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.


7. Chapter 7: You Can Go Away Now

Zayn was sitting against the wall, his body shaking as sobs seemed to almost break him with every breath. He wanted to make them stop but found it impossible. Each one was a new twisted pain, a new stab at his battered heart. He heard light footsteps coming from around the corner and tried to swallow the pain and tears but found himself unable to.

"Zayn?" Sky poked her head out from behind the corner a second later and out to where Zayn sat, leaning her head against the cool brick wall. "Are you okay?"

Her calm voice sounded genuinely concerned. She slowly made her way around the corner and set herself beside him. He could tell that she was desperately forcing herself to not be awkward and it was failing miserably. He appreciated the effort anyway but still refused to speak to her, if only because he couldn't get his words telling her to leave past his choked throat.

Sky then did something that he wasn't expecting. He had expected her to tell her that all would be well, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that he would find his one true love. All the things he had been hearing for two weeks. He was sure the other guys had told her what had happened and why he had been acting the way he was. A spoiled brat was the description that came to his mind. She had to know at least that he had broken up with someone from the magazines she surely read along with everyone else in the world.

But she didn't say anything. She merely sat in silence as if waiting for him to speak first. She didn't follow up her question and seemed to be okay with letting him have the moment to himself.

After a few more minutes of silence, Zayn was finally able to control his sobs and they were no longer roughly tearing out of him. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of the hoodie he was wearing and leaned his forehead on his knees. His chest hurt from the intensity of the sobs that had coursed through him and his eyes itched from the tears. He was embarrassed from having Sky see him like that and he felt himself unable to look at her. He knew she was still sitting beside him and wondered when she would give up and leave. She didn't.

"You seem to find a way to be around when you aren't wanted." He let the words fly like arrows, hoping to make her want to get away to defend herself from them.

Sky shrugged her shoulders and shifted her position slightly so the brick wasn't digging into her shoulder blades. She lifted her arm and checked her watch. The boys would probably be already up at the front of the studio by now if not soon.

"You looked like you were upset. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay." A statement of the apparent.

Zayn slid his eyes to her through his arms, seeing that she was staring straight ahead and not at him. A part of him appreciated it but he still wanted her desperately gone.

"You seem to have a real grasp of the obvious," he said as he looked back towards the ground. "And before you ask what's wrong, yes I just broke up with my girlfriend, yes the world sucks and yes you can go away now." He decided to get the elephant out of the way. She was nosy but not stupid.

Sky hesitated for a moment before pushing herself up and brushing the debris from her legs. She slid a pair of aviator sunglasses on her face and checked her watch one more time.

"I have to get my car. The guys are probably already up at the front and waiting for us. I'll tell them you'll be there when you are ready." The words seemed deeper than just the current moment but she didn't elaborate. Instead, she pulled out her keys and started to walk towards where he assumed her car was parked. As she walked away, he turned his head to see her briefly look over her shoulder at him one more time and spoke, her voice soft but firm. "You are going to have to realize that I am not the enemy. The sooner you do, the easier this whole thing will be."

Zayn remained seated for a few moments more then forced himself up. He wiped the last batch of tears, stomped out the remaining half of the barely smoked cigarette and looked around quickly to make sure that there were no paps lurking around to catch the embarrassing moment. He didn't see anybody but there were no guarantees that they hadn't been lurking and caught it anyway. It might still show up tomorrow. He walked around the corner that he had come from and headed to the front of the building, where the rest of the guys would be waiting for him.

As he reached the waiting area, he saw that Sky had already pulled around and was leaning against the car talking to Louis. When he approached, she quickly glanced at him but made no comments. The conversation lulled but did not stop and no one mentioned his unexplained absence or his red eyes that had appeared during it. With his arrival, the entire group was there and they all piled into their respective cars. A bodyguard/babysitter named Paul would be driving the SUV that carried most of them while Louis would be following behind in the car with Sky. The bodyguard had been hesitant to allow Louis to drive alone but he let it go when the young man insisted it would be fine and they would never be separated.

The drive from the studio to the house they were renting and all staying took excruciatingly longer than the usual hour due to traffic. The entire time Zayn went back and forth between wondering just how the people who lived here dealt with the traffic on a daily basis and secretly cutting Harry and Niall's vocal cords as they gushed over the possible new member of their team. He desperately wanted to light up another smoke but the rental company wouldn't allow them to smoke in the cars. Instead he pushed himself in the corner of the seat he was in and pulled his hood over his face, signaling to Harry, Niall and Liam that he was not in the mood to share in their conversation, not that that was anything new recently. He still had to listen to it though.

"She is definitely a gorgeous bird," he heard Niall say to Harry. "I would rather look at her all day than that Jake guy we had originally."

"Hey," Harry scoffed. "You've already got Amy back home. Keep your hands off."

Niall laughed and it grated on Zayn's tired brain. "It's not like we have anything going on officially. We're free to do whatever we want."

Zayn groaned and pushed himself deeper into his sweater. Eventually, he was able to let the conversation flow over him and he fell asleep, letting the other two boys argue about just who was going to marry the photographer even though Harry was the only truly single one.

In the other car, Sky enjoyed the breeze blowing through her hair as Louis drove the car down the highway. Cliffs were on one side, ocean on the other and and blue ahead of her and Sky felt herself thinking that if she could impress Liam enough during the first week that there were definitely going to be perks to this job she wouldn't have in Austin. She still was wondering just what Jessica's response would be to her when she called her that night and told her just who she would be shooting. She had a strong suspicion that Jessica would be planning a trip out to visit the sun-kissed city very soon. She forced herself to focus on Louis when she heard him ask her a question.

"Sorry," she said as she turned to face him. "I got a little distracted by the beautiful scenery. What was the question?"

"I was just wondering what got you into photography. You do beautiful work from what I saw today." Louis had sneadked a peek at her portfolio durin gthe day and had seemed impressed.
Sky blushed at the compliment. She was confident in her abilities but it was still strange to have someone else vocalize it.

"I just like capturing the memories and the emotions that come with them." That was the simple answer. The one that she gave to the people who asked but didn't know her, didn't know her story. "They can be so fleeting, so quick to pass you by. I hope to facilitate other people not losing them by being the invisible observer." She understood the concept of loss well but refused to let it hang on her like an overcoat.

Louis nodded as he drove, one hand on the steering wheel, the other draped over the the door of the car. He looked loose and free as the wind blew his normally perfectly coiffed hair from it's confines and the sun hit his smiling face.

"I guess this is a bit different job than what you are used to. The photos I saw were mainly weddings?" His voice held no disdain, no superiority to it. Sky was glad because she was nervous that whoever she had ended up shooting would hold that against her. She hadn't got that impression from anyone, except for Zayn.

"Different setting, same principle." Sky leaned her head back and felt the sun on her own face. "A good photographer senses the emotions going on around them and distills it in film. There's the technical stuff with composition, balance, lines and stuff but if I can't create an emotion when someone looks at the photo, I haven't done my job."

"That sounds the same with us and our music. We want to have our fans feel something, anything when they hear a song."

Sky hadn't thought about it that way. How music and photography were really trying to achieve the same thing in the end but just with very different mediums.

The rest of the car ride passed in comfortable conversation. Louis could be silly sometimes, serious others. Sky enjoyed their conversation during the drive that ended up lasting an hour and a half and when they finally reached the curving road that led to the large house they were renting, Sky felt like she had made a new friend.

Louis pulled the car up the driveway behind the SUV and stopped in front of the most beautiful house she had ever seen. When she had thought of Malibu, she had thought of houses stacked beside each other with no room to breathe but the house the band had rented was a large bungalow with space separating it from the ones on each side of it. It was wood and glass and screamed beach.

Louis stepped out of the car and came around to Sky's side to gentlemanly open the door. She slowly swung herself out of the car and resisted the urge to immediately grab her camera and start snapping the photos she was seeing in her mind.

"Pretty spiffy, eh," Louis said as he stood with his hands in his pocket. "Ain't got anything like this back in rainy London. We decided we might as well splash it out if we were going to be here for awhile. It's costing us a fortune but what's money. Come on and enjoy the view out back. Harry wasn't lieing about the sunset."

Sky, her cameras slung over her shoulder, followed Louis and the other guys through the front door and into the house. The inside was just as stunning as the outside. The materials were all smooth and polished and let the setting orange sun shine off of the slick surfaces. The main room was entirely open with comfortable chairs, couches and pillows spread throughout. The back was a full wall of floor to ceiling windows and opened up to the view of the house wide patio and white sand beach.

The band spread out and sunk on couches or chairs as they began to relax. Sky decided that she would test the boundaries she would be working with and slid her camera out of the bag it was packed in before screwing on the lens and starting to snap candid shots. She started with shots of the house before beginning to take ones of the guys. She began with Louis who was on his phone, the smile on his face infectious as he could only be talking to Eleanor, his longtime girlfriend. Then Niall as he sat on a barstool, a guitar in his hand as he strummed a loose tune that he had started earlier in the day. Finally, Harry and Liam as they sat on the couch in front of the television, chatting as they surfed random channels.

And then there was Zayn. She was unsure of just what had transpired as they had sat in the parking lot together but so far apart. Her heart had broken with his as she had watched his body heave with sobs that seemed to physically break him. She had been unsure what to say to him to make the pain dissipate for even a moment and so had decided not to say anything at all. He seemed the type who didn't like extra words and so she hadn't given him any. He was currently on another chair around the television but was focused solely on his quickly retrieved notebook.

Louis hung up the phone with a quiet I love you accompanied by a guilty gaze at Zayn before walking over to the others and clapping his hands together.

"So, who are we going to trust with those steaks," he said as he grabbed the remote from Harry's hand. "I for one am starving which means that Niall must be on the edge of fading away."

"Hey," Sky heard from the stool in the corner. "I find that offensive. On some level. I should at least, I'm sure of it."

Harry grabbed the remote back and turned the channel again. "We all know that I am the only one who can cook and I want to catch this before I start." A familiar tune of the Entertainment Tonight opening came from the television and Harry sighed in contentment.

Louis sighed and threw an arm around Sky's shoulder. "Harry is a bit of an enthusiast for the whole celebrity show and hates to miss it."

"Hey, I got to know who I am dating, don't I? I mean, what if I'm missing an amazing date or something." Harry smirked as he settled into the couch and set the remote beside him. "It's important information."

But the pictures on the screen were not of Harry and his supposed fling of the week. Instead, they were of the one person none of the band members wished to see, the one person who could cause the most pain to a very sensitive member. The anchor's voice came floating across the pictures.

"New details today on the breakup of Zayn Malik and Perrie Edwards and the proof of the cheating rumors that started it all."

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