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i’m afraid of americans

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Hi y’all! This is a re-write of “There Were So Many Sunflowers!” Because I hate that fic! It’s so bad! 


Anyways, this is a story about two people who live in the nice part of town. Enjoy. 


There are many ancient stories about people going on journeys; failing, succeeding, getting beheaded, getting tortured, getting stoned, being drawn and quartered, being enchanted by a talking animal, being cursed by a higher power or deity, conquering an empire, losing to an empire and becoming a slave—you name it. Zayn Malik’s family has done it all. One of the many perks of being part of an esteemed family is that nearly every one of your ancestors were educated and cocky enough to write about themselves. 

Although, it never really made sense to him as to why all of his ancestors did such cretin-like things, one of his personal favorites being how his great great great grandfather contracted syphilis and prescribed himself powdered mercury in his tea. But others ended up being his personal heroes, like Aisha, his great great great great great great grandmother who defied her father and secretly gave herself an education with the help of their castle’s librarian. 

He had never imagined himself to be someone that shared the blood of these people, because often times than not, reading about a historical figure always seemed so displaced. Of course you aren’t related to the Queen, or Genghis Khan, and when you read about it, it doesn’t ever feel like anyone is. He did, however, feel so fortunate that his generational wealth meant that he was one of the richest omegas in the world. 

So was his neighbor, Louis. And Niall, two houses over. And Liam, three houses over. In fact, all the richest people in London lived on the very same street, and perhaps that was another cretin-like idea that their ancestors came up with; the heaviest concentration of jewels and safe money in the entire country within the same five mile radius. 

Another thing that Zayn had never imagined himself to end up being is a person who’d agreed to an arranged marriage. 

Thing is, this apparently was a thing fated in the stars. The last scandal surrounding the British elite had to do with rumors of inbreeding and how the aristocratic bloodlines have been marinating within each other for the past several centuries. Although this may be true for the Royal Family, Zayn’s mother had personally made it her own crusade to conduct a series of genealogy experiments and historical studies to confirm that there was only a minor amount of incest that occurred within their family in the 14th century. Thanks, mum. 

So naturally, another thing that mum’s lawyers did was to find a family that had absolutely no relation to the Maliks and set up an arranged date or pair to prove something to the press that they can, in fact, have genetic diversity. Disgusting business, Zayn thought it, but unfortunately, he was picked in the unlucky lottery to go about on a date for the press with a poor sod. 

“He’s American? Why?” 

“Do you know the chances of you even being minutely related to someone of good breeding in England?” Her words nearly made him throw up. “Even if it’s a mere 0.001% blood relation, the press will go into a frenzy. The Styleses are filthy rich and have lived in North America for the last two centuries, don’t you think I chose well? He’s not bad to look at, look, he’s got nice teeth; he’s from Los Angeles.” 

“Mum, if you ever say the word “breeding” again—“ 

“Don’t be so sensitive about it, we’re all animals here, Zayn. Hamsters procreate with their own children—“ 

“MUM!” Zayn shrieked, jumping up and down into the ear with his hands covering his ears. “No, just no. That’s a no. That’s a fat no. Goodbye. Good day.” He left the room, nearly running into one of the housekeepers dusting off the mantle. 

“I’m so disgusted, I’m going to vomit,” Zayn waved his hands around his sister, who was sitting on the stairs cackling. “I’m seriously going to vomit.” The printed picture of his suitor flew from his hands and danced through the air, and right before it hit the ground did Safaa catch it and tilt it upwards. 

“Woah, he’s not too bad, actually. Don’t you think ‘Malik-Styles’ has a nice ring to it, Zaynie-kins?” 

“Mum should’ve dumped you into the Thames when she had the chance,” He hissed, feeling like something was crawling underneath his skin. 

“Oh, hush, you,” Safaa wisely turned the portrait around, “Do you like what you see, Catherine of Aragon?” 

“Stop, I don’t want to think about Henry’s wives right now.” Zayn pressed the side of his fist to his mouth. 

“He’s handsome, for sure. And he’s your age, an alpha, 6’2”, dowry estimating…1.1 billion dollars—hey Zaynie, how do you convert pounds to dollars?” 

“It shouldn’t matter at that number, Saf, billions is a connotative equalizer in any currency.” 

“You’re wrong. A billion pence is…ten million pounds, you’re right, you’re definitely right.” Safaa raised her eyebrows in realization. “Does this mean you’ll be richer than me, Zaynie? When you marry him?” 

“No one’s marrying anyone!” Zayn screamed to the ceiling. “This isn’t the 18th century, I’m not to be carted off to some lord so that I can give him pups and move forth the bloodline.” 

“Quite right, but it does seem like you’re not going to be given too much of a choice, unless you want to join a convent,” 

“Convents are only for women, Saf.” 

“My point is made.” 

Zayn groaned, “This is a nightmare.” 

“Well, my dear brother, perhaps this is just divine punishment for amounting to nothing at this point in your life—“ 

“You little shit,” 

And perhaps this will set forth a new moral honor code that you might abide to in your coming years of cheating the stock market and fattening your trusts with ongoing industrial investments, because that what all us blue bloods do when we don’t deserve our money.” Safaa drew a mustache on the Styles boy’s face with a sharpie just as Zayn threw his slipper at her head. 

“So you’re not even gonna look at him?” 



“How archaic,” 

“Is that all you have to say, Harry?” Gemma looked more aghast about the situation than he did. “You should be fighting back! You’re not some kind of science experiment.” 

“I’m above this, Gemma dear, we all are. Just let it be. I’ve had to return home anyways, grandma gets antsy when I don’t call,” Harry slapped his book shut, deciding that there was too much noise for him to read. 

Gemma shifted and turned around in her seat. “Should I have a word with mom about this?” 

Harry shrugged, back turned to her. “You can do whatever you’d like, Gem.”

“One of these days, you’ll crack, Hazza, and it won’t be pretty. I’ll have my Nikon out.” Gemma shook her head, she was someone who wore her Loubotins inside, she was not one to be modest about her personal success at winning the lottery of life.

Harry stopped in his tracks. “Gem, it’s harmless, and it’ll make mom happy. Stop being so annoying about it and learn to follow directions for once in your life. After all, I heard he wasn’t bad to look at.” 

“You’re a secret sociopath, you know that? A person can’t be this calm with so many ulterior motives under his belt.” Gemma sighed, turning back around. 

“You’re wrong, Gem. I’m not calm, I’m just not cracking.” Harry laughed in a way that signaled his disbelief, footsteps light and feathery down the hallway. 


“Love, you’re doing it again, stop it, stop,” Yaser scolded, tapping at Zayn’s hands. “Trisha, look at what he’s doing.” 

“Stop ripping up the paper, Zayn, you’re completely fine and safe.” Trisha told her son, who had been ripping up the picture of the illustrious Styles boy in a nervous fit. This was the second stage of the paper’s life purpose, you see. The first was for Zayn to compulsively fold it and twist it around. 

He felt Yaser rub his head, so he turned to look at him. His dad smiled, head beckoning to the outside of the car. “Well, go on, then. I reckon you have about an hour or two before you have to meet at the hall.” 

Zayn stuffed the pieces of paper into his pocket and shimmied out of the car, excitedly leaping back in to give his father a kiss. 

“Where’s my kiss?” Trisha asked in a half-joking, half-expectant manner. Zayn smiled sarcastically at her before spinning around and running to the university library. 

Books. If there was anything that didn’t succeed in completely boring or making him incapacitated, it’d be his ability to read books. Ever since he was a child, he had been studying and reading any book he could get his hands on, and it was almost like he’d disappear for a few hours before returning to life. 

His parents, bless them, were always intellectual aristocrats, which apparently were the worst ones to be, and having donated millions of pounds to this specific university as gratuitous alumni gave Zayn and his sisters the ability to use any of their facilities. Doniya is a violinist, Waliyha is an engineer, Safaa is a dancer, but Zayn? Perhaps his gift was writing, everyone had always told him so. But in fact, he loathed writing, and it was obvious that he would much rather pay someone to write him more books to read. 

Today’s adventure consisted of American Literature, an area of expertise that he had not yet mastered the music of.

His recent project was a book called Native Son by Richard Wright, so per usual, he greeted the librarian receptionist and made a beeline for the literature, past all of the computers and chatting colleagues and noise

Another thing, Zayn hated noise. 

There was a special corner that he’s been sitting in for the last five years, loved to the point that it never needed dusting and the curtains never needed to be shut. Zayn loved the sunlight hitting his skin as it illuminated the ink blots on each page, and when he was truly zoned out and lost in another dimension, those few seconds of the sound of pages turning by were the only things reminding him that he was part of the real world. 

Imagine the shattering it caused when he strolled up the path that he could walk through with his eyes closed and saw someone sitting in his corner. Sitting in his corner. With the curtains closed? Preposterous. Zayn ought to send this cretin-like stranger a piece of his mind. 

“Uh,” was all that came out. 

The cretin’s head tilted upwards. “...Hi?” 

Zayn blinked furiously as he thought of a next move, feeling quite adamant in his feelings of dire emergency to get this stranger out of his seat. 

The cretin—man, alpha, was really handsome, and that was also distracting. In an instant, the alpha’s scent wafted through the air and hit him like a million aquarium stones all at once. “Uh,” 

“Sorry,” The man seemed to get it. “Is this your seat?” 

Zayn nodded with his lips pressed tightly together. He’s American. Zayn didn’t know what to think anymore. 

The alpha smiled at him like he had just seen something rare, and when he stood up, it could’ve well knocked Zayn back a few aisles down with that scent he had. Perhaps it smelled rotten. Yes, it smelled rotten. Not like the jasmine and cedar trees that his mind was tricking him into thinking it was. 

“You’re reading Native Son! I was looking for that,” His voice sounded funny, and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. “I’m Harry…?” The alpha bent down to peer up at Zayn’s face. The action made Zayn’s heart beat fast and desperate in its chest, as if it wanted to lunge at the guy—Harry and tell him all the pulling but off-putting things Zayn’s noticed about him within the last thirty seconds. 

“‘M Zayn,” He replied after swinging his head to the side, cheeks burning. “You…you read Wright?” God, that sounded dumb. 

Harry threw his head back and laughed, as quietly as he could, nodding his head. “Of course I read Wright! I’m an American sitting in the American Literature section. That’s like asking a British person if they’ve ever read Dickens.” 

“I love Dickens,” Zayn admitted, and Harry smiled even wider. He was a very smiley guy. “Did you…do you want to read it?” He handed the book over, which is something that he has never done in his entire life, and in horror, he watched his own hands betray his traditions, Harry’s hands moving gently to take the book into his. 

“Are you an omega? That’s probably a dumb thing to ask, but back in L.A, almost everyone wears scent blockers so I’m not really sure who smells like what anymore,” Harry chuckled, one eye shutting as he ruffled his own hair in embarrassment. “I’m an alpha.” 

“That’s obvious.” 


Zayn’s eyes fluttered. “You smell like an alpha, I could smell you from six feet away.” 

Harry frowned a little, looking a tad confused as he sniffed his own shirt. “I thought I sprayed a crap ton this morning, though. That’s a bit strange. Well, uh, sorry for taking your seat.” He motioned to the corner behind him, and Zayn just nodded awkwardly. 

He thought he was going to collapse, hardly ever meets new people on his own volition, and to think that he was acting in ways that were unheard of in his character was already distressing on its own. “So, how come you’re in the U.K?” 

Harry seemed a little surprised that Zayn wanted to keep the conversation going. “I’m visiting colleges, you see. I’m planning to earn a doctorate, and you can usually tell the quality of a school by their library.” 

“I’d agree with that. Are you liking it here?” Zayn asked innocently, and there it was again, that look where Harry looked like he’s discovered something rare. “And yeah, I’m an omega. I don’t typically wear scent blockers, it’s a rule I have to live by.” 

“That’s stra—I’ve never heard of that before. May I ask why?” Harry was very polite, and Zayn was ten minutes into his library visit and he was still standing and talking. The sun was about to fall into the earth, for sure. 

Zayn licked his lips and gulped, eyes darting to anywhere but directly into Harry’s pupils. “My family…they see it crude to hide our statuses. In multiple interpretations of the word. Maliks, we call ourselves. I’m Zayn Malik.” 

Harry’s expression shifted smoothly from one of confusion and fascination to one of total realization. “I’m Harry Styles.” 

It still didn’t register in Zayn’s mind what the implications were of exchanging each other’s last names. All he knew, bless his heart, was that Harry’s face was vaguely familiar. “It’s nice to meet you. Sorry, but I’m itching to get back to what I was doing,” was that rude? 

“Ah, I’m sorry,” Harry seemed flustered, which Zayn didn’t understand. “Uh, actually, keep this. I’ll feel bad to take this from you. Is there any way I can find another copy?” 

“This library has a lot of their books underneath the ground, see those machines there? They’re large robotic arms that grab your book for you. I’m sure you can find something there.” Zayn offered, and Harry smiled and thanked him, walking away languidly and so fluidly he would have mistaken him for a royal. 

He fingered the edges of Native Son, instinctively (not yet compulsively) trying to smooth out the creases and folds, wondering what just happened and how the logistics must have worked in order for him to have ended up in what just happened. 

He blinked a few more times, just until the jasmine and cedar trees left the air, and he went back to his usual corner. 

He loved to tuck his feet up and rest his books on his knees when he read, so he did so. 

But of course, the designer slacks he was dressed in gave no leeway for whatever was inside their lining, so when he bent his knees, the pieces of paper he was ripping up in the car slipped out and hit the carpeted floor. Littering was a sin, so he scrambled back down to pick them up, and that’s when it hit him, just as he began to fit them back together like puzzle pieces. 

“That’s an eye, two eyes. Well, that’s good, a person should have two eyes. Hair. Hands. Wait.”  

He looked up, and past the computers, chatting colleagues, and rows and rows of archaeology textbooks, a man wearing a long dark coat and smelling of a mystical forest was conversing with the library receptionist. 

“Styles. Fuck,” He slapped his forehead. “I’m a doorknob.” He threw away the trash and left the book on the window sill, speed walking with as much intent he’s ever had whilst walking. “Uh, Harry!” 

“Shhh!” Engineers, professors, and Rachel the Receptionist hissed at him. But all Harry did was turn around. 

“It’s a bit funny,” He said before Zayn could even utter a word. He beckoned to follow him out the doors. “I thought we were supposed to meet at the hall in an hour. What a coincidence that our first impressions were laid right now.” 

“First impressions?” Zayn squeaked, having walked too fast for his comfort. “I’m sorry, I was so rude, I didn’t recognize—“ 

“I was being presumptuous in thinking that you would, it’s my fault. I’m the one who should be sorry.” Harry stopped him in his tracks. “What made you figure it out?” 

Zayn looked down at his fingers, picking at the skin around his nails half-heartedly. “They gave me a headshot that I ripped up, it was in my pocket.” 

Harry snorted, “That sounds about right.” 

“Did they give you a picture of me?” Zayn asked, and Harry nodded. 

“I glimpsed at it,” They continued to stroll down the courtyard side by side. “I didn’t study it, though. That would be creepy.” 

“Ah,” Zayn laughed softly. “Did I, did I muck this up?” 

“‘Muck,’” Harry’s eyes crinkled fondly. “You are very British. And no, you didn’t ‘muck’ anything up. In fact, you’re already much better than I thought you’d be.” 

“We don’t have to get married,” Zayn blurted a little aggressively, as though he was trying to force an answer right into Harry’s mouth. “Uh, we don’t have to do anything at all, y’know?” 

Harry paused, but he seemed to understand. “Yeah, I agree. But let’s just pretend that we haven’t met yet for now.” 

“My mother will throw a fit, she can be very Victorian sometimes. It’s inappropriate for me to be going around having secret little rendezvous with Alphas.” Zayn informed him, and Harry had fun listening. 

“It’s the 21st century! Are you really saying that you have no alpha friends?” Harry teased. “Could we never be friends, then?” 

“I don’t have many friends,” 


“Yeah,” Zayn’s hair got in his face, and he frantically shoved it about. Harry tried to pretend like he didn’t notice. “I think you’re a surprise, if you were wondering. Erm, since you said that I’m already much better than you expected. ‘Cause I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything at all—“ 

“I like the way you say that. It sounds really good coming from you. Sorry if that seems like I’m sensationalizing you or…anyways, sorry, please continue.” 

“I wasn’t expecting anything, and if I’m being honest, I think you’ve already surprised me in ways that no one ever has.” 

Harry had no idea what he was going to say to that. He sucked in a sharp inhale, “So, you love books, huh?” 

“Yeah, I’m planning on getting a doctorate in Literature.” Zayn said in a giggle. “Kind of blue-blood of me, huh?” 

Harry couldn’t tear his eyes away. “Nah, just the right amount of blue-blood. How old are you, you seem really young to be going after a PhD.” 

“Same goes for you. I’m 20. I graduated early so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree early.” Zayn was getting a little tired from all this walking, and Harry noticed; he was so good at noticing, and led them to a bench to sit. 

“I’m 20,” Harry said it like it was the most amazing thing in the world. “I graduated high school early too, that’s so weird. I’ve never met anyone who’s practically going the same path as me.” 

“What are you planning to study?” 

“Anthropology,” Harry explained. “I guess we’re both very blue-blood and taking much advantage of our privilege.” 

Zayn giggled at that, and that’s when Harry decided he wanted to keep saying funny things to hear it again and again. 


“The three books shows a lot about the techniques of perspective that Wright uses, like how Bigger’s point of view is so limiting that even the reader feels the need to shut out the other characters and forget how they are also people,” 

“Because we’re so focused on all the things Bigger does and feels, you’re exactly right.” Harry continued when Zayn faltered, smiling in encouragement. “I think Flight has to be my favorite book, just because of all the emotions it made me circulate through. Sometimes, maybe that’s the only point to books, y’know?” 

“Yeah,” Zayn whispered. “I getcha.” 

People passing by were looking at them weirdly. 

“I’ve never met a British person who was this invested in American Literature, I feel almost flattered, somehow.” Harry joked, and Zayn blushed. “What’s your favorite American book?” 

“It’s called Pachinko.” Zayn stated without a moment of hesitation. “It’s not necessarily an American narrative, but it’s written by an American, and it’s absolutely fantastic. I read it in an hour, it’s over 500 pages; I read it in an hour.” He emphasized, a small part of him feeling proud when Harry looked impressed. 

“I guess that means I’ll have to read it.” 

No one has ever taken Zayn’s opinion this seriously before, and he didn’t know how to feel about it.

“What the hell,” he vocalized, and Harry blinked at him in confusion. “I mean, ugh, sorry, that was so weird—uh, well, it was just—shit. No one ever really talks to me about this stuff, and you just really surprised me just now.” 

Harry blushed, and Zayn noticed. They looked away for a moment, training their eyes on literally anything but each other. Both weren’t exactly smooth and saucy, but neither could deny that they were intrigued. 

Zayn smelled so good, Harry almost couldn’t breathe. 

Like body wash and shampoo, amongst other things. 

He was usually a better poet than this. 

“Hello?” Zayn stretched upwards so that he could be back in Harry’s view. “You blanked for a second there.” 

“Did I?” Harry looked red horrifically red, he was sure, but Zayn didn’t seem to notice or mind. 

“You smell very nice,” Zayn blurted out loud, and Harry’s head snapped back towards him. “Like, jasmines and being forced to camp outside.” 

“I didn’t know ‘being forced to camp outside’ was a scent,” Harry snorted, amused by this tiny, loud but skittish creature. 

“I didn’t know either, ‘till now.” Zayn ended with that, and it went silent again. 

“You smell nice too.” 

“Huh?” Zayn’s head snapped so suddenly he cracked it. 

“May I?” Harry’s hands moved, and Zayn’s head nodded on autopilot. His right hand gently touched the side of his jaw, tilting it, and his head moved towards his neck at an alarming pace. 

Zayn was paralysed, this was the farthest an alpha had ever touched him in his entire life, and maybe it was just him being theatrical, but it felt intimate. Harry’s breath ghosted over the sensitive place in the conjunction of his head and shoulder. “Oranges. Ha.” 

The words were hot on his body, and Zayn whimpered when he felt a small amount of slick make its presence known in his pants. 

Harry pulled back in surprise, and when Zayn finally realized what had happened, his whole body stiffened up and he leaped up. “Erm,” 

Harry coughed and stood up as well, hands flying to his pants to wipe off their clamminess. “Um,” 

“Sorry.” They said in unison, and before anything else could be awkwardly stated, phones rang. 

“Hello?” Zayn’s croaked, cheeks flaming and feeling a bit humiliated. 

“Hello?” Harry was sweating. 

“In the hall?” They both asked, looking over at each other in shock. “Okay, I’ll be there.” 

They hung up, and it was when Zayn decided to go ahead first, walking so quickly it literally just looked like a jog. 

Harry just blinked and watched him go, feeling as though he had just ‘mucked’ everything up. 


“Jaan, are you okay?” Zayn was in his dad’s lap, clutching his shirt dramatically in his fist and right ear pressed against his chest. “Did something happen?” 

“He’s not talking, goodness,” Trisha bent down to Zayn’s level, wiping his face firmly with her thumbs. “Sweetheart, they’ll be here any minute.” 

“This is too much, Trish, not even as a possibility. We don’t want to send jaan into a panic,” Yaser sighed, pressing his lips to the side of Zayn’s head. “We’re sorry, it’s okay. It’s not serious, and we can work it out.” 

“‘M okay,” 

“What was that?” 

“I’m okay,” Zayn mumbled a little louder, “I swear.” 

“Oh, okay?” Trisha blinked at him, surprised by the answer. “You sure, my love?” 

“Mhm,” Zayn nodded, getting up off his dad’s lap and standing on his own. “‘M nervous, is all.” 

“That’s alright,” Trisha kissed his cheek just as the doors opened. Zayn froze when he heard his father inhale loudly behind him, turning around to see his brow furrowed in concentration. 

“Oh,” Yaser said calmly, looking right at Zayn with a twinge of a smile. “Interesting.” 

“Hello, so nice to meet you, my name is ——— and I represent the Styles family.” An attorney led with his hand, shaking Trisha’s first before Yaser’s. 

“Hi, I’m Harry,” Harry smiled warmly, teeth so bright they screamed riches. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” 

“The pleasure is all mine,” Trisha smiled, so easily impressed, judging by the way she turned her head back and waggled her eyebrows at Zayn. “Thank you for helping us. It’s been quite a shock.” 

“If anyone were to ask me, which no one did, I’d say that my lovely wife has blown this lightyears out of its proportion.” Yaser jokes, resulting in a light slap to the arm. 

“I mean,” Harry tries, “I understand the concern.” 

“You’re too kind,” Yaser pats him on the back. “This is Zayn, but you probably already know that.” 

“Hello,” Harry smiled at Zayn, a hand outstretched. “I’m Harry.” 

“Hi,” Zayn took it gingerly and shook, eyes darting up and down from his gaze. 

“Goodness, you are so quick to quip, aren’t you. Do you really think that shallowly of me? Come over here,” Trisha whispered to Yaser, looking up at him like the fiery little woman she was. “Let me explain.” 

“You see, this worked out for our moms for lots of reasons,” Harry started, trying to grab Zayn’s attention, which, to be fair, was not an easy task. “Our wealth is purely generational, and stems from our English great-godmother, who raised my dad after my grandma passed away. Technically, we are her adopted family, and recently she has proposed an ultimatum in light of her...senior years.” 

“The ultimatum was?” Zayn realized that they were still holding hands, so he quickly let go. 

“I used to spend every single summer here with my god-grandma, really she’s just my grandma, but yeah, it's safe to say I’m her favorite.” 

Zayn giggled, “Oh, nice.” 

“Yeah, but because I haven’t visited enough, she’s threatened to take us all out of the will and cut us off if I don’t find a way to stay in England; close to her. That, and she insisted I have to make a name for myself.” Harry shrugged, “Sounds awful, but there is no better way to achieving all the things you’re ambitious about than marrying a billionaire’s heir.” 

“I understand, money is a very important thing,” Zayn didn’t sound very convincing. Harry looked away and smiled. 

“No, I can tell that you don’t care about money all that much. I don’t either, but it’s mainly the rest of my family I’d do this for.” Harry looked behind him to see Zayn’s parents and his lawyer conversing at the other side of the room, so he turned back to Zayn. “Did your mom really set this all up just because of a rumor that spread that you’re the product of incest?” 

Zayn shrugged, “I don’t understand 90% of her antics. We already disproved it, but once she sets her mind to something…” He scratched the back of his head. “Silly question, but would you bring me lots of books? I’ve recently been enthralled by Harlem Renaissance literature,” 

Harry smiled again like he’s found something rare. “Of course.” 

“Well, then I suppose we could hang out.” Zayn smiled. “Or something, I dunno. Or not. That’s fine too.” 

“Let’s just…see where this goes?” 

“Yeah, let’s.” They agreed upon it. “I think you’re pretty cool already,” was said in perfect unison. 



Chapter Text

London is disgusting. At least, this side of London is. 

A side that no tourist ever sees when they visit, and locals don’t casually swing by. The streets reek of piss and the birds die while flying, but at the Advantage, the birds spin in a haze of smoke and sin. 

“Hi, Char. You’re pretty early today,” One of the waitresses inquired, giving Chartreuse a wave. “Extra shift?” 

“——— asked me to cover for her, so she's splitting the pay with me. Plus, that one white boy usually shows up today.” Charlie set his things into his locker and immediately began to strip just as the fellow employee handed him a freshly pressed outfit and pair of shoes. 

“The filthy rich one? Also, you talk about white boys as if you aren’t one,” The waitress snorted, looking into the mirror behind him and smiling automatically. “Jeez, sometimes I look at you and I can’t move. This white boy’s a lucky guy, catching your attention.” 

“I’m half-white and not passing at all. Therefore, I’m not a white boy. And shut up, I just got a new concealer so it’s just that my bags aren’t as bad,” Charlie chided, curling his eyelashes.” 

The waitress fluffed her hair before turning to him. “Not your nonexistent dark circles, I meant your eye color , Char. You know you’re the prettiest person I’ve ever met? You’ve come here with a black eye and you were still pretty.” 

Charlie scoffed, “You talk about that day all the time. Calling me the prettiest in the room when I covered your clothes in blood is a bit drastic, no?” 

“I’m just glad you got rid of that twat.” 

There was a brief pause. “Well…thanks, Anna. Make lots of money today.” 

“You too, love.” 



“You really didn’t need to get me a present, sir, I—I dunno how I’m going to accept this,” He batted his eyelashes at the suit-clad lawyer, who most obviously had a wife at home and thought he was the shite for being so slick. 

“You can accept it by letting me kiss you,” Arsehole bargained, sounding slithery and conniving. “It was only a few extra pounds more than the last one.” 

Charlie made a show of hesitating before looking up with an innocent smile. “C’mere, daddy.” 

“Fuck yes,” Arsehole laughed, roughly yanking Charlie onto his lap. “On the lips?” 

A head shake. “On the cheek. Maybe a little something down here,” Charlie unbuttoned his shirt to his chest. 

“Aw, don’t be like that, princess.” 

Charlie crooned through a tight smile, “What’s exclusive needs to stay exclusive, no?” 

Charlie shut his eyes when Arsehole immediately went for his chest, biting and licking it like there was no tomorrow. It was kind of disgusting, as if pure greed was currently trying to rip his nipple off. “Mm.” 

“You getting wet?” 

Dry as the Sahara. “Yeah, you always get me all worked up.” 

“Shit, can’t smell you. You should stop wearing scent blockers, maybe get more money that way.”

Charlie rolled his eyes. That’d be a horrendous idea. “Maybe I should; just for you?” His sentence tipped into a suggestive question. “Time’s almost up, I’ll call you a cab. You’ve had a lot of drinkies.” 

“Always treat me so good.” Arsehole whispers as Charlie climbs off of him, giving his butt a squeeze as he escaped the booth. 

“See you next week, daddy,” Charlie kissed his cheek. “I had fun today.” 

“Bye, angel.” Arsehole stumbled out, smelling like scent blockers and another omega’s perfume, which’ll teach him. Charlie hoped that his wife will come to her senses one day. 

“Char, your boy’s been waiting for you,” Anna was balancing the register, only looking up to see the look on his face. “I know, finally, he asks for you.” 

“Shit,” Charlie said under his breath as he made a beeline for the dressing room, quickly fixing his makeup and rebuttoning his shirt, but not before giving himself a scent blocker shower. He finally walked back out, vision going a little bit blurry. “Shit.” 

“Hi,” Cute white boy was sitting at the booth, waiting for him. There was a whiskey on the rocks with such heavy condensation it made a moat around the cup, untouched, unwanted. 

Charlie sat down at the other side, “Hi. Didn’t think this would happen,” 

“I’m Niall,” The alpha outstretched his hand very politely, which has never happened before, they usually grabbed his waist and yanked him immediately. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” 

“No, the pleasure is all mine,” Charlie’s eyelids fluttered unintentionally, his hand being swallowed in Niall’s. “I’ve seen you come to our establishment a lot, but you’ve never asked for one of us.” 

“I watch where I tread before I fall,” Niall shrugged, letting go. “You’ve caught my eye a countless amount of times, and I’ve had rather an awful day today. Is it alright if we just talk?” 

“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Charlie looked away when Niall forced eye contact. His eyes were blue. 

“Your eyes, they’re lovely.” 

“Thank you, yours are as well. How come your day was awful?” 

Niall leaned back to his straight back seated position, inhaling before beginning. “I’m in charge of a few non-profit organizations that have to do with education access for low income children in the U.K. Erm,” He inhaled. “There was a child I personally tutored, I found out that he overdosed a week ago. Granted, he was only a few years younger than me when we first met, but…so I guess we are both children. I lost a friend.” 

“I’m so sorry,” Charlie empathized deeply, so much to the point where his voice cracked in his consolation. “I wish I could say more past that to make this better.” 

Niall smiled small at him, “You’ve already brightened my day just by being here. So—uh, tell me, what do you…” 

“What do I…?” 

“What are your dreams?” Niall squeaked a little, his eyes going a little red. “Sorry, I just felt like you’d tell me something I needed to hear.” 

Charlie was taken aback. “Judging by what?” 

“I dunno,” Niall inquired, his voice was so gentle. “You carry yourself like you’ve lived longer than anyone in this room. And if I’m being honest, I need to be reminded what it is I’m working so hard for.” 

There was silence in the bustling club, the dim yellow lights capturing the structure of their faces as the people and dancers made their way in the world around them. “I want to be curious again.”

“How do you figure?” 

“To be treated like someone who's always thinking, always changing. I feel like a person who changes is a person who gets to grow old.” 

“I like that,” Niall looked down and smiled. “This friend, his name was Charlie too.” 

“Oh, I see.” 

“I hadn’t seen him in so long that when I heard someone call your name today, you turned around and something deep down in me made me think, ‘Yeah. I want to talk to him.’ I’m sorry if this is a more difficult conversation than what you’re used to.” Niall said with such vulnerability it made Charlie’s heart feel like something was shaking it awake.

“I mean, this has never happened to me before, so instead of the conversation being difficult I’m just scared I won’t be able to help you,” Charlie showed him his palms. “Me hands are getting a little sweaty, usually takes me a little longer for my client to get me worked up.” 

Niall chuckled, genuinely smiling at the joke, then actually reached to touch Charlie’s hands. “Nope, you’re all good. You have really nice hands, mine get very cracked at this time of the year.” 

“Thank you,” Charlie almost couldn’t get it out. “I use a hand cream from this brand called Odhran.” 

“That makes me feel silly, because family owns that brand.” They exchanged eye contact just as Charlie lost a hold of his breath. 

“Wait, really?” 

Niall pulled back and shrugged, “Yeah, my gran founded it. She was really passionate about beauty and skincare and all that. If you’d like, I could get some more products for you—“ 

“Oh no no no, I don’t—uh, I don’t accept gifts. Plus, I’ve looked up the prices and it’s much too expensive to accept something like that,” Charlie shook his head, feeling a little winded. “Thank you though.” 

Niall cocked his head to the side, “But I just saw you accept a gift from that man earlier…” 

“Ah,” His face was going red, he could feel it. “It’s just I feel bad, I wouldn’t want to accept the prospect of gifts and stuff when I haven’t even cheered you up yet.” 

Niall inhaled deeply, looking surprised. “Um, yeah, I get it, of course. Uh, what were we talking about again?” He chuckled awkwardly. 

“What do you want out of life, Niall?” Charlie asked, confused as to why the (grand)son of a billion dollar company was in the shittiest part of town, sitting down in a Strip and Host club with him. “I know it’s rude to ask, since I don’t usually, but how come you’re here?” 

“It’s embarrassing. Wait, I misspoke, I’m not embarrassed to be here, I’m embarrassed about how I got here—“ 

“Yes, yes, I get you,” Charlie leaned his chin on his palm. “I wanna know who you are. I wanna know who Charlie was. And I mean it. So tell me how you ended up in the red light district sitting across from a whore with some fucked up eyes.”

Niall looked taken aback, which Charlie felt weird about. Why was it so surprising that someone was trying to console him about the loss of a good friend? Doesn’t he have dozens of people that he could go to? 

‘Well, obviously not, if he’s sitting here talking with me. Stupid.’

Niall stammered, “I don’t mean to make you my manic pixie dream girl.” 

“I can be whoever you want me to be, baby, but you’re hurtin’ right now.” 

“I know what it must look like,” Niall was so nervous Charlie just wanted to wrap him up and hold him until he fell asleep in his arms. “Someone like me coming over here, ‘s almost disrespectful. But I swear I don’t have any of those intentions. It was just one day, my car got stuck on the way home in this area, and—and I saw you walk into the Advantage. It’s creepy, I know, but I just haven’t been able to get the courage or something to talk to you.”

“You know, lots of pretty rich white boys like you come here because it’s a game,” Charlie smiled and shook his head. “All of us who work here, we just play the game, and money is money. So don’t feel guilty about coming into our world as if we didn’t expect you.” 

Niall seemed a little more relieved, but his eyes were beginning to water. “Charlie—uh, the other Charlie, he always used to come over and play those silly board games, shit, sorry.” 

“You can call me Chartreuse. That’s my real name, I know, it’s almost as if I was born to be a stripper. Don’t wanna have you make anyone ‘the other.’ But keep it a secret, okay?” Charlie leaned closer, his body heat radiating with Niall’s. “Just between us.” 

Niall nodded, “By the way, I just wanted to specify that I’m not here for any sexual services, I really just wanted to get to know you.” 

“You think I’m pretty, Ni?” Charlie let the nickname roll off his tongue. “Think my eyes are pretty?” 

“I think you’re beautiful, Chartreuse. Honest. Not just ‘cause of your eyes. I heard others talk about you sometimes when I sat at the bar, talking about how Charlie’s taking over my shift, Charlie’s watching my dog, Charlie’s watching my kid. Charlie lets me sleep.” 

“You must be besotted,” Charlie rolled his eyes playfully, most definitely flattered. Though the statements should have been creepy, they somehow didn’t coming from Niall. “Our bartender is really shit at her job.” 

Niall laughed again, and it made Charlie smile. “But honestly? Now that I’m here, it’s hard to even look at you in the eye, I’m getting all shy and shit.”

“Excuse me?” Charlie blushed. “ I’m the one getting shy here. Since we’re being honest, I’ve been waiting for weeks for you to do something, almost thought you’d never do it. Charlie must’ve been something powerful if it forced you here, right now, with someone like me.” 

Niall cocked his head to the side once more. “What do you mean, ‘someone like me?’ Like an angel?” 

Charlie snorted, “You kidding? I’m no angel, sweet. I may look like one, but trust me when I say that I’ve had my fair share of the devil. You seem angel-like to me.”

Niall stared at him for a second, before smiling softly again, “Can I say something really crazy?” 

“I’ve heard it all before.” 

“You asked what I wanted in life, and here I am, sitting here and feeling like I’m right where I’m meant to be.” 

In that moment, the ice in Niall’s whiskey rolled off of one another, creating a startling sound that made Charlie jump. 

“You don’t mean that, do you?” 

Niall shrugged, “It feels like you’ve already made up your mind about who I am. I think I wanna change that, and shit, that’s the first time I’ve thought that in months.” 

“Does this mean you’re coming back? Our time’s almost up,” Charlie didn’t want him to go, but Niall stood up, fixing his jacket. 

“How much do I owe you?” 

“Consider it on the house, angel.” 

“Do you wear perfume from my gran’s brand too? It smells familiar, is all.” Niall asked a final question as Charlie walked him to the door (which he never does.) 

Charlie frowned slightly, but fixed it, because it was a reflex to never show anything but fake sated-ness when with a client. “I don’t…I don’t wear perfume.” 

“Oh,” Niall said in a puzzled manner, “That’s interesting. Thank you for today—night, tonight.” 

Charlie giggled, “You’re very welcome.” He watched Niall walk away for a few seconds before pushing the door open to yell, “Hey!” 

Niall turned around just as he was about to open his car door. “Yeah?” 

“Do you believe in an afterlife?” 

“My family’s Catholic, but I don’t really.” 

“Well, I do,” Charlie shouted from across the street. “And if you wanna bet on fate, I bet Charlie’s trying to tell you to look back at those board games, if you still have them. ‘Change the game, Ni.’ Tell me next time if I was right.” 

“I will!” 

Niall didn’t come back for a month. 

Charlie waited for Niall to come back for a month. 


Liam was going into rut. Louis could feel it. 

“Sorry babe, tired today,” Liam murmured, snuggling Louis tighter to his chest. “Dunno why.” 

“You’re a day away from your rut, that’s why you’re sleepy.” Louis sighed, looking up at Liam’s half asleep face. “You just got here, and you’re passing out on me.” 

“Sorry,” Liam’s words were already going incoherent. 

They had been dating for six months now, after having been best friends since they were in primary school (and being in love with each other unbeknownst to the other). 

Young, rich, beautiful. They had it all, their parents were best friends, they knew each other inside and out, but one issue remained. 

Louis was 20 years old and still hasn’t had his first heat yet. He’s starting to suspect that he was a beta all along, and if he is, then it’d probably kill him. 

So obviously, every time Liam went into rut Louis thought about it, couldn’t sleep because of it, and sometimes impulsively fasted. 

Liam was a damn angel, a gift sent from God, he’s been raised right, that was the running joke between Louis and Liam’s parents, teasing on just how perfect he ended up despite so many things going wrong in the journey. He was so supportive and understanding with Louis since the very beginning, and there was no doubt in their minds that the other was it for them. 

But was it? Doubt is infectious and no one is immune, because Louis was staring at Liam’s sleeping face with a furrowed brow expression, worrying and worrying his little heart out. 

“I love you, Li. I always will,” he kissed his nose, heart clenching when Liam scrunched up his face adorably in his sleep. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” 

He couldn’t even smell him that well, or produce the amount of slick that he’s supposed to produce, or have a special sensitive spot on his neck, or let off an amazing alpha magnet pheromone. All of his doctors assured him that he was definitely an omega, just stunted for some reason, but will “definitely get back on track soon enough.” 

Soon enough was too ambiguous. Louis calculated that if Liam was forced to spend another rut alone, shit was going to get messy. 

Maybe Liam’ll leave him. That’s always a possibility. 

Speak of the devil, Liam moved to wrap his arms around Louis at the feeling of his heart starting to quicken, and the latter has never wanted to sob more than this moment. 

It was a kind of violence, the universe putting them together. Nearly every day is Louis reminded of his childhood days running through his house or the garden or the street that the house lives on. Then, in these memories, if he peers to his left, Liam is right there with him. 

At some point Louis actually did end up crying. 



“Evening, Char. Mail came in today, I didn’t bother to sort it.” Anna had her reading glasses on, typing away on some official business matters as Charlie walked in through her office. 

“Annie not organizing something? Something is really wrong here,” He joked, leaning in to kiss her cheek. “I don’t think anything’s for me. Can I get my schedule?” 

“Actually, quite a few of them are for you,” Anna looked up, pushing her glasses up. “That’s why I didn’t bother to sort them.” 


Charlie took off his shoes and changed into his comfy ones, shuffling over to the mail bin and taking a look inside. Indeed, there were many more packages than they usually got, and he could clearly see his name jutting out on the biggest one. No return address. 

“Need help?”

“Nah, I got it,” Charlie thanked, dragging the heavy box to the floor and grabbing the letter opener taped to the side of their mailbox. As it tore through tape and mystery, bits of cardboard flew up into the air as particulants. When he finally got through it all, he sighed, dropping the letter opener on the floor beside him as he moved to open the package. 

Inside, it was another mass wrapped with tissue paper, and a letter resting on the top. The letter opener was used for that too, and Charlie sat on his knees as he yanked the card out with little finesse. 

‘I haven’t forgotten, I promise.’ 

Charlie gasped and slapped the note to his chest, feeling for his heart racing. He panted over the box, suddenly overwhelmed with how familiar it smelled, as if he could smell the hands that wrote this letter and wrapped this package. 

“Who’s it from?” Anna asked from her desk, still typing away. 

“Uh,” Charlie was speechless, tearing off the tissue paper to reveal several boxes of Odhran skincare, perfume, makeup, and accessories. “Holy motherfucking shite.” 

“Is it from that white boy? What was his name…Niall, was it?” Anna asked, but Charlie didn’t answer, just began to pull out all the different boxes with his heart in his throat, overwhelmed by its silent generosity. 

At the very bottom there was one more box, but it was separately wrapped and much too small to hold any kind of bottle or product, at least in his mind it was. 

Another note attached to the bottom of it. 

‘It felt odd to gift you things I got for free, so when I saw this, I needed you to have it.’ 

Anna finally walked over when he started to frantically rip the gorgeous wrapping paper off, sputtering a laugh at how her friend was surrounded by boxes of luxury. “I guess it is from Niall?” 

“It’s a velvet box, shit, you don’t think he…” Charlie’s hands were shaking. 

“That’s from Tiffany’s, holy fuck. Just what did you let him do, fuck in the booth?” Anna dropped to her knees before it, motioning with her eyes for Charlie to crack ot open. 

He suddenly slapped his forehead with it. “Fuck, I feel so guilty. I didn’t even buy that hand cream, I lifted it.” 

Anna snorted, grabbing the box and cracking it open to see for herself, and the look on her face said it all. “You’ve caught a good one, Chartreuse Axton.” 

She turned it around and there it was, a sterling silver necklace on the left and right side of a tiny round diamond. 

This diamond was colored chartreuse, Niall had spotted his eyes in a field of blues and pinks and prettier greens. 

As Anna helped him fasten it around his neck, Charlie knew that his heart was going to be so, so broken. 


Charlie took a week off from work after that. He had enough sick days as well as collected money from the shifts he handled to do so, because he just couldn’t bring himself to be the host 100%. 

He lounged around in his rattiest sweatpants and let his hair become tangled ringlets cursing his head, face swollen after eating ramen every night at 2 AM. 

Four days in, Anna calls him just as he was about to finish the very last episode of Friends. 

“What the fuck do you want?” He snapped, only just a little peeved. 

“Your boy is here.” 

Charlie’s mouth slammed shut. “Mm, nnghsg, uh, well send him away.” 

“He’s asking for you.” 

“Tell him that I’m dead.” 

“That’s a bit fucking dramatic, don’t you think?” Anna sighed, and Charlie could imagine her rolling her eyes.

“Well, I can’t come in today.” 

“I know, I just called to see if it was okay that I gave him your number and your address.” 

A beat. 

“Annie, what the FUCK—“ 

“—Stop being this useless emo freak that’s shedding ‘angsty teen’ all over my bar. Good luck, have lots of sex tonight.” 

She hung up, making Charlie’s jaw snap shut again at the audacity. Then a text message made his phone jump awake again, and Charlie nearly had a brain aneurysm. 

Unknown number: 

Hi, this is Niall. Annie from the bar gave me your number and your address when I asked if you were there, and she told me to go to you. I figured that it wouldn’t be very appreciated if I just showed up randomly, but I do have something a bit urgent to tell you, so is it alright if I meet you outside your house? 

Charlie began to slam his head on the floor. His hair stank, his apartment stank, his appearance stank, his life stank. 


Hi Niiiiiii 


He nearly fell on his face on a rush to the shower, turning the water on and peeling off his clothes in such a hurry they almost ripped. He didn’t live far from the bar, and if Niall was just at the bar, he must have taken his car to get there, which means he’ll probably use his car to drive to the address that Annie shoved in his face, “I’m so fucked. Fuck, fuck why the fuck did I say yes? Fuck, he’s a motherfucking bitch. No word from him for a bloody month, when he said he’d come back soon. Now what? He’s going to get my hopes up? I’m to be his mistress?” He wailed in the shower, scrubbing at a pace close to lightspeed and ruffling his hair with shampoo and conditioner as if his water was about to run out any second. 

He leaped out, letting out a strangled cry when his toe slammed against the bathroom door, shimmying into something presentable, but not too fancy, but not too shabby either. 

His hair was just going to be wet, it was fine. Everything was fine…no it wasn’t, he turned on the blow dryer and hung his head upside down as he moved the hot air through his scalp. 

Once it looked slightly better, he slapped some face lotion on his face, brushed his eyebrows up, and before putting on lip balm he brushed his teeth and tongue. 

The phone rang once his Nivea balm was capped, and Charlie felt the air become thick. 


“Hi, Charlie.” 

“I thought we agreed to call me Chartreuse,” 

“I figured that I wasn’t going to make you the ‘other Charlie’ either. You should be called what you want to be called.” 

Shit, his heart was jumping. “Are you outside?” 

“I think so,” 

Charlie rushed to the window and cracked his blinds open, and there he was, in his long coat and shiny shoes. “I see you, I’ll be right down.” 


Charlie wondered if it’d be dramatic to knock himself out by falling down the stairs.

His hand turned the knob, and when it opened, his soul yanked higher, as if it wanted to leave. 

“I’m so sorry, I meant to come back sooner,” Niall immediately apologized, which Charlie didn’t understand. Wordlessly, he walked over to him, enticed by his face and his body and scent, his hands ended up on his shoulders. “H—hi.” 

“Hi,” Charlie whispered, he didn’t know what to do. “Thank you for the gifts, it made me really happy.” 

“It made me really happy thinking about you receiving them.” 

“Do you mean that?” Charlie cocked his head to the side, and enjoying him, Niall cocked his head to the side too. 

“I mean that.” 

“You smell so fucking good,” Charlie sobbed, dropping his hands to cover his mouth. “I couldn’t stop fucking thinking about you, always got jumpy when a customer would walk in.” 

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you either,” Niall admitted with honesty, hands fidgeting anxiously. “When I asked you what perfume you wore, you said you didn’t wear any.” 

“I don’t; I wear blockers.” 

“I wore blockers today before coming here.” 

It took a moment to realize what he was trying to say, but when Charlie finally caught on to what he was getting at, his body froze, he closed his eyes. 

“Hi,” Niall suddenly stepped back, making Charlie’s eyes fly back open. “I’m Niall James Horan. I’m 21, I graduated from the University of Edinburgh this year, I’m young and I’m stupid and I know we’ve only talked for an hour but that was all I needed to realize that I am in love with you.” 

“What the fuck,” Charlie laughed through tears, looking up to the night sky like he just couldn’t believe the situation he was in. “I’m Chartreuse Beau Axton. I’m 21, and I’ve been a host at the Advantage for three years. I’m stupider than you, for sure, and shit, we only talked once but I knew you were in the room for weeks before that even if I couldn’t see you.” 

“God, babe,” Niall reached forward and brushed Charlie’s cheek with the side of his index finger. “Look at you.” 

“‘I wanna change how you think of me,’” Charlie mocked as Niall cupped his face, sniffling. “‘I wanna know all your hopes and dreams.’” 

“I want to surprise you,” Niall got closer. “I want to take you out.” 

“Okay, then.” Charlie snapped, wiping his tears away. “Okay.” 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.” 

“It’s not your fault, I just cry a lot,” Charlie yelped in surprise when Niall kissed his cheek and wiped his tears away. “Are we dating? Starting now?” 

“Shit,” Niall was very preoccupied judging by how deeply he’s buried his face into Charlie’s neck. “Did you take a shower? Your scent—it’s even stronger. Fuck.” 

“That’s the first time I’ve heard you curse,” Charlie laughed, wrapping his arms around him. “I want you to come upstairs.” 


Charlie pulled back and their noses touched. “Yeah.” 

Niall went red, his ears becoming pink, and he buried his face back into his neck. “Isn’t it a bit too soon?” 

“If sex is a deep thing for you, we don’t hafta.” 

“I wanna,” 

“I wanna too,” 

Niall giggled, “You’re so fucking beautiful.” 

“And you’re an intellectual, what a pair we make,” Charlie whispered. “Won’t they disapprove, your family?” 

“I don’t think they will,” Niall smiled, “And even if they do, they can’t deny that we have something going on here. If we can smell each other through scent blockers…” 

“I do have to admit that this is very fast, even for me,” Charlie felt Niall’s hands hold his waist and realized that they were swaying on the sidewalk. “But I also want you to know something else, just so we go into this transparent.” 

“‘Course, love.” 

“Shit, don’t call me love, I don’t want to make a puddle in the street,” Charlie said just to make Niall blush and look away. “But anyways, I haven’t been in a relationship for a long time.” 

“How come?” 

“My ex beat me, and it got really bad. I went to one of those free counselling clinics for two years after we got the bastard arrested.”

Niall looked aghast and his bright face suddenly became stormy, “‘We?’” 

“Me and the other dolls at the Advantage. Which is another thing, I’m not stopping my work.” 

“I wasn’t going to ask you to,” Niall surprised him. “See? There it is: that look of surprise on your face.” 

Charlie blinked. “You’d be okay if I kept working as a host?” 

“I only ask that perhaps…maybe you wouldn’t do many things with your clients that I wouldn’t necessarily be keen on.” Niall stammered, not wanting to sound controlling or disrespectful. 

“Angel, you can just ask me not to kiss ‘em, I don’t have to anyways. Nor did I really want to,” Charlie giggled, loving Niall’s expressions right now.  

“I am so happy for you,” 


“That you came out of that with a fighting attitude, I know so many people who never seek out professional help nor even tell their friends,” Niall brushed the hair out of Charlie’s face. “The moon is making your eyes sparkle or something.” 

“Am I in a dream right now?” Charlie raised his eyebrows, and now they were basically slow dancing in the dark. 

Niall scrunched his face up, “ I can’t possibly be your dream.” 

“You’re too fucking modest,” Charlie grumbled playfully, Niall’s hands were warm on his body. “You serious about dating me?” 

“As serious as all the times I walked back into the club just so I could see you. As serious as all those times I wanted to say something to you but couldn’t because your smell would hit me and it made me feel like I was born yesterday.” 

Charlie stopped them. “Lock your car before it gets stolen. Come upstairs.” He grabbed Niall’s hand and began to lead him towards the building.

“Can I know about these one day?” Niall asked, his fingers reaching up to his wrist, and it made Charlie freeze. He was referring to the faint scars littered across from end to end, and although the subject scared him, Charlie turned around. 

“One day,” he nodded, and Niall looked at him with a calmness in his eyes. “Can I know about this one day?” Charlie reached and lightly hovered his fingers over a giant white scar on Niall’s neck, just above his collarbone. 

Niall looked down, blinked a few times at it and looked back up. “One day.” 

“It’s cold out here, and I bet all of my neighbors have seen us dancing like crackheads.” They walked up the stairs together, and when the door shut, it almost felt like another was opened.

“You were right, by the way. I had someone dig out all of the old board games, and when I opened them, it was like Charlie was in there. We had scribbled new rules on the margins of the manuals, scratched our names on the back of the playing boards, there were polaroids in the bottom of the boxes because we took one every time one of us won. It made me remember that Charlie had happy days, and that I can’t ask for much more past that.” 

The wind whispered secrets, and the earth told nothing, but the moon that night was brilliant; and sang to the both of them just about everything they needed to know. 

Chapter Text

Two months later. 

“You’re in my seat again.”

“I thought there would be enough space for two,” Harry shifted, impossibly long legs taking up the entire windowsill, therefore making it impossible for Zayn to sit anywhere. “How ambitious do you feel?” 

Zayn rolled his eyes at him, the four volumes in his arms were getting heavier as they spoke. “You’re getting increasingly ridiculous, Harry Styles. I am not sitting on your lap.” 

“I never suggested it,” Harry flailed the copy of The Good Earth in front of Zayn, “I heard you were looking for this.” 

Zayn frowned, unable to process his feelings on Harry’s attempt at friendly teasing and banter. It didn’t help that he couldn’t do much every time he was around, overwhelming all of his senses and having a grip on his heart every time he fucking smiled. “I’ll read it once you’re done.” 

“But baby,” 

Zayn’s eye twitched. “I’m not your baby.” 

“Won’t you be?” Harry cocked his head to the side, bringing his legs back over so that he could face him straight on. He pointed to the books Zayn was carrying against his chest, “My family is friends with the person who wrote those.” 

“It’s for a project,” Zayn retorted, immediately remembering that Harry knew he wasn’t an actual student at this university. “Uh, personal. It’s a…it’s a hypothesis I’m testing.” 

“I’m intrigued, tell me how I can help.” 

By wearing some stronger scent blockers and avoiding all eye contact with me. 

“It’s an independent project, and I wouldn’t want to keep you from doing your assignments, which I’m sure you have plenty of,” Zayn stammered, his tongue was confused in his mouth and he had no idea how to correct it.  

“Want to get dinner?” 

His eye twitched again, “Uh, I don’t think you’d like me very much. I’m not much fun.” He looked up, losing his breath at the sight of Harry’s face. Fuck. 

Harry awed, “Alright, alright. I get the message, I’ll leave you alone.” He came down from the windowsill, and gently added the copy of The Good Earth on top of Zayn’s pile. “Let me know if you change your mind, you have my number.” 

As he walked away, Zayn set the books down quickly before chasing after him, grabbing his arm in an unexplainable panic, “Harry?” 

“Yeah, babe?” Harry’s voice was low and scratchy, the timbre of a man and the charisma of a woman. 

“How come you’re so intrigued by me?” Zayn tossed his hair, eyes darting up and down to limit eye contact. 

Harry pointed to his face, “Because I noticed.” 

“Noticed what?” 

“How do you not notice?” 

“Notice what ?” 

Harry giggled, shushing him. They were in a library after all. “You’re the most interesting thing in all of England, Zayn Malik. The way I met you, the way you talk, it’s gotten me thinking all the time now that I’m not reading in between the lines enough. I want to get to know you,” 

“You don’t.” 

“And how do you know that?” 

All of Harry’s questions were hard, and when Zayn was faced with hard questions, he shut down. 

So he shut down. 

“I guess I don’t. See you later.” He spun around and walked away before Harry even had time to retort, and he had to have needed a long time, judging by the look of astonishment on his face when Zayn left him standing there. 


“I don’t understand, he looks like a toad in all of these photos.” Louis cackled at him, scrolling through his phone as he rolled around on Zayn’s four poster bed. “But I mean, apart from that, what’s wrong with him? Is he dull or summat?” 

Zayn shook his head, “He’s just weird. Won’t leave me alone.” 

“Like a stalker?” Louis sat up. 

“No,” Zayn furrowed his eyebrows as he concentrated on the page he was reading. “Just…won’t leave me alone up here.” He tapped the side of his head. 

Louis rolled his eyes and snorted, “Sounds like you like him.” 

“That’s preposterous.” Zayn glared in his direction. “What’re you doing here anyways?” 

“You’re my best friend, and I need your help,” Louis crawled over to Zayn, pulling the book out of his hands and setting it to the side. “It’s about Liam.” 

“Again?” Zayn groaned, pouting his lips. “Why is it always about Liam?” 

“He got his rut today,” Louis twiddled his thumbs. “I’m just nervous, is all.” 

Zayn’s face softened and he cuddled up to Louis’ side. “You’ve got nothing to be nervous about. There’s no one that silly boy loves more.” He giggled at Louis’ face of surprise. 

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” 

“Is that supposed to be an insult?” Zayn asked, intertwining their legs. “You know I love you.” 

“You do?” 

Zayn slapped his arse lightly, “That’s not funny. I’m not dense, Louis, I can tell when you get all sad and shite.” 

“But I’m not sad, see? I’m smiling, I’ve got a lovely smile.” Louis grinned, but it was weak, and they both knew it. Zayn squeezed his side, making him flinch and flop. 

“You’ve lost weight.” Zayn commented, looking a bit pensive. 

Louis reached over and grabbed Zayn’s bottle of pills, shaking it around. “And you’ve been skipping days.” 

“Well, out with it, what’s going on with you and Liam?” 

Louis stared at him for a moment, still holding the bottle, but now he was forced to choose what exactly he wanted to push. He set the orange bottle down, and turned to his friend. “I’m scared he’ll leave me, I think.” 


“Because,” Louis looked down. “I’m not real.” 

“Just what the fuck does that mean?” Zayn threw his head back in all of its ridiculousness, rufflin Louis’ hair. “Seems real to me.”

“Don’t you ever think that the way we worked out is weird? We were just friends for what, almost 15 years and then we start dating but we haven’t shared a heat or a rut or nothin?” Louis looked immensely sad, and Zayn didn’t know what to do about it. 

He inhaled deeply before speaking, “Lou, he loves you so goddamn much the force of it makes everyone else leave the room.” 

“Isn’t that the issue? I can’t be what he needs,” Louis looked ready to cry. “And it sounds so stupid, but he’s my entire life, Zaynie, and if I end up being the one who wasted his time, I think I’ll die.” 

Zayn was stunned silent, “What do you mean you’ll die?” 

Two tears ran down Louis’ face, and Zayn immediately reached to brush them off before they fell off of his cheeks. “There isn’t even remotely anything interesting about me, Zaynie, there’s no reason, there’s no reason—“ 

“Louis Tomlinson, you know six languages. You can fence, you can cook, you can sing. You’re funny as shit and if it’s any consolation from me, you’re the only one who’s lasted this long as a friend of mine. I love you because you’re all the things I find interesting, and I’m positive Liam feels the same way.” 

“Zaynie,” Louis’ voice cracked. “Isn’t that the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me?” 

“Maybe, but it was easy this time around because I felt really keen on saying it,” Zayn quickly looked back over to his book and snatched it. “Lou, it’s all going to be okay.” 

“Yeah,” Louis whispered, and fell backwards right onto the bed. “I love you so much, Zaynie, it’s indescribable. I hope I’ll always be your friend. Not even till death do us part, you hear? Forever and ever and ever.” 

Zayn looked over at him with a worried expression, but like most things, he was scared to say more. So he shut down, let the cloud in his mind take back over what he wished was better, and didn’t think at all about how Louis hasn’t gone out into the world for the last two months. 


Things were becoming dire. Trisha and Yaser bought Zayn’s way into the university, and now here he was, actually studying for a test that he actually had, but of course he couldn’t focus because that’s what he was best at: not being able to focus. If only he was able to write his thesis on how he couldn’t focus, what an incredible juxtaposition it all was. 

It was simply impossible, and Zayn just couldn’t do it. He stared at the blinking cursor for a solid minute, unable to even write his name down, his chest felt tight and his temples ached like he’d been clenching his jaw. There was no way he was going to be able to pass this semester, but his parents were adamant on him “finally directing his attention to important things” rather than just eating and reading books all the time. 

Oh, the fidgeting. 

Zayn ripped an entire notebook page out so that he could rip it up into bits, twist the bits together, create spirals, and make it shed into powder. It was one of his many habits, and not too much could be done about that one. 


Zayn immediately rolled his eyes. “Hi.”

Harry pulled up a chair next to him and sat down, “I thought you didn’t go to this school.” 

“I do now,” Zayn picked up his pen and pretended to write something down, but of course, Harry noticed, because that’s what Harry’s best at: noticing. 

“‘I hate my motherfucking life?’” Harry tipped his head, and Zayn got red so quickly that he looked like a smashed tomato. “What’s wrong?” 

“I just can’t do it,” his own answer surprised the hell out of him. “I can’t.” The vulnerability had his soul quaking where it be. 

“Can’t focus?” Harry hit the mark right on time, pushing the pieces of paper Zayn had ripped up on the desk with his right hand. “There are medications for this, you know.” 

“Don’t like taking them,” 

“I take them, and I finished this assignment already.” Harry said confidently, and it was almost frightening that he knew so much based on so little. 

“You’re in this class?” Zayn finally looked at him, which resulted in an expression of triumph. “Uh, I mean, you’re probably just super smart or summat. I’m just a dumbass.” 

“A dumbass who graduated when he was 20?” Harry asked, leaning on the table, blinking at him cutely. “What’s the matter?”

“You smell good,” Zayn muttered under his breath, positive Harry couldn’t hear. 

“Thanks, it’s Gucci.” 

He snapped his head back and flushed red again, indignantly avoiding eye contact, “Erm…the antidepressants I take now don’t react well with the ADD medication, so.” He had no idea why he was telling Harry this, but out it came. 

“How come you ignore me?” Harry pouted, shuffling closer to Zayn. “It makes me feel sad, but then you blush or you smile at me and I get pulled back in again.” 

“You’re just…flirty,” Zayn panted softly, getting overwhelmed with how close the alpha was getting. “And I’m not ignoring you. I’m talking to you right now, see?” 

“I’m not quite satisfied,” Harry tilted his chin up with his big, warm hand. “Let me look at you.” 

“People are going to think we’re dating.” 

“Isn’t that the whole point?” Harry raised his eyebrows, “You’re a true beaut Zayn Malik, you know that?” He asked, shaking his head slightly. “There’s no way that I’ll stop trying to understand you.” 

“But why? Aren’t you tired, Harry?” Zayn finally pulled away to type his name in the corner of the white page, heaving a sigh when he couldn’t even remember his professor’s name to write under. “It’s been two months, haven’t you concluded by now that I’m boring and uninspired?”

Harry closed his laptop and spun Zayn around, stopping him when his whole body faced in his direction. “It’s been two months and you’ve already shut down. It seems to me that I must be the one who’s boring and uninspired. I think I really like you, Zayn, and I want this to work out.” 

“You want my money and my status, Harry,” Zayn replied shakily, deflecting with all his might. “It doesn’t make sense for you to…” He sniffled, stuffing his laptop into its case. 

“For me to what?” Harry looked up at him, held his wrist in his hand. 

Zayn shook it off and looked back down. “Listen, I have a lot going on right now, alright? I can’t seem to figure my shit out, and if I’m being honest it feels like you’re trying to force something that’s not there.” He picked up his bag and walked away, but tripped over himself when he got six paces away, the contents of his bag spilling all over the floor. 

“Are you okay?” Harry asked, standing up to help Zayn get all his stuff back together. He noticed how his hands were shaking. “Here—“

“I got it,” Zayn’s voice was small. “I—I—“

“Zayn?” Harry asked, and Zayn closed his eyes. “If I’m trying to force something, how come I can smell you?” 

They snapped back open to see Harry holding a canister of scent blocker that had fallen out of his bag, looking at him with an unreadable expression strewn across his eyes. 

“I…” Zayn didn’t like hard questions. 

He snatched the spray from Harry’s hand, gathered his things and left. 

“Zayn,” He heard him call out. “I swear to God I’m not trying to use you. Please, wait.” 

Zayn responded without turning back, “It’s not even you, Harry, alright? Don’t think it’s you, it’s me, and I just need to sort my shite out and live my life, just, I don’t know what I’m saying—I’m sorry.” 


“Are you fucking thick?” 


“Are you,” Louis smashed their foreheads together. “Fucking thick?” 

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” Zayn deflected again, giving Louis the side eye as he shoved away. “And you need to shower, gross.” 

“He totally likes you, Zayn! Who the fuck even cares if he just wants the money? Play the game,” Louis groaned, going over to the sink and dunking his head under the tap. “He’s hot as hell.” 

“Just yesterday you said he looked like a toad.” 

“That was yesterday, look at his Instagram,” Louis miraculously finished washing his hair and was now ruffling it silly with a towel. “Why don’t you just hit it and quit it?” 

Zayn wrinkled his face, “That’s vulgar, Lou.” 

“Trust me, Zayn, you don’t want to be an adult and not yet sexually mature. You’re lucky you got your heat at 15.” Louis said through a mouthful of foamy toothpaste. 

“I would rather not have that idea planted into my head, thank you very much. In fact, stop projecting,” Zayn rubbed his temples. “I need to write this stupid fucking essay.”  

“You’ve written one line; the title.” Louis looked him up and down. “Baby boy, why are you playing school again? Aren’t we done with that?” 

“Don’t call me baby boy.” Zayn went red. 

Louis shimmied in between him and the laptop, “Baby boy,” he extended, sighing when Zayn looked away. “Why are you being shy? I’ve been calling you baby boy for years.” 

“I shall not be called by that term no more, I renounce your right,” Zayn bopped his head. “Lou, I don’t want to do this anymore.” 

“You don’t have to.” 

“Mama is making me, says I can’t just sneak into their libraries anymore.” 

“Then find a different library, since you’re so keen on avoiding this Styles character,” Louis suggested, but when Zayn had nothing to say to that, he suddenly understood just what was going on. “But you don’t want to do that, huh? Want to keep on hanging around this Styles character?” 

“Are you kidding?” Zayn sputtered, turning away. “He just…makes me feel things, alright? Things that are scary and I don’t want to be scared like that.” 

Louis scoffed, “Baby boy,” Zayn glared at him. “Baby boy,” He repeated, giving Zayn a reprimanding look. “C’mere.” 

They pulled each other onto the bed, shuffling duvets and excess pillows about until they were comfortable in their impromptu nest. “Yes, Lou?” 

“Does he smell good to you?” Louis asked warmly, brushing hair behind Zayn’s ear. “So good you want him to hold you ‘till you stop breathing?” 

“Nah,” Zayn lied. 

“Hm, when Zayn Malik says ‘nah,’ that usually means a yes,” Louis giggled, coming closer. “His hands are warm, huh?” 

“How’d you know?” Zayn closed his eyes when Louis placed a kiss on his head. “What was that for?” 

“For being so cute,” Louis grabbed his nose. “But baby, don’t be running away because you’re scared of something that has the capability to be something great.” 

“Or disastrous,” Zayn interjected. “My therapist has been telling me not to get myself into destructive situations.” 

“Your therapist is an idiot,” Louis murmured. “How’re you supposed to be reborn if you don’t die a few times?” Zayn was starting to fall asleep, and it was the most endearing thing ever. “Tell you what, babe, I bet you if you keep at it with your treatments and your counselling and your schooling, the world will become a lot bigger. And maybe you don’t want the world to be bigger, but it has to, and you’re gonna need to find out how to deal with that change.” 

“Louuuuu,” Zayn complained. “I’m sleepy, can’t we talk about this later?” 

“No,” Louis looked like he was ready to cry, but of course, he’d never show that to Zayn. “You need’ta hear it. Play the game, baby, okay? For me.” 

“For you? That’s oddly sinister sounding.” 

“It’s not sinister, this is me praying for you, okay? If he smells good, you go get him. If he flusters you in ways that no one has ever flustered you before, you go get him. Fuck all that bullshit about compability and how mentally able we all are.” Louis sighed, realizing that Zayn had stopped listening a while ago.  

“Yeah, okay.” Zayn mumbled, his eyes shut. 

Louis kissed him one more time, wishing for him to dream of a world where they had no fear and had everything; not the money, not the looks, but the courage.

Louis prayed for Zayn to possess the thing they all lacked; courage. 


Zayn was walking through the main courtyard when a man twice his stature and half his net worth slithered up to him like a tiger seeking its prey. 

“Hey baby,” Zayn jumped when a hand fluttered alongside his waist and pulled him slightly. “How’re you doing?” 

“Sean,” Zayn complained, and shoved his hand off. “I have to go to class. I don’t have time for this.” 

Sean made a face, “Time for what, baby? C’mon,” He grabbed Zayn again, and the force of it nearly made him drop his books. 

“S-Sean,” Zayn stuttered, powerless in his hold. “Stop it,” 

“Sometimes baby, I can’t get enough of you,” Sean groaned, pushing Zayn’s head to the side to press his nose into his neck. “You’re it for me, baby, did you know that?” 

“I’m not,” Zayn whimpered when Sean palmed the sensitive spot on his neck harshly, his entire body giving up and becoming limp in his arms. “Go away, Sean, seriously.” 

“I haven’t had my fill of my Zaynie yet,” Sean whined, kissing his neck. “You smell so fucking good.” 


Both Zayn and Sean looked up at the voice, and there he was, like a hunter seeking out to skin a tiger, standing there nonchalantly with his bag slung over his shoulder. “What are you doing?” 

“Harry?” Zayn blushed, he was so embarrassed that someone was seeing him like this, the small little bitch who lets alphas have their way with him as they please without ever really fighting back.

To Harry, this was the most horrifying thing he’s ever seen. Zayn’s started to tremble. “Who’s this?” 

“I’m Sean,” Sean responded, and that’s when Zayn dropped his hair to cover his face. “Sean Montgomery, who’re you?” 

“Harry,” He said calmly, “Harry Styles. You know what, me and Zayn have a project we need to finish and I need him right now. Can’t you love on him another time?” 

“Huh,” Sean scoffed softly, as if he couldn’t believe that Harry wasn’t even trying to pick a fight. “Zayn doesn’t even go to this school.” 

“He does now,” Harry shrugged, “And I’m going to fail if we don’t finish in time, so…” He pondered on what to do next. Wait until Sean lets him go? Or… “C’mon, Zayn, let’s go.” He stretched his hand out, and Zayn’s eyes widened to the size of plates. 

“Huh?” Sean was so confused, and Zayn wished to sink into the earth. He contemplated doing nothing and just dealing with Sean’s antics for a few more minutes like he usually did, but something in him begged him to entertain something different. 

“Okay,” Zayn’s voice was hoarse, but he grabbed Harry’s hand with all his strength and shook Sean off, and that’s when Harry yanked him into his chest and closed his arms around him. “Harry?” 

“You can fuck off now,” Harry’s voice became low, and Zayn just didn’t fucking understand what was going on. “Sean.” 

Sean grinned like he proved himself right, “I see what’s going on. Alright, Styles, I get it. New country, latch onto the tastiest thing you see, but what’re you going to do about how we act around here?” 

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.” 

“Zayn Malik is worth more than if I rounded up your entire family and sold them. You don’t belong here.” 

Harry rolled his eyes. “And you do? That’s why you sexually harass omegas in stark public like some obese seal forcing itself onto a penguin?” 

Sean’s nostrils flared. “What?” 

“Look me up, Sean. I think you’ll find that I’ll adjust to England just fine.” Zayn was about to slip through his hands, and so Harry picked him up and wrapped his arms around his protectively, walking swiftly away into the collaboration building. “Zayn, are you okay?” 

“Harry, why’d you do that? Now he’s going to make it a mission to bother you too,” Zayn’s voice was shaky, he started to pound on Harry’s shoulder with his fist. 

“It’s okay if he bothers me,” Harry sat them down at a table near the corner where they were out of sight. “Did he hurt you?” He moved towards his bag, shuffling things around as Zayn blankly stared into space. “Zayn.” 

“He just, he bit me,” Zayn sniffled, and Harry’s face became stormy. “It doesn’t hurt that bad, though.” 

“What the fuck is this dude’s problem?” Harry grumbled, bringing Zayn closer to inspect it. “What kind of alpha…” 

“The kind that can get away with anything,” Zayn chuckled, melting into Harry’s touch. “What’s that?” 

“A first-aid kit?” Harry showed him, and Zayn stifled a laugh. “What, you don’t carry one in your bag?” 

“No,” Zayn giggled, and Harry smiled. “Is that a sewing kit?”

“You’d be surprised how many of my clothes rip on a day to day basis,” Harry shrugged and Zayn snorted, so loudly that his shoulders shook. “Find that funny?” 

“That’s really adorab—“ Zayn stopped himself when Harry held him in place to apply ointment to his neck. “It’s really not that bad.” 

“Yeah, not that bad, judging by these scars over here and here and here.” Harry shook his head, “Your neck is gonna look like a battlefield if you keep letting him do this. Carry pepper spray,” His breath tickled his skin. 

“How very American of you,” Zayn teased. “It’s honestly not a big deal though, it’s just the way Sean is.” 

“Doesn’t mean it’s the way he should be,” Harry murmured gently, and Zayn felt his heart flutter again. “You’re wearing Daisy by Marc Jacobs, aren’t you?” 

“Huh? Oh, uh, my little sister sprayed me saying that I smelled like a ‘swampy apple orchard’ so…I guess so?” Zayn sniffed his shirt, pondering just what kind of effeminant scent it emitted. 

“I don’t like it, you smell good on your own,” Harry pouted, and Zayn was a goner. “All fixed up.” 


“You don’t need to thank me. Any decent person will have done what I just did, okay? I want you to want more for yourself than Sean Montgomery,” he seethed the name out. “What an awful bitch.” 

“Harry, you confuse me, you know that?” 

“How so?” Harry cocked his head to the side, pulling his laptop out of his bag. 

Zayn bit his lip, “I just don’t know what you want from me, really.” 

Harry smiled, “You’re fascinating, and I want to know enough about you to write a whole prize winning book. It’s that simple.” 

“But you already told me you had an ulterior motive.” Zayn decided to take his own computer out. 

“Yeah, but,” Harry sighed. “No matter what happens, I’ll figure it out. The money is only number one on my list of priorities, the dreams are higher.” 

“What number is higher than number one?” Zayn asked. 

“Happiness, Zayn Malik, is my number zero.” Harry smirked as he typed his password in. “And you can only think you’ll get happy if you know you want to do things.” 

“That’s from Native Son ,” Zayn whispered. 

“You’re pretty good, aren’t you?” Harry smiled at him. “How’s that paper coming along?” 

“Terribly,” Zayn admitted, and usually, that’s something he’d have trouble saying out loud. But with Harry, he felt safe to say. “I can’t do it. I don’t know what to write about.” 

“Yes you do, it’s right in that prompt. Just go off, close your eyes and go off,” Harry made it a point to cover his eyes with his hands. “Just forget about where you are, forget about what you’re doing. You have the information of what must be a thousand books in your head, and you understand them so well, Zayn Malik, that I know to be true.” 

“I do have to commend you for your attempt at encouragement, Harry,” Zayn rested his wrists on the edge of his laptop. “Maybe it will work.” 

“I’ll distract you.” 

“Hm?” Zayn asked, but before he could say anything, a cloth was being placed over his eyes. “Oh wow, you really thought this through, huh?” 

“Hey Zayn, what would you find in Charles Dickens’ pantry?” 

“I dunno,” 

“The best of thyme, the worst of thyme,” Harry held in a laugh as he said it, and the grimace on Zayn’s face was enough to make it spill over. “Sorry, was that too bad?”

“Shush, Harry,” Zayn waved him off, wherever direction he was. “I’m trying to write or some shite, don’t tell me another joke.” 

“You won’t stop me. Why did the reader give up on Pride and Prejudice?” 

“Argh. Why?” 

“The characters were too Austentatious.”

“Oh my god, get out,” Zayn groaned, and Harry howled in laughter, thank god they weren’t in the library. 

He would've been able to feel Harry smiling from a hundred kilometers away, and through this, he typed his stream of consciousness onto a paper he could not see. And somehow, that required no focus. The words flowed naturally as air. “Hey Harry, How did Charlotte Brontë make it easier for everyone to breathe?” 

“How?” He felt Harry get closer to him. 

“She created Eyre.” 


“Are you in love with me?” Charlie asked the question, and Niall nearly spat out his food. “I’m just curious, no pressure if you aren’t.” 

Niall gave him silence, and Charlie couldn’t handle that. “Niall, come on.” 

“Of course I’m in love with you,” He mumbled, and Charlie most definitely heard it, but motioned for him to repeat it louder. “I am definitely in love with you.” 

“Well, shit. Didn’t expect that, to be completely honest,” Charlie laughed nervously, pushing his dinner around with his fork. “Now what?” 

“What about you, Chartreuse Beau Axton?” Niall inquired, reaching his own fork to help Charlie push his dinner around. “What do you think about me?” 

“I think you’re a gem, Niall James Horan. A real fucking gem, and I just don’t know what to do about it at this point,” Charlie shooed his hand away. “I’m unfortunately besotted.” 

“That’s truly unfortunate,” Niall smirked at him, “Will you go on our fourteenth date with me next Tuesday?” 

“I just might.” 

Chapter Text

Another two months later. 

“Zayn, come on, babe. Let’s go.” 

It was Louis who had defied everyone’s word on going out in the dead of the night by himself, but at this point, he couldn’t find it within himself to care all that much. “Zaynie.” 

“I want to stay here, Lou. This drink tastes like Jolly Ranchers,” Zayn whispered, nearly passed out on the couch with a cup in his hand. “You know what a Jolly Rancher is?” 

“No, I don’t, love.” Louis gave up, instead deciding to lay on top of Zayn in a protective manner, intertwining their legs. 

“It’s this American candy Harry had me try one a few weeks ago. It’s funny, if we were in America, we’d be in a fraternity and this cup would be a red “Solo” cup, and I’d be fucking someone on the top floor in a few minutes and or having a seizure with all the shit I just took.” Zayn giggled, and Louis snatched the cup away and set it on the coffee table. 

“What did you take, Zaynie?” Louis tried to be kind about it, but in truth he was really, really fucking furious. 

“Just a few lines.” 

Louis stood up and dragged Zayn up with him, desperately trying to escape this situation with a small bit of finesse. “We’re going home, I have to take you home.” 

“Why? It was just a few lines,” Zayn protested, and Louis could feel the pairs of Alpha eyes watching them, as if they were giving them a head start in what was definitely a hopeless chase. 

“You’re on meds, Zayn, you’re going to actually get a seizure if you keep going,” Louis growled, finally getting them out the door and immediately pulling out his phone to call an Uber. 

“I’m not on my meds.” Zayn slumped onto the curb with his eyes closed. 

“And why the fuck not?” Louis pleaded exasperatedly, he couldn’t recognize his friend at all, and Zayn was always supposed to be the control, the thing that should and never would change from its level of having to worry about it

“Harry makes me happy,” Zayn smiled, face pressed to the ground. “He makes me so happy.”

“That’s not a valid reason,” He broke down in tears, plopping down next to Zayn with his face covered in his hands. “Zayn, please stop, you’re upsetting me. You have school, you have parents who love you too much to have ever taught you to do this shit, you have little sisters who look up to you, fucking stop .” 

“Why’re you crying, Lou?” Zayn reached a hand up towards his face and missed. “Why’re you crying?” 

“Zaynie, it’s not safe in there and you knew it,” Louis sobbed, his head felt like it weighed a million kilograms. “You knew no one would be up, nevertheless even believe you other than me.”

“I’m just having some fun,” 

“You’re just acting like me,” Louis wiped his tears away when the Uber pulled up. “You want to turn out like me, Zayn? Deadlocked in being fucked up and lost halfway in everything?” They picked each other up, and stumbled to the car, the driver came out and opened the door for them. 

“You’re not fucked up,” Zayn furrowed his brows, then collapsed his head against Louis’ shoulder. “I love you so much.” 

Louis reached a hand to hold Zayn’s face to his shoulder, heart beating so wildly it probably thought he was on some adventure. “You don’t know shit, babe.” 

“Are we going to your house?” 

“Yeah, don’t want you walking in and Saf seeing you like this,” Louis sighed, Zayn slumping onto his lap. “You’re stupid, you know that?” 


The navigation dinged that they were in front of Louis’ home, the driver whistling at the mere sight of it. “You two rich or summat?” 

“I guess you could say that. Cheers,” Louis yanked Zayn out of the car and they stumbled onto the sidewalk, and he had never felt more of a longing to cuddle up in bed and sob. “Come on, Zaynie.” 


“Lou? Zayn?” 

Ah, fuck. “Hi Li,” Louis greeted him without turning to look at him. “Whatcha doing?” 

“Going for a run, it’s 9:30. Is he drunk?” Liam moved forward and Louis flinched, most visibly so, and this was the worst thing that could’ve fucking happed. 

This bitch really got high and smashed by 9:30 , Louis seethed repugnantly in his head, and had no choice but to let Liam close to them. “Can you help me carry him inside?” 

“Of course, babe,” Liam let the words slip easily, and Louis felt sick. “I’ve actually wanted to talk to you about something.” 

“Yeah, sure,” Louis heaved, holding tightly onto Zayn’s clothes as he led them into the house and up the stairs. Liam gently carried Zayn in his arms and motioned for Louis to let go, and when he did, he padded into Louis’ room and there were mumbles of ‘Hi Leeeee,’ and ‘Go to bed, Zaynie, it’s all alright now.’ 

The alpha came back out with a sullen smile directed towards Louis, but he was always soft. “Babe,” 

“I know.” Louis cut him off. 

“You’ve been ignoring me for weeks now, Lou, with no explanation or anything. Just what the hell is going on?” They stood there in the hallway so grand that even a whisper echoed into a bellow. 

Louis’ heart was under his feet, “I just haven’t been feeling very well.” 

“How come you didn’t tell me then, love?” Liam sighed, coming closer with his arms spread out to pull him in. “Babe, please talk to me.” 

“I’m okay,” Louis murmured, clutching Liam’s shirt with both fists and shoving his face in his chest. “Really, I’m fine.” 

“Is this about asking Alex to spend my rut with me last month?” 

Louis froze. “Yes and no.” 

“I don’t understand,” Liam shook his head and gathered his arms tighter. “Louis.”

“It’s not about him, it’s fine. It’s more about me, but I’m fine too. I’m fine. Sorry I ignored you.” Louis let go with his hands shaking, still avoiding all eye contact. 


“Don’t love me.” 

Liam was taken aback, “What?” 

There was a pause in the room, half of the lights were off while the other half were on, the air was cold but it was thick and extremely unforgiving in terms of trying to quiet a breath. “We should end this.” 

“What?” Liam repeated, standing still as Louis moved a couple steps back. “Wait, Louis—“

“No, please stop,” Louis had tears streaming down his face. “I’m afraid I’ve wasted your time, I’m sorry, Li.” 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Liam’s voice grew louder, and it made Louis flinch and turn away. “Sorry, didn’t mean to raise my voice.” 

“Li, this can’t happen between us, and I don’t want to—I don’t want to string you along.” Louis said stupidly, like he couldn’t even understand himself. It didn’t seem like Liam did either, so he stabbed the final knife into the tree. “I’m a beta, and I don’t love you.” 

Liam finally moved, and it was to only turn in the other direction with his hands on the back of his head. “Louis, I…” His words faltered. 

“Plea—please leave.” Louis squeezed his eyes shut. 

“Okay.” He almost didn’t hear it. 

He had never felt so small in his entire life. 

“We’ve been together for fifteen years.” Liam was crying. 

“Eight months, actually,” Louis knew he was either going to pass out or faint. “And honestly, Li, it was time I did it.” 

“Fuck,” Liam wiped his face. “Okay then. Goodbye.” He walked forwards and Louis felt like he was ready to explode, he squeezed him so tight it was like it’d be the last time. But then, Louis felt his chin being tilted to the side. 

“Li?” Louis asked timidly, wondering where to put his hands. “What’re you—Ah!” He screamed as Liam bit down on his neck, not a mating bite, but one an alpha would give to their omega for being bad. Up until now, Liam had never done that before, and it hurt like a motherfucker. “Li!” 

Liam finally shoved him away, panting with his eyes silver and spider webbed. He looked at Louis one last time before running out of the house. 

Louis put a hand to his neck and felt for the damage, whimpering when it stung under his fingertips. “Fuck.” He could hear Zayn stumbling around upstairs, so he wiped his neck off with his sweater before bounding up the staircase, nearly falling flat on his face. 

“Lou,” Zayn was dancing, spinning around on demi-pointe with his chin lifted to the sky. “I love dancing.” 

“Yeah, you did,” Louis sighed, his entire body shaking. “We loved a lot of things,” He walked until Zayn’s body bumped into his, and together they fell backwards onto the bed. “We should sleep, okay?” 

“What happened to your neck?” 

“Nothing, really. Close your eyes, Zaynie,” Louis sniffled, wiping his nose with his sleeve. “We can dance in the morning, like we used to.” 



“Will you move in with me?” Niall asked, releasing his fist to show Charlie a set of keys dangling from his finger. “Please, I dunno what I’ll do if you say no.” 

“Excuse me sir, I’m working,” Was all Charlie could say to him, lightly walking Niall backwards into the dressing room. “Fuck.” 

“Yeah, the hell was that?” Anna laughed, pointing to his face. “You guys are getting serious, huh?” 

“He’s my soulmate,” Charlie was suddenly getting hot, so he moved his collar around for some air. “I know that, and I’m sure that he’s pretty sure he knows it too.” 

“So what’s the problem? It’s not like he’s poor. He isn’t even dumb either, so you could be thanking God for your blessings.” Anna clicked her tongue, smiling warmly at a customer walking out the door. 

Charlie felt dizzy, so he sat down. “I thought Noah was my soulmate too.” 

“Noah was a crack addict who grew up in halfway homes all his life.” 

“I thought that was what matched with me; in my league. Maybe I still do,” Charlie looked towards the dressing rooms. “Annie, look at what the world would be wasting if that guy in there actually decided that I was it for him. I don’t want to be responsible—“ 

“Well too fucking bad,” Anna rolled her eyes and pressed her finger to his lips. “The world is here for you to be selfish, because if you aren’t selfish, you can’t get out of here, Charlie. That guy in there is going to pull you out, yank you even, and I say that’s good.”

“I’m okay with who I am,” Charlie retorted, shooing her finger away. “I’m proud of who I am.” 

“Well I’m not,” Anna scoffed at Charlie’s look of surprise. “I’ve known you since you were a kid, Chartreuse Axton—“ 

“You can’t call me that—“ 

“Bitch, I am basically your mother, so shut up and let me speak.” Anna’s gaze narrowed. “You were in all the advanced classes, you sing like an angel, you would tell everyone about your newest weird dream and it’d remind everyone to have dreams. What makes you different from any of those rich white girls up there? I’ll give you a hint,” Anna leaned in close. “You’re better than them. And that’s what Niall’s convinced himself he wants.” 

“Okay,” Charlie nodded slowly. “Shit, alright.” 

“He’s probably shitting his pants in there, the poor sod. Go.” Annie shoved him away, and Charlie gulped, bottom lip uncontrollably trembling as he walked back into the host dressing room. 


“Ni,” Charlie bit his bottom lip still. “I love you.” 

“I love you too,” Niall got up to make a grand statement, so Charlie shushed him before he could even inhale. 

“Is this what you want?” He asked. 

Niall nodded with his eyes wide. 

“Am I what you want?” Charlie asked, and his words trembled. “I’m a freak, don’t you think?” 

“Anything but,” Niall protested, and it was cute. 

Charlie looked up at the clock. “My shifts ends in twenty minutes, Christ, you really couldn’t wait, could you?” 

“I can never wait when it comes to you,” Niall shrugged. “And I’ve been waiting all my life, so I figured that’s gotta mean something.” 

“Will you love me even if I change?” Charlie teared up. “There are things I still haven’t told you.” 

“That’s okay,” Niall leaned in to kiss his nose. “People change, even if they end up not becoming the person they expected themselves to be.” 

Charlie kissed him after that. 


Zayn woke up to a pitch black room, but it smelled like Louis, so he knew that if he rolled over the clock would tell him why it was so dark. 4:36 AM. Got it. 

He sat up, getting whiplash from doing so and immediately moved to hold his head. “Jesus Christ.” 

“Zayn?” Louis was next to him on his right, as they always did when they slept together. Zayn turned around, but he couldn’t see anything. 

He flicked on the lamp before replying, “Hi. Sorry.” 

“S’okay,” Louis’ eyes were closed. “I feel like I caught something, my head hurts and I feel hot.” 

“I have liquid tylenol in my bag,” Zayn sighed, shimmying back down to hold Louis in his arms. “My nose is stuffed too, ‘s been getting kinda chilly lately.” 

“Well, you gotta let go of me so I can get it,” Louis chuckled, easily prying himself out of Zayn’s grasp. “Fuck, go back to bed.” 

“‘Kay.” He mumbled, as he was already drifting back off. 

Louis sighed, slipping his feet into his slippers and trudging around his room, reaching towards Zayn’s pile of clothing that he at some point ripped off of his person. He kneeled down and a sudden rush overtook his head, the kind that makes you fall back a tad. He shook it off and focused on getting the medicine. “Zee, where is it?” 

“It’s in a dropper bottle, can’t bring lots of things with labels on ‘em because bitches will try and steal ‘em.”

“I see.” Louis found two cobalt blue bottles, inspecting both and even getting a whiff as if he would be able to recognize them by doing so. “There are two here.” 

“It’s the blue one.” 

“Both are blue.” 

Zayn didn’t answer after that, was totally dead asleep. Louis groaned when another headrush passed by, and decided that one bottle looked much bluer than the other, so with a heavy hand he dripped the medicine onto his tongue with the built in pipette. Once he swallowed it down and scraped his tongue around, he put the bottle on the nightstand and turned the lamp off, snuggling back into his friend. 

Five minutes later, he woke up again, feeling fidgety and out of place. He looked around the room and nothing was quite right where it should be, so he spontaneously and inexplicably moved some furniture around, rolling up the carpet and stuffing into the closet. It was then that he decided he was cold, so he reached out for the best smelling jumper he could find and slipped it over his head. It was way too big, but Louis couldn’t find it within himself to care. 

He stumbled downstairs, where he poured himself a glass of water and sank down onto the kitchen floor to drink it. 

He got back up and headed to the walk-in freezer (yes, a walk-in freezer), looking for something that he knew mattered to him, but he couldn’t remember what. 

He got to the end of the room and in the corner there were several bags of ice for when guests would visit and the champagne would naturally need icing. 

That was it. That was what he needed. 

He dragged a 10 kilo bag of ice up the stairs, collapsing half way through when his head spun. When he reached the top, he got hot again and ripped the jumper off, leaving it on the floor as he headed to the bathroom. 

His limbs felt heavy, his bones felt squishy, and his head was heavier than it all. He ripped the bag open with his teeth and dumped all the ice into the bathtub, turning the water on and plopping next to it as it filled up. The ground made his skin feel prickly and sensitive, so he squirmed around in discomfort, until finally the tears that had been welling in his eyes for the last eight months spilled over and soaked his whole face in some kind of sorrow. Or maybe it was sweat, he couldn’t really tell. He locked the door out of habit—little kids had a habit of walking in on him showering—and stripped of all his clothes, dipping his feet into the ice water. 

The next thing he knew, he was sated and only just slightly warm, and as the ceiling got higher above his head, the world went black. 


Liam had just managed to fall asleep when he got a call, and on instinct he declined it and turned on ‘Do Not Disturb.’ He didn’t even care if it was his mum asking to open the garage or his dad calling to ask if he came back home or if it was…Lou. 

A few minutes later, his phone rang again, which meant that whoever was calling was extremely keen on getting his attention by making double attempts. 

He scuffled to flip his phone over, and it was Zayn. 


He did not expect for the person on the other side to be in such a panic, “Liam, oh my god, you finally picked up, motherfucker—“ 

“If this is about Lou, we broke up, so I don’t really want to hear it. Sorry.” He hung up. 

Zayn immediately called again, and with a huff, Liam answered. “You fucker . I don’t fucking care if you two broke up, because he’s in the fucking bathroom right now and I woke up because there was water spilling out and the door’s locked and I think he took my completely illegal muscle relaxers and he isn’t responding and—“ Zayn choked on himself, sobbing through the phone. “No one is home. He’s been living in this fucking house alone for who knows how long and no one else is picking up, please,” Zayn was hiccuping, gasping and for a second, Liam couldn’t believe what was just said. He snapped back to reality when Zayn spoke again after crying for a second, “Please, Li. I can’t—I can’t do this, I can’t call the cops because there’ll be paps.” 

“I’m coming,” Liam jumped up and his heart was knocking so harshly his whole chest hurt, slipping on his shoes and racing out of his house to the boy next door. 

The boy next door. 

Louis was the boy next door. 

He realized when he got to the gate that Louis hadn’t locked it, and when he got to the door, it was cracked open slightly, so he didn’t even bother to close that as well. 

He could hear Zayn screaming and pounding bloody murder, and Liam felt like he was either going to throw up or pass out, but he did neither. 

At the top of the stairs, Liam recognized his hoodie on the floor, picking it up and remembering that one time Louis took it and never gave it back. 

“Liam,” Zayn was sobbing and on the floor with his body pressed against the wall, his hands were red and bleeding slightly from all the grievance he caused to the door. “Oh my god, no, no,” 

“Fuck,” was the first thing Liam said as he pushed Zayn out of the door and slammed his entire body into it, once, twice, and the third time did it, the bathtub tap was still on and water immediately soaked through his shoes to his socks. “Lou,” 

He dragged Louis’ body out of the tub, laying him on the floor and immediately pressing his hands down onto his chest. He wasn’t moving and nothing felt real, bent over the love of his life. It wasn’t until there was no jolt of movement that Liam began to cry, all his words escaped him except Lou Lou Lou Lou Lou Lou Lou— 

Louis’ eyes finally opened and he coughed, lurching upwards and hacking water out of his mouth. There was a cry of relief in the background from Zayn, and someone was there, holding him in his arms. “Li,” 

There was no response, so with blurred vision he reached an arm up to touch his face. He didn’t make it that far, and Liam released a choked sob like he’d been punched. 

“I’m sorry,” Liam said, and Louis had no idea why he was saying that. “I love you, I’m sorry.” 

“I got hot, ‘s all,” Louis croaked, and Zayn was hysterical, in a fit on the floor. “Cold bath.” 

“Fuck,” Liam swore, and Louis quickly realized it was the first time he’d ever seen him cry. It hurt to be the reason that he even was. “Lou,” 

“I love you too,” Louis felt tired, but tried to stay awake when Liam moved him so that he was even closer. “I’m hot.” 

“I know—what?” Liam frowned, spinning his head around to give Zayn a look. “How? You-you—you were in ice water.” He felt all around his body. “What the fuck?” 

“S’hot,” Louis whined, and that’s when it hit him right in the face. 

“Zayn, get out. Call his parents and get out, go home,” Liam growled, and poor baby whimpered and ran out of the room. “Louis, look at me, love,” He kissed his forehead, which was indeed burning under his lips. “You’re in heat, okay? I need you to stay with me.” 

“No I’m not,” Louis shook his head like he was confused, but Liam stripped the both of them down and picked him up while wrapped in a towel, stumbling back into the bedroom. 

“Baby,” His voice was so gentle and soft, Louis wanted to cry. “Baby, it’s alright, love. S’alright, I know.” 

He was on the bed, his skin sensitive and the lights too bright. “Can you move around, love?” 

Louis nodded, and twiddled his fingers and toes as proof. “I didn’t take liquid tylenol, did I?” 

“You roofied yourself, more like. Why Zayn had a bottle of muscle relaxers is beyond me, but whatever.” Liam kissed him again, and this time, Louis groaned and leaned for more. 

“Need you,” Louis whimpered, a gush of slick pouring out of him. The sensation made both of them jump, and Liam’s vision went white when he was hit with the scent. “Li, oh my god,” 

“Do you want to do this, baby? We don’t have to, can make the doctor come ‘round right now—“ 

“Are you fucking shitting me?!” Louis screeched and yanked Liam’s head down. “Oh my god, I feel so fucking needy—“

“Shit, I haven’t heard you talk like that in months,” Liam choked out in between kisses, hand instinctively moving lower on Louis’ body. “Shit, you smell so fucking good.” 

“You’re telling me?” Louis growled, taking Liam’s other hand and shoving it in his mouth to suck. His eyes fluttered shut when Liam finally found the courage to finger at his hole, which was actually pouring slick, and gently press one inside. Louis popped off his fingers and whined, wet hair stuck to his forehead. “Oh my god, please fuck me with your big fat dick—“ 

“Okay, okay, jesus,” Liam moved so that they were closer. “But Lou, are you sure? I don’t want to do anything that you’ll regret, if there’s someone else you’d rather have here with you…” 

Louis stared at him blankly. “Are you fucking stupid?” 

“Hm?” Liam squeaked, and Louis thrashed about, wanting his fingers deeper. 

“This,” Louis pointed to his whole body and his flushed face, “Works out for me. And I love you.” 

“Oh-okay,” Liam smiled, a bit frightened if he was to be honest. “Do you have a heat kit?” 

Louis shook his head, “No, I threw it out.” 


“Li, can you please fuck me? I need it, like, so bad, it hurts, baby please—“ 

“Okay,” Liam came closer again, stretching his fingers inside of him and pumping them in and out, all the while dragging his nose along his body to drink in Louis. “What do you want, baby?” 

Louis was getting into the thick of it, his pupils becoming more dilated as the coherence left his brain. The world was getting fuzzy and he knew nothing else except that Liam was there and he loved Liam and Liam had a big fat cock and Liam Liam Liam Liam Liam Liam — 

Liam realized this, leaning over Louis’ face to inspect his face. “Baby, you still with me?” 

Louis gave a pained whimper in response, he sounded scared. 

“Okay, I have you, s’alright, love,” Liam cooed, bending down over him to lift his knees into the air whilst taking his fingers out, which only seemed to upset him more. “Gonna knot you, yeah? That’s what you need,” He babbled to himself, finally giving his own raging hard-on some attention. 

“Kisses,” Louis managed to make out, and Liam found that impressive. “Kisses.” He sounded more adamant the second time. 

“Okay, baby.” Liam complied, softly meshing their lips together as he lined up with Louis’ hole, this terrifying experience being culminated with the fact that this was the first time they were to have real sex together, and it wasn’t clear whether Louis was high on heat or drugs, and their relationship status was still a blur, but all that faded when the tight heat squeezed around him as he pushed forwards, Louis letting out a strangled cry of relief. 

“Li,” Was all he could say for the next few minutes, on the cusp of an orgasm whilst Liam fucked him through it, and it was all so confusing, but one thing was clear. 

They were exactly where they were meant to be, because it was strange and loud and felt wonderful, and soon, the sun would rise, and it’d be over before nightfall. 

Louis couldn’t wait, felt he was allowed to love him again. 


Zayn didn’t stumble home until 8 AM, he stopped by the park first, throwing up under a random tree and drunkenly circling the perimeter for a few hours with his hands still scratched up and his head somewhere on a dark cloud. 

“You got it, chief,” He murmured to himself, remembering something blurred and long ago. “I’ll fix it, chief. I’ll spin for you, chief. I’ll spin for him, chief. I love ya, chief. Okay, okay.” 

“Sweetheart, are you alright?” A kind woman asked him, wearing ridiculously expensive athleisure wear on an obvious attempt to lose weight by strolling around every morning. “Say, aren’t you Trisha’s son?”

“I’m dancing, chief.” Zayn said to her, now beginning to turn around in circles. “I love dancing.” 

“Okay, sweetie,” The woman pulled her phone out, and Zayn slapped it out of her hand. She gasped, taking a few steps back. “Zayn?” 

“No phones allowed during rehearsal.” 

“Oh god, he’s gone insane.” She snatched it back up and jogged a few steps away, immediately calling Trisha with eyes fixed on the boy. 

“Are you calling the police?” A voice made her jump, turning her back to Zayn to face the source. “Please don’t call the police.” 

“Oh no, I know better than that,” She shushed him, concentrated on the ringing. “Sorry, who’re you? Haven’t seen you ‘round.” 

“My name’s Harry. I was on the way to the Maliks’ house actually, because Zayn’s mom invited me over for breakfast.” 

“You’re American?” The woman cocked her head to the side. “Interesting.” 

“How so?” Harry cocked his head to the side. 

“Oh, nevermind.” She waved it off, and they both turned to Zayn, who was now on the floor on his side. 

“I can—I can take him home,” Harry said softly, and she shook her head. 

“He can get a little aggro when he’s like this, I would wait until his dad came to calm him down.” 

Harry frowned, “He’s like this a lot?” 

“Well, I’ve only ever seen him once or twice, and it’s just so sad. He’s traumatized, you see, on a cocktail of medication. Poor boy has too many issues to work through and no one’s really been able to help him,” She clicked her tongue and sighed, “It’s a pity, he was such a sweet boy.” 

“He still is,” Harry said calmly, taking off his coat and walking forwards. For some reason, she felt no impulse to stop him. The first thing he did was immediately kneel down onto the grass next to Zayn, who was kicking the air in soft circles whilst on his back. “Whatcha doing?” 

“I’m in rehearsal,” 

“Well, that’s obvious, but what are you doing ?” Harry giggled, shifting closer. “Synchronized swimming?” 

“I’m just dancing,” Zayn shook his head with his eyes trained to the sky. “I love to dance.” 

“I thought you only loved books,” 

“I hate books.” 

Harry opened his mouth, but closed it again and his eyes fluttered a few times. “When does rehearsal end?” 

“In a few minutes, you mustn’t be distractin’ me,” Zayn slurred, sitting upwards. 

“What will you do when rehearsal ends?” Harry asked, gently covering Zayn’s back with his coat. Strangely, he was wet from head to toe, and his lips were blue. 

Zayn giggled at him like he was silly, “I’m to go home, of course.” 

“Ah,” Harry finally lurched forwards to catch him before he fell backwards and hit his head, holding him close to his chest. “Honey, it’s really dangerous for you to have been wandering alone at night. What’d you take?” 

By then, the woman contacted Trisha and left. Harry lifted Zayn into his arms, the latter immediately cradling himself closer to his chest. “Mixed some stuff.” 

“I see,” Harry whispered, and kissed the side of his head without thinking. “Let’s take you home, babe. Where’s home?” 

“Next to Louis’ house,” Zayn sniffled, and began to cry into Harry’s shirt. “What do you think happens when you drown?” 

“Uh,” Harry was still trying to decrypt the streets based off the address Trisha had texted him a while ago. “Why the sudden topic of drowning?” 

“Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning,” Zayn stared up at the sky. “What better way to go than by the thing you were already doing?” 

“Are you off your medication?” Harry found the street. 

“Everyone always asks me that. No one asks about what I’m up to, or what I want to do, or what I want.” 

“Sorry,” Harry looked down at him, his heart panging at that sweet face. “This your house? It’s nice.” 

“Thank you,” Zayn smiled with his eyes closed. Harry went up to the gate and maneuvered Zayn around so that he could press the buzzer, staring right into the camera. 


“Hi, I’m Harry, I was invited over—“

“The Maliks will not be taking any guests at this time, our sincerest apologies.” 

“But I picked up their son, he’d better go to bed, no?” Harry’s eyes fluttered. A pause flung itself through the silence before the intercom buzzed again. 


The gate opened, and Zayn squirmed like he recognized it. As Harry carried him up the stairs to the front door, it opened, Trish and Yaser running around to meet them halfway. 

“Oh my god, Zayn—“ They cried, arms outstretched to take Zayn from Harry’s arms. “Thank you so much, oh my god—come in, come in.” 

Multiple maids and butlers were waiting for them inside, all clamoring behind the parents up the staircase. It was a mere ten seconds before Harry was left alone, insecure to even take a single step on the loud marble flooring. 

“You’re Harry, aren’t you?” A young girl came from one of the rooms, eyes fixed on Harry and his presence. “I’m Safaa, Zayn’s sister.” 

“Hiya,” He shook her small hand. 

“Thank you for bringing bhaiya home,” She said very politely. 

“You’re welcome. Is he like this a lot?” 

“Not as much as he used to. It’s not his fault,” Safaa shook her head, and Harry smiled. “He doesn’t mean to.” 

“Yeah, I figured,” Harry kneeled down to match her eye level. “How old are you?” 

“I’m thirteen,” She said proudly, and Harry smiled wider. He was about to say something more when a sharp scream punctuated the air, more noises of clamoring and distress coming from above. “I think he’s in the vents again.” 

Harry held out his hand, “Should we go up together?” 

“Okay.” They went up the stairs solemnly, Harry greeting multiple of the help as they shimmied through to the room. Trisha and Yaser were kneeled in front of a rectangular cavity in the wall, the grate keeping it closed was tossed on the floor. 

“Zayn, please,” Yaser begged, looking even more distressed when he realized Harry was there. “Jaan,” 

“May I try?” Harry asked softly, and Trisha just nodded, covering her face with her hands and reaching out to yank Safaa to her chest. Harry got on the floor and inspected the cavity, which was much too narrow for his shoulders. “Zayn?” 

The sniffling stopped, “Ha-Harry?” 

“Yeah dude, it’s me,” Harry sighed, happy that Zayn was starting to get pieces of his head back. “I can’t get in there, man, so you’re going to have to come to me.” 

Zayn sighed back, “I can’t.” 

“What happened?” Harry looked over and quietly motioned for everyone to leave the room. “I made everyone leave, dude, it’s just you and me here.” 

“You’re lying.” 

“I wouldn’t ever lie to you.” 

Eventually, Zayn shimmied to where he was in sight, and his face relaxed in a state of relief when he saw Harry looking back at him. “It is you.” 

“Yeah, it’s me. Won’t you come out, babe?” Harry asked softly, Zayn tipped his head back and let it fall onto the metal. “What happened?” 

“Louis almost died,” Zayn choked out, “Because of me.” 

“I’m positive that’s not what happened,” Harry gave him a look. 

“I’m just so…not here,” Zayn lifted his hand to look at his fingers dancing about. “I’m tired.” 

“I bet, you did a lot of dancing earlier,” 

“I was dancing?” Zayn turned his head and bam, right in his face, Harry’s eyes looking right into his. “Where was I?” 

“You were in rehearsal,” Harry tried, and Zayn laughed to himself. “You looked beautiful.” 

“Piss off,” He sniffled. “I’m a fucking mess.” 

“How come you don’t dance anymore?” 

Zayn didn’t answer him. 

“Okay, are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?” 

Zayn answered him by turning his head and looking at him weird. “What?” 

“I asked if you were hungry,” Harry repeated plainly. “What do you want?” 

Zayn blinked. “A cheese toastie.” 

“A grilled cheese?” 

“What?” They asked in unison, then laughed quietly. 

“Jesus, how did you even get in there?” Harry looked around the vent, whistling. It sounded nice. 

“Used to be a lot easier,” Zayn turned on his side so he could look at Harry easily. “But now I just have to stay skinny, so that you know, I have a place to hide.” 

Harry laid down as well, head facing Zayn’s. “You don’t need to hide, not if you have something you want.”

“I don’t want anything.” 

“But earlier, you told me that no one asks you if you want anything, so how would you know?” Harry raised his eyebrows comically just to make Zayn giggle. “What is it you want, Zayn?” 

“I think I’d like…” 

“You think?” 

Zayn squinted at him. “I know I’d like to stop mixing shit.” 

“Well, that’s good. What else?” 

“I’m supposed to want more?” Zayn asked incredulously, surprising himself that he was truly stumped. 

Harry shrugged, “You can have everything in the entire world, Zayn. There has to be more.” 

“I mean,” Zayn snorted, “It sounds stupid, but I want to be able to meet people who don’t want to use me.” 

Harry rolled his eyes, “That’s not stupid at all. I wanted that too,” 

“Yeah?” Zayn was getting sleepy. “I think I need a bath.” 

“You’ll probably need someone to help you,” Harry told him honestly, “You couldn’t even stand up by yourself earlier.” 

“Okay,” Zayn smiled at him. “Can you help me?” 

Harry’s cheeks flamed, “Uh—me? Are you sure you don’t want like, uh, fuckin’...” 

“Laura or Maeve? They’d die if they saw me naked, same with everyone else,” Zayn shook his head, and so Harry blushed harder. “You look red.” 

“I am red,” Harry admitted, then stretched an arm out towards him. “Tell you what, you come out, we can scrub each other’s backs, I’ll make you a grilled cheese, we can drink hot chocolate and watch movies and everything you want to do, even if you can’t think of things right now.” 

Zayn felt a tear drip down the side of his face onto his temple. “Ooh.” 

“Enticing, aren’t I?” 

He laughed, “Yeah, you are. You’ve no idea.” 

Then Harry looked at him again with that same look, like he’d discovered something rare, and Zayn’s heart began to race a thousand beats per second, he could feel the heat crawling up behind his eyes, his entire body begging him to reach out and— 

“You took my hand, you actually—fuck, okay,” Harry gently dragged Zayn out, hyperventialting loudly as he clutched Zayn close to his chest. “Fuck, thank you, thank you,” 

“Weirdo,” Zayn mumbled, and Harry couldn’t help but kiss his head. “I might have to go to rehab again.” 

Harry snorted, “Yeah, might have to.” 

Zayn smiled as he leaned down to kiss his forehead again. “This feels awfully right.” 

Harry smiled against his skin. 


Chapter Text

“Niall, this looks really expensive,” Charlie fidgeted, spinning around in the flat to look out the glass walls. “Where are we?” 

Niall set his keys down and tapped his fingers against the countertop, looking awfully smug with himself. “This is the nicer part of town, I guess you could say. Before you say anything, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve bought it already.” 

Charlie raised an eyebrow, “You don’t think we’re going too fast?” 

Niall’s face dropped, “Do you?” 

Charlie’s eyes widened and he sputtered, “I mean, I don’t think so, I was just wondering if you did—“ 

“Oh, I see, well I don’t—“ 


They looked at each other for a few more seconds before joining hands and pressing their noses together, giggling. “Do you like it?” 

“I like it,” Charlie nodded, arms reaching around to hug Niall closer. “Thank you.” 

“I am besotted by you, Char. Absolutely lovestruck, I can never be the same again,” Niall said in a sing-song tone. “You’ve changed me quite a bit. Kiss me,”

Charlie laughed in response, tugging Niall’s head downwards to meet their lips. The feeling was soft, and for a moment, Charlie felt that he belonged on the ground underneath his feet, Niall having pulled him down from floating in the sky. 

There was nothing wrong about floating in the sky, but carrying many things with you is what makes travel burdensome. His books, his possessions, his family, his dignity all carried too much weight to outweigh the incentive of staying alive. 

Niall was just so good to him; he was so good. 

“What is your favorite food?” Harry asked, having shifted them to the bed, Zayn still cuddling into his arms. “I want to know.” 

“I don’t think I have a favorite food,” Zayn shrugged, twirling a lock of Harry’s hair around his finger. “I don’t get crazy about it.” 

“You are indeed English,” Harry sighed, “It’s really sad you don’t know the joys of Los Angeles.” 

Zayn didn’t say anything to that for a few moments. But then, “What’s the real reason you left? I know it has to do with money and stuff, but you always talk about L.A like there’s no place you’d rather be.” 

Harry swallowed, looking down at Zayn and kissing the hand that was playing with his hair. “I just wanted to escape. I didn’t know how; I kept telling myself that I’d never be fearless enough to ask for it. It felt like I didn’t have to ask when the opportunity arose to meet a certain eligible omega who was just dying to meet me,” Zayn grumbled in reaction. “Then when I got here, I was really surprised to find that I wasn’t so scared after all. I felt complete, like a certain part of me was awoken.” 

Zayn pressed his ear to Harry’s chest to hear his heartbeat, “Harry, your heart’s beating fast.” 

“I know,” Harry rolled his eyes, “Now I get to ask a question.” 

“I’m nervous,” Zayn looked even more comfortable when Harry tucked his legs on his arms and held him closer, as though the pressure of their bodies pressing together was soothing. “Are you going to ask me about the drugs?”

“How come you don’t dance anymore?” Harry brushed the hair out of his face. 

“Ah, so it is about the drugs.” 

“Dancing is a drug?” Harry cocked his head to the side, but Zayn shook his head. 

“No, dancing is worse,” He looked like he was about to cry, “And I never want to do it ever again, I—I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“Babe, I’ve noticed you shut down a lot,” Harry said softly while a hand reached behind Zayn, too closely to his omega spot. He yelped and propelled himself away, startling Harry as well. “Oh god, I’m sorry, I was just getting my phone. I would—I would never do that—“ 

“I know, it’s just...Yeah.” Zayn was beginning to shake, eyes darting back and forth. “What’s, what’s your favorite food?” 

Harry sighed in ambiguous relief, softly rubbing Zayn’s forearm with his thumb. “I love burgers.” 

“Like Byron?” 

“Oh god no, like Shake Shack, In-N-Out,” 

“Ininout?” Zayn asked, and Harry laughed again, heartily and genuinely. “Is that an L.A thing?” 

“Kind of, yeah,” Harry nodded. “They sell burgers for $3, which would be two pounds here. Amazing. There’s one next to the airport, so every time I come back I always grab food for…” He realized he was going off onto a crazed tangent, looking back down at Zayn. 

Zayn’s eyes were sparkling at him, the only real way to describe it. Big and shiny and curious, but at the same time, still a little high and in another world. 

It was safe to say that Harry’s amount of interest had grown a considerable amount in that moment, “Grab food for who?” 

“Huh? Oh,“ Harry shook himself out of the trance, “For my me and my sister.” 

“My sister and me,” Zayn corrected, his body was so delicate and settled comfortably into Harry’s lap, and if he was being honest, his interest in Harry had grown from what was a faint pen dot to that of an ink blot...maybe an entire ink bottle spill. 

“Your heart’s beating fast, I can feel it.” Harry said to him, and Zayn almost didn’t catch it past the sound of his chest beating up through his face. 

“Yeah?” He sputtered, putting a hand on his own chest. “Is it really?” 

Harry placed a large hand on his sternum, the warmth of it seeping through Zayn’s shirt. “Yeah, really.” 

Well, fuck. 

Zayn remembered one time when he was at Louis’ house and Louis began to talk about how he may be in love with Liam, their mutual best friend of over a decade, Zayn asked him what was apparently a silly question. 

“How do you know when you’re in love?” He asked, and he could clearly recall the look on Louis’ face as he thought hard about an answer. 

“Because you can’t think about much else, really. If you go to a strip club and don’t feel any type of way and all you can think about is that one person, then you know you’re in love.” 

“How am I supposed to know how to not “feel any type of way” if I’ve never even had sex yet?” Zayn looked down at his crotch and Louis hurriedly lifted his chin back up. 

“God, okay. Maybe that way won’t work for you until you’ve done some more stuff yet,” Louis groaned, feeling overwhelmed. “Maybe you’ll realize you’re in love when someone who’s an expert at it tells you that you are.” 

“Maybe,” Zayn closed an eye when Louis caressed his face. “But I’m not going to find an expert on this street, am I?” 

“Why?” Louis raised an eyebrow. “Have you met someone?” 

Zayn made a face at him, “God no. I can’t “people,” Lou, you know this.” 

“Quite right.” 

Now, about two years later, Zayn is locked in his room by himself, his parents having discussed the prospect of rehab again, which he all willingly agreed to. He felt sick, and decided that maybe drugs weren’t really a thing you’d want to be addicted to. 

Harry left an hour ago, he helped wash Zayn’s hair and fall asleep, let him bury his face into his neck in a way of comfort. 

But was he in love? He couldn’t really tell. 

He fell backwards onto the mattress and sighed, staring at the ceiling. He had felt such contempt towards Harry for a long while, but within a week this man was able to knock down all these different walls. A man who was able to approach Zayn in a way he’s never been approached before, and Zayn couldn’t understand it. 

He was thinking about what Louis said to him those two or some years ago, but then crinkled his nose when he remembered that he probably shouldn’t be taking love advice from someone who didn’t confess to their soulmate for a good fifteen years. 

But there was another thing. Zayn quickly sat up on his bed and turned his torso ‘round, eyes darting towards the drawer of his nightstand. 

“I’ve been to this strip club before, well, it’s not really a strip club. It’s not a brothel either. The ‘birds’ there are nice.”


“Yeah…if you ever go, which I doubt you will, you’ll find out what that means. Take this card, don’t tell Liam I gave it to you. Swear.” 

“I swear.” 

The memory flashed away as quickly as it came, Zayn’s fixated gaze on the nightstand broke when he leaped up and headed towards it. He let out a shaky sigh, pulling the drawer out and sifting through the miscellaneous items have been collecting in there for a while. 

Then he found it, the Advantage business card, with a single phone number pressed on the front with the caption “By private referral only.” 

He bit his lip, wondering if he’d regret this, but in a confident haze he found himself pressing the numbers into his phone with the call button at the end. 


Zayn gulped, “Hello. Is this the...Advantage?” 

A woman’s voice demonstrated the dialogue, “Yes, it is. Please state the member that referred you to our establishment.” 

“Louis Tomlinson.” 

Zayn could hear typing, then, “Ah. Yes, Mr. Tomlinson. So your name is?” 

“Zayn Malik,” He squeaked out weakly, “My name is Zayn Malik.” 

Her voice suddenly became a lot lighter, “Well, now that I’ve confirmed you, how can I help you?” 

“Are there any love experts there?” 

A moment of silence went through the phones, and for a second, Zayn didn’t understand why his connection wasn’t working. In actuality, Anna was laughing. 

“Uh, yes, dear, I guess you could say that we do have a lot of love experts here,” She said through a smile, “How old are you, love?” 

“Twenty,” Zayn said it like he wasn’t sure. 

“Are you really twenty?” 

“Yes, ma’am,” Zayn nodded as if she could see. “I can provide identification.” 

Anna hummed, “For when would you like to set up an appointment? We’re not open yet.” 

“Do you take walk-ins?” His voice was small. “I just need some advice.” 

“I guess we could take a walk-in just this once. Our rates are £75 an hour, £40 for half an hour. We open at five. Please bring identification as we have a bar here and whatever you do, do not make our establishment public. I’ll hand you a waiver when you arrive.” 

“O-okay,” Zayn nodded again. “Thank you.” 

Anna tried to resist cooing at the voice across the phone, “No, love, thank you .” She hung up the phone, 

chuckling to herself. 

“I haven’t seen you smile like that in a while. Who was it?” 

“This little baby,” Anna continued to chuckle, “And you’re late. Again.” 

“I’m sorry, Niall and I just moved in,” Charlie apologized, kicking his shoes off to quickly change. “I’ll get the hang of it soon, I swear.” 

“Gonna become his housewife soon, then?” She raised a perfect eyebrow, and Charlie went red. 

“No, are you kidding? I’d never; I’d get so bored.” Charlie rubbed his face down with a wet cloth as he simultaneously slipped into his tight jeans. 

“Well anyways, when the precious baby gets here, I want you to take them, so leave your opening open.” 

“But Matthew’s—“ 

“Oh, fuck Matthew. Who cares about him?” Anna waved him off. “After all, I’ve heard Malik money smells like perfume.” 

Charlie’s eyes widened. “A Malik? Oh shit, is it the super hot older one—“ 

“You’ll see, now go and fuckin’ fix your beat face, sunshine.” 

Harry skipped his way back to his god-grandmother’s house, excitedly kicking random stones like a child on the well-lit streets. There was nothing else to kick, the trash was cleaned on a daily basis in this part of town. 

Zayn smelled so good, it was fucking insane. It feels like something had reached past Harry’s eyes and hydrated them with honey, his entire body getting a shiver just thinking about it. 

It was a real shame that Zayn had to be locked up in his room to keep him from going out and entertaining his habit again, but on the bright side, the rehab center was only a couple streets away anyways. Harry could wait. He was the most patient person he knew. 

The whole street and cross streets of the neighborhood housed some of the most affluent in London, judging by the multiple security guards he waved hello to as he walked past a multitude of large houses. He thought he should maybe carry dog treats around to give to the security dogs who were hard at work. 

He took the longest way home, basically, even as the sun began threatening to fall and the wind was picking up just a little. 

He was an alpha, there was no way he’d ever be in any danger walking around in the dark by himself. After all, he had so much to think about; Zayn, Zayn? Zayn. 

Perhaps it was an hour before Harry circled back to where he started, calmly passing through when he heard a loud crash. “Oh, shit.” 

He ran towards the sound, towards the house that looked awfully familiar, peeping through the gate to see what’s happened. 

Zayn was on the middle floor roof, trying to sneak out of his room by grabbing onto the tree right next to it. He had dropped a sheet of metal that was hanging off the side of the roof and it made that offensive sound. 


The sound startled him, nearly losing grip of the branches, but he collected himself again and looked around in a panic. “He...Hello?” 

“It’s Harry, what’re you doin’ up there?” He asked, and Zayn’s face was so clearly visible, the ‘fuck’ he mouthed as well. “Are you trying to escape?”

“I’m going to—“ His words were cut off when he slipped off the branch, nearly tumbling down the side of the trunk if it weren’t for his quick reflexes in grabbing the tree. “Shit.” 

“Do you need help?” Harry asked, a smile growing on his face. “How can I help?” 

Zayn’s heavy breathing evidently told him ‘please fuck off,’ but Harry’s worry over Zayn falling and breaking his neck overshadowed his politeness. “Well, I mean…” 

“You mean…?” Harry asked, knowing he was being a little shit. 

“Could you help me down?” 

“Why yes, I can.” Harry laughed, and Zayn’s face became an impossible shade of red. “Actually, I can’t, because there is no way I can get through this gate.” 

“If you look to your right there should be a part of the gate that’s broken.” Zayn informed him, looking quite upset with his failure to complete his mission. 

“Ah, I see!” Harry cheerfully exclaimed, removing the broken part disguising the gate’s failure and slipping through to the yard. “What was so urgent that it compelled you to break out of your window?” 

“I uh, have to see someone,” Zayn said, because it wasn’t necessarily a lie, it was just he couldn’t answer if—

“Oh, who?” 

Zayn cringed, awkwardly maneuvering himself to turn around and wait for Harry to outstretch his arms. “...The Queen.” 

“The Queen?” Harry cocked his head to the side, that same devilish grin that’s never failed to throw Zayn’s sanity to the wind. “You’re meeting the Queen?” 

“I…no, obviously not, you fucker, just trying to make me more embarrassed than I already am,” Zayn huffed, nervously reaching an arm out for Harry. “This tree has grown a considerable amount.” 

“Or perhaps you are less of a risk taker now,” Harry smiled at him, going up on his tiptoes to grab Zayn’s foot and yanked him down. He shrieked, but Harry lightly caught the rest of him, mumbling a sorry when Zayn trembled in his arms. “Well now, if you haven’t already alerted your parents’ security, I suppose we have about thirty seconds to run.” 

“You can’t come with me to see…the Queen,” Zayn wiggled out of Harry’s arms, scampering through the grass and leaping out of the hole in the wall. 

“Who are you seeing, then?” Harry asked, following him and making sure to put the piece of the gate back. 

Zayn brushed off his clothes. “I dunno.” 

“You didn’t bring a coat,” Harry pointed out, and Zayn quickly looked up to the tree, where his prepared coat was hanging off one of the branches. “It’s getting chilly, you’ll catch a cold.” 

“No I won’t, I’ll be fine.” 

“You’re as thin as a stick, wind must rush through you,” Harry shook his head, taking his own jacket off and draping it over Zayn. “Let me take you to where you need to go.” 

“I can’t take your coat,” Zayn protested, but Harry only smiled. 

“Let me drive you to where you need to go, and I can grab another coat in the process. When do you need to be back by?” 

“They usually check around dinner time,” Zayn mumbled, helplessly taking Harry’s hand when he offered it and walking with him. “Harry,” 

“Yes, darling?” 

All the words Zayn had prepared in his head exploded and his cheeks flamed. “Uh,” 

“My gran’s house is a few streets away. I have a man with a town car.” Harry seemed awfully pleased with himself, but not daring to go farther with their physical contact. 

“Thank you,” Zayn said genuinely, looking up at Harry with his big, shiny eyes. Harry purposefully avoided them, and he wasn’t sure why. It made him feel not too great inside, so he looked away as well. “For washing my hair.” 

“No problem,” Harry ruffled his hair with his free hand, and Zayn thought he might just die here and it’d be fine. “Are you going to tell me who you’re going to meet?” 

“I’m going to a brothel.” 

Harry did not expect that answer. “Oh.” 

“Well, not a brothel, more of a gentlemen’s club.” 


“Not even a gentlemen’s club, just an establishment of love experts.” 

Oh .” Harry’s eyes bugged out of his head, but Zayn was too short to have had an angle at that sight. “You live a very colored life, Zayn Malik.” 

“The most colorful, Harry Styles.” Zayn smiled, liking the way Harry’s hand fit over his, the way he slowed his walking pace just so they would walk side by side. How tall Harry was. How warm Harry was. How—oh, fuck off. 

“We’re here, this is my gran’s estate,” Harry smiled at him, finally making eye contact. “Its back turned to the forest.” 

“It’s very lovely,” Zayn commented, and the alpha ruffled his hair again in response. “Should I wait here?” 

“Yes,” Harry waved to one of the men sitting under the gazebo in the side yard, and he jogged over to them. “Stay here with Jonathan, I’ll go grab a coat.” 

“Alright,” Zayn nervously waved to Jonathan, who politely took his hat off and outstretched his hand. “Oh, no need to do all that…” 

“My father used to work for your father,” Jonathan informed happily. “Took great care of me old man until he retired, even helped me get this job.” 

“Oh, I see,” Zayn smiled, and Jonathan hurriedly led him to the car. “How long have you known Harry’s gran?” 

“For a few years, but I hardly drive her around anywhere, that’s for one of the senior drivers you see over there. I’m in charge of all of her wards.” 

“She has a lot of wards?” Zayn sat down in the backseat. “More than Harry and his sister?” 

“Why, yes. Harry’s mother is one of her wards, Harry’s aunt and her children, as well as multiple children from different parts of the world that now run her empire in their respective countries. It’s a hard thing to be one of Miss Getrude’s kids; they’re always fighting over who gets what when they don’t even see each other for Christmas.” 

‘That’s why Harry lives in America,’ Zayn thought to himself. ‘His mother runs the American sector.’  

He was just about to ask another question when they saw Harry run back out of the house, stuffing his wallet and phone into his pants pockets and slipping the long coat over his shoulders. Do you have an address, Zayn?” 

“Ah, yes,” Zayn pulled out the card from his pocket and handed it to Jonathan. “I have an appointment to garner some advice.” 

Jonathan raised his eyebrows at him, but nodded. 

“Is it alright if you put up the partition, Jon?” Harry asked, and it was done. “You okay, Zayn?” 

“Yeah, I was just thinking,” Zayn looked a little sullen. 

‘It was probably good for Harry to meet someone rich just in case Gertrude dies and leaves their family nothing.’ He thought, feeling a taste for the pessimistic. 

‘What a horrible way to use their son like that, and use me.’ 

“What’s on your mind?” Harry poked Zayn’s arm. “You’ve gone quiet.” 

Zayn wanted to ask, “Do you think you could fall in love with me? Like, really, really fall in love with me?” But the words never left his mouth. 

“Zayn?” Harry’s thumb brushed over his cheek, and Zayn’s heart bumped again in his chest. “You alright?” 

“I’m alright,” Zayn closed his eyes and nuzzled into Harry’s hand. “I was just thinking about how hard you work.” 

Harry looked at him warmly, “Thanks.” 

“Li,” Louis whispered, “You awake? Li,” 

“Mm,” Liam mumbled, bringing Louis closer to him. “What’s wrong?” 

“You’ve been sleeping an awful lot.” 

“Well, I just did just fuck you for three days straight,” Liam kissed his forehead with his eyes still closed. “Does that not constitute a rest?” 


“Yes, baby?” 

Louis shifted in their bed, pulling himself up to get closer to Liam’s ear. “I love you.” 

Liam smiled, “I love you too.” 

“I’m sorry I’ve been too much of a pussy to confront things,” 

“S’alright, because I was a pussy too.” 

“I’m not actually suicidal, it was an accident,” Louis tried again, but Liam groaned and shook his head. “Okay, okay, I won’t talk about it anymore.” 

“I don’t need that image in my head again, Lou, of you dying in my bloody arms,” Liam stuffed his nose into his neck. “Just shush and lay with me.” 

“Alright,” Louis came closer. “Li?” 

Liam sighed, “Yes, baby?” 

“What would happen if I got pregnant?” 


“Like, would we get married?” Louis poked Liam’s cheek. 

“I don’t see why not, it already feels like we’re married,” Liam mumbled, drifting back to sleep. “We’re too young to be having kids, Lou.” 

“I know, but…I’ve known you too long to not be wanting more,” Louis said to himself, staring right at a knocked out Liam. “I love you.” 


“You can’t come in.” Zayn said firmly. “It’s by private referral only.” 


“No, thank you for the lift.” Zayn kissed Harry’s cheek. “Thanks to you, I got here safe.” 

Harry wanted to kiss Zayn’s cheek back, “I don’t mind waiting. How do you suppose you’ll get home?” 

Zayn shrugged, “I’ll figure it out. I’m a lot tougher than I make myself out to be, Harry Styles.” 

“Well, I’m waiting. Jon, turn the car off,” Harry instructed, giving Zayn a look. “Will you be long?” 

“I don’t think so,” Zayn rolled his eyes and tugged Harry’s coat around him tighter, “Don’t worry.” 

“I will worry.” Harry flirted, just to see Zayn blush. 

“Oh, fuck off, will you?” Zayn deflected, huffing and turning around to walk into the building. His sassiness immediately left him when he was surrounded by a powerful scent of perfume and alphas and omegas and what could only be described as sin , a receptionist immediately catching his attention. 

“Hello, Mr. Malik. We’ve been waiting for you. A bird is waiting for you in that booth over there.” The woman whose voice Zayn recognized smiled warmly at him. 

“You don’t need to see my I.D?” 

“Your face and name is your I.D, my love,” Anna smiled, and directed him to the booth. “I hope you feel enlightened.” 

Zayn nodded, nervously tiptoeing around the establishment as multiple ‘birds’ cooed at him, they were all tall and so gorgeous they could rival the gods. Many alphas in clean business suits were sitting in booths with a lovely person either on their lap or draped on their side, alcohol and smoke wafted itself around the air. 

“Hi!” A voice reached out to him, and Zayn turned his head around to see he had met where he needed to go. “I heard there was a Malik, I thought it’d be one of your older sisters.” 

Zayn’s eyes fluttered. “I’m sorry to disappoint you.” 

“No no no, this was a happy surprise. My name is Charlie.” Charlie stood up, a good six inches taller than Zayn and a body so supple and perfect Zayn really did feel like a stick in comparison. 

“Is that your real name?” Zayn asked, shaking his hand and nervously sitting down next to him. Charlie looked a bit astonished, but laughed after a few seconds. 

“You know, it’s the closest thing to my name, I can tell you that.” Charlie booped Zayn’s nose, cooing at how his eyes blinked when he did so. “What can I do for you, sweet thing?” 

“Do you only do the…the…” Zayn’s voice trailed off. “The lap sitting body rubbing alcohol killing thing?” 

Charlie laughed, “No. We can do whatever you want.” 

“I need advice about a guy,” Zayn couldn’t make eye contact with the ethereal person. 

“The guy whose coat you’re wearing?” 

He accidentally made eye contact, “How did you know?” 

Charlie laughed again, it was a really beautiful laugh, “It’s four times too big and smells of an alpha.” 

Zayn looked down and realized it was indeed Harry’s coat he was wearing. “Oh, I see. Well, yeah. Him.” 

“You’re clearly in love with him, baby boy,” Charlie poured him so water from the prepared pitcher. “If you went as far as to sneak over to this part of London at night alone.” 

Zayn shook his head, “He drove me here. Waiting outside.” 

“He is clearly in love with you too,” Charlie laughed. “This is so adorable, my gosh. You’re so cute, I just want to put you in my pocket and take you home,” He squeezed Zayn’s cheeks. “He drove you here and let you walk into a shoddy club? That’s real trust and love right there.”

“But I’m afraid he’s only gunning for the money,” Zayn let it out, and that’s when Charlie became a bit more serious. “You know?” 

It was like Charlie could directly relate or something, “Yeah, I know. Interesting.” 

“What is?” 

“Seeing it from the other perspective.” Charlie commented vaguely, but got right back to work after spacing out for a few seconds. “Life is too short not to get a little hurt sometimes. Don’t think you’ll be destroyed if you let your guard down, because you can’t; let your guard down. We’re the extremes, right?” Charlie pointed to himself and Zayn. “The extremes of society, we never let our guard down even if we tried. Even if we really, really wanted to. It’s just not how we’re wired. So trust yourself that you can take care of

yourself no matter what, because whether you’re super poor or rich you need to be able to do that.” 

Zayn nodded, but was still confused. 

“Basically, take him out. Ride him, let him spoil you, you spoil him, feel what love is. If it’s all a lie, you’ll be fine. These kinds of lies are the ones that can never kill you, take it from someone who’s been lied more times than months he’s been alive.” Charlie sipped at his whiskey. “It’ll all be fine. Life can’t fuck you over if you already know what it has in store for you.” He said cryptically, as if he was more talking to himself. 

“Alright.” Zayn nodded. “Thank you, that’s made me feel a bit better about things. Do I pay up front?” 

“You can just hand it to me, all the dough we make gets given directly to us.” Charlie smiled at him and kissed his cheek. “By the way, you really shouldn’t have come here.”

“Uh, why…?” Zayn fumbled with his wallet,

handing Charlie a hundred pounds. “Keep the change.” 

Charlie looked at him surprised that he really didn’t know. “Your heat’s starting soon, I could smell you from across the room.” 

“What?” Zayn’s eyes bugged out of his head as he stuffed his nose under his shirt. “Oh, god. Oh god,” 

“Why not let your guy take care of you?” Charlie smiled at him. “Like I said, people like us only really like people that we think we can be safe with. Trust your instincts.” 

“Alright. Thank you, Charlie. Your eyes are very pretty, you must get that a lot. I’ve never seen chartreuse colored eyes before.” 

“Thank you, I suppose I do get that a lot.” 

Zayn scampered away from the booth, past the hallway and out the doors, Charlie not too far behind. 

“He gave me an extra £60,” Charlie shook his head. “Rich people.” 

Anna definitely wasn’t complaining, “Keep £30 and give me £30.” 

Zayn ran out of the Advantage, breathing heavily and spotted Harry’s car across the street. Harry came out and leaned against the car, waving at Zayn. “That was fast.” 

“It needed to be,” Zayn gasped, looking both ways before crossing the street and immediately running into Harry’s arms. “I don’t know the etiquette for this.” 

“Etiquette for what?” Harry asked, then it hit him. “Oh. Jesus Christ, Zayn.” 

“I don’t know what triggered it,” He sobbed, already feeling that familiar panic he gets on the eve of his heat. “It wasn’t supposed to come until next week.” 

“How do you feel?” 

“Fine for now, but I suppose within a few hours it’ll really start.” Zayn didn’t even realize how he was clinging to Harry. “Will you, will you help me?” 

Harry blinked at him. “With what?” 

“Oh my god, you cock, you absolute cock,” Zayn shook him as hard as he could, which wasn’t that hard at all. “Fuck me!” 

“Jesus, babe, you’re becoming very loud and demanding,” Harry reached over and caressed his face. “Let’s talk about this when we get home, yeah? I don’t want you stumbling into your house making a puddle everywhere.” 

“That was mildly sexist of you,” Zayn complained as Harry pushed him into the car. “I need a bed, I need a, a—“ 

“Nest?” Harry asked softly, letting Zayn crawl onto his lap. “What else do you need? A heat kit?” 

“I’m not allowed heat kits,” Zayn just wanted to be close to him. “They interfere with my hormones.” 

Harry sighed, “Baby, I don’t want to do this if I’m going to be taking advantage of you.” 

“You won’t be, I’m completely lucid right now and consenting. So please. Please take care of me.” Zayn begged, not truly understanding he was saying all these things. 

“Are you sure?” Harry forced him to look into his eyes, and Zayn nodded. Harry nodded as well before pulling Zayn into his lips, a large hand cupping Zayn’s jaw and tugging his mouth open dominantly. He gasped and whimpered against Harry, his body instantly reacting to the contact and Zayn felt slick drip out. 

Harry could most obviously smell it, “I thought you had at least an hour.” 

Zayn whined, “It’s not my fault, you’re the one who hugged me and scented me all day and and then you kissed me. Take responsibility.” 

Harry kissed him again, forcing Zayn’s knees to split over his lap. “Don’t worry, babe, I will.” 

Less than a thousand feet away, the Advantage’s loveliest and brightest bird sat at his desk, breathing in a puff from his wax pen while lazily typing out the month’s commissions and business, filing away each and every paper meticulously into a locked cabinet that sat at the corner of Anna’s office. 

This cabinet was locked for two reasons, the first being that it held all of their tax forms, and the second being that within this cabinet was an extensive file on each and every bird that was employed there. 

In a high class establishment like the Advantage, each and every bird was screened for STDs every week. When first employed, they are required to disclose every piece of information about them, including their financial situation, their mental state, how sober they were, what drugs they needed to stay away from, and the past that led them to the club’s doors. Then, and only then, could they be groomed into the most gorgeous girls and boys in all of London; trained, housed, physically worked. 

Chartruese’s file was somewhere in that cabinet. Sometimes, when he opened it up to update certain things, it felt like it was burning through all the metal shelves and whispering at him, telling him all the ways in which he could fail, and why he should just give up now. 

Lately, the only reason stopping him was the fact that Niall was so good to him; he was just so good. 

Along the same vein, in the North corner of London, separated from the Advantage by gates, streets, cars, and wealth, Louis Tomlinson lay in bed, probably going a little bit out of his mind. 

His mental state was something to be determined, but he was very sure that tomorrow morning, before the love of his life woke up, he was going to propose. He didn’t know how he was going to go about doing this, but he was just so sure that he was ready to marry Liam, bear his pups, and form a new pack with him.

Another issue however: a pack cannot be comprised of just one couple. 

Ah, there they were, Zayn and Harry rushing through the south side up back up to the north side, two manipulative, opportunistic, “they should be glad they’re pretty” idiots making out in the back seat of a 2018 Rolls-Royce. 

Life was confusing, and none of it ever made any sense, but it was clear that this would not be the last time that Zayn would come to Charlie for guidance. 

Chapter Text



They had started off with fiercely swallowing each other, but it was only for a few glorious minutes before Harry stopped them, putting a hand in between their mouths. Zayn pulled back, extremely confused and flushed, to which Harry responded with a kiss on the forehead. 

“Babe, we can’t be doing this,” Harry apologized, bringing Zayn close to him and tucking his head under his chin. “We gotta get you a heat kit.” 

“Can’t—“ Zayn gasped, mouthing at Harry’s collarbones, “Need you. Really really really need you.” 

Harry groaned, biting his bottom lip so hard it nearly drew blood, trying to stop Zayn from grinding his hips down right on his dick. “Zayn, holy shit,” 

Zayn looked up at him all teary-eyed and pouty, small hands gripping Harry’s shirt in a twisted clench. “Harry,” He complained, “This is your fault.” 

“How?” Harry sputtered, but he knew exactly how. “I mean, yeah, we’ve been literally with each other this whole time and you were on some hard narcotics earlier—well fuck, I guess this really is my fault. Your eyes,” He touched Zayn’s face, who squealed at the contact. “They’re getting all murky.” 

His entire body was trembling, and it wasn’t apparent as to whether or not it was because he was in pain or because he just really, really needed to be fucked. “I’m gonna have Jon grab a heat kit, alright?” 

“How much longer till we get to your house?” Zayn flopped backwards and would’ve hit his head on the partition window if Harry hadn’t yanked him back towards him. 

“Like, twenty minutes,” Harry panicked, looking at his watch and feeling the slick dripping through Zayn’s trousers onto his lap. “Shit, baby, you’re so wet. I’ve never seen someone so wet before,” 

Zayn just wanted a kiss, “I don’t take suppies, remember?” 

Harry bit his lip again, noticing how Jon stepped on the pedal harder when Zayn whined loudly again. “Do you think you can come in nineteen minutes, baby?” 

Zayn nodded desperately, and so Harry flipped them over and sideways, laying Zayn down on the seat and unbuttoning his pants. “I got you, don’t worry.” 

“Yes, yes—“ Zayn arched his back, reaching for Harry with a severe hard-on and no measure of shame. “Harry,” 

“I know, sweetie, I know.” Harry lifted his hips and legs over his lap again, shifting their bodies so that Zayn was now in his lap princess-style. Harry snaked a hand under his neck and back up to his face, stuffing two long fingers into Zayn’s mouth as the other hand pulled down his underwear. 

Zayn protested weakly, but his eyes fluttered back when Harry purposefully hit the back of his throat, which gave him enough time to get a sense of how fucked they were. Zayn was soaking wet, all the clothes were thoroughly ruined and Harry was convinced that half of London could smell him, the thought made him growl and Zayn whined again. 

“C’mon, sweetheart. You need to earn my knot, hm? Suck them like you’d do my cock, yeah? Get them all nice and wet?” Harry cooed filth directly into Zayn’s ear as his other index pushed inside of his hole. “Aw, it’s alright, it’s alright,” 

Zayn squirmed when Harry’s finger brushed over his prostate, tongue still working on the other hand. Harry added a second, then a third, now successfully massaging and pressing on his prostate relentlessly. “No one else do this for you, huh, Zayn?” Harry kissed his forehead and Zayn came, spurting all over his stomach. “Feel good?”

Zayn’s eyes were getting murkier and Harry could tell that he was slowly losing all sort of mental coherence that he had just an hour ago. “Yeah, uh,” Harry gasped when Zayn clenched around his fingers and came again, “Yeah, bet it feels good. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” He pulled his fingers out to kiss him, still working the other digits in and out like the good alpha he was. “Yeah, feel you relaxin’, your body getting ready for my knot, sweetheart?” Harry’s eyes closed in bliss at the sound of Zayn whimpering underneath him, clamping down on his fingers like it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t help but duck down to bite the side of Zayn’s neck, more as a comfort rather than a reprimand, to attempt to keep him aware enough to walk up the stairs. 

But who was he kidding; he was definitely going to have to throw Zayn over his shoulder and run anyways. Zayn was reduced to obscene noises, pushing down onto Harry’s hand and moaning prettily at the feel of his alpha’s teeth in his neck. 

Suddenly, the car jerked to a stop and Harry heard Jonathan run out of the car, probably to buy a heat kit. He immediately became on edge, imagining the disgusting alpha scum outside of the car being able to smell his Zayn in such a vulnerable state. He went back to aggressively massaging and pressing down onto his prostate, milking two more orgasms until Jon came back and threw the heat kit to Harry over the opening partition and promptly closing it back again. 

“Hazza,” Zayn complained, shaking his head at the sight of a heat epi-pen and multiple other tools in the kit for a single omega in heat. “No, no,” 

Harry’s face was drenched in sweat from the sheer self control he’s demonstrated, shifting through the kit with one hand to find ten alpha condoms at the bottom. 

“No,” Zayn whined, “Don’t. Hazza, don’t,” 

“Don’t what, baby?” Harry kissed him again, on the verge of explosion. “Zayn?” 

“You, I want you,” He gasped, knocking the kit out of Harry’s lap and scrambling for his neck. “Hazza, Hazza,” 

“Jesus Christ, you’re so far gone,” Zayn writhed on his lap, chomping down on every bit of Harry’s skin he could find. “It’s a little terrifying,” Harry put a hand on the back of his head and held him close, scenting him in an attempt to get him to stop wriggling. “Zayn.” 

Zayn pushed and pulled at him, not listening to any of the words Harry was saying to him, until finally, 

“Stop,” The alpha timbre ran a chill down his spine and he immediately fell limp against Harry’s chest, whimpering softly as the car turned back onto the main road. “Stay still,” Harry growled into his ear and Zayn couldn’t move, not even as Harry reached back over for the kit and pulled out the standard issue knotting dildo. “Well come on. Don’t make me do any fucking work; split your knees.” 

Zayn complied, tilting his head back onto Harry’s shoulder as he lifted the soles of his feet onto the seats and kept his thighs apart, pushing out another wave of slick at the sound of Harry’s voice. 

Harry kissed his cheeks and temples repeatedly as he adjusted the toy in front of Zayn, keeping him steady. “C’mon babe, do what you need to do.” 

Zayn was about to complain again, but Harry shook his head, “I said don’t make me do any fucking work,” His words made Zayn gulp and reach for the toy himself, feeling a bit scared that he’d upset Harry somehow, but pointed the head to his hole all the same. It was cold and Zayn immediately rejected it, shaking his head and letting go. “Zayn,” Harry’s voice became softer. “Baby, you gotta get what you need,” 

“Need you,” Frustrated, Zayn hit his head on Harry’s shoulder repeatedly. “Don’t want the toy, fuck.” 

Harry tilted Zayn’s face towards him by grabbing his chin and kissed him, not letting up until Zayn released even more slick all over the both of them. “Sweetheart, c’mon. I can’t knot you here.” 

Zayn’s had enough. “Fi—Fine! If you don’t want me, then I’ll just—“ He flopped over to the door and tried opening it, which was an insane thing to do considering that they were speeding through the local roads. Harry obviously pulled him back, covering his face and groaning. 

“Of course I want you, you think I don’t?” Harry grumbled, jaw aching from how hard he’s been clenching it. “I can’t, baby, it’s too soon.” 

“No it’s not,” Zayn retorted, and Harry knew he was right. “Harry, I’ll be scared if you leave, please don’t leave.” 

Harry succumbed, “I won’t.” 

“It’s so scary,” Zayn cried, shivering in Harry’s arms. “Don’t leave, please,” 

“Fuck,” Harry closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Zayn protectively, biting him on the shoulder as an act of closeness. “I won’t, babe.” 

Then Zayn began to murmur a bunch of nonsense, weakly kicking the air. Harry kissed his hair and turned to look at his face. Zayn snapped his eyes open, revealing how cloudy they were, and Harry realized that it was quite literally taking over Zayn’s entire body and mind. Terrifying. 

“We’re almost home, baby,” Harry covered Zayn with the coat he borrowed and continued to kiss him. “Then I’ll take care of you, okay? Formalities be damned, traditional rituals yada yada,” He grabbed all of the alpha condoms and stuffed them into his pocket, leaping out of the car with Zayn in his arms the second Jon stopped in front of the house. 

Harry had never run so fast in his entire life. He kicked open the door, screaming as loud as he could for every alpha and omega to leave the premises, leaping up the entire flights of stairs to the top floor where his room was. Zayn was making such heartbreaking noises against his chest whilst uncontrollably shaking. 

He laid Zayn down and cleared off the textbooks and notebooks on the bed, dumping the condoms as well as ripping all of the soiled clothes between them. 

Zayn’s skin was flushed and his hair was sticking to his head, breathing heavily and sounded so confused every time he opened his eyes again, “Harry?” 

“Is it always this bad, baby?” Harry asked, moving them up further and quickly sheathing his angry red dick with a condom, trying not to knot prematurely from all of the previous stimulus. 

“No, it’s real bad right now,” Zayn blindly reached out for him, like his depth perception was going off, and Harry intertwined their hands for just a moment to bite his shoulder again. “Gonna be good for you.” 

“You’re already so good, baby,” Harry had to squeeze the base of his cock when Zayn suddenly whined, turning over onto his stomach and propping his hips up to present for him. “Yeah, ‘course, sweetheart.” 

He pressed the head to Zayn’s hole, already wet and stretched around him, holding Zayn’s hip and pulling them back as he pushed forward. 

When Zayn’s skin met with his, Zayn clenched, crying as he came again. Harry’s vision went white, but somehow snapped out of it fast enough to pull back and thrust forward gently, picking up a rhythm that had Zayn screaming into the pillow. 

The way his ass bounced on Harry’s cock was mesmerizing, and without realizing he was going harder, forcefully bringing Zayn back onto his pelvis and making the bed shake. “Zayn, Zayn, Zayn,” 

Zayn tried to say something, but his knees went weak before he could, collapsing against the bed at how hard Harry was going. “Oh shit, sorry,” Harry apologized by holding Zayn up and having a hand on the small of his back, bending over and kissing the back of his neck. “You wanna lay down?” 

Zayn nodded, looking at him through teary eyes and maximum bliss strewn across his face. Harry maneuvered them gently, laying Zayn down and draping himself over him until his chest was touching his back. “Does it feel good?” 

Zayn didn’t respond, especially not with the pillow he was biting down on. He released a few noises, an ‘ah’ here and there, but it sounded like he couldn’t even understand what Harry was saying. 

“Uh,” It was hard to think, “Yeah, babe. I bet it feels good, huh?” Harry kissed at his omega spot, and Zayn squealed again. “Just what you need, baby.” 

They rocked for a while, Zayn split open on his big dick and screeching like a banshee whenever Harry lost his grip on the bed and landed deeper. He rut against the bed as Harry kissed his spot, biting on his shoulders and intertwining their hands. 

“Think I’m close, babe,” Harry grunted after a bit, breathing becoming obscene in Zayn’s ear. “You okay?” 

Zayn nodded and turned his head for a kiss, looking fucked stupid. “Hazza,” 

“Yeah,” Harry whispered, the base of his cock beginning to swell and catching against Zayn’s rim. “You’re so beautiful, baby.” 

When he felt Harry’s knot starting to grow, it was almost as if something inside him woke back up in a panic, the light switch turned on in his head. He instinctively tried to move away, whimpering into the sheets every time the knot tugged, making the other boy thoroughly confused. 

“Wait, wait,” Harry stopped, at a painful price, reaching over to touch Zayn’s face. “Zayn?” 

Harry’s voice was so clear, and Zayn relaxed again, feeling more safe than he ever had before. “Hazza, I need it.” 

“Oh, okay,” Harry fluttered his lashes, but then decided to do an inspection by snaking a hand between them to wear they were connected. “Zayn,” 

“Yeah?” Zayn was so ready, the heat bubbling up in his stomach and radiating out of his head. 

“Have you never been knotted before?” 

“Yeah no,” He answered nonchalantly, and Harry did a double take over him, panicking as he didn’t know what to do about the boy his dick was inside of—and it had a mind of its own. “C’mon, Hazza, want it.” 

“Uh, sure you do,” Harry slapped his own forehead, muttering to himself. “Are you sure?” 

“Feel safe,” Zayn reached a hand backward to pull Harry back down. “Please.” 

“Okay,” Harry stammered, kissing Zayn’s spot again, “Just keep breathing, alright? I’ll try to stop if you say so,” He held Zayn’s hips steady. “You’re so good, you’re so good for me.” 

Zayn panicked again for a slight second when his hole stretched around Harry’s cock more, making him feel uncomfortably full and spots appeared in his vision. 

“You’re so good, fuck, you’re perfect,” Harry cooed at Zayn’s tenseness. “Just relax, baby, it’s okay.” 

Zayn closed his eyes and felt himself spill more slick around Harry, his body softly accepting the knot as what he needs. “Yeah, that’s it.” 

They were locked together, Harry still on top of Zayn and panting over his shoulder. Zayn was so satiated his entire head was buzzing, the fog parted and all he could hear and feel was Harry, the pulses inside of him making him whimper in pleasure. 

Once his alpha got too heavy, Zayn complained by kicking at the bed and Harry responded by biting his neck and holding him down for a few more seconds in a wave of primal instinct, delivering gentle kisses when he finally moved them onto their sides. 

Zayn loved the way Harry’s arms immediately draped around him and his head ended up under his chin, feeling so safe and happy beyond comprehension. The anxiety and panic in his heart settled down, which had never happened before in one of his heats, but Zayn didn’t have the mental bandwidth at the moment to question it. 

He just closed his eyes and fell asleep to the feeling of Harry’s chest expanding and contracting against his back.

Even if another alpha, or burglar, or demon, or scary Kraken tried to take Zayn away (because that’s the level of fear that a heat creates), Harry would fend them off. 

Harry woke up twenty minutes later to find that his knot had died down and Zayn sleeping gently in his arms. Something inside of him preened and felt as if he’d been praised, pulling out and kissing Zayn once he was turned over. “I’m so happy,” He whispered to no one, cuddling Zayn against his chest in silent delight before remembering the things he had to do. 

He quietly slipped out of bed, calling Zayn’s parents and the school that he was with him and was taking care of him, rest assured. Neither really pressed harder than that, so Harry shrugged and prepared a plate for breakfast. 

It was either an exaggeratedly beautiful day, or Harry was just exaggeratedly pleased with himself. It was impossible to really discern. 

He padded back into the room, opening the door to see a weeping Zayn. “Shit, Zayn,” He ran over, setting the tray down on the table and bringing Zayn to his chest. “What’s wrong?” 

“I thought you left,” Zayn sniffled, asking to be scented as he craned his neck to the side. 

“I’d never leave, no. Just needed to get you something to eat,” Harry kissed him again, “Here. Start with some water.” 

Zayn shook his head but after a few more minutes of coaxing, let Harry hold the glass to his lips. He pouted at Harry when he was done, gripping at his shoulders. “Harry,” 

“Yeah?” Harry loved the way Zayn’s eyes sparkled. 

“Thank you,” Zayn leaned up and kissed his chin, sending sparks of happiness to shoot up in Harry like fireworks on the fourth of July. But of course, he didn’t say it out loud because there’d be no way that Zayn would’ve understood. “You make me feel safe.” 

“Go—go back to sleep before it hits again,” Harry stuttered, heart banging loudly and harshly against his ribcage. “You make me feel safe too, Zayn. I’ll always be here for you.” 

“Wowza.” Zayn yawned and fell back asleep, breathing softly. 

“Baby,” Louis hummed over his plate of breakfast, one hand holding his phone to his face while the other moved his fruit around. “Look at this.” 

“Hm?” Liam moved to the side to see, realizing that Louis was looking at houses. “What the heck? Why’re you looking at houses?” 

“I was thinking, when we form a new pack,” Louis inquired gingerly, but Liam shook his head. “Why not?” 

“It’s way too soon, Louis, to be thinking about this kind of stuff. Plus, there’s no way that we’d go out and take over another residence, that’s just impractical.” He stood up, having finished his breakfast and walked around the table to get to Louis. 

“I just want to be happy, Li,” Louis complained softly, and Liam nodded, bringing one of his small hands up with his larger one. “I want to be happy.” 

“I know, babe,” Liam kissed his forehead. “We will be soon, alright? But let’s not rush into anything.” 

“Fine,” Louis sighed, standing up to watch his strong alpha husband leave for work, kissing his cheek and fixing his tie as if all of it didn’t make him furious inside. “Have a good day at work, darling.” 

Liam smiled at him, “Make sure to stir up lots of trouble. Extra points if you break something.” 

“Excuse you, this is my house. I’ll go over and wreck your house as soon as you hand me the key,” Louis held out his palm expectantly. “Because you’re right; I’m ever so bored.” 

“You have so many talents, baby, let one of them not be bored today too.” 

He was off, and Louis was seething. At this point in his life, he expected to be on top of a mountain and skydiving, or getting absolutely smashed at every party in London, or at the very least, getting married. He has accomplished none of those things. 

“Nuh uh, don’t touch me,” Charlie gasped, trying to pry himself out of Niall’s grasp. “I need to shower.” 

“You showered when you came home,” Niall complained, “You smell so good.” 

“Oh, don’t I,” Charlie sarcastically remarked, but letting Niall scent him for a few more minutes anyways. “Can you please keep your hands to yourself?” 

“No.” Niall kissed his neck, tangling their legs together as he hooked Charlie’s in the crook of his elbow. 

“But you fucked me when I came home,” Charlie gasped, Niall’s strong arms holding him down slightly. “Ni, nooooooooo,” 

Niall sighed and let go of his body, but not without giving his arse a final squeeze. “I did not fuck you. I made love to you, don’t be so crude, love.” He grumbled and nipped at his neck. 

“Careful, if you accidentally bond with me…” Charlie was about to make a stupid joke, a really stupid joke, but his words trailed off once he realized how bad it’d sound if he said it out loud. 

Careful, if you accidentally bond with me you’ll realize that all of this was a mistake. 

“I’m careful,” Niall said after an awkward pause, whining until Charlie gave him a kiss. “Promise.” 

Something in Charlie’s heart ached, but he just couldn’t place what it was. The whole scene felt wrong, him splayed out for a wealthy and successful alpha in the bed they shared on the better side of town. All the gifts and the affection and the complete ignorance they purposefully accepted from the reality that they were two people that would never be. 

If being honest, Charlie never meant to love him. He didn’t know what love was. 

He turned around and brushed Niall’s hair out of his face, it looked so different when it wasn’t styled upwards neatly. This flat got so much natural light, making Niall look even brighter on their luxurious sheets, but Charlie knew better than to face the picture he saw in the mirror across the room. 

It looked wrong; he wasn’t supposed to be here. The whore and the heir, because that always turned out well. 

“Charlie, don’t go to work tonight. Stay with me,” Niall coaxed, and although he had put up such a fight to maintain his life as best he could in the fear that Niall would one day realize his worthlessness and kick him out, he nodded and let him crawl on top of his body. They moved so well together, and he smelled like nothing that Charlie had ever smelled before. 

He was just about to melt and be swept away again when Niall suddenly had a hand at the back of his neck, inching towards his omega spot. Charlie immediately freaked out, thrashed out of his grip in a panic and was about to tumble off of the bed before Niall grabbed him and pulled back. 

“Oh fuck, are you okay?” Niall hurriedly kissed his forehead, holding him close. “I’m—I’m sorry, I thought you’d like it.” 

Charlie shook his head, large tears rolling down his face. “Scary.” He whimpered when Niall’s teeth bit down gently in the side of his neck, nowhere near the back of it but still immobilizing nonetheless. 

“Scary?” Niall sounded like a kicked puppy, terrified that he had hurt Charlie in some way. 

“My ex,” Charlie forced out. “When he wasn’t drinking and hitting me he’d hold me down and said nothing felt better than when I couldn’t fight back at all,” Charlie sobbed again, overwhelmed by all the sensations surrounding him. “One time he pressed so hard I passed out for a whole day.” 

He could smell Niall’s anger as he held him closer, kissing his head. “I’m gonna kill him.” 

Charlie shook his head and kissed Niall’s nose back, “He’s in prison, it’s okay.” 

“No, it’s not okay,” Niall firmly stated, intertwining fingers. “He deserves to—“ 

“Well it doesn’t matter what he deserves, does it,” Charlie suddenly snapped, feeling weak. “Because it’ll still happen and people’ll let it. Not me today, but one of my friends tomorrow, and—and it’s all just things that I can’t explain.” He sat up and got out of bed, glaring down at the beautiful marble floors and the shiny white walls of the room. 

“Char,” Niall sighed, sounding distressed as he left the room, taking a moment to give him a head start before following after. “Baby,”

“It’s fine, alright?” Charlie had somehow changed into one of Niall’s hoodies in the span of a few seconds, too big for him but he stuffed his nose into it all the same. “It’s just shit, I’ll get over it.” He felt Niall come up behind him and wrapped his arms around again. 

“Charlie, you know I love you and you can tell me anything.” 

“Niall, what do you like about me?” 


“Why me?” He turned to face him. “Because it doesn’t make any sense, not to me anyways.” 

“I love you because I like everything about you, Chartreuse.” Niall reached forwards, but Charlie dodged it. 

“Yeah, and what if…” Charlie paused to clear his throat, “What if I give up everything for you and then you—you throw me away? Don’t say that’s ridiculous.” He didn’t like the way pain flashed across Niall’s face. 

“Char,” Niall sighed, bringing him onto his lap. “What’s gotten into you?” 

“I dunno,” Charlie couldn’t stop crying. “I dunno what to do.” 

“Someone say something to you, my love?” Niall whispered, gently running his fingers through his hair. “This is scary; seeing you like this. What’s wrong?” 

Charlie succumbed to his touch and melted against him, taking in deep breaths of Niall’s scent and crying just a little bit harder. “I dunno what’s wrong.” 

“I love you,” Niall kissed him, coaxing to turn his head. “I love you too,” Charlie said it ‘cause it was true. He didn’t know what love was, he thought. Noah had smelled like nothing else to him, made him feel things no one else ever did. But that wasn’t all love was, it was weak. 

It got overpowered by poverty and addiction and stirred up a man to become a monster, and Charlie knew that Niall was not to be a victim of any of those things, but something still felt off. 

“Gonna go to work today,” Charlie managed to make out. “Can’t lose my job.” 

“Eventually, do you think you’ll quit? I can take care of us.” Niall asked, and Charlie didn’t want to answer, so just cuddled closer and pretended that he was sleepy. 

Zayn woke up hot, his vision blurry. Harry was next to him, lips stationed at his forehead, sleeping peacefully like the world would never end. “Hazza,” He tried, tapping his arm. “Hazza,” he tried again, louder and patted his face. 

“Mhm?” Harry groaned, shifting in his spot at the sound of Zayn’s voice. “Need me, babe?” 

“Yeah,” Zayn couldn’t help the moan that escaped from his lips when Harry got in between his legs and felt his hole for slick. “Need you so bad.” 

“I’ve never seen anyone produce so much before,” He sounded amazed, teasing Zayn’s rim with his fingers. “Gonna put it in, okay?” 

Zayn nodded and gripped the sheets in anticipation, tensing up when he felt the head of his cock prod at his hole. He whimpered, unable to help how tense he was, so he looked up at Harry for help. 

Harry wordlessly kissed him, reaching a hand to the back of his neck and gently making circles on his spot, watching as Zayn’s eyes fluttered back and closed. It was something to be writing poetry about, he reckoned. The way Zayn’s skin pulled taut when he tried to run his hand on him, sweaty and hotter than his own body. Hair thoroughly tousled and lips looking like they were about to burst, it was like a scene from a movie and Harry accidentally stumbled onto the set. 

“Gorgeous,” He heard himself say without thinking, and Zayn squirmed at the compliment. “Ah, don’t move, baby.” 

“Harry, please,” Zayn gripped his bicep and looked adorably frustrated, cock hard against his stomach as he tried to nudge Harry’s into him. “Don’t make fun of me.” 

“I’m not, swear. Just admiring,” Harry finally began to push in, incidentally pushing Zayn down further into the bed with his body weight. “You gotta relax, babe, can’t get in if you don’t.” 

Zayn shook his head and cried out in a broken tone, “I can’t relax, not like this. It’s too much, can’t breathe.” He yelped when Harry inadvertently pushed in more, scratching angry red lines down his back. 

“Sorry,” Harry cursed under his breath, gathering Zayn in his arms and turning them over. “Does it hurt?” 

“No,” Zayn got off of his cock, leaning against his chest. “Just a lot.” 

“Think you can ride me?” Harry asked gently, brushing the hair out of Zayn’s face. “You’re shivering, love. You cold?” 

Zayn nodded, lifting himself up and pleaded for Harry to help him sit back down, moaning and squinting his face as his hips met with Harry’s hips. “Oh my god,” 

“Yeah, that’s it,” Harry grunted and gripped Zayn’s hipbones and dominantly began to move them back and forth, growling for Zayn to come forward so he could bite down on his neck. “I’ll get you there, don’t worry.” 

There really wasn't anything left to him to do except take it, Harry’s teeth gripped tight in his neck and his hands not letting up on shoving his cock into him over and over. He secretly loved how touching Harry made him feel like he was on some kind of trip, where his body was warm but his skin was cold, his alpha using his hole however he pleased. 

“Come for me,” Harry demanded softly after letting go, releasing one hand to hold Zayn’s chin down as they sloppily kissed. It wasn’t until Harry began to truly bounce Zayn on his dick that they pulled away, the latter’s whimpers getting in the way of their lips. “It’s almost over, yeah? Come again, sweetheart, it’s okay.” 

“Can’t,” Zayn shook his head, but Harry just smiled gently, cradling his face in his hand and slowing their movements to a lazy pace. “I really don’t think I can.” 

“I think you can,” Harry could feel how Zayn’s rim was clenching around his knot every time he thrusted in, his breathing becoming erratic, and his moans becoming desperate. These are all things he should not be able to recognize in their first time having sex, but incidentally, Harry had been waiting for a person like Zayn his entire life. “Yeah, that’s it, babe.” 

His omega came with a scream and Harry promptly shoved him down onto his knot, shushing him and kissing his face. Zayn was shivering, so Harry brought the duvet up, it seemed like the heat was fading. “Turn your head this way, babe.” 

“Neck’s sore,” Zayn grumbled, shaking his head and faceplanting right into the center of Harry’s chest. “Leave me alone, I have to focus on keeping your disgustingly large cock inside of—“ 

Disgustingly large?” Harry blinked. “It’s…average alpha size. It’s not disgustingly large.” 

“One day I will make a dildo of your dick and shove it up in you, and then we will see how averagely sized it is, Styles,” Zayn’s eyes were dark. “I feel split open, used, broken in. It’s quite a disorienting disposition.” 

Harry scoffed, “Babe, if I didn’t do all of those things to you, your heat would be another day longer. You also came like a dozen times—“ 

Zayn scoffed back a response, “It’s not my fault that my body wants to make a baby.” Harry’s face flushed at that, and Zayn giggled when he quickly looked away. “What, you like the idea of me having your baby?” 

“You could say that to any alpha and they’d get shy,” Harry deflected, but not well. “Oh, leave me alone, will you? I’m trying to knot here.” 

“It feels weird,” Zayn shifted, tugging on Harry’s dick and the both of them shrieked. “Fuck, I shouldn’t move, should I?” 

“It does feel weird,” Harry agreed, prodding ever so slightly at Zayn’s rim. “You okay?” 

Zayn was not okay, grinding his hips in a circle to confirm his hypothesis. “I think the condom broke.” 

“That’s impossible, alpha condoms can hold up to fifty gallons of water.” 

“That tells me nothing, I don’t use your superfluous American measurements.” 

Superfluous? ” 

“Hazza, I’m serious. For someone who gets strangely bossy and dark in bed, you seem to be keen on joking,” Zayn snapped, suddenly squeezing his eyes shut. “Fuck.” 

“Fuck,” Harry felt it too, another part inside of Zayn opening and the sensations felt different. “The condom ripped, fuck, the condom ripped.” 

“Was there a Plan B in that heat kit?” Zayn asked, struggling to breathe as the head of Harry’s cock began to breach at his cervix. “Oh my god, that’s…” 

Harry was quicking losing control as well, “I’m sorry, ‘m sorry, can’t pull out, can’t pull out.” 

“It’s okay,” Zayn shut him up by placing a hand over his mouth. “We reap what we sow. We’ll just…get a Plan B later and it’ll be fine, right?” 

“Have you never been on suppressants before?” Harry was panicking as Zayn was fighting the urge to shimmy harder down onto Harry, toes curling at each wave of warmth reaching within him to a whole new level. “Like, never ever?” 

“Never ever,” Zayn’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and Harry groaned, feeling ten times more sensitive than before. “Harry, stop doing that.” 

“I’m sorry, I can’t help it,” Harry retorted, trying to figure out if there was a way he could mentally stop himself from coming more. “We’re so, so stupid.” 

“You think I don’t know that?” Zayn slapped at his chest. “You got bad condoms.” 

“They can hold fifty gallons of water! How was I supposed to know that it would disappoint us in such a way?” Harry held Zayn’s waist still and they stared at each other in complete blankness. “Yeah, it’ll all be okay.” 

“Yeah, totally. Just…Plan B and we’ll be okay,” Zayn repeated out loud, and together they slowly nodded unconvincingly. “Was this a whole scheme to try and trap me?” 

“Zayn,” Harry looked dumbfounded, “That’s rape. No.” 

“Sorry, I have trust issues,” Zayn agreed with him, and apologized for even accusing him of such a heinous thing. “It’s just…I trust you, in this strange way. You’re the only one who can get me to write five page essays and crawl out of air conditioning vents.” 

Harry snorted, “That’s all it takes to trust someone?” 

Zayn shrugged, “I’ve never felt more safe during a heat in my entire life. And yeah, maybe I’m still high and maybe all of this is just some nonsensical bullshit that I’ll forget I said and maybe this is just some kind of dream, because I’ve been having a lot of those lately.” He panted, getting ever so sensitive. 

“Please don’t squeeze, it makes me come more,” Harry begged, but was blushing at what the beautiful boy just said. “You been dreaming ‘bout me?” 

Zayn slapped his chest again, “More or less. And sorry, it’s hard to control your own muscles when a disgustingly—averagely sized dick is being shoved up into places you didn’t even know existed.” 

“You’re really mean to me sometimes,” Harry decided that now was the best time to confront him. “But I kinda like it. I thought you were the quiet sub type, so it was a real surprise to witness how much you mouth off.” 

“You’re mean to me too,” Zayn sniffled. “You’re making me go back to rehab.” 

“Look where we are, babe. Look at what we’re doing right now. You really telling me you want to be high for this?” Harry asked, and Zayn’s never been asked such a question before. 

“I don’t get high for those reasons,” Zayn blinked and looked away. 

“Then for what reasons?” Harry ran a hand through Zayn’s scalp and it felt so motherfucking good. 

“I…” Zayn’s voice trailed off. “I guess I just like seeing them again.” 

“Seeing who again? When you hallucinate? When you go missing for hours and the neighbors find you in the park covered in your own puke?” Harry wasn’t letting up, and deep down, Zayn appreciated it. 

“I hate dancing,” Zayn shrugged. “But I miss it.” 

Harry opened his mouth to reply, but decided not to press further. When he could finally release them from each other, he pulled out slowly to assess the damage. “We’re so fucking stupid. A pair of imbeciles, cretins.” 

Zayn just sighed, assertively pushing Harry’s chin up and planting a firm kiss. “You’re the worst, you know that, Styles? You know more about me than my parents do, and I don’t know how you did it.” 

Harry leaned forward and kissed him back. “It’s not a trick, I swear on my mom’s life.” 

“Don’t do that, don’t bet on things that aren’t your own.” Zayn sighed again, looking at Harry’s ‘hopelessly in love’ expression. 

He wondered if it was real. 

If it wasn’t, Harry sure was a great actor. 

He then wondered if he was being a bit too pessimistic, and if he continued he’d ruin this thing they had. If it even was a thing, which he guessed it was now considering there was an extremely high chance of him getting knocked up. 

“You look like you’re thinking, can you stop? It’s making me nervous,” Harry was wiping them off with a towel. “Feels like you’re tryna stare into my soul or somethin’.” 

Zayn kissed him again just to make sure he could live in this moment as it appeared before him, “And if I am?” just for a second. 

“You don’t need to stare so hard, I can just tell you,” Harry made that face again, that spaced-out, fucked-out, ‘I just fell in love’ face. “Stop thinking so hard all the time, Zayn. Take it from a psychologically traumatized kid, it makes you dumber than you really are.” 

“I’m traumatized too, people deal with it in different ways,” Zayn realized how right Harry was; his brain was always getting distracted and drained by the extra stuff he had floating around in it. “Maybe I like being dumber than I actually am.” 

Harry smiled and shook his head. “No you don’t.” 

Zayn’s face burned.

Yeah, he didn’t. 

Chapter Text

Zayn was a dancer.

He had watched his older sisters prance across the stage since he was three, begged his parents to enroll him into the same kind of ballet classes that they were in. They told him he’d never make it to the same class because they’re too advanced. They had no idea he’d surpass them within a year. 

His mistakes were deliberate, his technique flawless when he wished for it to be, presented emotion and skill in a never-ending turbulence fighting against each other. Before anyone knew it, the show was over and Zayn had transformed into the character he desperately wished for the audience to understand him to be.

He had many instructors over the years, having been told that he was a natural soloist and had his own studio time allotted in the back of their estate. He didn’t like a single one of them; didn’t let anyone tell him how to be good, all but two. 

An American couple who had moved to England after being scouted by the Royal Ballet House got the job. They were tall, elegant, and didn’t say a word when Zayn rehearsed, which was the aspect he liked most about them. If he slipped, they silently snapped and fixed his body into the right positions, when they enjoyed it, they nodded and smiled like they’d found something rare. 

Zayn loved being looked at like he was something rare; loved placing his station in the world not as an heir, but an artist. Often times, he’d tell his instructors that he could hear the colors in the sky, that he was swimming in a desert, and falling off of the moon. 

Nothing could tear him from dancing, it was his lifeline. If Louis was the thread he was hanging onto, the art was the needle. 

They did many duets together, Zayn always inadvertently outshining his best friend on the stage. Louis constantly complained about rehearsal and about how much his feet hurt, but like his instructors, Zayn put a finger over his own mouth and motioned to Louis the voices he was ignoring, wisps of a scene before their birth, whispering secrets that they’d never rebel against. 

When his parents found out, they sent him to a psychiatrist. There, they told them that Zayn was just a little different from the rest of the world, and if he stopped moving the world would swallow him into the Earth. They offered him ADHD medication, but Zayn refused time and time again, insisting that he would he lost without his fanciful outlook on life. 

His instructors retired from the Royal House of Ballet after just a few years, they had reached their mid-thirties and became fully committed to Zayn privately, producing masterpieces out of his body at every competition and show. By the time Louis quit dance, Zayn and the Americans were a brand; his second set of parents, the ones that knew him not as a human but as a wave of energy never settling on the earth. 

They spent nearly fifteen years together. 

Then one day, at around three in the morning, the Americans put their initial plan into action. From the very beginning they had conspired to rob Zayn’s family and all the families on the same street, knowing extensively how to get to all of the jewels now that Trisha and Yaser trusted them enough to give them a key. 

They broke in silently, cutting straight through the dance studio and into the main house, where they snuck up to the second floor where the office was, and also Zayn’s bedroom. Their plan was simple; there’d be a second alarm that’d be triggered after they’d opened the safe, so they had a ladder thrown out from the window in preparation to run. 

They did not account for Zayn’s ADHD tendencies and that he had severe insomnia at the time. When he heard footsteps outside of his bedroom that he didn’t recognize the gait of, he stopped and snuck out to see who it was. 

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. 

The safe did have a second alarm, and when it was triggered, Zayn screamed and they yanked him in, had masks but he could recognize their faces, trembling as they held a gun to his head. 

In minutes, his parents and the security guards posted at the front of the estate blocked off the room, the two sides yelling at each other while Zayn’s world slowly started to become very dark. 

He recognized the perfume, the hands, the eyes, and bodies that were squeezing him within an inch of his life. It was then he realized a simple truth: He was not a dancer. He never was. 

How silly of him to believe that he was anything more than his name, and with the heavy steel being pressed to his temple, he bitterly wondered if the world was even worth entertaining at all. The air was just air. The water he danced and swam through drained into the floor, and so did the moon; all mirages and idiotic creations that they enabled him to worship. 

It didn’t feel real, the angry and horrified looks on his parents’ faces, the shouting of the Americans in response, he had never heard their voices so loudly before. He thought dissociatively on how genuine they sounded in their threats to kill him. 

After a while, they harshly threw him to the ground and made a run for it, using their ladder as an escape, but being first professional dancers before professional thieves, they failed to make it out of the grounds. 

Zayn went into shock, his leg broken, and everything moved in stifling slow motion. He could hear nothing but two heavy gunshots ringing in tandem outside. 

They converted the dance studio to a library. 

He learned how to swallow all his pills like a good boy.

Eventually they made it back to Zayn’s house. 

“I’m a master at swallowing pills, you don’t need to stare at me so hard.” Zayn tells Harry, rolling his eyes as he swallowed down the morning after pill with a glass of water. 

“Sorry, just nervous, I guess,” Harry exhales and gets up, pacing around the room whilst fidgeting his hands, “I’m sorry.” 

“It wasn’t your fault,” Zayn shook his head, holding out a hand for Harry to grab. “It was an accident. We’ll be okay.” 

Harry laughed quietly, “Just a couple hours ago I was the one comforting you.” 

“Just a couple hours ago, I was high as a kite and wouldn’t have made it home unless a certain American carried me there,” Zayn stands up, still holding Harry’s hand as they walk out of the bedroom. “So you are still an angel in my eyes.” 

“What’s that room right there?” Harry asked, stopping Zayn before he could lead him to the stairs. “Is it another library?” He turns to Zayn, who briefly looked in the general direction and visibly tensed up.

“No, it’s not.” He tugs Harry and they go downstairs. 

“Oh, okay,” Harry resolves and lets the small person drag him around, feed him breakfast, and unleash his sister onto him. “Hello, Miss Safaa.” 

“He called me ‘miss!’” Safaa’s voice was sharp so early in the morning. “You’re so weird.” 

“Can you not be rude, Saf?” Zayn flicked her forehead and she ran off, red in the face and most definitely about to tattle. “Sorry.” 

“I like her, she’s smart,” Harry says oddly, considering he hasn’t seen her do or say anything that would warrant such praise. “Like you.” 

Zayn snorts as he takes mugs out of the cabinet for a cuppa, “I’m not smart.” 

“Could you just accept the compliment, please? I’m not liking this negativity.” Harry crossed his arms and raises an eyebrow, Zayn just rolled his eyes. 

“Being in this house causes negativity to stew in me, I sincerely apologize.” 

“Nah, it doesn’t stew in you,” Harry says wisely, “You absorb it and convert it back out into colors. I’ve seen you do it, when you talk about your favorite books and…when you laugh.” 

Zayn stares at him for a moment. 

How strange and uncommon this bloke was. Rare, maybe. 

“He fucked you against the wall?” Louis sputtered, nearly spitting out his chlorophyll water. “Jesus, he doesn’t look that strong in his pictures.” 

“They lie,” Zayn shrugged. “The condom also broke.” 

Now there was green water all over the floor. “Excuse me?” 

Without missing a beat, Zayn threw paper towels on the liquid and moved them around with his foot, “I took Plan B. Don’t worry.” 

“Don’t worry? Did you just—“ Louis slammed the glass down and ran over to the other side of the counter. “Zayn, what if you get pregnant?” 

“I won’t.” 

“But what if you do, though?” Louis exasperatedly throws his hands in the air, looking more distressed than Zayn in light of this information. “What will you do?” 

“I’ll marry him, I guess.” 

“You serious?” 

“I don’t see why not.” 

Louis blinked at him. “Please tell me what you’re on. I’m serious, Zayn,” 

Zayn laughed, genuinely throwing his head back and only stopping when he remembered how Harry said he could see colors erupting when he laughed. He quickly looked back down and drank his own glass of green water, cheeks pink. “I’m not on anything, I’m actually going to start rehab next week.” 

Louis raised an eyebrow, “Really? Are you sure about that?” 

“Not full rehab, that’d be a waste of time. Therapy. Group meetings. Maybe even confess to a priest every once in a while,” Zayn looked very serious. “I need to change my life, Lou.” 

“I meant,” Louis shook him by the shoulders. “You’d marry that guy? You know, you’ve only known him for a few months and he’s…well, he’s American, I’m sure you can place the conflict of interest there.” 

“It’s exactly why I’d marry him, if need be,” Zayn wrapped his arms around Louis’ waist and pulled him in. “But let’s not get too drastic.” 

“Yeah, let’s not,” Louis kissed his forehead as they rocked from side to side. “I still don’t understand, but they say that you fall in love with the things you don’t understand.” 

“Which is why I’m moving out, Liam,” Louis informed him as he packed his bags, neatly folding every shirt and counting all of his shoes. “I’m going to live anywhere but this godforsaken house and you can either come with me or stay here.” 

Liam looked tired, the bags under his eyes getting emphasized when he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Lou.”

“I’ll never be able to understand myself, but I can at least love me if I tried. Right now, I don’t think I love me , Liam. I don’t like waiting for you to visit and waiting for you to say yes to the things that would change our lives. I love you, but some people were never meant to feel this captured.” 

“You feel captured?” Liam’s voice cracked. 

“That’s not what I meant, but along the same vein, yes,” Louis clicked his suitcase shut. “I want to write a book about Naples in Naples. I want to pet rhinos and walk on the Great wall of China, and if that means giving up being your practice wife, I’ll do it.” 

“Louis, I love you.” 

“‘I love you too’...and we still haven’t fixed anything.” Louis didn’t know if it would work or not, but he was damn well not going to be a loser ‘cause he didn’t try. 

Liam just of just sat down on his bed and rubbed the back of his neck, and for a second, Louis cracked and considered just giving it up for today. 

Well, no. “Liam, I’m—I’m going.” Louis picked his two sloppily packed cases up, floundering around because of the weight, and that’s when Liam cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. 

Ah, shit. 

He slowly walked out of the doorway, chest going up and down heavily as he did so, lip twitching and eyes blinking furiously. He got about six steps into the hallway before he seriously considered just dropping it and running into Liam’s arms, but right before he could do so… 

“Lou, wait.” 

Well. Louis stopped, and made a show of turning around. “Yes?” 

Liam crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “So where are we moving?” 

Louis broke into a large grin from ear to ear and dropped the stupid cases to jump at him, Liam chuckling when he caught him. “I don’t fucking know, I was just gonna stay the night at Zaynie’s if you didn’t stop me.” 

“Wow, you little—“ Liam was cut off by Louis kissing him. “—Shit. You’re a little shit.” 

“No I’m not, I’m your baby.” Louis poked his face, jutting out his lower lip as Liam carried them back into his room. 

Liam muttered to himself, “‘Practice wife?’ Really? Maybe I should’ve just let you,” Louis began to nuzzle his face into his neck, which always drove him mad, “...Of course I was gonna stop you.” 

When Charlie got home from work, there was an envelope waiting for him on the shoe cabinet. This shoe cabinet was grand and expensive and housed enough shoes to make it look like it was a family of ten that lived here. It precluded the four bedroom flat, separate kitchen and dining table, a modest parlor and a modest living room and a modest three toilets. 

His name was written in calligraphy, the penmanship immaculate, the stationary ribbed and soft, and his full name spelled out like he was a king or summat. 

Chartreuse Beau Axton. 

A name that hinted on the borders of either a prostitute or a highborn trust-fund baby, he would always tell people. Maybe it was just self defense in part of his embarrassment because of it. Maybe it was because he didn’t understand why he was named in such a way. Maybe it was because he didn’t know to which ‘Axton’ he belonged. 

But he opened it, the paper scuffing dust into the air and he pulled out two tickets for the Royal Ballet presenting “Mayerling.” 

“Wow,” was all he could say, he’d never been to the ballet before lest that part of town. A separate note was tucked behind the tickets, and he instantly recognized the farewell’s name. 

I know you’ve been apprehensive about us lately, about how different our lives are. I want to propose a deal: we enter my world one day, yours the next, and so on. I love the ballet. I hope you will too.


“I mean, okay, I guess,” Charlie muttered to himself, taking off his shoes, dropping the envelope onto the table, and making a beeline for the shower. He didn’t want Niall to come home to him smelling like another man’s cologne. But then again, he didn’t want Niall finding out a lot of things. 

After bathing, he dried his hair with one hand and searched on Google what Mayerling was. It auto searched to ‘Mayerling incident.’ Charlie always did his research, always carefully planned, he’d die if he was stuck in a situation unprepared. 

A horrid story about a young man committing adultery with a woman half his age, having been already unhappily married to a princess, their love was secretive, explosive, destructive. He killed her and sat by her body for hours before poisoning himself. 

Maybe Charlie was just dehydrated when he felt a tug on his throat, but for some reason, he imagined the story as the seventeen year old Mary Vetsera, chasing after a man she could never have and ultimately paying the price of his insolence. It was one of the many things that led to the first World War, and speaking of war, Charlie felt like he was always on the brink of declaring it with himself. 

But why not? It was just a ballet show, a night where he could wear a pretty outfit and hang off of Niall’s arm and bat his eyelashes at the life he was apparently trying to fit into. 

There are many things he’d never say to Niall, out of embarrassment, mostly. One of the them being what actually happened to his ex-boyfriend. Another being that said ex-boyfriend walked into the Advantage earlier that night to “pay his favorite birdie a visit.” 

It was the very first time Zayn had the courage to shove Sean off of him on his way to the study center. In the past, the impending contact would take over his entire body, but today, he had too many responsibilities and cumbersome thoughts to entertain a simpleton. 

He even dramatized a bit by making a face as he slithered out of Sean’s domineering grasp, the students of the courtyard howling as his witnesses. 

Harry was at the door, he was clearly about to run out and save Zayn but stopped when he saw that he didn’t need saving.

Zayn smiled and gave Harry a hug; he liked this kind of power. 

Watch me. Watch me. They want a show. Make Sean mad. Make Harry fall in love with me. 

Don’t fall in love with Harry. Keep things interesting, the world will change the channel if they get bored, right?

“Did you finish that last paper?” Harry pulled back and smoothly secured Zayn’s hand in his, Zayn watching him do so. “Pretty easy, right?” 

“Too easy,” Zayn smiled coyly, practically skipping into the building whilst training his eyes on the reflection in the glass and how boiling mad Sean Montgomery was. “Harry, you have something in your hair.” 

“Hm?” Harry reached his free hand to his head, but it was on the opposite side, so Zayn tugged him down and removed it for him. 

“You had a leaf in your hair and you didn’t notice?” Zayn twirled the pretty orange and yellow stem in between his fingers. “You know what, I think I’ll keep it.” 

“That’s embarrassing,” Harry groaned. “I’ve been at school for two hours now.” 

“It’s cute,” Zayn insisted, placing the leaf in between the pages of a hardback copy of “Great Expectations” that he always kept in his bag. “I guess you’re cute too.” 

Harry snorted and flashed a crooked smile at him, and suddenly, the world didn’t matter anymore. Zayn was just Zayn, and Harry reminded him of that every single day. 

Oh, “don’t fall in love with Harry” my arse. 

Who was he kidding. 

Harry shipped Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s just so Zayn could try ‘em and hate them. 

He made him fajitas and reuben sandwiches and key lime pies, and it was the very first time in Zayn’s life that he’d been so enthusiastic about eating. 

They binged watched the Harry Potter movies, then all the MCU ones and at some point, tolerated Wonder Woman as a good one. They usually did these activities on Zayn’s or Harry’s couch, the fall breeze making the houses go chilly and providing the perfect excuse to cuddle. 

They never discussed if they were dating, or about possibly getting knocked up, or about that silly marriage joke that their mums played on them many months back. 

Zayn started birth control without telling his parents. 

Before they knew it, a whole ‘nother year passed, having silently held each other to sleep nearly every single night. Louis teased that Zayn was in love, and Zayn insisted that he wasn’t. He said that Louis’ claims were preposterous based on the tiny amount of information he knows thus far. What he didn’t say was that he secretly withheld the information that would sound suspicious. 

Yes, Zayn twirls Harry’s hair around his fingers as Harry reads to him Pride and Prejudice. Harry gently thumbs at Zayn’s omega spot as Zayn reads to him Anna Karenina. They have picnics on sunny days in the forest, lay out a blanket and feed each other cheese underneath the spotted sunlight given by the trees above.

They’ve helped each other with every heat and rut and didn’t even think about any other alternatives to dealing with it. Zayn longed for the times that Harry had an excuse to touch his body, because otherwise, Zayn would have to ask him to, which is forward, which is confrontational, which is scary. 

They had so many sleepovers that they had a pair of sleepwear and a toothbrush at each other’s houses, and Harry always woke up first to hold the side of Zayn’s face until he woke up and kissed his hand away. 

His parents have started to ask how it’s been going, and Zayn tells them time and time again that it is strictly platonic between them. No courting has been explicitly instigated. 

No alphas dared to go near Zayn because he smelled so strongly of Harry all the time, almost as if they were mated. Sean scowls in the background, he’s always in the background. When it comes to Harry, everyone’s always in the background for Zayn. Insignificant white noise, and the only voice he hones in on is the one that tells him he’s beautiful and smart and like no one else. 

“Zayn. Zayn. Zayn.” 

Louis was poking his nose incessantly and in fascination. 

“What the fuck do you want?” Zayn blinked and shoved Louis’ hand away, quickly remembering that he was at Louis and Liam’s flat and they were playing a game of Scrabble. He had conjured up that entire narrative of him and Harry in the span of a cycle before his turn, jesus chr—

“Jesus Christ,” Louis cut his thoughts off. “Just tell him that you like him. It’s not rocket science.” 

“As a rocket scientist, I can confirm,” Liam hummed before laying down “quip” and making Louis screech in frustration. “Look at me, Zaynie, I’m beating the English major.” 

“I can see that,” Zayn laughed, kissing Louis’ cheek lovingly as he glared at his own letters. “Calm down, it’s just a game.” 

Louis snapped his head up and towards him, “My pride is on the line. This is serious, I may have to kill my fiancé after this.” 

“I do hope you’re joking, because I just won,” Liam stuck his tongue out and Louis tried to bite it off. “Zaynie didn’t even try, and he’s about to get a Masters in English. Harry must really be all up in there.” 

Zayn went pink, “No he’s not. Leave me alone.” 

“Yeah Li, leave him alone,” Louis goaded, still looking at the board and his previous words to see when exactly Liam surpassed his advantage. “Honestly, Zaynie and Hazza are the kind of couple to get married without ever having dated.” 

“That’s ironic, it’s like an arranged marriage,” Liam chortled. “Or is it a juxtaposition?” 

“Stop trying to distract me from redeeming myself in the next round.” 

“Baby, we’ve been playing for the past two hours.” 

“I refuse to let you use this as a story to tell our future kids about how you’re better at English than me.” 

“Our future kids? You want kids?” 

“Well, yeah, you big dumb doorknob.” 

“Oh. That makes me happy.” 



Zayn had left the room five minutes ago and they were still having their awkward teenage romance conversations while blushing like teenage brides on their wedding nights. That’s what he’ll say if they asked why he dipped. 

In honesty, he just really wanted to call Harry. 

“Hello?” Zayn breathed a sigh of relief when he heard Harry’s voice, his heart playing hopscotch on his ribs. “Zayn?” 

“Hi,” Zayn whispered, and he felt tingly all over. “Just wanted to call and see what you’re up to.” 

“Oh, I’m actually with my grandma and my mom right now. They’re discussing important stuff and I’m supposed to sit in, I guess. What’re you doing?” 

“I’m playing Scrabble with the angel and the devil.” Zayn scratched at a random part of the chair he was sitting on. 

“Who won?” 

“The angel, of course,” Zayn giggled, feeling electricity going all up inside and out of his body. “He’s quite good.” 

“Even though the devil is an English major?” 

Zayn confirmed, “Yes. It’s like I’m invisible, they’re all up on each other all the time.” 

“Zayn, isn’t your heat starting? Maybe head home soon, yeah? I’ll be with you once you get home.” Harry’s voice went noticeably quieter. 

“Yeah, I won’t keep you from the uber important meeting. See you soon, big strong alpha.” Zayn drawled, and Harry chuckled as they hung up. 

When he walked back into the room, Louis was on top of Liam and they were fervently making out, so Zayn made the executive decision as to not intrude them in their baby making session. He slipped on his coat and shoes and walked to his house, the sun setting at a disturbingly early hour. 

Harry was waiting for him at the gate, and if Zayn didn’t remember that he lived just down the street, he’d be surprised of his eagerness. But this is just two friends helping each other out, right? 

“Kicked everyone out?” Harry immediately wrapped an arm around his waist as they walked into a very large and very empty home. 

“Yup, they’re all at my nan’s,” Zayn grinned, and Harry put a hand on his forehead. “Am I hot?” 

“In every which way,” Harry winked. “I’ll run you a cold bath.” 

“No, just take me to bed now,” Zayn shook his head and clasped their hands together. Harry looked a little shocked, maybe even a little bit conflicted, and while Zayn tried not to notice, he noticed. “Some...something wrong?” 

Harry blinked and shook his head, “No, nothing’s wrong. Come on, I bet I can beat my record from last time.” 

“Last time was thirteen hours, I highly doubt you can get more giving than that.” Zayn pulled off his clothes and yanked Harry onto his bed, feeling the rush of heat and fire bubble inside of him. The air was already starting to get thick with pheromones, and Harry was all so familiar with being in between Zayn’s thighs. 

“Wanna ride me?” Harry’s voice was low and gruff in his ear, hands pressing down on Zayn’s stomach and keeping him pinned to the bed. “Take control?” 

“Yeah,” Zayn whined, sweat making his hair stick and feel more needy, making Harry flip them over so that he was on his lap. “I’ll be good for you.” 

“I know,” Harry held Zayn’s hips steady as he sank down onto his cock, moaning and getting louder the deeper he went. “You’re always good for me.” 

Zayn whined again at that, high pitched and sounding so soft and cute, blush covering his cheeks and his glasses slipping off of his face. He yelped and dropped his jaw every time Harry pulled him back down, pre-cum leaking all over Harry’s stomach and his toes flexing every few minutes. “Harry, ‘m gonna come again.” 

“Yeah, babe,” Harry took his glasses off whilst kissing, gently holding Zayn’s jaw with a firm grip as they smashed faces together. “The fucking noises you make, god.” 

“Haz, shush.” Zayn groaned, eyes fluttering shut and his head thrown back, neck shiny with sweat and somehow screamed more erotiscm than anyone Harry had ever seen, the way that Zayn moved was enthralling and captivating. 

“You really are a ballerina,” He said off-handedly, in between grunts and harsh upward thrusts. Zayn looked at him dazed, through his eyelashes he read Harry’s face. That same expression, conflicted and struggling to hide it, was preventing Zayn from drowning the world out. 

By the time he knotted and Zayn came for a third time, they were well and truly spent, Zayn laying on his chest as Harry slowly slid down the headrest so his own back was touching the mattress. Their skin stuck together and Zayn could hear only his breath and the sound of Harry’s heart wildly beating. 

“Hm, what’s this?” Harry asked, easily reaching over to the nightstand for a crumpled piece of paper. “Oh, it’s a number.” 

“Just some rando gave it to me, told them I’m not interested,” Zayn sighed, melting into Harry’s embrace. “You’re unusually observant.” 

“I like being unusual, makes for a better surprise,” Harry kissed his head. “Were they cute?” 

“Who?” Zayn looked up at him. 

“The person who gave you this number.” 

Something in Zayn’s throat closed and his body felt tight, “Uh…I mean, I didn’t really notice.” 

“If they were, maybe you should go for it,” Harry said nonchalantly, and Zayn felt like he was being imprisoned. 

“Just tell him that you like him. It’s not rocket science.” 

Perhaps it should be. 

“I’m going to pass on that,” Zayn chuckled weakly after his mind scrambled to collect itself. “What” 

“Actually,” Harry gave a soft grunt when he pulled out of Zayn, positioning them so that the latter’s head was tucked underneath the former’s chin. “I have to tell you something.” 

Maybe Zayn should just come out and say it, before Harry says anything or beats him to it. 



“You first,” Harry immediately replied, and like a reflex, Zayn said the same thing. 

He nervously bit his lip as he watched Harry’s lip get ready to move, and right when he opened his mouth he shouted, “Wait, Harry.” 

“Hm?” Harry was thoroughly confused, and Zayn chickened out again. “Oh, okay.” 

“So you were saying?” Zayn’s voice cracked and he hoped Harry didn’t notice. 

“The meeting today with my mom and grandma, turns out my grandma’s letting me go back to L.A. My mom needs me at the company.” 

The world drowned itself out. Zayn went frozen, couldn’t even blink. It was nearly impossible for him to fathom what Harry just said. “But—“ 

“But?” He asked, really wanting Zayn to finish at least one sentence. 

“You and I,” Zayn managed to get out, but it diverted, “We’re a team. How am,” He choked, “I supposed to graduate university now?” 

Harry looked like he was about to cry, but Zayn wasn’t sure if it was just him hoping it so. “You’re the smartest person I know. If all else fails, I know you’ll manage to make something out of it.” 

Stupid Harry. Stupid, stupid, stupid. 

“I think I’m gonna get some water,” Zayn pushed himself away and rolled into an upright position, suddenly nauseous and his vision going blurry. He quickly tied his robe around his waist and sped out of the room, knocking his back to the wall before sliding down with a hand covering his mouth. 

He looked to his left, and there it was. The festering pit of bad luck and demons and nightmares, Zayn got up on shaky legs and stomped towards it, getting to the door and yanking it open. 

The office was empty, of course it was. They just kept it closed all these years out of courtesy, and yet, Zayn could vividly remember every single furniture piece and book and chair that once lived inside it. 

Their names were Bella and Ryan. Principal dancers of the Royal Ballet, the same people who taught Zayn how to make moving effortless were amateurish robbers, so stupid enough to end up getting shot in his backyard for tresspassing. 

He heard Harry’s footsteps behind him, “Zayn? What’re you doing? It’s cold in here.” He was just finishing the last buckle on his belt.

“I heard you earlier,” Tears were rolling down his cheeks. “And I’m gonna say it again. I’m not a dancer. Never was or will be.” 

“I don’t understand.” 

“I’m a name and a face and a hole to fuck and a legacy to drag around.” Zayn spat, fists trembling as he moved to stand in the dead center of the room. 

“Wait, what? Zayn,” 

“When do you leave?” He didn’t turn to face Harry. 

“In two days. It was really last minute, they held off on telling me because they knew I’d try and refuse.” 

Zayn felt broken. He wiped his face and turned around, walking past Harry and headed for the stairs. “You can start packing, then.” 

“Zayn?” Harry sounded panicked, footsteps chasing after his. “Zayn, wait.” 

“No,” Zayn was so angry that he couldn’t do anything but cry. “I’m so stupid. I’ve wasted everybody’s time.” 

Harry reached out and Zayn dodged his hands. “Please, listen to me.” 

“I don’t want you to touch me.” 

“Zayn, I—“ 

“No,” Zayn looked at the floor. “It’s okay. You’re a, you’re a gem, alright? I’ve learned a lot from you and—“ 

“This isn’t a permanent goodbye.”

“Isn’t it, though?” Zayn was so angry. “It seems like you’ve been wanting to go back. ‘Send the sun my love or some shit.’” 

Harry followed him further into the kitchen, “Zayn, I have more to tell you.” 

“I don’t,” Zayn put his hands on the counter to steady himself. “It’s okay, Harry, really.” 

“No, I—“

I love you. “Please go.” The tone of Zayn’s voice made Harry’s heart shatter. 

He looked back down to the ground and decided against touching Zayn, even though all his hand wanted to do was hold the side of Zayn’s face until he kissed it away. “I’ll be back. I swear on everything.” 

“I can’t do this right now,” Zayn gasped, walking away again. “Please go.” 

Harry looked at Zayn’s back and they stood in silence for a while, one feeling confused and the other feeling like this was some kind of practical joke from the universe. “We’ve been friends for almost two years and you’re just going to let me go like this?” 

Zayn was always good at being bitter, so yes. 

“I’m coming back for you.” 

He didn’t respond. Harry bit back a tear and turned around, grabbing his coat from the hook and running out the door. 

It felt like he was running out of home, so in a moment of confusion he turned around to look at the house, just to remind himself that it wasn’t his and probably never will be. Not now anyways. He didn’t understand what he did wrong, but maybe he’s getting overly sad about it. 

So he walked out of the gate backwards, still staring at the house up to Zayn’s window, wishing the light would flicker on and he’d see him crawling out to the tree again. 

But before he could give up, he bumped into another person on the pavement, making him lose his grip and fall backwards onto his behind. “Oh shit, I’m so sorry.” 

“I’m sorry,” The man he ran into was blonde and looked very fancy, at least fancy in Harry’s eyes, with nice blue eyes and a heavy looking watch. “Are you alright?” 

“No no no, it was my fault,” Harry got up and dusted himself off sheepishly, feeling too shy to look up at this very proper looking guy. “I should’ve looked where I was going.” 

“I think we all feel that way sometimes,” Blondie hummed, smiling a peculiar smile at him. “I know this is rude, but are you from America?” 

“Yeah, yeah I am,” Harry rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “...Just visiting, though.” 

“My name is Niall,” Blondie outstretched his hand. “My family’s estate is down the block. It’s a very strange thing to see an American walking out of that house.” He pointed to said house, Harry’s head following the direction. 

“Why so?” Harry’s brow furrowed when he saw that Zayn’s bedroom light still wasn’t on. 

“Well,” Niall shrugged. “Because of that accident that happened when I was a kid, I remember I used to play with Zayn a lot, but afterward the incident he just never seemed to come outside.” 

Harry looked back at him, making very confrontational eye contact. “What accident?” 

Niall shook his head, “Ah. Sorry, I’ve said too much, it’s really not my place. He’s just my neighbor, and you’re the lad that I just ran over.” 

Harry nodded, understanding. “My name’s Harry Styles-Selley. My grandma lives down the street too.” 

“Selley,” Niall smiled again. “What a small world!” He clapped Harry on the back like they were friends. 

“I guess so?” Harry chuckled awkwardly. “Where are you from?” 

“My family’s Irish, but we live here more. And you?” 

“Los Angeles.” 

“That’s very cool.” 

“Yeah,” Harry looked back at Zayn’s house again and his voice went quiet. “I guess it is.” 

“Well, let me know if you’re ever back in London; I’ll buy you dinner.” Niall opened the keypad on his phone. “Number?” 

“Oh,” Harry smiled politely, giving it to him even though Niall could be a serial killer for all he knew. But he wasn’t really in the position to care. “Text me. I’ll be sure to keep in touch.” 

“Glad it was you I ran into tonight,” Niall’s eyes twinkled underneath the moonlight. “My family knows Miss Gertrude well.” 

“It seems almost every family in this neighborhood does,” Harry shrugged, laughed. “It’s like one big web of families that have too much to lose.” 

Niall howled at that, throwing his head back at how hilarious he thought it was, “Yeah, you’re very right.” 

“I better head.” Harry said and Niall nodded. They went their separate ways, Niall walking into the night as Harry stuck by the lampposts, each footfall feeling heavier than the next. 

Zayn will call him in the morning, he was sure of it.