Pairing: Zayn Malik/Liam Payne, Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson
Word Count: 3,717
Summary: It seems like it always happens this way, that they hit the best point in their lives and then something pops up and makes it all come crashing down.
Warnings: Blood. Angst. Character Death.
Dedication: This is dedicated to tamzinrose and an anon on the 1dangstmeme for their prompt
Disclaimer: I assure you if One Direction belonged to me I'd be far too busy hanging with them to write fic.
Author Notes: I was going to write this two-ish weeks ago except with a completely different fic idea. I might still write the one that I have plotted but probably not. This was vaguely inspired by bloodofpyke's fic that is located here (except it's really not at all. she just gave me inspiration to get this done). It is also based off of the prompt on the angst meme that is located here regarding having the boys clean up blood. The title and cut lyrics are from So Cold by Ben Cocks. Enjoy and please don't hate me.
They don’t know how to handle it, how to comprehend that just this morning everything was perfectly fine and now it’s spiraled into a hell that none of them even know what to do in. It seems like it always happens this way, that they hit the best point in their lives and then something pops up and makes it all come crashing down.
But it’s never been like this before.
Niall’s locked himself in his room and he won’t come out for anyone. Zayn only knows this because Harry and Louis spent a bit of time pounding on his door before Harry burst into tears and ran off to his own room. It seems that their ball of Irish sunshine can’t even come through for them this time, not that any of them expected him to. It hit Niall the hardest.
They’d all just moved into this house a few months ago and it was just starting to feel like home but now it doesn’t even feel like it deserves to be a place for them to live. It’s too silent, too empty, too broken of a place to be considered a home. This place, this place that doesn’t even deserve to be considered a place anymore…
Zayn pushes the thought out of his mind as he kneels down on the living room floor, trying to ignore the sight in front of him. The feeling of cool liquid hits his knees as it seeps through his pants and while Zayn tries to ignore it he can’t. This is just too much at once, too much for him to process and definitely too much to handle.
“Nice to hear from you again,” Zayn says cheerfully into the phone as he pushes a piece of toast onto Niall’s plate. “How’d everything go at home?”
“Good. Mum was having one of those ‘I miss my boy’ moments so it was overwhelming but nice. She took great care of the turtles though.”
“Are you bringing them back with you?” Niall whines for more toast and Zayn flips him off with a smile before he pushes bread into the toaster. There’s not much that Zayn can manage to make without Harry’s or Liam’s help so Niall’s inhaling all the toast that Zayn makes before he can even put anything on it.
Liam chuckles on the other end of the line. “Yeah, I am. Tell Niall I say hi, would you?” Zayn does so but ignores Niall’s response as it involves something regarding toast. “Are Harry and Louis awake yet?”
“Highly doubt it,” Zayn replies just as the toast pops out. “They were up all night jumping around until they saw the sun.” That earns a laugh from Liam because even though it’s highly cliché Liam always laughs at Zayn’s song lyric puns. “They’ll probably get up just in time for the interview.”
“That’s typical of them though,” Liam comments and Zayn can hear the smile in his voice. It feels like it’s been ages since they’ve seen Liam and he can’t wait for him to come home so that they can have a proper reuniting. “Sorry I won’t be there for the interview.”
“Not your fault, Li. Besides, it was better that you got that time with your mum. She’s obviously missed you.”
“Yeah, she has.”
There’s a moment of comfortable silence, the kind that Zayn only really feels when he’s around the boys, when you’ve just had a good talk and now you just want to relax in the comfort of it. He’s pulled out of it by Niall complaining, once again, about toast. “When you get back you really need to teach me how to cook something so that I can actually manage to feed Niall when you visit your mum again.”
“Maybe we should just teach Niall to cook,” Liam quips and that causes Zayn to burst into laughter. Liam instantly follows and Zayn’s gripping to the kitchen counter to keep standing while Niall just stares at him like he’s gone mad.
“That’s great, Li,” Zayn finally manages when he’s stopped laughing. The little bit of laughter was enough to make Zayn miss Liam even more and now all he wants to do is hug him. A few days apart is far too long in Zayn’s opinion.
“Hey, listen. When I get back we need to talk, alright?” Liam’s serious tone sets Zayn straight and he presses the phone up against his ear. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
“Of course. You can tell me anything, Liam. You know that.”
“I know,” Liam replies and he sounds cheerful again. “But this is important so I want to wait until I can see you again, alright?” Zayn agrees and he can practically hear Liam’s grin as he says, “Good. I’ve got to go finish packing up now, so I’ll see you when you guys get back from the interview, alright?”
“Can’t wait. Come home safe alright?”
Zayn doesn’t know how long he’s been kneeling on the carpet, staring at the mess that he hates to call his life. He doesn’t even know if he wants to move again. This is a disaster zone, a place that no one should ever consider stepping near and yet he wants to lie, face down, in the mess and allow himself to fade away into the floor. He wants to become a part of the place that he never wants to set foot in again if it means that it will fix the problem.
He closes his eyes to relieve himself of the nightmares but they still dance behind his eyelids, reveling in the power that they hold. They’re taunting him with flashes of what he saw before, what he sees now, and no matter what Zayn does he can’t seem to make it go away.
“Zayn?” Even though his voice is raw and cracking Zayn can tell it’s Louis. He sounds like he’s been crying and Zayn knows that asking isn’t going to help anyone. In fact, he’s not even sure if he can find it in himself to speak because actually saying something will break the silence and give the nightmares power, or at least that’s what it feels like. “Zayn,” Louis repeats and Zayn wants to tell him to fuck off, to go away and leave him alone, maybe even to never return. But he can’t do that when Louis sounds like he’s on the verge of tears. Even if he wasn’t he can’t do that because it’s Louis and Louis never bothers him unless it’s important.
“What?” Zayn croaks out and he’s surprised at how empty his voice sounds, how silent and emotionless it is. There’s a hand on his shoulder but he jerks roughly away before it can even stay there for longer than a moment. “What, Louis?”
“You shouldn’t be in here,” Louis chokes out, his voice shaking. “We shouldn’t…it’s not…Zayn.” And Louis just sounds so pained that Zayn wants to make it better. He wants to stand up and take Louis in his arms, to hug him and tell him that it’s all going to be okay even though they both know that there’s no way it will ever be better again. He wants to do so much that he can’t even process because of the fact that he’s so broken right now.
He doesn’t know what to say to Louis so he just says nothing. That way there’s no expectations to destroy or promises to break. He can’t do anything to hurt Louis more than he’s already hurting right now. “Zayn, please.” Louis sounds desperate and it’s causing Zayn to actually feel something other than the despair that’s taken over him ever since he walked through the door.
“Get me soap,” Zayn finally manages to say and it’s sharp and commanding and completely unlike him. It makes Louis shift behind him and Zayn doesn’t have to open his eyes to know that Louis’s face is twisted up in an unreadable expression. There’re probably tears falling down his face as he stares at Zayn with confusion.
“Shut up and get me some fucking soap and a brush, Louis.”
It’s the first time that he says Louis’s name but he’s spitting it out like it’s vile and if anyone didn’t know them (which everyone knows them even if they don’t know their names) they’d think that Zayn downright despised Louis. It’s not the case at all and Louis knows that but the way that he turns and walks away makes it sound like even he’s unsure of it.
Zayn can’t help wincing when he hears Louis choking back a sob from the kitchen. He knows it’s wrong, the way that he’s treating him, but there’s nothing else he can do. He can’t handle being the person that he always is right now.
“You don’t have to do this,” Louis whispers as he sets down a bucket of soapy water and a brush and Zayn doesn’t look at him as he kneels down next to him. Zayn notices the way that Louis stays back from the puddle. “This isn’t your job.”
There’s no response from Zayn as he grabs the brush, dunks it roughly in the water and begins scrubbing the floor. “Zayn, it’s…it’s his…” As hard as he tries Zayn can’t tune Louis out and he knows it’s horrible but when Louis whispers the word he completely tenses up and scrubs even harder because he doesn’t want to think about it. He never, ever wants to think about the fact that this is his blood. Liam’s blood.
He can’t think about it.
They just finished their interview when Zayn got a text from Liam that said ‘im home!’ and he was throwing himself all over the boys to try and get them to leave. It wasn’t until Niall actually elbowed him in the ribs and told him to go bother Harry and Louis that he realised just how much of a rush he was in to see Liam.
“He will still be there if we show up fifteen minutes later. Calm down, Zayn,” Harry comments as he tugs his shirt on, mussing up his already ridiculous-looking hair. “Just give us time to get changed and grab our stuff alright?”
“But Niall’s already ready and you and Louis are going to take forever to get out of here,” he replies instantly and he doesn’t even realise that he’s whining until Harry’s laughing at him. “Come on, it’s Liam, Harry. I miss him.”
“Does that mean you’re finally going to tell him?” Harry replies as he cocks an eyebrow at Zayn. Zayn hates the way that Harry does that, the way that he figures him out before Zayn can even figure out what he’s feeling or thinking. Harry’s known for a while that Zayn’s feelings for Liam have been stronger than the ones he’s had for the rest of the boys and they’ve talked about it a few times but Zayn doesn’t want to act on it. He’s comfortable with the lingering touches and the kisses on the cheek at this point.
In fact, he’s slightly terrified to let Liam know how he really feels. What if it completely ruins the dynamic of the band because they’re not like Harry and Louis; they don’t fall together in a way that makes it known that they’re made for each other. No, the dynamic between Liam and Zayn is completely different.
“I just want to get to see him first,” Zayn tells Harry before he smiles. “Then we’ll see what happens. He said on the phone that he has something important to tell me.”
“Do you think…?” Harry asks as he starts to grin.
“I don’t know, Harry, but I’m hoping that it is.” Zayn doesn’t want to initiate it but if Liam does…well, Zayn’s just hoping that he will. “I’m going to go and call him and let him know we’re on our way.”
“Tell him hi from me,” Harry replies and Zayn flashes him a grin before he steps into the hallway and dials Liam’s number. The line rings two or three times before it’s answered and Zayn’s just about to let out a happy, “Welcome home, Liam!” before the line clicks dead.
Zayn stares at the phone for a moment before he redials. He frowns when it goes straight to voicemail and calls Liam another four more times before he’s starting to panic. A thousand reasons rush through his mind as to why Liam might not be answering his phone, both good and bad. He considers trying the landline that management insisted they have installed in case they all turned off their phones to sleep through the twitter storms but knows that that’s not going to work. They leave it unplugged most of the times and he’s pretty sure that if Liam’s there like he says he is that he’s unplugged the annoying thing.
“We need to go,” Zayn splutters out as he runs back into the dressing room and grabs Harry. “Liam’s not answering his phone.”
“Relax. He’s probably in the shower or taking a nap. Maybe his phone died. Relax, Zayn. You’re starting to sound like him.” Were it anyone else, Zayn realises, he probably wouldn’t care so much, but this is Liam and Liam’s responsible and perfect and Zayn’s so in love with him that it hurts so he just need to see him, to make sure that he’s okay and to finally tell him how he feels.
“Can we go?” Zayn asks and this time it’s a lot calmer. Harry’s expression softens and he nods. “Let’s go find Niall and Louis then.”
They walk down the hall, Zayn trying not to run because there’s something in his gut that’s just telling him it’s not okay.
Zayn’s not sure how long he’s been scrubbing at the carpet but there hasn’t been much progress. Louis’s stuck by his side the entire time, trying to talk to him or at least get him to talk. He’s the one who keeps switching out the buckets of pink liquid for fresh ones, deciding halfway through that bleach might help better than the soap that they’ve been using.
There’s no real conversation between them because Zayn doesn’t ever respond to anything Louis says. He just keeps scrubbing, trying to erase the blood along with the nightmares, the images of Liam’s mangled body lying motionless on the carpet. He wants it all to go away because this isn’t how he wants to remember Liam. Not all all.
To Zayn, Liam has always been gentle smiles and kind words. He was always being overprotective and gentle, responsible and reasonable and he’s been Zayn’s everything since the day that they first realised that they had things in common like books and music and even favourite places to nap. Liam has always been his sunshine, his reason to smile and without him… Without him there’s nothing left for Zayn.
This is his Liam, not the one that he came home to tonight. He never expected that when he stepped in the door Liam wouldn’t be there waiting for him with a smile and a hug. He never expected that he’d walk into the living room and find the only person that he’s ever allowed himself to love dead on the floor with a knife in his chest and a pool of blood soaking into the carpet. These are things that Zayn could never even begin to fathom until today happened.
He stops scrubbing and drops the brush, his aching fingers crying out in relief as he curls them into a fist and slams it against the floor as hard as he can. “Zayn?” Louis whispers and it’s tentative and terrified, almost like he’s afraid that Zayn’s going to hit him if he even considers checking to see if he’s alright. “Zayn, what-…”
“I love him,” Zayn manages to say and his voice cracks, breaks, shatters into a thousand irreparable pieces because there’s nothing that can be done to fix what’s broken. “I love him and he’s gone, Louis.” His eyes feel like people are sticking pins into them and he wishes that that were the case rather than the fact that he’s about to cry.
“We all do, Zayn,” Louis responds a bit helplessly and Zayn lifts his head and glares at Louis as a single tear makes its way down his cheek. “We’ll…they’re going to find who did this. We’re going to…to fix it.” Zayn knows that those aren’t the words Louis wants to use because there’s no way to fix it. There’s no way to fix any of it because it’s supposed to be the five of them. It always has been and it was always supposed to be. Even when they were broken up in the future it was still supposed to be all of them, together, forever.
And some fucker ruined everything for them. Some asshole took away the one person that Zayn’s pretty sure he can’t live without.
Zayn grabs the bucket of bleach water and he tosses it aside, not caring that the contents spill all over the white carpet and tinge it all with pink. He doesn’t care about anything anymore because Liam’s not here and that’s all that matters to him. “You don’t understand!” he screams and there’s a sick satisfaction in the way that Louis flinches back. Zayn’s in pain and he wants everyone to understand just how much this has fucking destroyed him.
“I love him,” he cries out. “I was in love with him and I never got to tell him and he’s-he’s…” Zayn can’t get the rest of it out because he’s choking on sobs and tears and all of the emotions just come flooding out and Zayn feels like he’s dying because of them, because of the fact that the other half of him, the person that he knows was supposed to be his soul mate, his one and only, is gone and there’s no way to ever feel complete again.
Zayn’s screaming in between sobs and Louis pulls him in his arms and tries to comfort him even though he’s crying now too because he never knew just how much Liam meant to Zayn and now that he does it feels even worse. It feels almost like he’s lost Harry and it all makes sense now as to why Zayn was so out of it, why he screamed at Louis and why he’s having this torrential breakdown.
It’s not enough and even when Harry appears and pushes himself around Zayn’s other side and grips him tight it’s still not enough to calm Zayn down. He’s sobbing, letting out each bit of his shattered feelings into Louis’s shoulder or Harry’s chest or wherever his thrashing and screaming has him end up.
Niall even shows up somewhere during his breakdown and he wraps his arms around Zayn from behind but it’s not enough. He’s enveloped on three sides but his front’s still exposed; his heart’s not protected from being broken again and his lungs are easily available for someone to come and pierce them and suck out whatever air’s still caught inside of them. This is Liam’s spot; this is where he always would go when Zayn needed a hug from all of them. This is where he was when Zayn’s grandfather died and he cried on Liam’s shoulder and was enveloped by loving arms and warm bodies.
But now there’s just this hole where Liam once was, this empty space of air where the person that he loved to love used to belong and no longer does. This is the first time that it really hits Zayn that Liam’s gone and that his numb feelings are actually replaced with piercing sorrow and uncontrollable pain. He starts screaming Liam’s name and tries to claw his way out of the boys’ grips so that he can get away, so that he can follow Liam to wherever he went.
The arms around him just grip tighter and that little reasonable part of Zayn’s brain is surprised that someone hasn’t called the cops yet or tried to get him sectioned. But their neighbours know what happened; the entire world will know by daylight if they don’t already know. One Direction singer Liam Payne, age 20, found murdered in his home. It’ll be in all of the headlines, on every channel and website and nowhere will be a safe place for Zayn to try and escape.
“Zayn. Zayn please…” He can hear Niall pleading and the way that his voice sounds so raw and desperate makes Zayn finally stop screaming. He falls back, defeated, collapsing against Niall’s chest and Harry and Louis move closer as the three of them try to envelope Zayn as best as they can. It’s not the same, though. It will never be the same because they’re missing a fifth of their little family, a key piece of their heart. It’s gone, never to be returned or replaced and they’re broken and defeated and nothing matters anymore.
“I love him,” Zayn chokes out and he smells the bitter, burning scent of bleach and the metallic hint of blood and whatever is left of the boys’ cologne from the interview. Zayn buries his face into Harry’s chest and he struggles to tug Louis closer as he tries to disappear into the only pieces of Liam he has left. “I love him.”
It’s still not enough. It will never be enough, but there’s nothing else to do. Screaming won’t bring Liam back to him no matter how hard or how loud he screams. He could do blood sacrifices or join a cult or kill a human being in a ritual but nothing he can do that will ever bring Liam back. The painful realization is worse than the numb depression that he’s been trapped in and Zayn just wants someone to knock him out or drug him up to the point that he can’t feel anything.
He wants to be numb. He wants to be dead. He wants to see Liam one last time to let him know how he felt, how he feels, how he’ll never feel this way for anyone else.
“I love you.”