Chapter 25 – Come What May

As luck would have it, there was no time for Niall to catch Liam alone before the show after his conversation with Louis. In fact, once the two of them returned from the bathroom they were whisked away by wardrobe to get ready for the show and right away after that it was curtain time.

At least the show gave Niall an outlet for all his pent up restlessness. It wasn’t that he was nervous about telling the others – well, that wasn’t entirely true. He was nervous, but it was just the act that was scaring him, not necessarily how they would react.

Plus he knew he was going to have to clear it with Liam first, and while he was sure Liam would be fine with it (after all, Niall himself had been the one to suggest keeping it a secret in the first place) it still worried him a little.

But that adrenaline poured into his performance, and he was as energetic as ever on stage. The fans ate it up of course. This was probably the first show this tour that he was truly back to his stage persona Niall self – jumping around through the fast paced songs, playing his guitar with sass and clinging to the other guys.

It felt good to be back to normal. He’d taken that for granted before, but now he truly understood how important being comfortable in his own skin was.

Two hours later, the pyrotechnics were going off and the five boys were running for their tour bus like their lives depended on it. They were whisked into it as fast as possible before it took off back to the hotel.

Niall sat as close to Liam as he could on the tour bus. He was very nearly in his lap but figured he might as well just sit still and wait until they were all able to privately be in a room together before outing their relationship.

“Hey lads?” Niall asked, taking a deep breath. They all turned to look at him, breathing heavily and coming down from their post-show highs. “Uh, could we all have a quick band meeting in my hotel room after we all have a chance to shower and stuff?” He knew that he needed to check with Liam first, but he figured if Liam decided against telling the others, he could just make something up.

Louis smiled at him and nodded. Harry and Zayn sort of looked at him a bit strangely, but quickly nodded as well.

Liam looked down at him, and Niall felt his breath catch in his throat a little. He quickly recovered when he remembered that this was <i>Liam</i> and if anyone knew exactly what it was he was thinking, he would be that person.

“Of course, Nialler,” Liam said easily.

Niall smiled and looked around at the others. “Thanks,” he said in his thick Irish accent.

“T’anks,” Harry imitated him, and the others bust out into a fit of giggles.

Yes, it seemed that things were well on their way back to being normal.

***

There was a soft knock at Niall’s door not fifteen minutes later. Niall quickly pulled a t-shirt on over his damp skin, wondering who it could be that was arriving first along with silently praying it was Liam.

Of course it was.

“Hey, Li,” Niall said quickly, once he opened the door and allowed him into the room.

Liam wasted no time enveloping Niall in a hug and kissing him deeply. Niall shuddered, ready to respond with more kisses before he remembered that the others were going to be along soon.

“So,” Liam said, pulling away slightly for a moment, and then pacing a bit around the room. “You decided to tell them after all?”

“Uh, yeah,” Niall said slightly awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck. “I hope that’s alright. I had a conversation with Louis and-”

Liam laughed a little. It was so like Niall to be so rash at one moment, and then second guessing himself the next. “It’s fine, Niall. It was you who wanted to keep it a secret this whole time, remember? I never had a problem with it.”

Niall nodded, breathing a slight sigh of relief. Liam was simply confirming what he already knew – there was no issue at hand. He was fine with the others knowing about their relationship.

So, Niall and Liam sat down on the edge of the hotel bed, impatiently waiting for the others to arrive. It didn’t take long – first Zayn showed up, followed by Louis, and eventually Harry.

“Sorry I’m late,” Harry said, swooping his mop of wet hair to the side. “There was this girl who was texting me and well… let’s be quick about this, yeah?”

Louis rolled his eyes, but he didn’t say anything. Instead he just looked up at Niall and Liam, waiting for them to spill the news that he was already well aware of.

Liam glanced over at Niall, giving him the signal that he was the one who could make the official announcement. Niall took a deep breath as he stood up, looking down at the others. Liam was waiting patiently on the bed, Louis was laying behind him. Zayn was sitting in the desk chair and Harry was lounging lazily in the couch in the corner.

All eyes were on him, and the moment was now.

“Right so,” Niall said, eyeing each of them individually before finally stopping on Louis. It was easier for him to talk to him, after all, since they’d already discussed it earlier. “Liam and I, me and Liam… we’ve decided to take our relationship to the next level.”

Louis smiled, whereas Zayn and Harry just looked slightly confused.

“We’re dating,” Liam clarified, unable to hide the ever-growing grin on his face.

“Yeah, right,” Niall nodded. “Dating,” he repeated, liking the sound of that a lot more than whatever clumsy words had just fallen out of his mouth.

Harry raised his eyebrow. “That’s what you brought us here for?” he asked.

“Well, yeah,” Niall nodded, as though it was obvious. He was expecting a bit more of a reaction, to be perfectly honest. Even if it was a good one. “I thought it warranted at least some kind of band meeting.”

Zayn shrugged. “I suppose it did,” he said. “But really, it’s not that much of a surprise. You two have always been close. If anything, I’m sort of surprised it didn’t happen sooner.”

Louis sat up and crossed his arms over his chest, stifling a little bit of a laugh.

“What?” Liam asked, looking over at him slightly irritably.

“Sorry,” Louis said, still grinning. “It’s just that Niall was so concerned about all of this, and like I said, it really wasn’t a big deal at all. Nothing’s even changed.”

“Yeah,” Harry said slowly, eyeing Liam, and then looking back up at Niall. “Don’t get us wrong, we’re really happy for you and all. It’s just… not exactly breaking news. I mean, Liam’s not exactly subtle.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Liam asked, this time more irritably.

“Exactly what I said,” Harry shrugged. “You think just because you and Niall were close that the rest of us aren’t? We can read you like a book, and right now, the title of your book is <i>I’m In Love With Niall Horan</i> a memoir of the past two years by Liam Payne.”

Even Niall had to giggle at that, half because Harry was completely right, and half because he hoped to God it was true that Liam’s feelings were as deep as Harry was implying.

As if there were any shadow of a doubt.

“So, it’s fine then?” Niall clarified, looking around at all of them. “There’s no weirdness with the band or anything?”

Louis, Zayn and Harry glanced at each other, but quickly shook their heads. “No,” Zayn said, as though Niall’s comment was utterly ridiculous. “The only weirdness in the group was when… well, you know. I’d say this is the least of our problems from the last year.”

Niall breathed a sigh of relief as the other boys got up from their seats. Louis put his hand on Niall’s shoulder and rubbed it comfortingly. Niall smiled at him as though to give him confirmation, once again, that he was right. Liam move in front of Niall and hugged him tightly, and just as he did this the other boys joined in.

The five of them embraced silently for a few moments in a group hug that secured their bond as a group, and more importantly, as friends.

***

There was a cool breeze that filtered in through Liam’s hotel room as Niall slid open the glass doors to the balcony. He sat down quietly on the bench next to Liam and rested his head on his shoulder.

Liam sighed with content at Niall’s touch. It was late and it had been a long day. He was well aware that they had an early start the next morning and should probably be heading to bed. Even though he would have much rather just sat with Niall the entire night, being responsible was both one of his best and worst qualities.

“Hmmm…” Liam said, reaching up and running a hand through Niall’s hair, which was damp with a mix of water and sweat. “We should probably be off to bed.”

Niall nodded slightly, but made no motion to move. “Just a few more minutes.”

Liam could hardly argue with that, especially when Niall had asked so softly and sweetly. As though everything was right in the world – and who was he to take that away from Niall? After all, it was the very feeling he’d been trying to give him all along.

He smiled to himself as he realized he’d finally accomplished that. Of course, it wasn’t just through his own efforts. Niall himself had obviously worked hard to overcome his issues and that was something Liam was far more happy about.

“I’m proud of you, Ni,” Liam said softly, still slightly tousling Niall’s hair with his fingertips.

Niall glanced up at him with a slightly look of confusion. “For what? Telling the others?”

Liam shook his head. He supposed that was part of it, but it definitely wasn’t the big picture. “No… I mean, yeah, but that’s not all. You’ve been through so much, and now you’re back to the way you were. You overcame so much, Niall.”

Niall smiled, leaning even closer to Liam. His boyfriend’s words resonated with him. It was true – he had been through a lot and back again. It had been a hard road getting there, but he’d come through the other end with a new clarity on himself and an important life lesson.

He wished it hadn’t come at such a cost, of course, but life wasn’t without its hardships, and he understood that now.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Niall murmured softly, nuzzling his head into Liam’s strong arm. “You saved me, Liam,” he said seriously, looking up at him and gazing into his eyes.

Liam just smiled. He didn’t argue with Niall, even though he fully believed that Niall had done just as much for him as he had done for him. “I’m happy you’re happy again,” he said finally.

“I am,” Niall said honestly, cuddling up to Liam once more and staring out onto the skyline of the city. “I really am.”

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