I Wish – Chapter 33

Sunday, June 24 2012
Houston, TX

“Hey!” Brittany shouted, sticking her head out of the window of her tour bus once it was parked. “Isn’t there supposed to be security to prevent people like you from hanging out here?”

Outside the venue there was a girl sitting against the wall with long dark hair, simply reading a magazine. She looked at Brittany and grinned as she stood up.

Brittany came darting off her bus and dashed towards the girl, wrapping her in a tight hug. “Oh my God, Char,” she said once she pulled away. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you.”

Charlotte, who was Brittany’s best friend, grinned. “Likewise,” she smiled. “I’ve missed you around here,” she laughed, then quickly glanced over at Niall, who was sleepily walking off the bus and heading towards them. “And who do we have here?” she asked cheekily.

Brittany rolled her eyes as she looked at her friend. “You know who he is.”

“I know, but I think I need to be formally introduced to your boyfriend,” she winked, stressing the last word.

Brittany blushed a little, but quickly recovered. Niall approached the two girls and slipped his hand around Brittany’s waist. “Charlotte,” Brittany said, nodding at her friend, “this is Niall. My boyfriend,” she stressed jokingly. “Nialler, this is Charlotte. My best friend from high school.”

Niall smiled and reached out to shake Charlotte’s hand, which she gladly accepted. “Nice to meet you.”

“Oh my God,” Charlotte said, grinning at him. “You should just never stop talking, ever.”

Niall looked quite pleased with himself, and Brittany looked up at him with a smile. “Yeah, he’s adorable,” she shrugged, as if it were no big deal. “And he’s all mine,” she finished, planting a kiss on Niall’s cheek.

“God,” Charlotte gushed. “You two are just the cutest.” She turned her attention to Brittany. “Are you doing anything today? Are you free for lunch with the group?”

Brittany thought about that for a moment. “I think I’m doing a radio interview this morning, but after that I’m free, yeah,”

Charlotte grinned and clapped her hands together excitedly. “Great! I’ve already made reservations at Babe’s. And obviously you can bring Niall too.”

Brittany smiled, grateful for the opportunity to see all of her friends, but shrugged a little. “I don’t know, I’m sure he doesn’t want to-”

“Of course I want to,” Niall interrupted her, looking at her approvingly.

But Brittany sighed and looked back up at Charlotte. “Okay, well… you told Jess to cool it, right? Because she got all weird and fangirly when she found out who I was going on tour with and you know… I don’t want to have to deal with that. And I don’t want Niall to have to deal with that…” Brittany trailed off, waiting for Charlotte’s reply.

But Charlotte just bit her lip. “Yeah… Jess isn’t coming.”

“What?” Brittany asked, raising her eyebrow. “Why?”

“Um… she sort of hates you now.”

“What?!” Brittany asked in disbelief, glancing at Niall, who only shrugged. “I haven’t even been here! What could I possibly have done?”

Charlotte glanced at Niall, and then glanced back at Brittany, hoping she would get the hint.

She did. “Oh God,” Brittany groaned. “Are you serious?”

But Charlotte just waved her off. “Whatever, she’s an idiot for believing all that crap on twitter. And it’s her loss anyway ’cause now she doesn’t get to come to lunch with us.”

“Yeah,” Brittany said, trying to smile through her annoyance. “I guess you’re right.” She locked Niall’s hand with her own and he squeezed it tightly. She tried not to let it bother her. Her true friends knew and could very easily see how much she truly loved Niall and how happy they were together.

And that was all that mattered.

***

“Absolutely not,” Paul said firmly, when Niall had floated the idea past him of going to lunch with Brittany and her friends.

“Come on, Paul,” Niall practically begged, sitting at the kitchen table on their tour bus. “I’ll even bring one of the other lads with me, it won’t look like a date or anything.”

But Paul stood his ground. “You heard what Leslie told you. You’re not supposed to get anymore press about you and Brittany, and going out to lunch with her isn’t going to help that. Let her go with her friends, you can stay here.”

Niall gave Paul a look. He really hated to argue with him, most of the time because he didn’t win. “I just want to go out to lunch with my girlfriend,” he muttered. “I want to see where she lives and meet the important people in her life like a normal boyfriend would do. I know we’re not supposed to be out in public together because of what a few people on twitter might think, which I think is crap, to be honest with you.”

“You’re not going to change my mind, Niall,” Paul said, shaking his head. Niall looked up at him with a pout, but Paul just put his hand on his shoulder. “If it were up to me, I’d let you go, but it’s Leslie’s job to make you lads look good. You’ve got to respect that. In time it’ll be okay for you and Brittany to go out together in public, but not now.”

Niall just nodded. He knew Paul was right. He had to keep their relationship under wraps for the time being not only to stop any potential damage to his career, but to Brittany’s as well. The last thing he wanted was for her lose any fans just because she was dating him.

So he walked off glumly to his bunk and tuned to the radio station that Brittany would be doing her interview on shortly. It wasn’t like he had much else to do.

“This is 104.1, Houston’s number one hit music station! I’m here in the studio with the lovely Brittany Cooper – our hometown girl who just happens to be performing at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion tonight with One Direction! Brittany, what’s it like to be home? How’s your summer been so far?”

“It’s great to be home! Though, honestly, I haven’t been able to see much of it yet. We pulled into the venue parking lot and I pretty much came straight here! But I can’t wait to perform tonight. So many of my friends are going to be in that crowd, I’m a little nervous about it.”

Niall smiled a little to himself. He could practically hear Brittany’s grin radiating through his headphones.

“We’re sure the show’s going to be great. Now, let’s talk tour. You’re out there with five guys, you’ve got to have some fun stories from the road, can you share some of them with us?”

“Uhh…”

Niall laughed a little as he heard Brittany hesitate. It wasn’t that she didn’t have any stories, quite the opposite, but any that she could actually tell?

“You know, just hanging around the guys themselves is really fun. They’re really crazy guys and you can tell they genuinely love doing what they’re doing. It’s a great environment to tour in.”

Niall sighed a little at that. He didn’t think the environment was go great at the moment. But that was his own doing. And partially Harry’s. And he supposed Brittany’s as well. He just listened as the DJ continued to question his girlfriend about anything but her music.

“So Brittany, you’re home now, and coming home usually means gushing and gossiping about your trip with friends. So I’ve just got to ask you, you were dating Harry, what happened with that?”

“Yeah,” Brittany laughed a little. “We were sort of dating. It wasn’t very serious. The tour’s coming close to an end so we’re just going to be friends for the time being.”

Niall shook his head. Nothing could really be further from the truth than that. He wasn’t sure Brittany and Harry would ever be friends. He also didn’t like it when anyone made mention of the fact that the tour was coming to an end soon.

“Makes sense… so what about the rumours about you and Niall? He went with you to New York and people spotted him kissing you.”

“We’re just friends… and I think it was just a kiss on the forehead? He’s really sweet… but I’m definitely not kissing him!” she laughed.

Though it shouldn’t have, hearing that bothered Niall a little bit. He knew it was just for the press – and that Brittany definitely had kissed him (and a lot more) and would continue to do so. He just really hated having to lie so often. He had finally found a girl he loved and wanted nothing more to tell the world how happy he was. Instead, he found himself having to deny he had any sort of feelings for her that weren’t platonic.

He just had to hope that things would get better for them sooner rather than later.

***

It was late in the afternoon when Brittany finally arrived back at the venue after her radio interview and spending lunch time with her friends in the city.

She walked briskly over to her bus, hoping to find Niall there. She hadn’t seen him all day, and was missing him terribly. Especially after going through the emotional rollercoaster of having to lie about him on the radio, and then gushing to her girlfriends about how much she loved and adored him.

And really, all she wanted to do was hug him and kiss him and repeat those words over and over again.

Instead, she nearly crashed into Harry on account of being so lost in her thoughts.

“Sorry,” she muttered, looking at him awkwardly.

“Fitting,” Harry scoffed. “I’m always in your way when you’re trying to go see him.”

Brittany rolled her eyes at his dramatic remark. “Knock it off Harry, don’t you think it’s getting old?”

He shrugged, looking down at her small frame. “Not really. He made his choice.”

Brittany raised her eyebrow, not really understanding what Harry meant by that. “You know he didn’t mean to hurt you right? I think he even apologized to you so I really have no idea why you’re still so annoyed with him, because really Harry, can’t you see that this is killing him?”

“It can’t be killing him too badly,” Harry said passively. “I told him how he could make it up to me, and he didn’t do it.”

“How?” Brittany pressed, both curious and still somewhat annoyed with Harry’s attitude.

“It’s simple really. I told him that things were fine between us before you came along. So if he broke up with you, it could all go back to normal.”

Brittany very nearly felt her heart stop in her chest. “W…what?”

Harry just continued, looking at Brittany with an expression she couldn’t read. “I figured he’d made his choice, since it doesn’t seem like he told you about that, and he still walks around kissing you and holding your hand. It’s sad really, he cares more about you than he cares about his friendship with me. With any of us, probably.”

Brittany bit her lip. She knew that wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Harry just didn’t understand. Niall was visibly hurt by the whole situation, but Brittany also knew that he loved her. Maybe he loved her too much, if there was such a thing.

What she did know for certain, was that every time she saw Harry and Niall look at each other wordlessly, her heart broke. But now… now she had an opportunity to fix it.

The thought of being without him hurt, there was no doubt about that. She loved Niall, yes. She loved him so much that she was willing to let him go if it meant it would save his friendship with Harry, and down the line, his career.

“Okay,” Brittany said weakly.

“Huh?” Harry asked, looking at her oddly.

“I’ll have to finish out the tour… but I won’t be with him anymore. If you guys can go back to being friends.”

Harry looked at Brittany in astonishment. He certainly hadn’t expected her to say that.

“You guys would go back to being friends, right? That’s what you said,” Brittany said slowly, not believing the words that were coming out of her mouth.

“Y…yeah,” Harry replied.

Brittany sighed and looked at the ground. She didn’t want to leave Niall, but she also didn’t want to be the reason for the demise of his and Harry’s friendship. She didn’t think she’d be able to live with herself knowing that Niall had lost one of his best friends due to her stupidity.

It broke her heart, but the smart thing to do would be to walk away.

“Okay,” she said again, taking a deep breath. “I’ll talk to him after the show.”

***

After the show that night, Niall rushed over to Brittany’s bus. He’d been missing her all day and hadn’t seen her since the morning. He’d been getting ready for their soundcheck when she’d come back from lunch, and before the show she’d been too busy doing something else to see him.

At least, that’s what she’d told him in a text message anyway. If Niall hadn’t been so trusting of her, he’d have thought she was avoiding him. But that couldn’t have been the case.

“Hey,” Niall said, once he stepped onto her bus and moved over to give her a kiss.

And instead of just the quick peck that he’d intended, Brittany leaned into him, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. When she pulled away, she looked at him sadly.

“What was that for?” he asked cheekily.

“I love you,” she said seriously, looking at him. “I love you so, so much.”

“Okay…” he said warily. “I love you too.” He leaned in to kiss her again, thinking she just wanted to have sex. Which he was definitely okay with.

But Brittany gently pushed him away. “Nialler… promise you won’t hate me.”

Now she was beginning to scare him. “What’s going on?” he asked bluntly.

“I talked to Harry,” she said slowly.

Niall felt his stomach drop. Suddenly it all made sense. She had probably asked Harry to stop being such a prick, and Harry had probably told her that he’d be more than forgiving if Brittany were to just leave. “And?” he asked, his mouth suddenly feeling very dry.

“I’m staying here in Houston for the night and I’ll fly to Atlanta for the show on Tuesday, but when I get there you and I won’t be… you know…” she trailed off, not wanting to say the words.

“Harry told you to break up with me?” Niall asked her, somewhat annoyed.

“No,” Brittany shook her head. “He said that he told you to, and that you wouldn’t. That you’d made your choice between me and your friendship with him, but I can’t let you do that,” she breathed, blinking back tears.

Niall couldn’t quite decide how to react. He wanted to yell at Brittany and tell her that it didn’t matter, that Harry was the one being ridiculous now and that her leaving him wasn’t going to change what had already happened. He also understood where she was coming from – it wasn’t fair to put her in the position of coming between his friendship with Harry.

Niall understood that she was trying to do the right thing, he just didn’t like it.

“So that’s it then?” he asked plainly. There was a distinct lack of emotion in his voice, party because he couldn’t believe that this was happening.

Brittany just nodded and wiped a tear from her face.

Niall took a deep breath and moved in to hug her. She didn’t stop him this time. “I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” she mumbled, choking back a sob.

He pulled away from her and turned to leave. Before opening the door he looked back at her. “I guess I’ll see you in Atlanta,” he shrugged, not really knowing what else to say.

She just gave him a sad look and a small wave. Niall sighed to himself and walked off her bus.

As soon as he did so, he felt himself bubbling with anger. He knew that the way he’d gone about getting to be with Brittany was wrong. He knew he should have told Harry that he loved her and he knew that going to New York and ditching his friends probably hadn’t been the best idea.

But still, he really didn’t think he deserved to have to go through all of that for nothing.

He stepped onto his own bus and saw the rest of the boys sitting at the kitchenette.

“Hey Nialler,” Harry grinned at him, as if nothing had happened and everything was back to normal. “What’re you doing here?”

Except that it wasn’t back to normal, and the fact that Harry was taking such pride in the fact that Niall was very clearly miserable made him that much more angry.

“Don’t,” Niall said shortly, walking up to him and leaning over so he was nearly in his friend’s (if you could call him that) face. “I reckon you know exactly why I’m here. You had to go and tell Brittany you wanted us to break up, didn’t you? That everything would be fine if she were to just leave.”

Harry shrugged. “Hey mate, you could have told her yourself… but I guess you’re not very good at that, are you?” he laughed a little and Niall glared at him. “Sorry, it was just a joke. We can laugh about it now, can’t we?”

“No!” Niall nearly shouted. “We can’t just laugh about it now. You don’t really understand, do you? You were just with her because she was convenient for you, but I love her. I. Love. Her. And now she’s gone and it’s because you couldn’t suck it up that you were the one who lost!”

“Sorry mate,” Harry said, looking at him a little sympathetically. “Now I guess you know how I felt.”

“Oh fuck off, Harry,” Niall spat. “In a week you’ll have another girl to bang so don’t play this pity party. I’m through with this, and if you thought that Brittany leaving was going to make it so we were friends again, you were wrong. I’m going to bed and I suggest the lot of you leave me alone.”

With that, Niall left and climbed into his bunk, closing the curtain quickly. He dug through his backpack and put his headphones on. As he rolled over onto his side, he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to sort out his feelings.

He was angry with Harry, that was for certain. Niall knew he would probably have to make up with him eventually. After all, if he didn’t it would just make his break-up with Brittany completely meaningless, and that hadn’t been her intention at all.

He was somewhat angry with Brittany, but he couldn’t be too much. He loved her, and the only thing that soothed him was the fact that she loved him too. In fact, she loved him so much she was clearly putting herself through hell just to make his own life easier.

Niall sighed to himself, knowing he probably wasn’t going to be getting to sleep anytime soon. He only hoped that this whole thing with Brittany was temporary, and that when the dust settled, she’d come back to him.

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