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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35. Chapter thirtyfive.

“Where the hell did they go?”

Zayn was on his feet almost as soon as he knew there was something for him to stand on, and his head whipped back and forth as he frantically searched for any sign of the twins, who didn’t seem to be anywhere. Nowhere that he could see, anyway. Grimacing, he dropped to his knees, held out his hand and helped Eithne to her feet, because it felt like the sort of thing one should do in these situations. Chivalry wasn’t entirely dead, after all – it would only die if you let it. And Zayn favoured the old fashioned ways; opening doors for girls, lending his jacket to them when it was cold, kissing them in the rain, ladies first, all of that stuff.

She squeezed his fingers so hard he thought they might break, and her hands were freezing cold and clammy. Her whole face was completely drained of colour, and she was still shaking. Hastily, Zayn put his arm around her to hold her up, but he didn’t like the look of the nasty cut that she’d somehow acquired on one cheek, didn’t much like any form of injury, especially ones that involved blood, so he averted his gaze. She looked awful, but he wasn’t about to tell her so.

Apparently, either Niall could no more put etiquette into use than Liam could spell it, or he’d just forsaken it as a waste of time, because he sat bolt upright, his mouth hanging open in surprise, and tactlessly blurted out, “Wow, you look like shit.”

“Cheers for that, Niall. Just what I wanted to hear; thank you so much.” She looked like a flimsy puppet being held up by nothing but a couple of weak strings and Zayn’s supportive arm, but he decided that her retention of her ability to use sarcasm was a good sign. 

Louis picked himself up off the floor, dusting his knees down and glancing around him, looking for Cheren and Felix with his forehead creased into a frown. “Where’s Tweedledum and Tweedledumber?”

“God knows. Not here, which I’m going to say is a good thing.”

“Yeah, but neither is Harry, and we only came here for him – there’s no sign of him anywhere, which I’m going to say is not a good thing.” He was quite literally twitching in his desperation to find Harry, to touch him, hold him, maybe even just look at him, and it was a little unnerving to see his almost spasmodic little twitches, especially when witnessed out of the corner of your eye.

“Well, they were hardly going to have him propped up in the hallway like the bad guys’ equivalent of an umbrella stand, were they? He’ll be around here somewhere, just out of sight. Use your head, Louis.” 

“How can I? How can I use my head, Zayn, when he’s all that’s in it? You tell me that!” His voice cracked, but he pretended not to notice or care. “I wake up, and he’s in my mind. I’m drifting off to sleep, and he’s still there. He’s even in my dreams – just his voice, sometimes; his laugh, him murmuring in my ear, or I feel him touching me…I’m going insane, he’s all I can think about, and I haven’t a clue where he is or how he is or whether or not he hates me, which by all rights he should. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I seem a little fractious!” Louis yelled.

“Keep your voice down!”

“Why bother? They know where we are.”

“Stop arguing with me. I don’t want to pick a fight with you, Louis; not here, not now. We need to find out what they’re up to, and yelling at each other like three year olds won’t help. Liam, are you getting anything?” Zayn turned on him, only to find Liam curled up on the floor twitching even more than Louis, his eyes shut, fingers pressed against his temples, struggling with some kind of internal dilemma. His lips were pressed so tightly together in a sharp white line that for a moment Zayn thought someone might have superglued his mouth shut.

“Divide and conquer,” he muttered nonsensically, and before anyone could interrupt, he held up a hand to indicate that they should shut up. “They’ll work to split us up, one by one, so they can deal with us easier. Deino’s lurking in some of the outer corridors, waiting to ambush us…Felix is somewhere near the middle, but he keeps walking through walls, it’s wrecking my head! God knows where he’ll be in ten minutes; he’s flitting from room to room like a butterfly. Cheren is a couple of corridors away, waiting for us to catch up…” Liam groaned. “My head –”

Unfortunately, Louis wasn’t in a particularly sympathetic mood; leaping forwards, he grabbed Liam by the shoulders and shook him a little, but Liam was a lot more fragile than he looked – so many sleepless nights and horrific visions had taken their toll. He was clumsy and a little bit weak, and therefore Louis underestimated his own strength and shook Liam like a rag doll; he could have sworn he heard something rattling around inside his friend’s head. Too stressed to be regretful, he demanded, “And Harry? Where’s Harry?”

Liam whimpered and slapped at him, and Niall hurriedly rushed forwards and bravely attempted to prise Louis off, peeling his hands away from Liam’s biceps a lot like you pick off a plaster; slowly, carefully, and with immense difficulty. “I don’t…I don’t…yeah, there’s something…a room, and a paper…tears falling, it’s all a mess, I can’t read the words…he’s got a glass of water next to him but his hands are shaking too much to pick it up…can’t pick it up…he’s crying, he can’t see, so many tears, can’t wipe them away…shit!” Liam gasped, and he staggered so that Louis stopped trying to shake him and hurriedly focused on holding him upright instead. “It’s all too much, and it hurts, and he’s crying because he can’t do anything else, and breathing hurts –”

Louis was wide-eyed with panic, feeling himself tremble at the very thought of it all. He could picture it all so clearly; Harry crying out, shuddering in agony, his whole body convulsing, believing that nobody was coming for him….his long-fingered hands shaking over the paper that he could barely see through his tear-blurred vision…his blood running cold and slow while the rest of his body burned, searing with pain through every inch of him…

“Where, Liam?” he demanded impatiently. “Where?”

Liam stirred slightly beneath Louis’ harshly gripping hands, fingers like claws digging into his skin, while Liam’s expression stayed infuriatingly blank, eyes unfocused. His lips moved as he murmured under his breath to himself, partaking in conversations he could see unfolding right in front of him. His mind was too entangled in the threads of the future to be of any help to them in the present. If Louis hadn’t known exactly what was wrong with him, he could have been forgiven for thinking that Liam had been drugged.

He didn’t have time to indulge Liam’s dreamy trances now. Raising his hand, he slapped Liam hard across the face, so that the whole room echoed with the dull smack of skin on skin, and the younger boy’s head jerked satisfyingly as he hissed in pain, jolting back to awareness with his brown eyes filling with irritation and comprehension.

“Ow!” he said indignantly.

“Where?” Louis growled.

“A room…somewhere near the centre of the building…the door is locked, but it’s not a very good door; it wouldn’t be too hard to break it down…He’s almost lying on the desk now, he needs to sleep, but it hurts too much, he’ll never rest with this pounding in his head –”

“Which room? I don’t care about the furniture, for crying out loud, and it’s no use telling me how hurt he is if I can’t find him to make it stop – I need details Liam!”

Losing his temper, Liam snapped, “I don’t know. What do you want from me, a map? I’m not a sat-nav, Louis; I’m Liam, and I’m trying to help you out here, but the more orders you bark at me, the harder it is to see, and I don’t get to pick and choose the details, so quit asking me questions! I’m telling you all I know! Everything I see is coming out of my mouth right now, so it’d probably be in your best interests to shut up.” Eyes fluttering closed, Liam stood still, chest heaving like he’d run a marathon, and Louis fell reluctantly silent, awaiting more agonizing information about the excruciating agony Harry was in that hit him like a kick in the balls with every syllable that Liam forced out of his mouth.

The next person to make a noise was not Louis, but Eithne, and the sound she made was not a demand, but a sob.

She crumpled underneath Zayn’s touch like a paper doll, white and frail and easily torn, and the sound she made ripped from her throat like tearing paper, too, as she closed her eyes and staggered against him. Instinctively, he caught her, but he wasn’t fully there; as far as he was concerned, it was all some kind of horrible dream. 

At least, that was how he felt until the enormous scarlet hoodie rode up and exposed the pale grey polo shirt she wore underneath it, and the horrible deep red stain that was splodged like scarlet ink over her stomach. He laid her carefully down on the floor like a child’s toy, dropped to his knees and his hands fluttered uselessly over her, but he was caught in a horrible, deathly kind of calm; this wasn’t happening to him, how stupid, his girlfriend hadn’t just been stabbed, that never happened to people really, well, it did, but he wasn’t people, he was him, just Zayn Malik from Bradford and this was all completely ridiculous, who on earth went round stabbing people these days, it wasn’t real, it wasn’t real, it wasn’t real –

He could have believed that she’d tipped a glass of red wine all over herself if he hadn’t known that there was no way she could have gotten any, if he hadn’t seen her shocked expression and the little ‘o’ of surprise that her mouth had stiffened into as her hand fluttered towards her side and the wound that she’d been valiantly pretending wasn’t there for the past five or ten minutes.

Forgetting her modesty, forgetting their horrified audience, forgetting everything, Zayn yanked the shirt upwards and peeled it away from her sticky skin, and found himself struggling not to lose the contents of his stomach to the floor at the sight of the horrific hole in the skin just above her hip, puncturing the slight curve of her stomach. An actual gaping hole, and the skin around it was sticky, painted with red like an angry child had splattered poster paints all over her belly –

But it wasn’t paint, and the truth of the matter was that Eithne had a fucking great hole in her, and Zayn didn’t have a clue what the hell he was supposed to do about that. 

He settled for ripping out the lining of the left hand pocket of his jeans (he couldn’t have ripped any other part of his clothes anyway, this wasn’t a shitty movie and clothing fibres were stronger than they looked) and wishing it was cleaner, and then bunching it up and hurriedly pressing it against the awful hole to try and staunch some of the bleeding. It felt kind of like he was cramming the blood back inside her, which made his head spin a little less, anyway, and he remembered a teacher or a first aider or someone on a TV show once saying that you were supposed to apply pressure to a wound for some reason, so he did that, and he pushed. 

She whimpered in response, and he swore, because he was hurting her and he didn’t mean to and God, he’d messed this up, he messed everything up, this was just another rather consequential thing to add to his list of things he’d messed up, and he was a shit boyfriend and just an all-around shit guy, really, and what was he supposed to do, he didn’t have a clue about people getting stabbed and this was all nuts and if she died he was going to – God, no, don’t say that, she isn’t going to die, see, I’m so fucking stupid –

And he’d thought that he’d kept all of that horrible paranoia locked up safely in his head to torture him and him alone, and keep well away from everyone else so that they weren’t poisoned by his panic, but apparently he’d said it out loud and spilled out the whirling contents of his head in front of them, because she shakily reached up and laid a finger over his mouth to shut him up, and his cheeks burned, because he’d let his mouth run away with him as always. And he was wasting time being embarrassed for himself when she was bleeding to death on the floor…

Make her laugh, he told himself. Girls like a funny guy. And if she laughed then maybe it would make even more blood gush out, make her die faster, her life ebb away quicker, but he couldn’t just let her lie there gasping raggedly and struggling to keep him calm when that was supposed to be his job, so he forced himself to say something, anything, as long as it was funny. Laughter is the best medicine.

“Babe,” he said helplessly, stroking her hair, “babe…you’re bleeding all over the floor, babe, you’re gonna have to stop that, because you’re making a right mess and someone’s gonna have to clear that up –”

She choked, eyes fluttering closed, and for a horrible moment he thought he’d killed her, until they opened again, pain clouding the usually clear blue, and he realized that the horrible gurgling noises she was making were laughter. “Yeah, sorry about that. Looks like you’re going to have to get some rubber gloves and a mop and wipe it all up later…”

“Nah, not me. Do these look like hands that scrub floors?” He held up one of his shaking hands for her to see, and imagined that she was admiring the smooth, unbitten crescents of his nails, the lack of scars or marks, the smooth skin that stretched over his knuckles. “Louis can do it. It’s about time the princess got down on his knees and put his backside into something other than Harry’s lap, am I right or am I right?”

“Charming,” Louis snorted, and suddenly he was beside them, crouching on his knees on the opposite side of Eithne, his hand rubbing up and down one of her arms to try and warm her up a bit; there were goosebumps littered all over her skin as the warmth ebbed out of her at the same frightening speed as her blood. “I haven’t put my arse anywhere near Harry yet, more’s the pity. Ah well, there’s still time…” He provoked another short wheeze of laughter from Eithne, gave her a comforting smile, and then anxiously glanced at Zayn. “She’s freezing,” he whispered, “and she’s losing blood fast. We need to get her to a hospital or something.”

“I’ve been putting pressure on it –”

“Yeah, and that’s great, but she’s still losing a serious amount of blood, Zayn; she won’t last more than twenty minutes at the most, not at this rate. Besides, look at her – she’s drifting in and out of consciousness like a yo-yo; she can’t hold out for much longer. She might be a fighter, but that’s a serious wound she’s got there.” He protectively brushed Eithne’s hair off her forehead and then checked her pulse, and Zayn was panicking so hard that he forgot to be irrationally jealous of the gay man whose mother had worked in a hospital and knew what he was talking about, who usually wouldn’t have so much as brushed past Eithne in the hallway without having his arm ripped off by a jealous Zayn. “Eithne, honey, stay with us. Come on, don’t fall asleep now – you can’t leave me on my own with this twat, that’s not fair.”

A hoarse giggle greeted his words, and she sounded like a dying old woman, each breath rattling like a coin inside a tin can; they all winced at the noise. “Not…leaving you alone…with him…Liam and Niall are here…you’re a big boy, I’m sure you can…deal…” 

“Nice to see you leaping to my defence, babe. That’s lovely, that is. I’d have thought you’d want to stick around and make sure no funny business goes on – I’m pretty hot, you know. Lou reckons he’s only got eyes for Harry, but I don’t think he’d say no to a chance to cop a feel, you know what I mean? I’m in demand!” Satisfied that he’d coaxed another weak smile out of her, Zayn muttered, “how did the bastard get her? I didn’t see him stab her –”

“Christ knows, but he got her good. We need to get her out of here –” Louis’ gaze flickered upwards and he hissed in triumph. “Skylight! Zayn, there’s a skylight! If I can get a field on that and break the glass, do you reckon you could fly her out of here on your own? I can give you another field for the first couple of minutes, but I don’t know what the range is; I couldn’t guarantee you more than seven or eight minutes before I’d lose concentration and the field would dissipate, and then you’d be on your own –”

“What do you mean? I can’t carry her out of here on my own, are you insane?” Zayn hissed. “I know she’s only little, but where the hell would I go?”

Liam and Niall were beside them too now; Liam determinedly helping Zayn to keep the bloody pocket lining firmly compressed against Eithne’s seeping stomach, along with Niall’s jacket that he’d hurriedly whipped off (“I don’t need it anyway, I don’t get cold anymore” he’d insisted nobly) while Niall let Eithne crush his hand and stared fearfully down at her, biting his lower lip so hard that they were all surprised his teeth didn’t go straight through it.

“Find the first phone box you come to, and call an ambulance,” ordered Louis, looking right into his eyes. “I’ll give you all the help I can, and the guys can come with you if they want, but I’m staying here. I need to find Harry. I’m sorry, but we came here for Harry, and I am not leaving without him, especially not after what Liam’s said. So make your decisions now, guys, but just bear in mind that it’ll be far easier for Zayn to levitate two people than four, and decide quickly, because not to be insensitive, but Harry needs me, and I’m not staying. You’ve got literally two minutes, and then I go.” He got to his feet, brushing his knees down, and his eyes burned as he looked regretfully down at Eithne, clearly feeling awful about abandoning her, but his allegiance to Harry defeated all of the ties he had to the girl, or to anyone, hands down.

Niall patted Eithne clumsily on the shoulder, then rose and went to stand beside Louis, looking pale but steely; clearly he had no intention of being part of the hospital party. He wasn’t about to let Louis go charging off to find Harry on his own!

“I’m with you,” he said. “Harry needs us. Let’s burn the bastards!”

Louis licked his lips and gave him a one-armed hug. “Thanks, Niall. But I’m not asking anyone to take sides, here – it’s not us and them, or anything like that,” he hastily clarified, “the only them is Felix, Deino and Cheren. But I’m staying to find Harry, and you guys need to get Eithne to hospital, so I’m sorry, Liam, but I have to ask – are you with us, or are you with Zayn?”

The decision was apparently harder for Liam than any of them; he stayed kneeling on the floor with indecision flashing across his face for more than a minute, while visions flashed across the insides of his eyelids, painting the future into his mind as he struggled to see which party he would be more helpful to. Eventually, he exhaled heavily, kissed Eithne on the cheek, leaned over her to hug Zayn, and then he joined Louis and Niall too, looking determined.

“I’d only slow you down,” he explained, “stopping every few seconds to scream about what’s going to happen in ten minutes – I’m the ultimate spoiler. People would hate me if I ever went to the cinema again. And I can’t control myself, so I’m going to be more use to Louis. At least I can tell these guys something useful, Zayn.”

“Right.” Zayn scooped Eithne up in his arms, bridal style, and held her for a couple of seconds, meeting all of their gazes with a reserved one of his own. “Well. This is it, then, I suppose.”

“No such luck. We’ll see you later, you tool.”

He snorted a laugh, and then his grip on Eithne tightened slightly and he looked up at the skylight which Louis was flexing his fingers at in preparation to break. “All right, then. See you in hell,” he said, and then a force field hit the glass window like a cannonball. There was a sound like screeching, like squeaky chalk on a blackboard as the glass shattered and dropped with a tinkle to the floor, sparkling like thousands of tiny knives, ready to cleave enormous holes in them if it fell in the right place, if it hit them at the worst possible angle. Niall, Liam and Louis leapt hastily backwards to avoid the falling glass, and encapsulated in a force field, Zayn and Eithne shot towards the ceiling, sailing straight through the gaping hole of the skylight and soaring out of sight.

“Shit,” Niall said shakily, and he breathed out a wobbly laugh, wiping his hands on his sweatpants. “And then there were three.”

“And then there were three,” Louis agreed, and he squeezed the blond boy’s wrist and hoped to God that they hadn’t just set eyes on Zayn Malik for the last time, and they were going to be able to find him again hopefully before too much time had passed.

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