22: Titles and Tantrums

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C H A P T E R    T W E N T Y T W O

Titles and Tantrums

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                  THERE WAS ABOUT a second before Louis did something that he knew he wouldn't be able to take back, but a plethora of things happened in that second, and it was beginning to feel like a lifetime.

                  First of all, Louis let his eyes close – which is standard, of course. He was about to kiss this beautiful boy whose lap he's sat on, and there was no way he'd do it creepily with wide open eyes. But with closed eyes comes thoughts and images that Louis usually reserved for when he slept or when he escaped to the bridge across town. They were the last things he wanted to see or think about now.

                  They were there, those damned blue eyes. Staring at him from a darkness so thick that Louis wasn't sure if they were accompanied by their usual array of horrible bits and bobs that made it impossible for Louis to pretend he had forgotten about it all. Probably. He rarely showed up alone.

                  On top of that, a second part of Louis' brain began to run through the pros and cons of kissing Harry right now, but it was doing it so quickly that even Louis couldn't keep up. He couldn't tell which list was longer; the words were blurring together. He felt himself growing frustrated, felt himself struggling to close what remained of the gap between them.

                  The one second of hesitation must have turned into more, because Harry noticed something was amiss. Louis felt him shift a little bit beneath him, and then he whispered, "Lou?"

                  No, Louis thought. This will happen.

                  The thing was, despite the seemingly endless list of pros and cons – no matter which list was longer – Louis really did want to kiss Harry. More than anything right now. He knew that of the two of them, he was the one who was still holding back. And Harry's been so patient, so undemanding that it constantly made Louis feel a little guilty on a daily basis.

                  The troubling part was that he was so ready, too. Sure, he still saw the blue eyes whenever he closed his own, but they didn't necessarily torture him anymore. They were just there. Louis felt like he could get better, felt like he already was. Harry had to be the reason, or at least part of it. Maybe Louis was doing it all himself, but he never had a reason to until now. He never really wanted to let the memories stop torturing him until now.

                  And perhaps he'd stop seeing them all entirely if he just kissed this boy. Kissing Harry meant moving on, and moving on meant freedom. Finally.

                  Still, he was hesitating. But he was pretty sure it was only because he'd already hesitated too much and now Harry had noticed and now things were awkward. Now Harry was staring at him, and Louis knew he should open his eyes and acknowledge what was happening. His pulse quickened at the thought of confronting this now, at the realization that he'd just ruined the moment and Harry was going to have to sacrifice even more of his patience and it was all because Louis couldn't just get his shit together for ten bloody seconds.

                  Harry's hand cupped Louis' face then, his thumb tracing softly over Louis' cheekbone a couple times. "Louis," he whispered again, but Louis couldn't open his eyes. Wouldn't. He felt shame turn his cheeks a bright red and he prayed it was too dim in the room for Harry to notice. "Louis, look at me."

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