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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13. Chapter thirteen.

Harry awoke to discover that the warmth of Louis’ body beside him had departed, and so had Louis himself. He was lying alone on the crate, with his own jumper carefully draped over him, and he felt stiff and uncomfortable after a night of lying on stiff wooden boards that had been clumsily nailed together. Splinters were prodding uncomfortably into his back, and he sat up and reached behind him to pluck them out, which proved not to be as easy as he had anticipated, as the bits of wood that he successfully extricated dug sharply into his fingers, which almost hurt more. Growling, he shook himself and brushed himself down, attempted to tug the worst of the splinters out so that he less resembled a porcupine, and then surveyed the room.

Out of all of his friends, the one of them whose company he favoured the least was the only one still there: Felix was lounging lazily on his own makeshift bed, arms folded behind his head, staring at the ceiling and chewing something, although Harry couldn’t make out what. He suspected that selfishly, Felix had sneaked out in the middle of the night for some gum, which seemed pretty unreasonable. Couldn’t he have gotten them some blankets or something? Scowling, Harry ran a hand through his hair to push it out of his eyes so that he could see properly, then looked around the room. After returning Harry’s jumper, Niall had vanished, and he was nowhere to be seen. There were no telltale scorches or a lingering stench of acrid smoke to give him away, which was just as well, really; there was enough cardboard and wood in the room to send the whole place up if the wrong thing caught fire. Zayn had abandoned his bed, although he alone seemed to have attempted to tidy his tiny area of the room; the bubble-wrap was carefully spread and folded on his crate in the likeness of a duvet, whereas his shirt was still acting as a pillow. That was reassuring; it was a nice shirt, and Harry didn’t think that Zayn would have left it behind if he was expecting to be gone for any length of time. Having no real possessions to speak of any more, none of them were willing to abandon what little they had. Liam had left no trace that he had been there at all, and Louis…all that Louis had left was a new sense of coldness in Harry’s bed, and a stiff ache in his shoulders from having an arm around him for most of the night. It had been nice, but it had certainly given Harry a cramp in the back of his neck.

Warily approaching Felix, unsure what mood he might be, Harry was cautious as he prepared his interrogation. He wanted answers, but he remembered all too well Felix’s wicked comments about walking through people, how weird it felt, and how funny their reactions were. Somehow, he got the feeling that he wasn’t at all keen to have that particular experience.

Lazily looking up, Felix raised an eyebrow questioningly. It was such an unbelievably condescending expression that Harry felt that he hated him a little bit; the idea that the younger boy was too arrogant even to speak to him was maddening. Burying his hands deeply into his cavernous pockets so that they would not be free to punch the teenager, Harry forced himself to stay calm. Yes, Felix was an obnoxious, snobbish prat, but he was a useful prat, and whacking him in the nose, however satisfying, would not be a good idea in the long run. Still, it took a lot of effort to keep his clenched fists in his pockets and not in Felix’s face.

“Where are the others?” he asked as politely as he could, doing his utmost not to let his almost painful aggravation shine through in his tone.

The attempt, although valiant, was not as successful as it might have been; an indolent smile crept across Felix’s face as he regarded Harry with an almost insulting amount of apathy, seeming to enjoy Harry’s barely concealed annoyance. Yawning, Felix sleepily rubbed his eyes and pulled himself into an almost-sitting position which wasn’t quite upright enough to convey attentiveness. His posture gave the impression that he was barely listening – probably accurate, but none the less infuriating.

“Niall and Liam went to get their bearings and work out where we are,” he said boredly.

A frown creased Harry’s forehead at that somewhat worrying statement. “Don’t you know?”

“Do I look like a sat-nav?” Felix snapped. He closed his eyes, and the martyred expression on his face made Harry angrier than the bored one. What right did Felix have to play the patient, tolerant one, when he was the one who warranted tolerating? Harry gritted his teeth as Felix amended himself in a saint-like tone, “No, I’m afraid I don’t know.”

Of course, Harry’s next, impatient, almost rude demand was “Where is Louis, then? And Zayn,” he added quickly, embarrassed that he’d momentarily forgotten their other friend.

Felix waved a hand nonchalantly. “How should I know? Round and about, doing something or other. I think Louis said something about getting some more clothes; how they expect to do that without money, I can’t imagine.” He shook his head, as if astonished by their apparent stupidity.

Why was his tone so irritating? Harry shook his head as well, mirroring Felix’s pitying movement, then turned his back on him and marched across the room. Stopping before the door, he examined it for a while and tried to calm himself, annoyed that Felix could make him so furious with only a few choice sentences. It was a talent of his.

Only giving him a moment or so of relief from his exasperating company, Felix soon decided that he’d given Harry a long enough recuperation from his rudeness, sarcasm and generally unpleasant attitude, and slipped off his bed to begin walking across the room and intercept Harry. Inwardly, Harry groaned as he turned around to face the boy, wishing more than anything that he would just stop and walk in the opposite direction.

Oh, go away, he thought.

The thought was simple enough, but it felt different than usual. Instead of being his own, normal, light mental narration, it seemed to echo inside his mind, oddly commanding, as if someone had shouted the thought down a long corridor and it was reflecting off the walls, bouncing back in on him. Frowning, Harry shook his head, confused – and, pausing in his journey across the room, Felix emulated him, his head bobbing back and forth as he shook it, bewildered. At first, Harry though Felix was copying his actions in a childish attempt to annoy him, but before Harry could yell at him, a surprised Felix turned on his heel and walked in a straight line back across the room, right over to his bed, and ended up standing in front of it, facing away from Harry.

Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, but he thought he felt the faintest flutter of confusion prickling at the back of his mind – confusion that was unsettlingly separate from his own. The emotion was faint and detached from what Harry was feeling, and it felt different. He didn’t like it at all.

“Wha–?” Clearly perplexed, Felix shook his head again, turning around to stare at Harry. His expression was priceless; he obviously had no idea what was going on. Tutting disapprovingly, his lips framed something which looked like ‘overdoing it’ and he began approaching Harry again.

Oh, no, Harry thought wearily, please, I’m not in the mood. Go away, Felix!

That was when he noticed the weird sensation at the back of his mind, as if somebody werelistening. He could feel something strange, which was attached to the emotions he could sense that were unmistakeably not his own; it felt like…well, he wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed to be a mind. Somebody else’s conscious thoughts were buzzing madly like wasps in the furthest corner of Harry’s head, and he had no control over them. Shocked, he tried to withdraw from the contact, and discovered that he couldn’t do it. Looking equally stunned, Felix stopped again, head in his hands, and dithered helplessly in the middle of the room, apparently torn between heading towards Harry and retreating across the room again.

Go, Harry commanded. Go and sit over there.

That was the first time he consciously became aware of what he was doing; when he had intentionally issued an order in the hope that it would be carried out. Previously, his weak requests had not been noticed, but now he was paying attention to what he was doing, he discovered some kind of odd link between the thoughts he was having and the strange kind of access he had to Felix’s mind. He couldn’t completely access it, but those thoughts at the forefront of Felix’s brain seemed to be rushing across it like insects darting across the surface of a pond, and these thoughts he could read easily. Not that he had any interest in them, even if they had been tangible; mostly all he found was uncertainty and confusion: Felix’s thoughts were scattered, sent into disarray by Harry’s command. He hovered for a moment or so, clearly trying to organize himself, and while he was distracted, Harry seized the opportunity to give his mind another gentle nudge as he firmly repeated the order inside his head.

He wasn’t certain exactly when Felix surrendered to him, or why, or even if he was aware that he had done it, but all of a sudden Harry felt himself pouring into the tiny sliver of Felix’s brain that he could feel inside his head, and all of a sudden, there he was, in control. A puppeteer. Experimentally, he suggested that Felix scratched his nose, and watched from his safe vantage point across the room as the boy reached up to dispel an itch that wasn’t there, clearly having no idea why he was doing it. The sight of his hands moving when he’d had no intention to do anything with them unsettled Felix; he gaped in horror at his twitching fingers.

Harry couldn’t resist the urge to have a bit of fun with the situation; Felix had mocked him often enough since they’d met, and now he had a chance to get his own back. Everything was very much trial and error, so it took him a while to get to grips with it, especially as in order to do what he wanted, he had to contort Felix’s arm into an almost painfully unnatural position – which took an awful lot of mental prodding, coaxing and patient repetition – but eventually, Harry gave a little smile of triumph as Felix’s hand was raised in front of his face, positioned so that he was staring at the back of his clenched fist. Sweating with the effort, Harry gave one last command, and then Felix’s middle finger popped up, and to his bewilderment, Felix found that he was swearing at himself, and couldn’t seem to stop.

Delighted with his progress, Harry slid to the floor, collapsing with his back against the door, exhausted but reluctant to relinquish his command. In the end, he wearily ordered Felix to drop his hand and had him stand in the corner, facing the wall so that Harry didn’t have to look at his stunned face. It was immensely satisfying.

After that, Harry merely began exploring his newly discovered ability. Having exacted his revenge, he was now interested in finding out the extents and limitations of his power, and refining it so that when the others came back, he would have an impressive demonstration for them. Maybe he wasn’t as flashy as Louis and Niall, but who needed bright lights and fancy colours? He had forced someone to give themselves the middle finger and be unable to do anything about it, which he was pretty sure thousands of people would envy him for.

At first he was clumsy, poking brutally around in Felix’s mind, but the constant whimpers and flinching from Felix’s direction, and the air of discomfort simmering within his brain, Harry eased off slightly and was a little more gentle, stroking Felix’s thoughts with his own while he examined them. Quickly, he discovered that he could read the primary concerns running through Felix’s head, but latent ideas were buried too deeply, and therefore a mystery to him. He could also control not only Felix’s body by messing with his mind, but parts of his brain, too. This he discovered by forcing Felix’s vocal cords into action and insisting that he called himself an ‘irritating floppy-haired imbecile’, punctuated, of course, with some choice swearwords. Of course, this amused Harry endlessly, and he had Felix insult himself numerous times in various imaginative ways.

He couldn’t deny, however, that seeing Felix so terrified was less than fun.  Harry might have released his hold and let the boy go, if he had not been able to see the intentions swimming through Felix’s head to teleport as far away from Harry as he could, the moment the opportunity arose. All attempts to communicate were ignored, although perhaps Felix was simply panicking too hard to listen. Patiently, Harry held him in place and prevented him from tearing himself apart, but it got boring after a while, and he wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever. That was when he started fiddling more purposefully, checking through Felix’s brain functions to see how many of them he could control. As it turned out, he had full command over all of them – more command than even Felix himself.

In the end, that was how Harry solved the problem. It didn’t take a genius to work out that Felix was cringing away from him because he knew that Harry could control his body – so all Harry had to do was erase that knowledge. Locating the part of Felix’s mind which held the memories, Harry examined the boy’s recollections of the past few minutes, trying to plan out a strategy: he had two options; tamper with them, and alter Felix’s memory so that he thought something entirely different had taken place within those past few minutes, which would involve Harry coming up with a plausible false scenario and convincing Felix’s brain to accept it in place of the old one – or he could simply remove the memory altogether, and leave Felix with a gap.

As a solution, the second was far quicker and far easier, and therefore probably the best option for him, as a beginner. However, it did mean that ten minutes of Felix’s life would have vanished from his mind, and that would mean some nasty questions being asked. The first option…Harry wasn’t even sure whether that was within his capabilities, and he was terrified of damaging Felix by shoving a false memory in where it wasn’t wanted, or in the wrong place. What if he covered up a memory that Felix actually needed?

That thought made the decision for him. Concentrating hard, Harry simply found the section of memory that he wanted removing, and he ordered Felix to forget it all. At first, he was worried that it wouldn’t work…until he saw Felix’s pearly grey eyes closing obediently, and then –

“What are you doing down there?” Felix asked rudely.

Harry almost laughed in relief. No trace of fear lingered in Felix’s gaze; once again his eyes were shrewd, unpleasant and challenging, and his tone as repugnant as ever. He was staring at Harry, nonplussed, but unafraid. It had worked. He, Harry Styles, had reached into someone’s mind and forced them to forget ten whole minutes of their life.

It was as horrifying as it was exhilarating.

Breathlessly, Harry gave a short laugh, and then forgot how to stop. Within the space of a minute or so, he was rolling around on the floor with his arms wrapped around himself, crying with laughter. Bright red in the face with tears rolling from the corners of his eyes and his stomach aching, he thought he might be sick, he was laughing so hard. Heat was flashing down his spine, moisture was dripping down his cheeks, his face hurt, he didn’t think the laughter lines from this explosion of mirth would ever fade out, and he was pretty sure his intestines were going to explode. His arms wound firmly around his torso as he shook with laughter, trying to hold himself together before shudders of amusement tore him apart. It felt amazing.

The door opened whilst Harry was still convulsing helplessly on the floor, and the stunned faces of his friends only made Harry laugh harder.

“What on earth is wrong with him?” Liam demanded.

Felix was appalled. “I think…I think he’s laughing.

There hadn’t been many reasons to laugh when they had all been captured, so understandably, none of the boys had ever seen Harry so incapacitated with mirth before. It turned out to be dangerously infectious; Niall was the first to give in, first smirking, and then letting out a small snigger, and suddenly he was writhing around on the floor screaming with laughter almost as much as Harry was, without even knowing what he was laughing at. That was one of the many loveable things about Niall: he could laugh at nothing just as easily as he could laugh at anything. Louis fell prey to the contagion of Harry’s amusement next: only a tiny twitch of his lower lip gave him away before he exploded, and before long he was bent double, hanging on to Zayn in order to hold himself up. Harry wasn’t having any of that; he grabbed Louis’ wrist and started attempting to drag him to the floor, and between choking gasps of laughter which were close to sobs, Niall clung to Louis’ ankles so that Louis staggered every time he attempted to move. When the two of them eventually floored him as a team effort, Louis collapsed on top of them – and in a mood like that, where everything was funny, Harry, Louis and Niall nearly died laughing. Liam thought they might all have heart attacks from laughing too much, or simply stop breathing because they couldn’t control their gasps of amusement.

“O-oh god,” Harry gasped, “somebody stop me! Please!” He clung to his stomach with one hand and punched the floor with the other, unable to control himself and having to release the laughter that was being restrained every time he breathed in or out.

“Kill me,” Niall begged, eyes streaming. “Kill me now!”

Louis was too helpless with laughter to even voice a plea for help; he opened his mouth to ask for assistance, and ended up howling instead as he gave up and slumped uselessly back to the floor. That was what did it for Zayn and Liam; giving up, they dropped to the ground as well, and soon they were all a mess of flailing limbs, tearstained eyes and red faces, curling up into balls to try and stop the laughter from breaking them apart.

“I can’t breathe!” Niall moaned.

“You’re all mad!” Felix shouted above their giggles. “Completely mad!”

“Definitely!” Louis agreed, and they all giggled at that as well, despite the fact that it wasn’t the slightest bit funny.

It soon occurred to Harry that they were only laughing because it was so funny to see each other crying with amusement over nothing at all. For them to stop laughing, everyone else would have to stop first. That was when Harry had a brilliant idea, one which he felt quite proud of. Seeing as Niall’s laugh was the loudest and most uncontrollable, he reached for Niall’s mind first, and found that it was as pleasant and cheerful as Niall himself. It took him a minute or so to find the part of Niall’s brain that controlled his laughter, and seeing as Niall was apparently incapable of stopping himself, Harry did it for him. Abruptly, Niall’s snorts cut off, and he paused in surprise as he found himself completely solemn all of a sudden. Harry replicated the feat for all of the other boys’ minds too, until all four of them sat in a confused, wobbly circle, no longer even the slightest bit amused. When they had all stopped, it was extremely easy for Harry to calm himself, too – and then there was silence.

Seconds ago, all five of them had been close to choking on their own laughter, lying uselessly on the floor with tears streaming down their faces, clutching their agonizingly cramped stomachs as they fought to control laughter that seemingly would never stop. Yet there they all were, serious and unblinking, looking quietly around at each other. Nobody spoke, which was practically unknown; even in sleep, Zayn had been known to mutter nonsense, and Harry’s snoring was notorious for keeping people awake. They had never been so silent before since meeting each other.

“What the hell just happened?” Louis demanded.

And Harry got ready to explain everything.

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