It Ain't No Use In Turning On Your Light Zarry AU

Zayn has moved to a new town, wanting to escape. Finding four new friends wasn’t part of the plan. Zarry AU

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10. Chapter 10

Zayn couldn’t even begin to guess what was going on through Paul’s head as he stared at his foster dad from the back seat but he could see the tentativeness expressed on Paul’s face. He was sure he looked very similar because his own mind was whirling. These must be Paul’s parents and brother that Paul talked about but Zayn didn’t know who the glaring man was and it was making him nervous and was pushing back the excitement he was also feeling by seeing his potential grandparents. Gulping, Zayn hugged Duncan tighter, making the dog yelp and Paul break out of his momentary stupor.

 

“Right. They’re probably here for dinner,” Paul said, glancing back at Zayn. “Are you ready for this?”

 

Zayn didn’t know. On one hand, he wanted to meet more of his new family and it made him feel warm inside. But what if they didn’t like him? It already looked like one of them didn’t. But Paul was looking expectantly at him so he nodded slightly.

 

“We’ll head out,” Harry said, as Paul looked relieved at Zayn’s answer. Zayn turned toward Harry, giving him pleading eyes to stay but Harry must have thought family time was important because he gripped Zayn’s shoulder. “I’ll text you later. Let me know how it goes.

 

With that, Niall and Harry were off and walking down the street, Niall whining about how he didn’t want to walk. Paul sighed and gestured toward Zayn and Duncan.

 

“Guess we better get out huh?”

 

Giving a weak nod, Zayn gently hugged Duncan to himself as Paul went round the back of the car and grabbed the supplies. They slowly made their way toward the front door and were halfway before the woman with blonde-white hair and Paul’s green eyes approached Zayn and the puppy.

 

“You must be Zayn!” she gushed, reaching out to hug him and Duncan before stopping herself, remembering what her son had told her about how anxious Zayn could get. “I’m Lucy, Paul’s mom,” she said while choosing to stick out her hand instead. “I can’t believe how handsome you are!”

 

Zayn shook it, keeping a tight hold on Duncan but relaxing slightly at Lucy’s kindness. She wouldn’t stop smiling but Zayn didn’t mind at all, even giving a small smile back.

 

“This is my husband, Gerald,” Lucy went on, motioning for her husband to come over. The man looked very similar to Paul in build but the graying hair and brown eyes stopped the similarities. He also greeted Zayn with a grin and a handshake.

 

“Nice to meet you,” Gerald said. “The other two guys are my other son, Max and my brother, Christopher.”

 

Max, who, like Zayn knew, looked nothing like Paul due to being adopted (the bright ginger hair and wiry build were kind of a give away anyways) waved back, but Christopher kept his arms crossed and a frown on his face. Duncan let out a bark at the man, making his scowl increase further.

 

“Any particular reason why he’s not answering Paul?” Christopher asked, making Paul turn a bit red.

 

Max rolled his eyes. “Maybe if you actually listened to Mom and Dad, you’d know. When did you two get a dog? You haven’t mentioned him.”

 

“Just today,” Paul spit out through gritted teeth, not tearing his eyes away from Christopher.

 

“That explains the dog bed,” Max kept on, trying to relieve the tension. “Do you need help setting up a place for him, Zayn?”

 

What Zayn really wanted was to run away and hide, maybe in his closet but preferably at Harry’s house, even if he didn’t know where it was. If he weren’t so sure in his head that Harry was probably tired of him after a long car ride and Paul would be mad, then he would be off in a flash.

 

“Yes, let’s go in and get settled, then I can start on dinner,” Paul answered; finally choosing it was best to ignore Christopher for the time being.

 

“No Paul, I will get started on dinner,” Lucy stated. Her smile had dimmed a bit because of her husband’s brother but she was still determined to make this visit as pleasant as possible for Zayn. “I still like to cook for you once in a while,” she winked. “Reminds me of when you were Zayn’s age.”

 

 

“Ok why did Dad bring Uncle Christopher?” Paul spat out. Him and Max were in Zayn’s room, setting up the dog bed and pads while Zayn had gone out in the back with Duncan.

 

Max sighed. “You know how Dad is. He doesn’t like anyone upset or feeling left out so when Uncle Christopher stopped by for an unexpected visit today an hour before we were supposed to leave, Dad thought we should take him along. “

 

“On a plane ride,” Paul deadpanned. “From Ireland. Couldn’t he just have said Uncle Christopher could come next month when Mum gets the urge to visit me and London again?”

 

“That’s what Mum said to Dad but you know how he is. Apparently Uncle Christopher was upset you hadn’t invited him like you had with the rest of the family Mum just felt bad for Dad in the end as usual. You know she’d like Dad to just cut off contact.”

 

“There’s a reason I didn’t invite him. I don’t want him here,” Paul said. “He treats you horribly and ignores you constantly whether through correspondence or whatever because you’re adopted and from what I’ve seen so far, he’s acting the same way to Zayn. I know you always say it doesn’t bother you.” Paul watched as Max looked down at the ground, his mind going back to all the times their uncle had made snide remarks about his background and how their dad was sympathetic but reluctant to lose his only brother. Paul, like his mom, always thought it was a necessary sacrifice.

 

“We should just get through dinner,” Max said, still averting his eyes. “At least Zayn will get to meet his grandparents and his new favourite uncle, me!”

 

Max finally looked back at Paul while Paul shook his head. “You act like I’ve already adopted him.” 

 

“Well, the way you talk about him, I think it’s only a matter of time,” Max grinned. “Let’s go down.”

 

 

Zayn was very relieved when Paul and Max came down the stairs. He could tell Lucy wanted to ask him questions by the way she was opening her mouth as she prepared the pasta, only to close it again once she remembered. Gerald was helping and giving Zayn a smile every once in a while well Christopher gripped a beer and stared harshly at Zayn. The man wasn’t letting up but Zayn knew it would look even worse if he left, no matter how uncomfortable he felt and how much his chest was tightening, so he ate some carrots and patted the sleeping puppy under the kitchen table, trying to calm himself down.

 

Max went straight into helping his mother well Paul sat beside Zayn and put a hand on his shoulder. Lucy looked thrilled at the interaction and finally started to speak.

 

“So Paul, how’s Zayn liking school?”

 

“Fine,” Paul answered, leaning in to murmur to Zayn. “Do you want to use your notepad? You can if you’d like.”

 

Zayn did want to, he was just unsure about how Paul’s parents, or really Christopher would like that, but it would make it so much easier to communicate with Lucy and Gerald. He could tell them about his new friends, which he was sure Lucy would be absolutely thrilled to hear about. He started to pull it out of his pocket before a voice stopped him.

 

“I actually prefer family dinners with a strong emphasis talking, really open communication,” Christopher said haughtily, making Zayn cringe and stop his actions. Paul’s eyes narrowed and he was about to go off before Gerald stopped him.

 

“So Max here has started at an editing company and is writing his first novel! Is that cool?”

 

Instead of soothing Christopher as Gerald had evidently hoped, all this served to do was make the uncle scoff.

 

“That’s a risky career move, if you can even call it a career, right Max?”

 

Max chose not to answer, instead chopping the tomatoes with a bit more vigor than before. Paul was not shocked but as usual was upset. Did his dad not ever notice how mean his brother was?

 

“At least answer Max,” Christopher continued. “I mean, unless you are like Zayn here and have stupidly chosen not to talk.”

 

There it was. His breath was now quickening and his chest was tightening even more. At least Paul seemed to notice his distress because he quickly said, “Max, Zayn and I are going to go set the dining room table, ok?” gesturing toward his little brother, who looked like he was going to cry.

 

Paul was hoping by the time they got to the dining room, Zayn would calm down a bit and Max would actually let out some of his emotions, instead of repressing them as usual. He was really hoping they would all agree to get Christopher to leave but Paul was willing to do it without their support. It was his house after all but first was helping out the ones who needed it the most.

 

Unfortunately, his expectations were not met. Zayn seemed to be almost hyperventilating so Paul put an arm around him. Max was also just as bad.

 

“Ok, well really not much longer now,” he rambled. “We can focus up and then dinner will be done then.”

 

“I just…no Max!” Paul exclaimed, careful to keep his voice down so as not to upset Zayn. He took his arm off of his foster son to put his hands through his hair in frustration. “I don’t get it. We don’t have to put up with this anymore! You don’t have to! Do you honestly like being treated like that?”

 

“Of course not!” Max shot back, not as careful with his voice as Paul was. “Do you think I like being talked down to? To feel worthless whenever he is around. No! But this is our family!”

 

“You don’t have to live your life like this!” Paul said, while Zayn looked at Max with understanding. “We can still be a family without him. Your family should be people you want to be with. You deserve to be around people who actually care about you and not about where you came from. I mean, what do you think is going to happen if we both tell Dad we just won’t be talking to him anymore? Dad will leave or something?”

 

Zayn’s heart dropped as he took in Max’s expression. That was exactly what Max thought was going to happen, Zayn thought. He always pictured the feeling of abandonment would go away if he ever did get a family but he wondered if he would continue to be like Max, who had issues even if he had been adopted at a fairly young age. He reckoned he would be the same but if anything right now, he wanted to help Max from feeling worthless. No one should ever feel like Zayn did.

 

“Max,” Paul breathed out. “We can’t keep doing this. I’ve done what you wanted but we’re adults and I don’t think this can continue.  We can’t sit there and pretend Uncle Christopher needs to be in the family because it’s not good for you or Zayn!”

 

A cough interrupted Paul’s speech and both him and Zayn turned to find the rest of the guests staring. Lucy was playing with her hands and Gerald spoke up first.

 

“What’s going on? We came to see what the shouting is about?”

 

Before either Paul or Max could answer, Christopher spoke up.

 

“I think these two want me to leave.”

 

“Yes!” Paul said, while Max looked away.

 

“That’s fine. I really only came here to talk to you about you raising a foster kid. Paul, you really shouldn’t be a parent.”

 

Gerald looked shocked at that, eyes moving from his brother to where Zayn was starting to shake.

 

“This is rich coming from the guy who has been divorced three times,” Paul retorted.

 

“I didn’t have kids any of those times. This is a kid’s life we’re talking about,” Christopher retaliated. “If you really wanted kids, you should have found a wife then had biological offspring, not adopted some damaged, unfixable kid.”

 

“He’s not any of those things,” Paul said. “I’m taking care of him and I don’t care what you think.”

 

“I don’t think you’re qualified,” Christopher said. “If the way Max makes choices is any indication of how adoption turns out, I’m not comfortable with this.”

 

“Well I’m afraid that’s just tough!” Paul yelled. “You know what? I’m done. I’m done playing nice year after year as you put everyone down.”

 

“Me too,” Max spoke up, everyone turning to him in surprise. “For twenty-six years, I’ve been afraid to tell you off because I didn’t want to disappoint this family and tear us apart but somehow I’ve managed dissatisfy you no matter what I do! You are never going to believe in my choices or who I am, including what I can and can’t change. I have no idea why I’m here. O ya, I just wanted to meet my nephew and support him because that’s what uncles do.”

 

“He is not your nephew,” Christopher yelled back. “He is just a foster kid.”

 

“He is too,” Max said. “Family is about loving those around you, no matter where they come from. And I do actually love you, as crazy as that is but I will not turn my back on Zayn the way you have with me.”

 

Max turned to where Zayn was standing only to find the space empty.

 

“Wait, where did he go?”

 

Paul’s eyes widened before he took off toward the door, Max following closely behind.

 

 

 

“I can’t believe he slipped out,” Paul groaned as they drove up and down the neighbourhood streets.

 

“Well he took Duncan with him so I’m sure he’s not up to crazy shenanigans,” Max said, making Paul chuckle a little bit while Max tried to look up the Styles number on the Internet like his brother asked him to. “The number isn’t here.”

 

Paul sighed. “We’ll try Zayn’s cell again in a few minutes then. Maybe he will turn it back on. Too bad I didn’t check our caller ID before we left. Harry’s calls quite a few times. He seems quite enamored with Zayn.”

 

Max grinned. “Soon you will have to worry about Zayn’s love life.”

 

“Don’t remind me,” Paul said. “It’s bad enough that I didn’t deal with Uncle Christopher properly tonight. How am I going to handle a hormonal teen?”

 

Max patted his brother on the shoulder partly to acknowledge how impressed he was that Paul didn’t really care about Zayn’s sexuality. They talked almost every night on the phone and when Harry had been brought up, Max had wondered but Paul didn’t seem worried so neither was Max. Not that he ever would be anyway, unless he was looking to denounce his own sexuality.

 

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t the shining example of walking away either. But whatever. Screw Uncle Christopher. Between you, me, Mum and Dad and our other, actual supportive relatives, I’m sure we can give Zayn a somewhat decent upbringing. And I’m sure after tonight, Dad will really think twice about how his brother is acting. If not, I will talk to him.”

 

Paul smiled, glad his brother was gathering some courage. “Why the sudden change, not that I mind?”

 

“I dunno,” Max replied. “I know you’re supposed to be the big brother and protect me but I don’t like seeing you upset and I’ve never seen you this upset before.”

 

“I know,” Paul said. “It’s just, Uncle Christopher just started being rude and I just started imagining how the people in his past have treated him. I just want to make every bad thing go away but it seems the harder I try, the worse I make it. He’s still having panic attacks and not speaking and I don’t feel helpful.”

 

“You’re too harsh on yourself,” Max said. “You’ve only been at this for a few weeks and he loves you. To Zayn, you’re his family. He probably just got scared tonight but that’s not your fault at all.  All you have to do is talk to him about running away.”

 

Paul nodded. “Pretty insightful but I’d expect that from a writer.”

 

Max grinned. “Thanks. By the way, I’d hoped to mention this at dinner but seeing as we probably won’t be having one, I wanted to ask if you’d mind me moving closer to you. The company I work for has offices in London and I want to be in Zayn’s life more.”

 

“I’d love that.”

 

 

Zayn knew he shouldn’t have run. Paul was probably so sick of his antics but he just couldn’t help it. He wanted to stay and interact a bit but that Christopher guy scared him and all his thoughts were centered around: I need to get out of here. I need to get out of here. Let me get out of here. The fear was so real and everyone one was yelling so he panicked. That was the one good thing about being so quiet. He was able to slip out of the room easily, grab Duncan’s leash, rouse the sleepy puppy and take off on a walk.

 

Of course, the walk didn’t do wonders and before long, Zayn found himself on a nearby park bench, a few tears slipping out as he rested his head in his hands, Duncan licking his face worriedly every time he looked up for a minute.

 

He was feeling worse and worse and within half an hour, the tears were flowing more frequently and all he was able to do was text Harry where he was. He couldn’t bring himself to text Paul; he wasn’t sure of what the reaction would be. The rational part of his mind was telling him Paul would understand like always but the other side, that was becoming more prominent as time went on, was saying this could be different because this was Paul’s family and Zayn couldn’t even talk around them or stay collected around one relative.

 

He glanced down at his phone through blurred vision, choking back a sob as he noticed the battery had run down. Feeling like he couldn’t move, he just kept looking but not seeing and definitely not noticing a figure approach him from behind.

 

“Zayn! There you are! I’m glad you are ok. I got your text late after dinner. We aren’t allowed phones at the table and I’m so sorry,” Harry rushed out, trying to catch his breath has he sat down beside his friend.

 

Zayn glanced at him and Harry took one look at his tear-stained face and hugged him. They stayed like that for a few minutes before Zayn was finally able to pull away, take out his notebook and jot down everything that had happened. Harry’s face hardened as he read it.

 

“You don’t need to put up with this Zayn,” Harry said. “You do deserve better and this Christopher guy is not worth your time.”

 

Zayn took the pad back.

 

It’s Paul’s family. What am I supposed to do? It’s not right for him to choose.

 

“Is that what you think?” Harry asked. “Zayn, I don’t think Paul will ever abandon you for anything. You’ll both be ok. I think…” Harry hesitated, not knowing if he should voice his next thought but thinking it needed to be said. “I think you just need to give this a chance. Let Paul be your dad. He may stumble a bit but it will be fine.”

 

Staring at Harry for a long minute Zayn gave Harry a small smile, making the other boy sigh in relief. They continued to glance at each other before Zayn started to open his mouth.

 

Is this it?” Harry thought. “Is he going to say something?”

 

“Zayn?”

 

But that wasn’t the voice Harry wanted. That was Paul, who was rapidly approaching the bench.

 

“Zayn I’m so sorry.”

 

And now Paul and Zayn were hugging tightly. Max and Harry looked on, standing back a bit to allow for some privacy and Harry forgetting his disappointment at the scene in front of him.

 

“Zayn, Christopher isn’t going to be around anymore and I’m sorry you had to deal with all that,” Paul said as they stepped apart. “But…um…I don’t want you to run off. I worry about you so much and I know I’m not always going to be able to protect you or be the perfect parent but I want you to come to me and explain if something is wrong. I will always be there, I promise. You know that, right?”

 

And Zayn was able to scribble down:

 

I do now. And I promise not to take off again.

 

Zayn allowed a little more hope to fill him as he thought of Paul becoming his real father someday. He wanted it to be soon.

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