Chapter 9 – Nothing Has To Be So Perfect

Liam opened the door to his hotel room awkwardly the next morning. He tried to be as quiet as possible, as though not to wake Danielle.

After she’d left the restaurant, Niall and Liam had gone back upstairs. Niall had told Liam he could go back to his room, and that it was fine, but Liam had insisted on staying with him. He was simply terrified that the blonde would go out and do something stupid. As much as he knew he was being overprotective, he hadn’t let himself leave Niall alone. Niall had conceded to Liam staying in his room, and the two of them had ended up falling asleep together whilst watching a movie.

Liam had woken up a little earlier than he’d needed to be, but that was all right. It would give him some time to go back to his own room and explain things to Danielle before they had to check out of the hotel and begin making their way to the next city.

He’d expected the lights in the room to be off and to see Danielle curled up in the sheets of the bed.

Instead, what he saw was Danielle bustling around the room, packing her things into her suitcase.

“Uh, hi,” Liam said awkwardly, not quite sure what she was doing. He closed the door behind himself and made sure it was shut properly before walking over to Danielle. “What’re you doing?” he asked quietly, putting his hand on Danielle’s wrist.

She snapped away from him. “Leaving,” she said shortly, pushing her clothes down and zipping up her suitcase. She barely made eye contact with Liam as she looked around the room, presumably to make sure she hadn’t missed anything.

Liam furrowed his eyebrows. Sure, he’d spent a little bit more time with Niall than he’d meant to, and it had been easy to tell that Danielle was frustrated, but to leave? “Why?” he asked quietly.

She glared at him as she leaned over to set her suitcase upright on the floor. “Well, you don’t really need me here, do you?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips.

“Of course I do,” Liam said, moving in to hug her. He didn’t want her to leave. That wasn’t going to solve anything. They’d been together for so long, and sure, he felt attached to Niall, and he even felt as though he was in love with Niall.

But Danielle had been his girlfriend since he was seventeen years old. She knew him better than anyone else did.

“No you don’t,” Danielle snapped, pulling away from him. “You don’t need me at all. You’re not even concerned with me, you’re only concerned about Niall.”

Liam sighed. He knew that Danielle and Niall weren’t close, but he didn’t understand why she just couldn’t have compassion for him. “He’s been through a lot,” Liam said softly.

“I know,” Danielle said, rolling her eyes. Then she softened, obviously feeling bad for brushing Niall’s issues to the side. “I know,” she repeated, her words more apologetic this time around. “But you can’t help him, Li. It’s not going to do you any good to sit around any babysit him. And it’s certainly not going to do me any good.”

“Dani,” Liam pleaded, searching her face for any indication that her mind could be changed. “You’re going to leave over a couple of days where I’ve spent more time with Niall than with you?” he asked in disbelief.

But Danielle just shook her head sadly. “No Liam, I’m not. It’s not just been these past couple of days, it’s been getting worse and worse every time you’re around him.”

Liam sighed, shaking his head. He couldn’t quite manage to make eye contact with Danielle because deep down, he knew everything she was saying was true.

“Liam,” Danielle said softly, moving in closer to him and touching his cheek slightly. “I love you, but I need to go. I can’t do this anymore.”

“But Dani,” Liam began to protest, but he was cut off.

“How long have you been in love with Niall?” she asked him sadly, hugging him tightly for a moment before pulling away.

“I’m not in love with Niall,” Liam said hoarsely. It was the first time anything about that subject matter had been spoken about aloud, and it made him sick. Because as he heard the words coming out of his mouth, his heart knew they were a lie.

“Liam,” Danielle said knowingly.

Liam shook his head as he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “I don’t know,” he admitted.

“It’s okay,” Danielle soothed, hugging him tightly again. “I just can’t stay. I can’t stay and be the person you’re not in love with. It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to you.”

Liam just nodded, knowing full well that she was right. The revelation terrified him, because with Danielle gone, it was as though it was finally real.

He was in love with his best friend.

“Bye, Liam,” Danielle said, kissing him softly on the cheek before wheeling her suitcase out of the room. Liam didn’t dare turn his head to watch her go. Instead, he just listened to her light footsteps coupled with the rough rolls of the wheels on her luggage.

When the door clicked shut, he walked over to the bed and sat on it. His hands were firmly in his lap, and his heart felt as though it was stuck in his throat.

***

A couple hours later, the boys were herded on to the bus to make their way to the next city. Much to everyone’s surprise, Niall didn’t have to be pulled from his room with force, and for this, Liam was glad. He didn’t have the energy to go see what Niall was up to.

Instead he just walked into the bus with his head down. Danielle was gone, and though he knew it was for the best, their four year relationship was over, and it hurt. No matter what else was going on in his life, that was hard for him to accept.

“Where’s Danielle?” he heard Harry whisper to Louis as the two of them glanced in Liam’s direction.

Liam pretended not to hear them and headed straight for his bunk. He roughly closed the curtain shut and laid there silently, listening to the banter of the others.

They quickly dropped the Danielle subject and moved on to talking about whatever trouble Harry had gotten himself into the night before. Liam didn’t quite care to hear any of these anecdotes. Normally he would have been out there alongside the others, laughing along with them and telling Harry he should really try in the future to not be so stupid.

But he couldn’t be bothered.

He heard the shuffling of feet down the small corridor and shut his eyes, pretending he was asleep. He didn’t really want to talk to anyone at the moment. But instead of anyone pulling back the curtain or saying his name, he just heard them hop into the bunk above his.

He stared up at the ceiling of his bunk, knowing full well who was above him. And for once, he didn’t care. The only thing on his mind was how he missed Danielle, how much he’d royally screwed up, and how after four years, she was suddenly out of his life.

That is, until he heard who he assumed to be the blonde boy start weeping softly into his pillow.

Then, all thoughts of Danielle were pushed aside and were replaced with feelings of sympathy for Niall. His heart broke as he heard his friend break down above him. Before he knew it he was sliding out of his bunk and lightly tapping on the wall beside it.

“What?” Niall asked irritably.

“It’s just me, mate,” Liam sighed. All that progress he’d made with Niall and the boy was already back to his gloomy, snippy self.

He heard Niall audibly sigh, but he opened the curtain just the same. He wiped his eyes with his hand quickly, but tried to mask but it running his fingers through his hair right afterwards. “Hi,” he said.

“Are you okay?” Liam asked, not wanting to dance around the subject.

“Fine,” Niall lied, shaking his head. He looked at Liam as though he wanted to change the topic because whatever was going on in his own mind was too muddled and hurtful to speak about. “Where’s Danielle?” he asked.

Liam shrugged. He hadn’t really wanted to get into it, but he supposed there was no point in keeping it a secret. Everyone was going to find out about it eventually – it was only a matter of time.

Plus, if he wanted to get Niall to open up to him, it was only right that he did the same.

“She’s left me,” he muttered, looking away.

Niall furrowed his eyebrows. “What do you mean? She’s gone home?”

“No,” Liam said quickly, but then reconsidered. “I mean, yeah. But for good. She’s not coming back.” He glanced back up at Niall, and he couldn’t read the look on his face. There was confusion around his eyes, and his lips were pursed so tightly that they were almost a straight line.

“Sorry,” Niall said finally. “I just wasn’t expecting to hear that. You guys were the perfect couple,” he said, with almost a tinge of bitterness in his voice.

Liam shrugged. He’d thought so too – but evidently he’d been wrong. That, and it was hard for things to be perfect when he was in love with someone else. “Yeah, I don’t know. I guess not everything turns out perfect,” he said sadly, glancing at Niall.

Niall nodded. He’d learned that lesson far too well. “Well,” he said, shuffling around a little awkwardly. “Anything you need, I’m here for you.”

Liam had to try his best not to scoff at that. How could Niall be there for him when he couldn’t even be there for himself? Still, he forced a smile onto his face as though to appease his friend. “Thanks.”

Niall just nodded, but continued to look at Liam. “Why don’t we go out tonight… after the show? Guys night?” he suggested.

Liam raised his eyebrow. The last thing he wanted was for Niall to go out and get intoxicated and have an encore performance of two nights prior. But… he also was a mess of lost emotions, feeling drained and incapable of keeping watch over him at the hotel. If Niall wanted to go out, he was going to go out and there wasn’t a damn thing Liam could do about it.

Plus, he figured a night out could probably do him some good. As long as he was there, Niall couldn’t get himself into too much trouble, right?

“Okay,” Liam said slowly. “I’ll go with you.”

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