title: 'cause i've been thinking 'bout forever
disclaimer: I cannot and do not own/know/associate with/stalk the real people mentioned herein. The following are works of fiction. No money was made in their creation.
summary: liam, harry and niall visit louis and zayn at university. inspired by and based on Frank Ocean's song Thinkin Bout You.
Zayn is aware that his room is currently a complete disaster and that Louis will be arriving with the boys any minute now, but he knows that he has an old pair of Liam's pajama pants around here somewhere and, even though Liam will have definitly brought his own, Zayn can't get over the fact that he can't find them.
He's in the process of practically dumping his dresser drawers onto the floor when there's a rapid knock at his door. Zayn's stomach swoops up into his throat and he leaps over a pile of t-shirts to pull the door open.
They're all standing there, his four best friends in the entire world, and Zayn just beams at them for a moment before his eyes zero in on Liam.
"Your hair's so short," he says.
"Yours is so long," Liam returns.
"Perrie likes it that way," Louis snickers. "More to hold onto."
Liam's eyebrows furrow as Nial begins to cackle and Harry lets out and amused 'Whaaaat?' so Zayn says, "C'mere," and opens his arms.
Liam steps into them immediately and before long Zayn can feel Harry and Niall on either side of him as well.
"Group hug!" Louis shouts, and he must have practically lept onto Liam's back because suddenly Liam's pressed so much closer and Zayn kind of wants to stay like this forever.
"I've missed this smell," Harry says, his voice muffled by Zayn's shoulder.
"What smell?" Niall asks.
"All of us together. We smell amazing."
And then they are laughing and squeezing each other closer and, honestly, Zayn can't remember the last time he was this happy.
"Alright!" Louis say suddenly. "Enough of this nancy touchy-feely business! Liam has a full and detailed schedule for us!"
Zayn tries to pull back enough to look at Liam, but Harry's still got both of them in a death grip, so he can really only bump his nose against Liam's jaw.
"You made a schedule?"
"Well," Liam hedges, which Zayn translates into 'yes, of course, but can we pretend I didn't?'
"Alright, Harry," Louis is saying, and Zayn turns his head to see Louis trying to pull Harry away from the group hug by his waist. "You're going to be here all weekend. Plenty of time for hugs."
Louis gives one final tug and Harry releases his grip, only to tumble back into Louis. They end up a flailing mess on the floor, and then it's Louis who's refusing to let go, his arms and legs wrapped around a struggling, laughing Harry.
Zayn glances over a Liam, his smile wide, and when Liam looks back at him Zayn is afraid that his heart is about to beat its way out of his chest.
"Group hug!" Niall declares and then he's on the ground with them, his arms and legs wrapped around Louis, and it's another five minutes before any of them are willing to let go.
When everyone is finally satisfied that the hugging quota has been met and every limb has been disentangled (aside from the arm Louis keeps wrapped around Harry's waist as they walk) they head to the nearest cafeteria for a late lunch becaue Nial is starving, and it's as good a place as any to spend some time catching up.
They end up with way too much food, but over-indulgance, Louis assures them, is what college is all about.
"You'll understand when you get here next year," he says like he's some sort of college guru. Zayne shares a private smile with Liam and is suddenly overwhelmed by how much he's missed this. Harry tossing french fries for Louis to catch in his mouth, Niall laughing at every story Zayn tells, Liam discreetly cleaning the parts of the table he can reach, occastionally knocking his foot agaisnt Zayn's to get his attention... it's perfect even if it's only for the next two days.
After almost all the food is gone and they've started to draw the attention of some of the other diners in the room, Liam suggests a tour of the campus. They've had one before, of course, when Zayn and Louis first moved out here six months ago, but now the boys want to be taken to all the "hot-spots" that Zayn and Louis couldn't have known about as incoming first years.
They take them to the ecalyptus forrest to see the singing tree, and to the top of the library to see the ocean. They walk around the University Center and try to sneak into the theater department, but are stopped before they can get very far. They end up at the campus pub around ten o'clock and don't leave until about one in the morning.
"I love you guys," Harry repeats into Zayn's neck as he hugs him good night. Harry and Niall will be sleeping in Louis' room since his roommate is out of town for the weekend, which means Liam will sleep on the floor in Zayn's single.
"Love you too, Haz," Zayn murmurs back, squeezing his friend.
"Don't wake up too early!" Niall demands as he pulls away from hugging Liam. "I want to sleep this off so we can party for real tomorrow."
"I'm sure Zayn will make sure Liam stays in bed," Louis comments, and Zayn tries to pretend he didn't mean to insinuate anything, but his can feel his cheeks heat anyway.
"If he gets up too early, I'll just send him out for a run," Zayn says. Harry finally lets go and the three of them head in the direction of Louis' dorm hall.
Zayn smiles at Liam and nods his head in the other direction. Half-way back to his dorm Zayn feels something hit his neck and is just about to ask Liam if he felt it too when the rain begins. They look at each other and then break into a run. By the time they get to Zayn's dorm, they're practically soaked. They climb the stairs to the third floor, Liam joking about how he thought it never rained in California as they make their way down to the very end of the hall. Just as Zayn is unlocking his door and pushing it open, he remembers the state in which he left his room.
"Whoa," Liam says, laughter clear in his voice. "What happened in here?"
"Um," Zayn says, drawing it out. "I was looking for something."
"Did you find it?"
"That's too bad," Liam says setting his bag down and opening it to pull out a change of clothes.
Zayn looks down at the mess and wonders if Liam will think less of him if he just leaves it. Next to him, Liam is stripping off his wet shirt and Zayn stares until he realizes that 1: he's being creepy, and 2: Liam's got goosebumps all over his skin.
"Here," Zayn says, reaching for his towel and draping it over Liam's shoulders.
"Thanks," Liam says. He flips the towel up over his head to dry his hair and Zayn stares some more. Liam's gotten taller since he last saw him -- he'd noticed that right away -- but he's also gotten more muscular and those muscles have become more well-defined. In fact, he practically has a six-pack going. Zayn quickly looks away as Liam pulls the towel from his head.
Liam swings the towel around Zayn's shoudlers and asks, "Where's the bathroom?"
"Down the hall," Zayn answers, and as soon as Liam is out of sight, and strips off his soaked clothing. As soon as he's changed, Zayn begins shoving things back into his closet and dresser, cringing at the disorganization.
"Looks a little better," Liam says when he comes back. He's changed into his pajamas and he smells minty, like he already brushed his teeth.
Zayn laughs and kicks at some clothes on the floor. At least he'd managed to clear the bed off.
"I'm gonna go brush my teeth, yeah?"
"Sure," Liam says.
When Zayn returns, he finds Liam laying on his bed, legs crossed and arm's under his neck. He looks like he's meant to be there, and Zayn's heartbeat picks up.
"You can sleep on the bed," Zayn blurts out. "I mean, you're the guest and all."
Liam's eyebrows drop together and he laughs. "What? No. I mean, we can both fit on the bed, yeah?"
Zayn swallows, and says, "Yeah," despite the sudden flip of his stomach.
Liam pats the bed next to him, so Zayn slowly picks his way across the room and climbs on. The mattress, being old and cheap and college-issued, immediately sags down in the middle, shifting them toward each other until their sides are pressed together. Liam doesn't move his arms, so Zayn pillows his head on Liam's bicept.
"I'm glad you're here," Zayn says after a beat.
"Me too," Liam says. There's half a minute of silence and then Liam says, "So who's Perrie?"
Zayn wants to groan and bury his face in the mattress. "Fucking Louis," he says instead. He waits, half hoping that Liam will retract the question. When he doesn't Zayn sighs.
"She's just... a girl."
"A girl?" Liam asks. He turns then, propping himself up onto his elbow so that Zayn's head falls back onto the mattress.
"Yeah..." Zayn says, "Did you think..."
"Well, it's not a very feminine name," Liam says.
Zayn looks up at Liam, but Liam's not looking back. He's looking over at the floor, like he might be thinking about getting up.
"Does it-" Zayn stops, not sure how he wants to phrase this. "Is it different if she's a girl instead of a boy?"
Liam glances down at him then, but not for long. Zayn can see his jaw working.
"Yes?" he answers finally. "I don't know."
Zayn can't quite catalogue his feelings beyond confused and the creeping sensation of defensiveness.
"You're dating a girl," he says eventually.
"I know," Liam says like Zayn just made his point for him. "She's not-"
Zayn waits, but Liam doesn't seem keen on continuing. "She's not what?"
"It's just different?"
And now the defensiveness is settling in. Zayn sits up so that Liam isn't looming over him.
"Yeah, it's different," Zayn says. "It's different becasue I'm not actually dating Perrie. We just hook up sometimes because right now we can't-" he cuts himself off, afraid suddenly that what he's about to say is a bigger deal than he thought it was.
Liam sits up too. "Can't what?"
Zayn glances at Liam and then turns his gaze to his lap. "Can't be with the people we want to be with." Zayn straightens up then, and looks Liam in the eye. "It's not that big of a deal."
"Who do you..." Liam trails off, and he looks so worried, so confused that Zayn's annoyance melts away.
"Liam," he whispers carefully, slowly, "You know how- how I feel. About you."
Liam's face crumples then, but he hides it quickly in his hands.
"What?" Zayn says, grabbing Liam's shoulders. "What's going on?"
"I don't know," Liam says through his hands. "When you left, I just... I don't know, we didn't really talk that much and I didn't- I didn't know if..."
"You're kidding me," Zayn says, moving his hands to Liam's wrists. "Hey, look at me." When Liam finally looks up at him, eyes shining, Zayn's heart begins to thud in his chest uncomfortably. The thought of Liam not knowing that he loves him is baffling and not something Zayn's brain is prepared to accept. "I'm sorry that things got crazy here, but there's not a day that I don't think about you. It never occured to me that we wouldn't- That you might not be thinking about me."
When Liam doesn't respond, genuine fear creeps into Zayn's veins. It feels like ice.
"The only reason I can stand the thought of you and Danielle is because I just figured you were lonely and even if you were actually in love with her... I guess I just thought it was temporary. But you and me... when I think about you, it's forever."
Liam's mouth opens, but no sound comes out. Zayn drops his hands from Liam's wrists.
"Do you not-" Zayn's voice cracks, and he closes his eyes. "Do you not think that?"
There's a horrifying moment of nothing, and then something grazes Zayn's cheekbone. His eyes flutter open as Liam's fingers trace down to his jaw.
"I'm sorry," Liam breathes. "I'm so sorry." He leanes in, but stops before their lips touch, gaze darting between Zayn's lips and eyes.
"Li," Zayn whispers and Liam surges forward.
"I do. I think about you all the time," he breathes against Zayn's lips. "I still love you."
"I love you too," Zayn whispers between kisses, his hands wrapping around Liam's shoulders to pull him down onto the mattress. "I love you forever."
day-dreaming's what i do best
- fic: 'cause i've been thinking 'bout forever (Ziam)