“When is One Direction coming back?”
The question of the century.
Niall shifts in his seat and fights back the urge to roll his eyes into the back of his head. He doesn’t want to come off the wrong way, not at all, because well- he loves the guys- but the consistent questioning of the band’s return never failed to make him feel uneasy, under appreciated even. He can feel the annoyance bubble within him, but he chooses to hide it with a smile.
“We don’t know yet. All of the boys- me included- we’re pretty much doing our own thing, if you can’t tell.” He says, trying to keep his tone light and nonchalant although he is sure the fans will see right through him. “We’ll come back once we’re ready. We’re all just enjoying ourselves- it’ll be epic though, once (if, he thinks) we come back. Everybody will have learned different things and will contribute something different.” Despite the annoyance laced in his voice he knows he means it. He is excited, thrilled even. If the day was to ever come he knew they would blow everybody away.
As he takes a sip of his drink, he watches the interviewer nod before hesitantly asking, “What about Zayn? Is he coming back?”
Before he can stop himself he feels the water going down his throat come back up, making him cough. He covers his mouth quickly, hoping not to spill any water or embarrass himself any further. He can feel the interviewer’s eyes on him, laced with concern and worry, only making him feel even more embarrassed.
“Sorry, sorry.” He coughs, covering his mouth, praying that his breathing would regulate enough. Asphyxiation is not the way he wants to die.
The girl watches him, now more inclined. Niall knows its her job to probe him with questions, but he thought the topic of Zayn was blacklisted.
“Went down the wrong way-“ He says, letting out a chuckle before clearing his throat. ”what about Zayn?” He questions, the name itself leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. He hadn’t mentioned him in ages. He knew Liam had mentioned Zayn a few times, maybe Louis- but not him. He never talked about Zayn, why would he?
The interviewer clearly pauses eyeing Niall carefully, Niall is pretty sure she isn’t dumb. She knows it’s a topic that Niall doesn’t want to talk about. Alas, she continues. “We’ve seen on twitter, many fans and update accounts are saying he’s coming back to the band?”
“Oh, coming back?” He asks, brows furrowed in confusion before nervously laughing and scratching the back of his head. “No, no. As far as I know he isn’t coming back to one direction.”
The rest of the interview runs smoothly. Niall regains his composure and is able to drink down the water without choking, although he does feel a bit of the burn- reminding himself of his near death experience (although some would say he was just being dramatic).
As soon as the radio interview finishes, Niall gets in the back of his car, rubbing the temples of his eyes as he tries to relinquish the memory that would forever be embedded in his brain. He had really choked on water after being asked about Zayn, god.
Falling on a live TV broadcast, smashing his face with a basketball, and now- this, a part of him wondered what would be next in his list of embarrassing moments?
Rethinking the entire situation made him laugh though because the cause of the entire debacle was ridiculous because Zayn- he wasn’t coming back to One Direction. If he were, the boys would tell him about it, right?
Before he knows it his hand is fishing his pocket, looking for his phone to call Louis. He needs the reassurance that Zayn truly is out of his life. He lets the phone ring, silently waiting for Louis to pick up. He chuckles once he hears another familiar voice though.
“Hey Lotts, is Louis busy?” He quickly asks, a small smile appearing on his face. He missed the Tomlinson family and reminds himself to visit them soon.
From the softness of her voice, it appears that she misses him too. “Hey, he’s outside with the twins, I’ll get them for you, okay?” Her voice is quickly followed by ruffling, Niall thinks its probably her trying to find Louis. He hears her voice loud, calling for Louis.
“Hey lad, what’s up?” Louis asks, his voice sounds confused, making Niall feel slightly bad. He really should be calling Louis more often.
“I was just- I had an interview before and the funniest thing was asked.” Niall laughs in an attempt to make it more casual, although he can feel himself fail as soon as he cringes. “They asked me if Zayn was coming back- to- you know the band.” He mumbles the last part out, realising how dumb he probably sounded. He would know if Zayn was coming back to the band-
“I don’t know, I don’t know Ni,” Louis mumbles; it comes out loud and clear though, and Niall feels like he’s about to puke.
“You’ve got to be kidding me Louis, you can’t be serious.” Niall knows he sounds more upset than he wants to but he’s too shocked and angry to really care. “Have management said anything to you?” Why haven’t they said anything to me? He thinks.
“They’ve mentioned it briefly, Zayn actually asked about it first.”
Niall’s brows raise slightly and now he really does want to laugh. “What? Excuse me? I feel like I’ve heard you wrong. He asked you? He didn’t ask me?” He can hear the hurt in his voice, cringing at how loud and obvious it was. Dawning down on him though, he realised, why would Zayn even ask him?
“Why don’t you just call him Ni? Ask him yourself? Liam and Harry talked to him the other day. It won’t hurt him to hear from you.” Hurt him? What about me? Niall thinks, but by the sounds of Louis’ voice, he probably things the same as well.
Niall doesn’t answer for a while, lets his breathing be the only thing going through the line. He is grateful that Louis knows not to push. After a few seconds regaining his thoughts Niall finally decides to speak, “Fine. Just- send me his number.” He says as his hand roughly runs through his own hair.
He can practically hear Louis’ face light up which cues the roll of his own eyes. “Yeah, thanks Lou.” He mumbles, quickly changing the topic and asking about Ernest and Doris. They call for a while more, Niall only cutting the call short once the car pulls up into his driveway. He says goodbye to Louis before hanging up and thanking the driver as he gets out of the car.
He unlocks the door to his house and steps in, his steps being the only thing breaking through the silence of his house. He decides to drag his feet to the fridge, wanting the silence to consume him for a bit.
He opens it and looks over its contents and non surprisingly finds it empty. I should order groceries soon, he thinks.
Soon enough though he is calling his regular pizza place and orders a large pepperoni pizza with mushrooms before thanking the staff and hanging up. Just as he hangs up he sees a text coming through along with contact details.
“Zayn Malik” He muttered as he saved the number to his contacts, eyeing over the name hesitantly. He didn’t even know where Zayn was. London? Bradford? Or was he fucking off somewhere else? Its hard to imagine someone he knew all about, living a new life in which he knew literally nothing about. He stared at the empty chat room for a good while, phone above his face as he finally pushed himself to type.
‘Hello Zayn. It’s Niall.’ He stares at it for a few seconds before hitting the backspace. It’s too formal.
‘Heyyy Z, it’s Niall’ He tries again, cringing as soon as he reread it.
‘Hey Z, it’s Niall’ He ends up sending, ‘Can we talk?’ He follows up quickly after, he is thinking about what he’s about to type next, but before he can even type a word down Zayn’s name is already flashing on the screen.
“Hey Ni, haven’t heard from you in a while,” And his voice is loud- loud and clear- its so different from what he remembered- but it somehow sounded the same- it was like a piece of home.
“Yeah, yeah. I know,” He mumbles, the guilt sinking in. “Sorry- I’ve just been really busy,” he says despite both of them being well aware as to why they hadn’t been able to talk.
“I heard you wanted to come back?” He asks, trying not wince when he realised how hopeful it sounded.
“Come back?” Zayn retorts, confused, which causes Niall to be slightly taken aback.
“I thought you- thought you talked to modest about it- and Louis told me you talked to them about it and-“
“I called modest about it because they apparently sent a contract for after the hiatus. I didn’t want it- and I told the boys I didn’t want to either, I tried calling you too- listen Ni- I think Lou just wanted us to talk- We really need to talk-” And that’s all it takes for Niall to hang up.
He clenches his jaw and turns off the call, his eyes beginning to water, because of course- Zayn doesn’t want to come back.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, because well, his heart hurts a little; or maybe a lot.
His phone is going off and he knows who it is, but somehow the sounds not bothering him. His ears are only ringing with Zayn’s voice- the soft curl of his accent sinking into his bones.
Its hard to exactly pinpoint what he’s feeling- disappointment? hurt? but he thinks it might be a bit of everything. But when is it not?
And it’s not that he needs Zayn- he doesn’t- but he can’t help the overwhelming amount of weight he feels inside his chest, dragging him down into the ground as if gravity was against him.
He knows its selfish but he only wants Zayn if things were the way they were before- and not in any other way.
He tries to breathe, but no matter how much air he feels in his lungs, he knows it isn’t enough, until its suddenly too much.
He shuts his phone and turns off his lights.