Neon Red – Chapter 23

(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. It’s important to remember this is all totally fabricated, embellished, and exaggerated for entertainment purposes.)


I’m not here

This isn’t happening

I’m not here

I’m not here

Radiohead –  How to Disappear Completely

I woke to the sound of him dropping things. Each thud was muted by the lush carpeting, so it was more the repetition that penetrated the cover of my dreams, as opposed to a startling or disturbing sound. Sitting up at the head of the bed, I found him stood in nothing but his briefs in the center of the hotel room, aggressively juggling an armful of oranges like his life depended on in. Apparently he’d snagged them from the fruit bowl in the sitting area as I hadn’t touched them since I arrived. Every now and then there was a sharp intake of breath that let me know he had almost lost one.

The room was cold. Expanding. Filled with shivering light as the sun rose behind the neighboring buildings. I eyed his growing frustration and the jiggle of his ass as he worked, and right away decided there was no finer vision to awaken to. Such lunacy. Yet his mindless theatrics were far better than all the wealth and luxury in the world. Better than being surrounded by a harem of all the baddest birds I could ever dream up, even if their single-minded aspiration was to pleasure me day and night and wait on me hand and foot. Still, if this was all the rest of my days had in store, stolen moments in borrowed rooms with no company other than this magnificently perplexing creature, I was game.

One of the oranges hit the floor and I laughed. “Gettin’ rusty, huh? Haven’t been practicin’? Spendin’ too much time with, Matt, yeah?”

“Shuddup…” he dropped another, lunging to try to catch it, but failing. “You’re distracting me!”

“Well, broh, maybe youh just suck—” he launched one at my head, but I ducked and it smacked against the headboard. We cracked up at how hard it had landed before he forfeited the task at hand.

“I didn’t mean to throw it that hard.”

“Yeah, alright. Surrre youh didn’t.” Now he approached, wiggling his hips and holding two oranges up to his chest like boobs.

“Uh…I think youh may need about two more of those….”

Arghhh! Don’t make fun of them!” he played offended and tried to cover all four nipples, before climbing into bed to kneel in front of me. Almost immediately he pulled the sheets off my shriveling morning wood, so I adjusted myself through the briefs.

“What’s up, babe? It’s a bit early for all this, innit?”

“It’s almost seven. I got woken up.” He rubbed his eye like a weary kitten. “They called to say the interviews for today were rescheduled. You have a missed call, too, from Paul, but you basically sleep through anything. Even an atomic bomb—”

“We don’t joke about atomic bombs in Japan. It’s like the one place youh don’t.”

“Sorry…” he looked genuinely remorseful.

“Forreal though? Rescheduled? That’s pretty sick actually. M’exhausted!”

“Yeah, same,” he uttered, voice gruff with morning cobwebs. His hair was a mess too, all deflated and falling over his forehead without product. Now he absently pulled the covers away completely. “Your legs are so freaking hairy I could braid it!” I twisted away when he attempted to do so. “Remember when I shaved my name into it?” he snickered uncontrollably. “Mate, that was lit!”

“You’re weird.” I twisted away from his pinching fingers again. “My feet are soh warm…”

“They are!”

“Youh showered?”


“Without me?” he only nodded, a knowing grin forming. “What?”

“You know what, mate.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I guess. We’d of never left if I was in there with youh.”

“Exactly…” He squeezed my ankle, lifting my leg like a lever. 

“So what now?”

“I guess we got time to kill today. I don’t really wanna go anywhere. You?”

“Shit, that’s cool with me. Me neither, to be honest. I’m tired of movin’ around from place to place all the time. I’d like to be stationary for a bit.” I spread my legs so that they stretched out on either side of him. He tried and failed to tickle me behind my knee. Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy” filled the silence. 

“Say, uh…would you suck poison outta me if I got bitten by a snake?”

“The fuck are youh on about now, maan?”

“I went to this old cinema the other day with a friend—”



“Don’t get pissed at me. Continue…”

“It was all in Japanese so I couldn’t really understand anything, except, love language is universal, right? So there was this scene where the guy got bitten by a snake in the dessert, and his friend had to suck the poison out of him. And I just wondered if you’d do that for me or not?”

“When will youh ever get bitten by a snake, Harreh?”

“Not the point I’m making…”

“Babe, think about it for a minute…what you’re askin’. That’s soh fuckin’ gross, yeah? Soh I’d, like, basically be suckin’ up the venom and warm blood too?? Directly from the vein? That’s some foul shit, broh. What if youh accidentally swallow it yourself? Soh that means you’re basically, like, riskin’ your life for someone else?”

“No, no, you don’t swallow it—although I know that’s your favorite.”

“Fuck off. But what about accidentally swallowin it?” I teased, knowing the answer he was fishing for. He wanted to romanticize the notion like he did everything. 

“So you wouldn’t do it for me, then? Mate, that’s messed up. I would do it for you in a heartbeat…”

“Then let’s hope I’m the one who gets bitten then, cause I ain’t suckin’ shit out of your veins.” We cracked up, then I sobered. “Of course, babe, no questions asked. Of fuckin’ course I’d do it. I’d do anythin’ for youh…” he blushed and looked so relieved. “I’d give youh the last bit of air in my lungs if it meant savin’ youh. I’d give youh every organ in my body…the marrow in my bones…absolutely every fuckin’ bit of me to save youh. Never doubt that.” He lunged down onto me and I lay with him in my arms, our legs entangled.

“You smell.” He muttered, face planted in my armpit.

“Yeah, I should probably shower.” 

“Don’t wash this off yet…” He rose a little and fingered the sharpie H he had left on my hip while I slept. I lifted the hem of my shirt to look at it. Now he sat up and grabbed a discarded orange and tossed his head back, trying to balance it on his nose. It kept falling.

“Let the pro show youh how to do it…” I sat up and grabbed one. 

“I guess in some ways you’re also the pro at juggling too, eh?”

“Fuck youhhhhh…” I shook off his dig at me keeping up multiple relationships at once, and set the orange onto my nose. It balanced with little effort, so he knocked it off with an envious growl. I doubled over with a laugh, later picking the fruit up to study it.

(Ya’ll probably thought I fabricated the vitamin C intolerance, but I didn’t lol. 2014 We Are Who We Are autobiography. )

"Youh know

“Youh know…I used to couldn’t eat these.”

“You were allergic?”

“Noh, actually. It was more, uh, like an adverse reaction I had to, like, vitamin C, I believe.”

“Duh, that’s what they call allergiessss…”

“Noh, smartass, it wasn’t an allergy, how many times do I have to say it??”

“Then what was it?!” he laughed, slapping my leg.

“It was almost like a neurotoxin for me…”

“Fuck’s sake, looks like somebody swallowed a thesaurus today. I don’t even know what that means…”

“Neither do I…” I chuckled. “For some reason, me mum wouldn’t let me at ’em. She was hell-bent on keeping them out of the house.” I tossed it up in my hand and caught it.

“But whyyyy?” he insisted, scooting closer between my legs. “That’s so weird, y’know?”

“Um, ADHD, they called it. Sunthin’ in vitamin C, I believe, really seemed to set me off. I still don’t quite understand it, if I’m being straight with youh. It’s still quite perplexin’ to me, but I couldn’t eat a lot of shit because of it. Apparently, I turned into The Tasmanian Devil or sunthim. Like the cartoon. Just ran around fuckin’ shit up.”

“Mate, you’re such a freak.”

“Tell me about it,” we laughed. “But I guess I might’ve grown out of it now, soh it’s whateva. Move, m’gonna have a shower babe, then we can get some food.”

“Alright.” He fell aside so I could get up, then kneeled on the edge of the bed, angling for a kiss. His hands slipped up the back of my shirt when I stood, squeezing my ribs until I planted one on his lips. They were comically puckered. The second mine landed, he blew a raspberry that showered spit all over my face. I shoved him back onto the mattress where he died laughing.

“Wait, Z!”

“What…?” I tossed over my shoulder, pulling my shirt off.

“…it’s like your kryptonite.” It was a belated conclusion about the oranges.

“Sure, I guess soh…” I grabbed my smokes and closed the bathroom door behind me.

After I took my morning dump I showered and sang Sinatra until my throat ached. His range had been impeccable. Truly an unparalleled and timeless vocalist. I liked to study his work and learn my way around the technical side of singing. “My Way” was my favorite record at the minute. 

Occasionally Haz would poke his head into the bathroom and make some obnoxious remark before running away. It was nice to see his playful side again, and to hear that he wanted to spend the day with me without it needing to be solicited first. I was sick of acting pathetic for him, but unquestionably would’ve begged him to stay if he hadn’t suggested it first. It was rare that we got to wake up together in peace and even share a meal, so since fortune had smiled on us today, I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

When I dried off and came out in my towel, Irene Cara’s “Flashdance… What a Feeling” was playing on his phone. He was dancing atop the bed in his own world. I dug through my luggage for a pair of briefs, and before I could find them, he had come over and snatched the towel from my waist, leaving me exposed.

“You’re soh fuckin’ childish, Haz…seriously.” He spread the towel out between his hands and twisted it around before snapping me on the hip a couple of times.

“Fuck off!” I pretended to lunge at him and he ran across the room with a frightened cry, flopping across the bed in forfeit. Now I slid the briefs into place and joined him, sitting on my legs at the foot of the bed. There I flipped through the room-service menu while the song finished up.

“Sick tune…” I said.

“Iconic. I wanna learn the dance.”

“In the mood for anythin’ in particular, youh lil shit?” I grinned down at him where he lay and stared at me sideways. He was so fucking adorable sometimes I could vomit.

Hmm…how about…more oranges!” At that he lunged and grabbed ahold of me, suplexing me at the head of the bed. I landed on my back in a painful heap, choking on my laughter.

“What the fuck are youh doing, Haz—” Now he locked my wrists together above my head with one of his giant hands, and I pretended to be defenseless to go along with his antics. “Fuck! Let goh!” I feigned a struggle, which only made him laugh harder. He straddled my waist with a triumphant shout, then reached behind him to the nightstand where I saw he had peeled one of the oranges ahead of his attack.

“Youh planned this?!”

“It’s all over now…” His hoarse laughter was like music to my ears.

“You’re crazy! Evil bastard!” I dramatized my fight for escape, renewing my efforts to slip my wrists free. Now I planted my feet into the mattress and bucked my hips, making him hop up and down on my lap.

“Stop moving! Just accept your fate!”


Grrr I’m gonna torture you!” He grabbed an orange slice and brandished it like a weapon.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!” I panicked. “Are youh sure youh wanna do this?! There’s noh goin’ back if youh do.” He bit his lip and nodded his head. “But, Haz, youh won’t like what I become!”

“That’s a chance I’m willing to take!” He shoved a slice between my lips. I turned my head away and closed my mouth.

“Eat it!”

Wait, wait…is it seedless?”

“Of course, mate.” He had switched back to his normal voice to answer.

“Oh, thank God.”

“Now eat!” I obeyed, gobbling it out of his hand like a starved animal. The juice spilled down my chin and he wiped it away with the back of his free hand. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was finishing up on his phone and it was quite possibly the most chaotic moment of my life.

“Feel anything?” he asked, eyeing me cautiously. I couldn’t bear to leave him hanging, so I decided to fake a reaction.

“Noh, babe…nothin’ yet—wait, hold on….I feel…” I convulsed, letting my eyes slip into the back of my head. He crawled backwards off me onto the floor beside the bed in shock. I convulsed my way up onto my hands and knees, contorting like a Lycan mid-transition. I started to howl and he laughed uncontrollably, resting his cheek on the side of the bed. It all came to an abrupt halt when I let out a massive fart.

“What the fuck?!” he wheezed, shoving me. “Mate, is that it?!”

I collapsed face first back onto the mattress laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. 


*Sorry detailed bottom Zayn coming soon in 2017*

Later after he made love to me, he soaked in the bath and I crept into the toilet to check on him. All the lights were off and he was relying on the weak illumination from the window. The day had gotten cloudy and threatened rain. It was late afternoon and a silence had swept the suite, leaving us both ready to take a nap. I suppose he had a right to be exhausted, as he had worn me out better than I had been in a while. Must’ve burned about 10,000 calories with all the work he put in, and I could tell he had been longing for the opportunity to showcase his inhuman stamina. It was a strange adjustment getting used to him being inside of me again, but a welcome ache I would relish for days to come.

“Hi, baby…” I mumbled, situating the burning cigarette between my fingers and snapping a picture of him from the doorway. “Japan looks gud on youh.” He gave me a lethargic grin, slinking lower in his sudsless water.

“I’m beat.”

“I can tell.” I approached, switching the camera to record-mode and swiping the drenched hair from his forehead.

“Hey gorgeous…” I whispered, sitting on the brim of the tub. He didn’t answer, just leaned up in search of a kiss. I pressed my lips to his, meditating on the tranquility of this faultless space in time, before unhurriedly pulling away. He wanted more, so I pressed my lips to his again, gazing at him wearily when I opened my eyes.

“Can I have some?” he indicated the cigarette, parting his rosy lips so that I would set it between. His skin was flushed and I could see all the hidden freckles that normally weren’t apparent. 

“Sure…” he took a few hits and I recorded him exhaling the smoke, failing at producing smoke rings. He hid his face with wet hands in embarrassment.

“It’s okay…” I pulled them away. “You’ll get it someday. But the thing is, it’s probably best that youh don’t get a hang of it. It’s a shitty habit to risk acquirin’, just to learn a lousy party trick.”

“But you’re so good at it though. Do it for me, please?” I took a hit of the cigarette and switched the camera to selfie mode to record myself generating a stream of faultless smoke rings.

“Mate, it’s soooo sick. I wanna learn so bad.” 

Now he stood up and a sheet of water cascaded off his gorgeous body, loudly splashing back into the tub. He radiated beauty. I switched the camera around to record him, gliding a hand down his torso and absently pulling at his cock. I would never stop marveling at how lucky I was.

“You’re soh perfect…” I killed the cigarette and set my phone aside to grab him a towel. He stepped out and I toweled him down from head to toe, allowing him to brace a hand on my shoulder while I dried each foot.

We slept for most of the day, waking up once to watch porn and listen to music and eat burgers. In the dead of night, he convinced me to get up and get dressed, and led me around the empty downtown streets of Chiba for a while. It was legit cold. He was wearing my hoodie, and I had thrown on a pretty thin jacket that was as good as non-existent. Both of us had opted for beanies.

This place was deserted this time of night, and regardless, none of these people gave a fuck who we were anyway. Along the way to nowhere we bumped elbows and made jokes about the massive adverts grinning down on us in the quietude of our listlessness. It was like daydream, this place. An unmoving paper town. So much like a Japanese studio stage straight out of a 90s film. 

Most of the businesses were closed, but that didn’t stop us from peering into the windows and wishing we could wander inside. Talking mad shit about what we would steal. Everything was quintessentially Japanese, or at least looked similar to the glimpses we idolized out west. The more traditional looking neighborhoods intrigued me the most, but in some areas I couldn’t tell the difference between this place and Tokyo. There was no shortage of the touristy amenities and attractions. All the bells and whistles and souvenirs. Bicycles and bright colors and neon lights galore. Flickering signs. An overabundance of words and linguistic characters I couldn’t begin to fathom, which seemed to be squeezed into every available space on every storefront. The culture shock was real.

Haz said he had fallen in love with this place the first time we came earlier in the year. It had been an eye-opening trip, to say the least, witnessing for the first time how much support we had on the other side of the world despite not having visited. Those girls had overwhelmed us at the airport and gifted us with custom red kimonos and snacks and all sorts of cool shit. Hands down one of the richest experiences of my travels so far. Everything here was so distinct and vivid and moving. Imbued with an infectious and unshakable self-respect for their own traditions, values, and unparalleled arts, it was impossible to leave this here without a deep-seated reverence for everything you’d encountered.

I remembered getting sick during the interviews on that first trip and spending the rest of the day in my hotel room, toying with a robot I’d purchased while the other boys finished the presser. Later I rejoined them and we filmed a few shots for the charity single’s music video. That had been a riot, trying to get the hyperventilating fans to calm down and participate, but they had done amazingly well in the end though.

“I’d be happy to just get lost here and never be found,” Haz uttered beside me. “It’s so tranquil y’know?”

“It is…” I agreed. “I was just thinkin’ it’s unbelievably cool here. The culture is, like, captivatin’ in a way I’ve never experienced before. It’s almost surreal, innit? Soh different from what we’re used to, but in the best possible way. It’s like another world.”

“Honestly, mate. I could see myself living here for years and years. Just making music and hiding. Learning, eating, meditating on life. It’s the sort of place to slow you down and force you to smell the roses, that’s for sure.”

“I could see youh livin’ here too,” I said, gazing around as we slowed to a stop on a narrow market street. I tried to picture it full of human traffic and smells and sounds like during the day. He stepped into the middle of the street and inhaled dramatically, spreading his arms.

“Ah, home.”

Now he led me further into what seemed a hypnotic night. A boundless and unending one. As though we had mistakenly wandered into eternity. I shadowed his every step, afraid to lose him for one second. I peered into the night as the streets grew darker and danker and seemed to have been uninhabited for years. Now the buildings faded and we were stood on the edge of town, facing a darkened shoreline. I could smell rotting fish wafting from someplace down the road, and the frigid, faraway scents of the sea.

“C’mon…” he demanded, hurrying ahead into the beach. I was more than reluctant to follow. Paul would kill us if he knew we had ventured this far without word. Haz just got that way sometimes, incapable of being held down when he knew there was something nearby to be discovered.

I stepped forward then stepped back again in awe. This place was straight up spectral at this hour. As the night wore on, an unnerving silence surrounded us. We were the only two people awake for miles, accompanied by nothing but an occasional bat and these hawkish old owls. Demonic birds with piercing orange eyes that tracked our every move, perched along rooftop ledges like vigilantes guarding a citadel.

“It’s a bit cold, babe, and m’tired.”

“Stop being lazy…” he grinned, coming back to grab my hand, yanking me forward and wrapping his arm around my shoulder. “We’ll only be here a minute. It’s the only chance we have to spend time together. We’ll be heading home soon and you know how that goes.”

He was exactly right. After a few more press events we would be shipped back to the US for a performance or two, and then it was home for the holidays, which always meant an unquestionable separation. Pez had a lot shit planned for us with our families once I got back home, and I knew it’d be a while before I could link up with him again before the new year.

We plodded through the sand along the shore and sat down side by side on a beached rock. I pretended we were shipwrecked and waiting for rescue. That we’d been there for days and were about ready to kill and eat one another. The ocean was huge before us; shifting incessantly as though it were alive and beckoning.  Its inky swells shimmering in the moonlight. 

To my surprise, he pulled out a little bottle of Jack Daniels from the hotel mini bar. “What’s this?” I asked, eyebrows raised.

“Happiness in a bottle. Get it into my veins, please.” I opened it and we drank until it was gone, passing it back and forth like two old men with a weathered flask. 

“Tell me sumthin fucked up about myself,” I ventured, tossing the empty bottle onto the ground. It shattered.


“Damn…youh have sumthin prepared already?”


“Well, I got shit too, y’know…about youh.”

“M’sure you do, mate.”

“Goh, then. Shoot.”

“You like being with Perrie because you think it proves something about yourself.”

“Like what?” My heart sped. I didn’t expect to become offended so easily.

“You know…”

“Noh, I don’t. Like what? Like it proves I can pull birds or sumthin?”

“No, that’s not what I meant.” He glanced over at me briefly. “I think she, uh, represents something you felt was sort of unattainable before. Maybe from past rejection, maybe because of the ethnic differences, I dunno. But, uh, I think you like dragging her around because it makes you feel better about yourself…not necessarily because you love her—”

“Alright, shut the fuck up, Harry.”

“Why’re you upset?”

“Whatever, broh.”

“Tell me something about me if it’ll make you feel better then.”

“I think you’re fickle. And childish when it comes to love. And sometimes fake. Youh don’t know what the fuck youh want. And youh like makin’ me feel like shit just because we don’t want the same things.”

“Yeah, well, uh that’s because you’re content to tie yourself down with someone you literally despise, just to avoid what it means that you like being with me. Fucking me in the dark. Then forgetting about me during the day. I’m supposed to be ok with that?! I’m not supposed to want more for myself? Fuck’s sake, you’re daft, mate. Of course I’m gonna try to pursue other things, just to fill up all the fucking gaps you leave me with. I don’t know why I even bother with you sometimes.”

“Then don’t.”

“You’re a dickhead.”

“Well, you’re a dickhead too, but you’re also lonely and miserable and tryin’ to bring me down with youh—”

“Go fuck yourself, alright—”

“Oh, now you’re mad, yeah?” He got up. “What’s wrong, Haz? You finally realize youh need me but I don’t really need youh? Not really right? We both know that by now. And that fucks with your head?”

“Get the fuck over yourself. At least I don’t need a female to make me feel like more of a man. At least I can look myself in the mirror and be content with what I see any day of the week. You look in the mirror and shudder and run and hide behind someone else. You may not need me but you’re always gonna need someone to fucking deflect from me—”

“I don’t need shit. You’re the insecure one, always desperate for attention—”

“You’re not fooling anyone, Z. After Perrie there will be another and another and another and you’ll get more and more miserable as the years go by regretting everything you left aside just to put on an act with females who only want you for your fucking name. For your bank account. They sure as fuck aren’t sticking around for your shitty personality. I’m the only one dumb enough to do that—”

“Fuck off, youh deluded bastard.” I got up and walked away, headed back to the hotel without him.

“You’re the one who’s miserable!” He shouted at the back of my head as I disappeared among the buildings. 

When I got back to the hotel, he followed me to my room wanting to spend the rest of the night with me. He had no intentions of apologizing, and neither did I, so I shut him out. He sat on the floor at the door and knocked softly every now and then. Sometimes he’d sing to me. Now he kept texting. Finally I relented and opened the door, and he fell over into the room with a laugh because he had been leaning against it. 

(Thanks for reading!❤️)

On to 2017, then back to  2014. Huge years!

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