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you taste like paris

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i.

It’s still dark when Niall feels the mattress move—creaking softly as if sighing from the loss of weight. The bed is a little emptier and the room is a little colder but Niall’s eyes remain closed. A door opens on the other side of the room and the chilly Paris air makes itself at home inside of the small apartment. Niall might have pulled the sheet tighter around his naked frame if his arms decided they were more than useless, immobile limbs.

And Niall smells cigarette smoke and exhales too sharply for someone who should be sleeping, but it’s still dark, right? His blue eyes are not meant to see the sunrise. But the smell is strong and for a moment the Irish boy has no idea where he is. It’s cold and the bed sheets smell like cigarettes and cologne and sex. He shivers and wishes for the warm body to return and hopefully bring warm fingers and toes with it.

“Mm,” he hums, rolling over and twisting himself into a mess of sheets and lazy, drooping eyes, “Come back.” And he listens for the fond sound that escapes his lover’s lips and smiles when the mattress creaks again—the weight returning to his side.

The smell of smoke is twice as strong and Niall rolls on his side to catch the boy’s mouth before it fades away into the bed sheets. Zayn hums against the younger boy’s mouth, lazily sucking on his bottom lip and pushing the taste of cigarettes onto his tongue. His fingers are as warm as Niall was hoping for, and they dance easily along the protrusions of his spine—feeling every little point, making sure he hasn’t missed any.

But of course Zayn hasn’t, Niall figures, because his naked form is scattered across the pages of the older boy’s tattered sketch book—filling every corner and crease in charcoal. Zayn insisted that Niall was a great model—that his hips dipped at the perfect angles and his spine curved into the perfect shape. And the younger boy had blushed at first—somehow accustom to being on full display to a class of French-speaking art students, but not to receiving a compliment.

Zayn had coaxed Niall into his flat and into his bed, and the Irish boy hadn’t done much in the way of protesting. The raven-haired boy was rain and moonlight and sea-water and Niall couldn’t catch his breath. He let Zayn fuck him three times before passing out and sinking into the untidy mattress, revelling in the shallow breath that danced across his neck.

And he’s beginning to think that Zayn’s fingertips are always warm and gentle and that his breathing is always shallow and serene. He’s beginning to think that the raven-haired boy’s fingers have found a second home in the soft spots of his spine and he whimpers shallowly at the thought.

Zayn brushes their lips together like he’s incapable of anything but slow, lethargic movements—ones that have Niall inching closer in his half-conscious state. It’s all breath and wet, searching lips and Niall could fall asleep if he didn’t know how beautiful the boy was.

“Mm,” Zayn hums, “You taste like Paris.”

Niall laughs quietly, “And what does Paris taste like?”

“Like you.” Zayn’s warm fingers rake through Niall’s hair, pushing the pieces out of his forehead that had stuck in a cold sweat, “So pretty—fucking beautiful.”

And Niall would blush if he wasn’t so tired and their voices weren’t so quiet—the room feels wide and cold but he’s warm pressed against Zayn. Everything is alright. “Do you sleep with all of your models?” he decides to ask sleepily—jokingly even though he’s honestly curious.

Zayn laughs softly and presses his thumb into the dip of Niall’s hip—the first thing he told him he admired, “Only the pretty ones—the ones with nice smiles.” And it’s difficult to tell if it’s a joke or not. Zayn speaks softly around his thick, English accent and his tone is always exactly what he wants it to be.

Niall just sighs and pretends that he’s okay with being a good fuck and nothing more. He pretends he could never fall in love with Zayn’s smile or his swollen lips or the tattoos that trail across his collarbone...but the Irish boy is not in the business of lying to himself. He doesn’t mind being a good fuck if Zayn is willing to tuck him into his chest afterwards. After all, Zayn is Paris and art and cigarettes that are more symbolic than deadly. Niall is not going to fall in love in a setting as typical as Paris.

“Go back to sleep if you’re tired, love,” Zayn murmurs into the thin skin beneath his ear, “Paris will still be here when you wake up.”

And Niall doesn’t need to be told twice—it’s still dark outside and his eyelids are begging to drop. Give the city a second inspection after the sun comes up.

ii.

Zayn wears a black t-shirt with three little holes in the chest and Niall likes to press his fingers into the visible skin. He has goose bumps most days and Niall likes to press his warmth into all of the places Zayn is cold—like his own personal furnace when the sun is out and the blonde is able to soak up its warmth. Zayn is warmer at night—when the moonlight is cold and he has something to compensate for. On nights like that, Niall likes to press his cold toes against the heat of the raven-haired boy’s leg—but right now, the sun is up.

“You have pretty hands,” Zayn mumbles, capturing the fingers that are pressing into his chest and entwining them with his, “They’re not ruined yet.”

“Not yet,” Niall muses quietly, staring at Zayn shyly because that level of beauty deserves timidity and awe.

Zayn grins and gladly welcomes the blonde onto his lap, sighing contently when Niall gets comfortable and settles into the bones beneath his neck. “Not yet,” Zayn repeats meaningfully, running his fingers through the younger boy’s hair and placing careful kisses to his temple, “Maybe they never will be—don’t get involved in work or art that will cut up your fingerprints, Niall.”

Niall buries himself in the oversized sweater he found hidden in the back of Zayn’s drawer, right next to an expensive package of cigarettes, “Wouldn’t I be more interesting to draw if I had a scar or two? Maybe a burn mark or a wrinkle on the corner of my eye?”

The body beneath him sighs and reaches up the back of the sweater to rest on Niall’s skin, “Too many people have scars—your perfection is too few and far between.”

iii.

Artists are supposed to paint or draw or sculpt something interesting; the wrinkles and birth marks of someone older—the curves of someone beautiful. Niall finds himself lacking both—he is as generic as they come, he figures, and the freckles that decorate his shoulders are merely faint nothings brought upon by the sun. What a boring way to spend your afternoon—sketching the soft, average angles of his body rather than the spectacular architecture just outside the door of the dingy little art building.

Nonetheless, Niall emerges from the room, barely wearing the robe they provided him with and dropping it nearly immediately. And it should terrify him that he’s completely naked in front of thirty or more wandering eyes—it should worry him that his mother would be horrified, but it doesn’t. His body is his body and nudity is nothing to be ashamed of, he’s learned. Or perhaps that’s just Zayn talking again—rough accent lingering in the back of his mind.

Niall catches the raven-haired boy’s gaze from the left side of the room—catches it the way he used to catch fish on a hook with his brother, but maybe he’s the fish. Zayn stares at him with eyes that are too dark to be considered hazel and too golden to be considered brown. They’re especially dark today—drinking Niall’s body in like a cup of black coffee and a cigarette at five in the morning.

The Irish boy shudders and rolls his shoulders back before finding his place—always drawn to the left side of the room. Zayn’s eyes are drawing him in like a dog on a leash—like he’s some sort of possession and he has to squeeze his eyes closed when he thinks about being his his his. He would no longer just be Niall—he would be Zayn’s Niall and isn’t that a worthy title?

Niall stays perfectly still and watches Zayn’s eyes dart from his canvas to him, and back again. He spends longer than necessary staring at the Irish boy—eyes lingering from one body part to the next, even though he’s already seen it all (Niall spread out, panting, sweating). Zayn licks across his bottom lip and glances at his classmates, eventually returning to Niall with the same level of possession as earlier—jealousy, if Niall didn’t know better. But Zayn’s eyes are still too dark for that.

Hours pass and Niall’s spine is growing uncomfortably weak and his ribcage is begging to be stretched out. The professor calls it a day and the Irish boy collapses in on himself until he’s nothing more than an average lump.

“Love,” a soft voice whispers; breath flicking across his temple.

Niall stretches his neck and smiles lazily at Zayn, who is standing over him with a sketchpad in one hand, his robe in the other. “How was that?”

Zayn smiles and gives the boy a hand up, “Beautiful, as usual.”

And the blush that creeps up his neck is merely a side effect, at this point.

The raven-haired boy laughs fondly before slinging the grey-coloured robe around Niall’s shoulders, “Let’s get you covered up, yeah?”

Niall grins playfully, “Don’t want me out for show any longer?”

And Zayn just smiles and pecks him lightly on the lips, “Gonna take you home and have you all to myself.”

“Oh really?” the Irish boy counters, raising an eyebrow even though he’s smiling.

“Mm, come on,” Zayn murmurs, getting closer and closer to his ear, “I’ll let you wear that sweater you like. Just let me draw you all curled up in it, yeah?”

And Niall sighs and melts and almost completely collapses into the older boy before nodding, “Yeah.”

iv.

It doesn’t really faze Niall that he’s wearing nothing but the sweater and his messy hair. His heart is beating sideways and his lips are parting for air as he watches Zayn’s eyes lick over him—over his legs and his arms and his ribcage. Niall is worried that Zayn will see right through him, eventually, and that he will know that his heart thumps unevenly. He’s not as perfect as the raven-haired boy says he is.

Zayn hums lightly in the back of his throat and scoots closer to the bed—reaches out and takes Niall’s ankle, turning it over until he’s satisfied with how his bones look. His fingers return to his sketchbook only briefly before closing it, setting it aside and finally looking Niall in the eyes.

“Well?” The Irish boy says, “Can I see it, then?”

And Zayn presses his lips together and shakes his head, “Not yet.”

“Not yet,” Niall can’t help but feel like they’re waiting for an imaginary period of time—one that only exists in Niall’s head where Zayn has been painting the picture. What if that time never makes its way to Paris?

“Hey,” Zayn mumbles, climbing onto the bed, padding up the mattress like some slinky cat and hovering over Niall. He brushes his fingers over the boy’s lower lip until Niall releases it from between his teeth. “Don’t bite your lip like that; you’re going to hurt yourself.”

And Niall groans quietly and turns over so that he’s completely facing Zayn above him, his eyes widening without consent. “What if you bite it for me, that alright?”

Zayn grunts almost inaudibly and leans in for a kiss—licking a thin line across both of the younger boy’s lips, “Maybe.” He moves to mouth at Niall’s jaw and drags his fingers up the side of his hip, leaving goose bumps and fingerprints to prove that he was, in fact, there.

Niall shivers and tilts his head slightly, trying to get as much of Zayn as he can manage. Sometimes he feels his desperation travelling in waves—radiating off of him and filling the constantly-cold room. He’s terrified that Zayn can feel it, sometimes, when his heart is beating sideways and Zayn’s is not. And it only gets worse when the raven-haired boy rakes his teeth over the skin at his neck and the protruding planes of his collarbones.

Niall whimpers and Zayn licks at the red trails his teeth have left. Warm fingers press beneath the sweater—grazing along the soft line of Niall’s thigh and resting gently on his hip. It’s so tender and affectionate and Niall loves the sharp contrast it has to the way they have sex—it’s not making love, it’s fucking, and, as much as Niall loves to cry while Zayn pounds into him, sometimes he just wants the older boy to kiss his eyelids and breathe over his neck while he rolls his hips. Sometimes Niall enjoys the foreplay more than the act itself, and that is absolutely terrifying. He will not fall in love in Paris. He will not fall in love with someone who does not love him back.

Zayn easily makes his way to the younger boy’s hip—pushing the sweater up to his stomach and paying extra attention to the sharp, protruding bone. He kisses at the pale skin tenderly as if it is sunshine and fluffy white clouds before fitting his mouth around it, biting down with might and forcing a small cry from Niall’s lips. Zayn rubs his thigh comfortingly as he pulls back into a kiss—pecking and licking at the impending bruises; waiting for them to turn the colour of violets in the spring.

Once satisfied, the raven-haired boy sits back on his heels and stares—stares at Niall and the marks on his neck and the ripening, plum colour that will soon decorate his hip. He runs a finger—too softly—over the younger boy’s thigh and watches him squirm.

“Now you’ve got a few good marks,” he says slowly, “Nothin’ that’ll scar—just enough to say that you’ve fallen from your bike a few times and that someone likes to bite.”

He runs his hand up the front of the blonde’s torso, his thumb paying extra attention to the shallow ridges of his abdomen. Niall squirms and shivers and Zayn merely watches him in fascination—as if he’s something wild and dangerous and fascinating when, really, it’s the other way around.

“Zayn,” Niall gasps out, feeling exposed but mostly just needy.

The older boy seems to snap out of his trance in that moment, “Yeah, baby?”

“Mm,” Niall groans, getting painfully hard, “Please, just, please do something.”

“What do you want me to do?”

And now he’s just being an asshole, but his voice is so soft and so tender and it’s only making matters worse. “Just”—Niall whimpers when Zayn’s tan fingers ghost over the place he needs him most.

“Just what?”

And a handful of scenarios jump through Niall’s mind in that moment and he knows what he’d like to say—make love to me, Zayn. But they’re not in the business of sweet kisses and meaningful sex—they’re either too slow or too fast and all Niall can manage to say is fuck me into the mattress.

v.

Zayn does not hold Niall’s hand down the street but he does treat him to coffee and a cute little Danish he cannot pronounce the name of. He puts five sugars in his drink because he can’t stand the taste of it otherwise and the older boy scrunches up his nose and laughs because he drinks his coffee black.

“What?” Niall asks around his food, feeling and sounding like some kind of pathetically confused child.

Zayn just grins and scoots closer to him, “You’re ruining the entire essence of the coffee, darling.”

And Niall simply rolls his eyes and tries to ignore the casual use of the word darling, “A true artist, you are.”

“Well, I’m glad you think so.” Zayn’s voice is particularly quiet and his gaze strays away from Niall—finding interest on a wall on the other side of the cafe. Niall follows the direction of the pretty irises, settling on the furthest wall that is more-or-less a mural of the world. It’s hand-painted—maybe—and littered with tiny details and facts that merely exist to keep tourists interested. It’s kind of beautiful, and the Irish boy’s first instinct is to look back at Zayn—to watch the way his eyes flicker over the painting and spot every intricate line Niall has missed.

And Niall can’t resist him—really, he can’t, and he figures this must be the reason he scoots closer. He subconsciously darts his tongue out across his lower lip before leaning in, kissing Zayn’s cheek like he was made to do it. The raven-haired boy snaps out of his second dream of the day, and smiles softly at Niall; reaching out a hand to smooth stray pieces of hair out of his face.

“That’s a nice one then, yeah?”

Zayn shrugs, “I tend to fall in love with anything that maps out the world. I don’t know—makes me think where I’m off to next.”

Niall gulps and feels something stirring in the pit of his stomach, “Next?

And Zayn only smiles and kisses him on the cheek, insisting that Paris is not the only city he can paint in.

vi.

Niall lies on his bare mattress and stares at the ceiling—wills the blood to continue circulating when there are no signs of life. He lets his eyelids fall shut and finds that they’re not as heavy as he imagined. Perhaps he does not need to sleep after all—not in his own bed, anyway. Niall sleeps with Zayn and around Zayn and on top of Zayn when Paris gets too cold. The raven-haired boy tells him he doesn’t mind and he occasionally wakes up to him playing with his blonde strands of hair.

Sleeping feels safer with him—like the city will not sneak through his open window and steal him away during the long hours of the night. And it’s ridiculous, really, because he came to this city to become a part of it—to build himself into the architecture and the language and the people. Niall wanted to live in Paris—not just hang around and count the number of pavement stones that lead from his flat to the closest store. He wanted to measure the city in steps and pretend that he knows more about art than he actually does. He wanted to shrug off his clothing and his Irish skin and give himself away to Paris.

Instead, Niall has only given himself to Zayn. And he supposes that should be a spectacular thing—Zayn is nothing short of the word. But Paris has not encoded Zayn into any of its pavement or bricks or archways—the raven-haired boy can move from one place to the next and remain completely himself; forget about ever becoming a part of anything.

Niall presses his finger into the plum-ripe bruise that adorns his hip and bites his teeth against the pain. Maybe Zayn can feel it between his ribs in his apartment across town.

vii.

Tuesday’s class feels particularly long and Niall finds himself counting backwards from a hundred over and over again until he loses his place. He can feel Zayn staring at him and he thinks he should be used to it by now—the way his dark eyes rake over him and breathe in the details. But it’s maddening in a room full of people—when Zayn can’t run his fingers over the ridges of his ribs and Niall can’t kiss his lips when he feels the distance settling in.

When the two hours are over and Niall’s blue eyes are bright with anticipation, he finds Zayn. And usually it’s the other way around—Niall makes an effort not to seem clingy but he’s throwing it out into the crisp, Paris air. The Irish boy has a moral compass and Zayn is constantly North. And he refuses to believe that it’s merely the emptiness of an unfamiliar city or the loneliness of being only Niall that has pieced together his attachment. Zayn is special and Niall has never been able to resist special things. He imagines that his eyes are two blue pools fit to drown him in and that Zayn will happily go along with him. He’s never been a strong swimmer, anyway.

This time, Niall does not care that there are other people in the room or that Zayn has a dusty haze over his irises. He steps between the raven-haired boy’s legs and wraps his arms around his shoulders—smiling thankfully when Zayn holds him back, looking up at him with wondering eyes. Niall kisses the beautiful boy on the mouth—not caring that there are people walking in and out because Zayn holds him tighter and kisses him back.

“Can we go somewhere?” the older boy murmurs against Niall’s lips, “Need to finish my work—need to tell you something.”

And Niall’s heart skips a beat thinking about Zayn’s fingerprints littering his body, “Yeah.”

viii.

Zayn draws Niall in full and spends more time than what is completely necessary working out the details. He sweeps his fingers across his collarbone, down his torso, and pays special attention to the bruise on his hip—just the colour he wanted it to be. Niall winces only slightly and Zayn pulls back with a small, apologetic smile—I’m sorry, baby.

Zayn looks small when he’s drawing—innocent, still, vulnerable. Niall likes to watch the air settle around him briefly until the next moment he moves and disrupts the universe. His hands move strategically and map out shapes that the Irish boy can only imagine—he thinks that maybe he is more beautiful in Zayn’s drawings. The raven-haired boy is a true artist who appreciates beautiful things and Niall figures that he could capture the world in black charcoal on white canvas and create something far more spectacular than colour ever could.

“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Zayn says out of nowhere, letting his pencil fall quietly between his fingertips, “And I’ve barely explored all of Europe.”

And Niall blushes and his blue eyes widen with the compliment. Zayn only stares at his sketchbook.

“I’m leaving, Niall,” the dark-haired boy speaks up after too many minutes of silence. Niall feels like he’s dying. “I’ve never seen Spain, but I’m sure it’s gorgeous and I’ve never painted anything like it.”

Niall feels like he’s dying. He nods and does not even try to make eye contact—he knows it’s futile. Niall feels like he’s dying. He stares at the ground and tries his very hardest not to cry over something that he should have seen coming.

“I’m sorry,” Zayn offers, voice rough and sincere and desperate, “I never meant to hurt you. I never meant for this to be anything.”

Niall just shrugs and stares at his toes, wondering why feet are never considered beautiful when they take you from one place to the next. He pulls the nearest sheet around him and hides his naked body from those beautiful dark eyes. Everything hurts and Niall is nothing more than average.

“I’ll show it to you, if you want,” Zayn offers, tone remaining the same but pushing for optimism, “The sketchbook.”

And Niall has been dying for this moment but now he’s simply dying and he cannot stop staring at the small stain on the sheet covering his lap. He shakes his head and tries to steady his voice, “You don’t owe me anything, Zayn...just go.” And it was a useless endeavour because he sounds absolutely heartbroken and maybe that’s because he is.

Zayn stands up and settles near the edge of the bed. His fingers rest on Niall’s cheekbones and smooth over the skin there as if it is porcelain—placing a delicate kiss on his forehead just in case it is. He does not say goodbye and Niall doesn’t want him to—doesn’t want to hear the words that have already found a home in the left ventricle of his heart.

Zayn is gone and Paris is just as empty as Niall was afraid it was.

ix.

Niall spends long afternoons at the train station—watching, waiting. He figures that if he waits long enough, Zayn will come home to him. And it doesn’t make much sense, in all honesty, because he is not home. His body is not a temple or a castle or any sound structure, for that matter. His bones are wearing thin and his heart is worthless tissue and he often wonders how he is still standing. Niall was a fool to think that he could ever be a proper home to someone who doesn’t believe in the principle of ownership. He will never shelter Zayn from a storm because the older boy will never let him.

Niall has been left out in the rain for two lousy weeks now. Somewhere along the way, he had began to rely on Zayn—rely on him the same way he relies on the universe to provide his lungs with oxygen and his body with water. Zayn is Niall’s home and he’s been left out on the streets—evicted in the hope of finding a more beautiful tenant.

Niall misses Zayn more than anything and he wonders how he can still hope he finds what he’s looking for.

x.

Zayn sends Niall a postcard explaining that he does not send postcards; has never found the point in shipping off a tourist’s photo with a meaningless jumble of words crammed onto the back. He explains that Spain is beautiful and that sometimes he wishes the Irish boy could see it too—could sit amongst the architecture and add some blue to the scenery. He apologizes for sending anything at all and hopes that he is alright; that he’s found a place to store his fingerprints within the city of lights.

Niall is in the apartment complex’s stairwell when he reads Zayn’s backward, messy writing. The mailman pats his shoulder when he wipes his eyes.

xi.

It has been two months and Niall has stopped waiting at the train station.

The art students still draw the bony angles of his knees and ankles, but nobody has complimented his hips in weeks. It’s better this way, he figures on lonely afternoons when it’s too rainy to leave his flat. It’s better this way because Zayn’s teeth have left shallow indents in Niall’s pale flesh that never seem to go away. It’s like he’s been marked—claimed by an owner that wants nothing to do with him. The bruise is gone but the Irish boy still presses his finger, hard, into the place it used to hurt.

Niall never thought he had a thing for blondes, being one, when the tall boy approached him. He was sunken, golden eyes and charcoal-embedded fingernails. His accent was heavy as he explained the details of his drawings—the details of Niall’s lithe body, as he had put it. Neither of them bothered to learn the other’s name.

They drink until they see proper stars from inside the pub—dancing overhead but never reflecting from their irises. Niall pretends that the kiss is not nearly as sloppy as it truly is until the stars are inside of him and he feels lightheaded. He’s always been weak when it comes to kissing—the proper kind that taste foreign and familiar at the same time. The sensation tends to lift him off his feet and, before he knows it, he’s holed up in a grimy apartment on the other side of the city.

The boy fucks into him and Niall bites harshly at his own arm, leaving deep marks that are immediately the colour of his cheeks in the winter. He cries out a lot louder than he would like to admit and often asks for more because he just wants to take it. Not a second of it is loving; it’s nothing but fucking—harsh words and nipping at each other’s skin. But that’s what Niall is used to, right? He convinces himself it’s what he wants and comes with a scream, body trembling differently than before.

Niall’s body is littered with marks and fingerprints that linger for days.

xii.

His entire body is held up by a string through his spine—straightening him out in a way that he cannot do himself. His bones are angular but his flesh is soft and he figures he’s simply not cut out for this. Heartache.

And he repeatedly reminds himself of how ridiculous he’s being.

Smile as wide as usual.

xiii.

The night is cold. And it’s a useless point to mention, really, because it’s always cold. Niall is asleep but the sound of feet wakes him up just enough for a sliver of light to crack the darkness of his vision.

And he knows immediately.

He can’t see much—can only hear the soft thud of a bag being set on the ground and the easy shrugging-off of a jacket. Leather, if Niall was to guess. And he barely breathes when the mattress shifts and the soft, silent body cuddles up next to him. He can only squeeze his eyes closed and try not to tremble when warm fingertips caress the edge of his face, right along his cheekbone. A light sigh escapes the lips that must be so close to his own and he revels in the familiarity of cigarettes and spearmint.

Niall is so cold but the boy’s fingertips are so warm and he imagines them leaving small red marks like a trail on his skin. A light humming ensues and he sighs too deeply for someone who should be sleeping—and they’ve been here before. Zayn kisses his forehead and pushes the small, stray hairs out of his face.

My beautiful boy.”

Niall stirs and Zayn knows, he’s sure of it, but he keeps his eyes closed because he’s crying. He doesn’t want to cry in front of the perfect boy. So Zayn continues to kiss him—kissing his cheeks and his nose and his temples until the tears are finding a way out and Niall’s clinging to him for dear life.

“I thought you’d never come back to me.”

Zayn tucks the smaller boy into his chest and rests his lips in the dip between his shoulder and his neck. “Shh,” he murmurs, kissing him softly, “It’s alright.”

But Niall only shakes his head and continues to cry because maybe it’s not—maybe his heart is beating sideways for no reason and the ice around his lungs is only melting because the air is warmer.

Zayn kisses Niall’s jaw and nips gently at his earlobe, “I’ve seen France and Spain and Italy and I’ve found nothing more beautiful than you, Niall. I’ve found nothing to fill my sketchbook that rivals you—everything is you, and I never should have left in the first place.” He grabs the younger boy by the waist and presses their bodies together—holding him close and pressing small, soothing circles into his lower back.

Niall’s tears die down after a while until he is nothing but a mess of soft eyes and pink skin. The older boy pulls away, sweeping two thumbs beneath the blue to rid of any stray tears. “So, you thought of me?”

Zayn grins and kisses him earnestly on the mouth, “Every fucking day.” The younger boy smiles into the kiss this time, letting the desperation take over and whimpering shallowly every so often.

The older boy flips Niall onto his back and hovers over him—arms sturdy on either side of his head as he stares down, admiring. He pecks the blonde only lightly on the lips before bringing his mouth to his neck—nipping and sucking at the skin there.

“I thought of you, too,” Niall admits, not that there was much point in concealing the obvious, “I missed you.”

Zayn is particularly careful with the spot beneath Niall’s jaw, kissing it first before murmuring a muffled apology. When he finds the younger boy’s mouth again, he spends longer than necessary kissing him—sucking on his bottom lip and pressing his tongue inside.

“I’m so sorry,” he repeats, clearer this time, “Let me make it up to you.” Niall whimpers when Zayn’s tan hand presses into his hip, finding his way beneath his shirt and rubbing tenderly at the protruding bones. “Please,” he continues, kissing along the younger boy’s jaw and running his finger along the waistband of his boxers.

Niall draws in a jagged breath and struggles for a moment, trying to find something to do with his hands. Zayn has come back. He’s circled through other countries and come back to him and Niall’s ribcage has expanded for the first time in months. And he doesn’t care that he’s made himself too easy—doesn’t care that he should have made Zayn beg for forgiveness or some other exaggerated, dramatic crap that wronged people do in movies. All that matters is that he wants Zayn, in every way he can have him. And it really is that simple in his mind.

Zayn catches Niall’s fidgeting and grabs his hand, entwining their fingers and, ultimately, holding him still. “Baby?”

And all the younger boy can do is nod—nod and build up the courage to say what he meant to say a couple of months ago. “Make love to me, Zayn,” he says—clearly, longingly. His cheeks immediately flush red and the older boy only smiles, kissing him softly.

“That’s all I’ve wanted to do for months,” he kisses softly at his earlobe again, “Thank you.”

 

It’s completely different; making love rather than fucking. Zayn is tender, soft—everything he isn’t when his fingers are curled around the head board and Niall is splitting from the inside out.

Zayn stares up at Niall like he is a brand new constellation and rests his hands on his hips—guiding him up and down on his cock, making sure he’s alright. Everything is slow but the older boy’s grip is still firm and they both accept that it’s just the way things are going to be. Neither of them is as soft or as gentle as they pretend to be.

Niall’s breathing is uneven and his moans get progressively louder as he rocks his hips, dropping down every so often and causing the older boy’s calm demeanour to disappear for a moment. Zayn is calm—relaxed and more focused on admiring the beautiful spectacle that is Niall. He tells the younger boy how fucking gorgeous he looks like this, desperate and moaning in his lap, trembling. He runs his hand up the span of his torso, splaying his fingers across his chest and cursing shallowly under his breath when everything feels like too much.

Niall is tired and it’s obvious so Zayn flips them over, hovering over Niall and kissing all of the places he couldn’t in their earlier position. He rolls his hips gently as first, trying to keep up the calmness of before—loving Niall with every bit of passion he can muster. But the younger boy wants more—needs it, and before long he’s thrusting in at a steady pace. Niall is hot and tight and Zayn thinks he can’t keep this up for much longer. It’s all too much and he never knew it could be like this—anything slower or calmer.

He sucks at the younger boy’s mouth and runs his fingers teasingly over his throbbing cock, making him cry. “You wanna come, baby?”

Niall nods a frantic yes and Zayn touches him properly—stroking him in time with his thrusts and catching every shallow whimper with his mouth. Before long, Niall is coming with a cry, letting Zayn work him through it until he’s over-sensitive and his eyelids are heavy. The older boy thrusts into him a few more times, kissing Niall when he sees that it’s beginning to hurt and coming soon after.

Everything is slow after that—kissing, breathing. Zayn tucks Niall into his chest and whispers that he is gorgeous; absolutely breath-taking, and that he’ll never leave him again.

“Does this mean you love me?” And it’s nothing more than a shot in the dark.

Zayn smiles and kisses his forehead, “Yeah, Niall, this means I love you.”