Pairing: One Direction/OFC, with strong OT5 undertones (particular focus on Harry/Louis and Zayn/Liam)
Warnings: Group sex and a bit of open voyeurism/exhibitionism
Summary: This girl has brought to light something none of them has ever really questioned before, something about their claustrophobic closeness that has always made people curious for reasons they never understood. Maybe they just assumed it was normal, in their own private, confusing little five-person world, but—maybe it's not. (~17,700 words I wish I were kidding)
A/N: Wtf, I don't know. Essentially this is just the whole band having sex with the same girl, for this prompt, but obviously I couldn't avoid slipping in some (read: a lot of) homoeroticism. Also this is set next year not that that particularly matters to anybody, and the title is from 'Flux' by Bloc Party. Endless thanks to astreindre and blackwayfarers.
People probably wouldn't believe it, but sometimes it's actually a lot of effort for them, finding a girl to hook up with. Everyone assumes it's easy, assumes the band has got girls throwing themselves at them all the time, and all right, they do, but there's a big difference between flailing adoration and actually getting it to go somewhere. Because they can't just pick girls at random, sleep with whoever. They've got a reputation to uphold and probably a lot of people already figure they do indulge in the groupies but it's not something they want leaked to the press. They need to find girls they can actually trust and it's just become harder and harder over the years. They're pretty good now at knowing which girls to avoid, the ones who scream a little too loud and faint and get hysterical—and it's not like they have anything against those girls, just get worried for their safety mostly, but they're not right for this. They're the kind who will Tweet about it the next morning, or, god forbid, while it's actually happening. They have to choose the girls who are more chill, usually the ones who are a little older and have learnt how to contain themselves.
And it's difficult. It really is. Sometimes it feels like they can't trust strangers anymore at all, can no longer tell who's being genuine with them. So for the most part they don't even really attempt it, satisfied just hanging out together after shows, and dealing with the sexual frustration by wanking later, alone in their beds or showers and—it kinda of sucks, sure, but it's a small price to pay for how awesome their lives are now in practically every other respect. It's only occasionally that one of them will get fed up and find somebody, make sure the others think she seems reliable and then give into the urge.
But nothing about the situation is satisfactory, really. Most guys their age would think it was great, probably, and it's always talked about as this brilliant thing like they can just pick any girl they want and not have to think about the consequences. But it's just not like that, and to be honest they're not sure they'd even like it if it were. It can feel meaningless, sometimes, gross and empty the next morning, waking up to this girl who's essentially a stranger. They can feel close in the moment, but the mornings are often different. They feel miles apart, then, like they're from different worlds, and sometimes the physical satisfaction and relief can't override that
It seems to get harder with every week that passes, as they rise to even headier heights of fame and get recognised everywhere they go and they're under so much scrutiny that they have to be so, so careful, and it's—it's frustrating. They're so busy and it can get so stressful and they all need sex—to varying degrees, but they all do. When they go without for too long they start bickering more over the most insignificant things, making mountains out of molehills and that's the worst part, beginning to fall out with each other, because that relationship needs to go smoothly for any of this to work but it seems like it's the first thing to suffer when they're going through a dry spell. It's probably because they're around each other very nearly constantly; it's just natural to take out their frustration on one another even if they absolutely don't want or mean to.
It's a fortnight into the Australasian leg of the tour when it happens, and that's probably not even that long but it is for them, when everything is intensified, when they get so much done in a day that every day feels like a week of its own. Danielle's wrapped up with work and hasn't been able to visit at all—Liam hasn't seen her for about a month now, and he's fully intending to wait it out but a part of him worries he won't be able to, thinks his willpower is going to crack if things keep going at the rate they're going. They've talked about this countless times and she understands, gets that she can't always be there and that he's in a high-stress environment and sometimes just needs someone to help him unwind and it's not ever, ever going to replace her. But he doesn't like doing it, it still feels like cheating, and right now he's so far away from her and he hates it.
There's a show practically every night and barely a moment of free time during the day, and he loves it while it's all happening but back in his hotel room, pacing around and buzzing with energy, that's the worst. It's worse for him than the others, because they all like to go down to the hotel bar or out to a club to keep the night going and party, use up the leftover excitement from the gigs. But Liam doesn't like that, doesn't like the noise and the crowds and being the only sober person there, but he doesn't like hanging around alone in his room and bouncing off the walls, either, and it's getting to him. They're in Adelaide tonight and it's way too hot; Liam is lying on his bed in just his boxers, channel-flicking at ridiculous speed trying to find something on TV that he can actually pay attention to. The show tonight was a particularly good one and that just makes this harder; he feels so antsy, wishing it hadn't ended, because being up onstage is such a rush and it's never fun coming down from it.
The others are all down the street at a nearby club, having some drinks and trying to shake off the excitement with celebration. They're in a private area of the place but they're not being too strict with it, too hyped up to be that bothered by the occasional fan popping through to get a photo or an autograph or say hi. And they can order drinks through, but it's Harry's turn to buy them tonight and he keeps forgetting about that fact and wandering off to the bar in the main area instead, leaving their bodyguard to chase after him and try to hold off the inevitable swarm of fans that follow.
The third time this happens, he's not alone when he returns. There's a girl trailing after him and at first Louis thinks she must just be a stray fan pushing her luck but then he sees the way Harry's glancing back at her, checking to see that she's still with him, that she's not getting lost in the crowd. And he can see—even from their booth several feet away—that look in Harry's eyes, knows what it means. Harry doesn't pick girls up anywhere near as much as everybody thinks, but when he does he's never terribly careful about it so Louis is instantly concerned. Harry thinks he's so good at reading people but really he's just so naive, he wants to see the good in everybody and he'll fall for a girl instantly if she just bats her eyelashes at him. He claims he can tell, that there's just something about her that means she's trustworthy, but more than once the others have had to intervene when they've seen the girl in question sneaking photos of him on her phone or texting just a little too much to seem innocent. This girl is intriguing, though, because she actually seems pretty calm about the fact that she's following Harry into a private area of the club and she hasn't got a camera dangling from her hand or a photo for them to sign or anything.
Louis nudges Zayn, who's gazing off in the other direction. "Who's that?" Zayn says a little sharply when he spots the girl, approaching them beside Harry now, smiling a little sheepishly and giving them a goofy wave.
Louis returns the wave and laughs. "I don't know," he says. "Someone Hazza's taken a shine to, apparently."
"Well, I can see why."
"She's fit, look," Zayn says, and Harry and the girl are way too close by now for them to be having this conversation and remaining subtle, but Louis looks again anyway and he can see what Zayn means—she's got red hair (possibly dyed, he can't tell under the club's lights) and she's curvy (Harry always goes for the curvy ones) and her face is soft, sweet, pretty. Louis can tell that, it just—it sometimes takes him a second look to notice it.
"Hello, gentlemen," says Harry, reaching the table. He's got three drinks in his hands, clutched together, and he puts them down carefully, sliding one each across to Louis, Zayn, and Niall. The girl is holding one in each hand and she hands one to Harry, flashing him a smile. "This is Max; mind if she joins us?" Harry asks casually, taking his drink and sipping from it.
"No problem," says Zayn a little eagerly, shifting aside to make space for her—he and Niall are sitting on one side of the booth and Louis on the other.
But Harry gestures instead next to Louis, and Max smiles at Louis before slipping in next to him. Harry squeezes in on her other side, pushing her closer to Louis and—she's warm and soft against him and he's a little hazy with drink and, it feels really good. Better than it should, maybe, for a simple press of body to body. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and doesn't say anything and for a moment it's awkward and Louis feels his heart sink—he doesn't like the shy fans, it's actually so much easier when they're loud and enthusiastic because then he doesn't have to make all the effort.
But then Max elbows him gently and says, "Cosy, huh?" with a sort of dazzling smile, and Louis warms to her instantly.
He elbows her right back, says, "Don't be cheeky, we've only just met," and she laughs and shrugs, taking a swig of her drink, and all right, Louis is charmed.
He usually likes the girls Harry does, anyway—not usually in that way, but he just gets on with them, finds they often have a lot in common. So if Harry is going to get off with Max tonight he doesn't really mind that it'll mean he has to give up his room and share with one of the others for the night so Harry has some privacy. Sometimes that feels a little weird, almost like the girl is taking his place, but if he's spent the night chatting to her it's not so bad.
The night goes on and the five of them chat, sort of getting to know each other but mostly talking about mindless crap—it's always awkward at first, the talking part, because these girls usually know at least the main facts of the boys' lives even if they're not the kind of fans that know everything, and it can start to feel like an interrogation if they're the only ones asking the questions. They pick up on a few things though, like the fact that she's twenty-two and studying for a sociology degree at a local university, and she has several brothers and also several cats. (This last prompts a conversation between her and Harry about Funny Things That Cats Do, which lasts—Louis times it—a whole seven minutes and forty seconds.)
After a while, Niall begins to recognise a strange vibe in the air that's unfamiliar. Usually, by this point, Harry would be making his excuses and whisking the girl away while they all either nodded and said polite goodbyes or cheekily slurred at them not to do anything they wouldn't do (depending on the night's alcohol intake) but it sort of seems like...like Harry doesn't have any plans to go anywhere. Which is fine; they're all getting on really well and Niall's enjoying the chance to chat to someone new because that's always fun, but—he's sure he didn't misread this situation, Harry's still giving this girl the eye like he's really into her and Niall doesn't really get why he's not taking her up to his room yet, why he seems happy hanging around down here with them instead. And that's about when Niall realises that they're all giving Max the eye, they're all into her—Zayn keeps talking over Harry and trying to impress her and she and Louis are engaging in casual mockery like they've known each other for months, and Niall quickly becomes aware that he's got his head resting in his hands and he's been gazing at Max's face for at least the past ten minutes without even saying anything, just admiring the shape of her lips and her pretty brown eyes.
So. This is new. And he's not entirely sure how they're going to play it.
Harry has dibs. Zayn knows that. But man, it's not fair, because it's really rare for Zayn to connect with a fan like this in person so fast. He's the most careful of all of them, even though he's probably the one who hooks up the most. He doesn't like to pick the girls out from the crowds, prefers to chat with them through direct messages on Twitter to get a better feel for their personalities and be sure that he really can trust them. And it's weird, because he'll usually have to chat to girls for a while before he feels comfortable with them, but with Max he does already, and—he just really, really likes her. She's really sweet but she's got this edge to her and he likes that; she's not afraid to tell Louis he's acting like a fool and even though she obviously really likes all of them, she's not soppy with it, gazing at them over her drink like this is the best thing that's ever happened to her or anything like that. She's just kind of going with the flow, and she hasn't taken out her phone once since she sat down, and—this is just rare.
And fuck, it's been ages since Zayn's had sex, and most of the time he can get kind of zen about it, put himself into a mindset where he doesn't really care, but right now, talking to Max, he—he really wants it. And there's no way he's going to find another Max in this club tonight, or anyone even close to her if he's being realistic, so this just kind of really sucks and he can't help but glower at Harry when he sees the way the two of them are flirting casually with each other, him offering her a sip of his drink and her ruffling his hair when she points out how little alcohol is in it, teasingly calling him a lightweight. Zayn kinda feels like a whiny kid not getting what he wants but this girl seems special and why does Harry have to be the one who gets her? He feels bad for thinking of her like that, like she's some kind of prize or something, because actually it's not even just about the sex, he just likes her and wants to keep chatting to her all night. But he feels like that's gone on too long already, that any second now they're gonna be getting up and slipping off to Harry's room.
There's a lull in the conversation and Harry drains his glass, checks around the club and sees that it's starting to empty out. He told their bodyguard for the night to get their room more closed-off and not let anymore fans in, and then said he could go home if he liked, that they could handle it from here. He glances sidelong at Max and then leans in, taking a deep breath.
"Um. You're into me, right?" he murmurs.
She laughs, and finishes off her own drink, stirring the ice with her straw so that it clinks against the glass. "Somebody's presumptuous," she says, a little too loudly.
"Somebody swallowed a dictionary," Louis drawls from her other side, raising a wicked eyebrow.
She gives him a look and says, "Somebody had their cornflakes pissed in this morning," and then turns right back to Harry, and Harry is momentarily distracted from what she whispers to him by the thrill that she actually managed to outwit Louis like that—he can't even think of a comeback, just makes a face at her and leans across to Zayn and Niall to start chatting to them like he's pretending he's not bothered.
"Sorry," Harry says, dragging his eyes away from Louis, "what did you say?"
"I said yeah, I am," she says, "but can I tell you something?" She's biting her lip and it's all soft and pink and Harry really, really wants to kiss her.
"Anything," he says, smiling brightly at her, gone already.
"I kinda like your friends, too."
She's saying it like a confession, but there's a little bit of mischief in there too, or at least Harry thinks there is, doesn't think he's just hearing what he wants to hear, but he can't be sure. Maybe she's just apologetic that he's not the only one she's paying attention to, but it's not like Harry didn't notice that, not like that thought wasn't already sitting in the back of his brain and slowly growing into something.
"Thought so," Harry tells her. "Greedy."
She laughs and her eyes are bright. "Suppose I can make do with just you, though," she says, sighing in mock-disappointment. "If I have to. Might be a hardship but someone's gotta do it, right? Can't have all five."
The retort is on the tip of his tongue, agreement and the offer to take her up to his room now, but—instead he lapses into silence for a little too long and then their eyes meet and oh, shit.
"Sorry, what's happening here?" says Louis after a long moment and that's when Harry realises that they've all gone silent, not just him and Max, the others have picked up on the sudden tension too. "I feel like something monumental just happened, care to share with the rest of the class?"
Harry snorts, trying to call his bluff. "I wouldn't say monumental," he replies. "Though that depends on your view of a girl being with more than one guy at the same time."
Niall is casually drumming his fingers on the table and not actually listening properly but at this he freezes. Louis frowns, not happy with the way Harry has flipped this, made it seem like he's being so cool about this when Louis knows he's not, not completely anyway. He's pretty sure he saw the exact moment when this idea came into Harry's head and ever since then Harry's been fidgety with nerves as he tried to figure out how to approach it. Louis can read him like a book.
"Personally," Harry goes on, and Louis can hear the way his voice wavers a little even if no one else can, "I think it's a little unconventional but there's nothing strictly wrong with it. Society's always putting limits on this kind of thing but there's no real reason for it in my opinion."
There's another pause and then Max is cracking up, elbowing Harry. "I can't believe you, oh my god," she laughs, her eyes sparkling.
"Nah, why not, though?" Louis speaks up, trying to gain the control of this situation. "We're all adults here. If we're all willing, I say let's go for it. You only live once."
Max grins at him. "Well, that is my motto," she says.
Louis's instinct is to go mine too! and grin at her the way Harry has been all night, but instead he simply says, "Copycat," and then nudges her gently with his hip. "You up for it then, love?"
She hesitates, but only for about a second. "Yeah," she says then, decisively. "All right, yeah. Wow."
Niall and Zayn's opinions on the matter come in the form of them immediately standing up, and it's like a cue—Louis, Max, and Harry all follow, and they slide out of the booth. The club is almost empty now and the people that are left stay back, watching from the corners as the boys file out with Max in the middle. Louis wonders what they're thinking. He knows they can't possibly know what's being planned here, but even so, feeling all the eyes on him makes him feel a little flushed and kind of dirty.
There are more fans on the street and a few paparazzi too, waiting outside, but Louis doesn't feel too nervous about that. They can put out a story that Max is just an old friend who met up with them for a drink after the show, if these pictures end up in the press. It really doesn't seem that big of a deal, but then he glances to his right and sees that Max has gone a little pale, wide-eyed.
"Hey," he mutters to her. "You all right, babe?"
"Yeah, just—didn't expect that," she says, and the boys close in around her, Harry and Louis walking in front and Zayn and Niall behind so that she's guarded, mostly hidden from the cameras. The fans outside are a little more hysterical than the ones inside, and Louis thinks they must have been kept out deliberately—they immediately start whispering to one another and then calling things out and Louis strides confidently ahead, Harry in step with him and the others following behind quickly, trying to ignore the shouts and camera flashes.
There are basically clusters of people all the way down the road until they reach the hotel, but luckily it's not far and as soon as they're inside they all breathe a sigh of relief, heading towards the lift. Once they're inside it seems really quiet and bright and real, and Niall is impressed that Max isn't freaking out—not like he expects girls to have that reaction to being in a lift with them, but the fact that they're all heading up to a hotel room makes the situation a little bit different. He's glad she's so chill though, because Niall can get them all into trouble sometimes by not really caring quite as much if a girl gossips to a couple of her mates the next day. No one blames him, really, because it's hard to tell if that's where it'll stop or if those mates are gonna gossip to their mates and it'll spread. But it seems like they don't have to worry about that with Max, anyway.
"You nervous?" Zayn asks her, flashing her a grin.
"Are you?" she shoots back, and the boys laugh, and—okay, Niall can see why they all like her. She's so laidback about this it's kind of awesome, and he loves that. She's witty and can hold a good conversation just like Harry likes, and she's got just the right amount of mischief for Louis to be captivated—he doesn't seem like he's that sexually interested if Niall's honest, but it seems like he secretly kinda wants Max to be his partner in crime or something. And there's a bit of mystery to her too and he thinks Zayn must like that—the way she's unpredictable, not dealing with this in the way one might expect. Not for the first time tonight, Niall thinks of Liam all alone upstairs and wonders if Liam would like her too, and it's not like he thinks they should barge in there and ask his opinion but it does feel odd that he's not here for this.
They reach their floor and file out and it's deserted, thankfully. Harry leads them all down the corridor and Zayn figures they're probably heading to his and Louis's room which is right at the end—but then Harry stops suddenly, several doors away, and they all come to a sudden halt behind him. They're outside Liam's room.
"Uh, Haz," says Zayn uncertainly. "Forgot which one is yours?"
"No, just," says Harry with a shrug, leaning up against the wall just beside Liam's door. "Doesn't feel right to do this without him, does it?"
Zayn sees Max's eyes widen for a second and then she slumps against the wall too, running her fingers back through her hair and laughing shakily like she can't quite believe this is happening—and it's nice to see that come through, because honestly it would be kind of crazy if she were completely blasé about this.
"Are you all right with that?" Niall asks her.
She grins at him but she looks a little dazed. "Sure, it's fine. Liam's actually my favourite, I've got no interest in you four losers," she quips.
"Our poor delicate egos," laments Louis, and then, deciding they've reached a conclusion here, steps forward and raps jauntily on the door. For a long moment there's nothing, and Louis knocks again. "Probably having a wank, the poor sod. Give him a minute."
But then they hear shuffling from inside and the door opens, and Liam is standing there in his boxers with his hair all ruffled.
"Hello," he says, and then spots Max. "Oh, hello," he says again, and then, "wait, what?"
The first thing he thinks is that they're actually asking his approval of a girl one of them wants to hook up with, which is ridiculous, because—all right, they do do that, but they usually try to be subtle about it. They've never actually marched a girl up to one of the others before and outright asked for his opinion of whether she seems trustworthy or not, and—how is he supposed to judge that just from looking at her? She does look quite nice, though. She's not really Liam's type, but he likes the shape of her body, the swell of her hips in that tight turquoise dress and—god, it's really been too long, he never usually thinks this way about a girl he's literally just met. He blushes.
"Hi, I'm Max," says the girl, reaching out to shake his hand, and Liam is kind of charmed by that. No one really does the whole handshake thing anymore and hers is firm and sure, though she looks a little flustered, her cheeks pink.
"Liam Payne," he says with a smile. "Um—not that it's not lovely to meet you, but," he looks to the others now, "what's going on here? It's two in the morning, isn't it?"
"Apparently your friends are bringing you a gift," Max says, throwing up her hands in a sort of what can you do? way.
"Hey," says Harry, "don't say it like that. Sounds like we're objectifying you."
"Maybe some girls don't mind being objectified in the right circumstances," Max replies, nudging Harry with her hip.
"Hang on," Liam squeaks. "What, sorry?"
"Can we not have this conversation in the hallway?" Louis says, and then barges past Liam into the room, and the others all shuffle after him.
Liam stands there for a moment staring out into the corridor and then sighs and shuts the door. "Can we just—I mean, what's happening here? Is it what I think is happening? I just want to check."
"What do you think is happening?" Louis shoots back, quick, with a smirk, and Liam flounders for a moment.
"Um, all of you, and me," Max cuts in helpfully, dropping her purse on the floor like it's decided, she's staying. "And sex. I'm pretty sure sex is a part of the deal. If I've been brought up here under false pretences and we're just going to play Wii Tennis or something I'm not going to be pleased."
Liam can't help but laugh at that, and it comes out a little high-pitched because he's slightly caught off-guard by her bluntness. Not put off by it, exactly, but. Surprised. Then again, she's talking pretty fast like maybe she's just nervous.
"Only if you're all right with it," Zayn adds, looking at Liam. "I mean we can leave you to get back to your—" he glances at the TV and does a doubletake. "Are you watching Arthur?"
"No," says Liam quickly, snatching the remote from the bed and switching off the cartoon.
Louis barks with laughter but Max is smiling at Liam in a way that makes his stomach feel like it's flipping over. He's really—he's not going to say no to this, how can he? It's one thing to resist going out to bars or whatever but if the others are literally going to bring a girl up to his room—and a gorgeous, charming, funny girl at that—he's not sure what he's supposed to do. He thinks of Danielle, and oddly enough instead of the instant guilt he expects to feel, he finds himself wishing Danielle was here to meet Max because he has the feeling they'd get on quite well.
He clears his throat, and everybody looks at him expectantly. "Are you sure that this is—that this is an okay thing for us to do?" he asks. "I mean I know we've never been good with the whole boundaries thing but this is—big, even for us, right?"
"Yeah, but," says Harry, shrugging it off. "It's us, so I'm sure we'll manage. I don't think we're gonna be scarred for life or anything."
"Thanks, Harry. I hope not," chuckles Max.
Her accent is really cute, Liam decides, and gets distracted thinking about that for a moment and then realises they're all still looking at him, like they're waiting for his permission here or something. "Well, okay," he says in a small voice.
"Wow, chill out with the enthusiasm there, Liam," Louis snarks, and Liam blushes again, glancing at Max.
"I didn't mean—"
"It's all right," she says, and she gives him that smile again that's starting to make him feel sort of melty inside.
"So that's a yes, right?" Niall says, and Liam nods at him, still feeling very slightly hysterical but trying to remain calm for everybody else's sake. "Thank god, I really hoped we weren't gonna do this without you, mate."
"Niall, you sap," says Louis, but he pulls Liam close and then—suddenly there's a group hug happening and it's perhaps a bit too much of a passionate one considering they're not alone. Over the top of Harry's head Louis can see Max watching them with a mixture of bemusement and fondness on her face.
"All right," she says, and Louis can tell she feels like someone is going to kick this whole thing off and he admires that, even if he kind of wanted to be the one to do it. "So is somebody going to kiss me, or are you all just gonna kiss each other? I mean, not that I'd complain about that, but—" she cuts herself off, suddenly looking very embarrassed, blushing, and that's actually quite fetching on her even though it probably ought to just clash with her hair. "Jesus, sorry," she mutters, "have a filter, Max."
"Are you drunk?" Liam asks suddenly, as the hug begins to break apart.
Max laughs. "Oh, great! Do I sound like I'm off my face?"
"No, sorry," Liam says, and now the two of them are as flustered as each other and Louis is finding it hilarious. "I just—wanted to check, you know—"
"We're fine, Liam, we only had a few drinks," Zayn assures him.
And then what happens next happens very quickly. "Max, c'mere," Harry says softly. Max goes to him, kind of throws herself at him like she doesn't want to dance around this thing anymore and the force of it knocks Harry back into Louis, but—he doesn't step back, just watches as the two of them kiss, Harry's hand coming up to cup her cheek as their lips press together and then open. Louis is in a slightly awkward position here because he's about an inch away from just hooking his chin over Harry's shoulder, and it's all sort of—well, he knew this was going to be weird, but he likes weird things, kind of thrives in awkward situations if he's honest. This, though...this is something else.
Mostly because he's flustered, he hears himself suddenly saying, "All right, feeling a little left out here," and then Harry's chuckling low in his throat and turning around to look at him, eyebrows raised. Max laughs softly and takes Louis by the hips, kissing him, and, it's actually kind of nice. Even though she's pretty brash she lets him take the lead. She doesn't taste like lipgloss or smell too strongly of perfume, which he likes—actually, she tastes and smells strangely familiar and it takes Louis a second to realise, to make the connection that fuck, it's Harry. And he doesn't know what it means that he recognises that, and so quickly, and he shudders, pulling away because it's too much somehow, but she makes a little noise and pulls him back in for more and he can't resist, tongue sweeping into her mouth for more of that familiarity. It's scary and reassuring, both at once.
Niall is kind of hovering beside Louis, very aware of how close together they all are and feeling a bit stupid for it because, well, they're going to get even closer than this. But it's just really strange to watch Louis kissing someone, especially a girl and especially so close-up, and yet it's also kind of arousing because Max looks like a really good kisser and he wants to be next. Zayn is, though, unfortunately, and Niall hopes she's not like, going in order of favourites or something. What if he's last? He watches her and Zayn kissing, and then to his relief she's pulling him in next, and, okay, she is really good, but for some reason Niall just keeps thinking about the fact that her lips have literally just been on three of his best friends' and like, maybe their saliva is still in her mouth or something and the problem with this is that it's really not weirding him out and he thinks it should be, but—what the hell, they share everything else.
When Max goes to kiss Liam, she hesitates, and Zayn watches them intently, curious. "You...you have a girlfriend, right?" she asks him quietly, serious. "I just don't wanna interfere with that."
"It's okay," Liam tells her, "we've got—you know, like. An arrangement."
"Hmm," she says uncertainly, like maybe she's been told that before and it didn't turn out too well.
"No, they really do," Zayn speaks up, because like—Liam really needs this. He knows how badly Liam needs this. Liam hooks up the least of all of them. Barely at all, actually, because he loves Danielle with all of his heart and feels so rotten about being with anyone besides her, even though it's not cheating because he always tells her and she understands. But even though she's so awesome about it, reassuring him afterwards and occasionally telling him she spent the night with somebody too, he still feels awful and only does it when he gets really desperate, climbing the walls because of all the tension, irritable and getting stupidly angry at the smallest things like stubbing his toe. And he's been like that for days now, not just getting on their nerves with it but making them sad for him, too.
"Honestly, don't worry about it," Zayn goes on to Max, and before he has a chance to stop himself he's adding, "just kiss him, please," and okay, well, that sounded weird.
It's all the encouragement Max needs, though. Liam shoots Zayn a surprised little look but then Max is throwing her arms over his shoulders, and their kiss is somehow more heated than any of the others and Zayn wonders why, wonders if she wasn't kidding about Liam being her favourite or if he's just imagining things. He doesn't really have much of a chance to dwell on it though because then he sees Max's hand snaking between Liam's legs, cupping his crotch through his thin, baggy boxers and he can see the way Liam goes tense, knows he must be aware of them all watching.
"I don't wanna show favouritism here," Max says, glancing over at the others, and her voice has gone quieter, breathy, "this is kinda difficult."
"If you're gonna show favouritism you could at least show it towards me," Harry pouts. He's kidding, but he leans in close to Liam, getting in their space.
"Easier access. Liam's more naked than you are," Max says softly.
"That's the first time that has ever happened, I promise you," Harry tells her, and god, he's so smitten, she's so lovely. "Liam, are you hard?" he asks, because he can't see with Max pressed so close to him like that.
Liam almost chokes on a breath. "Harry, shit."
Harry's not entirely sure how they're going to manage this if Liam gets that embarrassed by that question, but hopefully they can ease him into things. "Just asking," he says, resting his head on Liam's shoulder, and his skin is really, really warm, like fever-hot. Liam sort of squirms away from the touch at first but then Harry looks down and sees how Max is stroking at him, and Liam ends up moving in closer to both of them.
"Yeah," Liam breathes out shakily. "Yeah, um. Really."
Harry hums curiously, watching. This is starting to feel a bit like a threesome, so he says, "Lou, c'mere."
Louis comes over immediately, circling round so he's on Liam's other side, and Liam sort of groans then like he knows already that this isn't going to go well for him. Zayn and Niall hang back, just watching, but Louis rests his arm on Liam's shoulder in an inappropriately casual way.
"Huh, you weren't kidding about the 'really' part," he says, "could poke someone's eye out with that thing, Liam."
Which really isn't fair at all, because Louis can't even see properly, Max's hand is in the way and Louis is clearly just trying to embarrass Liam here—but Liam is too distracted to retaliate, because god, Max stroking him like that feels really, really good. Feels like so long since anyone's touched him there and it's such a relief and there's heat curling in the pit of his belly and he doesn't even care that Harry and Louis are crowding round him and Niall and Zayn are blatantly watching too.
"Getting hot," says Niall and at first Liam isn't sure how he's supposed to take that and his heart kind of leaps into his throat but then he realises Niall is undressing and—no, actually, he can't quite deal with that either.
They've all seen each other naked before, countless times, but when Louis looks up and sees Niall pulling off his shirt, sees Harry take a step back to do the same right away—it feels different. It's charged with something, because this isn't just casual nakedness, this is stripping off for a reason, and that's. That's really fucking different. But Niall and Harry don't seem bothered, shucking their clothes so quickly that Louis doesn't really have a chance to think about it too much, he just knows he has to do the same because he's not going to look like the prude here. He steps back from Liam to pull his top over his head, and he kicks off his shoes and shimmies out of his trousers and he's planning to maybe leave his boxers on for a bit but then he sees that Harry is whipping his off and fuck, okay, fine.
Zayn is chuckling to himself like he can't quite believe they're doing this, as he gets his kit off too, and Max is tugging gently at the waistband of Liam's pants and when he nods shakily at her she drags them down all the way and Louis tries really hard not to watch but he's fixated. Max pulls the elastic carefully down over Liam's erection, revealing it slowly and oh, okay, apparently Liam is a hell of a lot bigger when he's hard, which isn't information that Louis ever thought he would know. It feels a lot different standing so close to Liam now, he feels sort of vulnerable, even though they're both naked, and Liam's the one who's got a stiffy. He just kind of stands there awkwardly like they all are—except for Harry who's gone back to resting on Liam's shoulder like it's no big deal—and watches as Max takes Liam into her hand. Her hand looks really small around him, her nails painted with sparkly purple polish that's a little chipped and her fingers pretty deft and quick, making Liam's abs tense up as she works him over, leaning back in to kiss him, soft.
Louis desperately tries to think of something to say, something jokey and dumb because he's really aware of how quiet everything is, but it's all just—narrowed down to nothing but Liam getting a handjob in front of them and he feels dazed by it. He's hard too, before he even realises it, but a quick glance tells him the others are getting there as well and that makes him feel better. He just keeps staring at Liam, staring at Max's fingers curled around him, unable to stop himself, until suddenly Max chuckles, her voice shaky as she says "I'm leaving everyone else out, sorry, this is—I don't know how this is supposed to work—"
And then fuck, suddenly her hand is around Louis, and Louis actually jolts a little with surprise, at being changed so abruptly from a spectator into a participant. Then he jolts again, because he looks across and sees that she's taken Harry in her other hand, and something about that knocks him off his feet a little. Max is pretty casual about it, stroking them both in an easy rhythm and gently leaning in against Liam's chest, pressing her lips to his skin while he holds her in close at the small of her back, rocking his hips gently so his cock moves against her stomach, rucking up her dress. But Louis—Louis can't concentrate on anything but the fact that he and Harry are getting jerked off at the same time right now. He doesn't want to watch because that feels stranger than watching Liam, even though he has actually seen Harry's cock hard before—Harry walks around naked so much that it was bound to happen, he's seen many a morning erection and he walked in on him wanking a couple of times back when they first started living together but this, this. It's actually too much and he feels pathetic for being the first one to freak out but he can't help it.
"Maybe one at a time, babe," he hears himself saying and his voice sounds way more tight and tense than he means for it to.
"Well, sorry for not being ambidextrous," Max teases, but it's gentle and she does let go of him.
"Speak for yourself, mate, can we get in on this?" comes Zayn's voice, and Max laughs, pushing her hair back from her eyes and letting go of Harry, too, patting him gently when he makes a little regretful sound at the loss of friction.
She turns away from them and Niall watches as she takes the couple of steps necessary to reach him and Zayn, leans in and kisses them both a second time before taking each one into her hands. Niall sighs with relief, bucking his hips gently to push through her curled fist and knocks gently against Zayn, the two of them swaying a little into each other. For a second Niall sees the other three hesitating, standing there awkwardly watching—which is fine, because that's what he and Zayn were having to do a moment ago, one girl amongst five is bound to lead to that sort of thing—but then Liam steps forward, presses himself against Max and makes her gasp a little against Zayn's chest. Liam is pulling up her dress, Niall thinks, which is pretty bold of him.
"Max, um, can I—" Liam murmurs then and Niall doesn't think he's ever heard his voice sound like that before, thick somehow, heavy. But then he remembers that one time he dropped by Liam's hotel room unexpectedly and he heard voices coming from inside and he thought maybe Liam was doing a twitcam, and then when Liam let him in he was flustered and pink-cheeked and his laptop was shut and his voice sounded a lot like it does now. At the time Niall assumed that it had something to do with Danielle and Skype and probably masturbating and he's pleased to discover that he was right, because this is clearly Liam's Sex Voice.
"Yeah, please," Max breathes, pushing back against him and opening her legs a little, letting Liam slip his hand into her knickers from behind and cup her pussy.
Zayn tries not to think about this, tries not to watch Liam leaning in and dipping his head to kiss Max's neck while he strokes at her, makes her breathing go stuttery and the rhythm of her hand around Zayn's cock change just a bit. He looks across to Harry and Louis instead, grinning when he sees them just standing there like idiots. Harry meets his eyes and makes a face, and Zayn tries to laugh but it comes out sort of choked. They're all so fucking close to each other, he can feel Liam's hot breath, smell him, and Niall is still bumping into his side, apparently unable to keep steady on his feet while he's being wanked off.
Harry steps forward decisively, joining the strange huddle the four of them seem to have created, nudging Liam gently aside and—it's hard to tell at first but Zayn is pretty sure he's getting his hand into Max's knickers as well.
"Haz," Liam hisses, and Zayn tries really hard not to think about Harry's hand over Liam's, fingers pushing past Liam's so he can touch Max's skin, feel how wet she is. Max moans, but then Liam is making a slightly cross little face and withdrawing his hand, bringing it up to cup at Max's breasts through her dress instead, finding her nipples and gently rubbing at them with his fingertips.
It's very distracting, all of it, but Zayn's still aware that Louis is just standing there—he's leaning back against the wall now with his arms crossed like he's trying to look nonchalant about it, smirking, and he doesn't look like he particularly minds watching but it definitely looks like he doesn't feel the urge to join in at all. Liam turns, sensing his absence too.
"Hey, Lou," he says quietly, "if you go into the bathroom, in the red bag next to the blue one I've got—"
"Condoms," Louis finishes for him, nodding.
Liam narrows his eyes at him. "How do you know that?"
"Go through your stuff all the time," Louis shrugs, straightening up and heading into the bathroom, clearly glad to have something to do.
"Emergency condoms, aren't they, Li?" Harry says, voice breathy and mocking. "For all those emergencies when you just have to fuck someone."
"For all those emergencies when one of you lot just have to fuck someone and you've forgotten to bring your own," Liam corrects him.
Max is laughing, muttering something about how actually that's pretty damn adorable and they shouldn't tease so much, and Zayn appreciates that but he can't find the words to say anything, not with her fingers still steadily gliding over the length of his cock like that and Niall and Harry and Liam so close and so naked and so hard. They can hear Louis clattering about in the bathroom for a moment and then he reappears, a tattered old box in his hand.
"There's only four," he announces, shaking the box, and he says it sort of overly casually. "Not a problem though, I don't mind sitting this out." He tilts his chin at Max. "No offence, darling. I'm sure your pussy's a fucking wonderland."
He winks at her—god, Louis—and Max blushes, grins, shakes her head, and then lets go of Zayn's cock in order to flip Louis off, all in quick succession. But there's something in her eyes for a split second that Zayn thinks he catches, something like understanding or sympathy and—surely she can't possibly get this, not so soon? She can't possibly know, how hard this whole thing is for Louis, so much harder than it is for the rest of them. The truth is, he's not even really that keen on girls. He's got Eleanor, but that was a management decision because they felt the speculation about his sexuality was getting out of control and he wasn't able to shrug it off without having a steady girlfriend to get photographed with sometimes. It's not that he doesn't like girls at all, he's had a couple of real girlfriends and he's got crushes on female celebrities like the rest of them, can definitely appreciate an attractive fan, but—he's much, much more into guys. And that's a problem, because there's not a lot he can do about it. They barely have any male fans in the first place, and even though they all know that the ones they do have are probably interested for the same reason the girls are—attraction—they're much shyer about it, and Louis can't exactly just waltz up to one and proposition him. He's terrified of the truth coming out, of course, so it's about a million times riskier—the scandal of the others' hook-ups being discovered would pale in comparison to something like that.
He got lucky once—just once, in all the time they've been famous—with a guy a little older than them standing in the front row and singing along to all the songs, making eye contact with Louis regularly, and Louis got a little drunk after the show and bumped into him at the bar and when the guy hit on him he just threw caution to the wind and went with it. And he was lucky, 'cause nothing came of it—Louis was acting like the cat who got the cream for the whole next day, and then was quietly anxious for the whole next week dreading that there'd be gossip, but there wasn't. Since then, though, he's stuck to girls because—well, because it's easier. And the others feel bad for him, but he won't ever admit that he's not happy with it, says just because girls aren't his favourite doesn't mean he can't appreciate them and "hey, a mouth is a mouth," even though they can tell that he's unhappy with the arrangement, never quite as satisfied as the others are after the one-night stands, like he's still missing something, something he's just not allowed.
"I can suck you off if you want," Max offers, her voice suddenly very gentle.
"That would be brilliant, love," Louis says graciously, and Zayn tries not to think about what Louis probably really wants because it always just makes his heart ache. "So which of these strapping young lads gets to go first?"
Max is still jerking Niall off; Zayn glances down and sees her give him a little squeeze. He's all flushed right down to his chest, and sweaty, eyes half-closed and struggling to stand properly—Zayn reaches out to put his arm around him, hold him steady, just as Max says Niall's name.
Niall's eyes fly open. "What, really? Sick."
He pulls away to sit down on the end of the bed, holding out an expectant hand towards Louis and waving it about for a condom. Louis plucks one out of the box and is about to place it into Niall's palm but then at the last second, just as Niall is about to grab it, Louis snatches it away again, laughing.
Max giggles, shaking her head in despair. "God, you guys are idiots."
"We're distinguished young gentlemen, I'll have you know," Louis informs her, darting his hand about and grinning as Niall struggles to catch it.
"Distinguished young gentlemen who are going to fuck you," Harry says, his voice low as he leans in close to her from behind, kissing her neck. He's got two fingers inside of her and she's so wet for him—for them, hot and pulsing and getting Harry's hand slick. He keeps them stroking in and out of her, thinks about how he's opening her up for Niall.
"Idiots that are going to fuck me," Max corrects him, but her voice is a little broken now, her breathing coming more heavy and erratic. Harry doesn't know if it's from the movement of his fingers or the acknowledgement of what they're gonna do. Maybe both.
"Might wanna get undressed first, though," says Louis, and Harry is simultaneously disappointed and pleased—he has to stop fingering her but, they're going to get to see her naked and there's no way that could be a bad thing.
He slides his hand out of her panties and waits for her to turn around, makes sure she's watching him as he slips his two fingers between his lips, sucks off the taste of her. She says nothing, just gives him a bit of a dirty grin, and then they're all closing in around her to help get her clothes off, a group effort to get her as naked and exposed as they all are. Louis pulls her dress up over her head and the two of them giggle as it gets momentarily caught around her head and she's blinded for a few seconds, and Liam unclasps her bra with one hand and is very proud of himself for it. She has really nice breasts, Harry thinks—a medium size and one just a tiny bit bigger than the other, upturned, with dark pointed nipples. He leans in to lick at one of them pretty much as soon as her bra has come off and she laughs, sighs softly, and holds his head there for the time it takes for her to slip her shoes off and kick them across the room. Niall and Zayn tug at the waistband of her knickers and she stumbles a bit, letting them fall down to her ankles before she steps out of them and then she's flush against Harry, wrapping her arms around him, hiding her face in his shoulder for a second, overcome.
Louis strokes at her back encouragingly, soothingly, and she lifts her head, blushing. "Bit more embarrassing than I expected, sorry," she says, "stripping off in front of five guys, you know."
"You don't need to be embarrassed," Harry says right away, his hands stroking at the soft skin of her hips. "You're beautiful."
The others make noises of agreement and Max blushes even harder, shushing them. "Are you trying to say I don't know it?" she teases. "That everyone else in the room can see it, everyone else but me?" She pauses, frowning to herself. "Is that how it goes?"
"Let's not dwell on that, love," Louis tells her, as Niall goes into fits of giggles.
"Good idea," Max agrees. "C'mon then," she adds, turning around away from Harry and tugging Niall onto the bed with her. "Let's get to it."