Niall and Josh’s relationship is simple: Niall is a singer and Josh is a drummer. There’s chemistry the second they meet and things fall into place, just like that.
The first time they meet their band Niall's eyes are drawn to the sandy haired boy with a hat just like his. His eyes are wide with excitement and his grin grows when Niall goes over to speak to him, introducing himself because he still can't get used to the fact that the whole world seems to know his name.
The boy's name is Josh and he's a drummer. Niall doesn't fall in love but he feels his stomach jump a little in a very pleasant way and decides that he wants Josh to be his New Best Friend.
Louis and Harry tease him a bit when Niall starts spending all his free time with Josh. Zayn and Liam just smile and laugh then sneak away with their fingers linked. They don't tell Harry and Louis the things Niall blurted out one night after too many Jack Daniels and Coke - the way Josh's eyes shine or the way his laugh is music to Niall's ears or the urge Niall has to kiss Josh over and over again until they can't breathe, and so Niall doesn't tell anyone about the way they're sort of maybe definitely more than friends.
It’s nice when Niall and Josh hang out; they play football or go to the cinema or just sit in and play Call of Duty. It’s things that Niall's spent his life doing with other people but he likes doing them with Josh best.
The first time Niall kisses Josh is after a concert. They're locked up in Niall's room eating pizza and watching shite TV while the others go out and get drunk. Josh is laughing at something Niall’s said and then Niall is leaning over and pressing his lips to Josh's, sighing happily when Josh returns the kiss by slipping his tongue into Niall’s mouth.
They pull away grinning then spend the rest of the night kissing lazily and giggling quietly and it's all so cheesy but Niall really likes the way Josh's hand feels in his.
For the next month or so Niall and Josh sneak kisses whenever they can whether it be backstage behind the curtains or in a supply closet or the back of the tour bus; any moment they have alone Niall is ducking his head to draw a moan or two from Josh, smiling at the familiar hands curling round his neck and waist. They have a few close calls with Josh shoving Niall away quickly when Louis' voice sounds too near, giggling and making Niall's stomach flip.
Harry and Louis catch them making out when they walk into the room Niall’s sharing with Zayn a few weeks later. They gasp and exclaim their joy and then Niall is pushing them out the door with threats of what will happen if they don't keep their mouths shut. Liam and Zayn have known all along, and so have Josh's band so their secret is safe for now.
Niall takes Josh back to Ireland after the American tour. His mum fawns over him, his dad smiles approvingly and cracks some bad jokes which Josh laughs at not to be polite but because he actually finds them funny. Niall’s brother teases Niall about his new boyfriend but it’s all good-natured so it’s okay. Niall’s heart is warm and big in his chest like it wants to burst with all the love he's feeling.
Josh’s family are even friendlier and loving if that's possible and Niall basks in the affection and acceptance he receives in the Devine household. They stay for a week, Niall claiming the right hand side of Josh's bed but waking up every morning sprawled across his boyfriend. His mum sends them out for milk and they bump into a few fans, Josh standing by Niall’s side as Niall scrawls his name over and over again and makes small talk. When they're alone again he grins and tells Niall he doesn't like sharing him with so many people. It’s said as a joke but Niall crosses his heart that Josh is the only one for him.
They joke around a lot of the time; it's a fun, easy relationship, but Niall likes the honest moments when it's clear how they really feel about each other. It's like walking outside and feeling heat on your arms after waking up with the sun streaming through your blinds; you know it’s there but it's nice seeing, feeling, hearing it be confirmed.
Nine months down the line, the best nine months of Niall’s life, and words like "coming out" and "fans' reaction" start making their way into their conversations. They want to do it their own way not in some forced statement produces or in a stilted interview.
In the end it's a photo of them kissing outside a pub in London that does the deed. Everyone holds their breath for the first twenty-four hours after the picture is published, only letting it out when it becomes clear that fans are being mostly supportive instead of spiteful. They lose a few, it was inevitable, but not enough to make a difference and as Zayn says - they don't want homophobes for fans anyway so good riddance.
Two tours, another album and eighteen months later and everything's changing. One Direction have a two month holiday and in those two months they make plans to move out the complex they've lived in for the last two and a half years. Louis and Harry are still going to live together and Zayn and Liam are shacking up which leaves Niall. The only obvious answer is one that leaves him feeling terrified and ecstatic at the same time which is stupid because why would Josh say no, right?
Niall knows the answer before he asks but it's still a relief to hear the yes before Josh crushes his lips to Niall’s and kisses him until they're smiling too much to continue. It's not like it'll make a big difference, 99.9% of Josh's stuff is strewn across Niall's flat anyway but it'll be nice to make it official.
"You have to get that tattoo of my face on your chest now." Niall announces one they've moved into their shiny new flat.
"When pigs fly." Josh pulls the brim of Niall’s hat down so all he can see is dark.
"You love me." Niall insists, reaching out blindly to grab Josh and pull him closer, trying to plant a kiss on his lips and getting his nose instead.
Josh sighs like it's the worst thing in the world. "Unfortunately I do."
Niall tries again and this time he knows he's hit his target when he feels Josh's mouth warm and wet on his, winding his arms round Niall’s waist then slipping to his thighs and picking him up, carrying him over to the couch Niall brought over from his old flat.
Their relationship is simple: Niall’s a singer and Josh is a drummer. They make good music together and love each other and that's it, the end.