Chapter 11 – Ain’t Nothing But A Mistake

Liam’s internal clock always had a way of waking him up a few minutes before his alarm went off.

His eyes fluttered open and he swallowed a little, trying to rid himself of the dryness that was in his mouth. It didn’t exactly work. He glanced over and the first thing he saw was Niall, curled up on the other side of the bed with his back turned.

Then it all came back to him.

The drunken moment at the club where Niall had offered him cocaine of all things. How he’d hightailed it out of there, dragging his friend back to the hotel. How Niall had completely lost it and how he couldn’t stand hearing him call himself down that all he wanted to do was kiss away his pain.

So he had. Because he was drunk and hadn’t been able to psyche himself out of it. And Niall had responded and the two of them had clung to each other and had a very raw and what Liam thought had been loving moment. They’d even fallen asleep in each other’s embrace.

Despite his breakup with Danielle, Liam had felt comforted and safe with Niall’s weight on top of him. Perhaps Danielle had been right after all – because it wasn’t her touch he was longing to feel again.

“Niall,” Liam said softly, reaching over and touching his friend’s bare shoulder lightly.

He felt Niall jump a little, so he knew he was awake. Still, Niall didn’t turn around. He didn’t do anything but lay there in his near fetal position, with the blankets clutched around him.

“Niall,” Liam said again, sliding in closer to him. “We have to get up soon.”

Niall tried to keep his eyes fixated on the white walls of the hotel room as Liam very nearly snuggled up with him. His eyes were bloodshot and in pain – he’d hardly slept the entire night. In fact the only way he’d been able to slightly relax was by moving to the other side of the bed and keeping as far away from Liam as possible.

As Liam got closer to him, Niall felt torn between feeling safe and comfortable, to feeling terrified and wrong. The fact that he was even having these feelings around Liam was making him all the more terrified, and feeling Liam’s bare skin against his own was enough to make Niall jump out of the bed.

“Morning,” he said shakily, glancing down at Liam and crossing his arms and rubbing his shoulders with his hands. He wasn’t particularly chilly or anything, it was just something he tended to do when he was nervous.

“Morning,” Liam replied, giving Niall a look as he stood there. “You’re awfully jumpy.”

“Well, yeah,” Niall said incredulously. He gave Liam a look where he tried to explain with his eyes what he was feeling. It was difficult, given that he himself didn’t even know how he was supposed to be feeling or what he should do.

Normally if he found himself in an uncomfortable morning after situation, he just kicked the girl out of his room. Obviously he couldn’t do that this time given that it was Liam who was here before him. It wasn’t just some random girl who he didn’t care about – it was his best friend.

Niall felt his stomach drop as he remembered in very clear detail the two of them kissing and touching each other. He breathed short, shallow breaths as he remembered unravelling underneath Liam, letting himself go and allowing himself to open up in such a way that he hadn’t been able to in so long.

It terrified him how much he’d needed that. It terrified him that it had been so easy for him to let it happen. It especially terrified him when he remembered how good it had been.

This was not a road he could let himself go down.

And how the hell had Liam, responsible, mature, smart, Liam allowed this to happen? Through the hazy memories, Niall was sure he was even the one who had initiated it. What was that all about?

“We were drunk,” Niall said plainly, glancing at Liam as he voiced the only possible explanation for the thoughts that were running through his mind.

“What?” Liam asked, sitting up slightly and looking at Niall with confusion.

“We were drunk,” Niall said again. “We were drunk and it was stupid and this,” he motioned towards the rumpled sheets of the bed, “Didn’t happen.”

Liam rolled his eyes. “Well, it did happen Nialler, and I really think we need to talk-”

“No,” Niall cut him off abruptly. “We don’t need to talk about it. We were drunk and whatever happened was because Danielle left you, and I,” he paused, running a hand through his messy hair. It always bothered him how the roots of his hair were always so quick to feel so much dirtier than the rest. The bleached tips of it, however, were always so dried out and dead that they seemed to stay cleaner for longer. Niall dropped his hands from his hair. He tried again to focus on what he knew he was supposed to be thinking about, but was trying so hard to ignore. “I… was just drunk. We both needed something, and we were just there. And we were drunk and it didn’t happen.”

Liam sighed, and Niall pretended to ignore the obvious hurt that lingered on his friend’s face. He didn’t understand why Liam wasn’t freaked out about this. Though Liam was always the one who could keep his cool, he was also the most vanilla out of all of them. Niall was sure that making out with another boy wasn’t at the top of Liam’s list of things he was able to remain calm about.

“All right,” Liam said finally. “Whatever you say, Niall.” He pulled the covers off himself and began to retrieve his scattered clothing from the floor.

Niall nodded, sitting down awkwardly on the edge of the bed as he watched his friend leave.

Liam was very nearly at the door, but just before he turned the knob he stopped and turned around to look at Niall.

Niall glanced up at Liam. He didn’t say anything, and he just waited for his friend to continue. He was somewhat worried that Liam was going to try and talk with him again about what had happened, and he opened his mouth to protest.

But Liam managed to speak first. “Promise me you’ll never do cocaine again,” he said seriously, eyeing Niall. If Niall wanted to deny what had happened between the two of them, Liam could deal with that. He wasn’t even sure how he was feeling about it, to be honest. But if there was one thing he knew, it was that Niall had to stop using drugs and alcohol to numb whatever he was going through.

Niall let out a deep breath and gave Liam an icy look. He hadn’t expected Liam to remember that part of it. So instead of letting himself feel ashamed because he knew very well what he was doing was wrong, he chose to just glare at his friend and act as though he could take care of himself.

He didn’t say anything in response. Instead, he continued to glare as Liam silently left the room.

***

There was obvious tension on the tour bus as the boys rode to the next city. Liam had headed straight for his bunk, and Niall had sat himself down in front of the TV, flipping on the PlayStation. He clicked around the menu screen, finally deciding on having a round of Fifa to blow off some steam.

A video game was a good enough distraction for him for now. Later, after the show, he’d find other means of making sure his brain didn’t drift off into an uncomfortable direction. Regardless of what Liam thought.

“Fifa?” Zayn asked, walking into the entertainment area.

“Yeah,” Niall said, not taking his eyes away from the screen.

“Why don’t you ask Liam to play?”

Niall didn’t say anything. That was the last thing he wanted to do. He ignored Zayn, not wanting to say anything about Liam. In fact, for the moment he was quite content to forget that Liam existed.

Zayn sighed and sat down on the small couch. “He’s been quite upset since Danielle left, hasn’t he?”

Niall just shrugged. “I don’t know.” He was hoping that his aloof attitude towards the situation would get Zayn to stop talking about it, but of course that wasn’t the case. Though Zayn liked to let the band members keep to themselves, he also liked to have these heart-to-heart conversations that Niall usually tended to avoid.

“Well, he seems like it. What were you to up to last night? He didn’t want to talk to any of us. He only opens up to you.”

Niall snapped his head around and looked at Zayn. Confusion was apparent on the older boy’s face and Niall sighed. Zayn hadn’t figured anything out – he was simply just concerned for Liam. And at one point, Niall had been concerned too.

Now the only thing Niall was concerned about was the fact that he couldn’t forget the taste of Liam’s lips against his own.

Zayn just gave him a look, as if to ask Niall to say something.

“I don’t know, we just went out,” Niall said, shrugging his shoulders again and going back to his game.

“He seems really upset,” Zayn mused.

“Well Danielle’s gone, what do you expect?” Niall asked, staring at the screen and concentrating as hard as he could on the players in front of him. He didn’t even know how to play Fifa single player – any other time he’d played it had been a team effort with Liam.

“I don’t know,” Zayn said with a sigh. “Everyone’s been having a lot of problems this tour. Liam and Danielle broke up, and that was really unexpected. Harry’s been getting calls constantly from that model he hooked up with in London, she won’t leave him alone, and you…” Zayn trailed off.

Niall pursed his lips together as he tried his best to at least score a goal in this game. He certainly didn’t want to hear anything from Zayn about what he’d been through. And he was sure that Zayn knew he was about to cross a line, which was why he’d stopped.

Or so Niall had thought. “Are you doing alright?” Zayn asked softly.

“Fine,” Niall replied shortly. He wasn’t fine, and he knew that he wasn’t fine, but the very last thing he wanted to do was spill his guts to Zayn. After all, the last time he’d gone and done that, he’d ended up in bed with his best friend.

Not that he could ever picture himself falling into bed with Zayn, but still. And that thought made Niall slightly sick. He couldn’t picture himself falling into bed with Zayn, but Liam was fair game? He gulped a little. Of course it was. He and Liam were far closer than he and Zayn were. If something like that had to happen with anyone, it made sense that it had been with Liam.

Niall just didn’t understand why it had to have happened at all. He mentally cursed his lack of sexual self control.

Zayn didn’t press the issue. Instead, he just walked out the the entertainment room. “You might do better with that if you invited Liam,” he advised. “He could probably use the distraction too.”

Niall didn’t respond as Zayn walked away. He mashed the buttons on the controller, but quickly tossed it aside as the computer controlled players got the better of him.

Without Liam, the game was a lost cause.

***

The show that night was awkward.

Usually the boys were playful with one another, especially during some of the older songs they’d grown tired of over the years. That night, Niall hung back from everyone, making an obvious effort to be on the opposite side of the stage from Liam at all times.

Liam couldn’t do anything about this, of course. Not on stage in front of thousands of people. So, he put all of his energy into his performance. He did try a few times to go over to Niall and sing to him, or sling his arm around him, but it was a lost cause. Niall would just give him a half-smile, which was the stage equivalent of a glare followed by a “Fuck off.”

Liam didn’t know what to do with himself, but luckily he had much of the solos. Instead of focusing on Niall, he goofed around with the other boys, who were more than happy to oblige.

The boys were herded off stage in a whirlwind of pyrotechnics, just as they always were. Niall hated them – he’d always hated them. And as they ran off the stage, he was quick to cover his ears and squeeze his eyes shut. Usually he could just ignore them and just focus on putting his feet to the pavement as they ran for the bus, but that day he just couldn’t deal with it.

“Hey Nialler,” Louis said, lightly touching Niall’s upper arm. “It’s okay.”

Niall was quick to push Louis’ hand off of him. He just wanted to be left alone – he didn’t need anyone reassuring him that he was fine and that he was going to be okay. He certainly didn’t need it from one of the other boys. “Knock it off,” Niall said harshly, glancing up at Louis.

Louis backed off, but not without giving Niall a sympathetic and confused look. “Yeah, sure. Sorry. I know you don’t like the pyrotechnics.”

“No I don’t,” Niall said firmly, sticking his hands in his pockets and staring at the ground as they briskly walked towards the bus.

“What’s with him?” Louis asked, raising his eyebrow as he looked over at Liam.

Liam sighed as he watched Niall get further and further ahead of the rest of the group. “I don’t know,” he lied. Of course he knew. Niall was regretting what they’d drunkenly done the night before. He was feeling awkward at the very touch of anyone of the same sex.

His heart broke as he watched Niall go. Every time Niall ignored him or gave him a look that very clearly told him to go away, Liam felt sick. He’d felt happy and safe and so right as he and Niall had laid together the night before. He felt more at peace with Niall than he had with Danielle. He hadn’t admitted to Niall that he was in love with him, of course, but it still hurt that Niall clearly wanted to forget about the whole thing.

Liam looked at the ground as the boys made their way to the bus. As usual, Niall headed straight for his bunk. Liam stayed in the main area with the rest of the boys, not wanting to be anywhere near his best friend.

Which was odd, because at the same time the only place he wanted to be was back in Niall’s arms.

“He’s not even the same person anymore,” Louis mused, nodding his head towards the bunks.

Harry just nodded in agreement as he stared at his phone.

“I wish we could help him,” Louis continued, slouching back a little in his seat.

“There’s nothing we can do,” Liam nearly snapped, his voice low. “If I can’t help him, you lot don’t have a hope.”

Harry looked up from his phone and shared a confused glance with Louis and Zayn. “Uh,” Harry said cautiously. “I don’t think any of us can help him, Liam.”

Liam just sighed again and avoided the questioning gaze of the other boys. He knew that he probably shouldn’t have reacted quite so harshly. Louis’ comment had been innocent enough – after all, they all wanted to help Niall. Of course, in the past few weeks, that was all Liam had tried to do. He’d tried everything he knew, and he’d still failed.

In fact instead of helping, Liam knew now that he was just adding to Niall’s stress.

And that thought was killing him.

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