Chapter 5

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Niall wasn't sure what was going on in the kitchen and he didn't really care. He was fairly certain that it was his fault and that he should go and clean it up. There was just one catch to that plan. He was stuck in the playpen.

Papa had been very clear that he was not to climb out of the playpen. If he were to get out now then he would be in trouble and that would be on top of the time he was sure to receive for whatever had happened in the kitchen.

What would be worse though? Staying in the playpen but not cleaning up the mess and having time added for that – or – leaving the playpen and cleaning up the mess but having time added for getting out of the playpen.

As he'd been debating his options Niall had curled up in a little ball atop the various pillows and blankets that were scattered around one side of the playpen. After countless nights of sleeping sitting upright on a hard stool with nothing more than a thin throw pillow to cushion his head against a corner.

Before Niall could come to any decision he passed out on a comfortable nest of pillows and blankets.

---1D---

Zayn and Louis couldn't believe their eyes when they entered the kitchen. They couldn't have been gone for more than ten minutes and yet their children had managed to get pancakes all over the table, floor and ... how did they get one on the top of the hood for the stove?

"What the hell happened here!" Zayn exclaimed as he moved further into the kitchen while Louis looked on in stunned silence.

Upon further inspection it was revealed that the pancakes were stuck in place with syrup, which did nothing but infuriate the parents further.

Instantly two boys were trying to lay blame on someone other than themselves. The catch was that Louis and Zayn were expecting the boys to try and blame the other one – instead they were both trying to blame Niall.

"It's not my fault!" Harry claimed, "It's Niall's. If he hadn't have made his booster seat all wobbly I wouldn't have fallen out of it and made my plate go flying."

"It's not my fault," Liam tried at the same time, "It's Niall's fault. He was bad and made you two leave the room which means you weren't here to catch Harry when he fell from Niall's broken booster seat."

The two parents were floored. Were these boys truly trying to blame their brother? A brother who wasn't even in the room while the mess was being made? Did the boys actually believe that they would believe such a story?

Then again – based on new information that has just recently come to light – the real question was how many times had the two boys sitting before them gotten away with a story such as this?

How many times had Louis or Zayn just believed whatever lie they were being told and blame the blond headed one? How many times had they screwed up?

Clearly enough times that Niall thought he was to blame for every little thing and for Harry and Liam to automatically blame Niall for everything and trust that it would get them out of trouble.

Well... from here on out things were going to change.

"Now listen here you two," Zayn snapped getting the attention of the two misbehaving little boys, "while I do know that you have gotten away with blaming Niall on a lot of things that you actually did in the past just know that it stops now."

"Daddy and I know that Niall had nothing to do with this mess. Even if the booster seat is wobbly it isn't Niall's fault. And even if Harry did knock over his plate on accident it would not have caused the pancakes to end up all over the counter or above the stove – around the floor and table maybe but nowhere else."

"So," Zayn took over, "Who want's to tell Papa and I what really happened in here while we took care of Niall?"

Neither boy was willing to fess up to their own misdeeds and were actually quite put out that they were not able to blame their usual scapegoat. This was new territory for the two.

At the start of all of this all three boys used to be partners in crime. They would plot and scheme together and then they would be punished together. The plotting and scheming part had been good fun, as had the actual carrying out of the deed. The punishment on the other hand... that had sucked. Being made to clean up their messes and then being made to sit in a corner, staring at a boring wall, that was awful.

At first it has just been the corner time that they inadvertently blamed Niall for their acting up. They were bored and pestering Niall always got the best reaction. Of course the result was that Niall made noise, which brought Papa and Daddy into the room immediately.

Since Niall had been the one to make noise the two boys had decided that it was Niall who should be blamed. Amazingly enough Papa and Daddy agreed. Unfortunately that led to Niall's time out stool being moved out of the room and they couldn't blame Niall when they acted up in time out anymore.

The next logical (at least to Harry and Liam) step was to see if blaming Niall got the two of them out of the big punishments. It did! Then it was to see if blaming Niall got them out of all punishments. Wondrously that worked as well. Now five years later and the two boys had gotten quite used to having someone to blame their behavior on in order to get out of punishment.

And now they were supposed to accept being punished for their own behavior? Not a chance!

---1D---

Niall was startled awake by the sound of two screeching voices that just seemed to be getting closer every second. Popping his head up he was startled to realize that he had actually been asleep. How long? What had awoken him?

The first question wasn't something he would get an answer to easily. There were no clocks around and even if there were Niall had no idea what time he'd fallen asleep at.

The second question however had a much more obvious answer. Harry and Liam were screaming bloody murder as they were being dragged over to their time out stools in the front hall.

Niall didn't know what was going on. He didn't understand what had Harry and Liam so upset but did know that the last time the two of them had fought this hard against a punishment they had made sure that Niall had ended up in enough trouble to earn two and a half days in time out. Would they do that again?

Startled from being awoken so abruptly out of the first real sleep he's had in who knows how long and scared about what Harry and Liam were going to do to him when he was finally being good Niall felt something inside of him finally snap.

---1D---

Zayn and Louis had forced the two little troublemakers to clean up their mess, which had taken the better part of an hour, before changing/toileting them and then dragging them to their time out stools.

"Now you two will sit here for thirty minutes and you will not make a p..." Zayn started only to be startled by a devastating wail coming from the living room.

"You stay with these two" Louis instructed, "I'll get Niall"

Zayn nodded his head as he watched Louis run from the room to see what was bothering their poor, neglected little boy.

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