Zayn’s phone vibrated and lit up on his stomach. He was reading the same paragraph over and over anyway, so the distraction was welcome.
“ do you like me y / n ”
Zayn stitched his eyebrows together.
“ What? ” Zayn sent back.
“ your suppose to write a Y or N ”
“ Cmon ”
“ Are you watching heathers again? ”
“ nooooooooo ”
After a pause another message came in: “ unless were gonna blow up the school ” complete with a devil emoji.
Zayn rolled his eyes and put his phone face down on the mattress beside him. He picked up his book again at stared at the same paragraph, but his mind kept wandering back to Niall fully burrito-ed and watching Heathers for fifth time - his discovery of 80s teen dramas was a little alarming; he was practically on a John Hughes loop before discovering Heathers, but even that was a short reprieve.
Zayn traded his book for his phone again and hit “Y” and then Send almost without looking. Niall sent back a string of wide-smiling emojis. And then his phone rang.
“Hey!” Niall’s enthusiasm came through on the phone. It made him sound like he was in the room.
“Hey,” Zayn smiled. In spite of himself and at nothing (at everything: of course he texted back Y), “how’s the movie?”
“I wasn’t watching Heathers, Zayn, don’t worry -”
“Pretty in Pink?”
“The Breakfast Club..?” Zayn knew John Hughes’s filmography, he had been through this list dozens of times before.
“No! No movie, Zayn!” Niall laughed, “And don’t you dare say anything else with Molly Ringwald in it.”
“Wow, Niall…like, there’s no reason to be rude to Molly about it.” Zayn bit his lower lip, smiling and trying to hold back a laugh.
“Uh-huh,” Niall dead-panned, “Listen, you wanna get a milkshake?”
“…If I say ‘no’ are you gonna kidnap me and make me choke on a jawbreaker?”
Niall scoffed. “First off, that is a 90s movie.”
Zayn sighed, but Niall continued, “Secondly, I don’t have a car. So. We should get milkshakes.”
“Uh-huh…” Zayn waited a moment. There was no way he would actually say no, but Niall definitely deserved to sweat a little.
“I’ll be there in five.”
He heard Niall exclaim “Yes!” when he lowered the phone from his ear.
They pulled into Sonic at 8:01p.m. and Niall was ecstatic remembering the “happy hour” deal they were doing.
“Zayn, we have to get four milkshakes.”
Niall was twisted around in his seat, practically straining against the seatbelt, addressing Zayn very seriously.
“What?” Zayn laughed the idea, “Babe, I can hardly handle one, there’s no way I can drink two -”
“I will drink them!” Niall looked like a toddler stepping into a candy store for the first time.
Zayn really wanted to say yes. If for any reason to be able to gloat over him and say “I told you so” when he would be doubled over sick from too much sugar and dairy.
Instead he smiled and shook his head, “I will be having one milkshake.”
Niall rolled his eyes and sat back in his seat. Zayn hit the button to order and, while he was giving his order for a mint chocolate chip milkshake, Niall unbuckled his seatbelt and brought his feet up onto the seat.
“And, uhhhhh,” Zayn looked at Niall out of the corner of his eye.
“Cherry! Cherry cherry cherry,” he whispered the Zayn.
Zayn had let his hand linger on the gear shift and Niall dropped his palm on top of Zayn’s hand. Zayn always ran hot and that heat radiated from his knuckles, warming Niall’s hand. He liked having Zayn over to watch movies: he never needed a blanket then.
“Let’s pretend I blew up the school…” Niall started, “all the schools. Now that you’re dead, what are you gonna do with your life?”
Zayn snorted and rolled his eyes, “Okay, Heather.”
“That was JD! You really need to come over and watch Heathers with me some time.”
“For the 40th time, you mean? Maybe I don’t have all the details, but I’ve seen it enough, alright?”
Niall sighed, “Well then maybe you can just come over, you know?”
Niall traced his fingers up Zayn’s arm from his knuckles and Zayn turned his head when he felt Niall’s light touch on his arm. Almost ticklish. Niall stopped at the point between Zayn’s neck and shoulder and drew little circles. He was lost looking at Zayn - really looking him: his day old stubble a little sharper-looking and fuller than usual, his hair a little greasy and pulled back into a messy bun, a single earring missing from his ear. This was Niall’s favorite Zayn, a little unkempt, very unready for the world, but here with him regardless. The steadiness of Zayn’s presence made him feel more grounded than an arbitrary routine, and far more attuned to reality than the dreamscapes of 80s teen movies. Niall tugged on Zayn’s earlobe.
“Come over tonight.” Niall said.
Zayn took Niall’s hand and leaned over the console, supporting himself with his other hand on the cup holders. He kissed Niall lightly.
“I’m there whenever, babe,” he kissed Niall lightly again, “you know that -”
“Okay! I got one mint chocolate chip -” the server peered into Zayn’s car from the driver’s side and immediately stood back up, “Yep! Okay, haha! And a cherry! Oh wow, uhm…” She shook her head, glowing red, and started walking away. “Enjoy!” She called back.
Niall probably actually died from laughing while a slight blush spread across Zayn’s cheek. He shoved Niall’s cherry milkshake into his hand.
“You had to get cherry…”
“Couldn’t have planned it better myself, honestly!”