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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7. Chapter seven.

“Stop crying, Niall!”

It took a lot for easy-going Louis to lose his temper, but since Niall had started up a spontaneous crying fit about forty-five minutes ago and been sobbing uncontrollably ever since, everybody’s patience was starting to wear down. Even for Liam, who had an impressive amount of tolerance for the Irish boy. Harry had been the first to snap; unable to put his hands over his ears, he had started humming loudly to block out the sound, and the combination of tuneless humming and Niall’s insistent wailing was enough to drive one insane. Zayn’s face was blank, but the expression was forced, and the half deranged sense of irritation in his eyes was almost creepy. Liam was clenching his fists so hard that they almost expected his hands to shatter. They were all doing their best to try and block out the sound: when it became clear that Niall had no intention – and possibly no ability – to stop howling, Louis had done everything he could, summoning force field after force field, around Niall, around the boys, around their ears, even creating bubbles the size of peas to use as ear plugs – but it would appear that however impenetrable the fields were, they were not impregnable, certainly not where sound was concerned.

“Shut up!” Harry growled.

“I want to go home,” Niall wailed. “I want to see my family! I’m sick of this place!”

“We’re sick of you,” Harry mumbled, but he sounded unconvincing and there was no real malice in his town.

“I want to get out of here! I can’t stand it a second longer! I’m sick of being trapped here with no food and nothing to do and being strapped to a wall and hanging by my wrists and nobody telling me what’s happening! I hate being drugged, I hate being here! I’m going insane over here!” Niall let out a long, harsh scream of pure frustration, thrashing violently against his bonds with an insane expression on his face.

“Niall, stop it,” Zayn said wearily. “That’s not helping.”

“I don’t care! I can’t do this anymore! I can’t deal with having be the happy one all the time! I’m not happy, okay? I am not happy! I’m crazy and I’m mad and I’m going to kill someone!” Niall screamed.

“Niall…” Liam interrupted warily.

“Calm down!” Louis ordered.

Niall’s usually contented face was bright red, messy, streaked with tears and contorted in misery as he stared desperately at them all, his head jerking as he fixed each boy with a desperately angry and injured gaze, as if they had some kind of involvement in his imprisonment. The accusation in his stare was almost enough to convince Harry, Liam, Louis and Zayn that they were in some way guilty despite knowing that they had done absolutely nothing – they were just as much the victims as he was. Yet Niall seemed so much more innocent than the rest of them, despite the foul mouth they knew he possessed, that him being captured seemed far more of an injustice than it was for the others.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! Don’t you dare tell me to calm down! At least you can do something! At least you’ve got something out of this mess! You’ve got your force fields. You’re not useless like the rest of us. Especially me. You guys are all tough and strong and athletic, and I’m not like you! I’m just Niall Horan from Mullingar who eats too much and isn’t that hot, isn’t that smart, isn’t that anything! I’m just me! And I always thought that was enough for me, but it isn’t, because I am sick of this place and I’m sick of not being good enough and I am sick of EVERYTHING!”

“Niall!”

His fluid bag was bubbling, but far more violently than Louis’ had; the fluid inside was churning like a stormy sea and splashing all up the sides of the clear plastic bag, roiling dangerously with raw power. But more frightening than that was the colour of the liquid inside; it was neither docile purple nor bright orange – it was luminous, toxic green.

“SOMEBODY GET ME OUT OF HERE! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY LONGER! LET ME GO RIGHT THIS INSTANT OR I SWEAR I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’LL DO!”

“Niall!”

A horrible, metallic shriek ripped the air, searing through the room; it was agonizingly loud and pitched so high that they were amazed they could hear it. It was only overshadowed by Niall’s own scream, an awful, desperate howl that echoed with fear and shock, tearing at their ears and making the boys gasp in pain. Niall’s body convulsed sickeningly, his back arching violently as he leaned away from the wall, twisting in pain. His arms and legs looked like they were being stretched as he curved forwards, his head thrown back and mouth open in a wordless cry, his body straining against his bonds as he shuddered, like he was having some kind of fit. Every inch of him was trembling as he stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, and his scream intensified, shredding several octaves and reaching a painful pitch. In horror, the other boys stared at him, his whole body almost seeming to glow as he shook uncontrollably, tremors racking his thin frame, whipping his head back and forth in anguish. The expression of agony on his face was terrible, the kind of pain that made you hurt when you witnessed it, like you were experiencing second-hand torment.

There was a sudden roaring sound, and Niall’s convulsing body burst into flames.

“NIALL!”

Harry was the first to react properly. Throwing himself against his chains with an urgency he had never known he possessed, he battled desperately against his restraints, eyes wide with panic, knowing that he had to reach his friend even if there was nothing within reach to put out the inexplicable flames. For some unknown reason, Niall’s whole body had ignited and he was covered in a thick layer of rippling fire, sparks bursting off the inferno and his frame barely recognisable behind the blaze.

When it became clear that no amount of desperation would be enough for him to break free of his chains, Harry instantly twisted in panic to look at the one person who he would have relied on for anything, the first person he would think of to turn to, no matter what the situation. The person who was staring in open-mouthed horror at their exploding friend, his dark blue eyes wide with terror as he watched helplessly.

“Louis, do something!”

“Like what?” Louis cried.

“I don’t know! Use your power! Do something – anything! I don’t even care, just do it, and do it quick! For God’s sake, he’s burning to death! Do something!”

In a panic, Louis flexed his fingers desperately, and a glowing orb flickered between his fingertips, expanding and then vanishing in a split second, almost too quickly to be seen. It was faint and indistinct, almost colourless with barely any of the violet tint that they’d been used to, and behind the sound of the crackling flames and Niall’s relentless screams, the humming was indiscernible. The force field appeared and dissipated too fast for anyone to register.

“Louis!”

“I’m sorry!”

Instantly, Louis splayed his hands once again, and a tennis-ball sized sphere blossomed in the air a few inches in front of his face – but there was no substance to it, and once again it quivered and then faded into nothingness. The frustration and blind terror in his expression was almost more scary than Niall’s screams; Harry had never seen Louis look so fearful, so unsure. His hands clenched into fists as he stared in shock up into space, where his force field had weakly fluttered only seconds before. Never before since discovering his powers had he failed so badly.

“Louis, what are you doing?”

“I can’t do it!” Louis cried in frustration, ripping at his hair.

“What do you mean, you can’t do it? Of course you can do it! You’ve not stopped doing it for the past two days! You could do it in your sleep! What the hell is wrong with you, Lou? Just do it! Do it now!”

Once again, Louis’ fingers moved in that familiar, practised motion that should have resulted in the solid forming of a bubble in the air before him, the atmosphere twisting and wrenching at his command and then creating a purple-tinted sphere that would fly in any direction he chose. The air twitched, it rippled, and the faintest, weakest of pale blue frameworks appeared, staining the space between them for barely an instant. Then once again, it was gone, and Louis was hissing in desperation.

“I can’t!” he wailed. “I can’t do it! I’m panicking!”

Of course he was panicking. They were all panicking, wanting and needing to act but unable to free themselves. And behind that urgency to move was Louis’ own fear, his own shock at his sudden failure and inability to control the force fields that had been effortless only a few seconds ago – something that was easier than breathing, and suddenly he was useless.

Meanwhile, Niall was still burning.

“You have to do something!” Liam yelled over the sound of sizzling, crying out and the sound of Louis panicking. “You can’t just leave him!”

“What do you expect me to do?” shouted Louis. “I can’t make it work, okay? I can’t do it! The fields won’t stick; they keep breaking! I can’t keep them together for long enough to do anything with them!” To demonstrate, his hands twitched and a small bubble formed in the air, and he instantly hurled it in Niall’s direction before it could fall apart, but it had only made it halfway across the room before it was gone.

The flames leapt higher and higher over Niall’s body, flickering dangerously in an orange-yellow glow the same colour as the still liquid in Louis’ fluid bag. In Niall’s fluid bag, the violently rippling acid green liquid was still bubbling, and the larger and more uncontrollable the flames grew, the brighter and more fiercely coloured the fluid turned. It seemed almost to have a personality of its own, and it captivated their gazes almost as easily as the flames themselves.

Harry had never seen fire like that in real life. It wasn’t like a bonfire; it was more of an explosion, flames that licked Niall’s body all over and framed his shape in a vague veil, like some kind of cloak of fire. The heat pouring off it could be felt even across the room, and Harry was terrified by the thought that if he was uncomfortably warm, and he was a good six or seven metres away, then Niall must have been in unbearable pain, burning alive. His screeches had stopped, and so had the strange metallic sound that had first arrived with the flames, but the sound of the fire crackling and snapping, heating the stones, and the noises of the boys gasping in shock, and Louis’ sharp hisses and groans as he furiously tried to conjure force field after force field with no results. Nothing was working; everything was going about as wrong as it possibly could, and even louder than the burning, the cries of shock, and the various mingling background noises, was the sound of Harry’s breathing, harsh gasps hissing through his teeth, and the constant thud of his heartbeat as he stared in fear at Niall. Who was on fire. And possibly burning to death before his very eyes.

But just as the thought had passed through Harry’s mind, the flames suddenly shut off, and Niall came back into view, hanging in exactly the same place as before and gasping for breath.

Liam, Zayn, Harry and Louis stared in utter disbelief at Niall’s face. His clothes were blackened rags, shreds of burnt fabric hanging off him and exposing bare skin. Shockingly, he wasn’t at all hurt; his face was pink, but there were no burns, no blisters, no marks and no sign that anything had happened to him whatsoever other than his ruined clothes. He was sweating slightly, blond hair sticking to his forehead, and looking completely shell-shocked, trembling as he looked down at himself. With singed clothes and wide eyes he took several shallow breaths and glanced worriedly around.

“Are you okay?” Harry croaked.

“…Yeah,” Niall said faintly. “I think I am.”

“What the hell happened?” Louis demanded.

“I don’t know!”

“I’ll tell you what happened: you were on fire,” Zayn said helpfully.

“But how?” asked Liam.

“I don’t know!”

“You aren’t hurt, are you?”

“No,” Niall said, stretching experimentally and checking his arms for injuries. “I think I’m fine.”

“Is it a power?” Harry asked.

“What? How can it be a power? We already know what power you get. Force fields. Like Louis.”

“Not necessarily,” said Zayn thoughtfully. “The liquid is a different colour. Maybe it changes from person to person.”

“It can’t be a power. How is accidentally setting yourself on fire a power?”

“Well obviously it isn’t supposed to be an accident, is it? Do it again, Niall.”

“Get lost! I’m not setting myself on fire! I don’t even know how!”

“It’ll be something stupid,” Louis said; “you won’t be aware of it at first, but when you work out what it is, you’ll kind of realize…that’s how you do it.”

“Well, that’s specific.”

“Well I’m sorry, but I discovered mine by accident! I never even realized what I was doing until Harry pointed it out!”

“What was I doing, though? Apart from crying and yelling at everyone.” Niall looked ashamed.

“Just focus,” Harry suggested.

Niall opened his mouth to start arguing – and then erupted into flames.

Harry yelled in shock, and Louis stared in utter horror at Niall’s fire-wrapped body. Liam and Zayn craned their necks to stare, but before anyone could speak again, the flames extinguished, and Niall was once again unscathed – but his clothes were in an even worse state, the edges curling and glowing slightly with the aftermath of flames.

“I guess that’s how you do it,” Liam said faintly.

“But what did you do?” Louis demanded.

Niall burst into flames once again to demonstrate.

“Stop doing that!”

“Sorry,” Niall said thickly, his voice contorted through the flames. He reached up, his arm barely visible through the fire that surrounded his limbs, and touched the explosion that was his hair – and then he went out, like a match that had been blown out. Apart from looking a little warm, he was still completely unhurt.

“Give him a break, Liam,” Louis said, “when you first find it…well, you kind of want to keep doing it. Just to see if you can.” He gave Niall a sympathetic smile.

“I don’t get it, though, how is that a power?” Harry demanded. “He sets himself on fire.”

“Oi! I don’t see you doing anything cool,” Niall said, injured at his new ability being insulted.

“Yeah, but no offence, mate…I just can’t see what you can do with it. I mean, Louis can protect himself from stuff…what can you do?”

“Looks like I’m imperious to fire,” Niall said cheerfully, “that could come in handy.”

“You could probably burn people, too. Lovely,” Zayn said brightly – so brightly that he was obviously being sarcastic. “You’ll be so popular at parties.”

“Shut up. If we ever get out of here and you get your cigarettes back, I’ll be your human lighter,” Niall pointed out.

Zayn looked extremely pleased by the idea.

“Great, so we’ve got a guy who makes force fields and throws them at people, and a human candle,” Harry said.

“Someone’s jealous.”

Liam tutted. “Can you blame him? At least you guys can do something.”

“That’s two out of five, though,” Louis pointed out. “Maybe you lot are next.”

“But shouldn’t I have been next?” Harry complained. “I’ve been here longer than Niall.”

“Maybe it’s random.”

“Just be patient. It’ll happen. Maybe you already have a power and you just haven’t activated it yet.”

“I hope so,” Harry muttered grumpily, shuffling back against the wall. “I really, really hope so.”

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