Chapter 8

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Niall managed to get through the rest of the day. He could feel Liam s eyes on his back basically all day, 3except for the one class He had blissfully alone. No Liam to worry, No Louis to rant excitedly, and no Harry to turn judging eye s on him. It was nice to be alone for once, nice to be free from the restraints placed on him by thise around him.

But sadly, that couldn't last. The end of the class came, then the end of the day, and Niall found himself climbing into Liams car. He hardly knew the boy, and any safety rule would imply that this was a bad idea. But Niall hardly had a choice. He wouldn't put it past Liam to make a whole scene at the school if Niall didn't give him the chance to talk in private.

The car ride was awkward and silent. Niall made a mental note to add another reason to his list. One for being awkward.

"What did you say?" Liam asked. Nialls eyes widened. He hadn't meant to say that aloud. He only hoped that Liam hadn't heard him properly, or didn't understand what He had meant. Otherwise, Liam would only worry more. And Niall knew he wasn't worth worrying about. He was just a waste of space, of money, of oxygen. He didn't need to be the cause of some one else's worry as well. It would just give him another reason to end it all.

"Its nothing Liam." Niall muttered, subtly pressing down on the scabs on his arm until one of them peeled away, providing a slight pain aling with the warm flow of blood. The feeling was almost a relief because of its familiarity.

Liam stopped the car in front of a house Niall assumed to be his. He turned in his seat to face Niall. "Look, Niall, I'm here to help. But you're gonna have to let me in. What did you say?"

Niall bit his lip. If Liam knew, it wouldn't change anything. He would either feel sorry for Niall or think it was so stupid. Leave him on the roadside without looking back. And Niall didn't want that to happen to him. He hated to admit it, but the feeling of some one knowing, and at least pretending to care, was nice. It was almost addicting, and Niall didn't want it to stop. So he made a decision. He wouldn't do anything to push Liam away. He would bask in the attention while it lasted and let Liam worry and fret. He would, for once in his life, let himself inconvenience others for his own sake. Even if it meant that he had to cut twice as deep, twice as often. He liked the attention, and however selfish that made him, He would deal with it.

So Niall decided to tell the truth.

"I said 'one for being awkward'." Niall muttered. Admitting it almost caused physical pain, and he immediately wished he had lied. But Liam had seemed so mad about the lying that Niall hadn't wanted to risk angering him further. He pressed hard on his arm, holding back tears as several scabs split. It hurt, It hurt so badly. But it didn't hurt so bad as the knowledge that he had just ruined everything that he had even imagined between him and Liam. How could he have been so foolish?

But Liam didn't push Niall out of the car, or sit in an awkward silence, or yell. He did the last thing Niall expected. He leaned over and hugged Niall tightly, Holding Nialls hands away from his arm, the split scabs still stinging with pain. Niall didn't know what To do. He had, of course, been hugged before, but mostly by Louis. And Louis' hugs weren't like Liam s hugs. They were short and quick, his arms barely wrapping around you before he was moving on to the next thing. Liam s hugs weren't lije that. There was a caring aspect to them, a slow gentleness. When he wrapped his arms around you, you disnt focus on how light his embrace was. You focused on how he held you like he would never let go, how he cradled you in his arms. How he seemed to genuinely care and not have other, more importan5 obligations. And indeed, those were the things Niall found himself noticing when Liam wrapped his arms around him.

"Its Okay Niall. We'll get through this." Liam whispered. Niall felt like this was the sort of situation He should be crying in, like that was his role to play in this scene as Louis would put it. But he refused to let the tears spill over. Liam already knew his biggest weakness, he didn't need to see just how many others there were. But his refusal to cry did not stop him from allowing Liam to hug him.

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