triggers: suicide, depression, etc.
word count: 2,637
“Remember when you first bleached your hair? Wouldn’t stop whining for days… You said that you didn’t like the way it turned out, that it was too light…” Liam laughed sadly, photo-album spread in his cross-legged lap. He wiped his eyes roughly with the back of his hand before moving it to his un-tamed locks.
He pulled at them lightly, running his fingers through them with both hands before settling with his face resting in his palms. “I told you from the beginning it looked perfectly fine, but then again, you would have looked flawless no matter what ridiculous thing you did to yourself. I told you that too. You never listened though, you would laugh your contagious laugh and tell me to shut up, because you ‘were far from perfect’… “
He raised his head and let the chilly breeze caress his face; Liam pulled his feet from their crossed position beneath him and into the sand, enjoying the cool sensation against his skin. Liam wiggled his toes as he watched the wave’s crash against the shore, the sounds of the beach the only other noise. Just his own soothing voice and the rhythmic roar of the water. But he still wished for that comforting Irish accent to join in and he waited for Niall to come strolling down the deserted beach with his signature smirk spread across his face. He waited for his best friend that he knew wasn’t coming back. Liam swatted at the tears falling down his cheeks and sucked in a shaky breath.
“When we first met I thought you were strange….” shaking fingers caressed a photo of the two of them after their very first performance on X-Factor as a group and he smiled, “to say the least. You were so carefree and loud, you laughed quite a bit, too, mostly at nothing. But yousort of grew on me, if that’s how I should word it. Actually, let’s scratch that, you became part of me. I honestly couldn’t have imagined a day without you; you lit up my whole world, just the sound of your voice… Yeah, I guess that sounds pretty corny coming from me… You’d laugh straight in my face if you heard me say it, and I guess that’s why I never actually told you. But I should have. Then you would still be here.”
He sniffed and looked at the water again, as if it would calm him down.
“You wouldn’t want me to say that, either, I know.” He whispered, looking back down to the photo and blinking slowly. “But I didn’t tell you enough, I just didn’t tell you I loved you enough, Niall. God,”
Liam paused momentarily and chuckled darkly, “I know I probably look crazy. I’m sitting here talking to a photo album for Christ’s sake, just rambling on and on. You probably think I’m stupid, don’t you? If you can actually hear me… I mean, I like to believe you’re actually listening to me, and if you are, I hope you don’t get sick of listening to me talk. I know I’m starting to get a bit tired of it myself.” He smiled lightly down at the picture, “I never did get bored if listening to you talk though, Niall. I could never be bored when I was with you.
Remember that day when we decided to lock Lou and Harry out of their own apartment?” The smile grew wide on Liam’s lips; he closed his chocolate eyes and let that day replay in his mind. This was his favorite memory, every single detail etched vividly in his mind. He loved the image of Niall’s face, beet red from laughter, pressed up against his chest because he could barely stand on his own two feet. He laughed as he recalled the way Harry shouted for minutes straight as he tried to get them to unlock the door, and how Louis pounded and pounded before finally huffing to retrieve Zayn from his room down the hall. Liam laughed again to himself at the memory of him and Niall buckling to the ground, not being able to control their giggles anymore. But that wasn’t the only reason he kept this memory so specially locked away. It was the day he realized he had fallen for his best friend. He had realized the way Niall’s sparkling blue eyes made his heart beat faster and how every time Niall smiled he just had to smile too and he realized that when Niall was around, nothing else mattered.
“I don’t know what would happen to you, one day… one day you’d be normal, you’d be your carefree and happy self. But then next-” He paused momentarily to flip to the next page of the album, revealing several pictures from their first visit to America. “The next you would just look soempty. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on, I thought you were happy with your life, with us, with what we had become. And God Niall, if you could have seen yourself that day, I was so scared…”
Niall had been just lying in his bed for hours, which usually didn’t scare or confused Liam, everyone knew that Niall just loved his sleep. But it was when he wouldn’t even leave his room to eat that Liam decided enough was enough, and that he was going to get him out of bed if it was the last thing he did.
He had to feel his way to the bed carefully, because Niall stubbornly had refused to open the thick curtains to let any sort of sunlight into the room. Liam managed his way to the windows and tugged them open, letting the room be engulfed in light. Niall had groaned from beneath a pile of pillows and blankets, but ceased to move. Liam hissed under his breath and plopped down on the bed next to the blonde bundle.
“Niall, you’ve got to get up.” He had cooed, lightly pulling pillow upon pillow away from the boy’s flushed face. Physically Niall hardly looked like himself, his bright eyes were dull and the natural rouge blush refused to reach his paled cheeks. Liam had to cover his mouth to cover the gasp that had threatened to escape the moment he laid eyes on his friend. “Jesus mate, are you okay?” He had asked, his voice genuine with worry.
“You told me you were just tired and to leave you alone.” That’s what you said. Stupid me left you alone, I just didn’t want to bug you, I thought maybe you were homesick… I just didn’t think you wanted me there. So I left. God, I shouldn’t have left.”
Liam’s face was in his hands again but he refused to let the tears flow. “I was so worried when I left you. I had called Harry to make sure he would check up on you later on that day… I’m glad he did, I don’t think I could ever thank him enough for that day.” His voice went quiet at the end of his sentence.
It had been hours since he left Nialls apartment and the sun had fully set, telling him it was getting late when his phone vibrated violently in his pocket. The screen flashed that it was Harry calling, and he had immediately known something had gone wrong, he could feel it.
“Liam! Hurry. He- Oh God. I- I went to check up on him. Holy shit he hurt himself.” Liam grew terrified as Harrys words sank in. He flew from his own apartment and down the hal, fiddling with the doorknob angrily before shoving it open.
“Harry? Niall?” Liam’s voice had sounded so much more desperate than he expected.
“Liam! In here!” He followed the voice to the bathroom.
“I was so scared when I saw you laying there in his arms. You looked so pale, so small and fragile. God and all of the blood. There was so much of it…”
Upon seeing Niall sprawled on the bathroom tiles Liam had crumpled to his knees beside him, grabbing his hand.“Did you call an ambulance!?” He shouted, taking Nialls flimsy wrist in his hand, he was relieved when he felt a shallow pulse, but he didn’t relax.
“Before I called you, I did! I don’t know where the hell they are!”
“I honestly thought the ambulance would never show up, I thought I was going to lose you right then, that night on that bathroom floor. But they finally showed up, and-” he cut himself off, laughing bitterly before he continued, “I almost didn’t let them take you from me. They tried to pull you from my arms and I just wouldn’t let you go, I just held you there, I was so scared I was about to lose you. That if I let you go I would never get to see you again.
“But they assured that they would let me ride in the ambulance with you.” He smiled, “You looked beautiful, believe it or not. You looked like an angel, not really all of the tubes they had been trying to stick in you… but you still looked absolutely perfect. Do you remember being in the hospital? “
Liam stayed by his side from the second he woke up until the second he was released. Granted the other boys were always there, offering to let him go home for a bit, but he always shot them down, refusing to leave Nialls side. Every single day Liam was there, sitting in the uncomfortable plastic chair beside the bed, or sometimes, if Niall was having a good day, curled up on the bed beside him.
He constantly reminded Niall how precious he was to him, and to their friends. Even when Niall was grumpy and refused to even look at him, Liam never ended a conversation without telling Niall how special he was.
Liam also never really mentioned that he rarely slept, how he was constantly watching over Niall, making sure he was alright. This meant that Liam would have to pretend to snooze pretty often, leaving Niall to believe he was relatively alone in his small hospital room. Liam would hear the quiet sobs from the small boy on the bed, and he would peak his eye open to see Niall gently running his fingers over his bandage clad arms. Liam had more than once pulled himself from his chair and slid beside Niall, wrapping his arms protectively over the broken boy.
“I never asked you why you did it, though. I didn’t want to find out the truth, and I guess I was just scared… So I just had to hope that you would begin to go back to normal when I showed you how much I cared about you.” He sighed heavily, flipping to another page and smiling through his sorrow.
The page was filled with a collection of pictures from nearly every flight they’ve been on, silly ones of them sleeping, goofing off, or just having a good time. “But you didn’t get better, even when they thought you did. They sent you home. Maybe if they didn’t send you home so soon…”
Each of the boys spent days upon days hovering in Nialls apartment, trying not to make it obvious they were there just to make sure that he was never alone, not that they ever really had to worry. To say that Liam hardly left during those few weeks would be an understatement, because Liam never left. He had decided immediately upon Nialls return that he would be moving in with him, Niall refused a bit, but Liam wasn’t going to have any of it. He happily took to sleeping on the couch each evening, cooking meals every night, morning, and afternoon, cleaning and trying to elevate Niall back to his cheeky self.
“At the time I couldn’t see it, Niall, I swear I really couldn’t. If I had known… If you had just told me…”
Liam had never seen the way Niall looked at him when his back was turned or noticed the way the blush crept back to his cheeks whenever he spoke. He had never seen that glint of lust and longing in the back of the cerulean ocean, he honestly had no idea his emotions were being reflected by the one he wanted the most. If he had known things would be so different.
He wouldn’t have come home from the market to a deathly quiet apartment.
He sure he wouldn’t have dropped the groceries carelessly on the floor of the kitchen.
He would never have had to frantically search the apartment for his friend, his person, his only.
He is positive he would never have screamed in terror when he entered the bathroom.
He would never have seen Niall laying there with the empty pill bottles.
He’s so so sure that he would never have had to drop to his knees with sobs coursing through his body.
He knows Niall never would have swallowed them all.
“Niall! Niall, oh God no, please wake up! Please baby, please…” Liam had sobbed, pulling Niall into his lap and letting his warm tears fall onto the immobile boys pale face. “Please. God please wake up! Please don’t leave me. ” He begged and begged and he gripped his cell-phone in his pocket, immediately dialing the emergency number, pleading for them to hurry, for them to save him.
He grasped Nialls cold hands in his own; confusion flooded him when he uncurled a small piece of paper from the unmoving fingers.
I just couldn’t do it anymore, I’m sorry Liam. I love you. I just wanted you to love me too.
“No. No. Niall please, I love you too! I fucking love you too, please. Please come back.”
A hand lightly landed on Liams shoulder and he jumped out of his thoughts, “I thought I might find you here…” The quiet voice said. He looked up to meet none other than the emerald eyes of Harry Styles.
“How?” Liam asked quietly, holding his friends gaze.
Harry chuckled softly, “You come here every year when the day comes.” Liam looked down and Harry maneuvered around the bench to seat himself beside Liam before he linked their fingers, “and you weren’t the only one who knew this was his favorite spot.”
“I just miss him so fucking much.” Liam sniffed, his voice cracking as sobs worked up his throat. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop…”
“We all miss him, Li, we all do. And nobody expects you to stop, we would never expect that.” Harry looked at him with his glassy and bright sage eyes, trying to put on a smile. “What’ve you got there?” He asked, reaching for the album that still lay on Liam’s lap.
“Oh God, this is a good one.” Harry laughed, pointing to a photo of him and Niall in their onesies. “Wow…”
Liam looked up at the sudden sadness in Harry’s voice and watched as his younger friend wiped the tears from his eyes, suddenly unable to control himself. A sad smile played at Liams lips and he pulled the boy into a hug.
“It sucks, because you know he wouldn’t want us to cry.” Liam whispered, holding him tight.
“I know. I know, I just-” Harry took a deep breath and pulled away, “why don’t we go get some Nandos? Dedicate it to our little leprechaun, yeah?” He smiled, still wiping the salty stream from his dimpled cheeks.
“ ‘Course mate.” Liam closed the album carefully tucked it under his arm, gripping Harrys hand as they began walking.
They stopped halfway up the trail before turning around, “See you next year, Niall.”