nine

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The meals packed neatly in tupperware continue throughout the week. As do the... other gifts.

Thursday evening, Louis is exhausted from working the dinner shift and he just gets the chance to take a break around 8:45, taking a seat at one of the unused tables to wrap silverware in napkins.

The only reason he looks up is because of the scent in the air, how it almost smells like a bakery instead of the typical diner food. It's just an undercurrent to the collective scent of the crowded diner, and it wouldn't be noticeable, except that Louis is so fine-tuned to it.

"What're you doing here?" he asks when Harry is within earshot.

He slides into the booth across from him, leaning back against the seat. "Visiting you."

A soft noise of surprise escapes Louis' lips and he shifts uncomfortably in his seat, pressing his palms to his thighs.

"I brought you food as well? From the cafe you like. Pastries."

"Oh. Thank you. That's really... Thank you." Louis doesn't know what else to say, accepting the paper bag that smells sweet like sugar and dough, resembling Harry's scent but Louis would rather smell the alpha sitting across from him any day of the week, hands down, no questions asked.

Harry keeps him company as he folds the rest of the silverware in the napkins, helping out and making the job go quicker. Louis wishes he could slow time down because as soon as he finishes the napkins he knows he has to get back to work, and he doesn't want Harry to leave so soon.

"Are you feeling better today?"

"A little," he lies, because he doesn't want to complain. "Just a bit sore, I guess."

"D'you still have cramps?"

"Kinda, yeah."

Harry grimaces sympathetically. "Would you be open to trying yoga to maybe make it feel better?"

"Yoga?"

"I did some, um, research last night, and found that there are some yoga poses that are supposed to ease the pain of cramps from soft heats. I could show you some of them, if you'd like? Or, I mean, I could send you the link to the article if you'd rather do it on your own."

Louis is stunned. He stops folding the napkin in order to stare unabashedly at the incredible alpha sitting across from him.

"What?"

Shaking his head frantically, so as not to have to convey the thoughts running through his head right now (mostly a single word: alpha ), he stutters, "Nothing- nothing." Then, blurting out, "Do you wanna come over tonight?"

Harry looks elated at the invitation, but manages a casual, "Sure."

"Alright, well, I have to get back to work," he awkwardly says.

The alpha stands, still grinning at him. "I'll see you later, then. Enjoy the pastries."

When Louis returns to the countertop, hands full of wrapped silverware, he finds his coworkers all staring at him.

"Ohmygod, Louis, your alpha is so handsome! And kind! What did he bring you?"

Everyone else seems curious to see as well, so Louis hands over the bag and watches as they open it. He finds himself too out of it to correct the "your alpha" nonsense.

"There's a note inside!"

"What?"

"Can we read it?"

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