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24_ dirty mess

Niall jerks awake hearing someone knock on the bathroom door.

"Mr. Parker?"

He cringes inwardly and clenches his jaws. What does she want now?

He stays quiet waiting to see what she does when he doesn't reply. "Mr. Parker?" She calls again and Niall wants to yell and tell her to go away but he doesn't. He waits.

"Are you okay, Mr. Parker?" She asks.

What is she? Why does she act as she cares for me? Is it all an act to impress me?

He still doesn't reply. A few seconds pass and he hears the door creaking open and she walks in.

For the first time in his life, Niall feels grateful towards Nick for suggesting to put a shower curtain in front of the tub.

It is a translucent sheet of fine plastic used as the curtain and he can see her standing there, in the bathroom, rubbing her eyes.

She speaks, "I'm sorry Mr. Parker, I fell asleep."

Am I her dad or something? What should I do if she fell asleep?

"I'm sorry for hugging you, Mr. Parker. I thought...... That-- that we became friends after what happened that day, in your office. You were laughing, enjoying my company and, and I felt happy 'cause it felt different for me. I-- I was......."

Niall keeps shut. What was she thinking? Why she is so..... Calm? Even after I screamed at her, she's talking so damn softly. I hate her patience and forgiveness. I hate her so much for giving me these weirdly warm vibes.

"I'll never do it again, Mr. Parker. I thought you were the wall," she adds.

Niall imagines Emma's quivering lips, weeping like a little girl. She's so childish and always crying. What stupid reason is not there to make her cry? Did she lose her shoe? God knows why she was crying before.

"I wish I never met you," she murmurs before walking outside kicking on the door vaguely, murmuring something unintelligible under her breath.

Niall frowns as he draws circles in the calm water that fades away into nothing as fast they appear. Are you in my head, Emma? I was just thinking the same thing.

The next day, Emma goes to work as usual and stares at the clock on the office wall. Where the hell is he?

She is circling Nick's office like a hawk and waits. Where are you, Nickholas?

She waits and waits but he doesn't appear.

Emma goes back to Niall's room and he is scrolling through the list of something. Something she didn't want to know.

She is too afraid to ask him where Nick is because it will leave an impression on him that she comes to the office only to meet Nick. So she shut her mouth and works on the table allowed for her.

Niall's eyes slowly avert to Emma's fidgeting feet and he holds back an angry yell as he is more than annoyed by the sound of her heels clicking every time she taps on the floor with her feet.

"I wouldn't stare like that if I were you," she comments without taking her eyes off the screen and sighs a little.

"I would throw those heels away if I were you," he comments back.

She smiles a little. "But you're not me."

"And I'm not you either," he replies as if they are in a talk-back competition.

Fair enough.

A smile graces her face as she says, "So you are proposing that you are a creep who stares at working women?"

"If I'm a creep, you are a giant that wears heels to intimidate people and scare them away," he says giving her his complete attention but she doesn't. Her eyes are fixed on the screen and very smoothly typing things.

She looks at him straight in his eyes which sends chills down his spine and she says, "You could've just asked me to stop tapping my heels on the floor and not argue with me instead."

Niall frowns. "So you knew it all the way along but still talk back and annoy me?"

A crooked grin spreads across her lips. "I wanted you to ask me to stop but instead, you found another way to creep me out."

She looks back at the screen as she adds, "Stalker."

"I'm not a stalker!" he exclaims throwing his hands in the air.

"Prove it." She taunts him and stands up from her seat and walks outside.

Niall quickly jumps up from his seat to defend himself and grabs her hand and twirls her around.

Emma doesn't look surprised and that amuses Niall as he frowns.

She smiles and says, "You just followed me."

He stares at her thoughtfully and when the realization finally dawns on him, he chuckles inwardly. He can't let her win this time and let her know that she made him laugh.

But instead, Niall grumbles, "You're so tricky."

She turns around freeing herself from his death hold and says, "And you enjoy it."

"I don't!" He murmurs after her.

Her laugh echoes in the hall as she walks down the floor attracting several eyes.

After an hour, Emma comes back into the room and watches Niall biting his pen like a dog on his chew bone.

"Are you the staring creep now?" He asks stopping to bite the pen and looks straight ahead.

She clears her throat and lies, "I wasn't staring. I just zoned out."

"Of course you did," he makes a sarcastic remark while she gets in holding a pile of files to check and places them on her table.

She sits down without replying and gets back to her work. A few minutes later, she starts to zone out. Her mind goes to Nick and thinks about what happened to make him cry like that.

Getting back into her senses, she picks up her phone and calls him.

But no one picks it and the call goes straight to voicemail. She calls him again and he finally picks it.


Emma realizes that it's not Nick on the other side. It is Emily.

"Can you give the phone to Nick?" She asks and without questioning much Emily hands over the phone to him.

Emma hears someone coughing and soon comes to the conclusion that it's Nick. "Hello?"

His voice comes out very hoarse and dry.

"Hi Nick, it's Emma."

"What's up?"

"Are you okay?"

"No...... I have a fever."

She gasps. Just to let Niall know she says it aloud, "You have a fever! Oh my god Nick, How did that happen? Are you burning like fire?"

"Yeah...... It's not a big deal and just don't hurry to see me. He'll blow your head off."

"No, don't worry about him," she says stealing a glance at Niall and she finds him already looking at her.

How odd.

"Well, I don't have the stamina to fight you. But make sure you don't tell him about it."

Emma finds it weird. Did they fight? Was that the reason why Nick cried?

"No I'm not telling him that I'm coming over. Don't worry," she says loudly, making sure that Niall hears her.

"Alright, Thanks. I'll see you soon."

"Ok bye. Take care, Nickholas," she says and hangs up.

Niall's mind is in turmoil. He is sick? But- how come?

He remembers the time when Nick was sick and that terrified him to death. Nick was admitted to the hospital being diagnosed with pneumonia and Niall couldn't even sleep thinking about his brother being sick. Their mom died a week after Nick got better.

The worst day of his life.

Things only got worse. He can't even bear thinking about losing his little brother and even though he remembers how absurd and a jerk he was to Nick, the last day, he loves him to death and no force in the world can change it.

"Mr. Parker, I know that things can get hard sometimes between our loved ones and relationships, and believe me, it can only be fixed if you let go of your ego for a tad bit and admit and forgive yourself for being harsh."

Niall blinks rapidly. What the hell did she just say? Did I say something aloud?

"Even though no one told me that you two fought, I can feel it and I hate to see him sad. Yesterday when I saw him, he looked heartbroken and fragile. It killed me to look at his red, swollen eyes. They reflected pain."

Niall thinks staring at his fingers as she goes out for lunch.

Why do you try to set things right even though you know that you are a dirty mess?

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