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.


9. tuesday hat

The next three days saw a new pattern begin to slowly establish itself in the Evans household. The awkwardness of sharing a house with five boys dissipated surprisingly quickly, probably owing to the fact that the two parties spent a lot of time apart. Gwen had to give their unlikely house guests credit—for all their obnoxiousness, they certainly knew how to give their hosts space and were surprisingly polite for the most part, often staying in their basement confines for large portions of the day.
Life had taken on a certain stagnant quality in the heat of the summer. A lot of time was spent playing video games, eating and generally accomplishing nothing. Gwen joined the odd PlayStation session (mostly at Niall's request) but preferred to spend her days in the backyard, curled up on the soft grass with her nose in a book. Sydney, however, clung to One Direction in a fashion that could only be described as suffocating. She seemed to feel as though any time not spent in their presence was a complete waste of life, and had developed a habit of camping out by various registers around the house when her idols retreated to the basement for some "alone time".
It was strange, Gwen sometimes mused, how quickly one could adapt to such a completely insane situation. If someone had told her a couple of weeks ago that One Direction would soon be living in her house, she would have laughed in their face (and then maybe felt a little nauseous at the actual concept). Right now, however, it felt as though she was living in some sort of a weird, alternate universe.
Tuesday morning started off in much the same way as its predecessors. Gwen, already dressed and showered, was standing in the kitchen, spatula in hand, laboring over a pan of scrambled eggs. On another burner, bacon sizzled and spewed.
"That smells foul," was Sydney's lifeless morning greeting as she shuffled into the kitchen, looking slightly bleary-eyed as she pushed a hand sleepily through her blonde bangs.
Gwen glanced sideways at her sister's lethargic figure. "Up all night listening to Harry snore through the register again, were you?" she shot back in a tone that was almost bored.
Sydney narrowed her eyes as she switched on the coffee maker. "I told you, I thought I dropped an earring into it."
"Right." Gwen's eyebrow raise was directed not at her sister, but at the scalding pan in front of her. "Mum and Dad might call today," she noted, changing the subject as she shuffled the eggs around one last time and switched the burner off. It had been a couple of days since Max and Teresa's last phone call, which had caught them completely off guard. This time, they wanted to be prepared.
"What's our story?" Sydney asked, glancing up as she poured granola into a pink bowl.
"I was feeling a lot better yesterday so we cleaned up our rooms, and today, we plan on... baking cookies? I dunno." Gwen shrugged, prodding a piece of bacon and deciding that it was fully cooked. "What do you think?"
"Sounds good," Sydney agreed, and then suddenly jumped back as though she had been given an electric shock, dragging her bowl with her. "Jeez, Gwen! A little warning, please!"
Gwen, who had been draining the grease from the bacon, shot her sister a look of complete incredulity. "Sydney, I'm on the other side of the kitchen. It can't splash that far."
"You don't know that," Sydney muttered, checking her clothes for oil stains and then peering inside of her bowl to ensure that her breakfast had not been contaminated.
Predictably, it was at that very moment that a loud shout of "BACON!" resounded through the kitchen and the basement door burst open, revealing Niall's gleeful face.
Harry emerged a second later, pulling at the hem of his T-shirt and tousling his already sleep-worn hair as he squinted sullenly in Niall’s and Zayn' direction. "Inside voice," he groaned. "Please."
But Niall had already flung himself onto one of the bar stools at the Evans' counter, eyeing the bacon affectionately as Gwen began heaping it onto plates. Harry followed suit, looking distinctively less awake than Niall or Zayn as he collapsed onto the stool beside him. "Morning," he greeted the girls with a lazy lift of his head.
Gwen caught his eye and was about to respond when Sydney suddenly cut in front of her. "Good morning, Harry!" she addressed him cheerfully. She wasted no time at all in grabbing her coffee and her breakfast and plonking herself down in the seat cross of him, the bowl hitting the countertop with a loud clink as she did so.
Gwen, who for the thousandth time wondered when Sydney would tire of this whole charade, sighed and picked up a couple of plates. "Here, before you wet yourself..." She set one in front of Niall and Zayn, who immediately shoved about five to six pieces of bacon into their mouths at once. "Sherioufshly Quinn, you're the besht!" was Zayn’s sloppy expression of gratitude. Niall nodded his head in agreement.
Harry gave a small smile as he received his breakfast. "Thanks, Firecracker."
"Is there any more bacon?" Niall queried immediately, looking slightly forlorn as he stared at the bare spot on his plate.
"What—How?—you ate it all already?" Gwen looked alarmed. "How is that even possible?"
"Here," Harry picked up his plate and shuffled his own share onto Niall's mound of scrambled eggs. "Take mine, if it'll shut you up."
"I love you," Niall sighed.
Harry quirked an eyebrow. "Uh, thanks."
"I was talking to the bacon."
Beside them, Sydney mumbled something about cardiac arrest and shoved a spoonful of granola into her mouth.
There was a muted creaking noise as the basement door swung open once again and two more figures stepped into the kitchen. Liam, if possible, looked even worse than Harry as he dragged his feet over the final step; on top of his generally disheveled appearance, he sported dark circles under bloodshot eyes and the kind of pallor that suggested serious illness. Louis, on the other hand, looked as though he'd had the best beauty sleep of his life. His eyes were wide open and he'd donned a lime green baseball cap for no apparent reason.
Liam fell into a chair at the kitchen table, and Zayn took a break from eating his food long enough to swivel around on his bar stool and ruffle his bandmate's hair. "'Sup, Lee? You look like crap."
Liam said nothing in response, just propped his elbows up on the table and put his forehead in his hands. Harry turned around and put a hand on his shoulder, leaning closer to whisper something that Gwen couldn't make out, to which Liam shook his head in response.
Gwen, who found herself becoming increasingly concerned, wasted no time in pouring him a large cup of coffee and loading up his plate with bacon, eggs, and toast. She brought his breakfast round to the table and placed it in front of him.
"Geez, I knew you guys were used to pampering but I didn't think you'd take this badly to sleeping on the floor."
"Please, Quinn," scoffed Zayn, "I'm pretty sure somebody sewed rocks into the carpet while you weren't looking. My back is covered in bruises."
Gwen just rolled her eyes at him and turned back to Liam, folding her arms uncomfortably as she eyed his crumpled figure. "Is it really that bad?"
He lifted his head to peer at her through glassy eyes. "No, it's alright—I mean, the basement's fine. I've just been feeling a bit off lately." He picked up the coffee and put it to his lips, and then paused. "Sorry, but would you mind getting some sugar for this?"
"No problem," said Gwen.
"Excuse me, Milady." Gwen looked up to see Louis lounged ungracefully across two chairs. He swung his cap around to the side and winked at her—a feat he made to look quite difficult. "I'd care for some breakfast, too, please."
Gwen raised an eyebrow at him. She wasn't sure whether he was going for Elizabethan or gangster; quite frankly, this change in behavior was a little scary. She looked to the other for an explanation.
"You'll have to ignore him," Harry said, shaking his head. "That—" he gestured at the gaudy baseball cap "—is Louis's Tuesday Hat. Management gave it to him. Told him to make it 'his thing' 'cause his ratings weren't doing too well and he needed something new... long story. Anyway, he thinks he has to act like this ladies' man or something whenever he has it on. None of us really understand, to tell the truth." As Harry finished they all looked to Louis, who was nodding along approvingly and flashing them the "aaa-okay" sign with one hand.
Gwen could not seem to think of any sort of logical reply to this revelation. Finally, she turned to Harry and Niall. "... Is he on something?"
This caused Zayn to burst out in a loud, snorting gale of laughter. "Nope. One hundred percent Louis—no drugs involved."
"Right," Gwen finally uttered. She examined the lime green monstrosity again. "Well, it's certainly... eye-catching."
"It has its own fan page on Facebook," Louis informed her with a disturbing wiggle of his eyebrows.
Gwen grimaced. "That's... nice." She slipped back around the counter, loaded up Louis's breakfast plate in a flash, and retrieved a box of sugar cubes from the top cupboard. After depositing everything on the table, she announced, "I'm going to go feed the cat." Without another word, she grabbed a tin of cat food from the bottom of the pantry and slipped out the back door. "Copper!" she called sweetly. "Breakfast!"
Immediately, an orange missile shot down the stairs and straight out the door, which Gwen had left open a crack. Copper brushed against her legs contentedly for a few seconds before allowing her to scoop him up and carry him toward the shed.
"What the hell is a Tuesday Hat?" she muttered into Copper's furry ear. He let out a gurgle sort of meow in response. "You're lucky you're a cat, so you don't have to deal with this insanity."
For the past three days, Gwen had been thinking about this exactly—dealing with things. One Direction couldn't exactly camp out in the Evans’s' basement forever. Not only were they a pain in the buttocks (though an admittedly less prominent pain than they had initially been) it wasn't helping their situation at all to stay in hiding. They were only allowing Dal DeMort more time to plot against them and build up his forces, so that he could attack the moment they stepped into the public eye. Gwen had given the matter some serious thought, and as much as she hated to admit it, she and Sydney were a part of this mess now, and they would inevitably have to be a part of the solution. As she emptied Copper's flakes of salmon into his dish, Gwen decided that she would announce her resolve to One Direction when she returned to the house. After all, she didn't want them getting it in their heads that they could stay here indefinitely. Having them around for the summer was one thing—but even if they could miraculously get Max and Sue on board, there would be a whole new series of complications when school started up again. What would Gwen's friends think if they found Harry Styles in her basement? She shuddered at the thought.
By the time she got back to the kitchen, everyone was just about finished eating. Feeling absolutely ravenous, Gwen washed her hands and loaded up a plate of bacon and eggs. She was just sitting down at the table when Sydney and One Direction all began to rise from their seats simultaneously, leaving Gwen alone with her bacon and eggs. "Thanks for breakfast, Quinn!" Zayn called cheerfully, and Louis tipped his Tuesday Hat at her as One Direction made for the basement door.
"Hey!" Gwen snapped in indignation, not entirely sure why she felt so angry at her abandonment. They weren't exactly pleasant company, she reminded herself—and yet it had been quite nice (that one time, anyway) to sit down and have an actual conversation with the lot of them. One Direction turned around to look at her in surprise. "I wake up at the crack of dawn to cook you all breakfast and this is the thanks I get?"
The boys sheepishly retook their seats, Harry and Zayn exchanging a wary glance.
"You, too, Sydney," Gwen called out to her sister, who was lacing up her shoes for her morning jog. "You're not getting out of this, you know."
Sydney, who would normally have protested, just shrugged and happily perched herself on the barstool next to Harry, where she sat staring at him with horribly gooey admiration.
Somewhat satisfied, Gwen shoveled some bacon a few forkfuls of scrambled eggs into her mouth. She was in the midst of chewing when she looked up to see all five boys staring at her with expressions somewhere between fearful and expectant.
Gwen swallowed hard; an un-chewed morsel of bacon caught painfully in her throat. "What, do you think I'm going to yell at you or something?"
Harry cracked a tiny smile. "Well, sort of. I really thought you'd want us to go away and give you some space, so this is a little strange, to tell the truth."
"Indeed 'tis."
"Shut up, Louis."

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