Chapter 15 – Half Asleep

Niall stepped into his complex and sighed as he dragged his luggage up the stairs to his apartment. He’d spent a day in the hospital being checked out, he’d endured a stern talking to from Paul, and he’d been informed that he was to be on his best behaviour when the group made their way to the states in two days. He had also been told that there was going to be a counsellor travelling with them on that tour, and that he was going to have regular sessions with her.

After all of that, he was just happy to be back home for the next couple of days. He didn’t have any interest in going out and getting drunk – he wasn’t even sure he wanted to touch alcohol after what had happened. Passing out in a hotel bathroom after being in so much pain from throwing up for what had felt like an hour straight wasn’t something he wanted to experience again. Nor was the sick thumping of his heart or the screaming noise in the back of his mind shouting at him that he was surely going to die.

It sent a chill down his spine as he remembered it.

He fumbled with his keys for a moment before unlocking the door and stepping inside. Almost instantly, he was greeted by his mother, who rushed over to him and wrapped her arms around him tightly.

He certainly hadn’t been expecting that, given that he’d had no idea she was going to be there waiting for him.

“It’s so good to see you,” she said, clinging to him.

Niall frowned a little, awkwardly hugging her back. Their relationship had become a little strained ever since the whole abortion incident, but it wasn’t as though he wasn’t happy to see her. He just felt it a little strange that she was there.

It was then that he looked further into his flat and noticed his older brother sitting on the couch. Niall looked at him, and he got up and walked over to the two of them.

His brother joined his mother in their hug, and Niall stood there quietly for a moment. Then the reality and fear sunk in.

They must have known.

“Paul told me,” Maura said almost accusingly as she pulled away from Niall. He gulped, knowing that he was probably going to be in for it now. Which was likely why Greg had joined her. Niall was just grateful his father wasn’t there as well – although he likely would have been a little more easygoing about the whole thing.

“Yeah,” Niall said awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck as he looked down at his mum. Greg kept his hand placed firmly on Niall’s back, and Niall sort of wanted to push him away, but he didn’t. Instead, he just stood there, waiting for Maura to continue.

“Why would you keep something like that from me?” she asked him harshly. “You could have died,” she said angrily, but Niall didn’t miss the tears that were beginning to well up in her eyes.

“I didn’t want to worry you,” he said simply, putting his hands in his pockets. It wasn’t entirely a lie – he hadn’t wanted to worry her unnecessarily. But he also didn’t want to admit to her that he’d nearly overdosed on cocaine. Not after the way she’d reacted upon hearing that Alicia had had an abortion.

“Not just about that,” she said, putting her hands on her hips and looking at him the way only a mother could. “About everything. If you were hurting so much that you had to turn to drugs you should have come to one of us,” she said, looking like she was about to break. “You should have talked to one of the other boys,” she said, her voice cracking. She hugged him tightly, and he wrapped his arms around her again.

He found it slightly odd that he was the one comforting her, considering what he’d just gone through, but it didn’t really bother him. After all, he didn’t really want it to be the other way around. That was what had gotten him into this mess in the first place – the need to cope with things on his own and not let anyone else in.

Maura pulled away and looked at him. “I’m going to go make you something to eat,” she said, touching his cheek slightly before leaving the room and walking into the kitchen.

Niall exhaled slowly, finally stepping further into his apartment and sitting down on the couch. He eyed his brother, who was still standing there a little awkwardly.

The two of them had never quite gotten along growing up. Now that they were older, their relationship was a little better, but Niall still didn’t feel overly close to him. He wasn’t sure he ever would.

“You’re bloody stupid,” Greg said, giving him a look.

Niall darted his eyes away from him and looked at the ground. Yes, he was well aware of that. He didn’t need his brother to lecture him – certainly not when he didn’t have any clue how he was feeling or what was going on in his brain. Sure, Greg was aware of the Alicia situation, but there was so much more Niall was worried and confused about now.

Things that he didn’t dare speak out loud to anyone – especially not his family.

“Knock it off, Greg,” Niall said cooly, not interested in breaking down and having a heart-to-heart chat. “I know.”

“I don’t think you do,” Greg said, sitting down next to him. Niall shifted over on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest. “I know you girlfriend died-”

“Ex-girlfriend,” Niall reminded him bitterly. As if that made the situation any better.

“Right,” Greg corrected himself. “Ex-girlfriend. But that doesn’t make it alright for you to go out there and hurt yourself. You getting all messed up isn’t going to bring her back. It’s not going to fix it.”

“You don’t understand,” Niall muttered.

“Maybe I don’t,” Greg said with a sigh, leaning forward and trying to meet Niall’s eyes. “I know that you must be hurting and that it’s not easy for you that someone you loved is gone. The way that you feel right now? If something were to have happened to you, that’s the way mum would feel. So if you think that you going out and getting pissed to the point where you’re nearly dead is going to solve all of your problems, it won’t.”

Niall thought about that for a moment, but he didn’t say anything. He hadn’t looked at it that way before. In fact, he was so sure that he was the scum of the earth and that everyone hated him that he’d never even considered the fact that his behaviour was hurting the people who loved him.

True, he knew that Liam loved him, and that the other boys loved him, but he’d nearly forgotten that besides them there were other people who cared as well.

“You don’t want mum to go through what you’re going through, do you?” Greg asked him quietly, but there was a firmness in his voice. “To have to deal with losing her youngest son?”

“No,” Niall said, stilling looking at the ground and shrugging a little.

“She loves you, Nialler,” Greg said seriously, and Niall looked up at him, raising his eyebrow a little. “I know that things have been tense between the two of you, but she does. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have flown me out from Ireland to come here and stay with her until you got home. Hell, she was almost on a plane out to Manchester to visit you in the hospital. I had to talk her out of it.”

“Thanks,” Niall mumbled, not knowing what else to say. He wasn’t sure what he would have done if she had shown up in Manchester – he didn’t think he would have been able to handle that in his broken state. He was grateful that Greg seemed to know that.

“Just lookin’ out for you,” Greg said, patting Niall on the back slightly.

“There we are,” Maura said, choosing that moment to walk back into the living room. Niall wondered how much of their conversation she had heard, but he didn’t ask about it. She placed a plate with a sandwich on it on the table in front him, and looked at him.

Niall nodded at her as he picked it up and ate it, as though to appease her. Even though he really was quite hungry.

“What, nothing for me?” Greg looked at her with a cheeky grin.

Maura shot him a look, indicating that this wasn’t the time for his jokes. “You didn’t have any food at all in your kitchen,” she said, turning to Niall as she sat down in the chair across from him. “I had to go out shopping.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Niall said in between bites of his food. “I usually just go out for food when I’m only here for a few days.”

But Maura just continued to watch him. “No, you needed to have some groceries in your house.”

“Translation,” Greg laughed, standing up from the couch and walking out of the room to go make himself something to eat. “She’s not going to let you go anywhere.”

Niall smiled a little and looked up at his mum. She laughed slightly, but Niall knew that Greg was right.

And even though his relationship with his family had been a little awkward for the past few months, he was glad to have them there with him. For the next couple of days, until he went to the states, he could at least pretend that everything was back to normal.

***

Normally, Liam would have welcomed the two days off with open arms. Or more accurately, a lay in his bed. With or without Danielle, that was fine.

But of course Danielle wasn’t there and wouldn’t be lying in bed with him anytime soon. His time off was likely going to be spent alone, and though he usually would have been okay with that he found himself growing restless.

The time they’d spent in Manchester had been hell, to put it lightly. Aside from Niall’s cocaine overdose they’d had to do press and explain why their last two European tour dates had been cancelled. The fans had been devastated, but luckily most of them understood.

Understood the fake story that they were being fed, but understood nonetheless.

Liam felt guilty, because though Niall had thanked him, he still though he was to blame for everything getting out out of control. Harry’s words had stuck with him, and now more than ever he felt as though he’d let not just Niall down, but himself and his bandmates. The fans as well. Some of them were now not going to get the chance to see the concert, and he felt horrible just thinking about that.

Being alone with his thoughts for two days had done some strange things to him. He had been over to his parents’ house to visit his family a couple of times, but it was doing him little good. He couldn’t talk with them about what was going through his mind, and he kept on a false happy face as he tried to make the most of the time he could spend with them.

He sighed, picking up his phone and scrolling through his contacts. Giving Harry a call was out of the question, as he was likely still annoyed with him. He tended to stay that way for quite some time. Zayn was probably busy with Perrie, and Louis…

Well, Liam figured that if he could talk to anyone, it would probably be Louis.

He was right, because Louis answered his phone after only one and a half rings. “Hi Liam.”

“Hi,” Liam said, sounding very much like a dejected Ross Gellar.

“Enjoying your time off, then?” Louis asked cheekily and Liam relaxed a little. He knew he’d made the right decision in who to call.

Even though really, the person he wanted to call was the exact person he knew he should keep his distance from. Or should he? He wasn’t quite sure and he supposed that was the entire reason for the phone call with Louis, even though he couldn’t explain everything, he could surely talk with him about some things under the guise of worry for his friend.

It wasn’t exactly a guise, but it was better than admitting to Louis that when he thought about Niall his heart physically ached.

“Yeah,” Liam said in the most unconvincing way possible.

“Yeah, it’s been a nice couple of days, hasn’t it?” Louis said easily. “It was good that we got some time off after all of that.”

Liam pouted a little, and he was grateful that Louis couldn’t see him do so over the phone. “Yeah, about that…” he wasn’t able to really stop himself, but he didn’t know what to say to Louis.

“What?” Louis asked.

“Have you talked to Niall?” he asked, hoping he didn’t sound too obvious or foolish. After having spent two days away from him, it was strange to not have had any contact with him. He’d told Niall that everything was going to be fine, and that was true, but he was still worried about him. He’d gotten so used to having him around and now that he didn’t he felt so scared and unsure.

He was sure that was just an effect of how Niall had been acting lately and his need to watch his friend’s every move to make sure he didn’t hurt himself.

Though that hadn’t exactly worked out well for him.

“No,” Louis said, sounding a little awkward. The light carefree tone was removed from his voice and had been replaced with a more serious one. “I haven’t heard from him, but I think that’s alright.”

“Yeah?” Liam asked, sounding a little more anxious than he’d intended. “Are you sure, because -”

“Liam,” Louis cut the younger boy off quickly. Where Liam was usually the sensible one, the roles were often reversed when it came to his relationship with Louis. He couldn’t very well play Daddy Direction to someone who was nearly two years older than him, after all.

“Yeah?”

“He’s fine. He’s not getting into any trouble. His mum and brother are with him in London. Do you think Maura would let anything happen to him under her watch?”

Liam shrugged, but couldn’t help feeling a pang of guilt. He hadn’t intended to let anything happen to Niall on his watch, and look what had happened. Though Maura probably had a little more sway with Niall than he did. “How did you know that?”

“Paul told me,” Louis answered simply.

“Well, do you think I should give him a call?” Liam asked, because he felt as though he should. Even if Niall’s family was with him, he wanted to hear for sure that the blonde boy was okay.

“I don’t think so,” Louis said. “I really don’t. He’s with his family and he’s fine. We’ll see him tomorrow when we go to the states, but I think until then we should just leave him be. The last thing we want to do is overwhelm him.”

“Yeah,” Liam muttered. He knew Louis was right but that didn’t stop him from wanting to speak to Niall and hear for himself that his friend was still alive. “I suppose you’re right.”

“Chin up, mate,” Louis said, and just like the the lightness in his voice returned. “We’ll see him tomorrow and we’ll begin the US tour with a fresh start. I know you’re worried, but Niall’s going to be okay.”

“Yeah,” Liam said, even though he was quite sure he believed the entire ‘fresh start’ thing. “Okay. See you tomorrow, Lou.”

“Bye,” Louis said, and hung up the phone.

Liam put his head in his hands and took a deep breath. He tried to let Louis’ words resonate in his mind. Niall was with his family and he was going to be okay. He wasn’t going out and partying, and he certainly wouldn’t be doing any cocaine with his mum staying with him.

Objectively, Liam knew that the boy he loved had probably been safe for the past two days. He pictured Niall laughing and talking with his mum and began to feel a little better.

Still, every time he thought of Niall’s smiling face it was coupled with the memory of him unmoving on the bathroom floor.

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