Chapter Forty Seven
My heart was pounding. I was pacing the crowded hallway, machines and the buzzing of the florescent light bulbs drowned out the noise of everyone around me. I was chewing at my knuckles which were now raw and sore. My Mother was talking to a nurse and Mac had gone to get something to drink. Harry was somewhere with Paul and Liam trying to sort out what had all happened. I felt like I was falling away from the earth. I couldn’t keep myself here in the now. I was projecting myself into the future, a future with Becky. Where I could hold her hand and tell her that everything was going to be okay.
"Hey, hey you’re alright." I hadn’t even realized that tears were streaming down my face and that my lounges were working double time until Niall wrapped his arms around me and held me so tight that the world spun in the right direction once more.
One hand pressed me firmly to his chest, the other stroked the back of my head. I sobbed into the crook of his neck. I couldn’t feel my feet, I swear if Niall walked away right now I’d crumble like a broken doll.
"What happened?" Niall asked his lips pressed to my temple.
"Sterling, he, he…" I don’t even know how to explain it. The boy I grew up with, the always happy, always smiling, the boy who went out of his way to make your day better would never be capable of such monstrosity. My heart was splitting and I could feel every tare as it pumped.
"We got here as soon as we could." I look over Niall’s shoulder and see the rest of them, all dressed for bed with worried looks. We built a family in such a short amount of time.
Niall let me go, but I clung to one of his hands. Perrie and Eleanor stepped up and embraced me. Niall got his hands free and Zayn and Louis crossed over to him to find out what had happened.
"Is she all right?" Eleanor said holding back tears, trying to be strong for me.
"We don’t really know anything right now, besides her lung has been punctured and they are doing whatever it is they do to fix that and I am not allowed to see her." And again the tears start pouring down my face and if I breath I might die.
Elanor guides me to a row of uncomfortable plastic chairs and hold me steady. Perrie rubs my back and the boys are still trying to figure it all out. Except Niall is gone. I sit up in a panic, where is Niall? Why did he leave? My eyes land on him, hand fully outstretched toward my mother who ignores it and takes him in her arms. Mac appears in a door way carrying four bottles of water looking perplexed at the extra group members. She spots me and comes over and crouches down in front of me.
"Holly, babe, you have to drink some water okay? You are going to get dehydrated." I weakly nod and take a bottle.
"Hi, I’m Mac. I’m Hollands sister." Mac smiles at the girls and they exchange pleasantries.
Whatever my Mother is saying to Niall is making him concerned. His hands rest on his hips and his eyebrows sit high and knit together on his face. He glances over at me and in just a look I’m drawn in. I make my way over to them where my Mom holds me. Everyone keeps holding me and I am very grateful, for that is just one thing I can’t seem to do on my own, keep myself up.
"Peaches, I was just telling Niall more about Becky." She circles the palm of her hand on my back like she did growing up to calm us down.
"When can I see her?" I am surprised that I am able to get that out.
"Soon." Niall gives me his best reassuring smile he can.
I look down the hall, my sister mixing in with all Ell and Perrie and the boys. My worlds colliding, under any other circumstance I’d be thrilled.
"Want to take a walk? Clear your head?" Niall offers. I look up at my Mom who nods in agreement.
"Can you let Harry know?" a whimper sound escapes me and surely that was not my own voice, but it was. Weak and helpless, nothing Becky even came close to needing right now.
"Of course Peaches." She bent down and gave me a gentle kiss on my cheek, careful not to break me.
I was tired of being fragile, but I just didn’t know how to be anything else.
Niall slipped his fingers in between mine and we turned down a separate corridor.
We walked in silence for a long while. He was good for that.
"Don’t. You have nothing to be sorry for. Ever. Not when it comes to me, to us, to Harry. Nothing. You should never be sorry." He was firm and sad and it took me off guard. This was not the Niall I knew.
"I don’t know what to say then.." I laughed. I didn’t know how not to be sorry any more than Niall knew how to not be Irish.
We were both laughing, standing there in the middle of a hallway surrounded by strife and sickness and we were laughing uncontrollably. It felt good. It felt like one more piece just fell back into place. I caught my breath and shook my head. He pushed back some hair from my face that had fallen from the bun I threw up on top of my head on the way here. I could feel the pull between us. I stepped back and bite my lip trying not to apologize. Niall just smiled and took my hand.
"We should get back." He motioned for me to follow and I fell in step wit him lacing my fingers with his.
"You’re Mum is lovely." Niall smiled and bumped shoulders with me. "I can see a lot of her in you."
"She’s amazing. I wish I was more like her." Our hands swinging between us as we walked in perfect unison.
"Was that your sister with the waters?"
"Yup. Her name is Mac."
"She’s fit. Think I have a shot?"
I stop to punch him hard in the arm. A knot ties itself firmly in my stomach at the thought.
"Fuck you." I clench my jaw tightly.
"Hey are you jealous?"
"A lady never gets jealous." I spite back at him.
"So then you are jealous." His smile is big and toothy and full of childish banter.
I just scrunch my face up and stick out my tongue. The automatic doors to our wing slide open and I feel Niall drop my hand.
Harry is standing in the middle of a huge group circle that has been formed in the middle of the Hallway. A Doctor standing with a clip board was delivering information. Harry looked up and his face was grave. It stopped me dead in my tracks. He looked at Niall who grabbed me.
He whispered in my ear the only thing I wanted to hear. “She is a fighter. She will be fine.”
I turned into him and his arms enclosed around me. My body becomes stone. Niall can sense something is wrong and lets me go.
"Get the FUCK OUT OF HERE!" My face drains of blood and my body stands on edge. Every part of me is alive and ready to fight.
Sterling creeps a little closer down the hall, not deterred by my warning.
"I swear to God Sterling, if you come any closer!" He is just out of my reach and my body coils ready to spring.
"Holland, listen to me. I can explain." His eyes are puffy and swollen from crying and his lip is split and there is a giant bruise forming on his left cheek. Good. Liam did a number on him.
"Unless it’s a goodbye I don’t want to hear it. Have you lost your fucking mind?!"
"Holland, I never meant to-"
"To what? Put her in the hospital? You thought you could just bang her up a little bit and it would be all okay?"
"I think you better leave." Harry’s voice is firm and low behind me.
I look over my shoulder and everyone is watching. Harry stands right behind me.
"I’m not leaving." Sterling looks Harry up in down and remains firmly planted.
"You make me sick." My stomach turns and I feel physically ill at just the sight of him.
"Holland, come on. You know me, I never meant for this to happen." His eyes are sad.
I lunge at slamming my fists hard against his chest. I take him by surprise and he stumbles back a bit.
"I’m going to kill you! You are pathetic! You’re fucking nuts! You worthless waste of a human being. I hate you!"
Harry grabs my waist and tugs me back. I am flailing. Mac runs up to help. I am slapping at every hand that tries to restrain me.
"I’m the crazy one?" Sterling rubs his chin and smirks. He goes to take a step past all of us.
Niall who had managed to keep his mouth shut this long steps between him and the rest of us and lays him out. Niall’s fist connecting square on with Sterlings Jaw. Sterlings hands fly up to his face and Niall plants two more swift and hard punches to his stomach. Sterling doubles over and Niall grabs the scruff of his shirt and throws him against the wall and steps up into his face.
"You are going to turn around right now and forget about these girls. If I ever hear of you even considering giving them a hard time I’ll make sure personally that it’s you in that hospital bed next time. Do you understand me."
Sterling glares at Niall.
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!" Niall does not back down.
"YES!" Sterling yells back.
"You know I have a better idea." Louis motions to the police that are entering our hallway and Mac nods and calls them over.
"This man put a young girl in the hospital tonight officers." The look Louis gives Sterling is of pure disgust.
An officer collects Sterling from Niall and the other begins to interview my Mother who tells him the entire story. He turns back and nods at his partner who escorts Sterling out of the hospital.
It doesn’t fix anything, but it does bring me great satisfaction. I let Mac lead me back to my chair again, but I brush off her arms when she tries to hold me. I see the sting in her eye. I should feel a tinge of guilt, but I don’t. I feel free, and alive, and strong.
All the things I should have been all along.