The show ends, as shows do, and the boys leave, as boys do.
Niall is furiously texting Zayn, who is still lost to them in the crowd. Louis feels shaky and uncomfortable, the crush of people suddenly becoming too much, even as it thins out. Harry is taking no notice of him, deep in discussion with Liam and Danielle about the best parts of the show.
They eventually find Zayn, who is standing by the merchandise table by himself and smells of cigarettes. No one asks any questions about his night.
They say good bye to Liam and Danielle in the parking lot, with promises to meet up in Banff.
The drive is Calgary is noisy. Niall and Harry are in the backseat, feeding off each other’s excitement until neither Zayn or Louis can get a word in edgewise.
Louis keeps turning around to watch the ensuing chaos. He just wants to be included in the laughter, and more than that, if he’s being honest, he wants to be the cause of it.
This isn’t new. Sometimes, upon meeting a new person, Louis will develop what he has settled on calling a “friend crush”. It’s an infatuation that closely resembles the roller coaster of romantic interest: the sheer joy at being noticed, to the fear of never becoming close.
It’s hard to be calm when you’ve put so much pressure on yourself to be likable, to be worthy of another’s attention. But Louis has picked up a few tricks from the drama kids over the years, the most impressive being a near perfect poker face.
Louis is rudely woken up at the crack of dawn (okay, maybe it’s closer to noon) by Niall tackling him off of his bed. Louis can’t retaliate this unprovoked attack, his arms pinned by the covers that he’s somehow swaddled himself in during the night.
“Top of the mornin’ to ya, lad! Happy feckin’ birthday, mate!”
Of course, Louis thinks. Of course.
Monday morning, Louis wakes up with an unreasonable amount of energy. When he looks at the clock, it’s only 7 AM. Niall and Zayn, having made good on their intentions to go to the bar, are still sleeping, and unless Louis changes all of the clocks in the apartment, he’s not too sure that they’d appreciate being woken up right now.
He contemplates this for a second, but eventually resigns himself to the fact that he’s going to have to entertain himself for the next few hours.
This proves harder to do than he thought.
The first week passes in a blur.
Louis does eventually make it to the grocery store, which is an adventure in itself. Niall is quite literally a kid in a candy store, except that he doesn’t discriminate and loves all food equally. Louis doesn’t think he’s ever met someone who can wax poetic about processed cheese, but Niall can and does. This may have something to do with the fact that everything is just so bloody expensive out here, and real cheese is started to look like a luxury. Louis mostly makes do with meals like macaroni with tuna thrown in, and maybe some pesto if he’s feeling especially gourmet.
As for work, well, it’s not particularly exciting. Louis’ official job title is “bell desk attendant”, but really what this boils down to is being a runner for each and every type of errand that a guest (or anyone else) can think up. He doesn’t resent it, it’s nice to interact with people and god knows he’s never bored, but sometimes he feels he would gladly welcome back a bit of boredom if it meant being able to sit down for a moment.
When Louis wakes up, it’s 4 AM. He’d fallen asleep at an early hour for his current time zone, his body evidently still on the Greenwich meridian. As tired as he is now, his body persists in believing its circadian rhythms, which are saying that it’s late morning. Louis has two pieces of evidence that prove that this is a blatant lie: the time displayed on his alarm clock, and the view from his bedroom window.
His room isn’t much, and he’s back to sleeping in the provided single bed, a tragedy after having been reunited with his queen at home, but there’s nowhere in Banff that escapes having a view. From what he can see, cocooned in his duvet, it’s still dark, and a mist has settled in, which catches the street’s lights and reflects it eerily. The mountains have disappeared into the low lying clouds, and Louis is surprised at how shocked he is at this. It’s not like he’s be used to seeing them, but when something that should be so obvious is completely concealed, it’s enough to make anyone upset.
He needn’t have worried. When he finally, finally gets off the shuttle and hikes the ten minutes up to the dorms, Louis almost immediately encounters his room mates. He’s been expected of course, but these two seem to have worked themselves up into an absolute frenzy about his arrival.
He’s only just received a set of keys and finished signing all the paperwork, and as he rounds the corner down the hall from the office, his massive backpack collides with a blond boy who seems to bounce off the floor as soon as he lands on it.
It’s summer. It’s summer and Louis’ adventure has finally begun.
He has just flown across the world for a student summer job. After a month and a half of final exams, he had spent a week at home with his family, god bless them, before picking up and leaving again.