Chapter Four-We Meet Again

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Liam Payne was popular. A jock, one might say. He had friends to spare and an excessive amount of girls hanging around basically all the time. Everybody knew who he was.

Niall wasn't exactly popular. He hung around Louis, so he wasn't exactly unpopular either, but he knew if it wasn't for his best friend no one would know his name. He was too ugly, too quiet, to pitiful to be noticed. He knew his every flaw, and completely understood why everyone would hate him. But with Louis around, no one saw the need to beat him up.

So when Liam saw the blonde boy in the office with his forearms bandaged, he didn't know who the kid was. But that didn't stop his heart from breaking at the sight of the blood on the cloths.

And that was how Niall found himself standing between two people that were staring at his bandages in a mixture of shock, pity, and confusion. He mentally cursed himself, biting the inside of his lip just to feel the sensation of pain. How could he have let them find out? Sure, he loved it when people cared enough to ask. But he would deny it every time. The repercussions of this could be huge, and Niall absolutely hated himself for letting his secret slip. Not that he hadn't hated himself before, because he certainly had. But now That hatred had greatly intensinfied.

"What is it that you needed Liam?" The couch turned to a stunned Liam and spoke as though nothing had happened, as though Liam had not opened the door to see a boy who quite obviously self harmed. As though Niall simply wasn't there. And that feeling, that deep feeling of being utterly invisible, of not mattering to anyone, of not really existing pumped through Nialls veins. He bit down harder on his lip, wanting the pain to be at the forefront of his mind. But he couldnt force the skin to break, no matter how hard he bit. He let out a soft cry of frustration, feeling tears sting his eyes.

"Liam get out." The coach commanded, not very kindly. "We can talk later."

Liam, still a bit in shock and not knowing what else to do, walked out of the office, leaving his coach to deal with the blonde boy.

The coach turned to Niall. "You're off the team." He stated bluntly.

"What?" Niall wiped away his tears with his palm, confused by the icy tone his coach was using.

The coach looked like he was about to snap. "Its disgusting that you would do that to yourself Niall. You're off the team. In fact, don't even bother showing up for class. I'm not going to have some kid who pretends to cut himself playing. If you want the attention so badly, you can have it. But not here."

Niall was numb. The coach didn't believe that Niall actually cut himself. He thought Niall was only faking it, for the attention. And while the cuts were, in a way, a cry for attention, Niall hated that the coach thought he would fake something like that. He snatched his hoodie from the man, running out of the classroom with tears in his eyes.

Niall knew he couldn't face Louis like this. Louis would know something was wrong. Niall needed to channel his emotions, to control them. So he went to the only place where he vould do what he needed to do.

The school bathroom was disgusting. Grafitti stained the wall, and it wasn't sanitary in any way. Nothing like the controlled environment where he always cut so carefully. But that didn't stop him from pulling a spare razor blade from his pocket and slicing open his skin. He didn't bother giving a reason for each cut, he just kept cutting, knowing he deserved every drop of blood, every bit of pain. He let the blood flow into the sink, staining the already dirty porcelain. No one came to this bathroom. It was dirty and disgusting just like Niall. And that was one if the reasons Niall came here. Because the dank atmosphere, the stained walls and dirty floors reminded him of himself, and how horrifying he really was.

Niall didn't stop cutting until the door was pulled open. As soon as he heard it swing open, he dissolved into tears. It was the second time today he had let his guard down, let somebody see what he did to himself. It had started as a cry for attention, But Niall had grown to need that blade. And if he kept letting people see, He was going to get it taken away from him. His vision blurred and the knife slipped from his grasp, making only the slightest noise as it hit the ground. He felt himself pulled into strong arms, his own wrists stinging at the contact and making him cry even harder.

The mystery person pulled away after a mmoment, and Niall could see him properly for the first time. It was Liam Payne, The same boy who had seen Nialls bandaged wrists earlier. Now that the bandages had been torn away, He must be even more disgusted. But Liam didn't say a word. He picked up Nialls razor blade, running it under some water before pocketing it. Niall mentally cursed. He needed that blade.

Once the blade was safely tucked into his pocket, Liam set about cleaning Nialls wounds. He ran the blonde boys wrists under cool water from the sink, holding him in place in spite of his whimpers. Once he deemed the wounds clean enough, he picked up the bandages that lay discarded on the floor and wrapped Nialls wrists with a delicacy and gentleness that one wouldn't expect from a boy who spent so much of his time playing sports. Finally, after several minutes, he was done tending to the boys wounds. Niall had sunk to the ground in tears. Liam one else in front of him, lifting the boys chin so their eyes met. He whispered one word, so simple, yet so utterly complex.

"Why?" He asked, looking Niall straight in the eye as he said the word. Niall shuddered at how serious he looked.

There were so many reasons. The control He craved. The punishment he deserved. The attention He couldn't have. But there was a simpler explanation. So Niall began to rattle off the list he had made, remembering each cut.

"Because I'm fat. Because I'm ugly. Because I'm worthless. Because I'm gay. Because I'm a liar. Because I'm a cutter. Because I'm too quiet and I cry too much. Because I'm weak. Because I am selfish. Because I need to." Niall was sobbing now, fumbling around him as he struggled to stand up. But Liam placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and pulled him back to his position on the ground.

"None of that is true." Liam whispered with so much intensity it was almost scary. "You are beautiful. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise."

Niall shook his head. "No. I'm worthless. Stupid. Unnatural." He protested.

Liam pulled Niall close to his body, his heart breaking at the sight before him. He didn't even know the blonde boys name, but it pained Liam to see him like this. So broken. So weak. So exposed. And so Liam vowed right then that he would keep the boy from ever feeling like thus again. If it meant following him home and taking all his razors away, thays what Liam would do. If it meant telling someone, thays what he would do. Liam wluld do anything it took to make this boy believe he is truly beautiful.

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