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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10. Chapter Ten: The Laughing Boy

Everyone remembers that moment when nothing turns into something. Of course, sometimes that moment is a collection of moments, all leading up to that inevitable something that the movies always talk about. So, even though you may not remember the specific moment, the collection of moments all strung together make a beautiful memory, and no one can argue with that. I guess everyone's something is different too. What qualifies a nothing for the transition into something, exactly? I'm not sure, but for some reason, everyone seems to know where that line lies, and when it is crossed.

 

What they don't warn you about in the movies is that sometimes, that nothing can cross over into something faster than you ever could have expected.

 

 

If there's anything I regret from my stay at Niall's, it's that I didn't take Grayson home with me. He has got to be the sweetest baby in the entire world, universe even, and everyone knows it. Well, I suppose only the limited number of people that know he even exists know it, but that minor detail is irrelevant in this case.

Nothing's really changed between Niall and I since I've been gone. We still talk every day, even Skype when he feels up to it and Grayson's gone to bed. I never expected him to call me once I left London. I don't even remember him getting my number but seconds after I landed back in Los Angeles I received a simple 'G is :('. Of course, there's no one else that would be, and since that one text, I don't think either of us have managed to go a full day without contacting each other one way or another.

After that, I told him to call me if he needed me, no matter what the time. I just kept seeing that image of him in my head, sitting back stage with the boys just staring at him, his eyes full of fear. I never want him to feel like that ever again; no one ever should. I'm just worried that if he didn't have me, he'd be forced to sit there and sob until his body just gave out and he fell asleep, but with his insomnia, is that even possible?
He called me last night nearly in tears, for a different reason than I expected, though. He told me he hadn't slept in days. Of course, I asked why but he simply stated he didn't know, and that he was exhausted beyond belief. I ended up talking to him throughout the night on FaceTime, that is, until it was around seven in the morning his time, and he fell asleep. He'd have to get up soon anyways because of Grayson's early rising, but I'm sure a quick power nap is better than nothing.

Some parts of me wish I had never left. I miss them more than I really should. I don't know, maybe it's easy to get used to having someone to wake up to in the morning. Having someone to hold, even if it's just a friend, is something that I'll never take for granted again.

Niall's twenty-fourth birthday is in two days. I suppose I shouldn't really be too worried about it, but now that I know about his secret toddler and I've slept in the same bed as him aren't I obligated to get him a gift or at least mention happy birthday? It's confusing to say the least, especially since I have no idea what I'm supposed to get for a twenty-four year old multi-billionaire who can participate in just about zero hobbies from his lack of free time. What do you get for someone who has everything they could ever want?

I suppose there's no real answer to that question, especially since I know absolutely nothing about Niall. The only thing I could come up with when thinking about Niall's likes and interests was Grayson. The only thing that Niall enjoys can't possibly just be his baby? Or can it?

That's what drove me to this moment; that's what I keep telling myself, anyways. There are some things in life that are simply embarrassing, and to embarrass yourself in front of your little sister? Even worse.

"Why do you need Ollie Styles' phone number?" She laughed at me the second I asked her, and I honestly can't blame her. I didn't even know if she'd have it, but I was hoping. She's less than a year younger than him, and incredibly adorable. Why wouldn't Madison have his number?

Turns out, she didn't have it, but she did end up getting it through a mutual friend. As if the whole asking for the number experience wasn't traumatizing enough, I don't think I'll ever be able to successfully look my little sister in the eyes again after receiving the text message 'go get em, cougar' with Ollie's contact attached.

I'm not even completely sure what I'm asking for when I talk to Ollie. I don't even know if I can successfully talk to him without slipping out something ridiculous like, I'm sorry you're dying. I can't help but hope that I won't have any more word vomit past this point because saying anything along those lines would be so stupid of me

Apparently, the boys are planning on throwing Niall a party, like they do every year, and he's definitely not going to go, like he does every year. Ollie tells me that Niall doesn't drink (or leave Grayson alone for that matter), so a club party with drunk girls dancing around isn't really his scene. Of course, that makes me wonder why the boys don't just throw him a party somewhere else that's a bit more kid-friendly and alcohol free, but I suppose they wouldn't want to ruin their fun on Niall's birthday, would they?

Although, it turns out that my assumptions were right, Niall doesn't really have many hobbies. Ollie says the only thing Niall really does besides take care of Grayson is go to the gym. It doesn't appear that he really enjoys anything at all, which is sad to say the least.

 

'if u really want to make him happy, go visit him. he wuld lov that.'

 

Oh.

 

I suppose that's something I could do, only by suggestion of Ollie, the grammar master, of course. I know I sleep better when I've got someone to hold, so maybe Niall does too. What's better than a good night's sleep? Nothing much, especially if it's as hard to come by as it is for Niall.

 

And that's the moment when I start packing only days after returning home.

 

 

Maybe it's not too late to turn around and go home. No. No, I took a seventeen hour flight to get here, so I have to go through with it. God, whatever possessed me to come here unannounced is definitely not there anymore. What if he doesn’t really want me here? What if I show up and there's another girl there? I never asked if he was seeing anyone, but I'm sure a girlfriend definitely would not like another girl showing up to her man's place unannounced for his birthday. I'm sure that would seem pretty sketchy.

Ollie gave me Niall's address and gate code. Apparently, everyone with access to Niall's house has a different gate code, and their name is announced in the house once it's punched in at the gate. I just hope I don't end up fucking this up and set off some alarm he may have. Nonetheless, I manage to navigate myself to his house successfully and punch in a not so simple OMS000401NH into the gate up a small road in his hometown. The entrance to his house is hidden by woods and at the end of a road leading into them. I suppose he doesn't have too many problems with privacy back here.

I'm completely shaking by the time my car pulls up to the back entrance of his surprisingly small house. It looks like it can't have more than three or four bedrooms: the average middle class family home besides the expansive gate. It's small and quaint and everything a family home should be, but nothing like a celebrity home should be. I honestly haven't even seen a celebrity apartment as small as Niall's house besides his own.

For some reason, when my car comes to a stop behind Niall's home and next to a familiar black SUV, I simply can't move. Too many what if's are floating around in my head, and there's only one way to get them to stop, get it over with. I just hope he's not too surprised at my visit.

I've never been here before, and Ollie didn't specify what door he usually enters through, so I feel like the back door next to Niall's attached garage is a safe bet. I decide to leave my luggage in the car just in case this whole thing goes poorly fast, and I need to leave. I don't think that's going to happen, but I might as well be prepared.

 

Here goes nothing.

 

I walk up to the door hesitantly, reaching to knock before I realize that Ollie would probably never do such a thing, and his name has just been announced inside Niall's house. So, should I knock, or keep up the charade and pretend I'm actually Niall's youngest "brother" popping in for a visit. My hand wavers on the doorknob and I suddenly feel like I'm intruding. Niall doesn't even really know me and I just showed up at his house for no reason at all. What was I thinking?

Turns out, I don't have much time to think about my momentary lack of sanity because Niall opens the door seconds later, his hair completely soaked, eyes red, and face pale. He stands there emotionless for a good few seconds before looking me up and down, finally registering that I'm the one that's shown up today, not Ollie. That's when I see his smile and all of my worries about this trip fade away.

Niall smiles so wide that his eyes pinch closed, little creases finding their way upon his face. He laughs slightly before looking me up and down yet again, seemingly not believing that I'm actually there.

"No way!" He laughs out, and quickly grabs my hand, pulling me into his arms and by default into his house, smiling brightly.  He's wearing nothing but sweats yet again which leads me to believe that he's just gotten out of the shower; that, and the lingering smell of apples. He must have been in a hurry because he's still almost completely wet, his hair still dripping over his face and down onto his torso. I'm not really sure why he would have gotten down here so fast if all he was expecting was Ollie.

"What are you doing here?" He whispers softly as his arms continue to clench around me. His voice is incredibly soft, but I can tell there's a hint of desperation lying underneath it. He's exhausted, and the slow drawl to his voice confirms my suspicions that he must not have slept for very long this morning. I want to figure out why he's not sleeping and how to fix it while I'm here, but I can only hope that it will all work out. It would be awful if I came all the way here just to make his sleeping pattern worse.

"I was in the neighborhood." I whisper into his chest, and for some reason, I don't really mind that fact that his hair is dripping all over me or that he's holding me so tight. Niall doesn't respond to my sentence. He knows that my neighborhood is seventeen hours and two flights away from here. Maybe we both just need a cuddle every once in a while. Is that so wrong? It just so happens that my cuddle buddy lives on the opposite side of the world. Hey, I didn't ask for that.

After Niall finally releases me from his death grip, he quickly makes a point to grab my suitcases from the trunk of my rental car. I'd pick you up if I'd have known. Yes, Niall, I know that. That wouldn't be that much of a surprise now would it? I don't think Niall really thinks about small gestures like that anyways. He would have enjoyed this just as much if he would have come to pick me up, but I like to surprise him, and he's just going to have to deal with it.

Niall's home is far different than his apartment. I was expecting it to look something like his other "home", but the bare walls of his London life could never compare to this. Directly inside his back door is a small hallway, which includes a door to a guest bedroom, and at the end, opens up to his living room. The floor plan is similar to his apartment, however: his living room is open to his kitchen, the difference in flooring being the only thing separating the two rooms. 

In the small hallway leading from his backdoor is a small stairway, a baby gate at both the top and bottom. 

Every single wall in his entire house is covered in photos, despite the modern feel to his space. His living room has a beautiful fireplace, with the most adorable picture of Grayson sitting on a shelf just above it. I never knew that a parent could have so many pictures with their child, and it's evident Niall has exceeded all expectations. There are also a few pictures of the boys scattered around, but the first thing I truly notice about his house is there is absolutely nothing about Niall himself present. If I'd have won as many awards as him, I'd definitely display them somewhere. He's probably had more number ones than he can count, but I don't see a single album cover anywhere.

"Where are all of your awards?" I ask him, my fingers tracing the edge of one of his shelves, a few toothless smiles from Grayson present among a picture of what looks like teenage Niall and pre-teen Ollie at Disney World, smiling that grin that shows everyone how much they were genuinely enjoying themselves. When I look up at Niall from his position in front of me, he just gives me a funny look, like there's no reason those should be displayed.

"Normal parents don't display their VMAs in the living room." He tells me quite certainly.

"Niall, normal parents don't have VMAs to display." He throws a small smiles my way, but doesn't respond. I suppose I get what he means. He wants Grayson to have a normal childhood, and normal parents don't display their greatest accomplishments all over their house. They display things like coloring book pages and kindergarten diplomas. Niall has plenty of Grayson's achievements highlighted in his house, just about as many as a two year old can have in the short amount of time they've been on this Earth. Grayson will definitely never feel like he can't outdo Niall's success if he continues with the way he's lifting Grayson up. I'm actually really impressed with how wise Niall's managed to be about parenting with no help at all, not even from a spouse.

"Where's Grayson?" I ask, suddenly aware that I haven't seen him about in the house, and it feels a little odd that Niall wouldn't be around him.

"Sleeping. Missed his nap today 'cause me ma came over. I put him to bed early." He mentions casually as he starts moving towards the stairs and fiddling with the baby gate. I can't help but feel a little disappointed that I won't be able to see him until tomorrow morning, but at least Niall can get a nice, long sleep tonight. Niall starts walking up the stairs, and I quickly follow him. I'm not really sure where he's going considering I've never been in his house before, but he turns into the first door on the right at the top of the stairs, and sits my luggage down right inside the door.

"This is where you'll be sleeping." He states, flicking on the lights. The first thing I think is that this is definitely not a guest room. The bed is unmade and there's clothes in the floor near one of the two walk in closets that are on either side of the room. There's a door in between those two, which looks like a bathroom. That's when it hits me that this must be Niall's room: the master bedroom. I know he must catch the look on my face as I realize that he's automatically assumed that I'm going to sleep in his room with him.

I know he can see my soft smile, and takes that as the okay to pick up my luggage and move it to the far side of the room. I guess I do usually sleep on the left side of the bed.

"Here. You'll like this." Niall mentions before going to the wall his bed is pressed up against, and opening the door not too far away from his nightstand.

Inside is Grayson's nursery. It's a bit too dark to fully see it, but the nightlight and baby items make it completely obvious. I can tell Niall must have had this house built for them, as the master hardly ever has a feature like this. That, and Grayson's bedroom has two entrances. It's evident that it's meant to be a baby's room.

"Shit," Niall says suddenly, "You've been in the air all day. You hungry?" He asks me quickly, and I know he must feel like a bad host or something along those lines. Honestly, I could eat and respond as such. Surprisingly not even ten minutes later I'm sat on his couch with a full meal in front of me. Apparently these dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets are highly requested among the Horan kitchen's most frequent visitor. They're not as bad as I thought they would be. Actually, they're not bad at all.

Niall ends up eating a few of them himself as we watch Superman. Apparently, when you have a two year old in the house and no one else, the movie choices really only range from superhero to Elmo, and not much else. I like this movie nonetheless, which I can tell eases Niall's embarrassment of only have two types of movies for us to watch.

At first, I think he's going to fall asleep as we sit in silence, but he does nothing of the sort. I simply sit there next to him, my head on his shoulder as we watch Clark Kent undergo another quick change. Niall's not the type to talk during movies, I suppose. He sits silently through the majority of the movie, and when it's finally over, he switches it over to normal television and lowers the volume.

"Thank you," He pauses, turning to look down at me, "for coming, and all." I smile at his sudden shyness. It's at moments like this where I see the old Niall, the happy, carefree idiot who couldn't help but get nervous every time I even glanced at him.
"Thank you," I pause, attempting to mimic his shyness, "for making me dinosaur chicken nuggets." He laughs at this, and my heart simply melts. I love it when he laughs, and I'm not really sure why. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I feel like his laughs come few and far between, and that I should cherish them because one day soon they might disappear forever.

He looks down at me for a moment, blush appearing on his cheeks, and suddenly I can't remember anything. I can't remember what I was going to say next, and I can't remember how to speak. I just want to pause this moment right here and keep it forever because Niall actually seems happy? I know that it's just a right now happy, and those don’t mean too much, but maybe one day the right now happy can turn into forever happy.

Niall leans down towards me and presses his forehead to mine, much like I've noticed he does in his sleep in the middle of the night.

"Thank you for caring." He whispers, as if it's a secret that should only be spoken of in our sole presence.

"Thank you for letting me care." I respond, and just like that another smile shows up, a small dimple making itself known on his left cheek. I don't know how I'm going to survive if he keeps smiling like this; why does he have to look like this: like a little kid with this little dimple yet with so much beauty and discipline.

"I wanna kiss you. Is that okay? Can I kiss you?" He asks me, and- what? What does he mean he wants to kiss me? God, I'd be lying if I told him I didn't want him to, but there's some part of me that can't help but think about what this is again. If I let him kiss me, nothing is going to turn into something and there's no going back. There's so many things to think about but I couldn't possibly go through all of the bad outcomes before he needs an answer, so I just nod my head. Fuck it.

It's over before I can even register it. There's just a small gentle press and then his lips are gone, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. What am I supposed to do now? Do I say something? What am I supposed to-

"Can I kiss you again?" Honestly, fuck you, Niall. How am I supposed to think about all the bad things that are going to happen if I let you kiss me again if you just keep saying stuff like that. I don't even know what to say this time. I want to say yes, but I just don't know if that's the best idea. Maybe we could just try things out, you know? See how it goes and such.

"How about this," I say, trying to keep my voice steady, "You can kiss me any time you want for the rest of the day."

"Just today?" He smiles out, laughing a bit.
"Just today. You've got a trial period. Don't screw it up, Mr. Horan." I try to remain stern but I know he hears the laughter in my voice. I can't keep a straight face when he's sitting there with that smile of his; there's no way.

"I'll try not to."

 

That’s the moment I was talking about. The moment you know when nothing turns into something.

 

 

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