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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10. Chapter ten.

Colours pulsed sickeningly in Louis’ vision, hideous mottled shades of mauve and mustard yellow, and acid green, that gave him a horrible aching sensation behind the eyes as the onsets of a migraine began throbbing through his brain. The blood pouring through his arteries that ordinarily he wouldn’t have been able to feel began to thicken and congeal, turning into a horrible thick treacly substance that chilled his veins like icy water. The outside of him, however, was burning, as if someone had painted his skin all over with flames – as if he were Niall, but the flames were burning him as fiercely as they burnt everything else. His mouth tried to open and let out a scream, but he couldn’t move his lips. All of a sudden, he started to shudder, every muscle in his body shrieking in protest…because he could feel himself tearing apart. Every infinitesimally small part of his body was shredding itself into a particle that was a thousandth of a millimetre wide, and slowly detaching itself from the rest, as agonizingly slowly, he came apart, like a tiny, ridiculously complicated jigsaw puzzle being dismantled.

He couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, could hardly think – the colours were fading from before him as his eyes separated and started to float away from him. The panic of feeling himself being ripped to pieces was horrific; he thought he might stop breathing from sheer terror. He no longer had any toes…or any legs…or any lower body whatsoever. His torso was all that remained, and even that was painstakingly falling apart, vanishing into oblivion. Previously, he had been able to hear a harsh, low buzzing sound like a swarm of bees flying around his ears, but he no longer had ears to hear it with.

Every separate molecule of him had thousands of frighteningly intimate sensations running through it, like cool hands stroking bare skin, but far more gentle and far more intense. It felt like each tiny part was an open nerve ending, and every whisper of air made him want to scream because he felt it so strongly…and it felt amazing. He wanted someone to touch those almost painfully sensitive parts of his body, separated as they were from him; he could imagine the tantalizing sensation of soft hands brushing against him, and the thought made him ache with pure longing as he considered how it would feel. The desire was so overwhelming that he thought he might go mad with it, unable to act on it as he was.

Just as he was starting to be terrified that he might never come together again, he starteditching instead of tingling – and all of a sudden, he was being snatched back together, being dragged once again into a solid form, and that was almost worse than being apart; he felt dull and numb as his body reformed itself, and once again, he was Louis Tomlinson, a real and solid man again.

He felt hard, compact ground beneath his feet, thick mud churning underneath his shoes, and a wave of dizzy nausea swooshed over him, making him bend over double with a groan. Every inch of his body ached, feeling like his cells had all been clumsily knitted together by an arthritic old woman. His legs shook, cramped and stiff, and harsh tremors stroked down his back, making him shudder and gasp. Instinctively, he breathed in, and his lungs rasped, the oxygen burning his insides and feeling like acid searing against his nostrils and throat. A loud groan ripped its way from his mouth, and Louis cried out as his body crumpled uncontrollably to the floor, shudders rippling through him as he sprawled face down in the dirt. His mouth opened as he choked, and then he retched, and choked up the pathetically healthy meal he had eaten a few hours previously.

A tentative hand rubbed his back comfortingly, and Louis moaned and reached up with an icy hand to push the stranger away, weakly attempting to push himself up into a more dignified position. He ended up collapsing back to the ground again with a small, pathetic noise that he hated for coming out of his mouth. Mud squished around the muscles of his face, pressed against the ground, as he clenched his stomach fiercely, not wanting to throw up again.

“Sorry,” Felix apologized, “I should have warned you. It’s never been that bad for me, but other people don’t react well.”

“You can say that again,” Louis gasped, and he forced a hand to his mouth and wiped it in disgust.

It took him a while to get into even a vaguely upright position, and even then he wobbled dangerously and had to grab hold of Felix’s arm for support. For some reason, that made him feel even worse; touching the younger boy made his stomach squeeze uneasily, and he ended up gripping several clumps of grass as he slowly forced himself to sit up. His hair was flattened on one side of his head and filled with clumps of mud, and there was a streak of dirt running down his face from where he had fallen face first to the floor. Carefully rubbing his eyes, Louis blinked slowly as he started coming back to awareness.

“Is it always that vicious?” he demanded, wincing as he took another painful breath.

“Not usually,” admitted Felix. “Nobody’s ever reacted so violently before, are you okay?”

“Oh, I’m great!” Louis lied, “absolutely fabulous. I do so love being blasted into atoms and then rearranged somewhere I’ve never seen before, then casually throwing up on the – where are we anyway, where did you bring us?”

Felix threw a cursory glance around the surrounding countryside, as if he wasn’t entirely sure; an idea that somewhat worried Louis. “Um…Penicuik. Scotland.”

“We’re in Scotland?” Louis yelped. “Why the hell are we in Scotland? Why would you bring us to Scotland? You’re not Scottish. I’m not Scottish. None of the boys are Scottish. I thought you were just taking me outside the base! It isn’t in Scotland. Again, why the hell are we in Scotland?” He gave Felix one of the most suspicious glances in the history of the world, and stretched his fingers in a clear indication of what he was planning to do.

“Whoa, hey!” Felix complained, backing away, waving his hands above his head in surrender. “Don’t go sticking me in another of your goldfish bowls!”

“Why have you brought me here?” Louis asked warily, frowning at the younger boy. “What are you doing to me?”

“What kind of guy do you think I am? This was the first place that sprung to mind, that’s all. I’ll go back for the boys in a second, but first, are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Louis snapped, “now go back for them, they’ll be going out of their minds!”

“Do you hate me?” Felix enquired inquisitively. There was no harshness in his voice; only curiosity.

“What? No! Of course I don’t. How could I hate you? I barely know you.”

“You don’t seem to like me very much.”

“I’m stressed, sleep-deprived and pumped full of drugs; you’ll have to excuse me for being a bit tetchy,” Louis snarled. He groaned and closed his eyes. God. He had no idea why this boy was inspiring such a vehement reaction in him – but for some reason, Louis despised him.

“Will you be all right here?” Felix asked, dropping the subject. “I can go and get them now. Any preference as to who I pick first?”

A frown creased Louis’ forehead. He loathed favouritism, and no matter how much he secretly wanted to say ‘Harry’, he forced the thought back into the deepest depths of his brain and shook his head fiercely.

“I’ll be right back,” the dark-haired boy promised, straightening up from his crouch and brushing the muck off his jeans. He looked around for any adversaries who could randomly pop up and attack Louis, then directed his gaze towards the sky. His dark hair ruffled softly in the wind, making him look oddly ethereal and ghostly with his pale face. Slowly looking down, Felix nodded to himself – and then he was gone, and the drizzle was swirling through the space that his body had occupied only seconds before, as if the skinny sixteen year old had never been there in the first place.

~*~

Harry was ready to bite his own wrists off and start pacing manically around the room by the time Felix popped back up in the darkened room – and when he saw that the boy was alone, and Louis wasn’t hanging onto his skinny arm, or holding a force field around him, or wobbling on the floor, the sentiment returned in full force. With a tiny sound of skin parting, his mouth fell open and he stared wide-eyed at the black-haired teenager, turning as pale as Felix the ghost boy. Stunned, he took several short, panicked breaths, then remembered exactly how to speak – and speak, he did.

“Where’s Louis?”

Felix rolled his eyes. “Does nobody trust me? You’re all as bad as each other. Louis is fine. He’s in Scotland, getting his breath back. He didn’t take well to teleporting.”

“Scotland?” Niall asked. “Why is he in Scotland?”

“It was the first place I thought of!” Felix snapped, “why so many questions? What have I done to make you all so suspicious of me? I came here to help you! You could at least pretendto have a little faith.”

“Fine, we’re sorry for being mistrustful when a teleporting guy who walks through walls materializes in the room we’ve been trapped in for more than a week, and immediately expects us to start doing a happy dance and singing his praises from the rooftops!” Harry snapped, “now stop whining and get us out of here!”

Pulling a face, Felix looked around the room, then eventually made his decision and crossed the room, laying a hand on Liam’s shoulder. “You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” Liam muttered, looking nervously around at the boys. “You’re absolutely sure Louis is all right?”

“He’s fine,” Felix promised. “He was having a right old go at me when I left, so…trust me, he’s great. Oh! By the way, close your eyes. It’s easier if you close your eyes. And might I suggest holding your breath? I’m afraid the journey feels a little rough the first couple of times you do it. Louis can vouch for that; his vomit is splashed all over the Scottish Highlands.” He sniggered.

Making a disgusted sound at Felix’s amusement, Harry shook his head. On the other side of the room, Liam nodded slowly, gazing warily at the dark-haired boy, and looked around at his friends with an anxious expression clouding in his brown eyes. It was the first time since he had arrived that any of them had ever seen Liam look uncertain, and Zayn especially looked uneasy; he and Liam were mates in a similar way to Harry and Louis, only less intense. Steadying his breathing, Liam rolled his shoulders carefully, then forced a smile.

“See you in a minute, boys,” he said with strained cheerfulness; his grin was so fake that it was almost painful, like the harsh plastic smirk on the face of a Barbie doll.

Then Felix’s grip turned harsh, his fingers dug into Liam’s muscled shoulder, and his face tightened in concentration. Liam barely had time to seal his lips, snatching a quick breath of air into his lungs, and slam his eyes shut before his muscles tensed and Felix whisked him into nothingness.

~*~

When he slammed into the ground and found his whole body pressed against a lot of dirt and dying grass, Liam groaned and curled inwards on himself, trying to stop the nausea. Little did he know that his own sickness was enviable compared to Louis’; Liam only thought he might be sick, whereas Louis actually had. He opened his eyes, and they immediately started streaming, bright light stabbing at his irises while the wind bit nastily at his cheeks and sent his hair wildly blowing up around him. Shaking his head violently, Liam moaned softly and bit his lip, not hard enough that it bled, but with enough pressure to distract him from feeling sorry for himself. He tasted the fresh flavour of wind and plants on his tongue, and he could smell musty earth and sheep all around him. With one hand, he forced himself into a sitting position and squinted, glancing around to find himself face to face with the source of the animal smell: a large sheep was stood docilely over him, staring him down with a very confused expression on its face, glassy eyes blank.

“Baaaaa,” it bleated.

“Holy sh –” the wind tore the expletive raggedly from his lips as he swore and scrambled backwards to escape the animal, which was looking at him with the stupidest of gazes. Liam instantly felt idiotic for being so frantic to get away from a sheep, but it had startled him, after all. He glared at it. He didn’t like being made a fool out of, especially by a white lumpy animal with a straggly, greasy woolly fleece.

“Baaaaa,” the sheep repeated doubtfully.

“Shoo!” Liam ordered, pointing masterfully in the opposite direction. “Leave. I don’t like sheep.”

“Baaaaa,” was the reproachful reply. The animal skittered uneasily a few steps in a way completely different from the one he had indicated, then looked over at him in confusion, as if anticipating further instructions.

“Go away!” commanded Liam. “I have people to look for, things to do…”

Ignoring his demands, the sheep took a few further steps towards him and butted his shoulder with its head, nuzzling into his arm. He was stunned to find himself being accosted by a sheep – so shocked, in fact, that he didn’t push it away. Making a satisfied noise, it cuddled up to him and he uncertainly rubbed its unkempt woolly back with the fingertips of his left hand, bewildered to find himself petting a sheep.

“Well, seeing as there’s nobody else around,” he said feebly. “Where’s that Felix buggered off to?”

“Hello, it’s the sheep whisperer!” called a familiar friendly voice. “Finally made a friend who’s on your intellectual level, Liam?”

Liam’s head snapped up, and he found himself face to face with Louis – who looked extremely different in the light of day. He was muddy, pale, way too skinny, his hair was un-brushed and sticking messily up, one cheek was scratched, and his stripey shirt was stained, his trousers torn. Liam blinked, unused to being able to see him in such clarity, with so little dimness clouding his eyes. His pupils hurt from the sudden light, and he had to crease up his eyes slightly to look at the incredibly altered form of his skinny friend, who looked so changed when Liam could see him properly. He was taller than Liam had originally thought, and skinnier, although his arms bulged with impressive muscles. His eyes were a dark blue that Liam hadn’t been able to see, and his hair was a less dark shade of brown than it had seemed to be. Still, despite the difference that daylight and a bit of wind made to someone’s appearance, there was no mistaking the brilliance of that smile.

“Lou!”

Liam staggered forwards and threw his arms around the other boy, astonished at how real and solid he felt despite seeming so breakable. He didn’t smell too good; the scent of unwashed boy, musty walls and sick hung about him, he was trembling slightly as the wind snatched at his loose, dirty clothes, and he seemed almost desperate as he hung onto Liam with both hands – but who could blame him? He hadn’t been touched by a friendly and familiar face for days. Liam shared the sentiment; he was just as eager to hug as Louis was. He buried his face in the other boy’s shoulder and clung to him.

“God, you look even uglier in daylight,” Louis teased affectionately, nudging Liam with the top of his head. After a few more seconds, they broke apart, and the two boys examined each other, taking in every inch that they had been unable to see in the darkness.

Louis soon discovered that Liam Payne, the sensible one, with whom he had been willing to trust his best friend’s life to, was a tall, broad-shouldered young man with soft brown hair, which couldn’t seem to decide whether to be curly or straight, and instead waved indecisively over his forehead. He too was pale, from the lack of sunlight which came with captivity, and he had a distinctly fatherly look that Louis had already heard in his voice, along with a kindness that hung about his deep, friendly brown eyes. Now that he could put a proper face to the voice that he had found so reassuring and sensible in the past, and yet brilliantly funny enough to put a smile on his face. It felt good. Louis clapped a hand on Liam’s arm and squeezed hard, grinning at him.

“Nice to see you too, Tommo,” Liam greeted warmly.

Suddenly remembering how he had gotten to be there in the first place, Liam looked wildly around, his head jerking in a panic as he searched for their seemingly one-way ticket to freedom, who, ominously, had vanished.

“Where’d Felix go?” he demanded.

“To fetch the others,” Louis told him reassuringly. “He didn’t stick around. He’d barely dropped you before he was flashing off to go back for the others. Show-off.” He rolled his eyes, but there was a slightly bitter edge to his voice which gave Liam the idea that the other boy didn’t like Felix much.

He’d barely gotten the words out before the space only a few metres away from them was suddenly occupied, by the lanky Felix and a gasping Niall, whose eyes were wide open and face was bright pink. As they stared at him, the blond boy turned an ugly shade of green, groaned and doubled over, barely keeping his balance and retching violently behind a bush. Felix winced at the splattering sounds carried by the wind and shook his head pityingly, stepping out of range of Niall’s wildly flapping and singed clothes.

“I did tell you to keep your eyes shut,” he said.

“Man, that was rough!” Niall complained. “Worse than driving through Dublin on a Friday night! You really need to take lessons in teleportation.”

“You do it, if you’re so smart,” Felix retorted, shoving his shaggy hair off his forehead and then stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Anyway, it’s not a premium service. I’ve never had a problem with it. No, no, stay down; it’ll pass.” He shoved Niall back into a crouch before the other boy could stand.

Whining in protest, Niall sank back to the ground, his blond hair ruffling in the wind, and fixed them all with an injured, blue-eyed glance. In the fierce wind, the blood was falling from his cheeks as he cooled, and his burnt clothes were as dishevelled as the rest of him.

“Go back for the others,” Liam commanded, “they’ll be frightened out of their wits!”

“Oi! Give me a second! It’s not as easy as all that, popping back and forth all the time! Not only do I have to rip myself – and now, apparently, someone else – apart, but I also have to punch a hole in the fabric of –”

“Oh, spare us the logistics,” Louis interrupted sharply, “and the dramatics. Now go back for our friends, okay? And this time, bring them both. No one gets left behind, do you understand me?”

“I understand all right,” Felix bitterly replied, “I’m your personal taxi.” But he vanished without further complaint.

“He’s very rude, isn’t he?” Niall said cheerfully, getting to his feet and wiping his mouth. “But cool. He has great hair.”

“Don’t let Zayn hear you say that,” Liam chuckled. “As far as he’s concerned, no one’s hair is better than his.”

Louis, however, was silent. He had no wish to participate in the discussion – only to wait.

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