It happens again, and Louis doesn't have to wrangle it out of him or let himself get to the point where he feels like he's going to die. He's just kind of antsy all day; they have all these interviews and he can't sit still and at one point Liam flicks him on the thigh, under the table, a harsh snap of his finger through Louis's trousers and Louis gasps quietly with the shock of it but already he feels the distracting spread of pain through his nerves, and he steadies his breathing and looks at Liam sidelong, sees him grinning shyly.
He does it again when they're out for dinner and Louis's being too loud—he knows he is but he can't seem to shut himself up and he's getting on everyone's nerves but his mouth is running away from him and then there's Liam, this time reaching beneath the table and clutching his forearm, hard, digging in his fingernails. Louis's heart rate slows and the volume of his voice goes down a few decibels.
After, traipsing down the hotel corridor, Louis elbows Liam gently. He tries to keep his voice low so the others don't hear, says, "Can we—"
He doesn't even know how he's planning to finish the sentence but Liam says, "Yeah," immediately, to Louis's surprise. "Yeah, if you need—"
"I think I do." Zayn and Niall are heading off to their rooms but Harry's hanging back, waiting for Louis and looking suspicious. "I'll be back in a bit?" Louis says, trying to ignore the twist of guilt in his stomach at keeping secrets from Harry like this.
Harry frowns. "Okay," is all he says, as he turns on his heel.
"I'm not—I'm still not—" Liam stammers when they get into his room and Louis kicks off his shoes and shrugs out of his jacket. "Like I'm still not comfortable with this but it's, it's something you need, right?"
"Yeah," Louis says, keeping it simple and joke-free because he can tell Liam's being serious, needing answers or this won't happen.
"Okay, can you—can you go stand against the wall?" Liam asks uncertainly. "I just—I don't wanna be like, looming over you this time."
Louis nods, following the line of Liam's finger where he's pointing. He breathes out unsteadily, his back to the wall, anticipation building in his gut. Liam rubs nervously at his thighs through his jeans and then comes towards him, taking him by the chin.
"Yeah, Liam, come on," Louis urges when Liam hesitates. "Do it, please."
He's excited for it, heart pounding fast and body sort of trembly all over. Liam is just looking at him uncertainly and Louis reaches out, prods him hard in the stomach.
"Don't be a tease," he quips.
Liam lets out a breathy laugh, uneasy, but gives a sharp little nod and holds Louis's chin tighter, slapping him once across the left cheek and then the right. Louis grins, wide, feeling the flood of endorphins through him like a wave, and he steadies himself, trying to keep still. One more slap and he's already swelling up in his trousers, aching. He reaches to fidget with his zipper, just to get Liam's attention, and Liam glances down and nods at him shakily.
"Yeah, you can—" he says, and Louis does, quickly unzipping and getting his hand inside to wrap around himself and it's so fucking good, the combination of the burn in his cheeks as Liam continues to slap him and the slick pleasure of his hand on his cock.
When he comes, shuddering gently against the wall and spilling over his hand, Liam caresses Louis's face gently instead, stroking where it's red and sore. Louis still feels like he's got something left, some little bit of frenzy whirring inside of him that's only been dulled, not stamped out. He wants to go again.
"Li, can you—" he says, voice a little hoarse, "can you not stop? Like—I'm, I'm not done, I want more."
Liam looks torn. "I can't—it's too much. And it'll show, Lou. If I keep going you're gonna be, like—you're gonna be bruised, I think." His voice cracks a little.
"Hit me somewhere else, then," Louis says instantly. He gestures to his belly, thinks about Liam's strong fists pummelling it, how different that would be to a slap to the face, how it might make him double over. "Hit me here instead."
"But you've got—I mean, you've got organs there, Lou. I can't hurt like, your kidneys."
"My kidneys?" Louis grins. "Yeah, gotta be wary of my kidneys. We've only got three between us, after all."
Liam laughs then, and it's high-pitched and nervy and sets Louis off, falling into him and giggling into the crook of his shoulder.
"Have you been reading up?" Louis teases.
"Don't want to hurt you."
"Hurting me's kind of the point, Liam."
"Don't want to break you."
"What can you do, then?" he asks, breathing hot into Liam's neck, and Liam shudders a little, pushing Louis back against the wall. It feels cool against Louis's shoulder blades and he leans into it, looking up into Liam's eyes, waiting. Something rises up in his chest as they look at each other, Liam's lips quirking in a bashful smile, and Louis wants him to touch him again.
Liam reaches out and feels for Louis's nipples through his t-shirt, pinching them between thumb and forefinger, hard. Louis lets out a gasp that's half of a laugh when he thinks about the number of times he's done this to Liam, done this to all the boys and they've never fought back. He's done it to himself too of course, but it's never felt as good as this.
Liam lets go, and Louis breathes, "Yeah," and pulls his t-shirt up over his head. His boxers are still sticky, his come cooling in them, and he takes a chance, decides to just strip all the way off while he's at it. Liam makes a little sound but it doesn't sound like protest, so Louis carries on, wiggling out of his trousers and pants and kicking them aside.
He straightens back up and it feels scary and exciting to be standing in front of Liam without any clothes on like this, totally exposed. He doesn't know what he wants Liam to do about it but his heart's beating out a frantic rhythm against his ribcage and he feels small and vulnerable and it's not something he ever expected to feel so good. He thinks about Liam really beating him up and his throat goes dry.
He thinks about Liam holding him close after, kissing his hair, and his stomach flips.
Liam's gaze is all over the place, like he's trying to avoid looking at Louis's cock but he can't quite keep his eyes fixed on his face either, and he's trying to work out what else to do. Just that, the strangely calculating look in his eyes as he looks over Louis's body, is making something buzz in the base of Louis's spine all over again. Liam takes his nipples, but this time he's rougher, pulling until the skin stretches and Louis can't help but let out a cry.
"Okay?" Liam asks, letting go instantly and looking worried.
"Yeah yeah, more," Louis pants out.
Liam swears under his breath and then takes Louis by the hips, gripping tight as he forces him further back against the wall, and Louis moans at being shoved around like that, Liam's large hands on him. He can tell Liam's worried about squeezing too much because his fingers don't dig in for very long, but it's hard enough that Louis thinks he's going to have bruises there, maybe just above his hipbones, little purpled marks from Liam's fingers and the thought makes his cock start to fill up again. Liam slaps him suddenly on the thigh, and then again when Louis nods at him, and then up on his chest, twisting his nipple again before Louis's had a chance to recover.
Louis takes a hold of his cock and it feels sensitive from coming so recently, sending shivers down his spine. His fingers wrap around the shaft, still sticky with his come, and he trembles as Liam slaps at him again, his hand harsh just beneath Louis's collarbone. His fingernails are short and blunt but he digs them in anyway, scratching at Louis's back, and Louis lets out a shaky cry at the different feel of it, the sharpness of the pain and the thrill that it's Liam doing this, Liam.
Liam checks in with him, murmuring another "Okay?" and Louis nods and says yes over and over, urging Liam on, zoning out when Liam keeps going, repetitive slaps on Louis's chest, his shoulders, his thighs. Louis's hand keeps working over himself like it's automatic, his head floating somewhere else, but there's something holding him back, his second orgasm cresting without overflowing, caught on the edge. He thinks Liam must be able to sense his struggle because he's trying harder, being a little rougher and switching between different types of pain, sharps stings and dull aches until Louis feels like he can't predict anything, like he's completely at Liam's mercy. The thought brings him higher, so close, and then suddenly Liam is striking his cheek again, just once but brutal, and the shock of it sends Louis tumbling through, spurting just once up onto his belly and then slumping against the wall and letting himself sink to the floor as his knees give out. He's trembling and his whole face feels hot and his vision's gone sort of swimmy, sparks bursting in the corners of his eyes.
Suddenly he's aware of Liam kneeling on the floor in front of him, trying to get him to look him in the eye like he's searching for something. Louis registers him slowly, and is confused to see something like panic in his eyes.
"I'm okay," Louis half-slurs, his mind feeling foggy from all the pain, from coming twice. "That was really good."
His head rolls back against the wall and Liam suddenly grabs at it and tips it forward, and Louis sees a drop of red suddenly splash onto his own chest. He stares at it blankly.
"You're having a nosebleed," Liam says in a very controlled voice.
"Oh," is all Louis says. That explains the hot sting in his sinuses and the wetness on his upper lip.
Liam produces tissues, seemingly out of thin air, and gently holds them up to Louis's nose. Louis takes them, crumpling them where it's bleeding, feeling a faint throb when he holds it a little too tightly, and when he looks up at Liam he sees that he still looks alarmed, wide-eyed.
"I'm okay," Louis says again, slowly turning the tissues red. Liam says nothing. He looks very pale. "Hey," says Louis, his voice sounding sort of thick with the tissues pinched to his nose, "you made me bleed. That's awesome."
"It is not," Liam squeaks, all the control going out of his voice. "Louis, I'm so sorry, shit, I—you were, and I thought you needed—"
"I did," Louis interrupts, waving a hand vaguely, "I came so hard, Liam. I'm like...that was amazing."
"Well, I'm not doing it again," Liam says, cheeks suddenly spotting with pink as he reaches out to tip Louis's head down again. Louis hears himself make a noise of protest. "I mean—this, I can't—I'll slap you, but I'm not gonna do it that hard again, okay? Or that many times. The capillaries are too close to the surface of the skin in your cheeks and I know that but I wasn't—"
"The what-aries?" Louis says blearily. "Did you eat a biology textbook for breakfast?"
Liam shushes him, gently pulling the tissues away to assess the damage.
"Am I gonna live?" asks Louis. He grins, which is painful.
Liam frowns at him, but he visibly relaxes a little as he starts to dab at the blood around Louis's nose. "Yeah. It looks a lot worse than it is, I think. Let me get you a flannel. Is it okay if I leave you?"
"To go into the bathroom?" Louis asks. "Liam, that's like two feet away."
Liam stammers something and then gets to his feet, returning a moment later with a warm compress and gently wiping at Louis's face. Louis makes a soft noise; it feels good and the flannel smells like Liam, and the throbbing is beginning to turn into more of a faded ache. Liam makes him drink some water and by the time Louis's finished the whole glass—at Liam's insistence—he feels sleepy, a combination of afterglow and sheer exhaustion. He makes Liam sit with him against the wall because he's not ready to move yet, and snuggles up against him. Liam pulls him into a hug, holding him closely but tentatively, and Louis isn't sure if it's because he's afraid of hurting him or if he's just suddenly very aware of Louis's nudity now that there's no longer any actual reason for it. Louis wants to bury his nose in Liam's shoulder because his jumper is all soft and warm and nice-smelling but it hurts too much—this is the only time the pain is unpleasant, he thinks, after, his body already oversensitised from it.
He makes a little frustrated noise, and simultaneously hears two other sounds—the buzz of his phone vibrating in his trouser pocket and a very loud sniff from Liam. He pulls back, more concerned about the latter than the former of course, and is surprised to see that Liam's eyes are wet and red-rimmed.
"Li?" he says gently.
"Shut up," Liam says, uncharacteristically defensive, "I made you bleed."
Louis can't help but laugh, which might not be the right response, but Liam sort of screws up his face and a couple of tears roll down his cheeks and Louis he huddles Liam back into the hug, patting him comfortingly. "I'm fine," he tells him, and Liam presses his damp nose into Louis's neck and cries, in a sort of quiet choked-off way like he's trying really hard to stop but just can't. Louis's never seen Liam cry, not even when they didn't win X Factor and Harry was sobbing so hard for so long they all thought he'd die from dehydration.
"I'm so sorry," Liam gets out, clinging to Louis's back.
Louis pets at him. "Liam, love, it's okay," he says, bemused, "I—this is what I want, you don't have to feel bad."
"It's just—" Liam says thickly, "I don't know, I just, it's all so."
Liam starts to draw back and Louis lets him, watches as Liam's eyes scan over Louis's body. He colours a little, carefully avoiding looking at Louis's cock—Louis follows his gaze and picks up on the marks Liam left, the red flush across his chest and the rawness of his nipples, and the mottled beginnings of bruises around his hips. He wants to look in the mirror so he can see them properly, or poke at them, or have even more.
But Liam says, "Oh god, I'm sorry," looking horrified. "I made you bleed and I've left you like this."
"No," Louis says firmly. "I like it. I swear to you, Liam, I like it." Liam still looks distraught and Louis cuddles him close again. "I like it, I like it, I like it," he murmurs over and over, pressing his lips to Liam's neck, carefully, and letting the words hum against his warm skin. Somewhere along the way I like it becomes I love you, words tumbling out and making his heart beat harder, and Liam chokes out something between a laugh and a sob.
"I love you too," he says, and Louis lets the smile spread back across his face as he nestles into Liam's chest.
His phone buzzes again and he swears, pulling back to check it. He has three texts from Harry, all variations on the theme of where are you and what are you doing? He doesn't know how to sum it up in a text, doesn't even know if he wants to, and he looks up at Liam uncertainly.
"It's—it's Haz," he says, flicking Liam's fringe out of his eyes for him.
Liam gives him a wobbly smile. "It's okay, you can—you can go."
"I don't wanna leave you in a sobbing heap," Louis says.
"I'm—oi, I'm not a sobbing heap," Liam retorts, running his hands over his face to wipe away the tear tracks, blushing. "No, I'm—honestly Louis, I'm okay, I'm more worried about you, I just—I got—it's overwhelming."
"I know." Louis nuzzles Liam's shoulder with his nose, and Liam giggles. "But I'm great. I'm brilliant. I'm on cloud nine. And I can stay with you if you want me to, I can tell Haz to fuck off."
"Don't do that," Liam says immediately. "No, go—it's fine. I'm fine. We're fine."
"Everything's fine!" Louis teases.
"Except for your skin," Liam points out, frowning a little again.
"My skin is much improved," Louis assures him, giving one of the bruises on his hip a little prod and relishing the gentle stab of it. "You do good work, Mr. Payne," he teases.
"Ha," Liam laughs weakly, "Payne."
"Oh, god," Louis shakes his head, "I refuse to even laugh at that."
"Then go, instead," Liam says, and he's grinning, looking much better now, "as long as you're okay."
"As long as you're okay."
"I think we're both okay."
Louis smiles. "Okay," he says, and gets to his feet rather clumsily. He hops around trying to pull his trousers back on and Liam laughs at him, and then laughs again when Louis picks up his damp boxers and wrinkles his nose before stuffing them into his pocket. He puts his t-shirt on, taking a last look at the redness of his chest first, and then Liam finally gets up as well.
Louis doesn't want to say it, but he knows he should. "We can," he starts, looking at Liam cautiously, "we don't have to do this again, if you don't want. I don't wanna keep doing something that makes you cry on me."
"No," says Liam, and Louis feels a flood of relief, "no, I like it. That's kind of what's so scary. I like it but I don't know why. It's so weird."
"We can be weirdos together," Louis tells him, and then pulls him close for another cuddle. His phone buzzes again and he sighs, pulling away. "You gonna be okay?"
"Yeah, go back to your worried husband," Liam teases. Louis prods him in the ribs, sticking his tongue out at him, but goes, feeling a little unsteady on his own legs as he heads back down the corridor, achy and sore.
Harry is waiting up for him, of course, but thankfully he doesn't ask any more questions. Louis grabs some pyjamas and slips into the bathroom to check on the state of his nose—which looks fine—and clean himself up a little more. Most of the time he sleeps naked when he's rooming with Harry because Harry doesn't care, but he needs to cover up the marks Liam's left on him so he pulls on the plaid trousers and the baggy old t-shirt and just hopes Harry will think he's cold. When he comes back out it's still dark and Harry is quiet, so Louis slips into bed, breathing a sigh of relief. The guilt penetrates his bubble of bliss when Harry suddenly rolls over to face him in the dark and says goodnight, but—Louis just doesn't know how to explain this to him, wouldn't even know where to start.
He knows he won't be able to hide it for very long, though. They're with each other almost 24/7 and though Louis does his best to keep covered up, he can't hide the psychological effects of what he and Liam are doing. He can't hide the way he'll be all keyed up one moment, and then he and Liam will disappear for a while and when they return he'll be placid, curling up next to Harry and resting his head on his shoulder and enjoying the way the press of Harry's body against his makes the blossoming bruises feel more tender. Everybody notices that, he's sure, but nobody mentions it; they probably all appreciate Louis's slightly less manic attitude and the fact that he's quit bugging them, and don't want to draw attention to it in case it goes away again.
A part of him wants Harry to ask, because he doesn't know how to broach the subject himself and he knows this is something Harry should know about, and eventually Harry gives up waiting for Louis to confide in him and just asks flat-out what's going on. Louis struggles his way through an explanation and it's like torture, not just because of the embarrassment but because of the way Harry looks at him, brow furrowed and expression almost pained. Harry doesn't like the fact that Louis's being hurt, even though Louis enjoys it, but mostly he just doesn't like that it's Liam doing it to him, doesn't like that Liam can give something to Louis that he can't. They depend on each other for so much and Harry doesn't seem to understand that he can't be everything for Louis, that there are certain things Louis needs to get from other people.
Over time, though, he adjusts to it, the positive effect it's having on Louis more important to him than his own discomfort with the idea. Harry's worried it might be unhealthy, but for Louis it feels so much healthier than how things were before—he feels settled in himself now, knowing he can count on Liam for this. Liam is always careful where Louis is utterly careless; Louis might've ended up doing himself some serious damage if Liam hadn't taken over for him. He's still relying on the pain but it's in a safer way, a more controlled way than Louis ever used for himself. He tries to explain that to Harry and Harry seems to get it, well aware of Louis's recklessness and the danger it can cause. They don't talk about it much, the two of them, but sometimes Harry will check in, just making sure Liam hasn't gone too far and that it's still helping, and Louis's reassurance seems to help. Both of them know Harry's never really going to like the idea, but that's just something they have to live with, Louis decides, because this is good, so good.
It's—maybe a little too good, he starts to realise. He always figured he'd get back with Hannah eventually, maybe when the tour ended, but now he's not sure he wants to. Now he thinks he wants this, instead. There's something about Liam that makes his nerves tingle, more than just the pain, something he tries really hard not to address because it's Liam, Liam who's still chatting up Danielle the dancer, Liam who's only doing this because he's a good friend, Liam who most certainly doesn't see this the same way Louis does. Louis can't avoid thinking about it though; it's difficult to keep it in a closed-off part of his brain when he's literally getting off on something Liam is doing to him, when Liam is bringing him to orgasm—it doesn't even matter that Liam doesn't touch him there, it's still the movements of his hands that send Louis spinning off somewhere starry and perfect.
Liam makes him feel different in such a good way when they do this, like he doesn't even have to think. It's like—submitting to him, and Louis never knew he needed that, has been fighting for dominance with Liam in some subtle way ever since the band formed because they both feel the urge to lead, albeit in different ways. But Louis doesn't feel like that anymore. Liam makes him feel like it's okay to let his mind go blank. Doing this with him feels like climbing into bed at the end of a long day and just switching off. He doesn't need to bother telling Liam what to do anymore, how to do it, because Liam is more confident with it now and Louis can just relax and surrender to him and it's strange, but the relief that brings is so powerful that somewhere along the way gratitude has turned into something else, something almost wistful.
For the most part, this is enough. It's enough to have Liam doing this for him, the pain and the sweetness after, and it almost feels greedy to want more, but—sometimes in the moment, when Liam's pushed him to the point where his thoughts have mostly turned to simple static, he forgets, and he just longs to make Liam feel as good as Liam makes him feel.
As time goes on, Liam worries he might be starting to depend on this just as much as Louis is. It becomes routine, in a strange way. He'll keep an eye on Louis, aware of his moods, able to tell when Louis is just the wrong side of hyper or stressed, and then he'll do what he can to help calm him down. Sometimes Louis will be the one to come to him, and sometimes Liam will offer, and it's not—it's not like it's every day but it's enough for Liam to come to depend on it, to know that he would miss this if it stopped. It's not even about keeping Louis under control for his own benefit anymore, he just likes being able to do this for him. Seeing the dazed, euphoric smile that spreads across his face after, when he's bruised up and aching and totally satisfied—it makes something flutter in Liam's belly and he'll always hold Louis close, cuddle him for much longer than he ever would normally, cleaning him up and tending to any particularly bad injuries (though Louis will protest).
He feels—special, somehow, being allowed to see this side of Louis. Louis is still so guarded with the boys, not wanting them to see him vulnerable, but he lets Liam, he opens up to Liam, stands naked before him shivering with anticipation and staring trustingly into his eyes and Liam just—it just means so much to him that Louis wants him to do this. This is something the two of them share, something the others have nothing to do with, a part of Louis that Liam can have just for himself.
Liam begins to get more used to it, as well, more willing to hit Louis harder like he wants and more accepting of the bruises he leaves behind. There's still one part that he doesn't think he'll ever get used to, though, and that's seeing Louis naked and hard and desperately stroking himself, seeing him splash his tensing stomach with come. It was easier, maybe, when that freaked him out totally, when he didn't like it, but now a part of him does. A part of him likes having that effect on Louis, knowing he can make Louis adjust his rhythm according to the type of pain, knowing which things he likes best, what makes him come the quickest or the hardest. The relief is almost contagious when Louis comes, when he's flushed and happy and satiated and he'll drape himself over Liam and thank him—it's hard not to like that, Liam tells himself, because Louis is his friend and he likes making his friends happy.
It's more than that, though, and he can't keep pretending. It's not just about helping Louis out anymore. He realises that when he asks Louis if he wants to come into his room for a bit before bed, after a show, when Harry and Niall have gone off to play Xbox and Zayn's down at the bar with Rebecca. He realises it at that moment because Louis's not even that hyped up, it was only a few nights ago that they last did this and he hasn't gotten any of the telltale signs that Louis needs it again yet, but he asks anyway. Because he needs it. And that's—that means something. He's not quite sure what, but it's making something settle low in his stomach, something he tries not to think about as he tries to keep his face clear of hope and his voice casual.
"Really?" Louis says, lighting up. "Yeah, that'd be fantastic, are you sure?"
"Uh huh," is all Liam says, and they head into his room.
Louis kicks off his Toms and goes into the corner—he's been doing that lately and Liam thinks he must like feeling like he doesn't have an escape, walls on each side of him and Liam in front, crowding him in. He looks a little bouncy still but mostly relaxed, cosy in sweatpants and a t-shirt that was once Liam's, hanging loosely from his shoulders and low over his hips. He's wearing his glasses, too, and Liam carefully removes them so he doesn't break them by accident while they're—Liam never really knows what to call it, in his own head. It's just this thing that they do, that there isn't a name for. Louis blinks, his eyes adjusting, and Liam goes and puts the glasses on the bedside table before coming back.
There's something really different about it this time, with Louis calmer than usual, not begging for it, just waiting patiently. It feels like he really trusts Liam, trusts that he's going to do this and he's going to do it well, and not make him wait too long. Liam likes that.
Louis hooks his fingers into the waistband of his sweats and tugs them down, doing the same with his pants. He doesn't always, sometimes he'll just get his hand inside, but they both know it's simply easier for him this way so usually Louis will just pull his trousers down swiftly while Liam averts his eyes, still finding it awkward though they're comfortable enough now to joke about it sometimes. Louis doesn't usually take his top off 'til they've started, because sometimes he can get off from Liam slapping his face alone and doesn't need him to move onto the rest of him. Seeing Louis standing there in Liam's top and nothing else is a bit different though—it makes him look really small, somehow more vulnerable than when he's naked.
"Yeah, it's yours," he says, noticing that Liam's looking at the shirt. "Nicked it this morning, sorry."
"It's okay," Liam says immediately. "It looks good on you, actually."
This, he thinks, is really different—they've never just made idle chit-chat beforehand, Louis's usually so desperate for it. And it's not like he doesn't seem to care; there's an expectant glow in his eyes and a slight twitchiness to his movements now like he's ready for it. He's tugging at the hem of the shirt, biting at his lip, but he's not saying "You gonna hit me then, or what?" just—waiting. It's unusual, but Liam kind of likes it, likes that they've reached the point where Louis trusts him enough to just do this, isn't so uncertain and insecure that he has to push him for it.
There's a moment, then, when Liam is reflecting and he realises he's been staring at Louis's face the whole time, and Louis is smiling, sweet and a little bemused and maybe sort of fond as well. Liam reaches up to take his face and his instinct is to be gentle, his fingers brush Louis's jaw in something like a caress before he gets a handle of himself and holds him more firmly, keeping his head still. Louis lets out a rush of breath; his eyes slide shut and his hands cease their fidgeting immediately. Liam slaps him. Again, and again. He feels Louis's skin heating up under his palm, listens to Louis's quiet whimpers. Louis's so—still, arms hanging by his sides, just taking it, and it's longer than usual before he's hard, probably because he hasn't been needing it so badly. Liam's eyes flick down and he sees Louis's cock distorting the fabric of his t-shirt, the shape of it under the thin fabric.
Louis reaches for it and Liam looks back at his face again, but for a second he's thrown and he's not sure why, breath catching in his throat and hand faltering halfway to Louis's face. Louis doesn't seem to notice, wrapping his hand around his cock and beginning to stroke himself, starting quick right away; Liam can see the blur of his hand out of the corner of his eye. He watches Louis's face for a long moment, the way his eyes squeeze tighter shut and his tongue darts out to wet his dry lips, and then Liam gathers his senses and strikes Louis again. Louis moans, now, eyes snapping open, and there's that look that Liam was missing, that neediness, that pleading expression. Liam reaches down, slaps at the side of Louis's left thigh now, watches him jolt in surprise. He keeps going, watching Louis's reactions to each hit, the way his eyes glaze over.
He alternates between face and thigh, blows rhythmless and random because he's distracted by Louis's expression, his gasping mouth and glossy eyes and the gorgeous flush across his cheeks. Louis is unsteady on his feet, keeps swaying and knocking into Liam, and Liam keeps feeling the nudge of Louis's cock against his thigh, rigid and hot.
At some point, Liam grows hard too. That's never happened before when they've done this. He's felt a slight stirring there a few times, but it's never been—this, his cock aching in his trousers from watching Louis space out.
He hears himself saying, "Lou," in a small voice, before he can stop himself. He's almost scared, which is silly because he's sure this could be explained away as something totally biological and meaningless but—in his gut he knows that it's not. And maybe he needs Louis to know that too.
But Louis is drifting away from him right now, and Liam doesn't know how to bring him back. "Lou," he says again, a little louder. Louis is staring at the ground, and his gaze slowly drags up, up Liam's long legs to the tented crotch of his trousers and then finally, up to his face. Louis blinks a few times before his eyes focus, and his pupils are so large there's only a thin sliver of blue around them. He stares at Liam open-mouthed.
When he drops to the floor a second later, he goes down like a puppet with its strings cut, only somehow more graceful, a swift collapse. Liam panics instinctively, thinking he's fainting, but Louis only falls to his knees. He reaches up with shaky hands to undo Liam's zipper and Liam hears himself make a sound but he's not sure he can form any sentences, not with Louis kneeling before him like this, making quick work of Liam's fly and trying to prise Liam's boxers down so he can get at his cock.
"Lou, what're you—what're you doing?" he manages to choke out, taking a feeble step back just as Louis exposes his cock.
Louis looks up at him, and Liam can see that he's caught somewhere strange between being totally out of it and still a little excitable—Liam hasn't pushed him into that state of mindless bliss yet so his arousal is a little overwhelming to him, making him buzz with energy. "I need to suck you," he says, voice slightly hoarse, "you're hard, and I want—"
He cuts himself off abruptly, staring at Liam's cock, and the look on his face sends Liam reeling. He looks like he's never wanted anything so badly in his life before, like he wants this even more than he wants Liam to hurt him. Liam doesn't know how to deal with that.
"Okay," Liam says shakily, and he's barely got the word out before Louis's delving forward, sucking Liam down, hungry and eager and almost choking himself on it right away as he tries to get Liam into his throat. Sparks go through Liam's veins and he forces himself to keep still, hears himself murmur, "Woah, Lou, breathe."
Louis pulls off, mouth wet and panting. "Liam, Liam," his voice cracks, "I want to do this for you."
"I know," Liam says, bewildered, running his fingers through Louis's soft hair, pushing it back from his sweaty forehead. "It's okay."
Louis nods jerkily, still looking just a little bit like his mind is somewhere else, and then he takes Liam's cock into his mouth again. He's clumsy with his enthusiasm and Liam feels the tiniest hint of teeth, but then Louis's pulling him over the flat of his hot tongue and Liam's legs start shaking. His hand is still resting on Louis's head and he strokes gently at his hair as Louis takes him deeper and then begins to work back and forth, suckling him, messy and noisy and frantic. Liam stares down at him in stunned amazement; the sight of his cock disappearing between Louis's stretched lips is too much and the way Louis flicks his eyes up to look at Liam—that's even worse.
Louis pulls back, stopping in order to shove Liam's trousers and pants down properly in a frustrated sort of way, yanking at them 'til they're around Liam's ankles. He smoothes his hands up Liam's thighs and Liam feels all the little hairs stand on end in the wake of Louis's palms, his skin tingling as Louis moves back in, his breath ghosting over the head of Liam's cock before he sucks it back between his lips. He clutches at Liam's hips and Liam finds himself placing his own hand over one of Louis's a little awkwardly, holding it there, just needing to touch him. Louis is determined, works Liam's cock all the way in, his nose brushing Liam's stomach just briefly before he's easing back off, eyes welled up and face red.
"Lou," Liam hears his own voice saying faintly, a kind of awed whisper as he feels his orgasm building, quicker and quicker as Louis drags his mouth along the shaft.
It all happens much too quickly for him to feel like he can get a handle on any of it, he's toppling over the edge so fast, clinging to Louis's hand tightly. Louis just keeps going, the pressure of his mouth increasing as he swallows each pulse of Liam's come until Liam is making a hurt little sound and pulling away, oversensitive, all of his nerves jangling.
He feels like he could collapse, but looking down at Louis slumped on the floor, he thinks he sees something apologetic in his expression, a different sort of desperation and some kind of shame, like he's silently begging Liam not to freak out and leave him. And it makes Liam's heart ache, because he wouldn't dream of it. He wants this, wants it badly, and he doesn't even give himself time to recover from his orgasm before he's hauling Louis to his feet, hands heaving him up by his armpits and then dragging him the couple of feet to the bed. He throws Louis down and Louis looks wild, and stunned, and Liam kicks off the tangle of clothing from around his ankles and then clambers over Louis, straddling his thighs. He keeps his eyes on Louis's as he blindly reaches for Louis's cock, curls his fingers inexpertly around the firm shaft of it and feels the hot, slick pulse of it against his palm.
Louis just gasps out a barely-there "Yes," his hips jolting. Liam holds him down and this time Louis melts under him, pliant and beautiful, his eyebrows drawn up and his forehead crinkled as his mouth tries to form words and quickly gives up. Liam grips him tightly by the hip, pressing his fingers into bruises left earlier and watching Louis nod and squirm helplessly. He tugs at Louis rough and fast, fist a quick drag over the firm and aching flesh of his cock, and it's so much better, so much better like this, stroking Louis with the tight curl of his hand, a direct touch rather than something vicarious. He's not just the link that allows Louis to get off anymore, he's actually getting him off and it's—it's overwhelming.
He hitches up Louis's t-shirt—Liam's t-shirt—to expose the mottled marks on his hips from the other day, and pushes his fingertips to them, listening to each sharp, pleased cry that falls from Louis's mouth. It's when he ducks down, shoves the neckline of the t-shirt aside and sinks his teeth into a pale shoulder that Louis comes, sudden and almost sobbing, grabbing at Liam's back as his hips shudder erratically. He coats Liam's fist, hot, and Liam can't stop staring at his face, watching his comedown, the way his throat is working like he's gulping in air and his eyes are steadily regaining focus.
Louis goes softer in his hand and Liam lets him slip out of his fingers, but his hand lingers on Louis's stomach, wet, feeling it quiver. Eventually Louis meets his gaze with a clarity in his eyes that tells Liam he's back.
"Was that just a thank you for the blowjob?" he asks, and he sounds wrecked, but still so Louis, his teasing tone of voice tinged with insecurity.
Liam shakes his head, eyes fixed on Louis. "No," he says simply, doesn't know how else to explain.
Louis grins, almost sheepishly like he's embarrassed, reaching out and spreading his hand wide across Liam's face, pushing his head away to get him to stop staring. Liam laughs in a dazed kind of way and slumps beside Louis on the bed, stroking gently at Louis's stomach and still watching him because he can't help it, looking at Louis in profile now, the angle of his jaw and the slight point of his nose. The room seems very quiet all of a sudden, and the silence, Liam thinks, is oddly expectant. Louis turns his head and Liam offers him a little, hesitant smile, but Louis doesn't return it. He just looks at him.
They go in at the same time, like it's an inevitability, and Liam thinks distantly that maybe it was, all along, without either of them realising it. Louis kisses him with a sort of fierceness, his tongue hot and sure and still faintly tasting of Liam's come, and his hands everywhere, skimming over Liam's back and up into his hair. Liam holds Louis closer, a hand on his hip drawing him in, and licks softly into Louis's mouth until he calms and they're kissing lazily, sweetly, like they have all the time in the world.
It feels good, and safe, and like something that should have happened a long time ago. It feels like Liam is tethering him.