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…


15. Chapter fifteen.

Across the room, Harry could see that Zayn was looking immensely pleased with himself. He too had just tumbled out of the shower, but apparently he’d had time to gel his hair precisely into place on top of his head, play around with all the outfits he’d been offered, mixed and matched them with the kind of expertise gained from years of styling himself, and come out looking like a model. Albeit a tired, pale, slightly hollow-cheeked model, but didn’t that apply to most models when you removed the extra layers of photo-shopped features? But the reason for Zayn’s pride was not the way he had flawlessly fixed his appearance with limited resources, but the two rather pretty girls lingering beside him at the bar, flicking their hair around and giggling every time he opened his mouth. Although startled by the turn of events, Zayn was nonetheless pleased, and he radiated smugness from every direction.

Nursing his own drink, Harry took a little sip, and tutted to himself, wondering if Zayn would even remember the girls when the morning rolled around. If they kept buying him drinks, almost certainly not. After winning their favour by buying the first round, Zayn had been in luck; every time his glass was emptied, one of the girls ordered the barman to refill it. It was like they were trying to get him drunk. Perhaps they were. Shaking his head, Harry hoped that Zayn would have the sense not to drag one of the girls into bed with him; that would only inspire resentment and jealousy from the other, and potentially endanger their friendship. Unless they were two strangers, united in their attempted conquest of Zayn. If victory was what they wanted, they would have to try pretty hard; Zayn was an expert at the game they were playing, and he wouldn’t easily be beaten.

Just as he was taking another small, deliberate swallow of his own drink, and watching Zayn down yet another one of his in fifteen seconds flat, Harry found himself being joined at his lonely table by Niall, who was laden with plates covered in food, and looked extremely happy with himself. Harry had never seen so many chips piled on one plate in his life. Niall had been eating for a long time; Harry, despite his intention to eat until he was nearly sick, had been easily filled. He had retired to the bar – Niall had stayed at the buffet, apparently determined to eat every scrap of food there was in the hotel. All-you-can-eat was not the wisest of arrangements for a  buffet when there was a hungry Niall on the loose.

Dumping his plate on the table so hard that Harry’s abandoned first glass jumped and rattled, Niall grinned and waved at him before stuffing some more food into his mouth with an enthusiasm that Harry admired. Toying with the cocktail umbrella poking out of his drink, Harry watched as more sandwiches vanished into the seemingly endless space that was Niall’s stomach, and said nothing.

Niall spoke first. “Zayn’s having fun,” he commented, casting a hand in Zayn’s direction.

They both glanced across the room at the shorter girl, who had green streaks in her long blonde hair, lots of big white teeth that made her look a little horsy in appearance – not that she wasn’t still attractive, but the resemblance was hard to ignore – and was wearing the tiniest pair of shorts Harry had ever seen. Cooing at something he’d said, she snuggled into his side, nuzzling his neck. Zayn clumsily wrapped an arm around her shoulders with a boozy smile. Fuming, her friend turned such a shade of jealous green that it practically matched the first girl’s hair, and, slamming her drink back onto the counter, barked out a demand for another to the worried looking barman.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed with a short laugh, “but he’d better watch it. It’ll all end in tears if he doesn’t play this exactly right. Whichever one of those girls doesn’t get invited back to his room later is going to be seething. She’ll probably stab him when he comes down to breakfast tomorrow.”

Snorting, Niall pointed out, “That’s assuming he doesn’t invite them both. He’s drunk enough.”

“Mmm,” muttered Harry disapprovingly.

“Ah, let him have his fun,” said Niall, “we both know he’ll regret it tomorrow. If he can drag himself out of bed, it’ll be a miracle. The only thing he’ll be sharing a bed with by the morning is the mother of all hangovers.” He chuckled.

“Let’s hope that’ll discourage him. I don’t want to have to go round convincing groups of girls that they’ve never met a man called Zayn Malik, just so that they’ll stop screeching at each other and arguing over who had him first. It’s exhausting, and I don’t like messing with people’s minds unless I absolutely have to.”

“Looks like it’s you they’ll be arguing over, mate,” Niall said sympathetically, “that woman from reception was practically ripping the cleaning lady’s hair out because the poor girl dared to say that you were hot. It was like a horror film!”

Harry was horrified. “What? But I haven’t even spoken to the cleaning lady!”

An amused expression crept across Niall’s face. “Don’t need to. You may have messed with the first one to make her fancy you, but now you’ve cleaned up a bit, you’ll be fighting them off with your bare hands without so much as blinking. Look at yourself, Harry. You’re pretty. I mean, seriously. You’ve got the teeth, you’ve got the curls, you’ve got the charisma…you’ve got dimples, for crying out loud! You’re adorable. Women love that.”

“But –”

“They love it,” Niall said sternly. Leaning back in his chair, he took advantage of Harry’s shock by swiping his drink out from underneath his nose, nodded conclusively, and then took a quick gulp of the amber liquid. “You’re a total chick-magnet, man – ew, what is this stuff?” In disgust, he dumped the glass back onto the table and pulled a face. “That’s disgusting! Tastes like paint-stripper.”

“How would you know?” asked Harry with a grin.

Sheepishly, Niall shrugged. “Okay, so maybe I swallowed some once by accident. Seriously, it was just this one time –”

A yelp disrupted their discussion; a distinctly feminine cry, and both of their heads jerked as they whipped around to stare at the source of it. The second girl, the jealous one with the red hair scraped into pigtails, wearing large hipster glasses and a skirt that was so short it could have been a belt, was on her feet, one hand clapped over her lipstick-smudged mouth to muffle her screams as she pointed with a shaking finger at Zayn. Her friend was frantically trying to disentangle herself from his embrace in a panic, caught underneath one of his long arms and stumbling in her stilettos. Clearly confused, Zayn attempted to release her, but intoxicated as he was, ended up pulling her closer instead. Panicking, the girl lashed out, fists flying, and a bewildered Zayn ducked to avoid the swing. Hauling her backwards, her red-haired friend started hissing a stream of strangled curses as Zayn as the two of them retreated mistrustfully, eyes wide, glaring at him.

“What the hell is going on over there?” Harry asked.

Zayn seemed to be attempting to ask the same question, but whatever he’d been drinking all night seemed to have thickened in his throat and was slowly drowning his vocal cords, so that all he could manage was a slurred,  “Vas appenin?”

Groaning, he pushed his stool back and stood up, clutching his head dizzily as he took a step towards the closest girl, and that was when Harry realized what the cause of alarm was. Blinking and shaking his head in an attempt to clear it, Zayn staggered forwards a step and in doing so gave them a clear view of what was going on behind him, which only caused several bystanders to either stare, shake their heads and mutter admiringly about how drunk they had gotten so quickly, or panic and start trying to run. A few inches above Zayn’s head, his most recent glass was floating lethargically in mid-air, the remaining liquid inside it sloshing wildly around, and behind him, six empty glasses, one of the girls’ handbags, Zayn’s wallet and the stool he’d just abandoned were also hanging eerily in the empty space behind him; every time he so much as twitched, they altered their positions ever so slightly, nudging each other in response to his movements.

A tangle of expletives ripped out of Niall’s mouth as he swore ferociously, dropping his food and leaping out of his chair. Without following his friend’s example by swearing, Harry scrambled out of his own seat and hurriedly began making his way across the room to grab Zayn before he could do anything else. Not that Zayn was consciously aware that he was doing anything at all. He lurched a little bit, and had to grab the counter for support to stop himself from falling, and that was when whatever control he’d absently had over the power he hadn’t realized he possessed completely dwindled to nothing, and the horrified barman started floating as well.

At first the man only hovered a few inches off the floor, but the more distracted Zayn became, the higher up he went, and before long the man was shrieking hysterically as his head gently bumped against the ceiling. Scrabbling for a handhold, the man eventually grabbed hold of one of the fancy light fittings, a large and expensive chandelier, and hung on for dear life, like he expected to plummet to the ground at any second. Zayn no longer seemed to have any control over himself at all, sending things drifting randomly around the barman’s head as he clung to the chandelier, and before long the man had tipped sideways so that he looked like a flag waving gently in the air, as if the light fixture was a flagpole. His screams rent the air, and Zayn clutched his ears in confusion – as he did so, several other people lifted off from the floor and began almost dreamily drifting through the air, except most of them were horrified. The blonde girl was one of these, and she screeched in alarm as she started to hover above the floor, frantically grabbing for her friend’s hands. By the time she was hanging as high up as the top of the bar, her friend had caught hold of her, but to their dismay, instead of the girl on the floor anchoring her friend as they had hoped, the girl who was floating caused her friend to lift off the ground as well, and before long, they were both levitating above Zayn’s head, bawling their heads off as they did. Squinting, Zayn looked straight up to find the source of the caterwauling, and seeing as the red-haired girl was directly above him, got an eyeful of her underwear as he accidentally looked straight up her skirt. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so serious.

“Zayn!” Niall yelled, and he started sprinting across the room to make a grab for his friend.

“Niall, wait!” shouted Harry. “Don’t get so close to him!” His warning was ignored.

As soon as he was within the general vicinity of the disorientated Zayn, Niall became a victim of the odd power Zayn was using and his own feet left the floor. He cried out and tried pushing himself back down to the floor again, but it seemed like the harder Niall tried to ground himself, the faster he gained altitude. Everything that could be grabbed was grabbed in an attempt to stay as low as possible, but he couldn’t get a good enough grip on it before it slipped out of reach.

“Shit!” Niall cried as he lost his hold of one of the beer pumps and continued drifting upwards.

“Zayn!” yelled Harry. “Zayn!”

Confused, Zayn lifted his head and stared blearily across the room. “Harry?”

“Zayn, stop it. Put those people down!”

“Huh?” Drunk, Zayn was barely coherent.

Feeling a little bit ridiculous, Harry ordered, “Put. Them. Down.”

For a while, he and Zayn stared at each other, Zayn clearly too drunk to focus properly. Then some form of comprehension seemed to dawn as Zayn properly looked around the room at all the yelling people who were hanging above his head like bubbles, and all making the loudest noises of complaint he’d ever heard. Even Niall was scared, running through a list of every swearword he knew and apparently inventing a couple of his own to punctuate his rant of exactly how much of an idiot Zayn was. It took a few seconds for Zayn to get it, but as soon as he had, he was imitating Niall and swearing as loudly as he could, grabbing two handfuls of his hair.

“Shit! Fuck! Fucking shit!” Zayn swore.

“Shut that potty mouth, Malik, and get me down!” Niall yelled – ironic, seeing as seconds ago he’d been teaching everyone in the room some new swearwords.

“I don’t know how!” Zayn wailed wretchedly.

But then, as if to contradict him, everything stopped. For a few seconds, the people stayed floating around Zayn’s head, wide-eyed with shock but unmoving – and then whatever he’d been doing cut out as the sixteen people he’d been accidentally levitating all dropped to the floor. The barman was the only one who didn’t fall; his legs swung forwards as gravity returned to him and there was a horrific smashing sound as he collided with the chandelier, slicing his legs to ribbons and showering bits of crystal all over the floor below him, but everyone else simply dropped to the ground.

Niall was lucky; he landed on a sofa in the corner, although how he had propelled himself in that direction before he fell was anyone’s guess. The two shrieking girls landed with a horrible crash on the bar, and the smaller girl whacked her head so hard that she knocked herself out, while her friend fell on top of her and started screaming. Everyone else hit the floor with various bangs, yells, shrieks and whimpers, and as people fell apparently out of the sky and painfully landed on the ground, thumping as they dropped, Zayn’s eyes widened and he stared in a panic at Harry.

“Shit. Shit. Holy-fucking-shit. Harry, what do we do? What the hell do we do?”

Rolling off the sofa, Niall jogged over to them, leaping neatly over groaning people who were collapsed on the floor and avoiding a glittering pile of broken crystal from the chandelier. Above his head, the barman was still clinging to the light fitting for dear life, pleading with the heavens to save him and crying pathetically as he swung gently to and fro, legs dangling in mid air. A few drops of blood dropped from one leg and plopped onto the floor, staining the glass.

“Oh my god,” Harry whimpered. “Oh, god, what do we do? Oh, bloody hell!”

Niall reached him in seconds and clapped a hand on his shoulder, and for the first time ever, his purposeful, determined expression gave him away as being older than the curly haired boy who he was comforting. His mouth set in a hard line as he took in the scene, all the destruction they had just caused, all the sobbing and injured people…

“I’ll tell you what we do,” he said grimly. “We run.”

Zayn didn’t need to be told twice. Turning on his heel, he sprinted for the door, jacket flapping wildly, hair collapsing from its carefully styled splendour. Harry hesitated, looking desperately around at the chaos around them.

“But – but the people –”

“Harry,” Niall said, gently propelling him towards the door, “run.”

“But they’re hurt!” Harry protested.

“Yes,” agreed Niall, “they are. But so will we be if we don’t leave now. They’ll dissect us, lock us up, do god knows what – you can’t mess with this many people’s heads before someone gets here and starts asking nasty questions. Over a hundred people saw this, Harry. We have to run before anyone tries to stop us. We have to find Lou and Liam, grab Felix, and get the hell out of here.”

Before Harry could argue any more, Niall firmly planted his hands on the younger boy’s shoulders, and then cast an anxious glance around the room himself at the groaning people. He knew what had to be done, but that didn’t mean he felt any better about it. Giving Harry a gentle shove, he pushed the boy forwards, and as if he’d only just realized how much danger they were in, Harry gave a tiny gasp and started to sprint, rushing out of the bar and thumping towards the lobby, heading for the lift so he could get back upstairs and find Felix.

Niall gave one final, sweeping glance around the room, and then he followed his own advice and legged it.

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