I wake up a couple hours later, pressured by my bladder. I feel Louis’ soft breath on my neck. Careful not to wake him up, I cautiously move his arm from around my shoulder, and slide off the bed sheets. He stirs in his sleep, but doesn’t wake.
I pick up his t-shirt from the floor and slide it over my body before slipping my panties on.
Doing my best to stay quiet, I tip-toe out of the bedroom and head to the bathroom. The sound of my feet on the wooden floor echoes throughout the lifeless suite but I stop as I see light coming through the crack of the half-open bathroom door.
I pull a face as I hear labored breathing as well as sniffling. I push the door open softly, frowning as I pop my head through. My heart skips a beat.
“Niall?! Oh my god shit Niall!” I rush to the crying boy sitting on the floor in nothing but a shirt and boxers, next to the toilet. There’s blood all over his shirt, and his thighs a bloody mess. A razor is clenched between his fingers. “Shit, shit, shit!” I mutter, grabbing a towel and soaking it in water before pressing it to his sliced thighs. I take the razor from his hand, throwing the bloody object in the sink.
“Go away!” Niall winces, attempting to back away. “I need this alright?! I need to be alone!” he sobs, uselessly pushing my hands. “I need this,” he repeats, as if trying to convince himself.
“No you don’t!” I protest, staying beside him and letting the towel soak up his blood. “What you need is medical attention―”
“No!” he shouts before biting the back of his hand. “No. It’ll be all over the media in no time and Sophie could relapse!” he cries some more, his teary eyes looking at me pleadingly. “You can’t tell anybody! You can’t talk!”
I shake my head, looking between his lined thighs and his pleading face with disbelief.
“Then you talk. What the fuck happened to put you in such a state?!”
His face twists into a grimace and he curls into a ball.
“Niall...” I soften my tone a bit, rubbing his back slowly with my free hand. “Hey I’m not here to scold you: I’m here to help you. But I can’t do that if I don’t understand the situation...” I trail on, keeping my voice light and caring.
“Why are you even attempting to help me Anne?” he sobs. “I. Fucking. Raped. You!” he states, drawing out his words.
“Is that what it’s all about?” I frown.
“Yes... and no! I don’t know I just have these waves of sadness and everything comes crashing down at once and I lose it―”
“Shhh. Calm down,” I tell him, squeezing his arm reassuringly whilst keeping the wet towel to his thigh. I hope he’s on his meds because his emotions could overpower his mind. “One thing at a time okay? Just breathe and take your time―”
“But what if the boys and Sophie return? They’ll return from the bar soon and I don’t want them to find me like this― oh my god I’ve fucked things up again―”
“Niall breathe,” I demand. “They aren’t here right now okay? They won’t find you like this because you’ll be in bed before they get back.” I take a deep breath. “What was your trigger this time?” I ask carefully, wiping the remainants of blood. The gashes on his thighs aren’t long; they’re deep.
I nod. Figures.
“What about her?”
“I went to her earlier tonight, not long after you and Lou left,” he begins. “She'd been drinking a lot with Harry.”
I motion for him to go on, also recalling the numerous glasses and shots they'd ingested even before my departure.
“But when Harry left to go to the bathroom, she turned to me and started talking, taking my hands and hugging me,” he continues. I notice the emotion building in his tone and I grab his hand, squeezing his fingers. “She began rambling drunkenly, speaking her thoughts without any filter whatsoever. She kept saying these things repeatedly...”
“Things like what?” I enquire softly.
“She said she was terribly sorry and that she'd never wanted to harm me because she cared for me just as much as she cared for Harry, and then she just grabbed my arms,” he pauses, looking at his forearms, “and she kissed me!” he exclaims, before breaking into sobs. “She kissed me and then she pushed me away angrily, yelling at me because everything was apparently my fault!” Niall cries, digging his face in his hands. “And it is! It is my fault! Because if I’d been a man, I wouldn't have let the other boys buy her three years ago!” he states. “I mean who buys people?! That's inhuman! It's sick yet it's what I agreed to and it's what I let happen!”
“Shhh shhh,” I try to quiet the Irish boy, not wanting to wake up Louis or any other person sleeping on the floor below ours. I grab his shaking hands. “Niall everybody makes mistakes alright?” I say calmly. His teary eyes meet mine. “I'm not saying that everything you've done can be taken lightly: it can't. But what's important though is to recognise your mistakes and try to fix them,” I add softly. “This,” I motion his thighs, “won't fix anything. All it does is pain you, and no doubt it'll pain Sophie if she learns about it,” I reason.
“I'm just so lonely Anne... I crave companionship. I need it. I need to feel alive and important to someone's eyes!” he cries some more, eyebrows furrowed in helpless frustration. “You can't possibly understand!”
“I do understand,” I tell him. “More than you can possibly imagine,” I add, throat tightening at the memory of my isolated period at the orphanage. “But you need to know that you are important to many. Not only to you have a fan base, but you have four guys who'd die for you, a family who cares for you and two girls who hate to see you broken. And I'm probably forgetting several others,” I say.
“Why don't you like seeing me like this?” he sniffs. “Why aren’t you gloating, seeing your rapist destroyed and tortured?” he mocks, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “I've done so much to upset you, to scar you permanently, yet here you are, wiping the blood off my scars and consoling me”
“Niall look at me,” I ask, washing the last of his blood. His gaze finds mine after a moment of hesitation. “Does it seem like I find your distress amusing?” I enquire. He drops his gaze and I take a deep breath “Niall, I'm not sadistic. I don't find pleasure in one's misery. Ever. I've seen and lived through enough: I can make the difference between the things that really are amusing and the things that aren't. A tortured human isn't entertaining,” I declare standing up. I hold my arm out, hand waiting for his. “You need to stop beating yourself up and get a proper grip on what you want and what you believe is right.”
The blonde slides his hand into mine and I tug him up to his feet. I watch him as he washes the blood off his fingers. He stops the water, huffing.
“I don’t even―God I don’t even know where to begin! My whole life is a mess!” he complains, digging his fingers in his bleached hair. I notice they’re much darker than they used to be, the brown roots prominent.
“Start with what affects you the most,” I suggest.
“That’d be Sophie. But she’s practically a lost cause, she chose Harry.”
“That’s not written in stone. Nothing is. Either you fight for Sophie or you move on. But ultimately Niall, you create your own happiness,” I tell him. “Think about that tonight okay?” I continue, touching his shoulder. He nods, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand before looking at me.
“Thank you,” he mumbles, “for cleaning me up.”
“It’s no problem.”
He nods and bites his lip, before leaving the bathroom without another glance. I stand over the sink for a few seconds, staring at myself in the mirror. Am I even supposed to act like that? To feel sympathy for him?
Shaking my head, I finally do what I came to the bathroom for: relive my bladder. I wash my hands and shut the lights before heading back to Louis’ room. He’s half asleep, rubbing his eyes.
“What took you so long?” he croaks. I snuggle up to him.
“I found Niall crying in the bathroom,” I admit, sliding underneath the sheets with him.
“Is he alright?”
“I think he is now yeah,” I mumble, yawning and shutting my eyes. Louis’ fingers rub my shoulder softly and I scoot closer to his warm body.
“Do you think he’d be willing to help you get away too?” the British boy asks quietly. “It could make things a whole lot easier.”
“Maybe,” I sigh before falling asleep, too exhausted to have this conversation at nearly two in the morning.