Liam hears the door to his room open and close quietly as he’s getting out of the shower, and he knows who it is immediately. For a second he thinks about trying to sneak out, but it’s really no use and his head’s still pounding from the too many shots—goddamn, Louis—that he took during the party to try and leave now. He’s tired and he knows that he can’t avoid this, so he doesn’t.
He takes his time pulling his joggers on though, and as he pushes his head through the hole of his shirt he catches a glimpse of his face. He knows what he looks like—exhausted and pale—and he knows what it’ll look like to him, but he takes a deep breath anyway as he turns off the light in the bathroom and enters his room.
He’s seated on Liam’s bed like always—legs tucked up underneath him, hands in his lap—but it feels different now. They both know it. “You left early.” Zayn says quietly, like he doesn’t mean to—say it, or be here in this room—with the darkness swallowing them whole, only the lights of the city piercing through the thick curtains.
I didn’t mean to, is what he tries to say. “Did you expect me t’ stay?” is what comes out instead. He regrets it the moment it does, when Zayn winces and turns away from him.
“No. No, I just—” Zayn says before he cuts himself off. He turns to look at Liam again, and he looks so guilty and Liam feels terrible for thinking you should but he can’t stop himself. He sighs as he walks towards one of the couches and sits down it, far too wound up to really slouch like he’s used to doing.
He shakes his head as he looks up at Zayn. “I’m sorry, I was supposed t’, honest.” He says. “Just had a bit too much fun and had t’ leave, s'pose.” He lets out a bit of a laugh, but it sounds too hollow to seem genuine and he knows it. They both do.
Zayn returns the laugh, just as awkwardly, before clearing his throat. “Yeah? A bit too much that you didn’t even go looking for me, then.” He jokes.
Liam ducks his head as he combs his fingers through his hair, pulling at the ends and holding back a groan at the tiny pinpricks of pain. When he lifts his head, it’s with a tight smile—a grimace, if he’s being honest—and as he lets out a quiet breath he sees Zayn eyeing him warily. “Funny that it goes both ways, doesn’t it?”
He hears Zayn suck in a breath and it’s quiet then, both of them looking anywhere but at each other, and Liam closes his eyes as he remembers being in the bar just a few hours ago. He wasn’t trying to avoid Zayn, really. He was just—he was just letting the happy couple enjoy their engagement party, and he didn’t think being near them—near her—was going to help with that. So he drank with Louis. Shot after shot. And the blurrier his vision of Zayn became, the less he felt.
“Liam…” Zayn says after a few minutes of silence. “I’m sorry, I—”
“I wish I could hate you.” Liam says over him, quietly. “I wish I could—I wish I didn’t have t’ love you like this, y'know?”
“—or at all. I wish I could love you proper, the way the lads do.”
“I wish I could be happy for you and not want that for myself instead of her.” He says, his voice breaking on the last word. He lets out a surprised breath when he realizes he’s crying, feeling the tears fall, soaking his joggers. He lifts shaky hands as he goes to wipe his face and he wishes he weren’t so sober for this.
“Liam.” Zayn says again, voice rough, and—he’s crying too, Liam thinks distantly—the bed creaks as he leaves it and goes to approach Liam. “Babe, I love you. You know that.” He says as he reaches the couch, kneeling down in front of Liam and cupping his face with both hands. “You’re my best mate, Li. Of course I love you.” He whispers as he wipes Liam’s tears away gently, pulling him in afterwards.
Zayn finds the crook in between Liam’s neck and shoulder easily—always so easily—as he wraps his arms around him. I love you, Liam. He mumbles repeatedly against Liam’s skin, and the vibrations make it feel almost like Zayn’s inking the words directly onto his skin but, Liam thinks, none of the other tattoos have hurt as much as this does right now.
I love you, Liam.
And if Zayn feels Liam shake his head as his tears soak Zayn’s top, he doesn’t say.
No, he thinks as he holds on to Zayn a little bit tighter, you don’t.