Feels Like Forever



The rest of the day is spent listening to her “effing feels” playlist, as Emilie had titled it, and watching as Ryder plays with the few toys left behind when they first moved out. She tries but she just can’t force herself to focus on the child as she normally would be able to. The emptiness of the flat is too suffocating, the quiet overwhelming. It’s been almost a week since the relationship met its demise, and she hurts just as fiercely. She doesn’t know when the pain will fade, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Ryder falls asleep far more easily tonight than he has since LA disappeared from view. Emilie allows him to fall asleep on the couch with his cartoons playing quietly, Lionel the Lion tucked against his chest. She almost doesn’t want to move him, but Derek and Monica will be here soon. The conversation isn’t meant for his ears, and Emilie can’t risk him waking up to see her falling apart.

Once he’s in his own bed, she pulls the door shut behind her until the latch rests against the frame and drops down onto the sofa. The silence is too much to bear. It gives her mind the freedom to race around, thoughts clattering against themselves in an echoing reminder that she messed up. Her desperation for a perfect relationship brought about the destruction. She let her fears of losing Niall become reality because she wouldn’t talk to him.

She stayed up all night and cried into her pillow, and fought off the urge to just break down and call. Last night to find the fault seemed so darn easy, but now who’s to blame don’t matter much at all.

Emilie snorts as Travis Tritt sings about foolish pride, the words too close to truth. Closing her eyes, she lets her head drop back and swallows against another wave of desolation. God, but does she miss him. When things were good, they were great. Niall made her feel safe, comforted, loved, and she walked away from that. All she has now are the memories.

A knock sounds at the door, quiet but still so loud over the sound of Tom Petty’s Don’t Come Around Here No More. Emilie sighs, pushing to her feet, and crosses the flat. She pulls the door open before the second round of knocking finishes, and Derek smiles sheepishly when his knuckles rap against her forehead. Her lips twitch in a forced facsimile of a smile, but she knows it falls flat when he and Monica exchange a pointed look.

Pushing past her, Derek heads straight for the cupboard with the glasses while Monica wraps her arms around Emilie’s shoulders. It’s all the permission Emilie needs; she falls apart in the warm strength of her friend’s arms. She hates feeling so weak, but here and now, she can’t imagine holding all of this inside. Not when her two best friends are here.

Waiting for your call, I’m sick. Call, I’m angry. Call, I’m desperate for your voice. Listening to the song we used to sing in the car, do you remember?

“C’mon, babe, let’s go sit down.”

Emilie follows Monica to the couch, sinking into the cushions, and lets out a shaky breath as her friend turns off the music. “Thanks for coming.”

“Oh, honey, of course we’d come. You need us, so… we’re here. I didn’t realise it was so bad,” she admits with a gesture to the phone on the coffee-table.

“Okay. Wine and Whine?” Derek asks as he sits on the couch to Emilie’s left.

She shakes her head but takes the glass of wine he offers. “It’s a bit more than a Whine, D.”

“So talk to us, let us help you.”

So Emilie does. She lays her entire heart and soul bare for her best friends to see. She shows every beaten, bruised part of her that she’s kept hidden, and she cries as she tells them how this isn’t much of a clean break and everything reminds her of Niall, of the way he made her feel so cared for and loved - until recently, that is. Every thought she has revolves around him in some fashion, made worse with guilt that Ryder is hurting, too. Emilie hesitates then admits that she doesn’t think they can come back from this.

Or if she even wants to.

Monica frowns, sympathy etched in every facet of her face, and she tugs Emilie into her side. “Oh, Beanie Baby. Did you tell him any of this?”

“No,” Emilie sniffles and swallows a mouthful of moscato, clearing her throat softly. “Why should I? I shouldn’t ha-have to remind someone who supposedly loves me that I’m still here. I shouldn’t have to tell him I’m an actual human being who’s worthy of attention, affection, and love.”

“But you’re not.”

Emilie turns betrayed eyes onto Derek, stunned speechless. Even Monica looks startled at his words. He sighs, sets his glass aside, and pulls Emilie’s free hand into his. His fingers don’t slot perfectly with hers, and she bites down on her lower lip to quell the hurt that rises. Her entire being yearns for the home she created with Niall, even though it’s impossible now.

“That’s the thing about love, Em. We don’t deserve it. No one is worthy of it, not without a lot of hard fucking work. But, even knowing that, we go out, and we find it. We fight for it. We hold it tight and let it go and repeat the cycle over and over until we die. But don’t think any of us is worthy of love like that if we’re not willing to put in the work.”

“As much as I disagree with how he said it, D-bag is right,” Monica murmurs as she runs a hand along Emilie’s back. “And Niall may be sexy as Hell and look like an angel on Earth, but Bean, he’s only human. He’s going to act like a jackass sometimes, much like you can be a stubborn little shit.”

“Is this supposed to be making me feel better?” Emilie asks, wincing when her voice cracks, and Monica huffs out a laugh.

“I’m just telling you the truth as I know it. Okay? He’s going to get so wrapped up in himself that he puts you to the side. I’m not saying it’s okay or that you should just accept it, but it’s a human thing. Nothing against you.”

Derek squeezes Emilie’s hand, smiles softly when she meets his eye. “You have to be the storm that opens his eyes. You have to walk right up to him and say ‘You’re treating me like shit, and I don’t deserve it’.”

“I love you, Bean, and I love Niall. I think you two are great for each other. I really hope you guys can work this out.”

“I... I don’t wanna talk about this any more.”

Derek and Monica exchange a look over Emilie’s head and prove their status as “best best friends ever” by shutting up, dropping the topic, and allowing Emilie to drink as much wine as she wants without any more talking. But Emilie knows they’re right.

She knows what she should have done, but it’s too late now. It has been a week since the fight. Since she left. Niall hasn’t called. Mully stopped calling the day after she and Ryder came back. Louis has only sent her one message, and that was an acknowledgement of her cancelling the play-date. What does this mean when none of them care any more?

Emilie settles in between her friends and slowly falls asleep in the middle of a Letterkenny marathon with her head in Derek’s lap, Monica’s hand a gentle pressure on her ankle, and her own heart breaking further at yet another night out of love.


Niall sighs heavily, pushing the car door shut. It’s been a long week, and he is so glad to be home again. He scrubs a hand over his face, ambles up the walk. A yawn forces itself out of him, his jaw letting out a cracking sound. He shakes his head to clear it of the fog that’s settled over his thoughts.

The last eight days have been, simply put, utter Hell. Every morning, in that split second between dreaming and awake, he’d rolled over in bed and reached for - no one. His hand kept stretching out, but it never met the familiar warmth of Emilie’s body. He was unable to eat any breakfast with how violently his stomach churned at the realisation that he was still alone, and something deep inside of him had reminded him, over and over, and over, that he shouldn’t have left like he did.

He should have waited for Emilie to come back. They should have talked about whatever was bothering her. Instead, he’d watched her leave with Ryder, went upstairs, and finished packing. Not coming back after the hours spent at 40 Love was the biggest mistake he could have made - that he did make. He wishes he had gone back home, even if it meant all they did was fight until the sun rose and he had to leave for his flight. That he had chosen to miss that flight, consequences be damned, so they had a chance to fix this.

Niall’s skin crawls as he steps over the threshold. The house is completely silent, which isn’t unexpected. It’s not even four in the afternoon, which means Emilie won’t be home for another hour. He closes the door behind him and freezes. The hairs on the back of his neck prickle, a shiver racing down his spine, and the eerie quiet lingers heavily, presses down on him. An alarm in the back of his mind pulsates, glowing red.

Walking through the house doesn’t give him any clues. Nothing is out of place: The remotes are on the tray, throw blanket folded over the back of the couch, and the dishes are put away in the kitchen. Everything is where it should be. It’s too quiet, even without Mully here. Niall makes his way up the stairs, straining his ears to hear anything.

Entering the bedroom, Niall spins to examine his surroundings. The bed has been made, and the hamper is empty. Not one piece of clothing is on the floor, which isn’t surprising - he’s the one who is guilty of dropping the occasional sock instead of getting it fully where it belongs. He can’t see anything that would cause such a permeating dread.

Then he does.

The empty hangers on the closet rod. The shelf devoid of her suitcase. His sweater - the one she claimed as hers before she even moved in - gone. Niall’s hand trembles, reaching for the switch, and he blinks rapidly in the sudden spark of light from the overhead bulb. His eyes haven’t deceived him.

Ryder’s nightlight is unplugged, sitting innocuously on his chest of drawers as if it isn’t an omen, but the outlet isn’t covered as it normally is. Emilie must have known no tiny fingers would be at risk of trying to jam themselves into the socket. His toys have been put away, and the drawers are nearly empty. The Paw Patrol pillow is missing from the bed. Lionel the Lion is nowhere to be found.

Niall stumbles from the room and down the stairs. His stomach threatens to expel his breakfast, but he forces the bile down as he scrolls through his contacts. The call goes straight to Emilie’s answerphone. Niall hangs up with a vicious stab of his thumb to button then scrolls again. Louis hasn’t heard from Emilie, and concern floods his words as he admits that she cancelled a play-date a few days ago.

“Mate, what’s going on?”

Niall swallows thickly, shoves his fingers through his hair. “I-I don’t know. She didn’t say anything to you?”

“She just said she was doing poorly and that she’d let me know when she felt better. Niall?”

“I think I fucked up,” he whispers; the words claw their way from his throat with all the grace of shattered glass.

Louis doesn’t have anything to say to that, but Niall has no expectations for a reply. He hangs up without bothering to say goodbye, scans the list of numbers in his phone. His thumb taps a name, though he certainly gave no permission.

“I see you’ve noticed she’s gone.”