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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18. Chapter eighteen.

Louis thought he might explode from the stresses of knowing that Felix was ‘up to something’. He didn’t know how he was supposed to get near Harry to tell him that something was wrong when he had no idea what was going on, and Felix was clinging to Harry like a limpet, possibly because he knew that Louis wanted to talk to Harry. Either he was being deliberately obnoxious and keeping them apart, or he was determined not to let Louis tell Harry what little he knew.

Weirdly, nobody else was suspicious of why Felix was suddenly being nice. It ought to have set off alarm bells in everyone’s head immediately – Felix didn’t do nice; he was rude and horrible and had no consideration for anyone else, and the only things he cared about were himself and his hair, which he took immense pride in. Yet suddenly, he was all for hanging out with them, and firmly integrating himself into the group. He took especial interest in Harry, which set Louis’ teeth on edge more than anything else. Harry was his best friend.

One look at Felix’s self-assured smirk made him realize that the angrier he got, the more Felix was enjoying the situation. Louis got his own back in petty little ways: sprinkling extra salt onto Felix’s meal, pouring nasty things into his drink, tying his shoelaces together, ‘accidentally’ spilling things on his clothes when they’d just been washed…it was all childish and pathetic, but it made him feel better – every flash of annoyance on Felix’s face at each tiny mishap was like a small victory, and Louis treated it as such, celebrating it in smug silence.

It took long enough for Louis to get Harry on his own for ten seconds, let alone a few minutes, which was what he would need to explain the situation – not helped by the fact that Felix had a nasty habit of sticking his head through walls when you least expected it, or appearing beside you when you weren’t paying attention, and shocking you out of your wits, then laughing rudely at you when you flinched. Knowing that Felix could interrupt Louis when he was in the middle of blowing Felix’s cover did very little for Louis’ nerves. More than once he was tempted to ask Harry to incapacitate the kid for a bit, just to get rid of him, but he was afraid that Harry would start asking questions that were hard to answer, and that once again, Felix would burst in halfway through and then they’d be in trouble. He could only hope that Niall would accidentally set Felix’s hair on fire, or that Zayn would levitate him above the house and then drop him. Little fantasies like that kept him entertained very successfully for a while.

Until one evening, about three nights after the terrible revelation, Felix popped up into the room with damp hair, requesting Niall’s services as a hairdryer, and announcing that he was going out. Louis perked up visibly and couldn’t bring himself to be ashamed at how blatantly pleased he had been by the news.

“I’m heading out on the town,” Felix told them a little sourly, shooting Louis a dirty look because Louis’ face had just lit up like someone had wrapped fairy lights around his head and plugged him into the National Grid. “Don’t expect me back in a hurry.”

“Have fun at the crèche,” Louis said, then realized that he’d accidentally let it slip out loud.

Drawing himself up, Felix responded with all the dignity he could muster, “I’ll have you know that I’m going to a bar. One of the girls down the road invited me for a drink. I’m going to get her to buy alcohol for me.”

This was met with several snorts of amusement, because of course nobody else was going to admit that they had employed this tactic many times over the years before they had reached the beautiful position of being able to acquire their alcohol legally. Of course, after that, it somewhat lost its appeal; there was no risk in it, which made things less interesting.

“You do that,” Louis told him dismissively, and if ever a sentence had sounded like a pat on the head, it was that one. It was so condescending and almost patronizing that it made Felix blush all over again. Louis allowed himself a small stab of vindictive pleasure in knowing that he’d gotten to Felix, at last.

“Don’t wait up for me,” Felix told them, and then he vanished from the room.

Louis waited a few seconds to make sure that the boy wasn’t going to reappear and make some feeble attempt at a comeback, and when he was certain that Felix had truly gone, he slumped thankfully back against the bed. His relief was tangible. Still, he was determined not to waste any time; he’d barely fallen backwards before he was sitting up again with a jerk, swinging his legs off the bed and marching across the room to where Harry was lounging in a chair with a bored expression on his face. Stopping in front of him, Louis tapped the back of his hand carefully.

“Can I talk to you for a second?”

Niall’s loud wolf-whistle ripped through the air, quickly followed by his laugh as he chuckled at himself, clearly amused by himself. “Get a room, lads.”

“Already got one, but unfortunately, you’re in it,” Harry said playfully, picking up Felix’s pillow and chucking it at Niall. “Shut up, you Irish fool.”

Harry,” Louis said urgently.

That got Harry’s attention; he paused halfway through the beginning of a silly pillow-fighting war with Niall, allowing the pillow that Niall threw at him to hit him hard in the face and bounce off to the floor without intervention. Standing up, he closed his fingers around Louis’ wrist very carefully, almost holding his hand, and squeezed very lightly. Louis looked back at him, his blue eyes wide and with the flecks of gold in them barely visible. They showed best when he was happy, and at that moment, ‘happy’ was something that Louis definitely wasnot.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked, and his free hand lifted a little as if he was about to touch Louis – it went halfway towards his face, then at the last moment, Harry recovered himself and quickly veered downwards to rest his fingertips on Louis’ elbow. Louis almost laughed at the clumsy awkwardness of the gesture, but he didn’t much feel like laughing, so he stayed miraculously straight-faced.

“I kind of need to have a word with you,” Louis told him.

Harry waited for a couple of seconds, then reminded him gently, “I’m right here.”

Oh! Louis groaned to himself in inner frustration; he really didn’t want to hear the stupid, clichéd ‘in private’ come out of his mouth. Something in his expression must have alerted Harry to what Louis really wanted – that, or the way that the annoyance was probably pouring off him in giant waves, and Harry could probably feel every little bit of it. Taking Louis’ elbow with a little more force than was needed, he guided Louis towards the door, opened it, and then led them out into the corridor. However, he didn’t stop there; they were all the way downstairs and standing in the back room with the washing machine and dishwasher before Harry released Louis’ arm and took a little step back. The  thuds of the machines at work would disguise the sounds of their conversation from eavesdroppers, and Louis breathed a little sigh of relief.

“Now,” Harry said quietly, “what exactly did you want to talk to me about?”

“Felix,” Louis told him.

Harry’s forehead crinkled in confusion like a sheet of paper being crumpled; Louis and Felix made no secret of how heartily they disliked each other, so to hear Louis mention Felix’s name in a sentence which had nothing to do with how much of a prat the boy was…well, it was definitely unusual. Almost unheard of, in fact.

It hadn’t been the strongest of starts, but Louis figured that he might as well get on with it. He wasn’t doing this to be dramatic, after all. So immediately, he started spouting accusations and trying to convince Harry that Felix was indeed the scheming bastard that Louis knew him to be. “We can’t trust him. He’s not on our side. He wants to sell us out to these other guys; he’s been spying on us and feeding information back to a bunch of people who have powers too!”

For a moment, Harry’s eyes widened and his forehead wrinkled even harder, but then a laugh exploded out of his mouth, and he grinned as he thumped Louis on the back. “You had me going for a second! That was great. You should try pulling that one on Niall; he’d fall for it hook, line and sinker, it’d be brilliant.” He was delighted by what he thought was a joke.

“This is serious, Harry,” Louis insisted, “I’m not joking!”

“Good one, Lou.” Harry was still grinning, looking amused. “You did actually get me for a second. If you like, you can tell everyone I believed you. It was a good joke, I’ll give you that. Felix does sometimes seem like the type.” He patted Louis warmly on the arm.

Harry,” Louis pleaded, “I’m not messing with you! Felix really is selling us out to…” he paused. He didn’t actually know. “Well, he’s selling us out,” he finished weakly.

For a few seconds, Harry watched him, and then his frown was back, his mouth transforming into an uneasy, confused twist. He reached out and touched the edge of Louis’ mouth, his fingertip tracing the unsmiling lips with almost frightening gentleness – and then he said softly, “Why aren’t you smiling? You always smile. Whenever you play some stupid trick like this you always get this daft grin on your face; your mouth wobbles like you’re about to burst out laughing, and you get a little smile hovering on your lips. And you get a tiny dent in your forehead because you’re trying so hard not to laugh. Right here.” He carefully poked Louis in the centre of his forehead.

“I’m not laughing because I’m not messing with you,” Louis said softly. “The only one who is messing with you is him! He thinks he’s got us all wrapped round his little finger! I don’t know what he wants from us, Harry, but whatever it is, it’s not good. We need to work out a plan; we need to find out what he’s up to, we have to –”

“Louis.”

“ – find out what’s going on and sort everything out before he gets us, or before his friends get us – God, what the hell were we doing, letting him go out like that? He could be consorting with them as we speak!”

“Louis?”

“Who knows what he’s up to? He could be bringing them back to take us away! Harry, we have to run, we have to –” he reached out and grabbed hold of Harry’s shoulders, practicallyshaking him “ – stop him from getting hold of us or any of the other boys, and we have to run! God, that’s impossible, how the hell do you  outrun a teleporter? No harm in trying, I suppose; it’s not like he can get through my force fields any –” 

“Louis, SHUT UP!”

Harry had never intended to shout so loudly, but he was so desperate to shut Louis up for a second that the words came out louder than he’d intended to – and he accidentally screamed it inside his head as well, forgetting of course, that whenever Harry thought about something he wanted a person to do, they were forced to do it.

Which meant that the force of his shout reverberated through his mind, and through Louis’, and it sent a little shudder rippling through Louis that he barely noticed, because unless Harry attracted your attention to it, it was almost impossible to detect his presence inside your head, and therefore he didn’t realize it when Harry launched himself at Louis, coiled his mental lasso around the part of Louis’ brain which controlled speech, and then tightened his grip, contracting his hold until he was all but suffocating that particular, delicate part of Louis’ mind, and as he did so, he snuffed it out and plunged himself further into the depths of his best friend’s conscious thought, and the further he immersed himself, the harsher his grip got, until he forced Louis into complete silence, cutting off the speech receptors from Louis’ mouth.

Louis opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but to his horror, no sounds came out of his mouth – not the slightest noise. His eyes widened, and he tried to clear his throat, but even the little coughing sound wouldn’t come out, and he merely gasped as his hand flew to his throat and slid down the smooth column of his throat as if he could feel what  had stopped him from speaking.

Harry’s horrified expression told him all he needed to know, and the look on Louis’ face melted from horror and confusion to shock, and then his eyes widened even more, so that Harry was almost afraid that they might fall out of his eye sockets and roll across the floor like marbles. Louis raised one shaking finger to point accusingly at Harry, the other hand still wrapped around his throat like he could squeeze new syllables into it. He backed away a little, slowly shaking his head, like he couldn’t believe what Harry had done – a sentiment which Harry shared; he could hardly believe that he’d done it himself.

Still, silence was not something that Louis had ever been good at, and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like being unable to speak get in the way of letting his opinions be heard. Knowing full well that Harry was lingering inside his head in order to keep a firm hold of his mind, he started battering the insides of his own mind in a desperate attempt to get at Harry, despite having no insight into what he was doing. It was an almost piteously pathetic attempt; Louis was lashing blindly out, and his own mind was ridiculously feeble compared to Harry’s – not that having his best friend trying to beat him at what he did best wasn’t awful, and perhaps a little weird. Louis was screaming, yelling at a deafeningly loud volume inside his head, and Harry didn’t want to listen to any of that for too long, so he ended up narrowing his eyes and forcing himself to restrain other parts of Louis’ brain as well; the parts which allowed him to voice his thoughts so assertively. Before the awful invasiveness of rifling round in Louis’ innermost thoughts could incapacitate him, Harry quickly pinched at the part he needed to pinch, and then the fountain of abuse and mental screams stopped, because Harry had cut those off, too.

Therefore, Louis just stood, appalled, and stared emptily at him, incapable of coherent thought or speech because Harry had just separated the rest of his consciousness from the parts of his brain he would need to access them. Betrayal was not something Harry was familiar with, but he was painfully aware that in Louis’ eyes at least, he had just committed it.

He took a slow step forwards and reached out to touch Louis, just a touch on the shoulder to reassure him, but Louis jerked away in a panic and started backing off as quickly as he could, retreating towards the furthest wall, backing himself into a corner, although he wasn’t to know that, because he hadn’t looked round. His mind was empty, but he still had enough presence lingering in the severed connection between his thought processes and the rest of him to know that he was trying to get away from Harry, and to keep trying, even when he was no longer sure why.

It was such a primal, desperate fear that as Harry sent a stroke of mental power down Louis’ brain, he felt like he might be sick when he grabbed a fistful of impulses on their way to the brain and delicately picked out the ones he needed, halting the necessary ones and keeping the less necessary ones under lock and key, in a manner of speaking. He only needed a few seconds. Before another minute had passed, Louis was not only silent, but paralysed as well, stood perfectly still apart from the speedy rise and fall of his chest as he breathed quickly in and out, a response to his mute panic, and the way that his eyes flickered desperately around the room in seconds, flitting from wall to wall like a butterfly trying to escape from a dim room.

With a cry, Harry staggered back and collapsed into the wooden chair that luckily was almost directly behind him. If it hadn’t been there, he would have fallen over. As soon as the wooden legs of it were supporting him, he leaned forwards and buried his face in his hands, stifling a sob and a few tears so that nobody would see them if they came in.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered helplessly, but he didn’t think that Louis, anchored in place and silenced as he was, would really be in the mood to listen to apologies.

Once again, it was time for Harry to make the choice of how exactly he was going to wipe Louis’ memory. It had only been a stupid accident, a slip because he was angry and panicking and confused, but Louis wasn’t going to accept that – and any chances of him being tolerant had been wiped out of existence when Harry had panicked for the second time and stopped him from thinking and moving as well. The second he was free, Louis would be making a run for it, and Harry didn’t blame him. If his best friend had mentally gagged him and frozen him in place just because they’d had an argument, he would be running for the hills the moment he could. He wouldn’t even look back. Harry couldn’t lose Louis like that.

Therefore, he once again had to choose exactly how he was going to modify Louis’ memory, and he had to do it in a suitably precise way that Louis wouldn’t know he’d done it. In the past, he’d clumsily blanked out recollections that he wanted forgetting, and left people with a gap in their memory. Louis knew that was how he did it; he would be wise to that. If he knew that Harry had tampered with his memory, he would get paranoid and probably think that Harry had done something even worse than what he had done, which was not what Harry wanted. So he could try and implant a false memory, but he’d never practiced before, and again, if Louis realized that Harry had been messing with his head, he’d want to know why, and God knows what kind of conspiracy theories he’d come up with if left to his own devices.

Helplessly, Harry started poking around, trying to figure out if there was any alternative way of doing this – and that, of course, was when he found it. Maybe he didn’t have to leave Louis with a gap, or make a false memory to replace the one he was getting rid of. What if he could erase the bad stuff, then join the last bit of good memory to the start of whatever memory he would start forming after Harry let him go?

In the end, that was what Harry did. It was almost ridiculously easy to get rid of all of the stuff he didn’t want Louis to remember, leaving him hanging there like a puppet, stood motionless and with no intentions of his own in place. He took the last bit of memory before he’d started messing with Louis’ mind, when Louis had been yelling at him, and he prepared to fuse it together with the memory that Louis would be starting in a few seconds. To make it realistic, he stood in the same position he’d been in before, pulling Louis back to where they had been standing – but just before he set things in motion again, he nervously dipped forwards and brushed his lips very lightly against the corner of Louis’ mouth. Louis had soft lips and they tasted like coffee and something else which was probably just the taste of Louis, something which made Harry feel a bit dizzy. He almost wanted to do it again – but quickly shaking his head, he stepped backwards into his original position.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

Then he released his hold on Louis’ mind, allowing him to start forming memories again, and at  the same time knitted the memory of the conversation they’d been having together with what was happening right now. As far as Louis was concerned, they’d never stopped speaking. They were still in the middle of a discussion. This became apparent when Louis’ voice echoed loudly throughout the little room, almost obnoxiously loud after the few minutes of silence that had came before it, and Harry flinched.

“God, that’s impossible, how the hell do you  outrun a teleporter? No harm in trying, I suppose; it’s not like he can get through my force fields any –” 

Visibly, Harry cringed at the loudness of his voice, and Louis paused, looking warily at him. He bit his lip in the exact place where Harry had just kissed it, and a blush sprung up onto Harry’s cheeks, turning them the colour of raw meat – unhealthily red.

Louis pinched the bridge of his nose wearily. “Sorry. Sorry! I just got carried away.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed faintly.

Quickly, Louis crossed the distance between them, and wrapped his arms around Harry in a quick hug. It was only a friendly embrace, but it sent Harry’s heart into a wild flutter as he breathed in so quickly he almost choked on the air he had inhaled.

“I –” Harry struggled out of Louis’ arms, stepping backwards to disentangle himself from any more hugs that might come his way, hugs that he shouldn’t have been so desperate for. “You can’t do this to me, Louis. You can’t spring something on me like this and expect me to believe it!”

“Check,” Louis offered.

He had to tap his head with one finger before Harry understood what he meant. Understandably, Harry recoiled from the suggestion. He wasn’t going to mess with Louis’ mind again! He’d done that more than enough already.

“Just leave it!” Harry begged. “Leave me to make up my own mind. Please?”

Before Louis could answer, he turned and fled from the room, because he was terrified of what might happen next if he didn’t – the second kiss that he so wanted to steal, a proper kiss that time rather than a quick brush of mouths when Louis wasn’t even conscious. Louis stared after him in bewilderment, calling his name, but Harry didn’t once look back.

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