I Wish – Chapter 6

Monday, May 28 2012
Camden, NJ

It had been a busy morning. The group did a couple of interviews and had a small meeting with management. By early afternoon, there wasn’t much to do but sit around and prepare for the show that evening.

As always, the boys hung around the venue. While the others had chosen to sit around backstage, Niall opted to stay on the bus and play video games. The last thing he wanted to do was witness Harry and Brittany together.

Out of sight, out of mind, he told himself.

But after a couple of hours, he could no longer ignore the rumbling of his stomach. Tossing the game controller aside, he figured that he may as well go get something to eat. He exited the bus and looked around. Perhaps he could grab someone from security and go grab a bite from somewhere other than the provided catering.

He stood there for a few minutes, hands in his pockets weighing his options. There was a Subway across the street, a McDonald’s next to it, and he was sure he’d seen a White Castle nearby. He’d have to make a decision before he went to find someone to escort him.

Then, there was a tap on his back. He turned around.

Just his luck. There was Brittany, giving him a small wave.

“Hey,” she said. “What’re you doing just standing there?”

He shrugged, feeling awkward just looking at her. With her tiny pink tank top and cutoff jeans, Niall decided she shouldn’t be allowed to dress so provocatively. It only served to warp his mind back to the dirty places it had been during the night.

“Um,” he said, looking down at her short frame. “I was just thinking about going somewhere to eat.”

She gave him an odd look. “There’s catering backstage.”

“Yeah, I know,” Niall replied shortly. He half wished she would just go away. Why had she sought him out, anyway?

Brittany bit her lip. “Look… I just wanted to apologize for interrupting your breakfast with Harry yesterday.”

Oh, that was why. “Don’t worry about it,” he said with a wave of his hand. He couldn’t help but think that if she had shown up five minutes later, that scene in the restaurant may have gone a lot differently. He could have been the one being photographed eating a churro, for a start.

“I felt really bad about it,” she said apologetically. “You looked really upset.”

He forced a laugh, and wondered if Brittany could see right through him. “It was just early, that’s all. Really.”

She smiled. “Well, I’m glad to hear it. I feel a lot better now,” she laughed.

Well, at least Brittany felt a lot better, Niall thought with annoyance.

“Hey,” she said, changing the subject before Niall had a chance to leave. “I’m kinda craving a Big Mac… do you mind if I join you for food?”

Yes, he minded! However, he was also polite. “No, that’s fine.”

Brittany beamed. “Great! Let me go grab a security guard and we’ll go!”

Niall just stood there dumbly and watched her skip off.

***

“Are you serious?” he laughed as the two of them sat in a booth in the McDonald’s near the venue. Security was nearby, but luckily the two of them hadn’t been spotted yet.

“Yes!” she exclaimed, trying to maintain her composure, but failed and burst out into a fit of giggles again. “I swear to you, that happened. Everyone was watching, and I just didn’t know what to do. So I just… started dancing to the music…” she trailed off, after regaling Niall with the tale of the time she’d fallen off the pyramid during a pep rally in the seventh grade.

Niall continued to laugh at the ridiculous image of a thirteen year old Brittany falling to the ground, causing the rest of the cheerleaders to fall, and promptly dancing as she stood up. “So… what did the others do?”

“They just stood there and watched!” she said in disbelief. “I was dancing my butt off and the rest of the girls just stood there. Then the song ended and the gym teacher was like ‘…Let’s give it up for the Hackett Cheerleaders.’ And maybe like, five people clapped.”

“Did they let you stay on the team?” he asked, unable to stop watching the glimmer in her eyes as she talked. The way she blinked every time she got to a particularly embarrassing part of the story was one of the many things he liked about watching her speak.

Brittany nodded, taking a sip of her drink. “They did. But I’d be lying if I said they didn’t knock me down a couple spots on the pyramid.”

“That’s rough,” he said sympathetically, but still wearing a grin. “But I can’t really blame them.”

Brittany laughed, and rolled her eyes. “Hey!” she said defensively. “I’d say I’m pretty brave. I go out on stage every night now, and perform in front of way more people than that pep rally ever hoped to get.”

“Right,” Niall replied, raising his eyebrow. “Just remind me to tell the others not to let you on top of any of our pyramids.”

Brittany reached over and lightly slapped his arm. “Shut up!”

“Shut up!” he mocked her high pitched voice, not even realizing he was flirting with her.

Brittany giggled, putting her hand over her mouth for a minute. She looked up at him with her mysterious brown eyes. “I’m sure you’ve done silly things on stage too.”

“Nope, I’m perfect,” he said with a slight nod.

“Oh come on,” Brittany pressed. “I told you my most embarrassing performance story. Tell me one of yours.”

Niall sighed. “All right,” he leaned in towards her and pretended to look around to make sure no one was listening. “The first time we did a performance on American TV, I was so nervous I threw up in a trash can backstage.”

Brittany clasped both hands over her mouth to contain her laughter. “Ohmigod,” she said, her voice muffled.

“Hey, don’t laugh!” he said, trying his best to stay serious. “It was really awful, you know! We had to go out seconds after that and I could still taste it when we were performing.”

“Awww,” Brittany cooed as her laughter slowed down. “That must have been really hard… but at least no one saw you.”

Niall shook his head. “Yeah, no fans saw me. But the rest of the boys, the show producers, management and whole bunch of crew did. But no, you’re right, no fans saw me. So it’s fine,” he said sarcastically, trying to stay serious, but cracking a smile at the end.

Brittany tried to contain her laughter, but found it difficult. “That sounds horrible.”

Niall nodded. “It was. Luckily Louis was able to sneak me a mint during a commercial break.”

Cue another fit of laughter.

That was when Paul walked over to the two of them. “Guys, we’ve got to get moving back to the venue. Brittany’s got to get ready for the show, and we don’t know when fans might start showing up.”

The two of them obliged and followed him back to the arena. As they walked, Niall looked over at Brittany. For a little while, he’d forgotten about his inner turmoil. Ironically, it had been the carefree meal he’d spent with her that had put him in a better mood.

That is, until they stepped backstage.

“Where’d you two go off to?” Harry asked when he saw them.

“Niall was going over to McDonald’s, so I followed him,” Brittany replied with a shrug.

“McDonald’s?” Harry groaned, looking over at Niall. “You should have let me know you were going! I much rather would have had fries instead of this,” he motioned towards the catering.

“Sorry,” Brittany laughed. “Next time.” She glanced up at the clock on the wall. “I’ve got to start getting ready now I guess. Have a good show tonight guys…” she trailed off, giving Niall a small smirk. “Try not to be too nervous,” she said to him.

“Try not to fall off the stage,” he shot back.

Brittany grinned. “I’ll do my best. See you guys later,” she said, turning to walk off.

“Hey wait a minute,” Harry said, giving Brittany a quick kiss on the lips. “For good luck,” he winked.

“Thanks,” she blushed. “See you later,” she said, walking off.

And just like that, the grin Niall had been wearing for the past hour was gone.

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