Sequel: Black and White
Status: complete;;


chapter twenty-four;;

I gaped, wide-eyed, at the dark screen of my laptop for a few minutes. I couldn’t believe the battery had died, especially not when it did. My brain snapped into gear, and I scrambled to my bunk, fumbled with my phone. It took a couple of tries to press the correct name in my contacts list, but finally, I managed to tap the green phone button and held the device to my ear. The call went straight to voicemail.

A frustrated, strangled groan escaped as I attempted to call again only to get the same response.

“Hi, it’s Niall. If you’ve reached this recording, it means I’m too busy or too lazy to answer the phone. Leave a message, and I’ll ring you back when I can.”

My heart pounded in my chest, beating against my ribs in a painful rhythm, and I paced the walkway as I tried again and again and again. I had to get a hold of him, I had to tell him. Suddenly, I remembered who Niall was with on the Skype call, smacked my forehead, and winced at the pain even while I scrolled through the contacts until I reached Bear. He answered on the third ring, and I immediately launched into speech, not giving him a chance to say anything.

“Let me talk to him, Li, please. I have to speak to Niall.”

“This is Niall.”

And gods, I had never been more relieved to hear that Irish accent. My words dried up in my throat, and I swallowed thickly. My tongue felt heavy, I forgot how to form words for a long moment.

My eyes fell closed, and my heart jackhammered in my chest as I struggled against the tears. “Oh, fuck, hi. I’m so sorry. I forgot to plug my laptop in, the battery died. Sorry.”

“Oh. So…?”

I inhaled as steadily as I could before answering.

When the Skype call ended abruptly, my heart plummeted. That was the only answer Erin could give me ー a simple disconnect from a video chat. Liam stared at me, brown eyes full of sympathy. It had taken quite a while to convince him to believe me, but once he no longer doubted me, he had instantly done what he could to help. He had even given me pep talks multiple times, explained that he was only looking out for Erin’s best interest and that he wholly agreed with her actions of cutting off contact in response to the news of the girl and me. He also made it a point of warning me against hurting her for a third time.

I don’t think either of us were expecting this, though. This time, I wasn’t the one doing the damage. I slumped in the chair and clenched my jaw to stop the tears from coming. My hands itched to throw my guitar, to slam it into the wall over and over until it shattered into pieces; Liam clasped my shoulder gently, and I avoided eye contact. I didn’t think I could handle the pity right now.

“At least you tried, mate. That’s all you can do.”

I shrugged his hand away and reached up to hold my head. My fingers gripped my hair tightly, tugging at the strands until the throbbing in my head matched the hurt in my heart. How could I have been so damn stupid for so long? How could I have let Erin slip through my fingers, why did I hurt her so many times? She hadn’t deserved any of what I’d done to her; this was all my fault. My vision pulsed at the edges, signalling the start of a migraine. Suddenly, Liam tapped my shoulder rapidly. I looked up to see him holding out his phone. Toaster Strudel was calling.

“Hurry,” he hissed, “answer it!”

I took the device and shakily dragged a finger across the screen to answer the call. Pressing the phone to my ear, I started to say a greeting but was forced to stop as a flood of words came pouring down the line in a breathless, crackling rush.

“Let me talk to him, Li, please. I have to speak to Niall.”

“This is Niall,” I muttered, somehow managing to get a hold of my emotions so that my voice didn’t shake. She didn’t respond immediately, and I frowned, pulled the phone away to see if the call had dropped. “Erin?”

“Oh, fuck, hi. I’m so sorry. I forgot to plug my laptop in, the battery died. Sorry.”

“Oh. So…?”

I held my breath as I waited, but I had little hope for the answer I wanted. Her inhale was audible down the line; I bit my lip, pressed a hand to my eyes. This is it, Niall. She’s not going to say yes. You made too many mistakes and hurt her too much. She’s -

“Yes. Fuck, Niall. You have another chance. Yes.”

Wait, what? I choked on air once her words registered. My teeth caught my bottom lip in my effort to stop myself from shouting out. She wanted me back. After everything, she was willing to take me back. Liam gave me a questioning look, but I ignored him, focused solely on the news I’d just received.

“Are… are you serious?”

“Yeah, absolutely serious. This isn’t a joke, Ni, I promise. But…” She sighed, and I ached to hold her. When she spoke next, her voice was soft but steady.“It won’t be easy, I hope you know that. I’ve spent so long trying to get over the hurt you caused me on more than one occasion, and if you do anything to ruin this relationship, I will walk away and not look back. I can’t do it again.”

“I’m, I’m not asking for easy, love. All I want is a chance to prove myself to you.”

“Well, you’ve got it. Don’t fuck it up again. Okay, I… I really don’t want to do this, but it’s almost two in the morning here. I’m exhausted and about to fall asleep standing up. So I’ll call you tomorrow?”

“Absolutely. Get some sleep. Goodnight, Erin.”

“‘Night, Niall. Tell Liam I’ll yell at him tomorrow.”

I was still laughing when she hung up. Liam pounced as soon as I lowered the phone, bombarded me with questions. I merely smiled in reply and relayed the message; he followed me to the living room, sitting on me after I sprawled out on the couch, demanding answers. I threw an arm over my face and grinned widely. I felt like nothing could destroy the happiness that consumed me. Erin was right ー this absolutely wasn’t going to be easy. There would be times she would not believe what I told her, and I would have to be patient and reassure her of my commitment. I knew I wouldn’t knowingly do anything to jeopardise what I had with her again, but I was willing to do everything I possibly could to make sure she was happy with me, that she didn’t doubt how much I cared for her and needed her. I refused to risk giving her a reason to doubt me. I’d done it before, but I wouldn’t do it again.

I fell asleep with a smile on my face.