‹ Prequel: Black and White

To the End

eleven

Image


I run a hand through my hair, sighing when the breeze just pushes it all right back into my face. Bryan snorts next to me, and I glare up at him through my sunglasses. His hand squeezes my shoulder comfortingly. It’s been five days since Niall left to finish out his vacation, and I’ve not slept very well at all since then. My temper has grown shorter with the lack of sleep and influx of hormones, to everyone’s disgruntlement.

“Can’t believe you wore that shirt,” Zach comments lightly, holding the door open so Bryan and I can enter the studio.

I glance down at the T-shirt and giggle. It was a gift from Louis, something to commemorate the anniversary of our kiss outside the club when Complete Irrationality toured with One Direction. He claims it was meant only as a joking reminder that I can no longer drink, but I actually really do love the shirt regardless of the intentions. It’s hilarious and definitely Louis. I pat Zach’s shoulder on my way past him.

“You’re just jealous I get Tommo’s face all up on my body, Hudson.”

“Oh, definitely. So jealous. Ya caught me.”

The rest of the band is already inside the studio by the time we join them. I sit down on the couch next to Owen, swiping his drumsticks and tapping them on my kneecaps. He growls playfully and takes them back. Thankfully, Lisa distracts me by passing over my guitar, and I shift so I have room to settle it across my thighs, take the pick from Tanner, and glance up at the group.

“So, uh… let’s get going.”

___________


Baby Horan on the Way?!
By: Liza Collins
27 January, 2016


Anyone who has been a fan of One Direction at any point in the last six years knows that the one and only Niall Horan tied the knot back in April of 2015 to none other than Erin McCarty, former-guitarist for Complete Irrationality turned soloist. They started dating a few years ago, though no one is really certain on the exact timeline - and without any confirmation from the two lovebirds, we’re not liable to know that information any time soon!

Erin was spotted going into the studio just a couple of days ago to begin recording her second full-length album (title TBA), and there was a very noticeable change to her body: She seems to be sporting a baby belly! And judging by the size, she’s at least a couple of months along. A source close to the couple reached out to us and said, “Yeah, she’s absolutely over the moon! She’s so excited and dead-set on it being a girl. Niall is just as happy. They’re both going to be amazing parents.”

There has been no word from either McCarty or Horan, or their respective management companies, so this is unconfirmed at the moment, but much like Shakira’s hips, that belly don’t lie.

I scoff and close out of the tab. Of course I was papped while walking into the studio. That comes with the territory. I’m kind of upset the only photo they managed to get was at an awful angle. If they’d gotten a better picture from the front, they would have been able to see Louis’s face stretched across my shirt - I would kill to know what their reactions would have been. Probably a lot of outrage and an influx of name-calling, primarily that I’m a whore.

Worth it, I think as I scratch idly at the side of my nose, making a mental note to do a face mask soon. My pores are getting out of control. My phone buzzes on the nightstand, and I debate ignoring it. But then I remember it could be Niall, so I reluctantly pick it up to read the text.

From: Ni-baby
> Just heard . Guess the secret’s out. . .

To: Ni-baby
< Yeah, guess it is.
< How do we want to handle this?

From: Ni-baby
> I honestly have no idea. We could just ignore it, not make any statements ?

To: Ni-baby
< That’s not an option. Remember after the wedding?

From: Ni-baby
> Yeh , that was awful.
> So making a statement ?

To: Ni-baby
< Probably for the best. I’ll talk to the co and ask what they think. You do the same with yours?

From: Ni-baby
> Okay. Love you xx

To: Ni-baby
< We love you, too x

I sigh, shoving back the blankets. I’m not looking forward to another day in the studio, especially since I’ve had that damn tune stuck in my head but I can’t find the right words for it. Bryan is already waiting downstairs for me when I finally get dressed in my favourite yoga pants and tank-top and make my way to the kitchen, typing an email to my management as I go. He holds up his mug of coffee in greeting, and I wave without enthusiasm and stare at the cup in his hand. He frowns.

“Does your husband know you’re trying to con me into giving you caffeine?”

“He has no problem with it.” Bryan’s brow raises. “He doesn’t! As long as it’s, like, one sip every so often, he doesn’t care. And c’mon, Bry, I’m sick of peppermint tea.”

“Fine. But if I find out you’re lying to me…”

“Would I ever do that?”

I grin widely, making grabby hands for his mug, and he passes it over reluctantly. True to my word, I only take a sip, though it’s just a smidgen larger than usual, and pass it back. He finishes off his drink as I gather up my purse and knapsack with my notebooks.

He leads me out of the house, stopping long enough for me to lock the door behind us, and then to the car. I’ve just slid into the backseat when my phone makes a dinging noise in my hand; I tap the notification to bring up the new email from my management company.

Erin -
I know we’ve known about the pregnancy for almost a month, but let us just wish you and Niall a heartfelt congratulations again on the baby. We know you and Niall will be amazing parents, and we’re so excited for you both!!

On to the point of this email: Yes, getting ahead of the media in terms of announcing the pregnancy before other publications do is the best idea. We’ll trust that you can make the appropriate statement - please do not make us regret this.

Again, congratulations, and we wish you the best!

Regards,
Lesly, Jamie, Martin, and Pete


The fact that my team is putting their faith in my ability to make an announcement like this means a lot - it also means they really haven’t been paying attention to the fact that my tongue has gotten looser when it comes to speaking out. I give a mental shrug, sending back a quick acknowledgement that I’ve read their email, and glance up at Bryan.

His face is in its usual perpetual scowl, and it takes all my willpower to not giggle at it. He hates driving, especially in LA, but he refuses to let me drive myself anywhere. It doesn’t matter how much I beg; if he’s with me, I don’t get behind the wheel. It’s just gotten worse since I became pregnant.

Recording goes about as well as I hoped: We put the finishing touches on another two songs and get the base for a third done, and when we break for a late lunch, I’m annoyed to find that stupid beat still stuck in my head. Zach tosses an apple my way as I enter the kitchen area, and I thank him before taking a large bite out of it.

Owen grabs his drumsticks from my hand on his way out; I gasp in mock outrage, promptly choking on the fruit in my mouth. Lisa smacks at my shoulders as I cough, and eventually, I can breathe again. Nobody says anything for a long moment, just staring at me. I’m the first to break the silence with a snort before dissolving into giggles.

To: Ni-baby
< Fruit is evil, just thought you should know.

He doesn’t reply, but I don’t expect him to. Phone service is spotty when you’re gallivanting the world, and I feel guilty even sending random texts like this. I know we’re married and expecting a baby, but he deserves the time, the chance, to actually be a normal dude. Or as normal as he can get with being famous and fresh on a hiatus from one of the biggest boybands known worldwide.

Lisa asks about the song we’re working on, what we hope it sounds like, and I lose myself in that conversation. One thing I can talk about for hours is music, and if it’s my own? I won’t shut up.

The rest of the day passes quickly enough. By the time Bryan parks in the driveway, it’s almost seven at night, I’ve thrown up three times, and there are eleven unread texts in my inbox - two from Amber, one from Natalie, and eight from Niall. I wait until I’m changed into a fresh pair of pyjamas before reading and replying to any of them.

Nat’s is just checking in on me with an attached photo of the most adorable one-week-old baby I’ve ever seen in my entire life so far, and Amber’s is asking when she can come stay the night again, she needs a break from work and Brett. I send back a message asking if they’re still okay then switch to the thread with Niall.

It’s nothing but photos of wherever he is, him smiling widely in each image in front of various scenery. I snap a quick selfie of my eyes crossed, tongue sticking out, in front of the glass door that leads to the backyard; the shining of the pool lights behind my head gives the picture an ethereal kind of glow. Once that’s done and sent off, I make my way to the couch and lie down.

My phone rings not even ten minutes later, and I grin to myself, press the accept button, and rush to switch the camera around so that it’s pointed at my belly. Niall’s smile falters, and his brows furrow for just a split second, then he laughs quietly.

“Hi, Dad, here’s an update. I’ve decided to be a brat and make my mummy throw up way more than she should have, considering all I’d let her eat was an apple and a small packet of Ritz.”

“Well, that sounds like an awful time. You should be nicer to your mum. After all, she’s doing all the work to give you a place to grow.”

I wiggle my phone around, stifle my giggles as I say in a growling voice, “I wanna assert my dominance before I arrive, so that you two know just how much I’m gonna control your lives! Mwahaha.”

“I really don’t think our child is gonna sound like the spawn of Satan, love.”

“I know, but it was fun,” I reply flippantly and flip the camera view around so my face fills the square in the top. “Hi.”

“Hey. You look exhausted.”

“I am. It’s been a very long day.”

We chat about random things, and I listen with one ear while he tells me about the things he’s done today; my stomach growls, and I make my way to the kitchen to rummage through the fridge for something to snack on.

Every doctor I’ve spoken to has made a Big Deal about my weight, and Niall panics if I don’t have something healthy to eat before I go to bed. Or any time, really. I grab the container of grapes from the bottom shelf and the cup of water I’d placed in there before leaving for the studio.

He grins when he sees me eating but doesn’t stop speaking until he finishes up his story. I decide the break in conversation is a good time to bring up a very important issue.

“So we’re making a statement?” I ask as I pop another grape into my mouth; grimacing at the tartness, I turn my gaze back to the face on my phone’s screen. “We got the all clear from your management, too?”

Niall nods and scrubs his hand over his face. He looks absolutely worn down even through the lousy connection. “Yeah, they said it’s best that we control the narrative as much as we can.”

“Okay. Probably a good idea, I guess. I mean, that’s basically what Lesly said in her email to me, too.”

erroroperatorr: Well, guess the news is out! Yes, Niall and I are expecting our first child. Yes, we’re more excited than we can put into words. Yes, the baby absolutely is Niall’s. No, it’s NOT ANY of your business. So don’t ask. Thanks for respecting our privacy!

The buzz of his phone is audible, and I watch him as he checks the notification, laughing when he rolls his eyes. He doesn’t speak while he types something, but I didn’t expect him to say much. He’s not even on the same continent as I am, so any chance of stopping me from tweeting something that ridiculous was nonexistent from the very start.

And now it’s too late - the tweet is out there, and deleting it won’t stop the screenshots from being posted. A notification appears at the top of my phone screen seconds later, and I tap on it.

Niall_Official: Though we would have preferred to share the news ourselves it is true that my lovely wife @erroroperatorr will be giving birth to our child later this year. We are both thrilled and ask you to respect our privacy as we start this new chapter of our lives
Niall_Official: I also want to take a moment to be perfectly clear - I did not have a say in how @erroroperatorr stated the news but I do agree with the general sentiment !

He smiles slightly, commenting in an offhanded manner, “I really don’t think that’s how our management companies wanted us to make a statement.”

“Eh, mine probably expected it.”

“Why don’t you get some sleep, love?”

“Because going to bed without you sucks.”

“Yeah, I know the feeling,” he murmurs and glances over his shoulder as someone’s voice sounds in the background. “I better go, though. I love you.”

“Love you, too, babe.”

I blow him a kiss before he disappears from the screen. Glancing down at my belly, I frown, running my palm over the slight swell. I shove two more grapes into my mouth even as I bring up the Twitter app again. It’s no surprise that my mentions are blowing up, and it’s even less of a shock that the replies to my post are an almost-even mix of delighted and angry.

The fact that people are responding this way is unexpected, though. After news of our marriage got out, it had taken Niall and me making a video and posting it to our social medias for the fans to believe it - to this day, there is still a handful of users who refuse to accept it.

It certainly didn’t stir up this much controversy. And it definitely hadn’t caused me to get fifty tweets in a row full of vitriol and death threats; one person even attached a Google satellite image of our house with the caption I know where u live.

This time, the puddle of vomit on the floor isn’t caused by my pregnancy.