Actions

Work Header

Maybe It's A Hangover, Maybe I'm In Love

Work Text:

Niall and Harry have been friends for ages, and that's really the only reason Niall decided to show up at this party. It's the end of the school year and even though Niall's been looking for a good reason to get smashed lately, tonight he's really just not in the mood.

He's been thinking about it all day. This had been their last year, the final one, and Niall's still not quite sure what he wants to do with his life. He was thinking about just floundering off to uni like that, no real set plan in mind, but then he saw Harry and even Louis taking it seriously, and suddenly he felt like maybe this half-assed idea of his wasn't a very good one. So, needless to say, he isn't really in the mood to spend time with all of these people who seem to have everything figured out.

He's halfway through a lukewarm bottle of Corona when someone finally gets up, leaving a free space on the couch, and he quickly makes his way toward it, settling into the cushions with a soft sigh. He takes another swig of his drink, hissing at the familiar, but still unpleasant aftertaste. He keeps his eyes closed for a moment, just listening to the sounds around him; a bit of weird indie music coming from Harry's iPod, a loud crash signaling something being broken, Harry shouting at whoever broke whatever they broke. It almost calms him, listening to chaos right now. It distracts him from the chaos he feels inside his own head, at least.

“Might wanna move, mate,” Niall hears from beside him, and he opens his eyes to look over. There's a face he doesn’t recognize staring back at him, and Niall quirks an eyebrow at him. “Huh?”

The boy just laughs, though, tugging at Niall's elbow until he stands, moving them both toward a clear spot against the wall. Niall blinks at him in confusion until he hears a loud shout and sees two bodies crash against the couch. Oh.

“Thanks.” Niall turns back to the stranger at his side.

“Yeah.” He nods. “No problem. You looked like you could use some help.”

Niall lets out a snort at that. Is it that obvious that he feels completely overwhelmed? It wouldn't be surprising, just inconvenient. Fuck, maybe he should get another drink. At least if he's drinking he doesn't have to be thinking.

“I'm Zayn, by the way, don't think we've met?” The boy (Zayn, his name is Zayn) offers Niall a fist, which Niall just kind of stares at blankly before bumping his own against it.

“Niall.” He bobs his head in response.

“Nice to meet you, Niall.” The smile that the boy – Zayn, Niall reminds himself – gives him is one of those smiles that looks like it doesn’t happen very often. It’s not unattractive, or anything, just looks like Zayn’s not used to doing it very often. “Mate of Harry’s, then? Or did you just turn up accidentally?”

“Nah, I’ve known Harry for ages.” Niall gives him a quick shrug. He feels twitchy, twitchier than he’s used to feeling when he’s been drinking. Usually by now he’s a bit more languid, relaxed. “You must know him too, then, I’m guessing?”

Zayn laughs a little, his arms folding across his chest as he gives Niall a look that seems both patronizing and commiserating. “Of course. Everyone knows Harry, don't they? He's kind of a big deal.”

Niall laughs at that, shaking his head, because it's true. Harry is kind of a big deal, and Niall's really still not sure why Harry's stayed friends with someone like him for so long. “Yeah... Yeah, I guess he is, huh?”

“I didn't think he was this much of a big deal, though,” Zayn says, looking out toward the chaos around them. There are people everywhere dancing, and shouting, and Harry's going to have a shitload to clean up tomorrow. Niall's not going to help him, but he'll at least watch Harry do it, or something. Zayn continues, “Maybe I underestimated how much people like free beer.”

“Can you turn down free beer?” Niall shoots an incredulous stare sideways. “It's one of the only reasons I'm even here right now,” he admits, shrugging.

Zayn laughs. “I'm pretty sure nothing else would've got me here. I hate shit like this.” He waves a hand toward the mob of people. “I like beer and I like Harry. Everyone else, not so much.”

“How d'you know Harry, anyway? You definitely aren't in school with us. No way I'd forget a face like yours,” Niall concludes, blinking over at Zayn. Really, he is ridiculously attractive. It's actually a bit disconcerting. How many beers has he had, again?

A small smile crosses Zayn's lips, and he adjusts the way he's leaning against the door. It stretches his body out long and lean with his elbow propped up against the wall so that he's touching the back of his neck. It's, well, it definitely shouldn't be legal if it is. Niall wants to lick him, a little bit. He gives his beer a betrayed look and then realizes, yes, he is more drunk than he thought he was.

“Nah,” says Zayn. “I go to St. Mathews, but Harry and I went to the same primary school. He's the only one I've kept in touch with.”

“Ah,” is all Niall manages at first, eyes trailing over the smooth column of Zayn's neck. He clears his throat, setting his beer bottle down on the table next to them. “S'pose that explains why've never met you before. Harry's been one of my best friends since year two.”

Niall watches Zayn nod and then he continues, “Erm, what year are you in, then? Same as Hazza?”

“Year above him, actually.” Zayn rolls his eyes. “It was mental when we were kids, trying to get around with this curly-haired menace dogging all my steps. Couldn't have been cool if I wanted to be.”

Niall lets out a loud vibrant laugh, biting his lip quickly to smother it. Zayn’s the same year as Niall, then. “So, you're off to uni next year too, then?”

Niall's not really sure why he asked, this is the exact subject he's been trying to avoid all night, but something makes him want to learn everything he can about his new party companion.

Zayn wrinkles his nose a little. “Yeah, I guess. I've been trying not to think about it all that much, if I'm honest, but yeah, I guess. It's what you do, isn't it?”

Niall sighs, nodding slowly. “I s'pose so. Not looking forward to it, then?”

The way Zayn smiles then isn't any less attractive than it's been this whole conversation, but there's something not-quite-happy behind it. Niall thinks he understands even before Zayn opens his mouth.

“Yeah, well, leaving all my friends to go get a degree in something useless isn't really something I'm big on. I'm not good at like, anything, really.”

Niall's kind of speechless for a moment, because well, he's feeling the exact same way. “Yeah, me either,” he breathes out quietly. “It seems like all of my friends just have everything figured out, and I just... Don't, y'know?”

Zayn seems to look at him a little more closely, then. Niall thinks he might have surprised him. “Yeah,” he says slowly, still giving Niall that curious look. “Yeah, everyone I know is acting like this is just some new -- something to conquer, an adventure or something. And I'm scared out of my fucking mind,” he concludes in a quieter voice. Niall wonders if he's ever said that out loud.

Niall swallows around the lump in his throat and he just keep blinking for a while before sliding a hesitant hand around Zayn's wrist. “Y'wanna go upstairs?” he asks.

Zayn's eyes move from Niall's grip on his arm slowly back to his eyes, and then he licks his lips. “Yeah.” He sounds a little bewildered. “Yeah, I do.”

Niall doesn't bother trying to contain his smile, tugging at Zayn's wrist lightly, getting the other boy to follow him. He guides them up the staircase, past who knows how many drunk couples hooking up, and he almost loses his nerve, but then he spots an open door and he pulls Zayn along inside.

The moment the door is shut behind them, Zayn's much closer than he was, pressed up against Niall with his fingers laced behind Niall's neck. “This okay?” he asks, his mouth so close that Niall can feel breath on his lips.

“More than,” Niall murmurs, resting his hands at Zayn's hips and pulling him closer. He doesn't hesitate when he connects their lips, and Zayn instantly responds so Niall's pretty sure that it's not a huge problem.

Neither of them hold back after that. It's an amazing kiss, deep and wet and Zayn's keeping Niall where he wants him, which is bizarrely hot. They're pressed together from chest to thigh and Niall wants -- Niall wants.

“Fuck,” Zayn hisses out, connecting their lips once, and then again in quick succession, sucking Niall's tongue back into his mouth.

It makes Niall release a noise that'd be embarrassing if he was focused on anything but Zayn, and he slides his hands up, underneath Zayn's t-shirt to touch warm, smooth skin that he wants to touch with his mouth.

Zayn gets his hands down the back of Niall's jeans, palming at his arse beneath his pants.

Niall's flushed red by now, can feel it on his face and he just presses even closer, fingers moving to the buttons at the front of Zayn's shirt. How he manages to get them all popped open without ripping even one, he'll never understand.

“Bed,” says Zayn, in this breathy voice that Niall's proud he caused. He has tattoos, Niall can see, stark black lines of ink against his skin, and Niall wants to kiss all of them one by one to see what makes Zayn squirm the most.

Niall lets Zayn press him down into the mattress, watches as he pulls his shirt off the rest of the way, throwing it onto the floor. He lets out a harsh breath when he sees Zayn going straight for the button on his jeans, and his dick twitches in response.

“I really want to blow you,” says Zayn conversationally. “Is that alright?”

“Like I'd turn that?” Niall snorts. “Need t'get these off now.”

Zayn grins up at him and it's breathtaking. Niall literally has a moment where he struggles to get air into his lungs, but part of that might be how a moment later Zayn shoves Niall's trousers down his thighs and then tugs down his pants without a second in between.

Zayn strokes him a few times, eyes still locked on Niall's somehow and he just keeps grinning. He keeps smiling like having Niall's dick in his hand is one of the best things to ever happen to him, and normally Niall would be laughing by now, but Zayn's eyes are serious as he stares back.

He feels flushed all over, like he's not just blushing in his face but down his neck and chest and all the way to his toes, like Zayn's looking at him is making him burn slowly from the inside. He can't help watching Zayn's mouth. It's a really nice mouth, quirked to one side with a plush lower lip that looks like it'd be fun to bite.

“Going down on you now,” Zayn mumbles. It’s cute, weird and cute that he feels the need to inform Niall before he does it. Zayn’s humming as he lowers his head, tongue flicking out against the head of Niall's straining cock.

A sound punches out of Niall, an oh from deep in his chest. He fists his hands in the sheets because he has a feeling he's going to need something to hold on to, if the way Zayn's mouth looks is any indication.

Zayn is smirking the next time he meets Niall's eyes, and after a grin he tucks his lips neatly into his mouth and swallows Niall's cock.

It's a good thing that Niall has a grip on something because otherwise he thinks he might've pulled some of Zayn's hair out, or punched himself in the face or something. There was no transition between his dick not being sucked and the warm, wet, smooth heat that envelopes it from Zayn's mouth, and it takes all Niall has in him not to just fuck up into the feeling.

Zayn swirls his tongue around the head, sucking at it and then letting out a deep moan, like he likes the taste of it. One of his hands rubs at Niall’s thigh while the other grips the base of his cock lightly, holding it steady.

Niall loves that -- it's so hard to get into a blowjob when it's obvious you're much more into it than the other person is, and Zayn's making it clear that he's enjoying what he's doing. He wonders if there's anything better than someone who really enjoys giving good head. Maybe a really good sandwich. But it'd have to be fucking stellar to beat Zayn's mouth.

Zayn takes Niall all the way to the back of his throat, nearly gagging himself on it. He swallows around him, fingertips now dancing along Niall's stomach, just beneath his bellybutton.

He's a little bit ticklish, and he can feel a giggle building up in his chest, but Niall forces it down. There's nothing laughworthy about the way Zayn's sucking him off, all languid and slow and his eyes every so often flicking up to check Niall's still having a good time.

“Amazin',” he mumbles, because he thinks Zayn deserves some praise even if Niall's about two beers and one flick of Zayn's tongue past 'coherent'.

Zayn hums his appreciation, pulling back up the shaft and flicking his tongue at the underside of the head again.

He looks really good. Zayn's face is as flushed as Niall feels and his lips are shiny and slick with his own spit and Niall's pre-come, and he's got these eyelashes. Niall's never seen eyelashes like that except on a girl, sooty black and so long that when he closes his eyes they look like they brush his cheekbones.

Zayn's concentration falters a bit when he feels one of Niall's hands come up to press against his cheek, but he regains his composure quickly enough, sucking Niall down until he can't anymore.

Niall presses his fingertips into the hollow of Zayn's cheek, to feel the suction and at one point Zayn pulls back enough to push the head of Niall's dick over to that side so that Niall can feel it.

He's got cheekbones, Zayn has, high and pretty on his face. He's probably the prettiest person Niall's ever seen, but he thinks he's biased. He mostly thinks people who are willing to suck his dick are the prettiest people he's ever seen, and Zayn's doing it really well while also managing to look like something out of an oil painting from The Renaissance.

Zayn pulls back again, working on just the head on Niall's dick with his mouth, moving his hand down to stroke over the rest. His fingers are soft, not like Niall's, which are covered in rough calluses from playing the guitar.

The rhythm of it all is pounding in Niall's head, thumping like a heartbeat. Or maybe it's just his actual heart, the sounds from the blood rushing in his ears. He's surprised there's any blood left in his body that's not in his cock already.

“Close,” he croaks on a moan, squeezing Zayn's shoulder. He tries to be polite to the people who give him blowjobs. It seems like the right thing to do.

Zayn only takes him all the way down again in response, giving all he has in order to get Niall to come.

It definitely works. Niall's hips twitch off the bed and he faintly hopes he doesn't choke Zayn but he's not too concerned with that because his orgasm is ripping through him with a ferocity he doesn't know if he's ever felt before. It could just be how drunk he is, but Niall doesn’t think so, if he’s thinking anything at all.

Zayn swallows it all, pulling off and giving Niall's dick a few kitten licks just in case he missed any. When he's finished he looks back up at Niall and suddenly the smirk is back.

He'd make a snarky comment (as Zayn seems the type to enjoy a good snarky comment and Niall's all for giving people what they want) but he can't quite catch his breath, still, and all the muscles in his body feel like they're not working quite right.

Zayn smiles at Niall and leans in to start trailing kisses up Niall's pale stomach. His fingers move to grip at Niall's hips and he sucks a kiss from the center of Niall's chest. “So hard now...”

“I think I can probably do something about that.” Niall smiles back at him. He can feel the ends of his hair curling damp against the back of his neck and he slots a hand behind Zayn’s neck to pull him up into a kiss. He tastes bitter and salty and it sends a shivershock up Niall's spine to know that it's because he just had Niall's come in his mouth.

Zayn hums into Niall's mouth, moaning when Niall starts sucking on his tongue. He ruts against Niall's thigh, nipping at his lower lip, and then letting out a soft laugh. Niall doesn’t know what he’s laughing at but he kind of feels like laughing himself, so maybe he does. Niall runs his hand down Zayn's back to feel the way his muscles shift when he moves. Zayn is skinny in the same way that Niall is, soft and lean rather than muscular like Harry or Liam. Niall likes it. He feels like maybe he could hold Zayn down if he wanted to.

“Do something?” Zayn asks in a pleading voice, eyes wide and boring down into Niall's again. Niall swallows, nodding up at Zayn and reaching between them.

The noise Zayn makes when Niall touches him almost makes Niall want to go again himself, and his dick twitches in response to it. Zayn has a lovely voice when he's speaking and it only gets better when he's moaning through the lip he's biting, all rough and sexy.

Zayn pushes into Niall's grip, head falling to rest against Niall's shoulder. “Fuck, yes,” he hisses.

Niall has to move a little to adjust his grip, but he can tell when he gets the angle right because Zayn's hips kind of twitch and he makes another one of those noises. Niall likes those noises. He's really glad he's getting to hear them.

Zayn's tongue flicks out against Niall's skin, his teeth sinking down into it right after. His hips thrust again, and he lets out another rough groan, eyes squeezing shut tight.

Everything is hot, Niall finds himself thinking. There's so much heat gathered between them that Niall can feel himself sweating, and Harry's house is always like a fucking sauna anyway. And Zayn, Zayn is so very very hot, so hot that Niall's not sure why he's chosen Niall of all people to do this with, but he's not complaining. He thinks complaining about getting off with really hot blokes is probably treason or blasphemy or something.

“Close,” Niall hears Zayn murmur next to his ear, and god does he want to see it. Niall's pretty sure he's never wanted to see anything more in his life.

“Yeah,” he finds himself saying, low and urgent. “Yeah, come on, I wanna see.” He twists his wrist to palm up over the head of Zayn's cock, his hand sticky with pre-come. He has to tilt his head at a funny angle to properly see Zayn's face, but like hell he's missing this.

Zayn's bottom lip is caught between his teeth again and his eyes are still squeezed tightly shut. His hips rotate, letting his cock slip in and out of Niall's grip quickly over and over again.

Niall likes that he doesn't actually have to do much work; he just lets Zayn fuck into his hand a few more times, keeping his eyes trained on his face. It's such a good face, too.

When Zayn finally comes, he lets out a deep moan, hips stilling with Niall's hand wrapped firmly around him. Niall gives him a gentle squeeze and Zayn's hips grind forward slowly against his hand.

It's like something out of a dream, slow and fuzzy. Zayn's let go of his lower lip and Niall can see the indentations where his teeth were, red and raw, and he has to kiss him because he wants to know how they'll feel against his mouth. He strokes his tongue over Zayn's once, swallowing his groans and ending the kiss with a final lick over his bottom lip.

“Fuck, you're so hot.” Zayn shakes his head, flopping onto the bed next to Niall and peering over at him.

Niall laughs, rolling onto his side. He doesn't know which protocol to follow here -- the one-night-hookup or the hookup-with-a-friend. Zayn's not really a friend, at least not yet, but he's mates with Harry so there's a good chance Niall's going to see him again, and he doesn't want to accidentally make things awkward or weird. “You're one to talk,” he settles on, his eyes making an obvious path down Zayn's body and then back up.

Zayn reaches over to hold Niall's hand, pulling it around himself and resting it on his own hip. “You're got amazing fingers, y'know?”

“Nice of you t'say.” Okay, Niall can go along with this. Some people want to just leave once they get off and Niall can understand that, too, but he likes a chat. It makes it all feel a little less sordid. “I think everyone's probably got amazing fingers when they're giving you a handie.”

Zayn leans over to kiss Niall again. “You'd be surprised,” he mumbles, smiling.

Oh, more kissing, and Niall does enjoy a good kiss every now and again. Mostly every now, followed by every again. And Zayn's quite good at it, teasing nips of teeth with his fingers tipping Niall's jaw up. Niall rubs his thumb in small circles on Zayn's hip, up over the jut of his hip bone where he vaguely remembers there being a tattoo.

“I've never really done anything like this before,” Zayn admits with a shrug once they've pulled apart again. “Like... Like I have, but I've never not known what to do after?”

It startles a laugh out of Niall. “Yeah, me either. Like I've done this, but I've never done... this.” He shakes his head with frustration at himself. “I don't know the procedure.”

“I, uh. I like it here? I mean, I feel like we're probably meant to go back to the party, or something, but I kind of enjoy just this.” Zayn sighs. He looks frustrated with himself but Niall’s in full agreement.

“I only know like three people here,” admits Niall. “And I only came to get free beer. And I don’t think anybody else at this party's given me a blowjob, so at this point, you're my favorite.”

Zayn let's one of those smiles from earlier show again, and Niall can't help smiling back. “Mm, good, 'cause I don't feel like getting redressed right now.”

“Good, that's really good.” Niall's hand makes its way down over Zayn's hip again, then back up to the small of his back. “I don't feel like you getting redressed right now is the best plan.”

Zayn bites his lip against another grin, slotting one of his legs between Niall's. “Couldn't agree more.”

“How many of these do you have?” asks Niall curiously, unable to hold back the question anymore. He taps his thumb against the heart on Zayn's hip, to clarify.

“Honestly?” Zayn raises a brow. “I lost count around the seventeenth one.”

“Can I count them?” That sounds like fun to Niall, even if there's no way he's getting it up again with how much he's had to drink.

“D’you want to?” Zayn sends him another smile, and Niall feels warm all over.

“Yeah.” Niall nudges his nose underneath Zayn's chin to kiss him there even though he doesn't have tattoos on his neck. At least not any that Niall can see.

Zayn watches him, watches as Niall starts counting at the ones on his collarbones and he closes his eyes. A moment later, his fingers card through Niall's hair. “Have you got any?”

“Nah.” Niall presses his lips against one of the ones on Zayn's shoulder. “Don't think I could handle the pain.”

Zayn hums again and Niall can feel it against his own chest. He smiles. “S'not that bad.”

“I can't handle it when I stub my toe,” Niall informs him, already on six tattoos and he hasn't even made it to Zayn's other arm.

“Well, who'd get a tattoo there?” Zayn quirks an eyebrow, mouth turning up at the sides.

“I'm not putting it past you, t'be honest.” Niall traces a finger over the lettering on Zayn's collarbone, looping with the curves of it. “Seems like you've got one everywhere else.”

Yeah, I'll be running out of room soon enough.” Zayn sticks his tongue out, squeezing at the back of Niall's neck.

It's too good an opportunity to waste, so Niall leans up to lick Zayn's tongue once before returning to his tattoos. “I'm on twelve,” he comments absently, moving down the bed to count the ones on Zayn's stomach and hips.

“S'pose it'll be nice to know exactly how many I have.” Zayn says in a murmur.

Niall would say something to agree but he's busy tracing his tongue around the edge of the heart. He likes this one best so far, he thinks. It's really simple but it's in an amazing place for touching or kissing or licking. He kind of wants to bite it, so he does.

Zayn gasps quietly, grinning afterwards. “Oh, I like you.”

Niall presses his smile against Zayn's skin, leaving another kiss there before he moves down again. There aren't that many on Zayn's thighs, only three that Niall can see, but he kisses all of them anyway. He likes Zayn and he really likes Zayn's thighs.

Zayn licks his lips, tucking his fingers into Niall's hair again, tugging gently. “Hey, c'mere?”

And of course Niall comes there, because when gorgeous people tell him to do things, he's far more likely to do them. He pushes himself up between Zayn's legs to carefully rest on top of him.

Zayn gives him a small smile, connecting their lips again, sucking Niall's lower lip between his own.

Oh, and kissing is much better like this, when Niall can feel Zayn beneath him and he can test his earlier idea by gently pinning one of Zayn's hands to the bed. Zayn doesn't fight him at all, just cranes up more into the kiss, and Niall sighs happily.

Zayn breaks it off into a few more short kisses, and Niall keeps his fingers around Zayn's wrists.

They're very delicate wrists and Niall worries even with how gently he's holding them that it hurts. He can feel every bone, when they shift under Zayn's skin. Hell, he's attracted to somebody's wrists. This is probably rock-bottom.

“I really like doing that.” Zayn kisses him again just once. “S'been a while, I guess.”

“Same.” It actually hasn't been too terribly long, but long enough that Niall's really glad this happened so he didn't have to convince one of his friends to give him a pity snog.

Zayn cups Niall's face, fingers touching lightly at Niall's ears. “You're really cute.”

Niall can't think of a way to say 'You're the most attractive person I think I've ever seen' without sounding like a knob, so he just turns his head to kiss one of Zayn's slender wrists.

“We probably should get back, though,” says Niall reluctantly, ducking in to kiss Zayn again. “I don't want Harry to come looking and find this.”

Zayn bites his lip, nodding. “Yeah... Yeah, you're probably right.”

“I don't want to move, though.” Niall sighs and leans his weight onto one arm so he can touch Zayn's face. “I like it here. It's too loud downstairs.”

“We could chill in the back garden?” Zayn suggests. “Might get cold, though.”

“Guess you'll just have to keep me warm,” Niall replies, giving Zayn a grin. God, he's missed flirting and knowing it hasn't got to mean anything.

Zayn smirks, running a hand down Niall's back. “Guess so.”

They both manage to get dressed fairly quickly, which is good because outside the door it sounds like the party's started moving upstairs so it's only a matter of time before other drunk people start banging on the door in one way or another.

“You want another beer?” Zayn asks, opening the door for them.

“I always want another beer,” replies Niall, running a hand through his hair. It's sticking up everywhere but that's alright. He's pretty sure, looking around, that nobody here is sober enough to notice.

“Corona, okay?” Zayn grins, sliding an arm around Niall's shoulders as they walk back downstairs.

“As long as it's cold. Warm Corona tastes like piss. Good piss, but even good piss is still piss, you know?” Niall stops talking. Really, he doesn't know why he started in the first place. Pisstalk is not the way to get someone to suck your dick again. Unless they're into that, but Zayn doesn't strike him as the type, if there can be a type of person to be into that.

“I know exactly what you mean, actually.” Zayn nods, pulling Niall along to the kitchen.

“Well, you're doing better than me, then.” Niall laughs, and doesn't think about how Zayn still has a grip on his wrist. It's not like they're holding hands or anything like that, but it's still. Nice. It's still nice. And really, Niall probably needs the help to stay upright, anyway.

Zayn passes Niall a drink, already open before taking a sip of his own. “Wanna move outside, then? It smells a bit like vomit in here.”

“Not my favorite smell in the world.” Niall grins at him. “Yeah, sure. Fresh air'll be nice.” Part of him also thinks the cold that comes with night might help brace him a little, maybe make him able to look away from Zayn's face for a minute or two.

Zayn slides his hand down a little, and. Now. Now they are holding hands. Well, sort of. Zayn's fingers are definitely touching Niall's palm and. Okay.

They maneuver through the crowd, Niall pushing a few people out of the way, and suddenly they're outside. The brisk air hits Niall like a slap to the face and without thinking about it, he shifts even closer to Zayn.

“You weren't joking, were you?” asks Zayn quietly, his arm moving to curl around Niall's waist. It means they're not almost-holding-hands any more, but in some ways Niall thinks this might be better. It is actually making him warmer, if only because of the blood rushing to his face.

“About having a cuddle to keep warm?” Niall smiles, willing himself not to look up at Zayn's face again. “Definitely not.”

“Well, I don't have any complaints.” Zayn rubs Niall's hip, and his lips press lightly below Niall's ear. He doesn't move away even when they sit on a ledge and it becomes much harder to maintain the position.

Niall rests his free hand on Zayn's thigh, steadying himself while he takes another sip of his drink.

“I'm glad we talked,” says Zayn, and it seems a bit out of nowhere. “I really thought I was the only one who didn't have everything figured out. Everyone else is just excited.”

Niall nods, tipping his face back up to look Zayn in the eye. “Yeah, me too. I, uh, I really didn't even want to come to this party. I'm...” Niall shakes his head, laughing softly. “I'm glad I did, though. Really glad.”

“Harry had to make me,” Zayn confesses. “I like a good party and I love free alcohol but not when I know they're all someone else's friends and they're all going to be talking about shit that makes me twitch, y'know?”

“I only came for Harry, too.” Niall nods, rolling his eyes. “He fucked off with Louis upstairs almost as soon as I got here, though.”

Zayn snorts, which makes Niall think that he's not the only one this always happens to. “Can't tell you how much I love it when I'm trying to have a conversation with one of them and they're attached by the face to the other one. It's really helpful, for talking.”

“Seriously.” Niall grins. “So, you know Lou, too? Really, how have we never met?”

“I don't know if it's possible to know Harry without knowing Lou,” Zayn muses, licking condensation from the side of his beer bottle in what Niall thinks must be a deliberate move. It must be.

“Point,” Niall says, shivering a little as the wind blows again.

Zayn wraps his lips around the top of the bottle to take a drink, and this time Niall knows it's on purpose. There's no way it's not.

Niall licks his lips, leaning over to kiss Zayn again. It's like Zayn was fucking asking for it to happen, so Niall's not going to beat himself up about it too much.

It tastes like a laugh catches in Zayn's throat, and his lips twitch into a smile before he kisses Niall back, the arm around him moving so that he can twist fingers into the back of Niall's hair. He doesn't pull or yank, just tilts Niall's head to fix the angle.

Niall hums against Zayn's lips and mumbles as they part slowly. “Almost out of drink, d’you want another?”

“Don't need one,” Zayn murmurs, the tip of his tongue touching the corner of Niall's mouth. He leans against Niall more heavily to kiss him again and slip his hand up underneath Niall's shirt to rest his fingers on the slight curve of his belly.

Niall lets out a moan, fingers curling against the fabric of Zayn's shirt.

It's like he's noticing everything at once: the cold breeze and the slick weight of his empty bottle and the faded chatter from the house and the heat of Zayn's mouth and the way his fingers are digging lightly into Niall's skin like Niall is smoke that he's trying to capture in his hands.

Zayn keeps kissing him, pressing Niall against the side of Harry's house, tongue slicking in deep.

He has to move his hands to cup Zayn's jaw, his thumbs stroking over the stubble there. Niall wants to feel Zayn's stubble everywhere, on his thighs and stomach and neck. He wants to wake up tomorrow with beardburn everywhere, but at the same time he never wants to stop kissing Zayn.

“Fuck, I'm gonna miss doing that.” Zayn sighs harshly, resting his forehead against Niall's. “You're giving me your number, right?”

“I don't think I can remember it right now,” Niall laughs, and hopes he doesn't sound as loopy as he feels. He has an inkling that he does, though.

“Gimme your phone.” Zayn grins at him again. “I'll give you mine.”

Niall grumbles as he has to extricate himself from Zayn's limbs to shift his phone out of his pocket. His fingers fumble and he nearly drops it, then passes it to Zayn. “Knock yourself out, mate.”

Zayn flashes him another grin, adding himself as a contact quickly and pushing the phone back into Niall's pocket.

“Getting late,” Niall notes, giving Zayn another kiss. It's hard not to kiss him when his lips are so nice and so close. “Party's probably gonna end soon.”

Zayn pouts his perfect lips and Niall internally groans. “Didn't think I'd be dreading the end of this night when Harry convinced me to come.”

“He does have these parties like every day during the summer. Bound to see you again, if you came to another one...” Niall trails off, and he can't resist anymore, giving Zayn's plump lower lip a quick suck and then biting it.

“As long as no one snags you before I do.” Zayn gives him another quick peck, stroking over Niall's cheek again.

“Guess you'll just have to fight for my honor.” Niall laughs again because it's hard not to when he's drunk and being well kissed and he's warm all over.

“Just don't go after anyone bigger than me?”

Niall hums and leans in for one more kiss, fitting their lips together and giving Zayn's earlobe a little tug. He has an earring in that Niall hadn't noticed, shaped like a star, small and silver. It suits him. Niall would look awful with an earring but on Zayn it just looks artsy and edgy.

Zayn pulls Niall in close again, arms draping Niall's hips, hugging him in a tight squeeze.

“I'll talk to you again,” Niall promises, hugging Zayn back. He likes hugging people. He read somewhere once that hugs release endorphins or some shit that make people feel good, and that's certainly true for him. And he's already a pretty affectionate drunk. Not as affectionate as Harry, who's been known to kiss everyone who gets near him when he's had a few, but affectionate enough to return the hug longer than he might normally.

“Text me anytime,” Zayn whispers back, pinching Niall's ass with a smirk.

“Oh, I will. I'll make you regret saying that.” Niall reaches up automatically to tweak one of Zayn's nipples. It's a bad habit he's picked up from Louis.

“Promise?” Zayn seems to bite his lip against another smile, pushing lightly at Niall's shoulder.

“Cross my heart,” promises Niall, with a nudge back to Zayn. “Won't hope to die, though. Then I wouldn't get to see you again.”

Zayn lets out a laugh at that, giving Niall one last short kiss. “The music's off now.”

“And I'm out of beer.” Niall nods, shaking his empty bottle. “So my whole reason for being here's gone. Should probably say bye to Harry and be off.”

Zayn nods. “Yeah, probably right.”

Niall bites his lip. “I'll see you around, though? Maybe I've just found another reason to go to these things.”

“Sounds good.” Zayn removes his arms around Niall's waist, and Niall instantly feels colder.

“Guess that means I'll talk to you later.” Niall rubs his arms to help get rid of the sudden chill, standing and then hitching his trousers up a little. “It was nice to meet you, though.” He grins. “Really nice.”

“And you've got my number, so.” Zayn shows another small smile.

“So you can expect a text or six from me,” agrees Niall. He's not ordinarily great at keeping up with texting, but for Zayn he thinks he probably could.

“Okay, I'll uh, get out of your hair, then. Pretty sure Harry went back upstairs last I saw.”

“Should I brave it?” Niall muses aloud. Everyone knows that if you enter a room both Harry and Louis are occupying there's about a 75% risk that you'll end up seeing something you didn't really want to see. Niall's been friends with them both long enough that it's almost a certainty.

“I'm not bothering. I'll just text Harry tomorrow.” Zayn shrugs.

“Probably a good idea,” Niall says, coming to the same decision. He sees Harry almost every day, anyway, so it's not much of a hardship.

“Alright, guess I'll get outta here, then.” Zayn says, opening the door for Niall before exiting the house himself.

Niall offers him a sloppy salute before he starts down the street. He's glad that he lives close to Harry, and not for the first time. Whenever he goes to one of these parties he ends up plastered, and there's no way he'd be fit to drive (even if he could drive at all). It's just easier to walk the few streets it takes to get to his house, and occasionally lean on a tree or two.

He wonders if he will end up seeing Zayn again. He hopes so, but if they'd gone this long without meeting even with how many friends they've got in common... Maybe this was just a one off.

--

Another weekend, another party.

Harry really does have too many of these things. It trashes his house every time and it's not like he doesn't have the money to pay for it but Niall just can't imagine buying so much beer and not keeping it for yourself, if he's honest.

He's wandering around, of course, because that's all Niall ever does at these things. He drinks and he wanders around vaguely looking for someone he knows. Except this time, he's vaguely looking for someone in particular.

He hasn't texted Zayn, and he's not sure why. He doesn't know if he's looking for him to avoid him or to talk to him, but he does know that he's been keeping an eye out for the flash of a star earring or a tattoo to jump out at him from the crowd.

Niall's sipping on his second beer by the time he feels an oddly familiar grip on his hip. “You didn't text.”

The voice makes him shiver. Just his voice is enough to make Niall shiver. Part of that's got to be the unease in the pit of his stomach because of Zayn's words, but he knows part of it's just Zayn's voice.

“I didn't,” he agrees, biting his lip as Zayn's thumb tucks up underneath his t-shirt.

“And why not?” Zayn leans in close, and Niall thinks maybe Zayn is smelling his cologne.

“Lead a busy life, don't I?” Niall replies, turning his head to finally look at Zayn. Christ, it almost hurts to look at him head-on. He's so attractive Niall has to wonder if he's actually real or if he's just someone Niall made up. He hasn't mentioned him to Harry, yet. For all he knows, Zayn isn't real.

“Suppose you must, huh?” Zayn licks his lips, eyes already darting down to look at Niall's.

Niall really wants to fuck him. He's not surprised by it, or concerned, but it's a little bit overwhelming how he's suddenly seized by this want to be as naked with Zayn as it's possible to be. He wants to fuck him and be fucked by him, wants to get his mouth on him and his hands and find places he can later privately refer to as his favorites.

He can't just say all that, though. Instead, he says, “Yeah, really busy. Knew I'd be seeing you again, didn't I?”

“Did you?” Zayn's smirk is already making an appearance and Niall bites his lip. “Maybe I'll just stop showing up to these...”

“Would you really?” Niall asks. Zayn's not the only one who can play this game. He sidles a little closer, and his next words are murmured into Zayn's ear. “Wouldn't you miss me?”

“Missed you since the last one,” Zayn admits, just as softly.

“Maybe we should make up for lost time.” Alright, that's pretty blatant, but Niall's a pretty blatant person, and he's horny, and Zayn.

“Was worried I wouldn't find you again.” Zayn nods. “Think all the bedrooms might be occupied.”

“Who needs a bedroom?” reasons Niall. He's hooked up in many places that weren't bedrooms, and some of them weren't so great but some of them were amazing. “There's about a million loos in this house.”

“Maybe we should find one?” Zayn suggests.

“I think that's an amazing idea,” Niall agrees. This is good, this is fantastic. Niall likes that they could move right on to the fun bit rather than lingering on the you-didn't-text-me bit, which Niall's not a massive fan of.

“You probably know this house a little better than I do.” Zayn presses a kiss to the side of Niall's neck.

“Probably,” Niall confirms, tilting his head back a little. He's reluctant to move now, with Zayn's mouth so close to him. “Been coming here since I was a kid.” He sighs and grabs Zayn's hand to pull him along to find a bathroom.

“I've been a few times.” Zayn places a hand on Niall's hip, walking behind him.

“Found one!” announces Niall. He pushes the door the rest of the way open. It's one of his favorites, actually, because it's got the most comfortable bath for when he's had too much to even walk home. He does get drunk at Harry's house far too often, probably.

But that's not the thing to think about when he's got a pretty boy in front of him, and he can push said pretty boy against the door to kiss him.

Zayn's hands slip up the back of Niall's shirt quickly, fingers tracing along the lines of his back. Niall, for his part, melts under the movement, arching up closer.

He'd forgotten somehow that Zayn's such a fantastic kisser, in the past week. Zayn's so good at it that it makes Niall want to try it when he's not drunk to see how Zayn's mouth tastes when it doesn't taste like beer, if he's more or less confident about it, if his hands would take longer to start touching Niall.

Zayn's hands roam lower, squeezing at Niall's arse tightly. It makes Niall laugh, and he has to break away from Zayn's mouth to bury his face in his shoulder. There's good, too; he can tug Zayn's shirt away from his neck and bite one of his tattoos.

“You feel so good,” Zayn breathes out, licking his lips.

Niall hums in thanks, kissing his way up to Zayn's ear. His hair was styled ridiculously last time in a giant quiff but now it's down, flopping over his forehead. Behind his ear it's soft and smells faintly like hairspray.

Zayn shivers, pressing a hand against the back of Niall's neck, holding him where he is.

“You smell nice,” murmurs Niall, sucking Zayn's earlobe into his mouth. He's wearing a different earring this week, not a star but a small black round one and it clacks against Niall's front teeth.

“You smell a bit like beer, but that kind of just makes me want you more.” Zayn tugs at Niall's ear with his fingers.

“I smell like free beer, which is the best smell in the world.” Niall finally gets his hand beneath Zayn's shirt to rest on his stomach, just above the waist of his trousers.

“Want me to take it off?” Zayn tips their heads together again.

“I'm a bit cross it's still on.” Niall presses their lips together, pushing Zayn's shirt up until it bunches underneath his armpits.

Zayn lets out a laugh, lifting his arms. Niall huffs, a habit he's almost definitely picked up from Harry, and stands on his tip-toes to pull Zayn's shirt off the rest of the way.

He drops it behind him somewhere and slides his hands down Zayn's chest, feeling him out. He didn't get to do as much of this last time, just feeling, and Niall's always loved how skin feels under his hands. Zayn's is so smooth and only interrupted by the thick lines of his tattoos. Niall half expects them to feel different underneath his fingertips, rougher or raised, but they're not.

“Gonna do me this time?” Zayn's fingers card through Niall's hair. “You've got really soft lips.”

“Yeah.” It's a spur-of-the-moment decision, but it's easy enough to make. Niall likes Zayn, and Niall likes dicks. It all makes sense. He carefully lowers himself to his knees and kisses the skin below Zayn's navel as he undoes the button of his jeans. There's a line of hair leading into them and Niall noses at it before he pushes them down. Zayn's fingers move into his hair again, not pulling, just touching, stroking through it.

Niall takes Zayn in hand, giving him a few strokes to coax him to hardness. It's always easier to blow somebody when they're already hard. Niall's found that especially when he's drunk, it'll keep slipping out of his mouth when the other person's not ready to go, and that's never pleasant.

He kisses Zayn's hip while he moves his hand, shifting up on his knees to bite the heart tattoo. It's still his favorite, and he likes the little laugh that Zayn gives him at the slight sting of the bite.

“You really like tats on other people, don't you?” Zayn grins down at him.

“I like them on you.” Niall traces the heart with his tongue and then licks his lips. He likes them on Harry, as well, actually. Maybe Zayn has a point. “They look good.”

“They'd look good on you, too, on your skin. I just wanna spend hours marking it up.”

“Nah, I wouldn't suit tattoos.” Niall licks over the head of Zayn's cock. “And I wouldn't know what to get.”

Zayn bites his lip against a moan, his head tipping back against the door.

Niall tightens his grip to keep Zayn steady and licks his lips one more time before fitting his mouth down over it. Zayn tastes good, pre-come bursting across Niall's tongue bitter and salty and familiar, and he gives it a good slurping suck before he takes more into his mouth.

“Jesus, your mouth,” Zayn groans, hips pushing minutely forward.

It’s good to have a bit of encouragement when you're giving a drunken blowjob. Niall knows he can sometimes forget about teeth when he's inebriated enough and that's never fun for him or the person he's sucking off, because they jump and then he chokes.

He appreciates Zayn's thoughtfulness and gives him another good suck to tell him so, his hand curled around the base of Zayn's cock to keep him in place.

“Better than I expected you to be,” Zayn murmurs, reaching for Niall's face, touching his cheeks gently.

Niall's not sure exactly what that's supposed to mean, but he'll take it as a compliment. He's sure that 'you don't look like you'd give good head' isn't exactly what Zayn means, anyway, and he has better things to think about.

Zayn's hips push forward a little again. It's harder to keep control of that when you're drunk, Niall gets that, and he pulls back a little to keep from gagging. He brings his hand up to meet his mouth, then back down, twisting it as he goes.

Zayn's panting gets harder, and he lets out another groan. “Fuck.”

He sounds really nice when he's turned on, Niall's noticed. His voice is amazing normally, low and perpetually slightly amused, but when he's like this it's so much better with this hint of a rasp and something strangely musical in it. Niall likes it, and wants to make it happen again, so he doubles his efforts, sliding his mouth down as far as it'll go and moving his other hand underneath to cup Zayn's balls and roll them in his palm.

“Fuck,” Zayn's voice cracks and his fingers tighten in Niall's hair. “Yes, babe.”

Niall has to pull off to breathe, and he kisses down the length of Zayn's dick, messy, tonguey kisses before he returns to sucking him down. It's a messy blowjob all 'round, but Niall doesn't think Zayn minds much.

“Gonna come so hard for you, Niall.” Zayn's shaking now, trying to hold his hips back.

He's moving enough that Niall has to push a hand against his hip to keep him pressed to the door, and he pulls back, keeping his lips wrapped around just the head to suck in a steady rhythm and flick his tongue underneath the tip of Zayn's cock.

When Zayn comes, it's with a shout of Niall's name, and a knocking at the door behind them.

Niall swallows quickly, swiping a wrist over his mouth and then hoarsely shouting, “Occupied!”

Zayn smiles down at Niall, motioning for him to move back up. “You're fucking perfect, aren't you?”

“Nice of you to say, but no.” Niall winces as his knees protest when he gets back to his feet. That's the thing he hates about giving head -- afterward, his knees feel like he's just run a marathon or something. That, and his mouth starts to taste foul if he can't get to a toothbrush fairly soon afterward. Other than that, though, it's aces, and he adjusts himself in his trousers before giving Zayn a kiss.

“How d'you want me to do you?” Zayn smiles again, tongue flicking out against Niall's cheek.

“However you want,” is Niall's immediate response. There's very little chance of Zayn doing anything to him that he'd find less than intensely enjoyable, and he's not likely to last long in this state at any rate.

“Could suck you again?”

“I'd like that.” Niall does love a person who gives good head and Zayn has a really really good mouth and hair that's lovely for getting a good grip on.

“Promise we'll do something else next time,” Zayn says before dropping to his knees.

Niall sucks his lower lip into his mouth, eyes already turning down to look at Zayn. Zayn shoots him back a smirk, licking out at the head of Niall's cock.

He was right, and Zayn's hair is nice to get a grip on. Niall doesn't pull too hard; when getting blown it's reasonable to treat others as you'd like to be treated, and Niall knows he wouldn't want somebody yanking his own head about when he's trying to concentrate through the already wobbly goggles of drink.

Zayn swallows him down again, much like he did the last time they were at one of these parties, and Niall moans.

His mouth is as good as it was last time, still so warm and wet and with just the right amount of suction to nearly make Niall fall over before he can adjust to it, and even then he has to get one hand on the cold porcelain of the sink with the other in Zayn's thick hair, fingers twisting in it to feel the softness of it.

Zayn's head bobs all the way down and then back up again. Niall can already feel how close he is, and he starts rutting his hips slowly forward.

He takes in a breath when Zayn pushes his hip to the door with a hand, his thumbnail digging into Niall's skin just enough that he knows it's a warning and stills apart from minute twitches that he can't help. He's panting, he realizes after a moment, loudly enough that he can hear it over the sound of his heartbeat pounding in his head and over the slick sounds of Zayn's mouth working his cock.

Zayn's suction gets somehow tighter and he hums, taking Niall in as deep as he can.

He makes that sort of raspy gagging sound that people sometimes make when they're taking dick and Niall's fingers tighten in Zayn's hair enough that he wonders if it hurts, but it's hard to care when he's coming so hard it nearly feels like he blacks out.

Zayn swallows again, because of course he does, and Niall wants to curl into a ball and cry kind of, because that was definitely the best orgasm he's ever had, and there is no way another is ever going to compare to it.

Then again, all orgasms kind of feel like that, especially when he's drunk. But that had to at least be top ten. Top five, even. Niall can't feel his feet.

When Zayn pulls off, it's with a soft pop and he grins up at Niall again.

What Niall says to Zayn is not... a word, in any language, much less English. what it is is deeply embarrassing. Probably. To someone who's been satisfied less recently and is filled with less alcohol.

Zayn's knees crack as he stands, but he's still got a smile on, fingers curling around the side of Niall's thigh. “You need to stop being so hot.”

“Doing my best.” Niall's voice is breathless, and it breaks once in the middle. “Guess I'll just have to try harder, won't I?”

“You better,” Zayn nods, kissing Niall again. “Or I might have to ravage you every time I see you.”

Niall laughs softly, licking into Zayn's mouth for a moment to taste himself on his tongue. “I wouldn't be bothered,” he admits. “Feel free to ravage me anytime. All the time. Just never stop ravaging.”

“Maybe come to mine sometime?” Zayn mumbles, kissing Niall's cheek. “Then I can ravage you properly.”

“Mm.” Niall tips his head up so that Zayn can kiss his neck, hoping it's not obvious that he just froze up a bit. He doesn't think it is, especially since Zayn's obviously not all that sober, either. “Yeah, maybe.”

“It'd be nice, y'know? Could lay you out and take my time. Make you feel really good.” Zayn tips his head back down, nosing beneath Niall's ear.

It's not like Niall doesn't think that'd be amazing. It's just -- that seems sort of like it's straying toward courtship or something and that's everything he doesn't want right now. This summer is supposed to be about hookups, and if Zayn wants it to be regular hookups, then Niall's alright with that (more than alright, because Zayn's hot and Niall's sort of shallow when it comes down to it) but going to his house seems... Serious, sort of. More like it'd be leading somewhere.

Zayn nips at Niall's earlobe. “I mean,” he backtracks. “Obviously, you don't have to feel obligated.”

And Niall doesn't want that; he doesn't want to make Zayn feel like he's not interested at all. “No, man, definitely,” he says, his hand sliding up Zayn's back. “That sounds amazing,” he continues, honestly, because it does.

Zayn licks his lips, giving another small grin. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” murmurs Niall, pushing his palm flat against the small of Zayn's back and pressing him closer, nudging their lips together again. “Yeah, I'd like that.” Going to someone's house can just be a matey thing. He goes to Harry's house all the time.

To be fair, the last two out of three times he's been in Harry's house he's also hooked up, but he's choosing to ignore that.

It's not like he was hooking up with Harry. Who says it has to be a serious thing? Niall can totally make out with one of his mates and have it not mean more than that.

And Zayn's awfully cute, grinning with his tongue caught between his teeth and his eyes shining. “Cool, yeah. Sometime.” He kisses Niall's jaw, and he's gorgeous, and really, it's practically an act of necessity that somebody's kissing him. Somebody should always be kissing Zayn, probably. He's too pretty to not be kissed.

Zayn grins against Niall's lips, reaching lower and fixing up Niall's trousers again, then his own. He lets his tongue wander back into Niall's mouth again after that, sighing.

He's a good kisser, as well, which blows Niall's mind almost every time and it shouldn't. Zayn looks like a good kisser as well. Niall doesn't even know what that means. All he knows is that he wants to be kissing Zayn because Zayn deserves to be kissed and Niall's fond of kissing, so he closes his eyes and leans into it.

There's another loud bang against the door they're leaning against, but they both ignore it, too busy tasting as much as they can of each other.

Niall kisses him until he can't taste anything in Zayn's mouth but him, tongue and spit and teeth. It's sloppy and fantastic, and Niall doesn't want to stop doing it ever even if he knows eventually he'll have to.

“Could do that forever, fuck,” Zayn laughs out, breathless.

“I think eventually Harry might want his loo back,” replies Niall with a laugh of his own. He's trying for casual but his voice wibbles a little. Zayn's very good at the kissing thing. “But fuck him, he's got four.”

Zayn laughs, tangling his fingers in the back of Niall's shirt. He sighs and slides his hand up Zayn's back to rest between his shoulder blades, where his skin is warm and smooth and slightly tacky with sweat. The room's boiling with the door and window closed, and Niall feels a bit like he might melt.

“You're so warm...” Zayn comments softly.

Niall snorts. “Everything's warm. I think I'm about to burst into flames, to be honest. Sweltering in here, and I think it's your fault.”

“Wanna get some fresh air, babe?” Zayn asks, fingers slipping under the back of Niall's shirt.

“Yeah, sounds good,” agrees Niall. “And maybe more beer. I always want more beer.”

Zayn slowly moves away from Niall. “Free beer.”

Niall lets his eyes flick down Zayn's torso with a grin. “Leave your shirt off an' I guarantee people will be throwing beer at you, love.”

“It's so warm in here I actually forgot I took it off.” Zayn laughs, grabbing it off of the floor.

“I definitely didn't,” Niall quips. He walks his fingers up Zayn's ribs, fingertips dipping into the valleys and flicking his nipple once he reaches it.

“Think I'll keep it off,” Zayn decides, biting his lip and swinging his shirt over his shoulder.

Niall definitely approves of that decision. Everyone else at the party will, too, because Zayn looks like a fucking model when he's not even trying, but Niall gets to touch Zayn and he thinks that makes him feel more powerful than just about anything in the world.

Zayn opens the door once Niall steps away from it, holding it for Niall to leave first.

“Thanks.” Niall sketches out a bow and then curls his arm around Zayn's waist. His shirt hasn't got sleeves and Zayn's still bare from the waist up so there's a lot of skin contact, which Niall's pleased by.

He leads them to the kitchen again, and lets Niall hand him a new drink. He presses a kiss to Niall's neck as a thank you.

“What do you do other than go to these things?” asks Niall curiously. He leans back against the counter because the kitchen's fairly empty. It's late in the evening and most people have passed out or gone home.

“Erm, just... in general?” Zayn tilts his head.

Yeah.” Niall shrugs. He can make a friend and hook up with them. It doesn't have to be a thing, and he feels weird not really knowing anything about Zayn when he does know what his dick tastes like.

“Well, I... I draw sometimes.” Zayn shrugs. “Play video games. Just normal stuff.”

“Get tattoos.” Niall smiles a little as he rubs his thumb over the hip-heart. “Buy hair wax.”

“I only buy it when I need it, wanker,” Zayn pokes at Niall's stomach. “What about you, blondie? Spend all of your time buying hair bleach?”

“I'm thinking about letting it grow out, actually.” Niall wrinkles his nose and runs his fingers through his own hair. It feels a bit dead around the ends which is to be expected. “Been doing it blond since I was about twelve. Might be time for a change.”

“Mm, what color are you naturally, then? Couldn't tell.”

“You can see my roots, probably. Haven't bleached it in a while.” Niall bows his head and brushes his fringe back to show Zayn the darker roots of his hair.

“Makes your eyes pop. Well, so does the blond. You've got really nice eyes.”

“Thanks.” Niall's eyes are one of the things he likes most about himself. It's good other people like them too. “You've got really nice everything, if you hadn't noticed.”

Zayn grins at that. “So d'you.”

Niall laughs under his breath. “Okay. But you're, like, you know when you look at someone and they're so blindingly attractive that you think you probably shouldn't be looking at them or your eyes will fall out? Like Cheryl Cole. You're Cheryl Cole.”

“My anatomy would beg to differ, I think.” Zayn looks down at his chest.

“Yeah, I can confirm that.” Niall licks his lips and his eyes flit down Zayn's body again. He can't help it; it's a fun body to look at. Zayn's quite little all over actually, slender wrists and a slim waist and legs that just barely fill out his skinny jeans.

Zayn ducks his head, connecting their lips again. “I really like you, Niall.”

Niall smiles, and tugs Zayn's bottom lip with his teeth. “I like you, too. Good to have a mate other than Hazza to talk to at these things.”

“Definitely.” Zayn bobs his head in agreement and leans closer to Niall. He’s between Niall’s legs now, bracketed there, and Niall playfully squeezes his thighs together to trap Zayn between them.

He desperately hopes Zayn doesn't have the wrong idea. He doesn't think so; it's not like there's a lot of romance in the average hookup with another boy, but he wants to make sure. He just wants a mate, and blowjobs, really, like anybody else in the world.

Zayn's fingers settle around Niall's wrist and he tugs. “Wanna go out back again?”

It'll probably be cooler outside and Niall's still a bit unpleasantly warm all over. He nods and twists his hand enough to tap the back of Zayn's hand with his knuckles. “Sounds like a plan. Long as I get to bring this.” He grins and tips his bottle toward Zayn.

“Like I'd try to take it from you.” Zayn snorts.

“You'd better not. I'm very protective of my beer. Free beer, especially. It's like my child.” Niall takes another long drink from his bottle. “My soulmate might be beer.”

“Mm, wouldn't be so sure about that.” Zayn sends him a wink, pulling Niall along out back.

Something about what Zayn’s just said makes Niall feel… weird. Not necessarily bad weird, more like he missed a step walking down a staircase. He’d think more about it, but he’s drunk and Zayn’s there, and Niall’s never been good at dwelling on these things. He’d rather dwell on the hot guy who wants to spend time with him. And this time, he’ll definitely be texting Zayn after tonight.

--

Niall still hasn't texted Zayn.

He's not really sure why he hasn't texted Zayn, he just... Hasn't. He's pulled his phone out enough, though, simply staring at the new contact in it, the last one on the list. He'll look at it, frown, tuck his phone away again.

The things is, Niall isn't really looking for a thing right now. Sure, Zayn is pretty, and fun, and smart, and cool, but Niall's not looking to settle down anytime soon. And he doesn't really know how to say “I really just want the sex thing, but without the feelings,” without coming off as a total knob.

Just, he doesn't want to get attached to somebody right before they're all leaving each other. It's going to be hard enough to be without people he isn't fucking, like Harry and Lou and Liam.

Still, he can't stop himself from wanting to text Zayn. Wanting to see him again. Wanting to kiss him again. He knows he's being ridiculous, but he doesn't really know how to stop it, so he just doesn't. He tries (and fails) to forget about the new number in his phone.

He's trying to distract himself by hanging out with Harry, but now he's kind of regretting it, because he's pulled his phone out once again, and he can hear Harry sigh. The game on the TV pauses, and Niall gives a little wince, preparing himself for what's about to come.

“I’m starting to think it’s me,” Harry complains. It’s Harry, so even his complaining is sort of cute, but it’s definitely got that hint of a whine that comes with complaining. “Is it me? Are you trying to tell me something? You’re so sick of me that you’re cheating on me with a phone?” He flops back beside Niall with a heavy sigh and a dramatic batting of his eyelashes. “You wound me, you know.”

Niall pushes his phone back into his pocket. “Only wound?”

Yes.” Harry snaps back to smiling in an instant, all teeth and dimples. “You'd have to try to replace me with an actual person to more than wound me. When it's a phone it's just sort of pathetic.”

Niall huffs, shaking his head. “You're an idiot.”

“Not the one staring longingly at my mobile.” Harry turns over onto his stomach with a slow flail that makes him look a bit like a toppled tortoise. “What's that about, then?”

“Nothing,” responds Niall, wincing as it comes out rushed.

“Quick,” Harry notes. “Not at all like you're hiding something.”

“I'm not.” Niall scowls. “It's nothing.”

Harry just looks at him thoughtfully for a moment. “You don't hide anything from me,” he says, slow in his mouth like almost everything is. “So why this?”

Niall frowns at him. “Seriously, Harry?”

“When am I ever anything but serious?” asks Harry, wriggling on his stomach like a worm until he can set his chin on Niall's thigh. “Of course seriously.”

“It's really not important...”

“If it wasn't important, you wouldn't have got all defensive about it just now,” Harry reasons. “If you really don't want to tell me, you don't have to. It's just weird you're keeping something from me, I guess.”

Niall sighs, frown still on. “I kind of... There's this guy... I keep, um. I keep seeing him at your parties.”

“Oh!” Harry looks a little surprised at that, like it's not what he was expecting. “Alright, go on? Is he hot? Of course he's hot. Everyone who comes to one of my parties is hot.”

“He's... He's extremely good looking. Like, I don't even know how you're friends with him.”

“Oh, yeah, Zayn.” Harry nods, and sits back up straight next to Niall.

Niall's eyes go a bit wide at that. “Uh... Yeah.”

“Isn't he just the most beautiful person you've ever laid eyes on, though?” Harry sighs dreamily and leans his head onto Niall's shoulder. “He's like a work of art. He should be in a museum somewhere.”

“He invited me over to his.” Niall licks his lips.

“I didn't think Zayn ever actually talked to anyone at my parties,” muses Harry. “I thought he just stood attractively near the beer and made people wish they could touch him.”

“Oh, I've touched him, alright.” Niall closes his eyes tight.

Harry practically cheers. In fact he does clap, a little bit. “Good! Someone should get to. Didn't catch fire or explode or anything, did you? I started thinking maybe he was a god.”

“I mean, he does kinda make you feel warm all over, but... That was probably also do to the orgasm that came along with it.”

“Probably.” Harry's grinning again, sprawled across Niall's side. “Did you have to perform a ritual first? Did he make you beg? Actually, that sounds like a dream I had once...” He clears his throat. “Never mind. So, why the phone, then?”

“He gave me his number, but I haven't texted him.” Niall shrugs, trying to play at nonchalant.

“Why not? I know he's a little hard to understand sometimes but isn't everyone, when they text?” Harry frowns. “Or are you like, avoiding him now? Don't tell me he was really bad at it because it'll ruin all my sexy thoughts.”

“No, it was fucking amazing. Just... You know I'm not looking for more than hooking up.”

“Is he, then?” asks Harry, shuffling back and giving Niall a questioning look. “Looking for more than that?”

“I mean, I don't know for sure, but...” Niall shrugs again, avoiding Harry's eyes.

“He's probably not.” Harry's mouth quirks thoughtfully. “I don't think anyone's looking for anything meaningful at one of my parties. Not exactly the most romantic of places, my back garden.”

“That's what I was thinking, yeah.” Niall shifts uncomfortably. “I just don't want him to get the wrong idea.”

“Well then don't,” advises Harry. “Just keep doing what you're doing, but for god's sake, text him or don't text him. The indecision's going to drive you madder than you already were.”

“Just don't want to seem too eager, y'know?”

Harry laughs. “You really think it's possible to be too eager with someone who looks like Zayn? Too eager would've been you texting him before you had his number.”

Niall glares at him, but there's no heat behind it. “You've been to his before, yeah? It can just be a mate-y thing, yeah?”

“Zayn's very good at just-matey things. Promise.” Harry gives him another grin. “You don't have anything to worry about.”

Niall nods, biting his lip. He pulls his phone out again, shooing Harry away when he leans over to see.

It's only been a week this time. Maybe Zayn's still going to be waiting for him?

'hey this is niall'

Niall stares at the text, frowning. “Fuck, I don't even know what to say.”

“'Hey, your dick tastes great, let's bang some more'?” Harry suggests, shrugging. “Just talk to him like you talk to me.”

Niall rolls his eyes. “My relationship with you is nothing like what I want it to be with him.” He does erase the text, though, starting over.

'hey! this is niall from the party :)'

Harry presses send before Niall has a chance to say anything else, and Niall hits him in the arm. “Twat.”

“Yes, well, you were being mean.” Harry sulks, swatting at Niall's arm in return. “You could at least pretend you'd fuck me, you know. I've got feelings and they're very hurt.”

“You've got someone to fuck you,” Niall points out.

“I've got loads of people to fuck me if I want,” boasts Harry. “Probably millions. At least one million, got to be. The point is that I am your mate and you want him to be your mate so talk to him like he's me.”

“What if he doesn't text back?” Niall pouts a little.

Harry rolls his eyes. “What else has he got to do besides text you? It's summer. It's not like he'll be doing homework.”

Niall sighs again, bobbing his head. “I feel like a dick.”

“Well, you are a dick,” reasons Harry. “But that doesn't mean you can't get laid.”

As he says it, Niall's phone buzzes in his hand with a message. He opens it with a bit of trepidation, and doesn't even bother to push Harry away when he moves to read over his shoulder.

'hi ! was thinkin u'd never text me :) x'

Niall groans, dropping his phone back into his lap. “He's thinks I'm a wanker.”

“You are a wanker.” Harry sounds very patient. “Just tell him that. 'Yes, I'm sorry I am a massive wanker, please let me suck you off again to apologize.'“

Niall shoves at Harry's shoulder. “Leave me alone, oh my god.”

'haha yeh sorry about that i'm a twat'

“Perfect,” Harry says with obvious approval. “Honesty's the best policy. That's what I always say.”

“I hate you.”

“Yeah, that's what you always say.” Harry frowns, his brows drawing together. “You're lucky I know you adore me or I'd have a very negative opinion of myself because of you.”

“Like Louis wouldn't give you enough compliments to keep you content.” Niall snorts, petting through Harry's hair.

“Louis gives me other things. Like dick.” Harry butts his head against Niall's hand. “I suppose blowjobs could be compliments in and of themselves, but I like it when you tell me I'm pretty. It's different when the person saying it is Irish.”

“You know you're pretty, Harry.”

“It's still nice to hear,” Harry grumbles. Niall would respond, but his phone vibrates again and he nearly drops it rushing to check the message.

'that's ok :) probably busy rite?'

'haha um not really? just with harry' Niall responds, turning back to Harry. “You're gorgeous. Better?”

Harry does actually look satisfied. “Yes. Much. Thank you Nialler, you're gorgeous, too.”

Zayn responds more quickly this time, and Niall doesn't know whether to feel anxious because he must enjoy talking to Niall or pleased because he must enjoy talking to Niall. 'lol i was trying to give u an out 4 not txting me ;) x'

'didnt wanna lie' Niall admits. 'just didnt know what to say'

“God, you really are rubbish at this,” Harry mutters from next to him, chin settled on Niall's shoulder. “Ask him what he's wearing or something.”

“Thought I told you t'go away?” Niall mumbles, but he cuddles against Harry all the same.

“I knew what you really meant.” Harry rubs his face against Niall's. “It was code for 'I love you'.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Niall rolls his eyes again, but he's smiling.

'aha ok. did u think anymore abt comin to mine?' is Zayn's next text.

Niall look over at Harry, raising his brows.

“That's not even a real question, is it?” Harry gives him a severe look. “Say yes. Say you'd love to go to his house and have loads of sex.”

Niall bites his lip, but starts typing back.

'u sure?'

Zayn's reply comes about a second after Niall's sent it. 'wudn't ask if i wasnt sure'

Niall swallows. 'yeh. yeh okay. when?'

He tips his head back against Harry's shoulder, frowning up at him. “This is your fault.”

“Yeah, my fault you're going to have more fantastic orgasms from the best looking person I've ever seen in my life. I'm so sorry.” Harry rolls his eyes again.

“If you're so obsessed, why haven't you gone after him?”

“Who says I haven't?” Harry wriggles his eyebrows at Niall as the phone buzzes again.

'whenever ur free :) xx'

“When am I free?” Niall asks the air.

“When aren't you free?” Harry pinches Niall's waist. “You're only ever here.”

“I don't even know what to tell him. He's going to think I'm a dick and a loser.”

“For god's sake, Niall,” Harry huffs. “He's already hooked up with you. You don't need to worry about impressing him anymore. He's already impressed. Just be you.”

Niall pinches Harry's inner thigh. “I hate you,” he says again.

'im free all the time :/'

“You do not!” Harry squirms away and then returns as easily as a rebuffed kitten. “I'm giving you very sound advice, stop hitting me!”

“Stop being helpful!”

“Well then stop being violent!” Harry bites Niall's shoulder in direct contradiction of his statement. There's really nothing about Harry that's less than endearing, and it's frustrating. He wants to be able to be mad at Harry for more than three seconds, but it just won't happen.

“Don't bite.” Niall takes both of Harry's hands in his own, holding them in his lap.

“Bet you don't tell him that.” Harry grins at him. He's all sparkly. It's awful.

“He's not you.” Niall sticks his tongue out.

It's good that Niall's phone bursts with vibration then because Harry's got that look on his face that he gets right before he does something like put his hands in Niall's trousers or lick his neck.

'can u ask harry if hes having another party sat.? if not u shud come over'

“You having another thing on Saturday?” Niall turns to ask.

“Nope, taking a week off from cleaning all day Sunday.” Harry bounces on the bed. “So you can have all the sex you'd like.”

'looks like i'm free' Niall sends off.

Zayn sends him back another smiley face followed by his address.

“I could've told you what it was. I've been to his house loads of times,” Harry says, back to hanging off Niall's shoulder.

“I don't even know what to expect.” Niall tucks his face into the side of Harry's neck.

“Sexy shenanigans?” Harry offers, rubbing Niall's shoulders soothingly. “It'll be alright. Just fooling around, isn't it?”

“Yeah,” Niall buries his face further.

Harry sighs heavily and urges Niall backwards, then plops himself into Niall's lap. “There there,” he coos, giving Niall a hug. “It'll be alright. You get to kiss Zayn Malik. Nothing about your life is difficult, I promise.”

Have you hooked up with him?” Niall asks in a mumble, and he's not really sure which response he's dreading more.

Harry laughs in Niall's ear. “No. He's too good for me, and anyway, like you said. I've got someone to fuck me already.”

Niall shivers, wrapping his arms around Harry, hugging him again.

“Lucky you, though. I'll tell you, it wasn't for lack of trying. I pulled out all my best moves on Zayn and nothing. You'll have to tell me how you managed it.”

“We just... Bumped into each other. We both felt kind of—” Niall's not talking to Harry about this. About how he and Zayn both feel so lost. “—drunk,” Niall concludes.

“I've been drunk with Zayn before,” complains Harry. “Never got to suck his dick. I'm very jealous, and a bit in awe of your obvious sexual prowess. You could teach me so much, Niall Horan.”

Niall smiles to himself, kissing Harry's shoulder. “Have you met you? Idiot.”

“Casanova,” Harry counters, resting his head on Niall's shoulder in return and closing his eyes. Niall can tell because he can feel Harry's goddamn eyelashes flutter against his cheek.

“Can't believe I'm going to Zayn's house.”

“It's probably a bit more exciting when you know there are going to be orgasms when you get there,” Harry agrees.

“A bit.” Niall smirks.

“I'll just have to arrange orgasms of my own for Saturday, then.” Harry heaves a heavy sigh. “It's a hard life, mine.”

“Shouldn't be too much of a challenge.”

“I already have one lined up,” Harry admits sheepishly, smiling against Niall's neck. “Now shh. Napping.”

“You're such a fucking kitten.” Niall shakes his head, but doesn't try to dislodge Harry.

His only response is a loud and obviously fake snore, before Harry kind of slumps against him and goes to sleep. He does it often enough that Niall just sighs and pats his back. He's got other things to worry about anyway.

--

Niall is on his way over to Zayn's house and he can't stop thinking about it. He is on his way to Zayn's house. How did he get to this point again? Fucking Styles.

He's feeling really anxious, but also really relieved. At least now he doesn't have to avoid Zayn's questions about it. They've been texting since Niall sent the first one two days ago, and Niall's a little less terrified that Zayn's got some sort of bleeding heart over him already.

Not that he was too worried about that before. Niall still has a hard time believing someone as good looking as Zayn is even interested in him at all.

When the bus finally stops at the place closest to Zayn's house, Niall shoots him a quick text in warning. From there he just keeps walking down the sidewalk until he spots Zayn, coming down the path toward him with a vague smirk on his face, his hands shoved in his pockets.

“Hey, babe.” Zayn waves, pulling Niall into a half hug.

Pet names, really? He doesn't think pet names are allowed in casual sex relationships. Maybe they are. At least in this one, they might be. He doesn't know. “Hi,” he replies, sans pet name. He won't take a chance on it.

Zayn presses a kiss to his cheek. “How've you been?”

Maybe he's just always really physically affectionate. That makes sense; he'd mentioned he has loads of sisters. Maybe he got it from them. Niall's only got a brother and even then he's not too fond of him. His only experience with tactile friendship is from Harry and Louis. And now Zayn, he supposes.

“Alright,” he says, squeezing Zayn's shoulder and then pulling away. He can feel all of Zayn's bones. It makes him want to, bizarrely, protect him, or something. Keep him safe from the world.

“Come on.” Zayn's smiling now, and Niall has to remind himself how to breathe as Zayn takes his hand and leads them into the house. “Fam's not home, so no need to worry about someone walking in on us or anything.”

“Oh, good.” Niall grins inwardly, and eventually outwardly. It's not like Zayn won't know he's pleased anyway. Anything that means that maybe Niall can test how loud Zayn can moan is something he very much approves of.

Zayn brings Niall up to his room, locking the door behind them. “Hungry at all? I've got crisps and stuff.”

“I'm always hungry,” says Niall automatically. It's true, after all. “Maybe in a bit,” he amends, because he does like to have a bite after he gets off with someone. All the stimulation makes him hungry or something. Then again, standing around doing nothing makes him hungry, so that's not really a surprise.

Zayn nods, slipping his fingers through Niall's belt loops. “So... What should we do to pass the time?”

“I can think of a few things.” Niall grins, and he reaches up to flip the brim of his snapback around so that he can lean in and kiss Zayn without it getting in the way.

Zayn hums contentedly against Niall's lips, walking him backwards toward Zayn's bed.

It's easy enough for Niall to settle back on the mattress, stretching out and pulling Zayn between his legs to rest on top of him. He likes the weight of Zayn but even more he likes the not-weight of him, how light he feels resting on Niall like this.

Zayn breaks their kiss, moving lower to suck at Niall's throat. Niall moves his hands up the sides of Zayn's shirt, feeling goose flesh rise under his fingertips.

“We don't need these, do we?” asks Niall in a low voice, tugging at Zayn's shirt. Really, Zayn needs to be as shirtless as possible. All the time. If ever there's an opportunity for Niall to get Zayn shirtless, he makes a vow to take it.

Zayn grins down at him, pushing Niall's shirt up over his head before removing his own. “Can't wait to get you naked.” Zayn breathes out against Niall's collarbone, sucking a kiss from there.

“I can't, either,” Niall replies, pulling Zayn back down so that their chests are pressed together, skin against skin. He slides his hand down to Zayn's lower back to keep him there where he wants him.

Zayn wiggles between Niall's thighs, pressing their lower halves together. “You're so pale,” Zayn mumbles, nipping at Niall's neck. “Gonna mark you up. Make you think about me for days.”

What Niall doesn't say is what immediately pops into his head -- that he already thinks about Zayn for days without any marks at all. He's not going to say no, though, because if there was ever a good excuse to do it, it's having loads of hickies from him.

Zayn starts nipping at Niall's skin, his neck, his chest. He even manages to slide down the bed in order to suck and bite at Niall's hipbone.

That one tickles a little and Niall doesn't hold in his laugh. He just threads fingers into Zayn's hair and holds him there, biting his lip so that his giggles are muffled. His hat's fallen off and he doesn't even care.

Zayn tugs impatiently at the wait of Niall's jeans. “God, I just wanna get you out of these.”

“Take 'em off, then. I'm not stopping you.” Niall's head is swimming a little with how much he wants Zayn to take his trousers off, actually. He's not good at being patient even when he's not drunk.

It's the first time he's thought about how not-drunk they are right now. He doesn't want to focus on it because he knows he'll freak out if he does, but now he's thought it once it keeps popping up again.

Zayn doesn't waste time, unsnapping the button on Niall's jeans and pulling them off along with Niall's pants. Niall's cock springs out against his stomach, already half hard and throbbing. Zayn licks his lips, and Niall nearly moans at how hungry he looks.

“So fucking fit,” Zayn huffs out against Niall's thigh. “I really like sucking your cock, y'know?”

“Good, 'cause I'm pretty fond of you sucking it.” Niall licks his lips, grabbing his cap where it's been lying forgotten on the bed and plops it down onto Zayn's head. He thinks it'll be a laugh, but it looks startlingly good and he swallows. “Can you keep that on?”

Zayn bites his lip, flipping it around backward and nodding, licking at the head of Niall's dick.

It means he can't put his fingers in Zayn's hair but this is better, he thinks, to see Zayn in his hat; it's so weirdly hot and Niall has no idea why, but he won't question it. “Yeah,” he breathes, stroking his thumb over Zayn's cheek instead.

Zayn's got his lips sealed around the head of Niall's cock before he has the chance to say another word and Niall wriggles beneath him.

No matter how much Zayn likes sucking Niall's cock there's no way he likes it as much as Niall does, feeling the heat of Zayn's mouth on him. He's so amazing at it and Niall's glad he had the forethought to move the brim of the hat around so that Niall can have an unobstructed view of Zayn's lips wrapped around him plush and pink.

Zayn bobs his head low, swallowing tightly around the head of Niall's cock. He hums on his way back up, reaching a hand lower to roll Niall's balls together.

“Jesus,” gasps Niall, making an aborted movement toward Zayn's hair before remembering that he can't twist his fingers in it and instead fisting his hands in Zayn's bedsheets. He spreads his legs wider to give Zayn more room to work and bites his lip hard lest he blurt out something embarrassing or make a weird noise.

Zayn swallows him down all the way, and Niall's cockhead touches to the back of Zayn’s throat. When he hums this time, Niall feels it through his entire body and he lets out a deep groan. So much for not embarrassing himself.

Zayn pulls off after that, and Niall wants to cover his flushing face. Zayn starts talking again, though, so he doesn't. “God, I want to fuck you.”

“D'you wanna?” Niall finds himself offering without a second thought. He'd have still made the offer after thinking about it, but it probably shouldn't have been that automatic.

“Fuck yes.” Zayn nods eagerly. “Wanna hear what you sound like when I'm opening you up.”

“Do it, then.” Niall gives him a sideways smile, as close as he really gets to a smirk. His face doesn't do them very well. “Rock my world.”

“Mm, pass me the lube from that drawer there?” Zayn bats his eyelashes, smiling.

It's easy enough to lean over into the drawer and dig through it for the lube. There's not much else in it, and he's only distracted once when Zayn pinches his bum and he jumps.

“You've got a cute arse.” Zayn smirks again, pressing a gentle kiss to one of the cheeks.

“You've got a cute everything, pretty-boy,” Niall shoots back, crooking his knees as he scoots back on the bed to give Zayn a good angle.

Zayn eyes him hungrily again, stretching a finger to stroke up Niall’s thigh gently. “You gonna be nice and tight for me?”

Niall shivers a little. “Yep,” he says, trying for casual. His voice cracks a bit, so he doesn't think he manages it.

Zayn takes the lube slicking up his fingers and pressing one at Niall's hole again. “Next time I'm opening you up with my tongue,” he murmurs, pressing in slowly.

He's never done that, or had it done to him, or whatever. It's not like he's never -- he's just never -- he's never had the opportunity, he guesses, or the desire, but he's heard good things. Maybe Zayn is more experienced with this sort of thing than Niall is. All he's really done is drunken making out and one or two equally drunken fucks.

Niall lets out a rough gasp when Zayn's got his entire finger inside, and he clenches around it.

He hears Zayn release a gasp of his own, choked and quiet, and cut off like he doesn't want Niall to hear it. It's unbearably hot. Niall wants to make Zayn breathless in every way possible, wants to see what makes him gasp and categorize each one.

Zayn licks his lips, pulling his finger out again, just as slowly as he'd pressed it in. “You look so good, babe.”

Niall can't possibly look as good as Zayn does. He looks like a jungle cat or something, predatory and focused entirely on Niall. It's so intense that Niall can barely meet Zayn's gaze.

Zayn crooks his finger, pressing against Niall's inner walls. Niall lets out another moan, and Zayn sucks a kiss from Niall's inner thigh.

It makes Niall shiver, and spread his legs wider. “Y' -- y'can do another one, if y'wanna,” he murmurs.

Zayn simply slips another in, scissoring his finger and opening Niall up properly.

He's been fingered before, but it's usually quick and fumbly, perfunctory before he gets bummed over a sink or something. This is the first time it's happened on a bed and it's infinitely better because of it, a better angle and pace and person.

Zayn slips his fingers in again, moving his head up to nose against the base of Niall's cock. “Feel good?”

“Yeah,” Niall sighs, tipping his head back against the bed. “Yeah, yeah, really good. Just like that.”

Zayn smiles to himself, pressing soft kisses along Niall's length, still moving him fingers infuriatingly slow.

“Faster,” insists Niall, riding down against Zayn's fingers. “Harder, more, something.”

Zayn hums, pressing another finger in and pushing them as deep as they'll go before crooking them again.

Niall's toes curl and his hips jerk upward when Zayn finds his prostate with the tips of his fingers. It's like shocks to the nerve endings in his spine and he can't even make sentences anymore.

“Ready for me yet?”

Niall grins at him, and he can feel how rosy his cheeks are even though he can't see himself. “Yeah, yeah, please?”

Zayn smiles back at him, lifting himself up onto his knees and flopping down onto Niall in order to get a condom out of the door.

It makes Niall relax a little. He didn't want to have to ask Zayn to get a condom, because that's always a little awkward, but no way is he doing this unprotected, no matter how much he likes Zayn. For all he knows Zayn hooks up with everyone at Harry's parties and he's just good at hiding it.

Zayn smiles down at him, connecting their lips quickly before lifting himself up onto his knees again.

He almost asks for Zayn to go slowly, then shuts his mouth. Zayn seems the type to go slowly anyway and if he asks it'll just make him sound all girlish and unsure, and Niall doesn't want that at all.

Zayn slips the condom on once he's got it open and he covers himself with slick, putting on plenty just to be sure. “S'been a while, so don't give me grief if it takes a minute to adjust?” he asks quietly.

Niall just reaches up and squeezes Zayn's arm, rubbing his thumb over his bicep and relaxing against the bed with a small nod. He knows Zayn's going to be careful. Niall doesn't need to tell him to be.

Zayn nods down at him, resting a hand on the bed next to Niall's head, using the other to line himself up at Niall's entrance, taking a moment to just rub against him.

“Do it!” Niall finally bursts, grinding down against Zayn. “Fuck, just fucking do it!”

Zayn licks his lip, blinking at Niall, but he does shift his hips forward. He begins to sink in slowly, hand that was holding his cock now holding tightly to Niall's hip.

It's a tight fit, and it's not like Niall does this regularly, so it does hurt rather a lot for a moment. Niall doesn't tell Zayn to stop, of course. That'd be mad. Niall is a lot of things, but mad isn't one, and he knows it'll get a bit better if he can hold on until the good part.

When Zayn's completely seated he's breathing harshly and staring down into Niall's eyes. “Y'okay?”

“Shh shut up,” grunts Niall. Really, bit of a stretch to imagine he'll be able to talk just yet. He's still adjusting, faint stars behind his eyes from how hard he's got them closed.

Zayn reaches up to stroke him, and Niall can’t, just yet.

Shh,” he repeats insistently, smacking Zayn's hand away. He can't manage more than that, but he knows he can't do anything yet except for try to wriggle a bit and work through the pain. This part's never pleasant but it does seem to go a bit quicker when he's drunk.

Zayn settles for stroking over Niall's ribs, slowly, very slowly moving his hips a bit in order to help Niall adjust to him.

Finally, Niall lets out a deep breath and bobs his head a little. “Okay,” he mumbles. “Okay, y'can move.” He shifts his hips a little to make sure. There's still a bit of a burn but it's worth it for what he knows is coming.

Zayn is careful as he pulls out and presses back in, moving minutely in order to build up to slow shallow thrusts.

“Yeah,” Niall rumbles, rolling his hips into it. Much, much better now he's used to it, and he digs his heels into the small of Zayn's back to get him to go a bit faster.

Zayn groans loudly against the side of Niall's neck, hips thrusting in deep.

Niall arches off the bed with a moan loud enough that it swallows Zayn's, and if there was anybody in the house they'd have every idea what he and Zayn are doing up here. He's very glad that nobody's here.

“God, you're so much more vocal when you're sober,” Zayn pants, hips pushing in and out quicker now.

Niall doesn't know if it's that he's sober or that he's drunk on Zayn, because that's what it feels like, like he's moving slowly and his head's fuzzy, and even Zayn's outline is a bit blurred.

“Fuck, you feel so good,” Zayn grinds out, pressing a hand to Niall's lower back and arching him closer.

It's easy to press closer to Zayn, enough that on every other thrust their lower bellies push together and stick a little, sweat and heat and good.

Zayn buries his face against Niall's shoulder, hips moving faster as he bites down.

He's going to have a mark there, Niall knows he is, because he bruises so easily and that was a deliberate bite and his skin is so fair that there's no way it won't show up. And tomorrow while he's getting dressed, Niall knows he'll be able to look in the mirror and see it stark and purple in the shape of Zayn's teeth.

Zayn moans around his mouthful, hips stuttering when Niall starts rocking back against him. Niall's fingers scrape at Zayn's back, reaching for something to really hold onto, and it makes Zayn's spine curve underneath his fingers, the line of it long and lean. Everything about Zayn is long and lean, and eight kinds of pretty, and Niall thinks he could be satisfied just looking at Zayn for a long time. He doesn't mind that he's getting a great fuck out of it, of course, but looking at Zayn might be prize enough.

“So fucking hot,” Zayn breathes out against Niall's skin. “Wanna come inside you, Niall.”

Technically, he'll come inside the condom, but Niall wants it too, wants to see Zayn's face when he comes again. It's one of Niall's favorite things to watch.

“Do it,” he mumbles, tipping his head back against the bed. “Yeah, do it.”

“C'mon, gotta get you off first.” Zayn licks his lips, pushing a hand between them and wrapping a hand around Niall's cock.

Privately Niall thinks that Zayn's expression when he comes would be enough to push him over the edge but he's hardly going to protest. Zayn has soft palms and it's better than getting himself off because he has scratchy calluses that sting if he moves his hand the wrong way.

“Your cheeks are so pink...” Zayn smiles breathlessly down at Niall, moving his hand in time with his hips.

“Fuck,” Niall grunts when he comes between them, biting his lip hard. His hips jerk, and lose the rhythm with Zayn's hand, but Zayn doesn't stop moving it until Niall's sagged back against the bed.

It doesn't take Zayn long after that to finish, he moves closer, though, sealing his mouth over Niall's as his hips slow.

It's not a particularly good kiss, messy and their lips aren't quite lined up, but Niall doesn't want it to stop. He moans quietly against Zayn's mouth when he pulls out, and kisses his jaw when he leans over Niall to toss the condom.

Zayn flops down next to Niall and his fingers automatically seek out Niall's, tugging them over onto his stomach.

They lay there silently for a few minutes, both of them just catching their breaths, and in Niall's case trying not to freak out about the fact that Zayn just fucked him silly and now they're holding hands.

Maybe holding hands isn't the right phrase for it. Maybe their hands are just sort of. Touching. Touching hands. And that's not bad. Niall touches peoples' hands all the time. Hands touching hands. It’s just a Neil Diamond song.

When Zayn does finally open his mouth to speak it's to ask if Niall still wants some of his crisps, and Niall bobs his head because, maybe Harry was right. Maybe this can just be a mate-y thing.

Not that he'll ever tell Harry that. He's unbearable when he's smug.

When Zayn comes back to the bed, he pulls the covers over them and passes the bag to Niall.

Now they're in bed with the duvet pulled up and that's a bit -- but it doesn't have to be. Maybe Zayn gets cold easily. Maybe it's the easiest way to keep from getting crumbs in the bed. He doesn't know.

“Y'wanna play a game or something? I've got most consoles.”

“Sure.” Crisps and FIFA and he just had sex. Niall's living the dream life. “FIFA?”

“Of course.” Zayn shuffles out of bed to set the system up, and oh yeah, he's still naked.

Well, Niall can't worry about anything when Zayn's naked and he's naked at the same time. Especially when Zayn's naked and a bit sweaty and his hair's disheveled and there's a tattoo Niall's never noticed low on his back.

Niall takes a controller when Zayn hands it to him and he grins. “Don't think I'm letting you win just because you gave me an amazing orgasm.”

“Damn.” Zayn feigns a look of offense and plops back down beside Niall. “You figured out my plan. Guess I'll have to win some other way.”

“Your face might be enough of a distraction that I fuck up a few times.” Niall shrugs, sending Zayn a secretive sort of smile.

“Shouldn't tell me things like that. I'm not nice enough not to use them against you.” Zayn shuffles closer to Niall, enough that his bare thigh is pressed against his, and he gives him a slow smile.

Niall can't help smiling back, because when Zayn smiles it's almost like a prize. “Don't know if you could help it even you were. You'll just have to wear a balaclava while we play.”

“I don't have a balaclava. Never been skiing.” Zayn leans over to kiss Niall quickly, and when he pulls away Niall notices he's started the game.

“Prick.” Niall sticks his tongue out, elbowing Zayn in the side.

Zayn actually licks his tongue. There's nothing remotely sexy about it, other than how it's Zayn, so everything's a little bit sexy. But apart from that, Zayn just licks Niall's tongue, like that's a thing that people do to cheat during FIFA.

Niall humphs at Zayn, nipping at his lower lip and turning back to the game just in time to make a goal.

“Not fair!” Zayn protests. That's apparently his cue to actually focus on the game, which he's really good at, and that's the real unfair part, Niall thinks. He has to resort to pushing his cold toes against Zayn's at one point, and Zayn squawks before tackling him.

They're making out again before Niall even has a chance to drop his controller.

He doesn't know if this is a new tactic but it's not a very good one because neither of them are trying to score. Zayn's just pinning him down and kissing him, and to be honest, Niall's not really focused on the game anymore, either.

They're both still naked and Niall can feel Zayn’s dick against his own thigh. He's not hard, it's just there, and Niall thinks this probably says a lot about their relationship.

Non-relationship. It's not a relationship. It's just hooking up and eating and playing FIFA, and occasional naked wrestling. And that's not a relationship. Hell, for Niall, that's pretty much a typical Saturday. (It's not his fault that Harry spends more times naked than clothed.)

Zayn's got a hand curving around the back of Niall's neck now, and his tongue is delving deeper inside.

It's a really fucking good kiss, and Niall doesn't think anybody can blame him for falling into it, his eyes closing as Zayn trails kisses down his cheek and begins to suck lightly on his neck.

He doesn't suspect a thing until Zayn jerks away from him and whoops in victory, a goal scored on the screen.

Niall can't believe anyone could be so devious, and it's his turn to tackle Zayn. They roll around a bit until Zayn knocks the lamp off his bedside table and, grumbling, has to clean up the smashed bulb.

He's very cute when he's grumbling. Niall tells him so. The two fingers Zayn shoots at him are totally worth it.

--

Niall's not sure how Harry has as many parties as he does, in retrospect. He's rich, definitely, but all the booze and the music and food and shit, Niall has no idea how he gets everything figured out. He might be magical. Niall's always sort of wondered.

He's keeping an eye out for Zayn, who he's been texting on and off ever since the last Saturday. For some reason, it seems a lot more normal to look for him at a party. It's less nervewracking, at any rate.

It doesn't take long for Niall's to find Zayn, of course. He's in the kitchen, chatting with some blonde girl and Niall feels a momentary pang of jealousy. Or, well. Not jealousy. He's definitely not calling it that. But Zayn is standing really close to this girl and her fingers are wrapped around one of his wrists, and Niall kind of wants to run away from them before Zayn sees him.

That doesn't happen, and obviously right when Niall moves to flee Zayn turns and catches his eye. “Hey, Ni.” he waves the hand the girl was holding onto, and Niall lets out a shaky sigh.

“Ni?” He raises an eyebrow. Nobody's ever called him that before. He doesn't really have many nicknames. 'Nialler', he supposes, but Ni is a bit. Strange. He's not sure if he likes it. “It's not that long of a name, you know.”
“Yeah? People call me 'Z' all the time. Get used to it.” Zayn scrunches his face up at him.

“I'll just call you a twat, instead.” Niall leans closer to him. Just a little. It's not like he's trying to scare the girl off. It's just a loud party and he wants to make sure Zayn can hear his cutting insults. That's all.

“Hey,” Zayn turns back to the girl anyway, much to Niall's displeasure. “Y'mind if a step outside for a smoke?” he asks, putting on a soft smile, and Niall kind of wants to rip out her hair.

She seems to be utterly charmed, all curly hair and batting her eyelashes. Niall could bat his eyelashes, if it didn't make him look like an idiot. It makes her look like an idiot.

She nods, letting her fingers graze over Zayn's arm again. Zayn's not looking at her anymore, though. Now he's looking back at Niall with a smile even wider. “Gonna come join me, then?”

Fucking right Niall's going to join him. He's not vindictive or anything, but it's good to know Zayn likes him more than a random girl. Well, likes as a mate. “Love a bit of lung cancer in the evening,” he agrees.

Zayn's smile grows at that, and Niall feels like his insides might burst. Niall feels Zayn grab his wrist as he walks passed and he follows him outside.

The air outside is fresh and crisp, and the breeze is cool enough that Niall shivers in just a t-shirt and adjusts his cap to settle farther down over his ears. Zayn lights up a cigarette and, with it balanced in his mouth, offers the pack to Niall.

“Don't know if you do or not,” he mumbles around it.

“Not usually,” Niall shrugs, but he takes one out of the pack anyway. He's only ever done this a handful of times, but he's confident he won't embarrass himself by choking or something stupid like that.

Zayn gives him a little onceover, quick but lingering enough that Niall feels a little flushed down to his toes. “Here, let me give you a light.” He flicks his lighter open again and holds it up when Niall leans over, the cigarette already between his lips. Their eyes stay locked even as smoke blooms between them.

Niall takes a long drag, holding it in for a few seconds and then releasing it. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” murmurs Zayn, tucking his lighter back into his pocket. He breathes out smoke of his own, tipping his head back to blow it up into the air. It swirls up out of sight and Niall is captivated, by the way Zayn's tongue moistens his lip before he sets the cigarette back onto it, the way his eyelashes look when they brush the tops of his cheekbones, the long line of his neck.

Niall quiet for just a few moments longer. “Who was that, then?” Niall tips his head toward the house. It's not like it's any of his business or anything, but just. He feels like he needs to know.

“Hmm? Oh, her?” asks Zayn, taking another drag. “Dunno, really, just met her tonight. Don't even remember her name.” He frowns, obviously thinking. “Genevieve? Geneva? Jessica? Dunno.”

Niall nods, and his spirits feel a little raised. “She seemed... Interesting.” Interested, Niall corrects in his head.

“Not really.” Zayn shrugs. “She's alright; she was in one of my classes. I was looking for you, though.” He taps the ash off the end of his cigarette. “Started to think you weren't coming to this one.”

Niall snorts, preening. “Like I'd do that.”

“You'd miss me too much,” says Zayn, ducking his head a little. It's not enough to hide his smirk, but Niall thinks he's probably not trying to hide that anyway.

“You'd miss me too much, maybe.” Niall replies, but he knows Zayn's probably right. He doesn't come to these parties for just Harry and free beer anymore.

Not that he's going to tell Zayn that. He's smug enough already; he doesn't need Niall to help him along.

“Nice out,” Zayn notes after a moment, his hand shoved into his pocket. Niall has a fleeting thought that he'd like -- but -- no, the thought's gone now, and he doesn't even remember what it was going to be.

“Yeah,” Niall nods, blinking. “Not as cold as last time.”

“I hate it when it gets cold.” Zayn wrinkles his nose. “It's supposed to be summer. Not supposed to be cold in the summer, is it?”

“Seriously,” Niall bobs his head more vigorously. “I'm glad it's not tonight, though. Don't feel such a need to steal all of your body heat.” Wow, did he just say that?

Thankfully, Zayn doesn't seem to think it's too weird, just laughing softly. “Not much to steal, anyway. I'm cold all the time.”

“Whatever!” Niall scoffs. “You're always hot as hell. You're always warm when I'm around you, at least.”

Zayn grins sideways at him, rubbing the back of his own neck where Niall can see another tattoo peeking out from his collar. “Well, we're usually creating a bit of heat when you're around me.”

“That we are.” Niall sends a wink Zayn's way and moving a step closer.

He can't even really get any closer than he is without his elbow knocking into Zayn's, but that doesn't mean he can't try. It is a bit nippy out, after all. He's just trying to conserve body heat or whatever.

“Thought you didn't need my body heat?” Zayn raises an eyebrow, but he's smirking.

“I don't.” Niall tips his nose into the air a little. “You said you were cold all the time. I'm just helping you out. I can leave, you know.” He deliberately takes a few steps away, looking up at the moon like it's the most interesting thing he's ever seen.

Zayn takes the opportunity and steps next to Niall again. “Go for a walk with me?”

It doesn't take Niall long to decide. “Sure,” he agrees. Walking's good. It'll be good to get away from the pounding noise from the party at any rate. Niall's starting to get a headache from the combination of the noise and the smoke.

Zayn stubs out his cigarette on the bottom of his shoe, tugging Niall's arm a bit to get him to start walking as well.

Niall's only halfway through his. “Finished that fast,” he notes, grinding his out on the pavement and then tucking it into his pocket in case he wants to finish it later.

“I'm a bit of a regular.” Zayn shrugs a little, releasing Niall's arm and just walking next to him. Niall could've guessed that, from how practiced his motions were.

Harry's street is all well-kept lawns and trees, and it's always quiet like this at night. Niall's pretty sure the only other neighbors he has are little old women who are scandalized by Harry's parties but still think he's a very sweet boy.

“You still coming over on Thursday?” Zayn asks without looking over.

“I could.” Niall bites his lip a little. Zayn had offered, yesterday, asking if Niall maybe wanted to come over again and 'play more fifa..........if we get bored haha :) x' and it's very tempting. Obviously. Niall had told him he'd have to check and see if he had any plans but if he's honest, he never has any plans. He only ever hangs out with Harry and Louis and sometimes Liam, when he's not busy volunteering to get kittens out of trees or rescuing old ladies from burning buildings or whatever he does in his spare time.

“Avoiding the answer, okay.” Zayn bumps their elbows together. “It's fine.”

“You'll just have to convince me you want me to,” says Niall airily. He gives Zayn a tiny grin. He doesn't want to shove him away entirely, after all. He just doesn't want to make it too easy.

“I definitely want you to,” Zayn assures, looking over at Niall and giving him a shy grin.

“Don't know if I believe you.” Niall does believe him, and that's the main problem. “Try harder.”

Zayn looks over again. “I even bought you more crisps. The kind you said you like best, even.”

How quickly Niall breaks is a bit embarrassing if he lets himself think about it. But crisps and Zayn's face. He looks really vulnerable, and Niall's into it. “Well. Guess that settles it, then.”

Zayn's smile brightens and he moves to slip an arm around Niall's shoulders. “Thought that might get you.”

“I haven't known you long enough for you to know me this well.” Niall shoves his hands into his pockets so he won't be tempted to do something stupid, like put his own arm around Zayn's waist.

“Maybe you just haven't met someone who pays you the right amount of attention yet,” Zayn counters. “Besides. I like you.”

He doesn't say it like -- like it means anything other than what it's supposed to mean. He just says that he likes Niall. It should be a throwaway comment. It shouldn't mean anything at all. Niall tries really, really hard to not let it mean anything at all.

“Plus,” Zayn starts again once Niall doesn't respond. “My family will be out most of the afternoon again.”

“Well then it's practically law that I've got to come over, isn't it?” Niall reasons. “And I don't want to be arrested. I'll just have to accept your offer.”

Zayn's fingers graze through the back of Niall's hair, just the strands poking out of his snapback. “Good.”

His fingers are cool and Niall feels somehow overheated even though the night is chilly. He doesn't want to think about that too hard. Instead he leans his head back, purely to look up at the stars and not to get Zayn's hand on the back of his neck. Of course not.

“There are a lot out tonight.” Zayn comments quietly, moving his arm away from Niall's shoulders again.

Niall... doesn't want that. He wants Zayn to still be touching him. That's normal, that's fine. Zayn touches people well. Friendly-like. He steps back closer to Zayn and nudges his hip with the backs of his knuckles.

Instead of replacing his arm Zayn just twines their fingers, looking up at the sky.

Niall thinks this is what most people would call 'holding hands', but he calls it 'a panic attack waiting to happen'. They're holding hands. Zayn is holding his hand. It's not a dream because Niall can feel the wind and their palms are a little bit sweaty, and he knows that because his palm and Zayn's palm are touching.

“You're being really quiet tonight. Okay?” Zayn asks without taking his eyes off the sky. There's a plane going by and Niall's sure that's what Zayn is focusing on.

“Thinking too much,” mumbles Niall. That much is true, at least. He's thinking too much about Zayn's eyelashes, and his hair, and his eyes, and his mouth, and his thighs, and his everything.

“Mmm,” Zayn hums in response, finally turning to look at Niall's face again. Niall knows he looks flushed, if not from the warmth he can feel on his face, from the fact that Zayn's thumb is rubbing over the back of his hand now. “What's on your mind, babe?”

“Oh, not much, generally,” Niall says, as vaguely as anyone's ever said anything. “Mostly beer and sex.”

“Is that all you've got on your mind tonight?”

“All I've ever got on my mind.” That's a lie, and from Zayn's expression when Niall looks at him under the brim of his hat, Zayn knows it's a lie, too.

“Oh, yeah?” Zayn raises an eyebrow, contemplative.

“Yep.” Niall gives him a wink, and then pauses to lean against a street lamp. When he's smoked recently he gets winded more easily than he would, and it's less embarrassing to act like he's taking a casual rest than to ask if they could maybe sit down a minute.

Zayn stares over at him, tongue flicking out against his lips before he takes a step closer, hands resting at Niall's hips.

It's automatic, the way Niall's arms drape over Zayn's shoulders. He tells himself it's just the most comfortable way to stand. His arms are tired. Or something.

“I'm really glad we met, Niall,” Zayn says instead of leaning in the way Niall expects him to.

He can't decide if he's relieved, or... disappointed. He thinks relieved, but there's a bloom of something in the pit of his stomach that wants more than just words from Zayn. “So'm I,” he replies. He draws circles with his fingertips over where he remembers that tattoo being on Zayn's neck.

“I really like you,” Zayn says for the second time tonight, and this time he's staring straight back at Niall.

Shit. Niall has no idea what to say. He opens his mouth, unsure of what's going to come out. “I like you too,” he says quietly. His mouth's gone dry.

Zayn looks at him a few second longer then nods. “... Good.”

He looks satisfied, but still doesn’t look away, and Niall almost just leans in and kisses him. He wants to. He doesn’t think Zayn would protest. But he doesn’t. He just laughs a little, and looks down.

Zayn moves his hands again, then. “We should probably get back. We might make it in time for the clean-up.”

“Right, yeah.” Niall laughs. “We can stand around and watch Harry do his magic. I've always wanted to see how he gets it so clean.”

“He makes Louis help,” Zayn stage whispers. “But then they just end up cuddled on the floor surrounded in a mess.”

“That's how they always end up,” Niall groans. “I'd like to see them just. Not. Even for like a day. I bet they couldn't.”

“I know they couldn't.” Zayn smiles, beginning toward Harry's house again.

Niall sighs. That had felt like a bit of a moment, and he's not upset it's over, he's just... Upset. That it's over. He was enjoying spending time with just Zayn.

Zayn reaches back for Niall's hand again, just holding it out. “Coming, babe?”

He takes a moment to decide, that’s all. Sure, it’s holding hands, but… But Niall wants to. And he doesn’t like not doing things he wants to do. He reaches out to grasp Zayn’s hand, squeezing it lightly and then stepping up next to him.

Zayn gives him another slight smile, leaning close to Niall as they walk.

Niall's not cold at all, even a little bit, but he can pretend if he wants to. And he wants to. What he wants is to walk close enough to Zayn that he can feel the warmth coming off him and he can smell the smoke on Zayn's breath, and he can feel the heat off Zayn's hand where it's touching his. He wants all of that, and he can have it. It doesn't need to mean anything at all.

When they reach the house they can see people spilling out onto the street, shouting their goodbyes over their shoulders.

“Guess the party's over,” says Niall. It's a stupid thing to say because obviously the party is over, but he feels like he should say something at least. To fill the silence.

“Yeah,” Zayn leans against the fence in front of Harry's house. “Y'want me to walk you home?”

He does, but he doesn't. “Don't want to put you out,” he finally says, setting the ball firmly back in Zayn's court.

“S'not a problem, really. Not like I mind spending time with you.” Zayn bumps their hips together gently.

“Course you don't. I'm a joy to be around.” Niall shrugs. He wouldn't mind company on his walk. It's not too far, honestly, only a few streets, and it can get boring with only trees and the stars to drunkenly mumble to.

“Lead the way,” Zayn grins, keeping his hold on Niall's hand. If Zayn catches Harry smirking at them he doesn't say anything.

“It's not far,” Niall informs him, ducking past a couple who are holding hands -- which is so much different from what he and Zayn are doing. That's just. Conserving body heat. Or something. “Only a few streets off.”

“Now I'll know where to find you.” Zayn presses his elbow against Niall's.

“Only fair, isn't it? I know where you live n'all.” Niall's hand is starting to get a little sweaty, but that's fine. He likes being sweaty. “You'll get to see my lawn gnomes.” What did he think that would be a cool thing to say? Why did he say anything? Damn beer.

“Are they the fishing kind?” Zayn raises an eyebrow, amused.

“Nah, they've just got hats. And I think one's got a sheep.” Niall frowns. It's weird what you can't remember when you're trying to remember it. “Or a goat?”

“Your parents aren't going to think I'm some hoodlum bringing home after a night of binge drinking, right?”

Niall snorts. “My mum'll probably try to make you tea and give you a blanket. She dotes.”

“Sounds amazing, really.” Zayn smiles down at his feet. “I'd love to meet her.”

“Maybe you will.” Niall pulls out his phone to check the time and winces. “Not tonight, though. She'll be in bed. Later than I thought it was.”

Zayn leans over a bit to read off of Niall's phone. “Wow, is it really that late?”

“Guess so. Time flies, huh?” Niall shoves his phone back into his pocket, shrugging. “I didn't even notice.” That's a bit worrying, that so much time could've gone by and he didn't notice because he was distracted by Zayn.

“Was a good night, though. Barely had anything to drink so I won't have a terrible hangover tomorrow, either.”

“Good for you.” Niall laughs wryly, rubbing his forehead. “Don't think I'll be so lucky. Harry needs to get better beer, this shit's cheap.”

“I'll pick something up before Thursday.”

Niall laughs, biting his knuckles to make it stop. It's the weird cackly one he does sometimes and he already knows it's not attractive in the slightest. Makes him sound like that lady from the movie what wanted to kill all the puppies. Cruella DeVille. “Good,” he says. “I only drink the best if I'm being seduced.”

“Like I even need alcohol to seduce you.” Zayn rolls his eyes, smirking.

“Just for that, I'm not putting out.” Niall jumps over his hedge automatically. It's more fun than using the path. “See if you get the good shit then.”

“What if I let you fuck me this time?” Zayn suggests, leaning over the hedge to get his face closer to Niall's.

“Maybe I don't want to fuck you.” Niall rests his arms on the trimmed shrubbery, and then his chin in his hands. He bats his eyelashes at Zayn. “Maybe I just want to play FIFA.”

“Oh, is that right?” Zayn's smirk grows and he rests his chin on his fist.

“Yeah, that's right.” Oh, flirting. Niall's missed flirting with people who aren't, like, Harry. “I only like you for the gaming.”

“It has nothing at all to do with my amazing blowjob skills. Not at all.” Zayn's tongue licks out against his lower lip and Niall follows the movement with his eyes.

“Not in the slightest.” Niall subconsciously licks his own lips, eyes snapping back to Zayn's. “Barely noticed your mouth on my dick.”

“Guess I'll have to figure out a new way to make you fall for me, then.” Zayn moves onto his toes, biting his lip against a smile.

“Fall for you?” Niall raises his eyebrows. “You'll have to trip me.”

“That can be arranged.”

Niall grins at him. “Not from that side of the hedge it can't.” He reaches over to gently flick Zayn's arm. “Maybe if you get good beer.”

“Mmm, noted.” Zayn smiles, finally leaning in further.

Niall doesn't want to think of it as a kiss goodnight or anything like that, but it sort of is. It's certainly not leading anywhere and it's not like the kisses he sometimes gives Harry or Louis or Liam to say goodbye; it's not a friendly kiss. It's just a nice kiss, and it happens to be night, and they happen to be saying goodbye. No harm in that.

“I'll text you.” Zayn murmurs when the kiss ends. He trails his fingers over Niall's arm.

“Good.” Niall gives him a smile. “Maybe I'll answer it.”

“Good.” Zayn smiles again. “Night, I mean.”

“Yeah, good night.” Niall laughs, taking his hat off to ruffle his own hair, get a bit of a breeze. He's suddenly very warm even though the night's still cool. “I'll talk to you later.”

Zayn waves, finally stepping away from Niall's yard. “Bye.”

“Bye. Yup.” Niall lets out a breath and takes a step back. “Goodbye. See you Thursday?”

“I'll have good beer,” Zayn promises, grinning over his shoulder.

“Or you're not getting any.” Niall takes another step back and nearly trips over a gnome. Damn Zayn having a spectacular face Niall doesn't want to look away from.

“We'll see about that.” Zayn winks.

“Well, well, yes we will. We'll see.” Niall finally turns around and makes his way to the door. He can leave. Whatever. Zayn's face is just. Normal. And not. Whatever.

“Goodnight, Ni,” Zayn says again a little louder.

“My name's Niall,” Niall calls back, looking over his shoulder. Zayn still hasn't moved, and his face is lit up by the streetlamp, and his face is definitely, definitely whatever.

“You better get inside. Don't want you to freeze to death before you get a chance to fuck my brains out.” Zayn gives him a smile.

Niall shivers but it's not at all because he's cold. “If you're lucky,” he shoots back. It's weak at best. “I'll text you.”

“Good.” Zayn smiles again, but he's still not moving away.

His door's unlocked, which is good, because Niall doesn't think he has his key and he doesn't want to look away from Zayn's eyes long enough to find the one under the mat.

Zayn waits until Niall's door is almost completely closed before he starts moving away again.

Niall releases a sigh as he leans against his door to close it. Right. Casual hookups. No feelings involved, just sex. That's working out perfectly.

--

Before Thursday Niall finds himself once again at Harry's house. Not for a party this time, just hanging out. Louis's there too, and normally that'd make him feel a bit like a third wheel, but he's a bit distracted this time. Zayn's been texting him about this ridiculous story that happened last summer when two of his best friends tried to convince him to sneak into a strip club with them.

Niall's grinning down at his phone, when a pillow hit the side of his face.

“What're you smiling at, blondie?” Louis smirks over at Niall before turning and sharing a look with Harry.

“No,” Niall says flatly. He's got quite good at interpreting their little looks since he's known them and that one is far too conspiratory for his liking. “No, nope, leave me alone.”

What? You're the one smirking down at your phone like you just won the moon.”

“I don't think you can win the moon,” says Harry thoughtfully, frowning like he does when Louis says something particularly odd. Watching Harry try to figure Louis out is one of Niall's favorite pastimes. “Doesn't it belong to, like, the Earth?”

“Yes, love, of course it does.” Louis sounds infinitely patient and fond, and he pats Harry on the head. “It was just an expression. I just mean Niall looks very happy and I want to know why.”

“Ooh.” Harry's smirking now. “It's Zayn isn't it?”

“Hey, remember how sometimes you drop out in the middle of conversations because you're thinking about Louis's voice?” Niall asks, raising his eyebrows. “Because I do.”

Harry throws another pillow at Niall, shooting him a glare. “Remember how we said we were never going to talk about that in front of the person in question?”

Niall rolls his eyes and shoves the pillow under his head. “Like he couldn't figure that out on his own.” Louis looks smug, but not at all surprised, proving Niall's point.

“So.” Louis is looking smug, and not for just the one reason. “Zayn? Malik, Zayn?”

“Oh, d'you know him, too?” Niall asks. It's not even a question that needs asking; Louis knows all the people Harry knows. “Small world.”

“You're texting Zayn?” Louis raises an intrigued brow. “Zayn's the reason you're smiling like that?”

“He said something funny, I laugh when things are funny. Not a big deal.” Niall sighs. It's going to be made into a big deal. “Is he not usually funny or something?”

“He's not usually funny with you.”

“Yeah, he is.” Niall checks his texts and looks back up at Louis when he sees Zayn hasn't replied. “He's a riot, really. Knows how to tell a joke. You could probably take tips from him.”

“How long've you and Z been friends, then?”

“More than friends,” Harry points out helpfully and Niall chucks a pillow back at him.

“We've hooked up like twice,” he grumbles. Or four times, but like hell he's fucking telling them that. “He's got a really good dick.”

“Wait.” Louis's eyes are wide now. “You're fucking Zayn?”

Harry nods next to him. “He's fucking Zayn.”

“Hopeless romantic, falls-in-love-too-quick, Zayn?”

That gives Niall pause. “No, different Zayn. Gives great head, fantastic kisser Zayn,” he ventures.

“That is definitely the Zayn I'm talking about. So are you like...”

“They're not dating, no,” Harry answers before Louis can finish.

“We just hang out sometimes and fuck,” says Niall with a frown. “More importantly, how do you know he gives great head?” He's not jealous. He's not annoyed. So what if Zayn and Louis have done things. He doesn't care, no sir, not Niall.

“You're looking a little green there, Nialler.” Harry snickers. Niall throws the other pillow at him.

Louis shrugs. He's smiling and it's infuriating, because Louis is very good at making people angry without doing much work. “I know lots of things,” he says vaguely. “More importantly, how long have you and Zayn been in love?”

Niall sputters. That's not. He's not. “I'm not.”

“I'll bet you money he is. It's only a matter of time if he isn't.” Louis laughs. “Zayn doesn't really do things by halves. You're his everything or his nothing.”

Niall's phone buzzes in his hand and he nearly jumps out of his skin. Zayn is saying something along with a smiley face and a few 'x's, but Niall's eyesight is blurring and he can't really read it.

“His undying devotion?” Louis sighs and pretends to swoon. “When's the wedding, Nialler?”

“Shut up,” Niall mumbles.

“Just saying, we'd better be groomsmen, I won't settle for any of this invitation in the post crap.” Louis looks gleeful now, like he knows exactly which buttons of Niall's to push. “Actually, make me your best man.”

“Lou.” Niall looks away from his phone to set Louis with a sharp stare.

Louis doesn't stop grinning, but he does heave a sigh and then heave himself into Harry's lap instead of going on about it anymore.

Niall shakes his head as Harry's hands automatically move to cover Louis's arse. They're disgustingly in love. He's not in love with Zayn. He can't even imagine doing something like that with Zayn.

And Zayn is most certainly not in love with him. They've known each other for like a month and it's just a summer thing. Niall's talked more to Zayn's cock than to his face.

“Hope you know what you're doing, babe.” Louis sighs and Niall can see Harry kissing his neck now.

“Course I do.” Niall's... a little less certain of that than he was before Louis started talking, but he doesn't think -- it's still just -- just a fling. Nothing else. And Zayn hasn't given him any signs that he thinks it's anything else either.

Niall's phone buzzes with another message. This one says 'u still there?? :((', and Niall doesn't know how to respond.

He's still here, but if he responds right away does that make him look clingy? Is Zayn being clingy? Niall's not sure of anything anymore and it's all Louis's fault. Everything is Louis’s fault. His life would be so much easier if Niall wasn’t friends with Louis, but then he couldn’t be friends with Harry, either, and he also doesn’t know anybody as funny as Louis, so they’ve got to stay friends. Even if Louis makes him feel weird about stuff.

He sighs. Damn it.

--

Niall really likes Zayn, is the problem. And if this was any other time in his life, he really would want to do the whole solid relationship thing. But it's not any other time in his life. It's right now, when nothing is certain for any of them and they're all about to separate to go to different schools, and Niall doesn't want to get hurt. He doesn't want to hurt Zayn, either.

And with what Louis said, about how Zayn is with, with things like this, 'falls in love easily' is what he thinks Louis said, he's pretty sure he could end up hurting Zayn. And he doesn't want to hurt Zayn. He wants, well, pretty much the opposite of that.

To do the not hurting Zayn thing, though, he's got to distance himself a little, so when he gets to Zayn's house on Thursday, he doesn't go for a kiss or a hug, he just gives Zayn a matey pat on the shoulder and cheerfully says, “Where's my good beer?”

“In my room, c'mon.” Zayn smiles, waving a hand toward the staircase again. “I got the most expensive kind I could afford, so hopefully it's good.”

“Shouldn't've put yourself out,” Niall protests. “I didn't mean good beer that broke your bank, y'know, just beer that doesn't taste like cold piss.”

“It's fine,” Zayn shrugs. “You're worth it. Not like I've got much else to spend it on.”

Noooo, Niall wails in his head. Zayn's dreadfully sweet but Niall's not worth it, not when this isn't supposed to be a thing. Zayn shouldn't spend money on anything for Niall other than maybe condoms.

“I bought a new pack of condoms as well,” Zayn says once the door is closed behind them. When Niall looks over at him again he's got that familiar smirk on.

“Rather presumptuous of you.” Niall sits on Zayn's bed and leans back onto his elbows, giving him his best smoldering look. It's not very good, probably just looks like he's got an eye twitch, but Niall's attempts at sober seduction aren't the greatest on his best days.

Zayn hums, eyes trailing over Niall's form. “Are you wearing tighter trousers than usual?”

Niall frowns and looks down at himself, lifting a leg to stretch it. “Er, these were my only clean ones?”

“I like 'em.” Zayn grins, opening and bottle of the expensive beer and handing it over before opening one for himself.

It only takes a swallow for Niall to get how good the beer is. “Jesus,” he mutters. “Did you sell a sibling or two to get this?”

Zayn smile softens at Niall's praise and his eyes go a bit dreamy. Shit, has he been acting like this the whole time? Is Niall really this badly in over his head?

“Nah, not too much...” Zayn bites his lip. “Okay, sort of a lot.”

Niall groans, and it's only half because it's really fucking good beer. “Mate, you shouldn't have done that. I'm not that high maintenance, I swear.”

“I really want you to fuck me.” Zayn meets Niall's stare head on.

“Yeah?” Niall's mouth's gone dry and he takes another glug of expensive fancy beer to moisten it again. “Probably would've done that without the beer, if I'm honest.”

“Didn't want to take my chances, I guess.” Zayn takes a seat next to Niall on the bed.

“Yeah, well. I'm a catch.” Niall tips the bottle back and drains it, because he thinks he's going to need to be at least a little drunk to deal with the way Zayn's looking at him, sparkling eyes and half-a-smile.

“That you are, babe.” Zayn brushes his fingertips across Niall's arm.

They should fuck. Niall decides then that fucking's the best option right now. If they're fucking Zayn can't touch him gently or look at him like that and he can't buy Niall more expensive beer.

“Can't wait to get you naked.” Zayn licks his lips, taking a sip of his drink.

“Who's stopping you?” Niall asks, plunking his bottle down on the floor. “Not me. Do your worst.”

Zayn sets his bottle down next to Niall, coaxing Niall to lie flat on his back. “You looks so good like this,” Zayn rasps, pressing a hand against the bulge in Niall's jeans.

“You look so good all the time,” Niall replies, spreading his legs so that he can more easily grind up against Zayn's palm. “But you knew that.”

Zayn hums, rubbing at Niall slowly, moving his free hand beneath Niall's shirt.

“Don't need this on,” Niall mutters, reaching behind himself to grab his collar and yank his shirt off. Shirts, when Zayn's in the room, are stupid. The stupidest invention of all.

Zayn smiles at him, reaching down to tug his own shirt off as well. He leans over Niall then, connecting their lips and tilting his head. Niall automatically opens up to Zayn's mouth, not wanting to give him a chance to get to gentle.

Zayn's hands move over Niall's sides, making their way down to his trousers before unbuttoning them. He pulls the zip down as well, pressing his hand against Niall's cock, hard in his pants.

“You said I get to fuck you this time,” Niall whispers, his words catching wet against Zayn's red, red mouth. “Keeping your promise?”

“Like I'd let you get out of fucking me,” Zayn smirks, pressing a hand into Niall's pants and stroking him once.

“Never said I was trying t'get out of it.” Niall connects their lips again and presses up hard against Zayn, hard enough that he thinks Zayn will probably have bruises tomorrow, but he wants that. Maybe it'll make Zayn less gentle with him, in return.

Zayn grins, working on his own jeans now. He pulls his off and just like their first night together he's not wearing anything underneath. “C'mon, get naked, babe.”

The only reason Niall's not naked already is because he's lazy, first of all, and he half wants Zayn to take his clothes off for him. But if he's not, Niall can wriggle out of his jeans and pants and drop them off the side of the bed. He shouldn't feel comfortable being naked in Zayn's room. That probably says more than he wants it to.

“Jesus, c'mere.” Zayn opens his arms, sitting back on his heels.

Niall tells himself firmly, there's no way they're hugging. No hugging when you're trying to get someone not to fall in love with you. Instead, he sort of -- gently tackles Zayn, and bites his shoulder.

Zayn hums his approval, pressing a steadying hand at Niall's lower back. He waits for Niall to tip his head back up so he can connect their lips again.

Kissing's good. Loads of people kiss without feelings. It happens all the time. Niall steadies himself on Zayn's lap, his legs sliding apart so that he's basically straddling Zayn's hips. Straddling's good. Sex. Sex, sex, is very good.

Zayn licks into Niall's mouth, hands moving down and splaying over Niall's arse. He grinds his hips up and squeezes Niall’s arse hard enough that Niall thinks he might have bruises tomorrow.

It's good until Niall has a flash, a thought, a memory: Louis and Harry in this exact same position, earlier this week. This exact position, and they're, they're more in love than like anybody Niall's ever met.

Zayn breaks the kiss to press one to Niall's neck, sucking there a bit and then biting down. “Fuck, you're gorgeous.”

Niall makes a sort of strangled noise. He's still stuck on them being in this position. Surely this isn't only a position people in love have ever been in? He's sat in Louis' lap like this before, and he's not in love with Louis, or at least not any more in love with Louis than everyone else who's met him. So really, there's no reason he should be freaked out about it. No reason at all.

Zayn's hands slide over Niall's thighs and he smiles, kissing him again once.

“No,” says Niall flatly, squirming back off Zayn's lap. He can't do this. “I can't,” he says aloud. “I can't do this, I'm sorry, I can't.”

“Wait,” Zayn reaches out for Niall's hand. “Niall, wait. What's wrong?”

“Everything,” Niall blurts. He smacks at Zayn's hand, because he doesn't want Zayn to touch him. He might -- infect him with the love or something. Is that a thing that happens? Niall's not taking any chances. “I need to leave. I have to go.”

Niall, but, why? I don't-” Zayn cuts himself off, frowning. “What's wrong?”

Niall's already yanking his clothes back on. “I can't do this. I thought I could, Lou's full of shit all the time anyway and I really just wanted to get laid, and then you with your fancy beer and your face, and I can't.”

“I don't understand... Did I do something?” Zayn's eyes are so big and so sad and Niall can't look at him.

“Yes. No, just, just stop, I have to go, I can't do this.” Niall grabs his hat from the bed, but Zayn grabs his wrist before he can put it on.

“Hey, just, just calm down. We don't have to fuck if you don't want to.” Zayn's thumb is pressing into Niall's wrist and it hurts a little bit. “Just talk to me, come on, just tell me what's changed.”

“I can't be in love with you!” Niall says, pulling his wrist away from Zayn and leaving the room before he can do something stupid. Even more stupid than what he just did.

“What?” asks Zayn. He just looks bewildered, but Niall knows, he knows what'll happen if they keep on like this. It'll be just like Louis said, and Zayn will fall in love with him, and Niall's not strong enough to keep from falling in love with him back. And that would be fine. For the summer. But what happens when summer's over and they're both off to uni and they never see each other again?

Niall knows what happens then. He gets hurt and Zayn gets hurt. And he really doesn't want that. For either of them.

So Niall leaves. He leaves and he doesn't look back, and he definitely doesn't think about how much his chest is hurting.

--

Niall decides texting like they normally would just isn't an option. Besides, Zayn doesn't try contacting him either, so Niall figures the feelings must be mutual. He really didn't think this through the way he maybe should have, but then again, he wasn't expecting Zayn to do the things he did.

Niall wasn't expecting to feel like this, and he's angry at himself for letting Louis and Harry get into his head. He goes over to Harry's specifically to tell them so, but he mostly just ends up hitting Harry in the side and demanding a pizza.

Louis is giving Niall a sort of pointed and hesitant look (Is that even possible?), but Niall is trying to ignore it. Instead he kicks Harry's arse at FIFA three times and then goes back into the kitchen and brings back the whole tub of ice cream he finds.

Harry frowns at him, and Niall really doesn't want to talk about it, but apparently Harry does because then he's talking and Niall just shoves another spoonful into his mouth.

“What the fuck happened?”

“I came to your house and you haven't got enough ice cream, that's what happened,” Niall grumbles, digging his spoon back into the ice cream. It's chocolate, which is perfect to wash the taste of fancy beer and shame out of his mouth.

“No, no, no,” Harry wiggles his finger. “What happened with Zayn? I know you two were supposed to hang out last week. What happened?”

“Nothing.” Niall licks a drip of ice cream off his wrist. “Literally nothing. Can we go back to playing FIFA? I liked that more than this.”

“What, did you finally confess your undying love?” Louis smirks from his seat across the room. Why is Harry even sitting with Niall? He should be over making out with his boyfriend thing instead of bothering Niall about his not boyfriend thing.

Niall seriously considers throwing his ice cream at Louis, but then he wouldn't have any more ice cream for himself. He settles for glaring and shoving another spoonful in his mouth.

“There is no undying love,” he says around it. “And there never will be. Ever.”

“And why is that?” Harry might be glaring now, but he just looks like a really annoyed kitten.

“He bought me fancy beer and then tried to coerce me into falling in love with him.” Niall frowns right back at Harry. “So then I left.”

“You... You-”

Louis cuts off Harry's protests with his own, “What?”

Niall gestures threateningly with his spoon. “You're the one who made me nervous about it in the first place! And he kept looking at me all gooey and trying to woo me. So I had to leave.”

“Niall!” Harry is definitely glaring now. “I can't believe you.”

“I'm not fucking --” Niall cuts himself off to take a deep breath and eat some more ice cream. “I'm not getting involved in that. I told you, I told him, I just wanted to fool around.”

“Like, really expensive, fancy beer, and he said he spent like a million pounds on it and I don't need someone who's going to, like. Do things for me.” Niall sulks. “I don't want him to spend money on me. I just want him to fuck me. I didn't think he'd actually buy me fancy beer, I was joking.”

He bought you fancy beer.” Harry pouts. “I didn't even get fancy beer. Did he even say anything about it? Was he even acting like it was a romantic gesture?”

“I could tell by his eyes!” Niall waves his spoon at Harry. “They were all soft and adoring and I could just tell!”

Louis is staring at him, mouth open a bit like a fish and Niall's frown deepens. “It's not my fault he bought me expensive beer and then started touching me like I was made of glass!”

“You're made of idiot, that's what you're made of!” Louis exclaims. “Since when do you ever listen to anything I say?”

“He was definitely in love, Louis! Or like. Starting to be. I don't know, okay! I just don't need that right now.”

“You need a good solid smack round the head. Harry,” says Louis like a command. “Harry, give him a good solid smack round the head.”

Harry does as he' s told and Niall nearly shoves the spoon down his throat.

Now his head hurts, and he's miserable, and Louis is still looking at him like he's an idiot, which. Niall doesn't like. “Look,” he mutters, holding the tub of ice cream against his forehead as a makeshift ice pack. “I'm taking precautions. Can't fall in love with me if we're not speaking, can he?”

Why don't you want Zayn to fall in love with you, again? I want Zayn to fall in love with me,” Louis says pointedly.

“Heyyy.” Harry glowers at Louis, who pats him on the head.

“Now, love, don't pretend you wouldn't cry with joy if Zayn tried to woo you,” he says firmly. “You and I both know it'd be the best day of your life.”

Harry nods agreeable. “Actually. Yeah. What the hell, Niall?”

“Look, it's easy for you two. You know what you're doing.” Niall drops the spoon into the now empty container. “I don't know where I'm going after the summer. I don't want complications.”

“Have you even been fucking other people?” Louis asks.

“The only other people I talk to are you guys! And Liam, when he's not off at fireman camp or wherever he goes.” Niall rolls his eyes.

“Then why not enjoy you summer with Zayn?” Harry suggests, his tone more gentle than before.

“Because,” grumbles Niall. He can't see how this isn't obvious. “He's going to leave, at the end of the summer. And so am I.”

“... And?”

“And so it's just, it's easier if I'm not attached when that happens.” Niall sighs. He wishes there was more ice cream. “Because it'll hurt less, okay?”

“How do you know it won't work? Have you even talked to him about it at all?” Louis asks with raised eyebrows like he already knows the answer.

“Of course it won't work!” Niall exclaims. “Look, this is the last summer we'll be in this town. Everyone's leaving, and good on them, because it's shit here, but if I start something with someone here, how could it ever work?”

“Me and Hazza aren't going to the same school, you realize? Harry’s not even going to uni for another year.”

“Yeah, but you're like.” Niall waves his hand aimlessly. “It's different, with you. Because you'll always end up in the same place anyway.”

“And you guys won't? You live blocks away from each other. You don't think you'd meet up on holidays?” Louis looks very grumpy and it’s making his forehead wrinkle. Niall thinks about telling him that, but then Harry’s talking so he can’t.

“I just... I really wish you'd give Zayn a chance, Niall. I don't think I've ever seen you as happy as you've been since you started... Whatever it is you have with Zayn.”

“You do look a lot less miserable,” Louis agrees.

“Or you did,” says Harry, giving Niall a frowning onceover. “Now you look miserable again.”

“I'm not miserable, I'm practical,” Niall mumbles. Really, though, he is a bit miserable.

“I don't believe a word.” Harry shakes his head.

“Shut up.” Niall flops himself back on Harry's floor, staring at the ceiling. He doesn't want to be thinking, but he is now, and it's their fault.

Because, because he was happy, hanging out with Zayn. Even when they weren't hooking up, it was nice to play FIFA with him or drink or kiss or whatever. It was really nice. And even if they do go to different places at the end of the summer, which they will, it would be -- Niall thinks it would be nice to be that happy even if it's only for a limited time.

“Doesn't matter,” he says out loud. “Buggered it up, haven't I?”

“I'm having a party tomorrow,” Harry begins. Or, Niall thinks it’s a beginning, but that’s all Harry says.

“Since when?” Niall rolls his eyes.

“Since now. Zayn is going to be there.”

“How do you know if you didn't even know you were having it 'til two seconds ago?” Niall wrinkles his nose.

“I'll force him to come. He doesn't live that far away,” Harry dismisses. “Anyway. Fix it.”

“Why's it on me to fix it?” Niall asks, back in his sulk. “Louis' the one who put thoughts in my head. Tell him to fix it.”

“You're the one who left him after he bought you expensive beer.”

“You're the one who made me think he was about to propose or something!” Niall makes a concentrated effort to make his voice sound less high-pitched and shrieky. “How's it my fault you made me panic?”

“Did he even say anything remotely hinting at that?”

“You told me he falls in love easily. You didn't say how easily! How was I to know?” Niall seriously considers throwing the spoon at Louis's head. He'd deserve it.

“He does, but usually he will show that by saying the words. He did it with Liam once after a week of knowing him. Obviously, things didn't work out there. Maybe he was actually taking his time with you.”

“Well then why didn't you say that?” It's no use, Niall's voice has gone shriekish again. “This whole thing could've been avoided!”

“So... tell him at the party that you misunderstood me or something. I just want you to be happy again, babe.”

“Oh, shut up,” Niall mumbles. He really wants to throw the spoon. “I'm not talking to him at the stupid party. I'm probably not even going. I'll be getting more ice cream and having a party with that.”

“You’re coming,” Harry says decisively. “You know you miss him.”

“Have you not been listening to anything I've been saying?” asks Niall. “It doesn't matter if I miss him. I shouted at him and stormed out of his house like a crazy person.”

“And if Zayn's willing to take things slow with you, I'm sure he's willing to work through that.”

“You don't know that!” Niall rolls his eyes and thinks about maybe covering his ears for good measure. “Stop -- stop acting like you know how anything's going to happen, because you don't. You have no idea. He could just laugh at me.”

“He's Zayn,” says Louis.

“Okay, so he could laugh, and be really fucking pretty while he does it.” Niall actually throws the spoon this time, though he's not looking so he doesn't know where it ends up.

“You're an idiot.”

Niall wishes he had another spoon. “We've established this.”

“Come on, Nialler. You don't think it's worth a chance? Having someone care about you?”

“Just shut up, okay? I have people who care about me already, and I don’t need another one to miss while I’m at uni.” He sighs. “It’s already going to be hard enough. Now leave me alone about it, alright? I can handle myself.”

Harry frowns, but says nothing more, and Niall just nods curtly and stands up. “I'm leaving.”

“No, don't go,” Harry whines, throwing himself across the floor to wrap his arms around Niall's leg. Niall looks to the ceiling and really wishes he could find less dramatic friends. “Mum'll be making dinner soon. Stay for dinner.”

“No, I really. I just kind of want to wallow alone, now. You've ruined it.”

Harry looks up at him, his chin digging into Niall's shin. His eyes are wide and pleading. Got a hell of a puppy face, Harry has. “Please, Niall? Please?”

Niall sighs. Heavily. Harry’s face doesn’t change. He just blinks more rapidly and clings tighter.

“Fine,” Niall grumbles, sinking back to the ground. Harry doesn’t even get off him then. Instead, he curls up in Niall’s lap and goes to sleep. Like the cat he is.

Louis doesn’t even have the grace to look jealous. He’s still looking at Niall and he looks… understanding.

“Give him a chance, Niall,” he says quietly. “You deserve this.”

Niall swallows. He hopes a little bit that the world ends before Saturday.

--

Niall didn’t even want to come to this stupid party. He’d been determined not to, actually, and it’s only through Harry’s devastating puppy eyes and Louis threatening to kidnap him and bring him anyway that he dragged himself to it. He doesn’t want to be here. Zayn might be here, and he’s. Niall’s just. Embarrassed.

He’s not used to feeling embarrassed. Niall’s not the type of person to regret things he’s done or said. If he starts to regret things, then he won’t be able to stop regretting things, and that’s no way to go through life.

It’s hard not to feel embarrassed, though, when he remembers exactly how he left Zayn last time. They were having a really good time, and then Niall flipped out and left Zayn naked and confused with a hard-on in the middle of all his expensive beer. It’s not exactly the way he’d anticipated that day going. And probably not the way Zayn had, either.

So he’s trying to stay low. Doesn’t go near the kitchen (which means he hasn’t even managed to get drunk at all, sadly) and lurks in the corners and along the walls. Niall can be subtle when he wants to. He is the night. He is the oncoming storm, silent but deadly. He is –

“Niall?”

Really, really bad at this.

Niall contemplates not turning around, he really does, but Zayn is talking to him and even if he is horribly embarrassed of himself this is still Zayn. “Hey...”

“Hey.” Zayn looks a bit embarrassed himself, or at least like he doesn't know what to say. “I wasn't going to come over here, but... Guess you've still sort of got a spell on me.”

Niall rolls his eyes to keep from smiling properly. It doesn't work. “I, uh... Even after... ?”

Zayn shrugs. “Guessed you must have a reason. No idea what that reason is, but I've got to respect it, haven't I? Not like I was going to force you or anything.”

God, and Niall knows that. Why did he listen to Louis?

“I'm sorry,” Niall blurts before he realizes it's even coming out of his mouth.

It's good that Zayn doesn't pretend he has no idea what Niall's talking about, because Niall definitely wouldn't be able to say it again. Zayn just... shrugs, again. It makes Niall feel worse.

“I just kind of thought we had something, you know. Something good.” Zayn smiles and it's the first time Niall's seen him look self-deprecating. “My mistake. I'm always doing that.”

“I... I overreacted?” Niall bites at his lower lip. “It's Louis's fault.”

Zayn frowns. “How's it Lou's fault? He wasn't there, or was I a bit more sloshed than I thought?”

“He just... Told me some things, and I let them go to my head, and I'm sorry.”

“What'd he tell you?” Zayn's frown deepens. “Fucker, I'm never saying anything to him ever again. Didn't think he'd use any of what I told him about you against me, though, that's low even for him.”

“He...” Niall tilts his head “He didn't say anything about me. It was more. About... Liam?”

If Niall wasn't looking for it, he wouldn't have noticed how Zayn tenses. His knuckles go white around the bottle he's holding, but that's the most he shows that he's uncomfortable. “Oh.” He doesn't even sound upset. He's very good at hiding his feelings; that, or Niall's just bad at noticing. “Well, that's awkward.”

“I, uh... Yeah.” Niall says, looking down at his trainers. “I just...”

“Look, I was an idiot with Li. Almost ruined our whole friendship, and I don't... Like, I really don't want that to happen with you. I really think we could be great friends. If that's all you want.”

“I...” Niall shakes his head. “Can we go somewhere less... Crowded?”

“Yeah, definitely.” Zayn looks around, at the people surging around them. “I think,” he mutters. “Uh. Wanna try to find a loo again?”

“Yeah, just somewhere that's not here.” Niall nods, automatically moving to take Zayn's hand.

Zayn grabs his hand before he can snatch it away, squeezing it like he wants to make sure Niall knows it's not an accident. “Come on,” he says firmly, pulling Niall along the sides of the crowd into the hallway. It's easier to breathe without everyone around. Niall closes his eyes and inhales. It's nice to smell something other than beer and sweaty teenagers, but it's not quite as nice to smell Zayn, all spicy cologne and hairspray. Or, actually, it's too nice.

Once they're closed in the bathroom Niall takes a deep breath, looking up at Zayn again. “Thanks.”

“Course.” Zayn does that shrugging thing again. He'll ruin his spinal alignment if he keeps doing that. Niall doesn't want to be the reason Zayn's spine gets fucked up.

“I really like you, Zayn,” Niall says before he can stop himself.

“Yeah?” Zayn perks up a little. “I thought maybe you didn't. You know. From how you ran out of my house. People who like me don't usually do that.”

“I...” Niall licks his lips. “It's been a long time since I've liked someone. I just... I don't know if I'm ready, y'know? It why I left. I just wasn't sure if I could... Do this with someone.” He motions between them.

“What are we doing?” Zayn leans against the wall, his arms folded across his chest. He doesn't look intimidating, just expectant and really, really hot. “You weren't sure you could do what?”

“Be... Boyfriends, I guess.” Niall shrugs now, looking away from Zayn's face, feeling his own heating up.

“Who said we were boyfriends?” asks Zayn, raising his eyebrows. “You said you wanted to have a casual thing. So, we had a casual thing.”

“I know, and I just... I don't know. I guess it started to feel stronger than that.”

Zayn smiles, just a twitch of his lips. “Never said anything about feelings. Just said I was doing what you said you wanted.”

“I think... I think I just started wanting more,” Niall admits.

“You did?” asks Zayn. He makes an aborted movement like he wants to take Niall's hand again. “So... I wanted more, and you wanted more. And that was a problem?”

“I didn't want to get too close, y'know? We're both leaving after summer, and just.” Niall sighs heavily.

“I'm not leaving.” Zayn says it slowly, looking Niall in the eye. “Like, if you're leaving, cool, but I'm staying here. Gap year, I think. Figure out what I really want to do with my life before I jump right in.”

“I, uh, yeah. I'm doing a test year, give myself an idea.”

“But why's that mean we can't have fun?” Zayn tilts his head. “I thought we had a good thing going. I like you.”

“So did I. I just don't want...” Niall swallows around the lump in his throat. “I don't want either of us getting hurt when I... When I leave.”

Zayn laughs quietly. “Niall, I'm a big boy. And like, we can text, call, whatever. Just like normal friends. You're not running out on Harry or Lou, are you?”

“No, but... I feel differently about you.” Niall's fully embarrassed now and he runs a hand over his face. “Christ, I'm terrible at this.”

“You really are.” To Niall's relief, Zayn looks amused instead of irritated by Niall's ineptitude. “Shouldn't find it cute, should I?”

“I'm glad you do.” Niall shrugs again, frowning to himself. “I miss you.”

“I'm right here.” Zayn's whole face softens, and it's gorgeous like everything else about him. “Hey, maybe take a chance?”

“You think?” Niall bites his lip.

“I mean, obviously, I'd like it if you did. But even if you don't want to keep on like we have been, I'd like to be your friend. You seem massively cool and I like you a lot, Niall.” Zayn bites his lip, apparently to stop from saying anything more.

“I really just want to make out with you.”

“We can do that, too.” Zayn grins. It doesn't make Niall want to make out with him any less. “Trust me, I have no problems with that proposal.”

“And maybe I'd like to hold hands and stuff.” Niall moves in closer, still a bit hesitant.

“We could do that, too. I'd like that.” Zayn shifts as well, the back of his hand pressing against Niall's.

Yeah?” Niall tucks his hand against Zayn's again, the other tugging the at hem of Zayn's shirt.

Zayn ducks his head in closer, one hand settling on Niall's hip. “Yeah,” he whispers. “Yeah, I'd like that a lot.”

“I like you a lot.” Niall licks his lips, tilting his head up more.

“That's good,” says Zayn, so close that Niall can feel Zayn's breath on his lips. “Because I like you a lot.”

“Mm,” Niall hums, pressing a kiss to Zayn's lower lip.

“So you want to be friends,” says Zayn softly, his tongue flicking over Niall's cupid's bow, “who make out. And hold hands?”

“And are maybe exclusive, I guess?” Niall suggests, looking at Zayn unsurely.

“Exclusive kissing friends,” agrees Zayn. “That sounds good. Never had one of those before. Well, I have, but I just called him my boyfriend. Much shorter word.”

“... Do you...” Niall tucks his face against Zayn's neck, “wanna be?”

“Thought you knew I did.” Zayn's hand slides around to Niall's lower back, pressing him closer. “Thought that's why you ran.”

“I just didn't think it'd be a good idea. I'm, uh... I'm changing my tune now, though.” Niall smiles.

“I like this tune better.” Zayn kisses Niall, quick as anything. “Better melody.”

Niall catches Zayn's lips again, holding himself close.

It's taking a chance, and Niall usually doesn't take risks like that. It's summer, though, the last summer he's really got, and if Niall can just call Zayn his for the summer, he thinks... He thinks that'll be worth it. He thinks Zayn's worth it.

“Okay,” he whispers, closing his eyes. Zayn kisses him again, and Niall might still not have everything figured out, but he's got this figured out. And that's good enough for him.