The Romantic & The Cynic

Sky Benson is a romantic. She believes in the happily ever after and Prince Charming on a white horse, mostly. And as a wedding photographer, she gets to live it everyday. She could use a few more adventures but who couldn't.

But her life changes with a phone call. Her friend, another photographer, calls to ask her for a favor. He needs someone to cover a job for him and he wants her to do it. She decides to, thinking of it as a romantic adventure she can tell her grandkids.

Then she meets Zayn, the mysterious boy who doesn't think the world has room for romance. Will she be able to convince him otherwise? Or will she become a cynic as well.


4. Chapter 4: A Piece Of Furniture

The next half hour was spent with Sky having to get introductions to each of the band members and getting the details of what her assignment exactly was, her people observation skills coming in handy as she determined just how the five boys fit together.

Her assignment was relatively simple but very encompassing. She was essentially going to be the band's invisible shadow for the next two months. She would not only be following them in the studio each day and on promotional events when needed, she would also be doing shots during private times when the band was just simply hanging out. The only day she wouldn't be shooting was Sunday, a day to give the band members a day of privacy and her a day off. Originally, she had internally yelled a string of curse words as she had realized she would be shooting a competition boy band that had been packaged together and not the rock band she had dreamed of. She could only imagine what Jessica would say when she called her and told her just who she was shooting. The girl would probably laugh and then ask who was the hottest. But she had to focus on what was being said to her. As she listened to Liam explain the what was expected of her for the third time, she still found her attention drifting and she took a turn around the couches they were spread out across and tried to get a snapshot of each of the men around her.

The one who gave the strongest impression was Liam. He sat in the middle of the group with Sky at the small table and was the obvious spokesman of the group but he seemed to look to each of the other members for confirmation before he spoke. Sky understood that he would be the one that she would have to impress, the one who would be the deciding vote on whether or not she was able to stay on. Deciding or only. While she couldn't say he was hostile, he seemed to want to save his warmth for when he was sure she would be around for awhile.

On one side of his was the curly haired mop of hair named Harry. He had a bright smile and he seemed to love to toss it at Sky. He was the youngest of the group and that seemed to make him want to puff out his chest a bit more and make sure that Sky noticed him.

Beside him on the same couch was Louis, the oldest. He also seemed to be the one who cracked the most jokes, most of them at the expense of Liam. Every time he slid a comment towards Liam, he would gently nudge Harry and wink at Sky, his blue-green eyes twinkling in laughter. She had a feeling that he would be a conspirator that could get her in definite trouble. An absolute must for her to avoid.
On the other side and sprawlled on the arm chair sat Niall. Like Louis, he had a quick smile but his face was fuller and it made Sky just want to reach across the table and pinch those cute Irish cheeks. He seemed to be another one who she had to watch out for and she had an idea that he and Louis could do very bad things together when they wanted to. Bad things that they would think were hilarious but those around them would just shake their heads at and might get Sky fired.

At the moment though, he seemed to be very aware of the dark haired boy who sat near him on the same couch he had bee on when she had arrived. Niall seemed to keep one eye on him as Liam spoke, almost as if he was expecting him to crack apart at any moment. The dark haired boy was Zayn. When Liam had asked all of them to sit down so he could explain the rules and regulations, he had looked up for only a moment before sighing, picking up his sketchbook again and returning to whatever he had been drawing before. Sky found herself drawn to watching him, just as she had when she had first arrive. She let her eyes drift over where his arms were bare and his multiple tattoos were visible, up to his face to see how his lips were a tight line as he drew, his eyes seeming to glare down at the page in front of him. She decided that while he may be the one that would be the most mysterious to shoot, they would be the shots that would be the most interesting to her.

Once Liam seemed to have spoken as much as he could, his eyes flicking between Harry and Louis in annoyance as they threw out comments in regards to what he said, he stood up and held his hand out again towards Sky. She took it and wondered just how the relationship between the two of them would pan out.

"Well, there is no reason to wait," he said as he withdrew his hand and motioned towards the bags Sky had set on the ground beside her. "We've got to get going on recording this song and you've got some photos to shoot."

Sky nodded and picked up the one holding her base camera. "Absolutely," she said as she pulled out the black piece of equipment that felt like it was an extension of her. She took out a lens with it and went to setting it up on her lap. She planned on using today as almost a test, a day to find out where the different men's comfort levels were and how their chemistry played with each other and her. "Just try and act like I'm a piece of furniture and ignore me."

She heard a scoff to her side and figured it was probably from Zayn. She knew she was right when she heard him speak/growl.

"A piece of furniture with a camera to record our every move. Perfect."

Sky decided to ignore the comment and instead took a few random shots of the room to test out the lighting. Liam had insisted that there would be no flash while they were in the studio, saying that the band would find it distracting and Sky had agreed with him. As she reviewed the shots on the screen, she adjusted a few different levels, a few more shots, a few more adjustments and then she was happy with what she was getting.

By the time she had the camera set up the way that had her satisfied, the men had already moved to their positions and their attention was gone from her. Liam and Harry were at the board and Louis was in the booth, getting ready to record his vocals on the song they were working on. Sky had lifted her camera and was framing the picture on her mind when she felt the couch shift beside her and turned to see Niall placing himself on it.

"Hi," he said with his soft accent. "I just wanted to officially welcome you to the crazy world of One Direction. And we are all actually glad to have you here no matter how some people act." He glanced briefly towards where Zayn sat, his hands seemingly stalled over top of the paper. "I am sorry about Liam and Zayn. They just need to warm up to you and then they'll be fine."

Sky nodded. She had dealt with difficult clients before, clients that she had regretted taking on moments after the contracts had been signed. But she was a professional and at the end of most of her contracts, she at least felt like she was liked by the person if not their best friend. This was going to be no different even if it was only for a week. She turned the camera towards the blonde and snapped a shot, the shutter sound like a tonic to her soul.

"It's okay," she said as she lowered the camera and looked at the shot on the camera screen. "I know this can be a bit invasive and I know that it can be hard for some people to take on a constant basis. But I promise, I will make this as painless as possible for everyone."

Niall swung a glance towards Liam first and then Zayn, his brow creasing as he returned towards Sky. "Liam will be fine, he is the one that has to make sure he can trust you and when he realizes that, you guys will be good friends." Niall hesitated for a second, dropping his head when he continued. "It's Zayn I am worried about. He's going through some personal stuff and I don' want you to take it personally if he is a bit gruff with you."

Sky shrugged and snapped another shot, this time one of Louis who was in full singing mode, his face lifted and eyes closed as he sunk himself fully in the song they were recording. She decided not to mention that she had read the article earlier.

"He can't be any worse than the bridezilla who demanded that she only pay for the pictures that she liked. And she didn't like any." She reviewed the shot and liked it. "Honestly Niall, it's okay. I'm a roll with the punches kind of girl. Don't worry about me."

"Okay, just wanted to make sure." Niall smiled at her and motioned towards the camera. "Can I see it?"

Sky swung the camera towards him and showed him the couple of shots she had taken. She also had the shots from the beach the day before and she felt her ego get stroked as he oohed and awed over them.

"You're really good," he said as he looked at a shot she had taken of a silhouetted runner as they made their way along the sunset soaked beach. "Where did you learn to do this?"

"Here and there." Sky had never gone to school for photography, the option not financially available to her earlier and no desire now to return. She truly was self-taught. "I've loved it since I was a kid and was able to pick up enough to make a living."

Niall handed the camera back to her, his smile never leaving his face. "Well, it looks like we're in good hands."

"Niall," they heard from the soundboard. They both looked up and saw Liam staring at them impatiently, his fingers tapping it with a solid rhythm. "It's your turn in the booth."

Niall hurriedly stood up and winked at Sky. "Don't get your pants in a bunch Daddy Direction. I'm coming."

As Niall made his way to the booth, Sky decided now was the time to make inroads with Zayn, the person she knew would be the most difficult to get to know and therefore shoot. She decided to put the camera down, knowing it may cause some friction between them from his comment moments before. This was a reconnaisance mission only. She stood up and softly made her way over to the couch he had ensconced himself in. She sat on the arm of the couch and peeked over his shoulder at the crisp sheet in front of him. He was so drawn into it that he didn't even notice her arrival beside him so she was able to make a quick glance at what had so absorbed him since she had arrived.

The picture on the sheet in front of her was hauntingly beautiful. It was a black and white picture of a young woman, drawn in an almost desperate manner. The lines were quick and harsh, like he was trying to get them down before he forgot. She started pondering if it was the ex-girlfriend she had read about while she had awaited at the airport. She was so deep in thought about it that she didn't even notice that he had stopped drawing and was now looking up at her, his eyes showing clear annoyance.

"Do you mind," he asked, indignation in his voice. "I hardly invited you to look."

Sky felt herself go slightly blush at being caught, remembering the days when she hoarded her own photos, scared of the rejection that she might face if she dared to show them to other people. Jake was the first person that she had showed her photos two and it was a large part of their bond. A mutual admiration of each other's passions.

"I am sorry." She forced herself to look away from the drawing and at Zayn's face. "But it really is beautiful. You have an amazing talent."

Sky watched as he seemed to be stuck before he spoke. It gave her a moment to take in the face that she had only seen in magazine photos and from across the room. And she decided that the past photographers had missed something. They had gotten the mystery, they had caught the twinkle that she knew could be there, they had caught the rebelliousness that he wore like an armor. But they had missed the vulnerability, the little boy that had given a valentine to his first crush only to be rejected in favor of the more popular boy. That was the boy that she was going to photograph, the one she would show to the world if she could. Finally, Zayn spoke. And his voice still held anger.

"Yeah, well it's nothing more than a hobby and not one I share unless I want to." The threat was there and Sky noted it. She would have to earn his trust in ordered to find her way in the notebook, into his mind. And she would have to to complete her assignment. Zayn heard his name called by Liam and stood up, tucking the book in a bag on the floor in front of him. And as he walked towards the booth, he looked back once. To make sure she wasn't looking at the notebook. Sky was sure of it.

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