I'll Save You

Aurora Miles is in training to become a world-class MMA fighter, just as her late mother was. But when Niall Horan receives a vicious death threat, Aurora is hired as the band member's personal bodyguard. In order to avoid any public suspicion, Aurora and Niall have to pretend they're dating. The problem: Aurora and Niall are just friends, and Harry Styles may or may not have deeper feelings for his band mate's bodyguard...
How will Aurora and the boys survive an entire world tour without everything falling apart?
*Note on the death threat. Although I am the one who wrote it (as I am the author), it is not heartfelt at all. I love Niall, just like I do all the members of One Direction. I do not intend to offend or hurt anyone, the threat is just for the sake of the plot.*

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2. Fan Mail Gone Wrong

                -Harry’s POV-

                Niall paused in his playing to stuff another chip into his mouth.  I leaned back, rolling my eyes humorously and taking a break.  We were all on our tour bus, heading towards London for the opening concert of our world tour.  Currently, I was trying to learn guitar from Niall, while Zayn was asleep in his bed.  Liam was on the phone with who I thought was possibly his mom and Louis was playing something on his laptop.

                We had been on the road for nearly four hours already, and I could tell that all of us were getting a bit restless.  I was also getting a bit hungry, and Niall had already eaten practically everything on the bus.  Eventually, the rest of us were going to need to eat as well, which meant we would probably be stopping soon so someone could go get us food.

                Just as I was thinking that, the bus pulled to a stop.  I glanced out one of the windows and noticed that we were at one of our rest stops, a secluded little gas station just outside a small town where we wouldn’t get swarmed by too many people.

Zayn left his bed, still looking a bit sleepy and with some messy bedhead.  “Anybody else really need to stretch their legs?” he wondered, punctuating his sentence with a yawn.

                “I’m in,” I agreed, setting my guitar on the couch next to me to stand up and stretch.

                “Me too,” Niall added through a mouthful of food.

                The three of us stepped off of the bus, playfully pushing past each other until all of us were out in front of the bus.  I took a deep breath, hoping for fresh air, but instead getting a whiff of the gas that the driver was currently putting into the bus’s tank.  As I was wrinkling my nose at the smell, something knocked into my head.

                All the others were laughing as I turned to face them.  Louis was juggling a football, which I figured was what had hit me.  I laughed along with them as Louis passed the ball to Zayn and all of a sudden we were playing keep-away in the gas station lot.  For a few minutes, we just ran around like a bunch of kids on sugar highs and, although they were keeping the ball from me, it was still refreshing to just goof off.

                “Okay, boys,” Paul called from by the tour bus.  “Recess is over.  Time to get back on the road.”

                “Aw,” we replied, almost in unison, before racing each other into the bus.  All of us settled down on the various couches, lounging about in the midst of leisurely chatter while we waited to head back out onto the road.

                I noticed we were all getting bored, so a brilliant idea popped up.  “Why don’t we read some fan-mail?” I suggested eagerly.  Fan-mail was always fun to read, which was one of the reasons we kept a few stacks stored on the bus.

                “You just want a reason to compliment yourself,” Louis smirked playfully.

                “Please, Lou,” I grinned back.  “I don’t need a reason.”

                Zayn interrupted us by dropping a stack of letters on my lap.  He tossed all of us a thick pack and we dispersed throughout the bus before eagerly opening them up like they were Christmas presents.  Sometimes we’d read our mail together, but when the fans started picking favorites within the band we had decided it was best to read them separately.  Even so, no matter how many concerts we had or how long we traveled, we always enjoyed our fan-mail.

 

                -Niall’s POV-

                The first letter I read was the same old, same old: omg, you’re the hottest guy ever, I love you so much, etc. etc. (the life of a star was so humbling).  I skimmed through it, grinning to myself at my self-declared number one fan, who happened to be about the fifteenth to say that the past week.  But the second letter I picked up was a bit different.  The envelope was a crimson red, the addresses on it written in jagged, black lines.  It kind of interested me.  Who would send a red envelope?

                Tearing it open, I pulled out the piece of paper and unfolded it.  I realized that it wasn’t typed or handwritten; instead the letters were depicted by cutout magazine words.  Okay, that’s not a bit disturbing at all.  Maybe a fan just has too much time on their hands?  But all my optimism and wishful thinking was squashed when I read the fan-mail.  It read:

                                Dearest Niall Horan:

                I hate you.  You are a loathsome, degenerate fool with absolutely no talent.  You don’t deserve to be in One Direction.  Nothing you ever do, no matter how hard you try, will ever make you more than a filthy man-whore.
                I wish to make one thing clear to you, you insufferable idiot.  If it comes to be New Year’s Day and you are still a member of that disgusting band of yours, I will hunt you down, Nialler, and I will kill you.  I promise.
                Do not mistake me for just some angry fan, or for some moron that makes empty threats.  I am superior to you, Niall.  I am more powerful than you.  I know everything about you.
                I can kill you whenever I want.

                Love,
                Your Dear Friend
                xoxo

                My heart thudded loudly, my ears pounding with the sound of my own blood.  Both hands were shaking and I had a feeling that I was even more pale than usual.  Sure, I had gotten hate mail before.  There were plenty of people that disliked me, some even claimed to hate me.  But never, ever before had anyone in the band gotten a death threat before!

                I forced myself to swallow past the lump in my throat and dropped the paper as if it was on fire and had burned me.  What was I supposed to do?  Was it fake?  What if it was real?  No, I had to stay calm.  I still had Paul, and all the boys, and our entire staff.  None of them would let anyone kill me.  I was fine, just over-reacting...right?

                I needed someone to talk to.  Standing up on shaky legs, I reluctantly grabbed the horrid letter and headed off to find Daddy Direction.  Liam would know what to do.  He was the most mature of us.  Surely he’d have some advice.

                Heading off down a short, narrow hall, I found Liam reclining on one of the couches, contentedly reading a letter with a bright smile.  Luckily, none of the others were around.  Even though they were like my brothers, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to worry everyone.

                Liam glanced up, and, noticing my ghostly pale face, his smile immediately shifted into a concerned frown.  “What’s the matter, mate?”

                My mouth opened, but no words came to mind, so I closed it again.  With a shaky hand, I held out the letter to Liam.

                His brow furrowed in confusion, but he took the letter from me and read it over.  I stood in front of him, hands shaky and palms sweaty.  As he read it, his own face paled, his eyes widening in a swirling mixture of horror and disgust.  When he was finished, he looked back up at me, my blue eyes locking with his brown ones.  He quickly stood and embraced me in a comforting hug.

                “What am I supposed to do, Liam?” I wondered, my voice sounding rough, even to my own ears.

                “Don’t worry about it, Nialler,” Liam assured me, pulling back and slinging an arm around my shoulders.  “We’ll tell Paul and he’ll keep you safe.”

                I sighed out in relief, glad of the comfort that Liam provided.  It was probably nothing.  We’d hire more bodyguards, upgrade the security for our hotel rooms and concerts.  Everything would be absolutely fine.

                Paul stepped through a door, knocking on it to announce his arrival from the front seats.  “Sorry guys,” he apologized.  “Minor setback, boys.  The engine is acting a bit off, but we should be back on the road soon.”

                “What?” I choked out, my throat feeling raw and constricted.  “No, we can’t be stuck,” I protested.  I would be a sitting duck.  What if the guy came?  What if the bus had been sabotaged?”

                Liam’s arm tightened around my shoulders, which just caused my heart to thud painfully.  My eyes prickled, and I fought back any signs of tears.  I was not going to breakdown and cry now; I had to stay strong.

                “Paul,” Liam breathed out in a rush, holding out the offending letter to our head of security.

                Curiously, Paul took the now-crumpled letter.  As he read over it, Harry, Louis, and Zayn, having heard Paul’s announcement, joined us.  They, sensing my anxiety, gathered around and offered looks and pats of comfort.

                I heard Paul sigh, a deep, weary sound that spoke of years and experience beyond his age.  “This is serious, Niall,” he told me grimly.

                “What will we do?” Liam asked for me.

                “Wait,” Zayn interrupted.  “What did we miss?”

                I shared a quick look with Liam, silently pleading for him to tell them.  My voice, raw feeling and tight, could not be trusted.  Liam nodded slightly, turning to the guys.  “Niall got a death threat,” he explained gravely.

                “What?” Harry gasped, apparently the only one able to speak out of the three of them.  All of them wore shocked, horrified faces.  After the initial shock went away, they gathered around me, offering a little solace from the fear that prickled in the pit of my stomach.

                “It is my job to protect you guys,” Paul started, getting down to business, “but there are certain procedures my company takes when a threat is made.”

                “Like what?” Liam asked, acting as our voice of reason.

                “Well, first Niall needs to decide if he’ll stay in the band-“

                “Of course,” I interrupted.  “Why wouldn’t I?”  Nothing was going to get me to leave, not when we had come so far.

                “Very well,” Paul nodded, knowing it would be pointless to try and convince me otherwise.  “Then we’ll need to get you a personal bodyguard.”

                “Isn’t that what you are?” Louis wondered.

                Paul shook his head.  “I am in charge of all of One Direction’s security.  Niall will need a personal bodyguard, basically a living shadow.”

                “That seems a bit extreme,” I noted.

                “It may be,” Paul admitted.  “But I’m sure we would all prefer that to you potentially being hurt.  Don’t worry,” he assured me, “the bodyguard will be temporary.  As regulation goes, we’ll turn this into the police and set up an investigation.  Once whoever sent this is caught, you will no longer need the guard.”

                We all remain quiet in contemplation.  I vaguely realized that this was probably the longest we had ever been serious at one time.  That just drove the point home.  This was serious; I could be in danger; the boys could be in danger.

                “Wait now?” Zayn broke the silence.

                “The bus’s engine is broken,” the security guard explained.  “We called for a trusted mechanic, but they may take a while.  Until then, we wait.”

                “And our other situation?” Harry added with the slightest hint of impatience.

                “We will need to begin looking for the right bodyguard,” Paul nodded.  “Whoever it is will be spending a lot of time with all of you.  We don’t want someone that will get you guys riled up.”

                “Us?  Riled up?” Louis attempted to lighten the tension on the bus.  “We’d never be like that, Paul!”

                The rest of us forced smiles, if not for ourselves then just to please Louis.  For a few minutes, we just awkwardly stood around each other before the silence was shattered by the crackle of Paul’s walkie-talkie.  He took it into his hand and responded to an unintelligible call.

                “The mechanic is on his way,” Paul said.

                “How long?” I asked, admittedly a bit nervous.

                “It may be a few hours,” he sighed.

                “No!” Louis cried melodramatically.  “I’m going to starve!”

                “There are plenty of snacks on the bus,” Paul assured us.

                “There used to be,” Harry corrected.  “Until Nialler ate all of it.”

                “Fine.  I’ll send someone to go pick up food from a nearby town,” Paul decided.

                “Why don’t we go?” Louis suggested.  “And you could come with us.”

                “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, guys,” Paul replied hesitantly.

                “Come on,” Harry urged.  “You can’t just leave the five of us here, on the bus, for hours, with nothing to do and nowhere to go,” he complained childishly.

                “And we could all go for something to take our minds off things,” I added.  I could, at least.  It was depressing to keep thinking of that letter.

                Paul sighed in defeat.  We were his employers, and he may not like it, but we got the final say in where we went.  “Okay, we’ll head into town,” he agreed, receiving a round of ‘yes’s from us.  “But will you at least try to lie low?”

                We happily agreed, ready to just throw on some hoodies and head out.  After grabbing some jackets, making sure to cover our heads and faces, and putting on fake mustaches, we stepped out of the bus.  The air outside was warm with the last bit of summer, but had a scent that was of autumn.  Colored leaves threatened to fall from the few trees, hanging on by single strands.

                Paul took the lead, while we took the time to goof off and do a bit of sight-seeing.  Granted, there wasn’t much to see, as it was a little town with no special attractions.  So we spent the walk there chatting and occasionally shoving each other playfully.

                Eventually Harry spotted a friendly, cozy-looking diner.  Everyone agreed to try it and we headed in.  it was comfortably warm, the lights bright, but not harsh.  The diner must’ve been from the 80’s, as it was clearly an older chip shop.

                Not many people were there, even though it was dinner time.  A polite older waitress offered us a booth and we all squeezed in.  The food they had on the menu was almost retro, and I ended up ordering at least three dishes.  We all excitedly waited for the waitress to come back with all the food.

                It wasn’t long before we were served and began to chow down.  After mouthfuls of food and nearly an hour of loud chatter, we were ready to pay and head out.  We were just leaving when Paul suddenly stopped behind us, his eyes locked on a wall where a bunch of new clippings were.

                He turned and stepped closer to the wall in order to read something.  We all shared a curious look before joining Paul and looking at a newspaper article from about three years ago.  It read:

Local Gym Owner Wins Championships

                One of the waitresses walked past, but not before Paul caught her attention.  “Where is this gym?” he asked, pointing to the article.

                “Oh, the Black Fist?” she wondered politely.  “It’s right down the street.  Take the second left.  It’s a pretty small place, but you won’t miss it,” she pointed in the direction.  “But,” the young woman leaned in conspiratorially, “be careful with the owner.  She’s a bit of a handful.”

                Paul thanked her and ushered us out of the diner before heading down the way the waitress showed us.

                “Where are we going?” Liam asked.

                “To the gym,” Paul replied.  “I think we just found your bodyguard.”

                “Really?” I wondered.  “Who?”

                “Her name is Mariella Miles,” Paul explained.  “She won the MMA World Championships a few years back.  We met in college.”

                “She won World Champions and she lives here?” Zayn asked curiously.

                “It’s her hometown,” was Paul’s short reply.

                We fell into a tense silence, the subject of needing a bodyguard causing me to quiet.  Heading down the street, we turned onto a side street.  Outside, the sun was setting, casting an orange light on the peaceful city.  A small building loomed in front of us.  It was only two stories high and seemed rather squished between the other buildings.  Out front was a huge sign, half lit up and half darkened, announcing the place as the Black Fist.

                “Here we are,” Paul stopped in front of the double doors.

                “Let’s go,” Harry decided, pushing past the doors and leading us inside.

                There was a little waiting room inside; the chairs along the walls were empty; a counter had stacks of paper on it, but was currently vacant.  Behind the counter, I spotted what looked like a dog bed.  A doorway led out from the room, and from there loud shouts echoed.

                Without waiting for any permission, we continued through the door and towards the sound of voices.  We came out to a stop in a spacious, dimly light gym.  The roof was high up, a multitude of fighting equipment around a professional looking boxing ring that was situated in the middle of the gym.

                In the center of the ring, a middle-aged man in a collared shirt and dress pants held a fake microphone.  Beside him, off to the side of the ring, a broad-shouldered man about our age stood silently.  He was shirtless, sporting a well-defined eight pack, and was at least six feet tall.

                “Everyone,” the middle-aged man shouted in an announcer voice.  “Introducing the challenger, the Prince of Pain, the Ruler of Righteousness, Johnny Branigan!”

                Cheers erupted from the crowd, but were quieted as the announcer went on.  “And now, ladies and gents, introducing the Duchess of Daring, the Foreigner of Fear, the Undefeated Champion of Black Fist, Rory Miles!”

                This time the cheers were even louder, giving off a vibe similar to that of our own concerts.  A lithe girl leaped over into the ring.  She was probably about five and a half feet tall and only came up to the guy’s shoulder.  Her face reminded me of a pixie and her petite stature didn’t help.  Pulled back from her face, her curly blonde was up in a high ponytail.

                “Who has she been fighting against?” Louis murmured.  “Five-year-olds?”

                “That guy is going to cream her,” Harry agreed.

                “Remember our rules,” the man added.  “And fight!”

                Instantly the fighters charged at each other, the man having to jump out of the way.  The guy, Johnny, swung a heavy punch in the girl’s direction.  At first, I thought it was going to collide right with her jaw but she nimbly ducked out of the way and lashed out at his legs, sweeping them out from him.  He managed to regain his footing and advanced again.  This was basically repeated several times until the girl managed to get on his back.  Falling back, he tried to squish her, but she skillfully shifted out of the way and he landed roughly on his back.  She grabbed his arm and twisted it back, hitting her other hand against the joint of his elbow.  Pressing a knee into his spine, she held him down.

                Johnny gave into the pain and tapped his hand against the ring three times.  Rory immediately released him, pushing off of him and getting up.  With a smug smirk, she offered a hand and helped the guy up.

                She gave him a peck on the cheek before climbing out of the ring.  As the crowd dispersed, the girl spotted us and began to head over.  She stopped right in front of us, crossing her arms and narrowing her eyes.

                “Who are you and what do you want?” she demanded.

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