“Zap, Zayn draws me in a flattering and accurate manner,” Louis says into Zayn’s shoulder.
He’s using a pencil today, so he hums and erases the sharp jut of Louis’ chin he’s just sketched. “You’re gonna have to start using that power for the good of humankind if you wanna be a superhero.”
“Humankind needs an attractive superhero,” Louis argues. “What’s his name, with the chin? He wouldn’t make a good superhero.”
“Everyone’s got a chin,” Zayn says. Louis can tell he’s not really paying much attention. He’s trying to stay very still so as not to ruin Zayn’s concentration, leaning into his side and watching as he draws, only using the upper left corner of the sketch paper to make a tiny cartoon Louis.
“You really are so good at that,” Louis sighs. “Are you gonna give me a cape? Is zapping gonna be my only power? I need you as a sidekick, as well.”
“Um, no, we’re partners, I am not your sidekick,” Zayn says, suddenly indignant. Louis lifts his head to grin, and Zayn eyes him warily. “Zapping’s a good power.”
“The best power,” Louis agrees. “If we want some other power we’ll just have to zap it for ourselves.”
“There’s got to be rules against that,” Zayn frowns.
“It’s too easy. What’s the plot?”
“Oh! Make it, like, a real comic page,” Louis says, suddenly excited, “like with the panels and all? There can be a plot, we’ll make one up. Title it something with the zap. Or ‘Partners in Crime’!”
“Superheroes fight the crime,” Zayn says, smiling. He fluffs up Louis’ fringe and pushes it off of his forehead before going back to his drawing. By the time he looks over again, a few seconds later, Louis’ hair has flopped back into place. Louis himself doesn’t move though, watching Zayn’s paper.
“Or do they? We could commit crimes. Crimes like computer hacking to stop... identity theft,” Louis decides.
“Mm,” Zayn hums again. The tiny Louis on his paper is waving hello, now, encased in a box that Louis realizes is a comic panel, just like he asked.
“He looks quite handsome, now,” he says. “Do you next.”
Louis stays silent and still until he realizes that Zayn’s done looking at him for reference; after that, he leans back into Zayn’s space and rests against his shoulder again. There are a lot of very faint grey lines around the more solid ones drawn on the page, and a fine layer of dust from Zayn’s eraser coats both of their laps. It’s one of the better drawings Louis’ seen him do, maybe one of the best. The drafting must be helpful.
In the next panel, Zayn draws his cartoon self lifting the arm opposite to Louis’. Their hands are only separated by the small, empty space between the two panels. It hardly takes Zayn half the time to draw himself, and Louis lets out a delighted laugh when he notices Zayn’s added a leather jacket to his own sketch.
“Oh, someone’s looking well hard,” he teases. Zayn quickly and lightly draws his cartoon self giving Louis the finger instead of waving, and Louis gasps. “I’ve only got on a t-shirt! Draw me a jumper at least.”
Erasing his terribly rude gesture, Zayn says, “You’ll just look like you want a cuddle. I’ll look even tougher in comparison.”
“That’s the beauty of it, it’s all very disarming,” Louis says. “You’ll look tough with that big, bad leather jacket when you’re actually a huge softie, and I’ll look sweet and innocent when I’m the one who’ll fuck ‘em up.”
Zayn outright giggles at that, and when Louis pinches his thigh to make him stop, Zayn just grabs his hand and holds it against his own leg, squeezing his fingers and erasing the lines of his cartoon’s t-shirt with his other hand. “You’re not gonna fuck anyone up, babe.”
“I’m gonna fuck you up,” Louis insists. He tries to wiggle a few of his fingers out from under Zayn’s so that he can at least link them together if he’s going to be forced to hold hands, but Zayn has a tight grip. He still draws quite well without his left hand to hold the sheet still, a few curving lines for a nice oversized jumper and a bunch of straight strokes to give it a ribbed hem, neckline and cuffs.
Zayn adds in a bit of shading that he usually skips over, and finally lets Louis’ hand go; Louis doesn’t move back, tucking it between Zayn’s thighs, just in front of the sketchpad so that the hard edge pushes against his index finger. Zayn pats his wrist and goes back to holding his paper still, moving on to a new panel. This one has the both of them, their little cartoon selves with their arms around each other, and Louis smiles to himself.
“Ah, fuck,” Zayn sighs. “You can’t see my tattoo in a jacket, the zap, should I change it? Seems like it’s important bit in the story?”
“Nah, save it. This is just the introduction, plenty of time for zapping later on,” Louis shrugs.
“You need a tattoo, as well,” Zayn says. He’s making speech bubbles to fill up the corners of the panels, but leaves the insides of them blank.
“I’ve got plenty, mate,” Louis reminds him, twisting his arm to peer at all the ink he’s acquired along the inside of his forearm. The motion serves as a good excuse to slip his hand down even more, so he can wedge his fingers underneath Zayn’s thigh to keep them warm.
“A zap one,” Zayn says. He closes his legs around Louis’ wrist and pets at the tattoos already there, more than one of them drawn himself. “How else is this gonna work?”
“How is this gonna work?” Louis asks. “How do you activate it? Does that mean I haven’t really been getting anything done this whole time?”
“You just touch it to activate it. I’ve been letting you use mine so far, but you’re not gonna be able to forever. Drains my energy,” Zayn says, letting out a long sigh as he melts into Louis’ side, forehead pressed to Louis’ temple.
Louis lets him stay, leaning into it, and even though he thinks he shouldn’t take Zayn too seriously, he still replies, “Nah, though. That’s your thing.”
“It’s our thing,” Zayn says, sounding mildly offended. He nuzzles in closer and presses his lips to Louis’ cheek. “Partners, yeah?”
His words vibrate against Louis’ cheek, and he tilts his head more toward Zayn’s and nods, just a bit, “Yeah.” Zayn kisses him, half on the mouth and half on his chin, and Louis laughs, thinks about how much empty space on his arm he’s got left to fill up.