Breaking Free

Ever felt smothered by everyone else's idea of what your life should be like? Have you ever just wanted to say "Stop! It's my life!" to those closest to you? We all have, haven't we? I bet you were too afraid to do it though. So you kept your mouth shut, and did exactly what you always told yourself you would never do: you followed the rules set by people who don't really know you, and let THEM control your life. But what could happen if you finally just said no? If you decided to follow your own dream? Would something amazing happen? Would you fall in love? Would you find what you've been looking for your whole life? What could happen if you just...broke free?

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50. Confrontations

"Now you know to drive on the right side of the road...right?" Niall asked, leaning into the driver's side window and looking worriedly at Belle, who was happily putting on her seatbelt and adjusting the seat to her height. She turned her head to the face him and rolled her eyes.

"Niall I've been here before, remember? I'm pretty sure I know which side of the road to drive on." She smiled, but the worried expression never left Niall's face.

"Oh calm down leppy." Kaylie said teasingly from the passenger seat of Niall's black SUV. "She's got me to help guide her anyhow."

Niall cocked his head to the side. "Wait, then why aren't you driving?"

"Oh my license got suspended ages ago." Kaylie said nonchalantly with a wave of her hand. Niall paled.

"But you have a car that you drive regularly!" He shouted.

Kaylie turned and smirked. "Your point being?"

Niall opened his mouth to say something but words escaped him. Kaylie laughed and turned away from him and Belle, texting on her phone. Belle giggled and put her hand over Niall's hand, where he was propped against the driver's door from the outside. Niall had driven her and Kaylie to Louis' house so that the two boys could finally have their serious talk, and Belle was taking Niall's car to go out to lunch and a movie with Kaylie before she came back and picked him up.

"It's going to be fine." Belle said with a light smile. Niall took in a deep breath and looked her in the eyes.

"But what if it isn't? What if he figures things out and gets pissed off? I just..." He looked down at his feet for a minute before looking back up at Belle. "I finally got you Belle. I can't lose you now, I don't know what I'd do."

Belle inhaled sharply at his sweet words and took a glance out the front windshield at Louis' house. He was so close, right inside. She couldn't help but think about all the times she had been here before with Louis. It seemed like ages ago, a whole other lifetime. Belle never would have guessed that in less than a year since the last time she had been here, she would be dropping off her new 'boyfriend' so he could talk with her ex boyfriend, and they just so happened to be best friends and in a band together. Life was funny though.

Belle turned back to Niall and smiled again. "You're not going to lose me, no matter what. If things go bad then...then we'll just figure something out okay?"

Niall looked reassured, but only for a second. Worry crossed over his face yet again and he lowered his voice so that Kaylie wouldn't hear his next words in the seat over. 

"Belle do you...do you really like me? Are you sure you want to be with me and not him?" Niall's expression was a mixture of hope and sadness. Belle took in another deep breath and squeezed his hand.

"I know that you're afraid that you're just some rebound for me Niall, but you're not. I care about you, and I'm so happy when I'm with you. It's a different kind of happy than I've ever experienced, and I love it. Louis will always hold a special place in my heart, you know that, but I want to be with you right now. If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't be here." She said with confidence, smiling lightly.

Niall exhaled and chuckled a little bit, looking down for a second. "You know you're amazing right?" He finally said, looking back up and flashing his award winning smile. Belle laughed.

"Yeah, but it's nice to be reminded every now and then." She replied with a wink. Niall was about to say something else when the sound of Louis' front door opening interrupted.

Both Belle, Niall, and Kaylie snapped their heads up as Louis walked out the door and towards Niall's car, where Kaylie and Belle were inside with both windows down. Niall immediately let go of Belle's hand and stood up to his full height. Belle inhaled sharply when she saw Louis, feeling the familiar pang go through her chest.

Louis was wearing black gym shorts and a white t-shirt, his hair not gelled up, but natural. He had a light black jacket on with the hood loosely thrown over his head. He smiled in everyone's general direction, walking over towards Niall.

"Hey mate." He said with a nod in Niall's direction. Niall nodded back. Louis peered inside the vehicle at Belle and Kaylie. "Ladies." He said charmingly.

Belle couldn't really say anything, she just looked at Louis with her mouth slightly open, at a loss for words.

"Hey Lou!" Kaylie said cheerfully, waving from the passenger seat. 

"Hey Kayles." Louis said with a wide smile. He turned to look at Belle, the smile slowly fading.

She inhaled sharply. "Hey Louis." She finally forced out with a tight smile. Louis sighed. 

"Belle." He said simply. Belle noticed Niall tense next to him, glaring. "So uh, are you ladies just dropping Niall off?" Louis continued, breaking the awkward tension.

"Yepp." Kaylie answered, saving the day with her undying cheerfulness. "Belle and I are driving Niall's car to lunch and the cinema then we're bringing it back to him. We figure that will give you guys enough bromance time, right Belles?" 

Louis' eyes shot open at the nickname Kaylie used. Belle looked at him expectantly, knowing that he was aware that only Alan was ever allowed to call her that. "B-Belles?" He asked with a stutter.

Belle inhaled and exhaled before smiling up at Louis. "Yeah. Belles."

Kaylie and Niall looked at each other in confusion as Belle stared Louis down. "What's wrong with me calling you Belles?" Kaylie asked slowly.

Belle turned to face Kaylie and smiled lightly. "It's nothing. My friend Alan used to call me that, it's not a big deal."

"Well it sure seems like a big deal." Kaylie retorted. "Is he like, the only person allowed to call you that or something?" She asked with a chuckle, thinking her statement was a joke. She quickly stopped though when she saw Belle's stoic expression. "Belle?"

Belle shook her head and smiled tightly, glancing back at the boys with a worried expression for just a second. "We'll talk about this later okay?" She suggested.

"Wait." Louis said, sticking his arm inside the vehicle as Belle started up the car. Belle flinched away from him but he continued. "You haven't told her about Alan?" He asked seriously, glaring at Belle, his face close to hers.

"Hey man why don't you back off." Niall said, grabbing Louis' arm and pulling it away from Belle. Louis looked at him in surprise. "She obviously wants to talk to Kaylie in private about him, just drop it."

"Will someone explain to me what's going on?" Kaylie shouted, looking at Belle pleadingly. Belle looked back at her and sighed. She felt bad, she hadn't meant to keep Alan's death from her best friend for this long, but it was such a hard topic to bring up.

Belle turned back to the boys quickly. "We're going to head out now." She said simply. They both looked at her. Niall with a worried expression, and Louis with a cold, hard, judgmental look. "Niall I'll text you when we're on our way back, yeah?"

Niall nodded and smiled. "Yeah that'll be fine. You girls have fun alright?" He said, looking past Belle and at Kaylie, who still looked confused.

"We will." Belle said with feigned cheerfulness, putting the car in reverse. She glanced at Louis for a quick second. "See ya around Louis." She said quietly.

"Yeah." He replied, looking her deep in the eyes. "I'll see ya."

With that, Belle took one last glance at Niall before rolling up the window and backing out of Louis' driveway, speeding down the road and away from the two boys who had both stolen her heart.

***

"You uh, you want something to drink?" Louis asked awkwardly as he and Niall got inside his flat.

Niall shook his head. "Nah man I'm good." He replied, shoving his hands in his pockets. 

An awkward silence fell over Louis' kitchen as the two friends stood on opposite sides of the room, looking down at the ground. 

"Mate what the hell is going on?" Louis finally asked, breaking the silence. "We're best friends, we're brothers. Yet me, Liam, Harry, and Zayn feel like we haven't seen you in ages. Why are you hiding from us?"

Niall scoffed. "I'm not hiding from you Louis. There's other stuff going on, you don't understand."

"No Niall I understand perfectly." Louis said with an attitude. "You like Belle, you told me that last time I saw you. Now you're trying to get close to her by 'helping her write songs for her album'." He said sarcastically, using air quotes. "Mate I hate to say this, but that's not going to work."

Niall cocked his head to the side, looking down at the floor. He had to bite his lip to stifle a laugh. If Louis only knew the truth.

Niall looked back up at Louis, still biting back a laugh. "Really?" He asked. "What makes you say that?"

"She told me after you left Kaylie's house last week that this was a bad time for her to be with anyone. She said she didn't want to hurt you any by being with me, so she said we shouldn't get back together. Now you know I know Belle better than anyone, so I know that if she doesn't want to be with me, then I hate to break it to you, but she's definitely not going to be with you."

Now Niall wasn't so much amused as he was angry. His face reddened and he clenched his teeth. "Excuse me?" He asked menacingly. Louis was oblivious though.

"Niall I know this makes me sound arrogant, but she was in love with me. You can't actually expect her to get over our breakup, makeup, and breakup again in just a matter of a couple weeks. I'm trying to look out for you mate, I think you need to take a step back and look at what you're doing."

Niall bit down on his bottom lip hard, looking around the room and breathing deeply. His arms were propped up on the kitchen counter behind him, and his muscles flexed with frustration.

"I think," Niall began to say very slowly, "That you don't know Belle as well as you think you do."

Louis' face went cold, and the two friends stared each other down from opposite sides of the room, about ten feet apart.

"That might be so." Louis finally said bluntly. "But I do know that we dated for a good while, and she opened up to me. And there's things that she and I shared, that you and her will never share." He added with a smirk.

Niall felt his hands start to shake as Louis continued to grin. Obviously he was referring to his physical relationship with Belle, which Niall wasn't oblivious to. He knew that Belle and Louis had sex at least the one drunken night that all the guys found out about so long ago, and he assumed they had sex several times while dating, he wasn't naive. Louis was crossing the line though, he was just unaware of it because he thought Niall was still trying to get Belle when truth be told, Niall already had her.

"Maybe." Niall said with a forced smile. "But maybe not." He added cockily.

Louis' smirk faded and was replaced with a stoic expression. After a few tense seconds of eye contact, Louis was the first to look away.

"So uh, you wanna watch a film or something? I think Liam said something about stopping by later, we could all just hang out like we used to." Louis finally said, changing the subject and walking towards his living room.

Niall took a breath to calm himself and shook his head a bit, rubbing his temples as he followed Louis. He had to stay calm, for his and Belle's sake, as well as for the sake of the band. Everything would work out, he just had to let Louis and Belle's previous relationship drama run its course.

"Yeah that sounds good." Niall replied, sitting down on one of the couches as Louis grabbed a random film. He put his phone on the coffee table in front of him.

"I'm not sure what Liam will want to watch but since he's later than he said he would be, we can just decide for him." Louis said.

Niall chuckled. Sure, he was tense around Louis for obvious reasons, but Louis was also one of his best friends. They might as well be brothers, he couldn't exactly be mad at him. He just wanted everyone to be happy, including him.

"Hey my phone is upstairs, mind if I use yours to call Liam?" Louis asked, reaching for Niall's phone on the coffee table before Niall could even respond. 

"Yeah sure. No, no, wait Louis stop!" Niall sat up from his seat abruptly and reached out to try and snatch his phone from Louis' hand, but he was too late.

As Louis pressed the unlock button on Niall's phone, his expression changed to that of confusion first, then anger. Niall's lock screen was the picture of him kissing Belle's cheek after they'd had the Sharpie war. It was obvious in the picture that they it wasn't just a friendly kiss on the cheek though.

"Louis that picture--"

Niall was cut off as Louis held up his hand, still looking down at the lock screen. He opened his mouth to speak but quickly shut it again, cocking his head to the side and pursing his lips. Niall looked on, eyes wide. It was like a train wreck, he wanted to look away but just couldn't.

Finally, Louis spoke. "What...what is this?" He finally asked, holding the phone up and turning it towards Niall. "This doesn't look like helping Belle work on her album. So tell me, what is it?"

"Look man, it's no big deal, we were just screwing around and taking stupid pictures. Don't read into it, seriously." Niall said, lying through his teeth.

Louis looked back at the phone again. "She...she looks really happy." He said, more to himself than anybody else. "I thought that..." He trailed off.

"You thought she was falling apart because of you?" Niall finished. Louis snapped his head up. "She's stronger than that Louis, you should know this. Belle isn't the same person anymore. She's not the Belle that you fell in love with, she's not the Belle any of us used to know. She's..." Niall looked off into space, getting absorbed in his own thoughts. "She's a new, different, wonderful Belle." He looked back at Louis with a serious expression, who's expression was heartbreaking. "You don't have her anymore Louis. Nobody does. She's still trying to find herself, trying to move on in life, trying to forgive others and forgive herself. She's letting you go, it's about time for you to start doing the same."

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