timestamp for the build your nest on tenderness verse, so you should read that (and it's other timestamps) first if you haven't already.
summary: louis runs into someone special from his past, zayn's still stupidly emotional about all that, and everything is happy and fluffy. (mostly, at least.)
so this one is a bit more louis centric, for obvious reasons, but it's got enough zouis that i think it'll suffice. it's mostly set up for some other timestamp ideas for this verse that i've been playing with.
trigger warning for mentions of past abuse and rape.
title and lyrics from on vanilla twilight by owl city.
[cause it takes two to whisper quietly]
The bell hanging above the coffee shop door jingles to life a few feet away, and Louis has to force his ears not to perk up. He’s sitting across from Zayn, watching fondly as he studies away for his uni classes, and he can’t help but admire his boyfriend’s Concentration Face, all forehead wrinkles and bitten lips. He’s pretty as always in the warm glow of the lamp beside them, and there’s a knowing smirk growing now, like he’s aware Louis is creeping. Proving that theory right, the boy in front of him glances up and laughs silently, reaching across the table to bop him on the nose.
“What are you looking at, kitty?” He teases, cocking his head to the side.
Louis snorts, hiding it behind a sip of his milk. “Nothing, nothing. Just admiring.” He smiles.
Zayn rolls his eyes and stretches, back cracking from being hunched over for so long. “Sorry if I’m being boring, I just really don’t want to fail this class-”
“Shush babe, I know.” Louis interrupts. “I’m not bored or upset, or anything. I really am just. Admiring.”
Zayn’s cheeks tinge pink but he remains as confident as ever, winking across the table. “Well, enjoy yourself then.” He drawls, before glancing at the time.
“How about I get, like, twenty more minutes of solid studying done and then we can head out, yeah?”
“Sure.” Louis nods easily. “You mind if I buy a muffin or something? M’hungry.”
“Yeah, course, hang on.” Zayn mutters as he rummages about for his wallet, eventually coming up with a crinkled bill. “Grab me another coffee?”
“Yes Mr. Caffeine Freak.” Louis laughs, taking the money in hand and standing up, yawning big.
He bops slightly to the music playing overhead, top forty bubblegum pop that he really does hate, but can’t help but dance along to. Weaving around patrons and empty chairs, he makes his way to the counter and has to practice the order once or twice in his head, still not quite adapted to interacting with so many people over so many things. Normal life is a lot to get used to.
The barista is a kind looking woman with tattoos (much more colorful than Zayn’s) and dyed red hair, and she greets him with a big smile. “Hi love, what can I get for ya?” She asks, Scottish accent present. He likes it. (And in the back of his mind he wonders what Scotland is like, what Ireland and France and America are like. Now that he’s seen some of the world, he wants to see all of it.)
“Um, one blueberry muffin and a coffee, please.” Louis orders, handing her the money. She takes it with another smile, nodding.
“Sure thing, wait right over there and I’ll bring it to you in a mo.” She tells him, pointing to the other side of the counter, where all the sugar and milk and cream is. He takes his change and wanders over, eyes skimming artwork on the wall, flowers on the tables. He decides he very much likes this place, and if he ever has the confidence one day, he might come by himself while Zayn’s at school.
For now though, he watches his boyfriend from across the room, stomach dipping at the sight of him pushing his styled down hair out of his eyes.
Sometimes Zayn just mesmerizes him, in all that he is, all that he does. He’s a walking contradiction; all sharp features but soft words, fierce protectiveness but the biggest and warmest heart Louis’ ever encountered. And he’s all his. Talk about winning the life lottery.
There’s an amused chuckle to his right and he glances over to see the barista smirking knowingly, order on the counter between them. Louis flushes pink, but she doesn’t tease.
“That your boyfriend?” She asks, fiddling with her lip ring.
Louis ducks his head, nodding. “Yeah.” He smiles.
“You guys are cute.” She comments, and says nothing more.
He nods again, silently thanking her, before taking the coffee and muffin gratefully. The door chimes once more as he begins to make his way back to the table, and he’s about halfway there when his cat-like nose picks up a scent that sends all sorts of nostalgia zinging through him.
He stops in his tracks, mind flipping through memories of goodnight hugs, hands making music on cage bars, made up games to help pass the time. Louis knows that smell anywhere, knows that hybrid anywhere.
He spins quickly, and his heart jumps when he sees him. He’s older now, obviously, but he’s still boyish in the ways that count. His hair is a bit longer, no longer greasy or tangled, and it’s half hidden behind a beanie nearly identical to Louis’, covering his ears too. He’s got on just a plaid button up, but sweatpants as well, so Louis assumes his tail is wrapped round his thigh. It used to be like that a lot, except for other reasons.
But most important of all, he looks healthy. Taken care of. Maybe even happy, for all he knows.
He’s speaking to a human beside him, probably his owner, if the hand hovering on his back is anything to go by. Louis’ ears jump, and he has to force them down while trying to listen in. His voice is the same as it always was, asking, quietly but comfortably, “Milk, please? With a shot of chocolate?”
Louis can’t help but giggle lightly, because that boy had always loved his chocolate. (The few times they managed to get some, usually on birthdays or such, he’d eat only a little a day to make it last as long as possible. One time, he told Louis he had a dream about swimming in a pool of melted chocolate.) As soon as the sound has left his mouth, he watches as the other hybrid’s ears twitch under his hat too, and then his head is turning to search the shop.
It takes all of five seconds for their eyes to meet, and Stan’s light up immediately. His expression slackens at first, and then he’s grinning big, and then they both are, and then Louis is putting down his food on an empty table, and then they’re running at each other. They collide in a tight hug, Stan’s smell washing over him, arms squeezing tight, spinning in circles and laughing loudly despite the few onlookers with curious expressions.
“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.” Stan's repeating over and over, and it takes all Louis has not to just lose composure.
Instead, he breaks apart to cup the other boy’s cheeks, still beaming. “Oh my god, I never thought I’d see you again, I’ve missed you.” He gushes, still trying to wrap his head around the situation.
Stan grabs his hands in his and takes a step back, looking him over. “God, you look good, Louis.” He murmurs, making him do a little spin. Louis obliges like he always did. “Really healthy. You’re fucking glowing, mate.”
Louis huffs a laugh and pokes the other hybrid’s chin. “Not too bad yourself, Stan.” He tells him, amused when it gets him a bashful smile. “God, so you got bought? Or? I haven’t seen you since we got separated, please tell me you’re, like, alright and everything?”
They both know what he means by alright. (Not being hurt daily.)
Stan nods though, bright, and lowers the volume of his voice to explain “Yeah, yeah, I got sold off like two years ago? Was with this one shitty guy, who, like, well you know, but then he got fed up with me being sad n shit, so he sold me again and I ended up with Andy. I mean, I still have to have sex with him, but he treats me really well, and he’s actually a good friend? So I don’t really mind it at all? And I’ve got my own room, n a flat screen tv, and he takes me bloody everywhere Louis, it’s, it’s crazy, I never thought I’d have this.”
By the end, he’s almost teary eyed, and Louis hugs him again because he can.
“Jesus, I’m so happy for you, I always hoped you’d get saved. Used to stay up at night wishing and stuff, you know?” Louis whispers, nosing at his neck.
“Course I know, idiot, I did the same for you.” Stan tells him, squeezing him once more before breaking away.
Louis just gives him a look, one that he knows will convey the mess he’s feeling inside. Stan nods, giving him the same.
“So what are you doing here? Please tell me you got saved?” He asks, voice lilting hopefully, on the edge of desperate.
Louis opens his mouth to answer, giddy, but then there’s an arm snaking around his waist and the scent of Zayn’s familiar cologne filling his nose.
“Who’s this, Lou?” He asks, warm as ever. Louis leans into him and watches as Stan’s eyes flicker between the two of them quickly, curious but cautious.
“Yeah, Lou, who’s this?” He mocks playfully, but it's a little tentative, like he’s not sure about the new human holding his old cage mate. That seems fair, though.
“Erm, this is. This is Zayn.” He introduces, shrugging nervously. “He’s my boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” Stan repeats in surprise, before his eyes narrow. “Consensual boyfriend, right?”
“Yes, yes, oh god.” Louis stutters, face heating. “He, he bought me, and saved me, and, and I fell in love with him.”
Stan kind of looks like he wants to coo, expression softening immediately, smile warping his lips.
“We fell in love with each other.” Zayn corrects with a kiss to his hair. Turning slightly to address Stan, he adds “He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Christ Louis, you got lucky, didn't you?” The other hybrid exhales, but it’s happy and thankful and supportive. God, Louis’ missed him.
He flushes further and nods, glancing down at his feet. “Yeah.”
“So, care to finish the introduction, love?” Zayn prompts, thumb stroking his hip, slipping under his shirt to press at a fading hickey.
Louis huffs a laugh and shakes his head, trying to collect his thoughts. They’re all over the place right now. (It’s strange, having his old life and new life mixing like this.)
“Right, um, Zayn, this is Stan, he was my, er.” He lowers his voice, knowing he needs to be careful in public. “My cage mate, for quite a long time. We were really close, and then he got taken away, and. It was shit, basically.”
“Really shit.” Stan sighs.
Louis tilts his head up to see Zayn’s eyes swirl like they always do when his past is brought up, when he talks about anything sad at all. (Once, he asked him why that happens, and Zayn had just said “Because you deserve all the happiness in the world, and it’s just fucking tragic that you didn’t have that.” Louis had frozen in surprise for a moment, unable to wrap his head around it, but when he found his wits again he’d replied “I do now. That’s what counts.”)
“And you didn't get to see each other again? Until now, I mean?” Zayn questions, frowning.
“Not really.” Stan answers easily. Louis remembers a time where he couldn’t look humans in the eye. “We saw each other in passing, if buyers and such were in the direction that took us past each other’s cages, but other than that, we couldn’t be together. Although, there was that one time I bribed the feeder with head to let me visit Louis for ten minutes.”
Zayn looks proper sorrowful, but Louis grins at the memory. “Ten minutes of hugging, was all it was. Needed that. You totally knew I had that rough buyer that day, didn’t you?”
Stan smirks, winking. “I know everything, deary.” He teases, making Louis snort.
“Glad to see the good parts of you haven’t changed.” Louis says approvingly.
Zayn’s gone quiet, but Louis knows why and he can deal with it later. For now, he reaches across to take Stan’s hand in his, needing to have contact with him. He feels like he might blink and the other hybrid will be gone.
“Just what are you on about you little wanker, all parts of me are good! I’m fabulous.” Stan remarks in mock outrage.
Louis tugs on his index finger, laughing.
“But, seriously, same goes. M’glad to see you’re still Louis. Just. Happier. Loads happier.” Stan says importantly, and the world is bipolar today because now Louis wants to cry again.
He sniffles it back and nods rather quickly, free hand finding its way to Zayn’s side, touching there gently. “Yeah.” He breathes.
Stan opens his mouth like he’s going to say something else, but then the man he came in with (Andy, his brain reminds him belatedly) is tapping him on the shoulder, sending cursory glances to Zayn and Louis. “Stan, we’re gonna be late if we don’t go soon.” He warns, but it seems friendly enough.
“Right, um, uh.” Stan stammers, looking from Louis to Andy and back. “Andy, this, actually, is Louis.”
The way he says Louis’ name makes it seem like he’s told Andy lots and lots about him, and judging by the comprehension dawning in his eyes, that’s probably the case.
“Oh, wow, hi.” Andy greets, smiling politely. Louis shuffles a little, not sure if he likes him or not. “I really hate to break up the reunion, honestly, but we have a gathering we need to get to.”
“Wait!” Is out of Louis’ mouth before he can stop it, broken and needy. “Wait, will I see you again?” He asks Stan, tightening his tail around himself like a hug. “I can't lose you again.”
Stan looks to Andy, eyes pleading. “Can I see him? Please? You have footy twice a week, can I see him while you’re out?” He begs, bouncing a little for effect.
“I’d be happy to take them out, or watch them wherever.” Zayn chimes in, nodding in greeting. “Just, if you’re worried about his safety, or anything.”
Andy squeezes Stan’s shoulder, telling Zayn “Yeah, I’m sure we can figure something out, mate. Why don't you give me your number and I’ll text you sometime to plan?”
Zayn smiles, kissing Louis’ temple as he moves away. “Yeah, hang on, my phone’s back at the table, just come with for a mo? Give these guys a minute to say goodbye.”
Both hybrids deflate at that, hands clinging tighter, but Zayn quickly amends “Only for a little while, this time.”
The two humans head back over to the corner table, and Louis turns to Stan, lip already wobbling. He’s in a similar state, eyes watery and cheeks pink.
“Shit, man. Don’t wanna leave you.” Stan mutters, tugging him close and kissing over where his ears are under his beanie.
“We’ll see each other soon, I swear.” Louis stresses, purring into his neck. “M’so glad we ran into you.”
“Me too, Louis.” Stan murmurs softly.
Louis shifts, heart skipping as he pipes up with “It’s. It’s Lou now, really. New life, new name, kinda. I like feeling like I can wash away all the bad stuff, you know?”
Stan nuzzles into his cheek before they pull apart, and then he nods, almost proud. “Yeah, course I do. And anyways, I think Lou suits you.” He grins.
“Thanks.” Louis shrugs. “It was Zayn’s nickname for me, originally.”
“Definitely not surprised.” Stan snorts. “Did you know your voice goes all soppy when you talk about him? Just did it now.”
Louis blushes deep and shoves him playfully, pouting. “Oh shush, you’re terrible.” He teases, but then sobers. “I. I’m really happy with him. He just. Makes me feel so safe.”
Stan’s tail flicks in his pant leg and both of them snicker, quickly making sure nobody saw. The coast is clear, but Zayn and Andy are heading back over, chatting lowly about footy teams. Louis’ heart sinks and he clings to Stan once more, surprised the other hybrid doesn’t take the piss. Instead, he’s clinging right back.
“Alright, Stan, ready to go? Zayn and I are gonna find some times for you two to hang out.” Andy announces, and the two finally separate properly, Zayn wrapping an arm around Louis right away, Andy doing the same with Stan. The other hybrid relaxes into the touch and Louis smiles, glad he got lucky too.
“Okay, well. Bye, Lou.” Stan frowns. “And Zayn, it was nice to meet you.”
“Same goes.” Zayn nods.
Louis’ stomach is tingling, missing him already, but he fights it off because he knows he’ll see him again soon, knows this isn’t a real goodbye this time. It just sucks, being separated again.
“Bye, Stan.” Louis sighs. Andy goes to lead them away, but Louis pushes past his nerves and adds “And, um, Andy?”
The blonde man turns back with an expectant but friendly raise of his eyebrow.
“Take care of him, yeah? Not that you don’t. Just. You know.” He struggles.
Andy nods, though. “Course, Louis, we’ll see you soon.”
And then they’re gone, walking out the door, drinks in hand. Stan looks over his shoulder outside, giving Louis one last lingering smile, before they’re out of sight. Sadness washes over him, obviously, but so does strong contentment. Knowing Stan is safe and loved is...comforting beyond all means. (He’s been worried nonstop in the back of his mind for years now, a weight that’s finally off his shoulders.)
He smiles big then, unable to contain it, and throws himself into Zayn’s arms, purring and snuggling into his neck.
“M’so happy he’s happy.” He whispers, not needing to explain further. Zayn understands him.
Sure enough, his boyfriend holds him tight and breathes warm into his hair. “Me too, kitten. D’you wanna go home now?”
“Yes please. Unless you need to study more?” Louis asks, but gets a shake of Zayn’s head.
“Nah, love, we’re done for the day.” He decides. Louis kisses his chest piece gratefully, leaning back with a sheepish wince.
“Er, your coffee’s gone cold now, sorry.” He apologizes, but Zayn hiccups a laugh and pecks him on the lips.
“S’alright sweetheart, we’ll get another and head home.” He soothes, chucking the old one in the trash and handing Louis his muffin.
Louis’ mostly caught up in thought as Zayn gathers his things, packing up schoolbooks and countless highlighters. Instead of helping like he usually would, he simply stands and stares at his feet. But soon Zayn slings his bag over his shoulder and takes Louis’ hand in his, walking up the counter once more.
Before he can even order, the same barista as before slides two already lidded cups across with a smile. “A coffee and a milk, on the house.”
“I. Really?” Zayn asks, caught off guard.
She nods, winking at Louis. “As I already told him, I think you two are cute.”
Zayn chuckles and kisses Louis’ heated cheek, handing him his cup. “Thank you, we appreciate it.”
“Not a problem, have a great day.” She smiles, waving. Zayn’s leading them out, but Louis gives her a little wave back, deciding that yeah, he’ll definitely make sure to come back here one day.
The air outside is refreshing, slightly cool breeze ruffling his loose jumper, that of course is actually Zayn’s. He likes that he’s smaller and can wear his boyfriend’s clothes all the time, with the exception of a few shirts that cling to his tummy. (He dislikes that bit of extra chub, but Zayn doesn't, Zayn pets it, kisses it, comes onto it. So it doesn't bother him that much.)
They hop into the car, Louis snuggling into the blanket that covers his seat (Zayn’s mother had sent it awhile back with some random junk they’d thrown out right away, but it smells just like him, apparently already from his childhood bedroom, and it’s soft and cozy and really just his absolute favorite) and turning to look at his boyfriend softly.
He’s looking better than before, but clearly still affected, one hand tight on the steering wheel, the other distracted where it strokes Louis’ own.
“D’you wanna just go for a drive and talk?” Louis asks knowingly, and Zayn nods right away.
“Yeah, if that’s what you want.” He inquires, sweet as ever.
“That’s what I want.” Louis confirms.
Zayn starts up the car and pulls out onto the road, Louis nursing his milk close to his lips, soaking up the warmth and unwinding his tail, no longer needing to hide it. He stretches it with a flick, landing across the space between their seats, and Zayn reaches over to pet at it lovingly.
The radio plays quiet alongside the engine’s hum as Louis waits for Zayn to break, because he knows his human better than anyone else (or so he likes to think) and he’s stubborn about his emotions, needs to dwell inside his head for a while before he speaks about them.
“Stan seems really nice.” The other boy says after a few minutes, like he knew he would.
Louis nods, careful. “The nicest.” He agrees.
“So how long have you known him, then? Like, how long were you two together?” Zayn questions, taking a gulp of his coffee and swallowing big.
“Mm, we were in the same cage for like, three years, maybe more? Didn’t exactly have a calendar.” Louis shrugs, watching people pass by outside. There’s so many people in the world, and it’s so hard to wrap his head around. (Especially because he’s scared of most of them.) “I’d already been there awhile when they did some switching around and I ended up with him, scared out of my mind.”
“Yeah?” Zayn asks sadly, taking advantage of a stop sign to glance over with sympathetic eyes.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s kinda how it is with all hybrids, you know? It’s the instincts, it gets in the way of trust. Though, I suppose when you think about it, I wasn't given much to trust all my life, so that didn't help. But I mean, eventually we learned to tolerate each other, and then we started getting more attention, cause we’re the same age so we were growing up together, and, like. Everyone just wanted a piece of us.” Louis explains, going a little cold at the memory.
But the ones after it are much nicer, and he smiles at his hands. “We ended up being each other’s support systems. Started with small things, like a smile before we were taken away, and then a hand touch when we came back, and, like, I guess just over time it grew like our bond did and next thing you know we’re all over each other, hugging and cuddling and laughing, and, like. Genuinely just having a good time. It was nice, you know? New. I’d never felt, like, content before, and Stan made me feel that way. At least when one of us wasn't being, I dunno, rented, or whatever the term actually is.”
“Well don’t use that term, it makes you sound like you’re nothing, Lou.” Zayn interrupts, twirling the soft hair of his tail. “You’re not nothing, darling.”
“I. I know.” Louis stammers, staring at his hands in his lap.
“No, you don’t. I mean, maybe you do, sometimes, but you’ve got really expressive eyes, you know that? You show everything, and I see everything, and that means I know when you’re pretending.” Zayn tells him bluntly. It’s gentle, though, and Louis manages a nod.
“Sorry.” He blushes. “I dunno, it’s not like I hate myself, or anything. I mean, I used to, but that’s what Stan helped with, and vice versa. Now it’s just. It’s whatever. I can deal with it, because I have you, and you make me feel, like, just so fucking happy, and. I’m past it. I mean, it comes back sometimes, sure, but I can handle it. You help me handle it.”
It’s not very coherent but Zayn sighs and gives his thigh a reassuring squeeze, letting him know he’ll let it go for the day, knowing it’s not the time to discuss it. Louis thanks him with a rumble-purr.
“So Stan helped with all that?” Zayn prompts, and Louis nods from behind the lid of his cup. The milk is heated up perfectly, and he’s pretty sure the barista included a very small shot of chocolate. It reminds him further of Stan, and his lips twitch up.
“Yeah, he really did. Knew just what to do to calm me down. I was just.” He cuts off, always wary of telling Zayn new information. (Purely because he never wants him to be sad, of course.) “I was always so messed up, after. Most of the other hybrids kinda took it in stride, but they were older, and had been there longer, and Stan and I both were just, like, so affected.”
Zayn bites his lip, but to his credit, doesn't overreact. He simply opens his window a crack and allows Louis time to continue.
“Anyways, I’d be escorted back to the cage, and I’d be hurt and upset and whatever else, and he’d just hold me close and kiss at my ears, sometimes he’d groom me. He was the only other hybrid to do that, other than my mother way back, so that’s why I was such a basket case when Harry did it that first time.” He smirks, Zayn mimicking it. “But yeah, he’d cuddle me, and talk to me, and wipe away my tears. He used to do this thing where he licked them off my cheeks, just to get me to crack a smile.”
Zayn’s looking a little misty eyed but Louis has a feeling it’s more out of thankfulness for Stan than anything else, so he breathes a nostalgic laugh.
“And I did the same for him, obviously. Knew just what to say, what to do. He loved when I sang to him, ‘specially when he was hurting.” Louis goes on airily, picking at his jeans. “We told each other everything, you know? We were all each other had, and we needed each other so much. It was more than a friendship, it was like, brothers, but even more than that, I dunno. He was my rock, and I was his.”
His boyfriend links their fingers, turning onto the street that will take them home. Louis’ glad.
“S’why it hurt so much when they took him away from me.” He mumbles, heart still aching from it now.
“Why’d they do that, anyways?” Zayn asks, real anger in his tone. Louis shrugs.
“Wanted to display us differently, I guess. Or, actually, there was a rumor that they just didn't like how close we’d gotten, were worried we’d end up together or something. Which, like. I love Stan, a lot, but not in that way.” He explains quickly, fidgety. “And then they took him away. We tried to hold onto each other but they just ripped him away and told me if I didn't stop crying they’d punish me. So I stopped crying. Didn't stop missing him, though.”
Zayn sags visibly, sniffing some of his emotions back. “Shit, m’sorry, Lou.”
“S’okay, we’ve been through this, babe.” He tuts emotionally, bringing their hands up to kiss the pad of Zayn’s thumb. It means his lips are probably pencil smudged, but he doesn’t mind.
“I know, but like. Fuck.” Zayn whines.
“Yeah.” Louis sighs in agreement. “I hated not having him anymore. It was even worse than before I had him at all, because I was so used to having him there to comfort me, and I had to, like, relearn how to handle everything without help. It was really hard, I cried myself to sleep most nights. Got the point where I was annoying everyone there, and all the other hybrids hissed at me, and all the human’s yelled, and like. I’d never felt so alone in my life.”
He fights off the feeling of worthlessness the best he can, remembering cowering in the corner of his cage, pressed up against the bars, whining under his breath and trying not to cry. Stan was his whole coping strategy, and without him. Well. He didn't cope.
“But then, as Stan said earlier, he managed to come see me that one time, and it was like an unofficial goodbye. Neither of us wanted to admit it, but I think we both knew deep down that the odds of us seeing each other again were just...slim to none, basically.” Louis utters, sounding a small, pleased noise in the back of his throat at the recent change of events. “I’d had a really rough buyer, he was always so mean, hurt me cause it was fun, you know those types? Anyways, Stan was always such a gossiper that he managed to find out everything as it was, and when he heard about me, he bribed one of the humans to let him see me for ten minutes.”
They’re five minutes away from home now, and Zayn’s got a continuous lip wobble going on, so Louis’ happy to skip to the parts that are, well, happy.
“He held me really close, and kissed my tears, and I did the same to him, and like, we didn't even really talk, just said how much we loved each other. Just kinda burrowed as close as possible and tried to get as much of each other’s smell as we could. Scent’s so important to us as hybrids, you know? It’s why I love yours so much. And it’s how I spotted Stan today in the cafe.” Louis explains, feeling lighter at the end of it all. Zayn’s still dim but he’s smiling now too, grateful.
“M’glad you guys found each other again.” He says with a squeeze of his hand.
“Yeah.” Louis grins. “Kinda feel like fate’s looking out for me. Like, I got you, and then Niall and Liam, and then Harry, and now I’ve found Stan again, and it’s like. S’just unbelievable.”
Zayn nods meaningfully, pulling into their parking spot and shutting off the car. He leans across to bring their lips together, and Louis melts into it, grappling at his collar and tugging him closer. His boyfriend guides him, tilts his head back and licks into his mouth, hot and slick, making him whimper a needy sound.
“You wanna know what I think?” Zayn murmurs when they’ve parted, noses brushing as they hover close together. “I think you’re finally getting what you deserve, sweetheart.”
Louis preens into his neck, nuzzling close and purring, overwhelmed with affection. “Maybe.” He whispers. “I love you, Zayn. M’so glad you picked me.”
“Love you too, kitten. Couldn’t have picked anyone else.”
Eventually they need to move, and disentangle to grab their cups and head out into parking lot. The sun is just starting to set, making their shadows long and warped, and Louis holds his hand out and tries to make shapes, much to Zayn’s amusement, both of them laughing by the time they reach the stairs.
They hold hands all the way up, only letting go when Zayn needs to unlock the door. Louis’ still not used to the rush of comfort that comes with having a home and re-entering it after being out, so he can’t help the pleased twitch of his lips and sag of his shoulders.
Zayn’s already in the living room, draining the last of his coffee and setting down all his uni books, so Louis just leans against the doorway and watches like he always has, from day one, finishing off his milk and feeling the familiar urge to lose himself in his boyfriend.
Said boyfriend is currently opening up schoolwork though, and no, that just simply won’t do.
“Can we snuggle?” Louis asks pleadingly, regardless of how dumb it sounds.
Zayn looks up with fondness written all over his face, and opens his arms wide. Louis sets down his cup and all but throws himself into them, wriggling as close as he can.
“Thank you, for earlier.” He purrs, as Zayn takes off his beanie and begins to stroke his ears, right where they’re most sensitive. It sends a shiver through him, making the other boy hum a laugh. “Like, setting up times with Andy for Stan and I to see each other again. Meant a lot.”
“Of course, angel.” Zayn tuts, kissing his temple. “I know how important he is to you. And, honestly, he seems really great to be around.”
“He is.” Louis beams, deciding to tangle their legs together. Any space between them is too much space between them. “He’s a riot, really. And he loves pranks, so you two will get along well.”
Zayn adjusts them carefully, sliding their bodies further down so they’re laying instead of sitting, before ruffling Louis’ hair. “Aces.” He cheers smugly.
“Yeah, yeah.” Louis mutters, completely enamoured sounding. “Anyways, are you alright?”
Zayn’s regular rhythm of inhales and exhales is delayed suddenly, and Louis brings their faces together so he can kiss his nose.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” The other boy says, but he’s not fooling anyone, what with the minimum of four lines creasing his forehead.
“Zayn, while I may be an emotionally unstable open book, you’re pretty easy to read too. I know what hearing about my past does to you, that’s why I’m always so hesitant. I hate when you’re sad, baby.” He pouts, bottom lip stuck out and everything. Zayn huffs and bites it.
“I want you to tell me these things Lou, I promise. They might not be easy to deal with, but I’m your boyfriend and it’s part of my job. And besides, I love learning more about you, and why you are the way that you are. You used to be such a puzzle, when I first got you. Never spoke a word, barely acknowledged me. I hated that, cause all I wanted to do was love you and protect you and be there for you. And that’s what I get to do now, because you’re so much more open, and it’s a good thing, okay? Please don’t ever hesitate to be honest with me.” Zayn tells him, pecking over his eyes when they fall shut. “Unless, of course, you’re ever uncomfortable, in which case you never have to tell me anything you don't want to, obviously.”
Louis rolls his eyes, burying himself back into Zayn’s chest.
“I know, obviously.” He echoes, and hooking his tail round Zayn’s waist to hold him closer, not let him move an inch. Zayn traces up and down his spine and his purring is overtaken by a languid yawn. “D’you think it’d be okay if we took a nap please?”
“Course, bub.” Zayn sounds, wrapping himself all around his hybrid like he knows Louis loves.
They fall quiet as they relax into each other, clock ticking on the wall, refrigerator humming in the kitchen, vent rattling below the window, and Louis’ never been more content. This is his home, the thing he always, always wanted, and the feeling of it all is staggering, bringing tears to his eyes once again.
Zayn must feel the wetness, because Louis hears him open his mouth to speak, but he cuts him off with his explanation.
“Everything’s falling into place.” He breathes thickly.
Zayn pauses for a moment, then holds him closer, tighter, better. “Good.” He says. “S’about time.”
And you know what? Yeah. It is about time.
And lying there all cocooned in his boyfriend’s arms, Louis can’t feel an ounce of denial to go against it.
And that’s pretty good too.