Chapter 54

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Zayn

On a passing glance the sight of the children scurrying up the grassy hill, picking pretty petaled flowers was one to bring a smile to the face and warm the heart; so innocent and so idyllic. But those who knew knew much better; there was nothing at all innocent about the actions of these little workers; they were harvesting poppies for the drug cartel that employed them, their nimble bodies and swift fingers were far better suited to climbing steep hills and gathering the precious plants than adults. They worked dutifully and diligently, for these were poor children, kids who bore responsibilities far beyond their years and yet knew no other way of being; they had families that depended on them and so grew up quickly. As Liam strolled with his connect, the owner of the farm, and spoke of the landscape and the logistics of the place, Zayn wandered off for he had been made welcome in the land due to his vague resemblance to its residents who took more kindly to him since he looked like he could be one of their own.

"Que pasa hombrecito?"

He asked of a young man with a t shirt tied around his head and a brown sack slung across his body. The boy looked up from his work and smiled a little, looking ready to tease Zayn for his clumsy Spanish.

"Hablo ingles," he offered, holding out his hand in front of him. "Nice meet you?"

Zayn shook his hand, which was slick with sweat and dirt and rough with too much work.

"Likewise. Listen, why you do this? Why aren't you in school?"

The child sighed.

"I miss school. But Papi need help to feed our family? To have house?"

Zayn nodded, understanding quite well and remembering making similar decisions himself albeit when he was a little older than this child who couldn't have been more than thirteen.

"Your English is good. You're smart." He ruffled the boy's hair and looked out over the hills and fields as he thought on the situation. He wanted to help and had the means to do so, but was also well aware of the danger that handing the kid money or seeming to take too much interest in him could put him and his family in. "Does your Papi work out here too?"

The boy nodded and pointed down the hill into the field, where a man stood with a high powered rifle.

"He make us safe."

Zayn nodded and shook the boy's hand again.

"I come back at the end of the work day, and you help me talk to Papi? Yes?"

"Si."

The boy nodded and looked very earnest as Zayn patted his shoulder and let him go back to his work. He jogged to catch up to Liam and the farm owner, and tried to focus his attention back on to the business at hand.

Niall

"Why you so chipper today then mate?" Niall asked while gloating from above his friend as the skinny man struggled to lift a heavily weighted barbell over his head. "Did you get laid last night?"

"Fuck off Irish."

Harry spat but smiled and Niall continued to rib him; it was fun and it cleared his mind for a moment; it gave him a reprieve of sorts, although he could hardly forget what he wanted. What he'd been thinking of wanting.

What he so desperately tried to tell himself he had to stay away from.

"Not my fault you're irresistible." He said with a forced laugh as he spotted his friend and helped him guide the barbell back onto its hooks. "If that's not it then what is it then?"

Harry shook his head and shrugged his shoulders as he started to explain.

"Last night was just odd. We had a fight in the bar and then that bloke you fought that night when I had that brawl with Liam, remember?" Niall nodded; of course he remembered. He was Irish but that didn't mean that he got into bar fights enough to forget one. "Well he comes up to me on the street and hands me this."

Harry fished the little bag of powder out of his pocket and Niall tried desperately not to look too interested in it.

"What the hell?"

He asked with a scoff as Harry rolled his eyes and put the drugs away.

"A gift from Liam Payne."

"You don't say."

Niall kept the conversation going and noted the pocket that Harry returned the hit to. He only barely listened to his friend as he went on about his night, his thoughts were preoccupied; normally he'd have encouraged Harry to prolong his spur of the moment visit to the gym and made him workout a little more despite his lack of proper attire or time; but Niall was not himself at the moment for an unexpected opportunity had shown itself.

"But tonight is going to be even more of a shit show. The Wolf is out of town and Kitten came home so the den is empty, I've got to make my move on it tonight." He explained as he headed towards the gym door. "That's actually what I've come here to ask; you think you could unlock a couple of doors for me tonight; for old times sake like?"

Niall grinned and nodded at a very relieved looking Harry before he pulled him in for a hug, and as he hugged his friend goodbye his nimble fingers travelled lightly to the inside of the skinny man's pocket, and pulled out the drugs that were not meant for him but which he had no qualms about stealing and even less about using.

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