Liam heard a whimper and looked up. He had never gone to sleep without reading, and never left a book with a cliffhanger. Which was why, at one thirty-seven in the morning, he was shining a light on his Kindle and going through the twenty-fourth chapter of Catching Fire. He surveyed the tour bus, but nothing seemed off; Zayn was sleeping in the corner, Harry had turned Louis’ chest into his pillow, both of them out cold, and Niall- no, Niall wasn’t alright. Niall never tossed or turned in his sleep; he was a cuddler, meaning that he picked a position and stayed there. But, when Liam went over to investigate, he noticed Niall’s hands clenching and unclenching, and a sheen of sweat on his forehead. He looked particularly pale, despite his fair skin, and Liam saw him kicking under the covers. “Niall,” he asked softly, getting up from his seat and walking over to Niall’s fully-reclined one.
“Help,” Niall whispered, the desperation in his voice more than heartbreaking, and Liam could tell that he was screaming in the dream. “Please! I’ll never survive!” He was reaching out now, grabbing for something to hold onto, so Liam gave him his hand. Niall latched onto it, squeezing tightly, and Liam could see a small amount of worry leave the lad’s face.
“It’s okay,” Liam reassured him, clutching his hand tightly. But it seemed like that wasn’t enough for him; Niall wrapped his free arm around Liam’s waist and pulled him down on top of him, wrapping his legs around his mate’s. The pink tinge on Liam’s cheeks darkened further when Niall groped his waist, then snatched onto his shirt, and pulled it roughly, then letting go.
“Now it is,” he whispered, wrapping his limbs around Liam’s body tightly. Despite his discomfort, Liam couldn’t pull away; Niall needed him, so he had to stay. But then the worry lines came back on Niall’s face.
“What’s wrong,” Liam asked, cupping Niall’s cheek his hand.
“It’s tangled!” Liam was utterly confused, and Niall was now at a speaking volume. “The chute, it’s tangled!”
“No, no, no, no, NO!” Over his shoulder, he heard Harry stir, and sit up. Liam lunged for his Kindle and held it, a shocked look on his face.
“What’s going on,” Harry groaned, clearly agitated about waking up. Liam looked up and prayed that he was still blushing.
“Sorry. It was a good part in the book and I got a little carried away.” Harry groaned again and entwined himself with Louis again.
“Well shut the hell up and go to sleep.” Liam chuckled and shut his light off.
“Love you too Curly.” He settled down next to Niall, and was instantly worried at the lad’s limp form. “Niall,” he asked gently, wrapping his arm around Niall’s shoulders and pulling him close. Niall whimpered, and Liam could feel something wet soaking into his shirt when the lad buried his face into his chest.
“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he whispered sadly, shaking with sobs. Liam swallowed nervously, worried about what Niall meant.
“I’m okay.” Niall shook his head.
“No,” he whispered. “You broke your neck Li. You’re dead.” Liam swallowed nervously, trying not to think about the chilling words, but unable to distract himself. Niall finally woke, nine hours later, and Liam rubbed his eyes. “Liam?”
“Morning,” he murmured, exhausted. Niall sat up, much more awake than anyone just waking up should have been.
“Oh my god Li! You look awful!” Liam chuckled.
“Thanks.” Niall frowned, and reached forward, brushing his cheek.
“Did you sleep at all last night?” Liam shook his head, stifling a yawn.
“No, but you didn’t sleep that well either.” Niall looked at him, confused.
“What do you mean?” Liam looked at him in disbelief.
“What do you mean, ’What do you mean?’ You had a night terror!” Niall swallowed nervously.
“N-no, I didn’t. Li, you’re really tired, try to get some sleep, okay?” Liam shook his head, but fatigue was slowly taking him over.
“I didn’t imagine it,” he protested, though the loud yawn that escaped his mouth a few seconds later didn’t exactly disprove Niall’s theory. “I’m only going to sleep because I didn’t get any last night,” Liam murmured, curling up next to Niall and shutting his eyes. “But I was wide awake when you had the dream at one.”
“Making you an insomniac,” Niall concluded, patting Liam’s head. The lad groaned in protest, but fell asleep only minutes after shutting his eyes. Niall readjusted himself to accommodate Liam and have his hands free, and was soon playing a four-way game of Pokémon Black and White with the rest of the lads, all starting from square one to make it tougher. As usual, Niall took Oshawott, Zayn took Snivy, and Harry and Louis both chose Tepig, and set to work going through the game, and as the hours passed, you could hear each of them coaching their Pokémon on quietly, or sighing in frustration after losing a battle.
“You’re dead Cheren,” Harry murmured, shouting, “Yes!” soon after. The lads looked up surprised; Harry never got ahead in the game, much less defeated Cheren his first try. Liam stirred, having heard his mate, and groggily opened his eyes, yawning widely.
“Hey, not fair! Don’t start without me,” he pouted, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Niall laughed and patted Liam’s head, passing him his DS. “Thank you,” Liam said happily, taking his system. “Oh perfect; I’m on the second gym.”
“NO FAIR!” He smirked at the outrage on the lad’s faces.
“Well, we started without him,” Niall countered, “so it is kind of fair.” The lads grumbled in disagreement, but quickly lost interest in anything other than Pokémon. This obsession lasted for hours on end, until they looked up and realized that the day had passed. Seeing as the only time they had stood up was to use the bathroom, all of them were rather sore, and exhausted from staring at the tiny screen of their DS all day. It was worth it to beat the game twice in their minds though.
“Is anyone else’s eyes burning like hell,” Harry asked, shutting his eyes tightly. They all copied his actions, tearing up a bit from the sting.
“Ow,” Liam murmured, rubbing his eyes to get rid of the sting. “Not only that, but I’m exhausted.” Niall chuckled and poked his cheek.
“Maybe you should go to bed before morning then.” Liam nodded.
“I’ll go to bed before the sun comes up then,” he said. Niall rolled his eyes and curled up into a ball, stretching his sweatshirt over his knees. “You know we have blankets right?”
“Shut up,” he murmured, shutting his eyes and drifting off to sleep, head resting on Liam’s chest. Harry chuckled and Louis snapped a photo.
“Niam is back,” he said, typing the words and tweeting them with the photo. Liam rolled his eyes and shut his own, his head falling to his side and resting on top of Niall’s. Louis snapped another photo, the first already having earned over seventy favorites within seconds. The lights on the bus dimmed and turned off. Liam watched the lads settle down, the street lamps- were they still street lamps on a highway?- illuminating the bus in flashes. As soon as he felt Niall’s breathing steady, the blonde began to fidget, grabbing fistfuls of Liam’s shirt.
“It’s okay,” Liam whispered, smoothing his hair. Niall whimpered and held onto him tighter.
“Don’t let them find us,” he murmured. “Don’t let them take me. They’re going to kill me.” Liam swallowed and shook Niall awake. The Irishman opened his eyes groggily and glared at Liam, trying not to look shaken up. “I was sleeping!” Liam looked at him, dumbfounded.
“You were having a night terror!” Niall shook his head, but felt himself go weak with terror.
“N-no I wasn’t! You have to s-stop with this; I… I need to sleep. Go over there a-and don’t help me with this ‘night terror’ thing. You can’t help if… if it doesn’t happen.” Liam shook his head, but repositioned away from Niall and forced himself not to help when he heard him whimpering.
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,” he repeated over and over, finally falling into a fitful sleep.
If anyone wasn’t awake before Niall, they sure as hell were when he shrieked at eight in the morning. Liam jumped up, almost relieved that Niall finally remembered. “You were right,” he said, rocking back and forth. “I-It was awful. They- they started filling a room with acid and I was locked in it.” Liam winced at the thought and wrapped his arm around Niall, trying to calm him down. “And I didn’t die. It hurt so badly.”
“I told you,” Liam said gently. Niall looked down.
“I-I knew about the other two. I just… I didn’t want you to think I was a baby.” Liam’s jaw dropped.
“Are you kidding me?! Why the hell would I think you were a baby for being afraid of being dissected and falling out of an airplane?!”
“And drowning in a whirlpool, falling into a volcano, having the bungee cord snap, squeezed to death by an anaconda, watching those I love have their heads chopped off, lost in a hall of mirrors trying to save someone, and the classic ‘Getting Fired By Simon,” Niall added softly. “One every single night for the past week or so.” The other lads were rubbing their eyes and yawning, but none seemed terribly upset about being woken once they saw Niall.
“What’s wrong Ni?”
“You look a bit pale.”
“Bad dream?” Niall nodded.
“Y-yeah, but I’m okay. Sorry that I got you up.” One by one, they went back to their own makeshift beds and dozed off.
“Why’d you send them away?”
“I don’t know,” Niall admitted. “I just thought that… well you’d always be worried about us, and that’s enough for me to go to you. If they don’t have to worry about me, then that’s better. They’re already protective over me but... there’s only so much they can do, you know? You’re the only one that goes the extra mi- eight miles to take care of us.” Liam blushed slightly. “You gotta take care of us cuz you’re our Daddy,” Niall said in a baby voice, making the blush on Liam’s cheeks darken.
“Okay. I’ll take care of you,” Liam promised. Niall relaxed instantly and sighed, resting his head on Liam’s chest. “Nicola used to get night terrors all the time.”
“What were they about?” Liam sighed.
“Someone locking her in a freezer. Every single time.” Niall paled, but Liam chuckled.
“What’s so funny about that?!”
“Well it turned out that she was just cold.” Niall smiled softly, but only for a moment.
“Well I think that I’ve got a bit of a different problem, if you haven’t noticed.” Liam nodded, trying to think about any connection that the dreams had to each other.
“Well, in all of them, someone dies or comes close to dying.” Niall sighed.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better or something? Because it doesn’t.” Liam shook his head.
“It’s a start. You sleep on your back for one thing.” Niall looked at him puzzled.
“The hell does that have to do with anything?”
“It makes it more likely for you to have bad dreams.”
“Are you making this up?” He shook his head.
“Nicola had these too, remember?” Niall nodded. “We spent hours trying to figure out how to help.” He paused for a moment, then snapped his fingers. “When was the last time you called home?”
“A month ago maybe.”
“Were you worried about them recently?” Niall paused.
“Come to think of it… yeah, I was. Greg just got married, you know? So, I was hoping to check in on him… and it turned out that he was in the hospital. I didn’t find out why though, so I was really worried. I still don’t know if he’s okay.” Liam nodded.
“That’s probably why. You want to call him?” Niall swallowed and shook his head. “Why not?”
“He’s mad at me.”
“Our fans crashed the wedding,” Niall muttered, annoyed. Liam sighed.
“Give me your phone.” Niall sighed and passed it to Liam, who dialed Greg’s number.
“Actually, Liam. Mind if I put you on speaker?”
“Sure.” He certainly didn’t sound upset. “What’s up?”
“Niall didn’t know why you were in the hospital and he’s been having nightmares about people dying and that’s probably why, but he thought you were mad at him for our fans at your wedding, which I’m sorry about by the way, so he was too scared to call you,” Liam spat out. Niall blushed darkly, but Greg laughed.
“Please, don’t worry about it.” Niall sighed.
“Why are you in the hospital though?”
“No no, I’m fine; Denise was feeling faint. Mom said she told you.” Niall blushed.
“I may have kind of, possibly, maybe hung up in shock once she said you were in the hospital.” Greg chuckled.
“Of course you would Nialler. You’ve been having nightmares?”
“Y-yeah. Drowning, falling from airplanes, seeing the lad’s heads cut off, stuff like that.” Greg seemed shocked.
“That’s a step up from Creepy Doll in the Closet.” Liam chuckled. “You should have seen him.” Niall blushed.
“How was I supposed to know Bratz feet pop off with their shoes? That’s scary for a five year old!”
“You fainted when I twisted a Barbie head around backwards.”
“Nice talking to you bro,” Niall said, eager to hang up before Greg could say anything more. He laughed.
“Fine, I’ll go. I’m fine, okay?” Niall nodded.
“Bye.” Liam smiled softly.
“Are you going to get chased by Barbies tonight?” Niall blushed darkly.
“Maybe. I’m still tired though, but I still get the nightmares, no matter when I sleep.” He sighed. “It’s too early to be up,” he decided, snuggling up against Liam, who rubbed his back soothingly. “Wake me up if it happens again,” Niall whispered, dozing off moments later. Liam nodded and let Niall rest. One hour.
And then he woke up.
“You okay?” Niall smiled softly.
“Yeah. I’m okay. I had a dream though.” Liam looked at him nervously.
“I was putting nails in the wall. And using a Barbie doll as a hammer.”