Neon Red – Chapter 63

(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.)


Change is inevitable

Why hold on to what you have to let go of?

Like, did I really break your heart?

Was it all my fault?

Jhené Aiko | Spotless Mind

March 2015

Hong Kong, China

Get up and get out. Now. Move now. Go! My eyes sprang open and I tried to see through the shadows to remember where I was. Still in my hotel room in Hong Kong, it seemed, despite having secured an early flight to take me out of there that morning. Wait, was it night? Oh yeah…I’d missed my flight because of him. Plus some fuck-face named Han Xu. And if I weren’t careful, I’d missed the rescheduled one as well. Shit. My body struggled to move. I must’ve weighed a metric ton. Hold on…was this a nightmare? Was I asleep or awake? Ugh, I didn’t have time for this shit. Everything was going wrong. Everything.

As expected, things had become rather monotonous on the road again. All throughout the Australia leg it was the same routine. Wake up, jerk off, eat, rehearse, warm up with “Boom Boom Pow,” perform, then meet Haz after every show. Japan: Wake up, jerk off, eat, rehearse, warm-up, perform, meet Haz. Same with Singapore. Same with Thailand. Lather, rinse, repeat. But in China, it had all come to a screeching halt. I’d been on edge the entire time, walking the most ragged and splintering tightrope between here and where I longed to be, and he had shoved me over once and for all.

I detached my body from the sticky one lying beside me and climbed off the bed. Freedom, thank fuck. He was out cold. Luckily my bag was already packed and I didn’t have to do much to make a clean escape. Shoving my boots on, I gave the room a once over to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. My hands shook as I jotted down a quick note for him on the hotel stationary. Fuck, hurry uphurry up! Go, go, go! The pen went out because I was trying to write against a wall. I sat the pad down onto the nightstand to finish it. Trembling uncontrollably for fear that he would wake up before I was gone, I threw the pen down harder than I intended to.

Love you. Be back in a week. -Z

I placed it onto the pillow where I had lain, and despite warning myself not to, I couldn’t help but glance at his face. That was the absolute last thing I should’ve done, because it only made the getaway more difficult. Still, there was no way I could go without one last meaningful look. He was my baby. I had to look at least one more time. Downloading data for the memories that would sustain me in the months and years to come without him. Without him. I didn’t like the sound of that. Without him, without him, without him.

An angel lay before me. He was so stunning, despite the dried tears on his cheeks and the puffy eyes. He rested so serenely, deceived by the wine into feeling at ease. Asleep on my pillow instead of his own, a sometimes annoying habit of his. Can I stay, can I stay? Was all I ever remembered him asking, and it always came at the cost of sharing one pillow because he refused to use his own. God I would miss that.

Long, wavy hair tumbled over his face. There was no snoring for a change. He was curled on his side and had been facing me, clinging to me like a spider-monkey in his sleep. How could I leave this person? I can’t. My body weakened as the pit in my stomach grew. I dropped to my knees beside the bed and glared at the wrinkled sheets. The mere thought of him waking to an empty room brought tears to my eyes. This wasn’t good. Think of bad thingsThink of bad thingsFuck him. He was the worst. The most annoying person I knew. He gave me so much stress. Too many mind games. Too many expectations and childish notions of romance. Always sabotaging what I had with Pez. I didn’t have time for him anymore. On to bigger and better things in my own sphere, out of the one where he was the be-all end-all for everyone in our circle, including me. All everyone ever cared about was himHarry Styles this, Harry Styles that. What about me? And what about Pez? She was still pissed at that fucking photo of me in Thailand with the blonde. I needed to go home and make that right if that was the last thing I ever did. Why was I wasting my time here with him? She was my fiancé. My beautiful, perfect fiancé, waiting on me to make her an honest woman. To give her children. To take care of me for life. He was just a glorified distraction; nothing more. Never had been, never would be.

I shut my eyes, growing nauseated by the lies I was feeding myself

I shut my eyes, growing nauseated by the lies I was feeding myself. Fuckmy life was shit. How had I let it get this bad? A big steaming, confusing pile of dog shit. With a coldness seeping through my limbs, I stood and grabbed my bag and smokes. With my free hand, I pressed a kiss to my fingertips before touching it gently to his socked foot. Then I was out. Literally running down the hall to the elevator and calling Preston on the way, instructing him to grab Jawaad and meet me downstairs. Fuck it felt good to run. Screw the elevator!

I burst through the staircase door and flew down several flights to the ground floor. But I didn’t stop there, because I wasn’t answering any questions or even uttering the word goodbye to a single passing soul. Fuck them all. This place was a living hell. It felt like shooters were after me. I got outside into the night and only slowed down when I was deep in the parking lot away from them all. Away from every familiar thing. There, I sat on a wheel stop behind a huge SUV and lit a crumbled cigarette. The flame from my lighter was the only illumination for yards. The cylinder slumped over and eventually broke off, and I was left with only the unlit filter. I’d unknowingly crushed the pack during my mad dash to nowhere.

On the plane, Haz was there. He’d followed me. What?! How did he make it here before us?? Was he quitting too?! I panicked and hurried back to confront him. His seat a few rows behind mine. I spun him around, only to find that it wasn’t him at all. It was some bearded bloke who bore a vague resemblance to him from behind because of the long hair. He looked at me weirdly until I apologized for grabbing his shoulder and staggered away. Jay told me I was tripping and encouraged me to get some sleep. He let me take his window seat, but I kept the shade closed. The night was eerie. I needed to insulate myself as much as possible from the outside world if I planned to survive what was coming, and didn’t want to see anymore of Hong Kong if I could help it. The sight of the tarmac and the cars and a few lingering members of our team who’d followed to make sure I got on the flight, all of which made me want to run back to him.

Turning the wrinkled business card around in my fingers like I’d been doing from the moment I stole it off Haz’s nightstand, I stopped to stare at the name again. Han Xu. Who the fuck are you? I’d thought of calling him so many times and grilling him about what had happened with Haz, but knew it would only expose our relationship and freak him out. Fuck that dude. The carryon door slammed shut and startled me. After loading our bags for the long flight ahead, Jay plopped down beside me with a sigh and gave me a once over.

"You look hit, bro

“You look hit, bro.”

“I know…”

“You get any rest?”

“Not really.”

“What’s going on?”

My little cousin wasn’t so little anymore. He was tall as shit now, and getting burly. Super handsome. He was intelligent too and discerning as hell. Loyal to a fault. For as far back as I could remember, he had always been my best friend. Sometimes growing up I’d gotten worried that all my friends were default comrades because they were family, but by high school I realized I had the capability of making new friends with strangers, I just didn’t want to. I was more concerned with girls. Here it was 2015 and I was 22 years old, but still, nothing had changed.

It had been nice to reconnect with him over the past year, since the back-to-back touring and crazy fame and inconceivable wealth had put a bit of a rift in our relationship. We’d found it difficult to relate to one another for a while. Thankfully we’d reconnected heavily at the beginning of 2014 and vowed never to drift apart again. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been needing him all along. Now he’d been my rock of late, and was actually the one who’d convinced me to leave tour, that is, before Haz showed up and barricaded me in the room this morning. I could sense there were a few things Jay wanted to ask me, like why I was leaving so abruptly, and why Haz and I had been fighting in Thailand before I left, but he seemed too nervous to voice them outright.

“Goh ahead,” I invited the conversation, which was a rare move for me, knowing I’d probably come to regret it.

“What, bro?”

“Goh ahead. Ask me whatever youh want. I know you’re dyin’ to. I know you’re thinkin it…”

“Yeah well…” he grinned, his big, expressive blue eyes meeting mine; only fleetingly though. It wasn’t our style to get too sentimental. We just sort of understood each other without speaking. “First of all, how y’feeling?”

“Better. Now that we’re here. Sort of relieved in a way.”

“Okay…then tell me why you needed to leave.”

‘Stress, mate. That’s the best way to describe it.”

“Will you ever go back?”

I found it was difficult to voice the answer despite me knowing it full-well. I shrugged instead, hoping he’d move on. Maybe I could get the words out later. I wasn’t going back of course. Had zero intentions to, despite telling a few people that I’d return in a few shows, Haz included.

“What’s all this about, then? With you and Harry? He seemed upset before.”

“When isn’t he upset?” I laughed.

“Yeah, he does frown a lot…”

“Yeah,” I envisioned that perpetual scowl of his and smiled fondly. “Noh, but for real…I guess he and I have a lot of, like…baggage to sift through, yeah? If that makes sense.”

“What sort of baggage?”

“Trust me, bruv…youh don’t wanna know.”

“But I do. I swear I do.”

I eyed him, wondering if now was the right time to open up about what I’d been dealing with for so long. If I did, he’d be the first person I really told anything to. Shahid had almost been that person last year, but despite reading the texts with his own two eyes, his inherent reaction had been to associate them with a female. Not once had it cross his mind that I might’ve been speaking to a male. It was such a weird predicament, if I’m honest, and I never relished the thought of describing it to anyone, even hypothetically. Having to explain the things I was experiencing with another guy seemed like a nightmare scenario.

None of this was right. What planet was I on? I shouldn’t have been hung up over a guy this way. First of all because I was engaged, but secondly because I shouldn’t be into guys in the first place. Jay would be the first person to remind me of that. He was super religious and had kept up with his prayers even while visiting me on tour. Several times a day like clockwork. Doing the ritual washing beforehand and all. He’d invited me to pray with him on occasion, but I declined, yet was beginning to think I could use a bit of prayer in my life. It might help center me.

“Talk to me, G.” he smiled, nudging me with his elbow. I chuckled, gazing ahead into the black TV screen. There weren’t many people on this late-night flight, so there was no real danger of being overheard. Taking a deep breath, I steadied myself and let it rip.

“Soh…he and I…Haz and I…have been close at times. Like…super close.”

“Really?” he tried not to sound freaked out, but I could tell by the way his voice cracked he caught my drift and was put off by it. “Like how close…?”

“As close as can be, yeah?”




Shsssh, Jay! Shut the fuck up!”

“Oh yeah, sorry, sorry! But, brooooo?!?!”

“Yeah…” I glanced to him briefly, then averted my eyes. “Broh, look, are youh with me or not? I thought you’d be somewhat chill about it? Is this okay for me to goh on? Youh always said I could talk to youh about anythin’…guess that’s not really true, then…”

It is, it is! And I meant it, Z, for real. It’s just that…I never would’ve expected you to say this. Like…what the fuck? Are you shitting me right now?”

“Broh, forget it, alright? I should’ve never brought it up—”

Wait, wait, wait,” he grabbed my arm, his fingers ice-cold. I could tell he was scared. “It’s ok, Z…I’m sorry. I’m here. I’m listening, bruv. This is just some real shit, ok? Hard to process.”

“Trust me, I know that more than anybody. Are youh weirded out or sumthin?

“I’m gonna be honest, bro…a little. I just never saw you that way—”

“Me either!” I hissed, keeping my eyes ahead, unable to meet his anymore.

“Not in a million years…” he was equally as perturbed and unwilling to make eye contact as I was.

“It’s not contagious, Jay, chill the fuck out.”

Alright, alright. Sorry if I offended you. So, um…does that mean…”


“That you, uh…y’know…like blokes?”

“Noh…not really. It’s just him, I think. M’tellin’ youh, maan…I don’t know what the fuck it is…I just…it was just him alright?”

“Got it.”

“Soh basically…he and I sort of…”

“Fell in love?” he laughed.

“Fuck youh.”

Sorry, sorry…go ahead.”

“But…I guess…you’re sort of right, if I’m honest,” I shrugged, sitting back in the seat and shutting my eyes.

“Z?? Do you even hear yourself right now?!”

I know…” I despaired, realizing how pathetic I must’ve sounded. I opened my eyes and stared blearily at the back of the seat in front of me. Since the band, I’d become a sort of hero to my younger cousins, and they all looked up to me and were impressed by my success and my girlfriend and my lifestyle. Yet here I was just destroying everything he’d ever known of me. I must’ve looked so weak to him now.

“Jay, listen…this is some real shit, innit? Soh I can’t sit here if I feel like you’re gonna be silently judgin’ me…or that you’re suddenly disgusted by me or sumthin—”

“I’m not, I swear! Never! You’re like my brother, Z. I would never treat you like that. You can tell me anything, ok? It’s just that…I’m in shock. But keep going, please.”

“Okay…” I nodded, trying to calm my pounding heart.

“How long have you guys…uh?”

Hooked up? Too long, I guess. Since like…2011.”

“No way. Almost the whole time?”


“Damn…was it that good, huh?”

“It’s not like that…I’m tellin’ youh. It’s just him. There’s sumthin’ about him that made us keep goin’. Whenever I’m away from him for too long…like right fuckin’ now…I sort of fall apart.” I rubbed my forehead with a few shuddering fingertips. “It’s not just about the…the sex, y’know? It’s way more than that.”

“So then it’s actually love? Is that even possible??”

“I don’t know what the fuck to call it really. Sumtimes I think it could be love…but sumtimes it feels so toxic and damagin’ that it can’t be love, right? That’s not what love is. That’s now how it looks…not how it feels. Sumtimes this thing between me and him just feels like a bloody curse, if I’m being straight with youh.”

“That’s deep…”

“Tell me about it. I wish it wasn’t. I just wish it was easier. That way we could make sense of it, and it wouldn’t have to drive me insane most days. Drivin’ me towards and away from him. Back and forth for years. Over and over again.”

“What happened when you told him you were leaving? How’d he take it?”

“Not gud. Jay, mate…he lost it. Blocked the door. Wouldn’t let me out—”

“Is that why we missed the first flight?!”


Noooo way, bro. No fucking way. You’ve got him daft, bruv. Mental, Z! I would’ve never thought that’s what had happened.”

“He’s not normally like that, though. He was just really upset when I told him I was leavin’. I can’t blame him. I probably would’ve reacted the same way. It’s just been us for soh long. Me and him secluded together in this thing. And even though I didn’t say it, I think he knows deep down I’m not really comin’ back. And that was a bit difficult for him to swallow, y’know? He was devastated. And I’m all he’s ever known. We rely on each other soh much in a way other people can’t quite understand, soh it basicalsly felt like I was abandonin’ him.” I ran a hand through my shaggy hair. “He won’t stay there without me. I was the only reason he stuck around this long and vice versa. Wouldn’t be surprised if we heard about him dippin soon. I just feel bad forh leavinin him first though. It’s the part that hurts the most…knowin’ how much it’ll hurt him when he wakes up. And then that he has to wake up every day after that and still perform…knowin’ I won’t be there anymore…”

“Shit…so you’re really not goin’ back, huh?” All I could do was look over at him, tears welling in my eyes. When I blinked, they fell, and I looked away. “What’re you gonna do next?”

“I dunno…I’ll figure that out along the way, yeah? Sink or swim. Take some time to just focus on me. What I think, what I want. Make my own way. Make my own music for a change.”

“That’s gonna be so dope, though. You’ve been waiting forever to do that. Don’t let anything stop you either, bro. You better not.”

“I won’t. That’s the only thing I’m lookin’ forward to really. Just finally being able to have my own say and not made to feel guilty about it. Not feel ignored anymore. Taken forh granted, or dismissed. I’m gonna make my voice matter, and I’m gonna make them regret losin’ me.”

“Fuck yeah.”

“Still…I miss him already…”


“Yeah. That’s how it always is. I think I want him gone soh badly, but after we goh our separate ways, I’ve got about two minutes before I want him back again.”

At that, he chuckled a little, then asked, “Hey, bro…but what about Pez? You guys alright? You still getting married and all that?”

“That’s part of the problem. I just don’t know what I want anymore. Nothin seems to make sense.”

“You love her?”

“Think soh…”

“So you love her and not him?”

“When youh put it like that…I guess maybe it’s easier to think that I love her than it is to think that I love him. He scares me, y’know. Because he just fucks with everythin’ I ever thought I knew of myself…and what I liked…and what I was capable of. He came through and fucked all that…”

“And fucked you…”

“Mate, fuck off. Don’t talk about him like that…”

My bad, my bad. I’m just trying to lighten things up, bro. I don’t like to see you upset.”

“Appreciate that…”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry before. Like ever…I didn’t think it was possible.”

“Dad didn’t like to see it. He told me to talk through my shit, y’know…but he didn’t like to see me cry. I could tell it disgusted him. And he never cried himself, anyweh…soh I was just always tryin’ my best to be like him.”

“I get that.”

“Haz taught me to just feel things y’know? To get out of my head sumtimes and just let myself feel free with him. Pez doesn’t make me feel that way. At least not anymore. She’s more of a nag, if I’m honest. Tries to keep me on my toes. Wants me to be this way or that. With him it was just all soh noncommittal. We did what we did, we enjoyed each other, and then we each went off and did our own things. Never made too many demands on each other’s time.”

“So what now? You two just done?”

“Who? Him or Pez?”

“Both I guess.”

“With him? Yeah…I think I’m done. It won’t work anymore. It’s not like we can ever be together in the public. And with us being separated, I think it’s a wrap. It’ll just deteriorate naturally on its own. But with Pez…I think I’m gonna give it a goh? Try to win her back after all that shit that happened in Thailand. Maybe even get married one day. Funny thing is, I couldn’t ever see myself doin’ it before…like actually marrying her. Not while he was around. But now…she and I have come this far. We might as well try to make it work. She’s pretty chill…”

“Pretty chill? Is that all it takes, then? But didn’t you just say she doesn’t make you feel free or happy?”

“Yeah, but…I don’t think that’s what marriage is about.”

“Maybe not.”

“I dunno…”

“Z…I feel like I have to just say…just a little reminder…”

“Spit it out. Today, broh…”

“You know that what you were doing with him was…”

“I know…haram. Trust me, I know.”

“But…I guess I also understand that it can be supper difficult to control the way you feel. I don’t think any of us can control the way we feel…but some impulses just shouldn’t be acted upon. Like ever, bro. And I honestly think…that maybe if you do try to make things work with Pez like you said you would…and do try to get married before you even sleep with her again…you might actually start to feel better. You maybe be able to reconnect with your faith and Allah—”

“Jay, c’mon broh. Youh think I don’t know all this?”

“I just don’t like to see you so lost bro. I want you to know I’m here for you no matter what…but I’m always gonna try to help keep you grounded according to Islam, and not all this secular shit. That world has changed you—”

“I know…I know.” I gave him a weak little smile, then thought of bowing my way out of the conversation as the plane took off. “If youh don’t mind broh…I’m actually gonna try to get a little rest. My head’s killin’ me.”

“For sure. Let me know if you need anything.”



February 2015

Brisbane, Australia

We’d left the drapes open all night, so in the morning the room was filled with blinding light. He lay in the center of the bed and I straddled him, waiting for him to peek from beneath the sheet again. He kept pretending to be asleep so I couldn’t kiss him. Turning his head away from me and fake snoring. When one glittering green pupil peeked over the sheet, I laughed and dove after him, accidentally knocking our heads together in the process. I lay atop him now and absorbed his giggles, blowing raspberries into his neck. Listening as he breathed into the Egyptian cotton. The sunlight toasty on my bare back.

I was unsure of what had gotten into us. After not seeing each other for all of January, it only took us two shows into the tour to fall back into our old arrangement. The Sydney shows had been a bit strange, but it was something about the air in Brisbane that had drawn us back together. After the show, he’d come to my room complaining of a pulled muscle in his thigh, which I’d gladly offered to massage for him, and of course that massage led to oily skin, and that oily skin let to me peeling his underwear off and sliding into him. I had also been introduced to the large tiger tattoo on his left thigh, and when I asked him the inspiration behind it, he could only stare at the tiger I’d gotten on my left arm a couple of years ago. That was answer enough.

“Y’hungry?” he asked, when I finally rolled off him and stared at the ceiling.

“A bit. Just mostly tired. Got a tiny migraine, too.”

“At least we’re off for a few days,” he stood. “We can relax together.”

“Thank God.”

“C’mon,” he pulled me by the wrist towards the edge of the bed. “Let’s shower.”

Inside, I stood in front of him and he massaged the back of my neck and shoulders. I tilted my head about, allowing the warm stream to spill down by face, then over his hands. Next he washed my hair, and I shut my eyes, inhaling the steam in the stall, allowing his kneading fingertips to work the tension away. When I rinsed the suds away, he pulled me back into him, stoking my belly and kissing my ear. It felt so good to be nude with him. Nothing but skin on my skin. Our breath clouding the glass. The air thick with lust. The humid hiddenness. Water coursing down our bodies, baptizing us. Him turning me around. Lifting me up to him by the ass. Our mouths unable to part. We kissed deeply and long; grossly consumed. It felt like summer in that shower.


James Bay’s “Let It Go” was up next on my playlist and I had a flat-out meltdown, crying into my crumpled hoodie against the plane wall. All I could think was that everything was falling apart. Everything. My career, my relationships, my reputation. Jay set a comforting hand to my knee, squeezing it a little, but mostly just let me sit to myself and get it all out. My mind wouldn’t leave the tour. It kept replaying all my latest memories with Haz like a broken record. Foggy little vignettes. Achingly real snapshots of us. I wanted to snatch the vinyl off the record player, snap it in half over my knee and bury it six feet under. Yet all I saw was his face and all I heard were soundbites from the weeks leading up to my final decision.


February 2015

Melbourne, Australia

“Did you buy every candle in the city?” I asked, lying across the bed, joint lit, one hand down my briefs and gripping my semi.

“I was just trying to set the mood. Why don’t you try being grateful?”

We were holding out, trying to digest the late night steak dinner he’d surprised me with in his room after the Valentine’s Day show. I had been ready to call it quits when he came knocking with a gift and a bottle of champagne. A rose gold Cartier LOVE bracelet, of which he had purchased two. He gave me one and kept the other for himself. Out of nowhere he dipped his head beneath my t-shirt and inhaled greedily. Kissing down my belly and my ribs as I laughed hysterically, smoke spouting from my mouth throughout. When he came up to kiss me, I set the joint in the ashtray and let it burn, then moaned softly into his seeking mouth.

The next morning I awakened and he was facing away from me. I let my tongue snake lazily along his bare shoulder, tasting the salt of his flesh, pressing my morning wood into his ass. Later when I broke the news to him that I was thinking about leaving for good, and that I wouldn’t finish the tour, he didn’t take it too well. In fact, he shut me out once again. I wouldn’t speak to him for weeks after that.


Jhené Aiko’s “Spotless Mind” reinvigorated me a bit. I cleaned my face and finally opened the shade on the plane to see we were smooth sailing thousands of miles above the world I hoped to escape. We were out. We did it.


February 2015

Saitama, Japan

Dinner with the boys was on the agenda for tonight. I headed down around 8pm after getting cleaned up, having slept until 4pm that day. The first person I ran into was Nialler. He beamed at me in the waiting area of the hotel restaurant, a Japanese steakhouse, before slinging an arm over my shoulders.

“Imagine that, mate, you’re early for once,” he laughed.

“I’m always early.” 

We staggered together to the designated table, two of which had been combined to accommodate our party, and he was exactly right. We were the first to arrive. I secured a seat at his side, knowing he typically remained pretty neutral on all accounts and was a nice lad to share a laugh with. I dreaded seeing Haz, though, as I’d been successful in avoiding him since Valentine’s Day, except for onstage. Sometimes the choreography caused us to cross paths and during those times he would either scowl or completely ignore me. Sometimes he even got petty, cutting me off to speak with the other boys, or bumping me aside on purpose only to pretend it was a mistake. I had no idea what kind of mood he’d be in tonight, but I wanted to make sure I appeared engrossed in conversation with everyone else to avoid his attention. I hoped he wouldn’t sit by me.

Niall and I spoke a bit about our exploits over the winter holiday, and he went on about how his dad nearly burned the kitchen down on Christmas morning cooking a pie. If they hadn’t had a fire extinguisher handy, it would’ve gotten away from them and been catastrophic.

“I’m glad you’re alright, then.”

“This is why I never cook, mate. If my dad can’t do it, there’s no hope for me.”

“Me mum brought me into the kitchen quite early on. All she ever does is cook, soI kinda had noh choice but to learn. I’m not complainin’ though. It comes in handy when youh wanna impress the ladies,” I wiggled my eyebrows a bit.

“Then you’ll have to show me what you know. I’ve got about two things I know how to make, Zayno, and none of them involve the stove.” We laughed.

“I’ll have youh over then. Soon as the tour breaks. We’ll do a bit of shoppin’ make a couple of dishes—”

“Damn it, they’ve got the good seats!” Liam hissed as he approached with Lou, who subsequently shouted “Oui Oui” at the top of his lungs, uncaring that he drew the attention of the entire restaurant on him.

“Where’s Styler?”

“Haven’t made it yet. Hey, Payno, where’d you get that from, mate? How are you already drinkin’?!”

“We stopped by the bar. We thought no one was here yet. Finally they told us yous bois were inside.”

“He’s already on his second,” Lou informed us, plopping down beside me and clapping me on the shoulder. 

Shortly after their arrival, a few of our security and crew showed up, including our producer Julian who announced to the table that Haz wouldn’t be joining us. He had a prior engagement with a few of the locals and didn’t want to cancel on them because it would be their only chance to meet with him. He was super considerate in that way. Now that I knew he wouldn’t be there, it was all I wanted. To see him walking through that door and joining us after all. Even sitting near me and letting our knees and elbows brush all night. These little things elicited the most tantalizing sensations when we knew there was a serious risk of others catching us.

Keeping my spirits up, I ordered a bit of sushi and let Niall try a bit, after which he determined it wasn’t for him. Sushi was definitely an acquired taste, but I’d fallen in love with it a few years ago thanks to Pez. Speaking of which she had texted me to call her, noting that it was urgent. I got up right after Julian made a toast to the writing of the new album, and moved to a quieter area near the bar.

“Hello, babe, youh okay?” I asked when she picked up.

“I’m good. Just wanted to hear your voice, bubs.”

“Sumthin’ wrong? Youh said it was urgent.”

“Oh, did I?”


“Sorry! Me finger must’ve slipped,” she laughed.

“Youh aint foolin’ no one. You’re a terrible liar!”

“What are you up to anyweh?”

“Just out for dinner with the bois. Everyone’s usin’ it as an excuse to get drunk of course…”

“And you?”

“I don’t get drunk.”

“Oh look at you Mr. Sanctimonious. Mr. High and Mighty, sitting there on your little throne of sobriety, judging everyone. What a prudeeee,” she scoffed and I laughed. She then went on and on about how she thought her mum was seeing a new guy in secret, and that she didn’t want her or Johnnie to know. I told her it had been a while since her parent’s divorced and that her mum had a right to be happy. That she shouldn’t infringe on that. That Debbie was pretty hot, so she couldn’t expect her to be single forever. At that she pretended to gag and hung up on me.

By the time I’d made it back to the table, it had gotten pretty late. As I cleared a few passing folks to make it back to my seat, I saw Haz standing at the head of the table over Niall, looking flushed and wired. I took one look at his expression and could tell he was wasted. Not good.

“There he is!” he shouted upon my return, clapping his hands dramatically and doing a little jig. “Zayn! Zayn! Zayn! Everyone’s missed you, mate! You were gone so long.”

“How would youh know?” I retorted, sitting down and staring up at him, dead-eyed.

“Well, that’s what they told me,” he leered drunkenly, staggering a bit. “Everybody just love’s you so much…they can’t bear for you to be gone even for a little while. Amirite?!” he asked. The table collectively agreed. Then he raised Niall’s glass of wine and made a toast to my return to the table. 

“See, mate,” he continued, moving around to hover over me. He grabbed my shoulders and squeezed them brutally. I grimaced, but remained silent. “You just can’t fucking go, alright? This shit would fall apart without you. You’re the glue…isn’t he the glue guys?”

“The glue to what??” Niall asked, salvaging his wine as Harry sloshed it all over the place. 

“Sure is the glue,” Liam winked at me from across the table, just as drunk as Haz was because he’d gotten an early start.

“What are you talking about?!” Lou asked, shooting Haz an exasperated look.

Zaynnnn…this guy right here,” he pulled at both my cheeks. “He’s the glue that holds us all together. Couldn’t imagine what would happen without him…”

“Oh I get it now!” Niall snickered. “You lost me with the glue bit, if I’m honest.”

“What would we even do if you left?” Haz asked, hugging me from behind. His breath reeked of Vodka. “I’d lose my mind. I couldn’t take it…”

“Uh…am I missing something?” Julian asked at the foot of the table, looking totally puzzled. “Zayno, you planning on leaving or something?”

“Noh, mate. Haz is just a bit—”

“Don’t lie! Tell them the truth!” he shoved off me. “Tell ’em what you told me the other night…” My jaw tightened. Now he wasn’t just threatening to expose my plans, he was also looking to expose us. “On Valentine’s Day, right? After the show—” I grabbed him violently by the arm, yanking him to my level and whispering for him to sit down and shut the fuck up. He grew silent at that, then moved around the table to look for a seat among the others. I was becoming sick to my stomach and thinking up excuses to leave early.

Woahhhh!” someone shouted. When I glanced down the table to see what he’d done, I saw him putting on a show with that Matt bloke, who playfully let Haz sit in his lap because there were no more seats available. Then they got to laughing and jokingly feeding each other, and my blood boiled. It was so hot in my head I could hear it whistling between my ears.

“Hello, Zayn, mate?? You listening?” I snapped my head in Niall’s direction, realizing he’d been talking.

“Huh, what? Sorry broh…”

“I was just saying, d’you think you can make these?” he pointed at my leftover sushi rolls.

“Uh, yeah, maybe. Never tried it before, but I heard it was kind of tricky—”

“Are you two taking the piss or what?!” Lou said, laughing. I snapped my head back to the end of the table, only to see Haz and Matt pretending to make out and getting laughs from the guys around them.

“Woah, can I see?!” Liam said, standing up. “Woohoo, go ahead bois! Dinner and a show!”

I lost all my composure. I was on my feet in seconds and headed for them. Marching over to that side of the table, I snatched Haz off that idiot’s lap and earned shocked exclamations from the entire table. Then I practically dragged him out of the restaurant, unconcerned with whoever watched and speculated at the nature of our relationship.

“Let me go, Z, stop it! I said let go!”

“Fuck youh!” I spat, lugging him down the hall to the elevator. Once there, I threw him inside, and when a couple of people followed, I told them to piss off and shut the door. Inside, he crumpled into a corner and began to sniffle, saying I’d embarrassed him and hurt his arm. Ignoring him, I leaned back against the wall, resting my hands onto the railing and staring at the mirrored ceiling. The smell of wax was strong in the lift like they’d just polished it. I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself, hoping the blood would recede from my head and stop the pounding. At the floor to my room, the doors open and I stepped out. He continued to weep like a child in the corner, unwilling to exit the lift.

“Get out.”

“No. I’m going to my own room—”

“Get off, now…


“Harry, come the fuck on, now! I wanna talk to youh!”

He hurried and hit the ‘Close Doors” button, but I shoved them back open and grabbed the collar of his t-shirt, wringing it around my fist. Now I hauled him down the hall to my room, refusing to heed his hoarse protests. He scratched and clawed and pulled at my hand the entire way, but I didn’t give a shit. I couldn’t let him venture off on his own right now. He was shitfaced and dangerous. He’d exhibited all the signs that he was ready to do something totally reckless, like hang off another balcony the way he did in Rio. And whether he slept with another dude first or decided to expose us in a drunken slip-up, I needed to keep an eye on him until morning. Until he could fully sober up.

As I scanned my hotel room key, he insisted that he wasn’t going inside with me, and that I was kidnapping and bullying him. I kept silent, opening the door then flinging him inside. He stumbled and fell onto his hands and knees, and I left him there, slamming the door shut. The room was dark, apart from the moonlight spilling in from the balcony. Now I rested back against the door, exerted from dragging his big ass around, then slumped to the floor across from him.

“Why are you doing this?” he whimpered, laying down, cheek planted against the carpet because his head was undoubtedly spinning.

Me? Me? Really, Haz? Why am I doing this? Youh did this to your fuckin’ self! What was all that back at the restaurant?! Youh bein’ petty as fuck?! Tryin’ to fuck with me? Tryin’ to tell them about us? Kissin’ that dude right in front of me?? Youh tryin’ to get the both of youh killed?!”

“I didn’t kiss him,” was all he could say, because he knew I’d been right about everything else. “I’m sorry…” he said at last.


“I am…I swear it, Z. I didn’t mean t—”

“Yeah, youh did. Youh were bein’ petty as fuck. And childish.”

“I just don’t know what to do…” he croaked.

“How about grow the fuck up??”

“Ok,” he whispered, nodding like a kid. 

Suddenly my gut wrenched and I felt totally sorry for him. I crawled the few feet over to his side and lay down beside him, brushing his messy hair out of his face.

“I’m sorry…” he whispered, but I shushed him and pressed my lips to his a few times. His were trembling and tasted like the pungent alcohol he’d been consuming all night.

“Sorry baby…” I exhaled, pressing our foreheads together. He quietly begged me not to leave him. Saying he’d die if I left. Saying he didn’t want to live. Didn’t want to be apart of any of it anymore if I was gone. He said if I left it would be the end of One Direction because he’d follow me without hesitation.

“I kissed him until he quieted, and the only sound that escaped him were weak little whimpers that assured me I owned him. Sliding down his body, I took his boots and socks off, then his pants. He hid his face behind his arm as I worked; chest rising and falling rhythmically.

“It’s okay…” I whispered, raising his shirt and kissing his belly before unbuttoning his jeans. I dragged them down his waist and butt, and he helped me by lifting his hips. When I set them aside, I returned to kiss his belly and took his hardening meat into my mouth, moaning around it. Before I could get going good, he sat up and scooted until he could lay in the opposite direction of me, unzipping my pants and pulling them down just enough to expose my dick. He cupped my balls and swallowed me to the base and I gasped, panting against his flopping dick which lay in my face. Unable to process what was happening, I took him back into my mouth and sucked weakly, too overwhelmed with how good his mouth felt around my shaft to give him the proper attention he deserved.

Before I could unload, he dragged me out of his mouth and took himself out of mine, and urged me over onto the bed. Once I fell onto the mattress face first, he wrenched my boots and pants and briefs away, then forced me to lay still with a hand planted into the center of my back. He dug around under the pillow until he found my lube, then hiked my t-shirt up to he back of my neck. His nails scrapped down my protruding spine to the top of my ass.

“Babe…” I groaned, too weak to stop him or adjust my position. I was lying nearly face first into the mattress, and shifted my head only enough to get air. I felt him lift my ass and eat it briefly before spilling lube down the crack. Before I knew he, he was mounting me from behind, holding me down by a hand gripped on the back of my neck, and riding me super deliberately. Dragging himself so slowly in and out that all I could do was moan into the sheets and pray that I wouldn’t suffocate. 

Rather suddenly he withdrew and flipped me over onto my back. I gulped in as much fresh air as I could while I still had the chance. I had no idea what he would do next, but was eager to find out. He slipped back inside of me in seconds, this time from the front, ramming himself between my legs and bringing me to meet him with an aggression he hadn’t exhibited before. He braced his hands on either side of me, hovering in the darkness, hair completely shrouding his face. As he went to work, riding me more urgently than before, the only thing that fell repeatedly into my vision was the glint of the cross around his neck. 

(Thanks for reading!❤️)

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