Sequel: Black and White
Status: complete;;


chapter seven;;

Niall frowned, his eyes dark with concern, which shocked me. I was so used to seeing nothing but contempt. Time seemed to drag on slowly as I stared at him, unable to form words of any level ー not even random sounds. He nodded once, slowly, and turned on his heel. He’d just reached the door when I finally found my voice.

“Hey, wait up.”

I dropped the burnt-up cigarette to the ground, crushed it beneath my boot, and hurried to his side. My confusion and surprise had taken away the worst of my anger; though I could still feel it bubbling under the surface, it was nothing in comparison to the way my stomach was twisting itself into knots, or how my mind kept whispering this could be a trap, why would he speak to you? I drew in a steadying breath, ignored how close Bryan was.

“Why, uh, why do you care? I’m not trying to be rude,” I rushed to explain when he rolled his eyes, “but the way you’ve been treating me since day one kinda makes it hard to believe that you’d ever wanna hear about my problems.”

He sighed, shrugging and turning to lean against the wall as Bryan took a few steps away. “I… I guess the fact that you were so quiet the day we met. It just seemed like you wanted to be anywhere else with anyone else other than on tour with us. You didn’t look at anyone or speak to anyone unless they looked at you or said something to you first. And, and Jem’s statement of how you don’t shut up once you knew someone didn’t do much good to change your behaviour then, ya know? But…

“Then I saw how you are with the lads, and it made me realise that you aren’t cold and distant, just quiet. I mean, you’ve hung out regularly with Haz and Lou since the tour started, and you’re still quiet with them. Anyway. I was going to say sorry for how I’ve acted toward you the other night, but you and Amber rushed off to the buses, so I never got the chance.”

My words caught in my throat; I swallowed thickly and avoided looking at him, instead staring at my feet. “Really?”

“Yeah. You didn’t deserve how I was treating you. So, I’m sorry.”

“How bad did that hurt?” I asked after a moment, smiling, hoping he would take it as the joke it was instead of anything else. Thankfully, he laughed.

“Not as bad as I thought it would.” He grew serious again, and I frowned at the disappearance of his smile. “But really, do you want to talk about what made you so angry?”

I glanced around at the fans pressing against the large fences surrounding the back of the building, at Bryan pretending he couldn’t hear us talking, at the drivers loitering around the buses and speaking to each other. “Um, not here. Maybe later, though?”

“Okay. Shall we?”

He helped the door open for me, and I led him inside. Electricity seemed to be in every one of my nerve endings; I could feel him just inches away as we walked down the corridor, the heat from his skin palpable through the distance ー or maybe it was my imagination. I floundered as I tried to think of a topic we could discuss. Though we’d cleared up the biggest issue between us, I didn’t know him. I’d gotten to know Harry, Louis, Liam, and even Zayn fairly well, but Niall has essentially made himself a complete stranger to me. Apparently, he felt the same way. He opened his mouth as if to say something, shook his head, and let his lips press together again.

“So,” he started right as I said “Well…”

One glance at each other sent us bursting into laughter. It was awkward, but it seemed to have broken the ice. From our right came the sound of a camera shutter, and I turned to see that Stefanie had snapped a photo of us. She flashed a wide grin before heading in the direction of the stage; Niall shrugged at my questioning look, and we followed behind her. Amber immediately walked toward me when she saw us. Niall smiled, tapped his fingers against the back of my arm, and walked away before I could say anything. But honestly, what could I have told him? We weren’t friends, we barely even knew each other’s names, so no matter what I could have possibly wanted to say, it would have been too uncomfortable and ran the risk of ruining the fragile truce we had between us. Instead, I pulled my gaze away from him as he listened intently to whatever Liam was saying to face my best friend.

She bit her lip as she glanced from me to Niall then back to me. “What was that about?”

“Uh, nothing really. He just wanted to see if I was all right.”

“And you let him live?”

“Yes, Lambchop, I let him live. Why wouldn’t I?”

She shrugged and held onto the stool as I perched on it. The squeal of a guitar string interrupted her words, and Jem’s “Sorry!” echoed through the stage. She rolled her eyes, leaned closer so I could hear her better over the various conversations.

“I mean, I know you don’t really like him, that’s all. Don’t give me that look! You two haven’t said a word to each other that wasn’t sarcastic or shitty since this tour started, so it’s been pretty obvious that you can’t stand each other.”

“Maybe that’s changing,” I said quietly, finding Niall across the stage.

I ducked my head with a smile when his hand lifted in an uncertain wave.

It was only because of Alan’s hand wrapped around my wrist that I went in the right direction or even kept pace. I’d been woken up thirty minutes ago without the promise of coffee, so I was still half-asleep and incredibly jealous of the One Direction guys ー they were still sleeping the morning away. Someone called out our names, and we were led into a room where a man sat speaking into a microphone. He glanced up, looked back down at the paper in front of him, then lifted his head to look at us again; his face split into a grin, and he finished speaking, pressed a few buttons. When he stood up to greet us, I almost gasped out loud. He had to have been well over six feet tall. He shook hands with my friends, and I managed to make a fool of myself once he got to me.

“Holy Christ on a cheesecake, you’re tall.”

He let out a booming laugh, and my cheeks grew even hotter. “I get that a lot. Come, sit, sit! I have loads of questions from your fans to ask you.” He put his headphones back on, pushed another button, and began speaking into the microphone while we put our own headphones on. “Aaaand we’re back! With me, I have all four members of Complete Irrationality, the American pop-rock band on tour now with One Direction. We’ll start with a few questions that had already been sent in, and then we’ll move on and take a couple calls from you!”

The questions were, at first, pretty generic. What is it like to tour, especially with One Direction? Crazy but fun, best time of our lives. What are the guys of 1D like in person? Awesome, much better than imagined. Would you ever date a fan? Depends ー are they psycho? The usual type of inquiries, nothing unlike the ones tweeted at us all the time. Then the calls came in. I took a sip of my coffee that an assistant had brought and listened to the caller squeak.

“Hi! Er, what inspired the song ‘Confessions’, and why was it never released?”

I laughed weakly as all eyes in the room landed on me. “Um, it was, it was inspired by a very, very personal event in my life, and well, it was never really supposed to see the light of day. Jem’s just stubborn, so…” I shrugged. “It probably still won’t be released, though.”

“Do you think you’ll be putting a new album out soon?”

“Absolutely!” Jem replied with a huge grin; I slumped back in my seat, relieved to no longer be the object of everyone’s attention. “We’re actually gonna be hitting the studio shortly after this tour. We’ve already got enough songs written, I think, so it shouldn’t be too long.”

A few more questions were answered. By the time the interview was supposed to end, I was getting restless. I hadn’t answered anything else except for the question about “Confessions”, and while it didn’t bother me to not have to speak, the coffee I’d drank had officially hit my bladder and ramped up my nervous energy. Thankfully, the host ー I hadn’t bothered remembering his name ー finally announced there was time for one more call. The line was filled with a piercing shriek; I winced and tugged my headphones off my ears until it finished.

“Hello, oh my God, I can’t believe I got through! You are my heroes! Seriously, you have the best music I’ve ever heard, and I love you so much. Oh, my God!”

“Is… there a question in there?” Brett asked, brows furrowed, and the caller let out a breathy laugh that crackled along the line.

“Yes, of course, right. Erin! Is it true that you’re dating Louis Tomlinson?”

I snorted inelegantly, clapped a hand over my nose and mouth, and struggled to bite back the laughter. Unfortunately, my bandmates had no sort of compunction and let loose. The host looked at all of us, perplexed, and I somehow managed to calm down enough to answer.

“Oh, gods, I’m so sorry. Thank you for calling! I’m so glad you love our music. But, um, no. I am most definitely not dating Louis. He’s just my crazy, but lovable, new best friend.”

“Oh.” She sounded disappointed, but her voice held a hopeful tone when she continued, “Do you think you’d ever date him? Or anyone you tour with?”

“I honestly could never see myself dating him. Like, never. Never ever. It’d be too weird. As I said, best friend. I don’t date my best friends. And I don’t think I could ever date someone I’m touring with. It would be too awkward, I think, because if it didn’t work out, we’d still have to be around each other constantly. Thanks again for calling!”

We shook hands again with the man while the commercial break played, and Alan ushered us out to the buses and onboard. I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and headed to the lounge where Amber was sitting. I sat beside her, watched her as she stared out the window. When she didn’t react to my staring, I pressed the cold bottle against her bare leg, frowning when she twitched instead of fully smacking at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she muttered, and I scoffed.

“You’re a terrible liar.”

“How do you deal with being away from family for so long?”

I paused. I hadn’t expected the question, and it certainly wasn’t something I thought about most of the time; it was easier to just… do, instead of figuring out a way of coping. “I dunno. I just do, I guess. I mean, I always miss the Hell out of my family and friends, but Skype helps a bit until I get home again.”

“How much longer on this tour?”

“Another couple weeks, I think.” I checked the calendar on my phone. “Yeah, just a bit longer. But Am, if you wanna go home early, you can. Literally nobody would think less of you.”

She shrugged, sighed, and settled further into the couch. “I’ll think about it. Oh! You’ve got something on your bunk.”

I patted her leg gently and pushed myself to my feet. After pressing a kiss to her hair, I made my way to the bunk, flicking Jem in the back of the head as I passed. A pick hit my shoulder in retaliation; I laughed and crawled awkwardly into my bunk, pulling the curtains closed. The folded-up piece of paper crinkled under my knee, and I pulled it out and opened it. My confusion grew at the unfamiliar handwriting inside.

Text me sometime?

That was it. No name, no clue as to who it was, nothing. Just those three words and a phone number. The fact that it had a UK code before it at least narrowed down the possibilities somewhat, but that still left at least four of the One Direction guys (Louis had given me his number almost immediately after we joined the tour), and that wasn’t including the rest of the crew who’d been on the tour with us. I tapped the paper against my chin as I considered the possibilities. Eventually, I tucked the note into my pocket, stretched out on the bed, and closed my eyes. It might have only been ten-thirty in the morning, but I was dying for a nap.


The stylists buzzed with idle conversation as they flitted around, holding up articles of clothing before discarding them or handing them to us. There were small changing rooms made from tall racks and curtains set up off to the side, but we didn’t bother utilising them; being in a band together ー and best friends ー for five years had dissolved any sense of propriety and nervousness between us, so I was just as comfortable stripping down in front of the guys as they were with me. Once we’d dressed in the chosen outfits, the stylists ushered us to the chairs and immediately got to work on our hair and makeup. I noticed the woman doing my makeup was spending more time on me than the others were on my friends, and it took all my willpower to not tell her enough was enough. We finally filed out to the main room to stand in front of a large white backdrop. The guys looked around, not the least bit affected by anything, but I was annoyed. They’d been dressed in fitted jeans and shirts that accentuated their muscles, whereas I’d been told to wear a short black dress that had thin shoulder straps and a sweetheart neckline that covered only my chest and shoulderblades, and hips to mid-thighs, both halves connected by a strip of fabric running up over my navel; on my feet were a pair of Cinzia Araia cut-out ankle boots. I didn’t mind dresses usually, and everyone knew I adored heeled boots, but feeling like a majority of my body was exposed to the whole world made me want to hide away. My discomfort only grew worse when the photographer burst into the room and his beady eyes roamed hungrily over every bit of my bare skin. A shiver of disgust ran down my spine. Jem patted my shoulder as we got into position. I inhaled steadily. As creepy as the photographer was, and as uneasy and naked as I felt, this was my job, and I was going to have to grit my teeth and bear it. My gaze landed on Bryan and Sam, and I slowly let myself relax. Our security was here. They would stop anything from going too wayside.

By the time the photographer dismissed us, I had the distinct feeling he’d taken photos he hadn’t needed just for the sake of keeping me in his sights. I couldn’t get rid of the uneasiness and the turmoil in my stomach until I changed into my pair of leggings and oversized hoodie and was back on the bus to the next venue.

Louis plopped down next to me on the couch in our dressing room. “Hello, love. You seem irritated.”

“Not irritated,” I replied with a snort, turning down my iPod and removing one earbud. “Just creeped out by sleazy photographers.”

“Better not let Stefanie hear you say that. She might kill you.”


He rested his head on my shoulder, and we sat in silence for a few minutes while my bandmates finished changing and talked amongst themselves. I handed him the free earbud, and he grinned widely, shoving it in his ear.

“Oooh, who’s this?”

“A really fuckin’ fantatsic band called Silent Playground. They’re awesome. You should definitely listen to them.”

“I like ‘em so far. Oh, no. I better go save Liam from Miss Sleazy Photographer!”

I couldn’t stop the giggle that came from me as Louis ran to playfully tackle Stefanie to the floor as Liam looked on, face scrunched up in his genuine confusion. Touring had never been so fun.