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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7. Chapter 7

Zayn was up at the crack of dawn, too excited to sleep. Surprisingly, the night had been nightmare free. Maybe it was the anticipation building up inside him. This would be the first time he had ever celebrated his birthday and he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Would Paul get him a cake? Dinner? He knew that the trip and the clothes and phone he was likely to get today would be great but would Paul devise a plan to earn back what he was getting? He didn’t know. Zayn only knew about the idea of birthdays but no one was ever willing to give him the experience.

He shook his head to clear those thoughts away. Just Paul taking him shopping was nice enough and he would do whatever he could to earn his keep. To start, Zayn would make breakfast.

And that’s how Paul found him, an hour later, with bacon, eggs and hash browns prepared just for his foster dad. Paul was pleasantly surprised until he saw there was only one plate.

“Thank you Zayn but is this all for me?”

Zayn nodded and scribbled something down on his pad.

It’s to thank you for taking me out today.

Paul smiled. “Well I appreciate it but you need to eat too!” Something felt a little off and well Paul felt proud of his parental instinct, he needed to get to the bottom of this. Zayn hadn’t refused food yet, despite Paul expecting this very thing when he had taken his son home. “Please, Zayn.”

Zayn bit his lip. If he accepted, then it wouldn’t seem like he did a special thing for Paul. It was but it might seem like he’s taking advantage of the situation. So he shook his head.

Instead of digging in, Paul motioned for Zayn to sit down beside him.

“What’s this about?”

 Zayn sighed.

I want to pay you back for my birthday.

After writing that, Zayn kept his head down and started drawing patterns on the table with his fingerso he didn’t see Paul wipe his eyes quickly before speaking.

“Zayn,” Zayn looked up at his name. “It’s your birthday. You know what that means?”

Zayn shook his head.

“It means it’s a special day just for you,” Paul said softly. Obviously the boy had never really celebrated his birthday properly. “You really didn’t even have to make breakfast but I’m happy you did. But let’s just focus on making it your day. That starts with you eating too.”

Nodding and giving a small smile, Zayn went to prepare himself a plate of some of the leftover food while Paul waited. He hoped he had gotten through to him.

When Zayn had gotten himself situated, the two got to eat, with Paul glancing at his foster son (soon to be adopted, he desperately hoped). He tried to get himself happy again, as he was sure Zayn wouldn’t appreciate a downer on his birthday but it was terribly hard. The action this morning made Paul recount everything he had read last night about the around ten different foster families Zayn had been made to go to as soon as he was put in care when he was a newborn in the hospital, his parents to never make an appearance.

But abandonment wasn’t the worse. No there was so much more. And that was only the families reports had been filed on. Sometimes Zayn had just been returned to the orphanage with no explanation.

Well Paul was here to make sure he would not get pushed back into the system. Never again.

Zayn was oblivious to Paul’s inner turmoil and gulped down his food only to blush slightly when Paul gave him some more of his. Zayn knew he was skinny; years of being underfed did that to a person. He was lucky he had grown pretty tall but still had some catching up to do so he had vowed to eat as much as he could while he was still lucky enough to be with Paul.

They both got dressed quickly, all the while Zayn was thinking about how excited he was to possibly get new clothes today. But then his thoughts from this morning returned, dampening his mood. Breakfast hadn’t been enough, he knew that, so he found himself writing a note just as they were about to leave the house.

How do I pay you back for the stuff you are buying me today?

Paul looked bewildered but his expression soon changed to sympathetic.

“You don’t. Just another part of your birthday! Seriously, it’s ok.”

They both gave each other a grin before going to car, Zayn taking a minute longer to admire the old sports car while Paul let out a small chuckle. The ride was silent for the first half hour, Zayn doodling as Paul focused on driving, occasionally glancing over to his left.

Zayn seemed to tire of this after a bit and as he was glancing out the window, Paul switched on the radio. Zayn frowned at the jazz making Paul laugh and immediately change the channel to another station. He knew he had found the right one as “Lego House” came on and Zayn perked up, bopping his head to the beat.

“You like Ed Sheeran, huh?”

Nodding his head at his Irish guardian, Zayn started tapping on his thigh. Paul was pleasantly surprised at how well he kept the rhythm and knew a trip to the music store was in order.

It ended up being their fifth stop after some clothing stores where Paul had to practically drag Zayn in because he kept writing on his little notepad that everything was too expensive. He was used to hand me downs. But finally, the pen and paper ended up in Zayn’s back pocket as he explored and pointed and picked out any clothes and shoes he could ever want.

He also got an amazing mobile that basically did everything, a laptop and then some records, which of course included Ed Sheeran. After quite a number of shops, Zayn was starting to get hungry but he didn’t want to bother Paul who didn’t seem to want to slow down with taking Zayn everywhere. His stomach was growling when they reached an art store, however, which Paul definitely noticed.

So as Zayn, whose eyes had literally lit up at the sketchbooks and pencils, browsed, Paul decided to slip out for a minute to go to a quaint little Italian restaurant down the street to make a reservation (the place had amazing food and would be popular on a Saturday) and then popped over to the bakery to pick out some different flavours of cupcakes as he wasn’t sure what Zayn would like.

And Zayn would have been ok, he really would have, if the owner hadn’t decided long ago that he hated teenagers and had concluded that the missing items from the front display wasn’t a shifty customer minutes before but was actually the quiet boy, fingers ghosting over art supplies with longing.

“Hey kid!”

Zayn’s head whipped around in fright.

“Yes you!” the bald man whose head was covered in sweat shouted, making the other customers look around. “Don’t think you can get away with this! Now come here and let me see what’s in your jacket pockets.”

 Just like that, Zayn felt himself grabbed harshly by the arm and pulled to the front of the store The owner was demanding he reveal the items he took before he called the cops and really Zayn wanted to defend himself so bad but all he could do was go red with embarrassment and fright and start shaking like a leaf. He needed to get away but the small amount of rational thought he had left was telling him that would result in even more of a disaster. Breaths started coming quicker and then all that was swirling through his head was where is Paul and someone just help me please, I’m so scared.

————————————-

Harry was absolutely not having a good trip. Sure the morning had been fun, with everyone picking their favourite songs to sing along with in the car. Shopping was excellent for a bit, as he got a new beanie and Liam kept smiling at his funny screaming faces.  But then everything went downhill at lunch.

Admittedly, they probably should have researched the restaurant a bit instead of just slipping in but they (well Niall) just wanted food. As bad luck would have it, the French café was filled with couples kissing and holding hands and that made Liam start shifting uncomfortably.

“Relax Liam,” Louis had said but it had been the wrong thing as Liam glared.

“Would you lay off?” Liam’s voice was actually going up. Harry had never heard him get this close to angry before. “I’m allowed to be upset and you guys don’t have to magically fix it with trips or calling me all the time or whatever!”

Harry had played with his spoon while Louis glared back, not one to like getting told off, but Niall actually looked hurt.

“Li, we are just trying to help,” Niall said quietly.

“You should let me be!” said Liam. “Especially you Niall. You are always coming over all cheery. It gets annoying! I know you’ve never had a real relationship and probably never will but you should respect me getting over one.”

Tears had filled Niall’s eyes before he dashed out, food actually forgotten. The next few minutes were awkward with Louis yelling at Liam before Harry suggested they go look for their friend. Louis argued that Niall would just call them when he’s ready but Harry knew how Niall was. If he didn’t get comforting, he would blame himself and it would eat at his friend forever.

So the three had split off to wander. Harry was glancing through all the store windows quickly until a disturbing sight caught him in his tracks.

“Zayn?” he whispered, voice catching in his throat.

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