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Fic Post: The Rose Ch 1

Title: The Rose
Author: ranka_lee
Fandom: One Direction
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Zayn/Liam, Louis/Harry
Warnings: Some homophobic slurs, depression, past bullying that has effected a character's life
Word count: 31,031
Disclaimer: Please do not send this to the boys. I don't believe any of this to be true and I'm not making money off of this.
Summary: Zayn works at a comic book shop and hates his life. Everything turns around when Liam enters his shop one day.
Prompt 2: Songfic: The Rose by Bette Midler + marriage scene (because I'm having rom com feels!)
A/N: I really, really recommend you read this on my AO3. This fic was not meant to be in chapters so please read it as it was meant to be read on AO3. This is my entry for the ziam_exchange written for brolem. Well, this is definitely the longest fic I have ever written. It's been my baby and my top priority since I was assigned it. This fic has a romantic comedy feel like requested and includes Daddy!kink, bottom!Zayn, feeling unworthy, unrequited love, and pining. Inspired by the song The Rose by Bette Midler from the second prompt requested. Thank you so, so much to greenteaduck for editing and listening to me talk about One Direction all the time. I really hope you enjoy this fic brolem!


The Rose Chapter One

Life as a twenty year old is not all it's cracked up to be. When you're a kid all you want to be is in your twenties. That age where you're finally an adult but still beautiful and young. You think by then you'll have everything figured out. Have a car, career, degree. Hell, maybe even a relationship. All your troubles will disappear. Those bullies in public school? Gone. Homework? Bye! Family bossing you around? So long!

Yeah, don't believe the movies or songs, kid. Being twenty is shit.


Zayn flips through a Batwoman comic that came in last Wednesday. He’s in charge of the comic book store he works at while his boss steps out to grab Wendy's for the two of them. He reads the comic with tired eyes. He loves Batwoman, who doesn't? He's just so friggin' tired of the routine his life has become.

He sighs dramatically and takes off his glasses to clean them on his shirt. The thing is Zayn is the tragic age of twenty one. The age where you are now fully aware that being in your twenties is crap. The days of his parent's generation where being in your twenties usually meant you were engaged with a good career are now long gone.

Instead Zayn works full time at a comic book store barely making enough money to pay rent. Luckily his roommate Niall is like the human form of sunshine and charms the landlord into pushing back the date the rent is due. While in his spare time Zayn goes out at night and is a graffiti artist. 'Cause making your feelings into anonymous art is way easier than talking about them.

Also this shit at being engaged at twenty one? It's laughable. The last thing Zayn has on his mind is a committed relationship. The idea just freaks him out. After a few failed relationships each ending more awfully than the last Zayn decided it was time to stop trying.

Despite what people may think about Zayn he's actually quite passionate. He loves fiercely and is affectionate towards all his friends. Each break up for him just left him feeling depressed and confused about what he did wrong.

Luckily his friend, Louis is his one man support group. Louis can read Zayn like he's an open book. Louis would practically live in Zayn and Niall's apartment while Zayn went through the process of working through his break ups.

Especially since Zayn couldn't call his mum about the break ups whenever they happened. It may seem embarrassing, selfish or silly for some people to not have come out to their family by Zayn's age. Especially since Zayn has known he's gay since, who knows? Who actually remembers when they realized they were gay, anyways? All Zayn knows is that he knew a long time ago. Enough time to make him feel guilty for not sharing it with his family by now.

Zayn loves his family more than anything in the world. His friends being a close second though. The fact that he's had three relationships and his family didn't even know about them bothers the shit out of him. He'd come home for Eid clearly upset about something causing his mum and three sisters to be curious and worried. Lying about what was bothering him and keeping quiet but wanting to scream at the same time.

It's just the thought of coming out and saying, “I'm gay” to his family seems like the scariest thing he can think of. It almost feels too personal. Like when he tells them they'll suddenly know all about everything he's done with other men or wants to do. He gets tense when he's watching television with his family and there is a queer couple. Like maybe his family could tell by the way he reacts that he's also gay. It's ridiculous to think this way, Zayn knows that. His family loves him he just feels like what if they judged him and loved him a bit less cause he is gay?

Zayn puts his thick rimmed hipster glasses back on his face. He can hear the mix tape he made for the store quietly playing. When it's Zayn's turn to work the long shift he gets to choose the music and that makes him happier than anyone can understand.

He hums along quietly to the Drake track that is playing. Moving his head with the rhythm like he's rapping with it. He continues to read the Batwoman comic not even hearing the door open when his boss gets back with food.

“Here,” he says, then notices that Zayn is just standing at the counter reading, “Remember to stock the My Little Pony display, it's empty again.”

Zayn cringes remembering the strange, heavy breathing men who came in and bought all the My Little Pony merchandise before. “Sure.”

“You're a champ,” his boss says as he puts the Frosty Zayn ordered on the counter.

Zayn continues to read the comic, he's almost done it. He'll stock the display in a second.

“You didn't get me anything?!” Zayn looks up to see Louis in front of him. Well, he won't be stocking the display anytime soon now.

“Sorry, man,” Zayn shrugs his skinny tattooed shoulders at Louis as he takes the first sip of his Frosty.

“Whatever it's fine, you look like you need it more than me anyways. Why do you look so down, eh?” Louis asks with only slight concern as he plays with a Final Fantasy action figure that is on the counter.

Zayn bites his bottom lip and looks away shaking his head, “Nothing.”

Louis looks up at him now with his big blue eyes. “Okay, now you're lying.”

Zayn looks at him raising his eyebrows with a look that says I'm-not-lying-you're-just-nosy.

“Fine, don't talk. I'll talk,” Zayn huffs a breath, cause when is Louis ever the one not talking? “Last night, oh man, you should'a heard it! Harry made the dirtiest noise when he clima-”

“Shut up!” Zayn puts his hands out in a stop motion. “I already deal enough with your PDA, I don't need to hear stories about it as well!”

“You'd listen to my stories if you were getting shagged too,” Louis runs a hand through his hair.

“I'm getting laid,” Zayn says seriously, 'cause it is true.

“Yeah, but I mean if you were getting fucked with more intention than to just be fucked.” Louis says not lowering his voice, even though there are at least three children in hearing distance right now.

Zayn scoffs, “I'm happy, mate. You have Harry and you're happy and shit. That kind'a stuff isn't for me.”

“Well, your street art has been telling me otherwise.” Louis taunts with a smile.

Zayn stiffens and pauses for a moment. “What did you see...?” Zayn's street art is personal, so personal to him. He knows Louis has stumbled upon some of it but Zayn wonders if Louis seeks it out. “Are you sure it was mine, anyways?”

Louis muffles a laugh with the back of his hand, “Mate, don't act like your art is some mysterious anonymous message. You sign every piece with 'zap' in the corner, for fuck's sake.”

Zayn eyes Louis with a stern look as he takes a long sip of his frosty.

“I saw the one you did in pretty much all grey paint. There was a man's face looking tired as shit, with like a single tear starting to form in one of his eyes. I don't really know. It was sick though.” Louis states as he watches Zayn's face prove he is correct that it is Zayn's art.

“To be honest it's not as dramatic and scary as some of that other stuff you've done.” Louis says looking down at the counter. His lanky frame wearing a black Joy Division t-shirt. As well as skinny jeans that cling to him showing off his thick thighs and ass. He wears his signature Van shoes that are dirty from walking through the puddles outside.

Louis scratches the scruff on his neck, “Everything's cool, yeah?”

Zayn finishes off his frosty, “Mhmm,” he sighs an answer as he places his empty cup on the counter. Louis eyes him like Zayn isn't convincing him.

“Louis! Outta here! You're a nuisance, y'know that?” Zayn's boss shouts as he makes his way back toward the counter.

Louis gives Zayn's boss a look of pure annoyance and judgement. Which would scare off a lot of people if they didn't know Louis.

“I'm leaving,” Louis says in a low growl. He looks back at Zayn, “Harry is making dinner tonight if you wanna come over, eh? It's spaghetti.” Louis smiles cause he knows Zayn loves spaghetti.

“Yeah, and watch you two reenact Lady and The Tramp? No thanks.” Zayn responds.

Louis makes his way towards the door yelling back in a sing-song voice, “No one wants to be alone.” as he exits.

Zayn huffs a breath rolling his eyes. His boss has left and gone to the backroom of the store now leaving Zayn by himself. Zayn looks around the shop, all the customers have left without buying anything. He inhales hearing his mixtape now playing softly a Kanye West tune that's about halfway over. He nods his head to the beat with a slight smile.

Being alone is fine with him.


Zayn smokes a cigarette as he walks home from work on his way to get pizza for him and Niall. He perks up when he hears his cellphone ring. He gets it out of his back pocket seeing that his mum is calling.

He holds the phone to his ear, “'Sup, Mum?”

“How are you, Zayn? Doniya is coming home to visit and she wants to see you!” He can hear his mum say happily. Doniya is Zayn's older sister, he also has two younger sisters Safaa and Waliyha.

“I'm good, yeah. How's Doniya?” Zayn asks watching his feet as he walks.

“She's good. She has a boyfriend she wants to introduce us all too!” He can tell his mum is holding in her excitement right now.

Zayn scratches his neck, “What's he like?”

“Doniya has only told us he goes to university with her and that he enjoys football.” She replies.

“Football,” Zayn smiles taking a drag from his cigarette. He enjoys talking to his mum and his family. Talking about what's going on with his mum does make him feel bad he doesn't visit that much though.

“Yeah, I know,” She says, “That's not like our family at all!” She laughs. Zayn's family are fine with football and sports but they aren't crazy over them. Zayn used to always find excuses to get out of gym class when he was younger.

“Yeah,” His mum sighs, “What about you Zayn? Anyone special in your life?”

“Mum,” Zayn groans which is childish he knows but his mum kind'a badgers him a lot about relationships.

“I know you don't like to talk about it, sweetheart. I just worry about you being lonely is all.” His mum says.

Zayn looks both ways before he darts across the road, “I got my friends, mum, I ain't lonely. Being with someone doesn't really equal happiness, y'know?”

“I know, I know,” His mum says it like she doesn't really agree though.

“I have to go mum,” Zayn lies, “When is Doniya coming over?”

“I'll text you when she says she's coming, the plans aren't confirmed,” His mum says.

“Cool, thanks,” Zayn says. “Talk to you later, yeah?”

“Yeah, I love you, Zayn,” His mum says with warm affection like she's hinting that she still wants him to be happy and settle down.

“Love you too, mum.” Zayn smiles. He presses 'end' on his phone and puts it back in his back pocket. He throws his cigarette onto the ground and stomps it out with his foot.


Zayn gets home at around eight o'clock that night. Bringing home pizza for him and Niall from the crappy pizza place around the corner. Niall is on the worn out couch in front of the television.

“Yo!” Niall yells back at Zayn as he hears him open the door of the apartment.

“Hey,” Zayn chimes back.

Niall turns around from the television to see Zayn, “Pizza!” Niall bellows, getting up from the couch.

Zayn places the pizza on the table opening the box. One side of the pizza is cheese for Zayn the other side is pineapple, olives and chicken for Niall.

Niall loves to eat pretty much anything. You wouldn't know it though since he's just a small guy. Zayn can clearly see Niall's chest through his tank top that is too loose. A tiny patch of chest hair that Niall is very proud of is visible. He hides his blond hair under his snap back that he rarely takes off.

Zayn wishes he could eat like Niall and not have to work out so much. Zayn may have more muscle than Niall but working out hasn't made him buff, it's actually just made him quite small. He has tons of tattoos that his parents are not happy about. He also spends more time than he admits styling his hair in the morning. He's shaved the sides of his hair so there's just buzz cut length but the top of his hair has a decently tall quiff on top. He has prescription glasses he uses for reading but he wears them at work all day to read the til.

They go and sit down on the couch. Niall is sprawled out chewing a mouthful of pizza while Zayn sits beside him stretching his legs out onto the footrest.

“How was band practice?” Zayn asks around a mouthful of pizza.

“Good, Josh is actually gonna come over later. Ya mind?” Niall asks as he changes the channel on the television.

“Yeah, whatever. Josh is cool.” Zayn shrugs.

Josh is the drummer in Niall's band, 'The Crazy Mofos.' They are actually a pretty good band, and Zayn doesn't just say that because he's friends with the lead singer. The two other guys in the band are Calum and Luke and they're cool guys, Zayn doesn't talk to them much though. Josh usually comes over to visit Niall and play video games or watch whatever movie has Jessica Alba in it.

“Thanks, man.” Niall nods as he stops changing channels to watch a rerun of Game of Thrones, Zayn's favourite T.V show. “How was work?” Niall asks.

“Same old, sold some Pokemon cards, some Magic cards. A person came in buying Iron Man comics but kept mentioning how Black Widow in The Avengers is a waste of character.”

“Shit, I wish I could’ve seen your face!” Niall laughs. He knows Zayn is a comic snob and hates dealing with dumbass opinions like that.

Zayn leans back onto the couch, starting on his second slice of pizza. “For sure. Then Louis came in and that's basically it.”

“Harry with him?” Niall questions.

“Nah, Harry doesn't usually come in with him. He's too busy with that hot yoga stuff.” Zayn replies.

Harry's a fitness instructor at a privately owned facility. He teaches a variety of courses, but mainly hot yoga. He also makes extra money, since Louis doesn't have a job, as a nude model for local art colleges. He's very charming and has a magnetic personality that always draws in new friends. You'd wanna hate him cause he's so smart and cute, yet Zayn's never met anyone who dislikes Harry.

They sit like that for a while watching Game of Thrones and then starting the rerun of True Detectives that comes on afterwards.

Josh comes over at eleven o'clock and him and Niall claim the television room. Which is fine with Zayn cause he's just gonna chill in his room painting, maybe smoke a joint and then go to bed.

Same old, same old.


Zayn is back at the comic shop in the morning. He used to hate morning shifts, but he finds on his days off he gets up early anyways. He puts the new comics that are released today up on the shelf. The morning passes by slowly, it's not a Wednesday so things are pretty chill. He has on his mixtape once again and bobs his head with the music. People come and go from the shop, no one particularly interesting.

It gets to lunch time and Louis comes in. Zayn's boss is out today so Louis will probably stay a long time. Depending on if he gets bored. If there is one thing Louis hates it's being bored.

“Brought lunch.” Louis winks at Zayn in a greeting. Zayn perks up looking over.

Louis takes out of a McDonald's to-go bag, a bacon cheeseburger and junior chicken for himself. As well as a filet-o-fish for Zayn. Along with two strawberry banana smoothies.

“You're the best.” Zayn smiles as he takes a bite of his sandwich.

Louis smiles back as he wanders over to check out the comics on the shelf. “New Ghostrider looks pretty sick.”

Zayn nods back, “Yeah, that one is my favourite right now.”

The shop door opens and a skinny, pale man walks in. He's wearing a shirt that says, “Bazinga” and Louis and Zayn both look over at him with judging eyes. Louis walks back over to the counter that Zayn is standing behind.

“Harry's spaghetti was crazy last night, so good. You should have had some. He always goes to these vegetable markets I've never even heard of and gets these weird spices that are amazing.” Louis says with a twinkle in his eye that seems to only appear when he's talking about Harry.

“You should'a brought me some,” Zayn says, him and Louis are both done their McDonald's sandwiches now, which may seem fast but it does not take long for Zayn and Louis to devour food. Although they are still slowly working on finishing their smoothies.

“Yeah, next time.” Louis leans his back against the counter so he's looking away from Zayn.

Zayn goes back to putting price tags on some new stuff that came in. He can hear a Childish Gambino track playing throughout the store. Even if Louis isn't talking at the moment, which is insane 'cause Louis is always talking, Zayn always welcomes Louis' company.

The door opens and Zayn doesn't bother looking up. He can hear the footfalls headed towards the back of the store with the Marvel comics.

Louis gives a low whistle, “Well, hello daddy.”

Zayn looks at him in confusion, “What?” Zayn's pretty sure Louis' step dad isn't here right now, and if so Zayn's never heard Louis call him 'daddy' like that.

“That bloke who just came in. He's fit as hell.” Louis says with a sly grin as he looks over his shoulder at Zayn, the straw of his smoothie in between his teeth.

Zayn pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he looks over at the customer. Louis is right the guy is good looking, like really good looking. Like Justin Timberlake, David Beckham good looking. He's wearing a suit that looks expensive and fitted for him. He has short brown hair and thick scruff on his face. He has beautiful eyes, that Zayn is pretty sure would look radiant if this guy were to smile.

“Go talk to him.” Louis says, not even trying to whisper.

“What? No, we don't do that whole customer service thing here.” Zayn says feeling a bit hot all of a sudden.

“He doesn't know that!” Louis barks back.

Zayn shifts his weight from one foot to the other, biting his inner cheek. He looks down at his hands and then back up at the guy.

Zayn exhales heavily, “I'll talk to him.”

Louis beams at Zayn, which only serves to annoy Zayn. “It doesn't mean shit that I'm talking to him though. I work here I can talk to anyone I want.” Zayn glares at Louis as he walks out from behind the counter.

“Sure thing, mate!” Louis smiles with a vigorous nod giving a sarcastic thumbs up at the same time.

Zayn makes his way towards the customer walking a bit too fast. Zayn walks faster when he's angry. So he slows down his steps and pretends to check on merchandise. He can hear Louis laughing behind him.

He keeps walking until he is directly behind the customer. Zayn can tell the guy is wearing some sort of cologne that smells really nice and expensive. Zayn moves so he's now beside the customer, thinking approaching him from behind would be a bit weird. The customer shuffles away a bit from Zayn but doesn't look up.

“Hey, you looking for something in particular?” Zayn’s voice is rougher than he meant it be. He's never asked a customer this before, he's just trying to remember what other people say in stores.

The customer looks up at Zayn, “Oh, no, browsing, thanks.” He gives a polite smile and goes back to looking at the copy of Young Avengers in front of him on the shelf.

“That's a good one.” Zayn says, and the customer looks at him in question. Zayn lifts his eyebrows from the customer to the comic.

“Oh yeah, I love that one.” The guy smiles at Zayn. He smiles in a way that looks so sincere and nice making Zayn feel like he somehow doesn't deserve it.

“You read a lot of comics?” Zayn questions. “I've never seen you here before.”

The customer laughs like that question is ridiculous, “I read a lot of comics, yes.” He moves now so his entire body is facing Zayn. Zayn looks him up and down but then regrets it hoping the customer didn't see him do that.

“I just started working at a bank near here. It's my lunch break.” The customer runs a hand through his short hair. All Zayn can see is how big the guy's bicep is, which is insane, cause when can you ever see a bicep through a suit?

Zayn thinks he kind'a understands this guy now, “Oh, okay.”

The customer quirks an eyebrow, “What?”

Zayn moves now so his entire body is also facing the customer. He leans his side against the shelves lightly. “You're like nostalgic cause you've started working like an adult. So now you're interested in comics again 'cause it's like your childhood.” Zayn shrugs, “I've seen it a lot.”

The guy looks a bit cross at Zayn, “No, I just like comics, I never stopped.”

“Oh,” Zayn stands up from leaning on the shelf. “Sorry, mate.”

“It's fine,” The guy gives Zayn a smile that makes Zayn's palms become clammy. Zayn wipes them on the side of his ripped skinny jeans.

“What's your name? You don't have to wear name tags here?” The customer chuckles softly and Zayn's hands are clammy all over again.

“It's Zayn,” Zayn answers, his thick accent making it sound like he said, 'Zen'. “What's your's?”

“Liam,” The guy, Liam smiles. And shit, Zayn was right. This guy's eyes are so radiant when he smiles. Yet also soft and welcoming. Liam is such a perfect name for this guy too. A name that sounds cute like the boy next door but also strong like a fireman. Fuck, what is Zayn even thinking? Zayn can tell he's developing some sort of problem right now. And it's definitely Liam related.

Zayn didn't notice Liam has his hand out for Zayn to shake. Zayn for a moment forgets how to give a handshake not having done one in years. Both his hands go up, then only his left hand until finally Zayn shakes Liam's hand with his right hand. Liam has a firm grip that makes it feel like Liam is going to interview Zayn for a job or something. Zayn hopes Liam doesn't notice how sweaty his hands are.

“I should actually head back. I haven't even gotten lunch, but I just saw this place and wanted to check it out.” Liam says biting his bottom lip like he's in fuckin' Tiger Beat magazine. Which would be obnoxious if he was anyone else. But Zayn feels like his feet are being lifted off the floor and he's just standing in the air right now.

“Yeah, cool. Thanks for coming in.” Zayn waves him off as Liam slowly walks away. Zayn is pretty sure he won't see Liam again. Lots of people come in and out of the store and never return no matter how excited they are to find a local comic book store. Zayn feels relieved to have Liam leave and probably never to be seen again. He felt so vulnerable around Liam for some reason. Like he wanted to collapse into Liams' arms and tell him his life story.

Feeling like that scares the shit out of him. He hasn't felt like that since... never. He thinks he felt a feeling almost like that with his exes. But it sure as hell wasn't half of what he's feeling now. Which means Liam needs to leave now. Also Zayn's thinking he should go get laid tonight to really clear his mind.

“See you around,” Liam says as he's practically out the door. He gives Zayn a quick wink with a smile and of course Louis had to see that. Then Liam leaves and the shop feels dull once again.

Zayn walks back behind the counter. Louis is howling with laughter. “Please tell me you got that bloke's number! Oh my god, that wink! I'm gonna die!” He laughs so hard he starts coughing.

“Not that funny. And I didn't get his number...” Zayn wipes his nose with his hand so Louis will think he's cool and not at all affected by Liam.

Louis looks up, his laughing has calmed down, “Shame, fuckin' shame.” He wipes a tear from his eye. “Did you get his name?”

“Liam,” Zayn picks up his smoothie off the counter taking a long sip causing a brain freeze. He puts his tongue on the roof of his mouth 'cause he finds that usually helps.

Louis sticks around practically until the store closes, not bringing up Liam again. Louis has a short attention span, he's not one to dwell on being discouraged Zayn didn't even get Liam's number.

Ch 2