Chapter 6 – Alright, Okay, Fine

Any adrenaline that had been running through Niall’s veins during the concert that night quickly vanished as soon as they were back on the bus. He had to fight to stay awake during the ride back to the hotel, and very nearly had to be carried by Paul back to his room he was so worn out.

He didn’t say much when questioned, only that he was tired and had been having a rough few days. Of course, that was a given, considering the situation he was in and all. Alicia’s death had almost given him a free pass for his behaviour, and it wasn’t exactly a good thing.

It meant he could get away with a whole lot more.

But that night instead of going out and getting fucked up at a club like he usually did, he just laid on his hotel room bed and counted the specs on the ceiling. Tired and overwrought, it was difficult for him to actually fall asleep. He flipped on the TV and tried to concentrate on the late night talk shows, but they bored him, and soon his mind was wandering.

He switched it off and closed his eyes, enjoying the darkness of the room.

Silence, complete and utter silence where no one was bugging him or demanding his attention was such a luxury for him these days.

Things had died down in recent months, but Niall could still very clearly recall a time when his life was overly chaotic and full of noise.

It had all started with the cover of the National Enquirer.

Someone had snapped a photo of Niall and Alicia leaving the clinic, and it had skyrocketed from there. Suddenly, there was a story to go along with the photo, and everyone was speculating. The actual story printed wasn’t entirely true and was just made up of guessing and assumptions. But as they were leaving an abortion clinic, hands linked together, it wasn’t hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

And as soon as that magazine hit the newsstand, chaos had broken loose on twitter.

niallersprincess: ummmm wtf is with that national enqiurer? @niallofficial? @alicia_may?

Boobearcurly: theres no way alicia got an abortion. Niall is catholic… it’s gross that Niall is even trending

1DUpdates: guys don’t bother buying the National Enquirer! It’ll just give them more money to make up more stories because this obviously isn’t true…

Niall had remained silent on twitter. The fans didn’t need to know what was going on in his personal life; it was none of their business.

His mum, however…

“Tell me that story isn’t true,” she said immediately after he’d answered his cell phone.

Niall drew in a breath. “Sorry, mum…”

He could have sworn he’d heard her choke back a sob. He rolled his eyes a little; his mum could be such a drama queen sometimes. “Niall…”

“I know,” he said, running a hand through his hair, as he often did when he was stressed. “Yes, I know. But what other choice did I have?”

“Well, maybe you could have not slept with her in the first place.”

Again, he rolled his eyes. “Right, okay, mum.” What an awkward conversation this was. He didn’t need it at all. After all, he was twenty years old. She couldn’t tell him what to do anymore.

“I’m serious, I’m not happy.”

“And you think I am?” Niall nearly shouted, annoyed with the audacity of her statement. As though it had been an easy choice for him an Alicia! Far from it. It was very quickly serving to make their lives a living hell. “It wasn’t easy, okay? And it’s not easy. Alicia and I get loads of shit from fans on twitter every day. I’m used to people judging me and all that, but she’s not. Not like this. Not for something that’s tearing her apart inside already.”

Maura was silent for a moment and Niall composed himself. “Sorry,” he muttered, when she didn’t say anything.

“For what?” she asked, her voice wavering. “For going off on me, or for what you did?”

“Both,” he said sincerely. “But it’s done, we can’t change it. I’m really sorry, mum.”

“You should have been more careful,” she chastised him.

“I know, I will be.” This was really a conversation more suited to his father.

As if Maura’s mind had gone the same way, she said, “have you spoken to your father yet?”

Niall shrugged. “Yeah, he knows. He’s okay.”

Maura scoffed. “Of course he is.”

Niall sighed. Fifteen years, and his parents still managed to make jabs at the other when they weren’t even in the same room. “Right, well, I’ve gotta get going mum.”

“Niall,” she said quickly, nearly cutting him off. “You’re still my son, and I still love you, no matter what.”

Even though she’d said it, he didn’t quite feel it. “Thanks mum, I love you too,” he said automatically, before turning off his phone.

He thought about calling Alicia to complain about the situation, but decided against it. Doing so would only serve to make her feel worse, and she was already in a bad place. She continually got messages on twitter, and occasionally fans heckled her when she went out in public.

Simply put, she was dealing with enough already because of him, he didn’t feel the need to add to her stress.

So, he flopped down on his bed and stared at the ceiling.

***

“You’re awful quiet,” Danielle said, draping her arm over her boyfriend’s chest and snuggling up to him.

“Hmmm…” he said, looking up at the ceiling. There were little dots all over the tiles, and he had no hope of counting them all.

“Usually you’re more chatty after,” she mused, looking up at him. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” he said, not quite wanting to get into it.

“Liam,” she pressed.

He sighed. Danielle was always able to wrangle the truth out of him, one way or another. “I’m just worried about Niall,” he admitted.

She raised her eyebrows a little. “Should I be concerned that you’re thinking about your best friend during this very intimate moment of ours?” she laughed a little.

“I wasn’t thinking about him when we were, you know,” he lied. He very much had, even though he’d tried his very best not to. Niall had creeped into his mind, and hadn’t been able to be pushed out. And it wasn’t the first time this had happened.

It wasn’t even the first time it had happened with Danielle, but Liam tried not to concern himself with that. Even though Niall showed up in his mind at the most inopportune of moments, he was sure he still loved her.

Even if he had feelings for Niall too. But those didn’t matter. They weren’t an issue and he wasn’t about to let them become one.

“Right, I know,” she said quickly. “I was only kidding.” She looked up at him with concern. “I guess you’re pretty worried about him, then?”

“Well, it’s hard not to be. His ex-girlfriend just passed away. He won’t admit it, but it’s easy to see it’s killing him inside.”

“Yeah,” Danielle said quietly, leaning her head back against the pillows. “That’s awful, isn’t it? I really liked Alicia.”

“Me too,” Liam said with a slight nod. Had he been jealous of all the time Alicia and Niall had spent together? Absolutely. But he’d still liked her as a person. Just maybe not as Niall’s girlfriend.

Then again, he didn’t think he’d ever be able to warm up to someone who was dating his friend.

“Do you think he’s going to be alright? He’s been through a lot…” Danielle said softly, looking up at Liam with her soft loving eyes. At one time in his life, it had been easy for him to get lost in them. Now, he found himself searching and trying to find that same feeling again.

“I don’t know,” Liam said honestly, and with worry. Niall had been acting so strangely lately, and even though there was an explanation for it, it still scared him. He’d always been a little bit of a worrier, but this felt different. Like he could tell something was actually off, even if he didn’t quite know what it was.

“Maybe he needs to see someone,” Danielle suggested with a shrug.

“What?” Liam asked. “Like a therapist?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Especially if he’s not dealing with it well.”

For some reason, that made Liam overly defensive. “He doesn’t need a therapist, Dani,” he said, perhaps a little harsher than he’d intended.

“Okay, sorry,” Danielle said, reeling back a little. “It’s just that you said you were worried about him, and that it was killing him inside. He’s been acting strangely and he’s obviously depressed, I just thought…”

“He’s just going through a period of grief, it’s going to be fine,” Liam said, but the assurance was more for himself than for Danielle. If even Danielle was noticing that things were off with Niall, then they must have been really bad. And Liam simply wouldn’t allow himself to admit that.

“Right, well, I’d say it’s more than just grief.” Liam looked over at Danielle, somewhat annoyed that she wasn’t letting it go and also slightly grateful he had someone to talk about this with. “I mean, aside from the fact that they were dealing with the moral dilemma of the abortion, the media knew about it and wouldn’t stop harping on them, the fans wouldn’t leave them alone, she left him out of nowhere, and now-”

“Stop,” Liam cut her off. “Just stop. After all that we’re wondering why he’s acting weird?”

Danielle just shrugged. “Well, he was fine up until now, wasn’t he? Maybe it’s starting to catch up with him.”

Liam sighed and rolled back over onto the pillows. No, he didn’t think that Niall had been fine up until now. He was sure his friend had just been bottling everything up inside.

Maybe Danielle was right, maybe it was beginning to catch up with him.

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