Zayn didn’t know exactly how he had ended up behind bars (because there was no way in hell that he was calling it a cage! He wasn’t an animal!). Personally he blamed the other guy – it was his teasing and ridiculing that had made Zayn hit him in the first place, he had just chosen to retaliate; so yeah... it was definitely the other male’s fault. But the other male had been escorted to the address that had been resting on the tag connected to his collar and, all because he didn’t have one Zayn had been dragged to the nearest Hybrid Animal Pound. And if that wasn’t a punishment in itself, then Zayn didn’t know what was.
They had checked him for a microchip almost as soon as they arrived at the pound:
“Name:” Tristan, who was the manager at the Hybrid Animal Pound began, reading off of the microchip scanner. “Zayn.”
Zayn groaned, knowing that the silence he had managed to keep up since being handcuffed an hour ago had been for nothing… they were going to find out everything from that stupid microchip!
“D.O.B: 12th January 1993. Owner…” Tristan trailed off.
“What?” Jemima, the police woman who had arrested him asked, almost impatiently.
“Say’s here that his owner’s name is… Louis Tomlinson…”
After that, they hauled him into a room that was just lined from side-to-side and top-to-bottom with large cages that were half full of hybrids, just like him (although he did as much as he could to not be associated with them). There had been a young, full human girl standing at one cage and stroking the wars of a ginger cat-hybrid who was loving the attention:
“Charlotte?” Tristan scolded as they entered the overly large, clearly extended room. “I thought I told you to stay in the staff room and do your homework?”
The young girl, who was no older than 15, looked up at the sound of her Dad’s voice. Her eyes lit up and her mouth fell open when she set eyes on Zayn.
“Oh my god!” She cried, jumping up and away from the ginger haired cat and hurrying over to her father’s side, and evidently right in front of Zayn. She didn’t show any caution or hesitation as she instantly started running her fingers through his hair, hitting his ears and making him keen from the feeling. “He’s gorgeous! Can we keep him Dad? Please?!”
“No Charlotte,” Tristan dismissed as he gently pulled Zayn away from his daughter and over to the other wall where a ground-floor cage was available.
“But Dad! You’ve been promising me a hybrid for ages! And this one is by far the cutest one I’ve seem! And so young! His whiskers haven’t even come through yet!”
“We can’t have him Lottie,” Tristan explained, almost sadly. “His owner is on his way to collect him.”
“Oh,” Charlotte sighed disappointedly. Now she understood why they couldn’t have him.
“But you’ll never guess who his owner is!” Tristan spoke, hoping to spark that happiness in his daughter’s eyes again.
Charlotte didn’t believe it when her father had told her that his owner was Louis Tomlinson. It took a little bit of convincing, but she finally realised that her Dad was telling her the truth. And then she almost went crazy – and Zayn realised she was a fan. She went almost crazy, freaking out over the fact that Louis Tomlinson’s hybrid was standing right in front of her. She explained to her father that no one, except Louis and those closest to him, knew what he looked like! Apparently it was a privilege to be one of the first people to meet him and she even snapped a few pictures of him while he hadn’t been looking (and the only reason Zayn knew she had got pictures was the tale-tale click of her phone’s shutter echoing around the room).
Then he was placed in the ‘cell’, the door swinging shut before he could make any movement – and a thumb-print padlock was secured around the lock – making any attempt of escape futile.
And now all Zayn could do was wait until his ‘owner’ came to collect him.
~ IM ~
Zayn was sat with his back facing the cage door – not wanting to look at any of the other hybrids in the room, or the few workers that kept walking up and down the cages, taking hybrid’s out and putting other’s back – each one clearly having heard that their latest inhabitant was ‘owned’ by no less that a world famous boy band member and stopped and had a good look at him each time they went past.
So Zayn didn’t see when Tristan returned and pressed his thumb on the padlock to unlock the cage door. He whipped around at the squeak of the door, curious as to what was happening.
He never thought he’d ever be grateful to see Louis, but god-damn-it, he was.
Louis smiled at him and crouched down, opening his arms wide. Zayn hurried over to the other male on his knees (as the cage was only tall enough for him to sit in) and fell into his chest heavily. Louis’ arms wrapped tightly round him and for a moment human and hybrid rejoiced in each other.
It was times like these that Louis could really see the cat-side of Zayn starting to make an appearance.
“Oh bud,” Louis murmured, raising one hand and skilfully running it through Zayn’s locks. “You scared me!”
“I’m sorry,” Zayn whispered, only Louis’ ears picking up the quietly spoken words.
“Hey,” Louis soothed, as if he was speaking to a scared cat, as his hand ran firmly down his back. “It’s alright. You’re okay. I’ve got you now.”
Louis closed his eyes, because when he had gone out into the garden to check on his pet, he found the back gate wide open and not a raven hair in sight – and it had scared him half to death. He’d phoned his band mates and demanded to know if they’d seen him… they hadn’t. The worst part for Louis was that Zayn hadn’t even been wearing a collar; they had been building up to it, but they weren’t quite ready for it just yet – and now, he had to force one on Zayn, because he would be questioned about it if he didn’t put one on him. Louis just hoped that Zayn had had too much of an eventful afternoon to put up much of a fight about it.
“Please don’t fight this,” Louis muttered in Zayn’s ear, almost making no sound at all. Zayn didn’t get any time to ponder on that thought as Louis pulled out of the hug. He continued speaking as he dug around in the bag he had deposited beside him earlier, the one Zayn hadn’t noticed.
“How did you get out of the garden big guy?” Louis cooed, clearly not mad at all. Zayn raised an eyebrow, he knew Louis was just putting on an act for Tristan who was stood a little behind them, observing the scene. He knew Louis would have seen the open back-gate and would have put two-and-two together. But Zayn had always been planning to go back; he hadn’t been escaping, just exploring.
“And how did you shake your collar off?” Louis asked curiously, eyebrows furrowed. Zayn’s eyebrows dipped too – he had never, ever wore a collar… except back at the facility (he shuddered at the thought). Zayn couldn’t ponder on the thought for long as Louis finally found what he was looking for in his bag and pulled it out. Before Zayn could get a proper look at what it was, Louis was securing it around his neck – lose enough to not strangle him, but tight enough for him to know it was there… a collar. “It was probably faulty, eh?” Louis chuckled as the thumb-print lock clicked into place.
Zayn pulled at it testingly a couple of times, but the thing didn’t budge one bit. And when he looked back at Louis a leash was already attached to it and Louis was standing up, holding the leather end tightly in his hand.
Zayn closed his eyes in shame and humiliation. He would forever hate the people who had done this to him, for what they had reduced him to - a being considered nothing more than an animal.