MIND GAMES [One Direction fanfiction] - 13 and up

Harry Styles was just a normal teenage boy, a normal teenage boy who had a happy life and was quite content to live it the way nature had intended: completely normally, with no weird happenings or crazy adventures. Yet some things, it would seem, are destined to be, and it would appear that Harry’s fate was to be abducted by insane strangers intent on experimenting on him, and their four other hand-picked victims. Harry sometimes feels so alone, even when his best friends are only a few metres away - and he can’t seem to help but be afraid, because there are so very few things left in his life for him to control…

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8. Chapter eight.

Louis was smirking all over his face while Niall shook his head and swore in annoyance. The new clothes he’d been lent were hanging off him in scorched shreds, his face was pink with exertion and his blond hair was sticking to his sweaty forehead, but other than that, he was still unharmed – and Harry was extremely jealous of that fact. Taking a deep breath, Niall shook his head, blew upwards to cool himself off a little, then rolled his shoulders to loosen up and nodded at Louis.

“Again, Lou.”

“For God’s sake, haven’t you practised enough?” Liam exploded.

“No such thing as too much practice,” Louis said instantly, stretching his fingers. “Ready, Niall?”

“Ready,” Niall confirmed.

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath in, and then focused intently. It took a few seconds of shuddering and concentration – then the first tongue of flame rippled down Niall’s skinny arm, and within seconds his whole body was on fire, the ceiling licked by the flames surrounding him. Only the slightest outline of a human form was visible, coated in fire that shielded him from view. Harry sighed irritably. Louis grinned at the challenge presented by the sheer mass of flames, then flexed his fingers and summoned a huge domelike bubble all around Niall. Focusing intently, he tightened it, making it contract and slowly retreat until it pressed Niall against the wall. For a moment or so, Niall struggled against the pressure, flaming body wriggling – and then with a puff, a hiss and a cloud of smoke, the flames were extinguished, and Niall was sat looking disgruntled with not so much as a spark dancing across his skin. Louis’ mouth stretched into a very smug smirk.

“How long was that?” Niall panted.

“Thirty seconds,” Liam said in a bored voice.

“Excellent!” Louis said.

Not excellent,” Niall disagreed, “that was rubbish.”

“For you, maybe. It only took me half a minute to put you out! I’m loving this!”

“Give it a rest,” Zayn said wearily.

“They’re only going to replace your clothes so many  times, Niall,” Harry pointed out, eyeing the burnt rags that were all that remained of Niall’s borrowed shirt.

Niall shrugged dismissively. “We’re all guys.” He turned to Louis. “Again.”

Harry made a disgusted sound. Eyes glittering, Louis steadied himself and looked at Niall with a nod. Once again, Niall breathed in, and then he exploded outwards in a burst of flames, and all of a sudden the room was lit up with dancing orange lights, casting eerie shadows across the walls. With a moment of composure, Louis nodded to himself and then twitched his fingers, and within seconds a large, flat force field was pinning Niall’s flaming body against the wall. Violently kicking and flailing to try and shake the orb off, Niall sent the blaze climbing higher and higher, burning fiercely around him until it became a towering inferno stretching towards the ceiling. With a cry of triumph, Niall sent more fire shooting upwards, and Louis’ face turned red with the force of his concentration as he stretched out his splayed hands in frustration. A few more tense seconds passed, and then with a short, sharp breath, Louis intensified his force field even more and snuffed Niall out like a giant candle.

“Man,” Niall complained, “that just isn’t fair!”

“I make that forty-four,” Liam decided.

“Forty-eight!” Zayn insisted.

Delighted, Niall said “Really?”

Louis pouted. “That wasn’t fair! I wasn’t ready.”

“You were. Don’t make excuses. I’m awesome.”

Louis huffed irritably but didn’t comment. Still, he spared Niall a small smile, and Harry felt a twinge of jealousy. He turned his face away to stare miserably at the door, avoiding Niall and Louis’ newly found bond. After all, he and Louis had met first – it wasn’t right for Louis to become best mates with somebody else. Having powers had brought Louis and Niall together, and Harry felt excluded in a way that he wasn’t used to. He’d always been popular, always been part of a group. Now, he felt like he’d been shoved out of the closest friendship he’d ever had.

With that rare talent that Louis seemed to possess, he instantly sussed out that Harry was miserable and, obviously, wasn’t going let the silence continue between them.

“You okay?” he asked quietly.

“Mmm,” Harry said vaguely.

Another of Louis’ talents appeared to be having a dangerous amount of insight into Harry’s mind, because he lowered his voice as he said “You’re not jealous, are you?”

Harry stayed silent.

“Look, this is just a practice thing. You know that, don’t you?” Louis whispered so quietly that even Harry struggled to hear him, “you’re still my best mate.”

Just like that, everything seemed to be okay again. Despite himself, Harry couldn’t help but smile at Louis, his face lighting up as his bad mood evaporated, because he had just been told exactly what he wanted to hear. Louis was his best friend. The smile on Harry’s face was bright enough to rival Niall’s flames.

“Bet that’s what you tell all the guys,” a voice mocked. It was a slightly bitter voice, taunting, and yet strangely melodic and pleasing to the ear. Echoing powerfully through the room, it made them all jump as they looked around for the source – but Harry flinched the hardest, because the sound had come from just below his left ear.

“What the hell was that?” Zayn gasped.

Harry cringed away from the wall, looking at it in abject horror. “The wall spoke to me!”

“Hardly. I think you’re losing it.” The voice came once again, and Harry violently twisted to try and put some distance between him and it.

A boy’s head emerged from the stonework, making them all yelp. From the neck downwards, there was no body, just a solid wall – but the face of a young boy was grinning at them, poking through the brickwork like there was nothing there. He had shaggy, untidy black hair that hung in his pearl grey eyes, a very pale, pointed face, and a wolfish grin that showed an awful lot of very white teeth. There was something creepy about his pale skin – and, of course, the way he was sticking through a wall. Harry edged away from him, looking horrified.

“Are you a ghost?” he demanded.

“Not last time I checked.” With that, the boy effortlessly slid the rest of his body through the wall and stepped into the room. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his red hoodie, he leaned against the wall he had just walked through and surveyed them casually. “Hello, kiddies.”

That was when the boys learnt one of the other main differences between Louis and Niall: when Louis panicked, his powers stopped working – but when Niall panicked, his powers went into overdrive. With a yelp, Niall exploded, bursting into flames like an out of control bonfire, and the towering inferno reached the ceiling with ease and started spreading outwards on either side, causing Zayn and Liam, only a few metres to his left and right, to cry out in alarm. Within mere seconds, it was getting uncomfortably warm, and everyone’s faces were turning pink, including the pale cheeks of the ghost boy, who was watching the burning Niall with interest.

“Louis, put him out!” Harry cried.

Obviously, Louis couldn’t. He was too busy staring in terror at the newcomer, who seemed oblivious to the havoc he was causing. The attractive black-haired boy watched Niall like he was some kind of exciting movie, and as Niall struggled to calm down enough to extinguish himself, the boy sat cross-legged on the floor like a child in primary school, his baggy hoodie falling loosely around his shoulders, and propped his chin up on one hand as he waited.

“Louis!” Harry cried.

Okay!”

Concentrating very hard, Louis closed his eyes, then opened them, watching the space above his head where his hands were bound. He stretched his fingers a couple of times to loosen them up, breathed in and out, and then twitched his fingers. The air rippled like a lake that had been stirred by a giant hand, the space above Louis’ head contracting and pulsing between his hands – and then he pushed outwards, and a force field like a flying saucer attached itself to the wall, surrounding Niall’s flame on every side so that he couldn’t accidentally burn anybody else. Immediately, the heat lessened, and Liam and Zayn visibly looked relieved. Colour started fading from everyone’s red cheeks, including the face of the newcomer, who seemed fascinated by the force field. It took Louis far longer than it ever had before, even on his first attempt, but with a lot of effort, he pushed the field backwards, pressing it against Niall’s body as firmly as he could – and then, thankfully, Niall’s body came into view as in a large cloud of smoke, he went out.

Bright scarlet, Niall gasped breathlessly for a few seconds, wiping his clammy forehead on his shoulder. “Jesus! That was hot!”

“Don’t do it again,” Louis said hastily, “I’m not sure I could cope.”

The sound of applause made them all cringe. In the centre of the room, the boy had stood up and was slowly clapping, looking impressed. In shock, they all stared at him.

“That,” he said, “was cool.”

Harry caught Louis’ eye, and in an instant, Louis knew what was expected of him. It took only a second, and a quick flex of his hands, and then the stranger was trapped in an enormous bubble, which reached way above his head and continued to the floor. He was tall and slender, and the orb was large and wide, accommodating his lanky frame. Seemingly unfazed by being trapped in a giant bubble, the boy reached out to experimentally touch the sides of the bubble, and found that apart from being able to push slightly at the sides and them stretching a little in recompense for the pressure, he couldn’t escape. Nodding to himself, the boy sat down once again, scanning the room to look at them all.

“Impressive,” he said.

“Who do you think you are? And what do you think you’re doing, poking your head through walls like that?” Niall scolded. “Nearly gave me a heart attack!”

“Sorry,” the boy said, sounding anything but. “I would have teleported in, but I can only teleport to places I’ve already been to. So I had to phase through the wall instead.” He shrugged.

All five of them blinked at the unfamiliar word – and the rather more familiar one.

“What do you mean, teleport?” Harry demanded.

The boy – and the force field – vanished.

Before any of them even had time to yell, he had reappeared at the opposite end of the room – but he was still trapped inside the orb that Louis was focusing so intently on.

“Oh,” came the surprised voice of the stranger as he looked up at the bubble. “It came with me. That’s never happened before.” He looked at Louis. “How do you do it?”

“How should I know?” Louis asked shortly. “I just do. If you expect me to give you a physics lecture, forget it.”

“Fair enough.” Looking at Niall, the boy continued, “what about you, sparks? How do you do it?”

Niall scowled. “My name isn’t sparks. And I don’t have a clue.”

Tutting, the boy murmured “Shoddy.”

“Well, nobody explained anything to us, so how should we know?” Zayn snapped.

“Could you not work it out for yourselves?”

“We’re not physicists,” Liam pointed out, “and we’re not geniuses, either.”

“Enough with the interrogation,” Louis snapped. “We’re the ones asking the questions. What’s your name, and how did you get in? What’s phasing?”

The boy firmly closed his mouth.

Glaring, Louis pushed violently at the air, and the bubble shot backwards a few feet, rolling over and sending the boy sprawling to the bottom of the sphere, rolling uselessly around like a hamster in a wheel.

“Hey!” the boy complained.

“What’s phasing?” Louis repeated.

Huffing, the boy chanted “Phasing is when you reduce the density of the atoms in your body, which allows you to move through solid objects without harm.” He recited it word for word, like a small child who had been taught a speech perfectly – and punctuated it with a pleased smile. “Or so the theory goes. Before today, I’d never found an object I couldn’t walk through: walls, doors, trees, people – that’s fun, you should see their faces…” The boy chuckled. He reached out and experimentally probed the surface of the bubble around him. “It would appear that you’ve found the one thing I can’t phase through. Congratulations, by the way.” His expression turned a little sour.

“So…is that a power?” Niall asked warily.

“Presumably. I call it ‘phasing’. The experts call it ‘intangibility’. Same difference, as far as I’m concerned.”

“What’s your name?” was the next sharp question.

“Felix Hill.”

Splaying his fingers, Louis sent the bubble rolling over and over until it hit the wall, bounced off and slowly moved back towards the middle of the room. The boy’s attempt to stand with folded arms and act casual failed miserably; it’s hard to look cool when you’re falling on your backside with an outraged yelp.

“What was that for?”

“I don’t appreciate the wisecrack answers,” Louis said shortly.

What? My name is Felix Hill! It’s not my fault! My parents are cruel people.”

Louis looked across the room to consult the opinion of his number one advisor. Shaking his head to flip a loose, unruly curl out of his eyes, Harry considered briefly before slowly nodding, looking into Louis’ eyes thoughtfully.

“Seems legit. I can’t think that you would make up a name like that.”

Under his breath, Felix grumbled in irritation, but didn’t complain. Wisely.

“Why are you here?” Zayn demanded. “What do you want?”

“I’m rescuing you,” Felix announced.

This was met with noises of disbelief. Nobody believed that he could rescue them, and nobody believed that he had any intention to. Seeming hurt by their scorn, Felix attempted to roll the bubble across the room, and discovered that, with difficulty, he could move around the room – although he fell over a lot, and looked pretty silly. He clumsily struggled across the room and paused beside Niall.

“Your power is pretty cool,” he complimented. “How long can you keep it up for?”

Blinking, Niall shrugged. “I don’t know. Indefinitely, I suppose, so long as I don’t get put out. We haven’t really tested the limitations. So far, we’ve been looking at how long it takes to put me out, rather than how long I can stay alight.”

Disappointed, Felix tutted. “What use is that? Anyone would think you don’t want to get out. What can the rest of you do?”

“Nothing,” Harry said sourly.

“Is that so? Unusual. How long have you been here? It took about a month before I discovered I could do anything.”

“About a week,” Zayn answered, surprised.

“I guess they must have learnt more about the dosage needed…” mused Felix.

“What happened to you?” Liam demanded. “How did you get your powers? How did you escape? How did you find out about us? Who are you?”

“It’s a long story,” Felix said dryly.

“We’re not exactly going anywhere,” Harry pointed out.

“Are you going to let me out?” asked Felix, shoving at the walls of the bubble.

Snorting, Louis said “No chance. How do we know you won’t just slip out through the walls? No, we’re keeping an eye on you. You’re staying right there.”

With a heavy sigh, Felix muttered “Fine! Have it your way.” Settling cross-legged on the floor, he ruffled his black hair and then looked around the room before continuing mockingly, “This might take a while. I hope you’re sitting comfortably.”

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