A Perfect Stranger

When Lara meets a mysterious stranger in the park, they get to talking and she feels drawn to him. What happens when she finds out who he really is?

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14. The Way You Left Me

 

“I don’t need another heartless misery”

 

Monotone. “I can’t do this Jayne, I just can’t.”

“I’m not giving you a choice Lara, now come on.”

I gritted my teeth, catching my tongue in between as had become my habit in the last few months, the coppery taste of blood oozing into my mouth. My friend grabbed my wrist and dragged me after her, into the screaming building.

 

I sat in the chair, hunched next to Jayne, my eyes screwed shut. My tongue burned with pain, but even that could not distract me from the screaming girls that surrounded us, and the knots in my stomach. I felt like I was about to throw up. I stood to leave, keeping my eyes on the ground, “I can’t do this Jay. I’m going home. Have fu-.” A sudden, almost impossible increase in the screams pulled me forceful back into my seat, more effectively that any physical force could have ever managed. I clamped my eyes closed once more, my head buried in my hands, body trembling. No, no, no, no, no, no. Why had I ever let myself be dragged from my room. I should have known. My mind fumbled desperately from some sort of escape plane, interrupted by the sound I was most dreading to hear. Five voices, together, greeting the screaming fans, blissfully and agonisingly oblivious to my presence. One in particular, a voice I should not have been able to discern individually in all the noise, my mind picked out and amplified so cruelly. A voice like silk and velvet and razor blades. I let out a choked noise, lost in the cacophony of excited screams. Here, like everywhere, everywhen, I was alone with my pain. My mind began to retreat within itself as I tried to save myself from myself, vaguely registering a voice, not the velvet and razors voice, asking everyone how they were, could they all sit down, thank you so much, it was so good to see them all here. Another strangled noise, body shaking even more, Jayne’s comforting hand on my knee. Like lightning, my trembling hand flashed and gripped hers, and I tried my hardest to stop my nails from digging too far in, but Jayne bore the pain without complaint.

 

Oh what I wouldn’t give for something sharp. The crook of my left elbow tingled invitingly for the first time in a while, for the first time since the early days when it was the best I could do to cope. I bit my cheek, mouth coppery for the second time that day and tried to survive the voices. Survive the pain. Survive the memories.

 

Music. Music that brought the sound of their voices to my ears and with it the pain. Lyrics that came unbidden, unwanted to my mind. Silently I cursed Jayne for bringing me here.

 

Jayne’s quite voice in my ear yanked me out of my reprieve, out of the hazy nightmare my mind had supplied to pass the torturous music. Yanked my out of that nightmare and back into my real one. She pulled my gently up from my seat and steered us into the flow of other girls, out of this room and into another. “Where are we going? Is it over?” I asked her hoarsely.

“No, meet and greet now.”

A blind panic overtook me and I surged sideway out of the stream of girls, “No. No, please no.” I leant against the wall, receiving a few strangle looks from girls going past. Jayne was almost instantly at my side, “You have to do this. You can’t keep running, or it’s going to kill you.”

I gritted my teeth harder, my aching jaw muscles protesting from the abuse. Then, I did one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. I nodded.

Jayne let out a sigh of relief I hadn’t realised she was holding, and dragged me back into the flow of people.

 

We stood at the back of the room, letting what remained of the eager girls push in front of us. I stared at the ground, trying to convince myself I was somewhere else. Time passed in an eerie montage of reality and haunting memories until Jayne broke my trance for the second time that day. “Stay here okay? I’m just going to grab a drink, I’ll be back in a second okay?” she insisted. I nodded mutely, still looking at my feet. “Promise me you won’t make a break for it babe?” she prompted, making me sigh with a dry amusement few people could wring out of me anymore.

“I promise,” I murmured.

My little friend hugged me quickly and before I was able to react she was gone with a last warning of, “Stay!”

And so I stayed, leaning against the wall, staring at my feet, isolated from the happy buzz of the room that surrounded me by the past. The knot in my stomach grew every second I stood here, my muscles clenching and unclenching and hands trembling. The tingling urge in the crook of my elbow was becoming unbearable, so much so I dug my nail into the already marked skin there, finding distraction in the sensation. Not just the pain but the self-disgust that waltzed hand in hand with it. I closed my eyes and breathed deep, a shuddering breath that shook my whole body. I shouldn’t be here.

“Lara?”

My eyes flicked up involuntarily, my heart lurching at the sound of a familiar voice. I stared like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck at the faces of four of the people who once were my world. A world that had vanished without a trace and left me broken and stranded and oh so alone. My voice cracked and echoed through the now empty room as I spoke, “Long time no see Zayn, Liam, Harry, Niall.”

Wide eyes were my only response as my gaze flickered between my former friends and the floor, holding back the tidal wave of tears through a control only possible because of too much practice. Finally, it settled on the floor, one foot tapping anxiously at the floor. I flinched violently as suddenly I was engulfed in the familiar arms and smells of the four boys. I held stiff not willing to let myself react, to let the walls fall apart, as much as I wanted to. I knew it would destroy me. After a few seconds they let me go and I was confronted by four sets of pained eyes. I hesitated, wanting to speak but terrified out of my depth. Shutting my eyes and taking a breath, I gathered myself. “He’s not coming is he?” I pleaded. I couldn’t handle seeing him again, not yet, maybe not ever.

“No, when Jayne told us you were here we got one of the stylists to redo his hair and makeup. That should give us a few minutes,” Liam assured me.

I sighed in relief, “Thank you.”

“Lara?”

I glanced wearily up at Harry, “Mmm?”

“I’m so sorry.”

I bit down harshly on the inside of my bottom lip, holding his gaze for a moment. It was all I could do to nod. A single tear wrenched itself free of my grip and scrambled down my cheek to jump to its death from my chin, shattering into a thousand pieces on my foot. I took a shaky breath and steady myself against the wall. Without looking up, I forced out the word that hung heavy on my tongue. “You should probably go before he gets suspicious. We wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise now, would we?” I said bitterly. The boys all shot taken aback looks at each other and nodded, disappearing around the corner. On the way out Niall whispered something in Jayne’s ear that brought a calculating look to her face, before he too was gone. I let my head fall back against the wall as I exhaled resignedly. “Now what?” I asked her, sure that this encounter had not been the end of my torture.

My friend-cum-counsellor took a step towards me, voice low, “Now, you get your own back.”

 

Everyone was back in the first room again, although the screams absent this time, replaced with an excited buzz of conversation. My eyes were stilled glued to the floor, delaying the inevitable while my stomach knotted in terrified anticipation. The terror increased as I heard the conversation turn to cheers. My breath hitched in my chest and I counted slowly and deliberately to ten, timing my breaths to each number to stop the oncoming hyperventilation.  I regained some measure of control over my body and my mind turned its attention to the voice coming from the small stage at the front of the room. Niall’s voice, “Kay guys we have a bit of surprise for you guys!”

Liam’s voice, “Karaoke!”

Everyone in the room around us surged to their feet, screaming and cheering. My head snapped up and I stared at Jayne and she gave me a grim, determined look. I raised my eyebrows questioningly at her and she nodded briefly. I looked back down, frowning at the floor as half of my mind devised a plan while the other half puzzled over the chance that I was getting the message wrong.

 

Half an hour later, several girls in the room had gone up to the stage, jumping at the chance to sing ufor their idols. It seemed as if no one else wanted to go and so Zayn stepped up to the mic, “We have time for one more if there is anyone else wants to go?” I felt his gaze on Jayne and me and in that moment I had been getting the message correctly. But still I refused to look up, stand up, take my chance. That was until Jayne grabbed my arm and stood up, hauling me up with her. “We’ll go!” she chirped. Hyperaware of everything in the room, I heard a sharp intake of breath from the front that could only be his and for some reason a vindictive smirk spread across my face. For the first time, I looked up, carefully avoiding the front, and looked around the room. Zayn’s voice sounded from the microphone again without a hint of recognition, although he sounded overly cheerful, “Come on up guys!”

Jayne and I made our way out of the row we sat in and I followed her to the front, focusing on her heels to avoid looking at him when we inevitably walked past. A strong grip on my arms when we were almost there startled me and I whipped my eyes up to come face to face with Niall. There was a dangerous glint in his eye, an almost furious anger I had never imagined him capable of. And then he whispered three wonderful little words, words only I could hear, “Make him hurt.”

 

I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jayne on the stage, looking down at the faces of about one hundred fans. In my peripheral vision I could see the vague outlines of the boys, but I focused my attention elsewhere as I spoke into the microphone.  I kept my face plastered with a faux smile, a mask of happiness. I introduced myself as the others before me had done, shooting a joking glare at Jayne. “Hey guys. Um, my name is Lara, and this here,” I said, bumping Jayne with my hip, “Is one of my best friends Jayne.” I paused and thought for a moment, “And I suppose today we’ll sing Happy Ending by Mika for you.” To my right my friend murmured something that sounded a lot like, “Knew it.”

I grinned, before a girl in the crowd next to my vacated chair caught my attention, “Sad song.”

I caught her eye and nodded, “Mmm, it’s got a bit of a backstory with me.”

The girl raised an eyebrow, a smile playing over her pretty features, “Spill!”

I sighed dramatically. “Well, there was a boy,” I began.

She laughed, “Isn’t there always?”

I gave a dry chuckle before continuing my story, slightly uncomfortable under the gazes of so many people, “Not just any boy though. Funny and sweet and sexy beyond belief.”

A few chuckles.

 “He was perfect and he was mine, my world. But as it turns out, it was far too good to be true and one day he vanished without a trace.”

The pretty girl looked sympathetic. “Douchebag much?”

I grinned, “The biggest. Anyways, sorry for the life story guys. This is Happy Ending.” I shot a look at Jayne, “Ready?”

She winked and stepped up to the microphone next to me, “Yup.”

I looked back out at the small crowd and began to sing, Jayne’s sweet voice accompanying me every word.

 

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

Then live the rest of our life,

But not together.

 

Wake up in the morning, stumble on my life

Can't get no love without sacrifice

If anything should happen, I guess I wish you well

A little bit of heaven, but a little bit of hell

 

This is the hardest story that I've ever told

No hope, no love, no glory

Happy endings gone forever more

I feel as if I'm wasted

And I'm wastin' every day

 

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

Then live the rest of our life,

But not together.

 

2 o'clock in the morning, something's on my mind

Can't get no rest; keep walkin' around

If I pretend that nothin' ever went wrong, I can get to my sleep

I can think that we just carried on

 

This is the hardest story that I've ever told

No hope, no love, no glory

Happy endings gone forever more

I feel as if I'm wasted

And I'm wastin' every day

 

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

Then live the rest of our life,

But not together.

 

A Little bit of love, little bit of love

Little bit of love, little bit of love

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

To live the rest of our life,

But not together.

 

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

To live the rest of our life,

But not together.

 

Jayne’s voice dropped off for the last part, and I forced myself to look over to my left. Niall’s words echoed through my mind. Make him hurt.  I caught his gaze and held it, letting the emotion burn in my eyes as I stared at his stricken, pale face and I sang the last few lines of the song.

 

This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

 

He dropped his eyes to the floor the moment I had finished, leaving me to turn and smile at the audience while they clapped. “Thanks everyone.” I stepped off the stage and slung an arm around Jayne, walking past him with my head held high.  We made our way back to our seats and the pretty girl caught my eye, flashing a smile and a wink. I returned both as I sat down next to her, Jayne going into animated conversation with someone in front of us. “Hey, I’m Cherie,” the pretty girl introduced herself.

“Hey. Nice to meet you.”

“Did you really have that much of a douchebag boyfriend? Or was it just for dramatic effect in front of hot and hotter over there,” Cherie teased gesturing over to where the boys stood, “I saw you getting all eyes at a certain Tommo at the end there.”

I felt a sudden reckless urge. “That,” I said, “Is because that song was just for him.”

She stared at me blankly for a moment. “What do you mean?” she hesitated, eyes growing wide, “You’re fucking kidding right?”

I shook my head, “Unfortunately no. I’m really not.”

She stared at me, a hint of disbelief clouding her face. “You mean to say that you,” she pointed at me, “and him,” she pointed over to where he stood while I nodded. She gaped. “And then he?” she made a walking motion off into space with her fingers. I nodded once again. “Screw that,” she swore quietly.

“Yup.”

Suddenly Cherie pulled her phone out of her pocket, “Give me your number?”

I smiled and recited the number, watching her tap them in, pulling my phone out and doing the same for her. We drifted into meaningless small-talk until Harry’s voice from the front drew our attention, “Thank you all so much for coming, it’s been great to have you all here and meet you all. We all hope you guys enjoyed yourself as much as we did.”

A chorus of goodbyes came from all five of the boys as the room erupted in cheers and applause as the five made their way off stage and out of sight. All around me people got to their feet to make their way out and I followed suit, dreading what was to happen next. It must have shown on my face, because my new friend shot me a sympathetic look. “You going to stick around?” she asked me.

I nodded, the knots making a reappearance. “Yep, wish me luck,” I muttered.

Cherie embraced me in a comforting hug and whispered in my ear. “You’ll be fine. I’m here talk if you need later okay? Just send me a text.”

“Thanks Cherie. I’ll take you up on that.”

“See you round then.”

“Yeah, see ya.”

 

There was a commotion outside the dressing room in which Jayne and I sat hunched in a couch, the scuffle of feet and the sound of voices, too muffled to understand but loud enough to hear. I buried my head in my hands and Jayne gave me a reassuring squeeze. I froze as the door clicked open and two people entered, shutting the door quickly behind them. “Don’t worry, it’s only me and Niall.” I looked up as Zayn spoke, letting out a tense, shaky breath. “Where are the others?” Jayne asked cautiously.

Niall supplied the answer. “Liam and Harry have their hands full trying to stop him barging the door down. They literally had to drag him down the hall,” he said ruefully, tactically avoiding the use of his name. I swallowed hard. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” I muttered darkly, shooting Jayne a look.

“It needs to be done,” she insisted, rubbing my back. I nodded.

“We can be there if you want,” Zayn offered kindly.

I smiled up at him and shook my head, “Thanks Zayn, but I think it’s best if I do it alone.”

Understand was visible on both the boys’ faces. “Do whatever you need to do,” Niall said. I stood up shakily and looked at the door. “Where is he?”

“Two doors down on the right.”

I took a few hesitant steps towards the door before I turned back to face the other three occupants of the room. “I don’t mean to be rude, but could you guys all go outside for however long this takes? I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen here.”

There were murmurs of assent from the trio and I hear Jayne rise to her feet as I headed once more for the door. I reached for the handle but before I could it swung open revealing Liam and Harry. Wordlessly they stepped aside and let me through. “I’ll see you guys later,” I said quietly as Jayne, Zayn and Niall followed me out and began to lead Harry and Liam down the hall and outside. I watched their back disappear around the corner, stalling for time before I finally turned to face what I was dreading. Two doors down and on the right. It took me an eternity to walk those few metres. Another eternity to reach for the handle. Yet another eternity to swing the door open with a trembling hand and step into the room after it. Eternities of pain.

 

MWAHAHAHA! Surprise my lovelies! So basically, don’t hate me. The plot was getting a bit tedious and then this idea came along. Tell me what you think!! I want reviews, lots and lots of reviews. What do you think will happen? Why did Louis and the boys leave? Dun dun dunnnn….. You will get the next chapter in a week or so, it’s already written but a) I want REVIEWS! and b) My school is dragging me out to the middle of the bush for eight days to hike, sleep on the floor and lug around a pack stuffed with all the living requirements. And we’re not allowed to bring soap. AND I MISS OUT ON LISTENING TO LITTLE THINGS BECAUSE IT’S COMING OUT THE DAY I FUCKING LEAVE. Yeah, I’m mad. But anyways, enjoy! <3 and xxx’s

                -Serendipity

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