It was about 12 years ago when it happened. A younger Niall, around the age of 14, was in a car with an infant Kimmy. “Mom, are we there yet?” He groaned, annoyed that the only thing accompanying him in the back seats of the car was the living noise machine that was his literal baby sister. “Wah! Wah!” Kimmy shrieked, giving the teen goosebumps. It was shriller than nails on a chalkboard to say the least. However, that was the last time Niall ever saw either of his parents. Alive, anyways. In just a few moments, a large car swerved into their lane, and the car was sent flying through a railing, past a small park, and right into the Charles River. He just remembered feeling his stomach fly up into his throat, a large splash, and then everything went black. By the time Niall had woken up, he was told the bad news. His parents died from the impact, while he and his sister were fished out of the car, barely breathing. It was a miracle that either of them had survived. He sat there, in the hospital bed, unable to process what had just been told to him. He did not want to believe that his parents were dead. He could imagine how they could possibly have died. “Wait, where’s Kimmy?” “She’s in another room, but she’s still here.” “Kimmy!” He quickly jumped out of his bed, only to fall over. Even though he survived, the trauma from the impact still caused him to sustain minor injuries to his legs and arms. Unable to move, the nurse just propped the helpless Niall back into his bed. “I know you must be feeling distressed. But your sister is perfectly fine, I promise. It’ll be okay.” She gave him a pat on the shoulder before getting up. Niall just could not believe that this all happened in the span of a day. At 14 years of age, he was an orphan. The rest of his relatives were either back in Japan or Spain. But neither of them were citizens to either country. They were born on American soil.
“I had to work some really odd jobs to support my sister. We had to live in the South End, which was not really a good area at the time. I was a bookie, I sold candy and snacks, I had to steal toys and re-sell them. We lived in foster care for a little bit, and it did not really work out, so we were struggling on the streets. It was tough, because I tried my best to support the two of us.” He sighed. “Luckily, I had to work these weird jobs only for a little while. I managed to lie my way into a restaurant, and start working as a waiter part time, while I was still in high school. We lived in a very shitty apartment, but I was able to make just enough money to get by. The landlord, he was nice enough to let us stay at half rent, because we were minors, and because the building was going to be demolished soon anyways. I tried my best to make it so that Kimmy would not have to suffer. The majority of my money went to food, clothing, and just making sure that she did not realize that we were poor.” It almost sounded unrealistic to Namie, hearing how badly Niall struggled to make ends meet as a teenager. “But the good part was when I turned 18. My inheritance, I received it at long last. That money, it helped put me through college and grad school, well, partially. I only used a little bit of it, but paid for most of my tuition through scholarships. I did not want to dry out the bank before Kimmy needed to go to school and college too. But I had to waiter on the side and eventually, we moved to Virginia once I finished school, since it was a lot cheaper over here.” He revealed. “So I got a job in D.C. as a waiter while I was on the waitlist, continued to be a parent to Kimmy, and she really never realized just how poor or in trouble we were, because again, I tried my best to make sure we lived a good or decent life.” He smiled.
“I had to be the responsible one and the father figure to her. I wanted to protect her from the dangers of the world. One of us was scarred that day our parents died. That did not mean that the other one had to be as well.” “Does she know that they died?” “I still have not told her that. I just said that they were on a business meeting.” “Niall… she’s going to find out the truth eventually.” Namie frowned. “I know she will. She’s the same age I was when they died. It gets harder and harder to answer her questions. But I want to keep her safe-” “This is exactly what my father did to me. Look, I think you’re a great guy, trying to keep your little sister in the dark about this, but learning the truth, that will help her more as a person than lying to her. If she does not know the truth, she might find out from somebody else, and it will hurt her more. It will damage her trust in you.” She frowned. Seeing what Niall was doing to Kimmy, it struck a cord with her. This was the same exact thing her father did to her, and she was greatly aggravated by it. She was starting to see her father more and more in Niall, and while she was attracted to the musician, she could not help but start to realize a couple of things: by dating and presumably marrying Niall, she might just be losing herself to a relationship, yet again, something that she was trying to avoid back when she tried to quit dating entirely. She felt that the more attracted she was to him, the less of herself she was acting. Dancing, finance, she was having less and less time to focus on her hobbies and career because she was dating him to frequently. Those were aspects of her life that really defined her as a person too. It was an unsettling feeling. And then dating and marrying somebody like Niall, who thinks that being overtly protective is good parenting, or trying to justify wrong or bad actions. How was that any different from her father? When it comes down to it, he thought he was doing a good deed, brainwashing his daughters with those horrendously chauvinistic beliefs, but all he was really doing was feeding them lies based on other lies. Niall was doing that to Kimmy, and she is not even his actual daughter. Was this really somebody that she wanted to be in a relationship with?
“Hey, Niall, can we talk?” Namie was trying her best not to tremble as she approached him. “Hey, babe. What’s wrong?” The musician could immediately sense that there was something off with her. “Look, I really do like you, even love you.” “But?” He looked at her expectantly. Nobody would just make a statement like that for the sake of saying it. There had to be another reason. “But… I don’t like what being somebody else’s girlfriend is doing to me. It really isn’t you. You’re a kindhearted, wonderful, and genuinely great person. But when I am in a relationship, I feel like I’m not as strong or independent enough of a personality to really be myself. I feel like I am trying too hard to be perfect for you, because I like you so much, and it’s…. it’s making me lose my own identity.” She confessed, as the following silence confirmed that Namie had just shattered both of their hearts. “Nams…” He started, unable to form any words. “I’m so sorry, Niall. I really do like you. But I can’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. I keep trying to be this super bubbly and girly person, but that is not who I am at all.” She sighed. “But we can make this work. I promise you, you don’t have to be somebody you are not in front of me. I want to just be with the real you-” “I don’t even know who that is anymore, Niall! I’m sorry, but it’s seriously not you. Just being in a relationship, having these titles, these commitments and unspoken expectations, it’s just ingrained in my own personality. My own upbringing! I was raised to think that as somebody else’s girlfriend, you need to shed your own face, your own interests, and make yourself the perfect girl for them. I myself am just not ready to date yet. I have not developed or explored who I am enough to fully grasp my own identity, and because of that, I am losing myself to our relationship.” The accountant fought not to cry at this point. She did not want to lose Niall. But more importantly, she did not want to forget who she was in the process. “I need to learn to be myself first. And you, you deserve somebody who can grow together with you, okay?” She sighed, sitting down next to him. “Namie, I really do love you. And it hurts a lot to hear that, especially from somebody I care about. I think I might need some time away from you.” He groaned, getting up and leaving her apartment. Fighting every urge to do so, she did not beg him to come back.
“Hey, are you feeling better?” Claire approached Namie in the lunch room. “You haven’t been responding to any of our texts. Did something happen between you and Niall? Or was it a family thing?” “It was your first guess. Niall and I broke up.” The accountant sighed. “What happened?” The front desk supervisor was surprised to hear this, especially after how hard she was vying for the two to get together. “I just did not feel like myself when I was with him. It was like I was losing myself to a relationship, and I didn’t like that.” She sighed, placing her head back on the table in frustration. She felt like she had finally met somebody she really liked, but she ruined the opportunity to be in a relationship with him. “Hey, relationships aren’t all that, okay? And in a lot of ways, you’re right too. It’s not worthwhile if you feel like you’re losing your sense of self to it. No matter who you’re with, you still have to live with yourself first and foremost.” Claire sighed, admitting to the faults of her prior rationale and mentality towards finding a happy ending. Seeing her friend so upset about a guy, not only did it remind her of when Franky dumped her, but it made her realize that for a lot of people, they might not need somebody else to find their happily ever after. Some people might just be at their happiest when they are left to their own devices. “You’ll get through this, Nams. You’re smart and capable, and you’ve never let a man take you down.” “Thanks, Claire.” She grinned as they hugged.