☠ Chapter Thirty-Seven ☠
➳ LOUIS' POV
"Let's get you home," I whisper to Ari as I hold her close. She's sobbing uncontrollably, and I don't blame her. I saw the way Zayn looked, and it's enough to break anyone's heart.
Not to mention the fact that he forgot who she is. I was standing in the doorway of the room when she ran to his side and held his hand. He stared at her like he'd lost his mind, and suddenly he was asking who she was and why she was holding his hand. It shocked me enough that I had to grip onto the moulding of the door for support.
Zayn had forgotten who Ari was, and I had stood by and watched, all the while knowing the exact second her heart shattered. It didn't help when the doctor escorted me out of the doorway, along with Ari, and told us that Zayn may never get his memory back. God, I can't imagine what his life will be like now. He was a different man when he was with Ari . . . A better man, and who's to know what'll become of him now?
I just hope and pray that he comes to realize just how much Ari loves him, and maybe he'll once again be that man he was when he was with her.
"Here, let's get you some tissue," I softly say to Ari as we pass by a bathroom. I quickly run inside the room, tear some tissue from the box and greedily hand her a massive wad of it.
She mumbles out a, "thank you," before blowing her nose embarrassingly loud. It echoes down the hospital hallway and several people walking about turn to look at her, but then they look away just as fast. They probably suspect she's crying over some death, and I guess in a way, she is. The Zayn who once knew her is gone, erased. The Zayn he became when he was with Ari is probably gone. And her relationship has been obliterated in a matter of minutes. She's crying over the death of her happiness.
I place my hand on her back once she's done blowing her nose and I continue to lead her out of the building. Once we're outside I lead her to the car, help her in, and we begin the trip back to their house.
"Louis, I-" she begins but she stops and looks out the window for a moment while she fiddles with her fingers in her lap. "I can't thank you enough for what you've done for me tonight."
"Don't thank me, we're like family. Zayn's like a brother to me, you know that, and if his girl needs a shoulder to cry on, well then I'm here. Besides, we're friends."
When I look at her, she's wiping her nose again with the tissue. She crumples up a soiled piece of the tissue and stuffs it into the pocket of the jacket she's wearing. It's some leather jacket that I'd assume to be Zayn's, but I don't recognize it.
"Did Zayn get a new coat?" I ask, curious. I know it's not his coat, it's not his style of jacket. Though he wears leather, I don't think he'd be caught dead wearing a coat with so many buckles. It's too . . . biker.
Ari bites her lip when she looks down at it, "yeah," she says quietly. But when I notice that she can't seem to keep eye contact with me, I realize that she's probably lying about it. I'm positive that isn't Zayn's coat, so why isn't she just being honest about it?
"Look, Louis . . ." she picks away at her fingers.
I pull the car onto their street and as we pull up into the driveway, Ari winces and then looks at me.
"Is everything alright?"
"I can't stay here by myself. Can I come spend the night with you and Zoe?" She shyly looks away after uttering her request, but she's silly to think she can't ask me something like that.
"Yeah, of course, Ari. Here, c'mon, I have Zayn's keys. You can pick up whatever you need and we'll go to my place. I'll text Zoe right now to see if she'll spend the night." I get out of the car and Ari follows.
As we're walking up the front steps, I hear her voice from behind me. "How come you have the house key?"
"Oh, after I called for an ambulance, Zayn gave me his car keys. He didn't want the police to take his car as evidence or anything," I explain. I wasn't lying earlier when I told Ari that Zayn had illegal modifications on his car. It was a known fact that the police definitely would confiscate it the second they saw it. That, and Zayn would get fined.
She seems to eye me up skeptically, as if she doesn't believe me, and it pains me to see. I'm not really sure what I ever did to deserve a look of skepticism from her, but I don't exactly welcome the look. I've done nothing but help her over the months since Zayn and her got together, so what the hell? I'm the one that sneakily grabbed Ari's number from Zoe's cell phone. I'm the one that helped Ari move into Zayn's house. I'm the one that told her about Zayn's illegal activities. And now I'm the one that's left to care for her in the wake of his memory loss.
I stick the key into the lock without saying a word about it, and open the door, allowing her to enter first. She carefully steps inside, and stops just inside the entrance. I watch as she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath for a moment before she looks at me, "I won't be long."
Their puppy comes running around the corner, and that's when I realize that the little pup needs to come with us, and I really hope the thing's been trained to know the difference between my carpeting and the grass outside. "What's the dog's name again?" I ask as I crouch down to scratch its little head.
"Her name is Sky . . . Like Skyline." She says it with sadness laced in her voice before she walks around the corner.
After about five minutes of petting the dog, and admiring some of the paintings on the walls - including a new one hung up just inside the door - Ari is done packing her things together. She comes around the corner with a gym sized bag slung over her shoulder.
"I think so," she mutters. "I mean, it's only one night at your place."
"Do you have shit for her?" I point to the dog as I speak. Sky is lying on her back while I scratch her belly. "Doesn't she need like food and toys and shit?"
"Oh, right." Ari puts her bag down and saunters to the kitchen. She pulls out some dog food and puts it into a resealable bag, along with a few bone shaped cookies. Ari grabs a car shaped toy, along with one of those toys that dogs use to tug on, and puts them into her bag. She ensures that she has a leash for Sky, and attaches it to Sky's pink spiked collar.
"Now we're good to go. Have you heard back from Zoe yet?" She slings the bag over her shoulder again while I grab Sky, ensuring that I have a tight grip on her leash. The puppy's still small enough that I'm able to carry her with ease in my arms.
"Not yet. You're sure you have everything you need?"
Ari nods her head, "anything I've forgotten doesn't really matter. I'll be back tomorrow."
"Alright, let's go then."
I allow Ari to exit the house first and she wastes no time in putting her things into the backseat of my car. I ensure that the lights are off in the house, and lock the house with Zayn's key set. Still carrying Sky, I walk to the car and place her carefully in Ari's lap. Once she's ensured me that she's holding tight onto the dog, I close the door, hop into the driver's seat, and we begin the short journey to my flat.
It takes less than ten minutes for us to arrive at my home, and once we do, Ari says nothing. She just cradles the dog like it's the most fragile piece of china and stands beside my car, waiting for me to grab her bag. Once I do, we walk up to the flat and I quickly unlock the door.
"Make yourself at home," I tell her as I step inside and switch the lights on. She immediately places the dog down onto the flooring and places herself onto the couch. I put her bag down, and lock the door behind me before sitting down beside her. "Are you alright?"
She nods her head very little without looking at me, "yeah."
"Ari-" I press.
"It's okay, Louis. I'm fine . . . I just - I need time."
"We'll go see him first thing in the morning."
She stands up from the couch, "I think I'm just going to go to bed. I'm fine, I just feel really tired s'all."
Fucking hell. She's not alright, it's painfully evident in her face, but if she's not willing to talk about it, how am I supposed to help? She's Zayn's girl, I have to help her in some way, but she's making it impossible. My phone vibrates in my pocket, and when I read the screen, Zoe's name flashes across the screen.
Zoe: can't baby. have a test tmr. love u
I don't bother responding to the message. At this point, I don't really think it matters if Zoe sleeps here or not, because Ari's too stricken with grief and sadness to notice. "C'mon, I'll show you to your room."
I carry her bag and lead her to my only spare bedroom. Once inside, she grabs her bag from where I've placed it. She puts it on the bed and begins looking through it for something. After a few moments she curses under her breath and looks through the bag again.
"Something wrong?" I ask. She holds a shirt in her hands, and I recognize it as one of Zayn's.
"No, no, nothing's wrong." She brushes past me and heads straight for the bathroom.
I walk to my bedroom, yanking the shirt off my back, and quickly kicking the jeans off my legs. Once I've placed the soiled laundry into the basket, I head for the washroom to brush my teeth. Ari's no longer in the washroom, so I quickly brush my teeth and then walk to her room again to check if she needs anything else.
But the second I stand at her door, my mouth instantly dries. Ari is standing with her back towards me, in just Zayn's shirt. I instantly think about how fucking fit she looks standing there, but she's Zayn's girl. I try to push back any erotic thoughts but they just shove their way back in when Ari bends over to pick up something she's dropped, the shirt riding up her skin, revealing the bottom of her ass.
When she finally notices me standing there, she shyly tugs at the shirt. "I, uh-" she awkwardly scratches at the back of her head. "I'm sorry about this. This is awkward . . . I forgot my shorts. I usually sleep in shorts, but I forgot them and I guess it's because all I can think about is Zayn and how he's doing and what he's doing and if he remembers me and-"
I raise my hands in defence, "don't worry about it. I just came to check if you needed anything else before I went to bed."
For a moment, I catch her eyes scanning my body, looking at my loose boxers, my abdomen, my chest, and then her green eyes fall on my face. Her eyes draw from my face and she focuses on my chest, where she seems to be reading one of my many tattoos.
"No, thank you. I'll be alright."
I begin to walk away from the room, but I hear her voice calling my name.
"Thank you, Louis. Seriously, you've been a good friend today and I can't thank you enough."
"It's nothing, really . . . Now get some sleep, you need it."
She smiles and nods at me before she walks over to her bed. I watch as she tucks her small body underneath the comforter, before looking over at me shyly. "Goodnight, Louis."
"Goodnight, Ari. If you need me at all during the night, I'm just down the hall."
"Alright," she murmurs quietly.
I walk back to my room, and tuck my own body underneath the sheets. The warmth of the blankets instantly lulls me, and I'm fast asleep.
* * *
In the morning, I wake to find Ari already in the kitchen, fully dressed and ready to go.
"Morning," she greets.
"Morning," I say as I look around the flat. She's managed to clean the entire place. The floors look shinier, the countertop is free of all clutter, the garbage has been removed, ashtrays cleaned, and breakfast is waiting on the table. "Couldn't sleep?"
"No, I-" she pours a cup of juice into a glass for me, and I sit at the table and begin devouring the food. "It's just hard, y'know . . . I managed to walk the dog, and clean your flat. I was just tossing and turning in bed and so I figured I might as well get something done instead of just lying there."
"You should've woken me up. We could've talked, or done something to get your mind off him." I suggest as I stuff a forkful of egg into my mouth.
She raises an eyebrow at me.
"No, I didn't mean it like that. I meant like, we could've played a video game, or watched a movie, or something." I finish off the egg on my plate and move onto the toast. "Thanks for breakfast," I say as I stand up from the table and begin the walk back to the bedroom. "I'll get dressed and we can go."
* * *
When we arrive at the hospital, we immediately take the elevator up to the second floor, and head straight for Zayn's room. When we reach room 203, Ari has to stop outside it and take a deep breath.
I hear voices from inside, and it sounds like Zayn and a female.
"Can you tell me your name?" She asks.
"Fuck, you asked me this question yesterday! I'm not bloody stupid, it's Zayn! Do you need to fucking write that down on your sheet?" Zayn yells.
"Sir, please. This is standard procedure for those who have injured their head, and suffer from memory loss. Can you tell me your age?"
"I'm twenty-one for fuck's sake!"
Ari and I step into the room then, and immediately I hear Ari inhale sharply the second her eyes meet him.
"Sir, I will come back later, and we can try again," the nurse says as she scowls at him before walking out of the room.
"Louis," Zayn says, the instant he looks at me.
"Hey mate, how're you feeling?"
"Fucking ace! But they won't let me out yet. The fuckers are saying I've lost my memory, and now they're testing me every five fucking minutes and it's annoying as hell!" He yells purposely, intending for the nurse, or someone to hear him.
Zayn looks at Ari, but she isn't looking at him. His eyes rake up her body, and he instantly smirks. When he looks at me, he nods towards Ari, and gives me a look that says 'she's hot.'
I raise my eyebrows at him, without saying a word.
"Zayn," Ari says quietly as she takes a step towards him. "Do you know who I am?"
He stares at her, but it's not in the way he used to. He used to look at her as if she was the only person in the world, but now he's just staring at her as if she's another stranger, because to him, she is.
He shakes his head, "no, but I'd like to."
Ari opens her mouth to say something, but she seems a little speechless. "Well, I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Arielle."
"Arielle," he repeats. "It-"
"Hey baby, I'm ba-" a female's voice coming from the doorway draws our attention away from Zayn. When Ari and I turn around, I hear Ari gasp.
Standing in the doorway, is Kit.
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
"What the hell are you doing here?" I immediately snap at the woman.
"What do you mean, me? Why the hell are you here?"
I immediately charge at the bitch, shoving her outside of the room and into the hallway. I pin Kit against the wall by her shoulders. "Why can't you get it through your thick skull, you bitch?"
Kit just wickedly smirks, and it pushes me even further. Seeing Kit near Zayn again immediately has my anger boiling. I've told this bitch to stay away from Zayn many a time, as has Zayn, but she just doesn't get it.
"He's my boyfriend, not yours. He loves me, not you," I make sure to emphasize my point. "Get the fuck out of here, now."
Kit smirks, "oh, but you're totally wrong, Ari."
"You see, Zayn believes that I'm his girlfriend. You're just the sad little girl he slept with once . . . you're me. At least, that's what I've been telling him all morning, and that's exactly what he thinks is the truth."
"You can't get away with that. We live together, Kit. So I'm the one that's stalking him, yet we live together? He'll know that you're lying to him. He'll figure it out."
"You mean, you used to live together," Kit says to me. She struggles underneath me, but manages to pull out a piece of paper from her back pocket. "Have a look at this," she manages to stuff it in front of my face.
Hesitantly, I let go of her and grab hold of the paper. Once I open it, the shock grabs hold of me again, and I instantly feel all of the blood drain from my face. I'm sure I'm white as a ghost as I read the type-written font on the page.
"If you dare to butt into Zayn and I's life, I will tell him about this. Don't think I'll fucking hesitate, either," she spits. "And I don't imagine you want this little secret getting out, do you? Boy did you ever cover your tracks well with this one."
"Wh-" I try to ask her what I'm staring at, despite the fact that I know exactly what this is. It's the deepest secret I've ever had. One that absolutely no one else but myself knew. This was something I'd hid from everyone; something that I really never wanted to get out. But here I was, staring at a piece of paper with the secret written plainly on it, and Kit was the one who'd figured it out.
"Here's how this is going to work," she says as she takes a menacing step towards me. "You're going to leave Zayn alone. Get out of his life. You're going to move out of his house, leave the dog, and never talk to him again. If I hear about you trying to break Zayn and I up, or if I hear about you trying to tell him the truth, I will share this secret with everyone."
"I-" I try to speak, to say something, but I can't. I'm instantaneously frozen, as if some force has caused me to leave my body. It's almost as if I'm standing outside my body, staring at it. Watching as the tears fall from my eyes, and my heart shatters impossibly more than it already has. It feels like her words are wrapped around my throat, and suddenly I'm suffocating. I can't breathe.
I love Zayn, I do, but I don't know that I can risk everything. Kit has me scared for my life, and Zayn isn't here to protect me. He's here, but he's not here. He's laying in the room just twenty feet from me, yet he's doing nothing as my world crashes around me. The man who said he'd always protect me, doesn't even remember who I am. He doesn't love me anymore, and what if he never does?
Is it even worth the fight? Do I fight and claw against Kit, just for the possibility of love with Zayn? Everything always happens for a reason, right? Maybe this was my sign that we just weren't meant to be. This secret is enough to ruin me, and in the state of mind I'm in, I can't even think straight. I feel worthless. And all of this seems pointless.
My life feels pointless.
I can't even utter a word. The paper just falls from my hands and the tears begin a torrential-like pace as they fall from my eyes. Without a second thought, I'm running away from the man I love and the woman I hate more than my own mother.
I hear Louis exit the room, ask Kit where I'm going and he's suddenly chasing after me and shouting my name, but I run. I run as if it'll rid of every problem I'm having. As if I'm able to run away from the problems.
I run and run until my lungs burn, but it's not even close to the pain I'm feeling in my chest.