Without a Clue

Trigger Warnings: reference to/ mention of domestic violence, reference to/ mention of sexual abuse, reference to/ mention of substance abuse, descriptive depictions of self harm and suicide, death, abortion, and mental illness.

Niall's secretive, always has been, but the world is in utter shock as the news is released that Niall has a son. The two year old blond, Grayson Finn Horan, is simply the most important thing in Niall's life, but when a stunning American popstar, Demi Lovato, starts to work her way into his heart, he doesn't know how to react.

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5. Chapter Five: The Mature Boy

(A/N: Sorry this update took so long! I've had so much schoolwork to do it took me forever to get to it! Updates should come much sooner now. Feel free to leave me and comment telling me what you think about the chapter; I would love it <3 )

-Demi's Point of View-

I'm not really sure what time we ended up falling asleep. It seemed as if no matter how long we spoke, we could never run out of time. Niall talked, and by that I mean he talked. I've never been so relieved to hear his long, run-on sentences in my life. It's like his little charismatic charm returned to him in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Nothing we spoke of really had any substance, but our idle chat was still one of the most enjoyable moments of my time in London so far. Niall ended up falling asleep before me, his bare feet sprawled out from the chair he was sitting in and his chin pressed to his sweater covered chest. My neck hurt just looking at the awkward angle his head seemed to be positioned at. I honestly don't remember falling asleep, but I'm sure it was quite some time after Niall drifted into his own dreamland.

This morning I woke up to a faint jingle coming from the game Grayson was playing on Niall's iPad mini and the sound of the shower running in the hospital bathroom.  Words cannot describe how relieved I am to see him conscious again. He's still attached to endless cords and wires, but at least he's fully awake now.

"You hungry?" I turn my head to see Niall walking out of the bathroom, hair soaking wet as he pushes it off his forehead. I shake my head slightly, still glancing at the quiet toddler. I'm not really sure why I've lost my appetite. Niall looks at me with a small smile before placing the towel in his hand over the back of a chair in the corner of the room.

"Did you say good morning to Demi, G?" I smile at the simple gesture as Grayson glances away from the tablet to me, giving me a little grin complete with dimples and freckles.

"Good Mor-ming." My heart simply melts every time Grayson musters out another word incorrectly. His little hands seem so small compared to the tablet in his hands and his sweet rosy cheeks look inevitably chubby yet again. He's simply the cutest little thing, and I'm pretty sure Niall knows just as much.

It seems I've actually woken up late, the clock reading ten thirty in the morning when I've finally check my phone. Niall seems happy today, just kind of light I suppose. There no longer seems to be a hard feeling to his features, and his eyes seem incredibly brighter. He's slightly limping, favoring his right leg. I'm not for sure why it appears he places all of his weight on one leg as he moves about the room, pulling a pair of plain black basketball shorts from a duffle bag that seems to have appeared out of thin air.

"I'll be right back." He says softly as he slips back into the bathroom. Grayson looks up just as Niall shuts the bathroom door and pushes the tablet to me, the screen black. I'm confused as to what he wants until I realize the battery has died and Grayson wants me to fix it. I simply place the tablet in Niall's open duffel and grab two of Grayson's plush dinosaurs from the foot of the bed. It looks like someone must have brought Niall some clothes for him and Grayson and a few toys for the small child as well.

"Want me to play Dinosaurs with you?" His eyes shine at the comment and he nods at me with the biggest smile. He lifts the larger of the two toys, handing it to me, and claims the other for himself. Grayson quickly points out that he's letting me use his favorite toy, and I should feel very special because of it. It surprises me how Grayson can't manage to say 'morning' correctly, but he can successfully tell me that I'm holding an Ankylosaurus named Leo.

"They not really blue. Only Leo blue." He mentions just as the bathroom door clicks and is pulled open, revealing Niall yet again. I suppose I'm not truly prepared for what I see, Niall's knee completed covered an abundance of metal and fabric. I've never seen anything quite like it. The knee brace is incredibly bulky and covers from his mid-calf to above the bottom of his shorts, covered in little hinges, straps, and latches. I don't mean to stare, but it's obvious he realizes where I'm looking.

"It's not as bad as it seems." Niall says but he seems to limp to a chair, a limping that I hadn't realized 'til now. Right when he sits he begins the process of taking off the brace, leaving me wordless looking at his scarred and skinny knee. He lifts his leg up on a perpendicular chair and leans back. It's obvious that it's hurting him.

"How'd that happen?" I ask, but Grayson pulls on my hand and gives me a look as if he's annoyed I haven't given him my full attention. I continue to play with Grayson, and notice that Niall has lifted his duffel bag into his lap and is rooting through it.

"My knee's always been shit. All those tours just gradually made it worse." He says it simply, just as if it's not a big deal, "Doesn't hurt too much." His features quickly turn frustrated as he digs through the dark navy duffle. He mumbles a string of curses as he continues to dig through the bag. I'm almost certain I hear the rattling of pills muffled by his clothes.

"Something the matter?" I ask him softly, still giving a large amount of my attention to the playful little toddler next to me. Niall doesn't reply, just keep rooting through his bag. After a minute or so he looks up with an extremely defeated look on his face, the frustration in his features evident.

"Niall?" He looks up at me, and I know there's something wrong. He pushes of the chair and gently lowers himself to the ground, obviously wary of his knee. He's quiet as he pulls a sweatshirt out of the bag and onto the floor, then pulls a clear plastic bag, full of prescription pills out of his duffle. He's quiet as he pours them out on to the floor, looking at each of the labels separately. I'm not for sure what to think.

"They're mine," he pauses and pulls his knees to his chest, laying his head on his knees, "if that's what you were wondering." He curls in on himself and seems incredibly embarrassed. Yet again he seems like a hurt child, just wanting comfort. All I know is that I can't possibly be healthy for Niall to take that many medications; why would he even need to?

"Daddy. Hold you." Grayson whines and I realize he's crawled to the edge of his crib staring at Niall through the end bars. Niall looks up at him and nods, quickly putting his knee brace back on and slipping into Grayson's crib. Grayson looks absolutely exhausted as Niall holds him, Grayson’s pale green blanket held tightly in his hands. Niall rocks Grayson quietly, completely avoiding eye contact with me. Grayson seems to fall asleep instantly, Niall laying him gently against the crib and kissing his forehead. Niall is so gentle with his child, and it absolutely melts my heart.

"His blood-ox levels are still low; makes him tired." Niall whispers softly as he lays a baby blue puppy blanket over his son and pulls up the side bars of the grey crib. He sits back on the cold tiles and takes off his brace yet again, placing it on the chair behind him. Niall carefully stares at all of the bottles in the floor, carefully reading each label and separating them into two different piles,  one with eight bottles, and the other with five.

"I have PTSD." He tells me quietly as he places the pile of eight medications back in the plastic bag. He seems to have hoped I hadn't heard what just came out of his mouth. I finally get up out of the chair I've been sitting in for quite some time and sit across from him, remaining quiet until Niall looks up at me, his cheeks puffed pink from embarrassment.

"Is that why you had that panic attack at the arena?" He nods and looks away from me again, now looking more disappointed rather than embarrassed.

"These last few days, they've just been- I don't know. The last few days of tour are always crazy, you know?" I nod, "I forgot to refill a few of them. That's why it happened." I smile sympathetically at him as his eyes meet mine. His hands shake as he places the clear bag of bottles in his duffle, his shoulders shuddering. I can tell there's something wrong as he slumps away from me, leaning against the chair behind him and covering his face with his hands.

"What's wrong?" I place my hand on his shoulder gently and he looks up at me, letting his hands fall down against his baby blue long sleeve shirt. He leans to his side and picks up the stack of pills left on the ground in one hand. One by one he tells me what they're for and places them back on the ground in front of him.

 

Paranoia; Anxiety; Night Terrors; Insomnia

 

He rattles off the purposes quickly as if he were ripping off a Band-Aid. He shudders lightly and I realize there's still a bottle left in his hand. It's like he's afraid to tell me what that specific medication is for, yet told me the others so easily. He looks as if he doesn't want me to be there anymore, like he's trapped in the situation and there's no going back.

"Don't feel like you have to tell me anything, Niall."

"It’s okay. I-" He pauses again, shakes his head, then places the bottle with the rest.

 

Depression

 

I'm not sure exactly why he was so afraid to tell me. Everyone struggles with their own battles, and it's not his fault he's been put in this position. It's not his fault in the slightest. He quickly places the bottles back into his duffle, but not with the others. Niall shifts slightly and immediately grasps his knee tightly, obviously in pain. He quickly shakes it off and stuffs his duffle under the chair behind him, using his hands to pull himself up onto the small chair.

I glance up at him from my position on the floor, the light giving him a whole new type of beauty. He seems to hide behind his eyes as he looks to the ceiling for a moment, making his stubble-lined jaw seem even more defined while he clenches his teeth. There's no remnants of a skinny, awkward, loud teenager left in this toned adult in front of me. Just the way Niall carries himself shows a distinct hint of maturity that could never be fabricated, every trial he's been through showing in his features. This type of maturity could never come from age, only experience, and only experiences that no one wishes to endure.

"The boys don't know." Niall whispers softly, and I'm not sure if his quiet speech is a result of not wanting to speak, or out of caution of his sleeping son. I wonder how Niall could keep such a thing a secret from his closest friends, and with them living in such close quarters during the tour wouldn't one of them discover a routine of medications? I suppose with hiding a toddler from the world he must've learned a thing or two about keeping secrets to himself.

"Why did you tell me then?" It's extremely odd to me that Niall told me so easily, yet he hasn't spoken a word about his condition to his best friends. It's apparent that Niall's afraid of the boys, either them or whatever they could say to him. Maybe he's simply afraid to lose their approval or attention?

"I trust you." He says it so effortlessly, like we've been close for years, not just exes from a failed teenage relationship reunited three days ago. Everything Niall says simply intrigues me. Why have the boys lost his trust, and why was it so easy for him to give it to me? Every answer that Niall gives me makes me want to ask a million more questions.

"What happened to your wife?" My eyes grow wide as I realize what's just slipped out of my mouth. It’s been on my mind since I first laid eyes on Grayson and realized there's more to the story that I haven't been clued in on. I never meant to be so candid with him about the matter. I can't even look Niall in the eyes as I realize the position I must have just put him in; there's absolutely no way he would ever be comfortable talking about that.

I bring it upon myself to look back at Niall when he doesn't respond to my question. He's staring right at me, his eyes glassy and lips red from how he constantly chews on them. He doesn't seem angry with me, but intrigued as if I'm some elaborate puzzle that he's trying to put together without looking at the box. I tilt my head to the side and he simply doesn't move, still staring at me.

"What?" I finally ask, sick of the staring game.

"You're odd."

"How's that 'odd'? He gives me a puzzled face again before slipping out of the chair and onto the floor next to me. He pulls my hand towards him, and I'm so confused I have no other option but to let him finish what he's doing. He flips my arm over to where the bottom of my wrist is showing. I pull away slightly when he runs his finger across the sullen scars etched into my skin from my teenage years of complete anxiety. He gives me a soothing look which relaxes me a bit, but still, I'm confused as he presses his thumb onto the scars.

"What did you say when people asked you how you were?" He asks me quietly. I know he knows the answer, and I'm sure it’s something he's very much experienced with.

"Fine." I reply and he nods instantly but doesn't stop gently pressing his fingers into my wrist.

"Why?" I don't think anyone has ever asked me a question quite like that before. In all honesty I don't think I've ever thought about it myself. Maybe I told myself I didn't want to bother them. But now, as I think of it, it’s because they didn't really want to know. Does anyone really care anymore as they ask you how're you're feeling? It seems everyone replies that they're perfectly fine because it's just the common response. I wonder when "How are you?" became a greeting.

"They didn't really want to know." Niall looks satisfied with my answer and gingerly releases my hand, pulling back his arm to where his hand rests in his lap.

"People only want to know what they're prepared to confront. When someone asks how you are, they don't really care for the answer, they just say it to be polite so they can go about their lives. What you've asked me has to be answered in something much deeper than anyone else would care to listen to. It just strikes me as odd that you're prepared to confront anything, no matter how horrible, that would come out of my mouth if I were to answer you." There's silence as I try to understand Niall. What's just come out of his mouth might possibly have been the most honest thing I've heard in my life, and I never realized the complete truth to the matter. No one actually cares about your response when they ask you those shallow and petty-"polite"- questions.

"I'll answer your question," he says, "but you've got to answer mine first: Why do you care?" I seem to have lost my voice as I take in what Niall's asked me. Why do I care? I look at Niall and he looks right back, waiting for a simple response that I haven't quite figured out yet.

"You deserve somebody that cares. Everyone deserves somebody that cares, Niall, and since I haven't seen anyone else here willing to give you that, I'm your person, and you're just going to have to deal with it." He gives me the sweetest smile I can imagine and I know I've finally given him something that he's been waiting for, for a long time.

"You're my person, huh? I like the sound of that." He laughs softly and I can't help but smile back at him. I'm not for sure if I'm really who he wants as his "person" but I suppose I'll do the best that I can. It surprises me how quick the mood shifts from this happy atmosphere to cold and intense yet again. I still haven't managed to understand how Niall switches so quickly, perhaps he's never really happy, so his mood doesn’t change that fast, he just stops smiling.

"Mallory had brain cancer, tumorous. Found it late, spread quick, she was gone eight months later." He tells me softly then looks towards his son for a moment, smiling sadly.

"G was too small to hold when she died." Niall whispers. I can't imagine the pain that comes along with the words coming out of his mouth, but maybe there's relief too if this really is the first time anyone's talking to him about it. He pulls his wallet out of the navy duffle under the chair, opening it and pulling a photo out of the inside, not from the picture slots. It's quiet as he hands it to me, his fingers lightly touching the picture as not to crease it. It's Grayson, well I suppose it is. The child here is much different from the excited little toddler I've come to adore these last three days. The baby is small, maybe the length of my forearm, and is covered in tubes and wire. Its eyes are covered by a soft eye mask, and a little hat and diaper are the only clothes on its thin pink skin. Niall is standing there by the large plastic crib, his hand placed against the hard plastic, staring at his child. I don't really see much difference from the boy in the photo, afraid for his far too small baby, and now, afraid of something I haven't quite figured out yet.

"Near the end she started forgetting things: her parents, mine, sometimes even me and Grayson. The tumors were killing pieces of her brain. Her scans starting looking like Swiss cheese, and there wasn’t anything they could do. I can still remember that last week. We all knew she wasn't going to make it much longer; she'd gotten a tumor on her brain stem. Once it grew, she'd stop breathing. She didn't remember me when I brought her something to eat. She tried so hard to place me, but no matter how hard she tried, I wasn’t there anymore. I must've died along with whatever part of her brain I was stored in.

"I was starting to leave the room, when she stopped me. She told me she loved me. It's funny that she couldn't tell you one thing about me, but she knew that she loved me. I guess that’s what got me through those last few days. The doctors said it was because the part of the brain where her feelings were produced was still intact. That never went, not until she died. She loved me 'til she died." I don’t think he fully realizes the tears on his cheeks before I've pulled him into a gentle hug, wrapping my arms around his torso softly. Persons give hugs, right?

I can feel his tears soaking into my shirt, but I couldn't care less. While I feel relieved that Niall is letting me in, I can't help but realize I've made him cry at least twice since I've been here, but maybe that's a good thing. Maybe that's all he really needs, to cry about everything that's hurt him so he can move on. My hands yet again find their way up to his loose curls. If it was up to me, he'd never style them up. His soft curls make him seem younger again, small and fragile. When my arms are wrapped around him, I can truly see his innocence. The mature adult I've recently discovered simply breaks around me and I'm yet again holding a fragile teenager, one whose life changed far too fast for anyone to handle. He was strong, but no one is strong enough to go through something like that without coming out covered in battle scars.
"You're really good at this." He mumbles into my shoulder, hiccupping through the sentence. I smile softly as he continues to let me hold him.

"Good at what?"

"Being my person."

 

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