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being blue is better than being over it ([personal profile] gorgeousnerd) wrote in [community profile] firmament2015-03-31 11:06 pm

My Light is Electric - One Direction, NC-17, Louis/Zayn (and others).

Title: My Light is Electric
Fandom: One Direction
Rating: NC-17.
Length: About 23,000 words.
Characters/Pairings: Louis/Zayn (endgame), Louis/Liam, Louis/Harry, Louis/Niall.

Summary: Alphas aren't just meant to be ravished, and that's as important a lesson as just how fun ravishing can be.

Louis hates being an omega sometimes, but he can cope. His alpha bandmates are happy to help him break his heats, and he's happy to help them through their first heat or knotting experience. Everyone wins.

Falling for his one other omega bandmate, on the other hand, isn't something Louis's prepared for.

Notes: Written for 1D Big Bang. Make sure to check out the great mix by Bohemu here!

Special thanks to the wonderful onthehill for looking this over, and to the mods for putting the whole thing on.

Other notes:

-I tagged this with all the sexual/romantic partners Louis has in the fic, but it's Zouis endgame. There's also untagged secondary Liam/Sophia and Harry/Nick.

-The story takes place from X Factor through late 2014. The Harry/Louis sex scene takes place in X Factor era (which means Harry's sixteen and Louis's eighteen). There's no other reason for the "choose not to warn" tag on AO3 (because 16 is age of consent in the UK but not in some other places, so better safe than sorry).

-While it's somewhat canon compliant, I took liberties with canon for narrative purposes. Anything wrong/weird is my doing (or due to the ever-shifting nature of public image, ahem).

-Also on AO3.


My Light is Electric



Liam

2012

Louis knows that Liam's taking his breakup with Danielle hard. It's as plain as every single one of Liam's facial features, many of which Louis has seen bright red thanks to all the crying Liam’s done. Louis wouldn't say he doesn't worry, exactly, but hard breakups happen in the same way Louis happens to people: fervently and without apology. The antidote to both is simply enduring, and Louis fretting about Liam won’t make that happen more easily.

But then Liam appears one day at Louis's, and...

"Your hair," Louis cries when he first sees, hands over his mouth.

Liam looks sheepish and...well, kind of pleased when Louis finally gets over freezing in place and leaps forward to brush his fingers over the buzzed locks.

"Do you like it?" Liam asks.

"Do I...I know you're having a rough go of it, Payne, but did your innocent curls have to suffer?" Louis had been so fond of them, to the point where anyone who even so much as hinted it made Liam less of an alpha received Louis's patented Icy Stare of Death. Liam's hair was rough against Louis's fingers where it had slid and bounced before.

And yet.

This kind of buzz was very much an alpha style, very often that tough sort of look that one cultivated when you wanted to tell omegas you'd throw them across the room in a sexy, consensual way. But Liam looks hesitant under it, and with his general Liamness, it's softer than it should be. He's not the cuddly, curly Liam he was; he's the cuddly, rough Liam, and there's something about the two existing in one place that makes Louis's head spin. And maybe turns him on a little. He's never been turned on by Liam before - to the point where Louis's really thought about it, anyway - but Louis supposes it was only a matter of time.

"Fine," Louis says with a heavy sigh as he steps aside from his front door. "Suppose it will do. Now where are we on the kidney issue? Are we drinking or no? Because a haircut like this deserves alcohol."

There's a beat, and then Liam beams his extremely pleased smile, and the switch nearly knocks Louis on his arse. Liam's like that sometimes. It's very annoying.

-

The next part starts out innocently. Mostly. Liam's not the tightly-wound prick he was on the show, and Louis has never been happier younger Liam is in both their pasts, especially since Liam has needed the extra distracting. (Louis's very good at distracting, so Liam's going around with a spring in his step again.)

So Liam's seen the alphas Louis's brought in when they're back on tour - Liam's watched more keenly in recent weeks, which hasn't escaped Louis's notice - and Liam knows what it means when Louis strips down to his boxer briefs in the dressing room after a show and yells for Paul to bring ice for his prickly skin. The month after the ice incident – a lot of it ended up down Liam’s trousers, naturally - Liam asks what heat's like.

So Louis tells him. In detail. Liam somehow goes pale and blushes at the same time.

"Have you not brought anyone through heat yet?" Louis asks when his explanation has degenerated into a lot of pleased sighs. Liam's been looking shifty-eyed in the dressing room for a while now, so Louis's sat on his lap to keep him from escaping. "Big strapping alpha like you."

"Haven't always been strapping, have I?" Liam laughs nervously.

Louis tweaks Liam's nipple. It usually gets him to talk.

And sure enough, "I've only dated betas, haven't I? One beta in particular." He stops to take a bit of a rough breath, and Louis holds his own breath for a moment until Liam starts speaking again. "I haven't...it's not as easy for me."

"Hold on, are you calling me a slut?"

"No!" Liam's face screws up with frustration. "I should never have brought it up."

Louis smirks. He can't help it. It's taken a lot of work to get Liam even near a place where he can ask for the things he wants. "But you did, and it's what, oh, two days before I go into heat? Convenient, isn't it."

Liam doesn't say anything, and before he can go all sullen, Louis says, "Look. If you want to come round on our off day, I'll show you. And I'll shove you into the bathroom if you change your mind halfway through so you can shower my stink off and go on with your day. Yeah?"

Liam flushes, but he nods, probably because what Louis suspected is true: Liam's terrified of going into heat, and there's really no preparing for it if you haven't done it before, but he really wants to give it a go.

Luckily for Liam, bringing people in without preparing them is Louis's speciality.

-

When the knock comes, only twenty minutes after Louis sends Liam the "code omega :)" text, Louis yells, "Identify yourself, intruder!"

"Who do you think?" Liam's voice sounds anxious even muffled through the door.

Louis tosses his phone next to the lamp and climbs out of bed. Probably best he won't be spending his heat tweeting about crap telly again. When he gets to the door, he hovers over the handle for a moment before drawing back his hand.

"You still want to do this?" Louis asks, all seriousness. "It'll be harder to say no once you come inside."

He's close enough that he can hear Liam draw a shuddering breath, and for a moment, he wonders if the seal on the door's working properly. Not supposed to let anything leak out to alphas staying in the hotel, after all. What a bloody disaster that would be.

But Liam takes another breath of the same kind, and Louis grins to himself. Liam still wants it.
And so does Louis.

"I do want you," Louis says aloud, bracing both hands on the door like Liam can see how predatory he's feeling. Obviously he can't, but he thinks it's coming through in his voice, which is really the point. That's the trick with Liam: getting too genuine makes him squirrelly sometimes. "You take such good care of me. Let me do this for you."

"Let me in," Liam says, and his voice is deeper than usual.

Well done, Lewis.

Louis opens the door and tugs him inside with the smoothness that comes from plenty of practise. Can't keep heat space doors open too long. It doesn't take much; Louis has barely pressed Liam against the wall and hasn't even scented him yet before Liam's pupils go big. Louis scents him anyway, just because his skin's always sensitive enough during heat to appreciate the drag of stubble against his cheek. He hums appreciatively.

He tries to pull back to check on Liam, but Liam grabs desperately at Louis's trackies and grinds against him. Half hard already, and Louis's barely been in contact. Lovely thing, scent.

"This'll be better on the bed, love," Louis breathes into his ear. He wants to move Liam before he gets so desperate he forgets how to walk properly. He's had that problem with Harry, and it's hilarious, but Liam probably wouldn't enjoy it as much.

He takes Liam by the hand and pulls him back. Liam stumbles once or twice, but mostly because he can't keep his eyes off Louis. Louis gets him down on his back and starts stripping him, kissing bare skin when he reveals it. He spends extra time on Liam's chevron tattoo, mostly because he's wanted to ever since Liam got the damn thing.

"Wow," Liam says from above him. Louis looks up. Liam's not watching him; he's staring at the ceiling, breathing deep. "I just...wow."

Louis grins and nips at Liam's chest. "Haven't even gotten to the good part yet."

He knows things will need to move along once he gets to Liam's cock, so he takes his time learning Liam: nibbling on his ear, sucking on his fingers (Liam actually whimpers and looks at him for that, good to remember), rubbing his feet. It's actually not that different from what Louis does normally, only with fewer clothes than they wear onstage. So it's like being backstage, only Louis isn't as brazen about licking his lips whenever he catches sight of Liam through his boxer briefs.

Well, he isn't always as brazen, anyway.

When he finally lets himself tug down Liam's pants, Liam does what every other alpha Louis's been with has done: thrust up, moan, grab for Louis. And like every other alpha, Liam's too out of it to stop Louis from straddling him and pinning his hands against the mattress. But unlike the others, Liam's eyes sparkle with unshed tears, and he says, "Please."

Louis freezes. "Please what? Stop?"

Liam shakes his head hard, and Louis sighs with relief. "Please. Need it."

The kind thing to do would be to grab the lube and get on with it. And Louis will, in just a moment. He lets go of one of Liam's hands - which Liam promptly uses to grab at Louis - so he can brush hair off Liam's forehead, and he leans forward to lay a gentle kiss against Liam's lips.

Of course, Liam's hand travels up, trying to hold Louis in place while he goes for a messier kiss, but Louis bats him away and stays gentle for a moment. It's a tease, yes, but it's also Liam. Liam deserves care. Alphas aren't just meant to be ravished, and that's as important a lesson as just how fun ravishing can be.

And somehow, Liam does pull back. Louis would think he was relaxing if he didn't know how much effort it takes an alpha to get control over their limbs.

"Good," Louis murmurs against Liam's lips, kissing him one more time before pulling back. "Let's get on with it then."

The nice thing about heat is that all Louis has to do is line up once he's lubed Liam up a bit and sink down. None of that bothersome prepping that he does when he isn't in heat. He's slick and he's yielding, and Liam’s cock goes right in. Liam makes a beautiful noise when he does, too, something broken and full that he would never dare make usually.

And, okay, Louis makes noise too. It's not like heat leaves him unaffected; he's always hornier and slightly feverish, but it's the kind of thing that an hour with streaming porn and a bottle of lube can take the edge off if he's alone. He can usually get it up again quickly for a beta, too.

But alphas. Well. There's a reason Louis doesn't spend heats alone when he can manage it these days.

Liam's solid inside Louis, big and only getting bigger as Louis rocks to accommodate his cock. Liam grabs at Louis's hip and Louis smacks at his hand. Knotted dicks aren't made for pounding. But Liam tries again, and so Louis has to pinch Liam's upper arm in a way that makes Liam flinch and pull back.

"Stop," Louis says, "or this ends right now."

It takes a moment, but Liam nods, and it's only after Louis's pinned down Liam's free hand again that he gets back to riding Liam's cock.

"Oh god," Liam gasps as his knot swells, and with alpha strength, he breaks free of Louis's grasp. He isn't trying to do anything, it seems; he just claws at Louis's back, and Louis grits his teeth with a grin and lets the pain add to whatever else he's feeling. He wouldn't fuck alphas if he didn't like sex rough.

Liam looks completely overwhelmed, and Louis remembers, even though he never really forgot: this is Liam's first time popping a knot. Louis's seen knots plenty of times, but he'll never know what it's like. Not from that end.

"Yeah," he says, closing his eyes as Liam pulses inside him, getting closer the more he swells. "Fill me up. Come on."

Liam claws at Louis more and does as he asks, coming in a thick, long stream inside Louis. It takes some time, and Liam lets go of Louis after a moment. Louis pulls at his own dick, red against his stomach, and he comes by the time Liam's finishing, slumped against the bed and staring up at the ceiling like he can't see anything.

Of course, being tied like this means Louis can't lie down for a while himself. Shame. But he brushes more hair off Liam's forehead and says, "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Liam laughs, high and disbelieving, in return.



Early 2014

Louis's scratching his belly, reading over a notepad with some lyrics scribbled out, when he starts shifting in place. He's vaguely aware that the beanbag chair he's sitting on is rocking with his movements, but he's mostly intent on what he's written and the notes Liam's made and the suggestions Julian's making whenever Louis asks questions.

When Julian leaves the room to go ask the others in the studio what everyone wants for dinner, the prickling of Louis's skin reaches a peak, and he throws off his hoodie, chucking it against the wall. It doesn't help much, though. His skin's too hot for it.

"Uh, Lou?"

"What?" Louis scowls at Liam as he tosses aside his notepad. He puts considerably less force into that throw - he can moderate his decisions sometimes - and so it's not satisfying at all.

"You, uh. When's your next heat due?"

Louis freezes, which is handy because he was two seconds from snapping his pen in half. "Fuck," he snarls.

He gets a few more swear words in under his breath before Liam cuts him off. "So soon? That’s strange."

"It wasn't supposed to come on for another week, Liam." Louis hates how he sounds when he whines. Doesn't stop him from doing it, of course. "You think I would be here if I’d known?"

Liam shrinks, hands up. "Just asking."

Normally, this is where Louis goes in for the kill, but some of the fire leaves Louis's body, and he pinches the bridge of his nose. "Fucking...I'll miss an entire day's work. This is my free time."

He takes a moment to hate it all. Hate the demands of his body, hate that the suppressants he pays for maybe suppress one potential heat in the course of a year instead of all twelve (or more - when they're busy, Louis tends to go off for no reason a couple times, which is complete shit - shouldn't stress take them away?), hate that he can't just...will the whole damn thing away.

A hand rests on the bare skin of Louis's neck, and even with everything, it feels nice.

"Look," Liam says. "We could go back to the hotel for a bit. See if we can break your fever and take a nap so we can get back to the studio by midnight or so? The whole group never quits until at least four. Usually later."

Louis scowls again and brushes Liam's hand off. "Helpful suggestion. Thank you, Liam. You know there's only two ways to break the fever. Time, and..."

Liam nods seriously.

"Because it's not like you're exclusive with Sophia or anything."

"We've, uh." Liam clears his throat. "We've talked, and...I can ring her if that would make you feel better."

"It's the middle of the fucking night in London, Liam."

"She was awake an hour ago, at least."

Louis throws his hands up in the air. "You don't have to fix everything!"

"I know," Liam says quietly. "There's a lot I can't fix. But I can help with this. I want to, Lou."

The prickling in Louis's skin feels even worse. He buries his face in his hands. If he doesn't go back to the hotel now, he'll start stinking, and there's at least one alpha that isn't Liam in their songwriting team, and Louis likes them too much to make them uncomfortable like that.

"Drive me back," Louis says through gritted teeth. "And maybe we can talk to Sophia on the way."

Liam beams like he just won another VMA and scrambles to his feet. "I'll tell the others. You go to the car."

-

They're not even in the car five minutes before Liam gets Sophia on the phone.

"Hiya, love," she tells Liam warmly when she picks up, and Louis feels another stab of hate. Not for her - Sophia's lovely, definitely more lovely than Louis will ever be - but that she's with someone like Liam who can be around for her heats. Must be nice.

"Soph," Liam says, and his voice is just as warm. Louis leans his cheek against the somewhat cool window and tries not to despise everything. "I have Louis here."

"Oh! Hello, Lou."

"Sophia." It's a testament to how much Louis likes Sophia that he doesn't sound hostile at all.

"Can we talk to you about something?" Liam asks.

"'Course. Everything all right?"

"Fine." Liam shoots a pointed look at Louis, nodding toward the phone.

"My heat's started early, and Liam's offered to fuck me through it," Louis says, taking pleasure in the small flinch on Liam's face. "He said you said that was all right."

"Oh. Yes, I did."

"Yeah?"

"I know he's helped you out before," Sophia says, speaking like she's trying to phrase her words carefully. "I have a friend who takes care of me when I'm not with Liam."

Louis's eyebrows feel like they're about to crawl off his face, they're up so high. "Really?"

"Didn't tell him that part, Liam?"

"That's not mine to tell," Liam says. Louis points at himself, frowning, and Liam says quickly, "You told me I could tell Sophia about us when I started dating her. Remember?"

Right. One of the few times Louis had thought things through. He balls his hands up in his hoodie - which he still isn't wearing; he's just holding it in his hands to vent a little steam - and huffs quietly.

"It is all right, Louis," Sophia says. "And not just when there's heat, although Liam told me that's the only time you two have ever..."

"Yes," Louis jumps in. "It is."

Sophia laughs a little. "And that's fine, too. I just want you to know how I feel about it. Call me if you need anything, either of you."

They both give some kind of acknowledgement, and then Liam and Sophia blow each other noisy kisses through the phone, and Liam hangs up. Liam's face is crinkly with his happiness.

Louis doesn't feel particularly annoyed or angry anymore. He doesn't know what he's feeling.

-

They have just enough time to get into Louis's heat-sealed room before Louis starts to stink. Liam's eyes darken immediately, but when Louis's kicking off his shoes with some force, Liam asks, with slower, more deliberate speech, "You do want to do this?"

Louis's shucking off his jeans and throwing them in the corner, where his suitcase is sitting. "Haven't we gone over this? I do if you do."

"I don't know that I do."

"Then what the fuck was that?" Louis groans, throwing his hands up in the air. "Why would you bother Sophia?"

Liam shakes his head and takes a couple steps back. He seems to partially regain his composure when he says, "It shouldn't just be because you want a few extra hours, Lou. It shouldn't."

"You know how lucky I am that we have any flexibility at all?" It had been Louis's deepest fear, when he'd presented, that he wouldn't be able to work how and when he wanted because of his fucking heat. One of his omega friends at school hadn't been able to use suppressants because of allergies, and she'd dated a complete knob of an alpha just so she could get through A levels.

"I do! I just..." Liam backs up until his back's against the door to the toilet. "But do you want to? Really?"

On another day, Louis would snarl and probably pick a fight about Liam not trusting what Louis says. Today, Louis wants to cry, for reasons obvious and otherwise, but he won't. It's not happening.

He lets his shoulders sag.

Liam might be slow on the uptake sometimes, but he fumbles with the doorknob and says, "Long bath. In here if you need me."

He's gone in an instant, and Louis slumps to the floor, brushing at his eyes with the back of his hand.

-

Louis watches telly for an hour in his boxer briefs...well, if flipping through the hotel's ten channels for an hour so the background noise varies counts as watching. He doesn't want to cry anymore, but it doesn't settle him or the prickling heat feeling in his skin, either. He tries pulling out his knotting vibrator from his suitcase and turns it on, but he ends up just holding it, feeling the buzz through the handle as the fake knot swells and deflates and swells again. The thought of putting it inside himself doesn't seem remotely appealing right now.

He picks up his phone.

"Bad idea," Louis mutters as he scrolls through his contacts, hovering a thumb over Zayn's picture. "Bad idea, bad idea..."

He opens a text. He doesn't know if Zayn's awake right now, but even if he is, the words aren't coming. He'd laugh at any other time - he’s on this trip so he can set his feelings to music – but the deepest feeling he has won't even result in a i miss you text message.

With a huff that might be a laugh, Louis locks his phone and shoves it in his bedside table.

After more time - Louis doesn't track how much exactly, but it can't be long - spent staring at the ceiling, using the phone list on the bedside table as a fan, little's changed. Hugging his pillow has helped a little, but he ends up rolling around every few moments, looking for a more comfortable place that doesn't exist.

It's only when he hears quiet singing that Louis stills. It takes him a few heartbeats to figure out that it's coming from Liam, partially because Liam's not singing a full song; he's starting and stopping. He's not actually singing a song just to sing. He's working.

Louis laughs quietly to himself and rolls off the bed, taking his cuddle pillow with him. His notepad of lyrics is on the desk by the bathroom door, and Louis sits and grabs a pen.

"What do you reckon are some good words there?" he calls, scribbling what Liam had just been singing. "'Proof' doesn't rhyme with much."

All Louis hears for a moment is the quiet splashing of Liam's bath. After a moment, Liam calls back, "You want to work right now?"

"Keep up, Liam. Maybe we should get the others on speaker."

Liam laughs, delighted, and the sloshes get louder. "You ring them. The acoustics in here are shit."

They end up using Louis's phone for a couple hours, Louis taking notes on his pad of paper and on his computer. Liam hands Louis damp flannels through a crack in the door every so often, and Louis puts them on the back of his neck as he works.

Work continues until sunrise, at which point Liam refuses blankets - "think your scent would be more distracting than helpful," he says apologetically - and Louis, instead of butting heads with him, goes to bed. He's only asleep for four hours, according to his clock, but when he's wakes up with his bladder protesting, his fever's broken.

Louis uses the scent vent in the room to clear things out, and when he can smell himself noticeably less, he opens the door to the loo. The room's dark, but he can make out Liam curled up on the rug in the middle of the floor, using one towel as a blanket and one towel as a pillow.

"Knob," Louis says fondly, and he goes to wake Liam up.



Harry

2010

The heat room at the X Factor house is what an American staffer called "a damn closet". Louis suspects American closets are larger. He would go through worse to compete on X Factor than sit in a tiny box, of course, but it doesn't mean he doesn't stare at the room like he can expand it with his mind before he goes in.

Zayn stands with him when Louis feels it coming on, even though Louis tries to get him to leave.

"I'm fine," Louis says, even though he's not.

Zayn nods. "I know."

"It's just been a while. Since I was in heat." It's what the omegas in the business never talk about in the media, although everyone on the show was more than happy to warn Louis when he made it to the house. Suppressants work if you're going to school and sleeping in your own space. More people you aren't related to in your home - or your bus, or your hotel - on the other hand...

"Mine were down to two a year," Zayn says with a sigh. "Might be able to keep it to six if I keep smoking."

The closet looks even smaller when Zayn says that. But Louis squeezes his hand, lays a kiss on his cheek, and says, "Should be on time for the show tomorrow."

"Better be." Zayn smiles.

-

There's a light in the heat room’s ceiling, and there’s four very close walls. Louis is sat in the bottom and can't stretch his legs out to their full length if he wants to fit properly.

It's a good thing he's not Niall. Or a good thing Niall isn't him.

The lads take turns sitting outside the door. Zayn goes first even after Louis tells him to leave in case the seal doesn't work. The last thing they need right now is sympathy heat. He has to raise his voice to be heard through the walls, and the moisture from his breath makes the air thicker even with the fan in the wall pointed on him, but fuck if he's going to stop. After Zayn deflects Louis's attempts to get rid of him, they talk about the comics they've read recently, and they talk about the comic films they've seen, and Zayn seems happy to let Louis steam on about how omegas aren't supposed to be comic fans and what utter shit that is. Zayn's all right.

Niall goes second, and Louis does take a break speaking then. Niall more than fills the silence. He talks about Derby, about the cleaning he would do if they had a few minutes to themselves (Louis can't resist shouting back that their room's not that bad to make Niall laugh), and about what he thinks about their chances in the next few weeks.

There's a break while the ones not in heat go film some spot. Louis has no idea how long it is. There's no sun in the heat room, and he has his phone, but it doesn't have much battery.

Liam's voice ends the break, and it takes only five minutes before they're arguing about whatever they usually argue about. Liam doesn't think he takes heat seriously when Louis jokes about pulling him in and makes the door creak like he's opening it, Louis thinks Liam needs to get that bloody tree out of his arse, and Liam clears out after five minutes.
Louis feels more alone after that.

He almost misses the quiet "Lou?"

"Harold Styles," Louis says after a pause. He winces. Is that croaky, sad-sounding bloke him? Never. He sits up and says as brightly as he can manage, "What brings a nice alpha like you to my seedy den?"

"Just thought I'd pop by." Louis can see Harry's smile in his head. "I thought you might be asleep, so I didn't want to wake you."

"Is it time for sleeping? Hard to tell in here."

Harry hums sympathetically. "It's bad?"

"It's a closet. What do you think?"

The door rattles like Harry's sitting against it. "Doesn't seem fair."

Louis agrees. Lock all the alphas up; they're really the problem. Betas and omegas should get the run of the house. But one person's a lot easier to keep contained than a group of rampaging, horny alphas, and so here he is, back aching and sweaty for reasons that have little to do with sex.

He sighs. "When my mum told me stories of all the omegas she worked with, I thought it sounded a lot better than this. I was actually thrilled to present, can you believe it?"

"I was over the moon myself."

"How old were you?"

"Thirteen."

Louis whistles. That's young. Louis was young at fifteen - average age is sixteen or seventeen, but older isn't uncommon, which is why Liam and Niall still haven't presented - but he was still old enough to know things wouldn't be quite as rosy as he'd hoped. "Do young ages run in your family?"

"No. I had a crush on a sixteen-year-old omega who went into heat in front of me."

"You never."

Harry laughs. "He was twice my height, and I just kept wondering why he smelt of bananas. He left the room long before I sorted it out, and he started dating Gemma a month later."

"A tale of true romance."

"I like to think so."

Harry groans a little outside the room - probably his back again, from what Louis knows of him - and Louis bites his lip. He likes all the lads, but Harry...there's some physical chemistry there that Louis's never really experienced before. And this day's his first being around non-relative alphas at all during heat. It's a lot to take in.

"Louis?"

He shakes his head. "Sorry, I missed what you said."

"I was just...you don't have to answer, sorry. I just asked what it was like when you presented."

"Isn't much to tell. I was in my room, trying to drown out my sisters in the rest of the house with music, and I could...smell myself."

"Sexy."

"Very. Called Mum, she left work, and that was that." They'd cried and hugged and had celebratory omega milkshakes, but that's not something Louis shares much.

God, he misses his mum.

"Gemma gave me a long talk about the biological processes of knotting and used all the big words she knew." Harry sounds fond. "And then we went to the shops for biscuits."

"Is that a tradition or something? Dessert? Mum and I did that as well."

"Think it's just supposed to be comforting," Harry says. "Wonder if we'll be with the others when they present."

"Well, we missed Zayn."

"Leaves two more. And we can have a dessert party for us, too. Since we weren't around each other."

Something warm settles in Louis's chest, and it has nothing to do with the hormones blazing through his system. He makes a decision. "Have you ever seen anyone through heat?"

"Me? Oh yeah, loads and loads." When Louis doesn't
laugh at Harry's sarcastic tone, Harry quickly adds, "Sorry, not really. It was only twice. Same girl, couple months in a row. Her suppressants failed."

"What was it like?"

"I...good. Very good. You've never?"

Louis scuffs his shoe on the wall. "I'm not a virgin, if that's what you mean. I have a girlfriend." He winces. His breakup with Hannah hadn't gone well. "Sorry. Had. Whatever. Will you shag me?"

It's quiet for so long that Louis's half-convinced Harry left. He even starts to feel a twinge of guilt. Harry is younger than him, after all.

But Harry finally speaks. "I don't want to take advantage."

"It's not taking advantage if I'm older and I'm the omega," Louis says. "One might say I'm taking advantage of you, the pure, innocent alpha."

Harry cackles.

"So say no if you don't want to do it. I wouldn't blame you. It's not like fucking in this bloody box would be particularly easy."

"I've done it in a loo cubicle before. Looks about the same size."

"With your omega in heat?" And just for the briefest of moments, fear slices through Louis, making him shiver. He's heard the talk of alphas in heat and how mindless and out of control they are.

Maybe there's something in his voice, some quiver that he misses, because Harry says gently, "No, but that's because her parents were away both times. Beds are better, you know."

"Can you even?" And yes, there is something to Louis's voice now. Something a bit strung out. "I mean, would it be safe for you to be in this small of a space?"

"Why on earth would you worry about me?"

Louis shrugs, forgetting for a moment that Harry can't see it. "You're the one the omegas vote for. Can't harm that perfect face."

"Oh, Lou." Harry sighs. "I get a little clumsier in heat. Worst I might do is fall and hit my head."

"That's not exactly minor."

"I don't know." Harry's voice brightens. "Actually, with less room, all I would have to do is stay still. Are you on your suppressants?"

Of course he is. Not only does it stave off unnecessary heat, but it prevents pregnancy, and even when heat suppression doesn't work, the birth control's super effective. The only thing worse than heats every couple weeks would be getting up the duff when he's trying to win a competition.

But Louis bites back the sour words on his tongue - possibly one of the few times in his life he's managed - and says, "I am."

"Then I would be happy to help you."

"God, Harold, could you sound more...more..."

"More?"

Adorable, Louis thinks. "Never mind. Get in here so we can burn the rest of this off, and make it fast. I don't want all the alphas in the house sniffing round."

Harry complies with an efficiency of movement that Louis didn't know he possessed. Louis gets a taste of air that isn't stale and recycled for exactly two heartbeats before Harry's inside and touching Louis as little as possible. He's on his side of the closet with his slightly baggy clothes and his cheeky smile and just the barest hint of a flush on his cheeks.

And his eyes. His eyes are dark.

"Well," Louis says, crossing his arms. "Aren't you going to ravish me?"

"In my experience, the omega does the ravishing." Harry's voice deeper than usual, his words a little more forced. "The way you smell, Lou."

Louis could say the same for Harry. Harry smells like he always does, which is a bit like unwashed boy and a bit of something just a bit richer, but with the fan next to Harry's head and Louis's nose in overdrive, it's a whole different dimension of smelling.

He feels himself get a bit wetter, but that's all. He's not scared anymore. He could shove Harry out of the closet if he needed, and Harry could just as easily be told no and leave. And he feels comfortable with Harry. He has for some time now.

Without further ado, Louis shucks his jeans and boxer briefs and climbs into Harry's lap. Harry laughs, eyes dark and wide with delighted surprise.

"This is going to be fun," he laughs, and then Louis kisses him.

Everyone always talks about alphas when it comes to heat, so Louis knew several things in advance: their reflexes change (in that grabbing takes precedence and things like walking normally go by the wayside), their touches get rougher, and their capacity for speech decreases. It's harder for alphas to consent, he was told in class, so it was important for omegas to not lead them on. Or some shit like that.

They never talked about how omegas seemed to feel things times twenty. Or that the rough touches Harry had - rougher than he'd ever touched Louis, and the first time he'd grabbed harder he'd looked up at Louis, startled and apologetic - hurt, but not in a bad way. If anything, Louis was all the more turned on by the contact. He wanted Harry inside of him. He wanted to take what he wanted.

And judging by the way Harry melted into the touch when Louis roughly grabbed his hair - and then nodded to get the hair to pull all the more - Harry felt all right about being taken.

Louis goes fast...for him. He makes sure to fully taste Harry's mouth first, making it swollen and red. He shucks Harry's shirt and plays with his nipples just like he likes to. (They get so red and puffy. It's delicious.) Harry's squirming under him by the time Louis shoves Harry's trousers and boxer briefs down and pumps Harry's cock a couple times with his hand.

He's more than ready to get him inside - Louis can feel his slick starting to trickle down his thighs - but he's fascinated by Harry's cock. None of the alphas he's been with have been male, and even though the base of Harry's cock won't start to knot properly until he's inside Louis, the way it's already a little swollen at the base is fantastic. Why hasn't Louis gotten off with an alpha while in heat before?

"You mind?" Louis asks, grabbing around the hint of swell and squeezing gently.

Harry shakes his head quickly, tossing his curls around his head. So Louis doesn't let go. Alphas are supposed to enjoy the pressure...or, at least, it's supposed to bring their knot up, so Louis really shouldn't do too much if he wants Harry to fuck him. And he does. The thought of being tied to Harry while Harry comes inside him makes his mouth water.

But Louis needs to see this firsthand. He squeezes Harry, and sure enough, the knot begins to appear. Harry's thrusting into Louis's hand and moaning.

"Sick," Louis says. He shifts enough so he can reach Harry's cock with his mouth, and then he ducks down and licks the tip. Just as good as working him by hand, it turns out. Maybe better, since he gets to taste Harry as well.

It's only when Harry groans "Lou" that Louis realises the knot's swelling more. And Louis might be wet and loose from heat, but he's still never taken a knot before.

"Fine, I suppose," he says, as if it isn't exactly what he wants. Harry snorts even though he shakes a little and pants when Louis lets go.

"Want to," Harry mutters.

Louis kisses him as he climbs back into his lap. "Me too. So much."

He lines Harry up and sinks down, and...oh, fuck, it's absolutely incredible. Even when the knot catches on his rim a little and they both hiss with whatever they're feeling, it's nothing like Louis's ever felt before.

Which is maybe why he's laughing incredulously when Harry's fully seated inside. Harry's looking up at him, gaze a bit hazy but vaguely concerned.

"All right?" Harry asks, brushing the sweaty fringe out of Louis's face.

"Never...fuck, never been better, mate." Louis rocks experimentally and laughs again. "We're doing this again. Just so you know."

They stop talking after that. Harry holds onto Louis's shoulder like he's the one who's never done this before, and somehow, it's Louis directing the whole thing. He isn't sure why that surprises him - it isn't much different than the rest of his life - but it does. He likes it, though. He likes it quite a bit.

Harry's knot swells and swells until Louis can't really ride Harry anymore; Louis can only squeeze around Harry and feel all his girth. That's good enough, but when Harry whimpers and starts to come, and Louis feels just how much come an alpha shoots out, it tips over into incredible.

He's totally forgotten about his own cock in the process, hard and leaking against his stomach. Luckily, Harry comes for long enough that Louis has plenty of time to slip his hand between them and finish himself off, coming all over Harry's shirt. Well. Not like that's obvious or anything.

When Harry's finally finished, he slumps against his wall. Louis feels the prickly, hot sensation leave his skin and brightens, putting a hand to his cheek to confirm what's happened.

"Hazza," Louis says, poking Harry's shoulder even though he looks as if he just wants a nap. "My fever's broken. You did it. Isn't that wicked?"

"Totally," Harry murmurs back, and he grabs Louis's hand to kiss his knuckles. Louis can't help but smile fondly at him. No wonder the voting omegas go wild for Harry. Isn't he the kind of alpha all omegas dream of bringing them through their first heat?

Once the knot's gone down, Harry even helps Louis out of the closet and, once they're free, crouches a little so Louis can jump onto Harry's back. Fresh air's never tasted sweeter. Good thing the house is asleep, though. Harry's shirt is disgusting, and maybe Louis takes a little too much pleasure in noticing it.



Late 2012

The tour's on break to accommodate both Louis and Zayn's heats this week. Zayn's came first. He never texted Louis specifically to say it, but he always drops off the face of the planet when he's in heat, and there was a gap in texts between Monday and Wednesday. For all Louis knows, Zayn could spend that time fighting crime in another universe. (They talk about alternate universes when they're stoned, of course.)

Louis, for once, is prepared. He visited with Mum a couple of days before, made sure to stock up on the snacks he always craves but never has when it happens, and even made sure some of his tour laundry was off his floors for a change. His newest TV's set up on the wall, and all he has to do when the house starts to feel warmer is turn it on, get a bowl of snacks, and he's ready to go.

(He'd considered smoking up as well; he and Zayn discovered, amongst the many delights of marijuana, that pot subdues the worst of the physical symptoms and masks scent. Louis even bought a vaporizer for tonight so it wouldn't be as rough on his voice. But of course, he hadn't remembered before settling in for the night to make sure he actually had weed. The perils of a very busy life, very good marijuana, and a very good friend to smoke it with, Louis supposes.)

But when Louis's starting to feel the beginnings of heat, and he's shucked off his shirt and climbed on his duvetless bed...he doesn't want to do anything he's planned. It's not really unusual for him to feel a bit restless or crabby during heat, and he's not really either, he just...doesn't want to sit around watching telly.

He tries wanking off instead, which feels nice but does little to settle him. He tries a nice dildo and alpha-scented lube he bought for just such an occasion, and it's enough to make him come a second time, but the fever's still there and his cock's still half-hard. Looks like it's one of those stubborn heats.

Louis sighs and gives up. Might as well text Liam. But Liam just sends a poorly-spelled apology; apparently he's out on the town and promised these friends he wouldn't bail. Niall is with his own friends, which Louis finds out when he sends him a friendly digital leer, and Louis's beginning to get annoyed. Does everyone have lives that don't revolve around him?

Zayn's not busy, but he’s up in Bradford, so there's no coming to get Louis off. Not that he has before. Louis frowns and texts him that they should really have a pact or something for moments like this. Zayn sends him back digital hugs and suggests he contacts Harry. Harry definitely has a life that doesn't include Louis at the moment, but he should be in London, so Louis gives him a try.

Harry doesn't text Louis back. Louis waits five minutes for a response and doesn't get one because Harry's living his fabulous life that doesn't involve being stuck inside a room when he doesn't want to be. Louis goes face first into a pillow and groans loudly. It doesn't make him feel better.

He's pulled out of it when the pillow starts buzzing against his face. His skin's a little numb when he pulls out of it - he pokes his cheek with a hand because it feels oddly good - but his other hand stays rested on the pillow, which is still buzzing. Who rings anyone anymore, in this day and age?

The info says it's Harry, so Louis picks up. "Harold! Thought you'd left me to wither and die of boredom."

"Hey, Lou." It's hard to tell over the background noise of what sounds like a club or party, but Harry sounds fond, Louis thinks. "Can we talk?"

"I..." Well, he wanted to ask Harry to come over, but mostly because he was bored. Talking to Harry could work. "Can you even hear me in there?"

Like Louis's words made it happen, the noise cuts off suddenly, like Harry's gone in another room. "I can hear in here," Harry says. "'S a cloak room."

"So you're the one tucked away this time." Louis finds himself liking the idea. "Very well. What did you want to talk about?"

"Mating."

Louis pulls back just so he can stare at his mobile. It looks like it's still functioning properly. He puts it back to his ear. "Sorry, not sure I heard you properly. Did you just propose to me?"

Harry barks out a laugh. So no, then. "I was thinking about the concept in general."

"Really."

"Yes. Like. What are your thoughts?"

Louis feels slightly less baffled than he did a few moments ago, but not by much. He and Harry do not have a mating kind of relationship, but considering they've talked about mating before in one of their boring stretches, Harry probably has a specific reason to talk about it that isn't Louis. It makes Louis a little sad, but not because Harry's likely fretting over someone else. Louis's just sad he's not sad. He and Harry would be a Beyonce-and-Jay-Z level of epic together.

"Lou?"

"Sorry. Generally?"

"Yeah. Would you want to be mated?"

"Probably not this young. Bit scary, isn't it?"

Harry huffs out a breath. "Very scary."

"Probably kind of scary no matter when it happens, though. No reason not to do it if the person's right." Louis sighs and flops over. He always has a little less patience when he's in heat. "All right, I can't stand it. Who are you thinking about?"

"I'm not—"

"Oh, please. I need some satisfaction, and I'm not getting orgasms. Entertain me."

"With my life's drama." Harry sounds like he's smiling.

"Exactly. You're better than the gossip rags. Much more accurate at any rate." Louis hums. "Suppose I could send some photographers your way, although I don't know how much play 'Pop star in a cloak room' will get in the Mirror."

Harry laughs, and Louis can hear a rustle that's probably Harry playing with his hair. "Since you asked nicely, it's Nick."

"Nick?" Louis sits up suddenly. "As in Grimshaw?"

"You can't be surprised."

Louis isn't, really. Well. Not about all of it, anyway. "I didn't know you were into alphas."

"Well, there’s your headline." Harry laughs again. "Do you think I'll get much about how everyone knew?"

Louis scowls. He's gotten the lion's share of the attention - Louis's the stereotypical bottomy male omega who'll mate with a toppy male alpha, naturally - but he's definitely seen plenty online referring to Harry as the stereotypical bottomy male alpha who will end up with a toppy male alpha. Why does everyone think knots are the end-all?

"They can fuck off," Louis grumbles, scratching at his skin. "But all right, Nick. Why him?"

"It's just...you know."

"I don't, actually." All Louis knows about Nick is what he's learned from Harry and from when he interviews the group.

"Well, he tries to cook for me." Harry sounds way dreamier than someone should when saying the object of their affection "tries" to cook. "And he's terrible at saying his feelings but they're all over his face. He has a specific smile when he looks at me."

"Christ." Harry had talked about mating, but somehow, Louis hadn't thought love was part of the equation. He'd thought that Grimshaw was good in the sack or something. Guess Louis can be just as knot-minded as everyone else. "So why did you want to talk to me about it? Sounds like you know what you want, and you think he might not be opposed."

"I don't know, it's just...I'm young, still. I didn't expect it to happen for years."

"It doesn't have to, you know. There are long engagements after initial claims." Not that Harry strikes Louis as the type of person who would go for that. He's thought more than once that Harry was the most likely of the lads in One Direction to get mated after a drunken night in Vegas.

"Maybe," Harry says thoughtfully. "We're touring so much, and Nick's pretty much in London for work."

Louis can't believe he's in a position where he can talk Harry out of proposing to Nick bloody Grimshaw. It's too much power. "That mostly matters if you've got a crap body like I do."

"Your body isn't crap."

"Who's the one with an ice pack on his dick right now, Styles?" Okay, it wasn't Louis, but the idea didn't sound absolutely horrible, which proves Louis's point. "You don't have to worry about being bored in a hotel room alone because you'll stink up the hallways, or being pregnant and fucking up the tour schedule...and, come to it, neither would Nick. There are phones, and planes."

Harry hums like he's really thinking about what Louis's saying.

"But as much as I hate to be the adult here," Louis says as he turns over in bed yet again, "you have to talk to him about this. I'm not a part of your relationship."

"You could be." Louis can hear the leer through the phone. "Just say the word, and you can have two alphas there to help you."

God. Louis might want to get well fucked right now, but he can't imagine ever gagging for it enough to ask Grimshaw for his knot. Luckily, Nick is pretty solidly into alphas from what Louis knows of him. "Hilarious. Suggest that one to Nick, see what he says."

"Before or after I propose?"

"Oh, before. 'Let's go shag Louis senseless and make our initial claims on each other, and then we can shop for rings.'"

Harry doesn't laugh. He just sighs happily, which prompts Louis to make gagging noises on his end of the line. Being a good friend only goes so far.

Of course, Harry is an actual good friend in response and stays on the line for a while after, talking about the rubbish cocktails served at the thing he's attending and the people he's had to do photos with. Not that Harry minds the last part, but there are terrible things about being an omega in heat, and getting out of industry events is not one of them.

But there comes a time where Harry has to go back - he drops his voice to a whisper a couple times during their conversation and giggles because people outside the closet are calling his name like they're searching for him - and Harry doesn't hang up without saying, "Love you, you know. Always have."

"And you're always in my heart," Louis says back. It was their thing in the day, when they lived together and would read the articles about what grand romantic gesture Harry was supposedly going to make to Louis this week. Harry would run off somewhere or Louis would go to see Zayn, and Harry would drop on one knee and declare his love for Louis, and Louis would tell Harry to sweep Louis off his feet while clutching dramatically at his chest. "Unless I don't get to throw the stag do. If you let Liam do it, we'll all be home by ten, and I just don't know if I can keep someone in my heart then."

Harry laughs and blows him a kiss before hanging up. Louis's still left bored and alone with his heat after, but he watches Netflix and smiles in the direction of his phone now and again.


Niall

2011

Louis is the only one who has Niall down as a potential alpha in their pool. Louis is also the first to notice when Niall presents.

They're touring an actual album, which is more ridiculous than Louis could have suspected, even knowing how their first dates went and how the X Factor tour dates felt in those big arenas. They're playing smaller venues than arenas, but the tickets sold so fast. Paul's been shaking his head when he sees the crowds outside and muttering about them playing larger next time. Who knew there would be a "this time", much less a next time?

So they're rehearsing the encore in front of their big party table when Louis starts to smell something...well, nice. He smells alphas loads - they have more than a few on their tour crew - but their scents are not always kind to Louis's hyper-sensitive omega nose. It takes Louis a moment to realise he's sniffing the air in the way he only does when he catches alpha in the air, and then another moment after that to realise he likes the smell because it's someone familiar.

He looks Niall's way and very carefully rolls his head around like he's working tension out of his neck, making sure Niall catches a flash of throat when he does it. Niall growls quietly, and Louis gives his biggest smirk when Niall claps his hands over his mouth.

Louis, of course, is a living example of taste and restraint. Which is why he yells, "I knew it!" and pumps his fists in the air as he laughs mockingly at the others, who are staring at Louis with varying levels of bafflement. Then Louis tackles Niall, ruffles his hair, and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

But because Louis isn't a complete arsehole, he uses the opportunity to lean in and whisper to Niall, "All right?"

"'Course!" Niall's grinning, and Louis pulls back to clap him on the shoulder. "Me! An alpha! Get in."

"Literally," Louis says with a solemn nod, and Niall, being the best of all Louis's fellows, laughs incredulously in Louis's face.

-

Louis uses his winnings to buy the lads ice cream. They're too busy to go anywhere special, so it's just Cornettos in the hotel, but Niall gets all three original flavours.

Niall had bet in the pool on himself as a beta and doesn't look sorry to hand Louis his share. Not that there's anything wrong with betas, of course - Louis would fight anyone who gave his beta nan crap - but there never would have been a grand moment when Niall presented because betas don't present, and Louis prefers dramatic reveals. Betas get to twenty or twenty-one and go round to the doctor's to make sure everything's in place and then marry other betas and live their lives quietly without heat getting in the way. Or that's the story Louis's heard, anyway. When Louis had informed Niall of such, Niall had scoffed in his face and said, "Dad's a beta and Mum's an omega, and heat got in their way."

"Yeah," Harry had agreed, since he'd been snuggled up to Niall for no particular reason and was on hand for the conversation when Louis was initially signing up everyone for the bet. "Niall wouldn't exist at all if it didn't."

Whatever. The point is that Niall is an alpha, and his betting otherwise had been a lack of imagination. Liam and Harry had been similarly afflicted; Liam had said "be nice to have more omegas in the band, wouldn't it?", and Harry had closed his eyes and pointed at a sheet of paper where Louis had written the different options and landed on beta. Zayn hadn't bet at all, saying he just wanted Niall to be happy however he landed. Niall had hugged him a lot for that. Louis had hugged Zayn too, even if he'd mocked him a little. And Zayn contributes to the ice cream fund anyway, which is what matters.

When they're sitting in Niall's hotel room with their cones, Louis raises the one he's eating into the air and says, "A toast to Niall for keeping all those stinkless betas out of our band."

Everyone groans, and Zayn, who's sitting closest to Louis, pokes him in the side.

"Ow, that hurt, Malik."

"Shut it, Tommo." Zayn's smiling, but in the way where he will pummel Louis into the ground if he keeps it up.

"Fine, fine." Louis raises his ice cream into the air, stops to lick a little of the melting mess off his hand, and then raises it again. "Here's to Niall, comrade in arms no matter his presentation."

Everyone cheers in agreement that time. Louis knows what to say; it's just more fun to say the other things sometimes.

They mess about for a couple hours after that, probably because Louis breaks open the minibar and passes around the mini bottles of liquor. There's nowhere near enough to get anyone drunk, but it's enough to make things quiet and warm as the night passes. Louis's lying on the floor with Zayn; Louis can tell by the way Zayn taps on his own tummy that he wants to go smoke, but he doesn't seem inclined to leave. Maybe Zayn's just as invested as Louis in listening to Liam quietly tell Niall what it's like to be an alpha.

Louis rolls his eyes and says to Niall, "If you ever want the perspective of someone who's shagged alphas, you know who to ask."

Liam frowns, which looks extra weird upside down, but Niall scoots to the front of the bed and says, "Yeah, what's it like? You always, uh, take the knot?"

He's looking between Zayn and Louis, but Zayn murmurs, "Lou?" Louis is possibly the only one that knows that Zayn had sex for the first time during X Factor and has never done any shagging during heat, and Louis doesn't consider many things sacred, but the things Zayn's told him in confidence definitely are. And, okay, the things the others have told him in confidence are as well, but he feels less of a protective urge over everyone else. Except maybe Niall, now that he thinks on it.

Harry emerges from the loo. He's lost his clothes at some point, although his tight briefs are still on, and Louis couldn't track when everything else came off. Louis kind of hopes there are fans in the hall; he'd love to see Paul's head explode from their pictures when Harry dashes back to his room.

"Louis does lots of things," Harry says fondly, nudging Louis with a toe and nearly falling over as he balances poorly on one foot. He gets his balance back but plops onto the bed next to Niall and Liam anyway, probably because he wants to.

Louis grins at Harry. "You would know."

Liam looks sharply between them. "Really?"

Louis huffs a laugh and reaches up to pat Liam's arm. "I have sex with my friends sometimes, if we both want it."

His tone is purposely patronising to give Liam a reason to laugh and shove his hand away, but Liam's laugh when he does is a little shaky and confused. Liam Payne is probably the reason "serial monogamist" is a term. Louis's happy to have another reason to shake his world view.

"Shagging friends is nice," Harry agrees, smiling.

"Wow." Liam scratches at his hair. "I always thought the rumours about you two were rubbish."

Louis groans. "I'm not secretly mated to Harry, and we're not planning a hiatus next year to start our family."

"Maybe the year after," Harry says seriously. "I like the number thirteen. It's luckier than people say."

Liam doesn't have a reason to look confused because Niall's too busy laughing beside him.

"You two are idiots," Niall says. "And you never answered my question."

"I like things up the arse," Louis says, looking directly at Liam so he can catch his flustered expression, "and I like it the other way. No reason to be boring."

Zayn sits up. "Besides, that's what plugs are for, isn't it?" Zayn says, laughing before he even finishes his question. Louis grins at him. Zayn's failed poker faces are one of Louis's favourite things about him.

"I'm going to bed," Liam says quickly, getting off the bed. "Good night, and congratulations on your presentation, Niall."

He leaves before anyone else can say anything, and Harry frowns. "Did we push him too hard?"

Louis rolls his eyes. "I don't think we push him hard enough sometimes. I would be happy to usher you through your first heat with an omega, Niall. You smell lovely."

"Really?" Niall asks. "Would you actually?"

"'Course. It's nice to try it out with someone you trust, isn't it?" Louis can't help but send another fond smile Harry's way. Harry grins back.

"You two are making me ill," Zayn says, sitting up, but it's good-natured.

"Me too," Niall says, but he's looking at Louis like he's sizing him up. If anyone that wasn't in the band looked at Louis that way, he'd snap at them. But since it's Niall in particular, Louis hooks an arm around his shoulders and pulls him close. And maybe he sniffs when he drops a kiss in Niall's hair.

Niall really does smell lovely.

-

Louis's been relieved that his heats on the Up All Night tour so far have come on schedule. Of course, "on schedule" mostly means he's not onstage for it; both he and Zayn have had to miss a couple interviews because timing's just a little bit off, but as long as Louis's not giving off heat scent with a mixed audience who would take any opportunity to eat him alive, he doesn't care.

(There was an X Factor show where he had to skip the last song and run for a shower and to hide until most of the crowd was gone. His heart had been in his throat the entire time. Thank Christ for scent-covering soap.)

One of his heats does come a little early in that he's starting to smell in the elevator up to his room the night after a show. They have the day off tomorrow to accommodate both him and Zayn. (It's kind of nice when they're both in heat. Doesn't happen much, but they video chat the entire time when it does.) He hits the vent button in the elevator, and he's only with his beta security, so it's not too bad.

Louis does run into Niall in the hall, and he's vaguely pleased to see Niall freeze in the very particular ways alphas do when they scent an omega in heat. He doesn't have time to talk to Niall about it, of course, so he just gives a cheeky smile, waves, and ducks into his room, making sure the heat sealing's locked in place.

But his phone rings before he turns away from the door, and it's Niall.

"Top of the evening to you," Louis says, sounding a little distracted as he kicks off his shoes. "Sorry our film plans are off, but you know how it is."

"Yeah." Louis freezes as a pleasant shiver rolls through him. He shakes it off as Niall clears his throat. Niall's Niall, but he's never heard his voice alpha deep before. Not bad. "Sorry, I just...were you kidding before about the whole heat thing?"

"Kidding about what exactly? Narrow it down for me, sunshine."

"About, you know. Showing me."

People say alphas are the predatory ones, but Louis barely chokes back a very pleased growl of his own. At least Niall isn't Liam; Liam would run for the hills if he heard Louis getting like that.

"I never kid about shagging," Louis says. And then he thinks about it, and he says, "Well. Not about who I would shag. I would absolutely give you quality heat time, is what I'm trying to say."

There's a light knocking on his hotel room door. "Let me in?" Niall says on the phone, slightly after the hum outside the door when Niall actually said it.

"Just a mo." Louis turns off the phone, sets it next to his bedside table, and strips down a little more. His skin's definitely flushed. Luckily for him, if Niall helps him at the beginning, it means it's less likely to draw out. He might get to run to Zayn's room and steal back his snacks before he goes to sleep.

Louis opens the door and pulls Niall inside. Niall immediately grabs Louis back and starts kissing him, moaning like he does when he's had a really good sandwich. It's a high compliment, really.

While they kiss, Louis takes stock of the situation. It's interesting to realise he didn't really know how much experience Niall had before this moment, and it's just as interesting to notice he isn't listing like his legs are failing him (a classic Harry manoeuvre) or trying to press him against the wall like his friend Eleanor does (which came after they negotiated, of course - she's very considerate). Niall's solid on his feet, and he's rolling his hips into Louis's a little, and he doesn't seem particularly keen on grabbing Louis and holding him or getting them onto the bed.

Actually, Niall does break off after a second, his breathing rough, and says, "Can I...sit?"

"Of course." Louis helps him to a chair because his legs are a little wobbly, and Niall puts his head into his hands for a minute when he's sitting, and it looks familiar. Louis wonders why until he realises this is what happens when Niall's crushed by fans or stuck in a small space. Niall's grabbing the chair and taking shuddering breaths.

Louis stands in front of him for a moment, feeling his own tiny stab of anxiety, and then he hits the scent vent and makes for the toilet.

He isn't sure what to do once he's inside, staring questioningly at himself in the mirror. There's a reason he usually puts exiled alphas in the bathroom instead of himself; they can shower and wank and do whatever it is they need to do. There's little Louis can do to help from in here. But the last thing Niall probably needed, with his claustrophobia, was to be stuck in a smaller room. Louis doesn't normally rank his own bedroom in general - he and Zayn are only rooming solo right now because of their heats, and everyone else is stuck sleeping in one room - so the room is barely a room at all.

So Louis just stares at himself in the mirror until the first spike of adrenalin calms, and then he calls out, "All right, Nialler?"

"Yeah," Niall calls back. "You can come back, sorry."

Louis peeks out of the bathroom. Niall's moved to sit on the bed, waving a little when he sees Louis. Louis hits the fan in the toilet - not that it does much good, he's contaminated it good and proper - and eases out.

"What happened?" he asks.

Niall laughs a little. His voice is a little deeper than usual, but it doesn't sound like the stereotypical alpha husk. More like Niall has a small cold or something. "Just...I get worked up sometimes, when I'm getting off with someone new. Not the first time it's happened."

"So it wasn't my stench?"

Niall crinkles his nose. "You smell great. I don't know why you get so down on yourself, Louis."

That's a little too close to a real observation, so Louis just shoves his hands into his brightly-coloured jeans and shrugs. "You still want to do this?"

"Definitely." Niall's tone is firm. "But while we're talking anyway, I should tell you something."

Louis nods encouragingly.

"I don't want to knot you."

Huh. "Yeah?"

Niall nods.

Louis frowns. "You know I've been knotted plenty of times before. You won't hurt me. I won't let you."

"Please, Tommo." Niall snorts. "Like you can't take care of yourself. No, it's not because you're a fragile...god, I can't even say the whole thing. Fragile omega."

"Oh, fuck off." But Louis relaxes.

"I just don't like...you know." Niall illustrates by making a hole with his right pointer finger and thumb and then sticking his left pointer finger through. "Penetration, I guess you would call it."

"Really." It's not a question, even if he sounds a little surprised. Louis has heard similar before, now that he thinks about it. Eleanor never liked it when Louis gave her oral. She liked it well enough when Louis got her off with fingers and didn't seem to have any problems coming. "So what do you want to do? I can blow you a little, but with the knot..."

"Other way round? You fuck me while I'm hands and knees?"

"Ooh." Louis puts a hand to his chest. He can picture it now, climbing behind Niall, pounding him into the mattress, working his knot with a hand... "Don't say that if you don't mean it."

Niall rolls his eyes. "Come on. I'm not you."

"Sick." Louis claps his hands together. "I can absolutely do that for you...provided I brought my lube, shit. I tend to be pretty wet, so..."

He dives through his luggage. When Louis finds his bottle - thank fuck he brought it - he holds it up in the air like Louis expects to present a BRIT or something in the future. (He doesn't really think they'll be award winners at any point, so when he practises award speeches while he cleans his teeth, it's entirely mocking and ironic.)

Niall dutifully applauds, but he looks genuinely excited about it. Which, of course he would. Maybe there was more to wanting beta presentation than Louis originally thought. There aren't many alphas shagging omegas in heat who would specifically ask not to knot someone, and while omegas are supposed to be more "accommodating", that doesn't mean they are. Louis can't focus on shitheads like that, though. Niall's expression alone, like he's front row for McFly, is enough for Louis to feel the itch to his skin more keenly.

Louis pauses before he crosses back to Niall. "You okay? Not feeling like it's hard to breathe?"

Niall takes an exaggerated breath and grins, giving Louis a thumbs-up.

"Okay. Shove me if you need to stop." Louis slips his feet out of his Toms. "And get your kit off."

Niall strips as Louis does the same. Louis finishes faster, partially because he's dumping his clothes atop his luggage without finesse and Niall's folding his clothes as he places them aside, and partially because Niall's fingers are clumsy, grabbing too hard sometimes and completely missing at others. He takes a break to laugh every time it's really noticeable, too. Louis walks over when he's finished, and as his scent gets closer - Louis had the vent between him and Niall - Niall gets even clumsier, which makes Niall laugh even harder.

"Here," Louis says when Niall fails to unbutton his jeans for the third time. "Let me. You...sniff, or whatever."

Niall takes him at his word as Louis gets the flies open; he nudges his nose through Louis's hair and bumps it against Louis's neck, and Louis can hear it every time he takes in air.

"Smells good," Niall rumbles. Well, for him. His voice is still higher than Harry's normally; Harry in heat is extra grumbly. "Could bottle it."

"When we sell a fragrance, I'll keep that in mind." Louis crouches to push Niall's boxers and jeans to the ground, and he gets a very good view of Niall's cock. It's half hard and starting to swell the slightest bit at the base. "How do you feel about my mouth on your cock for a bit? Wanna taste you."

Niall looks about as nervous as he does turned on, but he doesn't look like he's going to have problems breathing or anything. Still, Louis makes sure to sit Niall down on the bed when he's fully naked so he won't fall over, and Louis makes sure to grab a pillow for his own knees at the same time.

"I won't do this for long," Louis says, squeezing a little bit of lube onto his hand from the bottle he tossed on the bed and then wrapping his hand around Niall. Niall bucks up into his touch right away, grabbing hard at the duvet. "Stop me if it's too much."

Niall nods vigorously, and Louis goes in.

Alpha come doesn't taste like their scent, and more's the pity; jizz would be so much better if it didn't taste like...well, jizz. Harry's is always a little better than most because of the bloody fruit he eats all the time, but Niall's diet is much closer to Louis's, and Louis can taste it just a little when he licks at Niall's slit. Luckily, giving head is such a good time that come could taste vile and Louis would still do it all the time.

The nice thing about sucking someone off during heat is that a knot in his mouth is not one of Louis's kinks, so he can just play around with the head in his mouth and work the shaft and knot with his hands and not have to worry about anyone choking him. He has control here, and if people try to thrust, he can squeeze sensitive areas or dig in fingernails. Niall's obviously gotten a blowjob before as well; he doesn't do more than roll his hips very gently and shake under Louis's hands.

Louis decides not to play with the knot much this time. He bobs his head a little on the part of Niall's cock he takes into his mouth and watches the knot plump up a little just from the stimulation further up, and when he pulls off and strokes Niall by hand, it swells a little more. Niall's staring vacantly overhead, and Louis knows now will be a good time to finger him.

He pulls off and says, "Flip over."

Niall whines and grabs for Louis's hand. Louis holds his hand and only winces a little when Niall squeezes hard. He's heard of alphas breaking omega hands when they're shagging during heat, but none of the alphas he's been with have been strong enough or unaware enough to do it.

"Sorry," Niall says, easing his grip.

Louis smacks the part of Niall's arse that he can get to lightly, and Niall groans and rolls his hips. "I'll fuck you if I can get to your arse. Come on."

He tugs at the hand that Niall's holding, and that's what gets the idea across. Niall rolls over and leans on his arms, sticking his arse up. Niall always jokes about how flat it is, and it's certainly not the lovely round arse that Louis is blessed with (or cursed with; it depends on if he's shopping for trousers or not), but Louis likes Niall's well enough. There's at least enough for Louis to grab and knead, and Niall laughs.

"Good," he manages to get out. "Do it, c'mon."

"Patience, young alpha." Louis's not trying to draw it out for Niall - well, too much, anyway - but most alphas don't get wet. A quick finger against Niall's hole confirms as much, and Louis has to fetch the lube bottle again. After he squirms a little. Having this nice view of Niall is definitely making Louis wet.

He coats his first couple fingers and rubs at Niall's hole. Niall hums at first, rocking his hips and obviously enjoying the pressure, but when Louis eases the first finger inside, Niall groans and pushes to get it in deeper.

"Easy!" Louis says, putting his free hand on Niall's hip.

Niall shakes his head. "Won't break. Come on."

Fair enough, Louis supposes. He's over half hard just from all this, and he'd like to get on with it as well, so he eases in the second finger. Niall's tight, and it takes a moment for him to adjust, but he does before long, and after a few aborted attempts, Louis's fucking his fingers in and out of Niall.

"Good?" Louis asks.

"So good," Niall agrees. "Fuck."

"Is it just as good as you've had before?" Louis likes taking it as much as he likes giving it, in heat and out, but heat is barely different for him. There's still a little part of him wondering if Niall would get a good whiff of Louis and want to bend him over the bed, but judging by the looks of things, that's the last thing on Niall's mind.

"Better so far. Now..." Niall cuts off with a cry as Louis crooks his fingers. Prostate found, apparently. Not that it was hard to find; both Niall's balls and his prostate are swelling. It's always interesting from this side because Louis's body doesn't function the same way, and he's only ever done this with Harry during heat a couple times.

"Now what?" Louis asks innocently, drawing his fingers out.

Niall flops onto his back for a minute and grabs at Louis's arm. Louis goes to him and kisses him eagerly. Niall's mostly taking the kisses, letting Louis lead the way, and Louis's perfectly happy to do so.

When Niall draws back, he says, "In me. Now."

"Well, since you asked so nicely." Louis grabs the bottle of lube, and his cock goes to full attention when he strokes himself a few times. He's just as ready as Niall, really. Just a little more verbal at the moment. "Still want it from behind? We could snog the other way."

Niall answers by rolling back up on his knees. Another thing Louis doesn't really understand. Maybe it's because he's an omega, or maybe it's because he just doesn't like...exposing himself quite that way. Either way, Louis doesn't like this position if he's bottoming. He likes it quite a bit from the top.

Louis looks for a moment, enjoying the sight, and then he asks Niall, "Hold yourself open?"

Niall does so immediately, grabbing the cheeks of his arse with both hands roughly and spreading himself open. Louis can see his face resting on its side, and he smiles at Niall.

"Well done, you," Louis says, lining himself up with Niall's hole and starting to push his way in. "Oh, fuck."

Niall says the same, digging his fingers into his own skin and probably bruising himself. He moans in reaction, and when Louis says, "All right?" Niall just nods. Louis's learning a lot about Niall.

Louis’s heard talk about omegas opening up to alphas and spreading open like flowers during heat or some other kind of bollocks, and it's mostly shit people say to enforce certain ideas. But seeing Niall taking Louis inside, watching his own hips ease forward until he's fully seated in the tight heat, Louis gets it a little. Pity no one would ever talk about alphas taking it this well.

Louis leans over to work Niall's knot as Louis works his hips. That's the nice thing about not bottoming; Louis gets to take Niall's cock in hand while getting to be inside him.

Louis's fine either way, of course. It's really about the experience, isn't it?

It isn't until Niall chuckles under him, hands flexing in the sheets, that Louis realises he's spoken aloud. "You...god, Tommo. Harder. You always talk this much?"

Easy enough to thrust harder while Louis considers the question. The prickle in Louis's skin's starting to settle, and he hasn't even come. He laughs again. "Only for you."

He drapes across Niall's back so he can kiss his throat. That's mostly what Louis's missing here: he likes something to do with his mouth. He nibbles a little and wonders if that's more of the reason for alphas and their whole biting business. Yes, Louis knows they're supposed to bite a certain way when they mate someone, and that's supposed to release bonding hormones or whatever. But really, it's just easier to bite than it is to do anything else.

Niall makes a noise, and Louis doesn't really notice for a moment until Niall repeats it. Oh. He's saying an actual word.

"Towel?" Louis repeats, slowing his hips and frowning.

Niall reaches back to grab at Louis. Possibly to still him? "I'm...when I come."

It doesn't sound like a complete sentence at first, but when Louis pieces it together, he huffs out a surprised breath. "I'm about to make you come, and you're worried about getting your jizz everywhere?"

"'S a lot," Niall says defensively, and Louis pets at his hair. "Can't sleep here."

"Aw, you're worried about me? Could just steal your bed, you know. Whole other room we haven't sullied."

"Towel."

Louis, despite everything, is completely endeared. He kisses the back of Niall's hair and very carefully pulls out. Niall's hips rock, and he shivers.

"Sorry," Louis says. He really is sorry, too; he's rock hard and has some heat itch in his skin and has to go naked to get a towel, walking with his legs out to accommodate his cock as he goes into the loo.

When he comes back in, and Niall moves clumsily so that Louis can position the towel, Louis asks, "Like to wait, Niall? Draw things out a bit? Because usually heat shagging's hard and fast, but I can work with that."

Niall's flushed and sweaty, watching Louis from hazy eyes. "If you...you don't get to work..."

Louis snorts and puts the towel down and positions Niall again. It's a relief for Louis to slide into Niall again, but judging by the throaty groan Niall lets out, it's nowhere near what Niall's feeling. Louis wonders for an instant what it's like to be on that side of things, to be so useless and wanting, and then he starts moving inside Niall again and promptly lets the thought go.

He goes back to gently working Niall's knot again, which is quite large and much more firm at this point, so Louis does more stroking than squeezing. Funny how opposite things are from the other end - it's usually the latter that gets off knot-havers, but just as Louis finds a good stroking rhythm to go with his hand, Niall's crying out and coming, and he smells the best he has yet. Maybe it's the come everywhere, maybe it's something else alpha. Louis's never paid attention to the science. But when Niall slumps forward, spent, the prickle in Louis's skin is gone.

His cock's just as hard as ever, though. He pulls out of Niall - which, thankfully, is much easier when he's still hard - and starts jerking himself off.

Niall mutters again.

"Didn't catch that," Louis says through clenched teeth, fucking up into his grip.

"On me," Niall says, a little louder.

"You were the one who wanted the bloody...towel." But Louis aims just as he reaches the peak, and he comes all over Niall's arse. Quite the pretty picture, if he does say so himself.

Niall's sprawled on the bed with an arm over his eyes, and it's interesting to see knotting from the outside. Louis's seen it with Harry, but it wasn't quite the same; Harry's knot only ever lasted a couple minutes, and Niall looks as hard as ever, knot at the base plump and flush. Louis feels that fondness again, his chest warm with it.

"Fancy a shower?" he asks brightly, laughing hard when Niall says, "Fucking yes" and rolls off the bed, clumsy and sticky.



2014

Louis slings an arm around Niall's shoulders. He can't tell if the screams around have grown or lessened, honestly. He focuses on the chatter he can hear from the other lads behind him and the feeling of Niall against him, sweaty and sticky in the humid summer heat. Niall generally smells the best of them all, and Louis loves smelling him. Niall's taken to wearing the same shirt at several shows without washing it so Louis can take it home if they're on break.

When Niall's done speaking and they're all pulling together to do another song, Niall goes up to his ear and says, "My room tonight?"

Louis grins. "Absolutely."

-

They splinter at the end like they often do. Louis's used to going off with Zayn, but Zayn wanted to work out with Liam and then call his mum in his room quietly, so Niall's the one that goes into Louis's room, stripping his kit off and climbing into bed with him after a shower. They're both on their phones for a bit, which is nice - Zayn understands quiet time, but he ignores his own phone enough that there are times he doesn't feel of this century - and they talk footie before they stow away their devices and snuggle into their bed.

Louis doesn't often think about the fact that he and Niall have fucked before, but it enters his head as Louis turns around and Niall snuggles behind him. It was back then that they started going to sleep like this every now and then, and even after years have passed and everything's happened, they still do it. It's usually the best night of sleep that Louis gets on tour, too.

"What are you thinking about?" Niall mutters, his breath close enough to Louis's neck for Louis to feel it.

Louis shrugs as well as he can with Niall attached to him. "We're terrible pop stars, aren't we?"

It's their joke. They do all these celebrity things - meeting royalty, winning awards, attending their own film premieres - and they're the ones mocking their faces on the screen, eating crap food that anyone off the street could eat. And, yes, they're usually at least a little half drunk, but that's pretty incidental.

Usually, Niall agrees and they have a laugh about it all. Maybe it's the dark, mostly quiet hotel room - for someone who basically lives out of hotels, Louis will probably never be used to the too-thin walls and noisy guests, even if the latter is usually people they know these days - but Louis sounds more serious than he usually does to his own ears.

Niall also sounds vaguely serious when he says, "I think we're doing all right for ourselves."

"Dunno that Rihanna cuddles with her backing band."

"Missing out," Niall mutters. "Besides, we don't know what any of them celebrities do behind closed doors, do we?"

That was certainly true. Louis didn't even know most of their presentations, although that was more because he tended to tune out gossip media than because the information wasn't out there. Maybe Rihanna had a big cuddle bed for all her team.

"Guess not." Louis sighs and burrows in closer. "Night, church boy."

Niall huffs a laugh and hugs Louis. Louis listens until Niall's breathing's evened out before he drifts off to sleep.


Zayn

2013

It's probably not as surprising as it should be that Louis comes up with the idea when he and Zayn are smoking up.

They're in the Mystery Machine, currently parked in Zayn's garage, and Zayn's put hip-hop on the speakers that Louis doesn't recognise. They don't turn up their music as loud as it can go when they're getting high; it's about enhancing the experience, not overwhelming it. Or that's what Louis's said in the past. He gets chatty when he's stoned, chatty and kind of giggly, and that's another nice thing about not having the music loud. It doesn't drown him out when he's going on about whatever's on his mind.

He's saying all this aloud, of course. "I don't know why I don't talk more when we're doing other things. It's fun, isn't it? Talking. Talking about things." He laughs at himself.

Zayn laughs too. It's a little squeaky, so Zayn sings a random line that ends in a high note at the same pitch as his squeaky laugh. It sounds far better than it should.

"Far better," Louis says, even though he's not entirely sure he's said the first part outside of his head. If they were around anyone else, he'd probably backtrack. There's an element of performance that only drops away if he's with Zayn. "You're so great, Zayn. You put up with me when no one else does."

"Hey," Zayn says, frowning. His eyes are a little hazy, but he sounds serious when he says, "It's, like. Not putting up with you. I love you."

They exchange an over-the-shoulder hug. Louis would make it a full one, but he feels awfully heavy, and it's a lot of effort to move right now.

"I love you, too," Louis says, slipping out of the hug. "I'd mate you, you know."

Zayn snorts and then giggles, probably in reaction to his snorting.

"No, I would. We're together so often anyway, on tour and off. We could help each other with our heats, form a nice little omegas-only club..."

"Thought that's what we did anyway."

"I mean, you're absolutely fit." Louis pauses. It's not like he didn't know Zayn was fit, and it's not like he didn't know that he knew that Zayn was fit, but. There's something else there. Something he
didn't know he was there. "You are fit."

"Ta, Louis."

"I didn't know I thought omegas were fit," Louis says, meaning to say it in an undertone, but Zayn's looking at him from his hazy eyes, so he probably said it louder. "Are you just an exception? Because you are right fit."

"Mating isn't just finding me fit, you know."

"I know." And maybe Louis sounds a little snappy about it, but he's allowed. "Just because I haven't had a long-term...whatever since Hannah doesn't mean I don't know how it feels, or that I don't want to. But I can't just put someone from the outside in..." He waves his hands around. "It's not fair."

"Liam does it."

"Liam needs people."

Zayn slips his arm around Louis's shoulders again. "You don't?"

"I don't..." Even as soft and happy as Louis feels right now, there's just enough of him to cut back the deserve to part of the sentence. "Don't even need alphas, do I? Most of my heats these days are just me."

"Having people around is more than just getting you through heat." Zayn's starting to sound a bit sad, and that's the last thing Louis wanted, to harsh Zayn's buzz. What kind of shit friend is Louis? Zayn gets so wound up; he needs these moments, when Louis's the only one watching and nothing's expected of Zayn.

Louis rubs at his eyes - he's not teary, they're just itchy from the smoke - and says, "It's fine. Easier by myself, isn't it?"

"But you're not." Zayn hugs Louis gently. "I'm here."

"Exactly! You're always here." And then, "So if you don't find anyone in, say, five years, you should mate with me. Make it formal. Maybe we could throw a party."

"Have a stag do before."

"Yes!" A stag do was more of a beta thing, since they didn't bond in the way any couples with alphas or omegas did and their ceremony had more than symbolic tradition behind it, but it had been catching on with alphas and omegas in recent years. Louis definitely wanted one. He also wanted to throw it, which maybe defeated the purpose, but if Zayn was going to be his mate, who else would do it? Stan? Danny or Ant? Liam? "Fuck, do you think Liam will get mated any time soon? I have to throw him a rager."

"You'll probably be the first one he goes to."

"He'd better. Who do you think would run our stag do?"

Zayn grins. "Our?"

"Yes, our. If we're getting mated, it's going to be a joint stag do. If we're getting a stripper, I want to see you get a lap dance." Now that's a nice thought. Louis hums to himself as he thinks about it.

Zayn takes his arm off Louis's shoulder and laces their fingers together. "You're serious about this, aren't you?"

"What? Don't I seem serious?" Louis squeezes Zayn's hand. "I mean, I'll probably be single no matter what. You know me and the alphas. Good for a fuck, but never for mating."

"I will," Zayn says suddenly.

"You will..."

"Mate you. In five years or whatever." Zayn rubs his nose into Louis's hair. "I mean, if you don't move on first. You're a catch, babe."

Louis knows that's just Zayn fulfilling the best friend code, but he leans into Zayn and appreciates it all the same.




Early 2014

Louis's flying out to California to work with Liam on the album, but that's only partially the reason for the trip. Part of it is that London's weather is legitimately going to drive him mad, and part of it is that he can't stand the thought of not going anywhere else before his heat for the month sets in. Mum always asks if touring wears on Louis, but he's not sure she realises just how backwards she's gotten it.

So Louis's at Zayn's place the night before his flight's due to leave. Louis's only at his house during breaks if he's not at Zayn's or his mum's, and even when he is in his house, he usually has one of his sisters or one of the lads. When there's a lot of family in town, Louis gives them the run of his house and goes to stay with Zayn.

Zayn, who smokes up with Louis the night before Louis's flight and generously shares his snacks. Zayn, who, after they curl up on the couch and start a film, starts to smell suspiciously good.

"Zayn?" Louis asks. "Are you..."

A "fuck" from Zayn's mouth is the only way that Louis can tell Zayn's not only heard Louis, but that he knows he's going into heat. Already in heat. Whichever.

Louis pauses the film and waits. He isn't sure what he's waiting for. Something from Zayn that isn't just careful breathing, maybe? Zayn's still, not rubbing at his skin absently like Louis does whenever his own heat starts, and the room is hushed and still.

Since Zayn doesn't seem inclined to go anywhere, Louis carefully takes a deep breath. They've been in heat at the same time, but they've never been in the same room before; omegas can set off sympathy heats sometimes, and in most cases, it's easier for work if they both aren't out on the same day. Louis's smelled Zayn's leftover heat in remnants on Zayn's clothes, or on Louis's clothes after he steals them back from Zayn, and it's always made Louis feel...well, comfortable.

Breathing in with Zayn's scent filling the air doesn't make Louis's skin painful, and it doesn't make him want to shag Zayn like it would if he was an alpha. Still, after a couple breaths, Louis dares to move closer, rubbing his nose in Zayn's hair to get the full smell.

Zayn laughs quietly. "What are you doing, babe?"

"Writing a novel. What does it look like?" Louis shifts his hips, and...well, that's impossible not to notice. Louis's starting to get hard.

Apparently, he really is into omegas.

Louis pulls back far enough to see Zayn, who's watching Louis wordlessly, but Louis feels a small surge of panic. Louis can read him like a book. That's why it's easy to tell that Zayn looks about five seconds from crying.

"Hey." Louis gets in again, hugging Zayn without sniffing him at all. "What's wrong?"

Zayn sniffles. "Nothing."

"Doesn't look like nothing."

"It's..." Zayn shrugs, and for a moment, he looks like he probably does to strangers when he shuts down in interviews: maybe a little uncertain, and definitely distant. But then Zayn brushes away a tear trail on his cheek and says, "Heat. You know."

Louis frowns. "Know what?"

"You don't cry?"

"Can't say I ever have during heat. Cry enough as it is, really." That isn't entirely true; he cried once during heat because he was bored in his hotel room and decided to watch I Am Legend, but that wasn't the heat.

Now that he thinks about what he had to learn of heat in school, yes, crying happens. Maybe Louis hasn't met anyone who's admitted to crying during heat (minus Harry, who cried one time he shared Louis's heat, but that was more because he was stressed about bad reviews than heat itself), but a body goes through a lot in heat. Maybe it's more surprising that Louis hasn't cried during heat. Fuck, Louis would hate crying through heat.

Zayn doesn't look too happy about it himself, but it's hard to look happy with puffy, wet eyes.

"That's why you haven't shagged during heat?" Louis asks. Zayn's had a couple long-term relationships, most recently with Perrie, but Zayn still didn't drink in Never Have I Ever whenever Louis uses his "Never have I ever shagged someone else during heat" standard to get the other lads to drink with him.

Zayn shrugs. "Who would want to?"

"I would, for starters."

Zayn freezes in the middle of wiping his eyes. "You would?"

"Yes, of course."

"Like, for serious. Right now. You would."

Louis tilts his head as he considers it. Is he just saying that because he wouldn't let crying get in the way, or would he really want to do this? With Zayn?

"I would shag you," Louis says again, slowly. "I want to. Right now, even. Interesting."

Zayn laughs, the sound coming out a little wet. "Don't have to sound so surprised."

"Well, excuse me if I'm accommodating a newly-expanding world view." Louis tilts his head away for this next question. He can still see Zayn out of the corner of his eye, but not full-on. "If I were to...offer. Would you want to?"

"Like it's so hard. You're bloody fit, mate."

"Stating the obvious, are we?"

"Hey." Zayn puts a hand on Louis's knee, and Louis turns to look at him again. "I'll tell you a million times if I have to. You're beautiful."

Louis swallows, and he puts his hand over Zayn's. "Smooth bastard, aren't you."

Zayn bats his eyelashes, but it doesn't work as well when they're wet. Louis smiles fondly.

"Right," Louis says, squeezing Zayn's hand. "So we're doing this. I'm taking care of you."

"'M supposed to be the one taking care of you."

"Fuck that." Louis grabs Zayn's hand. It's not a tender gesture; it's more like when he steals Niall's marker when they do book signings. It doesn't stop Zayn from lacing their fingers together. "Fuck that...omega shit. We take care of each other, don't we?"

The words are barely out of Louis's mouth when Zayn leans in and kisses Louis.

Louis can taste Zayn on his tongue, and he'd be lying if he said it did nothing for him; his cock's twitching in his track bottoms already. He pulls a little closer to Zayn and is rewarded when Zayn hums into his mouth, making Louis's lips tingle pleasantly.

Louis pulls back and takes his own turn wiping at the tear tracks on Zayn's face. "What do you want to do?"

Zayn mumbles something, and even as close as Louis is, he misses it at first.

"What was that, love?" Louis asks.

"Want your mouth," Zayn says, and Louis's not entirely sure that's what Zayn said before, but as long as Zayn actually wants a blowjob, Louis can't say he minds.

Louis kisses Zayn's mouth one more time lightly. "Here? Or you want to move into the bedroom?"

Zayn answers by sliding his trousers and boxer briefs down. Louis makes him take his shirt off, too; Louis doesn't like to shag anyone unless he gets to see most everything, and he's always loved Zayn's tattoos. They're much closer to the kind of tattoos someone with taste and an organised mind would have.

(Louis still loves his own tattoos, mind. They really capture what it is to be Louis in a way that nothing else in the world does.)

He kisses Zayn's torso, nipping lightly at his collar bone and watching Zayn's face. Zayn's watching Louis right back, and even though his eyes are watery and red, he's not actively crying at the moment. He looks a little nervous, maybe, biting at his lip and frowning a little, and Louis rubs gently at his hips.

"You do want this?" Louis asks. You won't hate me if we do this? he doesn't ask.

Zayn nods, and he reaches down to adjust himself. Not in a showy way; he seems like he really wants it.

"You will tell me if you want to stop." It's neither a question nor an order. It's Louis saying, out loud, how much he trusts Zayn.

Zayn brushes his hand through Louis's hair in reply. "Love you," he says.

Louis leaves a tender kiss on Zayn's chest and moves down Zayn's torso, both to give Zayn more affection and so Louis can draw out the feeling a little longer. It's probably going to turn into something hotter once he gets his mouth on Zayn's cock, and Louis is more than okay with that, but it doesn't mean he doesn't want a few more moments of what they currently have before they get there. Zayn's humming quietly, and he smiles down at Louis when Louis shoots a questioning look back at him, so he apparently likes it, too.

"Lie back," Louis tells him, brushing his thumbs over Zayn's hips. "You can cry all you want. I have this totally under control."

Zayn rubs at his eyes with the back of his hand and does what Louis asks, stretching out.

"You're beautiful, babe," Zayn says quietly as Louis pulls out Zayn's hardening cock.

"Shut it," Louis says, without any heat. "You can worship me later, but for right now, it's distracting."

Zayn laughs, and it's a little wet, but he pats Louis's head nicely and draws back. There's something intense about his gaze, intense in the way he almost is on stage, when he really wants to do what he's doing but he's really nervous about it. Louis would try to reassure him, but his own stomach is fluttering. Best to get to it, he supposes.

He kisses Zayn's stomach one more time, nuzzles his nose in the hair Zayn has, and then he starts mouthing at the soft skin of his cock. His scent is even stronger down here, and Louis feels dazed with it. Not in the sympathetic heat way or anything. Just. This is Zayn. Louis didn't think he had this kind of boundary with any of his mates, but he feels like he's crossing into something bigger for the first time.

But he doesn't want to think about it, not when he could have Zayn's cock in his mouth, so he sinks down and takes Zayn in, feeling the stretch of his jaw and the spit accumulating in his mouth. Zayn groans, and his scent spikes in a way that Louis's never experienced before. He doesn't smell himself much when he's in heat; he only smells himself enough to know that it's more than usual and that heat's happening. Like this, it's almost like he can read Zayn like a book. Or smell Zayn like a book.

After Louis works on Zayn's cock for a bit, bobbing his head and working the base with one of his hands - so odd that there's a heat smell in the air and there won't be any knots happening - Louis hears a sniffle. He pulls off enough that he can look up and see Zayn wiping at his eyes.

"Sorry," Zayn says.

"No. None of that." Louis grabs Zayn's hand. "Just hard to tell if you're enjoying it. It's good?"

Zayn nods quickly. "So good, babe."

That's good enough for Louis. He ducks back down and redoubles his efforts, teasing underneath the head of Zayn's cock with his tongue, using his free hand to play with his balls just a little. That came from knowledge gained from a drunk Zayn once. He talks a lot when he's high, just like Louis does, but Zayn stays on topic better when he's drunk. Still, Louis hadn't realised he'd been sober enough to remember, or that he was steady enough to do it now, but Louis must be doing something right because Zayn's noises grow until he squeezes Louis's hand in warning.

Louis pulls back, keeping the tip of Zayn's cock in his mouth, just in time for Zayn to come. It isn't a lot of come, which is nice. Just enough to get a taste and to visibly swallow so Zayn can see. Zayn's panting as he comes down, and he's stopped crying.

"Well done, me," Louis tells himself. He resists the urge to pat himself on the back at first, but he sees Zayn bite back a smile, so Louis does it, his hand thudding with a satisfying sound. Zayn's grin is brilliant. "Feeling better, love?"

Zayn nods, laughing a little as he grabs Louis's hand. "Fuck, I'm the biggest knob."

"Excuse me, I thought that's why we spent time together. You will never be as big a knob as me." Louis scoffs as he adjusts himself with his free hand. No one is worthy to take the crown of King Knob away from Louis, and he's very proud of that fact, thank you. "Now let me come on you."

"No."

"No?" Louis's stopped his hand from sneaking into his boxer briefs.

"You can, I mean." Zayn's looking like he's fighting some serious sleepiness to sit up. "I want to, like, help."

"Oh. You don't have to, babe. This was about you."

Zayn's eyes widen, and he isn't crying, but he looks like he's close to more tears. "You don't want me to?"

Instead of answering, Louis takes Zayn's hand - they're still holding hands at this point - and presses it to Louis's erection.

"Whatever you want," Louis says, putting his hands behind his head.

Zayn doesn't do anything right away, and Louis can almost see the cogs in his head turning. He doesn't want to push Zayn into talking it out when he's this flustered, so Louis bites his lip in the way Zayn often does and shivers, both at the light feeling of teeth in his lip and of Zayn's light touch on his crotch through his track bottoms.

It might be the shiver that does the trick because, right after, Zayn cups his hand and presses on Louis's cock with more purpose. Louis rewards him with a happy sigh.

"This isn't weird?" Zayn asks.

"'Course not." Well, maybe it is. But it's not a bad weird, and Louis smiles to get the idea across.

Out of nowhere, Zayn surges forward and kisses Louis. Maybe Louis squeaks with surprise, but he'd like to think it was just a...high-pitched exhalation. Yeah. Normal. Nothing that would destroy his sex god reputation.

Fuck, but Zayn can kiss. Just because he hasn't been with anyone during heat before doesn't mean that isn't true. Louis grabbing eagerly at his shoulder seems to restore his confidence because he grabs Louis back and rocks his hips again Louis's erection. Zayn's starting to get hard again.

"Again?" Louis says as Zayn starts nibbling on Louis's ear.

"How many times can you usually go in a heat night?"

"Depends."

"I can usually go all night."

"Even after someone else...oh, fuck, don't...don't..."

They're rocking against each other now. It feels oddly like when they're on stage together. The pounding in Louis's ears is his own heartbeat instead of the drums in his in-ears, and he's not working toward an orgasm in front of the crowd, but there's something about finding his rhythm with Zayn and making it work that's familiar. And good.

As he comes, Louis realises he didn't take his track bottoms off. Or his boxer briefs. Zayn's naked, and Louis's a sticky mess in his clothes.

"Fuck," he says, falling against the couch with a huff. He laughs.

He's only interrupted by come splashing on his chest. Zayn, apparently, had taken his orgasm into his own hands.

"You...I wanted to do that!" He shoves at Zayn a little, and Zayn laughs and shoves him back, laughing in a way that almost sounds like his pot giggles. "You distracted me, shithead!"

"You look like you need a shower," Zayn says, poker face cracking again, and he's off the couch running before Louis can get his legs back in order.

-

Louis wakes up first the next morning. The room's dark from the drawn curtains - one of the many benefits of Zayn's house - and smells of soap and cigarettes; they'd ended the night as they often did, with a smoke, shower, and cuddle. He can just make out Zayn in front of him, soft and content in sleep. They've slept as they often do when they share a bed, facing one another with their legs tangled together. Louis slung an arm over Zayn's shoulders, which is nice because his arm usually ends up underneath Zayn and he has to wait a while for it to regain feeling when he wakes up. Today, he can just draw back, taking care to leave the warmth under the covers.

He pisses, makes tea, eats a little. He has to leave for his flight soon, and he could just leave Zayn sleeping, leave him a note like he so often does. He could also wake him up and talk. Not that there's any reason for that. So they shagged. Louis's shagged the other lads, so really, it was odd that he didn't have sex with Zayn before now. Maybe it's even odder that it wasn't during Louis's heat.

"Right," he mutters to himself, stubbing out the cigarette he lit up after eating. "Very odd."

Louis digs up a pen and paper a few minutes before the car's due to arrive, but his hand hovers over the page - pilfered from Zayn's printer, so there's lots of room to deface - before he can leave his usual note: flight leaves at whichever time, should touch down at whichever time, get your lazy arse out of bed so I can ring you when I get there, hearts, penises, etc. Zayn always sends him something back in return before he's expected to land, and Louis likes getting it.

In the end, he leaves the pen and goes back into Zayn's bedroom, leaning over the bed. He doesn't give into the urge to cup Zayn's cheek - there's nothing to the urge in the first place, Louis just likes Zayn's facial hair - and instead scratches at Zayn's hair until Zayn hums. Depending on the day, it's either a "should I get up" noise or a "you have five seconds to stop before I summon just enough energy to chase you out of the room". It sounds too musical to be the latter.

"Leaving, babe," Louis says quietly, not wanting to break the hush in the room. He kisses Zayn's forehead. "Call you when I get there."

"Not if I don't call you first." Zayn's eyes are still closed, but his voice sounds remarkably clear, considering. He reaches up and puts his hand over Louis's.

They stay like that for a moment. There's something in Louis's chest telling him to do more, do something to let some of the pressure in his chest go. He leans in, and a kiss would be easy, but...no. He tips his forehead against Zayn's, presses his hand against the back of Zayn's head, and then breaks contact, turning away before he does something stupid. He leaves the bedroom quickly, but he makes sure to close the door quietly behind him.

The car's outside when he grabs his suitcase and opens the front door. Liam opens the door to the back seat before the waiting driver can, waving eagerly as Louis stuffs a hand in his hoodie and drags his suitcase forward.

"All right?" Liam asks after Louis's climbed in and started fiddling with his seat belt.

"Always," Louis says, and it almost sounds convincing.

-

Louis doesn't think about why he's throwing his jumper across the studio until Liam speaks up.

"When's your next heat due?"

"Fuck," Louis snarls, and it sounds nothing like how Zayn said it a couple nights before. Zayn, who has been more on Louis's mind than his songwriting duties. Zayn, who hasn't answered a text from Louis asking how he is but has sent a couple pictures of him with his sisters, like he keeps forgetting his phone's there until someone there asks him to use it.

Zayn, who Louis really wishes was here right now.

He allows himself to be herded by Liam and talks to Sophia and should care a lot more about whatever arrangement the two of them have for heat purposes. On any other day, during any other heat before this one, Louis would be grilling the fuck out of Liam, and yes, probably needling him a fair amount. But as much as he's enjoyed sex with Liam and as much as he enjoys making Liam blush or squirm, he would trade it all for Zayn's scent in his hotel room, Zayn's body up against his.

Fucking hell, Louis is not going to be that needy omega. He squares his shoulders when he gets out at the hotel. Liam is a good friend, going out of his way to make sure Louis's comfortable, and Louis's not going to throw that away just because he might, possibly, want to see if Zayn wants to do this all again sometime.

Of course, then Liam has to be a good friend again and read Louis's body language and back out. Instead of admitting in any way how relieved that makes him feel, Louis plays with the telly and looks at his vibrator and finally, finally, pulls out his phone to see Zayn's face. But what could he say? "Hi, I'm in sympathy heat, and I think I'm halfway in love with you. Can we Skype?" No fucking way.

He feels better when he hears Liam singing in the bath and they start working. It's not that he's channelling his frustrations into written music, exactly; Louis has done expressive writing before, but this isn't something he can even put into words yet. It's a nice distraction, mostly. So is the nap he takes that kills the rest of the time until his heat's broken. He wakes Liam so Louis can use the toilet, and Liam looks a bit panicked until he sniffs cautiously at the air and relaxes.

"Doing wonders for my ego, Payno," Louis says as he lifts the toilet seat. "Go to bed."

Liam stretches with a groan as Louis starts peeing, obviously sore from his time on the ground. "Going back to sleep?"

"Probably in a bit."

"Call me when you wake up, yeah? We can eat before we go to the studio."

Louis nods, and Liam leaves as Louis flushes and washes his hands.

The smart thing to do would be to climb back into bed. Louis's never credited himself with doing the smart things, save for his X Factor audition. Instead, he pulls his phone out of the bedside table, tosses it lightly on his bed, and walks around for a bit. The buzzing under his skin reminds him of heat. Or stage fright.

"Right," Louis says, and he starts trying to get a hold of Zayn.

It's kind of nice that Zayn's always hard to access; there's really nothing to read into it when Louis calls and texts and nothing happens. The fact that it cuts off quickly this time implies Zayn's battery's dead, and he doesn't answer the landline, which means he's possibly at his parents'. Waliyah answers the phone when he calls the landline, half-yelling at Safaa about closing a door as she does it, but it doesn't take long for Louis to learn that Zayn isn't at theirs.

(Louis texts Trisha just to be sure, and she sends Louis a very warm text back saying he hasn't come round. Somehow, texting Zayn's mum doesn't make Louis more nervous; it just makes the pit in his tummy a little deeper.)

Danny isn't with Zayn, either. Louis knows Niall's either doing physical therapy or is watching films with some of his friends at home; Louis texts Niall anyway to say hello while Louis tries to breathe. This is completely normal. He knows it's completely normal, and at least he hasn't had to resort to Twitter yet, but if there was one time Louis hoped Zayn would answer his bloody phone...

He's in the process of drawing a cock on his bedside table so he can take a picture for Niall when his phone plays Bob Marley. Louis fumbles the marker and gets black streaks on his hands. No less than he deserves, but fuck, of course this happens now. Louis leans toward the bed where he's left his mobile, hits answer and speaker with a bent knuckle to keep from getting marker on the screen, and says, "Zayn?"

"Hey, babe."

Louis sits carefully on the bed next to his phone. "Good to hear your voice."

"Glad you rang. How's California?"

"Well..." No reason to draw it out, Louis supposes. "Shit, to be honest."

"Yeah? What's wrong?"

Louis clasps his hands together and rests his chin on top of them. "Went into heat last night."

A moment of quiet. "Yeah?"

"Supposed to happen next week, you know."

"I do know."

"And I got...upset."

"Pissy."

"Ta. So Liam offered to fuck me."

Another moment of quiet. "Oh."

Louis laughs and winces a moment later at how loud and obnoxious it is in his ears. "But he saw that I didn't want to and we didn't. I was furious."

"At Liam?"

"That I'm here and you're so far away." Briefly, Louis wishes Liam was here. He's better at speaking than Louis is, and even if Liam was at a loss for words, at least Louis could fuck with him to settle a bit. "I liked what we did when you were in heat."

There's a couple of sounds on the other end of the line, and it takes Louis a moment to realise Zayn's lighting something up. A cigarette, if Louis had to guess. For once, Louis doesn't want one of his own.

A couple exhales, and then Zayn says, "Liked it, too."

"What if...what if we tried it when neither one of us was in heat?"

"Just shagging?"

"Just," Louis scoffs. "Nothing about the orgasms we had are deserving of just."

"So you'd want to be friends fucking? Like when you slept with the others."

The funny thing is, if Zayn had asked Louis while he was in heat, he would have probably said yes. He would have been thinking maybe, but he never lets on when he doubts. And really, the answer either way is yes; there is no way Louis wants to be fucking Zayn in any capacity and not be friends.

But Louis knows what Zayn is really asking - asking if there's something more going on between them - and immediately he knows the answer. He's in love with Zayn.

"We'd be friends," Louis says slowly. "But I think I want to mate you. Someday. Not now. But we would be shagging with that in mind."

"Oh. Not for our pact?"

Fuck, Louis had totally forgotten about that. "Because I want to mate you. Not because of the bloody pact I came up with when I didn't know what I wanted."

"Huh." Zayn makes a sound that Louis suspects is blowing out smoke. "Reckon that could be nice."

"Nice. That's all you think about it?"

The pause that comes after is long and loaded, and Louis considers, briefly, that it just might kill him. It's in pursuit of a worthy cause, for sure, but Louis kind of hoped he'd make it to at least thirty before he did. There's so many albums to write in that time.

Louis's trying to remember how to breathe when Zayn finally laughs, high and nervous. "You might just be the love of my life, Tommo. How thick are you?"

It's Louis's turn to laugh. He curls up into a ball and lays on his side on the bed, laughing in a way that almost feels like crying.

"Fucking hell, Malik," he says. "You pull this shit now?"

"Sorry, sorry." Zayn's still laughing. "I just, like. If I was there I would be snogging your face off."

"So this is what you do instead?" Louis's eyes sting, but that possibly might be more from relief than anything. "You know how to give a lad a heart attack. Fucking hell."

"I love you. Don't die."

"I won't die. Shit. It's fucking lucky I love you too."

Louis can hear the smile in Zayn's voice when Zayn says, "Sick."




Late 2014

Not that there's exactly a quiet time in Louis's life, but the end of the year is always bustling, and 2014 is no different. One Direction finishes their end-of-year commitments in America, and Louis immediately takes Zayn home with him for his birthday. It's the best time Louis ever had bringing someone home in that romantic kind of way, and it's partially because it's really no different from the times Louis's brought Zayn back. They each take one of the babies to start - and Louis dies a little inside in the best possible way when he sees Doris smile and giggle with Zayn - and rotate through the girls, hearing firsthand some of the stories Louis's gotten through text the rest of the year. Maybe it'll stop being weird one day that his sisters do so much growing without him around, but for now, it's nice that he has Zayn on one side and Ernie on the other.

But Louis has to bow out from any family on Christmas Day because his heat's due, so they head back to London the evening of Louis's birthday. It's so much better having Zayn there than if Louis had had to go into exile by himself; honestly, he probably would have thrown a rager on his birthday and stayed drunk Christmas Day and caught up with family when he was too hungover to walk properly. Zayn, on the other hand, suggests family time first and drinking second.

"Maybe third," Zayn says thoughtfully as their car drops them at his front door. "Think we should shag your heat out before we get too pissed to get it up."

Louis grins.

The problem, of course, is that they have hours to spare before they'd go to bed, and neither wants to fuck before the heat rises. They found out during their summer break how shitty it is to be too shagged out to be able to fuck during heat. (It's easier for Louis to get a boner during heat, but when you've spent days releasing the tension built from long tour days without good fucking opportunities before heat starts? Stiffies just don't happen.)

So Louis plays FIFA for a while and Zayn draws while they both smoke - tobacco, neither of them have had the chance to restock their weed supplies since they made it back - and when midnight hits, they open crackers, put paper crowns on their heads, and try to throw their jokes at each other. There's a little tickling - and, okay, kissing - but when it's gone two in the morning and Louis's heat still hasn't hit, he's at the point of sighing pointedly at Zayn.

"I can't do anything," Zayn points out after Louis sighs and looks longingly at Zayn.

"I'm bored. Do something."

Zayn brushes his hair out of his face, and Louis gives himself a moment to feel a pure surge of lust. He would hope Zayn would cut his hair soon - the long hair is distracting, okay - but he looks unreal no matter which hairstyle he goes with. Zayn will probably get the itch for something different before tour starts, at which point Louis will have to spend some of their couple time jerking off while he looks at it.

"'S not like I can make your heat happen. Not unless..."

"Unless what?"

Zayn bites his lip, and he looks pointedly at Louis's throat.

"Not unless we make an initial claim," Louis finishes. "Start working toward a mateship."

Zayn nods, eyes careful and considering.

Louis looks toward the wall behind the telly. Mating. Well, working toward mating. It's an engagement: they make their first physical claim, tell everybody if they want it public, and start planning a ceremony. The actual mating happens on the wedding night, when the second physical claim seals the deal. (Or that's the so-called traditional way. Loads of people do the physical claims back-to-back to get all the endorphins at once and just do the ceremony when they have time. Others do the ceremony first and all the claims later, which Louis doesn't understand, but he's never been good at waiting.)

The commitment doesn't bother Louis. He was willing to make a pact with Zayn about claiming and mating long ago, and frankly, Louis's always suspected he wouldn't want to leave a proper relationship again if he found one again. He's suspected much the same about Zayn; it had scared Louis a bit, at first, when he realised it would be nearly impossible for Zayn to let himself go through heat with anyone else. But then they'd spent most of the year in love, and it had changed little between them, and that's what had settled Louis down.

Louis straightens and tugs at his shirt a bit, mostly for something to do. It looks busy and important, adjusting one's clothes when about to declare a life decision.

"All right," Louis says. "I'm in."

When he risks a look at Zayn - Louis's half-ready for Zayn to laugh in his face for taking it so seriously - Zayn's pulled a box out of nowhere, but instead of doing some down-on-his-knees shit, he's sitting slouched on the couch, the box perched open on his stomach. The ring inside's silver or platinum - Louis doesn't know enough about precious metals to tell on sight - and it's fucking beautiful when it catches the light.

Zayn pretends to look surprised when Louis notices the ring, but he's a terrible actor. He's grinning, and that, more than anything, is what makes the moment for Louis. Zayn would be visibly bricking it if he was proposing to anyone else - not because he wouldn't want it, he's just truly comfortable with so few people - but he knows Louis.

Fucking hell. Zayn knows Louis well enough that he tricked him into agreeing to a proposal without actually proposing.

"You wanker," Louis says with delight, grabbing the box. "Fuck. Is this sized for me? I don't even wear rings."

"Caroline sorted it. She says congratulations, by the way." Zayn sits up with a happy little bounce. "Happy Christmas and birthday, love. I should probably say outright that I want to spend the rest of my life with you, shouldn't I?"

Louis kisses Zayn hard on the cheek before taking the ring out with his right hand, pinching it carefully with his thumb and pointer finger and holding it up to get a better look. "Like you didn't know you were stuck with me."

He holds the ring in Zayn's face. Zayn looks baffled for a moment, but his face softens when Louis sticks out his left hand, and Zayn takes the ring from Louis. Louis maybe shivers a little as the ring goes on, and he definitely wells up, sniffling and brushing away a tear.

"Now I'm going to be the one who cries through heat," Louis says. "Hope you like it wet."

Zayn pulls Louis to him. "Such a romantic."

-

Louis learnt of claims in school...claims between omegas and alphas, or omegas and alphas with beta partners. The lessons didn't cover omega-omega claims or alpha-alpha claims. It hadn't even occurred to Louis at the time that those claims would even exist, much less them being different if they did. After he'd talked with Zayn about their mating pact, however, he'd gone online and read up on them. He'd even learnt that some managed to do claims between more than two people at the same time, which Louis had found fascinating.

Anyway, he knows what Zayn's doing when they go to the bedroom and Zayn starts rubbing at his chin with the tips of his fingers. Louis does the same after he strips. He always thought it would be gross to feed scent and his own slick to his partner when he thought about it in the past, but now that Zayn's naked on their bed and starting to smell that unique Zayn smell, Louis's starting to get hard at just the thought.

"Gimme," Louis says, grabbing Zayn's wrist with his left hand. He catches sight of his ring before he can taste Zayn, though. "Fuck. We're going to mate."

Zayn carefully extracts his wrist so he can start working at his chin. "If you let me do it. I don't know how much we need."

"You know all the people who have managed to mate in the past? I think we're fine."

Louis grabs Zayn's wrist again, and Zayn goes with it this time. Louis licks carefully once, and god, Zayn's scent. He tastes as good as he smells, which is wonderful because Louis gets as much Zayn as Zayn will allow him to have for the rest of their lives. And yeah, okay, that's kind of a turn on.

"Flip over," Louis says, in a bolt of inspiration.

"Huh?"

The traditional way to share slick and scent is feeding, probably because handfeeding is so often a thing with alphas and omegas; you gather both on your fingers and share. It's never been one of Louis's fantasies, although he'd considered the idea when he'd been shagging Harry on and off. It hadn't been appealing, and frankly, it wasn't entirely appealing now.

But Louis had ideas about what could be appealing.

"On your stomach," Louis says, patting at Zayn's hip.

Zayn raises an eyebrow, but he rolls over obediently. Louis pushes the cheeks of Zayn's arse apart and strokes over his hole a little. Zayn's definitely getting wet, but if they're worried about quantities, Louis knows how to take care of that.

He leans forward and licks over Zayn's hole. Zayn's legs jerk in surprise.

"Tastes fantastic," Louis says happily. "You like rimming?"

"I've...I've never done it."

"How is it so far?"

Zayn pushes a strand of hair out of his face, and Louis feels this odd rush of lust and love in his chest. It makes him a tiny bit queasy, but he's so happy he doesn't much care.

"Good," Zayn says. His gentle smile's probably in reaction to what feels like a goofy smile on Louis's face. "Feeling good?"

"So good." Louis kisses down Zayn's lower back until he's back at Zayn's hole, at which point he licks again, lapping up the slick that's more freely flowing at this point. Louis himself starts feeling really slick when he points his tongue and aims in a bit and Zayn cries out and grabs at the sheets. Slick and empty. Zayn should really fuck him.

He says as much, but his mouth is still against Zayn, so it isn't until Zayn tugs lightly at Louis's hair that Louis pulls back and says it again.

"F-fuck me, will you?" Louis asks.

Zayn laughs, shaky. "If you don't stop now, I won't have anything to fuck you with. And I still have to taste you."

Louis nods hard and starts trying to flip over, but his legs slide out from under him. He giggles and tries to say out loud how funny it is, but his mouth doesn't seem to want to work right.

"Looks like the claiming heat's started, yeah?"

Louis nods at Zayn. He'd read about this too, that both omegas went into heat at the claiming if they did it right, and it wasn't uncommon for one or both omegas to take on alpha-heat traits. Like verbal problems and walking problems.

"Let me help," Zayn says, and Louis lets himself be put into position. He'd probably hate this if he wasn't so happy. Claiming endorphins were sick. "Can you hold your legs up?"

Louis nods even though he isn't sure, but when he puts his hands under his knees and pulls up so that his arse is on display, he finds he not only can, but that it gives him something to grab. He kneads at his own legs for a moment as Zayn ducks under and...

"Fuck," Louis groans. He's obviously not an alpha for a lot of reasons: his cock's stiff as a board and lacking a knot, his voice is high-pitched, and Zayn's lapping up slick that most alphas don't emit even during claiming heat. But his head's spinning in a way it hasn't before, and suddenly, he understands that overwhelmed look he always saw on faces of alphas he fucked. It's all so much. "In me. Please."

Zayn looks up, mouth wet and eyes dark. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and that look is all for Louis.

As Louis pulls his legs back as far as he can, Zayn gets closer, lines up his cock with Louis's hole, and eases in. It's probably easier than it would have been without the rimming, but Louis feels every inch of Zayn's cock drag inside. He throws his head back and cries out.

"Lou," Zayn says, and maybe the heat's on him as well because his voice is deeper than usual. "All right?"

Louis nods quickly. "Hard. Come on."

Zayn gives Louis exactly what Louis asked for, sliding almost all the way out and slamming back in. Louis feels every millisecond of it at first, Zayn's cock filling him up, Zayn's hips slapping as he pushes in, the stretch of his legs, and then Louis doesn't feel much of anything besides a happy haze. It's perfect and it's so much that Louis just...rides it all.

It's then he notices the smell in the air. It's not exactly Zayn's heat smell, and it's not exactly Louis's heat smell, but a smell that's both of them. It probably means the claiming's working.

Louis doesn't notice Zayn's come until he slides out of Louis. Louis's flying enough that he doesn't feel weird without Zayn inside of him. He does feel a twinge when Zayn pushes at Louis's legs, getting them to lie flat, but that's all secondary to the way Zayn positions himself over Louis and, carefully and slowly, slides onto Louis's cock. Louis gasps and grabs Zayn's hips.

"But...but you just..." Louis manages as Zayn works himself on Louis.

"Want it again," Zayn replies. He doesn't seem to have any problems speaking, but there's still a rich drop to his voice that's almost as intense as Zayn gripping around Louis's cock. Okay, it isn't at all, but. Zayn's voice helps the experience.

Even though Zayn's come already, he still comes before Louis, probably because he slows where he's riding Louis - Louis can see his thighs shake, so it probably isn't entirely a tease - and he grabs his cock, hissing and shutting his eyes as he pulls himself off. Louis wants to thrust up into Zayn and come, but he also wants to watch Zayn, and he doesn't seem to have the ability for both, so he watches as Zayn writhes on top of him and then comes, jizz hitting Louis's chest and chin.

"Fuck," Louis says. He feels like he's seconds from coming, but somehow, that made the words come easier. "Now my turn."

Zayn nods, and when Louis thrusts up into Zayn, Zayn rolls back as best he can to meet him.

Louis doesn't get to come inside Zayn, but it's by accident; after a few seconds of their somewhat decent rhythm, Zayn leans forward to kiss Louis. It's oddly gentle and sweet considering, and that's enough to tip Louis over the edge...but the position also means Louis slides out of Zayn and comes all over his arse.

"Sorry," Louis gasps, pushing sweaty hair out of his face.

"No, you're all right," Zayn replies, sounding all the world like Louis just bumped into him in the store. "That was amazing, love."

"Not regretting it yet?" Louis asks.

Zayn smiles and shakes his head. And then, because he can be a smooth motherfucker even when he's a shagged-out mess, he lifts Louis's left hand to his mouth and kisses the ring.

"Me neither," Louis says, and he grins back.

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