Five Days

"What's the worst that could possibly happen? It's only five days."| As head assistant to late night talkshow host James Corden, Alicia Mendez has dealt with her fair share of obnoxious celebrities. So when reknowned boy band member Harry Styles is announced as a week long guest in honor of his solo debut, she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, he's exactly who she's stuck with for the next five days.

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1. D A Y O N E

D A Y  O N E

It started out like any other day. Alicia took no notice of the fact that her colleagues were running around a bit more frantically, nor that somebody had sworn loudly in the break room because their shaky hands had dropped the new coffee pot. No, she was mentally preparing herself to finally pitch an idea at the weekly meeting.

"You can do this." She said to herself as she flipped through her folder once more, "You're his right hand man for christ's sake. He adores you."

Alicia Mendez had been working with James for the past three years. In those three years he had gone from Mr. Corden to James, and from frightening boss to obvious teddy bear. James and his family had opened their home to her, and on various occasions had shown that she was much more than merely an assistant. And that was just fine with her considering that she had moved to LA alone to take the job.

So it was stupid of her to think he would shut down her pitch, wasn't it? She knew that she had to have more confidence in herself. That whole, "fake it til you make it deal" and everything. But after spending the past five months trying to pitch an idea, she knew that she had to actually try to speak during meetings instead of just being the designated note taker. She wasn't supposed to be an assistant forever, right?

"Alicia."

"Yes?"

Her head popped up and she felt her glass slide down upon her nose. She pushed them back up in one swoop as she closed the folder with her other hand.

James smiled at her from the doorway, "Mornin', darling. Talking to ourselves again, are we?" He asked in his now more slightly Americanized British accent.

Alicia flushed, "N-no."

"It's not a bad thing, heard it's a marker of intelligence or something like that."

"Yeah, okay." She said, rolling her eyes as she collected both her folder and the one James had her prepare last night."We should get going."

"Did you take a look at the guest star for this week?"

"Oh, no. I just printed out all of the things you-"

"Good. Great. It'll be a surprise for you at least." James said as clapped his hands. He looked incredibly elated. She had only seen him get that way because of a celebrity guest a few times before.

"What do you mean?"

"Some bugger in the media department found out and told everyone my surprise. It's a wonder you haven't heard, really." He said, furrowing his blonde brows as his steps quickened. Alicia tried to match his steps, but her heels had her at a slight disadvantage.

"Is it really that big a deal?"

James stopped in his tracks and turned to face her, "It's huge, Ali. Huge."

Alicia tilted her head, knowing full well that she could care less who in the hell it was that was coming. She was just a tad taken aback that James clearly wanted her to care as much as he did. He knew full well that was not about to happen. If he wanted to see people get excited over his planned guest appearances he would have to settle for whoever broke the new coffeepot or Lorraine or Milo from PR. They were obviously the only two who, no matter what happened, would still continue to worship celebrities as if they were some kind of idols.

As the girl who had to directly deal with the talent, Alicia was no longer particularly starstruck. Her encounters with celebrities had quickly shown her that Hollywood wasn't all it was made up to be. From throwing a milkshake at Justin Bieber's head because he actually had the gall to tell her that she had taken too long at the drive through, and then proceeded to try to pat her on the behind, to "accidently" spilling juice on Ariana Grande's Versace dress after she had pointedly told James that he should hire new help, Alicia was probably the last person that would shriek over a guest announcement. But James just didn't seem to get that, even considering her history, go figure.

"I'm serious, we've never done anything like this before." He murmured as they got closer to the main conference room. She could already see that everyone was in their seats through the large windows.

"Alright." James said the moment he walked into the room, clapping his hands again as he tended to do when he had a great deal of nervous energy to exert, "I'm sure we've all heard," He began, his voice booming in the large room.

Alicia quickly grabbed her seat, placing both folders in front of her. Before placing James' in his usual spot to her right at the head of the table, she took a glance at the guest appearance slots for the week. Every single one of the 5 slots had one name next to them Harry Styles.

"For the love of God." She said a little too loudly.

James turned to look at her with a confused look upon his face as he was clearly in the midst of his empowering speech.

She waved for him to continue, ignoring all of the pointed glares now coming at her in all directions.

Alicia simply could not believe that James was that excited about having that pompous boy bander for an entire week. What could a boy like Harry Styles possibly do all week in the first place? Judging by his infuriatingly slow drawl it would take the whole show for him to read off of a cue card. James must have been losing it.

She recalled the first time she had met him, and the various other times that they had encountered each other. Each and every time the English pop star refused to acknowledge her. James believed they would be natural friends, thought that they had similar personalities. Alicia couldn't disagree more.

Whereas Harry was incredibly obnoxious and loud when around James and his family, Alicia was more of a quiet observer. Of course she laughed at jokes and cracked her own, but she never thought it becoming to demand the attention of the entire room at every second. Harry was just too used to being in the spotlight, thought it should be on him at all times.

Okay, so they hadn't even said two words to each other, and the last time they had met he was going through some weird ass phase where he was on a cleanse for most of the time he was in LA and refused to wear deodorant because it was "just another harmful chemical that we were forced to use on our bodies because of backwards societal constructs". Maybe he had changed. But, then again, when do celebrities ever change for the better?

Alicia just couldn't focus on James' words, all she kept plotting was how she would get out of waiting hand and foot on Harry Styles. The last thing she wanted to do was drive an hour everyday to get those stupid juices for him again because "They have to be from Maddie's shop in Malibu, she's the only one who makes them the right way." She could already hear his ridiculously slow drawl asking her to pass the fruit bowl. She was not going to allow James to push her into-

"And Alicia will be Harry's personal assistant for the entirety of the week. As my right hand woman, I know that she'll take care of him as well as she takes care of me."

Alicia couldn't even form words. Alicia looked at James, hoping it was some cruel joke. She felt Milo shift beside her, his hand raising as he quickly argued, "She knows absolutely nothing about Harry or his campaign. How could she possibly be of any help!? Do you even know the name of his album? That he was even going solo?"

Alicia turned to look at him with a terribly uninterested look upon her face, clearly giving him the answer he was expecting.

"See! She doesn't know the first thing about him!"

"Milo, please. Calm down" Lorraine said, pushing strands of her fiery hair back from her face as she confidently pleaded her case, "As the heads of PR it would be optimal for Milo and I to take care of Mr. Styles of the week. We can prep him for his interviews, segments, and teach him how to interview the other guests that are coming on the show. Isn't that what you want?" Of the two she was clearly the most poised, probably the one thing Alicia envied about her.

"I need you both taking care of social media, that's your job and that's where I need you. It's a big week. You'll be working with Harry's team as well, we've never done anything like this before. Anyways, Alicia is more than qualified to handle Harry on her own. Not that he's much to handle in the first place, kind lad." He said, a warm smile sprawling upon his face, "And I know that she'll treat him as family, just as she would treat any of my very close friends."

Alicia couldn't even look at James in the eye, she was too furious. Milo though missed no chance to argue, "I would treat him as family, no problem."

"No, you'd treat him like a piece of meat." Bradley, one of the junior producers, said from the other end of the table.

Milo feigned shock, "Me? Excuse you, I am a professional."

"I saw you talking to a picture of him last week."

"That wasn't what-"

"It was framed on your desk."

The room erupted into laughter, but Alicia just didn't find the humor in it.

Milo didn't let it phase him though, he quickly rebutted, "We're really going to let the girl who drenched Justin Bieber from head to toe in strawberry milkshake take care of Harry Styles!?"

"He's got a point." Alicia said, shrugging, "Who knows, I might dump that obnoxious kale smoothie he drinks on his curly head."

"Alicia." James said, giving her a firm look.

Milo gasped, Lorraine simply shook her head. The others looked on with clear interest, this was probably one of the most interesting meetings they've ever had. And technically, it hadn't even begun yet.

"I'm just saying." Alicia continued, leaning back in her seat, "If Milo and Lorraine want to take care of him, I have no problems with it." She tried, she really did, "Anyways, I still have to take care of the other guests this week."

"No, no, I will be taking care of them."

"Then why don't you take care of Harry?"

"Are you seriously fighting with me during a staff meeting?"

Alicia sighed and rubbed her temples, "Fine. I'll take care of the overgrown hippie child."

"That's the spirit." James said cheerily, clearly trying to get her spirits up, "What's the worst that can happen? It's only five days."

She knew that in a few months she'd be laughing about the whole thing with her best friend Clara and her mom and brother, but all she could keep thinking about was the fact that she was finally ready to pitch an idea, but no, instead she was being passed down to Harry Styles as his personal servant for the week.

"Alright, let's get this meeting started then." James said, grabbing the folder that Alicia had dutifully prepared last night for him.

Meanwhile, the one she had prepared for herself with the notes for her first pitch, she quickly hid under her notebook. There was no use in speaking up now, her role was clear. She was the assistant, nothing more.

---

As he drove onto the lot of Studio 65, Harry felt a wave of nostalgia hit him fiercely. There were moments when he truly felt the absences of the other four boys, and this was without a doubt one of them. While he was getting used to the feeling of being a solo artist, there was still something incredibly peculiar about performing on shows that he had a history with. That he and his former band had performed on.

The last time that he had been on the show was a strange day. Zayn had just announced his departure, Lou was out of sorts, and Liam had just broken up with his girlfriend. Harry didn't quite recall what was bothering him, but he was sure it was the vibe they were giving off. They weren't a united front anymore, and it showed.

It made sense that he didn't recognize any of his surroundings, he didn't really take them into account that previous time. In fact, it was as if this was his first time here. And maybe, it was better this way.

He didn't even finish parking his Range Rover before he spotted James running towards his car. The older, portly, man ran towards him chuckling. Harry couldn't help but jump out of his car and open his arms to welcome James into his embrace. The two hugged for what seemed like perhaps an inappropriate amount of time for two men, but they didn't care. In fact, if Harry hadn't have heard the pointed cough in the background, he might have never have broken the warm embrace with his dear friend.

"Ah, right. Yes." James said, adjusting his suit jacket and tie. His eyes crinkled at the corners from the width of his smile, "Harry, I'm so glad you've come."

Harry grinned, "Wouldn't miss it for the world. Thanks for having me, mate. You'll be dying to get rid of me within a week though, so don't thank me just yet."

"You wanker, no one is thanking you." James responded, clasping a hand on Harry's shoulder. The two still ignoring the small girl with the large clipboard and equally as sizable thick rimmed glasses.

Harry looked over at her discreetly, not quite being able to place her. James had mentioned her over the phone, said they had met before. But honestly, he just didn't remember her.

"Right, well, this is Alicia." James said, leading Harry over to his new assistant for the week. Alicia shifted uncomfortably as she extended her hand. James looked at her and smiled a little bit more forcibly, almost as if pleading with her to mimic him.

She smiled, unwillingly, as she said, "Nice to formally meet you, Mr. Styles."

"We've met?" Harry said, as his hand grasped hers. And then he remembered, "Oh shit, you were the tiny thing that Lou made get my juices and run our errands."

"That's right." She responded, nodding stupidly with that overly fake smile still plastered upon her face, "That's me."

"Well, clearly not anymore, love. You look all the part of a Hollywood assistant."

"Yes." She said, adjusting her glasses, "How lovely to look the part I'll always be playing."

James cleared his throat and quickly said, "You two met so long ago, and it was just in passing wasn't it?"

"With the other boys." Harry added.

"It was almost a lifetime ago. I'm sure you've both become completely different people since then."

Harry felt his face flush, he knew that this girl didn't like him. He couldn't blame her. He was a different person with the boys, someone he wasn't always particularly proud of. He knew that James was trying to defend him, peg his previous disregard of Alicia on his teenage ways. But that was no excuse, not even close.

"Right. Well. We have a busy day, so if we want to keep on schedule..." Alicia said tapping at the clearly marked piece of paper on her clipboard.

"Right, right." James said, "Duh." He added while shaking his head in faux disbelief, "I'm sorry for the hold up. I'll catch up with you soon, Harry. I'm leaving you in the best of hands. I promise."

"I don't doubt it." Harry replied, looking straight at Alicia, trying to show her that he was being genuine.

She promptly ignored him.

"Have a good day you two, and Alicia give Harry a tour. It's been awhile since he's been here."

Alicia grimaced, "Yeah, yeah. Get a move on or you'll be late for filming again."

Harry chuckled, "He lets you talk to him like that?"

She looked at him from the corner of her eye before turning around and marching back towards the studio, "I'm his assistant. We're pretty close."

"So are we."

"I know."

"So why haven't we ever-"

"Gotten to know each other?"

"Yeah."

She turned around and glared at him, "Probably because I'm just the assistant."

Harry quickly shook his head, "No, no. I didn't mean it like that."

Alicia smiled disdainfully, "I'm sure you didn't. Come on now, I have to get you to your dressing room before your first meeting."

Harry felt like a bloody idiot. He should have known that when Corden had insisted on giving him his personal assistant for the week he should have said no. The last thing this girl clearly wanted was to be stuck with him all week. And he couldn't blame her.

He watched her walk in front of him, one tiny step after another, in the small corridor that led to his now ridiculously large dressing room. It was the same one he and the boys had been in previously, but with three less people to share it with, it almost seemed empty.

Alicia stood in the doorway as Harry looked around. He smiled when he saw the bowl of at least three bunches of bananas and the pre-bottles green juices.

"You remembered."

"How could I forget?" She sighed.

"For such little time we spent together, you sure do remember a lot about me." He said playfully.

Alicia didn't reciprocate, "You're meeting is right down the hall. Room 453"

"You're not taking me?"

"I have other things to do."

"I thought your schedule was cleared so you could just-"

"Be yours for the week?" She said, her hand coming up to her hip in a defiant pose. She looked about 6 inches taller with just the tilt of her hips.

"No, no, I just-"

"Listen Harry," She said, stepping into the dressing room and closing the door behind her, "I know you're not used to people not liking you, but unfortunately you'll have to deal with my indifference for the week."

"Jeez," He muttered, daring to take a step closer to her. He could see her brow furrow immediately from the close proximity to him, "You know, I'm not the same kid you met before. Just as I know you're not the same girl."

She nodded, "Well, you're right," Alicia leaned in close enough for Harry to gain a blush in his cheeks. He could feel the warmth radiating off of her tan skin, and could smell the coconut from her hair. The last thing he expected was for her to do was take an obnoxious whiff right above Harry's right shoulder and say, "You've finally learned the importance of wearing deodorant."

He had to stop himself from chuckling, knew that she was trying to stand her ground. But now he couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, this week might end up being fun for the both of them.

---

"Show's in ten." Milo yelled from his corner office down the hallway.

Alicia simply rolled her eyes and continued typing away. While today was not the day she got to pitch an idea for a segment, another chance would surely come along. And when it did, she would be prepared.

"Where is he?"

She looked up to find the annoying high-pitched voice to belong to no one other than Milo. He had been hovering over her all day, hoping to catch Harry's attention. He hadn't, clearly.

"He's with James? Why would he be with me if it's ten minutes before the show?"

"Aren't you his right hand this week?" Milo made an obscene gesture with his own hand and Alicia had to resist the urge to throw her stapler at him.

"Jealous much?" She said, raising her eyebrows, shutting her laptop and preparing to go to the stage. Milo didn't get the hint though and remained in the same spot.

"At least I got here on my own merits, honey." He said smilingly, almost as if they were having a chat over tea, "Not because a favor someone owed my mommy."

Before she could even formulate a response he was gone. He had gotten in his jab at her for the day, surely he'd be back tomorrow with the next one.

She took a deep breath and tried to compose herself when she heard James mumble, "Why in the hell are you not out on the stage yet?"

"Why aren't you there?" She retorted.

"The show doesn't start without me. And I'm not starting the show without you."

"Since when does it matter if I'm there or not!?"

"Since you promised me you'd take care of Harry."

"What kind of taking care does he even need, this is ridiculous, James." She said as she tried to hurriedly follow him down the corridor and up the flight of stairs. She was surprised he wasn't out of breath and she was nearly heaving.

"We all need family when we go out into the world alone for the first time, you should know that more than anyone." He said, his cerulean eyes going as soft as his voice.

Alicia gave in, "Fine." She hated being blackmailed into being a good person.

---

Okay, so maybe she didn't give Harry enough credit. He was able to read his cue cards flawlessly, sometimes he didn't even need them. But the true test would be the live performance. Would he have the stamina to sing after a whole hour of entertaining?

She watched from the side of the stage as Harry grasped the microphone, his assortment of silver rings all glinting haphazardly from the spotlight directly above him. While Alicia didn't want him to fail, she could almost see the anxiety coursing through him. He emanated a tumultuous mixture of nervous energy that seemed to make her own stomach flip flop in sympathy.

As the lights dimmed and the piano began to play, she could see something switch on in him, and the moment he began to sing, it all washed away. His eyes turned a darker shade of green, she could see it even from the other side of the stage. His once taut body began to loosen, his hands carrying the rhythm and his feet stomping along with the melody. His voice carried throughout the space, a deep and soulful sound that transformed the world around him. And when he hit that chorus? Oh god, it was euphoric. The piano and guitar and drums all seamlessly clashed together with his raspy but just as equally smooth voice and Alicia almost melted.

She never melted.

Harry was by no means the best live performer, who was? He missed a note or two, made it apparent by a slight grimace accompanied by a tightening of his fist around the microphone stand.

But it was of no matter. The song was haunting. It made Alicia yearn for starry nights and late night drives on the clear high way. It made her wish for her father and mother and for everything she never wanted to admit to herself she missed. And she thought that maybe, maybe Harry felt the same.

Embarrassingly enough she was the first one on her feet when he finished, clapping wildly. It was out of character, that was for certain. Even James was laughingly looking at her as he applauded for his dear friend. Harry hadn't looked up though, didn't dare to. Perhaps it was the adrenaline still running through his veins. But when he finally did, her heart began to palpitate a bit faster. He looked up to meet her gaze, smiling sheepishly as he realized that she had stood up along with the rest of the audience. He nodded slightly, almost as if thanking her for seeing him through the roughest part of the night.

She had never heard the song before, even as much as everyone raved about it. But god was she glad she had avoided listening to it until now.

---

Alicia didn't say anything as she knocked on his dressing room door, simply opened it after a second and stuck her head in. He turned to look at her, a look she couldn't quite decipher upon his face.

"Bowie?" She asked.

He nodded, "Bowie."

She smirked, "See you tomorrow, Styles."

They didn't need to say anything else, it was enough. For now, they had reached at least a middle ground.

Alicia pulled out her phone and without a second of reluctance downloaded Harry's single. As soon as it downloaded and she was safely back in the confines of her office, she placed her earbuds in and let the music drown the world out. It was stuck in her head. What else could she do? The kid was actually pretty good. But she would never let him or James know that. No, she knew better.

---

"Great job, mate" James said, clasping Harry's shoulder once more as they met in the parking lot. Harry was going to spend the week at James', as he was accustomed to doing whenever he came to see him.

"Thanks." He said, bashfully.

"Don't get humble, you killed it, H."

"Alright, alright."

"Did you see Ali? I've never seen her give anyone a standing ovation."

"Oh? I didn't notice." He said, placing his bag in the back of James' car.

"I saw you smiling at her."

"Oh, please. You always see what you want, mate."

"Alright." James said, obviously not letting it go, "I'm just saying. You two should get to know each other."

"Right. Playing matchmaker again? How did that fare for you last time?"

"Wasn't my fault Niall doesn't have any table manners, poor girl was traumatized by him. Can't order steak anymore, just imagines it all bloodied and half chewed."

"Vile." Harry remarked.

"But he's not you and she's not Ali."

"Ali is your assistant."

"But she's nothing to you."

"Technically she's my assistant." Harry tried.

"For the week."

"And after that week I'm back to England, so what's your point?"

"Alright." James said, throwing his hands up in the air, "I give up."

"Good. Let it go."

"Okay."

"James."

"I said I was letting it go."

Harry knew he was in fact not letting it go. But it was of no matter, Alicia would never be interested in him, she had made that clear. At best they would come to an understanding by the end of the week.

But that smile she had given him, the sight of her applauding him. It sure was something.

"So, what do you want to eat for dinner?" James asked.

"Anything's fine. I'm not very peckish."

Harry laid back and closed his eyes in the dark cab of the car. He still had a long week ahead of him, after all, it was only day one.

 

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