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through the dark

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It’s half past three and Michael can’t sleep. He’s sad and restless and he wants nothing more than to go home already. The tour ends tomorrow and maybe that’s why he feels like this. They’ve been on tour with One Direction off and on for nearly two years now and it’s a little terrifying that they’re about to start embarking on something that’s completely their own. That it will just be him and the boys doing something totally theirs. It’s exhilarating and daunting and nerve racking and it’s made Michael desperate to go home -- to take a breather for a moment and just hide out in his room.

But that’s not going to happen for another few days. They’ve still got their shows in Mexico and Michael’s sat in his hotel room, fidgeting with his phone on the verge of tears because all he needs is a cuddle and everyone else is asleep. He’d been flirting with Liam on twitter earlier, but that’s long past now. He sends off come cuddle me plz, anyway, because he knows the fans will think it’s cute, and honestly, he just needs someone to know he needs a cuddle -- even if it’s just thousands of people too far away to do a damn thing about it.

He doesn’t want to do it -- he knows he shouldn’t -- there’s no need for everyone to have shit sleep the night before their last show on the tour just because he can’t sleep, but he texts Calum anyway. It’s silly how much his heart beats in his throat sending it off, how nervous he is to wake him, how he hopes he answers just as much as he hopes he doesn’t bother him awake.

Cal are you awake :((

He doesn’t get a response and he never really expected to but he still burrows down further in his bed, pulling the comforter up to his chin and sighs loudly, hoping that the tears stinging at the back of his eyes are from lack of sleep and how bright his phone screen is in the darkness of this hotel room and not because he’s actually that sad. He hates being that sad. He hates the way he gets late at night and how the loneliness of unfamiliar hotel rooms seeps under his skin and takes hold of his heart and dampens his mood like nothing else can ever do. His head hurts with how much he needs to talk to someone and he hates having to bug the boys about it -- hates having to call on them like this. But he’s needy and they’re just what he wants. Ashton doesn’t answer either and that’s not surprising at all. It’s nearly four in the morning now, Ashton and Calum are both asleep -- probably dreaming about their last show of the tour and how great it’s going to be. How excited they are to finish this chapter of their lives and move onto bigger things for themselves. Neither of them are up in a hotel room by themselves fighting back tears because they’re too emotional to sleep.

He hates to do it even more than he hates to call on the others. But he just can’t stop himself -- he has to text Luke. He knows it’s Luke’s me time and he knows he’ll be awake and even though he hates to interrupt him he needs someone -- anyone -- to just sit and be with him for a minute. He hopes he won’t mind coming over -- at least for a minute so Michael can maybe calm down.

heyyyy lukey c’mere pls

Luke doesn’t answer and Michael thinks maybe he had gone to sleep. Maybe he had tucked in early for the sake of the show tomorrow but then ten minutes later there’s a soft knock at Michael’s door and for the first time all night the gloom that’s been hanging over him seems to fade away ever so slightly. He opens the door to find a bleary eyed Luke yawning with a soft, sleep rumpled Calum resting his chin on Luke’s shoulder. Michael’s heart soars momentarily before the gloom settles back in and he says, “You didn’t have to wake, Cal.”

Luke just shakes his head and Calum pushes him through the door, hands at his hips guiding, and Michael’s stomach twists at the gesture. The softness between the two of them makes Michael feel something he’s never been able to pinpoint on any given day but now it just makes his body ache with how lonely he is. The small smile that creeps up over Luke’s face when Calum guides him over to Michael’s bed, only to let go before crawling up into the spot that Michael just left, leaves Michael feeling more lonely than he had before they came.

Luke shakes his head and Calum smiles sleepily back at Michael from the bed, saying through a yawn, “‘Course he did. Fell asleep in his room and he tripped over his bag as he was trying to get clothes on. Woke me up, anyway.”

That makes Michael feel better, a little, that he wasn’t the cause of Calum waking up -- at least not completely. Calum tilts his head to the side, smiling warily, “Mikey, are you alright? Look a bit sad.”

Michael laughs, short and hollow, just a puff of air for something to do, “That’s just how I look.”

Calum’s eyes sharpen and he pushes the comforter off of him, slipping out of bed and coming to face Michael, putting his hand on his shoulder softly, “No. You look sad sad. Not just Michael’s got a look to hold up kind of sad.”

Luke’s hand finds his waist, a soft reassuring touch before he’s leaning down and pressing his chin into Michael’s shoulder, mumbling through a yawn, “Yeah, Mikey. You wouldn’t’ve told me to come over if it wasn’t something.”

Michael shakes his head, he feels overwhelmed with the two of them crowding him in like this, and he’s starting to regret asking them over, anyway. He’s not sad -- not in the way he can explain properly to anyone anyway -- and he just wants to go to sleep. “Can’t I just want to spend some time with you without something being wrong?”

Luke nods against Michael’s shoulder, snaking his arms around his waist and squeezing lightly, “‘Course you can. But it’s usually not this late. And you usually don’t look so upset.”

He tickles at Michael’s hips and Michael squirms underneath the touch, trying to fidget away but is only anchored in place by Calum’s warm, wide smile in front of him. He tugs at Michael’s wrists, pulling him back toward the bed and Luke stumbles behind him, making Calum’s eyes dart toward him and Michael’s hands tense in Calum’s.

“Hey, come on, it’s alright. Just us,” Calum says leaning in and slipping his arms around Michael and bringing him into a hug. Luke pushes at Michael’s back and the three of them topple over onto the bed, Luke laughing over his shoulder and Calum groaning under the weight of the two of them and Michael finally starts to feel easier -- more calm than he has all night.

Calum wiggles his hips underneath Michael, trying to move him off and Michael’s laugh bubbles out of him and he can’t stop -- almost as if being sandwiched between two of his best friends is all he needed to shake the feeling of anxiety about the tour ending. Luke rolls off of him and he can feel the bed shaking with the force of how hard Luke’s laughing, sucking in sharp breaths between his words as he says, “Calum, your face!”

Calum pushes Michael off, his fingers quick and soft at Michael’s side as he does, and then swats at Luke’s arm, saying, “You’re both heavy. What else is my face gonna look like?”

Luke can’t stop laughing now that he’s started, though, and it’s infectious. Calum shakes his head at the two of them laughing around him, mouth pressed into a firm line as he tries his hardest not to join them. Luke doesn’t let him, he rolls over and presses himself up against Calum and tickles at his sides, burrowing his head into Calum’s neck and Calum laughs into it. His arms come up to Luke’s sides, pushing him away and then he reaches out for Michael, hand firm against his wrist, saying, “Stop him, will you,” and Michael’s heart jumps.

Michael climbs over Calum and pins Luke down, tickling his sides and Calum finally laughs next to them, loud and full bodied and Michael feels like he has purpose in this moment. He feels like if there’s one thing he’s good at it’s getting Calum to laugh and he finally feels like he could sleep, the exhaustion from tonight seeping in over him and making his body feel heavy and slow. Luke twists under him, squirming against him, voice coming in bursts between laughs, “Please, stop. No more.”

He falls against Luke’s chest, laughing at how pathetic he sounds and Calum pulls him off, brings him in for a cuddle and his breath tickles the top is his head as he asks quietly, “Feeling better now?”

Michael nods, yawning, “Yeah. Just needed a bit of company.”

Luke comes over and tucks himself in next to Michael, head resting on his shoulder. He slings his arm across Michael’s torso and rests his palm on Calum’s chest and Michael feels the sleep taking over -- knows he’s moments from finally falling asleep. Calum makes a small sympathetic noise and Luke squeezes against Michael tighter, whispering, “No problem, Mikey. Just hate seeing you so upset.”

Michael’s heart feels heavy with love and affection for the two of them and he can’t get the words out to say how much he appreciates the two of them interrupting their nights to come help him. He just burrows in closer to Calum, bringing his hand up and around Luke to pull him in closer and murmurs, “Thanks. Just got a little down about the tour ending and the future. Y’know stupid stuff.”

“Hey, no. It’s not stupid,” Luke says fiercely. Calum kisses the top of Michael’s head, agreeing, “Not stupid at all,” and Michael feels better about the entire thing already.

They stay like that for a long time, Michael letting the beat of Calum’s heart and the weight of Luke’s arm around him ease him into sleep. Eventually Calum laughs, low and rumbling, “So we’re just gonna sleep with the lights on, then?”

It sets Luke off laughing again and Michael doesn’t think he’s ever going to understand how Luke thinks so many things are funny when they’re not but he appreciates the warmth of his laughter in this unfamiliar hotel that made him feel so lonely just moments before. None of them get up, Luke makes to, but Michael just grabs for him and brings him closer and Calum sighs, shaking his head softly in exasperation, “Fine, but if I look like shit in the morning because of this…”

He doesn’t finish his threat, Luke just presses his hand against Calum’s chest and says through a yawn, “Cal, you could never look like shit. Now be quiet. Sleep time.”

Michael thinks he falls asleep first, thinks he can hear the two of them whispering over his head about if they think he’s okay, but he doesn’t care -- doesn’t pay attention to anything other than the feel of two of his best friends pressed close against his side, boxing him in and guarding him from the feeling of loneliness that could easily come back at any moment. He falls asleep knowing that no matter how lonely he gets in unfamiliar hotel rooms in foreign cities he’ll always have his band, his friends, his boys to get him through it.