Fucking hell. I was living with the repercussions of what happened on New Years.
I thought that this year was going to be a good one but it was starting off like shit. Me and H split a cab back to my place around one after I sat around in the side room trying to rack my brain for solutions. I had Kaine infuriated at me even though I wasn't the one who initiated anything, it was all her. I wasn't going to say anything until the morning to Harry so I just stayed silent on the ride home.
"Niall? You up?" Harry asked walking into my room at ten the next morning.
"Yeah I am now." I said rolling off my side and onto my back.
"Wanna get breakfast?" he asked.
"Yeah, like a half hour? Just want to lay around for a while." I said patting the empty spot in the bed next to me.
"You alright? Hungover?" he asked laying down next to me.
"Yeah that's it." I said covering up the real problem.
I scrolled through Twitter on my phone to pass some time and try to clear my head of last night but it was no luck. H and I finally got up at eleven and he borrowed some clothes from me. We walked to the diner around the block from me and got set up in a booth with coffee and menus.
"So did that suit work in your favor last night?" I asked him sipping from my mug.
"You better believe it did." he nodded. "But you know it got cut short once I started talking to Charlotte. I was getting glances from a bunch of her friends anyway and before I was with her but it worked nonetheless."
"How is she?" I asked.
"I've gotta give it to her she's a tough shell to crack. She's sarcastic as hell so I couldn't really figure out if she was ever actually mad about anything but I think she just had her guard up, you know?" he said.
"Yeah I got ya." I said.
"She wouldn't even let me kiss her at midnight it was weird so I kissed Louis instead." he said.
"Are you serious?" I laughed.
"Yeah sadly I am. Lou was a good snog I will say. But he was kissing everyone he was so wasted, Van didn't know what hit him." he said.
"I would've liked to see that." I laughed.
The waitress took our order and refilled our coffee which stalled the immanent conversation we would have. I picked up my phone to stall it further but I could just tell the words were on the tip of his tongue.
"Where'd you disappear off to last night?" he asked.
"I went upstairs to take a piss." I said hoping that would satisfy his answer.
"Yeah, but after that." he urged.
"Do we have to talk about it now?" I asked in a hushed voice.
"God Niall, what'd you do?" he matched my volume.
"It wasn't what I did, it was what she did." I said.
"She, who?" he asked cautiously.
"Who do you think." I said.
"Niall, no, you didn't." he said.
"I didn't, she did." I shook my head.
"Kaine kissed you?" he asked.
"You could say that." I shrugged.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean, it was more than a kiss." I said.
"You did not sleep with her." he said.
"Oh god no, no, no." I said.
"The quit being cryptic and just tell me." he said.
"Well I was just sitting on a couch upstairs with a beer and she came over to me and straddled my lap and kissed me. But then she didn't stop kissing me." I said.
"Okay, go on." he said.
"So we were kissing for a while in there but then she pulled me off into a room with nobody in it and I was drunk so I followed without questioning and she pushed me down on the couch and got back on top of me and started making out with me. But I didn't stop her, so I know I have fault in this too." I shrugged.
"That's it?" he asked.
"I was feeling her up, nothing too serious though. I think she's got her nipple pierced." I said.
An older woman looked over at us and started shaking her head disgusted. She shouldn't have been listening in on our conversation anyway but I lowered my voice a little bit to appease her.
"But she kept grinding into me and H, she was, eh, having an effect on me, and she was definitely enjoying herself too but she all of the sudden jumped off of me after like ten minutes and started yelling at me like I forced her to do that." I explained.
"She has her nipple pierced?" he asked.
"Seriously, you're stuck on that." I groaned.
"Sorry, that's just sexy as hell." he said.
"You're telling me, she's sexy as hell." I sighed. "But she was yelling at me saying I should've been thinking of Everett and that it was my fault because I looked good and I have been fucking with her head."
"I truly don't know what to say." he said when the food was placed in front of us.
"I'm just hoping she doesn't remember the extent of it, she was really drunk." I said.
"Yeah, things might get pretty weird between you." he said.
We ate in silence for a while but I kept thinking about what Kira said to me before she left. About that spark and how she just couldn't ignore it anymore. Maybe, just maybe, Kaine was starting to feel the air between us but was trying to turn her blind eye to his but when she was drunk she couldn't help but act on it.
"Why is she putting the blame on me?" I asked.
"Maybe because you were in the same position as Everett is right now not long ago. Maybe she expected you to put yourself in his shoes and just back off." he said with a mouthful of French toast.
"Even though I initiated nothing? Even though it was her who straddled me?" I asked. "When she first got on top of me I put my arms behind my head trying to signal it was a bad idea. But then when she started kissing me how could I stop."
"I'd just give it the weekend to cool off, maybe she doesn't even remember anything happened." he offered.
Monday morning I got into the office early and started looking over the drafts of the Pacific Whiskey branding that were on Harry's desk. We were supposed to have the branding finalized by the end of the week so I could go on to start setting up the new website. It really was coming along, it looked a thousand times better than how the old branding looked.
I sat behind my desk and started getting to work for most of the morning. Van came in and sat at the other edge of my desk finishing up the last of his code boot camp and asking me little questions from time to time.
"Alright, I think that I'm done. I think that's it." he said sitting back in his chair.
"You made it." I said. "Are you glad I made you do it?"
"Not right now, but I know eventually I'm gonna be." he said.
"Alright, go sit with Lou and Arlo and design something." I said.
"Dear god thank you Niall." he said grabbing his laptop and leaving my cube.
I looked up from my computer to get Harry's attention. He had his head laid down on his desk and he was breathing was heavy.
"H?" I said and he didn't stir.
I threw a paperclip at him to see if he'd react and he just kept on sleeping. I tossed a few more at him until he turned his head the other way and wrinkled his nose.
"Harry." I said again tossing one more paperclip.
"Mm?" he hummed.
"You can't sleep at work buddy." I said.
"Shit." he said in his raspy morning voice and picked his head up. "I was up coughing all night. I'm getting sick."
"What happened?" I asked.
"You know that Charlotte?" he asked.
"Yeah." I nodded.
"She had me go on a run with her yesterday morning and it was -3 outside and we did like six miles and then nothing else after." he said. "I can't tell if she's just trying to play hard to get or if she's severely uninterested. Now I'm just sick as a dog."
"Are you interested in her?" I asked.
"I mean, yeah, I'd like to take her out on a date to get to know her a little but she's just not putting out any vibes. I thought maybe we'd like get breakfast after our run yesterday but we ended outside her apartment and she just said bye and went inside. No nothing." he said.
"Very strange. Kaine did say she was tough to crack though." I said. "Have you talked to Kaine by the way?"
"No, haven't seen her since New Years. Are you gonna bring it up?" he asked pulling a tissue out of the box.
"I don't want to, but I've gotta know." I said.
"Good luck with that." he said and blew his nose.
I got up and went into the break room to make a cup of coffee. I went to grab my usual mug out of the cupboard but realized I had gifted it to Kay. I took that mug and my one with the rainbow down the side out and made two cups and fixed hers the way I knew she liked it. I carried the mugs over to the reception desk and waited until Kaine was done talking on the phone.
"Hey." I said handing her the mug.
She just stared at me and didn't take it.
"Uh, I just thought you might want a cuppa." I said.
She looked back down at her computer screen and kept typing away.
"Listen, Kaine, I'm sorry, I don't know how much you remember about the oth-" I began.
"No. You listen to me Niall. You took advantage of me and embarrassed me and put me in such a horrible situation. You know about Everett and you know he's not going anywhere and if you don't step away from this desk in two seconds I'm filing a sexual harassment report with HR." she said harshly taking the mug off the counter and diverting her gaze back to her computer.
I took a step back from the desk not knowing how I was supposed to react to her words. I didn't even consider the fact that I was her superior at work and could get into deep shit if she actually did file anything. I knew she wouldn't and that she was using her victim position against me but I was still shocked she would bring it up. I went back over to my desk and placed my mug down before sitting. I rubbed my temples which gained a look from Harry again.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Oh she remembers what happened clear as day and doesn't even want to look at me. Threatened me with a sexual harassment report to get me away from her." I said.
"Shit Niall. I don't know if this is going to resolve itself easily." he said.
"I just hope it does eventually." I shrugged.
"I don't think I can head to the gym after work today, I feel like shit." H said.
"I'll ask Nate when I see him if he will." I said. "Want me to bring you dinner?"
"You're my savior." he nodded.
"That corned beef, slaw, and swiss sandwich from that deli around the corner from mine? And their chicken soup?" I asked.
"Holy shit that sounds amazing." he said.
"Lay your head back down for a while I'll keep an eye out for you." I said.
"Thanks mate, I appreciate it more than you know." he said.
I went to get up from my desk to go over to Nate's as Kaine was delivering something to my cube and I collided with her.
"Sorry, I didn't see you there." I mumbled backing away from her.
She looked me down with that icy stare making me feel ten times smaller than she already made me today.
"These have to be signed and post marked to the LA corporate office by the end of the day." she said coldly and dropped the other set on Harry's desk before walking away.
"Thanks." I called after her.
I walked over to Nate's cube and leaned on the edge of it.
"Wanna come to the gym with me after work?" I asked.
"I've gotta run home and grab clothes after I get out of here but sure." he nodded.
"I apparently have to go to the post office anyway so I'll just meet you at yours at like 5:30 give or take?" I asked.
"That's good yeah. You've gotta show me Harry's arm workout." he said.
"You're gonna be eternally sore if you do it after not doing anything." I said.
"It'll be worth it. Have you seen the arms on that guy?" he laughed.
"Yeah he makes me look like a gawky kid when I workout with him." I nodded.
"Alright just come on up to my place when you get there." he said.
I got back to my desk and looked over the papers Kaine handed me earlier. Harry, myself, and three other older employees were invited to take a trip out to the LA headquarters to start interviewing employees for the working branch Wolfe was opening. Our Christmas numbers came back and we had enough profit that we were going to be able to hire close to forty people in Los Angeles for a second branch.
We were going the middle of February and they were getting our accommodations settled by the end of the day Friday. I finished filling out all the information they needed and grabbed Harry's and filled his out as well. I woke him back up around one so he could do a little work.
At the end of the day I packed my things in my knapsack and drove off to the post office to mail the forms. I drove another 10 blocks and ended up at Nate's place which he buzzed me in to. I got up to his floor with my gym bag in hand and wiggled the handle of the door finding it was locked. I knocked loudly waiting to be let in and the door swung open with Ethan behind it.
"Oh, sorry, I can just wait out here until Nate gets here." I said backing away slowly.
"Just come in Niall, as long as you don't start swinging at me again." he said stepping aside.
I walked into their apartment and made my way to the couch seeing a bunch of boxes all around the room.
"You know that black eye you gave me lasted me until Christmas." I said sitting down trying to get a laugh out of him.
"You did quite the number on me too." he smiled.
"I'm really so sorry. I shouldn't have done that, obviously. It was stupid, all in the moment you know? I was just caught off guard with you guys there together I had just seen the picture and counted the months, I wasn't expecting you to sh-" I babbled on and on.
"Slow down." he cut me off. "I'm sorry too, what I did was a dick move and you didn't deserve any of that." he said sitting in the chair across from me.
"Truce?" I asked holding out my hand.
"Truce." he said shaking it.
"When ya headed out to San Diego?" I asked.
"Less than a week, I've got a job lined up starting in a couple weeks but I've gotta ship all these boxes there first and get settled it's been quite the task." he groaned.
"Believe me I know it. Moving across an ocean and all you know?" I said.
"Oh shit I never really thought of that." he laughed.
"Yeah this isn't exactly a Brooklyn accent I moved from a bit farther that that." I joked. "Uh, how's Kira? How'd she do moving back?" I asked.
"She's good, her parents helped her set up our apartment so far and I think she's glad to be back in sunshine the majority of the time. Did you talk to her before she left?" Ethan asked.
"Yeah, we got lunch and just settled things. You're lucky, she's a real piece but she was the best four years I had. You guys are gonna have a pretty happy life together if it's anything like how our relationship started." I reminisced.
It was true, the four years I had with Kira post college were some of the happiest ones I had. In the early days we were unstoppable and just in total bliss with each other. Both of us wondering how we had gotten so lucky. If Ethan's relationship with her was anything like what we had then he was in for the biggest treat.
"I'm just really sorry how this all came to be man." he shrugged.
"Nothing can change it now. But she says you two are electric together and it's better off this way. I truly am happy for you two." I nodded.
"Thank you." he smiled.
"Me and H are gonna be in LA in the middle of February, so you know maybe if you're both free us four could meet up for drinks or something, no punches this time." I said.
"Kira actually has to commute there either once or twice a week so I'm sure she'd be up for it. As long as there's no bloody noses you know?" he laughed.
"Let me tell ya, I left for Ireland on the 18th and it still looked horrible and that was a week after you hit me but it was still there on Christmas, my brother asked me about it I couldn't believe it stuck around that long." I said. "And I've got a tiny little scar in my eyebrow now from where you broke the skin."
"Oh yeah I've got one of those on my cheek too." he said pointing it out.
It wasn't a normal thing to reminisce about a fight you had been in with the guy your girlfriend had been cheating on you with in such a light matter. There wasn't anything we could do about it though other than just laugh.
"Eh, can I ask ya something? Before Nate gets back here, I don't want him knowing yet." I said.
"Sure what is it?" he asked.
"When ya first got eh, physical, with Kira did she resist you at first?" I asked.
"Oh she was infuriated the first time I kissed her, she kept going on about you and yelling at me, it didn't last though as you can tell." he said.
"So it passed then." I nodded.
"Yeah, but I did feel like an ass because I knew you existed, but I couldn't wait any longer." he said. "Why?"
"Ya know that girl that cussed Kira out at the bar that night?" I asked and he nodded. "She's got a boyfriend but I'm kinda in the same type of situation as you were. We were together on New Years and she was all over me, and I didn't quite resist them but now she won't talk to me." I said.
"You guys have chemistry?" he asked.
"Yeah." I nodded knowing that it was true.
"It'll pass." he said. "Might take a little but if there's chemistry there's something."
"Hope you're right." I said scratching my eye.
"It's the timing that ends up being a huge bitch." he added for good measure.
Just as I was about to answer Nate barged in the door tossing his things to the side.
"Woah, should you two be allowed together unsupervised?" Nate joked.
"Shut the hell up and get changed." I said.
"See? No new bruises or blood or black eyes. We're fine." Ethan said.
"I might be taking swings at him for giving me such a short time to find a new roommate." Nate said and walked into his room to get dressed.
"I'm paying my half of next month's rent you can relax." he called after him.
"He doesn't want to get hit by you, I'll tell you that much." I said. "Wait, here's a question for ya, did Kira only hate Nate because she knew he could blow her cover?"
"I never really noticed, I was never with both of them at once." he shrugged.
"Whenever I used to bring him up to her she would always cringe at his name and wrinkle her nose up." I said.
"I mean he's a lot to handle, that could also have something to do with it." he laughed as Nate walked back out.
"Ready Niall?" Nate asked.
"Yeah I'm good." I said.
"Well, glad we patched things up a little man." Ethan said standing up and putting out his hand.
"Maybe I'll see you next month sometime." I said grabbing his hand and clapping his back with my other. "Treat her well mate." I added pulling away from him.
"I will, you know I will." he nodded.
Nate watched the whole thing go down in astonishment that we weren't at each other's throats. We head off to the gym where I was his motivator but I was shit at it compared to how Harry normally was for me. After about an hour we quit and went to my place to shower off before grabbing dinner and bringing it to H. I made my way to the counter and grabbed a number from the roll and made my way back to Nate while we waited for it to be called out.
"How'd it end up going the other night with that girl?" I asked him.
"Oh, Sutton? Kaine's right she's way out of my league but I think we might have clicked. I got her number and she said she'd call me sometime after I fucked her in a bathroom." he said.
"Charming." I said shaking my head.
"Hey she's the one who pulled me in there. Kaine said she was really sweet but she must not know how freaky she gets when there's someone balls de-" he said.
"Nate, we're in public." I cut him off.
"Alright, alright you little prude." he said laughing.
Our number got called and we ordered all our food and walked back to my car parked on the street.
"You know why Kaine was in such a bad mood today? I hadn't seen her since the party." he asked.
"My fault." I said feeling the heat rise in my cheeks.
"What do you mean 'my fault?'" he questioned.
"We got into a fight that night, she's not thrilled with me." I answered as honestly as I could sparing the details.
"Alright well there's more to that story." he urged.
"Fine, I was upstairs on a couch and she came over hammered as hell and straddled me and was making out with me then came to her senses about fifteen minutes later and blamed it all on me." I said as quickly and casually as I could. "That's it."
"Why did you go along with it?" he asked. "You know she has a boyfriend why'd you do it?"
"Because I was lonely as hell." I said trying to avoid admitting my feelings for her.
"Niall, you can't just do that." he said defending her.
"And you're telling me if you were in my place you would've stopped her." I asked.
"No probably not, but I'm not half as decent as you are. That's something you could expect from me but I'd never think you'd do that. Considering what all went down with Kira and Ethan and all." he said.
"Well, can't change it now. Guess I'm not as great of a guy as you make me out to be." I shrugged.
"So she's not talking to you or anything now?" he asked.
"Only if it has to do with work. It's not ideal but I'm just hoping she'll come to her senses and let it go." I said.
"Did you apologize?" he asked.
"Jesus Nate, are you the FBI? I feel like I'm being interrogated." I shot back getting annoyed.
"But did you?" he urged.
"She wouldn't let me get a word in today." I sighed. "That's all the info I have for you right now, this is why I wasn't gonna tell ya, you get too caught up in other people's problems."
"Alright I'll let it rest." he said.
We drove the rest of the way to Harry's without talking, the only sound was the radio playing quietly in the background.
"Why don't you just finish telling me your story about Sutton then." I said trying to lighten the mood.
"Oh god is that girl flexible." he up started again.
I instantly regretted my suggestion.
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