I woke up to the sound of many voices arguing. I wasn't up for getting up and investigating, so I just stayed where I was and tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.
"It's the medication that the doctors got her on!" I heard Liam shout.
"It's one sleeping pill, Liam. It's not a pill that's screwing with her head." I heard Louis scoff.
What the hell are they talking about?... Me?
"Yes it is! It calms her nerves down so she's not stressed out. It doesn't make her tired, that's just the pain kicking in..." Liam shot back.
"She just fell asleep after taking it because she was told that it would work. It's the placebo effect, she believes that it's working because she doesn't have proof that it's not." I heard Zayn sigh.
"Which is why you should not be taking advantage of her! She's in enough pain as it is, cozying up to her isn't going to solve anything." Harry spoke up.
"I'm not taking advantage of her! I spent the day with her because I wanted her to be comfortable, instead of being alone and bored." Louis shot back.
"That doesn't give you a reason to cuddle up-
"She asked me to stay with her! I wanted to be nice and do whatever she wanted, I'm sorry if that makes me the bad guy."
It was silent for a minute or two until I heard someone sigh angrily, most likely Louis.
"What about you Harry?" He asked.
"Louis, leave him be." Liam sighed.
"Harry?" Louis asked again.
"What are you on about?" I heard Harry say quietly.
"What do you think? I mean, everyone has jumped to conclusions and assumed that I'm taking advantage of Toni... What do you think?"
The way Louis spoke made it seem like he was trying to tease Harry, or poke fun.
"I don't know..." Harry muttered just loud enough for me to hear.
They must be in the living room because I wouldn't be able to hear them if they were anywhere else.
"You rolling your eyes suggests that you have an opinion so please, share it with us." Louis pushed.
"Louis, just leave him-
"No one has to ask for your permission to speak to Harry, so let me do as I please." Louis cut Zayn off quickly.
I heard multiple sighs and heard one person chuckle.
"What's so funny?" Liam asked.
"He's trying to get a rise out of me... He thinks that I have feelings for Toni, so he thinks it's fun to poke fun at me." Harry chuckled.
"I'm not poking fun at anyone, I'm just asking a simple question that asks for a simple answer." Louis said, most likely shrugging.
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Liam shouted, making me jump.
I heard someone mutter 'Jesus' under their breath, obviously just as frightened as I had been.
"You two are best mates, yeah? So why don't you stop trying to point blame and make fun of Harry." Liam scolded.
"I'm not pointing blame because there's nothing to blame anyone for! I haven't done anything but take care of someone who obviously deserves it." Louis shot back.
What's that supposed to mean? I thought.
"What do you mean by that?" Zayn asked.
"Mean by what, Zayn?" Louis sighed, sounding defeated.
"You said that Toni 'obviously deserves it'" Zayn pointed out.
"Don't you get it? She's been through so much!" Louis said a bit louder.
"That poor girl has lost both of her parents and had cancer for Christ's sake. She doesn't deserve to have to fight for herself anymore....she needs friends like us to coddle her, to be there for her, and to help her like the way everyone else deserves to be. That's all I wanted to do, help her." Louis sighed, sounding sympathetic at the mention of me.
I felt my heart tighten at his explanation, it felt nice to be cared for again. I apprecia-
Wait, NO! They only care for me because they think that I've been through so much so far. They pity me and feel like I'm a broke soul that needs mending.
On top of that, they're giving me medication that clouds my fucking judgement completely, but lieing and saying that it's to help me sleep with the pain. I mean, what the actual fuck? Like they said, I had been through a lot, but I never needed help and I sure as hell don't need it now.
With that I threw the covers off and jumped out of bed. The anger fueling my body made me space out the pain and accomplish the goal at hand. I limped slightly as I walked over to the corner of the room and grabbed my backpack. It took me a while to bend down and pick it up, but once I did I slung it over my shoulder and walked back towards the bed.
What sucked was, I couldn't really leave. My home was quite far from here, and I sure as hell wasn't asking someone for help to get me there. Being a girl that liked to blow off steam through exercise, I grabbed my sports bra and Capri black stretchy pants. I remember hearing the boys talk about a gym room that they had, so that's where I planned on going.
I had spaced out the fact that they were just in the other room so when someone knocked on my door my heart leaped in my chest.
"Toni? Are you up?" I heard Liam's voice call.
"Yeah, come on in." I said hesitantly.
The door opened slightly and Liam poked his head in through the crack to look at me quickly. Once I was in his sight he opened the door fully and walked in, Niall and Zayn behind him.
"How are you- wait, what are you doing?" Liam asked worriedly as he noticed that I was standing.
"I was feeling a bit stressed out and the only way I handle it is through exercise...so I was planning on working out." I explained as I shuffled through my bag, in search of my water bottle.
"I don't know if that's a good idea." Liam said hesitantly.
"Yeah, what if you get hurt?" Niall added, his innocence shining through. I scoffed and laughed at their worry, which put confusing looks on their faces, and grabbed what I needed.
"Why are you laughing?" Zayn asked.
"I don't need anyone's pity or worry. I've been through enough to know how to take care of myself, thank you very much." I smiled humorlessly and walked towards the bathroom.
"We aren't worried out of pity, we care about you." Liam called as I closed the door.
I did my best to change quickly, taking off my brace momentarily, and walk back out without a glance in their direction. I put my other clothes back in my bag and finally found my bottle.
"Liam, Niall, leave the room for a moment. I want to have a word with Toni...alone." He added the last part as he noticed the weird looks that the two boys were giving him. With that they walked out slowly, looking between Zayn and I before leaving an closing the door behind them.
"What is there to talk about?" I asked, avoiding his gaze- which I could practically feel burning into the side of my face.
"I know that you heard the conversation we had from in here." He states confidently.
I stopped what I was doing and hesitantly faced him.
"So...what are you getting at here?" I asked, neither confirming not denying what he said.
"Don't think that we're taking pity on you, or that we're trying to take advantage. We- I really care about you as a friend, and I don't take advantage or lie to friends." He said, taking a step towards me.
I was taken aback by the sincerity that I saw in his eyes and was lost for words as they searched mine for a reaction.
"I-um... Thanks." I stuttered, not knowing what to say.
"I know that most of them are flirts, and then there's Niall who can't keep a serious conversation, but I'll be here...whenever you need me. I don't want things to be awkward while you live here, I want you to feel welcome, and at-home." Zayn responded reassuringly.
I wanted to explain how I felt about all of this, but I just didn't know how to say it. I barely knew this boy, and here he is, opening up to me and pledging to be there for me.
"I-I just.... I don't know how I feel." I sighed and sat down on the bed.
"Yes you do, you just don't know how to explain it to me, or if you should for that matter." Zayn smiled lightly as he sat down on the other side of the bed.
I sighed deeply again as I leaned back and sat against the headboard, watching out of the corner of my eyes as Zayn copied movements.
"Am I that much of an open book that you can practically read me?" I asked, turning my head to look at him.
Zayn looked forward as he shook his head.
"I can just understand people in a way that most people can't." He shrugged.
"Well, it's not that I don't mind you asking...but why do you care?" I asked.
"Everyone deserves to be cared about, one way or another." Zayn said as his eyes met mine.
"It's just... I don't know what to feel." I said quietly.
"How about you explain how you felt earlier?" Zayn suggested.
I sighed and thought about the anger that had boiled in my veins only a few minutes ago, trying to think of how to put it into words.
"I was angry," I admitted," I felt like I was just some charity case that you guys were stuck with and I... I hated it. On top of that, I have Louis hanging out with me all morning, come to find out that he could just be playing me....I refuse to let people in for this exact reason; everyone thinks that they can change me and "bring out the good girl in me", but I'm just not... I'm not the type of person you want to mess with, and I sure as hell do not need a couple flirtatious douchebags trying to screw with my head." I felt my anger come back as I continued so I stopped, but, for once, it felt good to speak my mind.
"Though I would like to ignore you for swearing," he chuckled," I can see where you're coming from."
I laughed with him at the mention of my foul language, but I didn't bother to apologize for it.
"I have spoken this way for years, and acted just the same... I refuse to change my ways for the benefit of others." I shrugged it off and looked away from him, staring blankly at the black tv screen.
"I can respect that,"Zayn said quietly," it's just going to take some getting used to."
"Good," I nodded,"because to be my friend, you have to accept me as I will accept you."
"You see, this is why I want to help you; you're a smart and easygoing girl, you just choose not to show it." Zayn pointed out of the blue.
"Are you trying to say that I come across dumb?" I teased.
"What? No! I didn't-
"Easy Zayn, I'm not going to beat you up, I was joking.... Plus I'm crippled so I can't anyways."
We both chuckled at my joke and he noticeably relaxed.
"Am I that intimidating?" I asked after a few moments of silence.
"What do you mean?" Zayn asked, sounding confused.
I looked back at him and saw his hazel eyes studying me closely, but not in a creepy way, in a 'I'm trying to figure you out' way.
"Well, whenever I imply that you're messing with me you all get really nervous and defensive. Do I scare you guys or something?" I asked.
"You are a boxer that knocked out a man three times your size in the first two minutes of a match so... You tell me?" Zayn laughed.
"Well, it's not like I'm in the place to try and box someone...being crippled and all." I joked.
"You'll be fine soon enough," Zayn chuckled," plus you have us to help."
"Thanks." I said quietly, not really knowing what to say.
"It's not a bad thing to accept help, you know?" Zayn said after a moment of silence.
"I never said it was." I retorted.
"I know, but you always get awkward whenever someone offers help to you." Zayn pointed out.
"I've been through a lot growing up, I never had help and I never saw a need for it." I shrugged.
"Correction, you've been through too much without help... It's time that you gave it a shot." Zayn said raising his pointer finger. I chuckled at his gesture and shook my head.
"I'm a bit set in my ways to start changing now."
"But you already are changing." Zayn said matter of factly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I remember the first day we met, you were fun around Liam and Harry, but not us. I remember how Liam and Harry came home after the first day, telling us all about your personality. I didn't think highly of you, to be honest, but that's before I got to know you." He explained.
I was taken aback...but my inner conscience told me to shrug him off and go back home. I have no idea what compelled me to stay and listen, but I'm glad I did.
"You're not a bad person, Toni. You've just been so alone that you don't know how to trust anymore...that's what we're here for though." Zayn smiled, and I found myself smiling back.
"Thank you, Zayn. That means a lot coming from you." I said, genuinely happy.
"Do you still want to go and work out?" He offered.
"Of course, how could I ever decline an offer like that." I scoffed playfully, causing Zayn to laugh.
"Come on then, I've got to get ready but I'll be there with you." Zayn said as he stood and offered me a hand. As he pulled me up I felt that his words were meant to have a deeper meaning, but I pushed the thought to the back of my head.