Abused!Zayn, comforting!loving!boys. Cuteness, cuteness, cuteness.
Trigger warning for mentions of abuse.
Title from Just Enough To Love You by Bayside.
They find out because of a flinch. A stupid, stupid flinch. Zayn should know better by now, he really should. But he’s used to harm, used to punches and slaps and kicks and sometimes it’s hard to forget that, really.
They all know his boyfriend, Derek. Zayn’s been with him for nearly four months now, and he loves him, he does. Except when he doesn't. Except when Derek gets angry or possessive or frustrated or any negative emotion at all, really. Except when Derek hurts him.
He’s been through those typical phases, too. The he loves me he’s just angry it won’t happen again stage, the I just have to keep him happy stage, the I probably deserve it anyways so it doesn’t matter stage. And he’s settled into it, expecting the blows that come daily.
He knows how to cover it up. So does Derek, actually. He makes sure they’re not in places the boys and the fans could see. He keeps the bruises in areas his clothes cover; chest, stomach, thighs. Sometimes wrists if he pins him down while fucking him until he cries. It’s routine by now, feeling the marks twinge as he moves, being sore for days.
But he keeps it his secret because he has to. Or, because Derek loves him. Or, because he loves Derek. Or, because he doesn’t know what to do and he’s scared and sad and weak and he’s so, so lost.
And then the boys find out. Because he fucking flinches.
They’re goofing around backstage after a concert and Harry’s tackling Louis to the floor and Liam’s rolling his eyes and Niall is launching himself at Zayn and Zayn flinches.
He’s never done that before. And they clearly know that, because they all freeze, furrowing their eyebrows and frowning, Niall tugging back cautiously.
“Zayn? You alright?” He asks concernedly.
“I’m fine.” Zayn says quickly.
They don’t believe him though, and he’s not sure why he expected them to. Louis and Harry quickly disentangle and scoot closer, Niall sits on the couch with Liam, and Zayn really has no other choice but to sink down into an oversized armchair, picking at his nails anxiously.
“You look scared.” Harry observes.
Zayn just nods a little and wishes he could be smoking.
“What’s there to be scared of?” Louis asks pointedly, trying to get an answer out of him.
Zayn doesn't know what to do, because he can’t tell them, but it seems like he can’t not tell them, and fuck, what would it be like if they knew? If Derek knew they knew? Scared is an understatement.
“Um. A lot?” He chances, opting for casualty and failing.
“Like what exactly?” Liam questions, reaching over to put a hand on his knee.
Zayn just shrugs, which in turn makes his ribs ache. Derek was rough last night, because he wouldn’t be seeing Zayn for another week. Zayn had been relieved when he walked out the door. Now, he’s not so sure.
“Then why were you were scared of me hugging you, Z?” Niall asks, sounding somewhat hurt.
Zayn avoids their eyes and lets his shoulder sag, a little. “I wasn’t, I mean, I.” He stammers, hands trembling a little. “It wasn’t a hug I was afraid of.”
And at that admission, they’ve all moved closer, like a unit. Harry’s kind of hugging his leg, while Liam continues to pet at his knee. Louis sits on the arm of the chair and gently puts an arm around his shoulders, and Niall just wraps his shaking fingers in his own.
“What was it, then?” Louis murmur-asks, stroking his neck lightly.
The tears start then. Slow and silent, they well up in his eyes and spill over as he lets out the word “Derek.”
As soon as he’s said it, they’re all over him, cuddling him close, and it’s a mess of limbs and kisses and cooed words of comfort, and he snuggles into it as he cries.
“Oh, Zayn, love. Has he hurt you?” Niall asks into his hair, and all he can do is nod with a feeble sob.
“Shh, darling, it’s okay.” Louis whispers, kissing him on the forehead. “Everything’s okay now.”
“We’ve got you, you’re safe.” Harry tells him, squeezing his hip.
Zayn just allows himself to be held, jumbled in a heap of boys on the armchair, and he cries and shudders and listens to Liam’s never ending stream of “Hush, we’re here, he’ll never touch you again, we won’t let him hurt you, we won’t let you get hurt, never.”
“I’m sorry.” Is what Zayn lets out. It’s become his go to response, since Derek.
“No no, please don’t apologize. It’s not your fault, it’s all his, okay?” Harry tells him with a kiss to his jean covered thigh. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“He says I have.” Zayn whispers, but then Niall’s finger is over his lips.
“He’s wrong, he’s so wrong. Anyone who hurts you or does anything you don’t want is wrong.” Niall explains, and Zayn knows that, he’s not stupid. But it’s still nice to hear.
“I know.” He sighs.
“If you know, then why’re you still with him?” Liam asks, frowning deeply.
And Zayn doesn’t know how to answer that so he tries to sum it up with a half-sobbed “Scared.”
“Okay, shh.” Louis coos into his temple, lips warm there.
“He just, he gets so angry. He loves me though, he does.” Zayn stutters, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Maybe. But not in the right way, you understand?” Niall coaches, rubbing his arm.
“I guess.” Zayn breathes.
With that, the Irish boy pushes up his sleeve, slow as if to give him time to say no. He doesn’t, because he trusts them. Niall pushes up his jumper (so not his style, but it covered everything he needed to cover) sleeve to reveal the ringed bruises around his wrists. Further up, there’s one on his bicep.
Zayn’s still as Harry carefully pushes up the jumper from the hem, letting them see the bruises decorating his stomach, ribs, hips. They all gasp a little, and Zayn just whimpers, suddenly feeling the need to turn away, ashamed.
“Oh no, no. It’s alright, Zayn. We’re just, you know. Surprised. You didn’t let it show.” Harry explains, laying his head on Zayn’s knee.
“Couldn’t.” Zayn sounds.
“Could’ve.” Liam argues.
Guilt swirls in his stomach and it obviously shows, because the others all hold him a little tighter.
“Regardless, no more bruises now. No more hurt, okay?” Niall says, kissing the skin below his ear.
“Yeah okay.” Zayn breathes, relaxing a little.
“Good, there’s a good boy.” Louis half-teases, but it makes Zayn smile. “How about we take the car back to the hotel, and we’ll all share a room, and have a big snuggle on the bed, hm?”
“I’d like that, I think.” Zayn says, still wrapped head to toe in the boys. Louis on his right, Niall on his left, Liam hugging his lower torso, Harry his legs.
“Yay! I call dibs on spooning Zayn!” Said curly haired boy is quick to say, cheeky grin and all. Clearly for Zayn’s benefit, but. Appreciated nonetheless.
“Then I get your head on my chest.” Louis claims softly.
“I get your legs on my lap.” Niall smirks.
“And I’ll hold your hand, yeah?” Liam asks, linking their fingers.
Zayn takes a moment to swallow the lump in his throat before mumbling stupidly “Yeah. Yeah, okay.”
“We love you, Zayn. So much.” Harry tells him, dropping a kiss to the thigh his hand isn’t stroking.
“Mhm. We’ll protect you.” Liam adds.
“You’re okay.” Niall reminds him, as if he didn’t know that, now.
Louis catches his eye and smiles warmly, nuzzling their noses and saying “Safe and loved, sweetheart.”
Zayn’s kind of thankful for the flinch.