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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38. Chapter thirtyeight.

It hurt to open his eyes, because the harsh fluorescent lighting gave him a headache at the best of times, let alone when he’d just resurfaced from a forced sleep that had kept him under for god knows how long. But Louis was nothing if not determined, and so he forced himself into a sitting position and scanned the room with his heart in his mouth; he could feel it fluttering at the back of his throat, and it made him want to be sick. He desperately took in the scene.

Liam was sitting in the plastic chair beside Harry’s bed with his face buried in his hands. Niall looked hollow-eyed and hungry, and Zayn and Eithne were both sat on the floor in the corner, Eithne sat on Zayn’s knee while he played with her hair, his mouth drawn into a pout. Harry was propped up in bed staring up at the ceiling, his green eyes clouded with thought, like he was seeing something completely different from the rest of them.

The moment it dawned on him that he had been the last to wake up, Louis was swinging his legs over the side of his own bed almost angrily, furious that no one had shaken him to try and bring him back to consciousness. He staggered when his bare feet hit the floor; he got the feeling that he hadn’t stood up for a while.

Everyone’s heads snapped up to stare at him, but Louis barely noticed. He grabbed hold of his own bed, then Harry’s, and the moment he was close enough, hurriedly sat down on the bed. It creaked in protest, but Louis barely even noticed; he was too busy anxiously poring over Harry’s face. Once he managed to ascertain that Harry was indeed alive, if a little unresponsive, he had to decided whether he should close his eyes and hide his tears of relief, or whether he was too desperate to keep looking at Harry to care. Deciding upon the second option, he squeezed Harry’s hand, kissed him lightly on the cheek, and waited for a response.

None came; Harry didn’t so much as twitch. His eyes roved over the ceiling, unseeing, and passed over Louis’ face without a flicker of recognition. Louis bit down so hard on his lower lip that he was surprised it didn’t start bleeding.

“You won’t get anything out of him; don’t take him personally,” Liam said wearily. His voice sounded rough and scratchy. “He’s pretty much catatonic. I don’t know what they gave him, or how it’s different to what they gave the rest of us, but it’s ridiculously strong. I don’t think he even knows we’re here.”

Louis was horrified, but the empty look in Liam’s eyes was almost more frightening to him than Harry’s sudden loss of lucidity. “What’s wrong, Liam? Why…why do you look like that? Where are we? What did they do?”

Liam rubbed his eyes exhaustedly. “They’ve taken our powers away,” he explained dully.

There was a horrible silence where Louis tried to disprove that statement by flexing his fingers, and discovered that no force field bubbled there. He shook his head in utter disbelief, tried again, and then, stricken, looked up at Liam. There were times when he’d cursed his powers and wished he could give them back, but the idea that what once had been his wish had been granted…

“They can’t have.”

“Well I defy you to make a field.”

“I –”

“You can’t, I know. Just like I can’t see the future, Zayn can’t levitate, Niall can’t set himself on fire. No matter how hard you try, it won’t work. We’ve been doing everything we can ever since we woke up, but nothing works, Louis. I don’t know how the hell they did it, but they took our powers.” Liam looked weary, defeated, like the loss of his future vision had sapped him of all of his energy.

Several calming breaths, a good couple of minutes and some seriously aching fingers later, Louis had to admit that Liam was right.

“What about Harry?”

“Well, as you can see, he’s awake, but he isn’t reacting to any kind of stimulus, verbal or whatever. He’s here, but not here. By all intents and purposes, he should be awake, but…” Liam shrugged. “I don’t know whether it’s a defence mechanism his body has done to itself or whether it’s been induced, but we can’t reach him. We’ve been trying for long enough.”

Louis leaned in and pressed his forehead against Harry’s; kissed him on the tip of his nose, stroked his curls. Harry blinked at him, but his expression stayed the same, and it made Louis feel uneasy.

“Can you hear me, Harry?”

When he received no response, he started trailing kisses down Harry’s cheekbones, onto his jaw, along his neck. By the time he’d pushed back the ugly material of the hospital gown Harry was swaddled in, Louis was beginning to lose hope – until he felt the tiniest, lightest of squeezes on his hand; Harry’s fingers had fluttered infinitesimally and he had managed a faint squeeze to communicate to Louis that he was actually sentient, he could indeed hear him.

“Oh, God.” The noise that ripped its way out of Louis’ throat could barely be recognized as words, but by the time he’d buried his face into the blue and green patterned gown, he was beyond caring that he sounded like an incoherent idiot. Still hanging on to Harry’s hand, he allowed a couple of embarrassing tears to plop onto the gown and hid his face in the younger boy’s chest. Despite the fact that Harry was motionless, silent, and to all intents and purposes, helpless, Louis still felt ten times safer when he could feel Harry’s reassuring warmth radiating through him, the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. “Oh, God.”

Underneath him, Harry shuddered very lightly, and his fingers twitched again in a slightly firmer squeeze that made the other boys gape; nobody else had managed to trigger so much as an uneven breath from him, and yet he was quite clearly struggling to hold Louis’ hand. Something in his vague expression seemed to shift; perhaps his eyes shone a little brighter, or his forehead creased minutely into a frown. Whatever it was, the blank expression seemed to thaw slightly.

“I am so sorry, Harry. I’m so, so sorry. Does it – you’re not in pain, are you? Oh, God, Harry, I’m so glad you’re okay, I thought you were…” He moaned quietly at the very thought. “It’s okay, you don’t have to – as long as you’re okay. Don’t speak. Just…sort of squeeze my hand if you can hear me? If you can find it in you to forgive me…”

Of course, no response was forthcoming.

“I am an utter twat,” Louis told him, “and I don’t deserve anything from you except a punch. I have done terrible things…said things that no person should ever say…I can’t apologize enough for my actions, and I can’t justify them. It was completely unwarranted. You’d never force me to do anything! The only thing you made me do was realize that I am completely in love with you… the only fault I can find is that you didn’t make me discover that sooner, although that’s my doing, not yours. My own stupidity. Please, Harry, if you – oh, I just need to know you’re okay!” Louis swore softly in frustration. “You have no idea how much you mean to me.”

“We’re lying in a mysterious hospital having had god knows what unearthly crap pumped into us to suppress the powers that were thrust upon us in a similar way, and yet he still finds time for drama.”

The low, slightly cracked murmur that stole through the room made them all jump, although not so much as the quiet chuckle that followed it. Everyone held their breath, scarcely daring to believe that they had heard Harry’s voice, and Louis carefully raised his head off Harry’s chest, not bothering to dry his eyes.

“Harry?”

His lips barely moved as he spoke, words blurring together like he was drunk, as if he couldn’t summon enough energy to enunciate properly. “Don’t move away from me, you twat. I’ve had you out of my arms for long enough.”

Louis responded by hurling his arms around Harry’s neck and whispering into his ear so that nobody else could hear him, “I’m sorry.” Out of all his pleas, cries and desperate apologies, it was this small, shaky one that he meant the most.

“You’ve apologized enough,” whispered Harry faintly, “but I’m kind of a bit sore, so…if you could, um…maybe be a bit more careful with me for the time being –”

Horrified, Louis leapt back, remembered Harry’s request for him to stay close, and hesitated for a moment or so before he carefully crept up the bed and nestled underneath Harry’s arm, resting his head lightly on the other boy’s shoulder while he held one of his hands and stroked his knuckles with one thumb. “God, sor – um. I’m terrible at this. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“It wasn’t that bad. Just a bit tender, is all.” Pause. “Wait, what am I saying? I’m in absolute agony, practically screaming in pain; I need you to kiss me better. All over my body. It all hurts, you’re going to be kept rather busy.”

Louis choked a laugh and resisted the urge to punch him. “Idiot.”

“Yeah, but it’s a valid point…and once I actually do stop hurting, I’m expecting some kind of compensation for all of this. I like it rough.” Harry licked his lips suggestively and Louis watched with his mouth hanging open, mesmerized. “I want you to throw me up against a wall and –”

“Okay,” Zayn quickly interrupted, “this is cute and all, but please…the food here is crap, but I’d like to keep it down, and you guys are kind of making me want to vomit.”

“Please don’t vomit,” came an unfamiliar voice; “I can change dressings and stitch wounds with the best of them, but vomit is not in my job description.”

The woman in the doorway was wearing a nurse’s uniform and had her dark hair pinned into a no-nonsense bun, although her eyes were twinkling in a way that suggested she was in no way averse to mischief. Beside her was a man in a suit who could have been any age between late thirties and early fifties, but had a remarkable amount of hair for an older man, a thick moustache and was carrying both a stick and a briefcase. They all stared, and Louis forgot Harry’s warning and gripped him a lot harder than was necessary.

The two of them came bustling through the doorway, and whilst the nurse started checking dressings and tapping on Harry’s IV feed to make sure he was getting enough chemicals into his system, the man with the briefcase pulled up another plastic chair from the side of the room and stared intently at them all.

It started to get uncomfortable after a few minutes; Niall began fidgeting nervously underneath his scrutiny, and nobody else felt much better. When his stare lingered on Eithne for what Zayn seemed to think was too long, sparks seemed to fly between them with the fierceness of the glower Zayn was shooting in his direction. But the man didn’t seem to notice, or if he did, he didn’t particularly care.

“My apologies,” he said eventually. Having watched the nurse vacate the room, of course.

They all stared at him in utter confusion. Nobody really knew what they were expecting, but certainly an apology hadn’t been at the top of anybody’s list.

Examining the floor, he intoned, “I’m afraid that when I sent some of my associates after you, they were a little less delicate than perhaps was appropriate…”

“A little less delicate?” Louis spat. “They threw Harry down the stairs! They had us chasing around filthy alleyways trying to escape them; they would have killed Niall if Liam hadn’t had the foresight to stop them!”

“Yes, well. Reckless enthusiasm has always been somewhat of a family trait…my sons were always very eager to get their hands dirty, so as to speak…” An aghast silence met this revelation. “Perhaps I ought to start from the beginning. I represent a company experimenting in genetic modification, and we recently developed a chemical which we hoped to use to enhance people’s latent abilities and make them more exaggerated. Felix and Cheren were both very eager to trial the drug – a decision which they later regretted; administration was somewhat hit and miss at first, and there were a lot of problems – but once we’d refined the drug, we wished to see how it would affect certain test subjects. Deino was the first non-family member we recruited, but funds had been too substantially depleted for us to offer similar…um…recompense to any others. Thus the reason that we chose five healthy males of a similar age to test the substance on. The fact that the five of you are here right now is a testament to the project’s success.”

Louis’ lip curled. “You call that success? Disregarding the terror, the being chained to a wall, the emotional distress, the fact that Eithne got stabbed when she should have nothing to do with this and the fact that your son threw Harry down the stairs –”

The man pulled a face, as if he were thinking “so you’re still hung up over that, you really need to let it go” which did nothing to improve Louis’ temper.

“ – There’s also the small matter of the way Liam’s been left practically catatonic some nights because of the visions he’s been having, the way that Niall’s flammability means it’s dangerous to go near him half the time which could completely ruin his chances of relationships in the future and all the people Zayn threw around the room when he got drunk! Oh, and the way that Harry suffers from horrible mental breakdowns if his power gets used over capacity, so as to speak. Which, might I remind you, was another form of abuse your sons chose to subject him to!”

Having worked himself into a furious frenzy, Louis was quite literally shaking as he fought to keep his temper under control. He was gripping Harry’s arm so hard that it made Harry wince, but he simply squeezed Louis’ hand in return, sensing that Louis needed someone to hold before he lost it completely. Force fields or not, he was quite capable of violence of some kind; if he had to snatch the plastic chair Liam was sitting on from underneath him and bludgeon the irritatingly calm man over the head with it, he would, and quite willingly.

“Some of their methods were perhaps a little…unorthodox. But it was all part of the testing process! We needed to see what effects different circumstances, such as stress, would have on you. Bearing in mind that the others knew it was all simulated, it wouldn’t have worked as effectively on them.”

“It didn’t seem very simulated to me,” Liam said stiffly, massaging his temples.

“Well, clearly the situation escalated. Especially once you started being noticed. That little stunt with the fire above London? We’re still trying to contain the fallout from that one. News spreads like wildfire, especially amongst conspiracy theorists. Which was where you came in, Harry.” He nodded at the curly haired boy. “Damage control.”

Louis turned purple with suppressed rage. Harry, however, stayed calm. “Damage control,” he repeated.

The suited man nodded encouragingly. “We couldn’t have eyewitness accounts being sold to the papers, certain photos or videos leaked, specific bits of information bandied about…the most effective solution was to have you erase these things or their locations from people’s minds. We gave you a list to work from and orders on what to wipe; I’d have thought you’d have worked it out by yourself by now.” He raised an eyebrow, giving the impression that Harry had disappointed him. The hostility in the room grew more tangible; if it grew any stronger, it would be growing hands and viciously strangling the life out of the man in the way that they all so strongly desired to.

“Oh, sorry,” Harry said coolly, “I guess I was kind of busy slipping in and out of a coma.”

The ensuing silence was one of the most awkward Louis had ever encountered, and yet the man in the suit still had the audacity not to look even slightly abashed. It was safe to say that everyone in the room was thinking murderous thoughts at that precise moment in time.

“Well, yes, quite. The fact of the matter is that some of the more unpleasant side effects have been rather…unfortunate. Our research and observations all indicate the same thing: Harry, if you overuse your power, there will be nasty consequences. It pains me to say this, but they could be classed as…life threatening.”

Louis went white and froze beside Harry, absolutely horrified. Ashen but determined to remain calm, Harry patted his hand, nuzzled his cheek with the wild curls sticking messily out around his head like a halo, and then regarded the stranger before them. Despite the fact that his life was the one in danger, he was far calmer than Louis was.

“But you’ve taken our powers away,” Zayn observed, speaking for the first time so that they all jumped a little in surprise.

“And thus comes my next point. A proposition, if you will.” He rose out of his seat. Beginning to pace up and down with a contemplative expression, he continued, “Not long after the chemical was developed, we also managed to create a formula to reverse the effects – this is the formula we administered to you whilst you were unconscious. Apologies for the sleeping gas, by the way; I sensed that you would be uncooperative, and it was just easier for everyone. But I digress: currently, you’ve been given a dose which will render you incapable of using your powers for a short period of time…I’m estimating a few hours, at the most, before you can use them freely again. However, we are able to permanently disable them, should you wish. All it will take is a small inoculation, and then you’ll be…well, pardon the phrasing, but you’ll benormal again.”

Suspiciously, Louis narrowed his eyes and asked, “What’s the catch?”

“As I’m sure you’ll understand, this is a highly secret operation, and…to put it bluntly, it’s not exactly legal,” the man admitted. “We’ll be expecting anyone who receives the treatment to sign a contract agreeing to disclose nothing of your experiences over the past few months. You’ll be closely monitored to ensure that you uphold your part of the bargain.”

“No thanks,” Niall said abruptly. “It’s a pain, setting myself on fire every time I get freaked out, but I don’t want to be spied on. I’ll keep the powers, if it’s all the same to you. Maybe you gave them to me, but they’re mine now…I wouldn’t feel right without them. So thanks, but no thanks.”

The room rumbled with sounds of approval as the other boys nodded in agreement. Only Harry stayed silent, nibbling his lower lip – something which didn’t escape Louis’ notice.

Before he could question it, he was interrupted. “Now, don’t be so quick to refuse! I’m afraid that for one of you, it won’t be so simple. Now, should you choose to keep your powers, we have a facility in Sweden where we’ve been keeping other…patients” – guinea pigs, Louis thought disgustedly – “and we’d willingly transfer you there so that you can live undisturbed, away from members of the public to whom you could cause harm, and of course it would be far more private, because we wouldn’t feel the need to observe you. But the fact of the matter is that Harry doesn’t have a choice. We’ll be administering a full dose of the drug to you in due course,” he explained almost kindly.

Horrified, Harry stared at him. “What? Why do I not get a say in this? I have a choice too!”

“You’ve been proven incapable of distancing yourself from those who you have established a mental link with. Once your current dosage wears off, the link will come back, and regardless of whether you could let them go, any future usage of your powers would eventually trigger another episode. We’ve checked your brain activity during the mind links and it would be life threatening for you to continue, as well as being dangerous to your mental health. If you continue to use your powers, the only question will be that of which will give way under the strain first; your body, or your mind? Either the electrical impulses in your brain would overwhelm you and you’d become brain dead, or you’d be reduced to a gibbering wreck. I’m sorry,” he said, compassion colouring his tone for the first time as he rested a hand on Harry’s arm, “but you haven’t a choice. You will be given the drug, you will sign the contract, you will go home and say nothing of what happened here. Because if you don’t…you will die. It’s only a question of which part of you will die first.”

Harry sank back against the pillows, his face bone white and expressionless, but Louis could feel him trembling all over. The knowledge did him no good; he had no idea what to say, what to do. He felt as helpless as Harry did. Stupid, confused, like a foggy fist had seized his brain and wouldn’t let him think.

Their fingers were still interlocked, they were still pressed tightly together, and Louis knew full well that he wasn’t going to let go. No matter who tried to persuade him, or what they said, he had every intention of holding Harry’s hand until the day they died – and he didn’t plan for that to be any time soon, no matter what this man in the navy suit said!

“What if I refuse?”

“You’ll die.”

“I might not.”

“We’ve done the calculations. None of them are in your favour. You will die.”

“What if I don’t use my powers?”

“You know it doesn’t work like that. You can’t just switch them off! You will use them, intentionally or not, and the stress will build up, and it will become too much and you willendanger your life. I’m not saying this to be cruel. I’m telling it like it is. The others can all choose whether or not they lose or keep their powers, but you’re going to have to give them up.” He glanced over at where Eithne was huddled quietly in Zayn’s lap. “You’ll sign a contract, too,” he ordered, “and whatever research you’ve conducted from studying these boys will be destroyed. Is that understood?”

Her porcelain cheeks flushed pink and her eyes flashed dangerously; Eithne wasn’t one to be ordered about. But when one of Zayn’s hands comfortingly brushed her spine, she breathed out sharply, bowed her head, and nodded, hiding a furious expression behind her hair. “Yes.”

“Good,” came the brisk response. “Now, a choice must be made. Who will have the drug?”

Louis was shivering almost as much as Harry now. He still couldn’t quite get his head around what was happening. “Can we not have some time to think about it?” He asked hollowly. “To discuss…things? We have things that need to be sorted out, Harry and I. Without the boys? Without anyone?” He shot them all a pleading glance. “We need to talk. Privately. You know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”

He was answered with a swift nod. “You have an hour, and then you’re going to have to make your decision…I’m sorry to push you like this, but the arrangements have been made; things must be done. And please believe me when I say that I’m sorry it’s come to this.”

When he left the room, he was swiftly followed by Niall, who had an arm wrapped around his stomach (probably hungry), Liam, who had his arms wrapped around himself (he appeared to be giving himself a hug) and Eithne and Zayn, who had their arms wrapped around each other (pretty self-explanatory; they seemed to be pretty much inseparable now). They left Harry and Louis alone with their thoughts, but most importantly, each other.

First things first, thought Louis, and then he twisted around on the bed and pressed his lips against Harry’s, cautiously but firmly.

It wasn’t their first kiss, nor the first that Louis had initiated, but it was the first of which he could be completely certain was of his own volition, and he was determined to enjoy it. His fingers slipped into Harry’s curls, sifting through them, grabbing greedy handfuls, and he coaxed carefully coaxed his way deeper into Harry’s mouth, the tip of his nose pressing against Harry’s cheek, his fingers lost in a tangled mess of curls, his eyes tightly closed.

Something in that kiss made his stomach ache. Something in it tied his intestines in knots and caused his throat to ache horribly, something in it felt like it was impatiently scratching away at his insides. And even as his heart pounded against the inside of his chest, he was painfully aware that all good things must come to an end, kisses included, and once this one did so they were going to have to talk, and make awful decisions, and he was completely sure that he didn’t want to.

 Harry pulled away first, gently reaching up and disentangling Louis’ fingers from his curls. Sitting back a little, with just-tumbled-out-of-bed hair, a swollen mouth, pricking eyes and a churning stomach, Louis felt more than a little self-conscious – that is, until one of Harry’s long-fingered hands cupped around his jaw, caressing his cheek, stroking down his face, and the I love you shining in his eyes might as well have been a scream into a megaphone, because it was the loudest thing Louis had ever heard.

He wanted to lose himself in Harry’s eyes, his thick hair, the warmth of his mouth, the feel of his hands. Almost desperately, he moved forwards again, touching their eager mouths together, and something sparked between their lips as they began another kiss, this one heated. The first had been a reminder, a greeting, almost – their own way of finally reconciling. It had been something soft, something special, something tender. This kiss was still incredible, but it had underlying tones of lust, of the frustration Louis had been having for weeks that he needed to take the edge off, and if he couldn’t start punching anyone, he might as well do it this way instead. Harry was holding his face and his lips felt silky and yet hard against Louis’ own, and their foreheads were pressing together and noses aligned and oh, Harry smelt a little like disinfectant and a lot like Harry, and Louis wanted it. Wanted him.Wanted all of him.

“Louis, we need to talk,” Harry murmured against the corner of his mouth.

“I don’t want to talk. Talking means decisions, and that’s not something I’m good at. Let’s just do this.” Louis tugged gently at Harry’s bottom lip, which he’d caught between his teeth, to illustrate his point.

“As if I wouldn’t gladly do just that! You think I don’t want you to? You think just the fact that you’re here makes me want to say ‘fuck all of them’ and just spend the rest of our lives here in this room? And never let anyone else in? Because I can’t think of anything I’d like more, but we only have an hour to decide what the whole rest of our lives will be like, and whether we’ll still have each other in them. Sixty minutes, Louis! That’s all we get. Probably less, now.” Breathing out with a shudder, Harry wriggled backwards and pressed his back against the headboard, whilst Louis fiddled with the scratchy hospital duvet and didn’t quite meet his eye, because he didn’t know if he would be able to contain himself if he caught so much as a flicker of that grass and emerald green. He reached out and took Louis’ hands again; they were far smaller, almost seeming to be lost in Harry’s own. “Let’s talk.”

“Okay,” Louis agreed quietly, and he forced himself to look Harry right in those devastating liquid green eyes, taking in every inch of the boy he was determined that no matter what, he was going to spend the rest of his life with. His thumb skittered down the back of Harry’s hand, shaking too hard to be the smooth, soothing stroke he had intended for it to be. “Let’s talk.”

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