*This is the first part of a mini series. I hope you like it! the rest of the boys will be up throughout the week.*
It was your daughter’s 5th birthday party, nothing too big, just something in the backyard; cake, balloons, her class at school and a small jumper you’d managed to find at a reasonable price. You tried to keep Niall as far away from your thoughts and enjoy Ella’s day, but it was difficult. And it seemed that it only got harder every day he wasn’t around. You’d thought by moving him, or rather kicking him, out of the house it would remove the invisible weight off your shoulders but it only seemed to make it heavier. It’d hardly been two weeks, but you didn’t know how much longer Ella was going to buy the lies you’d been telling her as to why daddy wasn’t ever home anymore. Having him out of the house had you more panicked and worried than when he was around. You wondered if he was safe, if he had been able to shower, or if he was just hiding out in that damn bar he’d spent many nights running away from his responsibilities, his family. At least when he was home wreaking havoc, throwing drunken insults at you, you knew he had a place to sleep, even if it was the couch. How could you do that to him? Or you’re daughter? He wasn’t a bad guy. Niall was always loving, and an amazing father, he just had some demons, and you were willing to accept that. But he’d crossed the line, getting in the car after ‘just one fucking drink’ (but you knew better) putting himself and Ella’s life in danger, so you had to do what was best for you and Ella.
However, the little voice in the back of your head had gotten to you and you ended up sending a quick text message last night inviting him to the party, with wishes that he at least wash up and remain sober, though they were more like commands. You didn’t tell Ella about the possibility of her father showing up, and as the party neared its end with no sign of him, you’re glad for it. No sense in getting her hopes up. On the other hand, you didn’t want to keep a daughter away from her father. Niall already saw you as the bad guy, and you didn’t want Ella to resent you either. He had a right to be there, and you knew that. Ella was his daughter, weather he’d forgotten that fact or not you weren’t sure anymore. He’d changed so much, since when you first meet. He was always a casual drinker, never one to miss a celebratory beer. Within the past year though, it seemed to have gone from simply celebrating to nearly every weekend, after that it was when he’d had a bad day and was stressed, or angry, and then it was just for no reason at all. As bad as it sounds now, the only reason you didn’t do something sooner was because Ella. At the time you’d thought it was better having her father around in some capacity then having no one, but now it all seemed reckless, keeping her around him for that long, it wasn’t healthy.
As the party began winding down, you were in the kitchen chatting up with some of the other moms, starting the clean-up of the cake and ice cream, unable to keep a smile off your face as you watched your baby girl, who looked eerily like Niall, jump around the backyard with her friends as you watched through glass door. You’d all but forgotten your problems, until you heard the doorbell rang, your stomach dropping to the floor. You quickly excused yourself from the chatty woman, making a bee-line toward the door.
Before you’d opened it you knew what face you’d see, you were just hoping for a bit more sober version. He was by no means wasted, but the familiar gloss over his eyes was still there, as he stood there unshaven, holding a stuffed bear with a ribbon around its neck. You took a step onto the porch, closing the door behind you.
“Hey.” He tried smiling at you. “Where’s the birthday girl?”
He couldn’t clean it up for one day? You were by no means going to invite him back home with open arms if he did show up sober. Not after what he did. But you’d hoped that it would at least be a step in the right direction.
“Niall…I can’t- You’re drunk.”
His shoulders slumped, dropping the bear by his side. He took a step closer, taking your hand in one of his before taking a breath.
“Baby please. It was just a drink. One, I swear, please it’s been almost two we-“
“Just one?” All you’d asked for was one day. One day, and he couldn’t give you that, but he had more than one drink.
“It was a few drinks, alright, but I feel like shit and I miss you and El and-“
“Did you drive here drunk too?” you spat.
The guilt slipped in as soon as the words spun off you tounge , it was below the belt you knew he felt sick aobut putting Ella in that situation but it didn’t change much in you to have him cry in your lap,you were still so angry. You’ve talked yourself through this over and over in your head about what your going to say to him and now that he’s here in fornt of you its all forgotten. You thought you’d been close to forgiving him but you were the farthes form it.
“I’m sorry. That was- ”
“No, it’s okay. Look, it’s her birthday, at least let me-“
The almost broken man on your door step lit up at the sound of Ella’s voice from the door as she ran towards him. He crouched down to her level, catching her in the tightest hug, stumbling only a little at the change in balance. But neither of them showing any sign of letting go.
“Hey princess. Happy birthday!” He smiled, giving a few kisses to her hair.
“You came! I didn’t think you would but I wished it on my cake and you’re here!”
“Of course I’m here. How could I miss my best girls’ birthday, huh? I bought you something.” He smiled, pretending the little stuffed bear, and she let out the smallest squeak.
“Is he mine?”
“’Course he is. Now what should we call him?”
She crinkled up her little nose, much like Niall did when he was thinking.
“Teddy it is then.” He smiled back at her petting her hair. Drunk or not, you knew he loved her, he loved both of you, but it wasn’t healthy to have him around either of you. Not yet.
“Hey baby why don’t you put Teddy with the rest of your gifts, yeah?” you tried to keep the shakiness of your voice to a minimum, but the tears that had been brimming your eyes watching the two of them get requested were beginning to spill. She started back tward the house
“Okay. Are you coming daddy?
“Just give mommy and daddy a second sweet pea.” He sighed putting on his best smile as she skipped back into the house. You closed the door behind you, this time making sure she didn’t slip back out.
“Can I come in? Please.” He whispered, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To took a step closer to you brushing a hair behind your ear, anything to just feel you again, before you turned your head away.
“How long are you going to keep me away from my family, huh? I miss you guys. I love you.”
“Until you get help Ni. I’m not going to live in a house with an alcoholic. I won’t let her grow up like that. I’m sorry.” You’d let a few tears fall before turning back twards the door.
“Thanks for at least coming by though. And the she’s never going to let that bear out of her sight.” You said through a wet laugh.
“I’m sorry Niall.” You stepped into the house, leaving Niall out on the front porch, locking the door behind you. You’d have to come up with another story of where daddy had gone to, and just thinking about it made your stomach turn. How much longer were you going to have to keep lying to her? You made your way to the small guest bath to clean up your fallen tears before going back to the party, continuing the mindless neighborhood gossip. No one seemed to notice though, you’d become pretty good at playing the good wife over the past year.