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“This is your idea of a bachelor party?” Louis asks, raising an eyebrow.

Liam shrugs. “Niall likes this place. And he likes the band that’s playing tonight, I think. He’s mentioned it, right?”

Louis shakes his head. “You are so not allowed to plan my bachelor party. This is-- this is cruel, Liam. It’s his second last night of freedom and we’re not even at a strip club.”

Liam looks around the bar. It’s not that bad. Liam knows it’s Niall’s favourite place to drink, which is why he’d decided on the place. For one, Cally had been pretty adamant that he wasn’t to take Niall to a strip club, and he wasn’t about to piss off Niall’s fiancé the day before her wedding. Secondly, they could actually afford to drink here. And third-- if Louis hates a place, it’s probably where you want to be. Louis has a terrible taste in clubs and bars.

“You could always give him a lap dance,” Liam suggests. “You’d make a good stripper.”

Louis narrows his eyes. “I wouldn’t want to split up a marriage that hasn’t even happened yet. Once he got a taste of this ass--,”

“Why is it always rimming with you?” Niall asks, coming up behind them.

Liam grins at him but Louis rolls his eyes. “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, Niall.”

“I’ll pass on that,” Niall says, shaking his head. “Where are the drinks? Let’s get this thing started!”

Liam frowns. “I thought you invited someone else. Harry, or something.”

Niall nods. “Did,” he answers, nodding at the bartender coming their way. “He’s on stage tonight, though.”

Liam and Louis both turn to the stage, which is empty save for band equipment. In fact, this place is mostly empty but, then again, it was only nine.

“I’m going to get us shots,” Louis says, sliding out of the booth. “Maybe if I get wasted enough I can forget how shit this party is.”

Liam glares at him. It’s not shit. It’s just -- starting out slow. Plus, if it’s really that bad they can always duck out and go somewhere else. It’s not like they have to stay here.

“It’s not shit,” Niall tells Liam, as if he can read his mind. “I love this place. And you’ll love the band. They’re great. They come on at about eleven.”

Liam nods and, a few moments later, Louis returns with their drinks. The night begins.

--

They’re all more than a little drunk by eleven, and the bar isn’t looking so bad. It’s nearly packed now, and Louis stopped complaining an hour ago. That could be because Liam was right, and this place isn’t so bad, or it could have more to do with the seven shots he downed. Sadly, Liam is leaning towards the second one.

“Look, look,” Niall says, grabbing Liam’s arm in a tight, vice-like grip. Liam winces but looks in the direction Niall is pointing. “That’s him, that’s Harry.”

Liam watches as a group of three guys get on stage. One takes the microphone -- he’s tall, with a thick head of curly hair--, another stands to the left with a guitar, and the last one heads for the drums, twirling two drumsticks between his fingers.

“Name,” Louis says. His eyes are on stage, too. “Give me the name of the drummer Niall or I will castrate you.”

Niall blinks. “Zayn,” he answers. Liam figures he’s frowning, but Liam’s not pulling his eyes away from the stage.

The lead singer is attractive. It’s obvious, if not to his eyes than to his ears, because suddenly every girl in the place is screaming out the name, “Harry!” over and over. But, really, he pales in comparison to the drummer.

He’s thin, with long, wiry arms that are covered in various tattoos that Liam can’t fully make out from this far away. He’s wearing a tight, sleeveless white shirt that dips low on the collar, revealing a few more splotches of ink on his skin. He’s got faint stubble on his jaw and chin and above his upper lip, and his hair is a chaotic, inky black mess. It looks almost like someone took a razor to it and then jelled it afterwards so that it stuck up in different directions.

He watches as the boy sinks onto the stool behind the drums. He’s fidgety. He’s twirling around his sticks over and over, though he never drops them. He drums them on his leg, too. And his eyes flick over the bar, over and over, like he can’t sit still.

“Right,” says a loud, booming voice. It takes Liam a minute to realize that it’s coming from the lead singer -- Harry-- because he’s reluctant to pull his eyes away from the drummer. “We’re Canned Chaos--,”

“That is the stupidest band name I’ve ever heard,” Louis whispers.

“-- are you ready to rock it out?” Harry finishes, oblivious to Louis, who is covering his face, he’s snickering so hard now. The rest of the bar starts cheering again, though, so it can’t be that ridiculous.

“Did he really just say that?” Louis asks, turning to Liam with his eyebrows raised. “Are they for real?”

“Shut up, Lou,” Niall hisses. “They’re about to start.”

Louis rolls his eyes and turns back to the stage. He grabs another shot off the table and downs it first, though. Liam doesn’t fault him for it. He can’t see this going well either, to be honest.

The guitar starts first, followed by Harry’s singing. He’s surprisingly good. His voice has a low, rough sort of note to it, and Liam fully gets why the girls are all shouting. But then the drums kick in, and Liam wonders how anyone has any time to pay attention to Harry.

The song had started out slow and relaxing, but it turned into this loud, enticing thing. Harry’s voice drops lower, quieter. The song becomes something seductive, and the drummer’s sticks are a blur of motion. Liam can’t pull his eyes away.

When the first song ends, Liam sinks back in his seat while Niall lets out a wolf-whistle. Louis looks genuinely impressed as he turns back around to face them, but Liam’s eyes are still on the stage. For just a moment the drummer turns his head, catches his eyes, and then his gaze flicks onto the next person in the crowd.

“You’re so introducing us all after the set,” Louis tells Niall. He’s always loud when he’s drunk, and now is no exception.

Niall chuckles. “Thought they had the stupidest name you’d ever heard.”

“Oh, they do,” Louis says, nodding. “Doesn’t mean they’re not good. I might just be eating my words from earlier about this place sucking, eh Liam? Liam. Liam.”

Liam tears his eyes away from the stage. “Hm?”

“Christ, did you fall asleep with your eyes open?” Louis asks. “That is creepy. Do it again.”

Liam rolls his eyes and reaches for another shot as Louis slips out of the booth. “Where are you going?”

“We’re going to join the crowd,” Louis says, grabbing Liam’s wrist. “Come on, grab the future Mr. Cartwright--,”

“We’re hyphenating,” Niall hisses. “Hyphenating.”

“Grab the future Mr. Cartwright-Horan,” Louis corrects, tugging Liam forward. “I want to get a better look at that thing sitting behind the drums.”

Liam latches onto Niall’s arm, if only to avoid being dragged into the crowd with only Louis. Louis is fairly good at shouldering his way to the front -- he’s got sharp elbows-- and by the time the next song starts up, Louis is standing directly in front of the stage, Niall and Liam just behind him.

Harry has good stage presence, Liam thinks. He’s captivating and energetic. He’s just not as interesting to look at as the boy behind the drums. As the song ends, the boy with the drumsticks keeps moving. His leg is jiggling up and down, and he claps his sticks together over and over. Once again he meets Liam’s eyes, but this time he holds his gaze and a slow grin spreads across his face.

The drums have never been one of Liam’s favourite instruments. There’s something a bit too loud, too chaotic about them. It’s different now, though. The way this boy plays makes them look almost relaxing. The way his hands blur, and his foot moves on the pedal.

He can feel the sound of it, too, thumping through the stage. It vibrates up through his feet, and Liam can see why the boy with the tattoos doesn’t want to sit still. The constant feel of movement must be something he’s not only accustomed to, but something that he needs. Liam wonders how the shaking in his bones would feel if he were right on stage.

By the fourth song, Louis is cheering along with the crowd. Niall actually knows some of the songs, and he shouts along with them. Liam is silent, enjoying the sound and the feel of the show. He doesn’t think the lyrics to their songs are all that great, but that’s not really the point of their music, he can tell. It’s about the way Harry’s voice goes with the strumming of the guitar and the pounding of the drums. It’s about the twang of the one instrument versus the thumping of the other. It’s dizzying, in the best possible way.

“We’re going to take a fifteen minute break,” Harry says loudly into the microphone. Liam winces. They’re a bit too close to the stage. “Hopefully none of you leave while we’re gone, yeah?”

The crowd laughs and thins a bit, people heading off to rest their feet or gets drinks. Niall nods his head towards the stage door, which is a few feet to the right of where they’re standing, and Louis nods before grabbing Liam and towing him along towards it.

There’s a man guarding the door but he moves out of the way when Niall leans in to say something in his ear. A DJ picks up where the band left off, playing some pop song that just feels wrong after the first half of the band’s set.

Just behind the door is a long hallway. Niall knows his way around, though, because he stops at the third door on the left and knocks. A moment later the door opens and Harry grins widely at him. Up close, Liam can see that his curls are damp with sweat and his eyes are a vibrant green.

“Niall!” he says loudly. “How’s your bachelor party?”

“Lack of strippers,” Louis says.

Harry chuckles and pushes the door open wider and gestures for them to come in. The room itself isn’t very big. There’s a two-seater sofa, a reclining chair, and a table with bottles of water, guitar picks, and a few magazines on it. The guitarist is sitting on the couch with his instrument in hand. The drummer is spread out on the recliner, head and feet hanging off the arm rests, drumming out a beat on his legs. He lifts his head a bit when they walk in and then sits up straighter.

“Horan!” the guitarist says brightly. “What’s up?”

Louis flops onto the seat next to him and offers him his hand. “I’m Louis Tomlinson. I like banana caramel ice cream, watching shitty reality television shows, I’m a Capricorn, and I also enjoy boys with tattoos who play the drums.”

“I’m Colton, and you’re hitting on the wrong dude,” he says, pointing the end of his guitar at the boy on the recliner. “His name is Zayn, he likes reading thick books because he thinks it makes him look smart, he wears leather jackets in the summer because he’s a pretentious prick, he watches Glee though he’ll deny it if you ask, and he once attempted to climb a Christmas tree at a Christmas party and broke his left arm.”

“Hey,” Zayn says lazily from the chair. He’s got a slight smirk on his face, but that smirk is apparently for Liam, because he lifts his head a bit and holds Liam’s gaze.

“What about you, then?” Harry asks.

Liam pulls his eyes away from Zayn. “Um, I’m Liam.”

“Hi, Liam,” Colton says with a wave.

“Liam,” Zayn repeats slowly.

“Just Liam?” Harry asks.

“Liam’s a nymphomaniac with seven cats who lives in his grandmothers basement and spends his evenings reading alien conspiracy stories,” Louis supplies.

“Really?” Colton asks, raising his eyebrows.

“No, not really,” Louis says. “He actually writes the conspiracy stories.”

“What’re you three doing after this?” Harry asks, looking between Niall and Liam.

Niall shrugs. “Wasn’t planning that late of a night. You know, getting married in two days and all. Need my energy to finish up some last minute things tomorrow.”

“That’s the reason you should be having a late night,” Harry tells him. “Twenty-two and getting married. If I didn’t know your fiancé, I’d say you’re crazy. But I do know you’re fiancé, so… good job, man.”

“Thanks,” Niall says, grinning.

“We’ve got to get back onstage, though,” Harry says, running a hand through his hair. “You three are welcome to hang out back here until we’re done.”

“No way,” Louis says, sitting up. “And miss the show? I don’t think so.”

“See you after, then?” Harry asks.

“Come join us for drinks,” Niall suggests.

“Will do,” Colton says, standing up. Zayn follows a moment later and the five of them awkwardly try to shuffle out the door. Liam ends up taking a step back so everyone else can get through, and Zayn brushes up against him on the way out before turning and smirking at him.

They settle back into their booth as the band takes the stage again. Louis orders them another round of shots, and Liam takes his without comment, eyes already focused on Zayn once again, but this time Zayn’s are focused on his right back.

Louis twists around in his seat to face the stage again, and he hisses, without turning, “Oh, god, is he staring at me?”

Niall leans forward a bit to watch Zayn, too, and says, “Can’t tell.”

Liam’s lips turn up in a bit of a smile and Zayn’s follow a moment later before he drops his eyes to his lap.

By the time their set is done, Liam is just on the right side of being drunk, and he’s pretty sure he’s making up the suggestive looks Zayn keeps giving him, because boys like Zayn don’t waste their time on boys like Liam. It’s not that Liam thinks he’s unattractive. He thinks he’s okay in the looks department. He’s just -- regular, though. There isn’t anything about him that really catches the eye, like Louis’ blue eyes, or Niall’s infectious grin.

A few minutes after the band gets off stage, their booth is suddenly very full. Colton slides into the seat next to Louis, and Harry follows in beside him. A moment later Niall’s moving over a bit, Liam’s doing the same, and then Zayn is sitting next to him.

“Round of drinks, yeah?” Colton asks, already waving down a waitress.

Everyone makes a sound of agreement except for Liam. He’s too busy paying attention to the hand on his thigh, fingers drumming out a beat that he can’t follow. He looks up at Zayn but Zayn’s just staring off into the crowd, a blank expression on his face.

“So, Zayn,” Louis says, leaning forward on his elbows. Zayn turns his head and the beat on Liam’s leg skips for a second before starting up again. “How long have you been playing drums?”

“Uh, since I was ten,” Zayn supplies. “Went through my rebellious stage young enough that I actually sort of benefited from it.”

Louis laughs. “You’re good. Really good. Maybe you can teach me to play sometime.”

Zayn shrugs. “Maybe,” he says, non-committal.

Zayn might miss it, but Liam doesn’t miss the taken aback look on Louis’ face. The thing about Louis is that he’s used to people paying attention to him, whether that be in a good way or a bad one. Center of attention at all times, Louis. He gets annoyed when he’s not.

Colton, Harry, and Niall are chatting about something, but Liam isn’t really paying attention. He heard the word ‘football’ and tuned right out.

“Are you straight?” Louis blurts.

Liam nearly chokes on thin air, but Zayn chuckles, clearly not offended. “Not hardly,” he says, and the hand on Liam’s thigh moves higher up, and Liam shifts in his seat but it doesn’t move away.

“Oh,” Louis says flatly.

Before he can say something else potentially offensive a waitress comes over and they all get another round of shots. Liam stares down at his own for a moment, wondering if it’s a good idea. He’s already past the point where the room is a little blurry and he feels a bit too warm, but that could also have to do with the hand on his thigh. Fuck it, he thinks, and brings the tiny shot glass to his lips, squeezing his eyes closed as it burns all the way down.

Zayn picks his up right after, and he tilts his head back before doing the same thing Liam did. Liam takes in the long column of his throat, the way his Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. Liam swallows, too, his mouth feeling weirdly dry all of a sudden.

“Do you want to dance?” Liam blurts.

Zayn puts his glass on the table and levels Liam with a look that has him shrinking back against Niall. It very clearly reads, “Are you serious?” and Liam feels very, very stupid.

“Definitely,” Zayn says.

Liam blinks at him. “Wait, what?”

Zayn grins and slips out of the booth, putting a soft hand on Liam’s wrists, not exactly pulling him forward so much as guiding him, if he so chooses to follow. He does.

“Damn you, Payne!” Louis shouts after them.

It’s easier out on the dance floor because he doesn’t have too look too closely into Zayn’s eyes -- which are a pretty colour that might look brown from far away, but are actually a bit lighter, framed by long, dark lashes -- and Zayn’s hand is no longer sitting on his leg, preventing him from forming coherent thoughts.

Once again the DJ fails to play anything good, but he’s not complaining because the song is just right for Zayn to stand in front of Liam, his arm twisted behind himself to hook around Liam’s neck, holding them close together as his hips sway. Liam puts a hand on Zayn’s stomach after a moment and moves with him, glad that he had enough to drink to stop him from over thinking things and making it awkward.

It’s not that Liam doesn’t have experience. Liam has enough experience. He just tends to dwell on the little things and put too much thought into situations, which ends up ruining the mood more often than not.

“Did you enjoy the show?” Zayn shouts over the music.

“You were great,” Liam answers immediately.

“You mean Harry was great,” Zayn corrects.

“No,” Liam says, swaying his hips along with Zayn’s, “you were great. I mean, you were all great, but I sort of barely noticed anyone else.”

“Got a thing for drummers like your friend?” Zayn questions.

Liam laughs. “You know how some people have a no musician rule?” Liam asks. “I’m one of those people.”

“Guess I’m out of luck, then,” Zayn says, and he twists his hips in a different direction so that they’re no longer swaying together, but instead against each other. Liam’s fingers dig into Zayn’s stomach unconsciously, and Zayn arches into him.

“Guess so,” Liam agrees.

Zayn turns then, wrapping his arm around Liam’s back, pulling him in. His breath is warm and damp on Liam’s neck, and his freehand moves up, fingers pulling at the collar of Liam’s shirt. A moment later he sucking at Liam’s skin, just where his neck meets his shoulder. He makes a surprised sound, eyes darting around. No one’s paying them any attention, though, and after a moment Liam relaxes into Zayn, enjoying the way his tongue swipes over the skin after he’s left his mark.

“You know what the best thing about musicians is, though?” Zayn asks against Liam’s skin. “We’re actually really, really good at breaking rules.”

Liam groans. “We should-- do you want to get out of here?” he asks before he can think of a reason not to. Or before Zayn can realize that Liam’s not all that interesting and decides to take Louis up on the offer that he gave not so much with words, but with his eyes.

“Got to grab my sticks first,” Zayn answers, arm dropping from Liam’s neck, sliding down his bicep and stopping at Liam’s hand. He curls their fingers together and pulls Liam through the crowd towards the door beside the stage.

The guy watching the door doesn’t stop Zayn, but instead immediately steps out of the way. Zayn grins at him and pulls the door open, continuing to pull Liam along behind him until they’re back in the room with the sofa and the recliner.

Zayn guides Liam through the room after shutting the door, and then he pushes Liam down onto the recliner, climbing into his lap seconds later. The chair tips, Zayn giggles, but the sound is lost as their lips come together. Liam’s hands curl in Zayn’s hair -- which is thick and slightly slick with gel-- and Zayn groans, mouth opening, which Liam takes advantage of by sliding his tongue in. He tastes the sharpness of alcohol on his tongue, made almost pleasant by something that’s distinctly sweet and fruity, too.

Zayn’s tongue pushes insistently against Liam’s until he’s guiding the kiss, and then he rocks his hips into Liam’s. The chair tips back again, and Liam gets that feeling of butterflies in his stomach, the one you get when you’re on a rollercoaster, or swinging backwards on a swing, or driving too quickly down a hill. He doesn’t think they’re going to fall back, but he’s not positive.

And then Zayn’s lips slide from his own, kissing his jaw once, then his neck, and then he pulls back, eyes bright and wide. “Gotta get those sticks,” he says, and he taps his fingers against Liam’s shoulders for emphasis.

Liam nods, feeling more than a little dazed, and he doubts that’s completely from the alcohol. Zayn kisses the way he plays: both enticing and hypnotic, like you’re anticipating what comes next but you’re too caught up in what’s happening at the moment to get to that.

Zayn slides easily off Liam’s lap and heads over to the table, where he grabs his drumsticks, twirling them once in his hands before shoving them in his back pocket. He grins at Liam again and Liam sits up, careful of the way the chair moves underneath him. Okay, maybe it is the alcohol.

“You good?” Zayn asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Good,” Liam repeats. “Definitely good. Better than good, actually.”

Zayn chuckles and puts a hand on Liam’s waist. “Come on, I’ll teach you how to play.”

Liam frowns. “How to play?”

Zayn nods and leads Liam back through the hallway. “I’ve got a set at my flat. I’ll give you a lesson, free of charge.”

“I don’t want to learn how to play,” Liam finds himself saying. “I just want to watch you do it.”

Zayn chuckles again. “We can do that, too.”

Liam doesn’t really remember how they got back to their booth. One minute Zayn’s opening the door, and the next minute Louis is waggling his eyebrows at him while he leans into Colton just a bit.

“Mind if I take this one home?” Zayn asks.

“Be gentle with him,” Niall says, shaking his head in a fond way.

Liam’s too busy pressing his lips to Zayn’s neck to really register these words. He hears the gentle part, though, and he hopes that it’s not.

“Use protection!” Louis calls after them.

It’s cool outside and Liam sinks farther into Zayn’s side as he hails them a cab. He’s warm and he smells good, a bit like sweat mixed with cologne. Liam likes it. Liam likes him. Which is probably why he’s going against his nature right now and heading home with a boy he hardly knows, because he wants to know him.

When they get in the cab, Liam lets out a slightly annoyed sound. Zayn is a whole seat away from him, drumming his fingers on the seat in front of him while his leg bounces up and down. He cuts his eyes to Liam every few moments and grins, though, so that kind of makes up for the distance between them.

Liam isn’t sure how far Zayn’s flat is from the bar. The drive goes by in a blur of lights and Zayn’s grins, and it could have been minutes or hours that passed for all he knows.

Zayn pays the cab and then gets out and opens Liam’s door for him, and wraps his arm around Liam’s waist again. That is definitely a good thing, not just because he smells good. Liam is having a bit of an issue walking straight.

Zayn’s flat is on the third or forth (really, at this point, it doesn’t even matter) floor of what almost looks like a warehouse. He opens the door, fingers fumbling with the keys for a moment, and Liam steps inside immediately.

It’s a studio apartment, the kind with white, cement walls and high ceilings and a few beams that go from said ceiling own to the floor. There’s a kitchen to the left with dishes piled high in the sink, and a huge white carpet in the middle of the floor with a black leather sofa and a TV stand with a flat screen TV on it.

There’s also pictures and paintings hanging from the wall, and a stereo system sitting on a stand. It’s huge and interesting and it fits Zayn, in Liam’s opinion. This thought is only reinforced when he spots the drum set in the right corner.

“Want a tour?” Zayn asks, tossing his keys onto the counter.

Liam grins. “Definitely.”

Zayn grabs his hand. “This is the kitchen,” he says, gesturing to the appliances, counter, and sink. “Living room.” He points to the couch and TV. “Music room.” He points to the drum set. “Fitness room.” He points to a yoga mat on the floor by one of the windows. Then he brings Liam over to one of the two doors just beside the drum set. “Bathroom, and then the bedroom. But we’ll explore that one later.”

“You sound pretty confident about that,” Liam teases.

“Oh, I don’t plan on having sex with you,” Zayn tells him, releasing Liam’s hand to pull his drumsticks out of his pocket. Liam’s expression must betray the hurt and confusion he feels at those words, because Zayn continues quickly with, “Not tonight, at least. You’re drunk off your ass. Tomorrow, when you’re sober and consenting, I’ll show you that I perform better in a bed than I do on stage.”

Liam feels heat rise to his cheeks. He wants to tell Zayn that he’s sober enough right now, and more than consenting, but he has a feeling Zayn’s not going to let up on that. So he follows Zayn over to the drum set and stands behind him when Zayn sits down, hands on his shoulders.

Either the walls in this place are fairly soundproof, or Zayn’s neighbours seriously hate him, because it’s got to be way past midnight, but Zayn starts beating on the drums with his sticks, foot hitting the pedal repeatedly, and the apartment fills with the sound of it. Liam’s still got his hands on Zayn’s shoulders, and he feels the vibrations from the instrument move through him.

Zayn starts out with a slow, relaxed beat, which moves quickly into something more, something quicker, louder. Liam’s eyes fall closed and he just listens to it and feels it. It shouldn’t be enough, drums aren’t a stand alone instrument, are they? But it’s still perfect.

Eventually Zayn stops and looks up at Liam. There’s a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, and Liam brushes his hands through that chaotic hair again because he likes the way it feels, sort of feathery despite the gel.

“Want me to teach you?” Zayn asks.

Liam shakes his head and leans down a bit, head resting on Zayn’s shoulder. “No, just keep playing.”

If it weren’t for Zayn’s constant movement, Liam probably could have fallen asleep like that, listening to the almost overbearing sound of the drums with his eyes on Zayn’s shoulder. Zayn must realize this, too, because after a few more minutes he stops playing and puts his sticks together, leaving them on top of the drum set as he stands up.

“Bed?” he asks.

Liam straightens and yawns. “Hm? Oh, yeah. Bed.”

Zayn grins at him in a way that is far to fond of a look to be shared between to people who are practically strangers. He puts a warm hand on Liam’s hip and guides him to the first door and pulls it open.

Just like the wide open space of the rest of the flat that seems to fit Zayn’s personality, his small room does, too. The walls are painted a dark, deep blue, and there’s a small window with a dark curtain just above it. There’s not much else in the room except for a dresser and an old computer desk that’s covered in stickers and writing and a clunky old computer. The bed isn’t made, either, and there’s a handful of posters on the wall. It’s all very closed in and intimate.

Liam spots a laptop on the dresser and then frowns at the old computer. “Two?” he asks.

Zayn doesn’t need him to explain what he’s asking. He just guides Liam to the bed and then hits the mouse on the old computer so it comes to life. “I’ve had this thing since I was fourteen,” Zayn explains. “I like to do my writing on it. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I’ve just sort of gotten used to it, the way the keyboard feels and the screen looks.”

Liam leans back on the bed a bit. He can’t even read what’s on the posters on the wall, that’s how blurry everything is.

He can see the way Zayn pulls his shirt off, though, (thankfully) revealing a few more tattoos. He likes all of them, really, especially the one on his hip. Liam takes in the smooth skin of his chest and his stomach before reaching up to tug off his own shirt. After he has, Zayn grabs a pen from beside the computer and grabs Liam’s arm.

Liam frowns at him but Zayn says, “Just trust me. It’ll help in the morning.”

Liam can’t read what he writes except the giant, “NO”. Zayn kisses him once on the lips and then turns the light off. With the room dark, Liam reaches down and undoes the button on his jeans and slides them down to the ground, where he put his shirt.

He can’t see Zayn but he can feel him moving in the room, and then the bed sinks under his weight. Liam moves farther up it and climbs under the covers, eyes falling closed almost immediately. He regrets drinking now, because this night could have ended a lot differently if he’d been a bit more strict on the amount of shots he took.

Zayn’s bed is comfortable and it smells like the same cologne he was wearing. Liam turns onto his side and Zayn puts a hand over his waist and curls up against his back.

--

Liam wakes up in an unfamiliar bed. That’s not something that happens all that often to him, really. It’s a bit jarring. He doesn’t know how people do this several times a week. It’s far too disorienting for his liking.

The first thing he does is roll over to see who’s behind him. He takes in the tattoos, first, and then the dark hair covering his forehead. Drummer boy. Zayn. Oh.

“Shit,” Liam breathes.

He’s almost naked, save for his boxers, and his mouth tastes foul. He tries to remember how he got here, but he can’t. He remembers -- drinking, so much drinking, and music. And then dancing? There was dancing. And -- that’s pretty much all he’s got, except for a few snippets here and there of flashing lights and wicked grins and the feeling of Zayn’s shoulders under his fingers as he played.

Liam disentangles himself from Zayn as smoothly as he can so that he doesn’t wake the other boy. He finds his pants and shirt at the end of the bed and pulls them on before spotting the ink on his arm.

NO we didn’t have sex, it reads. Liam breathes out a sigh of relief before spotting the last word, written much smaller than the others, yet.

Liam moves his eyes back to where Zayn is sleeping. His lashes seem even longer like this, and his stubble looks a bit thicker than it had last night. He looks pretty, Liam thinks, and he questions why they didn’t have sex, because he has a feeling he wouldn’t have regretted it at all. But then, yes he would, because he wouldn’t have really remembered it.

He doesn’t plan on just sneaking out. Liam’s not that kind of person, even if Zayn might prefer that he did. He’s going to use the bathroom, steal a bit of toothpaste to rinse out his mouth, and wait for Zayn to get up before he leaves.

He opens the bedroom door to do just that, taking in Zayn’s flat. He gets a weird feeling of déjà vu, because he doesn’t exactly recognize the space, but he feels like he’s seen it before. And he knows that he had, but that had been in a blurred, drunken state.

Now, Liam wonders how the hell Zayn affords this place. His band played at a shitty bar. There’s no way that paid enough to live in a place like this, because the flat is nice, even if it does have a bit of an industrial feeling to it.

There’s a door right beside the bedroom one, and Liam pushes it open, revealing, as he he’d hoped, the bathroom. It’s small and cold and there’s an array of products on the edge of the tub. Liam snort and shakes his head because, really, he’s not all that surprised.

He splashes water onto his face and then cups his hands and brings a bit to his mouth, trying to wash out the bitter taste of alcohol and sleep. The door opens as he spitting out and Zayn’s eyes widen a bit.

“You’re still here,” he says flatly.

“Um.”

“Shit, that sounded bad,” Zayn says, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. He smiles softly at Liam, still looking fairly tired. “I just thought that you’d sneaked out or something. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“I’m -- I’m not really like that,” Liam says quietly.

Zayn’s grin widens. “Didn’t think you were, but your clothes were gone. Just a second,” he says, bending down beside Liam to pull open the cupboard under the sink. He grabs a pack of cheap toothbrushes and hands Liam one. “Always good to keep extras for emergencies. Which mostly means for when Harry crashes on the couch.”

It feels extremely domestic all of a sudden, because Liam moves over a bit, Zayn runs the water, and then they’re both brushing their teeth, careful to give the other enough room. When they’re done Zayn puts a hand on the small of Liam’s back and says, “Do you want breakfast, or is there somewhere you need to be?”

Liam wracks his brain, but he can’t think of anywhere he desperately needs to be. It’s Friday, and he should be in class right now, but he’d already planned to skip out on it today because of the party last night.

“I could eat,” Liam answers.

Zayn grins. “Brilliant. I warn you that I’m a shit cook, though. I once caught my toaster on fire. Don’t even ask.”

Zayn heads out into the main room and Liam follows, leaving the bathroom door open behind himself. He’s not sure if he should sit on the couch or accompany Zayn to the kitchen. He doesn’t want to follow him around like a lost puppy, but he ends up leaning against the counter anyways, while Zayn grabs a frying pan from one of the cupboards and then pulls open the fridge.

Zayn is an extremely restless person. Liam picked this up last night, but it’s even more obvious today. The way he moves around the kitchen is jerky at best, the way he tosses the pan onto the stove and then heads for the fridge, but then turns his head to make sure it hasn’t fallen off the counter. The way he pulls the eggs out of the fridge and then goes to close the fridge door, only to pull it back open just before it closes.

He breaks the first egg in the frying pan, getting pieces of shell into everything. Zayn frowns down at it and drums his fingers on the counter for a moment before turning to Liam.

“You any better at this, or should I just give up and order us take-away?”

Liam grins. To be honest he’s sort of been itching to push Zayn out of the way since he started moving around. It’s not that Liam is a complete control freak, he just -- okay, he’s a control freak.

“Move over a bit,” Liam orders, grabbing the frying pan. He cleans it out and then looks around, “Bowls, utensils, spatula?”

Zayn nods and gets all of these thing. Liam puts the pan back on the stove and then Zayn opens the fridge wide and says, “Use whatever.”

Liam grabs out milk, butter, and then spots bacon and a peppers and grabs them, too. Zayn passes him a knife and he chops up the peppers and bacon and tosses them in the pan, pushing them around with his wooden spoon before breaking eggs into a bowl. When the bacon’s cooked he adds the egg, reaches for the salt and pepper shakers on the back of the stove, and makes an omelette.

“I’ll make toast,” Zayn offers.

Liam nods and continues both cooking and cleaning up behind himself as he goes. He’s not a very good cook, but he’s good with breakfast, mostly because he always makes it for him and Louis in the morning, when Louis is too dead to the world to even consider cooking for himself.

Again it feels weirdly domestic, the way they work together. Zayn fetches plates and forks and finishes the toast, Liam finishes the omelette and plates everything. And then they head to the couch and Zayn sits with his legs crossed while hitting the ‘ON’ button on the television remote.

The noise of the TV keeps them from having to talk, but Zayn does anyways. “This is really good,” he says. “Like, seriously good. I might just kidnap you and never let you leave.”

Liam’s cheeks burn as he replies with, “It’s just an omelette.” He forks up another bite after that before asking, “Are you coming to the wedding tomorrow?”

Zayn nods. “We’re playing, actually. Said we’d do the gig for free.”

Niall had never mentioned this, but then again, Liam had done his best to stay far, far away from any wedding plans. To be honest, just the thought of that kind of commitment made his stomach curl. Louis found that more than surprising, because apparently he and Niall had a bet going since they were sixteen that Liam would be the first to tie the knot.

Liam is just finishing up his food when his phone vibrates against his thigh. He sighs and pulls it out, knowing that it’s Louis. He has an actual ring tone for everyone else, but Louis’ is just the vibration, because Louis calls at the worst times. Like right now, when he’s wondering exactly how to move this breakfast with Zayn into something that involves a lot less clothing and a lot more touching.

“Where are you?” Louis demands.

Zayn looks up at him and snorts out a laugh, obviously able to hear Louis’ shouting through the tiny phone speakers.

“I’m at Zayn’s,” Liam answers quietly, giving Zayn an apologetic look, which the other boy just waves off. He turns the television down for Liam, too, which is all kinds of sweet, though Liam wishes he’d of kept it up. He has a feeling that this conversation is going to end up embarrassing him.

“Oh, right, I forgot,” Louis hisses. “You know, I don’t believe in calling dibs on people, but I so had dibs on that one, you prick.”

“Sorry?” Liam offers, though he’s really not.

“Whatever, just-- was he good, at least? Damn, I bet he was. I hate you so much,” Louis says, not giving Liam a chance to admit that they hadn’t actually done anything. “Anyways! I need you home, like, now. Niall’s sort of having a freak out, the catering screwed up the time and isn’t going to be ready until an hour later than it’s supposed to be, and we need you.”

Liam sighs. “Right, okay. I’ll call a cab now, but you’re paying it.”

“Fine,” Louis snaps. “Just get over here! You’re our rock, Liam. We’re falling apart without you.”

“Falling apart!” Niall adds in the background. “I’m getting married. Oh god, what was I thinking?”

Liam hangs up on them.

“You’ve got to go,” Zayn guesses.

“Bit of an emergency,” Liam admits, grimacing. “I really don’t want to, but…”

“No, it’s fine,” Zayn says, and then he rattles off the address so Liam can call his cab. “I’ll see you tomorrow, though?”

“Hopefully,” Liam says, and he means it.

--

Despite the scene he went home to after leaving Zayn’s, the wedding the next day goes off without a hitch. Niall wasn’t really regretting the decision, which Liam pointed out to him six times yesterday. He also called the catering, managed to get them in only twenty minutes later than they were scheduled to, and he called Cally, too, to assure her that everything was fine.

Really, Liam didn’t see the point of all of this. If you really, truly loved someone, why did you need a ring and a piece of paper to prove it? He can’t see himself ever really taking that last leap, because it seems so… unnecessary.

The ceremony is short and sweet. There’s not a lot of guests -- mostly it’s just family and close friends -- and the exchanging of vows is done outside the country club, which Cally’s parents rented out for the event. After that they’re all ushered inside.

Dinner is in a large room with round tables topped with white cloths and baby blue candles. There’s also a longer table at the head of the room, just by the windows, which is rectangular shaped. Niall and Cally and both of their immediate family members will sit there, while the rest of the guests get to sit at the circular tables.

He’d seen both Harry and Zayn earlier in the day, before they were all seated for the ceremony. Niall explained that they were too busy setting up their equipment in the room beside the dining room to sit for the ceremony itself. They were going to join them all for toasts and dinner, though.

Liam finds his and Louis’ table and spots Zayn’s name two seats away from his. Trying to be as discreet as he can, Liam grabs Zayn’s name tag and switches it with Louis’ before Louis can see him do it.

Harry, Zayn and Colton are a bit late to dinner. They miss the toast, and they miss the first course -- which is some weirdly warm salad thing that Liam chases down with a bit of wine. Louis and Liam aren’t alone at their table, though, because they’re seated with Cally’s best friend Allison, who coos and sighs through all of the toasts.

“Niall eats some disgusting food,” Louis comments, pushing his plate of salad away from himself. “Want this, Liam?”

“Oh, no, I’d be too full to eat the rest of the courses,” Liam says quickly.

Allison narrows her eyes at them both. “I think it’s great,” she says, but then, her plate is barely touched.

“What’d we miss?”

Liam looks up to see Harry sliding into the seat next to Louis, with Colton right beside him and then Zayn between him and Liam. Zayn gives Liam a small, personal grin as he tugs on his tie. He’s wearing a suit, too, and he looks good. His hair isn’t in the same messy array it was yesterday, but has instead been gelled into a quiff.

“Just a disgusting salad,” Louis answers. “Consider yourselves lucky.”

“Really?” Harry asks, spotting Louis’ plate. “You not going to eat that, then?”

Louis wrinkles his nose. “Take it if you really want it.” Harry does, shovelling food into his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in days.

“You three are late, you know,” Allison says to them, but she’s mostly talking to Zayn, Liam notices with a bit of annoyance.

Zayn’s hand moves to Liam’s thigh once again, and, just like at the bar, he drums out a beat on Liam’s leg. “We were setting up our equipment,” he explains.

Allison’s eyes widen. “You’re in the band?” she asks, leaning forward on her elbows. “That’s so cool. Do you play, or sing?”

“Play,” Zayn answers, lips quirking up a bit. Liam stabs his salad with a bit too much force.

“Hm, I bet you play guitar, right?” Allison asks. “You’ve got the hands.”

Zayn chuckles and then he leans forward, too, so he and Allison are both stretching over the table, oblivious to Liam’s annoyance because they’re literally leaning over him.

“No, I play drums,” Zayn answers. “But I’m still pretty good with my fingers.”

Allison laughs and Harry frowns at Zayn, while Liam nearly chokes on a piece of lettuce, and not because of Zayn’s words and the sudden flare of jealousy inside him. No, he nearly chokes because Zayn’s fingertips are ghosting over his crotch, sliding slowly, teasingly up the length of him without any real pressure.

Liam shifts in his seat and Zayn continues to smile brightly at Allison as he reaches for the bread bowl in the centre of the table. “Wow, this is a bit hard, isn’t it?” he comments while biting down on the piece of bread.

“It was soft when I had some,” Allison answers, frowning.

Zayn’s face goes red with surprised laughter. Liam grabs Zayn’s thigh in retaliation, nails digging into the material of his pants. It doesn’t affect Zayn at all, who continues to chew and grin at the same time. Liam sort of hates him.

“Stop that,” Harry says, eyes darting between Liam and Zayn. “Zayn--,”

“Loosen up, Styles,” Zayn tells him, rolling his eyes. He turns back to Allison. “Ignore him, he’s a bit of a bore. What’s your name, anyways?”

The thing is, it seems like he’s got his full attention on her, but his fingers keep sliding up and down Liam’s cock, which is now (embarrassingly) painfully hard, straining against the uncomfortable material of his pants.

“Allison,” the girl in question answers. “And yours?”

Zayn extends his free hand to her. “Zayn. You know, I should get your number. Maybe see you again, somewhere a little less formal.”

Again, there’s that flare of jealousy, which isn’t even really justified. It’s not like he has some claim on Zayn. In fact, he really, really doesn’t. But Zayn’s gripping him through his pants now, putting a bit more pressure into it, and Liam’s face is heating up because he’s starting to feel breathless and light-headed.

Thankfully the waiter turns up right then and clears their plates before another waiter brings them the second course, which is just some cheesy pasta thing that actually tastes good, not that Liam really notices it.

Liam’s got one hand flat on the table and the other curled around his fork. Zayn is eating, too, but his freehand is still on Liam, keeping him just hard while not really doing anything else. The only one at the table who seems to realize that something is going on is Harry, who keeps glaring at Zayn and giving Liam apologetic looks.

The main course is steak and potatoes and vegetables, and dessert is cake and some ice cream thing with a lot of chocolate sauce. Zayn licks at the ice cream on his spoon in a way that is way, way too deliberate to be innocent. He watches Liam while he does it, too, ducking his head a bit so he can look up at Liam through his dark lashes.

That’s it for Liam. He pushes away from the table, chair scratching backwards loudly. “I’m-- um -- bathroom,” he says coherently. Louis frowns at him and once again Harry’s eyes move between his and Zayn’s. Liam doesn’t care, he needs to get out of there.

He feels way too hot in his suit, and he’s just praying that his pants are loose enough that his situation isn’t completely obvious as he weaves his way through tables towards the doors. It takes him a minute to find the bathroom. When he does he leans on one of the sinks and runs the water.

His cheeks are red and his bottom lip is swollen from being bitten. His tie is a bit loose, too, and overall he just looks… messy, not together at all. He blames that completely on Zayn.

The door opens but Liam doesn’t look up until Zayn says, “Think this thing locks?”

Liam looks over to see Zayn’s back to him as he fiddles with the handle on the door. A moment later he hears a clicking sound and then Zayn turns to him, grinning that stupid grin of his. Liam straights up, releasing his grip on the sink, and crosses his arms over his chest. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re a horrible person?” he asks.

Zayn shrugs and saunters over to him -- literally, that’s the only way to describe it-- before putting his hands on Liam’s waist. “You were jealous,” he says, raising his eyebrows.

Liam shifts but Zayn doesn’t release him. “Maybe.”

“I’m not really interested in her,” Zayn says, stepping forward. Liam has no choice but to step backwards. “I just like seeing you get worked up. You looked like you were so close to giving in and jumping me right there at the table.”

“You think it’s funny,” Liam states as Zayn continues to guide him backwards.

“Bit, yeah,” Zayn admits. “Mostly I just think it’s fucking hot.”

Liam’s back hits the wall before Zayn kisses him. He can’t remember all of the kissing from last night, but he doesn’t think it was quite so rough. Zayn tugs Liam’s bottom lip between his teeth and then pushes his tongue into Liam’s mouth, fingers digging almost painfully into Liam’s sides.

Zayn gets a leg between Liam’s thighs and he moves his hips forward. Liam’s hips jerk forward, too, until he’s riding Zayn’s thigh while Zayn tugs on his tie, trying to loosen it more. Liam tugs on his hair in retaliation as Zayn’s lips latch onto his collarbone, knowing that there’s going to be a mark there that will just peak out under his shirt. Zayn is a bad person, obviously.

“Wanted this last night,” Zayn groans into the kiss. “Do you know how hard it was to not fuck you?”

“Should have,” Liam says against Zayn’s lips while dropping his hands to Zayn’s back, wishing there was far less material between them. “I wouldn’t have minded.”

“Wouldn’t have minded,” Zayn repeats, pulling back. He raises his eyebrows. “Babe, I would have had you fucking begging for it.”

“Really,” Liam says flatly, despite the fact that the tightening in his pants gets worse, and he figured the word would come out a lot more breathless. He’s pretty pleased with himself, actually. Especially when Zayn’s eyebrows rise and he takes a step back.

“You don’t think I could,” Zayn states.

Liam doesn’t answer, and Zayn’s eyes narrow. He slides his hands down Liam’s chest, over the button-up shirt he’s wearing. He stops at the waistband of Liam’s pants and pulls his shirt out from where it’s tucked in there. Just like at the table, Zayn is all teasing, too light touches as he palms at Liam’s erection. Here, though, he takes it farther, undoing the button on his pants and sliding down the zipper.

“You do realize,” Zayn says against Liam’s neck as he grips Liam through his boxers, “that everyone is just two doors away from us, wondering where you are? Do you think Allison realizes that the whole time I was smiling at her, I was really trying to picture the sounds you’d make as I wrapped my lips around your cock?”

Liam closes his eyes and tips his head back against the wall. It’s thankfully cold, a nice contrast to Zayn’s hot breath and warm fingers. Fingers that aren’t really doing much more than frustrating him, because there’s still the material of Liam’s boxers between them, and he’s not gripping him tight enough.

“Zayn,” Liam says quietly.

“Yeah, babe?”

“Come on,” Liam urges, opening his eyes. “Please.”

Zayn chuckles and steps back, releasing him. “Sorry, can’t. Got a set to play in about five minutes.” He turns to the mirror and fixes his hair a bit and straightens his tie, all the while Liam leans against the wall, gaping at him. “See you later, Liam.”

And then he’s out the door with a wink. Liam realizes a moment later that someone could walk in at any moment and see him there, pants undone, obviously hard, what he knows to be a completely wrecked look on his face. He pushes off from the wall and does up his pants and then heads to the sink and splashes water on his face, trying to get Zayn out of his head so the situation in his pants will go down enough for him to leave the room.

--

People are dancing and drinking and having a good time. Liam is sitting at one of the tables in the ball room, eyes on Zayn, still sipping his first glass of wine. He wants to get drunk. Fuck he wants to get drunk, if only to speed up the time until he can get out of here. But he’s not going to do that, because when (and it’s a when, not an if) Zayn takes him home tonight, he’s not going to be a stumbling mess that needs to be put to bed.

“You alright?” Louis asks, sliding into the seat next to him. He’s a bit sweaty, and his cheeks are red enough that Liam can tell, just from a single glance, that he’s about as drunk as Liam wishes he was.

“I’m fine,” Liam says. Frustrated, definitely, but fine.

“You sure?” Louis asks, putting a hand on his forehead. “You were in the bathroom a long time. Zayn said you weren’t feeling well.”

“Did he?” Liam asks, and he narrows his eyes at Zayn on stage, who’s just grinning out at the crowd, avoiding his eyes completely.

“Did-- did things not go well last night?” Louis asks hesitantly. “I mean, you’ve got to be a bit upset, the way he just threw himself at Allison.”

Liam snorts a laugh. “You don’t know the half of it.”

Louis sighs and pats his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Li. I’ll find you a nice, respectable boy who doesn’t flirt with average looking women while sitting beside you.”

Liam grins over the top of his glass and takes another sip before saying, “Okay, Lou, you do that.”

“I will,” Louis says determinedly. “There’s got to be at least one semi-attractive, single man interested in cock here. And I will find him for you and, since I’m such a good friend, I won’t even keep him for myself.”

Liam watches him walk away, knowing that Louis isn’t coming back any time soon, if at all. He can see Niall in the crowd, too, dancing with Cally. They’re not thrashing wildly like everyone else, though, but are instead dancing slowly, pressed together, as if the song playing were something soft and gentle. It’s sort of adorable, really.

By the time the band’s done playing Liam is buzzed but not drunk. He’s had three glasses of wine, just to take the edge off, but he’s still coherent and focused. A DJ replaces Harry, Zayn and Colton, though Liam knows everyone’s going to start heading out soon. Liam just hopes he’s one of those lucky people.

“Enjoy the show?” Zayn asks, sinking into the seat Louis had vacated a while ago.

“Not a big fan of the band, to be honest,” Liam says. “Drummer’s a bit of an asshole.”

Zayn leans forward in his seat and taps his fingers on Liam’s knees. “Really?” he asks. “Because I heard he’s pretty attractive, and a really, really good fuck.”

“Do you have two settings?” Liam asks, frowning at him. “Because this morning you were sort of sweet and nice, and tonight you’ve been frustratingly forward.”

“Just trying to make sure you don’t find someone better to go home with,” Zayn says, and while his lips are still quirked up in a teasing grin, his eyes are completely serious.

“Are you-- you’ve got to be joking, right?” Liam splutters.

Zayn shrugs, eyes on his fingers, which are still playing out a beat on Liam’s knees. “Not really, actually. Guys like me tend to only get one night with guys like you, and I spent mine playing the drums and writing on your arm.”

Liam frowns at him. “That can’t be true.”

“Kind of is, though,” Zayn says softly. “I’m just that attractive drummer they fucked once after getting shitfaced at a bar. Nice enough to bring home at night but not good enough to wake up to in the morning.”

Liam stands up abruptly, reaching down to grab Zayn’s wrist. “Come on.”

Zayn stands up but eyes Liam warily. “Are you taking me home to ravish my body, Liam?” he teases.

“Yes,” Liam admits. “But not just because -- I mean -- I sort of liked waking up to you in the morning.”

Zayn’s lips spread into a grin once again. “Good, because I was planning on making breakfast again, and I think my landlord might actually kick me out if the fire department comes by one more time.”

“You’re a hazard to society,” Liam tells him while pulling Zayn through the crowd. “And my mental health, I think.”

“Is that your way of saying I drive you crazy?”

Liam rolls his eyes as the push through the doors of the ball room, out into the dining room. The room itself is mostly empty save for the wait staff, flitting between tables to clear off plates and cups. Barely anyone looks up at the two of them as they pass by.

Two more sets of doors and they’re outside. Liam pulls his phone from his pocket and dials the familiar cab number while Zayn moves up against him, pressing Liam back against the wall beside the door. The bricks stick out weirdly and dig into his back, but it’s hard to focus on that when Zayn bites softly down on his neck.

When the person on the other end answers, Liam is feeling short of breath. “Um, hi, I’d like a cab, coming to the country club on -- on--,”

“On Benton Drive,” Zayn supplies.

“On Benton Drive,” Liam repeats. The woman asks him where they’re going, but Liam completely forgets Zayn’s address. “Um-- we’re heading to--,”

“1714 Johnson street,” Zayn answers and, once again, Liam repeats his words into the phone. “Tell her you want a van, not a car.” Liam frowns but says the words into the phone. “That way your boyfriend can suck you off in the back seat.”

Liam gapes at him and then says into the phone, “No, no, just a car is fine, actually. Thank you.”

Zayn chuckles against his skin as Liam pockets his phone, but Liam doesn’t find it as funny. “Just wanted to see if you’d say it,” Zayn tells him.

“I have a feeling you do a lot of things just to see how people react,” Liam tells him.

Zayn nods and pulls back, tugging Liam away from the wall. “I might.”

Liam feels something warm and fond inside of him as they wait out front for the taxi. Zayn’s fingers are curled into the spaces between his own, and he holds on just a bit tight, like he’s making sure Liam doesn’t pull away. He doesn’t really plan on doing so any time soon.

This time Liam and Zayn don’t sit at opposite sides of the cab. Liam sits in the middle seat while Zayn stares out the window, leg moving restlessly, gnawing on his bottom lip. Liam soothes a hand down his cheek, trying to get him to unwind a bit, but Zayn just turns and gives him a reassuring grin, letting him know that everything’s fine.

They split on cab fair, only because Liam insists. As soon as the cab pulls away from the curb Zayn is pushing Liam towards the front door of his building until Liam’s back hits the glass. It’s impressive, really, the way he manages to get his key in the lock while kissing Liam’s lips raw.

They stumble over the threshold and then Zayn turns and tugs Liam up the stairs, almost running towards his floor. This time Zayn turns his back on Liam to get the door, and Liam plasters himself against it, pressing wet, open mouth kisses to Zayn’s skin. He tastes slightly salty from sweat but Liam doesn’t mind. In fact, he sort of likes it.

Liam kicks the door closed behind him, and it shuts with a loud, echoing bang. He hadn’t realized before just how open the space of the apartment is, the way the sound travels through it. It’s really not important, though, because Zayn’s leaning around him to lock the door, body pressing purposefully against Liam’s.

Liam likes Zayn’s hair a lot. Liked it messy and spiked, like it had been yesterday, and likes it more controlled and proper, the way it is today. He likes the way his fingers get caught in the thick strands, and the way Zayn bares his throat when he tugs on it, which is what he does now.

He decides to pay Zayn back for the mark on his collar, going straight for the neck, just beneath his left ear. Zayn groans as he sucks on the skin and licks his tongue over it, before trying to tangle his own hands in Liam’s far too short hair. He makes a frustrated sound and roughly grabs the sides of Liam’s face, bringing their lips together.

The kiss doesn’t break as Liam pushes Zayn backwards. Their tongues slide together, the taste of the sharp wine Liam had been drinking and whatever fruity thing Zayn had been sipping on mingling together into something that was far more delicious than anything they could pour out of a bottle.

Liam’s got his eyes open so he can see where he’s going, but Zayn’s are closed, eyelashes brushing against Liam’s cheeks. He wants to get to the bedroom, he really does, but he can’t fight the urge to push Zayn against one of those thick white columns in the middle of his apartment.

He grabs the back of Zayn’s legs and lifts him up, slamming him back against it again as Zayn’s legs wrap around his waist. Distantly Liam wonders how sturdy the column is, wonders if it could break and if the ceiling would come crashing down around them. He doesn’t think he’d really care or notice, not when Zayn’s trying to grind against him as his nails feebly attempt to rip at the cloth covering Liam’s back.

“Bed, bed, bed,” Zayn chants against Liam’s throat. “Or couch. Liam, come on. Too many clothes. Come on.”

Liam hikes Zayn up higher on the wall to get a better grip on him, and Zayn’s arms go around his neck instead of his back. Liam pulls back, making sure that he’s not going to drop Zayn -- and also praising himself for keeping up his workout routine no matter how much shit Louis gave him for it --, and then carries Zayn through the apartment.

Zayn’s nails are scratching at the back of his neck and Liam gets almost to the bedroom before he changes his mind and turns them. Zayn makes an annoyed, frustrated sound, but Liam leans down and drops him onto the chair of the drum set. Before Zayn can complain or ask him what he’s doing, Liam drops to his knees, hands on Zayn’s thighs.

“Oh,” Zayn says, eyes wide. “Oh, fuck yes. Yes, please, God. Totally on board with this. Totally.”

Liam’s hands, reaching for the button on Zayn’s pants, freeze, and he blinks up at the other boy. The chair is low to the ground, and Liam tugs on Zayn’s tie, forcing his head down so Liam can kiss him once more.

“Do you ever stop talking?” he asks as he pulls back, lips slick.

“No,” Zayn admits. His eyes are heavily lidded, pupils blown wide. “And in a few minutes you’re going to see why that’s actually a positive.”

Liam reaches for the buttons on Zayn’s dress shirt instead, starting at the top. Zayn pushes his hands away after a moment, doing them himself after pushing Liam’s hands lower. Liam chuckles but pops the button on his pants, tugging the zipper down a moment later, proud of the fact that his fingers aren’t shaking as much as he thought they’d be.

He realizes a moment later that he probably should have gotten Zayn’s pants off, because that would make this whole thing a lot easier. There’s something way too hot about the way he looks right now, though, (black suit jacket still on, dress shirt unbuttoned, tie hanging loosely, pants unzipped) that has Liam sort of wanting the clothes still on, at least for now.

Zayn pushes his boxers down enough to get himself free and then leans back, hands on the edge of the large drum behind himself, head tilted down so he can watch Liam. Liam’s eyes drop to his cock, laying flat against his stomach, hard and cut. He wraps a hand around it before meeting Zayn’s gaze again and then pulls it towards his lips, tongue snaking out to swirl around the tip.

“Shit,” Zayn hisses. He leans heavily on one hand so that he can bring the other one up to the back of Liam’s head just as Liam lowers his mouth a bit. “More, yeah? Come on, Liam. You can take more.”

Liam hums around him in response, lowering his mouth over Zayn more, until he feels the head of Zayn’s cock hit his throat. Zayn lets out a loud groan, nails digging into Liam’s scalp. He lets his tongue drag against the length of him as he pulls up. Zayn presses down gently on him again, guiding him back down almost instantly, putting just enough force on Liam to show him how he wants it, but not enough that Liam can’t stop him if he wants to.

The faster Liam moves the more breathless Zayn gets. Liam can see the knuckles of his hand gripping the drum turning white, and his cheeks are flushed red. Debauched is a good look on him, Liam thinks as he pulls up again, taking extra time licking at the head, tonguing the slit. Zayn’s hand on his head flies back as he tilts his head back and his eyes close. His hand slams against the side of the drum and the sound of it rings through the apartment, but Liam feels it more than he hears it, feels the vibration go through Zayn, and Zayn’s moan echoes the noise of the instrument.

Liam pulls off him, knowing how he must look. His lips are probably red and spit-slick, and Zayn’s done a pretty good job of undoing his tie and the first few buttons on his shirt. Zayn looks down at him like he’s never seen a better sight, though.

He puts a hand on the back of Liam’s neck, trying to pull him back in again with a whimpered, “Babe, come on.”

“Bed,” Liam says, hands on Zayn’s thighs. He pushes himself up and Zayn stares up at him for a beat, still leaning back in the chair. He blinks at Liam for a long moment before getting to his feet, putting a hand on Liam’s shoulder like he’s unsteady.

“You’re evil, you know that?” Zayn whispers while leaning in, his lips moving against Liam’s as he says the last word.

Liam likes the teasing words and the way Zayn’s lips move against his. He’s just way, way too desperate to get out of this stupid suit, and to get Zayn out of his, too. He steps backwards, hoping Zayn is paying enough attention to stop them from tripping over anything. He really doubts it, though, and this is proven when Liam falls against the door to Zayn’s bedroom without warning, arms reaching out to stop himself from falling.

Zayn grins and twists the handle, continuing to move them forward like he meant for that to happen. Liam falls against Zayn’s bed a moment later, head hitting the mattress. Zayn grabs his tie and pulls him back up and then carefully undoes the rest of the buttons on Liam’s shirt, but the look on his face says he’d definitely be ripping them off if he thought he could get away with it. Liam shrugs off his jacket while he does that, and then pushes at Zayn’s, too.

“I really don’t know,” Zayn says while pushing Liam’s shirt off his shoulders, “what I want more.” He pushes Liam back against the bed and reaches for the button on his pants. “To fuck you.” He slides down the zipper. “Or have you fuck me.”

Without warning, Liam grabs Zayn’s hips and pulls him down on top of him and then rolls them so he’s on top. He grinds his hips against Zayn’s while pushing his tongue into Zayn’s mouth, not so much kissing him anymore as he is showing Zayn which one of them is in control -- at least tonight, because he’s definitely not saying no to Zayn fucking him, just not tonight. Or not during the first round, at least. Not after that scene at the dinner table, or in the bathroom.

“Okay, point taken,” Zayn says, grinning into the kiss. He scratches his nails down Liam’s back, and Liam just knows that they leave red marks in their wake. He arches into the touch, grinding his hips down against Zayn’s again, wondering why they’re still half clothed.

Liam climbs off the bed and shucks his pants, adding his boxers only moments later. Zayn raises an eyebrow, looking pleasantly surprised. Liam raises his right back and then Zayn is scrambling to get his own clothes off, hips lifting obscenely off the bed. There’s a tattoo on the top of his left thigh, just below the indent of his hips.

“‘Fuck off,’” Liam reads, lips twitching up. “Classy.”

“I was seventeen and rebellious,” Zayn says.

“So rebellious you got it somewhere no one would see it.”

Zayn smirks. “Plenty of people have seen it.”

Liam frowns but doesn’t try to push down the jealousy those words cause. Instead, he lifts his chin and asks, “You have…?”

Zayn nods and crawls up the bed, twisting onto his side to reach into the bottom drawer of the bedside table. Liam takes that time to appreciate the skin on display. The way his spin curves and his back dips; the firm muscles of his thighs and the twisting ink on his ankle. Zayn pulls out a bottle of lube and a few condoms out of a box. He rips one off and then holds them both in his hands and falls onto his back again.

Liam climbs back into the bed and pauses for a moment, kissing Zayn once again, because he likes kissing Zayn. Likes the taste of him and the way that they’re pretty equal when it comes to dominance because, while Liam may be bigger, Zayn is far more confident with his movements.

He takes the bottle of lube from Zayn’s hands and moves down his body, kissing his way down Zayn’s chest, and then his stomach, and then he bites down on the ‘Fuck off’ on his thigh for good measure. Zayn’s leaning up on his elbows, watching him, somehow looking both content and impatient.

Liam licks at the head of his cock against as he pops the lid on the lube, if only because he likes the way Zayn’s eyelids droop and his lips part. He slicks up his fingers and Zayn spreads his legs more, completely comfortable with whatever Liam’s about to do to him. Liam slides his mouth farther down the length of him for that.

“You know,” Zayn says breathlessly. “If you want to just keep doing that, I’m not complai--,”

Zayn’s words catch in his throat when Liam circles a slick finger against his entrance. He still tries to grind down against it, though. Liam is quickly learning that Zayn likes to make you think you have all the control when, really, he’s got you doing exactly what he wants without you even knowing it.

Liam pushes his finger in while asking, “How many other people, exactly?”

Zayn blinks down at him, lips parted, like he doesn’t understand the question at first. When he does his lips try to lift into their normal grin but they don’t quite get there. “Why, jealous?” Liam moves his finger, dragging it back out slowly in a way that he knows Zayn feels completely. “The bar’s set pretty high, Liam, you’re going to have to --fuck.”

Liam grins sweetly up at him. “You were saying?”

Zayn’s fallen off his elbows, head back against one of the pillows. He lifts it just enough to glare at Liam, but his hands are curled into the blankets and his thighs shake when Liam finds that spot inside of him again so it’s not really all that affective. Still, he manages to get out, much less breathlessly than Liam would have liked, “Come on, babe, you’re going to have to do better than that.”

Liam pushes another finger into him and Zayn lets out a reluctant, soft moan. He spreads his fingers and twists them a bit as he wraps his freehand around Zayn’s cock, jerking him too slowly to do much more than keep him frustrated. Zayn retaliates by pushing down on his fingers and up into his hand.

Zayn’s mouth opens again but Liam pushes a third finger into him before Zayn can tell him to, knowing that that’s what he was going to say. The blanket is bunched up in his hands by this point, and he looks at Liam with both lust and resentment, like he’s trying to find something to complain about, trying to keep the upper hand, and can’t. The thought makes Liam grin at him again.

“Stop -- looking so pleased with yourself-- and fuck me, yeah?”

Liam frowns at him once again and reaches up to grab the condom, after pulling his fingers out slowly, which had fallen out of Zayn’s hand a bit ago. He rips it open with his teeth and Zayn rolls his eyes. “Like I haven’t seen that one before.”

“Are you always this cocky?” Liam demands, pausing in pulling the condom out of the wrapper.

Zayn -- the asshole -- lifts a shoulder in a shrug. “I’m just trying to see how far I have to push you until you fuck me into the mattress the way you look pretty tempted to.”

Liam slides the condom on and then slicks himself up a bit more before moving up Zayn’s body. He fists a hand in Zayn’s hair and tugs, exposing his throat as he guides himself to Zayn’s hole, pushing in as he bites down on the slightly paler skin of his neck. Zayn’s legs go around his back, pulling him farther in, and Liam bites down harder, holding back the moan that bubbles up in his throat.

Zayn is hot and tight and god, he really is beautiful, isn’t he? It’s not that Liam is just realizing it, it’s just that he’s a little overwhelmed by it all of sudden. The eyes, the lips, the cheekbones (which are stained pink), the hair, the tattoos. It’s dizzying, really, how pretty he is.

“You’re really beautiful, you know that?” Liam finds himself saying.

Zayn’s eyes narrow. “If I wanted you to make love to me I would have made you buy me dinner first.”

Liam’s not really surprised. Zayn is increasingly irritating. Liam wonders what he’s going to have to do to get him to shut up.

He grabs the back of Zayn’s knees from where they’re wrapped around him and pushes them up until his legs are over Liam’s shoulders. Zayn’s eyebrows raise appreciatively. Liam’s hands slide down his calves, keeping a firm grip on them as he pulls out a bit and then pushes back in with a lot less hesitancy than he did the first time. Zayn’s eyes fall closed.

He can feel a drop of sweat falling down his temple, can see the sheen of it on Zayn’s forehead and chest, too. His hands are slipping on Zayn’s legs but he just tightens his grip and keeps up his rhythm, liking the way their bodies move together, the way Zayn’s breath hitches when he hits that spot inside him, or the way his restlessness extends even to this. His fingers uncurl from the blanket and he leans up to put a hand on the back of Liam’s neck. Then he falls back down again and overlaps Liam’s hands with his own. Then he reaches up to wipe a bead of sweat off Liam’s forehead. It’s like he can’t decide what he wants, until he wraps a hand around himself and tries to mimic Liam’s rhythm with his hand while gasping out, “Faster, babe, come on.”

Liam can feel himself getting close, knows it’s only a matter of time now, really, but he’s trying to hold off. He doesn’t want to see the smug look on Zayn’s face if he comes first, knows without a doubt that he will be smug about it.

Liam releases Zayn’s legs and they slide down to curl around his back again as Liam puts a hand on Zayn’s shoulder to ground himself, the other one curling over the edge of the headboard. The sound of skin hitting skin is loud in the room, coupled with Liam’s ragged breaths and Zayn’s breathless gasps.

“Like that,” Zayn says, fisting himself faster. “Just like that, Liam. Just -- fuck.”

Liam doesn’t get how he’s still forming coherent sentences because he’s beyond that point himself. And the way Zayn says his name is just too much for him, and he gives up any pretence of holding off any longer. His hips jerk forward and he thrusts into Zayn once, twice, and just as he feels that familiar tightening in his stomach becoming too much, Zayn clenches around him, head thrown back, and comes over his hand between them. Liam groans, knuckles turning white where they’re curled over the headboard as he shudder out his own release, too.

He feels drained as he comes down from his orgasm, and he considers just collapsing right on top of Zayn and staying there. He doesn’t think that’d be comfortable for either of them, though, so instead he pulls out of the other boy slowly and then turns and falls onto his back, trying to catch his breath. At least Zayn looks just as wrecked as he does, strands of hair stuck to his forehead, chest rising and falling rapidly.

Zayn’s body stays in the same position -- legs spread wide, arms at his side -- but he turns his head and gazes at Liam with heavily lidded eyes. “Garbage,” he says, lifting a hand to point to the right corner of the room, just beside the computer desk. “Towels in the bathroom.”

Liam groans but sits up because he knows he has to. He knots off the condom and throws it in the garbage, stopping only to pull on his boxers before heading to the bathroom. He finds a hand towel under the sink and wets it a bit before returning to the room. Zayn sits up, only long enough to clean himself off, and then hands the towel back to Liam, who snorts and puts it in the laundry basket just to the left of the door before turning off the light.

He pulls the covers back and Zayn climbs underneath them, instantly curling into Liam’s side.

“You may have raised the bar,” Zayn says softly, tracing Liam’s collarbone with his fingers.

“I’m pretty sure I just fucked you,” Liam answers. “But it feels a hell of a lot like you just fucked me.”

He doesn’t need to see Zayn to know that the other boy is smirking.

 

--

 

The next morning when Zayn’s handing him the milk Liam pauses and lets his eyes rake down Zayn’s body -- clad in just a pair of tight white briefs that not only look good against his skin tone, but that show off the smooth muscles of his legs and a lot more -- before resting on his face once again.

“What?” Zayn asks, fidgeting.

Liam shrugs, a small smile spreading onto his face. “Just thinking that you look just as good in the light of day as you did last night.”

“Shut up and make your eggs,” Zayn orders, but he’s got a soft smile on his face as he drums his fingers on the counter.