also a ziam stepbrothers!AU where their parents get together when they are really little and they’re best friends from the start and they’re supper happy to have their best friend at home, 24/7. exceptby the time they’re 11, their friend niall suddenly keeps going on about these girls and liam seems to always go along with it, but zayn’s really not feeling it. he’d just rather stick to his comic books, if it’s the same to everyone. and then it’s the first time he and liam aren’t attached at the hip at all hours of the day, and zayn really misses it, if he’s honest; he misses being the focus of liam’s attention. he gets used to it eventually – it’s not like liam’s not his best friend anymore, far from it; they just find a new balance for it, make room for other stuff. one thing zayn does notget used to, though… the dates.honestly, the last thing he needs is for niall to keep trying to set liam up and then have to hear all about it afterwards; it irks him something fierce. and then they keep pestering him to go with them, liam saying they’ll have fun and niall trying to push him towards some random girl he knows. he’s got better stuff to do with his time than worry about silly dates, alright? i mean, if he wants to go see a movie, he can just ask liam to go with him after. but only because getting ready for a date and dealing with all the expectations and formalities is so boring to him. whereas with liam, he can just relax and have a good time. he doesn’t have to worry about what to say or do… it’s just simple. his mum is always joking that he’s a late bloomer, it’s okay sweetheart, I was too, and no one spares too much thought on it.
so that’s how they work for a long time: liam knows zayn is not interested in the dating thing, so he stops mentioning it; and zayn goes on as usual, making his art and reading his books and hanging with liam. except one day he finds himself panicking, barely 17 years old and clutching his own hair because he doesn’t think the way he just felt when he accidentally barged in on liam sleeping, naked with the sheets rumpled around his ankles, classifies as ‘brotherly’. and really, they aren’t brothers, they’ve never seen themselves that way. ‘best friends’ is what always came to mind when they talked about each other – the stepbrother thing was just a minor detail. It still makes zayn choke on a few breaths, though, because he certainly didn’t see it coming, this desperate want he got smacked with the moment his brain registered the scene and that he just can’t seem to shake off now. It felt like hitting a freaking wall and he’s dizzy with it. And the worst thing is he keeps questioning himself now, his own motives – something he didn’t even think he ever had, not when it came to liam, for christ’s sake. he starts to wonder about the hard time he has trying not to care whenever liam has a date and they don’t get to hang out in one of their rooms, watching movies and talking nonsense until their eyelids are too heavy to handle; or about the way he’d never been bothered by anyone, but liam was always interesting, always someone worth being around, even if they were literally doing nothing; about the way he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life and yet how knowing that liam would be a part of it whichever direction it went was enough for him to be content with figuring the rest out later.
It’s just not the same after that, not for zayn. It’s like a veil was lifted from right before his eyes and he can’t help the way he notices liam now, how hyper-aware he is of him. He keeps catching himself right before he hugs liam, arms in midair and a hesitance in his movements that was never there before, because now he recognizes the gesture for the excuse it is, the need to be close, to touch. He’d never known someone could be so oblivious to their own feelings, otherwise he might have caught this rampant emotion from the start, nipped it in the bud and prevented it from making such a mess of him, from thrashing about and sending his peaceful world flying into the air. And fuck whoever said ignorance was bliss, because the fucker was right: now that he knew, now that there was no way he could even lie to himself, it was pure torture. Living in such close quarters with liam, seeing him just as he’d always been but under this new light – it was driving him mad. And Liam remains oblivious, doesn’t notice zayn’s awkward movements right after his epiphany nor the looks he steals and his softer touches when he finally embraces his feelings.
Christmas comes around and everything’s fine. zayn’s learned to live with this new secret he’s always holding so close to his chest as best as he thinks it’s possible, until they’re having dinner with their parents and it’s happening again – zayn’s breathless and trying to pull through it, because apparently liam is about to ask out this girl he’s had a crush on forever and it matters enough that he’s telling their parents for the first time. Zayn thinks it’s funny how things can change in literally a matter of seconds, because he’d always hated the obligatory trips to his dad’s house in Bradford whenever the holidays rolled around, always coming back in 3 days at most, and suddenly he couldn’t be more grateful for the fact that he can get away from here tomorrow, away from liam and the obligation to pretend like everything’s the same while his heart is fucking breaking. He steals himself for the rest of the night and family traditions go on as usual: having dessert sitting on the carpet with Christmas music playing softly in the background and photo albums strewn everywhere, all of them laughing and reminiscing just the same as every year. Liam and zayn always sit beside each other to share pictures and jokingly gang up on their parents, but zayn simply can’t seem to make himself act normally right then. Liam keeps giving him worried looks, tentatively trying to engage him in conversation over a picture of both of them doing something or other at a beach, or trying to make him laugh about his dad’s inability to take a single picture in focus, but zayn’s smiles look more like grimaces and his few remarks sound hollow.
Liam’s dad and his mum go to bed and zayn goes to do the same, but liam holds his arm and asks him to stay. He asks if Zayn wants to go to his room and see the presents his grandma got him, or watch a movie or they could just hang out, really, but then Zayn’s found an excuse for everything and liam decides to just go ahead and ask him what’s wrong. And the thing is, zayn’s got this plan of going to his dad’s, taking a breather and coming back feeling a bit better about everything, so why even say something is wrong and create a problem where there needn’t be one? So he lies through his teeth and says nothing’s wrong, but apparently living with a person for more than 14 years will make it impossible for you to lie to them because liam just forces out a laugh and asks again. They end up having some kind of argument over nothing – the first in all the years they’ve known each other – liam pressuring him and zayn deflecting, snapping at liam and telling him to stay out of his business. Liam starts to get that zayn’s mad at him but doesn’t know why, so he keeps pushing, demanding to know what he did and privately wondering if that’s also the reason why zayn was so subdued before. Zayn’s frustration keeps building and he’s starting to feel trapped, because there’s nothing he could say in this argument that would get him out of this mess safely. All he can see is liam’s face, his expression torn between frustration and worrying, trying now to gently get zayn to talk to him so he can know what he did and make up for it. Zayn’s thoughts are a jumble of jealousy, sadness and longing, and the realization that without liam he has nothing – and, therefore, nothing to lose –, makes him reckless; before he can ever even agree with the command his spine is shooting through his body, he’s tasting Liam’s lips.
It’s such a gentle kiss, for how fast he moved; his hands hold liam’s face still as his lips open a tiny fraction and tenderly close over liam’s own, lax from the surprise of it and being mid-sentence. Not another part of their bodies move; liam’s arms are still at his side while zayn’s lips just stay there pressed lightly against liam’s, his thoughts divided between savouring the moment and already feeling the pang of knowing this first kiss is also the last he gets. His eyebrows are furrowed with the intensity of it, and he decides that he needs to commit this to memory before he ends it. Lips still pressed against Liam’s, he slowly opens his eyes, expecting to just bask in their closeness, steal this one moment so he can marvel at it later, and is surprised to see liam’s eyes already open, slowly flitting between his own in a mix of confusion and something else zayn doesn’t even have the courage to decipher. Never detaching their lips, zayn looks straight into liam’s eyes with all the finality he feels while he moves his lips in a last tiny movement, a little kiss like an understated full stop after a simple, terrible truth written on paper, like a resigned bow of the head after the enormous struggle he’s held within himself all this time. He steps back slowly and the silence is deafening when he closes the door to his room after himself, liam staying there motionless. He finishes his packing and leaves the house at first light after sticking a note with his goodbyes to his bedroom door, telling everyone some lie that he was lucky to notice the departure time of his train was earlier than he’d thought and he didn’t want to wake up anybody, praying nothing gives away that liam knows better. He spends the four hours until his train is due to leave sitting on a bench at the station, thinking about his recklessness and liam, wishing he had grown out of both a long time ago. It would have probably saved him some heartache.
Starter for ofkeysandswords “Knowledge and Exploration”
Adam slept soundly for quite a while, far longer than he had expected, though this was likely due to having an actual bed to sleep in. Unfortunately, like always, he began to have a nightmare, rolling around and thrashing in bed. Eventually he snapped awake, he got maybe 5 hours of sleep, which for him was actually a lot. On the verge of tears he tried to calm himself and go back to sleep, but it wasn’t happening, laying there was only making this worse. He got up and strapped on his sword again, unsure where he would go exactly, all he knew was he needed to move.
As he climbed down the stairs he considered running away again, but quickly chose against it as the image of Silver and Alexandra flashed in his mind. Assuming it was open, now was as good a time as ever to check out the library. He walked out the door to the inn and turned toward the library.
dre:i've held off not going to the dentist for a check up. i've been waiting for 45 minutes, i'm pretty sure i heard someone scream and it's taking everything i have not to get up and run away again. i need a distraction, let's talk about something. anything you want! or we can play a game?
I was seething with anger in the cab on my way
home. The cab driver was the reason I was able to hold back my tears for so long.
I’m not the kind of girl to cry around somebody, especially strangers. When I’m
in situations like this, I suck it up, wait till I’m alone, and cry everything
out. And when I reached home, I did just that. I cried my heart and eyes out
until my calm returned.
Now that I have let some of the hurt go, I
realized, I should’ve listened to Ji Yong. He told me he would explain, but I
didn’t listen to him anyway. I ran away instead. And I’m running away again
right now. I just need to be on my own. Keep myself away from the drama. Away
from my family. I’m good with running away, and I’m fast. I’ve mastered the act
of disappearing since I turned 18.