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"This isn't the end, it's the beginning of a whole new chapter. We just have to learn to define ourselves this time around." | Happily ever afters are just the beginnings of new stories, at least that's what aspiring PR agent Reagan Bailey is learning. After seemingly getting it right with international pop star and 1/4 of One Direction, Harry Styles, things begin to fall apart within the band and in the boys' live as everything begins to change. While the boys are in the midst of their indefinite hiatus and are beginning to pursue other interests, Reagan must try to hold the group together before they decide they're better off going their separate ways.
*Sequel to "Labels"*

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20. NINETEEN

NINETEEN

It wasn't that Louis was in complete denial about the bomb his sister had just dropped on him, no, but to say he was willing to make sense of the emotional turmoil the news had caused within him was a stretch. He had grown so accustomed to running away from anything that would make him feel remotely human, that he just shut down. You see, denial means to refuse that something has happened. That's not what was going on here. Louis accepted it, he knew that he couldn't change a thing. What he refused to accept were the feelings he would undoubtedly have to deal with at some point about the matter. 

So he did what he did best—he bolted. 

Louis got into his car, put the key into the ignition, and drove so fast out of Reagan's driveway he didn't even realize he was already at the stop sign on the corner. He broke just in time, the sudden halt throwing him forward. 

"Fuck"  He muttered. The knot in his throat only grew larger, but he couldn't acknowledge it—wouldn't acknowledge it. 

He turned up the radio, feeling the suffocating silence that was enveloping him dissipate. The beat of whatever it was that was playing helped drown out the words he had unwillingly heard Lottie mumble through choked back sobs. 

He tried to think of the envelopes, of the projects, of the album. He tried to think about anything but the mess that was his personal life.  

His phone buzzed, but he ignored it. Figuring that whoever it was, wasn't important. Everyone important was already in a row with him. Who would possibly want to text him now? 

Louis racked his brain, thinking that perhaps it was Kennedy. It didn't matter that he coyly attempted to put her in her so-called place. That he had tried to convince her that they would never be. He knew that he didn't mean it. She, without a doubt, knew that he was full of shit. But that was something he just couldn't fathom dealing with either. Better to leave it be for now. 

He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he blankly looked out at the road in front of him. He had gotten rather good at disconnecting if he did say so himself. 

In a twist of fate, though, the radio's calming effect took a turn as the next song came on. He had barely been listening to the lyrics, couldn't have told you what it was that was playing before, but the melody was unmissable. It was the song he had heard her sing thousands of times. The one she hummed as she brushed her hair in the morning, the one that had lulled him into a serene sleep as a child. 

He pulled over at this point.

He couldn't hold it in any longer. He couldn't pretend his way out of this one, it seemed. 

"Cancer," He said shaking his head "Why did it have to be bloody cancer?"

Louis slammed his steering wheel, resisting the urge to scream. All he could see was his mother's face, the crinkles around her eyes, her steady hands. All he wanted was for it to not be true. 

But it didn't matter how fast he drove, how loud the music was, or how good he was at pretending. His mother was dying, she would be gone in a matter of months. 

Nothing he didor didn't dowould bring her back. 

---

A few nights later, Kennedy watched through heavy half-lidded eyes Reagan typed away upon her computer. Kennedy had homework to do, but she just couldn't find the motivation to actually complete it. Not that this was anything new, per say, but it was a tad worrisome considering she had two papers due the following week. 

Kennedy sighed obnoxiously and turned on her side. It was only community college, she figured. Why kill herself over it in the end?

"Kenz?"

"Yeah?"

Reagan slammed her computer shut and looked over at her sister, "I need Tylenol."

"One or two?"

"The whole bottle."

"It can't be that bad."

"No...it's worse."

"Oh come on, what did they do now."

"Aside from refusing to speak to each other and acting like divas?"

"Divas?"

"I didn't stutter."

"There's no way."

Reagan threw a list of demands that was left upon her desk that morning at Kennedy, "You know, they refuse to talk to each other, but they somehow can manage to compile this together."

Kennedy had to restrain herself from laughing, "Louis wants to be exactly two people apart from Liam at every moment?"

"That's correct."

"What about carpool karaoke?"

"You know, that's really not my problem." Reagan said, rubbing her temples, "As long as I get their asses on the set, it's no longer any of my concern how they get them to do their jobs."

Kennedy grimaced, "Yikes."

"If I could describe my life in one word, that would be the one."

"Yikes." Kennedy laughed. 

"I'm totally serious."

"But you're like, dating Harry Styles."

"That's not the answer to everything, Kennedy. It's not like me dating a boy makes my life complete."

"No, but he can certainly help you relieve some of that tension at night."

Reagan threw a pillow at Kennedy, almost hitting her square in the face. The pillow, though, hit the wall behind them with a dull thud. 

"Am I wrong, though?" Kennedy said smugly. 

Reagan shook her head, "Anyways,"

"Changing the subject as always." 

"Why do you want to know about my sex life?" Kennedy looked at Reagan wide-eyed, "What?" Reagan asked. 

"You said sex."

"So?"

"You wouldn't even acknowledge that you guys had done it before."

"Ugh, Kenz, come on."

"Can I just ask..."

"What?"

"How big is he?"

"KENNEDY!"

"YOU SAID I COULD ASK!"

"NO I DID NOT! I ASKED WHY YOU WANT TO KNOW!"

Kennedy burst out laughing instantaneously, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Reagan tried to restrain herself from encouraging her sister, but tears were streaming down her face from her raucous laughter. 

"Look, in all seriousness, I just wanted to know how you're doing...in that respect."

"Because you haven't?"

"I didn't say that."

"Kennedy!"

"What? You think I haven't?"

"You're like twelve."

"And you're like thirty, why hadn't you?"

"I am not thirty."

"Well, we were being hyperbolic."

"Well, that's nothing to joke about."

Kennedy shrugged.

"Kenz, really though, have you?"

"I-I kind of did, yeah."

"What do you mean kind of?"

"I did, it just, it wasn't important."

"How-"

"Before you start, let me just tell you I'm fine. It was okay. It was a while ago. I'm over it."

"With who?"

"You don't know him."

"Did you?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Kenz, you know exactly what it means."

"It wasn't a big deal, okay. We just wanted to get it over with."

"I didn't know you felt that way about it."

Kennedy shrugged, "You know me, always impatient."

"Yeah."

"But, uh, I don't know. Was it worth waiting?"

"For Harry?"

"Yeah."

Reagan nodded, hoping her face wasn't bright red, "Without a doubt."

"I don't think I'm that kind of girl, Rae."

"That's not a bad thing."

"I think I just...want to know what's out there."

"That's good. Really good."

"Why?" Kennedy said eyeing her suspiciously. Reagan didn't want to say it, and within seconds Kennedy understood why. "Because it'll keep me away from Louis, right?"

"You said it, not me," Reagan said, defensively holding up a hand. 

"It's whatever at this point, it's not going to happen."

Reagan didn't believe her sister, she didn't think Kennedy believed herself at this point. She knew that deep within her heart there was nothing more she wanted than Louis. 

"You really don't think so?"

At this point, Kennedy knew it was better to lie to herself, and to her sister. Better to do that then to keep holding on to some naive hope that Louis would come to his senses and rise above all the bullshit in his life to choose her. 

"Nah, it's not the right time. Maybe in another universe."

Reagan tilted her head, her pout turned downwards "That's really sad, Kenz."

"It is what it is...you still want that Tylenol?"

Reagan nodded, "Yeah."

"I'll be right back."

"Thanks!"

Kennedy took a deep breath as she shut the door behind her. She leaned against the wall adjacent to her, hoping to steady herself. She wondered if he was okay. She couldn't ask Reagan, wouldn't dare at this point. Harry didn't know either. Maybe it was better that way. She was beginning to wonder if she really should just let him go if she should forget about him and let him continue on his destructive path. 

Her phone vibrates in her back pocket, and as she pulls it out she contemplates deleting Louis' number altogether. She didn't need to keep putting herself through this, did she?

Louis: Can I see you?

Apparently, she realized as she responded to the message she received with a when? without even a second thought, she did. 

...

As the thought bubble populated and subsequently disappeared, she immediately panicked and thought that he had changed his mind. She locked her phone once more, and just as she was about to put it back in her pocket it vibrated back to life. 

Tonight okay? I can pick you up at yours.

Yeah. I'll be ready in an hour. 

And just like that, she knew. This wasn't the end, it was only the beginning. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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