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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2. Chapter Two: The Lonely Boy

{A/N: Sorry it took so long! The next update should come a wholeeeeee lot faster! Hope you like it! And you knowww you could leave me a comment about it if you wanted to make me smileeeeee. Also, comments make me want to write more, gives me a little motivation!   -S :) x }

-Demi's Point of View-

Maybe it's the way the stagehands are rushing around, or maybe it's just the last show jitters, but I can definitely tell something is off as I step into the arena the next day. The relaxed crew that I saw yesterday is seemingly nonexistent as I look at them yelling and running throughout backstage, tripping over wires with sneakers squeaking over the smooth floor. The boys have been tucked away in a private dressing room for reasons unknown to me,  and I am stuck wandering awkwardly stage-side all by myself.

The first (of many) odd thing I notice about this show is sound check, which consisted of a few crew members and the instrumental band on stage, tapping annoyingly at the microphones and occasionally saying a few test sentences. I know for a fact that the boys are here, so why are the crew doing something formally done by the boys? The next thing I notice is that the opening act, Rixton , did not go on. I wait, and wait, but the show never starts. Thirty minutes after One Direction was set to be on stage, I catch a glimpse of Liam, nervous and sweaty as he talks to the tour coordinator. She looks extremely annoyed as Liam just shakes his head 'no' to everything she asks him.

I know I probably shouldn't follow him back to where the boys are, but I can't help my curiosity, and since no one is telling me anything, why not? I watch as Liam walks through the maze of hallways and enters a door not far from the dressing room they were in yesterday. I walk quietly across the floor, my high heels not making it very easy to be stealthy, but quiet enough not to draw attention to myself.

Before I can even think about stopping myself, I'm knocking on the door, waiting impatiently for answers that I won't get anyways. Zayn opens the door, slipping out next to me, his leather jacket accidentally brushing my shoulder, and going down the hall before Harry comes to the door, smiling warily at me. His smile lasts only seconds before a hear a few choked sobs and shuddered breaths coming from the dressing room, Harry and I both peering behind him slightly. The second he sees me look, he stands directly in my line of sight, blocking my view of the surprisingly clean dressing room.

"What’s going on?" I ask, trying to covertly peer around Harry's large build.

"Nothing, just getting ready for the show." He tells me casually, but with a nervous look in his eyes, glancing from the door to me. I move quickly to the left, getting in a small glance of the room, instantly pushing Harry out of the way and forcing myself into the room once I catch a glimpse of what's inside. Niall is sitting on the couch, shaking with tears in his eyes, with Louis kneeling on the floor next to him, rubbing his back gently and offering him something to drink.

'Niall's having a panic attack, and they're doing nothing.' Is my only thought as Niall continues to shake from the sobs racking his body, while the boys just watch. Don't they know anything? I try to think of everything I know to help Niall, but the pleading glances in his eyes leave me distracted, pulling me in and breaking my heart.

When having a panic attack, you either want no one to touch you, or you crave physical contact. The second I actually notice Louis softly touching Niall's back, talking to him in a calm and gently voice, I know what to do. Since he's not pushing Louis' hand away, he must be the type of person that just wants to be held.

 I walk towards Niall softly, wary of how sensitive he may be, and sit down next to him on the small couch. As soon as his pain-ridden eyes meet mine, I wrap my arms around his torso, letting his head fall to my shoulder. I let my fingers tangle in his soft, wavy hair, still left in it's natural state from not having been styled up yet. His sobs start to turn into a soft cry and his shaking is reduced to slight shuddering with every breath. I know he's started to calm down, but for some reason I just can't let go of him, the soft whimpering coming from him making me want to cuddle him forever and keep him from harm.

"What were you thinking? Were you just going to let him sit here like that until he stopped?" I ask the boys, Niall's head still resting on my shoulder. Niall barely has the strength to hold himself up as I rub the back of his head, still trying to comfort him. 
"How long was he like that, hmm? A half an hour? An hour? He's exhausted." I mumble angrily at them. How could they watch him in pain, and not even try to help him? It makes me think of how many times this must have happened before. How many times has Niall been shaking and crying for so long that he didn’t even have the energy to hold his own head up?

We stay in this state for nearly twenty minutes until Niall has calmed down to where his cries have turned into slight sniffles, but he still rests against me, letting me tangle my fingers in his hair and rub his head. The way he is soothed reminds me of a small child wanting nothing more than the company of another person. Zayn comes back in the room just as Niall's cries start to subside, looking annoyed and out of breath.

"They need us stage-side. We can't stall anymore." He says, shrugging off the instructions that were obviously given to him with the intent for Zayn to share the information with the rest of the boys. Louis places a gentle hand on Niall's back and starts talking to him softly.

"Hey, Ni? Think you can go on, mate?" Louis talks softly, as not to startle him. Niall lifts his head from my shoulder, nodding slightly and rubbing the leftover tears from his raw, pink cheeks. As Niall pulls away from me, we make eye contact, the color of his eyes looking like fine crystal from the contrast of his red, irritated eyes. His breath still shudders as he starts hiccupping from his recent crying. He's slow getting up; It makes me wary of just how tired he must be. Niall's exhausted himself, and now he's going out and performing for hours. I don't think he'll be able to last the whole concert.

"Niall, I think you should get some rest." I say quietly, unsure of how he may react. What we just shared was far too intimate, and I know that he probably thinks I've overstepped my boundaries, which I have. The lonely boy stares at me, and for the first time I'm sure he's seen me. When he looked at me before it was like he couldn't see me, almost as if he was staring right through me. It's like I matter to him now.

He gives me a slight shake of the head, finally grabbing the water bottle Louis has been holding out for him. I eye Louis angrily; how could he ask Niall to go on stage after that? Of course Niall's not going to sit this one out if you tell him he can go on anyways! I know for a fact that he won't be able to make it through this show, and I'll have been the one to tell the boys that after Niall passes out from exhaustion.

"I'm fine." Niall chokes out nearly inaudibly as he slowly heads towards the door. His voice is so quiet, small, that I can barely tell he's said anything. The boys follow quickly after Niall, needing to be on stage an hour ago, not now. As I walk down the hall behind the boys I can't miss the unmistakable pain in Niall's eyes. Whether it's from what he just experienced or the fact that his best friends just left him there to suffer, I don't know. I just want to hold him again, comfort him, and I can't possibly get the thought out of my head no matter how hard I try to forget it.

It comes into the back of mind as the boys perform their sixth song: how long has this been going on? When did Niall change from a bubbly, charismatic teen to this lost, lonely boy? Was it a quick change, or a process? Did the people that love him just watch helplessly as he gradually lost himself? After Niall's third unscheduled sit down on stage, I can't watch anymore. He's there physically, but his eyes are blank as if he's retreated so far inside himself that there's nothing left of him shining through to the outside.

I wander around the arena, looking for perhaps Eleanor, or the boys' families, but they're nowhere to be found. I suppose since it's the last show they wanted to watch from the crowd? Suddenly, as I round the corner I jump a bit, running into someone.

"Harry." I say through a breath, having been scared by running into him so suddenly. I laugh lightly at my reaction as he looks at me with a small smile.

"Not quite. But, you're really close." He replies, giving me a friendly smile. I suddenly realize how stupid that was of me. Harry, obviously, is on stage right now. The person standing before me is an almost identical copy, but not quite. Just two inches shorter than Harry, Hayden Styles is his identical twin. If it weren't for the rich emerald tint to Hayden's eyes and the freckles on his cheeks, I wouldn't be able to tell Hayden apart from Harry without talking to them first.

Physically they appear to be almost exactly the same person, but their personalities are quite different. From the four times I've met Hayden, I've realized he is much quieter than Harry, and very shy. Harry is more of a funny, cheeky person, where as Hayden is more friendly than he is cheeky. Hayden is the literal definition of a sweetheart, and everyone he meets just seems to fall in love with his childish impeccability. It’s no wonder he's already married even though the Styles twins are just twenty-three years old. Hayden's different than Harry in ways that would be unnoticeable if you didn't know the two personally.

"Hayden." I confirm, earning a soft smile and a nod from him. He opens his mouth to say something, but his attention is drawn to the soft tugging on his pant leg before he can speak. It draws my attention just as it draws his, noticing the tired little infant dragging his blanket on the floor, rubbing his eyes softly. Hayden runs his fingers through Grayson's curls and Grayson stares curiously at me, as if he's trying to figure out who I am even though he doesn't know me. When I smile softly at Grayson and he backs up a little, holding tighter to Hayden's leg. Hayden winces at the tight grip that Grayson has on his obviously broken leg, a black boot shown over his pant leg.

"The lads put me on baby duty." He notes, bending down to pick up Grayson, laying the small boy against his chest. Grayson closes his eyes immediately as his head hits Hayden's shoulder, letting out a soft murmur before relaxing into his blanket and Hayden's chest. I can't tell if Grayson is tired because he's just woken up, or it's time for him to be put to bed.

Hayden looks at me curiously, I suppose finally realizing that the show is still going on and I'm not watching. 
"Bored?" He asks, and starts walking -or more like wobbling- down the hall and I follow him. I give him a halfway smile and nod, knowing explaining why I've lost interest in watching the show would be more trouble than it's worth. It's an awkward atmosphere, just walking down the hallway with each other, the occasional soft murmur from Grayson bouncing off the walls. Hayden starts humming softly to Grayson, swaying him gently like he's done it a million times before. I've never seen anyone put a child to sleep as fast as Hayden just has.

"You're a natural." I tell Hayden, admiring the soft innocence Grayson has. Hayden smiles at me as if that's the best compliment he's ever received.

"I'm trying to get in some practice before I get my own." Hayden says, running another finger through Grayson's curls, as to soothe him even though he's asleep. All of the boys, including Hayden seem to have this relationship with Grayson, almost as if they’re his dads too. A small whimper leaves Grayson's small body along with one of the frailest coughs I've ever heard and Hayden instantly looks like a deer caught in headlights.
"Grayson, wake up. C'mon. Wake up, Bud." Hayden stops walking instantly, shaking the small boy softly to try to wake him. I have never seen anything quite like the relief that flashes across Hayden's face when little green and blue eyes appear. He mumbles angrily at himself before soothing Grayson once again, telling him to lay back down on his shoulder.

"Why'd you wake him?" I ask. It's extremely odd to wake a sleeping toddler during naptime.

"Its hard for him to breathe when he's asleep. 'Supposed to make sure he's got his oxygen machine." Hayden says,  turning around in the hallway and walking the other way so I follow him. This is my chance to get a little information without prying. I'm sure Hayden wouldn't mind if I asked him a few questions about Grayson and Niall. They're so mysterious it's fairly hard not to be curious.

"What's wrong with him?" I ask Hayden softly, looking at the poor sickly child. He's so small and innocent and it breaks my heart that he, of all people, is so ill. Hayden bounces Grayson a little higher in his arms so Grayson can wrap his arms around Hayden's neck.

"He was born seventeen weeks early. His lungs weren't developed and I guess they just never really caught up with him.  He's also got this weird form of asthma but I can never remember what it's called." Hayden stops talking for a moment and looks at the tiny child, making sure he hasn't fallen asleep, I suppose.

"You can tell there's a big difference between him and Jamie. They're only two months apart but Jay can do so much more before he's out of breath. S'kind of scary if you ask me. I'm always afraid that something'll happen, and I'll be the only one there." I smile sympathetically at Grayson. No child should have to be ill all the time like that. I suppose that since Hayden would tell me about Grayson, he's also tell me about Niall. It wouldn't hurt to try.

"What happened to Niall? He used to be so... different?" Hayden gives me a sad smile, dropping his head a bit and staring at the floor as he walks, wincing a bit every time he steps wrong on his bad foot.

"He left town for a while after Grayson was born. He wouldn't talk to us. Didn't even ring us to tell us he was okay. He was just so upset after Mallory died. I've never seen anything like it. I guess he just couldn't handle losing her so quickly. I can't imagine losing Karen like he's lost her." Hayden says, his face obviously upset as he thinks of the possibility of losing his wife. I knew about the death of Niall's wife; it made headlines for quite a while. I guess it just seems to me that it's more than that, that's causing his pain. We've all lost someone and he seems to be a bit more down than he should be after two years to cope. That must sound extremely insensitive, but it's the truth.

There's no doubt in my mind that Grayson is Mallory's also. His little freckles, blonde hair, and the green in his eyes are nearly a replicated version of hers. I can't imagine how hard it is for Niall to look at Grayson's smiling face every day and have to see the memory of the person he loved most in the world permanently etched into his features. It must be hard to love someone so much, and then they're just gone and all you have left is a bundle of memories that fade more and more every day.

Grayson starts to wiggle in Hayden's arms before looking up at Hayden with annoyance, obviously signaling that he does not want to be held anymore. Hayden lowers Grayson gently and he wobbles a bit from sleepiness before he catches his balance and rubs his eyes, once again dragging his pale green dinosaur blanket across the ground. 

It suddenly strikes me as odd as to why I've only heard Grayson say one word. Now that I think about it, Jamie talks near constantly, and pretty well for his age. Why doesn't Grayson talk like Jamie does if they're only two months apart?
"He doesn't talk." I say, more of a question than a statement as we keep walking around the venue, Grayson tripping over his feet a few times from trying to go as fast as us while being three times shorter. I slow down as sort of an instinct, not wanting to walk too fast for the small toddler.

"Yeah he does, he's just shy. Give him an hour or two and you'll see." Hayden says, me looking at the small child as he walks down the hall, glancing at me every once and a while. I smile softly at Grayson for the second time today, but this time he reacts differently, smiling back and reaching up to hold my hand but only succeeding in wrapping his tiny fingers around my pinky. Hayden smiles crookedly at me, giving a sweet nod towards the small boy. Maybe he's finally warming up to me?

Grayson jumps slightly and holds my hands tighter when the grotesque sound of vomiting suddenly fills the hallway. Hayden looks around for a bit before walking a bit ahead of us and turning the corner. He takes off instantly one his eyes are pointed down the hall, running despite his broken foot. I'm confused until Grayson and I reach the corner, Hayden already at the other end of the hall, his hand on Eleanor's back as she leans over a trash can.

"You're okay, El." He whispers to her, still rubbing her back softly as me and Grayson near them. 
"Can you watch him for a few minutes?" Hayden asks me quietly, and I nod. Hayden is needed elsewhere, and Grayson doesn't seem too hard to watch.

 Eleanor stops vomiting and lifts her head slightly, looking utterly exhausted. Without saying anything else, Hayden stands up then leans down and lifts Eleanor into the air and off the rough carpet, carrying her into the lounge across the hall to lay down. Grayson looks up at my with a little scared look on his face.

"Aunty El sick?" He asks me quietly, still holding my hand intently.

"No, I don't think so. I just think the baby in Aunt Eleanor's tummy is making her feel bad." I answer him.

"Baby Michael not do that. S'not nice." He tells me through a huff. I laugh slightly at his mature little stature. Hayden is right, he acts much older than he is.  Grayson rocks back and forth slowly on his feet as we wait for Hayden to return to the hall. I look at Grayson softly, admiring his innocence once again.

"Do you like dinosaurs?" I ask him quietly, kneeling down to his level so we can talk properly. He pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and nods, lifting his pale little blanket from one of the corners, showing me that the tassels that border the exterior of his blanket have dinosaurs on them, as I previously noticed.

"What your name is?" He asks me cheerily, gripping tight on his blanket. Every time I've seen the small boy he seems to be gripping tightly to the soft blanket. Every child has at least one beloved toy or belonging, and I suppose this little, pale green, dinosaur blanket is his. I smile softly at Grayson, trying not to laugh at how he seems to have gotten his question backwards.

"Demi. What's yours?" I ask, even though I already know the answer. He gives me a small dimpled grin before looking at his blanket intently. He drops it on the floor, then bends down to pick it up by a different corner. It all seems quite random to me until he points out a little stitched embroidery down the side, 'Grayson Finnegan'. The words are elegantly stitched with white, and with practiced precision. I know for a fact that Grayson cannot read, but I'm sure someone must have told him that the words on his blanket are also his name.

"You talk silly." He tells me curiously, tilting his head slightly. I'm confused as to what he means until I realize that Grayson must be talking about my accent. His accent is a thick Irish, and I suppose that's all he's heard besides the boys' accents. It strikes me as odd that he would notice such a thing at two and a half years old. He's quite intelligent for his young age.  

Hayden's voice pulls me from my thought's and I look up to see him standing next to me.

"I think I need to stay with Eleanor until the show is over and Lou can take her home." He tells me quietly and Grayson looks at him curiously. I can tell by the look on Hayden's face what he is implying: he wants me to look after Grayson until the show is over.

"I can watch him." I confirm and Hayden's face fills with gratitude. He mouths a quick thank you before walking quickly back to the lounge.

I've volunteered myself to watch a two year old for an hour with no prior experience. It couldn't be that hard…right?

Who am I kidding?..… I'm screwed.

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