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…


36. Chapter thirtysix.

His back hit the floor with a horrible crack and a wave of pain slamming straight through his shoulder-blades and filling the rest of him with pain, shocking him so much that his flames were extinguished instantly, and he choked and struggled for breath as he scrabbled for a handhold to pull himself into a sitting position with. The only thing he could be glad of was that at least having the breath knocked out of him had halted his own awful screaming.

He hadn’t meant to scream – in fact, he’d started off by making it a loud and hopefully menacing war-cry as he ran around the room being licked by flames, throwing clumsy fireballs at the right people and struggling to dodge an invisible boy, and a guy who could teleport in the blink of an eye and walk into walls – although both were trying to avoid him, which was something, at least. It made his job a little bit easier. But it was all kind of scary, really, which was why he’d ended up screaming his head off, and he was rather glad to have been stopped.

Still, that didn’t really answer the question of what on earth had collided with him hard enough to knock him several feet across the room, and if it was indeed Cheren, running at a ridiculous speed, why was he not screaming in agony having been set on fire through contact with Niall?

Niall got his answer when he spotted a pale-faced Liam looming over him, who reached out, looped his arm around Niall’s skinny shoulders and helped him to his feet so that they could both watch Louis, who was hurling force fields haphazardly around, making them bounce off the walls as he struggled to get lucky and catch one of the brothers in a conveniently placed field. As he was relying purely on the chance of a fluke, it wasn’t likely that he would succeed, but he looked furiously determined anyway, the fields flying from his fingers at an intensity that made Niall feel dizzy. When he spared his friends a quick glance, Louis saw the blond looking dazed and grimaced apologetically.

“Sorry!” he yelled over the sound of force fields bouncing off the walls, and the constant breeze that Cheren caused every time he whipped past, always gone long before making a grab for him could even occur to anyone.

Niall shrugged at him and then settled into a kind of fighting stance beside Liam like he was about to start doing martial arts, his fingers bursting into flames as he prepared to try and blindly start fighting again. This was one of the least brilliant ideas any of them had ever had, but he wasn’t going to give up. He just needed some way of working out where Felix and Cheren were 

“Liam?” he began urgently into Liam’s ear. “Liam, you told Eithne to move earlier and then you smacked Cheren over the head – how did you know he was there?”

At that moment, Louis chose to colourfully express his feelings with a variety of adjectives beginning with F, B and T to describe Cheren as he blew past in an invisible blur, so Liam had to raise his voice as he replied, “I saw myself doing it, so I knew where he was. If I hadn’t planned to do it, I wouldn’t have seen myself doing it, so it’s a pretty big paradox…why?”

Well, Niall would have been lying if he’d said that didn’t make his head spin, but he didn’t need to know the logistics as long as he knew the basics. “Well, I’m planning to set Cheren’s stupid tufty hair on fire, so if you could see where he was, that would be greatly appreciated!”

There was a short pause, and then Liam’s eyes fluttered closed and he said calmly, so softly Niall barely heard him, “Take a step backwards and then four to your right.”

Niall instantly hopped backwards, staggered in the direction indicated, and then he said a little prayer, whirled around and punched the air with one of his flaming hands in the hope that his clenched fist would collide with something.

He didn’t land a successful punch, nor had he honestly wanted to (the thought of setting someone on fire and watching them burn to death in agonizing agony made him feel incredibly sick) but he did manage to catch the back of Cheren’s jacket with one knuckle, feeling the fabric graze his hand, and then sparks danced between them and flames licked up the back of the garment, meaning that although they couldn’t see Cheren himself, they couldsee where he was judging by his jacket. And judging by his vicious swearing, Cheren could definitely feel that his jacket had been set on fire.

There, Louis!” called Niall, pointing at the flickering flames, and Louis instantly whirled towards them and tossed a force field in their direction, which missed Cheren by inches.

Swearing, Louis struggled to create another one, but Cheren danced nimbly out of the way of that one, too, and then he was shrugging out of his jacket and casting it onto the floor with a curse as he stamped on the flames to try and extinguish them. Sensing an advantage in Cheren’s distraction, Louis threw one more blind, panic-stricken field right at him in utter desperation.

By a sheer stroke of luck, the field hit him hard, and they all heard a loud, embarrassing grunt (‘Urgh!’) of surprise fly out of the boy’s mouth as he went down, hitting the floor face first, where he flickered into view and lay there groaning, apparently giving up on everything and forsaking escape for just lying there, drowning in a pool of his own embarrassment and soaking up humiliation like a sponge.

Like a madman, Niall yelled “GET HIM!” as he leapt up and down, pumping his fist and huffing and puffing like a forty year old man at a football match, and Louis was all too happy to oblige. In seconds, Cheren found himself trapped in the centre of a force field around the size of a mini cooper, and apparently noticing the transfer, he sat up, realized what had just happened and his mouth twisted as he rent the air with a selection of choice swearwords, shaking his fist and pummelling the walls of the field with his free hand and his feet. Understandably, Louis took great vindictive pleasure in seeing him trapped like that, and even more pleasure in sending several more force fields towards the one he had trapped Cheren in so that they knocked together, bouncing wildly around and shaking him around like a cat inside a washing machine. He yelled and threatened them at the top of his voice, but Louis laughed all of it off; they all knew full well that he had the black-haired teen right where he wanted him, and his sense of humour was rapidly waning. The smile slid off his face, his eyes tightened, and he stepped forwards to knock on the surface of the force field in the way people are not supposed tap on the glass of the enclosures to wake the animals, but do anyway – only with that rare talent Louis had of being viciously sarcastic and incredibly sassy, he managed to make it ten times more aggravating and even a little insulting.

“Look, boys,” he said coolly, “we’ve got ourselves a bargaining chip.”

Having apparently realized that he was gaining nothing with his aggression and Louis was in full control of the situation, Cheren visibly slumped and then irritably sat down in the bottom of the force field, folding his arms so that his baggy sleeves fell loosely around his hands. “I don’t know what your game is, but it won’t work. Bargaining chip – ha! They won’t swap me for anything, you ought to know that by now.”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t be so smug about it; the fact that your own brother doesn’t care enough to consider bargaining with your captors and that you’ll freely admit it isn’t really very funny, is it? It must be lonely, only getting close to people because they’re useful.” Liam said.

Cheren’s expression curled into a scowl. “I have priorities.” He looked a little bit woozy, and Niall decided to draw attention to it, just to make him uncomfortable.

“Are you all right in there, man? You look a bit green,” he said loudly.

“Shut up,” Cheren muttered, clutching his stomach, “I get claustrophobia.”

That was enough to make Niall feel sorry for him, suffering from the condition himself, but Louis had no such experience, and remained unrelentingly merciless. “Tell you what, let’s play a little game. You give us a bit of information, and we’ll see about making your enclosure a little bigger. If you start bullshitting us, then the size will considerably decrease. Wanna play? Come on,” he said icily, “don’t be a spoil sport.” And the edges of the field flared menacingly as if to emphasize his point.

Cheren warily eyed the edges of the field, cautiously probing a small section of the inside with his fingers, before he wrinkled his nose and seemed to withdraw slightly, shrinking away from the walls of the bubble. “I don’t suppose I have much choice, do I?”

“Nope,” Louis agreed cheerfully, “none whatsoever.” Niall was beginning to feel a little bit bad about this whole coercion thing, and even Liam looked a bit uncomfortable, his mouth twisting with something rather like regret, but Louis was enjoying himself; this was his little bit of payback, for Eithne and Zayn, for himself, and for Harry most of all. From what Liam had said, Harry was in horrific agony, or would be before all too long, and that was Cheren’s fault – his, and his obnoxious little brother’s, and not forgetting Deino’s, or course. Louis was going to make him pay for that. “Now, we’ll start with an easy one.” His voice hardened as he demanded, “where’s Harry?”

Surly as usual, Cheren raised an eyebrow defiantly, and then snorted, right in Louis’ face. “Well, there’s a deal-breaker for you right there. You must be even stupider than you look if you think I’m telling you that.”

“Yeah, like you have any choice in the matter,” snapped Louis, his tone like an elastic band pinging viciously against someone’s fingers – Cheren flinched at the sound like Louis had taken the metaphorical elastic band and snapped it right against his face. “Your residence is about to be rather significantly downsized if you don’t start talking pretty quick.” The force field began slowly but visibly receding as Louis’ fingers constricted, millimetres at a time, twisting in on themselves so that the bubble folded inwards, crumpling like a ball of paper and shrinking to the smaller size that Louis indicated.

It could only have gotten three or four inches smaller before Cheren lost his cool and started shrieking “All right! All right! I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, just stop doing that, for Christ’s sake, I’ll suffocate if you make it any smaller!”

Drama Queen, Louis thought condescendingly, but he halted the shrinking process as promised. “Start talking, or it’s going to get an awful lot more cramped in there than it is right now, you get my drift?”

Cheren whined – yes, whined! – and shifted miserably about, but he obediently rattled off, “We’ve got him in a small room near the back of the building, working on a list of minds to modify; some of our operations have been, shall we say…not clumsy, but handled a little less smoothly than we would like, and we have some people’s mouths that keep running off and need sorting out. We set him to work on that some time yesterday evening; to my knowledge he’s still there.”


With a flutter, the field withdrew in on itself a good two inches more, and Cheren squealed like a little girl, hands instinctively flying out and landing on the walls of the bubble as if he could push them out again, recoiling at the horrible buzzing sensation they gave on the palms of his hands in response. Clearly the insides of force fields do not appreciate being excessively touched, if Cheren’s frantic shoving could even be called that. It sounded far too calm a term bearing in mind his blind panic, the way he was desperately lashing out.

“No, no, it’s the truth! It’s the truth, I swear, I’m not lying, you have to believe me, please, I’m telling the truth, please, oh god don’t, please, you have to believe me it’s the truth I swear,” Cheren all but sobbed.

“I know, I was just checking to see if the story stayed consistent or whether you blurted out the actual truth in response to a little duress,” Louis explained mildly, the field blossoming under his command, and Cheren shuddered heavily in relief with every inch that it grew.

“You’re an absolute fucker, do you know that?” he said furiously.

Louis seemed to take it as a compliment; his whole face lit up with delight. “I had heard the rumour,” he said conversationally, “although one could argue the same for you. Now, are there any more of you? Because I don’t like nasty surprises, and if you and your knob-job of a brother turn out to be triplets and there’s another one of you nasty pieces of work floating around, I want to know about it now. Likewise; allies of any kind, give me a list.”

“Harry,” Cheren sneered, looking ridiculously pleased with himself, like he thought that was going to strike a significant blow to Louis’ esteem. “He’s with us, now – obeys every word we say without question. He’ll turn your minds into mush with one word from me!”

“Dream on,” Louis told him shortly, “the only word Harry ever obeys is his own. Or possibly his mum’s. He’s been sabotaging you from the moment he joined you, and he might not have done as thorough a job as any of us would have liked, but it was most definitely a start, so if that’s the best thing you’ve got to throw at us, consider me sorely disappointed. I was expecting something far more impressive than a double-agent who just so happens to be double crossing the opposite side to the one you thought he was.”

There was a rather nasty silence as Cheren contemplated that.

While they were all watching his thoughts churning away underneath the surface, a frown plastered across his face, they were all too busy keeping their eye on the boy safely contained in the force field to think about the one who wasn’t.

Of course, it was Liam who realized what was going to happen first, but as he turned with his mouth falling open to warn Niall, a hand reached straight through the back of his head, which was quite possibly the most disgusting sensation he’d ever experienced. It didn’t hurtexactly, but he could feel Felix’s long fingers twitching around inside him as the younger boy poked his hand right through Liam’s face and covered his mouth, his wrist and part of his arm still sticking through Liam’s head. In disgust, Liam bit down hard on his fingers, and Felix stamped on his foot in outrage as a response, but with a pale hand shoved into his mouth, Liam wasn’t really in a position to be yelling out warnings.

Niall turned to glance at Liam, looked away, did a double take and then stared at him in utter revulsion. Being the sadistic moron that he was, Felix obviously thought it would be funny to take his hand out of Liam’s mouth and give Niall an obnoxious, sarcastic little wave; a flutter of his fingers that made the blood vanish from Liam’s face as his stomach did back-flips of nausea at the sight of several waving fingers sticking out of his own face in front of him.

Well, Niall had never been one to downplay his own emotions, especially not horror, so the notion of staying calm and not panicking was not one that he had ever been adept at. Which was why with a yelp of horror, he burst into flames right in front of them; a crackling, leaping inferno almost twice his own height flared up around him in his shock, his own instant defence mechanism that could do more harm than good but that he couldn’t control particularly well anyway, let alone when he was this freaked out.

It had all been planned; perhaps the execution was not as smooth as had been intended, but nonetheless, it had been planned. Because as Niall shook himself desperately in an attempt to extinguish the flames that nobody but Liam (who knew from future experience) never really realized were his greatest weakness as much as they were his greatest asset.

Noiseless in her bright pink ballet flats, far more suitable for this particular operation than the six-inch heels she usually wore, Deino had crept up unnoticed on Niall. When Louis turned towards the commotion and his mouth fell open in surprise, it was far too late for him to stop Deino from giving a wicked, scarlet-coated grin and emptying a bucket of water right over Niall’s head.

The agonized screech that the Irish boy made clawed at all of their ears as the flames extinguished with a hiss, leaving him standing in a patch of blackened floor looking shell-shocked and pale, with his eyes dazed and expression twisted with pain. Apart from the somewhat gentler method of Louis’ fields, nobody had ever extinguished Niall by force before, and apparently it hurt. He whimpered, stared beseechingly at Liam and then dropped to his knees, hands raking on the ground as a low cry was tugged from his lips.

For a moment or so, they all watched him scrabbling helplessly on the floor as if he’d lost something, looking like he’d been smashed over the head with a sledgehammer and making little weak mewling noises like an injured animal. It was when he gave up on patting the ground, slid to the floor and lay down with his eyes closed, his breathing laboured and shallow as if she’d done him some kind of awful harm with the water (which quite possibly she had) that Liam lost his temper.

Violence wasn’t Liam’s way, and the only force he needed was for grabbing her by one bony white wrist and yanking her towards him with a livid expression plastered across his usually friendly face. She squeaked in surprise as he reeled her in like a fish, pressed his lips to her ear and whispered so quietly that nobody else had a chance of hearing.

Her dark eyes widened as he whispered on, and by the time he pulled away and warily wiped his mouth as if even having it near her earlobe could give him some foul disease, Deino was shaking all over. Now, her eyes narrowed suspiciously as she glared at him, her hands clenched into tight fists. She was torn between panic and desperate, angry denial.

“And how do I know you’re telling the truth?” she demanded.

Liam’s faced stayed impressively blank as he told her, “Melanie blames you for it, you know. Your disappearance. She says that was what started the depression. And when you go to the funeral and queue up at the doors with everybody else, she grabs a handful of your hair and pulls it and starts screeching about what a dirty slutty failure you are, and starts a scene right there over the coffin. Just like you know would have been the opposite of what she wanted.” There was a horrified pause as Deino’s hand flew to her mouth, and then he said a little less harshly, “They won’t let you into the church, you know. Not after you make a scene like that. ‘It’s better for everyone’, they’ll say, ‘if you stay away’. You won’t get to pay your last respects.”

Deino gave a low, aching sob with her hands over her face just as Louis snatched the bucket out of her hand and brought it smashing down on her head, so that she crumpled to the floor. She didn’t even cry out. For once, she was reasonably dignified as she dropped to the ground and landed on her stomach, face turned to the left. Liam grimly grabbed Niall by the arm and helped him to his feet while Louis threateningly whirled the bucket over his head, one hand still outstretched with his fingers splayed outwards, keeping the field in place.

“Nobody move, or I’ll finish her off.”

The twins’ faces were even paler than usual; ashen, almost. “You wouldn’t,” Felix said uncertainly, although he made no move to try and take the bucket from Louis. “You’re one of the good guys. You’d never kill anyone. You wouldn’t dare.”

“Wouldn’t I? I told the love of my life that he was the most disgusting creature I’d ever set eyes on, rejected everything he’d done for me and made him so desperate that he felt he had to leave, and even after I’d done that, he came and offered himself to you tossers because he was so desperate to protect me. I’m going to repay that favour and get him back if it’s the last thing I do, and I have no intention of letting anything or anyone stand in my way, so if I were you, I’d reconsider that statement very carefully.” He threateningly raised the bucket over Deino’s motionless body. “I’m going to ask you again: wouldn’t I?”

Liam turned white at the sound echoing inside his head of Deino’s skull cracking horribly between the floor and Louis’ bucket and he gripped the shaking Niall by the arm so hard that he flinched as he realized that although it hadn’t happened yet, Louis most definitely would.

Cheren realized it, too; he had gone a nasty shade of green. “He means it, Lix,” he said hoarsely. “He would. And he wouldn’t regret it for a moment.”

For a moment, Felix struggled to figure out his next course of action. With his brother restrained and the girl unconscious on the floor, he was going to have to do this on his own, and he didn’t much like the odds – or the responsibility of having Deino’s life in his hands.

His tongue flickered out to wet his lips, startlingly pink compared to the rest of him; he had gone extremely white at the new turn of events. “What do you want?”

“We’re going to do a little deal,” Louis told him calmly. His fingers flexed meaningfully on the handle of the bucket. “Tell us where Harry is. Make no attempt to stop us from finding him. And in return, I won’t bash her brains out and I’ll give you back your brother. If not, there’s going to be a brain milkshake on the floor and I’ll cut off the air flow into the force field and suffocate him. Death by asphyxiation – nice, right?” He scrutinized Felix’s appalled expression. “Your choice.”

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