one of one

“Alright, hold on,” Niall called out when another knock sounded from the front door of his London flat.

When he reached the door, he placed his hand on the knob, gave it a twist, and swung the door open -- all without checking beforehand to see who was on the other side.

That was something he quickly regretted.


In the hallway stood a petite blonde. She hadn’t changed much, physically, in the year since he’d last seen her. Her long hair still hung in the loose waves that Niall used to love to run his fingers through, especially at night when they were tangled up in the sheets of their bed, their breaths heavy and their mouths set in matching grins. Her cat-like green eyes still had that twinkle in them, like she knew something that he didn’t -- which in this case, it appeared that she did. Her nose was still scrunched up the teeniest bit, like she had just gotten a whiff of something unpleasant. And her plump, pink lips were twisted into that small, uneasy smile that she always gave when she was uncomfortable or nervous.

It looked as though nothing much different had happened to Allison in the past twelve months. Well, except for one small thing.

“Hello, Niall.” Allison lifted up her arm, bringing the car seat she was holding closer to him. “Meet your daughter, Lily.”

Niall’s grip on the doorknob tightened to the point that he was surprised it didn’t break off. He leaned heavily against the door, fearing that if he didn’t, his legs would give out on him and he would collapse to the floor.

“C-come again?” he choked out.

“You heard me perfectly the first time,” Allison snapped, her Boston accent becoming thick, as it usually did whenever she was annoyed or flustered. “I don’t have time for your games. I have to--”

My games? That’s pretty funny coming from the queen of games.” Niall crossed his arms over his chest and met Allison’s annoyed stare with an icy glare. “What are you doing here?”

“I am here to introduce you to your daughter, you douche. Now, like I said before, meet Lily.”

Allison held the car seat out again to Niall, who took a step back and held up his hands like he was warding off a virus.

“No. She can’t-- I don’t-- no.” He shook his head furiously. “How can you even be sure that she’s mine? I mean, I haven’t seen you in a year. How do I know you didn’t fuck loads of lads after you left me?”

For a split second, Allison’s tough facade was shed when she flinched at Niall’s words as though he had slapped her across her rosy cheeks. The twinkle in her eyes faded and her lips turned down in a frown.

But as fast as it had disappeared, the facade returned.

“You are a grade-A asshole, Niall. I was not, am not, and never will be a girl who sleeps around and how dare you suggest that I am.” Allison’s hand that wasn’t clutching the car seat clenched into a tight fist. “You are the only guy I’ve ever been with, so yes, I am absolutely positive that you are Lily’s father. Besides, she has your nose.”

For the first time since Allison’s arrival, Niall allowed his eyes to travel down to the baby girl.

She was wrapped in a pale green blanket, with only her head and neck visible. Her little head was topped with soft-looking hair that was the same shade of dark blonde as Allison’s. Her eyes were closed as she slept peacefully, unaware of the storm brewing around her. Her little pink mouth was opened a tiny bit as she let out quiet baby snores. Her nose was scrunched up a teeny bit...and definitely just like the one on his face.

“Jesus Christ...” he muttered under his breath once the realization hit.

Lily was his baby.

“Yeah. So now, for the third time, meet your daughter, Lily.” Allison offered the car seat to Niall once again. This time, he accepted it. “Her full name is Lillian Marie Horan. She was born on May seventeenth at two forty-seven in the afternoon. She was the most beautiful baby that I have ever seen. Loud, too... just like her daddy.”

Niall looked up from Lily, to see the small, sad smile on Allison’s face and the adoring look she was giving their daughter.

“Her daddy who wasn’t there to witness her birth. Her daddy who didn’t even know she existed until ten minutes ago,” he pointed out.

The smile on Allison’s face dropped, along with her head. “I know. I’m sorry--”

“Yes, you should be sorry, Allison. More than sorry.” Niall shook his head slowly as he sucked in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “Don’t you realize how big of a deal it is that I missed the birth of my first child? I can never get that back. You stole it from me...”

Allison lifted her head and met Niall’s gaze. Instead of sadness or remorse, her eyes flickered with anger.

“Well, how can you be so sure that you even would have been around for it? How can you know that you would have been able to make time for the stupid girl you knocked up when you were out there being Mr. Pop Star?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I would have been sure to make time. If I had time to make Lily, then I would have made time to be there for her birth,” Niall insisted. “How you can think otherwise is beyond me. Have I somehow presented myself as the kind of person who abandons his kid?”

Allison rolled her eyes before shifting them back to the ground. “You say now that you would have made time, but when push came to shove, who knows if you could have been there. You have obligations, I understand that now and understood that back then, so I made a choice--”

“To completely cut me out of my daughter’s life when I had done nothing to deserve it?” Niall interrupted, his voice rising in anger. “You had no right to make that kind of decision, Allison! I am Lily’s parent as much as you are. I deserve to be there for the important moments in her life, her birth included. Even if I couldn’t have been there during the birth, I would have been around for the time leading up to it and the time after it. I would have been there to run to the store at two in the morning to get whatever weird food you were craving or to remind you that you were beautiful on those days when you felt anything but. I would have been there for her first night at home and for her first bath. I would have been there for you both.”

“What was I supposed to do during those months when you were on tour? Sit around the flat, cry because I felt fat, ugly, and stupid, and worry about if you had found a prettier, more talented, not pregnant girl? Oh yeah, that sounds like so much fun, Niall!”

As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Niall realized that Allison had a point. While he would have played the part of the devoted boyfriend and future father when he was home, Allison would have been on her own while he was on tour.

“You have a point,” he said, then shifted the car seat that Lily was still sleeping in to his other hand. “But you still should have at least told me that you were pregnant. I would have helped in any way that I could have.”

“Yes, Niall, you have already told me that you would have helped me about seventy times.” Allison ran her fingers through her hair and heaved a loud sigh. “Look, I was just barely eighteen years old, pregnant, and scared out of my mind. I was attending a prestigious school in a foreign country, making excellent marks. I was supposed to be a smart girl. Smart girls do not get knocked up by their boyfriends. I felt so stupid and lost, so I went back home to be with my mom. She helped me through the pregnancy. It was the best thing for me to do.”

Niall stared in disbelief at Allison. ’It was the best thing for me to do.' She didn’t seem to see the problem with her not saying a word to him about her pregnancy. He tried to remember if she had always been so oblivious.

“You didn’t think that it would be a good idea to let me know that you were pregnant before you ran off to a different continent?” he asked, his words laced with both disbelief and sarcasm. When Allison stayed silent and refused to look him in the eye, he nearly lost it. “Goddammit, Allison, I can’t believe you would do this to me! I thought you actually gave a shit about my feelings, but I guess I was wrong. How stupid of me.”

Still, Allison wouldn’t look at him or speak. She just stared at the carpet under her feet and chewed on her painted thumbnail.

“Well, I’ve met Lily now,” Niall said after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence. “Are you gonna snatch her out of my life again?”

“No, actually, that’s why I’m here.” Allison finally raised her gaze to meet Niall’s. “I’m leaving her here with you.”

Niall’s eyes blinked rapidly a few times as her words sunk in. She was seriously going to leave Lily with him when he had absolutely no idea how to take care of a baby?

“You need me to take care of her while you’re on holiday?” he asked.

Allison’s eyes squeezed shut as a pained expression tainted her beautiful face. “Not quite.” She shook her head slowly and took a deep breath before continuing, “I need you to take care of her permanently.”

Niall’s jaw went slack and he nearly dropped Lily. “What?” he exclaimed.

“You know I hate when you do that! You heard me the first time.” Allison’s eyes flashed when her green orbs met his blue ones. “You need to take Lily.”

“But I can’t--”

“You can and you will! I don’t trust myself with her anymore, so if you care about her well-being, you need to take her.”

It took a moment for Niall to catch on to what Allison had just implied, but once he did, he was shocked.

“You would harm our baby?” he asked quietly, taking a step back from Allison.

“Maybe... I don’t know.” She sighed and tugged at the sleeves on her dark blue peacoat. Her eyes trailed down to the carpet once again. “They say that having a baby at such a young age can ruin your life. I’ve realized that it’s true, and I can’t let that happen to me. I’ve worked too hard to let one mistake ruin my whole life.”

Niall looked down at the car seat, to Lily. She was still fast asleep, now with her thumb sucked into her mouth. How anyone, especially her own mother, could see the tiny girl as a mistake was beyond him. The more he thought about it, the more he could feel himself losing control of his temper, until he completely lost it.

“Don’t call my daughter a mistake!” he shouted, causing Allison to flinch.

“And don’t raise your fucking voice like that at me!” She balled both of her hands into tight fists and glared at him. “You don’t know how this whole experience has been for me--”

“Because you wouldn’t let me be a part of it!”

Allison’s mouth clamped shut and her eyes focused on something behind Niall. He stared at her, though the sight of her was beginning to turn his stomach, and waited for her to say something. Preferably something that would remind him that she wasn’t as horrible of a person as she was acting right now.

“Look, I just can’t do this anymore, Niall. I can’t play the part of sacrificial mommy anymore. I have dreams and I’m not willing to let them go yet. I want to go to an Ivy League school, pursue a career in medicine, save a few lives... I can’t do all that with a kid on my hip.”

“You’re willing to give up your daughter for that?”

Tears stained Allison’s cheeks as she slowly nodded her head. “If you were in my position, wouldn’t you do the same?” she asked, her voice shaky and small.

For a moment, Niall didn’t know the answer to that question. It seemed almost impossible to chose between his dreams and his child. He’d been chasing his dreams of becoming a singer for years now, yet he’d only known of Lily’s existence for less than an hour. Despite the short amount of time he had known her, he knew that Lily would now be a very important part of him for the rest of his life.

One glance down at the sleeping baby, and he knew his answer.

“No. I would find a way to achieve my dreams and be the best parent I could be for Lily,” he said with conviction.

“Sadly, I can’t do that.” Allison shrugged the black and white polka-dotted diaper bag off of her shoulder and set it down on the floor by the flat’s door. “There should be enough diapers and bottles in there to tide her over until you’re able to go shopping tomorrow. Do not heat the bottles in the microwave. Heat, but don’t boil, water on the stove and let the bottle sit in the water for a few minutes. Oh, and be sure to test the formula's temperature on the inside of your wrist before you give it to her. But if she’s really hungry and it doesn’t look like she can wait the few minutes, you can give her cold formula. I also wrote up a list of all the things you’ll need to buy for her, which brands to get, and where to get them at. That’s in one of the inside pockets of the diaper bag.”

Niall gave a single nod. From how organized and prepared it was, he realized that Allison had been planning this drop-off for quite some time. The mental image he created of her sitting up late at night, coming up with a list of all the things Lily would need, most likely crying while doing so, actually made him feel bad for her.

But then he remembered that she was the one who decided to give up Lily for her own selfish reasons, and all of his sympathy faded away.

“Well, I think that’s everything,” Allison mumbled after a long, uncomfortable pause between them. “I, uh, well... I better go,”

“Yeah, you better,” Niall agreed, his voice cold as ice.

Allison blinked up at him with a frown on her face, seemingly thrown off by his coldness. But instead of calling him out on it and starting another argument, she crouched down to Lily’s level. Her hand reached out to gently brush the baby’s cheek as she studied her face.

“Good-bye, Lily,”she murmured, still stroking the sleeping girl’s cheek. “Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you so much, but she can’t--”

She clamped her hand over her mouth, but not before a strangled sob escaped. With the index finger of her free hand, she traced a small heart on Lily’s cheek. Then, once she composed herself a bit, she lifted her hand from her mouth, leaned in, and placed a feathery kiss where she’d drawn the heart.

With that, she stood back up to her full height and met Niall’s gaze. “I do mean it; I really do love her. You probably don’t think it, but I do,” she said, wiping away the fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.

Niall wished he didn’t believe her when she said that she loved Lily. Then maybe he would be able to stay mad at her for leaving their daughter behind. Instead, he was beginning to understand why she was doing it.

But instead of voicing any of this, he gave a single nod and a mumbled “okay” in response.

“Alright, well... Bye, Niall,” she said with a small, tight smile.

Niall watched as she looked to Lily one last time, then turned to leave. The slump of her shoulder and her bowed head as she started down the hall was nearly enough to make him bite his tongue and just let her go. But he knew that he had to make one thing clear to her before she left.


At the sound of her name, she stopped her dejected shuffle and turned back around. “Yeah?”

“This is it, y’know,” Niall said. “You can’t come running back in five years, wanting to be a part of her life again.”

He felt like he had just kicked a puppy or done something equally cruel when he saw the way Allison’s face fell.

“I know,” she mumbled before turning back around and continuing down the hall once again.

When she rounded the corner and disappeared from sight, Niall let out a deep breath. Then he realized that he should probably get Lily into the flat before someone spotted her and started making assumptions.

Though those assumptions would most likely be true.

“Alright, Lily, let’s get you inside your new home, yeah?” Niall murmured as he picked up the diaper bag Allison had left.

With that on his shoulder, he stepped back into his flat and shut the door behind him. Then he walked into the living room, where he dropped the diaper bag onto a chair and set Lily’s car seat on the table in front of the couch.

“Lily, baby, wake up,” he whispered, crouching down next to the car seat. “Lily...”

Apparently a very heavy sleeper, Lily didn’t wake up after the first few times that Niall cooed her name. But finally, after he tickled her tiny foot, she awoke... and started to cry.

“Shit!” Niall hissed as he quickly unfastened the buckles of the car seat and lifted the screaming baby out of it.

He held Lily in what he hoped was the correct way to hold a baby and pleaded with her to stop crying. She didn’t, and he figured it was because she had no idea who the strange boy holding her was, so he introduced himself.

“Hey, Lily, it’s okay! I’m Niall, your daddy. S’okay, see, now you know who I am, so you can stop crying.”

She responded by letting out a loud wail.

“Well fuck,” Niall grumbled under his breath as he rubbed Lily’s back and tried to think of a way to quiet her.

Then it hit him: humming.

While rocking Lily back and forth, he hummed a tune loudly, so she could hear him over her crying. At first, the humming had no effect on her volume of crying, but by the second time of humming “The A Team”, she was quiet.

“You like that song, Lily?” Niall asked, holding her in front of him.

When he did, his eyes were met with a pair of blue beauties identical to his.

“Look at that...” he murmured as he sunk down onto the couch. “We match.”

He let out a heavy sigh while he got comfortable. Once he was laying back on the couch, he laid Lily, stomach-down, on his chest, with his arms holding her in place.

As soon as he left to go shopping for Lily’s things tomorrow, shit was going to hit the fan, and nothing was going to be the same.

As soon as the paps snapped the first picture, his life was going be altered drastically. Management was going to be after his ass. The fans were going to view him differently. The lads were going to be shocked, to say the least. Touring and doing press was going to become more of a challenge. His social life was going to become a secondary priority. And most importantly, he was going to have to grow up and become a responsible parent.

He was well aware of all of this, but, for right now, none of that mattered. All that mattered to him at this moment was that Lily was giving him a big, toothless grin and that he could feel himself falling in love with his daughter.
♠ ♠ ♠
A huge thank you to SurviveThisWorld for the idea for this one shot. Thanks for helping me with my stories, yelling at me to write when I need to be yelled at, and for being a lovely friend. I love you. <3

Feedback is appreciated and makes me smile. :D