Strange Paths

Carolina's life has been far from normal. A cross-dressing father, rich friends, a position as a personal manager in the 'elite' 1D studio...she couldn't believe life could get any weirder than this. Maybe she shouldn't have tempted fate.

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1. Free Time?

''But Carolina – You don't understand! Daddy just wants to make sure his daughter is safe!''Louis' whining cut into her brain as she sat there wishing she wasn't listening to his ranting.''You don't know what boys are capable of! What they would want to try and do to a beautiful princess like you'' His voice had gone up an octave as he spoke, causing not only Carolina but the rest of the band to wince.''I forbid you to talk to those boys ever again.'' the honey haired singer proclaimed, and Carolina snapped.

 

Before Louis could react she had sprung from her chair and backed him against the wall, one finger jabbing hard against his chest as she let loose with weeks of pent-up anger and frustration.

''How DARE you ''

''But, Caro-'' he tried to interrupt, but she only jabbed him harder.

''NO, Tomlinson!'' she growled.

''You've said your piece. Now you listen to me.'' So focused was she on her current target that she didn't notice the reactions of her friends – most notably the grin the Malik Twins gave one another, expressions of pure delight on their mischievous faces as they stepped slowly closer, wanting front row seats for what promised to be the reaming of a lifetime. Oblivious to anything else, however, Carolina proceeded to unleash a verbal barrage on her 'band leader'. 

''First off, get it through that empty head of yours – I am NOT YOUR DAUGHTER. I don't know what on earth seems to be telling you I am, but I swear if my father was even remotely like you I'd have run away from home by now! So shut it!'' She vaguely heard muffled gasps from the band but she was on a roll now, everything that had been building over the past few months coming out in a veritable torrent.

''So since we have ascertained that I wouldn't be caught dead with a father like you, let's clear something else up. I am not a princess. I am not an angel. You need to get me off that pedestal you have me on. I am a normal ordinary person, Louis, and it's almost insulting how you think I'm so helpless and fragile. I've been taking care of myself for a lot longer than you have, you snotty rich bastard! And I know quite well what those boys wanted. Which was why I turned down their invitation to dinner. Do you understand? I. Turned. Them. Down. Though it's none of your business what I do or not. Nothing I do in my private life is any of your business. I'm sick of you sticking your aristocratic nose into everything! If I want to sleep with half the school, I can! Hell, if I decided to cover myself in Nialls cake and let Jayn and Zayn lick it off of me, it would be up to me and there is not a FUCK you can do about it! I am sick of your assumptions. I an tired of trying to live up to your expectations of me – expectations you have no right to have in the first place. I'm done, Lois. I'm done.''She turned away from him, leaving him to whatever fit of despondency he chose to act out this time, and came face-to-face with five friends in various stages awe, shock, and respect.

 

Body still shaking from her vehemence she stood there silently meeting their gazes one by one –Liam, inscrutable as always, yet there seemed to be a new, quiet regard in his dark gaze. In contrast, Niall, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open, fork frozen halfway to his lips, looked like he had just been witness to a goddess raining her wrath down upon the earth. Harry, amusement and commiseration warring in his countenance, inclined his head ever-so-slightly in praise. Jayn and Zayn, however, had dropped to their knees in front of her, pleading expressions on their faces as they locked their dark,yet seductive, eyes to hers.

''Carolina-''began Jayn.

''Will you-''followed Zayn.

''Marry us, please?'' they finished in unison, worship in their tone and not a hint of mockery in their eyes. But Carolina had had enough. With one swift motion she reached out and, placing a hand on either of their heads, smacked them together with a snarl before grabbing her Candy Bag and storming out of Studio 13. The door slammed shut and for a moment all that could be heard was Louis' soft sobbing from the corner he'd run to.

''Well, it seems Carolina is more than capable of handling herself,'' Harry mused with a chuckle before returning to his seat. From their places on the floor, the twins shared a glance. ''That was'' the elder Malik(only three min. older btw Zayn) whispered.

''Amazingly hot'' finished the younger in the same quiet tone.

They sat, sharing a moment of identical thoughts before grinning at one another. Had Carolina been in the room, the expression on their faces would have worried her immensely. After a bit, Jayn spoke.

''Mother will love her.''Zayn nodded and as one they stood and headed to their usual seats. After all, the Group will start recording their new track. Later they would be able to plot and scheme to their hearts' content.    «««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««♡★♡»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»

After her temper had run its course, having been worked out through the therapeutic repetitiveness of her daily chores, Carolina collapsed on the floor in front of her mother's picture and dropped her head into her hands.

''Mom...I miss you.'' Her whisper sounded unnaturally loud in the quiet room. She was still sitting there when her father came home. With a glance at the spotless house and another at her bag sitting in the corner, he knew something was wrong. Not wanting to startle her Jaxon approached slowly, forgoing his instinctive desire to talk in favor of sitting silently beside his daughter. The Mallete's rested there together in a comfortable silence, but he could tell she was troubled. He put his arm around her shoulders like he used to when she was younger, but kept quiet. If they were going to talk, she had to speak first. His patience was rewarded by the sound of her voice, small and sad.

''I screwed up, Dad.'' 

''Do you want to talk about it?'' he asked just as softly. She leaned into his side and rested her head on his chest. For a minute he thought maybe she'd dozed off, but then he heard her soft murmur.

''I love the guys, I really do. And I enjoy being their manager. But I'm so sick of everyone – well, of Louis mostly – treating me like a breakable child without the sense to look after myself'' Despite Jaxon's dislike of the Tomlinson boy, he remained calm as he replied.

''You know it's just because they care about you. They don't want to see you hurt. I can understand that.'' He smiled down at her, giving the hair that rested gently on her back a gentle tug like he used to when she was small and being stubborn. She chuckled, but it sounded weary. ''I know. It's wonderful to have so many friends. And I care for them too, so much. But I don't feel they see me for me sometimes. The twins aren't' so bad. And Niall and Liam are great.Harry...well, I can tell when he's worried, but at least he doesn't smother me. It's just...'' She trailed off, not sure what words would convey what she was feeling.

''You want to be able to make your own choices without someone else telling you what's good or bad for you.''

 ''Exactly. They mean well, but I need my freedom.''

 ''Have you thought about maybe stepping down, leaving the group?...your a bit to young for this job.'' He knew what her answer was before he saw her indignant glare. ''No way. I love them.'' He smiled to reassure her, having asked the question so she could hear her own answer.

''Then maybe taking a break? Having some Carolina-time? Don't you have a break coming up in a few weeks?'' As much as he loved his little girl, he really had no head for dates. ''Yeah. The weekend after next is a four day weekend.''

''Then why don't you take a break? Go to the beach. Travel L.A. Whatever. Take some time to find yourself again.'' He could tell she was hesitantly considering the idea so he just sat there and let her think, content that he still had some sort of bond with his mature, responsible, level-headed daughter. Finally she looked up at him. ''I think...that sounds like a good idea,'' she said aloud.

''But what about-''

 ''No buts, Caro. Just take some time to think of yourself. You spend all your time thinking of everyone else, how to help them, whether they're happy – for once you need to focus on you. On Carolina. Find her again. You've been working so hard to do everything – I don't want to see you lose yourself in the shuffle.'' He gave her a hug and kissed her hair before standing up. She made as if to rise as well, but he waved her back down.

''Dinner will be my job tonight. You just relax. You've got a lot to think about.'' Her small smile warmed his heart.

''Thank you, Dad. I needed that.''

''Anytime, darling. After all, I am your father. I'm here for you.'' With that he left the room, giving Carolina and her thoughts some time to be alone together.

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