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"Why do you want to leave?" Louis asked the unnamed boy that sat on the swing.

"I just want to breakaway from everything here. I wanna be somebody and I can't do that here." Liam admitted. He always wanted to be a singer, but how was he supposed to do that in a small town like Wolverhampton.

"Can I help?" Louis asked the boy.

Liam's brows knitted with confusion. "Why would you do that?" Liam asked the boy that he had met only about 15 minutes ago.

"Because I know how it feels to want to move along." Louis admitted. The blush covered his cheeks, but Liam couldn't tell from the dark of the night. "I don't know."

Liam stared into the darkness of the boy's face and thought for a moment. What did he have to lose? He shrugged, smiling weakly. "Sure." Liam said, nodding.

This could be a new start. It didn't matter if he had a companion, as long as he could break away.

LIAM PAYNE was quite the dreamer. He was born and raised in the small town of Wolverhampton but after spending his life in the simplicity of the town, he decides he wants more. He has big dreams and ambitions. To sing, to travel the world, to reach out to people. He wants to make an impact but he knows it can't be done from the comfort of his stately home in the town so he decides to leave, but he doesn't leave alone, but with a new-found companion.

LOUIS TOMLINSON was a lost soul. He never felt quite at peace in his hometown, so he left and was never quite content staying in one place. Since he was sixteen he'd left Doncaster and moved all around England with just his carry-on, a backpack and guitar and at age twenty he thought he would finally be able to settle down in the lovely town of Wolverhampton feeling as though he had no purpose to move on, that is until he met Liam.

The pair meet with an unorthodox encounter at a park late at night and though strangers, soon they find themselves travelling together, living together and falling in love together, helping the other breakaway from the norm and find something truly amazing.

Chapter Text

P R O L O G U E ➳


LIAM TOOK DEEP BREATHS as he slowly pulled the thick velvet curtain aside, his face slightly peeking out behind the flowy maroon material. His heart was thumping in his chest and it's beat rang in his ears as his golden-brown eyes scanned the bustling crowd that were getting themselves seated and settled in the auditorium of Liam's high school. Amongst the faces of fellow classmates, relatives and teachers he could see his own family. His mum Karen, his dad Geoff and his sisters Ruth and Nicola.


They had all come out to see him perform in the school's annual talent show which he had been dared to enter by his friends. He was to sing in front of this entire crowd and he was nothing less than petrified.



Now to be noted, Liam was a good singer, he enjoyed singing in the shower or along to the radio and he could keep a tune more than decently but he had never performed in front of a crowd of people before and to say he was nervous was a major understatement, the nerves were practically eating him up inside.


"I fucking hate Andy." he mumbled to no one in particular as he pushed the heavy curtain back into place and tried to calm himself down and make the shaking of his moist hands cease as he slowly lowered himself into a seat and placed his hands on his lap.


He closed his eyes as the act currently on stage -- a tap dancing duo called Tip & Tap -- began and not even a minute into their performance, loud incessant boos were sounded around the entire auditorium setting his nerves over the edge and his whole vessel nearly quaked with fear and anxiety.


Why would his friends do this to him? Sure he was an okay singer but was all this really necessary? They knew he was shy so why did they have force him to humiliate himself just because of a bet that was so pointless, Liam doesn't even remember what it was about in the first place. What he did know that his life didn't need to be over at the ripe age of fourteen because of the potentially horrendous performance he was going to give. If he could even bring himself to go on stage, he thought wearily. This was so cruel and he was so getting Andy back for th--


"...a spectacular singing act, please give it up for Liam Payne singing Cry Me A River!" Oh God.


Liam was frozen in his place as he heard his name announced and he wouldn't have moved at all if it weren't for the stage-hand that ushered him up from his seat and practically shoved him unto the stage from behind the curtain.


The audience's customary applause gradually faded into a ringing silence as Liam looked up, blinded by the stunningly bright lights as he stumbled to sit on the stool at the baby grand piano, almost missing it by an inch but getting himself seated comfortably. He stretched his fingers out of habit, hearing a satisfying crack before letting them drop onto the piano keys noisily, his heart racing once he realised his faux pas.


Calm down, calm down, he scolded himself as mutters arose from the awaiting crowd and Liam was on the verge of a breakdown and just wanted the ground to open up and swallow him up but tried to clear his mind and remember what his piano teacher used to tell him: Don't doubt your ability because you make a mistake, even the greatest musicians still slip up sometimes.


He takes a deep, somewhat calming breath and decides in that moment that he can and he will do this. His fingers find their appropriate places on the ebony and ivory keys and suddenly the intro to Cry Me A River fills the large auditorium. His voice then quickly joins with the music, wobbly and unsure at first but by the chorus he's has began to relax. His eyes slide shut as he finds himself being caught up in the lyrics and the music and the atmosphere and it's almost like being transported to another world, like getting a new state of mind and he feels so light that he swears that somewhere in all this, he's floating and flying and soaring.


And slowly but surely he comes back down to earth, belting the remainder of the lyrics as if his life depended on it, and maybe it did a little.


"Cry me...a river!"


His voice reverberates around the auditorium as his fingers play the outro, drawing the performance to a close and he can't help but smile at the amazing feeling that pulsed through his veins at that moment. He felt electric and adrenaline pumped all around his body and the feeling simply heightened when the entire crowd abandoned their seats to give him a standing ovation.


Encouraging cheers of praise and even requests of an encore filled the vicinity and to say that Liam was shocked and very much overwhelmed was very true. He politely refused knowing other acts were waiting to perform and he bowed awkwardly before walking offstage to fond pats on the back and more words of praise.


He didn't know what had taken over him whilst on that stage. It was like a whole new person was in his body making him sing and play the way he just did, with the passion he had conveyed. He decided he liked it though, he liked it a lot and he wanted to feel like this all the time.


Liam had won the talent show that year, his first year and that first show was the moment. The moment that he decided that his heart lay in music, and music only, and his dream was to become a singer.



THE STAIRS GROANED AND creaked in protest as Louis proceeded to tiptoe down them, a small carry-on suitcase in hand and a rucksack and guitar case slung over his shoulders. He mentally cursed the wooden steps for making suck a racket and gave up on tiptoeing in favour of just tottering down the remaining steps as quickly as possible.


He hoping that he hadn't woken anyone up because a disruption now would ruin his plans and he couldn't stop now, couldn't change his mind now, he needed to do this, he needed to leave. He wanted to lighten the load on his parents by removing himself from their lives. He was done being guilty for being a failure, he knew he was a disappointment and he no longer wanted to see his parents wary forlorn faces every time they laid eyes on him. He was done feeling useless and letting people down, so he just wanted to go.


He'd broken all his piggy banks and drained his savings account for enough money to sustain himself for a but, just until he could properly get himself sorted and be able to firmly stand on his own two feet.


He'd left a note explaining why he thought his absence was necessary and that he truly did love his family and that's why he was doing this. The note was strategically taped to the box of Yorkshire teabags because it was the first place he knew his mother would see it.


With the note secured and his things in hand, he slipped out of the modest townhouse under the cover of the early morning darkness and embarked on his long trek to the train station. On his way, thoughts floated through his mind,unrelenting. His head nearly hurt from how hard he was thinking. He continued to walk in solitude, noting only the scent of the dewy earth and the sudden transition from a fading darkness to a watery blue light.


By the time he'd reached the station, the first of the trains was just arriving and without hesitation he purchased a ticket and when the time allowed, hopped aboard. He manoeuvred through the carriages to find an empty booth, fingers idly fiddling with feathery fringe as he looked around purposefully.


Finally, he spotted an unoccupied booth and sunk into his plush seat with an exasperated sigh after he'd stored his items away in the correct manner.


Wow. He couldn't believe he was actually doing this. Louis had always told himself that he would leave but seemed to always hold some cowardice and not go through with it but something had finally snapped in him when he heard the conversation between his parents the night previously. He knew now was the right time.


Fear had held him back in the past, but now it was what was edging him on and God was he terrified. He was only sixteen and he wasn't naive.


He'd been through enough in his life for him to know how bad of a place the world really could be and he'd practically made himself victim to it. It could swallow him whole, that is if he let it. He was a strong that he convinced himself he was. He had lots if experience with facing adversary head-on and he could see this new chapter in his life as a new challenge or he could look at it as an adventure.


His answer came to him whilst he stared out the window the passing world turning into a blur of shapes and colours before his eyes and he knew what he was starting out now was an adventure, one he would never ever forget.

Chapter Text



IT WAS A TYPICAL DAY in early May at Dinah's Diner. The spacious diner was filled with elderly people, teenagers and families all adding sound and life to the colourful eatery with their incessant chatter and laughter. Everything seemed bright and cheerful and despite the usual cold English summer, spirits were still high. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and business was going smoothly and busily just like it did every summer.

Liam Payne stepped out from behind the counter, plates balanced neatly and expertly on the serving tray as he waltzed out into the midst of happy summer customers. He delivered the food to the customers with manners and an unrelenting smile that was easily returned because all of them - especially the regulars - adored the brown-eyed waiter.

He had been working in the diner since he was sixteen years old, but Dinah's had always been a part of his life. A place where he'd ate special dinners with his family, hung out with his friends after school or simply went to get some time to himself and of course, one of Dinah's delicious milkshakes. The diner was special to him and he loved every aspect of it. From the red leather stools by the bar, to the black and white patterns on the different surfaces. He loved the jukebox in the corner that blasted olden day classics all through the day and made him feel like he'd travelled back in time and the little bell that rang whenever anybody walked in. This was how it always was and how it had always been.

Dinah's had been around since the fifties and the retro American theme hadn't changed much since the place was opened in 1957 to the Adams family and was to this day, the most popular and recommended place to eat at in Wolverhampton. Dinah's was special and it could put it's success down to a lot of things. The theme was timeless and eye-catching, the food was tasteful, filling and delicious but it was the service delivered that seemed to really pull people in.

Liam couldn't think of a better place - other than his dream job, of course - to work, plus he was an excellent employee as he was a natural people person even though sometimes he could be quite shy. He worked hard and well and was one of the best waiters Dinah's had ever seen and that made everyone love him, especially the older women.

"Liam darling, more tea if you please." he heard Mrs Winslet call from the far end of the diner as she waved her wrinkling hand a little to get his attention.

He nodded in her direction, raising a hand to signal 'one moment' before he dished out the last few plates on his serving platter to their respective customers with a smile and quickly headed to the back to grab the fresh pot of tea and greeted his co-workers briefly before he brought it out a couple minutes later.

He headed in the direction of the two older women who had known him since he was a child, his smile unwavering and a tune idly slipping from his plump pink lips as he hummed softly. When he reached the ladies, he tilted the pot slightly as he refilled their teacups and greeted them. "Afternoon Mrs Winslet, Mrs Brinley, here you are." he said politely.

The two women had been in his life for longer than he could remember. They knew his parents and were really close to the Payne family as Mrs Brinley had been their neighbour for over fifteen years and Mrs Winslet had taught him piano for just over eight years. He loved both ladies an awful lot, they were like family to him and the feeling was very much mutual.

"Thank you love." Mrs Brinley said as she smiled and tucked a strand of wispy white hair behind her ear and with her free hand pinched one of his cheeks affectionately.

"No problem." he replied with his beautiful smile and Mrs Winslet grinned at him.

"Everyday you just seem to get more and more lovely my dear, how I do wish you still needed to come to my classes for piano. You always were my favourite student." she gushed and the tall boy blushed as he shook his hand dismissively.

"You're just saying that." he replied modestly.

"No I'm not, you're brilliant! One day you're going to be a huge star, especially with that voice of yours. Oh why don't you sing us a song, go on, go on!" the woman continued giddily and the brunette boy smiled at her fondly.

He really loved her. Even though his family supported him an enormous amount in his aspiration to be a musician - as well as everything else - he had no doubt that Mrs Winslet was his biggest fan. She was sure he was going to make it big, rule the world with his music and all that and he liked to believe her, liked to believe that it could happen for him even though he'd never admit it.

"Okay." he said simply and paused, deciding a song in his mind before he sung the lyrics of PYT by Michael Jackson especially for the older ladies in the diner.

"Where did you come from lady,
And ooh won't you take me there,
Right away won't you baby,
Tenderoni you've got to be,
Spark my nature,
Sugar fly with me."

He sang the rest of the verse before he quickly delved into the catchy chorus.

"I want to love you (PYT)
Pretty young thing
And you need some loving (TLC)
Tender loving care
And I'll shake you there."

He sang and snapped his fingers in time to the beat of the music and cheesily pointed at the ladies as he sung which made them all blushing messes. He danced about a little, now not afraid to make a fool of himself as long as it was just in front of his loved ones.

When he was done, an applause filled the diner and he bowed momentarily sending everyone a modest smile and wave and then retreated back to the kitchen shyly after he could escape from the two women's embarrassing gushing and bid them goodbye.

The customers just returned to what they were doing. Liam singing every now and again was something they'd gotten used too and rather enjoyed, as did he. He loved every opportunity he got to sing. It wasn't for praise or glory, he just absolutely adored how it made him feel.

Since he was fourteen years old, music had literally become his life. He had always liked music; loved piano and singing along to his dad's jukebox classics but he'd never taken his interest all that seriously until he finally performed in front of a crowd and craved for more and more of the indescribable feeling that he'd gotten from it.

His piano lessons and practice took longer and were taken more seriously, he practiced his singing everyday, he began to learn more about music and it's ethics, applied for a music course when university came around last year and successfully tried his hand at writing some music of his own. All he needed now was simply a break, a chance to get the world on his side, some recognition; but in a small town like Wolverhampton such things were hard to obtain. Though it didn't stop him singing or practising. He knew there would come a time when he would finally get his chance to break through and get into the spotlight.


Liam worked hard for the rest of day, staying till evening and cleaning up with a few of his fellow employees before he decided it was time to leave. He gave the keys into Dinah's grandson Jason before he slipped on a jacket and headed out.

As he walked towards the little employee car park outside the diner, he retrieved his phone from his pocket and turned it on (as he didn't like to have it switched on during work) and realised that he had two impending text messages.

The first was from his mum and read: Li darling, could you pick up some milk at the local on your way home from work, thanks love x

The second was from his pal Andy and read: Hey mate, i'm back in town for the weekend, wanna grab a drink at Wright's tomorrow?

He smiled happily at Andy's text. They'd been friends since they were four and had never been separated until Andy moved to London the previous year to pursue his modelling career. He'd been a familiar face on the fashion scene since then and Liam would always feel a sense of pride when he cracked open a magazine to behold his friend's face on a multi-page spread. They never lost contact but with the both of them being so busy all the time, sitting down and texting or meeting up could sometimes be hard.

Liam sent a quick 'sure thing' in response to both messages before he unlocked his beat-up Volvo and slipped inside but didn't immediately head off. He flicked on the engine to heat up the car and exhaled a little sigh as he shut the door after him. He leaned his head down on the steering wheel of the car as he waited for the car to get a little warmer and let out an exasperated sigh.

Liam was tired, more than tired even. He was exhausted, physically and mentally. He really loved all the people in his life, his job and his town but he didn't want to live the rest of his life like this.

The thought of this being it, crept into his head everyday and worried him. He'd always seem to make the same vain promise to himself that he'd change his situation. He could do it, there was nothing holding him back. It was his dream. He wanted to be big and famous. He wanted to touch hearts with his music and not his 'outstanding service' at a diner for the rest of his days. He wanted to be something, but it just seemed to be proving harder and harder to get to where he wanted to be.

But he couldn't quit working for it. Everyone he knew always told him never to give up and he would do just that. Keep pursuing his dream, no matter how hard it proved to be.




LOUIS GRACIOUSLY NODDED his head in thanks and appreciation as the crowd that had quickly surrounded him dispersed, some clapping lightly and others tossing shiny pound coins and the odd note into his worn guitar case.

As the last person, a young girl with a pretty smile and wavy brown hair, walked away (after leaving a nice crisp ten-pound note), Louis exhaled a deep sigh, his breathe coming out in big white puffs. He slowly removed his guitar strap from around his body and shivering slightly, got onto his knees and placed the aged guitar beside him.

The evening air was biting and chilly, colder than a summer evening should have been, but then again this was England. Blackpool, if he were correct. He'd come here for the seaside air that just screamed summer and the sound of his music being carried by the waves and wind. He'd always loved the coast.

It reminded him of a simpler time when his family would holiday to Cornwall and everything was easy. The only running he'd have to do was when he'd chase Lottie and Fizzy down the beach while they squealed and squirmed. Instead of collecting money for gigs, he, Daisy and Phoebe would make a game of collecting seashells and rocks and the only scolding he'd get from his mum was about not putting on sunscreen.

Life wasn't that simple anymore. At this time of the year Britain's coasts were swarming with people and tourists and were great busking locations. Louis loved the coast but whilst he loved it for precious memories and peaceful ambiance, he had also obviously came down to make a few quid.

Which he'd definitely succeeded in doing. As he counted his earnings for the entire day, it added up to a hefty £234.35 (plus three buttons) and Louis was proud of himself. He'd played one of his newer songs today, a tune he'd been working on to try and summarise the pandemonium that had been his life for the last few years. He had called the song Don't Forget Where You Belong and it was one of his favourite songs to date.

It meant a lot to him on a personal level and musically, it was a big leap from the simple melodies he had concocted over the last few years. He'd arranged the music with other instruments in mind as if one day he could make the sound fuller, an anthem almost. The song as it was, regardless of being a catchy guitar melody was powerful and passion-filled and it seemed like other people appeared to like it too, because he had enough to get a nice dinner tonight.

Louis packed up his guitar case after emptying the money into a separate bag and slung it over his shoulder as he went on his way. He kicked along pebbles and stones as he embarked on his brief journey back to his motel where he was due to check out of today before he moved on.

Continued moving on.

That's what he had spent the last couple years of his life doing. He'd lasted longer in some places and even thought to settle at a few, but something always had him leaving, had him running away. He had always ran away from his problems. Running away seemed to have become his defence mechanism. His way to avoid the unavoidable and the inevitable, but he couldn't help it. Sometimes leaving was just easier for everyone.

Sure he missed his parents and sisters from time to time but he could never have stayed knowing he was just a burden. It would have tore him up inside and drove him crazy.Things were better this way. They were better off without him and he was getting on just fine on his own.

The motel was medium-sized and decent. It had a crooked neon sign hanging from the top and a weatherbeaten grey structure that was eery and intimidating but on the inside it was warm and plush and warm and that was enough for Louis.

He took the steps two-by-two to his floor and once he reached his door, retrieved the room key from his pocket and swiftly unlocked the door, which opened with a moaning creak. The room was dark so Louis switched on the light revealing the tidy room, his carry-on sitting neatly beside the bed. He walked over and grabbed it, checking to see he had everything before he was out the door again and jogging down to the lobby.

He dropped the key into the receptionist, sending her a thanks and a ten-pound note because he was actually a pretty nice guy and people just never seemed to realise it and plus, he was feeling generous.

Louis left the motel soon after that and asked a few passersby for directions to the nicest place to eat around town which was a fairly fancy restaurant called 'The Ivy' that overlooked the sea.

The salt in the atmosphere made the air seem thick and heavy around Louis as he promptly sat - ignoring the pointed looks he got from nicely dressed couples on dinner dates and prim-looking old ladies and basically all the snobby people in general - and ordered a succulent sirloin steak, pulling out his travel journal as he waited for it to arrive.

Louis had been keeping this journal for over three years now and it was filled with souvenirs from places he had visited, observations, nightly rambles and snippets of song lyrics. Pictures adorned some pages as well as postcards from acquaintances he'd made along the way but never properly kept in touch with. The journal was bursting at it's seams by now, the red leather cover frayed, worn and embellished with nonsense doodles. Louis smiled as he cracked it open slowly, unearthing a map from somewhere in the middle and spreading it out onto the table.

The map was small, and of the United Kingdom, littered with little red dots indicating where he had been around the country. He'd been to most of the places marked twice, had stayed months in some and settled briefly in others. There were still many places, he was yet to visit and as usual he closed his eyes, touched a spot on the map and then opened his eyes to reveal his destination. It was a rather childish act yet, but it reminded him of his sisters and the act gave him a 'young mind' to the aspect of travel. When he'd peeled open his eyes, his fingers were placed on top of a large enough city, called Wolverhampton.

All Louis knew about it was that it was up north like Doncaster and it had a shit football team; but nonetheless that's where he knows he's headed.

The steak arrives and it's honestly the most delicious thing he's ever eaten. Ate a meal fit for a king at Ivy's. If I'm ever at Blackpool again, come here, maybe bring a friend. He writes in his journal before he clears up and leaves his payment and a tip.

He heads off in the direction of the bus stop and when the cherry-red bus comes to a stop, he hands the pudgy driver his fare and says: "One way to Wolverhampton."