Scoundrels (One Direction Fanfic)

. “What are we playing for?” Quinn asked.
“Fame, glory, bragging rights,” Niall listed, counting the items off on his fingers with a cheeky grin. Quinn rolled her eyes and shoved him lightly, prompting him to shove her back. “Loser buys the winner dinner?”

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16. The Hat Signal

 

The Hat Signal

The credits of 300 rolled down the screen and the room slowly came back to life, most still stuck in that post-movie stupor that tended to cling around, especially when the day drew on towards night. Five family sized pizza boxes lie scattered around the floor, the couches, the benches, not a scrap of food left anywhere in sight. Quinn reflected on the fact that she might’ve underestimated how hungry she and the boys actually were.

The rumours of Niall’s love affair with food were true. He’d almost finished one box by himself, agreeing to share only with Quinn out of respect for her skill on the field that morning. He’d been nothing but a perfect gentleman to her all day, while Liam and Harry had shared odd little looks that Quinn couldn’t decipher, but whenever Niall caught them at it he’d glare until one of them smirked and looked away.

Xavier had snuck out in the middle of the movie, Ben disappearing moments later on the phone to Nadia and hadn’t returned. Tyson had started yawning just before the battle of Thermopylae and had muttered about leaving them to it. The boys had dropped like flies after Tyson’s departure, his presence apparently being the only thing that kept Louie in residence, and Harry following quickly after. Zayn had managed another fifteen minutes; leaving Niall, Quinn and Liam as the last ones standing.

“That’s me done,” Liam announced, standing up to get the DVD and put it away. Quinn nodded, tired herself but still strangely energized. She was sitting on the floor against Niall’s legs, her head on his knee. He shifted in his seat and she sat up straighter, rolling her shoulders and groaning as her thigh muscles were stretched. That hot shower earlier hadn’t done much to ease the onset of post-exercise pain, and she knew she’d feel it in the morning.

“I’d better go too,” Quinn murmured, trying to stand up and wincing as her body ached in protest. Niall’s sympathetic groan accompanied his own efforts and they shared a little commiserating smile. Quinn hugged Liam goodnight- he slipped quietly away, yawning and rubbing his head- and turned to Niall. “Thanks for today, it was brilliant,” she said.

Niall beamed and pulled her in for an affectionate hug; she sighed and smiled, resting her head against his chest before snapping back to reality and realising what she was doing. “We will have a rematch,” he said, chin propped on her head. He had to stretch to reach; he was only a few inches taller than she was. Quinn chuckled and stepped away, shaking her loose hair out of her face to smile up at him. He hadn’t quite let her go yet, his forearms still resting on her shoulders, fingers linked behind her neck. “I can’t promise I won’t kick your arse again, though…”

“Shut up,” she laughed, fingers digging into his ribs. He squirmed and tried to retaliate, but she’d danced away before he could. “Night, Niall!” she thought heard his door click shut behind her. As if on cue, the phone in her pocket started to ring with a familiar tune and she paused to answer it, already dreading what would be flung at her from the other end. “Evan…”

“Hi.”

Quinn’s eyes fluttered closed. She knew that tone; that was his ‘I’m-not-impressed’ tone, and she wondered what she’d done now. “How are you?” she ventured, her voice tentative and shy.

“D’you wanna tell me what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” she asked, instantly on edge and defensive. Evan sighed audibly and Quinn leaned against the wall, just outside Niall’s door. “I’m in Bourne-”

“I know where you fucking are,” Evan snapped. Quinn’s eyes flew open and she hissed, the tone of his voice making her reel from the force of it. “There are pictures of you all over that blonde kid on Twitter… playing football, hugging him- what the hell?”

“It was just a game!” Quinn replied quickly, eager to defend herself and put forth her side of the story. “A bit of fun between mates! We’ve been together for six months now… you know what the papers do to this kind of thing, make it bigger than it is- especially with Niall- it was completely innocent!”

She heard Evan’s hard breathing on the other end, knowing that he was angry rather than upset. It seemed that every move she made lately just pissed him off more; and still, when she’d asked if he wanted to leave the relationship, he hadn’t said yes. “Whatever,” was all he said, and the line went silent. The beeps were cold and callous and Quinn pressed a hand to her forehead as she stood still for a moment, trying to breathe. She jumped as Niall’s door quietly clicked; and her heart skipped a beat as her lungs constricted. He’d heard. Niall heard. He might not have heard Evan’s part, but he’d have heard enough…

“Oh, hell,” she muttered, heading off to her room on the other end of the hall. She was sharing with Xavier, having agreed to do so to spare the management a bit of cash. She didn’t mind and Xavier didn’t either. She paused before going in, spotting a woollen beanie hanging over the doorhandle. Brow furrowed, she kept walking to Tyson’s single room, knocking until she heard a dull thump and a series of thuds, signalling his approach.

He fumbled with the door for a minute before pulling it open and peering out, bleary-eyed. Quinn felt a little guilty for waking him up, but wasn’t in the mood for being apologetic. “The hell d’you want?” he asked.

She stepped back and pointed to her room, one along. “What’s a hat mean?” she asked bluntly, causing Tyson to follow her finger and squint. He was silent for a moment, never being the most coherent of creatures when woken up, before grinning and giving a low whistle.

“That, my dear Quinny, is the Hat Signal,” he announced as if that should mean something, and tried to stumble his way back to bed. She put a hand on his door and waited impatiently for him to elaborate. As tired as he was, Tyson was still clever enough to know she wasn’t in on the joke. “It’s our tie-on-the-door,” Tyson mumbled, rubbing a hand through his short blonde hair. Quinn blanched and went faintly pale at the thought of her brother in bed with a girl. Ew. “Now piss off, yeah?”

“Where the hell am I supposed to sleep then?”

Tyson placed both hands on her shoulders, pushed her gently away from his door, and leaned down to stare directly in her eyes. “Well, it won’t be with me,” he said, a little condescendingly- to be fair, she had gotten him out of bed- and quickly darted back into his room and shut the door. She heard it lock with a dismissive click and fought the urge to stomp her feet like a child. It wouldn’t accomplish much after all.

“Well,” said Quinn, huffing a little. She eyed off the door to her room, wondering how pissed Xavier would be if she interrupted him and whomever he’d brought home. She stupidly pressed her ear to the door and heard a low moan; jerking away with a hiss of utter revulsion, she glared at the hat on the handle and felt her heart sink as she knew exactly where she’d have to go.

The door opened on her second knock and Niall stepped aside to let her back in, chuckling when she muttered something foul about Xavier and his poorly timed one-night-stand. Quinn flopped down on the lounge and pulled one of the cushions under her head as Niall watched, eyebrow raised. “What are you doing?” he asked, puzzled.

“Getting comfy,” she responded, face down in the pillow. Her hair was loose, splayed out over her shoulders and head, creating a sort of feathered circle around her.

“Not on there, you’re not. Get up,” Niall poked her until she did what he said, giggling as she rose to her feet and caught his hands to stop him tickling her further. He stilled his teasing, two fingers tilting her chin up so he could meet her gaze. She tried valiantly to hold it, but failed. “Are you alright?” he asked softly, releasing her chin when she stepped away.

“I’m fine, Niall,” she said, sitting back down on the couch. “You should get some sleep. You’ve got a show tomorrow.”

He wanted to argue with her, to tell her to get in the bed so he could take the lounge. If she didn’t look so quietly upset, he might’ve made a joking suggestion that they share. He opened his mouth to speak and the glare on her face- which was about as intimidating as a growling newborn kitten- told him not to. As much as his conscience protested, Niall grabbed a spare blanket off the double bed and gave it to Quinn, who took it gratefully and tried not to shudder when his fingers grazed across hers.

She lay still, watching the city lights play with the shadows on the ceiling. She could hear Niall’s steady breathing in the bed, but it didn’t sound like he was asleep. Her heart sped up a little and she had to close her eyes, repeating Evan’s name over and over to stop herself thinking of Niall. She gasped and nearly fell off the lounge when her phone rang, buzzing loud in the silence, and yanked it to her ear without checking the ID.

“Hello?” she whispered, hoping to stay quiet enough to not disturb her host.

She was not expecting to hear his voice on the other end. “Just wanted to say goodnight,” Niall whispered back, and she could hear the grin in his tone. Sitting up, she peered through the gloom to see his face half illuminated by light. The phone screen wasn’t the only reason why he was beaming, either.

“Niall, I am six feet away from you,” Quinn whispered, trying not to smile too widely.

“I know.”

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