Chapter 9: After The Fact
Chapter 9: After The Fact.
I stood looking out over the crowd as we finished the song. I clung to my anger and turned it into passion as we sang. With all the lights of the stadium on me I somehow still felt like I was in complete darkness.
I had meant every single word of what I said to her and I was right, I knew that…I think. I still found myself feeling guilty though and I hated it because what she’s been doing to Zayn and I, forcing a wedge in the band between two brothers, stringing us along for months, it’s wrong, I know that. I took a breath, what I did was right, I shouldn’t feel bad. She was just keeping Zayn as a back up because she was too scared to put herself in the position of being hurt by hurting someone else. She was being selfish delaying us all this time keeping us both in her pocket never really choosing one or the other like she could stay that way forever. But you can’t live your life on the fence, eventually you have to choose and she just wouldn’t.
So I decided right there she had lost me, there was nothing she could do to get me back now. If she was going to act this way she wasn’t someone who deserved my love anyway. I knew it would take me a long time to get over her because I did love her, more than words can describe but, I needed to move on. She would revert to Zayn by default and I would just have to live with that for months while we toured together. It was going to be hell at first but I would get through it.
As we sang the last few notes and the music began fading out, from the corner of my eye I saw something out of place that caught my attention. I turned to look just in time to catch a glimpse of Jessica as she pulled me in and gave me a kiss that shattered my world. My mind desperately grasped for my anger, my resolve to leave her behind while my heart rocketed from my chest. I could have flown in that moment in time when her hands were on my face and her lips were caressing mine and suddenly it was just me and her. There were hundreds of thousands of people out there and four other people on that stage but in that moment there was no one else. Just me and her.
She pulled away and the scene overwhelmed my senses as I came back from what ever planet we had gone to. The mixed shouts of the crowd came roaring back in my ear and the bright lights of the stage and the four people staring at us in awe across the way reappeared and I was able to stubbornly hold onto my previous resolution a little longer.
“It’s you, it’s always been you from the beginning,” She started tearing up and all I wanted to do was hold her tight and sooth away her tears but if I couldn’t resist her now I never would, “I had always had a crush on you and I didn’t even know you then but there was something about you!” She was shouting a little even though it was becoming less necessary as the crowds began listening to her instead of yelling. “Then when I got to know you, you only got better and I guess it was fate or God or something that put you in my head to begin with and you were right I was afraid and it was that fear that lead me to you! I was so terrified of hurting you like I have with so many others and that fear was keeping me tied to Zayn because it was so strong because I’ve never felt like this about anyone before!”
A tear rolled down her cheek and I started to realize she wasn’t keeping Zayn as a back-up at all, she was keeping him because she thought that’s who she ought to be with. She thought it would be selfish to take me knowing I was more like the guys she had broken before; knowing that what she was risking was not only her own heart but mine too. I remembered her telling me about all that happened to her before. She was a heart breaker and she hated it. She told me of the guys she wanted when they were forbidden but dropped when they became available and she told me about how she was so sure before they showed interest in her and then she would kick herself when she would fail taking the same risk over and over. I felt like a complete ass. “I was scared and I still am, I’m terrified, but I’m willing to move past it if you’ll still have me, forgive me.” She pleaded letting her hands drop to my shoulders but never breaking her gaze.
I didn’t expect all this, I mean who would? I knew we were going to get an ear full for this later but that didn’t matter now. I looked away as the crowds chanted for me to forgive her. This was not something I expected, though, specifically from her. She was stubborn and not the type to admit she was wrong but here she was, standing in front of me asking for forgiveness. I knew then that she meant every word. I saw it in her eyes and even though she was afraid she might hurt me I wasn’t, not at all. I looked back to her and replied with the only answer that anyone could, “Of course.” I stated simply and let a smile spread across my face.
Without thinking I did what I had been longing to do for quite some time. I pulled her into my arms and pressed my lips against hers more gently and sweetly now, contrasting the quick, hard, surprise kiss she had planted on me. She didn’t pull away and she didn’t protest she kissed me too and it tasted so sweet, she tasted so sweet. Her now gentle lips moved lithely on mine and it seemed as though this is where she fit. The curve of her full lips molded perfectly to mine. I hugged her close and spun her around and the crowd went wild as they watched a love story play out in front of them. Louis came over to lighten the moment and wrapped his arms jokingly around us both and the other boys one by one came too and I just laughed.
Even Zayn came over and joined our group hug and I smiled as I felt his forehead rest on mine comfortably. Maybe we’d be ok, maybe we’d make it after all, maybe this would become something beautiful. Maybe, after all this time, we’d make it out alive and well, and stronger than ever. It was a big thing to dream but if I never dreamed big I wouldn’t be standing here right now with my princess and my four best friends making millions doing what we love.
The lights went out and I snapped out of my dream world. Maybe everything would be ok but right now we all knew it wasn’t. What we did on stage here was not going to go over well with our management or Jessica’s. The other boys left us and Jessica frantically stole a few more kisses before she left to face alone the first wave of anger. I held onto her hands as long as I could before they slipped out of my fingers and whispered more to myself “It’ll be ok.” I hoped.
We finished our set and the whole time I was a mixture of elated and worried though I was still able to stay focused on the music somehow. I felt drunk or high or something from that kiss that just made my world stop and then I felt anxious for the blows we were going to have to take from management. We got off stage after our encore and Jessica was waiting for us when we returned and to my surprise she didn’t look sad she looked…giddy? I couldn’t believe Oscar hadn’t given her an ear full for the stunt we pulled. There she was though I lightly jogged over to her and she squealed and greeted me flinging her arms around my neck and pressing her lips firmly against mine.
"You will not believe what happened!" She chimed after she pulled away.
I got back stage and Oscar’s eyes burned into me like all the fires of hell. I cringed. He pulled me far from the stage and into my dressing room. I shivered at the thought of being alone with him right now.
"What. The. Hell. Was that little performance hmm!?” He boomed furiously once the door shut. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to speak, “No! No, I don’t want to hear it, do you know what kind of response we’re going to get from this? I can see the headlines now! Their fans are going to rip you apart, not to mention One Direction’s management! These sort of things have to be dealt with fragily like they’re damn snow flakes! I forbid you to get involved with him! We just started this damn tour and I will not have you ruin it with any high school boy drama bull shit! This is Hollywood for god’s sake! Relationships between celebrities last a matter of weeks!” he rubbed his forehead pacing back and forth. He sighed and sat down. I stared at him unable to speak. Forbid me? I thought of having to be without Niall after all of this, after that kiss.
"Oscar please you can’t tell me I can’t be with him, please." I begged needing his approval though still not meeting his glare.
"Oh absolutely not, you didn’t think you were going to get away with this did you? After a week or so we’ll have some big dramatic break up, you aren’t to see him outside of work, and you will do exactly as I say do you understand?" My heart sped up and my chest tightened. No, this can’t be happening. He can’t do this to me. He can’t do this to me!
"No." I looked up at him now with conviction.
"Excuse me?" He demanded.
"No. I will not break up with him, I will not leave him, I will see him when ever I want, I will not do as you say. I am a person not a slave, you. Can’t. Make me." I hissed through clenched teeth. "Niall and I will be together and I don’t care about you, or their management, or the press, or the fan hate, or snow flakes, or any of that shit, I will have my Niall and you can’t force us apart." I finished finally standing up to Oscar, something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I was tired of him running my life even if he did run my career right to the top that didn’t give him the right to treat me like he owned me. He stood there angry and defeated but I saw a flash of pride in his eyes. Like I said Oscar cared about me and what he did for me he believe he did for the best. "I know you’re trying to do what’s best for me but, I need him, I…." Love him. I realized quickly just how much that was true.
"We’ll monitor the response and see how it goes." He compromised not wanting to lose his position as the final word. He pulled up twitter on his phone. I crossed my fingers losing a lot of the courage I had before. His face changed in a way I couldn’t read. "Well," He said his brows furrowing together. I waited for him to finish but he didn’t.
"Well what!?" I asked trying to see around to the twitter page. I stared in awe of the response already flooding the page. I laughed once. "They loved it!" I laughed again and then it started bubbling out of me like a flood gate being opened. "They loved it! They love us together!" I nearly screamed. "I can’t believe it!" I kissed Oscar hard on the cheek and skipped giddily around the room.
"Well I guess I can’t argue with that." He shook his head completely perplexed at the overwhelming response. It was the big speech that did it. Before I spoke they thought I was just another A-list pop princess taking away one of their boys but once they heard I had been a fan it was like I became a whole other person. I began going through the tweets from the fans while I waited for them to be done with their last couple of songs. There was a moderate amount of hate, obviously, but not nearly as much as was expected in fact less than I would expect for anyone.
When I heard them finishing their last song I jumped up and ran out to meet them. I saw Niall’s worried face change to a very cute very confused one as he jogged towards me. As soon as he was far enough from the stage I threw my arms around him and stole another sweet kiss.
"You’ll never guess what happened!" I squealed pulling back looking him in the eyes. I giggled at his adorable expression.
"What?" He asked confused.
"They love us! Our fans love us!" I kissed him again relishing in the new found freedom. He pulled away now.
"Really? You’re not getting hate?" He was starting to get excited now too.
"Barely! I think it’s because I was a fan before and it sort of gives them hope ya know? Oscar was really mad at first but when he saw how much they loved the stunt he couldn’t argue with the reaction and he’s going to let us stay together!" He beamed from ear to ear and for a moment all was well. Until,
"Zayn come on!" Louis shouted, I looked over to see Zayn storming off through the double doors to the dressing rooms. My face fell.
"I should go to him." Niall began but I shook my head and stopped him.
"No this is my mess. I did this. It’s on me." I ran after Zayn trying to catch up before he locked himself in his dressing room but I had no such luck. Louis, Liam, and Harry were already at the door trying to talk to him. I walked up and shushed them all moving them out of the way. I knocked softly on the door. "Zayn? Can we talk?" I asked tenderly. It was silent for a while and then I heard the knob begin to turn and Zayn opened the door. He pulled me in quickly and shut the door. Not looking at me he sat on the couch sulking and rightfully so. I sat next to him and placed my hand on his that rested on his knee. He stared at it but didn’t move. I ducked to look him in the eyes. "Zayn-"
"No," He interrupted, "it’s….not ok, but I’ll live. You made your choice, I knew this was a possibility." He bit his lip choking back tears. "I…I saw you two you know?" He glanced up at me, "When you were dancing. The way you looked at each other I knew….you never looked at me the way you looked at him…" He shook his head, "I never looked at you the way he did either, and I don’t think I ever could." He smiled sadly and I let my forehead rest against his temple eager to repair the connection between us. I didn’t want to lose Zayn as a friend, a friend I could be so close with. "He cares about you a lot Jess," He moved to look at me sternly now. "Don’t hurt him, please. I know he loves you more than me and I never want him to feel the way I do now much less worse. Just promise me you made the right decision. That’s all I ask." He pleaded. I didn’t even think before I said,
"I did." I realized only after it left my mouth how much I meant it. It was as if the decision was as sure as the sun rising in the east. Zayn smiled at me, it was a little broken and it didn’t set quite right but it was a smile and it was genuine and that made me smile too.
"Don’t worry about me Jess I’ll find someone that makes me feel the way Niall does about you eventually." He looked at me with his sad hazel eyes and I just pulled him into me.
"I know you will, and she will be wonderful." I whispered into his shoulder. We stayed like that far longer than any normal hug lasted. It wasn’t romantic, at least for me, it was just me in his arms and him in mine and it would take a while but I think we could be this. We could be this kind of friends and have it not be awkward. I prayed I was right, I may not love him in the same way as Niall but I did love him. I did need him. I pulled away and looked him in the eyes.
"Are you ok?" I asked intently.
"I will be." He nodded and smiled a little. I placed my lips lightly on his cheek and lingered before I pulled away and got up. I took a breath. "AAAAAHHHH!" I yelled and it startled Zayn. His head snapped up to look at me now smiling at him.
"What was that for?" He half laughed.
"It was too quiet, too serious." I said simply and I saw a full smile spread across his face. It worked.
"You’re insane." He got up and planted a hard kiss on my forehead. Before walking to the door. He froze at the handle and turned back to me. "Thanks, you really know just what to say and do sometimes." He smirked opening the door to the four other boys and Ariana with an assortment of worried looks. He looked at them all soberly for a moment before letting a smile paint his face. "What’s with all the long faces?" He got Niall in a headlock and ruffled his blonde hair. "We just finished our first show! It’s about time we get a drink!" He paused looking at Ariana, "You’re welcome too, of course." He added happily. She smiled and nodded.
"You do drink I hope?" Louis through his arm around her shoulder, "These two," motioning to me and Liam, "don’t drink. Don’t like to have fun I suppose." He rolled his eyes, they always made fun of Liam and I for our choice to stay away from alcohol.
"Hey! Someone’s got to drive you idiots home!" Liam pulled me next to him from my waste and I stumbled laughing. This was the way it was supposed to be, all of us together, laughing, having fun.
"Besides it’s more fun to mess with you guys if we’re sober, especially this one." I pointed to Niall who turned to walk backwards to look at me. He slowed so he could pull me in his arms and kiss me.
"Not tonight." He said, "Tonight, I’m getting you drunk." He smiled devilishly turning to the side so we could walk forward with the others again. He stole me away from Liam’s side with his arm hung around me finally glad to call me his. I was nervous about this. I had no doubt that Niall could in fact convince me to get drunk and I was a bit uneasy because I had never been drunk before. I’d had alcohol plenty but I didn’t like it so I didn’t feel like drinking enough of it to get me drunk. The closest I’ve come is being a tiny bit impaired, like I turned my head and there was this millisecond delay in my vision but that’s all.
"Jessica or Liam’s room will probably be the most stocked already since they’re mister and mrs. sober." Louis teased.
"I vote a drunken game of truth or dare in Jessica’s room!" Harry motioned.
"Harry! No!" I protested.
"Sounds like a great idea to me!" Ariana piped in. I shot her a playfully betrayed look.
"I agree!" Niall said to my surprise. I hit him in the side, he was my boyfriend now, he should agree with me!
"So it’s settled!" Louis shouted.
"Drunken truth or dare!" Zayn agreed.
"Uggghh!" I moaned. This was going to be interesting.