Louis calls Liam a few days later and it's about eleven at night. Ollie has been in bed for hours after Liam, Harry and Niall acted out a bedtime story for him that had him in stitches, tears streaming down his face at their awkward acting interspersed with laughter. Liam almost doesn't pick up the phone, but snatches it up on the last ring, slamming his finger unnecessarily hard onto the touch screen and holding it up to his ear.
"Hey Lou," he says with a tired sigh.
"Liam!" Louis cries and he sounds stupidly happy for the hour, but it might just be Liam who's used to going to bed at a respectable time now that he has a son who he has to get up for school most mornings. "What're you up to mate?"
"I'm in bed," Liam says seriously, but Louis isn't deterred.
"Fucking hell Liam, you're such an old man." Liam rolls his eyes and throws the covers off, already preparing himself to go and have a whinge to Harry as soon as he hangs up the phone. "Suppose there's no chance of you coming out with me then?"
"I have a son Louis."
"Yeah?" Louis says and Liam sighs, running a hand through his hair.
"I have a son who I have to get to school at half eight tomorrow morning, so I really need to sleep."
Louis sighs on the other end, the sound translating as a rough crackle through the phone. "Fine," he says. "But I want to see you properly. Can we do lunch tomorrow or something?"
Liam feels his heart rate pick up and he hates it that his body still does this, betrays him in the worst way by making him feel things that he really shouldn't. Not when it's been six years and at least three relationships since he was enamoured with Louis. "Louis – " he starts and Louis cuts him off.
"Just as friends, I swear. There will be no groping under the table or hand holding or lingering stares or any of that bullshit the two of us used to be into. Okay well maybe there will be a little groping."
Liam laughs and runs a hand over his face, smiling a bit because Louis really hasn't changed and he wouldn't have it any other way. "Text me where you want to meet and I'll see you at half twelve," Liam says and he can almost see the way Louis' eyes crinkle when he giggles gleefully.
"I'm staying with Zayn and Ant by the way," Louis says happily and Liam smiles, he'd figured it would work out like that. Just because he and Louis haven't been in contact much at all since the band disbanded, didn't mean that he hadn't maintained a good friendship with the other boys in the band. Liam knows for a fact that Louis has been over to Ireland to visit Harry and Niall a few times and they've visited the States to see him too.
"Okay," Liam says. "Maybe we should – "
"Get the five of us together?" Louis finishes and Liam smiles.
"Yeah, exactly. Might be nice."
"Sounds good Li." There's a pause and Liam thinks Louis is going to keep talking but then he just sighs. "I'll let you get to bed," he mumbles and Liam frowns.
"Thanks," he says quietly before bidding Louis goodnight and hanging up the phone.
He's on his feet immediately, making his way towards the guest room where Harry and Niall are staying and praying that the two of them are still awake and not partaking in any indecent activities because God knows that walking in on your two band mates fucking once in his lifetime was certainly enough to last. He can see a soft light filtering through the bottom of their door and sighs in relief because it means they're still awake and probably not fucking.
He smiles when he knocks on the door and opens it. Niall is sitting up against the headboard, glasses that he's needed for two years sliding down the end of his nose while he reads a thick book. Harry is curled around him, head on his chest and a hand stroking long fingers against Niall's hipbone where he's pushed the blonde's shirt up a little.
"You two are disgusting," Liam says with a laugh and Harry lifts his head up, grinning cheekily as Niall puts his book down.
"Disgustingly adorable, right?" Harry says and Liam shrugs, conceding the point.
"So, Louis and I are getting lunch tomorrow," he says, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Good thing?" Niall asks, taking off his glasses and wiping them on his sleeve before setting them down on the bedside table.
"I don't know," Liam says pathetically and falls back onto the bed. He sees Harry and Niall exchange a look and he tries to glare at them, but fails a bit because his feelings are all over the place.
Harry eventually sighs and shuffles down the bed a bit, kicking at Liam the way someone would if they were nudging an animal on the side of the road to see if it were alive.
"Stop being a dick," Harry says and Liam groans again, not opening his eyes. "Seriously Liam, just go have lunch with him."
"And talk about what?"
"I don't know," Harry deadpans. "Maybe anything but the fact that you're quite obviously still a goner for him and would like to marry him and have lots of sex and grow old together?"
Liam sits up and frowns at Harry. "That is so not what is going through my head Harry. I'm not in love with Louis, I just don't know how to talk to him anymore because I haven't in six years."
"Also maybe because you're in love with' him," Niall supplies and Liam laughs exasperatedly.
"You're both dicks and I don't know why I'm friends with you."
"We live to make you realise what you're missing out on," Harry says with a grin while Niall laughs and kisses Harry on the cheek happily.
"You're useless. Ollie would give better advice." Niall snorts at Liam and turns in to Harry to kiss him properly and Liam takes a moment to be jealous of the perfect relationship that the two of them have. "I'm going to bed."