There's something about the melancholic feeling that accompanies the accomplishment of a dream. It urges within you feelings that are inexpressible, that befuddle you and render you almost useless. A sadness so poignant that it threatens to leave you muddled in the depths, but a happiness that resuscitates you and urges you to take the plunge yet again.
The accomplishment of a lifelong dream leaves you wondering what comes next. This is exactly the question the boys asked themselves as they faced their indefinite hiatus: What comes next? The melancholic agony was so overpowering that they couldn't quite come to terms with it. For they were faced, for the first time in five years, with an impending crisis: What do I make of my life now?
Five years ago they stood together before a great unknown, a dream in their hearts and an explosive passion within their souls. But what now? What is left when all is spent, when they've lost a brother along the way, and when they aren't quite sure if things will ever be the way they used to be? They stand before a great unknown once more, but this one much more terrifying, as they each faced it alone.
This fact had been tossed around some the past five months, but it wasn't until they came together for one of their penultimate writing sessions that it struck them. In fact it had struck them so hard that for once they were not locked into a studio or forced into writing something they were afraid to utter. Rather, they themselves began penning the song before they even knew what it could be.
And then they were back where it had all begun, just to end it. It seemed too perfect, too achingly fateful. They came back to their stage, to the stage they had conquered with bodies and minds that seemed all too unfamiliar now. It came full circle, and for the boys it was too much irony to bear.
"You're on in fifteen." Said a woman who was running around backstage. Liam uncharacteristically had not caught her name. Instead he plastered on a smile and nodded, far too worried about the state of his band mates to care about anything else.
He watched as Niall paced, he had been pacing since they arrived. But now it was more frantic, it was almost too reminiscent of the first time they had performed together.
"Niall, you'll make a hole in the floor if you don't stop." He said jokingly.
Niall stopped in his tracks and gave him an embarrassed smile, "Sorry, mate."
"Just let him be, will you Payno?" Louis said from his perch upon a drum case. He hadn't even wanted to be there. Not anymore. Simon had let him down, Zayn had betrayed him, the rest of the band just seemed to be irrelevant to him. He, more than any of the boys, was ready to leave this part of his life behind.
Harry looked upon them silently, also an uncharacteristic act for the one who was usually incessantly annoying everyone around him before a show. He was feeling the weight of the moment upon him. Didn't know it would end this way, doesn't know if it is really the end. Perhaps that's even worse.
Liam tried addressing all the boys at once by saying, "Lads." Only to have a still slightly flushed Niall look up at him in confusion.
They were all out of sorts. There was no way a performance could possibly be put on, that Liam knew for sure. So he reluctantly grabbed Niall by the arm, brought him over to where Louis and Harry were seated, and sat down before them.
"We have to get it together." He tried.
Still no response. Well, Louis rolled his eyes, but Liam tried not to take that into account.
"I know that the last few months we haven't really been okay. That's quite alright, we don't have to like each other all the time. But do you really want to end things this way?"
Harry sighed, a sad, I don't know what else you want from me sigh. Liam figured that was at least progress.
"Why don't we do the thing Julian made us do when we wrote Infinity?"
"What you're going to lock us in a room again and make us sing kumbaya while remembering pretty things about that fucking twat?" Louis said, in reference to the day they had spent writing their single Infinity, which was supposed to serve as the closure the boys needed to move on from Zayn's sudden departure. Although someone obviously didn't get the memo.
"No, well, kind of."
"Fuck that." Louis said, jumping up, getting ready to leave.
Harry quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. Always the anchor, no matter the weather.
"Look," Liam started, "All we each have to do is think about one thing, one thing, that we know we're going to carry with us forever because of this band."
"Crippling depression?" Louis quipped sarcastically.
Liam shook his head, "Mate, I thought we were okay. Fine, Zayn left. Okay, things got harder. But," He sighed loudly, "I thought we were better than this."
The boys looked at him solemnly, and even though he knew they didn't want him to, he continued, "We're about to go out there and sing a song about us being "The greatest team the world has ever seen", are you all sure we can do that? Because I-" And there he felt it, he felt that twinge in his chest that he had felt five months ago when they were told their hiatus had been granted. When Zayn left on that rainy night. When they lost the X-factor and thought they would never make it where they stood today. He put a hand over the left side of his chest and struggled to find the words to say that would make them snap out of whatever trance they were in. But he felt as if he would fail, just as he had with Zayn.
"You what?" Harry tried.
"I...I just want us to have one last go at this. I want us to feel what we were feeling when we wrote this fucking song. I want us to feel like we're that band that lost the X-Factor but won the world again. Because we did, didn't we? We won the whole world, we made it. We made it together."
He had their attention, so he asked them once more, "Just think about it. Why did we write this song, mates? It wasn't just for show, was it?"
They didn't meet his stare, instead they each began thinking back to their own contributions, not only to the song, but to the band. They had so much history, they couldn't just let each other go so easily, so incredibly carelessly.
Louis hated Zayn for what he had done, but really was he being any different? He had already checked out weeks ago, was ready to go the moment they announced their indefinite break. He had a baby on the way, a girlfriend who needed to see him, a family and home he yearned so desperately for. He had a whole new life he wasn't ready to face, and an old one he wanted so desperately to piece back together.
Niall was the opposite, he had sworn to himself the day he had left Mulingar to be in the X-Factor that he wouldn't come back. That he would do his best to give his parents the go at life they had never been able to give themselves or their children. That he would rise up from the ashes with his brothers by his side. But now they were leaving, and that strength and stability he had found within the comfort of their dysfunctional family was gone.
Harry as well had no yearning to go back to his native Holmes Chapel. He didn't know what he wanted. All he knew was that things were not as they were and slowly but surely he was growing mad. He was losing his sense of time and space. He didn't know where home was, didn't know if he still had one after all this time. He was losing himself, and that was the scariest of all.
And Liam, well Liam was just trying to be the unifying force he had been way back when they were just five boys from five small towns with one big dream, who were thrown into a group and grew into a family. He was their rock, he always had been. But it's hard to be a rock when you can feel cracks beginning to threaten your very core.
"Tell me." Liam tried, "Tell me you don't want to leave this all behind."
All he wanted was for them to remember, that's all he needed for them to make it out alright.