The Heart Never Forgets

What’s worse than watching the one you love die? For Liam, it’s having to stand by while they forget who you are. Zayn is dying, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and Liam goes from being his best friend to his caregiver. Somehow, their friendship becomes intimate, and while it should be good, it isn’t, because they know that Zayn will forget about them soon enough. While the mind may obliterate the memories of their love, Liam believes - hopes - that the heart never forgets.

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9. VIII

 

Zayn wanted to be mad at Liam, he really did, except he couldn’t, because try as he might, as soon as he got home Liam was right there smothering him with concerned affection and worry.

How was it? Are you hurt? Did it go okay? Do you need ointment?” was what came out of his caregiver’s mouth the moment harry and Zayn stepped through the door.

Zayn said nothing as he made his way to his room, seething in silence as harry answered Liam’s questions on behalf of Zayn.

All Zayn had asked for was that Liam come up with a symbol or message that defined either Liam himself or their relationship together, so that the memory would be permanently imprinted onto Zayn’s skin, yet Liam had come up with nothing. Even Louis was able to do one, a zap type comic book action that looked quite cool next to his microphone. But Liam had nothing, didn’t even bring it up again after the matter was first discussed.

Maybe he was being a bit petty getting so irritated about it, because he was certain had harry not been able to think of something he’d be okay with it. but Liam was Liam and Liam was his best friend, had been for years, and Zayn had been certain that he was Liam’s best friend, too, but apparently not if something so simple couldn’t be fulfilled.

“Hey,” Liam said again, pulling Zayn from his thoughts. “You okay?” he asked, brows scrunched and face full of worry.

Zayn didn’t answer, instead gazed at the ceiling as he laid on his bed, choosing to ignore the younger boy for a little bit longer.

“Zayn,” Liam pleaded, trying to capture Zayn’s attention. Still, Zayn choose to ignore him.

“I’m sorry,” Liam whispered, and Zayn had to bite down his urge to forgive him immediately. “I know it meant a lot to you…” he paused, waiting for Zayn to react, but to no avail, as Zayn just lied there, incredibly fascinated by the texture of the ceiling walls. He wondered if he could paint it, like in those museums where the entire ceiling is painted with some religious mural.

“I know it meant a lot to you,” Liam repeated, “which is why I wanted to come up with something perfect, and I – I just couldn’t, I’m sorry.”

And that caught Zayn’s attention, because he forgot Liam’s OCD with perfection, how he wouldn’t propose an idea if he wasn’t completely sure of it. He felt his heart constrict with guilt. When Zayn had yet to respond, not knowing he was wrecking himself internally, Liam continued.

“Like, I know we’ve been best friends for years now, we probably know everything about each other,” he chuckled, “and I thought of at least a hundred things, but nothing that could do us justice.”

“That’s because you think too much,” Zayn commented, breaking his silence, much to Liam’s surprise.

“What?” Liam asked, confused.

“You were over thinking it,” he answered simply as he sat up and tugged his shirt off. He watched as Liam’s eyes fluttered across his chest, admiring his new tattoos before they rested a fresh one over his left breastplate, directly above his heart.

“Is that…?” Liam asked in awe.

“The symbol of infinity,” he answered the unfinished question as Liam made his way to the bed, sitting beside him, tracing a delicate finger over the fresh ink.

“Does it hurt?” Liam breathed out, eyes wide. It made Zayn want to laugh at how enraptured his friend was in the moment, how innocent and inquisitive he looked.

“A little,” he admitted, “but I like it.” I like you, I like your touch, I like your hands on my body, and I don’t care if it hurts because you make it feel better simply because I love you.

“What made you pick that?” Liam asked, looking him in the eyes.

“Because you like toy story,” he said with a smile. “And buzz and woody were friends to infinity and beyond, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Liam said quietly, seemingly unable to raise his voice to normal speaking levels.

“And, well, I love you,” he blushed, “I love you so much it’s immeasurable, without any limits, with no end, til the end of time for all of eternity, yeah?” he finished with a grin, afraid that if he didn’t things would get awkward – fast.

Luckily it didn’t, as the next thing Zayn knew, his head was surrounded by two big hands and Liam’s face was suddenly a lot bigger and Liam’s lips were mashed against his own. He let out a rather indignant squeal at the unexpected showcase of affection, but melted into the kiss nonetheless.

It was close-mouthed, as their kisses always were, but so sweet and full of so much more passion than Zayn ever remembered. It was intense, the passion flowing from one boy to the next, and Zayn felt as though he were on fire, ready to combust if Liam didn’t pull away.

But he didn’t. Liam pulled away slowly, but not before sneaking two more soft peaks in. he dropped one hand while holding Zayn with his other, and they just sat there, staring at one another as they watched the fireworks in each other’s eyes die out.

It was silent, and they just stared at each other. It should have been awkward, the silence uncomfortable, but it wasn’t, it was the opposite. It was peaceful, it was content. It held the remnants of their kiss, their love radiating, swirling through the air around them.

And they should have been scared, but they weren’t. The kiss was so intimate, so passionate and so real, so intense that it would frighten any normal teenager, making them fear they were in too deep, way over their heads. But Zayn loved Liam. Zayn loved Liam so much, so much that he loved Liam more than he feared losing him.

It was an interesting connotation, considering he feared forgetting Liam above all else. But, then again, even if Liam didn’t love him the way he loved Liam, Zayn would still remember him, have all of his memories of the younger boy, and that’d be enough for him.

But forgetting Liam was much worse. Losing Liam, he’d still hold numerous pleasant memories, but forgetting Liam, those memories, their history, would be destroyed. And he’d never be ready to forget Liam.

“I felt it was appropriate,” he continued, as if they hadn’t just kissed each other’s breath away. “I want you to know that,” he said, taking the hand not still pressed against his face and placing it over his heart, “this tattoo symbolizes us, and that I’ll love you forever, no matter what, even if I stop saying it or remember it.” he finished, the corners of his lips angling upward as he watched Liam’s eyes water and heard his breath hitch.

“Zayn,” Liam began, but stopped when he realized he didn’t know what to say.

“I mean it, Li,” he insisted, placing his own hand free hand on Liam’s face, cupping his jaw. “I love you forever, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Liam whispered, nodding his head in agreement, and smiled as he added, “to infinity and beyond.”

It was so cheesy that they couldn’t not laugh, as they fell backwards in bed in a mess of giggles.

“I’m sorry,” Zayn said after they had calmed down.

“What for?” Liam asked, doing that adorable thing where he furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

“Being upset,” he admitted. “I shouldn’t have been, I should’ve known you would’ve wanted it to be perfect.”

“It’s not your fault, it was mine, and I wouldn’t have been able to think of anything as perfect as you had. I quite fancy it, actually. It’s my new favorite tattoo that you have,” Liam finished, smiling wide.

“Is it now?” Zayn teased, playing coy, to which Liam responded to with a playful shove. It was impossible to stay mad at Liam.

 

                +*+

 

After they made up, their friendship fell back in place, eliminating the tense atmosphere that surrounded them the past week. They had finished their video dairy for the night, and Liam had offered to apply ointment to Zayn’s new tattoos before they went to bed.

“I want to have your kids,” Liam blurted out awkwardly, and those words were just not something Zayn had expected to fall from anyone’s mouth, let alone Liam’s.

“I mean,” Liam backtracked, realizing his words came out much more creepy and awkward than he intended, “not have them have them, because I don’t have a, you know, since I have a, you know, but like, raise them, you know?” he stammered, but Zayn stayed silent wondering why?!

“But only if you’re serious of having them,” Liam continued. “I know how much you want kids, yeah?”

“Well yeah,” Zayn admitted, “I do want kids, but you can’t just do that, Liam, I can’t let you.”

“Why not?” Liam asked, and Zayn tried his best to pretend he didn’t notice Liam’s wounded expression, or the fall of his face.

“It’s just a lot more than being someone’s caregiver,” he tried to explain. “A lot different than raising turtles, and much more permanent. I can’t ask you that, Liam, it’s much too much, I just can’t.”

“But -”

“No buts, Liam,” he cut off. “You’re already doing so much for me, and I appreciate it so much, I love you so much, but you’ve lost so much already, too… I can’t just let you throw your life away just to make me happy for what little time I have left...”

It was then that Liam stopped applying the ointment, choosing to stare at Zayn in amusement before his lips curled into a small smile, shaking his head slightly.

“What?” Zayn asked, because really he didn’t see what could be funny about this situation at all. Liam was just a kid! Well, young adult, but still! He had his whole life ahead of him, Zayn couldn’t just allow Liam to throw it away.

“It’s just a little bit ironic, I guess,” Liam chuckled. “Whereas you’re all worried about me, I was kind of being selfish.” and now Zayn was just lost, if his confused expression didn’t show it already.

“I think you missed the part where I said that “I want” to have your kids,” Liam explained. “It’d make me happy, too, and it’d solve two things.”

“What things?” Zayn asked, cautiously, still not wanting to relent.

“For one, your legacy,” Liam said.

“And two?”

“Well I guess it’s just one,” Liam admitted, smiling warmly. “I know you want to have kids, and you’re so good with them, you should be able to have them – you’d make an excellent father, I know you will… and… I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and if I could help you have kids, then maybe, it’d help me, too…” he finished slowly, almost embarrassed.

“What do you mean?” Zayn questioned curiously.

“well,” Liam sighed, “I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea of living without you and I just can’t, and well, I guess I figured that if there were little Zayn Malik’s around, you’d be able to be a dad, have children like I know you want to, and I’d be able to have a part of you to watch after and love and care for. And I promise I won’t let any limbs go missing.”

“So,” Zayn said slowly, letting Liam’s words sink in. “you want me to let you raise my kids, that way I don’t leave you alone?” Liam didn’t answer, instead, turned his head away in embarrassment. But Zayn was awed by Liam’s notion and reasoning, and if he hadn’t been heads over heels in love with him already…

“Liam,” Zayn whispered breathlessly, as Liam had stolen that along with his heart. “Li, look at me,” he begged, taking a hand and directing Liam’s face to meet his own. Zayn didn’t know what to say, and said as much.

“Liam, babe, I really don’t know what to say,” he admitted, making Liam smile within his hand.

“Then say yes,” Liam pleaded, taking Zayn’s hand into his own. “Please, let me do this for you… do this for me... for both of us… just say yes,” he said, voice soft yet so full of desperation, and how could Zayn deny him that?

“Yes,” he found himself whispering back. “Yes,” he repeated, a little louder this time, more confident. He still wasn’t certain it was a good idea, but it was what Liam wanted, and the look in Liam’s eyes and the smile on his face was enough to satisfy Zayn and make him think that it’d all be okay.

“Really?” Liam asked, still smiling but a little wary. “You mean it? You’re not going to back out?”

“Yes, Li,” he said again. “I promise. Let’s do it, let’s have kids!” he finished, his voice an octave higher as he shouted out in pure glee.

“You’re gonna have a child, zee!” Liam congratulated. “You’re going to be a father!”

“No,” Zayn denied immediately, before concluding in a strong, confident voice: “we’re going to be fathers.” Not even Cheshire the cat’s grin could compete with the ones the two were sporting at that moment.

“We’re gonna be fathers, Li,” he repeated once more, his voice full of awe as his mind flashed with images of a toddler bearing his resemblance run up to Liam, who would scoop the tyke up in big, warm, loving arms. And he wouldn’t be jealous that his child would love someone other than him, he wouldn’t, because Liam would be the perfect father because Liam was perfect. He was so excited, and he knew he’d never be able to repay Liam for what he was offering, but he gave him a kiss anyways, hoping it’d help.

“I love you,” Zayn said again that day, before pressing their lips together once more. “I love you so much,” he said, accompanied by yet another kiss.

“I know,” Liam returned, kissing him back. “I love you, too.”

“Thank you, Li,” he whispered with one final kiss, before they collapsed on the bed and stared at one another in awe and silence, while their minds played out the future of their shared parenthood.

Zayn fell asleep immensely happy, being blessed with dreams of Liam and their future kids. 

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