(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.)
“They say nothing is wasted, either that or everything is.”
Charles Bukowski | Dark Night Poem
(Paraphrased by Harry Styles)
She was almost too wet. At times I couldn’t feel anything, just the continuous, fruitless motion. And she moved so wildly it was hard for us to find a coordinated tempo. Holy fuck, she just needed to take a backseat and let me handle it. I was topping here, not her. Didn’t she get it? Her lustful shrieks had been nonstop since I parted her legs. The concierge would descend at any moment. Good god, it was hot in here. The humidity had a chokehold on the room. Sweat dripped into my eyes. The salt rimming around my lips. The sheets would be drenched by the time we finished. I could feel it beading at my temples too, and along my ropey spine. Falling into the crack of my thrusting ass.
“I’m ready, I’m ready!” she panted, seizing up beneath me. I felt her orgasm around my cock and that sent me to the moon. I came explosively right after her, juddering and doubling over until the sensation abated. Then a guilt-ridden soundlessness filled the room. Like the moments after you realized you’d offed someone.
I withdrew; cock flopping out of her with a wretched slosh. I slid the rubber off, which was oily with goo, and dropped it into the bin beside the bed. Now I simply kneeled there, siting on my legs and allowing the post-nut self-loathing to commence. I deserved to be bodied by it. I needed to feel hideous and minuscule right now as penance for what I’d done. It always played out this way.
“Go again?” she asked, in her confused, accented way.
“Noh.” Please just stop speaking.
This bird was strange. Not nearly as cute as I thought she was when I was wasted last night. This was the first brunette I’d been with in a while. Not many blondes in Columbia, I suppose. She was dark too, and spoke with a thick, exotic accent. Nasty as fuck. She’d gone right back to playing with herself moments after we finished—legs spread, fingers rubbing her clit.
When she caught me starring, she grinned through a veil of long disheveled waves, and I genuinely considered calling an exorcist. It stirred nothing close to desire within of me. In fact, she reeked. I hadn’t noticed the odor before, because I’d been dying to bust since I woke up this morning, but she wasn’t exactly the most hygienic person I’d ever been with. That was probably because we were on round two and hadn’t showered in-between. We were both pretty ripe, I’d expect.
What was that? I almost asked, until I realized she was just moaning my name. Angling for me to join her again. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. That place was a death trap now. Bottomless. No way in hell I’d be caught re-entering it willingly. She needed a hot bath and soul-cleansing before I’d consider holding her hand. Not that I was exactly tempted to hook up again even after she showered, since she was an awful, uncooperative lay.
In the light of day, it was easy to see she was flat-chested and quite hairy. Nothing wrong with that, per say, and she’d probably say the same about me, but she wasn’t exactly my type either. Curvy girls were it for me. But unfortunately, this had been the only safe option available last night, since she was a relative of a member of the local PR team assigned to us when we arrived at Bogota. They’d brought her along to meet us because she was a huge fan of the band and me in particular. Once I got the confirmation that she was well over eighteen, I’d gotten her number and urged her back to my room for a nightcap. Told her to use the name of our stylist’s assistant to get through hotel security, and it worked like a charm. Always did.
Suddenly something dreadful washed over me. The airlessness of the room was intolerable, and with each breath all I inhaled were the sweaty sheets and her relentless BO. On the brink of heatstroke, I shot to my feet, staggered down off the bed and ran to the toilet. There I hurled my lungs out, regretting every shot of vodka I’d shared with the boys the night before. Fuck, it was way too early for this shit. Morning sex was overrated.
This was by far the craziest atmosphere we had ever encountered, in terms of fans. Thousands of them flooded the streets of downtown Bogota the night we arrived via police escort to the B.O.G. hotel, and from then on they were stood outside screaming morning noon and night whether we poked our heads out of the windows or not. Of course, we were encouraged not to do so, since even the briefest glimpse of us or our team encouraged crowd-surging and catfights between those attempting to get to the front of the line. For that reason, we weren’t allowed to leave once we were locked inside. Not even for a moment. The decision was uncompromising, and Paul would hear of no exceptions whatsoever. Lately there was nowhere we could go without the madness following. While in a lot of ways it was quite flattering, this Beatles-esque global adulation, I couldn’t exactly deny that over time it had transformed us into literal prisoners.
To kill time after rehearsals, I spent the afternoon in Louis’ suite the day before the show, smoking a jay and reminiscing on how far we’d come. We lay back across his mattress and called off some of our favorite gigs. From grubby little show rooms to sold-out stadiums. We thought back to the time we played at the Garage in Glasgow, and how we eventually worked our way up to being the opening act for Big Time Rush. Comical how some things turned out. Now we were among the most in demand musicians on the planet, and I couldn’t see our flame tapering out anytime soon.
“You’d think, right, that we’d be having the time of our lives 24/7,” Lou reasoned, scratching his limp, misshapen quiff. The humidity had gotten to it. “That’s what most people think of us, innit? But, Zayn mate…it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“Forh sure, I was just thinkin, like, it’s actually quite oppressive. We’re being smuggled from one place to another. Smothered to death, soh to speak, thanks to the fans. I mean the girls obviously mean well, and they just want a glimpse at us, is all. But…like…they don’t understand how miserable it is for us to be stuck in a hotel forh days on end.”
“I guess we just have to get used to it, lad.”
“It’s worse here, it seems.”
“What, like, in South America? Definitely, bro! The fans have been nuts—”
“Next level, shit—”
“There’s barely any crowd control some places.”
“It’s flatterin’ and all…but also quite stressful, like?” I passed him the jay and got up for a bit, wandering around his sitting room. Room service would be arriving soon and I planned to inhale my steak and potatoes like a fat bastard. Seems I couldn’t eat enough down here. Must’ve been the climate.
“Eh, but it’s quite funny though, innit?” Lou laughed to himself. “All the noise has been getting to little old Niall. He’s just an angry old Irishman, sitting in a pub somewhere, shaking his fist. You should read his tweets. They get progressively more angry over the course of the day.” He snickered, staring beady eyed at the ceiling.
“I heard, broh. He was pissed earlier. When we were at the stadium, it’s all he would complain about between songs.”
“There’s really nothing we can do about it. It’s a public street. We can’t make them all go home.”
“Nope…just gotta ride it out. Noh sense complain’ and cryin’ about it 24/7.”
“Did you sleep much last night? He said it kept him up.”
“Uh…” I rubbed a hand down my mouth, trying to find the right words. “…I was a bit busy last night, shall we say.”
“You mean after the drinks…?”
“Um…yeah. Guess soh.”
“And by busy you mean…?”
“Yeah….busy–busy. The gud kind of busy…usually—”
“Zayn mate, who even was she?? We barely had any time to meet anyone!”
“I know, I know…it was that one girl they brought over to meet us earlier—”
“Bro, what the fuck! You don’t waste anytime, do you??” he sat up, gaping over at me.
“Can’t afford to. I’m used to a certain, let’s say: standard of livin‘…and when I have trouble gettin’ what I need, my body goes into literal withdrawal—”
“Bullshit, mate, get the fuck outta here. There’s no such thing. No way. You’re just a slut, that’s what you are. A dirty lil’ whore.” At that I laughed, plopping down beside him on the edge of the bed and snatching the jay from his fingers. It was almost finished, since he’d been hogging it. I hit it a couple times, then leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees.
“It made me feel gross anyweh. She wasn’t exactlyh my cup of tea—”
“I love that you decided that after you’d already drank it.”
“That’s how it is sumtimes—”
“Oh for sure. Sometimes you just don’t know until you know. And even once you know…”
“…Sumtimes youh still have to goh for it again, when it’s just sittin’ right in front of youh for the takin’—”
“Exactly,” he chuckled. “So how was it exactly?”
“Not gud. Regretful, that. But it did the job.”
“Wow, you’re really slumming it, aren’t you? Wait till I call Perrie…”
“I was desperate, Tommo! But I think I’d be better off handlin’ meself for the time being.”
“Yeah, at least until there’s better pickings.”
“Listen, lad, women come and they go. But the right hand…” he held his own high, palm wide open. “…or the left if you prefer it…is forever. Theoretically, speaking. That is…provided you don’t lose it in a horrible accident or something—”
“I think I get it, mate,” I laughed.”
“Self-love is the most vital…”
“Thank youh, Sensei,” I laughed and shook my head.
Backstage the next day, we did our normal warmups, but the electricity radiating from the crowd was palpable. My knees jittered. Heart was in my throat. I watched Haz the entire time, since he was my comfort person, but not even he could soothe my nerves or prepare me for the sight that awaited. A massive stadium filled with seas and seas of screaming people. It felt like I was in another world. A world where we were gods come home to a forgotten people and they were going mad for the opportunity to worship us. That sort of energy scared the living shit out of me, because when I looked in the mirror at the end of the day, I felt nothing but underserving.
On my way to the stage, I noticed Haz speaking with a crew member, and for some reason it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand in unison. As a sound guy slipped past me, I grabbed him back and asked him who the bloke was that Haz was speaking to down the hall. He told me it was a guy called Matt. He had joined the team late last year, and for that reason I had yet to become acquainted with him, but still, the name rang an engaging bell in the back of my head.
I headed down that way, and instead of stopping or saying excuse me, I barged between them, pretending to adjust my ear pieces. That broke up their little huddle, elbowed Haz out of the way at the same time.
“Zayn?! What the fuck?!” he shouted after me, words barely penetrating the roar of the crowd.
“Oh, shit…my bad, broh. Didn’t even see youh there. It’s soh dark back here, yeah?”
“How about you watch where you’re going?!” Matt snapped. I looked over at that him and he was just some lanky, dirty blonde with a weak ass excuse for a beard. Clearly he had lost his fucking mind talking to me like that, but I’d gladly help him find it. I got in his face in no time.
“The fuck youh say to me?! And who the fuck are youh?! Huh?! Youh know who am I?! Youh work for me, bitch—” Haz instantly stepped between us, shouting:
“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, everybody just fucking chill, alright?!“
“It’s him, not me!” Matt shouted.
“Chill, mate. Not cool. Don’t escalate it,” Haz scolded him.
“Why the fuck are you blaming me? You saw what happened, Harry! It’s his fault!”
By then a few other backstage hands had separated us. Matt had backed off immediately when I stepped to him, but I still wasn’t satisfied he had learned his lesson, since he kept chirping beneath his breath to his teammates like I couldn’t hear. I’d be running into him again alone in the coming days, and I’d make sure of that.
As I stood before my set of metal stairs, absorbing the energy of the crowd, adrenaline still surging from my run-in with the proverbial Matt, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty that’d I’d embarrassed Haz. I didn’t like speaking to his friends like that and knew he’d be really hurt by it. In fact, it hurt me to know I’d hurt him, so nobody actually won here. I wasn’t normally that confrontational, but something about seeing them together set me off more than I realized it would. Had I known that’d be my reaction, I would’ve kept far away. So technically this was Haz’s fault, in a way. He knew better than to be giggling with him in front of me based on what he’d told me last year. He had intended to use him as a means to forget about me, and I hadn’t forgotten that shit for a second. Besides, I was still reeling from the Kendall thing, leaving me so on edge I was ready to do anything on sight—
What the fuck was I even saying? He wasn’t mine anymore. He was entirely free to speak to whoever he wanted whenever he wanted. He had set boundaries between us and reinforced them to a fault despite how many times I’d crossed them. I needed to stop. I needed to forget him. But fuck if it wasn’t hard seeing him every day again. No Pez to keep me distracted. Only Lou and Payno and a freaky Columbian chick—
I nearly lunged face first onto the steps, but caught myself with both hands. I spun around expecting to find that Matt had crept behind me, but instead it was Haz. He looked unreadable, for the most part. Not angry, not playful, just deadpan. He was getting me back for pushing him earlier, and it was so petty I almost laughed. I could sense he wanted to say more. I hate that I’d ruined our banter again. We’d been cordial enough earlier in the day at the press conference, and I’d even gotten a genuine smile or two out of him, but now all hope was lost.
“Youh lost?” I asked, when he kept staring me down. My words seemed to snap him out of whatever he was going through, because then he just walked away, heading to his own set of steps. The intro music came to a crescendo and it was our signal to emerge. Before I headed up, I glanced over at him one last time, only to find he was looking at me too.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Before the first show in Buenos Aires, we were blessed with a day off. I spent the bulk of it with Payno, as he’d broken up with Sophia and was an emotional wreck. We spent a lot of it on his balcony chatting for hours about any and everything to take his mind off her, but ultimately the conversation always devolved back to the subject of their breakup, and I could totally sympathize. For weeks after Haz dumped me last year, my mind had been like a broken record replaying his speech over and over on a loop. Each time something new became a little clearer. Like the cold-hearted expression in his eyes, or the worn textures of his old Chelsea boots, or my own heartbeat pulsing between my ears. The cold night air. The grit of my eyes after the tears. The endlessness of the stars as I’d gazed up at the sky at a lost for what to feel.
We sat side by side on the patio lounges, which I had to wipe down after a light drizzle had swept through. It was well after midnight and Payno was wasted. He wouldn’t be sleeping any time soon. I hit the cigarette before offering it to him, but he declined, opting to serenade me with a depressing rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence.”
“Hello darkness my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again…because a vision softlyyy creeping—“
“Alright, mate, give it a rest,” I said, standing up and stepping away, but couldn’t be too hard on him, as my shower song for the past five months had been Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” His drug of choice was decidedly less dismal than mine.
“She just…she just doesn’t know, doesn’t she, mate?!” he laughed anxiously to himself, running his fingers through his deflated quiff. Who was he kidding? He wasn’t nearly as lucid as he was trying to appear to be. “I was the best thing she had going for her….” he mumbled, sipping his beer.
His white tank top was a mess, catching all the wild drips that spilled from his mouth whenever he snatched the bottle away mid-swig to blurt out another thought. Things were beginning to feel like déjà vu. I remembered distinctively having the exact same conversation on the tail end of last year in Perth, Australia about Danielle. At that time he was just linking up with Sophia and thought she was the baddest, funniest, most intelligent girl in the world. He bragged about her nonstop, as if neither I or the boys had ever had a girl like her before. Fast forward a few months and he was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from.
“Youh gonna be alright, broh? You’ve been hittin’ it pretty hard these past few weeks. Maybe it’s time to give the old liver a break?”
“Easy for you to say. Pez isn’t a complete psycho…”
“Uh, that’s debatable.” I grinned to myself, gazing out at the flashing downtown lights and looming skyscrapers. The cigarette was just about done, so I butted it on the steel railing, which was wet with rain from earlier, before letting it drop out of my fingers. It fell and vanished in seconds, and I wondered if it might end up knocking someone on the head. All of a sudden, he was poorly attempting to sing Bruno Mars “Locked Out Of Heaven.” I glanced back at him and discovered he had called her up and was now singing it into the voicemail recording.
“Payno, noh!” I shot over to him, reaching for the phone. “Broh, youh gotta chill. Give me the fuckin’ phone!”
“Open up your gates ’cause I can’t wait to seeeee the lighttt. And right there is where I wanna stayyyeyayeyayeyayeyay— bloody hell, Zayn. What are the bloody next lyrics?!” Before I knew it, I started snapping and singing the chorus and couldn’t control myself.
“‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise—” He joined in and we harmonized into the speaker, “Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise, and it showwwooohhhhwoahhwoahswoahsss! Yeahhhh, yeahhhh, yeahhhh…cause you make me feeeel like—“
“Oh shit, what happened?!” I asked when he threw the phone down.
“The bloody recording ran out.”
“Fuck…we shouldn’t have done that, broh! Quick, call her back so we can apologize! That’s gonna be a head-fuck when she hears it.”
“Serves her right. All she’s done since the beginning is fuck my head.”
“Interestin’ way of puttin’ it,” I shrugged.
“Let’s be honest here, mate, I miss her already. Dreadfully. But big daddy Payno has to teach her a lesson about walking out on me. She needs to suffer!”
“Please don’t call yourself ‘big daddy Payno’.”
“Girls with daddy issues seem to give the best head—”
“Woahhh, alright, bruv, you’re done. I’m cuttin’ youh off—” I reached across the chair for his beer, but he cradled it desperately, before turning aside and chugging it.
“Last one, then I’m cutting youh off, broh.”
“Beer’s my only friend,” he snickered.
“And what am I, chopped liver?”
“Just bring her back to me, Zayn. Then maybe I’ll think about considering you a friend. Till then, you can be my butler. Get me another beer now,” he snapped his fingers and I knocked his hat off his head, plopping back down on the patio chair beside his.
“Look, Payno, you’ve gotta pull yourself together, maan. Trust me, she’ll figure out what she’s missin’ sooner or later, broh. I promise. What’s Jarvis always tellin’ us? Youh just have to give it time. Rebuild yourself. Relationships take a lot out of us, yeah? Our emotions need time to heal and recover, just like our muscles.”
“Fanks…thought of it meself,” I grinned smugly.
“You know what, you’re alright in my book, Zayn…” My smile got even wider and cockier at that. Man, I was the shit. Anybody’d be lucky to have me around. “…no matter what they say about you.” At that, my conceit evaporated.
“But wait, broh, what do they even say about me?”
(Thanks for reading! ❤️)