4. Friday, September 28th

I woke up the next morning and my mouth was as dry as a bone. That, and I was sleeping on the futon in my living room.

I sat up and looked around. It was still a little dark outside, and I glanced at the clock.

6am? I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, but my mouth was too dry and I really needed to relieve the pressure in my bladder. How much had we had to drink the night before?

I scratched my head as I shuffled quietly over to the bathroom. When I was done in there I peeked into my bedroom. Liam was fast asleep on my bed and I shook my head a little. I remembered coming loudly back into my flat around one in the morning and insisting that he sleep in my room, because I felt bad for him and wanted him to have a good rest.

I suppose it sort of worked because he was still out like a light.

I decided not to wake him, so I ran my hands through my hair so I looked a little presentable pulled my discarded sweater off the floor. I grabbed my wallet off the table and surveyed the room for a quick moment. I tried my best to be quiet as I put my shoes on and stepped outside, locking the door behind me.

I walked down the street in search of that bagel place Liam had gone to a couple of mornings before. It wasn’t hard to find because I was sure I’d been there a few times in the past. I walked inside, nodded a quick hello to the shop owner and picked up a few bagels and two coffees, just as Liam had a couple days before.

I clutched the paper bag to my chest with one arm and held the coffee tray with my other. I hadn’t really thought this through as I unlocked the door to my complex, having to do some juggling maneuver to open the door without dropping anything.

But eventually I made it back into my flat and put the bagels and coffee onto the kitchen table. I took a long sip from my own, closing my eyes as the warmth of it cleansed my dry throat.

Coffee really is the best thing after a long night of drinking.

I set my cup down on the kitchen table and grabbed Liam’s. I shuffled into my bedroom, where he was still asleep. I didn’t really want to wake him, but we had to be up soon anyway, plus we needed the extra time to get ready so we wouldn’t have to awkwardly share the bathroom again.

I leaned over Liam, waving the coffee in his face. “It’s time to wake up,” I sang softly. “There’s hot coffee in this cup…”

He stirred a little, opening his eyes in annoyance at me.

I grinned and kept singing. “So don’t make any sudden movements, or it’ll fall right out of my hands and onto your pants…”

He gave me a look. Yeah, Liam isn’t a morning person at all and I knew I was being a bit of a brat. “What’re you singing he asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes a bit.

I shrugged. “I just made it up.”

He nodded and looked at the coffee. “Is that for me?”

“Oh, yeah!” I said, handing it to him. “There’s bagels in the kitchen.”

He took a long sip of the coffee and smiled at me gratefully. “Thanks, Nialler.”

“Hey it’s no problem, mate,” I grinned, jumping off the bed and walking over to the bathroom. “Anything I can do to make you feel better!”

It was a lot easier for the two of us to get ready in the morning when we were up a bit early and didn’t have to fight for the bathroom. But still – if I’d had two bathrooms then we wouldn’t have to fight for it at all and we could have slept in a bit later.

Maybe that was Danielle and Liam’s secret to living together. Or maybe they didn’t mind sharing the bathroom. Either way we were reading on time and ready to go for another long day of press.

I actually don’t mind press so much. But you don’t get into this business for the interviews and photoshoots. You get into it for the performance and the creative process of recording an album and the excitement you get from other people listening to it. Still, I don’t think press is so bad.

In fact, the only time I really hate press Is when I’m ill or when I’m hungover.

Which Louis was so nice to point out when Liam and I walked into the office the record company had rented out for the interviews that day.

“You two look positively dreadful,” he laughed, and I rolled my eyes. Thanks so much Louis for pointing that out.

“Yeah,” I responded, heading over to the little catering table and pouring myself another cup of coffee. I didn’t even particularly like coffee, only first thing in the morning, but as I said before. good for a bit of a hangover.

“Even you, Payne,” he laughed. “What, Nialler’s exciting bachelor life already taking its toll on you?”

I had to laugh at that. Exciting bachelor life? All I did was work and sleep and occasionally go out for a pint with my mates.

Okay, a little more than occasionally, but still. It was hardly exciting. That was Harry’s life, not mine!

“We just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night,” he explained, sitting down in one of the chairs and yawning a little.

“Well after today you can get two days of sleep,” he smiled, looking at Liam happily

Oh, that’s right! I forgot that when we were in London we were almost like normal people with regular jobs who got the weekends off! Yes!

“Maybe the five of us can do something together,” he suggested.

Except that we weren’t regular lads, because even on our time off we liked to chill together. “Yeah, that’d be cool,” I said.

“X Factor at my place?” he suggested.

Liam and I glanced at each other. I was definitely keeping up with X Factor, but I didn’t know if he was. Still, he nodded.

“Yeah, sure,” he said. “I’m in.”

~~~

They brought lunch in for us, so it literally was like we were locked in that conference room the whole day.

“Yes!” Niall exclaimed as the takeaway bags were placed in front of us. “Nando’s!”

We all shook our heads at his obvious excitement over his favorite food chain and started to eat quickly.

Niall is the only person I’ve ever met who can talk and eat at the same time. He’s like a food inhaling machine.

“Man,” he said, taking a bite of his chicken. “This is brilliant. Nando’s twelve hours apart. I could eat this for every meal and be happy. Bonus, its fresh this time. Not that Nando’s is ever bad, but this is just better.”

“What’re you on about?” Zayn asked, giving him a strange look.

“He had leftover Nando’s in his fridge,” I explained.

“That I ate after coming home from the pub yesterday,” he said proudly. “Best idea I ever had, buying that and saving it in my fridge.”

Well at least he’d bought something and put it in his fridge. Not like we were at home much for him to be according to have food, I guess. Since he lived alone it probably made even less sense for him to stock up on groceries.

Still, I thought about this as we made our way back to his place after our long day of interviews.

“Come on,” I said, ducking into a Tesco with Niall following quickly behind.

“What’s this about?” he asked, giving me a look.

“We’re going to get some food for your place,” I said simply, grabbing a basket. “Just a few things.”

He shrugged, but conceded to the fact that we really couldn’t eat Nando’s every single day. No matter how much he probably wanted to.

But while I stayed with him I intended to at least get him some food and make him a couple meals. It was the least I could do for letting me stay at his place.

“What do you want to eat for dinner today?” I asked him, strolling around the aisles. “I could make a pizza,” I said, picking up a pizza shell.

“Or we could order a pizza,” he said with a smirk.

“Yeah, but if I make it, we can put whatever toppings we want on it.”

He gave me a look. “You know that when you order pizza, you can tell them what toppings to put on it, right?”

Okay, he had a point. There was no reason to make a pizza when we could probably order a better one.

“I could make pasta,” I suggested. “I make pretty good bolognese, actually.”

He nodded in agreement.

So I bought all of the things to make dinner, as well as some essentials for his place (such as non expired milk) and we made our way back.

It was sort of nice to have the evening spent inside, just cooking and laying low. I was glad to be spending the time with Niall, but once I went back to my house alone I had no idea what I was going to do on my own. I was already feeling awkward cooking by myself while Niall napped on the couch, I didn’t know what it was going to be like when there was no one to wake up.

“Niall,” I said, walking over to the futon and shaking his shoulder gently. “Wake up, mate. Food’s ready.”

He got up and followed me over to his small kitchen and grinned, sitting down in front of the plate I’d set out for him. “Thanks, Li. It looks great.”

I smiled. At least for the the next couple of days, I wouldn’t have to worry about being alone.

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