2. Wednesday, September 26th

I had barely been up for five minutes when my phone started to ring. Crap! Was that Grimmy call today? Shit. I laid in bed talking to him for a few minutes before I was freed from my press duties. See, this is why I’m so tired all the time – the work never stops. Literally, as soon as I wake up I have to be on.

When it was over I tossed my phone onto my bed and threw the covers off myself. We had a long day of press and I had to start getting ready. I walked out of the room intending to eat the last of my Oreos for breakfast when I noticed Liam sitting at my kitchen table.

Oh, right.

“Morning,” I nodded to him, heading straight for my cupboard.

“Morning,” he said. “What’re you looking for? You’ve got no food.”

I furrowed my eyebrows. What was he talking about, no food? I had Oreos in the cupboard and Nando’s in the fridge! “Yeah, I’ve got Oreos,” I said.

He motioned to the brown paper bag sitting on the kitchen table, as well as the two paper cups of coffee.

Oh. I hadn’t even noticed that.

“Hey, thanks mate,” I grinned, peering into the bag. Bagels?! Yes! “You didn’t have to do that,” I said, picking one out of the bag and biting into it. “It’s really good though.”

“It’s not a problem,” he said with a slight smile.

He still looked positively broken though. I didn’t know if I should ask him how he was doing or if I should just leave it alone. I really did want to help, but I didn’t know if maybe he wanted to just forget about it. That was why he’d come here, wasn’t it? So he could escape Danielle while she moved out? So maybe he didn’t want to talk about her.

“Right,” I said, finishing up the bagel as I contemplated what else I could say. I was absolute rubbish in situations like these. I should have asked him if he wanted to go for a pint. Maybe he wanted to go for a pint later. That would help! “You want to head out for a pint later?”

He gave me a look. “We’ve got Alan Carr to do later,” he reminded me.

Ah, right. No time for pints. Or maybe there was! “We could go afterwards.”

He shrugged a little. Oy, Liam! Help me out here a little, would ya? “I don’t know.”

I reached into the bag to eat another one of those bagels he bought and watched him thoughtfully. Maybe he didn’t want any cheering up. Maybe he just wanted to sit and eat and wallow in his own self-pity.

I didn’t really know because the only time I’d broken up with a girl was because I was going on X Factor. So I really hadn’t had anything to be upset about in that situation.

“Alright,” I said with a shrug, turning to leave the kitchen and go take a shower to get ready for the day. What time was it? I looked at the clock on the stove. 8:30. Fuck!

“Danielle and I always used to have coffee and bagels for breakfast,” I heard Liam say softly. Ah, shit. He really did want to talk about it. And we had to get ready. But management would understand if we were a little bit late for interviews because of a breakfast induced break up emergency, right?

Yeah, don’t answer that.

Still, I sat back down at the table and looked at him. “You okay?” I asked.

He shrugged.

Oy, Liam! You’re going to have to help me out if you want to talk because I’m terrible at this! If you want a good heart to heart chat you’re going to have to go to Malik for that. He knows way more about the “roller coaster that is life” (whatever that means) than I do!

“It’s just,” he sighed, playing with the paper sleeve on his coffee cup. “Do you think it’s ever going to get easier?”

I actually didn’t know. I assumed it would get easier, because I’d seen other people break up before and they weren’t sad all the time. Louis and Hannah had broken up shortly after X Factor and he was happy. He’d even started dating someone else. So he had to have gotten over it.

He glanced up at me, and I realized I was probably taking too long to give him the answer he wanted. “Oh, yeah,” I said, waving my hand a little. “Yeah, it’ll get easier.”

“Convincing,” he said sarcastically, taking a sip from his coffee cup.

Actually, I had thought it was rather convincing. “Sorry,” I shrugged. “I’m not very good at this,” I admitted to him. “I mean, people don’t usually come to me looking for advice. And if I were to look for girl advice, I’d probably go to you honestly, so I don’t really know…”

He studied me for a second. “So what would you do?” he asked.

“What?”

“What would you do?” he repeated, still looking at me all strangely. “If I was you, and I had just broken up with my girlfriend and you were me and you were asking for advice, what would I tell you?”

Well Liam, if I knew that we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we? “I don’t know,” I shrugged, but I tried to think about it. What would Liam tell me? If I was all stressed out over a girl and sad and moping around his flat, what would he say the next morning?

He’d probably put his arm around me, and tell me that everything was going to be alright. He’d tell me to chin up, and that I had a great career.

So that was exactly what I did. He looked at me slightly awkwardly as I slid my chair over beside him and slung my arm around his shoulders. “Chin up, mate,” I said in my best accent of his. “Everything’s going to be alright. You’ve got a great career.”

He continued giving me that unimpressed look.

I just flashed him a grin and shook my arm around his shoulders a little, as if to get him to perk up. It didn’t work.

Rubbish. At. This.

I tried to think of some helpful advice, because he still looked sad and not like I had helped at all. Maybe that wasn’t what Liam would have done if we’d been in the opposite positions. But to be fair, I didn’t think I’d ever be in such a position where I’d show up at his house looking for comfort when I’d just broken up with my girlfriend.

“Um,” I said dumbly, and he raised his eyebrows a little. I kept my arm around his shoulders, but I used my other hand to try and give my words some sort of visual aid. But I just sort of ended up waving my hand around unhelpfully as I spoke. “I think that today is the hardest it’s going to be,” I said with a nod.

“What?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said, trying to invent advice as I went along. I should have texted Zayn before leaving my room so he could have coached me on what to say before I came out to the kitchen and inevitably had to have this heart to heart discussion. “I think that today, right now, when it’s the first day and you don’t know what’s going to happen is the hardest it’ll be.”

He looked at me thoughtfully.

So I continued, because maybe my rambling was getting us somewhere. “Maybe the first day is the hardest, and every day it’ll just get a little bit easier, until one day it’s just like it’s normal again.”

He smiled at me a little. “Thanks, Nialler,” he said sincerely. Maybe my clumsy words actually had made some sense! Who knew?

“Anytime, Payne,” I said, ruffling his hair a little bit like he always liked to do to me. Ha! Maybe soon I would be the new Daddy Direction!

“Oh, we’ve got to start getting ready or we’re going to be late to work.” he said quickly, glancing over at the clock at getting up.

Or maybe not.

~~~

We were in a magazine studio waiting to do an interview. Strangely, Niall and I actually weren’t the last to show up despite our slow start in the morning. I really had needed that chat with him though. I knew he didn’t think he was going to be much help, but his positive attitude and carefree way he went through life was already beginning to help me. Just being around him was making me feel better.

I mean, I was still feeling quite depressed, but at least I was feeling slightly better. So maybe he’d been onto something when he’d said that each day was going to get a little easier. Because I already felt better than I had the night before. For instance, I wasn’t a mess of tears.

That was about it though. Still, progress.

I had managed to fall asleep for a few hours, but I was still tired. I’d woken up earlier, hadn’t been able to get back to sleep, so I’d gone out to get coffee and breakfast seeing as there was no food in Niall’s house.

I didn’t know how he did it really. That morning was basically like living alone – since Niall was in his bedroom and dead to the world. I had no idea how he was content just being on his own like that every day. I missed having someone around all the time, someone to wake up next to. Yeah, I was alone in a hotel room a lot of the time when we were out on tour or our doing promotions, but that wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same as being in London when we were at home (or I was supposed to be at home) and trying our best to act normal.

“How’s it going, lads?” I tried to force a smile as I addressed Harry and Louis. Zayn still hadn’t arrived yet, which was odd. He wasn’t usually late.

“Good,” Harry yawned. “It’s a bit early.”

“Yeah,” I said shifting uncomfortably.

“What’s all this about?” Louis asked, pointing at Niall and I. “Usually he’s the first to show up.”

“Ah yeah,” Niall shrugged. “Well, not used to having to share the bathroom, so…”

Harry and Louis gave the two of us a confused look and I sighed. I hadn’t really wanted to tell everyone just yet, but I supposed I was going to have to, seeing as I was staying with Niall, and they’d wonder why. Plus it was going to come out eventually, might as well let them know now before the public found out about it first.

“Uh, yeah,” I said, scratching the back of my head a bit awkwardly. “I stayed over at Niall’s place last night. I’m going to be staying with him for a week or so, actually.”

They still continued to look at me with confused expressions. They glanced over at Niall, but he didn’t do anything. He just nodded in agreement, which I appreciated. It wasn’t his story to tell, after all, and he knew that.

“Why?” Louis finally asked. “And don’t tell me it’s because something’s going on with you two, because-”

“No, no,” I cut him off before he launched into a big rant. The fans had been getting on his nerves lately and he’d been really on edge regarding any of us getting too close for comfort. “I’m just,” I paused and took a deep breath. “I’m staying with him while Danielle moves out of my house.”

“Why’s she moving out?” Harry asked stupidly, and Louis gave him a look.

“Sorry,” Louis said, giving me a sympathetic nod and a pat on the shoulder.

“It’s alright,” I said, even though it wasn’t really.

“What happened?” Harry asked, and again Louis shot him an unimpressed look. I sort of wanted to tell him that if he wouldn’t act like that, then maybe the fans wouldn’t be so quick to think he and Harry were in a relationship, but of course I didn’t, because that would just get him to go off.

“I don’t know, really,” I shrugged, even though of course I did know. I just didn’t know how it happened all so fast. It was weird, I knew what had happened but it was hard for me to figure out exactly how it had gotten to that point. “We were just talking, and then it was over. We don’t get to see each other, the tour’s coming up and yeah… it was too hard for us.”

Louis nodded. I think out of all of us, he got it the most. “Sorry to hear that,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder.

“Yeah,” I said. “But it’s alright, you know? I’ve got you boys and I’ll be with Nialler for the next few days so you know…”

“Yeah, prepared to eat a lot of Nando’s and drink a lot of light beer,” Harry snickered.

Niall glared at him. “That is a stereotype!”

“How is it a stereotype?” he laughed. “It’s not a stereotype if it’s just you. It’s you who eats at Nando’s all the time, and it’s you who drinks only the lightest of beers. If I’d told him to be prepared to drink a lot of Guiness, that would have been a stereotype.”

Niall just shook his head. “No, no Guiness. I can’t handle that stuff.”

Harry just motioned his hand towards Niall and looked at me. “See? Like I said. Light beer and Nando’s. Enjoy your week,” he laughed.

Niall just rolled his eyes, but seemed to concede to the fact that Harry wasn’t entirely wrong about him. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to go out for pints with him that night though, I was already tired, it was going to be a long day of interviewers asking the same old questions. Then of course we were going on Alan Carr, which was usually fun, but that day I wanted to do anything but go on national TV and have a laugh.

“Morning, lads,” Zayn said, waltzing into the room.

“Morning,” we all muttered.

“What’s going on?” he asked, as one does in the morning when greeting your co-workers.

Louis shrugged and pointed at me. “Liam and Danielle broke up and Liam is living with Niall until the dust settles.”

This time it was Harry’s turn to give Louis an unimpressed look, but I was fairly certain he was just mocking him.

“What?” Louis asked, glancing around at all of us. “I was just catching him up. He was going to find out eventually.”

Zayn gave me a sympathetic look and nodded at me. “Sorry to hear that,” he said sincerely. “But you know, sometimes these things are for the best.”

And thus began our extremely long day of interviews and press. I have to say I was quite relieved when the others tried as best they could to answer questions so that I wouldn’t have to do much talking. And, thankfully, we never got asked the girlfriend question. I supposed it was because the interviewers assumed the world already knew our statuses, which was funny because of course now there was a new development.

But that was fine, I wasn’t interested in sharing that information with everyone yet. Not while everything was still fresh.

Niall and I made it back it his flat around 10pm that night, and I was positively drained. I couldn’t have gone out with him for that pint even if I wanted to. Which… I actually sort of did want to. That whole day and the boys’ attitudes towards me only reaffirmed my choice that Niall was the perfect person to spend this time with. He was still treating me normally, while everyone else was acting sympathetic and overly sensitive.

“Goodnight, Liam,” Niall said, picking through the bag and taking another one of the bagels with him to his room. “Sorry we can’t go out for that pint but I’m ready to fall asleep. Maybe tomorrow,” he said with a smile.

“Yeah,” I said, stretching out on his futon and yawning a bit. “Maybe tomorrow.”

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