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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5. Chapter 5

Harry was frozen. He had given up yelling to try and get Zayn to focus and instead had started rubbing his arm, saying “it’s ok” over and over. He was just trying to get Zayn’s breathing back to normal while Niall ran into the house. What he didn’t anticipate was Zayn flinching horribly.

“Stop Zayn please.”

But Zayn was past hearing. The distress was causing tears to come to Harry’s eyes because he was just so helpless, as Zayn zoned out to another world and started releasing heartbreaking sobs. Liam and Louis were spewing out suggestions but really no one knew how to handle this and there was a collective sigh of relief as Paul knelt down and unbuckled Zayn’s seatbelt, letting Zayn curl into himself more, avoiding Paul’s gaze.

“What’s going on with him?” Niall asked but Paul waved for him to be silent.

“Zayn listen to me. It’s Paul,” said Paul, turning toward his foster son, careful not to touch him right away. “It’s September. You’re at my house. You went to school today and…” he sounded a little choked up. “Went out with some friends. You will come in, do some homework, eat dinner, read that Leo Tolstoy book you love and then go to bed.”

Harry watched in awe as Paul stated simple truths to Zayn. He wasn’t sure why but it seemed to work as Zayn slowly caught Paul’s eyes and within a minute was sobbing into his shoulder. Paul gently returned the hug and if possible, Harry’s heart broke even more.

After a few minutes, Zayn seemed to be a bit more with it and with Paul’s help, slowly got out of Louis’ van before taking off into the house at a lightening speed, completely brushing off his new friends. No one objected though.

“Will…will he be ok?” Liam asked softly to Paul. Paul ran a hand through his short hair and nodded.

“Yes. He just gets panic attacks occasionally. I’m going to go in. Hopefully you can talk with him at school.”

All of the boys except Harry nodded and started to pile into the van, realizing Zayn needed time after his episode but Harry wasn’t done yet.

“Paul,” he called out to the man who was making his way to the front door. “Why does he get them?”

Paul stared and Harry realized just how intrusive of a question that was.

“I m-mean,” he stuttered backtracking. “I want to help. How can I help?” Images of holding Zayn, comforting him and running his fingers through those black locks passed through his mind. Thankfully Paul couldn’t see into his thoughts.

“Just be his friend. He’ll trust you in time,” Harry let a small smile play on his lips as he headed toward the vehicle. He was willing to take as much time as needed.

——————————————————————————————

Paul shut the large wooden door behind him quickly, his first priority being Zayn. He had let the boy go off because he had a feeling he was embarrassed but now Paul needed to make sure he was really calming down. Stopping in the kitchen to fill a glass of water, he then headed toward Zayn’s room, frowning as he heard soft sniffles.

“Can I come in?” he asked, with a light tap. Paul heard the bedsprings squeak a little before a red-eyed Zayn appeared and motioned for him to proceed. Taking a seat immediately on the desk chair, Paul held out the drink that Zayn took gratefully, swapping it for a tear stained note Paul set to work on reading.

It was a simple apology for being late with Zayn promising never to do it again and he would take any punishment Paul decided to hand out. Paul definitely did not like that part.

“Zayn, um, you aren’t going to get punished. Was that was this is about? You thought,” Paul swallowed, “You thought…I would hurt you?” He couldn’t ask about the why.

Instead of nodding, Zayn started playing with his comforter but that was all Paul needed. He moved to sit down on the bed.

“Zayn look at me,” deep mocha eyes hesitantly to meet his own. Paul was stricken by how sad they looked. “Yes you should have called but I realized you had probably met some people. You’re a teenager and we didn’t really agree on anything, which we should have. So it’s both our faults in a way. I’m so happy you are making friends. I was thinking we can pick out a cell phone tomorrow so if you can let me know what you’re up to so I don’t worry,”

Zayn looked a bit better after that speech, making Paul not want to continue but he knew he had to. He had to repeat what he had promised a couple of weeks ago though it seemed much longer.

Paul sat on the uncomfortable wooden bench, waiting for the director of the boy’s home to finish up with his last meeting. He was absolutely torn between waiting in nervous apprehension and fleeing out of the building. He wasn’t entirely sure why he had agreed to this and the decision still seemed rash even though he’d had a series of interviews about his suitability as a foster parent over the last couple of months.

In truth, it was the breakup that spurred him on. He had wanted kids, she hadn’t. She left and he felt like there was a gaping hole in his life. After some time to get over her and with help from his adopted brother, he figured out how to really move forward.

He wasn’t naïve. He knew fostering and eventually adopting a child would be hard work. There were problems that would have to be worked through. He still remembered when they had brought his brother home when Paul was only six. His baby brother was only three and missed his real parents terribly even though they had abandoned him. He screamed, cried, held temper tantrums and had night terrors. But Paul would hold him, share a room, whatever it took until they were finally a family. It felt right then and he knew it was the right thing now.

Finally the director let Paul into his office and they started to discuss the boys who were currently around. Paul had been told his chances of fostering were better with a boy and he agreed wholeheartedly. He might be completely lost as a first time parent but he would have better navigation with the same gender.

They were just discussing the boys around aged 4-8 and were about to go up to meet some of them when there was a large crash was heard. The director rolled his eyes and they walked toward the sitting room. It was there they encountered a dark haired teenager with a jet-black quiff standing petrified in the middle of the room with broken glass around him.

“Zayn!” the director screamed menacingly and suddenly all Paul could focus on was how this boy was suddenly shaking and completely pale. He hadn’t even moved from the dangerous area. He cowered more as the director continued to scream, shutting his eyes as if in pain.

“What were you reaching for!? Never mind. Just clean it up! Paul we can continue.” The director turned to leave but Paul didn’t follow.

“Don’t you think we should help?” Paul asked incredulously. Zayn was now shaking, breathing erratically and his eyes were slightly glazing over. They couldn’t just leave.

The director motioned for Paul to talk with Zayn out of earshot.

“It’s better if we leave it alone. Zayn doesn’t do well around other people.”

Paul glanced to see Zayn watching them with almost a pleading breaking through the haze causing him to snort at the director’s statement. Anyone could see Zayn just wanted help but not to be yelled at. To just be safe. Paul knew what to say next.

“I’d like..I’d like to see his file.”

The other man was shocked and Paul was a little surprised at himself too. He had come here looking for a boy he could raise for many years and Zayn had to be at least 15. But if his instinct was correct, he knew Zayn needed someone right now and later. And it wasn’t going to be in this orphanage.

“Paul,” the director started. “He…he doesn’t talk. At all. It’s weird. The other boys won’t go near him because of it.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Paul said immediately thinking he probably just didn’t talk around the man. That theory would be proven wrong in the next few days but Paul’s parental feelings didn’t change.

The director sighed and left to go get Zayn’s file shortly after leaving Paul alone with who he hoped would be coming home with him soon.

“Hi Zayn,” he said softly. “I’m Paul.” He held out his hand but wanted to punch himself immediately after as Zayn jumped and tripped, barely missing falling on the glass. But not a sound was made.

“Do you want to help me find a broom? We can clean this up” Paul asked, keeping his distance and motioning to the glass. Zayn moved his head as if just aware where he was thanks to Paul’s voice. It took a few minutes of calming breaths but then Zayn finally nodded and soon they were cleaning up, then sitting down on a couch to wait. Paul was wondering if the director had taken a detour and found he didn’t mind if he had. The less he had to be around that man the better and he could take the time to talk to Zayn who was sitting safely opposite him, staring at his hands.

“Zayn,” Paul started, deciding just to come out with it while he had the courage. “Um if everything turns out, would you like to come home to Cheshire with me? I know this is quick but I promise I won’t hurt you. But it’s your choice.”

Your choice. Paul had left it up to the boy who was now sleeping, having passed out not long after Paul made the promise again. He was so glad Zayn had let the papers be processed that day even if he had seemed a bit hesitant. Paul wasn’t sure what he would have done if Zayn had said no.

Paul knew they had a while ago if today was any indication. There would be nightmares tonight but like Paul had told Harry it just took time. At least he hoped he wasn’t wrong.

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