Chapter 8 – Blind Fanatic

Liam had stayed with Niall until the blonde boy had managed to fall asleep. It took most of the night, and the two boys hadn’t said much to each other. Niall had just cried and Liam had held him in the doorway until he’d composed himself. He’d suggested Niall try to sleep, and Niall had just nodded, laying down on the bed, tears still running down the sides of his face.

And Liam, the good friend he was, laid down next to him. He’d tried not to focus too much on poor Niall’s bloodshot eyes or the hard breaths his friend was taking. He could practically feel Niall’s heart pounding in his chest through his clothes when he’d hugged him, and wondered why it was so hard for him to calm down.

As much as Liam hated to think about it, Niall had slept with dozens of girls before. What had happened that was so different about this time? Why was he so upset?

But instead of asking him, Liam just laid there. Eventually Niall’s breathing evened out, and he fell asleep. Liam felt his own eyelids drooping, but he knew he really had to get back to his own hotel room. Though he’d told Danielle he was going to check up on Niall, he felt sort of bad for just leaving her alone in their room the whole night.

In his sleep, Niall rolled over slightly and rested his head against Liam. Liam sighed to himself, enjoying the calmness of the situation. It was rare these days to have a moment like this with his friend, and even rarer still to have one that was so intimate.

So, against his better judgement, Liam snuggled up closer to Niall and allowed himself to fall asleep.

It only felt like seconds later that there was a loud banging at the door. When Liam opened his eyes, he realized that five hours had passed.

“Mmm, what’s going on?” Niall muttered, waking up only slightly.

“We fell asleep,” Liam said simply. He hadn’t planned to go into any further detail than that, but couldn’t resist. “Do you remember what happened last night?”

Niall opened his eyes and gave Liam a look. “Yes,” he said, his head still placed firmly on the pillows.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Liam asked quietly, really hoping that Niall would repeat the same word he’d just said, but knowing that he wouldn’t.

“No.”

Liam sighed a little, but didn’t press it. As it was, he was lucky enough that Niall had fallen asleep and seemed to be less irritable than he had been the night before.

The knocking on the door persisted, and Liam stood up to answer it, while Niall closed his eyes again in an attempt to fall asleep.

Liam bit his lip as he looked through the peephole and subsequently opened the door.

Danielle.

“Well good morning,” she said, her hands on her hips. “You never came back last night.” She stated something Liam was already well aware of, but it still pained him to hear the words come out of her mouth.

“No,” he said scratching the back of his neck with his hand and looking at her sheepishly. “I’m sorry.”

Danielle shrugged, the bun sitting on top of her head bouncing a little. “It’s alright. I know you guys were probably having a heart-to-heart,” she smiled for a second, but it quickly faded as she peeked inside the room. “How is he?” she mouthed, making barely any sound.

Liam just shook his head with a frown.

Danielle sighed, and looked up at Liam sympathetically. “Well, I know you’re just trying to help,” she said putting her hand on her boyfriend’s shoulder. “But I think he really needs-”

“Don’t,” Liam stopped her before she started up with the therapy talk again. “He’s doing a bit better,” he assured her, and really, he honestly believed that he was.

But Danielle wasn’t buying it. “You can’t save him, Liam,” she said quietly, after once again peering into the room to make sure Niall was still asleep. “This is bigger than you.”

Liam only nodded, his mouth turned downwards. He pulled Danielle in for a hug, needed some sort of affection. Deep down, he knew that she was right, but he didn’t want to admit it at all. Hewanted to be able to help Niall, and he wanted to be the one to be able to pull him out of his seemingly crippling depression.

And he wanted Niall to be the one who was embracing him lovingly.

***

That night, the boys arrived as usual at their next hotel for the evening. Danielle was positively giddy, as earlier in the day she’d spotted a nice restaurant close to the hotel. Feeling somewhat guilty for leaving her behind the night before, Liam had called them up and quickly secured a romantic evening for the two of them.

Liam had a quick shower while Danielle got herself ready. As he rand a soapy hand through his hair, Liam found it difficult to not think about Niall. His friend had seemed in slightly better spirits that morning, but as the day wore on, he had faded back to his usual, glum self.

It depressed Liam to think about the fact that being gloomy was now expected of Niall, the boy whose smile used to light up a room. Now, his very presence seemed to darken one.

Liam tried to push those thoughts out of his mind as he finished up showering and got dressed. He needed to focus on his relationship with Danielle – having his mind consumed with thoughts of Niall wasn’t going to help anyone. It certainly wasn’t going to get him anywhere, and just thinking about it wasn’t going to help Niall get through whatever issues he had.

“Ready to go?” Danielle asked him with a smile when he was nearly done getting ready.

“Just about,” Liam answered, checking himself out in the mirror one last time. He turned around to look at her. She was positively beautiful, and he found himself having to consciously concentrate on that. At one point, he’d hardly have been able to focus on anything but the skin tight black dress she was wearing, except for maybe the fantasy of taking it off of her.

Now, he just easily linked his arm with hers as they left. “Let’s go.”

The two of them walked silently through the hotel halls, stopping at the elevators. Danielle leaned over to press a light kiss on Liam’s cheek as he pressed the button to call the elevator. His lips curled up slightly, and he looked at her with a slight nod. As if to promise her that later, there would be more.

They pulled away from each other slightly when they stepped into the elevator, but as soon as they reached the main floor, they linked their hands together. Liam looked down at Danielle for a second, smiling slightly, trying to muster up some kind of excitement for their date.

It didn’t work, and when they stepped outside they saw Niall standing on the side of the street hopping into a cab.

Without thinking, Liam dropped his hand from Danielle’s and rushed over to him. He didn’t even notice the exasperated sigh Danielle made as she followed him.

Liam put his hand on Niall’s shoulder in an effort to stop him from getting into the car. “Where are you going?” he demanded.

Niall snapped his head back, looking at Liam in complete and utter shock. He obviously hadn’t noticed his friend exiting the hotel. He quickly composed himself and gave Liam a look. “Out,” he said, leaning his arm against the open door of the taxi.

Liam rolled his eyes. “Well, clearly. Where? Why are you going alone? Take some security with you, at least.”

“I don’t see you with any security,” Niall shot back, not touching on anything else Liam had said.

“That’s because we’re going to be a block away in our own private room that the restaurant already has set up for us.”

“Oh,” Niall said, his voice dripping with false excitement. “Well, have a great time Liam. Enjoy your romantic and perfect evening. I’ll be off then, have a great time with your girlfriend,” he spat, glaring at Liam before moving to get back into the cab.

But Liam sharply grabbed Niall’s shoulder once again. “You could come with us,” he said frantically, without thinking. The only thing on his mind was keeping Niall from going to the club and drinking himself into a stupor. If only he’d known how much worse it was, he likely would have dragged Niall out of the cab and locked him in his hotel room.

Niall scoffed. “No,”

Neither boy noticed Danielle’s shocked expression at the scene that was playing out in front of her. She was speechless – had Liam completely forgot she was standing right there? Were they not supposed to have a romantic evening just the two of them?

“Come on, don’t go out to the club,” he said desperately, then lowered his voice and leaned in closer to Niall. “You remember what happened yesterday, don’t you? It’s not going to help you. Come with me.”

Niall studied Liam for a second, and for a split second, Liam saw the old Niall behind his glazed over grey eyes. The clear blue that they used to be shone through. It was like seeing the person his friend used to be, trapped inside this broken shell of himself. “Please,” Liam pressed.

Niall sighed. “Fine.” He stood up and slammed the door of the cab, allowing Liam to pull him into a tight hug.

It was then that Danielle cleared her throat and gave the two boys an unimpressed look.

“Niall’s going to come with us,” Liam said, unable to contain the grin on his face, while Niall just shrugged slightly. “I hope that’s okay.”

It wasn’t okay with Danielle at all, but there wasn’t very much she could say about it. “It’s fine,” she said, forcing a smile on her face. “Let’s go.”

The three of them continued to walk the short distance to the restaurant. Danielle trailed a little behind as Liam led Niall there with his arm slung around his shoulders.

She tried not to let it bother her, and she knew that Niall really did need the friend, but did that friend have to come at the cost of her relationship?

***

To make matters worse, they had been seated at an intimate booth that was really only meant for two. Danielle sat across from the two boys as Liam had opted to sit beside Niall. She wasn’t sure if her boyfriend realized how ridiculous he was acting, or if he just didn’t care.

“What’re you having, Dani?” Liam asked, glancing through the menu while Niall sipped lazily on his water. Liam couldn’t help but look over as Niall took one of the ice cubes in his mouth, played with it between his teeth a little and then finally let it melt on his tongue.

He nearly forgot that this was supposed to be a date with his girlfriend as he imagined the sorts of things Niall could do to him with his mouth.

“The steak,” she said with agitation, bringing Liam back down to earth. “What’re you having?” she asked, plastering yet another fake grin on her face.

“Uh,” he said, taking another quick glance through the menu. “I suppose I’ll have the steak as well. Niall?” he turned his head towards the blonde.

Niall just shrugged. “Not hungry.”

“Oh come on, Niall,” Danielle sighed, before Liam had a chance to lovingly tell the Irish boy he had to eat something. “You’re here, you might as well eat.”

Niall glanced down at the menu in front of Liam. “Chicken, I suppose.”

“We should have gone to Nando’s instead,” Liam said with a laugh, eliciting a slight smile from Niall as the two boys looked at each other.

Danielle felt her blood begin to boil.

Before the moment had a chance to get any more tense, the waitress came over and quickly asked them what they were having. Liam, the gentleman that he was, took the liberty of rattling off all of their orders and handing the menus over to the waitress before she walked off.

The three of them looked at each other a little awkwardly. It shouldn’t have been that way – they’d all gone out together many times in the past. But this was somehow different. Danielle was growing increasingly more annoyed with Niall’s presence and how much attention Liam paid to him – attention that bordered on affection, even. Niall couldn’t be bothered to make any small talk, feeling annoyed just being around Danielle and Liam and their perfect relationship.

If only he knew how perfect it truly wasn’t. He was so self-absorbed that he didn’t see the little glances that Liam was giving him, the fact that Danielle didn’t seem to be happy at all and the falseness of all their actions towards each other. Niall had no idea that Liam would have much rather been on a date with him – that Danielle wasn’t the person he wanted in his bed when dinner was over.

When their food came, Danielle ate quickly. She took her frustration out on her steak, stabbing it with her fork and looking as though she wanted to kill it, rather than enjoy it. Niall didn’t take any notice of this, pushing his food around on his plate and only taking a few bites before declaring he was done.

Liam just sighed, but tried not to let it interfere with his enjoyment of his own dinner. He simply gave Niall a look and said that was fine. Really, he was just grateful for the small victory of preventing Niall from going out for the evening.

He looked up at Danielle, who was still breathing heavily as she ate. “You okay, Dani?” he asked sweetly.

“Oh yes,” she said with sarcasm, giving him a glare and taking a gulp of her water. She really wished they would have ordered wine – but of course the whole point was apparently to keep Niall from drinking, so it wasn’t like that would have gone over well. “Just fine.”

“You look upset,” he said sincerely. He knew she probably wasn’t pleased with Niall tagging along on what was supposed to be their date – but she had to have understood. Niall couldn’t be all by himself, not when he had this tendency of getting into trouble. A slightly altered evening was worth it to Liam to have his friend safely by his side and not out at a seedy bar.

“Really?” Danielle asked, unable to hide her frustration with her boyfriend. “Well I’m not. I am however, finished for the evening,” she said, wiping her mouth with the cloth serviette, tossing it on the table and leaving in a huff.

“Dani,” Liam called out, but she didn’t look back as she walked away. He sighed to himself, slouching down a little in the booth.

“Are you going to go after her?” Niall asked, raising his eyebrow. “That was weird.”

Liam looked over at Niall. No, he wasn’t going to go after Danielle. Doing so would just put Niall back in the position of being alone, which was exactly what Liam was trying to avoid. “No, I’ll let her cool off. Eat the rest of your dinner,” he said, nodding towards the plate.

Niall continued to look at Liam a little awkwardly, but his spirits seemed to pick up a little. When it was just the two of them he felt a little better. Without Danielle there, he didn’t have to have their relationship shoved in his face, reminding him of everything he’d lost.

So, even though he wasn’t hungry, he picked up his fork and shoved a piece of chicken in his mouth.

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