Endless battle.

Sparking up the fag, Zayn let out a happy sigh. He leaned against the back wall of the studio, his eyes drooping shut. After telling the boys that he had quit, having been guilty of their continuously concerned expressions, Zayn didn't know how he had managed weeks without smoking, the boys had kept such a tight gaze on him. But as soon as he got the chance, he had gotten a new packet, and a new lighter, and hid them well in his room.

The boys now thought he had quit for good, when in reality he was just very good at hiding it. He usually didn't have one until he was alone in his flat. The boys had been at the studio all night though, recording and writing non-stop. He had told the boys he was going to call his Mum, since she had the flu, and see how she was.

So he stood outside, pushing away the guilt as he took slow drags from his cigarette. Another happy sigh leaving his mouth as he smiled softly, the familiar sensation of the smoke invading his lungs, engulfing him.

He was so caught up in the feeling of smoke that he didn't hear the footsteps until it was too late. The boy was leant against the wall, his eyes shut, but he snapped them open quickly as he felt a tap on the shoulder. Turning round he immediately cringed as he saw Louis stare at him, disappointment evident on his face.

"Lou, I –" He didn't finish his sentence, simply chewing down on his lip as Louis' eyes flickered from his face to his cigarette.

"Why… I thought you were trying to quit." Louis said, sighing and taking the cigarette off of the younger boy, being careful to avoid the ash.

"I am, I'm trying, I just slip up occasionally." Zayn murmured, scuffing his feet on the ground. Louis raised an eyebrow and Zayn added, "Okay, a lot."

"Have you even cut down?" Louis asked, scanning the boys' face as Zayn's eyes lowered to the ground.

"I did. I stopped for weeks, I just couldn't go on any longer without one… I'm sorry." Zayn said, his eyes wide, he felt like he had betrayed the boy in front of him, who was watching the cigarette burn in his hand.

"What if I inhale this? Would you be happy?" Louis asked, raising the cigarette to his mouth, immediately Zayn's hand reached out and slapped it out his hands, so it lay burning on the ground.

"No way." He said, eyes narrowed, wondering what the hell Louis was doing. "I am not letting you get hooked on something so bad."

"So why let yourself?" Louis asked, raising an eyebrow. Zayn chuckled without humour as he realized what Louis had been doing. "Zayn man, you've got to stop."

"It's hard, Lou." Zayn all but whimpered Louis' arm went around his shoulders, rubbing them comfortingly.

"I know, but I'll be with you the whole way okay? Any time you need a cigarette, just come talk to me, I won't stop you okay? I'll try persuade you not to, but if you can't go without one, and you're really desperate, I amn't going to stop you." Louis suggested, smiling at Zayn's shocked face.

Zayn nodded slowly and added, "Could I, like, maybe keep them with you? That way you'll know when I want to have one, and you can try stopping me easier than if, you know, I tried to hide it again."

"Of course." Louis smiled, glad Zayn was already making progress. The two boys turned to walk through the doors, but Zayn's arm pulled Louis back.

"Can we not tell the boys, please?" He asked, quickly, it was bad enough disappointing Louis, but to disappoint them all.

Louis' eyes flickered between the door and Zayn, before he sighed and nodded his head, "If that's what you want then okay." Zayn was extremely grateful, he knew how hard it was for Louis to keep something from Harry. His arms slid around Louis' neck, hugging him quickly before pulling away embarrassed, and turning to go inside. Louis smiled a small smile, shaking his head, and followed the boy in.

Zayn didn't realize it would be this hard. It was an endless battle with his mind, to smoke or not to smoke. He knew Louis would be disappointed, but he was desperate.

The boy had managed nine days, which in retrospect was mighty impressive, before he turned up at Louis' door, a shaking mess. Louis had opened the door as wide as it could go and gathered the boy up in his arms, rubbing his back gently and muttering soothing words.

At last, when Zayn calmed down and it was simply only his hands that were shaking, he murmured a quiet apology to the older boy, who was still holding on to him tightly.

"You okay now?" Louis asked, keeping his voice quiet, it seemed to fit the atmosphere.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that." Zayn said, straightening his back but staying within the confines of Louis' arms, not yet ready to clamber out of them.

"Don't apologize, this is going to be hard for you, you've smoked for years." Louis said, understandingly.

Zayn smiled at him gratefully as Louis' fingers carded through the tanned boy's hair. They sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments, Louis listening to Zayn's slow breathing.

"Sorry, I should probably go, Harry will be home soon." Zayn murmured, standing up quickly. Louis stood up with him, opening his mouth to protest. He realized he had a weird sense of longing, whether it was for Zayn or simply a longing for him to stay, he didn't know but it still scared him. He hadn't felt like this in a long time, and to have this feeling whilst with his best mate did not seem appropriate to him.

"What?" He asked, when he realized Zayn was talking, which in turn made Zayn chuckle, shaking his head.

"I was saying thanks, for you know…" Louis nodded, understanding that the boy didn't want to admit he was in the process of a breakdown.

"You should be proud of yourself," Louis smiled, holding the door open for him. "You didn't actually beg me for a cigarette whilst here."

"Yeah, fair point." Zayn smiled, it was a good point. He hadn't begged Louis to give him a fag that he knew the boy likely his in his bedroom drawer, he had cried about the fact he felt pathetic for needing one and he had told Louis how desperate he was, and how hard this was, but he never begged for one.

Zayn turned and left, leaving with a small wave at the boy who simply watched him walk away, trying to ignore the small tug in his stomach when Zayn smiled.

It was roughly three months after Zayn and Louis made their deal, Zayn had been starting to cope better. His thoughts were no longer constantly consumed with thoughts of cigarettes. The smell of smoke didn't detour him from his original plans. He could now stand outside with smokers whilst they sparked up, and he didn't have the urge to jump and snatch their fags.

Altogether Louis thought the boy was making sure progress.

The boys had noticed something different was happening with both boys, the close eye Louis kept on Zayn all the time, and the immediate comfort Zayn found in the older boy were sure signs. Liam had questioned Louis about it one day, with Louis simply answering that Zayn was feeling a little homesick and that he was simply comforting him.

Niall had asked Zayn, who had replied with the same answer, he was homesick, Louis simply understood what it was like to miss his younger sisters so was there for him.

Harry was a little more suspicious, Zayn would turn up at odd hours of the night, claiming to need a chat with Louis and the two would vanish in to Louis' bedroom. Usually Harry would assume the two of them were together, but the noises he heard sounded more soothing than something Harry would not appreciate hearing.

The day Zayn snapped was rather frightening for the whole band, though most weren't there to witness it. The boy had been surprisingly calm recently, showing not to be affected by cigarettes at all. Though when he got home it was a different matter.

He had a habit of tearing around, looking for a spare one, looking for fag doubts in the bin even. He would curl up in a ball, he would kick chairs and tables.

When it got too much, and he was choking for a fag, he had no other option than to run to Louis' apartment and pray that Harry was away somewhere.

As soon as the door was opened, Zayn barged in the door and began tearing the entire flat down, shouting out, crying for his fags. He tore the cushions off the chairs and pulled drawers out of their desks. He knocked lamps out of the way and upturned the coffee table. Eventually the entire living room had been scoured and Zayn was yet to find his cigarettes, looking around in shock, Louis noted his main room was an absolute mess. Paper and glass scattered across the floor, his and Harry's couch cushions torn up and oozing with stuffing. The lamp his Mum had given them was broken and there was a dent in the wall.

His eyes flickered from the dent in the wall to Zayn, who was curled in a ball on the broken couch crying, in panic. He sped over quickly, before Zayn got the energy to stand up again, and wrapped his arms around the younger boy.

"I want them." Zayn cried, battering his fists against Louis' chest yet not enough to actually hurt him. "I want them so bad, Lou."

"I know you do." Louis murmured, one hand rubbing his lower back, the other going through his hair. "You're doing so well Zayn, don't give up. You promised you'd try Zayn, so keep trying. You've not gave in once," his hands were now cupping Zayn's face. "Don't give in now."

"I can't." Zayn whimpered, shaking his head, burying it in to Louis' neck. "I need to, Louis."

"Calm down first Zayn, you've got to calm down." Louis said, sternly. Zayn's eyes flashed up to his own. "I'm not giving you anything until you calm down."

Zayn tried to take deep breaths to calm himself, in through the mouth and out through the nose. His fingers curled around Louis' jumper, subconsciously pulling them closer to each other.

It took about five minutes for Zayn's breathing to become regular and his mind to clear from the desperate haze it was in.

As soon as it was gone, he began to feel almost ashamed of what had happened. He could feel Louis' hands continuing to soothe him gently, still muttering calming words. Zayn looked about the room and immediately was hit with guilt, he scrambled up and removed his feet from where they had drifted unconsciously to Louis' lap. "Lou I – your house – I'm sorry."

"It's alright." Louis chuckled, not taking his eyes off of the boy's face as his eyes scanned the room. "Are you alright now?"

"Yeah sorry and thanks I guess." Zayn murmured, trying for a smile at the boy. Louis shook his head, assuring him it was alright and that he needn't be so grateful.

"Are you still craving for one?" Louis asked, shifting a little which made his face closer to the boys, their breaths hitting off of each other. This in turn caused both their breathing to hitch.

"I'm always craving for one." Zayn mumbled, shrugging. "I'll manage."

Louis smiled at him, "I've got faith in you, and – and I'm proud of you."

Zayn simply stared at the older boy for a matter of seconds, his gaze filled with the same longing that had surged through Louis all those months ago, the same longing that had never left him since then, the same longing he felt right now.

"I couldn't have made it this far without you." Zayn murmured, and Louis smiled, they sound like a cheesy, dramatic movie. Zayn's lips twitched too, the two of them shifting closer to one another, sighing at the comfortableness.

Their eyes met and the smiles slowly faded as Zayn bit down on his lip, their faces drifting closer. When Zayn's lips met Louis' he wasn't prepared for the shock that went through his body. He let out a sort of mangled moan and pressed himself impossibly closer. As Zayn's tongue skimmed across Louis' lips, and Louis was prepared on allowing entry the front door swung open and they jumped apart frantically.

Harry stepped in to the house, his mouth open to call on Louis', let him know he was home, when he stopped and gasped. "What in the… Louis what the hell happened in here?" His eyes snapped over to a sheepish Zayn and a sniggering Louis. "If I find out you two shagged all over the place I –"

"We didn't." Louis said quickly, trying to fight a blush as Zayn sniggered. "It's a long story."

"That you had better explain." Harry huffed, Zayn and Louis shared a small smile as Zayn's hand slipped in to the older boys and squeezed it tightly.

Quitting smoking wasn't such an endless battle after all, it was a battle Zayn could take with Louis by his side.