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Something Contraband

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Liam comes back into the room twenty minutes later to find me staring at the ceiling. I barely look over when he comes in. 

He kicks his shoes off and lays down next to me. "What're you thinking about, babe?" 

I slowly roll my head to the side to watch his reaction as I respond, "Zayn." 

His eyes squint slightly in confusion, studying my face. "Should I be worried?" 

I reach for his hand as I shake my head. "I need to ask, but I'm not accusing you of anything, I swear." 

He frowns. "I don’t like where this is going." 

I bite my lip, trying to corral my courage. "Do you have any feelings for Zayn? Not-so-very-platonic feelings?" 

The seconds that pass before he replies tells me all I need to know. 

"Nothing that compares to my feelings for you," he says, turning his body to face me as he props his head up on an elbow. "Nothing can change how much I love you. He's my best friend. That's it. I promise." 

I take a deep breath and slowly exhale. "I just needed to hear it. Thank you." 

His arms wrap around me in a hug. "Good to know you trust me, baby." 

"I do trust you," I confirm. "I just – well, I was feeling a little confused and insecure." 

"Sorry, babe. We've developed a routine together on tour. It's hard to switch it off." He rolls over on top of me and leans in to press a kiss to my neck. 

"I love you," I tell him. More than I can express

He smiles against my jawline, continuing his path of kisses up to my mouth. "Love you, too." 

I just want you to be happy. 

His mouth brushes against mine, tongue darting out to taste my lips. 

I could make you happy. . . but together we could make you even happier. 

Our lips slot together and my eyes fall closed, savoring the connection. 

I'll have to make sure Zayn and I are compatible. . .  

His fingers dig into one hip and I know he's trying to remind himself this isn't leading very far – not today – not when my body is still punishing me for surviving another month without getting pregnant. 

I don't want to be, like, sister wives. . . we'd have to be romantically involved, too. I'd have to love him as much as I love Liam. . . What if he couldn't love me as much as Liam? 

"You seem distracted," Liam mumbles against my lips. 

I don't even know if Zayn's attracted to me. What if Zayn's actually gay? 

I thread my fingers through Liam's short hair, lightly tugging. "Sorry, my brain won't shut up." 

He chuckles, lightly, pressing his nose into my neck. "Maybe we should do something more distracting." 

I smirk. "Like continue your education in Doctor Who?" 




"So what did you two do all day?" Harry asks. Cameras flash from a distance as we walk around beneath the Eiffel Tower. 

I smile and life one shoulder in a shrug. "Nothin' much. It's just good to be together." 

"Yeah? You two are going out tomorrow, right?" 

"I think so. He hasn't really told me what his plans are." I aim my phone's camera up to take a shot from under the tower. 

"You wanna go up?" Harry asks. 

I shake my head. "Let's just go out and take some cute pictures," I request, pointing towards the grassy area ahead. 




We're seated at a fancy restaurant before I convince myself to get Harry's advice on my crazy situation. 

"I need to talk to you," I say. "And I need you not to tell anyone – not yet." 

Harry's eyes study me across the table, concern etching his forehead. "Including Lou?" 

I nod. "Just for now. I don't want it getting back to Liam before I'm ready." 

"Riles, are you . . . you're not pregnant, are you?" 

"No! No. Nothing like that. I'm actually on my period right now, so that's definitely not a thing to worry about." 

He nods, minutely. "Okay, what is it, then?" 

I bite my lip and stare down at the table, searching for the best way to phrase my dilemma. "I talked to Zayn earlier," I tell him, folding my hands together and looking up at him. "And he – well. . . yeah, he's got feelings for Li. And I asked Liam and he assured me that he loves me and all, but I know he feels something for Zayn, too." 

Harry nods, listening intently. 

"And I don't - " I take a deep breath. "I don't want to be the one keeping them apart - " 

"Riley, you'd absolutely break Liam's heart if you broke up with him," Harry assures me. 

I shake my head. "I don't – I don't want to break up with him. God, that' the last thing I want. I love him. I just – I had this crazy idea – I mean, I think it might work – I want it to work, but I dunno - " 

"Spit it out, Ri," Harry prods.  

I let out an awkward laugh. "I'm thinking about asking Zayn if he'd want to – like, be in a relationship with us." I rush out the words, slightly shocked to hear them out loud after they'd bounced around my head all afternoon. 

"The three of you? Together?" He asks, surprised. 

I nod, biting the inside of my cheek. 

The waiter arrives with our first course, giving our conversation a pause as Harry thanks the man in French and requests he leave the bottle of wine. 

"I think we're gonna need this," Harry teases me, topping off my glass of wine. "So you haven't asked Liam about this yet? Or Zayn?" 

I shake my head. "I think – I mean, I don't know if Z's even, like, attracted to me. So I thought I'd get his thoughts on it first. . . I don't want to get Li's hopes up if Zayn's not even interested." 

"And you think Liam is interested?" 

"He wouldn't want to admit it, but Zayn could make him really happy." 

Harry's eyes study me as he takes a few bites, chewing and swallowing and watching me. "But are you doing this because you want this? Or just because you think Liam does?" 

"Both. I love Li. I love him more than I've ever loved anybody and all I care about is making him happy. And yeah, I know I could make him happy on my own – I mean, he is happy. But he's be even happier with me and Zayn." 

"And you wanna be in a relationship with Zayn, too? Because if you're all gonna take a go at this, it'll have to be you and Liam, Zayn and Liam, and you and Zayn," Harry reminds me. 

"I know. I like Zayn. He's attractive and he's so loyal and protective of those he cares about. I think we could be good together." I grin. "We've both got good taste – falling for the same guy. And, yeah, I know it's going to take more effort for the relationship with Zayn to work at first, but I'm willing to try." 

Harry drills me through the rest of dinner and I finally ask if he really thinks it’s a horrible idea. 

"I just want to make sure you know what you're doing," he replies with a small shake of his head. "There's a lot that could go wrong, babe." 

"I know," I say, looking down at my hands. 

"You'll just have to be careful," he continues. "You're just piling on the secrets you have to keep, love. But I'm not – that's not me saying you shouldn't do it. If it's gonna make you happy, then go for it." 

I grin. "Yeah?" 

He reaches across the table for my hand and smiles. "Of course." 




"Are you sure I can't tell Louis?" Harry pleads in the elevator. We just returned to the hotel after finishing the paparazzi date with a sweet kiss outside the restaurant. 

"I don't want it getting back to them before I get a chance to talk to them," I insist. 

Harry's quiet for a moment and then he grins. "Why don't you come spend the night with us? And then you can tell him." 

"That's not the point, Haz - " 

"But we're your best mates and we've barely had any time with you - " 

"Because I came to see Liam - " 

"And soon you're gonna be spending even more time balancing your relationships and less time with us. . . " Harry turns on the puppy eyes and I'm giving in by the time we reach our floor. 




"Hey, babe. Harry's con - " I stop, surprised to find Zayn in Liam's room and Liam nowhere in sight. 

"He's just jumped in the shower," Zayn supplies with a small apologetic smile. 

"Oh, I guess I'll - " I close the door behind me and cross the room to sit on the end of the bed. "What've you two been up to tonight?" 

"Just catching up on Arrow," he replies. "How was your date?" 

My mind darts forward to how this situation could go in the future, if everything works out: Zayn asking about my date with Harry as he marks up my neck. . . By the time Liam exits the shower, Zayn has me naked and moaning on the bed. Liam -- 

"Riley?" Zayn's voice interrupts. "You okay? You look a little heated." 

I close my eyes, flustered and blushing. "It's nothing. Date was great. We went to see the Eiffel Tower – it's absolutely gorgeous at night. Wandered around the Louvre for a while." 

"Good," Zayn murmurs, unsure where to take the conversation from here. 

"Did you guys get all caught up on Arrow?" 

"Yeah, you like that show?" He asks. 

"I love that show." I dart a glance at the bathroom door – still closed. "Stephen Amell is – well, he's a beautiful specimen and I love his Oliver." 

Zayn chuckles. "You saying you don't watch Arrow for the plot?" 

I grin. "Maybe not entirely." 

"He is pretty impressive. That salmon ladder thing he does – it's crazy difficult." 

"Are you saying you've tried it, Mr. Malik?" I ask and suddenly realize I'm flirting with him. 

"Liam dared me," Zayn replies with a shrug. 

"Wait, can Liam do it?" I can't keep the incredulity from my voice. 

"Not yet. I'm sure a word or two from you would have him working harder on it, though." 

I smirk. "Well, we'd all enjoy that view, wouldn't we?" 

Zayn chuckles, uncomfortable. 

I bite my lip. Liam should be out any second, but - "Zayn?" He look back over at me. "We need to talk. Before I leave. Not now - " I dart a glance at the bathroom door. "Maybe tomorrow?" 

"About what? I told you, you don't have to worry about - " 

I shake my head and hear the water stop in the bathroom. "I'm not worried. I just – I need to talk to you. I've got a – uh, a proposition of sorts." 

He squints suspiciously at me and then Liam is exiting the bathroom in a cloud of steam. 

"Hey, baby," Liam greets me, coming over to lean down for a kiss. 

"Hey, Harry's convinced me to stay with them for the night, so I'm just here for a few," I apologize. 

Liam pouts before sauntering over to his suitcase. He drops the towel around his waist as he starts digging for a pair of boxers. I can't help looking over to see Zayn's reaction and he seems to be swallowing thickly by the way his Adam's apple bobs; his gaze fixed on the floor. 

"Came for a goodnight kiss, then?" Liam teases, turning around as he pulls a pair of boxers on. His soft cock is visible for only a moment, but Zayn being in the room and my fantasy a few moments ago has me cursing my uterus. It's been entirely too long since I've felt him deep inside me. 

"Yeah, just wanted to let you know," I reply, slightly flushed. 

Liam gives me a knowing look with a smirk. "Z, could you give us a minute?" He requests. 

Zayn quickly agrees and escapes, mumbling something about seeing Louis. 

Liam's across the room, pressing me back against the bed as soon as the door clicks shut behind his bandmate. His lips press to mine and my fingers thread into his short hair, clinging to him. 

"God," he curses, so close I can feel his breath across my lips. "Love how you react to me. Just – fuck, Riley." He pulls my bottom lip between his teeth, sucking lightly. 

"T-tomorrow," I stutter out as his hand squeezes my breast. I'm in a dress that won't let him access bare skin easily, but it isn't stopping him.  

"What about tomorrow?" He asks. 

"Tomorrow night – I think I can – my period usually only lasts – about three days – so – tomorrow night we can - " He's mouthing at a sensitive spot just below my ear and my whole body is arching up to touch him. He's hard; it's not easy to miss with his think boxers being his only piece of clothing. "You can – I mean - " I slide our hips together, indicating what I can't seem to voice. 

He shakes his head, eyes closed. "I can – I can wait. Tomorrow." 

I flip us over so I can lean over him, pressing kisses down his chest. I drag my tongue across a nipple and he moans, low and gorgeous. 

I reach down and squeeze him through his boxers. "Let me take care of you," I whisper into his ear. 

"Baby," he whines.  

I lean back to help him maneuver out of his boxers before moving down to press kisses to the inside of his thighs. I brush my fingers along his shaft before biting a mark into his bare hip.  

"Please, babe." 

I consent to his pleas and reach for the bedside table drawer, pulling out a bottle of lube to squirt a little on my fingers. I rub them together, warming the cool substance and maneuver up to press our mouths together again. I wrap my fingers around his impressive length and slowly start stroking him, not quite giving him the friction he craves.  

"Riley," he begs, a hint of frustration edging his voice. 

It feels so good to have him under me, nude and hard, while I'm still fully clothed. It gives me a rush of adrenaline to be in control. 

I smear the pre-cum around him as I tighten my hold and start sliding up and down his length. He thrusts up into my hand, wanting more speed, more friction. I kiss my way down his chest and take his tip into my mouth – swirling my tongue around and increasing the speed of my hand. 

"Ri – I'm - " he stutters out a few moments later. I pull back, removing my mouth and continuing with both hands, pulling and twisting and squeezing until he's coming – white ropes shooting across the front of my dress. 

I wipe my hands on the bedspread and move to lay next to him. "How's that for a goodnight kiss?" I smirk. 

He grins over at me, still catching his breath. "I love you." 

I press a small kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Love you, too. . . Think Zayn'll stay? Since I'm going down the hall?" 

He studies my face. "That's alright with you, right?" 

I smile and nod. "Absolutely. I trust you." I press a kiss to his lips. "Both of you." 

Chapter Text

"What took so long?" Louis teases as I enter his and Harry's room. 

"Just helping my man out with something." I grin. 

"I ordered popcorn," Harry informs me.  

"With butter, I hope," I reply. "Lots of butter." I sit on the end of the bed and Louis looks at me, expectantly. 

"Haz says you've got something to tell me?" He asks. "He seems to think I'd be interested." 


"What? You agreed to tell him," Harry insists. 

"I thought we could build up to it! Not just blurt it out," I protest. 

Harry smirks. "It's more fun if you just blurt it out." 

Louis's eyes dart between us. "I'm assuming this isn't a bad thing?" 

"Well, uh – I think I'm going to – um - " I stumble over my words, trying to grasp the best way to state my plan. 

"She's asking Zayn to enter into a polyamorous relationship with her and Liam," Harry says, the words coming so easily to the one not directly involved. 

Louis's mouth drops open slightly in surprise. 

I glare at Harry. "I guess that's the gist of it." 

Harry laughs at Louis's reaction. "I knew he'd be surprised." 

"I didn't know you liked Zayn," Louis finally says. 

"Well, he's, uh – yeah, he's fucking gorgeous, right? No denying that." 

Louis frowns. "You can't build a relationship on looks alone. I'm sure Liam would be up for an occasional threesome with him if that's all you're wanting." 

I blush. "No, that's not - he's in love with Liam and Liam - I think he'd feel the same if I weren't in the picture. It's just - It's complicated. But, yeah. Zayn's great. I think we could be – more for each other, too." 

Louis studies me for a moment. "You sure about this? It's a lot - " 

Harry chuckles. "Already asked her that several times over." 

"And Liam - " 

"Doesn't know yet," I cut him off. 

"Oh? And when are you talking to him about this?" Louis quirks an eyebrow at me. "You've now told two out of five members of this band and neither have any say in what you're proposing." 

"I was only going to tell Harry - " 

"You weren't planning on telling me?!" Louis protests. 

I shoot him a glare. "Not until I'd talked to them, no. But Harry wanted me to tell you and he's persuasive when he wants to be." 

"And when are you telling them?" 

"I ran into Zayn in Li's room and told him I wanted to talk to him before I head home." 

Harry smirks. "You ran into Zayn?" 

I roll my eyes, fighting down a smile. "Well, he does seem to constantly be in Liam's room." 

"You're talking to Z before your boyfriend?" Louis asks, concerned. "You sure that's a good idea?" 

I nod. "I wanna make sure he's open to it first. See if we could be together – make sure the potential for feelings is there. I know it won't work if we're both just in love with Liam and don't have any feelings for each other. 'Cause I know I'd get jealous and he'd probably get jealous, too. And yeah. I want to know if Zayn and I have potential first." 

"So you have thought this through." 

I roll my eyes. "I'd never suggest it if I hadn't." 

"Liam's a lucky man," Louis comments. "You are one of a kind, Riley." 

I grin. "Thanks. I just hope he takes it as intended and doesn't think I'm trying to leave him or something." 

Both men chuckle. 

"Just don't do anything stupid." 

"It'll be fine," Harry tries to assure me. "Just be careful." 




Liam presses his lips to mine. "Missed you last night." 

I smile, slightly. "Zayn's company not enough for you?" 

He shakes his head. "Z didn't stay last night. He went out and went back to his own room, I assume. Besides, I definitely prefer my girl's company." He grins. 

I pull him down into another kiss. "Glad to hear that." 

"We've got the whole day to ourselves," he reminds me, lips barely breaking from mine. 

I turn away, guilty. "Actually - " 

"Riley," he pouts. 

"Just lunch with Harry," I apologize. "Katherine called this morning." 

He sighs. 

"It is technically what I'm here for," I quietly remind him. "I'd rather just be here with you, but - " 

"I know," he cuts me off. His arms slip around me, pulling me into a hug. "You know I love you, right?" 

I nod into his chest.  

"I'm just a little frustrated with the whole situation. It's not you – it's just - " 

"I know, babe. It's just a little complicated." 

"I don't deserve you," he murmurs. 

I chuckle, pulling back to look into his eyes. "Few people would take me on with this mess. I'm not sure I deserve you either." 

Liam just kisses me in response. His hands slide down to my hips as his tongue darts across my lips. I sigh, allowing him to deepen the kiss as my hands grip his shoulders. His tongue teases mine and his fingers slowly slip under my shirt. 

I stop his hands and push him away a few centimeters. "Have to leave in a half-hour," I tell him. "Don't have time for a shower - " 

His lips stop me. "No sexy times," he murmurs.  

I giggle and he takes the opportunity to back into the nearby armchair and pull me into his lap. 

"Love you," he murmurs just before crushing his lips to mine again. 

He silently reminds me how much he wants me – his fingers pressing into my hips and his tongue curling around mine. I reciprocate, assuring him I feel the same – letting my fingers slide through the short hair just above his neck and moving my hips against him. His hands glide up my thighs and he jerks away, glancing down. "Riley," he pouts, pushing at the edge of the Spanx covering my thighs. 

I barely contain the giggle threatening to burst out of my mouth. "What?" I ask, innocently. 

His fingers dig under the material for a second before disappearing. "Like a bloody chastity belt," he mutters. 

A chuckle escapes me and he glares at me, barely containing a smile. "Sorry, I'm all ready for my date with Harry." 

"As if the mood wasn't sufficiently killed." 

I smirk. "You mean you don't want to hear about my other man?" 

He pouts. "Not particularly." 

"Not one to share?" I ask, quirking an eyebrow. 

He pauses a moment before shaking his head. 

I almost blurt it out – another few seconds and I would have, but Liam's phone chooses that moment to ring. 

"Yeah?" He answers. "Of course – okay – Yeah. Five minutes? - Okay, thanks." He ends the call. "I've got a last-minute radio interview in five," he tells me with a sigh. 

I press a kiss to his lips. "That's okay. I'll head out early." 

"At least our date's tonight," he apologizes, brushing a strand of hair out of my face. 

I smile. "I'm looking forward to it." 




"Liam sent me," Zayn explains. "He's tied up with some recording. Was supposed to be done in time, but they've had some technical issues. And they're insisting he get it done today." 

I blink and shake my head, clearing the surprise from my face. "Oh, okay. Thanks." 

Zayn hesitates a moment. "Should be about twenty minutes; if you still wanted to talk." 

I nod, trying to ignore the way my hands start to shake. I didn't realize I was so nervous about this conversation. "Yeah, come on in," I tell him, opening the door further to let him pass me.  

"You look nice," he comments, a small attempt to break the tension that settles as the door clicks shut behind him. 

I blush, slightly. "Thanks." 

"Is this about Liam?" 

"Yes. I haven't discussed this with him yet, but I know you both have – feelings for each other and - " 

Zayn shakes his head, frustrated. "That we have no intentions of acting on. He's in love with you." 

"I know. I'm in love with him, too. And I want him to be happy – as happy as he can be." I pause, taking a deep breath. "I think he'd be open to a polyamorous relationship with you and I wanted to know if that – uhm – interested you? At all?" 

He stares at me. There's no discernable expression for me to interpret.  

I stutter on. "I mean – I'm not – I'm not sure if you're even attracted to girls, much less me, but I just – I just think it could work. And I haven't actually talked to Li about it yet, like I said..." I stop as he starts towards the door. "Zayn, you can just say 'no' and I won't - " 

He locks the door and comes back to stand directly in front of me. His eyes lock with mine. A deep breath. "Are you serious?" 

I nod. 

"Just because we're both in love with him?" 

I shake my head. "Because he's in love with both of us." 

There's disbelief in his eyes before he turns and stalks over to an armchair. "This is crazy." 

I sit gingerly on the edge of the bed, trying to avoid wrinkling my dress. "Not that crazy," I mumble, defensive. 

"You're Harry's beard, Liam's girlfriend, and now you want to add me into the mix?" 

I shrug. "Yeah. If you'd like to be. I know we don't know each other very well - " 

Zayn huffs. "No kidding." 

"We can get to know each other. We don't have to tell Liam - " 

"We can't not tell Liam, Ri." 

"We can if there's nothing to tell," I insist. "We could just talk more. Get to know each other as friends. It's not like anything can really happen when I'm on a different continent." 

Zayn frowns. 

"Are you interested?" I ask. "I mean – are you willing to think about this?" 

"I'm just not sure about Liam. I don't want to lie to him." 

"I'm not saying we should lie to him," I assure him. "It's just – we need to – I need to know this could work between us before we propose this – relationship to him." 

"I don't know, Riley. I've gotta think about this." 

I nod. "Of course. It's a lot to – to process." 

"Riley - " He freezes as someone twists the doorknob, trying to enter the room. "I'm not saying 'no', I've just got to think this through," he whispers before walking over to unlock the door. "Sorry, Li. Guess I locked it on the way in." 

"No problem." Liam brushes past him. "I'm sorry, babe. I've just got to change and we can go." He leans over to press a kiss to my cheek. "You look beautiful," he whispers into my ear. 

I grin. "No problem." 

Liam shuffles through his suitcase for a moment and then darts into the bathroom to brush his teeth. 

"We'll talk later," Zayn quietly assures me. 

"Please think about it." 

His eyes travel down my body – from the low-cut dress to the flats on my feet. "Oh, I'll be thinking about it." He smirks. 

I blush, glancing away. 

"I'll talk to you later, Li," Zayn calls towards the bathroom before exiting the room. 

"Thanks, Z." 

I straighten my dress and double-check my hair in the mirror while I wait for Liam. 

He appears behind me a moment later, wrapping his arms around my middle. "Did I tell you you look beautiful?" He asks, pressing a kiss to my shoulder. "Because you look amazing, baby." 

I smile. "We make a fairly good-looking pair." 

"We should get going." 

"And where are we going, Mr. Payne?" 

He grins. "You'll see." 




"A cooking class?" I ask, surprise coloring my voice. 

"Private lesson," he clarifies. "To make macaroons." 

My eyes widen as a grin splits across my face. 

"Yeah, I hoped you'd like it." He smiles, eyes crinkling. 

"Oh my word, yes. Thank you!" I wrap my arms around him in a quick hug. 

He presses a kiss to my cheek. "More to come," he whispers. 




Our macaroons were no Lauderee, but tasted good if nothing else. We boxed up most of them to take back to the boys. 

We walk down the sidewalk holding hands. It felt oddly freeing, such a small act. Liam stops and buys me a painting when he catches me looking too long. I insist it's going to his place and he seems pleased. We walk down some stone steps to a small boat on the Seine and he helps me in. 

"A boat ride?" 

"Terribly romantic, I know." He smiles. 

It is a stunning view and thrilling to cuddle into Liam's side out in the open like this. 

"Would you like to put a lock on the bridge?" He asks as we walk up a different set of steps back up to the road. 

"I'd love to," I immediately agree. 

We proceed towards the famous bridge, stopping shortly to buy a silver lock and a sharpie. 

"What should we write?" I ask. 

"Always?" He suggests with a grin. 

"You are such a Harry Potter nerd." 

He chuckles and opens the Sharpie, carefully marking our initials on one side and 'love you always' on the other. 

"Perfect," I murmur, turning and kissing his shoulder. 

His arm slips around my waist and leads me to the fence.  

He takes the key and hands me the open lock. I stare at the fence for a moment before squeezing our lock in next to a small gold padlock. I glance over at Liam before clicking it shut. He smiles and we step a few feet away. He presses a kiss to the small key and I take his hand and do the same. 

"Love you," he murmurs. 


Our fingers thread together as we turn away from the water and Liam tosses the key over our heads. He pulls me into a kiss as soon as we hear the key hit the water. "We should - " Kiss. " - get back to the - " Kiss. "- hotel." 

I nod and we quickly hail a cab. I text Louis and Harry to create a distraction and notice that Zayn's texted me: 


Hope you two have a good night. ;) 


I feel my cheeks flushing with color. A winky face. A damn winky face and he's got me blushing. 

"You okay?" Liam murmurs into my ear. 

I nod and let my hand settle on the inside of his thigh for the rest of the trip. 




Liam pulls me over to the bed as the door closes behind us. He hasn't touched me since we left the cab downstairs, limiting our contact to our intertwined fingers. 

His hands settle at my hips as he sits down in front of me. "You okay?" he asks. "We don't have to - " 

I grin, leaning down to stop him with a quick kiss. "I'm good. Please just take my clothes off and have your way with me," I whisper. 

He pulls me in for another kiss and reaches around to unzip my dress. 

I break the kiss just long enough to drop the fabric to the floor and kick my shoes off as I climb into his lap. 

"Gorgeous," he murmurs before our lips clash together. 

The strapless bra is gone in another moment and his fingers come back around to fondle my breasts. I gasp as his thumb and forefinger pinch at my nipple. Liam leans in and presses a kiss to each hardening nub before continuing to pinch and tease at both breasts until I'm writhing in his lap. My panties are wet and he hasn't even removed his clothes yet. 

We're kissing again and I don't know which of us started it. I can feel his cock through his jeans and I can't help rubbing against it. 

He flips us around a moment later, laying me down on the bed. He pulls my panties down and off before removing every stitch of his own clothing. 

His bare skin presses down against mine and my whole body sings in gratitude. 

"Been too long," he mutters, pressing kisses across my chest. "Missed this." 

"C'mon," I plead. "Want you." 

He grabs a condom off the bedside table, quickly tears it open and slides it on. Another lingering kiss and then he lays down on his back, tugging me on top of him. 

"Want you on top," he says, eyes dark with lust. "Wanna see you ride me." 

I whimper, slightly, too turned on to form a coherent response. I kiss him a few more moments, reaching down to finger myself. I guide him into me and slowly sink down onto him. I pull back every couple inches, rolling my hips as I adjust to the feel of him. 

His eyes are clenched shut. "Fuck, baby," he mutters, gripping my hips. "So good. Yes. You've got this, baby. Fuck." He's trying his hardest to remain still and let me set the pace. 

I finally sit all the way down on his cock and can't help but moan at how deep he is. I vaguely realize my nails are digging into his chest, but it takes me a minute to release him. Half-moon indents are red across his chest. I circle my hips, enjoying the feel of him. 

"Yes. Yes. Move, baby," Liam says, voice cracking slightly. "Feels so good. So tight." 

I take a deep breath and start moving – up and down; rolling my hips; and everything feels incredible. Liam starts meeting me thrust for thrust and then I feel my orgasm coming as my thighs start to shake and little noises escape my throat. 

A curse word falls from my lips as I feel it crash over me – wave after blissful wave. 

I come down from the high and Liam flips us, still hard. I start to apologize, but then he's between my legs, lapping up every drop that had been wrung out of me.  

"Li – Li – Liii," I exclaim. 

His tongue pushes between my folds, brushing across my sensitive clit before pushing farther into me. 

My whole body tenses, trying to process and cling to these new jolts of pleasure. I'm mumbling his name until the words slur into little noises that don't make any sense.  

His mouth moves back up to lightly suck on my clit and I see stars, shivering from head to foot as another orgasm rips through my body. 

Liam cleans me up with his tongue and then moves up to lay beside me. "God, I love you." 

"You, too," I manage to mumble. Sleepiness is pressing in after two orgasms. "Did you - " 

He hums, wrapping his arms around me to spoon. "Love taking care of you." 

"I – you – fuck, Li." 

He chuckles, just barely. "We'll go again in the morning, yeah?" 

"Yeah. Hmm. Yes, please," I mumble before falling asleep. 

Chapter Text

Liam hums into my bare shoulder. "That was..." 

"A good wake-up call?" I suggest with a smirk. 

He nods into my shoulder and we fall into a comfortable silence to catch our breath. 

"I'll be replaying that for weeks," he murmurs. 

I blush. "I hope so." 

"Wish I could take you to the station later." 

I turn and kiss his forehead. "I know, babe. Harry'll get me there safe, though." 

He smiles. "You know that's not the point." 

"Yeah, I know." 

"We've got all day, though. Train's not leaving til – what? - eight?" 

I nod. 

"So we don't need to get out of bed 'til seven?" 

I giggle. "I don't think that's the best plan." Besides, I've got to get Zayn alone to talk at some point... 

He moves his hand up to cup my breast. "I think it's the perfect plan." His fingers start kneading at the soft flesh and my nipple is quickly perking up in interest. His thumbnail scrapes across it and I can't stop a little sigh escaping my mouth. 

"This girl seems interested in my plan," he whispers, propping himself up on an elbow to watch. 

"I never said we had to get up now," I insist before capturing his lips in a searing kiss. 




"Hey," Louis's voice answers. "We wanted to see if you could come talk for a bit." 

"Talk about what?" I inquire, watching Liam get dressed across the room. 

"There's a certain tall, dark, and handsome individual here that needs to talk." 

"Oh, um, okay. Yeah, I'll be down in a sec. I need to make sure I've packed anyways." 

I hang up the phone and promise Liam that I won't be gone long. 

I unlock the door to my room and find Zayn waiting. "You told Harry and Louis?" He asks, clearly irritated. 

"Yeah, they, uh, yeah, I did." 

"I think we need to tell Liam." 

I shake my head. "We haven't even done anything – or even really decided to do anything. I can't bring this to him before we're both ready to commit." 

Zayn sighs. "We can't just lie to him." 

"Just – not yet. Please." 

"I'm not touching you before we tell him," Zayn insists. "You shouldn't even be emotionally cheating on him, Riley." 

"I know! It's just – it's complicated. But we barely know each other and – you two are already so close - " 

"Riley, we've snogged a couple times, but you're the one in a relationship with him. You're the one he's in love with." 

I falter. "Maybe we should tell him. But – no, like, commitment? Not yet. Just tell him we'd like to see if we're compatible before we decide to try this?" 

The tension in Zayn's shoulders releases as he nods. "Yes, please. I understand your wanting to keep it secret, but I'm just not comfortable with that. Especially when Haz and Louis already know." 

"They'd never say anything." 

"No, I know they wouldn't intentionally, but what if they slipped up? It could ruin both of our relationships with Liam." 

I bite my lip and nod. 

"It'll be better this way," he assures me, stepping up to stand in front of me. 

"Are you sure?" I ask, still hesitant. 

He smiles, hands coming up to rub my arms. "I’m sure that I don't want to lie to my best mate," he replies. "And if we're going to give this a try – you, me, and Liam – then we can't start it with a lie." 

His fingers leave warm trails up and down my arms as I nod again. "You're right. I'm just – you think he'll go for it?" 

Zayn chuckles. "You've had more time to think this over, what d'you think?" 

"Yeah, I think so. I hope so." My voice shakes slightly and Zayn pulls me into a hug. 

"I know this was your idea and all, but you're allowed to change your mind. Honestly, I'm in. I'm willing to try this, but - " 

"No," I murmur into his chest. "I want this. We should - " 

"Baby," Liam starts, stepping through the door. "Do you need any - " He stops and Zayn and I jump apart. Confusion and hurt and anger all flash across his face. "What're you doing here?" He finally asks Zayn. 

He glances at me before replying. "I needed to talk to Riley and now we both need to talk to you." 

Liam studies us for a moment. "About what?" 

Zayn and I exchange a look. "I think I should..." I tell him. He nods and sits down on the edge of the couch, nervous. 

I walk over to take Liam's hand and lead him over to sit in the middle of the couch. He's expecting something bad, I can tell by the set of his mouth and the way he isn't clinging to my hand like he usually does. 

I squeeze his in reassurance, leaning in to whisper "I love you" and kiss his cheek. "I had a crazy idea," I tell him, returning to normal volume. Zayn snorts and I shoot him a little glare. "I talked to Zayn about it yesterday and he's thought about it..." Zayn nods. "And he's open to the idea..." 

Liam's gaze slowly studies both of us as he waits for me to continue.  

"You weren't great at telling me either," Zayn teases. "Just spit it out." 

"I asked him if he'd be interested in entering into a – relationship – with us." 

Liam's eyebrows raise, but otherwise he doesn't react. 

"Because I know how you two feel about each other – well, I don't know know, but - " 

"Z, could you give me a minute with my girl?" Liam cuts me off. "You still got a key to my room?" 

A look of terror flashes across his face in an instant. "You can – you can say 'no' to this," Zayn insists. "I'm fine with - " 

Liam shakes his head. "I will give this more than a few seconds thought, I promise. I just want to talk to Riley alone and then I'll come speak to you before we reconvene." 

Zayn nods, some of the tension leaving his shoulders. "I'll be down the hall then." 

"Thanks, Z." Liam nods, waiting for the door to close behind him before speaking to me. "You do not need to do this, baby. I love you and I want to be with you. Don't ever doubt that." 

I smile. "I'm not doubting that, Li. I love you, too. And I definitely want to be with you. I'm just – I'm offering the opportunity to, uh, branch out? We'd take this slow, of course. Me and Zayn barely know each other, so for the moment we really just want to get to know each other – see if this could really work." 

"Are you not happy?" Liam asks, concern etching his features. "I want you to be happy. I want to make you happy, baby." 

"You do, babe," I insist. "You make me so very happy. I know you have feelings for Zayn, though. And he's told me he has feelings for you, too. And that's not going away. I've thought about it and I don't think it has to. If Zayn and I are really compatible then I think we could really make this work. And be really happy together." 

"The three of us?" 

I nod. 

"This is so – unexpected." 

"Right now all we're asking is to get to know each other better. I thought about waiting to tell you until we knew each other better, but Zayn refused to even entertain the idea without talking to you." 

He stands and starts pacing the room. I start shoving a few last minute things into my suitcase to distract myself.  

"If you just want to have sex with him, we can," Liam suddenly says, pausing in his pacing. 

I blush and shake my head. "That's not what this is about. Once upon a time, yes, I thought about it, but this isn't that." 

He steps over to kneel in front of me. "Are you sure? Where is this coming from?" 

"I want you to be happy – as happy as possible – and he makes you happy." I reach out and run my fingers through his hair, sliding my hand around to cup his neck. "You're allowed to say 'no' and nothing has to change - " 

"Of course it's going to change, Riley," he insists, pulling away. "I can't believe you told him before me." 

My face falls as I realize he's passed confusion to anger now. "I – I'm sorry. I thought he was more likely to say 'no' than you. And I could handle the rejection better than you." 

Liam resumes his pacing, faster now. "You can't make decisions about our relationship without me, Riley." 

"Liam, I - " 

"You realize that he already knows I've chosen you over him simply because I stayed with you after I realized my feelings for him weren't 100% platonic." His voice turns icy as he continues, "So now you've put me in a position to thoroughly smash my best mate's heart if I decide this isn't a good idea." 

"I didn't - " 

"You didn't think this through, Riley!" Then he's gone before I can reply. Tears fill my eyes as the door clicks shut behind him. 

Chapter Text

Louis finds me a while later, crying. I'd finished packing and then sat down to wallow, ticking down the minutes until I have to leave. 

"Riles, what's wrong? What's happened? Where's Li?" Louis asks, sitting next to me and wrapping an arm around me. 

I let my head drop to his shoulder as I explain what's happened. 

"He's just upset. You don't – he'll come around," Louis insists. "You've gotta give him time to process." 

"I don't have time, though. I'm leaving in a couple hours and he's mad at me." 

"Well, I think he's had his time to talk to Z and you should go down there. See what's going on." 

"What if I screwed everything up?" 

He rubs my back. "I don't think it's that bad. You just need to talk it out." 

There's a knock at the door and then Liam and Zayn step through. Zayn looks calm, so I assume Liam didn't give him an outright no – at least not yet. 

"Lou, could you give us the room?" Liam requests. 

Louis pulls me into a quick hug. "It'll be fine," he assures me. "And I'm right next door – don't let me find you crying by yourself again." 

I sniffle and nod. He gives me a final squeeze and leaves the room. 

Zayn comes to take Louis's place next to me. "Okay?" He murmurs. 

I shrug.  

"He hasn't, um, decided anything yet," Zayn tells me. 

"I just – I need time to think," Liam says. "I don't want to rush into a decision." He's tense and I wish I could just walk over and massage the stress away. 

"So what do we need to discuss?" Zayn asks. 

"Well, first - " Liam starts, pausing to come and kneel in front of me. "Baby, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you. I'm just – this came out of nowhere. I was – I am confused, but I shouldn't have said – I shouldn't have said that. It's not your fault." 

"I was just – I'm just trying to make things better – for all of us," I mutter. 

Liam brushes a tear away from my cheek. "I know, I'm sorry, baby." 

I nod. "I forgive you. Just – I want to talk this out. I don't want to fight." 

He leans in to press a kiss to my lips. "I love you." 

I pull him into another kiss. "You, too." 

He wipes away the remaining tears from my cheeks before sitting back on the floor. "Okay, so we should talk about this." 

"What did you two discuss?" I ask. 

They exchange a look. 

"He was making sure I understood what I was offering," Zayn replies. 

"There's a pause and then Zayn speaks again. "Maybe we should give ourselves a bit of a timeline? To figure this out?" 

I nod. 

"Give me a couple weeks," Liam says. "I think we should all think this over and sicuss it more before we decide to go for it." 

"Would it bother you if I start talking to Zayn more? Start getting to know each other – even just as friends?" I ask. "I'll be hours away anyways, so we'd just be talking and texting." 

Liam shrugs. "That'd be okay. Just talking." 

"Yeah, you've gotta figure out if you can share," I mutter, playfully kicking his leg. 

"Any other circumstances – any other person - and I would've already said 'no'." 

I chuckle and he smiles. "I think it'd be safest to say neither of us do anything physical with Zayn yet?" I offer. "Until we're sure? Like, committed?" 

Zayn clears his throat, reminding us of his presence. "I don't plan on letting either one of you do anything before we've all agreed. Just because Li and I have done stuff before doesn't mean I expect to jump right back into that." 

I blush, shooting him a grateful smile. "Good to know." 

"Besides, we're going to be together away from you a lot because of touring – and I don't want that to make you uncomfortable." 

"The most complicated bit of this whole idea is that Riley is Harry's beard. And I think I'm dealing with that okay, but, Zayn, have you thought about that?" Liam queries. 

Zayn shrugs. "She's under contract. They're close." 

"They're very good at faking it. And they - " 

"You'll have to deal with me kissing Harry, okay?" I cut Liam off, turning to Zayn. "That's what he's getting to. And I don't deal well with jealous fits about it." 

Zayn smirks. "Are you saying your boyfriend doesn't get a say about your relationship with Harry?" 

"Not exactly," I confess. "But we're really close and a lot of it is our weird close friendship." 

"I am willing to deal with it for the present – considering I'm not your boyfriend yet – and we can discuss it more at a later date. When I feel that I deserve to have a say." 

I nod. "That seems reasonable." 

"You still won't get a whole lot of say," Liam tells him. "Although - " He turns to me. "I would appreciate scaling back the PDA with him today, baby." 

"We always do when one of us has had a fight, you know that," I assure him. 

"Sometimes I just need the assurance," he says, reaching out to run his fingers up and down my calf. 

I lean down to press a kiss to his lips. 

"Should I leave?" Zayn asks and I look over to see him smirking. 

I chuckle "No, we've already had a round of goodbye sex." 

"What about makeup sex?" Liam smirks. 

"You haven't forgiven me yet," I point out. "Besides, we're not kicking Zayn out." 

"Who said we had to kick him out?" Liam teases. 

I shake my head, blushing as they both laugh. 




"Love you," I murmur, giving Liam another kiss. "Miss you already." 

"Love you, too," he replies with a lingering hug. 

I turn and smile at Zayn. "Talk soon?" 

He nods. "Be careful." 

I reach up and press a kiss to his cheek. "You, too." 

"We've gotta go," Harry calls from the door. 

"I'm coming," I assure him, quickly pressing a final kiss to Liam's lips. My suitcase has already been taken down to the car, so Harry slips his fingers through mine on the way down the hall. 

"Going well so far it looks like?" He quietly asks. 

I smile. "We're taking it slow... and well, Liam hasn't actually agreed to anything yet. He wants time to think on it." 

"He does have a bit more to risk," Harry concedes. 

I frown. "I guess." 

"He'd be risking his relationships with both of you," he points out. "You and Z barely talk, so there's only each of your relationships with Li that are on the line." 

"Yeah, that's why we're still fighting – sort of. We made up, but he hasn't forgiven me." 

"You basically pushed pause on your argument?" He quirks an eyebrow at me. 

I shrug. "I guess. He's angry with me, but we didn't really want to leave things totally horrible." 

"I guess that makes sense." 




L: I love you. Let me know when you make it home. 

R: I love you, too. I'm just walking in the door. Hoping I left enough food to hold me over until work tomorrow haha 

L: About to head on stage. FaceTime after? 

R: Love to. 




"Have you watched Supernatural?" I ask Zayn. It's only been a few days since I left Paris and we're still trying to get to know each other, mostly. 

He shakes his head on the screen. 

I frown. "That show is so good and no one I know will watch it." 

"If there weren't a million seasons, I'd say I'd try to catch up for you, love, but I don't have the time." 

I grin. "I appreciate the thought." 

"Always thinking. That's me," he teases. "Have you talked to Liam about this whole - " He gestures between us. " - thing?" 

I shake my head. "He's still sort of mad at me about not talking to him first, so I haven't wanted to bring it up. He's still got a while before he said he'd be ready to talk about it." 

"Yeah, I know. I just – kind of assumed he'd be talking about it before then and just waiting to make a decision." 

I frown. "I assumed he had talked to you about it a bit. Is he acting weird?" 

Zayn shrugs. "Not terribly weird. Just doesn't seem to know how to touch me anymore? Not like – like intimately or whatever," he quickly adds. "I just mean when he normally would slap my arm or fix my hair without a second thought, he's having second and third thoughts before he decides whether to react." 

"At least he's not avoiding you," I offer. 

"I feel like Louis and Harry are watching us all the time. I don't think they really are, but I've caught them looking a few times and it's made me paranoid. And then poor Niall has no idea about any of this. He's so out of the loop, but then there's not really a loop because no one's talking about it. Well, Louis and Harry are probably talking about it, but none of the rest of us are." 

I crinkle my nose. "Sorry." 

"How's he acting with you?" He asks. 

"Like nothing is different. He hasn't even reacted to me mentioning talking to you. It's like he's built this wall and he doesn't want to climb it until he's absolutely ready and until then, it doesn't exist." 

"So you're fighting, but you're not talking about the fact that you're fighting?" 

I nod. "It's like this weird comfortable thing. Everything feels okay. I feel like he's not going to say 'no' to the polyamorous relationship with you, but he's not going to act like it's on the table until he's sure he's ready to pursue it." 

"I hope that's soon." 

I chuckle. "Yeah, just for the sake of getting rid of the weirdness." 


Chapter Text

Z: Hey how's your day going? 

R: Store's pretty slow. Lots of time to read :) 

Z: What're you reading 

R: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 

Z: Never heard of it 

R: It’s a YA fantasy/gay romance 

Z: Sounds perfect for you haha 

R: :) It reminds me of Drarry 

Z: Drarry? 

R: Draco and Harry 

Z: From Harry Potter? Seriously? 

R: They're hot. It's hot. 

R: Don't laugh at me, mister. 

Z: Not laughing. 

Z: ...okay, I chuckled. 

Z: I'm heading into an interview. Talk later ;) 




L: Hey beautiful. About to go onstage. Call you after. Love you! 




"Hello?" I answer the phone. 

"Hey, baby," Liam's voice replies. "What're you doing?" 

I pause the show I'm watching. "Just catching up on Pretty Little Liars. What're you up to?" 

"We've got a meet and greet in a bit. Just wanted to hear your voice." 

I smile. "Enjoying America?" 

"Been playing a lot of video games," he says, disappointed. 

"Aw, I'm sorry, babe," I assure him. 

"Be a lot more fun being stuck in a hotel room if you were here." 

"Lots of things we can still do from a distance," I tell him with a smirk. 

"Oh yeah? You could, um, text me and make this meet and greet a lot more interesting." 

"Liam," I admonish. "Not during a meet and greet. What if someone saw?" 

"I wouldn't let anyone see." 

"I don't think we need the fans to see you with an erection." 

Liam chuckles. "Fine. Later? When I'm not with fans?" 




"You got another tattoo?!" 

Zayn smiles, almost bashful. The camera wasn't that great, but I could almost spot a blush on his cheeks. "Yeah." 

"Can I see it?" I ask, biting my lip. "Or is it somewhere inappropriate?" 

Zayn chuckles, pulling the collar of his shirt down. The new ink is just below his collarbones, still covered in tape and gauze. "It's perfectly appropriate, but you'll just have to wait." 

I pout, but he refuses to relent. 

"It looks better in person," he insists. 

"I don't know when I'll get to see you in person, though. It'll be weeks, probably." 

"Patience is a virtue." 

"And are we the best people to be talking about virtues?" 




"Jordan, please. Lunch at my place tomorrow." 

She sighs. "Yeah, okay." 

"I'm lonely, Jordan," I tell her, overdramatizing my pain. "I'm all alone and I need friendship to survive." 

She chuckles. "Fine, fine. Just us?" 

I shrug. "I mentioned it to a few other people." 

"And they're coming?" 

"Michelle is. The others had to work. I think Michelle's working, too, but she's coming for her lunch break." I smile. "It'll be fun. I'll make something delicious." 




"Come in! Come in!" I happily gesture Jordan and Michelle inside. "I'm so glad you could come. I'm seriously in need of company." 

Michelle chuckles. "Missing your boy toy?" 

I frown. "Yes. I'm flying over to meet up with them in a couple weeks, but it seems so far away." 

"I'm amazed you put up with it," Jordan comments. "I don't think I'd ever want to deal with a long-distance relationship." 

"It just has to be the right person," I insist. 

"What's for lunch?" Michelle asks. "I've only got an hour before I've got to get back." 

"Oh, sorry. Yes, come into the kitchen." I lead them into the kitchen and gesture towards the counter. "I went for a taco bar, I hope that's cool with both of you." 

"Yes, I love Mexican food," Jordan exclaims, happily taking a plate and loading up. 

"There's queso in the crockpot over there," I add, pointing towards the corner. "And chips and salsa. I wasn't sure what you guys would want. And whatever doesn't get eaten will just be my lunch for a few days." 

Both women nod, filling up their plates. 

We sit down a few minutes later, eating in silence.  

"So, Riley - " 

The doorbell rings, interrupting Michelle. I frown. 

"Was someone else coming?"  

I shake my head as I hear the door open. My eyes widen and I slowly approach the entryway. 

"Surprise!" Harry exclaims as I come around the corner.  

I jump, shocked to find Harry, Liam, and Zayn standing there with suitcases. "Oh my god, what are you doing here?!?!" I press a kiss to Liam's cheek, pulling him in for a quick hug before turning to give the other two hugs.  

"Not so lonely now, huh?" Jordan comments and I quickly turn to shoot her a grin.  

"I guess not. Guys, are you hungry?" I ask, pulling Harry towards the kitchen. "There's taco stuff. I was just sitting down with Jordan and Michelle." 

"Starving," Zayn quickly agrees, passing us to grab a plate on the counter.  

The guys all load up their plates and I quickly make introductions.  

"How long are you here? I didn't think you had enough time off to come." 

Harry's arm is around my shoulders, eyeing Michelle warily. "We've gotta fly out tomorrow night." 

"And all three of you came to see Riley?" Michelle asks. 

I shoot her a glare. "Hey, they're all my friends." 

Michelle's mouth snaps shut, turning back to her food. 

I leave the room for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. Harry meets me in the hallway, filling in the blanks on their sudden schedule change. He has a meeting tomorrow in London and Liam and Zayn just wanted to come see me. There's a pause and then he pulls me into another hug, assuring me that seeing me was a perk for the trip for him, too. I chuckle, promising I hadn't taken offense.  

The room seems tense when we re-enter. Zayn is glaring at Michelle and Liam is focusing a little too much on his plate. Jordan excuses herself and reminds Michelle that she's supposed to be back at work soon. I walk them both to the door and promise to do something with them next week. Jordan tells me to enjoy my boys with a little smirk. 

Liam's sitting at the table when I return and I can't help but climb into his lap, grinning. "This is the best surprise." 

He smiles, eyes getting all crinkly. "I missed you, baby." 

I kiss him for real, ignoring the other two men in the room. Harry whistles. I laugh into the kiss and we break apart. "I missed you, too," I whisper. "Are you staying here? Or are we going to yours?" I ask. "Because I can throw a bag together after I pick up this mess." 

"I thought we'd just stay here, love. Zayn, too." 

I turn and smile up at him. "It's good to see you, too." 

Zayn beams. "Liam wants to talk to us." 

"Ah. The real reason for this visit?" I quirk an eyebrow at my boyfriend.  

"Kind of. And I wanted to see you," he admits. 

"I think that's my cue to leave," Harry announces. "I'll be in my room. Making no noise and pretending I don't exist." 

I laugh. "Don't let Dobby ruin your plans." 

"Hey," he mutters before he leaves the room. 

"Want to talk now, then?" I ask. 

"Hey, let the man finish his lunch," Zayn says. 

I stand up and gesture for Liam to finish eating before striding over to give Zayn a hug. "It's good to see you." 

He smiles. "Likewise, love." 




"Okay, now can we talk?" I ask. "I'd prefer to get the serious stuff out of the way so I can just enjoy having you here." 

The two men share an exasperated look. 

"Surely you didn't drag Z all the way here just to tell him to stay away from me," I point out. "C'mon, spill." 

Zayn joins me on the couch. "He hasn't told me a thing. Just said he'd made a decision and asked me to fly home with him." 

"And you knew there was time because Harry had to come for a meeting? What the heck does he have a meeting about, anyways?" I ask. 

Zayn shrugs. 

"I think he's got some charity thing lined up in a couple months," Liam replies. "Something to do with that." 

"Okay. And? You've made a decision?" 

Liam rolls his eyes. "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm willing to try." 

I grin.  

"But, I think we need to, like, have a trial run for a bit. Like, decide a timeframe in which to determine how well it is or isn't going," Liam continues. "I don't want to say I'm not ready to fully commit, but I think we should give it some time. And promise to all remain friends even if it doesn't work out." 

"How about we just agree to date Zayn?" I propose. "No serious commitment. That way he's still free to pursue other interests - " 

"I'm not going to do that," Zayn interrupts. "I mean, fine. Date me, sure. But I'm not going to be 'pursuing other interests'. That's shit." 

"I just don't want to trap you when we aren't even making a commitment yet," I explain. 

"Well, if I want to be with you, then I want to be with you. I'm not going to be wasting my time on anyone else." 

Liam smiles. "I think dating is a good plan. And no, uh, physical stuff without all of us knowing and being okay with it." 

"Except for you two," Zayn adds. "I don't expect you two to tell me everything you're doing together." 

Liam shrugs. "Okay." 

"You'll be on the other side of the world," I remind them. "It's not like there will be a lot to tell on my side of things." 

Zayn chuckles. "Still. Setting the ground rules." 

"Any other rules?" I ask. 

"I don't think I'll be comfortable with you two having sex yet," Liam confesses. 

Zayn shakes his head. "We haven't even been on a date yet, Li. That's not happening yet." 

I blush. "I'm not comfortable with that yet either." 

"We're just going to date. Get to know each other." 

"You two already know each other." 

Zayn and Liam rolls their eyes. 

"Well, we're going to date," Zayn amends, gesturing between us. "And I'm going to make you fall in love with me. And then, somewhere far down the line, we'll have cute little Liam babies." 

I giggle. "You're ridiculous." 

His arm slips around my shoulders. "Ah, but you don't deny my plan. Just wait." 

His eyes meet mine and butterflies swirl in my stomach. "I'm looking forward to it." 




After some debate, we decide to drag some pillows and blankets into the living room and curl up together. We turn on a Marvel movie and I can barely focus on the movie with both mens' arms around my shoulders. Zayn was reaching around me to play with the hair at Liam's neck. His other hand settles in his lap, fingers threaded through mine. Liam's arm is around my waist, one finger hooked through Zayn's belt loop. We fall asleep halfway through the movie – them due to jet-lag and I just couldn't resist the warm and cozy feeling. 




"I could get used to this," Zayn's voice murmurs. "Maybe less clothes in the future." 

Liam shoves his shoulder. "Take what you can get, babe." 

"I'll head to the guest room," Zayn whispers. "Give you two a little alone time." 

"You don't have to," Liam replies. 

Zayn chuckles. "Just because one of us gets to be sexually frustrated, doesn't mean we all have to be." 

Liam blushes.  

"Such a good boyfriend we chose," I say, alerting them to my being awake. 

Liam presses a kiss to my head. "Thoughtful, isn't he?" 

"I think that's my cue to disappear." Zayn's warmth disappears from behind me. "Enjoy yourselves, I'll see you in the morning." 


Chapter Text

Liam leans in to kiss my neck as soon as we hear the guest bedroom door shut behind Zayn. I hum, content and still barely awake. 

"Are you even awake enough to do anything right now?" Liam murmurs, the smile evident in his voice. 

"I could be persuaded," I whisper back. 

He snorts in amusement before lifting his shirt off over his head. 

I hum in approval. "Yes, that could persuade me." He presses me back into the couch as he kisses me. My hands settle at his neck and against his chest. He leaves a trail of kisses across my jaw as his hand slides up to un-hook my bra. I quickly remove it from under my shirt and then push him away just long enough to toss my shirt as well. 

"God, you're gorgeous," Liam mutters before pressing his lips to mine.  




"G'morning," Zayn mumbles, taking a seat the kitchen table.  

I turn and smile at him. "Good morning," I reply, chipper. "You hungry?" His sweatpants are slung low across his hips and he's not bothered with a shirt yet this morning. I try not to stare. 

He blinks a couple times before nodding. "What're you making?" 

I return my attention to the stove before I get too distracted. "Eggs, sausage, fried potatoes." 

Harry enters a moment later – also shirtless. "Good morning. Liam still sleeping?" 

"Yeah. Can you – yeah, thanks," I say as he starts to stir the potatoes for me. "What time's your meeting?" 

"It's a lunch meeting, so I've got a couple hours to kill," Harry replies. "Louis's glad to hear you three have worked things out for the moment," he adds, shooting me a look. 

I bite my lip, glancing back Zayn. "Yeah, we're working on it." 

We work on breakfast in silence for a few minutes before Liam appears. He comes over to press a kiss to my shoulder and wrap his arms around my waist. "G'morning, my love," he whispers. 

I smile. "Morning, babe. Breakfast is about done. Can you grab plates?" He waits for me to turn and allow a kiss to my lips before he acquiesces.  

My smile turns to a grin as I catch him leaning over to press a kiss to Zayn's stubbly cheek. Liam returns with the plates a moment later and I quickly fix everyone's plates with Harry's help. I take a seat next to Zayn as Harry grabs milk and juice out of the fridge and pours everyone a drink.  

"You two do have a weird chemistry," Zayn comments, looking up as Harry sits down across from him.  

Harry grins. "She's my best friend. Luckily, she's also Louis's best friend or he'd be concerned." 

I laugh. "He would not." 

"He is the jealous type," Liam agrees. "Both of you are, actually. That's what makes your friendship with Riley so..." 

"Unexpected?" Harry offers. "Yeah, I know." He pauses to take a bite of potatoes. "It just sort of happened. I wouldn't worry," he adds towards Zayn. "She's barely kept her eyes off of you all morning." 

I blush as Zayn smiles. "Shut up." 

Liam's feet move to settle around mine under the table.  

"And I heard you two in here last night," Harry tells Liam. "Couldn't you have taken it to the bedroom?" 

Liam chuckles. "You've heard us before and it never has bothered you." 

"Well, it's a bit more enjoyable when my boyfriend's in bed next to me." Harry pouts. 

"What, you listen to them?" Zayn asks, surprised. "That gets you off?" 

All three of us exchange a quick look. 

"Harry's weird," I mutter. 

"We usually go to my place," Liam says at the same time. 

Harry grins. "I happen to know that Riley - " 

"Shut up, Harry," I interrupt as soon as I realize what he's about to say. "I haven't even been dating the guy for twenty-four hours, don't tell him all my secrets." 

Zayn glances between us, curious, but doesn't pry. 




Zayn and Liam go to shower while Harry and I clean up.  

"You seem happy," Harry comments. 

"I am." I smile. "Liam's agreed to date Zayn. And we just kind of all cuddled on the couch last night to watch a movie. It was nice." 

We finish loading the dishwasher before he speaks again. "Things were getting a bit weird between them. Niall even asked if something was going on." 

"Did you tell him?" 

"No. Of course not. Not my place to say." 

"Good. Liam's already weird about you two knowing this whole time." 

He pulls me into a quick hug. "If you can't tell your best friend, who're you supposed to talk to?" 





Harry leaves a little while later, promising he'll be back before they have to head to the airport. He kisses me on the cheek before leaving and I catch Zayn watching us closely. 

"I suppose no one's supposed to know you're in London?" I ask after Harry's left. 

They both shrug. "Kind of easier that way," Liam offers. 

"So you went from being stuck in a hotel room to being stuck here?"  

"Well, I mean - " 

"You're here, Riley," Zayn reminds me. "You're the only reason we came home." 

"We can go to my place, if you prefer," Liam offers. 

"I just don't want you guys to feel like you're stuck here all day." 

"Or we can go to mine," Zayn says. 

"I've never seen your place." 

"Do you want to?" 

I smile. "I'd love to." 




"Who is it?" A woman's voice calls as soon as we enter Zayn's house. Liam and I both turn to him in confusion. 

"Shit, I forgot my mum and sister are staying for a couple days," he mutters. "It's just me, Mum," he calls. 

Tricia appears a few tense moments later. "Zayn, love, what're you doing here?" She exclaims, pulling him into a hug. "I thought you weren't supposed to be back for weeks." 

"Just a quick trip home," Zayn replies. "Leaving this evening." 

"This evening?" Tricia exclaims. "When did you get in? Liam, how are you?" She turns to speak to Liam. "And I don't believe we've met, but Riley, I presume?" 

I smile, unsure what she knows. "Yeah, nice to meet you."  

"When did you get in?" She asks again, looking at Liam this time.  

"Last night," Liam tells her. "We're just here for a quick visit. Harry had a meeting and – we just tagged along." 

She nods, shooting me a suspicious look. 

"We just came by to get my PS3 to take back," Zayn tells her, heading for the stairs. "I'll just go grab it." He shoots both of us an apologetic look before jogging up the stairs.  

"Have you ate lunch?" Tricia asks. "I can whip something up - " 

"No, that's alright, we already ate," Liam lies. "We just came by for the PS3. What are you doing in town?" 

"Safaa has a few university interviews," Tricia explains. "We just came to stay a few days. Zayn assured us that he wouldn't be home for weeks, so it'd be no trouble." 

"Yeah, it was really unexpected." 

"Came back to visit your girlfriend?" She asks, glancing at me.  

"Y-yeah. Tagged along with Harry. We stayed there last night," Liam confirms.  

She's looking at us like she knows more than we expect, but we're not sure how much she really knows. Zayn returns with a bag, presumably containing the game console. "Sorry, Mum, we've got plans - " 

"Guess they've decided to try it with you, huh?" She asks, hand on her hip as she cocks an eyebrow at him.  

Zayn's cheeks turn pink. "Mum - " 

"I'm just asking." 

"It's complicated. I'll talk to you later, okay?" He steps over to give her a quick hug. "I'll call you after we get back to the States." 

She studies me and Liam for a moment. "Don't you hurt my boy," she finally says. 

"Mum," Zayn protests. "Please." 

"You told her?" Liam hisses. 

"Bye, Mum," Zayn says, gesturing us back towards the door. "Love you." 

She gives him another hug and shoots me a warning glance. Then we're out the door and Liam is hissing questions about how much she knows.  

"She knows very little," Zayn finally replies in the car. "She's my mum, okay? I tell her just about everything. I mentioned it to her. She doesn't know anything beyond I was ready to pursue it and one of you wasn't sure. I didn't even tell her which of you." 

"You think she told my mum?" Liam asks, groaning. "Oh, God, I didn't think I'd have to worry about the parents yet." 

"She's sworn to secrecy," Zayn says, turning out onto the street. "She's mostly just pissed that I didn't stay longer, probably. Now, where are we going?" 




"I just don't think we're in a position to be telling people - " 

"Harry and Louis already know," Zayn points out. "And we're going to have to tell Niall when we get back." 

"Those are people who would figure it out, though, being with us all the time," Liam argues. "I don't want our mums getting invested in this – or, god forbid, protesting this before we figure anything out." 

Zayn rolls his eyes. 

"Liam, it's not like he announced it in the papers. He told his mother. There's nothing wrong with that," I say. "It doesn't mean you have to tell Karen. Even though I imagine she'd be fine with it. She just wants you to be happy." 




"Don't cry, Riley," Zayn says. "You'll be coming to see us in just a couple weeks." 

I sigh. "I know. I just – I hate goodbyes." 

"Then don't say goodbye. Say you'll talk to me later. And we'll have a long-distance date soon, okay?" 

I nod, reaching up to give him a hug. "Stay safe. Text me when you land." 

"Will do," he easily agrees before turning to climb into the car.  

Harry lifts me into a quick hug and pecks my cheek. "Love you. See you in a couple weeks." 

I laugh. "Yeah, love you, too, Haz. Give my love to Lou." 

He nods and climbs into the driver's seat. Liam comes around from loading the bags in the back and sees the other two already in the car. "Guess I'm last, huh?" 

I pull him into a hug, blinking back the tears. "I'm gonna miss you." 

He presses a kiss to my forehead. "I know. I'm gonna miss you, too, love." 

I glance over at Zayn in the backseat. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do." 

Liam chuckles, leaning in to press a kiss just below my ear. "I can't think of much you wouldn't want to do with him."  

I blush, turning back to him. "You know what I mean." 

"Don't worry. Complete honesty, right?" 

I nod.  

"And we've got to work on the jealousy thing," he adds. 

I glance over at Zayn again to find him watching us. "Yeah, well, I'll do my best." 

Liam presses a quick kiss to my lips. "I love you." 

"Love you, too. Be careful." 

He nods. "Text you when we land, I know." 

"And take care of each other." 

He chuckles. "Okay. I'll talk to you soon." 

I pull him into another kiss, longer than before. 

"Love you," he murmurs again before turning and climbing into the car. 

Chapter Text

"You okay?" Zayn's voice softens in concern. 

"I'm - I'm fine," I insist, not wanting him to worry. I'd been having a bit of a pity fest on my own, but he didn't need to hear about it. 

"Baby, what's wrong?"  

My cheeks warm at the endearment. "I'm just - I don't know. It's nothing." 

I can hear him sigh through the phone. "Baby, if it's bothering you, then it's not nothing. I know I'm an ocean away, but I still want to be here for you. Maybe talking about it would help?" 

I bite my lip, debating my next words. "I don't really know what it is. I just - it's a bad day. I feel sad. I don't really know why." 

"I'm sorry to hear that," Zayn's soft voice replies. "What have you been doing today?" 

I sigh. "Wallowing. I just didn't really feel like getting out of bed." 

"Okay, well, maybe taking a shower would help?" He suggests. "I don't want to say I know how you feel, because it's always different for different people to some extent, but I've been there. The not-wanting-to-move and feeling shitty despite there being nothing wrong." 

"Yeah? I miss you," I whisper. 

"Call me next time you feel like this, okay? If I'm close by, I'll come cuddle with you. If not, we can talk. I'll be your little cheerleader." 

I smile. "You gonna wear the skirt and everything?" 

He chuckles. "If it'd make you feel better, absolutely." 




"Where are you?" Liam asks, confused by the background noise.  

"Jordan drug me out of the house to go clubbing," I holler back, hoping he understands over the noise. "Hold on!" I gesture to Jordan, telling her where I'm headed before I squeeze outside to speak to Liam. "Is that better?" I ask.  

"Yeah, I can hear you now. Where are you?" He asks again. 

"Clubbing with Jordan," I repeat. "She thought I needed a night out." 

"Oh, well, I'll let you go, then, just calling to check in." 

"Sorry, I'll call you later?" 

"We've got a show tonight," he reminds me. "I'll call after." 

"I may be passed out by then," I admit.  

"Don't worry. If you don't pick up, I'll understand." 

I frown. "I miss you." 

"Love you," he replies. "Go have fun with Jordan. Not too much fun." 

I chuckle. "I love you, too." 




"You look gorgeous," Zayn compliments. "An ocean away and you still dress up for me." He smiles. 

I smile, pleased. "Well, it is date night." 

"That it is," he agrees. "Even though it's technically the middle of the day for me." 

"Technicalities." I wave away his protest. "What's the plan?" 

"Chinese food should be arriving for you any minute. I asked Li what you liked," he informs me. "And I've got choices for the movie." 

I lift an eyebrow at him. "Choices?" The doorbell rings. "Hold on, I'm guessing that's the food." 




"How was the show?" This is one of the few times they've FaceTimed me together instead of separately. I'm intrigued to see how they interact now. 

Zayn shrugs and Liam grins. "It was great." 

"Good, yeah." 

"Off to the next town? Or in for the night?"  

They exchange a look. "Riley, we've - " 

"Babe, there's - " 

I frown as they both stop talking and stare at each other. Finally, Liam speaks again. 

"People have kind of started noticing - " He clears his throat. " - well, the Ziam shippers are kind of getting fiercer?" 


"Well, they know Zayn and Perrie broke up," Liam continues. "And now they've decided that he broke up with her for me." 

"Yeah, he kind of did." I grin. 

Zayn rolls his eyes. "He's trying to tell you that management wants to have us seen with women." 

"What? Like bearding you up?" 

"Nothing long-standing like Eleanor and Louis. Just - a couple dates here and there," Liam explains.  

"When? Like while I'm there next week?" I chew my lip nervously. 

"No, like, tomorrow," Liam says. "I'm supposed to go out tomorrow. It'll probably be all over the tabloids there. And I wanted you to be prepared." 

"Okay," I reply in a small voice. 

"I think they're waiting til next week or so for me," Zayn tacks on. "I just broke up with Perrie, so they're giving it a little time." 

"Okay. Yeah, whatever." 

"Babe, this is just a stupid work thing," Liam assures me. "Don't think it's anything else. We'd rather be taking you out on a date." 

"Okay." They both just stare at me, waiting for more. I shrug. "I don't know what you guys want me to say. It's not like I have a say in this. I mean, I'm Harry's beard. I can't really protest. You've gotta watch me - with him and I know you hate that, so whatever, I'll hate this." 

"Just because you have to deal with it doesn't mean you can't be mad about it, baby," Zayn tells me. "As long as you understand that I'd rather be with you, I'll do whatever they say." 

"I have one request. And it's really fucking hypocritical of me to ask." 

Liam huffs half of a laugh. "What?" 

"No kissing?" I plead. 

"That's - " Zayn pauses. "That is sort of hypocritical, but you're allowed to ask. I mean, I don't plan on kissing anybody." 

Liam shrugs. "Me either, love. It's just a pap walk. Holding hands and whatever. I don't think it'll take much." 




"Hey, how are - " 

"Liam kissed me last night," Zayn blurts out.  

I freeze for a moment, surprised. 

"I didn't know if he'd told you and - well, we said full honesty, right?" He looks nervous and I frown. 

"Did you think that would bother me?" I ask. 

He looks away from the screen. "I wasn't sure. Did he already tell you?" 

I shake my head. "No, but we've only texted since yesterday. Haven't had time to actually talk." 

Zayn bites his lip, returning his gaze to the screen. "So…" 

"He's a good kisser, right?" I say, attempting to break the tension. 

A slight flush crosses his cheeks. "You're really okay?" 

"I knew you'd be kissing. I would've been confused if you hadn't kissed for the two weeks before you saw me again. Besides, you two are a lot more - uh, comfortable? With each other. You've kissed before, I mean. So…yeah." 

Zayn chuckles. "Okay."  

We're silent for a moment and my brain drifts to the image of the two of them kissing. I'll have to ask Liam for details; Zayn still seems a little jumpy about it. 




"Have you burnt the house down yet?" Louis teases. 

I roll my eyes. "I think it's you that we have to worry about that with." 

Harry chuckles behind him and Louis chucks a pillow in his direction. 

"I know better than to cook without supervision," Louis insists. "How are you? How's work? How's the whole Liam and Zayn thing going? When do you get here?" 

I grin at the rapid fire questions. "Good. Great. Good. Friday." 

Louis huffs. "Tell me more." 

"Work has been alright. We're still doing the - " 

Louis waves his hand, brushing off my line of conversation. "Yes, yes, I want to hear that, but first I want to hear about things with Liam and Zayn." 

Harry shuffles up behind him, eager to hear. 

I chuckle. "It's - fine. Good, I think. I really - I mean - " I blush. "I really like Zayn and I think he likes me, too. I mean, there's feelings happening. And I hear Liam kissed him the other night, so feelings are definitely continuing to develop on that end of things." 

"Zayn's been really happy lately," Harry comments. "I keep catching him smiling down at his phone." 

"He's - I think he's good for us." 




"I just don't like seeing him with her - I know she's just a friend of his and it's a stunt, but - " 

Zayn nods. "They've got shippers." He sighs. 

I smirk. "You two have way more shippers," I remind him. "Like, way more." 

He chuckles. "True as that may be, it still sucks watching him hold hands with her." 

"Have you two been holding hands?" I ask, fighting down a smile. 

"It's not like - not in front of people. I mean, the boys know, obviously, but - " 

I frown. "They all keep Larry quiet. The crew and everybody, I mean." 

"Well, yeah, but - it's still new. We don't really need anyone else watching us right now." 

"Okay, yeah, fine, that makes sense." 

"And they're all in the dark about you and Li, too," he reminds me. "So I don't know if I'd want them knowing about me and Li without knowing about you, too. We're kind of in this together, yeah?" 

I smile. "Yeah." 




"So - " Liam clears his throat, glancing away from the camera for a moment. "How are things with you and Z?" 

"Pretty well, I think," I reply, watching him adjust to prop his head on his elbow. "Why?" 

"Well, I just wanted to check in," he says, concern etching his eyes. "I want you to tell me if things are - weird or uncomfortable for you." 

I quirk an eyebrow at him. "Are things weird or uncomfortable for you?" 

He shakes his head, a slight blush crossing his cheeks. "No, I - things are good with us." 

"Well, I - I really like him, babe. He's - he's so sweet and I love talking to him. He always seems to know what to say, you know?" 

Liam grins, nodding. "I can be having a completely shit day and he knows what to say immediately to make me laugh or share in my frustration. I mean, he's my best friend, but - I just - I never let myself think of him beyond that." 

"Until now." 

"Cause you're the most amazing girlfriend ever?" He teases.  

I roll my eyes, flipping my hair over my shoulder. "Obviously." 




"I know you're flying in Thursday, but - " 

My face falls. "But what?" 

Zayn grimaces. "An old friend of mine is coming over for the weekend. I got management to agree to letting her be my beard - just this weekend, probably." 


"She's an old friend. She knows its just a PR stunt to get the Ziam shippers off my back," Zayn insists. 

"But - I mean, it's just for the weekend? So you'll still have time with me before I fly back home?" I bite my lip, worried. 

He smiles. "Yeah, baby. Of course. It's bad timing, but it's not like I can object. Maybe Gwen and me can go out with you and Hazza." 

I chuckle. "I'm not sure how well that would go." 

He quirks an eyebrow at me on screen. "At least I'd know I was getting a goodnight kiss, too." 

"From Gwen?" 

He makes a noise of protest. "From Liam, obviously." 


"Haz not enough for you?" 

I laugh. "Haz isn't mine as you very well know." 

"I'm still surprised how well you and Louis get along," Zayn confesses. 

I shrug. "I told him upfront he was the boss." 




"Have you met Gwen?" I ask Liam. 

He shakes his head. He laying on his pillow on-screen, same as I am. I told him it’s the closest we could get to pillow talk. It's late morning for him and late afternoon for me, but we chose to do it anyways.  

"You don't think she'll - I mean, he's - " I cut myself off, unsure how to word my concern. 

Liam fights back a smile. "Are you jealous?" 

I shoot him a glare. "Don't even tell me you aren't a little jealous." 

Liam shrugs one shoulder. "I had my tongue in his mouth last night, I don't think I need to be jealous of a friend of his." 

"Has he told her about us? All of us?" 

"I'm sure he will if he hasn't yet." 

"I just - I don't want her thinking he's available." 

"We told him he didn't have to be exclusive to us. Not yet," Liam reminds me. 

"Yeah, I know, but he said he didn't want that. So - he still doesn't, right?" 

He must see the worry in my eyes, because he sits up, taking his phone with him. "Baby, he's crazy about you. I've caught him re-reading texts from you and grinning like an idiot at least five times in the last two weeks. And he asks me about you. What you like. How soon you'll let him kiss you. When I talked to you last. He's not going to change his mind just because this old friend of his comes to town." 

"I'm being ridiculous. I don't - I don't have a right to be jealous anyways. God, I'm fine with sharing you with him and him with you and this isn't even the same thing. So why is it bothering me so much? I didn't like it when you went out with that girl the other day and it was plastered all over the tabloids, but I wasn't this crazy. I mean, I was frustrated and a bit jealous, but - I don't know, this is just driving me crazy. I'm scared he's going to like her better. I mean, he's known her longer - " 

"And they would've gotten together before now if that was where their relationship was going, don't you think? They've been friends and stayed friends. I don't think she's an ex of his. I think they've always just been friends, baby." 

I take a deep breath. "Yeah. Okay. You're right. I'm being crazy possessive girlfriend." 

"I hope Zayn had to talk you down when I went out with Shelby the other night." 

I glare at him. "Shut up." 


Chapter Text



Harry pulls me into a hug as cameras flash around us. "I missed you," he whispers into my ear. I pull back and press a kiss to his cheek, grinning. "Missed you, too." 

"Riley, good to see you," Preston mutters. He and Marcus step to either side of us, forming a barrier between us and the crowd.  

Harry's arm slips around my waist. He leans down and whispers in my ear. "Please don't let your boyfriends beat me up for this later." 

I squint up at him, confused. He stops walking and presses his lips to mine. My mouth opens in surprise and his tongue darts into my mouth for a brief moment. 

Marcus clears his throat and Harry pulls away, smirking. "Missed that," he murmurs. 

I blush, pressing my face into his shoulder as he guides me out of the airport. We climb into the back of a black SUV and Marcus slowly pulls out of the parking lot. 

Harry takes his phone out and shows me a picture of us kissing a few minutes before. "Already trending on twitter," he tells me. 

"You enjoy flustering me," I accuse him.  

He chuckles, showing me his phone again. Zayn's texted him: wtf dude

I try to glare at him, but find myself grinning. "Technically, he's not my boyfriend yet." 

Harry's eyebrows lift in surprise. "Yet?" 

"We've got to talk about things, yeah." I shrug. "I haven't even kissed the man yet." I tilt my head, thinking. "Actually, you kissing me could speed things along." 

He huffs out a breath. "Glad I could help." 

"Lou know you were planning that?" 

Harry rolls his eyes. "Yes. He agreed that it would probably cover for any lack of PDA the rest of your trip. Mostly, anyways. I mean, we can act like we were told to cool off or something." 

I nod. "True. I'm down with that." 

"As long as you don't let your boyfriends - er, boyfriend and soon-to-be boyfriend hit me for it. Or hate me for it. I would explain the plan, but I don't know that they'd listen." 

"True. Liam's never been quite as comfortable with us as Louis is. And Zayn's still adjusting." 

"Louis and I have been together longer," he reminds me. "And you're his best friend, too. And there are still times that us bothers him." 

"Yeah? What do you do about it?" 

A faint blush crosses his cheeks as he smiles. "Let him fuck me into the mattress, usually." 

A bark of laughter escapes my mouth. "I'm not sure that's going to work with Zayn quite yet. Liam, on the other hand, yeah, I can see how that may work." 

Harry chuckles. "Just gotta remind them who you belong to." 




"I missed you," I murmur into Liam's ear as we hug each other tight. Tears fill my eyes and I quickly blink them away, clinging to him.  

"Missed you," he whispers. "I don't think I even realize how much until I've got you in my arms again, you know? Like, it's a constant ache." 

I whimper, barely biting it back. "Yeah." 

He pulls back and presses our lips together. It's soft and slow, exploring the curves of each other again for a few moments.  

"As hot as this is," Zayn's voice interrupts us. "I actually have to leave in a minute, so if I could just get a 'hello' and maybe a hug, I'll be on my way." 

I giggle, pulling away from Liam and crossing the few steps into his arms. "I missed you, too, Z." 

He hums, pressing his face into my hair. "You smell good." 

I shake my head. "I'll be showered and smelling better when you get back. I smell like I just got off a plane." 

"Still smell good, baby," he insists. "Tomorrow afternoon, I'm taking you on a date, alright?" 

I pull back to look him in the eyes. "Really?" I grin. 

"Yeah, me and Li have got it all figured out. Just me and you." 

"I look forward to it." 

"It'll involve a bit of sneaking out, but Li's prepared a distraction - and Haz is willing to step in if needed as well." 

I nod. "Sounds good." 

His eyes drop briefly to my lips. "I've got to get going now, though. Sorry, baby. I'm supposed to meet up with Gwen. Publicity thing." 


He smirks. "Don't think you've gotten out of explaining that stunt with Harry." 

I blush. "It was nothing." 

Zayn leans in a presses a kiss to my cheek. "I'll see you later." 


"Don't wear her out too much," Zayn mutters to Liam on the way out the door.  

The door clicks shut behind him. Liam's eyes meet mine. "You want to join me for that shower?" I ask, fighting down a grin. 

"I'd love to," he replies. 




Liam's fingers massage my scalp as he gently washes my hair. "You okay with this Gwen thing now?" He murmurs. 

I sigh. "Don't got much of a choice. I can't blame the fans - you two are adorable together and - yeah, you've had a few little moments on stage lately. I've watched the fan videos. Easy to see where they're coming from, believing you're together." 

He smiles, softly. "Especially since we are?" 

"And I kind of brought it about - you two getting together, I mean," I continue. "So I can't really be mad at the fans and I can't really be that frustrated with management - they're just - actually, yeah, I don't particularly like the way you guys are managed." 

Liam chuckles. "We're under contract," he reminds me. "And besides, we're not sure what we'll do when the contract ends, either." 

"Lou and Haz don't want to be in the closet for ever." 

"I know." Liam moves me back to rinse the shampoo from my hair. "I don't blame them. I'm just saying - we don't know where we'll be when it ends. Are we still going to be performing together? Or will we decide to take some time to go solo? It's just - nothing's decided." 

I nod. "I get that." 

"And if - well, when - " Liam frowns. "If us and Zayn works out and we tell management, they'll want to control our images just as much. Your contract is up soon, isn't it?" 

I shake my head. "I signed for two years. Unless Harry decides to break it. Then, I'm still under all the secrecy stuff, but not under the 'not allowed to date' rule." 

"Wait, so Harry would just have to break the contract to get you out of it?" 

I frown. "Well, it's a bit more than him just passing me a sock and saying 'you're free' but he does have power over my contract, yeah. He'd have to make a case to management or PR or whoever that I should be let go, but I don't imagine they'd deny him." 

"Harry negotiated your contract, though, didn't he?" Liam squirts body wash onto my loofah and starts washing my neck and chest.  

"Sort of. I mean, I read it all, but he knew more of what he was doing, and it's directly related to him, so I guess so yeah." I pull him down for a quick kiss. "I don't think - I mean - " I frown. "I promised I'd beard for him as long as they needed. Until they could come out of the closet." 

Liam nods. "I kind of assumed that." 

"I'm sorry. I know it's frustrating." 

Liam pauses, pulling me into another kiss. "I think it's amazing that you agreed to this whole arrangement for practical strangers. I mean, I know you were a fan, but still - it was a huge commitment on your part." 

I shrug one shoulder. "Harry's just - I mean, I knew he was a good person. And I'd watched Larry from afar for so long - meeting you guys and then meeting Harry again, I just knew they deserved better. I wanted to make things better - if I had any power over it, I wanted to make it better." 

Liam presses our foreheads together, staring into my eyes. "I love you so much. I don't deserve you." 

I open my mouth to protest, but he stops me with a kiss. 

He smirks when he pulls away. "Besides, you're stuck with me now. I'm not letting you go." 

I laugh. "Oh, yeah?" 

"Be happy you've got Zayn coming into this relationship, because otherwise you're never going to be with another man again." He grins. 

My laughter echoes off of the shower walls. "Oh? I just have to settle with you and Zayn-the-model-Malik?" 

He nods, pulling me into another kiss. "I only offer you the best." 

He gives up on kissing as I continue to laugh. "I think I was the one that offered." 

Liam kneels, skimming the loofah up and down my legs. "But he was in love with me first," he reminds me. "Obviously, I get the credit for the model." 

"Oh my god, I love you." 

He smirks up at me and gently lifts each foot to wash.  




"You think - " I hesitate until Liam's inquisitive eyes meet mine. "You think he's thinking about us? While he's out with her?" 

Liam smirks. "He's supposed to be telling her that he's in a soon-to-be-committed relationship, so I'm sure it's come up." He pulls his shirt off over his head, tossing it over the side of the bed.  

"No, I mean - like, I know he knows what we're doing…" 

He chuckles. "You want to know if he's picturing us having sex while he's having dinner with an old friend?" 

I blush. "I mean, he's - I heard him before he left." 

"He's definitely thought about it - thinking about it - yeah, baby, he's definitely wanting to be with us instead of her." 

I pull him into another kiss. His hand wanders down to pinch at a nipple - I sigh into his mouth at the contact. "I've missed you." 

"I am - enjoying - getting you - to talk - dirty to me," he says between kisses down my chest and stomach. He glances up at me. "Taste of you is something that can't be replicated on screen, though." 

I squirm under his gaze. "It's still a bit weird," I confess. "The sexting. It's not so bad when I can hear you - hear your responses, but when it's just words in front of me, I can't help but wonder - " 

He spreads my thighs and presses kisses on the insides of each. He hums. "I love hearing you. Sexting with you always gets me hot and bothered, though." His fingers carefully stroke between my legs. "You're wet, baby," he whispers. His thumb plays with my clit as he draws a few little noises out of me.  

"Always wet for you," I murmur. "Fucking auto-response." 

He chuckles, darkly, before leaning in to slide his tongue along the crease of my thigh.  

"Li," I plead. "Don't tease me - please." 

He acquiesces, quickly pressing his tongue in to taste the growing wetness between my legs. 




Liam crosses the room to check who is knocking at our door before opening it. He's only wearing boxers, slung low on his hips, emphasizing his happy trail. I've shrugged on the t-shirt he'd been wearing and a pair of his boxers from his suitcase.  

"Who is it?" I ask, wondering if I should get dressed more appropriately. My hair's a mess, but Liam's fingers are to blame.  

"It's Zayn," he answers, opening the door. "Hey, babe," Liam greets him, pressing a quick kiss to his lips. "Sorry, we're not exactly dressed." 

I blush as Zayn's eyes wander over to the bed where I'm sitting, lingering over my bare legs. 

He clears his throat. "Thought we could watch a movie or something. Gwen's settled in her room; I told her not to expect to find me til tomorrow." 

"Presumptuous," I can't help but say. I pause. "Did you sleep in here last night?" 

Zayn's eyes dart to Liam's.  

"Not last night, no. We stayed together before we got - together, though, so we haven't really stopped that." 

I shake my head. "No, I kind of assumed that. I just wondered if you two had talked about him staying while I'm here." 

"We were going to let you bring it up," Zayn replies. 

I grin. "Well, I'm bringing it up." 

Liam clears his throat. "I don't particularly want the odds of morning sex to be completely eliminated, so I'm voting not every night." 

"I may go spend some time with Haz and Lou one night, too," I add. 

"Speaking of Hazza," Zayn says, quirking an eyebrow at me. 

"It was nothing," I insist. "Trying to get management off of our backs so I could spend more time with you two." 

"And that necessitated his tongue in your mouth?" 

Liam chuckles.  

"I've had his tongue in my mouth before," I remind him.  

Zayn frowns. "Not the point." 

"I've had his tongue in my mouth lots of times and it's never - ever - made me want to leave Liam and fall hopelessly in love with a man I can't have in reality." 

"And if you could have him?" 

I shake my head. "Not entirely relevant. But I'm happy where I am. With Liam. And you." 

"I don't particularly like getting on twitter to see pictures of Harry's tongue down your throat," Zayn confesses, his voice changing to slightly soft and embarrassed. 

I stand, walking over to him. "I promise, I prefer Liam's mouth - " I glance over at Liam and smirk. "Especially his tongue. And I haven't even kissed you yet and you're right up there with Liam." 

Zayn chuckles, soft and hesitant. "I didn't think it'd bother me this much this fast." 

"You're not even officially my boyfriend yet," I remind him. "And you know, I could be a terrible kisser - you really don't know." 

Liam lets out a bark of laughter. 

"Liam's assured me that's not the case," Zayn replies, gaze darting down to my lips. "As has Harry, unfortunately." 

I bite back a grin. "He would know." 

Zayn's hand comes up to cup my neck as he leans in, slightly. "Maybe I'd like to know for myself." 

"I won't stop you," I murmur.  

A small smile crosses his lips just before he presses them to mine. I vaguely regret not having reapplied lip gloss or at least chapstick. He keeps it chaste, tongue just barely darting across my bottom lip before he pulls back.  

We stare at each other for a moment. I clear my throat. "So… movie?" 

Zayn grins and nods, pulling me over to the edge of the bed. He sits and pulls me into his lap.  

"Hey," Liam protests. 

"I think you had your time to thoroughly debauch our girl," Zayn reminds him. "I just want cuddles." 

I grin, wrapping my arm around his neck. "Do you guys cuddle all the time?" 

"I'd like to pretend we're all macho and shit, but, honestly, yeah," Zayn tells me. "I like to cuddle." 

"I didn't expect that," I admit. 

"When he's awake, he cuddles," Liam clarifies. "Once he's asleep, he'll just shove you away." 

"I can't control what I do in my sleep," Zayn protests. 

"That could just be you," I tease him. 

"I like this look on you," Zayn says, changing the topic. He gently tugs at the hem of my stolen boxers. "Liam's, I presume." 

"Obviously." I pause and then lift an eyebrow at him. "You a boxers or brief man?" 


"Ooo, good, I can have more options." 

Zayn laughs. "Was that a deeper question that I realize?" 

I shake my head. "Just curious." 

Liam's chosen to sit back against the headboard and I squirm off of Zayn's lap to join him. I pat the space next to me and Zayn kicks his shoes off before climbing up the bed to join us.  

"Do we want a movie? Or are you guys caught up on Arrow?" I ask. 

"Couple episodes behind, I think," Liam says. 

I nod. "Let's watch that then." 

Liam's already got his laptop connected to the tv, so it doesn't take but a minute to pull up the episode he and Zayn are on. "Have you already seen this one?" He asks me. 

I grin. "Of course I have. But I will watch it again." 

"For the plot, right?" Zayn mutters. 

I shove him, but he's quicker than me, wrapping an arm around me and nipping at my neck. 

"Alright, it's starting," Liam murmurs, wrapping his arm around me and placing his hand on Zayn's thigh.  

Chapter Text


"G'morning," I mumble, barely awake. Zayn is curled up against my back, trying to go back to sleep despite Liam's urging to get up. 

"Sorry, love, you don't have to get up," Liam apologizes. "But, Zayn, you do. We've got that radio thing this morning." 

"I sit in a corner and don't say anything. The fans won't even know I'm not there. Just throw in an occasional comment about my sleepiness. They'll buy it." 

I snort at the look on Liam's face along with Zayn's words. "I think they'd notice when they don't see you going into the radio station." 

Liam rolls his eyes. "I'm getting ready. You kick him out of bed." He heads for his open suitcase across the room. 

I roll over to face the dark-haired man behind me. "Are you really that difficult to get up?" 

He snorts, eyes closed. "I'm sure you could get me up quite easily. I'm already halfway there."  

I suddenly realize that I feel him hardening against my leg. I squirm away, a slight blush crossing my cheeks. "I don't put out before the first date," I say, proud that my voice doesn't waver.  

His eyes are still closed as he pulls me closer to press his face into my shoulder. "Five more minutes," he mumbles. 

Liam chuckles from across the room before he disappears into the bathroom. 

"Zayn, you've got to get up." I gently run my fingers through his hair. He'd showered last night and climbed into bed wearing nothing but a pair of boxers. Liam had laughed at my wide eyed appreciation. His hair was soft without his usual product in it and I couldn't help taking a deep breath at the scent. "Zayn?" 

He's fallen asleep again.  

Liam comes out of the bathroom a few moments later. "You were supposed to be waking him up, not putting him back to sleep." 

"I tried," I insist, weakly. 

"Zayn, we've got to be downstairs in ten minutes," Liam tells him. "Stop caressing his hair." 

I blush, removing my hand from his dark hair. 

Liam comes around the bed and pries Zayn away from me, pulling him halfway out of bed. "We've got to go, babe." 

Zayn mumbles something and stumbles off to the bathroom. 

"Well, I know not to leave you in charge of waking him up," Liam teases. 

"You weren't lying about his cuddling and then pushing away in the middle of the night," I reply, choosing to ignore his teasing. "Probably should invest in a bigger bed." 

"Zayn's got a king size at his place," Liam easily responds. "Which you would know if we hadn't been interrupted by his mother the one time we were there." 

"Oh my god, don't remind me. I don't even know the woman and I don't think she likes me." 

Liam sits down on the bed next to me. "My parents adore you. I'm sure his mum will, too." 

"Your mom doesn't know that we're dating Zayn yet, though, does she? And what will she think of me then?" 

"Same she thinks of me, I expect," he replies. "We are both dating him and all. I have no intention of telling her until we've committed, though. Like, he's not even properly our boyfriend yet." 

I glance over to see that the bathroom door is shut. "Yeah, but, like, I don't know that that will be much longer, right? I mean, it feels really right. Him being here with us, I mean." 

Liam smiles. "Yeah, it kind of does. But I don't want to rush." 

"It's been a few weeks," I remind him. "I haven't even had a proper in-person date with him yet, but…" I pause, biting my lip. "I definitely think I'm falling for him." 

Liam presses a kiss to my lips, brief and chaste. Before he gets a chance to reply, Zayn exits the bathroom. Liam stands, glancing at the time. "Baby, we've got to go. Shouldn't be but a couple hours. Order room service," he offers. "Get whatever you want." He leans backs down to kiss me a little more thoroughly, ignoring my morning breath. "Love you." 

"Love you, too," I reply.  

Zayn's right behind him, leaning in for a quick kiss. "See you later, love." He smiles. "I hope you're looking forward to our date." 

I assure him that I am and then Liam is rushing him out the door. 




Liam returns a few hours later to find me sitting in bed, eating breakfast, watching a movie on my iPad. I haven't even gotten dressed, still wearing Liam's shirt and boxers. 

"Did you answer room service like that?" Liam asks, raising an eyebrow.  

I roll my eyes. "Oh, yes, I'm leaving you for the guy that brought me breakfast. He saw me in your boxers and couldn't resist. He's impregnated me and he's hiding behind the bed until I've broken up with you." I don't even look up to see his reaction. "If it's a boy, I'll name it after Zayn to ease the pain." 

Liam snorts, crawling into bed next to me and stealing an orange slice. "Excuse me, forgot we were all so into feminism that I couldn't ask if some guy saw you in the clothes that you barely wanted Zayn to see you in last night." 

"I had a robe on," I concede. "And he was a perfect gentleman." 

Liam grabs his laptop and we sit in silence for a few minutes until Zayn knocks at the door before coming in with a pretty girl following behind. 

"Baby, you haven't gotten dressed?" Zayn says with a huff. 

I shrug, ignoring the girl following him for a moment. "Figured Liam would want to join me in the shower. Thought I ought to wait." 

"So considerate," Liam says without looking up. His hand snakes over to squeeze my thigh, though.  

"This is Gwen," Zayn introduces the girl. "Gwen, this is Riley." 

Gwen smiles. "Lovely to meet you," she says. "Zayn's barely shut up about you. Well, you and Liam, but Liam's always been a bit of a topic with this one." 

I laugh. "He's a lot more obvious than he always thought, right?" 

Gwen laughs.  

"We're heading out to lunch," Zayn informs us, purposely ignoring the way we're teasing him. "Just thought you'd want to meet Gwen. Probably won't be back 'til our date later."  

I nod, climbing out of bed to come kiss him goodbye. "I'll look much prettier by then," I promise. 

He grins. "You always look good, baby," he murmurs before kissing me. He tastes like smoke and minty gum. 

"I appreciate you thinking so." 

Another kiss. This one lingers as my fingers move to his hair. He stops, pulling my hands away. "Don't mess up the hair," he says. "Got to look good for the cameras." 

I smirk. "Won't you looking thoroughly kissed be advantageous to the cameras?" 

He glances at Gwen. "You saying I can't pull a Harry to make this believable?" 

I smack his chest. "That is totally different." 

He kisses me again. "When's your next date with him?" 

I frown. "It's an outing. Tomorrow." 

"No kissing?" 

"We will limit it to hand-holding and maybe a kiss on the cheek," I promise. I turn to look at Liam. "He's worse than you." 

Liam chuckles. "He already has to share you with me, remember?" 

I blush, glancing at Gwen. "You two should go." 

Zayn nods, stepping over to kiss Liam before pressing a final kiss to my lips. "See you later." 

"Nice meeting you," Gwen says with a wave. 

"Nice to meet you. I'm sure I'll see you around," I tell her with a smile.  

"She seems nice," I comment after they've left.  

Liam nods. "She is one of Zayn's friends," he reminds me. "Not likely to turn into an Eleanor situation." 

I frown. "I would hope not. Especially since she knows he's involved with both of us." 

Liam smiles. "We haven't committed to anything yet." 

"You want to join me for that shower?" I ask after a moment. 

He sets his laptop aside, pulling me into his lap. "I'd rather you ride me." He pulls me down into a kiss. "Then I'll eat you out," he promises. "Maybe blow me in the shower?" He kisses me again. "You'll be nice and relaxed for your date with Z." 

I chuckle. "I'm sure that's your entire motivation." 

"I'm a giver," he insists.  

His hands slide up the back of my shirt, pulling it off over my head. I lean in to kiss him again. He smiles into the kiss until I pull away to strip his shirt off. His lips move to my chest, fingers twiddling with one nipple while his mouth gives attention to the other. My hand grips his shoulder, eyes dropping closed as I enjoy his touch.  

"So much better than Skype," I murmur. 

He chuckles, teeth barely skimming across a nipple. I can feel my pulse between my legs and his cock is hardening in his jeans.  

"How - how was the - the interview?" I ask, suddenly realizing I hadn't mentioned it. 

"Good - usual - dumb - questions - " he mutters, kissing his way back up to my mouth. "You enjoy your morning?" 

I bite my lip. "I - I kind of masturbated after you left," I confess.  

His eyes darken. "Yeah? Thinking about me?" His fingers move down to slide under my boxers and into my folds. 

I gasp. "Yes." 

"Tell me," he murmurs, eyes glued to mine.  

I close my eyes, melting into the way he's touching me.  

"C'mon, baby, tell me about it. Was I fucking you? Playing with your clit like this? Eating you out?" 

A shaky breath escapes me. "You - you were - blowing Zayn." 

Liam's fingers stutter to a halt. "Fuck, yeah? That gets you off?" 

His fingers leave me and I whine in protest.  

"C'mon, baby, let me get my pants off," he assures me. "Wanna ride me, don't you?" 

I roll off of him, quickly discarding the boxers as he strips, kicking his clothes to the floor. I climb back over him. "God, you're gorgeous," I murmur, leaning down to press a kiss to his chest. 

He reaches for the bedside table, quickly finding the box of condoms and handing one to me. "Ride me, baby." 

I slide the condom down his length and hold him steady as I sink down on him. He lets out a moan that I can feel in my bones. He's so deep inside of me that it takes a minute for me to even think about moving, so pleased to be so close to him.  

"What else - what else were we doing?" Liam stutters out. "In this - this fantasy - of yours."  

I lift and grind down on him, hands gripping the headboard as he looks up at me. His eyes are dark, barely a rim of brown, as he watches me. I groan.  

"Wanna hear about it - baby." 

"You were - were letting him fuck your mouth. Looking up at him - " I moan, thighs shaking. "Fuck, like you just - you couldn't get enough." 

Liam grips my hips, thrusting up into me. 

"Right - there - right - fuck - " I exclaim, seeing stars. He pounds into the same spot a few more times before I'm coming, collapsing against him and shaking from head to foot. He continues to thrust up into me a few more moments before he groans my name and fills the condom.  

We're silent for a few moments, catching our breath. 

"Fuck, I love you," he mutters, pulling me into a sloppy kiss. "Love you so much." 

I hum, nodding.  

He chuckles, rolling me off of him before he moves down between my legs. 

"Li, you don't have to - " I cut off into a moan as his tongue makes its way between my folds. "Fuck, fuck, fuck." 




"I don't know what to wear," I confess, shuffling through my suitcase before turning to the closet. I'd hung up a few things, but none of them looked good enough. 

"You look gorgeous in anything," Liam assures me.  

"Not helpful," I tell him, grabbing my phone. "Harry, are you busy?" I ask when he answers the phone. 

"Nope," he replies, lips popping over the 'p'. "Why?" 

"Liam's being supremely unhelpful and I'm trying to get ready for my date with Zayn and I don't know what to wear." 

"I'll be down in a sec." 

I hang up the phone. 

"Your other boyfriend coming to aid you in your preparation?" Liam asks. He lounging on the bed with is laptop open. His hair is still wet from our shared shower, skin still slightly flushed. He'd pulled on a pair of jeans and a v-neck that hugged him in all the right places.  

"Good thing," I tell him. "I'd never get dressed with your help." 

Liam smirks. "I'm quite talented at the undressing bit, though, yeah? And all the nice bits after?" 

My cheeks brighten, reminded of our earlier activities. "Stop. I've got to get ready," I remind him. "Zayn's supposed to be coming in, like, an hour." 




Zayn uses his key to enter our room, warning us with just a few quick knocks. He looks amazing - his jeans are dark and tight; his hair tousled perfectly.  

"Darling, you look lovely," he tells me.  

Harry's finishing painting my nails; he'd insisted on matching my nails to the teal blue of my flats. I still didn't know where Zayn was taking me, but Harry and Liam had both assured me that I didn't need to dress up too much. Harry'd chosen the colorful sundress hanging in my closet and the matching flats, promising that the flats would be easier to run in if we were seen. I'd glared at him, hoping he was kidding.  

Liam stands and crosses the room to press a kiss to Zayn's lips. "You look nice," he tells him. 

"Hey," I protest. "My date." 

Zayn grins, coming over to me. "About ready?" 

I glance to Harry. He finishes up the last nail and grabs the hair dryer, blowing it across my nails a few times. "Just let me grab my purse," I tell him. Liam appears at my side with it and carefully places the small cross body bag over my head, adjusting the strap across my shoulder and chest.  

"Have fun," he whispers, pressing a kiss to my cheek. "Love you." 

"Love you, too," I murmur in reply.  

Harry hugs me from behind. "I love you, too." 

I shove him away, rolling my eyes.  

"Give me five minutes," Liam tells Zayn before pressing a kiss to his lips and disappearing out the door.  

Harry chuckles. "I'm on standby," he promises, showing us he has his phone as he exits behind Liam. 

"What are they doing?" I ask Zayn. 

"Distracting the fangirls." 

"And we are? Waiting on a car?" 

Zayn shakes his head. "We are going to very casually walk out the back door." 

"You're kidding, right?" 

Zayn grins. "I've done it before. Don't act like you're hiding and they won't notice that you are. Usually." He glances down at my feet. "Can you run in those?" 

My mouth drops open.  

He chuckles. "I'm just kidding. We should be fine. Running would attract attention." 

He takes my hand and leads me out the door. "Where are we going?" I ask on our way down the hall. "We're really not taking a car?" 

"We're walking. It's just a couple blocks away." 


Chapter Text

"What is this?" I ask. Zayn had led me to what looked like a warehouse district, but there were several other people who seemed to be going in the same direction. "This isn't the part of the story where you murder me and leave me in a dumpster so you can have Liam to yourself, right?" I tease.

He squeezes my fingers, already locked in his grasp. "Of course not." Zayn pauses and then smirks. "Besides, I wouldn't sully these hands with murder. I've got the money to pay someone else to do it."

I laugh. "I'll keep that in mind."

"It's an art show. Underground of sorts," he explains, gesturing at an open door ahead of us.

"How'd you hear about it?" I wonder if he does this often - sneaking out of five-star hotels to sneak into art shows in the middle of nowhere.

"I met the artist, briefly, the last time we were in town," he replies. "We exchanged numbers. He keeps in touch."

"You are full of surprises," I comment.

"This isn't the entire date," he says with a tiny smile. "Still surprises to come."

We enter the warehouse-turned-art-studio and each take a glass of champagne when it's offered to us. The artist appears to work with a mix of mediums; some pieces are entirely done in spray paint, others are photographs surrounded by a painting cover the rest of the 'scene'. One that catches my attention is an old black-and-white photo of someone spray painting a wall - the person's hood is up and is facing away from the camera so that all you can see are his hands. The artist has painted an entire scene in vivid colors around the photo - completing the person's painting and adding in a little girl off to the side watching him.

"Zayn, I didn't expect you to come," a man says. He steps up next to us to look at the piece. "This is one of my favorites."

"Yeah, had a free afternoon, thought I'd come check it out," Zayn replies. "Didn't realize you'd actually used that picture, though."

I study the picture more closely. "Is that you?" I ask, surprised.

The artist nods. "Caught it last time he was in town. You said I could use anything that didn't show your face or tats," he reminds Zayn. "And clearly if your girlfriend doesn't immediately recognize it as you, we're cool, right?"

Zayn nods. "Yeah. 'Course. Just didn't think you'd actually use any of that. It's good." He pauses. "Sorry, Riley, this is Curtis - the artist, obviously. Curtis, this is Riley."

"Nice to meet you," I tell him, shaking his hand. "I love your work. Why'd you add the little girl?"

Curtis smirks. "Always girls watching him, aren't there?"

Zayn huffs out a laugh.

I hum. "I thought it might be representing his younger sisters."

Curtis shrugs. "Interpret it as you choose. I'm sure you'd prefer there were less girls watching him."

I start to protest, but realize I don't really have an argument for that. I just try not to think about it and now I'm thinking about how wise it really is to choose two of the most sought-after twenty-somethings in the world. My hand slips into the crook of Zayn's arm without much thought. He's not even mine yet and I'm already wary of other women.

"Well, enjoy the show," Curtis says, bowing away from us.

"What's wrong, love?" Zayn asks me in a low voice.

I shake my head. "Nothing."

Zayn quirks an eyebrow at me but drops it.

We spend a couple hours going around to all of the pieces and discussing what we like and would change about each piece. We circle back to the one including the photo of him after I ask Curtis if he'd mind me taking a picture of it.

"I want Liam to see it," I tell Zayn. "And I liked it before I realized that was you," I insist. "It being you just makes it better."

Zayn chuckles, waiting patiently for me to snap a picture on my phone. "All set?" He asks.

I nod, allowing him to wrap an arm around my waist and lead me out of the building. "Where now?" I ask.

A black SUV pulls up and he leads me towards it.

"Oh? Now we're taking a car?"

Zayn smiles. "Got a bit further to go this time."

"I hope it involves food," I tell him.

He doesn't respond, climbing into the car next to me. The door shuts behind him and the driver pulls away without a word.

"Did I mention that we didn't actually get around to having lunch while you were gone with Gwen?" I ask. "Because I'm a bit hungry."

Zayn rolls his eyes. "There will be food," he promises. "What were you and Liam up to?"

"I'd rather not say," I reply, glancing at the driver.

Zayn chuckles. "Of course. Can't blame him - or you."

"And then he was extremely unhelpful with helping me get ready," I add. "Glad Harry was just down the hall."

"You nervous about our date?" Zayn asks. "I'm sure anything you would've chosen would look great on you."

I huff. "That was almost exactly what Liam said. No help."

"You were nervous?"

I squirm, looking away from him as my cheeks flush. "A little bit."

His arm wraps around me. "And how about now? Still nervous?"

"Nervous about where you're taking me."

Zayn chuckles. "You'll like it," he promises. "And then we can head to the stadium. Unless you wanted to go back to change?"

I shake my head.

We ride for another twenty minutes before the SUV stops in front of a dark building. I turn a quirk an eyebrow at Zayn. "Another creepy location?"

He laughs. "It's the back entrance to a restaurant, love. Can't be seen together, remember?"

I blush slightly. "What restaurant?"

"A friend of mine's," Zayn replies. "He's closed for a couple hours for us."

"What? That's - "
"Absolute privacy. He promised." He helps me out of the car and then through the back door. We meet his friend at the kitchen and then we're seated in the middle of the small restaurant.

"You do this for Li, too?" I ask.

Zayn smiles. "Not yet." He reaches across to thread our fingers together in the middle of the table. "We haven't really had any proper dates. Mostly just been hanging out at whatever hotel we're at or on the bus together."

I frown. "Well, that's not terribly fair. You're pulling out all the stops for me."

"I've got to impress you."

I chuckle. "I would've been thrilled with dinner and a movie. And not even dinner like this. McDonald's would've been fine as long as it was with you."

"I want to impress you, then. Liam's already…"

"In love with you? Yeah, kind of." I smile. "It's alright. I'm starting to understand how easy it is to fall for you."

"Yeah? It's just - it's easier with Liam. Not just because he's more familiar to me. But he's here, you know? It sucks only getting to see you through a screen all the time."

"I know," I sigh. "I just - I didn't want to be the clingy girlfriend following her boyfriend all over on tour. But now I think it's worse because I miss both of you and - and I feel like I'm missing out on stuff."

"It's definitely a conversation to have - all three of us - at a future date."

I nod, glancing up at our server as he fills each of our wine glasses. "Fancy."

The server smirks, slightly, and I just barely catch Zayn shooting him a warning glare. "Your appetizers will be out in just a few minutes," he informs us.

"You're worse than Liam and Harry."

"What?" he asks, all innocence.

I roll my eyes. "The jealousy act. He barely even looked at me."

"Well, I already have to share you with two other people and I don't like to share," he replies.

I squeeze his fingers. "Maybe you should've sat closer over here so I could actually kiss you."

He chuckles and moves his chair around to sit next to me, pressing a quick kiss to my cheek. "Better?"

I nod, happily moving my hand down to his thigh. "What did you tell Gwen about us?"

"Not much. Just that we were trying things out."

"She seemed… nice."

Zayn grins. "She's just a friend, babe, I swear. I'd rather have a friend pretend to be my date than have some random model that I have nothing to talk to about."

"I never realized that being a beard for Harry would turn into this mess."

"He's a lucky man. Got a gorgeous girl to volunteer to be his beard and not hit on him. It's a rare gift."

"You saying Gwen hit on you?"

He shakes his head with a small laugh. "Not recently. She did once before, but I shut her down. We remained friends, though."

"What was the deal with you and Perry? If I'm allowed to ask that… Is that first date appropriate?"

"You can ask me anything, baby," he assures me. "It was - it started out as a publicity thing and then there was a brief time when I thought it could be something real and then I realized I was in love with Liam. And it was easier to stay with her than deal with management sending me out on dates with different girls every month."

"So you're still friends?"

He shrugs. "More like… friendly. We don't seek out each other's company, but we get along if we end up together?"

I nod, accepting his explanation.

"What about you and Harry? Am I allowed to ask about that?"

"What d'you mean?" I frown, confused.

"Did you ever… have feelings for him?" He pauses, watching me carefully. "I assume it's something you and Liam have had to discuss. I'm just wondering."

"I… You know I was a big fan before I got hired as a beard, right?" He nods. "Well, I guess I was a little bit in love with him and Louis and their whole love story before. So, I mean, I guess that's always kind of been there. But we're just - we've become really comfortable with each other. I know we pull off the couple thing a little too well sometimes, but it's just because it's - we're just friends."

"You're telling me you kiss him like that and never feel anything?"

We're interrupted by the arrival of our appetizers. I ask for a glass of water and he quickly retrieves that as well. The food smells amazing and I can't help grabbing a chunk of the onion blossom to shove into my mouth, moaning slightly at the taste.

Zayn's eyes appear to darken slightly across the table. The waiter disappears and he repeats his question. "You kiss Harry the way that you kiss him and don't feel anything?"

"It's acting."

Zayn shakes his head, slightly. "You two are so close."

I shrug one shoulder. "He's my best friend. He knows… he probably knows more about me than Liam. Not because I'm not in love with Liam, but simply because we've been close for longer. He's always been easy for me to talk to. About anything."

"Like what?"

"Like…" I chew for a moment while I think. "My insecurities. Things I would be afraid to bring up to Liam or you because - well, because they make me insecure and - he knows all of them. If I wake up and feel like this is all some elaborate joke and I couldn't possibly actually have Liam Payne's heart, Harry's the one that talks me down. I freak out and he knows exactly what to say. And, yeah, he knows how to kiss me just right. He knows the spot on my neck that makes my knees turn to jelly and he's pressed his hard cock against my ass once or twice, but that's not the important stuff. That's just - extras to our relationship. We do it for the cameras, yeah, but I'm not entirely certain that even without the cameras, he wouldn't still kiss me goodbye. Or kiss me to snap me out of a funk."

"So even if Louis was out of the picture, you two wouldn't…"

I shake my head. "Louis is too important to the fiber of his being. He wouldn't be the same person if he wasn't with Louis."

"And if they asked - "

I shake my head. "They wouldn't. They're both far too possessive of each other."

"I wouldn't have expected you to share Liam, either," he points out.

I shrug. "All I can really say is that right now and for the foreseeable future, Liam's the one I'm in love with and you're the one I'm… You're the one I'm in like with."

He smiles. "'In like with', huh?"

I blush, slightly. "Yes."