Chapter 1 – The Same Page

Part I – SS Backstreet
June 2014

Brittany smiled to herself as she wheeled her suitcase through the hotel hallways and over to the elevator. She pressed the button and waited impatiently as she watched the numbers above the doors light up.

After what seemed like an eternity, the doors opened and she stepped on. Hitting the number 15, she leaned back and waited. She’d just gotten off an extremely long flight, taken a cab, and was finally allowed a moment to herself. All of that, but it was going to be worth it.

Between both of their busy schedules, her and Niall didn’t get a lot of chances to see each other. They were getting better at using their time off to visit one another, but it was still difficult. So even though she was supposed to be in the studio with Nick in LA, working on her third album, she’d made time to fly to Europe.

The elevator doors opened, and she looked down at the text message from Niall that told her his room number. It took everything she had not to run through the halls. Eventually, she stopped in front of room 1508 and knocked on it.

It didn’t take long for him to answer. And without so much as a hello he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “Happy anniversary, Britt Britt,” he said softly.

“Happy anniversary,” she replied, stepping further into the room and closing the door behind her.

“Did you have a good flight?” he asked, just as he always did. Brittany hated flying, and she’d never quite gotten used to it.

“Yeah,” she shrugged. “There were some bumpy parts, but I slept for most of it.”

“Well, I’m glad you made it here so we can spend a few days together,” he said, sitting back down on the hotel room bed.

Brittany sat beside him and crossed her legs. “Yeah, me too. It worked out though, because Nick’s busy this coming weekend.”

“Sometimes I still can’t believe that you’re working with Nick Carter.”

Brittany rolled her eyes a little. Niall hadn’t even quite gotten over being star-struck around him. “I think we know him well enough by now that we can just call him ‘Nick,’” she laughed.

“Well, maybe you do,” Niall said, his eyes still wide. “I’ve only met him a couple times.”

But Brittany just shrugged. “He’s a really good mentor. The album I did with him last year was exactly the type of music I wanted to do. And I really think that this one’s going to be even better.”

“I’m so proud of you, Britt Britt,” he said, leaning over and hugging her.

“Thanks, I really missed you though,” she murmured as she held on to him.

“I missed you too,” he said, but then quickly pulled away from her. “That reminds me, I’ve got a gift for you.”

Brittany eyed him. “I thought we said no gifts.”

But he just waved her off as he went digging through his suitcase. “Ah!” he said triumphantly as he turned back to her and handed her a small box.

Brittany looked at him in horror. “Niall I swear to God, we already talked about this…” she said, looking up at him as he sat back down next to her.

“Relax,” he said, handing it to her. “It’s not what you think it is.”

Curiously, Brittany took the box from him and opened it. She gave him a strange look when she eyed the contents. “What is this? A key to your place?”

He took her hands in his and looked at her. “Yeah,” he said slowly.

Brittany still looked at him with confusion. “I don’t get it. Why would I ever be at your place without you there?”

He took a deep breath. “Well… I was thinking that it could be your place too.”

Brittany looked at him, trying to figure out if he was actually being serious. “You want me to move to London?” she asked him in the thick voice.

“Yeah.”

She looked back down at their hands, trying to not lose her mind. This was exactly the opposite of the conversation they’d had a few months ago. She’d thought they were on the same page. They both had their careers to worry about, and they’d agreed that neither one of them were ready to settle down as they were both still really young.

“I thought we agreed…” she said, trailing off, hoping he would understand.

“I’m not asking you to marry me,” he said, trying to ease the obvious tension by laughing a little.

It didn’t work. “Right,” Brittany said, maybe a little more irritably than she had meant to. “You’re just asking me to uproot my entire life and move to the other side of the world. That’s not the same thing at all,” she said sarcastically.

Niall didn’t let it get to him. He was used to her sassy remarks, and usually just ignored her tone. “I just thought it would be easier if we both had the same home base,” he explained.

She sighed. “Yeah, it would make it easier… I guess… but it’s so far away. My whole career is in the states,” she muttered. “It’d be easier for you to move to LA,” she laughed offhandedly.

“I can’t move to LA,” he said seriously.

Brittany glared at him. “Oh, you can’t move to LA, but it’s okay for me to move to London. You have a career in the states too, you know, you spend a lot of time in LA anyway, but no, no you can’t move there.” She was beginning to get even more upset as their conversation went on, and pulled her hands away from his.

“No, I can’t move to LA, and that’s exactly why. I spend so much time there already that when I have time off I want to go home and be closer to my friends and family,” he explained, running a hand through his hair. “You don’t even live in Texas anymore, and even if you did, you don’t…” he stopped himself before saying the next part.

But Brittany knew what he was going to say. “I don’t what?” she snapped. “I don’t have any family in Texas? I don’t have any family at all?”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” he lied.

She rolled her eyes and jumped off the bed, beginning to pace around the room. “You were going to say that,” she said angrily. “That’s exactly what you were going to say. And that’s exactly your reasoning too. You don’t think it matters where I live because you think that you’re the only important person in my life.”

“Brittany, come on,” he said with exasperation. “You’ve always spent Christmas with me, you spend most of your time off with me, and your family isn’t really…”

“Well I’m sorry that my dad died and my mom’s a drunk who doesn’t want anything to do with me. I have a life of my own in LA. Thanks so much for respecting that,” she rolled her eyes, not even caring that they were spending the evening of their anniversary arguing.

He shook his head and grabbed his wallet and phone off the bedside table. He didn’t want to get into it with Brittany, but her attitude was really annoying him. The false idea of independence she thought she had, coupled with the fact that he’d put himself out there with her and gotten shot down rather harshly didn’t exactly make him want to see her at the moment.

“Where are you going?” she asked him with annoyance.

“Downstairs. I need to cool off,” he said, before leaving and slamming the door behind him.

Brittany stood there in shock for a minute as she registered what had just happened. She sighed and laid down on the bed, kicking the key and the box off of it in frustration.

Not the best way to start their anniversary celebration.

***

Brittany stood outside Danielle and Liam’s hotel room door a few hours later. She knocked on it, and waited rather impatiently for one of them to answer.

“Brittany!” Danielle squealed with delight when she opened the door and saw her friend standing there. But her expression quickly changed when she saw the look on Brittany’s face. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh nothing,” Brittany said bitterly, inviting herself into their room and sitting down on the bed. “Me and Niall got into a huge fight as soon as I got here, and he’s been gone for hours. He’s not answering his stupid phone, and I’ve been sitting in the hotel room by myself pathetically staring at his twitter feed.”

“Uh,” Liam said, looking at Brittany and Danielle somewhat awkwardly. “Do you want me to go?”

“No, whatever, it’s fine,” Brittany said, not really caring whether he was there or not.

Danielle gave Liam a sympathetic look, knowing he was probably going to have to deal with an evening of girl-talk. “Wait,” she said, turning back to Brittany. “Aren’t you guys supposed to be celebrating your two years?”

Brittany nodded. “Yeah.”

But Danielle still looked confused. “How can you get into a fight during that? And not just in general, how can you guys get into a fight during that? You hardly ever fight.”

“Yeah, I know,” Brittany sighed. “That’s the problem. He thinks things are so perfect.”

“Aren’t they?” Danielle asked her quietly

Brittany sighed. She didn’t know one way or the other. She was happy with the way things were. She and Niall didn’t get to see each other a lot, but when they did, everything was fine, great even. Sure, she wished that they’d be able to spend more time together, but she also had her career to worry about. She wasn’t ready to give that up just yet.

“I don’t know,” she said finally. “I think he wants more than what I can give him right now.”

“Why? What happened?”

“He asked me to move in with him,” Brittany said with disdain. As if Niall had done the most appalling thing in the world. “And he didn’t even really ask, he just sort of… gave me a key to his house and expected that I’d be jumping for joy.”

Danielle frowned, then she looked over at Liam. “Did you know he was going to do that?”

“Yeah,” Liam confessed, looking at the two of them slightly sheepishly. “I knew.”

“Why?” Brittany asked him sharply. “Why did he think that was a good idea when just a few months ago we both agreed that we didn’t want to move fast or settle down?”

Liam held his hands up to stop her from getting any more aggravated with him. “Whoa, Brittany, it’s not me you’re mad at. And he just wants to be able to spend more time with you. And… he thinks you’re lonely when you’re at home in the states.”

Brittany shook her head with annoyance. “I knew it. I knew he thought that I was completely dependant on him.”

“You’re not,” Danielle said quickly. “You’ve got your own career, and you’ve got me too. And you’ve got Nick in LA, right?”

Brittany shrugged. “Nick’s just like… my co-worker. We go out for drinks sometimes after recording, nothing other than that, really. But you’re right, I have my own life and career.”

“And he should respect that,” Danielle assured her. “But he really loves you, Britt. I don’t think he meant any harm by it. He probably just misses you when you’re not there.”

“Yeah…” Brittany trailed off, thinking about how upset she’d gotten. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten so mad at him.”

“So just tell him that,” Danielle said with a smile. “He’ll understand. He’s a good guy.”

Brittany nodded. Danielle was right. She was always right. “Yeah… I guess I should go back to the room and wait for him to come back. If he ever comes back.”

Danielle rolled her eyes at Brittany’s over-dramatic remark. “He’ll come back. I promise.”

Again, Brittany nodded her head. “Yeah, I know. Thanks guys.”

With that, she went back to her own hotel room, intending to wait for Niall so they could reconcile and continue celebrating their anniversary.

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