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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5. D A Y F I V E

D A Y  F I V E

Okay, admittedly, Alicia had perhaps gone a little overboard when seeing Milo. She would never admit it, especially to Harry, but it was simple: She had clearly overreacted. 

As it was, she knew that she would never live down her little, whatever it was that she had, with Harry. That in itself was enough to haunt her for the rest of her career, that she was sure of. Especially since Milo had snapped that picture. Yet, Harry believed that did not warrant her running after Milo, much less tackling him to the ground. She wouldn't dwell on what followed, mostly because it all happened so fast it seemed like a blur, but Harry still wouldn't let it go, even though it happened, like, fifteen hours ago.

"You're like a bloody quarter back, Ali! Who would've thought?" He looked at her up and down, smirking all the while. 

She looked at him pointedly, "Shouldn't you be packing?"

"Don't be mean."

Alicia sighed, trying her best to drown out his pointless banter. While she was fully aware of the fact that it was Harry's last day in LA, she was also conscious of the fact that she got incredibly lucky last night. 

Upon slamming Milo to the ground, she pinned his arm and wiggled his phone out of his grasp. He had it unlocked, making her quickly plotted plan that much easier. Except that when she accessed his pictures, she realized that the only one he had managed to snap was completely ruined by his own thumb. All she could see in the corner were hers and Harry's feet dangling off that terribly dressed bed. You couldn't even tell it was her, you could of course tell it was him by the ridiculous Gucci boots, but that was not her main concern. 

Milo had screamed and yelled, you know, considering that when she toppled him onto the ground she had managed to hurt him incredibly. Who would of thought? She was a small thing, as Harry liked to imply, and truly she didn't even think she would've hurt him that badly. It was the adrenaline rush, probably. 

Harry continued laughing as he walked out of the parking lot with her, his arm slightly brushing hers. The electricity she felt from the contact made her feel a weird mixture of shame and excitement. Then again, that's what she had been feeling all week, the shame much more so apparent though. But after last night, after almost sealing the deal so to say with Harry, she realized that the excitement now outweighed the shame. Why should she be ashamed in the first place? She should be ecstatic! Any girl in her right mind would be, wouldn't she? She knew that the last four days she had spent hating not only Harry, but herself, were pointless.  She figured she should at the very least confess her attraction to Harry, not only to James, but to Harry as well, before word got out about what had happened last night.

James might be the easier one to talk to, admittedly. Simply because she knew he had been rooting for them from the start. Sure, okay, it was inappropriate to mix work and her personal life like this, but when hadn't she to be completely honest? She lived at James' house for a good month at one point last year. She babysat his kids and helped with the dishes when she came over for dinner. The truth about where she stood with Harry was the least she owed him.

So she was a little apprehensive, why shouldn't she be. Every day she'll probably hear some jab about it, every time a celebrity guest comes there will be chatter about her wanting to screw him, and whenever Harry comes around again for a visit, without a doubt she'll never hear the end of it. But she chose her fate long ago, and now she's finally come to accept it. Whatever happens between her and Harry happens, but these past five days, well, they were unforgettable. 

"You going to talk to James?" Harry asked, stuffing his car keys into his back pocket. 

"Yeah."

"You think he already heard?"

"Did you tell him?"

Harry shook his head, "Took a cold shower and went straight to bed last night, didn't say a peep."

"Cold shower?"

Harry shrugged, "Left me in a tough spot, Ali."

She rolled her eyes, "Well we were interrupted, that's not on me."

"What if we weren't?" He says, not looking at her. The smile had fallen off his face as well, she noted. 

"If we weren't...well, who knows." She shrugged.

"Would we have?"

"Probably."

He smirked, "Yeah?"

"Let it go."

"No, now I can't let it go." He said, tugging at her hand, "Now all I want is-"

She slapped him away, "We're too busy today to be doing this."

"Well, we wouldn't have been short handed if you hadn't tackled poor Milo."

"Poor Milo? You're kidding right?"

"He wasn't going to do anything."

"You don't know that."

"The picture was unrecognizable anyways."

"That's not the point."

"He hasn't told James?"

Alicia shook her head, "I imagine not." 

"I don't think he'd be too surprised that you're behind this."

"What?"

"That you caused this whole mess. You know, considering your reputation with celebrity guests."

"Then no one would be surprised if I give you a black eye?"

"It would be more believable than rumors of you and I being together."

She looked at him sharply, "Why do you say that?"

"Because people who know you would know that you would never stoop this low."

"Stop."

"I'm serious. No one would ever believe that you fell for me, so please stop worrying about it."

"I'm not worrying."

"Yes you are, the little spot between your eyebrows is wrinkled and your mouth is all pouty."

She rubbed her forehead and tilted her head, "How did you know-"

"I like you." He said matter of factly, "I like you a lot."

"So you notice things."

"I do."

They paused for a second outside the door to the studio. The sun was barely beginning to rise, and she knew the crew would start coming in soon, but it didn't stop her from pushing back a few loose tendrils of hair off of Harry's face. 

He grabbed her hand as it brushed his skin, and she didn't resist. In fact, she leaned in, allowing her lips to graze his. 

It was seconds later, when she pulled back and he made a pained face at the loss of contact, that she told him, "I like you too."

Small as it was, this moment, it was everything to her. 

---

"So it was just a twisted ankle?" James asked as he watched Alicia nervously push her glasses back onto the bridge of her nose.

She nodded, "Yeah, happened last night after the show ended."

"And how do you know? Why would he tell you of all people. I thought you two weren't friendly."

"We're not, I just happened to be around last night."

"Oh?"

"Yeah."

"What about Harry?"

"What about him?"

"Was he around too?"

Alicia sighed, as much as she wanted this meeting with James to be as short as possible, she relented and took a seat in one of the two plush chairs in front of his desk. 

James continued his interrogation, "He didn't come in til late last night."

"So? Maybe he was out to dinner with someone?"

"Do you know who?"

"What would I possibly know about Harry's life?"

James looked at her with a painfully obvious expression, telling her that he knew exactly what was going on and that it was time to finally give it up. She didn't even know why she was resisting, she had already made up her mind that she was going to tell him. Pride is a funny thing, isn't it?

Alicia sighed, "Fine."

"Fine what?"

"I-I get along with Harry."

"Okay, so you two have been getting along, what of it?" James said, playing dumb.

"We've been getting along...too well."

"How do you get along too well with someone?"

Alicia felt like she was going to scream. She knew what James was doing, knew that he was making her suffer since he had already told her many times that she and Harry would become fast friends. 

"Okay, fine, look." She said taking a breath before continuing, "Milo twisted his ankle last night because of me."

"Because of you?" He said, genuinely surprised. This was not the twist he expected this conversation to take. 

"I um...I tackled him."

James rubbed his temples, trying to compose himself before speaking. 

Alicia continued, "I really didn't mean to."

"You sure like to make a muck of things."

"It's my thing, isn't it?"

"What did he do, then? He must've done something."

Alicia nodded, "He uh, he took a picture of me and Harry."

"Doing what."

Alicia felt her face flush and attempted to clear her throat to no avail, "We were uh, we were..."

"You were?"

"We were kissing."

James' jaw dropped, "You two were snogging!? Bloody hell!" 

Alicia said nothing, simply covered her face with her hands. She couldn't look at James, not until she could compose herself. 

"So this is a thing?" He asked, trying to calm down. James was downright giddy though, Alicia almost hated him for it. But then she thought of the alternative and realized this was okay. Embarrassing as hell, but better he be happy than mad. 

"I-I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"I haven't even known him for a week yet, you need to calm down." She said, trying to reason with him.

"You've known him for as long as you've known me!" He paused for a second to think about and yelled out, "That's years!"

"James, just because we interacted briefly does not mean we "know" each other."

"Well, you do now." He said very smugly. 

"James." She pleaded.

"You can't let him leave her without defining what it is you two have."

"I don't even want to define what we have."

"So this is on you?"

"No!"

"It is."

"He doesn't want a serious relationship. Look at all the girls he's dated."

"No, that's what his agents want you to think. Gives him an edge, you know?"

"Like I haven't heard that before." Alicia said, rolling her eyes.

"I'm serious!"

"Oh, so all of the hookups and all of the girls have been a lie."

"Uhhh."

"See, you can't even give me a straight answer."

"Do you care?"

She shook her head, "I don't. What good is it being tied down at such a young age? Good for him that he's gotten to date around. It solidifies his rock star status and all that sexist crap."

"Then?"

"Then what?"

"What's the problem?"

"There is no problem. You're the one making it into the problem." 

"Alicia, darling, you're talking to me. I know you."

She sighed, "This is truly none of your concern, and I find it highly inappropriate that you're forcing me to talk about this with you right now."

"Oh, do you know?" He said snarkily, "I find it highly inappropriate you've been canoodling with a guest star, but you don't see me giving you a pink slip."

"Maybe you should."

"Alicia."

"James, I'm serious. I'm not this kind of person. I just want to do my job, but-"

"But?"

"He makes it so difficult."

"Ah yes, the Styles effect."

"Get out of here."

James chuckled, "You think I'm making fun? I'm not. It's a true phenomenon. Ask any fan."

"Not a fan."

They stayed quiet for a beat, letting it all sink in. Alicia could hear James' stomach gurgle, knew he hadn't had breakfast yet. She was going to suggest they end this conversation and get something together, but James of course had to ruin it. 

He broke the silence with the question that had been lingering since the moment Alicia said that she and Harry had kissed,"Just a snog?"

"Stop."

"Well, was it just a snog, or a snog." He said, leaning forward on his elbows.

"What does that even mean?"

"Was it more than once."

She nodded hesitantly.

"Oh, spicy indeed."

"Please stop."

"I'm trying to help."

"You're trying to gossip."

"Would you rather I ask Harry?" He said, slowly batting his eyelashes at her.

"No!"

"Then?"

"It was more than once, and I don't know...I just, I do..."

"Fancy him." James said, trying not to smile too widely.

"Yes, I...fancy him...but it's so much more complicated than that."

"Because today is his last day here."

"Yes."

"What if it wasn't?"

She shrugged, "I don't know. I don't think it would change much. I might not have kissed him so fast to be honest."

"You would've taken it slower?"

"Yeah."

"You don't think that's a sign?"

"Of what."

"You're not this dense." 

As she stayed silent, James took it as a cue to continue, "You wanted to take it slow because you saw it going somewhere." 

She breathed in, but didn't reply.

"You don't want to admit it to yourself, because I know, you've built up this reputation of not being impressed by celebrities and of being a serious hard-worker. A real stick in the mud." She frowned, making him chuckle, "It's not an insult, I promise. But you're so young, you're both young. You're too young to be taking everything so seriously."

"That sounds so counter-productive. I mean, I just want to....you know....be taken seriously. So if I'm serious, then that's good?"

"Why do you think you wouldn't be taken seriously?"

She shrugged.

"Look, all I know is you're bloody brilliant. You're smart, witty, you're just lacking one thing-"

"Common sense?"

He ignored her, "You have to trust yourself."

"Oh come on."

"Yeah it's cliche, but it's true. I bet you've got a million brilliant ideas in that head of yours, yet I haven't heard any in all of the years you've worked here."

"I-"

"You think you get out shined by Milo and the lot of them, that's what it is." He said wagging a finger in her face.

"I just...what if I pitch something and it's terrible?"

"What if it's amazing? You won't know if you don't try. And I'd say the same advice applies to your current situation with Harold, doesn't it?"

"If I say yes will you let me pitch something at the next meeting?"

"If I say yes will you give Harry a chance?"

"This is blackmail."

"But it's not because I know you want to do it regardless, don't you."

Alicia extended her hand, "Alright, shake on it."

James firmly grasped her hand and chuckled, "Glad to have been of service." 

---

Harry had been busy the entirety of the day. He had spent the last six hours running from the writer's room, to the stage, and back again. He wanted his last show to be absolute perfection, to go out with a bang if you will. But he was so busy, that it hadn't crossed his mind until about four in the afternoon, that he hadn't seen Alicia in the entirety of the day.

While it was not rare due to their hectic schedules in the midst of the chaos that is planning this live show, he felt his chest tighten slightly at the fact that he had fallen into a routine. He had found some kind of normalcy, one that included Alicia, in this once again temporary space. He hated the fact that he allowed himself to get attached, to feel so incredibly comfortable. But at the same time, he knew that it was futile fighting it. He always laid down some kind of roots wherever he went, it's who he is. It was better than trying not to, after all. What kind of life would you lead trying to be so disconnected from everyone and everything? 

"How's it going H?"

He snapped up to see James smirking from the doorway and immediately knew that he had found out. James didn't even have to say a word, Harry simply asked, "Who told you?"

And James responded, "Your beloved."

Harry's face turned slightly red, "Alicia did?"

"Everything."

"So?"

James shrugged, "I'm just a bit hurt is all."

"Why?"

"You couldn't tell me yourself?"

Harry sighed, "It happened so fast, mate."

"Did it?"

Harry shrugged, "Yeah."

"So fast you couldn't tell your mate, even though he had called it from the beginning?"

"Really? You came in here to say I told you so?"

"No, I came to ask if you're almost done, I mean it's almost time for the show. But also I came in to say I TOLD YOU SO!" 

"Alright, go ahead mate, get it all out."

"Really!? You couldn't tell me because it all happened so fast!? Rubbish!" James said waving his arms in a frenzy as he paced around the room, "You didn't want to tell me because-"

"I knew you would get this way?"

"Exactly! Because you knew I was right! God damn it! I called it! I have to call the missus and let her know-"

"No!"

"Harry, we had a bet going. I finally fucking won, I have to-"

"James, come on."

"What? I was rooting for you all along!" 

"Julia was rooting against me then?"

"No, she just didn't think it would happen so fast."

"What did you bet on then?" Harry asked.

"She bet that you two would realize your feelings for each other after you had left and it was too late to do anything."

"Ever the tragic love story, isn't it?"

James nodded.

"And so," Harry said looking at his trusted friend up and down, "what did you bet?"

"Five days."

"Five days?"

"I told her to give it just five days, and you two would realize it."

"What?"

"The thing I've been saying all this time."

"That we're-"

"Meant for each other." James said, finishing Harry's sentence.

Harry shook his head, "I wouldn't say that."

James' eyebrow did the obnoxious cocking thing that Harry hated and he knew James was saying "Really?" Without even having to actually say it.

"Can we just not make a big deal out of it? This is why no one tells you anything." Harry said, getting up from his seat and gathering his things.

"Ouch."

Harry looked up before exiting the room and stated, "You lost."

"What?"

"You lost the bet."

"What? Why? It was five days."

Harry smiled, "It was two."

"Two!? Harry, wait! I want to know-"

But Harry was already half way down the hallway before James came out of the room screaming like a mad man behind him. 

Like he was going to tell Corden everything, yeah right.

---

And so, with every bit of strength she could muster, Alicia found herself knocking on the door to Milo's office attempting to give some kind of apology about what had happened the night before. 

Yes, Milo was completely and totally in the wrong, but Alicia was as well. She figured if she at least cleared the air they could just move on and continue being, at the very least, just co-workers.

She walked in to find Milo at his desk on the phone, talking in an obnoxiously loud manner. 

"All I'm saying is that this will totally clash with the background. You need to find him another suit." 

Alicia tried her hardest to restrain herself from making a smart comment about Milo's preoccupation with Harry's suit choice for the evening, she really did. But still she had to tell him as soon as he hung up the phone, "Milo, we can't change out Harry's suit."

"Why?" He glared.

"He has a contract with Gucci. He has to wear each and every one of those custom-made suits."

Milo snorted, "They're Gucci? Half of them look disgusting."

"Dude, they look magnificent, what are you talking about!?"

"Really!? He was wearing a pink silk suit yesterday, Alicia."

"So!? It's artsy, and it totally suits him."

"What, so since you two are doing the nasty, you're going to be defending every single one of his terrible fashion choices?"

Alicia sighed, "This has nothing to do with that."

"Really?" Why are you here then."

Alicia's hands immediately went behind her back as she struggled to maintain her composure, "I just, I wanted to uh-"

"Apologize?"

"Y-yes."

"For this?" He said pointing down to his wrapped up ankle. 

"I'm sorry."

He waved her off, "I wasn't going to actually post the picture anywhere...I was just going to blackmail you into doing my bidding."

"Oh, wow, I mean I totally thought you were going to do something terrible. I totally overreacted didn't I?"

He laughed, "Look, I'm sorry too, okay? I was just kind of excited that little miss perfect wasn't so perfect after all."

"So you had to document the moment? Do you know what would've happened if that picture had gotten out?"

He shrugged, "Like anyone could have told that was you."

"That's not the point."

"Yeah, yeah. I know it's not."

"Look, can we just...stop doing this?"

"What?"

'This whole beating each other down thing. You're like, super talented, and so am I. We should be working together, you know?" Alicia tried.

Milo stayed quiet for a second before nodding, "You're right.

"Can we call it even then?" She said extending her hand.

"Do I get to twist your ankle?"

Alicia laughed, "Let it go, Milo."

"Fine, fine. We're square. Now please, for the love of god, find someone to change that background so that Harry doesn't look like an eyesore."

"Deal."

"And one more thing?"

"Hmm." Alicia said, before she turned and left his office.

"Can you get me a refill?" He said, handing her his mug.

"Excuse me?"

"Twisted ankle." He reminded her, "Because of you."

"Fine, fine. How do you take it?"

"Black."

"Like your soul?" She mumbled.

"What's that?" 

"Nothing." She smiled sweetly, "See you in a few."

Alicia grinned as she walked towards the break room, it seemed like for the first time in a while, everything was going to be just fine.

---

There was an indescribable energy in the air, Harry could almost taste it. He figured it was because of the fact that it was his last show, but he knew it was more than that. It was unlike anything he had every felt, it was electric. There were currents coming in waves, and his body was incredibly receptive to every one. His fingertips felt as if they were hyper-sensitive, his eyes darted back and forth. He wanted to peg it on the adrenaline rush, the one he always got pre-show. But it was that on hyper-blast. He had truly never felt quite a sensation before. 

"You ready?"

He looked up to see Alicia smiling above him from one of the lifts above the stage. She looked radiant, absolutely resplendent. A tad concerned, yes. She had probably been watching him pace back and forth. But he paid it no mind, he was much less a mess than he was before that very first show earlier this week. 

He nodded at her, giving her a thumbs up in response.

Today was so unlike the tumultuous first day, the one where he had felt as if it were him alone against the world. He looked up at Alicia once more, at the smile that simply got wider as he gazed at her for a few seconds longer, and knew that was no longer the case. Even if he and Alicia would only have these five days, it was enough. 

"You've got this, Styles. Don't let me down."

He smirked and gave her a wink, knowing it was once of her very few weaknesses. How? Her knees ever so slightly shifted whenever he did such a thing. 

He could hear Alicia shifting upon the lift behind him, and he grinned to himself, "Got her again."

As much as she hated to admit it, he knew what she felt for him. He knew exactly how to get her.

He turned to say one more thing before the countdown to his opening monologue, but she was already coming down from her spot above him. He watched her, intrigued more than anything by the fact that she was able to manage wearing heels even when at dangerous altitudes.

Then again, he regretted thinking such thing as he saw her begin to struggle on the way down. He had jinxed her, he was sure. But then he told himself he was being ridiculous, as he always was. But he couldn't quite turn away from her. In fact, he began inching closer. 

It wasn't as if he knew it was going to happen before it did, but as he heard the producer begin to count down from sixty, he saw Alicia's foot slip from the step and her body flail backwards. 

He made it to her before she had even realized she was falling. She hadn't managed to make a sound, not a peep. Harry could feel her heart beating rapidly though as he held her to him. They had both ended up on the floor, limbs entangled. Harry's mic and earpiece had gotten lost in the shuffle, as had one of Alicia's shoes. 

"Didn't let you down, did I?" Harry said in a pained voice, attempting to catch his breath. Small girl as she may have been, she had completely knocked the air out of him as she fell from so high upon him. 

"Oh, god." She almost cried, "Are you okay?"

Harry nodded, "You know, the car hurt a lot less, but I'll live. What about you?"

"I-I Oh god." She said, getting up off him and sitting upon the floor.

"What?"

"My wrist."

"Did you hurt it?" He said, sitting up as well and inching towards her.

She nodded and cursed, rubbing it, "It fucking hurts."

He gently took her left arm and gingerly touched her wrist. She winced, but didn't cry out, "It might just be a minor sprain."

"Thanks, Dr. Harry." She said, her lips turning upwards regardless of the pain.

"Anytime." 

"Treatment?" She asked coyly.

"Aw, yes." He took her hand in his and kissed her gently from the tips of her fingers to her forearm, "A couple of these a day." 

She giggled, and he could see her once concerned and pained face beginning to dissipate, "And maybe, if you're in a lot of pain, one of these." He said as he pulled her into him and placed his lips upon hers. He wanted to live in this moment, freeze it in time. The kiss was so unlike the others, he could feel warmth and light, it was almost as if the entire world stood still. And then he realized-

"Bloody hell." He said as he pulled away, realizing that the show, in fact, had already begun.

Alicia sat doe eyed in front of the studio audience, completely and utterly frozen. For once, Harry could tell immediately, she didn't know what to do.

Thankfully James stepped onto the stage, laughingly approaching both Harry and Alicia, "Well, seems our guest host can truly do it all."

Harry made an 'oops' face and smiled, "Just here to do my job is all."

"Where can I apply for a job here!?" He heard a woman scream from the audience, and everyone laughed. 

Harry quickly whispered into James' ear, "How much did the audience see?"

"You mean did they see Dr. Harry treating his patient?"

Harry waved to the audience nervously as Alicia was helped up by James, "Hello everybody, we've got a great show tonight. I promise, this wasn't it." He chuckled. 

"Our head assistant, Alicia Mendez, everyone!" James said, as Alicia tried to laugh off the situation with poise. She was struggling though, Harry could see the vein popping out of her forehead, the one reserved for moment that especially infuriated her.

"I must say, now that Ali is out here, this woman is the reason I'm able to stand in front of the lot of you every day and make you laugh. This one right here makes sure that we're all on track, on time, and of course, that we're funny." James continued.

The audience laughed once more, appreciatively looking upon Alicia.

"No, but truly and sincerely, thank you Ms. Mendez. And please don't sue, I promise you next time I won't make you go up onto those death traps." James took a beat before saying, "Stay tuned everyone, we'll be right back."

The three of them stayed on stage, Harry demurely wrapping an arm around Alicia waist as the camera panned out. The audience clearly took notice.

As soon as they were given their cue, Alicia slapped his hand away and stormed off the stage. Harry wanted to chase after her, but James held him back, "Let her cool off, mate. Trust me." 

Harry sighed, hoping that by the end of the show she hadn't run off and changed her identity just to avoid being 'the assistant who fell in love with Harry Styles'.

---

Everything had gone off without a hitch, or so she had heard from Milo. They had begun and ended on time, there were no hiccups—other than the whole her falling off the lift and kissing Harry in front of the entire world thing—and Harry' suit managed to match the background perfectly. It was a great show all around.

Yet Alicia couldn't muster the strength to face anyone or anything right now. She knew what the world must think of her, how she would be trending right at this moment. She had become what she had most feared, and there was nothing she could do about it. 

"You were right." 

Alicia turned to look behind her, cringing at the sound of his voice. He was the last person she wanted to see right now, which was why she had come up to the one spot she thought no one knew about. But of course, James had to have told Harry to come up to the roof and see if she was there, where else could she have gone after all?

"What do you want, Harry?"

"You were right." He repeated, coming up to where she was leaning on the railing. 

"About?"

"Me killing it tonight."

"Ah."

"It was the best I've done all week."

"Great."

"Okay." Harry huffed, "I'm sorry."

"You're sorry?"

"I'm truly, truly, sorry, Ali."

"Do you just want me to assure you it's okay? Is that why you came up here?"

Harry turned to look at her, but she kept looking straight ahead.

"No," he responded, "I wanted to tell you I'm sorry, but I don't regret it."

"Oh, wow. That's cocky."

"You know why?" She mumbled something under her breath, but Harry ignored her and continued, "Because it felt right, Ali. You and me, it is what it is."

She shook her head, "That's all fine and great for you, you've got another conquest under your belt. What does that make me?"

Alicia knew that he understood, she knew that he knew. The fact that he was silent said it all. 

"What are we?" She said, almost in a whisper.

Harry placed his hand over hers and interlaced their fingers together, almost as if he hoped that would be enough of an answer for now. 

It wasn't. 

"I turned off my phone. God only knows the messages I'm getting right now." She said, trying to break the silence. 

"They said they were going to edit out the kiss." He said, trying to make her feel at least a bit more at ease.

She laughed, "As if every person in that audience doesn't have a phone, Harry."

"Ali?"

"Yeah?"

He looked out ahead and saw the stars shining brightly, almost too much so for such a vibrant city, "Don't let me bring you down."

She looked at him smugly, "You think too highly of yourself, Styles."

"Then why are you making such a big deal out of this?"

"I know what it takes to build an image, and what it takes to break it. I don't want to have-"

"Ruined yours?"

She stayed silent.

"You didn't. If anything, you've made your debut."

"What a debut."

"An unforgettable one. I mean, James Corden and Harry Styles lauding you on stage? Truly incredible."

Alicia laughed, "This doesn't mean I forgive you."

"You don't have to." He shrugged. 

"This will blow over, right?"

He nodded, "Eventually, yeah."

"Well, at least I'm not leaving my job here any time soon."

"This is true, after this week James' is going to have you under lock and key. You're probably going to be getting a lot of offers from some high places." He said wistfully. 

"No way."

"Ali, look at who you're talking to. Do you know the doors I'm going to have opened for you."

She stepped on his foot roughly and he yelped, "I WAS JUST JOKING!" He said, rubbing his foot, and attempting to balance himself on one leg. 

Alicia completely ignored him and continued talking as he tried to compose himself, "Well, at least you're kind of right. I can just go back to my job and go under the radar until..."

"Until?"

She smirked, "You make another headline."

"Meaning?"

"Your next fling?"

His hand found hers again and within an instant his fingers began tapping nervously on the top of her hand "Alicia?"

"Yeah?"

"Just say the word and there won't be a next one."

"What word?"

"Don't play coy."

"It's not that easy."

"But it is."

She took pause, but it was for a mere second, "Okay."

"Yeah?" 

"Let's say I say okay. What does this mean for us?"

His face fell a tad, but he clearly took what he could get, "It means that when we meet again, it won't take five days to get here." He said, kissing her hand.

Alicia immediately thought it was the most play-boyish answer she had ever heard. And then she realized, this was the biggest promise he could make right now. But she didn't know if that was enough. 

"Harry?"

"Hmm."

"I know we can't do this thing right now, the whole, let's make it official thing. But...I don't know if I can settle for any less."

Harry smiled, "Fair enough."

"I just...do you talk to any of your exes?"

"Wow, out of the blue."

"Do you?"

He blushed, "No."

"I don't want that to happen. I don't want to just be another girl you met, in a city you barely remember." She could see him about to protest, but she held up her finger to stop him, "I'm not saying that's who you are, Harry. But we're what? In our twenties? Let's be realistic. We barely know each other, and I like you. I do. But when I get into something like this, I want to make sure that what we have is solid. I don't want to be pining after you, I don't want to be a wreck because you don't text back. I don't do those things.  I want an end game Harry, and I don't think five days is enough to make me think we have that."

He nodded, "I get it." 

"Do you?"

"Yeah. I mean, I'm not going to be making any headlines, I'll tell you that right now." She smiled, feeling as if her heart was about to burst, "I want the same thing, Ali. I get it." Harry said, his voice almost a whisper. 

"Okay." She nodded. 

"Okay." He smiled. 

And that was that.  

---

Harry wanted to do one last thing before he left. So he set up exactly what Alicia wanted, hoping she'd understand. Their goodbye left so much unsaid, but in the words they didn't say, he believed they said it all. 

Until they met again, he thought, as he closed the door to her office. 

As he walked down the hallway to the parking lot one last time, he realized that the memories that this place once held were no longer sad. In fact, he figured that if he didn't embrace them, they'd always take a hold of him. And he didn't want that. 

He smiled as he took one last look at the studio, remembering his days with the band, trying to ingrain Alicia's searing glare into his mind for later. 

This wasn't it, that was for sure. 

"End game." He whispered to himself, nodding along as he closed the door behind him. "I'll show her."

"Harry! Come on!" 

He jumped at the sudden boom of her voice across the parking lot, didn't think she would've waited for him. 

But she had. 

"Coming!"

He figured they'd be alright, and if they weren't, well, they weren't. But who's to say? It had only been five days after all. 

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