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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3. Chapter Three: The Confetti Boy

-Demi's Point of View-

"Niall?" I knock on the door, a pale green blanket being gripped tightly in my hand.

"Niall, Grayson left his blanket with me." I knock incessantly, until I've come to the conclusion that there is no possible way that he couldn't have heard me. I'll just leave it near Niall's things so he doesn’t forget it. The blanket is obviously important to the little boy and I'm sure it wouldn't be good if they left it at the venue.

I turn the doorknob quickly and peek into the room before slipping inside and trying to find Grayson's little backpack. A small humming noise makes me turn my head to the back of the room, instantly smiling at the sight. Niall is asleep on the couch in the back of the room, his feet hanging over the armrest from being too tall for the small couch. Grayson is on his chest gripping at Niall's arm as they both sleep soundly, obviously not phased by my earlier knocking. The pacifier in Grayson's mouth shifts slightly with his every breath, but is otherwise forgotten by the toddler.

I smile softly at how close they are, how Grayson sleeps so comfortably against Niall. I gently place Grayson's blanket near Niall's wallet and car keys which are placed on a round, wood coffee table in the center of the room. I know that he'll see it there considering he can't leave without his car keys. As I step away from the table I accidentally trip over a water bottle, obviously forgotten in the floor, and it makes a horrible crunching noise.

Niall instantly shifts and his eyes blink open as I mutter a few curses under my breath. He rubs his hand over his face and blinks sleepily before looking around for the source of the noise. When he sees me, he gives me a slight smile and starts to shift into an upwards position whilst still keeping his arms around Grayson, cradling the child as he moves.

"I was just um. Grayson left his blanket with-" I cut my sentence short, not wanting to embarrass myself any further as Niall smiles at me. He looks like he's about to laugh at me, but I know he won't. I haven't heard him laugh since we were nineteen.

Niall shifts slightly to his left and lays Grayson on the couch, being careful not to startle the baby. He looks around for a moment before spotting what he's looking for, a long pillow near the end of the couch on the floor. I watch closely as Niall picks it up, placing it on the open side of the couch so Grayson can't roll off  in his sleep and injure himself. Niall gets up and it takes all of the will power I can muster up not to blush.

The red sweatpants on his lower half are hanging far lower than his mother would approve of and the strings are hanging loose, as if he forgot to tie them. Niall's hair is tossed in a way that suggests he's been sleeping for hours, which he hasn't, and his bare chest is far more muscular than I remember. After all, the last time I saw Niall shirtless, he was nineteen. I suppose he's used those five years to buff up. His previously scrawny build is nearly forgotten by me as I watch the muscles in Niall's back ripple when he bends to pick up his cell phone off the table. I can't help but stare. He's attractive; sue me.

He blushes a bit when he notices how low his sweatpants are actually hanging and quickly pulls them up to a more modest level on his hips, tying them instantly. I know he must have caught the slightly disappointed look in my eyes no matter how hard I tried to hide it. The quick shift of his sweats bring something entirely new to my attention: black ink scrawled on his right hip, far too low to be seen with clothes on.

"Nice." I tell him, motioning towards his hip with my head. I didn't really catch what the tattoo was but it was definitely there. I'm tempted to make fun of how tiny it is. It's hilarious that the only tattoo Niall's managed to get is so small. I expected his first tattoo to be large and extravagant. It randomly hits me that Niall can't possibly be wearing underwear, which makes me giggle under my breath for no apparent reason.

"Um. Thanks." He says quietly, blushing even more fiercely at the fact that I've managed to see a tattoo of his that is effortlessly hidden. He teeters from his heels to his toes, much like I witnessed Grayson do hours earlier, until he nods his head towards the door and walks over to it, holding the door open for me. I have no idea when he could have grabbed a shirt, but a tight white tee is quickly thrown over Niall's muscular torso as he shuts the door.

"So. You finally got a tattoo." I mention as Niall adjust his shirt and then his hair. He looks at me as if he's trying to think of the perfect response, but ends up just nodding in agreement. Now that he's standing so close to me I realize he reeks of cigarette smoke, but I don’t mention it.

"What is it?" He turns to face me and holds the middle of the sweatpants up his left hand, then pushes down the right side of his sweats so I can get a better look at his tattoo. The first thing I notice is not a tattoo, however, but a series of confetti like scars etched into his hip. I've never seen an injury like it. A small handprint is rested near the bottom of his hip, right over the scars, and a little 06.7 written in a typewriter like font directly under it. I smile at the tiny hand. It's very small in general, but it is proportionally a child's hand. I want to ask what it means but Niall probably has it hidden for a reason, so I simply nod and look at him with a soft smile.

"It's a date." He tells me.

"What?"

"You're wondering what it's about. It's a date." Niall says adjusting his sweatpants for the second time. I wait for him to explain as he looks at me. I can't put my finger on why the way he's looking at me feels so odd. It seems as if he's trying to observe my every facial feature like he'll have to repeat it by exact detail later.

"It's the day I found out Grayson was going to live. He was born early- too early- they told me he wouldn't make it every day for, I don't know, maybe five months. And one day they told me he was going to live. That's the first experience I ever had that made me feel as if I needed to be reminded of it every day for the rest of my life." I can tell the sincerity in his voice, but also pain. As if this memory was happy, yet sad. As if he had been given some other horrible news the same day. I disregard this feeling in favor of slightly cooing over the sweetness of Niall's little speech.

"That's sweet." I smile at him, trying to figure out where this boy was yesterday. Niall seems to have changed since yesterday. He's tender to me now, not snappy. I want to ask about the confetti scars but I don't want to change him from this mood.

"Sorry about waking you up. I was going to give it to Hayden, but I couldn't find him." He looks at me like he's utterly confused for a moment, but nods. Did I say something wrong?

"Hayden's not here." Niall says as if I should know it. I saw him just three hours ago, so he was definitely here. There is no way I mistook Harry for Hayden, so I'm fairly certain Hayden was here.

"Where is he?" I ask softly, not wanting to embarrass myself in front of Niall for what seems like the billionth time today.

"Hospital. His wife's having a baby." He smiles as he talks. This must be exciting for Niall. Besides Louis, no one else this close to the band has a child. I guess it's just a big moment for everyone, and that explains why I haven't been able to locate anyone but Grayson and Niall.

"That's great." I mumble, Niall nodding softly. He seems apprehensive to speak as if he is going to constantly say the wrong thing. I wonder why he suddenly has this demeanor, but I suppose he's just had a long day.
"Why aren't you there with the rest of them?" I ask softly and Niall shifts instantly, his shoulders going straight and his stare cold and hard. I can't imagine what I would have said to make him change so instantly. I know that I've ruined his mood now, so there's no going back.

"I don't like," He pauses, shifting his hands into his pockets, "hospitals." It's seems as if the word is a curse and if he says it, something utterly terrible will happen. Niall looks around for a moment, not even noticing my existence. He looks like a caged wild animal, stressed and looking for an escape route.

Suddenly, a shrill cry comes from the dressing room we were just in, and Niall's face fills with relief. The cry is obviously a baby, one younger than Grayson. I follow Niall as he heads back into the room, the metal door squeaking slightly on it's hinges.
"Awh, J. Don't cry, lad." Niall says quietly, lifting a baby with light brown curls out of a play pen in the opposite corner of the room from where Grayson is now sitting up on the couch, rubbing his eyes from sleep. Niall rocks the small child and the cries near instantly stop, only whimpers to be heard from the child now. It's obvious that the baby only wanted to be held.

"Who's that?" I ask. There are far too many babies around here. The One Direction boys seem to be going pretty quick in life if this is another one of their kids.

"Jensen. My nephew." I give him a confused look. That doesn't really tell me much. There's a ridiculous amount of people that the child's parents could be that would still make Niall his Uncle.

"And that's not what you wanted," I nod, "Harry and Hayden's sister, Gemma. It's her baby. Her and Ashton's. Ashton- he's a drummer in- wait, you know who Ashton is." I smile at how he trips over his words, blushing like a middle schooler talking to a crush for the first time. Jensen flails in Niall's arms, kicking his limbs in all directions. He sucks intently on his pacifier and looks up at Niall with quite possible the cutest eyes I've ever seen on a baby so young.

"God, he's cute." I say padding across the floor to Niall and Jensen. I run my finger down Jensen's cheek softly, which in turn makes him look at me. He stares at me for a minute, but then directs his attention back to Niall, smacking his lips around his pacifier. Jensen seems perfectly content, but then starts to whimper again, wiggling even more in Niall's arms.

Suddenly, I feel a small hand slip into mine, and look down to see Grayson staring up at me. He seems to realize that Niall is busy so I suppose I'm the next best thing. He grips at the air with his other hand and shoots me an annoyed look as if to say 'I've been waiting for ages why haven't you picked me up yet?' I laugh lightly at this and quickly slip my hands under Grayson's arms, lifting him into the air. He instantly lays his head on my shoulder, yawning softly. I'm sure it can't be pleasant to be woken up from a nap by a screaming baby.

A snapping sound makes me look up from Grayson, realizing Niall is now crouched on the floor, rummaging through a little red and blue diaper bag. He pulls out a diaper and a blanket, and lays the blanket out on the floor. He gingerly lays Jensen on the little car blanket, then quickly changes his dirty diaper.

"He's might be wet too." Niall says, nodding his head towards Grayson who's nearly asleep on my shoulder. Niall lifts Jensen back to his chest, but not before pressing a smiling kiss to the infant's cheek. Niall seems to effortlessly make children happy, he always has. He pulls a tiny jacket out of the bag, along with a pale blue hat. He looks around, searching for something before he stands, walking over to the corner where a baby car seat is. He slips Jensen into the hat and jacket, then fastens him in the car seat, draping the blanket that was previously in the play pen carefully over Jensen's lower body.

"Ashton's sick, and Gemma's with Hayden. Leaves me with Jensen. I've got a flat not too far away. You need me to drop you off anywhere on the way?" He asks, picking up all of his and the children's belongings. Jensen is nearly asleep by the looks of him and Grayson is fading fast. I'm sure Niall just wants to get them home.

"If you don't mind, that'd be great. I'm staying at the hotel down the street." He gives me a smile and continues to pack up his things deliberately leaving out some shoes, a hat, and a jacket for Grayson. It’s fairly cold in London this time of year, and Niall's doing a pretty good job of keeping the kids from getting sick. Niall turns off the oxygen machine, which has been humming in the background for some time now, and slips it into Grayson's backpack.

"Do you want me to um-" I point to the hat and other clothes that Niall left out for Grayson. He nods slightly as he starts to pack up his own things, slipping an iPod off the floor and into his bag.

"If you wouldn't mind." I crouch down and grab his little pieces of clothing, slipping them on Grayson one at a time. I finish dressing Grayson before Niall finishes picking up, so I simply stand there and rock Grayson. My neck starts to tickle from the little curls sticking out from under beanie.

"Your kid is absolutely adorable." I tell Niall, smiling at the little hand pressed up against my chest, near Grayson's face. His little chubby cheeks and childish blush make him seem much younger than he is, and it's adorable.

"I would say thank you, but he doesn't really take after me." Niall smiles, grabbing Grayson's blanket off the coffee table and handing it to me. I cover him up and realize that Grayson has fallen asleep against my shoulder. His pacifier still rests in his mouth from earlier, and the dinosaur pattern wiggles every time he breathes. I wonder why Grayson loves dinosaurs so much, it seems like such a random thing for a child to love.

Niall takes the blanket covering Jensen and lifts the top, draping it over the top of his car seat.
"No pictures for Jensen just yet." Niall says. I suppose Ashton and Gemma haven't allowed public pictures of Jensen and I can understand why. There's a big difference between taking a photo of your child and posting it on Instagram and having someone jump out from behind a car, take a photo of your baby, then publish it on the front of every magazine out there. 

"My car's in the private car park. Don't have to worry about sneaking G out." Niall says. I still can't believe he's managed to hide Grayson for this long. What does he do when there's not a private parking lot or a secluded area to leave with Grayson at a venue? The impossible task of hiding him will simply get more impossible as time goes on, but for now I suppose Niall will manage.

Once both children are safely buckled in the elaborate SUV, I help Niall stick his things in the trunk. He tells me he's going home in a few days, and that this is all of the luggage that he and Grayson had on tour. It barely fits and I end up having to hold the luggage in while Niall eases the door shut, my hands slipping out quickly so the suitcases and bags can't fall out before the trunk latches.

When I open the passenger seat door, I catch a glimpse of something in my seat: a package of cigarettes. Niall quickly snatches it off the seat and throws it in the console, not looking at me once. I can tell he's ashamed of me finding them like that. He quickly climbs into the car and shuts the door softly, making sure not to wake either of the sleeping babies in the back seat. I climb in next, choosing not to ask him about the cigarettes.

"I- It’s not very often." He says quietly, still avoiding eye contact with me. The engine turns over and Niall quickly switches on the heat, leaning back and opening the overhead vent above Jensen's head when he realizes that it's closed. He looks at both the kids for a moment, pulling up both their blankets and making sure that they don’t get cold in the brisk London temperatures.

"I though Grayson had problems breathing?" I know there's no way Niall would smoke with his son being so sick. It doesn't really make any sense with how protective Niall is over his son.

"I don't do it around him!" Niall yells. The anger in his voice startles me, and I slink away from him. He's never talked to me like that before. The anger in his features quickly fades away into to something much more vulnerable. He gives me a quick glance and shakes his head. Niall pulls out of the parking lot and onto the road, turning on his wipers as he realizes it's raining outside.

"I'm sorry," He lets out a shaky breath before continuing, "you're right. I just- I haven’t done it in a week. I'm trying. I know how bad it is for Grayson. It just- It takes the edge off. I'm sorry I yelled." He stares at the road with all of his focus, as if looking at me would cause some horrible thing to happen. Not another word falls from his lips for the rest of the drive to my hotel.

When the hotel comes into view, we both realize that there's a mass of paparazzi camped out at the entrance. Niall stops before they have a chance to see us. He looks at me with a knowing look.

"Coming to mine?" He asks me softly. I give him a quick nod and he eases back into the street. If I were caught getting out of Niall's SUV, there would be rumors surfacing every corner of the web within minutes. There's also a chance that Grayson could be spotted, and I wouldn't want to risk that.

Niall's apartment isn't very large, a two bedroom with an open floor plan. It has a very modern feel to it and the decorations are to a minimum. He gives me a brief tour as he dresses the children and puts Grayson to bed, Jensen only crying once for a bottle before he too falls asleep in his own crib. Niall lets me sleep in his bed and simply states that the couch is comfy anyways. What I didn't know as I fell asleep that night was that by the time I left Niall's apartment the next day, I would be forever changed.

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