that again and be happy, but he loves the band and the boys and the fame and the money and he doesn't want to give it up – and he would hate if he was the reason the other boys would have to give it up, or worse yet, fail, which is what would happen if people found out.
He loved that part, though, sleeping with this beautiful person in his arms, and he hates that he had to let it go. And he still has to continue on seeing Liam every day, with other people, kissing them and not him, it makes him sick.
"I love you," Liam whispered to him one night and Louis' heart jumped into his throat and it felt like every part of his body was on fire. It was real. He said it back, of course, how could he not, and for a short moment Liam let happiness, pure happiness, shine from his face and his eyes, where usually there was always a little glimpse of hesitation and insecurity.
That is his favourite memory.
"Hey," Liam said, as he usually did, when he opened the door for Louis that last night. Louis smiled at him and went inside, took his jacket off, and it was just like it normally was between them.
But what he had to do that time was not like it normally was. He thinks Liam could see it on his face, because he looked like he was expecting it, trying to prepare himself, but when Louis opened his mouth to speak, Liam panicked, his face turned white and he started hyperventilating.
Louis rushed over and pulled him down on the bed, throwing a comforting arm around him, and they just sat there holding each other for a couple of minutes. "Li, you know I have to do this."
He nodded, but he looked so heartbroken Louis almost couldn't bring himself to continue. "But we can't do this, we can't, and you know this."
"Yes," is all Liam said in response.
"I love you, but I love the band, too, and… more people would be hurt if there was no band, this way it's just going to be you and me…"
It's only going to be you and me hurting… He hated himself even as he was saying it, letting the fans mean more to him, because he knew it was bullshit, they were just afraid, fucking cowards, but he didn't know what else to do.
When he walked back to his own flat he let himself cry. But that was not the worst part – the worst part was that he knew Liam was doing the same thing, and it broke his heart, and it has never properly healed.
He misses him even though he sees him every day still, but it's not the same. He misses being alone together, cuddling on the sofa, laughing and playing, being silly, because they did that a lot, soft hair and tender fingers. He misses love.
People noticed it too, that their relationship changed again, that they went back to how they were in the X Factor days. They could, he guesses, still be interacting with each other in their usual playful way, but it hurts too much being that close, knowing that is as close as they'll ever be. So they just don't, to spare themselves the pain. They boys thought it was strange at first, but they didn't talk about it or even mention it, and maybe they just believed that rumour the fans on twitter had made up – that Liam didn't like Louis' new girlfriend. If only the truth had been as simple as that – at least that would be something they could have dealt with and worked out.
But it's for the best.
… Well, that what he tells himself anyway (it's all lies, though). But it was worth it; it was worth the pain in the end being with Liam even if it ended the way it had to.