Niall's not going to lie and say he doesn't feel the pressure, the stress from the level they're at now. Mostly, though, he's just hungry.
"Are you going to finish that?" he asks Harry, elbowing him in his side to get him to drag his eyes away from Louis for 5 seconds.
Harry looks down at the half of sandwich still on his plate, glances at Niall, and then rolls his eyes, pushing it over.
"Cheers," he mumbles, sandwich already to his mouth. Niall's just being a good friend. If their handlers saw how much food Harry wasted, they'd think something was wrong. So it's really for the best that Niall takes care of that. By eating his leftovers. All of them.
"10 minutes, boys," Paul says, poking his head into the conference room.
"We'll be ready," Liam answers for all of them, not looking away from sketch Zayn's working on. He's sitting on the arm of the chair, leaning against Zayn's shoulder.
Niall rolls his eyes then looks around to see if anyone else didn't finish their food. It doesn't look like it, so he sighs. "I'm going to the bathroom," he says to no one in particular. "If anyone cares where I might be."
"Go piss," Louis says, not breaking eye contact with Harry. They've got their hands up like they're going to high-five, inches apart, and are concentrating really hard on each other's faces.
Niall watches for a moment, tilting his head as if that'll make it any more clear.
Niall scrolls through his Twitter feed, laughing and rolling his eyes at some of his at replies. People certainly are interesting. And forward. He kind of wants to screencap some of the stuff he gets from girls now, just so he can show them to his friends at home and go "Ha!"
Of course there's the nasty stuff mixed in, but it's mainly directed at Louis, Liam, and girlfriend drama. People are arseholes.
bit tired ! great day, coulda used more food though ! x
He closes his laptop, turns out the light, and then rolls himself into a cocoon in the center of the hotel bed. There really is no better way to sleep than in a way that resembles a burrito.
Niall jumps up, automatically grabbing the object coming towards him. He looks down at it and sees that it's Zayn's compact. The one with his name engraved on it. Oh, crap.
"Fuck, Louis, I don't want any part of this," he says, but it's too late. Zayn sees it in his hand and glares daggers at him, picking up speed as he makes a bee line for him.
Niall takes off, climbing over the back of the couch and running through the door that connects their hotel rooms. Harry's by the window, texting, and Niall wants to pass the compact off so bad but also doesn't want to break it, so Harry's out; he can't catch anything thrown at him. Just when he's about to give up and take whatever beating Zayn has in store for him, Liam walks out of the bathroom, toweling off his hair and Niall nearly bursts with joy. "Liam, quick!"
Liam drops the towel, looking around, and Niall tosses the makeup case at him just in time. Zayn's glare changes targets and Niall sighs in relief, ducking out of the room.
Louis is sitting on the couch where Niall was, looking extremely pleased with himself.
"You're an arsehole," Niall says, sitting on top of him.
Louis grins, wrapping his arms around Niall's torso and maneuvering him until they're both comfortable, still on top of each other. Niall should have known better than to get this close to Louis, though, because a minute later Louis nuzzles his neck and yells, "Lovebite time!" right into his ear.
"Louis, no!" Niall whines but it's no use. Louis has a hold on him that he isn't getting out of until Louis deems it okay.
When Niall's brushing his teeth before bed that night, the ugly, dark purple bruise stands out on his pale skin underneath the florescent lights, large and proud. Niall groans, "Tomlinson."
"Buffet style?" Niall looks around at the lads. "That's what he just said, right?"
"I think so, yeah," Zayn says, more interested in the text he just got.
"Oh, happy day," Niall says, smacking a slobbery kiss to Harry's cheek.
"Ugh, Niall, gross," says Harry, wiping the spit off with his sleeve.
"Here, I'll make it better, babe," Louis says, and places a soft peck to Harry's other cheek.
"Stop kissing," Liam says, stepping between them. "We don’t have time. Louis's not even done with his hair."
Zayn looks up and laughs. "Your hair looks dumb."
"Your face looks dumb," Louis replies.
"Well your mum –"
"Nope, not doing this," Liam interrupts. "Niall, continue what you're doing. Zayn, keep texting. Louis, go fix your hair. Harry, stay out here while he does."
Niall sits down in an armchair. "I'm hungry," he says.
"We know," the four of them reply at the same time.
The only thing that Niall really doesn't like, or what makes him a little less carefree, is crowds. He loves the people, the fans, the attention, but not when he's in the middle of it, ground level. Claustrophobia is a real thing and he's got it.
Also, teenage girls are crazy. He never once thought he'd be literally terrified of girls swarming him and trying to touch him inappropriately, but he is. So terrified.
"Who's got Niall?" Niall hears Liam call out from somewhere behind him.
"I do," Zayn says by his ear, arms coming around his middle.
"I got his front," Harry says, reaching a hand back to hook a finger through one of Niall's belt loops.
"I want some of Niall, too," Louis whines, nearly causing a collision where he stops in front of Harry and moves over so he can mimic him, forming a wall with their bodies in front of Niall.
"I guess I'm not needed," Paul jokes, pulling them along.
"Less talking, more walking, Paul," Louis says, pushing him forward with a hand to his back.
Niall would be worried that Paul's going to crack and throw Louis is a rubbish bin one of these days if he didn't smile as much as he does.
The screams get louder the closer they get to the waiting van, but surrounded by the lads, he isn't as worried as he was a few minutes ago. He focuses on the smell of Zayn's cologne and Harry's shampoo and shuffles forward.
Niall likes parties. He likes drinking and dancing and enjoying life.
He especially likes it when the other boys drink and act just as ridiculous as he does usually. Except for Louis. Louis doesn't need any help on that front.
"Watch this, watch this, watch this," Louis's saying from across the room, so Niall elbows Harry to get him to take his tongue out of the girl he's sitting on's mouth. The beer pong game Niall is in the middle of fizzles out as the attention turns to Louis.
Louis climbs up on a dining room table and starts shaking his hips to the beat of the music, movements getting dirtier the longer he's up there.
Niall looks away, taking a drink from his cup. Harry's staring intently, girl forgotten, so Niall wanders into the kitchen to see Zayn pressing a cup into Liam's hand and giving him the saddest, most pleading eyes Niall's ever seen. A few seconds later, Liam's shoulders drop and he chugs whatever's in the cup, spluttering and coughing when he sets the empty cup on the counter. Zayn pats his back, but he's smiling so wide that it's apparently contagious because then Liam's smiling back and Niall shakes his head, wandering around the house some more.
He can't remember exactly whose party this is, how they're exactly allowed there without bodyguards, but it's nice. No one there is an average teenager anyway, so he's not worried about the crowds he pushes his way through. No one is starstruck or cares who he is.
He debates going outside, but then he hears the sound of Mario Kart coming from the basement and makes his way down there instead. He watches a couple races before someone's offering him a controller, and he must be drunker than he thought because he's absolute shite, but it's a blast nonetheless.
He stumbles his way upstairs an hour or so later looking for one of the lads, but he literally runs into a girl when he turns the corner, mumbling "oomph" and grabbing each other to stay standing. "Sorry, sorry," he says, looking at her.
She's really pretty, dark brown hair falling in her eyes and red lipstick a little smeared. She looks a little annoyed until their eyes meet and then she's smiling, standing up straighter. "Hi."
"Uh, hello," he says eloquently. He's really not good at talking to girls. Especially not pretty ones. He envies Harry's ability to charm any girl he meets so bad.
Luckily, this girl isn't difficult to read because next she's grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him closer, says, "You're really cute. What's your name?"
"Niall?" He doesn't know why it comes out in a question, but it does and she must like that or something because she laughs and then she's pulling him in and kissing him right on the mouth.
Niall stumbles, caught off guard but goes with it, hands gripping her hips as hers wind around his neck. Her lips taste a little waxy but her tongue is pure vodka and man, he forgot how much he likes making out.
But as usual, the universe hates him because suddenly Liam's right next to them, voice loud in his ear. "Niall?" Liam's yelling but also giggling at the same time, smile clear as day in his voice. "Niall, is that you? That can't be you. There's a girl attached to your face, mate. Did you know that?"
Niall pulls away from the girl to see Liam's face not even two inches away from his own, eyes wide and blinking. Zayn's standing behind him, laughing so hard he looks like he can't breath and is pressing his red plastic cup to his face to cool down.
"Go away, Liam," Niall says, face flaming. The girl is still standing there, though, so maybe all isn't lost.
"Niall, I've lost Louis. Which I didn't know was possible because he's so loud, you know? So loud," Liam rambles, leaning on Niall.
"Find Harry and you'll find Louis," Niall says because that’s the motto he lives by.
Liam leans in conspiratorially. "Harry went upstairs with some girl."
Niall leans in, whispers back, "Louis's probably in there, too."
Liam's eyes get even bigger and he turns to Zayn, clearly relaying the message. Zayn smirks and nods a lot until he has to follow wherever Liam's going now.
The girl is still there having watched the whole thing with an amused look on her face. She pulls Niall back in by his belt loops. "Your friends are funny. Cute accents, both of you."
"Okay, no more talking," she says and kisses him again.
"'M tired," Harry says, yawning and pressing his cheek to Niall's shoulder.
Louis reaches around Niall to pat Harry's hair gently.
"Toy Story again?" asks Zayn but he sounds far from annoyed.
"Yep!" Liam smiles, stretching out at the foot of the bed beside him.
Niall stretches his legs out between them and lets Harry and Louis tuck in closer on his sides.
My life is pretty great, Niall thinks, looking around. He's got the best mates he could ever ask for and does what he loves almost every night.
There's only one thing missing.
"Is anyone else hungry?" he asks.
"Shut up and watch the movie, Niall," Zayn says without turning around.
Well, alright then. He supposes he can wait until it's over.