(500) Days of Sixteen

Niall's been the new kid - or at least he has been for about six months. It's alright, he's got his mates.

So when a new girl moves into the old crack dealer's house across the road from him, it's pretty drawn obvious that Niall can't stop himself making eyes at her across the cafeteria. She's loose with the hands and the parties and the boys, but she has a way of looking at him that makes him want to melt inside. She's everything that his parents tell him to stay away from, but he wants her more than anything he ever has.

For some reason, he'll never understand, she holds his hand every step of the way.

A moment, a love, a dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs.

He's in for the ride of his life in 500 days of being young, reckless and sixteen.

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1. the one with the janitor's closet

There are two things you never forget in high school.

The first is that if you see someone getting it on with the janitor, don’t ever bring it up. Ever.

And secondly, never be the first to talk to the new kid.

Painstakingly enough, Niall has been that inevitable ‘new kid’ for about six months. Life doesn’t suck, well not that much at least. And yeah, the first of which he has the unfortunate part of dealing with.

Halfway through second period during ancient history when Louis’ pegging spit balls at him, he scoots out to go to the loo. The hallway is eerily empty without the rush of shoes, or someone getting beaten up, or the sound of Harry and his most recent lover having their usual dramatic shouting match.

He takes his time, strolling down to the male toilets and ducking inside, even taking the time to observe how many tiles there are on the ceiling when he’s doing his business.

Then he hears a clatter that makes him jump and just about have a heart-attack, his automatic reflex to curl into a tiny ball so maybe he might have a chance of the tuck-duck-roll thing and squish up under a sink.

Instead, he’s left there, as Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King strolls in, and shoots him a disgusted look. He probably shouldn’t say anything, so he just continues to pee feebly, if it’s possible to take a feeble piss.

It isn’t on purpose, not like he’d followed Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King in my sexy varsity jacket with my stunning eyes and cheekbones and silky lips all these girls wanna make out with. But under that glare, Niall certainly feels it. Awkward enough, peeing next to a guy who’d probably wields the thing in his pants daily.

Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King finishes up, washes his hands and even takes the consideration to shoot one final look of contempt at Niall before the doors swinging shut. Niall’s thankful, because he can’t pee around other people, much less people who are generally disgusted by him, and who Niall has a constant fear they’ll just reach over and snap it off mid-piss.

He finishes up, taking his time as he rinses off his hands and wipes them off on his jeans, when he hears another noise. Another clatter. It isn’t from inside the bathroom though, but from close by. Curious, he pokes his head out the door, up and down the corridor to find it empty.

Niall glances warily at the janitor’s closet, unsure if he should approach or not. What if the janitor had slipped and split his skull open? That consideration is his excuse at least, which seems pathetic in hindsight. He knocks quietly, whispering a hushed question. There’s no response, so he foolishly opens the door.

His jaw hits the ground, though he’ll be wanting to sanitise his chin when it crosses his mind what could be happening on that floor. It’s the janitor, young grimy man who looks like he has his dinner in a communal soup kitchen- the one that Niall and the others constantly bitch about around the lunch table.

(“Do you reckon he showers?” asks Liam. Harry makes a derisive noise as he shoves another carrot stick in his mouth and crunches aggressively.

“I don’t think he can afford a shower.”

“Don’t be silly,” tuts Louis, “Everyone knows showers are free.”)

Niall certainly doesn’t want anything to do with accidentally walking in and realise a more fitting title would be Mr. I’m Fabulous Football Queen.

In fact, Niall hardly has time to blink slowly, and spit out apologies, before he’s making a mad dash down the hallway hoping Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King/Queen (it’s debatable now) isn’t planning to chase after him with a spectacular tackle to the ground and disembowel him alive.

-

At lunch, it’s alright though, cos he’s got his mates.

There’s Harry, oh Harry who looks so sweet and lovable but deep down is as dirty as hell, always ever the womaniser. He chews enthusiastically today, only put in a good mood cos he knows full well he’s probably getting laid tonight.

Niall doesn’t remember one day he hasn’t walked down the hallways of their school without seeing Harry making out with a girl against her locker. Either that, or they’re having a dramatic shouting match. It makes life quite entertaining.

Then there’s Louis and Liam. They’re perfectly adorable, to a point sometimes- actually mostly, it’s sickening. People often leave rooms because it’s overwhelmingly nauseating.

Always cuddling and poking each other’s noses, it’s clear how much Louis revels in Liam’s attention, and how much Liam absolutely dotes on him. After Harry threw a tantrum last time they were feeding each other, they’re on strict speaking terms and no touchy-feeling below shoulders in public, because it always- always, Niall swears, gets uncomfortable for everyone.

They’re not officially together- Louis makes it very clear that he hates it when things get labelled, and of course Liam isn’t going to make a fuss especially since it’s Louis, so he agrees. Instead, they continuously flirt with each other and get rather physical. It’s obvious that Liam has got it bad for him, but Louis acts like he’s completely oblivious half the time, when obviously the case is just that he enjoys the chase.

Niall somehow slots in very well, takes his seat and blends in the crowd, today praying he won’t eventually get picked on by Mr. I’m Fabulous Football (Queen- he’s decided mentally) and his footie mates, or get bashed up behind the bleachers when he’s on his way to choir practice.

Life is calm and flat, just the way he likes it, change only confuses him.

“So, is there a reason why you keep eyeing the football table like they’re gonna jump you? Or are you just thinking about restarting that summer diet?” asks Harry, setting down his tray as he slides into his seat, clearly knowing he’s blocking half of Niall’s vision of the football table.

“I saw something I shouldn’t have seen,” he admits with a shrug, shifting in his seat and choosing to ignore Harry’s snipe about the diet. “What’s up with Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King?” (He has to choke out the last word, because in his mind, it keeps slowly changing to queen).

“Why do we even call him that?” demands Harry incredulously to Liam, and he shrugs lamely in response.

“Because Louis does,” he answers earnestly, and faithfully as always. Harry rolls his eyes.

“It’s stupid when you think about it,” he points out, “I bet you his real name’s probably shorter.”

“Man,” sighs Niall, glancing around Harry’s shoulder at the table. “Anyone’s real name is shorter than that.”

“Right!” agrees Harry, “So let’s call him something normal, right?”

“Who’s this?” asks Louis, sitting down and getting comfortable, before giving Liam a long, deep hello kiss.

“Eurgh,” mutters Harry, “You know guys, there are places you can get off in school.”

“You’d know,” Louis smirks.

“The toilet? A classroom? Anywhere but the cafeteria?” tries Harry weakly, as Louis pulls helpless Liam into another kiss, probably just to annoy the fuck out of Harry. “The janitor’s closet?”

Niall’s grip on his juice box tightens momentarily and it spits, dribbling the juice down his hand. Some of it gets on Harry’s sleeve and he cusses, wiping it with his serviette.

“Wassa matter with you?” he demands to know, with a frown.

“Nothing,” Niall gets out weakly, just as the cafeteria doors swing open. Two groups enter, but the only one Niall sees is Mr. I’m Fab, which makes him either want to duck under the table and start crying out of shame (for either himself or the latter), or see if he could actually outrun a football player.

“Your eyes look all glassy, yeah?” said Harry, shifting closer and leaning forward with squinty eyes. He clicks his fingers infront of Niall’s face and he starts. “What chu looking at?”

“He’s drooling over Mr. I’m Fabulous Football King,” replies Louis instantly, with Liam’s arm around his waist. “Seriously, Niall, he’s about the straightest guy in the school.” Harry’s head whips from Louis to Niall.

“I didn’t know you were gay,” says Harry almost accusingly, as though he can’t quite believe he wouldn’t have told him.

“I’m not gay,” Niall says wearily. “Shut up, Louis.” The response is drilled into his brain, because Louis’ always saying he’s gay, and Harry’s always going off and believing him, and it always ends up like that anyway.

Louis’ muttering something about how everything would be so much easier if they were all gay, when Harry leans back on his chair so it dangles on two legs, his eyebrows raised with that clear expression that he adopts whenever he gets interested.

Niall’s too busy staring concentratedly at the football table, making a mental account of his plan if Mr. I’m Fab came within punching distance.

They’re all eating, talking everything, mostly hearing about Louis and Liam’s plans for the weekend while Niall just stares at the football table fixatedly, preparing just in case Harry’s right and he does get jumped- then he’ll mad a run for it, when Harry flicks his curls and frowns momentarily, bumping his hand against Niall’s to attract his attention.

Niall glances distractedly at him, noticing his gaze is directed elsewhere, but he really can’t afford to take his attention of his life-threatening target at the moment.

“What?” he says, slowing raising his sandwich to his mouth, his eyes flickering between Harry and the football table, so distracted that his aim misses and he bumps his sandwich against the side of his mouth before he shoves it in and chews widely.

Harry frowns, tosses his hair and bumps his hand against Niall’s again. Niall rolls his eyes.

What?” he demands loudly through a mouth of sandwich and Harry grabs his hand and yanks him close so he’s whispering right in his ear.

“She’s staring at you.” Niall leans back, slightly confused, with his cheeks still bulging with food.

“What? Who?” he says dumbly, momentarily forgetting about Mr. I’m Fabulous Football Queen and the looming death threat above his head. Harry leans back, so he can see past Louis, then quickly leans back to Niall.

“I dunno, she’s fairly- swallow your food, would you?” he says and Niall gulps it down thickly, not daring to take his eyes of Harry now. “I don’t recognise her, I think she might be new, eh?”

“She’s in my technology class,” pipes up Liam with a quick glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, she’s the new kid.”

“A girl?” Niall struggles with the idea slightly, thrown off by it. Harry rolls his eyes, because oh yes, he’s so up to it with the ladies.

“Yeah Niall, a girl.”

“Why she looking at me for?” he asks, “She’s probably checking you out, Harry. Or Louis. Or Liam. Or both, or all of you, or just not me.”

He’s far too used to the girls being interested in his friends, even seeing that two of them are gay, rather than him.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” says Harry immediately, his eyes darting over. “She can’t even see Louis or Liam. And she’s not making eyes with me.”

“Maybe you’re just blind.”

“Go on, take your rubbish to the bin and see if she watches.” Harry frowns, and Louis and Liam eye him as he snatches his tray up and saunters off to the bin. For the first time, Niall’s able to cautious raise his eyes to the table across the cafeteria.

Sure enough, there’s a girl sitting there, someone he doesn’t recognise, but as Harry would have put it- ‘be damn well happy to get to know’. Long and wavy brown hair, wide eyes and full lips. Damn, even looking at her makes him blush. And Harry’s right, she’s looking at him, something caught between a smirk and a smile on those lips.

Harry plops down into his seat and turns his head towards Niall so she can’t see his face.

“What did I tell you?”

“You didn’t tell me she was fit,” Niall hisses back, not wanting to indulge himself in the thought of how red his ears might be. “Leave it to you to forget to mention that.”

“I said she was fairly…”

“Fairly? Fairly?” repeats Niall, bewildered, trying not to overreact apart from the fact that his palms are sweating profusely. “How fairly does she need to get before you say something, Harry? She’s outta my-”

“Calm down,” soothes Louis, “Niall, all she’s doing is staring. So just, you know, stare back.”

“She’s staring because she thinks I’m a freak,” Niall concludes without another glance in her direction, to spare himself the humiliation.

“Please,” scoffs Harry, “She’ll do that once she’s met you, just don’t lose your head, Niall.” He takes a deep breath in, then cautions another glance towards her. She’s eating, her gaze momentarily distracted to the babbling girl next to her, before reverting back to him.

Oh god, Niall can’t stand it. He ducks his head again, causing Louis to sigh, Liam to groan and Harry to smack him around the head.

“You’ve got to be joking,” Harry groans, “Maybe you’re right, if you can’t even look at her for more than a second, why would she stare at you like she wants to lick honey off your naked body?”

“Mm,” hums Liam agreeing, placing his chin on the top of Louis’ head and glancing backwards not so obviously as Harry, who’s aggravatedly swinging back on forth on the legs of his chair with a frown. “She looks very interested, Niall.”

“Urgh,” Niall mumbles, ducking his head again and contemplating just sticking his face under the table to hide it. “You guys are just gonna throw me off my game.”

“Oh because you’ve got game to throw off,” snickers Louis, “Come on, Niall. If we shut up about it, you really think you’d still…”

“Look!” cuts in Harry immediately, the four legs of his chair scraping the cafeteria floor as he cranes his neck around and watches as she rises from her place and drops her rubbish off in the bin. Niall watches too, despite himself, he can’t help but notice how nice she looks. The way she moves, her stance. Yeah, maybe he’s noticing those long legs too.

As she stops at the bin, she turns around and those eyes look right at him. Unable to help himself, his arms jerk out and he bites his lip, making a choked out noise, before dropping his gaze and literally crawling towards the other end of the table.

She walks back to her table calmly as though she didn’t notice, while Niall grabs Liam’s sleeve and muffles an exasperated moan into it.

“Wha- what was that?” Liam barks, trying to yank his sleeve away, while rolling his eyes. “Good lord Niall…”

“I can’t,” he grumbles, sitting up slowly and staring fixatedly at his empty tray. “I- just…can’t.”

“You idiot,” scowls Harry, before observing for a few more moments. He sighed, almost sounding envious. “Lucky prick, she’s still staring. ”

“Why can’t she be interested in you?” Niall asks hopelessly. “Wouldn’t that be easier for everyone?”

“Don’t tell me you don’t want to get in there,” pokes Harry with a smirk. “She’s not my type, anyway.”

“You don’t have a type,” Liam points out and Louis giggles. “Harry, what on earth would your type be?”

“Probably anything with a heartbeat and a va-” Harry hurls his aluminium can at Louis scornfully before he can finish his sentence.

“So what?” asks Harry, “Are you gonna go over there and say hi or not?”

“I’d say not,” answers Niall with a frown trying to push the thought of her from his mind. “Just leave it guys.” The bell rings, signalling the end of lunch. Immediately, Niall jumps up, snatching his bag and racing out leaving the rest of them confused as hell.

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