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…


30. Chapter thirty.

“We have to find him.” Louis wasn’t accepting any form of argument on the subject. Theywere going to find Harry, and if anyone disagreed with him he was simply going to give them the filthiest look he was capable of, and then ignore them. If that meant that he was going on his own, then so be it – he had no intention of wasting time arguing about it.

Luckily, nobody else seemed at all keen to argue with him, which meant that either he looked as crazed and desperate as he felt, or they were all as worried about Harry as he was. He suspected that it was a combination of the two. Fingers twitching as he struggled not to start creating force fields simply to dispel some nervous energy, he began striding up and down the room with his head in his hands, miraculously not walking into any of the furniture, and groaning as he tried to come up with some sort of a plan.

“Does anybody know where the hell they’ll be?” he demanded, whirling around to face them all. “That’s the most important thing. We’ll have to find them first.”

“That’ll take time,” Eithne said calmly. One of her hands was clinging to the fabric of Zayn’s coat, but otherwise she was completely reserved, on the outside at least. As a researcher, she knew what she was talking about. She’d been trying to track down supernatural beings for almost a year, and in the end had happened upon them by accident in the supermarket. On the whole, people with what might be described as superpowers usually weren’t all that keen to be found, and they did a far better job of hiding themselves than most people did. “Time, research, and an awful lot of digging, especially if Harry’s wiping the minds of everyone they meet.”

“We don’t have time!” Louis snapped, and she flinched, cringing into Zayn, who frowned at Louis and wrapped an arm around her waist. “They could be doing anything right now, and we wouldn’t have a clue! We have to find him now.

For the first time, Niall actually found himself taking charge of the situation. Liam was too dizzy and disorientated to be particularly helpful, Zayn was too busy cuddling Eithne, and Louis was too distraught. And Eithne’s voice was too soft for her to be a natural leader. Swallowing, Niall realized that as the only one with a clear head, it was up to him to take charge, and take charge he did – although it scared the hell out of him to do it.

Placing a hand on Louis’ shoulder, he told him, “That’s impossible, and you know it. Stop yelling at everyone and calm down, this isn’t going to help anyone.”

Wretchedly, Louis snatched away from him and demanded, “What do we do, then, genius? Because I told that boy I hated him, and I love him, and I am not leaving him to die, or to think that I hate him, because I don’t, alright? I love him more than I’ve ever loved anything in my whole life, and I was too blind to see it! And now that I’ve woken up, I know he isn’t putting words into my mouth, he never was – erasing was all he ever did, and I said the most disgusting things to him…I need to apologise, and I’ll never stop, and we need to find him.

“I know we do,” answered Niall, “and that’s why we need a plan rather than to run around screaming at each other, agreed? And I think I might just have one.”

At his instruction, they all sat down on the sofa while he strode up and down the room, frowning thoughtfully. Louis automatically put a supportive arm around Liam’s shoulders, just for something to do while they watched the blond boy stride up and down the living room with his hands clasped behind his back, looking contemplative.  It was an expression which looked odd on his usually carefree face. Eventually, he turned to face them, looking determined.

“The way I see it, there’s one thing that we know about them – they’re determined to corner and capture us for some reason. And that’s something we can use against them.” Pleased with himself, Niall scanned them all and then said, “I think we should set a trap. One that they’ll be completely unable to resist, no matter how suspicious it is.”

 “That would be great,” said Zayn bitterly, “but they’re not stupid, Niall. Not that stupid, anyway. I don’t think that’s even possible.” They had learnt rather quickly that optimism was somewhat of an alien concept to Zayn, especially when he was tired, hungry, or some combination thereof – which right now, he was. “It’ll never work; whatever we do, they’re never going to fall for it.”

Looking almost insulted, Niall reminded him, “You don’t even know what my plan is yet! Basically, it’s like this: they want us, maybe even need us for obscure reason. Which means that if they have a chance to find us, they’re going to come running. When you think about it, Harry was our most valuable asset, and they came after us anyway, even with him. He can control people’s minds, for God’s sake, and they were desperate enough to come after him anyway. Now that we haven’t got him on our side, and they have, no matter what his motives, they’re going to be far more confident. The tables have been turned; they can control our minds rather than the other way around, providing that he consents to that. There’s no guarantee that he will, but they don’t know that. They’re going to think they can get us easily. They might be right, but the point is that they’ll be far likelier to think they can win if they have him and we don’t. He’s the ace card. He’s everybody’s not-so-secret weapon.”

Yes, they needed Harry! That was something Louis had always known, and having it pointed out that they all needed Harry, and not just because he was their best friend and because Louis loved him and he’d never said…well, it did strange things to his insides. Twisting  them into knots, mostly. They needed Harry, and they would all risk their lives for him – he was not only their best friend, but their main lifeline. It made Louis a little uncomfortable to think that one of their reasons for being so determined to rescue him was that they needed him. “And your point is?”

“My point,” Niall said doggedly, “is that no matter how obvious we are about it, if they find out where we are, they’ll come for us. And even if they don’t bring him with them, they’ll take us somewhere, right? To hold us. And Harry will probably be there with them, so that he can restrain us in some way, or pick our brains for information, or whatever it is that they need him for. Which means that whatever happens, we’re going to find him, right?”

There was a short silence as they all considered that, realizing that Niall was right, and noticing the excited but slightly worrying glint in his eye. It was an unfamiliar look to them; nobody had ever seen Niall look like that before, and yet the meaning behind it was inherently clear: he was plotting something, and it was going to be risky, poorly thought out and probably dangerous – Niall’s plans usually were. Yet already Louis knew that if the idea was even faintly plausible, he would jump at the suggestion even if nobody else would.

“What we need,” continued Niall, “is something completely obvious. Because if there’s the tiniest loophole that the press could use to say that it’s a hoax, they might not come.”

Zayn was looking incredibly wary, his eyes narrowed, lips pursed as if he was already intending to refuse Niall’s plan the moment it had left his lips. With the way Niall was setting himself up, hinting at a scheme that would be incredibly likely to backfire, Louis couldn’t blame him. “So what are you saying?” asked Zayn.

“I’m saying that one of us is going to have to show himself,” responded Niall calmly, steadily meeting his gaze. “One of us is going to have to go out there and give London the most undeniable and obvious display of supernatural occurrences it’s ever seen. And not get caught by the wrong people.”

They all stared at him in abject horror at the mere implications of what he was suggesting – Liam actually closed his eyes and fell back on the sofa with the subsequent rush of images that came with that idea. However, Louis knew that the same insanity sparkling in Niall’s eyes was infectious; he could feel his own eyes lighting up with it while an enormous smile spread across his face. The boy was a genius. It was the most stupid, risky, reckless, idiotic plan he’d ever heard anyone come up with in his life.

It couldn’t possibly fail.



 “Are you ready, Nialler?”

Shivering a little in the skimpy little wetsuit he was wearing, arms wrapped around himself, Niall nodded tightly, not really in the mood for chatter. Reluctantly, he’d admitted that in order to achieve the full effect of what they were about to do, he would have to be clearly distinguishable as a human being, meaning that rather than wearing the baggy shirt and Chinos that he’d been wearing over the top of the rather embarrassing lycra monstrosity that he was now standing around in, he was wearing a skin-tight suit which showed the outline of everything. Not that he was ashamed of his body, not one bit, but it was kind of embarrassing all the same.

His hair was blowing gently in the wind, ruffling softly with the breeze, and he looked nervous. It was understandable, really, given what he was about to do. Every single one of the boys had patted him on the shoulder every now and then in reassurance, but it was Liam who would slide around the other boys every couple of minutes and whisper in Niall’s ear that it was all going to work; he could see it perfectly. Everything was going to go without a hitch.

That didn’t really stop Niall from worrying about it, though.

“Okay, Zayn, you go and stand beside him,” commanded Louis, and Zayn released Eithne and crossed the alleyway to go and take his place next to Niall. He thumped him on the back to try and make him feel better, and Niall gave a very sickly smile – he was quite literally putting his life in Zayn’s hands. If it all went wrong, he was pretty sure the others would reserve the right to break Zayn’s legs in recompense, but the thought didn’t make him feel much better.

“Don’t drop me, Malik,” he warned, his blue-green eyes stern as they bored into Zayn’s. Zayn swallowed; he didn’t much like the trust that they were all having to put in him in the first place, and Niall pointing out so blatantly that he was entrusting his life to him…well, they’d done it before, but either by accident or in an emergency, when there hadn’t been much time to think about it. Today, Niall had been given plenty of opportunity to think of all the nasty things which could happen to him if things didn’t go according to plan, and he didn’t like them at all.

With a jerky nod, Zayn wiped his clammy hands on his jeans, then stepped back and closed his eyes. It took him a few seconds to regain his composure, but once he had, he was fairly confident that things would go without a hitch. After all, he’d lifted a whole room full of people once! Niall was just one skinny little Irish boy – he could do it easily. With this mindset, he forgot his reservations, and almost before he was aware of thinking of it, Niall was shooting up into the sky like a cork out of a champagne bottle.

The only good thing about the suddenness with which the ground vanished from beneath Niall’s feet, and he was catapulted straight up into the air at a speed which took his breath away, was that he panicked instantly, as any sane person would. This meant that rather than having to consciously think about setting himself on fire, he did it instantly, little tongues of flame erupting all over his body and then enveloping him completely, until he was nothing but a human ember floating in mid-air and wildly kicking his legs, flailing his arms. He’d decided that he didn’t like this plan at all, even though it  had been his idea, especially as there was no reassuring force field around him to stop him from being smashed to bits on the pavement if for some reason Zayn dropped him. The reasoning behind that had been that the lilac lights of the bubble might have impaired people’s view of him, and Louis was stood below him ready to put a field around him if he fell – but Niall was distinctly uncomfortable hovering at some ridiculous height a good few metres taller than Big Ben, which he could see on the other side of London and which was currently lower than he was in height. He kept instinctively trying to put his feet down, like he was in a swimming pool, and then stumbling when there was nowhere to place his feet. The effort of not looking down had him gritting his teeth forcefully to stop himself.

Somewhere far below him, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of violet; one of Louis’ fields, which had been their agreed signal if Niall wasn’t being obvious enough. Stomach churning, he carefully spread his arms and legs out as if he’d been caught halfway through a star jump, loathing the way that the wind was whipping the flames around him similarly to how it had played with his hair.

Once he’d decided that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t in severe danger of plummeting to his death every time he moved, he relaxed slightly, and started focusing on showing distinctly how human-shaped he was. Stretching, looking around – he even tried walking, but his feet kept sinking several feet before finding some kind of invisible purchase, so that with every step he took there was a little drop and his stomach was snatched out of him through his throat, so he gave up on that idea.

He blazed brightly above London, a man set on fire, and wondered what he must look like to all the people below – incredible, probably. Like some kind of impossible miracle. It was dark, meaning that he was painting flames against a jet black backdrop. Only the stars helped him to illuminate the sky, and beside him, they looked like fairy-lights next to the sun. Pathetically insignificant. Niall would have been kind of lying if he’d said he wasn’t kind of enjoying the thought that he was the most beautiful and impressive thing in the sky.

They’d agreed to leave him up there until there was some kind of disturbance below, and that disturbance came in the form of a flock of distant flashes scattered all over London, catching his eye with each one like a shower of silver in the streets below that he couldn’t help but see. Below his feet, although thankfully nowhere near the boys who were keeping him in the air, people were filming, taking photographs, getting concrete proof that there was a boy on fire floating in the sky. Grimly, Niall smiled to himself. Nobody would be able to resist this – every journalist in the city would be after them, people would be trying to seek him out…but most of all, Cheren, Felix, Deino and Harry would come running, and then they would have what they wanted.

Of course, there was the small matter of how on earth they were going to persuade Harry to come with them and escape from all of that, but Niall was sure they’d think of something later. If not, they could always improvise on the day. Besides, Harry wouldn’t be too difficult to persuade; Louis would be good at that.

A particularly vicious gust of wind had Niall flinching, and then he almost tripped over his own feet, struggling to stay upright. He’d never been shy about his language, and his colourful vocabulary burst out of him like a word-rainbow as he swore venomously in a panic. The flames leapt a few inches higher, blurring the edges of his form against the sky, and he valiantly attempted to dampen them down a little so that he would still be easily distinguishable as a human being.

The distant sound of swearing drifted down to them on the wind, and they’d all seen Niall stumble. Glancing at Louis, Zayn tilted his head to the left, and Louis nodded curtly – with that, Zayn was bringing Niall dropping down from the sky, yelling all the while in protest at the speed – when he was at around the height of the nearest house, Louis snapped a force field around him, and Zayn made the speed a little more controlled, less showy: Niall’s bare feet alighted on the pavement in utter relief, the flames going out at his command, and he staggered a little as he tried to get used to the sensation of having ground beneath his feet again.

The wetsuit was badly charred, reduced to blackened fabric clinging to his body, but surprisingly it wasn’t in rags around him; it had survived the burning extremely well. Still, Niall sensed that when he tried to take it off, he was going to be peeling cinders off his skin.

Louis went to pat him, but hastily veered away; the suit was still smoking, ridiculously hot, although of course Niall barely even felt it. Instead, Louis grinned at him and applauded in approval; it was the first time since Harry’s disappearance that he’d managed a sincere smile which hadn’t been tinged with slight madness and intentions to carry out an extremely risky plan.

“How’d it go?” he asked, as Niall started tearing bits of burnt lycra off him. The wetsuit now smelt like the brakes of a car that had tried to stop too quickly; the distinctive reek of burning rubber, and the sour smell made them all wrinkle their noses in distaste.

Niall shrugged as he ripped off the majority of the ruined torso of the suit, accepted his t-shirt off Liam and pulled it over his head, feeling far more comfortable with loose grey fabric billowing around him rather than having ashes clinging to his skin. “Pretty sure the press will have a field day; there were hundreds of camera flashes going off down there. I don’t know how the hell people have got that many cameras close to hand, unless they’re all tourists. Anyway, they’ll all be scrambling to sell their pictures to the papers; they probably got some good ones.”

“So you think they definitely saw you, then?” demanded Louis anxiously. His rudeness would have been annoying, bearing in mind that Niall was still trying to catch his breath after being levitated hundreds of feet into the air above London, but they all understood his urgency.

With a snort, Niall asked dryly, “Who didn’t see me? I made it obvious enough. I’m a human being, I was on fire, and I’m pretty sure you’d have had to be blind not to see that, unless you weren’t looking. And trust me, plenty of people were.” He turned away to finish peeling shreds of the suit off his inner thighs, and then Liam helpfully passed him a pair of boxers and his Chinos, which he quickly shoved on along with a pair of Louis’ espadrilles which didn’t fit very well, but were fast and easy to put on. Once he was dressed, Niall turned around and promised, “listen, boys, I saw a load of camera flashes whilst I was up there. Someone will have seen. Right now, crowds of people will be rushing to see where I came down. So I have a suggestion to make – another one – and I think we’d better do it. It’s a lot better than the first plan.”

Amusedly, Eithne spoke for the first time, removing her hands from her eyes (as the only girl, she’d felt it only right to cover them while Niall stripped) and asking with sparkling eyes, “Run?”

Meeting her gaze, Niall grinned and nodded. “Run,” he agreed amicably.

They all set off at a pace that their PE teachers back in high school would have been proud of, haring around the first corner and running straight back the way they had come. Every few seconds Louis would cast a fearful glance over their shoulder in case they were being chased, but no mob of camera-waving people was hot on their heels, and eventually he diverted all of his energy into putting on an extra burst of speed so that he couldn’t be left behind. He staggered in Niall’s shoes; they’d swapped so that Niall would have something easy to slip on for their quick getaway, but the blond boy’s feet were too big, and Louis’ shoes were too small, so that his shoes pinched Niall’s feet and Niall’s shoes were so big that he could barely keep them on.

He couldn’t keep them on, in fact; one shoe fell straight off his foot and onto the pavement, and he didn’t bother stopping to get it back. He was afraid to stop even for a moment, to slow them all down. Besides, they had more shoes at home; his bare foot slapped repeatedly on the pavement, and he hoped to god that there wouldn’t be dog poo or used drug needles lurking on the ground for him to tread on.

His shoe lay where it had fallen, the only lonely trace that they had ever been there.

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