Titanium

Kerrigan Brady just wanted to meet her favourite band. Not like this. Never like this.

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15. -Fourteen-

-14-

Come to London, Niall had said.

I bet he didn’t bank on how hard it would be to navigate the city on a walking stick.

Tourists and locals alike seemed to make blocking my way their favourite thing and I inwardly fumed, grateful to finally break off the main road and head for the building address Niall had texted me the day before yesterday. Despite myself, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect from this visit; no cameras, no expectations, and I had no idea what they had planned.

I’d had a bad few days last week. My moods were like a rollercoaster- one week I’d be as down as one could go, and the next I’d start to believe I was getting better. Last week had been a down week. I hadn’t had a dream in four days, I’d barely touched my diary, and I was feeling very good. Even though the press and the more unpleasant questions thrown at me had sent me into a tailspin… I had Liam and Niall, my two voices of reason, to thank for talking me through it. And I couldn’t thank Louis enough for his ‘retweet if you like Kez’ campaign that had seen me trend worldwide. Their support had given me the confidence to realise that I wouldn’t have to face these issues alone. Zayn and Harry- both of whom had dealt with hate- assured me that all five of them would defend me if I asked them to.

Bless their souls.

Ringing the doorbell, I watched the large man behind the desk wander over, eyebrows raised at me. He checked something on his phone before finally opening the door. “Sorry for the wait. Had to make sure you’re you,” he smiled, and his entire demeanour changed from intimidating to jolly.

“Get a lot of impersonators?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“Fans trying to bullshit their way in,” he corrected. “Go on up. They’ve been calling all day waiting for you.”

I rolled my eyes and petted his forearm. “I’m so sorry,” I replied sadly, and he laughed at the joke as I headed for the elevator. On the fifth floor, I stepped out into a hallway to hear a door slam open at the end of the hall. Spinning around at the sound, my heart leaping to my chest, I had all of three seconds to prepare before Louis was in front of me and pulling me into a hard hug.

“Suck shit, Niall, I got her first!” he shouted. I heard a familiar Irish accent let out a string of half-joking profanities and wriggled free of Louis to grin at Niall.

“Can I just say- sorry Tommo- but nothing beats a Horan hug.”

“Damn right,” Niall barked, muscling Louis aside to greet me properly. They fought for a moment or two as to who got to guide me into the apartment- Louis and Harry’s, the shoe rack was full of toms and a pair of shabby brown boots- and I had made it safely to the lounge before they realised I’d gone and waltzed in.

Louis shot me a wounded look and sulked as he plopped down beside Zayn. “She’s horrid today,” he remarked to the room at large. “Said my hugs weren’t as good as Horan’s.”

“They aren’t, you’re too bony,” Zayn replied nonchalantly as the room burst into howls of laughter and I took a seat beside Liam. Niall instantly claimed my other side, a fact that Harry was quick to raise his eyebrows at. Louis mocked Zayn and abruptly stood up, grinning, and headed out the door. “Lou? I was kidding, come back mate- where’s he gone?”

“Probably to tamper with your shampoo,” Liam replied, his tone flat and a little resigned as if this happened every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

Zayn shot up from the couch and sprinted for the door. “Louis! Don’t you dare!”

“You poor thing,” I said to Liam, petting his knee. “How have you kept your sanity?”

“He hasn’t,” Harry grinned. “We’ve corrupted him, haven’t we?”

Liam shrugged but winked at me and I hid my laughter, trying not to roll my eyes too obviously. “So what’s the plan for today?” I asked, wondering just why they- well, Niall- had invited me round. “And where am I staying?”

“With me,” Niall said with a small smile. “I’ve got a pretty awesome lounge-bed and…” he trailed off, looking uncomfortable as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m, well… single- not that that’s why, I mean-“

“I get it,” I interrupted, petting his knee comfortingly. “And it makes sense. I don’t mind.”

I did mind. I was hoping to be closer to Niall; I loved them all equally, of course, but there was something about Niall that had me caught up in everything he did or said. I couldn’t think straight when he was too close and though I knew this hopeless little crush would never see the light of day, I couldn’t help but feel pleased.

Zayn and Louis trailed in together, Louis looking sufficiently smug and Zayn a little irritated but not overly so; their arrival prompted the suggestion of breaking out FIFA. I agreed eagerly; even if I couldn’t play real football anymore, I could at least kick some arse in the virtual world. They had a wicked gaming system and we broke off into teams- Niall and Liam claimed my side, while Harry and Louis dragged Zayn- who was apparently very good- onto theirs.

“Right, we’ll each play against each other and the winner advances until there’s one left,” Louis explained in one breath, hardly seeming to use punctuation. “I’ll go against Liam, the rest of you fight it out,” he continued; he and Liam claimed the controllers and the game was on.

Niall and I were horrible teammates. We kept shouting instructions and encouragement at Liam, which only made it harder for him to win, and when the game was finished Louis had come out victorious at two-one. Liam glared at the both of us; but the mood in the room was far too high to be tarnished that easily.

I played Zayn next; I won, which caused a bit of a stir amongst the boys, and Zayn high-fived me. Harry and Niall had to replay their game as Harry accused Liam of bumping him, causing him to miss a goal, but it didn’t matter because Niall won anyway. We switched to penalty mode and Louis, Niall and I took turns in trying to get as many goals as possible in two minutes; I lost horribly, and brought the teasing on my head.

Louis won, which meant he picked dinner- pizza. While we waited for the food to arrive, we set up the couches and blankets for a massive movie-watching pillow fort, which comfortably held the six of us as The Notebook- Harry’s choice, surprisingly, though he claimed it was for my sake- started to play.

Midway through, I felt myself being tugged back and leaned back; Niall wriggled behind me and smiled down as I looked up curiously; my heart raced and my stomach felt tight, but at the same time I had never been more comfortable and when he asked if I was okay in a husky whisper, I could only nod and wish that this would happen much more often. 

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