One Struck

Gwen Evans is looking forward to summer - until she finds the One Direction, England's top-selling band, hiding in her barn. Now, she has to deal with rock star egos, an unwanted admirer, and the dark force that sent them into hiding in the first place.

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11. hello

"Hi... Sydney?" Sue's voice had a hint of uncertainty in it.
Gwen couldn't help but bristle slightly at being mistaken for her sister. "No, Mum, it's Gwen."
"Oh, sorry Gwen. You girls sound so similar these days. How are you?"
"Fine. I'm feeling much better today," she responded with forced cheerfulness, adding: "Sydney and I baked cookies."
Her mother let out a strange sort of sigh. "That sounds lovely."
"How are things with you and Dad?" Gwen asked, brushing off a niggling sense of unease about her mother's tone of voice.
"Oh, fine," Sue replied, and then sighed again. "Your father's out fishing right now. We're missing you girls something terrible – the cottage just isn't the same without you here."
Gwen didn't have time to wonder about her mother's tone this time, however, because she was distracted by an odd discord of noises coming from the sitting room. Mouth twisting into a suspicious frown, she moved around the corner and glanced in.
What she saw made her wonder if her eyes were deceiving her.
Zayn and Sydney were having an intense sword fight with what looked like ballpoint pens while Louis and Niall sat on the coffee table, commentating in a tragically bad American accent.
"Are you mental? Cut it out!" Gwen hissed angrily, holding the phone to her chest.
The duelers lowered their weapons, and Louis and Niall's voice trailed off. Harry and Liam sat side by side on the couch, looking resigned to the chaos.
"Gwen? Are you still there?" Sue's voice projected faintly from the earpiece.
Gwen fumbled to shove the phone back up against her ear. "Sorry Mum. Phone must've cut out. Err... what were you saying?"
"Just that I miss you girls."
"Miss you, too, Mum," Gwen replied distractedly. Zayn and Sydney had begun faintly clicking their pens against one another again. "Shut up!"
"Excuse me?"
"No, not you. Just... Sydney. You know, being annoying," Gwen rambled, sending her sister a death glare. Sydney responded in kind.
"Now, Gwen, I hope you two are making an effort to get along while we're away," Sue scolded, and Gwen had a perfect visual of the rebuking face that her mother was without a doubt currently wearing.
She clenched her fists. "Yes, Mum."
"Would you mind if I spoke with your sister, dear?"
"Not at all," Gwen responded dully.
"Love you, sweetie."
Gwen sighed. "Love you, too." She removed the phone from her ear and held it out sharply. "Sydney. Phone," she snapped.
With a snotty expression, Sydney snatched the device rudely from her hands and sashayed into the kitchen, a loud "Hi, Mummy!" trailing in her wake.
As she listened to the echo of Sydney's voice from the other room, Gwen leaned against the door frame with her arms crossed and an irritated expression stamped across her features. She must have looked quite frightening, because One Direction remained deathly silent this time round, Zayn' pen laying abandoned on the coffee table. Harry caught Gwen's eye once, raising his eyebrows slightly in recognition, before resuming his blank stare at the wallpaper.
Finally, after subjecting them all to a long, gushing conversation ranging from nail polish to the new issue of Marie Claire, Sydney hung up the phone and reappeared in the sitting room.
"Well, that went well," she chirped.
Gwen made a face that conveyed her desire to strangle her. "That was almost a complete disaster, you idiot!"
"What are you talking about? Mum didn't suspect a thing."
"Oh, really?" Gwen snarled. "Well, next time you feel like acting like a complete moron with Twiddle Dum, Twiddle Dumber, and Twiddle Dumbest over there," she jerked a thumb towards Zayn, Louis, and Niall, "please try and restrain yourself."
While Zayn looked affronted, Louis raised his hand. "Wait, am I Twiddle Dum or Twiddle Dumber?"
"Why do you always have to make such a big deal out of everything?" Sydney threw back, ignoring Louis. "It's over now, alright? Nothing happened."
Gwen wanted to fight back – she really did – but suddenly, she just didn't seem to have the energy left inside of her. She let out a breath, willing all of the anger to ebb out along with the carbon dioxide. Surprisingly, it seemed to work. "Fine," she said curtly. "Why don't we get started on our research?"
"Good idea," Harry agreed, looking relieved that the fighting had come to an end.
As always, his enthusiasm was immediately copied by Sydney. "I'll go get Dudley!" she announced. There was a light pounding noise as she ran up the stairs.
"Who's Dudley?" Zayn asked, looking confused.
Gwen didn't have a chance to respond before her sister was back on the staircase, this time descending at a painfully slow rate, as though every footstep was being carefully calculated in her head. Held in her hands like some sort of precious artifact was a hot pink laptop that was covered in fluffy trim.
Dudley. He was Sydney's pride and joy – she had added the embellishments herself one afternoon in a slightly frightening session involving a hot glue gun and an old feather boa. Apparently, she'd been going for a 'baby angel' theme. Gwen thought the end result was more reminiscent of a pig in a wig.
"You... named your laptop?" Zayn gaped at the pink device. "Dudley?"
"Yes," Sydney replied casually; she didn't seem to have caught the mocking intonation in his words. As she set the bundle of fluff down onto the table, Harry and Liam exchanged looks of vague amusement.
Gwen, on the other hand, watched the scenario in complete disinterest. After all, there were more important things to worry about at present than Sydney's unusual habit of naming inanimate, fuzz-covered objects. In the name of productivity, she began to drag chairs around to the end of the table so that they could all have a decent view of the screen.
That is, until she was interrupted by a loud, "Allow me, Milady!" and turned to find Louis and Niall pulling a chair forward gallantly and gesturing for her to sit. There was a strange moment where Gwen glanced from the lime-green disaster that was his Tuesday Hat to Sydney, who was petting Dudley fondly, and felt her heart sink a little. She was surrounded by lunatics.
"Err, thanks," she muttered, gingerly taking a seat.
Niall offered a bow in response, and a moment later, the seven of them were arranged in a semi-circle around Dudley, with Sydney at the controls. Liam, Gwen, Louis and Niall were sitting down while Zayn and Harry stood at the rear, hands resting on the chair backs in front of them.
Zayn let out a loud snort when Sydney's desktop background loaded, and Gwen couldn't blame him – it was an artsy, black and white shot of Harry with the word 'Believe' superimposed in cursive writing across the bottom. Unable to stop herself, Gwen stole a look back at the subject himself and was pleased to see that he looked quite uncomfortable. Sydney, predictably, did not seem embarrassed in the slightest – rather, she looked happy to show her idol just how far her loyalty extended.
The more Zayn stared at the photograph, the funnier he seemed to find it. "Believe," he choked, the intended overly dramatic edge completely lost in his amusement. He dropped a hand onto his messy-haired friend's shoulder and sniffed, pretending to be overcome by emotion. "Harry, I'm so inspired by you right now."
Sydney somehow managed to glare at Zayn while simultaneously sending hopeful, flirty glances in Harry' direction; the resulting expression looked completely demented.
Harry, on the other hand, simply looked chagrined. "Shut up, Zayn."
"Can we get to the point?" Gwen cut in. "Sydney, open up the internet."
"Don't tell me what to do, Gwen," her sister snapped back. Then, she waited about thirty seconds, watching Gwen drum her fingers against the table in irritation, before she finally clicked on the Internet Explorer icon. It was such a petty, Sydney-ish thing to do that Gwen wanted to kick her.
When the browser window popped up, they were slapped with another glaring symptom of Sydney's out-of-control obsession. Her home page was set to 'One Direction land', a black and red themed site which boasted the words 'Number 1 Direction fan site on the net!" in obnoxiously bold text across the top. Underneath this, there was a banner similar in dramatic impact to the Believe image, only this time it featured all four boys in various intense, brooding poses. Gwen gagged a little internally.
In what was probably a force of habit, Sydney began idly scrolling through the comments section. Part of Gwen wanted to tell her to quit it and get back on track, but her curiosity got the better of her and soon enough, she was reading them too. What she saw was mildly frightening.
Comment from: directionette4life
Harry isn't answering any of my messages on Facebook. I’m worried. HARRY IF YOU'RE READING THIS I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much!
Comment from: pappasmurffsgirl
oh my gosh you guys, i just ate a mars bar and then I remembered that Liam loves chocolate and i just started crying. :'( i'm sooooo depressed right now. where are they?
Reply from: cutiechick97
OMG I KNOW! i had to stay home from school today because i was dipressed. :( :( :(
Comment from: EbonyStyles
just found this picture from last year's summer tour and it made me sad. i want my boys back!
(Here, there was a photo of Harry and Zayn, both looking sweaty and windswept but completely joyful, with their arms slung around a round-faced girl who was squinting into the sun. Zayn' tongue was out and his hand formed a loose rock on sign, while Harry was holding his water bottle up in the air for some reason, causing his black t-shirt to rise and reveal a good portion of a stomach that would make an actual washboard feel fat.)
Reply from: Zayninlove
omg you met them? i am uber jealous, girlie! lol, only Zayn can pull off that face and still look ridiculously hot -swoon-
Reply from: Stylesishotter
two words guys: Harry' abs.
Reply from: directionerette4life
drool... he is so sexy
Gwen let out an involuntary snort at this comment. However she very determinedly did not chance a look around at Harry, lest he think she was trying to glimpse those muscles herself. This proved to be much harder work than it should have been.
Comment from: xmischief_totally_managedx
Zayn u guys, WHERE R THEY? i no it hasnt been that long but im worried. wut if their dead or sumthing?
Reply from: cutiechick97
NONOOOOOOOOO don't say that! if they died i think i would die to. OMGGG...
Reply from: sparkle08
Well i know where Harry is... He secretly ran away to marry me and we're on our honeymoon now. sorry guys.
RE: Reply from: Stylesishotter
gtfo you dumb bitch, this isn't a joke.
Reply from: iloveMWPP
oh my gosh, you're gonna make me cry :(
Reply from: marauderette4life
why did it have to be them? take justin bieber for pettigrew's sake but not our  One Direction!
RE: Reply from: princesspaynelover
HELL YES!
RE: RE: Reply from:itskelsyall
hey i like justin bieber...
RE: RE: RE: Reply from: Zayninlove
TRAITOR!
RE: RE: RE: Reply from: blacksoul243
kill her
"Okay, enough," Gwen said loudly. While Sydney was transfixed by the messages, emoting accordingly as she read each one—sighing, nodding in agreement, turning to flutter her eyelashes at Harry, snorting indignantly—One Direction' faces had morphed gradually from perplexed to amused, and from there to moderately uncomfortable. Gwen wore a look of utmost revulsion; reading through these comments gave her the feeling of injecting her brain with an overdose of stupid. "Can we get on with it? This is hardly helping."
Sydney stuck her chin out and said calmly, "Of course it is, Gwen. This is how the Directionettes show their appreciation for their favorites boys." She sniffed. "It's very touching, and I'm sure Harry would agree." She whipped around to flash him a dazzling smile.
"Err, Directionettes?" said Harry, looking slightly frightened.
"Your fans, silly!" said Sydney. "It's what we call ourselves. I personally voted for Superdirectionoholics, but others weren't so keen on that one."
"I wonder why," Gwen deadpanned, but Sydney ignored her.
"So what is this website, anyway?" Liam asked, warily eying the overdramatic formatting.
Miraculously, Sydney tore her eyes away from Harry in order to begin her explanation. She scrolled up to the top of the page. "This is One Direction land," she said proudly. "It's where Directionettes from all over the world share their stories of love, hope, and inspiration."
"Yeah, 'kill her' is real inspirational," Niall muttered.
Gwen, with her eyes closed and two fingers pinching the bridge of her nose, decided to clarify. "It's a site for unhealthily obsessed tweens to talk about how hot you are." She couldn't see her sister's resulting glare, but she felt it pierce through her like a thousand daggers.
"Actually," Sydney said, "it's a place to share love toward you guys. I've been a member since day one. We've been hoping you guys would find it, so you could read our messages and all..." A somewhat manic smile crept up slowly on her face. "And now you have. The admins are goanna love me."
"Except that if you tell them, we're as good as dead," Harry reminded her gravely.
Sydney's complexion reddened a little. "Of course," she said, though it didn't sound as though this had occurred to her. "But are you sure I couldn't just—"
"Sydney," Gwen snapped, "this is not what we came on here to do. Just open up a search engine, for heavens' sakes."
"I'll do it when I'm good and ready, thank you," Sydney shot back. Not a moment later, however, she seemed to realize how awkward and pointless the whole display was and grudgingly brought up Google. "Right, so... what am I looking up?"
There was a moment of silence. What were they looking for, exactly? There was so much that they needed to figure out that it was difficult to know where to start. Eventually, Gwen uncrossed her arms and leaned forward. "Why don't we look up Dal in the news?" she suggested. "We need to find out where he is and what he's doing."
Sydney complied, and a millisecond later, a page of articles popped up on the screen. Blindly clicking on the first heading, she brought them to a news story entitled 'DeMort Disappears from Public Eye'.
'After the disastrous opening of his new London megastore, prominent multimillionaire Dal DeMort has been flying under the radar. The Russian tycoon was last seen at the heavily publicized event, which rock sensations One Direction famously failed to attend (see article). Sources close to DeMort remain silent about his location, but his London penthouse has reportedly been empty for over a week. All things considered, it would seem that he's taken a leaf out of One Direction' books and pulled a disappearing act. Are these two bizarre flights from the spotlight connected? Only time will tell.'
"Great," Gwen ground out. "That's a fat lot of help."
"Why would Dal go into hiding, too?" Sydney asked, scrunching her nose in confusion.
"I dunno, but I've got a bad feeling about all this," Zayn responded.
Liam grimaced. "Me, too."
Louis, meanwhile, was tugging at the sleeves of his sweater anxiously.
"Maybe one of the other articles would be more helpful?" Harry suggested.
As though her only purpose in life was to obey his every command, Sydney immediately backtracked to the search results. The rest of the stories, however, all seemed to be more or less rehashed versions of the exact same thing; apparently, no one knew where Dal DeMort was.
"Well, that's just fantastic," Zayn said.
Liam looked frustrated. "If only we had some way to track him down."
"Think," Gwen ordered One Direction. "Do you have any idea what his plans were before you left?"
There was a moment where the four boys looked at one another, eyebrows twitching as though silently trying to decide whether or not to share whatever they were all thinking of. Finally, they seemed to reach a decision in their little mute conversation, and Liam sighed.
"The tour," he said.
"Wait, what tour?" Sydney demanded, looking between One Direction inquisitively. "There were no tour dates on your website. I check it every day."
"That's because it hadn't been announced yet," Harry explained. "I guess we didn't exactly tell you everything the other night. See, the London concert was meant to be the first show of the bunch, and then we were going to announce the rest. A summer tour of every Dal-Mart in the country."
Gwen made a face. "You were going to be spending your summer playing at Dal-Marts?" she choked. "Talk about lame concert venues."
"Didn't exactly have a choice, did we, Quinn?" Zayn threw back.
"The tour will be cancelled now, anyway," Liam pointed out. "So that doesn't help us find Dal."
Gwen let out a frustrated breath. "I wish we had some sort of Dal DeMort locating device," she said. "Or at least someone who knew how to track people down."
"Well, I don't know of any computer-hacking super geeks," Zayn said dully, "do you?"
"No," Sydney responded at exactly the same time as Gwen said, "Actually..."
All heads turned to the latter. "You know someone who could help us?" Harry asked.
Sydney, clearly upset that the spotlight had shifted, butted in before Gwen could say a word. "I don't see why we need some four-eyed loser to help us when I'm perfectly capable of solving this on my own." In a desperate attempt to prove herself, she rapidly backtracked to Google and typed in "Dal DeMort's super-secret webpage thingy," backspacing several times to correct her spelling.
The others ignored her, turning their focus back to Gwen. "So?"

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