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Fic Post: The Rose Ch 3

The Rose Ch 3



Zayn walks around the apartment staring down at his phone. Harry and Louis will be here soon but Zayn still has to text Liam his address. He debates not texting at all feeling a bit nauseous with nerves about the whole dinner thing. If he sees Liam again he'll just say something happened and he couldn't make it.

He curses at himself though because he already told Harry and Louis to come over and help.

He inhales heavily and texts Liam.

''Sup? My address is xxx xxxxxxxx xxx -Z.M' Zayn texts his address.

He closes his phone quickly feeling good about his message. It's calm and chill not sounding at all nervous about this whole thing. About five minutes pass when he hears his phone buzz. He opens his phone much faster than he'll admit he did.

'Is this Zayn? - L.P'

Zayn curses again. Shit! He forgot to say who he was because Liam still doesn't have Zayn's phone number.

'Yeah sorry... aha x -Z.M'

It's a flimsy reply back but it'll do. Zayn practically throws his phone onto the kitchen counter trying to get it out of his hands before he texts something stupid again. He hears his phone buzz again though and can't help but open it up.

'It's okayyy :) - L.P'

Zayn lets out a tiny laugh at Liam's text. The text seems so cute and not at all intimidating making Zayn wonder why he's even freaking out.

***

“So this isn't a date?” Harry questions.

Niall, Harry and Louis watch as Zayn tries to figure out what to wear.

“No,” Zayn says as he looks at his reflection in the mirror. He's wearing a black tank top with a snake on it. His tattoos are really noticeable against the black fabric. “Liam's just thanking me for giving him a comic book.”

“Which is your job,” Louis laughs. “This is a fuckin' date, man.”

“I don't even think Liam's gay,” Zayn says almost mumbling.

“Niall, do most heterosexual men take other men out to say thanks for selling me a comic book?” Louis asks sarcastically.

“We usually just give the other guy a blow job,” Niall laughs. 'Cause Niall's the kind'a guy who laughs at his own jokes.

“It's a big deal that Zayn even said 'yes' to dinner.” Harry says. “He'd usually turn it down in.”

“This guy must be special.” Niall suggests.

“Zayn's in love!” Louis sings.

Zayn gives his friends a stern look, “I'm not in love. I don't fall in love.”

“Ever the dramatic one,” Louis huffs a breath.

“You can't just not fall in love. You can't just tell yourself to stop and then stop.” Harry says, hopelessly romantic.

“Love is shit, it sucks. It hurts like hell, and I don't need it.” Zayn says.

Louis looks at Zayn with a sympathetic expression. He remembers holding Zayn after all the awful breakups. After Zayn was cheated on, lied to and forgotten by the guys he dated. Seeing Zayn fall passionately in love with all of them. Being so excited that someone finally loves him back. The room goes silent for a bit. The guys all lost in their own thoughts. Zayn keeps looking at himself in the mirror fretting over his outfit.

“Where'd you say you were going again?” Louis says as he checks himself out in the mirror.

“Uhmm... this new Italian place. Liam didn't say the same,” Zayn says.

“Wait? Really?” Harry perks up, “That new one is supposed to be really fancy.”

Zayn looks at Harry with wide eyes, “What?”

Harry stands up, “You can't wear that. You look sexy, but you can't wear that.”

“I don't own anything... fancy though.” Zayn squints his eyes and talks from the side of his mouth. He does that when he's annoyed or angry.

“This?” Niall picks up a hat that's like a weird bowler hat, kind of fedora style.

“No, please no!” Louis whines, “I never liked that weird hat phase you went through.”

“This could work?” Zayn gets out of his closet a floral patterned shirt.

Harry tilts his head, “It could.”

Louis peers into Zayn's closet, “Please wear the leather chaps you bought at Pride when you were drunk.” Louis grins.

“That's not even funny,” Zayn says even though Niall is red in the face from laughing.

“Please do it, Zayn.” Niall chokes out through his laughter.

“How about these?” Harry holds up some black leather pants with zippers on the legs.

“Leather?” Zayn and Louis question in unison.

“Well you don't have anything more formal. You own all the skinny jeans in the world.” Harry shrugs.

“Look who's talkin',” Niall raises his eyebrows.

“Leather may seem like a bad choice, but I think it'll work.” Harry smiles.

“Didn't you wear those to TiddlyTwinks last month?” Louis asks. “Niall was really popular there.”

“If I'm ever having a bad day I remember TwiddlyTwinks, not even lying.” Niall responds.

“Niall's not allowed to have bad days!” Zayn hollers as he puts his leather pants on.

“No more bad days for Niall!” Harry shouts as he goes and lies with Niall on the bed in between Louis. He kisses Niall's blond hair and Niall gives a big smile in return.

“The fact that Niall has had a bad day breaks my cold heart,” Louis says as he ruffles Niall's hair.

Zayn smiles and looks at himself in the mirror. He looks good. He didn't shave even though he's wondering if he should now 'cause apparently it's going to be fancy. Harry's not saying anything so it should be okay. Harry has a very keen fashion sense. You can still see a fair amount of tattoos on Zayn's arms and wrists but not much he can do about that.

“What am I gonna talk about though?” Zayn asks. He looks from the mirror to his friends. Louis, Harry and Niall are all close to each other on the bed.

“Comics?” Harry suggests.

“Skip dinner and go straight to the bedroom,” Louis waggles his eyebrows.

“Oh!” Niall sits up, “We could do that thing like in sitcoms, where we get walkie talkies and tell Zayn what to say!”

Harry shakes his head, “Zayn's so smooth, he can handle it.”

They hear a buzz from the door downstairs signalling that someone is there. Zayn stiffens up, he thought he may have more time.

“Oh! Daddy's home!” Louis smiles widely as he gets up.

“Daddy?” Harry asks with a bit of a jealous tone that makes Niall laugh.

They all run downstairs to the main door of the apartment building. Zayn only running 'cause he doesn't want his friends to greet Liam before him. And when he says 'greet Liam' he actually means 'harass Liam'.

Louis opens the door and reveals Liam looking handsome and clean cut. Handsome is really the only word for it though. Dapper would do just fine as well. Liam has slicked hair that isn't greasy just elegant looking. He has on a black suit with a dark green tie. And last but certainly not least is the car Liam has parked on the street. It's a red Ferrari that is sexy as fuck. Zayn can see Niall's eyes widening comically at the car. Zayn's pretty sure if Niall were to just touch the car he'd jizz his pants.

“Uh, hi,” Liam seems surprised by all these people coming to answer the door.

“Hello,” Louis says. “I'm Louis.”

Liam puts his hand out for Louis to shake it, “Liam.”

Louis holds back a cruel laugh and shakes Liam's hand. Louis can't believe Zayn's about to go out to dinner with a guy who shakes hands. Liam then extends his hand to Harry.

“I'm Harry,” Harry's voice rough and deep, Liam smiles back.

“Niall,” Niall shakes Liam's hand as well.

“And you're Zayn.” Liam nods his head at Zayn who is behind everyone. Zayn feels warm from the way Liam says his name. Zayn moves past his friends to stand beside Liam.

“You guys look good together,” Harry smiles with a dirty expression.

“When Harry says a couple looks good together he actually means 'I'm imagining you two naked and touching right now,'” Louis shrugs 'cause he knows he's right.

Zayn shakes his head and quickly grabs Liam's arm making Liam look at him, “He's joking, he's joking. Louis enjoys being delusional.”

Zayn is dragging Liam away from the guys, “No kiss goodbye?” Louis shouts after them.

Zayn just sticks his middle finger up in the air not turning around causing a loud cackle from Niall and the others.

***

Zayn doesn't say much in the car on the way over. He's usually really quiet if he's with someone he doesn't really know. Liam notices the silence and he turns on the car radio, Sirius XM, the rich bastard.

Zayn looks out the window then the song that is playing catches his attention, “I love this song.” Zayn perks up as All Back by Chris Brown plays.

“Yeah, it's one of my favourites.” Liam smiles at Zayn while also keeping his eyes on the road. “I don't usually tell people I still like Chris Brown songs after... y'know.”

“Yeah, Same.” Zayn leans into his seat looking out the front window.

“You guys play some good music in the store when I come in.” Liam compliments.

Zayn looks at Liam in confusion, “You... you like that music?”

Liam smiles, “R&B and rap are some of my favourite genres of music.”

“Really?” Zayn asks with disbelief.

“I think you have this image of what I'm like, Zayn.” Liam looks over at Zayn and Zayn looks a bit guilty. “I don't really think a lot of it is true. Hopefully tonight you can get to know me better.” Liam says in a way that isn't mean spirited--he actually sounds a bit hurt.

Zayn nods looking at Liam who is focused on the road. “Sure.”

Zayn keeps looking at Liam not really aware he's staring. Liam has a birthmark on his neck that Zayn hadn't noticed before. He has shaven as well so he doesn't have any stubble. Zayn's worried for a second that maybe he should have shaved as well. Liam has deep brown eyes, that could be debated as puppy dog like. It's a face that Zayn could stare at for the rest of his life probably.

“Do I have something on my face?” Liam asks a bit concerned.

“Oh, there was a fluff, but it's gone now.” Zayn lies, he can feel his face warm up with embarrassment.

Liam breathes out relieved the non-existent fluff is gone.

“Did you forget your glasses back home?” Liam asks. “I've never seen you without them.”

“Oh, they're just for reading, I need them to read the til.” Zayn replies.

“You look good without them, you can really see your eyes this way.” Liam says and Zayn's body stiffens and heats up. “You look great with your glasses too though.”

“Uh, thanks,” Zayn replies quietly. Zayn hears strangers tell him he's the most gorgeous guy they've ever seen and doesn't feel a thing. Yet Liam saying Zayn looks good with or without glasses is making Zayn's heart race.

It's confirmed, Liam is definitely a problem.

***

They arrive at the restaurant and it is way fancier than Zayn imagined it would be. Liam gets out of the car, but a valet comes and opens the door for Zayn. Not really helping Zayn's ego at the moment. Liam hands the car keys to the valet along with a five dollar bill. The guy parks it out front of the restaurant with the other expensive cars.

They get inside and are seated at a table with a white table cloth. The lights are dimmed and there's candles on the table. Liam sits down and looks up at Zayn who is just standing completely still.

He's gone from not dating for years to all of a sudden frickin' romantic candle lit dinner. It's like he went from zero to sixty in just a day.

“You want a different table?” Liam asks a bit confused.

Zayn looks at Liam with panicked eyes. He could make a run for it, say he was sick before he got here just didn't say anything 'cause he thought he was fine. He could tell Liam, 'fuck it, just fuck me so I can stop thinking about you'.

Instead Zayn says, “I'm fine, it's great.”

Zayn sits down and Liam smiles at him pleasantly but still looking a bit concerned. Zayn looks around at the room while Liam looks at the menu. The room is filled with older couples, all straight. Holding hands over the table and looking lovingly into each others eyes. Zayn feels a nervous sweat all over his body.

“Wine?” A waiter comes over and asks. Zayn can tell the waiter is really only asking Liam.

Liam looks at Zayn, “Do you want any?” Zayn shakes his head with a dramatic pout that says 'no-fuckin-way'. Liam looks back at the waiter, “We're fine, thanks.”

Zayn eyes the menu, nothing seems to be lower than twenty dollars. Zayn is freaking out, which is unlike him, he's usually very calm. He hears laughter from other tables and he thinks it's all aimed at him. Like he's back in high school where hearing laughter. usually meant bullies were talking about him.

The laughter is ringing in his ears and Zayn can't take it anymore, “I can't do this, Liam.”

Liam looks up from the menu at Zayn, “What?”

Zayn puts his hands out in a 'stop' motion. “I have never in my life been to a place so fancy and I am freaking out.”

Liam puts his hand out and holds Zayn's which only serves to make Zayn even more confused. “Let's go. I'm sorry, I didn't know it'd be this fancy.” Liam smiles with a look that comforts Zayn.

“You wanted to go out to dinner though,” Zayn says feeling bad.

“For you!” Liam chuckles squeezing Zayn's hand tighter, “C'mon, we'll go out somewhere different.”

Liam gets up still holding Zayn's hand and Zayn feels like everyone must be looking at them. Zayn stands up and Liam lets go of his hand. They walk out of the restaurant Liam shaking his head and shrugging at the waiter as if to say, 'it's just not for us, but no hard feelings'.

They get back into Liam's Ferrari after the valet gets it for them, which is ridiculous 'cause Zayn can see where it's parked and it's like ten steps away. Liam turns on the car and the music starts again, and Zayn loosens up and can finally breath again.

***

They go to a McDonald's 'cause it's the first place Zayn can think of to go. They park Liam's car and an older man walks by and whistles at it, clearly impressed.

They order and the workers there are frazzled because it's busy and only three people are working right now. The cashier is upset and Liam keeps saying, “It's okay,” when she says she's sorry that they've been waiting like five minutes on his Angus burger. Zayn is surprised that Liam is so nice to the workers here, usually a rich guy in a suit has no time for minimum wage workers.

They sit down and Zayn is starved. He bites into his McChicken with enormous satisfaction.

“I'm sorry that I brought you to that place.” Liam says with sad eyes.

“No, it was...” Zayn starts trying to think of something to say.

“Insane, not gonna lie I was also freaking out a bit.” Liam says.

“You were not,” Zayn says talking out of the side of his mouth, “You were in your fucking element, mate.” Liam eyes Zayn, “Sorry, sorry. I assumed again.” Zayn apologizes.

“You're not wrong I guess,” Liam says taking a bite of his burger. “I go to those places kind'a often.”

Zayn shrugs taking a sip of his drink, “Can I ask you something?”

“Uh, yeah, sure.” Liam says.

“Why are you so rich? Aren't you like twenty something? How come your life doesn't suck like everyone else's?” Zayn asks.

Liam leans back in his chair, “That's a lot of questions. Well...” Liam inhales, “My dad works at the bank and he's like high up, so we kind'a always had money. Then I started working there when I was sixteen-”

“Sixteen? Is that possible?” Zayn questions.

“I just would work in the mail room or making coffees or as a secretary.” Liam explains.

“Secretary?” Zayn raises an eyebrow.

“Yeah... why? Is that weird?” Liam asks.

“No, it's... sexy.” Zayn responds his accent thick and his voice deep. Liam gives a soft laugh and his cheeks flush.

“Sorry, I didn't-” Zayn shuts his eyes shaking his head.

“It's fine.” Liam runs a hand through his hair. “Uhmm... yeah so my parents also had all my money they saved for university but I never went, so they gave it to me. 'Cause I guess like it was gonna be mine anyways or whatever.”

Zayn sips more of his drink, “You're like the luckiest person I've ever met.”

“What? No,” Liam laughs finishing off his burger.

“Being twenty sucks, man,” Zayn says eating his fries. “All my relatives think I should like be fuckin' married or engaged with a great career and shit right now.”

Liam nods silently.

“You have friends that are exactly what I'm describing, don't you?” Zayn side eyes Liam.

“I wasn't gonna say anything, but yeah actually.” Liam blurts out with a sympathetic tone.

Zayn finishes his drink and eats the last of his fries, “Is that what's happening with you?”

“Me?” Liam asks.

“Y'know married, engaged or whatever?” Zayn asks.

Liam flushes again and it's really adorable, “Uh...” letting out a laugh.

“Sorry, sorry, I guess I shouldn't ask that.” Zayn says, not really sure what's okay to ask.

“No, it's fine!” Liam says, “I... am not in any sort of relationship.”

“Really?” Zayn questions.

“Really, really.” Liam says. Zayn doesn't understand how Liam who is so successful and handsome could possibly be single. “What about you, Zayn?”

“Single,” Zayn states.

Liam raises his eyebrows, “I can't believe that. There's no guy in your life?” He smiles kindly.

Zayn widens his eyes at Liam, he then looks around the restaurant lobby, replying, “How... How did you know I'm gay?” In a small voice.

“Is it a secret?” Liam asks. “I don't wanna out you or anything.”

“No, it's...” Zayn waves his hand, “Kind'a? I mean my family doesn't know...”

“Your family doesn't know?” Liam is shocked, “Did you... did you just find out or something?”

“Known for a while,” Zayn shakes his head.

“You've... you've never had a boyfriend?” Liam asks in disbelief.

“I've had three,” Zayn shrugs.

Liam blinks, “You never told your parents?” He leans back with a heavy breath, “My mum would kill me. Like cold blooded murder if I didn't tell her I've had three relationships.”

“Well, you never had to come out so-” Zayn starts.

“Yes, I did.” Liam furrows his brows.

Zayn is frozen as he looks back at Liam, “You-?”

“You were assuming things again, weren't you?” Liam smiles teasing Zayn.

“I just-” Zayn looks down at the table, “I didn't-”

“It's whatever,” Liam says making Zayn look up, “A lot of people are surprised when I tell them. I guess I make a convincing heterosexual.”

“Yeah, you really do,” Zayn replies.

Liam looks back at Zayn with his beautiful kind brown eyes, “You're afraid to come out though? Aren't you like suffocated 'cause you haven't told your family?”

Zayn scratches his neck trying to look for a distraction, this conversation is getting personal. “It sucks, yeah. But like... wasn't it awful when you came out?”

Liam sucks in a sharp breath, “Ah, well, yeah I guess.” He examines his hands like they suddenly became interesting, “I told my mum first and she cried, but said she was totally fine with it. Then I told my dad a few months later 'cause I was still nervous about him. He just stayed quiet but I could tell he probably felt like shouting. When I dated my first boyfriend my mum would be like weird around him, like too nice. My dad just treated him like he was my friend. Also I was like super nervous about driving alone with my mum.”

“What? Why?” Zayn asks interested in all Liam has to say.

“Cause that's when she'd get personal with me. She'd ask me all these things that just made me feel bad. She'd cry and just say, 'I didn't know, there were no signs you were gay'. Like she was blaming herself or something. Which is ridiculous. So we'd be in the car but like there's no way out of the car. You have to wait til you get home. And she'd be crying and I'd be thinking 'God, I just wanna go home, this is so awkward!'.” Liam says lightheartedly like this happened a while ago and he can joke about it now.

“That sucks,” Zayn replies.

“Yeah, but things are better now. They seem to be cool with it, we don't like talk about it much though.” Liam says.

“What about at your work do they know?” Zayn asks.

“Wow, look who suddenly got talkative,” Liam chuckles. “Uh, I'm not like out at work I guess. I mean you don't really have to tell people if you're gay or not. It hardly ever comes up, but it's not like I'd lie about it though. It's just at work I only talk to people about work.”

“So no one knows?” Zayn asks.

Liam squirms in his chair, “Er, well... I was down at Pride one year and my co-workers saw me. Not the nice co-workers either like the douchey ones. Kind'a like Adam Scott's character in Step Brothers douchey.”

“I love that movie,” Zayn says.

“Yeah, same,” Liam agrees. “So those guys were asses and they know that I'm gay. They were just at Pride for a laugh”

“Did they do anything?” Zayn asks.

“Nah, it was Pride they were way outnumbered if they tried something,” Liam shrugs.

Zayn nods slowly ripping apart his fry box. He can hear the crew at the counter talking about him and Liam.

“Those guys were here when I started my shift.”

“What? Really? How can they stay here that long, I hate being here.”

“They're like really hot though.”

“Yeah, they can stay as long as they want.”

Zayn can hear them break out into giggles. He looks up at Liam feeling weirdly secure around him. He doesn't usually talk about this stuff with anyone that isn't Louis, Harry or Niall. He has a warm buzzing feeling that feels charged by Liam's presence.

“I guess I should drive you home,” Liam suggests he's smiling at Zayn like he probably also heard the crew talking. They throw out their garbage and head out to Liam's car.

***

Liam drives Zayn back home in pretty much silence. But it's a comfortable silence that is only broken when Liam sings along to a song on the radio. Zayn hasn't felt so content in a long time. Sure he's been happy with his friends, his friends are great. With Liam it's a different sort of happiness. It feels safe like Zayn can tell him things but also exciting because Liam well... gets Zayn excited.

When they get back to Zayn's apartment Liam remembers to hand Zayn the list of comics he needs.

“I completely forgot,” Zayn laughs. Liam's hand lingers on Zayn's as he passes the list over. Zayn looks up into Liam's eyes. Liam has a small smile and is looking from Zayn's eyes then back down to his lips.

“Thanks for the list, man.” Zayn smiles, then quickly gets out of the car. Liam gets out as well he leans against the car facing Zayn's apartment. Zayn walks around the car stopping in front of Liam to say goodbye. Liam is looking at Zayn with half-lidded eyes making Zayn's body react, he feels a warmth start in the pit of his stomach. He knows he's looking back at Liam with 'fuck me' eyes and he really wishes Liam would just fuck him. Fuck, he wishes Liam would. Zayn eyes Liam's bottom lip wishing he could suck on it and kiss him til his lips are swollen.

“I guess I'll see you around?” Liam asks like maybe he's hinting they don't have to leave each other just yet.

Zayn feels like warm mush he just wants to press himself against Liam not even thinking about who could be watching. He feels like he's a teenager again and could get hard just from Liam looking at him.

“Yeah, I work like everyday so you'll see me.” Zayn says moving towards Liam. Liam straightens up interested that Zayn's moving forward.

It's just Zayn can't seem to move forward to kiss Liam. Even though Liam seems to really obviously want to kiss Zayn. Zayn just can't. He doesn't want Liam to turn into a guy he has a one night stand with and then they just exchange awkward conversation if Liam ever comes into the store again. He doesn't want that and Liam doesn't deserve it. Zayn feels a sharp pain in his chest when he thinks, 'and I don't deserve Liam.'

Liam is successful, he's gorgeous and he's kind. He deserves the world and to date a guy who's charming, charismatic and everything Zayn's not. Zayn is quiet and then when you get to know him he's too loud. He has a shit job that's going no where and won't pay the bills. He has too many tattoos and who knows if Liam likes tattoos. Zayn's pretty sure Liam's parents wouldn't like his tattoos. He smokes too many cigarettes and more than occasionally smokes pot. Hell, Zayn can't even drive or swim. The idea that he thought maybe Liam would want him is laughable.

“I uhm, I should go,” Zayn hesitates. He's usually so cool and chill around hot guys, Liam is messing him up.

Zayn backs away slowly, but before he can turn around and walk away he hears Niall yelling, “Wait! Liam!” from behind him.

Niall comes running up standing in between Zayn and Liam. He's breathing heavily from running, 'cause he may be skinny but he hates working out. “Liam, hey.”

“Hey Niall,” Liam nods at him. 'How the hell did Liam manage to remember Niall's name?' Zayn thinks.

“I'm doing a gig tomorrow, it's at the restaurant I work at.” Niall says, “My band is the Crazy Mofos you should come check us out.”

“Oh, yeah, sure!” Liam grins, “That sounds cool. Been a while since I've gone to a gig.”

“You sure you aren't busy?” Zayn asks Liam. “You probably have some work to do, eh?”

“I-” Liam raises his eyebrows surprised by what Zayn's saying, “Uh, yeah, maybe.” Liam nods looking down and it breaks Zayn's heart 'cause he can tell Liam is clearly hurt.

“What?” Niall's eyes are so blue as they look at Zayn, “Liam, please come!” Niall looks at Liam with eyes no one could say no to.

“I, uh?” Liam looks at Zayn clearly confused. Zayn looks away from Liam.

“Please?” Niall begs.

Liam looks torn between what to do, “Uhm...” Liam clears his throat, “Yeah, yeah, I'll go. Work can wait.” He looks at Zayn nodding hoping Zayn's okay with this.

“Awesome!” Niall exclaims, “It's gonna be craic!”

Liam laughs saying, “Awesome, I'll see ya tomorrow then!” Liam opens the door to his car. “I'll see you tomorrow Zayn. Thanks for tonight, I had a really great time.”

“Yeah, yeah me too.” Zayn replies.

Liam closes the drivers door, does a casual salute to Niall and Zayn and drives away. Niall is eyeing Zayn in question, while Zayn just watches Liam drive away.

***

“What the fuck was that?” Niall asks Zayn as they enter the apartment. Niall may be cute and charming but he swears like a sailor sometimes.

Zayn walks over to the mini fridge by the TV and gets out a beer. He needs a drink right now. Louis and Harry are watching the TV and look at Zayn.

“What the fuck was what?” Harry asks.

“Zayn almost stopped Liam from coming to the gig tomorrow,” Niall complains.

“What? Why?” Harry questions. It's pretty clear now all the guys had planned on having Liam come to the gig tomorrow. Niall looks at Zayn waiting for an answer, Zayn just takes a long swig of his beer.

“Did Liam do something?” Harry says like he is really worried now.

“No, No!” Zayn squints his eyes and shakes his head. God, Liam probably wouldn't even throw a teddy bear across the room in fear that it'd get hurt.

“He's straight isn't he?” Louis chimes in.

“No, actually,” Zayn replies.

“You owe me ten dollars!” Niall hollers at Louis as he sits down on the couch arm rest beside Louis.

“You made a bet?” Zayn asks.

“Unfortunately.” Louis says as he digs into his pocket and pulls out a crumpled ten dollar bill.

“Straight guys do not take other guys out to dinner just for a comic book,” Niall has a big smile as he looks at the ten dollar bill.

Zayn sits down in the love seat beside the couch. “Well, what happened then?” Harry keeps asking.

Zayn takes a long drink finishing off his beer, “He's just...” Zayn shakes his head thinking of what to say, “He makes me feel like...” The others are silent and listening for Zayn to continue, “I dunno, I'm worried I like him too much.”

The boys erupt in cheering and laughing, “Zayn's in love!” Louis cries out. “Wake the neighbours and call the police 'cause this is an emergency!”

Harry laughs as he jumps up and down on the sofa making Louis bounce, “Zayn loves Liam!” He gives a shrill shout.

“Wey Hey!” Niall claps his hands over his head with a huge smile on his face.

Louis stands up on the couch and puts an arm around Harry's shoulder singing loudly, “How will I know if he really lo-oves me?” He sings in a comical voice. “I say a prayer with every heartbeat!” Harry joins in and they are laughing and jumping up and down on the couch. Niall echoes in with, “Heartbeat!”

“Guys!” Zayn says trying to calm them down.

“I fall in lo-ve whenever we meet!” Harry laughs, they mumble the next line ‘cause apparently they forgot what it was. “Falling in love is all bitter swe-et! This love is strong why do I feel weak!?” The three of them laughing, clapping, dancing and jumping on the couch. Niall bobbing and swaying from where he sits on the arm rest.

“Guys please,” Zayn gets another beer from the fridge. Also that last line of the song weirdly hit close to home and Zayn needs to just stop thinking for a second.

Harry and Louis fall back onto the couch with wide grins, “That's great, Zayn.” Harry says wiping a tear from his eye.

“No, it's...” Zayn starts, “I don't do this, I can't do this.”

“Why?” Niall asks with a childlike tone.

Zayn's fingers go up and down the neck of his bottle, “It's just... I don't do this.”

Louis starts to holler more songs, “Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough!” He points dramatically at Zayn, “Just a second we're not broken just bent! And we can learn to love again!” He points at Zayn a second longer and then lowers his hand.

“Do you have a song for everything?” Zayn rolls his eyes.

“I only have songs for you, Zayn,” Louis winks playfully.

“What Louis is trying to say is you should give Liam a try,” Harry interprets.

“You went out to dinner with him for Christ's sake! You never do that,” Louis says, “You would've just had sex with him and gotten this all over with. This guy... he's something to you.”

Zayn stares at Louis with pained eyes and Louis stops smiling, “You can't just run away, Zayn. Your relationship track record is awful and it sucks and you never deserved that shit.”

Zayn bites his cheek and looks down at his beer. “I don't deserve Liam though.” He mumbles.

“What?” Niall exclaims.

“What are you on about now?” Louis asks massaging his forehead.

“Liam is great and successful. He's got his life in order and everything. I just... my life sucks.” Zayn shrugs, “I can hardly pay the bills, I'm lucky Niall can persuade the landlord into pushing back the deadline. I can't drive, I work at a comic shop-”

“Which I'm pretty sure you love, so...” Louis scrunches his nose clearly disagreeing with Zayn about everything right now.

“Liam is... he deserves more than me.” Zayn says as he takes a sip of his beer.

“Well point number one is: You're delusional and point number two is: You're fucking delusional, Zayn!” Louis leans his head back on the couch raising his voice with his eyes closed.

“You have a lot going for you, Zayn,” Harry inputs.

“You're freaking hot, mate.” Niall shrugs his bare shoulders in his white tank top.

“You're smart, you apparently like the same things, you're passionate as fuck and I've never met anyone so caring as you,” Louis says.

“That was actually really sweet, Lou,” Harry nods at Louis.

“I can be sweet,” Louis says looking Harry in the eyes. Harry kisses Louis in what was probably just supposed to be a quick peck. It turns into a slow deep kiss though and Niall whistles at them.

“Guys!” Zayn leans back in his chair, “Not now!”

They separate and Harry's cheeks are flushed a light pink. Louis is looking at Harry from the corner of his eye.

“Like okay what if I was good enough for Liam? Doesn't matter 'cause I couldn't even introduce him to my parents if we did get together. Which we won't.” Zayn says.

“You really should come out, Zayn,” Harry says sighing and adding, “I know we want to live in this perfect world where coming out doesn't exist and people don't just assume everyone's straight.” Niall looks at Harry with a serious expression, like he's thinking Harry's words over.

“You can't go your whole life in the closet, mate.” Louis adds.

“Loads of blokes have done it before,” Zayn says.

“Yeah, and they all grew up depressed and self loathing,” Harry says seeing that Zayn's face looks taken aback by what Harry's saying, “I'm sorry, it's the truth though.” Harry apologizes.

“You also should come out to your family before you date Liam, Zayn,” Louis chimes in.

“I'm not gonna date Liam,” Zayn says out of the side of his mouth.

“Fine, if you date Liam,” Louis says exasperated.

The room goes a bit quiet, everyone thinking to themselves. Eventually Niall farts though and it breaks the silence. Louis stands up quickly faking a cough 'cause it smells so bad. They eventually all stay up really late playing the new Mario Kart and talking about nothing in particular. Nothing really ever stays dramatic with Zayn and his friends.

Ch 4