Change Your Ticket by @englandziam Pairing: Zayn/Liam Rating: G
“Why does it say you’re going to the theatre on Friday?”
Zayn lifts his head from the book he’s reading and to Liam’s frown, his face crumpled with confusion.
“Because I am?” Zayn responds, blinking.
“No,” Liam mumbles almost inaudibly, forehead creased in concern as he shakes his head. “Friday is date night, remember? We’re going out for a meal?”
Liam watches as realisation creeps over Zayn’s features; his lips parting as he exhales a sigh.
“I forgot, Li — I’m sorry, love. Can we reschedule for next week?”
“No,” Liam tells him, crossing his arms over his chest.
He pouts, bottom lip sticking out — because he’d thought of everything. The polaroid photos he’d had developed, memories that he’d tied to the end of balloons. The restaurant he’d hired out for just the two of them, because it’s where they’d had their first date as a couple — and how he’d arranged for both their families to be there afterwards. The ring that’s been buried at the back of his cupboard for months, now.
“Zayn… Hurry up, love… We have to go!” Trisha Malik yells into the small house, ushering her three daughters through the front door.
“I need to get something, Mum. I’ll be right behind you,” Zayn shouts back. “You and the girls go ahead.”
The air raid sirens have been wailing for a while now, and Zayn knows that it is a stupid idea not to rush to the shelter, but he has to go and get it. Hopefully, it will be where he thinks he left it. Running up the stairs in a wild panic, he forgets about the loose panel of wood on the top step. He trips, barely able to maintain enough balance not to fall flat on his face, but his glasses get knocked down, tumbling to the bottom. Shit, he’ll just have to pick them up on his way out.
When he reaches his room, he stumbles to the bed and rummages blindly among the bedding. Eventually, he finds what he is looking for in the crack between the mattress and the headboard. Thank God for that—he smiles weakly at the item in his hand. It is a rectangular bookmark, made out of tin with a crooked ‘Z’ etched into one side. It is not the best looking item, but Liam gave it to him a few birthdays ago, and he has been sleeping with it under his pillow ever since.
Just as he is about to leave, an almighty crash shakes the house, knocking him off his feet. The air in the room is thick with dust and soot, making it difficult to breathe. Zayn crawls into the far corner, accidentally putting his hands repeatedly into fragments of glass and pieces of rubble. His body shakes violently as he hugs his knees to his chest. The blast must have been very close, judging by the missing window panes and the huge hole in the roof directly above the bed.
Zayn prays silently for the welfare of everyone on his street. Hopefully, his neighbours all made it to the relative safety of the school basement, which functions as the local bomb shelter. The dust still hangs heavy in the room, and even if he could see more than a couple of feet in front of him, which he can’t without his glasses, it would be suicidal to try and make it to the school now. He presses his fists over his ears in an attempt to keep out the sounds of war. The bookmark in his hand is starting to cut into his flesh, but at least it reminds him that he is still alive, and it also reminds him of Liam.
Liam Payne, who has no idea that he has been Zayn’s entire world from the moment he moved with his mother onto this street. Liam, who is kind, funny, brave and—extremely hot. His bravery is what led him to volunteer for the army only today, although he didn’t have to. He is a dock worker, which means he is important to the home front and doesn’t have to do active duty, but he and his drinking buddies decided to volunteer.
Zayn felt like someone had punched him in the stomach when he heard Mrs Payne talk to his mum about it. Why did Liam not tell him before he went? Does he think he is too weak to cope with the news? Or perhaps Zayn is simply not relevant. At the very least, he would have thought that Liam valued their friendship enough to tell him in person. Not that he would ever have the same feelings that Zayn harbours, but they are close, and it hurts that he can just forget about him. Zayn has lots of practice in hiding his emotions. Every weekend, when Liam takes yet another girl to a dance, he sits in his room over his books, not able to concentrate, just trying not to think about someone else being the centre of Liam’s attention. But Zayn has learnt to live with that; he knows nothing will ever happen between them.
The dull roar of the enemy planes overhead brings him back to his current, precarious situation. This house could receive a direct hit at any moment, killing him before he has a chance to tell Liam how he feels. Silent sobs wrack his body at the thought that Liam might never know what he means to him and clutching the bookmark to his chest, he tries to comfort himself with the thought that at least he has had someone like Liam in his life at all.
Fireproof by @all4zayn Pairing: Zayn/Liam Rating: T
A rush of frigid December air whips around Zayn’s face as he stands outside the bar waiting for Louis to arrive, making him shiver in spite of his heavy coat and scarf. He takes one last drag of his cigarette before dropping the butt on the ground and putting it out with the toe of his heavy boot. He closes his eyes and leans against the wall, blowing a cloud of smoke up into the air. He hates waiting. It allows his brain to wander, a dangerous thing these days.
Luckily, Louis pulls up in his car just then and quickly jumps out smiling and waving at him.
“Yo, Zaynie! Bit early for ya, innit?” Zayn nods and waves back. He knows has a reputation for not arriving anywhere on time so he understands Louis’ surprise. He needs to stay busy so why not show up to work early, right?
Louis fumbles with the keys until he manages to unlock the door and goes inside with Zayn right behind him. Zayn takes off his coat and scarf while Louis disables the alarm and turns the lights on. He sits on one of the stools by the bar and waits for Louis to walk through the premises and back before bringing the subject up again.
“Ya hear anything yet?” he asks softly while looking down at his jeans and picking imaginary lint off them. Louis lets out a deep sigh, walks over and sits on a stool next to Zayn.
“Well, at least you’re getting better. You waited 2 whole minutes before getting into it, mate,” Louis says while patting him on the shoulder.
“I know, Lou. Shit. I’m sorry. It’s just - it’s been so long,” he replies sadly, rubbing a hand across his face. “I think I’m gonna lose my mind.”
“Hey, it’s okay. I get it,” Louis pats him on the back sympathetically. “I promise you Harry’s working on it, ok? He’s friends with his sisters but they’re keeping a tight lid on things since everything went down.”
“Yeah, I get it. I’m sorry to keep hounding you. I just wish I could do something…can’t find him anywhere. Everything’s disabled, no phone, no nothing–” he chokes out before Louis stands up and pulls him into a tight embrace.
Federer scraps past Rubin to reach Australian Open third round
There have been some huge shocks in the second round of the Australian Open to say the very least, but despite a far from stellar performance Roger did enough to avoid becoming one of the big name casualties as he saw off young American qualifier Noah Rubin 7-5 6-3 7-6(3) to book his place in the round three. It was a strange match, Roger was far from convincing yet it never felt like it was going to be anything other than a reasonably comfortable win for him, although had Rubin converted one of four set points in the third set it might have felt a little different. The serve was on song for Roger and coming forward he looked sharp, which is just as well as from the baseline it was a pretty ropey display and if anything Rubin looked the more assured of the two from the back of the court. Luckily the four times champion in Melbourne was able to step it up when he really needed to and won enough of the big points to ensure his stay on court wasn’t extended beyond three sets.
The opening five games passed by with little incident, but the sixth saw Roger squander four break points as a combination of some passive play from him and a couple of great points from the world number 200 kept things on serve. While it hadn’t been a particularly impressive set from Roger he was serving impeccably and you could sense a breakthrough on the Rubin serve wasn’t too far away. Sure enough that breakthrough came with Rubin serving to stay in the set, as the American was unable to deal with a big forehand when facing set point. Not a set that will live long in the memory, but an important one to win nevertheless.
Roger had to work a little harder to hold serve during the second set, and had to snuff out a couple of half chances for the 20-year-old to move into a 3-2 lead. Rubin has made to pay for not making the most of his chances, as a sublime return and backhand down the line gave Roger the crucial break in the sixth game before some excellent play at the net helped him save two break points and escape with a hold in the next game. He then chose the perfect time to have his easiest service game of the set, emphatically closing it out to love with a delicious forehand half volley winner finishing it off in style.
A disastrous start to the third set saw Roger gift Rubin his first break of the match, as a game littered with errors culminated in a weak slice into the net to drop serve in hugely disappointing fashion. From there things went routinely with serve, but at 2-5 things nearly got a lot worse for Roger as a blistering forehand return from the American gave him a set point. A big serve saved that one and a forehand winner another, and after holding serve there he went on to break in the next game and bring the set back on serve with Rubin not capitalising on another two set points. A scratchy service hold apiece from there meant the set would be decided by a tiebreak and thankfully Roger managed to keep things solid, grabbing a mini break with a backhand overhead and winning the final four points to comfortably take it 7-3 and wrap up another win.
WHAT ROGER SAID
“I think my serving kept me in the match today, I’m happy I got through somehow.
“He’s aggressive on the ball and I think he had the upper hand on the baseline.
“I definitely got a little lucky in that third set so it was good to fight through.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE DRAW
One of the biggest upsets in Australian Open history took place earlier today, as six times champion Novak Djokovic was stunned by wildcard Denis Istomin in a sensational five set upset. The world number two had only lost in Melbourne once since 2010, but Istomin played the match of his life to secure a memorable 7-6(8) 5-7 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 victory and raise even more questions about Djokovic’s form and whether his best years have been and gone. Also on the wrong end of an upset was world number seven Marin Cilic, who went down 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3 to Great Britain’s Dan Evans, while home hope Nick Kyrgios was sent packing by Andreas Seppi (who as Fed fans know is more than capable of causing an upset on these grounds…). Two years ago Kyrgios came back from two sets down to beat the Italian, but the roles were reversed this time as Seppi came back from the brink to win 1-6 6-7(1) 6-4 6-2 10-8. World number one Andy Murray, 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and 14 times major champion Rafael Nadal had no such problems in their second round matches as they all cruised to impressive straight sets wins.
PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT ROUND
The big tests start here for Roger, as up next for him is tenth seed Tomas Berdych who eased past Ryan Harrison in his last match. It’s a seriously tough one to call, as although Roger hasn’t looked anywhere near his best yet he’s had Berdych’s number in recent years and has won every match they’ve played since 2015 without dropping a set, and he tends to play better in night matches in Australia which is when the match is scheduled for. The Czech hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the last year but he has a great record at the tournament though, reaching at least the quarter finals every year since 2012 and so it’s going to take a big improvement from Roger if he’s going to win this one. If he serves as well as he has and is able to find more rhythm off the ground and move Berdych around the court effectively then I like Roger’s chances of coming out on top, but he’s going to have to shake off a lot of the rust we’ve seen in the first two rounds in order to do that. My heart says Roger in four and so I’m going with that, but if he plays like he did in this match in particular then his Australian Open will most likely be ended here. On the bright side, if the road does end here at least we can say he still got further than Djokovic!
Australian Open: Novak Djokovic stunned as Denis Istomin knocks out defending champion; Milos Raonic cruises into third round
Defending champion Novak Djokovic received a major shock when the former World No. 1 tennis player was shown the exit door by Denis Istomin in the second round of the Australian Open. The two players were involved in an epic five-set battle, which lasted for four hours and 48 minutes. Istomin held his nerve to create the biggest upset of the competition so far, winning the contest 7-6, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
However, Milos Roanic booked his spot in the third round while in the women’s singles, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova managed to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Djokovic was tested to the limit by Istomin, who looked in sparkling form from the first set itself. He matched Djokovic shot by shot, and the latter’s fans were left shocked after the Uzbek player stunned the Serbian in the first set, winning it 7-6. Though Djokovic came with an improved performance and won the second set, Istomin challenged him from the baseline too. There was nothing to choose from between the two players.
Djokovic did play his best game in the third set, where he looked convincing and comfortable. He dominated Istomin for the first time in the match to win it 6-2. After a cruising win in the third set, one expected Djokovic to finish the match in the fourth set, but Istomin won it via tie-break.
That Djokovic would be taken to a five-set match so early on in the competition wasn’t expected by many. Istomin stretched him to length. The Uzbek player also showed some strong determination and calmness in the final set, which stood out while he was on way to his stunning fifth set win. The deciding set was always going to be tough, with both players getting involved in some amazing groundstrokes, and Istomin finally won 6-4.
There were not many surprises in other men’s singles matches. Third seed Raonic faced a tricky opponent in the form of Giles Muller, but the Canadian was in his zone from the first set itself. After winning the first two sets with decent ease, Raonic was tested in the third set, but he held his nerve to clinch the match in a tie-break, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
Richard Gasquet also progressed into the third round after a clinical performance against Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq. The Frenchman won in straight sets. Gasquet dominated the match and hardly let his guard down in his 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Gasquet will now meet Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated Hyeon Chung on Thursday. The score read 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Eleventh seed David Goffin looked in good form in his second round match against Radek Stepanek and emerged triumphant in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3.
In the women’s singles, the seeded players were in full flow. Konta and Wozniacki entertained the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena. Both the players won their singles matches against Naomi Osaka and Donna Vekic, respectively, in straight sets. Konta won 6-4, 6-2 while Wozniacki emerged victorious 6-1, 6-3. It was with the same ease that Karolina Pliskova defeated Anna Blinkova 6-0-6-2 in 59 minutes.
However, it was not all too easy for the sixth seed Cibulkova against Su-Wei Hsieh. The two were involved in a tough battle, which lasted for 103 minutes on the court. The first set might have been easy for Dominika, but the Chinese Taipei player showed great form. Su-Wei Hsieh challenged her opponent, but could not cross the finishing line, losing the second set via a tough tie-break. It was a quality two-set affair, score reading 6-4, 7-6 (10-8).