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in the middle of the night

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It's Louis who makes Niall aware of Zayn behaving oddly.

"I dunno mate, he just looks at you funny," says Louis, and Niall looks over to Zayn who rightly enough is glaring in his general direction. They’re in a pub though, and to be honest, Zayn could be looking at pretty much anyone, as there's plenty of people. Louis just shakes his head, slowly, and puts his arm around Niall's shoulder, pulling him closer.

"Wha'?" asks Niall, trying to shrug off Louis' arm, but Louis just tightens his grip.

"Just look," Louis slurs, finishing off his pint, setting down the glass a bit harder than necessary at the bar counter. Niall notices that the empty glass is quickly refilled, but Louis doesn't pay it much attention. Niall is already pleasantly drunk now, the buzz he gets from drinking making its way through his body; making his head tingle and his cheeks flush.

"Whatcha talkin' 'bout, mate?" he asks, squinting his eyes as he looks at Louis who's standing so close that Niall has to lean back to look at him properly.

"Zayn, mate. He's been watchin' you all night. Like he's jealous."

Niall looks at Zayn again who's sitting in a dark corner next to Liam. Liam's talking, animatedly if the movement of the hands are anything to go by, and Zayn seems to be nodding every now and then.

"Nah, you tosser," he says, grinning. "He's just eyeing the barmaid, m'guessin'." And honestly, the barmaid is pretty hot. Niall's been watching her too--or rather, he was watching her until he noticed that she looked more at Harry than him.

"Hm," says Louis, narrowing his eyes slightly as he watches Zayn for a couple of seconds before he's distracted by Harry who walks past them. "Oi," says Louis, letting go of Niall and trudging after Harry, laughing loudly and dancing along to whatever song's playing on the jukebox.

For the rest of the night though, Niall can't help but watch Zayn who does indeed seem to be looking at Niall.

"Time to go home, Nialler," says Zayn suddenly, appearing behind Niall who had been trying to get the barmaid's attention to get a refill.

"Not tired yet," he mumbles, finally catching the barmaid's attention and lifting his empty glass to signal that he wants a new one. Zayn leans against Niall's back and takes the glass from his hand, quickly setting it down and pulling Niall with him, out of the pub and into the first dark alley they come across.

"Sod off," says Niall, a surprised laugh escaping his lips. Zayn just looks at him, head tilting slightly to the side as he glares at Niall. He shivers, but blames it on the wind and not how Zayn looks at him. It's gotten colder since they arrived at the pub, the thin t-shirt that Niall's wearing no longer warm enough.

"Cold?" asks Zayn, and before Niall gets a chance to answer, Zayn pulls his cardigan over his head and pushes it into Niall's hands. "Go on," says Zayn, smirking. "Put this on. Go on, Nialler."

"Right," he says, shaking his head but still puts it on. It smells like Zayn: like cigarettes and the cologne that Zayn wears and a bit like beer. Niall likes it, and so what if he puts the sleeve up to his nose and breathes in the smell of Zayn. So what. Zayn's eyes darken just a tad, and Niall feels himself blush.

"Now, home," says Zayn, pulling out his pack of fags. Niall can't help but watch as smoke leaves the corner of his lips and the way Zayn's nostrils flare just slightly.

"Home," he says, dazed and drunk.

"Yes," says Zayn, throwing his arm around Niall's shoulder, just like Louis had done earlier. But where Louis had just made him a bit uncomfortable, Zayn's arm is warm and he finds himself leaning into Zayn's side, curling his body slightly to fit into the crook of his arm.

The hotel isn't that far away, and they've barely been walking for five minutes before Zayn throws the fag away and then they're standing in the lobby of their fancy hotel.

"You're sleeping in my room," says Zayn, calmly like they're talking about the weather. Niall stops walking, and Zayn has to pull him along to the lifts and guide him into one of them.

"Me stuff tho," he says when they're standing in the lift together.

"I got a spare toothbrush and you can just borrow something from me to sleep in," says Zayn, shrugging.

"Right," he says, too confused to put his foot down and go to his own room.

Zayn guides him into the room, closes the door behind them and locks it. Niall stands awkwardly in the middle of the room. Normally he's not shy around Zayn, but the way that he's been looking at Niall all night -- if Louis is right, that is -- has made him self-conscious.

Zayn throws him a t-shirt, which makes Niall unfreeze from the spot.

"Thanks," he mumbles, pulling the cardigan off along with his own t-shirt and pulls on the clean shirt, which smells like Zayn too, which of course, it's Zayn's clothes so it would be weird if it didn't smell like him, yeah?

Sharing beds is nothing new. They've all shared beds at one time or another. Niall's even one time shared a bunk on the tour-bus with Harry as they'd had too much too drink and Niall hadn't been able to crawl up to his own bunk. But the way Zayn rolls Niall over to his side and spoons up behind him, arm pulling Niall close to his chest definitely is new.

"You looked at the barmaid a lot tonight," Zayn says, lips brushing over the back of Niall's neck, making him shiver. "I didn't like that."

"Um," he says, not as eloquently as he'd have liked.

"I liked it better when you started watching me," continues Zayn. Niall tries to turn his head but Zayn just pulls him closer, burrowing his nose behind Niall's ear, making it difficult for Niall to move much.

"Louis said you were acting funny," he replies, eyes trying to make out the wall in the dark.

"Yeah?" asks Zayn. Niall can feel the way his lips pull back and teeth grazes over his skin. "What else did Louis say?"

"I dunno, mate, I think he reckons you might be jealous. Silly, ain't it?"

"Not so silly, no," whispers Zayn, for the first time all night sounding just a bit uncertain.

"Oh," he says. Then, a split second later, eyes widening, "Oh! Really? I mean, me? You fancy me?"

"Yeah," says Zayn, wistfully, arms loosing the hold around Niall's chest a bit.

Niall smiles, "So, if I asked you for breakfast tomorrow, you'd come with me?"

"We have breakfast every day together, Nialler," says Zayn, but Niall can hear that he sounds relieved; that he sounds happy, maybe. Niall's not sure, but he thinks so, when Zayn tightens his hold again.

"Yeah," says Niall, "but I was thinking just the two of us, ya know?"

"I'd love that."

"Good," he says, closing his eyes, skin still tingling though he's pretty sure it's not because of the pints he had earlier. He feels a gentle press of wet lips on the back of his neck for a brief moment before Zayn seems to relax too.

Zayn falls asleep first, Niall too giddy to relax properly, but when Niall finally falls asleep it's to the sound of Zayn softly snoring into his neck.

fin.