Chapter 22 - Christine

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"What?" I heard myself ask. My body had gone into some strange sort of autopilot and I couldn't control what I was saying. All I could think about was the fact that I had made very poor decisions last night and that Zayn was there to witness them. But then again why should I care what Zayn thinks of me?

Because at least he's thinking of you, my subconscious added. As much as I hated the thought, I knew it was true. Every night before I went to sleep I would look out my window at the stars and wonder if Zayn was thinking about me. It hurt so bad to entertain the thought that he didn't even think of me at all. I think that was the worst part of this whole thing. I cared more than anything and he couldn't care less.

"We got into a bit of a row, but he came upstairs and he told me was worried about you," Liya said looking into my eyes. My heart instantly began pounding faster. Zayn was worried about me?

"Why would he be worried about me?" I asked taking a seat next to her. I needed to give her my undivided attention.

"Look at yourself, Christine," she said motioning at me. My dress had mud and alcohol stains on it and saying I was suffering from a bad case of bedhead would be an understatement. I sighed in disbelief. I remember promising myself that when I saw Zayn again I would look great. He would see that I'm not the same boring girl he left here years ago, crying in the rain and hugging his hoodie. I had changed for him and he would see that and think I was cool and daring and bold. Instead, he saw me at my lowest and most vulnerable. He probably thinks I'm a crazy slut.

"I know I look like hell. It's just that Zayn being back has taken a toll on me like you wouldn't believe. I didn't want to talk about it because I felt so pathetic. But honestly I'm falling apart, Liya," I said throwing myself into her arms and sobbing.

"There, there, love," she said stroking my hair. I let myself focus on her hands petting my hair because it was the only thing I could think about that didn't make my inside burn with confusion and frustration. This still didn't add up though...

"Why was Zayn there?" I asked her quickly standing up. He didn't follow me, or did he?

"He was taking a walk with Safaa. He said he noticed you struggling and followed you and the Irish guy. He was trying to take advantage of you but Zayn was there, lucky for you. They ended up getting into a fist fight, I know that much from Zayn's swollen knuckles. Then he said you smashed the bloke over the head with a whiskey bottle and ran off. Do you remember any of this?" she asked, her quizzical eyes boring into mine. I didn't know if she would be more disappointed if I appeared proud for knocking the guy out or if I didn't remember my eventful night. Well, I wasn't going to lie, I don't remember any of it. I was almost taken advantage of, and I didn't remember any of it.

"Liya, truth is I don't even remember how I got home," I confess. I'm trying to picture the events Liya just described unfolding but it's just so surreal. Zayn has never been the fighting type, I have never been the fighting type, and if this really did happen why did I run away from him?

I spent the last four years fantasizing about him rescuing me in one way or another, even if he didn't rescue me I just wanted him to be back home. Back in Bradford where he belongs. With me. But there last four years I've also built up walls that aren't going to be easy to break down, even by Zayn. I wore my heart on my sleeve for him and he let me go without even so much as acknowledging it. After he left I became the girl that didn't date any guy for longer than a month, the girl who had a total of three friends, the girl that went to parties every other night and had sex on the first date. I wasn't happy with who I'd become, but it was safer than being who I used to be. This way I didn't get my heart broken, I was the one breaking hearts.

"You asked me to keep him away from you. Why?" Liya asked. Her eyes weren't quizzical like before, they were just big and brown and loving, just like her brother's.

"I started to rebuild without him. I'd barely picked up myself from the rubble that him laving caused and I was finally starting to feel okay, and then he shows up. I guess I thought that if he stayed away I could pretend like he wasn't here and just keep moving forward. But the truth is just looking into his eyes sent me back five steps when I'd only taken one forward," I said looking down at the floor. The humiliation wasn't what was making me avert my eyes from Liya's. It was the pain.

She put her hand on my chin and made my eyes level with hers. "You can't pretend he's not here, because you know he is. Now you can go back to the way you were when he was on X Factor and sit in your room and cry, which you have been doing for years, or you can take option B, which you haven't had until now. You can talk to him. I know what you feel for him is stronger than anything I've seen before so you owe it to yourself to at least spend some time with him before he leaves," she said before taking in a sharp breath of air. I'm sure she didn't mean to include the "before he leaves" part.

"That's the problem, though. When he leaves, where will I be? Will I be worse off than before? I don't want to feel like that again," I say putting my hands to my stomach as the pain floods back.

"I'm not going to force you to. And if you want me to I will still keep him away. But the one thing you can't change is that he's going through a very tough time right now and he needs someone. And me and Mum aren't the ones he needs," she told me.

I remembered all of the secrets that Zayn and I had shared over the years, the way we weren't embarrassed to cry in front of each other, the way we were the only ones that could make the other feel like the world wasn't going to cave in. We used to be best friends, that was something I couldn't argue.

"Why don't you take a shower and freshen up? It will give you time to think. We can go to a movie tonight, or something," she said standing up and pulling me into a tight hug. I don't deserve a friend like Waliyha.

After she left, I went straight to my bathroom and took a long shower and played everything back in my head. Seeing Zayn on the staircase, seeing him the night before he left, the parties with Poppy, the Irish guy, everything. My head was still pounding but I knew it wasn't the alcohol anymore.

I wrapped a towel around my hair and one around my torso and waddled to my bedroom. When I opened my bedroom door I realized I'd left the curtains open. I looked across the synapse between my house and Zayn's: he had left his curtains open too. My body froze instantly.

He wasn't in the room, which was a relief. What made my body tense was the state of his bedroom. All of the posters and banners that had once hung there were all torn or completely peeled off the wall. Just like they were the night Zayn's father, Yaser, died.

At that moment I knew that I had to swallow my feelings and be there for the guy that meant everything to me, even though I didn't mean enough for him. I knew that if all of those things I said about loving him were real, I had to do this. I couldn't leave him alone in his time of need. Not now.

Not ever.

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