This is based on a quote I saw last week and I love it, the quote is at the end. Thanks to @myuselessknowledge for the idea that fed this.
It’s a future fic, kind of. Angst but not serious angst and a tiny bit of fluff. Some of this is under the cut.
It creeps up on Liam. He suspects it’s the same for Zayn. It’s not deliberate, but it happens anyway.
They always knew they’d have to be separated for a while, it wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last. In a way it sort of worked, they made it work.
Till one day, it’s like he’d had his hands on the steering wheel for so long and all it took was one tiny distraction to take his hands away.
Just one night out, where the food was great and the company even better, and what he’d planned to be a swift meal and home by 10pm to hope Zayn would still be wide awake in New York, turned out to be 3am crawling into bed, glancing at his phone to see a whole bunch of missed calls but too tired to do anything about it.
That’s when it started.
It’s eight months later, it’s a freezing cold day in the middle of winter in London. In LA, it’s sunny and warm, Liam just checked.
It’s become sort of necessary to have that piece of information lately. Some way to get the conversation flowing, though flowing? That’s overegging the pudding so much.
He’s about to unlock his phone and hit speed dial or maybe in a few minutes he will when the phone starts ringing.
His heart sinks. He’s not ready, he’s never ready lately, but from somewhere he conjures up a smile in his voice and presses the answer button.
“Hey yourself,” it starts out like this every time, when they don’t have to force the notion that they’re pleased to hear each other’s voices.
Zayn still has the power to make Liam’s heart skip a bit just with one word, doesn’t even have to be a particularly grand word, just the way he’ll say something in that Yorkshire accent he’s so in love with and that’s never changed even after all these years they’ve spent to and from LA.
“Checked the weather before,” says Liam, “Scorching innit?”
He hears Zayn murmur a quiet, “Yeah.”
It starts then, the silence that used to be filled with nothing other than relief at the feeling that even though separated, they could still talk to each other, it’s now stilted, awkward and Liam’s scrambling to find what best to say, when there’s too much he wants to say but recent times have taught him to be careful.
“Wish I was there,” it’s the truth, but he knows it’s not the right thing to say as there’s a heavy sigh that comes down the other end of the phone line.
“Yeah, well, easily changed that as you know Liam,” it’s not that he sounds angry, it’s more that he sounds so tired, so weary, his tone is curt too, but Liam could overlook that, he could but just like a couple of days ago, like last week, like the week before it touches a nerve.
He tries to keep his voice even, tries not to let the defensiveness show in the tone of his response.
“How many times Zayn, how many times do we have to go through this until you realise that it’s not just me, you could be here, there’s a reason why we built a studio here.”
“There’s a reason we built one here too babe,” Zayn’s voice is just so reasonable, so soft. Too reasonable, too soft.
So if all else fails, like usual Liam makes an attempt at humour.
“You know what, we missed a trick Zedd, that studio in the middle of the ocean, that’s what we should have been spent all our money on.”
There would have been a time that Zayn would have snorted out a laugh, called Liam “you big doughnut,” and then they’d have carried on talking about everything, what they’d been up to.
“Mm,” is the only sound he gets in return and then it’s back, the silence except it’s worse even than before.
It’s not even quarrelling, not even a bitter fight with name calling, and yet somehow it’s worse, much worse and Liam looks at his watch, and it’s almost time for him to head to the studio, to try and push through to finishing this album.
Liam’s first big debut as a producer and he should be excited.
Instead, he’s figuring out how to remove himself from a conversation that not that long ago could have lasted hours, even if they’d spoken no words, just to hear his breath, to hear him moving around the kitchen, occasionally dropping little words of commentary about where he was and what he was doing.
“Anyway, I have, erm, well stuff to do so we’ll talk soon,” it’s not a surprise Zayn beats him to it, it’s not a surprise that it’s as awkward as it would’ve been had Liam said it, “Won’t we?”
Those last two words though, the way Zayn sounds so uncertain, the fact that it’s a real question and the fact that he has to voice it at all.
It’s like Liam’s been kicked in the stomach because if he needed a clue as to how bad all this was, he has it.
“We will Zayn, we will and it’s only a week or so till I see you, I really do mis-.”
“Yeah anyway, love you.”
Four words, and the last two used to feel like a fleece blanket on Liam when he was most cold, most afraid and tired of everything. Now they just feel cold and unfamiliar.
Then there’s silence which is too suffocating, so Liam finishes, “Miss you,” to the ended call screen and to the room he’s in and then with a small glance because any longer will do things to him, he can’t express, he looks at the picture on the wall in their study, of them. In times that feel like a lifetime since he says out loud, “Love you too.”