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Going Home Alone

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Zayn was rudely awoken by his bed shaking madly. His first thought was earthquake, until he heard Louis screaming, “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!!” he shouted, not even slowing down when Zayn beat him over the head with his pillow. Once Zayn exhausted himself, Louis yanked all the covers off the bed and started throwing clothes at him.

“Get moving! We have less than two hours until we leave!” Louis said, holding up two shirts, wrinkling his nose at both. “Do you not have anything better than superhero tees?”

“It’s too early for you to be so judgemental of my clothing choices,” Zayn muttered, attempting to bury himself into his pillow, groaning when Louis grabbed him by the ankles and tugged him completely off the bed.

Zayn swore in at least three different languages as his chin bounced off the floor. “My face!” he snapped, which just made Louis laugh as he finally threw an AC/DC shirt at him. “Why are you assaulting me?”

“Well, if you don’t want to get moving and risk missing your chance to meet a certain actor-” Louis said, acting like he was going to walk out of Zayn’s room.

Zayn shot to his feet, grabbing Louis and pulling him back into the room. “Actor? What actor?” Louis’ devilish smirk said it all. Zayn grabbed his shirt, best pair of ripped skinny jeans, and ran into the bathroom to get ready.

Today could possibly be the greatest day of his life.

When they arrived at the radio station where Liam Payne, star of the latest string of Marvel Superhero Movies, was being interviewed, they stood in a crowd made up entirely of girls around their age, the two of them sticking out conspicuously. After about a half hour, a car pulled up, and Zayn nearly fainted when Liam stepped out, smiling at something his bodyguard, Paddy, said to him. Liam looked gorgeous, as always.

He had a grey beanie covering his hair, a bit of stubble, like he’d forgotten to shave that morning. In fact, he looked as if he’d just rolled out of bed and tossed on that grey sweatshirt and baggy blue jeans. As Liam walked by, Zayn thought about reaching out to touch him, but froze and missed his chance.

Zayn giggled at how low Liam’s pants were hanging despite the belt. He pointed it out to Louis, who smirked and then pointed something else out. “Just like in your story, mate,” he teased.

Zayn swallowed hard, wishing Louis hadn’t mentioned that out loud. He regretted ever telling Louis about the fanfic story he’d written about Liam Payne, casting himself as the character opposite. The story had basically been his biggest wet dream put down on paper.

“Not exactly,” Zayn hissed back, although embarrassed, he wanted to correct his friend. “In the story, his bandana was dark green.”

“A bandana’s a bandana,” Louis countered, leaving Zayn to shake his head. “Isn’t it?”

“We’ve been over this,” Zayn whispered, relieved when more of the crowd dispersed, but Louis pulled him closer to the door. “My story, he wore dark green on the left side. Daddy.” Zayn was mumbling by that point, but Louis’ eyes widened.

“And navy blue on the left side?” he asked.

Zayn swallowed hard. “Probably nothing.” There were a ton of rumours about Liam’s sexuality, and although Zayn hoped and prayed, no one was sure if the boy was straight or fell somewhere else on the Kinsey scale. Louis poked him in the ribs. “Means he likes to wear bandanas, but we knew that.” Louis’ eyes narrowed. “It means 'top' okay!” Zayn shouted, wincing when a couple of girls turned to look at him, giggling and pointing. “Fuck.”

At that moment, Liam’s bodyguard came back outside, looking around the crowd. In his hand were red bracelets. He started randomly pointing at people and motioning them closer. Several girls squealed, running over to him, taking a bracelet, then disappearing into the studio. Zayn was just turning to Louis to ask what was going on when Paddy pointed at them. “You two, c’mon.”

Louis dragged Zayn over, grabbing the last two bracelets from the bodyguard. They slipped them on and went into the studio. Following the crowd, they were surprised when they found themselves standing on one side of a glass window. On the other, Liam Payne was laughing with the DJ.

When the interview started, the sound was piped into the room where Zayn and the others were standing. Zayn stood back, allowing the girls to throw themselves at the window, impressed when Liam gave them all a finger wave before turning his attention back to the DJ.

“So, Liam, you’ve been tweeting a lot about the fan art that gets drawn of you,” the DJ said, and Zayn’s heart expanded at the squishy eyed smile that Liam gave.

“Yeah, mate. My fans are so bloody talented. Some of it’s really sick, ya know? I’ve had a few done up on canvases, and they hang in my media room. Love seeing someone put so much effort into something.” The pride in Liam’s voice was amazing. Zayn had drawn a few pictures of Liam, but he’d never shared them, mostly because they weren’t family friendly and they included himself.

“So, you like people creating stuff inspired by you, yeah?” the DJ asked. Liam nodded, humming out a sound of approval, but Zayn thought he looked a bit suspicious. “Have you seen some of the things your fans have written about you?”

Liam’s face went slack for a moment, a hint of pink touching his cheeks. “You mean fanfiction,” Liam responded when he recovered. “I have seen some of it.”

“Well, since we can’t show any fan art on the air, we thought it might be cool if you read a bit of a fic, maybe let the writer know what you thought of it.” The DJ was holding out a couple sheets of paper.

“Are you sure it’s safe for air?” Liam teased, but Zayn watched his adam’s apple bounce under a nervous swallow as his eyes skimmed the page.

“We’ve highlighted a bit you can read, which is more or less safe for radio,” the DJ said. “C’mon, you’re not afraid are you?” he teased when Liam hesitated.

“No.” He cleared his throat.

“Let’s get right into it, then.” The DJ looked smug and Zayn wondered if he would still have his job by the end of the day, or if he’d even care.

“What do you think the odds are that fic is yours?” Louis asked Zayn.

“Don’t even think about it,” Zayn hissed, waving at a girl who looked at him curiously.

Liam cleared his throat again and began to read. “‘How much have you had to drink?’ Liam asked, his voice low, concern laced through it. ‘Two pints,’ Zach answered. ‘Well, just over two.’”

In less than ten seconds, the day had become the worst of Zayn’s life. He was frozen to his seat. He could hear Louis muffling his laughter next to him as Zayn stared straight ahead. The day he’d thought was going to be the best day of his life was now the day he was wishing for death, planning for it, actually.

Liam continued reading, unaware of the torture he was inflicting on one boy standing less than ten feet away from him. The boy who had written the words he was reading.

“Liam’s lips turned down in a frown, and Zach felt a terrible blow to his gut that he’d disappointed him somehow. ‘Not enough to be drunk, though.’ Liam closed his eyes, breathing deeply. When he opened them, his brown eyes were warm again. ‘Are you sure?’ Zach nodded, and Liam reached around to his back pocket to remove the bandana, holding it in front of Zach’s face. ‘You know what this means, yeah?’ Zach nodded, relieved that it meant what he thought, hoped, it meant. ‘Words, Zach.’ He reached around Zach to tuck the bandana into Zach’s right pocket, patting his bum briefly. Zach swallowed hard, his mouth struggling to form the word that former lovers had scoffed at him for using. “D-daddy,” he whispered, his chest bursting when Liam’s smile grew.”

The DJ was fanning himself as Liam finished up, face fully flushed now. “Pretty hot, wouldn’t you say? Does it bother you that so many of your fans write you in homosexual relationships?”

“Why would it?” Liam asked. “To paraphrase a fellow actor, Johnny Galecki, why should I be offended by something that isn’t offensive?” Zayn’s jaw dropped. “Who I choose to sleep with is my business.” He looked at the DJ and down at the papers in his hand, folding them carefully. “This interview is over.”

Zayn watched as Liam strode from the studio. When the door opened, the handful of girls swarmed him. He smiled at them all, took selfies, signed autographs, but Zayn could tell he was feeling a bit off.

Zayn and Louis hung back until it was just them, Liam, and Paddy in the lobby. “Did you two want pictures?” Liam asked, his voice tired.

Zayn was surprised when Louis squeaked and hid behind him. He also shocked himself when he opened his mouth to speak. “That was shit, man, I’m sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry for? You weren’t the asshole DJ, yeah?” Liam joked, smile not reaching his eyes.

Zayn hung his head, dreading the words he knew were going to come out of his mouth. “No, but I’m the asshole that wrote it.” He grabbed Louis and started pulling him towards the door. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Wait!” Liam called, grabbing Zayn’s arm and pulling him away from Louis. Liam leaned in close. “You seriously wrote this?” Zayn nodded, his face warm. “It’s one of my favourites.”

“W-what?” Zayn choked out.

Liam took a step closer. “Seriously, I really loved it. Read it on the regular.” Zayn knew he was gaping now, especially when Liam reached up to shut his mouth gently, cupping his chin. A moment later, he felt movement behind him, Liam was tucking his bandana into his right pocket. “You know what that means, yeah?” he asked with an arched eyebrow.

Zayn swallowed hard and nodded. “It means Louis is going home alone.”