I have no idea how Maci has kept awake this long. It is literally killing me, and I’ve only gone through one night - well, morning - of it. I’m running on four hours of sleep in one day, and she’s sitting here with barely three hours in three days? Something must really be messed up with her dreams.
I said I’d stay up with her, and I will. I won’t fall asleep until she does, no matter what. Plus, with that whole episode at the park… Maci needs sleep, and she needs it soon.
“Helloooo,” Louis says, snapping in my my face. “Earth to Nialler. We’ve got a soundcheck to do.”
I swat his hand away and huff. Grabbing the microphone Paul hands me, I walk to my place on the stage and run through the usual procedures.
It’s going to be a long night.
“What’s wrong, Love?” Lou asks as she straightens another lock of my hair.
“Nothing,” I say casually, but the grimace on my face gives everything away.
“Don’t lie to her, Love,” Caroline says from the couch. “She has a way of getting everything out of anyone.”
Lou chuckles. “Don’t listen to her. I’m just here to listen to what you’ll tell me.”
I sigh. “I wish I even knew,” I huff.
Lou tsks. “Relationship issues?”
My eyes widen. “Oh, no! No, that’s not it at all!”
Lou giggles. “Just checking. What is it, then?”
“I’ve been having… Nightmares lately,” I say hesitantly. “About… My father.”
Lou and Caroline gasp together. “Love, that’s horrible!” Caroline says, hurrying to pull up a chair next to me.
“And… Niall and Zayn are worried.”
“Why would they be too worried?” Lou asks curiously.
Caroline elbows her. “What she means to say, is ‘they’re just a few nightmares, why would it bother them so much’?”
“Well…” I hesitate, wondering if they’ll react as severely as Zayn and Niall had. “I… Every time a fall asleep, I have this nightmare. And I hate it. I can’t - won’t - have it. So… I’m not… I’m not sleeping.”
“Maci!” Caroline scolds, taking my hand in hers. “You’ve got to sleep! It’s horrible for your health if you don’t.”
Yep, she reacted just as Niall and Zayn had. Lou, on the other hand, nods her head. “I understand,” she says. Caroline shoots her a look that says ‘what are you talking about?’. “If I were having nightmares about something traumatic that happened to me,” Lou clarifies. “Then I wouldn’t want to sleep either. Granted, it isn’t good for your health, but I know where you’re coming from, Maci.”
Caroline shakes her head. “You can’t stay awake for the rest of your life no matter how hard you try,” she reasons.
“I know,” I reply. “I’ve worked something out for that.” I wince. “But Niall found out about it, and now he’s determined to stay up with me.”
Lou tsks and shakes her head. “I’m sorry, but you can’t let him do that. He’s got shows and promotional appearances to work on. Niall needs all the sleep that he can get.”
“I know,” I groan, rubbing my temple with my free hand. “I’ve been trying since this morning to get him to sleep, but he just won’t.” Not wanting to talk about it anymore, I bring up something different. “He got me a guitar today.”
“That’s fantastic!” Caroline squeals, squeezing my hand. “I know you love to play.”
I smile wryly. “I do love to play. A lot. Niall’s taught me so much.”
“There we are,” Lou chirps, finishing the last of my hair. She helps me stand to look in the mirror [Polyvore]
“I love it,” I tell Lou and Caroline, throwing my arms around their shoulders.
“You’re welcome,” they say together, giving me equally proud smiles.
The door to the dressing room opens and Louis, Harry, Liam, and Zayn all bounce in, full of energy and shouting about some unknown topic. Then Niall walks in -
I suck in a breath when I see his condition. He yawns loudly and rubs his eyes, straightening up when he sees me. Niall forces his eyes open and comes over to me, giving me a sloppy kiss on the cheek. He pulls away and smiles lazily.
My chest heaves. “You need sleep,” I tell him, putting a hand on either side of his face.
“So do you,” he counters, making me sigh. He’s right, but I can’t sleep.
“How long until the show?” I ask Paul as he steps in the room.
He pulls out his phone. “About an hour and a half.”
I nod. “Thanks.” I turn back to Niall, who’s zonked off. “Niall, look at me.” He lazily brings his gaze back to me. “Time for a power-nap.” I tug on his hand and bring him to the couch, pushing him to a laying position. “Now sleep.”
I turn to walk away but his hand catches my wrist. I let out a yelp as he tugs me down on top of him and wraps his arms around my waist. “Not without you.”
“Erm - Niall,” I stutter. My nose is squished against his, our lips just barely touching. “Can you let me up? I’d be careful with your nose.”
“It’s healed,” he mumbles, closing his eyes.
“Niall, let me up,” I say, pushing against his chest. His arms tighten around me and I grunt in frustration. I turn my head and give Caroline a pleading look - she’d seen the whole interaction.
She chucks a box of clothing at Niall and it hits his face lightly. This surprises him enough that I can roll outs of his embrace and get to my feet. He groans and swipes the box away, reaching out for my hand that I pull away at the last second.
“Maci,” he grumbles, but I know he won’t get up. He’s too worn out.
“Sleep,” I instruct, crossing my arms over my chest.
“No,” he says flatly, forcing his eyes open. To my surprise, he pushes himself to his feet and stumbles on the box underfoot.
I steady him as he falls into me. “Niall,” I groan. “Please, you can’t stay awake.”
“Neither can you,” he counters, crossing his arms.
“But you have to perform,” I whine, mimicking his actions.
“But I love you,” he whispers, stepping closer. “And if you suffer, I do too.”
My heart swells at his words. Even though I know he needs to sleep, I feel myself giving in. I’m too exhausted to argue with him. “Fine,” I whisper, walking into his open arms. “I love you too. And I’m not suffering,” I add.
He chuckles. “Staying awake is torture, Love.”
“Niall,” I sing-song, placing a soft kiss on his cheek.
“Watch the foundation,” Lou teases, brushing more powder over his face.
I roll my eyes and pat Niall’s shoulder. “You’re the one who didn’t want to nap. It’s time to stay awake, babe. You’ve got a show in fifteen minutes.”
Niall lets out a groan and his head rolls to the side. “I don’t know how you do it, Maci,” he grumbles. “I couldn’t stay awake as long as you - not even if my dreams were bad.”
My chest tightens and my eyes prick, remembering the whole freak-out episode earlier today. Zayn’s right - my father really is deep inside my head. I quickly blink away any remnants of tears and suck in a deep breath.
“I do what I have to,” I mumble, not to anyone in particular.
“From the moment I met you,
I knew I had to get you,
Whatever the pain,”
Liam starts Stand Up, and Harry soon follows, along with my small part. Even though I’ve got my In-Ears, the screams of the crowd mixed in with the music and my voice hurts my head. As we hit the chorus and the noise increases, my head starts to pound. My voice cracks noticeably and my face gets hot as I snag a water from a nearby stool and down it in seconds. By then, the chorus has ended and Louis’ started his verse.
“I know your heart’s been broken
But don’t you give up.
I’ll be there, yeah I know it
To fix you with love.”
I open my mouth to sing my part, but it comes out incredibly shaky. The noise starts to pound harder throughout my head, and my breath gets faster. Liam gives me a questioning look as we go into the second chorus. Then comes the bridge, where Zayn has his high part. Don’t get me wrong, his voice is great. But something about it tonight just makes my head spin.
I collapse onto the stool behind me and let out an oof! Our drummer gives me a weird look, but I shake him off. I’m fine. Just a little tired. I let out the mother of all yawns as Zayn finishes his solo. I try to squelch the yawn, but I can’t. It drags into my part and the lads look at me with expressions saying, ‘What are you doing?’. My face turns beet red and I sing the last little bit of it, rejoining the lads at the front of the stage. The song doesn’t end soon enough, and Zayn edges over to me.
“What are you doing, mate?” he whispers at me.
I shake my head. “I don’t know. Just a little tired, I guess.”
Understatement of my life.
Usually I get a kind of rush from being in front of a crowd, but I’m just not feeling it tonight. I’ve been up since 3:30 - running on about four hours of sleep - and I’m literally about to pass out. Finishing the concert seems out of the question at the moment. I look over to the side of the stage to find Maci staring at me with wide eyes. My chest pangs - I know what she’s thinking. She thinks this is her fault, and I know it isn’t. I choose to suffer. And it’s not even really a choice for me. If she suffers, I do - and I mean literally.
The beginning notes for Moments start and I groan. My energy feels like it’s been sucked out of me, and I don’t think I can do my solo. As Liam starts his, I drift over to Zayn.
“Mate,” I whisper. He looks at me expectantly. “If I don’t make it through my part, I need you to sing it for me.”
Zayn’s face drops. “You’re staying awake with her, aren’t you?”
“Well what am I supposed to do, let her suffer alone?” I hiss. “I can’t stop her, so I’ll join her. I love her, I’m not going to let her go through this alone.”
Zayn heaves a sigh as Harry starts to sing. “I’ll sing it if I need to. But we’re talking after this.” I nod gratefully and drift back to my place.
I take a shaky breath and join the lads in the chorus.
“You know I’ll be
Your life, your voice
Your reason to be
My love. My heart
Is breathing for this
Moment in time.
I’ll find the words to say
Before you leave me today.”
You can do this, Nialler. My chest constricts as I start my solo, shaking like a scared puppy.
“Shut the door.
Throw the key.
Don’t want to be reminded.
Don’t want to be seen-”
I’m cut off as my voice shakes and I stumble backward. I’m exhausted. I’ve never gone this long with this little sleep before, and it’s killing me. It’s beyond me how Maci has lasted this long - but what her father has done is horrible, and I can understand why she would have nightmares.
Relief floods through me as Zayn picks up my solo. There are a couple sounds of frustration front the girls in the front row, but I try to ignore them. I just can’t do it, not being this tired. I catch several baffled looks from Liam, Harry, and Louis, but I shake them off.
Hesitantly, I look behind stage to find Maci. I cringe when I see that her hands are clamped firmly over her mouth, her body shaking. She thinks it’s her fault. It’s not her fault. Even in the dim lighting of backstage, I can see the small tears glistening in her eyes. All I want to do is go wrap her in my arms, but I can’t. Louis’ solo starts and I’m forced to move over to where I’m supposed to, passing Harry on the way.
“What’s going on, mate?” he whispers.
“Tired,” I say weakly, then move away from him as the chorus starts. I join in, my voice wavering with exhaustion.
Halfway through, my eyes start to shut - despite the screams of the crowd and the blaring music. I force them open and do a couple jumping-jacks. A few of the girls in the front row scream, but I ignore them and move to my next place. I sneak a glance backstage again. But Maci isn’t there.
My stomach drops as Up All Night starts.