Close the Door, Throw the Key {n.h.}

“What are you trying to say?” I ask, sitting up. “Niall, I’m trying to say,” Zayn says with a sigh. “That there’s no way to know how much longer she’s going to last. One of these times, I guarantee that she’s going to need serious medical care. And hearing what you said about her father - Niall, he’s not going to be the one to take her to a hospital. And what if you’re not there either?”

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17. SEVENTEEN.

~*Niall’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

 

    “That’s not fair, though,” Zayn whines, slapping his three remaining cards on the table.  “You’re cheating!”

 

    I roll my eyes.  “How can I cheat on a game of luck?”

 

    “I don’t know,” he huffs.  “But you are anyway.”

 

    I thump his forehead.  “Go to bed,” I tell him.  “It’s 2:30, and you’ve worked up a sweat trying to will yourself luck.”

 

    “I’m not tired,” he says, but is cut off by a yawn.

 

    “Yeah, and I’m not Irish,” I joke.  “Go to bed, we’ll probably get to the stadium in an hour anyway.”

 

    “Whatever,” Zayn shrugs, getting up.  “Your loss.”  He slips into his bunk and a few minutes later his soft snores join the others.

 

    I roll my eyes again and look over at Maci, still asleep on the couch.  I’m still trying to figure out what had happened earlier, with the whole dream thing.  Several theories are in my head, but most likely none of them are right.  My eyelids start to get heavy since there’s no one to talk to keep me up, and I decide it’s best if I sleep again for a while.

 

    Without hesitating, I stand up and walk over to Maci.  I scoop he up in my arms and carry her back to my bunk.  Setting her in first, I flick off the light, making the bus go pitch black.  I slide in next to Maci, automatically wrapping my arms around her and burying my face in her neck.

 

    “I’m so sorry you had to go through that your whole life,” I whisper.

 

    “Don’t be,” she replies softly, nearly scaring me right out of my skin.

 

    I pull her tighter against me and she sets a hand on the back of my head.  I place a soft kiss on her collar bone, feeling her return the favor on my forehead.

 

    “I love you,” I whisper.  “So much.

 

    “Thank you,” she says quietly.  “I love you too.”

 

    With this I’m satisfied and allow myself to get lost in her scent, thinking of her beautiful face as a slowly slip into unconsciousness.

 

 

---

 

 

    I wake up to a blinding light in my eye.  I try to close my eyes, but I can’t.  It takes a few seconds, but my eyes finally adjust and lo and behold, there’s Louis, holding my eye open and looking at me like I’m a zoo animal.

 

    “Louis,” I say quietly, swatting his hand away.  “Go away.  We’re trying to sleep,” hiss, gesturing to Maci.

 

    “What did I tell you about sex on this bus?” he replies, poking a finger in my face.

 

    “Not what I meant,” I say, flicking his nose and sliding the curtain shut.

 

    I turn back over close my eyes, snuggling closer to Maci.  I just start to drift off again when Louis pulls the curtain back and screams, “WAKEY WAKEY, LITTLE LEPRECHAUN!” right in my ear.

 

    I cringe and shut my eyes tight, while Maci jolts up and lets out a small scream.  Hugging her tightly, I pull her back down.  “It’s just Louis, Love.”  I turn over.  “Go away,” I growl at him.

 

    “It actually is time to get up,” Liam says over Louis’ shoulder as he passes by.  “It’s 9:30, and I want breakfast.”

 

    “Then go get breakfast,” I huff at him, again pulling the curtain shut.  “Let us sleep.”

 

    “No sex on the bus while we’re gone!” Louis calls, his voice distant.  I hear the door slam soon after and sigh.

 

    “Not what I meant,” I grumble, turning back over to Maci.

 

    She rubs her eyes and lets out a long breath.  I don’t think she’s even awake enough to have heard what Louis said.  She snuggles up against me, her face in my chest and her arms wrapped around my neck.

 

    “Good morning, Beautiful,” I mumble, kissing the top of her head.

 

    “Morning,” she replies tiredly, her voice muffled by my shirt.

 

    “Do you want anything to eat?” I ask.

 

    “Not right now,” she whispers, and soon after the sound of her soft snores fill my bunk.

 

    I play with the ends of her hair, twisting them around my fingers.  How did I get so lucky as to find a girl as perfect as Maci?  She’s everything I could ever want, and I don’t plan on losing her.  I pull back a little to watch her face.  Her eyelids flutter slightly, but she stays asleep.  I can’t believe this girl is mine.

 

    I don’t know how long I sit there, just studying her face.  Watching someone sleep?  Not as creepy as it sounds.

 

    I put my forehead against hers after a while and close my eyes, sucking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly.  I’m not that tired anymore, really.

 

    She sleeps for the next half an hour, before I hear the bus door clatter open loudly.  Maci sucks in a deep breath and her eyelids flutter open.  I softly press my lips to her forehead.

 

    “Good morning, Love,” I whisper.

 

    She gives me a loopy smile and stretches.  “Morning, Nialler,” she replies, putting her arms around my neck.

 

    “Niall, Maci!” Liam calls.  “We have food for you two!”

 

    “Coming!” Maci calls groggily.

 

    I smile softly at her and pull back the bunk’s curtain, letting in the morning light.  Rolling out of the bunk, I land on my feet and take Maci’s hand to help her down.  Harry and Louis are seated on the couch, Paul is talking to the driver, and Zayn and Liam hold what I presume to be boxes of mine and Maci’s food.  I lace my fingers through Maci’s and lead her into the main room of the bus, snagging our boxes on the way to the table.

 

    She sits across from me and we open our boxes at the same time.  Maci’s eyes light up and a huge smile grows on her face.  “How did you guys know?” she laughs, shaking her head excitedly.

 

    “Everybody loves crêpes,” Harry shrugs.

 

    I look down in my box and see two strawberry crêpes - looking like the most delicious things I’ve ever seen. [http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m5p7pcyks61rwor41o1_400.jpg]  Alongside it are two strips of bacon and a few scrambled eggs.  Up until now I hadn’t realized how hungry I really am.  Something like this must have shown on my face because Liam laughs and hands Maci and I some silverware and we dig in.

 

    I scarf it down within a few minutes and lean back in the chair.  “Yummy,” I mumble, closing my eyes and stretching.

 

    “I hope you’re filled up,” Paul says, turning back to us.  “No eating until after the show.”

 

    “Whyyyy,” I whine, sticking out my lower lip.

 

    Paul rolls his eyes.  “It’s been like that forever.  Nothing new, Niall.”

 

    I humph and Paul swats my head on his way back to the TV room.  Maci lets out a small giggle and finishes the rest of her food.  I take our empty boxes and toss them in the trash.

 

    “Soundcheck is at five,” Paul calls, pulling out a couple Wii ™ controllers and handing one to Liam and one to Zayn when they enter the room.

 

    “What am I supposed to do for seven hours?” Louis whines, shoving his face in Harry’s shoulder.  Harry pats his head lightly as Louis groans.

 

    “Come play Mario Kart © with us, Lou!” Zayn shouts.  “We’re about to get a tournament started!”

 

    “Whatever,” Louis sighs, getting up.  “I’m going to whoop your arses anyway.”

 

    “Oh, it’s one like Donkey Kong!” Liam says, an intent look on his face.

 

    “I’ve got to see this,” Harry chuckles, standing up and making his way back.

 

    I turn to Maci.  “I guess that leaves us,” I say.

 

    “I guess so,” she replies, crossing her legs.  “What do you want to do for the next seven hours?  I’m good with anything.”

 

    An idea pops into my head, and I smile.  “Go get dressed really fast.”

 

    She raises an eyebrow but complies, snagging her duffel on the way back to the bathroom.  I hop over to my suitcase and throw different shorts and a t-shirt on, despite the teasing comments made by the lads.  Maci walks out of the bathroom two minutes later wearing this [http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=69064218].

 

    “Now are you going to tell me what we’re doing?” she asks, her eyebrow raised again.

 

    I smirk.  “Have you ever been blading?”

 

 

---

 

 

    “Niall, I can’t do this,” Maci whimpers, wobbling on the thin wheels of her roller-blades.

 

    “Of course you can,” I say, helping her keep her balance.  I’m a lot steadier on my blades than she is, so I don’t have much trouble holding her up.

 

    “I’m going to fall again,” she complains, latching her arms over my shoulder.

 

    Other people in the rink skate past us easily, since we’re moving at a snail’s pace.  I wear a beanie and sun glasses even though we’re indoors to keep from getting recognized, and so far it’s working - no one has stopped us at all.  There at least one hundred people here, though, most of them girls.  This makes me a bit nervous, especially because of what happened with that one girl yesterday.

 

    “Gahh!” Maci shouts as one of her feet slides out from under her.

 

    Her hands slip from my shoulder and I try to catch her fall, but she’s all the way to the ground before I can do anything.  She’s sitting flat on her bum, her legs making a ‘V’.  I try to hold my laugh in, but it slips out and makes her stare up at me, looking annoyed.

 

    “You think this is funny?” she accuses, gesturing to herself.

 

    “Quite amusing,” I reply, standing in front of her.

 

    She lightly pounds the floor with her fists.  “Just please help me up,” she sighs, exasperated.

 

    “You’ll get it,” I promise, taking her hands and hoisting her up.

 

    “It’s already been an hour, and I’ve made absolutely no progress.”  She holds tightly onto my right hand, gripping my bicep with her other.  “I told you I’d be horrible at it, and I meant it.”

 

    “Rubbish!” I shout, attracting the attention of a few people close by.  I quickly look down to avoid any unwanted stares.  “You’ll get it,” I say much quieter.  “I know you can.”

 

    “I’d be surprised if I ever got to the point where I could let go of you,” she breathes.

 

    “I wouldn’t mind if you never let go,” I say with a smile.

 

    Maci looks up and gives me the most adorable smile ever, squeezing my hand.  I place a quick kiss on her lips before pulling away from her completely.

 

    “Niall!” she panics, her arms waving helplessly away from her body.

 

    “You can do it!” I chuckle, skating in circles around her.  “Have you ever walked in your kitchen with slippery socks on?”

 

    “No,” she says quickly, bending over abruptly to keep herself from falling backward.

 

    I roll my eyes.  “Well you’ve just got to slide into your step.  Observe,” I say in a posh accent.

 

    I take off around the rink - ignoring her yelp of protest - and finish the lap we hadn’t even done in an hour.  It’s a big rink, but it still shouldn’t take more than maybe five minutes at most to get around.  I laugh lightly.  At least she’s trying.  This activity is proving more entertaining than most I’ve ever taken part in.

 

    Circling back around to meet Maci - who had only moved maybe five inches - I see that she is studying the way my feet are moving.  I slow to a stop beside her with a smirk.

 

    “Ready to try it now?” I ask, taking ahold of her hand before she has a chance to answer.

 

    “No Ni- Oh God!” she exclaims as I tug her along.

 

    Her feet struggle to keep themselves under her and she has a death grip on my hand.  She lets out a small shriek as she tips backward slightly, but I pull her along more and she rights herself.  We get about twenty feet from where we started and I can feel her start to naturally balance her body.

 

    “See?” I say, looking at her.  “Not as hard as you make it out to be.”

 

    “I guess…” she trails off, watching her feet below her.

 

    It’s silent for the next five minutes.  Maci concentrates hard on keeping her feet in line, copying my movements nearly perfectly.  After a little, she starts to loosen her grip on my hand and skate more on her own.

 

    “You’ve got it!” I say enthusiastically, letting go of her hand and throwing my arms up in achievement.

 

    “Nope!” she says quickly, pulling my arm back down and resuming her grip on my hand.  “Not ready to go on my own just yet,” she says with a wink.

 

    I smile down at her and we continue skating hand in hand for at least the next hour or so.  By then Maci can keep her balance on her own and we make it around the rink in about two minutes.  Just for the sake of showing off, I start doing tricks for her.  She groans as I start skating backward.

 

    “First of all,” she complains.  “That’s showing off to rookies.  Second, you’re going to hurt yourself!”

 

    I wave her off, falling back beside her and skating normally again.  “I’m an experienced skater,” I brag, puffing out my chest and holding my head high.

 

    She laughs and takes my hand.  “And a show off,” she says quietly up at me.

 

    “But I’m a cute show off,” I say as I lean in and quickly peck her lips.

 

    “Very,” she agrees with that adorable smile of hers.

 

    “Ugghnnn!” I groan as something slams into me from behind, wiping my smile off of my face.  I clamber to the floor, seeing my beanie and sunglasses take a spill too.

 

    “Ohmigawd!” a girl squeaks, turning around.  “I’m so sorry, I was skating backward and I didn’t mean-”  The girl immediately stops as I turn around and pick myself off of the ground.

 

    “Y-you’re - you’re Niall Horan!” she squeals loudly, a crazed grin on her face.

 

    My eyes go wide as I realize that she recognizes me.  Maci and I exchange a glance she mouths ‘let’s go’.  But it’s too late - several girls have already stopped, looking at us like we’re under a microscope.  Pretty soon most of the people on the rink are stopping and staring with either open mouths or giant grins.

 

    You know that scene in Finding Nemo where Marlin and Dori are talking to the pelican and Marlin is trying to get away because he thinks he’s going to be eaten by the pelican?  Then he hops out onto a section of the dock with all the ‘mine’ birds and they just stare blankly at him and it gets really awkward?

 

    Yeah, that’s what this feels like.

 

    And then the part right after that where all the sudden the birds just start screaming ‘mine’ and flock after them like no other?

 

    Yeah, that’s what this is like.

 

    As soon as I start coasting for the exit, the silence is broken by ear-piercing screams.  Then the girls start making a break for me as fast as they can.  I’ve barely just nudged Maci and I out of the gate before the mess of girls hits against the barrier of the rink.  Thank God they have to slow down to get through the small gate to exit the rink.

 

    Maci and I throw off our skates and toss them to the understanding man behind the counter.  We don’t even bother with our shoes before bolting out the door and into the busy streets of Louisville.  I tug on my beanie and sunglasses before sprinting down the block with Maci.

 

 

---

 

 

    Our breathing heavy, Maci and I dive into a cab we manage to hail.  I quickly tell him the address of the concert hall and he peels away from the curb, leaving a couple dozen girls behind.

 

    “I don’t,” I say between breaths.   “Know why…  I thought that…  Blading in public…  Was a good idea.”

 

    Maci laughs breathlessly and nods her head.  “I don’t…  Mind too much.”  She looks down at her feet.  “We left…  Our shoes, though.”

 

    I look down at my feet as well, only covered by thin socks.  It’s quiet for a moment as she does the same.  We look up at each other at the same time then, and burst out laughing.  We’re still trying to catch our breath, so I’m assuming we kind of look like suffocating seals, clapping our hands together and making strangled noises as we clutch our stomachs and gasp for air.  Judging from the look the cab driver gives us in the mirror, we must be a pretty amusing sight.

 

    It takes a while for us to finally calm down and Maci sprawls out across the seats, laying her head in my lap.  She closes her eyes and breathes in deeply as I stroke her hair.

 

    “That was fun,” she sighs, taking her hand in mine and tracing circles on it with her thumb.

 

    “The mob and everything?”

 

    She giggles.  “The mob and everything.”

 

 

 

~*Maci’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

    I collapse on the empty couch when Niall and I burst through the tour bus door.  The other boys’ shouts carry throughout the bus, the words all a jumbled mess - something about Donkey Kong and eating Harry’s bananas.  I’m seriously tired - I could use a nap.

 

    “Oh, come on now,” Niall teases, flicking my nose.  “Make room.”

 

    I roll my eyes and sit up, hugging my knees.  As soon as Niall sits down, I lean back and rest my head in his lap.  He automatically starts playing with my hair, making me increasingly more tired.

 

    “What time is it?” I mumble, closing my eyes.

 

    “Time for you to get a watch,” Louis says, walking past the couch and opening the small fridge’s door.  He digs around for a few seconds before selecting a Pepsi can and walking back to the back room.

 

    “It’s one o’clock,” Niall says, checking his phone.

 

    “Mmm.”

 

    “Don’t worry, you can doze if you want,” he says, shifting so I’m leaning against his chest and his arms are around my waist.  “We have to be at soundcheck at five, and we’re parked just outside the concert hall.”

 

    I nod and relax into him.  Before I know it, I’m drifting off into sleep.

 

 

---

 

 

 

 

 

    I wake up to the feeling of someone’s lips on mine.  I’m startled at first, but when I open my eyes I’m greeted by Niall’s handsome face, and I happily kiss him back.  He pulls away smiling, taking my hand in his.  I notice we’re still in the same position that I fell asleep in.

 

    “Time to get up, Love,” Niall says soothingly.

 

    I stretch out slowly and suck in a deep breath.  Niall places another quick kiss on my lips before I get up.

 

    “I’m going to change quickly,” I tell him, dashing over to my duffel and into the bathroom.  I come out wearing this [http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=69065982] and he smiles.

 

    “Ready to go?” he asks, holding out his arm.

 

    I take it and he leads out of the bus and into the evening air.  The walk to the concert hall entrance is short - maybe fifty feet?  It’s really convenient.  We follow Paul and the boys into their dressing room,  where Lou and Caroline are waiting.  They immediately wave the boys off.

 

    “We’ll take care of them after sound check,” Lou states.  Paul nods and starts to usher the boys out of the room.

 

    “I’ll be back in a bit,” Niall says quietly, pecking my lips.  “I love you.”

 

    I give him a smile.  “I love you too.”

 

    With that he squeezes my hand once and walks out the door with the rest of the boys.  I walk over and take a seat on the couch, not wanting to interrupt Lou’s and Caroline conversation.  Letting my mind wander, I look around the room.  Clothing racks line the far wall, boxes of different brands and styles of shoes sitting below them; several counters and mirrors line the wall nearest me, and makeup clutters the counters.  Several different hair products are spread out across a small table next to one of five chairs, along with a blow dryer and several different sized combs.

 

    “Maci?” Caroline’s voice pulls me out of my thoughts.

 

    “Yes?” I ask, turning myself to face her.

 

    “Time to put your outfit on.”

 

    I furrow my eyebrows.  “But I’m not performing,” I say.

 

    Caroline chuckles and rolls her eyes.  “That doesn’t mean you can’t look nice!  Plus,” she adds, “it’s kind of nice to get to dress a girl up for once, and not five unwilling boys.”

 

    I give her a small smile.  “You don’t have to let me borrow any outfits,” I say.

 

    Caroline shakes her head.  “I’m not letting you borrow them.  You’re keeping them.”

 

    My eyes widen and both Lou and Caroline chuckle.  “I can’t ask you for that,” I say quickly, fidgeting a little.

 

    “You don’t have to ask for it,” Lou replies, walking over.  She takes both of my hands and pulls me to my feet.

 

    “Consider it our ‘Welcome to the One Direction Crew’ gift,” Caroline says as she picks up a bag and walks over.

 

    I shake my head.  “You really don’t have to.”

 

    “We want to,” they reply together.

 

    I sigh, reluctantly taking the bag.  “Thank you,” I tell them, walking over to the bathroom and closing the door.

 

    I wish people wouldn’t feel obligated to do anything for me.  Do they not understand that just letting me be here is enough?  I let out another sigh as I start to undo the belt on my shorts.  I do admit though, I’m curious to see what Caroline has picked out for me.

 

    I take a peek in the bag and smile.  The outfit mixes my favorite colors.  I quickly undress the rest of myself and tug on the outfit.  It’s quite comfortable, and I do love the shoes.  I turn to admire the outfit in the mirror, and smile to myself as I read the shirt.  The whole thing is just really cute.  [http://www.polyvore.com/untitled/set?id=66811543]

 

    I step out of the bathroom and find wide grins plastered to their faces.  “What do you think?” Caroline asks, clasping her hands together.

 

    “It’s really cute,” I reply.

 

    “Well, you are too,” Lou replies.  “So it fits perfectly.”

 

    My cheeks get hot and I look down at my feet.  “I do really love those shorts!” Caroline muses.  “And that shirt - Niall will like it.”

 

    My cheeks burn warmer and I continue to stare at my feet.  There’s some scuffling, but I don’t look up until Lou calls my name.

 

    “Maci,” she says, and I bring my gaze to her.  “Come here, lets do your hair.”

 

    “Oh,” I say, bringing my hands up to tighten my ponytail.  That’s alright, you don’t ha-”

 

    “Don’t give me that,” Lou interrupts, rolling her eyes.  “I have nothing to do right now anyway, so you’re going to sit down for a few minutes to I can curl your hair.”

 

    My eyes widen and I nod my head, making my way over to her.  I plop down in the chair in front of her and she immediately undoes my ponytail, sweeping up a layer of my hair in a clip.  It’s quiet for a while as she curls my hair, Caroline on her phone and me watching in fascination at how fast and easy Lou can get a good curl.  By the time she’s pulling the iron out of the last piece of hair still left to curl on my head, the boys clamber into the room.

 

    Caroline immediately hops up, handing each of the boys a box and a pair of shoes to change into.  I stand up as Niall walks over and places a soft kiss on my lips, lingering a bit before Caroline ends up throwing Niall’s box of clothing at him.  He grunts and chuckles, giving me one last peck on the cheek before going to the middle of the room to change with the rest of the boys.

 

    “Thanks, Lou,” I say, turning to face her.

 

    “Any time,” she beams, adjusting one last part of hair on my head.  “I’d much rather be doing your hair than theirs,” she jabs a finger at the five boys in the room and I chuckle.

 

    I go to sit down on the couch, pulling my phone out to check for any messages.  Wait, why am I checking for messages?  Nearly all of my contacts are in this room, the exception being my father.  Why do I still have his number?  They answer is that I can’t bring myself to erasing it.  I had deleted my boss’s number when I quit my job.  Just put the phone away, Maci.  I listen to my head and shove the phone deep down into my pocket.

 

    By now, the boys are already dressed and making their way over to the chairs.  Lou moves quickly down the line, adding foundation here, powder there, and spraying hairspray in extreme amounts over their heads.  By the time she’s done, I think I could ramp off of Zayn’s hair with a skateboard, it’s so up and sturdy.

 

    “Showtime in five,” Paul says as he opens the door.  I can hear the muted noise of an excited crowd through the door.

 

    The boys let out a chorus of ‘okay’s and Niall walks over to snake him arm around my waist.  “I like your shirt,” he says quietly, his other arm snaking around my waist on the other side.  “Have you ever been to a concert before?” he asks, looking slightly down at me.

 

    “Nope,” I answer.  I nod my head at the door.  “I can tell they’re loud, though.”

 

    Niall chuckles.  “Very.”

 

 

---

 

 

    Half of the concert has already happened.  They boys’ costumes changes went well, but I had had to give Zayn a little help.  Now it’s the Twitter part, where fans can tweet stuff to the boys and they’ll read it out to everyone.  I lose interest quickly, most of the questions being answered with familiar answers.  One tweet has me listening in, though.

 

    “This tweet is from @AnthonyTramell42,” Harry reads.  They find him out in the audience, and Harry reads the rest of the tweet.  “Niall - I’ve seen your girlfriend.  She’s really hot.”

 

    This sets off loud laughter between the fans.  My cheeks burn as a whoop sounds from the back, and I’m pretty sure Niall is in the same state.  I look up and his fists are clenched, his eyebrows drawn together.

 

    “I like to think so,” Niall says slowly through clenched teeth.  “She’s an amazing girl.”  Niall takes a deep breath and steps back a little, allowing for Louis to push to the front of the stage.

 

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” Louis announces, pointing his finger all around the room.  “That was Niall Horan speak for, ‘Paws Off!’”

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