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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6. Chapter six.

Patience seemed to be a virtue which Harry possessed in far more abundance than the others who shared the small, darkened room with him – while he was still sat watching the door and waiting for Louis to be returned safely to them, Niall, for one, was asleep. His eyes were closed, a peaceful expression on his face with his head lolling forward, chin resting on his chest, pale and tired looking, but he would wake up refreshed, and that was the main thing. The slow, steady rise and fall of his chest made him look like any other sleeping teenage boy – apart from the cuffs restraining his hands, of course. Zayn was whispering under his breath; singing quietly, his voice low and melodic enough not to cause irritation. Harry didn’t recognize the song, but it sounded like some kind of lullaby; it could have been what had soothed Niall to sleep. It was reassuring enough to tempt Harry into closing his eyes, but determined to be there for Louis, he held his eyes firmly open. Chains clinked repetitively as Liam bobbed up and down, doing some form of exercise that was hard to make out in the darkness. Squats? Harry couldn’t quite see.

The room was by no means silent, but somehow Harry preferred the sounds of movement, muttering and snoring to the emptiness of a quiet room. He had loathed just having to listen to breathing; the sound of endurance. When it had been just him and Louis, either they had slept, or they had talked quietly, complaining about their situation, finding out about each others’ pasts, or just…talking. Wallowing in misery wasn’t good for either of them; they both knew that, and instead of allowing each other to sit and sulk, they had forced conversation upon each other. It had gotten on Harry’s nerves on more than one occasion, having to keep up a discussion with someone when all he wanted was to sit and mope – but far more often, he had been glad of the company. The other boys, however, seemed not to appreciate the effort. Zayn, especially, was not averse to snapping when caught in a bad mood, and the cheerful stream of chatter seemed to get on his nerves. Therefore Louis had stopped randomly breaking into conversation whenever the silence got to be unbearable, and Harry missed it.

He counted the breaths he took for a few minutes, then started  keeping score of how many times Liam lost count of the amount of squats he had done, which was discernible from his huffs of irritation every time he had to start over. Why Liam was choosing to exercise at a time like this was mystifying to Harry, but to each their own: everyone had their own method of dealing with stress. Apparently, Niall’s was sleeping. Liam’s appeared to be exercising, and Zayn’s was…well, being Zayn.

Harry wasn’t sure what his own technique was. He liked to think, to run over things in his mind and consider them from every angle until he felt that he understood every aspect of them – but he wasn’t certain whether that counted, or whether it was just classed as being a control freak. He definitely liked to know where he stood, but he didn’t really know if he could consider that as a stress-reliever. It was more something that he did from habit rather than to alleviate tension. What was Louis’ preferred distraction, he wondered? Chattering to people so that he irritated them beyond belief, and calming them down again was his way of relaxing? Unlikely. Immediately, Harry resolved to find out: he hated not knowing things. He would be keeping an eye on Louis until he had figured out the mystery.

Then there was a familiar aching creak that made him wince, and caused Niall to stir in his sleep, Zayn to falter in his quiet singing and Liam not only to lose count of his squats, but to lose his balance and almost fall over, ending up swearing and supported by the cuffs on his wrists. Jerkin upright, Liam glared at the door as it opened, and Louis was ushered back into the room by the two suddenly pleased strangers.

They locked Louis back up again with a rattle of chains, and then spared cursory glances for the rest of the boys. For some reason they took especial interest in Harry, rudely shining a little torch into his eyes, checking his temperature and lightly kneading his fluid bag as if expecting it to react as Louis’ had. The purple fluid pouring into Louis was no longer bubbling, but it was still a violent shade of orange. Harry’s, however had stayed stubbornly violet, much to the strangers’ disappointment. Eventually, after quickly examining Zayn, Liam and the sleeping Niall, they once again withdrew, slamming the door with unnecessary force – so loudly that the slamming echo caused Niall to jolt awake with a small yelp of shock.

“What the – hey, Louis!” Niall’s face lit up in greeting and he waggled his fingers in a brave attempt at a wave. “How long have you been there?”

“All of two seconds,” Louis said dryly, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “Hi, guys.”

“They didn’t take your power away?” Zayn demanded worriedly.

Louis rolled his eyes. “What do you think?”

To demonstrate, he flexed his fingers once again, and a neat violet-tinted sphere the size of a beach ball appeared between his fingers. Louis gave it a satisfied glance, then tossed it across the room, where it hit the wall, bounced off, and then dispersed in mid air as he let his hands slacken again.

“Cool,” Niall breathed.

“What did they do to you?” Liam asked, clearly not impressed enough by a pretty purple ball to be distracted from his questioning.

“Tests, tests, and more tests. As per usual. Blood tests, an MRI scan, x-rays, blood pressure…a urine sample; that was fun…” Louis snorted. “The works.”

“Do they know about…” Liam gestured vaguely to indicate the force fields.

Looking away, Louis focused on conjuring up another orb, and his voice was detached as he absently continued the conversation whilst summoning an average-sized bubble between his fingertips. “Oh, yes. I don’t think they knew at first, but they started throwing things at me – presumably in the hope that I’d defend myself.” His tone was halfway between outrage and incredulity; he couldn’t decide whether to be annoyed at the extremities of the testing, or impressed by the ingenuity of the strangers. “I didn’t mean to do it, but one moment they were chucking a massive shoe at me, and the next minute, I did this.” He concentrated intently, and then the air convulsed, and a dome-shaped force field formed around him, starting at the wall his back was pressed against, and arching out in front of him to create a semi-circle area that was protected from anything that could be thrown at it, a seemingly impenetrable barrier.

Impressed, the other boys looked excitedly at the apparition. Louis seemed almost smug as he stretched his fingers, and the sphere expanded slightly in response.

“Weird, isn’t it? I never knew I could do it. It’s strange how much you figure out when things are being lobbed at your face. I didn’t fancy being whacked in the face with a size 12 shoe, so I…did this.” Louis shrugged and studied his protective bubble for a few seconds longer. “It’s pretty effective, if I do say so myself.”

“Can nothing break through it?” Harry asked.

“If anything can, they’ve yet to find it. They tried everything. Popping it, punching it, compressing it, throwing things at it, dumping stuff on top of it to weigh it down…so far, nothing even came close to damaging it. Didn’t even dent the sides.” Louis couldn’t help but be proud.

Harry was watching him closely – Louis, not his force field – so he was the only one to spot the exertion on Louis’ face; the beads of sweat popping up on his creased forehead. The effort it was taking to maintain such a large and substantial bubble was taking its toll. He looked ready to collapse, and yet he was determinedly keeping it in place, seeming pleased with the impression he was making.

“Give it a rest now, Lou, yeah?” he suggested gently.

“What? You were the one who kept telling me to do it!”

“Yeah, but over-exerting yourself isn’t going to help anyone. Don’t over-do it. Just relax for a second, okay?”

Louis huffed grumpily, but he allowed the bubble to shimmer and fade into nothingness. He wiped his glistening forehead on his shoulder and took a few deep, slow breaths to try and rest for a moment or so. The other boys watched eagerly, waiting for him to recover. Harry’s expression was unreadable, and intentionally so; secretly, he was as impatient as the others to see more, but he wasn’t about to let his own curiosity overshadow Louis’ wellbeing.

“Did you find out anything?” Harry asked, trying to take Louis’ attention elsewhere so that he wouldn’t be so determined to start tiring himself out again so quickly. “Like…why they want us?”

A grim frown appeared on Louis’ face. “Unfortunately.”

“Well?”

“It would appear,” Louis said very slowly and reluctantly, which worried Harry, “that they want to… use us. For something. They want us all to develop some kind of abilities, and then, erm…sell our services, shall we say.”

Harry blinked. “I’m sorry, what?”

“They want to auction us off,” Louis explained patiently. “So that whoever buys us can use our powers to their advantage. Basically, we’re like pawns: these people don’t want to risk getting these drugs tested on them, so they’ve hired a couple of thugs to kidnap some unsuspecting victims off the streets, turn them into superhuman lackeys, and then sell them to the highest bidder. Who will then make us do stuff that’s illegal, immoral, and probably dangerous.”

What?” Niall yelped. “That’s like slave trading! That can’t be legal!”

None of this is legal,” Louis said dryly. “That would just be the tip of the ice-berg.”

“How do you know all this?” Zayn demanded.

His mouth twisting in a wry smile, Louis said “Let’s just say that those guys are way more talkative than we give them credit for.”

“Clearly, if they let all that slip,” Liam muttered.

“But none of us are any use to them,” Harry said, “except for Louis.”

“It’ll come,” Louis said confidently. “You just wait. It’ll be as easy as breathing soon enough; you’ll see.”

“What does it feel like?” Harry asked enviously.

Louis tilted his head mischievously to one side. “Catch!” With a quick twitch of his fingers, a golf-ball sized orb had bloomed in the space above his head, and fast as lightning, he had tossed it across the room, where it landed with a light thunk in Harry’s hands.

Stunned, Harry gripped it, expecting it to pop and deflate at his touch – but to his surprise, the surface was cool to the touch and showed no signs of giving way, no matter how hard he squeezed it. The texture of it was like nothing he’d ever experienced before; it was something like glass, but more flexible, dipping inwards when he pummelled it hard enough but not allowing him to break through it. If he had been able to create a ball out of water, he imagined it would feel similar to that. Fascinated, he gently contracted his fingers around it, amazed by the complexity of something that looked so simple.

Predictably, Niall started clamouring for one as well. “Me too, me too,” he begged.

Louis instantly twisted his hands, but the weak, pulsing bubble the size of a football was too hastily constructed, too fragile, and when he attempted to throw it, it barely made it halfway across the room before it collapsed in on itself and vanished. Scowling, Louis attempted another, but the framework of it flickered in the air for less than a second before it was gone again. He hissed impatiently.

“Calm, Lou,” Harry reminded him. “Don’t overdo it.”

It took a few more seconds of careful breathing and controlled stretching of his fingers, but then Louis was ready, and a sphere the size of a small tennis ball was clutched in Niall’s hand. Amazed, he curled his fingers around it, squeezing it like a stress ball, and was surprised by how little it seemed to give in his grip. His fingertips explored the surface of the orb, and he watched it, fixated on the shimmering colours sliding through its surface.

Naturally, Liam and Zayn weren’t going to be left out, and it was with practised ease that Louis summoned another two bubbles and launched them into their waiting hands. He seemed pleased with his accomplishment as Liam turned the slippery force field over and over in his fingers, as if expecting it to fall out of his hands. Zayn simply held on tightly to the thing he cupped in his hands above his head, as if it were some kind of precious jewel. Bored, Louis started lobbing sphere after sphere across the room, bouncing them off the walls and grinning like a child as  the others had to duck to avoid the flying orbs shooting in every direction.

“They’ve made a massive mistake,” Liam said, shaking his head. “They picked you to pioneer superpowers on, and to sell for slave labour?” He looked amused.

“What’s wrong with me?” Louis asked defensively.

“Most people who got the power of force fields would be testing their limitations – seeing how big they could make them; that sort of thing. Whereas you’re…” Liam shook his head again. “You’re playing catch with them.”

Louis shrugged as he flicked another force field into the corner. “I’m bored. Besides, this is helping me to get to grips with it.”

Harry was chewing his lip worriedly. “Are you okay, Lou? Shouldn’t you be taking another rest right now?”

“I’m fine, Harry, honest. This is child’s play compared to what I was doing before. Quite literally.” Louis chuckled at Liam, who unwillingly looked amused. “Believe me, there’s a massive difference between having to create massive barriers to deflect lumps of metal falling on your head, and making a couple of silly force fields to use as bouncy balls.” As if to prove a point, he effortlessly threw one at Harry, where it hit him on the head and bounced off.

“Ow,” Harry complained good-naturedly, but it hadn’t really hurt, and he couldn’t help but smile slightly at Louis’ childish behaviour.

“Did they take any measurements?” Zayn asked, ever the practical one.

“They tried. According to their readings, they can easily get the diameter of every force field I create, but not the weight or the mass. They’ve attempted to get the temperature but apparently it doesn’t have one. They can’t work out what it’s made of because they can’t puncture it to get a sample. It has no electrical charge or magnetic field, and no density.”

“But it has a temperature!” Harry protested. “I can feel it! It’s cold.”

“Their machines didn’t seem to agree with your opinion.”

As Louis turned to begin elaborating on the many tests that the strangers had been attempting on his force fields, Harry did a few tests of his own with the limited resources he had at his disposal: his own senses. He could feel the coolness of the sphere in his hands; he lowered it slightly and examined it in detail, looking at every tiny element of it. He attempted to smell it, but it had no odour. Holding it next to his ear, he discovered that it emitted a faint, barely discernible humming which required very keen ears to hear. Then he tried tasting it, and found that it was giving off tiny, infinitesimally small vibrations which tickled his tongue and buzzed in the roof of his mouth like he had a mouthful of wasps, feeling so unpleasant that he quickly pulled his tongue back into his mouth and abandoned the attempt. His skin crawled; he couldn’t shake off the feeling that thousands of insects were flying around in his mouth. Once again, he squeezed it to try and work out how strong it was, which hurt his fingers; it had hardened in his grasp, and he could feel it quivering slightly. He decided to drop it; the sensation was unnerving, like he was holding some kind of animal in his hand. It almost seemed to be breathing.

“Hey, Harry, are you okay?” asked Louis.

He forced a smile. “Yeah. Just…don’t try to lick them, okay? They buzz.” He tossed the orb away and it flickered and vanished before it hit the floor.

That odd statement was met with amusement, disgust and curiosity, as the other boys stared at him and wondered how he could possibly have worked that out.

“I take it you tried,” Niall said.

“Obviously. Not a good idea. They buzz,” he repeated disgustedly.

Louis snorted. “Weird kid. You’re mad. Completely mad.”

“Indeed I am. Just a warning. Do. Not. Lick. Them.”

“Like anyone else would.” Louis rolled his eyes. “I think you have issues, Harold.”

“Boredom is a terrible thing.” Harry wrinkled his nose. “I won’t repeat the mistake.”

“Make sure you don’t. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t lick them. They’re a part of me. So don’t lick me, Styles, or I’ll buzz your tongue!” Louis chuckled at the oddness of the words.

“You know what?” Harry said dryly. “Deal.”

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