Copyright © 2014 Izzy Saphira
They had ordered pizza - cheese only because neither of them ate pepperoni - and relaxed on the couch while Zayn read aloud the text from his books.
Elsah rested her head on Zayn’s lap, her eyes focused on Zayn’s face as he read. She liked the sound of his smooth voice, calm as he continued to read about the history of modern genetics. He continued to play with her hair as he read, and she closed her eyes, just listening.
Elsah shifted in discomfort after a bit, and Zayn immediately noticed.
“You okay, Ellie?” He frowned as she sat up, “Are you still hurting? How’s your back?”
“Still hurts,” she grimaced in discomfort. “I thought it would’ve been better by now. It’s not healing as quickly as I thought it would.”
Zayn frowned, setting the textbook down onto the coffee table in front of them. “Do you mind if I see the scars?”
Elsah shook her head, hesitating. “I don’t know…”
Zayn’s frown deepened, but he didn’t push her to show him, “I might be able to get you some healing ointment back when I go to Uni. There’s a bunch of labs there with doctors and everything. I can ask for you.”
“I’d appreciate that.” She said honestly, wishing Zayn would change the subject. Elsah felt uncomfortable talking about this constant, neverending pain. She had grown used to it, so that it didn’t bother as much anymore, and she would be able to forget about it and go on with her life normally, but whenever the topic was brought up, she’d remember again, and the sting would feel fresh once more.
“I don’t know how you did it, El.” Zayn shook his head, his voice almost a whisper.
It wasn’t done because she wanted to, it was done because it was a necessity, and she had no other choice, “Zayn, please, can we talk about something else?”
He sighed, and nodded, “Sure. Do you want to finish reading?”
Elsah nodded immediately, desperate for a subject change. She carefully lied her head back down on Zayn’s thigh, and waited for him to pick up his textbook and pick up where he had left off. “Yes, please.”
And so, as Elsah wished, Zayn diverted the topic from what she felt uncomfortable speaking about, and began reading once again.
By that time, the sun had set, and Elsah had fallen asleep, her legs still kicked up on the arm of the couch, and her head on his lap. He continued to read, although now he read silently, trying to finish as much of the reading he was expected to do by the next class. Page after page, he flipped, reading more and more on the theories and development of angel-like and demon-like beings from the human race.
It continued to get darker in the small apartment, all the light of the day gone, so Zayn reached over to the standing lamp that stood next to him, flicked on the lights, adjusted his glasses once again, and continued reading, Elsah fast asleep against him.
A loud crashing sound came from the door, startling Zayn, who had been deeply engrossed in his studies for the past few hours. Before he could even try to move Elsah without waking her to get up to see what was going on, a tall man with walked in, grocery bags in both his hands and on the floor.
His dark green eyes looked onto Zayn in shock and surprise as he let the remaining grocery bags fall to the floor in surprise.
“Who the fuck are you?” The man demanded.
His dark green eyes stared at Elsah, who was still fast asleep and unaware on Zayn’s lap, and then he flicked his observant eyes upward, staring at the strange man who she was resting her head against.
Zayn’s lips parted in surprise, taking in the man’s dark curls and built stature, and then suddenly, everything clicked.
“Oh my god, please do not tell me that you’re the Harry she’s told me about.” Zayn finally answered him.
Harry’s viridian eyes narrowed, tilting his head to the side. “And what if I am?”
Zayn remained unmoving, still on the couch, but he set the book on the coffee table, careful not to wake Elsah.
“And who are you?” Harry asked again, stepping closer to the two. “Why are you here?”
“I’m Zayn,” Zayn answered, narrowing his eyes at Harry as well, not liking his attitude. “I’m here because she’s my friend.”
“Your friend?” Harry asked, stepping closer to them.
“Yes,” Zayn answered through his teeth.
“Well, you can get the fuck out, now. I’ve got her, you don’t have to worry about her.” Harry finally reached the side of the couch, reaching his hands out to carry Elsah. An unknown emotion coursed through him - something fire hot and angry. He hated seeing Elsah asleep and so relaxed against this strange man he’d never seen before. He didn’t like the fact that one of the man’s tanned arms rested across Elsah’s stomach, and that she was comfortable with him doing that.
Zayn stuck out an arm, pushing Harry away as he approached the two. “No, you can get the fuck out. This is my apartment. I’ve got her, and I’ll take care of her and put her to bed.”
Harry narrowed his eyes in suspicion once again, “so you’re the friend that she’s mentioned that use to live in this apartment?”
Zayn raised an eyebrow, hissing, “Yes, and I’d kick you out in a fucking instant if I knew it wouldn’t upset Elsah.”
A smug smile formed on Harry’s lips, and then he crossed his arms. “You think it’d upset her?”
Zayn sighed, “she cares about everyone too much.” He paused, and then stared Harry dead in the eyes, “And because she does, you better be fucking careful, you hear? If you hurt her in any way, I’ll fucking kill you. That’s not a threat - that’s a promise.” Zayn spat.
“What are you, jealous?” Harry said mockingly. But that was exactly the emotion that was previously unnamed, coursing its way through Harry.
Zayn didn’t answer, instead, he just shook his head.
“And I’m going to be civil towards you when Elsah’s awake, because I don’t want her to be torn between upsetting me and liking you, and I suggest you do the same.” Zayn shook his head once again, sighing. “I don’t know why she decided to befriend you, honestly.”
Harry crossed his arms, acting as if he hadn’t heard a word Zayn said, “so you’re just going to let her sleep on the couch like that, with her neck raised and her body cramped? What great friend you are.”
“Fuck you,” Zayn spit, shifting carefully under Elsah as to not wake her. The man, Harry, was right, and Zayn immediately wanted to get up and carry her back to her bed.
However, once he shifted, Elsah let out a soft sigh, her eyes fluttering open. Her eyes looked up at Zayn sleepily, and then she smiled. “Sorry, I guess I fell asleep.” she grinned sheepishly, and then turned to look at Harry.
“Harry,” she smiled, sitting up. Her hair was a mess, from sleeping on Zayn’s lap for those several hours. “you’re back! Thank you so much for the breakfast this morning, it was lovely.” Subconsciously, as if out of habit, Zayn ran a hand through her hair, taming it back down softly.
At her words, Harry relaxed, and flashed her a smile. “No problem - it was my pleasure, babe.”
Zayn tensed beside Elsah, but she didn’t notice. However, it did not miss Harry’s observant eyes, and the corner of his lip pulled up to a smug smile.
Zayn stood up, a deep frown etched onto his face, “El, you want to go to sleep now?”
Elsah nodded, standing up carefully, her voice still thick with sleep when she answered him, “yeah, I’ll go to bed now.” She turned to Harry, who stood only a few feet away.
She set a hand on his arm, steadying herself as she stood up, “Harry, how are you feeling? Are you okay? Are you feeling better?”
Harry flashed another smug smile at Zayn, quick enough so that Elsah wouldn’t see, and then turned to her. “Yes, babe, I feel better now. Do you want to go to bed? You need your rest.”
Harry leaned into her, pulling an arm around her back and pressing his lips to hers, before pulling away, a smile on his face.
She blushed, looking down onto the floor as to not meet Zayn’s eyes in embarrassment. She had told Zayn about kissing Harry earlier...but still. She wasn’t used to the fact that she was kissing another man, in front of her best friend’s watchful eyes. “Yeah, I’m going to head to bed right now. Goodnight, Harry, Goodnight, Zayn.”
And right before she left, she turned and embraced Zayn in a hug, still not meeting his eyes, and then rushed off to bed.
When Elsah disappeared into her bedroom, Zayn made an effort to completely ignore Harry. He returned to the couch where he had been perched earlier, and picked up one of his books to finish reading his assigned chapters. He had long finished reading what was needed for this week, but he continued on well into next week’s lessons, getting ahead like he always ended up doing. Besides, reading ahead would give him an excuse to further ignore the rude man with the emerald eyes.
Harry wasn’t bothered by the silence, however. He was okay with it, and he didn’t want to speak with the strange university boy that Elsah happened to be so fond of. He didn’t like this ‘Zayn’ or whatever his name was already, his presence in the apartment annoying him.
When Zayn went back to his reading just like he had been before, Harry took that time to pick up the groceries he’d bought from a small grocery store, and restock the small kitchen.
Harry set the bags on the counter, and began to pull out the items he’d purchased. There wasn’t many things he had bought, but they were enough to feed both Elsah and him for a few days. He placed the vegetables in the fridge, wondering how long this Zayn was going to stay with them. Because he’d only bought enough food for two, and he wasn’t going to waste his money on some random guy that just so happened to show up and steal his Elsah.
“How long are you staying here?” Harry stuck out his head from the kitchen, breaking the silence after placing the small box of white packets above the cabinet.
Zayn’s head immediately snapped up, his finger coming up to adjust his glasses. He remained silent for a second, before finally answering, “the question is, how long are you staying? You better not be leeching off of Elsah.”
Harry let out a sarcastic snort, “Of course I’m leeching off of her - that’s why I went out and bought all these groceries for her.”
Zayn ignored Harry’s sarcastic tone, setting the heavy textbook down in his lap, “so how long are you staying with Elsah? And why are you staying with her? Don’t you have somewhere else to go? Where the fuck do you live?”
While throwing all these questions at Harry, Zayn stood up, making his way over to kitchen where Harry was.
Harry looked away from Zayn, stepping to the counter of the kitchen and bunching all the plastic bags together in his hands. “I don’t know,” he replied softly, all trace of his sarcasm gone.
“What do you mean?” Zayn pressed, wary of Harry’s now solemn expression.
Harry exhaled deeply, shutting his eyes for a few seconds. “I don’t have a place to stay right now. I got kicked out by my father.”
Zayn softened his harsh tone at Harry’s words, feeling just a ounce of pity for him. “Why?”
At this, Harry furrowed his eyebrows, shaking his head. “It’s none of your fucking business, okay? Why are you so goddamn nosy?”
And then those short ten seconds that Zayn felt sorry for Harry, vanished. “Because,” Zayn spat, “I don’t want another burden placed on Elsah’s shoulders. She’s already been through so much shit, and I don’t want her to deal with yours. She doesn’t need your baggage.”
Once again, Harry’s tone of voice softened at the mention of Elsah, “what shit? What happened to her?”
Zayn only shook his head, imitating Harry’s earlier words. “It’s none of your business. She’s just been through a lot, and I don’t want you to be another thing she has to worry about. She doesn’t need more things weighing her down. Go find some other person to stay with.” Zayn demanded.
Harry sighed, knowing that this Zayn, who was much too overprotective of Elsah, wouldn’t get off his case unless he assured him otherwise, and so that’s what he decided to do. “Okay, Zayn, listen…”
Zayn tilted his head, recrossing his arms, “what?”
Harry rolled his eyes, exhaling before speaking again, “Okay, well, I genuinely like Elsah, and I think she’s okay with me staying here. I’m not leeching off her - I swore to myself that I’ll be the one to buy everything that I ever use while I stay here, as well as Elsah’s stuff. I don’t have a problem with that, I’ll take care of her. I just need a place to stay temporarily until I can fix my shit up and get back on track.”
“And that’s exactly what I’m worried about!” Zayn growled, shaking his head. “Once you get all you shit together, you’ll just pick up and leave after using her, and I don’t want her to get hurt!”
“No, I won’t.” Harry replied calmly, opening the fridge and pulling out the two liter bottle of Coca-Cola. His hand shook slightly as he reached for the bottle, but he ignored it. “I just meant that I’ll get my own place and stop staying here. I just need a bit of time.”
Harry reached over to one of the cabinets, pulling it open and grabbing two glasses. When he sat them down on the counter, he unscrewed the lid on the bottle of soda, and poured out the drink into the two cups - one for him, and one for Zayn. He used his hands to steady himself, feeling a bit dizzy.