The hotel faces the beach, and when Zayn looks out he can see the ocean lapping up against the shore, the distinct darkening of the sand where the tide washes in.
Their rooms are a little high up, far enough that the people leaving the beach aren’t much but blurred, shaky figures moving off the coast, dotting the edges of the sand until they disappear and the beach is empty. It’s a bit eerie, the way the moon casts a shine down and there’s nothing but sand for miles, maybe, as far as Zayn can see. He presses his face up to the window and looks down, catches the small waves that wash up and leave little treasures behind, shells and rocks and snapping little creatures Liam will go out and try to find tomorrow morning.
For now though, it’s dark, and it’s quiet. He feels the weight of the day rest heavy on his shoulders, insistent and knocking against the cage of his brain, demanding to be thought about. It’s tiring, all that, the noise and the fans and the fucking screaming.
But this, Zayn doesn’t know much, hasn’t seen much, even now, but this is nice. The ocean, dulled a dark blue by the night sky and the stars that sparkle down from overhead. It’s calming, almost. Relaxing and constant and steady, so Zayn focuses on that instead of the dull ache in his head, the tired droop of his eyes and the restless twitching in his fingers that starts the quiet demand for the smooth inhale, exhale of bitter, burning smoke.
Zayn rests his eyes on the gentle, white wash of waves curling against the pale glitter of the coastline, the quiet way they rumble in, then drift back. It’s soothing, and calming, and a million other words his sleepy mind supplies him with as he relaxes his shoulders and lets his thoughts drift along with the water, the grains of sand that tumble back into the ocean.
The view’s good, and it’s quiet. And Zayn says a silent thank you before sleep washes over him like the waves, and he falls to sleep.
The knock comes in the middle of the night. Zayn’s still hunched over by the window, body curled at an angle that’s enough to make his neck throb, make him wince when he unfurls and pads over softly to the door.
It’s their special knock, him and Louis. Three knocks, a pause. Two. Then another. It’s stupid and simple, and Zayn tugs the door open a bit, just to see Louis lounging heavily against the door frame, hair flattened from sleep and the pants of his pajamas dragging against the floor.
He doesn’t say anything when he comes in, but he drags his fingers across Zayn’s wrist, leaves a message over the sharp bone there. A hello, maybe. Missed you, could be, but Zayn’s too tired to tell. He catches Louis’ fingers all the same, and that’s a message on its own.
It’s hard to tell in the shadowed light, but Zayn can see the bruises under Louis’ eyes, the tell-tale signs of too little sleep and too much talking, to strangers and fans, to each other, even.
That’s the thing. Zayn can feel Louis’ fingers tangled in his. If he moves his hand up, cups the delicate skin around Louis’ wrist, he can feel his pulse, quiet and steady and thumping. That’s enough, to feel that, to know Louis is here, and his skin is still sleep-warm and soft and when Zayn leans in he can feel the slight increase, the thump thump thump that beats a little faster.
That’s enough, for them.
Zayn drags Louis over to the window. The curtains are still open, so the moonshine comes in bright and clear, illuminates the sanctity of the beach and the unrelenting drift of the water. Zayn folds himself up on the cushioned bench that’s been carved out under the window, lets Louis’ lithe body curl over top of him, curves resting against the sharp angles of Zayn’s limbs.
His hair smells like soap and sleep and something softer, something sweeter that clings to his skin on good days and something Zayn misses on the bad ones. He rests his chin on Zayn’s chest, sharp and bony, but Zayn just shifts, rests his hands on Louis’ waist and comforts himself with the feel of the heaviness of another body on top of him.
This is nice too. The ocean washing away at land down below, and Louis nipping at his skin up here, sharp little digs of his teeth that make Zayn squirm, make him smile a little in the dim, shadowy light of the room.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Louis says eventually. It’s muffled, buried in the thin fabric of Zayn’s t-shirt. “S’too loud, you know? In my head.”
Zayn hums, runs gentle fingers along the deep curve of Louis’ spine, the little valley that he can’t help but want to taste, some days. Run his tongue over the dip until Louis arches into it. “Yeah, I know,” he says. He keeps his voice quiet, keeps it down to match the stillness of the beach outside, the muted hush that’s settled in his hotel room.
Louis shifts, lifts his head up a little and it’s been years now, but Zayn still swallows at the sharp blue of his eyes. The contrast between them and his pink, little mouth, the way it thins when his smiles, sleepy and tired and real.
“Let’s do something,” he says. “Dunno--let’s like. Run away or summat. Me an’ you.”
Zayn closes his eyes, leans his head back. He smiles when he feels Louis run fingers through his hair, push the inky black strands back out of his face. “Okay,” he agrees, and Louis presses a kiss to his forehead, his eyelids, his nose. “Let’s run away.”
The sand feels less grainy than Zayn had imagined. He grimaces a little at the loss of his shoes, but it’s nice, cool and soft under his feet, sticking between his toes.
He lets Louis go ahead, stares at the flash of his tanned ankles where his sleep pants are rolled up, watches the muscles in his calves work as he walks. He catches up when Louis picks a spot, just out of reach of the lap of the waves, the water coming in just past their feet.
“Far enough?” Zayn asks.
Louis turns and looks back at the hotel. Zayn stares at the sharp lines of his faw, the curve of his neck and feels something heavy in his stomach. Like an ache, almost. A want.
But the beach is enough to keep him sated for now.
“Yeah,” Louis answers, almost distractedly, with how he turns back to stare at the horizon, looks up at the pale glow of the moon. “Just me and you out here.”
Zayn lets himself fall back. There will be sand in his hair, in his clothes, everywhere really, but Louis scoots so they share some body heat, combat the slight chill of the summer nights with their fingers linked, and that’s fine.
This is fine.
This is good.
“It’s quiet out here,” Louis murmurs. “Not like--have you ever felt like that? Like it’s too loud even when it’s not?”
Zayn inhales. It burns a little, too much saltwater in the air, lingering over the beach. “Sometimes,” he says. “This helps. You help.”
“M’loud,” Louis argues.
Zayn shakes his head, traces over the softness of Louis’ skin, wonders if that tastes like salt now too, like gritty sand and the dark blue of the ocean. “You’re Louis.”
The hours pass. Zayn drifts in and out, eyelids flickering against the light, the gentle crash of waves when they move more inland, tickling at the soles of his feet.
Louis sits up at one point, arms wrapped around his knees, chin resting on his knuckles. Zayn wakes up enough to reach out and trace over the bumps of his curved spine, rolls over to feel Louis shiver against the touch.
“Zayn,” he breathes out, and Zayn noses at his hip, the softness of his stomach. He smells like the beach, like the depth of the ocean and the stinging salt and still sweet, always sweet.
“M’here,” Zayn murmurs. He presses a kiss to the strip of skin that peeks out between Louis’ shirt and his sleep pants, curved and bitable and exposed. “M’right here.”
Louis exhales, too quiet, shifts so he’s straddling Zayn a little, toes digging into the sand. He bends down and his lips feel soft against Zayn’s, salty sweet, sharp little teeth biting against Zayn’s mouth.
Zayn digs wandering, wanting fingers into Louis’ waist, travels up under his t-shirt and over his ribs until Louis huffs out a laugh and the sound gets trapped between them.
“Ticklish,” he says, and Zayn kisses him again, runs his fingers over the skin some more, and that’s I know, because he does, he knows Louis. Knows to give as good as he gets, knows when to move his hips, just a little, so Louis’ breath catches and Zayn swallows up another sound he makes, something needy and desperate and good.
Louis tastes like saltwater, and Zayn imagines he’s much of the same. They stretch out on the beach, half-asleep with eyelids drooping, mouths connecting lazily, hips moving just a little, to get that sudden spark of pleasure.
To feel Louis shiver, to make Zayn’s pulse jump.
The moon illuminates the beach, illuminates them. Louis’ eyes are too sharp out here, too blue, even under the haze of sleep and exhaustion and soft, muted satisfaction when one of them moves a certain way, just right. He presses a kiss to Zayn’s throat, bites at the skin and Zayn feels heavy. Feels lazy and content and like he could drift off to sea himself, if Louis wasn’t anchoring him here, like this.
He could drift off, maybe, but Louis holds on. He always does.
He waits for the knock the next night. Three. A pause. Two. Then another.
Louis folds into him more easily tonight, a little more worn down, a little more tired. Zayn wraps skinny arms around him, the only thing he knows how to do. Wraps Louis up and smells soap and sweat and the undertone of something sweet, always something sweet.
He misses the smell of saltwater though. Of brine and the stinging, wandering ocean sticking to Louis’ skin, in his hair, in his clothes.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Louis says, with the same bruises under his eyes. Same ones Zayn’s got, from lack of sleep and too much adrenaline. Too much moving and not enough of being still, of being quiet.
Zayn inhales and it’s not the scent he wants, not the comforting scent of the beach, but it’s still Louis, so he takes and takes and takes and doesn’t have much to give but this. Arms around Louis’ waist and a gentle kisses at his neck, hidden away behind his ears and pressed up underneath the soft, feathery spikes of his hair.
“What do you want?” Zayn asks.
“Let’s run away,” Louis answers, voice quiet and a little raspy, from overuse and no sleep.
“Okay,” Zayn says. “Let’s run away.”
Louis walks along the shoreline. The waves drag over his feet, spill over the tops of his toes and Zayn listens for his laugh, echoing slightly in the night and over the sound of the rumbling water.
“Harry told me a story today,” Louis calls out, just loud enough that Zayn can hear him from where he’s laid out a little ways back, out of reach of the water.
Zayn closes his eyes. He can hear Louis splashing at the edge, toes dipped into the shallowest part of the ocean, far back enough that he can’t get swept away. He wishes it were a little lighter out, so he could pick shells, maybe. Listen and see if he could hear the ocean in their hollows, whispering secrets to him. Stories.
“Zayn,” Louis calls again.
Zayn keeps his eyes closed, but smiles a little at the whine in Louis’ voice, even as quiet as he’s trying to keep it. “What was the story, Lou?”
He hears a satisfied little noise, the sound of sand sifting as Louis comes closer. He burrows close, digging out his own little groove next to Zayn, and Zayn squints one eye open to watch the way his body moves before Louis settles.
“It was about the moon,” Louis says. “He said her name is Luna, for, like, a Moon Goddess or something, you know?”
“Heard that, yeah.”
Louis shifts again, sharp elbow digging into Zayn’s ribs. “Of course you have.”
“You can still tell me.”
Louis sighs, and Zayn drags a hand down his arm, slow, and links their fingers together. Anchoring. So neither of them drift off, drift away.
“So, like, she’s paired with the sun, you know. The sun travels during the day, all over the world. Then, she like, at night, she comes. Takes over, I mean. Like now, that’s her up there.”
Zayn hums, blinks his eyes open to look up at the moon as it creates shadows over the beach, over them. “That’s pretty cool.”
“D’ya believe that, I mean? Do you think, I don’t know. Harry said it.”
“Could be,” Zayn says. “Harry says some cool shit, sometimes.”
They lie on the beach, just two blurred indistinct figures if anyone was looking from a hotel window. Louis intertwines his legs with Zayn, settles solid and heavy on top of him and looks down with bright, blue eyes. Zayn can’t help but smile, a little, at the way the wind moves Louis’ fringe, blows it across his forehead. Louis lets him move it back, tug it away from his eyes and over his forehead.
“What do you want?” Zayn asks.
“Nothing,” Louis says. “Everything.”
“Can’t give you that.”
“You,” Louis amends. “Now.”
Louis tastes like saltwater everywhere, when Zayn drags his tongue along his skin, lapping at the saltiness of his curves and the sharp lines that make up his body.
“Zayn,” Louis breathes out, gasps and arches his back and Zayn likes that, loves that, kisses him again to hear it.
The bed is a good size, enough that Zayn can spread Louis out. He can grip him by his legs and settle in between. He can kiss at the delicate skin of Louis’ ankles, his knees, his soft thighs that bend and clench and tremble when Zayn touches them. Kisses them. Licks at the salt and traces of ocean that have been left behind.
Zayn can feel the urge of it, to touch, to feel, somewhere deep in his stomach. It settles heavy and persistent, overwhelming most of his senses until that’s all he knows. The taste of salt and the sweetness that trails behind it and sticks to his tongue.
He holds Louis down a little while he opens him up, keeps an open palm over his stomach so he doesn’t move too much, stays in place so he can feel Zayn’s fingers, can feel the press inside him, nudging and searching until he’s biting his lip and pleading for harder, deeper, more.
It’s slow, because Zayn still feels like he could drift away if Louis wasn’t here, if he didn’t have this to hold on to. He moves slow and calm and fucks into Louis with shaky fingers until Louis is fucking back down on them, back arched and legs trembling.
“Good?” he asks, and Louis nods, lifts himself up and pushes Zayn down on his back. “Fuck, Louis.”
Louis laughs, quiet and more of an exhale than anything else as he lifts himself up and hovers over Zayn’s cock. “Gonna ride you, okay?” he asks, like Zayn will say anything that comes close to no.
This is slow too, the feel of Louis lowering himself, the way his hands press against Zayn’s chest as he eases down and bites his lip, shakes.
Zayn clenches his fingers in the sheets, overwhelmed with the feel of Louis clenching around him, the heat from his body, the meat of his thighs. Louis moves slow at first, blue eyes too sharp and too clear, hips dragging over Zayn’s. Teasing.
“C’mon,” Zayn breathes out. “C’mon, Lou, please.”
Louis drags his fingers over Zayn’s chest, nods a little before he starts moving a little faster, fucks himself on Zayn’s cock a little harder.
Zayn feels like he can’t breathe. Like he’s drowning, almost. Like he’s back on the beach, underneath the rolling waves and salt and breathing in too much of it all until his lungs fill up. Too much.
This feels like that, but better. It’s the way Louis moves, sinuously, slowly, so good that Zayn can’t help but tell him. With a voice that sounds fucked out already, with pressing, needy fingers digging into his skin, with the jolt of his hips, fucking into Louis and he can’t stop, doesn’t want to stop.
Louis arches back, nails leaving marks in Zayns skin, a reminder, a brand. “Fuck me,” he gasps out, and Zayn’s never told him no, won’t start now.
So he moves his hips a little faster, deeper, until Louis’s whining with it, these needy little noises that send shivers through Zayn. They make his cock twitch, make him closer to coming.
“M’close,” Zayn says and Louis nods, wraps a hand around his own cock and shudders. “Jesus, Louis.”
“Want you to come,” Louis murmurs. He tugs at his cock with one hand, steadies himself against Zayn’s chest with the other. “C’mon, wanna feel you.”
He leans down to kiss Zayn and that’s it. Zayn squeezes his eyes shut and tries to breathe, tries to keep himself together through the trembling. He feels his back arch, feels himself coming off the bed, makes his cock fuck that much deeper into Louis. He can feel Louis’ mouth kissing at his jaw, at his neck, little shaky murmurs of encouragement, bitten off little teases that fade off into a moan, a whine.
Louis slows down, grinding his hips still and fucking into his hand. Zayn helps, sucks at his neck and bites at the skin and whispers, “Wanna see you come now, please,” until Louis drops his head into Zayn’s shoulder and falls apart.
“What do you want?” Zayn asks.
Louis shakes his head, kisses at Zayn’s neck and Zayn wonders if he tastes like salt too. Like traces of the ocean and sand and the lingering light of the moon.
“This,” Louis says. “You.”
Their last night they stay in with the boys. Liam and Niall fight over the TV, voices loud and playful and familiar.
Harry and Louis are on one of the beds when Zayn slinks in, smelling of stale smoke and ocean breeze and salted air. Louis reaches out an arm when he sees him, lets Zayn squeeze in on the bed next to them until they’re all tangled up, limbs and everything.
“Louis told me your story, Harry,” Zayn mumbles, eyes slipping shut as Louis runs a hand through his hair. “About the moon.”
“What d’ya think?” Harry asks. His voice is too slow, and Zayn knows he’ll be asleep in minutes, curls hanging over his eyes. “Lou didn’t believe me.”
“I said I’d ask Zayn.”
Zayn smiles, nudges Louis with his nose as a reprimand. “I liked it. Her traveling and everything, you know. After the sun. It was a good story.”
It quiets, after a while. Harry’s breathing evens out into the slow steady breaths of sleep. Liam and Niall curl against each other in the other bed, and Zayn pretends he can’t see Liam checking on them, just to be sure they haven’t drifted off in the night.
They all do that. Anchor each other.
Louis stays up. He watches the television through hazy, sleep-heavy eyes and Zayn smiles into the pillow at the sight of him. Rumpled and exhausted and stubborn.
There’s no view of the beach in this room, and Zayn misses it a little. Something like a sharp ache at the inseam of his ribs, even though they’ve only been here a few days.
What makes up for it is the lingering scent of the ocean in Louis’ clothes when he shifts, in his hair, embedded deep in his skin when Zayn inhales. He can’t see the beach but he can smell it, feel it, mixed in with Louis’ underlying sweetness.
Always, always sweet.
Sunrise is different.
Zayn misses the moon, but the sun is nice too, golden and warm and bright.
Louis still smells like saltwater, like the lingering wash of waves against the sand before it drags back into its home, into the ocean. He rolls up the bottoms of his trousers and pulls Zayn towards the edge, where the water laps up on the beach and settles.
“C’mon,” he says, when Zayn hesitates, reluctant. “I’ve got you.”
They settle their feet in the sticky wet sand, watching their toes sink in. Louis wades out a little further, but doesn’t let go, doesn’t let Zayn’s hand go.
“Don’t drift off,” Zayn calls. “Don’t drift away.”
Louis smiles, golden and bright and sharp. “You wouldn’t let me,” he says. “You’d hold onto me.”
“I would,” Zayn agrees, and he does. He holds on to Louis, tangles their fingers together.
Anchors him to the beach so the waves can’t wash him away with the sand.