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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1. Chapter One: The Fatherly Boy

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

-Demi's Point of View-

It seems like I should feel comfortable, arriving at the O2 Arena, where I have performed many times before, but honestly I couldn't be more nervous. I'm not the one performing, obviously, and I suppose that's the reason I'm nervous. One Direction is performing the second to last show before the end of their tour tonight. I haven't talked to any of them in years, but since we are lined up to collaborate on a new track, they though it would be a good idea for me to come to their last two shows, both being at the O2 Arena in London. 

A security guard escorts me from my limo and through a labyrinth of hallways and doors until we reach a large dressing room filled with people. 

"Demi." Simon says, rolling his eyes dramatically. 
"Simon." I say, the same playfully annoyed tone in my voice, mimicking him. The time we spent together judging the X-Factor USA a while back have made us continue these jokes and antics well after we are no longer on the show together. 

"Glad you could make it." Simon says after someone whispers in his ear."Sorry, but I need to take care of something." I nod as he starts talking to some other people that I don't know. 

"Demi! How are you?" I hear and turn my head to see Louis, already dressed in his stage clothes,  smiling at me. I walk over to him, noticing how little he's changed over the years. 

"I'm good. What about you?" 

"Great. Actually-"

"Daddy!" He's cut off  by the yell of a toddler running into the room. Louis scoops him up, the little boy giggling sweetly. If I'm right, Louis has one kid, Jamie. I haven't seen Jamie since he was only a few months old, but this little boy is definitely him. In this industry, being twenty-six and already having a nearly three year-old son and a wife is going pretty fast. I don't know how he keeps up with tours and work while still finding the time to be with his family.

Not long after that, Louis' wife, Eleanor, comes into the room accompanied by security and looks around the room until she spots Louis and Jamie. I still keep in contact with Eleanor, but we don't really talk that often. I also heard about four months ago that her and Louis would be expecting another baby, but I wasn't expecting her to be this far along. Eleanor walks over to us, frowning slightly at Jamie.

"Jamison William, what have I told you about running off like that?" She scolds softly; Eleanor's never been one to yell. Jamie's face shows complete shame as he stares at the floor.

"No do that." Jamie says quietly. I smile at his cute little answer as Louis lets him down. Jamie runs over to the other side of the room, chubby legs going as fast as they can. I laugh as Louis shakes his head at his little one. 

"Hi, love. How're you feeling?" Louis asks Eleanor, bringing her into a side hug and kissing her temple. She smiles softly at him as he grabs her hand. 

"Back still hurts, but it's s'ok." I smile sympathetically at her as Louis places one hand on the small of her back, rubbing lightly. Eleanor and Louis keep conversing, bringing me into the conversation for a few things. I stare aimlessly around the room, bored stiff. I can't help but notice a pop-up play pen in the corner of the room. It looks like one that you would put in your living room for a baby to sleep in while you're doing chores. It makes no sense for that to be there considering that the only one in One Direction with a child is Louis and I know that Jamie didn't come on tour with Louis and the boys. Maybe it's there in case Jamie falls asleep.

As it gets closer and closer to show time, the dressing room is mostly occupied by the boys, their families, and just a few stage hands. It confuses me as to why everyone is in the room except Niall. I haven't seen him at all since I've been here, but the rest of One Direction have been here for at least an hour. As soon as the thought passes through my mind, Niall walks into the room carrying a small child.

The little boy is obviously younger than Jamie and much smaller. He has short blond curls and is sleeping peacefully rested against Niall's shoulder. Niall looks... different I suppose. The dark bags under his eyes suggest an utter lack of sleep and he seems to be running on his last bit of fuel. Niall pays no attention to anyone in the room as he places the sleeping infant in the play pen, placing a blanket over the child and running the side of his finger over the little boy's cheek. It's obvious Niall is fond of the infant. 

Niall pulls out a black bag from between the side of the play pen and the wall and pulls something small out of it. I can't tell what it is until Niall places it over the small child's face, oxygen. Why a baby of that size would need oxygen while he is asleep is beyond me; maybe he's sick.

Niall walks across the room and sits down between me and Liam on a large leather couch. At first, he pays no attention to me, staring off into space like he really could care less about anything. Then, he turns his head to look at me, giving me a slight smile.

"It's been a long time since we've seen each other, hasn't it?" He asks, looking at me directly now. I smile lightly at him, glad he still possess the charm he had when he was younger. Niall and I went on a few dates when we were teens but it never really turned into anything. The first time I was noticed out with Niall, his fans were quick to overwhelm me with drastic hate messages. I didn't really feel like me and Niall were ever going to amount to more than being in a relationship so I just ended it then and there.

"I guess it has." I respond. The way that Niall looks at me... I just can't put my finger on it; something is different about him. I don't realize I'm staring at him until he gives me a little crooked smile.

"What?" He asks, smiling softly.

"You're just... different." He gives me a slightly confused look, not really understanding what I'm saying. I suppose I don't really know how to explain it. He's just different. As he looks into my eyes I finally notice it... Quiet. That's what's different about Niall. When we were teens there wasn't a moment he was left without a word, talking up everyone's ears until we were tempted to place him in another, and hopefully sound-proof, room. Now, as I look at him, I can't seem to locate the once charismatic boy that was my best friend. 

Niall's attention leaves our conversation the second I hear a small cough come from across the room. Niall's head snaps up and towards the play pen, watching intensely as the child squirms before falling back to sleep. His relaxed nature is suddenly gone, a certain rigidness in his features as he returns to the conversation. The child must be his, judging by his actions, even though I never knew he had a baby. 

"Is that your baby?" I ask Niall softly, trying not to pry too much. 

"No." He replies instantly, a harsh look on his face. I notice Liam placing a hand on Niall's shoulder, giving him a knowing look, communicating words into his stare. Niall nods, noticeably relaxing before turning to me. 

"That's Kelly's baby. She's a stagehand." He says quietly and I notice Liam glaring at him from the corner of my eye. If he's not Niall's then why is Niall taking care of him? It's odd how Niall went from so relaxed and bubbly, to this rigid, cold state. His eyes are silent, dead, the sparkle and enthusiasm they once possessed long gone. What could've possibly happened to him that could change him so much in such a short amount of time?

Liam whispers something to Niall and I can instantly see Niall's face fall into anger as he sends a furious look to Liam, getting up off the couch and leaving the room. I raise an eyebrow at Liam as he sighs sadly. 

"Can hardly talk to him anymore. He just does that." Liam mumbles and glances towards the child sleeping in the pin as he tosses and turns, restless in his sleep. I feel sorry for the small boy. He's obviously in some sort of distress as he pulls against the covers, the soft hum of the oxygen machine radiating throughout the room. I can tell the sight hurts Liam as well as Niall, the sad look in Liam's eyes prominent.

"He's had it rough, you know? I just. I wish he'd talk to someone instead of just being quiet all the time." Liam tells me sincerely. His frustration is shown through the sluggish way he says his words, obviously annoyed by the fact that Niall's kept to himself. 

"He's Niall's isn't he?" I ask Liam, gesturing to the small sleeping boy. I know very well that there is no way Niall would be so gentle, caring, and protective of a child that isn't even his own.

"Yeah. His name's Grayson. Sweet kid. It's a shame really; he's always been like this, always poorly." It seems as if right when the sentence leave his mouth, Grayson opens his eyes, searching around the room for a few seconds before his lip starts to quiver. Liam notices his distressed state and gets up instantly, walking over to the small boy and turning off the oxygen before lifting him out of the pen, grabbing a pacifier from the bag next to the pin and slipping it into Grayson's mouth. Grayson instantly starts to calm, head resting against Liam's shoulder.

"Daddy." Grayson whines, sniffling slightly as he stops his tears. Liam rubs his back softly and leans his head against Grayson's.

"Alright, Bud. Hold on and I'll get Daddy." Liam whispers, trying to comfort him. Liam motions to the door, explaining with gestures that's he going to find Niall. I just don't understand why Niall would lie to me. Why would he say that his own son belonged to someone else? The question is beyond me, but I still don't understand his severe personality change. Niall is cold and bitter, but I'm sure there's still the little bit of that nineteen year-old that was my best friend left in there somewhere.

I never thought I'd be wondering about him again. It's been years since I felt even a spark of something between us, so how is it that now that Niall is different, quiet, broken, lonely, I suddenly have a connection? When I look in his eyes, I see pain. I see anger, like he's trying to scream out but no one will listen. I know how it feels to be alone, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, especially Niall. He's always been the happy one, the one that never cared what people said, the one that always had your back even when you were fighting. I just want him back. I want that boy that I knew so long ago back, smiling brightly and laughing all the time.

I instantly know I need to find Niall; I need to make sure he's okay. I go back to the stage, but realize then, that the show has started and Niall is out there jumping around and acting a fool like he always is. If only anyone really knew about the lonely little boy trapped inside, hidden behind a smile and lies. It amazes me that he can do that, pretend so well that he's the happiest person on the planet, while inside he feels so alone. 

After the show, backstage is much quieter. Since tomorrow's show is at the O2 also, the crew have the night off to go out, or most probably sleep, instead of having to pack up the entire set like a normal night on tour. More and more people leave the arena until there's only few stragglers remain, including myself.

A soft humming echoes through the empty halls as I walk down them, glancing at the colorful artwork hanging across the walls. I smile softly at the sight in front of me as I come across Niall carrying Grayson, rocking him and humming to the small child. Grayson's eyes droop dramatically as Niall keeps whispering the soft tune. His eyes come in contact with mine and It's harder than I feel it should be to tear my look away from his cold stare. 

I watch in silence as Niall walks around the room, picking up a small jacket, blankets, pacifiers, and many other little items belonging to his child with practiced ease, managing to never falter in the continuous humming. By the time he's finished packing up all of Grayson's things, the toddler is sleeping peacefully against his shoulder. Niall kisses his son's head ever so softly before gingerly placing a tiny, maroon beanie over Grayson's curls to keep him away from the brisk London air outside.

"That's impressive." I note as Niall lifts a small bag over his shoulder, dinosaur key chains rattling as they hit his back. He looks up at me before shifting Grayson a bit, smiling.

"Not really. Just had a lot of practice I suppose." He notes, walking over to me as I finally get a good look at Grayson. My heart simply melts at the sight of possibly the cutest baby I've ever seen. His mouth puckers lightly as he sucks on the pacifier, cheeks tinted a rosy pink and eyelashes falling over his extremely small, yet chubby, cheeks. His light blonde curls are obviously not from Niall, but the soft texture is extremely similar. Even as the child sleeps, anyone could see the resemblance between Grayson and Niall.

"Why'd you lie about him?" I ask quietly, making sure not to wake Grayson. Niall frowns slightly, avoiding my gaze and leaning his head up against Grayson's.

"He's a secret, always has been. I-I just didn't know if you'd say anything. I just want him to have the normal childhood he deserves." He says nearly inaudibly. I realize then how odd it actually is that I didn't know about Grayson. If Niall so much as gets a sandwich it makes the news so i wonder how much effort it really takes to keep Grayson hidden. Niall's managed to keep his son a secret and away from the paparazzi and fans. Niall's hurt and mangled inside, but he still puts his son first.

I always knew Niall would make a good dad one day, but I never imagined him to be like this. I imagined him to be the dad that always lets the kids stay up past their bedtime and gives them candy even when his wife would say no. Instead, Niall is the type of Dad that sacrifices anything for his kid, anything. Niall doesn't care about the pain or how hard it is; his son is his world and you can see it in his eyes.

"How old is he?" I ask softly, a smile growing on my face shortly after because Niall's face lights up as he talks about Grayson.

"Two." Niall murmurs but soon stops as Grayson opens his eyes, looking curiously at me with huge green eyes outlined in blue. His little freckles crinkle as he squints his eyes closed and lifts his head, turning to look at Niall. Niall smiles down at his son, kissing his forehead, before Grayson starts to whimper.

"Awh, G, don't be like that." Niall pouts and rocks his child back to sleep. I watch Grayson's tiny hand lay flat against Niall's chest, thinking that there's no way this tiny boy is two years old.  

"He's really small." I say, watching as Niall sits down on a red couch in the secluded room, placing the little blue backpack with dinosaur key chains on the floor, unzipping it with one hand and pulling out a pale green blanket.He places the blanket over Grayson as the child sleeps peacefully, head resting against Niall's chest. I sit down next to Niall and watch intently as he holds on to Grayson, making sure he's comfortable and content. 

"He was premature." Niall says quietly, as if just saying it makes him cringe. I suppose that's why Grayson needs oxygen. Preemie babies often have underdeveloped lungs, and are also smaller  compared to other children. I would ask about the oxygen, but I don't want to pry. Grayson starts to fidget in Niall's arms almost instantly as Niall holds him close. A small cough leaves the little boy's mouth and Niall instantly tenses, just like before. It's as if Niall holds his breath, waiting on the edge for another cough. 

When the cough doesn't come, he starts to relax again, pulling his eyes away from Grayson and back to me. My eyes search his for an explanation as he avoids looking at me, choosing keep his glare on the floor instead. Before I can ask him anything more, Liam comes in, announcing that the paparazzi have gone and it's safe for Niall to take Grayson to the car. Niall leaves without hesitation, not even bothering to say goodbye to me. I thought he was warming up to me, maybe just a bit, but I guess not.

"Don't take it personally. He does that to everyone." I suppose Liam spots the absent look in my eyes as I watch Niall walk quietly down the hall. Niall seems so small and fragile, as if the child in his arms is nothing more than a mirror image of himself, a glimpse of what's inside: a scared, lonely boy looking for an escape route without a clue in the world of how to find it. 

 

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