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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12. Chapter Twelve: The Responsible Boy

(a/n: okay so this took me lowkey eight years to write and i'm so sorry it's just kind of a boring chapter so it was really hard for me to make myself write it. the next chapter should come a lot sooner!!! -s xx )

 

By the time Grayson's ready to be put down for a nap, he's completely and utterly spent. After Ollie left earlier this morning, Niall and I thought it would be fun to play cards with Grayson to entertain him. Of course, there weren’t any games that Grayson could possibly play by himself, so he and I ended up on a team together once Niall decided on Go Fish. And of course, we won, but I’m pretty sure the only reason is because Niall let us win, which I didn’t even know was possible with Go Fish until Niall did it.

After that, I watched as Niall chased Grayson around the backyard, a vibrant, neon green soccer ball being passed between them. Grayson’s coordination is pretty limited at this age, so it’s pretty funny to watch him focus so heavily on something like kicking a ball, which seems so simple to adults. By that time Grayson was completely covered in dirt and sweaty, and couldn't be happier about it. Niall then gave Grayson a bath in record time, and not twenty minutes later, the small boy was asleep.

Nonetheless, throughout the entire beginning of today Niall just seemed off. I'm not really sure why, but he was either upset about something or completely distracted. It's hard to see him not completely enjoying today; your birthday is supposed to be fun. I guess he's just not used to celebrating it?

"You okay?" I ask Niall softly, his brow furrowed in concentration as he throws some of Grayson's muddy clothes in the washing machine, me leaning against the wooden door frame of his laundry room, watching him. He doesn't respond, just continues to throw clothes in the machine. He pours some detergent in and reaches up to grab a blue bottle of fabric softener from the top shelf.

"Niall?" I question, my heart beating faster, worried that I've done something to upset him. This time, his response is delayed, but it's there. He mumbles a quick mhm before leaning forward and starting the machine. He seems like he's not really paying attention to anything besides whatever thoughts have taken up residence in his mind.

"I asked if you were okay." I tell Niall gently; he nods leisurely and starts the washing machine.

"I'm fine." He says, his face completely neutral. I've noticed he does this sometimes; it's almost as if his personality retreats so far inside himself that nothing's left to show to the outside. He's quiet and intense, and I still haven't figured out why or how to fix it. He walks past me in the doorway without even glancing my way, and I can't help but feel a bit hurt by it, even though it might not have anything to do with me.

I've spent longer than I'd like to admit researching anything and everything that I can do to help him, but somehow it just feels so impossible. I don't think I'll ever be enough to get him back to who he was; that's something he has to do. The problem is, I don't think he wants to. I'm not sure if he just thinks it's impossible or he doesn’t think he's good enough to do it.

"You're not a good liar, Niall." I mention softly, and he turns around instantly, the blankness in his face slowly morphing into anger.

"What's that supposed to mean?" He asks me, his eyes glaring and his jaw clenched. I feel so small under his harsh stare, and it makes me abruptly and unintentionally move backwards away from him, slightly behind the laundry room door frame.

Niall's eyes soften incredibly quickly, his mouth falling open as he attempts to speak, but no words fall from his lips. Instead, they start to quiver as if he might cry, but he doesn't. He tenses his jaw and pulls his bottom lip into his mouth, stopping his tears effectively.

Niall holds out his hand towards me, raising it gently and keeping his palm up towards me. I'm not really sure what he means until he cups his hand a bit and motions to it with a nod.

I reach my hand out slowly to touch his, his hands rough but his touch gentle and soft, and soon enough, he has me gently wrapped in his arms yet again.

"I'm sorry," Niall whispers, "I'm not used to 'avin you 'round yet." He gently lays the side of his face against mine as my head rests on his chest. I can feel his eyelashes on my cheek and his chest rising up and down at a slightly quickened pace.

"That's okay." I tell him softly, my arms wrapping around his waist. I suppose he noticed me becoming uneasy at his anger, and instantly tried to make up for it. Despite how out of touch Niall seems to be with his own emotions, he seems to be incredibly observant of others'.

I’m not really sure how that works, or how any of this works to be completely honest. All I know is I definitely can’t ask Niall about it. I’m not really sure where the line is in terms of what would make him uncomfortable, and making him uncomfortable is the last thing I want to do. Right now I’m one of the only people not making their entire relationship with Niall about his disorder, and I don’t want to take that away from him. It’s just so hard to try to find that balance of quiet and prodding.

“Wanna go lay down? Take a nap maybe?” I ask Niall gently. It’s about one in the afternoon, but I can tell he still hasn’t made up for the recently lost hours of sleep caused by his insomnia. He lifts his head from its position against mine and looks at me slowly, giving me a small nod then following in step as I pull him by his hand through his house and into his bedroom.

He crawls into bed before I do, pulling the covers up around him silently and turning away from me as I stand at the door. He just lays there, completely still, not a word leaving his mouth. Curiously, I walk over to my side of the bed. When I stand there, I witness Niall doing the most common thing I’ve seen associated with him and this disorder. He seems to be a shell, nothing at all indicating his consciousness. His eyes don’t even travel up to meet mine as I stand near the side of the bed, glancing at his blank stare. I’m not sure what causes him to act this way, or even how to pull him out of it. It’s a bit scary, honestly.

I lift up the covers cautiously, watching Niall’s face the entire time to see if he reacts and glances my way. He doesn’t though, just continues staring blankly at the window behind me even though the curtains are drawn closed.

My head hits the pillow and I just look at him, hoping he'll notice me. Niall simply continues to stare just above my head. I can't imagine what he's thinking about, or if he's even thinking about anything at all.

"Hi." I say softly, hoping to stir some sort of reaction from him. This time I'm successful, and Niall glances down at me, a certain heaviness to his eyes that I can't quite put my finger on.

"Hi." He whispers, almost as if it's a secret. It's still somewhat monotone, but I can at least tell that he's paying attention to me. I instantly shift up next to him once I know I have his attention, my head resting on his chest.

His large hands are placed on my lower back within seconds, and all I can think about is making him smile on his birthday. I don't want him to be like this for the rest of the day, and I've noticed that that's usually what happens with him. Once his mood plummets, it doesn't come back for a while. I want to change that.

I tilt my head back so I can look up at his face, only to find him staring curiously down at me. I give him a soft smile before shifting up the bed a bit, and placing my face incredibly close to his. Before I know it, some sort of confidence I didn't even know I had decides to make itself known, and my lips are pressed to his.

"Hi." He repeats after I lean back out of the kiss, a messy, soft small smile on his face. It makes me so happy to see even the smallest of grins on in his features; I'll take whatever I can get.

"You're not old enough to not celebrate your birthday, Niall." I tell him softly while I still have his full attention. Most people on their twenty-fourth birthday would be out having the time of their lives. Niall's just staying at his house doing laundry with me of all people, so I can definitely think of quite a few situations far more fun than this.

"I am celebrating it, just in my own way s'all." Niall mumbles giving me a sweet and gentle smile. "I could leave G with me ma and go out with the boys, get shitfaced, and snog a random girl, but it's just not as fun as it used to be. Not even in the slightest. All I would be able to think about is G, and how I'm the only role model he's got. He hasn't got a ma to make fun of me and what I do, or to tell him that what I'm doing isn't really proper. He's gonna learn from me and my experiences, and I don't want getting absolutely pissed on my birthday to be one of them.

"When you become a parent, you enjoy different things. I enjoy watching my kid smile. I enjoy seeing him learning a game I learned when I was his age. I like watching him grow up with these experiences in his life. I'd rather watch G try to play footie in the back yard than go out to a club any day, even my birthday."

His little speech leaves me in awe. When did Niall grow up? It seems as if last week Niall was nothing more than a simple teen that loved to hang out with his friends and loved to party. Now, he's an adult that has a lot more burdens than most others I've met. He's done enough growing up in the past few years for at least ten other boys his age.

The fact that Niall grew up so fast makes me feel guilty somewhat. The main reason I ended my relationship with Niall was because he wasn't mature enough. When we dated back then, he was a nearly nineteen-year-old boy that just came into a ridiculous amount of money, and that's how he acted. By that time, I had already gone through a lot of things that just seemed too grown up for Niall to understand. He was so sweet and outgoing, and I loved him for that, but some part of me knew that until he had a little more life experience, we'd never be completely compatible. Now, here he is, returned to me just how I asked for him to be. I wished for this to happen to him, and I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that.

"I'm sorry." I whisper gently, and he looks at me instantly, his eyes fogged with complete confusion. Why wouldn't he be confused when the last thing he said to me didn't prompt that reaction?

"What for?" He asks me, gently running his fingers along the base of my spine. I don't know how to explain it to him without hurting his feelings further. I don't want to tell him that the reason I ended things with him is because he was too immature. He thinks I just wasn't ready for that kind of commitment along with my disorders, when truthfully, I wanted someone more mature, someone better. Now, I don't even know what I was thinking.

"Nothing. Just want you to be happy I guess." I tell him, not completely lying. He gives me a quick smile after that, and no matter how small, I can tell that it's genuine.

"Can I at least make you a birthday cake or something? Brownies? I don’t know. You gotta have something to actually celebrate it, Ni." I tell him softly now that I've got him back to an at least decent mood. He simply shrugs at this and digs his face into my neck, curling under me almost as I play with his hair. I can feel his smile as the side of his face lays against my shoulder, his stubble rubbing up against my neck and tickling me. He groans dramatically, and lifts his head, giving me an overly theatrical pout.

"I mean I guess I would be okay with some brownies." He replies softly, an underlying joke playing into his voice. It's so nice to see him act like this: all silly and happy.

"Brownies it is, then." He gives me a smug smile after that, laying back down on the bed, stretching his arms out, then pulling up the covers around him.

"M'tired." Niall mumbles, rubbing his eyes with a dissatisfied look on his face, all of the joking tones in his voice suddenly gone. I nod at his statement, wiggling closer to him and allowing him to pull up the covers around the both of us, my head landing on his chest as my arms wrap around his waist. He leans his head against mine, and before I know it he's gone to the world. If you'd have asked me earlier this morning if he could ever fall asleep that fast, I would have told you it's impossible. Every time I think I've got Niall figured out, everything just seems to get more complicated.

I'm still not sure how Niall manages to go from smiling to a blank stare in a matter of seconds, and at this rate, it looks as if I'll never figure it out. That's not good enough, though. Niall deserves to have an amazing life. I know that this has nothing to do with me. I know that. I shouldn't be meddling in his personal life, but it just seems like everyone else has simply written him off as a lost cause, and he's not. It's not my job to make Niall better; no one can do that but himself. Maybe though, just maybe if he knows someone believes in him, that someone supports him, he'll want to get better. That's all I want: for him to want to do something more than survive and actually believe that it's possible for him to have the life he deserves.

 

 

It turns out that when you've been on tour over half a year, you don’t really have much food in your house. That's what I found out, however, when I noticed Niall had brownie mix and milk, but no eggs. Niall noticed the predicament almost instantly, as he was helping me get out the supplies and getting pans and bowls from the top shelves that I couldn't even think of reaching.

He was quick to offer to drive to a local supermarket, but since Grayson had been coughing off and on since he woke up from his nap, Niall wasn't too fond of leaving him with me in case something were to happen. I guess that’s how we all ended up going on this shopping trip, each person we pass in every isle making me nervous. I know Niall doesn't seem to be too worried about any of these people blabbing on him, he's greeted many of them by name, so I suppose I'll have to let that ease my mind. I just can't help but worry about what would happen if the media got evidence of me carrying Niall's secret son around a supermarket.

Grayson only grabs for a few things whilst shopping, Niall telling him no to everything except a bite-sized chocolate bar that ends up being promised to Grayson if he eats all of his dinner later. Grayson eventually tires of being held and wiggles in my arms until I sit him down, his little legs wobbling slightly as he tries to gain his balance, holding onto my hand tightly. I expect him to let go of my hand and run in front of me, near Niall, but he doesn't. Grayson simply continues walking with me, holding my hand and glancing around the store curiously, his little brow furrowed in focus.

"Niall!" A voice calls out, and for a second, I think we've been caught. Niall goes from staring at the section of eggs in front of him to the woman walking hastily towards us from down the isle. She's an older woman, no younger than sixty, and she's obviously distraught. Niall seems just as confused as I am when she nears us, the woman standing incredibly close to me and placing her hands on Grayson's shoulders, the toddler looking up at her with an annoyed look. I hold tighter to Grayson's hand, not having any intention of letting go.
"There was man here taking pictures. He's been kicked him out but he's still lingering out front. You might want to move the little one away from the windows." The woman puffs out, and suddenly her odd stance makes sense. If someone were to take a picture down the aisle, Grayson would be completely hidden from view, blocked by this woman that seems to have saved the day.

"I appreciate it Mrs. Whelan." Niall says instantly, a gentle smile on his face. It surprises me that even with the sheer number of people that know about Niall's situation, it still hasn't gotten out to the media. Then again, Niall grew up in this tiny town. He's probably been shopping in this store since he could walk, and he might have even known these people longer than that.

He looks down at the basket in his hand, rummaging through it and checking over every item.

"I think I've got everything we need," he pauses, looking up at me, "wanna go ahead and take G to the car while I pay?" He asks me, motioning his head to the front of the store where the cash registers are located. Grayson looks up at me curiously, as if wondering where he's supposed to be going. I suppose that would be alright. I'd hate for someone to catch a picture of Niall and I, or even worse, Niall and Grayson.

"Sure." I say, taking Grayson's hand and starting to lead him to the back of the store when Niall gives me a nod. Mrs. Whelan walks with us, standing behind Grayson until we're both out of the line of sight from any of the windows. Niall managed to park in the employee parking lot in the back of the grocery store, conveniently hidden from view by a large wooden fence, so we won't have to worry about dodging and pictures while getting in the car

Niall is incredibly fast paying for the food. It seems like by the time I have Grayson lifted up into his car seat, Niall's standing right there, offering to take over. It takes about a total of fifteen minutes for Mrs. Whelan to give us the all-clear to go. It seems as if the photographer realized he wouldn't be getting any photos of Niall from this location. Despite the situation, Niall still seems to be in a good mood when we get home, and continues to sit there and watch me bake the brownies, helping when he can.

When I get them out of the oven, it seems as if I must have pushed them too far one side because the whole left edge of the brownie is burnt to a crisp. Luckily, Niall's too consumed with Grayson's most recent onset of coughing to pay attention. I quickly cut of the odd, lop-sided section that is completely inedible, and instantly try to find a way to salvage these half-pieces of brownies. I know Niall's a boy; he doesn't really care what anything looks like, just what it tastes like, and I'm sure Grayson's no different, but it matters to me.

I decide on cutting the two burnt brownies into a heart shape, throwing away the evidence that I've destroyed nearly a fifth of Niall's kind-of birthday present.

"Sweet." Niall says suddenly, making me jump slightly at not noticing his appearance in the kitchen. I turn around instantly to face him, and notice he's giving me a huge smile.

"What?" I ask, his incredibly large smile having an equal effect on me.

"I hear they taste better when they're made of love." He says, grabbing one of the two heart-shaped brownies from the plate and stuffing it in his mouth in one motion. He looks up at the ceiling dramatically, groaning in satisfaction from the brownies that were apparently for Grayson.

He looks at me, a definite smile on his face. "They were right."

 

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