four

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Two hours later they're sitting on the kitchen floor, stuffed full from dinner and dessert. The entire apartment smells of cookies and Louis might die from how much he just ate. Harry seems to be in the same boat.

"God, that was a bad idea."

"Can we take a nap now?"

"Maybe you should just go to bed? It's kind of late."

God, not this again. "Fuck off, Harold, it's only seven o'clock."

"Shut up. You just look like you could use some sleep. I'm trying to be nice."

"I slept all day, thank you very much."

"It really makes you that tired?"

"Suppressants? Yeah, they do. Among other things."

Harry gives him a pitying look, his eyes sad. It's almost too much to handle, and Louis has never liked people looking at him in this way, like he's too fragile and vulnerable to take care of himself.

"Like what?"

"Cold, tired, hungry," horny, he doesn't say. The next one slips out against his better judgement: "Touch-starved. All of those great feelings."

"Touch-starved?"

"Don't act like you don't know what that means." Louis knows Harry isn't stupid, he's just trying to get Louis to elaborate. Maybe beg Harry to cuddle him or something like that, something that would make him look like a pathetic, helpless omega in the face of his own nature which turns out to be pretty shity sometimes. Louis stays silent, not giving in.

"So it would help if we sat closer together," Harry says eventually, his voice low and deep and slow. So fucking slow. Coupled with his scent, it's dizzying. "Like yesterday, when I gave you a back rub and you fell asleep on me." It's not a question. He stands up and pulls Louis with him, tugging him out of the kitchen and all the way to the couch in the living room. "Wanna sit on my lap, little omega?"

Little omega. "Fuck off," Louis repeats from earlier, though Harry doesn't know how right on the money he is, how badly he wants to clamber onto his lap and never leave. He'll never know, that's the thing. Louis is good at keeping secrets, especially embarrassing ones like this. Being called little omega doesn't help either, because usually terms like that make his blood boil, but there's something about the way Harry says it that makes it more desirable, less like an insult or a derogatory phrase and more a term of endearment, something that makes him flush with embarrassment instead of with anger.

"No, seriously, c'mere." Harry tugs gently on his arm and Louis stumbles into him, sitting down on his waiting lap by accident. He huffs, but Harry wraps his arms around him comfortably, reaching for the TV remote. As if this is a totally normal thing to do. As if they hadn't just spent the year of knowing each other by dancing around the other, always afraid to touch because of what might happen, how their bodies might betray them. Now, it seems, Harry has thrown caution to the wind. Louis decides to follow with unease, because he has no idea what else to do.

"Harry..."

"Just relax. It's okay, I've got you."

I've got you. I've got you. What does that even mean? Louis lets his limbs fall limp and pliable as Harry adjusts him to sit more comfortably on his lap, situating him so that his head is resting on Harry's shoulder, dangerously close to his neck. If he inhales, right at this very moment, he'll get two lungs full of air permeated with alpha scent. To be frank, that might kill him. Actually kill him. Dead on the spot.

"Lou, you've got to breathe."

"I can't," he grinds out, voice strained.

"Why not?"

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