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It was Harry who spoke up first, “I think that it’s helping Niall. Before all of this started I remember Niall constantly locking himself in his room and not coming out for days if he could. If you pressed your head up to the door you could hear music going constantly but nothing else. I always worried when he did that”

“And how often did he lock himself away?” Simon asked.

“The more stressed he became the worse it was. Ever since age play though he’s been more relaxed and more social. Well… until… but then lately he’s been getting better. He still has a bit of time away from us all each day but it’s minimal – it’s not healthy for him to be secluded so much.”

Simon nodded at this, he understood that Niall only got minimal time alone because it was all Liam would allow however he agreed with Harry. Niall spending days on end alone in his room wasn’t healthy for him. “Louis? What do you think?”

“I think that Niall is an amazing actor” Louis started, knowing that needed more clarification. “Before age play I honestly thought that Niall was a happy go lucky Irishman whom nothing could upset. He was always smiling and easy going when I saw him that I thought he was always happy. But once I saw him with Liam and Zayn as their baby, them taking care of him… I still remember the first time I actually saw him smile – a real smile not one of his usual smiles. It was so genuine and I was shocked, I’d never seen him so happy.”

Simon looked over at Niall; he also had thought that nothing could ever get to Niall that the lad was constantly in a good mood. How off had he been? “Did you ever see Niall really smile before age play?”

Louis took a few minutes to think through Simon’s question. He did his best to remember as far back as he could before finally coming up with an answer, “No”

“Alright, thank you” Simon nodded, “Zayn?”

Zayn tightened his grip on Niall as he spoke, “I think it’s been wonderful for Niall. Before we started this he was dangerously unhealthy. Not only was he so skinny he could be a stick but every time he got hurt or sick he wouldn’t say anything. He’s such a good actor that the only time we ever knew there was something wrong was when Niall would pass out or someone would catch him having a near panic attack because he was being crowded too close” that had been a memorable day the first time they’d learned that Niall was claustrophobic, the lad had almost passed out he was so scared. “Once this started Niall became more open about his problems. If he wasn’t feeling well, he’d tell us. If he was scared he’d grab out hand. He was eating full meals and gaining weight, he wasn’t just skin and bones”

Zayn took a pause here, taking a breath to gather himself. He pulled Niall closer still as though afraid that this would be the last time he would get to hold his baby. “When we screwed up Niall stopped trusting us and coming to us with his problems. He wouldn’t tell us that he was sick but he did tell me that he had a stuffy nose later that day. He has asked for food and drink, he’s gaining the weight he lost back and once he has he will get to a healthy weight – I’ll see to it. He’s getting plenty of sleep, no longer going out and getting drunk or getting in, what I’m guessing was fights and coming home covered in bruises and cuts.” Zayn placed a kiss to the top of Niall’s head as he finished.

Simon took in everything Zayn was saying. He had to agree, Niall looked healthier than he had before age play started, even with the month plus that he was ignored Niall still had on more weight than he used to. Clearly that was a positive, wasn’t it? “Liam?”

Liam continued his kneading of Niall’s knee as he started to speak, “Before age play Niall hid everything. All the boys have mentioned that Niall is an amazing actor and they’re correct. Niall can hide how he’s feeling; he can make everyone around him forget their concerns. He can fool millions of people into believing that he’s an overeating, happy go lucky Irishman who loves to smile and laugh and doesn’t know anything about pain and suffering and never could. He really should be nominated for an Oscar. He’s the best conman in the world.”

Liam caught Niall’s eye at that last comment knowing that everything he’d just said was absolutely true and he could see that Niall knew it too whether he wanted to admit it or not.

“Once the age play started I watched as a few of Niall’s walls slowly started to come down. He would cling to one of us when he was nervous or scared, willing to show enough vulnerability to tell us he wanted comfort. He was willing to actually accept comfort” Liam let a small smile come across his face, “He was actually wiling to come over and sit in my lap during movie night”

“The five of you have always clung all over each other” Simon interjected, “Niall included”

Liam smirked, “Like I said Niall deserves an Oscar” at Simon’s confused look Liam elaborated, “In front of the cameras Niall would be as clingy as the rest of us so as to play off the ‘nothing ever bother’s me I’m as happy as a clam’ act. The second we were away from the media or the fans Niall would let go of us and move away, out of reach. He would sit on the floor for movies – if he bothered to join us at all. No Niall wouldn’t accept comfort of any kind before age play”

“Just look at him now though” Liam said directing everyone’s attention to the little boy sitting on Zayn’s lap clinging to the man and hiding his little face in the crook of Zayn’s neck.

Point made Liam turned back to Simon; “Niall needs this”

Simon sat for a bit, taking in everything he’d just heard. They all had very reasonable arguments for Niall to stay in age play. Simon had to admit that everything they’d said was true, sad but completely honest. The fact that he’d missed so much though bothered him. Simon really thought that he knew Niall better but apparently he’d just bought the lad’s act. Liam was right Niall did deserve that Oscar. Still there was one person he desperately wanted to hear from on the matter. “Niall. What do you think?”

OK question. What do you think Niall should say? Agree or not? Say his reasons against? What would they be? Say his fears?  Any suggestions?

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