*Winner of Movellas' Fanfiction Royale Competition* "How many nights does it take to count the stars?" | As the boys sit down and pen the final song for their album, they're asked to reflect back on the sudden departure of one of their own members. *Songfic Entry for Fanfiction Royale Competition*


4. l.h



"No fucking way." Zayn said, cautiously looking at the dark blue waves over the edge of the small boat. 

Liam smirked, still a tad surprised that Zayn had even agreed to the little expedition. He figured it must have been the fact that they had been cooped up on that tour bus for so long. But there they were, taking a step forward, rekindling their friendship.

"It's not even that deep, Malik. Don't be a pussy."

"Ay now. You now damn well I don't swim. I only agreed to this because H loved it so much." Zayn replied, lighting a cigerette and remembering how happy Harry had looked when he had come back from his own fishing trip with Liam. It didn't matter that he had cut his finger so deeply he needed three stitches, all he talked about was how beautiful the waves were and how many fish he caught.

It was summer now, hot enough for them to take a dip. Zayn, weary as ever, watched as Liam stripped down and cannon-balled into the cool, crisp water. 

"Come on now! What's the worst that can happen?" Liam yelled.

"I drown?"

"I'm here."

"That doesn't mean shit." Zayn replied, finishing his cigarette. 

"What you don't trust me anymore?"

"Never did." Zayn replied smugly.

"Oh come on." Liam said, wading back to the side of the boat and going up the slippery stairs,.

Zayn watched Liam  with disinterest as he climbed back aboard and shook out his now longish hair. Liam didn't even bother putting a shirt back on, he simply laid upon the cold surface of the ship and smiled stupidly at his friend. 

"Don't give me that look, Payno."

"Why not? You find it endearing."

"Fuck off." Zayn said laughingly.

And it kind of just goes on like that for a while. Both of them making the meaningless conversation they hadn't had in weeks, both just kind of relishing each other's company and the beauty of this incredibly rare type of day.

"Funny, isn't it?" Zayn pondered at one point.

"What's that?"

"That it took you a year to bring me out here."

Liam shrugged, "I know you were jealous that Haz got to come."

He shook his head, "It's not that. I just didn't think it would take this long, you know? When I told you I wanted to come I meant maybe at the end of that summer, not the end of next year."

"Hey, I don't make the schedule." Liam said, slipping on his shades.

"No, but we sure as hell have to follow it." Zayn retorted bitterly. 

Liam tried to ignore Zayn's tone of voice, it wasn't anything new anyway. He had been acting that way since the previous year, after he had gotten engaged. Liam would like to guess that it was just because Zayn longed for his missus, but he knew it was more than that. It wasn't just because of his girl, it was more than that. That didn't mean Liam understood though, not by a long shot. After all, he had been in love as well, he had left his family behind as well. They weren't any different, at least Liam didn't think so. Each and every one of them had left their lives behind in order to pursue their dreams, they knew that something had to give. But lately he kenw it was weighing on Zayn, especially the fact that their contracts were renewed and another concert was announced. 

Liam tried to ignore Zayn's passive aggressiveness, his blatant disrespect, and his bitterness mostly because he just thought Zayn would get over it. Perhaps it wasn't the right thing to think, but he wholeheartedly believed that it was just the homesickness that brought on the change in disposition. That once he realized that he would always have a home wherever he went, he would be okay.

"It's not for much longer, mate. You know that. And we have a break coming up. Why don't you plan a trip with Perrie?"

Zayn shrugged, "It's not something some trip is going to fix."

"What is it then?"

Zayn sighed leaning back and stretching his arms above his head casually, " I just keep thinking about what it would be like if I just stayed in my bed that day. If I didn't let mum drag me out to the audition, if I hadn't made it through."

"You wouldn't be here then."

"Yeah, I wouldn't."

Liam stayed silent.

"I thought it would get better."

Liam still didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. He just felt as if there was a vastness between them, as if he couldn't reach over and pull Zayn towards safety.

"But it just isn't. I mean how could it? Everybody wants a say, everybody wants to judge every fucking thing you do. Everybody wants you, you know? How do you keep being your own person, how do you give yourself completely to the person you love, when millions of others have already taken claim over your life?"


"No. It's fine." Zayn said, shaking his head slowly, "I'm being bloody ridiculous, right? This was supposed to be a fun day. What were we talking about? The new songs you and Louis were writing for the album?"

Liam looked taken aback at the fact that Zayn was deferring so quickly, but he obliged him. Not because he didn't want to talk about it but because as much as Liam may have sworn he would save Zayn if he were drowning, he couldn't. Zayn was up to his neck, and Liam didn't know how to help him.

So Liam simply responded, "Yeah" and the rest of Zayn's thoughts were forgotten about. 

All that remained was the two upon that boat, in the middle of the clear ocean. One unsure of how to swim, the other unsure of how to keep someone from drowning.  


I guess the thing was that I just didn't understand. I still don't to be completely honest. We used to be so good, you know? Yeah, sometimes we fought and sometimes he wouldn't talk, but we always came back to each other. We always knew better than to call it quits. I know it's been hard on him, it's been hard on all of us, but especially him. He's always been a good guy, even more than Harry sometimes, and no one is a nicer guy than Haz. But everybody wanted him, everyone. Maybe that was the thing though, he became lost in that overwhelming sea. He couldn't find his way out. I guess we just didn't see it, I didn't see it. And when he saw that we couldn't help him, I guess he just couldn't keep drowning anymore. Maybe we're both at fault here, but all I know is that he's not with us anymore, and I don't know how to find my way back to him 

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