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Ghosts That We Knew

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Zayn has a habit of taking apart his gun, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. He feels a great satisfaction in knowing his weapons are perfect and pristine with no technical difficulties to hinder him from doing his job. But after he takes his gun apart for the umpteenth time, he leans back in his chair and shuts his eyes, rubbing his heavy lids with his fingertips. There's a bar across the street from the motel, and he could use a drink. Perhaps a few. Or more.

It feels strange to be alone. There's a constant ringing in his ears, and he expects a voice to interrupt the silence, telling him about a case in the next city. But as usual, there is nothing. It's been a year since the death of his partner, and he should have gotten used to it by now, but he doesn't think he ever will. It's like living with a ghost. A whisper of a memory that he feels at all hours of the day, and it almost drives him insane, but he won't let it.

He stands, and suddenly halts when his cell phone rings. There's only one person who has the number to this phone, so he quickly picks up in the middle of the second ring.

"Bobby?"

"Where you been, boy?" came Bobby's gruff voice from the other side of the line. "Can't even check in once in a while to let me know you're alive?"

Zayn pauses and he scratches the back of his head. He feels terrible for practically dropping off the face of the planet, but he had his reasons. "Sorry, Bobby," is all he can say. "You got anything for me?"

He hears Bobby's resigned sigh, "You been reading the papers?"

"Yeah, but nothing out of the ordinary. I thought the vampire phenomenon in Boston was because of a nest, but it's just preteens taking Twilight too far."

"There's something else here," Bobby says, and Zayn can hear the rustling of papers, "You heard of Harry Styles?"

"Vaguely."

"He's currently on his world tour, and there've been deaths at the majority of his shows. Some of them made out to be accidents, and some of them not."

Zayn's interest is piqued, "Murders?"

Yep. His management is trying to keep it as under the radar as possible, but you can't really shut people up when there's fans dropping like flies."

"When's he coming to the U.S.?"

"He's already here," Bobby replies. "He's got a show next week. You on it?"

Zayn pushes the magazine into the gun, and he hears that satisfying click when it slides in. He sets the gun down, takes a few seconds to think it over, but it's really all he needs. He'll grab any case just for the sake of keeping his mind busy, so he accepts. "I'm on it."

- - -

Bobby emails Zayn a copy of Harry Styles' tour dates, and Zayn questions when the hell Bobby learned to use a computer. The older hunter wasn't a big fan of modern technology save for much needed cell phones.

Zayn doesn't waste time in tackling the job, and he pulls into the Staples Center parking lot, his suit newly pressed, and a concealed weapon beneath his jacket. Right now, he couldn't say who or what could be behind the killings, and for all he knew, it could be some homicidal superfan. But then again, it could be something else. And "something else" was his specialty.

He flashes his fake FBI badge to the security up front, and they step aside so he can make his way into the building. It's a busy scene, gearing up for a show next week, and everyone is taking extra precaution just in case another "accident" were to happen.

"Hello, excuse me! Hello!" comes a shrill voice from behind, so Zayn turns around and is face to face with a man with glasses and tired eyes. "I'm Louis Tomlinson, the tour manager. Can I help you?"

Zayn takes out his badge again, "I'm Agent Winchester," he uses an old alias, reluctant to ever give his real name during his hunts, "I hear you've got a bit of a situation."

Louis lets out a short laugh, "A situation? That's an understatement. I didn't know the Feds would be on this."

"A line of murders following a high profile celebrity calls for more than just the usual security you've got here, Mr. Tomlinson. I'm going to need to interview your crew."

Zayn sets up in an office in the venue, and the security and crew are sent in one by one for him to question. He gets the same answer each time. They state that there's always nothing out of the ordinary when shows start, and even when they've beefed up security with police at every entrance, along with searching every single person from head to toe, somehow, something would get through. The murders were always violent, and by the time everyone cleared out, crew members would always stumble across a dead body with a knife in the chest, hanged, or a crushed skull. It was different every time, like the killer had a thing for being creative. Management had considered calling off the tour, but greed surpassed safety, and they opted for downplaying the deaths as accidents, and keeping the information away from the public. It was fucked up.

He makes his way backstage, checking for anything suspicious and out of the ordinary, but it's just the usual equipment. Zayn knows he won't find anything right now, but it never hurts to take precautions. He takes out an EMF meter and slowly walks around, waiting for a spike, but he's abruptly interrupted by a voice.

"What's that?"

Zayn quickly turns off the device, tucks it in his jacket pocket, and he turns to see who the voice belongs to. It's a boy, half hidden behind large boxes, peeking out shyly. His messy curls are held back by a scarf, and his green eyes are twinkling and curious. He steps out, and Zayn immediately recognizes him.

"Mr. Styles, I'm Agent Winchester," he quickly flashes his badge. "I'm here to investigate the murders. Mind if I ask you a few questions?"

Harry twists his fingers nervously, "I've told them I want to call off the tour," he says in a shaky voice. "But everyone's telling me they'll take care of it."

"They're certainly doing the best they can," Zayn replies, "Mr. Styles, have you noticed anything suspicious? Anyone on your crew, your band, your management acting off? Not quite themselves?"

"Erm..." Harry pauses, his face twisting in concentration, then he shakes his head. "Not that I've noticed. Everyone's just been a bit jumpy. They don't even tell me when something's happened, like I'm some kind of fragile child who needs protection from that kind of information."

"Maybe they just don't want to alarm you."

"I'd rather hear it from them than have to read about it in the paper."

Zayn gives a curt nod, and he quickly continues with his questions, "Do you have any enemies? Anyone you would think would want to harm you?"

Harry scoffs, "Thousands of people. It's not a complete day if I don't get a few death threats here and there, but it's normal. And I know you mean, like, personal enemies. I don't have those, I think. I haven't gotten close enough to people for that."

"Right, well," Zayn pulls out a card from his pocket, and he hands it to Harry. "I'll be sticking around, and I'll see this through. If there's any suspicion, any at all, contact me on this number." He gives Harry a quick smile before turning to walk off.

- - -

Zayn gets a room at a nearby motel, and he has enough money to stay for about a week, thanks to his talent for tricking people out of their money during rounds of pool, or credit card scams. Being a hunter doesn't pay, so he has to think of creative ways to sustain himself. It's not honest, but it'll have to do.

It's still too early to figure out what could be terrorizing people on Harry Styles' tour, and he's unsure if the one behind it is human or monster. But he's prepared, nonetheless, and dumps out the contents of his duffle bag on the bed. There's salt and rock salt shells, blessed crucifixes and scapulars, holy water, and his most prized possession; a blade. He picks it up, slowly removes it from its sheath, and he inspects it carefully. No matter how many times it's used, the blade never dulls, and it shines brightly whenever it catches the light. He's unsure of the origins of this blade, but it once belonged to his late partner, a skilled hunter in his own right, who met his end during a job. Zayn kept the blade, not for sentimental reasons, but because it had the ability to kill what was deemed unkillable. Demons, mainly.

He slides the blade back in the sheath when his phone rings, and he quickly grabs it to answer.

"Agent Winchester," comes Louis' urgent voice on the other line. "Something's happened."

- - -

A man's throat was slit just outside the Staples Center, and his eyes were gouged out as well. It's a grisly scene, but Zayn is desensitized to this sort of thing, so rather than inspect the body, he searches for clues around it.

"Are there cameras out here?" Zayn asks Liam Payne, head of Harry's security.

"Yeah," Liam replies. "There's cameras covering this entire area."

"Alright, I'm gonna need access to those tapes immediately," Zayn crouches down by the body, scanning his eyes over it to see if there's anything he might have missed. There's something on the man's clothes, a yellow powdery substance that is all too familiar to Zayn. He scoops some up on his finger, and brings it up to his nose to catch its scent, just to be sure.

It's sulfur. Clear evidence of demonic activity. This is enough for him to believe that demons are behind the killings, but now the question is, why would they waste their time on Harry? Most demons do not wreak havoc randomly, as they are intelligent and ancient beings who don't exert energy on the unnecessary. And whatever the reason is, Zayn will find it.

Harry's achievement of worldwide fame makes Zayn a little suspicious, as it's clearly a one in a billion thing. There are many instances of individuals striking a deal with a Crossroads Demon, and many people are desperate enough to hand over their soul just for a handful of years of fame. Perhaps that's what Harry did. Though he doesn't seem like the type of boy to willingly hand over his soul in exchange for a life of luxury, Zayn can't really base it all entirely on a few minutes of interaction.

- - -

Harry sits curled up on the couch, his feet tucked in, and he's gripping a mug of chamomile tea so tightly, his hands are trembling a little. Zayn hopes there's something extra in that mug. Tea can't possibly do much.

"How are you feeling?" Zayn asks, taking a seat across from him, and glancing around at the same time. The hotel suite is huge, and it puts his tiny room at the motel to shame. This type of wealth has to be the result of a Crossroads deal.

"Confused," Harry replies. "Scared. Mostly, scared. I don't know why this is happening."

The boy's fright is so genuine, like he had never been exposed to any type of violence, or anything out of the ordinary. As if something like this is completely unexpected.

"Harry," Zayn leans forward, looking completely earnest. "If I'm to get to the bottom of this, you are going to have to be completely honest with me."

Harry shifts in his seat, and he seems a little nervous, but he nods. "I am honest. I mean, I have been."

Zayn offers a faint smile, but it fades a second later, and he lowers his voice, "Do you recall any deals you've made?"

"Deals?"

"Yes. A deal. Your fame for something very important. Something close to you. Perhaps it sounds a little bizarre, but I need to be thorough, and you need to be honest."

Confusion comes across Harry's face, and he takes a moment to think about it, "You're right, that does sound bizarre. I'm not sure what you're asking, Agent Winchester, but I don't remember making any deals like that."

Zayn likes to think he's quite skilled when it comes to reading people, and what he gets from Harry is genuine confusion, and maybe undertones of annoyance. The annoyance doesn't bother Zayn. As long as no deals were made, he can rule out having to deal with a Crossroads Demon. But the downside is, he still isn't quite sure what type of demon he is dealing with, nor does he know why they're here. There has to be something he is missing, and he knows he is limited on time.

- - -

The surveillance from yesterday's murder is playing on Zayn's laptop, and he speeds up to the time the killing had taken place. He watches the man, who would eventually be the victim, making his way into view. The man suddenly stops, for absolutely no reason, and Zayn straightens up in his seat, his eyes fixed on the scene before him. The man stands there, motionless for two long minutes, then he bends over and picks up a big glass shard from the ground, raises it to his throat, and drags the sharp edge over his skin. The blood spurts from the wound, and his body jerks before it collapses on a heap on the ground.

It's a macabre and disturbing sight, but Zayn watches it a few more times just in case there's something he might have looked over. And on what he intends to be his last repeat, he catches something interesting, but not surprising.

For a brief second, before he takes his own life, the man's eyes turn pitch black.

- - -

"Demon possessions?"

"Yeah," Zayn is pinning the cell phone between his ear and shoulder while he taps away on his laptop, looking up information on Harry's background, "It's clear what's going on, but the question is why."

"You're gonna need to trap one," Bobby says, "Make it talk."

Zayn can't find anything out of the ordinary concerning Harry's past, but the internet can only provide so much, "There's got to be something about this boy. A reason why a demon would be interested in him."

"You could always--"

"Bobby, if you're going to say that I have to be all matey-types with him, then you can--"

"Look, I know you're allergic to human relationships and contact, but it's a job. Think of it as playing a part, which you already are, so it's not that much of a stretch."

Zayn knows Bobby is right, though he would rather work at this alone. Ever since his last partner died on the job, Zayn had developed a preference for a solitary life, save for the occasional correspondence with Bobby. But he needs to wrap this case up before someone else falls victim to these possessions.

His other phone rings, the one that Harry and his management have access to, so he quickly answers. There can't possibly be another murder now.

"... Agent Winchester?" comes Harry's hesitant voice on the other line. "It's, um, it's me. Harry."

"Are you okay? Is something wrong?"

"Well, no, not exactly."

"Then what can I do for you, Harry?"

There's a pause, and Harry stammers a little bit before speaking again, "I know everyone's just trying to do what's best, and it's selfish of me to say, but it's kind of miserable being on lockdown. And I was thinking that maybe if I'm with you, they'll ease up a bit. So can't you just go somewhere with me? Anywhere? Just for a few hours."

Zayn sighs a little, and he rubs the bridge of his nose. He can hear Bobby's voice in his head, urging him to take this chance, so he gives in. "Two hours tops. No more than that. Get ready, I'll swing by your hotel."

- - -

Harry is definitely taking advantage of this precious time away from the watchful eye of his handlers, and he knocks back the last gulp of his second beer. Zayn orders a third drink for Harry in hopes that he'll get drunk faster, and he'll get to send him back to the hotel a little earlier than planned.

"You know..." Harry mumbles in between sips of his beer. "You look awfully young to be FBI. Like, really young."

"And yet, here I am with a gun and badge," Zayn's eyes are fixed on the bottles of alcohol behind the bar, and he's dying for a drink, but he convinces himself that he needs to stay alert.

"What made you want to be an, um--" Harry hiccups. "An agent?"

Zayn leans forward, resting his elbows on the counter, and he glances at Harry whose cheeks are tinted red, and green eyes all glazed over, looking at him with such interest. It makes Zayn a little uncomfortable, and he's unsure about this turning into a questionnaire about him, when it should be about Harry.

"I had nothing left," Zayn replies tersely. "So if anything happened, I'd have nothing to lose. Might as well do some good out there while I've still got it in me."

Harry is quiet, and Zayn hopes he's slumped over in his seat, knocked out. But when he turns to look at the boy, his eyes are still fixed on Zayn, regarding him in a way that causes him to scoot back on the edge of his seat.

"That's beautiful," Harry slurs. "The stuff you're saying. Not that... I mean, not that having nothing left is beautiful. I guess the way you still want to do good in the world, I like that."

Zayn clears his throat, "Uh, thanks."

"I think you're kinda beautiful too."

The statement almost causes Zayn to fall off his seat, and by this time, he was itching and desperate for a drink, so he quickly orders a shot of whiskey, and he picks it up and downs it the second it's set down in front of him. It eases his nerves and discomfort, and in a way, helps his focus.

"What's your family like?" Zayn asks. "Tell me something I can't read about on the internet."

Harry finishes half of his beer, and he pauses for a moment, "Um, well, I've got my mum and my sister. And..." his brows furrow, and he takes a generous gulp, then he sets down his glass. "The media doesn't really talk about my father. My publicist makes sure that it's to a minimum, for good reason."

Zayn doesn't say anything, and he waits for Harry to continue.

"He left when I was about two, so I don't remember anything about him. Mum won't talk about him, we don't even have photos of him around. The only things I have left of him are his last name and this necklace," Harry touches a plain silver cross hanging around his neck. "I haven't taken it off, ever. My sister has the same one. Funnily enough, mum doesn't say anything about it."

An absent and mystery father. Zayn isn't sure what to do with this information, but he's going to use everything that he can. "What's his name?"

"Theodore. Or just Ted."

Tonight, he'll do research on this elusive Theodore Styles, and maybe he'll get Bobby to help. But right now, he needs to get Harry back to the hotel.

"He was gone a lot," Harry says after finishing his drink. He is swaying in his seat at this point. "My sister told me that. She said she'd only see him once a month. And one day, he just never came back." He looks at Zayn, and he hiccups again. "Weird, right? How someone just... disappears like that."

"You never tried to look for him?"

"I typed his name into the Facebook search bar, once."

Zayn sighs, then he takes a hold of Harry's arm, "Alright, you drunkard. Time for us to get back to the hotel."

Harry lets out a whine, but he doesn't fight being pulled off the stool, "I'm not done! I've still... I've still got that top row of bottles to finish. Unhand me, you fiend!" He struggles a little when they exit the bar, but once they reach the sidewalk, he leans against Zayn and tries to walk straight.

The hotel is about a block away, which isn't that bad of a walk, and Zayn hopes that a little fresh air will help Harry sober up. But the shift in the air suddenly changes, and he catches a whiff of something that always puts a cold dread in his chest, no matter how many times he's come across it.

Sulfur.

He makes no sudden movements, but instead of walking back to Harry's hotel, he crosses the street towards his motel. Harry is too tipsy to question anything, so he just stumbles along, speaking incoherently in slurred speech.

Zayn unlocks the door to his room, and he quickly steps inside. He shuts it, but decides to leave it unlocked, then he pushes Harry behind him. He has the blade in his hand, and he waits anxiously for what will come through that door.

"Is this your house?" Harry is sitting cross-legged on the floor, and he looks around with his mouth open. "It's very small."

Zayn rolls his eyes, and he's about to say something, but the door slams open, and his head whips back around. He tightens his grip on the blade when he sees a woman standing just outside the room. She's young, in her early twenties, wearing a loose white dress, and with hair that's long, black, and wild.

"Hi, sweetheart," she grins. "I won't wait for an invitation to come in, so if you don't mind." She steps inside, and starts advancing towards him, but she doesn't get more than a few feet into the room, when she's suddenly held back by an invisible force. Her face screws up in confusion, then a few seconds later, she smirks. "Smart." She looks up, and there are sigils drawn on the stucco ceiling; a Devil's Trap. A group of symbols that effectively traps demons within its circle, rendering them weak and powerless.

"Look at you, caught like a little roach in a trap," Zayn holds up the blade, and the woman's expression is full with fear and recognition. She hisses, tries to retreat, and her eyes turn pitch black.

There's a scream behind Zayn, and he realizes he's momentarily forgotten Harry was there. He curses to himself, then he looks over his shoulder. The boy is backed up in a corner, and he's pointing at the demon.

"What's wrong with her eyes?!" he wails, then he looks up at the ceiling, and he sees the sigils. "And what's that... Satanist scribbling on your ceiling? Is this a cult?!"

Zayn lowers the blade, and he faces Harry, "I know I owe you an explanation, but I'm gonna need you to just sit tight for now," he turns back to the demon. "You better start talking."

The demon bites her lip, and her eyes move past Zayn, and fixes on Harry, "There he is, the man of the hour. The golden boy."

"Don't speak to him," Zayn snaps. "Don't even look at him. As far as you're concerned, it's just you and I in this room."

She smiles, and crosses her arms, "Zayn Malik, hunter extraordinaire. We were all taking bets on whether you'd get involved. You know... I was kind of hoping you would. We could use a challenge."

"Agent Winchester, w-why is she calling you Zayn--"

"Harry," Zayn interrupts him. "Later."

The demon laughs, "Telling lies so early in the relationship?"

This was getting so messy, and Zayn knows he needs to regain control of the situation, so he walks over to Harry, and crouches down in front of him to get on eye level.

"I promise I'll tell you everything," he puts a hand on the boy's shoulder, and he squeezes lightly, taking note of how much he's trembling. "I just need you to be calm right now, and let me deal with this." When Harry nods wordlessly, Zayn pats his cheek, and stands up, turning his attention back to the demon.

"Lover's quarrel?" she croons.

Zayn's patience runs out, and he's had it with the demon's cockiness. He moves close to her, and without any warning, he slashes her arm with the blade. She lets out a cry, and stumbles back, then she narrows her eyes and growls at him.

"Keep it up, and I'll bury this in your gut," he holds up the blade, then he puts a few feet of distance between them. "Now give me your name."

"Zayn, I quite like you. You have fire, and I respect it. But you're an absolute fool if you think I'll tell you anything."

Without saying anything, he pulls a flask from his backpack, twists it open, and tosses the contents on the demon. She lets out a scream when her flesh starts burning, smoke visibly rising from where the water hits.

"If you don't start talking, you'll get another douse of holy water," Zayn shakes the flask, then he sets it back down. "And if you keep making this difficult for me, I'll use the blade and send your ass back to Hell, which I know you don't want. So let's cut the bullshit."

She's kneeling on the ground, breathing hard, and recovering from the burns caused by the holy water. "This could've been civil," she says in between heavy gasps. "But you'll have to kill me, because I'm not telling you a damn thing."

Zayn shrugs, then he advances, raising the blade, "Very well."

She quickly holds up a hand, and shouts, "Wait! Wait..." Zayn halts in his steps, and he watches her shakily rise to her feet. "My name is Maroth. And what you're trying to do is hopeless. He--" she jabs a finger at Harry, "-- can't be saved. His fate is sealed. It's written in the stars, and it can't be undone."

"I'm going to need you to elaborate."

"Maybe you should look a little into his family history, and you'll find your answers there. But it doesn't matter. You can't save him. Now let me out."

Zayn nods, steps back, and takes a deep breath before he starts to chant, "Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus--"

"No!" she screams, "Stop! Let me out!"

"-- Omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica."

"They're going to kill him! And you can't save him, they're going to rip him to shreds--"

"Ergo, draco maledicte. Ecclesiam tuam securi tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos."

Zayn finishes the exorcism, and a black smoke pours out of the girl's mouth, disappearing once it hits the floor. The girl, now purged of the demon, collapses in a heap, and Zayn quickly rushes over to her to check for a pulse.

- - -

It takes a while to calm Harry down, but Zayn eventually convinces him to leave the motel room. They drop the unconscious girl off at the hospital before speeding back to Harry's hotel. He's completely sober now, and he shakes occasionally, but he remains quiet. Zayn knows Harry is a little traumatized with what he had witnessed earlier, so they don't talk about it just yet.

Zayn puts Harry to bed, but he refuses to go to sleep until Zayn promises to stay rather than go back to the motel. He gives into Harry's request, and he uses the couch for the night. He plans to call Bobby after Harry falls asleep, but his exhaustion gets the better of him, and the next time he opens his eyes, light is streaming in through the windows.

- - -

Harry insists that Zayn stays in a room on the same floor, and even though Zayn tries to get out of it, he finds himself giving in. He drops his backpack and duffle bag on his new, plush bed while Harry sits on the couch with a blanket wrapped around him so tightly, only his face is showing.

"So your real name is Zayn Malik."

"Yeah."

"And you're a hunter. And you're not really an FBI agent."

"Yes."

"There's such things as demons, vampires, werewolves, witches, monsters."

"A lot more than that, but yeah."

Harry groans, and he completely disappears under the blanket. Zayn feels a little bad for him, so he walks to the couch, sits down, and puts a hand on the blanketed lump that's Harry's head.

"Am I going to die?" comes a muffled voice.

"No," Zayn replies, and tries to tug the blanket off Harry, but the boy stays tightly snug underneath it. "Hey, listen, you're not going to die. I'm damn good at what I do."

After a moment, Harry reappears from beneath the blanket, his eyes are wide and tired, and his hair is rumpled. "Have plenty of people died from something like this?"

Zayn hesitates before nodding, "Yeah, a lot of people have died. But you're not going to be one of them."

"How do you know? That... that demon said my fate is sealed, meaning there's no chance for me."

"We each make our own fate. Absolutely nothing is written in the stars, so you need to not think like that. Get it out of your head that it's carved in stone because it's not."

Harry falls into silence, and he's staring ahead at nothing in particular. His tired eyes blink slowly, like they're trying to focus, then he rubs them, and lets out a soft sigh. "Can I ask you something?"

If a person starts off with that, Zayn notices that the questions aren't usually good, but he indulges Harry, and nods.

"Have you seen someone die from something like this?"

Zayn is right. The question isn't something he wants to answer, or even acknowledge, but he doesn't want to leave Harry hanging. He stalls for a moment, trying to push back the wave of intense guilt that washes over him whenever he thinks about it. "My last partner. He was possessed, and there was nothing anyone could do," he winces, and his chest grows heavy with sorrow. "It was the first time I failed, and it's also my last."

Harry disappears under the blanket again, but this time, he leans against Zayn, and tries to wrap the blanket around him too. They sit in silence for a few minutes, and Zayn thinks that Harry has dozed off, but he speaks up again. "Do you ever get scared?"

A faint smile crosses Zayn's lips, and he nods, "All the time. But I know it's a good thing to be scared. Fear makes me faster, more alert, and it keeps me alive. So I'm not embarrassed to admit I'm scared."

"Are you scared now?"

"The most scared I've ever been."

Harry smiles, rests his head on Zayn's shoulder, and shuts his eyes.

- - -

"You said the demon's name was Maroth?"

Zayn is leaning against the railing of the balcony, cigarette in hand, and a phone in the other, as he listens to the shuffle of pages coming from Bobby on the other line. "Yeah, you got anything on it?"

"Says here that Maroth is a nocturnal demon, and pretty high up on Hell's chain of command. If you were just some inexperienced, green behind the ears hunter, you would've been hellhound chow in seconds."

Zayn looks through the glass door, and he watches Harry, who is sitting on the bed and flipping through channels. He has a few leads, and he hopes something will come out of them. Harry looks away from the TV, catches Zayn's eye, and he waves. Zayn smiles weakly, and he waves back.

"Here's something..." Bobby says, "It says here Maroth works for another demon named Asyriel. There are sixteen demons working for him, and all of them aren't exactly the run-of-the-mill worker bees. You have your work cut out for you, kid. Let me send some help your way."

"No, Bobby."

"We are talking about high ranking demons here, you idjit. You're just one hunter."

Zayn finishes his cigarette, and flicks it to the ground, "One more favor. Can you look into someone named Theodore Styles? Or maybe he went by Ted Styles."

"Ted Styles? Is this Harry's mystery father? I worked with a Theodore back in Omaha, but--"

"Worked with someone named Theodore? What was his last name?"

"Never got it. It was a quick shapeshifter case, then we parted ways."

"Was there anything about him that stood out? Anything you can remember. Tattoos, mannerisms, anything."

There's a pause, then Bobby continues, "Mannerisms? He kept rubbing a silver cross dangling from his neck."

Zayn freezes, and it's as if the wind is knocked out of him. Why didn't he put it together in the beginning? A father only showing up once a month or less, Harry's silver cross, the demon attacks. It had been so obvious, and he's furious at himself for not figuring it out sooner.

Theodore Styles is a hunter.

- - -

Over the course of the past few days, Harry had come face to face with a demon, and the existence of the paranormal had come to light, and now he is finding out that his father is a hunter. He buries his face in his hands, and he stays like that until Zayn squeezes his shoulder.

"Is there anything you know about your father, or his side of the family? Anything you tell me will help."

Harry rubs his forehead with his fingers, then he takes a deep breath, "I... I don't know. I've never met anyone from my dad's side, and mum doesn't talk about it. I don't think she even knows much. The only thing she's told me is that my grandparents, on my dad's side, are dead. That's really all I have."

Zayn is a little stuck at the moment, but he is toying with something that can be risky. Though "risky" is a bit of an understatement. His current plan is outright dangerous, but at the moment, he has no other choice.

- - -

Only three days remain until Harry's first show, and Zayn has to act quickly, especially when he's limited on time and desperate to get more answers. He salts the doorways and windowsills of his hotel room, and he tells Harry to stay there. Zayn decides it's best not to go into full detail about his plans, and so he breezes out the door before Harry can pelt him with questions.

There is an empty warehouse about a block away from the hotel, and Zayn hasn't seen anyone come in or out. He uses spray paint to draw a Devil's Trap on the floor, and he sets up candles along with a bowl with mixed herbs, everything that is needed for the ritual to summon a demon. But Zayn doesn't want to summon just any demon; he wants someone working for Asyriel.

He slices the flesh on his hand with a knife, squeezes a few drops of blood into the bowl, then he quickly lights a match, and casts that in as well.

"Et ad congregandum... Eos coram me."

Flames rise from the bowl, and Zayn takes a step back as the dwindle down, then he watches as a figure starts to materialize within the trap. The black mass forms into a man, in his early thirties, wearing a business suit. He looks down, sees he's caught in the Devil's Trap, then his eyes flash black, and he smiles.

"You're the one who sent Maroth back to Hell," he says in a voice like smooth velvet. "Hopefully, I won't have to suffer the same fate?"

Zayn's lip curls a little, "We'll see."

The demon begins to pace around the trap, "I was wondering when I would get to meet you. The young hunter who wields a demon-killing weapon. May I see it?"

"If you don't answer my questions, then I can assure you, you will see it."

The demon laughs, shakes his head, and crosses his arms, "Zayn, I'm not here to fight. I haven't time for Asyriel's games with hunters. To be frank with you, I find it quite petty."

"Don't you work for him? Which one are you?"

"'Which one are you?' Hunters truly lack courtesy. Perhaps if you asked in a more polite manner--"

"Which one are you, bitch?"

The demon heaves a dramatic sigh, "You are a work of art, really. I'm Astor."

"Alright, Astor. For your sake, you better start talking. What are your boss's plans for Harry? And why is he doing this?"

Astor continues to pace, "Cutting right to the chase, aren't we? I was hoping for a little bit of small-talk. How are you, Zayn? I know you haven't been well since your partner died--"

"Shut up."

"-- It's always a tragic thing to lose a brother."

"Shut up!" Zayn steps forward, brandishing the blade.

Astor's playful demeanor fades, and he holds up two hands in surrender, "Okay, Zayn. Since I like you, I'll tell you what I know," he stops pacing, and slides his hands into his pockets. "Asyriel likes to make deals, especially ones he knows will go awry after a while. He enjoys it. Giving instant gratification in exchange for long-term pain."

"Does he make deals in exchange for souls?"

"It goes further than that, Zayn. Like I said, 'long-term.' You may or may not know, but Harry Styles comes from a family of hunters. Incredibly skilled hunters that go back for generations. Naturally, it didn't sit too well with Hell's population, so Asyriel thought he'd have a bit of fun," Astor checks his watch, "Will this take long? I have to be at court soon."

"Were you arrested?"

"Me? No. I'm possessing a lawyer."

Zayn rolls his eyes, "Of course you are. Just... go on."

Astor glances at his watch again, and sighs, but he continues with the story, "Rather than just kill his enemies, Asyriel likes to toy with them first. I'd give you a reason as to why, but I have none other than, well, he is a demon. I don't think you need much of an explanation there. So, Asyriel first targeted Harry's great-grandfather, inflicting his wife with an incurable disease. Knowing hunters, the first option they go for when it comes to the impossible, is to make a deal with a demon. Long story short, he strikes up a deal with Asyriel, and in exchange for his wife's health, he will offer the soul of every first-born son, in every generation, in his direct family line. He thought he could dodge the deal by not having children, but accidents do happen," Astor shrugs. "That resulted in Harry's grandfather being killed, as he was the first-born son. And just recently, Harry's father had passed."

"What?" Zayn's eyes widen. "How long ago was this?"

"Several months ago. He thought if he left home, and hunted Asyriel down, then he would give Harry a fighting chance. But, as you see, a lot of good that did, eh?" the demon laughs dryly. "Asyriel is just toying with Harry, at this point. Stirring things up by leaving a trail of bodies. This is his last kill, fully eliminating the promise of new hunters in the Styles family line. It will end with Harry, if he's successful. He wants to go out with a bang."

"When is he going to stop letting his minions do the dirty work, and show up himself?"

"Well, I don't know--"

Zayn holds up the blade.

"-- but there's a rumor he's going to strike on the next full moon, though you didn't hear that from me. Now can I go? I've been craving pancakes, and I intend on getting some before work."

Zayn hesitates a little, but he bends down and scratches at the paint to break the trap, and free the demon. He quickly straightens up, takes a few steps back, and keeps his weapon in front of him in a defensive stance. "Why did you help me?"

Astor steps out from the broken trap, and he looks at Zayn, "I like you. I think you're tough. And it never hurts to have a hunter as an ally," he pauses for a moment. "Also, maybe because I want Asyriel knocked down a few notches. He's such a dick. Anyway, pancake time." He snaps his fingers, and disappears.

- - -

Harry is quiet after Zayn explains everything to him, leaving nothing out, since it wouldn't be fair to keep the boy in the dark. But Harry just sits there, rubbing the small silver cross between his fingers, like he needs time to properly process everything that's been happening, and Zayn can't blame him.

He takes a deep breath, and finally speaks, "The demon liked pancakes?"

Zayn chuckles a little, "He was an absolute nut-job."

"Why did he help you? Is he on our side?"

"The thing about demons, Harry, is that they're on no one's side except their own. They don't help others out of the goodness of their hearts. There's always a reason. But whatever it is, I'll take it. He told me enough."

Harry looks down at his silver cross, and he runs his thumb over it, "My dad, he was trying to save me. And he didn't care if I ended up resenting him all my life for not being here. As long as I was safe." His eyes slowly fill with tears, and he quickly brushes his fingers against them, "Fuck. Well, the more you know, huh?"

Zayn chews on his bottom lip, hesitates a little, then he looks up, "You remember my partner that I was telling you about? The one who died? Well, um, he... he was my older brother. Elias. He was amazing. He was the best damn hunter out there. He was careful and brilliant, and he was everything I wanted to be," his voice cracks, and Harry reaches out for his hand, holding it tightly. "His guard was down for a second, and a demon got him. It was something strong. Too strong. I couldn't exorcise it, so I had to..." his chest tightened, and he couldn't go on, but a second later, Harry's arms were around him. The boy's strong grip and warmth comforted and relaxed Zayn enough to continue, "I had to use Elias' knife. I killed the demon, but killed my brother in the process. I just... went insane after that. Dropped off the radar, took all the jobs I could find, destroyed every monster I came in contact with, and honed my skills. But everything's felt so damn empty. I expect to hear his voice at any second, then I snap back to reality and I realize I'm alone."

Harry doesn't let him go. He squeezes him a little tighter until Zayn is completely relaxed against his body, "I'm sorry you're hurting so much," he says quietly. "But none of it was your fault. You didn't kill your brother. That demon did," he gently rubs Zayn's back. "You've lost a lot, and yet, you're here trying to save my life. It says a lot about a person."

Zayn pulls away, and he shakes his head, "I'm not an angel, Harry. I'm no hero either. This is just my job."

"Is that all I am?" Harry asks. "Just a job?"

And before Zayn can answer, Harry's lips are suddenly on his. It catches Zayn off guard, and he's not sure what to do. It's not as if he's a prude, but he hasn't been physically close to anyone in a while, and now Harry is kissing him. Another reason why it startles Zayn is because he had never been with a boy. The thought just never really occurred to him, but he realizes he's not pulling back. He's kissing Harry too, melting into him, and tasting the inside of his mouth. He's warm, and he smells good, and his body feels soft and strong at the same time. Zayn's fingers curl into Harry's hair, and he tugs on it a little to pull his head back.

"What is this?" Zayn murmurs. "What are we doing?"

Harry moves to straddle Zayn's lap, "If I die, I don't want to regret anything. I don't want to think about how I was too cowardly to kiss the gorgeous FBI agent."

"Fake FBI agent, remember?"

Harry laughs, and he pushes Zayn down, then lays on top of him, "I prefer you as a hunter, anyway."

Zayn grabs a hold of Harry's hips, and flips their position so that he's now on top. He stares down at the boy, and runs his fingertips over his face, down his neck, and across his collarbones. Zayn thinks Harry is beautiful, with his wide green eyes, red-tinted cheeks, and full lips. In a world of demons, here is one angel. Zayn takes a hold of the small silver cross, lightly rubbing it between his fingers, "Don't ever take this off. It'll help keep you safe."

"And what about you?" Harry reaches down, unbuckling Zayn's jeans. "Who will keep you safe?"

Zayn doesn't say anything as he squirms out of his jeans, and sits up to pull his shirt over his head. Harry is scrambling to rid himself of his clothes, and in the middle of their mad dash to see who can get naked first, their foreheads bump awkwardly, causing them to laugh.

"I'm sorry," Harry starts to say. "It's been a while--"

"It's okay," Zayn interrupts him. "Been a while for me too." He smiles, and leans down to kiss Harry again, enjoying the warmth of his lips, how his tongue tastes like cinnamon gum, and the way they seem to fit perfectly together. His hand slides down Harry's stomach, and he stops to squeeze the boy's flesh between his fingers. Harry whimpers, and Zayn breaks the kiss for a moment to see that his cheeks had become redder, and his expression, almost embarrassed. He realizes why, and he smiles before pecking his nose. "Your body is beautiful. I think you're perfect, okay?"

Zayn's hand travels further down, and his fingertips graze against the taut skin of Harry's cock, already hard and pressing against his stomach. Zayn can't help but regard it as something new, something very different than what he's used to, and yet, it was also all too familiar. All he wants is to make Harry feel good and relaxed, and maybe they'll both temporarily forget the mess they're in. Zayn grasps Harry with his fingers, and he gives one firm experimental stroke, and a breathy sigh escapes Harry's lips. A bead of precum bubbles through the tip, and slides down Harry's length, and over Zayn's fingers.

"Please..." Harry whines as he writhes beneath Zayn.

Just that single word along with the desperation in Harry's eyes is all Zayn needs.

Zayn tries to savor each second. He really does. After all, isn't that the difference between making love and fucking for a quick orgasm? But he's eager and hungry for anything and everything Harry will give him. The way Harry is so tight around his fingers fuels his desire, and his movements become quick and jerky, and the only thing bringing him back down to focus is Harry's face when it's twisted in slight pain. That's not what Zayn wants. So when he's finally pushing into him, he moves slow, and he slides in, inch by inch, stopping whenever discomfort shows on Harry's face. They give each other long and lazy kisses until Zayn's cock is completely buried inside Harry, twitching for a bit of friction.

"Zayn..." Harry whimpers, digging his heels into the bed, and pushing up against Zayn.

"What?" Zayn says in between light kisses to Harry's neck. "Tell me what you want."

"Fuck me."

This is different. Better. Wilder. Zayn had always enjoyed sex on a physical level, but this barreled into all his senses, each of them alert and on fire. This is physical, mental, intense, and very nearly perfect. Zayn fucks Harry into the mattress, alternating between fast and slow, and finding rhythms that they both would like. Everything is new and experimental, and each touch is exciting and leaves their skin and muscles trembling. When Harry reaches his orgasm, his eyes shut, and his lips part, emitting a faint cry, and Zayn swears that he's seen nothing more beautiful than this, and if he had to give his life up for anything, he'd gladly do it for the boy in his arms.

- - -

Zayn is standing out on the balcony the next morning, watching the first rays of the sun turn the sky a light pink. He's finishing his first cigarette of the day while quietly contemplating what had happened last night. It was a spur of the moment, unplanned, and completely unexpected. But what surprises him the most, is that he's actually kind of... happy. His heart races and pounds at the thought of it, and it's so unlike him, it almost makes him embarrassed. He always believed that feelings would hinder his hunting and ruin his concentration, but he finds that it's giving him more drive and motivation. It's a curious thing, for his mind to change as quickly as it did, but not all strange events have to be supernatural.

He hears the sliding doors open, and then he feels familiar arms encircling his waist. Zayn smiles, puts out his cigarette, then turns to face him.

“You're up early,” he tucks a curl behind Harry's ear. “You don't wanna go back to sleep?”

Harry leans in, and presses his face against the side of Zayn's neck, “Can't sleep. I'm thinking too much.”

“About what?”

“Just about everything that's happening, and how impossible it all is. And about you. Mainly about you.”

“What about me?”

Harry sighs, and looks down, “I know it's your job, and I know you're good at it, but I don't want you getting hurt on my account.”

Zayn chuckles, and pulls back from him, “You've got demons trailing after you, and you're worried about me?” he nudges his arm. “Don't be. This is what I do.”

Harry frowns, and he continues to keep his eyes averted as he reaches for Zayn's hand, “After last night... it just makes it harder to think about losing you to anything. I don't want to be robbed of getting to know you.”

There's a short silence, then Zayn gently pats Harry's cheek, “Get dressed. I'll take you out, and maybe we can forget about everything for a while.”

- - -

Dates aren't exactly Zayn's forte, but he has to try, for Harry's sake. And to be honest, it's for his own mental health as well. A break in the middle of the crushing stress of a job is a good way to rejuvenate, and maintain his sanity.

And though he isn't the type to care about romancing someone after sex, he can't help but feel differently about Harry, which is another thing he can add to the list of curious changes.

They're lounging beneath the shade of a tree, in an isolated part of Griffith Park, and Harry's head is on Zayn's lap. An open picnic basket sits next to them consisting of a bottle of wine, and anything else they could get their hands on for an impromptu picnic.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” Harry asks while chewing on an apple slice.

“I just spent the night with you. There's no girlfriend.”

“You never know these days. Modern relationships aren't exactly the best examples of fidelity. Do you have a boyfriend, then?”

“Harry.”

Harry pops another apple slice in his mouth, and giggles.

“What about you?” Zayn twirls a lock of Harry's hair around his finger. “Have you got a list of girlfriends and boyfriends?”

Harry wrinkles his nose, “No. The media likes to blow it up. They see me within five feet of someone, and it's suddenly a relationship. And it was all PR. Everyone eats it up, and I stay relevant in the spotlight.”

“Tough life.”

“Hush. I know that's sarcasm. I know you think it's a first world problem, and it shouldn't even really count as a real problem, especially in the midst of everything that's happening,” Harry sits up and runs his fingers through his hair. “But being underneath a magnifying glass takes a toll on a person. It's exhausting, and really hurtful a majority of the time.”

Zayn is quiet for a moment, then he gently scratches up and down Harry's back.

“And now...” the boy continues. “I've got demons wanting to rip my heart out, so I guess I do have quite a good reason to complain.”

Zayn sighs, puts his arms around Harry, and tugs him close, “That last bit won't happen, I swear it. So I suppose you'll just have to stick with your tragic life of luxury and fake relationships.”

Harry laughs, and he leans into Zayn. For a second, Zayn forgets the danger breathing down their necks, and all he can focus on is Harry's laugh, and his bright green eyes, and how for the first time in months, he's feeling something other than emptiness.

- - -

The full moon is on the day of Harry's concert, and Zayn curses the perfect timing of it all. Asyriel seems to have a love for drama, and what better way to claim his last victim than after a big show.

Harry is nervous, and he's fiddling with his cross. He barely gets through soundcheck, and he insists that Zayn be within his sight at all times. He's quiet, and his hands shake, so he shoves them in his pockets, but it doesn't mask the anxiety. When people ask what's wrong, he just tells them that he's nervous about the show, but Zayn knows the real reason. Harry doesn't want to die.

They are alone in the dressing room, and Harry is latched to Zayn's side, while Zayn has his arms around him, pressing gentle kisses to the side of his head.

"I won't let anyone hurt you," Zayn promises. "I'm going to kill Asyriel tonight."

Harry doesn't say anything. He's barely talked all day, and when he does, it's only a few words at a time.

They can hear the crowd roaring, chanting Harry's name, and it's almost time for him to take the stage. There's a knock on the door, and Zayn quickly pulls away from Harry, giving a decent amount of distance.

"Mr. Styles?" a crew member opens the door, and sticks his head in, "It's time."

Harry looks at Zayn pleadingly, but Zayn just nudges him gently, and nods, "Go on. I'll keep you safe." And Harry unwillingly makes his way out the door.

- - -

Zayn has been to his share of rock concerts, but nothing like this. It was absolute mania. There is something far scarier about a crowd of teenage girls who look like they would rip throats out just to catch a glimpse of their idol. And he really can't help but smirk while thinking to himself "If they only knew." Since that first time in bed with Harry, they had repeated the act a few more times, the last time being this morning.

"He's mine," Zayn thinks furiously, as if the screaming crowd can hear him. He stakes a claim on Harry, and no one can have him. Not these girls, not the media, and most of all, not some demon.

Harry is brilliant on stage. He's like a demigod, commanding the attention of his followers. He says scream, and they scream. He says jump, and they jump. It's a type of power very few have, and Harry wields it effortlessly.

Throughout the show, Zayn scans his surroundings, trying to catch anything that may be suspicious, but absolutely nothing out of the ordinary stands out. As the concert comes to a close, he begins to get nervous, and his hand slides into his jacket to grip the hilt of his blade.

Harry is whisked off the stage after the last song, and Zayn immediately takes a hold of his arm, leading him out of the backstage area, down the long corridor, and outside to where the cars are waiting. He and Harry slide into the backseat of the car, and Zayn tells the driver to quickly drive to the hotel. Their hotel room's doorway and windows are salted, with Devil's Traps hidden beneath the carpet. Maybe it would be enough to hold off Asyriel to buy them more time. And maybe it would be enough time to ally himself with another hunter in the area. There was safety in numbers, after all.

"You were wonderful," Zayn whispers into Harry's ear, pulling him close. Harry clutches on to Zayn's shirt, lays his head on his shoulder, and nuzzles into his neck. But suddenly, the driver makes a sharp turn, taking them farther away from the hotel. "Uh, excuse me? The hotel is the other way."

The driver's face is shadowed, and Zayn can't quite make out his features. But when the man speaks, his voice is low, and hoarse, "We're not going to the hotel." Zayn looks at the rear-view mirror, trying to see the man's face, and what he sees makes his blood turn cold. The driver's eyes are blood red.

"Asyriel," Zayn hisses, and he reaches into his jacket for the blade.

"Not so fast," the demon waves his hand, and an invisible force pins Zayn's hands back against the seat.

Harry panics and screams Zayn's name before making a mad scramble for the blade, but with another wave of Asyriel's hand, Harry is frozen as well.

"What a turn of events!" Asyriel exclaims. "Now, you two mustn't be so sore with me. It is fate, after all. Especially for you, Harry. Can't do anything about a family curse, so please don't hold a grudge. As for you, Zayn. Well... this is just a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time." He stops the car, and before he gets out, he reaches back and grabs the blade, "Can't leave this lying around, can we? Now get out."

Their paralysis wears off, and Zayn leaves the car first, making sure he's shielding Harry at all times. And before Asyriel can speak, Zayn quickly steps forward, "Don't kill him. He's not a hunter. He hasn't been trained, and he doesn't know the first thing about the supernatural. He's not a threat," he takes a deep breath, "Take me instead. I've sent more of you to Hell than I can count."

Asyriel chuckles, "Is this love, Zayn? Are you trying to appeal to my humanity?" he clicks his tongue and shakes his head. "Sorry. Burned through that a millennia ago. And I'm done with playing at poor Harry's nerves, just look at him. How about I end this, and just kill you both? It will be romantic. The two of you killed in your prime, forever to burn side by side in Hell. Beautiful, right?"

Zayn has had enough of waiting, and his courage kicks in, so he lunges forward towards Asyriel, knocking him to the ground, which sends the blade tumbling out of the demon's grip. Zayn starts to reach for it, but Asyriel angrily waves a hand, which sends Zayn crashing against a tree. He groans, and picks himself up, then stumbles forward.

"You're not killing anyone tonight," Zayn says through gritted teeth. "The only one dying is you."

The demon laughs, and claps his hands together. “I have to commend your bravery, young hunter. The way you hold on to hope brings tears to the eyes. And I'm sure you instilled that same hope in Harry, here.” He snaps his fingers, and two demons emerge from the shadows. “I've heard your skills are unmatched, Zayn. I'd like to watch.”

Zayn glances towards Harry who is completely pale, frozen, and backed up against a tree, then he turns his attention back to the demons who had seemingly materialized. He suddenly makes a dash towards the blade, snatches it up, then he takes a deep breath, and advances.

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle,” Zayn says the prayer to himself, as a way to concentrate, and as extra ammunition, since the words seem to visibly weaken his adversaries. “Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil,” one of the demons, possessing a woman's body, lets out a screech and lunges at him, which he successfully dodges, and he uses his shoulder to knock her down. “May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts,” the male demon swings at him, and Zayn ducks down, then in one swift motion, buries the blade in the demon's stomach, “Thrust into Hell, Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl the world, seeking the ruin of souls,” he walks back to the woman, and she leaps at him again, but the blade pierces through her chest before she can make contact, “Amen.”

The fallen bodies, now void of demons, disintegrate into ash, and mix into the soil. Zayn takes a deep breath, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart, and he quickly looks up at Asyriel, who is grinning, and applauding.

“Beautiful! Oh, you are absolutely remarkable. A great talent. Such an unfortunate waste for you to die, but such is life.”

Zayn grits his teeth, and walks towards Asyriel with his weapon raised, but with just a flick of the demon's wrist, the blade flies out of his hand, and falls to the ground, several feet from them.

Asyriel walks to Zayn, and grabs him by the throat, "Do you know who killed Elias?" he sneers when all the blood drains from Zayn's face. "My brother did. You know on whose orders? Mine. I suppose it's fitting. I kill your brother, so you kill mine. But I haven't forgiven you, Zayn. Maybe it should be fair; an eye for an eye. But I will take both eyes, your arms, your legs, your lungs, your heart, oh, I'll take it all. Now that, to me, is fair."

His fingers tighten around Zayn's throat, and Zayn tries to struggle out of Asyriel's iron grasp, but to no avail. Without his weapons, he only had the strength of a human, and was no match for a high-ranking demon. Zayn's vision darkens and his heartbeat slows. He has failed. He failed Harry, Bobby, and Elias. Asyriel will be free to wreak more havoc, kill more people, and claim more souls, all because Zayn wasn't strong enough.

I'm sorry... are the last words in Zayn's mind before he shuts his eyes, giving into death. But a moment later, Asyriel's grip falters, and loosens, and a rush of air fills Zayn's lungs. He falls to the ground, gasping, and he looks up to see the demon, wide-eyed in pain and surprise, and Harry standing behind him, clutching the blade he had driven into Asyriel's back.

The sky rumbles, and the earth quakes as Asyriel slides to his knees. His eyes darken, and he releases his last breath before he goes limp, and falls forward. Dead. The body he had possessed was unable to take the damage of the demon invasion and the power of the blade, so it crumbles into ash, and disappears into the soil. The quaking finally stops, and the clouds disperse, revealing a clear, dark sky.

Zayn staggers to his feet, and he stares at the empty spot where Asyriel had fallen, then he looks up at Harry in complete awe. Only seconds ago, he was ready to die for this boy, this bright and shining individual who had crept up on him, and taken a hold on his heart in only a matter of days. Zayn thought he would be the one to protect Harry, but it turns out, Harry had been the one protecting him.

"You... did it," he whispers. "You killed him."

Harry is still holding the blade, and his body is trembling from adrenaline, and disbelief that it's all over. He drops the knife, rushes over to Zayn, and throws his arms around him. It's done, and they're free. The danger is eliminated, and to have that sort of burden lifted is exhausting, and they feel it deep in their bones. But it does not stop the happiness from washing over them.

Zayn sighs out of great relief, and he clutches onto Harry, "You saved me," he leans in, kissing his lips softly, "Looks like you are a hunter, after all."

A smile appears on Harry's face, and he brings a hand to his silver cross, touching it fondly. But despite his smile, there's a sadness in his eyes, and he says quietly, "Well, it is the family business."

Their gazes lock for a moment, and Zayn pulls back to go and retrieve the blade, wiping it clean on his shirt. For the first time, he doesn't feel like a failure. For the first time, he feels like he has done justice to his brother's memory by being able to finally let someone in, and letting himself be saved.

"Zayn?" Harry touches his arm, "So what happens now?"

Zayn tucks the blade back into his jacket, and he looks at Harry. He brushes his fingers over the boy's cheek, then he takes his hand, "We live."

Harry smiles faintly, and he pulls Zayn in, "Alright." He presses a light kiss to his lips, "Let's go live."

***

5 years later.

Zayn remembers when he left Harry. They had three blissful days together after killing Asyriel, but the reality looming over Zayn was too much. He was a hunter, and hunters don't get comfortable, apple pie lives. Danger would always be one step behind, and he would never be able to pursue something normal, no matter how much he wanted it. Harry's father was proof. His own father was proof. He slipped away from Harry's bed one night, without leaving a note, or any evidence that he was even there. He would delete all traces of himself from Harry's life, just to protect him. It was painful, but necessary. And perhaps, Harry would forgive him one day. Maybe he would even forget him.

“You idjit,” Bobby says. “You know how many hunters would kill to settle down? You had your chance to get out, and you can still have it.”

Zayn knocks back a shot of whiskey, and he shakes his head, “People like us don't get out, Bobby. There's just... too much to do, too much shit in the world, and not enough of us to take care of it.”

“And what are you gonna do? Carry the whole weight of the world on your shoulders?”

“If I have to.”

“Zayn...” Bobby sighs. “You're the best damn hunter I've come across. But I love you like a son, so here's me coming at you with some cold, hard facts. If you continue on like this, you'll have nothing left when you're old and grey, except for a body full of scars, and beer bottles that always need replenishing because you can't live with yourself. That's what you'll have to look forward to.”

Zayn stares down at the last dregs of whiskey in his empty glass as he considers Bobby's words. He knows what he wants, but it doesn't do away with the responsibility he's taken on. Though he asks himself if it's really his responsibility to save the whole damn world, and if it's okay, after all these years, to be selfish for once.

Bobby puts a hand on his shoulder, and squeezes, “It's not too late.”

- - -

All these years, Zayn had kept tabs on Harry, and constantly checked up on his whereabouts. It was partly because of his obsessive need to see him, and feel close to him, but it was mostly because he was concerned for the boy's safety. Zayn's protection over Harry did not end five years ago.

Harry now keeps touring to a minimum, runs his own record label, and has a house in Los Angeles. His life, though still busy, has toned down a little bit, allowing him to enjoy more down time and to stay out of the media's eye.

Zayn is walking up Harry's driveway, and his heart is pounding so hard, he wouldn't be surprised to see it fly out of his chest. If Harry turned him away, Zayn won't be able to blame him. In fact, it's the reaction he expects to see, but he can't let Harry continue on thinking that Zayn had left all those years ago without feeling anything. He has to be able to explain himself, and if Harry still turns him away after hearing it, then at least Zayn can leave this time without being plagued with “what ifs.”

He rings the doorbell, and he almost automatically takes a step back, ready to turn around and leave, but the door opens before he can seriously consider it.

And there's Harry. Taller, broad shoulders, curls cut shorter than Zayn remembers, and tired green eyes. When he looks at Zayn, it's as if he's seen a ghost, but he hasn't told him to get out, so Zayn takes this as a good sign.

“Harry, I just--”

Harry holds up a hand to silence him. “Wait,” his brows furrow, and inhales deeply. “Before we say anything else, I just need to ask.”

Zayn nervously shifts his weight from one leg to the other, then he nods, “Okay... go on.”

“Are you going to leave again?”

“No.”

Harry stares at him for what seems like forever, and his cold, tired eyes soften, and he smiles faintly before stepping aside so Zayn can come in, “You ready to come home, then?”

And Zayn swears there's nothing else he'd rather do.