"Who the fuck is he?"
I stood frozen at the doorway with my suitcase in hand, glancing nervously at the boy who glared at me from his place on his couch. The boy, who looked not older than seventeen, had dark curly hair that was covered by a beanie, and a cigarette that teased the ends of his fingers. I scrunched up my nose at the smell of the smoke he blew towards me. A sense of annoyance already for this person, who I barely knew, rouse through me.
"My name," I answered for the tall, business type man standing next to me who the misfit directed his obscenity towards, "Is Louis Tomlinson."
The boy eyed me up and down, a half interested, half annoyed eyebrow shooting up on his good features. He took a drag from his cigarette and blew out excess smoke. He turned to the man next to me again, ignoring me completely,
"Is this some sort of joke?" He pointed at me with a ring clad finger.
I looked up at the man, whose eyes narrowed at the boy. His lips were set in a straight line, but his eyes sparkled with amusement, as if he knew my presence would annoy him, "Not at all."
"I'm not living with him." He said with a slight laugh, and so matter of fact and that it caught me off guard.
"Tough shit," Said the man, whose name I still didn't know. He looked familiar enough; I just couldn't put my finger on it. Even after the two hour limo ride I had to endure with him to get to the…downsized flat I was currently standing in, "You're not legal," He continued, "and since Ami isn't here—"
"Don't say his name!" The boy shouted, shoving his cigarette onto the table in protest and standing up from the run down couch. I took a step back to stand behind the business man. As this happened, I was able to get a better look at the boy.
He was tall, maybe even a bit taller than me. His arms were now crossed across his chest, showing off his defined muscles and long forearms. He looked familiar enough—I had seen him on T.V. for years, with the band, but seeing him in person was a totally different experience. When they say the camera adds ten pounds, they weren't kidding: This kid was practically skin and bones.
By now, the business man held up his hands in defense, "Fine, Harry. Since he's been gone, you've been living on your own and making a complete ass of yourself. You need to get your shit together, and that's where he comes in." He said, pulling me by the shirt and thrusting me forward into his view.
Harry laughed out loud this time, not even trying to hide his amusement, "You're telling me this prep is going to help me?" He pointed at me and laughed again, turning around to sit back on the couch, "You're out your damn mind if you think that punk is going to be able to fix me."
This time, it was the business man's turn to laugh, and I looked at him, with a confused expression on my face. He patted my shoulder and squeezed it, "That's not the only reason he is here…"
"What are you on about?" His expression went blank. "You're not telling me he's the new guy, are you?"
"That's exactly what I'm telling you."
Harry shook his head in disbelief, "No…no! You can't just replace him, Simon!"
A light bulb went off in my head. Oh. The man who brought me here was Simon Cowell. My thoughts were interrupted by Simon's booming voice,
"It's been 9 months, Harry. It's time to start over—"
"Well I don't want to start over! This is bullshit." He paused to light another cigarette and pace about, "Do the rest of them know-?"
"Of course they do!" Simon spat, as he pushed me aside to walk closer to Harry, "You were the last person I told. And the rest of them are fine with it, so why don't you make this easy and not make a fuss about it?"
Harry scoffed and shook his head. He threw his newly lit cigarette on the floor and pushed past the both of us, making a beeline for the front door and picking up his leather jacket off of the stair railing.
"Don't walk out, Harry!"
Harry turned on his black boot heel and gave Simon the middle finger, "Fuck. Off." He seethed. Then he turned to me, "You better not be here when I get back." Before I even had time to blink, he slammed the front door closed.
The silence between Simon and I was brief before he spoke, "Well," He turned to me, "What do you think?"
I breathed, "I think…I'm screwed."
"Why didn't you tell him sooner? About me coming here?"
Simon blinked, "Well, it's not easy telling the most popular member of One Direction that the replacement for Ami Shane is a newbie." I shrugged, knowing that Harry Styles was probably the most memorable member of One Direction.
"And telling the others was easier?" I asked, feeling annoyed that Simon led me to this situation in the first place.
"It was, to be honest. But I don't think you understand the bond Ami and Harry had."
"Then explain it to me," I said harshly, pointing to the door, "Because meeting him was like walking through a ring of fire. I don't want to have to deal with that again. If he didn't want a replacement, why am I even here?"
Simon took a deep breath, "Because you are talented, Louis. And One Direction needs a fifth band member. This hiatus the boys have been on has been killing my sales—"
"So now I'm just a business deal?" I snapped, suddenly feeling uncomfortable with the contract I signed a mere four hours ago.
"Don't think of it that way—I make my decisions very carefully. Out of thousands of auditions, I remembered you. Give me some credit, here."
I sighed and stuffed my hands into my pockets, but nodded. "So, I have some big shoes to fill?"
"Don't you watch T.V.? Ami Shane was the biggest talent to walk through the X Factor." I narrowed my eyes at Simon's comment. Of course I knew that. Ami Shane, the late fifth member of One Direction, did have the biggest voice of the group. However, it was also very clear that Harry and Ami had the closest relationship of the five boys—they were inseparable up until Ami's untimely death.
I nudged Simon and gave him a knowing look, "You know what I mean…"
He nodded in understanding, "Ah yes, well, don't expect to be Harry's next best friend overnight. He won't budge that easily."
I groaned, "Then I'll make sure to steer his path, then."
"Don't bother. You're living with him now."
"And why is that, exactly?" I asked, now genuinely confused, "Is this some sort of new kid initiation or some shit? Because if it is, I'm not buying it."
Simon sighed, "You're here because he is underage. He needs a guardian—someone to look after him."
"So get Daddy Direction to do it. I'm not down for living with someone who hates me." I said darkly, referring to Liam Payne, another member of One Direction, who was known to look after and take care of all of the other members.
Simon shook his head and buttoned up his coat, "Harry hates everyone, Louis. So he might as well live with someone he doesn't know; someone who actually has a shot at becoming someone he can trust."
He made his way towards the door and I followed, "That's not going to happen."
Simon opened the door and turned around before exiting, "Give it a chance, Louis. Harry was happy once, it's statistically proven that he can be happy again." He paused and looked around the dirty flat, nodding his head towards the spiral staircase that led to a platform with three doors, "Your room is up there, at the end of the left wing." I nodded and he waved, "Good luck."
And then he left, leaving me to an empty flat and anxiously awaiting the flat mate who would most likely kill me if he saw me still standing where he left me.
I took a good hour to look around the flat I would be living in for the contracted amount of years. And to be honest, what I was seeing wasn't too bad.
The flat was large and spacious, and very modern in terms of style—but this would only be noticed if one were to really look. At a quick glance, the flat looked filthy as anything. Red cups and beer cans were strewn everywhere and the floor was covered with dirt and leaves that entered the house when one walked in. The couch was littered with Harry's clothes—black jeans, black shirts, black shoes, and other types of clothing wear.
I frowned and decided against trying to clean up the place, figuring if Harry didn't want me there in the first place; he probably wouldn't be too keen on me picking up after him. I lifted my suitcase up off of the floor and trotted up the stairs and to my room, which seemed to be the only decent room in the flat.
I dropped my suitcase and flopped onto my bed, suddenly feeling the exhaustion of the day I had had.
Getting up at the crack of dawn, being flown into a secret location to meet more people in suits and sign the contract, guaranteeing me five years with One Direction, as well as a guaranteed living space.
It was then, after things were signed, that I met up with Simon (still not knowing who he was, which, looking back, I still feel stupid about) and we began our decent to the flat.
Once my head hit the soft fluffy pillow, and my eyes began to feel heavy, and after thinking about the weight of the day (and now knowing what I was getting myself into with Harry) I shut my eyes, drifting off into a dreamless slumber.
I woke up to the front door being slammed shut. My eyes shot open and I sat upright on my bed. I took in my surroundings, a bit confused as to where I was. Then I remembered—I was living with Harry Styles.
Well, I thought, I might as well get this over with.
I got off of my bed and walked out of my room, only to see a stumbling Harry at the top of the steps, an open flask in his hands.
Our eyes met, and for the first time, I actually looked at his face. Before he had stormed out, I only got a good look at him from far away—a general glance.
But now I could see everything: The dark circles under his eyes, the minimal scruff that was forming on his chin, and the paleness of his skin. And also, the cold stare his was giving me through his green orbs.
"I told you I didn't want you here."
His voice was low and deep, but it didn't intimidate me as I suspect he thought it would.
"Well I'm a part of this band now. And I have to live somewhere."
"You can stay in the backyard then—I don't want you in this flat."
"Too bad I'm contracted to stay." I fought back.
At this Harry laughed sarcastically and leaned against the handrail, "And since when has anyone ever stuck to their contract?"
"Well maybe you should start."
"Not likely. If you haven't noticed, I'm not one to follow rules."
"Clearly." I said, pointing to the flask in his hands. Harry looked down and rolled his eyes.
"Are you gunna get on my ass about this too? I don't need another person chewing me out for all of the shit I decide to do with my life. That's what Liam's for." He took a large swig of his flask, making sure to look me in the eye as he did so.
I crossed my arms, "Well I have rules."
"You think I'll listen to them?"
"I think you have no choice."
Harry smirked and walked in front of me and looking me straight in the eye—as if he were challenging me. But I wasn't going to back down.
"Why's that?" He asked darkly, searching my face for insecurities, "What makes you think I'll listen to you, let alone your rules?"
"Because then you'll be out of the band."
"I can live without this band." He said, almost in a weak tone, but only a person who was really listening would be able to detect it. "I think you're full of shit." He added, puffing out his chest and taking another swig of his drink.
"I think the same of you." I said immediately, stepping towards him so our noses were almost touching, "I think this pissed off act is what I implied—an act. Trying to get attention because you lost someone—"
"Don't say his name—!"
"Just because Ami died, doesn't mean—"
A millisecond after the words slipped from my tongue, I felt the wind get knocked out of me as pain soared through my spine, and I realized Harry had pinned me against a wall.
I opened my eyes, only to be met with his piercing through me. They say looks could kill? Well, if that's the case, I'd be dead three times over.
Harry's breathing was fast and his voice was a low whisper when he spoke, "You want your fucking rules? Fine. You can have them, I don't care. But if we're going to live in this hellhole, I want a few of my own rules." He said the last word with a mocking tone, and it took all I had not to push him off me.
However, I blinked and took a deep breath, my eyes never leaving his. He spoke again, "The first: you stay out of my fucking way. We make nice for public appearances—pretend we are the best of friends, and make believe for a second I am glad you're joining the band. But once the cameras are off, that bullshit is done." At this, he gripped my shoulder; his fingers squeezing it until I was sure he would leave a black and blue. He sneered at me and brought his face closer to mine,
"And second: you don't ever, and I mean ever, say his name. Do you understand?" I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he spoke, and I realized that his question was actually a threat. What would he do to me if I broke his 'rules'? What would he do if I spoke his name?
I was terribly afraid to know the answer.
"Fine. I get it." I finally said, trying to release the nerves I was feeling as I spoke.
"Great." He released my shoulder harshly and began to walk away.
"Hey! You don't know my rules, yet." I said without thinking, and once I did, I immediately regretted it.
He turned on his heel, the leather boot making a squeaky noise against the tile floor.
"Let me guess," He said, mocking me, "You don't want me to smoke in the house? No drinking, no parties, and always be on time?"
I was surprised, but I didn't want him to see any other emotion other than anger from me, so I just nodded curtly. "P—pretty much."
"Fine. But just because I don't do that shit here, doesn't mean I'm not going to do it at all."
"Honestly, I really don't care."
And then he was gone. He slipped into his room and shut the door behind him, leaving me standing against a wall, wondering just what the hell I had gotten myself into.