Louis let out a soft, involuntary sound when he twitched awake, smacking his lips a little as he came to in the dark. His eyes felt sleep-swollen and dry, and he squeezed them shut as quickly as they fluttered open, taking a long breath before he reached an arm out to unsuccessfully fumble around on the coffee table for his phone.
“Shit,” he whispered, letting his hand flop back down onto his chest. Shit.
Louis didn’t know what time it was, but he knew it was late — well after midnight, but not closed to dawn. Maybe 2:00 or 3:00, given the complete lack of light behind his eyelids. Everything was quiet, too, so still that he could hear the persistent ticking of the watch on his wrist and the hum of the refrigerator coming from the kitchen.
“Harry,” Louis said softly, jostling his shoulder slightly under Harry’s head. They’d fallen asleep in the living room together again, and Harry’s long body was sandwiched between Louis’s and the back of the couch. He was plastered right up against Louis, really, making Louis sweaty-hot on one side and just a little too cold on the other, since there wasn’t a blanket. “Harry, wake up.”
Harry only moaned in protest in his sleep, pressing even closer, and Louis huffed out a laugh, frowning at that bittersweet rush that followed after.
Louis kind of hated falling asleep on the couch instead of getting up to go to bed, to begin with. He always got this strange sort of guilt when it happened — like whenever he napped for too long on Saturday afternoons — a lingering sense that he’d overindulged himself somehow, was lazy and aimless underneath it all. He’d always trudge around his apartment afterward, full of self-pity and sadness, missing his mother.
That’s why it was even worse when it happened with Harry. So very close, but not close enough. Not the way Louis really wanted. This was the third time this month they’d drifted off watching Criminal Minds, and Louis cursed himself internally as he opened his eyes and shifted to nudge Harry again, trying wake him up so they could both head off to their respective rooms where they could sleep for real. And where Louis could wallow in his pathetic longing and guilt all alone.
“Harry!” he said more sharply, shoving at Harry’s shoulder with his hand now.
“Hmmm?” Harry murmured, face still pushed into the meat of Louis’s bicep, his lips vibrating against Louis’s bare skin.
Louis’s chest ached. Harry was barely illuminated, the blue glow coming off the router box that sat next to the television the only light in the room, but Louis’s heart clenched and then soften at the sight of him anyway. Rounded cheeks and endless eyelashes and sleep matted curls. Beautiful.
Get over it. Just let it go.
“It’s time for bed,” Louis said, barely stopping himself from running a hand through Harry’s hair, “we fell asleep.”
Harry slumped toward him in response, slinging a heavy arm across Louis’s torso and sending a thrill through him in the process. “No more Crimsy Minds?” he asked.
Louis chuckled, helplessly endeared. “No more Crimsy,” he said, “just sleep.”
Harry nodded his head against Louis arm, eyes still shut. He tightened his grip around Louis. “Want —“ he yawned, big and slow like a lion, his tongue lolling, “want to sleep with you…”
Louis let out another involuntary noise, this one pained and alarmingly high-pitched. He flushed at his reaction, sitting up quickly and shifting away to hide his embarrassment. Shifting away until suddenly he’d cast Harry completely off and was on his feet. “Um.”
Harry was squinting up at him, blinking rapidly in confusion.
Louis could usually handle this. Well, outwardly anyway. But at that moment it felt like too much. Like he just couldn’t anymore. Not tonight. As though his heart would break in half if he and Harry slept side by side in bed, and he had to lie there missing Harry even though he was mere inches away.
He watched Harry fully wake up, peering at Louis as his confusion melted into hurt and worry. “What’s wrong?” Harry croaked, moving to sit up so that his ridiculous feet were planted on the floor on either side of Louis’s, his fingers reaching out for the hem of Louis’s t-shirt.
“Nothing,” Louis lied, shying away from the touch slightly, “I’m just. You know. Tired.” He gave a fake laugh. “It’s late, so. I’m tired.”
“Tired,” Harry repeated slowly, dropping his head, “Oh. okay…”
Harry sat for a few seconds, nodding, seemingly to himself, and there was something about the downturned twist to his mouth that tugged at Louis, cracked him open.
When Harry lifted his head again Louis almost choked, stunned at the emotion he saw mirrored back at him. “Har — “ he tried, swallowing hard over the lump in his throat. He was absolutely lit up with hope, nerves misfiring all over the place. “Harry.”
Harry made a small noise of his own and grabbed Louis’s left hand with both of his, drawing it to his chest. “I want — “ Harry’s lips curled into a heart-stopping and sheepish half-smile as he blinked up at Louis in the dark. “Let’s go to bed.”